31 October 2008

I Voted Today

This evening after work, I went and cast my early ballot at the Mesa early voting location. When I say that, however, it's important to grasp the full meaning of those words. I did not simply walk into the elections office, grab a ballot, and turn it in. I stood in line. For four hours. I didn't mind it so much because I didn't have anything I was doing tonight (a bit sad really, Friday night, Halloween, and I was early voting...). Now, I'm all about democracy and the need of the indivdual to vote, but really, I don't honestly blame those people who decided to leave and potentially not cast a ballot at all because the line was nearly as bad as the one to get in to see "Star Wars Episode III" on opening night. I am kind of partial to the idea of getting rid of this early balloting and instituting "Election Week" in the country rather than this mess of early voting, mail-in voting, and Election Day (singular) voting. Make it a week, and everyone who wants to vote will have ample time to do so. But anyway, I voted, got my sticker, and have all my free time on Tuesday to help out with Election Day activities where I can. I can't wait to see the results!

29 October 2008

Phillies Defeat Rays

Tonight, the Philadelphia Phillies are World Champions of Baseball after they finally won the World Series 4 games to 1 this evening, overtaking the Tampa Bay Rays in the city of brotherly love. I say finally only because game 5 of the Series was actually delayed by about 46 hours due to rain. Technically speaking, the game was "suspended" under a new baseball rule that only took effect in 2007 which states that a game which must be called due to weather, technical failure, etc., and which has met certain qualifications (like the away team ties or changes the lead in the top half of an inning and the home team does not get a chance to bat), will be suspended until such time as that game can be rescheduled and started from the point at which it was suspended. Because on Monday, the rain got so bad during the middle of the sixth inning (actually, they probably shouldn't have even started the game, but whatever) and the Rays had just tied the score at 2-2, without the Phillies having a chance to bat in the bottom of the sixth, the game was suspended until 5:30pm Arizona time today and restarted in the bottom of the sixth. Brad Lidge, if you're curious, got his (still perfect) 7th postseason save for the Phillies, and Pedro Feliz knocked through the winning run in the 7th inning (second inning of play tonight).

27 October 2008

The "Arizona Republic" Endorses Jeff Flake

Thought I'd post this for your enjoyment, along with a letter to the editor I wrote in response below:
Flake a good fit for East Valley Oct. 27, 2008

Even the worst storms leave pockets of undisturbed calm . . . isolated spots amid the wreckage left untouched by the devastating winds.

That pretty much describes the 2008 election season for Rep. Jeff Flake, R-District 6. Opportunistic Democrats are pouring millions into formerly safe Republican congressional districts, seeking to maximize the anticipated rout of the GOP this year.

But Flake's East Valley district? Well, even this crazy election isn't crazy enough to render the conservative Flake vulnerable in one of the West's most conservative congressional districts.

Conservative with a healthy dollop of libertarian, Jeff Flake is a good fit for District 6. The Republic recommends that district voters do exactly as they seem inclined to do, which is to return Flake to Congress.

Flake is opposed by Democrat Rebecca Schneider, and Libertarian Party candidate Rick Biondi. Schneider is an earnest political neophyte. Biondi, meanwhile, freely admits that there are "very few actions (Flake) has taken that I wouldn't take myself," thus negating any meaningful rationale for ousting the incumbent.

Consistently wary of government intrusion, Flake has never been an easy vote for the Bush administration. He managed to insert six amendments into the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. He will continue to argue persistently for free trade, even with the likes of Cuba. And, as always, we expect Flake will continue to shine a light on inappropriate federal spending.

The Republic recommends District 6 voters retain Republican Jeff Flake for Congress.

Letter to the Editor: "Dear "Republic" Editorial Board, "I was very happy to see that the Republic has endorsed Congressman Jeff Flake for re-election in Congressional District 6. As a newly graduated College Republican from Flagstaff, I have worked with Congressman Flake's campaign in the past and in the present, and I know him to be not only an upstanding citizen and a leader for my district, but a traditional conservative as well - something of a rarity in today's political climate. "From his stand against government waste to his Goldwater-esque stance on limited government power, Jeff Flake represents what the Republican Party used to be known for, and what it must embrace again for the future if our country is to continue to prosper. "Thank you, Arizona Republic Editorial Board, for remembering that the best leaders in Congress aren't always the ones who conform to outdated Washington norms, but who instead try to make government work for "we the people." Jeff Flake is just such a tried and true leader, and the people of the sixth district would be sorely remiss if they did not return him to Congress come November 4th. Andrew Meeusen"

25 October 2008

Reading List

I'm finally finishing up with "The Eight" by Katherine Neville, and I'm looking forward to my new books yet to be read: "The Last Oracle" by James Rollins "Painting the Map Red" by Hugh Hewitt "Legend" by the guy who wrote "Event" "The Execution Channel" that I checked out of the library Also, I kind of want to get "The Fire" by Neville, to see if her sequel to "The Eight" stacks up.

24 October 2008

Meeting Jeff Flake

Yesterday evening, Congressman Jeff Flake went to the Arizona State University College Republicans' meeting to speak about the election and the upcoming opportunities the CRs would have to volunteer to keep Arizona a red state (whereas it is currently purple trending royal blue). I also attended, both to meet the congressman and to see the ASUCRs, whom I had not seen in a couple years since Junior year of college. So, making a long story short, I did finally meet Congressman Flake, who is a very cool guy, even though he semi-not-really-referred to me as "John Murtha" while talking about the manner in which earmarks are appropriated! The CRs also seemed to enjoy having him there, and definitely enjoyed his jokes and being able to ask him some questions about earmarks, banking, and the propositions here in Arizona. I'm way glad I have the opportunity to work on his campaign, and I hope I'll be a part of his work in the future!

21 October 2008

Walter Cronkite

This evening I attended the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication's forum on the First Amendment, in celebration of Freedom Week. It was your basic panel discussion, with panelists from the Tuscon news media, Arizona Republic, Justice Andrew Hurwitz from the Arizona Supreme Court, and an attorney whose name I didn't quite catch except to say it was David. They discussed the first amendment to the Constitution as it pertains to journalism, specifically freedom of speech and of the press, and how it is becoming a challenge to keep up standards of ethical journalism in a time when mass communications (think blogs) disseminate much more unverified information than ever before. The basic tenet I, as an outside, non-journalism non-student took away from it was "the ends of the story do not necessarily justify the means to collect the information in it." Truth be told, I honestly think the forum, though advertised online for anyone to attend, was meant mostly for ASU journalism majors. I was hoping for more of a discussion of the original intent of the amendment and its political manifestations in modern times, but alas, I was harangued!

A Shout Out

Happy Anniversary, Scott and Abigail!

19 October 2008

Rays Win!

The Rays beat the Red Sox tonight in the decisive 7th game of the American League Championship Series, and will face the Phillies on Wednesday evening in the 2008 World Series! The game was a classic pitchers' duel, with John Lester (BOS) and Matt Garza (TB) combining for only 8 hits and 4 runs between them in the 3:31 game. After Dustin Pedroia (BOS) hit a first-inning big fly over the wall in left to give the Sox the lead, you had the sense that things might only go downhill from there, but Garza settled in, giving up merely 1 hit and 3 walks in his next 6 2/3 innings of work while striking out 9. The big game-changing moment for me, when I was absolutely certain the Rays had won it came in the 8th inning when Kevin Youkilis fouled off the fifth pitch of the at-bat for a full count. He ended up walking, but I somehow just absolutely knew that the Rays were going to win. I guess my curse worked!

18 October 2008


So for those of you who might regularly read my blog (all three of you lol!), you've probably heard that I won a radio contest called the Two-Minute Drill from AM 620 KTAR sports radio for a trip to any football game's city and tickets to the game playing on 10/12/2008. I chose to go to Tampa, Florida and see the Panthers-Buccaneers game. Here's what we did on the trip!
At 9am on Saturday, my dad and I boarded our nonstop flight to Tampa. Southwest Airlines does not have very good seating, may I say, though the flight itself wasn't that bad. I just happen to be a large person, and it's less than easy fitting in a tin can with seatbelts! But nonetheless, we got to Tampa just fine, checked into our hotel, the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, and immediately left for Tropicana Field to see if we could score some (relatively) cheapish tickets to the ALCS Game 2 between the Red Sox and Rays.
Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay at dusk

At Tropicana Field for Game 2 of the ALCS

I won't tell you how much the tickets cost, but suffice it to say that I was glad I'd just been paid the previous day! The game itself was GREAT! And LONG. It was a 9-8 Rays victory over 11 innings and 5 1/2 hours. The game started at 8:07 pm EST and ended at 1:37 am EST! After the flight and the game, I was definitely ready for bed! The next day, we got up fairly early, had our complementary continental breakfast (from a hotel costing $200 a night, continental breakfast is GOOD!) and went to Raymond James Stadium, home of the Buccaneers. We were seated in front of the big (and quite unique) pirate ship on the North end of the stadium, about 8 rows off of field level. Every time the Bucs scored, big loud cannons would fire from the ship, rocking the stadium and just about deafening me and dad!

The game was a good shellacking of the Panthers, with the final score ending up as 27-3 Bucs. I saw my first in-person blocked punt on the first drive of the game, and one of the Buccaneers was called for "unsportsmanlike conduct" after cartwheeling (yes, cartwheeling) off the field after having intercepted a pass!

The only downfall was that the stadium was open-air and REALLY hot (see: humid). Suffice it to say that I got quite nicely sunburned. But it was definitely a fun and unique experience!

Pregame at RJ Stadium with the pirate ship behind me The famous Tampa Bay Buccaneers' cheerleaders!

During halftime at RJS

After the game, we drove down and over the Sunshine Skyway toll bridge south of St. Petersburg, because my dad wanted to see it - it's a cool bridge, actually. It's a suspension bridge where all the weight of the bridge is carried on two superstrong pillers, supported by high-tension cables trailing down to the roadway level. (See photo below) It was actually hit by a boat in 1980 and destroyed, and they rebuilt it this way:

We also did the obligatory stop at St. Pete's beaches, driving up the Gulf coast from the Sunshine Skyway to Clearwater, FL. There, where it had been sunny and bright all day, it suddenly turned stormy, and I caught this beautiful photo of one of the Tampa bridges and causeways out on the edge of Tampa Bay:

That night, we ate at Bahama Breeze, a restaurant overlooking the bay, and I got something called a paiella, basically cajun-style rice with Creole spices, Tampa Bay scallops, mussels, shrimp, chicken, and other goodies. It was delicious! The next day, we checked out of the Hyatt fairly early, and spent much of the day at the Florida Aquarium, which I will elaborate on in another post probably tomorrow.

But it was really a great trip, and I had so much fun! (Now I'm about to go see if the Rays can finish off the Red Sox in Game 6 of the ALCS!)

16 October 2008


In light of the Rays rather devastating loss to the "Comeback Kings" of the Red Sox this evening, I would like to announce that I, Andrew Meeusen, Lover of Baseball and Longtime Arizona Diamondbacks Fan, do hereby and henceforth place a new curse upon the Boston Red Sox lasting for a period of one decade from October 16, 2008 to October 16, 2018 that during this time they shall not again win an American League Championship Series. Boston fans, consider thyselves cursed!

15 October 2008

The 3rd Debate

While I know I promised Florida, my pictures aren't available yet, so you'll all just have to settle for my take on Debate Part III! McCain Positives: 1. On the attack, McCain actually looked ALIVE in a debate for the first time. 2. McCain actually stuck to many of the issues instead of beating 'round the bush. McCain Negatives: 1. He is a BAD public speaker. He rivals President Bush, because where the president just isn't eloquent, McCain is actually just plain erratic-sounding. Ever read "Don Quixote de la Mancha?" McCain sounds like he, too, is tilting at windmills. 2. He seemed to devolve from enthusiasm and offensive attacks showcasing his drive and determination to do well tonight into a bitterness and cynicism that we have come to expect to see from his campaign over the last few weeks as his poll numbers have slipped. 3. The pundits are saying that he made a big gaffe when he dismissively shrugged off questions "about the life of the mother" in abortion policy and Roe v. Wade. I don't know about that. The people that care about that particular line were never going to vote for McCain anyway. I just thought I'd pass that info along. 4. "Let me tell you" and "Let me say this" and "Let me show you" are all McCain phrases that get REALLY old the third time after he gets asked a question or asked to respond to Obama. Obama Positives: 1. Sounded calm, cool, collected, and - dare I say - presidential. Specifically when dealing with the economy, McCain seemed to be trying to relate to the "anger" of the populace, while Obama tried to portray a leader who is calm in the face of an impending challenge. I'd say he pulled it off. 2. Did NOT attack McCain and Palin back on a number of random charges. He could have, and it probably would've been just fine, but as a taxpaying voter, I have to admit a certain appreciation for Obama's sticking to the issues for the most part. 3. Explained his positions fully and at a level for the "Regular Joe the Plumber." Even when they weren't on issues (see: William Ayers, ACORN, etc). Even though some of the stuff he said was full of [insert expletive here], he talked it down and made it understandable and positive-sounding. Obama Negatives: 1. Not delivering a knockout punch. He could have, but he didn't. It leaves at least a glimmer of hope for a McCain Miracle. Big Gaffes: 1. For McCain, while the pundits say his big gaffe was made on abortion, I think his all-around worst mistake was to take on an air of anger in both his tone and his demeanor. He started off as an angry guy wanting to affect change and eventually devolved into a cynical old man who couldn't string together his words. Best Line: "Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." - John McCain (Seriously, now, this was without question the best line of all three presidential debates.) Who Won the Debate: 1. As far as anything else goes, I think Joe the Plumber won the debate fairly easily. I mean, both campaigns talked with him and about him, and he was mentioned more than any other single issue was if my count is correct. How can he NOT be at least A winner? 2. The winner of the debate between McCain and Obama is most likely McCain. Even though Obama did well, he only performed at a consistant level with his other two appearances. McCain NEEDED a home run tonight, and though his performance was dottery and quixotic, he performed at his highest level of the three debates. If I could, I'd give it a tie.

14 October 2008

Updates Soon

So, I'm now back from Florida and I wanted to make sure to get up a new post soon, but I've been busy, not to mention tired from the weekend. Suffice it to say for now that it was a GREAT trip! I'll post more details on what my dad and I did in Tampa probably tomorrow. Stay tuned, sports fans!

09 October 2008

My Super Busy (and Super Fun) Weekend

This weekend, by which I mean Friday-Monday, I am going to be SUPER busy having loads of fun on a variety of different projects. Here's a rundown: Friday: Fundraiser for Rep. Adams in LD-19 featuring former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. I am helping with volunteer coordination, registration, and whatever else needs to be done. Four CRs will also be there from ASU as my volunteers, so that should be good times! Saturday: Fly out of Phoenix at 9am and arrive in Tampa, FL around 4pm EST. Then, I'm going to try to catch the Red Sox-Rays game that night at 8:07 EST, though I might not be able to if I can't find any cheap tickets by start time. Either way, I'll check out the stadium! Sunday: I plan on going to the beach in the morning and checking out the Atlantic Ocean, since I've never actually been to the Atlantic before. (The two closest times were when I was in Washington, DC and in England/France, but I never actually got to go to the ocean. Then at 1:00pm EST, I have free tickets to see the Panthers and Buccaneers game, courtesy the radio station. The Buccaneers' stadium is pretty darn cool, nicknamed the "Crown Jewel of the NFL." My seats are right down by field level in front of the famous Pirate Ship in the north end zone. After the game, I am not sure what we'll be doing, but I do plan to try to explore some of Tampa!
The Pirate Ship

Info: (from www.raymodjames.com/stadium/stadium_facts.htm) "The same company that produces props for Walt Disney World created the mighty pirate ship that is permanently harbored in Buccaneer Cove. The pirate ship comes to life after the Buccaneers score a field goal or touchdown. Its loud cannons fire seven times to signal a touchdown and three to announce a field goal. The pirate ship is an authentic replica of an early 1800s pirate ship, arguably one of the most recognizable stadium features in the world. It is 103 feet long with huge 32x50 foot sails."

Monday: The flight back is at 4pm EST, so we have most of the day to explore the area and see what's around. We land back in Phoenix around 5:30pm MST having gained an additional three hours or so that we had lost when we flew out. The only downfall: the flight is nonstop, so I'm sure I'll get antsy being stuck on a plane for 4 hours. I guess it'll be great opportunity to catch up on some reading. I just got a new book called "Painting the Map Red" by Hugh Hewitt, and I need to finish "Legend," the second Event Group thriller. Tuesday: Back to work! Hopefully I'll have pics and recap of my trip up on the blog here by then, so definitely check it out!

07 October 2008

Going to Florida

So, less than 24 hours after I was involved in a car accident which just took my week off to a soaring (sarcasm) start, I won a trip to Florida - airfare, two nights in the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in a room overlooking the bay, and tickets to Sunday's Carolina Panthers-Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game from AM 620 KTAR radio. For those of you (Max) who want more details, I was sitting at home getting ready for work when the phone rang. It was my dad, telling me I had about 2 minutes to call the radio station to claim a prize. I didn't know what prize, or even when I had signed up for a contest, but I called in anyway, verified who I was, and was put on the air with Gambo and Ash from the morning sports radio talk show. They told me I was the winner of the 2-Minute Drill contest, where they would call a name from those people who had signed up as AM 620 All-Stars, and if and when that person called within a few minutes of that announcement, they'd win a trip to any NFL stadium of their choice in the country playing this Sunday to go fly out and see the game! However, if the person couldn't make up their mind within 2 minutes (hence the Drill part), then the radio hosts would pick the game (probably a pretty crappy matchup in some cold, drizzly city) that the person would win. Fortunately, I was of enough sound mind to pick probably the best game going on this Sunday between the Panthers and Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida! So this weekend (fly out Saturday morning, fly back Monday afternoon) I will be lounging by the beach, catching the game (end zone near the Buccaneers' famed pirate ship, 8th row), and seeing Florida since I've never been there - all paid for except the rental car! And because there were 2 tickets, I'm taking my dad, since he was kind enough to let me know I needed to call the station, otherwise I'd have never known about it! I'll be certain to post pics when I get back for all my blog fans!

Presidential Debate #2

While I know quite well that my posting on the Vice-Presidential debate was long and rather analytical (by which I mean that many of my work-weary friends didn't read all of it), I promise to keep my recap of the second Presidential debate to a shorter length! What McCain Did Well: - The town hall format is HIS format, and he was certainly natural speaking to the audience without the restrictions of a podium. - He articulated his positions effectively to the crowd and clarified his record nicely on a number of recently challenged points. - He spoke about the economic "crisis" without sounding like either a moldy history professor or a communications major in a senior-level accounting course. What Obama Did Well: - He kept pace with McCain in all of the debate questions. - He answered every question fully without jumping off on a lot of tangents. - He spoke about foreign policy well, and very nicely pointed out the differences in his plans for the Middle East and Russia versus McCain's plans. - He didn't attack McCain, but rather let his words on the issues point out stark contrasts between the two men. What McCain Did Poorly On: - He didn't want to stay in his seat when not speaking. - I personally disagree with his "lets have government buy up the mortgage debts and renegotiate them" plan, and I think it is far too neo-conservative a plan for this election cycle. We need a candidate to reign in government control over our property, not extend it. - He failed to answer questions on economic policy, tax policy, and climate change. Instead, he generically spoke about the problems involved in each, and pointed out his record of bipartisanship. I wasn't impressed. What Obama Did Poorly On: - Not abiding by the rules of the debate, which did not allow for rebuttals between candidates on questions. Major Gaffes: - McCain: Government control over mortgage debt - Obama: No major gaffes Best Line: "It's like nailin' Jello to the wall!" - John McCain Style: McCain: Looked like a Commander-in-Chief. Obama: Looked like a President well equipped to look objectively at a situation and utilize his resources to solve problems. Who Won the Debate? - Barack Obama Why? - While both candidates did very well and outperformed my expectations, because the bar was set so much lower for Obama, and because he was able to keep pace with McCain while clearly articulating himself and his positions, I believe he is the winner of this debate. His answers were clear, concise, directed to the question rather than the opposing candidate, and identifiable to the "mainstream American" viewer. ------------------------------------- I'm not really sure how the Republican ticket can recover from three debates so far in which the Democratic candidate has at least kept pace with the Republican candidate, in some areas outperforming the Republican candidate. McCain will need a very clear win in the third debate.

06 October 2008


For the second time in roughly three weeks, I was nearly killed - this time in a car accident in Mesa on my way back to work from the post office. Okay, maybe that's a little bit of hyperbole.... I wasn't actually almost killed, but I was hit by a young woman who crossed over about 7 lanes of traffic in order to turn into my lane - with me in it! Don't worry, though. I'm fine, she was fine, and my car still works, there are just several new deep scratches and dents in the driver's door that weren't there before.
My car
Her car

03 October 2008

My VP Debate Analysis

I know some of my friends are going to think me an idiot, but this is what I got out of last night's VP debate: (I wrote this last night as a Facebook note, so I've just reproduced it here) This evening was the Vice-Presidential Debate between Governor Sarah Palin (R) and Senator Joseph Biden (D). While a lot of people on Facebook and in the mainstream media are quick to point out who "won" the debate, most people who aren't super-political don't really know what "winning a debate" entails. From my few years being actively involved with politics and the many debates I've watched and analyzed with my friends and colleagues, I wanted to share my thoughts on the Biden-Palin debate. Disclaimer: All opinions and statements are my own and are not necessarily indicative of support for any candidate or campaign. All statements are subjective in nature and are not meant to be a comprehensive description of what to look for in a political debate, but rather guidelines for watching and understanding. Finally, please do not reproduce the writing herein contained unless done so in a full and unabridged format with my name as citation. All quotes used below are from CNN.com's debate transcript. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- First, it is important to discern in any type of political conversation what the goal of the discourse is for each party or person. What objective does each person have to attain to consider their night a "win" and claim victory? In the Presidential debate of a few nights ago, Senator McCain's objective was to both make himself look and sound new and exciting and to display his extensive set of knowledge on foreign policy matters, and Senator Obama's goal was to try to be able to show the public that he could hold his own against McCain in foreign policy. Tonight, Governor Palin's challenge was to (1) make up for the poor showing in interviews that she recently had with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric and (2) to reconnect with the independent voters and the Republican base that she excited during the Republican convention but whom have of late been seeing her as a liability to McCain's campaign. Senator Biden's big challenge was simply not to "put his foot in his mouth" while talking. Obviously, Governor Palin had the bigger challenge. How did each candidate do in meeting their goals? Governor Palin was bold in many of her statements, at times was downright "folksy," and often aimed at connecting specifically with middle-class America. She upheld Senator McCain as a maverick and a strong leader, and stuck to straightforward Republican talking points on most of the issues. Overall, I think she probably accomplished most of what she was going for in terms of message and interpersonal relations with the people sitting in their La-Z-Boys watching the debate. Senator Biden, as pretty much any pundit will tell you on tomorrow's morning news, achieved his goal of not committing any "gaffes" during the debate, and did his job as the VP candidate of both strongly supporting his candidate while pointing out the flaws of Senator McCain and Governor Palin and making himself look like he is ready to take over for Obama should anything happen. The second thing to pay attention to in the debates is the quality of their responses. Candidates' answers should be within the time limits prescribed by the moderator, be relatively understandable for an average person, and should seek to answer the questions presented. In this regard, my opinion is that Senator Biden won hands down. He spoke fairly concisely throughout each question, addressed the question at hand, and didn't spend the whole time pandering. From the very first question about the bailout bill "was this the worst of Washington or the best of Washington that we saw..." Senator Biden first answered the question - "I think it's neither the best or worst of Washington, but it's evidence of the fact that the economic policies of the last eight years have been the worst economic policies we've ever had" - and then discussed how to fix the problem through Obama's four basic criteria for his ideal version of a rescue plan. Governor Palin, on the other hand, using the same question, said "I think a good barometer here, as we try to figure out has this been a good time or a bad time in America's economy, is go to a kid's soccer game on Saturday, and turn to any parent there on the sideline and ask them, 'How are you feeling about the economy'" and began talking about McCain being the agent of reform, but not addressing the problem. In at least one instance, the Governor was stopped mid-sentance by the moderator for exceeding the time limitations, and in several instances, she failed to address the questions at all, instead telling the moderator during a question on a bankruptcy bill, "I want to talk about, again, my record on energy versus your ticket's energy ticket." I think that what Governor Palin was attempting to do was to bring the debate into areas she felt comfortable with, like energy policy, but by not at least giving some consideration to the question at hand before attacking Senators Biden and Obama, she came across to me as both erratic and inexperienced on a lot of issues, specifically ones relating to foreign policy and economic policy. Senator Biden was the complete mirror image of that, being articulate on the issues, showing his depth of experience on everything from foreign policy to energy. Even their appeals to the "average" American show a stark contrast: while Palin mentioned several times throughout the evening that she "had been there" living paycheck-to-paycheck and having no health insurance, Biden showed a human side in the tone of his voice that people not familiar with politics may not have seen before (let's face it, the mainstream media paints that guy as a wacko liberal nut job out of touch with non-East Coast elites): "Look, I understand what it's like to be a single parent. When my wife and daughter died and my two sons were gravely injured, I understand what it's like as a parent to wonder what it's like if your kid's going to make it." The third point to watch for is the style of the speakers' remarks. It's often been cited in contemporary election politics that the way a person looks or sounds can be as influential to some people as what they are saying. John F. Kennedy being one example, in his television debates with Richard Nixon, Kennedy looked young, fresh, and energetic, while Nixon was cited as looking "sick" and sounding "gravelly." Many politicos also say that those televised debates "had a profound impact on the 1960 election" in part due to the stylistic differences between the two. Tonight, Senator Biden was smooth, polished, and looked like... well, a politician. His answers were practiced, though not "canned," and as was mentioned before, free of major gaffes or foot-in-mouth statements. He also looked confident at his podium, like he had been there many times before and it was natural now for him (which it probably is). Governor Palin in contrast looked very good at the podium, and though this was her first national stage to debate her opponents, she did display a lot of confidence and poise. That's not to say she was perfect, though, as several times during the debate, she appeared a bit flustered, stammered through some of her talking points on foreign policy questions, and at times during questions which were more difficult for her to answer because of a lack of experience in the subject matter she seemed to rock back and forth at the podium giving the impression of indecisivness and of being uncomfortable. Another style point I personally disliked about Governor Palin had to do with her syntax and speaking style. In the beginning of the debate, I felt it was fine for her to be droppin' her G's and speakin' like a reg'lar American with the "heckuva" and "Heaven forbid" and "Say it ain't so, Joe," but after a short while, it simply became annoying, and I was waiting for her to start speaking professionally. During the past eight years, the President of the United States was criticized incessantly for his speaking style. If our next Vice-President sounds like a 16-year old high school teenager, is that any better? Finally, the fun stuff to look for: (1) who had the best line of the night, (2) who had the strongest line of the night, (3) who committed the biggest mistake, and (4) what I like to call the WTF?! moments. I make a distinction, as you can see, between the "best" line of the night - the line that is the funniest, zings the most, or produces the biggest crowd reaction - with the "strongest" line of the night: the line which I felt stood out the most in terms of displaying the confidence of the candidate. Governor Palin won both 1 and 2. (1) Governor Palin definitely had the best one-liner of the night:
Moderator Ifill: Governor, you said in July that someone would have to explain to you exactly what it is the vice president does every day. You, senator, said you would not be vice president under any circumstances.... What it is you think the vice presidency is worth now? PALIN: In my comment there, it was a lame attempt at a joke and yours was a lame attempt at a joke, too, I guess, because nobody got it.
This one-line zinger right at Senator Biden both made me laugh the hardest and got the biggest reaction from the crowd (which was silent for pretty much everything else). By contrast, Biden's best one-liner was certainly with regard to healthcare, "So you're going to have to place -- replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere." (2) Governor Palin also had what I consider the strongest line of the night when she said in response to a question about whether either ticket would have trouble keeping their campaign promises, "I don't believe that John McCain has made any promise that he would not be able to keep, either." (3) Neither side really made any mistakes, as I've said before. However, Senator Biden did make a number of good decisions when choosing not to entrap himself in Governor Palin's attacks. If he had done so, the way Biden is in extemporaneous speaking when he gets heated, he could have really come across very badly for Obama. I would speculate that his pre-debate preparation included some tips for ignoring the character attacks by Palin and working on correcting factual mistakes instead to avoid his sometimes-wacky temperment. (4) WTF?! moments are any moment that sticks out in your head as a "did they say that" moment. For example, while speaking, Governor Palin called Senator Biden "O'Biden" which I can only assume was a slip of the tongue as she attempted not to say Obama. Senator Biden stood out for not literally saying literally every third literal sentence, literally like he did in his first joint appearance with Senator Obama. Governor Palin was certainly channelling that day though, as she "also" way more often than she should have been, which stuck out as badly as "like" and "you know" did in junior high school. Finally, something that I noticed that most others wouldn't have thought twice about was that Palin referred to the US commanding General in Afghanistan as "General McClellan" when it's actually General McKiernan. Last, but not least, I look at the format of the debate itself. In the Presidential debate of last Friday, the format was pretty open, with questions being followed by nine minutes of essentially open time for the candidates to respond to one another without being roped in by time limitations on their responses. They played off of some another rather than off of the moderator, which I really enjoyed. In tonight's debate, candidates had five minutes per question split up into one- and two-minute segments, meaning that the candidates' responses had to be by nature more rehearsed and less fluid. Personally, I'd be all for a re-enactment of the Lincoln-Douglass debates, but in the TV soundbite era, I doubt that will ever happen. Summary: In my four main criteria for looking at a debate - candidates' goals, quality of responses, style, and "fun stuff" - I think that on an even platform, Senator Biden easily won. He was smooth, somewhat polished, poignent, concise, and looked Vice-Presidential. Governor Palin looked charming, poised, and supportive of John McCain, but was also much more erratic, uncertain of herself, and looked somewhat uncomfortable in some subjects. While Palin definitely had the best and strongest lines of the night, Biden did himself and Senator Obama a favor by not taking the bait on some of Palin's attacks and slip-ups. If you take into account the theory that the platform tonight was not even, however, meaning that while the bar for Biden was set at a normal height, Governor Palin's was set much lower as she is a newcomer into national politics and has really only been "in the spotlight" for a month or so, Governor Palin did equally as well as Biden in most categories. I hope for the debates on October 7th and 15th between Senator McCain and Senator Obama that some of my readers will come away with a better sense of what I, at least, look for in a debate, and come to your own conclusions about what makes a "winner" versus a "loser" of each!

02 October 2008

By the Numbers

Lately I've been noticing that a lot of things are circulating numerically in the world, and I thought I'd take a moment to showcase a few that I've found particularly intriguing. Some are subjective and of my own personal opinions, others are factual. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do! Baseball: NLDS A: Phillies 2 games, Brewers 0 games NLDS B: Dodgers 2 games, Cubs 0 games ALDS A: Rays 1 game, White Sox 0 games ALDS B: Red Sox 1 game, Angels 0 games Debate scores (subjective): Presidential Debates: McCain 1, Obama 0 (it was close, but I think McCain pulled out the win) Vice-Presidential Debate: Biden 1, Palin 0 $700,000,000,000,000.00: The amount of money the Senate and possibly the House intend to shove down the throats (or up some other unmentionable places) of taxpayers to bail out the US economy. I guess I can kiss my hopes for any kind of savings plan goodbye for a few decades. (Other, related numbers: Senate vote: 74 Aye, 25 Nay; House vote: 205 Aye, 228 Nay.) Total miles I drive per day for work-related tasks: 24.4 (on average). Total miles per gallon my car gets: 25 (approximately). Current dollar amount per gallon of gas at the Diamond Shamrock near my house: $3.29. Total amount of money I will spend filling up the car each week: approximately $45.00. Total percentage of my approximate weekly income that is: 12.9% (Ouch! Just for gas! Add in the cell phone bill and that percentage jumps to 28.6%) Number of books I have started since school ended on 5/10/08: 6 Number finished: 1 Number of days spent working since school ended 5/10/08: 12 Number of those which were volunteer work days: 6 Number of paychecks received: 0 Number of resumes sent out in the 30 days prior to starting work at Halo PA: 63 Number of responses received: 4 Friends of mine who have had birthdays within the last 30 days: 12 Number I've been able to visit with in the last 30 days: 1 Can anyone add to this list? I'd be interested in hearing what some of your important numerical moments of the recent past have been!

01 October 2008

It's Getting Cooler!

That's right, the TV weatherman speculated that tomorrow might just be the last 100-degree day of the year, with the strong possibility of a high of 84 degrees in Phoenix by Sunday! That's good for me, 'cuz holy asparagus, it was hot out today. I know it was only 100, but when you're running around and sitting in an office without the world's greatest A/C system, it gets warm. I will definitely be glad for sweater weather again! I'm really also getting accustomed to my new job, even though I've only been there 5 work days. I handle almost all of the mail, the deposits, and maintain office supply stocks. I also am working on getting volunteers for one of our events coming up - a fundraiser for State Rep. Kirk Adams of AZLD-19 - so I've been in touch with the CRs to see if they'd like to help out, and I'm tackling the rather auspicious task of maintaining the sanity of the event RSVP list. I have decided, though, that I actually rather enjoy the public affairs sector of business. Always something new going on, never a dull moment, and my input is valued. So that's three sectors of employment I have found I like or at least would like to experience more of: Congressional office work (in constituent services), public affairs, and library sciences. Other than that, I must give a shoutout to three of my good friends whose birthdays happen to fall on today, and while I know that only one of the three reads this blog, I hope that my well wishes to each of them are known: Blake Rebling, Scott Sampson, and Desiree Bloom. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And finally, to Doug, who got me interested in the TV show "House": It's become one of my favorites, and I've got you to thank! Who knew that encephalobronchiomyalitis streptococcus could be so interesting when diagnosed by an asshole doctor who really just needs a hug!?