30 March 2010

American Idol 2010

If I may, for a moment, digress from the seriousness of politics and the fun of baseball for a post here, today I entered a contest among nine of my other friends to attempt to predict the winner of this season's American Idol contest. Every year, I promise myself I won't get sucked into watching it, and every year I fail miserably. This year, I figured why not make it interesting if nothing else. Ten dollar buy-in, winner take all... $100.

Problem is, this year's group of contestants is really nothing special. Sure, there've been flashes of stardom, but no one candidate is really poised to be "that one" - like Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, or (as much as I hate to admit it) Adam Lambert.

That said, these were my picks for our little contest:
Winner: Michael Lynche
Runner-up: Lee DeWyze
Top Male: Michael Lynche
Top Female: Crystal Bowersox
Final Four: Lynche, DeWyze, Bowersox, and Aaron Kelly

Statistically speaking, I was in a severe minority with my picks. The votes among our group of ten (with one not yet picked because of extenuating circumstances):
Winner: Crystal Bowersox (4), Siobhan Magnus (3), Michael Lynche (2)
Runner Up: Siobhan (4), Crystal (2), Aaron Kelly (2), Lee DeWyze (1)
Top Male: Aaron (4), Michael (2), Lee (2), Andrew Garcia (1)
Top Female: Crystal (5), Siobhan (4)
Top 4: Crystal (9), Siobhan (8), Aaron (5), Lee (5), Michael (5), Tim Urban (1), Andrew (1), Katie Stevens (1), Casey James (1), Didi Benami (0)

After watching tonight's performances though, I feel pretty confident in my picks. Aaron Kelly was good enough to stick around. Michael Lynche was again impressive, though not his best performance. Lee DeWyze hit one out of the park, and Crystal Bowersox looked less-than-confident on stage without her guitar-crutch, but the judges loved her performance, so she'll stick around.

Before you ask, yes, I do like some reality shows. It's a sad existance, I know, but it's like the cliche of watching a car wreck: you can't look away when you start watching. The Amazing Race, American Idol, Survivor, and (for God only knows what reason) Solitary are shows that, if they're on, I'll watch.

Thanks for the digression. Now, please continue with YOUR regularly scheduled programming.

StateBrief: The Drudge of Arizona

Over the past couple months, I've been tracking a relatively new Arizona news resource called "StateBrief." If you are familiar with the Drudge Report, you'll understand when I say that StateBrief.com is basically the Drudge Report compendium site for Arizona politics and news information.

The site links users to articles from places like Politico.com, AZCentral.com, FOX News, The Economist, the East Valley Tribune, and a variety of blogs and other notable places. And the news itself is very user-friendly, being split up into national headlines (right now the John McCain/JD Hayworth/Rodney Glassman trifecta is all over the place, along with Senator Kyl's recent remarks and Jeff Flake's endorsement of California Senator-hopeful Chuck DeVore), statewide headlines (look here for the McCain-Palin rally stories and a bunch of articles on recent developments in the state legislature), and "Misc." headlines - everything from the Phoenix Coyotes up for auction again to the troubles with Phoenix Councilman Johnson's arrest.

And (while I think this could probably be more prominent) there is also a link to the "Brief Blog" - StateBrief.com's opinion-editorial page, which showcases some well-written editorials on everything from EM Pulse attacks on the US to Bart Stupak's sellout over healthcare reform to "Rep. Kirkpatrick's Image Problem" on EPA issues.

As a bonus, if you're on Facebook like me all the time, by joining the StateBrief.com group there, site operator Neil Rosekrans sends out updates on the latest AZ-related headlines. This Facebook update thing he's got going on has actually been really helpful in keeping me apprised on some of the more interesting news articles out there, including the HCR vandalism that I posted about just recently.

No, I'm not affiliated with the site itself. I just think it's too nice a resource to not let more people know about. The articles focus heavily on Republican stories, but there is a good mix of Democratic information in there as well. Check it out if you want to stay informed on AZ politics... it's better than trying to pick through stories at AZCentral.com!

25 March 2010


In yet another side to the healthcare arguments, following the vote on HR3590 over the last couple of days, members of the public have been reasonably and rationally discussing their views on proposed changes to the legislation and its possible consequences.

Just kidding, many of them have been issuing threats of violence against both Democrat and Republican members of Congress and vandalizing members' offices and Democratic Party offices. In a not-so-shocking turn of events, unknown perpetrators have broken windows, spray painted doors, faxed death threats, and made vitriol-laced phone calls to at least ten Democrats and two Republicans. A short summary:

23 March 2010

The AGs' New Suit

If the plural of Attorney General is AttorneyS General, would the plural of the abbreviation "AG" be A'sG? Sorry... random thought as I was typing my title for this post....

Anyway, if you haven't heard the news, now that President Obama has signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act (HR3590) into law, already 13 states' Attorneys General have filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court alleging that the law is unconstitutional and asking for it to be immediately struck down. This morning, I read through the .pdf file of the lawsuit, and wanted to express some thoughts.

First, a summation. The principle plaintiff in this suit is the Attorney General of the State of Florida, along with the AGs of South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Colorado, Michigan, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho and South Dakota. The defendents are the US Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Secretary of HHS Katherine Sebelius, US Dept. of the Treasury (Treasury) and Secretary Timothy Geithner, and US Dept. of Labor (Labor) and Secretary Hilda Solis. For purposes of this blog post, I am going to call the AGs the Plaintiffs and the Depts and Secretaries the Defendents just so we can keep track of everyone.

Jump Breaks

Due to the length of some of my more recent blog posts, I have decided to now use jump breaks in my posts to more adequately fit posts on this page. To continue reading any post, you now simply need to click the "read more" button at the bottom of any topic. Thanks!

21 March 2010

A Step Toward Socialism?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, congratulations. As of tonight, the Democrats in Congress, save for 34 of them, have given the country healthcare reform. A nationalized healthcare plan that requires every American citizen to have health insurance by 2014. If you cannot afford health insurance, a government subsidization plan will be set up for you to purchase it at a substantially reduced cost. If you choose not to purchase and maintain health insurance, you will be fined and policed by the Internal Revenue Service.

I watched the entire debate, from beginning to end today. From the debate on two points of order on the resolution to consider the debate on the rules for debate on the Senate bill and reconciliation bill to the Senate bill all the way until the 216th vote on the vote to pass the reconciliation to the Senate bill. A short(ish) summation:

19 March 2010

J.D. Hayworth

Those of you who know me personally know that I enjoy hearing all kinds of different perspectives on current events. That's one reason I went to hear President Obama at Dobson High School back last year, went to the McCain-Palin election night event at the Biltmore resort in Scottsdale in 2008, and my reason for attending last night's Red Mountain Tea Party meeting at Legacy Charter School in Mesa where former congressman and radio personality J.D. Hayworth was scheduled to speak about his campaign for US Senate against incumbent John McCain.

I was actually a little apprehensive about getting into a meeting like this, because the only real dealings I've had with Tea Party members have been of the confrontational sort, like the Freedom's Phoenix incident at Congressman Jeff Flake's town hall meeting back last July. When I arrived at the school, I had my doubts about the organization of the event, given that they were starting to turn away cars to park in other lots across the road, but I "snuck" back into the back of the school, and parked there without a problem.

16 March 2010

Common Sense

Okay, so I caved. I went out and picked up a used copy of "Glenn Beck's Common Sense" from the half price bookstore at the mall for $2.00. I don't know why I wanted to read it, considering I'm not really happy with that tea party-esque mentality right now, but I figure I need to read even the crazy works out there in order to be as good a political scientist as I can.

I also found a copy of a book on the US Secret Service from 1942 with an actual page from a 1942 letter to banks, shopkeepers, and merchants on how to spot counterfeit $5 bills that were being passed in San Francisco. Very cool! The book was vintage, though, and the store wanted thirty bucks for it... too bad for me.

But anyway, it'll be nice to read something new while I heal my sunburn from my hike on Saturday. Granted, the scrapes, scratches, and sunburn were totally worth it because it was a beautiful hike, but the aftermath is not really fun.

As soon as I finish that book and a couple others, I plan to post reviews on them here... so stay tuned!

12 March 2010

March 2010 LD22 Meeting

Last night I was fortunate to attend the Republican Legislative District 22 meeting again for the fourth time, and I got to hear from some very interesting speakers who are gearing up their campaign runs. The meeting was held at the Freestone Park Recreation Center in Gilbert, in a small community room which filled up rather quickly with district 22 members. After picking up the obligatory sheaf of papers for the meeting agenda, last meeting's minutes, flyers on upcoming events, and candidate literature, I went around to talk to people doing the petition signings, which is usually my favorite part of such gatherings: picking the brains of the other volunteers.

In attendance were Mesa City Councilman Scott Summers, LD22 House Candidate Brett Petillo, Fulton Brock from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Horne, candidate for Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, and representatives from the No on Prop. 406 campaign and Jeff Smith for Congress (CD-6).

08 March 2010

Another Car Accident

So yeah, I was involved in another car accident this morning. This time, it was a three car affair, and an ambulance had to be called to the scene to take a woman to the hospital for head and neck pain and abdominal pain as a result of the collision.

But before you think "Oh, man, Andrew... what did you DO?...," let me tell you that my involvement was purely as a witness to this morning's fender bender. (HA!! Psyched y'all out!) I was sitting at a red light behind about 7 other cars and next to a black four-door car when I all of a sudden looked in my side mirror and saw a gray Nissan Sentra pickup slam into the back of the black car, which lurched forward and tapped the bumper of the white Saturn four-door car in front of it. The Nissan's front end was pretty bad, but the driver - a 20-something-ish kid who was probably on his way to school - was uninjured.

The black car's back end was also pretty badly damaged, and the 62-year-old woman driving was complaining of neck and stomach pain. Another guy ran out of the nearest house (which was WAY commendable of him) and assisted her with getting off the road (she had wandered out of her car and was in a traffic lane) and comforting her until the paramedics arrived.

The white Saturn was pretty much undamaged, and the family inside (mom, dad, and two little girls under 6 years old) was unhurt.

As soon as it happened, I pulled off the road into an apartment complex and immediately called 911. The injured woman asked me to call her son, too, so I obliged and let them speak. About three minutes later, a fire engine arrived at the scene and blocked traffic. They treated the woman and got her into the ambulance which arrived shortly after. Police units also got there quickly and closed off the street, directing traffic into the center turn lane for a short distance. I was asked by the fire crew to stay as a witness to the accident. It was actually really quite cold out, and the clouds and misting rain didn't help matters much. I had to go to my car to grab my mom's sweater so I could stay warm!

Thankfully, I don't think anyone had any major injuries. The woman was taken to the hospital as a precaution, and she probably just banged her head against the steering wheel or something, just as when I had my accident a few months back. The best thing that came out of the day was the calmness of everyone involved and the kindness of that other bystander to help out when he could have ignored the situation. It makes my faith in humanity just a little bit brighter!

If anyone out there knows who I'm talking about with this accident - and someone might, since I'm getting many more Arizona readers now - I hope you all are okay, and that you have safer travels in the future!

07 March 2010

Karl Rove vs. Howard Dean Debate

Yesterday afternoon, thanks to my friend Nathan at Red Mountain Community Church, I had the opportunity to go watch Republican strategist Karl Rove and former DNC Chairman Howard Dean debate at Arizona State University's Gammage Auditorium. While I was tired from a long day, I am definitely glad that I went to the event, as it was very entertaining (though not overly informative).

All told, seven of us went to the debate, carpooling in two vehicles to save on parking (which we didn't realize was free on weekends): Nate, Nathan, Evan and his wife Amber, Kevin, Brandon, and yours truly. When we reached Gammage, there were roughly 100 people standing outside signing people up to vote and asking registered voters to sign petition nominating forms for a wide variety of candidates, including Democrat David Lujan, Republican Dean Martin, and a few people I had never heard of from both parties. It was quite entertaining being asked if I was registered to vote ("yes"), and "oh, are you registered as a Democrat?" ("Not even remotely close to it.")

We finally got inside past the throngs of political button-wearers and got our tickets scanned. We were sitting in "Orchestra" seating in row 11 of the auditorium all the way on the left (stage right). I mean literally, I was sitting on the aisle about six feet from the exit door. Made it really fun when everyone was trying to get in and out of their seats. After getting settled and chatting amongst ourselves - catching up, really, since I hadn't seen some of those guys in a long while - the lights dimmed, and the emcee announced the debate participants, beginning with former Governor and former DNC Chairman Howard Dean on the Democratic side (to a rousing cheer from the mostly-liberal audience; to be expected from a college campus), and senior aide to President George W. Bush, Republican strategist Karl Rove (to a chorus of cheers from half the audience and boos from the other half).

03 March 2010

Yankees Tickets!

As I sit in my office chair and wonder what I will do with the rest of my day, drinking Dunkin Donuts' fantastic coffee (no cream or sugar, mind you... none of that wimpy stuff to befuddle strong black joe), I can't help but think of more baseball stuff, which I am sure most people are tired of hearing about by now.

For instance, back in November (maybe December) the Arizona Diamondbacks allowed people to register for a "lottery" of sorts to be able to purchase tickets to the Yankees-Diamondbacks World Series 2001 rematch set this coming June 21-23. Happily for me, I was selected via this lottery to be able to purchase tickets to these games before everyone else can using a special password. (Which reminded me, I gotta ask my friends and see if they want in on this deal!) I'll probably just be going to one of those three games - probably the 23rd - but anytime the Diamondbacks have a chance at whooping the Yankees here at home, it's a good thing.

I've also been maintaining going to Fitch Park every other day or so to hang out and catch baseballs. Monday when I went, I got the opportunity to chat with a guy whom I have aptly nicknamed "Left Field Jim" about baseball AND politics... my kind of person! LFJ was out here for Spring Training with his friend from Sacramento, California, and as one of the three Republicans in that state (I exaggerate... there are actually twelve) he and I were discussing state and national politics for like an hour while we waited for the minor league "sluggers" to hit a couple of balls over the fence. I use sluggers in quotation marks because a grand total of ONE baseball was actually hit over the fence during that entire hour where we were standing. I also got two tossups from the players/coaches. Though, supposedly about 6-8 balls were hit over in right field... I guess I was just in the wrong place.

So yeah, just a couple updates there along with the shout out to Jim as I promised (he was interested to check out this blog, so I hope he and his friend enjoy!). Within the next week, I plan to try to go to the DBacks-Cubs spring training game on Friday (though I don't know since I might not have a car for it) and I'm planning to get out to the AZ LD-22 meeting on 3/11 - next Thursday - at 7pm. So you can have a non-baseball blog post to look forward to!