Friday, October 31, 2008

The "Wassup" Guys Keep it Real

This Youtube video is going seriously viral over the web. It's the original guys from the "Wassup" Commercial for Budweiser in 1999. Here is the original version for your reference.

Well, the guys are back with a political version of the same commercial titled "Wassup 2008" in it the guys are in various states of distress: Jobless, needing prescription drugs, stationed in Iraq, stuck in a hurricane (apparently referencing Katrina), and loosing their shirts in the stockmarket. The end is a plug for Obama, and a plea to vote.

Great Job guys. Way to keep it real.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My "Endorsement" of Barack Obama on

I wrote the below for thefatherlife. com, a pretty cool website for dads.  They asked that I write one of two guest editorials which they are featuring this week, one in favor of Barack Obama and one in favor John McCain.  It will be launched this week. I hope you check it out, and also read the John McCain piece. Hopefully it should help you with your decision making come November. It's not quite an "endorsement" since, after all, who the you-know-what am I? But I am honored the editors asked that I write to represent my views on their site. Check it out!

Why I'm voting for Obama:

With all the speeches, debates, ads, and robo-calls, John McCain and Barack Obama are asking for one thing - to get our vote. It is all we have but it is invaluable because with each vote, one of these men gets closer to being the leader of the free world. That is why who we give our vote to becomes such a personal decision. Here are my own reasons why I will be giving my vote to Barack Obama.

I vote for my mother. She has been self employed for more than 10 years, is a cancer survivor, and struggles with arthritis. Still, she has no health insurance. It is too expensive for her to get, even though she runs a business, and yet, she does not qualify for federal or state assistance, because get this – she runs a business. I cannot include her on my insurance because she isn't a dependant, she's out of state, and my job's health insurance doesn't cover parents. It is my daily nightmare that one day she will turn ill and the cost of her care may well doom her, and then us, financially. The system we have now is broken because it caters to the extremities of the economic classes, and ignores people like my mother, who at 56 still has too much pride to accept a handout and works every day, even on days when she can barely walk without feeling pain. Obama's healthcare plan not only helps the already insured, but also finally helps people like my mother who have fallen through the cracks, offering her the healthcare she needs and deserves.

I vote for me and my wife. Thankfully because of our hard work and our ability to get good educations, my wife and I have accomplished what our parents had hoped we would, a better life for us and our child. But like many people in the middle class, we are worried about this economy and whether the start-up technology company I work for or the media company she works for will make it through this storm. We are responsible financially, but like many, are in danger of being a layoff away from potential hardship. We look at the 700 billion dollars being "invested" to shore up Wall Street, and while we understand it to be necessary, this investment cannot stop there. This country needs to invest in its workforce and small businesses, in start ups and companies that don't offshore jobs. It must invest in the next generation of manufacturing and alternative energy. It must do more than cut taxes for large companies and socialize their losses after decades of privatized gain. It must look out for the consumers who hold up this economy on their shoulders. Confidence must be returned not just to creditors, but to those who are most affected by them. Obama's plan to reward job creators and help incubate businesses, invest in infrastructure, extend transition support to service employees, and engage in fair global trade so that our workers can compete on a level playing field, will bring back the confidence Americans need to continue to strengthen this economy. I understand Obama's tax plan and it does work for the middle class, especially for small businesses, including plumbers. Despite the best efforts of others to confuse the conversation, Obama has the best plan to steer the economy in the right direction.

I vote for my daughter. She will need to grow up in a country that values her education as the means to maintain greatness. She will need access the best there is to offer, and she will need an educational system that promotes all types of learning. When she heads to college, she should not have to graduate with the equivalent of a mortgage in student loans as her parents did, keeping her at a disadvantage vs. her peers. Most of all, she will need to have equal access to everything the world has to offer, and to not have glass ceilings placed above her because of her gender. Obama's plan to invest in education from grades 0-12 and to create better ways to keep college affordable answers her needs and the needs of this country's children.

I vote for my cousin, who is starting to make it on her own. Should she one day be faced with the tough decision of becoming a mother, the choice must be hers, knowing that she has the support of her family in whatever choice she makes. I applaud Obama's position on Roe vs. Wade and for his stance that family planning is best left to individuals based on their own morality and conscious. No one should be forced into a decision either by the government or by lack of options. Instead, they should be provided with real alternatives and support to make a sound choice.

I vote for my friend, who lost his father on September 11th, 2001. For 7 years we have bungled the war on terror by being distracted in Iraq and not capturing the man responsible for this atrocious act. In that time, we have eroded our global reputation and have squandered the opportunity to make the world a more unified, safer place. Cowboy diplomacy has failed, and a new direction of true engagement and cooperation must begin. Our commander in chief cannot simply be a good soldier. A good soldier is needed in the field. A good leader is needed in the Whitehouse. An effective leader must have an unflappable temperament and must foster real cooperation within the global community to fight for peace and security. I believe Obama has the temperament, understanding, and steady hand necessary to meet the global challenges that await him. I am confident that Obama will both draw the Iraqi war to a peaceful and successful close, and mend our position as leader of the free world.

I vote for my generation, who is ready to lead. We are more connected, unified, and diverse than ever. We are ready to fulfill the ideals of our forefathers, and we understand the issues that affect the different kinds of people in this country – Asians, Blacks, Latinos, Whites, Women, etc, are not singular issues, but American issues. We are ready for a candidate that is not judged by race or gender but by his or her merits. We are ready to break from the idea that only a certain type of candidate should lead our country. This election is my generation's coming of age, and Obama is the transforming force that inspires us.

I vote for the future of this great nation. I vote for one America, not division between "real" vs. "not real." I vote in defense of intellectualism. I vote for a true separation of powers and of church and state. I vote for good VP choices. I vote for an end to false populism, litmus-testing and wedge issues. I vote for a President who will use The Constitution to protect rights, not limit them. I vote for the idea that loyalty to country does not require sycophantic acquiescence, because I too am pro-America. I vote because we have nothing to fear but fear, itself, and I won't let my vote be manipulated or clouded by fear. I vote for the American dream, the belief that has made this country great - that with hard work and a thirst for knowledge, even if you have a funny sounding name, you can achieve anything, including becoming the President of the United States. I vote for hope. Therefore, I will vote for Barack Obama.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Palindora's Box

The great Conquistador John McCain and his explorers were lost in the jungle. They had thought they would have found their final destination by now, but the Obama expedition was outpacing them. He could not understand how this previously unknown explorer, new to the jungle and untested in the harsh realities of the conquest, could have made so much ground so quickly. All looked grim until a member of his trusted advisors brought before him Palindora’s box. It was beautiful- like nothing he had ever seen. He knew the legend was that this box would give whoever possessed it the power they seek, but to get this power, they would have to open the box. Once opened, it could never be closed, and the possessor of this box would be stuck with whatever came out of it. The potential seemed promising, but there were those who questioned the motives of the locals who presented the box to McCain. They seem to have done so a bit too eagerly, almost as if to be rid of it themselves. Doubters asked McCain to be careful with this gift and inspect it closely, but McCain knew of only one thing – he must use anything he could to get to get to the lost city before Obama. He was a maverick explorer, and he was used to taking these risks.

McCain presented this new box to his expedition to the jubilation of his faithful. Tired from the trail so far, the explorers had new energy, and it filled them with joy. Without even opening the box, McCain could feel his expedition edging closer to the place they sought. “I need only to show this powerful box, “McCain thought, “I don’t need to open it just yet.” And so he travelled with it close to him in full view of his followers in order to remind them of the power they possessed and inspire them.

But the jungle began to grow dark. The brush got thicker with news of economic woe, and their path became muddy with bankruptcies and bailouts. He lost followers as they began to doubt McCain really knew the path toward the promise land, and Obama, according to his spies, passed him yet again and seemed closer than ever to the fabled destination. Try as he might, McCain could not get himself heard over the calls of the creatures of the jungle, hungry for change and starving for new direction.

Desperate for an edge, he opens Palindora’s box. “Just a crack,” he thinks, “just to quicken up our travel…” but as he lifts the lid, it blows open and from the box spews the ugliest of spirit creatures. They fly like ghosts around him and his entourage screaming wretched things like “Terrorist!” “Arab!” “Traitor!” “Kill Him!” and before he knew it these spirit forces had covered his campaign with a dark mist. He saw his people turn angry and vengeful. Their hatred began to show like boils on their skin. They howled in the darkness as the spirits transformed them into something McCain could no longer recognize. The power of Palindora’s box was now in his possession, but he was no longer in possession of his people. The evil had taken a life of its own. It could not be controlled or contained.

The transformed members of his expedition now lurched forth into the brush, grotesque and spewing all types of wretchedness, chasing after the footprints left behind by Obama’s camp. They where no longer motivated to win, but to destroy. He called to them to regain their civil nature but they no longer heard or heeded his words.

As he looked at the unrecognizable world he created, McCain could not help but wonder if it was worth it. In his quest for power, he had unleashed a contaminated and diseased spirit onto his campaign. And despite this sacrifice, he knew in his heart that he was still no closer to his destination. Perhaps now even further from it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

An appeal to single-issue voters – Get over it. Please.

I wanted to take a break from the minutia of the every day mudslinging and talk directly to those who are basing their votes on single issue politics. This is especially prevalent among Latinos who often find local politics or issues relating to their home countries to be equally, if not more important, than issues in the U.S. The best example of this is in Florida, where many people decide to give their votes to the candidate who they feel will be harshest against the dictators who reside in their former countries.

Politics is always local. I have an issue dear to my heart, being a Jersey resident - tort reform. Would I vote for a President based on this? No. With the thousands of single issue items, it is impossible to find any candidate who agrees with everyone, or has even come up with a position regarding every single issue that’s out there.

In the meantime, there are shifts that will impact all of us in this country for the next generation. Our economy needs serious mending, our international policies for protection and diplomacy needs refocusing, our education system needs expanding, and our health care needs to be reformed. How we handle these issues will shape the United States and our position in the world for the next hundred years. The American experiment is at risk, less than 250 years after it began.

The decision as to who we select to lead us through these challenges needs to be decided based on qualities like temperament, intellect, and compassion. These qualities have been tragically lacking in our President for the last eight years, with obvious consequences.

For these reasons, this is the most important election many of us have ever been involved in. It cannot be decided by single issue litmus testing or personality politics. And for that reason, I implore voters, and especially Latinos, to “get over” the politics of the past and help usher in a new way of thinking about what we expect from our leaders.

Would a voter give up a better health care system for a president who publicly bashes the Castros or Chavez? The fact is that despite the saber rattling during the campaigns, the Republicans have never been able to address any Latin American issues decisively. The Republicans have perfected the art of remaining in power by getting people to vote against their economic and social best interests by pandering to personal interests. They have successfully practiced political parlor magic – look into my eyes (or at the pretty pit bull on stage), and ignore what my hands are doing (or more often, not doing)…

But there is hope that more people are starting to see this election differently. A prominent Miami based pundit Jaime Bayly, who in the past has said that he would support McCain simply to “stick it” to Chavez, this week says he is more likely to support Obama because he understands that this country needs a change of direction. Below is my translation of his statement made during his show "Bayly"on Wednesday October 8th:

“I used to be with McCain to frustrate Chavez…I was always with McCain, not for the good reasons, but for the bad reasons. They were “Who does Chavez hate more?McCain, then we must vote McCain.” But no longer. We have to vote thinking about the future of this country, for the love we have for this country, of which we have become citizens. And I truly believe that Obama is more intelligent than McCain and Biden is immeasurably more intelligent than Sarah Palin just as a polar bear is more intelligent than Sarah Palin…”
Like Mr. Bayly, we must get over single issue voting traditions and think about the larger picture. When you see things from that perspective, one clearly sees the continuation of Republican leadership becoming less and less attractive.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tina Fey - wow.

Just want to say - Tina Fey is amazing and Emmy worthy for her Palin impression. I always liked her as a writer and for 30 Rock. But this is unbelievable.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Obama’s '08 Mile – How to neutralize the upcoming onslaught by the McCain campaign

The failing economy, new voter registration in the hundreds of thousands, the erratic behavior of the GOP VP candidate, and the disaster of McCain’s campaign suspension have all worked to Obama’s favor. As the polls show, his lead continues to climb even in states that were not considered to be in play.

So what’s left in the GOP arsenal? I agree with what most of the pundits have been observing on the Sunday shows – McCain’s next surge is to go negative. Deeply negative, and to try to question the integrity of the opposing candidate, and bring up an onslaught of accusations (true or not) of associations, records, etc, in the hopes to muddying the conversation just enough that the public will be too scared to vote for Obama.

The efficacy of this tactic (not to be confused with a strategy, apologies to McCain) will soon be evident. The fact that McCain even has this as an option does speak to the Obama campaign’s continuing challenge of convincing skeptical voters that he is truly like them. Part of it is this country’s obsession with personality politics, and how mediocrity in our leaders is celebrated over intelligence as seen by Palin’s popularity and her Joe-six-pack tag lines.

A storm is coming. McCain has nothing to lose, and in these 30 days to the election, McCain will unleash a flurry of negativity unlike anything we have seen. It is almost certain they will take the low road in the upcoming weeks because it seems to be the only thing that makes traction against Obama. The lipsticked pit bull has already begun, trying to re-link Obama with former domestic terrorists and corrupt local Chicago politicians. Most of these accusations were debunked during the primaries, but can still do reputation damage among voters in crucial states. The Democrats must be prepared to not only weather this storm but come up with a real plan to neutralize it so that voters focus on the issues which McCain has not be able to dominate in – the economy, health care, education and alternative energy.

For a defense strategy that I believe will work, Obama has but to look toward a movie released in 2002 set in Michigan, the state Obama just recently forced McCain to concede. 8 Mile is a movie about working class youth in Detroit struggling to make it and still pursue their dreams. The main character participates in “rap debates” where he matches wits vs. area hip hop hopefuls in front of live crowds, not too dissimilar to the presidential version in that style often trumps substance, the candidates play to crowds, and the battle often gets extremely personal. In the final match, the main character walks onto the stage knowing that the opposing team will surface some potentially damaging events in his life that might sway the crowd in their direction. Rather than allow them to control the tone, he preempts everything that might be said against him, leaving nothing for the opposing party to address. His final line challenges his speechless opponent to trump his own words saying, “ Here, tell these people something they don’t know about me.”

If you can ignore the more vulgar parts of the performance, the brilliance of preempting the opposing side's arguments is the best way for Obama to protect himself and at the same time go on the offensive. He needs to walk into the debates next week, and while on the stump, telling the crowd what McCain is going to do and let them know the desperation from which these tactics come. Additionally, he needs to keep on message and not seem to be reactive, and finally, he needs to not constrain himself by “the rules.” In the movie, the main character runs out of time and the music is shut off, but continues his turn acappella. If in the coming debates McCain starts to attack trying to squeeze in accusations, wether Obama's turn is over or not, Obama needs to respond and respond strongly. If he does this, McCain will have nowhere to go, and his attacks will seem petty and juvenile. The politics of fear have no place in this election, and if handled correctly, Obama can cause McCain's tactics to backfire on him.

Friday, October 3, 2008

How the widower won vs. the Wasilla winker

I’ll make one brief comment on last night’s debate, as most people will be up to their moose antlers in punditry.

Last night one could argue over which candidate best met or beat expectations, saved or hurt their party etc. The spin doctors will earn their money in that respect, though I’m confident the public will make up their own mind after a day or two digesting what they saw.

What I took from the debate was simply this – Joe Biden produced the most personal moment of the entire campaign, of all the candidates, including the primaries.

This moment came after Palin recited her “mantra of the hockey mom,” and made the case that her way of life and her experiences raising a family was a reflection of this country in a way her opponent could not measure.

And in a split second, Biden neutralized that argument and the whole Palin-six-pack mystique, in an unscripted moment that cut Palin’s target audience from under her – women.

The hurt on his face was obvious as he said he doesn’t understand how just because he is a man doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand the hardship of parenting and loss. And the pause to compose himself, the flood of emotion which you could see welling up in his face, and the half sentence he spoke of his hardship after the loss of his wife and child, connected with America in a way Palin’s cutesy antics and rehearsed tag lines never could.

“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.

I understand what it's like to sit around the kitchen table with a father who says, "I've got to leave, champ, because there's no jobs here. I got to head down to Wilmington. And when we get enough money, honey, we'll bring you down."

I understand what it's like. I'm much better off than almost all Americans now. I get a good salary with the United States Senate. I live in a beautiful house that's my total investment that I have. So I -- I am much better off now.

But the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand.

I understand, as well as, with all due respect, the governor or anybody else, what it's like for those people sitting around that kitchen table. And guess what? They're looking for help. They're looking for help. They're not looking for more of the same.”
Add to that Palin’s lack of a humane response of any kind, as she continued down her cheat sheet of talking points, and America finally saw Palin for what she was at that moment – a caricature, concocted by a desperate campaign of a dying party.

Of the two images on stage, despite the wonky catch phrases and the “shout outs” to her crew back in the hood, it was Joe who truly “kept it real.” Up until now he’s been overshadowed by the new kid on the block, but after last night, I believe voters, and women in particular, will be curious to know more about his story, and finally understand his remarkable love for family and for the ideals supposedly trademarked by red-state Americans. For independents who want to vote for change but don’t want to be lopped into the “elitist” camp, this is what they needed to come on board.

On a personal note, as a father and husband, I am glad that Joe allowed the world to see that side of him. Too often men of power feel that letting people see their devotion to their families is a sign of weakness. Joe showed America that a Dad in the Senate is just as much a parent as any hockey mom. And with that, McCain has lost the Palin advantage.