Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Washington Democrats getting desperate? But political stock car racing rules

In an already nasty political re-match for the Washington gubernatorial race, things seem to be getting worse. No, I am not talking about the two candidates duking it out on the racetrack with sponsored super stock cars in Monroe; I mean the recent articles about the Washington State Democrats suing Secretary of State Sam Reed over how Dino Rossi chooses to list his partisan preference on the November ballot.

August primary ballots were mailed out and listed Rossi’s party as “prefers GOP’ – Not Republican, as he did in 2004. Washington election law allows candidates to list their party preference however they want, as long as it is not lewd or offensive. If the state's Democrats have their way, Rossi will be listed as a Republican in November.

So extreme is their position on this, the party is seeking a temporary restraining order to keep counties from printing ballots until they get their way. Never mind that scores of ballots have been printing already and even some mailed out to deployed military personnel. If the court rules in favor of the Democrats, those ballots would likely be invalidated and new ones would have to be sent out, potentially stalling a repeat of an election that four years ago lasted months.

Politically this can’t fare well in any way for the Dems. Washingtonians have a severe intolerance now for election malfeasance. When the public understands that this election could be stalled and military members will (again) have trouble voting, the kickback will fall to Chris Gregoire, who has a multi-political liability here. She is the State’s Chief Executive, who vowed after 2004 to reform the election process, she is a candidate in this election, and moreover, she is a Democrat. All of these make political backlash ultimately fall to her. You have to wonder what Democratic strategists were thinking in their war room when they came up with this one.

The Democrats are already lacking. Gregoire has repeatedly, and perhaps too loosely, tried to tie Dino Rossi to the Bush Administration, and subsequently blame him for her budget woes. The strategy there is thin at best. The latest court maneuver reveals that that Dems are nervous. Depending on the poll your read, Rossi is only trailing by an average of 3 points, and in some he is even leading. They have reason to be scared. But trying to involve the courts in removing a simple moniker (however brilliant and politically advantageous) is more a sign of desperation than anything.

Barack Obama’s “Change We Can Believe In” campaign isn’t likely helping Gregoire either. More polls show that McCain is not only seeing significant gains nationally, but it looks like Washington could become a battleground state this year as well. To me, Washington is still overwhelmingly “blue” and I expect Obama to win here handedly, but I don’t think it will be to Gregoire’s benefit. Having a very different campaign, even a career that is exactly the opposite of the “change” Obama is talking about means bad news for her.

For the sake of voter confidence, I am really hoping that the Dems pursuit of a court-ordered election stall won’t last past a news cycle. If it does, Washington has an even bigger concern for how Democracy takes place in a state that seems more in favor of courts to rule elections than the people.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I am a PC...and I use a Mac

I saw this commercial for the first time last night. By far, one of the best advertisements I have seen – especially as a come back to the Mac ads which has cleverly assailed Microsoft for so long (since 2006).

It looks like MS has ditched Jerry Seinfeld in favor of this new strategy. The ad features a variety of people from all walk claiming that they are a "PC". I love Mac, and will likely always be a Mac user, but that doesn't replace a good response for competitive advertising.

My only question is, why did it take Microsoft two years to devise a comeback?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Must Listen: The Classic Crime

A must listen to band is The Classic Crime. No kidding, these guys could single-handedly rejuvenate the rock scene.

I emceed a concert they headlined on Monday night alongside A Current Affair and Theories of Gabriella. Good bands are always good live. Especially those who bring energy and full sound to the stage. My true test is to see if you can always tolerate listening to a band’s music at say…work. The Classic Crime passes that test.

I’ll spare you the punchy serendipitous review. These guys speak from themselves. Oh, and they hail for Seattle, so I may be biased in my view. Matt McDonald, the band’s front man even grew up in Lynden, so its good to see some homegrown talent.

Check them out from the site of your choice by first digging

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

GM comes around?

I am not a terribly huge fan of domestic cars. The 80’s did everything it could to destroy my generation’s perception of Detroit heritage. Cars made by GM, Ford and Chrysler have a notorious reputation for producing ugly cars, with poor quality and horrible resale value.

In recent years we have seen some of that turn around. Chrysler revamped the Dodge lineup by introducing the Magnum, Charger and now the Challenger, then Ford came out with its own retro styling of the Mustang, ushered in a decent mid-sized sedan with the Fusion and have some other cool projects in the works.

However, the biggest turnaround seems to be for GM. A (finally) stylish Pontiac lineup has arrived. No longer does the brand have th
at ugly, chunky plastic molding. The Solstice and G6 are sleek and stylish, and the all-new G8 is what car enthusiasts have been begging for from Americans for decades. Plus, Pontiac has shifted strategy with their lineup going to all rear-wheel drive – an excellent strategy in the re-birth of horsepower boom.

The brand I am most impressed with is Chevy. It’s the American at heart in me that has always pulled for Chevy to do better. I dry heave at the days of the Lumina, Corsica, Beretta and Cavalier. Eeek. Chevy’s newest offerings include a really cool looking Malibu that will make anyone double take and the SS Cobalt that will give any 350Z, RX8
or S2000 a run for its money, in FWD fashion. The new 2009 Camaro is something I have been lusting after ever since its concept reveal in 2006. If I can get my hands on one of these, you can bet I’ll be trolling the bully frequently.

Today I popped open Google News to see that Chevy has also officially unveiled its newest eco-friendly iteration in the Chevy Volt. It’s an electric car hybrid with an estimated 150hp that will get you 40 miles without hitting it up for gas. Most of all, this car is actually…attractive.

This is a critical move for GM. I truly believe that the future of the company rests in the hands of this single product. If it can’t make a ultra-reduced emissions vehicle, with a little bit more than a little bit of power, and do so with style and charisma, the company (who posted a recent 6% dip in trades and record-setting profit losses) may eventually become pink-slipped – or worse, bear the name of Toyota.

But here’s what’s puzzling to me. In 2003 GM canceled it’s EV1 program which delivered a compact all-electric car that could take you 160 miles on a single charge, that you could plug into your wall outlet at night, and that actually had a little zoom behind it. Those were the days when automakers weren’t particularly concerned with economy or alternative energy. And, if you believe everything that the film "Who Killed the Electric Car" tells you, then you’d see that GM actually worked hard to kill the program in favor of big oil.

Now, 5 years later, and with gas prices more than double what they were at the time of the EV1 program buzzkill, one has the wonder if GM regrets literally pulling the plug on the technology.

The Volt will take me 40 miles before the electric battery runs dry, but the EV1 had 4 times the range and was all-electric. With consumer demand for alternative energy like never before, why hasn’t GM simply resurrected the project instead of offering the medium that the Volt has?

The Volt seems to be one of the best legit hybrid offerings yet. Heck, I am a horsepower nut and swore off the smugness for years, but this is actually a decent option to me, and I can only hope that as GM develops its technology, that we’ll eventually see it improve in both style and economy.

Just don’t nix the gas-guzzling horsepower on the Camaro before I get to it!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Truth and Objectivity in Journalism

Many of you may have watched Charlie Gibson interview Sarah Palin the other night. Many more of you heard about it in the succeeding days. Gibson was praised for being a tough journalist, asking hard pressing questions about Palin's experience and questioning her qualifications to be VP.

Back in June, Gibson also interviewed Barack Obama. Today the American Thinker just released a comparison of questions Gibson asked Obama and Palin in each interview. I highly encourage you to read that article.

This is disturbing to me not because I really like Sarah Palin as a candidate, but because of what Journalism has become. Fair and balanced isn't fair and balanced. "News worthy" is a marketing term and most mainstream journalists seem to have conceded their biases and it's obvious. It's important to add that my political beliefs have nothing to do with this view. I am often just as bothered by Fox News as I am CNN.

Journalists have a duty to report, ask questions and inform the public, but all the more they seem to be more engaged with the politic, which calls into question their integrity. Gibson, who is a noteworthy journalist, really lowered the standard of quality journalism this time.