My Iowa Caucus Experience in Photos

2012 Iowa Caucus

On another trip back to my homeland of Iowa, I thought I should take the opportunity of being here to document a little bit of history while the caucus[wiki] happened yesterday.
Continue reading “My Iowa Caucus Experience in Photos”

There are more than just two parties in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections

Secrecy Envelope

One of the things that blindsided me when I was able to vote for the first time in the 1996 U.S. presidential elections[wiki] was that there were more people running for president than I was aware of. The fact of the matter was that I was a very young voter who was a few months into my senior year of high school, and it was important to me to vote. Still, I was astounded that I had never heard of any of these other people, parties, or what it was that they stood for.

It’s true that Ross Perot[wiki] had his run with the Reform Party, and the Green Party always seems to be popping up here and there. The thing is that the U.S. election system is not a strict, one or the other choice. There can be, and there are, more parties to choose from other than just Democrat or Republican. Yes, in America, there is an unspoken, multi-party system, and if wasn’t for the massive amount of personal wealth that Perot used for his own campaign in 1996, his third party probably wouldn’t have ended up as front and center on Saturday Night Live skits, yet alone in the debates. It was also great entertainment, not to mention a boost to ratings.

More than two parties to vote for

In the district in which I am able to vote via absentee, I have nine, total options to choose from. It’s true that there is a write-in, and that is an amazing option that we have in the U.S. system. I once had a good friend write in Trent Reznor for president and Henry Rollins as V.P. You can call that a waste of a vote, but it’s still an exercise of your right to let the government know how you feel.

Outside of the two main parties and the write-in, my ballot has seven other parties to choose from. Hardly any of them are covered by the mainstream media outlets, and not one of them were involved in public debates with the other big two parties, yet alone chased around the country with TV cameras, dissecting every move they made.

Straight ticket voting It makes me go back to that day when I was able to vote for the first time. Who were those people? What did they stand for? You mean there is an option other than these other two guys I’ve been essentially forced to choose between?

Folks will tell you that is just the way things are and the two party system is how the world works, and it makes sense to me why there are people across many generations who are disillusioned with a system where you have to choose between two entities that they would rather not vote at all. It’s personally hard for me to comprehend that apathy, especially when that write-in exists, no matter who it is that you want to write in.

At the same time, you have other options. Look into the other parties who are running under the mainstream radar. Some of them might seem completely crazy, but if you are one deciding not to choose “between the lesser of two evils” by not voting at all, give it some thought, register to vote, and cast your ballot for who you want to represent you.

I’m a blogger in Canada who can vote in the U.S. elections

It is curious, isn’t it?

With that dig on bloggers, I thought that I would point out something that struck me funny about McCain, being the hockey fan that I am.

If the need arises and the range is close, Mark Salter will edit John McCain in midsentence. After 19 years at each other’s side, neither man gives it a second thought. When a writer for The New Yorker was interviewing them last year about their latest best-selling book, the talk turned to hockey and the Arizona senator’s admiration for Wayne Gretzky[wiki], who coaches the Phoenix Coyotes. “Wayne Gretzky is one of the all-time best American athletes!” McCain proclaimed. But even before his boss finished speaking, Salter had spotted a slip-up: the hockey legend is from Ontario. “Yes,” Salter interjected, “Gretzky is one of the best American athletes … from Canada!” [newsweek]

We’re in the home stretch for the 2008 U.S. presidential elections, and this will be my first time to vote in a federal election as a U.S. citizen and a permanent resident of Canada.

I’m trying to get everything in order to get my voting out of the country lined up so I don’t miss the boat. If you are one of these such people, be sure to check out the Federal Voting Assistance Program. The site is dedicated to folks like myself to get information about how to get your absentee ballet by the time the elections hit in November.

With Obama choosing Biden as his running mate, the end is in sight for this battle. And as a blogger, I hope I can put out the message to those U.S. citizens around the world to pickup on your opportunity to help shape the future of the world, no matter who it is that you would rather see win.

This would include third, fourth, or fifth parties. In fact, if you have someone you’d rather write in, I say go for it. I once had a buddy put down Trent Reznor[wiki] for president with Henry Rollins[wiki] as VP.

What a glorious world that would have been.

The point is that you have the right to vote. That power is your voice to say how you want things to be ran, and this applies to any country with some form of democracy. With the possibilities of a Canadian election on the horizon, this notion has greater baring than just my home country.

To go along with the spirit of the elections, CommonCraft produced another great video about the elections, putting the whole process into plain English of how the U.S. president gets elected.


Electing a US President in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

There you have it. Now get out there and rock the vote.

The politics of rock and roll

iTunesI’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Well, maybe I’ve said it more than once. I can’t be all too sure. Anyway, a wise man once told me that any music that you listen to and love, then that’s what rock and roll is. I have lived by that mantra for the past ten years and will probably go to my grave saying it over and over.

I noticed something the other day. Living in the world of iTunes, there are certain playlists of goodness that I have setup up. “Bueno” is all things good with little care of any particular genre. “Happy Joy” is straight up electronic, usually something of a booty shaking quality. “Sleepy” is pretty self explanatory, but it’s something that you mellow out to as well as relax to while you drift off to la la land. It’s the new era of making mix tapes, and I know that there are a variety of those that I made and are still floating around somewhere.

MuseThere’s one playlist in particular that gets more adding and subtracting than others, and this means it also goes into play quite often. Going back to my post about listening to a lot of the new Muse album, the political tone of a majority of the album has captured my attention. Sure, the 2008 elections are coming up for the U.S., so this would stand to reason. Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, climate change, and the list can go on and on.

I’ve never been one to seek out politically minded music, nor have I ever been against it. I’ve also known people that listen to only such things. Like I said, it all comes down to that which sounds good to you and you simply have a love for what you hear.

So who is that has changed? Is it the artists or me?

It could be that my tastes have changed. It could also be the political climate of today. Regardless, more people are putting the message in their music. Thing is, it’s not all the same argument of “down with the man”. Sure, there is some of the “destroy and rebuild” message, but I think that it’s more than that.

Sparta @ Richards on Richards
Me and Jim Ward of Sparta
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

In the interview of RadioZoom#118 with Jim Ward of Sparta, he told me straight up that the track “Taking Back Control” is all about getting into the system of government and creating change from the inside. Running for office and becoming apart of those who make decisions that control our lives. This, of course, is in relation to the dissatisfaction with the current U.S. administration. A great concept, indeed, but we’re having a hard enough time getting younger generations to vote, period. However, I like the idea a whole lot.

I wish I could speak to these issues like Matt Good can, but my mind is a messy sponge when I get going. Combine his musings and my playlists consisting of, but not limited to, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, Muse, The Decemberists, and so on, I’ve noticed this shift in my personal method of thought when it comes to political issues. I used to abstain from it as much as possible, only considering the negative aspects that it would bring to relationships between me and those around me. I still don’t have a good label on what my stance is on anything and everything, but liberal is a good start.

It’s tough. I live by the rule that you can never know enough of everything that there is to know because being a know-it-all is no fun. I keep an open eye and mind on everything I read and hear. Limit yourself to one brand and side of media, and you’re bound to get blind sided. At this point, you have to put faith in yourself to figure out the truth.

I have to invoke a quote from High Fidelity[imdb], but with some minor tweaking. Do I listen to politically minded music because I am politically aware? Or am I politically aware because I listen to politically minded music?

Comes with very little surprise

In my head, I think Tom Vilsack[wiki] should have been the VP nominee in the last election to John Edwards. I knew it was over for the Democrats when Kerry got the nod, and let it be the last time that happens.

Iowa Democrat jumps in presidential race

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa jumped into the 2008 U.S. presidential race on Thursday, saying voters want a new direction for the country “and that’s what I intend to do as president.”

Vilsack, a two-term governor who is leaving office this year to concentrate on his White House bid, stressed his moderate record and a bipartisan approach on education, economic development and health care as governor of Iowa.

“Americans sent a clear message on Tuesday. They want leaders who will take this country in a new direction,” Vilsack said. “They want leaders who share their values, understand their needs and respect their intelligence.

"That's what I've done as governor of Iowa, and that's what I intend to do as president," he said." [reuters]

Another surprise is that Iowa will remain under Democratic control with Chet Culver[wiki] becoming the 41st governor of the state. Additionally, this is only the second time in the history of the state that there has been members of the Democratic party elected back to back for the office of governor. I would have thought Nussle[wiki] would win on name recognition alone, but maybe Chet's good looks accounted for something more at the polls.

Something about that name gets to me. Governor Culver? No. I don't think so. It's "Governor Chet" all the way. With a title like that, he can be everyone's buddy!

Political leanings of the state tend to vary with every election, and I would go as far to say that it really depends on the area and voter turn out. Last presidental election went to the Republicans, and 2000 saw the Democrats get the majority of the state to vote for them. It's always difficult to say what the feeling is year to year. It's not as clear cut as one would imagine.

Regardless, the world needs more people from Iowa running things. That's my initial thought. Do I think Vilsack is up to the task? I'd like to think so, but he has a lot to prove until the first primaries. A lot of people wanted him to be somewhere in the last election, so he has that going for him.

Update: An article in the Des Moines Register points out that Vilsack has his own MySpace page. I don't know if it's legit, but this might be a prelude of what to expect from the '08 election march.

So long, Mr. Rumsfeld

Even though it’s made up and satirical, The Onion barely misses the mark with what they do. Sometimes the headline is the best part, but this article is well worth it. At least I know I had a good laugh.

The Onion

Rumsfeld: ‘My Half-Assed Job Here Is Done’

WASHINGTON, DC—After nearly six years of much-publicized service as Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld announced his resignation…

Get rich through voting

I’m not talking about getting rich by intellectual leaps and bounds either. This comes from a CNN article about various items that people were on the ballots across the U.S.

Voters weren’t keen about another, more quirky Arizona measure: They defeated a proposal that would have awarded $1 million to a randomly selected voter in each general election. [cnn]

That’s the one item that gets me the most. How sad is it that you have to lure people out to vote by dangling a crap load of cash in front of them? Forget paying attention to the issues because you can be sure as hell that anyone will run to the voting booth to fill in the dot, check the box, complete the arrow, punch the card, hit the button on the touch screen, do the hokey pokey, or however the hell you actually vote in your state, just so they can say that they were close to being a millionaire in the last election.

Use new media for action, not just voice

I’m taking a cue from Adam Curry, and you can bet that he’s not the first person to be saying this. It’s just something that I heard recently on his podcast, and the sentiment is echoed in an article posted on MacNewsWorld recently.

Kenton Ngo is a policy wonk. He dissects election data using mapping software and reads transportation bills. He hosts a video podcast on his blog, one that draws as many as 2,000 readers a week.

Ngo is recognized at political rallies and has joined conference calls with Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, but he has never voted in a primary or general election. He has never paid property taxes. He is not registered for Selective Service.

Ngo is 15 years old, has a driver’s permit and braces, and is a member of the West Springfield High School debate team in Northern Virginia. [macnewsworld]

Blogs and podcasts are the new way for disseminating your thoughts and opinions about politics. I am all for that. Speak you mind, shout for the truth, and encourage people to bind together in an effort to change things.

I’m kind of sick of it. The reason being, nothing has really changed. We write away on the web only to see not much for results. This kid in Virginia has a great thing going, but there has to be more.

The methods are there. We have all sorts of ways to send out messages to the masses, so why not use it to actually do something? Less talking, more action, so to say. Use these technologies to make a run for public office. This is what I would like to see.

I admit to being a hypocrite with my own post here, but the idea is something I’m a fan of. I’m also far from being a good candidate for the effort. However, I’m all about new media and helping out.

The battle of who could care less

The Killers pointing fingers at Green Day? Say it isn’t so!

The Killers ‘offended’ by Green Day

Brandon Flowers doesn’t want to be an ‘American Idiot’

Brandon Flowers has criticised Green Day for what he sees as their calculated anti-Americanism.

In particular, Flowers singled out the track ‘American Idiot’ and the fact they filmed their DVD ‘Bullet In A Bible’, which features the song, in the UK.

“You have Green Day and ‘American Idiot’. Where do they film their DVD? In England,” The Killers‘ frontman told The Word. “A bunch of kids screaming ‘I don’t want to be an American idiot’ I saw it as a very negative thing towards Americans. It really lit a fire in me.”

Explaining he was offended by the set-up, Flowers added: “You have the right to say what you want to say and what you want to write about, and I’m sure they meant it in the same way that Bruce Springsteen meant ‘Born In The USA’ and it was taken wrongly, but I was really offended when I saw them do that.”

The singer added he felt the DVD was a bit of a a stunt.

“I just thought it was really cheap,” he explained. “To go to a place like England or Germany and sing that song – those kids aren’t taking it the same way that he meant it. And he [Billie Joe Armstrong] knew it.”

The Killers‘ frontman said he believed that his band’s new album ‘Sam’s Town’ is a much better representation of America.

“People need to see that, really, there are the nicest people in the world here!” he declared. “I don’t know if our album makes you realise that. But I hope it’s from a more positive place.” [nme]

It seems like I hear the latest by The Killers every morning when the alarm goes off and the radio in the bathroom gets turned on. Mind you that we don’t own a car, but seems like everytime we are in one, “He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus…

Someone told me something not too long ago that makes a lot of sense and is completely applicable to this situation. The industry does as much as it can to milk every last drop out of an artist that it possibly can.

Even artists with one album can have their own DVD pushed onto the store shelves. You don’t need a long track record to have that live, special edition to hit your local Wal-Mart or Zellers. Two or three albums later, the “best of” whoever and whatever start showing up.

Politics or truly representing what Americans are, it’s all rock and roll. The record execs want to push more of the product as they possibly can. Brew a feud, create a buzz, and launch more ways to increase revenue. Even if there is truth to what is being said, I doubt anything was that well thought out and planned. The thing that probably bothers people more is the fact that they had to pay $40-$60, per ticket, just to get in and see any of these guys.