Saturday, March 26, 2011

Allen West = Awesome

I just felt like giving y'all a nice generous helping of Allen West videos today. No specific reason, other than the fact the man is just plain awesome. What other reason do you need?

This is what awesome looks like
(To help website load quickly, the videos are after the "Read more" to view)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ted Cruz in Miami on Thursday

Republican Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz is going to be in Miami on Thursday for a meet-and-greet and fundraiser. I met Cruz at CPAC and was really impressed:
Sunshine State Sarah | Meet Ted Cruz a.k.a. The Marco Rubio of Texas
Anyway, the event will be at the popular Versailles Restaurant from noon to 1:30 pm. All the details are on the flyer (click to enlarge):

I strongly encourage you to stop by and meet Ted Cruz. I expect you'll find him as impressive as I did. As an added bonus, Versailles is probably one of the best Cuban restaurants in Florida so you're guaranteed to get a great lunch. Their coffee is excellent as well.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day with Ronald Reagan

Matt Lewis posted a great story at the Daily Caller this morning about how President Reagan celebrated St. Patrick's Day in 1988:

The Daily Caller | A 'Ronald Reagan' St. Patrick's Day
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so I thought it would be fun to share with you the story of President Reagan’s surprise visit to Pat Troy’s Irish pub in Alexandria, Va.

The event, which occurred in 1988, was retold beautifully by Tom Purcell in 2003.

Here’s an excerpt:
When Troy was finished, he handed the president the microphone. The normally raucous crowd - remember, this was St. Patrick’s Day – became extraordinarily quiet. “They were spellbound,” said Troy. “I’ve never seen a large crowd that attentive in more than 20 years.”
Reagan spoke off the top of his head. He graciously thanked Troy for having him for lunch. He said it was his great surprise — that his advance men set it up, and he was thankful. He talked about his father, an Irishman.
“When I was a little boy, my father proudly told me that the Irish built the jails in this country,” he said, pausing expertly, “then proceeded to fill them.”
The crowd laughed heartily.
“You have to understand that for a man in my position, I’m a little leery about ethnic jokes,” he said. The crowd roared. “The only ones I can tell are Irish.”
He told a story about his visit to Ireland. He went to Castle Rock, the place where St. Patrick erected the first cross in Ireland.
“A young Irish guide took me to the cemetery and showed me an ancient tombstone there,” he said. “The inscription read: ‘Remember me as you pass by, for as are you are so once was I, and as I am you too will be, so be content to follow me.”
As Reagan paused, the crowd eagerly awaited his follow up.
“Then I looked below the inscription,” he said, “where someone scratched in these words: ‘To follow you I am content, I wish I knew which way you went.’”
The crowd roared loud and long, causing the president to deadpan to his advance men: “Why didn’t I find this place seven years ago?”
Here is a video of Reagan's visit to Pat Troy's Ireland's Own Pub:

YouTube | President Reagan visits Pat Troy's Ireland's Own Pub

The notes from the YouTube video:
President Ronald Reagan pays a surprise visit to Pat Troy's Ireland's Own pub in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The President, accompanied by journalist James Kilpatrick, stopped by for lunch and a pint of Harp on Saint Patrick's Day in 1988.

If you come by the pub today you can see pictures and items from the President's visit, preserved in a table right next to the stage.
Hope all of you are having a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

The RNC is selling limited-edition green elephants, named "Patrick," of course

Monday, March 14, 2011

The NRSC and Joe Scarborough: Whose Pants Are On Fire?

[Cross-posted at The Minority Report]

Running for Senate or just running his mouth?
OK, someone ain't telling the truth here...

Last week I posted a story about a story in The Hill about the NRSC apparently encouraging Joe Scarborough (pictured, left) to enter the Republican primary for the Florida Senate seat:

Sunshine State Sarah | The NRSC: Boldly Pretending 2010 Didn't Happen

Later on Friday, after the original article was published, Scarborough confirmed that NRSC Chairman John Cornyn had reached out to him:
John suggested last month that I consider running for the Senate against Bill Nelson. His intent was clear and unambiguous and echoed his quotes in The Hill. However, I love the job I have and have no intention of running for the Senate.
Scarborough for Senate? Just kidding!
Curiously, Cornyn (pictured, left) immediately and emphatically denied the story, claiming that he had not talked to Scarborough about running for Senate in Florida, but rather in New York, where he currently lives. Both Cornyn and the NRSC posted links to The Hill article and the following comments on their official Twitter accounts:
@NRSC - THE NRSC is not courting Joe Scarborough for . The story is not true.

@JohnCornyn - Rumor control: Last cycle, Joe and I talked about his interest in NY, not FL Senate race, so this story is wrong....

Burning bridges?
But wait, we're not done on this merry-go-round. Friday afternoon, NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer (pictured, left) released this statement:
In his past conversations with Senator Cornyn, Joe Scarborough had expressed an interest in perhaps running for a U.S. Senate seat in New York.  To quote Joe’s own words today, his intent was ‘clear and unambiguous’ and we took him at his word that his interest was, and is, in New York.  So not only did Senator Cornyn not ask him to run for the Senate in Florida, but for a number of reasons it stretches the bounds of credulity to even see why he would be considered a strong, viable candidate in Florida this cycle.  There are already a number of far stronger candidates looking at the Florida Senate race and we are confident that any one of them can beat Bill Nelson in 2012.  But we wish Joe the best of luck in his New York Senate pursuits and we remain fans of his cable show.
Oh, snap! Jesmer doesn't stop at calling Scarborough a liar, he takes it a step further and says he'd be a lousy candidate. A liar and a loser? The sarcasm just drips from Jesmer's words. Sounds to me like even if the NRSC had an interest in Scarborough, they are dropping matches and a gasoline can on that bridge now.

Of course, Scarborough had a response:

God Bless Our Troops...And Their Pets

Your feel-good moment of the of a soldier returning home from Afghanistan to a very enthusiastic greeting from his pet dog, Gracie...

YouTube | ltschmidt02 | Seeing my dog the day I got back from Afghanistan

As the soldier notes in the comments on his YouTube page, he and his wife adopted Gracie from his local animal shelter. As the owner of a rescue pet myself, I can tell you he is absolutely right about how much love you can get from shelter animals. They know you are rescuing them. :)

Please consider supporting the Orlando Humane Society and adopting your next pet from a shelter.

God Bless Our Troops, and everyone who supports them at home, both human and animal.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The NRSC: Boldly Pretending 2010 Did Not Happen

Apparently the NRSC didn't learn jack from the 2010 elections:

The Hill | Republican courts TV's Morning Joe for Florida Senate challenge
Republicans in Washington are trying to recruit Joe Scarborough to run against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) next year.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), told The Hill on Thursday that he has talked to Scarborough a couple times about a Senate bid. And he indicated he’s still working on persuading the MSNBC host to run for the upper chamber...
Believe it or not, this guy was once elected to Congress as a Republican.
 Are you kidding me?

Joe Scarborough? Seriously? Seriously?!

YouTube | Grey's Anatomy | Seriously?

I didn't think it was asking too much to expect the NRSC to at least remember what happened in the most recent election, but apparently I was mistaken. Let's take a moment and look back at the 2010 election...

In 2009, the endorsements from the NRSC leadership and other "establishment" Republican types for Charlie Crist within days (in some cases mere hours) of his official announcement of his candidacy angered many grassroots Republicans here in Florida. Our Oompa Loompa Governor had made Olympic sports out of flip-flopping and backstabbing, and most of us had pretty much given up all hope that he retained any true conservative principles whatsoever.

A lot has been written about Marco Rubio's victorious campaign, but what I want to focus on today is that Rubio was a viable, credible candidate from the moment he entered the Senate race. Rubio had served the full amount of time allowed by term limits in the Florida House, including serving as Speaker of the House during his last term of office. He had a reliably conservative voting record and sufficient experience to make him clearly qualified to be a Senator.

In other words, the NRSC did not need to immediately intervene in last year's Florida Senate race. There were two Republican candidates who had served in leadership positions in state government. Standing aside and letting Florida Republicans pick their nominee between the two should not have been a problem.

It's ironic how quickly and catastrophically the Crist campaign fell apart, as he didn't just abandon the Republican Party, but pretty much every single conservative principle he'd ever claimed, along the way. But what's even more ironic is how quickly and enthusiastically the NRSC has embraced Marco Rubio and attempted to claim him as their own. Here's a screenshot of the current NRSC homepage (click image to enlarge):

Please forget we supported Charlie! Look, we have a huge Marco picture!
Let's take a moment to compare how the NRCC handled 2010 in Florida. It would be completely disingenuous to claim that the NRCC does not play favorites or interfere in primaries, but their meddling was no where near the NRSC.

Specifically regarding Districts 8 and 24, which were held by Alan Grayson and Suzanne Kosmas, the Republican primaries for those seats were very heavily contested. Despite the intense level of these races, the NRCC honored the right of Florida Republicans to select their candidate and took steps to promote unity in the party.

I helped the NRCC organize an event in May 2010 for all  District 8 and 24 Republican candidates, and NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions pledged directly to the candidates that the NRCC would support was chosen as our nominees. I personally heard Sessions publicly announce this pledge to the crowd as well; he encouraged them to investigate the candidates and pick one to support in the primary, but then unite behind whoever was the eventual winner so we could defeat Grayson and Kosmas in the general election. Sessions also was able to get the candidates to agree to unite for the good of the party and support whoever the voters chose as the Republican nominee.

And that's precisely what happened. The Central Florida Republicans rallied behind Daniel Webster and Sandy Adams, and they both won by huge, double-digit margins. Contrast that with the Senate race, where Crist's Republican support disintegrated, he betrayed the party and the Republican donors who supported him in good faith.

Now, back to Florida today, there's a laundry list of viable (at least on paper) Republicans who have expressed interest in challenging Bill Nelson in 2012. Now, we can argue about who is more conservative on which issues, but I see at least a few acceptably conservative candidates who I would be fine supporting.

What I have not heard is anyone crying out for Joe Scarborough to come save us and run for Senate. I've traveled from one end of the state to the other in the past few months, I've talked with literally hundreds of conservatives, and seriously, I haven't heard one single person bring up Scarborough as someone they hope will run.

So, hey, Senator Cornyn! Don't worry about Florida. We've got this handled. If we need you, we'll call, ok?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

HJR 1097: An Assault on Judicial Independence

I don't often speak out on individual bills, but House Joint Resolution 1097 is so horrible I just can't keep quiet. 
You can read the complete text of the bill here, but essentially what it would do is change how judges are appointed, removing a well-run process which uses Judicial Nominating Commissions ("JNCs"), and instead placing the power to choose judges solely in the hands of the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
I was planning to write a critique of this bill when I found the following commentary on a friend's Facebook page. John Hamilton is a litigation partner at the Orlando office of Foley & Lardner, where I had a summer clerkship in the Summer of 2002. I found John to be an extremely thoughtful and intelligent attorney. He and I do not see eye-to-eye on a number of political issues, but I admire his ethics and commitment to our justice system. His thoughts on HJR 1097 are spot on, and I am reprinting them here with his permission:
[HJR 1097 is a] profound, outrageous attack by the Florida legislature on the independence of the Florida judicial system. It’s shameful, embarrassing, disgusting, and appalling. No legislator who actually cares even remotely about our system of justice could even consider voting for this bill...
This bill proposes [an] amendment to the Florida Constitution—one that would change the method by which Florida appellate judges are chosen. When the great treatise is eventually written on the History of Bad Ideas, an entire volume will be devoted to this one.

Currently, appellate judges (the judges on Florida’s five District Courts of Appeal and the justices on the Supreme Court of Florida) are selected through a constitutionally-mandated process that uses bodies known as Judicial Nominating Commissions (or JNCs). The JNCs—one for each appellate court—consist of attorneys and laypersons who are essentially appointed to the commissions by the governor. When a vacancy appears in an appellate court, an applicant for that seat submits an application for appointment to the court. The JNC then considers all of the applications, interviews the applicants, and deliberates. It then submits a list of at least three names, but no more than six, to the governor, who must then select the new judge from that list.

When this system was instituted in the 1970s, it replaced a system in which the governor alone selected the appellate judges. The purpose of the JNC system was to fix a judicial system that was broken—a system that had become a laughingstock because it was far-too-often tainted by appellate judges who were corrupt, incompetent, or mere political cronies of whoever happened to be governor. Often, judges fell into more than one of those categories. The JNCs were thus created “to screen applicants for judicial appointments within their respective jurisdictions and to nominate the three best qualified persons to the Governor for his appointment. The commissions were to be an arm of the executive appointive power to supplant, at least in part, the Governor's so-called ‘patronage committee’ composed of political supporters, to insure that politics would not be the only criteria in the selection of judges, and to increase generally the efficiency of the judicial appointive process.” In re Advisory Opinion to Governor, 276 So. 2d 25, 29 (Fla. 1973) (emphasis omitted).

In other words, “[t]he purpose of the judicial nominating commission is to take the judiciary out of the field of political patronage and provide a method of checking the qualifications of persons seeking the office of judge.” Id. at 30. “One of the principal purposes behind the provision for a nominating commission in the appointive process was . . . to place the restraint upon the ‘pork barrel’ procedure of purely political appointments without an overriding consideration of qualification and ability. It was sometimes facetiously said in former years that the best qualification to become a judge was to be a friend of the Governor! The purpose of such nominating commission, then, was to eliminate that kind of selection which some people referred to as ‘picking a judge merely because he was a friend or political supporter of the Governor’ thereby providing this desirable restraint upon such appointment and assuring a ‘merit selection’ of judicial officers.” Pleus v. Crist, 14 So. 3d 941, 944 (Fla. 2009) (quoting Spector v. Glisson, 305 So. 2d 777, 783 (Fla. 1974) (emphasis omitted)). The JNCs have, and were always intended to have, “constitutional independence.” Advisory Opinion, 276 So. 2d at 30.

This idiotic bill would return Florida to its failed past by eliminating JNCs for appellate judicial positions. If approved as an amendment to the state constitution, it would provide that appellate judges would merely be chosen by the governor, subject only to the approval of the state senate. The inevitable result of this would be a judicial system that is worse, weaker, less effective, and less honorable—one conducive to graft, corruption, cronyism, political patronage, and incompetence. No legitimate interest is served by such a change—none at all.

If anyone has a sufficient amount of shamelessness to try to defend this abomination, he or she will likely put forth an inapt, intellectually dishonest comparison to the method of selecting federal judges under Article III of the United States Constitution (under which judges are chosen by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate). Once again, don’t be fooled. The state of Florida and the United States are not interchangeable, and what is brilliant on a national level is ridiculously unsuitable for the state level. That isn’t a mere guess; we already KNOW that from past experience.

Now no one needs to say or think that my views on this subject should be taken with a grain of salt. I freely concede that my objectivity could reasonably be questioned by those who don’t know me well, given that I have recently been selected twice by the JNC for the Fifth District Court of Appeal as one of the six nominees to fill vacancies on that court. And yes, the second occasion was the debacle when Governor Crist unconstitutionally refused to make the appointment from the JNC’s list, until the Supreme Court of Florida was ultimately required to compel him to do so through a mandamus action.

But those who know me, even superficially, will realize that my own JNC experiences do not influence my opinion on this issue in the slightest. I revere the law. I regard the judicial system as a co-equal branch of government, just as our Founding Fathers intended. I prize the genius of the separation of powers and checks and balances that are so indispensable to our system. And I know that attacks upon the independence of the judiciary are attacks upon a cornerstone of our liberty...
John is absolutely right. 

The current JNC system requires a group of citizens - a group that includes both attorneys and non-attorneys - to review a candidate's qualifications, personally interview them, and provide a list of nominees to the Governor. I won't be so naive as to suggest that politics plays no part in the JNC's recommendations or in the Governor's eventual selection, but this process sharply diminishes the ability of anyone to politically corrupt judicial appointments.

I am a supporter of Governor Rick Scott and helped on his campaign, and I have faith that he would be able to make prudent judicial appointments on his own. However, there is no guarantee that I will like any future Governor. Removing the JNC vests way too much power in the Governor's office and creates too strong of a temptation for graft and corruption. Remember, we write laws for the office as an institution, not for the person who is currently occupying it. If you wouldn't have wanted Charlie Crist or Alex Sink to have this power, then you shouldn't want Rick Scott to have it either.

Additionally, the vetting of judicial candidates, if done properly, is a time-consuming process, and allowing the JNCs to continue their excellent work is a better idea than adding to the Governor's already extensive list of responsibilities. This is, plain and simple, a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" situation.

Please contact your Representative and encourage them to oppose HJR 1097. Visit and click on the "Find Your Representative" link near the top left to get the contact information for your Representative.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Marco Rubio's Thoughts on a Balanced Budget Amendment

Marco Rubio published the following op-ed on today (cross-posted on his Facebook page):

Townhall | Marco Rubio | "Washington Needs a Balanced Budget Amendment"
In my two short months in office, it has become clear to me that the spending problem in Washington is far worse than many of us feared. For years, politicians have blindly poured more and more borrowed money into ineffective government programs, leaving us with trillion dollar deficits and a crippling debt burden that threatens prosperity and economic growth.

In the Florida House of Representatives, where a balanced budget is a requirement, we had to make the tough choices to cut spending where necessary because it was required by state law. By no means was this an easy process, but it was our duty as elected officials to be accountable to our constituents and to future generations of Floridians. In Washington, a balanced budget amendment is not just a fiscally-responsible proposal, it’s a necessary step to curb politicians’ decades-long penchant for overspending.

Several senators have proposed balanced budget amendments that ensure Congress will not spend a penny more than we take in, while setting a high hurdle for future tax hikes. I am a co-sponsor of two balanced budget amendments, since it is clear that these measures would go a long way to reversing the spending gusher we’ve seen from Washington in recent years.

During my Senate campaign, while surrounded by the employees of Jacksonville’s Meridian Technologies, I proposed 12 simple ways to cut spending in Washington. That company, founded 13 years ago, has grown into a 200-employee, high-tech business, and the ideas I proposed would help ensure that similar companies have the opportunity to start or expand just like Meridian did.

To be clear, our unsustainable debt and deficits are threatening companies like Meridian and impeding job creation. In addition to proposing a balanced budget amendment, I recommended canceling unspent “stimulus” funds, banning all earmarks and returning discretionary spending to 2008 levels.

Fortunately, some of my ideas have found their way to the Senate chamber. The first bill I co-sponsored in the Senate was to repeal ObamaCare, the costly overhaul of our nation’s health care system that destroys jobs and impedes our economic recovery. Democratic leaders in the Senate have expressed their willingness to ban earmarks for two years after the Senate Republican conference adopted a moratorium. I have also co-sponsored the REINS Act, a common-sense measure that would increase accountability and transparency in our outdated and burdensome regulatory process. These bills, along with a balanced budget amendment, would help get our country back on a sustainable path and provide certainty to job creators.

While Republicans are proposing a variety of ideas to rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending, unfortunately, President Obama’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year proposes to spend $46 trillion, and even in its best year, the deficit would remain above $600 billion. Worst of all, the President’s budget completely avoids addressing the biggest drivers of our long-term debt – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Rather than tackle these tough, serious issues, President Obama is proposing a litany of tax hikes on small businesses and entrepreneurs, to the tune of more than $1.6 trillion. These tax increases destroy jobs, make us less competitive internationally and hurt our efforts to grow the economy and get our fiscal house in order.

A balanced budget amendment would be a necessary step in reversing Washington’s tax-borrow-spend mantra. It would force Congress to balance its budget each year – not allow it to pass our problems on to the next generation any longer.
Rubio is correct when he points out that Florida's balanced budget rules have served as a valuable restraint on our Legislature. A significant source of the problem in Washington is the federal government's ability to print more money and essentially write itself a blank check. Let's be direct: elected officials - regardless of party - often spend taxpayers' money irresponsibly. Any sort of defined limitation on their spending power forces legislatures to set priorities and make decisions because they cannot buy everything they want. Mandating balanced budgets is one of the most simple and direct restraints on wasteful spending.

What Congress does with your money
Florida has avoided the budgetary catastrophes currently facing California and other states thanks in large part to our balanced budget requirement. The Legislature can only spend whatever money the state takes in as revenue, and that's it. This is part of the reason that I was so opposed to the stimulus funds that were given to the states: it allowed - and in many cases actively encouraged - irresponsible spending practices to continue. Oh, and don't forget the increased damage that such nationwide spending added to our national debt (currently over $14 @#$%! trillion and counting...sigh...).
We're broke. Broke, broke, B-R-O-K-E, broke.

Our country has been flirting with economic suicide for far too long. Elementary schoolchildren can tell that the math doesn't make sense. There is no economic system on earth, during the entire course of human history, that has been able to sustain spending more than it produces. Congress' spending spree must end, and soon, if the American dream is to endure.

With the Democrats still in the majority in the Senate and Obama (and his veto pen) in the White House, I highly doubt that balanced budget rules can be passed at this point, but it's a worthwhile issue to discuss and I applaud Senator Rubio for his commitment to fiscal responsibility.

One reason I was such an enthusiastic supporter of Rubio's Senate campaign was his record as Speaker of the Florida House. Marco Rubio has literally walked the fiscal conservative walk. His 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future program (based on a book of ideas collected from citizens around the state) was a great success, with over half of the list becoming law.  Rubio has years of experience making tough budgetary decisions, under the constraint of that wonderful balanced-budget rule. I'm thrilled to see him continue this work in the U.S. Senate.

One final note: just to assault a deceased equine one more time, can I just say again how very, very, very glad I am that we sent Rubio to the Senate instead of the Oompa-Loompa?

My Senator is cooler than your Senator.
(Cross posted at The Minority Report)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Lefties left a mess, once again

Well, this is sadly not surprising. The Wisconsin union protesters who have been camped out in their state capitol building left a horrible, disgusting mess. Trash all over the grounds, tape residue marring the marble walls inside the building, and let's not get started on the state of the bathrooms.

Fortunately for the people of Wisconsin, some local tea partiers have volunteered to help clean up their capitol today:

The Facebook page for the clean-up event includes this description:
...It's not about partisanship or protests, but pride.

It is time to take out the trash... literally. In true Flash Mob fashion, on Sunday at exactly 1300 hours (1:00 pm for you non-military types) we will do an extensive police call (pick up the trash) around the capitol square. Regardless of the state the grounds are in, we will do this as both a literal and symbolic way to show our respect for our home. 

TEA Partiers know how this is done. It is time to show OUR pride for OUR state OUR way and be the example.

Even if you cannot attend, please share this and invite all of your sane friends who share our love of Wisconsin.

No signs, no screaming, just a necessary cleaning.
This is far from the first time that a left-wing protest has left a gigantic mess behind. The immense amounts of litter and garbage left after recent liberal events (as compared to the lack thereof for conservative events) is well documented (see here, here, and here). I find it ironic that the group that attempts to claim a monopoly on loving the environment so frequently causes such environmental damage when they gather in large numbers.

I can tell you from my own experience with an event I organized in May 2010, a rally for Republican Congressional candidates held at Orlando City Hall, that conservatives are responsible citizens when they have rallies or protests. I had brought trash bags to the event and had asked the volunteers who were helping with the event to plan on staying after to clean up the City Hall plaza. Well, I didn't end up needing any help cleaning up. Total trash I found in the entire plaza: one gum wrapper, one flyer, one Matthew Falconer campaign sign, and a water bottle in the bushes that actually looked like it had been there several days before our event. I've actually yet to attend a conservative event where I didn't see people picking up any litter and bagging any garbage.

In photos of the Wisconsin Capitol, it looks like the the union members' posters were put up with blue "painter's tape," which I've often used in craft and home improvement projects. It is less tacky than regular masking tape or duct tape, but still will leave a residue after a few days. While I'll give the Wisconsin protesters credit for at least bringing the least damaging tape, I still feel they were not properly respectful of their Capitol by taping anything to the walls in the first place. Regardless of the tape issue, there is absolutely no excuse for the discarded signs and litter left behind by the union protesters.

These "Litterbug Lefties" should be ashamed of themselves for the disrespect they showed to their own Capitol. And kudos to the local citizens who will be volunteering their time today to clean up the mess.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Charlie Sheen: If "#winning" means making SNL look clever and eloquent, then you're doing it right!

Charlie Sheen's grand plan to ensure he's never taken seriously again is going extremely well. Earlier tonight, he gathered several of his friends pathetic enablers in a room and babbled away on an online video stream-of-consciousness for about 50 minutes.

If you missed it and you don't have any drying paint or growing grass you can watch, here you go:

Video streaming by Ustream

One of my new blogger friends from CPAC, Robert Stacy McCain, has had some excellent commentary on the whole Sheentastic fiasco this past week (see here and here), pointed out that tonight's performance "might be worth a thesis" for an abnormal psychology grad student. Oh yeah, he also quoted one of my tweets:

The Other McCain | 'Sheen's Korner': Not Winning
Brutal reviews for Charlie Sheen’s Saturday night Webcast. Chris Nashawaty called it “a sloppy, self-indulgent bit of cringe theater” featuring “a posse of chuckleheads and enablers.”

About 115,000 people tuned in to watch the godawful disaster, according to USA Today. One of the viewers, Michael van Poppel said, “Wish I could get my 50 minutes back.” Another viewer, Sarah Rumpf, said: “I don’t have the expertise to diagnose Sheen as bipolar but somethin ain’t right with that boy.”

...Yeah, [CBS and Warners Brothers] got their money’s worth out of Charlie and he gave them an easy out at just the time when they needed an easy out.
OK, so I'm not going to claim that was insightful social commentary. But I will say this, if anyone ever applies for a job with me and I see a "WINNING" wrist tattoo like Sheen shows off in this video, there is no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks I'm hiring that person.

Not sure what Sheen's next career move will be. I'm thinking the best role for him to tackle next is probably the egg in an update of this famous anti-drug PSA from the 1980's:

YouTube | This Is Your Brain On Drugs

Final note: anyone else starting to worry about the increasing parallels between America today and the final years of the Roman Empire? Unsustainable debt levels, decaying moral society...and while the Romans had "panem et circenses," we have American Idol and Charlie Sheen. Sigh...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Some more photos and thoughts from Discovery's last launch

My cousin is an actual, real-life rocket scientist and works on the space shuttles. He sent me an email this morning with some great photos taken by a friend of his of Discovery's last launch, along with some comments. I'm sharing this with his permission:
An acquaintance of mine shot these photos from the Titusville, FL causeway.  They were spectacular enough that I thought I would send them to a few people...This was Discovery’s last flight.
The current launch manifest for the Shuttle program is [currently] only funded for one more shuttle flight.  We will have a second flight set of hardware built and available, so the current thought is that if we can get the funding to continue operations for a few more months, we will have the second flight.  That’s it.  The end.  No more shuttle program, and for the foreseeable future, no American manned spaceflight program.
I’ll call that the end of an era and shed a few tears.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My plans for world domination are proceeding nicely...

One of my favorite cartoon shows was (still is!) Pinky and the Brain:

YouTube | Pinky and the Brain intro

The two mice were constantly engaged in plans to "take over the world," plans which, of course, went significantly awry every single time. If you've never watched the show, I highly recommend checking it out on YouTube or elsewhere. It's deliciously snarky and extremely quotable. ("Are you pondering what I'm pondering?")

A few years ago, South Park had an episode featuring characters called "Underpants Gnomes" who also had grand designs for dominance, but economically. Their grand business plan is as follows:

Phase 1: Collect underpants
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit

As you might expect, the Gnomes' scheme was also unsuccessful.

So what is the secret to world domination?  

Well, I can't claim to know how to take over the planet, but apparently I've been doing a halfway decent job taking over the internet.  A few weeks ago I became the most followed person on Twitter in Winter Park (Full Sail University, a fertility clinic, and a rock band T-shirt/merchandise company are ahead of me, but I'm the top-ranked individual).

Then, this Monday, I woke up to a larger-than-normal number of emails, text messages, Facebook messages, and Twitter alerts on my BlackBerry. "Uh-oh. What the heck happened while I was sleeping?!"

Well, Peter Schorsch at Saint Petersblog put together a list of "Florida's Top Political Tweeters" and apparently I made the list.  Cool. I clicked on one of the links from Twitter and read the article, and nearly fell over when I saw how high I had ranked.

The list was based on scores, which are grades for Twitter accounts based on not just followers, but also influence - i.e., how often your tweets get replies or retweets. I've been pretty active with my Twitter account (@rumpfshaker - if you're not already following me, and geez, you should be), especially this past year, but didn't really have any perspective on how I ranked in comparison with other politicos around the state.

So, according to the Saint Petersblog list, the "Top Political Tweeters in Florida" are:

1. Democratic consultant Joy Reid
2. Republican consultant Rick Wilson
3. Jeb Bush
4. Sarah Rumpf
5. a tie between Progress Florida, Peter Schorsch (who made the list), and Senator Bill Nelson...

Wait. What?!

I'm number four?! Out of the whole darn state of Florida! Holy cow.

No, the movie's not about me. But maybe it should be!
Here's the entire should see a lot of very familiar names:
Florida's Top Political Tweeters

Charlie Sheen may have a world record for fastest time to reach 1 million followers on Twitter, but I am completely satisfied with my 1,400+ followers (as of today) and my non-fried brain cells, thank you very much.

So what's my secret? Is there an underpants gnome-like "Phase 1. Join Twitter, Phase 2. ?, Phase 3. Win teh Internets!" plan?

Not really. I've built up those followers little by little, step by step, day by day. I follow people I find interesting or funny, and interact with them, and try to respond when people interact with me. I retweet well-written articles and use hashtags strategically. Collecting followers on Twitter is not that much different strategically than making friends in real life. Be friendly, be helpful, be informative, be entertaining, and people will want to hear what you have to say.

It may also help that I have a somewhat silly but definitely memorable username. If you're not getting the reference, then look up a certain hit single by the early 1990s rap group Wreckx-N-Effect. I'm doing the best I can with a clunky last name.

Link to Orlando Sentinel "Tech for the rest of us" blog post by Sarah Lundy about the Top Florida Political Tweeters

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