Thursday, March 22, 2007

Quiznos is questionable

Has anyone seen that new Quiznos commercial for their prime rib sandwich? It features this little Asian girl at the end who says, "It's got a lotta meat, and that's what real women want. HeeHeeeeHaaaHeee...emoticon giggling." Anyway, after seeing this ringing endorsement of their new sandwich, I decided to check it out. I went to Quiznos when they first opened and hadn't been back since. The non-existent parking lot doesn't help matters either. Makes it more appealing to the nomadic transients of Wheeling which doesn't bode well for the overall dining-in experience.
The first thing I noticed was that the "sandwich artisan" was squeezing a shitload of some kind of "green mayo-inspired substance" (possibly cilantro infused) onto a sandwich. I glanced at the menu board and it said it came with mayo. Fearing an inundation, I opted to have them hold the mayo. Don't worry, I didn't actually say those words - hold the mayo. I think I said, "Could you please refrain from using any condiments." Anyway, my options were small, medium or large. I opted for the medium. a few minutes later my $7.50 sandwich was in my hands. I also got an overpriced bag of jalapeno chips which jacked up the meal (no drink) to almost nine bucks. Pretty steep for take-out from a mid-end sandwich shack.
My overall impression of the meal was not good. I've said it before and I'll say it again. There's good and there's not good. This was not good. Don't be fooled by the Asian hottie in the commercial. The sandwich was slightly below mediocre. However, the chips were pretty good.

Monday, March 19, 2007

"buying" the presidency

It's pretty obvious that the 2008 election is wide open. You've got the major players - Clinton, Obama, Guliani, McCain, Edwards and about 10 other lesser figures who think they've got a shot. I expect to see a few Independent candidates enter the fray as well. The trick is you probably need about a hundred million and some serious name recognition if you are going to pose a reasonable threat. Right now there are about 350 billionaires in the US and I think about 800 worldwide. That's a ton of cash in the hands of a select few. I would not be surprised if one of these billionaires, perhaps an businessman/egomaniac/entertainer decided to throw his weight around. There are plenty of young dot com entrepeneurs out there as well.
In the past few decades, there has been a ton of corporate spending and individual fundraising which has had a dramatic impact on who can or can't run effectively. Considering the vast amount of wealth in the hands of a select few, I think it's highly probable that one of these billionaires would try and take a shot. Here's the catch - they'll all be regarded as trying to buy the presidency and will likely fail. HOWEVER, if you could persuade one of these guys to bankroll an independent candidate (say to the tune of 100 or 200 million) - I think it would work. Imagine a guy like the MSNBC news reporter Chris Matthews with a centrist philosophy (social liberal, fiscal conservative) who has a vibrant personality with incredible extemperanous speaking abilities deciding to make the run. He has fantastic name recognition and strong credibility. Most importantly, he has no reason to pander to the DC lobbyists or corporate bullies because he has been totally bankrolled. The bankroller can claim that he/she is doing this for the good of the country and will decline any position in the future govt. They could use the line - the last thing this country needs is another easily-influenced politician (governor, mayor, senator, etc.). We need someone from the outside who will stand up for what he thinks is right. Listen up, I'm doing this for purely philanthropic purposes. The candidate would have a free hand to run things as he sees fit. The candidate (for hypothetical reasons, let's say it is Chris Matthews) would have enormous advantages. You could wage your campaign after the primary season, so you wouldn't have to waste any money in the build-up. Even though money is irrelevant with this scenario. Plus, you'd make your announcement right after the nomination process and totally steal the momentum from both parties. Your campaign could be largely waged through the media - television advertising - since money is no object.
The trick would be finding one of these billionaires who has a vested interest in turning this country around and who's not an egomaniac that thinks he can win the presidency himself. For some reason, Donald Trump keeps coming to mind. He could personally run, but he couldn't win (at least I pray not). But judging from his love of publicity and recent anti-Bush bashing, I wouldn't be surprised if he has considered this new concept. The only downside is that you and your candidate might wind up dead. I can't think of a better scenario designed to infuriate the entire political establishment. The beauty of this picture - it's very difficult to question the bankroller's motivation. They are pursuing this course "for the good the country." I can't imagine a situation more appealing to someone like Trump. All of a sudden, he's the most sought after interview on the planet and his underlying inspiration is noble.
I'm throwing this out there because the 2008 election is wide open. And I've got to believe that all this unbridled individual capitalism eventually has to play an even greater role in determining our leaders (instead of it always being the corporate sector). There's balance out there in all aspects of government, including capitalism and democracy.
Regardless, of this potential scenario shaking things up, I do there will be a few more independent candidates who launch campaigns after the primary season. There's a a gap forming for a universally liked, centrist candidate. All they need is a couple hundred million. The main difference between the 2008 election and other recent elections is that this one presents a credible opportunity. Just something to think about....
By the way, if one or a few other "power" candidates jump in, I think it guarantees a Hillary victory. Her base isn't going anywhere. She could win with a diluted vote - a lot like her husband in 1992 when Ross Perot siphoned off the Bush Sr. vote.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Scooter Libby Trial

Yeah, I realize this blog is supposed to be about restaurant & concert revies and sometimes anti-religious tirades but I thought I'd weigh in on something a little more serious. After seeing the Libby trial come to a close, it made me reflect on the war in Iraq and how we got there. I think everyone can agree (regardless of political affiliation) that Scooter Libby was the "fall guy" for Cheney and Rove. Basically, someone had to be held accountable for the outing of Valerie Plame and the Joe Wilson smear campaign. It ended up being him. I can't envision a scenario where Bush doesn't pardon him at the end of his term. I truly doubt he'll do 20 years in a medium security prison. However, it'll bve a while before all that plays out.
But anyway, here's my thoughts on Iraq. You always see the press get caught up in the minor details and avoid the larger, more "surreal" issues. Most people realize that Cheney and his buddies (not Bush) were eager to get rid of Saddam and alter the landscape of the Middle East. I think post 9/11, Cheney was thinking to himself - "We've got to do more than Afghanistan. It's simply not enough. We need to send a statement to the world that if you're a rogue dictator who gets in bed with a terrorist organization, then your days are numbered." Strangely enough, I tend to agree with this underlying message. Afghanistan was simply "not enough." And let's face it, we couldn't go to war with Iran or North Korea at that moment. You've got to pick your enemies carefully - ones you can crush. Something more needed to happen. I just didn't agree with the necessity of invading and occupying Iraq (from the beginning). What's really weird is how Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Perle got together and convinced a naive president that we were going to liberate the Middle East. These guys fed Bush the "spreading Democracy" routine. We will be greeted as liberators, not occupiers. Oil revenue will pay for the war. Saddam has got go. Bush ate this stuff for breakfast. All his early speeches were about liberating the oppressed Iraqis. Iraq will be a shining example of freedom and inspire reform throughout the Middle East. Why have people forgotten this stuff?
What's really sad is that our President has always believed this stuff. He really believed that if we conquered Iraq, there would be a domino effect and Syria, the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia and all the others would magically transform. My question is... I understand the Cheney rationale that "something more than Afghanistan needed to happen," but how could we elect a President who, til this day, does not realize what is going on. And I assure you, he still doesn't know. That's what is truly scary. I know all this stuff gets touched on in the media and they often mention how Cheney runs the White House, but I think the press would be well-advised to look into the HUGE DISCONNECT between the president and the v.p. I think what's really sinister is that Cheney has convinced Bush Jr. that he's the one calling the shots. Bush really thinks that he's the one defining global policy. Trust me, Bush doesn't know this is happening. And it's still happening.