Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Corzine's "Push" for a Senate Seat

In 2000, I was a college student in Melbourne, FL, working part time at a not-so-reputable market research company doing telephone surveys.  Truly thankless work.  That year, John Corzine would win a very close race against Bob Franks, spending $62 million of his own money in what would be the most expensive Senate campaign in history.

So how did he spend all of that money?  I certainly can't account for all of it, but I know that he sent a good chunk of it to Florida, funding political "poll" calls, most of which were anything but.  These "push polls" go something like this:  a few legitimate questions to make it feel like a true poll, followed by questions that are intended to push an idea about a candidate.  One of the most well-known examples of this occurred during the 2000 Republican Presidential primary, when Karl Rove used a push poll with the question "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?"

"Good evening, I hope I
interrupted your dinner!"
Push polls are dirty politics, to be sure, but with the exception of New Hampshire, they're legal.  But Corzine didn't stop there.  In the few days before the election, we were given a new script.  No more poll questions, just a simple message reminding folks to get out and vote.  What could possibly be wrong with that?  Well, as it turns out, quite a bit.  What we did was target some very close districts with repeated calls.  The kicker?  We said that we were calling on behalf of Corzine's opponent, Franks.  After ten or fifteen of these calls in one evening, it was understandable that many voters were irate, and informed us they'd be voting for Corzine before slamming down the phone.  Only when we got someone to that point did take them off of our call list.

So did all of this chicanery work?  Well, Corzine won the race by just four percentage points (less than 5,000 votes), so you'd have to think so.  Am I proud to have been involved?  No, but I think we all know what it's like to be young and broke. Is anything about Corzine a reason to vote Republican? Not for anyone in the current field.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kissing Goats and Finding God in Arizona

Yes, she gave me the tongue.
Spring is the perfect time to visit Arizona.  All of the desert flora is in full bloom, and the blistering heat of summer is still months ahead.  With this in mind, Mrs. Pegleg and I took a Friday off and headed to Tucson to visit a college roommate of mine who recently started a PhD program at U of A.  After a very windy Thursday night trip through the Coyote Mountains, we stopped off in Yuma, where we grabbed an excellent (and cheap!) diner breakfast at Brownie's before setting off on our second leg.

Just before Tucson, it's hard to miss an interesting-sounding roadside attraction: Rooster Cogburn's Ostrich Ranch.  We had seen it on some TV program or another, and planned to stop.  Decked out in our favorite tourist t-shirts, we were ready to, well, do some silly tourist stuff.  We ended up having a blast--who knew that feeding goats out of your mouth and getting pecked by gigantic African birds was so much fun?

On to Tucson, we met my friend at a campus pizza spot called Zachary's for some very tasty deep dish pizza.  The place is a dive, but the pizza is as good as the beer selection.  After a quick visit to my friend's lab, we headed to his place to blow off some exam steam with several games of Beirut (not Beer Pong).

Saturday started with a burger from Lindy's on 4th, which had been featured on Man v. Food.  Unfortunately, they were rather underwhelming.  The burger itself was not seasoned at all, and the toppings didn't make up for it.  After a couple more drinks downtown, we headed to Nimbus Brewing Company to taste some Arizona beer.  Nimbus did not disappoint, the Old Monkeyshine is a very nice, malty quaff.

This God is an awesome God
A bit more eating and drinking later, we found God.  Not the deity, the crazy owner of a an even crazier bar, The Meet Rack.  God--his legal name--sits at the bar under a huge amount of bras suspended from the ceiling, regaling all comers with dirty jokes.  Ask for the tour, and you will get to see the bondage room, hear tales of God's unsuccessful mayoral campaigns, and see the greatest thing of all.  The women's restroom has a condom machine.  Buy one, and an alarm rings in the bar, and all patrons will greet you with cries of, "Slut!"  It was truly a bizarre spot; on the patio a woman was in a conversation with two men about her husband's orgasms, the bartender was shirtless on the bar giving body shots.  Have enough to drink, and you might take God up on this offer: get a brand of his face and receive fifty cents off of all drinks for life.

Three-day weekends are all too fast, and Sunday meant the road back to San Diego.  Before hitting the road, we had to try the famous Sonoran hot dog.  How can you possibly go wrong with a bacon-wrapped hot dog?  You can't, and these were every bit as good as you can imaging.  Perfect fuel for a six plus hour drive.

We made great time back to California, so we managed two more brewery stops.  Alpine Beer Company is a tiny place in a tiny town, but they make excellent beer.  Their amazing Exponential Hoppiness has been selling on Ebay at a huge markup, prompting the owner to stop selling growlers and bottles.  I had the duet and enjoyed it immensely, crisp and not overly hopped, it would be a good summer brew.  Final stop was the city-subsidized El Cajon Brewing Company.  The beer was good, not great, but the facility is amazing.  Amazing what you can do with a boatload of redevelopment money.

Altogether a great trip.  Good weather, good friends, and good beer.  What more can you ask for?