Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Another Cheesehead for Penna
Looking over the primary and caucus results from tonight, I noticed the name Fern Penna on the tallies for Arizona, Missouri, and New Mexico. Who? Turns out that Fern Penna is a 40-year-old entrepreneur from New York who earned his first million at age 19. According to his website, his grandfather was a long-time friend of Ronald Reagan and his father invented the first electronic calculator. A derisive Boston Globe profile of the candidate says his father also worked on the Apollo program, and that Penna is upset because George W. Bush swiped his idea for manned missions to Mars.

Lest you think this is a do-it-yourself campaign, Penna's website says that Terry McAuliffe announced him as the 10th Democratic presidential candidate at the Democratic National Committee's winter meetings. The site also boasts endorsements from the treasurer of the Committee to Elect Judge James M. DeLeon for Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, one of the partners in a Kingston, New York, law firm, and a set of Verizon customer service supervisors, location unknown. Plus there are pictures of the candidate with folk singer Pete Seeger and former DNC chairman Charles Manatt. And of course, there are pictures of the candidate's family--his wife, Elodie, and their two-year-old daughter, Starsea. (That the First Daughter could be named "Starsea" may be the strongest reason to vote for Penna.)

Penna's website is full of information about his positions, which are naive in an utterly charming way--but probably neither more nor less naive than your website or mine would be if either you or I decided to run for president. For example, Penna's major homeland security prescription is a new form of x-rays to examine all airline passengers and containers coming from foreign ports. He has a plan to save Social Security, although he doesn't say what it is. He would create a national health care system by eliminating the food-stamp program and funneling the money into Medicaid, for which Americans would pay $9 a month. Strict price controls would be placed on medical services and prescription drugs. He would also eliminate potholes on highways and raise the speed limit in the passing lane to 85 MPH. He would fight forest fires by building water towers around high-risk forest areas. On foreign policy, he's for fair trade as well as "real solutions and honest brokering in the Middle East," and he says that "global hot spots will be handled carefully, swiftly and multilaterally."

So he's better than Bush, then.

Notes: On Yahoo's election results page tonight, even though there were no numbers from Arizona as of 8:00 Central Time, there was a big checkmark next to John Kerry's name denoting him as the winner. (Clairvoyance in the desert, or typo?) Also, the Associated Press is reporting that Joe Lieberman will give it up later tonight. Thus the last man in America who didn't know the campaign was dead has finally seen the light. And how 'bout that race in Oklahoma? With 80 percent of precincts reporting as of the time of this post, Edwards and Clark are in a nearly flat-footed tie, only 63 votes apart of about 240,000 cast. Election night is more fun when we have to wait for them to actually count the votes.

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