Monday, December 31, 2007

W T F ! 2007: A Review

As we bid adieu to 2007 tonight, let’s take a look back at the things we should not repeat. Here are the W T F’s of 2007, in no particular order:

1.The Publication of I Did It: This year, Ron Goldman’s family won the rights to the book called If I Did It that O.J. Simpson wrote about if he had “hypothetically” killed Ron and Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. The Goldman family, still owed money from the civil trial (the Brown family also is owed money from this trial), was awarded the manuscript by a Florida bankruptcy court. After changing the title, the Goldman family and Beaufort Books released the book this past September.

Whether you believe Simpson did it or not, The Goldmans should take a page out of the Browns playbook – let it go. Yes, you are in pain. Yes, the court awarded you monetary damages. But seriously, is publishing this book going to bring back your son? What about Nicole’s children that already have to live with the facts of the murder of their mother and all of the previous published and aired news pieces on the matter? Is the money you made from the book worth it?

Still the only class act in this debacle is the Brown family, putting the kids first and trying to heal their inconceivable loss. Let’s hope there will not be any more W T F’s in this matter.

2.The Natalee Holloway Debacle: In the summer of 2005, I sat horrified in a foreign country as the media reported how this young woman on a high school graduation trip with 124 of her classmates and at least 8 chaperones in Aruba.

Again this year, the three original suspects, Joran van der Sloot and Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, were re-arrested and then released. The prosecutor said that the case would be closed without charges being brought against anyone.

We have problems in our legal system, no doubt. But, how can people not find even one viable lead or witness on a 20-mile by 5-mile island? I know we have unsolved cases here but, Aruba is only slightly larger that the borough of Manhattan and has 1.4 million less people. Sigh… it is frustrating to me as a parent and a BIG W T F.

3. Reality Shows – don’t make me laugh: Before some of attack me here me out. I don’t mean things such a Dancing with the Stars, Top Chef, Project Runway, etc. These shows are interesting as people are competing doing some task that many of us wish we could do as well as those competing.

I am talking about things that highlight the idiocy of our species – WifeSwap, The Bachelor, Big Brother, and anything on MTV. Do we really need to see how people are worse off than ourselves to give us a self-esteem boost? If you need the boost, tune into any entertainment show and get the latest on the Britney slow boat to emotional meltdown. In this day and age, do we need to see women so desperate for love and marriage they get on a TV show to throw themselves at some guy to take care of them. What happened to “I Am Woman”? Can we start a petition or a movement to get these things off the air… please? W T F!

4. Media in general – When did MSNBC, CNN, etc. start carrying such in depth coverage of celeb-u-tards? Look, I freely admit that I keep up with those things (to keep up with my students), but I go to specific outlets for those tidbits. I watch CNN to get world news, weather, etc. The fact that some debu-tard got out of a limo without panties should never run before the news of an impending snow day. W T F - everything has its proper place.

5. Holiday shopping- Look, I feel for people that are single parents, de facto single parents, or just busy parents. I am one and have been for years. I can feel your pain of trying to spread the holiday cheer with your kids in tow. However, please remember, your kids are people too and have limits. Never bring a toddler on a 6+ hour shopping trip with less than 2 weeks to Christmas and expect that the child won’t utter a peep. All the commotion that now surrounds the holidays is enough to make a grown-up who understands what is going on cry. Help yourself and the economy (a 2 for 1 deal), hire a babysitter, bribe a friend, threaten a family member and leave your cherub(s) home. You may find that everyone will be more in the holiday spirit for doing so... and you won't be screaming W T F in front of your impressionable children.

Here is wishing that we learn from our mistakes and grown form it in the New Year. Wishing all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Joe & Where We Live

Joe & Where We Live

Did anyone in CT catch Judas Joe on NPR’s Where We Live this morning, doing his “Islamist Terrorism” thing?

Yeah, in commenting on Benazir Bhutto’s tragic death, tragic Joe couldn’t resist spewing his “Islamist terrorism,” I-told-you-so rhetoric. After all, the show's feature wasn’t about the unfortunate passing of a world leader; it was about “me and my world view,” sayeth Judas Joe.

Thankfully, there was a round-table guest who did point out the OBVIOUS problem with Joe’s rhetoric: focusing on terrorism in general rather than seemingly assigning it to one particular group or religion is more beneficial in the long run. But, alas, Judas Joe is soooooo independent minded.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Men's Room

The Men’s Room

Another blog about Larry Craig? You wish.

It seems, though, that most of the mainstream media got stuck in the men’s room during their coverage of Craig’s indecent behavior and haven’t gotten out. Considering the media’s treatment of Senator Clinton’s bid for the Whitehouse, being stuck in the men’s room certainly seems to be the case. And while public restrooms can be sites of relief and satisfaction—perhaps on both literal and figurative levels, could we PLEASE at least move out of the stalls, wash our hands, and take a look at ourselves in the mirrors?

To say that the coverage of Clinton doesn’t smack of sexism is to say that racism no longer exists in America. We all know that both racism and sexism are alive and well and, much unfortunately, as American as apple pie. And whether we are supporting Hillary Clinton or not—I’m still undecided; there’s unquestionably a sexist undercurrent to the coverage of her campaign, her cleavage, her laugh, her “shrillness,” and her dress. Sorry—perhaps if John’s hair got more attention; Mitt’s make-up and sexy smile got even more attention; and pundits speculated—ad infinitum—whether or not Obama without a tie had to do with a strategy to appeal to female voters, I wouldn’t feel the need to raid the men’s room.

Leading the brigade is none other than Chris Matthews, who, night after night after night, morning after morning after morning (when he cameos on Today or Morning Smoe), seethes with hatred of Hillary. He repeatedly calls her shrill; he has—I kid you not—made issue of her laugh…and her cleavage; and he seems to book anyone on his show that would indulge him in his male castration fear disorder.

In fact, Matthews’ recent push for Obama seems to originate more from his hatred of Hillary than from a genuine appreciation of Obama. The same can be said for none other than Andrew Sullivan, who wrote an entire treatise for The Atlantic Monthly on why Obama can Kum Ba Ya and bring the country together—yeah, right. Again, much like Matthews, Sullivan also seems to anchor his argument more in his distaste for Hillary rather than in his alleged appreciation for Obama.

Matthews and Sullivan are just a few examples; the least said about the rest of the boys and their current fixation on Hillary's wrinkles, the better.

There’s no question that Hillary has glaring flaws and an electability issue, which the ever astute IC at Presidential Politics has examined in great detail. If we all are on the same page with equal opportunity, though, Hillary should get the same media treatment as everyone else, which brings me to my point: let’s focus less on the cleavage, the wrinkles, the laugh, the tongue-and-cheek comments about evil men, the wardrobe, the shrill tone, etc. Hillary Clinton may or may not be the best choice as the Democratic nominee for ‘08 but let’s allow the caucus goers to decide, not the mainstream media—from the men’s room.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yuletide Debris


Yuletide Debris

There is a sort of unidentified gravitational pull that gains strength this time during the year. Energized by the spirit of Christmas past, this black-hole force almost resembles the Sedona Vortex, which seems to have oddly enough re-located itself in our collective consciousness.

An unexpected Christmas card here; a strange e-mail here, or there at work, or yikes, there on your blackberry; a gift perhaps; a message from a friend…of your mother’s or–strangely—of your aunt’s; the worst—a telephone call—or even worse—a surprise appearance at the party you always attend.

Yes, folks, I’m talking about the Yuletide Debris, the uncanny re-emergence of former beaus, lovers, friends, and, well, f-buddies of the past that paralyze us all in our attempts to make old acquaintances be forgotten—and f**king dead.

I thought it was just me; like the Christmas cards that come in the mail, somehow, with karmic timing, I inevitably get an update about an ex and/or I get unexpectedly slimed by a former friend who WON’T GO AWAY. The most recent example manifested itself in a holiday greeting in which the perpetrator in question suggested that one of my children was fat. I kid you not. Hence, this person IS not a friend and thus I must make sure my virtual electric fence is on HIGH to brace myself against the shock waves of Yuletide debris.

Even the great IC of Presidential Politics, I’m told, had to deal with some trash coming out of his bag; Femme Fatale reports that a former ex has attempted to do her interpretation of Dickens’ ghost of IC’s Christmas trash. Poor IC; whatever will we do should he get really slimed during this intense caucus season?

So the questions are: What do we do with Yuletide Debris? How do we avoid the awful practice of taking it in—which I have foolishly done before—to re-gift for another episode of more of the same? What are your strategies to deflect the shock waves, the cries from the past, the yearning to reach out across the great divides of time, space, and conflict? Do you fight back like a Jedi Knight who understands the flow of the force, or do you succumb like a cowardly muggle?


I say the heck with the mistletoe—get out the garlic, the holy water, the strange little lady from Poltergeist to keep YOUR Yuletide debris back on the curb where IT BELONGS.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Sentence on Each Republican Candidate

Weekly Wednesday Presidential Politics - 12/19/07


Here is one sentence on each Republican candidate that should get you up to speed if your temporary residence this month has been next door to a megadrile.

Rudy Giuliani - He's giving up on all of the early states to concentrate on Florida, which would set up Super Tuesday, reminding us of an adage regarding eggs and a solitary basket.

Mike Huckabee - Contrarily to Giuliani, Huckabee is putting nearly all his efforts into the early primaries, counting on the momentum to roll over into Florida and Super Tuesday, reminding us of an old adage about a hare.

Duncan Hunter - Hunter reminds us of a tortoise, the reason for which has nothing to do with an old adage.

John McCain - McCain has temporarily taken the headline wars from Huckabee, earning numerous newspaper significant endorsements as well as one from party-crossing Joe Lieberman, which should excite independents who can vote in the Republican primary.

Ron Paul - He picks up about a point every month, which means if this election is held in 2047... he has a shot.

Mitt Romney - Romney's starting to throw some jabs at Huckabee, but if Romney doesn't make up ground by the end of the week, expect to see some right hooks starting on December 26th, Boxer Day. (Even I was taken aback at my cleverness there.)

Tom Tancredo - Speaking of Romney, if he doesn't win Iowa, he can still win New Hampshire, which keeps him alive to fight until Super Tuesday.

Fred Thompson - Wouldn't making Die Hard 5 be more fun?

(Note: I'm writing a post every workday over at Presidential Politics for America.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Off the Wagon


Off the Wagon

My name is sptmck, a part-time blogger, and I AM “off the wagon.” After spending months of de-toxing and painfully abstaining from “going negative” on Judas Joe, formerly Captain Lieberman, formerly Oedipus Lieberman, formerly Joe Lieberman, Democrat from CT, I thought for sure that I twelve-stepped my way to a new found serenity. Unfortunately for me, and many CT Bloggers, God neither granted me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change nor the wisdom to know the difference.

It’s official: Judas Joe is back and more heinous than ever. Talk about a “double-birdie” to us Ned Lamont supporters, and, more surprisingly, to the Democratic Establishment that should’ve seen shameless Joe for what he was before they granted him those committee assignments.
Media-blitzing on his endorsement of Senator John McCain, Captain LIEberman just did a spot earlier tonight on Furball in which he stated to Chris Matthews—brace yourselves—that in his heart he IS a TRUE Democrat and that because Senator McCain ASKED HIM for his support, he said…yes. “Vengeance is mine,” sayeth Judas Joe.

Things are getting interesting in Presidential Politics, aren’t they? One can’t help ponder how Judas Joe’s latest move affects Billaryworld. Remember, it was ol’ Billy who came to CT in the summer of’06 to stump for then-known Oedipus Lieberman. Remember, it was Hillary to whom Oedipus appealed to get Billy out there to do his thing. And remember it was Hillary who remained on the quiet side when it came to her support of Ned Lamont. Much more can’t be said about Barack who, in the summer/fall ’06, during his book tour, slided around CT to AVOID a public appearance with Lamont, Oedipus’s nemesis at the time.


Maybe we should revisit John Edwards’ analysis of Washington insiders and how their actions have consequences. Maybe Mr. Edwards, who proudly supported Ned Lamont and true change, can offer a viable, sobering alternative to establishment politicians and the betraying bedfellows they keep.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dirt


Dirt

As we sort the dirty items in the Democratic laundry bin this week, we suddenly learn that there’s far more to consider than meets the eye. Sure, there might be some mud here and grease marks there, but there’s a whole lot of other dirt that gets missed at first glance.

Let’s not forget, folks, that our last President, ol’ Billy Boy, went up (or down, if you prefer) in flames due to a “genetically-stained” dress. That episode alone, and not an illegally prosecuted war, almost cost him his presidency. An even scarier truth that many Democrats want to avoid: the Republicans know that Americans love dirt and are thus far better at sorting, managing, and dry-cleaning their “dirty laundry” than Democrats will ever be. Whether it’s Mudslinging, Willie Horton-i-n-g, or Swiftboating, team Red knows how to smear and scare voters into a false sense of pandemic Obssessive-Compulsive-Disorder that yields them votes and wins.


Take this week, for example. I’m stunned by the ineptitude of the Clinton campaign’s utter transparency in bulldozing dirt—and snow-plowing some “trim”—into the Obama laundry basket. Geeze, this campaign of “tested experience” makes a high-school rumor mill look like a well-oiled, sophisticated organization; hey, if Team Clinton is reading this blog, I could recommend a student or two to help you all out for a bargain price. That Mark Penn and folks didn’t or couldn’t anticipate that the idiots in the mainstream media wouldn’t sniff that one out spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Whatever will they do should they get to the general election with cross-dressing, flip-flopping, out-right lying and adulterating, DIRTY Rudey, who’s managed to make most of America BELIEVE he’s America’s clean, stain-tested mayor?


What’s even more troubling is how many people are NOW downplaying and dismissing dirty politics. This laundry list includes key Democrats and the many idiots in the Mainstream Media, who remained paralyzed during the Donna Ricing of Gary Hart, who allowed Bill Clinton to be “genetically” impeached, who permitted war hero Kerry to be swiftboated, and who resigned Dan Rather to reap the benefits of the AARP sooner than expected. You folks doth protest too much, methinks.


The fact is that ALL is FEAR in love, politics, and war, and, like it or not, there’s a kernel of truth in what the Clinton campaign hideously fumbled this week: the Republicans will NO DOUBT go after Barack or any Democratic candidate for past, present, and potentially future indiscretions. Unless the Democratic Party takes a crash course from a Republican strategist or two or from the industrial strength approach of Servicemaster to manage dirt, then we will once again have great difficulty achieving a clean win in November.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Iowa Updates

Weekly Presidential Politics - 12/12/07

(Note, over at Presidential Politics for America, I am doing daily updates regarding the upcoming Iowa Caucus)

Here are the two major Iowa polls released this past weekend. This clearly frames the upcoming week into two main stories.
1) Huckabee vs. Romney in an elimination caucus.
2) Clinton vs. Obama, with Iowa as a microcosm.

Republicans
From Mason-Dixon (December 3-6):
Huckabee - 32
Romney - 20
Thompson - 11
McCain - 7
Giuliani - 5 (!!!)*
Undecided - 19

From Newsweek (December 5-6):
Huckabee - 39
Romney - 17
Thompson - 10
Giuliani - 9
Paul - 8
McCain - 6
Undecided - 8

Analysis on Republican polls: Both Romney and Huckabee, as well as the rest of the Republican Party, surely know this - unless Rudy Giuliani completely falls apart in national polling, there is only room for one candidate to be strong enough heading into Super Tuesday to compete on a national scale. Romney and Huckabee also know that both of their hopes rest on Iowa. A second place finish for either one is unacceptable and is a prelude to a death knell in New Hampshire.

Romney needs a victory there because he has outspent the rest of the field combined in Iowa, and to still lose despite the money advantage would be a huge hit to his credibility in the subsequent primaries. Huckabee needs a victory because his recent appeal across the country has been directly related to his surge in Iowa. If he loses Iowa, it would presumably be because Iowa voters became disillusioned with him, and if a guy like Huckabee can't win a state like Iowa, then he is not going to win a country like the United States.

*An explanation of my exclamations. Giuliani is now consistently polling single digits in Iowa, placing fourth and fifth in most polls, and going in the wrong direction to boot. The cause of this, aside from him never having a good shot to win the state anyway, is that he has pulled money, staff, and other resources away from Iowa to deploy them in states (New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina) where they would be more useful. Be prepared to hear from the Giuliani campaign that they put very little effort into Iowa, which would serve as the explanation as to why the Giuliani message did not resonate with Iowan voters.


Democrats
From Mason-Dixon (Dec. 3-6):
Clinton - 27
Obama - 25
Edwards - 21
Richardson - 9
Biden - 5
Undecided - 11

From Newsweek (Dec. 5-6):
Obama - 35
Clinton - 29
Edwards - 18
Richardson - 9
Biden - 4
Undecided - 5

Analysis on Democrat polls: Examining the most recent results of the last seven major Iowa polls (Newsweek, Mason-Dixon, Strategic Vision, Zogby, American Research Group, Des Moines Register, Rasmussen) taken in the last two weeks, Obama leads four of them, and Clinton leads three of them. If you average the results of those seven polls, Obama leads by a miniscule 1.6 percentage points, practically meaningless in the world of polling data.

What makes this tightness all the more interesting is that these are becoming two decidedly different types of candidates. Not only do they clearly identify themselves as the candidate of change (Obama) and the candidate with experience (Clinton), but in the past few weeks, they have attacked the other for basically what their opponent is touting about themselves. Obama chides Clinton as partaking in politics as usual (experience), and months ago he famously referred to her as "Bush-Cheney light." Meanwhile, Clinton consistently blasts Obama as being drastically under-experienced (change) to be the President of the United States.

These two platforms are so strikingly different, yet in Iowa, the two candidates are fascinatingly tied in polling. Though Clinton still holds double digit leads nationally, losing to Obama in Iowa when they both are putting so much effort into the state would undoubtedly help Obama and hurt Clinton in votes, momentum, money, legitimacy, and undoubtedly other categories. Of course, it would not ruin her campaign, but in a primary that is shaping up to be the closest in a generation, even a slim Iowa loss would sting a lot more than Clinton would ever let on.

(And don't forget about John Edwards.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Iowa Caucus "Second Choice" Wrinkle

Weekly Presidential Politics - 12/5/07

The recent Des Moines poll still has political America in a tizzy. Obama's roaring, Hillary's vulnerable, and Edwards is fading. Thus spake the masses.

What if I were to tell you that an Obama-Hillary-Edwards finish is just as likely as an Edwards-Hillary-Obama finish? Or an Edwards-Obama-Hillary finish, or a Hillary-Edwards-Obama victory, or, well, you get the point.

See, what's consistently overlooked when it comes to the Democratic Iowa Caucus are the interesting rules attached to the contest. These rules are unlike any other primary of either party, including the Republican Iowa Caucus. The most important of these rules is: if a candidate doesn't reach a particular threshold (percentage of votes), the votes that were going to him go to the voter's "second choice."

Example: The threshold is placed at 15% (It's usually between 15 and 25). Only the three candidates end up exceeding that threshold. Richardson gets 8%, Biden get 6%, etc. The votes intended for Richardson, Biden, et. al get scattered into the top 3, depending on the voter's second choice. (Note: The reason for this is because Iowans want to make sure their votes go their top candidates and a viable candidate, if these two aren't the same person. Not that bad of an idea, especially when you think of the Nader dilemma in 2000.) In the 2004 Iowa Caucus, for example, only John Kerry, John Edwards, and Howard Dean earned national delegates to the convention.

Okay, so, what does this mean for 2008? Well, the Des Moines Register poll revealed:
Barack Obama - 28%
Hillary Clinton - 25%
John Edwards - 23%
No one else above 9%

Say that ends up being the numbers for the Iowa Caucus itself. Those first three numbers mean that 76% of voters have chosen one of the big three, and 24% have not. Therefore, 24% of the vote is still available to be divvied up among the top 3 candidates!

Therefore, second choice is hugely important in the Iowa Caucus. The question is: Who of the Big Three is the most popular second choice of those who are voting for someone not in the top tier? Who of the top 3 has the most support beyond those who are already planning on voting for them?

This will be examined throughout the month, but I think you at least know this: It's not Hillary Clinton.

(Note: You can read more on the Iowa Caucus all month at Presidential Politics for America.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Republican YouTube Debate Live Blog!

Weekly Presidential Politics - 11/28/07

7:52 PM - We're coming to you live from the IC condo in Groton, CT, ready to bring live coverage of tonight's CNN/YouTube Republican debate. There's been a plethora of debates in 2007, but I don't think any have been this anticipated. Finally, the American people get a shot at a floundering Republican Party.

I have no idea how the live blog will go. I've done a couple in the past, but they are almost always too verbose. I'll have to limit either the length or number of posts. Feel free to leave comments throughout the debate! The record is 63 comments. The low is 0.

Stay tuned!

7:58 - Three things I expect tonight: 1) First-tier candidates taking a shot at Huckabee's record as governor of Arkansas. 2) Five candidates claim they're like Ronald Reagan. 3) Tom Tancredo will find an immigrant in the audience and kill him with his bare hands.

8:03 - Governor Crist (R-Fl) just had the first audition for the VP slot on the Republican ticket!

8:05 - Anderson Cooper is the Ryan Seacrest of politics, am I right? Frankly, I don't know which one I just insulted.

8:12 - First question and Giuliani gets hit on immigration. Mayor Rudy and Presidential Candidate Rudy are verrrry far apart from each other on immigration. About as far apart as New York City and El Paso.

8:16 - Yes! Romney and Giuliani are going at it during the first question! These guys will be the last two standing in February folks. Pay attention. The best part is they're both spinning and perpetuating an issue that makes both of them look bad. Ladies and gentlemen... your Republican frontrunners!

8:18 - Fred Thompson just got an absolute softball on immigration to smack out of the park and he did so.

8:19 - Okay, I'm giddy here. Thompson just took a shot at Romney AND Giuliani in 20 seconds. Is this setting the tone for the debate? This could be phenomenal.

8:22 - John McCain has never looked better. Wait, did I say better? I meant older. Did I really think this guy was the favorite a year ago?

8:24 - Prediction: Tom Tancredo drops out in December, now that his pet issue - immigration - is front and center. He was never in it to win it.

8:26 - Did Hunter just compare the San Diego-Tijuana border with the Arizona/New Mexico/Texas-Mexico border???

8:29 - Okay, Romney has three enemies on stage (Huckabee, Giuliani, Thompson) and those are the three guys directly below him in Iowa polls. Not a good spot for Mitt.

8:34 - I don't know if Ron Paul is right about the potentially budding North American Union, but he was right with his historical example of the EU. It started as murmurs and bloomed fifty years later.

8:40 - It's fun to hear a bunch of Republicans hoot and holler the destruction of the IRS like school kids hearing they might get rid of homework.

8:42 - McCain just took on Ron Paul! It's like Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers doing Rocky XVII!

8:45 - So the left side of the stage would sign a pledge and the right side wouldn't? Sounds to me that after Thompson got the cajones to say "No," everyone else did, too. Not that I expected any different response from McCain and Ron Paul.

8:54 - In responding to the Fred Thompson YouTube add, I honestly think Mitt just put the abortion issue in the rearview mirror. Huckabee's tribulations, however, have just begun.

8:55 - First commercial break. Ranking: 1) Fred Thompson; 2) Ron Paul; 3) Huckabee; 4) Romney; 5) Tancredo; 6) McCain; 7) Giuliani; 8) Hunter.

9:04 - Okay, I gotta do a quick diatribe on the second amendment. It's easily the most brutalized amendment in the U.S. Constitution. It does not simply say, "The right to bear arms." It does not. What's continually dismissed is the premise of the amendment. "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Is a well regulated militia necessary to the security of a free State anymore? That's the issue that needs to be debated first. And I'd love someone to make the case that a militia is not an archaic institution that has been unnecessary since Taft.

9:05 - Hey, this is fun! Let's hear about the amount of guns our Presidential candidates own!

9:10 - Ron Paul can always fall back on one answer - let the states decide! Man, let's just get a prime minister and forget the office of the President altogether! Hmmm... More on that to come in the future.

9:14 - The death penalty: What would Jesus do? Ladies and gentlemen, the question of the night. And we all know the answer, don't we?

9:16 - Bible questions! We should have an entire debate on that subject alone.

9:17 - Giuliani just called the Bible the greatest book ever written. Sorry, I gotta go with McCullough's John Adams. By the way, this question was in Huckabee's wheelhouse and there's not even a close second.

9:22 - It's becoming clear that they'll close with the economy and then Iraq. Talk about a grand finale!

9:26 - Has anyone ever explained why Giuliani will be stronger on terror or be tougher in foreign policy than McCain? The guy was a mayor of a city that got attacked! That's it!

9:30 - John McCain is absolutely right about the water boarding issue. Absolutely right. I don't think he's said anything dishonest tonight, joining only Tancredo and Paul. Meanwhile, Romney still can't get out of his own way tonight.

9:35 - I love Ron Paul and Iraq questions. They're my favorite part of every debate.

9:38 - Islam takes such a beating during the Republican debates. Of course, the Muslim countries don't have debates to bash Christians...

9:41 - Fred Thompson has this crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. He's still leading this debate, and tonight might be the night he starts to right the sinking ship.

9:45 - Third commercial break rankings: 1) Thompson [winning the crowd, winning his freedom]; 2) Paul [his niche loves him more than ever]; 3) McCain [clearly straight shootin' like the old days]; 4) Tancredo [nothing to lose with his honesty and wrongness]; 5) Romney [not as impressive as usual]; 6) Huckabee [Disappointing performance] ; 7) Giuliani [Only one good answer on the night] 8) Hunter [Completely underwhelming].

9:50 - Romney just got caught in his newest flipflop!

9:52 - Did anyone else hear some (dozens) Republican audience members booing the gay officer? Not a good job by that crowd.

9:58 - Um, "Hillary can be on the first rocket to Mars?!" Watch out for that one tomorrow. On the Mars issue: There will be an absolute outcry from this country if the first manned expedition to Mars does not have an American. International cooperation would be fine, but if there's no American involvement, it'd be the greatest ideological and technological disappointment in this country's history.

10:02 - Romney just called out John Edwards. I'LL KILL HIM! He also just lost South Carolina, but whatever.

10:05 - Giuliani and Huckabee are closing strong. I can't say the same for myself. I'm getting up in 7 and a half hours.

10:10 - Well, "huge" Red Sox fan Mitt Romney just added a year to the Red Sox former World Series drought (86, not 87). A perfect way to end a disappointing night for Romney... but still my favorite for the Republican nomination.

10:12 - Annnd scene. Sorry for the relatively week analysis tonight, but there's simply not enough time to get into all the issues and do a live blog. For analysis, check out my blog at Presidential Politics for America, as I'll be starting daily Iowa Caucus posts starting on Monday, December 3rd - one month until the Iowa Caucus in both parties.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Permanent Presence

Permanent Presence

While we all adjust to the transition from Thanksgiving to the really big holidays; while those of us in the 35+ crowd realize that our fat cells are multiplying and dividing at incrementally rapid rates, with each passing year and every passing holiday food fest; while I resurrect from my minimally conscious state to blog myself into ’08—hold my feet— I’m back, Chimpy does what? Yeah, you got it: he formally announces that we will be in Iraq for f*cking ever. G-r-e-a-t.

I should’ve known this was coming: Yesterday, on This Week, George Pill and Smokie Roberts discussed “permanent presence” with such nonchalance, one would think they were discussing golf balls.

Perhaps “mission-accomplished” George had bad turkey. Maybe it was the stuffing. Perhaps WMD George was stunned by conveniently encountering Al Gore yet again, this time to honor the former vice president as a newly crowned Nobel Prize winner. You see, truly talented people will find ways to achieve on their own merit regardless of the cheaters in the class. Perhaps this “permanent presence” won’t be as bad as it seems once Georgey permanently leaves the White House; let's hope.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Huckabee Surging in Iowa

Weekly Presidential Politics - 11/21/07

As predicted by my blog after the Ames Iowa Straw Poll, Mike Huckabee is making a run at the Iowa Caucus. This just in from Real Clear Politics:

Republicans (ABCNews/Washington Post poll)
Romney 28 (+2 vs. last poll July 26-31)
Huckabee 24 (+16)
Thompson 15 (+2)
Giuliani 13 (-1)
McCain 6 (-2)
Paul 6 (+4)

Now, pundits across the country, in their classic insta-reactionary tradition, are taking Iowa away from Romney. If these prognosticators end up being right, even a second place Iowa finish effectively ends the Romney campaign.

Which is why it's not going to happen.

Romney will spend every last nickel of his billions of nickels to win the Iowa Caucus. If polls are still close by the end of December, Iowans can expect a blitzkrieg of ad-buys and "paid volunteers" unlike any in political history, and it'll be courtesy of Mitt Romney.

What's most interesting about the latest poll is not that Mitt Romney is losing control of Iowa polls, but rather that a Huckabee bump has meant national Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani has slipped to fourth in the country's opening caucus. FOURTH. Fickle voters in New Hampshire and beyond will need to be very sure of their Giuliani vote to support a candidate that showed so poorly in a classic benchmark state, especially when the story on every cable news network will be sinking their claws into (remember - insta-reactionary) is about a reeling Giuliani campaign. Every social conservative who barely convinced themselves to support Giuliani will run to the closest conservative competitor.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee will both be spinning the heck out of their top finishes and can ride the resulting free coverage, momentum, and huge added influx of money into the other primaries.

December will be a fascinating month, which is why I'm doing this.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back."


Things just keep getting better for the troops, don't they?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

IF YOU'RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR HANDS

IF YOU’RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR HANDS

Chris Matthews should re-name Hardball “Herball.” Night after night, Matthews’ Hillary fixation gets more and more ridiculous and blatantly psychotic. It’s Hillary’s laugh. It’s Hillary’s husband. It’s Hillary’s gender card. It’s Hillary’s dynamic with Barack…John…her parsing…her cleavage in the Senate…her treatment—boohoo—of Tim Russert. Geeze. Could Chris be more obvious about his castration fear disorder? Truth be told, many of us have fears about Hillary but let’s not go nuts—pun intended.

Tonight, for instance, Matthews, known in some corners of the blogosphere as Tweety, had yet another segment on Hillary—there’s a shocker—in which he prompted his “round table” to analyze why the dame doth clap so much at her rallies. I KID YOU NOT.

Meanwhile, there’s tons of other news, say, about:

A. Iraq
B. Iran
C. Pakistan
D. Afghanistan
E. Rudy’s Scary Resemblance to Nosferatu
F. All of the Above

I’m going with F—All of the Above.

Rest assured: if you do the MSNBC thing on weeknights, you will quickly learn that what once—in a mainstream galaxy far, far away—was known as “Hardball” has suddenly morphed into “Herball.” It seems that things, including serious news segments, aren’t as, well, hard as they should be.

And Giuliani Gets Robertson

Adendum to yesterday's post...


After Pat Robertson came out in support of Giuliani, I immediately posted my reaction over ay my blog - Presidential Politics for America.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Romney About to Take Off

Weekly Presidential Politics - 11/07/07

I tried to tell you. I did. I tried to tell you in April, and I tried to tell you in August. Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

Although the national polls will not reflect this certainty until the end of January, and although his nomination will not be sewn up until the month after, this is the week where Mitt Romney turned the corner.

Paul Weyrich, who with the passing of Jerry Falwell is perhaps the foremost figurehead of evangelical Christians and social conservatives, has endorsed Romney.

And why not? With Rudy Giuliani’s national lead in Republican polls not diminishing, the conservative bloc is in danger of their party nominating a social liberal who’s pro-choice, pro-gay, and compared to the rest of the Republican field, unfriendly to the second amendment.

So how do they slow the Giuliani train? Quite simply, they cannot. That is, unless they can unite behind another candidate. All year, the paramount problem of Republican voters was the lack of a clear cut conservative alternative who was not only in lockstep with the right, but also whose legitimacy was not limited to their home state. Brownback, Hunter, Tancredo, Tommy Thomson and Gilmore were conservative but had no chance (as stated by this blogger numerous times). Huckabee was intriguing and the most talented candidate of the second tier, but didn’t have the money (also stated numerous times by this blogger). Paul was talented and entertaining but the party could not let a dovish Republican get nominated (yup). Thompson had been out of politics and was clearly a paper tiger (hit on the head by this blogger numerous times). The Right’s problems with McCain are notorious. Romney’s a Mormon who pandered to Democrats in Massachusetts.

So the Republican Party was splintered. A clear plurality were satisfied supporting the foreign policy and quasi-fiscal conservative former mayor of New York City, while ten other candidates divvied the constituency who said they could get at least that type of conservatism from nearly any Republican candidate.

Soon, however, it will be time to unify. For the Republican base to find their perfect candidate, it only takes one leap of faith, and this leap of faith has nothing to do with religion. Has Romney truly changed his mind on abortion? Running for Senate and Governor of Massachusetts during the 90's, Romney came out as a pro-choice candidate. Since then, however, Romney has said he's seen and learned some things that have changed him into a staunch pro-life advocate. The question for Republican voters: Do you believe him? If so, that's your candidate.

That is Mr. Weyrich's conclusion, and that decision will go a long way in convincing conservatives to pledge their allegiance to Romney. After all, Romney is a Protestant, as 41 of the 42 men to hold the office of POTUS have been. Sure, he's a different kind of Protestant than Protestant Americans (52% of the country and 2/3 of American Christians) are used to, but he's stressed that Mormonism will not impact his decisions as chief executive. If you recall, Catholic John Kennedy made a similar plea in 1960, and Kennedy's mea culpa made his Catholicism all but a non-issue in his victory over Richard Nixon.

All of this, combined with his unparalleled Republican money, not to mention his enormous lead in Iowa and New Hampshire, will propel him to a very strong showing on the fifth of February (SuperDuper Tuesday). After taking the first two states, effectively eliminating every candidate but himself and Giuliani, everyone leaning Romney will run to Romney. By the middle of February, Giuliani concedes and Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee.

I tried to tell you.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Faux (News) Pas



On Friday, FEMA admitted to holding a fake press conference in regards to the wildfires in Southern California. This act is despicable on so many levels it makes my head spin.

FEMA said that it announced the press conference last minute therefore, the media could not get there in time to cover it. They did set up phone lines for the press to listen to the conference, but these lines would not allow the press to ask questions. They did claim that the questions the FEMA employees that posed as “journalists” asked where actually questions real journalists had asked FEMA. Huh? Didn’t they state that journalists couldn’t ask questions via the press conference phone line? Did the reporters call earlier and leave questions on the answering machine for FEMA to plot their pat answer for at the later press conference?

Chimpy’s White House staff calls the FEMA move “ not a practice that we would employ here at the White House” (LOL! I’ll let our host handle that one!) and Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Chief whose agency oversees FEMA, said, "I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government." (Dumb? Yes. Most inappropriate? Where have you been for the last few years!?!?!)

Instead of faking a news conference when you plan it a whole 15 minutes in advance, you do what anyone would do trying to get information out in a timely matter to the public – you release a press STATEMENT and hold the news conference the following day. DUH! Self-promoting? Sure, but at least you aren’t lying.

It is bad enough that even respectable news organizations are carrying celebrity news (soft news) on their newscasts along with things that matter and effect people (hard news i.e. wars, famine, politics, elections, etc.). But, at least the celebrity news is real, even if most all of it is vapid and not earth-shattering. Faking a news conference goes against of principle of true journalism – it is pure, unadulterated lying. Any educated person knows that you cannot air or print something in media that you know to be false. It does not take a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist of Woodward or Bernstein caliber to understand this concept.

Chertoff says people will be punished for this bonehead move that has now blackened FEMA’s other eye, the first eye blackened two years ago by its screw-up during and after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. It is Sunday and nothing has been announced as of yet… so we’ll see I guess. Here’s hoping that FEMA doesn’t have to visit my area any time soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brownback's Dropout Epitomizes Money Issue

Weekly Presidential Politics - 10/24/07

How important is money in politics? Important enough that the quintiessential conservative dropped out of the Republican Primary because he could never gain traction. So, Sam Brownback, the conservative alternative Republicans have been dreaming about, bows out of a crowded field and goes home to Kansas.

Look at the four Republican candidates who actually have a chance to garner the nomination. The poll leader, Rudi Giuliani, is a social liberal. The former leader, John McCain, supports an unpopular war and has crossed party lines on numerous issues, irritating many members of the GOP. The leader in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney, has a history of criticizing key Republican issues like abortion and gay rights, and, as a Mormon, is not exactly in step with the powerful Christian wing of the Republican Party. Finally, Fred Thompson, long thought of as the conservative savior, has shown a distinct inability to rally the base, and has lost points in nearly all national and early primary polls.

So why are they the leaders in the GOP polls? They are all huge names and fantastic fundraisers. I appreciate the argument that their palpability is the reason they can fundraise, but I'm disinclined to adhere to that in this case because of two reasons.

1. The money differential between the contenders and the non-contenders is too gross to conclude that anything but the money is chief reason why contenders contend and non-contenders do not. The contenders raise seven digits (often eight). The non-contenders are lucky to crack seven digits and spend nearly all of it just to break into polls.

Let's look at why they can fundraise. Rudy Giuliani was a huge name after 9/11 and was able to fundraise. John McCain has been a national name for decades. Mitt Romney has given tens of millions of dollars to his own campaign. Fred Thompson gets publicity every time his Law & Order series airs, not to mention Die Hard 2, Necessary Roughness, and Iron Eagle III. Does the fact that they're huge names or richer make the more qualified to be President then the lesser candidates, or, even, potential candidates? Of course not.

2. The Republicn constituency has been dying for a true conservative... and he was there the whole time. No one could every doubt Brownback's conservative record as Senator from Kansas. Every single debate he would remind them of this. He had been modeling it for years.

But without money... who cares?

Ask Dennis Kucinich how much voting your ideology helps in a national election without the funds to ram a platform down the throat of America.

Someone justify this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Different World


So, it looks like we're re-thinking that whole Blackwater business. When you take into account the amount of innocent civilians they've killed and the fact that their services are costing us, annually, approximately $520 million dollars in Iraq ALONE, I'd say that's a pretty good idea.

Especially considering the 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard, who just returned from the longest deployment in the Iraq war (729 days to be exact), were denied the education benefits they should receive from the GI Bill. Why were they denied? Because those benefits don't kick in until day 730. One day. That's awfully convenient.

Are we really that pressed for money that we need to deny these soldiers the extra $500-$800 per month they're entitled to for school after they've put their lives on the line for the country? Isn't that what it says on the commercials - sign up for the war, and we'll pay for your education? Can we really afford to pay the Blackwater security detail approximately $1,400 a DAY and shut out our own soldiers?

Oh, and it's the liberals who don't support the troops? That's funny.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Money Doesn't Buy Class


Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the pop culture proverbial water now that Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears seem to be taking sobriety seriously for once, now come along a trainwreck-in-training, who is being trained by none other than her trashy sister.

Bear with me....

Kim Kardashian, former friend of Hilton, etc., is desperate for attention. She hangs out at all the right places, is rich, etc. but does not get the paparazzi's attention like the other. She has no talent (I know that doesn't stop Spears and Hilton)and basically she is mostly known for being a slut (sorry! truth hurts) and Bruce Jenner's step-daughter (yes Olympian decathlete Bruce Jenner).

Here is a clip from Kardashian's new reality series (isn't reality TV so yesterday?!?!), Keeping Up With The Kardashians on the E! Network. In this "morsel", we find out the following things:

1) Ms. Kardashian bought her mother and step-father a stripper pole for their anniversary, located in the master bedroom, which she promptly shows of to party guest Robin Antin, creator of the Pussycat Dolls.

2) Ms. Kardashian's 9 year old half-sister comes in when Kardashian and Antin are "working out on the pole and the little girl ..... sit down for this one... the little girl demonstrates moves on the pole that would make Gypsy Rose Lee blush.

Now, at least Jenner comes in at the end and calls this what it is: inappropriate behavior. But, tell me please, what chance do ANY little girls have in America, heck in the world, of growing up with self-worth, self-esteem, and good body image if older girls they admire (and in this case live with and are related to) are acting this way?

The shock and awe factor of everything aimed at the younger generation, such as this trashy display, is and has gotten way out of control. I mean, I can hear Nero fiddling away as I type. Believe me, I feel like I am a prude for saying things like this, but safe experimentation with a funky hair color or several ear piercings in the name of finding your identity as a female are a far cry from a prepubescent girl bumping and grinding against a stripper pole on world-wide TV in her parents' bedroom. Things like that are not innate in girls that age, nor should they be. Before your very eyes, you can view at the above link how a little girl can lose her innocence and others laugh about it as if it is no big deal. It is sadly depressing and scary.

I won't even talk about how Emily Post is rolling in her grave about how improper it is to take party guests to a room that is not yours, and is a PRIVATE room.

This proves that money doesn't buy class and that for those of us that have manners, dignity, et. al., we are shoveling against a torrent of ...well, crap.

Speaking of shovels, I am going to my shovel and my bat, and put them in my car ... just in case the tide gets too close to home.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

[S]he's Back!

[S]he’s Back!

In honor of the Halloween spirit, Mann Coulter has reared his ugly head yet again. Yeah, this time the a**hole—who has done wonders showing how personal psychoses can put an education from Cornell and the University of Michigan to shame—came out of her coffin-closet to cameo on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.

Stunned by a much deserved b*tch slap by Elizabeth Edwards during the last media whore tour, Mann clearly needs more attention this time around. Obviously, psychotherapy isn't going well so her temper tantrums are getting louder. She still knows it all. She still dresses more like a late night bar crawler than a serious pundit—for lack of a better term. And she still hasn’t resolved what seems to be an early childhood trauma of negative, attention-seeking behavior to validate whatever kind of crap comes out of her mouth.

So on The Big Idea, Mann tells Deutsch, get this, that generally speaking, bi-racial couples in New York City have a chip on their shoulders and Jews are imperfect. I kid you not; get to Crooks & Liars for the video. Perhaps [s]he thought she was being funny or something; Deutsch wasn't amused. Nor was I. And quite frankly, there are far more interesting, gender gray figures out there that many people from both sides of the aisle embrace at Halloween time. Oh, Tim Curry, wherefore art thou?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Republican Presidential Debate Diary

Weekly Presidential Politics - 10/10/07


Last night, newest official presidential candidate Fred Thompson joined the rest of the Republican field for the CNBC Debate, marking Thompson’s first appearance at a presidential debate. Here is my diary of the event.

4:00 – Co-hosting with Chris Matthews is Maria Bartiromo. (Yes, she was available.)

4:02 – Fred Thompson appropriately starts things off. Equally appropriate, he frequently stammers, pauses, and uses words like rosy.

4:04 – Romney does an excellent, organized job with his first response. As the most prominent governor in the race, a debate on managing an economy is right in his wheel house. Of course, that might not matter, as he’s also the most prominent Mormon in the race.

4:08 – Giuliani easily turns a question on hedge funds into a reason to nominate him because he has the best chance to beat a Democrat. I outlined this as his inevitable strategy early this year. His ticket to the nomination was never security. It was electability.

4:09 – And here comes Ron Paul bringing the sense. Yes, the country is richer… but that does not mean the average American is.

4:10 – Rudy Giuliani’s talking about the Yankees on a public platform, John McCain just said “straight talk,” and I was home from school by 3:30. Did I just hop in a time machine and go back to 2000?

4:15 – Duncan Hunter. I mean come on.

4:16 – For an actor, Fred Thompson does a horrendous job remembering his lines.

4:17 – Sam Brownback just criticized a random Kansas constituent for wanting, “A new hospital.” Those bastard Kansasites! Who do they think they are? Don’t we know we’re in a war??

4:21 – Hey, did you know Rudy Giuliani cut taxes in New York City 23 times? He should really mention that more often then every day of his life.

4:23 – Romney and Giuliani are going back and forth, and why not, considering they will be the only two candidates still going on February 6th.

4:31 – Romney points out that he is the candidate with the most business experience. It’s a calculated risk, deciding that this is a desirable trait, but anything that distinguishes you from this field is probably a good thing.

4:36
– John McCain, “It sounds like a lot of fun to bash the Chinese and others…” Line of the night.

4:37 –Fred Thompson’s doing a terrible job. What’s worse is that he knows it. This is not the man that’s going to rally the conservatives, which was his only ticket to the dance.

4:39 – Does anyone else think Sam Brownback looks a lot like Jimmy Kimmel? Does anyone else think they’d be more comfortable with Jimmy Kimmel as President?

And here' commercial break as I approach my word limit. Back at the end for more thoughts.

-----

All right, the debate just wrapped up. As usual, I was most impressed with McCain, Huckabee, and Paul, the lot of whom make up the second tier in the race. Maybe there's something to say about not being a contender that allows you to do a better job at these debates. Though I have a distinct disagreement with each of them (McCain - the war; Huckabee - the national sales tax; Paul - where do I begin?), I respect their consistency, intelligence, and the way their articulate their issues.

What most frustrated me this afternoon was that most of the candidates want to fix many things and address many issues (bridges, roads, borders, energy) but also want to cut spending and cut taxes (revenues). It's an odd platform, yet it's the GOP norm. They don't want to raise taxes and they'll spend a lot of money, even though they tell you they won't. When they do, many Americans just worry about the tax relief, and up go the unchecked deficits.

That's why Paul and Huckabee make so much more sense than the rest. Paul truly wants to reduce taxing and spending, and he offers a plethora of examples. While I fundamentally disagree with Paul on almost all issues and think that he would make a horrific President, I have respect coming out of my ears for him, because he's consistent in his ideology and it actually makes sense, if small government is the kind of thing you like.

Paul and Huckabee, while other candidates couldn't stop glowing about the strong and growing economy, articulate a fact that many Democrats are screaming at the television whenever a President Bush or Sean Hannity is bragging about a country that's getting richer. The money is going to the rich and most Americans are not feeling this economic "boom!" Yes, we have more money than ever, and stocks are booming, but the money is flowing to a minority of the people. The majority of the people's earning power has actually dropped in this "strong and growing economy."

For a simplified example that does not take into account interest rates, say Tom, Dick, and Harry make $50,000 in the year 2007. In the year 2008, Tom makes $100,000 while Dick and Harry drop to $40,000 each. As a group, they're making more money, right? As a group, they are objectively doing better ($180,000) than they were before ($150,000), right? Well, yeah, that's true. Objectively speaking, the group is doing better. But individually, more people are doing worse than better.

And that's America.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The race to the 2012 White House?

Weekly Presidential Politics - 10/3/07


It was only a matter of time. No, the subject to which I refer is not my tenuous return to blogging after a month and a half of being a teacher again. What I am referring to is the constant pushing up of the presidential cycle reaching a ludicrously laughable level.

Here’s what I mean: it seems after every Presidential election, the race to win the next election begins earlier and earlier. This was most evident the day after the 2004 election, when I watched Chris Matthews discuss who would run for the open oval office in the next cycle, and immediately names like Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain, and Mitt Romney were suggested as leading candidates. Surely, the day after an election was the earliest possible date for the subsequent election to be realistically discussed, right?

Wrong.

This week, it became evident to me that one man is already running for 2012. And he already knows who he’s running against. And he’s already positioning himself to be the nominee and win the 2012 election. And you know what? I’d say it’s the leading scenario.

Let the count down begin. It’s only 61 months until:

President Hillary Clinton (D) vs. former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

See you next Wednesday for some elaboration on this topic and its relation to the state of the 2008 race.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dark Clouds


Dark Clouds

Yet another dark cloud looms over George Bush & the neoconservatives’ saga of disaster known as Iraq. This black cloud, appropriately known as Blackwater, has been in the news a lot lately. To get caught-up, you may want to check out this week’s The Nation or the latest entries at The Divided States Of bu$hmeriKa 2.

The involvement of Blackwater, a “private” security firm that has an official contract with the State Department, in Iraq paints a dismaying portrait of war profiteering, raises questions about the large presence of private contractors working side-by-side with U.S. military personnel, and hints yet again that something’s real rotten in corporate Bushworld.

But like all dark, foreboding clouds, Blackwater will most likely pass by most of us Americans with little to no fuss.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Vegas Marriage

A VEGAS MARRIAGE

Have you ever heard the same story again and again and again, and the only difference is the person telling you the story? That’s how I feel lately as educators are having the same conversation with one another: the honeymoon period is long over with our “new” students and we suddenly realize that, in some cases, we are in b-a-d relationships. Let’s face it: with certain students, if we had the power to divorce or annul, we would squash our Vegas marriages—these bad relationships we initially had high hopes for that suddenly we find ourselves wallowing in—quicker than Britney’s been ordered to give her kids back to K-Fed—the latest mainstream media rage.

Many of the educators I know—mostly secondary and post secondary—know what I’m talking about, the reality that the Columbus Day or Fall break couldn’t come soon enough. But the break we really want is not from the teaching profession itself; it’s from our students' lame-as* excuses, which seem to get worse each year and range from the conventional, “my dog sh*t on and then ate my homework”; to the rather stupid, “ professor so-so, would you give me directions to your office because I will be late in turning in yet another late paper?”; to the truly, f*cking absurd, “even though I’ve shown up to 1 of the 10 classes so far and submitted nothing, do I still stand a chance of passing?” I kid you not.

So as we educators fantasize about “ending” our Vegas relationships with these hideous trolls; as we find ourselves routinely saying, “you can’t make this sh*t up;” as we may—especially if you’re new to the profession and an idealist of sorts—consider a “marriage” counseling intervention, we can take comfort in the saying that “nothing lasts forever” and that a Vegas marriage can end as quickly as it began.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Foreground & Background

Foreground & Background

Everyone—left, right, and center—are once again fixating on the Clintons. I can’t say I blame them entirely since Hillary blitz-krieged the Sunday morning shows last week and Billy did a lap dance or two today with George Stephanopoulos and Tim Russert. From last Sunday to this Sunday, it’s been a mainstream media, Clinton bookend bonanza. Extra, extra: Will Barack slam Hillary? Will Hillary slam Barack? Can Johnny be as tough as his wife on Hill? Will GQ remain emasculated or grow a pair to run that piece on Billary? NO WAY!: Rudy “call me” Giuliani will predicate his campaign on the ASSumption that he can beat Hillary? Wow, there’s a shocker.

Even in today’s New York Times, both Frank Rich, whose columns I savor, and mean girl Maureen Dowd, whose columns, as of late, tend to make me and several people I know sick, focus on none other than Hillary. It’s not that I mind the criticisms of the Clintons, or of Hillary, in particular. Quite frankly, many of them are fair and accurate—and not in a Fox fiction sort of way. It just amazes me how much the Clinton narrative, to borrow the rhetoric of Frank Rich, dominates the mainstream media foreground and all other narratives are assigned to the background, or better yet, to the media hinterland. Even Ahmadinejad’s crazy cameo—and even crazier claim of no gays in Iran—at Columbia had a short shelf life in the big, mainstream media scheme of things.

Meanwhile, in the media background more of our soldiers continue to die in Iraq and it seems that NO ONE—Democrat or Republican—has a lucid plan to get us the f**k out. Who knows what the deal is with the possibility of going to war with Iran? There continues to be “no-shows” of Republican candidates at minority-sponsored debates, although this IS the party of the BIG TENT—only if you’re white. Children in need might NOT get appropriate insurance because George W. Bush says that there’s a better way; remember: he’s the dude that insisted there WERE weapons of mass destruction. And who the heck knows what Condi’s up to; maybe she’s having more surgery finally to close that gap between her front teeth.

The bigger gap that concerns me is the enormous difference between the media foreground and background, between the OJ resurgence and the Iraq insurgence, between what’s over-emphasized and what barely registers as a blip, between the over-saturation of fake news and the drowning of real news…that should be “fit” to print.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Different World

Over the past few days, the news has been saturated with what has been taking place in Jena, LA. Umm, finally? I first read about the story in early July, and there have been kids sitting in jail since December 2006. People seem to be catching on, which is nice for the Jena 6. I guess.

But now we have the "I'm not racist, but..." crowd coming out of the wood work. I am of the opinion that, as a country, we need to discuss racism to ever have the hope of overcoming it, but I am already so exhausted by the ignorance and insensitivy currently on display just about, oh, I'd say... everywhere?

Adrianne Curry, whose claim to fame is winning America's Next Top Model, Season 1 and marrying one of the Brady Bunch brothers, Christopher Knight, recently composed a moving Myspace blog, calling for the boycott of BET and Black History Month. Her reasoning? Black history is American history! All Americans have suffered! What about the Native Americans? Where's their month?! (It's November, for those who were wondering.) And she's not racist, because she once dated a black man in high school. Slavery and segregation are over! She just wants us to all stop looking to the past and move forward. Unite as one. Etc.

It would be one thing if it were just some ex-reality star on their internet soapbox. But a lot of people in this country really feel that way. These attitudes are emerging from every crevice of our society in the current time of renewed racial tension. Moving forward with blinders on to the very OBVIOUS way the past is shaping the present is what has gotten us into this mess in the first place. If racism was not running rampant in places like Jena, LA, the nooses never would have been hung, the white students never would have received such minimal punishment for the clearly hateful act, there never would have been a series of violent confrontations that culminated in that particular beating of the white student and the black students would have never ever ever ever ever been so let down by the justice system that is supposed to protect them. But, c'mon everyone, let's just plow forward blindly. We'll just ignore the evidence that minorities, even after all the progress we've supposedly made in race relations, still need safeguards in place to make sure they receive the most basic equal treatment. We're all Americans, one and all! Hooray!

Oh, ignorance. What a happy home you've made here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

NOT IT!

NOT IT!

As I told the master of wit in the blogoshpere, the ever-sharp Jollyroger, George W. Bush decisively wins at playing “NOT IT!” this week. I was just waiting for W. to stick his forefinger on his nose and do a dance. But George wasn’t the only contestant on NOT IT! There were several, and considering that some of these folks are heavy-weights in American culture—poor Britney was just a tad heavier than anorexia America wanted, George DID, in fact, legitimately dominate at “NOT IT!” The least said about the 2000 election the better.

We all know that T.A.N.G (that’s Texas Air National Guard) George has a string of victories at NOT IT! Let's not forget that George got jiggy with NOT IT! in the ‘60s to dodge Vietnam. So avoiding responsibility comes natural to him. But I certainly didn’t expect George to announce NOT IT! on Thursday night when he basically declared that his replacement will have to deal with HIS mess in Iraq. Stunning, I know. But yet again, his biggest accomplice, the mainstream media, also reigned victorious at NOT IT! for NOT emphasizing this simple, obvious fact. They've sought solace in the latest O.J. episode.

We should’ve known that NOT IT! would be the latest 15 minute, American fad, for last Sunday Britney Scissorhands won at NOT IT! in her alleged comeback performance. This zeitgeist fever oozed into Monday and Tuesday when General Petraeus basically said NOT IT! to Senator John Warner—a Republican, no doubt—to Warner’s question about whether or not the General’s plans in Iraq would make America safer. Petraeus’s reply: “Sir, I don’t know actually!” Bingo: NOT IT!

However, the players to watch at NOT IT!, as Paul Krugman brilliantly pointed out in his Friday column, “A Surge, and Then A Stab,” are Bush’s business associates, namely his oil friends who seem to know that the surge is NOT working, that the Iraq war will NOT yield success, that things will NOT get better, and that the NOT IT! foreign policy of the Bush administration has NOT been good, to say the least.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Different World


My institution of higher learning made headlines in Boston recently, as 21 bathrooms on campus were changed to gender neutral facilities. My college is not the first to do so, but has jumped on the band wagon relatively early (a few dozen institutions in the country currently have similar restrooms), responding to the petitioning of transgendered students who felt uncomfortable having to identify with a specific gender whenever they needed to make use of a bathroom. From academic buildings to dormitories, the school has made it a priority to accommodate everyone.

The decision has come under fire, especially from the (albeit, few) conservative voices at the school and surrounding community. Critics have deemed it a pointless action on the part of the school, accusing the transgendered community of causing a fuss just for the sake of complaining. They're just bathrooms, after all. By the time you're in college, you should know what gender you are. It's a matter of anatomy, not psychology, they say.

Well, I say that's bullshit. Being born into a body and gender that is not compatible with your mindset, your feelings, your personality must be a trying ordeal in itself. America and the rest of the world is so rigid in their socialization of gender roles and norms - to exist outside that box cannot be a comfortable place, especially when it comes to making a very private choice about your gender in such a public way. If we can make these, as the critics call them, pointless changes that do not negatively effect any individual while making SUCH a difference in the lives of those who will benefit from them, why not? Why aren't other places scrambling to follow suit? Why is the world still a place where oppression and insensitivity is the accepted norm? I'm not trying to get all koombyah on this blog or anything, but really - it's not hurting you, conservative America! Gay marriage doesn't hurt you, either. If you don't like it or agree with it and it has no consequence in your life, why can't you just stay out of it? Use your damn gender specific bathrooms and shut up already.

I applaud my college, and all the other places in this country that are finally realizing the need for change. It's about damn time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Femme Fatale: Call it a Day Already, Would You?

















Since earlier this week, the reality that is the screwed-up media circus of Britney Spears' life kicked into full gear, analyzing her VMA debacle on MTV (did she even try at all?) and all the moments pre- and post VMAs.

Some of the headlines:
Britney Spears's Comeback a Bust at VMAs
Timbaland Says Britney Spears Dissed Him And Justin Timberlake; Tells Her To Apologize
Theories Abound About Britney's VMA Flop
A Drunk and Fat Britney at the VMA's
Britney was bad, yes. But 'fat'?

I am with Chris Crocker's YouTube tirade "LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE", but not for Crocker's reasons. (If Crocker wants to cry for the problems of a divorced mother of two, I'll email him and we can chat.)

To the American entertainment press and all other media outlet covering her: Enough is enough! This talentless hack has taken up too much of the public's time and it is reaching embarrassing proportions.

This week should have been devoted perhaps to quiet reflection on a whole host of issues: devastating natural occurrences (earthquakes, hurricanes), the continuing war in Iraq and other places in the world that do not get covered, the US mortgage market, and ummmm, oh yeah, perhaps the whole Bin Laden video thing and remembering those that sacrificed their lives on 9/11.

Did Britney get used on Sunday night by Viacom and MTV purely for ratings and money? You bet!

But, as Britney told all of her family and her former manager, she is an adult and can make her own decisions. And just like you can walk away from the local drunk who always makes an ass out of him or herself, we can and should walk away if they do not want our help/advice. we do not need to watch and get caught up in the drama of it; we can choose to move on to more productive issues. Like an addict, Britney needs to WANT to help herself out of this debacle called her life.

And like the addict relative that has overstayed his/her welcome or puked one too many times all over your bathroom, the train wreck that is Britney Spears has outlasted its welcome in the US media and Sunday night marked it. The media needs to take a hint and back away like they have done with the other train wrecks named Hilton and Lohan and show some tough love. We do not need younger generations of people thinking that this is an appropriate way to get attention.

Move on people, nothing new to see here...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

And the Winner Is...


And the Winner Is…

As America eagerly awaits Britney Scissorhands’ opening act on the Video Music Awards tonight, as much of America longs to see who’s wearing what on the red carpet, as those of us striving to be 1% more conscious marvel at how George W. Bush will sparknote the General David Petraeus report, Osama Bin Laden clearly wins best performance in a video this year. How timely a release, right before the VMA’s themselves—is MTV losing its touch?; right before the 9/11 anniversary; right before the latest chapter of the neocon’s long day’s journey into Iraq.

Long ago Marshal McLuhan said it best: The Medium is the Massage. Fictions become facts, facts become doublespoke and ignored, and what matters most is perception management—the new “opium of the masses.” Our media continues to let the spin rip with more than two “turn tables and a microphone,” to tiptoe around surge supporters, and to indulge in the American Dream of everything is a-O.K.—don’t worry, be happy ☺. Just ask Britney or Osama for goodness sake—simply get extensions or die your beard to get your groove back.

And that’s exactly what we will witness in politics this week, as Frank Rich noted in yet another brilliant column today, “As the Iraqis Stand Down, We’ll Stand Up.” According to Rich, brace yourself for the 2002 play-book, the build-up-to-the-war plan, when you hear the words: “Anbar,” “bottom up,” “decrease in violence,” and “success.” Lo and behold, Senator John McCain stuck to the script in his interview with George Stephanopoulos this morning on This Week. Now I think McCain's performance in “Bomb, bomb Iran” should get an honorable mention.

But fear not, folks: I STILL WANT my MTV! And so should you.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Different World: Damn you, Apple!


After the announcement that Apple would be lowering the price of the heavily desired iPhone by $200 two months after its original release for $599, many consumers were not happy. They took their complaints to the head honcho of the company, Steve Jobs. And he did what any other billionaire CEO who manufactures telephones with an audacious $600 price tag that people are willing to stand in line for days on end to obtain -- he gave them back their money.

Wait, what?

Is this not America? Are we not stupid enough to covet a material object to such an idiotic degree that we will sleep on dirty sidewalks only to then shell out 600 goddamn dollars for a cell phone? Will we not brawl shamelessly in Toys-R-Us each holiday season for Furbies and Tickle-Me-Elmo's for children who will not even appreciate them for more than a week? Do we not complain incessantly about the price of gas but continue to purchase Range Rovers and Hummers and Escalades and adorn them with stupid shiny hubcaps that spin, even when the tires have stopped turning?

These are the things that matter to us, and though some may think it's shameful, it's the USA, damnit. And if you were stupid (or is it American?) enough to give Steve Jobs and Apple $600 of your hard earned money for a cell phone, that is the bed you have made for yourself. I would have told you to make yourself comfortable in it. But alas, I guess Steve Jobs knows a little more about business than I do.

I feel that it can be only in America that it is possible to be so misguided, entitled, and impulsive yet still reap the rewards of the prudent. And by "the prudent," I mean the people who will now probably buy the iPhone at it's new price tag of $399.

Wait, what?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

"View" Askew



In the past, I have always admired and appreciated the quirkiness that is Whoopi Goldberg. She was "hanging" with the all-male Comic Relief and was just as funny as they were; she proved she could tackle drama as well in The Color Purple (she won a Golden Globe for the performance); she has never bowed to conventions for African-American nor women - she defies the trends with her ever-present dreadlocks and designer-free clothes; she also has freely admitted her dyslexia and former drugs habit, without all the "oh poor me" attention getting of the Lohans, Spears, and Hiltons.

Because of this, I was glad that Whoopi was joining The View after the debacle that is known as Rosie O'Donnell left. Even though I haven't watched the show since its first year, I thought I may Tivo an episode to see how good ol' Whoopi, who is a strong female role model, was doing.

OMG! She didn't even make it out of the gate when she imploded on camera giving her opinion about the Micheal Vick case.

What is this crap that Vick's action are justified because "This is part of his cultural upbringing"?!?!?!? Hey, Whoopi... I love your work, you have been a great role model on so many levels, but holy shit! Are you even listening to yourself?!?! Isn't you defense of Vick the same damn defense that the Southerners used when they were justifying the slavery of African-Americans? Isn't that the same defense the ancestors of those pre-Civil War Southerners used when the government said that the South needed to desegregate?

For you to say that people can use their past and culture to excuse their actions would give anyone the reason to get away with horrendous atrocities. Possible scenario: "Hey, I am like sorry Your Honor, I didn't mean to beat my kid until he was in a coma. My dad beat me all the time growing up. It is part of my culture. I thought it was OK because my dad never got punished for it." Woman, PLEASE! Wake up and smell the 21st century!

Whoopi - would you have said this if Vick was a white Southerner? That is the $64,000 question here. Don Imus rightfully got raked across the coals for his "nappy-headed hos" remarked aimed at the predominately African-American Rutgers women's basketball team. Can you even see how you are helping to perpetuate the negative stereotype of African-American males?

Do the "View"ers a favor - be your brilliant, funny self. We like when you push the envelope. However, by pushing, I mean pushing people to see past their fears, comfort zone, etc., not back into the 1800's. Daytime television does NOT need another Rosie O'Donnell. Be yourself.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to School Shock

BACK TO SCHOOL SHOCK

We’ve all been traumatized in one way or another by the back to school season—or more appropriately, the back to school shock. For us educators and our students, the unstructured days of summer are gone for two semesters or approximately 180 days. Now it’s up early, out the door only to multi-task our way through today’s episode of “beat the clock.”

But we are not the only ones experiencing shock. George W. Bush has also shown some quasi back-to-school trauma. Because as all of his fellow cheerleaders continue to jump off his Titantic better known as Iraq, George continues to steer his ship down the abyss of no return.
Stunned by the fact that they don’t sell Sparknotes for his…ah…David Petraeus’s anticipated report on Iraq due to Congress by September 15th, George still believes that photo-ops, empty words, and recycled spin can save him from his pending failing grades. Sorry—but dispatching Scary Mary Matalin to Meet the Press on Sunday to begin spinning his failures doesn’t help. Poor Mary—she does fit the bill for the dreaded “helicopter” Mom, hovering over her pathetic child, making any failure of his seem not that bad.

But the sad fact of the matter is that George never prepared for his Iraq project; “project-based” assignments are all the rage in public education nowadays. He never did study enough; he and his tutor—Mr. Cheney—never did make the right preparations before, during, and after their invasion; and instead of just ponying-up to the fact that he was in desperate need of remedial help in the Geopolitics of the Middle East, arrogant George simply took the attitude that many apathetic students take when they “imagine” they have finished their work. Like the student who says, "at least it's over," George simply said: "mission accomplished. "