Saturday, March 31, 2007



It’s been a beautiful week, hasn’t it? The weather has been nice, temperatures are rising, and old man winter seems to have finished his gig. Too bad ol’ Chimpy hasn’t finished his.

If you tried to keep up with all the scandals, the “masking” of real news with fake news, and the rising tensions in Iran, you’d quickly realize that while the weather gets nicer, things in D.C. get uglier by the minute and most Americans are undoubtedly unconscious.

I myself started getting the heebie-jeebies when Secretary of No Education Maggie Spellings told Dana Perino, the deputy White House Press Secretary, who must fill-in for Tony Snow, that she should “Put [her] big-girl panties on." What could Maggie mean? Is she, too, into some sort of kink like other White House folks, in the spirit of Jeff Gannon-Guckert—you know: the gay prostitute who was a part of the White House Press Corps? Or are these Maggie’s sincere words of endearment? Maybe Maggie is beefing up her resumé as a hallmark greeting card writer? Or perhaps this is Maggie’s way of acknowledging that just like American students’ test scores, No Child Left Behind is in the toilet. In any case, Maggie’s brilliance once again had me envisioning the apocalypse.

But what really put me over the edge, though, was Rove the Rapper. WTF? Has the The Big K been reading 1% More Conscious? Was he a fan of “The Hollow Men?” Wishful thinking—I know, I know, I know. But, man, with Maggie Spidiot cheering and The Big K frontin’, I definitely saw the horsemen of the apocalypse comin’. So I did a little diggin’, some readin’, and a whole lot of thinkin’ to find that things are really fubar’d, or at least so they seem.

After listening to Karl Sampson say he couldn’t remember/recollect a thing, including whether or not he took a dump the morning of his testimony, only an idiot wouldn’t recognize that team Bush has grossly and unethically handled the justice department. Saudia Arabia, one of our few friends in the Middle East, has openly criticized our operations in Iraq and in the rest of the Middle East. Gas prices are once again soaring. The Iranians have captured members of the British navy, and the Internets (s intended and dedicated to: Chimpy) is abuzz with the prospect of a bombing campaign in Iran on April 6th known as Operation Bite. And poor Pat Tillman’s mother suspects that he was actually murdered because he became increasingly vocal against Chimpy’s war once he was in Iraq.

Meanwhile, most Americans are oozing out of March Madness, dealing with their taxes, and/or figuring out how to finance their kids’ college education now that most acceptance letters are out. Yet we are being informed about Marie Osmond’s divorce (who gives a shit?) and Courtney Love’s new body (yeah, she’s switched from heroin to other drugs). You’ve got to be kidding me?

So when Maggie talks about big-girl panties and The Big K has two turntables and a microphone, you know where it’s at: like the film American Beauty reveals about our culture, things are much, much uglier than what they seem.

Thursday, March 29, 2007



I would like to encourage all Democrats to vote for Hillary Clinton in your primaries. As a Republican she isn't a candidate that scares me because I assume that people will soon see through her double speak and recognize that she has no opinions of her own. She is hoping to win the election by spouting out whatever she thinks her audience wants to hear. Take immigration for example. Three years ago she suggested that national id cards might be necessary, and she frequently claims to be adamantly opposed to illegal immigrants and those who hire them, but just this month she claims that the quest to rid our country of illegal immigrants would lead to a police state and that would allow"at least some of the estimated 11 million undocumented workers to earn citizenship." As the Washington Times notes, however, "she shied away from specifics." Clinton does not want to be tied to any position.

In the 21st Century a reasonable place to look for a candidate's position should be his or her website. John Edwards' site might not have the breadth of coverage one would hope for in a future leader, but he spends pages outlining his position and giving bullet point lists of how he will achieve his goals. Sam Brownback is less in-depth within his position statements, but he outlines his positions on 13 different issues. Now look at Hillary's site. If you get past the flash ad seeking campaign contributions, you end up on a home page littered with more money requests. The closest the site gets to articulating her positions is if you scroll to the bottom of the "Newsroom" page; here, as well as scattered throughout the site, are speeches and articles one could read to get a vague notion of Hillary's whims for the week. Why is she afraid of an organized section where viewers can read her views? Could it be that she's afraid that next week the views posted might not be politically advantageous?

So please vote for Hillary Clinton in your primary; there is no way she'll make it to the White House, and Republicans won't mind an easy fight.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Personal Pain Becomes Public Politics

Weekly Presidential Politics - 3/28/07

The recent announcement of Elizabeth Edwards's latest battle with cancer was as an objective of an issue you will ever get in a political campaign. Cancer does not care about Democrats or Republicans. Cancer does not care about ideology or on which side of an isle you sit. Cancer is terrible. Cancer is a tragedy. We all agree on it. The news of Elizabeth's latest battle with cancer is as sorrowful of a development in a campaign you will ever see. It's an issue everyone wishes did not exist.

But it is an issue.

I wish no one would talk about it. I wish we lived in a country where a personal announcement does not have to be made in front of a throng of cameras with flashing bulbs and eager reporters writing down your pain on a notepad. I wish we lived in a country where, even if the announcement had to be made, pundits did not immediately politicize the issue like it had a hundred times the weight of a vote in the Senate or an executive state budget.

But it is an issue.

I am guilty of the aforementioned punditry. Upon hearing the news, I felt terribly for Elizabeth, John, their children, and all those close to the family. Shamefully, my mind eventually turned to the impact this will have on the upcoming race. After all, to write a presidential politics blog while avoiding the biggest development of the race would be impossible. It had to be discussed.

So my buddy Darren and I began an email correspondence, which you can read here, discussing the political impact. For fear of redundancy, I won't use this limited space to repeat too much of what was written. Suffice it to say, my previously supreme confidence of an Edwards nomination has all but disappeared.

So what do I think will happen?

I think it's politically foolish to think these developments won't hinder his campaign, for reasons you can read by clicking on that link. Before the announcement, I was confident the Edwards campaign wouldn't have peaked until the primaries. Now, I fear it peaks this week or the next. The Edwards family will be lauded for courage, determination, and for what they say is putting the country before anything else. In time, however, the decision to push forward in a rigorous campaign with an ailing wife with children aged eight and six will be looked on as a decision very few Americans would have made had they been put in that same situation. Thus, Edwards will not win. The mounting pressure of an uphill battle will be supplemented with the idea that the next year might be wasted in a campaign, when Edwards could be spending time with his wife and family. One night, the decision will seem easy and clear.

John Edwards will withdraw from the Democratic Primary before a single primary vote is cast.

Monday, March 26, 2007



Another word we are not allowed to say in our house is “idiot” (refer to A Dolt’s House for our own little family etymology on the word “stupid”). At any rate, not saying idiot can be a challenging thing these days; one of my favorite expressions (shared with my better half) is: “These people are idiots.” Still, when we leave for work, our 3½ year old politely reminds us not to say stupid, or hate, or idiot. Consequently, when he is awake and listening to us, we must be a bit creative with our language and have since adopted the sophisticated phrase “These people are animals” instead. This we coined as our own after hearing Ana Lucia (from ABC’s Lost) use it in reference to the Others.

This week’s outrage comes from one of my more recent encounters of the idiot kind in my field, education.
The particular case of idiocy is multi-layered; that is, it is internal and external. The external, which I will explain, is an almost boring and common occurrence in education. The internal… well, that is a bit more complicated. The external idiocy can most easily be witnessed in blatant rewards for mediocrity. This, I am most certain, happens in just about every field. A person may lack a particular (and one would think, essential) bit of knowledge or expertise in his or her field. Yet, this person is constantly honored or recognized for being so outstanding. The teachers in the trenches have students like this; some of us may even have colleagues like this. In some musings, I think George W. was this type of student in high school, frustrating his peers because perhaps he always seemed to finish first even if his smarts were not exactly up to par.

When I witness such obvious rewards for mediocrity or blatant disregard to recognize true excellence, I often think: “These people are idiots.” I’ve been working in schools for over 10 years and, regardless of the microcosm within the larger community, these rewards keep coming to people that just aren’t that great. They aren’t bad people or mean people or even sickeningly unqualified. It’s just that there are others out there that really are top notch and get no real recognition… ever. Maybe at their retirement dinner or graduation party a friend or relative will make a suitable comment to acknowledge their genuine excellence. Maybe… but that just isn’t enough for me.

Here is the worst part, the internal idiocy. That’s right. The outrage this week is not directed at the establishment. No, it is directed at me. I am the biggest idiot (I can just hear my son yelling at me for using this word so many times) because I am always shocked and chagrined (like Seinfeld’s Jackie Chiles) when these very common occurrences happen. Sign me up for… because none of this is new information.

Rage-o-meter: 10 ++

Sunday, March 25, 2007



If you heard one Republican apologist this week, you heard them all. It’s been like listening to a bad record skip all over the media with these stuffed men paying homage to their party rather than their country.

There were so many talking heads justifying, analyzing, talking about, explaining, parsing, explicating, comparing and contrasting why this administration does the things it does (pull down options):

A. Screw up.
B. Create a scandal.
C. Mismanage government, a war, and foreign policy.
D. Respond to a natural catastrophe.
E. All of the Above

Hell, let’s go with all of the above. It almost seemed like Karl Rove was re-mixing material for an RNC rendition of rapper’s delight. Can I get a beat for grandmaster spin, flavor munster Tony Snow? Hip-hop-hooray…ho…hey!...T-o-n-y…Snow…yea!

This all started with the latest scandal plaguing the administration: the politically-motivated firing of completely competent, Republican (yes, Republican) US attorneys who were apparently not aggressive enough in pursuing the political enemies of Chimpy Company: any and all Democrats. The first problem for these attorneys was that they were competent; only the incompetent & Republican survive in Chimpy’s world. The second problem was they wouldn’t do what several other stuffed people do: put party over country.

But let’s get our beat back: Enter Fab Five Fredo Gonzales, who’s really B-A-D with memorizing his rap because it’s become abundantly apparent he’s lied. So now that Fredo Gonzales might be getting whacked, as Franck Rich has beautifully noted in his column today, every RNC idol worshipper has booked appearances on every show imaginable to doublespeak this mess. Let’s take a look at the most and least tolerable performances to see which rap makes sense.

Andrew Sullivan on Olberman this past week gave Sullivan the RNC most tolerable performance, as Andy went where few RNC storm troopers go: Countdown. Seriously, it was a good interview—he got his dig in on Hillary. But rather than blister with the Republican colic, a disorder that paralyzes the likes of Michael Savage, David Horowitz and others, Andy admitted what most level-headed people know, including true conservatives: the conservative movement is almost dead thanks to Chimpy and Company, Ronald Reagan is rolling and crying in his grave, and Mann Coulter needs to stop calling people fags because there are many respectable gay republicans, like Sullivan himself. Like it or not, Sullivan made sense.

While Sullivan showed that some RNC troopers can be faithful to their country over their party, David Frum busted out from the American Enterprise Institute, the gansta’ spot of neoconservativism, to deliver the least tolerable, Vanilla Ice rap of the week. Ice-icing crap with his rap, Frum tried to spin his shit by fronting on Real Time with Maher. This was beautiful political theater, as Davey Fly Frum just stuck to the RNC rapper’s delight script: lie, lie, baby. The war isn’t as bad as we think, there’s nothing wrong with firing these attorneys and then lying about the firing of these attorneys, and Chimpy has every right to be a Darth Imperial leader in a democracy. Needless to say, Frum made no sense other than proving John Dean’s thesis in Conservatives without a Conscience: sometimes the blind just follow the blind.

Frum was perhaps the least tolerable performance among a group of hollow men—and many women—who don’t quite realize that we have to stop idolizing Mistah Bush who would rather end things with a bang, not a whimper.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


A Degree of Doubt
Recently it seems like anyone who questions whether humans are the main cause of global warming is equivalent to a Puritan who doubts the existence of God. Instead of burning people at the stake (a fad that I’m grateful has fallen out of favor), scientists have lost their jobs and there are calls to have the American Meteorological Society revoke the endorsement of any meteorologist who dares to doubt.

I’m not a scientist, so I’m not going to claim to be an authority on the causes of global warming, but I hesitate to fully accept the blame for the one degree change during the past ten years. Here are some quick facts that cause me to pause.
  • Mars ice caps are melting.
  • Jupiter is getting a second red spot, which is believed to be the cause of a global temperature increase
  • The frozen nitrogen surface on Triton, Neptune’s moon, has begun to melt
  • Pluto has warmer up three degrees in recent years
  • The sun has been generating more heat over the past century

We are more likely to understand global warming if we encourage debate, rather than shut it down. I guess, however, when you have a man who is “not” running for President centering his campaign and free press around global warming, we can’t start suggesting he might be wrong.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Save the Suspense: Democratic Primary Results Determined (Conclusion)

Weekly Presidential Politics - 3/21/07

Crucial to knowing my thought processes, deductions, assumptions, derivations, speculations, inferences, predictions, conclusions, and whatever else I'm talking about - excluding this sentence - familiarize yourself with Parts 1 and 2.

Save the Suspense: Democratic Primary Results Determined (Conclusion)

The DNC seems to like a new dish. Primary schedule - scrambled.

First, the decision to move the Nevada Caucus in front of the New Hampshire Primary changes the dynamic of the early primaries. One fortnight ago, I said that this adjustment, in regards to the Democratic Primary, was the single most significant development of the last year. Due to the added importance of Nevada, John Edwards will win the Democratic nomination. I'm still waiting for the talking heads to stop treating this like Hillary vs. Obama and catch up to me, but alas, we will wait.

The Nevada facelift is not the only difference in the primary schedule. Many other states, wanting to increase the political weight of their primaries, are making amendments, motions, and decisions to move up their primary date. Unfortunately for these ambitious states, Democratic Party rules prohibit moving up in front of February 5th, so they cannot move ahead of the four states mentioned last week. The remaining competitions are allowed to be held on or after that date.

As many as twenty states are looking to move up to February 5th, that earliest allowed date. Instead of the traditional Super Tuesday, a primary day in early March when at most ten states are up for grabs, 2008 will be the birth of Hyper Tuesday, when a majority of delegates will be up for grabs. Again, the motive of the states is to increase the importance of their primary.

Methinks their plan will backfire.

When 15-20 states have their primary on the same day, this will devalue each one of those states. First, candidates cannot spend time in all of these states. Second, and most important, remember that horse race coverage, and voters' subconscious or conscious desire to vote for a winner, will mean whoever is in the lead after the first four states will probably win the most states on February 5th, effectively cinching the nomination. At least that's what the historical pattern indicates.

And who will be leading on February fourth? As explained the last couple weeks: John Edwards, who has broad support across the socioeconomic and geographic spectrum. Unlike Senators Clinton and Obama, few people will dislike Edwards or predict he cannot win a general. Once he is leading after the first four states - and he will be - all parts of Democrat America can talk themselves into voting for him on Hyper Tuesday. And the rest, as they say, is academic.

Sorry to ruin the suspense.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Outrage of the Week

A Corporate Sacrifice?

Those of you that live in the southeastern CT area probably share this week’s outrage. It was reported last week that the Pfizer CEO earned a 3.3 million dollar bonus last year. A nice accompaniment to his 10 mil salary (this includes that base pay and stock options, of course). While lots of us see friends and family members scrambling for new employment during Pfizer’s latest corporate shuffle, it’s nice to see that the CEO is sacrificing along with the rest of them.

This one is so obvious and so close to home that our blog host and I actually bickered over who had the rights to this news tidbit. In a funny and insightful draft of the Dolt’s House, sptmck raged on about this one. Hopefully, he’ll share his humorous outrage in a comment for us. (And yes, I am referring to the “pull down menu”).

Rage-o-Meter: 8.5

Additionally, I encourage you to read the entry from our former student AR- it certainly qualifies as a 10 on the Rage-o-Meter.

FROM THE FRONTLINE: A conscientious student's reflection

NOTE: This entry was sent to me from one of my former students--AR--who currently attends UCONN and who was at the Peace Rally in Hartford on Saturday. A huge thanks to AR for being more than 1% more conscious and for making some of his former teachers very proud; may the force be with him.
I participated in the Peace Rally in Hartford on March 17th. The emotions were high as some notable speakers such as Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Susan Bysiewicz, and others spoke out against Bush and his war, demanding its end. It was a very powerful demonstration until the end when everyone quietly left. I was amazed to see that it was us students who decided to take action without major support from the adults. In moments we were organizing a march among different student organizations from across the state. This was what was needed, a true peaceful demonstration around the city to spread our word of Peace. Despite such peaceful intentions, police arrested one of our fellow protestors for beginning to lead the march. Soon after the arrest, the number of student protesters dropped tremendously. I cannot blame them completely, for I am sure none of them have ever faced jail before. However, several other students and I were outraged by this unconstitutional act and decided to march from the Old State Building to Police Headquarters where he was being held. There were 8 marchers and 15 more students drove to meet us there where we protested until our friend was released. During this period I could not help but feeling angry, scared, amazed, and sad. I was angry that our friend was arrested. I was scared that even I might be arrested. I was amazed that the police would go as far as they did. But mostly I was sad. I felt sorrow for our friend, but I felt more sorrow for our country. Our Bill of Rights is under attack. We are slowly becoming like the very enemy our forefathers fought. What has America come to if innocent students and others cannot express their first amendment right to peacefully protest the government? What is American when we need permission to use our rights? How can democracy survive if we cannot exercise the rights that make our democracy and the rights that made this country great? This country is turning into hypocrisy and slowly it is turning away from democracy. Our right to protest the government is what gave the people power. The government of the people, by the people, and for the people is what makes our democracy like no other. Without our right to protest, we have no power, and if the people have no power, we have no democracy. These are sad times for our country. I hope people realize these injustices and act before it is too late.

Saturday, March 17, 2007



Our son doesn’t like us to use the word “stupid.” He tells us—because we’ve repeatedly told him—that he “doesn’t like that word.” So since we’ve been banned from using the word “stupid” in our house, I’m dedicating this entry to the stupidity in America, and, folks, there’s plenty of it.

Just take a look at our national politicians this week. Both sides of the aisle have boldly displayed stupidity like no dolt before. Ladies first: Hillary Clinton. Hillary “don’t ask, don’t tell” Clinton had the audacity at first to sidestep on whether or not homosexuality was “immoral.” But after quickly realizing how stupid a move she had made and after being apparently scolded for her stupidity by a triangulating consultant or two, Hillary issued a statement clarifying her initial stupidity that homosexuality was not immoral.

Gentlemen second: Barack did some maneuvering as well, but he was NOT nearly as stupid as Hillary. Instead of sidestepping, Barack electric-slided on the homosexuality/immorality question and had to issue his own statement clarifying his stupidity. Yes, Barack doesn’t think that homosexuality is immoral.

The gentleman who was actually stupider than Hillary & Barack put together was none other than John McCain. Still embraced in the tango of death with the “agent of intolerance,” religious right, straight-talker John McCain in his “Bill Frist” moment actually claimed that he was unsure whether or not a condom could prevent the spread of HIV. Kind of reminds us of when ol’ Princeton, Harvard educated Frist said he was unsure of whether or not spit could transmit HIV. Stupid, really, really stupid.

But the American politician who gets “the most stupid” award this week is none other than George W. Bush, a dolt whose White House is literally coming apart. With the Iraq invasion coming upon a four-year anniversary with more tragedy each day, a Veterans Affairs department that resembles apocalypse now playing at most VA hospitals, including at Walter Reed, a justice department doing some very unjust things
, Valerie Plame Wilson testifying under oath that she was “covert,” troll right-wing hack Victoria Toensing testifying while on some bad acid that Wilson was not, Chimpy continues to move from one act of stupidity to the next.

At least the natives in Central America were smart enough to cleanse their land of Chimpy, whom they considered inherently evil, once he had left. Too bad we Americans are simply too stupid to do the same.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Note: Kindel, my beloved conservative colleague, friend, and world-class baker, has agreed to post on Thursdays. If you had her chocolate-dipped shortbreads, you'd be tempted to go to her side of the aisle; I'm not kidding. I'm calling her Thursday contribution "Conservative & Proud." Kindel had a little help this week from one of my former, conservative students; you know: that kid who attends school Pennsylvania and LOVES Maureen Dowd

It Takes A Parent To Raise A Child

In the past week The Day has run two articles discussing teen crime, one focused on New London and one on East Lyme. In both cases there was a call for more youth programs to give teens something positive to do with their time. One East Lyme resident claimed that “the town needed to offer more engaging and free activities to keep teenagers out of trouble.” Another said that when he was a kid there were open spaces for “impromptu games” but that development has destroyed these areas. Kids are already overscheduled and the community isn’t responsible for giving kids alternatives to trashing houses and getting into trouble. When are parents going to take responsibility for their kids; better yet, when are kids going to start taking responsibility for themselves? What’s with the coddling?

As a teacher I’m always amazed by the e-mails I get from parents. I have parents of 17 year old honor students who contact me weekly asking for a list of assignments and grades. I have others who ask me for advice when their kids are sullen or rebellious. I am 26 years old; I have no children. Ask me about Shakespeare and I’m fine, that’s my field; ask me about how long your child should be grounded for skipping curfew…not my problem. It seems like society wants to put the blame and responsibility for kids’ poor behavior on anyone but the kids and their families.


As a peer of these “sullen delinquents,” it makes me sick to see teachers submit to these grade-grubbing students and the parents who entitle them. I grew up in Waterford, too, but my parents never called a teacher or wrote an email, yet they were certainly involved with my schooling. They put the onus on me and now I am a better college student for it, not crying to mommy and daddy every time a professor give me anything less than an A. Inflating grades, however, is a whole other issue…perhaps another entry.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Weekly Presidential Politics - 3/14/07

Last week, on Presidential Politics...

Click on the above link to get yourself caught up. In sum, I stated that three factors, more than any others, play a role in winning a presidential primary: Money, geography, and the media. One candidate has two of them, which will eventually lead to his nomination. Read on to find out how...

Save the Suspense: Democratic Primary Results Determined (Part 2 of 3)

First, refresh yourself on the Democratic Primary Schedule. Second, sit back and enjoy the show. Here is a step by step process of how the next Democratic nominee for President will be John Edwards.

A) Iowa (1/14/08) - With former Iowa Governor Vilsack dropping out, it will be a three candidate race in Iowa between Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. Here is a look at eight polls taken in the last three months by a handful of different sources. Two of those candidates rise and fall with the moods of Iowans. Only one person is in the top two of everyone of those polls, and leads five of the eight, and that's John Edwards.

Edwards, unlike Clinton, Obama, and Richardson, has had a network in Iowa since 2004, when he came in second to John Kerry in the Democratic Iowa caucus. Edwards' folksy charm and uncanny ability to reach out to a small crowd surpasses the strength and preference of Obama to speak to big crowds. Iowans like the Edwards approach much more, as they are the first to vote for the candidates and want to speak with them in close, intimate settings. Ultimately, however, Edwards doesn't even have to win Iowa, though he currently has a good as shot as any of the Big Three. If Clinton or Obama dump a load of money into the state, they could pass him. It's the next couple weeks where Edwards will pull away.

B) Nevada (1/19/08) - And here's where geography will play its biggest role. For the first time, Nevada has been moved up in front of New Hampshire. On this Saturday, John Edwards wins Nevada. Slap a guarantee on this one. The one who carries the labor unions carries Nevada, and labor loves John Edwards. Edwards takes his top 3 Iowa showing and Nevada victory into the Sunday morning political shows as well as the Sunday morning papers. The media takes a hold of the Edwards campaign, and whispers of either Obama or Hillary (the one that didn't win Iowa) becoming desperate begin to hit the news cycles. Edwards, meanwhile, looks confident on all news segments, with a growing fandom. Subsequent voters look forward to voting for a winner. The money starts rolling in to the Edwards campaign, while Clinton and Obama are hemorrhaging it to try to keep pace.

C) New Hampshire (1/22/08) - Hillary Clinton will win New Hampshire. The Clintons are incredibly popular in the state. Edwards rides his Nevada victory into a strong second place showing, despite never being in the top two until that Nevada primary (ah, the power of horserace coverage). At this point, Obama is throwing the bank at the early primaries while Edwards is already campaigning for "Super Tuesday." At this point, Edwards might have two victories and a second place showing.

D) South Carolina (1/29/08) - Make that three victories. When the primaries head south, John Edwards will strengthen his lead. Worst case after South Carolina, he has two victories (Nevada and South Carolina) and two strong showings (Iowa, New Hampshire). In other words, this is your leader heading into "Super Tuesday."

I've got a word limit. Trust me, there's more. I'll conclude the Primary results in seven days. Next week's topic:


Monday, March 12, 2007

Outrage of the Week

No Child Left Behind?
by ATM

I know that the immigration debate can be a very polarizing issue. Quite a few discussions at my own kitchen table could get very heated should I choose to “go there” with a few friends of mine. The information that compels this blog is not new, uncharted territory; it’s just a recent, unfortunate chapter in how legislation can really screw the American family. And yes, I say American family fully acknowledging that the varied sum of its diverse parts might be comprised of illegal American immigrants with American-born children.

There was a raid in New Bedford, Mass. last week at a factory that, get this, manufactures gear for our military. Of the over 350 workers that were seized in the raid, more than half of these workers were shipped to be detained in Texas and New Mexico. Same raid, different day and different city, right? Probably. What originally outraged me was the number of children left behind by their parents- leaving siblings, relatives, friends, social workers, and city officials scrambling to meet the child care needs of these kids. I was even more incensed to read that an infant was hospitalized for dehydration because her nursing mother was being detained.

This goes on all across the country leaving hundreds of children without their parents. A few years back, a student in my community college class shared a similar experience; members of my class were indeed in disagreement as they represented one of our country's many divisions of thought- as both “sides of the aisle” have not come into consensus on the so-called “immigration issue.” As it currently stands, federal law does not allow for the consideration of such families in matters of deportation. Hopefully, our Congressional leadership won’t waste too much time waxing poetics on this one; idealistically, you would think that someone powerful is out there advocating for these kids and their parents. As a compassionate citizenry, we have to do better than this.

Rage-o-meter: 10

Saturday, March 10, 2007



Our 3½ year old is just beginning to internalize what it means to be sorry. Still deep in the egocentrism stage, he’s slowly but surely inching his way towards perspective thinking. Thanks to the help of his nursery school teachers—patron saints indeed, the cheeky and oftentimes penitent Thomas the Tank Engine, Shane’s Kindergarten Countdown, and my better-half and me, N. is learning not to throw sand, not to demolish his classmates’ building blocks projects; and not to push O. whose father is a good colleague of mine, twice my size, and could easily send me into the ICU just by sitting on me. In short, N. is not just saying “he’s sorry,” he means it.

Pardon me: we Americans have a strange understanding of what it means to be sorry, what it means to forgive, and whom should be forgiven and/or pardoned and why. Perhaps we need to revisit the learning lessons of toddlers, past history, and/or great works of literature—something. Because more so than the much-ado-‘bout-nothing “morals and values” narrative assigned to the right in the wake of the 2004 election, this past week’s news showed a different story. While the MSM has indulged the hard right with their pontificating about all the ills and vices of Americans, the hard right has shown America that hypocrisy is no different today than when Chaucer wrote “The Pardoner’s Tale” in the 14th century.

Just take the I. Scooter Libby trial this week; check out David Corn’s analysis for The Nation. No sooner had the jury rendered its verdict then the right came “out” for Libby’s pardon in grand National Review fashion; never mind that the verdict was more about the illegal prosecution of the Iraq war than the Fitzgerald prosecution of Libby. Interestingly, some of these “pardoner” folks were the same people who raised holy hell against Bill Clinton when Monica’s genetically stained dress came out of its closet. Interestingly, these are the same people who’ve come out again and again sometimes on TV, sometimes in speeches, and sometimes in sermons about morals, values, and how to lead a “right” life amidst the sinners in the hands of angry mainstream America.

Most interestingly, what did “come out” this week from the hermetically sealed, right- wing closet was pretty amazing. In a mea culpa moment, Newt Gingrich did confess that he was having an extra-marital affair while he and his cohorts tattooed Bill Clinton with a scarlet letter M. Hey, give the guy a break: it’s Lent and some Republican candidates are tanking. And Mann Coulter, who in a speech called John Edwards a “faggot” and whose last book Godless criticized the religion of liberals among other things, was actually seen with a “closeted” gay Republican male—there’s a shocker—whose alter ego is better known as gay porn star Rod Majors. Now if only Rod were to check out if Mann had a “rod” then we (and my favorite radio personality Randi Rhodes) would all have clarity—once and for all—on why Mann makes fun of gay people on a regular basis. For more on Mann’s hypocrisy and the media’s enabling of it, be sure to check out Savoir Faire Scribneoir’s meditations in WTF!

Pardon me: in these desperate times, what will it take to move our culture away from egocentrism towards perspective thinking? Do we all need a dose now and again of Thomas the Tank Engine and the lessons we learn in nursery school? Can we ever pardon the sins of the past and the present to forge some kind of better tomorrow?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Weekly Presidential Politics - 3/7/07

Wednesday's guest blogger is IC, a colleague of mine, a fighting liberal, and a fellow blogger. Check out IC's blog, Presidential Politics for America, for more about the contenders for 2008. For those of you interested in sports, be sure to visit his sports blog, Around the blog.

Well, it's my first of hopefully many weekly Wednesday short posts here at 1% More Conscious. In order to get off on the right foot, I'd like to ingratiate myself to you readers by doing you a favor. Please enjoy my inaugural post. ( Presidential-like...possibly foreshadowing the subject matter of my contributions?)

Save the Suspense: Democratic Primary Results Determined

That's it. It's over. I've saved people the trouble of voting.

What do I mean? I mean we can stop worrying ourselves over who will be the next Democratic nominee for President of the United States. The Hillary vs. Barack debate, as ATM did a great job outlining on Monday, is starting to become old hat, and we're still nine months away from the Iowa Caucus!

If you are also getting heavy eyelids from the pendulum of weak volleys between Camp Hillary and Camp Obama, let me recommend that you stop taking the time to think about who's winning. Are you tired of the analyzing, examining, synthesizing, figuring and anatomizing? That's why I'm here. And I've figured it out. I know who's going to win, and almost as important, I know why they're going to win. The best part is, every small development that happens now doesn't even matter.

Our good friends over at Wikipedia have recently updated the 2008 Democratic Primary schedule. Remember when Nevada made a splash by getting the DNC's approval to move up in front of New Hampshire? Unbeknownst to most, that was the single most important occurrence of the last year in this race for the Democratic nomination, even more important than that picture of Obama in his bathing suit. (Sorry ladies, no hyperlink for you!)

The scheduling of the primaries plays an enormous role in determining presidential nominees. Enormous. Three things affect the nomination process more than any other: Money, geography, and the media. And if you can spin any two of those in your direction, the third becomes irrelevant. The most a rival could get is the one remaining.

Thanks to scheduling, one Democratic candidate has two of those in his favor. That's right. His favor.

And it's not Barack Obama.

Next week, I'll reveal how the 2008 Democratic Primary will unfold. See you then.

Monday, March 05, 2007


NOTE: Taking a cue from Connecticut Local Politics, I've enlisted some other bloggers who will contribute on a regular basis. ATM, my better-half and soulmate, will blog on Mondays. Her blog is entitled "Outrage of the Week." As you probably can tell, we were both big fans of the now defunct CNN show The Capitol Gang.



“The Only Thing We Have to Fear is… Dem-Fatigue”

In the space between asleep and awake last night, I had a fleeting thought of dem-fatigue, probably inspired by our Sunday night routine with The Chris Matthews Show. Yet again, Hillary and Barack constituted the main subject of the panel. Frankly, I am sick of questions like “Are we ready for this or that?” Maybe we need to consider if we are ready to move on to talking about the 2008 campaign with greater depth, a new direction, or even really throw the discussion of some of the other players into the mix.

Then, before falling asleep, I checked myself. Is this just outrage for the sake of it? Am I overreacting like the woman in one of those anti-depressant commercials from a few years ago?

Nope. It’s Monday morning and my local paper is talking about the fact that Hil and Obama were not “arm-in-arm” in Selma yesterday. (For those of you that are interested, she was holding her husband’s hand instead). And no, I am not kidding you about the hand holding.

I’ll admit it: In this fear factor era that dismissed the color-coded alert system as quickly as it adopted it, I am afraid. I fear dem-fatigue. Don’t get me wrong; I am all about media exposure, but the relentless superficial focus on Hilary and Barack is annoying me already… and I like politics. I am worried about fatiguing the other part of our populace- those that already hate politics. Will they hate it more as a result of this TV coverage? And, the greater question is, will they direct their disdain at the Dems because of Hil-Barack tidal wave?

Grade on the Outrage Meter: 6.5

ASIDE: As usual, NPR is being pretty balanced with their coverage of major and minor candidates on both sides of the aisle. It’s a nice place to treat those weary with dem-fatigue.

Saturday, March 03, 2007



This entry is dedicated to FA, a conservative, former student of mine, faithful reader, and good friend, who has been harassing me via e-mail from Pennsylvania this weekend with his right-wing spin the donkey.

What’s up with Mo lately? That’s Maureen Dowd. Not only has she once again proven her thesis that men are necessary especially if you want to do a Clinton drive-by, she also seems to be living-out her ol’ Catholic Schoolgirl Self. As a former Catholic Schoolboy and as a Dowd fan, I’m kind of concerned that Mo might be overextending her time on the keg funnel of meanness. After all, we Catholic school kids are taught to share, both our alcohol and our criticisms.

As a never-reformed, school-uniform kid who’s indulged in and seen this meaner than mean behavior before, I can’t help but ask: Mo, what’s up with this drama lately? Did your little foray into Poliwood make you jealous? Are you mad that Geffen is gay? Could it be that you, too, are sick of Anna and Britney? Or is it that you’re angry you weren’t cast in Dreamgirls? Maybe a little bling would make you feel better? Or do you need to take comfort in the Catholic kid excuse for everything: the devil made me do it?

Starting cat fights, interviewing presidential contenders simultaneously to praise and slam them, media-whoring better than Mann Coulter, and just salivating over the prospect that Hillary Clinton may, in fact, be a political vampire who’s sucked all Democratic donors dry, constitute grounds for going to Mother Superior’s office. And NO ONE wants to go to that potentially halitosis-infested space.

Come back to us, Mo. Be satirical. Be that woman of mass analysis to stir the apple cart. Point out the follies of our foolish leaders. Be critical, very critical. Recently, though, you’re reminding me of those kids in the cafeteria who just start drama with everyone just because they have nothing better to do.

Remember, Mo, you can always funnel from the keg anytime you like; but just take it easy so you don’t…overindulge. Whether it’s this keg or that, too much time on the funnel is never a good thing. Beware of Mother Superior.



"The Redirection" by Seymour Hersh

Thursday, March 01, 2007



So as America was bedazzled by Hollywood last week, with the departed Anna Nicole Smith in “As I Lay Dying” and NYT dreamgirl Maureen Dowd teaming up with Dreamworks David Geffen for the Clinton/Obama WWF smackdown, real news remained on what seemed to be the editing room floor. Blinded by the glare from Britney’s head, it was nearly impossible to piece together the different strips of reality, whether it was the Walter Reed rat/mold infestation sequence or Seymour Hersh’s latest installment of the coming war or the Taliban, Part II, Revenge of Afghanistan.

The one real-news filmstrip that never left the developing room let alone move to editing revealed yet another stunning reality in America: our high school students’ achievement in reading has gone down, way down, from an 80% reaching “basic” proficiency in 1992 to a staggering 73% reaching “basic” proficiency in 2005. But this is not the only fact that the report, produced by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, projected onto the much manipulated mainstream media news radar screen: more so than ever, high school students are taking the most challenging courses available and, get a load of this, achieving the highest marks in these courses.

Let’s do the math, another academic area in which our students have fallen behind: MORE STUDENTS TAKING “DIFFICULT COURSES” + INFLATED GRADES = DUMBED-DOWN CURRICULUM. In the age of No Child Left Behind and Education through Testing, no wonder the powers that be didn’t want to advertise this fucking horror show of real-news.

And speaking of dumbed-down, Secretary of No Education Maggie Spellings claims that the disappointing report shows “we have our work cut out for us.” And this begs the question: how about you resign, Maggie, and cut your no-qualified self out of the picture? But really, how could Maggie do such a thing since our big picture seems to only resonate with failure? From the failure to locate WMDs to the failures of Iraq and Afghanistan, from the failure of Katrina and the Gulf Coast to the failing grades of the 9/11 Commission Report, from the failure of Habeas Corpus to our failure to alleviate poverty and homelessness, we are learning some difficult and slow lessons in our School House Not.