Monday, April 30, 2007

Outrage of the Week

No “Girls” Left Behind

What on earth is wrong with me? How could I not like an editorial titled “Women Deserve Equity?” Similar to the flawed law with the beautiful name, No Child Left Behind, the editorial espouses great things in its name. But, as with everything, the devil really is in the details. Published in the New London Day last week, the article cannot be linked. Rest assured, I’ll be judicious in my synopsis and dish out the good and the bad.

The editorial is about research recently released regarding the gap in pay earned by women and men, currently 77 cents to the dollar. The opinion piece is both informative and clear, stating that the disparity (and the rate of improvement) is “insulting… disappointment… and unfair.” One would think this is the honorable position to take; it is.

What bothers me is the short-sighted solution offered by the editorial. On my first reading, I was outraged at the end of the article. I looked forward to the subsequent days that would surely bring the barrage of women that take issue with the piece in the Letters to the Editor. Saturday. Sunday. Monday. Not one letter. Anyone besides me outraged? Nope.

So I did the fair thing; I revisited the text. After all, we women can be irrational, right? I read it three times. Still outraged. However, I guess no one else seemed to mind this "solution" offered by the editorial staff of my local paper:

A two-prong attack on the problem is warranted.
Women should be encouraged to move into male-dominated professions, such as engineering and finance. And women must learn to negotiate for better positions and salaries.
But there is only so much that women can do. Men who hold the reins of power in business and industry need to be cognizant of the disparity, and move to erase it. Equal pay for equal work is a necessity.
- The New London Day, 4/27/07

Oh- that’s all? How wise- how all-knowing- and especially, how good of you to help us. Thanks so much for solving the problem.

Can we honestly assume that the problem can be sufficiently addressed with such a simplistic “two-pronged” attack? Are we supposed to believe that there are a plethora of female dominated professions for women to run from? Poor negotiating tactics are our most pressing flaw? And yes, like the deus ex machina in a Greek tragedy, the all powerful MEN will be our “cognizant” and benevolent saviors? As I said, thanks so much for solving (and explaining) the problem.

I guess I didn’t understand it all when the conductor of the career train pointed me to the girls’ platform and punched my ticket for the Mommy Track. When I do go back into the workforce, I’ll be sure to negotiate my way into an engineering position and click my little red heels while I wait for the “men who hold the reins of power” to save me because, after all, "there is only so much that women can do."

This is when I think that even if she is not my favorite candidate, Hillary better beat the pants off of her opponents so the paradigm in this country starts to shift. Remember, no one (besides me) was apparently bothered by this article. Run Hill, Run!


Saturday, April 28, 2007



Medea, Medusa, Cleopatra, Hedda Gabler, Margaret Thatcher, Camille Paglia—women from literature, history, and popular culture who know how to play hardball with men, who know how to attack, and, in some instances, who know how to win. In Thursday night’s first debate of Democratic presidential contenders, Hillary Clinton boldly showed that she can be one of these women.

Like her or hate her—I myself was none too pleased with the misleading “If I knew then what I know now” line of crap, Senator Clinton presented herself confidently, decisively, and with a sense of command. Sorry progressives and fellow bloggers on the left: our favorites, Obama and Edwards, didn’t do too well.

Obama stuttered and flopped his way through and Edwards truly seemed dazed and confused; that last response on morality was one momentary lapse too long; Edwards’ narrative of poor, Huckleberry me was re-used, 2004 rhetoric that should be gone.

Yes, Brian Williams channeled Maureen Dowd’s cattiness with the $400 haircut topic; the real “yes” moment went to Joe Biden for being laconic.

As Bill Richardson talked like Joe Biden better than Joe Biden, Kucinich and Gravel terrorized the rest with candor while being “frightened.”

Clinton and Dodd possessed the statesmanship, calm and reason to manage the storm. In this Ship of Fools of Chimpy, Cheney, Captain Lieberman, and “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” McCainy, we desperately need a sane Commander-in-Chief to right some wrongs.

As we move closer to 2008, the American mainstream media does what it likes best: fake news on the debate, Alec Baldwin, and the rest. Meanwhile, Chris Matthews, Tucker Carlson, and several men drool: “what do we do now if America does NOT think she’s a shrew?” “We’ll use her sex as weapon to pick apart her clothes, to point out she’s too shrill, and to remind us of Rick Lazio.”

Funny, outside the U.S. they called the debate for Hillary. Thankfully, they are not as hung up on sex and gender and think Americans are far too silly.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


And Your Plan Is?
I have problems with the three forerunners in the race for the Republican primary, but the one thing I am glad about is their solidarity concerning the war in Iraq. In spite of any misinformation that led to our initial involvement, we’re there. We have troops on the ground and a teetering Iraqi government. We cannot withdraw this week or probably even before the 2008 election.

Do those politicians who are attempting to force the President’s hand by cutting funds for the war or setting dates for withdrawal have a plan? If we leave Iraq prematurely, that area will become a center for terrorists with a grudge against America. America cut out of Vietnam early, another retreat will only embolden the enemies of our country. And to be pragmatic that area of the world is important to us: oil. It would be nice if we weren’t dependent on it, and we should be working towards this goal, but we are not there yet.

The Iraqi people will also suffer. Saddam was not convicted and executed for no reason and the Al-Qaeda or a radical Islamic group posed to jump in after our retreat will not be an improvement.

How can anyone argue with Lieberman, who I don’t love by any measure, and his statement over the 170 Iraqi civilians killed in suicide bombing last week? “If such an atrocity had been perpetrated in the United States, Europe or Israel, our response would surely have been anger at the fanatics responsible and resolve not to surrender to their barbarism.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wait, you do know McCain's the nominee, right?

Weekly Presidential Politics - 4/25/07

First, that is the last time I post nine straight flippin' days.

Second, though I'll be sure to remind you at the end of this post, I will be doing a LIVE BLOG tomorrow night during the Democratic debate on NBC. I have no idea how it will go, so at least
check it out to see how badly I fall on my face.

On with the show...

The no-Senator-in-the-White-House streak is about to end. All it took was the most invasive attack on mainland America since 1815. At a time when foreign policy and national security trump every other issue, January 20th, 2009 will see the first U.S. Senator sworn in since John Kennedy in 1961. Make no mistake about that.

With two incumbent Senators and one former Senator duking it out on the Democrats' side, this logic does not help narrow down that clusterfield.

The Grand Old Party, on the other hand, is all but locked up for John McCain. It's why, on my website, Senator McCain has remained the top Republican on The Line: Presidential Odds, despite poll after poll showing Giuliani with double digit leads and conservatives still not trusting McCain, and possibly turning to Mitt Romney, or the conservatives' new heartthrob, Fred Thomson.

The process by which I decided on John McCain was not an intricate or arduous one.

Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thomson, and Tommy Thomson won't have the funds.

Mitt Romney has the funds but he won't succeed in what will ultimately be a terrorism and national security election. The former Massachusetts governor won't make Republicans feel safe, especially while having to go against two heavyweights who make national security the paramount plank in their platform. Even if Romney makes national security his central issue, he'd be playing right into the hands of McCain and Giuliani. McCain has six hundred years in the Senate and Giuliani has 9/11 and its aftermath.

That leaves the two poll leaders. Now here's what I don't get:

How in the hell did Giuliani inherit all that was good about President Bush's foreign policy, while McCain inherited everything that was bad? (Rhetorical question.)

Think about it. Until social issues and his inflated Tough Guy personae catch up to him (and they will), Giuliani has come across as the guy who can keep us safe, the guy who won't let the terrorists touch his citizens ever again. In essence, Giuliani has inherited all the good parts of George W. Bush. It's the reason the county re-elected the President and it's the reason his approval rating stayed as high as it did for as long as it did. Americans, as a whole, felt safe with him in power. To this point, that has been Giuliani's inheritance.

Contrarily, John McCain has inherited everything else about national security - the bad parts of national security. He's inherited Iraq. You think John McCain, you think war, troop surge, Baghdad, and troops dying.

It's like the movie Twins, and McCain is Danny DeVito.

But here's the thing. When it comes to national security, foreign policy, support of the President, and the war on terror...these guys have practically the same stance. The only reason that McCain get saddled with all the undesirables is because he actually has to cast votes in the Senate while Giuliani can freely bound around the country talking about how he'd stand up to terrorists.

Let's delve deeper into the quandary. Looking into their Tough Guy and Courageousness past, there is a stark contrast between the two men.

Giuliani: “If any Republican is elected president —- and I think obviously I would be the best at this —- we will remain on offense and will anticipate what [the terrorists] will do and try to stop them before they do it."

Really? He'd "obviously" be best at this? Rudy Giuliani has no foreign policy experience. He received a student deferment and stayed out of Vietnam. He became a national political player because his city was attacked.

John McCain has been in the Senate for 20 years. During Vietnam, he was a prisoner of war for over five years, where he was beaten regularly for refusal to divulge information. He knows what it's like to be in an unpopular war in a far away land. He has loads of foreign policy experience and is currently the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

And Giuliani's the one with leads in the polls because of national security? When on that issue he and McCain practically agree on everything? It doesn't add up. In due time, the polls will reflect this.

Eventually, Giuliani won't be able to stand toe-to-toe with McCain on Giuliani’s greatest strength. Moreover, Giuliani's incongruence with the conservative mainstream will be another enormous strike against him in the Republican Primary.

Therefore, one of two huge national security candidates will be eliminated in a national security election. That leaves John McCain...your next Republican nominee for President of the United States.

PS. LIVE BLOG over at Presidential Politics for America tomorrow night!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Outrage of the Week

Saving Them All

Like many of my fellow educators, I find it particularly disturbing when incidents like the Virginia Tech shooting occur on school grounds. The details of this shooting and the outspokenness of instructors and students in the English department forced me to reflect on the role of today’s teachers.

Ten years ago, I was a teaching intern at a racially and economically diverse high school. Much of my day was spent working with students one-on-one that for some reason or another were considered at-risk. I remember vividly trying to get some rapport with this one freshman boy during academic coaching sessions. He was apathetic, unresponsive, and generally, pretty spaced out most of the time. The veteran teachers in this program would listen to my frustration and, sometimes, offer words of encouragement. By Christmas, none of us had really reached this kid; he drifted in and out of school everyday saying little and producing little in the way of schoolwork. Still, I was just an intern, not even yet at the beginning of my teaching career; optimistic and steadfastly hopeful, I continued to plug away at this kid.

One afternoon, a member of the teaching team said to me, “You know, you just can’t save them all. Sometimes, you just have to give up.” I hated this teacher at that moment; hated his cynicism and his jaded ideas. By June, I finished my internship. I never did reach the student; the teacher was right.

The student continued to float through high school- disengaged, disinterested, unhappy. None of his teachers, despite their best efforts, made a difference in his life.

Ten years later, I am no longer the intern I used to be. A part of me still wants to believe that we can save them all. Even though I still try, I know we can’t. To the beginning educator, I might be cynical; I might be jaded.

Or maybe I am just honest with myself. I’ll keep trying to save them all anyway.

Saturday, April 21, 2007



Maureen, Maureen, MAUREEN. In a week in which America endured the Virginia Tech. tragedy—and continues to endure other on-going tragedies, like, oh, Iraq, the Bush administration’s dictorial-freak yearnings for a unitarian executive, and the eroding rights of women and of countless others thanks to the Judicial Branch & Fredo’s [In]Justice Department, Maureen Dowd focuses on what?: the hair cut of John Edwards. That-a-girl!

OD-ing on Bravo TV—not that there’s anything wrong with that—love Work Out, Mo—who seems to like Blow Out—uses today’s column to focus on the Edwards’ hairdo misstep as a platform to criticize the exorbitant spending and fundraising of the 2008 presidential contenders. Mo is right: John, you sexy beast, get with us working class folk: economize and spend less on the hair.

Mo is also wrong: After taking a pass of convenience on the Imus story probably for fear of being called a sissy or worse by a**holes like Bernard McGuirk or the I-man’s replacement, Mr. Cleanly Tolerant, Michael Smerconish, who foolishly banged on his chest at the huffingpost with his—I’m-in-touch-with-my-white,-male-know-it-all-self-so-that-allows-me-to-displace-my-white-male-fear-and-hurl-insults-like-sissy-at-everyone, Mo and her MSM friends seem to be running scared. Conveniently ignoring and not effectively questioning major domestic and foreign crises exploding all over home and abroad that deserve more attention, more scrutiny, and for Pat Roberts’s sake, more satire, the mainstream media shifts its focus to what it prefers best: fake news.

Perhaps Dowd and her ilk were hypnotized by McCain, the crooner, and his rendition of “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” which might explain why they’ve been lured away from real news to the who-gives-a-poop news of blaming rap music for everything, Baldwin versus Basinger, and, yes, Edwards’ hair. But even bad singing has lost its appeal; alas, Sanjaya was voted off American Idol, and, interestingly, McCain’s performance was taken off YouTube. Are we turning a corner? Probably not. So instead of taking cues from Bravo TV’s reality shows on hair, Mo, you and your friends may want to check out Work Out, a show about a likeable, fearless woman, who fearlessly started her own fitness business, who fearlessly and thankfully shares with us her “alternative” lifestyle, and who shows that sometimes “cleanly tolerant,” sissy-calling wo/men are simply not necessary.

Thursday, April 19, 2007



Who seems to be the most challenged by…reality?

A. Our president for having what seems to be a renegade synaptic relapse at a speech today in Ohio, in which he randomly talked about polls, rugs, and…marriage. (he must’ve been signaling to Karl that Fredo was really f**king up.)

B. Senator John McCain for debuting his “bomb, bomb Iran” performance. (he’s still pissed at Scott Pelley—and rightfully so—for the question about his age.)

C. Alberto Gonzales for lying so badly that he made most 9th graders look good when they are bullshitting about why they don’t have their homework done. (Don’t you think he should’ve known better than to attempt to take on Senator Specter?)


NOTE: This is NOT a trick question.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

ELE-101: How to Win An Election

Weekly Presidential Politics - 4/18/07

Quick housekeeping note: Over at my Presidential Politics for America website, I've been using the nine days off during April Vacation to write one post a day, each post dedicated to a possible general election showdown. (Examples: McCain vs. Edwards, Giuliani vs. Clinton, etc.) Today is day five and I will tend to a new match up in short order. Yesterday, in my Giuliani vs. Clinton preview, the terrific author of 1% More Conscious weighed in with a lengthy, well thought-out comment that deserves a response. I felt there was no better venue than on his blog.

Thanks for the comment Sptmck. I will take your points one at a time.

Hillary/Richardson ticket - On the Richardson point, I concede the high ground. Always the sucker for electoral math, I have these numbers in my head every time I sit down to write a column. I admit that Bill Richardson's presence on a ticket does attract Latino voters, and while I won't exactly genuflect at New Mexico's five electoral votes, the possibility of turning Florida blue is magnetizing.

If you recall, I paired Richardson with both Obama and Edwards in their faux battle against John McCain. I understand all the positives brought forth by having Richardson on a ticket. Therefore, perhaps he's the best choice for the #2 spot regardless of the winner. The Dems better make damn sure, however, that they win Florida, because a Hillary Clinton nomination with no true southerner (Grits and NASCAR) on the bottom half will alienate more than half the country. We're talking a guaranteed loss of the popular vote.

Hillary/Dodd ticket - Talk about alienating 80% of the country. Two Northeast Dems? Dodd could recite Cervantes while riding a unicycle and eating chiles en nogada and the Hispanic community wouldn't care any more than they did in 2004.

Hillary/Obama Ticket - At this point, it’s either all or nothing for Senator Obama. After being thrust into the spotlight like the offspring of two celebrities, he won't be swallowing his pride to accept a #2 spot. Moreover, no Presidential nominee is going to choose a running mate that will outdraw and overshadow them throughout a campaign. Still, I'd say that the #2 spot is the perfect situation for Obama. He’s young, he’s got little national experience, and frankly, he might not be able win a general election yet. In fact, my Dream Team for the Democrats has him as the Vice-Presidential nominee.

He just won't do it.

Okay, Giuliani time - Many think that winning an election is having the right answers to questions on a variety of issues. Well, it's not about the answers. It's about the questions themselves. The questions that are being asked during a Presidential campaign dictate the winner more than the scripted and tested ten-word answers to these questions.

If the primary questions during an election are regarding national security, Republicans are going to win every time. Every time. I don't care what the Democrat is saying. Republicans will win national security elections. If it were about the economy, job, health care and other domestic issues, the Democrat would win, right? Again, the questions being asked are more important than the answers.

So what will the questions be in a Giuliani-Clinton campaign? They've both already hung their hat on the war and national defense. In Rudy Giuliani, you have the classic national security candidate. No one doubts that national security is his bread and butter. He's soft on the inside (the Baggage you mentioned), but first you have to get past his exterior polarized hull plating.

One more note on Giuliani's Baggage before I sign off: My general election previews are operating under the assumption that they won the nomination of their party. If Giuliani can get through a Republican Primary with all of these problems, he might come out invincible on the other side. So minorities won't vote for him...they weren't excited about George W. Bush either, and he's staggering across the finish line of his second term.

So how do you win an election? Forget about having the right answers. Make sure the right questions are being asked. Stick to your strengths and don't wander onto your opponent's home field. Hillary Clinton has become tethered to national defense, and both John McCain and Rudy Giuliani would defeat her in a general election.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Outrage of the Week

The Stench They Call the I-Man

The execs at CBS and MSNBC must be feeling really good about themselves today. At the start of a fresh work week, they can be relieved that they washed the I-Man out of their hair, finally ridding themselves of the show that was sometimes racist, sometimes sexist, and most of the time obnoxious. They probably are proud to wear their “I’m not a racist” merit badges on their sleeves, having pacified the many people that were calling for Don Imus to get fired. Now that the Shrek-like ogre hunt is over, can we honestly say that we have rid ourselves of the stain of racism that plagues this country? Of course not. The whole Imus thing, from start to finish, just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

First and foremost is the comment that Imus made. When I heard what happened, I was reminded of why I chose to no longer tune in to “Imus in the Morning” a few years ago. Why some people think it was remotely okay for Imus to say this is beyond me.

Why some people use his stupidity to begin a finger-pointing party at hip-hop music makes no sense to me. These are two totally different contexts and while a new dialogue on hip-hop could be inspired by this, it is wrong to shift responsibility from one thing to another.

The fact that Imus was fired from both corporations only after they lost some heavy-hitting sponsors sickens me. Offering some self-righteous comments denouncing Imus, these execs claimed to “do the right thing” by dropping the show only when retaining it seemed to threaten their ability to retain the almighty advertising dollar.

Then you have the comments of some of his friends and former guests. It’s like this: You have a friend with bad gas. He farts all the time in public; it stinks, but no one calls him on it. Instead, you laugh and giggle (maybe uncomfortably), but you continue to encourage and support the fart problem. Finally, one day, the fart stinks so badly that lots of people notice it. You no longer have a choice. You jump on the bandwagon and try to distance yourself as much as possible from your friend and his fart, fearing that its stench will somehow affect your life. While many people have made convenient statements to offer a sort of obligatory disassociation concerning a personal or professional relationship with Imus, how can we ignore the fact that he just became another cog in the 24/7 news wheel?

Last week was a week of outrage. Imus’s comment was deplorable, but I question the motives of the people that fired him. I question the sincerity of the many friends and former guests that ran away from his last bad stinky fart. I question the commitment of so many of these publicly outraged people to get real and do tangible things to rid America from institutionalized racism.

And I’ll be honest here- I think it’s too bad that Imus is no longer on the air to right his wrong. Imagine if he were given his suspension followed by a sort of probationary period, a set amount of time when he was compelled to take up the cause of American racism with a fervor similar to his efforts for kids with cancer and kids with autism. The corporate execs may have silenced the public outcry, but they also silenced a loud voice in the fight to keep kids in this country healthy. I encourage you to read David Kirby's entry in today's Huffington Post because as much as I think Imus should kick his farting habit and ban his farting friends from his show, I do fear some children and their families just lost their biggest advocate.

Saturday, April 14, 2007



I’ve been mesmerized by white Americans’ responses to the Imus incident that’s unfolded these past two weeks. For the record and as I’ve indicated in the comments section of the previous entry, I think it’s good for Americans to talk about racism because it still metastasizes our country, like it or not. And albeit Imus’s comments were both racist and sexist, it’s important to note that the national debate about the remarks centers more on racist language and what it means; but I don’t want to suggest in any way that his comments weren’t also sexist.

There’s no need to rehash in detail Imus’s long-standing history of being a shock-jock, of using defamatory language, or of him being a good man because he does great things for charity. Suffice it to say, it’s unfortunate that he said what he said. I’m more interested, though, in the patterns of white peoples’ responses to this incident, which range from the truly sympathetic to the truly inquisitive to those truly in denial to those who are truly insane. I’ve found that white people—and I’m considered white myself— fall into one or more of these categories. My non-scientific, anecdotal analyses come from what I’ve read, what I’ve seen in the media, and what discussions I’ve had with friends, family, colleagues, and students.

The truly sympathetic include those folks who express—to one degree or another—a sense of perspective thinking about the targets of Imus’s remarks and about the redemption that Imus seeks. Put simply, we’ve all made mistakes, sometimes big mistakes, and many of us have been truly sorry for what we’ve done and whom we’ve hurt. Those that seem to recognize this engage in some sort of perspective thinking, demonstrating the ability to think or see things, as Atticus Finch suggests, from someone else’s shoes. It seems that more of us need to revisit the lessons of To Kill a Mockingbird.

The truly inquisitive include those folks who are raising legitimate, non-racially charged questions, like why Imus? Why now? What’s corporate America’s involvement in all this? What about the other hate-mongers out there? Why is it important to determine what’s appropriate and when? The good news for America, at least, is that it seems many folks have raised similar questions that beg a consideration of not just Imus and his misstep, but moreover, what it all represents. Questioning is good for America, it’s good for this incident, and it’s good for racism.

The truly in denial group, which seems to be overwhelmingly populated, include those folks that solely rely on shifting the focus form the incident itself to blaming rap music, popular culture, and black folks themselves. I’ve heard everything from blaming Russell Simmons to conflating the Imus incident with Nelly’s lewd videos to the inane charge that if black people address each other with certain terms that unequivocally permits everyone else outside of their racial context to use those terms AGAINST them. A BROAD, open discussion on decency in all facets of American culture is something most people, I believe, would welcome. But let’s not deny Imus’s serial bad behavior by shifting and blaming all over the place in an effort to avoid the obvious: racism is alive and well in America—just ask black folks, and the Imus incident is but a minor representation of it. Let’s be honest.

Last but not least is the truly insane group. These folks include the lunatics, supremacists, and hate mongers who unabashedly take such actions as, oh, sending the Rutgers female basketball players hate letters. Nice. These folks just don’t get it, and maybe they never will. Three cheers for Deirdre Imus who was particularly courageous and effective in her charge to these folks to send the letters to Imus rather than terrorizing these young women. Clearly, looking at the response of Mrs. Imus further indicates the seriousness of Mr. Imus’s misstep and the importance of talking about race to avoid something like this from happening again.

All this observing, pondering, and analyzing about the Imus incident has forced me to consider the following major question, for which I don’t have an answer: is it that most Americans can’t or won’t be honest—with themselves and others—when we talk about racism?

Thursday, April 12, 2007


This week I gave the entry over to my colleague GC. Her sentiments on this issue coincide with mine, and her prose is more articulate.

Don Imus made a mistake, or so we all agree. But why is he being crucified for it? What will his (likely) dismissal from the airwaves teach us? How will it serve us? What will it really accomplish? The questions this recent fury has unleashed are thought-provoking, to say the least, but they are also critical as we attempt to make clear sense of what is happening and why.

Here we have a public figure who exists in two worlds: the comedic shock jock and the political pundit. As a shock jock, Don Imus has been saying inappropriate and offensive remarks about almost every ethnic and racial group imaginable for 35 years. As a pundit, he has had political heavyweights such as Bill Clinton, John McCain, and John Kerry come in to discuss current issues. Joe Biden announced his candidacy for the presidency on Imus’s show. It’s when these two worlds crash together, as they did when he spoke a racist and sexist slur against the Rutgers Girls Basketball Team, that everything exploded.

So the fact seems to be that Chris Rock, a comedian, can make references and use language that is similar if not identical to Mr. Imus, but he will not be impugned. If we are to censor Mr. Imus, then we are saying that the use of certain words, which are becoming increasingly mainstreamed as a result of the entertainment industry, will remain the domain of those entertainers who stay within their respective boundaries and are therefore not challenged. Why not? For years the rap industry has been pumping out songs and videos that disparage women, especially black women, and where is the outcry? I am not saying what Mr. Imus said is acceptable. I am only asking why is he being held so accountable while others are not? Is it because he is a respected social critic who has influence over millions of listeners? Most of Imus’s fans are well over 30. How many fans does Ludicris have? Does the fact that his audience is 12 and 13 lessen the significance of the impact his words have in our society? We excuse him because he is a “rap artist,” but who is doing more damage to the values of this nation? Imus’s blunder is indicative of how ghetto language has become increasingly mainstreamed. It isn’t good, but it is a symptom of a much larger problem. Ghetto culture has glamorized a reductionist view of women, and it is high time we revolt against this sexism. However, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that silencing Don Imus will solve our problem. It will just reinforce the notion that while some artists have the right to use whatever terms or language they want to in the name of corporate profits, other individuals who cross that line will be publicly vilified.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Debate Camp: Early Platforms Crystalize (Part 1)

Weekly Presidential Politics - 4/11/07

Christmas comes early for political junkies like yours truly.

In what most consider an enormously premature event, the first primary debate for the 2008 Presidential election will be the Democratic debate on April 26th. The Republicans will have a debate of their own the following week on May 3rd.

Regardless of your opinion on whether or not it's too early to debate issues nine months before a vote is to be cast, the fact remains that these debates are going to happen, people are going to tune in, and candidate's platforms are going to solidify more in those 90 minutes than in any point previous to the debate. Most importantly, many first impressions will be drawn, and often times, first impressions do not go away easily. (Just look at conservative yet respected fellow guest blogger Kindel, who, despite my sincerest attempts, still doesn't like me because the first column she read of mine was my liberal diatribe from last December.)

Anyway, the first impressions are what count in these first debates. It's important that the candidate come across as clearly for something, and clearly against something, and these somethings must go beyond "President Bush is wrong and I'll do better."

The following is what I would be telling each of these candidates heading into this debate. This will be another two part column. I'll tackle the Democrats' Big Three today, and finish the Democrats next week and tackle the Republicans.

Hillary Clinton - You're going to get hit on being a Washington insider. You're going to get hit on continuing a 20-year chain of a Bush-Clinton White House. Most of all, you're going to get hit on the war. Be ready to explain your vote, because while you wax and wane depending on who you're speaking to, your chief challenger to the nomination was against it from the very beginning, and your secondary challenger is a high profile, vocal opponent. If that's the paramount issue of the Democratic constituency, and it will be, you're toast unless you can dove yourself down a bit. Stop worrying about the general election, because you might not get there.

Barack Obama - Time to shine. The Democrats who don't love you yet will love you after these debates. You and John Edwards will come away from this debate looking like brilliant, genuine leaders. Use this opportunity to make sure everyone knows what you're about. You've been glossing over the details for too long. Edwards has a detailed health care plan to insure all Americans. Health care is a big issue to Democratic voters. If the two of you break even on the war, Edwards will beat you in a Democratic Primary because he's proving to be more progressive. Additionally, until you start making poverty a central plank in your platform, Edwards will end up winning the black vote. The lesson: Speak your mind, because there are few better speakers or minds.

John Edwards - Here is your greatest strength: Democrats agree with you. Liberals agree with you. Remind them. You are the perfect representative for the fed up liberal democrats of the country, and those are some of the most passionate voters in America. Make everyone realize the 2004 Kerry-Edwards ticket should have been reversed. Also, remember that you don't have the money to compete with Clinton and Obama in Super Duper Tuesday. Unlike the sitting Senators, you cannot afford a 50-state strategy in this primary. Use a four state strategy. Convince voters in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina that you're their candidate. If they vote for you, so does most of the rest of the country on February 5th. You won't need a dime.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Outrage of the Week

Bad Behavior

We have a saying in our house: “Bad behavior is bad behavior.” We use this sentence in reference to many contexts- work, family, kids, politics, Lost… you get the point. Needless to say, when we are compelled to say it, we are not entirely pleased with the players involved. Regardless of context, there is something a bit punitive in its connotation, something almost patronizing.

Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Syria has been favorite topic for the talking heads of both radio and TV. Apparently, Number Two (Dick Cheney) did not appreciate the journey of Number Three, describing her actions (and words, more accurately) as “bad behavior.” Far be it from me to get involved in a family squabble; birth order (I mean hierarchy) can be very important. But was it really necessary for Dick to use the words “bad behavior?” I know he is a big quail (I mean kahuna- sorry for the faulty Darth Cheney animal reference), but Nancy is the Speaker- also a big kahuna the last time I checked. Was it really necessary for him to be so condescending? Though it's a challenge, I will not even entertain the temptation to list a fraction of the bad behavior that the current administration has displayed.

ADDENDUM: Get yourselves to Drinking Liberally to get even more outraged!!!!!

Rage-o-meter: 5

Sunday, April 08, 2007



If you thought Captain Lieberman was getting some sort of reality check about his leviathan Iraq, think again. Apparently, Captain Lieberman is partaking in the Pelosi bitch-hunt because obviously she closely read the report by the Iraq Study Group, which calls for engaging other Middle East countries, and he didn't; there's a shocker. In this clip provided by Crooks & Liars, it's Arlen Specter, a Republican, who defends Pelosi; it's Captain Lieberman who trashes her efforts of diplomacy in yet another transparent plug to promote the Bush doctrine.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Of Vice and Men

There was a disturbance in the force this week. At first I thought it was the temperature fluctuating. Then I thought it was the anxiety that comes with those family gatherings around the holidays. I considered other possible disruptive sources, including: tax time, college acceptance/rejection/realization—you pick, or Keith Richards claiming—yes, folks—that he snorted his father’s remains while indulging in some blow; gives new meaning to “Satisfaction,” huh? Something was definitely in the air; we know IT could've been in the blow.

For me it started Monday. I woke with a migraine, called out sick to work, only to discover that Captain Lieberman, formerly Oedipus Lieberman, formerly Joseph Lieberman, formerly a Democrat, now an “independent,” ever threatening to be…a Republican, still a supporter of Chimpy, docked himself in my area—a disturbance, indeed—for a photo-op with Congressman Courtney at the Pine Point School in Stonington. Hence, I self-diagnosed why I felt like someone put a chainsaw in my head and immediately sensed that I had a “bad feeling” about all of this.

The disturbance only got better or worse—you decide. Speaking of deciding, out came the manly “decider” to castigate the Democratic-controlled congress, of which Republicans are obviously members, for going on…vacation. This is beautiful coming from a man who has spent more than a year of his presidency on…vacation. Perhaps Chimpy was fantasizing about blow before that press conference. Who knows? But the decider did seem crazier than ever; let’s wait and see if he starts frantically itching his nose.

Of course, with Fredo’s forthcoming “whack,” with The Big K getting mobbed by students at American University— for his bullshit, not for his rap gig, and with the mainstream “liberal” media doing a bitch-hunt over Speaker Pelosi’s trip to the Middle East while conveniently downplaying she was part of a delegation including Republicans and completely neglecting the Republican one there recently, Chimpy did seem off his axis with all these disturbances in his life.

Thus Darth Cheney came out of his pod to send shockwaves throughout the galaxy. And Darth didn’t disappoint. First target: Pelosi. Five Deferment Dick—a real American man—spoke to anal cyst Rush Limpfart—another man’s man—to denounce Pelosi and to suggest that the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were, get this, “Stalinist,” for not supporting Sam Fox, a known contributor to the now debunked Swift Boat Veterans that shamelessly went after Senator John Kerry, someone who actually DID SERVE in Vietnam. Definitely disturbing.

But Darth Dick’s craziness didn’t stop there; was he, too, having blow-like fantasies? Next target: the American public. Darth went on to claim, once again, that there were links between Iraq and Al-Qaeda that we all now know were bogus. Cheney’s blatant posturing prefaced yet another man’s crusade to prove that he’s a man’s man: porn-star named Mitt Romney tried to convince us—and the conservative Ted Nugent base—that he’s a real hunter, a hardcore “rabbit” gunslinger who just proudly joined the NRA…last year. Come away from the dark side of the force, Mitt: didn’t you read the headlines that you outperformed your Republican challengers in fundraising?

In this fake era overpopulated with fake men over-determined to validate their fake manliness, when an aging rock star’s initial claim (possibly a fake one) that he snorted his father’s ashes along with cocaine seems more real and oddly genuine, America, we don’t have a disturbance, we have a serious problem.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


My Mother the Socialist

My family is sitting in the kitchen, eating warm chocolate chip cookies, and discussing health care. My sister (MD) is a bit of a cynic, as she sees the abuse of Medicaid on a daily basis, with patients coming into the emergency room by ambulance for their eczema because it doesn't cost them a dime. My mother, who in a house of staunch Republicans has blossomed overnight into a bleeding heart socialist, sympathizes with a group of women who were recently featured in an April 4th
article of The Day; these women did not receive medical care until the late stages of cancer because they couldn't afford a doctor's appointment. A horrible situation, of course, but would it really be fixed by universal health care? My mother thinks so.

Universal health care takes away a person's responsibility for his or her own health. By handing out "free health care," people become lazy. For example...why should one exercise and eat better to improve his cholesterol, when he can take a pill, after all it's cheaper than a gym membership if someone has Medicaid. Why should one quit smoking their 2 packs/day, which cost roughly $10/day when medicine is so advance, that they can receive a quadruple bypass at age 40, paid by us, the U.S. tax payers. Is money really the problem? Why is it that the U.S. spends more than any other country in the world on health care, yet we are nowhere near the top of the list of "healthiest countries" (World Health Organization statistics)? Is it perhaps the American sense of freedom to do whatever "feels good" combined with the attitude that "someone else is to blame" for our problems? With all the medical advances in recent years, people can receive medical attention and care for almost any infirmity. Should people assume that an 87 year old with severe medical issues should receive major surgery? If we did adopt a system of universal health care, should I have to pay someone else's medical bill? While universal health care is not in itself does not seem like it would really achieve its goals.

My mother with a grin just shouted up the stairs to my father, who is busy fixing a 30 year old drier with a coat hanger and duct tape, "You didn't raise just a pair of staunch Republicans, you raised cold hearted bastards." Got to love family.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

GOP's JFK?: Why Romney Might Win

Weekly Presidential Politics - 4/4/07

Of the six major announced candidates (Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Giuliani, McCain, and Romney) in the race for the 2008 White House, it has seemed for some time that Romney was the least renowned. It cannot be stated strongly enough: Mitt Romney is a legitimate candidate. Do not be surprised if he is accepting the GOP's nomination at next year's Republican convention.

Here is a list of reasons as to why Mitt Romney's campaign could do very well.

1. Money. Not only does Romney, as a successful former business executive, have a large amount of personal capital, but he has two key fundraising strengths. First, he has a plethora of business contacts from his work in the private sector. Second, the two frontrunners for the Republican Party raise red flags with the conservative base. Mitt Romney's conservative platform is the right wing's best bet to get one of their own elected. Therefore, a solid chunk of conservative donors are rushing to Romney, the nearest realistic conservative winner. (Brownback and Huckabee? Please.)

The proof of Romney's fundraising capabilities was evident in the recent first quarter disclosures. Romney shattered Republican fundraising records.

2. Process of Elimination. Giuliani and McCain have other distinct disadvantages. The leader in the polls, Rudy Giuliani, is unlikely to survive the meticulous vetting process of the Republican Primary cycle. Sooner or later, his liberal stances on abortion, gay marriage, and gun control will take a chunk out of his polling numbers. Moreover, the inevitable "family values" issues that motivate so many voters will submarine his chances. He's had two messy divorces and his son doesn't speak with him.

McCain is like a hummer with its back wheels spinning in mud. This campaign has the potential to be a wrecking machine, but it just can't seem to get going. The Iraq issue has been devastating, holding a usually terrific raiser of funds like McCain to third place in the Money Primary.

3. History. Not since Kennedy in 1960 has there been a Senator elected President. The rest have been Vice-Presidents (Bush I, Nixon, Johnson), and governors (strong recent trend of Bush II, Clinton, Reagan, Carter). Of the Big Six candidates, three (Clinton, Obama, and McCain) are sitting Senators. John Edwards is a former Senator. Rudy Giuliani's highest office was mayor, a position that never vaulted anyone to the Presidency. That leaves Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

4. The Romney's look the part. Have you seen this family? They are good looking, athletic, great smiles, photogenic, and - tragically relevant - they’re white. Not since the Kennedy's has there been such a made-for-magazine-covers family. And with Giuliani toting his family values baggage, and the Clintons having their obvious history, and McCain being a divorcee himself who cheated on an ailing spouse, and Obama's family not looking like any family in Presidential history, that leaves only Romney and Edwards.

5. Mormonism can be worked around. The first thirty-three men to hold the office of President were all Protestants. Then came JFK (theme?). In September 1960, Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy delivered a speech where he defended his Catholicism as a personal choice that he would not push on the American people. Read the speech, it's brilliant. Now, 48 years later, Mitt Romney, the politician from Massachusetts, can make similar overtures in regards to his Mormonism.

Am I saying he’s going to win? No. I’m still leaning towards McCain, but would not be surprised by a Romney victory. It's a legitimate three-way race in both parties. That’s what makes this so fun!

Addendum: Extended this piece over at my blog, Presidential Politics for America.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Outrage of the Week

Connect the Dots

Our 3½ year old has accumulated quite a few coloring/activity books over the years. Now that he can count, a once overlooked activity, Connect the Dots, provides some amusement for him. Each dot is assigned a number so that if you follow the chronological order of dots you have a picture. It’s a seemingly rudimentary exercise, but one must wonder: are Americans connecting the dots when they consider the aftermath of this era of war?

We need not be surprised (though we are shocked) at the atrocities witnessed at the Walter Reed Medical Center. We need not be surprised that despite the attempts by some in Congress, the surge continues in Iraq. Under the current administration, ugly truths such as these surface regularly. Soldiers are deprived of their full leave to keep troop levels high; this is a military strategy, and as a civilian, I certainly will not be the one to question it. When I connect the dots, however, I do become concerned.

Connecting the dots makes me worry about the soldier that is finally done with his or her tour, the soldier that earns a few weeks of leave, the soldier with some coveted “down time.” What are we doing to assist the soldier with post-traumatic stress? Are our services adequate? Are our services specialized enough to deal with unique forms of PTSD? An article featured in the New York Times Magazine last month, “The Women's War” would suggest that, at least in some respects, our government could be doing a much better job caring for the mental well-being of our returning soldiers.

On Saturday evening, NPR's Debbie Elliott interviewed a Vietnam veteran from the Army’s First Cavalry Division. Listening to his story, we learn that a visit with his division in Iraq provided him with some “closure” to his own war experiences. He does not neglect to include some information about the stress that the American soldier in Iraq experiences daily. He even intimates that the experience of the Iraq War soldier is far more stressful than that of the Vietnam War soldier. This belief… coming from a veteran that has lived with PTSD for over 40 years.

The facts may not come to us in chronological order; however, if we do take the time to connect the dots, the picture is crystal clear.

Rage-o-meter: 10