Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Holt" the Hacking


While some of us resisted the recent fake news of Lindsay and the Astronauts, Starzilla’s gastric bypass surgery, and the really, really big news of Nicole Skinny being four months pregnant, we’ve tried to focus our minds on the real news that remains buried beneath the bull.

Yesterday, the mainstream media gave little attention to how researches at the University of California were able to hack into three electronic voting systems just as easily as Attorney Goneliar lies about his lies. Diebold anyone? Clearly, Starzilla coming back from the tabloid dead was far more important; after all, she does look freakier than Fred Thompson.

As The New York Times reports today, Congressman Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, has sponsored a bill to help eliminate the many, many problems associated with electronic voting, including the strong possibility of electronic tampering during the 2008 elections; as we all know, desperate chimpletons do desperate things. According to the Holt bill, all electronic votes cast in a federal election MUST have a paper record and RANDOM audits would be conducted for the sake of quality—non Chimpy—control. Let’s hope this bill hits the House floor for a vote to “holt” the hacking.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Hacking & Voting


This bit of news is quite interesting; you're going to want to read all about it. Researches at the University of California have been able to hack into three electronic voting systems, including our all time favorite, Diebold, to tamper with votes. That's nice. I guess "caging" is no longer as hip as the voter suppressors thought it would be. Why bother with making voters wait in line for hours on end in major urban districts in this technologically advanced age. Just click the mouse. Rigged elections coming to a 2008 voting experience near you.

Sunday, July 29, 2007



As the days of Alberto Goneliar run short, we creep closer to a deadline in September: September 15, the day when General David Petraeus reportedly delivers his assessment on the surge to Chimpy, or better yet, he delivers Chimpy’s assessment to the American people. As Frank Rich has beautifully noted in today’s column, “Who Really Took Over During That Colonoscopy,” Chimpy’s War of Error’s latest missionary man, Petraeus, is not the savior Chimpy and the hawks would like him to be, regardless of their rock star mantra of Petraeus, Petraeus, please SAVE US!!!! You can almost imagine Senators Lindsey Graham and Captain LIEberman clapping their hands, doing a jig and singing a song, cheering Chimpy & Petraeus along.

One would think that the Chimpletons would pick a day different than the 15th and a month different than September. We all know that 15 recalls the tragic end of Shakespeare’s obdurate, isolated character Caesar, and we Americans certainly know that September reverberates with the haunting reminders of 9/11 and the wake of Katrina, two events that rate rather high on the index of recent tragedies. But in Bush’s world, in Bush’s brain, neither fact nor fiction matter; only what the decider says does. Beware of the "ides"* of September.

*Note: Yes, I'm well aware that "ides" refers to the 15th of March, May, July and October; it is actually the 13th in other months. I just "decided" to exercise some creativity to "catapult the propaganda."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Different World

It seems that a lot of politicians are seeking out new ways to connect to a younger, more technologically savvy generation of voters. This demographic is often regarded as apathetic, lazy and wholly self-involved. How does one approach such a population? Appeal to their intellect? Engage in real (as in, not just photo-op) conversations and offer them representation? No, just have them submit questions they record on their webcams!

As I have previously stated, I don't think ring tones and YouTube are really effective ways to get the younger, Wi-Fi enabled voting pool to the polls. Granted, not all of the participants who submitted questions for the candidates were necessarily young, but this YouTube debate is just one of many (some might say misguided) attempts to shake up the old, more traditional campaigning strategies. But this is not what America's youth needs. We need better education to enable us to make informed decisions and participate in debates and elections with a satisfactory knowledge of what the hell is going on. We need to know what these people stand for, not who has the best Myspace layout.

Is any of this even working? I'm skeptical. After all, the number of individuals who submitted self-recorded questions for the individuals vying to become the next President of the United States was around 3,000. When Sean "Diddy" Combs took to the same demographic and asked them to submit an application using YouTube so he could find his next assistant, he found himself with over 10,000 to choose from. Something just seems off, don't you think?

This current campaign for the White House is leaving me with the distinct feeling that my intelligence is being insulted. But, then again, I guess that's normal.

Lindsay and the Astronauts

Lindsay and the Astronauts

No, this is not the name of a new Indie band. Lindsay and the Astronauts—it does remind one of Josie and the Pussycats, doesn’t it? No, this is the state of the mainstream media in America this week. For rather than emphasize the lies, lies, lies, and more lies of Attorney Liar, Alberto Gonzales, who can’t remember the bull he said the night before, the mainstream media went nuts for Lindsay Lohan and the drunk Astronauts this week. No wonder why so many Americans are space cadets. The horror, the horror of the Pat Tillman case? What’s that?

But have no fear because the only thing we have to fear is the mainstream media itself. Just when we thought we could seek refuge from our narrative addiction to Nation Gone Wild, with the dramatis personae of those multi-talented girls gone wild, Nicole Skinny & Britney Scissorhands resurrect from the media dead with a vengeance. Yeah, Nicole’s planning to bitch slap Paris with her own version of “I Need Attention in Jail House Rock,” and Britney’s bodyguard really bitch-slapped the paparazzi in Vegas. At least the media has something else to focus on other than Senator Clinton’s cleavage. Honestly.

So as our brave soldiers suffer terribly in Iraq, as Osama-Has-Not-Been-Found tailgates on the border of AfGONEistan and Pakistan, as our government—get a load of this one—prepares for an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a country that just so happens to have a nice representation of insurgents in Iraq, our mainstream media just gets its "skyrocket in flight...afternoon delight" form Lindsay and the Astronauts.

NOTE: This entry was inspired by the great Randi Rhodes whose humorous opening to her show yesterday was about Lindsay and the Astronauts.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Clinton vs. Obama: Round 1

Clinton vs. Obama: Round 1

On Furball tonight, there was a knock-down, verbal thrust and parry between Clintonista, Howard Wolfson, and Obama-not-the-Mama media director, David Axelrod. Imagine that: for just that segment of time, Tweety got over his Republican fixation to have two, count them, two top Democratic strategists on the same, f*cking time? Let's not get too idealistic: we all know that Tweety will do anything to feed his sick and twisted Hillary-in-leather fantasy.

Anyway, the representatives were there to defend their candidates in the wake of the YouTube debate in which Hillraiser scudded Obama by calling him "irresponsible" and "naive" on agreeing to meet with lunatic leaders like Castro and Chavez. Shit, we would should be more worried about the f*ck-nuts running this country rather than the woobies running others, don't you think?

Wolfson, who resembles an extra from Goodfellas, Casino, The Departed or all the aforementioned, appeared calm, cool, and homicidal. Axelrod, in contrast, looked disheveled, dirty--quite frankly, and in desperate need of a dose of Ritalin to sit still in his chair for a nano-second or two of the segment. Both responded to Tweety. Both indulged Tweety. Both allowed Tweety do what he does best--start a fight with everybody except the mountain troll in leather, Mannn Coulter; he seems to allow that hermaphroditic creature to do whatever and say whatever "it" wants--not that there's anything wrong with hermaphrodites.

In short, Wolfson annihilated, gun-down, nuked the shit out of Axelrod and the Obama team. The whole time, Axelrod seemed off his axle, speechless, baffled, and generally lost. And I sort of felt sorry for him and for Obama. Not good.

For this round 1, Team Clinton won.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Summer Series - John Edwards

(Blogger's note: Note to those who missed it - last week I took a break from presidential politics to count down the Top 25 Greatest Americans in History.)

Weekly Presidential Politics - 7/25/07

The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series

John Edwards

"This is the cause of my life," said John Edwards. "When I die, if I've done something serious to help eradicate poverty, I'll die a happy man." Someone forgot to tell him poor people don't vote.

"(We can do what it takes) to make it right... and actually end poverty in America within the next 30 years." Hey, John Kennedy's dead. Politicians don't make promises like that anymore.

John Edwards is an idealist, and that will probably cost him the election. He's addressed that poverty is not a "vote-winning issue," but rather a "moral issue" facing America.

Talk about a Democrat.

So is he a single issue voter? No. He came out swinging on Monday's CNN/Youtube debate with an issue that is as esoteric as it is crucial in politics. "I think the people who are powerful in Washington -- big insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies -- they are not going to negotiate. They are not going to give away their power. The only way that they are going to give away their power is if we take it away from them. And I have been standing up to these people my entire life. I have been fighting them my entire life in court rooms -- and beating them."

The guy is as liberal of a candidate as there is in this 2008 race, save the unrealistic Dennis Kucinich candidacy. He was the first to come out with a detailed universal health care plan, but since he came out with it so early (Feb 5), Democratic voters have already forgotten about it. He's been the most radical on the war on terror, specifically saying that it's a "bumper sticker slogan," used to "bludgeon political opponents" outlining the old Republican tactic that says if you were against the war, you were un-American. (I say "old" Republican tactic because many Republicans are backing off their formerly patriotic position.) It's what all candidates want to say, but it wasn't politically wise. He said it anyway. He also blasted the Fox News Channel as a right wing agent, and was the first to pull out of the Fox News debate in Nevada. The rest of the candidates followed.

Yet the liberal Democrat from the south, who doubles as the least unalluring candidates to the Republican base in a general election, stays at a distant third in the polls.

He has two options moving forth, as Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been solidifying their status as frontrunners in the Democratic nomination process.
1. Shake it up, take swings at Obama and/or Clinton. (Not advisable.)
2. Sit tight, let Clinton and Obama attack each other, win Iowa, ride the momentum, and always be there as the alternative to the top 2.

Pay attention to the Edwards' campaign strategy. He's not out of this and he's the only one with the potential to make a run at the top tier fundraisers. How long can he sit still? We'll see.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Broken Record


Like Jiminy Cricket, I hade high hopes: I thought he would chill after the colonoscopy. An epiphany? A break-through? A more satisfying bowel movement? Nope, not a chance. Today, Chimpy came back with a vengeance. For he played the same ol’ tune in a speech that centered on, you guessed it: terroism, al-Qaida, and Iraq.

He wants us to know that al-Qaida is a threat. Really? This is why, according to simian man, we invaded Iraq in the first place. And the WMDs? He urges us to believe that there are links between al-Qaida and Iraq—no shit, considering he has created a breeding nest for terrorists in the Middle East. Yo, haven't we heard this beat before? Lastly, all of his critics are just wrong, wrong, wrong. Could he be teething? Constipated? Lactose intolerant? Scared as hell of the return of the two Coreys? Whatever the cause, the temper tantrums are just too freaking much lately.

So there you have it: No change after the colonoscopy. Just more of Bush's broken record and his dreadful tunes on the war on terror.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Who won the Democratic debate?

Who won the Democratic debate?

CNN & YOUTUBE, of course. Just as the Town Hall format made a splash during the ’92 election season, this YOUTUBE video screen approach established a new, fresh format.

There was an authenticity to this debate. Whether it was the lesbian couple asking a question about gay marriage, a saddened mother whose son was going on a second tour of duty asking about Iraq, or the non-descript Americans deeply troubled by our healthcare system asking about the healthcare they are NOT receiving, the questioners themselves were more preferable than Tweety Matthews or Foxy Blizter.

Anderson Cooper was also effective as a moderator, often reminding the candidates to AQA—answer the question asked—and to stick to their allotted time.

The debate did have its humorous moments. Joe Biden’s comment about Borg--love the guy-- Kucinich’s wife takes the cake, Gravel's recognition that time was NOT on his side was a scream, Edwards’ “negative” offering about Hill’s salmon-colored coat abounded with a metrosexual irony; and Obama kept it real when he pointed out that porn-star named, slick-flopper Mitt Romney has money, money, monaaaaaaaaay.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Meanwhile, in AfGONEistan

Meanwhile, in AfGONEistan*

Things are only getting worse. The Taliban has re-emerged big time. They are not only tailgating on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, pledging to the Osama Not Been Found terrorist fraternity club, they are also alive, killing, and kidnapping inside Afghanistan as well. So much for American-backed governments during Bush’s War on Terror. Do yourself a favor and check out David Reiff’s great piece “Policing Terrorism" in The New York Times Magazine to see why Bush has been wrong and John Kerry was right—well, you know--on dealing with terrorism.

Just this week, the Taliban kidnapped and killed a German. They also kidnapped a group of South Korean Missionaries, prompting South Korea to pull out the few soldiers that contributed to Chimpy’s better-known, King Kong fantasy, “The Coalition of the Willing.” And speaking of fantasies and delusions, the least said about the record-breaking Afghanistan poppy trade the better. Perhaps things will change after Chimpy had his colonoscopy and five deferment Dick was President for a day--NOT!

*For more about AfGONEistan and the world of Chimpy and some laughs, check out Reconstitution 2.0.

Coin Toss Politics

The November ‘06 elections were exciting for most Dems across the country. In Connecticut, there was a certain anxious electricity in the air in the months preceding the elections. I remember pounding the pavement in New London for Joe Courtney on a hot summer day; in the meeting room prior to the Walk for Labor, there was a sense that something was imminent, that this was a good year for the Dems. November ‘06 was a safe topic to discuss; however, the August primary had many Dems on eggshells for a variety of reasons. While many were vocal in their support of Courtney over Simmons, sometimes people were much less likely to conjure up a conversation about Ned Lamont and Captain Lieberman. On this subject, feelings were militant on both sides with friends and family members sharply divided in their opinions. Here was an ugly Dem vs. Dem confrontation.

On the local level, another huge Dem vs. Dem showdown occurred in the town of Groton. Elissa Wright and Rita Schmidt were the front runners for the state representative seat in district 41. The race was tight; both women were political heavy hitters. The tallied results showed a one vote discrepancy in favor of Schmidt, and the recount ensued. The recount resulted in a tie due to an absentee ballot. Wright won the primary in the coin toss and currently serves as the district 41 representative.

This morning's
New London Day paper reveals some key information about this absentee ballot. A summer resident of Groton Long Point from Weston, MA cast the absentee ballot in the Groton primary. She also votes in her other town of residence. The details can be found in The Day’s article, but in short, they do seem to suggest that the ballot was not rightly cast in the first place.

I voted for another candidate in that primary, but I do recall the outrage of the locals over the whole coin toss idea. While it was the rule, it seemed arbitrary and ridiculous. It even made national headlines and the candidates had their 5 minutes of fame in the national spotlight on some cable news networks. At best, our elections are flawed. This is just one example of an “irregularity” that swayed results in a final, definitive way.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Different World: Spoilers!

There are a lot of things I just don't understand about American culture. Crocs? Not looking good, my friends. But something that miffs me more than even bad shoe phenomenons is the obsession Americans seem to have with spoilers.

The LOST season finale was ruined for me three days before it aired by some jackass on the subway in Boston. The only thing that surprised me about (SPOILER ALERT!) Walt's return was the puberty that had happened since he escaped from the island at the end of the second season. Remember that time Rosie O'Donnell gave away the twist to Fight Club on her talk show? Edward Norton and I were not on the same page when he finally put it all together. As I appreciate any opportunity to feel that I'm on the same page with Ed Norton, I was not impressed. There are websites and message boards dedicated to getting the inside scoop on what's going on in movies, television and books before they air or premiere or sell, and being the first person to know and tell these facts to unsuspecting and often unwilling bystanders is apparently some sort of adrenaline rush to a lot of sad little people.

Case in point - the last installment of Harry Potter. The release date is midnight, July 21st. However, sometime early Wednesday morning, it showed up on the internet. Now, if you want to know what happens and you choose to seek out these spoilers, I can't stop you. But why can't you just keep it to yourself!?

The New York Times published a book review that included the (unconfirmed, but most likely true) information provided by those who put the illegally obtained book on the internet. One would think, as many unsuspecting readers did, that such a reputable news source would have the decency and integrity to hold off until the book is released to publish a news story that includes huge plot points. But alas, they just had to be first, I guess. Maybe that's what it is about spoilers and America - we just need to win.

Thankfully, I have avoided the internet, the newspaper, and the radio in an attempt to remain spoiler free, and thus far I have been successful. I will not be in attendance at the midnight release party, as at the release of the sixth book, a group of boys at the front of the line received their books, read the last few pages and shouted out what happened to a line full of costumed fans. Way to go, fellas. You did it.

Doesn't anyone like surprises anymore?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Scary Things

Scary Things

We should’ve known. After all, the summer blockbuster season is upon us. The last installment in the Harry Potter epic will be out on Saturday. And Hey Paula seems to be the reality TV hit of the season. Of course, the Chimpy political machine must make its presence known.

The resurrection of The Prince of Darkness, Bob Novak, should’ve clued us in. With Darth Novak’s ceremonious return from a self-induced witness protection gig from the Plame headline, we have the latest wave of Chimpy & Co.’s reign of terror. We should all listen to our gut feelings about what this means.

What’s different with this wave, though, is that the Chimpy Storytelling department shows a real sloppiness with their use of fear, and, alas, it may be finally backfiring on them. Let’s start with the epicenter of much terror, Iraq, where real terrorism seems to be multiplying faster than American Idol goes into more syndication. Dispatching fear queen, counterterrorism adviser Frances Townsend, the administration invoked al-Qaida this week as much as Bravo TV has been promoting Hey Paula. Poor Paula: now she has to compete with Osama-Not-Been-Found for ratings. The subtext of what Townsend broadcast to us—to no surprise—is that the same group the administration claims to have reduced and restricted in its war on terror is stronger than ever. There’s a shocker. However, somebody in the storytelling department didn’t get the story right and may need a refresher of Abul’s “Straight Up.” Because now, in so many words, they are admitting that al-Qaida may come here because we aren’t containing them over there—yet another indication that things in Iraq aren’t as good as pajama-party boy Captain Lieberman and company would like you to think.

The Townsend episode din’t get the fear traction Chimpy wanted, even with the MSM downplaying the Democratic initiated all-nighter on Iraq in the Senate as mere “political theater.” For one would only have to read beyond the Townsend narrative to learn that others in Chimpy’s corner are struggling with assessing Iraq as nice and cute like Paula assesses a tone-deaf contestant on American Idol. For example today, Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, gave a rather grim assessment of things to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, attempting to move the goal posts yet again. Crocker did mention, though, that “fear” pervades Iraq in all aspects, which must’ve made the Chimper proud.

Also riding the fear wave to make Chimpy proud was none other than porn-star-named Mitt Romney. Rather than tackle Iraq, a real scary thing, slick Mitt attacked Barack Obama who stated that kindergarten students ought to be taught the difference between a good touch and a bad touch in an effort to protect them from pedophiles. Jumping on his surfboard to ride the fear wave of the reactionary right, slick Mitt—who approved of age appropriate sex education as governor—made age appropriate instruction for small children to protect them from scary people...the scariest thing of all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Summer Series - Barack Obama

(Blogger's note: After checking out this website, head on over to mine where all this week I am counting down the Top 25 Greatest Americans.)

Weekly Presidential Politics - 7/18/07

The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series

Barack Obama

The man is setting records. Setting records is also known as being the first to do something. Now can he be the first non-white to ever be President? What a record that would be.

Since even before he announced he was running for President, Barack Obama has made heads turn. He's as charismatic and electric of a candidate that there is in the race to the 2008 White House. His speeches are inspirational. But would that translate?

The numbers started rolling in. The potential of the Obama candidacy was realized and recognized after the second quarter fiscal numbers were released. He set the all time presidential fundraising record, in the process edging out Clinton who was surely supposed to be the top fundraiser. Equally important, Obama also broke the record for most donors in a quarter with over 250,000.

Despite the positive revelations, the Obama campaign has yet to see a turn in the polls. After the first quarter, he made a strong run at Clinton in the national polls, but never came within the margin of error. Since then, he hasn't been able to close the gap, and has lost a few points, placing him down at least 10 points in almost all national polls. Obama lost his momentum.

The reason Obama lost his momentum is the reason it will be most difficult for him to win the nomination. At the debates, Obama does not seem nearly as competent as Clinton. That's the word, too - competent. He's lackluster, shifty, and surprisingly inarticulate. Senators Clinton, Dodd, and Biden all sound much better equipped to be commander-in-chief. Senator Clinton especially has done a terrific job at the debates, making it difficult for Obama or John Edwards to cut into her lead in the national polls.

While Obama's base is as passionate as any, it might not be enough. The Obama supporters are fervent. They love their guy as much as any supporters love their candidate. However, you could say the same about Star Trek fans and their (our) beloved television show, and Star Trek didn't exactly win sweeps week.

Can Senator Obama steal away enough voters from those who currently support Senator Clinton? It'll be difficult. Obama, Clinton, and Edwards seem to be strong in the same demographics - namely minorities and the poor. Obama's skin color is undeniably a factor. Hillary Clinton's husband is overwhelmingly popular with the black community. John Edwards had made poverty the core issue of his since 2004.

Therefore, Obama will not be able to win the black vote just because he's black. In past years, a legitimate black candidate would not need to spend a dime in impoverished areas or other areas with a high level of minorities. The candidate could then reallocate those resources. But not this year. He actually has to concentrate on the poor and minorities just like the white woman and the white man he's running against.

Undeterred, Obama will do well. He appeals to voters of all races and incomes. If he wants to cut into Clinton's lead, though, he needs to shake things up. Look for a swing at Hillary in the next couple months... and not just one of these several jabs he's thrown. I'm talking about a right hook, which will undoubtedly be returned by the Clinton camp.

And that's when the fun begins.

Monday, July 16, 2007

American Confessions

American Confessions

OK, so I just caught Senator Vitter’s DC Madam Press Conference on Spitball. It was a spectacular affair. There with his wife, who was interestingly clad in what seemed to be a leopard print dress, the disgraced Senator confessed to his sins, admitted in so many words that what he did was hugely embarrassing, and then allowed the wife to talk. Wifey, a.k.a. Wendy Vitter, a.k.a. "I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary,” who once stood proud criticizing the sins of Billy Clinton, declared that this was a deeply private matter between her and husband. The lady did protest too much, methinks.

Look, I like American confessions. I love the confessional poetry of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Langston Hughes. I loved the times when, bada bing, Tony Soprano strangely confessed his troubles to Dr. Melfi. And I truly appreciated it when certain senators in the Democratic Party admitted to making the wrong choice when they voted to authorize Chimpy to go to war in Iraq.

Quite frankly, I don’t care what people do in their private lives, including Senator Vitter and his sexcapades with prostitutes. Maybe he and his party should think twice before throwing stones…in a madam’s house. The war in Iraq and the plights of our troops are far more important. That we can’t get the Iraq War cheerleaders to engage in some American confessions of their own is far more of a shame than what or whom Senator Vitter did in his private life.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Shadows of Doubt


My father went to Vietnam. After being there during the tumult in ’68, he was a real fortunate son who came home in ’69. My father had few if any visible injuries; the psychological scars, though, are legible to my family and me to this day, some 38 years after his return. Make no mistake about it, we ARE VERY GRATEFUL for his duty and his safe return, and after reading The Day’s “Coming Home Wounded,” courtesy of the Associated Press, sometimes I don’t think we know how grateful we are. In short, the human price for war manifests itself in many different forms.

As the blogger at Drinking Liberally in Milford has duly noted this week, the troops recognize the failure of this war more so now than ever. They want and deserve to come home especially now that it’s become apparent that all benchmarks, reports, and first-hand accounts suggest Iraq spirals in failure.

Some officials are trying to do something about the war aside from just debating and spinning. Thanks to Senator Jim Webb’s proposed legislation, if soldiers were to be re-deployed, they at least deserve a well-earned rest. But no thanks to certain hawks, including Insane in the Membrane Captain Lieberman, that legislation never came to pass.

It seems that the troops don’t believe in the mission any more. It seems that their shadows of doubt arise from authentic experience, not press room spin. It seems that they are grounded in reality whereas Chimpy and toddler company continue in their arrested development of temper tantrums and ego-mania. It seems we need to listen to the soldiers’ misgivings, for they are, after all, on the front line.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Picture This

I stopped by one of my usual haunts--The Huffington Post--and read Jeffrey Feldman's blog, "The Picture the GOP Wants to Hide." That led me to one of my favorite sites--where you can catch Feldman on a regular basis, Frameshop, which has the picture and story in question. Fascinating, huh? Hmm...I wonder whether or not the mainstream media will pick up this story.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Report Card Iraq: The D- Average

Report Card Iraq: The D- Average

We all know that grade inflation plagues the American education system, from top to bottom. Yes, folks, they inflate grades and student progress everywhere from the hallowed halls of Yale to the colorful romper-rooms of a kindergarten near you. This is why it has come to no surprise that the Bush administration is obviously inflating the “grades” on the progress report in Iraq.

As a trained secondary and college level educator, let me break it down for you: the report claims that 8 benchmarks have been assessed with a “satisfactory” mark; 8 benchmarks have been met with an “unsatisfactory” mark; and 2 benchmarks have been marked with a mix—whatever the hell that exactly means—of “satisfactory” and “unsatisfactory” assessment. Reminder: these marks are NOT on our troops and their incredible performance, dedication, and endurance. No—these marks are on the American-backed government. And folks, they aren’t good. It’s real simple: if you have 8 passing marks + 8 failing marks + 2 mixed marks that equals at BEST a D- average. We all know what a D- average means in grade inflated America: a glorified failure.

POST SCRIPT: The Los Angeles Times reports that the grade is more like a 50. Grade inflation--I know, I know...I'm guilty as charged.

A Different World

Your formal education about the United States begins in elementary school, when you learn that the country was established through a series of meetings in which Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and some guy named John Hancock whipped up a few documents we hold near and dear today. Well, some of us do. Presently elected officials excluded, obviously.

Then, the power of the government was split into three branches and all was well in the (re: our) world. Abe freed the slaves out of the goodness of his heart, FDR gave us a New Deal and JFK was an all around good guy. The history of the US is taught in a lot of schools in fast forward and in the lower grade levels, through a giant pair of rose colored glasses. Students are offered a glimpse into the past with such a spin on the events that you'd think Elliot Mintz was the PR rep. This steam engine approach to US History is often necessary to cover the basics, which is why there are Civics classes to teach kids about the structure of government and to give them a thorough understanding about politics, right?


One class dedicated to American government once the students are already in high school is not sufficient. High school history courses, in my experience, operate on the assumption that the students already have a general understanding of how the government works. In truth, most don't. They can (maybe) name the branches of government, but don't expect them to be able to answer any questions about the electoral college. Political conversations are discouraged in many classrooms, and this, partnered with a lack of knowledge or interest, leads to apathy in regards to politics in the youth of this country. Barack Obama, we don't need your campaign ring tones, we need to be better equipped to make educated decisions and participate in discussions about policy and social issues. To do that, we need a more concrete understanding of the basics, which should be taught to children earlier and in a more consistent manner.

With the political landscape as it is now, the school systems are doing a disservice to the young adults they release into the world by not making education about the American government a top priority.

Thursday, July 12, 2007



Geeze, what’s with all the temper tantrums lately? I mean, I kind of expect it from ol’ Chimpy; his facial expressions as of late look like a lolli-poopy fell out of his diaper or something. But now his entire posse seems to be reverting to their toddler years, holding their breaths, refusing to talk, mimicking—nah, nah, nana nah the free press, turning blue in the face, or kicking and screaming on the floor just to piss everybody off.

Chimpy, whom I’m convinced has yet to advance developmentally beyond a six year old, still believes he’s right and the world’s wrong with respect to his Iraq policy. Just listen to his recent speeches, which amount to a Freudian re-enactment of a child stuck in a negative attention-getting narcissism stage. One would think by now Chimpy would break free from his failed vision, but NO, NO, NO!

Of course bomb, bomb McCainy doesn’t help. He took to the senate floor today to rip apart a New York Times editorial. Man, short of pissing on the paper itself, McCain seemed like he was ready to stick his thumbs in his ears, stick out his tongue, and scream “f*ck you” to anyone who’d listen. Dirty Harry Miers had her temper tantrum in absentia. Taking a cue from her playgroup husband, Chimpy, she refused to testify under subpoena in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

And the White House, as a collective, colicky unit, had its tantrum du jour by trying to block—yeah—the bipartisan Iraq Study Group from meeting to find a solution to this war. Imagine that: imagine a group of bi-partisan adults coming together, examining and debating the war in an attempt to try to find a better way to deal with it AND GET OUR TROOPS OUT.
Hey, call me dreamer but I know I’m not the only one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gut Feelings

Gut Feelings

Look out everybody: Skeletor Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Puke, has a “gut” feeling—you can’t make this shit up—that a terrorist attack is coming this summer. Nice, huh? Facts and evidence fall by the wayside in this administration; gut feelings obviously rule the day.

When you think about it, the gut feeling policy seems to explain a lot, doesn't it? For it could be that Chimpy acted on his gut to invade Iraq in the first place; he could, in fact, have had a gut feeling that THERE were WMDs, regardless of whether or not they were actually there; perhaps it was his gut, after a bad cajun meal, that led him to virtually ignore Katrina in her first 48 hours; and maybe, just maybe it's Chimpy's gut that's telling him not to pull out of Iraq, the hell with reality.

Summer Series - John McCain

Weekly Presidential Politics - 7/11/07

The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series

Barack Obama John McCain

(Preface: Originally, my plan was to tackle Barack Obama today, in an effort to rotate Democrats and Republicans throughout the summer, but recent developments make an analysis of the John McCain candidacy imperative... while it still exists.)

Okay, perhaps the preface was a bit over the top. John McCain's candidacy is not within a week of death, but let's be honest, it's on life support, and there are many who think the plug should be pulled.

McCain's Hell Week '07 began on Monday morning when it was learned that second-tier-at-best candidate Ron Paul had more cash on hand than the senior Senator from Arizona. This was followed by Monday afternoon and Tuesday's overreactions of what this meant, but the overreactions themselves had ramifications, dragging down the McCain campaign further. (Nothing hurts a candidate like pessimism. Except maybe bullets.)

Then of course came yesterday's news that two of McCain's top advisors, and soon lesser advisors, were acrimoniously departing the sinking ship.

This week, I have received no less than a half dozen emails asking me my thoughts on these developments. After all, I predicted John McCain as the eventual Republican nominee. So here's the question that must be asked: What the hell has happened to the John McCain campaign?

Well, where to begin? The top five reasons the McCain candidacy is underperforming:

1. There is never any good news out of Iraq to which he can attach himself. This kills him in a general election.

No news here. He's been President Bush's greatest ally in the war in Iraq, with the possible exception of Dick Cheney and Laura Bush. And while this stance was never popular, it has never been MORE unpopular than it is now. The Iraq War grows more unpopular by the month. Even key Republicans (see: Luger, Dick) are deserting the President. At one point, unequivocal support of the war in Iraq was not political suicide. Now, it just might be.

2. His stance on immigration greatly alienated the Republican base. This kills him in a primary election.

John McCain's immigration stance is an example of him legislating his beliefs instead of what is popular with his party, similar to the famous McCain-Feingold bill. Note to McCain: Teaming up with Russ Feingold or, in the case of the Immigration Bill, Ted Kennedy, on any bipartisan bill will not be looked on kindly by the Republican Party.

3. His strategy of being openly honest and straight-forward, hoping his dedication to unpopular issues because he believed in them would resonate with the voters.

Numbers one and two play a role here. His principled positions on issues he cares about are admirable only in the regard that they are, in fact, principled. He passionately believes in them, and hoped that eventually this facet of his character, seemingly incongruous with his fellow politicians, would set him apart from the pack. Of course, the problem is, voters disagree with these key issues, and because they know he means what he says, they cannot vote for him. Do'h!

4. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

These two men have run terrific campaigns. Rudy Giuliani is on top of most polls despite being out of step with social conservatives. Frankly, it's been a brilliant campaign to date, though this blogger still questions his potential to win the nomination when Republican voters further educate themselves on the issues, especially in Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina. Mitt Romney has taken single-digit polling numbers last year and turned them into strong favorable numbers, and many call him the odds on favorite to win the Republican nomination. In comparison, McCain has ran a very weak campaign. Last year, he was polling ahead of both of these other frontrunners. It was McCain's nomination to lose and he lost it. Can he get it back?

5. A combination of the above has led to an enormous shortfall in fundraising.

No one wants to throw money onto a sinking ship. This perpetuates the mediocrity of the campaign. Without proper funds, John McCain will have a very difficult time pulling himself out of this rut. Indeed, one of the reasons McCain parted ways with two of his top advisors was because McCain expected to have and be raising a LOT more money at this stage of the campaign.

Undeniably, the John McCain campaign is underperforming, and without a John Kerry-like resurgence, he might not make it to Iowa.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007



I don’t get us Americans. Sometimes I really think that we hallucinate in “fantasy island,” wallowing in our delusions, resisting reality, foolishly waiting for “the plane, the plane” to come to our shores. Newsflash: that rescue mission ain’t happening. Our symbolic “plane” comes courtesy of the mainstream media—and it’s by no means a rescue, giving new meaning to a crash landing when reality is concerned. Wherefore art thou, HervĂ© Villechaize?

Now that the American-backed government in Iraq has failed yet again on yet another report card, the mainstream media yet again seems beside itself because the Bush administration and its apologists, whom the media has enabled for so long, are beside themselves. Fantasy dysfunction, perhaps? Regardless of the old guard GOP defections—Lugar, Domenici, and Alexander—the media perpetuates its Fantasy Island myth—things are OK; the economy is good; the death toll in Iraq is grossly exaggerated; and it’s all the fault of the liberals and their media. Ricardo, Ricardo, wherefore art thou Senor Montalban?

Fantasy Island, though, endures other intrusions on its shores that take shape in the form of scandals. The scandal-tide grows so high and so frequently—and so f**king smelly—that we have all we can do to keep our heads above water. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that few Americans truly know about Scooter Libby and his fantasy—and Mary Matalin’s—that he had memory failure. A small scandal in the big scandal of things: Iraq persists as a mega-scandal; the justice department scandal is like a bad permutation of “Days of Our Lies;” and the DC madam sex scandal—for Senator David Vitter especially—is basic low-grade porn. Fantasy overload? Maybe. More like fantasy replacement because Americans prefer other realities that are much more attractive—Girls Gone Wild fantasies, the fantasies on the big screen, the fantasies of television, Hollywood, and the entertainment industry. These fantasies are THE fantasies that keep us content, that keep us more-focused in a less-focused way, that keep us LOST in daydream believing about, you know, homecoming queens.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Different World: Jesus Camp

Jesus Camp, a documentary that was released in September of last year, follows a number of Evangelical Christian children as they attend the Kids on Fire summer camp in North Dakota. The film highlights the political, social and religious goals of the fundamentalist adults who make the camp possible, and their efforts to instill their beliefs on their young, impressionable children.

The main message that I took away from this film is that a lot of these people are bat shit crazy. I knew that before viewing the movie, as do most people outside of this fundamentalist Christian sect. For proof, you need to look no further than the children's minister who runs the camp, Becky Fischer. She makes her position clear; she is hoping to recruit a new generation of children ready to lay down their lives for their religion if the opportunity presents itself. The children themselves are raised with a mentality that they are at war against non-believers, a notion that the children communicate to the viewer in various interviews. When the adults profiled in Jesus Camp are not recruiting for their army of Christ, they are assuring their children that science "really doesn't prove anything," placing red tape over their mouths in anti-abortion demonstrations and calling for political unification to over-turn laws that do not coincide with their beliefs.

Like I said, they're out of their minds.

What I found disappointing was the narrow scope of the individuals the filmmakers chose to profile. There was a clear bias, made more recognizable by the interjections from the only sane person on camera during the entire film, Mike Papantonio, host of the left-of-center "Ring of Fire" radio show. It is not difficult to find the crackpots who feel that a successful religious experience involves producing immobilizing fits of hysterical crying in their young children and offering praise to a cardboard cut out of George Bush. If the directors, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, really wanted to make a film that gave a more balanced view of the religion, it would not have been difficult to find at least one family or church that would have presented the audience with an alternative take on Evangelical Christians and offer them a reasonable amount of screen time. Instead, what we are left with is a one sided presentation of the facts that we already know - Becky Fischer and her crazy Christian companions are out of control. The filmmakers did not challenge themselves, and therefore did not challenge their audience. Jesus Camp, in my opinion, had the potential to be much more powerful and important than it is in its current state because as it stands now, the film leaves itself open to much deserved criticism from the fundamentalist Christians who claim they were mis-represented or simply not represented at all. Once again, an important topic that deserves to be documented and discussed falls victim to poor directorial choices that largely invalidate it as a means of political and social conversation. It's only logical, then, that Jesus Camp was first screened at Michael Moore's film festival.

As the documentary stands now, it is a startling look into the most fundamental of the fundamentalists. Any liberal watching this film should be scared of these children, says Becky Fischer. They are passionate and dedicated and most importantly, they are still in elementary school. This documentary is shocking and heartbreaking and deserves to be seen, but could have been a much more solid starting point for the conversation regarding the melding of church and state that threatens our country.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Summer Series - Rudy Giuliani

Weekly Presidential Politics - 7/4/07

The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series

Rudy Giuliani

Of the seven candidates that have a chance to be President, it’s former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who consistently has the biggest leads in a party's national polls. It’s Republican Rudy Giuliani who most successfully matches up with Democrats in hypothetical head-to-head match ups. It’s cross-dressin’ Rudy Giuliani who has positioned himself as the Republican with most crossover appeal come November 2008.

Yet, of the seven candidates that have a chance to be President, Rudy Giuliani is the least likely to garner his party’s nomination.

How much longer can his lack of conservative values possibly survive the Republican Primary vetting process? Is the conservative base ever going to feel comfortable voting for a guy who is liberal or neutral on core conservative issues like gay marriage, abortion, and gun control? In a party that touts morals and values as central tenets of its ideology, will the candidate with the most troubled family life and personal history be able to overcome this reputation to be the Republican survivor?

It’s unlikely.

Radio host and author James Dobson, who holds significant power over a sizeable conservative coalition, with evangelical influence greater than that of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson at their peak, is on the record as saying that he, “cannot and will not support Giuliani under any circumstances.” This is not only trouble for a Giuliani nomination, it also means that should Giuliani survive the primary, there is a possibility that a third-party conservative would emerge to the right of both candidates in the general election. Clearly, this would cut into the Republican base, allowing a Democratic walkover, regardless of the candidate, in November.

It’s also uncertain how much longer Giuliani can scare the American people into thinking that he’s the guy that will keep them safe. A spotty security record as a mayor of a city is typically not as great of a security blanket as say, a four-term Senator from Arizona with military experience and tenure on military committees. It’s generally understood that Rudy Giuliani must keep the focus on terrorism and national security if he has any chance to win this thing, but a seemingly capable security candidate in John McCain, one who is undoubtedly more conservative and proven than Giuliani, would seem to be the better bet for Republicans.

No, the GOP will not nominate Rudy Giuliani. If you ask me, they’re just waiting for the alternative to emerge. No one wants to come out and support a McCain or a Thomson or a Romney if they’re just going to fade come primary time. As soon as one of conservative alternatives clearly emerge as the chief competitor to Giuliani, the base will flock to that alternative. Like James Dobson, most conservatives simply cannot support a Giuliani candidacy.

Finally, perhaps the most important hindrance to a Rudy Giuliani nomination are the early primary states. Iowa is not a Rudy Giuliani state. He’s also behind in Nevada and New Hampshire. Long story short, if he doesn’t find a way to win the early primaries, he’ll have a lot of trouble making up that ground down the stretch. He cannot afford to wait until SuperDuper Tuesday on February 5th to make his move. If he’s not doing well heading into that day, Republicans will have yet another reason to not support him. And they won’t.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Weekly Presidential Politics Update

Brought to you by IC:

Every Wednesday through August 22nd: Approximately 500 words on each of the major candidates, including one week dedicated to the minor ones.

The '07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series (TM) begins this Wednesday. The date? July 4th.

See you then.