Sunday, October 28, 2007

Faux (News) Pas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brownback's Dropout Epitomizes Money Issue

Weekly Presidential Politics - 10/24/07

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

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

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

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

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

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

But without money... who cares?

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

Someone justify this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Different World

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 15, 2007

Money Doesn't Buy Class

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

Bear with me....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 14, 2007

[S]he's Back!

[S]he’s Back!

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Republican Presidential Debate Diary

Weekly Presidential Politics - 10/10/07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4:15 – Duncan Hunter. I mean come on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

And that's America.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The race to the 2012 White House?

Weekly Presidential Politics - 10/3/07

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

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


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dark Clouds

Dark Clouds

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

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

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

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Vegas Marriage


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

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

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