Sunday, March 30, 2008

Exits & No Exits

Exits & No Exits

The media narrative this week has been “exits,” especially on exiting the race for ’08. But the one exit that matters most—from Iraq—has been yet again pushed to the narrative background along with the fraud surrounding the Afghanistan arms contract, which once again smacks of the Bush administration’s inept management of the wars they wage—you know, the ones that bomb, bomb McCainy supports.

Instead of the Iraq War, which just hit its 5 year mark, or Bush being the main character in the media exit novella, Hillary has been cast in that role and what a prima donna she’s become. The sad part about this opera is that it seems like it’s going to end like all operas end, in tragedy. I can almost hear the sounds of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

There’s no question at this point: Hillary should go, not just for the party’s sake but also for her political future. The math is not on her side; the momentum is not on her side; the media is certainly not on her side—the least said about the latest lecture from the Dolores Umbridge of the right wing, Smeggy Noonan, the better; and the primary electorate is not on her side.

More importantly, in a strange way, Hillary’s campaign has NOT been on her side: Fumble after fumble, mistake after mistake, misstatement after “misspoke,” even with the few but well-publicized fumbles in the Obama campaign that perhaps could’ve worked to their advantage, the Clinton campaign has been disastrous with media-emergency management. They sadly resemble “heckuva job” Brownie—sorry. It’s been a dismaying collage of a whole lot of money, a whole lot of bravado for a whole lot of incompetence.

It’s interesting that a subtext to the media exit narrative has been Hillary’s contingency plans, if and when she decides to exit the race. Governor of New York? Senate Majority leader? On Friday evening’s Countdown and in the blogosphere, this story took hold. And what’s even more interesting, as Johnathan Alter mentioned on Countdown, there’s even been chatter about Obama’s contingency plan, should he become the nominee and lose to bomb, bomb McCainy, a media lover-boy whose many misstatements and frightening fumbles, along with the Iraq war, lurk in the media background as Hillary and Barack are on center stage.

Geeze. If only the media shifted its attention from whether or not Hillary would exit, who is urging her to exit—granted, she should go, what she will and could do when she exits, what Barack might do should he lose the general and exit the an exit from Iraq—given that now over 4,000 American lives have been sacrificed, maybe we could seriously think about what needs to be done once George W. Bush thankfully exits from a job he should have never had in the first place.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Coming to a Classroom Near You: The Cheating Narrative

Coming to a Classroom Near You: The Cheating Narrative

Cheating is epidemic in American society. Just take look at our public figures, for heaven’s sake: Cheating seems to be a prerequisite for the governorship of New York whether you're coming or going; cheating helped curious Georgey win the presidency in 2000; bad dog Bill cheated on Hillary; and just recently Hillary attempted to cheat the media with her Bosnia “fairy tale,” got caught, and subsequently received yet another zero for this latest pathetic attempt at creative campaigning.

So it should come as no surprise that while American students might not excel in certain academic subjects, they more oftentimes than not exceed standards when it comes to cheating. And every teacher, instructor, and professor, I’m sure, has a treasure trove of stories about cheating, about those who cheat, and about how they struggled to maintain their sanity when confronting those who cheat but who also pretend NOT TO know that they cheated. Mind boggling, I know.

On the high school level, cheating is a constant in the cult of adolescent personality. And generally speaking, the “cheating” narrative ascribes to the following plot points:

1. The cheater knowingly cheats regardless of being warned a 1.000 times.
2. The cheater usually can’t help make it obvious that s/he has cheated; in short, s/he is seldom “good” at it.
3. When caught, the cheater immediately PRETENDS NOT TO KNOW THAT s/he cheated.
4. Denial sets in.
5. The cheater then finds some lame-a## way to blame the teacher, instructor, or professor.
6. The crying game happens—and I’m not referring to the film of the same name.
7. At this point, the narrative goes one or two ways:

a. The cheater recognizes the obvious: s/he has been INCREDIBLY stupid, got caught, and SHOULD NOT do this again, although chances are s/he will.

b. The cheater CAN’T abandon a win at this point and thus resorts to the ultimate act of desperation: S/he brings in a parent as a "special operations" cheerleader, as an enabler of sorts, as the ultimate “character” witness.

I regret to inform you that choice “b” is the preferred choice of cheaters and their cheating parents, which brings me to my major point: How can we educators ever expect to stop cheating when parents blindly pass on their cheating behaviors to their children whom they are cheating out of some sort of moral growth and development?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

JJ a.k.a. Judas Joe

Judas Joe

Cheers to The Day paper for smacking down Judas Joe whose recent cameos with Bomb, Bomb McCainy are getting increasingly nauseating—sorry, but there’s something admittedly gross when one old man whispers ever closely in another old man’s ear. And huge cheers to The Huffington Post for covering this smack down coming from little ol’ southeastern Connecticut.

But Judas Joe’s relationship with let’s-spend another-100-years-in-Iraq McCainy is NOT NEW information, nor should it come as a surprise that JJ –that’s Judas Joe for short, will support McCain for president as if he were the second coming. In fact, Judas Joe and McCainy are regulars at the American Enterprise Institute, the neocon death star of policy making.

JJ, formerly Captain Lieberman, formerly Oedipus Lieberman, formerly Senator Joe Lieberman, Democrat from CT, is, alas, who he is. Many of us in Connecticut already know this; such a pity it’s taking so many others to catch on.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

American Dream Disorder

American Dream Disorder

Like Gatsby fixating on the green light and the girl he once lost, like Hester Prynne fantasizing about an escape from puritan New England with her paramour pastor Dimmesdale, like phony Holden wishing to live a “mute” life with a “mute” wife out west, many of us Democrats, I fear, get caught in our dreams just like our more famous figures in American literature.

Yes, it appears Barack will win the nomination and Hillary will most likely lose. With an opposition to the war from the beginning, with what seems to be an unblemished public record, with an uncanny, superficial resemblance to JFK, further enhanced by Kennedy family endorsements, and most of all, with a message that resonates and a life partner who is as equally if not more convincing than the candidate himself, Senator Obama has built an insurmountable momentum among Democratic party voters. Aided and abetted by a mainstream media dying for a “new” narrative and an indirect means by which to drive the nails into Hillary’s coffin, Barack has justly carpe diem(ed) the moment.

But the mainstream media narratives are shifting. And electoral reality with many Americans, whether or not the pundit class recognizes it, conveys another story.

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve already previewed the summer & fall Republican attack narratives that the mainstream media will no doubt intensify: “The Patriot Question, The Barack Edition.” They’ve already gone after Michelle, and they will stop at nothing equating Barack’s name to some of our more renowned “radical” Islamist enemies. Have we conveniently forgotten about our swift-boating, presidential campaign past?

But lady of mass instigation, Maureen Dowd, in today’s column, suggests that attacks against Obama’s patriotism “may not have the same traction.” Silly Maureen, these attacks already have gained some traction. It seems that Dowd also likes to dream and fantasize. And while I would NEVER suggest that the ever-astute Frank Rich has a touch of the American Dream Disorder, I’m admittedly concerned. In today’s column, “McCain Channels His Inner Hillary,” Rich highlights what many Democrats are either overlooking or completely disregarding in their dream states: Senator Obama will not have an easy campaign against Senator McCain, who has adopted the Hillary “experience” offensive, despite what some early polling and match-ups forecast.

As Rich duly notes, Senator McCain is far more appealing to Democrats and liberals than what one might initially think. That Bomb, Bomb McCainy invokes the wrath of Flush Limfart and Mann Coulter only increases the appeal, especially among those Reagan Democrats who’ve been a part of the Clinton coalition—a coalition of the dwindling. Perhaps this is why in must-win Florida polls, as Rich emphasizes, McCain decisively beats Obama. But even Rich suggests that for McCain and his supporters, “The Patriot Question, The Barack Edition” will NOT have much force in the wake of the RNC’s overtly racist “macaca” days. I think not.

“The Patriot Question, The Barack Edition” has already taken foot; just take a look at Steve Croft’s segment on tonight’s 60 Minutes Sunday. Croft interviewed a group of Ohio blue collar men who said they didn’t like Obama because he wasn’t patriotic and he was a Muslim. Lies, I know. But what we are witnessing here is a tectonic narrative shift; the campaign against Obama is all over the web—whether you are looking for it or not; and quite frankly, Senator McCain is a perfect character foil to set this story into hyper-drive: Veteran, former prisoner of war, hawk, older statesman.

Like it or not, many people respect McCain’s “story” and his commitment to our country. Many people do see him as paradigm of…patriotism, the very thing the echo chamber clamors Barack is not. While I will certainly support Senator Obama’s candidacy—I do believe he is unequivocally the better choice, I do fear that many Democrats and pundits are only dreaming if they think that the RNC smearing and fearing won’t work because it already has.