September 28, 2007

The YouTube Generation

You hear it all the time, "the younger generation doesn't care about politics." Apparently our generation is filled with people who care little about the world around them and simply play with electronics all day. Is that true? I would say definitely not!
For those who don't believe me, why not look at blogs like Liberal College Kid in which students discuss political issues? Or how about watching some of the hundreds of political video blogs by people like James Kotecki or Bryan Barton? College students all over the country participate in protests about the war, abortion, and gay rights. They stand up for their views, begin groups like the Young Republicans and Young Democrats. How about the issue with Karl Rove which occured on American University's campus last year? Those who say that students have become apathetic should look again.
Just ask the gods of political satire Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert where their largest following comes from. I'm pretty sure they will tell you that their popularity and support is largely rooted in the younger generation. Lewis Black and the members of Capitol Steps would most likely agree. College students are tremendously involved in politics!
In fact, it seems as though those politicians are simply not trying to reach out to the group. Many don't try to understand the new voting group. Which politicians are gaining the most support with this generation? Easy answer, the ones who reach out to them! Obama Girl and Giuliani Girl follow their candidates for a reason! The Democrats and Republicans who actually try to rally support from the new voting group do in fact win it!

The Burmese Aside

In delivering his speech at annual meeting of the General Assembly, President George W. Bush* highlighted a country that few Americans could find on a map - Myanmar, better known to the Western world as Burma. Burma's plight has been the subject of little popular discussion beyond MTV's favorite political prisoner - An Sang Su Chi, a young woman who has been under house arrest on and off for over a decade. Over the past few weeks however, the plight of the Burmese people has come under the spotlight of Western news outlets. The outbreak of rioting and civil disobedience, encouraged by populist has brought the country to the brink of implosion.

It takes the abominable harassment of monks for mainstream media to turn its eye on a problem that's been going on for far too long. This illustrates that the reason that there is no real, deep political discussion in American today perhaps is as much the fault of a complacent and enabling media as it does with the candidates.




*http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7017369.stm

is hillary really an advocate for gay rights?

in a recent issue of the gay issues magazine, the advocate, hillary clinton danced around the question of gay rights... she was clear about her position on marriage equality: she won't have it. and yet she seems much more sympathetic to the cause than her husband, the man wee all have to thank for DADT. i get a sense that while hillary may not support marriage equality now, she's earnestly trying to wrap her brain around the Queer Question, as i'll call it.... as long as heterosexuals have rights that i do not have, i will remain a second-class citizen and as long as hillary remains transparent and open to the cause, she'll remain as my pick for the democratic nomination

Promising Polls

Here is the link for the current polls:

http://www.pollingreport.com/wh08gen.htm

It showing Hilary Clinton in the lead currently, which is interesting news. This shows that America maybe finally ready for a woman president. However, I have a feeling that the polls will change.

The democratic party have the lead, which I was expecting. However electing a new president is always different. With Bush finally leaving the White House, our next president has a lot of work to do.

Taking Politics Into Our Own Hands

If only I could raise $30 million in three weeks...

According to CNN's Political Ticker, Newt Gingrich announced Monday that he would enter the campaign if donors contributed "at least $30 million... over a three-week period starting Monday and ending Oct. 21."

But before you all experience a euphoria-induced blog-o-seizure, let's think about Gingrich's chances should he enter the 'invisible primary.'

As most of you have probably noticed, a couple battleground political states are waging a rather subtle yet important war. Each vying to overtake New Hampshire for the title of 'first primary,' preliminary elections are moving closer and closer to the beginning of 2008. I've even heard CNN refer to what was known as 'Super Tuesday' as 'Super Duper Tuesday' (thanks, Wolf...) because the primaries now resemble a sort of national referendum on the candidates.

That effectively leaves Gingrich four months to campaign; a hurdle that underlies the effects of unequal media (in)exposure during the primary process.

And let's not forget Gingrich's $30 million challenge. As of June 30, 2007, the top two candidate in terms of fund raising, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, campaigned for nearly $35 million and $33 million, respectively.

In other words, Gingrich hopes to do in three months what the current candidates have been doing for well over six. That's a little too idealist for me.

I mean, I, like anyone else, want to see a competent man or woman elected to the office of the president in 2008. I, again like the rest of this Web site's bloggers, hope the person who makes the grade does so fairly and openly with as much discourse as possible. But there is a fine line between idealism and pragmatism. Gingrich should run, but he needs to tone down his expectations if he wants to be successful; expectations are usually the reasons candidates fail. And he has to remember that despite his criticism, the system is what it is. He can hate the present state of political discourse and lambaste the insular primary or donor systems all to the approval of voter applause, but he has to play and rely on the system if he wishes to fix it. Tis the irony of politics.

The political clock is ticking, Newt.

Slate readers get thinking about debates

I was looking around on Slate.com earlier. Apparently a few months ago the online publication asked its readers for their opinions on how to improve the current presidential debates. There are some suggestions from the Slate readers that are definatly worth looking at, and a few that are a bit “out there.” Here’s a rundown of some of the more noteable points:

Fact Checking During the Debates: “In a first round, journalists would question the candidates. Those answers would then be fact-checked by a panel. During the fact-checking, candidates would be allowed to say whatever they wanted in a second round. (This free gab period would be a sweetener that might entice them to participate.) In the third round, the fact-checking panel would make candidates defend their distortions, ask for clarifications, or point out which questions the candidates had ducked altogether.”
Give the audience control: We saw this type thing with the CNN/Youtube debates, but several Slate readers suggested a different take on it inspired by shows like American Idol and Survivor. The audience would have the power to vote candidates off the stage who’s answers were no good. And if a candidate began to ramble, his microphone could be cut off.
Let the candidates question each other: Candidates sparring against one another on various topics may be more entertaining and yield better debate than the standard panel of journalists and academics asking questions.

To read some of the other ideas from the Slate.com readership, here’s the link the article: http://slate.com/id/2166144/

Candidate Calculator

So I found this via the usual annoying spam sent to me by my aunt. It's for those of you who are too lazy to think for yourselves, too lazy to watch any of the debates, and definitely too lazy to pick up a newspaper and read anything about the 2008 Presidential candidates. It's the Candidate Calculator! The very sophisticated calculator asks you "yes" or "no" questions about whether you support certain issues, like the Iraq war, abortion rights, and immigration policy. It then allows you to label the issue as one of low, medium, or high importance creating an accurate and fine-tuned calculation. In the results it displays the Presidential candidate that is your number one match, as well as candidates that are close matches, and your least compatible choices.

While this is funny, and obviously not a real way to choose a candidate, I wonder if it is not a more short-winded version of picking a candidate than watching Presidential debates, or reading about their opinions on issues in newspapers. Particularly today, candidates don't go into depth about their stances regarding certain matters. The public doesn't really know much more than the neutral and glossed-over version that is fed to us after much instruction from their PR person. So perhaps we should give up and just use the trusty Candidate Calculator.

Also, my mother I were talking, and she told me she did her calcuation just for fun, and she, an avid Hillary supporter, found that her political views, in fact, lined up more with Denis Kucinich's politics. This to me is an expression of the limited realistic options faced by those who are very leftist. Obviously Kucinich is not going to get the nomination, and most likely I will end up voting for the more moderate nominee. Sometimes its very frustrating for me, because it sucks to have to settle!

(Not) Taking a Stance

In response to mschellentrager’s most recent post:

Although disappointing, it comes as no surprise to me that the Democratic presidential candidates did not take a stronger stance on bringing our troops home from Iraq. It is no longer common for candidates to take such strong and definite stands during debates, partially because the strict structure does not encourage candidates to. The small time frame given to answer questions and respond is hardly long enough to explain a plan to withdraw troops.

This has been the topic I have continually revisited these past three weeks. Although other people in the class might not realize it, they are connecting present day politics to the Lincoln-Douglas debates, as “mschellentrager” did. Many people have a problem with the way debates are run and the information that the American public receives from them. Debates are no longer used as a platform to introduce all of a candidate’s plans if elected. There are additional television interviews, newspaper stories, even Wikipedia entries. I lump the debates into the same category as all of these.

Debates have lost their prominence in the United States. Candidates do not feel the need to take firm stands on issues, just stay in the middle ground. Debate structure needs to be revamped before we will see politicians stating their opinions more authoritatively.

Monikers and How to Shed Them




Bob Dylan is in town tomorrow with Elvis Costello. Bruce Springsteen will be in town in mid-November. Being me, I began ruminating on something that concerns all three of these musicians: the use of a moniker. Robert Zimmerman, more commonly known as Bob Dylan, lent his voice and penned lyrics to a generation of the disenfranchised and politically active. In doing so, he immortalized the name Bob Dylan, and lent it to the public a moniker to bestow on budding folk musicians. Since the late 1970s, new singers with even a small resemblance to Bob Dylan have been branded as "the NEXT BOB DYLAN" Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, John Wesley Harding, and many others. John Wesley harding was doomed from the start- he named himself after a Dylan song. But both Springsteen and Costello managed to escape the "NEXT BOD DYLAN" title and emerge into the spotlight themselves.
By now you're probably wondering what the hell this musical commentary has to do with politicians and debate. A lot. It is just an example of a disturbing trend in our society to label the next big thing with something from the past. In politics, we keep looking for the next Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, or Ronald Reagan. This labeling seems to be seriously en vogue this presidential race. Republicans are looking for a turn to Reaganism, a candidate like Reagan who brought the Republican Party back into the limelight after the corruption of the Nixon years. The Democrats, on the other hand, seem to be searching for a candidate that is both radical and extremely popular, a la Franklin Roosevelt. But this trend worries me. If we continue to label and look for the next anything, are we not dooming ourselves to re-living the past and the mistakes that were made. We can't think of these new politicians in the same way we thought of the old ones. We have to expect them, and encourage them, to turn into something new and unique. Incorporate elements of the past, but don't simply emulate it. Both Springsteen and Costello were thought to be simple copies of Bob Dylan, but instead turned into great musicians in their own rights. That is what we need politicians to do. We can't misconstrue today's candidates with presidents from the past. We have to listen instead to what they are saying, and not diluting it with what we want to see and hear.

Quotable Quotes

I was having a hell of a time today, trying to write this blog. So, I decided to veer a bit off topic and post some quotes about politics and debate and attempt to analyze them or apply them to 'today's' world.

1) Debate and divergence of views can only enrich our history and culture.
-Ibrahim Babangida


I wasn't sure who the author of this first quote was, so I looked Babangida up on Wikipedia. He was the 8th president of Nigeria, in power from 1985 until 1993. Although he did not necessarily utilize this quote in his regime, I still think it to be a fitting quotation for our discussions on politics. If debate and divergence can only enrich our history and culture, than why is it politicians so desperately avoid any real debate or divergence of opinion?

2) A politician's goal is always to manipulate public debate. I think there are some politicians with higher goals. But all of them get corrupted by power.
-Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz, as many know is a fiction writer, generally of mystery/suspense novels. One of the major problems with modern political debates is the lack of any sincerity. As Koontz says, politicians are always trying to manipulate public debate; they are constantly spinning stories, rephrasing and backtracking so as to appeal to all voters. The quotation continues to say Koontz believes there exist some politicians who have higher aims than simply to win votes, but in the end all our corrupted by power, I statement I tend to agree with.

3)
After last night's debate, the reputation of Messieurs Lincoln and Douglas is secure.
-Edward R. Murrow


This quotation was my personal favorite, possibly because I'm a big fan of Edward Murrow, or possible because of its implications. If in the 1950s political debates were poor enough for Murrow to make this statement then to what levels have sunk to today, fifty years later?

In short, these are just a few of many thousands of quotes on politics, debate, and the state of the nation, but they three which I liked and felt had some relevance to our course and blog.

Here are the links for the wikipedia pages of the three authors of the quotations:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibrahim_Babangida
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Koontz
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Murrow

September 27, 2007

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones…

By now, I am sure that most of you have heard about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s little visit to Columbia University. This past Monday, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs invited President Ahmadinejad to speak at the World Leaders Forum. This was a gutsy move on Columbia’s part, and many were hesitant to even invite the President, yet what happened during the forum was a sight to see.

Usually when introducing a guest speaker, one does not usually resort to calling them names. Surprisingly, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger took this approach while introducing President Ahmadinejad, setting the maturity precedence for a truly amateurish forum. Sure, President Ahmadinejad has said some truly tactless, insensitive comments, and it had to be tempting for Bollinger to call Ahmadinejad out for his controversial comments on the holocaust, yet by saying what he did, Bollinger ultimately sunk down to Ahmadinejad’s maturity level:

“Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a
petty and cruel dictator, and so I ask you, why have womenmembers of the Bahá' í Faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?"

Come on, Bollinger. Not calling your guest a petty and cruel dictator is something you should have learned in debutant training school. After Bollinger threw out his zinger at Ahmadinejad, the audience began to applaud. I couldn’t help but feel as though I was watching an episode of Maury where some disgruntled housewife called out her unfaithful husband –- and had the paternity test results to back it up. Maturity clearly was not anyone’s prerogative at the forum. On the other hand, though, the forum’s rampant immaturity did bring about something hilarious. In response to Bollinger’s incessant questions relating to Iran’s treatment of homosexuals, President Ahmadinejad’s acidic – if petty and cruel – tongue unleashed one of the finer quotes of 2007:

"In Iran
we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you that we have it."

In the wise words of Kathy Griffin, “Where my gays at?!” It would not surprise me that there aren’t many out homosexuals in Iran because the legal consequences they would face are somewhat daunting. As stipulated by Iranian law, sodomy is a crime and if two consenting adults are caught in the act, they could face death. Consenting adult lesbians caught in the act are subjected to 100 lashings. I suppose it’s no wonder why Ahmadinejad can’t find any homosexuals in Iran.

As ridiculous as Ahmadinejad may be at times, Bollinger’s juvenile tactics were somewhat uncalled for. But then again, Bollinger did get Ahmadinejad to claim that there aren’t any homosexuals in Iran.

Making the blogosphere a little bigger...

I feel like we're in a bubble. A "blogobubble," if you will.

We're never going to accomplish the goal of this blog if we don't communicate with actual people. I mean, writing articles and all is fun, but I feel like we're just writing it for the sake of writing something to turn in. I realize this is a class assignment and we are getting a grade on it, but we need to make sure that this is more fun than anything. And that it actually has a purpose that transcends the requirements for our class.

This week, as I was looking over other blogs, I have noticed that other blogs actually tackle the issues and do it in a matter that is interactive and innovative. We should try to be more like that... Instead of bringing up a whole different topic, write a blog post adding more to someone has already brought up, or disagree with another post and write about that.

Wouldn't it be cool if we turned into a huge political debate that got some actual attention from big wigs? I think that should be our ultimate goal. Let's create enough stir so that people actually come to us, comment on our posts, and use us as a source for their blog posts.

So, let's try and become part of the blogosphere and get out of our blogobubble. Let's get some debate going on! That's what this is for, right?

Anyways, here's a blog for you to look at: http://technorati.com/blogs/www.foxattacks.com. Yay for blogs!

How Long Should Troops Stay In Iraq?

The Iraq war is a very divisive political issue. Many credit the war and the Bush administration’s mishandled involvement in the Middle East as the catalyst for Democrats regaining the majority in Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.

In a debate last night in New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential hopefuls were asked about American soldiers in Iraq and none of them would commit to withdrawing all of the troops, even by 2013. I was very surprised by this statement, especially since House Democrats have been pushing legislation with a timeline that would bring troops home before Labor Day 2008. For the presidential candidates to say that America would continue to have an influential presence in Iraq for another six years is conflicting with what the majority of the electorate thinks.

A nationwide CBS News poll conducted on September 14-16 asked participants what the United States should do in Iraq, 29% responded that all troops should be removed immediately and 39% responded that the troop levels should decrease. Clearly the majority of our country would not agree with keeping our soldiers in Iraq for six more years and the Democratic presidential candidates should reexamine their stances.

South Park and Politics

The other day I was watching an old episode of South Park and, surprisingly, began relating it to what we're talking about in class. The episode, entitled "I'm a little bit country," is about the people in South Park protesting the war. The boys all get a class project to find out what the founding fathers would've thought about the war in Iraq. While Kyle struggles to do the work, Cartman 'travels back in time' and is transported to 1776 America. He bumps into the founding fathers debating the constitution and is privy to their debate. While debating the war, all of the things the men are saying sound eerily similar to the same criticisms of the Iraq war. Finally, Ben Franklin comes in and gives a speech in favor of going to war and in favor of dissenting the war. According to Ben Franklin, the trick in America is "saying one thing and doing another."
While this is funny in the context of South Park, this is the exact reason I've grown so sick of politics. It's always the same arguments and everyone making them is a hypocrite. This election is shaping up to be more honest than the last, but as 2008 approaches, my skepticism grows. While the Bush administration is being systematically fired for their lies and deceit, a new group of politicians is preparing to convince the American people that they are somehow better. I hope the creators of South Park aren't right and there is such a thing as an honest politician.
You can watch the episode at: http://www.spikedhumor.com/articles/121970/South_Park_I_m_A_Little_Bit_Country.html

Clinton changes her position on torture in New Hampshire



After reading several articles on the NH debate, critics and political analysts alike believe Sen. Hillary Clinton
has changed her position on whether or not a presidential exception should be allowed to use torture in order to prevent an imminent terror attack.

At the debate Wednesday night moderator Tim Russert asked Clinton, "This is the number three man in Al Qaeda. We know there's a bomb about to go off, and we have three days, and we know this guy knows where it is. Should there be a presidential exception to allow torture in that kind of situation?"

Clinton responded, "As a matter of policy, it cannot be American policy, period. I met with those same three-and four-star retired generals, and their principal point--in addition to the values that are so important for our country to exhibit-- is that there is very little evidence that it works. Now, there are a lot of other things that we need to be doing that I wish we were: better
intelligence; making, you know, our country better respected around the world; working to have more allies, but these hypotheticals are very dangerous because they open a great big hole in what should be an attitude that our country and our president takes toward the appropriate treatment of everyone."

In an interview last October, however, Clinton's answer was different. Last October when she was asked about a presidential exception by the New York Daily News editorial board she told the paper, "I have said that those are very rare but if they occur, there has to be some lawful authority for pursuing that. And, again, I think the president has to take some responsibility. There has to be some check and balance, some reporting. I don't mind if it is some reporting within a top secret context. But that shouldn't be the tail that wags the dog, that should be the exception to the rule. And that if we deviate in the first instance from very disciplined interrogation methods, that are clearly lined out, and that have validation evaluation that goes forward."

Clinton's camp says the change is not significant. Phil Singer, a spokesman of Clinton's, said, “Upon reflection and after meeting with former generals and others, Sen. Clinton does not believe that we should be making narrow exceptions to this policy based on hypothetical scenarios.” Since the October interview Clinton has talked to interrogators from CIA, FBI, military backgrounds who are all skeptical about using terror, saying the best way to get information is to bribe people. This is undoubtedly the reason why Clinton changed her mind on this issue.

As Newt Gingrich said, it shows great maturity and experience that Clinton has changed her mind. "Flop-flopper" should not be a term with negative connotation. After further research and understanding Clinton now has a more informed and secure position on the issue.


P.S.- The blog site straight2thecandidates that I talked about in my first post will begin running on Monday, October 1, 2007. The creators have notified all the presidential candidates and have sent out numerous press releases. Hopefully they get noticed!

Abortions & Order

In the democratic system the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, chambers: the House of Representatives that has a close relationship with the constituents, and the Senators who are more deliberative. These are their stories. BUM! BUM! Fred Thompson, or District Attorney Arthur Branch, as many people know him as has a very interesting view on abortion. In March he told Fox News Sunday that he “is ‘pro-life’ and that he believes Roe v. Wade was based on ‘bad law and bad medical science.’” I’m sorry, but it seems as though I forgot that a women performing an abortion on herself with a hanger was good medical science.

We all know that conservatives are waiting for the day Roe v. Wade is over turned. Most Republican candidates oppose abortion rights, but Mr. Thompson’s comments are particularly disturbing. Abortions can be done safely and with little risk to women. Countless lives are saved every year because women have this choice. I understand both sides of the issue, but before Mr. Thompson condemns abortion so viscously he should, and this goes for candidates on both side of the aisle, increase services for young mothers including adoptions options, finical support plans, and emotional help. Because right now it is the lack of support and options that make so many women turn to abortion.

When I Grow Up, I'm Going to Be the President of the United States

Today, when I sat down to relentlessly scour through the internet in search of political fuss, I decided to start at the most obvious place – The Washington Post. To my delight, I stumbled upon a handful of interesting clips from several Democratic Presidential Candidate debates (and by “interesting” I mean they were sub par as far as entertainment goes). The clips were, however, very informative, and it is always fascinating to me how candidates interact with each other during a debate. Sometimes, you could cut the tension with a knife. And when they disagree with each other, or discuss the way their plan of action severely deviates from that of the person to their right, I can’t help but laugh. They are forced with the awareness of onlookers to go about doing it ever so politely, almost through gritted teeth.
What I found most interesting about the debates that I watched, and something that I hadn’t noticed before, was each and every candidate’s tendency to discuss their future in the White House as if it was a definite. Using phrases like “when I am in office” and “when I am inaugurated in January of 2009,” they each made it seem as if they had already been elected. At one point in one of the videos, the candidates were discussing their intended approach for exiting Iraq if elected, former Senator John Edwards began to say “if I am elected in 2009” but quickly corrected himself and stated “when” instead. Is this some sort of strategy that I’m missing the point of? One could argue that they’re attempting to exude confidence, but honestly, I think it’s rather distracting when I’m trying to learn about their objectives for my nation’s future. Give the self-assurance a rest and focus on trying to convince me that you deserve my vote.

Gingrich in the Race?

After our discussion last class of Newt Gingrich and the possibility of him running for President in the 2008 Election, I was interested to learn more. Surprisingly, I found a website already in tact dedicated to drafting Gingrich as a political candidate for the 2008 Election. The website DraftNewt.org is a comprehensive website with lots of information on why Gingrich should run for President, how to raise awareness, become involved, etc. The headline at the top of the home page reads: "Draft Newt '08; The 21st Century Demands a New Contract with America"and latest article on the page is entitled "Newt Gingrich: The only individual worthy of the GOP and America". They've also included the script from Gingrich's appearance on FOX News Sunday and his discussion of what it would take to get him to run in the 2008 Election. E Even more interesting is that they include a way to contribute to the "campaign". Their fundraising campaign is Twelve dollars. Two weeks and 2 million people campaign. Where exactly is the money going? They are "Not affiliated or authorized by any candidate, party or party committee," it states at the bottom of the website. They do not list when it was created either, so I've emailed the creators in an attempt to learn more about it and find out if there has been any response from Newt Gingrich, himself, about the website and campaign draft. Hopefully there will be more to come on this topic.

Living in a failing world...

Currently we are living in a failing world but no one is talking about it, not even the candidates that want to be the next leader of our country.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15D3ElV1Jzw

In the video above Newt Gingrich makes the comparison of FedEx and the government bureaucracy.

In the world that is working we can track a package MOVING in real time but in the world that is failing the government cannot find 7 MILLION people here illegally that ARE NOT moving. See the problem? What do the candidates have to say about that? Nothing! Because they speak on platforms surrounded by people with "likish" minds instead of surrounding themselves with people who will challenge their views and force them to give REAL answers.

I'll leave you with this quote from Newt Gingrich, "So send a package to every person who is here illegally, FedEx & UPS delivers and we track them on the computer..."

It's a man's world?

While reading a post by a fellow blogger, I couldn't help but think of Victoria Woodhull, whom I recently read about in Rodger Streitmatter's Voices of Revolution. Woodhull, who co-published Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly from 1870 to 1876, was a supporter of free love and women's suffrage and was the first woman to run for U.S. president.

When she ran in 1872, women were not legally allowed to vote, let alone run for the presidency. Furthermore, Woodhull was a mere 34 years old, which further disqualified her. The number of votes she received is unknown.

Woodhull's lack of success didn't shock me -- in fact, I was impressed to learn that a woman actually ran for the presidency in 1872. However, while perusing the website of the American Women Presidents (a political action group for female presidential candidates), I found something that did shock me: Nearly 136 years after Woodhull ran, the closest a woman came to the presidency was Shirley Chisholm in 1972. That is to say, the success of female candidates (in elections, that is) peaked about 35 years ago.

September 26, 2007

Debates

The MSNBC Democratic Debate just finished, and aside from my monumental disappointment in Chris Dodd for being a Red Sox fan, there was a great deal that the candidates left to be desired. The debate, to which the link provided is a synopsis posted by MSNBC, featured discussions predominantly concerning the Iraq War and healthcare. It was around those subjects that the candidates seem to be taking ballet lessons.

While some questions were answered directly and honestly, a host of questions were either skipped over, used as a pulpit by which to preach a wholly different issue, or in one notable instance, refused completely. Senator Clinton flatly refused to say whether or not Israel would be justified in attacking Iran if it found that the Iranians possessed nuclear weapons and would potentially use them on Israel. A number of other questions received similar treatment, although rarely as overtly. When the candidates did answer the question, they often devolved into ranting diatribes about "my contribution, my experience." Either that, or they evaded the question completely, speaking of B when the question was actually about A.

What seems to be lost on the candidates is that the people who are watching the debates this early in the election are nerdy enough to spot the maneuvers and BS. People who are watching these debates don't need the candidates experience, that is information they either already know or can look up themselves. What is important is how the candidates feel and how they would address the issues, we don't watch the debates to see how deftly politicians can get out of answering a question they don't want to answer and deliver a totally unrelated diatribe. They're politicians, we're well aware that they're capable of such maneuvering already, it's in their blood, or at least the blood they've sucked (I'm sure you don't need an explanation on the joke of the definition of "politics").

No Homosexuals in Iran

As I'm sure everyone is aware of, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rapped up his trip to America yesterday. It was a peaceful trip, full of sight seeing and picture taking. Well, actually, it was a trip filled with heated debate and controversy (not to say that pres. Ahmadinejad didn't snap a few pictures while he was here). For starters, President MA (has he will from no on be referred to) wanted to make it a point of his trip to visit Ground Zero, as if nobody here would take issue with that. After being denied this harmless request (HA!), he proceed to Colombia University to give an enilightened speech on topics ranging from women's rights, the holocaust, and the myth of homosexuality.


“In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country. We don't have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have it.”

"Given this historical event [Holocaust], if it is a reality, we need to still question whether the Palestinian people should be paying for it or not. After all, it happened in Europe. The Palestinian people had no role to play in it."


I submit to you all that this man is a product of his surroundings, just as we all are. By no means am I supporting the man, I just acknowledge that he truly believes this nonsense and he should have the forum to speak just as we all do. His problem is that he is not in Iran. He is not even in other sympathetic Middle East regions. He is in the liberal East. While he automatically assumes the right of free speech when he arrived on our shore, he must be aware that his ideas and beliefs must be backed by facts, not strong diction or a powerful tone. That doesn't (usually) fly here in America.
He is approaching his backwards and immoral personal stances and beliefs from what he calls an 'academic' perspective. He is taking radical views and veiling them as academia. I personally believe that it was a mistake for Columbia to host him, especially after hearing his introduction by Columbia President Lee Bollinger where he reffered to Pres. MA as a "petty and cruel dictator"

He goes on to confront Pres. MA even further by saying "Mr. President. I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions." Bollinger hit is right on the head...

Welcome to America Mahmoud, enjoy yourself and have a good time, but expect ZERO respect!


Why I Distrust the Police.

A previous post about the tasering of a University of Florida student got me thinking about all of the police abuse I've witnessed or heard about growing up in Gainesville. To be honest this incident is only remarkable because it actually made the news. From causing minor annoyances to killing innocent people I can't really think of a time where there wasn't anything other then hatred for the UFPD and its citywide counterpart GPD. I was pleasantly surprised when arriving at AU I found out how kind and gentle our public safety officers were, and for that matter the DC metro police as a whole.

Since the seventh grade it had been standard practice for our teachers to tell their students at least once a year to never talk to a police officer without a lawyer, even if you didn't do anything wrong. My first personal experience with UFPD came on July 27, 2004. I remember it well because it just happened to be the very first day I had my driver's license. After playing pool at the university rec center I was driving home with a friend of mine when I was pulled over on campus for what I would later find out was suspicion of a stolen vehicle. After being spread eagled on the front of the officer's patrol car, patted down and having my car searched for almost an hour the officer laughed at me for being pulled over on my first day and sent me on my way. This was the first of seven such incidents. Each time I was let off without so much as a warning. I have been pulled over by Gainesville police for everything from suspicion of illegal U-turn to having out of date tags on my license when in fact they were in date. Each time I was verbally abused and patted down. After the first time I wised up and no longer permitted any kind of attempt to search my car. If I added all of my friend's stories this blog would run on forever.

These are only petty grievances, something to complain about to your friends but nothing worst then a sprained wrist or a weekend in jail. The reason I wrote this post was for two incidents far more serious then even last weeks tazing.

The first is a 2003 incident that sadly was never given its full day in the media spotlight because the victim was far too ashamed to come forward. A nineteen year old University of Florida student was raped in the Alachua County Jail by his fellow inmate. While prison rape is not uncommon, this particular incident stood out for several reasons. The kid was serving his first of four weekend sentences for attempting to distribute marijuana. He was placed in a cell with Randolph Jackson, a thirty-five year old convicted rapist who had also been accused of raping three previous cellmates. After placing him in his cell the cops simply walked away, having to know what was going to happen. Jackson, who is HIV positive, quickly forced a ballpoint pen to the kid's throat. In the aftermath the kid required several stitches in his rectum. Of course nothing ever happened to the officer's involved as the whole episode was said to have been a simple fault of jail overcrowding.

Corey Rice is a name some of you may foggily remember hearing about several years ago. This happened on one of my favorite streets in Gainesville, known for countless late night adventures. Around 1 am on June 30, 2001 thirty year old Corey Rice, an architecture grad student, was pulled over for failing to stop at a stop sign by Officer Jimmy Hecksel. As the officer approached his window Rice slowly backed up, and then began pulling away. Claiming Rice was trying to run him over, Officer Hecksel unleashes seven shots with his forty caliber, hitting Rice three times. Rice would die several hours later in the hospital. While I could not find the video itself, stills from the video show that it looked like at no point was Officer Hecksel in danger.

While countless pages have been given to the tasing, little was made about these previous incidents. As a result I was only able to find small press releases about this incident. Police Brutality Prison Rape Corey Rice

September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad visits America

Something that has been in the news recently is Iranian president Ahmadinejad's visit to America. People are upset about this because Ahmadinejad has been pretty vocal about his negative feelings toward the West and America.

Leave it to John Stewart on the Daily Show to put a comic spin on this:
http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/index.jhtml


Personally, I don't understand why Ahmadinejad would want to come here. His entire visit here has incited so much anger and hurt, especially because he wants to visit Ground Zero and he is scheduled to speak at Columbia University. It makes me sad because I know many Iranians who do not feel the same way Ahmadinejad does. His extreme views of the world are highlighted because they are different, but the majority of Muslims do not believe in killing all Americans or wiping out Israel. I think that his visit here is only going to cause more problems and more people to be angry and upset.

September 24, 2007

A woman president?

As discussed in a previous blog post, the topic of a woman president is something that many journalists and media talkingheads have taken a liking to. Recently, I ran across a magazine that really pissed me off. In the September 17 issue of Newsweek, the front page reads "What kind of Decider would she be?" After reading the article, I became less infuriated, but the headline still irked me. Hillary Clinton has been in politics longer than George Bush, Barack Obama, or most of the other politicians out there. The only reason her 'decision-making' is being called into question is because she's a woman. And isn't indecisiveness one of the most stereotypical traits of being a woman? God knows what will happen if you let a woman make important decisions--I mean what if she's on her period? It's not like women are rational, thoughtful people. The media unknowingly reinforces the sexist ideology that has made its way into the very fabric of our society and, through doing so, holds us back. Maybe Ameria isn't ready for a woman president.

September 21, 2007

PBS Debate being Ducked by GOP Candidates

Fred Thompson has recently stated that he will not take part in a PBS debate schedualed to be held at Morgan State University, a historically black college, later this month. Thompson is the fourth candidate in the GOP field to say “no” to the debate, according to an article by Sam Stein at The Huffington Post. Apparently the debate will still take place, despite its limited participants, on Sept 27th. The poor GOP showing at Morgan State University continues a trend by Republican candidates, who have had frequent absense at minority voter forums. If you’d like to know more, here’s the link to The Hunffington Post’s article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/09/17/thompson-refuses-to-debat_n_64744.html

Wikipedia's in the Mix

As I was reading the newspapers this week, I came across several articles discussing wikipedia.org's role in the 2008 Election.
"Everyone who logs on to wikipedia.org can be an editor, prompting thousands of political junkies, including more than a few campaign aides, to lock swords over whether the real name of Fred Thompson, 65, is "Freddie" and whether John McCain is a liberal, moderate or conservative Republican," according to an article from The Telegraph. This news disheartened me, why are voters arguing about such details as whether or not Fred Thompson's real name is Freddie or about John Edwards $400 haircuts? I understand people want to know the most they can about candidates before making a decision in the 2008 Election, but arguing over things like that seems trivial. They should be more concerned with what the candidates' positions are on issues like the War in Iraq or health care.

A little behind

So I'm a little behind-this is my first blog post-ever. It's probably strange ,but for some reason this project has given me anxiety. I've never been one to keep a journal and I only speak up in class when I have something that I feel is important to say. I'm part of the group of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, which I researched online like the rest of my group. I was having trouble figuring out what to write about, however, so I decided to look at yahoo's news to see if there was any inspiration to be found. The first article I saw was about a German politcian, Gabriele Pauli, who has suggested that marriage should automatically dissolve after 7 years. The article described her as a radical politician who is trying to stir-up the traditionally male dominated, Catholic politics in Bavaria. I found this topic very interesting and wanted to see what people's views of it are. Whether or not people would every support it, do you think it would be beneficial for women?
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070921/od_uk_nm/oukoe_uk_germany_politics_marriage

It's 'just' politics.

“What must be made absolutely clear … is that politics is not somehow unreal or false because it is freighted with symbols and visualized in images. We cannot somehow dismiss showmanship, political ritual, speeches, and televised debates as ‘mere politics.’ Politics, after all, is a human or social activity.” Arthur Miller & Bruce Gronbeck, 1994*.

For the past two weeks, our Dissident Media class has been throwing around one particularly hard-to-pronounce word: hegemony**. Partly, this is because we'd been assigned to read Stephen Brookfield's "The Power of Critical Theory,"*** a treatise with an apparent fondness for particularly hard-to-pronounce words.

More importantly, it's because our eyes are being opened to the fact that there are many presumptions and suppositions we make in life that we simply take for granted as the results of a natural course of thinking. Turns out, more often than not, that these natural conclusions are the results of sub-conscious manipulation. We’re socialized to perceive normally illogical or intolerable ideas as acceptable, even ideal, to uphold the social, civil, and financial interests of the ruling group- i.e., the hegemon.

Is it much of a stretch then to wonder if we’re also being socialized to uphold the political interests of the hegemon? Political apathy runs rampant in this country. It wouldn’t take much for me to convince you of that. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that politicians can’t be trusted, and neither can the game. ‘It’s just politics,’ many say.

Just politics. Why is it that instead of demanding more, we decide to expect less from the process? Who made the decision that lowering our expectations was the way to go, and why are so many buying into it?

Is America ‘just’ a land of pessimists? No. Apathists? Doubt it. Americans are frustrated. That’s a given… but that’s no excuse to give up. We need to channel our frustration into revamping the political process in this country; we need to take it back from the consultants, the corporations, and the PR personnel.

It's time we step up and assume a bigger role in the show.







* http://www.wfu.edu/~louden/Political%20Communication/poltitle.html
** http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=Hegemony&x=0&y=0
*** http://www.amazon.com/Power-Critical-Theory-Liberating-Learning/dp/0787956015

Prominent Republican Candidates Snub Debate Hosted by Minorities

Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson have refused to participate in a forum hosted by outspoken black journalist Tavis Smiley. Smiley had this to say:

“The frontrunners, specifically Mr. Romney, Mr. McCain and Mr. Giuliani, have said to us they will not be on stage at Morgan State University on September 27th. All the Democrats showed up in June, but the front running Republicans have said they will not be there. They have also told Univision that they will not be there for the Hispanic debate. So, collectively, what the Republican frontrunners have told both black and brown Americans is that we don't appreciate you, don't value your issues and you're not a priority to us."

Newt Gingrich criticized fellow Republicans for their apparent lack of enthusiasm for minority hosted events:

“For Republicans to consistently refuse to engage in front of an African American or Latino audience is an enormous error."

“I hope they will reverse their decision and change their schedules. I see no excuse — this thing has been planned for months, these candidates have known about it for months. It’s just fundamentally wrong. Any of them who give you that scheduling-conflict answer are disingenuous. That’s baloney.”

All American Presidential Forum on PBS
Moderated by Tavis Smiley
Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD)
Republican Debates Thursday September 27th 2007
9-10:30 PM ET
The event will be televised live on PBS and simultaneously Webcast on pbs.org.

Noam Chomsky on the Media

After reading Stephen Brookefield's Critical Learning Theoryfor class I decided to look up some videos (Part I and Part II) of Noam Chomsky and his thoughts on the media. He seemed to be in support of alternative forms of press and explained that technology and the cheaper printing options of today have made it easier for these kinds of publications to exist rather than forty years ago. Chomsky who wrote a book on the idea of Manufacturing Consent spoke of the censorship even he, as a media critic, has received in the American media. One of the most deliberate examples he cites happened with the National Public Radio. Being a American University student I found this very interesting, particularly considering the liberal reputation of the station. I personally, am skeptical of the "liberal" media, anyway. I just thought these videos would be of interest to others, in the class as well. Also if anyone is interested, another less dense criticism of the media by Chomsky is Media Control:The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda. It's only about one-hundred pages, and its pretty quick read.

"Attack" Ad Controversy: Should Petraeus MoveOn?

On September 10, left-wing political group MoveOn ran a full-page ad in the New York Times criticizing General Petraeus’ handling of the war in Iraq. They accused him and the Bush administration of using only selective data to create the illusion of military success in Iraq.

President Bush and Congress were quick to respond with condemnation for MoveOn, painting the ad as an unpatriotic attack on the brave men and women fighting for democracy in the Middle East. The Senate even went so far as to pass an amendment 72-25 to repudiate MoveOn for the strike.

But does anyone remember the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? In 2004, the group of veterans claiming to have served with John Kerry during the Vietnam War ran several hostile TV ads against him, portraying him as fraudulent and unfit to lead. In truth they distorted his military record and many individual members of SBVT had strong ties to the Republican Party and 2004 Bush campaign.

Many of the same Republicans that are now condemning MoveOn were content to stand by while a Democrat was attacked on an even greater scale. They need to make up their minds—are they against personal attacks or not? Or does it just depend on whether the injured party is their friend or enemy? It is pure political motivation that caused the Senate to formally scold a group for a newspaper ad. Surely they can find a more pressing and significant issue to focus on.

Hello World! I'm running for president!


Ok so I know this was last week's news but I feel that Fred Thompson's announcement on the Jay Leno Show should be looked at a bit closer. We have come to a point in political campaigns when and where you announce your presidency is critical to your perception as president. Fred Thompson was extremely clever to announce his bid in the race the same night as the Republican debate. Coincidence? I think not! He was able to hog all of the media attention away from the other candidates running for president - a strategy played to perfection. Congrats Fred Thompson. I'm sure you were enjoying your bowl of cheerios, smiling as you read the paper the morning after your announcement. Don't you love politics?

Puppies for Everyone if You Vote for Me!

http://www.hillaryclinton.com/ This is where I began my research for this week’s blog. And in between the heartwarming photos of the senator stroking the face of an ailing child and the booming “Join Team Hillary!” ads, I saw it. Top 10 Reasons to Support Hillary. I was mildly intrigued, so I clicked the fatal link button which led me straight to a page of empty promises. “To end the War with Iraq,” “To restore America’s standing in the world and repair our alliances,” “To create good jobs for middle class Americans,” were some of her claimed goals. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d be overjoyed to see any one of these fulfilled; they are beautiful ambitions. But honestly, I’ve heard it all before. It’s as if all over again I’m witnessing Senator John Kerry weakly shaking his thumb (as he was so fond of doing) and making empty claims left and right about America’s future.
As I carefully read through each of the reasons I imagined myself sitting in a crowd of students, listening to my comrades and fellows make claims about a jazzy new snack machine for the cafeteria, or a pool for the middle of the soccer field. I couldn’t help but feel that Hillary might be just like them – making empty claims to gain support. What of these ten things might she really accomplish? What might any of these candidates really accomplish?? This is when it becomes tricky for the voters. It’s too easy to look at a “Top 10” of this sort and be satisfied. It is our right and duty as able bodied voters to seek out each candidate and investigate their true political standpoint.
For this reason, I urge all voters to seek out the unheard information. Uncover the truth in our nation’s most dissident forms of media. And be sure your “Top 10” reasons are good, because four years is a hell of a long time.

Lincoln and Douglas: Long Gone Master Debaters

When one makes an attempt to watch the presidential debates of today it is almost as if they fall right in line with the litany of reality shows and game shows that plague the airwaves. It is clear now that the "selling" of a candidate has risen over the importance of the issues talked about. I am not entirely sure of all of the causes for the deterioration of our presidential debates but one that i am sure of is the media.
In 1858 senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas made an agreement to have a series of seven debates. These debates are entirely different than what you will find now. The candidates were not merely trying to impress, they were trying to display their respective ability to share ideas with the public. The debates did get wide ranging attention from the entire nation, but it was mostly newspapers and word of mouth that spread the news. For this reason many people had to actually sit down and read the transcripts to be informed. Although today this option still exists, television has reinvented the world of debate. Now that candidates are able to reach much wider audiences their answers must be easy to recall and easy for the audience to remember. These dumbed down debates are achieving their goal of reaching mass voters but at the same time they are misinforming them by presenting generic personalities and facades in an attempt to gather as many votes as possible.
Since these debates have become more entertainment than a useful tool of government it accomplishes more negative than positive. The voters that are informed do not take them seriously and the uninformed do, so it becomes a battle of numbers instead of knowledge.

Is the campaign "too nasty, too soon?"

So as I was struggling to find inspiration for what I was going to write about, I stumbled upon CNN.com and saw the side bar for their political ticker and the title read: "Ticker: Is '08 race too nasty, too soon?" I've never followed elections very closely and I'm not a savant of the political realm so this is definitely not my area of expertise to say the least. However, the "low blows" that have been dealt by different parties come at a time where there is over a year until the actual elections. I thought this was really interesting in relation to the purpose of our blog. If meaningful political debates were more common would the "low blows" during the political campaign lessen? Or would the frequent meetings make the conversation so informal that it would be the perfect setting to make personal references to harm the other opponents campaign?

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/

Is Religion that important?


There was a video posted this week on Yahoo! News about Fred Thompson and whether or not he belongs to a church. This interested me because is it really that important? Yes, I know candidates and their religion has an important influence on some states (i.e.: the Bible Belt) but is our President’s faith really crucial to our nation as a whole? So far, religion has not played a crucial role in the 2008 election. The current Democratic and Republican front runner candidates are Clinton and Giuliani, and from the voters’ perspective, these two candidates are viewed as the least religious. Ironically, Romney’s beliefs in his religion, Mormonism, seem very disadvantageous to his political standing because voters view him as ultra-religious. In the past, it has been seen as important for the Presidential candidates to have strong religious beliefs because many political issues are based around religion, for example: gay marriage, abortion, stem cell transplants… Voters have previously be in favor of the candidate with similar religious views to theirs, but a recent survey now states “that candidates for the White House need not be seen as very religious to be broadly acceptable to the voting public” (http://pewforum.org/surveys/campaign08/). The government has always been adamant about separating church and state, so why is it so crucial whether or not our Presidential candidates belong to a church or not? Does religion really have a strong impact on which candidate you will vote for, or is it more about their stance on political issues and their intentions if elected as President?

http://pewforum.org/assets/images/246-1.png --> New Poll: How Religious Is...

Jodie Foster's pissed... and she's not going to take anymore of it

i recently saw jodie foster's new movie, The Brave One.... don't expect to be intellectually stimulated but go prepared to see alot of personal violence as well as alot of personal transformation: jodie's performance is evocative and honest... more importantly though, her portrayal of victim-turned-victimizer reminded me of the increasing number of female bad-asses in hollywood over the last few years. the strong, heroic woman is a popular figure in movies and television it seems.

and perhaps that's exactly what we need in politics. our first female speaker has helped pave the way for healthcare and budget reform, a feat democrats were largely incapable of doing during the 12 years prior. and with just over a year before the 2008 presidential elections, another strong, heroic woman is growing in popularity: in a recent cbs poll, 43% of responders said they'd vote for hillary clinton if it came down to a vote between her, barack (22%) and edwards (16%).... compared to march when the numbers were 36%, 28% and 18% respectively, it's safe to say that hillary is gaining popularity.

but is she gaining integrity? her push to repeal don't ask don't tell and her clear statement that she does not believe homosexuality is immoral tell me she is. arguably, the woman is the crux of a "traditional" family and a strong, heroic woman is the crux of prosperous family. hillary clinton is in a unique position to unite this country through bipartisan support for gay rights because she is both retail politican and proud mother. she's made some progress already, but she still has a long way to go if she wants my vote.

History In The Making: The Free Debate

On May 3, 2007 the Obama campaign sent a letter to Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Howard Dean regarding a measure to make all Democratic Presidential debates free to view after the actual event. The campaign urges Dean to make these debates available by either placing them in the public domain, or licensing them under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license. They state that by making the debates more readily available, without charge, a broader audience of Americans will be able to participate in the politics honing in on the younger generation of voters. In fact, the Obama campaign acknowledges that the Internet is becoming an important medium for political speech. The letter to the chairman was actually written as a supportive response to a letter sent to the DNC from "a bipartisan coalition of academics, bloggers and Internet activists" who believed that the measure would be incredibly beneficial to the public sector.
Following Obama's letter, Edwards and Dodd also sent messages in support of the measure. On May 5th, a huge breakthrough occured when CNN decided to televise the June debates and make them available to the public for free without restrictions. The RNC took a different standpoint entirely however, and refused to respond to the call. In fact FOX decided against making the debates free to the public.
Overall, this victory with the Democrats has made a major breakthrough for Internet bloggers, academics, and the American public as a whole. Within this small victory lies a greater issue. The victory proves that the Internet has become an increasingly important medium used by the American public. It also raises the idea that through blogs, letters, petitions, etc. the everyday person can make changes occur.

John McCain on Drugs...and Education

Without further ado, I present two candidates of the 2008 presidential race - Hillary Clinton and John McCain - and their positions on a topic that students are sure to find relevant...education!!
(For a list of all the candidates and their stances on education --> click here).
Every American feels the effect of this issue through taxes and policies developed at all levels of government, whether it be local, state, or national.
It's pretty clear that America could use a strong educational reform, but just throwing money at the problem like we have been doing won't solve anything - it's like sweeping the dust under the rug. A disastrous governmental plan to reform our educational system, and a good example of a money-waster is the No Child Left Behind Act (check out The Onion's take on this).
Both John McCain and Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the bill in 2001, however Hillary has changed her stance on this issue since then. McCain said in a speech in Tempe, Arizona in 2006 that NCLB "requires a review to measure its full efficacy," and claimed the act was a "great start."
Clinton on the other hand, is disappointed in the bill's under-funding, claiming the bill hasn't practiced what it initially preached. She is for a complete revamping of the bill.

I'm going to jump topics here to vouchers. Vouchers are the American way of promoting competition in our educational system which is typically very monopolistic (meaning parent's have little or no choice about where they want to send their children to public school). Vouchers are tax-funded, and allow a parent to send their kid(s) to a school of their choosing.
McCain supports the use of vouchers, and believes they increase motivation of schools to improve in order to prevent losing students.
Clinton is against voucher programs, maintaining that they compete with funding that would otherwise be given directly to schools for improvements. (That's the idea. The schools make the money back if they have more students.)
McCain and Clinton have different opinions on the means of improving our educational system, but their ends are the same. McCain believes competition and student-teacher evaluations (NCLB) will force schools to improve, whereas Clinton believes that increasing the funding will work its own wonders.

Don't miss this --> John McCain on Drugs

-Chris

Don't Tase Me, Bro!


As many of you might remember, on November 14th, 2006, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, an Iranian-American UCLA student, was brutally tasered by campus police. Tabatabainejad reportedly refused to show his student identification card in the UCLA Powell Library when campus police arrived to complete night security rounds. Tabatabainejad was ordered to vacate the premise, yet when he didn’t immediately do so, additional UCLA officers were called in and the taser came out. Video captured at the scene showed the officers tasering Tabatabainejad at least five times and reports later suggested that the taser was used until it reached its “drive stun” capacity, which causes pain without incapacitating the target.

After watching the chilling footage, it’s surprising that this event didn’t ignite some widespread awareness. Ironically enough, the officer that tasered Tabatabainejad, Terrence Duren, was knighted “UCLA Officer of the Year” back in 2001, and following the tasering incident, he only suffered a 90-day suspension.

It never seizes to amaze me how differently power can affect people. For instance, back in 1996 when I was appointed supervisor of arts and crafts in my Cub Scout den (we were not exactly the most macho den to say the least, but we made some impressive holiday magnets), the power certainly got to my head. Before I even knew it, I found myself dictating who had access to the feather and bead decorations. While I never exactly whipped out a taser and set my amateur craft-making peers straight, the ability to impose by authority was always somewhat tempting.

Three days ago, power got to the heads of University of Florida police when Andrew Meyer, a fourth-year student, acted a fool at a Constitution Day forum with Senator John Kerry. At the forum, each student was able to ask Kerry one question, yet Meyer decided to savor his moment in the limelight and aggressively ask three
arguably controversial questions:

1). Why did Kerry concede the 2004 presidential election before results were tallied and despite allegations of election irregularities?

(Based on the findings of Greg Palast’s 2006 book Armed Madhouse, which Meyer held in his hand during the forum)

2). Why doesn’t Kerry support the movement to impeach George W. Bush?

3). Were Kerry and Bush members of the Yale University secret society called Skulls and Bones?

After Meyer condescendingly threw out his questions, his microphone was cut off. Two university police were ordered by the event organizers to seize Meyer, and in doing so, they pulled him down the auditorium as he shouted “Help!” and “What’d I do?!” numerous times.

Kerry, carefully still perched on the auditorium, said “That's all right, let me answer his question.”

By the time that the two university police officers had dragged Meyer to the back of the auditorium, two more officers joined in, wrestled him to the ground and attempted to handcuff him. Next, the officers threatened Meyer to either stop resisting arrest, or he would be tasered. Meyer began to beg for the officers to let him go and desperately pleaded, "Don't tase me, bro! Don't tase me!” Seconds thereafter, Officer Nicole Lynn Mallo drive-stunned Meyer in the shoulder, leaving him helplessly crying in pain. I would not know what to do with myself if someone actually called me “bro,” but I do know that taser would not have been involved. Meyer was then escorted by police and detained overnight in the Alachua County Jail, where he was charged with resisting an officer an officer and disturbing the peace.

What did Kerry do throughout the altercation, you might ask? He played it safe and nervously stated, “Officers, can we… folks… Hey folks, I think that if everybody just calms down, that this…” Later on after the forum awkwardly wrapped up, Kerry issued a statement the day after that read:

“In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way. I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention. I asked the police to allow me to answer the question and was in the process of responding when he was taken into custody. I was not aware that a taser was used until after I left the building. I hope that neither the student nor any of the police were injured. I regret enormously that a good healthy discussion was interrupted.”

Not aware of the tasering, John? Those blood curdling screams, moans and cries must have just been for kicks. I know that’s how I get attention when I need help at CVS. What Kerry should have done was step up to the police and defend Meyer’s first amendment rights. After all, Kerry repeatedly stated during the arrest and tasering that, “It’s okay! I will answer his question.” Rather than presenting himself as a liberal sage willing to humor the crazy kid’s question, Kerry should have discarded his political status and used the microphone for a better purpose than mumbling, “Officers, can we… folks…” Until the social gap between politicians and the public is bridged, the notion of the politician will continue to carry an air of coldness and corruption.

You might be wondering how this is remotely humorous. Despite the “Don’t tase me, bro!” line, there is nothing particularly side-splitting about Meyer’s plight. What was funny, though, was Kerry’s reaction to the mess. His fumbling response to an innocent -- if mildly stupid -- student being brutally tasered for asking perfectly reasonable questions was priceless and very characteristic of how most politicians would have reacted to such an incident. Kerry could have done a lot more than just idly pretend that the horrors that were occurring mere yards away in fact weren’t. In my personal opinion, Kerry should have been a true bro and stage dived and crowd surfed his way to the scene of the tasering and rescued Meyer.

A Nice Start, but needs to go further

I like the idea of archiving, but still, 30 posts a week is still a lot of stuff to read through, especially trying to implement the idea of having teasers (bits of info on certain blogs) for each section/topic. Since I don't have access to this at the moment, or unaware if I do, so I can not get rolling on this. This just seems logical to me, but if people think otherwise, let me know.

September 20, 2007

Beautiful Graffiti


I get bored easily. Things look bland, sound stale, and generally can't hold my interest. Unless there's some real soul in them.

The site is looking better, but, it's not quite perfect, at least not for what we want to do. It needs personality, like our politicians. We need some beautiful graffiti, a barrage of images and sounds. But not random images and sounds, but things with content and meaning. We need to take both our design and our content to the next step. Though that is frustratingly hard to do with Blogger. Maybe it's just a microcosm for America. We're given tools to make things, but lack the creativity. We have politicians that can speak, but lack meaning behind their words. Are we becoming like that? Are we just following the path of what we are expected to based on our position? Do we protest because we're supposed to? Do we write a blog to voice opinions that will get lost in the flow because that is what everyone with an opinion is expected to do? I don't know. But I know that if we're going to make a something out of this blog we need to have an attitude to match. We need to look the part, sound the part, and have the content to get noticed...and appreciated.

Archiving

To make things easier to access, we will now have a weekly archive.

Living By Their Own Rules

In the September 3rd edition of TIME Magazine, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivers a quote about how he will not run for President. It caught my eye because this is exactly the type of man we need in the White House. How ironic. The quote reads: "Nobody's going to elect me President of the United States. What I'd like to do is to be able to influence the dialogue. I'm a citizen."

Mayor Bloomberg is a citizen. President Bush is a citizen. All these people in so-called power are citizens of the United States and are under the same laws as we are. So, why are they keeping us hidden from this decision-making process? Why can't these people talk to us like human-beings, on the same level? These people in power are in their big Congress buildings in their fancy chairs, and not listening to us because they're not trying to.

What I'd love to see is some ordinary guy off the street be able to go into Congress and speak his mind and actually have it mean something.

Mayor Bloomberg has the right idea; he's a citizen and knows that the dialogue process is flawed. I don't know about you, but... Bloomberg '08!

Debate Questions

Last week I merely pointed out that the debates of the 21st century do not have nearly as much influence and prestige as the Lincoln- Douglas debates. This week I would like to discuss how the current debate format is a disgrace to America.
The Lincoln-Douglas debates took place in 1858, the main issue being whether or not slavery was to continue in the United States. This era was a monumental point in the history of the United States; the secession of half of the country, a Civil War, the destruction of the former Southern way of life, and the reconstruction. These are the type of topics included in curriculums all over the United States from elementary education through high school.
However, the issues we face today are also vast. It was just six years ago our country was attacked by terrorists on Sepetember 11th and we still have armed forces overseas fighting the War on Terror. Social issues such as abortion, health care, and illegal immigration also prevail. We are now in an era that will be frequently studied and analyzed in the future. The current debate format is an insult to the vast issues the United States faces today. Presidential candidates should have more time to talk about their plans for America’s future, not be constrained to a minute or so. They should be allowed to address these issues (I mentioned the ones I think most Americans want to hear about, though I know it’s particular to each person) and not be forced to answer meaningless questions that focus on the past rather than the future.
I am including the link from the September 30, 2004 debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry if you would like to scan some of the questions and answers from last year, since my rant spurred from reading some of it. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/2004_U.S._Presidential_Debate_-_September_30#Question_10

Obama: Hot or Not?

One thing I've noticed from talking to people about the upcoming presidential election is that a lot of girls and guys think Barack Obama is hot. This video makes me laugh and it just proves that a politician can be sexy.

Tuesday, Barack Obama held a speech in DC, people showed up in droves. I did not go as I had rugby practice, however a lot of my teammates skipped practice to go to his speech. Upon return to practice the next day, the most common thing I heard them say was Obama is a good-looking dude. Now if this guy can make a bunch of manly rugby players admit that they think he's cute, it makes me wonder can this guy win the election based on the fact that he's the most attractive candidate?

Even Dick Cheney admitted that he thinks Obama's "an attractive guy."

I decided to ask some female friends of mine their viewpoint on the Obama hot-or-not debate.

The majority of the girls I asked thought Obama was attractive. One even admitted she a little crush on him. Only one girl out of 5 said she didn't get what the big deal was.

Girls want Obama and guys want to be Obama. If men can contain their jealousy, maybe America can have their first attractive president since JFK.

Voting History

The websites of the presidential candidates on both sides of the political spectrum are loaded to the gills with flowery descriptions and passionate videos of the men and women championing their beliefs and promising change of all shapes and sizes. What those websites don't have however, is the candidates voting history.

Hillary Clinton's site, http://www.hillaryclinton.com/, is quick to boast of her lifelong commitment to "strong advocacy for children," but says little in all the flowery prose of what she's actually done. Some description is provided, but there is little in the way of substantive information, and almost nothing of what Clinton has and has not voted for during her time in the United States Senate.

The same appears to be true of every other candidate's site. Fred Thompson's site, http://fredfile.fred08.com/, posts a number of video blogs by the former Senator. One such video is his address of the problems and decaying state of medicare, for which he speaks of the need for reform, but seems uninterested in giving any explanation of how or what kind. The closest it got to his voting record was that, had he been in the Senate in 2003, he would have voted against the medicare bill.

A lot of useful information appears on the candidates sites, it's true. Also true is the fact that a candidate's voting record is easily accessible. But the public deserves more than canned answers and vague descriptions of how the candidates feel.

Those who've served in the Congress, which is the bulk of candidates, should have their voting histories and an explanation for why the voted how they did on each and every bill should be readily available on every website. Instead, we get half truths and vague promises on sites like that of Mike Huckabee, http://www.mikehuckabee.com/, and John Edwards http://johnedwards.com/. We should also have readily available a full list of what bills governors and former governors running for the presidency have vetoed and made other actions on. The candidates should have nothing to hide, instead they should embrace their voting history, give their justifications, it is essential to the public's understanding of how the candidates feel.

Who Will Save You Now?

“How dare you make such unpatriotic comments,” was a comment made about my last blog post. If you do not remember, I argued that Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani needs to stop mentioning 9/11 every chance he gets and talk more about the change he is going to bring. And apparently I was not the only thinking about this. Amanda Ripley wrote an article in Time Magazine, “Behind Giuliani’s Tough Talk,” which seemed to be in direct response to my blog post. Amanda explained that because Giuliani has decided to focus on terrorism, 9/11, and his first hand experience dealing with both he “has raised an interesting question. What does it actually mean to understand terrorism?”

There is no question that the Iraqi War and terrorism will be two of the most debated issues on the campaign trail in 2008. The American people want to feel safe, and I don’t know if they will be safer with Rudy Giuliani as their President as they are with President Bush. So who is going to make them safer? Two candidates, who do not even stand chance, stick out in my mind. John McCain is the first. As the article said McCain was a Navy pilot for more than 20 years and is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. McCain has one problem; he has already had his chance. He is the, been there done that candidate. The second choice is Senator Joseph Biden. He is so over looked. Since 1973 Mr. Biden has served this country in the Senate, and he is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, a committee in which is has been in for over ten years and has gained tremendous respect in foreign relations and national security knowledge. If you are looking for real safety forget Clinton, Obama, and Giuliani. Biden has already proved himself.

Why Are We so Different?

At twenty-one, our drinking age is higher then that of any other western country. For some reason in this country we have come to the idea that kids should exist in a relative drug free bubble until the age of twenty-one, expecting that the over protected youth will then be able to somehow cope with the outside world.

However by the time we turn twelve in many states one is able to obtain a hunting license. On our sixteenth birthday we are able to drive a car. Once eighteen is reached we are able to marry, vote, have an abortion, purchase/perform in pornography, serve on a jury, be executed, and serve in the military. I've always wondered why I am allowed to own an M-16, but not to drink a beer. To me one sounds far more dangerous then the other.

Don't get me wrong I do believe there should be a drinking age, just not twenty-one. Most of the statistics cited by groups such as MADD largely pertain to those who start drinking before the age of fifteen. In this case of course it becomes absurd that a middle school student fresh into puberty should not be allowed to freely drink.

I am firmly in the camp that believes responsible drinking comes from parental guidance. From personal experience I can tell you that the people who were transported freshman year were not the ones who had tolerated alcohol. They were always the ones who, once escaping parental supervision, had gotten a hold of alcohol for the first time and had been unknowing in how to handle it. Any like minded individuals should check out this website for rational reasons against the current drinking age.

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Candidates and their blogs

I am new to the world of both blogging and politics. I think it is important to follow politics but I find it very hard because I am always so busy. The last thing I want to do after a long day of classes or work is to start talking politics. I chose the Candidate positions II group because I want to become more informed on politics and more importantly on the presidential candidates. Instead of searching long and hard on the internet for issues surrounding the candidates, I thought it would be best to go straight to them. I want to take a better look at each candidates website and monitor their positions on press issues, debate issues, democratic discourse issues, and comments on the media. After observing their websites, I will then turn to news sources to see how the candidates are portrayed in the media.

I started out thinking that I would examine all of the presidential candidates websites... But this was taking much longer than I anticipated. So I decided that for this post I would only cover 4 candidates, 2 democrats and 2 republicans. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani were the presidential candidates whose websites I looked at. I was impressed by all of them. I had to literally sign in, meaning I gave my name, email, and zip code, to get into all of them except for Rudy Giuliani's. What a great way to keep in touch with supporters. I was surprised to see that all the candidates had their own blogs established. Is it necessary then for other independent organizations to be asking candidates to respond to their blog sites? I'm also curious as to if we could link our blog to all of the candidates blogs? If it's possible then I think it'd be a great way to monitor the candidates.

I will definitely need to spend some more time on these websites to get more information about the candidates. This was just a brief overview of how accessible the candidate's positions are to voters. Spend a little time each week looking at these sites and one can stay informed. I've provided a link to Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Giuliani's pages if anyone is interested. Furthermore, for those of you that know more about blogging, is it possible to link our blog to their blogs?

Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton
John McCain
Rudy Giuliani