September 14, 2007

Getting Back.

I am sat on my computer for numerous hours pondering what I was going to blog about. I can imagine that I am not alone in this. Personally, I am not truly inspired by the topic of this blog. I have to admit that politics bore me and my interest is quickly lost.
I would like to mention one thing though, one of my summer readings was Work Hard, Study and… Keep out of Politics by James A. Baker, III, I will let the title speak for itself. Here is an excerpt from his book:
“Disagree agreeably. Listen respectfully. Treat everyone, allies and adversaries alike, with dignity. Return phone calls. Count the votes. When you’re ahead, call the question. When you’re behind, work harder. If you can’t get everything you want, get what you can. When you can’t win, fall back and fight another day.
Respect the press and get to know reporters. Talk to them on background most of the time, but on the record with necessary. Help them understand the administration’s position. And never lie to them.”
Taking these words from one of my personal heroes lets get the presidential candidates to talk and get back to the real issues. Let’s forget about who Oprah is voting for, who has raised the most money this week and get the candidates to talk about homeland security, the war, social security… The issues that matter.


A few things I've noticed about the blog. We definitely need to put in up categories so it is not one giant string to posts for people to read (or not read). Second, I was thinking about having an opening page with the sub-sections and giving a bit of a tease as to what you would see in each sub-section for that particular week. I think that would be really cool and would wet peoples' appetites for the blog. This blog should look good and function well and I think these additions would make these goals possible.

A New Kind of Debate

Setting out on my first blog post I was set upon finding the strangest, most off the wall or amusing debate fun facts that I could find. While doing some research however, I stumbled upon an interesting press release about a group intent on making presidential candidates more approachable to the general public. According to the piece, in 2004 Cranium, Inc. (the company responsible for the games Cranium, Hullabaloo, and other family friendly games) invited both Democratic and Republican candidates and their families to a Cranium Turbo Edition Game Night. The goal of the evening was to provide Americans a look at the candidates in a more casual, laid back respect. The questions were not rehearsed and off-the-wall. According to the Cranium executives in charge of the event, the goal of the event was to bring Americans a fresh new outlook at the candidates. Instead of stuffy suits and pre-meditated debate questions, the candidates were allowed to be fun and off-the-wall. Personally, I think that this is a great idea. We hear candidates repeat their speeches from word for word from one city to the next. Often Robert Redford’s character from the 1972 film The Candidate comes to my mind. In one clip he sits in the car reciting the same speech over and over, driving himself insane. These new debates might be a great way to let the American public see how our candidates really feel about issues when they may speak about them in a more casual setting. Isn't it about time for us to see our candidates in a more human light? Let's hear about what they have to say when the speeches and carefully anticipated responses are gone!

Should we narrow the field?

Can meaningful political debate really be conducted between eight people?

The formal debates with the eight democratic presidential hopefuls have been progressing. This year has seen ten so far, the last being in Florida on September 9. But with eight men and women all vying for the spotlight, it has been hard to distinguish each person’s take on every issue.

In July, John Edwards approached Hilary Clinton onstage at one of these debates and proposed that they should arrange something with a “more serious and smaller group.” The way he framed the proposal was to encourage more serious discussion.

Lesser-known candidates like Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd have taken issue with his plans to exclude them from future debate. Kucinich went so far as to send letters to both Edwards and Clinton, challenging them to one-on-one debates. Neither responded in the affirmative.

So is it a good idea to debate with a smaller group? Probably. But not at the cost of excluding other contenders. The people have to know all of their options to make the most informed decision.

A Nation with the Fidgets

In a recent article, from The Nation, Nicholas von Hoffman expressed his dissatisfaction over the status of the American political debate. As he put it, “What passes for a political debate in the United States today is little more than dueling sound bites.”

His article, subtlety titled America’s Idiotic Political Debates, mentions the good old days, when the media griped about politicians who talked too much during the debates.

“If you go back to the time of H.L. Mencken or Mark Twain, the educated classes also complained that American politicians were divided into two classes, vapid windbags and screeching baboons. Yet the country prospered.

“If things are worse today it is because the windbags are gone.”

Things have changed greatly since the days of the Lincoln-Douglass Debates, when the first candidate spoke for an hour, the second spoke for an hour and a half, then allowed the first candidate an half hour rebuttal. During the recent CNN/Youtube debates, Presidential hopefuls were lucky to speak for more than 30 seconds before being shushed by distractively attractive moderator Anderson Cooper.

Although the Youtube format was a great step forward in regards to getting the public involved with the political process, not much debate actually occurred. A return to the long-winded debates of yore may be too much, but can we really even call these half-a-minute Q/A sessions debates anymore?

“In defense of their idiotic political displays, television executives and campaign operatives apparently believe that a minute of speech uninterrupted by either a murder or a copulation scene is about all TV viewers can take. America, they insist, suffers from attention-deficit disorder. It's a nation with the fidgets.” –Hoffman, The Nation

Here’s the link again:

a bit of background

I've been looking at some scholarly atricles and essays that apply to our presidential debate blog. Even with the rise of sites like Youtube, television still dominates how many Americans watch candidates debate, and in turn form their opinions on how to vote. So I thought it would be interesting to look at how this precedent was set. The Kennedy/Nixon debates in 1960 were the point at which the electoral process moved into the livingrooms of Americans across the nation. An article by Liette Gidlow at takes a look at the rise of the television era of debate. The link:

Power to the Status Quo

The questions go unanswered. The hard hitting ones go unasked. By most, the debates even go un-noted. This is the sad reality of political debate in today’s America. Everyone knows it, and many are ready for change. Some have made complaints, and others, suggestions. But why exactly then is it that political candidates are the ones so resistant to changing the format of debate?

Perhaps it’s because politicians are salesmen, pitching a product as abstract as themselves. It isn’t a stretch to conclude that a salesman selling an abstract product has to be even more slick and sly than one who pitches a concrete one. Regrettably enough, this would explain why candidates are spending millions each year on campaign managers and PR personnel. Each member of the campaign team is a salesman, from the politician down to the lowliest intern. The thing about pitching a product is that it’s all about control.

Whether candidiates like it or not, times are changing, and people are clamoring to be spoken to, instead of spoken at, as YouTube shaker James Kotecki put it in his recent visit to our Dissident Media class. In today’s world, information control is no longer limited to a select few. The advancement of the Internet has excused nothing from the realm of public discussion, and true, public political discussion is exactly what’s being called for. While the recent Democratic ‘YouTube’ debates are a baby step in the right direction, the format of debate has largely gone unchanged since the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate. If tomorrow’s political hopefuls want to be taken seriously and, maybe more importantly, sincerely, they’d do well to do away with the thirty second sound bytes and to embrace, however reluctantly, the changing face of political debate that is incontestably headed their way.

The Politician Suit

Recently, I did a little research on one of the candidates for the upcoming election, a guy by the name of Fred Thompson. At first, this guy seemed to be something original, unique from the usual politician full of bs. I have never gotten into politics because honestly politicians really annoy me. Maybe I'm a little uneducated but it doesn't matter what party they come from, they all seem to be the same. Politics seems to be very monotonous as it always a white protestant man with white or grey hair blathering on about something he means to do but never actually gets around to doing it.

Anyway, back to Fred Thompson, Thompson's website is On this website you can check out videos on his life, his political accomplishments, of which some are impressive and his announcement that he intends to run for presidency.

I watched most of the videos and was impressed by his employment record, this guy has done everything! Delivered mail, made bikes, been an attorney, acted and been in senate. He really impressed me until I watched his video showing his intention to run for presidency.

Hearing all his ideas just showed me that no matter how interesting a guy is before he runs for president, he will turn into the same old boring politician that I'm used to if he runs for presidency. It's as if people running for presidency are given a politician suit, which completely destroys any outlet for creativity or originality. Thompson is republican and his ideas mirrored those already in place in the Bush administration. I find it annoying that this guy would even think to continue the same way Bush was, when its very clear that this country needs a complete turn around or in 10 years, we're going to be in a very sticky situation.

That's my rant on Fred Thompson, hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know what you think of his website.

Getting everythign up and running

Hey all,

Blogger is a very easy tool for blogging. The tools are very simple. Simply write whatever you like and use the font tools on the top left to spice things up again (like color, font, font size, etc). You can also very easily link anything you'd like into the blog using the link icon (which looks like a chain link over a picture of the globe). The centering aspects are the exact same as in word, and should not be too hard. To embed a picture simply click on the landscape icon next to the spellcheck button. It is just as easy to embed a video by clicking the film icon. Hopefully everything works out well for all of you. Have fun.

Other bloggers interested in same cause

As I approached this first blog entry, I was unsure as to where to go with it. Candidate positions on press issues, debate issues, democratic discourse issues, comments on media? It seems so general, so many things one could say about them. Yet, what to say? I wanted to see if any of the 2008 candidates had any response to Newt Gingrich's demand for meaningful political debates, the social cause of our blog.
So I went to Google and typed in ________(insert politicians name) meaningful political debates and was shocked to find that most of the results I got from Google were of other blogs reporting on how candidates performed in debates or how they thought the debates should be changed to become more meaningful. There were hits for blogs at,,, mainstream media websites, as well as hundreds of other lesser-known and alternative form of media publications. I did find one article on the first page when I searched for "obama meaningful political debates" that wasn't just a blog posting. It was an article from from August 20th that reported on how Obama would be decreasing the amount of debate appearances he would be making after a busy summer,
"saying the demand is just too great. If they agreed to accept every such invitation, the campaign said, there would simply be no time left over for the important things, like, you know, actual campaigning" (Ververs). Here's a link to the article.

Keeping Up Appearances

Super! Looks like we have one marketing-related issue out of the way: this green looks like somebody ate a hefty portion of moss and promptly vomited. So naturally, we must now search deep within ourselves to come up with the perfect color scheme. It might be fun and/or helpful to consider this in terms of epithets, e.g.:

  • Soothing-- think reverting back to your carefree childhood, chamomile tea, warm milk, Mommy, etc. Maybe warm pastels?
  • Funky/Wacky!!-- for some reason, the first colors that comes to mind are the borderline-offensive oranges and purples of Bed Bath & Beyond's line of college furniture, but of course any combination of bold colors would apply here.
  • D.C. Professional-- black, white, know, if we want to cater to a lofty, boring older crowd.

Or not. Whichever.

In any case, feel free to leave a comment if you feel particularly passionate about a certain color (personally, I'm pretty fond of seafoam green and teal) and the suggestion will most certainly be taken into account.

Giuliani: One Hit Wonder

Six years and two days ago we witnessed the worst attack on U.S soil. On Tuesday we commemorated that day and for the first time family members did not read off the names of the victims. Instead it was the rescuers who read the names of the people they could not get too. Hundreds of New Yorkers and people from around the globe stood in the drizzly rain to honor the fallen. Some of the participants included former New York mayor George Pataki, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and former New York City major Rudi Giuliani. Several months ago there was a controversy about Giuliani showing up at the ceremonies. Many families believed that he would turn this date of remembrance into a presidential speech. I agreed.
After 9/11 Giuliani became “America’s mayor.” When he spoke everyone listened, everyone was sympathetic, and everyone was on his side. However, now I feel that he was lost his touch. After all this is the candidate that answers 9/11 to every question. In fact he has become worse than President Bush in reminding us that we should live in fear and buy duct tape and gas masks. So I agreed that he should not have spoke at the ceremony. And although, he did not talk about his candidacy, I believe the main point of the protest was to tell America about his policies. His policies to disregard the American public, build up defense stay the course, and committee more soldiers to uncertain future. It is obvious he has the wrong talking points and if he really wants to talk to us, he needs to stop mentioning 9/11 and start talking about the change he is going to being to the White House.

"You have to be a real, low-life piece of **** to get involved in politics"

Politics and I don't get along anymore. Once a self-proclaimed political junkie, I grew weary of the petty partisanship and idiocy of everyone involved. Political discourse in America is basically non-existent. As I watch the entirety of the political spectrum being devoured by the extremists from both the left and right, finding an independent voice in the media has become an exercise. Whether it's Ann Coulter's book on the 'God-less liberals' or Michael Moore's book on social security, all anyone does is insult each other. The only outlet of (semi) intelligent voices is the internet. But with this brand new technology we're faced with a completely different set of issues. Here there is absolutely no quality control, and no qualifications are necessary. Anyone is able to post their blog, and this is how the truly unbiased and central views can be heard.
The biggest problem we face is reigning in the forces of extremists and promoting the voices of independence beyond the internet to the mainstream news media. Our candidates do little to help this goal. They promote and reinforce the political extremism of the popular culture and, therefore, never focus on the true problems and issues, but on a party and an ideology. Now purely about beating the competition (as opposed to true love of the game) it's a high-stakes game in which there is nothing but total victory for one side. The conservative domination of the political landscape has found its way into the very ideology and institution of the mainstream media. The networks, newspapers, and personalities of the media elite have chosen their sides and it is up to the American people to take the control out of their hands. The voices on the internet, the informed bloggers, are exactly those who, according to our founding fathers, provide a stable and true Democracy. It is their job to promote an independent voice in our media, and help to ensure (and not expose for the sake of exposure) freedom and lawfulness within our government.

Ron Paul: A Politician Idiot?

Upon sitting down at my trusty laptop to compose what would be my very first blog entry, I told myself that of all the presidential candidates, the one I would most certainly avoid writing about would be Republican Representative, Ron Paul. I figured there had been too much discussion about Paul in class, and I wanted to dig deeper into the dark depths of the candidate nation. Unfortunately, my big dreams of unearthing a less mainstream contender were squelched when, in my research, I stumbled upon a rather intriguing statement of Paul’s. According to The News Observer, Paul reportedly stated in an interview with ABC news on Tuesday, September 11, “If we as Republicans want to change things, we have to deal with the authority the president was given -- we have to remove that -- and we have to remove the financing, which we could do.” He continued, "But this tinkering around with how many soldiers are there and whether there's progress or not -- I think it's kind of missing the whole point.”
If assessing the resulting casualties and the calculated progress of an active conflict is not hugely a part of “the point” in a debate about the necessity of a war, especially the one we find ourselves hopelessly trapped in today, then what is? Clearly there are many facets to consider in determining how successful (or not) a conflict resolution is proving to be. But I think Paul would be hard-pressed to find a following for his notion that the number of troops in Iraq and status of the operation’s success are trivial factors in what has become one of the most heated political debates in our nation’s history, the debate about the proclaimed War on Terror.
The important thing to note about this statement is that it is offensive regardless of one’s opinions about continued action in Iraq. Political parties set aside, comments of this nature not only demean the significance of every life that is at stake (not to mention those that have already been lost), but also seek to bury any doubt or future debate about the war’s progress. I think it’s safe to say we can all agree that the question about the Iraq War’s future is and should remain at the forefront of the presidential debates.

Let's make it pretty

Good-golly gumbo green! Floss the spinach that’s in-between your teeth and eat your vegetables because the green has got to go. But don’t get too excited we have lots to do before we’re one of those shiny, moderately attractive, marketable blog sites.

What do we really want our site to feel like? A political whirlwind of red, white & blue or more of a college-style forum about our next door political bigwigs? I have made a list of some things to think about.

Layout: content inside columns, archive organization, tabs
Design: colors, headliner, blogger profiles, graphics

Post your comments on some ideas so the marketing group can get started ;)


If anyone has any specific ideas on improving how we look, just send an email to! Thanks!