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.


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.

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,, 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,, 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,, and John Edwards 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


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Election Guide

I've come across another great resource (in addition to a fellow blogger's earlier post) for understanding the upcoming election. The New York Times' Election Guide 2008 provides a slew of helpful charts, calendars and candidate testimonials.

The guide offers little commentary -- you can find that on the NYT's politics blog -- but is really invaluable for clarifying candidate's positions by assembling some quotable candidate moments from other news sources.

In true NYT fashion (it's hard to think of an online newspaper that loves interactive maps more), there are also interesting maps that show where candidates' campaign finances come from. These graphics show some figures which should be shocking but probably aren't. For instance, Mitt Romney -- who comes in third for campaign fund-raising at a measly $44.4 million -- has spent $8.9 million of his own money on his campaign.

Interestingly enough, on the election guide site, the "Issues" link is located below "Finances." What does this say about priorities?

Fight Face

Although I doubt that the United States is the only country lacking in exciting political debates, it certainly proves interesting to compare are structured, organized political debates to similar debates in other nations. France for example, which just had a presidential election last May, takes a very different approach to its presidential debates.

As can be seen from this clip, the debate between presidential candidates Segolene Royal and Nicholas Sarkozy was quite heated. The two candidates face each other and in many cases fire questions directly to their opponent. Emotions here seem to run a bit higher than in our presidential debates.

The next clip comes from the British House of Commons. The clip is taken from shortly after Gordon Brown assumed his current position as prime minister. The House of Commons is known to became quite rowdy, and Mr. Brown faces a fair quizzing, in this case from the opposition leader David Cameron.

The third clip is taken from the Australian House of Commons. Prime Minister John Howard and and opposition leader Kevin Rudd blatantly insult each other in this short video.

In comparison to these three clips I have chosen to also include a clip from the presidential debates of 2004.

The difference between the first three clips and the last one is quite shocking. Granted, there are one or two similarities. The French presidential candidates like their American counterparts are situated in a formal setting. However, outside of this, there are very few similarities that can be drawn between the first three clips and the last one. It is unfortunate that political debates in the United States or not as open-ended as debates in other nations. If politicians were forced to face the tough questions Americans would be able to gain a better understanding of each politician's platform. Forcing politicians to answer the tough questions would also make them a hell of a lot more accountable and therefore, possibly, potentially, maybe a little more responsible.

Fool me twice, 2008 edition

Head first into the 'invisible primary' contest, I caught wind of a not-so-fantastic Mitt Romney ad today that read:
"If we're going to change Washington, Republicans have to put our own house in order," Romney says, speaking directly to the camera. "We can't be like Democrats -- a party of big spending. We can't pretend our borders are secure from illegal immigration. We can't have ethical standards that are a punch line for Jay Leno."

Let's dissect this gem, shall we?

"[Republicans] can't be like Democrats -- a party of big spending," begins Romney's litany. However, a look at federal budget deficit numbers since 1970 seems to conclude otherwise. To spare you a painstaking glance at the obvious, the bar graph demonstrates that in 1983, 1992 and 2003, when Republicans were in office, the US budget deficit (adjusted for inflation) was at its highest. Granted, Democrats had their big spenders too. Clinton's shocking budget surplus from 1999 onward occurred, in part, due to Republican congressional support. But the graph, to an extent, proves Romney wrong. The Republicans are just as reckless at spending as their left-leaning brethren. The score: 1-0, simple common sense.

"We can't pretend our borders are secure from illegal immigration," Romney says next. Much as I may dislike the guy, he's correct on this one. The Christian Science Monitor, shattering some hopes and dreams last May, indicated that anywhere from 7 to 20 million immigrants presently live in the US, though official census records estimate there are approximately 8.5 million. Specifics aside, that number is astounding considering how often politicians referenced immigration along the campaign trail.

Yet Romney, who likely experiences a boatload of immigration troubles up in the great state of Massachusetts, said little else on the issue. There was no mention of how the US could secure its borders without disturbing Mexicans' access to the jobs the American economy takes for granted. And certainly, Romney's remarks failed to address a recent ICE report that stipulated it would cost nearly $94 billion to detain and deport all the illegal immigrants currently living in the US (what was that about big spending?). 2-0, informed voters.

Finally, Romney articulates that "We can't have ethical standards that are a punch line for Jay Leno." To a degree, I can't take that away from the man. The biggest problem Americans (ought to) have with their political system is inadequate representation; that partisan politics, when combined with big bureaucracy, seem to upset any notion of political efficacy. But my problem isn't with what Romney said, it's how he intends to accomplish that goal. In my mind, not a single politician on either side of the political fence has done his or her part to clean up Congress' tattered reputation. And perhaps its the traditionalist in me talking, but I see lying to the voting public (what Romeny et. al. do when they mislead those who stare intently at such advertisements) as unethical as hiding thousands of dollars in your freezer.

So, it's 3-0, in that respect. Romney really misses his target. But amidst the same-old same-old that optimistic pundits constantly reassured us we would not see, it really does seem like we've lost, now doesn't it?

Taking It Out of Context

I need voice a concern that was raised after comment on my last blog post: taking quotes out of context.

Have you ever entered into a conversation at the wrong moment and totally misunderstood what was being said?

Here is my point. As students whom are trying to bring about change we need to be careful to read the whole story. We need to be conscious of the context in which things are said and read the whole thing first, than draw conclusions or arguments.

I want our blog to be seen as credible and worthy of people’s attention and hopefully criticism because that means we are doing something right.


Licoln vs. Douglas 'The Smackdown' Pt. 1

In order to attempt to reestablish a more 'meaningful' political debate, in what is considered to be modern day democracy, it is necessary to reflect on a historic political debate dating all the way back to 1858. Yes, ladies and gentlemen we are speaking of the epic smack down that was Abraham Lincoln versus Stephen Douglas.

The first step to creating a good, honest political debate is to gather two or more men with opposing views on a variety of issues, or maybe only one key issue, and have them duke it out, verbally speaking, to try and almost convince each other, and the public, that one way is right, or at least better, than an opposing way. So once Lincoln and Douglas had decided to have these debates they also decided to have one in each of the nine congressional districts in Illinois. That's right folks, nine rounds, battle to the death, for the legislature.

Luckily for our ancestors the style of a formal debate used to be much more free-flowing in which each speaker would have adequate time to say their speeches and really tell the public what their all about. Unlike today where our trained circus animals run around spewing premeditated garbage in our faces, insulting us by thinking we're so naive as to believe these perfectly orchestrated answers are really their own. Not to say politician's are lying, although I'm not saying their not, but they simply are not given an adequate environment where the public can truly listen to what they have to say.


I am part of the humor group so I decided to do some research. I googled "Political humor" and came up with some interesting results.

First of all, I found a hilarious clip from the John Stewart Show. It's a spoof of "Sex and the City," which I love, and it's about America having a female president. I don't know how to put the link in any other way besides to copy-and-paste here it is:

Another clip I thought was funny is when O'Reilly had Colbert on his show:

And when O'Reilly comes on Colbert's show:

I hope these links work!


Politics Today

I honestly can say that I really don't have any idea about what is going on in the world today... In other words, politics really isn't my thing. I took "Writing for Mass Comm." last semester, and we had to read the newspaper every day, so I was caught up back then... However, as of right now I just don't have enough time. As selfish as this sounds, I have my own life to deal with, and I'm pretty busy! Anyway, the point of this entry is just to say that I really need to get more involved with politics, especially with this important upcoming election. I say I'm a democrat, but I really don't have any idea about what the different arguments are. All I know is that after this war and the fear that seems to grip our society today, a change is definitely necessary.
I actually met someone today, he was a customer at the restaurant where I work, and we got to chatting about politics. Being in D.C. and working in a restaurant in Dupont means that I run into a lot of political junkies. I was on my break, so I was wearing normal clothes -- a t-shirt, capris, and flip flops. This is important because he actually said to me "I can look at you and tell you're a liberal hippie -- the flip flops, the hair (it was in a this would identify me as a liberal hippy I'm still trying to figure out...), the bag you're carrying." I wanted to ask..what does that even mean? Is politics getting to be something that we can judge just by looking at someone? Personally, I can't just look at someone and decide that he or she associates with one party or the other. I wasn't offended, I was just confused! I don't even know exactly what I think about Democrats or Republicans! How can he?