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:

Wikipedia's in the Mix

As I was reading the newspapers this week, I came across several articles discussing's role in the 2008 Election.
"Everyone who logs on to 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?

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.


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

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! 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 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?

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” ( 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? --> 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!!
(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


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.