Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Absolute Insanity.

You looking to blow a fuse or two? Then it's suggested you check out the short piece by an American University Chaplain here. It's also pasted below, for your viewing horror.

If pure anger was personified and could speak, it would hope that we are driven to write this piece off as absolute piss-poor, uneducated dribble -- but the best approach is probably to use logic and sense to deconstruct such an asinine argument. Also, the writer of this piece is in charge of helping to mold young, vulnerable minds, a truly disturbing thought (even more than the experience of reading the article itself), and the writer is giving speeches on this topic in different spots of the country.

We'll first mention that this "copyrighted" piece has at least two typos-- a sure sign of true care and concern for promoting a healthy message, right? Second, the
credentials listed for this writer are scant at best, and nowhere near where they should be for anyone to consider her an expert on the topic. But speaking of her education, let's
point out that if feminism did not exist in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the majority of women, probably including this writer, would not be writing, or have jobs such as chaplain at a university, or traveling to speak at events in New York City, at least not without the expressed consent of a father or husband. Also, like any ideological movement, Feminism takes various forms and is applied in various ways among various people - it is not one homogeneous creature but an amalgam of many different beliefs and applications. To narrowly define an entire manner of thought with many different aspects and sects inside the movement would be a mistake. There are forms of feminism that take on many "masculine" aspects in order to effect change, however, that is only one sliver in a much larger stump of wood (and let's remember that the definitions of "masculine" and "feminine" are only social constructions, made not by god or nature but pure inherited social expectation).

Feminism is not defined as "pretending to be men," but to receive EQUAL treatment and rights under law that men enjoy. The writer would be correct if she had said the the state of feminism isn't without its problems. Feminism isn't perfect, for the exact reason that it has not succeeded in eradicating the unequal treatment of women, including wage disparity, sexual harassment, reproductive freedom, etc. But, it has made great gains, and without feminism, many problems and inequalities would still exist in American society: including, to name a few:

- no female property rights
- no equal marriage contracts (i.e. LEGAL ownership of women by husbands)
- women voting rights
- slavery (would have been abolished later, because women, especially feminists, influenced the push for emancipation)
- no equal educational opportunities
- no special protections from domestic violence
- no special laws against sexual harassment and rape
- virtually no women's sports, including no funding
- etc.
- etc.
- etc.

The author also proclaims that American Feminism has had widespread negative effects, and has "broken down" not only American society, but the "global societies" that America influences. Here's one society that America has influenced lately: Iraq. And the writer is correct, our view on the rights of women has played a part in the forced societal breakdown of parts of the Iraqi culture through our war in Iraq. Putting aside our need for oil and the threat of jihad and terrorism, Americans get queasy when they hear of the stories of Iraqi women who are stoned, victims of rape, victims of "honor killings" due to the rape, or are forced to wear veils and adhere to strict rules, including forced non-interaction (i.e. complete seclusion) with any males outside the family, etc. Americans, feminists or no, would usually agree that this type of pseudo religious-fundamentalism backed by the Iraqi government translates into enforced oppression. So yes, the idea of female equality, backed by feminist thought is rearing it's ugly head in the Middle East, according to this writer.

Someone once said to me in conversation (paraphrasing) "there aren't many women theologians and writers such that I know off throughout history, but that's good because they had more important things to do," implying that they were taking care of children, etc., and therefore patronizing the historically oppressed roles of women. Setting aside the strange and rampant anger that this quote ignited, it is utterly false. Women have been and will continue to write and think and create -- it is that they do not receive recognition by the greater (mostly male) population. They are chosen to be ignored, quashed, and smothered by the patriarchal pillow that rests squarely at the center of the world's cradle. Feminism isn't about domination of men, or discarding of men, it's about equal footing with men, and recognition of accomplishments free from any association with the accomplisher's sex.

The time needed to fully elucidate the evils of this article would be decades.Hopefully, enough has been said to show it's nature as complete mental turpentine.

The author only potentially gets one thing slightly right --Feminism is still an experiment in imperfection. That's why this article is so insidious-- it hopes to sidetrack any further efforts to improve the situation of women in America and across the world. Here's your movement of zen to show how far we truly still have to go:
"...'in the world as a whole, women comprise 51 percent of the population, do 66 percent of the work, receive 10 percent of the income and own less than one percent of the property."
-UN Conference on Women, 2001.

Here's the upsetting article: (Disclaimer: this article is pure, poisonous, unadulterated, undiluted crap.)

By Kimberly Rogers

Women today face many problems from financial difficulties to divorce to raising children alone, just to name a few. Our purpose here it to provide a place for women to get scriptural and moral support, help with difficulties and information through articles, links and a forum.

Now, more than ever, it is important that women lead this nation and the world out of the mess we have created through Feminism. We created this mess, collectively. Now, we must solve it collectively. The only way out is through our collective return to following Jesus Christ and His Salvation Plan.

The return to a better society starts within each of us individually. Then, we must gently teach those around us what it really means to be FEMININE and not a Feminist. The two terms are mutually exclusive because of how the definition of Feminism evolved.

Feminism is truly at the heart of the breakdown of American society, and by extension, the other global societies that America influences. It is never too late to amend our mistakes, but we must truly begin the process now.

Womanhood, on the other hand, requires that we uplift, nurture and help others. These ideas are foreign to the nature of Feminism. Feminists are not women - they are women pretending to be men. True women have much more to offer than whether we are able to usurp the abilities and natures of men to ourselves. It is much more of a challenge to be a Godly woman than it is to be an ungodly one.

The End Times have arrived. All we need to do is look around us to verify this fact. We must help to save as many people as possible before it is too late. Women must return to prayer and caring for others. The time is coming, very soon, when these active qualities will be needed. There are not enough of these activites or qualities in the world's women today, so we must return to our true femininity and learn all over again what it means to be a woman.

Copyright 2007 - All Rights Reserved

Want true insight? go to the UN commission on the status of women website, here.

Final comment: Yesterday, someone made the suggestion that god and cancer could be given the same name. While many might take offense at such a suggestion, it's articles such as the above that trend the suggestion towards "convincing," or at least "warrants merit."

Monday, February 25, 2008

It Kids You Not

Here's the response M. Snowe just received from Senior Vice President of Anonymous College. See this letter from a previous post to catch up on the word-spewing crassness.This letter is COMPLETELY UNDOCTORED (Including the original spellings). All that has been changed are names, to protect the otherwise unprotectable.

February 25, 2008

Dear M. Snowe,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I may have phrased the question too narrowly but it has generated many thoughtful replies like yours that I am grateful for. I must admit that I am surprised by the fact that because the College asks for money some grads have assumed we are not thankful for all you do as a "man or women for others." It is precisely because we believe in our graduates and all they do to make the world a better place that we ask for money. A College today to remain competitive must beg but so did St. Ignatius so it can't be all that bad. From young graduate like yourself we ask for a monetary gift to help our participation rate. As commercial as that sounds a high participation rate indicates our graduates are satisfied with the College and that indicator helps us to attract other students like you. In addition we use the money we get to help fund the $30M of financial aid we give each year.

Thank you for the reply and God bless,

Senior Vice President of Anonymous College

Commentary: There are at the very least three typos in this. Also, doing a quick scan of a few St. Ignatius website biographies, there is no mention of gathering donations, though there is no argument here that he must have solicited some funds. And "begging" for alms is a much different situation in this case--Ignatius's monies went directly to the Church and the Jesuits. This money goes to sports centers and alumni banquets. And as for alumni giving being a true measure of satisfaction: One might love pineapples to death, and truly enjoy the experience of eating one, but does that mean they have to go out and invest in Dole stock?
Also, a little simple math for you:
Tuition per year (with room and board): over $47,000
Four Year Total Tuition: $190,408
Total college aid available: $30,000,000
Total Enrollment: 2,817
Total Students who have financial need: 58%
Total amount of students whose tuition could be covered in full by the $30 million: 157
58% of 2,817 students (amount who need financial aid): 1,634

Shh!!!! It's Hushed. But in the NY Times...

This morning's New York Times has a political memo written by Jeff Zeleny, opening with the following question:
"There is a hushed worry on the minds of many supporters of Senator Barack Obama, echoing in conversations from state to state, rally to rally: Will he be safe?"

The one problem with this article is thus:
The questions asked are mostly unanswerable. No actual threats are really highlighted, and none in depth. Yes, our country's climate is not as hospitable as it should be, and Obama's security should be a concern. But honestly, there are some problems with this article, and they run deep.

#1. Obvious Point: How many polls are out there right now, talking about Hillary Clinton's lack of charisma, or personal appeal. Everyday, there's a new story about likability, and Clinton's lack-thereof. Yet it is Obama people are worried about. You would think if someone was so reportedly despised, their summit to potential presidency would make them a target. And yet the Obama worries are legitimate, to some extent. Charismatic figures have, on one hand, the ability to spur people on and get them excited about their message. Obama can do that in spades. Yet charisma runs the risk of inciting not just high praise, but high disapproval-- and in the people completely opposite those that get riled up in a good way. Because people who decide to assassinate are usually angry, in a hyper-heightened way, just as the diametrically different Obama supporters can be enthusiastic. That is not to say that overly enthusiastic supporters of any campaign are unhinged, but mild obsession is a necessary quality for a staffer, no matter whose campaign it is.

#2. Not-So-Obvious Point: Zeleny 's angling of Obama's likability. A quick glance at the first three or four pages of his most recently archived political stories show title after title helpful towards Obama, and harsh towards Clinton (even the pictures tell the story, with Obama looking up with hopeful eyes, whereas all the pics of Clinton seem to be authoritative ones, with finger points and mid-shout. She may do these things more, but it's pretty clear that the photogs don't try too hard to capture her "softer" side.) The problem with a story about "hushed" worries for Obama's safety is that it unfairly raises an alarm that may or may not be that legitimate while simultaneously reinforcing Obama's profile, and providing fodder for ample comparisons with past American heroes who were assassinated. In Zeleny's article, the Kennedys and MLK jr. are mentioned almost as often as Obama is himself. There is no clever coating to this one- it's all about comparison and similarities. And while it should be preambled that there is always a threat to any candidate, and probably a slight bit more worry attached to a black candidate, the comparison seems a bit weaker than the author would like us to believe. Dr. King was a hunted man; and similar to the eerie recent interviews with figures such as Benazir Bhutto, King knew that the threats against his life were real and dangerous. Whether he knew they would be his undoing, one can only guess; but he was under constant threat -- the flight to Memphis were he gave his last speech and was later assassinated at his hotel --was delayed due to a bomb threat. Because of the work of Dr. King and his supporters and the Civil Rights Movement as a whole, the atmosphere is much better and safer for candidates of either race (though improvements still need to be made, surely).

Zeleny's article is basically angling to help Obama survive, both physically and politically by making him into the amalgamation of RFK, JFK, and MLK... if only they had survived just a bit longer. Now this blogger is undecided in choice of which Democrat to prefer, but the problem with articles like this is they don't merely report facts, they harken back to the past by making comparisons that only serve to muddy up the already murky waters of political choice. Talking about threats to Obama is one thing, but talking about threats in relation to other assassinations seems a bit off the point. To be fair, Clinton and the media surrounding her also harken back to past events in order to gain support or alternatively shake up support of the electorate, depending on the purpose that snipit of history is meant to serve rhetorically. And the republicans can't seem to get the misnomer of "Reagan Era Politics" off their minds and tips of their tongues. Comparison is an important tool, but the public should go into any piece of news with the ability to understand stories, their angles, and just why they were written in certain ways. Obama isn't polling well in the older age groups-- Clinton has the majority in of older white women. Well, if you were to look through the old paper stashes of older white women, you would find a newspaper clipping or saved copy of any magazine with JFK's picture, or perhaps a commemorative biography with embossed photos of Jackie Oanasis (before she was an Oananiss). You might might the same smart white or red suit with matching hat. The icon association is high. This blogger was forced to take multiple pictures of the Eternal Flame in Arlington for a grandmother and grandfather. Its a vital piece of history, and memory association is powerful... All that's important to remember is that one situation can be similar, but it's never the same, and false hope, especially in the candidate of hope, but also everyone else, only sets up for a let down. Let's hope Obama doesn't start building a complex in Hyannis, MA. And Clinton won't automatically ring in the financially stable years of her husband's jaunt either.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Quote from MSNBC:
"Obama's strong showing has made him the man to beat in a historic struggle between a black man and a white woman, and even some of Clinton's own supporters conceded she needs victories in both Ohio and Texas early next month to preserve her candidacy."

This made us think of the other Historic Struggles between Black Men and White Women. Here are a few, for your viewing pleasure:

"Historic Struggle for Daytime Television":
Montel Williams vs. Ricki Lake

"Historic Struggle for Best Recent MA Governorship":
Deval Patrick vs. Jane Swift

"Historic Struggle for Life":
O.J. Simpson vs. Nicole Brown Simpson

"Historic Struggle for Primetime Ratings":
Bill Cosby vs. Rosanne

"Historic Struggle for Pop-Supremacy":
Michael Jackson vs. Madonna

"Historic Struggle for Best Lipsync Fiasco":
Milli Vanilli vs. Ashlee Simpson

"Historic Struggle for the 1988 Democratic Presidential Nomination":
Jesse Jackson vs. Patricia Schroeder

"Historic Struggle for Sesame Street":
Gordon Robinson (school teacher played by Roscoe Orman) vs. Linda (local librarian played by Linda Bove)

"Historic Struggle for Popular Young Minority Golfer":
Tiger Woods vs. Michelle Wie

"Historic Struggle for Pop-Band Supremacy":
Boyz 2 Men vs. Spice Girls

"Historic Struggle for Best Blind Celebrity":
Ray Charles vs. Helen Keller

"Historic Struggle for Favorite Singing Muppet":
Rowlf the Dog (technically of indeterminate breed) vs. Miss Piggy

(more to follow - and we'd love to hear your suggestions)

As you can see, the utter ridiculousness of such an exercise in historic struggles is fun and makes for an interesting spin on the same old political news, yet it proves inconclusive and completely pointless...and with the exception of the Simpson struggle, each exampled struggle is fairly undecided, and a matter of personal tastes/opinions (or lack thereof).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Crassness Abounds

A day in the life of an alumnus to a small liberal arts college is never dull. Here's an email received yesterday, with the names blocked out to ensure anonymity.

Dear M. Snowe,

As Senior Vice President of Anonymous College, I am writing to ask you for some very valuable feedback. Our records indicate that you have not recently made contributions to the College. I am not asking for money at this time; I am merely looking for information. Will you share with us why you do not give?

If you take a moment to let me know why you don't give to Anonymous College, I promise to respond to you personally. We are working to make Anonymous College the top choice for ambitious students eager to discover themselves in an intellectually rigorous, Jesuit, liberal arts environment. We need the support of alumni to make that happen. That is why it is imperative for us understand why some alumni do not give. If you're willing to share that information, I would be very grateful.

Just email me at anonymous email address with your response, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts with me.

Senior Vice President
Anonymous College

And here is an appropriate response to such an outrageous request, sent back to Mr. Anonymous this morning, for your viewing pleasure.

February 19, 2008

Dear Mr. Anonymous:

Thank you for your letter. Because you took the time to address me, I intend to answer you in full, and address the question of why I do not give.

I must remark first that I was a bit taken aback by your email. While I have received many direct mail and email queries for alumni giving, I’ve never received a letter quite like this, addressed directly to me. Your letter might not be the tack I would necessarily employ, but your candor should be applauded.

I truly enjoyed my four years at Anonymous College, and I agree with you that Anonymous College should be a top choice for ambitious students, and that Anonymous College is an intellectually rigorous liberal arts environment – I have seen and heard from students at many other schools whose experiences don’t come close to the one offered at Anonymous College. I have Anonymous College pride, and I am never hesitant to recommend the school to any potential college student.

But one of the many life lessons that Anonymous College helped to instill upon me is something I would like to share with you, and hope it gives you a better understanding as to why I take offense to your letter. Being taught in a Jesuit and liberal arts tradition, I learned the importance of the virtues of morality, justice and intellectual questioning. New ideas and diverse interpretations are breeding ground for a fulfilling and empathetic life. But when you ask me: why then I do not give? I must ask you: how can giving be defined so narrowly?

During my freshman year in 2001, I participated in the anonymous program. The key question appended to each theme is, as I am sure you know: How then shall we live? – Which strikes a familiar chord to me when I re-read your question of why then I do not give. I don’t know whether you phrased your question as an intentional mnemonic to make me flash back to freshman year, but if you did—it worked. So let me tell you about my freshman year. I took classes on searching for the true self, and the self in society. I made wonderful friendships. I worked in the dining hall and took extra shifts to try and contribute more towards my tuition. I worked on school breaks when at home. I studied hard, and did well. I learned what it was like to live by myself, and also how to live with my peers.

From Freshman year on, Anonymous College only continued to help develop a fuller sense of myself, the world around me, and the change I wanted to affect to better that world. Anonymous College has given me a lot, and I do owe it some form of repayment. And eventually, that repayment might take the form of cold. hard. cash.

But my question that I will repeat again is: how can giving be defined so narrowly? And why do I ask this? Let me go through any given day of mine. In the morning, I get on a subway train into New York City to go to work. It is always packed, and people are always bustling to gain those extremely coveted seats. I see a woman who is pregnant forced to stand, or an older couple shunted to the corner, clutching handlebars. Without a second thought--I offer my seat. And you ask me why then I don’t give. I get to work an hour or two early and work well past the standard quitting time, in order to prove my work ethic and be the best I can be. And you ask me why then I don’t give. I collect donations for food kitchens and cancer research to donate before I run in 15Ks. And you ask me why then I don’t give. I stay up late in order to edit my younger sibling’s college papers. And you ask me why then I don’t give. I volunteer regularly after work. And you ask me why then I don’t give. And most importantly, many know of where I went to college, as I laud my alma mater with pride. And all these small yet important acts contribute to the larger goal of showing people the tools that Anonymous College provides, and what a Anonymous College graduate can become. And so I repeat: And you ask me why then I don’t give.

On a less abstract note, I’d like to say that I do want to give financially to the school. Eventually. Right now, I am still paying off three college loans. Perhaps I would have more incentive to give financially if I was sure that my gift would be going directly to the aid of someone like me, who had to work their way through college, and whose parents, who tried to help, could only contribute a few extra dollars from their already tight salaries. Also, Anonymous College helped me to realize that the aspect of money is not anywhere near as important as happiness, fulfillment, and service to others – and my job right now fulfills and satisfies me. It does not however, allow me to veer from a very strict budget, which to me is fine, but perhaps you take offense. But in terms of my service to others, I feel as though I have given much. I feel as if my support to Anonymous College has been unwavering, but if defined by your terms, I have been found wanting. Yes, financial stability is an important aspect of any college, but if Anonymous College believes in itself, and the messages and gifts it conveys to its students, it will never be bankrupt. I fear that too much focus on the monetary will lead Anonymous College towards a bear intellectual market. So perhaps the questions that should be asked are not why then don’t you give? but what does it mean to give, and can giving be more than what is measured in dollar signs, line charts, and profit margins?

So once again, I thank you for your letter, and for considering my response.


M. Snowe

Class of Anonymous

"We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be."

-Jane Austen

Friday, February 15, 2008


which means very funny. (click the "more" button to get additional barackopedia headwords)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy V Day!

...and that stands for fighting violence against women day, of course.

Here's a few unhealthy facts for you:

- Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.
- One in six American women are victims of sexual assault, and one in 33 men.
- In 2005-2006, there were an average annual 232,010 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.
- About 44% of rape victims are under age 18, and 80% are under age 30.

(stats from RAINN.org)
- 17.6 % of women in the United States have survived a completed or attempted rape.
- The FBI estimates that only 37% of all rapes are reported to the police. U.S. Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26% of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.

- Following the Supreme Court's decision in 2000 to strike down the civil-rights provision of the Federal Violence Against Women Act (ruling that only states could enact such legislation), only two states in the country (Illinois and California) have defined gender-based violence, such as rape and domestic violence, as sex discrimination, and created specific laws that survivors can use to sue their perpetrators in civil court. (Kaethe Morris Hoffer, 2004).

And now on to the global numbers:
- At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are "missing" from various populations, mostly in Asia, as a result of sex-selective abortions, infanticide or neglect.
- Globally, at least one in three women and girls is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. (UN Commission on the Status of Women, 2/28/00)

- An estimated one million children, mostly girls, enter the sex trade each year (UNICEF)
- More than 90 million African women and girls are victims of female circumcision or other forms of genital mutilation.

"Violence against women has profound implications for health but is often ignored. WHO's World Report on Violence and Health notes that "one of the most common forms of violence against women is that performed by a husband or male partner.” This type of violence is frequently invisible since it happens behind closed doors, and effectively, when legal systems and cultural norms do not treat as a crime, but rather as a "private" family matter, or a normal part of life."

-World Health Organization

**And let's not forget that violence against women does not just come in the highly brutal, physical form. It also smacks each of us in the face every morning, when we wake up to find ourselves locked in an abusive relationship with those who (being primarily men) decided women must not have the mental capabilities to control the machinations of their own reproductive lives, and who try to strike down a woman's right to a choice, to birth control, and to freedom from parental or a partner's consent when making choices which will effect our health, bodies, and overall well-being. Disrespect is not just physical abuse -- it is any action that seeks to break you down into bite-able pieces and serve you up to fit other's needs like chocolates in a russell stover box. Instead of reminding people you already love today of a fact they should already know, how about showing some love for those unfortunate people who are shown the opposite daily?

for advocacy in the fight against violence, go here

And despite the putrid pink colors on this website, it's an important cause

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


we finally can expect good (actually, just "better") Television, and less reruns!
Times story here

"A crucial break came when the two sides crafted a provision that provides the guilds a gain in the payment for digital distribution of entertainment beyond the terms of a recent deal between Hollywood producers and the Directors Guild of America"

Wonder what the "gain in payment" amounts to? It must be hoped that it's substantial.

Iron This!

Excellent essays/commentary by Robin Morgan:


Goodbye to the double standard . . .

—Hillary is too ballsy but too womanly, a Snow Maiden who’s emotional, and so much a politician as to be unfit for politics.

—She’s “ambitious” but he shows “fire in the belly.” (Ever had labor pains?)—When a sexist idiot screamed “Iron my shirt!” at HRC, it was considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted “Shine my shoes!” at BO, it would’ve inspired hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analyzing our national dishonor.

and this one:



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What we'd REALLY like to say (in complaint letters to Greyhound)

A fun break from all that political talk today, children.
Everything below in BlUE is the whole truth of the situation. The black text is what got sent to Customer Service.

February 12, 2008
Dear Customer Service Rep.:
On Friday, February 8th, I rode the 2:30PM Greyhound from the Port Authority in NY to Boston, MA's South Station. I should have recognized the ominous aspect of such a journey, what with the crazy disheveled old men lurking by the doors as self-appointed panty-grabbers, and the brick wall corners heaped with what appeared to be living advertisements for intravenous drug use. At around 3:30PM, our bus broke down on an overpass in Brooklyn. (this was near the entrance to "Throgs Neck Bridge." Definition: TO THROG: verb, "to abandon all hope of punctuality while sitting in abject fear of plummeting below while swaying on a precipice for at least two hours.") Our driver called for a replacement bus, which we were told would arrive in twenty minutes. (We think you know what "twenty minutes" means. No matter the estimate, if for love-making or waiting time - both estimates are either widely over- or under- estimated. We conclude that the actual time period of "twenty minutes" simply does not exist. There is a vortex that eats all ability to sustain one activity or alternatively complete one activity, and that vortex begins/ends around the 20-minute-mark. Results of tests are inconclusive as to the reason for this phenomenon.)

After an hour, there was no replacement bus, but our own bus started again, and the engine worked. (Eureka!) However, the driver insisted (rightly or wrongly) to wait for the replacement. Another hour passed, with no new bus in sight. (or in smell, touch, taste, etc., though the resulting olfactory nerve damage of Throgs Neck was beginning to develop into a dour, nasally aggravating ordeal.) The passengers in the bus repeatedly asked our driver to call the driver of the other bus and find out what was taking so long. The passenger’s entreaties ranged from "please call" to "fucking call the greyhound people, goddamit." Finally, he agreed, and after waiting for two hours on the overpass, our driver realized he told the other driver the wrong route number, and the other bus was all the way in White Plains. Of course none of the passengers realized his mistake, because his language was just on the cusp of possibly sounding like something that might be confused for English in perhaps a place like Bangladesh. At this point, our driver decided to DRIVE our bus to meet the other bus halfway. Who knew a broken bus could work so well? After getting to an exit on a new highway near White Plains, we proceeded to wait over an hour again on the side of an exit, waiting for the other bus. The "Exit 19" sign was taunting us from our itchy polyester seats. We were lost in a transportational limbo on the shoulder of the road. We were shouldering the prospect of thinking that even when this new bus does arrive, we will have to sit in traffic for at least another three or four hours. Now I know how Virgil and all the pre-Christian poets and philosophers must have felt in Dante's Inferno. At least Dante got to travel through hell, which implies movement. Our hell on wheels was perhaps all the more hellish due to it's palsied state.

We finally boarded the new bus around 7PM. (Remember, we had left NY at 2:30PM, and we were now (at 7PM) only 45 minutes away from where we started, yet almost FIVE hours had passed.) We did not arrive at Boston's South Station until after 10PM that night.

I am deeply upset that all the passengers had to go through this ordeal, and that the bus driver was utterly incompetent and irrational. It was a horrible experience; I hope Greyhound rectifies the problems that caused it. I would also like to let you know that I will be taking alternate transportation other than Greyhound on future occasions, and telling everyone I know to do the same. Though we will tell everyone of greyhound's negligence, unfortunately it's still the cheapest, so eventually we'll all have to ride your urine-soaked excuse for a perambulator again. I truly hope you do something to prevent this from happening to another group of your travelers. Truly. But we know better than to expect it.Thanks for your time and consideration, you good-for-nothing national ambassadors of ambulatory destruction and frustration. You acted with less concern for basic human decency than a Republican nominee who mistakenly wanders into a gay rights rally or a workers union meeting would. Get a clue.

Have your say: http://www.greyhound.com/home/en/CustomerAssistanceRequest.aspx

Monday, February 11, 2008

PoliticoReligioRacially Frustrated

Why is it that the two things that should matter least with a political campaign, (with a record of historically not really mattering at all) are all we can seem to talk about, and vote along the lines of? What is it with everyone talking about those two terrible R's that were framed outside the constitutional structure (or at least amended to bestow freedom) in order to help keep them separate, those words of passion: religion and race? ... (and do you think it's mere coincidence that Republican also starts with an "R"?)

When JKF gave his famous speech about how religion would not and should not be a consideration in a political campaign, people seemed to absorb the message, and those few who spread the idea that JFK would consult the pope on every matter of policy-- well, it was a moot and silly point of contention. In fact, religion was never a very large point of interest in early American history when people chose their leaders. Many historians have thought Abe Lincoln, if he wasn't an outright atheist, was at least extremely averse to churchgoing and declarations of belief -- yet no one seemed the slightest bit apprehensive to nominate and elect one who is still considered a great American president. Historians also estimate that a man like Lincoln in terms of religiousity/spirituality would be disquialified from running in America today because of his lack of religious concern.

Carter and Reagan were probably the two biggest cataylsts when it came to changing the American political atmosphere in terms of religion and its impact on a candidate. Carter was the first to trully energize that sector of society that nowadays always seems on the tip of the Republican pundit's tongue -- Evangelicals. Back in the 50s and 60s, many people weren't even sure what the term "Born Again Christian" meant. The mostly-southern sect, up until Carter, had stayed away from politics and endorsements, because, like most religions they realized that politics was a dirty game, with a crowd of panderers. It just so happened that the era came when Republicans decided their party would do best to pander intensely to these huge groups of voters scattered and concentrated throughout the South and Midwest -- and they took the bait, as any group probably would when promised with policy changes that would promote their Christ-driven way of life.

Alot of people believe that abortion was the key issue that iginited the Evangelical's political passion and lobbying power. But those reports are largely exaggerated. The Reagan era, and Bob Jones University v. The United States (461 U.S. 574) was an important impetus that truly started the Evangelical shift towards political participation, and with it the power of practically every Evangelical congregration -- meaning strength in numbers, and the funding from churches, transportation to polls, etc. (In some ways, churches are more organized than the smartest of smart political campaigns with their community outreach efforts).

So the story of this case started with Bob Jones University losing its tax-exempt status from the IRS because of its segregation policies towards minorities. (This case is where, quite possibly, the idea of politics, race, and religion all converge in one spectacularly insane trifecta.) Because Bob Jones U refused to change their racial policy (most notably the ban on interracial dating), the Supreme Court required them to pay around 1 million dollars in backtaxes, and to officially surrender their tax exempt status. Reagan, who first hoped to let this case go by the wayside and leave the University with it's tax-exempt status intact, quickly reversed after much political pressure, and the Evangelicals not only felt betrayed by a candidate that pandered to them, but they also thought it necessary to increase their political influence in order to stop (what they felt) was the rampant politicking against their church and it's way of life. Now, we can't characterize all Evangelicals as racists, but rational people wouldn't have a hard time agreeing the support of segregated education was absolutely racist, and the Supreme Court ruled correctly.

This was the snowball that lead to the avalanche for Evangelicals; and since then the crushing weight of their voting force has been felt in the Republican party. The evidence is the heavy Southern Evangelical popularity for Huckabee, whose background and genuine support of the Evangelical right is the only leg he can stand on in this race, where McCain is all but a cert.

Why do we have to be co concerned with our political figures and their religious affiliation? Although this blog doesn't like Romney, his downfall was primarily religion--and it's not fair. When Romney's father ran for office in Michigan, his religion wasn't mentioned at all by the press or the voters. Why are we so diametric? Even the democratic candidates have to give the obligatory "I'm a highly spiritual person" nod. And what's with Bush saying that his favorite philosopher is Jesus? (this question is borrowed from an NPR piece) -- But why didn't anyone remind Bush that Jesus' philosophy was one of pacifism, and love for your enemies?

That is why everyone is walking around all frustrated. Some, if not most of the framers of the consititution were probably as bigoted and psycho-religious as some sections of our society still are -- but at least they knew how to separate all these aspects out into managable bits. Now, we might have paper thin mac books and airplanes, but sometimes it feels like those guys (yes, unfortunately all guys) in the 1700s had a bit more political perspective. Or at least the ability to compartmentalize.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

and the winner is............find out after the break.....................

So the super duper Tuesday is over, as long as you don't count the states and congressional districts that don't have their vote-counting acts together. Despite the well-intentioned, but ultimately overly optimistic hopes for an inspirational victory for somebody in the Democratic party, the only real surprise was Huckabee's capture of a few Southern states, taking even more air out of Romney's already slashed and deflated campaign tires. For two democratic candidates so obsessed with bringing about change, it would make sense that many are a little disappointed that no change has really resulted from a twenty-two state primary day. And all the media hype didn't help either. Many, this blogger included, admit to being in raptures of delight at the prospect of Super Tuesday (I believe there were illusions to Christmas Eve made?). But going in, we knew that this would probably be a wash - it seems like both candidates, Obama and Clinton, do just enough to either stay in contention, or stay out of the definite lead. Clinton got NJ, NY and CA, keeping her delegate count up, but Obama pulled out a CT win, shaking the Clinton campaign up a bit. And the problem (or good thing) with the Democratic primaries is that many of them are not "winner take all" states, like many of the Republican primaries - so delegates are split, and when races are as close as they were yesterday, it means that most splits were pretty even, so the winner of a state might still end up with the same amount of delegates as the person who came in second.

The other problem with Tuesday was that no matter where you turned, NY news stations and public broadcasting media of all sorts were reporting the primaries, even before there were results to officially report. There were three-hour specials on cable and non-cable channels, and radio stations and news websites were aglow with fancy (or at the other side of the spectrum, incredibly low-tech) icons and graphics to try and make people understand the votes, or become incredibly confused. While reporting of yesterday's primaries was vital, it was overdone. And similar to Giuliani's campaign advisers reporting his popularity, media execs reports of the public’s true enthusiasm for Tuesday were widely exaggerated.

This brings up another slightly disturbing trend within the political campaigning and media coverage community. Let's call it the "popularization of politics." Let's preamble this by first qualifying that politics should be open and understandable to all people. But now, politics is being increasingly absorbed into the media's pop culture juggernaut, in a push to popularize politics with an appeal none-too-different from that of rag mags (a.k.a. tabloids). Politics is not being reported as it is - it is now being morphed into some popularized game where the people vote off candidates as if it was a game of Survivor or Project Runway. This type of reality television atmosphere is dispiriting to the intellectually-savvy political follower, quite frankly. You disagree this is happening in the mainstream, well-established media? Well, one look at the coverage on MSNBC, and in the middle of a serious news story on the GOP turnout, here is the poll that breaks between paragraph text: "
Vote: Super Tuesday's biggest loser?" To some, that might seem innocuous enough, but anyone with faint knowledge of the Tuesday-night NBC line up would recognize that unclever illusion to NBC's show, which features obese people publicly humiliated on scales while the audience watches, in inappropriate mystification.

Super Tuesday, to the networks, was another way to use the best-known reality television hook- the extended pause before the big reveal. We've seen it on American Idol, Deal or No Deal, Dancing with the Stars, etc. The shtick is often framed like this: ".....well, and the winner is.............. [Or let's open the case, or etc.] .....................we'll find out, after the break!" which is followed by a strangely harmonious audience grown and cries of well-intentioned outrage. As much as the respective hosts like to play with their power to conceal and reveal results, the audience takes a semi-masochistic pleasure in being denied the information until after they are shown a few ads about erectile dysfunction or feminine itch cream. The networks broadcasting the Tuesday primary results were in their glory because they didn't even have to manufacture the result withholding - it was all done for them by slow counting states and three different time zones. And for the Democratic results, we're still watching the commercials, and probably will be right up until the Convention. The writer's strike has made it easy to take the reality of political campaigns, and turn it into reality television which, anyone can assure you, is farther from actual reality than Bush's promises of peace between Israel and Arabs, or Ann Coulter's promise to endorse Clinton should McCain become the GOP nominee. Think about it - you've got the crazy contestant with possible drug abuse issues (Kucinich), the guy too old to be the evangelist virgin that he is (Huckabee), the rebel who says the weirdest things but still makes sense to you (Paul), the controlling bitch with a heart of gold (Clinton), the token black guy who overcomes his token status (Obama) and the old cranky spitfire (McCain). Could you imagine them all in the surreal political life? As McCain might start with, "my friends,"-- the longer the production execs hold out against the writers, the more we're in for an interesting, and almost completely media-generated, political narrative. Start your office pools now.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

FISHy Business


This post by Stanley Fish reinforces the comments made about blatant Clinton-hating. Especially of interest is the Horowitz quote: “She is,” Horowitz concludes, “an empty vessel into which [her detractors] can pour everything they detest.”
"empty vessel"? sounds like: chalice, womb, inverted penis?
How much more blatantly sexist imagery/language can one use? Although not everything in this article is spot-on, it does uncover the unfair posturing of anti-Clinton camps verses other anti-candidate groups. Because of a differing anatomy, the hate-spin has allowed itself to morph into a whole different, and openly sinister, animal.
Of course, the funniest aspect is that an "empty vessel" sounds like holy grail iconography... does this mean that Clinton is the Holy Grail, according to Republican pundits? I doubt they foresaw that scenario.

Caution: Voters Thinking

It's not Christmas Eve, but some candidates will be waking up tomorrow morning to find either electoral presents or pieces of coal in their campaign stockings. Some candidates might find nothing, and be puzzled what exactly it means. Remember back a year ago when everyone thought that those early primaries were unfairly frontloading their power in order to swing the primaries and skew the overall results for the rest of the country? Well, last laugh's with the later states. This truly is a long distance run - not a sprint. (If it was a sprint, McCain would still be in last place, left panting by the opening post last November.) So obviously the long distance has done the McCain camp good, and it all but looks like he's got the Republican nomination in the bag, unless by some weird happenstance Romney pulls out some big wins, like say, California (however unlikely). But the real question is how to predict the super duper effects today will have on the Democrats, if that effect will be anything.

It could go a number of ways; three to be exact: Outright Clinton win, Outright Obama win, or a draw, with each candidate taking enough primary votes to still be in contention all the way up until the Democratic convention. No matter what happens, it's a "historical" primary. That's a stupid designation if you think about it - isn't everything that happens in every single campaign "historical"... i.e. it happens in "history"? A more apt term would be historically revolutionary, or something that implies a paradigm shift in the way we look at politics and political leaders -- it's no turkey on white campaigning. But just who of the two democratic contenders looks especially ready to claim the Tuesday prize?

Obama was able, in the first primaries, to go out and stump like a crazy political lumberjack. There wasn't a tree in the entire state of Iowa that he probably didn't pass by on the campaign trail. And that benefited him greatly. The more people he can personally effect by giving a speech or attending an event, the better. People are generally moved by Obama when they see him in person, so the longer he gets to roam the primary state, and meet people, the better his turnout will be. He's obviously a recognized name right now, but often it takes that personal bump to get people energized for Obama. The problem this creates for him is that with over twenty states in one day, the opportunities for primary state face time with the voters is minute. Clinton, on the other hand, is not a candidate that gets voters to support her by seeing her speak. She may pick up supporters that way, and in comparison to someone like Giuliani, her speeches certainly don't deter voters from her campaign, but the stump for her is not her primary method of garnering primary votes. Her political savvy and demonstrated intellectual heft are more essential to her campaign (not saying Obama doesn’t have this either, it just she uses it in a different way). While Obama thrives on the medium of lofty, inspirational speeches, Clinton gains support by showing her strength and explaining her policies more in depth or concretely. Obviously, this has the negative possibility of getting her into more trouble, but in some respects it's more real than what Obama is doing. So Clinton has a slight (very slight) edge over Obama at this point in the race. We'll see what happens tonight

Supporters of Clinton find it hard to be open with their support. The problem is her opposition, while not a huge or overwhelming majority, is vicious. No other candidate has had such mainstream malice shoved onto her shoulders. The words 'bitch,' 'cunt', you name a derogatory name for a female sex organ, and it's been printed on a t-shirt under Clinton's face and name. And it's completely allowed in society. While some might cringe at the t-shirt, no one says much about it. However, you can bet that if someone printed a t-shirt with a dergoritory term for an African American on it along with Obama's name and face, the country would be in an uproar, and rightly so. But what makes the harassment and continued denigration of women such an excepted practice, even among women? Why is it merely laughable when even women participate in their own destruction, and down Clinton on sexist terms, or even contribute slightly to encouraging the unfair practices by doing the smallest things such as having bumper stickers that declare: "Caution: Blonde Thinking"? As an independent in NY, this blogger has no say in the primaries (you can bet it's depressing). But that doesn't mean we're not excited to see who makes it. It's hard to believe, but this primary, it's not about the lesser of two evils, but the greater of two applicable (and hopefully electable) rivals. It's good to see that both Democratic candidates are becoming friendlier, and hopefully once a clear national candidate appears, they will continue that trend for the good of the party and the country. The key will be to pick up the other's voters, and some Republicans, and those elusive independents that sometimes trend towards McCain. Perhaps they're reminded of their great-great-great grandfathers when they hear him speak. Think of it this way (and yes, this is an ageist argument). Would you trust your grandfather running, well, anything? The average life span of a white American male is 72. Now, McCain is known for his "youthful vigor" - but this is one slightly irregular argument that just shouldn't be bought, no matter what the political discount. Yeah, Reagan did it old, and Eisenhower was no spring chick filet, but in an era when current stories are increasingly important, it might be better to have candidates that weren't middle aged during the Cold War. That kind of politics, and outlook on life, while fine, does us no good now. Either way, it's time to trend towards a change, a globalized outlook, out of glasses with an anti-imperialistic, unprejudiced, non-sexist tint.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ball Games

You know, Bush once co-owned a baseball team (the Texas Rangers). Every candidate seems to be out there, throwing a ball around, or talking about which team they support. And in many respects, this is all in efforts for you, the voter, to take sides like you do when you're rooting for a sports team. Last night, during the Super Bowl, there was no need to watch the actual game -- everything could be surmised from the alternating growns and yops of the young couple in the apartment downstairs. The floor would shake, and instinctively, everyone know the score of the game had gone one way or the other, depending on the intonations and subtle variations in the method of absolute insanity. Jumping up and down and a high-pitched yell translated into "the Giants are winning," whereas the dull thuds of a Pats gain echoed with a low-pitched wallop, as if the man downstairs was falgelating himself (or his wife) with the padded bat of a gong.

What is just so unbelievable is that sports garner enormous support and yet politics, while many find it cause for debate and the occasional squabble, still remains a relatively unpopular pasttime. And why? They have everything sports does - a long game (the parties), odds makers (pundits), cheaters (everyone), exciting clashes (Obama v. Clinton), underdog come from behinds (Huckabee, then McCain), etc. And what's even more disturbing is that the results of this game will probably dictate what happens in domestic and international policy in at least the next few years, if not have reprecussions far into the future, and ingrain messages into the national psyche. Okay, maybe people do take it semi-seriously, but how many people do you know who can name all the starters on their favorite team, but can't name their representatives, senators, or even more than two supreme court judges?

It's understandable that sports make up such a big part of our national conscienceness -- and we're not the only country that cultivates a society of sport - England(football), Australia(footy), most of South America (football), etc., all have a reputation for extreme awareness of sport. In some cases, it is deadly serious (http://http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/world/2002/world_cup/hof/escobar/). And sport is important because it is a safe outlet (generally, contrary to the newstory quoted above) in which people can be completely biased, completely insane, and yet completely excepted. A world without sport would be a more dangerous one indeed, because it would be a world without an outlet for well-intentioned frivolity. In no other arena can one unequivically bash an opponent with outright prejudice for no real reasons and still be a respected individual in society the next morning at work. Where politics and sports meet, the pressures of prejudice come down much harder, and the water is murkier (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/10/business/media/10cnd-imus.html?hp) Sport is healthy transferance, I suppose - the Leviathan's way of taking care of our more animal urges. And sport is more popular because its primarily based on physical ability and brute strength, and the rules (though sometimes broken) , are set in stone. Sport has an oligarchical structure, with a few commissioners deciding on how the rules will be amended, if ever. Usually, they are not changed, which is all the better for fans. Sports are a form of statis in the community, as time goes by, players can change, but the sport itself stays in power. The notion of the "team" is also great, in that it's structure is so imposing, it allows people to stay "loyal" even when players and managers are traded to different teams in different areas. Political parties try to do this with their platforms, but inevitably, personalities and voices trump the issues, as seen from the current debate, and all the pundits pussyfooting around just who is using their pussy (or lack of one) for political footing, or their skin color for racially driven support.

Politics, in comparison to sports like football and baseball, is only partially acknowledged by the greater population - it has more of a cult following. Similiar to the show audience of "Lost", most people don't pay attention to political showmanship, but the audience that does is obsessive, analyzing every twist, turn, and supposed secret clue, and they're usually way off base. Oh, and they blog too. The main reason politics is less universal is because politics is unfair in more transparent ways, although the structure of sports is unfair as well - but sport provides services to the watching public, and even if the team you like loses, there's value to watching. Whereas, in politics, your team can win, and you still end up feeling empty, disregarded, compromised or even defeated and hoodwinked. Politics just isn't as sexy, despite all the scandals. Its hard to knock back a few beers watching a Republican debate, or to wave a big we're number one finger as a the Democrats go through a crowd, kissing babies. The only thing that both politics and sports excel at jointly is coming up with outrageous, unimportant, and completely stupid statistics, and political polls. Statisticians are the only ones who laugh last during super bowls and super tuesdays. And bookies. The message is clear: sports and politics are both necessary. But perspectives should be renewed when viewing each.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Problem with Nice

It's almost frightening, the copiousness of detente that's spreading through both party's campaigns right now -- you would think that all the politicians were holding their debates in Helsinki. The absolute worst display of disgustingly genial showmanship occurs between John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. To be fair, in all disclosure, McCain has never been glaring in his reproach of Giuliani while campaigning (probably due to Rudy's low poll numbers), but he hasn't been overly laudatory either, and all rightly so, considering they were running against each other. But Rudy's quick shift is disturbing, and the animosity that overnight turned into a man crush between two extremely straight men shows how disingenuous and ridiculous it is. Rudy practically coos over McCain, and yesterday, on a late night show that both men would have had to cross picketing lines of striking writers to get to, they appeared next to one another as if they had just arrived after a leisurely evening of heavy petting... each other's egos. McCain, who was all but dead a few months ago, has pulled out the smelling salts. As Miracle Max would say, McCain was only "mostly dead", which means he was still "partly alive" -- and he's found something worth living for. Plus, McCain is able to do something that Giuliani couldn't do alone - and that is use Giuliani's strengths. Giuliani discovered through the course of his campaign that what he did for New York didn't travel nearly as far across the country as he assumed - it's common for certain New Yorkers, Giuliani among them, to suffer from the delusion that everyone outside New York understands and is up-to-date on the microcosm of the NYC universe. The only time that claim is true is with certain moments in history, like 9/11. Unless you've been to Times Square pre- and post- Giuliani, you don't really get a sense of the actual "clean-up" he inspired. And of course, if you do know a bit about Giuliani, that can also be bad for his campaign as well - some of his questionable practices have been well publicized. But the brilliance of McCain using Giuliani as a kind of pseudo attache is that McCain can keep all his prior experience, his renown as a war hero, and whatever other favors he might have, and also cling to the 9/11 message that Giuliani, unsuccessfully based his campaign on. What ailed Giuliani was the fact that the 9/11 management was really his only universally recognized positive, and it was not enough to sustain an entire campaign. But McCain, with Rudy's endorsement, can buy that extra morsel of post-apocalyptic hope, and wrap it up with a little bow and serve it on his stump speeches to each audience member, hungry for not only McCain's current policy, but added assurance he could get the job done. "Giuliani light" is decidedly better than the blown up, cross-dressing, wife cheating full-calorie version. It's easier on the digestion for a fractured Republican party. And Giuliani is no dummy - he's getting something from this deal, though it's a reluctant prediction to think he would accept an offer as McCain's running mate. We'll see, but if that does happen, it would be one fearsome political creature to behold. Of course, every Republican machine is pretty fear-inducing these days.

Remember what happened to the last officially dubbed "Queen of Nice?" Sprint, or jog, your memory while we recap the latest Democratic debate. Obama and Clinton were talking nice, as if only sunshine and quaint democratic sentiment shines out their bums. Obama could get some more traction from being nicer to Clinton, because his audacious message of hope, while running a mostly positive campaign, has taken exceptions when it comes to Clinton-bashing, and his comment a month or so ago at one of the earlier debates that Clinton was only "Likable Enough" actually didn't fair well for him at all. Despite his universally recognized flair for charisma, Obama just isn't up to snuff when compared to Clinton's debating ability. He comes off more like the snarky showoff who pedals in all directions whereas Clinton always has a witty retort and is well-versed in debate, her main flaw being the forcefulness in her delivery that appears jarring to some. But lately, Clinton has been nicer too. Her well-placed snipets of humor are reinvigorating what could've turned into a bleak campaign, and all this news coverage of a supposedly "angry" Bill leave her with the trouble of running damage-duty. Her well-chosen weaphon of choice: the well-placed quip. For instance, when asked about the possibility of history recording Presidents in the following order: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton; Hillary Clinton remarked "it may take a Clinton to clean up after a second Bush."

So what do all these niceties mean? Perhaps this is the eye of the storm - the outer winds and wreckage from the huge field of players has dwindled down to basically two major candidates still standing on both sides. One thing is for sure, it's going to get ugly again before this thing moves out after the nominations. We can only guess how, and afterwards assess the destruction. But Democrats need to be wary- both Clinton and Obama would agree that the only thing worse than losing the primary nomination is losing the presidential election to a Republican because of an electorate dissatisfied with a quibbling Democratic party. Democrats are historically known as the slightly more disorganized party, one without a completely solid platform -- either that or the platform just never seems to dry like the harsh concrete Republicans like to stomp on all campaign season. So we can see why killing the voters with kindness might be the best method...for now.