Friday, March 31, 2006

Drug drag

by Andrew Swift, DI editorial writer

For baseball diehards (such as myself), the news that Major League Baseball is going to investigate steroid use comes as no surprise. Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell has been tapped to head the inquiry.

I, for one, think this "investigation" is a sham, a crock, and an insult to the integrity of the game. If Bud Selig was even mildly concerned about steroid use in baseball, he would have ordered this investigation in the mid- to late-90s, when home runs were flying out of the ballparks left and right. It was obvious to any baseball insider that steroid use was increasing at dramatic rates.

But the game was still struggling with the aftermath of the 1994 strike. Selig realized that offense was a huge pull and could potentially bring back the fans alienated by the strike. Selig cynically turned a blind eye to the growing steroid problem. Indeed, the strategy proved correct: Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's chase of Roger Maris' home-run record enraptured the country.

The real victim of the entire steroid controversy has been Barry Bonds. Bonds was a Hall of Famer before he ever took steroids (he allegedly began after the '98 season, in response to the massive attention McGwire and Sosa reaped from their huge seasons), and he is a Hall of Famer right now. Bonds has been turned into a scapegoat and wrongfully so. He is this generation's premier baseball talent, with or without steroids. If Bonds' individual accomplishments are going to be scrutinized, every single statistic of the '90s and early '00s should be called into question. Bonds is no more guilty than any other user. It is unfortunate that the real problem has been shelved aside: Selig's cowardly refusal to take action until public demands forced the issue.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Corridor character

by Andrew Swift, DI editorial writer

For Iowans who grew up north of Iowa City along I-380, the I-80 and I-380 interchange has been a fact of life. The treacherous loop system, constructed some 30 years ago, contributes to many a harrowing exit onto west I-80. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, take I-80 east until I-380. You'll see for yourself highway-engineering planning at its finest.)

The Iowa Department of Transportation recently released a proposal to eliminate the loops; I would assume with a more conventional exit system replacing them. Now, I know the loop system is notoriously dangerous. But there's a part of me that doesn't want to see it go.

You see, successfully navigating the loop is an art. Masters of the merge and/or exit take great pride in their skills. I've always viewed getting through the loop as the last benchmark of the trip from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City. It represents a victory over the incompetent designers who planned the system in the first place. I simply can't imagine making the drive without hurdling the last obstacle in my path.

Thankfully, the project will not be finished until years down the road, when I shall be long gone from the Hawkeye State. Nevertheless, a part of my youth will be taken from me forever. Long live the Loop.

African reading

John Heineman's column today shines light on a subject that gets extremely little press and little recognition in foreign policy circles: Africa. Sadly, the continent faces crises (civil wars and ethnic conflicts, widespread famine, AIDS, etc., etc.) of all kinds, and little action is being taken by the First World to alleviate these problems.

Heineman provides a simple request towards the end of his column: “I only ask you to be aware of Africa's problems, engage in an intellectual discussion, or just say a prayer.” In light of that request, I'd like to encourage anyone to watch the brilliant film Hotel Rwanda. For those who seek a deeper understanding of the modern history of Africa, I highly recommend Martin Meredith's The Fate of Africa.

Lax lobby laws

by Laura Michaels, DI editorial writer

Lobbying reform finally received the attention it merits for the first time in more than a decade Wednesday, when the U.S. Senate passed restrictions on gifts to lawmakers and barred former lawmakers and senior aides from lobbying Congress for two years. These changes appear harsh on the surface, but, sadly, they will do little to address the larger issues of corruption prevalent within lawmaker-lobbyist relationships.

The new restrictions do not ban private travel, much of which is done by lawmakers on corporate jets at heavily discounted prices. The bill also does little to sever the ties between lobbyists and lawmakers' money-making machines — it was decided those issues relate to campaign finance, not lobbying.

The Senate also voted overwhelmingly to reject the creation of an independent ethics office to investigate accusations of wrongdoing.

The Senate's choice not to acknowledge the need for a separate ethics body is especially disappointing. The 67-30 vote rejecting the measure came just hours after Jack Abramoff, whose lobbying antics prompted a federal criminal investigation, was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for his part in the fraudulent purchase of a cruise line. Despite this conviction, or perhaps because of it, lawmakers are refusing to allow an outside committee to handle abuse accusations.

The public cannot be expected to trust a system in which lawmakers are accountable only to themselves. They set their own rules and acts as their own judges; this lack of accountability and transparency to the public is not acceptable. If lawmakers expect the public to be serious about issues, then lawmakers must be serious about reform.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sensible showdown

by Jayne Lady, DI editorial writer

The South Dakota total ban on abortion makes perfect sense.

Well, it doesn't make sense to me, personally: I'm pro-choice and believe that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. But from an anti-abortion perspective, it all adds up. If you oppose abortion, presumably it's because you believe life begins at conception and that aborting an embryo or fetus is the moral equivalent of murdering a living person.

So, if abortion is murder, why is it not murder if the woman was raped or her health is threatened? I've never understood how anti-abortion advocates can be satisfied with any exceptions. How do you get one "crime" (abortion) and another crime to cancel each other out? South Dakota's hard-line stance against pregnancy termination is the only morally defensible position for those on the anti-abortion side.

The coming confrontation over South Dakota's challenge to Roe v. Wade will actually be helpful to the pro-choice cause, because once the courts re-affirm the legal precedent, there will be no more splitting hairs - and no more creeping encroachment on women's right to control their bodies.

Class times

by Claire Miller, DI editorial writer

The Iowa House passed what appeared to be a pretty mundane education bill on March 21. It would change the academic calendars of Iowa schools, requiring that the length of a school year be determined by the number of hours spent in class instead of the total number of class days. This means such things as recess, pep rallies, and staff-development meetings wouldn't technically count as part of the school year.

Not a big deal, really. It might mean not as much recess, I guess, but that's about it. But something about the law, which doesn't even affect me, bothered me a lot. I think it is because the proposal seems to be a part of a larger trend in how U.S. politicians are coming to view education as something that can be regimented, standardized, and measured. This attitude does nothing to help foster such traits as intellectual curiosity and ingenuity, education's most important function, in students.

If you haven't noticed, though, it's becoming a pretty standard philosophy among our leaders. We've all heard of the No Child Left Behind Act and its controversial way of measuring accomplishment based on test performance. This way of thinking even permeates education at the college level. Earlier this semester, the DI editorial board criticized a proposed law in Congress that would evaluate universities through standardized testing. What an awful idea! The most valuable skills students get out of their classes - analytical ability, creative thinking, a simple interest in learning - are not things that can be condensed into a multiple-choice test.

That's why I don't like this possible Iowa law, either. I don't like the idea that the number of hours spent in a desk in front of a teacher can be an adequate measure of education. My schooling certainly wasn't impaired because of long recesses and late-start Wednesdays - I'd argue that such breaks actually made the school day more appealing and productive. Before they can learn to read and solve math problems, children have to have a desire to learn in the first place. Simply increasing regulation does nothing to address this necessity. In the larger scheme of things, it hardly matters that the Iowa Legislature wants to change the state's academic calendar. But hopefully, our elected officials will come to realize that more rules do not mean better-educated students.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

No news, good news

by Andrew Swift, DI editorial writer

Utter elation swept over me late Wednesday night as I stumbled upon a CNN article detailing a new break in the Natalee Holloway case. In case you don't remember, Holloway disappeared from the island of Aruba on May 30, 2005; she has never been found.

However, I would be surprised that any individual could forget Holloway's case. The media insisted on ingraining the story on the nation, day after day, week after week. Holloway's (likely) death is undoubtedly tragic - but is it really national news? Certainly, the American press could find a more, well, important story to cover?

What might that be, you say? Well, wars are always a good start.

The media catch lots of flak from both political wings, and, perhaps, rightfully so. The first step in restoring American journalism, though, should not be negating "bias": It should be reporting actual, relevant news, not something belonging on the pages of the National Enquirer.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


by Erik Owomoyela, DI Opinions Editor

On Monday, the DI Editorial Board called for the elimination of UI Student Government in its current form. Since then, several UISG officials have expressed their displeasure to us, directly or otherwise. Their feelings are clearly understandable: Scrapping an institution with as much history as UISG isn't something to take lightly, and our decision wasn't an easy one.

The decision's impetus came as we reflected on a presidential campaign that was, without question, particularly depressing - but, while previous years have been better, they haven't been good. Candidates practice both underhandedness and theatrics while promising the moon - or at least a late-night Cambus that goes there. The proposals usually go nowhere, and the administrators who would actually implement them are largely ignored. Some of us have been following and dealing with UISG for years; others were relative newcomers. As we tried to work out what went wrong, our discussion led back to the illogical structure of the institution itself.

UISG includes many dedicated people who genuinely seek to improve student life. But good people can work within a bad system. The essence of what we saw was that UISG's high points came about in spite of the organization, while its low points came because of it.

Despite its moniker, UISG isn't really a government. Apart from the allocation of student fees to student organizations, it doesn't govern anything. Rather, it represents the students' interests to those officials who do - and this is done chiefly through one-on-one relationships, as officials and candidates have repeatedly told us.

The UISG constitution (available here in Microsoft Word format) is well over 16,000 words in length, some 9,000 words longer than the federal one is with all 26 amendments. The bulk of the document is dedicated to explaining the interrelations between UISG's various bodies. Rather than act as a conduit between students and the authorities, UISG exists largely to manage itself - which doesn't suggest an organization that makes good use of the talent it has.

This raises the question of what to do instead. Lobbying and relations with UI administrators and Iowa City officials could be handled by student liaisons without a massive apparatus for them to answer to. The Student Assembly Budgeting and Auditing Committee is perfectly capable of allocating funds by itself, as it largely already does; a small student council could manage the organization. Complaints of budgeting impropriety could be managed through the university, which provides the money anyway, with direct elections and/or referenda for accountability to students. Because the Student Elections Board's attempted micromanagement of campaigns hasn't made them more pleasant or less chaotic anyway, its mandate could at least be scaled back.

These are my ideas - and not necessarily the Editorial Board's. We debated alternate structures, funding schemes, and selection processes and didn't always agree on the right way to proceed. But we did agree that the ideal arrangement should focus on getting the most skilled, dedicated people into positions where they can make a difference - and that this can be done at least as effectively, and much more efficiently, than with the web of organizations that make up UISG today.

When the fun times end

by Brendan Fitzgibbons, DI columnist

Isn't it funny that when you're a senior in college and your parents' friends ask about you, they're likely to say, "Oh, yeah, he's doing great, havin' a great year, real good last year, almost ready for the real world" - or a very similar female version, "Yes, she's loving her last year at the university, studying hard, she doesn't know what she wants to do yet, but she'll figure it out." It's all fun and games, until you leave.

Within as little as two weeks after you graduate (probably one day after I graduate with my parents), the tone of your parents' responses will likely change from doting fondness to hushed indignation. "Yeah, he's still at home, still lookin' for a job. It's hard though you know with the market the way it is and everything ... Should be leaving home any day now."

What changed? How did we get from silly fun time in college to 9-5 serious as concrete the second we graduate? Societal standards absolutely play a role. If it were the next accepted life step to graduate from college, shave your sideburns, occasionally box kangaroos, and urinate on a couple of cactus trees, I think most of us would accept it as a fact of life's process.

Money is another fun reality check. Money is a like that really long staircase at your grandparents' house: You never want to climb it, because it's too long, and you worry that once you got to the top, your grandpa would hit you on the head with a two by four, again, but you have to do it anyways.

We are supposed to get a job after we graduate that rewards your hard work with legal tender. I think another factor may be our need to feel useful. We all want to feel like we're good at something. I want to think that I can play the guitar, but, in reality, I am sorely and painfully mistaken. So, I will just keep pretending.

Feeling like we can have a place in this world is important; it restores a sense of order, and most people want order. Chaos bad, order good. I think if we equally mix up order and chaos in a punch bowl, throw in some Everclear and Ecto Cooler, I think you have a really interesting life.

Right now, I'm titling a little too far on the chaos side of the scale when it comes to my after graduation plans. Maybe I'll go back to Europe and backpack in the countries I didn't get to see, or I could just move out to a cool city, like San Francisco, Seattle, or Dover, and just assimilate with the natives. I could try my life as a painter, strictly sponge painting; I would be creative about it.

These plans are great, only none involve a profession where I would get paid in legal tender, and, as a result of my occupation, I would feel a sense of purpose in life.

Right stands

by Laura Michaels, DI editorial writer

Abortion is a topic that merits attention, though, at times, it may seem as though the issue has been examined to the point of exhaustion. I was surprised, therefore, to find sparse coverage of South Dakota's passage of an abortion ban barring the procedure, except in circumstances where the mother's life is in danger. For a self-proclaimed "liberal" city, there appeared to be little reaction to a significant law.

The South Dakota law is founded on the idea that abortion is equal to murder. It further spins the issue by pegging women who get abortions as exploited victims, rather than adults making a conscious choice. This is evidenced by the fact that rape victims will no longer have the option of abortion, because the second violent act, after the rape, of abortion is unthinkable according to South Dakota's legislators.

With a Legislature that is 84 percent male, it is not surprising that this law passed with little thought to the consequences suffered by women.

Though this law does not directly affect Iowans, it should serve as a wake-up call and remind us the rights we feel are essential may not be out of harm's way.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fallback excess

by Chad Aldeman, DI editorial writer

My friend applied to 18 law schools this spring. He applied to the 17 highest-ranked schools, then threw a bone to his native Iowa, applying to the UI law school (ranked 22nd) as his 'safety school.' I find this route tacky and informal, not to mention prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. I applied to three schools.

According to a New York Times article published this morning, my approach is horribly old-fashioned. The article looked at the increase in the number of colleges to which high-school seniors are applying. Michael Martin, an 18-year-old from San Juan, Calif., has already been accepted by eight places and rejected at one. He awaits news from 12 more schools. Apparently, this isn't uncommon across the country. Students are routinely applying to 15, 20, even 30 different schools. This pads the number of total applicants at colleges and universities, which they flout as showing high levels of interest in their school.

I oppose this whole scheme, because it causes a logistical nightmare and hurts those kids who either can't afford or refuse to subject themselves to that many applications. The aforementioned Mr. Martin, for example, is waiting until he receives word from all his 21 choices before he makes a final decision. By the time all of the decision letters reach his mailbox, he'll have about a month to decide. Then, the colleges that kept a spot and a possible aid package available for him but won't be honored with his presence will move down their waiting list to the next applicant. And so it continues. Most colleges charge around $50 to apply, high schools $10 for transcripts, and standardized-test companies another $10 to forward scores. This $70 multiplied by Martin's 21 schools totals a hefty $1,470 and doesn't even include the cost of his time. How are underprivileged students to compete with this?

The competitive nature of the college-admissions process has led to a 50 percent increase since 2001 in the number of kids applying to more than 12 schools. There has to be some reason interjected into this process. Some high schools are starting to limit the number of transcripts they will send, but the limits are set and applied arbitrarily. I would hope parents would step in and call for reason, but that clearly isn't happening. Maybe colleges and universities should assemble a database of students to exchange information on applicants. Surely a school would prefer a student who knows in advance he or she wants to go there. Or, maybe, I'm just being naïve. Maybe my 'noble' approach to applications will only hurt me come acceptance time.

Veto value

by Andrew Swift, DI editorial writer

As an outspoken critic of our current administration in Washington, I read with skepticism President Bush's call for a line-item veto power, supposedly in an effort to control fiscal spending (which raises the question why Bush has not vetoed a single bill in his five-plus years in office, but I digress). The ability to eliminate individual provisions of a bill by the president would, in my eyes, concentrate even more power in an executive branch already wielding too much.

Perhaps even more ironically, Bush already has the power to eliminate 95 percent of all earmarks. Most earmarks are not actual parts of the legislation but are slipped in amid committee reports - which makes them not legally binding. At any time, Bush could simply signal federal agencies to defund pork projects.

Then I thought of the bright side. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has garnered $50 million in federal funding for a proposed environmental rain-forest project, originally slated for construction in Coralville. Grassley's pet project has stalled, because of negotiations between Coralville and the rain forest's backers over land issues. Other Iowa cities are being contacted on serving as possible alternative locations.

It's too bad the project hasn't died outright. The idea of constructing an environmental rain forest to attract tourists to Iowa is one of the most absurd ideas I've ever heard. Iowa spent only $3.4 million on tourism last year, with good reason: People don't visit Iowa for tourist attractions. (Here's a lighter look at the idea.)

It doesn't appear as if the rain forest is under severe threat, however. The line-item veto Bush is asking for was previously granted to President Clinton in 1996 by a Republican Congress. However, the Supreme Court declared the line-item veto unconstitutional in 1998, and both parties, loathe to see their pork projects under siege, have given little support to Bush's proposal. While the new bill differs slightly from the version that was stricken down in 1998, it is doubtful the court would uphold the measure.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Smoking-ban sham

by Steve Sherman, DI columnist

Hey yo, I know we had one of these bozos in the column write about a smoking ban in Iowa City being a good idea or whatever. And no, I disagree. A smoking ban is a shortsighted stupid piece of legislation conceived by legislative fads and the idiocy of generalization.

Given how downtown is, there's at least two bars on every block. Our downtown isn't that big, in the first place, and the sidewalks aren't particularly wide. I notice the cries for the smoking ban are usually coming from the "clean up Iowa City" contingent (as if something were wrong in the first place). So they want to make the downtown air "safe."

Yeah, this is all fair and good and dandy in my drawers, until you realize that a smoking ban forces people to smoke outside. No, it's not like someone will magically quit only because the City Council passes this. Smoking's an addiction, and though it may slow the beast, legislation won't stop it. Friends of mine who live in New York City and Chicago, who are smokers, all say this. Some say they actually like the smoking ban - because it saves them money - they're less apt to over-smoke while out at a bar.

And the main reason this ban will not work is because of the density of bars in the downtown area. Smokers will go outside, and if you think that downtown is a zoo already and have a problem with that, wait until a smoking ban is passed, and all the smokers take to the sidewalk. The crowds on the sidewalk now would, after a smoking ban is passed, look as rowdy and congested as a the crowd watching a screening of Gone With the Wind in a geriatrics ward. Anyone who lives in the immediate downtown area would have to put up with double the noise they do now.

Chicago, Boston, New York all have smoking bans, yes, but the "downtowns" of these cities do not consist mostly of bars. And every city is unique. To refer to downtown Iowa City as a bar district, as disturbing as that may be for some people, is also wholly accurate. In order for a smoking ban to not wreak more havoc, the face of downtown needs to change immensely, which is not something I see happening in the near future.

If you have a problem with the air at the bars, go to Donnelly's. It does good business, because (surprise) a lot of people don't like the smell of smoke. And I thank Donnelly's for meeting that demand. What I'm trying to tell the ban-supporters is, YOU HAVE A CHOICE. EXERCISE IT.


And for all y'all who get on the smoking-ban train, I suggest taking a look at the Ped Mall at 3 a.m., before the cleaning crews come through. If a ban is passed, you will see an exponential increase in the cigarette butts there, added to the already existing pile of garbage and vomit. So, keep this town relatively pretty, and don't support this smoking-ban bullshit.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Censure sense

by Andrew Swift, DI editorial writer

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis, has called for censuring President Bush for his National Security Agency wiretapping program. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, was the first senator to express support for censure, and is one of only two who have co-sponsored the bill (Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is the other). Harkin's principled stand, so unfortunately rare among congressional leaders, is in defense of the sanctity of the American republic, and I wholeheartedly applaud it.

The "mainstream" media have ignorantly focused on the question of wiretapping suspected terrorists. You'd be hard-pressed to find a person opposed to the idea, and neither Feingold nor Harkin is one of them. Rather, the issue is Bush's acknowledgement that he authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans and other persons inside the United States without a court order, as mandated by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Subchapter I, Section 1809(a) of the act states: "A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally ... engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute." Bush's eager acknowledgement that he authorized these wiretaps leads to the conclusion that our president is a criminal. This is not a matter of politics or ideology. At stake is the accountability of our elected officials to follow the rule of law. No person in our country is above the law.

Spin doctors and propagandists argue that, for "national-security" purposes, the president should not have to wait idly for a warrant before engaging in necessary surveillance. FISA itself makes provisions for this argument: If wiretapping is so urgently and immediately needed that a court order could not be received in time, it is allowed - if a court order is retroactively received within a 72-hour window.

Congress, as an institution, has an obligation to the law and the Constitution. Bush's program compromises the rule of law in this country and makes Congress nothing more than a rubber-stamp under the power of a unitary executive. Amending FISA to allow these wiretaps, as "moderate" Senate Republicans are proposing, ignores the fact: The president broke the law, and he must be held accountable. Harkin's backing of Feingold's motion to censure shows at least one Iowa Senator still wishes to uphold the law.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Our modern international family

by John Heineman, DI columnist

I applaud President George W. Bush for allowing India to join the "nuclear family." Nevertheless, I believe that that India should have been accepted into the club earlier - and, further, be offered a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

The United Nations is currently a post-World War II relic which delegates nearly all of its power (in the form of the Security Council) to the nations who were victors in a war more than half a century ago. The world has changed much since then: The United States, the United Kingdom, the People's Republic of China, France, and Russia do not accurately represent all of the great powers on this interdependent, multipolar globe. The Security Council must expand its membership and distribute its power for the UN to be effective and accomplish its admirable goals.

Nevertheless, the Security Council does not believe in change. The scenario is like to a stubborn, elderly generation who does not want to give into the Internet, because he is comfortable with what he knows how to control. Consequently, he insists to pay for postage and write letters rather than sending emails for free at the speed of light.

Since the formation of the UN on Oct. 24, 1945, India has become one of the world's most populous nations and would represent the other developing nations. Isolating the Third World from being able to make diplomatic decisions only furthers the gap between worlds. The Security Council would have to sacrifice power by extending membership, but was not learning how to share the first lesson we were all taught in the glory days of recess and nap time?

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Mad Oscar junk

by Steve Sherman, DI columnist

Oscars, schmoscars. I didn't watch them. But I heard the dude who played the dead dude won the best actor. It's now safe to say playing a dead celebrity is officially the new "go ugly."

But thanks to YouTube, I did manage to catch Three Six Mafia's performance.

And in the "Take that, Peter O'Toole!" Department, I salute Crunchy Black and the rest of the Three Six Mafia on their Academy Award. God Bless America: Only here will you see a group of African Americans, whose previous accomplishments include a song called "Slob on my Nob [sic]," show up a black-tie function, beat out a big-breasted backwater hick with one-too-many Botox treatments, and then have it all be lampooned by a smart-ass Ashkanazi Jew from the suburbs. America: Junk like this don't go down in Afghanistan. Stick that on your bumper.

Oh, and here's the updated count: Crunchy Black: One; Martin Scorcese: Zero. I've been keeping tabs on this matchup for a while, and I never figured out why until last Sunday.

Selling oneself for UISG

by Jayne Lady, DI editorial writer

I decided to take a page out of Chad's book and offer some advice for people who run for office in UI Student Government, from the perspective of those who have to evaluate their public performances.

PR tips for future UISG candidates, from an editorial writer:

Lose the beverage - if every time you get asked something, you say "Hey, great question" and take a big drink, we'll notice. Believe me, we know you're just stalling. No one is that thirsty.

Learn who does what in the city and the university - otherwise I might pull a muscle from cringing at your lack of knowledge about how the UI actually runs.

Don't name-drop - no one cares what elected official you, or your parents, or your second cousins twice removed, are this close with. You're running for a university office, not Congress.

Go easy on the corporate buzzwords - we can only hear such "words" as "incentivize" and "impact" (used as a verb) so many times before we start screaming.

Be honest - just speak from the heart. People can tell when you're being sincere; it won't matter if you get flustered or mix up a word or two.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Real Jon Stewart

by Brendan Fitzgibbons, DI columnist

Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," is the most relevant popular cultural figure in America today for several reasons. First and foremost, Jon Stewart and the entire writing team at "The Daily Show" are absolutely brilliant. I would pit their intelligence against any rocket scientist or physicist any day of the week.

I would much rather be Jon Stewart smart than Big Bang Theory smart. Along with this general worldly knowledge is Stewart's sharp-as-a-razor wit. The man is quick as a butterfly on PCP.

With all that being said, I have to say I was disappointed in his performance during last Sunday's Academy Awards. Aside from a few biting one-liners (my favorite being, "I do have some sad news to report. Bjork couldn't be here tonight. She was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her"), Stewart's execution generally was inconsistent and fell flat. I think it was hard for the "Daily Show" host to fit his satirical self-depreciating insightful humor within the elegant and bland setting of the Academy Awards.

(For those who as me were a little unsatisfied after Sunday's Oscars, fear not, I have even more proof that Jon Stewart's is an unconventional wizard in his own rite. Check out the transcript from his Feb. 27 appearance on Larry King.)

The brilliance of "The Daily Show" is that underneath its whimsical barbs and satirical messages is a desperate moral plea for sanity in a derailed and loony system of government known as American politics. Stewart and the gang aren't on the left or the right side of issues, but the human side. They consistently remain above the unbelievably colossal shroud of bullshit staining today's politicians, and point out our system's flaws in hopes of bettering citizens' lives.

Here's the most telling excerpt from Stewart's talk with King: "Yes, I prefer not the fodder. I'm not - we're not the guys at the craps table betting against the line. I would - we'd make fun of something else. If public life, if government suddenly became inspiring and moved towards people's better nature and began to solve problems in a rational way rather than just a way that involved political dividends, we would be the happiest people in the world to turn our attention to idiots like, you know, media people, no offense."

I know many Americans feel the same way. I know I do. Not all politicians suck, and this isn't a rallying cry in the name of anarchy and lawlessness; I just want politicians to be real, to speak truthfully to the American people, and not come packaged in pre-wrap and bubble paper. Thank you Jon Stewart for always keeping it real.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Introducing DI blog

Greetings, and welcome to DI blog, the online voice of The Daily Iowan's Opinions staff.

The Internet, as you may have noticed, has no shortage of weblogs, but when you narrow the field to those targeted at Iowa City and the UI community, you won't find as many. Our writers are your classmates, or your students, or your neighbors, who are paid to know what is happening in our community. Here you can read what they're thinking about the critical, or at least interesting, issues that affect your lives as students and as citizens. Feel free to add your thoughts as well - so long as you're mindful of the rules.

- DI Opinions staff


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