Thursday, January 31, 2008

Live Blogging the Dems!

OK, so here we go - Clinton vs. Obama, one-on-one, in a debate hosted by the woefully-pathetic Wolf Blitzer. And I'm chipper.

7:11 - It's amusing to watch Senator Hillary Clinton discuss John Edwards legacy about working for the poor and disadvantaged. She's simply not acting the same politician she was for - well, her entire political career. Triangulation, hurrah!

7:14 - OK, looks like everyone's going to play nice tonight.

7:15 - Obama's going wonkish - who said that he doesn't know policy? He is the most liberal member in the Senate after all, and you don't get that record without understanding minute details.

7:17 - I'm bored. Wish I would have drinks.

7:17 - When the respective candidates start writing things down, do you actually think they're writing relevant stuff down? Or just doodling?

7:20 - Still bored. Wait! Hillary's talking about health care! Let's see if she mentions her amazing failure as First Lady!

7:21 - I am clearly not unbiased in this debate.

7:23 - Hey Hillary: How much has the pharmaceuticals industry given your campaign? That have anything to do with your health care plan?

7:26 - I truly hate Wolf Blitzer. He is an idiot. Trying to call out Obama on "swiping Clinton" for arguing C-SPAN should carry health care debates, and Obama says "No, I've been arguing for this consistently."

7:29 - Hey Hillary! Universal health care doesn't sell in this country! Jesus I thought the Clintons were supposed to be good at masking what they really mean - you would think she wouldn't use those dreaded three words.

7:31 - Obama gets in a good line, attacking Republicans: "I don't think they'll be able to talk about fiscal responsibility."

7:33 - Jason Alexander sighting! I love the celebrity sightings!

7:35 - Embarrassed for myself.

7:38 - Immigration! Let's talk about Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Obama, eh?

7:42 - Oh Hillary, you do not want to be costing yourself Latino votes, and you just did with that answer. Tighten borders? Crack down on employers? When did you become a Republican? "Own people?"

7:43 - "Own people." (Read: NOT BROWN PEOPLE)

7:45 - I hear Hillary just cost herself the Cal Primary with that answer. Maybe I'm overreacting. Wouldn't be the first time.

7:46 - Wolf Blitzer is a douchebag. Just reminding everyone.

7:50 - Talking about driver's licenses for immigrants. Oooh Obama gets in a good point about Hillary's flip flopping! Finally some action!

7:59 - 35 years of experience! I love it! On my 35th birthday I'm going to claim I've had 35 years of experience.

8:01 - Hey Hillary, when you were First Lady, what was your security clearance?

8:02 - Hillary cannot win a change fight with Obama. The end.

8:03 - Good answer from Hillary on a Mitt Romney smackdown. Obama follows suit well. Without Rudy, Romney now provides campaign jokes.

8:04 - Man, Hillary, having a woman president is big in the US, yes. But not that big in the world - look at all the heads of state/government that have been women across the world. Now, look at the prospect of America electing a black person, and think about the message that sends. A lot different in my mind.

8:08 - Obama has been the only politician in my life (admittedly not very long to now) to really draw young voters interest and get them to actually vote. That would be a mistake for the Democrats to toss aside.

8:23 - I just missed 15 big minutes. Dammit.

8:25 - Oooh, Iraq! Hillary Clinton's war that she supported from the very beginning and then flip flopped very late in the game!

8:27 - More famous people.

8:27 - I am clearly biased.

8:28 - Wolf Blitzer update = still a douchebag.

8:30 - Obama hits the nail right on the head, focusing it again on Hillary's war vote and henceforth a lack of clear, informed judgment.

8:32 - I like Obama's tie.

8:33 - Oh please, Hillary, anyone with half a brain knew the 2002 War Resolution was just that - a resolution for war. You voted for war. Get over it.

8:35 - Wolf Blitzer is still a douchebag, even when he's going after Hillary Clinton.

8:37 - "Right on day one." Damn right.

8:42 - What the hell? A sex and violence question on TV? Who the hell cares? Last I checked Joe Lieberman wasn't in this debate.

8:47 - Newsflash: These two would not be a dream ticket, because they're running fundamentally different campaign styles and mean fundamentally different things to this country. So, go F off Wolf Blitzer, you are indeed a douchebag.

8:51 - Newsflash: Wolf Blitzer is a douchebag. Good night.

And now for something completely different.

As we're dealing with shady campaign strategy, hype over what looks to be one of the most boring Super Bowls ever, and the State of the Union, let me ask a completely worthless question about something that's completely irrelevant.

Why do we need straws?

I hate straws. There are two instances in which people should use straws; if they're injured and unable to bend their neck or move their head, and if you're drinking on the go and have a lid on your cup. Otherwise, straws should be outlawed. They suck.

Straw user, you suck as well. Literally. Seriously, why do you need a straw? Are you honestly that lazy that you can't reach that extra four inches to your cup or glass or can or bottle? And don't give me that "sanitary" argument. Wipe the damn can or bottle down. It's fine. You're not going to catch anything.

Last semester I got tons of shit from my fellow writers for scribing a column about a girl in my class. I thought she was cute, until I saw her reading People magazine, then I grew disinterested. One colleague couldn't believe I called this girl out. Well brace yourself, because I'm doing it again.

Another semester, another cute girl in another class. This one seems genuinely intelligent, providing conversation about politics and global issues. But she comes to every class with her cute (the annoying cute, not the adorable cute) little can of diet Red Bull. She cracks it open a few minutes in to the lecture, and pops out a damn straw. One day it was a red-and-white striped bendy straw, the next it was a clear straight straw. I hope, I pray, that she doesn't bring a crazy straw. Ever. I don't know what I'd do, but it wouldn't be nice, and I'm pretty sure she would never flirt with me again.

And that slurping noise when nothing is left in the can and she continues to suck on the straw. AAAAAGGGHHH!!!

We don't need straws. If I see you with a straw, you better be in your damn car, or walking to class, or whatever. And there had better be a lid on your stupid drink. Stop being a pansy and ditch the straw.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Brutes Watching Brutes

Glance at a paper, pass within earshot of a radio, or flick past CNN and you'll probably be convinced. The world, it seems, is coming to a bloody, chaotic end. Conflicts rage in faraway countries whose names we can't pronounce, polar bears are quickly becoming drenched in melted-glaciers, and the price of gas is steadily gaining on platinum. But, despite what the fear-mongers at the New York Times would have you believe, it's not all gloom-and-doom out there. Amidst the ruin, true fun can still be had. Case in point: Super Bowl XLII

There's something warmly reassuring in the notion of colossal, sweaty millionaires thrusting their padded bodies at one another with the hopes of advancing a a small ball past a certain marked line. Watching the mammoth football players, swelling with testosterone and foaming at the mouth, play a simple game with every ounce of dedication in their body helps us forget about the sub-prime mortgage crises or the explosions in Pakistan. It's Super Bowl XLII, and that's all that matters. The Dow could have dropped 40 points, but Randy Moss won't drop a lob pass. Tom Brady might not extract our troops from the quagmire in Iraq, but he can inspire a fourth-quarter rally like a battle-hardened general.

Call it American consumerism at its worst, but I want to sit in front of a high-def t.v., eat a barge load of crispy chips smothered in a vulgar amount of cheese, and sip on a deep, dark beer, the size of lake Huron.

And through the game, during the breaks, I want to watch the carefully constructed commercials. I want to know what a company, with a 30-second blank spot and a $2.7 million dollar debt, can come up with. Because they won't jolt me back into reality, they won't pull my attention back to real-w0rld issues with dire implications. Fast cars, beer-bottles that change colors in the cold, and loose women in tight clothes who will rub a man's shoulders if he scrubs with AXE shower gel.

Ah yes, life is good my friends. Watch the Super Bowl, pop some levitra and smile like the man in the commercial, because there's no telling what tomorrow might bring. (I'm forecasting showers)

When you assume...

Sitting in Comparative Politics last Thursday, the discussion turned to the current election. One kid ranted and preached fire and brimstone about Hillary being Christ reincarnate, most everyone else shook their heads and agreed she couldn't/shouldn't win.

Then a tall, gangly redneck kid opened his dumb mouth, mumbling that he couldn't vote for any woman. "What happens when she gets her period."

I wanted so badly to stand up and shove my $89 textbook up his ass, sideways, with the book open. It likely would have been the only time this semester I would have gotten $89 worth of use out of the thing.

Instead, I simply told him he was an idiot.

Can we get something perfectly clear? My sexist hayseed classmate is just as wrong as the "feminist" who votes for Hillary for equally cloudy but opposite reasoning.

Don't assume that Hillary is the feminist candidate simply because she has a vagina. Just as stupid would be casting a vote for Barack as the minority-issues candidate simply because he is black. Look at the issues. Educate yourself. I know it's tough, sitting on your ass and typing some words into Google, then straining to use your index finger and scrolling through the information, but you'll be better for it. And if you vote based on that information the nation will be better for it.

State of the Union CliffsNotes version

President Bush:
Republicans and Democrats can cooperate as long as the Democrats do everything the way I want it.

Response by KS governor Kathleen Sebelius:
Let's put all of this partisanship aside and work together. Join us, Mr. President and do everything the way we want it.

It's touching that everyone is so eager to work together. Kinda like how we offer to work together with Iran and North Korea.

I'm completely disenchanted. I'm changing my focus to fashion and celebrity news.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Apparently, we have a long way to go

CNN is reporting their recent "ride along" with a Transportation Security Administration bomb-tester, and the results aren't encouraging. The tester disguises himself as an average passenger and attempts to make his way through security while possessing a mock bomb. At Tampa International Airport, this could-be terrorist easily passed screeners and could have potentially boarded an airplane with a bomb strapped to his back.

Last year USA Today received test results from 2006 tests and the numbers are rather frightening. Apparently investigators were able to sneak about 75 percent of mock bombs through Los Angeles International and 60 percent through O'Hare in Chicago.

The obvious question, then, is this: Are we really any safer? Americans have sacrificed a lot since Sept. 11, yet news like this points to an overall failure in our preparation for a future attack. Some argue that Americans giving up their civil liberties in the name of "freedom" is the right thing to do; but have we gained any peace of mind in those six-plus years?

It bothers me that these liberties are surrendered so willingly; more alarming, however, is that our government is doing little protect us. The Bush administration and the Republican Party has resorted to fear tactics in attempt to persuade Americans that they're best when it comes to security. Since Sept. 11, however, having President Bush at the helm hasn't made me feel safer--in fact, I'm convinced he's made the world (and our nation) more dangerous.

I'm not saying that the Democrats are the best party for the job--they've done next to nothing since taking over Congress in 2006, but the Republican Party has no claim to being the "security" party. If this is your idea of security, Mr. President, you must be embarrassed.

The ends justify s**t

Tying in with Erik's post below, Clinton's march to the sea gets worse and worse.

Florida and Michigan, if you'll recall, lost their right to send delegates to the Democratic National Convention because they moved their primaries up without the consent of the national party organization.  It was a greedy, stupid move, born not of any impulse to make the Democratic primaries more reflective of the electorate in general, but out of a simple urge to win influence and that delicious, delicious early-primary publicity.  Mmm.  Publicity.

Now the Clinton campaign would like to sneak the Florida and Michigan delegates into the convention after all, a move with all the dignified class of sneaking children into an R-rated movie.  It's short-sighted, divisive, and incredibly dangerous in the long run.  Not, in fact, unlike the way that Clinton's been running her campaign since she lost here in Iowa.

Here's why Clinton's plan is stupid: If those delegates make the difference and hand her the nomination, Obama supporters can quite legitimately claim to have been cheated out of a victory. If you think the Democratic party is divided now, just wait until the Clintonistas pull this one off. It'll look like the 1968 convention, only inside the building.  Moreover, it sets an awful precedent for the next state party that gets uppity and decides to do something like this, effectively neutering the national organization.  (Which is, of course,  just what the Democratic party needs: more disorganization and Balkanism.)

It's the scummy season.  Bring your umbrella.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ties that blight

The Clinton campaign suffered a devastating loss in South Carolina, largely a result of its negative campaigning. Though her husband has been touted as “the first black president,” Hillary Clinton’s startling defeat likely left her wondering if she might soon lose to the second.

Bill Clinton’s immense popularity, especially among African-Americans, was hardly forgotten. For much of the race, Hillary was exceedingly popular among black voters. Now, however, her constant squabbles with Barack Obama appear to have left her with the short end of the Democratic stick. Though Obama is equally guilty of continuing the fight, Hillary’s enlistment of her husband has not helped her cause, to say the least. The Bill Clinton remembered for his personable disposition and positive nature has not been present on the campaign trail, and the effects are beginning to show. As he continues his attacks, his declining popularity is translated directly to his wife—the inevitable result of being legally and politically tied to one of the most popular Presidents in fifty years.

If she intends to recover from her South Carolina defeat, Hillary must understand the political significance of her marriage. Obviously, Bill Clinton would be a useful tool in any Democratic campaign, but only insofar as his popularity is maintained. Hillary, as it seems, is dependent on her husband’s reputation—if it declines, so too will hers.

So, then, the solution is simple: If Hillary wishes to win, she must exploit the positive aspects of her husband that drew voters to him during his 8-year tenure. That means putting a stop to the interparty fighting which—weeks after it should have ended—has become almost as ridiculously long lasting as Stride Gum. On the other hand, if the Clinton tag-team continues dishing out pile-drivers, don’t expect to hear the saxophone on election night.

Little Johnny McCain

If you think John McCain's old, you should check out his mother.  On January 24th, C-Span interviewed Roberta McCain, the 95 year old mother of John McCain (she will celebrate her 96th on February 7th of this year.)  The interview is highly recommended and can be viewed on  

Mrs. McCain is clearly a product of her time.  She shows the most pride and enthusiasm when she talks about her late husband, Jack (He passed away in 1981) and it's clear that she has old fashioned views of family roles.  She talks about her role as a Navy wife and admits that her husband was always number one because he was the provider.  It's not a surprise that someone born in 1912 would have such rigid ideas about family structure, but it is a bit unsettling that she rarely seems interested in talking about her son the war hero, prominent Senator, and current presidential candidate front-runner.  Any of these would be cause for a mother to gush for hours about the accomplishments of her offspring, but Roberta McCain is so removed from any emotion that one has to wonder if she's at all fond of him.  At one point, the interviewer, Steve Scully, asks about John McCain's relationship with his father.  Apparently confused, she answers fondly and at length about her husband Jack's relationship with her father-in-law.  After, Scully is polite not to correct her, but asks the question again, "and what about the relationship between your son and your husband?"  A sober response came to that question as Mrs. McCain stuttered: "It's just like any other good relationship... see, Jack was gone so much.... we've not had any problems in our family... you know, they just all loved each other... just middle class people that do the best we can."  

The interview alone was not sensational,  but it was a bit of a shock to witness her lack of emotion as she speaks about her son, especially as she relays her memories of the time her son was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.  When asked, "what was going through your mind when you heard that he was shot down and presumed to have been killed?"  Her answer? "What was going through my mind was Johnny's wife.  We talked on the telephone of course and and I said to her... 'Carol I think Johnny's dead, don't you?' and she said 'yes' and I said 'Well I think we should accept that.'"  She explains her feelings as "fish or cut bait, reality is a reality... just accept it.  So that's what was going through my mind."  

Later, the interviewer reminds her of some "choice words" that John McCain had about his captors in Vietnam. Her response here was a bit of a surprise, "I was ashamed of him... I'm still ashamed of him."  Apparently Mrs. McCain doesn't think it's ever proper to use profanity under any circumstances; even when it's her own son, who has been held captive for over four years, denied food and medical care, beaten, and exploited by the Viet Cong.  Most mothers would likely have choice words of their own for those who have tortured their sons.  On John McCain's experience as a POW and veteran, most people (myself included) have a wealth of respect for the Senator.  It's a bit of a shock that she would claim to be ashamed of him for anything pertaining to that period.  It must be a pretty strict household if waterboarding doesn't even get you an f-bomb.

If nothing else, the interview is enlightening just to watch what Mrs. McCain refers to as herself as "popping off" about the way her son has been treated by the GOP, or to just to hear her talk about her son with a lack of interest. (Of their relationship, she says: "I stay out of his life as much as possible" and "I don't need to talk to him!") It's hard not to be amused that, at age 71, John McCain still has to be worried about his mother embarrassing him in public.  

We beg you, Chuck Todd.

We appreciate your insight into the goings-on of this election. We listen to you on "Meet The Press" and other NBC News staples. We take no issue with you, Charles.

We do have a problem with your, ehm...facial hair.

Seriously, shave it. Please. You are not one of those people. You don't moonlight as a lumberjack, and we're pretty sure that Just For Men isn't looking for any more endorsement deals, so please do everyone a favor and get rid of those carrot stains.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Heart of Darkness

While I hover over a steaming mug of morning coffee in my clean corner of Iowa, a world away, in the land once dubbed by Joseph Conrad as "the heart of darkness," continues to smolder in a jet-black pit of conflict, death, and mayhem.

The Congo, formerly known as Zaire, formerly the Belgian Congo, and before that the Belgian Free State, is a sprawling landmass in the very heart of Africa. It's a huge, unlikely landmass that, like so many other European conjured states, has borders that reflect the whims and priorities of fat colonial powers. In 1885 King Leopold II, Belgian's squirrelly, mercurial ruler, acquired a vast swath of African territory that other European nation's dismissed as unproductive, mosquito laced, jungle. The land was actually some of the most fertile in Africa, and an abundance of rubber and ivory led the King to implement a draconian system of forced labor among Congolese natives that killed millions. Belgian Imperialism lasted in the Congo until 1960, and effectively stripped the land of its vital resources while providing nothing for its inhabitants. Under these utterly insoluble circumstances, a series of despotic, vengeful, and murderous tyrants took control of the country. As an imaginary nation-state made up of diverse and competing tribes with no loyalty to the concept of nationalism, Congolese patriotism is nonexistent. When civil war, prompted by the fervor of unrest during the genocide in neighboring Rwanda and Burundi, erupted in 1998, these ethnic distinctions and priorities burst to the forefront. Not since WWII, according to international aid agencies' statistics, has the world seen a deadlier conflict.

Most startling, is a recent survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee and reported on by the New York Times and Washington Post. Though four years removed from the end of conflict, the survey estimates that 45,000 Congolese continue to die every month. Very few of this galactic number perish as a result of direct conflict. Instead, they succumb to disease, starvation, and lack of basic health care. The conflict uprooted over a million countrymen, and this desperate diaspora grinds out life in squalid refugee camps, shantytowns, and jungle shelters. Since the war started in 1998, more than 5.4 million Congolese have died. Half of that number was children younger than 5.

Finally, there is some hope in these dire circumstances. Earlier this week, a host of rebel armies, fighting against Congo's figurehead government agreed to peace terms eked out by the United Nations, European Union, and U.S. At the core of the issues to be resolved is the presence of ethnic Hutu militants who fled Rwanda after perpetrating genocide there, and resettled in Congo. Enormous gold, diamond, cobalt, and timber reserves make controlling Congo a highly lucrative business. Its neighbors, especially Rwanda and Uganda, have a vital interest in stabilizing the country and will work fiercely to keep their hands in Congo's deep pool of resources.

In the U.S. recently, it has become in vogue to adopt and scream foul about humanitarian-crises. Many, many rotten places exist in this world, and people are raped, robbed, and murdered every day. Genocide may or may not be unfolding in Darfur, the Middle East is exploding with ethnic tension, and in so many other places around the globe, humanitarian and social injustices occur on a daily basis. In no place, however, has the loss of human life and raw human impact of conflict been so egregious as in Congo. Is it the world's responsibility to step in, stop the bloodshed, and clean up the carnage? If only this solution were feasible. There are no easy solutions, the conflict is deeply embedded, multi-layered and largely internal. By acknowledging its existence and feeling even a twinge of remorse or pain for the millions of innocents slaughtered in the bloodshed, however, we can help bring light to the situation. There is hope for the "heart of darkness," it will require an international spotlight and plenty of patience.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

If you can't stand the heat, don't go to the roast.

So ESPN personality Dana Jacobson was suspended by the boo-yah network. Evidently she dropped the f bomb three times while on stage at a roast for co-workers Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg.

It wasn't the f bombs that got her suspended, it was how she dropped the f bombs.

Golic is a former Notre Dame defensive lineman, and Jacobson often gives him grief for it. She decided to go a little farther with her pokes at the roast. "F**k Notre Dame. F**k Touchdown Jesus. F**k Jesus." Reports from several people who were at the event say Jacobson's teeth were floating, and that she was escorted off stage to boos.

I'm okay with the suspension, but only because she was drunk. This is a roast, folks. It's not family friendly viewing. If you've ever seen any of the Comedy Central roasts with William Shatner or Pamela Anderson you know how raunchy things get. It's not a lesson in discretion, it's not a friendly poking of the ribs, it's an all out slamfest where everyone that takes the podium goes to the farthest lengths to offend and disgust. This definition is from Wiki, so take it with a grain of salt, but I consider it an apt analyzation; "A roast, in North American English, is an event in which an individual is subject to publicly bearing insults, praise, outlandish true and untrue stories, racial stereotypes, and heartwarming tributes."


So Christians were offended. Wow. That's never happened. My heart goes out to them. After all, they've seen such persecution through their history.

Comedian Jeffrey Ross was onstage at the roast that night, before Jacobson took the mic. He stood next to the Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, with Mike Ditka also near. Ross ripped the cheap look of the set, calling it "lamer than Ditka's cock."

Ditka laughed.

Kelly Tilghman's recent comments about golfers needing to lynch Tiger Woods were way out of line. They were made on a live, national broadcast. Yes, they were in jest, but they were inappropriate.

Jacobson was at a roast, in a totally different situation, poking at a totally different subject. A University of Michigan Jew giving her co-worker, a Notre Dame Catholic, a hard time. A joke between friends, lost outside of context.

Get over it.

Roll one up for Delta Upsilon

I'm not sure what all the uproar is about the fraternity being shut down for violating their substance policy. If a student gets caught on any part of the campus with marijuana it is likely they will be kicked out of their housing if they live on campus. It's a fairly standard procedure. While not every agrees with the view that they were "just smoking a little grass" I think that the fraternity scene has more problems than a few people getting high in a house by the river. Last time I checked there weren't too many disillusions to the demystification of the Greek scene in Iowa or any campus in the United States. Think hazing, misogyny and alcohol poisoning. Pots the last thing they should be worried about.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger quits us

It's still not clear what, precisely, happened, but Heath Ledger is dead at 28.  Poor guy.  I thought he was really good in most of his movies, even the crappy ones:

And, obviously, he got robbed when he didn't win an Oscar for Brokeback.  Clear skies, buddy.

Thoughts on the Democratic debate

Well, I guess the truce is dead.

Senators Clinton and Obama got into it - big time - at the Democratic debate in South Carolina. Sadly, the campaign has seemingly denigrated into a shouting match - which was the deliberate ploy of one of the campaigns.

Karl Rove taught us to turn your opponents strength into a weakness; and apparently the Clintons have learned this well. Deliberate distortions, blatant misrepresentations, and stretching the truth are par the course for the Clinton machine.

Sorry, I should call them for what they are: lies, told by lying liars. After watching this campaign unfold over the last few months, it's clear that the history of the 1990s should be re-examined. "The definition of is", frankly, is more honest than almost any of the charges labeled against Obama the Clinton campaign has made lately.

Not only does Senator Clinton posses incredible negatives among Independents and Republicans, but she's alienating a solid portion of the Democratic base - of which I am not part - with her despicable campaign tactics.

If John McCain is the Republican nominee, he will chew her up and spit her out. It won't even be a contest. She's the most unlikeable Democrat in the party.

Good job, primary voters, if you succeed on giving the GOP a Clinton to run against. Woe to this country.

(Wait, I'm on Daily Kos right now, right? Right?)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Food that disagrees with you

I'm watching the Democratic debate right now on CNN. Apropos of nothing, I am also a feckless, clumsy cook. This is why I'm wondering whether it's the chicken thighs that I inexpertly baked and expertly consumed or this awful excuse for a debate that's making me sick.

It's mostly Obama and Clinton at the moment. Edwards' relative silence makes him look rather dignified in comparison. It was ugly right from the starting gun, and I'm pretty sure that the only reason there haven't been any shootings is that this starting gun is metaphorical.

This is why people don't watch political debates. Candidates try to hang each other with this vote or that indicted buddy, as if anybody cared. About five of the forty-five or so minutes I've been watching so far have been devoted to the actual discussion of public policy. It really is a wretchedly disappointing exercise. The Republicans must be licking their chops (and mighty chops they are) at the prospect of going up against one of these pissy losers in the fall.

Seriously, the Democratic candidates look just terrible tonight; small-minded, self-promoting and inarticulate. I lay partial blame at the feet of CNN, who decided to go with "relaxed" rules, hoping, I guess, that this would translate to a relaxed atmosphere. (Like libertarians who think that having fewer laws promotes lawful behavior. But I digress.)

It has only calmed down and become comprehensible within the last twenty minutes. Please, please, please, dear CNN: If politicians won't behave like adults on their own, make them! Maybe a mild electric shock if they talk out of turn or veer wildly off-topic.

UPDATE: Now they're sitting down for an even more "relaxed" discussion. Obama makes a mild funny at Edwards' expense -- "courting the white male vote" -- which precipitates an on-again-off-again exchange of witticisms between the two. Could CNN be on to something here? They're all a lot more amiable since they sat down.

bin Laden calls for peace

Omar bin Laden, son of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, is attempting to chart a new path for his family--that of peace. Omar (I'll use his first name to avoid confusion) hasn't followed in the footsteps of his father; his marriage to a British woman twice his age is just one example that Omar hasn't embraced fundamental Islam like his father has. And that should be an important lesson.

The bin Laden name will live in infamy, a fact that Omar doesn't deny. According to CNN, Omar says that, "I am proud by my name, but if you have a name like mine you will find people run away from you."

Omar says that bombs and violence will not help his father's goal. Since Sept. 11, a new stereotype has evolved in this country: That of the guilty Muslim. To many (ignorant) Americans, every Muslim is a terrorist that wants to murder American citizens.

Omar bin Laden's mission is a good example that stereotypes can--and will--be broken. The son of the most wanted man on earth is preaching a message counter to that of his infamous father. Television shows like "24" might suggest that Americans should be automatically skeptical of anyone that appears "Middle Eastern." For Omar bin Laden to say otherwise sends a powerful message that every person should be judged individually and on their own merits.

Post-traumatic purgatory

It would seem that a soldier’s return home would mark the end of what was surely a nightmarish experience. Unfortunately, for many soldiers, the emotional wounds of their tribulation prove too deep to heal.

As the number of Iraq war veterans grows larger, it is becoming apparent that many are not able to undergo a successful transition into society. The staggering amount of homeless vets suggests that the psychological impact of the war is not being fully accounted for. Post-traumatic stress disorder, it seems, has become one of the greatest threats to soldiers of the Iraq war. However, various drug and therapy treatments have proven effective in providing much needed rehabilitation. It’s just a matter of granting veterans access to these remedies—easier said than done considering the meager benefits afforded to returning soldiers.

By virtue of being a psychological ailment, post-traumatic stress disorder is often overlooked when assessing the condition of a soldier. Moreover, its effects may not become apparent until well after a soldier has returned. But to consider this condition as being inferior would be as foolish it would be reprehensible.

If the Bush administration wishes to minimize the negative impact of the war, they must begin by ensuring soldiers that their wounds—physical or otherwise—will not go untreated. Programs must be put in place to make the transition into society an easier one, and to monitor the mental health of soldiers as this process takes place. Of course, it is not realistic to think that the psychological impact of war can be completely erased; but it is an undertaking that must be attempted nevertheless.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Final countdown! (da-da-da da...da-da dit dit dah...)

It's now exactly half an hour before the caucuses commence, and I am going throw myself on the grenade of partisanship.  Suicide pundit, away!

It's Obama by miles!  Nope, a narrow win for Hillary!  Jesus Christ himself descended from heaven into a middle school auditorium in Des Moines to swing a precinct to Huckabee!  Or something!  I hope nobody notices that I'm just guessing, or I'll look mighty silly in tomorrow's newspaper!  Oh, wait!  Nobody reads my crap anyway!

If anybody calls this thing correctly, they got lucky.  This is a toss-up, a golf shot; a cruel, bloody roll of the dice.  The polls show a dead heat.  Do not, for even a second, believe anybody who says they knew it all along.  They are full of shit.

(Speaking of middle schools in Des Moines, my own is being featured on local news coverage.  I hope they don't subject the Democratic caucusgoers, who are in the lunchroom, to the meals I endured there.)

Here we go!