Tag Archives: Herman Cain

The Sexual Harassment Cycle

Okay. This Herman Cain sexual harassment thing is something I can’t actually continue to ignore anymore. After “The Daily Show” makes fun of it, it’s hard to ignore it. Unfortunately. Well, at least Jon Stewart grants me the joy of laughter. Because, really, there’s a lot to be had involving this situation.

If you don’t know what’s going on, then you’re really good at hiding from the standard stream of media. Basically, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, lasting as the GOP’s top-of-the-charts #1 hit for longer than any previous candidate has managed thus far, has had a bit of a scandal on his hands. About a week ago, Politico broke a story about the cover up of sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain while he was president of the National Restaurant Association.

As Jon Stewart points out in one of the segments I’ve linked above, these aren’t allegations coming against Herman Cain. These are facts being reported: The NRA (the non-shooty one) made monetary settlements with women that alleged Herman Cain sexually harassed them. The allegations happened back in the ’90s. Not now.

Anyway, since Politico broke the story, more women have been coming out of hiding to tell of their own Herman-handling. (#VeryPunny) There are, I believe, five women in total, and some of them (like the fourth accuser) have started leaving anonymity and letting people attach faces to the accusations.

So, how is everyone reacting to this?

The only way they know how: Hilariously. Let me break it down.

1) This is a double standard! Liberals attack Cain for his sexual misconduct but were okay when Bill Clinton got raunchy!
This response has nice levels of laugh out loud material. First, I’d like to point out that by attacking Bill Clinton’s sexual activities and misconduct while claiming a double standard and defending Cain’s sexual activities and misconduct is, in fact, the quickest turnaround I’ve ever seen. You’re using the very double standard that you’re decrying in the definition of the double standard. It’s so… meta. Delicious. Second, are you sure liberals weren’t disappointed in Bill Clinton? I’m pretty sure many were. I think what most conservatives mistake for defense and support is the lack of a rallying cry from liberals to get Clinton booted out of office. But, come on. Did conservatives really want that? That would have made Al Gore president, and I’ve met far too many conservatives that shudder at that name. Third, Clinton seems to be every conservative go-to guy. Even though Anthony Weiner had his nice debacle just recently, and there’s always Eliot Spitzer. But what about the many Republicans that have had sexual scandals and been defended by and large? Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Foley, Mark Sanford… Can we not all just agree that there are many people in positions of power (which will inevitably include politicians) that have done things of a sexual nature that are scandalous and unfortunate?

2) You’re only going after Herman Cain because he’s a conservative black!
Aren’t there other black conservatives, or has the GOP finally disowned Michael Steele? But, seriously, despite what Ann Coulter thinks, I don’t know that there’s much talk of party ownership of blacks. And last I checked, being black or being conservative wasn’t all you needed to have media scrutiny targeted at you. Really, it’s being in the spotlight. Considering that Rick Perry had that hunting ground thing dug up against him when he was leading the polls, Obama had the “Muslim” school, the terrorist and the terrible preacher thrown at him, John Kerry had his Purple Hearts scrutinized… and so on and so on. There is no conspiracy. When you’re in the limelight, people dig for dirt on you. Doesn’t really matter who you are, what your politics are, what the color of your skin is.

3) Rick Perry/Liberals/Rahm Emanuel leaked this story, the jerks!
For some reason, as this video of “The Five” shows, this response is getting more attention than should. Exactly who cares who “leaked” the story? If anyone even did? The story is out. The allegations, the facts, they’re out there. While Herman Cain was president of the NRA, the NRA made settlements thanks to sexual harassment claims filed against him. It is a fact. It doesn’t matter who the heck pointed out those facts, the facts are there. Facts are not different because of the voices that said them.

Meanwhile, Herman Cain has been conveniently forgetting and remembering and denying and refusing to answer questions and going all over the freakin’ place with handling this situation. But, somehow, he’s still the front runner. Personally, I find the way that he’s handling the situation to be the most alarming thing about it. For God’s sake, if he becomes president, how is he going to handle a legitimate crisis? Or if a foreign power accuses the U.S. of shenanigans? The more he stands at the head of the class and says and does things, the more frightened I become of the idea of him actually being president.

The number of politicians that don’t have dirt, that haven’t done some sort of sexual shenanigans, that haven’t had a financial anomaly, that stick to their guns no matter what… well, that number might be above zero, but I can’t be positive. The entire discussion on the sexual harassment stuff is just an endless cycle of idiocy and departure from the things that actually matter. Can we just stop politicizing the scandal and say, “I wonder if Herman Cain is fit to lead America?” Look at his policies. Look at how he handles pressure. Look at how he interacts with people that work for him.

(Spoiler alert: The answer to my question is a giant no.)

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Is Government Latin For Useless?

It’s rather interesting exactly how little Congress has been doing the past couple of years other than trying to give the middle finger to President Obama. They have constantly blocked any and every attempt at progress, the best two examples being the near default on our debt due to inaction and the refusal to accept any part of Obama’s jobs bill, something that the country could use.

But, surely, they do other things, right? They have to get SOMETHING done, right?

Yes, they do get stuff done. Like when they vote on whether or not our motto is still “In God We Trust.”

Y’know, in case someone forgot. Or there was a huge outcry from their constituents about it.

It’s immensely laughable how very inactive and moronic our Congress seems to be these days. How often do you hear from the office of your Congressman, asking what your thoughts on an issue are? How often are your voices heard in the Capitol?

I used to think that The University of Alabama Student Government Association was an exceptionally worthless, useless legislative body, what with their voting on resolutions about which resolutions they’re going to vote on being resolute about.

That happened. I am not joking.

But, you know what, at least they weren’t voting on whether or not they still all went to UA or were called the SGA or something. And some of them actually read the student newspaper, The Crimson White, and respond to the things written in the Opinions section. I should know, since I’ve had SGA senators and vice presidents contact me about my own writings.

But where is the response from Congress to the massive movement that is Occupy Wall Street/Portland/Oakland/Boston/Fill-in-the-blank? Where is the polling amongst their constituency? Where is the actual representation?

The funny thing is, all of this is starting to come around and bite the Republican party in the butt. They stated that their number one goal was to oust Obama. You know what would have done that? Getting things done. If the Republican run Congress had actually gotten legislation that their constituency liked/wanted passed, they wouldn’t seem so worthless and petty. And now, their stubborn nature and refusal to do get anything passed is actually helping Obama as he goes about the country saying, “Look. I offered a solution, they turned it down. And instead of an alternative, they’re given you assurances that our motto is still, in fact, ‘In God We Trust.’ How dumb is that?”

As useless as polls are, the newest ones still show Obama leading against every GOP candidate. And, you know what? I think Obama has had some major stumbles. He has disappointed me, he has fallen behind on his promises, he has changed his mind on some things he said he’d do, and at times he has bitten off more than he can chew.

But there are few politicians that can say otherwise. And right now, Obama seems to really finally be hitting his stride in competency and offering of real solutions. He seems to be serious about trying to fix things and demanding Congress get serious about it, too.

Bring on your Herman Cains and your Mitt Romneys. I’d rather a guy that made a lot of mistakes but is at least trying to do right be the guy that is in charge than a bunch of people who can only say they’ll do everything to undo what the guy before did and offering crap solutions, if any, to replace it with.

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Private University Requires Morality Pledge: Yay Or Nay?

On the national political level, right now all the chit-chat is about Herman Cain’s potential downfall via sexual harassment charges. And Rick Perry’s New Hampshire speech that turned into a series of Howard Dean-esque “BYAAAAAH”s over and over again. Of course, I do love how “The Daily Show” put it all together

But, really, it’s been getting harder and harder for me to care about national politics at the moment. Everyone running for president on the GOP side that has or has ever had a chance at nomination seems to be either a complete moron, a flip-flop store or a crazy person. Sometimes some combination of those.

So, running into small politics stories sometimes interests me a lot more. Especially if religion gets involved. This time, the story is about Shorter University telling their faculty and staff that they need to sign a morality pledge.

This should be fun.

Shorter, located in Rome, Georgia, is a private Christian university. I’ve been there before, it seems alright. Personally, I prefer nearby Berry College, since it has neat stuff like being the largest college campus by area in the world and having more deer than students. But that’s beside the point.

If you read the article I’ve linked, you’ll find that Shorter is requiring its 200 some-odd employees to sign a “Personal Lifestyle Statement,” and The New York Daily News reports that those who don’t sign the pledge may lose their jobs.

In the pledge, there is a rejection of homosexuality, adultery, premarital sex, a ban from teachers drinking alcohol in front of/around students and a requirement that employees be active in local churches.

Doesn’t that sound swell?

There isn’t really much here for me to violently react to. It seems so needlessly silly and obvious exactly the many things that are wrong with this. The employer is attempting to control behavior and enforce a morality clause of their own creation AFTER having already hired the people. This is something that should have been included in the hiring process, not added in as an addendum ex post facto. It also reminds me of ridiculous laws, like the anti-sodomy laws that Texas and the rest of the country were forced to overturn after the U.S. Supreme Court said no. I mean, how exactly do you check in on someone having premarital sex unless A) they tell you or B) you break their privacy like woah.

Then there’s the alcohol thing. Are students banned from drinking? What if a 21+ year old student goes to the bar and happens to see one of his or her professors there? I’ve seen many a grad student AND any a professor at the local haunts in Tuscaloosa, most often the Downtown Pub and Wilhagan’s. It’s not like such a situation is impossible to dream up. Would that professor be fired for drinking in public and having a student randomly show up and see him or her doing such? Pretty sure that Jesus and the disciples drank in view of other people before. And, not to be too asinine, because I’d never be that, but what about participation in Communion? If they go to a church that happens to serve wine for Communion and a student also attends that church… what then?

Which brings me to the part that actually annoys me the most. Which is saying something. The pledge requires employees to be active in local churches. Not only is that forcing a religion/religious activity on somebody, it also is extremely unfair. What if the employee finds no local church they feel comfortable with or agree with? And how active is active? Do they just get to attend on Sunday mornings? Must they sing in the choir or head a committee or teach a class?

But here’s the kicker: It’s a private university. That’s where everything kind of falls apart. As a private university, it may very well be that they DO have the right to demand certain moralistic actions of their choosing from their employees. It could be that they are separate and unaffected by the laws that more strongly govern public, government funded universities and colleges. If, for example, The University of Alabama did this, you can bet they would be backpedaling within a week, if not a day, due to the huge uproar it would cause. But Shorter, being a tiny, private university, and a Christian one at that, may well be within their rights to perform such stunts, as repulsive, annoying and un-Christian as it may seem.

What do you think? I personally think they shouldn’t be doing this, especially for things so private and personal as sexuality and sexual activity so long as it doesn’t break the law, and I think there are good, Biblical reasons not to do this, too. But it is a private university, so I recognize that they can do it whether they should or not.

…isn’t it great when the answer is unclear?

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Herman Cain: Misunderstood, Waffler, Or Fish Out Of Water?

I don’t know how much of the current political landscape everyone is paying attention to anymore. Honestly, this entire GOP candidacy race got insanely old before Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race. At least the Chris Christie and Sarah Palin things aren’t an issue anymore.

But those of you that are still hanging in there, paying attention (And possibly even caring, though why would you anymore?), you may be aware of the current front-runner of the GOP party that isn’t Mitt Romney. That’s right, Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, is sitting in front of the pack and going strong. Somehow.

This, of course, means that the things he says will be viewed with more scrutiny, and his views will be more strongly questioned. See, before he became the front-runner, all I knew about Cain’s political views was that he wanted to limit laws to 2 or 3 pages, that he’s scared silly of Islam to the point of thinking it’s okay to ban mosques all over the place and that he was proposing a 9-9-9 economic plan, whatever that was. Sure, I’ll admit I wasn’t looking too terribly closely, but come on. Not too many people were.

At least now, with Cain being the front-runner, I have a much better knowledge of what he believes. For example…

…well, this is embarrassing. Apparently, I can’t think of anything else Cain actually believes. And, judging by recent events in the news, Cain doesn’t seem to be able to figure out what he actually believes either.

But, hey. Maybe I’m being unfair. In the case of the abortion debate, Cain claims he was merely clarifying his position when he went back and seemed to change his view entirely.

Some people say he’s waffling, or flip-flopping on his views. Since Cain has recently started to amend his flat tax-esque 9-9-9 to not require the poor to pay so heavily, if at all, in taxes, people have been crying foul, saying he’s shifting his beliefs from one end to the other.

Me, I’m not one of those people. I am of the opinion that Cain is simply completely out of his element. He’s a fish out of water.

In the recent SNL skit, the Marriott TV GOP Debate, the Cain character says something along the lines of “I never thought I’d be taken seriously.” (I would link the video here, but apparently NBC yanked it from Youtube… sadness. SNL Cain’s 3-3-3 health care plan was pretty awesome.) I’m starting to wonder if that’s not what has actually happened to Cain here. I’m starting to wonder if Cain entered the race simply to stir things up and get things said, never considering he’d have a legitimate shot for the title. Now that he’s there, he has to consider what his beliefs are and how to apply them to a national level. Not only that, but since he isn’t Ron Paul, he has to manipulate his beliefs into something he can put his name on that everyone else will vote for.

I mean, just look at this recent stuff. With 9-9-9, he came up with something catchy that he could claim was revenue neutral and that would appeal to many Republicans through its simplicity and (potentially) un-raised taxes. (Though Romney’s needling Cain in the last debate over the finer details of 9-9-9’s application when it comes to state taxes showed me that Cain might be confusing his plan with a Walmart produce department.) Then he was hit with the realization that it wasn’t necessarily very fair to low income families, some of whom might cast votes his way. So, he alters the plan to something more nationally palatable, something more likely to be passed by a Congress that has representatives of BOTH political parties. And he’ll likely continue to change it so long as people keep hammering it for its weaknesses.

Then, there’s the abortion thing. His initial response to Piers Morgan actually strongly echoed the libertarian stance of Ron Paul. The federal government should keep out of the decisions of the citizen. At best, let states make their own laws about these things. Cain is anti-abortion, but willing to let people make their own decisions. Which seems fair. Then, with the sudden realization that anything short of an adamant stance against abortion being legal anywhere for any reason, he decides to “clarify,” since Morgan “pigeonholed him” with hypotheticals, that he would definitely 100% ban abortion, and he was cool with letting people have the choice of whether or not they want to break the law. Which I suppose means he’s against mind control. Pro free will. So, that’s a good thing, right?

Oh, and let’s not forget the electric fence thing. Apparently, electrifying the fence on the border of Mexico was just a joke. Unless it wins him votes. Then it probably was for real.

What’s next? Saying that it isn’t actually the poor, unemployed person’s fault that they have no job despite him saying just that? Clarifying that he meant the poor lazy people? Heck, he’s practically already amended that to mean all the poor, unemployed people are poor and unemployed because it’s their fault that Obama hasn’t helped them stop being unemployed.

Herman Cain isn’t waffling. He isn’t misunderstood. He just doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say. He wants to say the things that will get him votes, but make them things he’s willing to actually support personally. And he has absolutely no idea what that is. I would love it if he could just sit down, write out his beliefs (on only two or three pages, of course), and stick with them. But then he’d be the only GOP politician other than Ron Paul to do something like that. So I’d at least settle for him sounding like he strongly believes in all the contradictory things he said. Some abject denial in the face of evidence would be fine, too. Just give people something other than this muddy, unsure stumbling through politics. If he can’t manage that, then you can watch him go the way of the dodo (which, in this case, refers to Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and a certain avian creature).

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From Your Local Library – “Storm Front” By Jim Butcher

(Side note before I start in on this: My blog on The Dome UA has just updated today, kicking off my series on the 6 feature Muppets films. I’ve decided not to cross post onto this blog, since my whole gig with this blog is nothing but words and any words I want, and that other blog has video links and pics. But do go check it out, let me know what you think. If you like Orson Welles, definitely check it out, since you’ll probably get upset at something I say in there…)

Alright. I am once more sick of politics. The GOP debate can, and will, last me for days with stuff to chat about, like Herman Cain blaming all the jobless people for not having a job that Obama should have been able to give them if he weren’t so busy spending all the money they’re all too lazy to go out and get.

…Yeah, if it isn’t obvious, I’m just annoyed by politics right now. Gaddafi’s dead, which is good, Occupy Wall Street is still going, which I think is good, and Cain is apparently a bit more like Ron Paul when it comes to government non-involvement than I first though. And a bunch of other hooplah. But not even Comedy Central in all its humorous, pointed glory can make me stop being annoyed with most things politic at the moment. So, instead, I bring another section likely to not get utilized too often: “From Your Local Library.” So, a book review, basically.

Do you remember books? It’s those things the Harry Potter movies were first. And while the Harry Potter series did seem to revitalize the art of book reading that has been seeing a severe decline over the years, thanks to TV, movies and video games, and that revitalization has been taken advantage of by series like “Twilight” (shudder) and “The Hunger Games” (which is flippin’ awesome), the decline is still evident.

Maybe some people are just picky and can’t find books they want to read. As many books as I read and have read in the past, I know I’m very picky and wary about delving into a new series or author’s works. I haven’t even read many of the classics of literature. (Though that may be partly due to a librarian banning me from reading “The Last of the Mohicans” when I was a 5th grader, since I was clearly too mentally inferior to read a book of such a high level at such a young age. Her name was Ms. Thrillkill. Not even kidding.) Usually, when I find an author I like, it’s due to someone I trust thrusting a book into my hands and saying “Read it or I might just shoot you.”

Well, one such author I was almost threatened with, and am glad to have read now, is Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files series and The Codex of Alera series. The book I mention in the title, “Storm Front,” is the first book in The Dresden Files. And that makes it the first book in a series that has so far been very rewarding and fun. And a host to more Chekhov’s guns than the Russian army circa World War II could have dreamed of.

The series, which some (coughtheauthorcough) have referred to as “Dirty Harry Potter,” focuses on one Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard private investigator. You can look him up in the Yellow Pages. He is a legitimate wizard, can do real magic and is willing to have people pay him to solve their problems. In the first book, we discover his working relationship with the Chicago Police Department’s Special Investigations division, headed by Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, his occasionally accidentally sexy relationship with reporter for the yellow journalist paper The Arcane Susan Rodriguez, and his not working well at all relationship with the ruling body of the wizarding world, the White Council, represented in this book by Warden (read: magical enforcer) Donald Morgan.

The book was originally going to be titled “Semiautomagic,” which isn’t a half-bad name for it. It definitely gives a peek at what the pace of the action is going to be: Furious, intense bursts. But the series sets us up in this first book with a strong detective story noir feel that continues throughout the majority of the books. For the most part, this book is less about major, world shifting revelations and battles and more about a man hired to do a job that occasionally finds itself sitting somewhere above that man’s head. There are some great action scenes, it has a great deal of pitch perfect setup… and the fact that the books are written in first person from Dresden’s snarky, nerdy, occasionally temperamental eyes makes the series that much more delightful. I find myself giggling very often at some of the happenings in the books.

Not much more for me to say on this first book than you should pick it up. The series on a whole is definitely worth a read, even if some people have been unhappy with the most recent two books (I am not one of those people). But you should be prepared: Butcher drops clues like trees drop leaves in fall. There are so many little, tiny details that are setups for later plot devices, many of which we have yet to even come close to seeing, that the long wait for the next book may drive you a little crazy. But I think it’s worth a read. So go to your local library, pick up “Storm Front” and decide for yourself.

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Semi-Live Blogging Of The Live Blogging Of The Debate

You know what time it is, right? Today was another GOP presidential candidate debate! So it’s time for me to read some random other person’s live blog of the event and comment on the stuff they say happened! Tonight’s lucky winner of the “You’re the first link I found that was live blogging the event” raffle is Boston.com! I’m going to be treating THIS debate response like I do my “Second First Time Viewer” segments, a real time reaction to the event as it goes on.

Today’s debate was hosted by CNN (moderated by Anderson Cooper) and held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jon Huntsman excused himself from tonight’s debate to hold a town hall in New Hampshire, citing ire over Nevada’s push to overtake New Hampshire’s early primary date. In other words, Huntsman has given up on winning in Nevada and hopes to garner some major points in New Hampshire, not to mention he’s probably annoyed because he hasn’t spent any money in Nevada since candidates always spend the big bucks in the first three or so states with primaries/caucuses, which has always been the same. That is a bundle of joy for a later conversation. It seems like Rick Santorum has decided to stick around for this debate despite saying he would boycott it just like Huntsman is. I guess when you’re going to lose and no one cares about your political aspirations, no one cares if you flip flop, either.

…man, watching all this political stuff lately has turned up my cynical-o-meter. Is it wrong of me to think Santorum telling everyone he’s flying the red eye to see his daughter who had surgery today is a ploy to garner sympathy votes?

Michele Bachmann seems to be of the opinion that liberals want the government to tax all the money. Which simply isn’t true. Liberals pay taxes, and I don’t think any of us like the idea of a 90% tax.

It’s interesting to see the other candidates’ positions on Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, which as brief and simple to explain as it is, has caught the eye of the media craze. But Cain is now inviting Americans to do their own math? That’s not a good tactic. That either means you’re hiding something OR it means that you’re telling Americans to think for themselves. Which isn’t a popular stance nowadays.

Personally, I feel like the 9-9-9 plan is very much too simplistic, but I can’t really make a truly informed opinion on it because taxes be crazy. But Rick Perry does have a good point about states that currently have no sales tax suddenly having to be taxed. That sounds like big government, which most Republicans aren’t supposed to like in an economic fashion. I bet Ron Paul hates the idea. And looks like I was right.

Man, I do believe this live blog is right. The first question did seem to point at Cain, but people aren’t so much offering their own solutions (except Ron Paul, of course) as much as they are dog piling Cain’s plan as bad.

Poor Newt Gingrich. I think SNL has him right, he doesn’t actually want to be president. He’s just there to give kudos and talking points. And Gingrich is right. Cain’s plan would be a hard sell. So is any plan to alter taxes whatsoever, it seems. At least, it seems that way nowadays.

And Bachmann seems to want to be rid of taxes entirely. Why doesn’t this surprise me? Taxes aren’t fun, sure, but they are necessary.

Perry is saying the unemployment rate is at 9%? …I swear it was around 11% not so long ago. Wouldn’t that mean President Obama hasn’t been the job killer everyone claims?

It’s interesting that the GOP is touting energy independence and exploration now… what happened to “Drill, baby, drill”?

Aw, the Ricks are fighting. Let’s just let it devolve into a good old Battle Royale, shall we? It’d make good TV and make all the idiocy end more quickly.

This whole “Romneycare” vs. “Obamacare” thing creates an interesting dilemma in the GOP ideologies. Anything socialist or even remotely close to socialist is seen as abhorrent to them, but they’re also big on state’s rights… and Massachusetts as a state apparently likes Mitt Romney’s health care plan. Maybe the dislike for individual mandates and socialism outweighs the whole “That’s what the state wants” philosophy.

The Boston.com live blog is making a good point I hadn’t noticed before. The candidates are actually debating in longer, more full terms against one another. Cooper’s letting them go at one another. Possibly because the next debate isn’t for another three weeks. Small miracles.

Y’know, one of the biggest problems Ron Paul faces is actually his purist political ideals. Everyone knows exactly what his response will be to most every issue. So when he does have something new to say, not too many people are paying attention. Doesn’t help that most people don’t seem to like what he says…

Hm… I don’t know what “loser-pays” insurance laws are… but I get this weird feeling that I wouldn’t like them.

Hm. Strange tactic for Perry to blame illegal immigrants for high rates in Texas health insurance, since immigration is one of the areas people feel Perry has been soft. And of course there’s health care in Houston, but do you realize how big Texas is, Perry? Not everyone can truck it to Houston for good health care.

Apparently, Perry and Romney are yelling at one another now. Perry is probably very desperate to regain his status as top dog and wants to show he can fight. …oh, yay, it’s no longer about the issues. I admit, this issue-based debate lasted longer than I thought it would.

Uh-oh, Romney touched Perry! How many news outlets are going to carry that picture with a title using the word “assault” tomorrow, I wonder?

Well, the debate seems to have been reigned back in and is targeting Cain’s electric fence joke from before. Hopefully, people won’t chat too long about that.

A full fence would cost $30 billion, eh? Sounds like wasteful spending. Wasteful spending that most GOP candidates seem to want. Which I find odd.

Bachmann wants a double-fence? Quick, to AutoTunes!

…and she wants to make English the government’s official language. …why? What is the point of bothering with something so massively trivial as that? Seriously.

More immigration fighting, with Perry trying to fight against people viewing he likes having illegals around by pointing the finger at Romney, who he claims hired an illegal.

Paul raises a good point (which he seems to do every so often). If we were more economically stable, the immigration debate might not be so contentious.

Woah, what? The live blog says Cain sidestepped a question about whether the 14th Amendment should be repealed. Who the heck asked that question?

Ooh, Perry is getting annoyed at Cooper now. I’m not sure that all this angry reaction stuff will be in Perry’s favor. Of course, Cooper is one of them “dern liberals,” so…

I’m admittedly glad that none of the candidates seem to be for repealing the 14th Amendment. Or, at least, won’t say if they are before they check with pollsters and make sure that’s a good thing.

Paul once again gets slightly shafted, being the first against just having the federal government pick a state to dump nuclear waste in, and then having Perry give Romney the credit for the idea. Though I don’t know if I understand Perry’s desire to have states compete over having nuclear waste. I mean, I guess the states get paid for it…

Okay, I had to look up the TARP program to remember what it was. It was signed into law by George W. Bush a few months before he left office. …so, why is Bachmann blaming Obama for TARP? Oh, I forget. Obama is the bogeyman.

I’m disappointed that the Boston.com live blog didn’t cover the candidates’ reactions to the Occupy Wall Street movement. That’s something current that interests me.

Religion discussion was rather brief… and far less inflammatory than I thought it might end up.

Hah! Love Cooper trying to get Bachmann on track… have fun herding those cats, friend.

It’s interesting that Paul is for cutting defense. I think that’s one of the things that makes a lot of GOP members wary of him.

And on foreign aid, some candidates are very much for having none whatsoever, it seems. Not so unsurprising, but it seems to conflict with the idea of America being the world’s police. I think that’s one of the things I’ve been noticing over and over again in these debates: Massive conflict in the ideologies.

Bachmann says no negotiating with terrorists ever. Here’s my problem with that “never ever” stance: It leads to the deaths of innocents. It’s a very cold, harsh stance devoid of any humanity. It may have its pluses, but it certainly has its minuses as well.

The live blog is putting up some of the CNN rush transcript from the more catty segments of the debate. And apparently, Cooper thought it’d be okay to be snarky. That man has some serious balls.

Ah. Santorum won a swing state that could tank Obama. Clearly, since he can take Pennsylvania away from Obama, people should vote for him. Not because he’d be a good president or anything.

Romney is pointing to Perry supporting Al Gore as a bad thing against George W. Bush. …do conservatives still think W. was a good president? I’m curious.

Cain makes his case for why he should be president… and I don’t really know who I want the GOP to nominate. Cain might have a chance. Then again, people might think he has no clue as to what he’s talking about.

Aw, Cooper tried to shut out Bachmann and Gingrich. Naughty. Bachmann’s probably right, she is the most different from Obama… being that she’s a crazy person… and Gingrich tries to say people should vote for him because he’d go toe-to-toe in legitimate debates. …while I’d love to see legitimate debates, I don’t think skill in debating should be the big reason people vote for you.

And it looks like Paul got shafted. A lot. Again. I may not be a Ron Paul supporter (or a supporter of anyone in the GOP), but that guy gets treated like crap a lot of times, it seems. Not that he seems to care, he’s going to keep on trucking. Like the GOP’s own little Ralph Nader or Alan Keyes.

And that’s the debate. Some issues to talk about more in depth, some media flubs, some serious ire between Romney and Perry… we’ll see later how all that turns out, I reckon. But for now, for me, that’s all I’ve got. I’m sure to let this thing fuel me for a while, though.

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Must We Be Defined By Our Extremes?

Combing through Mediaite.com as I seem to often do these days (Really, I just have the front page open and hit refresh when I remember to.), I came upon this article: Herman Cain: The Goal Of Liberals Is To Economically Destroy The United States.

That headline required a lot of blinking on my part to get past. Much like Hedwig’s death in the seventh Harry Potter book (…that isn’t still a spoiler, right?), I had to reread it a few times to make sure I wasn’t having a bad trip from all the acid I’ve never dropped. So then I looked at the article to make sure the person writing it wasn’t having a bad trip from all the acid they’ve likely never dropped.

And, no. It’s legit.

…sigh.

This sort of think is certainly not new. Especially not from Herman Cain. Does no one remember his anti-Muslim “Sharia law is sneaking into the United States” nonsense? Of course, amongst the GOP, that’s probably a help. But the problem seems to be two-fold: Willful ignorance and a definition formed by the extremes.

What is a liberal? It is a person who wants change, in the most basic dictionary definition. Sure, there are some people that would love to see so much change in America that it effectively is burned down and forced to pull a phoenix out of its ashes. While some people, like myself, find capitalism as it currently stands to be rather crappy and would love to see a major economic policy shift, I know that in my case I want to see it happen gradually. The thing about tearing things down is that the bigger the thing you tear down is, the more likely someone innocent is to get hurt. And the economy is huge.

Really, this whole being defined by the extremes thing has likely happened since the dawn of time. It’s easier to stereotype people, and the most extreme thing that a group of people has done is also likely to be the most well known thing. What do Americans remember Muslims for? 9/11. What do atheists remember Christians for? Westboro Baptist Church and the Spanish Inquisition. What do liberals remember Alaskans for? Sarah Palin.

Now, sometimes, the stereotypes and actions taken by the stereotypes lessen. Liberals don’t blame Alaska for Palin, most atheists I’ve met don’t lump Christians together as a large hate group, blacks don’t all think white people are still racists that want to enslave them, Jews don’t think Germans all want to kill them, et cetera. But, for some reason, in politics especially, we have been letting ourselves define the opposition by the most bombastic, radical, moronic things that could even come close to fitting into their area. It seems like, as time has moved on, bipartisanship has become even more like a black unicorn: practically nonexistent even in fantasies.

Just look at the Republican opposition to the jobs bill Obama has been trying to get passed, or the recent debt ceiling derpfest. Parties drew lines, pointed fingers, called the opposition evil and refused to even attempt to work things out.

Why? Why are we letting ourselves do this? It’s ridiculous and only hurts our nation and our world more every day.

When people tell you liberals want to economically destroy America, whether you’re a liberal or not, you should stare at them and ask if a liberal told them that. Then you should find a liberal that isn’t a nut case, and there are many of us, and ask him or her if the economic destruction of the United States is in their bucket list. I’m betting it won’t be.

If someone tells you that conservatives want to tax the poor to destitution, whether you’re a conservative or not, you should stare at them and ask if a conservative told them that. Then you should find a conservative that isn’t a nut case, and I know a couple (man, my points would be easier to make if I didn’t keep teasing my conservative friends), and ask him or her if the massive taxation of the poor is in their bucket list. I’m betting it won’t be.

The pundits of the 24 hour news networks have gotten into the groove of reporting sensational news. And which is more sensational: People being somewhat rational about their beliefs and somewhat moderate, or the one guy that thinks lighting the financial district on fire would purge America of all its evils? The problem with this is that the people who let themselves be informed totally by these pundits and sensationalism-mongers have no idea how terribly misleading a lot of this “reporting” is. For goodness sake, I bet there are people out there that honestly think Glen Beck was right when he said the Occupy Wall Street protesters “will come for you, drag you into the streets, and kill you.” To any thinking man, this is blatant sensationalism. To those that have allowed themselves to be conned into thinking these people know what they’re talking about and do it to be objective newscasters, this has become truth.

I can’t really figure it out. Honestly. I know why the sensationalism happens, by and large. I know why the ignorance gets proliferated. I know why people find it easier to point at a crazy and say, “This is what all _______s believe” than to do any actual research or ask a sane person what they think, but I still just don’t get it. Especially in this information age, where knowledge is so readily available to any that seek it out (in America, at least). This sort of thing should be a relic of the past, when ignorance was proliferated by a lack of education or access to information. We have Wikis for everything. We have Google. We have massively large numbers of people blogging about anything and everything. We have TV, radio, cell phones. We shouldn’t be beholden to this ridiculous thought process. And yet, as time marches on, we seem to dig into it further.

Do yourself a favor. Find someone that can talk calmly and rationally that disagrees with you on a subject and talk about it. Grab some knowledge. None of the people in charge seem willing to, so maybe we should strive to be better than them.

It can’t be that hard.

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The Not-So-Master Debaters At It Again

As many probably know, tonight was yet another GOP presidential nominee debate, the Bloomberg/Washington Post debate with a particular focus on the economy. And it was once again filled with all sorts of goodies that occasionally made sense, but more often hit the realm of making me attempt to install my frontal lobe as a permanent fixture in my desk.

Reading through the highlights of the USA Today live blog of the debate, I found many a nugget that was cringe worthy, and many a nugget worth thinking about. Instead of dedicating an entire post to one specific idea tonight, I think I want to hit the highlights myself. Partly because there’s a lot to mention, and partly because the economy is my weakest subject. Just like America. Boom! Oh, that would be so much funnier if it weren’t so true…

Moving on.

Mitt Romney seems to have already claimed the nomination. Most of what I’m reading shows Romney knocking down Obama, as if preparing for the actual election. He does still hold the most consistently high ratings in the polls, so maybe it’s not too arrogant of him to take that stance. Not to mention, the GOP will be looking for someone to beat Obama, not just someone that looks good.

Michele Bachmann wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank law. Now, I’m not 100% certain what’s all in this law. It is rather large, as most reformative laws are, and Wikipedia seems to have a decent summary of everything in it… but from what I understand, most of the provisions haven’t even been instated yet. Further, every time our economy has suffered a huge loss because of, say, banks failing or the housing market busting, it has been because no one was stopping people from doing things that were stupid and wrong. Y’know, a lack of oversight and all that. With all the crap that has happened in the financial district in the past 5 years, I certainly want companies to feel like they can’t get away with anything that is harmful to the people that aren’t making the big paychecks. As much as a Big Brother type government frightens me when applied socially, I think some of these companies have shown that anything less will make them think they can get away with murder. Of the economy, at least.

Newt Gingrich actually finds some people involved with Occupy Wall Street to be “decent respectable citizens.” This is something the GOP leaders need to start coming to grips with. Glen Beck is a mudslinging moron out to attract attention through bombastic statements. The OWS group is not out to murder and destroy. They are not foaming at the mouth. They are upset about the status quo. And they are Americans, just like everyone else in the country. Meaning what they think matters. And this isn’t even that small of a group. The GOP needs to stop avoiding and distancing themselves from these Americans and start trying to help them out. A president needs to think of ALL Americans, not just the ones that agree with him or her most often.

Romney wants to crack down on China economically. This is one basic point Romney and I might just agree on. The specifics for both of us may vary, but our economic partnership with China is one of our biggest problems for our economy. Why is the job market down? Because companies are shifting all their jobs to the cheaper China. Why is China cheaper? Because they don’t regulate things even a little bit. Which is why you hear about stuff being full of lead and recalled all the time. What we need is a way to keep American companies strongly in America, but I don’t think we can sacrifice the demand for excellence and safety in production. I don’t have a suggestion, other than something crazy like another Embargo Act. …yeah, I said it was crazy.

The rest of the GOP contenders think Romney’s close to claiming the nomination, too. During the free-for-all section, pretty much everyone was looking to take Romney down a peg. Except Bachmann, who went after Perry for some reason. Maybe she’s just upset that Perry pretty much single-handedly killed her campaign? And Rick Santorum, who wants to knock everyone down a peg. And if that happened, they’d still be an entire ladder above him.

Herman Cain wants simplicity, Romney wants comprehensiveness. I can kind of see Cain’s point of view. Some may recall his much earlier campaign talk about making bills 3 pages long or so. Jon Stewart poked fun at that on “The Daily Show,” prompting Cain and FOX News to slam Stewart as a racist. For some reason. But Cain wants a simple, easy to implement and easy to understand program. Makes sense, until you realize how little sense it makes. Simple solutions aren’t always the best solutions, especially in something so tricky and convoluted as law. You have to cover all your bases, eliminate loopholes, make sure the language isn’t vague… I mean, 9-9-9 does sound like a pizza deal.

Santorum wants to blame the economy on the American family. Here’s a hint, Santorum: Blaming the crap that’s happening now on the people being hurt most by it, who are also the people that will be voting, is not exactly the way to win an election. Just a heads up.

Ron Paul doesn’t have much to say. I don’t know if this was because of the live blog I was specifically following, the media trying to steer clear of “that crazy libertarian,” particularly since the topic was economy and his economic ideas aren’t exactly in line with the standard schools of political thought, or if Paul really didn’t have much to say. His campaign has apparently been staying well afloat lately, but it still seems like he won’t get the final oomph he needs to actually snag the nomination: Fanatic media adoration.

Hopefully, next debate will be back to social issues, so I can curl up in a fetal position and start weeping.

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The New Political Uselessness: Poll Dancing

In the past month or so, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have all managed to win some random poll somewhere. And sometimes people won or placed high in polls they weren’t even part of. Rick Perry placed in the Ames Straw Poll before he actually announced his candidacy for presidency. And now, with Ron Paul’s recent poll win, there are some saying that Paul shouldn’t have won the poll, so the results don’t really matter.

Personally, I’m wondering… why stop there? Just because Paul got people to mobilize and vote for him in a poll doesn’t mean his ranking in the poll doesn’t matter. It means he’s got people willing to vote for him, which I believe is a good thing in a presidential candidate.

No, Paul getting people mobilized isn’t why the results shouldn’t matter. The results shouldn’t matter because the polls are all a load of bull that don’t actually mean anything.

What are these polls? In the case of the GOP primary polls, sometimes a randomly selected group of people, and sometimes a group of people that pay money to be allowed to poll, are asked a simple question: “Who would you vote for if the election were today?” Or something along those lines. But these aren’t national polls. These polls are localized to a specific place, and sometimes limited to people willing to pay money. Which I can only imagine lessens the number by a bit. Sure, some of these polls have accurately predicted the GOP presidential nominee in years past. But, really, it doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t.

Yet, in a world where news stations have, as Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” has put it, only two settings, blackout and circus, it becomes difficult to have the media actually focus on the things that matter and stop blowing tiny idiocies out of proportion.

The focus shouldn’t be on the race, on who is “winning” or “ahead.” The focus should be on the issues. Hit the candidates with questions, dig into their voting history if they have one, or their policies. With nine candidates playing musical chairs with the lead, I think it’s safe to say the lead doesn’t actually matter. I mean, let’s face it. Politics is a complete crapshoot. Bad weather in a district can cause an underdog to shoot ahead of an incumbent. Bad weather. That’s all it takes. And, hell, Obama was pretty close to dead last at one point in the political race. I’m not even 100% certain a lot of people knew who he was before Joe “Gaffemaster Flash” Biden talked about his clean, articulate nature.

But for some reason, America has gotten comfortable with this competitive reality TV view of life. We’re forgoing substance for gladiatorial-esque entertainment. For God’s sake, another 20 years like this and our presidential elections might start taking place in the Thunderdome. “Two men enter, one man leaves.”

Who cares if Ron Paul won Random McWhoever’s Facebook poll amongst his friends? Who cares if Michele Bachmann came out first in a door to door in Juneau, Alaska? What I want to know is Rick Santorum’s position on education reform. I want to know what Herman Cain will do when our relations with North Korea inevitably get tense again. I want to know if Newt Gingrich is even still running, and if he is, what his plan is to convince American companies to stop running across the Pacific to let China make all our stuff.

Those are the things that really matter. Those are the real issues. Don’t just get mad at Wall Street for completely screwing over our economy. Get mad at news media for falling down on the job of objective reporting of the things that matter. At failing to inform the public. At spreading sensationalism and ignorance. Sure, voters need to research stuff for themselves either, but it certainly doesn’t help when networks take focus away from the actual situations at hand. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, story about Scott Brown making a random, idiotic one sentence attempt at a joke about Elizabeth Warren. Whether or not the comment was stupid or sexist isn’t what matters. Sure it was stupid. Yeah, it may have even been slightly sexist. And I bet any number of other Americans has said worse and dumber in an attempt at a quick joke. Let’s focus on the fact that Warren’s politics are better than Brown’s, please?)

Personally, I’d love to see “Occupy FOX News” as the next big movement. Or whatever news station. None of them are really doing their jobs anymore. At least, that’s what my most recent poll of people sitting in my chair at home says. Trust me, it’s legit.

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The Sound Byte GOP “Debates”

Quick: Tell me what each of the GOP candidates’ stances on education are.

Can’t do education? Huh. Well, then, how about jobs?

…no? Let’s try immigration, can you give me that one? No?

Don’t worry. It’s not you (and it’s not me either). The GOP “debates” have been about as informational as the occasional “Did You Know…”s you find on cereal boxes.

With a total of nine candidates now being invited to the GOP debates, it’s darn near impossible for any sort of meaningful discourse to actually occur within the time slot of two hours. And that’s a huge problem.

What does anyone actually know about any of these candidates? When have any of them been truly challenged? The debate format basically asks each candidate to say the right combination of buzz words that will get the crowd in a tizzy. “I will repeal Obamacare!” “We need to build a fence!” “Bring the troops home!” “We need to win the war against terror!” (Yeah, I don’t quite get how those last two work together, but whatever.)

Further, candidates are encouraged to dogpile the biggest threat currently standing with them. For the past several debates, it’s been Rick Perry. It’ll probably shift back to Mitt Romney soon, but who knows? Herman Cain just won the Florida Straw Poll, and popularity in this race-to-get-to-the-race seems to be more wishy washy than Charlie Brown in a laundromat. (See what I did there?)

Candidates aren’t really given much time to respond fully and accurately to questions, nor to respond to allegations made by other candidates. This tends to lead to a lot of misleads, or even flat out lies (*coughBachmanncough*), because what’s the likelihood that Americans will actually fact check things? The power of media is that people believe it more often than they are willing to check it and be sure.

What this means is that issues go undefined, undiscussed and unresolved. And it just perpetuates the ignorance viewers have about the issues and the candidates. Heck, the candidates that are asked certain questions seems to be random, too. Last debate, only Rick Santorum was asked about the DADT repeal. Why not ask all the candidates? Heck, why not have debates solely about specific issues. One debate on jobs. One debate on government programs (Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare). One debate of social issues (war, DADT). One debate on the budget. Whatever. You get the gist.

That way, instead of having several 2 hour segments where candidates have interesting new ways to say the same exact brief things and sound as eloquent and buzz wordy as possible, you would have 2 hour segments where and issue was legitimately deliberated and discussed and defined. Moderators could guide discussion or do on the spot fact checks to keep the discussion accurate.

But, of course, that wouldn’t make good TV, right?

No, as the Romans and the NFL taught us, bloodbaths and competition are what makes TV exciting. That’s why debates have “winners” and “losers”. Things that are, frankly, decided rather arbitrarily by a bunch of pundits that want to throw their weight behind a specific candidate. Whoever the media calls a winner gets a boost and a target for the next debate, while the loser gets to hear 24 hour news networks say their name all day accompanied with “loser, loser, losing loser that loses.”

Now, perhaps having all the different candidates up on the stage tossing out differing ideas is a good thing. But, to be honest, you could kick out at least 3 of the candidates and still pretty much get all the variety you need in ideas.

But the preliminaries aren’t my biggest concern for this issue. No, I’m worried that the news networks will pull this crap during the debates that matter, the actual Presidential debates.

I had been watching quite a bit of “The West Wing” back when my internet connection wasn’t slower than constipated snail poop. I’d never watched it when it was actually on, but I’d heard enough good things from people I trust that I wanted to look into it.

In one episode, the episode that basically gave President Bartlett his second term in office, the single presidential debate was to be held. Only one debate. People were being trained on how to spin things as briefly and buzz wordy as possible, coming up with “ten-word responses” and the like. Fortune cookie politics. Bartlett, who knew what he believed and had no qualms with slapping around a guy that only knew how to speak in PR terms for his lack of knowledge, destroyed him during the debate.

We need to have a set up that allows people to address the issue by defining what the issue even is before proposing solutions for it. A set up that educates Americans on the candidates and the problems the nation is facing. We need honest, real debates, with constant fact checking and detailed answers.

We don’t need catchy slogans winning the race, on EITHER side. We need someone who knows what he or she believes and knows what he or she is going to do in office.

But along with that, WE need to know, too. Otherwise, this nation will be held hostage to an ignorance that will consume us and lead to our merrily accepted downfall.

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