Meritocracy, Anyone? – Part 2

If ever there were a more comical sideshow in American politics currently than the plight of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, I can’t think of it. The economy is continuing its downward spiral, Congress has effectively checked itself out until the new year, and South Asia is reasserting itself as the most dangerous part of the world, much to the consternation of American foreign policy. Yet the ineptness and strangely frank and upfront attempts at corruption displayed by Governor Blagojevich have pushed all that bleakness aside. Continue reading “Meritocracy, Anyone? – Part 2”

The Empty Balcony: Jarhead & Generation Kill

Marines can be grossly immature. In point of fact, that’s a generalization which can be made about members of all the four services, but especially Marines. A young grunt’s slang and mannerisms are by design repugnant, frequently homophobic or faux homoerotic, and sometimes racist. The young Marine is the very personification of testosterone run wild, machismo fueled by hormones thrown all out of whack by age, temperament, and environment. The young can be crazed and inelegant all on their own, but military training hones these traits to a fine edge, a bizarre side effect of turning what was a boy into a highly efficient killing machine. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Jarhead & Generation Kill”

Meritocracy, Anyone?

New York State Governor David Paterson has an interesting problem. The state’s junior senator, Hillary Clinton, will soon be leaving her post to take up duties as the next Secretary of State, and the burden of choosing someone to finish her term has fallen on Mr. Paterson. To put it politely, politics in New York State is disgusting. It is dysfunctional, frequently corrupt, and mostly inept. It usually serves to unapologetically further the ambitions of individuals over their constituents, and there is little reason to believe, despite Governor Paterson’s good reputation, that the selection of the state’s next Senator will be any different. Continue reading “Meritocracy, Anyone?”

Oval Office Thunderdome: The Maps

Months and months went by and we all saw the maps. Generally shaded in five or six colors, shades of red, blue, and yellow or grey with new names, new notations and definitions. Strong Obama blue, weak Obama blue, strong McCain red, weak McCain pink and tossup yellow or undecided grey. New additions to the Crayola 64? Not likely, but someday soon may see Democratic blue and Republican red in crayon boxes throughout America’s elementary schools, simplifications of two colors that have become so associated with American political ideology and identity that the shift may be permanent. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: The Maps”

Oval Office Thunderdome: Things Come Together

Waving the Flag

New York City exploded when Barack Obama was called as the victor Tuesday night. Harlem, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Times Square, all these places and more, filled with people celebrating Obama’s win. These images are from Union Square approximately half an hour after Obama delivered his victory speech. The sounds of whooping and cheering could be heard for blocks, reverberating off the concrete and glass of the surrounding buildings. New York wasn’t alone. A quick search on flickr turned up more than 20,000 photographs uploaded since Wednesday morning of gatherings all over the country, from Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, etc. This was a deeply moving sight to behold, an expulsion of eight years of frustration and anger in a single, affirming moment. It was as if even Americans had doubts about our nation’s ability to achieve greatness, to rise above. The celebration was raucous because we proved ourselves wrong, and have begun healing the damage done by the Bush presidency.

Oval Office Thunderdome: Missile Test Predicts!

Prediction is a science. Just ask any physicist. The functioning of the universe operates within well-established rules of probability. The margins are slim, but real. For example, there is a slight chance, 1 in 1 trillion trillion trillion, that when placing your hand on a wall, it will pass right through. This isn’t magic — it’s physics. Missile Test takes politics every bit as seriously as science. As such, Missle Test has spent painstaking minutes theorizing, experimenting, and rigorously analyzing all the factors that will decide this election. These are not just predictions, but will be proven as immutable fact after election day. There is no margin of error on this page. We deal with realities. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: Missile Test Predicts!”

Oval Office Thunderdome: If the Dead Could Talk…

The best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the...courage of everyday Americans, those who are...fighting our wars for us, those who are protecting us in uniform...

— Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin, addressing a McCain rally in North Carolina

Since the war in Iraq began, 67 residents of the city of New York, where I live, have been killed in the conflict. This number does not include those that have died in Afghanistan, nor those from the wider New York metropolitan area. In fact, from areas of the country that Sarah Palin presumably regards as not pro-America, i.e., from states that voted for John Kerry in the 2004 election, 1,789 service members have been killed. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: If the Dead Could Talk...”

Film in the Tubes: The Herbivore

The contributors to Wikipedia define outsider art as art “created outside the boundaries of official culture.” They also define folk art as “generally produced by people who have little or no academic artistic training, nor a desire to emulate ‘fine art’.” Internet filmmaker James Rolfe has gained attention for his in-character video reviews of retro videogames, and also for his film reviews. Before he was a viral star, Rolfe made over a hundred short films, starting at an early age. These films are strictly low-rent, mostly made on his parents’ home video camera. As such, they mostly show the over-active imagination of a hyperactive child. Some of them are purely playtime — Rolfe hanging out with friends and convincing them to whirl around plastic swords while he tapes. But, in 1997, he hit gold. Continue reading “Film in the Tubes: The Herbivore”

Mike Likes His Job

Michael Bloomberg is a popular and successful mayor. The city has thrived with him in City Hall. Increases in crime that have bedeviled other large cities in the United States these past years have either been non-existent or far less severe, depending on the category, while police tactics have been less punitive than they were under Rudy Giuliani. A troubled budgetary state following Giuliani’s largess and misspending was stabilized. Public schools have a higher graduation rate since the city took control of their operations. New York has been a leader in an aggressive pursuit of illegal firearms sales. Bloomberg has also been a consummate advocate for the city, traveling to Washington to secure fair treatment from a government too willing to ignore the problems of big cities. Continue reading “Mike Likes His Job”