Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Politics beyond the Beltway 8/30: Importance of Independent Voters

It was an interesting lecture today. We covered a variety of things in just under two hours. I like that the professor doesn't interject his own political philosophy into the class. It seems he's disgusted with both major parties and as one who feels the same, I can appreciate where he's coming from.

One of the things we touched on the importance of the Independent voters. In Florida the Independent voters are the sway vote and this is becoming more and more prevalent in other states. The Independent voter is a growing movement, gaining momentum faster than either of the two major parties.

As an Independent voter I vote for person not party. I am very tired of the partisan politics going on in both the D and R parties. I don't want to affiliate myself with that so I choose to be an Independent. For me, being an Independent is a sense of freedom. I am not tied to allegiance to any particular party platform, rather I create my own platform of values and beliefs which make up who I am. Some of my values may resonate with those in the D while other values may resonate with R, and yet others may resonate with Libertarians. Some people may refer to Independents as "wishy washy" but that is not true. I find that most Independents I know think very carefully about the people and the issues at stake before voting. Values are not owned by any party, regardless of how much they would like us to believe that. My values and beliefs are my own, no party owns them, no party ever will.

In thinking about the force of Independents, I do believe not enough credit has been given to the strength of the Independent vote. Dems will always vote D and Reps will always vote R but Independents can go either way, they have no allegiance. This is very dangerous for any individual who thinks they have an election in their pocket. It also seems to me that despite the growing numbers of Independent voters, neither major party has committed itself to marketing directly to Independent voters. What does that say?  Are the D's and R's just not reading the polls? Why are the strategists overlooking the increasingly large number of Americans who are moving towards the middle? Or are they?  Since R's vote R and D's vote D, the vote that needs campaigning for is the undecided vote. Those are the ones you have to sway and so far I'm not swayed. Frankly I think it's time for a very strong Independent candidate to run and give the D's and R's a run for their money. Yes, it's definitely time.

In any case, among the many interesting things we discussed today, this was one. We did not go into detail about Independents, rather we covered a variety of issues but I wanted to elaborate on my feelings about the Independent vote. Comments always welcome!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Politics beyond the Beltway 8/23: Becoming Empowered and a Little Angry Too!

My "Politics Beyond the Beltway" lecture is Tuesdays and Thursdays and I decided I'm going to pass the some good info on to you to foster a bit of discussion or maybe just for your own reading enjoyment. This course is all about politics outside the DC Beltway, this includes state and local government. The professor is very clear from the beginning that we're going to be angry and outraged about some things and I'm ok with that. I've been outraged for years, hence why I blog so much political stuff. The primary reason I'm taking the course is to learn more about what's going on behind the scenes so I can use that information to be empowered and empower others. That's what it's all about.

I'm the only History major in the class, the remaining are Political Science majors, with a few Journalism students in there somewhere. At 41, I'm the oldest student in there and it shows LOL. Let's just say the professor today talked about Eastern Airlines and I was the only one in the class who remembers when Eastern used to fly and when they filed for bankruptcy (1989). I don't think any of my classmates were even born then! 

The title of each post related to the class will be Politics Beyond the Beltway and will include the lecture date. It'll also be a good reference for me to go back years from now and see what I got out of the class as I was taking it. I promise you this is going to be a great class.

Oh yeah we've got some great texts, among them Carl Hiaasen, Barbara Ehrenreich, William Julius Wilson and Mary Pattillo. More to come on these texts later. 

Uh oh someone let Joe Biden run loose again!

Joe Biden is in China telling the Chinese government he "understands" the one-child policy, yet he explains to them the reason it's a bad policy is because the family will only have one wage earner to support the family when the parents get too old to work. 
What the hell??? 
Seriously, could there not be a better reason it's a bad policy? How about the whole moral issue involved in a government dictating to a couple how many children they are allowed to have? 
Interesting isn't it that in China the government forces a woman to have an abortion, yet in America the government, or at least many in it want to force a woman not to have an abortion. Either way, it's just wrong for government to dictate reproductive rights, period. And IMO that should be the basis for Biden's argument, at least it makes more sense than what he came up with.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

As you go about your day, try to remember...

.......everyone has a story.

Think about that before you judge the overweight woman at Wal-Mart, the homeless guy holding up the sign, the mom who can't get her kids under control, the co-worker who doesn't dress as nice as you do, the student who can't focus in class, the cashier at the supermarket who moves too slow, the cop with the attitude, the kid who bullies others at school, the waiter who forgets to bring you the check, the city bus driver who cuts you off, and all the other people who piss you off during the course of your day, don't do things the way you think they should or live their lives the way you think they should.

We all have a story that explains who we are and if others took the time to get to know us, they might understand that and maybe the world would be just a little better for all of us.

Emmert suggests NCAA "death penalty"

After the most recent incident at the University of Miami, NCAA President Mark Emmert says he supports using the NCAA "death penalty" against schools where violations of NCAA rules occurs.  This penalty of last resort punishes a school by prohibiting it from participating in a sport.  I am really torn on the idea of punishing a school, a team and the fans by banishing the participation in a particular sport due to the bad ethics or mistakes of others.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Being kind and courteous on its way out?

The other day I was walking out of my building on campus after work and heading to my car. Over my shoulder was my tote bag with miscellaneous notebooks and books for class and in my arms I was carrying my desktop CPU. The unit was heavy but not so much I couldn't carry it for a short distance. I will say it was awkward and I was anxious to get to the car and unload it.

Separating the set of buildings where my office is located and the parking lot is a narrow drive called McCarty Drive. It's just a pass through mostly for buses to go from one stop to the next. Just at the moment I wanted to cross McCarty Drive, at least five RTS buses headed my way. I wasn't stupid enough to try to run across and beat them so I waited, despite the fact the load I was carrying was getting increasingly heavy and hurting my already sore shoulder. Now mind you there were five buses in a row, the speed limit on campus is 20 MPH and so it would not be a big deal for a bus to stop and let someone cross. I've seen drivers in buses and other vehicles do it, it's sort of a courtesy. Heck I do it for people all the time when I'm in the car. Given I had this heavy load, I had hoped one of the buses might stop so I could cross the drive in a few short seconds and get to the car.

To my surprise not one of the first four buses stopped, instead they sped right by me as if I weren't there hunched over nearly dropping my CPU. The fifth and final bus stopped and waved me on by. I mouthed a gracious "THANK YOU" to him and he nodded and smiled. I know I should not have been pissed off about those first four buses not having the courtesy to stop, but I was because it seems like the older I get the less courteous people tend to be. I know that not all people are rude and discourteous but it seems everywhere I go, rudeness runs rampant.I've encountered rude RTS drivers before so why was I even surprised? I don't know, maybe it's because sometimes I'm just naive enough to believe that there are people who still care. Yes, I know lots of people do care but the question is why do the others not care? What makes a person ignore someone in need of help when they are right in front of them?

I wish I'd gotten the bus numbers of all five buses, the first four so I could call their supervisor and tell them what inconsiderate assholes they have working for them and the fifth one so I could tell his supervisor how awesome it was that he took a few seconds out of his busy day to be nice to a stranger on the side of the road. Years from now, it's going to be him I remember, not those other jerks.

Goodbye General Motors, you just lost my business permanently.

I was really shocked to learn that General Motors says they are not responsible for repairing suspension defects in more than 400,000 Impalas made in 2007 and 2008.


The powers that be at "New" GM (post-bailout) say they are not responsible for repairs for flaws in GM vehicles maufactured under the "Old" GM (pre-bailout) because they are not the same company.  

So, using my power as a consumer, I am serious when I say that my 2009 GMC Sierra extended cab is the last GM vehicle I will ever purchase. That's because I am not the same person after the bailout that I was before the bailout.

Good riddance to you asshats.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My 2012 [H]ouse MD calendar is missing something...

Every year I indulge in my annual [H]ouse MD wall calendar and this year is no different. I love looking at it and it makes a great conversation piece for my students and colleagues when they walk into my office. Now imagine my surprise when I took a look at the photos inside for each month of 2012 and the talented Lisa Edelstein aka Dr. Lisa Cuddy did NOT have her own month. Every year she's been featured and now in 2012's Season 7 calendar, she's featured only in a few smaller photos with Hugh and Bob.

Seriously? I mean damn...even the untalented Olivia Wilde who appeared in only four episodes this past season got her own month. For Realz? I call that a really BIG WTF on the part of NBC Universal for this one. Shame on you guys for leaving Lisa out of this. She was as important in the show as Hugh and Bob, surely she deserved a layout like they did. My guess is the calendar wasn't as big a shoot as the one for Season 6 (which frankly I thought was really well done with the snakes and the RV shots), but still, they could have done Lisa justice and respected her huge contribution of the show. I mean damn, if Olivia Wilde gets her own month, why not Lisa?

The non-[H]ouse fans won't care but those who are fans of the show will know what I'm talking about here. Talk about a big time screwup!  Anyway that's my rant and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Good intentions gone awry: Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary

A lot of people may not know the backstory of Steve and Penny Lefkowitz and Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary in High Springs Florida. These are actually two kind people whose good intentions and desire to help save homeless cats just got out of control and became too overwhelming for them to handle.

About two years ago I'd had several conversations with Penny as I was referred to her by a friend, who also works in her spare time to save animals.  I really admired Steve and Penny for all the hard work they put into Haven Acres. Despite the fact the City of High Springs kept wanting to shut them down, they persevered.  What many people do not know is that they ran Haven Acres on their own 8 acre farm and incorporated it into a 501(c)(3) in 2005. No cats were ever turned away.  Steve & Penny put most of their personal income into Haven Acres (they also accepted donations) and all of their spare time when they were not working.  It took a lot of time to care for the cats as you can imagine. They had a veterinarian they worked with and they also were able to adopt many animals out over the years. But unfortunately with the large number of irresponsible people in society, the number of unwanted cats just increased. As Haven Acres grew more popular, people kept dumping their cats there.

For the record, State Attorney Bill Cervone stated that he does not think this was intentional, he believes it was good intentions gone awry. I do not believe these two individuals deserve prison time, not for trying to do the right thing. I believe intent matters and should be taken into consideration.  This is a very sad case indeed. It is sad that Haven Acres even had to exist because people are too irresponsible to do the right thing and care for their animals. It is sad that Steve and Penny were so desperate to save these animals that they couldn't say no and became overwhelmed. It is sad that because they couldn't say no, some of the animals became ill.  The whole situation is just very sad indeed.
Sometimes it's just difficult to acknowledge that one or two people simply can't do it all. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Women in politics deserve to be judged for their politics not their gender...

Congrats to the National Organization for Women for coming out against Newsweek in regards to their cover photo of Michelle Bachmann! While I do not support Bachmann, I do question Newsweek's statement that the photo is the most flattering they could find for their "Queen of Rage" cover. There are a thousand photos of Michele Bachmann out there, why choose the one that seems to enhance the chosen caption? Obviously there is an agenda.
It is the news media's job to present the facts without bias. In publishing a news story about Michele Bachmann, Newsweek (as with every other news outlet) is duty-bound to avoid taking sides. If they are targeting her politics then it should be based on her political views not her physical appearance or gender.
Over the years I've caught on to the disparaging remarks made about political women like Geraldine Ferraro, Ann Richards, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Janet Reno, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann, just to name a few. Their physical appearance and gender-related issues were used in an attempt to discredit their politics yet their male counterparts never suffered the same fate.  I've never heard the media attempt to use gender to discredit the politics of male politicians. Why is it different for women? Why do we expect women to conform to a different set of standards? Why are men and women in politics treated differently?
Men and women are obviously different for a number of reasons but when they are doing the same job they should be treated in the same manner. Sadly, women are just easy targets because as women, they are expected to conform to a certain set of standards. There is a lot of pressure for women to maintain a certain appearance suited for their gender and if they do not, they are easy targets. The flip side of that is that if women do maintain that certain appearance they are still targets. Essentially being a woman is used against them. This does not happen to men. 
How do we expect honest, intelligent and capable women to run for public office if they have to constantly worry about being targeted not for their politics but for their gender?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Anyone besides me finding it really hard to care about Election '12?

Face it, politics at its highest levels...specifically federal government is for the rich. Gone are the days when serving in the Congress was considered an honor, a duty, and more importantly a PART-TIME position. Our founding fathers never intended public service at the highest levels of government to be a career opportunity because they had the foresight to know the dangers of that...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

David Shore: the contradiction of [H]ouse, M.D.

Pissed off isn't even the word for it after I read this excerpt from EWonline.com

The dust is barely settling from Lisa Edelstein’s exit from House, but is Dr. Crankypants already on the rebound? Not exactly. But when Brothers & Sisters alum Odette Annable crosses paths with House in the season premiere on Oct. 3, there will be “a connection” says executive producer David Shore.

“She’s working in prison and there’s a bit of a connection — not a physical connection. But she doesn’t really know House. He’s just a prisoner. Then things change,” he says. 

“He changes her, and she changes him.”

With Edelstein’s unexpected departure, Shore said the team is looking to return to “the basics” of the show and “the fundamental questions of right and wrong.” But in doing so, the show added two new faces — both Annable and Knocked Up actress Charlene Yi will be joining the team this season.

Shore says of Annable: “She’s great, she’s smart, she’s funny. We’re excited about it.”


David Shore has drilled into us for 7 long years that people don't change and  people can't change. He was adamant despite what the fans had to say about it. When we'd had enough of House tripping on vicodin and hookers, Shore kept insisting House can't be happy, House can't change, he is who he is blah blah blah.  It was the whole idea behind Season 7 too not to let House be happy as he entered year #2 off vicodin and finally a romantic relationship with his longtime friend and nemesis Lisa Cuddy. Couldn't let it last long though could they? They only gave us House and Cuddy together because they wanted to break them up with a big BANG at the end of the season or as Greg Yaitanes says, Ka-Boom!  They resorted to the old standby which is easy to write: hookers, vicodin, and booze. The writers didn't have to be creative.  Must have saved a lot of time and money there using the same old crap.

House tried to change his life when he went through rehab at Mayfield in Season 6. He was actually looking forward to his new life and starting over and then he comes home and finds the love of his life (Cuddy) is with an idiot (Lucas).  Then he bares his soul to his patient Hannah at the end of Season 6 and Cuddy realizes she wants to be with him. They get together for 14 episodes (which was supposed to be a year in TV Land) and one time, ONE time he slips and takes a Vicodin because he's in so much pain over the possibility Cuddy is dying. Who doesn't remember that tearful scene where House took the phone call from Wilson in Foreman's apartment and Wilson told him it was cancer and had metastasized to her lungs and House says, "she's dead". House loved Cuddy but he was in pain, both physically and emotionally and he took ONE vicodin to have the strength to see her at the hospital before surgery. One pill and she dumped him and broke his heart. Then he broke her heart by going out of control after the breakup. 

I did not recognize Lisa Cuddy in Season 6 when she was with Lucas because she seemed out of character. I thought for sure being with House in Season 7 would change things, but as wonderful as Lisa E played her role, the writing for her character was not of its previous quality. Not only did I not recognize Cuddy but I also didn't recognize House the man in Season 7.  I kept thinking about the House we knew in Seasons 1-5 and then in Season 6 (because really if you think about it, when you compare S1-5 to S6 it's like two different series) and I couldn't believe how different the House in Season 7 eps 15-23 was compared to the House of prior years. It was not the same person. And I commented then how Shore said "people don't change" because oh yeah House didchange for the worse and now Season 8 will open with him in prison but oh yeah he'll get his old job back and everything. Nice!  Oh hell yeah Hugh did a fantastic job, he's nothing less than exceptional in that character but the plot sucked. What they did to that show sucked.

And now after Lisa Edelstein and her beloved character Lisa Cuddy (the one woman who could keep House in line and the one woman he actually cared about) leave the show after Season 7 TPTB bring in some young, thin pretty face (Odette Annable) to help satisfy the "token women" quota. Not just that but the "pretty, thin, token women" quota. Then they're adding that Charlene Yi whoever she is. I hear neither of them is very talented so this should be fun. Getting paid for shitty acting? Wow where do I sign up? Also, given Olivia Wilde's big movie career (yawn!) means her character won't be in a lot of eps in Season 8. But who ever cared about her in the first place?

But back to Annable's character changing House. WTF? Cuddy was a longtime friend of House, they loved each other a long time, they knew each other's strengths and weaknesses which made them a great couple. She made him a better person. She was the only one who would hire him, the only one who could reign him in (which is one of the things he liked so much about her) and she was his equal in every way. If Cuddy wasn't enough to change him, then WHO is? Some young, petite, female prison doctor? Seriously? We're expected to buy this CRAP?  And then Kath Lingenfelter tweets today that she's fist-pumping the air because she's so psyched about the table read for episode 2 and I'm like "oh Crap, just shoot me now". What the writers, producers, and directors called exciting and awesome in Season 7, the fans were angry and disappointed over. So really, why should we believe anything they say anymore? Why should we care? Good question. I guess it's because we really enjoyed the show and it didn't have to go out this way with so many angry, disappointed fans and a terrific actress leaving the show.

All of this could have been avoided if Shore had stuck to the solid basics of the show from prior seasons: the medical mysteries, the antics of House and Wilson, the flirtation and tug-of-war between House and Cuddy, House's wonderful (and legendary) manipulation and degradation of his team, his disdain for his patients, and all the good stuff we so fondly remember. I feel like we were force-fed storylines that were just manufactured for the hell of it, it didn't seem like natural progression for the characters or the relationships on the show.  It wasn't the relationship of House and Cuddy that ruined the show, it was how it was handled, how it played out and how it ended. The relationship never should have been the focus, but sadly TPTB wanted it that way so they could make a big finale, which actually backfired on them big time.

Once again the only good things about Season 8 are Hugh and Bob and the fact that Season 8 is the last season. I'm still angry that David Shore and Company ripped the most popular television show in the world into a million pieces, shattering anything that resembled our favorite characters. Now he's trying to replace greatness with empty useless new cast members and pathetic plot lines. Now they are backpedaling to make everything look and sound great. Sorry, it's too little too late for many fans.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Congress takes a vacation in the midst of unfinished business...

Congress is on vacation until after Labor Day.  Meanwhile the FAA remains unfunded and thousands of people are out of work because of it. What's the problem? A difference of opinion over $16.5 million in subsidies for rural airports. Yes you heard it right. $16.5 million.  

Ok peeps, let's do the math:

Piss away $1 billion in tax revenue just to make a point over $16.5 million. 

A kindergartener could figure out in two seconds that is just STUPID.

I'm not saying the subsidies are ok, but nobody should be going on a month long vacation until a solution is reached. Of course they're tired from all the debt ceiling debates, but you know what? That's not my problem, nor is it yours. We hired them to do a job and they have to see it through just as we do in our jobs. How would our employers like it if we just took a vacation at the most critical time when the livelihoods and best interests of people who count on us are at stake? Oh wait, when you work for someone else, that person approves your vacation so generally this doesn't happen. The Congress works for us and in a situation like this they should have stayed till they came up with a solution, even a temporary solution to extend the FAA funding until they returned from vacation.

Unless there is an emergency, in a critical situation you stay put till you solve the problem. You do what you have to do to solve the problem and only then do you go home. At least that's my philosophy.