Sunday, November 23, 2008

Podium Piece Reprint: 11/10/08

A Great Weekend to be a Hawkeye

By now every corner of Hawkeye nation has heard the echo of the victory drums after this weekend's historic upset of Penn State. Fans and players alike braved the cold weather under the common banner of black and antique gold, the same banner that both parties raised as thousands flooded the field after the game-winning field goal of Daniel Murray split the uprights and gave the Hawkeyes their biggest upset in the Kirk Ferentz era.

Three hundred miles to the north of Iowa City a bevy of undergraduate Hawkeyes braved the cold for a different, yet competitive, purpose. Over thirty University of Iowa students climbed into a caravan of University Fleet Services vehicles Friday morning and drove to the Twin Cities. They returned in the dark of Sunday night victorious, even dominant. However, unlike their Kinnick-playing brethren the victory of these students will go unnoticed. Their efforts will not be covered by web sites or newspapers. Their representation of the black and gold means little to anyone but their peers and parents. The title of "undefeated tournament champion," and placing four teams in the top ten of a forty-four team tournament will, for no other reason than they don't play at Kinnick or Carver, earn these students absolutely no respect from the University community.

Every year upwards of fifty University of Iowa students compete in a season that lasts longer than college football and college basketball combined. They spend an average of nine hours a week, all extra-curricular, honing their skills and practicing while balancing their heavy course loads and jobs. By the end of their season these students will have traveled to both coasts and many cities in between, sometimes four to five weekends in a row. Unlike their west campus peers, they pay for almost all of the expenses out of their own pockets -whereas most of their adversaries boast school-provided budgets in the tens of thousands of dollars. Distinct from their west-side peers, these students graduate - many with multiple degrees, and with honors. Contrary to their peers who play at Kinnick and Carver, over the last ten years this competitive Hawkeye squad has not only made it into post-season play, they have consistently placed with high honors.

Even though their banners are not hung from the rafters of Carver; their accolades are not carved in brick, marble, or metal; their plentiful stock of trophies and medals gather dust in an unadorned cabinet, or various apartments closets, rather than being displayed with the fanfare of a three-story hall of fame; and even though their historical back-to-back national championships and seven year national top five finishes streak will not be used to recruit anyone to our institution, these students will continue to strive for greatness and will work tirelessly to uphold the name of "The University of Iowa." The University of Iowa Mock Trial students have pride in what they do for the University community, even if the substantial majority of campus and alumni refuse to honor their accomplishes and efforts. They bleed Black and Gold just as much as every person that was able to watch the football team win at Kinnick this weekend; and they deserve the same recognition for their accomplishments and success just as much as those that wear an Iowa jersey.

To all the students that competed over the last month in St. Louis, Des Moines, Washington D.C., Mt. Vernon, and St. Paul, that continue to earn the respect of other schools across the country, and uphold the level of competitiveness associated with "The University of Iowa", I would like to say, "Thank you. Keep doing what you do." It truly was a great weekend to be a Hawkeye!

Originally posted at: The Podium
Published in the Daily Iowan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I am currently working for the OpEd Board of the Daily Iowan. Thus, most of my posts can be found on The Podium Blog. A few of the blog posts have been published in the DI already. Look there for more current posts.

I will update this site with posts from time to time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What a difference a year makes

Heading in to the primary season last year I would have never guessed how this election process has turned out. I thought Romney would win the Republican ticket and that Clinton was a solid lock for the Democrats. Of course, this is why I am not a political analyst, and why I don't gamble.

Twelve months ago I wasn't even registered to vote. My view of the American political system was jaded, cynical, and bordered on a frustrated feeling of complete hopeless and powerlessness that lead to a strict stance of indifference. Two elections have come and gone since I was of legal age to vote. I had no part in either of them. I was a proud political conscientious objector. My indifference was my voice to the government. I was an educated non-voter; I followed the debates, the issues, and all of the different policies. Yet, I was never inspired to be politically active; I never felt as if there was a reason to exercise my right to vote or that my views would be heard.

All of that changed this year. As this political maelstrom that we call the race for the White House has grown larger and larger - sucking in various politicians' careers, American integrity, ethical behavior, and billions of dollars - I decided to register to vote. This was the first race that was interesting, inspiring, and made me feel as if I should be involved since I turned 18. Bush v. Gore? Bush v. Kerry? Boring. Uninspiring. Continued hopelessness.

This country is at a vital turning point. In 27 days, the people of this country will tell the coming generations what America truly stands for in the 21st century. At least, this is what the media tells me on a daily basis. I do believe this election is paramount, but not just because there will be a female vice-president or a minority president in the White House on Inauguration Day.

When Barack Obama and John McCain were selected to represent their respective parties I actually felt that no matter who won, America would have a strong, bright, respectable, and ethical man in the White House to lead us through the next four years. I may be a "secular progressive". I may have caucused for Obama. But if Clinton had won the nomination, I may have voted for McCain. Not because I believe Hillary isn't capable, but because I despised the campaign she ran. My dismissal of the American political system is rooted in my hatred for misleading and false ads, politicians that stir the racial-religious-social prejudice pot, empty campaign promises and platitudes, and self-interested politicians. Certainly a candidates stance on the economy, foreign policy, and domestic policy will guide my vote; however, for me the "big issues" are just as important as whether or not I respect the candidate.

I am a proud American. I am proud of this country's core beliefs. I am proud of what we have accomplished in this country, especially over the last 100 years. In turn, I want to be proud of the elected leaders of this country. I want to be proud of the actions of my fellow Americans. Lately, I have pride in neither. The mob-mentality of American voters over the last month has been abhorrent. The character assassinations and manipulations of social prejudices during the race for the White House has been repugnant.

On November 4th, 2008, we will be choosing more than just an elected official. We will be choosing more than just whether or not a Republican or Democrat sits in the Oval Office. We will be choosing whether or not, we as Americans, will tolerant our leaders to be elected via unethical and socially divisive politicking. I firmly believe that when your back is to the wall, your true character surfaces. Over the last couple of weeks each ticket has its back against the wall. The finish line is insight, time to dig deep and find the strength to sprint. Both campaigns have flip-flopped - which honestly is better than being too stubborn to admit you're wrong or acknowledge that society and solutions are in constant flux - both campaigns have pointed fingers, and both have used misleading statements to woo voters. Neither side's hands will be clean when they take office; however, it is John McCain that I have lost respect for, not Obama.

John McCain ran in 2000 as the reformer; the Maverick; the man who wasn't afraid to stand up to the Republican base even if meant he was unpopular. He stuck to his morals, his values, and it probably cost him the party domination. I can respect that. He fought for his country abroad and in Washington. I can respect that. In February, when the Clinton-machine was throwing mud and shit as fast as it could at Obama, and the right-wing media used Obama's middle name in a clear attempt to foment prejudice McCain denounced Bill Cunningham's "Barack Hussein Obama" mantra. I can respect that. Hell, I can vote for a man like that, even if he means "four more years of Bush in office" - and I foster extreme dislike for Bush, the Neo-Cons, and the Bush Doctrine. McCain's "Country First" slogan seemed real. Yet, today, I am left asking what happened to that John McCain?

In the last week he has had multiple opportunities to take the high ground, and failed to do so. When someone shouted "terrorist" at his rally he should have denounced the defamatory comment then and there on national TV. The use of Obama's middle name is a much more subtle reference to extremists and "evil"; yet, McCain quickly killed it. Where is that John McCain now? Multiple reports of derogatory comments by supporters at McCain/Palin rallies have been reported; even the possibility of a death threat - it doesn't matter if it's a real threat or not - was screamed at a rally in Clearwater, Florida. Accusations of treason have been lobbed at Obama. These are serious and frightening events. A person that values "Country First" and promises "Change is coming" should squash this uneducated, juvenile, bigoted, and odious behavior quickly and decisively. Instead, McCain's ads and silence only galvanizes and condones the bigots, the extremists, and the hate-mongers. What kind of America is he putting first? Does he want to be in the White House so badly that he is willing to ride the votes of people that believe Obama is the Antichrist, a black who doesn't know his place, or an Arab terrorist secretly plotting to give the United States over to his Muslim cabal?

I used to have a lot of respect for John McCain. I embraced his nomination instead of another puppet of the Christian Right; however, I was embracing the bipartisan John McCain circa 2000. The McCain that challenged Bush, the established Republicans, the Neo-Cons, the Christian Right, and stuck to his own beliefs over the clear desires of his party base. I was embracing the John McCain that confronted unfounded accusations and dirty political games head-on. A real Maverick would have told the Christian Right to get lost and would have nominated Lieberman instead of Palin. A real Maverick would tell his supporters that if they are voting for him solely because he's white, that he doesn't want their vote. A real Maverick would take the high road even if it's a harder and ultimately a losing road to the White House. A real Maverick values his own ethics and morals over political office. A real Maverick would accept losing if it meant that he was still respected. A real Maverick wouldn't want to win if it meant he was guilty of character assassination and galvanizing uneducated bigot rhetoric. A real Maverick brings positive change of reform through his actions and not just paying the lip-service to the idea through a campaign of platitudes and promises.

I wanted so hard to believe that McCain v. Obama would be different. I wanted so hard to believe America was ready to usher in a new era of open-mindedness and tolerance - that we truly are the greatest nation on Earth. I would have really enjoyed a race between McCain circa 2000 and Obama. I would have really enjoyed having to toil with who to vote for in my first time in the booth. I would have really enjoyed being proud of both candidates. I would have enjoyed believing that politicians do care about "Country First" instead of themselves and their cash flow. I would have really enjoyed seeing America change for the better. I really wish I still had "Hope" that "Change is coming."

Originally posted at: The Podium
Published in the Daily Iowan.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The loss of a "friend"

Last night I was "de-friended" on Facebook by a high school classmate. I haven't actually seen this man in over 10 years; Facebook was the only "interaction" we have had in the last decade. I will admit that lately the correspondence has been one-sided, and perhaps even a little aggressive - but it's an election year, right?

In the course of the last month I have responded to various attacks on the Democratic party by "friends" who post items or notes through Facebook. My attacks are never personal, and usually nothing more than an attempt to play Devil's Advocate or counter the partisan post. My language is never vulgar; my arguments never defamatory. I view the interaction as an attempt to exercise the my right to free speech and the necessary process of political discourse when it is brought up in a public forum; especially in an election year with as much pandering, platitudes, and potshots as this race has witnessed.

I don't usually respond to Facebook notes, items, or even pictures. I may peruse the various posts of my friends, but rarely do I voice my opinion on political issues on Facebook. This summer has seen a stark change in my reserved behavior; mainly due to a lack of anyone else trying to fight the clear fallacies spread about Obama - this includes Obama himself, causing me much ire.

My first real venture into the political debate with - for all intensive purpose - an almost complete stranger was last month when I fired back at posts by a friend's sister-in-law. The sparring went back-and-forth with red herring and straw man arguments from her side, and simple questions of where she found her information from me mixed with challenges of her arguments. In the end, I was told I was childish and if I didn't didn't like her posts, then I shouldn't read them. She claims she has a right to post as she sees fit because of the First Amendment; evidently, I don't have a right to rebut her claims as I see fit under the same Constitution.

My other sparring match was with the aforementioned "casualty" of Facebook friendom. This gentleman posted snide comments about Obama's campaign being like China for boycotting and protesting a radio program in Denver during the DNC. When I countered his argument that no free speech was being silenced and then brought up the RNC riots and arrests of reporters, he never responded. He would post notes and items attacking Obama and I would riposte leading to no response until last night.

Why post items on a public forum such as Facebook, if you cannot handle defending your positions? I have posted many articles recently and I willing to discuss with any willing person as to why I posted them and discuss the arguments contained within those op-eds and news articles. It's not a matter of "if you don't like it, change the channel", so much as it is "if you can't handle the heat, then get of the kitchen."

Just when you think you're out...

Well Sprinters, I'm back. Oddly enough, it's been exactly a year since I posted last and what a year it has been.

The presidential campaign, cowardly media, slanted radio hosts, financial crisis, and continued Middle East turmoil have pulled me back into the blogosphere. This time, however, I'm angry. Angry at the politicians that gave me hope, angry at the opposing politicians for being so self-serving even at the cost of America's success, angry at the media for letting the politicking, smears, blatant lies, and bigotry go unpunished, angry at Americans for being so blind, partisan, and cowardly, angry at our government for letting the average American drown in debt while bailing out corporate execs, and angry at myself for how powerless it makes me feel.

The mad dash to midnight seems looming and the race has picked up pace.