Happy holidays

Happy holidays, everyone. Enjoy the company of the people around you, and remember those who are not as fortunate. ‘Tis the season for giving.

(oh, and as a good friend always tells me: “good things come to those who wait.” :-) )

December 23, 2004 at 9:01 pm

Time to become a United States

OK, right off, let’s get something straight: there’s a lot I don’t like about Bush/Cheney.

To support my point, I’ll provide an easy-to-understand (however most likely incomplete) list.

  • The current administration promotes a culture of fear. Just look at our convenient color-coded death probability scale.
  • Bush is very stubborn about accepting mistakes. I’ve never blamed the president for going to war because of false intelligence reports. I do have a problem with him not acknowledging until very late that the primary reason for spending over a hundred billion dollars was incorrect.
  • A president that neglects the UN, the Geneva Conventions, the Kyoto Treaty, and others saddens me. That’s not the way to foster world cooperation; it isolates the United States as a bully in the world of politics.
  • With such a strong stance on terrorism, it bothers me that more focus has not been devoted to North Korea and Iran. If WMD’s were the main reason for originally attacking Iraq, why Iraq instead of other countries?
  • If the al Qaeda tie was so important, why did Bush supposedly plan to attack Iraq in 1999?
  • Hypocricy: why accuse Kerry of flip-flopping when he’s done it himself?
  • The economy is improving, I guess, but there’s a problem with the debt being close to its ceilingagain.
  • Mission Accomplished” / “Bring it on“… you don’t do that when troops are dying each day. If Bush didn’t like the banner, he should’ve ordered someone to remove it before he gave a thumbs-up in front of it.
  • Speaking of things you don’t do, why smile in a debate about issues like Osama bin Laden?
  • Abstinence-only education: because if you tell kids not to have sex, they won’t have sex. Rigggggghhhht. I’ll ask everyone I know who works with kids how well THAT will work. (and yes, I just linked to PP)
  • Gay marriage: do you really need to ask how I feel about that one?
  • No Child Left Behind: get kids out of bad schools, don’t improve them. The eventual privatization of education could be positive, I guess, but not for the people who live two hours away from the closest private school.
  • “Pro-life”: I understand Bush’s stance on abortion. For someone whose philosophy treasures life, how can he dismiss the civilian death tolls in Afghanistan and Iraq? Is it not as important because they live in a country where terrorists supposedly hang out?
  • “I don’t think the Patriot Act abridges your rights at all.”
  • Halliburton!
  • There’s definitely some shadiness with church and state.
  • Bush is, overall, encouraging a nationalist policy (just look at how easy it is to get into the country).
  • He’s had four years to be a uniter, not a divider.

Wish it would’ve turned out differently, but it’s done. A high voter turnout (yay!) has shown what the people of America want. Maybe my frustration is that I still don’t know any good reasons why anyone voted for Bush; I can understand voting Republican, but to support the man?

All of that said, it is important for the supporters of both sides to come together. I will always disagree with some policies (I would disagree with some Kerry policies, too), and I will make my voice heard. I encourage everyone else to do so. Partisan bickering, complaining, and gloating, though, will polarize the country more than ever. Our country’s representation this year is more conservative than the last. Though I don’t agree, I pledge to do all I can to find common ground.

Remember the couple of months after September 11, 2001? It was a time when the country was united. Everyone helped each other. We were all part of one country. I want that to happen again; let’s start now.

November 3, 2004 at 2:03 pm

VOTE!!!

“I’m a comedian who makes fun of what I believe to be the absurdities of our government… make my life difficult. Make this next four years really shit for me. So that every morning all we can do is come in and go, ‘Uhh, Madonna’s doing some Kabbalah thing, you wanna do that?’ I’d like that. I’m tired.” – Jon Stewart

November 2, 2004 at 9:27 am

Rocking Rock the Vote

It’s really funny how things happen.

Apparently Rock the Vote started a campaign e-mailing mock draft notices to members. Apparently the Republican National Committee didn’t really like this. Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the RNC, noted that he believed the “misinformation campaign” was “being conducting [sic] with malacious intent and reckless disregard for the truth.” His basis for this statement? Bush and Rumsfeld said that we won’t have a draft. (For the record, Kerry said the same thing.) Gillespie ordered RtV to cease and desist with the campaign or else face legal action.

Hmm, that’s interesting. I’d say the possibility’s still there, seeing as how I had to register for the thing and they say on their site that they’ll “maintain its readiness as required by law.”

Jehmu S. Greene, the president of Rock the Vote, didn’t like that as much as Gillespie didn’t like the first thing. In a response, Greene asserted that the organization had a right to publicize the possibility of a draft and marked Gillespie’s comments as “attempted censorship.”

My opinion? The draft issue will get young people (yes, men and women, seeing as how the latest draft legislation isn’t gender-biased) to vote, and it’s an issue concerning them. Rock the Vote had the right to do it. I think they might have been a bit too forward, from what I’ve heard, but they have the right – just like the RNC has the right to misleadingly characterize Kerry as a flip-flopper. It just scares me that either party would attack an organization whose sole purpose is to get people to vote over something like this.

Lots of good stuff over this at the Democracy Now! site. I’m really disappointed at how dirty this campaign has become for both sides – and it still bothers me that no matter how hard I try, no matter who tries to convince me, I can’t come up with a single reason why I’d vote for Bush. Must we resort to this sort of childish bickering on an issue this important? I really hope not, but I fear it’s already happened. Things like this really make me want to get into politics.

(An interesting aside: the RNC letter was cc’d to a few organizations, including Vince McMahon of WWE [that made me chuckle] and bigwigs at MTV, AOL, Time Warner, and NBC. The Rock the Vote letter? NBC, MTV, AOL, Time Warner… Jay, Conan, and David… and Jon.)

October 25, 2004 at 5:35 pm

Leave it to Stewart

Though I accused him of being biased in my last post, at least he admits it – on national television, no less. Check these out.

Jon Stewart on Crossfire (or here)

Jon Stewart on the Daily Show talking about Crossfire

“They said that I wasn’t being funny… and I said to them, ‘I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny and your show will still blow.’”

October 20, 2004 at 1:52 pm

Sometimes you just don’t have the words

In my Introduction to Mass Communication class last year, Professor Laura Lindenfeld told us that there is no such thing as an unbiased source. Since news is reported by people, she explained, news will have a slant due to each reporter’s individual opinion.

Unfortunately, I’m finding that this trait of news is emerging at a most inconvenient time. It seems as though there have been many occasions at which I have found myself literally swearing at media outlets for a variety of reasons: slanted “factual” stories, unfair reporting, or, what’s worst, completely falsified reports. To illustrate:

  • The Associated Press released a story that was automatically picked up by local news feeds reporting that Bush had won the election. The story apparently did not contain some sort of marker that would tell sites that it was test data.
  • The Daily Show (yeah, yeah, I know) seems ever more and more liberal, especially after the differences in Republican and Democratic interviews after the first debate.
  • Fox News (yeah, yeah, I know) posted a story that was apparently an in-house joke from their chief political reporter saying that Kerry said, among other things, “I’m metrosexual.”

Has all of top-level journalism gone back to high school? This isn’t what you should be doing, folks.

In my opinion, this is where the Internet could really shine. Is it possible to have a close-to-unbiased source for news? From a technical standpoint, yes. There are some politically-driven sites out there that work very well – take MoveOn.org (yuck) and Daily Kos, for example – but the ones I’ve found have all taken one side or the other. Why can’t there be one single source where people from both sides healthily debate the issues and try to disprove what the other side says? There have been so many misleading statements this year from both camps that the sheer number of people researching on the Internet could definitely debunk everything. There should be a site somewhere that takes every word from the debate – or from every article published on major news sites – and tries to assure that the reporting is given in a correct context. If anyone knows of a site, please let me know: justin@justinrussell.com.

I’ll be going through a lot of changes soon, and I’m reconsidering what’s important to me (of which this issue is one) and where I want to spend my time. Soon I’ll be launching a new package that will replace my current blog, and I’ll also be working on other projects that will comprehensively rework my most major sites. It’s time for me to step up. And please don’t forget to do your part to make the world better, too.

October 8, 2004 at 7:14 pm

Practice really does make perfect

Who would’ve thought that the more concerts you shoot (Rockapella, Rick Charette, Bumstock, Guster, ZOX, etc.), the better you get?

[pictures of Vague Valentine, Headstart, and As Fast As last night at Rock Against Rape]

September 19, 2004 at 8:18 am

In the Waiting Line

Tonight’s music pick: “In the Waiting Line” from Simple Things by Zero 7.

(Thank Garden State for this one; it provided the background to an amazingly well-shot ecstacy party scene.)

September 10, 2004 at 11:34 pm

Edwards and coverage

As promised, I attended the Edwards rally today on the Mall in front of the library. It was very well attended, and I was able to see a lot of my friends there (nice to have Democratic friends, I guess). Introduced by Stephen King and Maine governor John Baldacci, he spoke surprisingly well and seemed to hit most of the talking points raised throughout the campaign. You can read about it on some of the major news outlets.

But…

…that’s the problem.

As someone interested in photography, media, and possibly some form of journalism, I looked over what will probably be the event with the widest coverage at the University for a while.

My first stop was at a USA Today [AP] article detailing the event. First of all, that picture isn’t from UMaine. Edwards took off his coat the minute he stepped on stage. Second, though the video is supposedly focusing on Edwards’s talk at the University, it includes no actual coverage from here. Third, it wasn’t a completely student audience. In fact, many faculty and community members from around Maine attended the event.

The Miami Herald’s take on the AP story fared a bit better. It seemed to include more accurate coverage of the speech’s content, especially with details like Edwards’s “the Bush administration is the first in 75 years to post a net loss of jobs.” It also accurately noted the (small) group of Bush supporters in the back of the crowd. It did not mention, however, the one student who walked through the audience holding his flip-flops in the air while slapping them together.

Those seem to be the two AP articles circulating right now. I can only hope that in time photos will find their way to the stream (as well as video).

September 8, 2004 at 11:15 pm

An evening of politics

Call it action/reaction.

This evening John Edwards (“our next vice president”, if I listen to the Democrats driving around campus with a car and a loudspeaker) will be speaking/rallying/propagandizing near the Library at UMaine. I’m headed there to see it – just like I would for any semi-major political figure – and hopefully get some pictures, unless the confiscate my camera. Apparently people have already been around with chalk (on both sides, I’ve heard)… and apparently facilities has already been around with a pressure-washer.

Afterwards, I’ll be headed to the Maine Center for the Arts to see the Capitol Steps mock everything I just heard near the Library. Hopefully they’ll do some of my favorites along with some new tunes fresh for the election year.

This should be an interesting evening. I wonder if the Steps know that Edwards is around. That could be fun.

September 8, 2004 at 8:56 am