Wind Blows into the District

Change is in the air. The righteous wind that blew at the backs of President Elect Barack Obama and his supporters for the past two years has also sailed the Democratic Party to full control of both the House and Senate. Many still can not believe the momentous historical events that have propelled the Junior Senator from Illinois, who began as a community organizer in Chicago’s South Side, mainly because of the surreal circumstances that have surrounded his campaign.

Obama stood as a true Underdog at the beginning of the race against Senator, and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton. “The Clinton Machine”, as the massive support base for the Clintons’ is commonly referred to, has held an unmatched power in Washington for the past two decades, rallying supporters and unifying Democratic Party members in the media and the various branches of government across the United States. On top of this unwavering support stood a mountain of potential political capital, a run-away money train that could shell out staggering amounts of campaign finances to lobby representatives to a particular cause. When Hillary Clinton announced that she would run for office, few doubted that any other Democratic challenger had a even a remote chance against the seemingly unstoppable “power-base” that already existed in more than just the far corners of the Union: Southern Democrats, Hollywood & media elites, North-Eastern Super Liberals, and the The Beltway Power Circle, already numbering in the millions and they were donating money by the thousands. There was little hope for the Junior Senator from Illinois onthe cold February morning in which Obama announced his candidacy on the steps of the Old State Capitol building in Illinois.

Throughout the campaign, Obama’s lack of Executive experience was brought up countlessly, first, and most notably by Clinton. Her argument that she would be “ready from Day One” was eventually bested by Obama’s message of Change. When John McCain won the Republican nomination he immediately reminded voters of Obama’s inexperience. In fact, many of McCain’s “tactics” involved recycling Clinton’s most successful attacks on Obama, such as her infamous “3AM” ad, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s history with 60’s radical Bill Ayers, and Obama’s penchant for “healthy eating”.

Despite Obama’s lack of traditional Washington experience, many of his supporters found his views more appealing because he appeared to not be a part of the D.C. power circle. His message of bringing a change to the government was seen as more sincere and substantial specifically because his opponents were unable to paint him as just another D.C. Insider. What set him aside from his colleagues was his advocation of working from the ground up. Where Clinton and McCain wanted to change Washington from the inside-out, Obama advocated change from the outside-in. Obama made it clear that we were not just voting for him, we were making a decision to go to work, putting the pieces of a shattered nation and broken world back together for the betterment of society.

The increase of negative campaigning only served to bolster his credentials in the long run. While Hillary Clinton was busy trying to knock Obama’s credibility in the primaries, she only served to give him more when he stood fast and didn’t falter. When she introduced Jeremiah Wright in an attempt to highlight Obama as a typical activist in the vein of Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson, Obama hit back with a resounding speech on the state of race relations in the U.S. Her plan to paint Obama as just another angry black man backfired, giving him the reputation of being calm and collected, a natural leader with a steady hand whose race served him more as an advantage than as a handicap.

Later, when Obama was pegged as “Pallin’ around with terrorists like William Ayers,” and being called an “arugula-eating-elitist”, it became clear that there was little anyone could do to stop Obama’s mammoth rise to Pop-Culture Icon. Instead of playing to solely to his base, Obama began to campaign in GOP states like Virgina and North Carolina. He even went on MTV and said, “brothers should pull up their pants…You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What’s wrong with that? Come on. Some people might not want to see your underwear – I’m one of them” Despite this resounding fashion advice, it remains to be seen whether or not today’s youth will take his suggestion.

He is the New Blood for a generation of apathetic youth, the down trodden and the forgotten. A living symbol of hope to look to for insight and leadership. Now, as the world looks on with great anticipation, Obama is tasked with what is easily the toughest job in the modern world, leading a society out of its downward spiral and into a new age of hope and prosperity.

Ruminations of a Political Junkie

I’ve been glued to the 24 hour cable news cycle for the past year, anxiously wolfing down super-sized servings of spoon-fed news from the plethora of blathering “experts” that help to fulfill my ever growing addiction to politics and the news. I’ve set up my laptop in front of the t.v. to read blogs, columns and news articles during commercial breaks or sports reports as I know somewhere, someone is saying something worth noting. Since the election, however, I’ve found that the great, interactive reality show that is the news business has begun to slow to a dull and lackluster pace, and I can’t help but wonder what will happen to all the pundits, columnists and news junkies now that there’s no election to cover.

Every morning has been the same, I wake up and I flip on the t.v. MSNBC’s Morning Joe has been the apex of morning news shows, important people saying important things at an ungodly hour of the morning. Deep down though, I can’t stand Joe Scarborough, and would like nothing more than for him to be booted from his own show again, yet I still watch every morning and send anonymous comments to the shows producers. Regardless of my bias against Scarborough, his show is still most entertaining thing on t.v. from 6am to 9am, and it usually contains the most substantive arguments and note-worthy figures of the day.

After Morning Joe, I usually rifle through all the other 24-hour news channels: Fox, CNN (HN & IN), BBC International, and C-SPAN House & C-SPAN Senate. None of them usually have anything new or interesting to say that I haven’t already heard (sans C-SPAN). Unless it’s an exclusive or a breaking story, it’s usually just a rehash of the same crap I just heard, or watered down version of something I’m already reading. Special Reports are old news to me because by the time a network runs the story, I’ve usually already read the most meaty bits on-line. This is usually a standard, bloggers get the story first and make a post, upload it to some sort of News Aggregate like Digg, Reddit, or Yahoo Buzz, the mainstream press then validates it and crafts a legitimate report. The only problem is that by the time a major network runs the story, it seems like old news to me because I’ve already seen the same damn story on the net a week ago.

When the Enquirer ran the story about John Edwards affair with Riley Hunter, the net was already buzzing about it, hours before NBC or CBS went public with the story. When Ron Paul was breaking the Fund Raising records, Reddit & Digg were the first websites to have stories up (to be fair, the links were usually just redirects to the Paul’s website). When Hillary Clinton gave her infamous “sniper fire” remark, bloggers were all over that farce like flies on shit, with links to Youtube videos and archived stories from the Washington Post to prove it.

I have to wonder what this bombardment of information might do to me. The constant vein-slapping injection of news into my brain is accompanied by a tremendous cup of black coffee and a hand-rolled cigarette (a pairing I’ve carefully concocted over several months). Black coffee just works better, there’s more caffeine, there’s more taste, more antioxidants; what used to be a casual jolt in the morning is now like being hit by a run-away freight train. The hand-rolled cigarettes have served as my “zen garden”, with each cigarette being meticulously crafted for the perfect smoke while I wait for the anchors to change and commercials to finish. A smoke-break is one of two forced breaks from my information ingestion, the other being to use the bathroom, respectively.

What really worries me is how the quality of news casts is already changing. Fox has already mandated that it won’t air consistently negative stories about Obama, and MSNBC focus’s almost exclusively on politics now. The only channels with a variety of news reports are the BBC and CNN International, but they are in stark contrast compared to MSNBC and Fox. Where the latter substitute a variety of stories for flashy graphics, and sound effects in between wipes and segways, the former offer typical, bland, monotone reporters with a minimal amount of flare. I have to admit that I value the bland more than the flashy, but it’s the flashy ones that keep me hooked and entertained, feeding my addiction while some freak with a perfect haircut is calmly sending me subliminal messages to “panic” and buy war-bonds.

Guess I’ll have to tune in and find out.

An Irritating Sound

Those new Sirens that the D.C. Police use, the ones that make your brain vibrate, and your bones rattle are truly a modern marvel. The Rumbler Sirens maker says, “[its] vibrating tones provide feel with emergency warning sound” is seems like an absurd statement until your walking down the street and see a cop flying towards you, making you actually feel the dread of police presence instead of just the standard emotional drawback.

It makes me wonder, What’s next? Is this new siren capable of weaponization? Could tomorrows cops and G.I.’s be carrying Sonic-Rifles that make you compulsively shit your pants or rattle your brain until your head explodes? The thought of a weaponized “Brown Noise” is both hilarious and terrifying (unless you work for Fruit-of-the-Loom or sell washing machines that is).

I can see the merit that the police have with installing this on some their cruisers, though. I myself have grown accustomed to the high-pitched whines of emergency-service crews racing through city streets. It’s just something you inevitably adapt to when living in an city ripe with urban sprawl (if not you’ll probably go insane and begin shouting at innocent people from some umpteenth-story apartment window). More over, as people today tend to become lost in an audio abyss as they carry out their commute listening to iPods and car radios with sub-woofers, it seems pertinent to gain the attention of distracted motorists and mildly-deaf pedestrians for the benefit of society as a whole by any means necessary. It’s an emergency, after all, so wake up and get the hell out of the way.

I mean, I’d be kind of upset if I were laying in the back of an ambulance, hemorrhaging enough blood to rival old-faithful, while some prick in a Mercedes was too busy rocking down to Electric Avenue on a one way street.

Despite this, however, I can close my eyes and imagine police in riot gear shooting sonic waves at protesters. The scene would horrible: hordes of political dissidents shitting themselves uncontrollably as riot police bring protesters literally to their knees in puddles of their own crap. The smell would spread with wind, entire city blocks would be forced indoors as an irradiated stench smothers the senses.

“What if someones rectum prolapses?”, I wonder, “What if some poor old lady is shot with a sound wave and she just shits herself so hard that her anus literally falls out of her body?” Technically speaking, you can live if your rectum prolapses, but you’d undeniably be in a considerable amount of pain. Does this make it cruel and unusual punishment or effective, non-lethal crowd control? Is something that makes you wish for really death non-lethal?