16 November 2009

The Economic Apocalypse

The end of our world is near, Mexicans are sending money to their unemployed relatives in the U.S. Mexicans were struggling before the recession even hit and yet they are doing better than some of us in one of the most prosperous nations in the world. This is completely unbelievable. How did we let the economy get so bad. Wait I remember no one did anything to prevent the apocalypse; they figured someone else could fix it.

Then came Obama, who was left to clean up the mess. Sure things have gotten better for the banks that were once on the boarder between life and death, but what about us the ailing, unemployed, uninsured citizens. Do we not deserve a break? Don't we deserve our jobs and homes back? We might have made bad financial decisions in the past, but we have learned from them. 

But in all the gloominess that surrounds us there is some bright news for some of us. Republicans will no longer need to worry about what to do with illegal immigrants in this country because if the economy doesn't shape up soon many will return to their home countries.

10 November 2009

K.I.S.S. - advice for California

Nearly 80 percent of voters in California believe the state is heading in the wrong direction. This is according to a recent poll conducted by The College of Letters, Arts & Sciences at USC and The Los Angeles Times. The number is shocking, and even more shocking why isn't anyone doing something to stop this. This number screams for attention from California residents and its representatives. Yet somehow it seems everyone's numb from the shock. USC Professor Dan Schnur gives a possible reason why the people of California aren't doing too much. Schnur suggests that they tried to do something with the recall election, but failed. Sure things changed for a while but at the end of the day California is doing much worse and this doesn't seem to be the bottom.

The majority of voters might be disappointed and have given up, but what about those representatives they trusted. It seems they don't have an answer because they're too busy not doing their jobs, and the one shining star Gavin Newsom has called it quits on the governor's race leaving no hope for people of California in need. The only other candidates left to take the governor's seat are the same old politicians that have led California into the financial hole it is in today.

This state needs change and lots of it if it's going to survive. It needs bright politicians who are willing to break from the status quo of uselessness and do something that will change the state forever. The state needs leaders who will guide it in the right direction towards the light at the end of the tunnel which few Californians are able to see at this moment. This state needs to go back to financial basics - using only the money you have. If kids can understand this concept why can't a state that is one of the largest economies in the world.

Keep it Simple Stupid and the state will be return to its golden days.

Links to the poll can be found at :

07 November 2009

The War for a Better Economy

The war between Wall Street and Main Street continues to escalate, and the media continues fanning the flames. This war is about profits. Wall Street is making too much, Main Street is not making any and the media wants to make some more. Like in any war, all parties want to win but in this war there can only be losers.

Wall Street makes billions of dollars and when they begin losing profits the government bails them out. This seems like a win-win situation. The problem is that these CEOs are losing public support and the government cannot bail them out of this one because it’s too busy trying to bail itself out. The public is whom Wall Street calls consumers. The very consumers they need to keep their businesses afloat.

The relationship between Wall Street and Main Street is important for the survival of our economy. These two streets will never love each other, but hate is too strong of a feeling to have when cooperation on all levels is needed to save our ailing economy. It’s time to start doing something other then fight, and maybe just maybe come up with a solution. 

But hate will be a strong feeling to let go of especially when everything you read, hear or see tells you to HATE Wall Street. An article in the latest issue of Time tells its readers that they should be furious at Wall Street. It continues by calling the newest dilemma between the two, “Round 2 of Main Street vs. Wall Street.” Michael Moore’s film Capitalism: A Love Story also hints at the public’s outrage. The media strives for conflict because conflict is interesting. Who would want to watch a movie about how everyone gets along and where compromising is as easy as 1, 2, 3. The movie wouldn’t even make it to promos.
This war is not just the media’s fault. Moore suggests that it is our love of capitalism, our desire to live outside our means in order to achieve the lavish lives we dream of that is partly responsible. We want the lavish lives those CEOs live every day, but we need a reality check. There is no way a regular American can afford such a lifestyle and there is no need for many of the excess they have.

This leads to two reasons why Americans living on Main Street dislike those living on Wall Street. CEOs spend money recklessly, and are paid too much to do so. The media asks the question - Do CEOs deserve million dollar bonuses?  Anyone who heads a company and helps it make billions should get a fair cut of the profits. This cut however should not affect the company financially and should ONLY be given if the CEO’s decisions were responsible and improved the company. Those who lead their company’s to bankruptcy do not deserve anything, but a boot out the door.

CEOs lose their consumers’ trust and possibly jobs, the media is also losing the public’s trust and the average Mr. Smith living on Main Street cannot find a job. This is the sad reality of what we are facing, and unfortunately unless we start thinking about each other we will not be able to help ourselves.

24 October 2009


The fate of more than 35 million uninsured Americans is hanging from a thin thread. The power to save these Americans in need, politicians say is in the hands of 60 senators. Americans don’t need 60 senators to save them. After all, we are the ones who will be affected by the decisions made in Congress, and we need to make this life-changing decision on our own. But it is not as easy as it sounds. We must understand what is being proposed before we can say yay or nay. With more than a thousand pages more difficult to understand than a doctor’s handwriting, Americans don’t have enough understanding to push their representative in the right direction. All Americans, not just those that are uninsured, need user-friendly health care that can be understood, and from which an informed decision can be made.

TV personalities are successful when it comes to selling products. If they weren’t they wouldn’t even be on TV. But products aren’t the only thing they’re selling. They’re also selling candidates and political ideas. Surprised, you shouldn’t be. Remember all those celebrities that wore their Obama “Change” shirts during the election. They turned Obama from a somewhat known politician to an international sensation. This marketing tool needs to be used again. Health care advocates need to convince those on TV to support this program. Maybe if they began expressing their opinion on national television and started selling trendy health care shirts to college students, then health care could have a chance in Congress.
The power of the Internet is immense, and yet no one is taking advantage of its power to push for health care reform. Online there are millions of “Top Ten” lists, yet not one top ten list to oppose or support health care exists. During the 2008 election, everyone with a Facebook had at least one friend requests from a candidate, you couldn’t walk into a gas station without being bombarded with Obama and McCain pins and no matter where you looked someone was wearing Obama’s face. One would expect that with the success the Obama campaign had with these tactics every politician, political movement or anything that needed mass exposure would use this. Wrong! There are thousands of Facebook groups, shirts promoting all types of causes from “Save Darfur” to “Go Green”, yet I still haven’t gotten one request to become a fan of health care. Health care advocators and opponents must make this nation health care obsessed. Health care should be everywhere, consuming our every day thoughts like the 2008 presidential campaign did.

There are steps that need to be taken before health care reform can become popular and eventually get those 60 votes needed. The first step is to take over Facebook by using every application available. Then advertise as if in a tight campaign, and post viral videos all over the internet. With the help of advertising and viral videos, health care should be made easier to understand.  A video that gives the top ten things health care reform will do for me or five ways the Baucus’ bill will harm Medicare are examples of videos that should exist online.  This user-friendly health care should be pitched to the news. Current news coverage of the bill has been slim. Water line ruptures get more coverage. Coverage needs to be increased if health care reform will have a chance of being passed. In order to make health care popular, celebrities will have to openly endorse it by wearing their “Support Health Care” shirts and singing about health care. They can also help by selling health care merchandise, such as shirts or bumper stickers, to raise funds for the cause.

Public option, co-op, single-payer or trigger are words that senators don’t even understand. Health care may pass without any public understanding, but if it is not made understandable in the first place we won’t know how to take advantage of it. We will still be without Health care and money will be wasted instead of being saved.

15 October 2009


KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!!! We heard outside the doors of my political science class. A student must be late and can't get in. The teaching assistant walked up to the door, opened it and to everyone's surprise masked gunman came in the door with AKs and RPGs. "GET ON THE FLOOR," they yelled at the top of their lungs. Half of the people in the room quickly ducked to the floor and the other half looked around confused. One the "terrorists" ran to the front and pointed her gun at Professor Dekmejian and one of her accomplices did the same to a visiting professor. "I WANT A MILLION DOLLARS, A VIDEO CAMERA AND A PLANE," she demanded. The professor told he would give her anything she wanted but she wasn't satisfied. The others continued to yell at students to get on the floor. The faces of those students walking in late were of complete confusion.
At this point no one really knew what was going on except that this had to be a horrible joke the professor was pulling on us. Yet very little people got off the floor. Well, except for those few who wanted to make sure and capture this moment with their phones.
Finally the professor got up and called the supposed terrorist to the front of the room. SHOCKING TO EVERYONE STILL ON THE FLOOR, THEY COMPLIED.
Slowly the mood in the room began to relax and all those nervous laughs began to fade. The danger was over. It was all a joke. But who would do such a thing. It was our fellow classmates talked into it by the professors.

What was the point of this we all asked?

Simple to show us that terrorism is still alive and probable. "I am not here to scare you," the professor and former USC graduate student said. "But terrorist are planning attacks as we speak."
His major point is that we need to be prepared because attacks can happen at any time and the terrorists can be anyone, including our classmates. We are not to be paranoid but aware of the situation, so that we are not caught off guard.

Ignorance is our biggest weakness. We must inform ourselves of the events occurring all around the world and learn about the reasons why organizations like Al-Qaida hate us. The better prepared we are, the better chance we have of combating terrorist plots and be ready to respond when terrorist do really come knocking on our door.

10 October 2009

Political Culture, Beck, Stewart and the American Political Process

When running for office a politician always wonders what will influence political culture, what must I do or who must I hire to influence voters to choose me. Family, personal values, stands on certain issues and many other factors are believed to influence our decision to choose one candidate over another. What factor is more important than another when making a decision is dependent on the individual voter. There is no magical factor that helps politicians attract voters. We the voters would like to think that we make our decisions based solely on our beliefs on certain issues or the candidate’s ability to do a great job, but in reality a good majority of us also make our decisions based on that one amazing commercial that sums up a candidate. We often also lose interest in a candidate if the opponent or the media runs an effective smear campaign. This is probably not what our forefathers envisioned for the American political process, and yet somehow this is how our genius system works. Our first impression of a candidate is formed while we watch a clip of her on the nightly news or a perfectly prepared ad that airs during our favorite show. Although we may not believe that TV personalities influence us to make political decisions, political culture is being shaped by the media and the opinionated personalities producers hire; they provide the American voter with that first impression of a candidate and they are the closest to the magical factor that politicians want on their side.

Before exploring how TV personalities influence political culture, political culture itself must be understood. There are three types of political cultures in America according to political scientist Daniel J. Elazar – Moral, Individual and Traditional. There are two that seem to be catered to by the media. Glenn Beck and others like him target traditional political culture. In traditional political culture “government is seen as an actor with a positive role in the community, but the role is largely limited to securing the maintenance of the existing social order.”  In other words, the government’s role is to maintain order so that the country doesn’t go into chaos every time opposing groups don’t agree. The government is expected to protect basic social principles, such as democracy, freedom of speech, etc. Traditional political culture often clashes with individual political culture because they're two differing ideas of government’s influence. Those who are part of the individual political culture believe government has a practical orientation and should be more concerned with private maters than public ones. In addition, “to a significant degree there is cynicism about government” and “dirty politics tend to be accepted as a fact.” For example, they expect actions such as Clintons and Ensign. People who fall under this group are targeted by personalities such as John Stewart.  A study by political scientists Jody Baumgartner and Jonathon Morris of East Carolina University suggests that Stewart makes his viewers cynics, but in reality people who are already cynical about government are attracted to Stewart’s Daily Show. The media does not control what viewers think, it can only influence what will be part of the public discourse.

TV personalities and catchy advertising tunes may convince us to buy ice cream or vote for certain candidate, but it is we the consumers and voters who decide which programs to watch or if it’s time to change the channel. “The media acts as a filter”. An editor will decided what will make the final cut and what will go in the recycle bin with all the rest of the pitched story ideas. However viewers also have their own filters. For instance, a hardcore liberal will refuse to watch FOX News because it is against all he believes in. No matter how hard producers of FOX attempt to get this hardcore liberal to watch its programs it will most likely never happen because that filter has been pre-set by the viewer. Choosing a media outlet is where the viewer holds the power. Once an outlet is chosen the viewer loses power, and the information that will be consumed is in the hands of the media gatekeepers.

We choose our TV personality based on the factors we are said to choose our candidates, family and personal values and stances on issues. Personalities, like Beck and Stewart, are chosen for two reasons. One is the information they provide to their viewers but most importantly for the entertainment they provide. Because of people like them we have the word infotainment. These men are first and foremost entertainers. Radio historian Marc Fisher commented in an issue of Time magazine that “Glenn Beck is a former Top 40 DJ first and foremost an entertainer, who happens to have stumbled into a position of political prominence." These men did not study to become political experts and have never claimed to be public intellectuals, yet their opinion on certain political issues is sometimes taken as expert opinions to the extent that John Stewart was voted as the most trusted news anchor in a 2009 poll by Time magazine. Despite the fact that they do not claim to have all the information, in 2004 the National Annenberg Election Survey at the University of Pennsylvania found that those who watch The Daily Show knew more accurate facts about the 2004 presidential elections than those who got their information from traditional news sources, such as the national network evening newscast and newspapers.

Both John Stewart and Glenn Beck are careful when it come to choosing what current events they will discuss on their nightly shows. They hold the power to tell viewers what they should be thinking about, and they know it. This power is used to promote certain issues of interest to the TV personality or a candidate for instance, when Oprah endorsed Obama during the 2008 campaign. She knew that her endorsement of a candidate would get him lots of media attention that is probably why she never endorsed one before. Oprah may not have convinced all her viewers to vote for Obama, but it did make him a legitimate candidate. It also made him much more of a household name. “The media can influence the public by limiting coverage of certain candidates.” For example, I didn’t know that a Latino candidate was on the 2008 ballot for vice-president until a got the ballot on Election Day. I had heard people discussing the possibility that a Latino was a running-mate but since I didn’t hear anything on the news, political talk shows or other shows, I figured it didn’t go through. I didn’t hear any mention of a Latino vice-presidential candidate because the media didn’t see him as a viable candidate mostly because he was part of a third party. Sometimes the media doesn’t make the most educated decisions. In one case during Clinton’s election campaign Al Gore was misquoted by the media as saying that he “invented the internet”. To this day there are thousands of articles in which Gore is quoted as saying he was the inventor of the internet. One person’s irresponsibility has led to the distribution of the wrong information.

According to Time magazine, there are “record-low levels of public trust of the mainstream media.” In addition, there is a lack of trust of politicians. The distrust for both politicians and the mainstream media has led voters to turn to non-tradition sources, like Beck and Stewart, for information. They may be cynical, over-the-top and at times a bit crazy, but they are at least honest. They don’t promise an unbiased or objective report. They only offer their analysis on the issues that are happening in the States and around the world. Glenn Beck, for example, shares his fears and hopes with his viewers. He cannot be judged on providing facts because that is not his thing. Beck provides opinions.

However, we must step in when these opinions become dangerous. For instance, when there are polls that suggest the assassination of a president. "Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination”, according to New York Times columnists Thomas Friedman. Viewers are confusing criticism of a candidate with unthinkable actions. Beck has openly said that he is not a fan of President Obama but he still wants him too succeed as president. Yet, there are others who wish for him to fail. People like Rush Limbaugh joke about how the President is not from the United States. These ill thought opinions or jokes are dangerous. Although Limbaugh might think it’s a joke, there are Americans who take these accusations seriously and who believe that Obama is not legitimate. The opinionated for the sake of having an opinion have also contributed to the inaction in political reform in this country. “In the healthcare debate, for example, there is a national consensus that we have a broken and bloated system. But instead of replacing it with the kind of single-prayer government-run system adopted by most of the developed countries on the planet, that option is ruled out of order at the start of the debate. As a result, the best we can hope for is modest reform of an inherently flawed and expensive system” (Ellis).

Media doesn’t provide the fair and balanced report it promises, but the internet has stepped in to fill the hole. With the rise of the internet voters have endless options to seek information, yet they continue watching Beck and Stewart’s shows. People like John Stewart and Glenn Beck are not ruining our democracy despite what their critics might think. Instead, they offer a voice for Americans who feel ignored by mainstream media. They do not have the influence to change pre-existing perceptions that viewers have but they can shape the discussions their viewers have or the issues voters should consider important. This doesn’t mean that these personalities don’t have any influence. Beck was able to assemble thousands of people in Washington, DC to express their opinion on various issues the main one being health care. He did not provide them with an opinion to take. However, he did provide them with a medium to express their personal opinion in a platform in which they might be listened to.  Voters may be just as impressionable as kids when it comes to new issues or ideas or if they are undecided, yet if they already have a firm stance on an issue one charismatic individual will not change their mind.

Carville and Matalin. “Carville Calls Anchor ‘Out-and-Out Nuts’.” AOLNews. 5 Oct. 2009

Elazar, Daniel. “Political Culture of the United States.” 3 Oct. 2009

Ellis, Joseph J. “Them versus us; Thomas Jefferson's anti-government vision is part of the American mind-set, but now it's time to think another way.” Los Angeles Times. 9 Aug. 2009: A32

Friedman, Thomas L. “Where Did ‘We’ Go?” New York Times. 30 Sept. 2009: A31

Lane, Laura. “The Influence of the Media in Politics, Campaigns and Elections.” Associted Content. 14 Nov. 2007

McNamara, Melissa. “Bloggers Laugh Over Jon Stewart Study.” 2006 CBS News. 5 Oct. 2009

Von Drehle, David. “Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?” Time. 28 Sept. 2009: 32

Other Sources
Corner, John and Dick Pels. Media and the restyling of politics: consumerism, celebrity and cynicism. California: Sage Publications, 2003.

Jones, Jeffrey P. Entertaining politics: new political television and civic culture. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

01 October 2009

Rape is Rape

It is always shocking to hear when a child is raped. It is one of the most horrible acts a human being can commit on another human being. Yet recently it seems that rape is being defended especially by certain Hollywood celebrities. The case of Roman Polanski. Why should he be able to walk freely when he has never paid for his crime? It might have been a long time ago, but just because he admitted to doing it doesn't mean justice has been served. When any other person commits a crime they are not let off the hook by simply apologizing. Every one pays for their mistakes and celebrities should not be different.

Celebrity adoration has gotten out of control. It is perfectly fine to respect a celebrities work, but like Lisa Respers France said in  her article about Polanski on CNN it is not his art that committed the crime it was him. I will always love his movie The Pianist , but what he did to that 13-year-old girl I will never forget. Rape is Rape is Rape whether she was drugged or agreed to it. She is 13 and is not capable of making those types of decisions. It is said that she took drugs herself and that led her to have sex with him. If this is true then he should be charged with endangering a minor along with statutory rape. If I was given drugs by anyone when I was 13, my mother and the law would have made sure that person was in jail and not drugging other minors. WHY? Because this is unacceptable in our society. Children should not be given drugs and children should definitely not be taken advantage of.

I have lost respect for many celebrities who are defending him, including Penelope Cruz who wants him to stay in France because he is a French citizen. So let me ask you this..If I was a 50 year old French citizen who came to the U.S. on vacation and had sex with a 13-year-old girl, I should be free to return to France no questions asked. It would never happen.

In all of this madness, I was at least glad to see that some celebrities have a consciousness and that our police department was dedicated enough to make him serve his time no matter how long it took them. This is what I expect from a police department...determination to get the criminal to do the time he deserves. Because Polanski was a criminal in 1977, is one now and will continue to be one until he is either acquitted or serves his time.