Monthly Archives: July 2007

Cartoons & Politics

How do you make politics interesting? The same way you make anything interesting…in cartoon format! A cartoon in the form of Mr. Clean sold cleaning products to millions of housewives. Cartoons allegedly also made cigarettes more appealing to young people thanks to Joe Camel (R.I.P. Joe). And cartoons introduced me to the three branches of government…thank you, Schoolhouse Rock!

Now it’s 2007, and the game has not changed one bit. Nobody gets the message – unless it’s entertaining, that is – and what’s more entertaining than cartoons?

This past week I had the honor of watching The Simpson’s Movie as well as youtube after youtube video of political jokes followed by serious points. I even relived my childhood by sitting through that captivating Schoolhouse Rock video again. But to the lonely bill on Capitol Hill’s dismay, I think I’ve found a new favorite political cartoon. Only this one doesn’t just take <em>me</em> back to my younger days, it takes my mom back too.

The website challengeofthesuperduperfriends.com combines the Super Friends cartoon that my mother used to watch in the 70s with the politicians of today. George Bush is the evil Petroman, who is supported by his gang of goons. Senator Barack Obama is Captain United, leader of the good guys, who works for the betterment of mankind along with his own colleagues. Each character has his or her own identity, complete with story lines that match real life issues and weaknesses. For example, Hillary “Reform Girl” Clinton’s weaknesses are tobacco and cigars – oh, and she also avoids interns at all cost. As 9 Lives, Condoleezza Rice must live with the fact that she inspires nothing but mistrust between her and her comrades.

The comic is very well thought through and is supported by a very entertaining trailer – it keeps you waiting for the next clip in the series. The cartoon is one of many advertisements made by Viral Medium, a company that has done work for Excedrin and Goodyear, producing digitally animated combinations of 2D and 3D work that catches a viewer’s eye.

To think, all we have to do is animate real life things and then maybe people will pay attention. Not just kids, but ALL people. After all, I saw both The Simpsons Movie and Ratatouille in a theater full of adults. I am a grown person, fully aware of the problems of today’s world, and I admit: I watched Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, and the only part of the movie I remember is the animation of the stranded polar bear desperately floating on a depleting iceberg as the camera zoomed out.

And yeah, it touched me.

 

Dru Harshaw, Oakland, California

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Women Shouldn’t Be Sent To War… Who Would Be Here To Get Us Out Of It?

This past week, news headlines regarding the war in Iraq have been made by two of the more powerful identities in United Sates politics. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Democratic Representative from California Barbara Lee each made waves on getting troops out Iraq.

Lee, choosing the more conventional way, proposed a law which would “ensure that US troops would have no right maintain an open ended military presence in Iraq and that we won’t exercise control over Iraqi oil.” This legislation was passed 399-24. Lee’s soul purpose of this legislation was to get the target off the backs of American soldiers by showing the opposing Iraqi combatants that the Americans are not there to stay.

Clinton, although going about it in an alternative manner, is also on the path of making sure the Americans are not in Iraqi to stay – and everyone is notified.

Clinton recently had a bit of a back and forth with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates about the public notice of U.S. Military procedures, specifically regarding the safe removal of soldiers from Iraq. Gates, suggesting that providing information to the public about the course of action of the United States Armed Forces could possibly bolden the enemy, retorted to Clinton in what she called an “offensive and totally inappropriate” letter.

Clinton, seeking some type of information (as is the rest of the Nation) about the end of the Iraq occupation, might have approached Gates in a rather militant manner. She had pledged to introduce legislation that requires the Defense Department to prepare reports on proposals for a phased withdrawal of American troops. But militant times call for militant measures.

Both Clinton and Lee are working toward the goal of saving American lives. But no matter who wins or who loses, lives are ending over a war many see as purposeless. I commend both of these soldiers Barbara Lee and Hilary Clinton, political combatants in their war of ideas which is in direct relation to the war of “no idea.”

 

-Dru Harshaw, Oakland, California

Youtube CNN debate…

Entry number 1364: a young man named Gavin sitting in his stroller in Portsmouth New Hampshire asks: what are you going to do so I can go to college one day? The young man, no older than five years of age, is the perfect reason for this collaboration between CNN and youtube.com. Anyone can get their voice heard — from the wacky dude in the bee hat, disgruntled at the fact the Fourth of July fell in the middle of the week, asking, “How can I get more vacation time?” to the monotone teenager wanting to know what the next Democratic leader can do about legalizing marijuana. Any and every one gets a chance to air their thoughts.

Many of the questions posed are not only deep questions, which a presidential candidate needs to have a valid stance in answering- but many of these questions are platform forming questions, in fact an older gentleman named Dick submitted entry number 1363 asking “when are we going to hear a definite platform, instead of what we want to hear…” accusing the politicians of altering their message depending on which community they are speaking to.

This debate, in essence is a community much broader than any of the Presidential candidates have spoken to before- the world wide web! There, we will see how each Democratic candidate takes to this challenge, July 23rd on CNN live from South Carolina.

The only downfall to this new media merger is the fact that opposed to youtube’s normal process of the fan base selecting top material, CNN’s producers are choosing which questions will air. Going through the now 2,989 questions and finding 25-30 solid questions is a challenge CNN’s producers have taken on, in effort to help frame this debate — but this is where the error comes into play. Youtube’s beauty lies in the fact that the material is chosen by the people after being made by the people. Now CNN is asking the people to make the material, only to have it edited, produced, and framed in a manner suitable for CNN’s aesthetic — this is where reality T.V. loses its realness. I am curious to see which questions are selected and which demographics the individuals posing the questions hail from.

Either way, it’s a revolutionary concept that will reach the people.

 

-Dru Harshaw, Oakland, California

Are They Really Breaking Tradition…or Not?

I don’t know about you, but I am growing tired of the discussion about the origins of the Democratic and Republican Party. I think it’s safe to say that most of America knows and accepts the fact that the Republican Party initially supported racial equality while the Democratic Party supported segregation. It’s history. And quite like the rest of historical events, both parties have evolved.

But who cares about the political party system anyway? I mean we (the voters) should be focused on the individual stances of each presidential nominee, and not their political party affiliation. In fact, if you take a look at each candidate’s voting record, you may be shocked to find that many presidential candidates are not faithful ideological members of their political party. Moreover, if you have been watching the 2008 presidential debates, you may find that a number of the candidates don’t represent your interests or concerns, and that they may not support many of the things that are most important to you.

For example, if you believe that the country is doing well under the current administration, you would likely support a Republican presidential candidate. But, if you desire domestic and or foreign policy changes, you may decide that the best way to achieve that change would be through the election of a Democratic presidential candidate.

For the first time in America’s history, two very non-traditional candidates are vying for the presidential office. Traditionally, this office has been held by affluent white men. But, for the first time since 1789, there are two viable candidates who are positioned to break with that well established tradition. Hillary Clinton, a white female, and Barack Obama, an African-American male, are seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential election. This is not the first time that either a woman or an African American has run for the highest office in the country. However, this is the first time in America’s history that both a female candidate and an African-American male candidate are being taken seriously by the American people.

In contrast, the Republican Party has changed minimally since 1789. To date, all the Republican candidates are white and male.

 

-Miriam Archibong, Atlanta, Georgia

July 6, 2007

Today Young Voters, Filibustas, and Collar Poppin’ Politicos coverage is focusing on the burning issue of candles in White House- we come together to acknowledge today, the sixth day of the seventh month in the Two-Thousand and Seventh year as the birth date of the 43rd President of The United States of America- Happy Birthday George W. Bush. 61 years young and enjoying every piece of life’s fruits. While I could sit and wonder what he is wishing for as he blows out his candles- I spend my time on a greater pursuit of knowledge- astrology.

The position of the stars says a lot about what you bring to the world. As a man in power, I think it would be interesting to see some of Bush’s connections to others born on the 6th of July.

Powerful individuals being the topic, then the Dali Lama Tenzin Gyatso is your man! The 14th Lama, was brought to full power as chief of government in India at the age of 15. He was said to be the reincarnation of a past Lama- ironic. Others who have found power from a July 6, 2007 birth are American Icons Sylvester Stallone known for his role in Rocky I-VII and 50 Cent known for his survival of multiple gunshot wounds and “get rich or die trying” album and movie.

While the President’s story line mirrors the aforementioned icons by somewhat of a stretch, there is one undeniable birthday connection to Tia and Tamera Mowry. Famous twin actresses who are known for their exploits in tabloids. Sound much like the Presidents’ daughters…hmmm…Caroline Trentini, who I would rather take on a date faster than both sets of twins combined, was also born on this day in 1987. Another women of power, Della Reese, the famous African American actress, was born on this day. And not to be outshined is the famous Mexican painter Frida, who was most known for her picture titled “The Two Fridas” painted in 1939.

With all of the power that has been brought to the earth on this day, July the 6th, I am convinced that this day is a day that individuals destined to be powerful and famous- so I will celebrate my birthday like my co-Cancerians would do: act in a couple of movies, write a rap, jog some stairs, and govern a country- happy birthday to me.

 

-Dru Harshaw, Oakland, California

Town Politics

It seems like the whole town of Oakland was in attendance at the Community and Economic Development Agency (CEDA) and Planning Commission Meeting. The hearing room in Oakland’s City Hall was filled to capacity to hear the status of the Wayans Brothers-Pacifica Capital’s bid for a four month Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with the city of Oakland for development of the old Oakland Army Base. The famed Wayans brothers’ plans to build studios and a shopping center at the West Oakland site stroked the community’s interest and inspired some theatrics of their own at the meeting. Before the Wayans’ item was addressed, however, there were matters of the Oakland World Trade Center and Fox Theater Projects.

Seeing as how Oakland has the fourth largest port – a fact that Councilmember Henry Chang pointed out – the committee awarded C.H. Johnson over $40,000 to determine the feasibility of establishing an Oakland World Trade Center. Sanjiv Honda of the East Bay News Service pointed out that plans for an Oakland World Trade Center have been explored since 1988. He also claimed to have the only copy of plans drawn up in 1992-1993. In the end, the council agreed the project needed to move forward now. Phase One was approved to bring the financial projections before the ‘delivery’ Phase 2 will be explored.

But if the project has been crackin’ since 1988, what’s another decade? (WTFeezelle!?) Seeing as how crack was in full effect around that time, I can forgive the delay, but other than that there’s no excuse for this to be in the “Planning Phase” in 2007.

Drama soon ensued when the Fox Theater Project informational report turned into fighting words. Apparently, the project is supposed to award 50% of the contracts to local businesses and 20% of that to small local businesses. A local community figure, Mr. Carey, passionately explained how the project dishonored that commitment by dropping contracts and awarding them to firms located in Dublin, Livermore, and other such (rich, white) areas. He was rebutted by a Mr. Brunner, who pointed out that several other factors, such as suspended or revoked licenses, poor safety records, no local presence, and lack of experience, among other factors, was what soured partnerships.

Mr. Brunner’s comments caused a good deal of restlessness among Mr. Carey and members of the audience. The council, chaired by Ms. Jane Brunner (no relation), sided with Mr. Carey, which caused Mr. Brunner to walk out in protest. At that point Mr. Carey accused Mr. Brunner of gutting the city of its funds, and extended an invitation to “meet outside.” Councilwoman Brunner had to call the room to order and alert security.

Get used to that sort of action when the Fox Theater opens and witnesses its first Sideshow-type chillin’ situation while Jefferey’s, Club 17th (aka Mingles, Part 2), and the soon to be hopeful Club O (opening where Jimmy’s is currently located, but still needs approval).

Everybody in the room, already excited about the Wayans project, got even more juiced after the near altercation. When the Wayans Brothers-Pacifica Capital ENA agenda item was reached, community leaders, educators, actors, local businesspeople, and activists all offered up their two cents in support of the project. Even City Councilmember Desley Brooks, who isn’t on the Planning Commission, shared her two minute endorsement of the agreement. And while all committee members were on board, Chairwoman Brunner shared some concerns with the proposal before rushing it through to the next step. Among her worries were:

  • Land Purchase Price
  • Boundary issues on the complex that had to be resolved
  • Deadline benchmarks that are too loose
  • Detailed Traffic Plan
  • Environmental Cleanup Responsibilities to be outlined

So basically, the committee chose to withhold its approval of the plan until July 17 or a point when Chairwoman Brunner’s concerns could be addressed.

If they are actually interested in increasing the quality of life in West Oakland and making Oakland a DESTINATION POINT, the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement should be air-tight. It means the difference between bringing the city of Oakland to greatness or simply remaining on the “Brink of Greatness,” as one speaker in favor of the project pointed out.

 

King Anyi, Oakland, California

Mom, Where Does Information Come From?

One of my favorite movies is “Lord of War” with Nicholas Cage. There is a scene in the movie where his character has an epiphany about guns, and says: “Everyday I wake up and there is a news story with a picture of a gun in the paper, I think to myself, ‘Someone has to sell these guns…'”

Everyday I wake up and look at the paper and see pictures among pictures of anything you can name. And in the bottom right corner is a credit to the Associated Press. Who <em>is</em> the Associated Press?

Located in Manhattan on East 33rd Street, AP is a press conglomerate that works with many media outlets in producing stories nationally and worldwide. The acknowledgement of this media umbrella sent me on a bloodhound search for more ways people have tunnel vision due to media sources…OH! The internet.

For most of my friends my house is the internet hub. They come over, we crack jokes, eat something, and then before they leave they ask if they can check their MySpace. I respect that. Communications is a jones you have to keep up with or else – people won’t be your friend in real life because you didn’t add them as a friend on MySpace.

But the disturbing thought is when people only know about the handful of websites that have been popularized: MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, and Google to name a few.

Think outside of the box! Matter of fact, stop getting your information from a box! Everything you learn from is square: newspapers, books, computer screens, TVs, magazines, flyers, billboards, etc. And even more ironic than getting your information from a four sided item is that all of that information is secondary.

So this is my plea: the next time you want to learn something, take the road less traveled. Well, that’s any actual road nowadays.

 

Dru Harshaw, Oakland, California