Archive for December, 2010

Stripped Down

December 23, 2010

This blog is way too serious most of the time. So, for my New Year’s Resolution, I’ve decided to lighten things up a bit. Here is the first-ever Bull Raker comic strip. It was created at and is entitled:

Yupik To Pick Topic

Don’t be surprised to see more Bull Raker comics in the future. Expressing political thought through humor can be very disarming, which explains why The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are better at reporting the news than the “real” media. Maybe the Bull Raker strips will have similar success at the local level.

Happy Holidays!

The 25% Solution

December 19, 2010
Do you care how your money is being spent?

 Click here to learn more about the 25% Solution.

Shooting The Messengers

December 10, 2010

I had such high hopes for Patch, the new media rival of the local-newspaper-turned-tabloid called The Bristol Phoenix. Unfortunately, so far, it’s just been more of the same from the upstarts at AOL. Take yesterday’s article entitled Truth in Advertising, which slams the anonymous postings of flyers throughout town that warn of various violations at a pair of nearby restaurants — without bothering to investigate the claims or even the identities of the people involved… um, just in case some diners enjoy the thrill of possibly eating rat poop?

The author was apparently satisfied in writing an article that, despite having potentially damaging effects to its readers, is devoid of practical meaning. Even the names of the targets were redacted, presumably for the restaurant owners’ (and Patch’s) peace of mind rather than ours. Sadly, this type of journalism has become common in mainstream media: Irrelevelant data, scrubbed clean of content harmful to company interests, that ultimately detract from the real stories, which often go unreported.

How else could one explain the reaction to WikiLeaks? Instead of following up on countless revelations of illegal actions on the part of the U.S. government, journalists have evidently preferred to cover the “manhunt” of Julian Assange, the head of the whistleblowing website, even though he never evaded capture. Why would he? Other than trumped up allegations of sexual misconduct, Assange hasn’t done anything wrong. If he did, editors at the NY Times, the Guardian, and the rest of the international papers that also published the information contained in the thousands of leaked documents would be guilty too. Yet no one is calling them terrorists, trying to shut down their organizations or threatening to kill them.

So, what’s the difference? Is it because, like Patch and the Phoenix at the local level, the global mainstream media is driven more by profit than truth? Could it be that, no matter how bad things look now, the rich and powerful know they can later spin their PR fairytales through media outlets eager to pass lies off as reality when the price is right? If only there were more independent news organizations like WikiLeaks, maybe we’d have more definitive answers to these questions.

Standing Up To Bullies

December 3, 2010

What do the Bristol-Warren School District (BWSD), a pair of NCAA Division I football programs, and WikiLeaks have in common? Not a whole heck of a lot, but they have each been the target of recent bullying and someone ought to stick up for them.

School Bullies

Patch reported that the BWSD will “participate” in the Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative, as if they had a choice in the matter. The truth is that, like every other district in the state, we could either implement the mandated changes solely on our dime or with help from a $75 million RTTT grant. What Patch mistakes for participation is actually the acceptance of bribe money, which will make it difficult for us to keep to the high road in future struggles with a Board of Regents and an Education Commissioner who are dead set on privatizing our public schools. In fact, we’re already sliding down the slippery slope: One aspect of the RTTT initiative, which is bound to suck up much of Bristol-Warren’s share of the grant, is a new student performance database… Because it somehow makes sense to slash a massive amount of state aid to our high-perfoming schools and replace only a fraction to invest in a computer system that will determine whether students are performing better. I’m sold. To which opportunistic vultures, I mean tech companies, shall we write the first check?

BCS Bullies

Boise St. and TCU have been the darlings of college football all season. Despite not being members of one of the six major conferences guaranteed spots in the lucrative post-season playoffs known as the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), the two squads hung with the big boys at the top of the rankings week after week. However, while both earned the right to play in the BCS, only TCU made the cut. Unfortunately, though one of just three undefeated teams remaining, they are still on the outside looking in at the title game between the other unbeatens: Oregon and Auburn.

These types of snubs are nothing new to the BCS. What’s novel are the lows that the big money schools and the NCAA will stoop to maintain their boondoggle. When it was becoming apparent that small conference schools might crash the BCS party, Ohio St.’s President called out Boise St. and TCU for not playing tough schedules, likening their competition to the Little Sisters of the Poor. Of course, he failed to mention that the schools’ strength of schedule numbers are comparable to his beloved Big Ten’s best teams.

Now, name calling is one thing, but cheating is a whole other ballgame. Auburn’s top player and possible Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton, was suspended last month for being shopped around by his father in a proposed pay-to-play scheme with another university while the quarterback was a recruit. The subsequent NCAA investigation, which cleared Newton to play just prior to a big game with in-state rival Alabama, set an incredibly poor precedent by exonerating a player for wrongdoings committed on his behalf. If there was any integrity left in college sports, it’s surely gone now.

Gov’t Bullies

One might think WikiLeaks would be praised for publishing thousands of documents that reveal and/or verify criminal activity done in our country’s name by the government. Well, think again. (More on that in the next post.)

“Bully!”, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!”

The problem that bullies have is, sooner or later, their dirty dealings and scare tactics stop working. The newly formed Bristol-Warren Parents’ Alliance isn’t afraid to let the state’s educaton deformers know that our district isn’t for sale, the Playoff PAC isn’t afraid to challenge the BCS in Washington, and the “hacktivists” aren’t afraid to bring down the Internet if it means protecting one of their own. It seems, suddenly, the Little Sisters of the Poor aren’t so little anymore.