Quite the Choice

Posted on 29. Nov, 2009 by .


“‘But I don’t want to burn my flag…’ THEN DON’T” – Bill Hicks

American life involves choices. George Carlin defined these choices as paper or plastic, cash or credit, Democrat or Republican.

In reality, it’s much funnier and much scarier than Carlin’s pithy summation.

For example, the right to bear arms so famously guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution is for the purpose of maintaining a militia, being necessary to the free state. The framers didn’t envision the United States maintaining a professional military, so they wanted the citizenry armed to defend their newly-created society. Section III of Article III of that same Constitution defines treason as levying war against the United States. As John Brown discovered after he took on the country’s professional military at Harper’s Ferry over a societal issue, when a citizen militia’s right to bear arms is weighed against national interest, the militia bears its arms into a hangman’s noose. […]

Continue Reading

I love me some party-crashers

Posted on 29. Nov, 2009 by .


Sure they are media whores. Sure they are looking to cash in on their stunt. It won’t be long until they make the rounds of talk shows. Till Valerie Bertinelli and the guy who played Will on Will and Grace, portray Michaele and Tareq Salahi in some Lifetime movie. There will be books, there will be signings, God let’s hope there will be t-shirts. It’s annoying, but damn I love them.

Let’s set aside the fact that their party crashing skills are tops. (If the Salahi’s choose to write any book, it should be a Dummy’s guide to party crashing. It be a hit!) Or that the incentive for barging into this particular party, was to film a tryout for the Real Housewives of DC. Total class!

They aren’t much different than most of reality tv obsessed America. Trying to come up with any stunt, any crazy- camera loving behavior for those glorious 15 minutes of fame.

But the Salahi’s took it a step further than even Balloon Boy and his crazy parents. Not only did they manage to humiliate the media: (SORRY COLIN I MUST CUE THE SALAHI/KATIE COURIC PIC)
Their spotlight hogging stunt helped uncover the shameful inadequecy in White House security. Imagine that. Anyone with money, time, and enough creativity can go face to face with Obama and shake his hand.

A senior Secret Service official said a “top-to-bottom” review of the agency’s protective department was ordered shortly after Obama began his term amid the highest threat level for any recent president. The results are due soon, spokesman James Machin told the Washington Post.

The gap in security is really the main focus in this tale of fame and money. The Salahi’s will eventually go the route of Balloon Boy and fly away from our collective minds. But the secret service should remember the moral of this tale and make up for it quick. Next time, who knows what the pretty blonde might be hiding under her sari.

Continue Reading

Are Politicians Now Cool?

Posted on 29. Nov, 2009 by .


*(I’m sorry Joe Walker, you don’t have to read this if you don’t want to)*

This is a post about the Obama Gatecrashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi. I refuse to do them the service of linking to a story about their stunt, nor will I direct you to the Facebook pictures of Michaele with Joe Biden or Rahm Emanuel. That I’ve just added to their Google Trend-iness by mentioning them annoys me a little, so to spite them and their SEO, they don’t get their names in the title of my post. In fact, I will only refer to them as “them” and “they from here on out.

But I won’t discredit them completely, because they sure did make me think a little.

The couple is obviously fame hungry–nothing new in our society–but the way they went about groping for it… Were they trying to boost their status by talking their way into a White House function or by appearing with political leaders? Because the idea of being somewhere you aren’t supposed to isn’t new. But the idea that being seen with politicians is cool, as if they’re celebrities or athletes–that feels a bit new. Sure, argue JFK or maybe Reagan to an extent, but those are exceptions. I don’t think many aspiring reality TV couples conspired about getting shared “W” face time, that’s for sure.

Just the fact that they posted the pictures to Facebook is interesting. I have Facebook friends that proudly tag pictures of themselves mugging with Jay-Z or Paul Pierce. But Joe Biden? It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Not that there are D.C. socialites who would want to name-drop “Biden” over a champagne flute at a dinner function adorned in their best pearls, but that said socialites would also aspire to appear on reality television. It feels like serving donut hole hors d’oeuvres at a black tie function.

But hell, maybe that’s where we’re at as a society. Perhaps Facebook isn’t just for the kidz and “Real Housewives” not just for a certain demographic. Maybe we’re so interconnected that we’re equal consumers with fading class lines in a social media age. Perhaps I’m behind the times for failing to recognize this.

Or maybe it’s not that at all. Maybe politics are now hip and trendy (Jon Stewart and Colbert are leading the charge if so), like nerdy glasses (I own some) and skinny jeans (not so much). Maybe Barack and Michelle are the realest reality TV couple there is, and their drama dwarfs anything on TNT.

MAYBE Obama should release an official neck-tie line made by Nike with his initials embroidered on each one. Then, on Tuesday, we could all rock them like football jerseys while we’re at West Point applauding the announcement that 30,000+ more troops are headed to Afghanistan!


Continue Reading

Learning the Wrong Lessons

Posted on 28. Nov, 2009 by .


I can’t remember the exact moment when I first “got” Bruce Springsteen. It was probably the summer on 1999, right after I graduated from UVa. I recall picking up Live 1975-1985 at the now closed Circuit City out on Rt. 29 in Charlottesville. I brought the cd’s home and proceeded to sit on the roof outside my room at 3 University Circle with a bottle of Jim Beam and a two liter of Coke, lost for hours in the tales of “shut down strangers and hot rod angels”. It was as if I’d found the person who had make sense of things I never could.

So it was with great interest that I read David Brook’s latest op-ed in the New York Times as he talked about the two types of education we have – academic and emotional – and how his experience first hearing the Boss back in February 1975 shaped the latter for him.

Brooks writes:

I followed Springsteen into his world. Once again, it wasn’t the explicit characters that mattered most. Springsteen sings about teenage couples out on a desperate lark, workers struggling as the mills close down, and drifters on the wrong side of the law. These stories don’t directly touch my life, and as far as I know he’s never written a song about a middle-age pundit who interviews politicians by day and makes mind-numbingly repetitive school lunches at night.

What mattered most, as with any artist, were the assumptions behind the stories. His tales take place in a distinct universe, a distinct map of reality. In Springsteen’s universe, life’s “losers” always retain their dignity. Their choices have immense moral consequences, and are seen on an epic and anthemic scale.

(emphasis mine)

So much of how music makes you feel and helps you make sense of your life can be traced, I think, to how heavily you associate with it. As a middle class black kid with a family that more or less looked like this, I have to admit that I never got NWA in the same way a black kid from Watts might have. At some point, that bothered me. A lot. When I was coming of age in the late 80s/early 90s, there was a distinctly militant bent to a lot of hip hop and other aspects of “black culture” in general. Public Enemy unapologetically fought the power. Naughty By Nature told people who’d never been to the ghetto to stay the fuck out of the ghetto. Spike Lee’s Malcolm X burned up movie screens, giving an entire new generation of black people a sense of empowerment they’d never experienced.

Me? I wasn’t a hood rat. My family belonged to a country club. My sister was in law school at the University of Virginia. I played soccer and took tennis lessons. I listened to Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington with my grandfather in his room in our house. Needless to say, I didn’t feel authentically black in the way that blackness was being presented to America at large. Being black was dangerous, seductive, powerful. I was none of those things.

Nor was I very much into Pearl Jam or Nirvana, the two groups that spoke to the “white experience” of teen self-loathing and rejection of authority. I liked myself! My dad was the principal of my high school. Authority was all around me and, at the time, I didn’t feel the need to question it because I didn’t feel oppressed by it. It was what it was; something to be observed that generally left you alone if you didn’t provoke it.

So musically, I was adrift for a long time before finding Springsteen. And what I discovered in his work were things I did know and did see and did experience. Many of my relatives worked for DuPont, which shuttered a major factory in my hometown of Martinsville, VA, when I was growing up. I’ve seen first hand the devastation those closings can have on an entire community. As I got older, my relationship with my father deteriorated for a variety of reasons, and so, as many young men have done, I pulled away to gain a certain sense of independence to live my own life, not one that had been imagined for me by someone else. I saw friends, talented friends, set their horizons so low because of where we’d come from; a fading blue collar town in the south side of Virginia that offered little in the way of opportunities outside of a factory job or joining the military. I knew I had to get out while I was still young.

What does all of this have to do with David Brooks? A lot, actually. I highlighted the section in his column because I think it says something about how skewed American political commentary really is. David Brooks is an elite (in every way) pundit who mixes his musings on politics with dollops of random cultural observations. I’m fully prepared to believe that he knows what he’s talking about when he’s writing about Bobo’s, but I raise my eyebrows a bit when Brooks and people of his ilk start talking about things like the “real America” or some other such nonsense. In fact, the perception of a place like my hometown would dovetail nicely with the imagery found in a Sarah Palin speech. But, of course, my hometown is much more complicated than any caricature and it bothers me that these people claim to know what they’re talking about when, in fact, they don’t.

Brooks writes:

Just as being from New York or rural Georgia gives you a perspective from which to see the world, so spending time in Springsteen’s universe inculcates its own preconscious viewpoint.

It does, but I wonder how much Brooks actually hears what’s being said. Springsteen’s best known work, 1984’s Born in the U.S.A., is perhaps the most depressing album ever to spawn seven top-10 singles. “Born in the U.S.A.” is a screed about the plight of a Vietnam vet who comes home to find his life turned upside down (and was famously misunderstood by Ronald Reagan). “Glory Days” is about reliving the past because the present holds little promise. “My Hometown” catalogs the downfall of a small American town, the very towns that folks like Palin and Glenn Beck (and, to a lesser extent, Brooks) are happy to exploit when it comes time to get votes but seemingly don’t give a shit about any other time of the year.

If you’re where I’m from, it’s impossible to hear these songs and miss their intended meaning. I’m not saying that makes me better than David Brooks. Far from it. But how can people who get millions of dollars in speaking fees, who live in mansions in Connecticut and attend exclusive parties inside the Beltway claim that not having a universal health care system because of fears (stirred up by them) of socialism is what’s good for middle America? How can they let their own daughters make a considered decision about the merits of child birth while at the same time cutting funding for that procedure to the people most likely to need it, the residents of small towns who have little means and money of their own? How can they advocate for cuts to the capital gains tax or estate tax, which affect only the most wealthy Americans, while having to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to vote to extend unemployment benefits in the stimulus plan?

I fear Mr. Brooks, while enjoying the quality of the craftsmanship of Springsteen’s work, misses the point of what he’s listening to. The assumption behind many of the Boss’ songs is that the little guy can’t win. From “Badlands”:

“Poor men wanna be rich, rich men wanna be kings, and a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything.

At the end of the day, David Brooks is firmly in the corner of the kings of society. And that’s fine. I just wish there were other voices out there to tell him he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

I mean, does David Brooks actually remember who Springsteen himself endorsed for president last year?

Continue Reading

Gobble Gobble, People . . .

Posted on 24. Nov, 2009 by .


Since Thursday is the end all, be all of national holidays, the world seems to be slacking off in their creative efforts – – and are going to the tried and true gimmick of incorporating Thanksgiving related stories into their blog posts, TV shows and articles.

Taking to heart the old “if you can’t beat them, join them” motto, I figured this would be a good opportunity to write a post on the foundation of the holiday, broken down simply to the three f’s – – food, football and family.

Well, come to think about it, I think it best for me to stay away from the football talk, considering my Jets are pretty much done for the year and I’m quite upset about it.   And, I guess I should also avoid the whole family issue, considering that we all know what happens when we get together with family over the holidays, as seen below:

So, that leaves food, namely the Thanksgiving meal itself.

There’s nothing like sitting down and enjoying a finely prepared meal.  But what makes a culinary masterpiece even more enjoyable is good company.

Someone recently asked me, “Nick, which four celebrities would you want to break bread with the most on Thanksgiving?”  I leaned back in my chair and stroked my beardless chin with wonderment.  “Hmm, who would make for engaging and appealing celebrity Thanksgiving guests?”

Well, after much deliberation, I’ve determined my Fab Four, hailing from the worlds of movies, music and politics.  Let me know what you think:

Throwing up the six-shooters, baby.

Throwing up the six-shooters, baby.

1) Tom Cruise. Call him insane, call him batty. But, I for one want him at my Thanksgiving table.  Why?  Do I want to figure out if I’m in touch with my inner thetan?  Do I want him jumping up and down on my couch, fist-pumping and crouching like a crazy man?

Not really.  Besides, I think my mom would throw him out on his butt before he got too out of hand.

Nevertheless, I’d have Cruise over because he is one of the few movie producers and actors that can rake in box office returns in the billions.  His talent is undeniable.  And add in the fact that he also starred in three of my favorite films – – Top Gun, Mission Impossible III and The Color of Money – – makes for interesting conversation topics in my opinion.

And since I’m on the topic of Tom Cruise, here’s my two cents: Tom Cruise is not crazy.  He’s zealous, perhaps over-zealous about this religion, one he’s believes has the answers to all of our problems.  Maybe he isn’t presenting things in the right way, but you can’t fault his intent: he wants to help people better themselves.  And I for one find that kind of selflessness refreshing and laudable – – and worthy of a spot at my table.

I don't even want to know what's going on here.

I don't even want to know what's going on here.

2) George Lucas. Unlike other geeks, I can have him for Thanksgiving and not bring up Star Wars at all (well, maybe I’ll throw him a question about the whole midichlorians debacle, but that’s about it).

Besides the fact that he created the most feared character in all of film for the greatest movie franchise of all time, Lucas re-created the art of film making by developing the revolutionary creative houses in Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic.

If it was not for George Lucas, there would be no WETA, Pixar and Dreamworks – – at least not in its current form.  So there’s also that to talk about.  And I’ll show him the above picture and ask: “What were you thinking?”

They don't call him the Boss for nothing, folks.

They don't call him the Boss for nothing, folks.

3) Bruce Springsteen. We’re both born on September 23rd, albeit 31 years apart.  We’re both highly creative people, the few artistic geniuses of our time. (I think I sprained my arm patting myself on the back just now.)  And most of all, having the Boss come to Thanksgiving dinner would afford me the opportunity to bust out my guitar and fumble through my rendition of “Thunder Road.

Best case scenario: He’d take the guitar from me and say, “Son, let me show you how it’s done,” and blow all of us away with the greatest acoustic set ever known to man.

Or he could simply just run around my apartment, sliding up and down the hallway for the entire night.

And last but certainly not least . . .

Turn that frown upside down, Mr. President.  You're coming to dinner!

Turn that frown upside down, Mr. President. You're coming to dinner!

4) Bill Clinton. He’s a musical maestro. He’s a ladies man. And he is a member of the most exclusive club in the world – – former Presidents of the United States of America.

But, people have said that he can make anyone feel important, no matter what their station in life.  That kind of charm and swagger is something I need to see in action first hand.

And maybe he’ll play sax for Bruce when he breaks into “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out“:

There’s also another, more subtlety drawn common thread amongst these dream guests: they can all carry a conversation, giving me a chance to acquiesce and delegate the hosting responsibilities amongst my visitors. And they are very opinionated in their beliefs about life and their place in their respective arenas.

Of course, this is nothing more than conjecture, but it beats writing about Michelle Obama’s favorite Thanksgiving recipe.  The horror, the horror.


I would be remiss if I didn’t expand my guest list by one . . .

Oh yeah!  SALSA!

Oh yeah! SALSA!

5) Katie Couric. She’s a Today Show alum and the current CBS Evening News Anchor.  She even matched wits with Sarah Palin not too long ago, though that’s not saying much.  But, I wouldn’t invite her because of that.

Her raspy voice and dance skills are reason enough.  Saying she’s saucy would do a disservice to saucy people.

GRR, Katie.  VERY GRR!!!

Continue Reading

Bow Wow! Wow!

Posted on 23. Nov, 2009 by .


 alg_bow_barack-obama Last week former Vice President Dick Cheney got in his Obama-bashing for the week by  commenting on our current president’s sign of respect to Emperor Akihito on a recent visit to  Japan.  Cheney told Politico.com that “There is no reason for an American president to bow to  anyone.  Our friends and allies don’t expect it, and our enemies see it as a sign of weakness.”  Does he mean the enemies that he and his budy George W. Bush helped amass during their  tenure in office?  It is exactly that kind of attitude that had us regarded as the most hated country  around the world in the pre-obama era.  It is that “bow-to-no-one” / “we-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-  you-or-your-culture” prespective that has given us a bad name not just in our foreign policy but  also as tourists as well.

 Every time I travel outside of the US I am met with the consequences of Cheney’s attitude.  People  are actually suprised when I seem interested in how they live, their local politics and the simple fact that I want to take the opportunity to get to know people and share experiences while I’m on vacation.  Sadly most expect that I’ve just come to see the sights, do some shopping, taking some pictures and engage with NO ONE.  Yet to me, the important part of my trips abroad are my interactions with the locals of the country I’m visiting.  

Meanwhile, back at the ranch we build chain resturants in major metrolitan cities so that the tourists can feel at home.  Isn’t the point of going away NOT to be at home?  Just steps from the j school’s front door can be seen the abnoxious neon claws of the Red Lobster logo.  Chain seafood in a city that already offers so much variety as to render Red Lobster’s existence unnecessary(some of it in walking distance from Red Lobster).  On the corner of 23rd street and sixth avenue there’s an Olive Garden – chain Italian food when rows of restaurants can be found serving delicious Italian fare in every corner of the city, including the two blocks of Little Italy.

While I  freely admit to stopping at McDonald’s during most of my foreign travel, I tend to order things I can’t get on the menu at home – England makes a kick ass Mexican chicken sandwich and Paris has a McIndia Burger with a curry sauce that is to die for! (Btw, the McIndia is made from chicken not beef)

Perhaps we should all follow Obama’s lead and bow to the fresh perspective of what other cultures have to offer.  Every country has something of value, and though it may be foreign to us, it is still to be respected and not to perceived as less than, just because we don’t have it at home.

Bowing to an Emperor in a land where that is the cultural custom is no more a sign of weakness, than admiting to a mistake (perhaps saying there were WMD’s in Iraq for example) and making amends to the offended party as quickly as possible (perhaps LEAVING Iraq).

Finally we have a president with enough sense to find subtle ways to show an inclusiveness and respect for things beyond our borders.  That’s a political attitude we haven’t seen here in almost a decade.

Continue Reading

Everyone Dies

Posted on 23. Nov, 2009 by .


“It’s been too hard living/but I’m afraid to die/’cause I don’t know what’s up there/beyond the sky.”

– Sam Cooke, ‘A Change is Gonna Come’

Here we are.

The Senate will begin to debate the overhaul of America’s health care system. There will be much discussion of cost. Moral imperatives will be invoked. The phrases “best health care system in the world” and “rationing care” will make frequent appearances.

A baby born yesterday is expected to live for 78 years. That’s four more trips around the Sun than was predicted in 1981, when I came into the world. It’s eight years longer than when Barack Obama was born. Life, the great gift, is enjoyed for longer than ever before. What’s more, the overall population is larger. So more people are living longer than at any point in the history of the United States.

Which is great.

But eventually, as Jay-Z puts it, “the Director yells ‘cut’.” […]

Continue Reading

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Posted on 22. Nov, 2009 by .


Turkey day is almost here. I love every single thing minute of that meal down to the food coma that makes me collapse on my bed by 10. Hell, I love it so much I am celebrating it with two meals this week.
On Saturday at the Stop and Shop in Astoria, shopping carts were already loaded with Butterball Turkeys and all the dressings. Food is as much an American tradition as the football game on Thanksgiving night, or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve. We love our food; every fatty drop of that gravy, every ounce of butter that makes those mashed potatoes so wonderfully fluffy.
This gets me thinking how we (Americans) love to indulge, we never really think about the consequences of what we put in our mouths, and figure “hell, this turkey n’ gravy is great. I’ll just pop a Lipitor if my cholesterol goes out of whack.” There are few examples of a mainstream push towards preventative medicine.
One example, NYC. Bloomberg has cut down on our smoking habits, banned trans fats from the food we eat in restaurants, and pushed for more bike lanes all around the city. But these are moves are far and few between. You can still smoke in bars in New Orleans, from what I remember of that hazy night. There are more fast food restaurants than sit down places in the shopping strips surround Akron, Ohio.

Providing health care for all Americans is a great step forward. Finally people my age will be covered whether through the public option or through private insurance. But the reason I never made a move to cough up 300 bucks a month for insurance, was because I’m a relatively healthy young woman, much like most of my peers. I don’t eat Mc Donalds (except that one time out of desperation with Walker), I exercise regularly, ok I drink and smoke, but I think I should be good for a while. But what about so many others, who have picked up all of these habits, and intend to stick with them for many years to come? Sure their bodies can handle the intake of nicotine, fats, and no exercise now, but where will they be in 20 years?
There needs to be a national push towards preventative methods of caring for ourselves. Bloomberg has been very successful in curbing many of our bad habits. Efforts like his should be implemented throughout the country. Otherwise, in 30 years we will all be paying for the unhealthy lifestyles of people in my age group.

So Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Enjoy your Turkey and gravy (I know I will.) But try to hit the gym the next day and make it a habit.

Continue Reading

I Care About Palin, Why?

Posted on 22. Nov, 2009 by .

Palin Book Tour

Sarah Palin at a book-signing event in Henrietta, N.Y. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

Sarah Palin is everywhere.

News sites, blogs, TV, a strip mall near you. At this point, I half expect the former governor of Alaska to message me in my Google inbox: “Don’t cha know I have a new book?”

I guess this book and its adjoining tour is a big deal. Palin was the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, and any book written by an almost-VP deserves some media attention. But thousands of people camping out over night for an appearance like it’s the Duke/UNC game?

Certainly it has more to do with Palin’s public status than her writing prowess. I haven’t read “Going Rogue”–and I won’t–but I’m comfortable assuming it won’t be mistaken for Hemingway. So the question turns to: just why is Palin still so damn popular?

It’s something I had been struggling to figure out until the answer dawned on me this morning. It happened while reading Maureen Dowd’s column “Visceral Has Its Values.” As is usually the case, I disagreed with most of what Dowd wrote, but her column did help illuminate something for me. Part of Dowd’s argument is that democrats, Obama in particular, should take note of the “visceral” power that Palin has. Writes Dowd:

Obama showed a flair for the theatrical during his campaign, and a talent for narrative in his memoir, but he has yet to translate those skills to governing.

As with the debates, he seems resistant to the idea that perception, as well as substance, matters. Obama so values pragmatism, and is so immersed in the thorny details of legislative compromises, that he may be undervaluing the connective bonds of simpler truths.

And, a bit later:

Palin can be stupefyingly simplistic, but she seems dynamic. Obama is impressively complex but he seems static.

She nurtures her grass roots while he neglects his.

When I read these passages, what sticks out is how Dowd describes the two. Obama is a politician. Palin is a B-List celebrity. Dowd even calls Palin a “conservative celebrity” before referencing Obama’s below 50 percent approval rating a few paragraphs later.

Now, I’m not sure why Palin ever got so popular in the first place, and maybe I never will be. But it makes sense why her popularity remains strong now. Remember when Obama was on the campaign trail, giving speeches and dropping sound bytes, rousing the masses and inspiring thoughts of hope? Of course you do, it led to his election.

What happened then? Well, he got bogged down with, you know, being president.

But Palin doesn’t face that. She’s a celeb concerned with pushing her image first and just about all else second. Her political thoughts (when coherent) are about as consequential as a threat from a two-year-old. “Awww, that’s cute.”

It’s pretty easy for the public to be happy with Palin. She’s not making decisions that affect their health care or their friends/relatives in Afghanistan.

At the end of yesterday’s article about her Michigan book stop, there was this passage:

“I’m looking forward to her giving me hope,” said Cheryl Geraty, waiting in the rain in Grand Rapids.

That sounded something like Mr. Obama, who had effectively started his own campaign for the White House on a book tour in 2006. No, Ms. Geraty said, shaking her head and smiling, “It’s a different kind of hope.”

Yeah, an inconsequential one.

Continue Reading

Collapsing Into Nothing

Posted on 20. Nov, 2009 by .


As something of a nerdy birthday present to myself, I downloaded J.J. Abram’s re-imagined Star Trek movie the other day from iTunes. If you haven’t seen it, it’s quite good; it’s visually stunning, action packed and actually funny. The plot itself is a bit hard to describe (there’s some time travel/alternate reality stuff going on), but a big part of the movie involves a substance called “red matter” that can create “singularities”, or black holes, from which nothing can escape.

Strangely, I found myself thinking about red matter as I read about the increasingly competitive Republican Senate primary between Charlie Crist and Mark Rubio in Florida. Crist, the current governor of Florida, is fairly moderate and has actually embraced some of the policies put forth by the Obama administration (he was, for example, one of the few Republicans to endorse the stimulus package). Rubio, on the other hand, is a hard line conservative and a darling of the Tea Party movement. The Tea Partiers, who claimed a scalp earlier this month by forcing moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava out of a highly contested race in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, are now seeking to do the same to Crist.

The problem for the GOP is that the Tea Party protesters – an activist portion of the Republican base that clings to a variety of extreme viewpoints – are increasingly dictating the direction of the party. They’re seeking purity by weeding out moderates at a time when when expanding the base (even with all of the hassle that entails) seems to be a better political strategy (especially in light of demographic trends that seem to indicate a further erosion of the Republican base).

In purging the centrists within their midst, it’s as if the GOP decided to douse itself in red matter. The party is collapsing in on itself at an alarming rate and my only hope is that the rest of us aren’t sucked into the black hole with them.

Continue Reading