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Turn Your Head and Cough #21
by Jason Torchinsky

No man is an island. And yet, around the Irish coast, there is the Isle of Man. That's fair for you. Oh, yeah. No man is an island, but there is an island that is Man. Seeing islands get this kind of preferential treatment just makes me realize how unfair life really is.

The reason I boarded this particularly tired and rickety train of thought was because I feel cheated by my early education. You see, when I was beginning school, a new educational program was being tried, a program known fondly as the Basic Education Plan. On paper, what this program boiled down to was a soggy mess of pulp in hot, inky water. In practice, this plan seemed to be based on the findings of all of those studies that maintained that American students were not only far stupider than their industrialized European and Asian counterparts, but were incapable of eating without consulting a diagram. It seems that the North Carolina school systems took this message to heart, for the new educational plan that was instated was stripped down to the bare essentials of learning.

I supposed the school system reasoned that it would be a waste of time to teach students with the IQ level of Clorox anything more complicated than the three 'R's: mathematics, literacy, and writing. But what makes things even worse is that I was in an offshoot of the Basic Education Plan, the Basic Basic Education plan, where the only things taught were verbs and pointing skills. Only a select few students with real potential to grow up to be lazy and stupid were chosen, so it was quite a privilege.

All this talk of education is especially important now that that thing that we do after each Olympics is upon us now. By the way, look how many 'that's there are in that last sentence. Man! It's grammatically right, I think. Huh. Anyway, now's the time when we, as citizens of these great 44 states, have to preform our civic duty and figure out who to hire for our next president.

Now, normally I really don't pay too much attention to politics. After all, why should I waste my time trying to keep myself informed so I can make intelligent decisions concerning the men and women who are going to be dictating the policies of this nation which will, in turn, affect nearly every aspect of my daily existence. Who's got time for that crap? Especially when the past 60 or so episodes of 'Full House' have been so engaging.

But deal with politics we must. And, though my previous sentence sounds as though it was uttered by Yoda, if you want to be able to identify who those portraits are of on those little greenish slips of paper I give to people for goods, services, and backrubs, you must know some politics. Or so I'm told. So, recently, I've made myself attempt to become aware of the political goings on around me.

For those of you keeping a notebook, I was in Atlanta over spring break. I bring this up because while I was in Atlanta, so was presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, though I didn't run into him. I also got punched in the mouth, but that's another story altogether. I don't know if it's column material, so if you're interested, most cuddly readers, just stop me and ask. Now, where was I? Oh, I remember. The reason I always keep a piece of ham on my person is...no, wait. Oh. Pat Buchanan. Right. So while I was in Atlanta, I turned on the local news by rubbing its thigh. Then I watched the local news. Pat Buchanan was having some sort of a rally, but what made this interesting was that there were some protesters. Apparently there was the insinuation that in one of Pat's syndicated newspaper columns something slightly favorable was said about the Nazis. Not surprisingly, a group of people were there to ask the candidate exactly what his stance was on Nazism and exactly what he meant in his column. What I found most surprising about this confrontation was not so much the actual issue, but rather the way in which Buchanan answered the claims that he had written something slightly pro-Nazi. Buchanan asked the protesters if they had ever heard of the first amendment.

Now, I don't know too much about running for president, but my father, Harry S. Truman, sure as hell did. (In case you're wondering why I don't use 'Truman' as my last name, it's because I decided to keep my maiden name.) And, based on all of the information I could glean on the subject of running for president, Mr.Buchanan's answer seems pretty foolish.

For one thing, I imagine that the gentleman who asked the question was aware of the first amendment, as the man proved by asking the question in the first place. And still, Buchanan's answer had nothing to do with the question. The man did not question Buchanan's right to say anything about the Nazis; he wanted to know Pat's stance on the subject, which leads us to a much more important point: why the hell didn't Buchanan just deny that he ever said anything favorable about the Nazis? Regardless of how he feels, didn't any of his supporters do any research to find out that virtually no candidate, regardless of his point on the political spectrum, is going to benefit from publicly praising Nazis? Then they could have briefed him and told him something like "Pat, if anybody says that you like Nazis, just deny it! We've just found some reports that Nazis aren't too popular in the US! Play it off!" What was he thinking? Oh, and one of his little supporters, between robot-like chants of 'Pat!', managed to make it in front of a camera and state "Buchanan is not an anti-semite." Okay. Good, strong statement. I'd be willing to believe that. Until, our friend continued, "at least, no more than me," completely nullifying anything he just said and making one wonder if anybody on Buchanan's campaign staff actually wants him to have a chance at the nomination.

I just don't get it. You'd think if you were going to bother to do all of that extra work to try to get a presidential nomination, you'd at least do a little homework and find out which groups that you might like you should just shut up about. Madness.

Now, I know that some may say that Buchanan is only running to show Bush, the, I believe, incumbent president that he's not as popular as his Magic 8 Ball says he is and that Buchanan isn't really an actual contender. Well, though this charge may be true, I am choosing to ignore it as it would render most of this column void and little more than the sad rantings of a madman. Besides, that kind of astute political analysis belongs on the McLaughlin Group or something, way the hell away from my goofy picture.

Boy, writing a column on this kind of well, real, viable topic makes me feel a bit uneasy. I need to lie down. Hopefully, I won't be forced to do this again. Good. Solidarity.

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