Archive for February 15th, 2004

A Tale of Two Photos


The digital nature of our media streams is producing some
interesting meta-news stories. News about the news. As the ascendancy
of John Kerry (JFK Redux) increasingly becomes a fait accompli, the forces
arrayed against him are flexing their muscles.  And as the coverage
becomes increasingly digital and scandal driven, is it any wonder we
are starting to see digital scandals?

The first skirmishes are being fought over President Bush’s incomplete
military records and Senator Kerry’s Vietnam-era association with that
Bete Noir of American Politics, Hanoi Jane Fonda.  While it speaks
volumes about the charisma and character of our current President that
no one remembers whether he was there or not for long periods of his
war-time service, the attention being paid to purported photos of Kerry
and Fonda seems to be pure celebrity scandalizing.

While only one authentic picture from the era has turned up so far (the
one with a blurry Kerry in the background) enterprising photoshoppers
have already come up with a number of fake realities in which John and
Jane were together, front and center.

Well, frankly, so what? Who cares if they protested the war together
or even spent a drug-drenched weekend at the Hefner Mansion with Che
Guevara and Charles Manson.  Hell, they were both attractive young
singles, and it was the 60’s.

Obviously, these photos are the work of rank amateurs. Carl Rove and
company do much cleaner work than this, and anyway, we doubt a close
examination of 20-something personal histories is somewhere the Bush
campaign wants to go.  The President has admitted that when he was
young and irresponsible, he was, well, young and irresponsible. We’ve
all been there.

However, our original point is that reality and our perception of it
is more plastic and mutable with each passing electoral cycle. What we
are seeing unfold on our quadrennial screens is the convergence of government,
big business and show business. The three pillars of the American Empire
are putting on The Greatest Show on Earth, and we all have front row

Just sit back, folks, and watch the show. Don’t feel bad if you don’t
have a horse in the race, as the winner gets deballed and the losers
end up as dog food. The American public is so hooked on entertainment
that nothing less than a wardrobe malfunction can capture their attention,
a fact that has surely not escaped the strategists for the Kerry and

So stay tuned, Sports Fans. The Dowbrigade is willing to bet real money
that the news streams Rove and Company are cooking up as we blog will
make these weak attacks look like amateur night at the karaoke bar. And
John Kerry, as an authentic warrior and unrepentant Yalie, is a good
bet to give as good as he gets.

By the time this one is over, the Dowbrigade predicts, we will be posting photos of George Bush cavorting naked with the Olsen twins, and John Kerry cavorting naked with the Bush twins.

The election itself may be as managed as a World Wrestling Federation
Super Slam, but we are sure the half-time show will be worth watching…..

Meanwhile, in an Orwellian twist, George Bush and Tony Blair have been
nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize
.  Only a Peace Prize awarded
in the name of the inventor of dynamite could be given to the instigators
of the most one-sided war since the Invasion of Granada.

Fake photo story from Newsday

Occupational Hazard of Teaching


This story hits too close to home.  Ron Mayfield
became an ESL teacher late in life, although he always wanted to be an
educator.  Taking
early retirement after 20
years working on the railroad, he went back to school to get a
teaching degree from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas in 1992, the
same year his son, Robert, graduated from college. This was followed
by stints teaching English in Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Finally, tired of traveling, he returned home and got a job teaching
English to non-native speakers at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School.
By all accounts he was a stable and sober man. Then, late last year hew
was accused of "assaulting" a student in a wheelchair. He said he was
merely trying to get the attention of the misbehaving and disruptive

Despite his word, testimony of other students, Mayfield’s spotless record,
an apology from the students parents and a police investigation
which completely cleared the teacher, his life was turned upside down.  His
picture was shown in the newspaper and on TV, neighbors began to whisper
about him, and he got more and more depressed.

So one late October morning he drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway to
a scenic 2-lane bridge 200 feet above
River where
he often
fishing for catfish with his son, and had gone as a child with his father,
photo of which he had installed as a screen
on his
computer.  He
left his car carefully parked in a scenic overview parking area, slipped
neatly folded not into the bible on the front seat, and walked
to the middle of the span.  He took out his cell phone and called
his wife for a muted goodbye she didn’t understand.  Then
he carefully placed the phone on the sidewalk and jumped.

False accusations against teachers are rising at an unprecedented rate.
It has gotten to the point where the Dowbrigade is so worried about inadvertent
touching that he teaches with his hands in his pockets, which makes blackboard
notation difficult and has convinced his students he is some sort of
pervert, negating the whole point of the maneuver.


"There is a culture now where students know how to get rid of a
teacher, they know how to get a teacher removed from a classroom," said
Greg Lawler, general counsel for the Colorado Education Association.

Mayfield was warned about the troubled boy, Abdul Nahibkhil, at the
start of the school year by a colleague who said the boy disrupted
her class the year before. Abdul’s parents, Abdul and Shina Nahibkhil,
had come to the United States from India about 27 months earlier.
The parents, who speak no English, were interviewed with their daughter
Jasmine, 20, serving as interpreter.

"When the investigators came, my parents told them that in India,
teachers hit students all the time and they didn’t care if Mr. Mayfield
Abdul or not," the daughter said. "They said if he hit
him, he deserved it. But it didn’t matter. They didn’t care if he
hit him
or not. They wanted the matter dropped, and they said that they would
make Abdul go to school and apologize to Mr. Mayfield."

When [his wife] got his final phone call at 8:01 a.m., he did not
tell her that was where he had gone. In the minutes after he dropped
the river, his cellphone, abandoned on the sidewalk, rang again and
again without answer.

from the Boston Globe