Full Text of Prof. Robert Cargill’s 2014 University of Iowa Graduation Speech (AKA “The Hashtag Speech”)

The following is the full text of my 2014 Commencement speech to the graduates of the University of Iowa (Twitter: @uiowa) College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Twitter: @UIowaCLAS) at the 1:00pm ceremony on May 17, 2014 in Carver Hawkeye Arena.

Here is just my speech:

Here is the full commencement ceremony:

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Vice President Rocklin,

Dean Djalali,

Members of the Platform Party,

All 10,000 Statues of Herky scattered throughout Iowa City

Families, Friends, Alumni,

and most importantly,

graduates of the University of Iowa Class of 2014.

I am honored to have been invited to give the faculty address, but I only have a few minutes to speak. And since most faculty speeches say the same thing, that is, “Congratulations”, “We’re proud of you”, “Good luck”, etc., I thought I’d use my time instead to give you something a bit more memorable.

Not only is this graduation ceremony being streamed live, but because my speech has to be so short, and because I’m also a professor working in the digital humanities, I’m going to be live tweeting my speech as I speak.

And I’ll be using the hashtag #UIGrad2014.

And I’m going to start with some pictures, but I need your help. I need you to take some pictures with me. And then you can tweet your photos using the hashtag #UIGrad2014 while the other students’ names are being read.

And you can re-tweet this speech and my photos available at my Twitter account: Robert Cargill, which is @XKV8R, that’s at X-K-V-8-R, as well.

So listen to the speeches, and then re-tweet during the reading of the names. Got It?

OK. Let’s start out with the ultimate “Class of 2014” graduation picture. Parents and friends up in the stands, you can play along too. We’ll all take pictures together.

Ready? What’s that? No, I will not take a picture with your camera.

OK, ready? Please, please…do not flash the graduation speaker.

OK, ready? One, two, three.

#UIGrad2014

OK. Now here’s a picture you can’t get. Here’s a picture of the platform party.

#UIGrad2014Platform Party #NotAnACTUALParty

OK, and now for the speech.

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Greetings University of Iowa “Class of 2014”. # Greatest Iowa Graduating Class EVER!

Congratulations! You guys did it! # Some Of You After 5 Years

Soon, you will be University of Iowa graduates and will either enter the workforce, or graduate school. # Either Way You Will Be Underpaid

And what’s even better, you will soon be receiving phone calls from the Alumni Association. # Send Money

Your time at the University of Iowa has been and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest periods of your life

when life was fun! # In Relatively Good Shape # Relatively Thin # Weren’t Bald

[Takes off cap and bows.]

I speak from experience.

In fact, you will soon catch yourselves saying thing like,

“College life was so good“.

“Iowa was awesome.” # Often While Sitting At Your Desk At Work # Or Changing Diapers # Of Twins (True story!)

But I want to give you a quick heads up about what to expect from this day forward.

Because you will also remember your time at the University of Iowa as one of the most transformative periods in your life.

And you will quickly learn that these changes do not stop once you graduate. They actually come faster. # And Become More Expensive

Just ask the people sitting up here.

But your personal transformation as a Hawkeye doesn’t end today.

In fact, in many ways, life as a Hawkeye really begins today.

And for some of you, that life will be spectacular.

You will have tremendous success, you will be happy, and will make lots of money. # The Alumni Association will Definitely Be Calling You.

And be proud! The University of Iowa has prepared you for that success.

But for some of you, life will be very difficult. You will face challenges.

You will lose jobs. Relationships will be strained. Money will be tight.

But believe it or not, the University of Iowa has prepared you for this as well.

Because we the faculty, and your college experience at Iowa didn’t just teach you about math and science,

and most importantly, classics and archaeology # Shameless Plug

But your University of Iowa college experience has prepared you to think on your feet, embrace life,

and yes, deal with disappointments, and deadlines, and challenges.

And this is when you must,  you must, learn to rely on each other, your University of Iowa network

because from this day on, you are all Hawkeye Alumni. AND HAWKEYES ALWAYS, ALWAYS STICK TOGETHER! # And Are Very Nice About It

And part of being a member of the University of Iowa family means looking out for one another and helping each other out wherever life takes you.

Because you will meet Iowa alumni everywhere you go.

I remember the day I was hired to teach here at Iowa.

I was still living in California, and I had bought a University of Iowa sweatshirt when I had interviewed here for the job.

So the day I was hired, I put on my sweatshirt, and, I kid you not, I went hiking out in Yosemite National Park, at 7000 feet,

and was proudly wearing my new Iowa sweatshirt, when some random hiker passes me and yells, “GO HAWKS!”

And I didn’t KNOW the proper response yet! I had just been hired and I didn’t KNOW to say, “GO HAWKS”, back in response, or “ON IOWA”!

So…I hesitated, and was caught off guard and said something like, “Uh…Soarin’ High”.

I didn’t know whether I was supposed to screech like a hawk # Makes Poorly Executed Sound of Hawk

I had no clue! I didn’t know what to say, # Not What A Hawk Actually Sounds Like

but I’ll be damned if there wasn’t an Iowa Hawkeye alum hiking at 7000 feet in the middle of Yosemite National Park screaming “GO HAWKS!”

By the way, # Cargill Did NOT Just Tell Iowa Graduating Class Of 2014 To “SOAR HIGH”. I just want to get that cleared up.

But now I know what it means to be a Hawkeye.

And I also know that your degree from the University of Iowa will prove to be one of the best investments you will have ever made.

In fact, you will never spend money that pays off as much as the money you spent going to the University of Iowa.

Actually, let me say that again: For some, YOUR PARENTS will never spend money that pays off as much,

as the money THEY spent putting YOU through the University of Iowa. # Some For five Years

So be proud! You ARE the University of Iowa.

And if you can handle six-month winters covered in snow, # The Planet Hoth, then you can handle anything!

So take it from a highly educated man wearing a beret and a blue dress. # Fashion PhDiva

Do me three favors today:

First, say thank you to your parents or grandparents or whomever put your through college.

In fact, give them a hand right now. # See Mom, I Love You. Please Send More Money

Second, find a faculty member after the ceremony and say, “Thank you.” Maybe send them an email. # Or Endow Their Chair

And finally, find a student you don’t know, or never really talked to, and say, “Hi”, and give them a hug. # Guys, This Is Your Last Chance. # I’m Trying To Help.

Because you never know when that fellow Hawkeye graduate is going to bail you out. # Of Prison

So…graduates of the University of Iowa Class of 2014,

on behalf of the faculty of the University of Iowa, # Professional Nerds, CONGRATULATIONS on your graduation!

We are very proud of your accomplishment,

because not long ago, we too were graduating just like you. # Except We Are Not Moving Back Into Your Parents’ Basement For The Summer

And you are always welcome to come back to campus and visit us. # Preferably Sometime BEFORE You Ask Us For A Letter Of Recommendation

To Leah DeGrazia and Andrew Deloucas, and to all my students graduating today, I love you. Congratulations and good luck!

Thank you all again. Be safe and have fun tonight! #GO HAWKS

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Some other pictures I took from the platform:

Tassel turning ceremony

Pic with University of Iowa Board of Regents student representative Hannah Walsh

And a member of the audience captured the second half of the speech. Thank you!

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For more images and tweets from the 2014 University of Iowa commencement ceremony, visit the hashtags #UIGrad2014 and #UIGrad14.

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I also want to acknowledge my inspiration behind this speech by thanking Ellen DeGeneres for her Oscar antics that inspired the Twitter pics of the graduates, to Stephen Colbert‘s “The Wørd” segments and Kevin Nealon‘s SNL “Mr. Subliminal” sketches for inspiring the idea behind the hashtag punchlines, and to Conan O’Brien for making graduation speeches fun. And many thanks to Cale Staley for his work behind the scenes. Thanks to all of you!

 

 

dear occupy people, you are now officially off message

The Occupy movement appears to have lost its way.

What began as a protest against Wall Street – the symbol of corporate corruption, greed, irresponsible risk, the exploitation of consumers, and a culture of entitlement resulting in a lack of appreciation for taxpayer-funded bailouts from a government paid for by the very corporations they assist – that protest has turned into a free-for-all.

Even Librarians are angry. That's a bad sign. (Actually, it's a good one.)

Today, rather than sticking to the original core message of rooting out corruption and advocating for corporate (and thereby government) reform, the leaderless OWS movement has devolved into a random mass of hostility and anger. And while hostility and anger are and should be the reaction to the corporate-government two-step of corruption and irresponsibility that has become American capitalism, some OWS protesters, perhaps due to the lack of leadership, a loss of focus, or the simple thrill of being a part of a protest, have quickly crept away from the core message and are now demanding things that make the entire movement look foolish and, well, utterly dismissible.

The Occupy movement has attracted many college students who want to voice their outrage and offer their support to the cause. And while I applaud those with every advantage who stand up for the disadvantaged, it seems that the Occupy movement has unfortunately deteriorated into an inarticulate smörgåsbord of, dare I say, greedy demands from otherwise entitled individuals who want their college tuition paid (without having to serve in the military or Peace Corps in exchange), or see this as an opportunity to demand that their maxed out credit cards be paid off.

Today, many Occupy protesters are arguably spoiled college students with clothes on their backs and bills they don’t want to pay. Somehow they think that by camping out in their own personal Woodstock in between runs to the local indie coffee shop (because Starbucks is corporate), they’re going to accomplish something beyond making themselves look like lazy freeloaders Tweeting in the park while others are out applying for their jobs. And rather than do as many of us have done and go to Junior College, take our pre-reqs, then transfer to a state college, working an entry-level job to make ends meet, they sit and demand free college education at the college of their choosing.

Rather than enlisting in the army and defend this country, or enlisting in the Peace Corps and directly serving an underdeveloped nation where the REAL 99% live, they’d rather demand that someone else do it (as if corporations are ever going to really give a crap about dealing with poverty). Rather than using their hands and feet for physical work and volunteering with worthwhile projects to make the world a better place, many would rather sit on their asses all day and complain about how no one handed them a six-figure salary right out of college. I’d be curious to know how many of those participating in the Occupy protests have ever spent as much time, energy, and Facebook status updates volunteering with a non-profit organization or advocating against something other than a bank to whom they owe money.

Rather than stick to the core message so well articulated in the cartoon to the right, this leaderless revolution has sprawled into lists of ridiculous demands to such an extent that now Stephen Colbert (a supporter of the original movement) is even poking fun at it. The movement seems to be spinning out of control and becoming the second chance for hippie high school seniors and college freshmen like the “elected spokespeople,” Justin Wedes and “Ketchup,” who appear to be bent on making up for the fact they weren’t elected Student Body President. Or to put it as my wife put it, the current wave of OWS protesters:

…are identifying themselves as the “99%”, but are not demanding that the “1%” end world hunger. They are asking for their college tuition to be paid. They are asking for their credit card debt to be forgiven. They are asking for privileges that only the world’s wealthiest 1% enjoy, and they want it for free.

By making demands of “free college education” (elite schools of course, not state schools), “open borders migration (anyone can travel anywhere to work and live),” and “Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all (Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books”),” the OWS movement leaves itself open to ridicule and charges of naïveté, disorganization, idealism lacking practicality, and insensitivity to those who are truly suffering around the world.

The Occupy movement needs a coordinated plan of action and a leader. And before you respond with the typical, “That’s not how this protest works,” let’s take a lesson from the Tea Party. At the other end of the political spectrum, I recall the early, leaderless days of the Tea Party movement. I remember how they held up the example of the starfish – a headless organism that was comprised only of “action arms” – as its model of organizational leadership. I remember NPR’s Steve Inskeep commenting that it was appropriate, as it had neither a brain nor a backbone. Then, I remember the Tea Party getting organized, crafting a message, and ultimately taking the House of Representatives.

Ironically, in spite of its questionable ideology, what the Tea Party wanted most is what the Occupy movement wants most: government-corporate reform. I commented earlier that the first one to see past the oceans of ideological diversity on these polar opposite ends and unify both groups behind the singular message of government/corporate reform wins, and would become the leader of the single greatest revolution in this country since, well, The Revolution.

There should absolutely be reforms. We should let failing businesses fail in a capitalist system; that’s how it works. Banks that took exploitative risks should not (have) be(en) bailed out. And yes, corporations should pay taxes sans loopholes. And no, corporations are not going to do less business if they have to pay more tax. That argument is laughable, albeit threatening. Corporations will expand business and work even harder to make up the difference, because that’s what they do – make money. There should be more corporate responsibility. Corporations that received bailout funds should have imposed upon them salary caps and bonus limits just like in the NFL. And we should demand this and not settle for anything less. Alas, this was the entire point of the initial Occupy Wall Street movement!

But the movement has gotten WAY off message. And now that some of the protests are turning violent, the public is losing its stomach and patience for the cause. And the more ridiculous, off-topic demands that are stacked up and demanded by students who should otherwise be studying for their macroeconomics final, the less the public cares about and supports the cause.

It’s time to get back on message: government and corporate reform. When you have marched as much as Dr. West has marched, and served as much as Mother Theresa has served, and advocated for as many causes as U2 has advocated, then and only then can an upstart movement demand more than one thing at once. Until then, keep it focused and keep it simple.


If you’re looking for activities that are consistent with your core message that will actually get the banks’ attention, try “Bank Transfer Day,” or as I call it, Occupy a Different Bank. I ditched Bank of America three months ago and transferred all accounts (mostly loans) to a local credit union. Pull your money out of their vaults, and you’ll get the reform you’re seeking.

colbert: jesus was a liberal democrat (satire, kinda)

Steven Colbert (and his writers) are genius. You must watch this video: Jesus was a Liberal Democrat.

 

Jesus was a Liberal Democrat

Jesus was a Liberal Democrat

what kind of facebooker are you? or, how (and how not) to facebook

The Facebook page of Dr. Robert R. Cargill

The Facebook page of Dr. Robert R. Cargill

what kind of facebooker are you? how do you use facebook? what kind of facebooker annoys you the most? these are the questions addressed by a new cnn article by brandon griggs entitled, ‘the 12 most annoying types of facebookers.’

i’ve been on facebook since early in 2005, when a couple of my pepperdine students, amy rogg and austin maness, turned me on to the social networking service. from the very beginning, i used facebook to reach out to students and to learn their names and faces. as an instructional tool, i felt it allowed me to reach students where they are and on their terms. i would create a facebook group for each course i taught, and would ask them to join it. i left hints about when a pop quiz ‘might’ take place or what ‘might’ be on the exam as an incentive to join the group. they found that they could ask me questions about the course materials and message one another. some used the facebook group to organize study groups. at the end of the first week, i knew all of their names, and they all knew each other. of course, at times, i learned a bit too much about them (like how hung over they were or who made out with whom), but it was a way to get the class to engage a required course they might otherwise not enjoy.

according to griggs, the types of facebookers are as follows:

  1. the let-me-tell-you-every-detail-of-my-day bore
  2. the self-promoter
  3. the friend-padder
  4. the town crier
  5. the tmi-er
  6. the bad grammarian
  7. the sympathy-baiter
  8. the lurker
  9. the crank
  10. the paparazzo
  11. the maddening obscurist
  12. the chronic inviter
Dr. Robert Cargill's office workstation at UCLA's Center for Digital Humanities

Dr. Robert Cargill's office workstation at UCLA's Center for Digital Humanities

i’d like to offer a bit of commentary on each of the 12 types of facebookers:

what i am:

#2 – ‘the self-promoter’ – as one who uses my blog to write more developed thoughts on the issues of the day, and who then cross-links my blog with twitterfeed to update my twitter, which in turn is linked to update my facebook automatically, all of which is meta tagged to maximize google alerts and placement in search rankings, i must concede that i am a ‘self-promoter.’ (the fact that my facebook feeds this very article is evidence of this designation.)

#3 – ‘the friend-padder’ – as an early adopter who encouraged students from pepperdine, azusa pacific, portland state, and ucla to join the facebook groups i created for each of my classes, and as one who uses facebook as an alumni tool for friends from madera and bullard high school, fresno city collegefresno state, pepperdine, and ucla, i somehow have amassed well over 1000 facebook friends. with the addition of my asor, sbl, and professional colleagues that use facebook, coupled with the folks that add me because they saw me on history or discovery channel, i fit the definition of a ‘friend-padder.’

#4 – ‘the town crier’ – as one who posts just about every story i find interesting or funny on fb, i am definitely a version of a ‘town crier.’ i like to give my friends something fun or interesting to read or watch on my page, and i love the random banter and feedback each of the stories generate. but i don’t report everything, especially celebrity gossip. (i leave that to tmzperez, and philip defranco.) i report on politics, religion, and absurdities. pick something you know about and become the go-to place for info on those topics.

#11 – ‘the maddening obscurist’ – i admit it: i do this. that is because i find communication to an individual through communication to the general public a fascinating literary phenomenon. it’s like a double entendre (of which i am also a fan), but without the sex (of which i… never mind). if done properly, maddening obscurity is literally saying two things at once. i prefer to call it ‘intentional ambiguity.’ disney does it all the time; they write jokes that kids get on one level, but that mean something entirely different to the parents watching at the same time. just about every status update i leave has two intended audiences and two intended interpretations, because why waste words? (especially in a twitter environment where one only gets 140 characters!) say two things at once! tell the public one thing while you tell that certain someone exactly how you feel (because you know she’s watching ;-). but avoid the obvious; don’t post something like, ‘a certain someone needs to back off,’ because that’s transparent and petty. instead, post a status that reads more like, ‘time to make like a shepherd and get the flock out of here.’ is it about me, or about him? answer: it’s intentionally ambiguous, preserving plausible deniability (but trust me, he knows).

what i am not:

#1 – ‘the let-me-tell-you-every-detail-of-my-day bore’ – this is essentially twitter, and twitter is facebook without the functionality. to be quite honest, i don’t really care what you’re doing at this very moment unless it is clever, hilarious, or monumental. i don’t care that you’re sitting in your office. i don’t care what you had for lunch. i don’t care that you’re ‘working on my latest book.’ (finishing it would impress me more.) i want something that makes me think, makes me laugh, or compels me to comment. make me respond, ‘well played,’ or, ‘touché.’ in turn, i’ll spare you the lesser details of my life.

#5 – ‘the tmi-er’ – on the heels of #1, i don’t want graphic details of your emotional state or what came out in your turds (unless it is monumental, in which case, see my comments on #1). just as i don’t want you to bore me with mindless blather, neither do i want to hear the excruciating details of your day. i can’t even make it through those sappy inspirational emails that get sent around as spam. (sorry mom!) tmi-ers are essentially spammers on facebook, and they should go the way of all flesh immediately.

#6 – ‘the bad grammarian’ – i am not a poor grammarian, as i prefer to portray a sense of intentionally exaggerated erudition when i write. however, i usually forgive spelling mistakes in rapid-fire exchanges, comments on facebook, or obvious spelling errors. what i do reserve the right to tease about are the misuses of idioms, grammar, and errors with homonyms, all of which betray a sense of ignorance and a lack of education that does not convey a sense of credibility when arguing a position on facebook. nothing is more embarrassing than arguing to me how government-run health care is a ‘nazzi’ initiative. check your spelling before you hit ‘share.’ it is better to spell properly and have people think you’re an idiot than to misspell and remove all doubt.

what i hate:

#7 – ‘the sympathy baiter’ – no, no, no! just stop it! i do not come to facebook to be a counselor and i am not a mercy magnet. i certainly do not want my facebook experience to become a chore. this should be a fun place, so please do not play the ‘woe-is-me’ card. if you do, be prepared for silence. if you want to reach out for real sympathy, do so with a private message.

#8 – ‘the lurker’ – voyeurs, peeping toms, and unwanted stalkers are the reason god created friends lists and privacy restrictions (well, mark zuckerberg at least). granted, there will always be folks looking at your page that you don’t necessarily want looking (especially when you don’t want to hurt their feelings by un-friending or blocking them). but, facebook will never offer stats on who’s watching whom, because that would creep everyone out and everyone would stop using facebook. (if sally knew that tommy was checking out all 700 of her photos, either sally would be creeped or tommy would be embarrassed, and either one or both would leave. facebook doesn’t want that, so don’t expect stats like you have on your blog ever!) don’t be creepy and don’t obsess. there are plenty of other boys and girls just as narcissistic self-obsessed as the one you’re stalking for you to visit hourly.

#8a – ‘the inappropriate poster’ – here is a bonus category not found on the cnn article. beyond the lurkers are the ‘inappropriate posters,’ who write posts on your wall that you find yourself deleting immediately afterward. some people are just vulgar or rude. but other ‘inappropriate posters’ do far worse in a seemingly innocent way. ‘inappropriate posters’ are the reason you use facebook mobile: so you can delete the post from that girl you hooked up with that one night before that other girl you’re interested in reads it. in fact, ‘inappropriate posters’ are the reason you can now turn off your facebook wall.

#9 – ‘the crank’ – i don’t like being around cranky people in real life. why would i want to be anywhere near them online? unless you are being hyperbolic, or using crankiness to make a ranting point (which had better be clever or hilarious like lewis black), don’t be cranky. like desperation, people can smell crankiness a mile away, and folks tend to avoid it.

#10 – ‘the paprazzo’ – this is a fundamental no-no. one must *think* before one posts a photo (especially if one tags it, making it visible on the tagged person’s wall). never post illegal activity. never post pix of you kissing anybody(!) unless you are married and never getting divorced. for one, next week when she dumps you, all of the girls who may have been potentially interested in you will have that kiss image in their minds and will despise you. likewise, don’t rub it in. so your boyfriend is hott. ladies, nothing makes other girls hate you more than when you paper your walls with pictures of you kissing biff hunko. save the dda (digital displays of affection) for another day. besides, if you two could *really* make a hott and sexy photo, it should be too hott for facebook, right? there is nothing more provocative than an album full of photos where two cute folks that are just smiling and looking at the camera as if to say, ‘these are the only pictures we can put online ;-). you go ahead and post your little online kissy-face pictures. our relationship is so hott, it’s ‘offline hott.’ so all you get to see are these teasers of us smirking in front of the beach where we later… [brown chicken brown cow].’

#10a – ‘the picture commenter’ – this is another bonus category. please, for the love of all that is holy and digital, don’t comment on the lovey-dovey photos of folks that aren’t you unless you are saying something to the effect of ‘omg u2 r sooo cute!!’ commenting anything other than something positive on another’s photo of affection is nothing more than pissing on a wall to mark your territory. don’t do it – you look pathetic and desperate, and reveal to others how pathetic and desperate you really are. if you really want to make a point, post a picture of you kissing his boyfriend. don’t comment on their picture unless you have something nice to say.

#12 – ‘the chronic inviter’ – this particular facebooker is so annoying, i have a disclaimer on my facebook page that says i never add group invitations, new apps, or events, just so i can point to it when they write me to complain and ask why i didn’t join. i will add just about anyone (even if they do go straight into my limited  ‘acquaintances’ list that can only read my notes, my wall, and see a few pix of me doing benign things), but just because i don’t join your ‘dog rescue’ advocacy group doesn’t mean that i eat puppies for dinner. i don’t add things that take up space on my already overly-full profile. invite people as friends. if they don’t add you, wait a few months. if they reject you again, stop pestering them. if you use facebook to sell things, raise money from strangers, or ask people to join some group because you believe if 100,000 people join, some nun in india will give free computers to children with no electricity, you are delusional and warrant an immediate, naturally-selective extinction.

be smart:

remember, be a smart facebooker. be clever. be entertaining. i appreciate good humor, sincere praise, a well-argued point (even if i disagree), along with both hyperbole and satire (like stephen colbert‘s ‘the word’ or jim west). i’m not a fan of cynicism. (most cynical people don’t realize it’s a literary genre, they’re just nagging.) i do not like partisanship, intolerant hate speech, or anonymous critics; they are a bunch of cowards who sometimes end up under arrest. show me something i haven’t seen before like artsy pong you can play with your cell phone, or the most recent offering from fail blog, or anything by marina orlova (that’s right, the ‘hot for words‘ girl), or something really rare, like something culturally profound out of fresno. (it’s my hometown, so i can tease.) learn to be a good facebooker and you’ll enjoy the experience more than ever before. and who knows, if you’re clever and funny enough, maybe she’ll finally agree to go out with you.

robert cargill

Smart Power = Stephen Colbert

Smart Power (Stephen Colbert)

Smart Power = Stephen Colbert

here’s something i put together after hearing sen. clinton talk about ‘smart power’ at her senate confirmation hearings. i’ll be back with something clever to say to go with the pic shortly. -bc

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