September 27, 2007

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones…

By now, I am sure that most of you have heard about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s little visit to Columbia University. This past Monday, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs invited President Ahmadinejad to speak at the World Leaders Forum. This was a gutsy move on Columbia’s part, and many were hesitant to even invite the President, yet what happened during the forum was a sight to see.

Usually when introducing a guest speaker, one does not usually resort to calling them names. Surprisingly, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger took this approach while introducing President Ahmadinejad, setting the maturity precedence for a truly amateurish forum. Sure, President Ahmadinejad has said some truly tactless, insensitive comments, and it had to be tempting for Bollinger to call Ahmadinejad out for his controversial comments on the holocaust, yet by saying what he did, Bollinger ultimately sunk down to Ahmadinejad’s maturity level:

“Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a
petty and cruel dictator, and so I ask you, why have womenmembers of the Bahá' í Faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?"

Come on, Bollinger. Not calling your guest a petty and cruel dictator is something you should have learned in debutant training school. After Bollinger threw out his zinger at Ahmadinejad, the audience began to applaud. I couldn’t help but feel as though I was watching an episode of Maury where some disgruntled housewife called out her unfaithful husband –- and had the paternity test results to back it up. Maturity clearly was not anyone’s prerogative at the forum. On the other hand, though, the forum’s rampant immaturity did bring about something hilarious. In response to Bollinger’s incessant questions relating to Iran’s treatment of homosexuals, President Ahmadinejad’s acidic – if petty and cruel – tongue unleashed one of the finer quotes of 2007:

"In Iran
we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you that we have it."

In the wise words of Kathy Griffin, “Where my gays at?!” It would not surprise me that there aren’t many out homosexuals in Iran because the legal consequences they would face are somewhat daunting. As stipulated by Iranian law, sodomy is a crime and if two consenting adults are caught in the act, they could face death. Consenting adult lesbians caught in the act are subjected to 100 lashings. I suppose it’s no wonder why Ahmadinejad can’t find any homosexuals in Iran.

As ridiculous as Ahmadinejad may be at times, Bollinger’s juvenile tactics were somewhat uncalled for. But then again, Bollinger did get Ahmadinejad to claim that there aren’t any homosexuals in Iran.

Making the blogosphere a little bigger...

I feel like we're in a bubble. A "blogobubble," if you will.

We're never going to accomplish the goal of this blog if we don't communicate with actual people. I mean, writing articles and all is fun, but I feel like we're just writing it for the sake of writing something to turn in. I realize this is a class assignment and we are getting a grade on it, but we need to make sure that this is more fun than anything. And that it actually has a purpose that transcends the requirements for our class.

This week, as I was looking over other blogs, I have noticed that other blogs actually tackle the issues and do it in a matter that is interactive and innovative. We should try to be more like that... Instead of bringing up a whole different topic, write a blog post adding more to someone has already brought up, or disagree with another post and write about that.

Wouldn't it be cool if we turned into a huge political debate that got some actual attention from big wigs? I think that should be our ultimate goal. Let's create enough stir so that people actually come to us, comment on our posts, and use us as a source for their blog posts.

So, let's try and become part of the blogosphere and get out of our blogobubble. Let's get some debate going on! That's what this is for, right?

Anyways, here's a blog for you to look at: Yay for blogs!

How Long Should Troops Stay In Iraq?

The Iraq war is a very divisive political issue. Many credit the war and the Bush administration’s mishandled involvement in the Middle East as the catalyst for Democrats regaining the majority in Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.

In a debate last night in New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential hopefuls were asked about American soldiers in Iraq and none of them would commit to withdrawing all of the troops, even by 2013. I was very surprised by this statement, especially since House Democrats have been pushing legislation with a timeline that would bring troops home before Labor Day 2008. For the presidential candidates to say that America would continue to have an influential presence in Iraq for another six years is conflicting with what the majority of the electorate thinks.

A nationwide CBS News poll conducted on September 14-16 asked participants what the United States should do in Iraq, 29% responded that all troops should be removed immediately and 39% responded that the troop levels should decrease. Clearly the majority of our country would not agree with keeping our soldiers in Iraq for six more years and the Democratic presidential candidates should reexamine their stances.

South Park and Politics

The other day I was watching an old episode of South Park and, surprisingly, began relating it to what we're talking about in class. The episode, entitled "I'm a little bit country," is about the people in South Park protesting the war. The boys all get a class project to find out what the founding fathers would've thought about the war in Iraq. While Kyle struggles to do the work, Cartman 'travels back in time' and is transported to 1776 America. He bumps into the founding fathers debating the constitution and is privy to their debate. While debating the war, all of the things the men are saying sound eerily similar to the same criticisms of the Iraq war. Finally, Ben Franklin comes in and gives a speech in favor of going to war and in favor of dissenting the war. According to Ben Franklin, the trick in America is "saying one thing and doing another."
While this is funny in the context of South Park, this is the exact reason I've grown so sick of politics. It's always the same arguments and everyone making them is a hypocrite. This election is shaping up to be more honest than the last, but as 2008 approaches, my skepticism grows. While the Bush administration is being systematically fired for their lies and deceit, a new group of politicians is preparing to convince the American people that they are somehow better. I hope the creators of South Park aren't right and there is such a thing as an honest politician.
You can watch the episode at:

Clinton changes her position on torture in New Hampshire

After reading several articles on the NH debate, critics and political analysts alike believe Sen. Hillary Clinton
has changed her position on whether or not a presidential exception should be allowed to use torture in order to prevent an imminent terror attack.

At the debate Wednesday night moderator Tim Russert asked Clinton, "This is the number three man in Al Qaeda. We know there's a bomb about to go off, and we have three days, and we know this guy knows where it is. Should there be a presidential exception to allow torture in that kind of situation?"

Clinton responded, "As a matter of policy, it cannot be American policy, period. I met with those same three-and four-star retired generals, and their principal point--in addition to the values that are so important for our country to exhibit-- is that there is very little evidence that it works. Now, there are a lot of other things that we need to be doing that I wish we were: better
intelligence; making, you know, our country better respected around the world; working to have more allies, but these hypotheticals are very dangerous because they open a great big hole in what should be an attitude that our country and our president takes toward the appropriate treatment of everyone."

In an interview last October, however, Clinton's answer was different. Last October when she was asked about a presidential exception by the New York Daily News editorial board she told the paper, "I have said that those are very rare but if they occur, there has to be some lawful authority for pursuing that. And, again, I think the president has to take some responsibility. There has to be some check and balance, some reporting. I don't mind if it is some reporting within a top secret context. But that shouldn't be the tail that wags the dog, that should be the exception to the rule. And that if we deviate in the first instance from very disciplined interrogation methods, that are clearly lined out, and that have validation evaluation that goes forward."

Clinton's camp says the change is not significant. Phil Singer, a spokesman of Clinton's, said, “Upon reflection and after meeting with former generals and others, Sen. Clinton does not believe that we should be making narrow exceptions to this policy based on hypothetical scenarios.” Since the October interview Clinton has talked to interrogators from CIA, FBI, military backgrounds who are all skeptical about using terror, saying the best way to get information is to bribe people. This is undoubtedly the reason why Clinton changed her mind on this issue.

As Newt Gingrich said, it shows great maturity and experience that Clinton has changed her mind. "Flop-flopper" should not be a term with negative connotation. After further research and understanding Clinton now has a more informed and secure position on the issue.

P.S.- The blog site straight2thecandidates that I talked about in my first post will begin running on Monday, October 1, 2007. The creators have notified all the presidential candidates and have sent out numerous press releases. Hopefully they get noticed!

Abortions & Order

In the democratic system the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, chambers: the House of Representatives that has a close relationship with the constituents, and the Senators who are more deliberative. These are their stories. BUM! BUM! Fred Thompson, or District Attorney Arthur Branch, as many people know him as has a very interesting view on abortion. In March he told Fox News Sunday that he “is ‘pro-life’ and that he believes Roe v. Wade was based on ‘bad law and bad medical science.’” I’m sorry, but it seems as though I forgot that a women performing an abortion on herself with a hanger was good medical science.

We all know that conservatives are waiting for the day Roe v. Wade is over turned. Most Republican candidates oppose abortion rights, but Mr. Thompson’s comments are particularly disturbing. Abortions can be done safely and with little risk to women. Countless lives are saved every year because women have this choice. I understand both sides of the issue, but before Mr. Thompson condemns abortion so viscously he should, and this goes for candidates on both side of the aisle, increase services for young mothers including adoptions options, finical support plans, and emotional help. Because right now it is the lack of support and options that make so many women turn to abortion.

When I Grow Up, I'm Going to Be the President of the United States

Today, when I sat down to relentlessly scour through the internet in search of political fuss, I decided to start at the most obvious place – The Washington Post. To my delight, I stumbled upon a handful of interesting clips from several Democratic Presidential Candidate debates (and by “interesting” I mean they were sub par as far as entertainment goes). The clips were, however, very informative, and it is always fascinating to me how candidates interact with each other during a debate. Sometimes, you could cut the tension with a knife. And when they disagree with each other, or discuss the way their plan of action severely deviates from that of the person to their right, I can’t help but laugh. They are forced with the awareness of onlookers to go about doing it ever so politely, almost through gritted teeth.
What I found most interesting about the debates that I watched, and something that I hadn’t noticed before, was each and every candidate’s tendency to discuss their future in the White House as if it was a definite. Using phrases like “when I am in office” and “when I am inaugurated in January of 2009,” they each made it seem as if they had already been elected. At one point in one of the videos, the candidates were discussing their intended approach for exiting Iraq if elected, former Senator John Edwards began to say “if I am elected in 2009” but quickly corrected himself and stated “when” instead. Is this some sort of strategy that I’m missing the point of? One could argue that they’re attempting to exude confidence, but honestly, I think it’s rather distracting when I’m trying to learn about their objectives for my nation’s future. Give the self-assurance a rest and focus on trying to convince me that you deserve my vote.

Gingrich in the Race?

After our discussion last class of Newt Gingrich and the possibility of him running for President in the 2008 Election, I was interested to learn more. Surprisingly, I found a website already in tact dedicated to drafting Gingrich as a political candidate for the 2008 Election. The website is a comprehensive website with lots of information on why Gingrich should run for President, how to raise awareness, become involved, etc. The headline at the top of the home page reads: "Draft Newt '08; The 21st Century Demands a New Contract with America"and latest article on the page is entitled "Newt Gingrich: The only individual worthy of the GOP and America". They've also included the script from Gingrich's appearance on FOX News Sunday and his discussion of what it would take to get him to run in the 2008 Election. E Even more interesting is that they include a way to contribute to the "campaign". Their fundraising campaign is Twelve dollars. Two weeks and 2 million people campaign. Where exactly is the money going? They are "Not affiliated or authorized by any candidate, party or party committee," it states at the bottom of the website. They do not list when it was created either, so I've emailed the creators in an attempt to learn more about it and find out if there has been any response from Newt Gingrich, himself, about the website and campaign draft. Hopefully there will be more to come on this topic.

Living in a failing world...

Currently we are living in a failing world but no one is talking about it, not even the candidates that want to be the next leader of our country.

In the video above Newt Gingrich makes the comparison of FedEx and the government bureaucracy.

In the world that is working we can track a package MOVING in real time but in the world that is failing the government cannot find 7 MILLION people here illegally that ARE NOT moving. See the problem? What do the candidates have to say about that? Nothing! Because they speak on platforms surrounded by people with "likish" minds instead of surrounding themselves with people who will challenge their views and force them to give REAL answers.

I'll leave you with this quote from Newt Gingrich, "So send a package to every person who is here illegally, FedEx & UPS delivers and we track them on the computer..."

It's a man's world?

While reading a post by a fellow blogger, I couldn't help but think of Victoria Woodhull, whom I recently read about in Rodger Streitmatter's Voices of Revolution. Woodhull, who co-published Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly from 1870 to 1876, was a supporter of free love and women's suffrage and was the first woman to run for U.S. president.

When she ran in 1872, women were not legally allowed to vote, let alone run for the presidency. Furthermore, Woodhull was a mere 34 years old, which further disqualified her. The number of votes she received is unknown.

Woodhull's lack of success didn't shock me -- in fact, I was impressed to learn that a woman actually ran for the presidency in 1872. However, while perusing the website of the American Women Presidents (a political action group for female presidential candidates), I found something that did shock me: Nearly 136 years after Woodhull ran, the closest a woman came to the presidency was Shirley Chisholm in 1972. That is to say, the success of female candidates (in elections, that is) peaked about 35 years ago.