Bishop to Boycott Obama Commencement Speech
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How The Press Can Remain Relevant
Be Afraid, Cheney Warns. Be Very Afraid.
Obama: You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry...
Obama to GOP: 'I Won, I'm The President'
The Internet has been buzzing lately all about parties happening on Tax Day. Tea Parties, to be exact.
I never got an invitation, but I'm more of a coffee drinker. It'd be a bit of a pain to purchase tea bags just to dump them in a body of water.
Like the great pre-Revolutionary War colonists who came before them, American taxpayers are up in arms and want to protest "higher taxes and out-of-control government spending," according to a column in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday. It's hard to tell who exactly started this movement, but the columnist asserted that this is not the work of a "right-wing conspiracy," but rather, average Americans who are using the expanding power of the Internet to organize an imitation of an event that took place in 1773.
According to the Wall Street Journal column, the protests began in mid-February with bloggers in Seattle, Wash., then grew when CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered his now famous rant against President Obama's policies, advocating that people organize a tea party in Chicago on July 4.
From that rant, a movement was born. Now these flash mob protests are apparently planned across the country on Tax Day. The Tea Party movement is one of the top trending topics on Twitter, and on Facebook a group called Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party has more than 35,000 members.
I'm always up for a party. And those are big numbers. I'd love to fly home to watch protesters dump a million tea bags in Lafayette Square in Washington D.C, as the protest organizers say they will, according to a Washington Post story.
Imagine if we took that tea and, provided it was caffeinated, gave it to American workers. Think of the productivity we'd see on Tax Day!
Brown University's faculty voted last week to rename Columbus Day "Fall Weekend" on the University's calendar, a move that apparently was in step with the wishes of students according to a poll by the college newspaper The Brown Daily Herald. The poll revealed a majority of students disapproved of continuing to call the holiday Columbus Day.
The decision came after weeks of pressure from student groups proposing change.
American University's Undergraduate Senate passed a similar resolution a few years ago declaring the holiday "Indigenous People's Day" instead.
Columbus Day is named of course after Christopher Columbus, the man incorrectly attributed with discovering North America. As we know today, Columbus was tied to the enslavement and abuse of native inhabitants of the West Indies. Columbus Day has been celebrated since 1971.
"The General Services Administration will spend $285 million of Recovery Act Funds to purchase about 17,600 commercially available fuel efficient vehicles for the government fleet before June 1, 2009," the press release states. "All purchases will be made from manufacturers with an existing contract with the GSA, which are General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. This includes the purchase of 2,500 hybrid sedans that will be ordered by April 15. This is the largest one-time purchase of hybrid vehicles for the federal government fleet in history."
Chrysler and GM had already been collectively granted $17.4 billion worth of Troubled Asset Relief Program loans in December, with the obligation to present the Obama Administration with restructuring plans to avoid bankruptcy by March 31. Having missed the deadline, they were granted another 30 and 60 days, respectively.
President Barack Obama got his 3 a.m. phone call, albeit at 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning in Prague, Czech Republic, when North Korea launched a long-range rocket. That's a sudden way to remind someone that being president isn't all about the economy.
Last year, when Obama and Clinton were still vying for the Democratic nomination, Clinton put out an ad saying she was the best one to answer the theoretical 3 a.m. phone call because she had the experience. Obama replied to her political advertisement with a nearly identical one that said he should answer the theoretical 3 a.m. phone call because he had better judgment.
The scenario became reality Sunday when North Korea launched the rocket they'd been threatening to launch for several weeks. The North Korean government said they had conducted a successful, peaceful launch of a satellite into orbit, CNN reported. But the United States and South Korea characterized the launch as a "provocative act" and said the rocket's payload failed to enter orbit, instead falling into the Pacific Ocean near Japan.
CNN quoted a State Department spokesman as saying the launch was in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea's weapons program, which prohibits the country from conducting ballistic missile-related activities.
Tonight I happened to attend a dinner with a professor from the University of Iowa. He told me that when he heard about the decision on CNN, he was more surprised that his state was making national news than to hear that gay marriages would soon be legalized.
A lot of people, he said, misjudge Iowa. So it's not a rural state with a lot of corn, wondered one of my dinner mates. Yes, it is, he said. But it's also the state that helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency. In January 2008, Obama won Iowa's Democratic caucus, and many political commentators saw his win in Iowa as a sign he could win the country. Obama won the state of Iowa 10 months later in the general election.
In this context, it's not as surprising that this state smack dab in the middle of the Midwest will become only the third state in the country, following Massachusetts and Connecticut, to permit gay marriage. (Of course, California's decision to allow gay marriage was overturned in November.) The full text of the Supreme Court's decision can be read here.
Lambda Legal, an organization that works to gain civil rights for lesbians, gay men and people with HIV/AIDS, filed a lawsuit in 2005 with Iowa's Polk County Court on behalf of six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa, with the argument that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates liberty and equality guarantees in the state's constitution.
So on April Fools' Day, they issued a press release -- accompanied by a mysteriously well-designed homepage -- that boasted the creation of something called the "Accelerator," some kind of super-communications thingy that threatens to make the Internet obsolete in a year. It uses nanotechnology, it displays holographs, it has voice recognition in every language, and it has a plutonium battery. All this (and so much more) is detailed on Tribune's release and website, which looks like it took hours, and maybe days, to perfect.
When crafting this prank, Tribune's idea men -- Sam Zell, Lee Abrams and Randy Michaels -- must have put a lot of effort into it, maybe even working overtime. Michaels, the chief operating officer, says in the fake news release that the Accelerator team "put in long hours, many of them sober. And this marvelous device is the result -- The Accelerator(TM) will mean billions in revenue, and the end of the extremely competitive advertising environment in which we've been operating."
Nobody laughed very hard upon reading this. And given Abrams's propensity for writing "think pieces" full of misspellings, ALL-CAPS DECLARATIONS and stream-of-consciousness ideas from a dream-like state, it's no surprise that the Tribune team made its highest priority for April 1 wiping out its Tribune.com website to promote a product that isn't real. (Abrams's style is not representative of the papers his company owns; in addition to not proofreading, he also doesn't check facts, which is evident in this January blast about a quote from Mariah Carey that she never said.)
The White House and Notre Dame announced last Friday that President Barack Obama would be the main speaker at the May 17 Commencement ceremony and would be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree, a decision that has caused controversy among many in the Catholic community.
Though many students and alums of the University are pleased to have the president speak at Commencement, those opposed to the decision have been far more vocal, as students, alumni and people not affiliated with Notre Dame voiced their protestations loudly throughout the Internet and in Notre Dame's student newspaper.
Fr. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, gave an interview to The Observer, the student newspaper, Sunday in which he responded to the criticism and said he did not "foresee" circumstances in which Notre Dame would rescind the invitation to the president. (Full disclosure: I work for The Observer.)
"We have invited the president and he's honored us by accepting," he told The Observer.
There's been an uproar about the decision, judging by letters to the editor, blog posts and petitions, due to Obama's pro-abortion stances. Jenkins defended his choice, saying the invitation to Obama does not signify an endorsement.
"The invitation of President Obama to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research," Jenkins told The Observer.
The protestations against the choice of Obama have been very loud, especially in the opinion section of The Observer, but it should be noted that in a mock election held by Notre Dame's student government last October, Obama won 52.6 percent of the vote compared to McCain's 41.1 percent.
Not everyone is protesting Obama coming to campus; many are thrilled. A Facebook group titled "We Will Be Honored To Have President Obama at Notre Dame" has 1,389 members. Several Facebook groups, however, have been created to protest Obama as Commencement speaker.
All I wanted was a nice, quiet, peaceful graduation day, a time to celebrate with my family and friends, without posters of aborted fetuses. Such a simple request. But it won't be so.
Already, pro-life activists are making plans to come to South Bend to protest.
Sallie Mae, the nation's largest private student lender, is replacing its signature loan with a shorter-term version that requires students to make interest payments while still being in school.
Sallie Mae's chief lending officer Jack Hewes claims the upside is that the cost of a private student loan will be cut by about 40 percent. Repayment terms are also cut from 15 to 30 years to now five to 15 years.
Another upside, is that despite being on a shorter term, the monthly bills upon graduation wouldn't rise dramatically because the interest payments students will make while in school would avoid negative amortization - or the loan balance growing because of deferred interest.
In 2006 - 2007, around 60 percent of bachelor's degree recipients borrowed to fund their education. The average debt per borrower rose 18 percent from $19,300 to $22,700 in 2007 and average debt per bachelor's degree recipient increased from $10,600 to $12,400.
The American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., reported that 75 percent of Americans call themselves Christians, down from 86 percent in 1990.
I don't think it's time to panic yet that Americans are losing God, or at least the Christian God. If this economic downturn keeps up, I think a lot more Americans will find Him. Or go to church to find Him.
The survey, conducted between February and November of 2008, found that the percentage of Americans claiming no religion jumped to 15 percent from 2001, when it was 14.2 percent. (The percentage of Americans who claimed no religion was 8.2 percent in 1990.)
According to the survey's press release, the jump in the percentage from 2001 to 2008, give the estimated growth of the American population from 207 million to 228 million, reflects an additional 4.7 million claiming no religion. The survey reported that Northern New England has surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country, with Vermont, at 34 percent claiming no religion, leading all other states by nine points.
In a meeting with California College Republicans, Fiorina acknowledged that she is "considering a run for Barbara Boxer's seat" in the U.S. Senate. The room of young Republicans erupted with applause at the mention of Boxer's name. The Senate Democrat is a staunch liberal and the subject of much ire in conservative circles.
For all the Bush bashers out there who say George W. was the worst president America has ever had, hold up. C-SPAN has a rebuttal.
C-SPAN, the cable television network devoted to televising government proceedings, released its Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership a few days ago in honor of Presidents' Day.
According to the votes of 65 presidential historians, George W. Bush was the country's 36th best president. That would make him, with 42 presidents total in U.S. history, the 7th worst president.
So don't call him the worst, at least for now. Unless you are willing to tango with 65 historians who together say otherwise.
Bob Woodward,one of the journalists who covered the Nixon Watergate scandal for The Washington Post, once asked Bush how history would judge the Iraq War. "History," Bush responded. "We don't know. We'll all be dead."
He'd probably be surprised to see this survey. (By the way, Nixon was ranked 27th overall).
After the jump, let's take a look at the rest of the list.
According to Mashable, a Web 2.0 media blog, the social network's primary error introducing the revisions was its tactics, not its specific terms edits. Recalling the site's controversial redesign last year, against which the Facebook community struggled fruitlessly, the site posited that, "Facebook has done a poor job of communicating the changes, leaving Zuckerberg on the defense instead of proactively keeping users informed on potentially controversial moves the company is making." Mashable did add, however, that it was highly unlikely Facebook would have used its questionable "permalicense" condition maliciously.
He even had the similarly titled Stevie Wonder song playing during the segment. It was rather cute.
The problem of course is that Obama's stimulus for the most part won't be "delivered" anytime soon.
Portions of the $787 billion stimulus bill, which the White House estimates will save or create 3.5 million jobs, will take years to effect the U.S. economy.
Sen. John McCain had a few words for his formal rival in response to Obama's temper tantrum the night before: chill out.
Obama ditched his beloved teleprompter at a Democratic pep rally Thursday night In Williamsburg, VA, to instead mock Republicans criticism of the bill as just another spending bill saying, "What do you think a stimulus bill is? That's the whole point. No, seriously, that's the point."
Evidently still a bit high on himself from the big win and inauguration, Obama must have realized that there are really people who don't agree with him on absolutely everything. This whole being-president thing is a bit harder than he must have thought it would be.
McCain, in what was his first jab at Obama since the campaigning, responded sounding extra maverickey.
"The whole point, Mr. President, is to enact tax cuts and spending measures that truly stimulate the economy," McCain said. "There are billions and tens of billions of dollars in this bill which have no effect within three, four, five or more years, or ever. Or ever."
Just when you thought the Bush-era warnings of Armageddon around the corner were over, Cheney strikes again.
The former vice president hasn't been seen in public since Inauguration Day, when he was rolling around in a wheelchair due to an injury sustained lifting boxes. But a few days ago, he gave an interview to Politico, in which he warns there is a "high probability" that terrorists will attack with biological or nuclear weapons in the next few years. He worries that now that his boss is out of office and back in Texas, the Obama administration policies will make the attacks more likely to succeed.
"When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to doing anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry," Cheney said.
I think he's just worried we are not worrying enough now that he's not there to worry us.