Bishop to Boycott Obama Commencement Speech
2009 College Grads: We're the Lucky Ones
Beer in Vending Machines -- What Drinking Age?
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'
On April 9, 2009 - 50 years ago this month - John Glenn was named a member of the Mercury 7, the United States' first astronauts. Glenn grew up in the village of New Concord - a small, college town in southeastern Ohio. He was a member of the village band and eventually a student at Muskingum College.
Since those days, his name has been one that is familiar to most anyone. He was a fighter pilot, a test pilot, one of America's first astronauts, the first man to orbit earth in space, an Ohio senator, a presidential candidate and later the oldest man to fly in space.
"It's hard for me to believe it's been that long," he said. "Part of that is because it seems to vivid to me."
One thing made clear by speaking with Glenn is his keen interest in politics and history. In fact, Glenn, a former Ohio Senator from 1974 to 1999, ran for president in 1984 but was unsuccessful. A close friend of the Kennedy family, Glenn was with Robert Kennedy when President John Kennedy was assassinated in Texas.
Glenn campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 and President Barack Obama in 2008. Glenn has said Obama is "doing an exceptional job" dealing with America's economic crisis.
"I can't speak with any certainty about the economy, because nobody knows what's going to happen, and I think we had to do something because this was the biggest drift down since the Great Depression."
It is improbable that a homely, 47-year-old woman from a small village in Scotland could captivate the world, but somehow that is exactly what has happened this week.
Last Wednesday, a friend sent me a link to a YouTube video showing Susan Boyle, a woman of admittedly plain looks, with short, curly gray hair, a plump figure and bushy eyebrows. Boyle appeared on Britain's Got Talent, a television show similar to American Idol, where the perpetually tan Simon Cowell and another man and woman judge as regular Brits showcase their performance skills.
The video starts with an interview with Susan Boyle, who says she lives alone with her cat Pebbles, and has never been married, or even kissed. When she walks out on stage, you can hear the laughter from the audience, and see the doubt in the faces of the judges. This woman, everyone thought, would just be another dud, someone who thought she sounded good in the shower, but really struggled to carry a tune.
But everyone gets their chance on the show, even though many in the audience were rolling their eyes. The music for "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical Les Miserables began, and the audience went from mockery to amazement as they heard Susan Boyle start singing the very difficult song beautifully. The shock registered on the judges' faces, and the audience stood up to cheer, while Susan Boyle calmly continued singing the song she had come to sing.
The YouTube video has, by Monday afternoon, received more than 33 million views. Boyle is one of the top trending topics on Twitter and has been for days. She has over a million fans on Facebook.
And I, for one, cannot stop thinking about her.
That's essentially what liberal actor Janeane Garofalo said on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night. She was prompted to give a response on the Tea Party protests after Olbermann ranted on about the protesters "seething with hate." This from Olbermann, who essentially built an entire show around an hour-long, hate-filled rant about then president George W. Bush.
Olbermann still rants about Bush in a daily segment each on his show - 100 days after Bush left office, mind you. At what point is he forced to give it up? Still somehow - after Olbermann had finished his numerous immature references to male genitals, which he evidently thought were funny - Garofalo upstaged Olbermann on who could be the nuttiest hypocrite on stage.
"You know there is nothing more interesting than seeing a bunch of racists become confused and angry," she led off with. She went on to describe how none of the protesters could tell what the speakers were saying, or knew history at all.
"Let's be very honest about what this is about: It's not about bashing Democrats, it's not about taxes, they have no idea what the Boston Tea Party was about, they don't know their history at all. This was about hating a black man in the White House," she said pointing her finger. "This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of tea-bagging rednecks and there is no way around that."
She couldn't just leave it at that, no way! She had much more hate left before she would be ready to give up the floor.
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.
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.
FOX News Channel, which has long been the No. 1 cable news operation, extended its lead over CNN and MSNBC in recent months, the New York Times reported. Bill O'Reilly's show, The O'Reilly Factor, reached a milestone in March of 100 consecutive months as the most popular program on cable news.
FOX recently launched a new Web site, The FOX Nation, which the AP described as a "Huffington Post-style" site, a reference to Arianna Huffington's left-leaning blog site.
Though FOX is a leader on television, it falls behind on the Internet, the AP said, with 16 million unique visitors in February compared with MSNBC.com's 41 million viewers and CNN.com's 36 million.
The new Web site features one of the most grandiose introductory letters ever posted on a Web site. The letter lauds America as the "city on a hill," and says FOX Nation is dedicated to the people of America who have made it great.
And I thought FOX Nation was just a way to boost traffic to their online product at a time when the government, particularly Obama and Democrats in Congress, are doing a lot of things to irk conservatives.
Of course, these are hard times, FOX Nation says, but Americans have always risen up to face challenges and will again.
"How, exactly, should we assure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?" the letter says. "How do we perfect our union? How can we make certain that children of all races are fairly judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character?"
I'm going to guess ShamWow will come up with a new pitchman after Vince Shlomi -- the guy made famous with his obnoxious yet amazingly successful commercials pitching the highly absorbent towels -- was arrested for punching a prostitute at a South Beach hotel last month.
According to thesmokinggun.com, Shlomi hired the woman for "straight sex" for a one-time special price of $1,000.
Shlomi met Sasha Harris, according to an arrest affidavit, at a Miami Beach nightclub and subsequently retired with her to his room at the Setai hotel.
Shlomi told cops he paid Harris after she "propositioned him for straight sex." During the the 4 a.m. fight, Harris sustained facial fractures and lacerations all over her face, according to the affidavit.
"I do not know any black or indigenous bankers so I can only say [it is wrong] that this part of mankind which is victimised more than any other should pay for the crisis," he added.
What a fun position Gordon Brown found himself in!
Variety has reported that the casting for the new Three Stooges film, which is to be directed by the Farrelly brothers, is finishing up casting. Sean Penn has been signed on to play Larry, Jim Carrey is in negotiations to play Curly and the brothers are looking to Benicio Del Toro to play Moe.
The movie got off to a rough start when Warner Bros. decided to drop the project, but it was later picked up by MGM. However, it's still unclear how the whole things is going to work.
The Farrelly brothers, known for such hits as There's Something About Mary, have already been quoted as saying that the film will not be a biopic, but will instead take place in the modern day with them still acting, dressing and looking like The Stooges.
"When the economy started turning, we felt like the world could use a Stooges slapfest," Peter Farrelly told Daily Variety. "Bobby and I haven't done a real physical comedy in a while, and it's the most exciting thing we could think of now, to have people go to the movie, see some great slapstick fun family humor."
I'm not going to pretend to be a Stooges aficionado, but now that there are actors attached to the film, it is much easier to see it all coming together. Carrey seems like the perfect fit for the movie since he is best known for his comedic roles (even though he proved his serious acting chops in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Penn, who just won an Academy Award for his role in Milk, and Del Toro seem to be odder fits, but you never know what range these guys will be able to show off if given the chance.
Because of the fact that the Stooges are beloved by so many around the world, this movie has quite the standard to live up to. Hopefully the Farrelly brothers will be able to create a movie that exceeds expectations.
The gossip has seeped so much, in fact, that the academy's headmaster had to send a note to everyone Thursday to quash the "rumors involving 'vampires.' "
This moral panic, the Boston Globe reported, was started when a group of girls teased a "Goth" student for being a "would-be vampire," spreading the rumor that she had sucked someone's neck blood. More childish students freaked out when the police arrived at the school for a completely unrelated incident.
Apparently, teens have been sickly obsessed with vampires since the confusingly popular book/movie "Twilight" began romanticizing the night crawlers months ago. Girls across the country had Twilight sleepovers to celebrate the movie and Robert Pattinson's budding facial hair.
Why now? Vampire literature has stacked libraries for centuries, stemming from Heinrich August Ossenfelder's 1748 erotic poem "The Vampire" and thriving in the latter half of the 20th Century with Anne Rice's popular Vampire Chronicles. Clearly there's a market out there for readers interested in secretive bat-like characters sinking their teeth into the virgin flesh of sleeping women.
(I'm more of a classic movie buff myself, preferring the likes of Teen Wolf to silly unrealistic fantasies. But I digress.)
Just as we thought the fake-literature fad spurred by Harry Potter was finally ebbing, here comes another book about magic, or the undead, or something. Suddenly, thousands of teenage (and college) girls who hadn't had anything to read since the Deathly Hallows were racing to Borders to buy, of all things, a vampire romance story pretending to be a book.
I'm starting to feel like I'm living in an abortion debate-themed production of West Side Story.
Ever since Notre Dame announced that President Barack Obama would deliver the May 17 Commencement address, those against hosting Obama because of his pro-choice beliefs and actions have been rumbling, mostly on the Internet and in print, with those who want him to speak here.
I can almost hear the snapping.
The argument is taking place in the opinion pages of Notre Dame's student newspaper, The Observer. The national media has picked up the story. Catholic and pro-life blogs and Web sites are condemning the University for asking a pro-choice politician to speak at Notre Dame and deciding to give him an honorary doctor of laws degree.
But for all the Obama drama, I've only spoken to a few students who are against him speaking here in May. And back in October, Notre Dame's student government conducted a mock election and the results were 52.6 percent for Obama, 41.1 percent for McCain.
The reason it seems, from media coverage, like popular Notre Dame community sentiment is against having Obama speak is because the people opposed to Obama speaking are doing a very good job of organizing and getting their opinion out.
Bishop John M. D'Arcy, who presides over Indiana's Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, which includes Notre Dame, announced Tuesday he will not be attending Notre Dame's May 17 Commencement, since President Barack Obama will be speaking.
"Can I have the Bishop's ticket?" my friend posted on the Web site Twitter.com.
D'Arcy has clashed with Notre Dame in the past, most significantly when University President Fr. John Jenkins issued a statement in 2006 allowing The Vagina Monologues to be performed on campus. Now it's Obama's pro-choice stances and decisions, rather than vaginas, that have gotten D'Arcy's Irish up.
Notre Dame and the White House announced Friday that Obama would be speaking at Notre Dame's May 17 Commencement ceremony, with Jenkins following up Monday clarifying that asking Obama to speak, and awarding him with an honorary doctor of laws degree, does not signify support of his policies. Most students, from my observations on campus, seem to be supportive of and excited about hearing Obama speak. But a vocal student minority, as well as alumni and unaffiliated pro-life groups, have protested the decision vehemently.
In his statement Tuesday, D'Arcy said Jenkins informed him of Obama's acceptance shortly before the announcement was made. D'Arcy said it was the first time he'd been told about the invitation. This May is the 25th Notre Dame graduation since D'Arcy became bishop, and for the first time, he said, he will not attend.
"After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation," he said. "I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith 'in season and out of season,' and he teaches not only by his words -- but by his actions."
He added: "My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life."
I understand that D'Arcy has major disagreements with Obama over abortion and stem cell issues. But isn't he giving up a unique opportunity to pull the president aside for a moment and voice his concerns? It may not make a difference in Obama's stances, but when else will D'Arcy have the ear of the president?
I'm unimpressed with D'Arcy's leadership. The pro-life movement's sign-carrying, march-making approach hasn't worked so far, and I doubt the Bishop's boycott will make any difference in abortion policy in the United States. It just distances the Catholic Church from the decision-making process.
Too bad. I wish D'Arcy had been a bit braver and seen the opportunity, rather than ask whether Notre Dame has "chosen prestige over truth."
On the offensive side of Japan's lineup and earning his spot as the championship's hero was Ichiro, who at 5 feet 9 inches and 160 pounds drove in two runs with an up-the-middle line drive after a patient, samurai-like at-bat.
There is no denying that Japan is likely the skinniest baseball team not only to win the World Baseball Classic (twice in a row), but probably to even play in it. Coming from a country whose main foods are noodles and fish, most of these players would probably scoff at the notion that injecting their bodies with steroids would make them better athletes.
As if somewhat proving this point, Japan firmly manhandled the United States in the semifinals, 9-4, like a horde of miniature players overtaking a country that boasts baseball as its national pastime. But in truth, there is no country that loves baseball more than Japan.
At the crack of Ichiro's swinging bat as it drove the ball into center field, bringing two runs home in the top of the 10th inning yesterday, the room full of some 40-odd Japanese students I was in erupted in riotous cheers. "Pressure's on, Korea!" one student yelled.
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.