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'
Henceforth, we will be know as The Cram, but our purpose remains consistent:
"The Cram is opinion and analysis from accomplished student writers at higher learning institutions across America, where the future of politics is taking shape every day over collegial debate and caffeinated study. Join us as we break down the news cycle with an eye on campus issues and enough energy to conquer any syllabus."
You will find your favorite writers and new faces on The Cram, as well as a beat on the topics that interest you most. This week we've covered the continued controversy over Notre Dame's selection of President Obama as this year's commencement speaker, how the New York State budget is aversely effecting the state's student population, the continued towering tuition increases at our nation's universities, an exclusive speech made by the Bush Administration official who deemed waterboarding legal, and, right now, we're tweeting live from Obama's "100th Day" town hall in St. Louis.
We hope you'll continue to follow us in our new form. We promise to deliver the same brand of insightful campus coverage that you came back for.
In a new Washington Post poll, most Americans approve of Barack Obama's performance during his first 100 days in office.
But although the Post led its Sunday story with that finding, another response in the survey about the recently released torture memos is considerably more newsworthy. Apparently, 44 percent of the public disapproves of Obama's decision to release secret documents from the Bush administration detailing the interrogation of terrorism suspects. Fifty-three percent approved.
That key question also revealed a deep partisan divide, with three-quarters of Democrats backing the disclosure of the memos and just as many Republicans opposing the hotly debated move.
Why does access to more information fall along a partisan split? I was just as perplexed last year when I covered the Roger Clemens steroids-in-baseball hearing on Capitol Hill, and Democrats on the government reform committee harshly interrogated The Rocket while their Republican counterparts defended him. (I still can't figure out why, and Clemens has not been recorded by the FEC for any GOP campaign donations.)
But when did the issue of releasing information -- albeit from the secretive Bush administration about the sensitive issue of torture -- begin to irk conservatives? Shouldn't the availability of information be heralded by all, whether it be documents implicating a Democratic governor of New York in a prostitution ring or sexual instant messages between a Republican congressman from Florida and his congressional pages?
Former Bush Administration official John Yoo, author of several Justice Department memos determining waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be legal, addressed the California College Republicans as the keynote speaker at their statewide convention in San Francisco this weekend.
Author's note: In addition to political commentary, I'm a member of the USC College Republicans. Views posted here are my own.
Two dozen protesters gathered outside the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf hotel where the convention was being held, holding signs calling Yoo a war criminal as they chanted, "Jail John Yoo!"
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."
President Obama is making a mistake by not pursuing any prosecutions for those responsible for the harsh interrogation techniques that were used during the Bush administration.
Last week, I posted a blog piece about the legal memos released by the Justice Department that detailed the interrogation techniques used by the United States on people suspected of involvement in terrorist acts or planning. Obama reportedly agonized over the release of the memos, weighing whether their release was necessary for transparency of government or whether releasing the memos would compromise the security of the United States.
When he did release them, he announced that those who had carried out the torture, believing their actions were lawful, would not be subject to prosecution.
George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC's "This Week," asked White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Sunday whether the president also ruled out prosecution for the officials who devised the torture polices.
Emanuel responded: "He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided."
Now, add to those taboos shaking hands with leaders of certain countries.
It was only recently at the G-20 summit that Barack Obama was "bending his tall frame" to the king of Saudi Arabia. But on Friday, Obama shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at a summit in Trinidad and Tobago.
As the fair and balanced network Fox News objectively told us in a headline, "Handshake With Obama Belies Chavez's Contempt for America."
And Dick Cheney, who like Santa Claus apparently has a list of things that are naughty and nice, told that same award-wanting news network that the handshake "was not helpful."
Last night, the Miss USA pageant was held -- unbeknownst to me, since all I know about pageants is what I've seen in Little Miss Sunshine. Near the end of the pageant, celebrity judge Perez Hilton was tasked with asking one question of then-frontrunner Miss California Carrie Prejean. He decided to lob a question about one of the most politically controversial issues of our time; Prejean's response may have cost her the title:
money & financepolitics
"Billions are squandered on programs that have outlived their usefulness, or exist solely because of the power of a lobbyist or interest group," Obama said.
An agenda topic at Monday's first full Cabinet meeting will be budget cut proposals from each federal department and agency.
In his Saturday address, Obama named two specific budget cuts recently made: firstly, the Department of Homeland Security is no longer spending $3 million on logo updates. The DHS was created less than 7 years ago and the reason that the logo needed a $3 million update so soon remains to be seen.
The second budget cut is the saving of an estimated "hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful spending and cost overruns" in the Department of Defense. According to the DoD's FY 2008 Agency Financial Report, the Department's available resources were $1.1 trillion, which primarily consisted of $736.4 billion in appropriations. The net cost of operations was $676 billion. A possible budget cut is no longer appropriating $736.4 billion to tally $1.1 trillion in resources when net operating costs are only $676 billion.
Obama pledged to announce "the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective. In this effort, there will be no sacred cows, and no pet projects."
But such is the perplexing case of Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American reporter who was convicted of spying by Iran's shady court this week. The prosecutors accused the 31-year-old journalist of passing along secret information to U.S. intelligence agencies.
Spying is a pretty serious career choice, not to mention time-consuming. For Saberi to successfully spy on the Iranian government, she would have to maintain a cover, make contacts and stay under the radar for most of the six years that she's lived in the country (at least, according to the Spy Museum tour I took in D.C.).
So if suspected spy Saberi was supposed to lay low, why was she filing dozens of stories each month for news organizations like the BBC, NPR and Fox? In June 2007, she was on the front line in Tehran when Iranians burned down gas stations in opposition to fuel rationing. And she was on the scene when the Islamic country banned women from soccer games the year before, too.
Either Roxana Saberi is a terrible spy, or she's not a spy at all.
But the larger impact embodied by these protests is a bit more subtle: It shows that conservatives have discovered new media in a very powerful way.
Political campaigns of all ideological viewpoints have long gathered e-mail lists of supporters and built professionally-designed websites to serve as their online presence. But only recently has the Internet evolved to serve as a global town hall, with activists uploading pictures and videos from events held around the world, and networking tool, with registered organizers pooling resources and sharing plans.
In the last election season, both Barack Obama and John McCain created social networking sites and event registration tools in addition to Facebook pages and a YouTube channel. The Obama campaign was more successful with these tools for a variety of reasons (younger base of supporters, ridiculous talent on staff), but the online media landscape is changing so rapidly that conservatives have a real chance at surpassing the most impressive techniques of the '08 cycle.
Beyond the ideological debate behind Wednesday's protests, the fact remains that hundreds of events, sometimes thousands of miles apart, were linked together by the power of social media, as organizers coordinated events online and exchanged pictures (video, stories, etc.) afterward.
More on new media after the jump...
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 conservative filmmaker/activist managed to get himself arrested Wednesday after trying to rile up opposition to a journalism award given to Katie Couric for her Sarah Palin interview. Now he's pushing a 20-minute video of his antics and subsequent arrest, claiming anti-conservative bias.
As a senior at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, I know almost everyone featured in the video, including the university officials, event organizers and campus police who Ziegler claims "literally abused" him. Not too surprisingly, Ziegler is wildly exaggerating what really happened:
The transportation project will be funded by an initial down payment of $8 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and an additional $1 billion per year for five years, beginning with the 2010 budget.
Ten regional rail systems have been identified for the project: the California Corridor, the Pacific Northwest Corridor, the South Central Corridor, the Gulf Coast Corridor, the Chicago Hub Network, the Florida Corridor, the Southeast Corridor, the Keystone Corridor, the Empire Corridor and the Northern New England Corridor.
Amtrak, the passenger rail system founded in 1971, operates with revenue below expenses and receives an annually increasing federal subsidy reaching $6.3 million for fiscal year 2013, as mandated in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
Additionally, Amtrak received $1.3 billion of the 2009 ARRA funds.
"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.
Channeling Joseph McCarthy, one of Alabama's Republican congressmen declared Thursday that no fewer than 17 socialists are roaming the corridors of the House of Representatives.
"Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists," said Rep. Spencer Bachus at a Birmingham breakfast. When asked to clarify his comments, he said he knows of 17 socialist House members, The Birmingham News reported.
This statement lets us know two things about Bachus: He believes there are socialist members of Congress, and he doesn't think socialism is very good.
But, wanting to keep the big secret to himself, he didn't give any names. So, it's time to dust off the old shoe leather and do some investigative reporting. Where can we find a group of 17 socialists on Capitol Hill seeking to undermine the American way? I did some gumshoe digging through congressional groups and found two subcommittees with exactly 17 members. Coincidence?