Bishop to Boycott Obama Commencement Speech

    South Bend is heating up over the controversy surrounding Obama and the local bishop...Read the post

    2009 College Grads: We're the Lucky Ones

    Why there is hope for the graduating Class of 2009, and how they can find work in a recession...Read the post

    Beer in Vending Machines -- What Drinking Age?

    U.S. policies on drinking age seem restrictive when examining the rest of the world...Read the post

    How The Press Can Remain Relevant

    Is it any surprise that Obama has employed a strategy to cordon journalists that is similar to previous administrations?...Read the post

    Be Afraid, Cheney Warns. Be Very Afraid.

    Just when you thought the Bush-era warnings of Armageddon around the corner were over, Cheney strikes again...Read the post

    Obama: You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry...

    Obama threw down his stick, spat on the floor and growled in the face of cameras -- metaphorically... Read the post

    Obama to GOP: 'I Won, I'm The President'

    "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," Obama told GOP leaders...Read the post

    Palin Seeks $11M Book Deal, but Can She Read?

    One can only imagine what Republican rising star Sarah Palin could possibly write about in her memoirs...Read the post

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Will Bright Hall Win a Pulitzer?

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Apr 8th 2009 2:48AM

Filed Under: Politics, Boston University, Media

First, to answer the question: Probably not -- but only because the Pulitzer Foundation refuses to accept blog entries.

Still, nobody knows for sure, because this year, the list of Pulitzer finalists has not been leaked. Usually, the chief of Editor & Publisher, Joe Strupp, names them on his media-focused website after Pulitzer jurors slip him the nominations anonymously. This lets journalists and readers debate over who they think deserves which prize for which scoop, and it can be fun.

Not this year. "They all shut their mouths," Strupp told Roy J. Harris Jr. on Romenesko. "It's the tightest it's been for leaks in years."

There's still about two weeks left until this year's best-in-journalism prizes are announced, and anyone and everyone is eligible. For those of you upset that March Madness is over and want to play some pick-'em games, that's what the "comments" section is for.

Here are some starters, brainstormed in the spirit of Joseph Pulitzer, a sensationalist yellow journalist who threw wild accusations around in his papers during the Spanish-American War:

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Aaron Schock Adds Sex Appeal to Republican Party

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 7th 2009 10:19PM

Filed Under: Politics, Featured Stories, News, Media, Notre Dame

The Republican Party keeps getting sexier.

They've had an uphill battle. In the fall, John McCain had to compete with the sex appeal of Barack Obama (those abs!) and Joe Biden (those teeth!), but McCain proved he had more sexy in reserve than America has oil in reserve offshore when he introduced Sarah Palin (those legs!) as his running mate.

But Americans voted "Yes, we can" instead of "Drill, baby, drill," and Palin retreated back to Alaska, so the Republicans were left with a sexy deficit (except for when Palin family scandals pop up in the news once a week).

That deficit has been filled. Aaron Schock is in the House.

Of Representatives, that is. Schock represents Illinois' 18th District, and at 27, he is the youngest Member of Congress and the first to be born in the 1980s. He's not just a pretty face, hair and body. Not surprisingly, Schock is your typical over-achiever. He graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. with a B.S. in Finance, a four-year degree, in two years.

In his early teens, he began working after-school jobs and invested the money he made, making his first real estate purchase at age 18, according to his official House Web site. He entered public service by serving on the Peoria School board starting when he was 18 years old.

When he was 23, he was elected to the Illinois House, where he shared the 2007 award with then-Senator Barack Obama from the Illinois Committee for Honest Government for his "Outstanding Legislative and Constituent Service." He spoke at the 2008 National Republican Convention, and now that he is in Congress, he is sitting on three committees: the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Small Business Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He's also been named Deputy Republican Whip.

And, perhaps most notably, he's been named "hottest freshman in Congress" by the readers of the liberal blog site Huffington Post.

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Mapping the Gay Marriage Debate

Tony Romm

Posted:  Apr 7th 2009 9:20PM

Filed Under: Politics, News, American University

First Iowa, then Vermont -- two states, in less than two weeks, have conferred marriage rights to same-sex couples. In the nation's capitol, meanwhile, the D.C. Council has approved a measure that would recognize gay marriages performed out of state -- a decision that, while unanimous, is still subject to a final vote and Congressional approval.

In 29 other states, however, constitutional bans still prohibit in-state gay marriage, fail to recognize out-of-state gay marriage contracts, or bestow no domestic partnership benefits upon same-sex couples.

The following map outlines those states in which gay marriage-related laws have been passed:

View Larger Map (Please note that due to the size of the window, Alaska and Hawaii were omitted. Both states have banned gay marriage)

How to use: Click on each state to read any applicable information, or click on the map to open a larger window.

Green - State performs gay marriages
Yellow - State performs civil unions
Blue - State endows same-sex couples with domestic partnership rights
Red - State bans gay marriage
Pink - State recognizes out-of-state gay marriages and/or civil unions


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"House" Star Leaves Show for White House

Tony Romm

Posted:  Apr 7th 2009 11:48AM

Filed Under: Politics, Odd News, American University

From Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello comes news that last night's plot twist on House -- Kutner's (Kal Penn) seemingly unprovoked suicide -- was hardly the result of cast infighting or creative conflicts.

Rather, as the EW blogger unveiled during an interview published this morning, Kutner's death was purely... political?

"Yes. I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House," said Penn, still famous for his role in the "Harold and Kumar" films. "I got to know the President and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I'm going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison." [sic]

Specifically, Penn will reprise his role as an Obama spokesperson and coordinate the administration's outreach efforts with the "Asian-American and arts communities," the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Tuesday. He'll serve directly under Valerie Jarrett, chief of the Office of Public Liaison.

Penn, however, gave no indication of when he will officially assume his new position -- and, most important to the Hollywood types, whether it signifies an end to his acting career.

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North Korea Launches Rocket, Prompts Famous 3 a.m. Phone Call

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 6th 2009 12:06AM

Filed Under: Politics, Breaking News, News, Media, Notre Dame

Hillary Clinton saw this coming.

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.

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Alaskan Republicans Ask for Begich's Resignation

Tony Romm

Posted:  Apr 3rd 2009 11:49AM

Filed Under: US Elections, Politics, American University

Now that federal prosecutors have abandoned their ethics case against embattled Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the state's leading Republicans have asked Stevens' successor, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, to defend his seat in a special election.

The latest round of Alaskan political boondoggling began earlier this week when the state's GOP chair, Randy Ruedrich, publicly attributed Begich's close, 3,700-vote victory over Stevens last November to "a few thousand Alaskans [who] thought that Senator Stevens was guilty of seven felonies." Gov. Sarah Palin then echoed that assertion in a separate interview on Thursday, telling the Anchorage Daily News, "Alaskans deserve to have a fair election not tainted by some announcement that one of the candidates was convicted fairly of seven felonies, when in fact it wasn't a fair conviction."

To Ruedrich and Palin, the ideal redress would be a prompt do-over, triggered by Begich's resignation. The vacancy would then permit Stevens, who was indicted in July for failing to disclose gifts he received while in office, to attempt a new campaign without the looming threat of legal action.

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Congress Begins Talk of Ending Cuba Embargo

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 3rd 2009 1:41AM

Filed Under: US Elections, Politics, News, Notre Dame

Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, is trying to urge changes to the nearly 50-year-old economic embargo against Cuba.

Lugar, in a March 30 letter to President Obama, said the embargo against Cuba, which has been in place since 1962 to protest the government set up by Fidel Castro, "undermines our broader security and political interests in the Western Hemisphere."

Lugar asked Obama to appoint a special envoy to start direct talks with Cuba's communist government and end opposition to Cuba's membership in the Organization of American States, The Washington Post reported. Lugar pointed to the April 17-19 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago as a good place to make changes in U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba.

Lugar is also the co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would end restrictions on travel to Cuba except for in cases of war or direct threats to health and safety. As it stands now, Cuban Americans with relatives on the island are allowed to visit once a year. Travel to Cuba by all U.S. citizens has been prohibited in varying degrees since 1963, the Post said. The State Department lists who exactly is allowed to travel there. It's a hard list to make, which is a shame, because the forecast for the next week is in the 80s.

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Blagojevich Indicted While Vacationing in Disney World

Adam Kirchner

Posted:  Apr 2nd 2009 11:45PM

Filed Under: Politics, Towson University

A federal grand jury indicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and five co-defendants on 16 felony counts, 19 total on Thursday. The felony counts include racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud, and extortion conspiracy. If convicted, Blagojevich faces more than 300 years in prison and $4 million in fines.

Blagojevich is accused of having attempted to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama upon his election as the 44th President of the United States.

Milorad "Rod" Blagojevich's co-defendants are his brother, Robert, two former chiefs of staff, Alonzo Monk and John Harris, fundraiser Christopher G. Kelly, and William F. Cellini, Sr., a former casino owner and Illinois' first Secretary of Transportation.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Blagojevich was vacationing in Disney World with his family at the time of his indictment. Also vacationing in Disney World was his co-defendant brother's lawyer, with his family. It's a small world, after all.

According to the criminal complaint against Blagojevich, on November 5, 2008, within 24 hours of Obama's electoral victory, he told a person named only as Adviser A "I've got this (vacant Senate seat to appoint) and it's f***ing golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for f***in' nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can always parachute me there." Always?

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Who's Leading the Republican Party?

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 2nd 2009 12:03AM

Filed Under: Politics, Media, Notre Dame

I'm rooting for Michael Steele.

Partly because the chairman of the Republican National Committee is the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, my home state. And because one time I saw him campaigning at my local grocery store, and he handed me a flyer, so I feel some sort of connection to him.

But mostly because the Republican Party needs a strong leader now that the Democrats are running the show in Washington. Let's bring back the two-party system.

Steele hasn't had a strong start. I was impressed when he tried to put conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh in his place, but Steele quickly backed down and praised the bombastic radio personality instead. He made another mistake when he contradicted the Republican stance on abortion a few weeks later.

But let's take a look at the other options for the Republican Party.

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The Superstitious Defense of Norm Coleman

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Mar 31st 2009 10:24PM

Filed Under: US Elections, Politics, Boston University

The Minnesota Senate race is getting closer to an end, and Norm Coleman probably won't win. A three-judge panel ruled on Tuesday that at most, 400 ballots questioned by Coleman, who is barely losing to Al Franken, can be recounted in court in about a week.

The news is great for Franken and Democrats, who are that much closer to getting 59 seats in the Senate, a very powerful number that can potentially dust off threats of Republican filibusters. But Coleman and the Republicans aren't giving up. They have raised millions of dollars to fuel the recount, delaying either senator from working on Capitol Hill.

Yet money may not be enough to win this legal battle stemming from Nov. 4, at least according to Coleman's lawyer, who suggested Tuesday that supernatural forces had something to do with the unfortunate rulings.

"We said that this court's Friday the 13th order is wrong, and now their almost April Fool's Day order is equally wrong," said attorney Ben Ginsberg, referring first to the February 13 ruling that discarded some ballot categories as grounds for recounting.

Obviously I'm no legal expert or scholar of law, but I don't think it's absurd to suggest that when the defense brings up scary bad-luck days like Friday the 13th or "almost April Fool's Day," its options may be running thin.

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Did The NYT Kill A Story Linking Obama to ACORN?

Tony Romm

Posted:  Mar 30th 2009 8:53PM

Filed Under: Politics, Featured Stories, American University

WASHINGTON -- Did The New York Times wrongly spike a story that would have implicated then-candidate Barack Obama in the ACORN controversy? So testified Heather S. Heidelbaugh, a lawyer representing Republicans in an ACORN lawsuit, during an overlooked House Judiciary subcommittee hearing last week.

According to Heidelbaugh's prepared remarks, NYT beat reporter Stephanie Strom submitted to her editors in late October a story that alleged Obama offered the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, better known as ACORN, a list of its "maxed-out donors" for their get-out-the-vote fundraising operations. The primary source in the piece was Anita Moncrief, a fired ACORN employee and frequent informant to Strom. However, per Heidelbaugh's testimony, the Times refused to publish the controversial article because, as Strom allegedly told her source, "it was a game changer." Strom subsequently penned not a single additional ACORN story between the described incident and the November election, Heidelbaugh added.

Although Strom could not be reached for comment, the Times' Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications, Catherine Mathis, told The Bulletin of Philadelphia that the NYT "do[es] not discuss [its] news gathering and won't comment except to say that political considerations played no role in our decisions about how to cover this story or any other story about President Obama."

Even so, it remains unclear whether any wrongdoing actually occurred. If the allegations are true, Obama's collusion with ACORN could constitute "gross violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971," Heidelbaugh said. However, the hearing's participants did not further inquire as to how or why this was the case.

Furthermore, there is insufficient evidence to indict the Times for journalistic malpractice.

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Bishop to Boycott Obama Commencement Speech at Notre Dame

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Mar 25th 2009 12:30AM

Filed Under: Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, Culture, Religion, News, Local, Media, Notre Dame

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

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."

Full Article »


Since When Do Politicians Care About Newspapers?

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Mar 24th 2009 11:36PM

Filed Under: Politics, Boston University, Advise & Dissent, Media, The Economy

Animated disagreement between coworkers is a venerable tradition often denied to Bright Hall's far-flung, break room-less staff. Advise & Dissent is an attempt to fix that. Click here for past debates, and click here to read Tony Romm's argument against nonprofit newspapers.

The difference between a newspaper and a press release from a senator's office is that the first usually contains the whole, objective truth, and the latter is full of spin and bias.

So it may be striking some political and media observers as odd that politicians have begun lining up to offer federal help to print journalism. The latest effort comes from Senator Benjamin Cardin, who on Tuesday introduced a bill that would allow newspapers to get a bunch of tax breaks if they work as nonprofits.

There is a catch, though -- they would be barred from political endorsements on their editorial pages.

Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, said his effort is aimed at helping local papers, not big conglomerates that also dabble in TV and radio. Unprecedented numbers of newspapers big and small are on the verge of disappearing, and many have already declared bankruptcy or stopped printing -- like the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The cause is a deadly cocktail that is part terrible economy and part old business model, which relies almost solely on advertisements, which have been steadily declining for years.

"We are losing our newspaper industry," Cardin said. "The economy has caused an immediate problem, but the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken, and that is a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy."

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Obama's "New Beginning" For US & Iran


Posted:  Mar 24th 2009 11:09PM

Filed Under: Politics, UMass

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard President Obama greeting the people and the government of Iran for the Persian New Year on Friday March 20th was how cute it was that he spoke a sentence in Farsi. Also, I was thrilled to hear him pronounce the name of the country correctly and to acknowledge the state of Iran in its full status as an Islamic Republic.

He won my heart even further when he quoted my favorite Iranian poet Saadi's most famous poem, which is the motto on the entrance of United Nations Building:

These songs of Adam are limbs of each other, Having been created on one essence.
When the calamity of time affects one limb, The other limbs cannot remain at rest.

But soon, after all the excitement, I remembered that I am Iranian and I should read between the lines. "I must not be carried away by the sweetness of the talk," I told myself. Turns out I was not the only one who thought this way.

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Obama Dances In Boring Press Conference

Joshua Chaney

Posted:  Mar 24th 2009 10:30PM

Filed Under: Politics, News, The Economy, Muskingum College

Who's sick of hearing the President blame all of his problems on the previous administration?

Evidently some in the press.

The answer to a tough question usual begins with an Obama answer along the following lines: "Well, I would say you have to remember, I inherited (insert any current national crisis or issue here)."

The president didn't disappoint in delivering that answer at a press conference in which he spent most of the night defending his $3.6 trillion budget, saying the budget "is inseparable from this recovery."

Overall, the press conference seemed dull, highlighted only by Obama's eloquence in dancing around each question, giving long-winded answers normally that had little - if any - to do with what was asked and usually ended with health care reform or green energy reform and green jobs.

CNN's Ed Henry and CBS' Chip Reid called the president on the hypocrisy. Asked on the question of whether his budget tramples wishes not to "pass on our problems to the next generation," Obama kicked off his answer by blaming President Bush and Congressional Republicans.

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