Thursday, February 26, 2009
Marissa recently put together this wonderful slideshow to offer a glimpse inside the kitchen and into the lives that help bring it to life everyday: http://home.gwu.edu/~mbialeck/DCCKslideshowfinal/publish_to_web/
Monday, February 23, 2009
Resolved: The "War on Drugs" is ineffective.
Proposition: Michael Herman
Opposition: Steven Glinert
In 1971, Richard Nixon declared "War on Drugs" in an attempt to reduce illegal drug trade and curb the supply, use, and demand for illegal psychoactive substances. The War on Drugs, led by the United States and including other countries involved in illegal drug trafficking, is a military, political and education effort that seeks to control substances deemed dangerous and undesirable. Each year the Drug Enforcement Agency seizes millions of pounds of illegal drugs, collaborates with countries to bring down drug producers and smugglers, and protects the US population from the dangerous societal and personal side-effects of illegal drugs. However, many see the War on Drugs not only as an illegal form of prohibition and an usurpation of states' rights to control interstate commerce, but also as a policy that exacerbates the vicious cycle of poverty perpetuating an underclass through harsh anti-drug punishments. Perhaps the War on Drugs is a government policy actively making our country safer, but is it effective? Is the War on Drugs mentality of "good versus evil" and "just say no" too simplistic for such a complex issue? Should certain drugs be decriminalized and charges lessened for drug related offenses? Or would scaling back the War on Drugs open the door to a stronger drug market, easier access to money for non-state actors, and more violent crime? With its $40 billion price tag, the War on Drugs deserves a thorough analysis of whether it truly protects those vulnerable to exploitative qualities of drugs or whether it wastes time and money.
Join us for a heated debate the merits and weaknesses of the War on Drugs.
And while this "policy paper" may come back to bite me sometime in the future (just deal with my unfounded paranoia of supplying my own opposition research), here's a snippet of my remarks from the February 18 debate on nuclear weapons. I debated for the proposition (but would have felt a bit more comfortable on the other side):
"Witness the first serious flaw in the deterrence argument. Deterrence depends on a delicate balance of technological prowess between actors, a balance which, if disrupted, could easily neutralize the second-strike capability of one actor and enhance the first-strike capability of the other. Deterrence depends on a constant symmetry of capabilities, which in turn requires a constant arms race. As we’ve seen, arms races are very costly affairs for which societies bear the burden. States’ resources are being poured into expensive weapons systems and defense projects, crowding out investment in other sectors. And if one actor falls behind the other so as to render their second-strike capability moot, the aggressor could launch a nuclear attack with impunity, safe in the knowledge that it could prevent sustaining a nuclear response. And as the United States enters the new century as the sole world superpower, we stand on the verge of obtaining nuclear primacy, in that we may soon possess the ability to launch a full-scale nuclear attack while destroying the second-strike capability of other nuclear powers. This scenario challenges the logic of deterrence."
Young identified me as a sophomore, not a junior, but other than that the article is well done.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Politico's Glenn Thrush reports:
They voted no, but they want the dough.
We're getting into broken record territory here on Republicans clamoring for stimulus money.
Nine GOP House members from Florida, all stimulus no's, joined nine of their Democratic colleagues, all yesses, in asking the feds to grant a waiver giving them access to, you guessed it, hundreds of millions in state stabilization stimulus cash.
“This critical funding is vital to protecting our schools from budget cuts and teacher layoffs. Because Florida has been hit especially hard by a rise in foreclosures, unemployment, and recent natural disasters, we are experiencing a crippling budget crisis. Now more than ever, we must invest in our state’s future,” said the letter.
"Now more than ever, we must invest in our state's future."
Because it wasn't worth investing in last week. Way to stick to your principles.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Please join The Enosinian Society for our second debate of the 2009 Spring semester on Wednesday, February 18th at 8:00 pm at The Honors Building, 714 21st St, to debate
Resolved: The world should be free of nuclear weapons
Proposition: Eshawn Rawlley
Opposition: Sheng Zhou
Nuclear weapons have been deployed just twice in times of war. Despite this, the development and production of nuclear warheads continued and for much of Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in an arms race for nuclear superiority. Today, eight countries possess nuclear weapons and despite the efforts of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency to reduce the threat of nuclear weaponry, the number of warheads now stands at an estimated 28,000, many of which are unsecured or unaccounted for. While some insist that these weapons of mass destruction are the greatest threat to mankind and must be destroyed, others contend that the very same threat is a vital deterrent to both conventional and nuclear war. Are nuclear weapons too destructive to exist in the hands of man? Or does the total destructive nature of these weapons ensure a peaceful détente?
Yes, I will be stepping down from the Speaker's chair for this debate. I would have loved to make the opposition argument but I deferred to my esteemed opponent. This should be a doozy!
Friday, February 13, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, I have made considerable progress on my first assignment. A few weeks ago, Comedian Rush Limbaugh said on the air that we wished to see President Obama "fail." He elaborated upon this, shouting into his microphone that "liberalism is the problem" and that he wanted Obama's liberal policies to "fail."
The DCCC pounced on these remarks, attacking Rush for his audacity to wish failure upon an American president, especially in these trying times. Seeking to fire up its base and raise some post-election funds, the DCCC launched an online petition and marketing campaign on which anti-Limbaugh Democrats could share their disdain for the comedian by posting comments.
Not to be outflanked, Limbaugh ordered his "Dittoheads" to flood the DCCC petition website with pro-Rush comments. What resulted was a...curious...intersection of our fellow citizens' opinions.
So as the Online Comm. and DM (direct marketing, for those unfamiliar with the lingooo) intern, one of my first tasks was sorting through the nearly 13,000 comments left on the petition and weed out the Rush supporters so that we can use the contact information of the real Democrats for future ad campaigns.
I'm currently on comment # 3,001. Dems are winning this one over the Dittoheads by a slight margin of 52-48.
Here are some gems that I've collected for your reading pleasure. The names of the commenters have been removed to protect those with too much time.
The Blisteringly Racist Skinhead Awards:
"I barrack hussein osama promise to kick america to the curb, for i was born to fail!me and my corrupt bros and hos from ACORN will rape america and all it stands for,then me and my holes hillary and pelosi will celebrate by smokin a rock the size of my ears!!!!"
"I absolutely love Rush Limbaugh. I think he is wonderful. I think he should be president. He is so much more compentent than that nigger Obama
Please send this to Rush Limbaugh. Thank you sooooooo much."
Yup. These people still exist.
The Beautiful Simplicity Award:
"Rush, you suck."
The Paranoid Socialism-Phobia Award:
"Right on Rush! May Barakarl Marx Hussein Obama fail miserably in implementing his socialist, big government power grab!"
"Get 'em Rush! Call it like it is!! You libs just love that government intervention don't you!? Socialism and government control FAILS miserably every time it is tried! Wake up, just 'cause your guy won doesn't mean capitalism and freedom are dead. Be ready for a loooong bloody "battle" if you keep it up! Any republican worth having will fight you tooth & nail!"
The number of comments denouncing Mao Obama and Comrades Pelosi and Reid's socialist agenda were numerous and vitriolic in the extreme. There remain convinced a great many Americans that our president is a closet Commie. This notion is ridiculous. Chairman Obama is our Great Liberator.
The Market-Based Rationality Award:
"Why don't you launch a boycott of his advertisers instead of wasting time on this worthless online petition? I quit shopping at Home Depot and I will never ever buy an Oreck vacuum. I don't need natural male enhancement, I don't need vocabulary improvement CDs, I don't need weight loss remedies, and I don't need hair restoration snake oil, so I won't be buying any of those anyway. Hey, I guess the only people who listen to Rush are fat, bald, stuttering limpdicks -- or maybe the advertisers just want Rush to buy their stuff! Ha!!"
"You are making the guy richer because now everyone is taking about him -a private citizen."
The Righteous Indignance Award:
"We're a free country where you can say whatever you want, but this is about the integrity of what you say and what you do. The same republicans who would call some Americans "real Americans" are the ones who define hypocrisy. when it conveniently supports a republicans argument they quickly embrace the same tone as people who they previously categorized as "treasonists" and "un-patriotic" when speaking against Bush. It's been two weeks with Obama in office; there is no reason to hope someone fails before they even get a chance. That is unless your motives are dishonest, underhanded, and sly."
The Fulfillment of My Intern Duties Awards:
"Let's see if this one gets through. I love Rush. Rush for President 2012!!!"
(It didn't. You're welcome).
You Go, Rush. I'm on your side. Love your show. Gee, I wonder if you'll get this?
(He won't. You're welcome).
The Angry Asian Award:
"Here's four words for you Limbaugh, 'Kiss my Asian ASS!'"
THE FIERY ALL-CAPS MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS AWARD!!!
(also nominated for Best Presidential Pseudonym):
"YOU(DCC)[sic], ARE EVIL DISTORTIONIST LIARS. TAKING QUOTES OUT OF CONTEXT TO MAKE RUSH APPEAR TO SAY SOMETHING HE DIDN'T. HE WANTS OBAMA'S SOCIALIST AGENDA TO FAIL!! IN THAT LIGHT, I PRAY YOU AND THE DEMS FAIL ALSO!!!
I SUPPORT RUSH! YOU BLOODY SOCIALISTS ARE THE ENEMY OF AMERICA! YOU LIED, YOU TOOK A SHORT SOUND BIT OUT OF HIS STATEMENT WHICH DOES NOT SAY HE WANTS HUSAN OBBOMBA TO FAIL.. HE WANTS THE SOCIALISTS POLICIES OF HUSAN BOMBBA TO FAIL! ONCE AGAIN.... I SUPPORT RUSH.. AND WILL NOW BE PLACING A SIZABLE CHECK IN THE MAIL TO THE SARA PALIN NEW PAC... SHAME ON YOU.. YOU LIEING PIECE OF "OBBOMBA..."
Somewhere above the lower 48, a governor winked.
The Unoriginal Not-So-Subtle Prescription Drug Reference Award:
"Dear Rush, Get back on your meds. Quick."
Good one, pal. You and the other 1,000 people who made a clever drug-related quip.
The FIERY Unoriginal ALL-CAPS Not-So-Subtle Prescription Drug Reference Award:
"I REALLY BELEIVE THAT RUSH LIMBAUGH HAS MENTAL PROBLEMS HE NEED TO DEAL WITH (MAYBE BECAUSE OF ALL THE DRUGS)"
"I THINK YOU ARE AN ANNOYING PILL POPPER"
THE FIERY ALL-CAPS ULTRACONSERVATIVE AWARD:
"RUSH LIMBAUGH IS THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE. HE EDUCATES AND SPEAKS THE TRUTH. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN ABORTION, INFANTICIDE, SOCIALISM, A TAX EVADING TREASURY SECRETARY, DISRESPECT OF THE MILITARY, WEAK SECURITY, CODDLING OF ANY TERRORIST. I DO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ALONG WITH RUSH, I HOPE AND PRAY OBAMA'S INTERNATIONAL BABY KILLING, SOCIALIST PROGRAMS FAIL."
THE FIERY ALL-CAPS DELUSION AWARD:
"MAYBE YOU SHOULD WORRY ABOUT A TERRORIST COMING TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD AFTER OBAMA RELEASE THEM FROM GITMO."
THE FIERY ALL-CAPS SARCASTIC FASCIST AWARD:
"LIMBAUGH IS A RIGHT WING DISSENTER WHO HAS VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND DOES NOT DESERVE TO SPEAK TO BARAK HUSSEIN OBAMA OUR DEAR LEADER. LONG LIVE THE KING, LONG LIVE THE KING, ALL HAIL KING OBAMA."
The Non-Committal Award
(also nominated for Beautiful Simplicity Award):
"I am mixed in my reaction."
The Fat Joke Routine Award (LOL):
"Hey Rush, you're obese. I'll bet you have high blood pressure and diabetes and high cholesterol. Maybe a bit of arteriosclerosis, heh? I suspect you sweat a lot too. Maybe you're too hot all the time? You keep picking up the front of your shirt. Is that because it is sticking to the sweat?"
The Completely Out-of-Touch New Yorker Award, presented by the Honorable Adam S. Beck of Pennsylvania:
"We need work. We don't need to give money to ACORN! Who put that in. I'm sure Presidnet Obama would not want to promote fraudulent voting. And Sec Clinton is the most upstanding Secretary of State that ever lived. She would be against this. Maybe she can speak to Caroline Kennedy when this comes to a vote in the Senate and tell her to vote against it. This is not CHANGE this is FRAUD! Fraud is what is in this bill. Please tell Charles Schmumer that Caroline Kennedy would not want money going to sex ed. She is a mother. She knows better. Stop this bill. Hurry. Stop it tonite."
Um. I don't know if you heard but...ah forget it. I don't have the heart to shatter this Kennedy-loving New Yorker's fantasy.
The Uber Creepy Pious Priest Award:
"Doth thou not profess to be a stellar Christian? Perhaps revisiting the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments are in order; as thou hast forgotten the Golden Rule."
I bet after he wrote that, he sat back and upright in his chair, pushed up his nose, and nodded in satisfaction. A "stellar Christian?"
The Voice of Reason Award:
"The Democratic Party has the unique opportunity of controlling Congress and the Presidency. They have at least two years to do what they wish to show the American people where they really stand. You can either look to the future or you can pick cat fights and blame your problems on others. Our country is more important than these cheap political stunts."
"Oh, for Heaven's sake. THIS is what you're doing with your time. RL is a blowhard and only "right" is listening to him. Stop campaigning and get to work solving our most pressing problems."
But what these rational individuals do not understand is that while the premise behind the ad campaign is silly, it's still an ad campaign, and it works. When people get angry, they give money. It's a simple formula, really. But it seems a far cry from the change in the political tone in this country that we voted for, no? Bummers.
The Pragmatic Patriot Award:
"Any citizen of the United States of America should support their country, and therefore their country's elected officials. I am a republican and voted for McCain, but I hope Obama does well in office for the benefit of all current and future Americans."
The McCarthy Awards:
"Limbaugh should be charged with treason."
"fire this man for his anit-American thoughts."
"Treason is a crime punishable by death by hanging."
"Criticizing the president during wartime is an act of treason and should be punished as such".
Hmm. Really? The last time I checked there's something called the First Amendment and I'm pretty sure wishing failure upon an elected official is protected under it. Wishing bodily harm, not so much. I have literally read hundreds of comments by people expressing the same sentiment; that somehow Rush's comment was "treasonous." That's scares me. Distasteful? Yes. Pathetic? Definitely. Un-American? Treasonous? Definitely not. To deny an American citizen from his guaranteed rights, that my friends is treasonous. That is an anti-American thought.
The Sage Wisdom Award:
"The one that screams the loudest is usually the one who's drowning."
"An old man once told me never to argue with a fool because if a stranger walks by he won't know which of you is the fool."
"Empty cans rattle the loudest."
That's all for now. I wish I could've posted them all. I'll get back to work on Wednesday, dipping my sieve into the muddied waters of American political discourse and sifting through the yield.
One Nation, Under God.
Time for a little tough love.
In an off-the-cuff sermon to the House Democrats at the party retreat in Williamsburg, VA, the President offered just that:
That's my BOY.
Good. Now that we're all behaving again, let's get back to work and save this economy.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
What an eventful day yesterday was! Here's a tiny summary of some of the days more newsworthy events, along with my patent commentary that you've come to love:
Two of President Obama's cabinet choices withdrew their names from Senate consideration today due to tax problems. Nancy Killefer, the President's choice for government CPO cited her tax problems related to the hiring of "household help" as the reason for her withdrawal from consideration for the post. Although Ms. Killefer's tax liabilities are miniscule compared to that of say Mr. Geither's or Mr. Daschle's, and although the vetting team was reportedly aware of her tax issues, because of the aforementioned gentlemen and their penchant for evading the IRS, the President's chief performance officer was left with no choice but to withdraw rather than draw the ire of a Senate who dutifully overlooked Geither's trangressions.
The next would-be cabinet member to fall was Mr. Daschle, who withdrew his name from consideration for the post of Health and Human Services Secretary around 12:30 PM today. Mr. Daschle's failure to pay back taxes on a car we received from a wealthy donor amounted to a $100,000+ mistake that was apparently impermissable by the already generous Senate. In addition to this tax oversight, Mr. Daschle's private sector dealings within the health industry raised questions of impropriety about a man selected to lead the Obama Administration's health care reform initiative. Mr. Daschle's withdrawal, though not without good reason, nevertheless surprised many Democratic and Republican Senators who believed the administration would still put up a fight.
My question is, do any of these nominees, who are all fairly wealthy, have lawyers who can do their taxes for them? H & R Block? TurboTax (though that didn't work out so well for Secretary Geithner).
As my colleague Adam Beck points out, althought Daschle's loss is the biggest blow to the administration's cabinet formation since the withdrawal of Gov. Bill Richardson for Commerce, the President still has a number of qualified individuals to chose from to head the DHHS. As Mr. Beck points out, Dr. Howard Dean would be a wonderfully qualified candidate, and any inevitable political hiccups that will plague his nomination hearings would be muted by a Democratic majority. I suggested Ezekiel Emmanuel, Rahm's brother, a respected bioethicist. But of course, that wouldn't be kosher.
During a sit down interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper yesterday, the President acknowledged some of his administration's recent stumbles and offered My Bad:
"I made a mistake...I screwed up, and I take responsibility for it," said the President, referring to the Daschle firestorm. "Ultimately, I campaigned on changing Washington and bottom-up politics. And I don't want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards: one for powerful people and one for ordinary folks who are working every day and paying their taxes."
The President did not apologize for originally choosing Daschle, who he still believes is "better-equipped" than anybody to "deal both with the substance and policy of health care."
Whaaa??? I'm sorry, did the President of the United States just admit, A MISTAKE? This must be unprecedented. I have never heard of such a thing. Afterall, any time the previous presidents made mistakes, they would hint at it, maybe stare at it but never acknowledge it, sometimes sending out their press secretaries to take the flak while they hid behind the Resolute.
But surely they would never blatantly admit to a mistake. That's crazy talk. Any President who plays it straight with the American people isn't a leader, he's a novice.
The weakling "forgive me" president also told Cooper that the fast-deteriorating economy is what keeps him up at night "literally."
The President also talked about the stimulus package in good detail, and also spoke about the War on Terror and whether or not that term should be used anymore (it shouldn't, and he agrees). Cooper's interview is fantastic, and you can watch it below:
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has officially come out in opposition to the Senate's stimulus plan backed by the President, saying in an e-mail sent to his campaign list, “I cannot and do not support the package on the table from the Democrats and the Obama Administration. Our country does not need just another spending bill, particularly not one that will load future generations with the burden of massive debt. We need a short term stimulus bill that will directly help people, create jobs, and provide a jolt to our economy.”
Despite the fact that Democrats in both chambers have been open to and have utilized several good ideas offered by the minority party during the stimulus debate, such as more tax cuts and the removal of "non-stimulating" provisions (which amounted to less than 1% of the entire bill. Talk about cherrypicking), and despite the fact that the President and his administration have held multiple high and mid-level meetings with GOP leadership and members, Sen. McCain and the Republicans in Congress continue to claim that this bill was entirely drafted by Democrats who have paid no heed to the sage advice of the minority. This is simply not true. The majority party of Congress and the White House have listened and continue to listen to the legitimate concerns of the minority and have implemented many of their suggestions. Where the majority will not negotiate and will not budge (and certainly they have earned the right to be able to draw the line) is where Republicans call foul. Sorry fellas, but we won.
Fresh off his stint in Sderot reporting on the Gaza War, claiming that reporters shouldn't be allowed to cover wars, and subsequently covering the war, Samuel Joseph "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher has got himself another undeserved title: political consultant. Yesterday morning, members of the Conservative Working Group held their weekly strategy session with Republican Hill staffers during which special guest Joe offered his thoughts on the stimulus bill: he's against it.
I'm glad the Republican Party is taking his advice. I mean, it worked so well for them the first time around, right?
Til next time dancers. Go get dry.
Monday, February 2, 2009
In a statement released last Thursday, the College Democrats expressed how "tremendously upset" they were that "the organization's trust was violated" by the member of their executive board who perpetrated an act of bigotry in their office. Not only was the trust of the executive board violated, but so was the trust of our community as a whole.
When the CD executive board member desecrated the crosses that were part of an anti-abortion event, it was not simply an immature display of partisanship. This was an unpardonable act of hatred against a religious community, and a crime that must be condemned in the strongest of terms and punished by the strictest of statutes.
This crime was committed by a person entrusted to represent their party and its members faithfully, but who contravened this duty by espousing their ugly hatred through the defilement of a sacred religious symbol. This crime was a product of the same ignorant bigotry which drove others in the recent past to produce offensive posters and vandalism. Despite our outrage and our condemnations, hate persists.
But in a moment of anger such as this one, it's important to remain measured in our response. We must remember that this act was not condoned by an organization but rather perpetrated by an individual acting in contradiction to what we know about our University. This moment calls for an effort on our part to demonstrate to each other through our dialogue and through our deeds that no organization seeks to persecute any community on this campus. Sadly, due to the actions of one individual, this truth is being questioned in our community and it's one that requires our reaffirmation.
During the recent election, we dispelled the notion that our differences were too vast compared to the values which unify us. With deep conviction we bought into the belief that we could reject our easy instincts that spur us toward intolerance of people with whom we disagree. This behavior is contrary to the fundamental message of that campaign and is completely at odds with what our party stands for.
But above all, this act of hatred stands in opposition to the virtue we Americans ardently believe in: the virtue of tolerance towards our fellow citizen, regardless of all discriminatory criteria. As the president said in his inaugural address, "we are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers … our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness."
Despite our recent struggles with hate crime, I remain convinced that our community is an inclusive one, in which people of all threads can be interwoven. Let's commit ourselves to mending the tears in our own patchwork quilt. Because as long as intolerance serves as an impediment towards a more tolerant society, we must continue to stand united as a community, firm in our resistance of hate wherever we see it and in whatever form it takes.
The writer, a junior majoring in political science, is communications director of GW Students For Barack Obama and vice president of the GW Indian Students Association.
Hap tip to Gabriella Schwarz & Diana Kugel.
The GW Hatchet
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Theirs are the shoulders on which Barack stands.
You can check out the rest of the photo album on Facebook.