July 2008


I don't know what to make of this pay-to-play on video tape story. On the one hand, it's entirely unsurprising, as this kind of thing happens all the time. Access is currency in Washington (and everywhere elese, actually.) On the other hand, it was striking to see it so bluntly on videotape, particularly as Payne was selling not just access, but literally selling foreign policy. The most surprising thing about this affair, however, is that the press actually went out and did the investigation in the first place.

Of course, it was a foreign paper, so I shouldn't be too surprised.

But man, there's not much in this world that you could give me to get me to donate $250,000 to the George W. Bush presidential library. I might send them a free copy of The Pet Goat, though.

Presidential Contrasts: Network Neutrality

There are some very big differences on some very big issues at stake in this election. From Iraq to healthcare, energy to education, and everything in between, the differences are stark. One issue that receives considerably less attention, however, is a little thing called net neutrality. It's an interesting issue in a number of ways because while somewhat technical in nature, it exemplifies some of the more fundamental differences between the two presidential candidates.

First, here is a brief video to explain what net neutrality is, and why it's important.

Barack Obama supports net neutrality, while John McCain opposes it. Well to be fair, McCain has flipped back and forth a few times, but mostly he opposes it. This is a great example of the divergent approaches to policy that Obama and McCain take, however. Obama explicitly expresses support for net neutrality on his Technology issues page. It is one component of an impressively comprehensive federal technology (specifically communications and information access) policy.

Jamie Nails Another One

Our own Jamie Thompson has written another spot-on Op-ed in Drexel's Student paper, The Triangle. Jamie was responding to this ridiculous letter from last week. The author writes

To ask folks like me to share this identity with gays and lesbians is highly hypocritical of the gay and lesbian community. Now, before I proceed further, let me make one thing clear. I am pro-gay, and I do support with wholeheartedly that equal rights must be granted to the gay/lesbian community. But there is a difference between sharing equal rights and sharing my own identity.
We shall not consider allowing gay marriages to share the same identity of that of regular marriages. It is not tolerance but just incompetence from our part not to act or even stand up for our identity.
We just can't afford to mislead the rest of world by our own incompetence. We should put a stop to this gay marriage concept once and for all.

I wouldn't even know where to begin responding to such a silly letter, but Jamie did an excellent job.

Missing the Point? Hardly.

The PA College Republicans have responded to our (and others'; Here, here,here) criticisms of their upcoming 9/11 Day. I'll take their declarations of good faith at face value (a dubious proposition when dealing with College Republicans, I've found), and try to further explain why people find the idea of a College Republican sponsored 9/11 Day inappropriate.

They, in the person of one Jessica Thompson, write

"It is important to note that this project, even though it is commonly sponsored by College Republican groups, is not a political event in nature; anyone is welcome to participate in this event."

This is really the heart of our disagreement. I contend that when a political organization sponsors an event, the political implications are unavoidable. If students want to create 9/11 memorials at their school, fine, but for the College Republicans to attach their name to it brings unmistakable political implications. This is a simple point, and it should be apparent to student leaders of political organizations.

Sometimes a Gaffe is Just a Gaffe: Stop Whining!

There's a cute political quip which holds that a gaffe is when you accidently tell the truth. That's often true, but often not. McCain is rather gaffe prone, particularly when he's pretending to know what he's talking about (See "Policy, Foreign") but the gaffe du jour is McCain's most senior economic advisor telling the country that the economy is a-ok and that everyone should stop whining. That's just a gaffe. Economists will be pinning down if/when a recession officially begins, but to argue that the economy is fundamentally strong seems a bit wrong headed.

Arguing that corporate profits are strong or that the GDP has not declined for two consecutive quarters misses entirely the growing inequity in this country, and the squeeze people are feeling. Even without pointing out that seasonally adjusted unemployment has risen by more than 12% since January, or that gas has risen to nearly $4.50 a gallon, there are reasons to be worried. The tangled web spun by the housing bubble and the abundance of cheap credit has yet to be unspun.

Gramm's comments weren't just politically boneheaded, they were also substantively wrong. One may try to hide behind a narrow technical defense of his statements, or just smile and make it all go away, but the economic problems we're facing are impervious to a sunny disposition.

This all reminds me of 2004, when FOX News was a 24/7 "Why don't people realize how good the econmy is?"


While I was at checking out the PA College Republicans' new website I noticed an amusing error on a protest sign. At a Temple College Republican protest one of the scholars was holding a sign stating "Democrat's (sic) Plan for Iraq" with an arrow pointing to a blank sheet of paper. The context of the protest isn't provided, though the photo title indicates it was a Temple CR "Support the Troops Rally." What holding signs like "Thank you for protesting. -Saddam Hussein" has to do with supporting the troops is beyond me, but that's not my quibble.

Stochastic Foreign Policy

Good ad from the DNC. It's always amazed me how John McCain (and pundits *cough Tom Friedman cough*) have been pulling dates out of thin air for years, and it never damages their credibility with the larger media.

John McCain has been shamefully arrogant with his rationale and support for extending this war, never expecting to be held accountable because the media loves him.

PA College Republicans to Exploit 9/11

[UPDATED: 7/14/08] The PACRs have responded to the criticisms, and we have responded to them. See here.

[UPDATED: 7/11/08] The college Republican's have as of now added Labor Day, Veterans Day, and Pearl harbor Day to their calendar. They have not removed 9/11 Day. The Google cache is still displaying the old version, available here.

I know, Republicans looking to exploit 9/11 for political game is a "Dog bites man" story, but as this time it's the PA College Republicans, on our own turf, I thought was worth highlighting.

Last week the PA CR's unveiled their new website, and naturally I checked it out. Nothing particularly exciting, though I was disappointed that their chapter list contained only email contacts, not blogs or websites that would undoubtedly have been pretty funny.