December 14, 2007

Philanthopist Helps Future College Students in Maine

Assuming it's good for the country to have as many educated people, then what are we doing to provide equality of opportunity? OK, money and social status provide more access, and opportunities. But, should it come down to these qualities? Or, should we give chances to those who cannot afford to go to college to do so? Shouldn't commitment and skills take precedent over money?

I don't think every high school student is ready or willing to pursue their studies further, but there are many who just can't because the cost is so high. Not only tuition has risen greatly but--let's not forget--during the years attending college a student cannot earn as much as someone who doesn't have the burden of a full academic load.

A couple presidential candidates have floated the idea that every American upon birth should get a bond in their name, say, $1,000, which will accrue interest for 18 years, or until the person goes to school, usually with a cut-off limit by age 30. This can only be used to help defray the costs of attending higher ed schools. Obviously this is not a solution to the problem, but it helps. It's an investment that the country should make, something like the GI Bill for WW2 veterans.

It makes economic sense too, because educated people tend to earn more money, pay less taxes, and are less likely to be a public charge. It's estimated that for every dollar our government spent for the GI Bill, it got three in return. But, as it is the case for many things, it's hard to spend up front in order to save later. Our health care system is a prime example of this. We don't have universal health care coverage, people don't get preventive care, no early detection, and the result is more expensive (and often futile) treatments later.

Anyway, in the spirit of endowment for the future, a benefactor in Maine is giving $500 towards a college education to every child born in Maine! Harold Alfond, who died recently, founded the Dexter Shoe Company in Maine, and later his foundation that will manage the grants. This tax-free savings account will be available to Maine newborns--about 14,000 in 2006--starting in 2009. It's estimated that, with current numbers, the foundation will spend some $7 million per year. There are plans for raising the contributions and grants levels to cover increased college costs in the future.

Philanthropist Alfond never went to college.

November 13, 2007

President Bush: No More Money for Education. But Money's No Object for Pentagon

While the president was busy shooting down a Congressional bill that would provide more money for education and healthcare, he signed on to Pentagon's huge increase in "non-war" spending.

The message is clear: spend more--as much as it takes--on the military, but let's keep as many Americans as possible in poverty, near poverty, and largely uneducated so they can see enlisting in the armed forces as a good option for them. It's a win-win situation. No?

Rep. David Obey, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, pounced immediately on Bush's veto.

"This is a bipartisan bill supported by over 50 Republicans," Obey said. "There has been virtually no criticism of its contents. It is clear the only reason the president vetoed this bill is pure politics."

Of course, it's a matter of priorities--something that we haven't really discussed as a country--when it comes to spending & borrowing. There is also a transfer of wealth during this administration, no less as a result of the decision to invade & occupy Iraq. This ill-advised war of choice will cost several trillion dollars [calculated for the direct outlays, the interest on the debt, wear & tear of equipment, and future healthcare benefits to injured veterans].
Education is perhaps the most important tool a person has to advance themselves. Call it a step into the equality of opportunity. Oh, and yes, more educated people are better equiped to understand and evaluate the arguments politicians like Bush make. Heck, we might even make better politics in the future. But, smarter politics depends on smarter people!

October 26, 2007


Do you want to join the US armed forces? Many Americans do just that for a host of reasons, ranging from patriotism to employment. But the way our armed forces have been used by the political leadership leaves much to be desired. Do you think we need disclaimers like with other products that may have severe side effects?

September 27, 2007

What Makes a Person Old Enough to Drink?

What Kind of Demands & Restrictions are Reasonable?

It seems to me that if a person is old enough to go to war, vote & get elected, buy guns, and legally do all sorts of things like other adults, then he/she should be able to have a drink as well. Unfortunately, this is one issue that reason does not prevail when we're talking about it.

In the New Hampshire Democratic debate (9/26), six of the 8 presidential candidates want the federal government to apply pressure on the states not to let young people under 21 to legally consume alcohol. I think this is stupid, not only on the grounds I mentioned above, but also because it doesn't stop anyone from using or abusing alcohol--a readily available legal product--that, by the way, kills more that, say, marijuana.

The federal government gives money to the states for their transportation needs, such as highway maintenance & construction, so Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Richardson, and Dodd all want to deny federal funds to states that don't have a 21 years old restriction! Only Kusinich and Gravel basically said that such policy is ridiculous. These two got the applause, as most people in the audience approved.

In the 2006 ground-shaking
election--when the control of Congress changed back to the Democrats after 12 years of Republican rule--the younger voters (those under 25) participated in record numbers. I was elated to see this and I hope the trend continues. Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, and the Democratic party in 2006, received the majority of the young people's votes. This voting block was solidly Democratic, much more than other groups. A reasonable question is, why the Democratic presidential candidates--with the exception of the two least popular ones--don't feel the pressure to reverse such a discriminatory policy? Which pressure groups or what popular sentiment prevents them from accepting that an 18 year old that has all sorts of rights should also be able to consume alcohol?

However, young people are also rather marginal when it comes to voting. Even though there's been a 20% increase in participation lately, 76% of young Americans do not vote! Yes, this is not a misprint. Yes, it went down from 80% of non-voters, but the abstention rate is way too high.

Of course, sane and practical public policy should be the standard, but we all know it doesn't work like this. Right? Emotions, and, more often, misinformation rule the day. Why shouldn't we have a discussion whether this particular federal policy has a measurable effect on public safety. If it does, and we see that the mix of driving and alcohol is a deadly one, then why limit the restrictions to only one particular group?

I don't know about you, but if a young adult is about to be sent to Iraq tomorrow to kill & be killed, having a beer tonight seems very reasonable to me. What do you think?
[Take the poll on the right side of page]

September 19, 2007

The Millennial Generation's Progressive Outlook

School has started and, as it happens in my classes, we get to discuss current events and the important issues facing our country. There are some worrisome signs and some encouraging ones. Worrisome in the sense that people in fear or in crisis may react in ways that actually change those conditions (or the reasons) that made our country great. This new generation is not immune from this threat. For example, there isn't an urgency (as much as I'd like to see anyway) regarding the incremental intrusions into our civil liberties by our government in the name of national security. Young people, by definition, haven't had the experiences of the past, thus, serious abuses [like the interment of US citizens of Japanese ancestry, the McCarthy witch-hunts, etc.] haven't been felt, while the current ones haven't sank in yet.

Yet, over all, I think the millennium (or millennial)
generation--those who come of age at the cusp of the new century--is probably more promising than the one that preceded it.

Every generation has to deal with important issues and big challenges, but this one is marked by the "war on terror" which includes the attacks on 9-11, and the Bush presidency. I believe that the country made a terrible mistake by giving power to this small man--most likely the worst president in US history--because the bad policies of his administration will haunt this & future generations. It was a missed opportunity for America to start the new millennium on the right path and sensible plans for the future. Instead, the new president will have no margin for error in foreign & domestic policies. It seems that every generation, 25 years or so, the US does something really stupid. It's up to the millennials not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The younger people tend to have more progressive attitudes; the Democrats may benefit from this trend.

I do think that our politics is equally dominated by personalities as much as people's party affiliation and ideology. However, the basic core ideological tenets--or, if you like, the pursued public policies--as expressed by our two major political groups Democrats & Republicans. The Democratic agenda has found a wider acceptance among the younger (under 30) US citizens.

Take a look at the chart [produced by Democracy Corps; its site has more info], and check out the Harvard Institute of Politics polling data [here, in pdf]. If you want to read more about the so-called millennials at the New Politics Institute, go here. [includes a pdf download on the progressive attitudes of younger Americans]

This millennial generation is trending away from the Republican party. As things stand today in the presidential field, the Republican candidates couldn't be farther from the core preferences of this generation. Of course, the Republican primary voters are a different beast, so the candidates obviously reflect this sentiment over all. Although, even within the broader Republican base, the presidential candidates are out of touch when it comes to ending the failed occupation in Iraq.

Several conservatives have replied that younger people always tend to be more radical until they ..grow up. I don't subscribe to this theory. People can change their minds at any time--depending on the circumstances, life experiences, availability of leadership, etc. However, certain core beliefs are formed rather earlier in a person's life. If, say, people under 30 believe that same-sex marriage is OK, I don't see why they'd change their mind and support all those laws denying same rights to every American. Likewise, for a host of other issues, i.e., the environment, heath care, education, etc. We also know that if a person votes for a particular political party 3 times or more before he/she's 30, they stay with this party in the years to come.

Next year, the Millennial voters will be 50 million. By 2016, they'll be 1/3 of the electorate. I am a liberal-progressive not because I happened to pick a team and sticking with it, but because it makes sense. Many of the issues we're facing today could be easily solved if more people used sense and an analytical mind instead of following their ..gut. Wanting to believe in something [yeah, we've all been there.... Remember failed relationships?] when all evidence pointed to the opposite direction, or, when people just accept something that makes them feel good without any supporting evidence.

Anyway, the bottom line: there's ground for optimism, much of it comes from the signs that Millenials are civic-minded, politically engaged, and hold values long associated with progressives, such as concern about economic inequalities, smarter & multilateral foreign policy, and that government can be an instrument for a fairer society.
[from the New Politics Institute]

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ” Kurt Vonnegut

September 08, 2007

Another Good Step in Making Higher Ed more Accessible

Obviously education is very important, as we can't have a prosperous country without educated people. It's a new reality out there, so we better do something today--to invest for our future. If anything this country stood for, it was equality--equality in front of the law, and equality of opportunity.

Higher education should be easily accessible to all Americans, but how do you do that? One way is to make it less costly, or, at least, make it affordable. Congress did the right thing by passing a $20 billion bill that will boost student aid. President Bush is expected to sign it into law soon. This is the biggest tuition assistance since WW II.

You can click the link [in the title above, and here] for more information. Essentially, this new legislation raises
the maximum PELL grant for low-income students from $4,050 to $5,400, and temporarily slashes interest rates on student loans by half.

It also establishes debt-forgiveness programs for graduates who enter certain poorly paid fields such as law enforcement, firefighting, and teaching. According to the Department of Education, the average student now graduates with $19,000 in debt.

The new aid would be funded by a massive cut in subsidies to the scandal-plagued private student loan industry.

May 12, 2007

Some Lessons are Learned very Early in a Person's Life. Yet, Education Should be an Ongoing Experience.

A Commencement is a new beginning. Luck favors the prepared mind.

As another semester draws to a close, some 50% of American students, who began their studies four to six years ago, are participating in commencement ceremonies. Far too many students aren't graduating, and far too many never enter a higher education institution. The cost of tuition and student loans have become more expensive. As a country we have to re-evaluate whether access to health care and education should be a privilege or a right.

Conversely, I've seen many students squander their opportunities to attend and graduate college. There are many reasons for this--from not being able to afford the financial burden, to balancing work & school, to improper attitude. What pains me is that the latter is something within the control of the student and, thus, it's a self-imposed limitation. I've seen far too many bright kids who fail, because they are not serious enough about undertaking a long project and see it to its completion. They are often resistant to accepting direction and help from faculty. Obviously, these are young people and are entitled to making mistakes, and deserve second chances, but any young adult has to be able to be a quick learner, to adopt to the circumstances, and prevail. The so-called real world often is much harsher and doesn't offer repeated chances to success.

I attended a college of the City University of New York (CUNY) and I was very grateful that I was able to attend, learn, and earn a couple degrees. It was also a commuter college where most of the students had jobs and many did take more than four years to complete their degrees. But, the attitude was different than the attitude I've observed at two colleges [one for profit and one non profit] for several years; I've seen too many students having a rather casual attitude today that I had never seen when I was a student. High school contributes to shaping the character of many students; yet, it prepares them poorly to tackle academic subjects.

There's another issue besides what someone learns by reading and absorbing in the classroom. Proper habits and proper attitude are perhaps more important. Unfortunately, too many young people who enter college lack those skills, and are not quick to revise bad habits. Every time I walk into a classroom, I know that half of my students will not graduate! I tell them so--hoping that they would do whatever they can not to fall into this category. I see it as my mission as well. I spend class time talking about the need for proper attitude: meeting deadlines, being serious, doing more than the bare minimum, being creative, demonstrating that they can work well within a group, elevate the quality of their group by being good contributors, taking a long project and complete it, being able to accept instruction, and see this experience as a good & fun event in their lives. Skills a person develops in college are great skills to take to the professional world out there.

Unfortunately, bad habits sometimes prevail, setting the tone from day one. Why a student can have an adversarial attitude toward the teacher is beyond me--and I know it is not a winning strategy. We faculty are not there to make students miserable or to make them fail. On the contrary. In places I've taught, the vast majority of faculty do take an active interest in the progress of their students. There are other higher education institutions--mostly research universities--where undergrad students rarely see their professors, and many courses are taught by TAs, grad students, or adjuncts. I think this is not right. I have certain views on what being a teacher is about that run contrary to practices in several learning institutions. I believe that contributing to knowledge and expanding the horizons of a particular field is not uni-directional. Both research and transmission of knowledge (including the excitement of learning new things) to students are necessary, and there should be a distinction between a scholar and a teacher. The problem is that many colleges confuse the two.

But, learning how to swim also requires attention, following the instructions, and practicing. I'm happy to see that many students do grab this opportunity to learn, develop the necessary skills, and to elevate themselves into the leaders of tomorrow. We need more of them. We need to re-think our strategy and the mission of what a higher education should be. Harvard University, among many, is now trying to change the way it educates its students, because a great school should not be primarily judged by the number of bright minds on its faculty (who do research but are otherwise inaccessible to the students); nor should it be judged for its ability to find jobs for the students.

It's good for America to produce smarter, truly educated people; it's good for our economy, for our politics, and for the whole world, since the US is a global leader. The earlier we begin to educate our children the better. It begins at home, with the development of proper attitude towards learning, with good study habits, and with parents being true mentors not just disciplinarians! Education--which is more than reading books--should not be an adversarial exercise but a good and desirable objective for every person.

February 22, 2007

The Judiciary Branch and its Future

By Victoria Rodriguez, Andrew Williams, Justin Grant, Jeanette Lindsay, and Nadia Chit-Montiel

The United States constitution provides protection for its citizens of the United States. As college students we must realize that almost every decision the Supreme Court makes affects us whether or not it is today or in the future. Using Social Security as an example, our generation’s children may suffer because of the lack of stability within the Social Security System. With two new Supreme Court justices sworn into the supreme court in the past three years the Supreme Court is rapidly changing.

As college students we should understand that the Supreme Court interprets the constitution which is the law of the land and whoever interprets the Constitution controls the law. The nine members on the Supreme Court are the some of the most powerful people in the United States and the World as well. Many articles can be found regarding the rivalries amongst the judges and certain agendas that the judges sometimes push because of a falling out with another judge. Although it is human nature to have arguments and disagreement as an American citizen, and we must have the utmost respect for the Supreme Court, we can not help but be fearful of the amount of power they have.

Another example of a very big issue regarding the Judiciary system is whether or not it should protect foreigners and/or allow them of the same "rights" American citizens hold. Guantanamo prisoners have lost their right to appear in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and federal judges. There are about 395 detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba, with the first prisoner arriving more than five years ago following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Following the current situation of Guantanamo Bay detainees, the U.S. Appeals Court has decided to uphold with President George W. Bush’s reasoning behind the methods used to coerce those prisoners.

Barring detainees from the U.S. court system was a key provision in the Military Commissions Act, which Bush pushed through Congress last year to set up a system to prosecute terrorism suspects. The detainees appealed stating that foreigners held in the U.S. normally have the right to contest detention. However, the Justice department states that the United States’ Constitution does not protect foreign enemy combatants. The United States federal appeals court, on Tuesday, February 20, 2007, ruled to uphold a key provision in President Bush's anti-terrorism law. This ruling has become increasingly discerning considering what most of us know occurred within the Guantanamo Bay prison system. The ruling will most likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, which last year struck down the Bush administration's original plan for trying detainees before military commissions.

Considering that the law allows the government to indefinitely detain foreigners who have been declared as "enemy combatants" and authorizes the CIA to use aggressive but undefined interrogation tactics, civil libertarians and leading Democrats decried the law as unconstitutional and a violation of American values. The Supreme Court must now face the question as to whether or not these "American values" are valid across borders and cultures and should be permitted to determine who are our "enemy combatants." The question is one that seems to be growing in the back of everyone’s mind as our world becomes less personal on a daily basis. The Supreme Court must now decide whether it is the Supreme Court of America ensuring American’s civil liberties or if it is also a median that can be used on a global scale to provide the same liberties when foreigners are on US territory.

Another largely discussed topic within the Judiciary Branch, which concerns all Americans alike, is the relatively new Patriot Act. Respectively so, this act was implemented under the Bush administration in order to expand the FBI’s investigative powers. Many concerns have been raised over the fact that the act basically steps on and reverses many previous acts and provisions which were meant to protect the privacy rights of Americans. According to, EPIC standing for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Patriot Act includes, but is not limited to, amendments to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act , the Bank Secrecy Act, the Right to Financial Privacy Act , and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The courts influence on this act is stilted for many reasons.

While the Courts technically can make decisions which would weaken the Patriot Act in following suits, it is known that if the Judiciary branch were to go against acts created by the very people that gave them their positions it would create great havoc throughout the Government. In times like these most Government officials support the fact that a strong and seemingly stable government is increasingly important. Also, many of the FBI’s uses of the Patriot Act are difficult to track and produce strong factual evidence about. It is very difficult to argue against an Act which basically turns the courts up-side-down by giving such weight to the intentions of the FBI. What the Patriot Act does is give the FBI the ability to act on hunches and less than worthy tips from various sources. As long as the FBI can say that they’re intentions were for the good of the nation, they are protected by the act whether or not the disruption they placed in the lives’ of victims (suspects) caused can be fixed.

There definitely is hope for our Government and for our Judiciary system. Even though many of the decisions that courts make can be viewed as week, this hope can be seen in the occasions where the Supreme Court steps up big by demanding the government to produce overwhelming evidence towards their cases before approving of their actions or disproving of them. Also, hope can be seen in the fact that many of the organizations out there, like EPIC, which are fighting for our rights, are being heard. The times we are in right now are very sensitive and complicated. It is hard to decipher when our government is doing what is best for us and when it is not. There will be many decisions made which may seem erroneous to us but as a matter of truth, we do not have all the facts that the government has. We have to leave our safety in the hands of our Government and our Judiciary system.

February 21, 2007

Clinton and the Envrionment

By Jared Taylor

Concern for the environment should be a major topic in the 2008 elections, but will it be discussed among the candidates?

Global warming is occurring and who ever takes the presidency must address this foremost issue, because we only have one planet and we must take care of it. On the side of the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is considered the front runner and her position on the environment will in part make or break her run for the presidency.

As a New York State junior senator, Clinton worked on the Environment and Public Works Committee, where she fought to clean up New York’s air and water. Clinton has also worked on creating a balanced energy policy that would see more jobs created in the alternative fuel industry as well as create cleaner, more reliable energy.

Combating global warming requires that these steps are taken. The government must look to alternative fuels while at the same time spurring economic activity. Clinton’s energy policies while a senator have crafted a nice platform for her in her run to the presidency. She has created a solid foundation for her energy policy inthe White House. To quote from Hillary Clinton’s state senator website on climate change:

Given the scientific evidence that we have and the potential consequencesof continued warming, I strongly believe this nation needs to take sensible first steps to slow and ultimately reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to climate change.

Clinton goes on to say that she supports investment in renewable energy, but she also states that in order to reduce emissions we must allow the free markets to act and that the government should not interfere. Clinton offers promising ideas on fighting global climate change. If she was elected president, I believe that she would propose legitimate energy policies that would do the world some good.

Giuliani and McCain on Iraq and the Election

By Ben Volen, Gary Tiratsuyan, John Wayhausen, and Courtney Shannon

The Iraq War is sure to be a major topic of debate during the course of the 2008 Presidential election, and it has already taken center stage among the issues the candidates are discussing. The Republican candidates are likely to have slightly different opinions on how to go forward with the war as they try to distinguish their campaigns from their primary opponents. In some ways this has already begun. According to the February 14, 2007 New York Times article, "Giuliani's Iraq Views May Provide Cover," by Richard Perez-Pena, Giuliani has set himself apart from opponents John McCain and Mitt Romney by stating that the deployment of 21,500 additional troops to Iraq may not work, and that neither victory nor defeat in Iraq will determine our overall success in the war against terrorism. However, he does support the war itself. In contrast, front-runner Sen. John McCain has taken a very strong stand supporting the Iraq War in an attempt to gain the support of conservative Republican primary voters. According to the February 18, 2007 New York Times article, “No Retreat on Iraq Stance, McCain Insists,” by Adam Nagourney, McCain has been strongly emphasizing his support for the war while campaigning in Iowa for the caucus there. So while McCain has made the war a central part of his campaign, Giuliani has been focusing his message on the long-term war on terror. One thing is certain - new developments in the Iraq War will undoubtedly have a major impact on the campaigns of all of the Republican candidates.

Rudy Giuliani on Iraq

Rudy Giuliani strongly believed and still believes that the War in Iraq was necessary and right. He does not believe however, that President Bush handled the situation correctly. The former Mayor of New York City believes that a quick pulling of our troops from Iraq will result in more terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Rudy Giuliani believes that the liberation of the Iraqi people is something that all Americans should be proud of doing. Removing an evil dictator was the right thing to do. As we all know, Rudy Giuliani became the face of New York and some even say the entire nation for at least two to three days after the attacks of September 11th. Rudy Giuliani said he would personally execute Osama Bin Laden for the attacks. It is because of this attitude and the image that clung to him that Giuliani can gain the votes of the conservatives. If the main issue in 2008 is Iraq, then Giuliani can stress how it was he who took care of New York and it will be he who can successfully complete the mission at hand and bring home our troops. Giuliani favored the recent call by President Bush to increase the number of troops in Iraq. As the Presidential race for 2008 approaches, Giuliani is going to have a tough time proving that staying in Iraq is the right decision when all Democrats are going to stress is immediate withdrawal.

Rudy Giuliani and the Election

However, Rudy Giuliani faces a significant amount of difficulty in the up-coming election. His social policies are not inline with the majority of the Republican party, and are certainly too liberal for those who vote in the primaries. His extra marital affairs and three wives lead some to believe that he is immoral. He may be liked here in New York, and perhaps most of the North East, but how is he going to successfully appeal to Republican voters in the Bible Belt?

Secondly, he did a lot for New York City during 9/11 (especially considering the actions of President Bush), but many who were once grateful of Giuliani’s actions now see him as an opportunist. He is capitalizing on the events of 9/11. His approval and popularity rose significantly after the attacks, and now he is using the events of September 11, 2001 as his political platform.

Giuliani is going to have to put up a tough fight if he is even going to get past the Republican Primaries.

John McCain on Iraq

Senator McCain has taken the stance in his campaign very early on, that if we desire to have long-term success in Iraq, we must invest in more troops. McCain lists in his website,More troops are necessary to clear and hold insurgent strongholds; to provide security for rebuilding local institutions and economies; to halt sectarian violence in Baghdad and disarm Sunni and Shia militias; to dismantle al Qaeda; to train the Iraqi Army; and to embed American personnel in Iraqi police units." McCain seems to be a very "militarily aware" candidate as he specifically voices on his website. He discussed on the site that the military should create a better counter insurgency strategy, including the concentration of troops where there are the greatest populations of the citizens.

McCain also believes that we as the United States have the responsibility of strengthening the Iraqi military and police forces. He believes that, "Ultimately, Iraq's future lies in the hands of its people, government, and armed forces, and strengthening them is an essential requirement for bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq."

Recently during the 2007 "State of the Union" speech, President Bush asked Congress for the addition of 21,500 American troops to deploy to Iraq. Most of the Congressional members were highly critical and against Bush's new strategy. However, John McCain defended it, stating that it would be "difficult but necessary."

Senator McCain may be one of few political leaders who support the troop escalation, but he stands firm. In and interview with Larry King he boldly declared, "I would much rather lose an election than lose a war." Senator McCain believes that a triumphant win may not be an option, but success in Iraq is certainly not something he is willing to compromise.

John McCain and the Election

Is John McCain’s plan wise? Recent polling suggests that an overwhelming majority of Americans do not support a troop surge. Iraq is a very serious and significant issue, but Senator McCain is making it his only issue. He is isolating himself from swing voters and isolating himself from the GOP with his stance on other issues. He supported a state ban on gay marriage, but did not support a Constitutional amendment. He does not think that immigration laws should force illegal aliens to leave the country. He did not support a White House backed tax cut policy, and singed a campaign finance reform act many of his cohorts do not agree with. His moderate views do not appeal to the majority of Republicans, nor his opponents.

His critics now hold many political offices, particularly in Maricopa County. An article in the New York Times, by Jennifer Steinhauer says,

“Their passion about the immigration issue, their flirtations with other candidates and their persistent harping underscore the skepticism about Mr. McCain that already exists among many hard-line conservatives here and around the nation” (February 17, 2007).

Clearly, if McCain seeks to gain the full support of his party he is going to have to work much harder to dispel beliefs that he is too much of a centrist.

Current Items on the President's Agenda

By Jenna Steigerwald, Ben Ogden,Steven Parris Samuels, Dov Magit, and Matthew Martise

The President, as head of the executive branch, plays a significant role in creating America's laws. He approves the laws that Congress creates, along with approving bills which the Senate and the House approve. The President's role is quite extenuating, dealing with duties encompassing various sides of political topics. There is no doubt the role of the President is very difficult and his choices have very serious ramifications on both political and practical levels. The Presidential group therefore examines recent headlines pertaining to his agenda, these are: leakage of information, the threat of Iran's nuclear program, the war in Iraq, and the United States' military spending and nuclear treaty non-compliance.

President Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to have the ability of listening to phone communications without a warrant. Americans have seemed to be divided on this subject. A survey conducted January 20-22, 2007, found that half of Americans believed this wiretapping with no court order, was wrong. However, for tests like these, answers could highly depend on the order in which the words appear, and how they appear (i.e. "average Americans" versus "suspected terrorists) With all the calls Bush has been making, is it wrong not to trust the Bush Administration to use good judgment with wiretapping of our digital communication system? Is it the cost of our civil liberties and privacy which we need to sacrifice in the name of freedom and safety? This is the Administration that has constantly lied about important matters of U.S. policy, including the infamous fear of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Could this wiretapping be a way of gaining information from unsuspecting citizens to for political purposes and power gains? All evidence points too the word, "Yes."

If we are to indulge the “yes” answer, and most would agree to one extent or the other, then let me explain how President Bush may be looking at this. The United States is the only one that seems to be pressing the issue of nuclear weapons in Iran. Why us, because the European nations are much too connected with Iran to force the hand and suffer the repercussions. They are connected in many ways. The first being the trading of oil, Iran’s biggest export. Also the imports of European goods into Iran. This would include raw materials for buildings (i.e. skyscrapers), technology to further the economy, ammunition for defense, and trained skills men with know how of all of these things. Also, the European nations have recently had an influx of Muslims into their territories. Even though they are still the minority, they are growing in number and well diverse across Europe. If certain European nations went to war with Iran over nuclear weapons, they would almost certainly have civil wars in many of their countries. This is why every now and then the European nations will agree with the United States and say they are worried about the nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, the only acceptable solution so far agreed upon is for Iran to come up with compromises to everyone, but this only prolongs the process, and gets us nowhere. They say they will stop making their nuclear weapons if all of the other nations stop and cease theirs. In fact, just this past weekend Iran said they announced they would discontinue their development of nuclear weapons if the western civilization stops their development of nuclear research as well. We all know this will never happen, and most importantly, Iran knows this will never happen as well.

Over the past year the nation of Iran has been pushing the development of their nuclear program. This program has been questioned as to whether the nation is attempting to enrich uranium for a civil use or to create weapons of mass destruction. Soon after it became evident that Iran was working on a nuclear program the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Security Council have been asking Iran to halt there nuclear development program. Recently Iran has refused both organizations plea’s to discontinue there development.

On Monday, President Bush declared that force is not necessarily required to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons. Bush has said that his goal is to keep the Iranians from having the capability and knowledge to have a nuclear weapon. There have been reports stating that Bush and the United States government have plans for a military attack against Tehran, the capital of Iran. Bush and his administration do not refute that “normal” military planning is underway. Several reports claim that President Bush and his administration have been studying options of military strikes, one of these being the possibility of a nuclear strike against Iran’s underground nuclear sites. President Bush claims that the use of nuclear weapons is just a wild speculation, but left it at that. President Bush still supports his decision to include Iran in the Axis of Evil and is enthusiastic that many other nations have now come to the conclusion that Iran should not have the ability to posses a nuclear weapon. The Bush administration contends that additional weight of the Security Council would push Iran to be more cooperative with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and relinquish their nuclear program.

The debacle that is the Iraq War has taken another twist, as of Tuesday February 20th, 2007, British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has stated that he will be announcing benchmarks for gradual troop withdrawals from Iraq because he believes that the situation in his zone has improved enough to relinquish more control to the Iraqis. This decision is occurring as the U.S. is concurrently sending more troops over and debating about recalling the troops gradually this year also. The Iraq War continues to be extremely unpopular in the U.S. as President Bush continues to over exercise his executive powers by blatantly ignoring the will of his citizens to end the war as quickly as possible. Hopefully, the Congressional non-binding resolution, which advocates setting benchmarks for withdrawal (much like the British plan), will not be ignored by the President.

All nations must keep in mind is that it no longer takes a $700+ billion military and arms program for nations to destroy one another and cause a complete world catastrophe. This is not a matter that has been overlooked, however, by the United Nations (UN) and it is for this reason that the UN has created agreements such as the Nuclear Weapons: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Furthermore it is more than ironic that the United States uses agreements such as the latter and guidelines set forth by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), when the U.S. violates international law on this matter on a daily basis. If the U.S. was truly concerned about “weapons of mass destruction” making their way to the “axis of evil” maybe the U.S. should cease being the number one producer of nuclear weapons in the world. Or perhaps that would not fit the steller economic tract we are currently on?

On the issues stated in this paper President Bush's policy and action are clearly seen as lacking. An underlying theme to these issues seems to be one of mistrust on the part of the people and of an eagerness to fulfill the President's own agenda, sometimes forsaking planning and ethical judgment. It is not too late however, the President can still act in a more socially conscious way by first listening to the will of his citizens by detaching the U.S. from foreign affairs, secondly by reversing the policies of allowing the government's intelligence agencies to invade the privacy of ordinary citizens, and finally to honor the U.S.' commitment to peace by reducing military spending. After these things are accomplished the prestige lost during his term might return to a country that has lost its way.

February 20, 2007

Simulated Interview with Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the 110th Congressional Agenda

By Kristina Longhitano, Antonella Leone, Jaclyn Bunch, and Tom Immich

With the current shift in power within Congress what will you, as leader of the House, do for the following two years to assure progress?

Nancy Pelosi: The time for change has arrived and with this change comes a new agenda. Over the next two years, the Democratic majority in the House will seek to fight for the people, advance science, reform the House, and keep our homes safe.

We have just begun our term in office and have already proven our dedication to the people. Recently we have pushed through a raise in national minimum wage. We remain true to our goals to benefit the common man. This raise in minimum wage will not only help those in needs but it will also stimulate the economy. This assistance is only the first out of many that we Democrats will push through. Among the other financial/ economic issues we plan to provide more funding for college tuition. It is essential that we provide for our future generations.

In the same vein of progress it is essential that we proceed in scientific research as well. Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. They serve as a kind of “repair system” for the body and can divide to replenish other cells. They are beneficial to human life and can help to cure certain childhood diseases and cancer. However in the recent past there has been a lot of opposition to exploring this area of science.

Even though stem cell research has many benefits, President Bush has not approved the study of stem cells and consequently denies hope to millions of Americans. Therefore now that the Democratic Party has gained power in Congress, we will push through the study of stem cell research. We have come to this decision because our party feels that the research will be beneficial to society because it can in fact save lives and cure diseases, leading to healthy and productive citizens.

In order to make these necessary changes, we need a change within Congress as well. The House has fallen apart internally and has failed to adequately investigate issues regarding our own representatives. A well-known case of this failure is the recent findings of the Mark Foley scandal. Mark Foley was the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. Foley was caught e-mailing and instant-messaging pages and former pages. These messages were disgraceful and it is not how people in our highest ranks of government should be acting. This is a false representation of our people and changes need to be made. We aim not only to protect our pages, but to ensure that our representatives are not being distracted by matters that are not simply immoral, but extremely unprofessional as well.

Not only are there issues with our representatives, but with lobbying groups in Congress also. During 2006 Jack Abramoff involved some big-name Republican representatives, like Tom Delay and Bob Ney with lobbying schemes that allowed for them to make easy money. We must change lobbying regulations and clean up our Congress people. With these changes and more we can create a better Congress that listens to the people and keeps our citizens safe.

In order to keep our citizens truly safe though, we must implement the recommendations put forth by the 9/11 Commission. We recently wrote legislation that will cover key areas in relation to the report. The major parts of the bill are to “scrutinize all air-borne cargo (within three years) and all ship-borne cargo (within five years), send more federal aid to areas of the country at the greatest risk of a terrorist attack, improve emergency communications, fight nuclear proliferation overseas, and strengthen a civil liberties watchdog board” [Congresspedia (source)]. However, though not all areas of the report are covered in this legislation, the heads of the 9/11 commission are in agreement with our actions. This bill was passed in the House on January 10, 2007, but it is still expected to receive some opposition in the Senate.

These promises I back with my word. The Democrats of the House will provide for the people, for the time of change has come.

President for the People

By W. Michaels

Let me begin by first not making any promises about when & where things will be changed, but however giving you my word that I will do my very best to grant Americans & others peace & prosperity within my terms in office and for our future generations. With my number one objective being to take control of the situation over in the Middle East, mainly dealing with Iraq/Iran and Israel, and to bring home the soldiers that have supported the United States and have fought in our name.

Though we have had several incidents within our own homeland, which were act’s of “Terrorism” we cannot hold an entire country or religion responsible for such acts! So we need to open our arms an embrace other countries that need assistance with famine and disease and other natural disaster’s. Building the support with our allies & making new bonds with other nations should be an imperative part of our country's foreign policy. Further, it is important to protect our national security, but give people back their basic rights of freedom (tapping of phones/questioning without lawyer).

The following issues are important, and I would like you, the American public to know my stance on them, so that you may make informed decisions as citizens of this nation.

TAXES: Tax cuts for the working & middle class, with an (+) increase of taxes on the Big Businesses & the rich. Education within the inner cities and tax cuts for those that need assistance sending their children to the proper institutions.

SOCIAL PROGRAMS: Medicare & Social Security need to be reformed with the importance of taking care of the elderly and sick, long term. Assistance from local & state government to help those affected by the devastating Hurricane Katrina; rebuilding the state of Louisiana, and helping those that lost property and all of their belongings.

CLIMATE CHANGE: This administration has ignored this issue of climate change. Global warming is a fact, and as responsible global citizens we need to address the issue of global warming!

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The criminal justice system also needs to be corrected! There are a lot of innocent people incarcerated within the prisons that need there just due a fair and bias justice system.

These are just a few of the improvements that I would work on if appointed into office as your next president, eventually to be re-elected for the following term and continue in making America a major impact in decision making throughout the world.

Thank you and good night!

February 13, 2007

America’s Long-Awaited Community Conversations

By Nadia Chit-Montiel

My fellow Americans, today I am announcing my decision to run as a candidate for the 2008 presidential elections. I feel that the time has come to get a different perspective of our great nation and we need to give ourselves the opportunity to find different solutions to our problems. I am asking you to join me, not solely as Americans, but as members of a great community that embraces the benefits our nation reaps on a daily basis. It is time for change and although some say not all change is good; I like to say you never know until you try.

We need to look at our issues at hand on a macro and micro-scale. Something we have been avoiding to admit and do for the past six years. We must evaluate the gender gap that is becoming wider on a daily basis. We must look at the values of our nation and the American Dream, because last I checked it is slowly dying.

Our future generations are growing up in a world that older members may say is impersonal and their generation calls freedom. We are “witnessing the Creolization of media” and with this we are loosing the traditions that we pride ourselves on. At the same time we are all gaining information at a speed we never imagined. The growth in technology is causing us to loose sight of the summer days in July playing baseball and catching fireflies while we wait for the ice cream truck. At the same time we are capable of finding multiple solutions in a matter of seconds, it’s taking the time from our hectic lives to find these solutions which now seems to be the problem.

We are submersing ourselves into being a nation that watches life on the sidelines instead of going out and experiencing it. We are loosing the battle against fear, fear that has been imposed upon us in the name of national security and patriotism. We must reevaluate these situations and find a way to regain the sense of community on a local and national level.

There is a growing disparity among our population in many sectors.

My fellow citizens, as members of any group, it is said that we are only as strong as those who lead us! In which case I ask you, what problems will our future generations face? What resources are we leaving behind to aid them? What happened to our fireside chats and learning from our elders? Then again when did our elders stop listening to the needs of our future? We have become an irresponsible, negligent, and unapproachable nation. We must learn that we cannot meddle in everyone’s business until we figure out what we have done wrong at home and fix it. Once we fix it, then and only then can we decide to help other nations reach our caliber. And if we do make that decision, then we must make a conscious effort to help them in the long run not just up until the point it is convenient to us.

I know I have said that we are a nation, the American community, but I would like to remind you that we are also part of a global community and our acts both on and off shore have long-term consequences. We must begin to re-educate ourselves on the issues that affect our nation and our global communities, and we must begin to foster a healthy dialogue between the different groups that represent our world. I’m not saying I can satisfy everyone’s needs alone, but I know I will try and I know that it will take your active participation on addressing your concerns that will help me better understand you.
A great American literary figure once said “the future becomes the present, the present becomes the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if you don't plan for it!"

On that note America, let us make a deal with each other! Let us agree that the more we learn about each other, the better understanding and capability we have to solve the problems that need reparations. Let us agree that I will take time getting to know you as long as you give yourselves the opportunity to see things not only through my eyes but also through those around us. Let us allow ourselves the opportunity to look back and observe the lives of our neighbors and try to understand them. Let us work together and plan for the OUR future!

America I will walk in your shoes if you promise to do the same. I will pick you up when you’re tired. Let us talk America, let us talk and get to the root of things! Let us not blame others for the bad things in life! Instead let us take action, discuss the issues, find solutions and fix the problems!

Thank you.

February 10, 2007

The People's Candidate, Tom Immich

I am happy to announce that I will be running as a candidate for the 2008 election, and I will represent the Republican Party, however my goal for this election is to represent you, the people! I will try to reach out to everybody and make this presidency the presidency of and for the people, as promised so many years ago! Many people do not know who I am but I am a student at Pace University. I am a political science major and I feel I can lead this country. I may be young, but I am sure I can fix the mistakes of our past presidents.

Now I know our party has heavy abortion policies, however I want to find a middle ground where an abortion can be considered acceptable, at the same time protecting the feelings of those who believe it’s unjust to abort a child for any reason, as many of my supporters would say. For this I will need to do some research within the scientific community and I will strive to make a solution that will work, but I cannot promise that immediately.

I would also like to work on our energy situation. This is very important as many people know because we are having trouble maintaining our energy standards. I will champion using alternative fuels. I will push for advancements in research and I will put more resources into this project. This is a major crisis facing the country that demands immediate attention because the consequences of inaction would be disastrous.

Another thing I want to address is our national debt. We have so much trouble with this we need to control its unprecedented highs. It is becoming too much of a burden and we need to cut costs for some government programs or raise more money. I encourage people to not to worry, this will not result in a tax increase. I want to try and maintain current tax standards, and maybe even lower them if we can.

Our current foreign policy is shattered. There are problems and we have to solve them, now! We have made a huge mistake going into Iraq, and I want to fix this situation. We need to get our troops out of there in a timely fashion, and admit that we cannot win against the Iraqi extremists. What we need to do is simply pull out and admit we were wrong. There is no more hope for Iraq. We must abandon those who want to see democracy thrive in their country. There are too many sects and cults in that territory that they will fight until every last person is dead. This is a harsh reality, however it’s the truth. Staying in there will only further anger the opposition and we will sacrifice American lives. It is not our job to create democracy, but to maintain it. We cannot force change, especially when they feel their system has worked for centuries.

I hope you agree with me. I am very open to suggestions from all people and I will do my best to make this a presidency that works directly for the people, not for myself and personal vendettas. I ask that you nominate me to be the headlining presidential candidate for the Republican Party to lead our country!

Vote for Me 2008: Courtney Shannon

“Good afternoon America. Today I would like to announce that I have formed an exploratory committee for the 2008 Presidential Campaign. This committee will be a grassroots committee, and I personally am calling for your support. Together we can work towards unity, for progress, strength, and courage. We can protect the values that strengthen America and ensure that every American is guaranteed their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This country has patriotically united many times to overcome many obstacles it has faced. Now we must unite with the same enthusiasm with our global allies to overcome challenges.

As part of my announcement to run for President of these United States in 2008, I would like to bring attention to something my opponents are not talking enough about, climate change and global warming. We must bravely resolve the energy crisis, and adapt to climate change, through implementation of current technology, and development of new innovations. We must provide economic incentives to both companies and individuals who use sustainable development practices. We must break our addiction not only to foreign oil, but end our dependence on oil, and invest in our future, by investing in viable alternative solutions. By assuring a healthy planet, we assure a healthy home for the world’s 6.6 billion people.

Further we must fight for human rights and strengthen our commitment to foreign aid, specifically in Darfur, Sudan. We must empower world leaders with the ability to bring an end to the genocide. As a world leader this country must use its power to fight more than terrorists. It’s about time we use our resources to gain respect of the rest of the world.

I do understand terrorism is a serious issue; and as an individual who lost some one in 9/11 I fully understand how overpowering the need for retribution can be. However, our country is in a war that does not have the faith of the American people behind it. When elected, I will ensure that I do not leave a mess for future generations. I will work as hard as possible to get your brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors-our troops, home.

In addition, we must ensure that every American citizen is granted his or her rights and liberties. We must guarantee a decent and affordable education, so that this country can continue to continue to be an economic leader, full of educated and able citizens. We must be able to guarantee healthcare by providing a national health insurance plan. We must develop and strengthen emergency action plans for disaster management, so that horrors like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina do not occur again.

I have great plans for this nation. I urge you to join my campaign. Together, we can unite America.”

Vote for Me 2008: Olivia T. Grey

Good Evening,

It has been a terrible trend of the recent decades for politicians to be masters of the word. The image of a politico talking their way out of a paper bag is one that fills all of our minds. It is for this reason that I will keep my words today short, for I can not prove my dedication to this nation simply through my voice, but it is my actions on which I should be judged. America has for too long been ushered into the phase of the filibuster, it is time that someone in Washington stand up and not speak, but act. Today I am announcing my candidacy for president of these here great states of America. I believe the existence of a strong president who will act upon their word is long over due, and I seek to fill this vacancy. I have spent the last five months traveling to each and every state. I do not plan to play the numbers game, I will not, like past candidates, simply visit those states who have a large number of electorate, because I feel that every person in every state is not only an important, but an essential part of why America is great. We are a country based on the individuals, and it is for every individual that I will run.

It is upon this basis that I seek to reform the way in which Washington works. For too long we have come down to a nation in a culture war. Red states, Blue states…aren’t we all just purple? A nation with individual views and individuals needs requires a president who may cater to all individuals and not be beholden to a rigid party platform. It has come time that we as a nation refuse to vote down the party line, but instead vote for the candidate who can best serve YOU. It is for this reason that I have developed my own platform, aside from that of the party under which I fall, The GOP. My platform may be found on my website.

I urge you all to become educated on the candidates, and I will be seeing you all soon as I continue my trek across this beautiful nation.

February 09, 2007

A New Day in America by Steven Samuels

Dear friends, today we live in uncertain times. The world today is full of problems, uncertainty, and violence. Currently, our position in the world as leaders is being challenged by many and rightfully so. Our leaders in Washington have failed us and in failing us have failed those who look to America as a pillar of the international community.

However, there is still hope, the policies of failure are not irreversible there is still a chance for America to reclaim its position in the world as a champion of democracy, justice, and morality. To do this, we will need a leader that is wise and capable of making hard decisions that will benefit American citizens and will maintain our commitments to our allies. I can be this leader that America needs.

The war in Iraq has been a debacle for the U.S. and I believe that we must rectify the situation as quickly as possible in order to regain the prestige we lost when we started this war. We have long been champions of the international process mainly through the work of the United Nations; I believe that we must once again work within the international community to find the best solution to our problems. Once we rejoin the international process we can begin to heal the divisions caused by our illegal war and reclaim the position we once had amongst nations.

In our age of interdependence we cannot afford to undertake selfish unilateral actions that could lead to destabilization of countries and regions. As responsible global citizens it is our duty to work democratically within the global community towards peace. I thank you, and hope you will vote for a better tomorrow for America.

February 08, 2007

The New Republican Face of America

By Ben Ogden

Good evening America, I am here tonight to inform you that I am running for president of the United States under the Republican Party. I plan to follow many of the current projects and policies made by the current Bush administration. I know that the current administration is not extremely well liked, but our nation needs a new president who will continue what the Bush Administration has proposed.
Our nation went to war in Iraq to destroy Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, yet none were found. However, intervention was needed in the area due to the terrorist cells that continue to be found. I propose to continue our war in Iraq until we are successful. A clear definition of success has yet to be determined. However, not only must we continue our war in Iraq, but we must continue our search for terrorists in Afghanistan. We have had troops deployed in that nation since shortly after the September 11th tragedy, and they will continue to be deployed there until we have assured that any terrorists who want to do harm against the United States have been detained and if necessary, killed. Also nations like Iran and North Korea, nations the U.S. believes have the capability of producing nuclear weapons, need to be addressed. For the past year or so we have attempted to speak to the North Koreans about the termination of there nuclear weapons program, unfortunately they have not complied. We need to assure that these nations will discontinue their nuclear developments. If they do not comply we will use some sort of pressure to ensure that they do as asked. Terrorism against the United States is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by my administration.
Another important issue is that of illegal immigration. At this time there are far too many illegal immigrants entering the United States. We need to develop better border protection, especially along our southern border with the nation of Mexico. This should be done by continuing the project to build a massive wall, continuing to leave National Guardsmen on duty along the border and hiring of private companies to assist the Nation Guardsmen to protect the border. We should allow immigrants into the nation, and allow them to work and receive education, but we must limit our intake. We need these immigrants to work for us to ensure that jobs that Americans do not want to do are fulfilled. These workers should be give permission to work and sent home after a set length of time as to allow all immigrants to work in our fine country.
The new energy program announced by President Bush, although very vague is an important aspect. Although some people, including myself, do not agree that global warming exists we still need to find cheaper forms of energy. Another important program is the health care program for self employed Americans. I like President Bush’s idea and will continue to work based on what he has already put forth.
As I said at the beginning of this announcement I plan on following as much as President Bush’s policy as possible. The ideas I just brought forth are my main plans for our nation under my administration, if elected. I would just like to thank those of you who plan on supporting me. Thank you and goodnight.

February 07, 2007

Vote for Me in 2008: Kristina Longhitano

As many other candidates prepare to announce their plans to run for the presidency in 2008, I feel that I will be the one candidate that stands out amongst the fray. Like Martin Luther King Jr. said once before, “I have a dream,” I too have a dream to try and fix the many problems that we have in this great country of ours.

Some of the ideas and issues that I truly care about and want to fix are the institution of universal health care and universal education, including providing college to graduating high school seniors. I care about fixing environmental issues, curbing global warming, and establishing Fair trade. I will work towards repairing the problematic exportation of U.S. jobs and the difficulty of the U.S. becoming a service economy.

I grew up in a middle class family in New York State, I feel I’ve had a good life and I would like to extend this to everyone in the country. Nowadays, it seems like the lower class and middle class has been forgotten about by the elites, and I intend to change this.

For the last six years George W. Bush has led our country in the wrong direction, but if I’m elected president I will steer our course back on track and restore the integrity of America to the world. I will accomplish these goals by listening to the views of the American people, if they truly feel that something is wrong then we will fix that problem, and not ignore your wishes. In the real U.S., we have a melting pot, not just of cultures but beliefs as well and my issues appeal to everyone whether you are Democrat, Republican, or Independent because these are humanistic values that we all share.

By Kristina Longhitano

February 06, 2007

Speech to the Nation: An International Approach

By Kristina Longhitano

Thank you Mr. President, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to speak to my country. I do enjoy the rights afforded to me in this great country, the most important being the freedom of speech.

Though, in these times it will suffice to say that freedom of speech has been greatly limited because of the fear of terrorism. The United State’s international policy in my mind has become warped. The War in Iraq has become the main focus of our attention. Too much focus is put on fighting an enemy that we are blind to. Instead, we should focus our foreign policy on humanitarian aid. Right now the situation in Iraq is dismal at best. There is no end in sight, Iraq has become this generations’ Vietnam. My proposal is to redirect our international policy back to its original intentions, where we helped countries in need.

A horror that is occurring as we speak is the dire situation in Darfur, Sudan. It has been called genocide by many people, but yet we have done nothing to truly stop these atrocities.

Why are countries like Iraq more important than places like Sudan? It is because of profit and location. Instead of truly trying to help people, this country is focused on publicity. The government has convinced Americans that is is justifiable to fight in the Middle East against terrorism. Yet, the American government has nothing to try to justify fighting for peace in Sudan.

We cannot become protectionists and close ourselves off from the world. We established a precedent with World War I that we have to uphold. Previously, our policy was to help those in need. Now our aid policy is much more politically selective. Instead of this, the USA needs to fully support the UN, and help all those in need. Furthermore we have to examine each situation more closely than we have in the past and look at our mistakes in order to fix the problems instead of making them worse. We need to learn from our mistakes, not repeat them.

Speech to the Nation: Support Our Troops!

By Ben Ogden

Thank you Mr. President. Good evening America. As you all know, America has been involved in a war against terrorism for the past four years. We currently have troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq who are fighting for safety and security for our nation, and the rest of the world. I, as with most of this government’s administration, know that many Americans do not agree with the war in Iraq at this time. However, when we began the war there was a strong support from our nation as a whole. I am not here to preach to you that it is your job as the American public to support the war. You, the people, have a right to be against this war.

I am here, though, to ask you to regain the levels of patriotism we had after the attacks on September 11. After these horrendous terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the American public had a revived level of patriotism that remained strong, even when we first deployed troops to the Middle East. But, with the increasing disapproval of the war, there has been a decrease in support for our troops and a decrease in patriotism. You may not agree with the war, but our fellow Americans are in Iraq fighting, and loosing their lives, to help make America and the rest of the world a safer place. They deserve every ounce of our support.

We need to support and pray for our troops. And, next time you see someone who serves in any branch of the U.S. military, thank them for what they do for your country. They deserve it. Once again, I would just like to state that the United States needs a strong increase in patriotism and support of our troops, even if you do not agree with the war. We should be proud to be Americans and we should show this.

Thank you America, and Goodnight.

January 30, 2007

Addressing the State of the Bush Administration

A Response and Critique of the 2007 State of the Union Address

By Courtney Shannon

“Mr. President, a prayer for your success,” mentioned someone from the crowd. I’m sure the gentleman who said this was not the only one who was praying for President George W. Bush’s speech to go well.

At approximately 9:10 pm EST President George Bush began his opening remarks of his State of the Union Address by welcoming Nancy Pelosi as the first “Madame Speaker,” and congratulating the Democratic Congress on their success.” He mentions, “Congress has changed, but not our responsibilities. Each of us is guided by our own convictions -- and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we're all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this nation's prosperity; to spend the people's money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us.”

Following his outlining statement, Mr. Bush spent just two minutes per topic, discussing the economy, health care and social security, education, immigration, and energy. He then devoted twenty minutes, ten times the amount of time he spoke on domestic issues, to topics on terrorism, war, and our foreign policy. After reassuring the American people that the death of our soldiers has not been in vain, and the war in Iraq has purpose, he called for support on global peace issues. How perfectly juxtaposed.

He began his address by stating, “We're now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs -- so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising.” He called for continuation of this momentum “not with more government, but with more enterprise.”

In regards to our economy, he called for three economic reforms “that deserve to be priorities for this Congress.” The first was to balance the federal budget, without raising taxes. He suggested that Congress “impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C.” He mentions that we have already cut the budget in half three years ahead of the projected schedule. The President is now calling for a plan that “eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years.”

My question is, how can we realistically accomplish this when our country is at war, and there is talk of another? How can this country fully and adequately finance a war, protect our soldiers, and still retain diplomatic relations without a tax increase if we are to eliminate the deficit?
The second economic reform he proposed was to reduce the growing number of earmarks. He gives the following statistics:
“In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate.” Yes, in 2005, the Republican Congress allowed $18 billion of wasteful spending, and it is now up to the Democratic Congress to cut this number in half, as Bush proposed.

The third item on his economic agenda was the subject of entitlements, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In his comments he outlined a new tax plan that would allow many more Americans to purchase private healthcare. He also suggested giving federal funds to the states to fund their own health insurance programs. Mr. Bush also called for the expansion of Health Savings Accounts, and increase in small business aid through Association Health Plans. To further cut down on medical cost, the president urged for an increase in medical technology and protection of good doctors form lawsuits.

In regards to education, he simply requested for the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. He made no mention of the Democrats’ agenda to increase the funding and availability of student loans.

Immigration is a huge issue in our nation. The president spoke briefly and called for more secure borders and the implementation of a temporary worker program. This legal program would “leave Border Agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists.” The president acknowledged that we are a nation divided on this issue and asked that both sides work together to produce a solution.

Energy is perhaps the most pressing issue our country faces. Our dependence on foreign oil has brought us to war. The U.S. is one of two industrialized nations who refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Our country and our government, as a whole, refuses to accept global warming as fact. In the State of the Union Address, President Bush acknowledged that climate change is a serious issue. He called for technological advancements and for the nation to be a better steward of the environment. But what about the implementation of technology that already exists? There are a number of advancements that have already been made. Why not simply strive for the acceptance and use of them? Instead of truly clean energy the president called for biodiesel, solar and wind power, and “clean coal,” “clean diesel vehicles,” and “clean, safe nuclear power. He requested that there be a 20% gasoline usage reduction within the next 20 years. His solution was domestic oil production and increased supply of alternative fuels. Can America realistically achieve this goal without implementing all of the technologies discovered so far? Is increased domestic oil production really the best solution?

After addressing these domestic issues President Bush reminded the nation the importance of supporting bills and laws that prevent terrorist attacks. After a twenty minute speech on which included the themes of stopping the terrorists, war, 9/11, Al Qaeda, Islamic radicalism and extremism, the Taliban, freedom, and democracy, the president called for an increase of 20,000 troops to Iraq; even though this idea has not been supported by Democratic majority, or even the top commanders in Iraq. About 20 Generals have written letters to Mr. Bush to not increase troop size. He listens to no one.

Further, he admits that this war is not going to be resolved within his term, but rather that, “. . .the war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others.” He calls for Congress to work together so that ideas can be developed and shared and so that we can “show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.”

After this bold statement about our “enemies” the president immediately spoke about the peaceful side of our foreign policy, to show that “. . . American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger and poverty and disease.”

President Bush gave praise to Congress for providing the funding to increase the availability of life-saving drugs from 50,000 to over 800,000 in only three years. To continue to fight disease he also asks that $1.2 billion be given to fight malaria. And to further improve the impact of American aid, he requested the funding of the Millennium Challenge Account, and called for Congress “to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope.”
He closed his speech by praising a few noble model American citizens, tactfully including Dikembe Mutombo, an NBA star born in Congo, female entrepreneur Julie Aigner-Clark, New York City subway hero Wesley Autrey, and a young soldier from Kentucky, Tommy Rieman.

January 23, 2007

State of the Union Address and the Democratic Response

President Bush Delivers his 7th Annual Report to Congress

President Bush, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, urged Congress to support his decision to add 21,500 troops in Iraq, saying, "I ask you to give it a chance to work." Mr. Bush also proposed plans to reduce gasoline consumption and expand health care coverage, and addressed education and immigration in his speech, delivered for the first time in his presidency to a Democratic-controlled Congress.

Here are links to SOTUS by President Bush and the Democrats response by James Webb (D-VA). VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT of Bush's SOTUS, and, here (Fox News). The Democrats' Response, and here (Fox News)

The Evolution of the President's Message

The State of the Union tradition began in 1790, when President George Washington delivered his first "annual message of the president." A few years later, President Thomas Jefferson thought that the tradition of speaking to Congress was "too royal" so he sent his annual message in a letter. This written tradition continued for a century.

In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson delivered his message in a speech to Congress. By 1945, FDR's speech formally became known as the "State of the Union" speech. The power of television and mass communication media have firmly established this annual tradition. There's lots of pageantry and planned posturing, but it is also an opportunity for both sides to score some political points. Yet, it is the President's hour to speak to the nation. Presidents have a great deal of power but perhaps the most important power they have it the power to persuade. They hold the biggest megaphone and when they speak everyone hears them--even if many people don't really listen or agree with them.

Obviously the popularity of the president affects his power to convince and how his message is received. Unfortunately for G.W. Bush, several polls that came out a couple days ago show that he's hovering around 28 to 34% approval ratings. An overwhelming majority of Americans, 75%, disapprove of his Iraq policy, including the latest escalation plans.

This is the first time for president Bush that he has to work with a Democratic House & Senate. In his 6 years in office, he used his veto only once--against stem cell research/funding. His veto stood. There is going to be lots of gridlock in the system in the next 2 years as the two branches fight for their agendas, but it is the Democrats who are more eager to pass legislation and win points with the American electorate. In less than 2 years, the whole House and 1/3 of the Senate are up for re-election, as well as the big prize: the White House.