Saturday, January 26, 2008

US Campaign Recieves Much Attention Overseas

Many people worldwide are going to be affected by the outcome of the 08 election because America has so much influence in the world. That is why so many people are following the campaign from overseas. The campaign is also getting much attention because it is going to be possibly the first black president or first female president.

"The personalities of the Democratic contest in particular — the potential
harbinger of America’s first African-American or female president — have
fascinated outsiders as much as, if not more than, the candidates’ policies on
Iraq, immigration or global finances."

But all the attention the US election is getting is not necessarily for good reasons.

"“There is a desperate sense of need that there must be something better
than Bush out there,” said Dean Godson, head of a conservative research group in
London called Policy Exchange. Or, as Thomas Valasek, a spokesman for the Center
for European Reform in London, put it: “The world at large has a massive stake
in the outcome of the elections. Never before has the U.S. had such a terrible
reputation, a terrible image.”"

"As Ramesh Thakur, a political science professor in India, wrote: “We
foreigners can but pray that the new president, whoever he or she may be, will
return America to its strengths, values and the tradition of exporting hope and
other optimism. And so help to lift America and the world up, not tear one
another down.” "

As we can see, alot of people around the world are expecting change to come to America. There are, however people out there who dont give this election any more attention than any other US election.

"But in the Philippines some displayed less concern, even with the Obama-Clinton
race. “In the past we always have two white men talking about strange policies,”
said Alex Magno, 53, a political science professor at the University of the
Philippines. “But probably if they get elected it will be the same as the old
white men who contested the elections before.”"

Obama wins in South Carolina

Obama won in South Carolina today, Clinton was second, and Edwards was third. Turnout broke records for this primary. A possible factor in Obama's victory was race. About half the voters were black, and four out of five of them were for Obama. The "black candidate" is a label that might hurt him outside the South. The final percentages were Obama-55%, Clinton-27%, and Edwards-18%. Exit polls also showed economy was the most imporant issue in the race.;_ylt=AvzHCWZ3Ti4A3MDGFFxv_RBeW7oF

Possibly Suicidal 16 Year Old Possibly Trys to Hijack a Plane, Posssibly With Handcuffs, Rope, or Duct Tape, to Possibly Kill Hannah Montana

This has been the big national news for the last day or so. And basically, I'm mad. So this 16 year old from Novato gets on a plane, carrying "handcuffs, rope, and duct tape." All legal, as enforced by the TSA. For some reason, his plot to possibly hijack the plane is uncovered, and he is arrested. He also, after FBI agents search of his house, is found to have a "mock cockpit" in his room. I put those in quotes, because already the Daily Journal has said that instead of rope, the TSA has revised the FBI statement and decided to call it yarn. And the "mock cockpit" is really just a picture of the inside of a plane. Talk about misleading, right? And initial reports that he did this to assassinate Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus (off topic: I'm also kind of freaked out that I knew her real name off the top of my head) has turned out to be totally false.

First of all: Duh. A 16 year old boy is like 10 years too old to care about Hannah Montana. And he's a boy, so chances are like 9/10 that he doesn't even know who she is. (I only do because I try really hard to stay hip, this controversy, and, in the words of Ricky San Bartolome, "Disney Channel chicks are hot.")

Second all all: Nice statement, FBI. You guys are already wrong about major parts of what you said, 24 hours after saying it originally. There's a big difference between rope and yarn, connotationally. In upcoming days, we'll probably find out the duct tape is really scotch tape, and the handcuffs were actually the kind that you buy in magic shops and have the buttons on the sides so you can get out easily and impress all the kids at the birthday party. Or it might just have been a picture of handcuffs. Who knows? Not the FBI, that's for sure. I also think that this kid is not suicidal. Why? Because it makes sense that the FBI would say that to get people to support this huge over-reaction they just had, over a 16 year old's plan that already has been quoted as having "a low probability of success" by FBI spokesman George Bolds. On the other hand, I'd feel suicidal too if I'd just been accused of terrorism and arrested by the FBI and I lived in Marin County, so people would so be gossiping about me right now.

Third: Nice job, TSA! I don't even know what your acronym stands for, but I sure know what you do. You limit us to 1 ounce of liquid per container (oh, but you can have more than one container!), but let loaded guns through security checkpoints. So, duct tape is still allowed on flights? Don't you know what duct tape can do? It can do anything! That should have been the first thing you banned when you started the "new banned item of the week" policy. Who knows WHAT this kid could have done with DUCT TAPE??? He could have taped the plane to the ground, so it wouldn't take off. He could have taped himself to a passenger and held them hostage. He could have taped himself to the ceiling of the plane and pretended that he was flying in zero-gravity. He could have taped himself to the window and pulled really hard so the window on the plane broke. He could have taped his mouth shut and just not talked the whole flight, landed in Nashville, and we wouldn't have heard this story. That would probably been the worst outcome of all, right?

Which brings me to the fourth thing: Nice job, major news networks! I really need to hear more disinformation in my daily news, along with a pointless story in the first place. If the kid stood up with his handcuffs in the middle of the flight and handcuffed himself to his seat and yelled, "I'm not leaving this plane until the pilots change course and fly themselves into whatever stadium Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus is currently singing in, or else someone is gonna get seriously ducttaped!" then you'd have a real story to report on. Because then an airmarshall would just taser him and that would be the end of the story. But I guess we need a break from all this Primary coverage.

So, does anyone see anything newsworthy in this story? Because I'm mad that I even know about it. I might even duct tape someone. Or get some yarn. And who knows what I could do with that?

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Judicial Branch strikes again

This article reminded me of what we've been learning about in class this week/last week, since it relates to the power of judges. The basic story is that, on the night of my 17th birthday (coincidentally), a woman was driving with a BAC of .156, and hit and killed a biker with her car. She could have gotten away with only four years in jail (what a bargain, right?) but instead, is going to be locked up for 10 1/2 years. Why? She thought it was funny. And the judge thought it wasn't. Of course, saying that you had"taken out" a "tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman and a gay guy all in one shot" in a phone call to a friend is probably not a phone call that is gonna help your case. Was this judge being an activist judge instead of just interpreting the law? I don't think so, since the article makes it seem that 11 1/2 years is the maximum sentence she could have received, and it was up to his discretion to determine how much of that he wants her to serve. But it still seems kind of subjective. This guy has her life in his hands. Six and a half years (10.5-4 for all the people wondering how I got that) can make a big difference is someone's life. Alot of stuff can happen in six.5 years, especially when you're 27. Then again, she killed someone. While driving drunk. And didn't care about it.

Another way this article reminded me about the Judicial branch was in the charges she was convicted of. "
Two months ago of negligent homicide and two counts of aggravated DUI." Two counts of each? She only killed one person, but maybe it's different because he was on a bike. I'm not sure. Maybe someone with some legal knowledge can explain how that worked out to be like that?

January 24th GOP debate

Boca Raton, Florida. So, I haven't been paying any attention at all to the Republican debates. But now I think I will. Why? Because they're more than a bunch of old white guys arguing with each other (of course, that's in contrast to a white guy, an older African American guy, and an even older white woman argue with each other). The first thing I found cool/refreshing/relieving thing about the debate was that all the candidates liked the "newly minted bipartisan economic stimulus package." What is it? I have no idea. Maybe someone can tell me in the replies. The reason I like it without even knowing what it is though, is that it's bipartisan. That's a word we should hear more of in government. Can't we all just get along? I think we can. And if all these presidential candidates think so too, then they can't be all bad. Of course, the downside is that none of the candidates quoted really liked the package, and wanted to either "further it," "change it," or make sure that it "goes far enough." Well, you've gotta start somewhere.

The CNN article goes on to talk about what the package is, in a kind of vague way. Maybe I'm too liberal, but I don't think permanent tax cuts are gonna help anyone. Taxes are fine as long as they're going to the right places, right? I don't think an individual is gonna know a better way to spend $600 ($300 per child too, what an incentive!) than if everyone pooled this relatively small sum together to do a lot of good for everyone.

Romney and McCain are leading the polls in Florida. This, of course, sucks for Giuliani. I'm 90% sure that if he loses this state, then he's finished. Correct me if I'm wrong, but he's skipped a lot of the earlier state primaries to win Florida, right? And since we don't have to worry about the Bradley effect or any other demographics switching over at the last minute, I'm going to go ahead and guess that he's done. No more Giuliani in this campaign. This is, obviously, if the CNN poll is right. I'm guessing it is too. But this makes me only 70% sure that he's gonna drop out of the race, now that I think about it.

The final bit of interesting information is about which Democrat all the candidates attacked. Though their clever criticisms and well-planned witicisms, of course. Hillary Clinton was the invisible elephant on the stage (I don't know if I'm using that analogy correctly; probably not, but hopefully you get it). This means that the Republicans see her as the frontrunner. And they've got the best analysts and spin artists and think tanks and strategists money can buy working for them. So this is good news if you like Clinton. It goes without saying, but this is bad news if you want Obama or Edwards to win. Maybe, if the criticisms are really harsh, Obama can use them to his advantage to knock Clinton out (of the race). Maybe that's what the Republicans are thinking. Maybe they'd rather go up against Obama than Clinton, so they want to finish her off early. Maybe they think that Obama has no chance (maybe a little chance) against Clinton, so they're laying the groundwork against her when it's Democrats and Republicans going head-to-head, and one of them will be debating her on the same stage. What do you all think?

Flight instructor gets $5 million for catching '20th hijacker'

So this article caught my eye because there are so many ridiculous aspects to it. Zacarias Moussaoui is the only convicted terrorist in relation to 9/11. He didn't actually participate in the attacks because he was in prison at the time, according to the article. But it says he was given a life sentence because of his role in the attacks. How does that make sense? I don't know. Either we knew it was gonna happen or it wasn't, and this sure makes it sound like we/the government/the CIA knew about it. That's the first thing.

Okay, now another crazy aspect to this. He paid the $8,300 tuition for the flight class in cash. Hundred dollar bills. Probably non-sequential. Probably out of a black, unmarked briefcase, if you know what I mean. How did this not raise an alarm from the start? And shouldn't all potential
trainees be background checked? Everyone knew that planes could be devastating weapons, even before 9/11. They can crash and blow up. Duh. What's the point of going through security checkpoints at an airport when the pilot is the one with all the control? That's a huge oversight that should not be allowed to happen again. In the article, it said that the bosses didn't care, as long as he paid his money. Even if it was cash. In $100 dollar bills. From that black suitcase. But only probably. Regardless, thanks pilot school bosses! Way to care about the American people! Way to look out for our well-being!

Next, $5 MILLION DOLLARS??? WHAT??? How'd they pick that amount? Pick a number from 1-10? Nice use of tax dollars. What's this gonna do, encourage flight instructors to turn more suspicious people over to the FBI? Sounds great. I have an idea. This guy just did his job, and ended up saving people's lives. Give him a medal, give him a plaque, but don't throw away money like that. Give it to schools. Give it to poor people. Give rich people tax breaks. But don't do this. Because who's to say that this won't become the new kind of lottery? "Find a terrorist, get $5 million dollars! Oh wait, we haven't found one in 3 months! The jackpot is up to $10 million! Turn in your friends, turn in your family, this is your easy way out! You won't have to work ever again!"

I hope this doesn't become a pattern. Hopefully it's a one-off deal, because it had to do with 9/11 and Giuliani or the Bush Administration or whoever needs all the help they can get. Thoughts? Was giving this guy 5mil worth it? Or are you as worried as I am, about "1984" starting foreal in 2008?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Political Cartoon

I came across this political cartoon which is about Clinton getting alot of help from her husband in this election campaign. I thought this was relevant because the other day I saw from an article that said during one debate, Obama made a comment about Clinton getting help from her husband, that he couldn't tell who he was running against sometimes. Is Bill doing too much that it is actually hurting Hillary's image than helping?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Negative Campaigning

Last semester we learned about negative ads and negative campainging. We also experienced how negative campaigning works during the election game. Now in reality we can see negative campaigning used. In South Carolina, where Obama is leading, Clinton aired a negative ad that attacked Obama for saying the Republicans were the party of ideas. The ad was a continuation of ads the Clintons have been using since the lead-up to the Nevada caucuses. Obama's spokesperson says that the ad was an attempt to obscure Clinton's own record of voting for Republican ideas.The article also says that the media fact-checkers feel that this attack took Obama's words out of context.
Will negative ads have the same effect if the person being attacked says the same thing about you?

Stayyyy Innnnn Schoooooollllllllllllll Kidssssssss

This is a CNN video about a superintendent who goes around door-to-door during school hours to find kids that cut class. Only in Colorado? There must be a serious problem in the Aurora district or else they wouldn't be doing this, but it still seems kind of sketchy. While you are required by law to go to school, having someone show up at your house doesn't seem fair. At the very least, it doesn't seem like effective use of school resources. Do you think Aragon has a serious enough problem with habitual truants to warrant this kind of activity? Or is this.... unconstitutional? Opinions?

And for the ironic news of the day, here is a report, also from CNN. Just read it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger 1979-2008

Heath Ledger was found dead today, according to a Times article. It says that drugs "may have been a factor." In the words of Allan Tao, "How is this related at all to government and politics?" Well, this recent piece of news (3 hours old right now) reminded me of how little I know about the different presidential candidates' drug policies. Actually, I know nothing about their stances on illegal/prescription/over the counter drugs. In short: does anyone know? Do any of the front runners have good ideas in relation to the war on drugs or related topics?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Giant Upset?

So the New York Giants won tonight. How is this related at all to government and politics? One could say that they're going to be the underdogs of this years Superbowl, as they face the undefeated Patriots. Underdogs similar to how America was to the British as they fought for their independence (weren't the Brits undefeated in wars as well?). Maybe. All we can do is congratulate them for winning the NFC title, and hope that they put up a great show on Sunday, February 3rd.