Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Rove at MemAud: Obama’s done “Boo-do-diddley-squat!”

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Robert Gibbs- Photo credit to Chris Seewald

Last Tuesday Karl Rove and Robert Gibbs duked it out in Memorial Auditorium. The debate, moderated by Stanford Professor Rob Reich, was actually pretty interesting. Reich started the debate by asking both Rove and Gibbs to “role play” and switch sides, each arguing for their opponent’s case. Predictably, Gibbs started off by declaring how Romney has no special insight into how to manage the American economy, especially given his record in Massachusetts. Rove then retaliated by bringing up Obama’s largely unfulfilled promises from his first election campaign, claiming that new “unifying” leadership is needed. Reich pushed each debater to better answer the prompt,

Karl Rove-Photo credit to Chris Seewald

which neither initially addressed, and joked about the difficulties both contestants had with not pivoting, much to the amusement of the audience.

While both candidates dodged and skirted their fair share of inquiries, Rove took the prize for eluding questions. When pushed on several occasions as to establish whether or not he supported transparency in SuperPac donations, for example, Rove deliberately brushed the question aside, stating simply, “If that’s the lay of the land, then that’s the lay of the land.” Reich eventually gave up and moved on. Surprisingly, Rove was very clear with his opinion of the DREAM Act, declaring that it should be done by states and not on the national level. This is a significant departure from the majority of Rove’s Republican compatriots.

All in all, the debate lived up to its promise of entertainment; both men stuck close to party lines and agreed that, to get anything done, compromise and cooperation are imperative. Rove however, won without a doubt, showcasing impressive skill in debate. Granted, Rob Gibbs is much closer to the upcoming presidential race than Karl Rove and has a lot more at stake with what he says, but Rove’s witty comebacks and no-holds-barred language (declaring one of his dissenters a “no-good lying sonofabitch”) enhanced his case. Furthermore, Rove spoke more extensively on major points than Gibbs and often interjected during Gibbs’ responses with the Republican counter-argument, citing a laundry list of facts and previous legislation.

Video of the debate after the break…

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Why I Dropped Out: an Editorial from a Former ASSU Candidate

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

James Mwara '13, who recently withdrew his candidacy from the ASSU Executive race.

The following post is from James Mwaura ’13, who recently withdrew from the ASSU Executive race with his running-mate, Charles Mbatia ’13.

It is with great disappointment that Charles and I are announcing the end of our campaign. It seems we attempted to climb a mountain too high, faced a tweeter/video blogger too relentless, challenged a political schematic too masterfully designed to maintain the status quo. We attempted to play Ralph Nader in a Bush-Kerry election, assuming Bush was of less-than-wholesome mental stability and Kerry backed by a not just the Democratic party, but an organization deemed so righteous that challenging it would be abandoning all political sanctity. We entered this election with a goofy grin on our faces and a catchy campaign slogan, and leave with a piece of useful knowledge which I am eager to share with all you:

The ASSU will remain exactly the same forever, unless something really, really radical happens. By exactly the same, I mean a SOCC-endorsed, GAIA-endorsed group of a few dozen students whose interests are more closely aligned with a mock government high school group than the members of a “democracy” managing a budget of several million dollars and a constituency of more than 14,000 individuals. (While this does little to appease offended parties, I only put “democracy” in quotations because the University has the ability to nullify almost everything ASSU does.)

Charles Mbatia '13, James's running-mate.

I’ll begin with a story. When winning this campaign still seemed feasible, I was told that I needed to attend an ASSU meeting to lobby for public finance money, as my petition had fallen short of the necessary number of valid signatures. The meeting ended up being one of the most enlightening and most disheartening moments of the campaign. For over 45 minutes, ASSU senators debated with the executives on wildly miniscule features of Michael Cruz’s brainchild, the new ASSU Constitution. The arguments included the removal of double negatives, the wording of various sections, and other mundane issues. It was easily one of the least productive assemblies of people I had ever witnessed. The meeting concluded with my meekly bringing up my finance conundrum, which was fortunately unanimously approved. (This was later retracted, as it turned out that the graduate and undergraduate sides of the ASSU Senate had failed to pass the same version of the original public finance bill.)  (more…)

The 3rd Annual Unabridged List of Suggested Dorm Themes

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Institutionalized punnery doesn’t get much better than Stanford’s annual dorm themes. But even the most pro-pun RAs can’t do it alone, and that’s where I step in to lend a friendly, possibly not-PC hand with my list of annual suggestions for themes for each dorm and house on campus.

This tradition started two years ago, when, as part of the student sketch comedy troupe, The Robber Barons, I spearheaded the creation of a list of fake dorm themes. That list is available here (on page 2), and that got such a positive response that I did it again last year here on TUSB.

Welcome to version 3! Special thanks to fellow blogger and Robber Baron Carlo for helping out with this year’s list. I will be graduating this year, and thus not doing this again, but hopefully Carlo as well as some others can come together to keep doing this crucial, crucial public service for the Stanford campus. Without further ado, the list of what I suggest should be the themes of Stanford residences next year:

Stern, home of Academy Award Winning-Dorms

All parties in Serra will end in a Bollywood dance number.

-THE LARKING’S SPEECH
-MILLION DONNER BABY
-BURROKEBANK MOUNTAIN
-TITWAINIC
-ON THE ZAPATERFRONT
-SLUMDOG MILLIONSERRA

Wilbur

-OTER AND SPACE MUSEUM
-SOTO AND GOMORRAH
-CEDRIAN BRODY
-JRO MAGUIRE
-ARROYO LA TENGO
-TRANCOS (0) = 1
-HOSNI MUBARINC
-MUAMMAR OKADAFFI (Manages to make MubaRinc look like a nice guy)

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We’re at War, Remember?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried, discussed war and its ethics with fellow author and Vietnam veteran Tobias Wolff at Cubberley Auditorium on Monday night.

Obama’s State of the Union on Tuesday tried to address every major problem facing the U.S. in one hour. He arguably succeeded, despite getting interrupted by applause every couple of sentences. While most of what he discussed was to be expected–creating jobs, reforming education, celebrating his administration’s triumphs (or disasters, depending on your point of view)–at the end he touched on a topic one hardly hears discussed at Stanford or in the media: the nation’s two wars.

The United States is nearing its eighth year in Iraq and tenth year in Afghanistan. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the Stanford community got a chilling reminder on Monday night about the realities of war from authors and Vietnam veterans Tim O’Brien and Tobias Wolff. O’Brien and Wolff, who teaches English at Stanford, discussed their memories of war, its conflicts with ethics, and the role of conscience in society before a packed audience in Cubberley Auditorium.

The novelty of what these authors shared reinforced how distant we have become from our country’s present conflicts. “All I recalled was generalized chaos,” said O’Brien. “War erases memory. Chronologies get scrambled…. I wrote about the aftermath, what I carried with me for the rest of my life.” O’Brien went on to write novels that would make him one of the most famous voices of the Vietnam generation, including the fittingly-titled The Things They Carried. Yet as O’Brien pointed out, he had to press his content beyond “the killing and dying.” His anger–at the chicken-hawk politicians who had drafted him and sent him into the conflict without putting their own bodies where their thoughts were, at the supposed heroism of his task in the wake of My Lai, at the way war sought to “divorce him from life”–pushed him to expose the “petty horrors of war” that had evaded the rest of his countrymen. Ultimately, O’Brien’s work sought to answer the following question: what is the role of conscience in society?

We talk about conscience like an existential notion that we achieve when we know ourselves. Yet how can we know ourselves when we don’t even think about the men and women getting shot and blown up overseas supposedly defending our way of life? Wolff admitted at one point that he left for war seeking a taste of adventure, a desire that deserted him as soon as he arrived. His misconception is mild compared to the ambivalent way we view the volunteers who serve us today, if we even think about them at all. (more…)

A Government We Deserve? The Meaning of Tuesday’s Elections

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Tuesday's elections are widely seen as a referendum on President Obama and his policies.

Repudiation. Denial. Shellacking. These words have resounded throughout the media echo chamber following Tuesday’s elections, which have dramatically altered the American political landscape.

Now that most of the results are in, and most of the celebrations and lamentations are on the wane, two key questions have emerged: 1) Who were the big winners and losers? 2) How will the results shape our country’s future?

The first is largely straightforward, with a few caveats. The Republicans gained 60 seats in the House, as expected, and the Democrats managed to hang on to the Senate with a 53-47 majority. Although some governor races remain too close to call, including that of my native CT, the GOP has clearly made huge gains on the state level, picking up at least nine executive seats. Some other major developments:

  • Wealthy, self-financed candidates lost in spectacular fashion. Standout examples include Meg Whitman, who spent $142 million in her bid to become California’s next governor, and Linda McMahon in Connecticut, who paid about $103 per vote for a total of over $50 million during her failed senatorial campaign. Republican Rick Scott was the most prominent exception; he spent $73 million of his own money to win Florida’s gubernatorial race.
  • Harry Reid (D-NV) clung to his Senate seat despite a nasty race against Sharon Angle, whom he trailed in the polls for most of the fall. He will remain Senate Majority Leader.
  • Tea Party-backed candidates had mixed results. On the one hand, they enjoyed some serious victories, such as toppling liberal icon Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and electing Marco Rubio in Florida. However, their successes seemed to stop at the borders of densely populated areas, including New York and California. Other high-profile candidates like Christine O’Donnell, who once claimed to have dabbled in witchcraft, endured a drubbing at the voting booths.
  • Democrats were destroyed in many regions they carried in 2008, especially in the Midwest. They lost ten house seats between Pennsylvania and Ohio alone, and they lost governorships and control of both state legislative houses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
  • Crucial California ballot measures…. Prop 19, which would have legalized and taxed marijuana, lost by about an 8% margin. Voters also rejected Prop 23, which would have repealed many of California’s environmental laws. Other measures include Prop 20, which tasks a non-partisan commission with re-drawing congressional district lines, and Prop 25, which requires only a simple majority to pass a state budget. For more information on propositions, click here.

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Non-Partisan Voter Information for California Elections

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Elections are only two days away, which means that campus is as apathetic as ever. Why should you vote? Well, there’s that whole civic duty thing. Then there’s the fact that these elections are important because they could affect the whole balance of national and state politics. Then there’s the fact that, somewhere in the United States, this crazy person, or this crazy person, or this crazy person, this crazy person, or even this crazy person could, or even very well might, be elected. And then there’s because P. Diddy tells you to.

This is a gratuitous picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

California elections are particularly interesting because of the propositions system, which allows for voters to pass laws with a simple majority. Just as in elections past, this upcoming ballot features a wide range of interesting propositions. In the spirit of making sure voters are informed, Stanford in Government (SIG) has published a non-partisan voter guide to help California voters navigate the murky and horribly-worded propositions when they prepare to vote. Here is the information on some of the most important propositions:

Proposition 19
Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010
Summary: Would allow people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Local governments would have authority to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Would prohibit people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old. Current prohibitions against driving while impaired would be maintained.

Pro: Supporters say that Proposition 19 will save the state money currently spent in enforcing the failed laws against marijuana growth and use. They say that Proposition 19 will effectively end the violent drug market created by marijuana prohibition. Proponents argue that marijuana arrests have cost the state millions of dollars in police, prosecution, and prison costs. They argue that taxing the sale of marijuana could bring in large sums to help the state during current budget deficits.
Con: Opponents say that Proposition 19 is a flawed measure that loosens penalties for driving or working under the influence of marijuana. They believe that legalized marijuana will have public costs larger than any amount of revenue brought in by the drug. Many opponents believe that marijuana is a “gateway” drug and will lead users to more dangerous drugs like heroin or cocaine.
Also see here for a debate on Prop. 19.

Proposition 20
Congressional district lines to be re-drawn by a committee
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Meg Whitman Loves the Environment?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

To California liberals, conservative Republican candidate for governor Meg Whitman, whose political travails I chronicled here, here, and here, might not actually be as frightening as she first appeared. Despite swinging extraordinarily far to the right to defeat Republican primary opponent Steve Poizner (including outspoken anti-environmental rhetoric), a quick look at Whitman’s charitable contributions reveals a very different attitude.

Meg Whitman might be nicer to this horse and his environment than anyone previously thought.

In its first year (2007), Whitman’s personal charitable foundation, the Griffith R. Harsh IV and Margaret C. Whitman Charitable Foundation, donated $100,000 to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). That was 80% of the foundation’s total donations. In 2008, Whitman did even more: the foundation doubled its contributions to the EDF and donated an additional 1.15 million dollars to Valley Floor Preservation Partners, an environmental protection organization in Telluride, CO.

All of this information is available on the nonprofit database Guidestar and comes directly from the organization’s 990 disclosure form.

Will these donations be a harbinger of things to come for Whitman’s environmental stance? Whitman seems to already be moving strongly toward the center on the environment, as the San Francisco Chronicle notes:

Whitman assailed AB32 as a job-killer during the Republican primary campaign. Asked at a debate May 2 whether humans cause climate change, she said, “I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.”

She has toned down her criticism of the law since winning the primary. Campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said last week that Whitman, during her one-year moratorium, would “bring accountability and strong leadership to the AB32 process so the regulations effectively reduce our emissions while strengthening our economy.”

On top of this, there is no mention of AB32 anywhere on Whitman’s own web page about the environment, only fairly vague, centrist policies.

It looks like environmentalists may be able to breathe a little easier as Whitman’s campaign picks up steam (and burns through money): even if Whitman does defeat Democrat Jerry Brown, her charitable contributions might speak much more to her real positions regarding the environment than any charged rhetoric can.

California Politics: There’s Something About Primary (Season)

Monday, May 31st, 2010

I already explained that the governor’s race in California was ridiculous. Twice, in fact. Yet the state, which is in the middle of an unfathomably bad budget crisis (bad enough that advocacy groups are having to sue the state…twice, in fact), never fails to entertain. A few more tidbits of politics that could only come from the Golden State as the primaries inch closer (June 8th):

Blogger-cum-candidate Mickey Kaus challenged Democratic Senate incumbent Barbara Boxer to a debate as he tries to challenger her in the primary. And she didn’t show up, so he debated the closest thing he could find: a cardboard box. No word yet as to who won, though analysts thought her positions were rough around the edges.

Mickey Kaus debates Barbara Box, err...

Heterosexual-cum-homosexual Roy Ashburn–whose flip flop was chronicled earlier on TUSB–has now decided that, now that he’s acknowledged that he’s gay, gay people should, you know, have the same rights. Funny how that works.

And we cannot forget the Republican gubernatorial primary between Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman. In case you haven’t been following, here’s a quick recap of the last few weeks: Whitman threatened to pull a Nixon on Poizner and release incriminating tapes of him saying liberal things. Poizner attacked Whitman for using the Internet as it is supposed to be used: for porn. Whitman received the Dick endorsement. Poizner cut the lead to single digits. They both swung way right on immigration in the 37% Hispanic state. Poizner gave a town hall meeting for middle schoolers. And with only a week left before the primary, both are spending oodles of money to try and win the election.

If there’s one thing we can pick up from their campaigns, it’s that either way, you’re going to get a Republican candidate that’s secretly a liberal and wants to raise taxes. Hey, maybe 2010 won’t be so bad for Democrats…

California: Home of Even More Strange Politicians

Sunday, April 4th, 2010
This is Jerry Brown's official portrait as Governor.

This is Jerry Brown's official portrait as Governor of California in the late 70s.

A few days ago, I wrote about California’s increasingly-wacky set of prospective politicians and their recent newsworthy shenanigans. But there’s more: running alongside Meg “Campaign-literature-is-real-literature” Whitman in the race for California governor are Steve Poizner and Jerry Brown, both of whom warrant more than just a passing mention.

Just two days after Whitman’s newsworthy stunt, Republican Poizner (who also happens to be a Stanford Business alum) faced heavy criticism at a book signing for his new book, “Mount Pleasant: My Journey from Creating a Billion-Dollar Company to Teaching at a Struggling Public High School,” which details his year as a teacher at a public school in San Jose. Students and teachers are upset at some of Poizner’s descriptions of the school and its students, particularly the following passage:

From an intellectual standpoint, I absolutely knew not to expect Silicon Valley-caliber ambition and smarts from East San Jose school kids.

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California: Home of the Strangest Politicians

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Granted, there are plenty of strange politicians. Vermont, I’m looking at you. South Carolina, you’ve been weird for a long time. And who can forget New York, home of the tickle?

You can find this between People and Vanity Fair

You can find this between People and Vanity Fair

But really, nobody can compete with the fact that California’s governor is the same man who made Kindergarten Cop, a movie whose tagline is “An undercover cop in a class by himself.” For those who thought that California’s politicians had no place to go but up, I apologize–it just wasn’t meant to be.

First, there’s Carly Fiorina, the controversial former head of Hewlett Packard (and Stanford alum). She’s running to unseat incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer (D), who is up for election. Fiorina tried to make some remarks about the Jewish holiday of Passover, in which you can’t eat bread, and wrote, “As we break bread…” Fiorina’s campaing spokesowman quickly backpedaled on this hilarious faux pas, which is being deemed Matzah-gate, saying, “We meant all bread, leavened and unleavened, and matzo is just unleavened bread so that’s what we meant by that.”

Then there’s Meg Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of eBay who is trying to get the Republican nomination for Governer of California to replace Schwarzenegger. Today, she sent out her “policy book“–better described as a 48-page shiny advertisement–to 1600 libraries across the state, asking them to “display my magazine in their periodicals section so voters can gain a clear understanding of how I will govern, if elected in November.” A magazine bearing your name right in the middle of the periodicals section? Who does she think she is, Oprah?

If magazines and religious faux-pas don’t interest you, there’s something for everyone on November’s ballot: there will be a proposition seeking to legalize marijuana in the state.

California–we’ve got it all, except for money.