Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Let Teddy win!

Mark your calendar for Nationals-Astros on April 18.

Useful site

Contains state by state info about who can vote and how delegates are allocated.

Mark your calendars!

Keystone Pipeline: Choose it or Lose It

The Keystone Pipeline is an economic opportunity that United States of America cannot afford to pass up. Trans Canada is going to pursue another country if we continue to balk. In that case, the environmental impact will happen, leaving the US excluded from potential benefits and the ability to marginalize the environmental effects.

My Senator's Beard Has a Twitter

I think you all should check out its informative political commentary. 

First the beer summit, now the rat summit

Is this New York's year to get political attention?

I doubt it.

More on Keystone

Google title to read full text.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bipartisanship, Divided Government and the Washington Deal

An article on the relationship between bipartisanship and divided or united government (one-party controlling Congress and presidency). Does divided government create situations in which compromise is a must? Or is the current political environment too polarized, where divided government is inefficient and only creates gridlock. The authors argue that bipartisanship is a thing of the past, that it is unlikely that any sweeping "Washington Deals" will occur anytime soon.

I found this article particularly interesting in the context of our readings for Wednesday...that unless some serious shifts occur in modern day liberal and conservative thought, it is very unlikely conservatives and liberals will ever be able to work together for substantive change.

If anyone wants to go to CPAC without paying admission...

...click the headline. Citizens United needs volunteers.


I went to hear Zbigniew Brzezinski, his daughter, Mika, andJoe Scarborough speak yesterday at a small synagogue down near CapitolHill. Their talk was on Brzezinski’s newbook Strategic Vision, which assesses the United States’ position in the worldand what the state needs to do to survive in the future.

Brzezinski had a lot to say about the future of U.S. foreignpolicy and what our role should be for the next fifteen years. His major themes were one, that the UnitedStates will have to cope with a somewhat chaotic world where no one state candominate global politics; two, that successful foreign policy must be builtupon a strong domestic foundation of economic and political strength; andthree, that the United States should maintain its leading role in globalpolitics by acting as the chief “balancer, manipulator, and conciliator.” I thought his two most interesting points, though,were that greater civic engagement around the world will have unpredictable consequences and that America’s internal dysfunction is dangerous.

Rising dominantmasses will change the world.”

Brzezinski described how nearly the entire world populationwas “without political ideas” two hundred years ago. Now, though, the world consists of “enabled,angry, and restless populists” who are eager to become civilly engaged and capableof bringing about tremendous political change. He carefully emphasized, however, that populism is not a synonym fordemocracy -- particularly for countries like Egypt where there is no democratictradition and the state’s economy is largely controlled by the military. The most likely outcome of the Arab Spring, he said, is the installation of military juntas in most states.

Internal dysfunction

In the introduction to his book (that’s as far as I’vegotten…), Brzezinski compares the United States now to the Soviet Union duringthe seventies and early eighties. As theSoviets faced internal political gridlock, expensive foreign policy failures(re: Afghanistan), and a weak economy that benefitted only a privileged few,the U.S. Congress is a joke (albeit a terrible one), the war in Iraq addedtremendously to our national debt, and the Occupy movement is calling attentionto growing social inequity in our society.

Remembering that Brzezinski is a Polish Jew who never showsmuch sympathy for Russia and the former Soviet Union, I think his comparison ofthe U.S. and U.S.S.R. is a harsh, but marginally valid, criticism. People became frustrated with the SovietUnion and ultimately rebelled against the Kremlin because there were few, ifany, opportunities for economic advancement. In his talk, Brzezinski pointed out that children born in Europe nowhave better opportunities for economic advancement than children being born inthe United States. I haven’t checked thefacts on this claim (has anyone else heard this/ checked the facts?), but if theU.S. actually is falling behind in terms of providing everyone with an equalopportunity to succeed, I’m afraid that it will struggle, as the Soviet Uniondid, to adapt to a rapidly changing geo-political scene in which success isdetermined by flexibility, hard work, and cooperation.


Keystone XL Pipeline

This week's debate will be on the Keystone Pipeline that has Republicans and Democrats, as always, fueding in Congress. The Republicans claim it will create jobs, while the Democrats wory about the impact it will have on the environment. With valid points for and against this project, this topic will make for an interesting debate on Thursday night. Below is the link for the company and a few more articles related to the subject.




HC DC in the news

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A follow up on the DREAM Act debate

I thought that this article would provide an interesting follow up on last week's debate.  It discusses immigration policy and Obama's attempts to appeal to Latino voters.

Inequality and its discontents

James Q.Wilson, one of the greatest social scientists, on inequality and poverty.

The State of the Republican Party

As we discussed the state of the Republican nomination last Wednesday morning, I could not help but think about the ideological discrepancies that currently exist within the Republican party. How can a party nominate and fully support a candidate without a sense of unity? In the Economist's Democracy in America blog, they discussed this topic further:

"It's a structural feature of a contemporary Republican Party whose pieces don't hang together. Pro-Iraq-war neoconservative Republicans cannot actually live with Ron Paul Republicans. Wall Street-hating anti-bail-out Republicans cannot actually live with Wall Street-working bail-out-receiving Republicans. Evangelical-conservative Republicans cannot actually live with libertarian, socially liberal Republicans. Deficit-slashing Republicans cannot live with tax-slashing Republicans. Medicare-cutting Republicans cannot live with Medicare-defending Republicans."

Will the republican party unify in order to have a shot at the election? I was discussing this matter with another intern who said: "Republicans might have trouble choosing a nominee, but at the end of the day we will absolutely band together to make sure Obama does not get into office for a second term." I asked if he was excited about Romney and his responded "no, not really, but us republicans, we stick together."


Pipelines 101

The case against Keystone

The case for Keystone

Cain Endorses Gingrich

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain endorsed Newt Gingrich on Saturday, according to CNN.  

Mark your calendar

Wizards v Magic on 2/29.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Newt-Mare" Seems Appropriate

Weren't Republicans supposed to knock Obama out of the White House? The first half of this video is what matters most.

What the REAL newscasters said during this week

Do you live in a bubble?

Take this quiz to find out. While you are at Power Line, you may want to look at more of Steve Hayward's posts.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Romney Defends the Individual Mandate

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney offered a spirited defense of the individual mandate during Thursday night's GOP presidential candidate debate in Jacksonville, Fla.

For someone who criticizes Obamacare, he certainly can defend it pretty well.

The Idea of an "Outsider"

"The Republican presidential candidate with the line of credit at Tiffany's is making fun of the candidate with the Swiss bank account. The one who got wealthy working the inside Washington game is whaling away at the one who got wealthy working the angles of high finance." That quote was taken from an article just published on CBS's website and speaks to this year's theatrical production brought to us by the Republican party. The article itself though asks how can Gingrich get away with calling himself, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, an outsider, a man of the people, a commoner? The question is a good one and the answer is simple: he cannot; but nor can the other candidates.

The idea of being a Washington outsider reminds me a lot of William Cronon's critique of contemporary society's notion of the wilderness. In his famous book, The Trouble With Wilderness, Cronon argues (among other things) that humans can never experience true wilderness because wilderness is something completely void of human presence. This line of logic can also be applied to politics. In many ways, politicians try to appeal to constituents/the American public as being "one of them", but the truth is their position as an elected official prevents them as being "one of us". To be viewed as "one of us", a politician would have to leave his/her office.

If either one of the Republican Presidential nominees wanted to be one of us,  they should try, for example, living on a budget so tight they need to decide between dinner or fuel. Their world of presidential politics is vastly different from the world of reality and their talk i just that.

Record polarization

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Raising the Roof

Today the senate struck down a resolution which would have denied President Obama the remaining 1.2 trillion dollars he requested be added to the debit ceiling along side the already accepted 900 billion. This was a purely symbolic move however. Regardless of the out come of the vote the GOP lacked the 2/3 majority to override President Obama’s inevitable veto. Even so one has to wonder outside of those who registered legitimate objections to raising the debit ceiling, such as senator Coburn, how many of the republicans simply did this in order to appeal to their base. Every one suffered during the political gridlock of last year especially because of the loss of our AAA credit rating. Thus raising the debit ceiling seems like a prudent course of action. Even so those who point toward or massive debit are correct and a solution must be found.


More big ideas from Newt!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Campaign Really is a Horse Race

The Race

Visit to National Gallery

The life of a Hill staffer

Don't Believe Ron Suskind

Other interesting links... here and here...

Statement of the Union

I'm just going to begin with my main thought: this was one of President Obama's strongest speeches. The militaristic metaphors, nationalist statements, and firm tone portrayed him as a strong leader and demonstrated a president who (at least on the surface) is confident that he has a winning message. Three quick things that really struck me:

1) Veiled micro-targeting in a very broad, universalist speech.

President Obama clearly understands that if he is to win in November, he needs the support of his base. When he moved to the more "policy-focused" section of his speech, he began by speaking to the working class Americans--who have traditionally supported the Democrats--by calling for a reinvestment in American manufacturing and training programs for the unemployed. He then moved to teachers, saying that they need help, should not be forced to teach to a test, and should not be the scapegoats for what many people see as an underperforming educational system (trust me--as the son of a teacher, this is a big deal). He spoke to college students by promising to lower loan payments and increase work-study programs. He spoke to Latinos by calling for the passage of the DREAM Act. He spoke to women by calling for equal pay and the end of gender discrimination in the workplace. He spoke to Jews with his promise of "ironclad commitment--and I mean ironclad commitment--to Israel's security." This was a rally-the-base speech designed to not sound super campaigny.

2)  The Closing. It was an incredible metaphor. The full text is available here. Just read the last few paragraphs. His speech writer needs a raise for that one. Very impressive.

3) He finally gave a laundry list of accomplishments, communicating the successes of his administration effectively for the first time. A huge criticism (that Republicans are now beginning to feast on) of President Obama is that he hasn't done anything--except ObamaCare. GRRRR! The president began with accomplishments that have received universal support--ending the war in Iraq, killing Osama Bin Laden. But he also discussed financial regulations, health care, immigration, energy, and manufacturing policies his administration has been instrumental in passing. Put together, it sounds like a lot.

What did you all think of the speech? How big of a boost (or fall) will it net him?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interesting event

I'm going. If you want to join me, register for free on AEI website.

Will Obama 2012 imitate Bush 2004?

Romney's Taxes and American Income Discrepancy

Mitt Romeny's campaign released details of his federal tax returns on Tuesday morning, shedding new light on the Republican candidates vast wealth as well as adding a new dimension to an emerging central theme for the battle for the White House. Economic inequality has become a focal point for both the Republic Campaign and Obama's Democratic Party. With the deficit and budget in dire need for reform, the income tax will continue to generate discussion and debate throughout the 2012 campaign. This article in the Economist provides a practical and moderate strategy towards effectively dealing with income inequality.

This is an Unfair Comparison to Dwight...

Wife 1. Wife 2. Wife 3.  versus   Bears. Beets. Battlestar Gallactica

Monday, January 23, 2012

No way... maybe if I become president... maybe in April... well, alright, I guess this Tuesday

America's infatuation with Mitt Romney's tax returns continues.  After conceding to popular indignation, or perhaps just voters' raw curiosity, Mitt Romney has agreed to release his 2010 tax returns, along with 2011 estimates, well ahead of schedule.  Depending on the extent of his fortune and how voters perceive his financial activities, Romney's willingness to release them could either quell skepticism, or prove to be another strike against him.  We will have to see whether Americans sentence him to the pillory, or prove to be appreciative of his gesture.  The attached Politico article outlines why Romney's tax returns have caused such an uproar

In defense of negative campaigning

The "Bain" of Romney's Existence

As I read article after article about Mitt Romney and his time at Bain Capital, I continue to wonder why this story has become such a real problem for his candidacy. I think that the main mistake he is making here is that he is, and has been, on the defensive about this particular part of his past. Yes, he has done the right thing by blasting his opponents that see a problem with this work as anti-capitalists. But rather than just explaining his career there openly, Romney has exclaimed that he feels it is "strange, on a stage like this with Republicans, having to describe how private equity and venture capital work." I think the biggest concern for Republican supporters of Romney right now is that he is not even well-prepared to answer questions about himself; if he can't handle the campaign, how can we expect him to run a country? And better yet, how can he even win the Republican nomination if he continues to allow people to hesitate about his biggest strength, his business experience? I guess we will have to wait and see if Romney can bounce back from these attacks or if he continues to lose momentum after Gingrich's win in South Carolina. 

Knute for Newt

I enjoy reading the Economist because I think it highlights issues that many American news sources gloss over.  The statistics in this article on Gingrich were awfully interesting, and I agree with their assessment that Mitt might need to take a bolder line if he is going to become the nominee.


As an Obama supporter, I fear Mitt the most because I think most moderates (myself included) agree with a lot of what he has to say.  With Confidence Men fresh in my head, I think someone who is clearly an exceptional manager will attract voters, as well.  So I'm sitting back and cheering for Newt.  His resurgence might make Romney focus more heavily on "Conservative" issues rather than the economics, etc, that are his strong suit.  If that happens, the President will have an easier time of branding Romney as a candidate who will be hamstrung by his exceptionally conservative base and unable to represent most moderate Americans. 

HC DC in the news

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nourishing the Planet

As part of my work as a food and agriculture research intern at Worldwatch Institute this semester, I'm going to be going some writing for one of the Worldwatch blogs, Nourishing the Planet.  My work probably won't be up for a few weeks, but if you're at all interested in food issues, check it out!  Here's the link:  http://blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet/.

Gingrich= Bad News

As Sam stated "I'm not happy about this [Gingrich winning] at all." As Governor of the Great and Noble state of New Jersey, Chris Christie stated, the former speaker has embarrassed our party and our country with his various infractions throughout his years in congress. I understand that many conservative republicans do not trust Romney, I've heard them over the phone, but what this faction of the party must realize NOW is that Gingrich is not even close to electable. I hope that conservative republicans realize that if they vote for Gingrich they are handing the election to Obama for another four years. This election is and has to be about removing Obama from office and Romney is the only republican candidate that has a shot. Newt simply does not have the social fiber, the trust of the American people, and control of his mouth (like Perry, I cringe every time he opens his mouth). I am also shocked that conservatives in South Carolina voted for a man who recently attacked a republican candidate for practicing Capitalism.. That's disgraceful.
Also who cares if Romney is a mormon, what is the difference? (I understand the difference, it is just dumb). Social Conservatives need to get their priorities in order and vote for the one candidate that has a realistic chance to challenge socialism and redirect our nation in the RIGHT direction. Newt is offering to redirect this country, but it is idealistic and the complete wrong direction. Ultimately, Romney is the far better candidate to represent the ideals of the GOP in a national forum.

Today's Washington Post

Can Big "D" Democratic Populism Work Twice?

Earlier today, I received an email from the Obama re-election campaign which outlined the major themes of Tuesday's State of the Union address. Watching, I could help but notice a developing trend in the President's recent speeches--a trend that began during a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas in December. In that speech, President Obama spent nearly an hour arguing that the present is a "make-or-break moment for the middle class and those trying to get into the middle class." In just two minutes and thirty seconds, today's message to supporters closely echoed the two main points of the Osawatomie speech: growing income gaps are a problem and big business is the enemy.

It seems we've stumbled on his message heading into November, and it oozes Democratic populism. Presidents in the past have come into office (including Barack Obama himself) on a liberal populist message, but championing that message while wearing the suit of the ultimate Washington elite has proved difficult, sending men like Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter to one-term presidencies. Bill Clinton, while in a very similar situation to Obama, chose the "triangulation" method and captured the middle of the political spectrum in the process--becoming the first Democrat to win back-to-back presidential elections since FDR. That doesn't seem to be the Obama way.

Considering populist movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street dominating the news throughout his time in office, it's possible that Obama has found a winning message. On the other hand, however, it's possible that this message just can't win twice. Democrats have tried to sell the "anti-Big Business/pro-working and middle class" message since William Jennings Bryan at the turn of the 20th Century. Since then, only Clinton, FDR, and Wilson have been elected to the presidency twice--and Clinton never received 50% of the vote.

In case you're interested:
State of the Union Preview video
Osawatomie Speech

An Interesting Development

With Rick Santorum being declared the winner of the Iowa Caucus and Newt Gingrich taking South Carolina the battle for the republican nomination has been blown wide open.  As a result Mitt Romney is no longer the defacto candidate.  With no clear front runner, this race could become a long slow slog to the finish. If this happens will a shared loathing of President Obama’s policies be enough to unite the party or will some abstain? Only time will tell.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gingrich Takes South Carolina

"Since 1980, every South Carolina GOP primary winner has gone on to win the party’s nomination."

"Not happy about this at all" -Brandon De Graff

If you can DREAM it, you can do it. Or can you? Thursday Debate topic info

Debate topic: the DREAM act

Arguments in favor: Amy & Cris
Arguments against its passage: Knute & Nick
Moderator: Galia

Here are some helpful links to understand the basics of the bill:

A very helpful, concise summary of the bill itself, and the arguments in favor and against...if you read any of these links, read this one!

A slightly longer, more thorough explanation of the bill from the White House.

Article highlighting the Acts importance for the upcoming elections and potential voters especially in relation to the Republican nominee front runner Romney.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Congressional Aid

For this semester in DC, I intend to merge my interest in government with my deep passion for photography as often as possible. I love using the medium of photography to tell stories of the world around me; pictures have a way of capturing the essence of a particular moment in time, but allow viewers to form their own opinion of that moment. That being said, there are many ways of looking at the above picture I took on my first of what will be many trips around the District. Here are two things that come to mind.

The first thing that caught my mind were the two ambulances parked behind the East Entrance to the Capitol. They are facing the building and appear ready to go at moment's notice. The other thing I found incredibly ironic about this scene was that there are two ambulances, which I interpreted as one to take away the Democrats and one to take away the Republicans. With a congressional disapproval in the 80% range, it's not too difficult to see why these vehicles are symbolic of the dangerous situation both parties find themselves in.

Even in general most people disapprove of the government as a whole, which brings us to the Capitol, arguably the strongest image of the American political system. Here again, this picture - like any taken of this iconic building in the coming weeks - provides ironic symbolism. The base of the dome is enclosed by scaffolding as crews preform repairs to its exterior. The repairs taking place here remind me of the necessary repairs our government needs.

In this season of presidential politics, each one of us has the ability to help, to provide some congressional aid. It is in this climate that the members of DC Semester begin their journey within the heart of American politics.

An Introduction to DC


Should "open marriage" be a deal breaker?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"This Just In...Hamiltonians visit the Newseum"

Today we had our first class in which one of our discussions centered around we the current Republican nomination situation. Which leads me to share this gem of a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMLlNySviZI. Of course, Democrats have their fair share of gaffs as well, but the current spotlight is on the Republicans meaning entertaining videos of this sort are much easier to find.

Additionally, we had our first excursion as a group to the Newseum. The Newseum is a museum dedicated to all things related to freedom of speech and news (papers, shows, reporters etc). One of the highlights was the 4D adventure in which we all successfully traveled through time surviving the revolutionary war, rats at an insane asylum and some casual bombings during WWII. Go us.

Other highlights included the history of news, first dog exhibit, and the interactive news section. The interactive part had computer games testing ones knowledge of the museum. In the race of rights quiz game, I helped runner "Bill O' Rights" beat the competing runner "Dick Tatorship"....see what they did there?).

Speaking of the puns, the Newseum had a variety of entertaining paraphernalia:
Don't worry, there  was also "Democrap Donkey Dung". As always, the news is never biased. Right? (**cough cough Fox News)


Anything news related...including facebook!

The reward for Lincoln's assassin  is the same price as one year of Hamilton tuition now. Obviously not counting inflation and such. Still thought it was mildly entertaining. 

And here is a group photo with our self proclaimed "fearless leader":

Overall it was a great first day of class and field trip. I am looking forward to the groups continued discussions and debates regarding the republican nominations and upcoming elections. 

Keystone Pipeline Update

The decision came down today from the White House to reject the Keystone XL pipeline proposal.  As anticipated, the ruling has already evoked criticism from Republicans who claim that Obama was acting purely in his own political interests.  But what do you expect from a man who championed the development of alternative energies and decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels during his campaign?   Although this decision creates an opportune moment for Republicans to accuse him of failing to create new jobs, Obama is merely preserving the ideals upon which he was elected.

Surely the creation of new jobs is crucial to economic recovery, but to what extent are we willing to go to achieve this?  Should we install an expansive new pipeline that could have serious environmental ramifications in order to decrease short term unemployment?  I suppose that the answer depends on your political priorities and whether or not you believe that the pipeline expansion would pose a serious threat to the Ogallala Aquifer.  Regardless, Obama has left the door open for an amended proposal, one  that would circumvent the area of concern.

In the days to come, expect this to become a principal talking point for Republican candidates, senators, and congressmen alike.  We all know how this will end if Obama loses the upcoming election: Republicans will "come to the rescue" and create thousands of new jobs by adopting the most current proposal.  The immediate political capital gained by Republicans, however, could pale in comparison to the adverse side affects that have the potential to create massive headaches for our country.  For now, candidates are chomping at the bit to weigh in.  What do you think?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Touring the Capital

After a long weekend of packing, driving, and schlepping boxes into the new apartment, I finally got a chance to catch a few of the sites and sounds of Washington, D.C.  I started out the morning with a great run through the city that ended at the Washington Monument, a truly impressive sight.  The city was filled with tourists, being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which provided an air of excitement.  I ran through Adams Morgan, down 18th, and onto Pennsylvania Ave.  My surroundings shifted from restaurants and bars, to glass buildings in the financial district, to Grecian columns and white marble.  I have the say, the latter of the group was by far the most impressive, which included the White House, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the Treasury, and the Washington Monument, among others.

After my run, which was characterized by frequent stops as I took it all in, I ventured out again with Sam, Eric, and Amy.  We took the train to Metro Center, walked around the National Mall, and snapped plenty of pictures.  In addition to the sites that I visited during my run, we went to the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Federal Reserve, Department of Justice (where I'll be tomorrow morning for my first day of work), and, most importantly, Occupy D.C.  We managed to squeeze in a lot on our last day before internships begin.

I uploaded all of the pictures on Facebook, so feel free to check them out.  More on Wednesday; we will be visiting the Newseum, which I've heard is awesome.  For all of you back on the Hill, best of luck with the new semester!


Huntsman Out, Endorses Romney

As of late, there has been much talk about the divisive effects of Republican negative ad campaigns.  Unlike the 2008 elections, when both Democrats and Republican candidates jockeyed for their party's respective nomination, in 2012, Democrats have the luxury of an incumbent.  So, while the remaining Republican candidates duke it out from Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina, Americans cannot help but be become disenchanted with the lack of unity in the Republican Party.  But this is nothing new, considering the emergence of the Tea Party over the past few years that has created factions within the party.  If Republicans want to be a force in November, they must find a way to break this trend and find a unifying figure.  In my opinion, as well as many other Americans, Mitt Romney can be that person.  

Today, Huntsman formally announced his withdrawal from the race while endorsing Romney.  Based on his speech, it seems like Huntsman is ahead of the Republican curve, encouraging Republicans "to unite around the candidate best equipped to defeat Barack Obama."  Most of us know how this will end; Romney, the most moderate of the group, will prevail, and America will have a race.  So, let's cut to the chase: Obama or Romney in 2012... Who do you have?

Branding Mitt

Will Potus outsmart his critics?

Advice about job interviews

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012