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Friday, November 30, 2007

Kathy Griffin vs. Bill Donahue

The background: Kathy Griffin told Jesus to "suck it" during her Emmy acceptance speech, and Bill Donohue, right-wing blowhard and professional victim, threw one of his trademarked hissy fits.

Bill Donohue is the President of the Catholic League, which represents, well, Bill Donohue. He is notorious for going off the deep end over anything that could possibly be considered insensitive to his Christian sensibilities. He led the charge to get the catholic church to nor give kerry communion, he led the lynch-mob that went after Amanda Marcotte when she was hired by the Edwards campaign, and he made it onto the daily show for claiming that hollywood loves anal sex and abortions.

Media Matters has more on that big gasbag.

So here is Kathy Griffin putting Donohue in his place.

Here's the second part (not about Donohue anymore), when she mocks the christian theater group that took out a $90,000 ad in USA Today calling for a boycott of Griffin. Long story short: If you're a small theater group, don't pick fights with clever comedians who have nationally televised shows, or they'll call you gay and you won't be able to respond.


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Giuliani-bonics Joke

Upyernoz writes a funny joke:
Q: how many skeletons does giuliani have in his closet?

A: 911!


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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Joe Klein Steps In It (part 924)

This post is probably best directed at non blog-readers, because if you've been anywhere near a liberal blog in the last couple days you've probably heard the story. The short version goes like this:

1) Nationally syndicated Time magazine columnist Joe Klein writes a print column about the Democratic congress being "well beyond stupid" for coddling terrorists and giving them legal protections that should only be afforded Americans.

2) Liberal bloggers, led by the stalwart Glenn Greenwald, point out that Klein is factually wrong; the bill does no such thing.

3) Klein posts a non-apology on the Time magazine blog, pointing out that it's not his fault he got it wrong, he was just relying on what republicans on the hill told him, and why should anyone care anyway.

4) Aforementioned liberal bloggers highlight the abysmal journalistic behavior going on, and try to contact Time editors to issue a correction. Relevant editors respond with "fuck off."

Click "There's more..." for the slightly longer and maddeningly frustrating version.

It started with this key graph in Klein's column:
Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi quashed the House Intelligence Committee's bipartisan effort and supported a Democratic bill that -- Limbaugh is salivating -- would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court, an institution founded to protect the rights of U.S. citizens only. In the lethal shorthand of political advertising, it would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans. That is well beyond stupid.
The online story was accompanied by this graphic:

Naturally, bloggers felt it material to point out that the law, in fact, only American citizens are protected under the law, not foreign terrorists. Klein claimed that the Democrats in the house were extending constitutional rights to foreign citizens (terrah-ists), which they simply did not do.

The larger meta issue that came out of this, however, is attitude of the more pernicious elements of the beltway press today. These are the same folks that brought us Iraq War II: The Obliterating, and they haven't shown any inclination to change, despite frequent public soul searching and promises to do better in the wake of the war.

Klein responded to the charge that he had factually misreported the text of the bill by playing dumb, saying that he wasn't a lawyer and couldn't judge the text of the bill himself. He sort of tries to issue an apology and correction, but it didn't quite do the trick:
I may have made a mistake in my column this week about the FISA legislation passed by the House, although it’s difficult to tell for sure given the technical nature of the bill’s language and fierce disagreements between even moderate Republicans and Democrats on the Committee about what the bill actually does contain.
Democrats say that I was wrong to report that the bill includes a FISA court review of individual foreign terrorist targets who might communicate with U.S. persons, although it does include an annual “basket” review of procedures used by U.S. intelligence agencies to target foreign suspects. The Republican Committee staff disagrees and says my reporting is correct.

I have to side with the Democrats. I reported as fact a provision of the bill that seems to be disputable, to say the least. Clearly, I didn’t do sufficient vetting of the facts.
At least that's somewhat clear. So naturally there will be a correction in the next print edition, where the offending column ran in the first place? Nope.

After much prodding, Time's editors settled for this embarrassingly mealy-mouthed the online edition only:
In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow a court review of individual foreign surveillance targets. Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't.
Atrios responded with the succinct wit that made him famous:
Democrats believe that Rick Stengel ( and Mickey Kaus have regular threesomes with a goat, while Republicans believe Mickey has a strictly monogamous relationship with his goat.
That summed up about 85% of the problem with modern journalism. It's all he-said/she-said (or for some republicans, he-said/he-said). Very little effort is ever expended to ascertain whether one side of a debate is simply, brazenly, lying. We saw it in 2000 with Bush's claims about his tax cuts. Paul Krugman has long held that any sensible person could have compared Bush's claims about his tax cuts with the undisputed numbers behind his plan, and known back then exactly what kind of president Bush would be.

We saw it ad nausea throughout 2004: Republicans say John Kerry will eat your children! Democrats disagree! The causes and circumstances of the phenomenon have been well explored, but never fully acknowledged by much of the profession. The unskeptical coverage of administration claims about Iraq was treated as an aberration by the beltway press establishment, when in fact it was SOP.

But back to our boy Klein. The editor for Klein's original column, Priscilla Painton, didn't take the criticism well. Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake called her up to discuss the column, and well...
I’ve spent all morning on the phone trying to figure out who the editor at Time Magazine was on Joe Klein’s FISA column (the one Klein has now written about five times, fully admitting he never read the original bill). I finally confirmed that the editor was Priscilla Painton, and called her and identified myself. I asked her what the editing process was, and how a piece with so many errors made it into print.

"That assumes that there are errors," she said. And hung up on me.
Unsurprisingly, this is reminiscent of an earlier dust-up...

Where does that leave us? Glenn's got the up to the hour updates, but sadly, about where you'd expect. We still have the token liberal at a major national newsweekly relying on republican staffers to feed him plainly false attack lines about the democrats, and when the beltway boys get caught, they circle the wagons and act like it's not a big deal.

This one incident in itself probably isn't such a big deal, although it is pretty absurd. The larger problem that spawned the huge reaction from the bloggers, however, is that it's part of a pattern, and is indicative of all the most corrosive elements of modern political journalism.

We're not asking for much, just do your jobs. Maybe with a little pride next time.


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Monday, November 19, 2007

Nutter's Police Chief

I learned the other day, via Mithras, that Mayor-elect Nutter has announced his police chief will be Charles Ramsey, former police chief for Washington D.C. Apparently, the guy is pretty heavy handed. His highlights in D.C. were declaring four crime emergencies (like Nutter wants to do here) that curtail citizens' rights, presiding over mass arrests of demonstrators for which the city later apologized and paid out huge settlements, and instituting traffic checkpoints that lean a little too close to big-brother for my tastes (every driver was entered into a database, regardless of any violations).

I'm not out to bash the guy before his first day of work here in Philly, but I do have some thoughts on the tasks ahead of him. Click "There's more..." for the extended entry.

Ramsey has a tough task ahead of him, and the complexity and scope of it is well beyond my knowledge. I would be so presumptuous, however, to advise against heavy handed police tactics. I think that Commissioner Johnson has worked very hard to try to foster trust and cooperation between the police and the community here. Philadelphia Police Department history is awash in racism and conflict, and there's still a big divide between much of the citizenry and the police. Community policing and building mutual trust is the only way to breach that divide. Stop-and-frisk policies, or other heavy-handed measures to clamp down on crime might feel like they accomplish something, but they often do so at the cost of this community trust.

Johnson has spoken out against Nutter's stop-and-frisk policies, and I think he's wise to do so. Community policing efforts take longer to pay dividends, but they foster the kind of community that people want to live in, not a police state. Stop-and-frisk tactics, on the other hand, foster police state whack-a-mole with crime.

I wish Ramsey well in his new post. I hope that he considers his policies and their impact within the larger context of the city and its historic relationship with crime and police, and not just as blunt tools he brought with him from D.C.

On a related note, anyone wishing to do so can donate to Officer Cassidy's family.


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Sunday, November 18, 2007

The WGA Strike (and responding to that awful Triangle op-ed)

I don't know haw many of you read the op-ed in The Triangle (syndicated from U. Kentucky's paper) about the WGA strike, but it was so bad I felt compelled to respond. At first I wrote up a very harsh letter to the editor, but after realizing that there it would be two weeks before the next issue, and nobody would care/remember the op-ed, I let it drop. Plus, it was a little unnecessarily harsh (On the boneheaded author, not the good staff at The Triangle.) Besides, students at his own school have already rebuked Mr. Nolan in his own school paper. I did want to respond here though.

I knew immediately what I was in for as I read the first the second paragraph: "Social Security is on the brink of collapse..." Ugh. Really? You think so? Is that the level of insight we should expect from the rest of this piece? Against my better judgment, I read the rest of the thing.

Click "There's more..." for a brief recap of the column and some funny videos about why you should support the strike too.

Mr. Nolan's entire column is argued from the premise that WGA members are all Hollywood fatcats who should be thanking their lucky stars for their jobs, not striking and hurting the poor studios. Yeah, I'm not making that up. He is apparently completely unaware of the issues and facts involved with the writers strike. He makes no argument against giving writers residuals, and ignores the crushing weight of common sense and fairness that calls for people to get paid for their work.

At issue is how much writers get paid in residuals for their work, and how much they get paid for their work that goes on the internet. This video is a great explanation of the writers' quarrels.

Here is a very funny video from The Daily Show writers that explains some of the issues in classic Daily Show style (albeit on a sidewalk).

Mr. Nolan would be well advised to do a little research before he passes sweeping moral judgments in print.

Here are the CEO pay and corporate profits of the media companies. For comparison, if ALL of the WGA demands are fulfilled, it will cost the media companies about $60 million (with an m) dollars, combined.
Time Warner:
Revenues—$44 billion
Profit—$6.53 billion
CEO Richard Parsons’ 2006 pay: $12. 95 million. Five-year pay haul: $45.36 million. Stock options value: $14.2 million (at April 2007 prices)

Revenues—$35 billion
Profit—$4.34 billion
CEO Robert Iger’s 2006 pay: $29.93 million plus $8.8 million stock options

News Corp.:
Revenues--$26.74 billion
Profit—$3.34 billion
Boss Rupert Murdoch’s 2006 pay: $25.91 million. Five-year pay haul: $86.42 million. Stock: since he owns the company, his stock is worth $8.7 billion

Revenues—$14.32 billion
Profit—$1.66 billion
CEO Leslie Moonves 2006 pay: $24.86 million. Five-year pay haul: $63.43 million. Stock options: $30 million.

Visit the WGA strike website for updates about the strike, and videos from supporting actors and writers explaining why they need to strike.


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Saturday, November 17, 2007

The CNN Democratic Debate

Many of us watched the most recent Democratic debate on CNN this Thursday at our watch party/pong tournament, but I wanted to post some reactions now that I've evaluated it in the sober light of day.

First, I think CNN did a pretty poor job, both in terms of the questions and the atmosphere. The crowd was out of control, and Blitzer didn't even try to control them. It was a large crowd, but not so large that it couldn't be managed. The crowd had a very obvious pro-clinton tilt, as they were booing and shouting down Obama and Edwards on more than one instance.

Click "There's more..." for the rest, including why Drexel was so much better than UNLV.

I think respectful applause is perfectly fine at a debate, as it adds to the flow of the debate and punctuates important moments. However, there's a definite line between repsectful applause and raucus cheering/booing. That kind of behavior by the audience is totally inappropriate, because it's a privilege to go to one of these events. Tickets go to the golden few, and are not distributed evenly amongst supporters of candidates. The audience is not a representative sample of the public. Furthermore, the American people don't watch the debates to hear the opinions of the audience, they watch to hear the positions of the candidates. The audience members that shouted down Obama should have been kicked out immediately. No one should be allowed to hijack a national event like this by shouting from the audience (and I'm not just saying that because I'm leaning Obama; I'm really not a Clinton Hater.)

Contrast this with the Drexel debate. The audience was generally pretty respectful and restrained. There were applause lines, there were laugh lines, and there was that one instance with Kucinich and the UFO when people were, well, pretty animated. Looking around the auditorium, the most obnoxious person I noticed was an elderly Clinton supporter sitting directly in front of me. She made the Drexel students in the audience look like choir boys.

Regarding the substance of the debate, well, what is there to say. With seven candidates still on stage, we saw lots of questions and short answers. I think that Jamie's article in The Triangle this week was pretty accurate in that there isn't anything substantive about the candidates that you learn from the debates that you can't learn from their websites. Reading Barack Obama's energy policy on his website is surely more informative than listening to him try to squeeze it into a 60 second response to a hostile Wolf Blitzer over a jeering crowd.

With so many debates scheduled, they have been reduced to style over substance (although reduced may not be the correct word, they may always have been there). Still, it's worth watching them and appreciating them for the political theater that they are. Of course, they're more fun if you watch them with the Drexel Democrats over drinks!

Talking Points Memo, as always, delivers a great highlight reel so we don't have to! Enjoy!


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Thursday, November 15, 2007

More Giuliani-bonics

(Scroll down for movie screening details)

I'm sure everyone remembers Biden pointing out at the Drexel debate that Rudy thinks the only three things in a sentence are a noun, a verb, and 9/11. Well, has put together a video of some of Rudy's Giuliani-bonics in action. Take a look.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Movie Screening: "No End In Sight"

On Sunday, December 2nd, at 6pm we will be showing "No End In Sight" in Stratton 113. There will be free pizza(!!!) and an informal discussion afterwords, and everyone is welcome.

"No End In Sight" is the winner of 2007 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award for Documentaries, and is widely acclaimed as a must-see documentary for anyone interested in understanding the Iraq war.

The event is being cosponsered by Dragon Stage & Screen and O.W.L.S in Chi Upsilon Sigma, the Organization of Women Looking for Sisterhood in Chi Upsilon Sigma, the national latino sorority. Campus Progress is also generously contributing to the event.

Click "There's more..." for more details and a trailer of the film.

Once again, the screening is:

Sunday December 2nd, 6pm in Stratton 113

Stratton 113 is the large lecture hall on the first floor of Stratton hall, which is connected to Disque hall, on 33rd and chestnut.

The website for "No End In Sight"
Reviews of the film are here.

The synopsis, from Wikipedia:
No End in Sight is a documentary film that concentrates on alleged mistakes made by the Bush administration in the two-to-three-month period following the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The film portrays these errors as the cause of ensuing problems in Iraq, such as the rise of the insurgency, a lack of security and basic utilities for many Iraqis, sectarian violence and the risk of complete civil war.

To a large extent the film consists of interviews with the people who were involved in the initial Iraqi occupation authority and the ORHA (the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, later replaced by the CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority). 35 people are interviewed, many of them former Bush loyalists who have since become disillusioned by what they experienced at the time. In particular, many of those interviewed claim that the inexperience of the core members of the Bush administration—and their refusal to seek, acknowledge or accept input from more experienced outsiders—was at the root of the disastrous occupation effort.
This event is open to all members of the general community and members of the public. We hope to see everyone there!
Once again, we would like to thank Campus Progess for their generous support. If you aren't familiar with them, you should be, they do great work helping progressive organizations on campus.


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Monday, November 12, 2007

The Case For Obama

This past Sunday Obama was on Meet the Press, and right at the end he made what I believe is one of the strongest arguments for an Obama presidency. Its' a practical argument that supercedes nuanced differences in policy proposals, and I think that there is certainly merit to it. Check it out:

Click "There's more..." and I'll flesh it out a little more.

The idea is two fold. First, as Chris Dodd pointed out at the Drexel Debate, like it or not Clinton would have a harder time winning a general election due to excessive right-wing animosity. However, Obama went to to look past the election. He correctly perceives that with Democratic majorities in the house and senate in 2008, there is an opportunity to actually affect real, meaningful, progressive change in several key areas. Obama correctly, in my view, pointed out that he is in perhaps the best position to bring about big change, something that you can't do with a 50%+1 majority.

Clinton is attacking that problem by making her policy proposals more amneable to conservatives, but lets be honest; any serious attempt by a President Hillary Clinton to universalize healthcare, or tackle global warming, will be met with such conservative fury that even watering it down wouldn't salvage it. We would end up squandering opportunity with political mudfighting. This isn't Clinton's fault, but it's not something we should ignore either.

Obama is in a tough place. He's running the race he promised he would, and it's not resonating with a base that wants red-meat rhetoric and is yearning for partisanship. I trust that Obama has progressive roots, though, and I think that he's our best hope of actually achieving, post-election, transformational reforms.

It's a serious argument that I think is the strongest case for Obama.


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Friday, November 09, 2007

Found! The Drexel College Republicans

I know many of us have been very worried about the loyal opposition here on campus, but I have good news today! The Drexel College Republicans are no longer missing. They even have a website, kind of. Now, go easy on them, because I don't think they're back to full strength yet. They need a few more members for their executive board, and I don't believe they're recognized yet, but they're on their way!

In the interest of bipartisanship, I'm sure that some of our members would be gracious enough to fill their executive board while they get back on their feet!

Go check out their website and say hi. Unfortunately, you need to have a blogger account to leave comments.

Click "There's more..." and we'll examine their website a little more.

So far they're having a little trouble keeping the website current. It has two posts, each older than a week. That's a little suprising, since I know that Mr. Mulgrew is a blog aficionado like myself. He used to post at, for, and now also for "Free Markets for a Free Philadelphia," It's tough keeping a blog current though, especially when no one reads it (I know how that feels!)

I'm actually hoping they get it up and running and stay current, and I mean that sincerely. I think it would be interesting to respond to each other back and forth about things, kind of open up a dialogue.

We use our website extensively for recruitment, educational, and promotional activities. If I could toot our own horn a little bit, we signed up 120+ students to volunteer for the debate on our website, and yesterday we hit an all time traffic high of 926 unique visitors. Dozens of Drexel students have joined our mailing list through the website. We're working on getting more of our members to post piecies on our website, and introducing blogs to the wider student body. I think as more students read blogs and follow politics, fewer will join the College Republicans!

So good luck and best wishes to our red-state colleagues! Here's to keeping your website more current than the last one.


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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Odds, Ends, and Thanks!

As some of you know, this past weekend we sent 24 student volunteers out to Lower Merion on Saturday and Sunday to help GOTV for a few key local races. Well, I wanted to pass along to everyone that every single candidate we canvassed for won his or her race!

Furthermore, Mark Taylor, who we worked for on Saturday, won his race by 11 votes, 704 to 693. That's a very tight margin, and you volunteers should all feel very satisfied, because in a race this close, the hundreds of houses we went to can reasonably be said to have swung the election. You all made a real difference this weekend.

When you work for large, national campaigns, it's very tough to feel any impact of your work. This was different, and you should all feel proud!

Click "There's More..." for updates about last night's meeting if you missed it.

First, we voted to endorse Anne Dicker for state senate against Vince Fumo. We will put out a press release shortly.

The primary agenda item discussed last night at the meeting was our upcoming events. First, Sunday December 2nd we will be showing "No End In Sight," a Sundance award-winning documentary about the Iraq War. We are still waiting for confirmation on our venue, so once that's nailed down we'll start promoting it.

We also have some social events coming up. Anybody who is interested in going to see "Lions For Lambs" as a group, let us know, because we're putting that together. Also, we will have watch parties for the upcoming debates.

We are also working on putting together a panel/townhall discussion of the debate here at Drexel, so keep an eye out for that before the end of the term.

There are a few big events and speakers in the winter term that we're getting a head start on.

Finally, the Drexel College Republicans apparently have a website now. It's here.

Whose site is better? Let me know in the comments!


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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Oh. My. God.

"Crazy" Caroline: I'd be interested to hear what you think about Den Beste and what not. As the Drexel Dems' official feminist, would you like to expand on this topic?

I've been reading blogs pretty regularly since early 2003, before the Iraq war, when I was still in high school. Though I was somewhat familiar with Steven Den Beste, he was still a little before my time. So when Lawyers, Guns, and Money pointed to this post, I was reading it for the first time. All I can say is "wow!"

I would dismiss it as the ranting of a crank, but so many of my elders insist that Den Beste was actually a prominent conservative blogger before he went into exile.

I don't want to write this just to pick on some poor, lonely, guy, but rather I want to point out to the young ones around here how much sexual identity often has to do with politics. I admit, when I first started reading blogs, I thought a lot of the feminist bloggers (the pandagon crew) saw sexual politics where they didn't exist sometimes. I've since realized how naive I was.

Click "There's More..." and I'll elaborate for the blog-novice Drexel Dems.

Seriously, go read this post by Den Beste. It's unbelievable because it's an admission of guilt for everything feminists have ever accused right-wingers of. Den Beste is whinning that women, or, female persons as he calls them, don't love him like he loves them. It's sad and pathetic, but everytime you start to feel sorry for the guy, he says something so idiotic and offensive that it feels ok to laugh at him again. Everything wrong in his life is someone else's fault, and it's usually the fault of a women.

You can see how guys like Den Beste think that women need to be punished for living their lives beyond Den Beste's control. Rightwing attitudes about abortion, equal rights, the right not be be raped or sexually harassed, the right to work, all of these flow directly from the sexual attitudes and frustrations of men like Den Beste into our national politics.

I promise you, you won't be disappointed if you read it. It explains a lot about the wingnuts and their sexual-political hangups. I applaud Den Beste for his honesty, but he was so deluded he thought that people would read it and think "hey, he's right" instead of "hey, he's pathetic."

I definitely recommend reading the LG&M post about gender anxiety and imperialism.

Pick out your favorite parts from Den Beste's "essay" for the comments. I can't pick a favorite, but here are a few top ones:
  • When Den Beste thought that the stripper really liked him
    Now I have no illusions about her motivation: it was mostly mercenary (though that doesn't completely explain that last big hug).

  • How he felt the need to keep mention how loaded he is:
    (Understand that this represented a minor expense for me; because I am very well off financially.)

  • When he laments that if only that nice latina in his office didn't get fired, he totally would be banging some of her hot latina friends right now:
    Unfortunately, two months later she was laid off, and as an upper class professional Anglo, I no longer have a way to make contact with that culture, where I'm sure I could have found what I'm looking for. Had she remained employed there, I suspect I'd be married by now.

  • And Finally, for the creepiest moment, when he describes what a gentlemen he is when he gets lap dances (for which he pays handsomely, because he's loaded after all). I'm not going to quote any of that, for obvious reasons.


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Monday, November 05, 2007

The Ron Paul Revolution?

I've never understood the Ron Paul candidacy, but I'm constantly suprised when I meet his supporters. It's such a hodge-podge of backers that I never expected them to organize. Besides all the graffiti, the signs over freeways, the bumper stickers slapped on newspaper boxes, I didn't think there was much below the surface.

But today I learn, via Atrios, that Paul apparently raised 2.4 million one day! That's pretty remarkable for a protest candidate. Is this real? (update: 4.2 million in 1 day)

Is this anything beyond general disatisfaction with the political system? Paul's backers would hardly agree on much besides their universal dislike of the political process as it stands in this country. But his supporters are apparently willing to their money where their mouths are.

Of course, never discount plain old kooky voter attitudes. On debate day I met a student who didn't want to join the Drexel Democrats because she was a libertarian. I asked her if she was supporting Paul, and she didn't know who he was. Then she mentioned that she was supporting Joe Biden, and I didn't detect an ounce of sarcasm. The distributions of voter information and attitudes have some pretty long tails.

If there are any Drexel Students out there supporting Paul, please enlighten me in the comments. I'd like to know why I'm missing all the excitement.


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Saturday, November 03, 2007


I saw this at DKos, and I thought it was pretty funny. We all remember on Tuesday when Biden said that Giuliani thinks the only three things in a sentence are a noun, a verb, and 9/11.

If Rudy is the nominee, I could see noun-verb-9/11 being a pretty common refrain. What do you think guys: will we make buttons and T-Shirts?

By the way, I'm trying to get noun-verb-9/11 to be called Giuliani-bonics, so play along.
More cartoons at


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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Debate Wrap-Up

We have almost 10 hours of footage, from the debate and from the coverage, that we're going through for highlights. In the meantime though, check out this highlight reel from TalkingPointsMemo

We also have a response to the debate running in this week's issue of The Triangle, so look for that. I'll post the text of it below the fold, so click "There's More..." to read it. Go ahead and point out your observations in the comments.

And yes, we will be responding to Mulgrew's characteristically silly op-ed as well.

The Drexel University College Democrats would like to express our sincere gratitude to Drexel University for the tremendous honor and opportunity afforded all of us by hosting the Democratic presidential debate here at Drexel. I think I speak for all of our members, and the student body at large, when I say that this was a unique and exciting opportunity for students to see the machinery of American democracy in action. I was personally moved being so close to such an historic event.

But now that the satellite trucks have driven off, the celebrities have gone, and the crowds have disbanded, the only question everyone is asking is “Who won the debate?” It’s actually a question I hate answering, because I feel it so oversimplifies the issues at hand that it trivializes the process to ask it. That being said, it’s really just shorthand for “What changed?”

It may be too soon to know whether the race for the Democratic nomination has changed, but we knew going in that the hype was of Sen. Obama “drawing distinctions” between himself and Sen. Clinton. Sen. Obama had generated a lot of hype about going after Sen. Clinton, and he certainly landed a few solid blows. Sen. Clinton saw most of them coming though, and was able to parry with red-meat rhetoric about George Bush and Rudy Giuliani. To paraphrase Chris Bowers, it can be difficult to punch someone in the face after telling them for a week that you’re going to punch them in the face.

Despite Sen. Clinton’s best efforts though, some of the criticisms seemed to stick. Sen. Obama’s strongest asset, in my view, is the fact that he was outspokenly critical of the Iraq war before we invaded, when it was politically dangerous to do so. I think it demonstrates superior judgment than some other candidates, and Sen. Obama was quite forceful in his criticism of Sen. Clinton for lacking that judgment when it would have mattered. It certainly wasn’t the first time the point has been made, but Sen. Obama was awfully direct this time.

Many of the candidates criticized Sen. Clinton for her “Yay” vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment regarding Iran. Sen. Dodd was correct, in my opinion, in pointing out that the logic that caused Sen. Clinton to vote for the authorization of force in Iraq was the same that caused her to vote for Kyl-Lieberman, and that it was a wrong decision in at critical moment.

Sen. Clinton’s weakest moment was in the discussion about providing drivers licenses for illegal aliens in New York State. Like any issue, the intricacies of policy are ill-suited to 30 second answers, and Sen. Clinton talked herself right into a corner. She appeared, perhaps unfairly, to both support and oppose a measure, and it was particularly damaging because it reeked of political calculation, not principled policy. It was exactly the kind of thing that Senators Edwards and Obama had been accusing her of.

Despite these slips however, Sen. Clinton continued to demonstrate why she is leading in the polls. She is a brilliant woman and a seasoned politician, and her Republican opponents underestimate her ability at their own peril.

Sen. Biden isn’t generally considered a front-runner, but I think he comes across very strongly in these debates, including the Drexel Debate. He received positive reactions to both his attacks on Giuliani and to when he provided a refreshing perspective to the Iran debate. Speaking to students in Mandell Theater, Sen. Biden literally silenced hundreds of rowdy students with an eloquent exposition on the opportunities squandered by President Bush, and how the world would be different if he hadn’t.

Sen. Obama also had some good lines, like at the end when he redirected the question about alien life in the universe by saying that life on earth would be his first priority. Judging from the crowd reaction, both in the main auditorium and in the Mandell Theater watch party, Sen. Obama was the crowd favorite.

Finally, no discussion of the debate would be complete without praise for Sen. Dodd’s courageous positions. He eloquently explained the common sense reality that the war on drugs isn’t working, and that we need to decriminalize aspects of our drug policy. Not discussed at the debate, unfortunately, was Sen. Dodd’s promise to defend the constitution and filibuster any attempts by the congress to provide retroactive immunity to telecom companies for illegal wiretapping activities. It would have been a valuable discussion to have with so many powerful senators in one place.

My overall impression from the debate was that Obama helped himself, and was helped by the other candidates as well. Sen. Clinton was knocked down a peg, but it remains to be seen whether it will fundamentally change the dynamics of this race. That’s up to all of us.

The bottom line, however, is that all of the candidates on stage offered positive visions for the future of this nation and the world, standing in stark contrast to their Republican counterparts.