Jul. 23, 2015
Obama speaks on criminal justice reform at NAACP convention
Current and former democratic presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton spoke on the future of The United States’ criminal justice system before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples 106th Convention in Philadelphia July 14. President Obama’s speech came the day after he commuted the sentences of more than 46 nonviolent drug offenders, more than double the amount of prisoners he commuted during the entire rest of the year. The address also came two days before his visit, on July 16, to El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma, making him the first sitting president to visit a federal prison.
Jul. 11, 2014
Iraq: ‘the garden of forking paths’
On June 29, the first day of Ramadan, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria declared that it had established a caliphate and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, its erstwhile leader, would from now on be known as Caliph Ibrahim and serve as Emir al-Mu’minin, or the commander of the faithful. Al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State cleverly tapped into the lack of political maturity and inexperience of the contemporary ruling cliques in Iraq and Syria, which are universally disliked within and outside the Islamic world.
Apr. 4, 2014
The modern GOP, a party of zombies
They say there’s no room for a third party in American politics. There’s a reason for that: If there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans can both agree on, it’s making ballot access for third parties as difficult as possible. But wait: Isn’t that antidemocratic? Yes, with the small “d.” For Democrats who want their liberal wing to stay marginalized within their party rather than risk the emergence of a genuine alternative to their politics of accommodation, though, that’s just fine. As for Republicans, they did face an insurgency five years ago in the Tea Party. Because modern Republicans move easily, almost instinctively to the right, they were able to fit the Tea Partyers into their caucus, although who swallowed whom may well be debated.
Jan. 31, 2014
Obama defines Promise Zone in Philly
President Barack Obama has directed federal agencies to focus a helping hand on the neighborhood that borders the northern outskirts of Drexel University’s West Philadelphia campus, labeling the area a Promise Zone. First mentioned during last year’s State of the Union address, Obama’s Promise Zone Initiative is designed to channel federal resources to create jobs, improve education and improve safety.
Nov. 1, 2013
Obama’s had a bad year
It seems an age ago that Barack Obama, after his convincing defeat of Mitt Romney in 2012, began his second term in office. The president had fresh wind in his sails. In his inaugural and State of the Union addresses, he laid out an agenda of gun control before a nation that appeared finally ready for a serious approach to the subject after the horror of the Newtown school shootings. He also addressed immigration and education reform, infrastructure development and repair, and a systemic effort to bring climate change under control — in short, all the unachieved goals of his first term. He spoke hopefully of bipartisan support for these goals and forcefully about Congress’ and the country’s moral obligation toward the victims of Newtown, Conn.
Jun. 28, 2013
Enviroweekly | The politics of climate change
Many of us know that this week has been pretty eventful at our nation’s capital — the Supreme Court declared a discriminatory section of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, thereby allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, and issued a ruling upholding the U.S. District Court’s ruling regarding Proposition 8, thereby re-allowing same-sex marriage in California, and an “unruly mob” of Texans contributed to the filibuster of a bill that would virtually ban abortion in the state of Texas, but I’m here to give you the lowdown on the climate change address that President Obama gave June 25 to Georgetown University and the rest of the world.
Apr. 26, 2013
Leftists: living in a state of denial?
President Barack Obama has sent a budget to Congress, which I guess is news because he’s overlooked that particular function of the executive branch until now. However, the news that seems to have grabbed everyone’s attention is his proposal to cut Social Security benefits by recalculating the cost-of-living adjustment formula that is notionally supposed to keep their value in line with inflation. The new metric, the so-called Chained Consumer Price Index, understates inflation, especially for food and medicine. Because those items are of particular interest to senior citizens, this has suspended forks over food trays all over the country. It has also revived the oldest, most anguished question on the so-called American Left: Is Barack Obama really a progressive?
Mar. 8, 2013
Second term, second chance
When I first heard of President Obama’s announcement to push for a complete freeze of Israeli settlements in 2009, I was working in East Jerusalem. Ziad, one of my editors, was ecstatic with the news, forcing every employee within the office to view the video clips of Obama’s declaration. Perhaps it was silly or naive of me to expect progress to occur. With the speech, sure enough, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promptly pushed further illegal construction projects within East Jerusalem and the West Bank, refusing to be persuaded by the U.S., the European Union and the international community as a whole. With little success to speak of, Obama quickly folded, and by the following year the idea of a settlement freeze seemed like a long-forgotten dream. What is not surprising of this story is the right-wing rejection of any progress on settlements as demonstrated by the Netanyahu administration’s actions and behaviors. What is surprising, however, is that Obama may have a second chance to push the settlement issue and thus the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a whole. And better yet, this second time around looks far more likely to succeed, an achievement that would surely place Obama’s name in the chronicles of great leaders before him.
Feb. 15, 2013
The State of the Union address
President Barack Obama gave the first State of the Union address of his second term Feb. 12 before a joint session of Congress. The address, which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, is typically given annually and is an opportunity for the president to lay out his policy goals for the coming year. Nielsen, a company that rates the number of viewers of various media, stated that 33.5 million people watched the State of the Union, the lowest number of viewers since former President Bill Clinton’s address in 2000.
Jan. 25, 2013
Letter to the Editor – Environment