Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Republicans afraid to commit to 2012?

Republicans seem to be dragging their feet to declare a 2012 presidency campaign against Barack Obama. Obama formally announced his plans to run for reelection at the beginning of April. However, many of the big names for GOP potentials are still testing the waters.

Obama’s campaign is speculated by The Washington Post to become the first billion dollar presidential campaign in history. As of now, the list of his confirmed opposing candidates is measly: Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico; Fred Karger, political consultant and gay rights activist; Tom Miller, a career flight attendant; and Vern Wuensche, businessman.

Where’s attention mogul Donald Trump? What about 2008 veterans Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney? These so-called GOP stars are among the long list of figures hesitant to officially announce intention to run.

Potentially even more striking is the list of Republicans who have outright turned down the 2012 ballot. Some of these big names include governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour, South Dakota senator John Thune, governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, former governor of Florida Jeb Bush and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker.

The New York Times identified several reasons why the response has been so timid. These include financial burdens, the economy status and internal struggles from the Tea Party movement. This powerful position is one that comes with heavy responsibilities and commitments.

One of the factors that may be discouraging candidates is the gaping lack of privacy, which has been prevalent in the Trump stunts to have Obama’s birth certificate publicized, leading to Trump’s agreement to release his tax returns. What’s next, college transcripts? Oh, wait …

It appears that the Republican party is not just shy, it’s in trouble. According to a New York Times/CBS poll, almost 60 percent of surveyed Republicans can name a potential candidate they are enthusiastic about. Out of the top contenders, only Huckabee and Sarah Palin are viewed favorably by more than half of Republican voters.

So, maybe it is the finances and media spotlights that’s keeping the Republicans out of the ring. Or, perhaps it’s because none of them have a strong chance. So far it seems like the American people aren’t too impressed by the potential competitors. That feedback just might be what’s holding these politicians back from devoting their time and money into a campaign.

Kirstin Cook
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Liberty or Death: The need for FISA

Devoni Novak
It was recently decided that a lawsuit against a Federal Government eavesdropping law will return back to courts. President Bush set the program in motion back in 2008 to allow intelligence agencies the right to wiretap into international communication. The American Civil Liberties Union along with other organizations declared the FISA Amendments Act to be unconstitutional as a violation of the 4th amendment.
I have to disagree with the American Civil Liberties Union. The government established this law to keep American citizens safe from terrorists. If they have nothing to hide then what is the American Civil Liberties Union worried about? Being involved in the war in the Middle East, not to mention the devastation the country faced on 9/11 (which is the event that caused President Bush to declare war) makes stronger national security necessary.
The FISA Amendment Act does not violate the fourth amendment. Enforcement of this act does not compromise that right to America’s citizens. Only those suspected of being associated with plotting a terrorist attack will be subject to communication spying. If one is innocent then they need not be concerned. They should remember the government serves primarily as a protector not a prosecutor.
When the lawsuit was initially filed, it was thrown out. A Manhattan district judge who received the case did so on the grounds that the plaintiff could not prove they had been violated in anyway. There was no substantial proof that the plaintiff had been eavesdropped on. Therefore, the Manhattan judge felt they did not have legal reason to sue. However, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals did not agree with that reasoning and decided to allow the case to continue.
Many of those who are opposed to this law are lawyers and journalists who converse with people who resided outside of the country. Because they communicate with foreigners, these groups fear they would be subject to government eavesdropping and accused of being terrorists.
Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union stated, “I have always thought that we had a very strong argument. The new law allows the government to engage in dragnet surveillances of Americas’ communication, and it makes the fourth amendment altogether irrelevant.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Obama plans to cut wasteful spending, starting an unnecessary war

President Obama’s recent decisions have sparked controversy around the world.

He believes that we should continue to cut wasteful spending. However, after a few weeks after making that statement, he decided to intervene in Libya, to prevent a slaughter of civilians that would forever haunt everyone and if we did not intervene, we would “betray who we are.”
But is that who we are? After trying day after day to successfully pull out of the two wars we are already involved in, President Obama decided to create his own; one that was not necessary in the least bit for the United States. What will the taxpayers have to pay this time? How responsible should we be held? How much will our intervention cost?  

We need to be unified as a country and we cannot use our military as a solution to the world’s problems. There will naturally be conflict and I do not think that President Obama had the right to decide to bomb Libya so quickly, without much discussion to the American public or Congress. His constant response is that it was the U.S’s moral obligation and responsibility.

In fact, there had been little to no discussion about it. He did not consult Congress prior to his actions. In 2007, Obama was asked in an interview if the president would have the authority to bomb [Iran] without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress, and his response was “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Then what happened?

He also has no plan to ask Congress to fund his war. Yes, it is technically legal and he can do as he pleases, but the country does not need any more debt. The United States is a democratic country, not an oligarchy to the world.

In a recent speech at the National Defense University, he calls himself the “commander-in-chief” and not just President. Had we been in a better position economically, his decision could have been rationalized, but still needed to be thought out.

He sees everything as a competition for America. Sure, it would be great if we were number one in everything, but the truth is that we fell behind and we need to get back on track. He needs to better our economy because he wants to, not solely to up our status as a country. We can’t plan the future without fixing the present.

Obama came in to office two years ago, with an annual deficit of $1.3 trillion and a projected deficit of more than $8 trillion. It costs $40,000 a day for every American soldier fighting in Libya.  His budget is even more alarming.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzes presidents’ budgets and compares them to numbers to what the statistics actually turn out to be. The CBO found that the proposed White House budget, if enacted, will add $9.5 trillion to the national debt, not Obama’s stated $7.2 trillion.

Obama’s optimistic façade to invest in our future should not be overlooked. We can’t keep cutting programs to “save” money, only to see an increase and not a decrease in our national debt. We’ll end up reluctantly dragging ourselves into the future, in economic shambles.

On day one of the Libya air strikes, the launch of 100 tomahawk missiles totaled somewhere from $112-168 million.  The national debt continues to rise with no end in sight.

Amanda Leonard
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Burkean Alalysis: Obama’s Speech on Education-Kenmore Middle School, Arlington, VA

On March 14, 2011 President Obama visited Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia to deliver a speech on education, budgetary constraints and the refinement of the No Child Left Behind policy.  He delivered the speech in the gymnasium of Kenmore Middle School.  In the audience were students of the school, seated directly to the side of the stage, along with school board members, teachers and administrators at Kenmore.

The act was motivated by the talks of budget cuts.  President Obama wanted to ensure the nation that while he is working to freeze spending and help decrease the deficit, that education is a top priority and should not be cut.  President Obama used descriptive and active language throughout the speech while naming some examples of improvements that are being made in the nation’s schools and some of the direct results from these changes.             

The scene for President Obama’s speech was very appropriate because it was consistent with the message being delivered.  Because the President was speaking on education, he delivered the remarks in a public school.  The setting added authenticity and credibility to the speech and showed that President Obama took the opportunity to spend time in the classroom and see first-hand America’s students in action. 

As President of the United States, Obama’s opinion is respected and the country looks to him for guidance and as an ultimate leader.  To have this strong agent deliver this particular speech was very effective.  It is encouraging to know that the President of the country values education.  It is promising to hear his plans for the improvement of the education system that will ultimately benefit our society as a whole.
There must be a connection between the message and its effect.  In this speech there was an immediate effect on the audience in the gymnasium at Kenmore Middle School.  Judging from the audience’s applause at certain intervals, they approved of President Obama’s statements.  They most likely felt encouraged and uplifted directly following the speech.
President Obama strived to make it clear that education is extremely valuable and needs more attention paid to it, not more money taken away from it. 

The agent acted to call attention to the refinement of the No Child Left Behind Policy and the overall issue of education in the United States.  He used the speech as a pep rally to encourage teachers and administrators to strive for greatness and work each and every day to help students improve and reach their goals.  It was important that he again used the reference “nation builders” to describe teachers.

The act had an influence on the scene.  Because the topic of the speech was education, the speech was delivered in a school.  Also, the agent had a direct impact on the agency.  President Obama is a strong agent so it certainly shaped the way the speech was delivered and the effect it had on the audience present and the audience listening.  Those are two main connections that can me made with Kenneth Burke’s pentad.  Overall, the speech was effective and President Obama continues to act as a strong agent.  He worked to make the speech relatable not only to citizens of the country, but students of all ages.

Lindsay Behrenshausen
Wilkes University 2011
Communication Studies

Sunday, April 3, 2011

King of Comb-Over runs for President of U.S.?

          The Republican Party is a little worried. So far, there doesn’t appear to be any solid candidate or power duo set up for the campaign trail. With the country split in two and the Democratic Party suffering from severe popularity issues, America needs a hero. And that hero is (drum roll, please) … Donald Trump! Wait a second; am I missing something here?

          Trump, a.k.a. the prototypical old, rich, white man, has considered giving his enormously successful reign as a realty mogul a break to run in the 2012 Presidential Elections. As farfetched as it may seem, Facebook pages and other internet fan pages are already popping up in support of Trump. Many are arguing that a man such as Trump, with his extensive business history and ability to dig himself out of financial holes, could be exactly the man America needs to figure out this financial crisis.

          Trump himself argues the same point. He has also spoken on live television shows demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate, and hinting that it may say that he is a Muslim. Whether Trump is being serious or trying to get media attention isn’t known. Needless to say, extreme statements get extreme attention, which may be Trump’s underlying motive.

          Trump pulled similar stunts in the 1988 and 2000 Presidential Elections. In both of those cases, he released books around the same time that he announced he was considering candidacy. Both books sold very well. More recently, Trump’s show “Celebrity Apprentice” has done exceptionally well in the ratings, leaving some to wonder if this whole “president” game of his isn’t just an attempt at shameless self-promotion.

          So, will Trump be running for President? Will he be the man to dig our country out of this deep financial hole? Will “Wear Your Hair like Trump Day” be a national holiday in years to come? Chances are – no, but then again, the world is supposed to end in 2012…

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Let’s Make Fun of the President Before He’s Elected

On March 15, 2011, Comedy Central aired their next installation of a series of roasts.  In the past, roastees have included the likes of Larry the Cable Guy, William Shatner, and the ever-so-lovable David Hasselhoff.  This one was different.  This time, Comedy Central decided to take on one of the largest businessmen in history, The Don, Donald Trump.

When this news came out, it seemed a bit odd.  The question becomes when was the last time Donald Trump was even relevant in popular culture?  The last thing that he really publically succeeded in was his television show, “The Apprentice”.  But that show has not even been interesting in the past couple of years.  It is true that Trump does have business ventures constantly going on.  But do people really pay attention to what he’s doing?  Not really.  But then reality set in.  Donald Trump is anticipating running for Republican candidate for the 2012 election.  While this may have made a bit of sense, surely the roast was not just for publicity.  That statement is truly false.

Every roaster there made some comment about Donald Trump’s adventure into politics.  These comments usually came at the end of their roast, leaving it fresh in the minds of the viewer.  At the end of the roast, Donald Trump had his moment to speak.  It was soon blatantly obvious why Trump was there.  He ended his speech with the statement “America is going through tough times and we all need to laugh.  True.  I know that better days are ahead.  If we believe in ourselves, and the way I believe in myself, and I really do believe in myself, then come June, if I decide to run, you’ll have the great pleasure of voting for the man that will easily go down as the greatest president in the history of the United States.  Me.  Donald John Trump.  God bless America, and good night.”  For those who are aware of what a typical campaign speech sounds like, this sure seems like the prototype.  His full roast speech can be found on YouTube.

The true question here is whether using a roast as a platform to gain publicity for his campaign was a good idea.  The answer could be no.  Roasting truly puts everything out on the line, and shows a more vulgar side of a person.  On the other hand, all publicity is good publicity.  Will this roast make a dent in the long run?  Probably not.  But this is a simple example of how politics is continually infiltrating into pop culture.

Trevor Kurtz
Communication Studies 
Wilkes 2013

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Think It's Time To Grow Up

Every year, we the American people elect politicians that we believe are going to represent us in a responsible, adult way. We figure that they are going to handle crisis situations in a mature manner. However, this does not seem to be the case anymore in politics. Most recently, Democrats and Republicans have been butting heads over the current budgets. While the Democrats are proposing that a lot of money be cut out of the budget, the Republicans are demanding that the more money be cut. So the Republicans do not think the Democrats are cutting enough, and the Democrats think the Republicans are cutting too much. What ends up happening is yet another complete divide in the system with nobody trying to be civil about it. It even looked like there could have been a freeze for a while.

It seems that this political divide keeps on growing larger. While President Obama had recently called for unity in his Arizona speech and State of the Union address, the two sides keep fighting like crazy. What is really going on here is despicable.

Let’s take the state government in Wisconsin for example. Republican Governor Scott Walker proposed a bill that includes debt refinancing that would save taxpayers $165 million in 2011. However, this bill would end collective bargaining rights for nearly all of Wisconsin's public workers. Instead of the Democrats discussing this bill, they completely left the state. These do not sound like politicians, they sound like a teenager fighting with her parents and storming out when they did not get her way.

What we need in this country now more than ever are politicians who are willing to act like adults and work together. President Obama had it all right when he talked about unity. However, there is such a political divide in this country that something more needs to happen. In his State of the Union address, President Obama stated, “What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.” Well, it looks like they sat together that night, but they cannot work together now.

Trevor Kurtz
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Privatized Health Care System

Picture this scenario: your house is burning down, but the local firefighters will not put out the fire because you don’t pay high premiums for a certain insurance plan. You have to choose between going into debt because you were not enrolled in a plan or letting your house burn down.

You may have a less pricey plan for fire protection, but that department is an hour away from you and will only pay for firefighters to quell the blazes for half an hour. If you want better than that, you’d better start digging in your pockets.

Sounds ridiculous, right? Welcome to the privatized health care system of America.

President Obama is trying to solve the major problem of 32 million Americans who are in this absurd situation, only it’s their lives and well-being that’s at stake. According to, all Americans would be able to receive the same quality health insurance as members of Congress, premiums from insurance companies will be controlled to keep them low, citizens with pre-existing conditions will no longer be discriminated against and the deficit would be reduced by $100 billion.

So why are so many people against it? According to The New York Times, most republicans argue that it is giving the government too big a role in the health care system. Also, they claim it would kill jobs.

The Center for American Progress disagrees, since they found in a study that the health care reform would create 2.5 million-4 million jobs in the next 10 years. I wonder where the GOP is getting their facts?

Yet with all their complaints, opponents to the reform can’t seem to offer a solution for all the Americans left without coverage. Maybe they don’t think it’s a problem. Maybe they think they don’t deserve health care.

I’d like to end with a quote from our Speaker of the house, John Boehner, from Nightly News:

“While, yes, not every American had fair access to affordable health insurance, every American had access to the best health care delivery system in the world.”

You’re right, Mr. Boehner, they did have access – that is, if they wanted to spend the rest of their lives paying off the bill. And if we have the best system in the world, why is Sarah Palin running over to Canada to get her treatment? Canada has a socialized health insurance system that provides equal care to all citizens. But we all know that’s evil.

Kirstin Cook
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Friday, March 11, 2011

Palin 12' You 'Betcha'

Sarah Palin has no problem making the news, but neither does Lindsay Lohan. Does that necessarily make her a good candidate for the 2012 Presidential election? I sure hope not. “No publicity is bad publicity,” but seriously I think we can make an exception for Palin. Sarah Palin has consistently been making the news ever since the 2008 election, but only a portion of it has been political. When she isn’t hyping up her new joke of a reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” which will probably have the same intelligence level as Jersey Shore, we have to put up with her failure of a daughter prancing around on Dancing with the Stars.

The worst part is it’s not over. We may have to suffer seeing her face and hearing her irritating voice throughout the 2012 election. Honestly, they need a “Palin filter” on TV’s. It’s hard to take her seriously when her voice sounds like something out of a cartoon. I’d rather have a root canal then suffer through one of her mindless speeches.

That’s right, pathetically enough Sarah Palin may still be a top Republican candidate for the 2012 election. Palin told ABC she was “seriously considering running for President” and also said she believes she can beat President Obama in 2012. Palin said, “I’m looking at the lay of the land now,” which I am guessing isn’t too hard for her since her view consists of nothing more than flat plains of snow all the way to Russia.

If Sarah Palin runs, does she actually have a shot? I highly doubt it. Sarah Palin has had countless shots over the past two years to show the American people that she is worthy enough for a nomination. But time and again she has proven that she is more concerned about being a clown for amusement on television, than a leader for our country.
Matthew Singer

Runnin with Romney

Former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney appears to be one of the front-runners of the 2012 presidential campaign. After losing to John McCain in the 2008 primaries, he immediately founded the Free and Strong America PAC, a political action committed whose goal was to help raise money for other Republican candidates and to promote Republican policies.

Romney kept much of his committee’s money to pay for salaries and fees for his existing political staff, which ultimately paved his way to run in the 2012 election.

Initially, Romney was registered as an independent up until his 1994 U.S. Senate campaign. However, as time progressed his policies began to lean more on the fiscal conservative side. He opposes elective abortion, same-sex marriages and medical marijuana. He strongly supports rebuilding America’s education system by increasing standards and quality; he also supports charter schools, school vouchers and home schooling. In favor of Bush’s tax cuts, he is not open to an increase in federal gas taxes. He focuses on creating more jobs for America and wants America to steer in the direction of becoming more independent of foreign oil sources, using alternative sources of energy.

A controversial issue that Romney is directly involved with is his past signing of the Massachusetts health care reform, which is fairly similar to the current health care reform that President Obama is trying to pass. Massachusetts’s health care reform provided near-universal health insurance access through subsidies and state-level mandates.

Romney is opposed to a national individual mandate and believes that decisions, such as a health care reform, should be left up to the states. In The New York Times interview, he said, “People ask me if this is conservative or liberal, and my answer is yes. It's liberal in the sense that we're getting our citizen’s health insurance. It's conservative in that we're not getting a government takeover.”

Romney prides himself upon his business and financial success. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he entered as a CEO at Bain & Company, ultimately leading it out of fiscal crisis and turning it into one of the more profitable firms in the nation. In 2002 he saved the Winter Olympics by revamping organizations leadership and policies, reducing budgets and boosting fund raising. An event that was running $379 million short before Romney stepped in ended up earning a profit of $100 million.

A nation that is slowly recovering a numbing recession, may find Romney candidate to help pull the country out strong.

Amanda Leonard
Communication Studies Major
Wilkes 2013

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Corporations Rebuttle

With the Supreme Court’s decision to grant corporations and big companies individualistic rights relating to donating money to political campaigns, they were finally legally given the Constitutional rights that all other Americans are given.  If big corporations want to support a particular candidate, they should absolutely be allowed.  It is their money.  Why not use it in a way that they see fit?

Corporations, in this specific instance, should be allowed to be viewed as an individual person.  It is a group of people coming together to form one individual being.  Prior to the most recent ruling, corporations were already allowed to contribute campaign money.  The only difference now is that there is no cap to how much they can contribute.  Beyond this cap, not much has changed.

Many people would argue that major corporations giving money to political campaigns thoroughly sways an election.  But it is important to remember instances in which financial support backfired on the corporation.  In July of 2010, store giant Target donated $150,000 to a Political Action Committee that supported Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.  One thing that Emmer opposed: marriage equality.  The man did not want gay people to get married.  It was not long until Target realized that they had made quite the mistake.  People everywhere boycotted Target for supporting the anti-gay politician.  Not only did they irritate the country with their donation, they proved that they were complete hypocrites.  Target was listed as Number 40 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity and received a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. 

What people have to realize is that with individualistic freedom, the corporations have to deal with possible negative consequences.  By supporting a certain politician, it includes supporting the morals they have, which not everybody will agree with.  If the majority of the nation disagrees with the morals the corporation is supporting, boycotts will ensue (like the Target boycott), causing the corporation to actually lose money.  Consequences will have to be dealt with.

If corporations want to contribute money to a campaign, I see nothing wrong with it.  If voters are serious about their votes, they will be looking at the morals and issues that the politician campaigns, not the businesses and corporations that are supporting them.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Corporations are taking the power from citizens

Last year, the Supreme Court eliminated limitations on corporate funding to support political candidates – in other words, big companies can now spend as much money as they want trying to influence Americans. This ruling is founded on the idea of ‘corporate personhood.’ Corporations are granted the same rights as people, which was a legal decision to simplify lawsuits and allow the corporations to be legally sued. However, this shortcut is destroying our democracy. Giving this type of financial power to corporations is stripping it from the average citizen. Clearly, a corporation has more financial ability and influence than the average Joe, so eliminating their restrictions on political funding is giving them an even greater advantage.

It is senseless to make a connection that a corporation has the same rights as a person. A corporation is not a person. It is made up of people, who already have their individual rights and freedoms. If everyone within the corporation was in support of a candidate, they could individually show their support and fund contributions in alignment with the Constitution.

The result of removing corporate limitations is not an increase of freedom for the individuals involved, but an increase in power and influence for the company. Now, major companies, such as oil companies and insurance companies, can use their influence and paychecks to shape elections. And who’s to say everyone involved with the company is in support of this politician. Those who do not would be stripped of their voices through the corporation’s decision.

This change is going to have a negative impact on the upcoming election. It is predicted that an increase of support will be shift to conservative candidates, as the liberal viewpoint typically rejects this change. If a liberal candidate does accept excessive corporate support, I think they will receive a negative response from their supporters.

Ultimately, I think this change will give corporations the ability to fix elections. Money is a powerful tool, and it will be abused in the upcoming election. More money to a candidate means more publicity, so corporations can propel any candidate they choose into the public light. This is bad news for democracy.

Kirstin Cook
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013