Tag Archives: Obama

USF Community Comments on President’s State of the Union Address

Foghorn staff asked, “What was most interesting to you about Obama’s State of the Union address last week?” 

Meagan Cuthill | Senior politics major

“I thought his address was very typical of how Obama’s speeches go. Very well presented, well balanced. I think he delivered a State of the Union that was expected, in a good way, and even so there will always be critics. Like oh, he didn’t comment on this issue as much as he should! Or that anecdote was inappropriate! For example. Anyways, all in all it was well-rounded and him addressing minimum wage and foreign affairs (despite some questionable wording) were the best for me.”

Robert Elias | Politics professor

“What become clear to me is that Obama feels as though congress has been an impediment to getting things done. He’s putting the burden, the blame, on congress… but at the same time, he’s kind of abducating responsibility. Yes, congress is horrible at getting things done, but Obama hasn’t been a good leader in terms of rallying and gaining support for what he wants to do.”

Students and professors had mixed reviews about Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, last Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

Students and professors had mixed reviews about Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, last Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

Ian ScullionJunior politics major

“Some notable highlights, but largely an uninspired propaganda piece (which is historically characteristic of State of the Union Addresses in general mind you). President Obama touted his “all the above” energy strategy yet again—the argument being to ostensibly become “energy independent.”

While these euphemisms may sound agreeable to the masses, the actually existing policies behind the rhetoric are quite shocking. Part of his “all the above” energy strategy includes – if deemed “safe” for the climate – the building of the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would funnel tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

In 2012, prominent American climate scientist James Hansen remarked that the exploitation of these tar sands would mean, ‘game over for the climate.’ Yet surprisingly, a recently released State Department report asserted that the building of the pipeline would not significantly exacerbate green house gas emissions in the United States. At the moment, Keystone XL looks relatively imminent. That is unless popular backlash, of which there is a remarkable amount, proves effective.”

A better turn out than the Giant’s Parade. San Francisco turns Union Square into Gotham City to make one little boy’s dream come true. (Photo by Nicholas Welsh)

A Dream Come True: Five-Year-Old Batkid Saves Gotham City

San Francisco’s Chief of Police hopes that one day Mayor Ed Lee will praise him the way he praised Miles Scott, the five-year-old cancer survivor who saved San Francisco/Gotham City from terrible criminals last Friday. Police Commissioner Greg Suhr, acting as Commissioner Gordon, was one of many Batman characters present for the day of elaborate festivities in which young Miles’ biggest wish — to be Batman — became a reality. Miles, who thought he was just picking out a Batman costume to play around the house, ended up spending the day riding around in a tricked out Lamborghini “Batmobile” and fighting crimes committed by the Riddler and the Penguin.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation organized the event, which they say drew around 10,000 people to the streets of “Gotham City” to watch Miles rescue a damsel in distress, stop a bank robbery, and save Giants’ mascot Lou Seal from a terrible fate. A flash mob in Union Square to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” helped direct the Batkid, who was accompanied by his sidekick Robin (his little brother) and an adult Batman (acrobat/inventor Eric Johnson) to the scene of a crime. After defeating the mischievous criminals, Miles brought them to City Hall. The Riddler and the Penguin were indicted by members of the San Francisco branch of the U.S. Attorneys’ Office and FBI, and the Batkid was hailed as a hero. Miles was presented with the key to the city by Mayor Lee in front of the crowd of thousands gathered in the Civic Center Plaza.

“It was moving. That many people coming out for one five-year-old…it says a lot about how good people are,” sophomore Patrick Cairns said.

Miles, who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 18 months old, is currently in remission. While on stage with Mayor Lee, the five-year-old held up his arm in triumph. For him, he was celebrating the victory over crime — but to the crowd, it was a symbol of his triumph over the deadly disease.

“Those people didn’t just come out for Miles; they came out for everyone who has leukemia, you know? If it had been another kid, even one who wasn’t as cute, they still would have come out,” Cairns said.

The event, which has been in the works since March, was never intended to get as big as it did. Miles’ story went viral on social media, inspiring people around the world to comment, share, and re-post. The hashtag #SFBatKid was rampant on Twitter, and even President Obama joined in to congratulate the Batkid via video after he saved Gotham: “Way to go, Miles; way to save Gotham.”

Unfortunate Traditions Exemplified in Tragedies

Almost a week ago, I came across a CBS interview of Colin Powell questioning the verdict that was rendered in the Trayvon Martin case. Powell, a long-time Republican, crossed his arms as he expressed praise for President Obama’s address to the country shortly after the verdict.

President Obama directly discussed contemporary race relations for what may have been the first time in front of the entire country in his presidential tenure. Powell, who endorsed Obama in both 2008 and 2012, spoke of the challenge to acknowledge the progress our country has made thus far, yet highlighted the continuing need to repudiate racial bias that still exists in many parts of our country.Colin Powell as an African-American man, no matter how successful and renowned, cannot deny what he sees as racial injustices and bias in this country.

As a young black man, I too find myself sensitive to the decision rendered in the Martin case – perhaps more so than anything, because of the historical context in which I viewed the case. For me, I was reminded of the traumatic memory of the acquittal of the killers of Emmett Till, and of the not-guilty verdicts issued in the cases of preventable deaths of men of color, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo (both men were killed by police officers dressed in civilian clothes).

That historical context, as President Obama himself stated, is essential in evaluating the response to the perceived injustice felt by “Black America” after the case’s outcome. With the Martin case however, I cannot help but notice the lack of evidence presented by the prosecution to convince me George Zimmerman acted due to racial hatred. Instead it seems to be an instance of racial profiling gone extremely wrong. While they are both forms of racial bias, to say they are equivalent is misguided.

Recently another popular case has come to my attention allowing my perspective to expand:  the recent killing of white baseball player Chris Lane, who was murdered by three teenagers (two of whom were black; one of whom admitted the killing was somewhat racially motivated). Clearly, there are differences to note in juxtaposing the cases – the perpetrators were teenagers and were apprehended immediately. But I cannot help but notice the divide between empathy and opinions on the cases with notable, paralleling racial lines.

The vehement positions that I have encountered thus far – that often shape discussion of the cases – seem to reflect the context in which one sees the world , which can largely be related to racial identification. That is to say, I can imagine it to be much easier to empathize with the fear of finding yourself in a situation similar to Chris Lane’s. Vice versa, as a young black man, I understand the emotions that arise as a victim of profiling. That is not to say, however, that it is impossible to empathize across racial lines.

Unfortunately, both of these cases are unpleasant but necessary reminders of the racial tensions our country still faces. We, as Americans, have the privilege of living in a heterogeneous society, but are also tasked with the responsibility of mitigating the occurrences of racially charged violence continuously. This is a task that contemporary events and history show we will continue to struggle with.

Staff Editorial: Searching for the Right Time to Make History? Look No Further Than Today.

The same way we look at the ’60′s is the same way people will view our genraration decades from now.

Remember and act in the year you are living now, because they are momentous ones. 30 or 40 years from now, you — along with young people, historians, politicians, bloggers (if they will even exist that far down the road), and many others will be looking at 2013 and adjacent years and see a pivotal era in American and world history in the same way we look at the 1960’s today.

This isn’t meant to be cosmic or sentimental advice. This is a serious admonition to pay attention to a remarkable confluence of current events that harken back to the society-shaking shifts in attitudes that took place nearly 50 years ago in the 1960’s. The question to ask yourself is: what will your legacy, contribution, and story story be when, decades from now, people study the 2010’s, easily the 1960’s of the new millennium?

For example, today, the United  States, even with its current drawdown of troops in the Middle East after more than 10 years of war, is still embroiled militarily in campaigns against international terrorism. 50 years ago, American military power was similarly being used toward the ideological defeat of communism, most famously and disastrously in the drawn-out decade-long campaign in Vietnam.

In another example, the nearly unprecedented resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the subsequent election of Pope Francis, a Jesuit Argentine, on March 13 gained as much interest in the renewal of a troubled Chruch as the Second Vatican Council did when it was first convened by Pope John XXIII to reexamine the role of a globalizing Church in the rapidly changing world of 1963. If you hear the Catholic Mass in English rather than in Latin today, for instance, you have the Second Vatican Council to thank for that.

The Supreme Court, which monopolized the national spotlight last week because of last weeks’ arguments to legalize gay marriage, offers a third parallel. Decades ago, massively important social issues found a resolution in decisions like Brown v. Board of Edcuation (1954)  which sounded the death knell for hundred-year old segregation laws in the South, and Roe v. Wade (1973), which recognized a constitutional right to an abortion.

A similar tug-of-war between states’ rights, federal law, and changing social attitudes is playing out today. The nine Supreme Court justices will now spend a few months hashing out decisions on the status of voter-enacted state gay marriage bans and a U.S. law restricting certain important federal benefits traditionally married couples.

Clearly, both the ‘60’s and ‘10’s, though obviously very different times, share a common spirit of deep, momentous, and memorable change. If there was ever a time to contribute a vo categorize ice to a notable era — to literally make history — now would be a very, very good time.

Cyber-Defense Can Be Threat against Liberties

As the necessity to protect the United States from foreign cyber-attacks increases, citizens must be cautious of how the government approaches the matter.

Nations are increasingly turning to cyber-warfare as a method to sabotage another nation’s civil, economic, and military infrastructure.  Last week, for example, The New York Times  examined a report detailing a hacking unit based in Shanghai. The unit succeeded in forcing access into some of the largest American firms’ confidential records.  It also hacked into the networks of firms who owned extensive documentation of American infrastructure, including pipelines and power grids.

Our society’s relatively recent dependency on computers creates a new and serious vulnerability for the nation, and the need to take action is obvious. President Obama, in his State of the Union address, stressed the dangers cyber-warfare posed and the urgent need to take action to stop it. In the address, he talked of signing an “executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security…”

But as critical as it is to take decisive action against crippling cyberattacks, the autonomy the government will take upon itself to combat this threat can’t be unlimited or totally secretive. Before we give the government a green light to begin keeping tabs on us electronically, we must ask ourselves if we willing to forfeit our rights to privacy in the name of cybersecurity.

A vauge statement such as the one President Obama made over a month ago cannot be acceptable when it comes to the legal monitoring of private electonic activities and information. Such ambiguity allows the government to get away with intrusive actions in the name of cyber defense. Without a very specific plan that is made public, the risk is very high that a cyber-attack task force will abuse its power and spy on the private lives of Americans.

Limited sharing of  information between private citizens, their businesses, and the government is a good idea. It would provide the ability to improve defense when a coordinated attack does come our way. But such action must be selective. There must be competent oversight to hold the government to these limitations and ensure no loopholes exist where our privacy and personal information is freely examined by the government.

President Obama has correctly identified the prevalent threat of cyber hackers.  But we must also acknowledge that in sharing our information, we must surrender our privacy rights. The question is how much.