Friday, May 29, 2009

College Democrats of America National Convention

Hi Dems,

This summer, the national College Democrats of America Conference is being held in Washington, D.C. from July 23 - 26. New York is a leading contender for State Federation of the Year so we want to get AS MANY New Yorker's down to DC as we possibly can.

If you are interested in attending, you can register at Registration is $50 if you sign up BEFORE MAY 31!! After May 31, registration goes up to $65.

Here is a link to the fb event page for convention -->

Hope to see everyone there. Feel free to message me back if you have any questions

President, CDNY

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ethnicity on the Courts

Most people have heard Judge Sonia Sonomayor's statement about reading the law as a Latina versus a [white] man. This has been construed to mean that she will legislate from the bench (because of, also, a butchered joke) and is a reverse racist.

It is impossible not to be an impartial judge. I know that that is a radical thing to say, but if you think about it, it is not that absurd. Everyone is different. We all have biases. We all have inclinations. We all see things differently than everyone else based on our intelligence, upbringing, culture, race, religion, experiences, affiliations, and etcetera. So, of course, we will use our individuality in deciding.

Last night, on Anderson Cooper 360, John King asked that if a judicial nominee said that he would read the law in terms of a white man, would the person be confirmed. The politico said that no judicial nominee would have a history of such statements. Before I went to sleep last night, I thought about this topic. If you say "White man," an image of some type of dominance comes to mind. Similarly, if you say "black man," one would think of someone who was once marginalized. There are so many stereotypes that this plays for:








good at math







person wearing glasses


I know that this sounds bigoted, but realize that society has somehow (I'm no sociologist, so I don't know how) implanted these thoughts in our heads. Of course, however, most people know that these stereotypes are not true. What I think Judge Sonomayor was meaning by her statement was merely an embrace of her ethnic background. Embracing one's heritage is nothing of which to be ashamed. Tell me, what high school did not have an Asian-American club, an African-American club, an Irish-American club, a Polish-American club (you get the point)?

The Contract of Marriage

Currently, I am watching Larry King. George Takei and his husband are discussing the recent California Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8. They made a good point, though, for over 20 years, they sleep in the same bed and kiss each other good night, it makes the biggest difference in the world on being married. They said that most would not understand the difference between personal commitment and marriage, but I have a good analogy: think of the difference between a pact that is sealed by a hand shake versus one that is done by a legally notarized contract -the later is simply a deeper bond. Though (at least in the State of New York) oral contracts can be legally binding, they are not as significant as a written document. Similarly, making a deal between loved ones verses one with the whole society makes a world of difference.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Catholics vs Obama

Oh, how this story seems to keep on playing endlessly. I just saw this video:

For those of you that have been living on a rock for the past two months, conservative Catholics are angry that President Obama is speaking at Notre Dame. Why? Because he is 'pro-abortion.' First off, NO ONE IS PRO-ABORTION! Being pro-choice means that the decision is not up to you, but up to the decider. Morality is a personal thing (anyone that has ever read Kant would know that); I have personal morals that some people may not follow (like, how I make it my duty to always wish friends 'Happy Birthday' -something that not everyone can agree with or could follow). That duty can only be a moral if everyone can follow it. Well, on the issue of abortion, to begin this argument, only women can choose that.

Second off, these people that oppose Obama speaking never seemed to have a problem with conservative speakers that are -if you weigh it- more opposed to Catholic Social Teaching. (I am working on a more extensive blog post on that very topic, which is forthcoming.) The argument is that since Obama is pro-choice he is opposed to fundamental Catholic beliefs. Maybe one, but other issues are just as heavily weighted. Health care, environment, anti-war labor, death penalty, and poverty -all of these are necessary to be consistently pro-life. So, Obama who is wrong on one issue suddenly has more moral baggage than Newt Gingrich (whom spoke at Fordham University last month) whom is wrong on all of the other ones? Why is one life suddenly more precious than another? All of those issues are necessary to sustain life, why does one trump them all? A friend of mine once said "conservatives care about babies up until the point they are born." I will not go so far as to say that, but when I look at the hypocrisy of all of this, I cannot help but feel that he is right.

The radical liberal would say that President Bush is just as wrong as Obama on the life issue because of the War in Iraq. I do not know what to make of that (to make a poor pun, such a weighing is 'above my paygrade'). I doubt that if President Bush spoke at a Catholic University, the Cardinal Newman Society would make it an issue (they certainly did not for Newt).

I will be honest, at face value, I am not consistent on my views on Catholic Social Teaching, but I look at the issues on a more philosophical level that makes the issue more complex -but that explanation is for another time (I blame my Jesuit education).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Media Studies Misses You, Jack

Right now I am watching Anderson Cooper 360 (instead of writing a paper). Dr. Sanjay Gupta is discussing the case of the partial face transplant at the Cleavland Clinic this past December. I ask myself why he declined Obama's offer to be Surgeon General. I know that he wanted to be able to keep working with his patients. But, how many patients can he have close ties with if he is a neurosurgeon and a CNN contributor? Neurosurgies can take hours, but he still does his reports. I guess it is true that you sleep less when you get older.

I begin to think how Kal Penn is now working for the Obama Administration. Two seemingly celebrity-types were approached to work for the President. Certainly, my counterparts on the other side of the aisle will say that this is more proof that he is more of a celebrity than a President. But are the two that different?

Presidents walk red carpets, don't they? Presidents are approached for autographs and photos, right? Presidents have name-recognition, yeah? A celebrity is nothing more than someone that is widely popular. So why not use other 'celebrities' to spread your message? Most celebrity-run political movements have several celebrities and few (if any) politicos.

Choosing Gupta and Penn was one of the smartest moves by the President. Why? "Medium is the Message." Every time I think of that Marshall McLuhan quote, I realize how brilliant the father of Media Studies was. I am a believer that Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan are so idolized is that they were first actors. Actors are trained in how to appeal to a certain audience and hone the message that way. The medium -the actor's craft- is the message -the idea or proposition trying to be conveyed. You never see a public speaker say a bold proposition as a first point. It is always the last. The effective speaker begins on a universally accepted proposition and will slowly flow into the proposition. If you do not believe me, watch the 2003 State of the Union; President Bush started on much more 'compassionate' conservative themes that democrats could agree upon and, eventually, highlighted a plan for war in Iraq. His speechwriters were brilliant.

Why not choose celebrities (even if they are b-list) to work for your administration? They, in theory, know how to shape the message so people will get what message is trying to be conveyed. Of course, you do not want to mention what is hot-button issue in one state, but will in a state that is cooler on the issue. Celebrities, from my experience, know how to give concise question answers in some media (like television) and more thought-provoking answers in others (like magazines). One must realize who the target audience is when shaping a message to communicate. Celebrities, likely, know who follow them (like strong women follow Oprah and teeny-boppers follow the Jonas Brothers), so if a celebrity says "I support this candidate because [issue followers coincide with celebrity]," the follower will listen. While typing that last sentence, I wonder if Obama would have done so well if Oprah had not enforced him; since all of time is based on cause and effect, I will never know. Kal Penn certainly knows that stoner-film and medical drama lovers will listen to what Obama, through him, says. I am also sure that Sanjay Gupta would have the same scenario with people that care enough about current events, but do not care to watch
C-SPAN all day out of quickly-induced boredom (like me). Using the proper communicator, people will listen.

Obama was smart in implementing new media in spreading his message. Young people aren't reading newspapers. They're online. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube -Obama used it. It was a genius move. When you want to research a topic, you don't go to a library and go into the card catalog (like our ancestors did), you go do a Google search. A quick search on Obama and an noun would (and still will) reap thousands (if not millions) of results. Chances are, the top hits would be from legitimate sources (including official websites). So, when people wanted to know how Barack Obama stood on an issue, the top hit would be a blog post or a video. I cannot speak for you all, but I read (and remember) almost every website I read (not necessiarly true for schoolwork, however) (which, can make me seem to be a creeper when I accidentally remember what someone posted on Facebook weeks prior -but that is a whole other issue).

I am not saying that the President is manipulative. I am sure that President Obama knows that millions of Americans agree with him on many issues. But, if those people do not know that he agrees with them, they will not vote for him. He is just, strategically, expanding his base.

You may be asking why I chose this title for this post. One of the things I am most proud of in my family's heritage is that my (now deceased) second-cousin was Jack Culkin, a man the New York Times dubbed the "Man that Invented Media Studies." Culkin was a protege and close friend of McLuhan. Some of my mother's fondest childhood memories was with Jack. Because of her passing on these stories, I have investigated and, hence, realized how much ourselves is shaped by the media. If I ever run for President, I will be sure to have bloggers and Hollywood-types working in my communications department.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rename Swine Flu?

Yesterday, listing to a local New York radio show "John Gambling in the Morning," one caller asked why the Swine Flu is not being called "Mexican Flu" (or for that matter, why Bird Flu is not called "Asian Flu"). The (obviously racist) argument was that since the viruses originated in a certain area, it should be named as such and the reason it was not named that way is because of political correctness.

There are two problems with the argument:
  1. They are named the way they are because the virus came from certain types of animals. Swine = pig or hog or boar. Bird/Avian = birds. The viruses somehow moved from being limited to a certain genius of animals to humans (which, coincidentally, is what is believed to be the basis of HIV/AIDS). It just so happens that it started in certain areas outside the United States.
  2. The last big outbreak about Swine Flu was in 1976 (and, before that, in 1918) and it was not related to Mexicans.
Honestly, what was that caller thinking? In the contemporary society we live in today, it is not smart to be overt in one's racist beliefs (or leanings).