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See You Next Spring

by admin ~ June 18th, 2009

This closes out the spring 09 term and our very successful Obama watch, documenting the first hundred days of a new president’s term. I’ll teach HI 113 again in Spring 2010, with some other online project instead. Thanks for a great semester!

Resources for your Hundred Days Paper

by admin ~ April 30th, 2009

Some links to help you write your Hundred Days Paper, due Monday 5/4 in class:

Paper guidelines

Obama’s inaugural address (full text and video) on BBC.com

BBC’s “100 Days in 100 Seconds” recap (this is the clip I played in class)

100-Days analysis news roundup, on the website of The Atlantic magazine – see also their “100-Day Pollapallooza

The Washington Post is doing a Q&A with its editor during & after Obama’s town hall & press conference on Wednesday night

Time Magazine assesses the first 100 days

PBS’s coverage of the First 100 days

Reflections on the 100th Day

by admin ~ April 29th, 2009

April 29, 2009

President Barack Obama’s first one hundred days in the White House have just ended and people are now looking at what is to come. Obama has managed to keep the economy from falling apart and promises the American people that it will get better with time. He has received a sixty-five percent approval rating from the American people, the highest one hundred day approval since Ronald Reagan. He told America during the weekend that change is happening and the Democratic National Committee have launched an interactive map to show the changes done in each state so far. However on Monday Obama did take some time out of his schedule to challenge woman’s UConn basketball team to a game of P-I-G. The Huskies said that Obama won the game against them and only missed one out of five shots. The women also said that Obama was a big trash-talker on the court. On Tuesday Obama gave his “full support” to Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter. Obama will raise money and campaign for Specter. Many people have become worried of the recent scare of the swine flu, however Obama has said that the swine flu is not a cause of alarm but is a cause of concern. However, Obama has faith that our health care system will be able to solve the swine flu outbreak before it gets too serious.

So far America is happy with what Obama has done. He promises that the economy is getting better but it will take some time. He does not want the public to lose faith in him because he knows it will turn around. We will have to see what the President’s next one hundred days have in store.

Rebecca Rosenberg

Lower Manhattan Flyby was “Felony Stupidity”

by admin ~ April 28th, 2009

Link to the article at CNN.com - this relates to our discussion on Monday about 9/11 and national trauma; the Dept of Defense using skyscrapers as a “photo shoot” for the Air Force One plan allowed it to fly close enough to buildings to panic New Yorkers. What were they thinking? It’s not clear, and some are calling for Louis Caldera’s dismissal.
Prof. Hangen

Weekly Radio: Hard Choices and Belt-Tightening; Turkey’s Response (Day 96)

by admin ~ April 25th, 2009

On Friday April 25th, President Barack Obama released his weekly address to the nation. The main focus of this address was on the economic crisis the United States is in. He describes his efforts for exiting this crisis as building a foundation that “invests in quality education, lowers healthcare costs, and develops new sources of energy powered by new jobs and industries.” He talks about the citizens of the United States needing to “tighten their belts, and make hard choices”, and he says the government must now do the same. He would go on to say that the challenges we face today can not be met with older methods Washington has used, or as he calls it “stale thinking.” During a cabinet meeting earlier in the week, Obama came out with a simple message to cut what doesn’t work. In a bold statement he tells the people that in the days ahead they (his cabinet) will go through the budget and identify 100 programs that will either be “cut or eliminated.”

Also Turkey released a response to the President’s earlier comments on the 1915 Armenian Genocide. They called the President’s comments “unnacceptable” on Friday, which happened to be Armenian Rememberance Day. On April 6th during Obama’s trip to Turkey he said he was encouraged by the dialogue between Turkey and Armenia, but apparently Turkey was not so happy with his.

Nate Sanborn

Labor Department Staffing (Day 95)

by admin ~ April 24th, 2009

On April 24th, President Barack Obama made progress in the Labor Department and helping along the United States economy. President Barack Obama elected Mary Beth Maxwell to be the senior advisor of the Labor Department. She will be working alongside a group working to improve the jobs and the lives of workers named The White House Task Force on Middle Class and Working Class Families. Maxwell originally worked as the executive director of the labor coalition American Rights at Work. David Bonior, the current board chairman, will take her seat in American Rights at Work. The Employee Free Choice Act, an act that would make workers have an easier time joining labor unions, is championed by the American Rights at Work. This act is important to many workers and was denied by several senators last year when they voted against it. Those who are fighting for the act believe it can still work and are hoping it will pass this year.

President Barack Obama also asked Congress to put in place budget controls that would require any new tax cuts or expansion of the government benefits programs to be fully paid for. He wrote in a letter to California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi that he had asked, “Congress to work with me” since making these new rules is vital to returning, “our nation to fiscal health.” The president feels that his current plans are similar to the budget rules that stopped the expansion of government and helped end the budget deficit in the 1990s. Although the details on the plan are vague, hopefully this plan will help fix the current budget deficit.

James Miller

Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights (Day 94)

by admin ~ April 23rd, 2009

April 23, 2009

Today marks President Barack Obama’s 94th day, making him six days closer to the touted hundred days. President Obama’s public approval was shown by an extensive study to stand in the middle of the ten presidents who preceded him. According to the study, when Obama reaches his 100th day, he will have the same public approval rating held by George W. Bush.

I think that this is quite fascinating as President Obama was greeted with such high admirations and was given a seemingly large amount of positive public approval upon being sworn into office. His reversal in public approval is notable – but why? I wonder if his downturn in public approval has been caused by his actions or lack thereof.

Today President Obama met with 14 representatives of the credit card industry to launch an attack on disparaging practices by top credit card companies. His plan calls for a reform of credit card owners privileges by creating a ‘Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights.’ The bill would provide protection from increases and excessive fees, call for an end to bill gimmicks, and prohibit programs from aggressive marketing to borrowers. The credit card companies say this plan will raise costs for owners and reduce ease of access to credit. They also feel it will hurt the economy.

I think that while this seems like a good plan, the opinions of the credit card companies are worrisome. How do you know which side to believe? The Bill of Rights seems like a sound idea: giving more rights to credit card holders and prohibiting terrible actions by the credit card companies makes complete sense to me. However, there is one key piece of evidence I keep in mind: The credit card companies are represented by the likes of Bank of America and Citigroup, whose actions have in part caused the financial crisis we face now. I think that based on their former decisions, their opinions should be made invalid. If this bill is voted into reality, I can only hope that the credit card companies are wrong.

Benjamin Koertge

The First Earth Day of the Obama Administration (Day 93)

by admin ~ April 22nd, 2009

April 22, 2009

President Obama spent his first Earth Day in office in Iowa at a facility that uses wind as an alternate source of energy. President Obama spoke about how America needs to begin to use different sources for energy, whether it be air, water, or something else; he would like us to find a energy source that frees us from our dependency on foreign fuel and keeps pollution at a minimum. He addresses how these problems stem from our weak economy and how in order to start working on alternate fuel sources, we first must work on our economy. He mentions the progress we are already seeing from the Recovery Act and how he is setting aside $15 billion a year solely for the development and use of a clean energy source. The next topic he discussed was climate change, and how he would handle that. President Obama’s proposal is that there should be a limit on how many harmful gases Americans produce a year, whether they be emissions from vehicles, power plants, basically any source that releases damaging gases into the air. His goal is to create a market, so to speak, where companies can buy or sell how much pollution they emit into the air. He believes that with this type of system companies will be forced to take part in more economical and earth friendly methods. He ended this speech on a more hopeful note, saying that it is not only up to the government but also up to the American public to make a change and take what happens to our earth into their own hands.

Crystal Jolly

Obama Not at Durban II (Day 90 and 91)

by admin ~ April 20th, 2009

April 19, 2009

The Obama Administration decided not to attend the Durban II conference in South America on Racism, which has left some people confused as to why the first black president would not attend such an event. I believe his worries came from the fact that many Middle Eastern nations have used this meeting as a format for anti-Semitic rants against the nation of Israel. Obama has been less compromising with Israel than Bush was, and this move helped him from completely losing the support of AIPAC (the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee).

April 20, 2009

Obama’s decision to not attend the conference was a smart move. Iranian President Ahmadinejad used the event as an opportunity to condemn Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. These theatrics would have put our president in an awkward position. On another topic, following the disclosure of Bush memos that have brought into question why we tortured in the first place, Obama has still held the position of “Moving Forward”. Obama has been clear in protecting the CIA who were following their directions, but when Robert Gibbs explained this to the press, he was quickly asked why not prosecute the Bush officials who twisted the laws in their favor. All Gibbs could say was “the president is interested in looking forward”.

Jorge Ramirez

High Speed Rail (Day 88)

by admin ~ April 18th, 2009

April 17, 2009

President Obama called for spending around $13 billion to launch a “new era” of high speed passenger rail transportation. This will spark competition among states and potentially provide a rich new market for rail equipment makers. Obama has allocated $8 billion in stimulus funds for high speed rail, and the president says that he will seek to budget $5 billion more over the next 5 years. President Obama spoke of “a new system of high speed rail in America” that “will be faster, cheaper, and easier than building more freeways or adding to an already overburdened aviation system.” The states and cities that already have high speed rail projects ready to go will benefit the most from this money. Obama has outlined a plan for handing out money that is going to favor those states that have high speed rail projects already in the process. Obama did say that grants will first be used to upgrade the existing intercity lines, where Amtrak trains average speeds no faster than 79 miles per hour. And after that some funding will be dedicated to building new high speed routes. Routes occupied by bullet trains capable of travelling above 150 miles per hour. To build a high speed network comparable to the one in Western Europe would likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but Obama called the $13 billion “a first step.” I am curious to see how this plan works out, and how it will affect the already struggling auto industry.

Ryan Foley