Debate Coverage

Debate Pics: Dems vs Repubs on Unions

They may have been in the thick of (friendly) combat, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t look good doing it! Thanks to the artistic and talent photography skills of Swara Salih, we have the evidence to prove it.

please link don't die

From left to right: Jamie Boothe for the Republicans, Austin Heyroth and Sejal Singh for the Democrats, and Emily Tamkin from CPU moderating.

For more pics check after the jump.

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US Politics

The Trayvon Martin Case: When Tragedies Become Politicized…

The story of the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has evolved into a nation-wide discussion. Most readers are probably familiar with the series of events: on February 26 Trayvon Martin is found dead in Stanford, Florida, killed by a 28 year old neighborhood watch captain named George Zimmerman. The police believed Zimmerman’s story, that he had shot the teenager in self defense, without much investigation. Over the following days the parents of Trayvon call for Zimmerman’s arrest but the police refuse. The situation escalates and heavy criticism is laid on Sanford Police Chief Billy Lee for mishandling the case, and he is eventually forced to temporally step down. Meanwhile Zimmerman still hasn’t been charged (partly  due to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law), and the campaign for his arrest has grown across the country. Over 900,000 people have signed an online petition for his arrest and events called “Million Hoodie Marches” made thousands take to the streets.

New York State Senator Eric Adams wears a hoodie to show solidarity for the death of Trayvon Martin

Initially the media ignored Trayvon’s murder, but as soon as outrage started to build, coverage started full force and it made the issue even stickier. Since Zimmerman was injured in the conflict, cable news shows debated ad infinitum whether he acted in self defense or not. Was he racist, or did he want to play the hero? Geraldo Rivera even went as far as to blame the teenager’s hoodie for putting him in harm’s way (inadvertently causing a spike in the hoodie’s popularity). But that’s not all. Zimmerman has received death threats and has gone in to hiding. As a response the New Black Panthers have put out a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman’s “capture.” Most recently film director Spike Lee tweeted, incorrectly, Zimmerman’s address, making a neighborhood woman a target for those angry at the police’s inaction.

But for the most part this discussion was a social issue, and it only crossed over into the political world when President Obama was questioned about it at an unrelated event. When listening to Obama’s response it’s clear that he’s on tenterhooks, trying to balance an emotional response without diffintively weighing into the issue. But his mere mentioning of Trayvon’s’s death opened a can of political worms that are doomed to wriggle across the political sphere until some sense of closure is obtained.

Read more after the jump.

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Debate Coverage

CPU Debate: Republicans vs. Dems on Public Sector Unions.

oh noes

Or maybe we don't?

Come on down to Hamilton 602 to witness the friendly yet fierce title bout between the college repubs and dems on this fresh an exciting topic…  Resolved: Public sector employees should not be allowed to form unions.

If you can’t make it, as always, there will be a live blog of the happenings right here on Cub Pub. Stay tuned!

  • *8:18 The debate is beginning and there is only one republican, Jamie Booth, repping  for the republicans to match the dems two debaters. So far the goofy CPU designated coin flipper already botched the coin flip. Off to a great start?
  • 8:21 The dems start, arguing that public sector jobs should be allow to unionize. Saying it’s part of our American right to organize and where employees work doesn’t matter. Jamie from the republicans argues that one cannot collectively bargain with the government as a civil servants. They must put the nation above themselves and thus they shouldn’t be able to demand more benefit for their own personal gain. Rebuttals are ongoing.
  • 8:27 prepared questions are starting. Are tax dollars that ends up going to public sector unions a waste? Dems argue that the question misses the point since peaceful assembly is a constitutional right. Our lone republican argues back saying a peaceful assembly isn’t necessarily a union and vice versa. Both seem to have answered CPU’s question on tax payer dollars.
  • 8:32  Scott Walker, governor from Wisconsin has entered the debate and things get fierce. People either love him or loath him. Well, maybe not love, not dislike?
  • 8:34 second question, income equality rising resulting in less union involvement? jamie argues that lower unions participation is more due to people recognizing that they could do better on their own. Soon the debate turns to a debate over whether works should be forced into unions or not, and both sides fight over it while both agreeing on “no.”
  • 8:37 The dems in the audience are getting really into the debate and things get heavy. The repub debater suggests that unions can only be harmful to the economy which sparks some uproar. Says that unions are “self serving” and endanger the economy.
  • 8:41  Jeannine, prez of the dems, asks Jamie “if we can assemble but not collectively bargain or strike then how much freedom do assemblies really have? Does that mean te government is restrict our freedoms?” Jamie argues that freedom of assembly should be truncated if it endagers the safety of the American people and the solvency of its economy. The dem argue that these freedoms shouldn’t be violated “except in extrem situations like war time.”
  • 8:46 Upon prompting from Ms. Tampkin, the dems come out and say that unions should be allowed to protest and collectively bargain. Dems start talking about Scott Walker again, pointing out how he allowed only unions who supported his election to retain collective bargaining rights.
  • 8:49 dems point out that some law preventing collective bargaining and public sector unions would probably never pass. Well, yeah. Jamie references the Laffer curve, suggesting descreasing taxes on corporations increases tax revenues, which would be true if 70% of a company’s profits went to taxes.
  • 8:52  Difference between government and private sector? Repubs say that public sector employees need to put the country first and must accept cuts without complaint.
  • 8:56 We’ve reached that sweet, hazy part of the debate where people start repeating themselves. The government is the people, it comes first! It’s a fundamental right given to by the constitution! Repeat ad infinitum.
  • 8:59 Jeannine argues that if the government prevents public employees from striking and demanding any more pay then what’s to say that goverment employees shouldn’t work for free, or be paid the minimum. Jamie argues that some positions are essential for the nation, air traffic controllers, ect, and the government has a right to prevent them from striking. They should amicably discuss the situation with their employers without forming “threatening unions that will threat to strike.” Dems are against.
  • 9:05 Jamie admits that he believes that collective bargaining, people coming together to talk with employers, is bad. He thinks that people should talk with employers as individuals. The example of firefighters collectively bargaining for better safety equipment become the hot button issue. Is it too sentimental of an issue? Is collective bargaining only good when they try to get workers better working conditions, not higher pensions?
  • 9:10  When do unions go bad? When do things get excessive? It’s all very unclear. The republican debater soldiers on, saying public sector workers like firefighters can always quit if they dislike the conditions of his job. Dems argue that firefighter skill sets are very specialized, they can’t just quit.
  • 9:11 West Virginia coal mines! Jamie argues it’s an example of unions that work because it’s necessary, in private sectors, and not excessive. Dems argue that change wouldn’t happen without everyone’s right to collective bargaining. And with that we break for closing statements…
  • 9:17 Closing statements begin and there are no surprises. Dems argue that despite the effect on the economy or anyone’s personal opinions, it is a fundamental constitutional right for workers to organize as unions and collectively bargain. Jamie argues that public workers must put the country first and thus shouldn’t “endager society” by collective bargaining. Instead they should come individually to their employers.
  • 9:21  And that’s a wrap. Good debate everyone, despite some hiccups. Check out the events set up by the dems, repubs, and of course, CPU.
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Campus Politics, CPU Updates, US Politics

Back From Break Roundup!

No matter how long you laze in bed, it keeps turning.

Welcome back Cub Pubbers, Cubb Pubbetes, &  Cub Pubians a like. Yes, break is over and that means you have to reset you’re sleep schedule and somehow break out of the habit of doing nothing everyday. We at the Cub Pub know that it can be hard readjusting to society after a week of nihilistic freedom, so let us help you get up to date. Here’s the low down:

  • The CUCR Town Hall: The College republicans town hall was scheduled right before break with the goal of tying up any loose ends about the CUCR/Ahmadinejad scandal. The event was attended by mainly reporters and members of either Columbia repubs or dems and all and all was very low key. There were plenty off jokes and riffing between the slightly tipsy republicans and democrats (who boasted that they pregamed the town hall, AhmadinejaSHOTS!) and maybe a few politicalarguments. On a serious note, executive director Nashoba Santhanam admitted that in the past CUCR has been “deliberately controversial,” and that the new board wants to focus on poltical discussion on campus. The republicans announced that they will have three more speakers for this semester, although they were not ready to announce who.
  • Obamabarnard Continues: It’s a story that’s been talked about on a national scale, from Spec to the New York Times. People are still talking about it though: Bwog recently released an interesting article breaking down the President’s motives for choosing to speak at Barnard. For people who want to look at new issues check out Spec’s CCSC Council Election Coverage!
  • Conflict In Syria: Turning away from Columbia, the bloodshed in Syria continues to get little media coverage in the US or UK. If You haven’t heard, the fighting started last year during the Arab Spring.  Syrians demanded the regination of President Bassar Al-Asad and the end of his party’s nearly 50 year long rule. In response Al-Asad turned his army on the protesters, killing thousands, and there has been conflict ever since. The most recent story out of Syria that has gained wide media attention is the hacking of Al-Assad’s email account, revealing that he enjoys iTunes, country music, and Harry Potter Movies. But while all this makes for good Jon Stuart bits, the reality of these leaked emails is that they reveal messy details of Al-Assad’s opressive regime.
  • The Cub Pub has been silent on the whole Kony 2012 phenomenon. Chances are that you’ve heard it all before: Non profit group “Invisible Children” posted a 30 minute long video on youtube advocating more the arrest of Joseph Kony, an Ugandan warlord and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army who uses child soldiers and a bunch of other nasty things. The video goes viral hitting over 80 million views and earns the group a cavalcade of new supporters and also critics (most of the facts presented in the film are at least 5 years out of date and Kony is no longer active in Uganda). The most recent news to come out of Invisible Children is that co-founder and the video’s director Jason Russel had a mental breakdown due to stress and ran around in only his underwear. While the drama at Invisible Children is entertaining, what’s going on in Uganda seems to have been overlooked. Recently there was a screening of the Kony 2012 film in Uganda itself and Ugandans were not very happy, even hurling rocks at the screen. They feel like the film trivializes their suffering. For a first hand take check out the video below:
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Campus Politics

What we talk about when we talk about politics

photoshop skillz, I have them

Emily Tampkin tags in on the CUCR scandal

Emily Tamkin is our lovely overlord at CPU and by extension the patron of this blog. But, by night she’s also an editorial page columnist at the Columbia Spectator. Today she had an article published with Spec about the CUCR scandal that erupted this week, and we think it’s worth a read:

Last week, it became clear that two now-former members of the board of the Columbia University College Republicans lied to this paper and their own organization about plans to bring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to campus. It is hopefully also clear that we, the board of Columbia’s non-partisan undergraduate political group, believe that their actions were unequivocally unacceptable. However, as the two now-former members are indeed now-former, and as the College Republicans are holding a town hall tonight, it is also clear that CUCR, too, found the aforementioned to be condemnable, and that they are looking to move forward with greater transparency. What may not be clear, however, is that all of us, in and out of political student groups, can and should take this moment to reflect on the sort of political conversation that we want to be having on this campus.

We do not want to suggest that we don’t understand why there was the uproar that there was over last week’s sequence of salacious scandals, because we do. But we most certainly do want to suggest that perhaps the conversation that ensued last week is not the one we want to be having. Because, for all of the people who were eager to talk about the fake invitation, none of the comments that we read on any piece in any campus publication pointed out that, to the Iranian population, Ahmadinejad is decidedly not a joke. Because all of the uproar and Internet exchanges were not over an issue of any substance, but over a prank that went awry. Because, while the example that is set for us leading up to the 2012 election may be one of extreme partisanship, we have the opportunity to set our own example for one another, and to contribute to the electoral atmosphere in some small way. And because, while we can understand why writing a comment about another student’s misdeeds is more appealing than writing about the larger political issue, that’s not what we should be striving to write. That’s not who we should be working to be. This isn’t what we should be talking about when we talk about politics at Columbia.

Ours is a campus with a strong history of political engagement, and our contribution to that history can be as sublime or as senseless as we want it to be. What’s more, college has the potential to be a time to establish, challenge, and reaffirm our political convictions, and there are conversations that we can and should be having to enable that. The one that we were all too willing to take part in next week is probably not among them, but if we use it to consciously elevate the register of our discourse, it could be.

We encourage everyone to go to CUCR’s town hall tonight, both to hear what its board has to say and to contribute to the conversation. We encourage everyone to go to political events, to read and write to political publications, to take the issues of the day seriously (even if we take ourselves not quite so seriously in the process). But above all, we encourage the students on this campus to remember that we are what we speak. If we treat politics like a publicity ploy or an opportunity to comment on a news article, if we treat civic engagement like a joke, then that’s all it will be. But if we treat political conversation like an opportunity to express ourselves, to listen to others, to share what we already know, and to learn what we don’t—maybe it can be that instead.

This article first appeared in the March 7th edition of the Columbia Daily Spectator. For more on the scandal check out takes by Spec and Bwog.

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Campus Politics, US Politics

Obama heads to Barnard, but is it Snub or Stratagem?

he hated it didn't he

The future president, unsatisfied with his college experience.

Last week there were two bombshells in campus news and they both involved invited speakers. Soon we will be republishing an editorial on the CUCR /Ahmadinejad scandal, but first we discuss Obama’s controversial decision to speak a Barnard College’s commencement.

“He just really didn’t like Columbia.” That’s the conclusion of Sean Udell, CC’11, the man who organized a yearly petition to try to get the president to speak at Columbia’s commencement. That’s just one of many opinions that the Columbia Spectator gathered for their recent article on the matter. Students seem to have mixed feelings. Barnard students are ecstatic, but Columbia students feel disappointed, and some even feel betrayed. “It seems like a slap in the face” said Emilio Fajardo, CC ’15.

But some, and the us at Cub Pub included, don’t see it as a snub. No matter how awful Mr. Obama’s time at King’s College was he’s a careful enough kind of guy that he wouldn’t do such things out of spite. Rather, he is using Barnard as a soapbox to talk about women’s issues in the election. The news has been inundated with it lately with the combination of debate over contraception availability and Rush Limbaugh’s capacity to stick his foot in his mouth. Barnard would be the perfect place for Obama to connect with young, liberal, feminist-minded voters who are interested in these issues.

However Some Columbians don’t see it as a good enough excuse: “As a Columbia woman myself, I find it disappointing that he wouldn’t have thought to bring these issues to his alma mater,” said Donia Abdelaziz, CC ’12. It seems just like his experience in Washington, there’s just no way for Obama to please everybody.

Update: The New York Times has published an article about the whole Columbia v. Barnard stink. Check it out here.

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