Category Archives: Opinion

The Opinion section is not only our voice, but yours as well. We encourage all currently enrolled U of L students as well as faculty and staff to use the Cardinal as a soapbox for the issues that are important to you.

obama

Editorial: The Louisville Cardinal endorses President Barack Obama

Sammie Hill, Sports Editor

In this year’s election, I am planning to vote for President Obama. I think both candidates have strong platforms, but my personal beliefs align more with President Obama and the ideas he plans to implement over the next four years. I respect the opinions of supporters for both candidates and encourage everyone to vote no matter who it is going to be cast for.

Anna Meany, Features Editor

President Barack Obama is absolutely the best choice for re-election this year.  His past four years in office have ended a war, established a new, successful healthcare system and created jobs.  While Romney has constantly shown indecisiveness in his campaign, President Obama has stayed loyal to his party’s and his own personal goals for the nation.  I think that stepping out as the first president to support gay marriage shows the immense progress under his administration and promises a stronger commitment to oppressed groups, including those who live outside the United States.

Rae Hodge, Editor-in-Chief

This election year, I’m endorsing Barack Obama for president. As a low-income female student, I would not benefit from any of the policy decisions proposed by Governor Romney. Governor Romney’s proposals would cause harm to my well being medically, financially and socially. Also, I have an instinctual dislike for vice presidents that do p90x.

Michelle Eigenheer, News Editor

I’m not especially impressed with either candidate, but the deficit is the biggest problem facing the United States, and Mitt Romney is the candidate qualified to fix it.

Lee Cole, Opinion Editor

I endorse Barack Obama for another four years.  He has brought us away from the brink of economic catastrophe, fought for healthcare reform and fought for average Americans on Main Street.  He has ended the war in Iraq and allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.  He ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, America’s most hated enemy.  He’s doing the best he can in a bad situation brought on by people with policies like Mitt Romney’s.  I believe we will get out of the mess Bush created, and I believe my president will be the one to get us out.

Simon Isham, Assistant Features Editor

I’d like to come out with my endorsement of Barry O. Many commitments from the 2008 campaign were not fulfilled, but two promises—allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military and awarding them discrimination protection in their job searches—furthered basic human rights and should be recognized.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com

romneyside

The Romneyverse: What a universe in which Mitt Romney is elected the next president would look like

Because of his constantly shifting positions, and what President Obama termed “Romnesia,” there seems to be a level of quantum uncertainty involved in the election.

By Lee Cole–

According to some quantum physicists, there is not just one universe governed by one set of physical laws and constants, but rather an infinite number, in which all possibilities and all possible configurations of physical laws are realized, which they’ve termed the “omniverse.”  So for instance, if you were to buy a bagel instead of a muffin this morning, there is an alternate universe in which you chose to buy the muffin.  There is yet another universe in which you bought a blueberry muffin instead of chocolate chip.  And there is yet another in which you decided you couldn’t afford either a muffin or a bagel, and because you were distracted and fatigued as a result of your hunger, you stepped out in front of a bus on 4th street.  If all that is true, then it holds that there is also a universe in which Mitt Romney becomes the next president.  I’m becoming increasingly concerned that I might reside in that universe.  Let’s call it the “Romneyverse.”

What might the Romneyverse look like, you ask?  What is it like to see the world through Mitt Romney’s eyes?  Well, like the omniverse, Mitt Romney’s subjective world is one in which any and all possibilities could be realized.  Mitt has been both a ruthless Bain Capital investor and a champion of social liberalism in Massachusetts.  He has been both pro-choice and pro-life.  He was for universal healthcare before he was against it.  He was against coal as an energy source and now he isn’t.  The set of moral and personal laws which have governed Mitt’s choices have shifted so many times that charges of waffling no longer hold any sway.  He doesn’t try to conceal his shifting views; any attempt to point out the contradictions results in obfuscation by the Romney team and insistence that he never really meant what he said before, even if it was just a few weeks ago.

In any other time, Romney wouldn’t have been a viable candidate because of his inconsistent beliefs.  There is a degree of quantum uncertainty involved here, as it is nearly impossible to determine his position at the rate he moves.  If an observer attempts to put her finger on Mitt’s position, the wave function collapses and we capture something of Mitt’s viewpoint in that observer-determined instant on a transcript or a secret video at a fundraising event.  But the Romneyverse defies these rules; as soon as one tries to pin anything on him, based on something he actually said or supported in a captured slice of time, Mitt has already moved beyond it, abandoning the position like a frontier outpost to delve deeper into the unknown.

The truth is that Mitt Romney will be whatever gets him elected.  He will say whatever scores political points in the moment, without regard for future consequences.  He’s been running for president for 6 years, and by sheer force of will and the influence of contributions made possible by Citizens United, he’s come this far, and that fact should be astounding and deeply troubling.  He isn’t likeable, even for Republicans, and he represents the lifestyle and trickle-down philosophy that crippled our economy under Bush.

Is our collective memory span that short, that we’ve forgotten how the great recession happened?  Are we that fickle, and frankly that thoughtless, that we could possibly vote for Mitt Romney, of all people, the epitome of Wall Street, deregulation and religious commitment to soul-crushing consumerism and product fetishism?  It’s a bad cosmic joke that just four years after super-rich, irresponsible corporate-types who care nothing for the poor or the middle class screwed over our economy, the man propped up by the Republican Party to lead our country is a super-rich, irresponsible corporate-type who doesn’t care about 47 percent of the country.

The race is very close, and at this point, it’s anybody’s game.  For all intents and purposes, it’s a tie, but like the New York Times, if I had to bet, I’d bet on Obama.   The incumbent always has an advantage, but to really secure victory, President Obama has to change his debate strategy.  Because of what we might call the Romney Uncertainty Principle – that at any given moment, the more precisely we describe his position, the less we are able to describe his momentum, and vice versa – the president cannot refute Romney on a point by point basis.  He cannot quote Romney or use facts and figures.  He can’t even really point to Romney’s platform, either, as it’s about as vague and generalizable as a horoscope.  What President Obama has to do is express what many Americans feel and suspect about Romney.  He has to start speaking in the broadest of terms, not just pointing to policy differences, but instead focusing on less tangible philosophical differences.

In the second presidential debate, Romney did a lot of that for him.  His tone and demeanor belied the tenuous façade he’s been maintaining.  He came across as smarmy, disrespectful and misogynistic.  President Obama was forceful but dignified, even when Romney behaved as though the president was beneath him – like he was scolding a child.  Since Obama first entered the race in 2008, commentators and journalists outside of Fox News have underscored the particular vitriol with which mostly white, older people, often from very particular geographic locales and fundamentalist religious backgrounds, criticize and seem to hate Barack Obama.  The hatred and racism continues to this day, and it will be what leads many Republicans to hold their noses and vote for Romney.  Romney’s worldview – that 47 percent of Americans are lazy and don’t take responsibility for their lives – won’t be shocking to those who hate Obama, because they share his opinion, even if in their case it’s blatantly self-loathing as many would be considered a part of that 47 percent themselves.

The position of the woman outside the VP debate in Danville – that Obama is a socialist – is not unusual among southern, conservative Christians, even though neither she nor the rest of her cohorts could ever explain what socialism actually is.  For them, socialism is just a word Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity say every day which translates as a threat to the pristine, White, Christian, suburban, consumer capitalist fantasy that they now consider normal – a threat in the form of people of color and the impoverished organizing and taking part in the system

It is inherently racist and xenophobic, just like the Mormon Church until 1978, when they finally decided that Black people were not an inferior species.  As Christopher Hitchens pointed out, Mitt Romney was an adult in 1978, and this has to be reconciled.  No one will bring up Romney’s faith, of course, because it’s seen as off limits.  But what liberals who are so concerned with religious tolerance don’t realize is that for many conservatives, racism, homophobia and xenophobia are deeply ingrained in not just their social and political views but their religious views as well.  It’s the elephant in the room that can no longer be ignored.  It can’t be said that all, or even most, conservative Christians are racists, sexists and homophobes, but it would be a safe bet to say that most White, Christian, racist, sexist homophobes vote Republican.

So what would the Romneyverse look like?  It would be a place where abortion is outlawed in the U.S. and a woman’s reproductive choices are handed over to men.  It would be a place where we put women in binders.  It would be a place in which millions of LGBT persons would be denied the rights they deserve and children brought to this country through no choice of their own would be subjected to “self-deportation.”  It would be a place where Blacks and Latinos are threatened with force if they attempt to vote, where unions no longer exist and the wall between church and state is demolished.  It would be a place where the super-rich can continue to exploit and manipulate those less fortunate.  It would be a place where students, including many at U of L, would struggle even more than they already do to pay for college.  It would be a place where we continue to deny global warming, poisoning the air we breathe and cutting the earth out from under our feet.  It would be a place where people who are sick and cannot help themselves die so that a CEO can have one more private jet.

I truly believe that this is the most important election in American history.  We have a choice as to which America we want to live in, and I hope that we will choose the one that Barack Obama envisioned four years ago, an America worthy of its founding principles.  I hope that the Romneyverse – that place where all of our worst patriarchal and chauvinistic impulses as human beings are realized – is destined for some other distant, parallel time.  I hope the people living there, when the American morning dawns the day after the election, will realize what they’ve done.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy of Jeffwinbushfiles.com

Cartoon illustration by Michael Layman/The Louisville Cardinal

Supermarket chivalry: An etiquette guide for shopping at the grocery as a couple

Cartoon illustration by Michael Layman/The Louisville Cardinal

By Anna Meany–

Is chivalry really dead? It’s definitely not on the required list of traits that ladies require their boyfriends to have these days, but shouldnt we be critiquing the guys we date a little more harshly?

Maybe the place to look for politeness isn’t the grocery store, but it wasn’t long ago that I noticed a certain someone with extra-special manners while at the grocery store – and it really stuck out to me.

It got me thinking about the most mundane chore of anyone’s day: stopping by Kroger to pick up cookie dough, Ramen noodles or energy drinks (maybe that’s my normal grocery list).

Supermarket etiquette could be the most un-thought-of concept ever, but it counts.

Here are a few things to remember when you’re with your girl at Kroger:

1. Offer to hold the basket / push the cart.

How often will people think to do this? It’s not like we’ll be surprised if you don’t, but it will make a hell of a difference if you do. It’s kind of like walking alongside the traffic-side of the street; it shows you care about our comfort.

2. No inappropriate food jokes. 

Okay, I understand that offering to put your ranch dressing into her hidden valley sounds cute, but is it what we’re in the mood for while we’re grocery shopping? Us ladies will probably start looking for boyfriends who are food innuendo-free if it becomes a nuisance.

3. Don’t stall.

Especially if you’re at a particularly sketchy grocery store. The last thing we need is a child holding us up in the toy aisle.

So here’s a word of wisdom for all men: pay special attention to your ladies in public places. We don’t just appreciate the manners, but it’s nice to show off our gentlemen.

Was I really that surprised that someone would offer to hold my grocery basket while I looked for the few things I needed? Guess so, and it made an impression. What an unexpected place to discover gentlemen, but you can really tell the difference between guys who are gentlemen by nature and those who do it for the temporary rewards (uh hmm. We’re on to you, boys.)

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com

Students moving from Miller Hall

Editorial: Molding us for the future

 Students both required to live on campus and exposed to ethical hazard

“How do you like your U of L dorm?”

“It’s growing on me.”Bada-bing.

It would be easy to take a few cheap shots at the University of Louisville for the recent mold problems on campus that led to the relocation of hundreds of students in the middle of their mid-term exams.

It would be easy to say that U of L’s record amount of private funds is being misdirected, noting that the U of L Board of Trustees and the Council on Postsecondary Education approved a plan to build a $38 million, 128,000-square-foot student recreation center, and that U of L sold $37.5 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of the project.

We could argue that U of L should spend more on maintenance and less on new structures, and talk about the $31 million road project that will provide access to a 39-acre area that university officials plan to develop into the Belknap Engineering and Applied Sciences Research Park, of which U of L Foundation provided $6.2 million and the state provided $24.8 million.

As easy as they might be, they aren’t fair arguments against the university. Although mold doesn’t happen overnight, the University of Louisville’s spending record is proof enough that the intent of the U of L Foundation and Board of Trustees is to provide high-quality facilities for campus living. If anything, their securing funds for future construction proves their interests lie in creating the type of livability that keeps students in class and paying tuition. We’re a growing campus, and in the last 10 years the physical presence of this university has inarguably improved.

Accidents happen even to the best of us. In 2010, Columbia University was responsible for buildings that were found to have both mold and vermin. Responsible institutions do what they can to prevent accidents, apologize for their occurrence and rectify the situation by providing restitution to the effected and by preventing the same mistake from happening again.

U of L’s mold accident doesn’t so much highlight the flaws in U of L’s investment strategy as it does in their policy. Forget the cheap shots; here’s the real problem: requiring students to live on campus in these facilities per the First Year Live On policy. Because they cannot guarantee that accidents like these won’t happen, it is unethical for U of L to take away a student’s right to make their own informed choice of residence. Beyond that, First Year Live On is an incredibly infantilizing policy that should offend anyone old enough to sign a lease.

Forcing freshmen to live on campus their first year allows U of L to guarantee a yearly dollar amount to the private companies that own, construct and lease the buildings. This is the same principle as the student meal plan: to entice companies like Subway to set up shop, U of L guarantees a dollar amount via their mandatory meal plan.

On both the housing and food level, it is unethical for U of L to contribute to an inflating student loan bubble by taking federal student loan dollars (which you’ll have to pay back later) and giving them to private companies, particularly when the quality of the product is forever in question. I think that’s worth repeating: at U of L you are essentially a conduit through which private companies are able to access public money.

Regardless of how much money U of L invests in new construction projects, and regardless of how fantastically they may maintain the older buildings, the argument remains the same: if the housing options were as great as U of L says they are, U of L wouldn’t have to force you to live there. That they do should call both their motives and capacity into question, and rightly invites the extreme criticism of anyone unfortunate enough to have to move into — or out of — Mold Hall.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Tricia Stern/The Louisville Cardinal

FCC Chairman Mark Fowler (left), by eliminating the Fairness Doctrine, paved the way for Rush Limbaugh (right) and Fox News.

Past and present: Why the Fairness Doctrine should be put in place once more

“England has the same kind of rules and in Europe, but in our country, we lost those rules and, as a result, we know a lot about Britney Spears’ gradual emotional decline and we know a lot about Charlie Sheen, but we don’t know much about global warming or the fact that the Appalachian Mountains essentially no longer exist.” – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

FCC Chairman Mark Fowler (left), by eliminating the Fairness Doctrine, paved the way for Rush Limbaugh (right) and Fox News.

By Aaron Williams–

The Fairness Doctrine, when it was first established in 1927 by the Radio Act of the same year, was an effort by Congress to hold the FCC and its predecessors accountable for the information they disseminated over public airwaves. The Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to devote a fraction of their broadcast material to matters of public importance. During this informative segment, broadcasters were to be sure to include all opposing viewpoints that encompassed the full spectrum of the particular issue being discussed. The Fairness Doctrine was a well-intentioned effort to make sure that the American people stayed informed on issues of public importance that affected their lives during their interactions with radio and television media. As our founding fathers and the Congress of 1927 knew, a democracy like our own can only work if we maintain an educated and informed populace.

Now press fast forward. The year is 1987. Right-wing champion and then current president Ronald Reagan vetoes the Fairness in Broadcasting Act, Congress’ attempt to codify the Fairness Doctrine following the FCC’s 4-0 decision to strike it down, after a decade long battle over the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine. It bears mentioning that FCC Chairman Mark Fowler spearheaded the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1985. Fowler had conveniently served as an advisor on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign staff. Fowler, a proponent of deregulation of television and radio stations, claimed that the Fairness Doctrine was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment and also hurt public interest.

Reagan’s veto of the Fairness in Broadcasting Act was an isolated episode in a maelstrom of deregulation that is attributed to his presidency, but it has had a lasting impact on our society. Reagan opened the flood gates of hyper-commercialism and the once sturdy barrier between entertainment and news media has become increasingly and alarmingly eroded. We live in an age where the message can be drowned out by the medium. Advertising seamlessly merges with editorial and news content. Media conglomerates are free to push one side of an issue with no regard to what is being said across the aisle. In fact, the name of the game now is to mesmerize the masses into accepting only a particular news organization or corporation’s word as truth and filling the airwaves with ad-hominem attacks on those who do not share the same opinion.

It should come as no surprise that with the collapse of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, a wall Ronald Reagan actually did tear down, came the rise of right-wing talk radio and conservative demagogue Rush Limbaugh. Finally, the chance that Fowler and Reagan had been looking for! Now radio and television stations were free to broadcast whatever facts and information they’d like without offering a single dissenting opinion or viewpoint. Just slap on the term, “editorial content” and media outlets had the green light to put whatever college dropout music DJ they could find on the airwaves and allow them to share their enlightened ideas with the nation. And for some Americans, this is the only news they will get all day.

In my hometown, a single radio broadcasting company that owns numerous local stations has a “news” station that runs Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham’s talk shows back to back for ten hours as their news content. Limbaugh’s often sexist, racist and hate-filled speech is never countered by a dissenting opinion, save for the one caller Rush allows per broadcast to contradict him and then only so “El Rushbo” can personally insult the caller and prevent them from making their point.

This is the state of our media. Among news media consumers, those who only watch Fox News continue to be the most misinformed on the important issues in America today. A revision of the original Fairleigh Dickinson University study that originally discovered this finding was reaffirmed just this past May. Ask yourself if before 1987 a news organization would be able to baselessly call the President of the United States an illegal Kenyan immigrant. Or a radical, socialist Muslim. The answer is no. Outside of the Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News alternate universe, no reputable news organization is reporting such claims. Perhaps this is why that Danville, Kentucky woman standing outside of the vice presidential debate could not give Chris Matthews her definition of what a communist was while she stubbornly disgraced our state with her ignorance.

If Congress cannot hold the television and radio stations accountable for the information they distribute to millions of Americans daily, then we as individuals must become smarter media consumers. We must challenge our opinions daily and be ready to integrate new information into our worldview. We must seek out opinions on both sides of the aisle and fully understand the issues. Our democracy desperately needs an informed electorate in this coming election. Not a bunch of mesmerized couch potatoes flipping between “The Five” and “Honey Boo Boo.”

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com

pink1

Pink panties trumps people power: Why your Pink Brand panties are putting mine in a knot

By James El-Mallakh–

Near the end of September two events were held outside U of L’s Red Barn within two days of each other. The first was the annual Take Back the Night or TBTN. Its purpose is to raise awareness for acts of sexual violence acts that occur on campus and teach students how to stop them. The other was the Pink Tailgate Tour, a promotional event held by Pink, an offshoot brand of Victoria’s Secret.

I walked onto the Pink event by accident and was disappointed; there were twice as many people at the Pink event than there were at Take back the Night, two days earlier. My insecurity had been reinforced again: the insecurity that perhaps people my age really don’t care about issues affecting them.

As our culture continues to set the bar lower for young people, we seem to be ever-capable of achieving that new low. Who would have thought that more women would turn out for an event that caters to how well they dress rather than one that addresses their safety.

Pink certainly looked fun. There was a game called the panty scramble, which was a word scramble on a touch-screen. You won some Pink brand underwear if you unscrambled the words in time. The word scrambles were of the phrases that often appear on the back of Pink brand underwear like, “Love Pink.” There was also music and other games and a bunch of giant inflatables. The whole thing was very colorful, and the Pink spokeswomen at the event were charismatic and high-energy.

But don’t assume TBTN wasn’t fun. It wasn’t an uncomfortable environment at all even though the issues being addressed are uncomfortable by nature. TBTN puts these issues in the context of empowerment and openness, which is just what’s needed. There was a table for temporary tattoos and a table where you can make your own empowerment-slogan poster.

Guest speakers talked about their experiences and survivors could go up to the podium and talk about how they’ve overcome their experience with violence. When the sun set everyone got together and marched around campus, chanting powerful slogans. “We have the power, we have the right, the streets are ours, TAKE BACK THE NIGHT!”

So why were there so many more women ready to advocate for Victoria’s Secret before they were ready to advocate against silence on issues, like rape and abuse?

The problem is not with the women; it’s with the culture, the culture of misplaced values. It’s a culture that puts value into shallow, worthless objects when it should be putting value into substantial and substantive actions.

There is nothing inherently exciting or stimulating about shopping. There are cultures in the world that would be baffled by the concept that we seek to buy things we want, rather than things we need.

This concept of shopping for satisfaction is uniquely western and has been built up by companies, like Victoria’s Secret, for decades. They spend tremendous amounts of money to persuade young people- particularly women- that satisfaction can be easily gained through the excitement of buying a trendy product. That is exactly what the Pink Tailgate Tour is, a way to associate excitement and satisfaction with a brand name.

But satisfaction is not so easily gained, and it cannot be won through means of immediate gratification.

Real satisfaction takes time and energy. Real satisfaction comes in the form of hard work and devoting oneself to solving tough issues to try and make a difference in the community you live in. It comes in the form of working for something you believe in even if it’s controversial or unpopular.

TBTN, for example, takes devotion and energy. Not everyone agrees that these issues should be discussed in the open and not everyone agrees that you’re making a difference. Because of this, it takes a more conscious effort to get into it.

Some may argue that there is a distinct difference between the Pink event, which is more suited to a carefree, fun environment, and TBTN, which is about addressing concerning issues. I think the differences between them are less sharp. TBTN was all about fun. Once again, it puts these issues in the context of empowerment, and it’s definitely thrilling. Moreover, the reason people turn out to these events is less about fun and more about finding satisfaction. People think they can’t be satisfied by committing their time to controversial issues; this is wholly untrue.

So let’s be honest: the Victoria’s Secret Pink Tailgate Tour offers us nothing. It is literally a mobile, interactive, in-your-face commercial that comes to where we live and tries to convince us that we can be rewarded right now by owning their product. To me, the Pink Tailgate Tour is offensive and pitiful.

On the other hand, Take Back the Night is an event in which people who share a common goal can come together to actually change the community they live in.

And what about the idea of wasted potential? If every woman who waited in line at Pink turned out for Take Back the Night, they could help turn TBTN into a tremendous event. It could be so big that it could be broadcast on local news stations that reach thousands of people. Is it possible that one of the women seeing that potential news program could be influenced to speak out that she was raped or in an abusive relationship? You bet it’s possible.

TBTN is worth something and that’s why I volunteered for it. Because of the selfless work that we TBTN volunteers did, I know the community is better for it, even if it’s by a microscopic amount.

The solution to misplaced values occurs when people have the courage to question popular belief and reassess their value systems. Of course women don’t really care more about underwear than issues affecting their health, but it’s so much easier to buy into the culture of materialism. It’s easy to do this because we’re bombarded by it. It’s also uncontroversial, popular, easily accessible and offers the illusion of instant gratification.

So the solution is easy, even if pursuing it isn’t. Find what you truly think is worthwhile, and go for it even if it isn’t conventional, popular or easy.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos: James El-Mallakh/The Louisville Cardinal

Vice President Biden's teeth saw a lot of air time in the VP debate.

Biden his time: How Joe Biden may have saved the election for Barack Obama

Cartoon illustration by Michael Layman/The Louisville Cardinal

By Lee Cole–

How President Obama got through the full 90 minutes of his first debate without mentioning Bain Capital, the 47 percent comments and outsourcing remains a mystery.  The first debate was full of missed opportunities, all because Democrats would like to remain, or at least appear to remain, above the fray.  If there is ever a time to jump into the fray, however, it’s in the debates, and Obama’s apparent lack of energy and fighting spirit is symptomatic of a larger problem in the Democratic Party.

It can’t really be said that Romney won the debate on substance, as he spent most of his time spewing half-truths, vague generalizations and fictional characterizations of Obama as a quasi-socialist.  He did at least appear confident and aggressive; he showed up ready to have an argument whereas Obama showed up to teach.  Obama gave specific figures while Romney made wild promises without the corresponding math.  President Obama has to understand that he can’t talk to the electorate like he talked to his college classes.  Not everyone brings the same kind of measured attention to detail to the discussion, and the Republicans have always understood this.  What good will numbers and studies do when Romney categorically denies everything that independent analysts have said about his platform?  Instead of doing the same thing and calling Romney out when he lied (and he did, quite a bit), Obama stuck to his rehearsed message and ended up sounding too careful and tedious.

In the past few years, a pattern has been emerging in American politics.  Republicans are increasingly willing to do just about anything and say just about anything to get elected.  Democrats have employed the novel strategy of telling Americans the truth.  They’ve given us facts and figures and put us all to sleep in the process.  Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, while they may be great lawmakers, come across as stammering, neurotic Woody Allen-types.  And just like a Woody Allen movie, no one gets the references, the characters are measured intellectuals and the meaning is influenced by centuries of literature, history and philosophy.  The American public doesn’t want Woody Allen; they want Larry the Cable Guy.  They don’t want high-minded analyses and interpretations; they want the political equivalent of fart jokes.

Enter Joe Biden.

Just when Democrats thought all hope was lost, Joe came in to the second debate like a silver-haired Scranton bulldog, leaving behind him a wake of one-liners, furious rebuttals and the kind of savage intensity you’d expect to find in a P90X commercial.  Like a conquistador of old, he carved a swath through the jungle of malarkey with his machete of truth, his ivory dentures twinkling.  Ryan looked too small for his suit and came off as boyish and underprepared, which was amazing considering Time’s coverage of his workout routine.  Apparently while Paul Ryan was getting his swell on, straining for one more bicep curl whilst listening to the “Atlas Shrugged” audiobook and reciting his mantra, “be John Galt, BE JOHN GALT,” good ole’ Joe was preparing to eviscerate him in Danville.

Virtually every lie that Romney uttered during the first debate was echoed by Ryan, and then promptly ripped to shreds by Biden.  It wasn’t just that Joe did well; it was also that Ryan did an especially poor job.  He had several “open net” moments early in the debate, when he brought up stimulus money (he criticized the stimulus, yet secretly asked for funds) and with his ready-made, touching anecdote of Romney visiting a car accident victim (Biden’s daughter and wife were killed in a non-hypothetical car accident).  Ryan’s closing statement was so glib and obviously rehearsed that he just seemed obnoxious.  Republicans criticized Biden for being condescending, but how could he help appearing that way when Ryan’s voice sounded like he was in the early stages of puberty and his cheesy, “golly gee” demeanor would’ve been rounded out perfectly if he had been wearing a multi-colored propeller cap?

Vice President Biden’s teeth saw a lot of air time in the VP debate.

I never thought I’d have to say it, at least in this universe, but I hope President Obama takes some rhetorical lessons from Joe Biden before the next debate.  Had someone told me a year ago that Biden would be articulating the campaign’s points and arguing more effectively than Obama, I would’ve laughed heartily.  I’m sure Paul Ryan thought the same thing, as he was completing his tricep reps and making intense, stimulating eye contact with his Ayn Rand poster.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo:Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Tech journalists get a first look at the new iPad.

Elitism in tech journalism

Tech journalists get a first look at the new iPad.

By Simon Isham–

I’ll admit it: I’m addicted to my iPad. I use it to take notes. I use it to check my email at least fifty times per day. I use it to remind me to do my homework, and I use it to do homework. Without it, I would be late to every class, as my iPad keeps track of my schedule. So when Apple released their “new iPad,” it didn’t bother me. Both Apple and I realized that their latest device was not “new” enough to banish my iPad 2 into obsolescence. But there is a group who seems inclined to think that this year-old machine is now an outlandish relic.

That group is tech journalists, a tribe which regularly produces headlines such as “Why your smartphone is already a dinosaur” (CNN). On the other end of the timeline, they are responsible for much of the disappointing hype and futile speculation about rumored releases—often years before said releases actually occur.

One could say that this is due to tech journalists’ insulation from the market. Their salaries trend much higher than do those of other writers, with the notable exceptions being those of columnists and foreign correspondents. Tech writers often get extraordinary benefits packages compared to writers who cover other beats. They also tend to marry partners with higher salaries than they bring in, making their average household incomes $150K+. Not to mention that they are given the luxury of not having to foot the bill for the products they review. With all of these factors in mind, it is safe to say that writers of this breed are at risk of becoming out-of-touch with the spending habits of the masses.

Tech journalists might take a cue from haute couture, an industry which has drawn very similar criticisms of “fast-fashion”. As fashion industry giant Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel once famously stated, “Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” Similarly, there are some technologies, such as the original iPod, which cannot be easily replaced; 11 years of Apple’s innovation have been unable to dethrone the classic mp3 player from the company’s incessantly pruned product line. That’s because it is both elegant and durable, and therefore cost-effective. Unfortunately, there are very few devices that can make this claim, but they are out there. To find them, make a case for them and bring them to the attention of consumers is the charge of tech journalism.

Tech journalism, however, is not just about the technology itself. The people who make it happen are also important—or so we are to believe. The gadget facet of the journalism industry often uses publications as a place to name-drop. To prove this point, let’s try an experiment. Read these two lists of names below, and choose which list contains famous figures.

List A: Tim Cook, Steve Ballmer, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page.

List B: Virginia Rometty, Paul Otellini, John Chambers, Ji Seong Choi.

Unless you’ve been living in a media-restricted state, you chose list A. Both lists are comprised of the present CEOs of technology corporations, all of which are in the Forbes’ Top 100. The difference is that the CEOs of Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google are much better-known than those of IBM, Intel, Cisco and Samsung. Before the parvenus of Silicon Valley rose to fame, it used to be that the identities of executives were solely the domain of business journalists. But tech culture eventually matured out of its shy, nerdy phase and began to churn out celebrities as well. The members of list A are only half the story, though; real journalism seeks to cover all companies, to list all names, not just those that search engines are optimized to screen for.

It would be out-of-order for me to insinuate that all tech journalists are gossipy elitists or corporate slaves who live in a bubble free from financial concern. In fact, most are down-to-earth and without a trace of snobbery. Nevertheless, the problem of wanton nose-thumbing does exist.

For example, I am writing this opinion on a shiny new 27-inch quad-core iMac, and yet I find that I get greater speed on my duo-core Dell Precision T3400, a five-year-old machine which has suffered through two debilitating viruses. I have seen the Mac recommended on CNET as the best-available performance desktop by senior editor Rich Brown. The Dell machine, by contrast, has been discontinued. While the Mac’s tech spec sheet may portray the product as heaven-sent, my current computer is not yet démodé.

I wish I could expect more from those tech journalists who manage to command salaries for propounding the falsehood that ‘nothing less than cutting-edge suitable for use, but the fact is that people lap up that genre of drivel.  Fact of life: writers will write what readers will read, useful or not, and publishers publish the stuff that sells.

opinion@lousivillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy of csmonitor.com

Side by side comparison of the iPhone 4s (left) and the iPhone 5 (right.)

iOverkill: The difference between the iPhone 4s and the iPhone 5 isn’t worth the extra money

Side by side comparison of the iPhone 4s (left) and the iPhone 5 (right.)

By Sawyer Schmitt–

Remember when the iPhone first came out? People would joke that it could make waffles, but couldn’t make calls. Then the iPhone 2 rose from the depths, like a metaphorical Persephone, and people flipped for it; the new model was better in every way. Apple hit us again with the iPhone 3… the 4…the 4S…and now here we are, with a consumer culture in bed with Apple (with some pretty serious pillow talk) ready to buy up whatever new ideas or drivel that comes to mind.  That drivel is the iPhone 5.

Don’t get me wrong, Apple makes fantastic products. The iPod revolutionized the music industry as we know it, leading most sales to be digital and beginning what I call the “headphone” age, and what will later be called the “I Can’t Hear You” age, and by people that participated in this, the “EH, WHAT SONNY?” age. Apple revolutionized the tablet, an essentially fancy toy upon conception, into a business must-have.

When these products launched, their success built Apple’s reputation, as it should have, to a ludicrously high point. Company loyalty is another subject, but when people have constant good ideas that turn into revolutionary products, you tend to start to trust them, thus creating a successful business. My problem with the iPhone 5 lies with Apple blatantly taking advantage of this trust to completely overcharge their loyal consumers.

First off, the facts (taken from CNET’s technological assessment of both phones): The iPhone 4S is .82 inches shorter than the new model, .7 inches thicker, and weighs .14 ounces more than the five. Both have one 8 megapixel camera and similar shooting modes.  As far as battery life goes, both are very similar, with the biggest difference being a 25 hour extra standby time, but does anyone leave their phone uncharged and on standby for that long a period? And on the subject of power, toss out your old charging cords, the  five requires a new one.

The 4S contains a processor strong enough to support console, like graphics, according to appleinsider.com, and double the RAM the iPhone 3 had. The 5 has an even faster processor, and to this I scream OVERKILL. This new processor will eventually be put to use once developers start to realize its potential, but the 4S will not become antiquated so quickly.

So what exactly are you paying for? A slimmer battery, a more fragile phone (it has a metal back, but isn’t it the front that concerns us?) and possibly some fairy dust. The pricing for the half inch bigger screen, which allows you to see the feet of your LOLcats, and an overpowered processor is nonsensical. A 16GB 4S costs $99, whereas a 16GB 5 costs$ 200, $300 for 32GB and $400 for a 64GB! The screen size is barely noticeable to the general public. When Jimmy Kimmel took to the streets with a 4S telling people it was a 5, participants said that they could see the size change, say it was faster and lighter than their own 4S…the one that rested in their other hand.

The ultimate question here is whether or not to update, and the answer is a ridiculously strong no. You do not need to shell out 200 dollars minimum to obtain these overpriced and unnecessary updates. Don’t support Apple’s exploitation of hype; make them price a product according to its practicality and not its shine. Wait for the iPhone 6 (complete with new dimensional transport!), when the processor will be running apps at full potential. You probably will want to start saving now.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy GQ.com

voter fraud

ID’d at the polls: Why voter ID laws are important in securing a fair election without fraud

Many have made the extreme claim that voter ID laws are akin to poll taxes.

The recent push by state governments to pass laws that would require voters to show identification in order to receive a ballot has sparked a great debate across the nation.

It’s a push credited to the republican party and greatly opposed by democrats who claim that it’s discriminatory against poor people, the elderly and minorities. The logic behind this being that poor people don’t get passports or driver’s licenses because they’re too poor to buy cars or plane tickets, that minorities are just generally poor and that the elderly don’t drive because they’re, well, elderly.

For these exact reasons, most of the states that have proposed voter identification laws have included in their proposals services that would allow anyone to get a free government-issued photo ID. Some of these states, such as South Carolina, have even supplied voters with carpools to take them to state DMVs.

Here’s a high school history lesson: The U.S. passed the Fifteenth Amendment after the Civil War so that freed slaves could not be barred from voting just because they were black. So, some clever and cruel people came up with the poll tax. The poll tax forced people to pay to vote, basically. These former slaves had just worked their whole lives for no wages and so they couldn’t afford to vote. The U.S. began passing laws that banned poll taxes or anything that meant that people had to pay money in order to vote. Today that means a state can’t pass a law that would force you to spend a dime in order to cast your ballot.

This is why the states that are passing voter ID laws are making concessions so that no one has to pay a penny or meet certain qualifications in order to get a picture ID.

The entire Democratic claim of discrimination is a load of crap, formed by lobbyists who are panicked at the idea that the people who depend on the shelling out of welfare checks and Medicare benefits won’t be able to figure out which line they should get in at the DMV.

These same people required attendees to the Democratic National Convention to check in with their IDs.

To be fair, maybe this whole thing is a Republican ploy to squash the votes of the poor people who love President Obama and the fact that they no longer have to pay their hospital bills. I wouldn’t be surprised, given that we’re currently suffering through a political climate that serves the interest of parties, not people. It is at the hands of the Republican Party that the rich get tax cuts and this, understandably, can create some animosity from the have-nots.

All of this aside, my vote means absolutely nothing if someone else can come in behind me and place an illegitimate one. I would rather go through the hassle of obtaining a photo ID than to leave a door open that would allow a group like ACORN to place a vote for me. I would rather go through the process of handing over my ID to person after person in order to verify my identity, than to vote in a nation where the validity of my vote, and every other vote, can be compromised because of even one person who tipped the polls in another direction.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy northcountrypublicradio.com