March 10, 2009

Weekly Summary: Week Nine

Thanks, Coburn!
Senator and physician is standing up against Obama's policies, saying he is willing to go to jail over it. We applaud his courage!

Post-election thoughts from Andrew Lacy
We got beat pretty bad during the ASUN elections, but we aren't giving up, that is for sure.

The Phantom Earmark
It seems Obama got embarrassed about an earmark he had put in the bill, and found someone else to sponsor it so he wouldn't look bad.

Less Money, More Movies?
In a strange turn of events, in the midst of a government made recession, movie theatre attendance is at a record high.

Lessons in Communism
One man doesn't like the continued strides toward socialism.

News Clips (outside link)
We just started something new: Now, news clips are hosted on a different blog, so you can read strange bits of news as we update throughout the week! Check it out!

Thanks for reading!

Thanks, Coburn!

Tobias Davis
UNL Mechanical Engineering Major
Editor for the Student Newspaper

Mr. Barack Obama has been speaking of revoking the clause, which essentially allowed doctors to not perform abortions if they thought it was morally wrong. If Obama revokes this clause, licensed doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and nurses across the states would be forced to abort babies or risk being jailed.

Tom Coburn, the Republican Senator from Oklahom and an OB/GYN physician, told CNS news reporters that he would rather go to jail than take part in such a despicable act.
Coburn said that many doctors, himself included, are strongly opposed to being required to perform surgical abortions, and many doctors would be willing to go to jail before they did such a thing.

While Obama and his cronies have not decided on the issue, I would like to personally thank Mr. Coburn for his preemptive action, and encourage all doctors and members of Congress, Senators, etc., to take a stand with Coburn and the rest of doctors.

Write to your congress today!

Post-election thoughts from Andrew Lacy

Andrew Lacy
UNL Broadcasting Major

Fifteen percent. That's how much of the vote Nick Goodwin and I drew in this year's ASUN election. Where I'm from, we call that a good old-fashioned beatdown. Let me start by thanking the 471 people who voted for me and congratulating Megan Collins, Brian Coburn and Amanda Crook on their win.

While I wasn't really expecting to win, I certainly wasn't expecting the margin to be so large, and I thought I could at least beat Mellgren and Ledford. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. There is still some good to come out of this from my perspective. First off, more than 3,000 students voted. That's significantly more than I expected and marks the highest turnout in at least a decade. Second, the health and wellness referendum failed by four votes. L.J. McElravy can get mad about my opposition all he wants, but that doesn't change the fact that those three projects should not be lumped together as a package deal.

The most common question I've had so far is how do you feel? Frankly, I'm just glad to be done with all this nonsense. If I had won, I would have had much less time to spend at the Lutheran Chapel. Besides, I have much more fun standing on the outside throwing rocks at the establishment.

So where do we go from here? Personally, I'm not going anywhere. I'll be right here, keeping a close eye on the new senate and calling them out if and when they screw up. You have not heard the last from me. In fact, the Student Newspaper is in the process of expanding, and we hope to have a sister publication at Hastings College before the end of the school year. As for the rest of my party, I will not be running again next year, but some of them might and I'll be working behind the scenes to help them any way I can.

I encourage all of you to continue to pay attention to what ASUN does in the future rather than only when there's an election. They are here to serve us students and on occasion they need to be reminded of that. Don't let them just coast by without any scrutiny.

We sure won't.

The Phantom Earmark

Benjamin Kantack
UNL Political Science and Spanish Major

When weeks of debate finally drew to a close as the economic stimulus bill cleared Congress, President Obama proudly announced that it passed without a single earmark.

Congress’s next item of business claimed no such distinction.

The “omnibus spending bill,” which distributes monies allocated by Congress since the last budget, is suffocating under a grand total of about 9,000 earmarks. The omnibus also strikes a personal note with the President: his name is listed as a sponsor for one particular earmark worth $7.7 million, according to an article by Congressional Quarterly. Said earmark, which would increase funding to two tribal vocational facilities, was cosponsored by then-Senator Obama and 36 other Congress members last April.

But $7.7 million is a drop in the bucket – comprising less than .1% of the total omnibus earmark price of $9 billion – and members of the President’s staff are attached to greater amounts of pork spending: among other examples, Vice President Joe Biden is listed in $94.9 million worth of earmarks, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have run up pork tabs of $227.4 million and $108 million respectively.

But what shocks more than these impressive figures is that the President and the Senate Appropriations Committee are trying to cover up the earmark. A February 26 article in the Washington Post reported that the President’s name will be erased from the sponsor list before it comes to a vote. Why? According to a White House spokesman, then-Senator Obama’s request for spending on the two vocational schools – one in New Mexico, the other in North Dakota – was never intended to become an earmark. The letter petitioning for the funds was signed by 37 senators in April of 2008, and was attached to the omnibus just recently.

So what makes the President’s request an earmark now, but not back when he signed it? The Appropriations Committee says that the defining feature which makes the item an earmark is the fact that it mentions the two schools by name. Yet when the facility was funded in the past, the program which administered the money distributed it to the same two schools. The original request and the “earmark” are identical in every way except for what they are called.

Even more confounding, the President still supports the omnibus. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the Wall Street Journal that the President would sign the bill once Congress approved it, despite the earmark. Clearly, President Obama still supports the vocational school spending enough to enact the law, but not enough to have his name attached to it as a cosponsor. Does it bode well for America when a president is too ashamed to cosponsor a spending item that he himself signs into law?

TIME Magazine stated on February 26 that President Obama “runs a real credibility risk when he makes exceptions to his own rules.” From an administration that promised ethical conduct and transparency, the cover-up of $7.7 million is a slap in the face to the American people. This writer does not ask that the President remove the earmark entirely – simply that he own up to his actions and not hide them out of shame.

Less Money, More Movies?

Benjamin Kayser
Omaha area writer

With the failing economy, people are starting to cut down on spending. Some are starting to do more cooking at home, while others are shopping at second hand stores. But whether you're rich or poor, there's one thing that a lot of people are still doing: going to the movies. That's right. We already have a record high for the first two months of the year. Compared to 2007, these two months have increased 35.3%. That's a 400 million dollar difference. So let me pose a question. Even though huge sequels like X-men, Terminator and Transformers will be coming out this year, will the failing economy decrease box office sales? I would say no. Why? Well, the first reason is that when people fall under tough financial and emotional situations, they like to forget their problems and be entertained. This happened in the great depression.

When "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" came out during the great depression in 1937 it grossed 180 million dollars. Two years later, "Gone with the Wind" broke all records with nearly 200 million dollars. The bottom line is that the lack of money in the home does not alter the entertainment industry. Another interesting factor is that three of the top 5 grossing movies of 2009 so far are comedies. It doesn't surprise me that people would rather laugh than cry when in a difficult situation. Eight dollars for two hours of pleasure is pretty cheap. The sad thing in all of this is that when people rely on entertainment to get through hard times, they rob themselves of joy in the Lord. Romans 14:17 says, "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." I'm not at all saying that watching movies robs you of joy. I am saying that when you rely on movies to get you through tough times, you will be worse off than you were before.

Lessons in Communism

A lesson to be learned from Nikita Khrushchev, the former communist leader of the Soviet Union

Michael Folkerts
UNL Agricultural Economics

The word socialist is being used by a lot of people to describe some of our President’s policies and ideological thinking. Comparing Obama’s policies to socialism may be frightening to some as it should be, while others may just brush it off as crazy talk. Some may not care because Bush Is Out, and you’re ready to try something new, a change to our political system. This writer is far from an expert on socialism, but wants to point out that there are tens and maybe even hundreds of different forms of socialism/nationalism and, in his opinion, not all forms are harmful to the prosperity of a democratic and capitalist state when implemented in the same system. For example, nationalizing public services and resources such as taxing the people for highways/roads, and public education can be argued as beneficial.

However, these recent governmental bailouts of our banks and car industries, Obama’s plan of nationalizing/socializing health care, and the “stimulus” packages in which the governments hand is becoming immensely larger has this writer worried a great deal. For if history is an accurate predictor, it predicts that small bits of socialism lead to large bits, and that large bits of socialism leads to communism.

If you don’t believe this prediction, maybe the words of an actual communist leader will change your mind. In 1959, President Eisenhower invited Nikita Khrushchev (Soviet Union’s communist leader) to the United States to learn about agriculture practices. The Secretary of Agricultural Ezra Thaft Benson was assigned to be his escort. During a conversation, Khrushchev told Benson that his grandchildren would live under communism. Benson boldly responded that he would do everything within his power to prevent that from becoming so. Khrushchev than replied “You Americans are so gullible, no, you won’t accept communism outright, but we will keep feeding you small doses of socialism. Until you finally wake up, and find you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you. We‘ll slowly weaken your economy, until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands.”

I understand that many people are still on a sugar high from drinking the Obama Kool-Aid. But when will America wake up? I’m not implying Obama is going to be the downfall or redeemer of America, but how many bailouts are necessary? Are all Americans’ entitled to free health care? Are all Americans entitled to own their own home? How much power should the government have? And how much socialism is too much before it is communistic? All I ask is that as Americans, we will remember our country’s history, and the world’s history. As George Santayana said, “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”