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The Syrian Mess

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

The United States’ response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria comes down to a question of deterrence and not necessarily the chemical weapon use.  If the United States does not respond then deterrence will take a hit and this could result in serious set-backs to global security.

The United States is in this unpleasant situation because the administration claimed the use of chemical weapons is a red line that would be met with punishment.  That red line has now been crossed between nine and fourteen times according to reports and if there is no response our ability to provide credible deterrence will suffer more than it has already.

The United States did not have a credible deterrent against the Assad regime to begin with for a couple reasons.  First, the United States does not have a history of retaliating against the use of chemical weapons.  Chemical weapons were used in the Iran-Iraq war with no repercussions.  They were used by Saddam Hussein against Kurds in northern Iraq; once again with no retaliation.  As previously noted, it has been used several times during the Syrian civil war with little response.

Second, Assad is no fool.  He knows that after spending over a decade fighting two wars and helping rebels in Libya that the United States is war weary.  The people of this nation are tired of being the world’s police.  They are tired of having their sons and daughters coming back from far off lands missing limbs or in coffins.  This does not make people gung-ho about getting involved in a civil war.

However, President Obama drew a red line at the use of chemical weapons and now we must act.  Otherwise other red lines will mean little to our enemies.  In the future our presidents should refrain from drawing red lines except for extreme circumstances such as an attack against the United States or its allies and the use of nuclear weapon; not the use of chemical weapons in a civil war.  Neither Assad nor the rebels are allies of the United States, and the claim that chemical weapons kill indiscriminately does not hold water either.  To push for military intervention over the use of chemical weapons is to suggest that a cruise missile or a drone do not kill innocent civilians.

It would be a better use of resources to provide aid to the nations that have been over-run by refugees fleeing the civil war.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Zimmerman, Stand Your Ground, and the Racial Circus

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

A Neighborhood Watch leader follows a suspicious character in the neighborhood and after being assaulted, and having his skull repeatedly bashed into the concrete, shoots and kills the assailant.  Most people reading that would probably respond differently than the way some have responded to the media circus and lynching of George Zimmerman.  What about this situation is worthy of the hype and uproar that has been thrust upon us for the last year?  Nothing!  The same situation happened elsewhere only it was a black Neighborhood Watch person and white assailants and surprise surprise, no uproar.

The Stand Your Ground law has been paraded about as another villain in this event, yet it had nothing to do with the event.  Unfortunately, not even our supposed constitutional scholar president is able to understand a very simple law.  Stand Your Ground says that if you are legally allowed to be somewhere and someone threatens your life you are able to defend yourself without first retreating.  In other words if I pull a knife or gun on you while you are walking down the street you can use deadly force (read gun) to defend yourself.  You do not have to turn and run.  You can stand your ground, hence the name of the law.  Now in the Zimmerman case, his head was being bashed into concrete.  Retreating is not an option at that point.  This was purely self defense.  He was not able to retreat once his life became endangered.  Mr. Martin was not unarmed, he was using the concrete as a weapon.

The ugly part of this was the race baiting that went on by those in the media and the White House.  “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon.”  I seriously doubt that a child of a president would be thugged out, smoking weed, and getting suspended from school for criminal activity.  Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson just showed their ability to profit off a tragedy as usual.  Why is it that this was considered a white on black crime when Zimmerman is half Peruvian?  Oh but Barack Obama is black even though he is half white.  In the eyes of some race is the only issue and no matter what it must have played a role.  It was the fact that Martin was black, not that he looked like a thug in an area that had seen a spike in break ins, that got him followed.

Now onto the head shake aspect.  It is sad to see how many people suck at the teat of celebrities that they blindly accept and follow what ever their favorite celebrities spout.  Zimmerman is an evil bastard and Trayvon Martin was a poor innocent thug.  No one stopped to question why this case was being pushed over numerous other cases where a black youth was killed.  They just continued on with the talking points of the hypocrites who think it is wrong for you and I to defend ourselves while they have armed security guards to protect them.

Prop 8 Problems

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

I would caution the cheering crowds that view the Supreme Court’s refusal to rule on Prop 8 to step back for a moment.  This ruling raises some red flags, and I hope that those opposing Prop 8 can understand that.

Prop 8 made same-sex marriage illegal in California.  It was voted on by the people and passed.  The Governor then refused to enforce it.  Whether or not you agree with same-sex marriage is irrelevant.  The process of direct democracy that so many on the left supposedly believe in was dealt a blow today.

If the governor does not agree with the people’s decision then he does not need to listen.  In the future, when the same people that are championing this decision are in the majority and the governor is on the opposing side, the governor will not have to listen to their votes.  That should raise major concerns for them because in getting a victory, they are also getting a defeat.

The court did not rule that same-sex marriage should be legal, only that the plaintiff did not have the standing to bring the case before the court.  If it had been brought up as a voters’ right issue it is possible it may have resulted in a different decision.

 

Neil Killion

DOMA Unconstitutional

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

While many of you may have been caught up in the joyous revelations that the Ducks will not be banned from the bowls this year, the court handed down a major decisions regarding gay marriage today.

The Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) was ruled unconstitutional in a 5-4 opinion.  The Supreme Court ruled that if you live in a state that recognizes gay marriage the federal government cannot deny federal benefits.  It does not rule whether or not gay marriage itself is legal, just that the federal government cannot discriminate against gay couples in those states that do recognize gay marriage.

Although this is a victory for same-sex couples, it is also a victory for states’ rights.  The state’s law held supremacy over the federal law in this case.  If the state recognizes same-sex marriage then the federal government cannot deny those couples benefits.  This may pave the way for other states’ rights issues in the future.

Neil Killion

McDermed Lacking Pertinent Information

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

It is clear that the University of Oregon Police Department do not care what the students want.

Interim Police Chief Carolyn McDermed, Captain Pete Deshpande and Kelly McIver are putting on a series of sham forums in order to coo us into thinking our voices are heard.

Even Kelly McIver admitted to the lack of student input on Tuesday during the second public forum regarding the armament of UO police officers. An audience member, citing a Register Guard article, stated:

“In 2011, students voted against arming police in a campus referendum.”

Hearing this, McIver, the Communications Director, said “There wasn’t much advertising.”

Nobody in the room was able (or willing) to confirm whether there had been a campus referendum or not.

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ASUO President is Again ASUO President

Monday, February 18th, 2013

On February 15th the UO Con Court effectively said “Never mind,” responding affirmatively to a motion to reinstate ASUO President Laura Hinman.

The Con Court decided that Hinman’s nonfulfillment of duties, which is the reason she was pulled from office in late January, had been remedied by ASUO Vice President Nick McCain. The petition for reinstatement cited Hinman’s appointing of Pat Chaney to the elections board, followed by Chaney’s recommendations of four other applicants and finally by McCain appointing those recommendations on February 7th, during Hinman’s forced absence.

The completion of an elections board resolved the initial dispute brought to the Con Court, which was a grievance filed against Hinman by Joanna Stewart. The full Con Court opinion can be read here.

And they all lived happily ever after, despite the excruciating budget hearings and God knows what else.

Have Coffee with the Chief

Monday, February 18th, 2013

There are two opportunities this week to go one on one with UOPD Chief Carolyn McDermed. You can ask questions and make comments at these small, informal events:

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm EMU Walnut Room
Thursday, Feb. 21, noon to 1pm EMU Board Room

But visit this site first: http://police.uoregon.edu/FAQ
And the next two public forums:

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 4:30-6:00pm EMU Fir Room
Wednesday, March 6, 11:30am-1:00pm Knight Library Browsing Room

Well I heard there will be coffee.

ASUO vs. Athletics- At the Cost of a Marching Band

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The ASUO Executives have proposed a funding cut to the Oregon Athletic Bands (OAB) budget for the 2013-2014 school year. The proposed cut is deep, potentially taking away $150,000 (which is nearly all of the ASUO’s contributions). This $150k amounts to nearly 1/3 of the total OAB budget- which, by the way, is an ASUO recognized Student Organization. The ASUO Executives feel that the OAB should be funded by Athletics, not student incidental fees. There hasn’t been much of an argument presented (ASUO President Nick McCain’s letter can be found here).

Basically, I think this is absolutely ridiculous. We are a student group, and meet all the qualifications to be funded by the ASUO. There has been a tremendous out pour of support (much of which can be found here). This is essentially a game of chicken between the ASUO and Athletics, and we, the Oregon Athletic Bands, are caught in the middle.

Any student at the University of Oregon should realize how much of an impact the OAB has. Convocation, an event every student is supposed to attend, is also one of the first University events a student will attend, and the marching band plays Mighty O, and leads the entering class in the singing of the pledge song.

We are an organization, by the students, of the students, and most importantly, for the students. Please come support the Oregon Athletic Bands at our budget hearing on Thursday, January 31 at 7:00 PM in Columbia 150. We appreciate all the support we can get! If you cannot attend, feel free to send a friendly note to the ASUO. Go Ducks!

ASUO President Yanked From Office

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

ASUO president Laura Hinman has been removed from office for nonfullfilment. To be candid, the reasons behind the removal are disappointing, considering the bar set by ASUO scandals in recent years.

The UO Constitutional Court ruled in favor of a grievance filed against Hinman, stating that she failed to appoint an elections board by a specified deadline. The ruling can be seen here. The grievance was filed by Joanna Stewart, manager for the notorious Katie Taylor and Alex Sylvester campaign.

Vice President Nick McCain will take over the position, though a petition to reinstate Hinman began shortly after the court decision.

The ASUO executive has not yet made a statement on the matter.

The Con Court doesn’t look anything like this…why?

Edit (2/18/13): An update on this issue can be seen here.

GUNZ

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

From left to right: Photo of Joseph Kelley in Utah J.C. Penny taken by Cindy Yorgason;President Obama presenting his proposals in a photo posted on NewsWhip.com; “Pioneer” statue on UO campus carrying his rifle.

 

The following post contains views and opinions that are my own (Nicholas Ekblad) and do not necessarily represent those of the Oregon Commentator as a whole.

 

Now, I spent about half of my childhood in The-middle-of-nowhere, Arizona and the greater half in rural eastern Oregon. I was taught by my father how to use a gun and how to use it safely. My father did not make light– ever– of the power and responsibility of a holding a firearm in hand. I firmly believe in the Second Amendment, though it might surprise a lot of people to learn that I support “gun control” in its general sense (READ: the control of guns is as necessary and already as prevalent as the control of, say, the license to drive a motor vehicle)(fully automatic weapons have been outlawed since 1936). That being said, here is my take on Obama’s proposals to congress.

 

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More Like EMU ReferenDUMB, Am I Right?

Friday, December 21st, 2012

It’s 10pm on a Friday night, which might be our last night alive, but here we are again discussing the debacle that is the EMU Referendum .

Student and USSA member Lucero Castaneda (the n having one of those squigglys above it that WordPress is reluctant to allow) has filed a grievance against ASUO president Laura Hinman, claiming a biased approach to the EMU referendum. For those of you who haven’t followed the sketchiness, this post from before the EMU referendum vote and this post from after can help catch you up.

The rule Castaneda accuses Hinman of violating is as follows:

The ASUO Elections shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the best interests of the student body. The elections shall be conducted in a fair, orderly and impartial manner, and the educational atmosphere of the University shall not be compromised, by any member of the ASUO involved in the electoral process.

Castaneda wrote; “The EMU Renovation Task Force…engaged in a heavy-handed pro-yes campaign on the EMU referendum. This is clearly indicated in the memo between the Task Force and the political consultant firm they hired, RBI strategies.” Click here for the memo.

She also says that Hinman’s membership in the EMU Renovation Task Force establishes her unfair inclination on the issue. The example provided is the ASUO’s education campaign, which Castenado says contains “slanted language and pro-renovation opinions presented as fact.” Students wishing to learn about the issue were directed to this website; judge for yourself.

Castaneda then cites Hinman’s selective approach to student involvement:

Campus outreach during the week of the referendum disproportionately targeted Greek life. No student union or other student group with space in the EMU was notified of the referendum, yet several fraternities and sororities were visited by members of the ASUO Executive and encouraged to vote in the referendum. Why would [Hinman] go out of her way to travel to the homes of students belonging to fraternities and sororities to encourage them to vote, but not attempt to contact students already present in the EMU? The reason is that [Hinman] perceived Greek students to be more likely to vote yes, and students belonging to groups within the EMU more likely to vote no.

Castaneda suggests that, because the methods to achieve a “yes” vote on the EMU renovation appear to be biased, a second vote is in order. “The most logical remedy is to invalidate the results of this referendum, and hold a second referendum on the same question, this time under the jurisdiction of a duly appointed elections board.”

Nike, Intel, Oregon & Friends

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Students and faculty at the UO know the power Nike has in Oregon. Even Google knows it. The sports empire has its well-fitted and flashy foot in the door of Oregon’s economy but, like the athletes it equips, faces heavy competition. Intel, a company that employs more Oregonians than any other, is disputing a bill that would give more tax breaks to Nike. Not-so-coincidentally, the bill being supported by Nike cuts out Intel.

The bill allows companies to lock in their tax structure so changes in their business won’t result in tax hikes. However, it doesn’t apply to companies that saved over five million dollars through the Strategic Investment Program. Last year Intel saved 22 million dollars thanks to the SIP.

The process behind how the guideline was added remains a mystery, but it’s clear that this is a skirmish for Oregon’s monetary favor between two titans. Both Nike and Intel promise expansion within Oregon in the near future, but this bill could directly affect their incentives and progress. In turn, Oregon jobs and industry. Governor John Kitzhaber has stated that he doesn’t support the SIP based exclusion, but what form the final legislation will take is still unclear.

What is clear is that’s one fine piece of mustache.

“Perceived” Rights and Smoker Ethics

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

After getting off of work in the dungeon that is the Knight Library basement, I stepped into the afternoon rain. I pulled a pre-rolled cigarette from my pocket (Bugler brand – mangy, disgusting Bugler) and lit it. Standing off to the side so as not to spread smoke, an elderly woman shot me the evil eye before stopping in front of me: “There’s no smoking on campus. Go smoke across the street.”

I stared at her until she left.

This kind of situation has become all-too-common since the Healthy Campus Initiative, in partnership with the UO Health Center and the administration (with a special guest funding appearance from the ASUO), implemented a campus-wide smoking ban at the beginning of the Fall. The idea of a smoking ban isn’t anything new; the Smoke Free Campus Task Force (SFTF) issued a report in 2008 that sought to

tak[e] up the matter of campus smoking policy with the understanding that the issue is fueled by strong personal convictions for perceived personal rights, both the right to be free from the effects of secondhand smoke and the right to choose to smoke cigarettes (STFT Report, emphasis mine)

The rest of the report either references student support from polls drawn from other universities, or flat-out neglects student responses in order to reference various studies, policies, and polls from other universities. Under “Synthesis of Survey Findings of UO Faculty, Staff, and Students,” the report states that

Many survey respondents are ready to support the move to a smoke free campus… [and] also were confident that this could be accomplished with designated smoking areas… (Ibid.)

Oh, hey, there’s a reasonable point. But no! The STFT simply cannot concede, because “enforcement becomes very difficult and compliance suffers as a result.” You don’t say.

No matter what the administration does, what programs it implements, what funding it pulls or pushes, students will push against it. Lord knows the Commentator will. The Healthy Campus Initiative tried to remedy this student disconnect with the “STFU” posters, a internet-conscious campaign that seemed to confuse people more than encourage quitting (check out this post about the issue from our very own Editor Emeritus Sophia Lawhead).

Another argument is that it unfairly targets lower-income UO workers. Even those filthy hipsters at the OV agree with us on this point. Making workers go off campus for a 15 minute smoke break is not only inconsiderate, but damaging to already-strained labor relationships.

“All I wanted was a non-fat, cream-jizzed latte with peasant tears in it!”

So why bring up this almost-5-year-old report, you may ask? Because Frances Dyke and company never really cared about what students thought. The UO has become a brand, and it needs to sell itself in order to keep flagging state funding and private donor contributions steady. The publicity surrounding the ban has relentlessly focused on the “progressive” aspects of the program without attending to the opinions of students or faculty – and if so, only through narrow data samples used to prop up their point.

But the effects of secondhand smoke are serious. I completely understand the goal behind the smoking ban. Cigarette butt litter continues to be a problem, and has only been exacerbated by the ban — take a look at the 13th and Kincaid entrance to campus if you don’t believe me. Families with young children and people with respiratory problems are also rightfully concerned.

The only way to fight this ban, then, is to implement a personal smoker code of ethics to demonstrate smoker commitment to a healthy campus and personal freedoms. Here’s mine:

  1. Always smoke away from buildings and large groups of people, and/or areas of great traffic.
  2. Stop inhaling and pull the cigarette as far away from passing families with children.
  3. If someone asks you to smoke off campus, politely decline or simply don’t say anything at all. You’ll be finished if and when they call DPS.
  4. Put butts out and make sure they’re extinguished before throwing them away.
  5. Throw butts in the trash.
  6. If an officer asks you to put your cigarette out, assess the situation. Fines suck, but so do the deprivation of “perceived personal rights.”
  7. Overall, recognize that your activity is looked down upon. Take pride in this.

It’s not perfect, but it works for me. The Commentator will continue to fight this arbitrary ban with articles, letters, appeals, and upcoming events like Tobacco Appreciation Day. But the ball is in smokers’ courts. We at the Commentator will do our best to point out the massive cavalcades of bullshit directed at students who make the choice to smoke. This smoking ban is just another attempt at nannying the student populace; the administration never does anything without direct benefit to them, and they’ve fucked smokers to bolster their public image under the pretense of “knowing what’s best.”

The whole campaign feels like yet another pat on the head, another assumption about our intelligence, actions, and responsibilities. But we’re not kids anymore. We’re adults, students, workers, and yes, smokers. So smoke ’em if ya got ’em. It’s going to be a long, long battle.

College Democrats Vs. College Republicans at McKenzie Hall

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Order of questioning has been decided by rock, paper, scissors. Click below for more.

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Third Party Candidates

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Jill Stein is the Green Party’s presidential candidate. The Green Party is a very liberal party, with an emphasis and equality and equal opportunity for all. There is also a major focus on the environment and sustainable practices. Stein is proposing a “Green New Deal” in an effort to control global warming and the financial crises facing America. The deal encompasses government investing in green technologies, higher taxes on oil and petroleum profits, break-up of large financial institutions and stricter tax oversight of large corporations. It is predicted that Stein will win between 1% and 1.9% of the popular vote.

Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate. He was the Governor of New Mexico for 8 years, and he notably vetoed 750 bills and left the state a nearly $1 billion dollar budget surplus. He proposes to cut government spending by 42%, and eliminating entirely the federal income tax in favor of the “Fair Tax”, a tax on the amount of money one spends. He is also a proponent of legalizing marijuana and drastically decreasing our foreign involvement. Many have called Johnson a “Ron Paul Libertarian.” He has also climbed Mt. Everest!

Rocky Anderson is the Justice Party’s presidential candidate. The Justice party is a very young political party, being created in November of 2011. Rocky Anderson was the Mayor of Salt Lake City from 2000-2008. The Justice Party doesn’t have a lot of information regarding their platform, but they do want to abolish corporate personhood, end the Bush Tax cuts, and they want to work towards campaign finance reform. They are a party with ecological concerns, wanting to ban mountaintop removal mining and they have a firm stance against the expansion of the Keystone pipeline. Anderson also endorses a single-payer healthcare system to help further equality.

Virgil Goode is the presidential candidate for the Constitution Party. He is running on a basic platform of four points: Restrict immigration, cut back the size of the government, balance the budget and impose congressional term limits. Interestingly, he has been criticized more harshly than any other candidate as being a “spoiler”, taking away votes for Romney and helping Obama, though he is only the third most popular Third Party candidate, behind Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. The Constitution Party is a quite conservative party, and as the name suggests, attempts to determine policy based on the documents that founded our country.