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Keagan Tafler

The Latest on the Republican Campaign

Although the past week’s political media was largely dominated by Obama’s proposal to return Israel to the 1967 borders, it has also been a landmark week for the 2012 Republican hopefuls. Donald Trump has officially bowed out of the race, confirming that his “run” was little more than a publicity stunt, whereas Mike Huckabee has confirmed that he will not seek the presidency, instead retaining his position with the Fox News network. For those still remaining in the race, however, each has enjoyed several newsworthy moments this week. Current countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 251 days.Tim Pawlenty:In news that should surprise absolutely nobody, numerous media outlets have confirmed that Pawlenty would officially declare his candidacy and launch a presidential campaign this past week. Pawlenty formed an exploratory committee in March, so this announcement has been expected for some time. Pawlenty kicked off his formal campaign last Monday in Des Moines, IA, which was followed by a Facebook town hall and media availability in Coral Gables, FL, and a second media availability on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.Newt Gingrich:Gingrich’s short campaign has already endured its fair share of embarrassments, from Gingrich’s bumbling appearance on “Meet the Press,” to being showered with glittery confetti by an eager gay-rights activist. Gingrich’s critique of Representative Paul Ryan’s Medicare voucher plan (coupled with his announced plan for new, targeted government spending initiatives to foster economic growth) was not well received by the conservative GOP base. Most importantly, Gingrich is starting to appear dangerously out of touch with the current electorate.Rick Santorum:Santorum continues to log more frequent flyer miles than most of the other candidates combined, but it is unclear if that will do him any good in the campaign in the long run. The past week marked Santorum’s fourteenth visit to Iowa since he began his… Read More

Chris Christie and Honesty in Politics

Politicians are known for lying. That might sound pessimistic, but it’s a well-known fact. Recently, politicians like Chris Lee and Anthony Weiner have only confirmed the stereotypical caricature that every politician has something to hide, whether that “something” be motive, belief, or illicit Internet activity. Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, however, has been trying a different approach to politics lately: blatant honesty.Last week, Gail, a New Jersey voter, asked the governor, “you don’t send your children to public schools, you send them to private schools, so I was wondering why you think it’s fair to be cutting school funding to public schools?”Christie barely hesitated before delivering a clear response: “What is her name? Gail? You know what, first off; it’s none of your business. I don’t ask you about where you send your kids to school; don’t bother me about where I send mine. Secondly, I pay about $30,000 dollars in property taxes for a public school system that my wife and I don’t choose to utilize. We believe that a religious education should be a part of our children’s everyday education. Third, as governor, I am responsible for every child in this state, not just my own. And decisions that I make are to try to improve the educational opportunities of every child in this state. With all due respect, it’s none of your business.”Christie’s candor drew the expected positive reaction from conservative pundits — Glenn Beck even compared the statement to “conservative porn.” More importantly, however, it marked one of the more publicized occasions in recent memory when a politician deviated from the standard script to deliver a true, real response.Chris Christie is never mentioned in the ranks of eloquent Republican speakers, and don’t expect that to change any time soon. Republicans need their own Barack Obama… Read More

A Republican view of the Tea Party

Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Michelle Bachmann, Christine O’Donnell… Today, the figureheads of the American Tea Party are better known than most American politicians. As a vocal conservative, I am often asked what my own personal opinions are in regards to the Tea Party, so I’d like to take this particular opportunity to clarify: I hate the Tea Party.Now, before I reach the substantive part of this column, let me issue an important disclaimer: I am a proud Republican. I believe in the traditional Republican ideals of peace through strength, limited government, and fiscal conservatism and responsibility. Furthermore, I bear no ill will towards the entrenched Republican establishment. As a Republican, I take issue with the Tea Party because I believe that it has severely weakened the GOP, creating an internal schism that makes winning elections against the unified Democrats increasingly difficult.The Tea Party movement has existed since early 2009, named after the infamous Boston Tea Party of 1773. The Tea Party platform advocates decreased government spending, opposition to taxation, and belief in an originalist interpretation of the American Constitution. Currently, the Tea Party is also the most successful grassroots political movement of the 20th century.The Tea Party claims to be unaffiliated with either main political party, but numerous points have proven this to be false. The Tea Party platform has seemingly manifested itself as an unwanted cousin of the Republican, Conservative, and Libertarian Parties, borrowing ideologies from all three. Furthermore, if the Tea Party really despised the Republican establishment, it would run its candidates on a separate platform altogether rather than continually spoiling traditional Republican nominees in primary races.Perhaps what is most ironic about the Tea Party is that in their proclaimed search for political legitimacy, they manage to make themselves into their own media punching bag. Today, Sarah Palin is… Read More

Tressel cover-up exposed

What’s the difference between Jim Tressel and Bruce Pearl?Both men are athletic coaches at Division I schools in major athletic conferences. Both have experienced considerable success at their respective posts, and are well known to the American public. And both should have been fired for an ever-growing laundry list of NCAA rule violations. The biggest difference, however, is that the latter has been realized only in the case of Pearl.By all accounts, Tressel should be the one browsing Craigslist. Why? Let’s recap the situation:Last April, Ohio State Buckeyes football coach Jim Tressel received e-mails from a Columbus attorney and ex-Ohio State football player, informing the coach that several of his players had been trading football souvenirs and memorabilia to the owner of a Columbus tattoo shop. In exchange (and in blatant disregard of NCAA rules), the players would receive payments, often through tattoo discounts. These unnamed players were later revealed to be Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey and star quarterback Terrelle Pryor.When the rule violations became known to the public, Tressel’s role in the situation was yet unknown. When the coach was first revealed to be complicit, however, he maintained that a confidentiality agreement with the source precluded him from sharing his knowledge with anyone, particularly the officials at Ohio State.When the e-mails were made public, it was revealed that the attorney did not request any confidentiality on Tressel’s part until two weeks after the initial exchange.The latest?According to the Columbus Dispatch, Tressel is a liar, and his confidentiality defense is laughable at best. Citing its own confidential sources, the Dispatch reports that Tressel forwarded the e-mails he had received about Pryor’s infractions to Ted Sarniak. Sarniak is a businessman from Pryor’s hometown, and has long been Pryor’s mentor.If Tressel’s “confidentiality obligations” precluded him from sharing the information with his bosses at… Read More

Interview with Dr. Juan Carlos Hidalgo of the Cato Institute

Dr. Juan Carlos Hidalgo is currently serving as the project coordinator for Latin America at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute. I was recently able to talk with Dr. Hidalgo about political issues relevant to Latin America.Question: What are your thoughts on Daniel Ortega’s recent victory in the Nicaragua election?It was expected that Ortega was going to commit fraud, given that independent monitors were not allowed to come to the elections. The gravest part of all of it was that Ortega was allowed to run, seeing as he had already been president twice. But despite all of these irregularities, the election took place, and the Organization of American States even congratulated Ortega. We will see if Washington and Brussels will take action to not recognize Ortega. We also do not want this election to create a precedent for next year when Chavez runs for president. The precedent needs to be set now.Question: Pursuant to the previous question, what are your thoughts on the Organization of American States’ observer mission in the Nicaragua election?It was a shame that the OAS went out to support the election but can be expected looking at the record of OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza, who is a pawn of Chavez. Insulza has endorsed the actions taken by Chavez and the other autocratic presidents in Latin America. It was expected that the OAS would come out to support the results despite the irregularities tweeted the night before the Nicaragua election.Question: The twenty-first century has witnessed a great increase in trade between Latin America and Asia. Why do you think this is, and do you see the trend continuing into the future?There are positive effects that come with greater trade relations between Latin American and Asia, particularly with China. This does present… Read More
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