Monday, July 23, 2007

2007 Democratic Debate hosted by Anderson Cooper

Did anyone catch the 2007 Democratic Debate tonight? It was hosted by Anderson Cooper and held in North Carolina. I was pleasantly surprised to see that CNN had decided to allow people to submit questions to the candidates through Youtube, but I think it definitely helps to capture a wider range of opinions and concerns.

I don't know any of the candidates very well- at least, not in the way I think is sufficient for me to judge them. All the information I really get about them are the headlines from the New York Times and CNN, and occasionally the New York Post. It's important, I feel, to get to know a candidate not just from his/her head-turning actions ("So-and-so raised that much money from those sources? So-and-so does not support gay marriage?"), but also from the things they did as governor or senator- the things that doesn't necessarily catch the media's attention, but it definitely helps the public.

Anyway, this debate really was a good way for me to get a feel for the Democratic candidates, and Gov. Bill Richardson really is standing out to me. I think that says a lot, especially since he has such flashy competitors, like Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden. Plus, I really appreciate that he has a great deal of experience in foreign policy and UN relations- which is really what this country needs right now: some coherent sense of direction in foreign diplomacy.

Some of the questions were extremely intelligent and well-thought-out. One that sticks out is a reverend saying that back when slavery was still present, politicians used the Bible as a justification for the oppression of black people. He goes on to ask how that is any different from the Bible-touting politicians who oppose gay marriage and civil unions. That question was directed to Sen. John Edwards, because he is from the South and has strong Catholic beliefs, and he also opposes gay marriage.

I was very impressed when Sen. Edwards said that the Reverend is right- that politicians should not use their faith as a justification on why there ought not to be gay marriage- even though he has indeed been guilty of doing so. He also said that his opposition to gay marriage is deeply personal to him. I saw that statement translate into layman terms: "I don't like gay marriage because I am not used to the idea of two men or two women having sex, and that action being legal and accepted in our present society." There were just ways that Sen. Edwards could have dodged that bullet, but he chose to just admit outright that it was wrong of him to quote the Bible for such an issue.

The final questions was by someone who said it was to lighten the mood. The Youtube user wanted each candidate to tell the person to the left of him/her one thing that they admire in the candidate, and one thing that they dislike. I thought that it was completely revelatory of each candidate and the way they answered. A good example would be Sen. Hillary Clinton saying that she admired Sen. Obama, just like she admires all the other candidates, and she ended there- to which Anderson Cooper says, "I take it that you're not going to answer the question." My favorite response was (if you can guess) Sen. Richardson's, where he went into great detail about Sen. Biden's contributions to America ("This man has devoted his whole life to public service...") His reply was good-humored and honest, unlike Sen. Biden's response to Sen. Dennis Kicinich ("I don't like a damn thing about this man- I'm only kidding.")

Finally, Youtube has also posted all the questions that aired on the Debate. I will include the link below.

I think that Anderson Cooper did a phenomenal job dogging the candidates to answer the question instead of veering off into a whole tangent of self-promotion. I clapped my hands every time he said, "So was that a yes or a no?" It's no secret that these responses that the candidates have are well-rehearsed verbal vomit that sometimes have no definite meaning behind the pretty words.


You should also surf around Youtube to find broken-up segments of the democratic debate.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Funeral For A Young Police Officer Draws 10,000 Mourners

I literally gasped when I saw the cover page of the New York Times this morning. At first I thought I was seeing some sort of parade or commemoration for some important event, possibly happening in another country- but then I saw the bright store fronts that was so distinctively Brooklyn, and I realized that today was the funeral for the officer who got shot on July 9th by car thieves.

I have unintentionally caught the head and the tail end of this story. When it first happened, I remember the New York Times running a large article about how the officer, Russel Timoshenko, and his partner, Herman Yan, were shot by three men in a stolen car. That article stuck out in particular because there was an accompanying piece about how the majority of the NYPD is now made up of immigrants (Timoshenko is Belorussian; Yan is from Hong Kong) and I thought about the boy who was an NYU student who got killed a couple months back- he was Russian, I believe. The New York Times had an article about how he and his family had immigrated from Russia, and they live in Green Point now, and what a great kid this boy was.

I really didn't read much about it again (maybe once in the Post) until today when the above picture caught my attention.

It is great that the New York Times bothered to tie the two police shootings together, to remind people that it is a dangerous profession that men and women are voluntarily choosing. It humanizes the NYPD, turning them into real people with real faces- they are not just a cloudy blob of blue that help to promote vague abstracts like "justice" and "law."

I actually encountered some people today who were at the funeral. They had just came from the funeral and were slightly drunk.

Today's article was written by Andy Newman. I shall also include the original article in the links below.

Link to the first article on July 10:
Link for article about immigrants in NYPD: