Tag Archives: election 2012

Opinion  /  November 15, 2012  / 

Election Season at HLS Shows LSAT Tests Intellect, Not Intellectual Honesty

Several months ago a friend and I discussed the differences between Harvard Law School and our undergraduate universities.  One story he told me involved an answer he gave to a professor’s question during his 1L year at HLS—one that was not bulletproof, but one which his undergrad classmates would have accepted or dismissed without protest.  At HLS, another student responded and proceeded to dismantle the argument, picking apart every piece of porous reasoning. That was the major difference, he and I decided, between HLS and our previous schools.  Here, half-baked arguments don’t get a pass and faulty analysis gets called out.  For that reason, HLS students tend to think before they speak or, more commonly, share on Facebook.  For some, however, such self-restraint becomes an impossibly herculean task during election season. In one scene from Disney’s “Finding Nemo,” Bruce and two other sharks raise their fins and pledge “fish are … Continue reading

Opinion  /  November 7, 2012  / 

Don’t Blame Mitt

We live in a world where people often get judged based on results. We celebrate winners and criticize losers. In the coming months, Mitt Romney will likely face great criticism, especially as the Republican Party engages in “soul-searching” at its “crossroads.” Journalists and commentators will argue that Romney was a flawed candidate who ran a flawed campaign. Everybody will take turns telling stories about why Romney lost: Where did Mitt go wrong? Was it Big Bird? Binders full of women? The 47 percent? His tax returns? Or Clint Eastwood’s empty chair? Now that the election is over, and with the benefit of hindsight, many people will blame Mitt Romney. Such is the nature of our consequentialist ethic. But I prefer to offer an alternative perspective. Remember the candidates running in the Republican primaries? Mitt Romney was probably the most credible candidate that the GOP could have put up. Herman Cain … Continue reading

Opinion  /  November 6, 2012  / 

An Election Day Primer: What to Watch

I’ve done the hard work of finding out what’s interesting, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy Election Day. Presidential Race What to watch for: Number of write-in votes for “Bronco Bamma” Why: Because someone inexplicably decided that every news outlet in the known universe needed to cover this.   What to watch for: Number of states Nate Silver predicts incorrectly Why: Because in 2008 he got 49 of 50, plus the District of Columbia, plus every Senate race.  Can he do better this time? Hint: This is not a good drinking game.   What to watch for: Whether Obama wins Minnesota, Michigan, or Pennsylvania Why: Because longtime Obama strategist David Axelrod has agreed to shave his mustache of 40 years if Obama loses any of those states.  Coincidentally (or not?), these are the states Romney is pouring money into these past few days.   Bonus: Where to watch … Continue reading

Opinion  /  October 31, 2012  / 

Billy Graham and the Last Crusade

At 93, the Rev. Billy Graham knows that his winter has come. He has been widowed for five years, having lost his wife of six decades. He has lost much of his vision and hearing. He can barely move his limbs. Over the past decade, his ailments have included bronchitis, hydrocephalus, pneumonia, pelvic fractures, prostate cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. His once-powerful voice now speaks in whispers. Yet, with his health failing and death on the horizon, why did Billy Graham intervene in the muddy world of politics? Billy Graham had nothing to gain, because his legacy was already set in stone long before this election. History will remember Billy Graham as registered Democrat who fought apartheid, fought segregation, and stood publicly with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950s. Billy Graham had conducted over 400 evangelical crusades in 185 countries and six continents. He has written dozens of bestselling books. … Continue reading

Opinion  /  October 23, 2012  / 

Truthiness in Action: A Modest Proposal for Better Presidential Campaigns

This year’s debates, both presidential and vice-presidential, have been a triumph for the math nerds. Candidates have hurled numbers at one another at a lightning pace.  A $5 trillion tax cut.  23 million Americans out of work. They might as well have claimed that  as far as the American public’s understanding of things has gone. That’s the first problem: average Americans can’t understand this stuff. The second problem is that, as the candidates never miss an opportunity to point out, we can’t trust what either of them actually says.  Each contends that his opponent is lying to the American people.  Third parties, especially on the Internet, seem to take extreme relish in substantiating these claims.  And so, with the words each candidate says dismissed as “malarkey” and “stuff” (in Joe Biden’s overly sanitary description), we can’t trust a thing they say. How do we fix these two problems that, together, … Continue reading

Opinion  /  October 11, 2012  / 

A Rock and a Hard Place

I have a dilemma. For months now, I have been swearing left and right that I wouldn’t vote for either Romney or Obama. And now, I just don’t know. Quite obviously, I would never vote for Obama. First of all, he lacked moral integrity when he promised that he would shut down Guantanamo even though anyone of his intellectual caliber would know that such a move would be impossible in the execution. Second, he has expanded executive power beyond anything that is acceptable or would be viewed as acceptable by the Framers. Consider the drone attacks that are terrorizing innocent children in Pakistan, or Obama’s unilateral declaration that all males killed by a drone will be presumed to be terrorists. Or how about the fact that Obama decided that he can secretly order the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen? Finally, whether he is primarily responsible for this or not … Continue reading

Opinion  /  October 3, 2012  / 

Live Blog: Harvard Watches the Debate

Plenty of people will be live-blogging the first presidential debate tonight, but here we have what you really want:  a live account of Harvard’s viewing party. 8:54:  The debate hasn’t even started, and the food is already gone. Also, both Ames and the overflow room are showing the debate on Fox News. 8:57:  Announcement: we are thanked by the Harvard Democrats and Republicans, the Dean of Students’ Office, and possibly the Bull-Moose Party (I wasn’t really paying attention). 8:59:  The rainy weather tonight has given people a lot of seat-saving options. There are coats, umbrellas and ponchos all over the Ames’ upholstery. 9:00:  The room hushes to hear Chris Wallace. 9:01:  Some whooping for Jim Lehrer (seriously). 9:02: I appreciate them flashing Jim’s stats as he explains the rules. 9:03:  Lehrer will not tolerate your shenanigans. 9:03: Obama and Romney appear to be getting equal levels of applause here in … Continue reading

Opinion  /  October 3, 2012  / 

Swinging the Swing States

Americans represent only 5 percent of the world’s population. Given America’s superpower status, the remaining 95 percent of humanity surely has preferences about whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney sits in the Oval Office. This begs a question. Is it possible that the swing states that will decide the U.S. presidential election might not be Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, but rather Russia, China, and Israel? Although foreign states don’t vote, their leaders are surely aware that the U.S. election will boil down to narrow electoral polls where even a 1 percent swing might determine the next leader of the free world. And there are hundreds of possible global events that might swing the U.S. electorate. For example, Russia could launch a test missile, China could let the yuan appreciate 5 percent, or Israel could attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. And almost any one of America’s major trading partners—Canada, India, Brazil, Mexico, … Continue reading

Opinion  /  September 27, 2012  / 

Ten Things Romney and Obama Should Do Instead of Debating

Soon, it will be October, which means shorter days, all sorts of pumpkin-flavored shit, atrociously reffed football games, and the beginning of a seemingly interminable series of debates. Is anyone looking forward to these debates except to catch Mittens finally losing it and cussing out poor people? Despite the fact that Romney’s job for two years was to convince people to believe in a religion based on some golden plates found in upstate New York (do you know what kind of homunculi live in upstate New York?!) and that we are all the “spirit-children” of God, he is surprisingly terrible at debating. Also, while Barack is fairly charismatic, he’s probably fresh out of promises to break in his first year of reelection.  Thus, even though this season’s television has already proven to be terrible (Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson, a whole mess of shows about gays that are indistinguishable from … Continue reading

Opinion  /  September 19, 2012  / 

Senate Seat Is Warren’s to Lose

Is it possible that in a state as blue as Massachusetts, Senator Scott Brown would be able to repeat his 2010 feat and win a second race for Ted Kennedy’s seat? The conventional wisdom is that Brown might be able to prevail in a close election. The latest Kimball poll has Brown leading Elizabeth Warren among likely Massachusetts voters by 46 percent to 45 percent. The latest Intrade prediction gives Brown a 57 percent chance of winning. Nevertheless, I think that the dynamics of the race still favor Warren. Look, Brown is a formidable political opponent. He is an attractive 6’2″ ex-centerfold model who dons a colonel’s uniform, drives a GMC truck, and plays a good game of basketball. As Massachusetts Republicans go, you can’t get more moderate than Brown—he is pro-choice, accepts gay marriage, and has a centrist voting record. Neither does it hurt that Brown’s family speaks eloquently … Continue reading