Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Who Will Lead Us?

As the midterm elections approach there are many issues that are facing voters. I can think of several right off the top of my head:

Wars – Iraq, Afghanistan; Crises – Iran, North Korea, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon; Human tragedies – the Sudan, the Gulf Coast; The environment – Global warming; Affordable health care (or lack thereof); Quality education; Transportation – the bus system; Gas prices

Just to name a few. I am sure there are some I am leaving out. Who will lead us? We who are not politicians, but voters have a right and a duty to participate, stay informed and hold those, who choose public office, accountable.

I really don’t see a whole lot of quality candidates out there that I would like to vote for – Republican or Democratic. The Democrats say that they will be sweeping the elections. It’s definitely their election to lose, but what do they stand for and what will they do?

They seem to have spent the last several years disagreeing with Republicans. The Republicans fair no better in my mind. They have spent the past several years rubber stamping every hair brained idea the President thinks up while using the spector of TERRORISM.

Now its election time and everyone has a plan, everyone thinks independently. Republicans say they are Democrats and Independents, Democrats say its their turn to run the country.

Is it once again our time to vote for the lesser of two evils? How sad is that. With all the issues listed above we are settling for those who are supposed to be examples of our country, role models and ethically above reproach.

However, having pontificated I will say that it is time for a change. Those who rose to power in the age of “Capital Crimes” must go. Those who started wars on false premises must go. Those who ignore the environment must go. Those who think it’s the other person’s job to worry about health care or education while this generation languishes must go. Those who are unwilling to have bi-lateral talks with their “enemies” must go.

It is time for change. We hold the power. We hold all of them accountable. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. Pay attention. The world is watching.

Monday, August 28, 2006

President Bush and New Orleans

It seems President Bush took a vacation with his family this past week in Kennebunkport, Maine. I think he went fishing, had quiet strolls and drank with friends and family (oh sorry he doesn't drink or use cocaine anymore.) Meanwhile on the gulf coast thousands upon thousands of people are still without basic necessities such as power, sewage, clean water or a home.

I liken the gulf coast to Afghanistan and Iraq in a few ways. Mississippi is Afghanistan, the forgotten war, and Louisiana is Iraq, a complete mess and wholly mismanaged. The federal government also managed, like Iraq, to award tons of no bid contracts.

Meanwhile, Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, got a lot of flak this weekend for making a comment about comparing the Trade Center site and the slow cleanup in New Orleans. I don't agree with his comment and think he was wrong in making the statement. However, it got me thinking about how quickly the cleanup went in New York versus this disaster. Why is that?

In the gulf coast people are still living in trailers, there is trash everywhere, thousands are still displaced, the levees have not yet been secured against another storm, federal aid is trickling in like an eye dropper, and red tape is everywhere.

However, one thing remains the same. The waste of money through inadequate response, fraud, no bid contractors and lack of coordination.

I have some credibility where this is concerned. I did my three and a half months service work with Katrina victims. I saw first hand what this did to the lives of those in the hurricane's path. I also saw massive mismanagement, turf wars, infighting, fraud and apathy. It was infuriating. Yet I had a clean place to sleep at night and knew my relatives and pets were okay.

Do I blame anybody for the disaster, yes and no. I think they all screwed up. Everyone from the local government to the President made poor choices. The disaster itself and the response were catastrophe's beyond comprehension. It seems most of life is about reaction rather than pro-action. That being said we are now at the one year anniversary. We should be done with the "reaction."

In the end I guess this is a developer's dream or a wonderful case of imminent domain. We should soon see, because people cannot return to their homes or their neighborhoods are wholly condemned, massive confiscation of property, new and beautiful resorts; condos built and an influx of tourist revenue from the rich and vacationing.

It makes me think of one of my favorite movies, Cinderella Man. James J. Braddock decisively defeats Max Baer and his manager, Paul Giamatti, says, "If they take this long, they are going to decide to screw somebody." Unlike the ending, New Orleans and Mississippi lost. So much for the down trodden, those in need or the underdog in America.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Prejudice and Us

I just read an article about the prejudice being experienced by heterosexuals in Provincetown, Massachusetts. You don't encounter examples of this occurring very often. Apparently, someone has posted all the names of townsfolk who signed a petition wanting to ban gay marriage. All the individuals identified were members of a local Catholic church.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why they signed the petition. Those listed say that they have been harassed as a result of the information release with one lady reporting that her car was defiled by dog feces. Another man says he has been called a "Breeder." The typically hated have all of a sudden become the haters.

I don't condone bigoted remarks by any group. However, it sure sounds like someone has some pent up anger and doing a little “rage against the machine.”

Why am I telling this story…because our South Carolina legislature is about to spend time, tax dollars and campaigning opportunities on the Gay Marriage Amendment. This agenda item seems somewhat wasteful since we already have two laws on the books (Sections 21-1-10 and 20-1-15) that prohibit marriage for gays and lesbians.

I will have to admit I have Libertarian leanings, not to be confused with those of Glenn McConnell, but I think the effort to promote this agenda is wrong on so many levels. The most pertinent complication is the conflict associated with basic human rights. That being said, I hate to break the news, but the bible does not prohibit homosexuality. The word “homosexual” was never in the bible. This is a modern word that was created in the last 400 years with the introduction of the King James Bible. By all accounts, this version of the bible was created out of pre-existing religious texts enhanced by what King James thought was politically and morally correct. This shouldn't surprise anyone since typical tradition suggests that kings believed they were ordained by God, not unlike Bush, but let’s not digress. In King James’ case, he had the opportunity to enhance what became an “authoritative text.”

So, if you think homosexuality is in the bible and I can’t talk you down, I have to tell you that I see nothing but cherry picking on this one. Why is it that when people talk about homosexuality they almost always reference the Old Testament, a document in which slavery is an acceptable practice, women are perceived to be secondary to men, and shellfish shouldn't be eaten? We don’t think these practices are morally acceptable, so why the does the controversy surrounding homosexuality and marriage/civil unions continue? How do the “morally superior” know the difference between suffrage, slavery and homosexuality?

Science says homosexuality is normal, the American Psychological Association says it’s normal, some religious sects are accepting, but not most Republicans. Somehow opponents don't seem to notice that "traditional" marriages have a 49% divorce rate. Gays and lesbians aren't even counted in the game.

I also wonder why there is a house bill and a senate bill about hate crimes and school safety. The hate crimes bill makes it a crime to commit a violent act on someone due to their sexual orientation. The school bill makes it a crime to harass a kid at school due to their sexual orientation. This is schizophrenic logic.

So here we go again on the marriage amendment, an unnecessary bigoted law. The Libertarians hate it because it’s government regulation, most Democrats and some Independents hate it because they think it’s wrong. Who loves it, let's see…oh yeah, Republicans and their "values agenda."

This scenario is ever-present in South Carolina. As a State, we are setting a perfect example of people being duped into voting for knuckleheads because they fall for the Republican war cry about gays and lesbians desecrating our moral fiber. I would hope that as citizens of this great state and nation, we are not so disconnected with the world to believe that homosexuality is the most important issue we’re facing. Let’s take off the proverbial white hoods and recognize what we are doing to fellow human beings that are in loving committed relationships and are deserving of basic human rights.

I know it’s those darn activist judges we have to fear, they may get it into their heads that all people deserve equality under the law; even gays and lesbians. What would they be thinking? Republican politicians are constantly telling their constituents that the nation has to be protected or saved from activist judges and the "gay hordes" that are destroying the moral fiber of communities, brainwashing children and promoting "deviant" lifestyles.

Take the plank out of your own eye before you go after the speck in your brother or sister's eye. The road to heaven is not paved by Republicans or the "religious" right.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

1st Comments

I have put aside my lunch of paint chips long enough to let you all know how much I appreciate the excellent response to the first blog.

I will take my lumps along with the rest of the moderate world.

All the responses were quite thought provoking.

Tara, stop drinking the kool-aid, the so called cry-babies see the middle east as a complex situation. All will not be solved by guns and bombs, though I do think they are needed at times.

Josh, I appreciate your welcome and look forward to many good debates. See YOU on the blogosphere!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Our Role on the World Stage as a Superpower

Superpower… What exactly does that mean? Is our country still a superpower?

Superpower implies that there are other “little powers” and we are above them.

Because our arsenal of guns and nuclear weapons is so much larger than other counties, I suppose you could argue that we are a superpower.

Or does it mean that we have the intellectual capacity to serve as the world’s policemen? The right hates that term but it is true in a lot of respects. We are kids on the block compared to other nations. We are a couple of hundred years old. Some of these countries are thousands of years old.

If we are a superpower then we must have noticed that there is a fire burning in the Middle East. You may have heard of it. It’s Israel against the Middle East. That begs the question, “Where is America?” We are a superpower right?

Israel is our friend. We have gone to great lengths to protect their little nation. We have supplied money, aid, guns, airplanes and just about anything else they’ve needed. They are at war and where are we?

The warmongers say that those to the left of middle are pacifists. Michael Graham compares this situation to Canada. (The Free Times - The Usual Suspects) How we would feel if we were in the same predicament?

I fully support Israel’s right to exist and defend itself and its people. But where are we?

There are much larger implications than this “small war.” Back in the 80’s we fought Russia through Afghanistan. Now we are fighting Iran and Syria through Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas. Brinkmanship and deniability are dangerous games to play. If you play it once too often someone is going to call you on it.

We’ve felt as though we have had the right to preemptively strike a nation who supposedly had nuclear or chemical weapons aimed at us or Israel. But this is a real war that can spiral out of control. When I first wrote this on Friday Condi had just decided to go to the Middle East but she wanted to make sure she wasn’t just going “to give people hope there would be negotiations that would lead to something.” Yeah it might lead to a cease fire or Israel cooling off a bit.

They say, Iraq is a better place because Saddam is gone. Ask the people dying in the streets each day, who have no power, who don’t have jobs or clean drinking water. I’m not saying that Saddam should still be in power but we have given away the compassion the world had for us on September 11, 2001 and created some seriously dangerous world stage situations. Israel is one of them. Our troops are bogged down in this war and the “forgotten war”, Afghanistan, so do we even have the resources to help?

For years every world leader that had been asked about the situation in the Middle East has had the same response, “solve the Palestinian question.” We have done everything but solve this question. Those in Hezbollah and Hamas and Islamic Jihad live for war. Their ideas are of a world where everyone reads the Quran and the one true God is worshipped. Let’s not even get started on their ideas about women. This will never happen so they will essentially fight forever. However, those that believe in these organizations but live everyday normal lives want peace to raise their children, work and worship. I don't have any illsions about people of these countries wanting democracy like we know it. However, I would hazard a guess they don't want bombs falling on them everyday like the Jihadist's do.

War is not a necessity. It is something we do when all else fails. Are we admitting that all else has failed? Are we prepared to let this conflict spiral out of control?

It’s like we’ve decided to play a bad kickball game. We’ve all started to choose our teams. America picks Israel, Iran picks Hezbollah/Hamas, Iran picks Syria, and we pick…hmmmmmm? Who’s left that would want to be on our team? Something wicked is coming and the payback will be enormous. In the end, oil will be the least of our concerns.