Category Archives: Politics

A Lack of Perspective

Today I caught an article on the Christian Science Monitor that talks about the failure of U.S. intelligence prior to the 9/11 attacks. The Monitor has always been a great source of journalism, and I found this article particularly insightful. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“The USA is widely loathed, but our leaders never fully grasped that before last September. Shortly after the attacks, President Bush claimed to be “amazed” that anyone hates America, because “I know how good we are.” This naivete is a failure of “intelligence” not the kind the FBI and CIA specialize in, but a lapsed ability to see the global political landscape from any perspective outside one’s own.”

The full text of this article can be found here.

Religious Funamentalism in American Government

On Wednesday, June 26th, 2001, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, in it’s current form, is unconstitutional, due to it’s inclusion of the words ‘under God’. The words ‘under God’ were added in 1956 during the Eisenhower administration and it became official with an act of Congress.

There has been violent opposition to this ruling in both the government as well as the general public. Several members of Congress have resorted to name calling, labeling the judges (or single judge as some of the more senile members of congress believe) stupid. This is not the way elected officials should behave. These people are supposed to be setting an example for the nation.

These judges did not come to this conclusion lightly. They looked at the laws regarding the separation of church and state and found that this was indeed an infringement of that separation. Plainly stated, this is an obvious conclusion. One must make great assumptions and compromises of logic to believe otherwise.

President George W. Bush, in reaction to the 2-1 ruling, stated ‘We need to put judges on the bench that understand that our rights are derived from God.’ If this isn’t a perfectly obvious example for the need for better enforcement of the seperation of church and state, then I don’t know what is. This is a perfect example of how an indoctrinated recitation of a statement of allegiance to a nation with the inclusion of religious properties can drift a nation towards religious fundamentalism. There are many people in this nation and in this world that believe that the rights of humankind are derived not from any one deity or deities, but derived from the inherent common sense and morals of the people themselves. To assume that rights are derived from such a deity violates the American basis of the separation of church and state. To hear this coming from a sitting president is indeed a frightening illustration that religious fundamentalism has encroached upon our government.

I for one feel that the words ‘under God’ should be removed from the pledge of allegiance, because it excludes atheists as well as polytheists and religions that do not have deities at all. It serves to divide the nation into theists and atheists, and it’s current wording infringes upon the rights of the atheist constituency.

The separation of church and state must be enforced. We have seen what harm state-mandated religion has done to nations throughout history. The United States should not become the world’s next government of religious fundamentalism. We should not think of ourselves as ‘One nation, under God,’ but rather simply ‘One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’

How to successfully further the aims of your critics…

It is a week after it was exposed that the White House had advance warning and details of a possible plot to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings before 9/11. The Democrats are calling for a full inquiry and the White House looks like they’re in a real bad position no matter how you slice it. Now the White House is pumping out daily headlines with vauge information that they may again be up to something, while at the same time criticizing the Democrats for questioning their authority.

It is a week after former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited Cuba and called for lifting of the 40 year old trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba. Jimmy says that the Cubans are definitley not developing weapons of mass destruction and, being the first current or former President of the United States to do so, has delivered a public and uncensored speech to the people of Cuba extolling the benefits of democracy. And now George Dubyah is in Florida with his brother, Gov’nah Jeb, hyping up his demands for Cuban reforms and shoring up his position on refusing to lift the embargo.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the White House is a bit too interested right now in domestic PR campaigns to cover their collective butts. Would it not be better to keep a more reserved and conservative profile and move forward with working on resolutions rather than embarking on these somewhat tasteless campaigns to enhance their own political image? (Which in turn has quite the opposite effect, IMO…)

When someone tries to bait you into an argument, if you react and lash back out at them, then they have already won. It makes you look like a fool, or an ogre, and the more noise you make, the more foolish or ogre-ish you appear. If you remain focused and stay on the path, you have a better chance of coming out on top. Engage in constructive dialogue, but don’t engage in public tit-for-tat speeches about who should be doing what. That just serves to polarize the opposite parties rather than bring them together.

If it were me, I would have made one clear public statement regarding the advance warnings and left it at that. I think it is pretty obvious to any reasonable person that there are simply thousands of these kinds of reports that come along and while it is possible to prevent many incidents as many have been so already, it is quite probable that things can slip through the cracks of such a complex world. In hindsight a lot more could have been done, but we could say the same thing about Pearl Harbor, right? The bottom line is that going on the defensive sends a signal that you have something to hide.

If it were me, I would have invited Mr. Carter to come to the White House and provide a full report. My only public statement would have been “we are evaluating Mr. Carter’s report in detail and we thank him for his sincere patriotism and proactive sense of diplomacy”, and left it at that. Who cares if you really think he’s a naive and reckless idealist, at least you remain neutral and allow both parties to save face. Again, going on the defensive only serves to make you look worse than you may already, rather than seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the situation in a more diplomatic fasion.

But hey, that’s just me…

The First Amendment

This is the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am posting this here because someone just asked me what it was.

Amendment I (1791)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

What does that mean?

First of all, this is the seperation of church and state. The U.S. Government does not have the right to introduce, impose, encourage, enforce, discourage, or restrict any type of religion. It is of the idea that with such power in government comes a great responsibility to protect people of any religious background, as all too often this power has been abused by those in power that would disagree with a religion whose ideas conflicted with their own.

So my rant here is, if you are a citizen of the United States, be aware of this constitutional amendment and what it means, and resist the tendency towards complacency and acceptance when these basic rights are infringed upon. If you live in another country with similar rights, understand those rights and act upon them if necessary. If you live in a country without those rights, consider demanding it.

Long overdue…

Here is perhaps the longest-overdue headline I’ve ever seen: Taiwanese say it’s time to scrap island’s official name ‘Republic of China’ and replace it with ‘Taiwan’. This link is to Yahoo, but I’ve seen versions of it in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

All I can say is, “it’s about fuckin’ time!” Check the article out. Thousands of people marched in Taipei to demand international recognition and an end to the charade that has been perpetuated for the past 50+ years. For those of you that don’t know what this is all about, check out New Taiwan, Ihla Formosa right now.