27 March 2007

Finally Iraq is Vietnam

I did not think Iraq would become another Vietnam. But with the micromanagement of the war by politicians in Washington D.C. and a media machine bent on spinning the war against the president they despise, they have finally achieved what they have wanted for the last four years.

I am utterly disgusted by the way the Washington D.C. is playing politics with the supplemental spending bill. First, the bill is loaded with so much excess spending that has nothing to do with the military. Peanut storage? NASA exploration capabilities? What are they thinking in Washington D.C.? Can they not pass a bill that only focuses on one thing? Second, a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq is an utter slap in the face to the troops, to the American people, and to the Iraqis. I did not agree with the war in Iraq, but I see now that we must do our utmost best to provide every opportunity for a stable Iraq. It is unbelievable that the people in Washington D.C. are so deluded to think that by pulling out the civil war will stop. We must provide security for the tensions to dissipate; otherwise there can be no hope in Iraq. My only hope is that the President vetoes this ridiculous and obviously politically partisan supplemental spending bill. Maybe then the idiots in Washington D.C. can actually put politics aside and just get it done without the wasteful pork and a timetable that is only suited to the politics of Capital Hill and not the streets of Iraq.

This bill is a potpourri of programs that have nothing to do with defense. Here is a “short” list of the completely unrelated items put into this bill:

  • Milk Income Loss Contract Program
  • Peanut Storage Costs
  • Losses due to Aphis Emergency Order
  • Architect of the Capital
  • Payment to Widows and Heirs of Deceased Members of Congress
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • National Park Service
  • Department of Interior
  • Minimum Wage Increase and Small Business Tax Relief
  • Educational and Cultural Programs
  • International Broadcasting Operations
  • USAID Child Survival and Health Programs Fund
  • International Disaster and Famine Assistance
  • Operating Expenses for USAID
  • NASA Exploration Capabilities
  • Bilateral Economic Assistance Economic Support Fund
  • Assistance for Eastern Europe and the Baltic States
  • International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement
  • Migration and Refuge Assistance
  • Hurricane Disaster Relief and Recovery
  • NOAA Administration operations, research, and facilities

23 March 2007

Have you ever looked at a dragonfly?

Have you ever looked at a dragonfly? How unique its shape is. How colorful it can be. How small it is on your knee. How delicate its wings are.

Have you ever watched a hummingbird fly to one plant after another, its wings beating so fast it is just a blur to the human eye?

Have you ever wondered about the stars? How many there are. How beautiful an untainted night sky is. Have you ever stared at the night sky on a breezy, warm summer night holding someone you love and just thought that it could not possibly get any better than this.

Have you have ever felt cold sand around your toes? That gritty yet soothing and squishy feeling. The salt water lapping against your ankles. Breathing the warm salty air. The sun sinking into the ocean sending hues of blues, greens, pinks, and purples bouncing off clouds and water and sky.

Have you ever stopped at the thought of an old memory that brings a smile to your face? Have you ever reveled in that memory and found yourself brushing your lips with your fingers or stroking your cheek?

Have you ever listened to a song that lifted your soul with joy? You could feel the piano or cello or guitar or clarinet flowing through you and making you rise and fall with the tempo or crescendo or decrescendo.

Do you ever stop and wonder about life? How amazing it is that we exist and breathe and create and even destroy. The intricacies of life and the mysterious web that weaves through our lives connecting seemingly distant and uncommon people never ceases to amaze me.

I have met extraordinary people in my life. These wonderful people gather others around them like a shepard. To protect them, to nurture them, to help them grow. Some of these people become shepards themselves, others are content to remain in the flock and work within to make the flock stronger. Whenever I meet people like this I imagine I can see their aura. They just appear to be larger than life. I am thankful that they exist. They show me hope.

As long as there are those of us that have hope that is stronger than despair there is a chance for the human race. Hope for the best and nurture those around you to be their best.


Photo by KCThinker, flower in the Black Forest, Germany

19 March 2007

Open Letter to Senator Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama:

I am amazed at the masses mobilizing behind you for a run in 2008. I am trying to figure out what exactly you stand for. Your website is filled with nuance and vagueness. You speak of Homeland Security on your website and the need to protect chemical plants and drinking water supplies, yet I find no mention of border security. How can you protect the homeland without addressing our porous borders? I am looking for a candidate with real solutions to the problems that vex our nation. I have not found any on your website. You fail to address the nearly $9 trillion debt. It seems that you do not have a plan to address the trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities in Medicare and Social Security. Your suggestions for improving our educational system do not even begin to address its basic shortfalls. You talk a good talk, but where are the real, implementable ideas? A story about how you grew up and a pretty speech about coming together does not provide me with your stances on critical policy issues that could either impoverish my children and grandchildren or set the course straight. Will you be able to make the tough decisions that many of your colleagues on Capital Hill refuse to make or even think about for fear of their political careers?

12 March 2007

We the People or We the Lobbyists or We the Professional Politician?

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the people, my ass. This country is being run by self-serving bull shit artists who pimp themselves to every Tom, Dick, and Harry lobby group with some cash to stuff in their g-strings. Most of these politicians fall somewhere between a lawyer and a prostitute - pretty far down the evolutionary ladder.

Every election cycle billions of dollars are spent. For what? Opponents of campaign finance reform declare that their freedom of speech is violated by enforcing spending restrictions. Seems to me candidates get a good amount of free air time on various news and talk shows (how much do you think that bit Obama had on Oprah was worth?). They get to debate other candidates on free air time. They are oft-quoted in any number of newspapers, magazines and internet news sites. The only thing I see the money being spent on are slick PR spin people and attack ads that provide NO knowledge of a candidates ideas or their solutions to problems. And real, substantial, implementable ideas and solutions are what we crave (well, at least I do). Any moron can put together an attack ad or a feel-good ad presenting the candidate as a saint. It still will not tell me how he or she will accomplish anything of substance if we elect them.

How do you get an elected official to willingly cut off the gravy train? McCain-Feingold is an absolute joke. Any meaningful campaign finance reform is watered down to the point of being ineffective. We need serious campaign-finance reform coupled with term limits for our representatives and senators. We need to limit spending on campaigns to only those dollars from the federal government. No option of using matching donations or private donor money – that way no candidate is beholden to a special interest other than the American people as a whole. I would recommend six terms for representatives and two terms for senators. We need to get away from the professional politician mentality that has permeated Congress. The longer they are in Congress, the longer they lose touch with reality.

I would recommend an overhaul of the primary and caucus system. The whole election cycle from the first primary to the November election should be a maximum of 6 months. No campaigning for a November election before January 1 of the same year. The primaries and caucuses would have 4 to 5 months to finish and then 1 to 2 months for the parties' candidates to campaign before the November election. Enough of this ridiculous state maneuvering to become the first state to hold a primary. If a candidate cannot get their message across in 6 months then their message is not very good to begin with. How much does a candidate's message really change over the course of 6 months anyway, let alone two years? Don’t we have access to all their position papers through the internet or their campaign offices?

I suppose I am an idealist when I think how much more we can do to alleviate the suffering of people here and abroad with those billions of dollars being spent by a bunch of blowhards in the name of free speech. I think we are heading down a dangerous road when someone reports that the entry fee for the 2008 presidential race is $100 million. It is a message that should give us pause and it is also NOT a message we should be broadcasting to the world as an example of "democracy".
Photo by KCThinker, Batey 50, La Romana, Dominican Republic

10 March 2007

Where are our leaders?

Is it sad that I wish for some incredible event to make us see that our differences are imagined? Yes, we have differences of race, class, religion, and gender. But why can we not put those behind us and look forward, use our potential, and harness our energy to do good works instead of destructive ones. When I walk through an international airport I witness first hand the slow mixture of the societies of the world. We have thousands of years of history at our disposal. Yet, we seem to make the same mistakes over and over and over. We learn nothing from those who came before us.

Being a parent I often think what this world will be like for my children. Will they have the same opportunities that my wife and I have had? Will they know a world at war with itself or will they know a world at peace? Will they know a world barely surviving with rampant famine and disease or a world that has figured out how to supply the needs of an ever growing population?
I think part of the pessimism that people feel is that there are so few real leaders out there. There are not enough people that will stand up and shout “Enough!” The few people willing to go against the grain are either marginalized because they are not politically or media savvy or they quietly go about their work, making a difference, but only reaching and inspiring a few people at a time (I realize that even a small number of people can make a difference, but I fear that the situation is slowly spiraling out of control and real leadership on a large scale is needed immediately).

Many of our “leaders” are in my opinion not leading; rather they are leaches. They suck the goodness out of everything for their own gain whether that is monetary, political, or both. This world has become one that rewards greed and selfishness. The concept of sacrifice does not go beyond the cross that Jesus bore. It seems most people find excuses for not doing their share. The concept of selflessness is outdated. Real leaders are not nurtured in such an environment; only greedy CEOs and unscrupulous politicians are.

I am disappointed in our government’s inability to properly lead as the world’s only willing “superpower”. The United States seems willing to do what is in its own best interest. The United States has meddled in a number of countries only to fail miserably because it refuses to listen and learn. The United States fails to recognize its lack of true leadership. The United States is divided because of our “leaders” inability to find common ground and realize that is not about the “me”, it is about the “we”.

I am disappointed in the United Nations and its inability to lead. This august organization has the potential to help bring about the societal change needed to address the concerns of 21st century; however, they care more for crafting resolutions and being word smiths than a body that actually does what it says it will do. A resolution is only works if you intend to go through with it. The United Nations has been absent in the Balkans, Rwanda, and now in the Sudan. There is no will to put the hammer down on Iran and North Korea. Words and more words is the only thing the United Nations is good for. We learned nothing from the Nazi concentration camps and the end game of fascists. Not much leadership is present in that organization when it counts.

You can say what you will but I do not see a true leader in any of our elected officials at the national level. I cannot say I really see one person in particular willing to make the hard decisions and explain to the American people or even the world why those hard decisions need to be made. Every decision and every sound bite is crafted for political purposes.

People from all walks of life are clamoring for real leadership. Are we coming up on a new revolution? Is there a ground swell forming of people willing and ready to shout “Enough!”? I know I am ready. I am tired of the “me first” attitude. I am tired of our attitude towards poverty and crime (the two go hand in hand). I am tired of our society's cavalier attitude towards morality. I am tired of the Hollywood elite telling me what to think (they are actors - what makes their opinion more valid than mine?). I am tired of the posturing. I am tired of useless rhetoric. I am tired of the politicians. I am tired of the leaches running our countries. I know have had ENOUGH!

It is every generation’s responsibility to leave the world a little better for the next. The generation with the power today is definitely asleep at the wheel and heading towards a cliff. Please take a moment and thank them for their ignorance.
Photo by KCThinker, Dominican Republic, Batey 50