October 28, 2007

Are Americans Inarticulate, or Are They Just Unable to Say What They Mean?

How can it be that in a time where people are most connected to those around them; when we grow up with the greatest library of human knowledge in world history; how can it be that we are as a whole so lacking in self-expression.

Queen Rania Al-Abdullah was recently interviewed on CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Now I don’t wish to enter into a discussion, in this particular post, about the ethics and politics of the conflict in the Middle East, but I do wish to address the differences in the way our leaders approach the world.

Listening to Her Majesty speak, is somewhat embarrassing. Only a few minutes earlier, having listened to President Bush speak, it was clear that the Queen’s skill at expressing herself and coherently delivering an argument, were in a league well above the American President’s. Our President does not command much respect with his lack-luster public speaking abilities. He is however, regrettably, representative of many Americans.

Far too many, Americans lack either the will or the education to accurately and precisely express themselves. Often, an argument ends with people resolving that there remains differences beyond reconcile. When a debate does erupt, often people fall back on their right to hold an opinion and dismiss another’s right to challenge it.

Even the Presidential debates lack any real meat. They are over moderated to the point where they are left as face to face presentations of prepared talking points. Where is the challenging of ideas? Where is the passion? A moderator’s role should not just be time keeper. A moderator's purpose is the presentation of issues and regulation of evasion and irrelevant podium thumping. Where is the discourse that made our country great?

Intellectual laziness is a cancer in American society. People do not put forth the effort required to either exercise their expression or expand their vocabulary. Experimenting in expression and vocabulary is important to the future of civilization as a whole. The ideas we have are irrelevant without the capacity to articulate them. These days, between Google, the world media, the thousands of movies, and countless sitcoms available to us, there is no excuse for being simple.

October 23, 2007

Coal Companies Trying To Buy Money From Congress

I was watching PBS news this morning, not by choice but by the graces of the Armed Forces Network. I saw a report that was simply awe inspiring. Apparently the Coal industry, which while being a very popular source of energy, is loosing its footing in an environmentally conscious country. The United States is the world’s leading producer of coal and coal energy plants are responsible for approximately a third of carbon emissions in the country today.

This did not surprise me as I use to play SimCity and know that a coal power plant, while cheap will have your sims complaining about pollution before you see your first skyscraper. What surprised me was that coal industry spent 30 million dollars last year petitioning Congressmen for funding of research into clean coal technology.

I agree that clean coal technology would be fantastic, and fantastic for motivating coal mining investors. I don’t agree that spending millions to persuade the government to spend millions is efficient. If the Coal industry can afford to spend 30 million dollars bribing er… informing Congressmen about the need for research. They can practice some of their desired efficiency and spend the millions on a cooperative effort to find a clean coal burning process instead.

The Coal industry is not alone in this style of operation. The Pharmaceutical industry does the same thing. Rather then spending their wealth on research and development as they claim to, they spend billions on direct-to-consumer marketing, and the bribery….er “professional development” of doctors and Congressmen. Pharmaceutical companies are extremely important to our country and our economy, but they need spend their money to make more valuable drugs not to make their drugs more valuable.

(The above facts about the coal industry are the taken word of PBS)

Shine Forth

October 22, 2007

John McCain Exposes Himself

Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain revealed more about himself then he would have like to in a debate on 21 OCT. His “big laugh” of the night was the result of a mocking joke about the worthlessness of Woodstock. Now I wasn’t alive for Woodstock and admittedly, the gentleman from Arizona was “tied up” as a POW at the time. Neither condition, however, excuses either of us from admitting what Woodstock represented in the evolution of our country.

Those present at Woodstock can speak for what it meant at the time, but today it is emblematic of the power of the people. The draw created by word of mouth at garage and attic meetings was literally phenomenal. The subject of the Senator’s comment was a indictment of Sen. Hilary Clinton recent vote for a million dollar museum dedicated to the iconic concert. My time in Iraq has shown me a lot more worthless things for a million dollars to be spent on, however this is wide of the point.

Senator McCain’s comment mocking Woodstock show his ignorance of the power of people. It is clear from his views on Iraq and Iran; that there is only one type of power that he understands. He seems unconsciously pulled toward military might. In the 60’s and 70’s a phenomenon began that endures. The youth of our country are, at their best, dedicated to peaceful solutions based on empathy and compassion for our fellow man. Those who hold such ideals as the fancies of dreamers and hippies are not fit for the Senate, much less the Presidency.

Shine Forth the Light

October 21, 2007

The Sound Byte Media

When I was young I remember hearing people ask, “Did you see the news last night?”. I am fortunate to remember, barely, a time before cable news. With war so common in the last 50 years the 24 hour news networks provide content to the most influential in society. The evidence of this is in the commercials. Notice that CNN is broadcasted with luxury cars, designer drugs and financial firms as their advertisers.

Coming with the age of the 24 hour news channel is the age of the internet. The fore-mentioned question has been replaced with “Did you hear about (some specific story)”. The internet has made people more and more aware of the world around them. It has also necessitated a new type of filtering. Citizens of the digital world are even more required to submit everything they hear to their own internal sense of Truth. Our politicians, however, are quite far behind in this process. Politicians still expect people to believe what they are told at face value. Unfortunately, this style of talking to the public still works for a majority of Americans.

An example of this is clear in President Bush’s treatment of President Ahmadinejad. When the Iranian president spoke to Columbia University, he said many things. The television media concentrated on very few. Among them was his assertion that the nation of Israel should be “wiped off the map”. If one were to listen to the address at Columbia, they would find that he was not talking about physical destruction. He meant quite literally political destruction. Literally interpreted “wiped off the map” refers to the changing of the political boundaries on a map. He believes that the west was unjust in their forcefully forming, and funding of Israel after World War II. He stated that the Palestinians have been put in an untenable situation because the west, primarily England and the U.S., have armed the Israelis, giving them an unfair political and military advantage. Whether or not you agree with him, we must admit a fair point for debate when we see it. I was most disturbed to hear my President interpret his comments so as to hint that he said “If we had the ability we would Nuke Israel.”

Most people can tell you only a few things about the President of Iran. Not many can even pronounce his name. You will hear that he denied the holocaust. You will hear that he executes homosexuals as well as women who speak there mind. You will hear that he wants to destroy Israel. Whether or not any one of these things is true, it is quite dangerous to believe them blindly without any tangible evidence. It is the same as believing that President Bush invaded Iraq to steal all the oil. The world is not as simple as our sound byte media would have you believe.

Sen. John Kerry lost an election because the Republicans were able to convince millions that he was a flip-flopper. They even went so far as to bring ninety-nine cent sandals to the national convention and wave them in the air. Honestly, I thought it was pretty lame and simple minded, the stunt embarrassed me as a human. Seriously though, isn’t the ability to dynamically react to complex situations desirable in the leader of the free world? Should not the Commander of the worlds most awesome military power be capable of changing his mind based on information contrary to his original premise?

If our great country is to succeed in the new millennium, we must have a higher reverence for the Truth even if means not fully understanding a situation. We must be prepared to look at a situation, and consider whether we have simplified too much to feel comfortable with it.

Shine Forth

Baghdad Soldiers Debate Abortion

Recently I returned from a trip to Baghdad. While there I learned the true potential for debate and discourse in small secluded groups of people from all over our country. I only hope that Congress will emulate the intellectual forum I experienced while visiting Soldiers in a modest bunker in Camp Victory, Iraq.

While with them I started one such debate, er.. discourse when I brought up Congressman, Dr. Ron Paul and his candidacy for President. For liberals his position of non-interference in the rest of the world, and decreased federal interference in the affairs of state, can seem tempting. In fact I’m not totally sure that I disagree with him. There is one issue, however, that is sure to get national attention among liberals if he gets the Republican nod. Dr. Ron Paul is Pro-Life.

It was on this point that I entered a debate with half a dozen Soldiers in a modest bunker in Bagdad. Dr. Paul wants to legislate the beginning of human life at conception. I agree that a law has to be passed that specifically outlines when the protection of the 14th Amendment (that those born or naturalized in the United States are legally citizens) takes effect. I don’t agree that it should be at conception. It allows no latitude for the many situations in which Pro-Choice advocates have legitimate points.

Dr. Paul’s position is not a religious one. He is a physician that has delivered over 4,000 children. He has said that a civilization that holds itself as the beacon of freedom and justice must protect the innocent above all. Coming from him I see it as an idealist statement worthy of a champion.

I therefore present the outcome of the Baghdad debate: Congress should pass a law declaring the beginning of life as the first detectable heartbeat. This allows the untimely or assaulted woman a small amount of time to make a big decision. It also maintains the Christian ideal of the sanctity of life. Christians believe that life is ‘breathed’ into mankind by God. The mystical beginning of the heartbeat seems the most apparent physical manifestation of the biblical phenomenon. Scientifically, the heartbeat is also the means by which doctors tell if someone is living or dead. While six weeks (the coming of the heartbeat) seems like a small window for a life decision, such a policy will be strict enough to encourage a more responsible practice of sexuality, and lenient enough to allow the expanse of choice the American People demand.

The most important element of this issue, is that it be resolved. Too long has this politically polarizing issue been poisoning our government. Issues like abortion, homosexual marriage, and stem cells are viral afflictions in political process. They are so harmful because they eliminate moderate candidates from the ballot. As a result, our extreme and uncompromising policies on issues like abortion, are made by the same uncompromising people that decide our foreign, financial and domestic policies. It is time to put these issues to bed, so that America can emerge as shining Light of Freedom and Justice we are destined to be.

Shine forth the Light