Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Moving on In Iraq

I'd like to first admit that this idea is not mine, but I completely agree with it.

A few weeks ago, after the midterm elections were over, I was discussing the war in Iraq with someone, when they brought up their idea for how the war should be handled. They said that the best thing that the U.S. should do now, with the Democrats in control of the House and Senate, is to go up to the UN and ask for help. Bush should get up in front of the U.N. and openly admit that the motives for going to war in Iraq were totally false, and that we screwed up on this one, and ask for other nations to help. The person that I was talking with said that even when he proposed this to die hard conservatives, they couldn't find anything wrong with it.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad released a letter to the American people today urging the U.S. to get out of Iraq and use the funds for the war to fund the poor and needy in our country. He has a point. As a strong advocate of the space program, I frequently receive flak about how the space program uses so much money and that it could be spent on helping the poor and improving life on Earth.

The space program has a $16 billion a year budget. With that they send probes to Mars, launch satellites that we rely on for communication, launch space shuttle missions, and build the International Space Station. The space station, has, and will continue to provide advances in technology that will improve life on Earth.

The war in Iraq has cost the U.S. about $346.3 billion dollars since 2003. See this link for the running total. The war has successfully implanted a democracy in Iraq and overthrown Saddam Hussein. The unfortunate side effects are, that where Iraq was once a secure country, with the only hint of terrorism being Saddam Hussein's regime, there is now a power vacuum where terrorism has been increasing since the war started and in fact created a new front on terror that didn't exist under Saddam. The truth is that most of the problems that our troops face are the direct results of poor planning by our government.

The only way to solve the issues that we face in Iraq is to go before the UN and admit that we made mistakes when we invaded and now, for the sake of global safety, we need help. Just because we're the strongest nation on Earth doesn't mean we can't admit when something has gone wrong and ask for help. That's a lesson that I've learned, but apparently it's something that Bush has failed to learn himself.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Something's Fishy Here

I was just noticing here in the past day how the Secret Service seems to be having some issues. In Hawaii, three motorcycles in Bush's motorcade crashed and a White House staffer was beaten at a Waikiki nightclub. In Argentina, First Daughter Barbara Bush had her purse snatched, and the secret service agents "guarding her" didn't notice.

These events follow President Bush's visit to Southeast Asia, where leading up to his visit, this story appeared out of Indonesia. I don't usually subscribe to superstitious beliefs, at least not without thoroughly researching the topic first, but this perked my interest. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

For the Holidays

A thought occurred to me while I was coming home from church tonight. We are so fortunate here in America. America, as everyone is aware, is the richest nation in the World; in terms of material wealth. I've realized something, that some might not fully be aware of. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, how often do we even stop to pay regards to our neighbors?

Living in one of the 50 wealthiest counties in America, Johnson County Kansas, it seems like the entire concept of community has all but vanished. For those unfamiliar with the economic geography of JoCo, the farther west you go in the suburbs, the wealthier it gets. About 4 years ago this month, my family and I moved further west. The neighborhood we had lived in previously was close knit; everyone knew everyone else, and there was a sense of community that existed there that I've yet to find in our new neighborhood. When it comes right down to it, I can barely remember the names of our neighbors across the street. Everyone minds their own business, and nearly everyone seems eerily satisfied with it.

This country was founded on the bonds of community. The earliest settlers, lets say the Pilgrims, would not have survived had they not stuck together as a community. People look at the holiday season, and especially Thanksgiving, as a time to be thankful for what we have. Often, we think of our immediate family. What about our extended family? Our neighbors; our community. Despite the strong family and community values that most American's pride themselves on, it seems like for the latter, our material wealth and overactive lifestyles are getting in the way. So over the holidays, if you aren't already, go ahead with plans to spend time with family, but also take into account the community. Volunteer somewhere, help those in need, and just spend time with neighbors. Getting to know you're neighbor and spending more time celebrating with them (even if it's just sitting on the drive way to celebrate the coming of Friday) is a 365 day process. It can't just happen overnight.

That's just something that's been on my mind and is something I know I'll be thinking about over the holidays. I probably won't update for another week or so, because I'll be spending time with family and neighbors for the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What's Next For America

I may be one of the slowest bloggers to respond to the results of the election last Tuesday, but I was using that time to think about what I would say about it. And the truth is, I have very little to say. The Democrats won both the House and Senate back, a day later Rumsfeld resigned, and George "Dubya" is shifting his policies. America is changing; it's as simple as that. Wether it's for better or worse, has yet to be determined.

Today Elton John made the comments that religion should be banned and that this generation's youth isn't being proactive enough about world issues. Sure, the blogosphere has probably revolutionized how people get their ideas out there, but it is also because of the blogosphere that we don't see protests against the war in Iraq like we did back in the 60's and 70's over Vietnam. I'm not calling for the mass histeria that we saw during that era, I'm just calling for action.

This is my call to teenagers across America and the world to stand up for what they believe in through some, physical, non-technological means. Talk to people about what you believe in, start a club at school that supports that idea, JUST DO SOMETHING!! There's a range of political and cultural issues to take up, including, but not limited to:
the war in Iraq
the war in Afghanistan
the nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
the U.S. trade deficit with China
stem cell research
women's rights, men's rights, children's rights, gay's rights
the list goes on and on. The image of American's being ignorant and complacent is only supported by the fact that most of us don't know what those issues are that affect our world and those of us that do don't do anything about it. I'm just as guilty as anyone.
My call is to Stand Up! Do something! The world is changing wether you like it or not, and believe it or not, you affect the outcome.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Global Warming: Why Something Should Be Done About It

So there's this thing called global warming; a gradual warming of the Earth's atmosphere, which many believe is associated with human activities. It's a major political issue, and if humans are causing it, the United States is a leading contributor to the problem. There are many solutions; cutting back on carbon dioxide emissions, transition to alternative and renewable forms of energy, etc. But why should anything be done about global warming? It's happened in the past, why should it concern us now?

First of all, the 10,000 years of human history have all occurred in a relatively calm period, climatologically speaking. There have been some fluctuations, namely a minor cool down that lasted from about the 6th Century AD until the late 1800s. The Little Ice Age, as it is called, can largely be blamed for the famine and dreary climate that seemed to dominate the Dark Ages. It is perhaps by coincidence that the first years of the Little Ice Age were right near the fall of the Roman Empire, and that Western society didn't fully recover until it was over.

The climate, whether you like it or not, often times plays a significant role in shaping history. Humans, in their present form, have existed for 100,000 years, but why was it that it was only 10,000 years ago when the idea of a civilization caught on? Simple: for the 90,000 years before, humans were huddled in caves trying to keep warm, because they were in the middle of one of the longest, and strongest ice ages in Earth's history. My worry is that if an ice age can retard the growth and development of civilization, there is no reason to not believe that global warming could have similar effects.

Within the next century, if nothing is changed to combat global warming, the oceans could rise as much as 10 feet, putting nearly all the major cities in the world at risk, and extinguishing the ways of life for the thousands that live on islands. It is imperative that people recognize that the very existence of society is swinging in the balance when it comes to the connection between the climate and the political fallout that it can cause. My worry is this: it is a very real possibility that, within our lifetimes, society as we know it could collapse. I don't lose sleep thinking about this, but this is my point of view, and particularly since the release of some recent studies, we should use this knowledge to our benefit and look into the possibility of expediting the development of renewable and low emissions energy sources.