Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Will we have our dream ticket?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

What can I say?  It’s been a wild and crazy ride.

Never before in modern history has politics been so…well…interesting. It’s the kind of stuff that cable networks make movies about.  And never before has a presidential primary campaign hit all 50 states in the union and all the outlying territories.  At least on the Democratic side, it has generated record levels of participation.

And when all is said and done, it appears we finally have a Democratic nominee in Barack Obama. 

I’m happy about it, with Obama being a hometown boy and a graduate of the same school as myself. Of course, there’s more to it than that…shared ideas and all that.  But if the situation had been reversed, though, I would still support Hillary in November as well.  I like both candidates; I just liked Obama better.  It’s too bad that one candidate had to lose.

I alluded earlier to the idea of a dream ticket…the two top contenders also being one-two on the ticket. Hillary is saying that she’s open to the #2 spot. Obama may be open to give it to her.

For the party’s sake, I hope he does.

Because what’s really concerning me is the rhetoric I’m seeing on the comment boards on the major news sites, most of which fall in one of these categories:

  • If Obama wins the nomination, I’m voting for McCain.
  • If Obama makes Hillary his running mate, I’m voting for McCain.
  • If Obama doesn’t make Hillary his running mate, I’m voting for McCain.

And when I read those comments and feel the anger behind them, I think to myself: They can’t possibly be serious.  I’d like to believe that it’s just post-primary sour grapes and that come the convention and in November they’ll all do whatever it takes to put a Democrat in the White House.

I have trouble wrapping my mind around the idea that a significant portion of Clinton supporters would rather, in effect, elect George W. Bush to a third term; continue a war that, while improving marginally, still has no end in sight; and continue economic policies that are putting us deeper and deeper in the budgetary hole, than have a Democrat other than Hillary Clinton in the White House.

Especially since, on the issues, they’re pretty much in the same place.

I can probably think of no other person who would be better for the VP job than Hillary Clinton. And had she won, I could probably think of no better person to be her running mate than Obama.

One main thing that a candidate looks for in a running mate is balance; the ability to reach a constituency that he or she would be unable to reach by themselves. Looking at the primary voting pattern, something is clear.  Clinton won the white blue collar vote.  Obama dominated African-Americans and the professionals and intelligentsia. The strength of one illustrates the weakness of the other.

Simply put: They need each other. Like peanut butter and chocolate.

I’m hoping that on the final night of the Democratic Convention, I’ll see Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at the podium, hands clasped in a victorious stance. If that happens, I think the momentum that the Democrats worked up over the past five months just might carry over into November. At least, I hope so.

Campaigning for a song?

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

How one looks to the public is everything in politics, but that doesn’t mean that sound doesn’t play an important part either.  I remember watching the Democratic National Convention in 1992, witnessing Bill Clinton accept the nomination to the strains of “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)” by Fleetwood Mac.

Now fast forward to 2007, as former First Lady and current Senator Hillary Clinton seeks to reclaim the White House.  Hillary and Bill meet in a diner in a scene supposedly reminiscent of The Sopranos. I never saw The Sopranos so a lot of the humor was lost on me. Anyway, the discussion then turns to the song that she decided to symbolize her campaign. She drops the coin in the jukebox…

Cut to a URL that tries to get you to contribute to Clinton’s campaign before revealing the answer, which is…

Well, we’ll cut to the chase (the article above did).  It’s “You and I” by Celine Dion.  Of course, some question why an American presidential campaign’s theme song is being sung by a French-Canadian singer. (I personally see nothing wrong with it.) 

So, with that in mind, should Barack Obama decide to fight back with a song of his own, what should it be?

Musings on Virginia Tech #2: The Need to be Understood

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

It’s a fundamental human need…the need to be understood. If this need is not perceived to be met, one will go to any length to achieve it. Even going so far as to send one’s manifesto to NBC, before going on a killing spree.

It appears Cho had some challenges in that department, because it came out that he had long-standing speech difficulties, which troubled his parents even from a young age and apparently was fodder for his classmates’ unkind remarks.
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Some Musings on the Tragedy at Virginia Tech

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Three thousand miles away from the action, I feel for the loss of over thirty young adults on the Virginia Tech campus. It’s a national tragedy, and so it should be.

This inquiring mind, though, also wants to know about what drove one of the those young adults to turn on his contemporaries.

I don’t know what demon would drive Cho Seung-Hui, an intelligent English major, less than a month away from the rest of his life, to literally throw his life away in a flurry of gunpowder and bullets aimed at others.

I’d like to know what was going through his mind as he wrote two plays that just drip with vitriol. True, Shakespeare it’s not, although “Richard McBeef” does have a key plot point from Hamlet in it (character’s father is killed by step-father, whom the character hates with a vengeance). Although, as Derek Pegritz points out, taken out of context they may not have that effect, taken in the context of what happened (Stephen King, as macabre as his novels are, is otherwise a well-adjusted person), it doesn’t seem an unreasonable conclusion. And, it’s the ONLY window we have into this guy’s thought processes.

The fact is that I want to know what went through this guy’s mind. Murders like this don’t just happen out of the clear blue sky. They take months, even years, to develop. But something pushed this kid off the deep end.

We here in Hawaii still remember the Xerox murders, where a disgruntled employee of Xerox took the lives of his immediate boss and six co-workers. It came out afterward that Byran Uyesugi, the gunman who is now serving a life sentence, was quiet and reticent on the outside, and raised goldfish and koi. But deep underneath was a seething anger that exploded that day in 1999.

And not too long ago was not a mass murder, but a Texas man who kidnapped and killed a ten-year-old girl with apparent intent to EAT her. I blogged about it here. The disturbing thing here was that he was a documented mental illness case, and blogged about his struggles and his fantasies that were getting more and more weird.

We do know that Cho was a loner, and those who knew him did not know him well. A square peg trying to fit into a world of round holes. I can only imagine what kind of anger he had in him, which built up until, with no other outlet, it exploded out the muzzle of a Glock 9mm.

Sometimes the shyest, most reticent people can be the most dangerous people of all. And, in my view, often these are the people whom society needs to help the most.

Hit-And-Runners: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Hat tip to Adrian (doc1456 on HawaiiThreads.com) for turning me on to this one.

From the Great White North comes this tale of quick reflexes. Dave Watling, a resident of Calgary, pulled to the right lane as he stopped at an intersection. That was Watling’s first good move, because seconds later a silver Acura hurtled by in the left lane and smashed into a Mercedes and a taxicab.

Watling’s second good move came as he saw the Acura’s reverse lights come on, as it became clear that the driver intended to flee. Asking his wife for his new digital SLR, he snapped pictures bam-bam-bam-bam-bam, catching the culprit in the act and not only getting the car’s license number, but also the driver’s face as well.

B-U-S, T-E-D, busted royally.

And then, Dave decides to post these pics to an auto enthusiasts’ site. The site’s traffic goes through the roof, over 100,000 hits in a day’s time.

The story even made the front pages of both of Calgary’s newspapers.

The kid apparently turned himself in and is now facing reckless driving and hit-and-run charges. No doubt he will get what he deserves from Canada’s criminal justice system. But even that will pale compared to his online reputation, which is probably lower than mud right about now.

Hit-and-runners, be afraid. Be very afraid. Be warned. You may suffer the same fate.

And I think I just might carry my camcorder in my car. Who knows…

Crossing the Divide #2: Alleviating the Need for Abortion?

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

I think it was Bill Clinton who said that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” And Mrs. Clinton goes even further (quoted by William Saletan in Slate, emphasis his):

Abortion is “a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women,” said Clinton. Then she went further: “There is no reason why government cannot do more to educate and inform and provide assistance so that the choice guaranteed under our constitution either does not ever have to be exercised or only in very rare circumstances.”

Does not ever have to be exercised. I searched Google and Nexis for parts of that sentence tonight and got no hits. Is the press corps asleep? Hillary Clinton just endorsed a goal I’ve never heard a pro-choice leader endorse. Not safe, legal, and rare. Safe, legal, and never.

Once you embrace that truth—that the ideal number of abortions is zero—voters open their ears. … Once we agree that the goal is zero, we can stop asking which party yaps more about fighting abortion and start asking which party gets results.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the answer to the abortion question may lie not in strangling the supply, but in drying up the demand. An elective abortion, by definition, terminates an unwanted pregnancy. It stands to reason that if you reduce the unwanted pregnancies, the abortion problem goes away too.

As reported by Julie Rovner on NPR’s Morning Edition (listen), some moderate members of Congress have put forth compromise bills. For instance, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) has introduced a bill calling for more money for pregnancy prevention and incentives for carrying babies to term. However, their bills have been met with skepticism from both the far left and far right.

It’s been 34 years since Roe v. Wade, and the country has been divided ever since. It’s really hard to find any sort of common ground on abortion, because you’ll either be accused of being anti-freedom or a supporter of murder. Perhaps one day rhetoric will be set aside in favor of results, and one day abortion will be unheard of. I’m not holding my breath, though.

Crossing The Divide #1: Environment and Evangelicals

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

If you take a look at my blogroll (click the link to your right), you’ll notice I identify myself as a political moderate, although I do lean left and vote Democratic (with a few exceptions). It’s my firm belief that the real decisions in this country are made not by the strict partisans, but by the moderates, those on both sides of the aisle who are willing to buck their party on occasion and work with those on the other side to get things done.

In the past four years, it’s been a one-party show, with the Republicans being the haves and the Democrats being the have-nots. Now that Democrats now control both houses of Congress while the Republicans still control the house on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, we now have a golden opportunity to reach common ground.

National Public Radio, recognizing this, has started a weeklong series known as Crossing the Divide:”

So what is bipartisanship? Majorities always give it lip service because they know they should, and because they know they need some of it to succeed. Minorities always ask for it because it’s their only access to a share of power.

In one sense, true or pure bipartisanship is impossible in a political system almost entirely organized around partisanship — the rivalry of major parties. It is akin to asking for agreement between two sets of lawyers hired to be adversaries. Arguing is what they do, and they are paid to insist on their viewpoint.

But in another sense, the American political system is about satisfying the majority without making life too onerous for the minority. We expect all sides in any controversy to state their principles and serve their interests, but we also ask them to respect the need for resolution in the end. The more important the issue, the more important it is to reach that resolution.

Everyone who enters the public arena soon learns that the struggle is not the end product. The struggle is a means. In the end, all parties have to find some means of give and take. They have to cross the space that divides them.

One of the first reports was about a Harvard biochemist and a leading evangelical Christian leader who have joined forces to fight global warming:

Richard Cizik is the vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He believes God made the world in matter of days. Eric Chivian is a biochemist from Harvard University who maintains that man evolved from matter over billions of years. …

Unlikely allies? Perhaps. But that’s exactly what they’ve become in their mutual quest to fight global warming. The two men have launched what they’re calling a dialog between leading figures in science and religion, specifically evangelical Christianity. They’re not pushing any specific legislation, but they’re trying to raise the public profile of environmental issues.

As a moderate-liberal church-going Christian who goes to an evangelical church, I’ve always felt a cognitive dissonance between the biblical assertion that the earth is God’s creation, and the fact that the Christian right has been largely dismissive of the environmental agenda, lumping it in the same category as abortion and gay marriage. Indeed, Civik and Chivian’s alliance has not found universal acceptance:

But not everyone is on board. Other leading evangelicals have heavily criticized Cizik, saying that he is diluting the Christian agenda with his environmental crusade.

Nevertheless, it’s encouraging that evangelicals are finally coming around to the idea that we need to fight to protect the planet’s future. After all, didn’t God create Adam and Eve to be stewards of His creation?

Saddam Is Dead: What Next?

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Well, the sound heard ’round the world this evening was the sound of Saddam Hussein’s neck breaking, as he was hanged in Baghdad.

One thing you can say about the Iraqis. They don’t believe in letting their death row prisoners grow old in prison before executing them. 56 days from sentence to execution. In the U.S. you’re lucky if you execute a prisoner within 56 months.

Not that I really think that capital punishment solves anything. Nor do I feel that war solves anything either, as you may know.

Quoted AP, emphasis mine: President Bush said that Saddam’s execution marks the “end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops” and cautioned that his death will not halt the violence in Iraq.

Not that our commander-in-chief has ever been a realist, but I’m glad he realized that. Because I have this distinct feeling that, if Iraq isn’t in civil war now, it will be. Starting today.

Gerald Ford: The Medicine Our Country Needed, When We Needed It Most

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

When you’re sick, you take medicine. You pop the pill, and the medicine does its work, and just as quickly it gets dissolved, leaving behind, hopefully, a you that feels better.

It was 1974 and the nation was sick and tired of hearing about Richard Nixon this and Watergate that. Enter Gerald Ford, who probably would have been happy to be Speaker of the House in 1973, but found himself in the position of having to play doctor to a sick country.

Basically, he was the President who cleaned up after two of the nation’s worst messes in recent years – Watergate and Vietnam, both of which came to closure under his watch.

The first prescription that Dr. Ford wrote was strong medicine…pardoning Tricky Dicky for the crimes against the nation he may have committed. And the second prescription he wrote was one that was a long time in coming…the final withdrawal from Saigon that brought the Vietnam War to an end. The medicine he prescribed had side effects and a backlash, which probably cost him the 1976 election.

But now history has looked favorably on Gerald Ford, and now when we think about his legacy, we think about what he did to help the country move on and get back on its feet again. Six out of ten Americans believe that pardoning Nixon, a move much criticized at the time, was, in the end, the right thing to do.

He was a caretaker President, to be sure, but take care he did. And like effective medicine, he left the presidency better than he found it.

If Only All Fire Calls Were Like This

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Was in the middle of getting ready to go to work this morning when I heard fire engine sirens—multiple ones, and smelled something like burnt toast. It didn’t take me long to realize that there was a fire in my neighborhood. I took a detour to Keolu Dr. and passed through a cloud of thick smoke.

As I was going over the Pali I noticed not one, but two fire supervisor cars heading toward Kailua, and as I passed through Nuuanu, another fire engine.

All that, just for one house fire?

Then I got to my parking lot and checked the Advertiser website on my mobile phone, and found out why. Turns out I live about a half-mile (as the crow flies) from the home of a well-known actress. Well, what WAS the home of a well-known actress.

Not that I really follow “Lost” anyway. Sorry, Evangeline Lilly.