Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Policies of War

What do we do when it is an election year and there is a war being waged on foreign soil? I'm a firm believer that it is a bad deal to have a change of power (in the U.S.) while our soldiers are on the ground in Iraq. I'd almost vote for Bush just because of this theory...almost.

If we look back at Vietnam, I'm doing this just for an example, I too am tired of the constant comparison of Iraq and Vietnam, two completely different wars. It all began with Kennedy who sent the first advisors to Vietnam, he's just as much to blame as the next guy, but when he was shot, the change of power wasn't nearly as drastic. Johnson couldn't think for himself let alone change an entire foreign policy. The trouble came in the change of power between Nixon and Johnson. (Neither were entirely right in their foreign policy.)

Two presidents, two completely different perspectives, one foreign policy that has the power to change the world. Never is it a good idea to swap leaders in a time of war. When Johnson handed off the responsibilities to his successor, his policy died and was rarely evident in that of the Nixon administration. Will this happen if Kerry were to take power in January?

My theory itself is based on the welfare and safety of our troops abroad, not just in Iraq. They have been training since 9/11 for this moment, how will a change in the executive branch directly hit them? No matter who is running against an incumbent president, this theory stands...1968 or 2004. Think about it before you cast your vote.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Forgotten War

Obviously my lighter posts on the entertainment world aren't my specialty (or I'm assuming by the lack of comment that they aren't), though I'd love to talk about Bob Dylan for a post or two...
Back to the Basics...

If anyone has picked up the Newsweek for last week, you'd find an interesting article by Anna Quidlen about "The War We Haven't Won." Iraq may have the limelight, for the moment, but what has happened to the so-called 'War on Poverty'? It seems to have been overpowered by more pressing matters, WMD, and party politics. Not surprisingly. What do you do with a war that will never end?

Quidlen says:
"The problem with declaring war, of course, is that sooner or later people believe the conflict will end and peace will break out."

When will the War on Poverty ever end? Or will it. The article is based on the policies of Johnson's administration and the lack of support following these programs over the years. I'm not saying that Johnson was on top of it when he was in office, nor were they the best instituted programs, but shouldn't we nationally support programs like Head Start, Habitat for Humanity, and the like?

This is the third year that the number of people living below the poverty line in the United States has decreased, shouldn't we be looking into this? I realize that it was an overreaching effort on Johnson's part to declare "unconditional war on poverty in America," but I'm certain the issue still stands...what do we do about poverty in America?

We could have skipped over the Johnson administration totally, historically speaking, and continued on triumphantly, but we can't skip over his message...What has happened to the war on poverty?

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Political Game Update

As my good friend Nick Speth struggles to leave the topic of CBS and the so called "Rathergate" ordeal, I'm here struggling yet again to avoid the topic of education. There is something about English that does this to me, I come out of that classroom everyday feeling as if through education my potential could be endless. It is a combination of the instructor and my realization that I don't have to meet everyone's expectations. Last week was a humdinger, but this week is different. I woke up this morning with a new outlook, as weird as that sounds, and I'm dealing pretty well with the fact that I'm not going to be what I always thought I would be. Yesterday I was reading through my high school English portfolio and I read my application essay to Kent State...I couldn't believe how determined I was to not only be there, but be in the special education program. People change and I've changed. Change is good.

So as far as this blog goes...You knew I'd get around to my point eventually, I have a few ideas for upcoming posts and will hopefully someday get around to the Kennedy assassination. Of course from now until November 2nd I'll be forced to play party lines and tell you my liberal view point on the election, but I promise to write other worthwhile posts. Occasionally there have to be a few of those charged Cat Stevans-type posts!

When I get out of my system this English bug that has me captivated, it will all come back to politics... eventually!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Ray Charles and The Week That Changed My Life

Rarely do I give reasoning for the perspective in which each post is written. Of the 39 posts I've written, only a few have been highly personal... "Methods of Higher Education" is the only one that comes to my mind immediately. Personal- as in it pertains to me on an individual level. Though they all have hit me somehow, (why else would I rant about Cat Stevens?) I'm a rather closed off individual when it comes down to it.

Not today. This week I have been having quite the battle with myself. At ISU to enter the teacher's education program or the special education program you have to take an entrance exam. I would have been ready in January to take that exam. You have to apply to take the exam and this would have been the week for me to do so, but I've been debating whether or not that is what I really want to do. I've always said I would do special ed, that I'd change the world somehow with my dedication to those kids, this week I changed my mind. I've been somehow connected to the special ed population my entire life, from my earliest memories to my current place of employment. I'm ready for a change.

The battle itself hasn't been in deciding not to go the special ed route, because I've been making that decision for the last several months, from the time I went to Texas until now, but the battle has been in coming to the realization that this is my future and maybe that I'm losing my connection with home. I'm expected by certain people to do certain things. Everyone seems to have some sort of plan or dream for me. That is the battle. What is my dream for me?

I've come a long way in my life to be where I am right now. There was a time not so long ago that education maybe didn't matter to me the way it does now. I wasn't mature enough to realize that I've been given great opportunities and that the logical answer to that is to make the best of them. I now understand what an opportunity education is.

Not intending to go into this, I just want to say a couple things that might help other students that are in my position. 1.) Education isn't the piece of paper you receive when you leave an institution, education is the understanding you find within yourself of how you fit into the bigger picture and what you have that will benefit the people you will meet down the road. 2.) What we love is who we are, not necessarily what we should do for the rest of our lives.

Sometimes we aren't intended to do what everyone else sees fit for us, maybe we aren't intended to do what are parents have done, sometimes what they've done teaches us what we don't want to do...All that matters is that we choose the path that will make us the happiest.

That's what I've learned this week. I hope maybe it helps someone else who struggles daily with the expectations of the world around them. If I've learned anything in my life it is that we each have a talent, it's my Ray Charles philosophy, and that talent is unique to only us and can potentially change and influence an entire society. Our job is to find it, work hard at it, and love every minute of it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

And a "Wild World" It Is

Now, I am not about to profess that I know anything about the "no-fly list," or the "watchlist" as I've also heard it called, I'm sure it has something to do with John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act, but Cat Stevens...GIVE ME A BREAK!

So it was reported in the USAToday that Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens, one of the greatest songwriters of the late 60s, early 70s) was aboard United Airlines Flight 919 yesterday when the plane was grounded and Yusuf Islam was taken into custody for interviewing. The USAToday even says that "officials had no details about why the peace activist might be considered a risk to the United States." It seems to me a peace activist, note the word PEACE, wouldn't be interested in any terrorist activity while aboard that airplane.

Yusuf Islam was denied admission to the United States and sent back to London. A man who is known for his devotion to the ideal of peace is being compared to Osama Bin Laden today because?!!?!??!?! He belongs to the Nation of Islam!! That's the most far reaching accusation I've heard all week...and I've been reading conspiracy theories for two days!

I'd like to know what exactly the Homeland Security Department has against this man. I don't know how a man who once wrote, "Trouble, Oh trouble can't you see. You're eating my heart away And there's nothing much left of me," and "you know I've seen a lot of what the world can do and it's breakin' my heart in two," could be a terrorist, I'm going to need some hard facts to change my mind on this one!

(*Lyrics taken from Stevens' albums "Tea For the Tillerman" and "Mona Bone Jakon")

Monday, September 20, 2004

Here We Go Again

My good friend Nick Speth brought to my attention Mr. Zell Miller, yet again I was aggrivated, but now have found something I'd like to comment on. An article/editorial Miller wrote concerning the backlash (which I admit to be a part of) following his speech at the RNC has lead me to the following conclusions:

First of all, I apologize for any implication I may have presented regarding Miller and racism. I now understand the roots of Miller's southern zeal and realize they are not fueled by any form of racism. He is a concerned man.

Secondly...the hang up. I do not appreciate anyone saying "...Everything, that is, except the national Democrats' shameful, manic obsession with bringing down a commander in chief," especially not someone of my own party! I for one am doing nothing to accuse President Bush of any action that would result in "bringing down a commande in chief." I realize I am not the typical voice of my party and that things have been stirred up, much in part to the 60 Minutes piece that CBS allowed to run, but I have a hard time swallowing the accusation that the Democratic party as a whole is doing such a thing.

You can't accuse a categorized group of people of a joint action and not expect a few to be a little upset. Let the backlash begin...again! Zell Miller could pretty much say anything at this point and I will be wound up... (For those of you who know me well, it is a Zeb Bell kind of issue!)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

A Night at the Emmys

Believe it or not this is not a blog created to keep tabs on the entertainment all started with Barbara Walters! Tonight I watched parts of the Emmys and was quite impressed with the lack of politics. I was pleased to see this award show not turn into a medium of political expression. Despite "this time of uncertainty," as Tom Selleck put it, the Emmys were not filled with zealous celebrities trying to push their political ideas on the national audience. (Basically there wasn't a Michael Moore pitch on a "ficticious war" nor were Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins there to sport peace signs.)

The host, Gary Shandling, ended the show by saying "pray for peace," but never was there Bush-bashing and never was Iraq mentioned. Again, I was impressed. Overall the Emmys went well. There were a few surprises, but mostly the anticipated. Kelsey Grammer won for Dr. Frasier Crane, up against the likes of Matt LeBlanc, and the late John Ritter. Despite the untimely death of Ritter I felt the academy was correct in their pick of the "best actor in a comedy series."

The Emmys for me were somewhat inspiring...not inspiring in the way that I want to run right out and become an actor, but inspiring in that I wanted to be something so much greater than what I am. The memorial presented by Selleck of the greats we lost over the last year included Art Carney, Peter Ustinov, Ray Charles, Marlon Brando, Ronald Reagan, John Ritter, and Julia Child...who could dispute what inspiring individuals those are?

Also, I was impressed with Meryl Streep's speech. She wins so many awards that you tend not to listen to her, but this was one of her greatest acceptance speeches I've heard. That woman can either see an awesome script when it is presented to her, or given the number of times she has been nominated for various awards, she must be unbelievable! I was pleased to see James Spader win, his role on "The Practice" makes me want to go out and get a law degree!

Maybe next time for "Joan of Arcadia," way to go Alyson Janney, and overall it seems I'll be renting "Angels in America" soon. Anyway, sorry for such a long post on something so irrelevant to the topic at hand...BUT I just couldn't resist! It was a fine night for television.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Goodbye Barbara...

Looking back over my nineteen years, there are only a few years unaccounted for; unaccounted for in that I didn't watch 20/20 every Friday night. When I was a kid, living with my grandparents, it was a Friday night ritual to sit down and watch Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters on 20/20. It was a ritual that has followed me from those early days until last night as Barbara departed.

I've watched Barbara interview Fidel Castro, both George W. and George H.W. Bush, Katherine Hepburn, Hillary Clinton, O.J. Simpson, the parents of Jon Benet Ramsey, the parents of Elizabeth Smart, my favorite Christopher Reeve...and the list goes on.

When Hugh Downs left I realized that the news show I'd grown up with would not be around forever, nor would the two anchors I've watched since I was old enough to remember. Last night was a surreal moment for me and I hope many others across the country. Of course 20/20 will stay on the air for years to come, but it will never be the same. Perhaps it is the end of an era.

Okay, so this isn't one of my typical posts, but in Barbara Walters we've seen the good and the bad of politics. From Monica to Hillary, Reagen to John Hinkley, Fidel Castro to the great Lady Thatcher... Barbara has introduced my generation to leaders of nations, celebrities, and men who have by a few gunshots changed the world.

I look forward to Walter's specials and occasionally catching "The View," but never will she have the same impact on the audience as she did with 20/20. Thank you Barbara Walters for the memories!

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Ambassador Hotel

A friend of mine asked me to comment on the tearing down of the Ambassador Hotel...I was stunned. Having not heard any such news, I immediately checked in to it. As it turns out the Ambassador Hotel, the sight of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, is not being completely tore down, but partly demolished to accommodate a school for the lower-income downtown Los Angeles school district.

Now, people have been talking, they think that the Ambassador should remain intact and it should in some way be considered a historical landmark. What greater landmark or memorial could there be to Bobby Kennedy than a school for the disadvantaged? Personally I don't consider places of death to be historically significant--we don't need a memorial for every place when someone is assassinated, but if people feel we need to have that memorial to RFK, let them build a school.

Bobby Kennedy was an advocate of education. Having 11 children of his own he saw the importance of public schools and actively played a part in the funding of lower-income schools as attorney general. Of all memorials, the greatest would be a school--but even more importantly the history of the Ambassador Hotel would no longer be negatively remembered as the place where Robert Kennedy was assassinated, but would positively be remembered as a place where his greatest work resides.

Rarely do I go into my Kennedy sentiment. Occasionally I voice my frustration with Ted Kennedy and comment on the outrageous amount of time I spend on Kennedy research, but hardly ever do I mention my personal feelings about the Kennedy family. I'm quite convinced that had John Kennedy lived, Vietnam would have been much different and had Bobby lived he would have become one of the greatest president's of the United States, right up there with Truman. Of the four Kennedy brothers, Joe was the potential, Jack was the class and grace, Teddy is the corrupt politician, but it was Bobby who was the brains, the ambition, the hope for an entire generation.

The plan for the Ambassador will be approved in the coming months by the school district and we will soon know its fate, but let me say just this---- If the Ambassador Hotel will forever be known for Bobby Kennedy, let it represent his life's work rather than his death.

Methods of Higher Education: II

Contemplating my role as a college student is still a frustrating endeavor and one that I may never gain the upper hand on, but I'm not giving up. I spend the majority of my time on a college campus and gain most of my insight there. Throughout the week I've read Caroline Bird's essay "College is a Waste of Time and Money" several times and I think it really applies to the question at hand...why are we here?

Obviously today was an English day. I find myself most inspired following my Monday, Wednesday, Friday English 102 class. My curiousity grows and I some how end up writing a non-political post. Maybe I need my own blog my English-class inspirations and, but it was a nice thought.

Anyway, I think I said enough in the original Methods of Higher Education post, but I wanted to add Bird's essay to my frustrations. (The Bird link in a critique of the essay, followed by the essay itself.)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Wrong Turn

The TEC-9, the MAC-10, and the Colt AR-15...what do they have in common? As of Monday they are no longer banned semiautomatic assault rifles.

Legislation passed in 1994 outlawed the sale, importation, and manufacture of 19 semiautomatic weapons including those mentioned and the AK-47 and the Uzi. This assault weapon ban was allowed to expire Monday much to my dismay, yet much to the pleasure of the NRA.

Originally this legislation was brought about by the events in Waco, Texas in 1993 as well as the deaths of five children in Stockton, California in 1989 who were shot down in their schoolyard. Was this ban allowed to expire because there haven't been any such event recently?

Sure the law was limited and it may not have impacted sportsmen or gun dealers, it may not have curved the trend of violence much, but if it did change the trend even slightly, it was worth keeping in law.

If we learned nothing from Columbine it would be a disgrace. If Michael Moore taught us nothing with "Bowling for Columbine" so be it. But we should see the assault weapon ban as a step toward preventing gun crimes. If a step is all we can make, lets see it for what it is...a step toward making our every day lives a little less full of fear and a little more close to comfort.

It is not often that I look at an issue and cannot see two sides. It is not often that I see something as completely wrong, but with the expiration of the assault weapon ban, I do. Charleton Heston can get on his soapbox with an AK-47 in hand and rant about our 2nd amendment rights all he wants. What rights do we have when we're dead?

Saturday, September 11, 2004

The Memory of a Nation

Anniversaries have always annoyed me. It seems absurd to me that seemingly important events we only remember once a year, when in all reality they should remain with us everyday of our lives. The days we are born, the days we die, the day we are married...the day this nation came under attack.

I'm a Kennedy researcher (not yet a historian) and I at least spend a moment every day contemplating Kennedy's life and his death. Something that happened years before I was born, is thought of daily. Something so crucial to my own life now, such as September 11th should also receive such treatment.

I've been rather bitter this week over the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks, because I've felt that we as a nation have essentially forgotten that day. It took a horrific attack on a school in Russia for us to draw comparisons to our own days of uncertainty. It takes a day set apart from all others to remember the lives that were lost on our home soil. Why can we not remember the day worth remembering? Rememberance is not an annual event, but a daily ritual. We remember WWI and WWII on other days than Armistice Day and D-Day, why can't we remember our nation's greatest termoil, on any other day than just the day in which it happened?

When I think of 9/11, it is a religious thing for me. I'm not sure of the reason. Whether it is because of the Muslim terrorists or that day I started questioning a much higher power, but whatever the reason I hope it is instilled in every American and not just me.

I'm a believer that if we don't accept history and recognize the choices and consequences, the repercussion will be the repetion of mistakes. (That little saying that history repeats itself.) I hope today of all days we know what we are up against and what we've been through in the last three years. If we can't remember the darkest hour of modern history daily, I sure hope each American took a moment to think about it today.

Also, my thoughts go out to the families of the victims, my thanks goes out to Flight 93, my hope is still with the leader of this nation and his advisors, and my faith is with God, that He will continue to bless the United States of America.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Public Campaign Financing

As you've previously encountered, I often pull information from the Idaho State Journal for use in my posts, or as aggravation that results in a post. Well... here I am again questioning exactly who allows for these pointless polls and articles to be printed. The ISJ has been running a poll of its readers regarding public campaign financing--for or against. But they fail to inform the public what exactly this means.

Theoretically I feel that public campaign financing should be available through following these methods:

1. Candidate must meet certain requirements to apply for financing
- interval of public service
- membership on a board of directors or school board
- Minimum of Bachelor's degree in a social science related field
- prior interest in political leadership
2. Candidate must fill out an application for financing from a grant or government fund
3. Candidate must respect the opinion of his people if they request his/her resignation

Financially I'm not certain how all of this works, but I am a firm believer in individual political perspective. Each individual has much to offer to a society. Certain individual are politically minded and would greatly benefit the governing body if they could but afford to run for public office. This would help us derail the politicians who have the money, but lack the political appeal (present Kennedys, John Kerry, and of the contrary to politicians, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader).

Hopefully this makes sense and isn't one of my many rants. I find the ISJ frustrating in that they state an opinion or offer a poll with results, with out educating the readers on the issues.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

John Kerry Blog

I feel inclined to add the John Kerry blog to my favorites--- every now and again I sit down and read a few posts from Dick Bell. I wish I had the time and effort to put out five or more posts a day. I am actually slacking recently as I've been reading The Antiquary for English and Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper for History.

Someday I'll be a great blogger like Dick Bell, but that is certainly not going to happen while I'm a full time student with 100+ pages to read a night. Until then-- I'll try my hardest to post often. Today I don't have anything great, imagine that I don't have a strong opinion about one thing or the other...don't worry that doesn't happen often.

I did fail to wish Mr. Clinton good luck with surgery, but it seems I'm too late, he must have had enough to make it through. Hopefully he'll be back to his oh so important "activities" soon!!

Friday, September 3, 2004

Methods of Higher Education

What as college students are we seeking? Today in my English 102 class, my professor explained to us that in comparison to the European school system, as college freshmen we are at least 6 years behind our European counterparts. At the time we receive a BA or BS degree, we have caught up to where the average European high school graduate is. Why is this?

Our public school systems are lacking. Severely deficient, we are being denied our basic educations as high school, junior high, and elementary students. When we, the few, set out for post-secondary educations, we are unprepared for the rigorous course work. As what I consider to be a successful product of public schooling, I was surprised by these statistics. Surprised, but not shocked. I know there are teachers within the system who fail in meeting the required curriculum. My first two years of high school were inadequate and never was I expected to do anymore than pass, much less excel. My two final years of high school were much more progressive and adequate, but even then I encountered a teacher who showed "Cool Runnings" at least fifteen times. I admire and appreciate those public school teachers who are overworked, underpaid, and yet miraculously are attributed to the success of graduates like me.

Despite our public school background and our high school experiences, we come to college not knowing what we want. From an educational perspective, we lack motivation. We aren't aspiring to reach our greatest potentials, but are merely setting out to attain a degree in a particular field of study. Why are we not here to become educated? I sit through a higher division history class twice a week frustrated with how little I've learned about European history in my life. I read book after book hoping to one day understand the Kennedy assassination. I'm enthralled with CSPAN daily. Yet I am not satisfied with how much I collectively "know."

I'm not your typical nineteen year old, but shouldn't we all seek for more than what we have. As students in institutions of higher learning our number one objective should be to obtain knowledge. To become an educated individual who will better society. Why are we here if not for that purpose? If you are sitting in a college classroom today and don't know for what reason, it is about time you start questioning. And just because you are here to get a degree or a certificate and know exactly how you'll go about it, that doesn't mean you are reaching your full potential and gaining the highest education you possibly can.

Thanks to Kay Walter I've learned this today, I've been inspired to seek for my true potential, and hope all of my college counterparts will give it at least a moment of consideration.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

What The Zell?

Physically and intellectually exhausted, I sit here wondering if I should let this one slide by, but the effort is worth it to me. I am infuraited with Mr. Zell Miller. Last night I had a phone conversation with a good friend of mine, the wife of a government teacher, who typically is not politically wound up, but she was frustrated, understandably, with Miller's speech to the RNC. I was unable to devote the time to his speech, but read the transcript twice today. Now I'm fired up! (More so than ever this week!)

In his speech he stated:

"Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations. Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending. I want Bush to decide."

My underlining reason for not casting my vote for Bush (besides his arrogant and disenchanting vp) is that he has no plan for how we will re-enter the United Nations. We left (some say we haven't left, but I assure you they have lost respect for us) on pretty nasty terms. We won't return on those same terms. If we ever return...

We need the United Nations. Sure we have all those places on our side that President Bush spouted off in his speech tonight (Holland, Denmark, Great Britian...etc), but what fate does a super power hold when the other large countries could easily conspire against us, namely Russia, France, Germany, etc. I love Tony Blair and am thankful for the British support we are receiving, but they can't save us. If WWIII were to begin tomorrow we would be in the position France was during the first world war. Devasted.

Zell Miller claims loyalty to the Democratic Party, but a man who says that he "can remember when Democrats believed that it was the duty of America to fight for freedom over tyranny," is about as loyal to his party as I am to the NRA! If he were a true Democrat he would not only reaffirm that the Democratic party still believes this, but would himself say that he for one believes it.

I had previously stated somewhere that Zell was a zealous Dixiecrat...I didn't mean literally. I realize he is much to young to have been prominent in the Dixiecrat party, but I truly believe his antics are similiar to those of another famous Dixiecrat...Strom Thurmond. If you look deep enough into it, Zell has a little bigotry in his background-- the great state of Georgia is lucky he will not be running for reelection in 2005.

Zell Miller is about as useful to the Democratic party as Michael Moore is to the Republican party. I won't begin to entertain the idea of defending Zell's statement about Kennedy and Kerry. Ted Kennedy is one of the greatest Democratic senators, a waste of a person, but a fine politician. I'm a firm believer in the Boston boys! You know when it comes down to it, it won't matter in November what Zell said or what Ted Kennedy is up to, it will only matter where Bush and Kerry stand on the issues...Of course I realize it is the nature of politics to debate and argue endlessly.

When you all get on your soapboxes and tell me what a fine man Zell Miller is, I won't listen, but when you feel inclined to support George W. Bush and think I'm being too liberal-minded, just remember I'd vote for Bush if I had a promise regarding the United Nations and Cheney miraculously disappeared off the ticket. I don't particularly want to vote for Kerry--but if he is the other option (Nader won't help this decision any) then so be it. I don't question Bush in his beliefs or determination, I just question where we are going with all of this. And who will support us along the way?

At this point we'd all be better off to join Jim Jeffords!


Last night as I was reading up on Zell Miller and his Dixiecrat zeal (okay I was really angery with the man), I found this little blog, by a stranger and found it rather refreshing. It isn't your typical political news blog and it may offend some of you more conservative readers, but for those of us still entertaining the ideal of liberalism, it is worth a moment.

And if it can make me even more infuriated with the man who deserves to be booted out of the Democratic Party--so be it!