Tuesday, January 5, 2010
When we look back on 2009 it is easy to overlook so many things that have happened. Sure, we remember that the first black President of the United States was sworn into office. We also remember that The King of Pop died under was have been put kindly as "questionable circumstances", but we have also forgotten about so many other things that have happened that a year ago would have been on the minds of every man and woman in the United States.
What then, should we as a people take from the last year? What was the big event that defined the last year of the decade? Did we reform immigration? Did we overhaul the healthcare system? Did we close Guantanamo Bay? Did we end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Did we do anything besides file for bankruptcy and look for non-existent jobs? The answers to all of the questions can be answered quite simply. No.
The question then becomes, What did we do over the last year? Well… we survived. That in itself is a feat. The world did not erupt in nuclear war when North Korea tested its long range missiles. H1N1 did not become the epidemic that so many feared it would become. The Republicans and Democrats are still fighting over healthcare and sure enough, even after an executive decree, Guantanamo Bay is still holding terror suspects. While this may seem like we lost a year of progress in 2009, it all depends on how you look on it.
After the housing and market crashes in late 2008, the country started down the now all too familiar path of recession and bailouts. We learned that we will eventually be accountable for our actions and our growing outstanding debt. Credit card limits were slashed and the summer vacation to Europe was spent at Lake Powel. We realized that we can wait to see the movie at the dollar show, or maybe we could just check out the book from the library. We learned that just because we can, doesn't mean we should, and that time spent with our families can be just as enjoyable as time spent on the golf course.
Was the year 2009 a waste? The answer is the same. No. It very well may be that the President and the Government as a whole may not have been able to achieve the lofty goals that they set for themselves, but we have grown as a country.
What should we take? Simple, we can take the knowledge that in small ways, each and every one of us had a chance to make this country a better place, and many of us seized the opportunity. At the end of the year, we all live in a better place because of the choices that we have made. We were not consumed by the overwhelming despair that we may have felt a year ago. The world did not end on January 1, 2000. It was still here as of January 1, 2011.
Let's spend the next year in the same fashion as the last, doing our best to make good decisions, caring for others and trying to make our piece of the world a little bit better each day.
While it has been some time since the last post, the world of politics has continued on without the unread commintary that is Zion Times. I have focused my time on my school work as I approach the last few courses that I must complete before I graduate and move on in my life. I will however, find the time needed to keep up with my insignificant ideas and hopefully help someone other than my wife keep informed about what is going on in the world.
Monday, October 19, 2009
The White House has decided that it is no longer going to allow Fox News, one of the major news outlets, access to information or even access to the President in what in what Fox News exec Michael Clemente is calling a "war on a news organization". This "war" is not just one of idle rhetoric, this last weekend the White House sent the Administrations messages to all major new outlets save Fox News. When the President appeared on television this last Sunday morning to promote his healthcare bill, Obama appeared on all the major Sunday news shows accept for Fox News Sunday.
We all know that Fox News is clearly on the conservative side of the spectrum. It is often seen as the only conservative news group among all the major news networks. Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are outspoken and animated, often being labeled as over the top, conservative crusaders focused on bringing down the liberal government. While this label may not be that far from the truth, at what point did the government get the right to decided who could and could not report the news?
The White House's decision to not consider Fox News a news organization is one of the most egregious examples of the Democratic Party abusing the star power that the President commands. The President stated during the election that he felt that Fox News had cost his several polling points in the campaign. The Party is now using the freedom that they are receiving from the American people to silence their opposition. It is appalling that the White House is intentionally blocking a group from exercising one of the most basic principles of freedom that our government was founded on, a truly free press.
It is no surprise that people are going to disagree on any particular topic. The only time that we seem to agree is when the outcome is so trivial that it has no real effect on our lives or when it would be seen as inappropriate to disagree, but on any matter of real importance, we all want to do things differently and all feel that we have the best way of accomplishing our goals. We do however, pride ourselves on the fact that we are all allowed our own opinions and the freedom to express them.
The White House Communications Director stated that Fox News is almost "the communication arm of the Republican Party". While some might believe that this is more than enough reason to block the group from access to the news, that statement is the exact reason that the government, as well as the people, should be fighting to make sure that they receive the same access to the government and the President as any other news organization. We would then be reinforcing the rights that our forefathers fought and died for, and so many of our ancestors gave up everything for and moved to a strange new country that promised inalienable rights. When we start to allow the government to keep certain groups from having access to those rights and freedoms, we are giving up those rights altogether. How can we expect to have the protection of the First Amendment when we require it, if we do not protect that right for those are currently being denied them, regardless of how much we disagree with their views and opinions?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
It has become more and more difficult to surprise the American people with the praise that President Obama has been receiving from the international community, but it appears that there are still groups out there that are willing to rise to the challenge. This last Friday, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
It would not have been a surprise if the award had come a year from now, and many of Obama opponents would have agreed with the decision to award the prize to the current sitting president. The President has done many good thing in bring the world together. For example, the President recently spoke to the UN General Assembly in which he called for a new era in international cooperation. The one thing that really has many Americans concerned is the fact that these efforts have been just that, recent.
To receive a Nobel Peace Prize, you must be nominated. Those nominations are due by February 1st, only two week after the President took office. Are there really that many people that believe that the President accomplished enough goals to be awarded the Peace Prize in a meager two weeks?
Let us take a step back in time and think about what was happening in January. If you leave out the pomp and circumstance that is associated with the inauguration of a President of the United States there was a substantial list of things that needed to be done on the domestic front that were considered a much higher priority than international relations. The housing market had collapsed and along with it, the entire economy. Jobs were being lost, the Auto-Industry was on the brink of collapse, and the government was scrambling to pass a trillion dollar piece of legislation to try to prevent the country from entering a second Great-Depression, not to mention the thousands of positions that needed to be fill in President Obama's Cabinet. The President did not have the time to focus on international peace. The only thing he did was call the Heads-of-State of our allies.
It is clear that the President is a celebrity on the international stage. The last time that it was news that the President was taking his wife too dinner on their anniversary was back when John F. Kennedy was President. It seems that all the international community cares about is that of his celebrity status and keeping Obama's reputation clean in the international community.
Do not misunderstand, this was not the fault of President Obama or should he be personally ridiculed for the award. Rather, we should be concerned with the fact that those lacking basic requirements are being awarded the most respected award in the world, and suspect of the political motivation of those who give the award. They admit that the award was given in a political move, but does that undermine the underlying intentions of the awards?
That is a question that is not so easy to answer.
Monday, September 28, 2009
When we look back at the first and arguably only nuclear standoff, we know that the idea of mutually assured destruction can be an effective way of staving of nuclear attack. Some argue that there are those out there that would be willing to die to destroy their enemy, but this logic will not hold when it comes to entire governments. While it is clear that many leaders around the world are willing to sacrifice the needs and wants of their people in order to accomplish their goals, there is no evidence that those same leaders are willing to truly risk nuclear war to accomplish their goals.
What Iran tried to accomplish when it test fired several short and long-range missiles this weekend was nothing different that what North Korea did this last summer. Iran is positioning itself for negotiations with the international community which will begin the first week of October. This all come on the heals of the international community discovering that Iran has had a secret nuclear facility that it has been using to develop nuclear technology for the last several years.
Should the international community be concerned that another state may become nuclear in the the next few years? Absolutely, but not for fear of war. Many nuclear powers have fought wars without using nuclear weapons. Rather, they should be concerned that the technology is secure and that it cannot reach the hands of the small groups of individuals who do wish to start nuclear war.
While the media thrives on images of rockets and missiles being test fired as a show of force, the only real power that these images give a country is the fear that they create. There is no true threat that Iran will destroy the middle east in the next few year, that is unless they forget to lock up their nuclear weapons at night and one or two of them just "happen" to disappear.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Today, President Obama address the United Nations for the first time in a move that is being viewed as the first step in repairing relations in the international community. While speaking on several subjects, several points have been seen as major changes from United States international policy. While it is clear that the President is trying to repair what many felt was major damage caused by the Bush Administration, President Obama made it clear that the US was no longer willing to act independently of the international system. Obama address was mostly focused on a new age of international interaction in which the President called for the world to move past points of conflict in the past and focus on the major problems in the world today.
Was this a concession on the part of the United States caving to international pressure against the war in Iraq? No , the President made it clear that the world had a responsibility to work together to create peace and stability. He states, "The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise. And that treaties will be enforced, We must insist that the future does not belong to fear."
The President is not trying to remove blame from the US on their lack of international cooperation, but does admonish the world to set aside their mistrust and opposition to previous US policies assuring the UN that the US is now ready to work with the international community and not in spite of it. He states, "The United States stands ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation -- one that recognizes the rights and responsibilities of all nations"
There are many in the US who fear that a weak stance on the world stage will hurt the US ability to influence world politics. They would be misperceiving what happened at the UN today. It is clear to everyone that President Obama's approach to international politics is much different that Bush's, but this is not necessary a bad thing. There will be times in the world where talks fail and countries solve problems though armed negations, but trying to bring the world together with the very real power the the US holds on the world stage is more beneficial than many would lead the American People to believe. When we make the effort to try to resolve differences in peaceful means, be it problems we have with other countries or ones that other countries have among themselves, we will not only prevent war, we will enhance our position of peace and create a trust among the major international sources of conflict in the world.
Anything we can do to increase trust and reduce fear in the world moves us towards a better world community. While not all of the changes President Obama has made in US Government has been for the good of the people, the call for international cooperation, even if it is simply lip service, is a call that can only help all people, living in the United States or abroad.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Today, President Obama announced that the US Government would be throwing out the plans to create a missile defense shield in Europe and replacing it with an updated program. The President did not state what the new program would consist of, but he did state that the Joint-Chiefs of Staff were all in agreement over the change in systems.
This is once again an example of the President cutting out programs that President Bush worked so hard to get passed. Is this a bad thing? No it is not, but we need to keep a close eye on the actions of President Obama as he continues to cut programs in order to fund his own agenda. There has been too much waste on both sides of the aisle. There have been far too many Republican and Democratic projects that have been paid for by the Federal Government that are simply pork projects that need to be cut out of the Federal Budget. These projects, while helping the local areas, are more designed to keep politicians in office than they are to help the country as a whole. These projects should be paid for by the state and local governments. Only in those areas where there is not a substantial tax base, such as western Wyoming, should the Federal Government step in to take control.
This would not be a popular idea. The American people love it when others pay for their needs, but it should not be that way. This does not mean that we must raise taxes in order to pay for every new project, rather we should be spending the taxes in the area that they are being collected from. This would not only prevent wasteful spending and increase spending on the truly important projects, but it would also help the American people to have greater pride in the infrastructure of their communities. When you must pay for your own bridges and stop lights and libraries you are more likely to not only use these services, but also to take care of them.
The overall effect of this idea is that not only will we be wasting money on random projects, but the things that we use today will last longer. This only save the people more in taxes. President Obama should cut wasteful programs, but we must make sure that it is not so that he can just pay for his own "bridge to nowhere".