Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The King and The Troops and The Fourth

There have been some very tragic events in the last few weeks. We have all heard of the many celebrity deaths, some of which have come with great surprise, and others that have been expected for months. These deaths have been tragic for not only the families of those who have passed on, and also for the many fans which have been following the lives of their beloved heroes.

The death of most discussion has been that of the late Michael Jackson, the proclaimed "King of Pop", whose death came as a great surprise to most. What is no surprise is the amount of media attention has been placed on the death and subsequent events that have occurred during the investigation of the cause and what will happen to his estate. As the major news networks have struggled get any information from the local authorities, the music networks have run his music videos around the clock, digging deep into the archives to find the most rare and unique pieces of footage spanning the entire life of the music icon.

While this level of media coverage is expected for the person who is possibly the most famous person on earth, it has become clear that there are many other stories that are slipping through the cracks of the total Michael Jackson coverage. The ever escalating situation in North Korea, the exile of the President of Honduras, and the election problems in Iran, are only a few of the things which we seem to care very little about judging from the level of media coverage in the last few days.

There is one story that has been overlooked, which should be the one that is receiving the level of attention that the "King's" death has received. I am speaking of the pullback of Unites States Military Forces from the cities in Iraq. This is a wonderful day in the world, where international leaders now feel that the newly (in the historical sense of the word) liberated country has the ability to keep the peace and govern themselves in a sustained way. This is possibly the greatest victory in modern years. After a major war, and years of insurgent fighting, while the fledgling government has struggled to find itself, the people of Iraq have become capable of leading themselves in a peaceful manner, and it is being completely overlooked by the media.

This lack of media coverage is exemplified by the website for CNN. At 3:13 p.m. mountain time, the total number of stories related to the troop pullback was zero. In contrast, the total number of stories or links to the coverage of Michael Jackson's death was 15. The only mention of the troop pullback was this online survey…

CNN.com - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News
Screen clipping taken: 6/30/2009, 3:13 PM

Is this not a sad commentary on what we as a people find important? We would rather hear that the Michael Jackson cut his father out of his will, than the next major step in the complete removal of US troops from an active war zone. We care more about the death of a celebrity, than we do about the men and women who are putting their lives in danger every day so that we can have the IPods and 50 inch plasmas and the high speed broadband, which allow us to watch the streaming video of the tribute to Jackson at the Apollo Theater.

We should be ashamed of where we allow our focus to remain, and strive to remember what is that our brothers and sisters are trying to achieve, and by most judgments, are managing to accomplish.

This weekend, as we celebrate the liberty that we so jealously enjoy, let's remember the true source of our happiness. Let us remember that we live in a place that, not only do we have the right to enjoy the music we choose, but we also have the right to choose which God we believe in. We have the right to make choices… in what we where, where we go, who we know, and even who and what we what to allow into our homes. This is a gift that so many lack, and so many others are trying to share with those around the world.

As I use my freedom this weekend to lie in the grass, in a park, staring up at the patriotic displays that so many of us love, I will take a moment, and thank not only my God, but also those who have fought and died to give me that freedom. I will remember that the death of someone fighting for the freedom of others, deserved just as much attention as the death of a pop star, and the actions preformed to help others, are insurmountably more important than the contents of a will.

With that said, I will take a rare opportunity to deviate from my normal pattern. I would like to thank so many for what they have done for me.

My Father, for leaving his wife and children so many years ago to go fight for a people, oppressed by a dictator, and then returning home to teach me about the truly important things in life.

My Mother, who showed me that even though it may be difficult, supporting those who are fighting for the freedoms of other was always the right thing to do.

My Brother, for leaving his family to protect so many other from the radicals who believe that a United States Military presence in Iraq, must be resisted by lethal force. Who has experienced things that I would never wish on another, but continues to fight, knowing that the outcome is worth the sacrifice.

My Sister-in law, who is not only supporting my brother, but who serves herself in the Air Force, for supporting my brother in the ways that I cannot.

J. M., who fought alongside my brother, being wounded in action, for being the brother that my brother needed while away from his family. You acted as a Hero, in a way that will never be forgotten.

All of the men and women in the world, who fight for the rights of others, even at great risk to their own lives.

And finally, To the men and women who have died in the service of others,, whether in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or the Marines, the men and women of police, fire, and medical departments who rush into danger, for the chance of saving another, to all those who have lost their lives, giving another the chance at their own. I thank you.

Have a Happy 4th of July

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Power of The Post

The recent elections in the country of Iran have caused uproar around the world as the opposition to the current leader Ahmadinejad, has cried foul as the election results have come in. The more conservative runner up Moussavi has claimed that there was major election fraud including the lack of available ballots to perspective voters. The United States has not recognized Ahmadinejad as the elected leader and protests have sprung up around the world as Iranians have tried to voice their distaste with the election. Why should the American people be concerned with the elections half way across the world? It all goes back to the nuclear problem. Should Iran be allowed to have a nuclear weapons program and if not, how does the international community… and by the international community I mean the United States, stop them from developing their programs.
The difference between Ahmadinejad and Moussavi is the difference between Bush and Obama. One is a man who believes that the only way to accomplish the difficulty things in politics is through force. The other believes that there in a greater need for the leaders of the world government to talk to each other and work together to overcome the differences that separate us. For years the combination of Bush and M have led to the ever increasing distrust of one another and the aggressive stance that each has taken towards the other. In the United States, the people have said “enough”, clearly voting for the ideals that Obama has promised and hoping that the “Change” offered is more than just a clever and catchy campaign slogan.
It appears that a good chunk of the people of Iran feel the same way. Tired of a man who acts as a dictator and hoping for a man who will work with the new American President in a way that benefits the people and not simply the government’s stance on the world stage. While I am still unsure of how President Obama is doing, it is clear that he is reaching out to the world in a way that has not been seen in almost a decade.
I will say that I support an open discussion with Iran on their nuclear program. We need more allies in the Middle East. We are dangerously close to the complete breakdown of relations with North Korea. We still have massive number of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. While the US has one of the biggest and best funded armies in the world, the toll that the wars have taken on the American People, let alone the military forces, will not be seen for years to come.
While we have no control over the outcome of the elections, we can learn from others, and while the Iranians may spend the next few years with the same Bush like, aggressive leader, we can hope and pray that those with the presence of mind to take a step back and think first, act second, will come to power, overlooking the power of their post, creating a safer world and possibly a Zion like place for the people they lead.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Cast and A Court

This last Monday Supreme Court Nominee Sotomayor tripped and fell fracturing her ankle at the airport. She spends the rest of the day on crutches and in a cast as she managed to keep all of her appointments for the rest of the day. This led to a full article from the associated press about her injury. My question is … Who cares? This seems to be more of a way to avoid talking about the problems with Sotomayor’s judicial history as it concerns her Supreme Court nomination. The problems are not the fact that she is a woman or that she is a minority. More so that she is a woman and a minority. Let me explain.

Over the course of the history of the Supreme Court, 150 of the 150 something have been white men. Naturally the democratically controlled government is trying their best to do … well, anything that the Bush administration did not do. To do such, naturally President Obama selected Sotomayor as the next nominee for Supreme Court justice. The main problem is that the biggest reason she is being considered is because she is a female minority.

Sotomayor has several warning signs from her career as a judge. I direct you back to a speech she gave at Duke University Law School, where she said “All of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people with court of appeals experience. Because it is – court of appeals is where policy is made.”

The point of a judge is not to legislate from the bench, but rather to decide if actions fall within the legality of the laws and the constitution. When that power is bestowed on an individual, the power to impose one’s individual ideals and beliefs on the entire community is also given. This is not a power that the founding fathers intended, but the very nature of the position allows for it. The most important point then becomes the ability of an individual to overlook their own ideals and beliefs and subject themselves to the laws that have been placed before them. This responsibility is all too often overlooked by our Supreme Court justices and for the last 30 to 50 years, they have taken it upon themselves to inflict the beliefs of 5 to 7 individuals on the whole of the American people.

I fully believe that all should be equal. If there is an under representation in the Supreme Court, by all means, let’s fix that, but not at the expense of not only the morality and ethical standing of the system, but also the legality of it. Once we allow individuals to hold absolute power in the government, we move right back to the same system of government that the men and women or our armed forces fight against. Let us remember that we need to choose those who lead us on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pushing His Luck

This last week the government of North Korea sentenced two American journalists to 12 years of hard labor in a prison camp. The two female journalists were arrested along the Chinese, North Korean border by North Korean border guards. This step has only further strained the relationship between the North Korean Government and the rest of the world as North Korea continues to advance its nuclear weapons program despite outrage expressed by the international community. The arrest of the two journalists has raise the stakes a Kim Jong Ill has work hard to remain the focus of attention in the international community. It is still unclear if the arrest was legal or if the journalist were even in North Korean territory when the arrest took place.
While I have commented several times about the North Korean Government’s need to remain the center of attention, at times comparing Kim Jong Ill to an overgrown child, it is becoming clear that his is an overgrown child with the ability to start an international war. While his past record has shown that he will push the boundaries until he gets what he wants, these recent tantrums have shown us just how far he is willing to go to get his way. Ill is taunting the international community to push back. Once they do, he uses the “international sanctions” as an excuse to threaten war.
Will Kim Jong Ill take this episode to the point of invading South Korea or launching a nuclear warhead at Japan? I don’t know. We must, however, start to consider if he is truly crazy enough to take it that far. It must be unclear if Kim Jong Ill is crazy to Washington if the President and democratically controlled congress have already given their support to military actions in Korea. Committing to a third war when they are doing everything they can to act like they are ending the other two. Do I believe that we will go back to war with North Korea (remember that we never actually ended the Korean War of the 50’s)? I don’t believe so, but Kim Jong Ill has done a great job of convincing us that he may be just crazy enough to do so. Chalk one up for North Korea