Musings of a Political Nature

Friday, March 07, 2008

Dropping the Bomb

I got in an argument today, and yes I mean argument, over whether or not dropping the bomb on Japan in WWII was justified. Now what is utterly bewildering to me is that both myself and my opponent have ages that hover around the quarter century mark; not your usual candidates for rehashing WWII military strategy. But more than that, it turned into an ACTUAL argument.
To clarify: It was totally justified to drop the bomb on Japan. We were at war and we wanted to win. Regardless of who the victims were, and I fully admit that they were mostly civilians, we needed a definitive military win to claim our victory. The reality of war is that people will die, and sometimes those people don't deserve it. Ultra liberals talk about how civilian casualty is unacceptable, but that begs the question is, are military casualties acceptable?

The 18 year old boys who were drafted into WWII were not necessarily "volunteers" and certainly the German and Japanese young men who served were not ALL the masterminds behind the attacks on the U.S. So was the killing of soldiers at all really anything less than cruel. OF COURSE NOT! Killing soldiers is what happens in war, young American men died, as did young Germans and Japanese soldiers. And the reality is, they were almost as innocent as the civilians; they were doing the bidding of their government. So to ask, was it justified to kill civilians to make a point? The answer in my book is yes.

I say this because in conflict some people die. Its not pretty, its not glamorous and its certainly not something to celebrate, but it is true. We killed people with those bombs, but so did they. And who is to say that if they had the technology that they wouldn't have done the same. But the long and short of it is that we're not always the good guy. Unlike in fiction the good guys don't always win. But we're American and we're pretty damn lucky to live the way we do, and if that means sometimes we have to be the bad guys, sometimes we have to drop the bomb, then so be it. It doesn't make me a bad person, or a bad liberal to say that. Being liberal means wanting the government to support education, technology, and the underprivileged. It doesn't mean being militarily soft.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Presidential Law and Order

I was reading a brief excerpt today about how Americans wouldn't vote for a bald man in a Presidential race. Looking back at history I can see that this observation is quite astute. Look at Reagan's fluffy Republican Pomp, or recall the luxurious amber locks of JFK, and lest we never forget Martin Van Buren whose Presidential powers were only second to that of his hair growing abilities. (In fact I am considering petitioning the government to rename the Mutton Chop the Van Buren. Wouldn't that be nice, "Honey I'm think of growing out my Van Burens."

Back to the Bald Man issue. The debate here was potential Presidential nominee Fred Thompson's ability to win votes were he to actually become a Republican candidate. Thompson is a man without a lot of hair. And I have two arguments in favor of Mr. Thompson. The first of which is that clearly America DOES like bald people. Go to any retirement community (which is chock full of AARP voters by the way) and you will see five or six 80 year old ladies clamoring for every balding man in the place. Now this is partially do to the fact that women live longer than men, so all the widows looking for a little male companionship will pretty much gravitate towards anything living thing with male genitalia. (Just so you know, writing this sentence made me feel a little nauseous.)

But I think we feel safe with bald older men, 60+ men with a lot of hair have a lot of sexual magnetism (aka Bill Clinton) and with a bald man, we feel like he could be our Dad or our Grandpa. Maybe this is a persona we need in the White House. Our only bald President, Eisenhower, actually won against his opponent because they were both bald. But the race for 2008 is clearly full of atypical candidates: a woman, an African American, a Bald American.

But my second argument for Fred Thompson is this. He may be follicular-ly challenged but he has something few other bald men do: he was a cast member on Law and Order. Law and Order has been a TV staple for almost 20 years. It is representative of America on a multitude of levels and this potential Presidential candidate is part of that Americana. So which one will sway people more at the box office, oops I mean polls.

So maybe this is the true line up of candidates for the president race of 2008: A woman, an African American, and The Guy from Law and Order. Honestly, he's my favorite choice.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Going Out with a Bang

I have been quite remiss in keeping up with current events and then posting my musings here, but feel assured that all is not lost.

I just finished reading an article in the Economist about George Bush and for the first time since 2003 I got a chill of fear running deeply through my veins. As most people are aware former Chaney Cheif of Staff Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and sentenced to 30 months in jail. President Bush has recently pardoned him, eliminating the jail time. All in all, I don't really care so much about that. I don't particularly like, but that isn't what strikes fear into my liberal heart.

What scares me is what the decision reinforces about views on the Pres. (Paraphrased from the Justice is Not Blind article in the July 5th issue of the Economist.) First is his cronyism and tendency to make decisions in the best interest of his friendships as opposed to his position as leader of the free world. There are several examples of this, not the least of which was the time he tried to appoint his lawyer, Harriett Miers, to the Supreme Court. Second is his dependency on Dick Cheney, or worse Cheney's apparent hold over the decision making processes of the President. Either way, its clear that the two of them have a very frightening Pres/VP relationship.

Finally, it is the general perception that Bush believes he and his friends are above the law. Interpreting bills as he sees fit, wire tapping without authorization, torture at secret CIA prisons, etc. These three things are not news when it comes to Bush, but together, and in combination with the fact that he is not running for re-election is a scary prospect. What if he thinks he's got nothing left to lose?

The only thing more dangerous in my mind that George Bush with no limits, is George Bush with no reservations. Is it possible that this is just the beginning of the final and worst years of the Bush Presidency? I'll quote the article that so chilled my blood: "What else, one wonders, might so isolated a President do before he goes?"

Saturday, December 02, 2006

America's Youth

In the recent months I've been seriously humbled both by my own abilities to impart knowledge on others and the salience of politics for the youth. I'm becoming a teacher which is somewhat expected and yet also so far a stretch for me that I constantly fight some kind of internal war over the whole thing. I've always considered myself some kind of intellectual, a philosopher of the high political calling if you will. Which, in all honestly, has contradicted the role of educator in my mind. The stigma teachers suffer in our society is that in general we think we're smarter than they are. Perhaps this begins with our own "student-hood", where our adolescence makes it clear that we know more than not just our teachers, but, well, everyone.

I believe this carries over into adulthood in the form of parenthood. (That is a lot of hoods I know, but bear with me.) Parents ALWAYS know more than their children's teachers. Education is just another form of service, and the customer is always right. In so many ways parents undermined the teaching of our children, by making light of a teacher's education or level of knowledge, or by challenging their authority at the drop of a hat. Now, don't get me wrong, there are times when parents are 100% in the right, but most of the time they are taking the word of a 15 year old over that of a trained adult.

I may have digressed a bit here, but this all leads to a fevered pitch I promise. Society as a whole holds no faith in teachers. If that wasn't true our most prominent education related quote wouldn't be "Those who can't do, teach.". It may seem that I've got my back up due to my future in education, but let me reassure you, I've believed these things myself. Which brings me back to my original thought: the internal war.

How can I, someone who can wax eloquent on the fears Madison expressed in Federalist 10, want to become a teacher? I have no idea. For some reason, despite their complete lack of interest in the subject, I have an overwhelming desire to wax endless on separation of powers and legislative veto to a wholly un-captive audience. And maybe that's what is missing. There isn't any passion in education; there isn't any real desire to leave something of yourself behind in the future generations. (I could insert some kind of teacher/student sex relationship joke here, but I fear it might be too obvious.)

Supposedly testing is the answer, and I can't say that is all wrong. It holds teachers accountable, and it forces us to examine what's important for our children to know. I don't know if it makes the right choices, and I could go on for hours about the lack of student accountability, but it is certainly some kind of effort towards de-stupid-ifying our youth. (You can tell I'm from a pre-testing generation.) But I contest that maybe its how we view teachers that is half the problem. We call teachers professionals (intellectuals even), but we treat them like plumbers, and pay them half as well. The stigma keeps the passion away; there are no economists teaching economics, just history teachers being forced to pick up an elective.

So here I am, a political scientist, someone whose dream it is to go on and wax eloquent to lecture halls full of 19 year olds, whose dream it had always been to be a respected Washington political analyst, and I'm teaching. I consider myself a most unlikely revolutionary, but maybe that is exactly what I am.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Admin of Power

The UN has a new Secretary-General: Ban Ki-moon. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in South Korea, Ban has been known to be fastidious and focused on adminstrative tasks. In reality this makes Ban the perfect man for the job. They don't call them Secretary-General for nothing, the position itself is an administrative one in its most basic form, the role's description somthing akin to Cheif Adminstrative Officer.

In personality Mr. Ban is extremely different from former UN S-G's. Kofi Annan is name recognized by most literate people, assuming they are both literate and not under the assumption that the United States is the only country left on earth. It is unlikely that the world's new cheif diplomat will be a someone well known throughout the "normal" world. In fact I will venture to guess that most people will refer to him as "that UN guy."

He begins his new position duirng an interesting time, what with his country feeing more and more concerned about their crazy neighbors to the north. I could make some very interesting "neighborhood" analogies here, but I'll save you the torture. The UN's new diplomat, boring or not, might be put in a very interesting position if his home turf is suddenly under nuclear attack. I can't say for sure, but I do wonder how many other Secretaries-General have been at the head of the UN during threatening times for their native people. Either way the new UN era should be interesting... well, or not, considering the Economist would have me believe that Ban is somewhat uninteresting individual.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


There is something to be said for gaining a new perspective on life. Today I was reviewing a teacher's manual for the Government class I'll be teaching, while looking at it I saw things I didn't like and things I thought were great teaching tools. I imagine it works that way with all text books. But what really struck me was what happened when I went back to visit my old job recently, a job in the corporate world.

On a daily basis I conducted audits, worried about Sarbanes-Oxley, and held people accountable for their typos and written errors. And now, I'm repsonsible for children. Regardless of how little difference the "real world" thinks teachers make, or how underappreciated they are, teachers do something meaningful. Everyday they impart knowledge on to the future, and kids walk away with the imprint of that experience left on them. No one will ever remember that I initialed audits that were compliant, but there's a chance that one child will walk away with at least some kind of respect for the thing I am most passsionate about.

So here is to Corporate America, you can have your money, and you can have your ego, I'll take my Teacher's Edition any day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

America Heart Bologna

Leave it to me to relate lunch meat to politics, but I had an experience yesterday that I can't keep to myself.

So I work part-time in a deli, and we can leave the details there, but what happened to me yesterday speaks volumes about life here in teh USA. So an older woman comes up to the counter yesterday and asks me for some Lebannon Bologna. And I said 'Excuse me?' and she said "LEBANNON" to which I replied, "Lebanon Bologna?" and she said yes. Now granted the relationship between Lebanon Bologna and the war raging right now between Israel and the Hizbullah is kind of a stretch, but hear me out.

This woman, this adult human being, could not pronounce Lebanon. Lebanon is the name of a country, a country that just erupted in violent war. And she couldn't even get the name of the lunch meat correct. What this says to me is that people are ignorant. Ignorant of the world around them, ignorant of their role on the world stage, ignorant of everything that doesn't show up on their doorstep and blow their heads off, regardless of how many other people are facing that very situation. So here is to the Israelies and Hizbullahs in Lebannon, even if bologna is the only legacy American's will ever know.