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January 4 2010

Anyone that says voting is worthless is just cynical and proving nothing. While technically it is true that presidential elections are based on the electoral college (which is a fundamentally flawed system of rounding votes up and down), the important thing about voting is that it is a barometer for the state of the nation. It doesn’t matter that my vote is equal to someone that is a horribly-informed voter during the election. What matters is what happens on the day of the election. And almost every vote is decided before people walk into the election booth.

For example, in 2000, half of the nation wanted Gore and half wanted Bush. Why? Because most people could really care less who won. The entire election appeared as though there were really only two options, and people weren’t that enthusiastic about either of them. The Democrats wanted Gore just because he was one of them and the Republicans wanted Bush for the same reason, but the voting block that actually decides these things was more or less ambivalent. So, that set the tone for the entire election cycle. Few people on either side were capable of changing their minds and the voters that mattered flip-flopped on a daily basis. So, in the end, the vote was so close that the electoral college was used *as it was designed* to subvert the will of the people.

In 2008, things were different. No matter how much fear-mongering the Republicans did, no matter how many lies they spread about Obama’s citizenship and connections to terrorism, no matter how many times they claimed that we would become a socialist nation, the majority of the voters that mattered (the moderates) leaned in one direction. The longer the campaign became, the more obvious it was that Obama was going to win. So, in the end, the vote was not close enough for the electoral college to manipulate the outcome. No matter how much the Republicans claimed otherwise, it was clear to everyone that they lost.

As an individual in a presidential election, your vote doesn’t really matter. That much is true. For every informed voter there is an equally uninformed voter. For every Republican there is a Democrat. For every person that casts a vote based on their values, there is a person casting a vote based on their prejudices. Your vote is equal to all others, technically. But it is not your vote that ultimately matters. What matters is that you vote. A person doesn’t not elect anyone. The people do. And you are one of those people.

Though voting may seem pointless to some, it’s the discussions surrounding the election and the lead-up to it that truly matters. And considering how few people actually vote, each vote is worth far more than one. For every person that does not vote, there is someone that votes for them. And if you’re comfortable letting other people vote for you, then by all means sit at home while “they” think for you.

November 5 2008

Yes We Did!

I wish I had something more interesting to say, but I’m still a little too excited to make thinky speak. I did notice one thing, though. When Obama gave his soon-to-be historic speech, it was after midnight on the east coast. Think about that for a second.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November.

November 17 2007

I know how this is going to make me look to some people, but I just stop reading certain emails when I realize it’s their attempt to convince me thatThe Revised Presidential Seal voting for Stephen Colbert is a waste of my vote. Is it because I’m intellectually lazy or obstinate? No. I just know from their opening statements that they are working from a premise I do not hold: the elections for president of the United States are legitimate.

I voted for the winner of the past three presidential elections, and Bill Clinton was the only one who actually got into office. And even then, I didn’t know what I was voting for, really. I just knew I didn’t like that weasel whose last name was code for a wimp, and I wanted a saxophone player in the office over him. Yes, that’s how deeply I thought about politics the first time I voted. Sadly, since I’ve become aware of politics and my world, I’ve participated in two of the biggest frauds in American history. Popular vote? That don’t matter none! We done had arselves a elekshun! Two-thirds of the nation doesn’t approve of the incumbent, and yet he gets re-elected? That don’t matter none! We already had arselves a elekshun! An’ besides, them terrists maht git us!

But, I digress…

Until I see proof that our elections have been overhauled, I can’t feel any regret for wasting an already worthless vote. I mean, our elections should (at least superficially) reflect the desires of the people, right? People will go on and on about the same things I used to say. Things like, “this election is too important to throw away.” Well, I’ve got news for anyone who thinks this election is too important: every election is too important to throw away. This is supposed to be a democracy, right? To me, the fact that the elections are rigged is the main issue, not which puppets or parties might be better suited to “run” this nation.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate their concern, and in the past I would otherwise be on their side. But I’ve seen and read things that have convinced me that the presidential election is a farce. And, therefore, all assumptions based on the premise that they are legitimate is just plain illogical. So, trying to convince me of the merits of a pseudo-democracy and an archaic electoral system is a complete waste of my time and theirs. I definitely see their point, but it’s just not relevant to me anymore.

March 9 2007

I received an email the other day from a family member that told a parable disguised as a political joke. It takes on a distinctly biased approach and misrepresents the other side completely. Annoyed and frustrated, I did the only thing I really could: I parodied it.

“Why Janice IS a Republican”

Janice was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn’t even have time for a boyfriend, and didn’t really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, “How is your friend Marina doing?”

She replied, “Marina is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She’s always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn’t even show up for classes because she’s too hung over.”

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don’t you go to the Dean’s office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.”

Janice, visibly shocked by her father’s suggestion, angrily fired back, “That’s a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I’ve worked really hard for my grades! I’ve invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Marina has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!”

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, “Welcome to the Republican party!”

And here is my version…

“Why Janice IS NOT a Republican”

Janice was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a liberally-minded individual, and among her ideals was the idea of raising taxes in a responsible and deliberate manner in order to redistribute wealth in a financially polarized society.

She was deeply ashamed for believing this because her father was a staunch Republican, and she had been raised to think that gays were evil, liberals were stupid, and poor people deserved their lot in life. But she was learning that most people, liberal and conservative alike, tend to spin the truth in order to fit their belief system. Based on the lectures she had received from her father and the occasional chat with her mother, she knew her father harbored a selfish desire to squander his earnings on petty materialism while ignoring the rest of the world’s problems.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to–among other things–higher taxes on the extremely rich and the importance of programs designed to help the less fortunate. He insulted her intelligence by ignoring her side of the conversation, cast doubt on the teaching abilities of a school that he continued to pour thousands of dollars into, and when he felt he was in danger of realizing some truth to what she said, turned the conversation around on her.

“How are your grades?” He asked.

Irritated by her father’s refusal to listen, she answered rather proudly that she had a 4.0 GPA. She let him know that it was tough to maintain, especially because the material was so monotonous and soulless. She felt like she was constantly studying, which was why she never got to enjoy her life like most other people she knew. She didn’t even have time for a boyfriend (which was actually fortunate because she was a lesbian).

Her father let her finish talking and then asked, “How are your friend Marina’s grades?”

She replied, “Marina is barely getting by with a 2.0. She’s a Chemistry major, after all. None of the classes I take are that intense. She studies more than I do, but still finds time to be social. She is so popular on campus because she actually interacts with other people, volunteering at the shelter and working part-time at the laboratory. Even though it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done, college is a blast for her.”

Her father, whose wisdom almost made up for the compassion he lacked, asked his daughter, “Well, why don’t you go to the Dean’s office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA. You know, like taxes.”

Janice, quietly irritated by her father’s completely unrealistic and unhelpful comment, responded, “Dad, I need actual advice here, not some half-assed and completely ridiculous suggestion! GPA is an indicator of a student’s ability to jump through the proper hoops, not how hard someone works. I study a lot for my grades, but I compared to Marina, I am taking almost childishly-easy classes. Besides, my GPA doesn’t reflect how society will treat me once I’m in the work force, especially since I’m a woman! Marina will probably be happier than me because she’ll get a career she actually wants rather than one prescribed to her by her family.”

Her father smiled, leapt to his feet, clipped his heels together, stared straight ahead, stretched his arm outward, and exclaimed, “Welcome to the Republican party!”

Janice got up and left to call Marina for drinks.

October 12 2006

It’s time to change the sheets!

Let the campaign for a new America begin! It’s not official yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start the groundswell of support. Sure, it’s a bit cynical of us to want a couple of television stars to run the nation, but if an actor can get elected as governor of one of the largest states and if a half-retarded fratboy can get elected president, who says Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are unqualified? Keep checking back and tell everyone you know about this site because there’s no way we’re getting advertising anywhere else.

July 26 2005

For the past half century or more, the ideal of a family in the United States was the nuclear family. Though the definition has changed somewhat to be more inclusive, it has not changed the fundamental nature of it. Ideal though it may seem, there are drawbacks to this type of family, which has likely led to its steady decline in popularity.

The image we typically have when we think of the nuclear family is a smiling husband, returning from a hard day’s work; a smiling wife, wearing her apron and holding a freshly-baked pie; and a young boy and girl, taking just enough time from their homework to look up and smile at the camera. Though this ideal became the norm in the middle of the last century, it was too restrictive of an idea to completely consume the whole nation, especially considering the wide variety of circumstances Americans encounter in life. As time progressed, its definition was slightly redefined to include any man, with any woman, with any number of children, living in a single household. Though this was more inclusive and accurate, it changed nothing about the fundamental aspects of nuclear families.

The initial appeal of a nuclear family was, to many, self-evident. The man of the household would spend a full day at work, the woman would spend a full day working on the home, and it would allow the family time in the evenings to focus on activities that would bring them closer. Also, since the U.S. was hardly concerned with agricultural concerns, many nuclear families had to be able to move when the jobs moved. A nuclear family, with the dominance seated firmly in the bread-winning male, would have relatively little financial difficultly making the move. With so much dependence on the head of the household to provide, it brought the family as a unit closer together, making it possible for them fend for themselves as a group. With a clearly-defined hierarchy and its ability to work as a single entity, it is clear why the traditional nuclear family was long considered ideal to many in the U.S. and Canada.

But all of these positive traits ignore several glaring problems. First of all, most of these advantages are dependent on the idea that the family be subservient to the male head of the household. He must also be able to consistently provide for three or more people, technically forever. In a real modern household, most families require the woman to also help with the bills by getting some kind of job outside the home. This creates the obvious problem of the wife doing double duty, working at home and working at work. Ideal though this may be to the man, there are obviously many women who do not find this appealing enough to enter (or remain, for that matter) into marriage. Aside from the androcentric problems experienced in nuclear families, the isolation of the family unit from the rest of kin makes the independence of the family unit problematically imperative. Young mothers are separated from the relatives that could help her physically and emotionally through the ordeal, leaving such care primarily up to hospital and other relatively impersonal care workers. And once the children are gone, the tradition of the nuclear lifestyle may be hard for the woman to break out of, leaving her a permanent housewife.

These serious problems with nuclear family structure, coupled with the increase of awareness about equality both in the home and in the workplace, have likely led to the steady decrease in nuclear households. Though it can be argued it is no more flawed than most other forms of families, the dynamic nature of personal relationships and other circumstances mean that more than one type of family may be needed to fulfill everyone’s needs. Though the traditional nuclear family has its flaws, in some cases it has proven to be a valuable method for establishing a family. Perhaps there is no perfect example of how all families should be, but rather, that there are several examples of families that may be perfect for some people.

July 25 2005

The issue of same-sex marriages has been a hot topic for many years, but not nearly as hot as it has been the past few. The most recent nation to legalize same-sex marriage is one that is very close to us, both physically and politically. On the 20th of July, Canada became the fourth nation to officially deem same-sex marriages the same as heterosexual marriages. With such a major influence so close to home, this decision could greatly influence the culture and attitude of the United States. Gay marriages have never been more relevant, and the entire debate is a sociological one. It has forced us to address the definitions of some of the most fundamental aspects of our society, and reopened dialogue about discrimination based on sexual-orientation. Sociologists can use data to reinforce or contradict popular opinion, which seems to be the driving force behind this entire issue.

The social problem with this issue can be viewed more-or-less in one of two ways. First of all, the perceived problem that many conservative or traditionally-minded people would use is that marriage is to be defined in the “traditional” sense as a union specifically between a man and a woman. From this perspective, same-sex marriage devalues the definition of a sacred institution. However, one quick look at the rest of the world, or in history books, reveals that there is no so-called traditional definition of marriage. It would seem, then, that the social problem here is the heterosexist nature of our society, not the threat posed to only a quarter of the population (Curran & Renzetti, p.235).

The Canadian Senate voted 47 to 21 to legalize same-sex marriages (5). Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Canada are the only nations in the world that currently recognize same-sex marriages (5). The Civil Marriage Act (which is the Canadian piece of legislation that effectively legalized same-sex marriages) consequently had the effect of amending eight of Canada’s federal acts (1). Same-sex marriages are now equal to heterosexual marriages, allowing them to get married at any courthouse or church in Canada (2). The Roman Catholic Church, which is highly opposed to same-sex marriage, is the most dominant religious group in Canada (3). The United Church of Christ (a church with 1.3 million members) became the largest Christian denomination to endorse same-sex marriage in the United States on July 4th, 2005 (4).

Many people fear that allowing same-sex couples to wed would weaken the institution of heterosexual, or traditional, marriages. Still others contend that marriage is not as sacred as it is believed. Traditional marriages exist in a minority of households, and more than half end in divorce (Curran & Renzetti, p.234). Traditional marriages have been legal since the formation of the United States, and same-sex marriages have never been legal, yet problems persist. It is therefore hard to claim that same-sex marriages have any bearing on the success of traditional marriages. Debate remains open on the issue, despite the lack of evidence. Meanwhile, lifelong partners are refused the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts in our society. The recent change in Canadian law could greatly influence American opinion on the issue.

The Bush administration has not responded specifically to Canada’s newest marriage law, but its position on same-sex marriages has been clear for a while. President Bush does not support legislation that would legalize same-sex marriages in the United States; in fact, he has proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. It is very likely that he, and his administration, feel the new law in Canada is flawed and potentially disruptive to their campaign to ban the same practice.

The reaction to the Bush administration’s stance has been as divided as any of the most controversial issues we Americans talk about. While Canadians see this issue as the divisive topic it is, distracting the populace from more important issues (5), Americans tend to keep the debate alive. And since this is a highly emotional and caustic topic, people find themselves clearly split along a single line. Many conservatives want to see Bush fulfill his promise to bring the Federal Marriage Amendment to Congress, while many liberals continue to push for the legalization of same-sex marriages. These two ideas leave no room for compromise, a hard position for a president to place its citizens.

The irony of the debate over same-sex marriages is that it seems that the main concern people have with it is unfounded. There is little or no proof that allowing same-sex couples to wed will disrupt the current institution of marriage. Heterosexual couples would be unaffected by same-sex couples, and proving otherwise seems so difficult as to border on impossible. Given this, it could be concluded that this a debate over nothing, except that this nothing keeps potentially millions of Americans from experiencing one of the fundamental aspects of living in our society. This cultural alienation becomes national discrimination when our laws reflect this prejudice. And now with our closest and most progressive neighbor is paving the way to a new shift in paradigm, putting extra pressure on the debate that may be a needless debate to begin with.

It seemed that, of the sites I visited that were biased in one way or the other, almost all of them were highly in favor of Canada’s decision. It is unlikely that all of these sites represented an equal cross section of opinion, as I could only find one or two of the dozens I searched through that were decidedly conservative. It could be that the reason there is not as much conservative news on the matter is because these news organizations are practicing symbolic annihilation of the issue. Perhaps they realize that the largest undefended border in the world is now between the United States and a nation that allows same-sex marriages.

Though it could be argued that the historical trend is moving towards a leniency of same-sex marriages, it could just as easily be argued that opposition to it is also gathering momentum. However, people who are opposed to these unions generally base their decision primarily on an emotional response. Once more studies are done on this sociological issue, perhaps it will shed light on this relatively-unexplored topic. Only then, with qualitative and quantitative evidence, will we be justified in taking severe measures. Limiting the rights of a minority for the good of the majority is a tough decision to make, and one we should not make lightly. At this stage most opinions on the issue are simply opinions, and few are based in actual knowledge (on both sides). Sociologists, and other scientists, can do their part to discovering and explaining the facts of the issue so that the populace can make more properly-informed decisions.

List of Works Consulted:
Curran, Daniel J.; Claire M. Renzetti. (2000). Social Problems: Society in Crisis (5th edition)
1. Liberal Party of Canada. Civil Marriage Act Receives Royal Assent . http://liberal.ca/
2. MyKawartha. Same-sex marriage legislation ‘a victory’. http://mykawartha.com/
3. MTV. Canada Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage. http://mtv.com/
4. Charlotte Observer. Church role is to welcome all. http://charlotte.com/
5. Washington Blade. Canada becomes 4th nation to OK gay marriage. http://washblade.com/
6. CNN. Vatican paper denounces gay marriage in Canada. http://cnn.com/
7. FOX News. Pope: Gay Nups a Form of ‘Anarchic Freedom’. http://foxnews.com/

July 13 2005

Red Oil Scare

China has made an unsolicited offer to acquire one of the largest United States-based oil company, which would essentially double its oil and gas output (2). The organization that is making the offer, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company, is a state-run organization of the Chinese government. Because of the cultural differences between the capitalist democracy of the United States and the communist state of China, it has created an uproar with a curiously xenophobic ring to it. After just a hint of a Communist threat to national security, Congress overwhelmingly passed a vote that called for an official review of the acquisition.

The reason this is relevant is because this is more than an economic issue. The social implications of the deal itself, coupled with the apparent problems associated with it, show that much is still to be learned about each other on both sides. Right now this kind of news is primarily found in the business sections; however, the sociopolitical dynamics of the situation make it an ideal topic for this chapter. It is laden with examples of how economics, politics, and power can create social problems.

While the motivations of the Chinese could hardly be clearer (that this deal would certainly benefit them economically), there is a certain section of our population is not so easily convinced. It is perfectly acceptable to be concerned with issues that could affect us economically, but the tone of critics is one that rings of baseless fear. It seems, most importantly, that these criticisms are based on social issues that are unrelated to the economic issue at hand. The issue is whether or not it would be beneficial to allow China to purchase Unocal, not whether China is going to use this as an opportunity to take over the country.

This purchase would be useful to the Chinese because they rely on coal and oil for 90 percent of their fuel. They have also agreed to a United States government-run review of the acquisition, and vowed to continue the flow to the U.S. (2). Whichever company wins the bid, Unocal or Chevron, stands to earn anywhere from $16 billion to $18.5 billion, depending on the winning bid (4). The second place bidder, Chevron, also has to face “numerous regulatory and political hurdles” should they even be chosen (1). Because the government of China is funding the CNOOC, they are able to outmatch all other bidders, which Chevron representatives point out is an unfair advantage (3).

The purchase of Unocal by the CNOOC is seen by some to be an aggressive move into the American economy (5). With an increasing concern about the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, the “loss” of a major oil company to the Chinese could create serious social problems. By far the most outspoken people who talk about the acquisition seem to be those in opposition of it, and most of them are politicians. For example, Joe Barton, a Representative from Texas, sees the Chinese takeover as a financial threat (2).

So far, the Bush administration has said very little about the matter except that they will not initiate a review until the deal is finalized (5). The social problem here is that China is a communist nation that deals heavily with the United States, primarily on a financial level. They have held Normal Trade Relations (formerly known as Most Favored-Nation) status for a quarter of a decade, which entitles them to looser restrictions on the exchange of goods.
The only reason certain nations, specifically China, are allowed to remain under this status is if they are given a presidential waiver on a yearly basis. China’s human rights violations in recent history have cause many people to protest against presidents granting the waiver, and every year since 1989 Congress has introduced legislation aimed at convincing the president to not sign it (6).

The perceived threat of Chinese takeover is evident in the language and actions of many people, specifically political leaders. Warranted or not, these are products of social dysfunctions, and should be addressed as such. Considering that these two cultures probably realize that they are dealing with people with different value systems, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that there would be some kind of discord. But this is really just a symptom of larger social issues, and not an problem as much in and of itself. The real issue is how this acquisition, which is very likely to take place, will affect life for people on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Politicians use their resources inappropriately when they play on the insecurities of people who may or may not be affected by a particular issue. In this particular case, they are only heightening suspicion towards foreigners and using our concerns about oil reserves against us. In the end, the outcome of this entire matter could be swayed by social factors more than by financial ones. Economies are a product of societies, and they are subject to the societies in which they exist. Therefore, they are occasionally subject to the fickle whims of society, not the steady rhythm of economics.

The media was very balanced on this primarily economic issue, and consequently very dry. Few of the articles were controversial or biased on the matter, nor did they really have the opportunity to do so given the nature of the subject. It could be that the facts are so straightforward that an opinion could hardly excite one’s passions the same way something like war or abortion does.

Which brings me to an observation I made on the FOX News web site. The author of the article states that one of the major concerns is that China could use their profits from Unocal to “accelerate development of their land- and sea-based military assets.” Then the next paragraph is a quote from an expert on China that states that, “China is not a military ally. It’s not a friendly country.” Alan Tonelson, whom the quote is attributed to, actually favors the deal by China; he only suggests we should stop to think though the long-term effects. His quote seems to have been placed to prove the author’s idea that the Chinese are somehow a threat. This seemed like a bit of sensationalism, with an air of subjectivity that is not supposed to be present in news.

It could be end on a perfectly positive note for both countries, allowing China to expand where it needs to expand while taking nothing from the United States’ economy. Or it could end up the complete opposite end of the spectrum, and we could find ourselves, as Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy put it, “on a collision course with Communist China (2).” The only true way to know how it will play out is to wait, observe, and study what happens. In the meantime, we simply have to pay close attention to the situation and see that it is resolved appropriately. The entire controversy (if it can be called that at this point) can be cleared up by realizing that the deal is probably history, and very little can stop it from happening now. Our nation should be looking for alternative fuel sources anyway, not pining after the ones we wish we had.

List of Works Consulted:
1. Reuters. China’s CNOOC eyes higher Unocal bid – FT. – www.reuters.com
2. Bloomberg. CNOOC’s Unocal Bid Is Threat to U.S., Witness to Tell Congress. – www.bloomberg.com
3. Forbes. CNOOC may raise offer for Unocal – report. – www.forbes.com
4. CNN. Unocal seen wanting more from Chevron. – www.cnn.com
5. FOX News. Criticism Widespread for China Unocal Deal. – www.foxnews.com
6. International Trade Data System. Most Favored-Nation (MFN). – www.itds.treas.gov

December 1 2003

A good friend and I were discussing Thanksgiving and I started to think about how it must look to other countries for us to have a holiday where we stuff ourselves full of food and roll around on the couch watching football.

You know, I can’t believe Americans even publicize Thanksgiving. It should be like some dirty secret. America is like the rich, fat uncle who doesn’t tell the rest of his family he’s livin’ it up because he knows they’re so pathetic and starving that he’d have to share.

Sure, we should give thanks, but unless we’re going to give other people the reason to give thanks, shouldn’t we be a little more descrete about it? Why do you think people in other countries hate us?

September 11 2003

When the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a farm in Pennsylvania were attacked, most Americans saw it as an attack on America itself. Sure, it all happened on American soil and killed many Americans, but the truth is that it wasn’t a direct attack on America alone. People tend to forget that the buildings destroyed in New York were part of the World Trade Center. Remember that when you’re waving your American flag in memory of September 11th, 235 of the people that died that day (excluding the terrorists) were from countries other than the US. Flag-waving is perfect fine and relatively harmless, but don’t fool yourself into believing that it makes you a good American. Remember, even terrorists know how to wave a flag.

The problem, as I see it, is over-nationalism. If you believe our country is great, I would have to agree that you’re quite right. However, do not let your alacrity for patriotism keep you from looking at the big picture. The reality is that we are a great nation, but we’re still full of and governed by human beings. Though we may hold certain people to a higher standard than the other, remember that they are as prone to making mistakes as you and I. Just because a person of authority claims something, do not assume that it is 100% correct.

I will not go off on our president, but the fact is he led us into war under false pretenses using our humanity against us. He knew that Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator, yet he did nothing about it until two years into his presidency. At what point did Hussein become such a threat to this country? The answer is: when the Bush administration decided he was. This illustrates that even good and well-meaning people can be led astray.

The reality is that Hussein shouldn’t have been in power. But, who are we to decide such a thing? Certainly he was not the biggest threat at the time. And, more importantly, what cost are we willing to pay? I sincerely hope that it isn’t as president Bush has said, that “we will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary.” This implies a whole spectrum of easily-abused measures, including unjust and immoral wars. If we are to become the world’s terrorist police, let us not fall into the terrorism business. Let us not forget that while we are undoubtedly the most powerful nation in the world, we would be better suited to be the most compassionate.

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