Saturday, September 22, 2007

Washington and Iraq

On Friday, the Senate blacked legislation that would have ordered most U.S. troops home from Iraq in nine months. This concluded a losing week for Democrats who failed to push through any anti-war proposal. The vote was 47-47 which fell 13 votes short of the 60 voted that were needed to formally close this debate. Democrats are understandably upset about this. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich), who sponsored the bill, said, “We’re going to continue to lose lives and squander resources while [the Iraqis] dawdle.”

Republicans squashed the bill because there argued that by removing so many soldiers so fast we would jeopardize the region and there would be dire consequences for the Iraqi people. Senator John Mcain (R-Ariz) argued that, “If we leave, we will be back — in Iraq and elsewhere — in many more desperate fights to protect our security and at an even greater cost in American lives and treasure,”

In light of this recent defeat of anti-war legislation, the democrats are beginning to worry that a bipartisan agreement is wishful thinking and the public are beginning to wonder if republicans are in complete control of the war effort.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bush won't answer questions about Israel air raid on Syria

Israel has asserted that North Korea has been aiding Syria’s nuclear ambition. On September 6th, Israel hit Syrian facilities. The Post quoted its sources as striking at night to minimize human casualties. George Bush refused to answer questions asked yesterday.
“I refuse to comment on the matter.” Israel has also refused to talk about the raid. North Korea has denied any cooperation with Syria on nuclear aid.

The College Game

It's that time of year; the college rush is beginning. we all know the massive amount of stress and work that lays ahead. There is so much to do with all the applications to fill out, tests to do and essays to write. When the acceptance letters finally come we are all going to be dead tired from the ridiculous amount of work it takes to apply.

Although the application process is all about getting the acceptance letter at the end, it seems to me that with all the chaos of the applications, tests and essays, the destination is somewhat twisted by the journey.

Think about how crazy the application process has become; I am sure that you are all aware of it. I am sure that you are also aware of the business that the college application process has become. First there are the tests which each cost an entrance fee. And then there are the application fees that can cost up to a hundred dollars a school.In the past few years, another layer of money spending possibilities has come into the mix. Now there are tutors that can cost hundreds of dollars who are supposed to help students through the process. there are also study books and essay writing books that will all add up. this economic factor of the college process is becoming, I think, a little ridiculous. It all seems like such a game. We all spend so much time calculating and scheming to try and get an edge on our essay and application so that we will get into that one perfect school.

But, what I think what we all need to remember is not to lose our heads and play the game as best we can. Those acceptance letters are the main part of this process so keep that destination in sight....

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cartoons of the Day

These are some funny little drawings that I thought were worth posting.....


What is News?

While I was talking to Mr. Doyle after school the content of the blog came up. A student who was in the classroom immediately said “People don’t want to hear about those things. People want to discuss OJ Simpson and how he was arrested again.”
I said, “That isn’t news.” And he replied, “Well, it’s news to the American people.”

I’m not a big fan of sensational stories sharing the same airtime as international politics, but ever since the Laci Peterson case, I’ve noticed more and more “news” stories that don’t constitute as news to me at all. The Peterson trial did not address an underlying social/ domestic problem that would have been enlightening. The first OJ Simpson trial at least addressed the role of forensic evidence in court cases. The focus of the Laci Peterson case over the depressing numbers of youth shot around the same time in Oakland made me angry.

I know the news want to widen their audience, but do they have to focus on sensational stories for such a ridiculously long time? I don’t think it’s fair for the families, the media input often influences the outcome of the trial, and it takes away air time from problems that can be solved.

Myanmar Protest

Two days ago, on September 18th, Buddhist monks in Myanmar marched in protest against the 500% increase in fuel prices. The date holds much importance with these monks because it is the anniversary of the State Peace and Development Council. A more commonly known name for Myanmar is Burma, which is still used to identify the country. Myanmar has been under military rule since a coup in 1962.

Around one thousand people were tear-gassed, both monks and civilians (including Muslims). Plainclothes police and members of the much-feared USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association) had followed the protest and photographed and videotaped the monks.

The government finds the monks as a huge threat. In 1998, the monasteries were a key role in a nationwide uprising against military rule. The generals are very careful with how they handle the monks.

Federal Government...How Far Should They Go?

There has always been a debate over the amount of power that the federal government should have. Starting with the construction of our government, through the slavery crises and still today, the feds, the states and the people still squabble over the range of federal power.

compared to the early years of our government, the national sector has branched out considerably in recent decades. the federal government has taken a greater interest in social programs and economic regulation and many agree that this has been beneficial to the country. but with the passage and renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act the government has branched out once again.

The controversy over the PATRIOT ACT comes mainly from the immense number of provisions that seem to limit individual liberties. The act grants the federal government and its agencies many additional powers in the areas of surveillance and detention. The wire tapping and search without a pre-obtained permit are two of the most talked about articles in the act that arguably have challenged individual rights. The government justifies the act by saying that all its provisions are necessary to maintain the safety and security of the USA but many rights groups are arguing that curbing civil liberties is never an option and is not an acceptable price to pay for security.

The debates continue and will eventually be reopened on the legislative floor when the 2005 renewal expires in 2015. but the big questions for US citizens is: Are civil liberties an acceptable price for national security?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gaza declared "Enemy Entity"

The two quotes I have heard more than any other today are:

Israel Declares Gaza “Enemy Entity” and Hamas officials say that Israel’s decision to close off Gaza is “a declaration of war”.

Israel states that the decision to cut back on electricity and fuel supplies may stop the daily rocket attacks coming from inside Gaza. These attacks have occurred regularly, attacking Jewish settlements, though they are not officially known to be coming from Hamas itself.

The Palestinian National Authority nominally governs Gaza, although in reality is governed by Hamas’ Gaza Strip Government. The airspace, borders and offshore maritime access are still controlled by Israel. Although Israeli troops have since withdrawn, people argue that it is still under occupation because of the restriction of movement.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum is outraged by Israeli’s decision stating “This is a dangerous escalation of the attempt to legitimize destroying Palestinian land, criminal behavior and bringing a humanitarian disaster on the Palestinian people.”

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice neither approved nor objected to Israel’s decision, but emphasizes the importance of not restricting basic humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

The decision is probably fortifying the notion among Palestinians and their Arab backers that Israel will overlook the cost to civilians and keep the U.S. from blocking them. Unfortunately, I do not think that cutting Gaza off of supplies will keep the rocket attacks from hitting Jewish cities. This cutting of supplies will hurt civilians more than the attackers themselves. It will make Palestinians more resentful and feel more justified of carrying out violent actions if Israel does not allow supplies through.

The U.S. will not try to negotiate with Hamas because it is considered a terrorist organization. He took over the Gaza Strip in June earlier this year. This will make peace talks more difficult to establish the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as separate Palestinian states.

Lebanon Lawmaker killed today

Today a car bomb went off near Beirut, Lebanon killing lawmaker Antoine Ghanem of the Christian Phalange Party, his bodyguards and five bystanders instantly. Around nineteen others were injured. The lethal bomb also crushed nearby cars and buildings

The White House places the blame on Syria because of the number of political assassinations against those who have been working to move Syria out of Lebanese politics. There are speculations that this assassination has to do with the upcoming November presidential election and the very slight majority of March 14 (yes, this is a political party, named about the date of the Cedar Revolution, the coalition of anti-Syrian political parties and independents in Lebanon). March 14 now controls 67 out of the 128 seats in Parliament. To elect a president for sure, they must have a majority of 65 members. Naturally, many lawmakers have been very nervous and have been out of the country. Ghanem had just returned to Lebanon two days ago.

Ever since 2005 when former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed, there have been numerous political assassinations and attempted assassinations. Ghanem was the forth anti-Syrian lawmaker and the eighth leader assassinated.

Parliament will meet next week for the first time in almost a year.

Shifting Positions on Iraq

The Iraq war has been a controversial topic ever since it began. Everyone in politics has contributed their opinion to the mash of ideas surrounding the faults, strategy and outcome of the war. Many lay blame on President Bush for starting the war and getting us into this mess to begin with and many continue to blame him for the demise of the whole situation. There also have been many ideas from politicians of where to go from here. These politicians include the 2008 presidential candidates, one of whom will eventually be making the decision to either pullout or continue the war. Barack Obama took a stand and said that the Iraq war “should never have been authorized and never have been waged.” Hillary Clinton said that if President Bush won’t end the war, “I will.”
These confident predictions seem to simplify the immense problem at hand. Although the idea of ending the war is a good one, it’s not as easy as Hilary Clinton makes it sound. As most of us know, we are in a big hole in Iraq. The country is in ruins from war, the Iraqis are trying to create a new government but are finding obstacles in every direction and insurgents still run the streets. This is a big problem. This is a big problem that can’t have been created by one person and will not go away when one new person steps into office. We can all predict that there will be months and months of debate on this topic but I don’t think anyone can really say what will happen in the future. It is true we need to bring our troops home but what will happen to the state of the new Iraq government. We want the new government in Iraq to be successful but can we continue to leave our troops there? Is it worth it? Is there an answer to the Iraq question?

Presidential Power

The President of the U.S has always been given the power to appoint many of the important figures in our government. But, with the recent failure of Alberto Gonzales, a whirlwind surrounds Bush's newest appointment Michael Mukasey. Mukasey was chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and though some liberals feel he is too conservative, some conservatives think he is a little too liberal. It seems that Bush has gone for a safe appointment this time in an attepmt to stir up as little trouble as possible. instead of choosing a side he seems to be choosing a moderate candidate. It will be interesting to see if it works out.

Bush's choice for the new Attorney General and Alberto Gonzales

Recently, Michael B. Mukasey has been nominated for the new attorney general. Though this has been widely accepted as a good choice, there has been suggestion that the focus should not be shifted off of Alberto Gonzales.

Gonzales was the first Hispanic to serve as the United States Attorney General. While George W. Bush was the governor of Texas, he was his general counsel, then as Secretary of State of Texas, then was on the Texas Supreme Court. From 2001 to 2005 he was a White House Counsel to the Bush Administration. Serving so long with George Bush has shed light on his lack of objectivity with the President.

Under his leadership, there is a question of whether or not he intentionally abused the USA Patriot act to find information of U.S. citizens. He was also not able to explain why seven attorneys were dismissed in 2006. He was not able to answer most of the questions before Congress due to his claims of ignorance.

His resignation was official on September 17, 2007. Bush, on the same day nominated Michael B. Mukasey. Does this nomination shift focus to a positive action Bush has done? Bush is still on good terms with Gonzales. Does this make Bush look more humane or nonchalant about the whole issue?

Youtube videos and Politics

Ever since the campaign of 2004 I’ve seen numerous of parody videos featuring Bush. He’s been in several animations, videos comparing him to a monkey and lip-synching to songs such as Bloody Sunday. It’s no wonder that comedians such as Jon Stewart have been accused of reveling in the absurd glory that is the Bush Administration. Most of these parodies ignore the complexities of situations and have caricatured Bush into an idiotic cowboy. Bush isn’t the only person who has been taken into the loving hands of artists and comedians. Gore has been featured in Futurama, Kerry has been showcased side by side with Dubya and Senator Craig has been singing “If you were Gay” with Avenue Q puppet Nicky.

There have been serious videos too. The angry rants are probably ignored except for those who agree with them. Presidential Candidates have Youtube accounts and have posted videos stating their point of view.

The question is: Do these media outlets improve or worsen voter involvement. On one hand, these videos do bring a fun way of sending simple messages to a large number of people. They might motivate viewers to search out more information. But, they also simplify people to a point where most of the comments on the Presidential Candidate’s videos are variations of “You rox my sox!” or “U suck” or “ Ron Paul for 2008!” When searching for Barack Obama on Youtube the top video was the song “I have a Crush…On Obama”. Not many of these serious videos are seen either. While “I’ve got a Crush on Obama” got over three million views, three hundred thousand for a serious video is on the high side.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another Angle to the Health Care Debalcle

I thought this was a funny cartoon. But, it depicts an interesting problem in our society: the influence of big business on government regulations. it will be interesting to see how much influnce big insurence companies will have on the formation of a new health care policy.

--Kelsey M.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Blog title

Initially I wasn't too fond of the blog name because it carries the notion that high school students are inherently blind to the world of economics and politics. Was this name offensive to the blind themselves? Do they like having a part of their identity to be synonymous with ignorance? But the word food gives substance to the phrase. Food, unlike sight, is necessary to survive. With all the media eye candy that magazines, television shows and Youtube shorts throw at us, focusing on what is happening and why is refreshing.

Perhaps we are blind because politics and economics don’t affect us directly. Not all of us have jobs, and even fewer of us have families depending on our salaries. Even though we blame George Bush for entangling us in a “war” in Iraq, none of us were drafted to the military. Yes, we have lost loved ones, but it didn’t compare to the ubiquitous effect the Vietnam War had in the Sixties. It is harder to be aggravated about a war that doesn’t affect our everyday lifestyle.

'08 Race + Health Care

As the 2008 election year approaches, the candidates are each scrambling to create their plans of action and we can already see some difference between the republicans and democrats. The two parties seem to be sorely divided over whether health care should be a national, state or individually centered program.
On the democrats side, Hilary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama require all Americans to have health care. According to the “Wall Street Journal” Edwards seems to have the most liberal plan because his idea creates a basis for national health insurance. Meanwhile Obama’s plan differs from his competitors because the mandatory health insurance only applies to children. On the other hand, republicans like Mitt Romney and Rudy Guiliani have decided that tax breaks and individual insurance is the best policy. (According WSJ republican candidates John Mcain and Fred Thompson haven’t released detailed plans).

--Kelsey M.