Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ironic isn't it

I am working on my final paper now and my last posting was when I was working on my midterm ones....scary!

My short musing for the day:

Dear Senators Clinton and McCain,

I think that your push for repealing the gasoline tax for the summer is really admirable but you both forgot one small detail....You AREN'T president yet and I sincerely doubt the Bush administration cares what you say because they are busy trying to screw up Syria. In conclusion, thank you once again for your wonderful suggestions that won't make it to policy because you jumped the gun again.


That is all!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I'm supposed to be finishing my paper but...

there are people on the radio railing on about how the French are going to overtake the American way of life. Actually they are mostly Boeing employees who are angry that the U.S. Air Force made a deal to buy Airbus planes rather than Boeing. Let's think about why this might have been, oh I don't know, maybe Airbus is CHEAPER?!?!? or maybe they have better quality for what the Air Force needs. I was truly embarrassed when some of these men started talking about how they were "so appalled" at how their country could be betraying them and the troops. I don't think these are the reasons that the Air Force didn't go with Boeing.... maybe they were looking at their bottom line for ONCE.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another NPR story that got me excited

Geraldo Rivera is my new hero!! He has recently written a book about illegal immigration in the U.S. called
His Panic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S. It actually sounds really good from the NPR story and I really think Geraldo has made the transition back to real journalism and left his slummy talk show days behind.

You would think that when I moved to DC, the place where all U.S. policies for everything are made, that this would be an issue people talked a lot about. Boy was I disappointed! I think if I worked on the Hill I would hear a lot about it but since I don't, I don't feel that many people on the street hold this as their hot button issue. It is such a change from CA.

One other thing Geraldo said that almost made me stand up and clap: he mentioned that people in the U.S. who are really outspoken against this issue tend to forget that they are the children and grandchildren of immigrants and they should be more sympathetic to illegal immigrants. Although I am not sure I completely support illegally coming to the U.S., I agree that people tend to forget their familial history and don't realize that they should be sympathetic to new immigrants. As someone who is proud to be a third generation U.S. citizen on one side of my family, I always remember how difficult it was for my own family to make it in this country and I always try to hear both sides of the immigration story because all my ancestors were immigrants at one time.

that is my two cents for the day...have a good one!!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I'm back!!!

Hey Everyone,

I am finally back from a grad school imposed silence....non-stop reading, writing, and working isn't conducive to writing anything extra for fun. I will continue to maintain my focus on U.S. domestic politics and international politics as I like nothing else!!

Today on NPR I heard the most appaling thing about the U.S. elections I have heard in a while. A woman from Houston was interviewed about who she wanted to vote for and was quite hesitant about talking about her fears for Obama. The first reason she was frightened for him made sense to me. She feared that silent racists in the U.S. wouldn't vote for a black man (even thought he is half white....). This makes complete sense to me as this is one of the last major race taboos that the U.S. needs to get over.

The second one made me sit up in bed and talk to the radio....again! She said that she was afraid that he would be assassinated because he is black. Wow I had never heard someone actually express such a sentiment. First of all, has she NEVER seen a Secret Service officer??? Those people are hard core scary and always make sweeps of places. I can understand this woman's fear of assassination if the Secret Service fail but they haven't failed since Reagan was shot by John Hinkley in the early 1980s. The Secret Service officers are extremely professional and vow to protect the president regardless of race or gender.

That's my two cents on conspiracy theories for the day. Have a good one!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Class of 2007: You Survived College, Now Comes the Ultimate Survival

For my parents’ generation, the greatest worry of graduating college students was obtaining their first “real world” job and staying out of Vietnam. My generation of college graduates faces a world where the Iraq War is always present in the news and in which terrorists may strike against civilians at any time.

Entering this world is quite frightening but the class of 2007 will be able to pull through. As potential leaders of our society, we will have to tread very lightly and carry more carrots than sticks if we will be able to have a positive impact and possibly solve the problems of our 21st century world.

The major difference between the world that our parents entered after college and the one the class of 2007 will enter is the structure of the international system. In the 1970s, international politics was entrenched in the bipolar rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. The competition between the two superpowers and the ideologies associated with each state was manifested in a nuclear arms race and proxy wars in the developing world.

The U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War was focused on the policy of containing the spread of Communism. The Vietnam War is the epitome of using the U.S. military in order to enforce the containment policy. The U.S. Army sent military advisors and troops in order to support the “democratic” Southern government against the Communist Viet Cong who controlled Northern Vietnam.

Throughout the 1960s, the U.S. became more and more entrenched in the fighting in Vietnam. The U.S. military had initial success defending the South from Communist encroachment, but as the number of U.S. casualties started to climb, so did the domestic resistance to American participation. In the end, the U.S. lost the war when the Communists assumed control over all of Vietnam.

Although our parents lived with the threats of Soviet nuclear attacks and the spread of Communism looming over their heads, the bipolar rivalry had a few advantages. The American people knew where the attack on U.S. soil would be coming from and who would be firing the missiles. Also, the fact that nuclear war could complete annihilate the entire human population served as a powerful deterrent for either side to launch their arsenal of weapons.

With the end of the USSR in 1990, the international system suddenly lost the rigid structure that characterized Cold War politics and diplomacy. In the new multipolar world, the rules of engagement have completely changed. The new threats come from non-state actors, such as terrorist groups. These associations are not part of any legitimate governments and are not obliged to follow the code of conduct followed by these legitimate states.

These terrorist organizations do not have any responsibilities to maintain the rule of law and order. In fact, their purpose is to strike fear into the general population. The most frightening aspect about these groups is that they could strike anywhere and at any time.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001 were an example of how terrorists can strike at any moment. The unconventional means of attack displayed by the hijackers makes it nearly impossible for American intelligence agencies to predict when and in what form attacks will occur. Twenty-first century terrorists do not have organized munitions plants where they construct their weapons, as the USSR did during the Cold War. They use whatever they have on hand. The 9/11 hijackers used box cutters to take control of the planes. Suicide bombers use themselves as detonators.

During the Cold War, American families prepared for the potential nuclear fallout by building bomb shelters and stockpiling food. Although these actions may not have saved their lives, people were at least able to prepare for the possible attack.
Today, there is no sense of security walking through a subway or train station. The threat of attack can come from a single person who you can see, not a missile you will never see or hear coming. This makes it nearly impossible for any government, intelligence agency, or ordinary citizen to mount an adequate defense against terrorist groups.

The only thing that terrorist want us to fear now IS fear itself. The only way to avoid this trap is to remember that our parents went through a similar but not identical experience during the Cold War. They survived the cat and mouse game that terrorist groups try to play today. Their experience shows the graduates of 2007 that living in a world of uncertainty surrounded by ominous threats of destruction is possible if one keeps the fear from penetrating and controlling daily life.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Environment Goes Hollywood!

Concerns about and active participation in environmental issues, specifically global warming, climate change, and animal rights, have moved from the realm of granola eating, Birkenstock wearing, tree hugging hippies to the world of fashion aficionados and Hollywood stars.

After all, would you pay attention to a scientist wearing a white lab coat using long words in a monotone voice or would you be more inclined to listen to Pamela Anderson speak out in support of animal rights?

Global warming and climate change first appeared in the American consciousness thanks in large part to the work of environmental scientists in the 1960s. News reports about the environment told cautionary tales about the impending doom the Earth would face if people kept producing greenhouse gases. Sadly, these early warning messages generally fell on deaf ears because the American people were not willing to listen to these “alarmist” scientists.

The problem about global warming and climate change is that their effects take many decades to be noticed. Because global warming “causes an increase in the average temperature of the lower atmosphere” closest to the Earth, people don’t notice a dramatic change right away. Many of these same people dismissed the concerns of the scientific community as overly cautious and pessimistic.

Fast forward to the late 1990s. Environmental issues, such as climate change and global warming, were a major issue for the international community because their consequences have international implications. In December 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was finalized for signatures. This agreement was the first attempt at international cooperation on reducing the emission of greenhouse gases produced by industrialized and developing nations. To date the Kyoto Protocol has been signed by over 160 countries but the biggest contributor of greenhouse gases, the United States, has not ratified the agreement.

Although the United States government has yet to ratify this important environmental agreement, the debate surrounding the Kyoto Protocol thrust Al Gore, then Vice President, into the national spotlight. With his departure from the White House in 2000, Gore became more active with environmental causes. He embarked on speaking tours of colleges and in 2006, his book, The Inconvenient Truth, found itself on the New York Times Bestseller List. Gore also released a documentary of the same name in 2006 which won 2 Academy Awards, Best Documentary and Best Original Song.

Although Al Gore isn’t a movie star or Hollywood heavyweight, he is lending his political clout and name to environmental causes. Other Hollywood celebrities have been actively involved in environmental issues, such as Ed Begley, Jr. and Tom Hanks. Ed Begley Jr. promotes eco-friendly items such as the hybrid Toyota Prius driven by celebrities such as Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts. Tom Hanks advocates for the use of alternative fuels and drove an electric car in the early 1990s.

Another cause which celebrities are involved with is the movement for animal rights. One of the most famous (and infamous) animal rights organizations is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA has used celebrities as spokespeople in their various campaigns, including the ongoing anti-fur campaign. PETA runs ads in which celebrities and supermodels, such as Christy Turlington and Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend, are photographed nude. The caption underneath them reads, “I Would Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur.” This controversial advertising strategy has done its job: the American public is aware of the alleged inhumane behavior of furriers toward animals.

Pamela Anderson has been a major spokesperson for various PETA campaigns including the campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Allegedly KFC is killing the chickens which they serve in an inhumane way and PETA has called for a boycott of the fast food chain. Anderson has been the major spokesperson for the campaign and has mobilized some support from the American public.

Even though many of those supporters may have been enticed by Pamela Anderson herself rather than their love for chickens, she has used her celebrity status to bring attention to the plight of those poor chickens.

These trends of Hollywood activism suggests that some celebrities have decided to use their famous status to speak out against the ills of society instead fight for a table at Mr. Chow’s or club hopping on the Sunset Strip.

Although increased activism by celebrities for causes such as climate change, global warming, and animal rights have brought more exposure to these causes, I can’t help but wonder if the American public is capable of thinking by itself or does it need movie stars and politicians to lead the way? The answer to this question appears to be a resounding “Yes!”

I don’t think it really matters in the long run how the American public is mobilized. It matter that they ARE mobilized and actively supporting issues of national and international importance.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007