Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

It's very hard to believe that it was five years ago today. It was the second day of my third year of university. I'd hit the bars the night before, and was sleeping in before enjoying my first day of an all-afternoon class semester. In other words, life was good. My mother called me around 9am, and got my roommate to wake me up. When I got on the phone, my mother was in hysterics and told me to turn on CNN. I did, and couldn't believe my eyes, especially when I saw the first tower collapse.

Someone on MySpace was saying if you ever think things are bad now, look back to 9/11 to realize how bad it was then. As horrible as 9/11 was, I disagree with that statement. Remember the days and weeks shortly after 9/11 we were all united? Most of the world sympathized with us, and all of us Americans came together, regardless of race, gender, religious or political association. We backed a President who reassured us the culprits would be brought to justice, or as he said "justice would be brought to them" (still one of my favorite Bush quotes).

OK, so what's happened since? Bush failed to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. He failed to destroy Al Qaeda and, in fact, a British report last year said their membership is at an all-time high. Our civil liberties have eroded, our economy has been on a horrible slide. The job market is weaker than it's been in over 25 years. We've been ringing up record defecits. Oh, and not to mention this mess Bush has made in Iraq. We're spending billions to open schools and hospitals in Iraq while several schools in New Orleans are still waiting to be re-opened. And if you think we Americans would come together through all this adversity the way we did on 9/11, you're wrong. We're more divided today than I have ever seen us before. Democrats jump on every mistake Bush makes, even though it's justified most of the time. Republicans defend every decision the President makes, even though most of the time his decisions are indefensible. It's almost as if the logo of the Republican Party should have a sheep instead of an elephant.

Can anyone really look back to 9/11 and say that was worse than anything that's happened since? Keep in mind that while a lot of people had personal connections to the people who died that day, that comprised well under 1% of the total population. Well I'm sure that, for the family and friends of the victims, there is no day more horrible than 9/11, for the rest of us, our beloved country has just been on a downward spiral every day since.

President Bush just doesn't 'get it.' The majority of his policies have hurt this country. His tax cuts sank us billions of dollars in debt while the economy they were supposed to stimulate sank.

The Iraq War has resulted in little more than thousands of Americans and Iraqi's being killed, and the destablization of Iraq, making it a haven for terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. His Patriot Act has eroded the civil liberties many Americans died for. He has pushed policy that would encourage more illegal immigrants to violate our borders. His administration has been led by questionable ethics by people like Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby. Christian fundamentalists like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have hijacked control of the political agenda and used it to try and force their extremist agenda on the American people, with full support of the White House.
And through all this, Bush smiles and laughs and waves as though nothing is wrong. And when the facts clearly suggest he's made a mistake, he denies it or shifts the blame. Is he dillusional? Good leadership demands accountability, and with this administration there has been none.

So 9/11 for me is sad for much more than just the tragedy of that day. It's sad for me because it marked the beginning of a downward spiral for our country that is still happening today. My hope for our country is that 2008 will see a new leader, Democrat or Republican, who will restore this country back to sanity and prosperity. Bring it back to the middle. Regain control from the scumbags who are running it now. Unite us like we were right after 9/11. And bring us back to being the country we were on 9/10.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A Tidal Wave of a Rant

By now, everyone knows about the horrible tragedy that hit Asia a couple of weeks ago. Over 150,000 dead, as many as a million people left homeless. It's tragic, it truly is, and as unsympathetic as this rant is about to turn, I really feel horrible for the people who were affected by it, but....

Seriously, am I the only one who is SICK of hearing about this on the news, SICK of seeing the Canadian and American governments pouring tens and hundreds of millions of dollars into reliving countries filled with people trying to kill us? It goes beyond that though, the whole situation is just insane. I agree we should do something to help them out, but let's remember one thing when all of us are rushing to donate money as individuals to the people over there:

Charity Begins at Home.

Maybe I find it a bit hypocritical that the same yuppies who are donating $ 50 to the Red Cross, Unicef and other for-profit charities to help the people left homeless by the tsunamis are the same people who would step on a homeless person in downtown Toronto before they would give them a buck for a coffee. Of course I feel bad for the people who lost their homes and their families, and even their 10 cents-an-hour job with Nike as a result of the Tsunami, but at least their homeless dont' have to battle -30 winter nights like the homeless in Toronto do.

That being said, it's clear that some people would rather do more for people halfway around the world who they have never and will never meet than their own neighbor. Some people feel guilty for living in a industrialized, prosperous, western superpower. I sure as hell don't, but some people do. And with that guilt comes some idiotic sense of responsibility to need to help those who weren't as lucky as us. And they're idiots too, because there are far more important and devastating crises affecting the world right now that do not make the nightly news ever, let alone every day. And no one's holding telethons to raise money for the people affected by these crises.

Over the next decade, 30 million people will die of AIDS in Africa alone. That's the equivalent of the entire state of California being completely wiped off the face of the earth over the next decade. They will lose three times as many people in one day as we did on 9/11. Every two weeks, they will lose as many people as the tsunamis killed. The African countries affected by this disease are too poor to be able to educate people about AIDS prevention or afford American drugs to stop AIDS. Why are the same governments who are pouring money into the Asian crises by the tens of millions being stingy with helping the African AIDS epidemic? How can Pfizer dump $ 30 million in cash and medicine in Asia but they can't lower the cost of their AIDS drugs so African nations can afford them?

I'm sorry people, but it's time for a little reality check here. While it's certainly commendable that your hearts and prayers and money are going overseas to a bunch of people you've never met, it's hypocritical to do so while you remain completely ignorant and unsympathetic to the problems of people in your own backyard, as well as people who are suffering far more in other parts of the world. Even sadder is that the level of sympathy you have for a crisis is dependent on the amount of media coverage it receives because without that media coverage, you'd have no idea what the hell is going on in the world you live in or how you're supposed to feel about it.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Bush Wins, America Loses.

Even though in all honesty, I don't think my life will be overly affected by Bush getting re-elected, I am extremely disappointed in the election's outcome. I think that's one of the key differences between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans tend to vote based on their own self interests (i.e.-who will give them lower taxes), while Democrats tend to vote based on the country's best interests (i.e.- who will create more jobs). So even though I know Bush getting re-elected isn't necessarily going to make my life worse, I know overall it's going to make us less respected around the world (particularly in the middle east, fuelling a new generation of Bin Laden's), hurt our economy and workforce, further erode our civil liberties, and much worse.

Of course, those things won't effect me personally because I'm white, male, straight, and financially comfortable. In other words, I'm the only type of person Bush cares about. So he's not going to do anything to make my life shit. But as a Democrat, I have a tendancy to look at the broader picture and care more about what he'll do for the country as a whole, and for the less fortunate. In that respect, I hate to say, Bush will continue to degrade the quality of life.

Another fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans is how they view America. Both agree America is the greatest country on earth, but Republicans seem content to maintain the status quo, while Democrats recognize that being the best does not mean we're perfect, and strive to move us closer to perfection by trying to fix our social problems, like poverty, health care, etc...

The last fundamental difference I've noticed the last little bit, especially today, is that Republicans somehow feel that because they got 3% more the votes, it means their way is the right way. Rational people will look at that tiny margin and see it for what it really is - that we have a terribly divided country. Divided on many things with the exception of love for our country and the desire to improve it. Because 58 million people embraced your candidate does not mean the 55 million who did not should be ignored. However, like Bush's empty promise to "unite the country" after the 2000 election, I feel any pledges to reach out to those 55 million will just be lip service.

A lot of Americans I know said if Bush wins, they'd move to Canada, most of them half-jokingly. Well, I've lived in Canada, I grew up there, and I'd rather live in the US under a horrible leader like Bush than in Canada under any leader. I love the United States, which is why Bush's re-election hurts me. I know with four more years of Bush we will drift further away from the country and the ideals that once made us the envy of the world. We're no longer the country that millions of people like my Great Grandparents left their families and homelands for to immigrate here in the early 20th century. We can no longer promise every man, woman, and child the American Dream because in the last four years Bush has made that dream increasingly exclusive to the fortunate few. But the American Dream is still alive, it's just an awful lot harder to achieve today than it was four years ago, especially if you're a minority or don't come from the upper middle class or above. Hard work used to mean success, today it just means you have a better chance at merely 'getting by.'

We have a lot of problems in this country, no doubt. And we're going to have a lot more in the next four years because of the outcome of this election. However, America is still the land of opportunity, even if those opportunities become increasingly difficult to reach with each passing day of the Bush admistration. But they're still there. And until they become out of reach, America will be, for the time being, the greatest country on the face of the earth.

Maybe I'm an idiot for remaining so idealistic and hopeful in the wake of one of the worst tragedies in American election history. Maybe I'm being too positive. Or maybe I'm just in a good mood because I saved a ton of money on my car insurance by switching to Geiko. I think what it really is is that I believe in America, even though it's harder to today than it was yesterday, and will be even harder to the next four years. I believe what we're all about cannot be destroyed so much by one man in four or eight years that it cannot be restored by another in the same time. And what makes me believe that more than anything else is because I remember the incredible thing America was during the Clinton years and believe it will be once again.

Doesn't this just say it all....

Monday, October 11, 2004


"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success."

This is by far the best quote I've ever seen in my life. If even a quarter of us can achieve a fraction of the type of good that this quote suggests is essential for true success, imagine the world we could live in. Ghandi once said you should "be the change you want to see in the world." However, for various reasons (poor political & social leadership, eroding social values, more emphasis on financial success, etc...) we have become a society that tends to settle for the same instead of fight for change. It's a personal choice within each and everyone of us, and it just seems like we're too lazy to put the effort in to create real change, and with it, a better place to live. Maybe I'm just being idealistic, but only in a society like we live in today could that be considered a bad thing.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Lament for the end of the summer...

And so another summer is officially over. Is it just me or do they seem to go by faster each and every year? I don't get it. I wasn't as busy this summer as I have been in past summers, so I figured it'd go by slower and now, here we are, September already.

This year is especially weird because its the first time in a very long time (like twenty years) that I haven't had to go to school. I'm finding it pretty boring. I never thought I'd say this but I actually miss school. What's wrong with me!!! I don't really know what I'm going to do with myself. Maybe I should start seriously looking into grad school, not the BS programs at Humber I've been thinking about. I don't much confusion! And here I thought I'd be glad to finish school when I graduated from Guelph. *sigh* Oh well, what can you do. P.S.-hey summer, next year stick around a little longer, OK? Thanks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Those in white houses....

Despite attempts from the right to downplay John Kerry's Vietnam servive, we should not dismiss the difference the candidates' military experience so quickly. A significant part of the job of President is the role of Commander-in-Chief of our military. Someone's military record (or, in Bush's case, lack of) speaks directly to their qualifications to be Commander-in-Chief. If a newspaper was hiring an Editor-in-Chief, a candidate with previous journalism experience would be more qualified over one without. In this election, John Kerry's military experience makes him more qualified to be Commander-in-Chief than Bush, simple as that. Kerry has seen the horrors of war first-hand, and as a result, I believe he would be less cavalier about sending our troops into harm's way than someone who has not seen these horrors, ie - Bush.

Ironically, this was the GOP's argument in 1992 and 1996 when they ran Bush Sr. and Dole, both decorated WWII veterans, against Clinton, who, like Bush Jr. and Cheney, avoided Vietnam. Unlike Clinton, Bush and Cheney supported the Vietnam War, which also makes their avoidance of service hypocritical. However, even if you discount all the arguments I have made above, consider one, simple and powerful fact that comes from the military records of the two candidates - John Kerry has proven that he is willing to die for the United States of America, George W. Bush has not.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Bleeding Republican Red Ink

This is probably one of the better quotes I've heard in a while:

"All conservatives are such from personal defects. They have been effeminate by position or nature, born halt and blind, through luxury of their parents, and can only, like invalids, act on the defensive." - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

The current Republican party and their loyal followers really seem to fit this quite by Emerson. So many today are self-centered, thinking about the party which serves the greater good to their personal interests, as opposed to the interests of the country as a whole. The rich support the GOP because they are more tax-friendly to the wealthy, at the expense of fiscal responsibility. The top three deficits in American history belong to, in this order:

1. George W. Bush, 2004 - $ 477 billion (based on Congressional projections at the beginning of the year)
2. George W. Bush, 2003 - $ 374 billion
3. George H.W. Bush, 1992 - $ 290 billion

The biggest knocks against Democrats by their opponents has always been that they are fiscally irreponsible and pander to the lower and middle classes (who make up an overwhelming majority of the American population but possess an overwhelming minority of America's money) which results in "class warfare" against the rich. See, thats not really true. Yes, Democratic policies do tend to focus more on the people with less money to help empower them to higher socioeconomic levels. And you know what? They've been successful at doing it. Here's two other things the Democratic Clinton Administration was successful at - creating surpluses and millionaires at record levels.

When Clinton left office, he left a projected $ 837 billion surplus over the next ten years. Considering three Republicans from the Bush family hold the largest defecits in American history and Clinton holds the largest surplus, kind of refutes the whole image of Democrats being fiscally irresponsible, doesn't it?

If anything, Republicans, especially the modern-day versions, are the party of fiscal irresponsibility. During Bush's first term, Clinton's surpluses would have resulted in over $ 100 billion in surpluses for Bush. Bush squandered that surplus into tax cuts that mainly went to the wealthiest 1%, but even worse he actually put the U.S. back into deficit mode with two more rounds of reckless tax cuts that mainly went to that richest 2%. And now, he wants to make them permanent!

What about 'class warfare' against the rich? Well, Clinton has gone against providing tax cuts for the wealthy. Why? Because they don't need them. Personal wealth grew quite sharply during the Clinton administration, and there was also a record growth in the number of millionaires in the United States in the late-1990's. So Clinton waged war on the upper class by increasing their population?!? It simply doesn't make sense. What did make sense was that the taxes for HNWI (high-net worth individuals, or people worth more than $ 1 million USD) was fair, particularly in comparison to the reasonable cost of living in the United States. With increasing number of people becoming HNWI's thanks to Clinton's economic policies, more taxes were being collected which were going to increased social programs and opportunities to people in the lower classes as well as the surplus. More opportunities for people at the bottom of the income level means more likelihood that more of them will one day join the ranks of the HNWI's.

Then came Bush. The problem with Republicans (well, one of the problems) is that they pander to the wealthy. Even though HNWI's in the United States can live very comfortably with Clinton's tax rates, Bush wanted to keep his "base" supporters happy by giving them more money out of the surpluses that should have gone towards things like education, health care, and social security. But instead they turned into tax cuts, the majority of which went to the wealthiest 1%, not once, not twice, but three times, and we found ourselves buried in deficits again.

While its horrible that Bush is giving so much money back to the wealthy, and has rung up record deficits to do so, the absolute worst part of the deficits is that they are not being rung up to accommodate increased spending where we really need it, health care, education and social security. And that, to quote an old criticism Republicans had of Democrats, is "fiscally irresponsible."