Thursday, December 25, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Regarding "Are you outraged by Rick Warren?", I am outraged that some people do not believe that all people should have the same rights. I strongly support gay rights and the right of gays to marry.
I'm also outraged that some people have little tolerance for engaging others in a dialog and want to shut out those who do not hold the same beliefs. I believe in diplomacy. We must bring different sides together to engage in discussion and reach a peaceful resolution.
Thus I believe Obama is right to have Rick Warren at his inauguration and to stick with this decision even though it outrages some. I still believe that Obama is going to be more centrist than many give him credit for. He needs to be a unifier to accomplish what the US and our world needs accomplished. We need a leader who can build trust among those who may disagree, not one who will force others to see it their way or the highway.
Obama knows what he is doing. Having Rick Warren give the inaugural invocation is a difficult yet good choice. It is time for us to move on and build bridges, not isolate each other and build more walls.
The time will come, hopefully sooner than later, when all will recognize that gays have a natural right to marry. That day will come sooner if more engage in dialog so that each recognizes others as humans too, instead of hate speech which brands one group or the other as this or that thus exchanging dialog for shouting matches where neither side can listen to the other.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Obama's approach is right on the money. We must build ourselves up to improve our country and our world -- instead of knocking others down as George W. Bush and the Republicans were fond of doing (as in Iraq).
Those "Borrow and Spend" Republicans deserve to be in the dog house for a very long time. Obama has tons of challenges ahead thanks to the multiple messes that the Republicans have created: The Economic Collapse, The Iraq Mess (due to lack of good regulation, over spending, over borrowing, making war on others, negative campaigning, etc).
Obama's team is looking very good and has been masterful in keeping a steady stream of positive developments flowing as he approaches the presidency. Obama built up more goodwill for the United States in the eyes of the world during his campaign then Bush did during his entire 8 years. Obama is getting more accomplished for the US in the time between his election and his inauguration than Bush did during his entire 8 years. If Obama keeps this up, he will be one of the best Presidents in US history.
More Americans lost their lives in Iraq then due to all Al Qaeda terrorist activities combined.
The goodwill the rest of the world had toward the US after 9/11 and prior to the Iraq war reversed itself in disgust as a direct result of the Iraq war.
This one small act of defiance, resonates not just in Iraq but across the world.
Read more in the NY Times at: Iraqi Journalist Hurls Shoes at Bush and Denounces Him on TV as a ‘Dog’
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
See: New report slams U.S. reconstruction of Iraq: report
Read more at in the Dec 11, 2008 NY Times article Proposed Web Filter Criticized in Australia.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Corruption is a huge problem worldwide. The US has some but relatively little overall. In many other parts of the world it is common place. If a system allows it to happen, or even worse encourages it, it will happen. Systems (political, financial, legal) must either be transparent or have a good mechanism of checks and balances to prevent or at least minimize corruption. The US has pretty reasonable political, financial, and legal checks and balances. Yet it still is not enough to completely stop corruption as evidenced here.
I'm happy that at least one serious academic, notably Larry Lessig, has decided to study corruption in detail. Although his focus is more on the everday sort of corruption vs the blatant corruption that is evident in the case against Illinois governor Rod R. Blagojevich.
Read more in the 12/10/2008 NY Times article: Illinois Governor Charged in Scheme to Sell Obama’s Seat.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
In an earlier blog post I lamented the tendency for many to discount people who are well educated, particularly in politics. Well with more great role models like Drew Gilpin Faust and Brack Obama, I have hope that the class of well educated people will restore its good name. Well educated people are necessary for our country's future success.
Some highlights for Drew's speech [with a bit of commentary from me]:
Despite the economic downturn, Harvard will continue to provide generous financial aid to students. If you are qualified and admitted, you do not need to worry about affording a Harvard education. [I experienced this personally as it was less expensive for me to attend Harvard in the 1980's than it was to attend my state school.]
Harvard has some unique opportunities to foster cross disciplinary research between it's many schools. Rather than separate segments, Harvard is establishing networks connecting different disciplines. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Drew is coalescing "one" Harvard rather than letting the multiple "flat bottomed tubs" (schools) continue somewhat independently. [I believe we have reached some practical limits in what many separate disciplines can accomplish on their own. Cross-disciplinary teams are necessary to springboard to the next level.]
Further supporting cross-disciplinarian approaches, one of the challenges we face is figuring out how to better organize our knowledge -- keeping it in separate baskets does not work so well anymore. Harvard will play an important role in translating knowledge into the wider world.
Drew and others also commented on the greening of Harvard, the importance of Global Health, how we fund science appropriately in an era of decreased federal funding, the conundrum of mental health vs prisons, and studying abroad (becoming Global Citizens).
Drew is one impressive lady. I'm very glad she is the new president of Harvard. She is a breath of fresh air. [Speaking of which, you can hear her on her Jan 9th, 2008 "Fresh Air" interview.]
Dear Fellow Constituent
The George W Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations. The Library will include:
- The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
- The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.
- The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
- The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
- The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
- The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
- The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
- The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
- The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
- The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your first visit, they make you to go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.)
- The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.
- The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
- The Supreme Court Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
- The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
- The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
The library will also include many famous Quotes by George W. Bush:
- 'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'
- 'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
- 'Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.'
- 'No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine.'
- 'I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.'
- 'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'
- 'Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.'
- 'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'
- 'The future will be better tomorrow.'
- 'We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.'
- 'One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.' (during an education photo-op)
- 'Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.'
- 'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'
- 'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
- 'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.'...George W. Bush to Sam Donaldson
Jack Abramoff, Co-Chair G.W. Bush Library Board of Directors
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
But I'm now inspired by the social networking occurring on both change.org and change.gov -- one in the nonprofit sector and the other for our US government. Both are engaging people directly to make a positive difference in our world and foster dialogs about improving our world and our government. I like this trend and have faith that it will continue to grow and blossom under Barack Obama's leadership. I hope those of you reading this will engage with both change.org and change.gov.
BTW, in my eagerness to send info about both to many friends, I inadvertantly conflated change.org and change.gov together by accident. Sorry about that. All this positive change just got me too excited!
Just look at who he has appointed as his national security team (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/02/us/politics/02obama.html?8au&emc=au). He took a centrist approach and picked the best qualified people from both sides. He wants to engage in dialog with other smart people, not just surround himself with those who are vulnerable to "group think." He is not afraid of differing opinions but embraces them so he can be in the best position to choose the best path, not the convenient path.
Watch Rania's videos and you'll know what I mean. Arabs, Muslims, Jews, etc, we are all real people.
For more, check out:
So far, Obama is living up to his promise of change and it is a tremendous breath fresh air.
For more, read the 12/1/2008 NY Times article Obama Puts Change.gov Under Creative Commons.