What We Really Think About Jobs, The Economy, And Politics

To those who care about the United States,

Much has been said lately about how college students and recent graduates won’t stand for Obama to be reelected because the economy has not improved and job prospects are bleak. Instead of finding our dream jobs, we are moving back into our parents’ homes. While some of that may be true, here is another truth: we are smarter than you think – and we realize that Obama is not solely responsible for the economy.

I am employed and I am enjoying my job. Is it my dream job? Maybe, maybe not: but it is certainly putting me on the right path, whatever that is. Many of my friends who graduated in the past two years are employed across the country in just about every industry. And many other friends are still looking for jobs. Some had jobs, but left to look for other work or get another degree – because we aren’t here to settle.

Maybe it’s a generational thing, but we don’t want just any old job. We want to be happy and feel like we are contributing something to society. Many of us are willing to remain unemployed longer if it gives us the chance to end up where we want to be. Sure it sucks, and we wish the economy was better, but we also know that we have a lot to offer and we know that our turn will come.

Conversation about the economy has been hijacked to become a referendum on President Obama. Some say that Obama must not be reelected so anything he tries to do must be stopped. Therefore, any efforts Obama attempts to improve the economy are doomed to failure, or at least limited success. It is Congress and the states that prevent improvements to the economy when they refuse to participate in Obama’s plans if said plans could help Obama in the election. This isn’t solely Obama’s fault. It is those who refuse to work together. And this is not a pro-Democrat or anti-Republican analysis. It is the facts. Research them. We did and we will continue to do so.

Our generation is not content to sit back and be told what to think and who to blame. We have too much information at our fingertips. We will use it. And we want to pursue more and more opportunities. We believe in our future and in the future of the United States of America. What we do not believe in is the partisan attacks that prevent useful governance and which prevent our country from actually solving its problems. We demand that politicians work together, compromise, and understand that they are here to do something. Represent us – the future. We have voted and we will vote for or against you because this is how the economy affects us.

Sincerely,

College students and recent graduates

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On MLK Day

On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

It is frustrating when people ask/complain why we get off of work/school for Martin Luther King Day, but then I realize that that’s the point: when everyone understands why we have the day off, we will no longer need it. On MLK day, I reflect on from where we have come and on how much further we have to go.

Before I started in the Social Justice Living and Learning Community at the University of Denver, I read Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Here is just one (of many) powerful quotes that are still true today:

We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
— “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963

Quick Note on Last Night’s State of the Union

So I am behind on posting again, but that’s the way life goes.  It seems that even a slow week in Winter Quarter is a busy week.

I thought the State of the Union was great last night.  Obama’s speech was on point and effective.  He discussed a number of initiatives that are important moving forward – including some that reached across the aisle, as it were.  Equally important, if not more so, was the symbolic act of Democrats and Republicans sitting together.  It seems like a simple thing but the atmosphere of the entire event was different because of it – and different in a good way.  I’d like to see more collaboration in the years ahead.  It’s the only way to actually get anything done.

I was disappointed though in the Republican response, given by Rep. Paul Ryan.  If fear mongering and apocalypse predicting were what we were grading speeches on then Mr. Ryan would have gotten an A+.  That was not, however, what was needed.  Apparently, Rep. Ryan did not pay full attention to President Obama’s speech either: President Obama spoke about plans to consolidate and shrink the federal government, yet Rep. Ryan accused him of planning to continue increasing the size of the federal government.  Somehow, he missed that one…

If you missed the State of the Union, you can watch it here:

What’s a Reince Priebus?

Well, Michael Steele is out as chair of the Republican Party.  This is big news because after just one term as RNC chair (one that included a number of disappointments for the Republican Party), he is being replaced by someone who it seems most people have never heard of – Reince Priebus.

Check out this hilarious video from The Colbert Report.  According to Steven Colbert, “hopefully, Reince Priebus will run with Senator Saxby Chambliss as part of the Chambliss/Priebus ticket.”

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Sarah Palin’s Latest Hit On Michelle Obama

Read this article.  While it is from the Huffington Post, with that site’s obvious political position, it is hard to argue with what the author concludes, even if his quotes are taken out of context.  Sarah Palin has a track record in this area already.

My conclusion: Seriously, Sarah Palin? I think you are the one who needs to get a better understand of “We, The People.”

Sarah Palin Slams Michelle Obama in Racially Charged Passage From New Book

Geoffrey Dunn

In passages leaked from her forthcoming book America by Heart, Sarah Palin — the erstwhile quitter governor of Alaska, who now, by all indications, fancies herself as President of the United States — has taken another cheap shot at First Lady Michelle Obama.

In a passage on perceptions of racial inequality in the United States, Palin slams President Barack Obama, who, she asserts, “seems to believe” that “America — at least America as it currently exists — is a fundamentally unjust and unequal country.”

And then she goes after Michelle Obama:

Certainly his wife expressed this view when she said during the 2008 campaign that she had never felt proud of her country until her husband started winning elections. In retrospect, I guess this shouldn’t surprise us, since both of them spent almost two decades in the pews of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church listening to his rants against America and white people.

The passage — coming on page 26 in a chapter entitled “We, the People” — echoes remarks made by Palin on the eve of the midterm elections, at a rally in San Jose, California, at which point she mocked remarks made by Michelle Obama during the 2008 campaign: “You know, when I hear people say, or had said during the campaign that they’ve never been proud of America,” Palin spat out. “Haven’t they met anybody in uniform yet? I get tears in my eyes when I see that young man, that young woman, walking through the airport in uniform…you too… so proud to be American.”

In fact, Michelle Obama’s remarks were made (in Madison, Wisconsin, during the 2008 campaign) in a context of Americans being “unified around some basic common issues”:

What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something–for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction, and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I’ve seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it’s made me proud.

Afterwards, the First Lady further clarified her remarks by noting that she was referencing the “record number” of young voters participating in the political process in the 2008 campaign:

For the first time in my lifetime, I am seeing people rolling up their sleeves in way that I haven’t seen and really trying to figure this out, and that’s the source of pride I was talking about.

The passages from Palin’s latest book first appeared at Palingates, where several other pages from American by Heart have also been posted. Palin followed up her comments about Michelle Obama by throwing an elbow at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, also focusing on racial overtones:

It also makes sense, then, that the man President Obama made his attorney general, Eric Holder, would call us a “nation of cowards” for failing to come to grips with what he described as the persistence of racism.

Midterm Elections / Quote #20

Think about this when considering the next leader you will vote for (if the possibility even exists today):

“He who follows such a pathway in unwavering cheerful service will be seen by many others and, by inspiration, lead them.” – Allowat Sakima

Christine O’Donnell: What Are You Thinking?

I was not going to post anything about Christine O’Donnell, but every time I hear news about her it makes me more and more worried that she will get elected.  I hope Delaware is smarter than that.

Below is a video in which Christine O’Donnell claims that Separation of Church and State is not in the first amendment.  While that exact phrase is not in the amendment, who hasn’t heard it before?  And is that not what everyone understands it to mean (including the U.S. Supreme Court)?  Anderson Cooper’s comments that follow are very true – and Christine O’Donnell’s comments are very worrying.  This is especially true for someone who claims to be a “constitutional expert” – based on a seven day fellowship with a conservative foundation.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hopefully, you’ve seen Christine O’Donnell’s ad claiming that she is not a witch, rather “I’m You.”

Seriously?  Christine, you are not me or anyone I know – and likely no one in Delaware, I’m sure.  If nothing else, none of us has to deny being a witch (A ridiculous claim in itself, mind you, that no one should have brought up as a serious issue for any candidate.).

SNL does a good job with this ad though:

Stewart and Colbert: Fixing America?

This may seem like a joke, but it isn’t.  Politics in America and the perception of what is happening in the country (promoted by America) have devolved into a game of name throwing, fear creation, and blame.  Interestingly, the government (I’m focusing mostly on the U.S. Congress, but this is broadly applicable) does not actually end up doing all that much.  You see, when politicians call each other names and degrade the positions of the other party to scare their constituents (as opposed to representatives actually representing their constituents), there is no chance for agreement on most policies.  The media has only made the situation worse.

Jon Stewart has announced his “Rally to Restore Sanity” to be held in Washington, DC on October 30.  Let’s make America sane again.  Stewart writes that the rally is for people “who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Logically, Steven Colbert must then have a counter rally.  His is the “March to Keep Fear Alive“.  Note that he is being ironic here – something that seems to have been lost on some people.  Colbert says that “America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear — that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I guess we will find out how effective these two funnymen are at raising awareness of the dismal state of American politics.  We can only improve.  I look forward to the (utopian?) day when politicians represent their constituents instead of themselves.

Politics, Society, Hobbes, And The Tea Party

In one of my business classes today, we discussed the Social Contract as a basis of society (some of the thoughts below are developed based on statements of my professors).  It is clear that this is true whether one thinks about company norms, the Bill of Rights, parliamentary procedure, codes of conduct, etc.  All of these, and more, are based, at some level, on the Social Contract.  Our current notion of the Social Contract is based on Rousseau, but some claim that it is “almost as old as philosophy itself”.  Regardless of its origins, the Social Contract is a negotiation of control between “man” and “nature”.

Law and structure are the basis of society.  Without them, we fall into a state of chaos, controlled by nature only.  When each is out for the self and there are no controls, moral or otherwise, it leads to the destruction of society.  Hobbes described this in graphic terms. When there is no Social Contract,

“…there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death…”
– Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan Chapter 13

The Social Contract extends to politics – although Hobbes says Hobbes is the primary reason for the Social Contract.  It seems as though our government leaders have forgotten how to be civil towards one another and perhaps, they need to reread the Social Contract.  I have read countless articles lately on the topic (most recently in Newsweek, I think?) and you would think that politicians would get the idea.  There is a reason public opinion of Congress is so low – and it is not just about the policies that are or are not being made.

Personality differences seem to have been exacerbated over the past year or so by politicians on all sides of the aisle.There really is no reason for this.  I cannot help but think though, that such (unnecessary) personal attacks seem to have increased with the invention(?) of the Tea Party.  Whether or not I always agree or disagree with the politics of the Tea Party, I certainly disagree with some of the Tea Party’s tactics.  They certainly are effective, but they are effective because these tactics exist in the world without a Social Contract.  They feed on the “state of nature” and contribute to the “the life of man” quickly becoming “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

Is one-state solution an answer to Greater Israel dreams?

The following article is from JTA.  It is an extremely interesting look at how Israeli politics and how openness to solutions is fluid.  I doubt a one-state solution would happen any time soon as it is a major departure from the recent (public) peace process trajectory.  Although, progress seems not to be being made so I guess most every option is worth exploring.

I guess we will see what comes of this…

Is one-state solution an answer to Greater Israel dreams?

By: Leslie Susser

JERUSALEM (JTA) — In one of the more curious twists in Israeli politics, prominent figures on Israel’s right wing have begun pushing for a one-state solution with Israelis and Palestinians as equal citizens with full voting rights.

The one-state solution previously had been the preserve of the post-Zionist left, Palestinian hard-liners and left-leaning European intellectuals who envisioned turning Israel proper, the West Bank and Gaza into a single state in which the Palestinians soon would become the majority and assume the reins of government.

For the overwhelming majority of Israelis, the idea has been anathema because it seemed to spell the end of the Zionist dream of a sovereign Jewish state.

So what has changed? In a word: Gaza.

For the new Greater Israel proponents of a one-state solution, the 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which they opposed vehemently, suddenly has become a strategic game-changer.

The single state they envision includes only Israel and the West Bank — an area of about 5.8 million Jews and 3.8 million Arabs. Without Gaza’s estimated 1.5 million Palestinians, the Jews would constitute a 60 percent majority in that territory — enough to preserve an enlarged Israel as a Jewish majority state for the foreseeable future.

As these proponents see it, there are several advantages to this solution: The settler movement would be able to keep intact its West Bank settlements; Israel would not have to withdraw from territory and expose itself to the sort of rocket fire it has seen from Gaza; and the international community would not be able to paint Israel as an apartheid state because the annexation of the West Bank would grant full citizenship and voting rights to West Bank Palestinians, perhaps putting Israel out of its international isolation in a single stroke.

While support in the Knesset for the one-state idea is limited, if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations make headway over the next few months, the one-state model could surface as a ploy to torpedo Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the dismantling of dozens of Jewish settlements.

For now its most outspoken advocates in the Knesset are Speaker Reuven Rivlin and newcomer Tzipi Hotovely, both of the Likud Party.

“I would prefer the Palestinians become citizens of the state than for us to divide the country,” Rivlin declared in a recent meeting with the Greek ambassador in Jerusalem.

The one-state idea gained currency two months ago when Moshe Arens, a former defense minister and foreign minister from Likud, penned a column in Israel’s daily Haaretz asking “Is There Another Option?”

Arens argued that it is patently obvious that there will be no two-state solution with the current Palestinian leadership and that the Jordanian option — returning the West Bank to Jordan — no longer exists.

“Therefore, I say we can look at another option: for Israel to apply its law to Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and grant citizenship to 1.5 million Palestinians,” he wrote.

Israel already is a binational state, with an Arab minority of approximately 20 percent, Arens wrote. Therefore, in his view, Israel could have an Arab minority of 40 percent and continue to function as a Jewish state.

The pioneer of this sort of one-state thinking is journalist Uri Elitzur, a former chairman of the Yesha settlers council and Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau chief during his first term as prime minister. Elitzur argues that after more than 40 years of occupation, the international community is tired of Israel and no longer will accept the status quo. In his view, Israel needs to do something to break the deadlock or face the prospect of growing international isolation.

The two-state model won’t cut it because the obstacles to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement are insurmountable, he says. Moreover, Elitzur insists, other one-state visions from Israel’s political right wing — such as annexing the West Bank and having the Palestinians who live there vote in Jordan, or according the Palestinians only limited voting rights for local government — will be rightly dismissed by the international community as occupation by another name.

That, according to Elitzur, leaves the unitary democratic state — with Israelis and Palestinians enjoying equal political, social and individual rights — as the only option.

There should be no misunderstanding, Elitzur cautions: He is talking about a Jewish state with a Jewish majority, like the Israel of today. That, he says, is the big difference between him and the left-wing “one-staters”: Where they see a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority, he sees a Jewish state with a Palestinian minority.

But what happens if and when the Palestinians, with their significantly higher birth rate, become the majority? Some suggest major modifications to the Elitzur plan to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Hanan Porat, a former Knesset member and leading figure in the Gush Emunim settlement movement, wants Israeli law applied gradually to the West Bank — first to areas with large Jewish populations, and a decade or a generation later to the rest. Even then, Porat would condition full citizenship for Palestinians on loyalty to the Jewish state expressed in perhaps military or national service. In other words, in Porat’s version of the one-state solution, very few Palestinians would have the right to vote, and only in the distant future.

“The attractive leftist vision of the one-state solution may grow up into a rightist monster,” observed critic Uri Avnery, one of the earliest and most passionate two-staters on the political left.

Hotovely, who organized a Knesset conference on “Alternatives to Two States” in May 2009, has been actively promoting the one-state solution over the last year; she is working on a major position paper on the issue.

She will have to address many questions concerning the one-state theory — for example, what to do about flags, anthems, school curricula, a constitution. There are larger questions, like how the state would manage the transition period from Israeli annexation to Palestinian citizenship, and how to deal with religion-state issues.

In addition, under the two-state solution, Arab refugees could return to the Palestinian state without harming Israeli interests. Where would they go in the one-state proposal?

The biggest problem, given the Palestinian birth rate and the possibility of international pressure for refugee return, is that the one-state dream could turn into a South Africa-style nightmare with a dominant Jewish minority under pressure to accept Palestinian majority rule.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership has shown no sign that it is eager to surrender its vision of a Palestinian state. For now, the two-state model is the only goal of the recently restarted Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic talks.