Where Oh Where Is Our Leader?

 Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on Earth.

Source

These were the words of President John Kennedy in 1961, urging our country to be a leader in the quest to step foot on the moon. We have no such leadership anymore.

Just imagine President Obama, saying that line above but replacing “space achievement” with renewable energy. Maybe it isn’t so hard to fathom. Now, however, imagine him taking real concrete steps and leadership in that direction. A pipe dream, no?

You can get pretty depressed thinking about it, to be honest. That the people we have elected to lead us don’t have the will, desire, or influence to do what is right. And it has depressed me until I realized that we still have power and influence. Sure, we don’t have the power over a nation. We do however, have power over ourselves.

This is how change is going to happen. Sure isn’t going to come from Washington. There’s too much money influence in oil and coal and natural gas. We’re gonna have to do it ourselves.

Think about it. We all have control of our households. We can recycle. We can use better light bulbs. We can shy away from plastic, and reuse things rather than throwing them away.

Let’s focus our attention a little further. Do you work in an office? Do they recycle or compost? Would it really take much effort to start? How about the school your kids attend? And what about the town you live in? And so on and so on.

Pretty soon people get used to greener ways of life. It becomes the new norm. They start asking “why don’t we recycle?”. If enough people start asking, eventually those in charge will have to listen. They would be losing too much money not to.

Where is our leader? Take a peek in a mirror.

I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’

The political discourse in this country is screwed. It has been for some time.  It’s sad really, because there really does need to be a dialogue and a discussion of ideas in order for the best solution of a problem to be achieved.

I’m a registered Democrat. Not because I’m all that enamored by them, but because right now but they are at least not insane and some of them are at least they are attempting some good things (such as providing health care to all Americans). Meanwhile, the Republicans are critiquing logos.

On Fox and Friends, on the Fox News Network, they “discussed” the logo at President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit and how it resembled the crescent moon you see on the flags of Muslim countries, all the while ignoring what the logo was actually supposed to resemble: Bohr’s Model of the Hydrogen Atom.

I don’t expect you to watch the Fox and Friends segment, because my head nearly exploded when I watched it. Luckily, the Daily Show covered it last night.
John Stewart:

Yeah, you be the judge. We’re just letting you know about some bullsh– thing we saw, saying this is a coded message to the Muslim world. We’re just curious citizens, wondering if we put that logo up with four Muslim flags, whether you’ll have a visceral reaction that our president is perhaps Muslim, while clearly stating our conclusion on our lower-third graphic.

And that’s where we are in our discourse. While the President is meeting with world leaders in an attempt to “enhance international cooperation to prevent nuclear terrorism”, the other side is looking at the similarities of pictures.

On Ted

My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

Eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy, June 1968.

As you all know by now, Ted Kennedy died yesterday. I found the above quote particularly moving. I find it particularly moving that Ted continued in the public eye, especially after his second brother was assassinated. I’d imagine he was always looking over his shoulder, wondering when it would be his turn.

Like he said of his brother, Ted Kennedy would not want to be idealized, I don’t think. His personal issues have been well documented, but when it comes to politics there were few as dedicated to helping the poor as Senator Kennedy. Check out the obit from the New York Times.

I’ll tell you what, though. Cancer is really starting to tick me off. If cancer was standing beside me right now, I’d punch it in the nose. And not just because of Ted Kennedy. And I’m not normally a violent person. Watch your back, cancer.

It’s A New Day

Well, it’s a new day. Tuesday to be specific. It’s also the day the long eight year nightmare is finally over. Whew. We made it. Just barely, but we made it.

Today is more than the end of Bush’s reign. It’s the beginning of Obama’s. Today, Barack loses a word in his title, but that’s a good thing. He goes from President-elect to just President. I’m sure Obama will not be perfect and isn’t going to be able to fix things with a snap of the fingers. However, it is reassuring that we have somebody there that will at least trust brains and actually listen to scientists. How elitist of him.

I remember voting for Obama in the primaries, walking with my daughter to the designated polling place. I think she enjoyed it, just because we got to go for a walk.

Then there was the debates. I sat through them all, usually with my stomach in knots. I wasn’t worried so much about Obama doing bad, as I was worried about some minor thing the other side would be able to spin. Alas, it all worked out.

Then, in the Fall we went to a local farm to pick out a pumpkin. To our surprise, traffic was backed up and we later found out Sarah Palin had stopped at the same place on her way to Philadelphia (we did pass the Straight Talk Express bus).

Finally, there was election day. My daughter accompanied me again to the polling place, although we drove this time rather than walk. It was too cold. I’ll never forget the moment when I was signing in to vote when my daughter yelled for everyone to hear, “My Daddy is voting for Obama!” I remember how happy and relieved I was when CNN announced Obama had won Pennsylvania and then Ohio. That’s when I knew it was going to be a good night.

So there we are. About to welcome a new President. Let’s hope the next four years are an improvement over the last eight.

I’m Voting For Obama

This will come as a shock to no one who has read this blog the past few months, but I still wanted to say it.  I’m voting for Barack Obama.

Let me say that again.  I’m voting FOR Obama.  I’m not voting against McCain.  I want to make that perfectly clear.  I agree with Obama’s ideas.  I agree with his tax plan.  I agree with his health care plan.  Most of all, I agree with his approach to problems.  I get the sense he really looks at an issue and approaches it with a logical mind.  What a refreshing change that will be.

It has been a long campaign for me.  I can’t imagine the toll it has taken on both of the candidates.  Just look at a picture of Obama from a year ago.  There’s a lot more grey in his hair now.

I’d like to share a few clips with you today, because they touched my heart.  This first one is of an older gentleman who is an Obama volunteer who was bornin 1922 and lived through the Great Depression.

This next one is an old one but a good one.  I probably watched it every day for the past month, when the polls would swing too close for comfort.

Anyhow, I don’t know how things are going to go tonight.  It looks good.  However, it looked good in 2004.  All I can do is leave work, cast my one vote, and pray for the best.  If Barack doesn’t win, I’ll be devastated. Eventually, I’ll get over it.  I just pray for the country I don’t have to.

I guess, what I’m trying to say here is I’m voting for hope over fear.  It feels good.

A Historic Day

Yesterday was truly a historic day. It was a day my wife and I actually got caught up with our laundry. What? You thought I was going to mention something else?

Seriously, though. For the first time in a loooong time (two years maybe?) we were able to get through the mountains of dirty clothes and actually make it to the bottom of our hamper. It felt like we would never get there. I imagined one day I would throw something in the dirty clothes pile only to have it topple on me trapping me to be found by future archaeologists like a pre-historic leaf in a tar pit.

We got to the bottom of things was due to my wife’s work. She has spent the past few days trecking downstairs to do the laundry and putting away said loads of laundry upstairs (I’m definitely not as good with the folding and putting away part). I did my part when I was home, doing maybe three or four loads total. She did the bulk of it, though. Thanks honey! 🙂

As far as the other historic stuff that happened yesterday? It’s pretty awesome. As you may know if you have been following me on Twitter, I stayed up pretty late last night watching the Democratic Convention. I thought Bill Clinton did a good job. Joe Biden had a few touching moments.

I was most impressed with John Kerry. I wish he was this fired up four years ago. He got in some really good digs last night. My favorite bit was this:

Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain’s own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you’re against it.

Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself.

For some reason, I picture John McCain in a “Candidate McCain” superhero costume. Somebody needs to make that Photoshop happen.

The Pursuit of Peace

Forty-five years ago, June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered the Commencement Address at American University. You can read the full text of that address online.

President Kennedy said many great things that day. He said this of peace:

I realize the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war, and frequently the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

This was all in the context of the Cold War and growing conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. In relation to the “War on Terror” doesn’t this still make sense today? More JFK:

Some say that it is useless to speak of peace or world law or world disarmament, and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitudes, as individuals and as a Nation, for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward, by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace, towards the Soviet Union, towards the course of the cold war and towards freedom and peace here at home.

First examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again. I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

You know how this turned out. He was correct. We did not go to war with the Soviet Union. There are many reasons why we didn’t and I won’t go into those here. The point is we (both countries) chose peace.

There are people in this country right now (some VERY high up in the government) who want to go to war with Iran. We face similar issues today as we did 45 years ago. I don’t know if we’ll continue to chose war in the next few years or if we decide to chose peace. I hope it’s the latter.

Finally, here are the words JFK chose to end this historic speech. I heard these on the radio this morning and felt I needed to share them with you. Some of them are no longer true of the United States, and that makes me sad.

The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough — more than enough — of war and hate and oppression.

We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we must labor on–not towards a strategy of annihilation but towards a strategy of peace.