Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Second, the Schiavo situation. I don't think we should try and avoid bringing attention to it. It's not like we're the Media. Obviously it is RIDICULOUSLY stupid that people are getting so excited over it. This is what I am talking about when I say I don't understand religious fundamentalism. Schiavo died a long time ago; now her body withers away and people are getting upset about it? What about the hundreds of people on death row? What about people dying of starvation in third-world countries? What this case tells me is that the Media leads many Americans around by the nose; they highlight what they want and the public gets outraged in turn. Oh well, she'll die, and the fundamentalists will move on to the next big scandal, like seeing the image of Jesus' face on a raisin.
As for the actual argument behind the case: unfortunately, brain death by doctors is a nebulous term, so she can't really be classified as dead, but everything that makes humans human is dead. And the parents plea that they want her to 'have a chance' is totally unreasonable. You obviously can't argue with people like this. What I wonder is, do they actually think they still have a daughter? Do they go to the hospital, talk to her, pretend like she is talking to them and pretend they have a relationship? Anything that they possibly could have loved about her stopped about, let's say, 15 years ago. Well, Terri, I guess your parents actually love your arms, legs, and organs, but not your personality. If they removed her brain completely, we'd probably be having the same discussion.
Minnesota high school shooting: Why is this not a big deal, but Columbine such a huge deal? Is it because shootings are old hat now? Something was different about Columbine that made it a big deal in in the aftermath of the Paducah shootings and the Jonesboro shootings, but what makes this one not? Can we blame it on 9/11 like everything else? I say no to 9/11. If anything, the Schiavo case shows that the Media has an incredibly short memory for scandal and no sense of a larger perspective at all. Can we blame it on the Media? Yes, I say, let's do that! Columbine happened in the midst of a slow news month, and it also came with some good news footage: kids jumping out of windows, killers stalking around on surveillance video, bloody corpses on the sidewalk, and armored SWAT teams surrounding the building. What did this Minnesota school shooting bring to the table? Sure, the Media tried to report on it, but when they showed the same old footage of a high school hallway with crime scene tape on it, people changed the channel. The next big school shooting will happen in a school that has color surveillance video. That makes for better copy.
Lastly, in response to Marmar's foreign policy platform, I'd like to offer a few additional thoughts as to the Iraq war and my continuing impression of Georgie boy. I wrote a few months ago that the Iraq war can't be judged in the context of a few months. I do stand by that. But that shouldn't have stopped me from pointing out flaws in the intermediate stages. From a larger perspective, I recently read a book encouraging people to think about international politics from a civilizational paradigm. And what the author not-so-cleverly tries to mask is that the civilizational divide is a religious divide. The war in Iraq represents Judeo-Christianity against Islam, and from that view, it is doomed to failure. No matter what happens in Iraq it will be seen as yet another example of the West trying to impose its values on the rest of the world. Somehow I just doubt you can force a liberal democracy on a people that want to be ruled by fundamentalist theocracy. This all leads me back to my only enduring point: fuck religion. That should be your foreign policy, Marmar.
Monday, March 28, 2005
I know we aren't supposed to do this but...
"Mahoney said the fact that Schiavo has survived nearly 10 days since the removal of the tube that has supplied her with nutrition and water indicates that she wants to appear before the House Government Reform Committee."
So a woman whose mental capabilities are medically considered equal to those of a carrot or turnip (get it, vegetative? ahahah) is mentally willing herself through dehydration not to save her own skin, or in hope of getting better, but because she really wants some face time with Denny Hassert. Maybe we can just combine her supoena with the steroid trials. Was Mark McGwire using a feeding tube during his 70 home run season? When Canseco was injecting Big Mac in the butt, did he "err on the side of life?" Plus, who better to judge the growth of McGwire in the last 15 years then Mrs. Schiavo? She's been comatose the whole time!
When 9/11 happened, I remember many people remarking how the news stories that had previously dominated headlines that year seemed insignificant and trivial by comparison, and that hopefully, one good thing that would come out of the tragic events of that day was a refocusing on the important issues in the world of news. I was cynical about such hopes then, I guess I should be surprised it took this long to revert.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Running for Congress: Foreign Policy Ideologies
The problem with ascribing to ANY ideology when it comes to international politics is that by viewing the world as acting in a certain way, you invariably push the world into following the rules and guidelines you set up, especially when you are in the position of the United States as the most powerful actor on the international scene. For example, if the Bush administration believes international institutions are weak, and then avoids using them, they weaken the international institution. Get it? The problem is, international institutions have proven helpful in the past and could prove helpful in the future: there may be a time when we want a strong UN, such as…I don’t know, sharing the burden of rebuilding a war ravaged Iraq.
International diplomacy, like most issues, is too complicated to be viewed through one paradigm. Yet since Vietnam, there has been a tradition of leaving war management decisions in the hands of the executive branch. Some of this comes from tradition, and some comes from the patriotic fervor that often surrounds decisions to go to war. No one wants to be accused of not supporting our troops, or supporting our country. But isn’t the best way to support our troops is to keep them alive at all costs?
The founders of the Constitution left much of international diplomacy in the hands of the executive branch, but they left important methods of control in the hands of Congress: from ratification of executive authority to control over funding. When I’m elected to Congress, I will spearhead a movement to engage in greater control over military planning and operations from the Congressional branch. Congress shouldn’t be reduced to handing out token approval and investigating errors after the fact. They should be involved in the entire process, so that the United States does not get pigeon-holed into the ideological paradigm of a few crusty academics. A foreign policy that considers various ideas and is not based on “true belief,” will serve us better.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Running for Congress: Things I will not be spending time doing as a Representative
The whole steroid witch-hunt, perpetuated by an alliance between media and government reeks to me of jock-envy. Sportswriters and Congress alike are acting out feelings of unworthiness left over from high school by tearing to shreds the reputations of as many big, burly athletes as they can muster. There are so many fallacies in this whole process. First, there was no steroid program before 2003 in baseball! You can’t punish players for not abiding by the rules of the game when there were no rules. Second, people in this country are innocent until proven guilty. Of course the rules of law have never been followed in this entire case: remember Bonds and Giambi’s steroid admissions came from leaked, sealed, grand jury testimony, which is illegal. Third, what is the point of this entire hearing? Is Congress planning on passing legislation forcing everyone not to acknowledge Bonds’ accomplishments? I don’t think so. I think Congress is trying to pose itself as the moral conscience of the United States, garnering public attention on issues such as baseball and steroids while it lets the executive branch bully through immoral legislation that screws the average American.
One last point on the steroid issue: get off Mark McGwire’s back. He read a statement saying he had not done any illegal steroids, he has repeatedly denied abusing steroids, and he is the only player who took a legally intelligent strategy. Thus all this talk over not voting for McGwire for the Hall of Fame needs to stop immediately. He has been proven guilty of nothing. The Hall of Fame is about one thing, numbers. He has them. He saved baseball, remember? Get off your collective high horse.
I would also like to assure my fellow constituents, that if elected to Congress, I will not be spending time at any special Congressional sessions called to debate how to save the life of a woman who has been in a coma for 15 years and has been repeatedly declared by doctors (you know, those guys who use science,) to have zero chance of regaining cognitive function. This does not fall under my jurisdiction as a Congressmen: nowhere in the first Article of the Constitution does it say: “Congress shall weigh in on all inane matters of morality that receive sufficient media attention.” A woman is dead already; it’s a tragedy. The decision to remove her feeding tube, is a legal matter, and has been decided, and is according to her wishes. But more importantly, what is Congress doing debating this? Or getting involved at all? Haven’t they forgotten, we are at war with an unseen, shadowy enemy! They could be anywhere! Has anyone checked the color of the terror warning recently?
Sorry I got a little carried away. Anyways, let me assure the people that, if in my tenure as Congressman, my fellow representatives decide to spend time tackling such irrelevant issues, I will spend those days cooped up in my office, with my thinking cap on, trying to come up with superior policies to improve the lives of my fellow Americans, so that when and if our government turns their minds to the people’s business, I will be supremely prepared.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Oh Thoughts, How Random Are Thee!
- We really don't talk sports much around here these days, but as the baseball season crawls into gear I'm sure it will pick up. For instance: I recently had the pleasure of soaking up the sun and baseball of the Cactus League. One day during batting practice Ichiro decided to embarrass the Beltre and Sexson by knocking ball after ball out of the park. And these were not your little grandma's homeruns; they were crushed well over the wall in right. In one of his last rounds, he smoked a couple balls down the line and in the gap, then absolutely crushed the last four out of the park. As the fans cheered, he stepped around the cage, rolled up his sleeve, and flexed his pedestrian bicep for the crowd, making a face that was a mix of laughter and faux strain. I know this has been said before, but why does MLB not invite him to the home run derby during the all star break. Yeah, people like seeing performances like Sosa in Milwaukee, but seeing that performance lose to a little 180 pound singles hitter would be quite a show.
- More baseball!!! I got to see King Felix warm up in the pen, then fool some Padres hitters during the game. As I neared the pen, I thought "no way is this kid 18." He is huge. But when you get close, as I was just a few feet away watching him warm up, you realize he's just an oversized kid with a jaw-dropping curve. The fastball might be jaw-dropping too, but I couldn't see it well enough to tell. When he keeps the curve down, there's just no way to hit it and little chance of laying off. And from what little I could make of the blur, it looked like he could let his fastball tail in to the righties or cut it a bit away. Of course, that could have been his changeup.
- Aren't there more important matters for our government to tend to than grandstanding as moral superiors and chastising MLB and baseball players? Come to think of it, as long as this current Congress is running the show, I'd rather have them waste time on something as shallow as this instead of performing a more substantive undoing of our country.
- Which brings me to ANWR. No one knows for sure how much oil is there. Even the rosiest forecasts allow only 2 years of oil at our current rate of consumption (10.4 barrels is the highest projection for ANWR; we import 9.7 million barrels/day; we import 70% of our oil). Further, that 10.4 figure has been debunked, and the ceiling of most projections of recoverable oil hovers around 5-8. In the meantime, we scuttle 1.5 million acres of wildlife reserve, endangering hundreds of species and setting a bad precedent of selling out the environment instead of more effective, but politically unpopular, measures like increasing standards for auto manufacturers and developing new sources of energy, or (gasp!) highly taxing gas guzzling SUVs. Drilling in ANWR will have no significant impact on our dependency on foreign oil, and, as Stu said below, dependency on oil in general is the real problem. Its always going to be foreign. This also will not affect gas prices, since it will be roughly 10 years before a drop of this oil hits your local Shell station. So, to sum up: Our government just put a plan on the budget to destroy a 1.5 million acre wildlife reserve for between 0-2 years of gas that we can start enjoying 10 years from now. If that's not enough, there is this: the budget for 2006 includes over 1 billion in profits from this oil, which may not exist, may not be profitable, and cannot be pumped, packaged, and consumed for 10 years. You can forgive the President, though, for not wanting to project a $391 billion deficit for the upcoming year. $390 billion looks a lot more acceptable.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Random thoughts on news
So, I'm not busy at work and the NCAA tournament doesn't start for another hour. So I think I'll blog about some newsworthy bits.
- As you may know, the Senate recently approved drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Some people are getting incredibly upset about it; and rightfully so. Apparently our friend Georgie and most of the republican party doesn't understand the word "refuge." To me, the worst part is the horribly flawed logic behind most of the supporters: "if it will reduce our dependency on foreign oil, we have to do it." Well, it won't reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and even if it did, did it ever occur to them that maybe we should reduce our dependency on oil in general? More than anything, I think this is a total panic move by them when they realized 1) Iraq won't be providing us with oil anytime soon, and 2) Gas prices are going up! Oh no! Everyone will support it because people hate paying 2+ bucks for a gallon of gas! Oh well, it's just another in the long line of broken promises made by our government.
- March Madness starts today! I am not quite as assured about the Illini, not because they lost, but just because of their inability to score for long periods of time. At the beginning of the year, their offense couldn't be stopped. Now, it's sputtering along. Still, they've got a relatively easy road. If they just manage to avoid a major letdown (minor ones will still probably get them to the elite eight), a Final Four appearance is assured. And from then on, it's a crapshoot anyway.
- Since I have had a good amount of free time in the past few weeks, I've managed to finish two video games and watch a few movies. No books, unfortunately. So here are some quick reviews:
- Sideways: B-. An above average movie with a character that you just KNOW was modeled after the writer's life. In that regard it makes it more believable, which is always a plus for a movie. But the characters just didn't do it for me otherwise. Plus, I don't drink wine, which I guess may be a big draw for some.
- I Heart Huckabees: B+. Surprisingly few big laughs in this movie, but it never makes any big missteps and never insults your intelligence with really stupid, obvious jokes. It's not a hilarious movie, but it manages to be amusing throughout.
- Office Space: B. I watched this movie at the behest of my co-workers, who insisted it was a must-see now that I am working. I liked it; I'd seen parts of it before. Again, Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill creator) goes for some subtler humor and pulls most of it off. As a satire on 'cube life' it's pretty good; as a movie, it's merely above average.
- Knights of the Old Republic 2: 80/100. I blew through this game: it was nearly as addicting as the first one; and even though it was almost exactly the same game with a new storyline, it was still a lot of fun to play. And that's more of a glowing review of the first one; because this is merely an expansion pack when you think about it. The story isn't quite as good, the graphics look the same, the characters aren't as fresh, and the gameplay is EXACTLY the same, with one very minor addition. If this game had been released first, it wouldn't have been as good as the first one; it would have rated maybe a 92 as opposed to a 95.
- Republic Commando: 72/100. Yes, I know, two Star Wars games. But this one is based off episodes 1-3, giving it a big handicap to start off. The only appeal this game has is that it looks and feels a lot like the movies, which is a fun thing, even if it weren't a Star Wars game. Otherwise, it's a standard first person shooter, albeit one with a lot of polish and no mistakes or bugs. It feels a lot like a console game, with a lot of action and very predefined routes. Bottom line is, I would never be playing the game if it didn't have the Star Wars name on it.
- The Pope is out of the hospital. O frabjous day!
- Look for a science/tech post soon. Any requests from the audience?
- Lastly, I would like to public mock my blogmates for not holding up their end of the bargain. Seriously, at this point, who doesn't hate dave and marmar? Anybody? Exactly.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
An outsider's view of anti-religion
My problems with religion are many and varied. But let's start from the beginning. In the beginning, man was primitive, uneducated, and worst of all, prey. At this point there probably wasn't a need for religion; death was a clear part of life on earth and humans, like all animals, accepted it. Then, societies started to form, and a measure of control was needed over the populace. But as religion represents a measure of control over people, so too does it represent a measure of control to the people. What do I mean by that? Well, belief in God is a powerful thing; I believed in God as a child because that's what everyone told me. But it wasn't just that. Praying to someone who would listen and could actually DO something about it was therapeutic; even after I began to suspect very strongly that there was no God, I found myself praying in particularly worrisome situations. Belief in God is not a totally irrational belief in and of itself. But from an outsider's view, it's a release valve for our worries that we are not in control. And these worries are well founded- we aren't in control. And this is even more true in a complex society than it was when we were hunter-gatherers; we can get laid off, hit by a truck, miss our flights, and get our hearts broken through no real apparent reason to ourselves. When so many things seem out of control it's a natural instinct to think there is a higher power at work; it soothes our nerves when we can't do anything else; and when terrible things happen, it eases the pain by making us think that it served some cosmic purpose.
But I don't want to criticize believers; at its core, belief in God is simply not an arguable point. That's why I'm moving on, to my real problem. To religion.
My main fault with religion is in its inability, or unwillingness to evolve; that will become apparent through most of my criticisms. Christianity, for example, is 2000 years old, and still going strong. But like Broyles said in a comment earlier, it's outgrown its ideals. No longer is modern christianity about social justice, helping the smallest man, and doing as Jesus did. It's about going to Church, having crucifixes on the wall, bedtime prayers, and dressing up for Easter. It's about following the stupid little rules and forgetting the big ones.
Yes, these are gross generalizations; but I am talking about Christianity as an institution; and so there is nothing to do but generalize. Christianity was once about doing good; now it is about faith. Faith that going to church will get you into heaven. All you have to do is believe in Jesus, and what you do here doesn't matter; there are no rules to follow except "have faith". And because of this, religion has become a club that people are born into or join. And if you're not with them, you're against them; because that's what the Bible teaches: have faith, or suffer the consequences. And Christianity isn't alone here; Judaism and Islam are guilty of the same faults wrapped in different paper. And that brings me to me second point.
The arrogance of religion. There are billions of Christians around the world, and they believe that everyone else is going to hell; there are billions of Muslims and millions of Jews who believe the same thing (different wrapping paper of course). And they believe this because they were born into it; it's very much like the millions of Americans who are born into the richest country in the world and then have the gall to tell every other country that they're doing it wrong because they're not doing it our way. Hey, I was born here, and I know that is has nothing to do with anything but dumb luck. I already know that I've got it made living in the US rather than poverty-stricken India; I'm not going to pretend it was because I was somehow divined into the right region/religion by a higher power. I'm going to single out Judaism here because I don't pick on it enough later on, but calling yourself the Chosen people and believing that everyone else is doomed? Wow.
Of course, you can accuse me of the same thing: calling everyone else wrong and myself right. And yes, I'm going to admit to being arrogant in that regard. But I won't be hypocritical about it. And I'm not the one arguing that you're going to suffer if you don't believe what I believe. No, if you don't believe what I believe, I still think we're both going to the same place after we die.
And every religious person has things that they ridicule about other religions; Christians don't understand Muslims inequal treatment of women; Muslims don't understand Christianity's literal and figurative crusades; (many also probably look down about Christianity's westernization and commercialization) I don't understand Judaism's prohibition on pork and shellfish. They all secretly sneer at each other but take a blind eye to their faith's own shortcomings.
Because religions are about tradition, ritual, and history. Many modern people who practice a certain faith don't believe everything that their faith teaches; they say they are doing it for tradition; that's why they fast, or put up decorations. They know the world wasn't created in six days, they know Eve wasn't created by one of Adam's ribs; but they put up with all the falsities because they say their faith has a rich tradition.
To which I say: A rich tradition of what? Of selling out? Of murder, war, death, famine, and horribleness? Christians have the Crusades to look back upon, where they slaughtered countless innocents in the Middle East only to give up the so-called Holy Land? Or can they look back on times when the Church sold sin (indulgences) to the highest bidders? Or when the Pope was nothing more than another political leader, waging war and getting wrapped up in such low 'human' politics? What do Muslims have to look back upon? Centuries of strife, suicide bombings, succession wars and resulting divisiveness? It's a ridiculous thing, to look at faith from an outsider's view.
Insiders, of course, will ridicule my words and say "these faults you point out are not the point of my religion. Christianity wasn't meant to evolve, it wasn't meant to create good, decent people. And those other horrible things are in the past. I don't do those things." Yes, but why ally yourself with something like that? Why can't people quietly believe in a God, and not have to drag thousands of years of horribly outdated ceremony with them? Is it so unreasonable to assume that if there is a god(s), they''ll be somewhat forgiving if you believe in your own way?
But there are going to be people who do think rationally about religion, find that it suits them, makes them happier, keeps them close to their belief in God, and truly do follow the ideals of their religion. I call those people priests and rabbis. This is not directed towards them. And there are going to be those people who still believe that evolution is false, that they are eating the body of Christ every Sunday, that God directed the ball out of the hands of Kurt Warner and into the hands of Isaac Bruce every Sunday as well. This isn't directed to those peole either. Then again, if you're one of those, you haven't read this far anyway. They probably stopped at "I'm an atheist." This is directed towards those people who are casually religious; who live their lives like normal people, yet call themselves religious because they were born into one. These are the people who are not any more moral than atheists; they don't live their life like Jesus or Moses of Muhammed, they're simply normal people. Who somehow believe that their religion is the right one.
But like I said earlier, my problem with religion is its inability to evolve. Like it or not, those Bible pages are always going to say that slavery is OK in war, that women have less rights than men. And the Pope is always going to be a spokesperson for Christianity, when he speaks out about abortion and homosexuality. And very much like the United States, these religions are giant lumbering beasts dragging along their sordid histories, slow to change direction and vulnerable to getting pecked to death by minutiae. (Minutiae like priest sexual abuse and a pope that probably is nothing more than a 90 year old animatronic puppet, or Sunni vs. Shiite violence , or... ok, enough.) They're no longer about the ideals that they once stood so proudly for. How can it become any clearer than it isn't acceptable to kill; yet countless lives are lost each year in the name of religion. How can it become any more obvious that religion should be about peace and understanding?
And because of this, it's become so obvious to any outsider that these religions are not the way to salvation, truth, or happiness. So why can't they see it in their own faith?
Monday, March 07, 2005
Get in the game, Seahawks!
Ken Lucas - lost to Carolina
Samari Rolle - Baltimore
Gary Baxter - Cleveland
Fred Smoot - Minnesota
Robert Griffith - Arizona
Kelly Herndon - SEAHAWKS
Andre Dyson - SEAHAWKS!!!!!!!!!
Chike Okeafor - lost to Arizona
Reggie Hayward - Jets
Pat Williams - Minnisota
Kevin Carter - Miami
Bryce Fisher - SEAHAWKS
Courtney Brown - Broncos
Chartric Darby - SEAHAWKS
Anthony Simmons - released by the Hawks
Jeremiah Trotter - Philly
Morlon Greenwood - Houston
Chris Claiborne - St. Louis
Antonio Pierce - Giants
Dexter Coakley - St. Louis
Kendrell Bell - Kansas City
Ed Hartwell - Hotlanta...Noooooooooooo!
Kendrell Bell - Chiefs
Kevin Bently - SEAHAWKS
Jamie Sharper - SEAHAWKS....YESSSSSSSSSSSS!
Jerry Porter - Oakland
Derrick Mason - Baltimore
Muhsin Muhammad - Chicago
David Patten - Washington
Keenan McCardell - retained by San Diego
Plexico Burress - Giants
Joe Jurevicius - SEAHAWKS...Nooooooooooo!
Jerome Pathon - HUSK...er, SEAHAWKS
But hey, at least Miami just released David Boston after failing a physical. I don't care what shape he's in, as long as his hands can close around a football, the 'hawks should sign him.
Basically, the Seahawks need to wrap up Ed Hartwell and Plaxico, maybe Kendrell Bell too for the outside, trade that rumored 2nd round pick for Patrick Surtain, and then draft conjoined twins who play DE and DT with their first round pick. Edit: So much for that plan.
Edit: This will be updated until the Seahawks have made signings of a quantity and quality to my satisfaction. The list of lost chances will only include players I feel are important and can address a Seahawk need, and were at least somewhat likely to leave their previous team. If I've made any errors or ommissions, feel free to post or email a suggestion.
Bring Back Winny!
The West Wing. Ahh, The West Wing. How great it once was. How surprisingly good it has been these last two weeks. I tortured myself by watching all the episodes last season, as the ship hit some nasty weather after the plank-walk of former captain Aaron Sorkin. This year, everything changed. Episodes away from the White House, on the campaign trail; new character after new character; President Bartlet is a shell of his former self. But the interesting thing is the return of past characters. Former Veep Hoines is trying his hand in the Democratic primary. Josh's ex-flame Amy Gardner returned came back. Also returning is Republican (gasp!) Cliff Calley, now filling Josh's old job in the alabaster abode. (yes, not a proper use of alabaster, but it works as a lay term) (ok, "colloquial" instead of law - happy now?). Cliff fills the season 2 role of Ainsley Hayes, the principled Republican who just wants to serve the people. I have to admit, after a period of mourning for the loss of my West Wing, this season is starting to grow on me.
Now that I've come to grips with this "new" West Wing, I say why stop here? Keep bringing them back - Rob Lowe is not up to any good these days, so Sam could return to help out on the Santos campaign. Maybe Josh could get him to do some speechwriting. Naturally, Sam would finally offer that job to his old nemesis Winny. Perhaps with their powers combined they can raise Fitz from the grave? And Mandy hasn't been seen since season 1...ok, that's a good thing.
Alright, this post will not interest anyone but West Wing fans, so I'll stop now. The show, though dramatically changed, still puts out quality episodes (fairly) consistently. Whether viewed as a continuation of the old, or a mostly new and independant show, it is still worthy of viewing - what else are you going to watch Wednesday nights now that Project Runway is gone?
Friday, March 04, 2005
A look at an alternate reality
We'd be coming up on the 50th day of his presidency, and Congress would probably be bitterly against Kerry at this point, rejecting plenty of his Cabinet appointees (although Bush isn't faring too well in that department). We'd still have troops in Iraq, though we'd be scaling back and of course, the suicide bombings would continue, giving Republicans lots of ammo to say "See, this is what happens when you pull out too soon! GAAH!" I've already said before that the long-term outcome is what is important in Iraq, and Bush vs. Kerry probably doesn't make a huge difference; the Iraqi leaders and people will be much more important in that regard. Bush's stick-it-out strategy is only one option among many. I can honestly say I have no idea what Kerry would be doing right now. I guess that might be why he lost.
Now, taking our splintered timeline into the near future, Kerry appoints 2 Supreme Court Justices in his time, ensuring that Roe v. Wade is upheld (which actually is not as big a deal as we all want to make it out to be), but those are about the highlights of his presidency, and he gets ousted after his first term by young upstart (ok, not young at all), John McCain, the silver-tongued senator from Arizona. McCain is so popular that he gets all the key Republican points fasttracked through congress, including abolishment of gun control, tax breaks for the wealthy, and letting foreign-born citizens run for Congress. This enables Schwarzenegger to run in 2016, and after Cyberdyne takes over, John Connor leads humanity in a bloody resistance against the robots. I, of course, take the opposite side.
But let's get back to our timeline. Looking four years into the future, is there any way a democrat doesn't win in 2008? At this point, all signs point to Hillary, which would probably guarantee the victory, but isn't she just as divisive as Bush? In fact, I think Bush's divisiveness has died down, now that we all realize we're in for the long haul. or maybe that's just me. I know all us liberal democrats are looking for Obama to save us, but that's not likely after being a first term senator, nor would it really even be likely in 2012, because of the near-guaranteed incumbency of the democratic president. I think liberalism is in a bit of danger here in the coming years; and I think the only way to save the democrats is for them to center themselves even more. Is this what I think they SHOULD do? No, because what good is it to save the party if you gut everything they stand for? Many liberals have bemoaned the recent shift towards the center, and I'm right there with them. But the fact of the matter is that the government is supposed to represent the people, and if the people are shifting to the right, what choice does the democratic party have?
I don't really think that the public has gotten much more conservative, but the people in power seem to have shifted a bit. I guess that's to be expected as the Baby Boomers reach retirement age, join the AARP and lobby for decreased taxes and such. Of course, it doesn't exactly explain what W is doing with Social Security, but hey, he's a second term president and maybe he wants to go out in a blaze of glory.
Of course, now I've gotten away from the heart of this post: alternate realities. The much more plausible (and perhaps more interesting) is, what if Al Gore had won? I guarantee you, mainly because I can't be proven wrong, that if Al Gore had won in 2000, he'd be president now. Of course, the 9/11 attacks would still have happened, but Gore would have responded in force in Afghanistan just like Bush. And no, we wouldn't have gone to war in Iraq. In fact we wouldn't even be talking about going to Iraq. But the American public would still have a whole bunch of good will towards the military and the President, and since Gore wouldn't have had nearly the mess that Bush had for his first term, there'd be no one to challenge him in 2004. And perhaps we'd be talking about the liberal shift instead. And of course, stem cell research would be going on, we'd have a budget surplus... but I don't want to beat dead horses. But my point is that Gore probably wouldn't have done anything that exciting in his presidency, not like Bush is doing or Clinton and Lewinsky did.
And that's the thing about Bush. He's doing important things; he'll be an important person in history when we look back. But don't you just feel like he's contributing to the downfall of America, with our unilateralism and conceit? Other countries hate us, our economy is slowing (which I'm convinced is because of this), and yet we still cater to the whims of gun-nuts and "security moms" in the heart of Kansas. Combined with W's moral superiority, it's not that different than the methodology and ideology of radical terrorists; the only difference being that he has other people do his work for him. Like I've said earlier; maybe the war in Iraq will turn out to be a "good thing". But I'd say the odds are against him right now. And Gore as president probably would have just marched the US on into its slow steady climb into old age. Boring, boring, old age.
Anyway, this has been an excessively long look at it. Anyone want to suggest alternate realities? Oswald misses? Jordan gets drafted by the Blazers? Osama dies of a heart attack?