The political rants of a Libertarian and Catholic college student from South Carolina.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

another watergate?

I'm currently taking a poli sci class on the American Presidency. Today I had to present an analysis of the articles we were assigned to read for this class. I ended up spending most of my time discussing an excerpt from the Panel of the National Academy of Public Administration's 1974 report "Watergate: Implications for Responsible Government." It's basically a discussion of why Watergate occurred and what can be done to prevent a similar event from taking place in the future. The author, Frederic Mosher, presents his own theories as to why Watergate occurred. He concludes that Watergate was a culmination of earlier trends in national politics. He also claims that Watergate will provide a crucial opportunity for Americans to reevaluate our government.

Part of the assignment for presenting was to provide discussion questions for the class. One of my questions was, "Could a scandal like Watergate happen again to the presidency?"

The consensus among the class--and a fairly enthusiastic one, at that--was yes.

I'm by no means idealistic, and that response surprised me. Granted, I was already aware that my class is full of Bush-haters, but I thought at least one person would come out and say that Watergate could never again, that the media and public have become too vigilant to allow it, and that Watergate is tied directly to a previous generation and a previous presidency.

Mosher's report also reminded me of this article from Salon, an interview with John Dean, former White House counsel to Nixon during Watergate, in which he talks about his book Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush and denounces Bush's presidency as even more secretive and authoritarian than Nixon's. Salon quotes Dean as saying, "To say that the [Bush-Cheney] secret presidency is undemocratic is an understatement. I'm anything but skittish about government, but I must say this administration is truly scary and, given the times we live in, frighteningly dangerous." It's an interesting interview, and more than a little disturbing, especially in light of the Patriot Act coming up for renewal.

Yeah, I know that was a crappy segue. But I really hate the Patriot Act.

Oh, and since I'm updating: I got invited to a special "lunch and discussion" that my school's poli sci department is hosting with Senator Fritz Hollings next week. I'm expecting it to be either really interesting or really boring.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

well, it's better than nothing

My father just emailed me a link to this article from The Guardian, with nothing but a subject heading saying, "Hell, we left you a third of it".

Monday, March 28, 2005

the bob barker needs a kidney act of 2005

I had my long-awaited confirmation into the Catholic Church on Saturday night. It was a really beautiful ceremony and very moving in some ways. Amazingly for a three-hour mass, the priest only really lost me during the homily. He had to work in a Terri Schiavo reference somehow. In this case, the priest's exact statement was (I'm only paraphrasing slightly here), "We will show the world that no federal court in the land can revoke the right of anyone to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as has occurred in the Terri Schiavo case."

I bit my lip and figured that now probably was not the best time to point out that God revoked her right to life about fifteen years ago, and I don't really believe that someone who's dependent upon a feeding tube for her survival is really pursuing liberty.

This was interesting, because my non-church going Methodist parents were in attendance, and shortly before the mass, we had gone to dinner together and ended up discussing the Schiavo case. "She needs to die," my mother said bluntly, and I agreed. It's a horrible story, it absolutely is, and I have a lot of sympathy for her parents as well as for Michael Schiavo. But this is not a case of someone's right to life. She isn't living right now.

This whole case creeps me out, for lack of a more articulate phrase. I don't at all understand why the media has locked onto this the way it has. It's disgusting how almost every time I turn on CNN in hopes of hearing about hard news, I get The Unofficial Terri Schiavo Death Watch. Furthermore, as someone who has dealt with weight issues in the past, it's disturbing to see so vividly what bulimia, and weight concerns in general, can do to someone.

Speaking of CNN, last night I caught some coverage of groups of Catholics protesting the decision and several people saying things very similar to what my priest said on Saturday night. The general gist of their arguments were always that she was being "murdered" by her former husband. And yet this ABC News poll reveals that more than half of Americans and more than half of Evangelicals a) supported the removal of the tube and b) believed that both Bush and Congress were wrong to intervene.

I honestly hope that this is the last entry in which I mentioned Schiavo, because as sad a story as it is, I'm sick to death of hearing about it and I'm sure all of you are, too.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

skip this entry if you're sick of hearing about terri schiavo

I posted this entry to my Live Journal. I'm posting a slightly revised version of it here because it turned out to be somewhat political, and very much in keeping with my mission on this site.

One of my friends's LJ entries on Terri Schiavo made me think again about how much I disagree with the Catholic Church on most social issues. The trinity, the crucifixtion, even transubstantiation I can buy, but their involvement in this case, even more so than their involvement in abortion, makes me feel...misplaced, I guess.

At least with abortion I can understand their opposition: Although I do not personally believe that life begins at conception, I don't find it to be a completely irrational claim. I don't think I could ever get an abortion--not because I'd feel like a murderer, but because I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and I'm not sure I'd be able to justify that to myself. But if I were in the position that one of my best friends is in right now, I would certainly want to have the option available to me.

Then there's gay marriage. I don't understand any of the arguments against gay marriage. The assertion that it degrades the institution of marriage all but makes me laugh at loud. Everyone who thinks that needs to a) look at the divorce rate in our country, and b) watch Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire. And even if you are right and homosexuality is a sin, and this is all one giant evil conspiracy to gayify America, then feel free to scream "I TOLD YOU SO!" through the flames and laugh at all the rest of us when we wind up in Hell.

Truthfully, I don't understand how these are even religious issues. I in no way believe that churches should be forced to perform marriages on same-sex couples (although theoretically--acknowledging that this would never, ever happen in a million years--if the Vatican sent out a referendum on the issue of whether or not to allow it, I'd be all for it). I don't think that being pro-choice and in favor of gay rights makes me a bad person or a bad Christian, or even a bad Catholic. I don't see how those things are mutually exclusive. And I don't think even the Pope could convince me that they are. If he tried, I'd probably remind him about the Church's platform of non-involvement during the Holocaust. (Oh, how I hope no one in the heirarchy of the Roman Catholic Church ever sees this entry...) In fact, if God appeared to me
and told me that all gays, and all people who support them, are going to burn in Hell for eternity, I'd probably call him an asshole.

I don't actually believe that God's an asshole. I think He's probably a cool guy, like on Joan of Arcadia.

I started thinking about all this stuff mostly because last night I had my confirmation practice. They gave all of the candidates (already baptized people coming into the Church, for non-Catholics) this little card with a statement we have to read during the ceremony. It's basically an affirmation that we agree with "all of" the Church's teachings. One of the candidates--an older guy sitting behind me--said, "Can we change this a little bit? Like, say "most of it" or "80% of it"?" I would have agreed with him aloud if I hadn't been seated next to Beth, who would probably make me find a new sponsor if she knew that one of my best friends is getting an abortion next week and I didn't try to talk her out of it.

All of it? I don't want to lie in Church, but I definitely do not buy into every single piece of
Church dogma. I would say that I agree with all of the important ones, everything we say in the Creed. To me, everything else is pretty informal, but then again that has a lot to do with the sort of family I was raised in.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

reserves

My fiance recently decided that he's going into the Army Reserves. He graduated college in December and had been planning on going into the Army for a year beginning this past January, but through a mishap that makes one wonder how the hell the U.S. military gets anything done, much less a full-blown war, his paperwork was screwed up to the point that he couldn't go into basic training until March or later. Long story short, they ended up cancelling his contract, and he was left with nothing to do during the year he's taking off between graduation and grad school. Boredom is part of what has motivated him to go into the Reserves.

After some brief objections on my part, I decided that it was a good idea, so long as war doesn't break out between now and when he gets out of the Reserves. Then I remembered that George Bush is still president for the next three years. And then I became depressed.

Although I agree with Bush's social security plan, things keep happening to make me wish I'd voted for Kerry. But at least he got rid of John Ashcroft.

Monday, February 28, 2005

good news

It's been awhile since I posted, but I just had to share my good news. I got accepted for an internship at Project Vote Smart, a nonpartisan political organization that does research on candidates in order to help them make more informed political decisions. It's in the middle of nowhere Montana, with free room and board. I'm excited.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

the myth of the youth vote

One of several things that have irritated me in the wake of this past presidential election, probably second only in aggravation factor to the constant attribution of Bush's victory to those ambiguous "moral values", is the discussion of how "the youth" failed to come out in support of Kerry. As a 20-year-old who did not vote for Kerry (although I did seriously consider it), I'm somewhat offended by this.

First of all, I don't understand why all of the pundits are so immediate in their assumptions that "the youth" is of uniform political leanings. On Election Day, I had my three-hour, once-a-week, bain of my existence Mock Trial class. The class was composed mostly of political science majors, all of whom were active in and well-educated about politics. Class began at 5:30, so most of us had voted already. And there were a number of students who had turned out in Bush/Cheney pins and stickers. These were by no means uneducated young people, or even people who would immediately strike one as being particularly conservative. They had all made educated decisions on whom to cast their votes for...and they chose Bush.

I attend what I would classify as a fairly typical American college. Although it is located in the South, we have a large number of out-of-state students and plenty of people, both students and professors, who would describe themselves as "liberal". The political makeup of my friends is about equal parts Republican and Democrat, with a not insignificant number of third party members. Very few of them are politically apathetic.

This so-called "youth vote" that failed to materialize for Kerry wasn't just a bunch of college kids who were too lazy or stupid to get out there and "rock the vote". We considered Kerry. We watched the debates. Some of us even watched the respective candidates' convention speeches. And we decided against voting for Kerry.

Something I've observed at college, which has been basically ignored by the national media, is that more and more young people like myself are being increasingly disenchanted with the two major political parties. I had a conversation last semester with a friend, also a poli sci major, about the failure of the two-party system in this country. More than I hate the Republicans or the Democrats (and these days I pretty much hate both of them), I hate the two-party system. There was a great spoof on it in America: The Book, which all of you should go out and read right this minute if you haven't already, basically talking about how irrational it is to believe that everyone's political beliefs fall neatly into one of two categories. It said something like, "In favor of low taxes? Congratulations, you are also anti-abortion." I should point out here that it doesn't help matters that these two categories are becoming increasingly narrow. We're one of the few first-world countries that do this.

One thing I would really like to see my generation do is get rid of the two-party system. I would start with getting rid of the single-member district (so-called "winner-take-all" elections) method of elections and replace it with proportional representation, at least with the House of Representatives. It was nice to see the initiative on the ballot this past year in a few states, even though it was generally unsuccessful.