Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Okay, I confess: I'm among the 80-something percent of Americans who does not have a passport. And, at present, I have no plans to get one. Furthermore, I'm tired of this generalization among many that Americans who don't have passports are closed-minded, xenophobic, etc.

(Now, I HAVE been to Mexico, & went to a few Caribbean islands when I was really young. I understand U.S. travelers to these countries, as well as Canada, will need to have passports soon. My main gripe is with people who feel one NEEDS to travel abroad in order to call oneself "civilized.")

I believe it is nice to travel abroad, to backpack through Europe, to visit exotic locales in Asia, whatever...if you can AFFORD to do it, time-wise & money-wise, & the simple fact of the matter is, a lot of Americans can't even get health insurance, so it's unfair to criticize them if they can't travel abroad anytime soon. Also, while it's great to see how other cultures live, we can easily find out at least a little bit about how other cultures live by traveling to many major American cities. I criticize a number of things about this country, but I've always felt that the amount of diversity we can find here if we look hard enough is staggering, probably more than one can find in any other nation on this planet. It's possible that one of the reasons I've never felt a burning desire to travel abroad is I've lived in NJ & FL, two states with highly diverse populations. (I've also spent a lot of time actually HANGING in Manhattan, instead of just going in to see Broadway shows & shop at Macy's.) I've always had a very ethnically diverse group of friends, & have been exposed to many different cultural traditions. I realize eating at a restaurant in Lodi, NJ, run by an off-the-boat Italian family may not be quite as intense as spending a summer in Italia, but it's something, & I'm yet to step inside an Olive Garden, which I believe is a very good thing. (Now, I realize that some parts of the U.S. DON'T have such diversity--but, at the same time, this country has a lot more than we often give it credit for.)

If I sound wound up, it's because I recently overheard a conversation about how most Americans must be xenophobes because they don't have passports, & then today, I read in the New York Times that Goucher College is going to start REQUIRING students to travel abroad. (Read the press release here.) This requirement offends me, mainly because it can hurt students who can't afford to travel (A $1,200 voucher? It's a nice thought, but I highly doubt that chunk o' change goes a long way in some of these countries), but also, there's a big difference between requiring a student to, say, take a year of foreign language & requiring them to get on a plane & spend thousands of dollars they might not have in a foreign country.

I'm not excusing the fact that there ARE Americans who don't travel abroad for xenophobic purposes. I'm also not excusing the fact that Dubya traveled very little outside the U.S. before he became President. If you come from a privileged background & aspire to be Leader of the Free World, it might help to travel abroad rather extensively before running for office. But my hunch is that the majority of Americans who don't travel abroad, who've never had passports, AREN'T xenophobic--they're hard-working people who have to save every penny they can to survive in this crazy society, & may have other valid reasons for not having traveled. Also, I believe it's not where you go as much as it is who you know, & how much of an effort you make to learn about other cultures with what little you have. In other words, you don't have to leave this country to be worldly.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

While I don't agree with everything Kathleen Parker says here, she definitely gets a few things right. I definitely agree that the incendiary statements Howard Dean made about the G.O.P. were right on the money. And many of the things he said while he was running for president were correct. His problem is that he usually doesn't say them in a very tactful manner, & he's definitely got a temper. I, for one, saw "the scream" coming a few weeks before it happened, & wasn't the least bit shocked when it did. Due to his personality, I've had some problems with him, but I do like & admire the guy.

As for the Democrats, they should have known what they were getting when they first considered letting Dean become DNC chairman. And it's a little insulting that Biden, Dodd, & Edwards have been acting so outraged over his comments. Maybe the Democrats should be looking for a more diplomatic way to back up what Dean is saying instead of condemning him.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I had a revelation yesterday while reading The New York Times. Some guy who lives in Europe mentioned how Americans are always making fun of Europeans for their 35-hour-workweeks & several weeks of vacation, & this guy could care less because he was leaving work early, & he was going to have a grand ol' time. And I liked his attitude. It's probably very easy for me to throw stones since I work from home & make my own rules (meaning, if I want to work in my nightgown, I will, & if I only have 4 hours of work one day, well, I will work for only 4 hours that day!), but think about it--where are all the 80-hour workweeks, & the 1-2 weeks of vacation per year (for the lucky ones, that is), the 3 sick days per year, & the bragging about how little sleep they get each night getting Americans? I generally like Thomas Friedman, even though I don't agree with all of his views & he gets a little (okay, very) long-winded sometimes, & I've been reading a lot of reviews of his latest book, & it seems quite a few countries are catching up to us or surpassing us in several fields. Since I'm not one of those hardcore capitalists who believes we should have to compete with everyone else at all times, I feel no outrage at the fact that certain countries may do certain things better than we do. But if Americans are always bragging about HOW HARD THEY WORK & HOW LITTLE FREE TIME THEY ALLOW THEMSELVES TO HAVE, shouldn't they have something more to show for it? And can't more American employers start giving even their newer employees more vacation time & more sick days?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I'm a little disappointed that Deep Throat turned out to be this gentleman. I was seriously one of those people who thought Pat Buchanan absolutely had to be Deep Throat. Oh well. At least we've finally found out something we've been wondering for years. (I hope we've been wondering about it, anyway.)

Friday, May 27, 2005

I'm tired of how the Democratic Party is acting. I'm not defecting to the Republican side, but I'm seriously tempted to run back into the arms of Ralph Nader.

The John Bolton filibuster made me mad. John Bolton is just about the WORST person we could make a U.N. ambassador. His nature alone goes against everything the U.N. stands for. Senator George Voinovich, bless his soul, knows this. Heck, even Bolton's MUSTACHE is ready to walk out on him! Joe Biden & Chris Dodd & the other Democrats know darn well what they think of Bolton & how they're going to vote on him. What difference will these documents they want to see make?

I thought the Gang of 14's compromise earlier this week was a thing of beauty. It appeared as though a number of senators were willing to put all this partisan B.S. behind them & work together, which is what I want to see elected officials do. To be fair, 3 of the Democratic senators who took part in the judicial filibuster compromise voted for the up-or-down vote on Bolton, & that compromise was only supposed to apply to judicial nominees. But still, having a filibuster of ANY kind so soon after that good-faith compromise smacks of poor taste, in my opinion.

It's gotten to the point where, if I had to make a list of Republicans & Democrats I admire, it would look like this:

REPUBLICANS: John McCain (or, as I like to refer to him, "The King"), Lincoln Chafee, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lindsay Graham, John Warner, George Voinovich

DEMOCRATS: Bill Clinton (who was one of the best presidents our country ever had partly because he was a centrist), Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, uhh, err, uhh... (*scratches head*) Bueller... Bueller......

And now, for something a tad different--Alexandra Pelosi lost any credibility she ever had with me tonight (& I liked Journeys with George, too) by going on "Hardball," accusing Chris Matthews of making fun of George W. Bush, then admitting she needs to watch "Hardball" more. I'm glad Matthews chewed her out. Matthews has been my favorite news guy for several years, & I've defended him a bunch of times when people have accused him of being rude. He's a political expert who wants his guests to get to the facts, is all. He's nowhere near as arrogant as Bill O'Reilly, & he's much more fair to his guests than most of the TV hosts I see. And if you're going to go on ANY show, well, you shouldn't have to be a genius to realize how wise it is to actually watch the show a few times before you appear on it, & do some research on the host before you make accusations against them that aren't true. Like, duh!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I tried watching the confirmation hearings for the two controversial female judges on C-Span 2 today. Max Baucus's speech this afternoon lost me after about 2 minutes--the Democrats were in the majority in the Senate in such-and-such year, & then the Republicans took over control in such-and-such year, & then the Democrats took over again...so I ended up putting the Food Network back on, & catching "Hardball" later to find out if I missed anything.

This whole thing is utterly insane. BOTH SIDES are out of line here. The Republicans have a whole lotta nerve for demanding that a fundamental rule protecting the minority be changed, but it looked pretty pathetic when Chris Matthews asked Jon Corzine tonight which of Janice Rogers Brown's rulings he most objected to, & Corzine could only bring up speeches she made outside the courtroom. It's like two aggressive parents who will never, ever stop fighting, & their children are fed up & begging mommy & daddy to stop acting like that. It's all about ego now, & has nothing to do with what's in the best interests of the American people, or even of the federal courts. And it's why people like me don't vote Republican (unless it's for someone like John McCain, Lincoln Chafee, or Olympia Snowe), but may be tempted to vote for a few Greens or other independent candidates every few years. In other words, although I may side with Democrats more often than Republicans, I still think the Dems are capable of behaving terribly, & when they do, I get real, real mad at them.

Which brings me to this Kathleen Parker column, which seems to have been written awhile back, but only showed up in the Sun-Sentinel today. I didn't think I agreed with Parker much before this, but she is RIGHT ON on a number of things. I particularly liked her emphasis on John P. Avlon's belief that centrism is both patriotism and dissent. If I'm a centrist, I am because I dislike being told how to think, & I hate it even more if the people trying to tell me how to think are all hysterical & take themselves too seriously & twist information around to suit their purposes. And do you know what? I'm proud to be that way!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

I heard a song today by a Christian hard rock band who shall remain nameless. I thought they were pretty good, if a little mainstream--much better than Creed, which is the most important thing. Apparently, the singer was heavily into drugs at one point, & found Jesus after he OD'd.

Now, I truly feel for people who've been in this situation, & for the people close to them. I wish this singer the absolute best, & hope he continues to have the support & the strength he needs to remain clean. But whenever I hear a story like this, I can't help thinking, "Why do people need something major like this to happen to them in order to find God?" Why don't I hear more stories about people who AREN'T into drugs & have relatively few problems finding God after they, oh, I don't know, read a story on how many millions of Americans don't have health insurance? Or after they see a bit on the news about the current situation in Darfur? Yeah, I know it's an understatement to say that more Americans need to pay more attention to what's going on in the world, & that our society just becomes more me-oriented each day. And I know, from my own experience, that it can be difficult to help others when you're in bad shape. Still, I'd love to hear a story one day about someone turning to Christianity because they genuinely want to help others--and NOT just because their own lives need to be changed.

And as a Christian who believes Jesus would have wanted us to protect the environment & would NOT have approved of corporate corruption, the growth of the "working poor," or starting wars on false pretenses, I'm sick & tired of feeling like I constantly have to defend my faith to my secular/atheistic liberal friends. I frequently hear the word "Christian" used in a derogatory manner, & I have to point out that many people who call themselves Christians DON'T support anything people like Tom DeLay or Bill Frist or Dr. James C. Dobson are calling for. After Pope John Paul II passed, I read a rant on LiveJournal from someone who felt the lowering of the flags to half mast in our country was a gross violation of separation of church & state, & I couldn't believe that, regardless of how she felt about the pope & the Church's policies, she couldn't understand that millions upon millions of people all over the world saw him as a spiritual leader, & that lowering flags in response to his death was an appropriate way to pay last respects to an incredibly influential man.

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