Opinion

President Bush's Nomination Further Divides An Already Fractured Nation

As our country begins a new millennium with a new president, I sit and wonder what George W. Bush was thinking when he nominated Sen. John Ashcroft for attorney general. Bush was no more right in his choice than Al Gore was with his declaration that he invented the Internet. If America, and, for that matter, our new president, learned anything from the extensive battle fought in the Sunshine State, one thing should be certain: As our country enters the 21st century, the citizens are greatly divided as to how our country should be run. With this in mind, the first issue on Bush’s agenda should not be tax reform or campaign finance, but domestic healing. By this I mean to assert that Bush must prove his ability by healing a land greatly divided over the turn of events within the last two months. However, Bush’s decision to nominate Ashcroft to head the Department of Justice solely aggravates the current condition of discord in our country, and is quite simply a horrible choice for attorney general. To understand Bush’s mistake, one must understand what the position of attorney general encompasses. The head of the Department of Justice is one of the most powerful domestic positions in any president’s administration. The attorney general is the nation’s top cop and lawyer. He is like the Dick Tracy of the entire country, supervising the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Immigration Naturalization Services and the U.S. Marshals. With this position comes the ability to decide how to spend valuable money and time to combat crime for example, Reagan’s administration spent resources mainly on combating organized crimes and drugs. The attorney general also has a great influence in the appointment of judges to the Superior Court. So why is Ashcroft a bad choice for attorney general? The answers lies within his character, which can be understood by studying his career, and also in the issues that have presented themselves as being relevant in the next four years. Ashcroft’s actions have continuously depicted him as someone who is not the biggest fan of equality. Beginning in 1977, Ashcroft opposed court-ordered desegregation in the public schools of St. Louis and Kansas City. In 1983, he opposed a voluntary busing scheme in which 22 school districts in white suburbs approved having inner-city kids brought to their schools. He has vetoed laws that would help bring out black voter turnout in St. Louis. Ashcroft even helped defeat James Hormel’s nomination to be ambassador to Luxembourg because of Hormel’s openly known homosexuality. Probably the largest controversy surrounding Ashcroft lies with his opposition of the nomination of Ronnie White, a black judge, to the federal bench. Because of this record, many civil rights activists have been enraged by his nomination to head the justice department, and they should rightly be angered. After all, Ashcroft may not be a racist, but it is obvious his personal conservative views are affecting his political decisions to the detriment of equality. Civil rights activists are worried that Ashcroft will enforce the laws he values and deny the works of the past 30 years that strove to establish all men as equal. Ashcroft responds as any politician would, saying he will put aside his personal differences and uphold the law. I say bologna. (I would like to say something else but am not allowed to do so.) How can America trust Ashcroft to uphold laws that he does not believe in, when history has shown that Ashcroft defies the law and does as he wishes, such as he has with desegregation and busing? If America, as George Santayana said, “”does not remember the past, [we] are condemned to repeat it.”” I, for one, do not want to repeat the harsh times when people had to battle for their equality. Civil rights are not all that are at stake, but the issues of women’s rights and abortions are threatened as well. Ashcroft has forever been a staunch supporter of the anti-abortion movement. His wish is for a law that would ban abortion in all cases except when the mother’s life is threatened. Ashcroft even fought the nomination of former Surgeon General David Satcher because Satcher did not support partial-birth abortion bans. Ashcroft’s personal convictions are obviously very important to him and have determined his responses to many policies and people. If Ashcroft has fought against precedents like Roe v. Wade before, what will make him completely change his ways and now support those laws? Or is he assuring the public of future good deeds, so he can become Attorney General and have the chance to alter the laws he despises? The issue is not whether or not abortion is right, but if Ashcroft can support the current laws that say a woman has the right to choose. I say no man with Ashcroft’s record can undergo a full transformation to become something he is not. Ashcroft has even opposed safety locks on guns and the closing of the gun show loophole. Ashcroft even wishes to allow concealed weapons. The National Rifle Association and Charlton Heston have long backed Ashcroft. This is not a man of equality who would enforce laws for the good of all people; he would enforce them only for the good of the people who see the world in his eyes. This is not the job of an attorney general, but rather a job of a senator, as Ashcroft is and should remain. The office of attorney general is too influential and too important for us to let a biased man take it, because the department greatly affects all of our lives. Ultimately, America and Bush should realize that Lady Justice is supposed to be blind. Shouldn’t her right-hand man be so, too? ...

Fire Brings Out the Best and Worst in San Diego Citizens

On my way to school today, the DJ on the radio was going on and on about the Escondido Humane Society fire, which killed about 100 animals and left the rest without a facility. He mentioned that while it was tragic that so many animals lost their lives, it was incredible to see the outpouring of support and generosity that ensued. All over San Diego county, people are donating money, blankets, food, dog bowls, etc., to the Humane Society. While I somewhat agree with the DJ on the tragedy of the fire, I find myself in conflict over different feelings about the response of our fair city. Frankly, I find it pathetic that San Diegans will respond to something out of the ordinary, like a huge fire and a bunch of homeless dogs and cats, but fail to show any of that generosity and compassion on a regular basis. Obviously, I’m not just talking about our love for animals here. My point is that every day in San Diego, there are people who do not have food, people who need clothes and people who have nowhere to sleep. When you zoom out to the world at large, the problems become incomprehensible. The majority of people feel little compulsion to do anything to help those people, but when a few dogs need a home, they break the bank to help out. While I place some value on caring for our animal friends, my personal philosophy places far greater worth on human life than it does on animal life. I don’t see our whole city jumping up and down to send money to the earthquake victims in El Salvador. I didn’t even hear about it on the radio, but I have heard three different DJs whining about the Escondido animals. Though there is a considerable amount of aid flowing to El Salvador’s victims, this brings up another problem: It takes an isolated incident of grand proportions to get people to notice. Because the people that need help every day in our city are not making international headlines, they go ignored. There are no benefit concerts, no fund-raising bake sales, no spontaneous donations. People don’t want to help a cause unless it’s new, exciting and everyone knows about it. If you were planning on scraping a little off the top of your starving student budget to help out Escondido’s animals, maybe you could think a little and find a better place for your time and money. A large part of the population of Escondido, and of the rest of San Diego, has no access to health care (unlike the dogs), no money for food and very poor living conditions. By the time this column runs, I’d be willing to bet that the animals are doing just fine, and there’s nothing more you can do for them. Expand your horizons a little, and look around the rest of the city. Take this as your wake-up call for the day-to-day concerns of all of the two-footed mammals in the city. Let’s take better care of our own species first, and then we can worry about the rest. ...

Bush Chips Away at Abortion Rights

Newly “”elected”” President George W. Bush authored one of his first executive orders Monday, which bans the use of U.S. federal funds for international family planning groups that offer abortions or abortion counseling. As Democrats shed tears and Republicans leap for joy, middle-of-the-road voters should take a deep breath and hold on tight. The speed with which Bush has shed his supposedly moderate stance on abortion rights should disconcert his independent supporters, most of whom support a woman’s right to choose and only followed Bush based on his tax plans. In fact, these independents seem to be getting a nice surprise from their candidate: Thus far, it seems he is more determined to ban abortion rights than to give the tax cut upon which he slipped into office. Bush’s defense of the controversial executive order plays on a traditional Republican belief: that charitable organizations should be responsible for securing and supporting individuals’ rights rather than the federal government, and that private donations can cover the costs of programs such as family planning clinics. This theory, however, does not logically apply to the issue of abortion rights. The U.S. Supreme Court, in 1973’s Roe v. Wade and again in 1992’s Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, has acknowledged that the federal government is obliged to allow abortion clinics to operate and that it also must protect the women and clinics involved in such services. Bush’s new ban is an underhanded, sneaky way of chipping away at Roe’s demand for federal protection of the right to choose. It may be argued that these funds deserved to be revoked simply because they were being sent overseas, and technically Roe’s only requires federal protection of abortion rights in the United States. However, as one of only a handful of nations that supports a woman’s right to choose and women’s rights in general, it is essential that America take a clear, firm stance on these issues in order to voice concern for oppressed women throughout the world. In the last decade, violations of women’s rights have increasingly become more visible: The Taliban regime in Afghanistan denies female citizens essentials such as medical care, education, work and even the ability to move about freely. Meanwhile, the Middle East and parts of Africa have come under scrutiny for unjust practices such as sex slave industries and female genital mutilation. As the current world power, America’s stance on women’s rights is highly symbolic. Without pressure or leadership from a global authority such as the United States, these nations will have no reason to reform their oppressive practices. If only for symbolism, Bush needed to keep these now-banned funding programs in effect, but instead, he has single-handedly removed the United States from the international fight for women’s rights through a single executive order. As America recedes from the front of this war, there is little hope that these nations, already lacking respect for women’s humanity, will make any progress toward equality for women. During his reign at the White House, Bill Clinton successfully reimplemented these funding programs after Ronald Reagan had canceled them. Clinton is also credited with twice vetoing Congressional bills aiming to ban late-term abortions, also called “”partial-birth abortions”” by opponents. Yet, Clinton disappointed abortion rights supporters in his final days as president when he failed to place a moratorium on alterations to these controversial funds, and all federal funds for abortion services and education. Clinton also left office with only 14 percent of American counties able to provide abortion services. Although it is questionable whether Clinton could have had any truly permanent or lasting effect on this issue during his scramble to finish business at the White House, any type of symbolic outreach, speech or appearance perhaps could have delayed Bush’s attack by placing Clinton on stage as the hero in the fight for choice. It truly may have helped cement his legacy as a fighter for women’s rights, and it perhaps would have been a respected, popular and brave way to say good-bye to his loyal abortion rights supporters. Not long ago, a woman may have been able to consider herself lucky to have been born in the United States, for it is a comparatively progressive nation concerning women’s rights. Unfortunately, the Monday maneuver, which happened to occur on the 28th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, seems to be a grave forecast for what the Bush Administration has in store for American women. Within the executive order, Bush states, “”It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion either here or abroad.”” Unfortunately, it is the conviction of many women, including this one, that economic and financial limitations should never render one’s reproductive rights nonexistent. ...

More 'S' Parking Needed for UCSD's Fed Up Students

There are not enough student parking spots at UCSD. This ceased to be news a long time ago. However, we at the Guardian have realized one thing with the opening of the two new on-campus parking structures this year: Absolutely nothing is being done to alleviate the aforementioned crisis. It’s the same old song and dance with the new structures: scores of empty green and red spaces; few or no yellow spaces. Students are being taken advantage of. We recently went to the new Gilman and Torrey Pines structures during their peak occupancy hours for all three types of spots — according to Director of Parking and Transportation Greg Snee, this is Tuesday and Thursday between 11 am and 1 pm. — to get an idea of how many of each type of space are vacant. Our count for the Gilman structure: 38 vacant “”A”” spots; one vacant “”B”” spot; zero vacant “”S”” spots and there were three cars waiting for S spots. Our count for the Torrey Pines structure: 112 vacant “”A”” spots; 240 vacant “”B”” spots; 13 vacant “”S”” spots. True, the structures are relatively new, and it may be that not all graduate students, staff and faculty know they are open. However, they must be parking somewhere. On the other hand, the same can be said about undergraduates — we must be parking somewhere. For us, “”somewhere”” means far off in the boondocks; people actually have to come pick us up in buses and take us back to campus. Why are there no red or green spots in the East or Regents lots? Red and green permits are more expensive than yellow permits, but why can’t students buy red and green permits? UCSD Parking and Transportation and the administration are either ignoring the lack of student parking, or they are acting ineffectively. We at the Guardian propose a simple and cheap solution: Get a few pails of yellow paint and go to town on some of those red and green spots. At least then, all of us will be in the same boat. At least then, it will be fair. At least then, the people to whom the university listens might actually cause something to happen. ...

Catholic Group's Proposal to Make Mary 'Divine' Creates Conflict

For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has held the Virgin Mary at a higher level than other Christian churches. Now, however, over 6 million Catholics have petitioned the pope to elevate Mary’s status to a dangerously high level that would make her almost equal with Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity. The Christian religion, at its core, affirms that Jesus died so that all people may have eternal life. To declare at this point that the Virgin Mary’s cooperation with God and suffering at the cross also saved humanity from sin would overturn basic Christian beliefs and drive a huge wedge between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians. The special devotion that Catholics have for the Virgin Mary stems from the fact that she accepted God’s will and became the mother of Jesus. Catholics believe that she lived her life without sin and, upon her death, was taken into heaven, body and soul. She is now seen as an intercessor or mediator between people and God. Although some may misinterpret it as such, the devotion that Catholics have for the Virgin Mary is essentially different from the adoration that they have for God. The Catholic Catechism clearly articulates that difference. A group known as “”Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici,”” or “”Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix,”” is calling on the pope to proclaim a new dogma bestowing upon Mary the titles coredemptrix, mediatrix of all graces and advocate for the people of God. These titles essentially imply that Mary uniquely participated in the redemption of all people from sin and that all graces that come from Jesus come through the intercession of Mary. Adopting such language and proclaiming it as infallible dogma, which is what Vox Populi is calling on the pope to do, would bring the church into uncharted and dangerous territory. If Catholics currently want to believe that Mary contributed to the salvation of people by acknowledging God’s will and giving birth to his son, that is fine. Many Catholics have a strong devotion to Mary. Many pray to her as an intercessor on a daily basis. Many credit her with bringing them closer to God. If Catholics want to give her that extra credit, they may, but to force all Catholics to accept that idea would be a mistake. If I help lead a person to God or to the church, I can say that I have participated in that person’s redemption. At the same time, however, I would acknowledge that the power came originally from God and that I was only an instrument of God. Similarly, Mary was an instrument of God. We praise her and honor her for her willingness to cooperate with God, but we do not worship her, nor should we elevate her to the point where she becomes divine. Father Rene Laurentin, a French monk and leading Mary scholar, was recently quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune saying, “”Mary is the model of our faith, but she is not divine. There is no mediation or co-redemption except in Christ. He alone is God.”” Laurentin’s words sum up the opinions of the majority of Christians on the matter. Mary’s status within the Catholic Church is one of the main dividing lines between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians. Pope John Paul II, the current leader of the Catholic Church, has shown a special personal devotion to the Virgin Mary. He credits her with saving his life in an assassination attempt 20 years ago. At the same time, he has also shown a commitment to ecumenism and unity among all Christian churches. In his 1994 book, “”Crossing the Threshold of Hope,”” the Pope devotes three chapters to the topic of ecumenism titled “”Is Only Rome Right?”” “”In Search of Lost Unity”” and “”Why Divided?”” The pope noted then that in the first millennium, the church was undivided, while the second millennium was marked by division. He called for increased unity by the start of the third millennium. In light of these words, it would not make sense for him to start this millennium with a proclamation that would not only widen the divide between Catholics and other Christians, but also cause division within the Catholic Church among Catholics who disagree with such dogma. In his book, the pope stated, “”All of us, in fact, believe in the same Christ. … So there is basis for dialogue and for the growth of unity, a growth that should occur at the same rate at which we are able to overcome our divisions — divisions that to a great degree result from the idea that one can have a monopoly on truth.”” If the pope were to issue a statement that many Christians inside and outside the Catholic Church disagree with, and claim infallibility in doing so, he would be going against his own words and ideas regarding ecumenism. The pope is a very intelligent man and wise leader of the Catholic Church. He should not and will not make a statement that is unnecessary and will cause widespread division in the Christian world. Christians and non-Christians alike look up to him; he is a uniting figure. A religious crisis in the world is the last thing he needs to create. ...

No Love Affair Between Bush, Gays

It makes me cringe to know that such an ignorant little man will be leading our country for the next four years. I don’t see how President George W. Bush can call himself a compassionate conservative when he aims to hurt 10 percent of the population. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD, and other gay organizations have been fueling the anti-Bush fire since the beginning of his campaign. Their most successful anti-Bush advertising has been the publicizing of his shackling, hurtful policies toward gays and lesbians. He opposes same-sex marriage. He does not even want to allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The Dallas Morning News quoted him saying, “”I believe children ought to be adopted in families with a woman and man who are married.”” He supports the military’s “”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”” policy, as shown by his cabinet nomination of Gen. Colin Powell, who was the creator of that policy. He opposes hate-crime legislation, which would be used for such cases as Matthew Shepard’s. Dubya’s most eloquent statement is the following as collected by The Dallas Morning News: “”The next president must fight against discrimination, but I think we can do so without special treatment of people.”” It’s interesting because the context in which he says this regards employment nondiscrimination. With that statement, he decided to solve the problem of discrimination against gay and lesbian employees by ignoring it. His policy is repulsive when it comes to AIDS and health care. Bush is an opponent of funding for AIDS health care. During his term, the Texas Department of Health began a name-reporting program for people with HIV (see http://www.planetout.com for information). That it is possibile to find out if someone has a disease is a complete invasion of privacy. With that information, one would think that all openly gay people would have voted for Al Gore in the past election. However, according to www.Planetout.com, 25 percent of openly gay voters voted for Bush. Planetout columnist Michelangelo Signorele stated that this is a ceiling not a floor, because no one knows how many gays were unwilling to declare their sexuality at the polls. Considering that so much of America consists of little backwater towns in the middle of nowhere, that is a low, low ceiling. Obviously, if you lived in one of those towns, you might not be comfortable with your homosexuality. One might ask, why would anyone who is gay vote Republican to begin with? Some have suggested that the absence of a positive progression of gay rights legislation by the Democratic president in the last eight years has caused many frustrated gay Democrats to vote Bush. The same-sex marriage bill was not passed and the “”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”” military bill was. This caused a lot of frustration. Currently, there is even a small contingent of gay Republicans called the “”Log Cabin Republicans.”” A lot of older gays and lesbians could have voted Republican for economic reasons. Many gay and lesbians couples are known as DINKs, or “”Double Income, No Kids.”” They do not have the tax advantages that come with marriage, so they would want to be taxed as little as possible. Because these couples don’t have kids, they have a larger amount of disposable income and therefore want less of it taken away. Republican emphasis on low taxes for those in higher tax brackets would benefit most DINKs. Many say that blatant discrimination and the predicted sinking economy will contribute to a quick four-and-out for Bush. This would possibly cause the next president to be Democrat. Supposedly, Dubya will leave such a bad taste in voters’ mouths that they will be eager to elect a Democrat, preferably Hillary Clinton, for the following eight years. Bush will hurt gays in ways that have yet to be discussed. The obvious way he will affect gay rights is with his appointments to the Supreme Court. The less obvious way he will affect gay rights is his thousands of appointments in the executive branch. Those thousands of appointments will be little personal additions to the federal government, and each one will have its own effect on the workings of the government. The most representational gauge of how things will go between Bush and gays for the next four years may be seen in how the Bush administration handles Linda Cheney, the out-lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney. Or rather, how it does not handle her. Whenever the media asks a member of the Bush administration about Linda, the reply is “”no comment.”” I can assure you that will be the reply for the next four years concerning gay and lesbian issues. No comment. ...

It Doesn't Take a Rocket Scientist

I always hear pieces of the ongoing argument regarding the hard sciences vs. the social sciences. Based on personal experience, I can say it is far more difficult and time-consuming to be an engineer. I am a computer engineering major with a minor in political science. I feel I can make this argument because I’ve been in both types of classes. Social scientists often complain about the difficulty of their majors. For instance, there are a large number of people who think it is hard to be an economics or a psychology major. They think that courses such as the ECON 120 sequence are so hard and time-consuming. What bothers me most is that they think these classes are comparable to engineering classes. These complaints sound petty to me. I don’t think that the classes are really comparable. Engineers have the really hard courses and, in general, the harder curriculum. I agree that certain social science classes may be competitive, in that it is hard to earn an A, but it is in no way as challenging or time consuming as a serious engineering course. I want to make it clear: At UCSD, the engineers prevail. The academic difficulty level for engineers far exceeds the difficulty level of any social science major. Engineers spend more time on their classes than most social scientists. A social scientist just reads and writes. A social scientist rarely has to retain knowledge from an earlier course to do well in a course that follows. Most social science majors are just extensions of history with a touch of criticism and argument. As long as you know how to write and you keep up with the material, you can pass a social science class. For an engineer, the material from prerequisite courses really determines the outcome of your future classes. For instance, how can you do well in Physics 2D without having ever taken Physics 2A? How can you do well in Math 21D without having ever take Math 20A? How can you code a compiler without knowing what a data structure is? If I had to rank academic difficulty, engineers have the hardest curriculum at UCSD. The hard science majors, such as bio and chemistry, have a curriculum with medium difficulty. Last, the social scientists, such as economics and political science majors, have the easiest time. I consider the curriculum of other majors such as economics or political science to be trivially difficult compared with science or engineering majors. Let’s compare some department curriculum requirements in terms of numbers. Let’s not consider general education requirements. Economics majors are required to take roughly 17 courses. Political science majors are required to take 16 courses. Biology majors have to take between 22 and 27 courses for their major. Computer engineers are required to take more than 35 courses. Bioengineers are required to take more than 40 courses to graduate. Do the math. Do you social scientists see the difference? Why do you complain? It takes 180 units (45 classes) to graduate. Social scientists have enough time left over for things called electives. Most of the social scientists actually have to take electives in order to hit 180 units. Social scientists have time to pursue minors or double majors. It is even possible for a social science major to graduate in three years. Most of the engineers do not take electives, unless it is for fun. It is highly unlikely for an engineer to graduate in three years due to the curriculum requirements. As a result of the easier curriculum, social science majors get to have more time and a more relaxed schedules. If social science majors were required to take more than 30 classes for their majors, I suppose I wouldn’t be ranting about this issue. In my opinion, the difficulty level of a social science major and that of an engineering major are not even comparable. The curriculum alone highlights why it is harder to be an engineer and easier to be a social scientist. I know a lot of you social scientists think differently and might be a little outraged. Let me know your opinion so we can print it. Send a comment to the editor. ...

The Making of an American President

Well folks, it looks like spring cleaning has come early this year. Just as many of us have been cleaning our rooms, the American people have tossed the rubbish out of the White House. Indeed, the air is much better today than it has been for the last eight years. Although the Democratic Party and Jesse “”Rent-a-Mob”” Jackson tried their hardest to steal the presidential election, Bush rightfully emerged victorious. I cannot say their behavior was unexpected: After all, these are the same people who murdered Vince Foster, who sold nuclear secrets to communist China and who, at every opportunity, have done their best to deceive the American people while pursuing their own corrupt agenda. What saddens me is that these people have been hurling mud at President George W. Bush for weeks, trying to sour his presidency before he was even sworn in. What is even worse is that many believe these lies. That’s why talk show host Michael Savage has dubbed most liberals as “”sheeple.”” They are like sheep, following a leader without questioning his motives. But this is UCSD. If you’re here, then you’re too smart to fall for their lies. Democrats want you to believe that Bush’s victory is illegitimate because it was by such a small margin. Newsflash, America: It doesn’t matter whether he won by two votes or 20 million votes; Bush still won. Democrats want you to believe that not all ballots were counted. That’s obviously not the case, because all votes were counted, some twice, and in some places, as many as four times. Remember how loudly the liberals yelled for a hand recount of the thousands of so-called undervotes in Miami-Dade County, while sensible Republicans said that those people simply didn’t vote for a presidential candidate? Well, the Palm Beach Post hand-counted the votes and largely confirmed its hunch by reporting that 75 percent of the ballots had no markings for any presidential candidates, 20 percent had markings for more than one candidate, and only 5 percent showed some marking for a candidate. And guess what? Bush actually gained six votes in this recount. Gore actually lost ground with this recount. I personally cannot wait until all the votes in Florida are recounted so we can see just how large Bush’s margin of victory really was. Not that the truth matters to the Democratic Party. It’s particularly funny to me that liberals claim Bush is dumb by poking fun at his Texan accent and heritage. They say he’s slow. Well, I’ve read about another president who was considered stupid by opponents. A very slow speaker, he was referred to by some as the “”Dumb Ox.”” History books refer to him as Abraham Lincoln. Others claim Bush’s inexperience will doom him. Clinton seemed to do all right for himself after being the governor of “”The Wal-Mart State.”” One “”inexperienced”” president stands out in my mind. He was sworn in during a terrible recession, yet he turned around the economy and also brought the Soviet Union down to its knees. His name is Ronald Reagan, and he is the finest president this country has ever had. Perhaps we should give Bush a chance before condemning his presidency. We are certainly better off with him in office than Al Gore. If the American people prosper, who should reap the benefits of this success, the people who earned this money or the federal government? It should be given back to the people, of course. We are a capitalist society. The rules are simple. Work as hard as you can to earn as much as you can. So if our hard work has resulted in a federal budget surplus, then why should the government claim the extra money it took from us? Bush’s plan is very simple: If you pay income taxes, then you will receive a tax cut. Low- and middle-income workers will receive the biggest tax cut. Everyone will benefit from this. More importantly, the sinking economy Clinton left us with will receive a vital boost because people will use this extra money to buy more products and invest directly into the market. Democrats will lead you to believe that Bush’s prior bouts with alcoholism make him unfit for the presidency. This could not be any further from the truth, as it shows his strength far more than his weakness. Bush admits that he is an alcoholic, but the main thing is that he has stopped drinking. Most people are simply not strong enough to stop, yet Bush managed to do so. It is a perpetual battle for him. He will always be tempted to take that one drink that will turn into many. Yet he obviously has the strength to fight this temptation, and that speaks volumes of his true character. Democrats certainly have no basis for condemning morals. Where should I start? The “”Reverend”” Jesse Jackson just admitted to fathering a child outside of his wife’s company. Witnesses have come forth alleging that Gore used to be an outrageous dope fiend. Clinton apparently smoked a few joints too, but “”didn’t inhale.”” Right, and Monica was just trying to perform CPR. One of the nastiest lies the Democrats will tell you is that Bush will take away a woman’s right to choose. Lies, lies, lies. While Bush feels that abortion is morally wrong, he has no intention of trying to outlaw it. People who claimed otherwise were merely trying to scare you into voting for Gore. But you were too smart to fall for their lies, right? ...

Just Exactly How Sweet is it to be Loved by You?

Dear Littles and Germinates, Who loves you? I mean who, really? Have you taken time this new year, this (let’s be honest) only now officially new millennium, to take stock of the people in your life? Do it now. As soon as you finish reading this sentence, close the paper, close your eyes, and review the names and faces of the joyful souls, the fast and firm friends, and the blessings in human guise that make your life worth living. Who did you come up with? Your family? Friends here? Friends at home? When were the last times you paused for a moment to tell them, “”Hey, did you know that I’m glad I’m alive at the same time you are?”” You need to do that more often, don’t you? I’m sure that I do. I am blessed with generous and brilliant parents, a hilarious and thoughtful brother, and many friends near and far who shower me with love, support and inspiration. I don’t thank them nearly enough. I want to take a moment to sing the praises of one particular friend of mine. I invite you to read along, and to reflect on how you might do the same for the people in your life. My friend’s birthday is coming up, which makes this the perfect time to go on record to say that my friend is the one who makes my spirit soar, who gives wings to my life. We’ve known each other almost eight years now. We met in high school and have kept in touch since. We’ve had our ups and downs; times we weren’t speaking with each other; times no one else could get a word in between us. My friend goes to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., so we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. But my friend is very happy there. My friend co-founded an environmental activist group that has made local and state headlines. My friend has played the college game well enough to thrive academically, while retaining a genuine love of learning. My friend has kept in touch with and grown closer to our companions from high school, while gathering a wide and wonderful group of new friends at college. When I came back to San Diego after a year away, I used my friend’s success as a model for what I could do here. This is only one among many ways I draw inspiration from my friend. My friend won a national scholarship last year. My friend brought me a four-leaf clover once. My friend is learning to play catch and to whistle. When the time came, after six years of hitch-hiking, for me to get my driver’s license, my friend was the one who gave me lessons, urged me on, and got up early in the morning to take me to the test. My friend also happens to be beautiful. My friend has a comfortable way that sets people at ease. My friend has a great body, and the right fashion sense to go with it. My friend has taught me to be comfortable with my own sexuality. My friend has taught me new ways of relating to my friends and my family. My friend draws giant chalk murals on the sidewalk. My friend works out three times a week or more. My friend loves olives and hates tomatoes. Who are you thinking of as you read all this? Do they know you think of them this way? Below, you’ll find a personal message from me to my friend. Again, I invite you to read it, and to consider the person, or people, you could say the same things to. Then I’d like you to go and do just that. My friend, There is a box in my heart where joy and wonder and love await the sound of your voice. It is not a box I built; it is a box you found and unlocked in the early days of our knowing each other. Thank you for opening me. Thank you for sharing with me the strength and wisdom of your life. Thank you for teaching me how to share joy and wonder and love with others. My friend, you embody so many of the qualities I seek. You know how to wield focus and effort to accomplish your goals. You study and struggle to understand the world and your place in it. You confront adversity continuously without becoming bitter. You think pragmatically without losing your sense of awe. From you I am learning respect, understanding, humility, discipline and so much more. My friend, when I was weak and tired, you laid me down to rest. When I was afraid and full of sorrow, you held my head while I cried. When I was trapped by fear and self-doubt, you spoke the words that set me free. Your spirit moves me as no other. What I know of the meaning of the word joy, I learned from watching your smile. What I know of the meaning of the word wonder, I learned from hearing your voice. What I know of the meaning of the word love, I learned from holding your hand. My friend, Michelle Sargent, is the love of my life, and I will never be able to express how thankful I am for that. ...

My Wish for 2001: A Year of Political Unity

I actually have a very simple wish list for the 2001 year, for it involves only one request.Not that I expect to get what I ask for, but nonetheless I’m putting it out for the world to see. All I ask for is political unity. For I have become so sick of watching political divisiveness tear our country apart. All I have to do is flip on the TV or open a newspaper to see that politics as usual continues in Washington, full steam ahead without taking into account the terrible toll it is taking on the people. There is so much focus on Democrats or Republicans that a wide chasm has formed between the two parties, and it is almost impossible to breach. It is this hostile political climate that acts to suppress needed reform and keeps the current gridlock firmly in place. Politics as usual in Washington equals no change. Take a look. The past election is a perfect example. The Democrats’ bitterness over losing the election has put them on the warpath, which in turn has put the Republicans on the defensive. Mark my words, no real reform will take place over the next four years. If the past couple months have been any indicator, the Democrats and Republicans will not budge from their all-holy party line. Instead, controversy, attacks and chaos will rule the next four years. I don’t mean to be a cynic, really I don’t, but I’m just telling you what I know will happen based on what has already happened. Or better yet, based on the lack of anything happening. This unhealthy obsession with partisanship and conflict merely enforces the current status quo in which nothing is being done to fix our society’s problems. Picture this: Our country is drowning with so many unfixed problems, yet our political parties won’t stop their bickering and personal attacks long enough to throw out a life preserver. It’s a pathetic but true picture. The issues of reforming education, healthcare and social security, for example, can only be solved when a spirit of political unity is formed. A spirit of bipartisanship that transcends party lines must be created. So my solution: Political parties must go. And in their place we must bring back the ideals of civility, respect, compromise and decency that our country was originally founded upon. There was a time when there were no political parties to divide us and alienate one another. It was the time of Washington’s Presidency. When President Washington left office he warned against forming political parties as they would divide us and undermine the common good. Yet we did not heed his warning, instead we focused on our individual interests and steamrolled to where we are today. The current ”me-centered”” society in which individual rights are seen as foremost serves only to pit individuals and groups against one another, thereby undermining the rights of the collective good. If it’s all about ”me,” and what ”I” can get, then all hope to reform politics is indeed lost. Therefore this antagonistic individualistic trend must go and we must again focus on what is best for the overall public good. Because politics involves more than one person, it involves our entire society. Thus it makes sense to watch out for the good of everyone. All I ask for is political unity. Is it really too much to ask for? Out with the old divisive ways, and in with political unity is my motto. How else will we solve the pressing issues of the day without civility and compromise and political unity as our tools? I see the 21st century as a crucial turning point. It can either be a time for great political unity or political antagonism and division. Our tragic state of politics will never change as long as we don’t. For politics is merely a reflection of who we are, a mirror in which our worst attributes are magnified. So instead of being apprehensive about change, we must embrace it so we can better our society and ourselves. So how about it, are we up for a little political unity, some political change? Or do we like what we have become: ravenous vultures out for blood? Or do we all just not give a damn? Whatever your answer, it won’t cause me sleepless nights. This is after all just a wish list. I don’t expect anyone or anything to ever change. That’s why I’m a cynic. ...