Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Well, nothing to report from last night. Hung out with Team Steans a bit.
Cassidy is having some dental surgery today to have a fractured tooth removed. Everyone wish her luck. (man, that dog really hates going to the vet)

And I normally don't blog a whole lot on the internal politics of African nations (I'm just lazy that way), but has anyone noticed what's going on in Zimbabwe? Apparently President Robert Mugabe may have lost a general election to an opposition party (the opposition party claim that they won the election outright, while Mugabe's party claimed the need for a runoof election), but instead of announcing the results and stepping down, Mugabe declared the need for a runoff election. At any rate, during this questionable runoff election, Mugabe's party proceeded to intimidate and threaten voters in order to get them to vote for Mugabe- while in the meantime, the opposition party leaders who had won the original election pulled out of the race, declaring the runoff a sham and stating that they refused to participate in an election that wasn't an honest part of a working democracy (they also seemed a little upset that members and supporters of their own party had suffered violence at the hands of the Mugabe regime).
Anyway, African leaders at the African Union summit in Egypt this week don't seem very happy with Mugabe (who showed up and acted as if nothing strange were going on), and I would bet that the U.N. isn't too happy with him, either. Given our apparent willingness to rush into other countries to defend their people whenever crimes against democracy occur, (which is what we're doing in Iraq, right President Bush?) shouldn't the U.S. be doing something to put a stop to this (or at least put some pressure on Mugabe to step down). I heard someone on NPR yesterday say that the U.S. might engage in some sort of trade sanctions against Zimbabwe (or something like that), but that always just seems to end with the people of the country getting starved out and deprived of a decent lifestyle while the rulers sort of carry on unscathed (e.g., North Korea or Iraq before our invasion).
Actually, I'm really not a big fan of the U.S. serving as the world police, but it just seems kind of ironic that these types of things are going on in the world and we pretty much let them go unanswered, while meanwhile the Bush administration keeps telling us that we're in Iraq to "protect democracy" and to "defend freedom". I bet that if the people of Zimbabwe can find some oil fields or other valuable natural resource under their soil that we can have some troops there right away to defend their democracy (incidentally, also according to NPR, there are mines for platinum and some other precious materials in Zimbabwe, but I think that British and European companies already have their hands on them- and they're just waiting for this election ruckus to die down so they can figure out who they need to cut their next deal with).

Man, I just erased a page long ramble about Barack Obama's proposal to continue federal support for faith based social welfare programs. My ramble was long and ponderous, and I had covered this stuff before (at least I think I had). Suffice it to say that I have concerns about the government giving money to churches (I think it may have First Amendment Establishment Clause problems), and I also have qualms about whether nonreligious people or people of different religious faiths are going to feel comfortable having to go down to their local Southern Baptist Church in order to get the free food and clothing that the government is helping to subsidize. But I understand that both Obama and the churches are trying to help, and that something needs to be done to help shore up the federal government's social services programs (I also think that incorporating religion into the mix makes welfare programs more palatable to the more right wing conservatives in the country).
Anyway, I'm sort of wary of the church/religion combo (remember when the founding fathers were as well? That whole business with getting run out of Europe because of religious persecution sure has a way of making people nervous about religious oppression), but we need the social services.
There. That's better. Shorter.


The League said...

As per Mugabe... I believe he told the UK to "go hang". As always, the UN and the US talk a good game, but aren't really willing to do much about dictators, petty or otherwise. Interesting, given the reasons the UN was established.

As per the Faith-based initiatives, I find it interesting that few talk about how these programs will be managed. But mostly I think of the origin of the phrase "taking the soup". I guess I wouldn't care too much about who was administering social programs if there's government-based oversight, but that just seems like a huge additional expense. And whether it would be enforced or not seems fairly unlikely.

J.S. said...

Yeah. "Go hang" just might become the "talk to the hand" of 2008.

And yeah, I'm also curious about who's going to be monitoring these fiath based initiatives in order to make sure that they're using their federal money within the bounds of the agreement (for nonproselytizing purposes). Of course, even if they ARE using the money correctly, money is fungible, right? And so churches that receive federal funds are going to have more of their money freed up to use on other areas (such as evangelical outreach- that's basically marketing and advertising for those of you who aren't that familiar with church terminology). So I find it hard to see how giving federal funds to religious institutions isn't going to end up with the federal government promoting or advancing religion- something which I think the 1st Amendment forbids.