Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No Win Situation

What's funny about politics is the fact that politicians often have very short memories and absolutely cannot understand the consequences of their actions. Let's use President Obama's campaign promise of closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which was overwhelmingly supported by a majority of the members of the Democratic Party, as an example. Don't get me wrong, I think Obama has done a pretty good job so far and expect him to get even more accomplished in the remaining 3 years in office. What I take offense with is politics in general. During his election campaign in 2008, then Senator Obama promised (read here, page 5) that, "As President, Barack Obama will close the detention facility at Guantanamo". I have no problem with the President closing down the facility, it is probably the right thing to do, but there are always consequences to every action. Only now are we seeing what those campaign promises are leading to.

Just watch any news channel today and you will see the story being played out on all of them. Closing the detention facility has one very large consequence which no one seemed to have realized when it was marked. If we close Guantanamo, where will the detainees go? There are several options for this problem, but only two that are remotely feasible. Unfortunately, neither option is all that good or politically acceptable for most politicians. First, we could send the detainees to another country, hopefully friendly to the U.S., to prosecute or to be released. Secondly, we could bring the detainees into the U.S. and try them here, with the consequence that if convicted they will be imprisoned here too. Although it seems that the latter is the more likely option, it seems we are far from a consensus or action on it.

Granted, the current fighting is very much along party lines, but there are few Democrats that are willing to bring these suspected terrorists into the country that they have sworn to destroy. Now, let me ask one question: When the proposal for closing Guantanamo was aired what did they expect to happen to the detainees? Did they just expect the problem to go away if Guantanamo was closed. This is a fine example of what could go wrong when a promise is made based purely on a political agenda. The Democratic Party pushed this promise throughout the campaign and it ended by painting them into a corner. Now several Democrats are trying to distance themselves on this very touchy subject. A few are even putting more pressure on the President to solve the problem without providing an adequate solution themselves. I don't know what they are thinking right now, but none of this indecision is making anyone look good. Now is the time to bite the bullet and do the right thing. Do I expect the posturing to stop? No, unfortunately I expect to see more politicking.

Many have publicly stated their concerns about bringing the detainees here, and honestly, I think that these people give way too much credit to the people we have in custody. Why do I think this way? First, they are not superhuman. They cannot just break their bonds at will. They are constantly under armed guard, military armed guard. Next, most detainees do not speak our language, and if they miraculously escape, will not be able to effectively blend into to the local population, no matter where they are held. Also, most of the detainees we have are not dangerous by themselves. There are few masterminds in the group capable of planning an escape of any kind. I don't think that the majority of these people are physically danger. They may have dangerous ideas, but they do not carry the plague. They cannot infect anyone just by being near them. They are only as dangerous as the average violent offender in the U.S. prison system right now. So what's the real reason for not wanting them here? Are they afraid that if we give them a jury trial that we will have to give them rights? That these dangerous individuals will use and abuse our justice system? Then make sure that the laws do not allow them to press an unfair and unearned advantage.

In the end it comes down to one thing: The partisan bickering needs to end and the work of correcting what's wrong with this country needs to start. I, for one, am tired of Republicans and Democrats arguing just for the sake of it. I know that both parties have differences in ideology, but the American people need more than high minded ideals to get us out of this current recession. I realize that certain segments of the problem has gotten better, but not everything is. Now is the time to work together, not argue, and make America the power that it once was. Stop the butting of heads on health care. Stop with the unproductive Socialist commentary. Stop the inaction on unemployment. It's time to get people jobs, good pay, a place to live and keep them healthy. I don't care how it's done, but it does need to get done.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shiny New Things

One thing I've know for a very long time is that I am a huge fan of new technology. As a kid I was always interested in the latest news on computers, games and all the new hardware that was out there in the stores of the day. Radio Shack was one of my favorite mall destinations, along with the only decent arcade in town. Unfortunately, I had to wait many years to get the opportunity to get my own computer, a little less than 4 years ago to be exact. Since that time I have embraced the technologies that I was never able to have as a child and young man. Now I can appreciate it more.

Like I said, I got my my first computer not too long ago, and being 31 at the time, a little later in life than most. I shopped around a bit and decided on a Gateway computer. My Gateway was good for its time, not great, but good. It did all I needed it to -work, games and (of course) surfing the internet. A couple of months ago my aged and worn Gateway's DVD drive stopped working. And then the next week its power adapter died. Well, that was all the prodding I needed toward getting a new laptop.

I, again, shopped around for a new computer. Luckily it didn't take me long to find one I liked. I just had to get a flat black, dual core Sony Vaio. I've had some time to play around with this new toy, and I have to say, I'm very impressed by it. I love the look of the case, the great display, the feel of the keyboard and the fact that it had Windows 7 already installed on it. Coming from an XP system to the newest Windows OS I have to say, I like it. The new features and improvements make using my computer a bit better than I've experienced before. But, I won't go into detail on that. I will talk about the other computer that I bought this month.

Maximum PC's Editor in Chief Will Smith asked an important question in it's December issue, "What exactly is a personal computer"? I've had some time to think about this one a bit for myself lately. I do have a classic version of the PC, a desktop that belongs to the wife, and the more modern version that I discussed above. Mr Smith does bring up several other devices that are closely related and commonly found in a lot of homes in this day and age. My PS3 and 360 are very similar to a PC if not exactly meeting the standard definition. Now, about my other PC. I recently picked up a smartphone -specifically the HTC G1, the Google phone. It (like the other devices in my home) doesn't exactly qualify as a PC, but what is a PC these days?

The G1 can do a lot of the basic stuff that my laptop can do. It can connect to the internet, take notes, check the weather, view my e-mail, wake me up in the morning and a few thousand other tasks that I may want it to do. At risk of sounding old, I remember the days when phones could only make calls. Their displays could only show numbers in a single line monochrome LCD display. Seeing what smartphones can do these days is making me a believer in the possibilities of these smaller, more portable devices. Calling them smartphones is selling these devices short. Just call them smart period.