Monday, April 07, 2008

What Issues Should DHS be Focusing On?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently placed even more emphasis on state compliance with the Real ID Act. Part of this initiative pushes for national IDs, as opposed to state IDs, in order to reduce the prevalence of identification fraud after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Many states are opposing this Act, claiming "bullying the states is not the answer, nor is threatening their citizens' rights to travel." State representatives are also rejecting the Act on the basis of the financial burden associated with it. However, if states fail to comply with the Act within a certain designated time frame, DHS has stated it will refuse to regard state ID cards as acceptable forms of federal identification.

Other issues addressed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in relation to DHS's practices included the current waiting list for naturalizations, meaning that many citizens-to-be who have paid their taxes and are productive members of society will not be able to vote in the 2008 Presidential Election.

Should DHS be concentrating on the Real ID Act when there are naturalization orders to process? Is the Department perhaps lending too much importance to the Act in light of Post-9/11 sentiment? Or should matters of national security actually be the focus of the Department of Homeland Security?

Should President Bush Boycott the Opening of the Olympic Games?

Protests have occurred around the world regarding the decision to hold the Olympic Games in Beijing. (This issue was brought to the blog earlier in the semester in an article about Steven Spielberg's opposition). China has been placed not only in a spotlight of prominence, but also under a microscope of international scrutiny, particularly regarding alleged human rights abuses. The argument is not only about China's human right's policies, but that like the title of the article in the link, the Olympics are "Worsening China Rights". How so? Well a perfect example would be the sentencing of activist of Hu Jia which this article suggests has occurred so that he will be silenced during the games.
With that context, I chose to post this article for the following section. The author writes, 
"US President George W Bush is facing calls to boycott the Games' opening. "It would be clearly inappropriate for you to attend the Olympic Games in China, given the increasingly repressive nature of that country's government," a group of 15 US politicians wrote in a letter to Mr Bush on Tuesday.Mr Bush has said he plans to attend the ceremony but Germany's Angela Merkel says she will not. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not ruled out a boycott." This passage of the article stood out to me for several reasons. If the issue is China's human rights abuses, what substantive effect could a boycott of the Opening Ceremonies achieve? I don't personally believe there are any. The argument, I believe, would therefore be that heads of state should boycott for symbolic reasons, which leads me to several questions. How useful is a symbolic act? I don't think many would argue that President Bush boycotting the ceremonies would effect the human rights policies of a sovereign nation, but at the same time, what does it say to and about our nation if our President attends when other heads of state (perhaps more enlightened?) are not? Does it matter? Should it matter? Are we afraid to draw attention to our own human rights controversies? Is our president ignoring international protests? Do human rights controversies of the host country even have a role in the discussion of the Olympic Games at all?