Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cheney, Nixon, and Ford

According to VP Cheney, Pres. Ford did the right thing in pardoning Pres. Richard Nixon immediately after taking office after the disgraced President resigned. Hmm. Spoken like a man threatened with his own impeachment. If you want to hear from a bunch of Republicans about the virtues of 'healing' and getting on with it, check out this story from Yahoo! News: Otherwise, suffice it to say that this obviously not true. Looking at what Nixon's criminal activities while in office has made the entire country skeptical of the position. Instead of indicting, prosecuting, and convicting a president resigned from his post, he has been excused of his bad behavior. This isn't healing--healing would be in allowing us to see Nixon as a bad seed that was corrupted by power. Instead, we are left to suggest that all presidents are likely to be bad seeds. Take a look at the first elected president after Nixon: Jimmy Carter. Carter was the most respectable and appropriate president of the last fifty years, for sure, but we weren't allowed to appreciate those virtues.

You know, Dick, it isn't about making the right decision at a time, it is the right decision for all-time. Gerald Ford was courageous in his decision: too bad the repercussions have not been what he had hoped. Now as for you, Mr. Cheney, perhaps you will be saved from impeachment, but I’m sure you’ll be fighting legal battles for the next decade. Hey, you made your own bed.

Friday, December 22, 2006

No surge is a good surge...

The political topic de jour is “the surge”. Yes, Mr. President, like your advisors, you want to boost troop levels the same way you passed 'the middle-class tax cut' in 2001: by forwarding service personal that they would ordinarily hire later. So, we’re talking about adding up to 30,000 more soldiers for the Iraq Conflict and for what? So that we can produce a “surge” that would certainly overwhelm the insurgency and the civil war will instantly stop, peace would break out throughout the Middle East and trees would produce chocolate chip cookies.

And what happens when this (like everything else) doesn’t work? John McCain and Colin Powell have asked for years now for a boost in troop levels, but they are talking about 100,000 or more. They first were talking about big, overwhelming numbers to crush the spirit of any insurgency that may develop. Well, we came in with few troops and the insurgency showed up. Big surprise. That MO now, cannot possibly work, because we aren’t invading again.

And has anyone explained to you George, that this morass is not ‘winnable’? There is no win-win. There isn’t even a win-lose scenario. There is only lose-lose. The U.S. will not save face in this. Democracy will likely not hold, let alone spread. None of our stated objectives (including the updated ones) will be achieved. As for the Iraqis, their country is in ruins, is impoverished, and desperate. They are not likely to come out of this kind of devastation for decades at the earliest. It will remain a breeding ground for discontent, because that is what poverty does. We have turned Baghdad into Detroit.

The U.S. has no stated opponent and according to military definitions isn’t at war in Iraq. I have stated this before, and I’m going to suggest it again. Bush, your only option is to proclaim Mission Accomplished (again) and move the U.S. out of Iraq. Since this is a war of perception more than bombs, anyway, why don't you take control of the message? We all know you're a liar, so what is one more white lie? The people will eat it up, desperate to hear that we didn’t waste time, energy, money, and human lives in an Iraq invasion. This isn’t cutting-and-running since we will declare that we have defeated the enemy. The Iraqi people can finally try to stand up, and whether they do or not isn’t really a problem—look at the response we gave Afghanistan at the 2004 Olympics—“our newest democracy” we said—all the while, the country is in shambles, is devastated, and is under the control of warlords. Now that sounds like some tasty democracy!

So George, declare victory already! What are you waiting for? The sooner you get the media out of Iraq, the more of your face is saved. Some media sources are sniffing around the Iraq Study Group’s report that says that over 1,000 attacks occur daily, while we hear about fewer than 10% in our news. People are starting to realize that the figure of Iraqi deaths from last month topping 600,000 isn’t actually off—if anything it’s low. You don’t want people to know how bad this mistake is. Pull us out, cover it up, and encourage us to move on already so you can save your presidency. Then we’ll listen when you unveil No Child Left Behind II: the Reckoning.

Millen, don’t draft Brady Quinn!

Or Troy Smith! Yes, I am a Michigan fan, and no, I’m not a Quinn or a Smith Hater, but I think drafting the best player in college football, quarterback Brady Quinn, would be a disaster for the Lions.

Yes, Brady Quinn is the best player in college football. In fact, he had a better year statistically than Troy Smith, and had Quinn been the QB at Ohio State, you might have seen him push for 4,000 yards. Notre Dame was weak, and the Heisman Trophy voters were dazzled by what Troy Smith didn’t do—run like Vince Young, even though he has that talent. And don’t forget that 12-0 record. If the roles were reversed, Troy would not have won as QB at Notre Dame.

The truth is that the performances of Joey Harrington in Miami and Jeff Garcia in Philadelphia prove that Detroit is a quarterback Hospice—it is the place that they go to die. John Kitna isn’t a washed-up veteran; he has a lousy offensive line. If Millen drafts Quinn (or Smith), it is lights out for another year. The Lions might improve to 3-13.

The Lions are assured of getting a top three pick, and they appear to have a good shot at the top pick, so here is my advice for the general manager. Trade it away! Get rid of that top pick (if you get it). Trade down. Look at the draft strategy of a genius like Mike Shanahan in Denver. Watch the draft board and trade down, but also, be willing to trade back up. A trade for a star is as good as a pick (WR Javon Walker went to Denver for a second rounder last year). The Lions not only have too many needs to waste it on a quarterback (that will get pushed out of town in four years anyway), but they could take care of several with some good trades. If they play their cards right, the Lions could have new starters on the offensive line, fullback, defensive line, linebacker, and cornerback from the first three rounds alone.

Now, Matt, I know what you are thinking: “if I take an offensive lineman (or two) in the first round, the fans won’t be happy—they aren’t a sexy enough pick.” Well, the Jets took two OL as their first picks and they are 8-6. I also know that Detroit is the one place where OL may be sexy enough. Think about it—we give up way too many sacks as it is, you could transform the quarterback position by giving Kitna more time to throw the ball, and you could pave the way for Kevin Jones (when he comes back). This is a win-win scenario.

With the Kevin Jones injury, you will no doubt be tempted to use the pick on a running back: don’t! There won’t be many options unless some of the elite go pro early. Adrian Peterson may be the exception—he is likely to pull a Willis McGahee—but know that your replacement/insurance player is coming off of an injury (not to mention way too many carries at the college level).

Key picks may be at middle linebacker, anywhere on the defensive line (Lamar Woodley, perhaps?) and the OL. Waste no picks in the first three rounds that don’t shore up the offensive line (that has been awful for a decade) or the DL. Picking Rod Marinelli’s guys isn’t really a bad call, either. Just don’t waste the pick on a “playmaker” that we will end up cutting in three years for “under-performing”. Wake up and realize that it isn’t Kitna or Roy (or Mike) Williams or Kevin Jones’ fault that the Lions lose. As a parting shot, Jerry Jones, the obnoxious owner of the Dallas Cowboys suggested that the success for his team in the 90’s was paying big for playmakers and filling in around them. That was fine for him to say when Aikman, Irvin, and Smith were protected by one of the top offensive lines in league. The Lions have comparable talent at those positions, so what’s the real difference?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Why Revolt?

In an article in the New York Times entitled “Episcopalians Are Reaching Point of Revolt”(the link is
  • here), Laurie Goodstein examines the articulations of some of the church’s ex-pats’ reasons for breaking from the church.
  • This began several years ago, but is newsworthy now because two big, wealthy churches in Virginia are voting this weekend to leave the church.

    “The Episcopalian ship is in trouble,” said the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, one of the two large Virginia congregations, where George Washington served on the vestry. “So we’re climbing over the rails down to various little lifeboats. There’s a lifeboat from Bolivia, one from Rwanda, another from Nigeria. Their desire is to help us build a new ship in North America, and design it and get it sailing.”

    What seems strange to many of us is that this ship is not only a serious ocean-going vessel, but an ice-breaker, tugboat, and ocean liner in one. We haven’t hit an iceberg and are taking on water, but we smashed through the iceberg and came out clean on the other side. The problem is that the conservatives are attempting to blow a hole in the hull and call it “irreconcilable differences”. The Anglican Communion is based on bonds of affection: you can come and go as you please, you just can’t steal someone else’s sheep. Ahh! There’s the controversy!

    Last week, conservative priests in the Church of England warned [the Archbishop of Cantebury] that they would depart if he did not allow them to sidestep liberal bishops and report instead to sympathetic conservatives.

    This is similar to what is going on here, as well:

    In Virginia, the two large churches are voting on whether they want to report to the powerful archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality who supports legislation in his country that would make it illegal for gay men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant.

    Not to mention making it illegal to be a hetero supporter of gay rights.

    Anglican rules and traditions prohibit bishops from crossing geographical boundaries to take control of churches or priests not in their territory. So Archbishop Akinola and his American allies have tried to bypass that by establishing a branch of the Nigerian church in the United States, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

    But how can this even be perceived as “getting around this” since we are still in the United States? Would Akinola stand for a U.S. presence in Nigeria, ordaining our own priests in his territory? Of course not. See, this isn’t an actual loophole, but apparently, if you shout loud enough, it can pass for one.

    Archbishop Akinola and some other leaders of provinces in developing countries have said they will boycott their primates’ meeting in Tanzania in February unless the archbishop of Canterbury sends a second representative for the American conservatives.

    Which is actually the first appropriate step on their part—previously, there case was to threaten walking (which they will do anyway) unless the U.S. sent no one to Lambeth. Our abiding by their desires in 2004 was a grave mistake.

    Do you recognize this tactic? Churches of many stripes began refusing to share the Holy Eucharist with churches they perceive as not being in line with their version of tradition. This sacrament of the Church is our great sign of unity, and by its very nature cannot be a weapon of division. Similarly, it is not a tool of exclusivity either. Roman Catholics have been battling over this since the despicable Conservative attacks on Sen. Kerry during the 2004 election.

    “It’s a huge amount of mess,” said the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina, who is aligned with the conservatives. “As these two sides fight, a lot of people in the middle of the Episcopal Church are exhausted and trying to hide, and you can’t. When you’re in a family and the two sides are fighting, it affects everybody.”

    But the truth is that it really isn’t a question of sides: there aren’t “two sides fighting”. There is one group breaking canon law for its own purposes and the rest abiding by the Church’s teachings and traditions. For several years now, conservatives have cast themselves as the last vestiges of a pure and faithful people: it is as if they are the ‘civilized’ Romans overrun by disgusting barbarians, and their only hope is to make a desperate plea across the Atlantic. In reality, this is an unconscionable act of desperation by several conniving men that respect only small bits of scripture over the mass that do not deal with sexual politics or ethics.

    Despite what you may think, I have a deep respect for conservative ideals, but this is a gambit of power and an act of egotistical human origin. Conservative traditions that encourage us to be wary of change, and if it necessary, move slowly are not only appropriate, but truly gallant. It is too bad that these acts by a power-mad African bishop and his glory-hound allies in the U.S. are in all actuality sheer cowardice. Has it occurred to no one that this is a big case of sour grapes that is being used as a case for civil war?

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    I'm a religious heathen!

    After taking an entire semester with a conservative professor, a new way of thinking of myself has emerged. For this, let me lay the groundwork.

    My placement is in an older church in downtown Saginaw, Michigan. It is a relatively urban/suburban mixed environment that is racially diverse and has a big manufacturing and logging history. My church is across the street from Jimmy John's sandwich shop, and I often walk there for lunch. Traditionally, the impact of reading something religious in public has left me wondering what kind of religious zealot freak I must appear to be; however, after hearing all semester about our overly-secularist society and the elimination of any bonds of affection between church and state, a different feeling has overtaken me: I may not be religious freaky enough for people here.!I was reading Anglican Identities by Archbishop Rowan Williams, and as I sat there, it occurred to me that to some, I must be a barely-Christian heathen.

    In reality, I don't think that my professor is inherently wrong about the church and society, but instead inherently flawed—religious people today are only thinking theologically and are choosing to not be biblically and historically literate, let alone astute. Because the source of antagonism is not a secular society suppressing a theologically rich Christianity, but is a cabal of zealous fundamentalists against the mainline protestant churches for the soul of the Church. Secular humanists and atheists don't even realize that they are no longer even part of the equation!

    The call to the priesthood isn't simply a call to liturgical action, but true leadership. If we are to believe this is the case, then we have decades of weak leadership to overcome. Shh! Don't tell anybody I said that!

    Never listen to economists

    These people are just plain wrong. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Iraq conflict is going well.

    What they are wrong about now is their devotion to “market forces”. The truth is that markets aren’t infallible: far from it. Markets aren’t really free, since the market is nothing but a shell. Think of it as a church. The laws that rule the church dictate how it is set up, what types of windows to put in, where the altar and pulpit go, what type of materials to use at Eucharist, etc. The people in the congregation actually make up what is church. The building is only the set of conditions that aid in the worship of God. So it goes with our capitalistically motivated market. The market is useless if the individuals that buy and sell products within the market aren’t behaving according to normal behaviors.

    Having said this, we should stop thinking of the market and the ‘health’ of the American dollar and any other condition of the market as something that simply ‘happens’ or that the impact isn’t human, but a product of the marketplace. The truth is that the market is wholly dependent on actors. The Dow goes up when people are buying high, and it goes down when people sell low. This really has nothing to do with the economy, but that people act in response to their fears or joys about the economy and allow those influences to direct their actions.

    This morning, I heard that the American dollar is tanking, in no small part due to the fact that oil-rich nations (OPEC) have reduced their holdings in U.S. dollars by 2%--from 67% down to 65%. In this case, the dollar is replaced by the Euro. Think about this for a second: our economic health is wholly dependent on Saudis’ owning enough of our currency: if they trade it in for Euros, our economy tanks. Does this have anything to do with the mythical Market? No! Does this have anything to do with politics? You bet your ass!

    So never listen to Market Place and never read The Wall Street Journal without realizing that the Market doesn’t have a life of its own. The people, as always, are the real actors.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    Being Presidential Today

    In my lifetime, there has been profound respect for the office of the President of the United States. We want to believe in the president, we want to think that he has our best intentions at heart, and we want to concern ourselves with issues more than politics.

    It occurred to me also that what makes us recognize the office is through opposition. A king/dictator receives little dissent. President Putin in Russia, for instance decimates dissenting voices, and acts more like a strong-armed fascist, than he does the leader of a leading democracy. Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton, all faced tremendous opposition from the press, the people, and from congress during their tenures (since I was 3 when Reagan was shot, I only remember the Iran/Contra and S&L scandals, not the post-shooting lovefest). They also faced significant international issues with diplomacy and authority. None of this fits the Bush years until now.

    Bush never seemed like a president. He came in under a cloud of suspicion and despite the protests of the majority of Americans. He proceeded to govern like a spoiled child on a shopping spree. His reign was even stranger after 9/11/2001, when the world propped him up, supported him, and gave him whatever he wanted, just because they were desperate for leadership, and Bush was the man with whom we were stuck. His defiance of public opinion, consensus, and scientific opinion, his opposition to all of those things that we all know for sure, and his brutal attempts to deceive and manipulate the country were criminal enough. But the worst was that we weren’t given the OK to oppose these suggestions. Instead, we were told that it was only an opinion or point of view to suggest that Bush was, in fact, lying. The media was using postmodern thought without actually thinking like postmoderns.

    The media blackout of any opposition for the first three years of Bush’s presidency, and the following two years of describing factual opposition as ‘partisan’ and ‘radical’ left Bush looking not the least bit presidential. It is like calling a pampered CEO a good leader when he inherits a well-oiled machine and doesn’t run it into the ground (Hi, Jack Welch!).

    In the midst of controversy, stiff opposition, and his first significant election loss (that he couldn’t steal), Bush is starting to look presidential. He has not only been humbled, but he is being forced to deal with reality as it stands, not as he dreams it. Middle East diplomacy, a fluctuating economy, and an environmental crisis have meant that Bush can’t lead with his usual ostrich approach.

    Now if we can just punish the news media for allowing us to waste five years

    It Finally happened!

    Yes! The day finally arrived! The media has grown a test tube spine!

    Last week, NBC and its affiliates announced that Iraq was, in their opinion, in the midst of civil war.

    Like the dispute of whether or not to call the mass-slaughter of hundreds of thousands as well as the rape and displacement of millions in Darfur should be called “genocide”, the U.S. government, with the complicity of the media, has made the appropriate word or title the news story. I’m sorry, but it is almost too little too late, especially, since the announcement last Thursday didn’t make the issue center stage, it maintained the title-as-story reports on every other network.

    It could be worse, I guess: they could still be parroting the president’s party line.

    Let us take a moment to celebrate that the U.S. media is finally starting to catch up with what the entire world knows: Iraq is (and has been) in a civil war. Congrats, NBC! Better late than never! (wink wink, Fox!)

    Saturday, November 25, 2006


    I recently downloaded OpenOffice to use as my primary wordprocessor. Last night, as I was typing away, I typed the letters 'ana'. I was on the way to typing the word 'analogy' for my paper, but a different word popped on screen. OpenOffice has the feature that allows the computer to finish the word for you, so if it is the right word, it pops up highlighted, so all you have to do to accept it is to hit enter. So anyway, I was typing the letters 'ana' and this word popped up: analphabetapolothology. This is a word I have never typed in my life, did not appear anywhere in the text above or below, and is likely to not appear anywhere in my harddrive, save the spellcheck list. I decided to look up the word. From Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, I found 'analphabet', which means “a person who cannot read or white; illiterate.” It derives from Greek and means “not knowing the alphabet”. But what about the apolothology? I still have no clue. Can anyone help me? I just need to know what it means!


    A new site and a new attitude.

    Take a look around and view my other sites: Facebook me! and

    And when you are done, come back here. This is the new posting site.

    Check back soon!

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    Baseball and funnies

    Do you like baseball?
    Do you like humor?
    Do you like baseball humor?

    Go to
    You'll laugh your ass off.

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Rush Limbaugh, you're a jackass!

    How crass is the far-right? They would belittle a debilitating and disturbingly destructive disease like Parkinson's, suggesting that it is an election ploy.

    Michael J. Fox was criticized two days ago by Rush Limbaugh, the talk radio blow-hard that has several million daily listeners on his radio show. He so often repeats Republican talking points with embellished speech, that we so often forget that he is being a pompous prick about it. We ignore him, in no small part because of these statements. The trouble is, he isn't ignored by millions of Americans. He stands as the beacon for the radical right; he is their rabid pit bull, getting away with slander because he is 1) not accountable by elected office, and doesn't have to deal with running on a platform of tolerance; he is 2) not accountable to common decency on the air because he has a built in audience that makes network interference and editing impossible; and he is 3) not accountable for telling the truth because "truthy" is close enough.

    Yesterday, CNN correspondent John King suggested the following: "I think we should take Rush at his word. He has issued this apology." OK, had Limbaugh actually apologized, I might agree. What he said on his show that same day (yesterday) was: "I stand by what I said. I take back none of what I said. I wouldn't rephrase it any differently. It is what I believe; it is what I think. It is what I have found to be true."

    Clearly Rush Limbaugh is a jackass of the highest order, and there is a certain lower ring of hell for his ilk, which no doubt includes Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter. Why isn't his place in the radio pantheon in question after this? Why is he still a top dog? After his own drug abuse scandal, Limbaugh should be on a short leash as it is. Flush Rush.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    American Fascism

    If you are the least bit concerned about the shape of the nation, check out this article:

    It is a fantastic article discussing the impact of cultural issues that have set us out on the road to fascism. With Proposal 2 on the ballot, which would institute racism, our fanatical pursuit of a 'strong' capitalist economy leading to the nastiest governor's race in state history, and our continued lipservice to the fanatical wing of the conservative elements in the state, this article is timely and pertinent to us. Check it out now!

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    True Accountability

    This has been a blog frenzy! Perhaps I would have put these all together, but they're shorter this way.

    So here it is.

    Accountability. Conservatives love this word. It is third in their lexicon behind "life" and "free markets". They eat this stuff up. They want you to know that they don't take anyone's guff and they don't help out cheaters. Roar!

    Liberals don't like the word, not because they are wimps, but because Conservatives only like half of their words, but repeat it over and over, killing us with misunderstandings. Like their "culture of life" which only cares about living things when they are fetuses, but the second it wants to be born, they turn a blind eye, or their support of death penalties, war-making, and guns; the concept of accountability only refers to punishment and as a means of evaluation for those things they want to dismantle.

    The truth is that accountability isn't about punishment, but a framework of evaluation that allows us to see how things are and change them when necessary. I noticed in my own diocese that many individuals drop the ball, but there is no recognition that they have screwed up, nor is special attention been given to those that carried the other person's weight. This is an example of no accountability.

    I have just posted two other blogs about this, without actually saying that. One is the character assassination of Dan Rather, and the other is our bad memories of 9/11. Both cases are examples of failed accountability. The problem with these examples, however, is that it is impossible to hold the people accountable without punishment. Positive reinforcement is a much more effective teaching strategy than positive punishment (or negative reinforcement or punishment for that matter), but Republicans, for all their love of "incentives" to "encourage market growth" don't respond to anything but punishment. They won't do what they are encouraged to do, just not do what they are not allowed to do.

    What we need most is accountability of failure. When a person doesn't do what they were supposed to do, you need to have a meeting and an expression of disapproval and disappointment; this is regardless of whether or not both parties know that the other party knows that the one party screwed up, it must be put out in the open. It needs to be stated for both parties to take it seriously. When a government uses torture, commits federal and international war crimes, ignores international treaties, etc. we must put our disapproval out in the open. We can no longer expect our News Media to be a watchdog for us. We can no longer expect our Congresspersons to look out for our interests (let alone tell the president what we have told that person). We must be the ones that hold our leaders accountable. We should have been doing it all along.

    My Only September 11th Blog

    September 11, 2006

    Yes, this is my first (and hopefully only) 9/11 blog. It might be helpful to read the previous post for more information about the real topic.

    I do remember where I was on September 11, 2001. I was working at Barnes & Noble in Lansing. Rose was also working that day. I was zoning from 7-10, customer service from 10-12, and on register from 12-2 (or something like that). Either way, I was zoning when Randy, our CRM told us that a plane hit the WTC and that they don't know why. A short while later another hit. Then the buildings fell. We listened to the radio throughout the day; I was listening for cause of the event and who would get scapegoated. That didn't take long for both to get filled.

    It should be stated for the record that people don't react the way they say they did. I don't remember seeing a male customer after 10 or 11:00. We were busy for a weekday morning, and the mall-walkers were usually done at about that time anyway. We usually only sold newspapers and coffees in the morning anyway. But a strange thing happened over the next few hours: all of the customers appeared to be 30-60 and were white females. This demographic that Republicans would target in '02 and '04 elections as the "security moms" were the ones buying books on September 11th. I even tried to give updates to them. I would say "I just heard that…" and they would say "I know, crazy! Where are your Clancy's?".

    The truth about September 11th is that it is now a holiday. It is only a holiday because the holiday's name is also the date. I might suggest that this shows a lack of originality, but that is too flippant. What really worries me is what that name (or 9/11) actually suggests: that we don't agree enough with what the day means. This is the same with the rash of 9/11 movies: the media asks "Is it too soon?" Of course not, boneheads. The reality is that we never took the time to figure it out in the first place. We focused on heroism where it could be found and justice where it could be found and that is it. I wish I could say that only New Yorkers went overboard with the reaction but remember the "We are all New York" T-shirts?

    Our response to 9/11 (or Patriot Day, as I derisively called it) was like a bad family system: we allowed the domineering father figure to tell us information through his filter, kept the truth secret, and used insinuations ("the terrorists hate our freedom", "objection is unpatriotic", and "if you do that, then the terrorists will win") that discouraged original thought and created a false sense of homeostasis. We never learned the truth, because that would hurt the President's cause, the bombing and invasion of two countries.

    There is no rational reason we have for never addressing Bin Laden's (and others') cause for planning the murder of US citizens. How can we prevent what we do not understand? We have no earthly reason to use war language (and doctrine) when it is individuals that have murdered, not governments. How can we sanction a president to call it a war, when he is unwilling to follow the basic commandments of war? Congress never declared war, so there is no war. The attacks of Afghanistan and Iraq were not acts of liberation but acts of military aggression. We toppled their governments unprovoked by those governments. The president has exerted authority that he does not possess to push these acts of aggression. Instead of hunting down Bin Laden and his operatives, we have made enemies of the entire Middle East. Bush's "War on Terror" is really a new Cold War—a never ending, poverty-creating, military-industrial complex enhancing power-grab by a man who is fascinated with killing people. He killed more people (160) as Governor of Texas in a term and a half than any public official in our history. He sent us into Afghanistan and Iraq with guns blazing, murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians, a war-crime in itself. He encourages lax gun laws, and allowed the elimination of an assault weapons ban that kept a dozen fully-automatic weapons out of the hands of citizens, and made it easier for you and me to get shot on a city street by a neighbor. We need to take a long look at who the real enemy is.

    We Are Always to Blame

    It's the truth. We screw up a lot. I mean, A LOT. A hick from Texas steals an election. Our mantra "let's just get passed this." It should have been, "throw that bastard in jail!" And the person in charge of that rigged Florida election? She has just won the primary and might get elected to the senate. All we cared was that her make up made her look bad. We screw up a lot.

    Perhaps it is my contemplative mood, but how did we ever allow the character assassination of Dan Rather? He had been a whipping boy of conservative press for years, which should have raised red flags from the beginning of "The Scandal". After he retired from The CBS Nightly News, his place on 60 Minutes was curtailed and he was left hanging.

    We should all remember the way it went down, right? In October 2004, The CBS Nightly News chose to go with a story based on a document that they had acquired from a source. The document was a memo from George W. Bush's superior office in the Air National Guard telling of preferential treatment that George was receiving. This document was backed up by several sources, and after sitting on it for a couple of days, they headlined with it, causing a major firestorm. Over the next couple of days, Republicans sought many different means of discrediting it. What they settled on were two things that both seem incredibly sketchy: 1) they somehow discovered that the document was forged and 2) they pressured the sources to back away from the story. CBS tried to get their sources to defend them, but they refused and went into hiding. I always assumed that this was a Karl Rove plant from the very beginning, but the originating source of the document is not the issue: the issue is how WE handled this event.

    The truth of the revelation should be even more damaging to the president than the original story. They interviewed the secretary of Bush's superior officer and she stated that even though she didn't type this particular document (that it was a forgery), she typed many just like it with the exact same information. She not only backed up the claim from the original story, but that she had typed several pieces stating this information or similar information. She knew that George had received special treatment.

    The second truth is that the media and their sources allowed themselves to be bullied by a political party. The original story had sources. And despite the above revelation by the secretary, these sources remained in hiding. CBS News followed the protocol that all journalists follow, but the Republican Party bullied the sources into submission.

    Was this collusion to take down Dan Rather? Perhaps, but this case is more disgusting than that. We watched true journalism get mugged, raped, and murdered before our eyes, without letting out a peep. A titan of the 20th Century has been disgraced because he did his job and some political hacks can't win without cheating. So where are we? Where is our humanity?

    Monday, August 7, 2006


    We love experts. I mean, we love em. We rely so much on experts to convince us of the truth that they have developed, worked, manipulated, and formed, that it informs our fundamental understanding of truth and its application. We really do love experts.

    And it is with good reason. Experts have more experience in a specialized area that none of us wants to pursue. We rely on their knowledge and experience to tell us something in thirty seconds that took the expert years to figure out. This is their contribution to our society. By relying so heavily on them, we are able to spread out farther as a people, develop faster, and grow a great deal more.

    We also recognize different levels of expertise. The experts with the highest level of expertise (I will call Primary Experts) have the most specialized knowledge in their area and we rely on them for final decisions in their area. Examples of this are Doctors (medicine), Theologians (religious thought), Philosophers (philosophy and ethics), Accountants (taxes), lawyers (law), etc.. The mid-level range are experts that have a lot of insight in a particular area that is perhaps a sub-focus of their primary focus (Secondary Experts). Examples of this include lawyers that deal with taxes (primary focus: law, secondary focus: taxes), Doctors and ethics (doctors spend a great deal of time exploring ethical issues, but primarily focus on medicine), and Ministers that deal with morality (theologians deal in moral issues, but ministers dabble in it with their primary roles are liturgical and pastoral). The last level of expertise is introductory level (Tertiary Expertise). This is the level in which we expect everyone to operate at, or at least those that have a limited exposure to it. We expect our politicians to uphold a basic moral character without giving them classes in ethics or morality. Other examples include taxes (many normal people do their own), gardening, and American history.

    So here is my conundrum: what happens when Tertiary Experts act like Primary Experts and nobody questions their expertise? What does this mean for our educational and vocational systems? Right now, we are in the midst of a debate of the appropriateness of embrionic stem-cell research. The two sides of the debate are this: the pro side has doctors and Scientists (both Primary) arguing the potential medical and scientific application; ministers (Secondary), social workers and Social Scientists (both Primary) arguing the social impact; and theologians (Primary), ministers (Secondary), and the vast majority of people (Tertiary); on the con side, we have politicians (Tertiary: Bush was a businessman, as was Rick Santorum and Tom DeLay) and rank-and-file Christians (Tertiary) making a moral argument, and a few religious experts (varying from Primary to Tertiary). The con side has no support in areas of impact such as the medical, scientific, social, or economic, and they are making their case exclusively on "moral" grounds. The two strange impacts of this, however, is that the religious community is split on this, so it isnt a position that is inherently or exclusively religious, but they are communicating as if it is. Secondly, and more importantly, these are decisions made without the consultation of the experts in the respective fields. Scientists, doctors, health care advocates nearly unanimously agree that this is essential work. Only churches are split.

    The question you might ask is "so what?" So what if our Primary Experts are ignored and Tertiary Experts are treated like Primary ones? What does it matter?

    The problem is that this is so foundational to our society, that we must stop it immediately before irreprible damage is done. We must encourage the media to stop trying to be "fair and balanced" by holding up two sides that never were balanced! On the one side, there is overwhelming evidence in support, and on the other, a couple of cooks and zealots. That's it! End of discussion. Until we take back our public arenas, we are likely to have these one-sided diatribes that only serve to erode our public consciousness (and concscience).