Hermit's Weblog
everything your mother never taught you about how the world really works.

Wed, 18 Feb 2004

Spike TV, for men, or for boys?

Some time ago, a daytime show called The View came into existence. It was several celebrity women talking and other stuff. There soon followed some lame copy-cat show with some guys on it. Some, I suppose, thought that men talking in a group would be entertaining, or at least enough to sell some commercials. When I would watch that show (I couldn't stand watching for more than a few minutes), I wondered if people who make programming decisions had any idea what the difference was between a boy and a man. The old black and white movies of the '40's and '50's had some idea of what a man was, but modern television producers didn't seem to know.

Then came Spike TV for men, and I was sure that television people didn't have a clue about what made the difference between a boy and a man. Maybe its because all those people making these decisions live either in New York or Los Angeles. In the former, a man is aggressive and competitive to the point of gross immorality, while in the latter, a man is someone fixed in late adolescence with the worst kinds of passions and virtues one associates with gross sexual and philosophical immaturity.

These people seem to know nothing about life. They know nothing of the suffering at a job that goes no where, and the pain of raising children in an age such as this. They know nothing of the courage that manifests daily in the lives of men in our age - to get up and go to work at a job that one must have in order to care for one's family, even though the stress is literally deadly. I could go on, but I think you get the basic idea.

By the way, this is meant to say nothing of the real lives of women either, but television has certainly lost its way on both counts. Sure Oprah is something special, but most of the television fare is thoughtless in the extreme when it comes to dealing with the reality of life in an honest way. Virtue and courage is everywhere in the lives of ordinary women and men, but you'd hardly know it from a lot of what's on the tube.

What would a real cable channel devoted to men be about? But that question begs another one - what is a man? Someone with a penis? Is a gay man a man? How about the more masculine partner in a lesbian relationship? Maybe the man woman thing is misleading in itself. Maybe the essential question is not what is a man or a woman, but what is a human being? This, more central question, is all the more difficult for it suggests matters not quite a part of our daily conversation. We speak of super bowl winners, and half time depravity, and political races and wars in strange places. But do we ever wonder on the deeper things? What is a human being?

Let this question rest, but remember it stands beneath the question of what is a man, for certainly whatever a man is, or a women, they both are human beings before anything else. And a boy, or a girl, who and what are they? In the Age of MTV, and super bowl half-times laced with un-restrained and fallen sexuality, no adults stood over those events, no human beings in whom man and womanhood stood tall to guide the boys and girls on that stage. And so, we are lent images of wantonness and violence pretending to be art.

Spike TV for men. What is that then, but really another sign of the End of Western Civilization. Neither entertainment (which must be art, even if art for the ordinary), or even an attempt at vice. Spike TV is empty of anything but thinly disguised avarice, by which a commercial enterprise seeks to draw into the snares of advertising the hearts and minds of boy-children. A poor excuse for anything of value and really only something vulgar, like it must have been outside the Halls of Rome, when Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and down in the streets peddlers sold trash proclaiming it was art.

Think on this again. Our politicians play games and the world burns. Small wonder then that in the confines of television, off in the wasteland of cable, there blooms a small weed of little import except some think they can sell it as some illness healing herb. This is Spike TV for men. A sad thing really in a time of upheaval and chaos, where the true danger is that no wisdom can be found in the places where it is most disparately needed.

[13:50] | [] | # | G

Tue, 17 Feb 2004

The Issue of Gay Marriage - a real effort to impose religion in violation of the 1st amendment.

When the Right puts forward its argument for a Constitutional Amendment in favor of traditional marriage (only a man and a woman), it basically reasons that some of the People have the right to impose on a certain minority class of individuals, the majority's own moral views. This is a subtle point and well worth looking at more carefully.

The very first phrase in the Bill of Rights (which gives us some idea of its importance in the minds of our Founders) is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;". Already this has been defined by the Supreme Court to permit a State to regulate the use of drugs as part of religious ritual, on the basis of "compelling state interest", while at the same time the Court says elsewhere that compulsory prayer in school is unconstitutional.

In one case the Court is allowing the State to regulate religious practice, and in the other the Court is telling the State it cannot impose a particular religious practice. This helps us see the basic parameters of the discussion - what is the relationship between the State and the exercise of religion. The First Amendment recognizes this dual role, for it first seeks to prevent the State from imposing religion (no law respecting the establishment of), and then seeks to prevent the State from prohibiting its free exercise. For a State-run school to require prayer violates the establishment provision, and yet the State does have the power to limit its "free" exercise, when there is a compelling State interest (ritual use of peyote, plural marriage etc.).

Any sociologist, or political scientist, worth his PhD knows that in modern life the so-called Christian Religious Right has been seeking to impose its moral views everywhere in American society, mostly by using the State's legal authority. This view of the Christian Right is not justified by any real understanding of the role and purposes of Law, or of the historic nature and ultimate development of the United States as the People of Peoples. America is not a mere Christian Nation, but is instead that most remarkable creation out of the Genius of History, of the first People in which religious, cultural and language differences could achieve a cooperative form of existence.

The Christian Right seeks to bring history to a stop, and to assert power over the American People in order to impose its own religious version of moral order.

This is actually an understandable position, for many places in the world are aware of what has to be called the almost violent pace of change. Our Age is a time of much too rapid change, as if the whole social and historical developmental process was racing out of control. The Christian Right sees this in what they originally called the "family values crisis" and what is now generally characterized as "cultural warfare". They understandably want to resist those cultural forces which might lead their children to travel paths outside their traditions.

This is nothing new in history, and certainly is true in far wider places than the United States. This same Christian Right, for example, while decrying the changes in the moral nature of America, seek to impose, through laws restricting our foreign aid from supporting abortion clinics or these same clinics from providing sex education to show people how to avoid aids, their own moral codes in the lives of other Peoples and Nations.

On the one hand they don't want the State to keep prayer out of schools, while on the other hand they want to use the power of the State to enforce moral rules inside our borders (no Gay civil rights such as equal protection) and outside our borders in what is a permissable use of foreign aid.

This is in no way a consistent position, in a rational sense, while it is an understandable position when people are faced with a too rapid pace of change.

Unfortunately it is a view which does not understand the nature of a Society, of the meaning of History, or the significance of Law within the struggle to create order. It is a view with a very narrow self-protective focus, that believes the best way to protect itself is to impose values on others, all the while complaining about the imposition of others values on it (cultural warfare).

For example, the Law is not meant to impose moral order on a Society, but rather to define the foundational rules below which Society will not tolerate behavior to go. Law is the lower border of expectable behavior, and moral behavior, by its very nature, is the upper border - the goal toward which we believe a human being can and should aspire.

Law, such as a Constitution, then is the product of a community process, within which everyone is meant to be equal - to have the same rights, and duties. Moral behavior is an individual process, by which one is guided by one's religion or philosophy toward ethical or conscience based activity.

We cannot afford to confuse the two. Yet, the whole nature of the political activity of the Christian Right is to do just that - create enormous confusion between Law and Morality. In seeking to impose a moral view on our Society's basic legal structures, by the Marriage Amendment, the Christian Right effectively wants to do an end run around the First Amendment, and actually build into the constitution a kind of irreconcilable difference.

What makes this all the worse, is that when you listen to the reasons put forth by the Christian Right and the Republican and (unfortunately) Democratic leaderships, that seeks to court their votes by following this disastrous plan, it is clear that the real motive is not to add something of value to the Constitution, but rather to impose through Law their own values on a minority.

In this abuse of majority power, the Christian Right demeans our legal processes, savages the fundamental nature of the Republic, and eviscerates the Bill of Rights., which exists precisely to prevent a tyranny of the majority.

All this is mostly driven, not by any rational process, but by a fear of too rabid change, Nothing good can come from this abuse of Law and of the basic structure of our form of Government. Morality is not the purview of the State, but rather of religious teaching and individual conscience. The State exists to hold us equal, and to protect the minority from the majority. If a religion can not inculcate its moral values through teaching only (without the abuse of the Law as a club of enforcement), then those values have no real meaning.

What this really represents for the Christian Right is a lack of faith. It is only from a position of weakness that one would seek to impose one's moral values on others. Christ's Teachings have no need of the application of such force of arms (the rule of Law), for their value is readily apparent to any human being of conscience. In seeking to impose through Law, these moral ideas, the Christian Right is no better than the Catholic Church of the Middle ages with its hate mongering torture chambers and burnings at the stake.

This then is the real driver behind the Marriage Amendment - fear of change and hate of Gays. The offered rationality of protecting marriage is a sham. Marriage is in fine hands already, and it is under no threat from those who seek to enter its sacred chambers wishing to sanctify their own love and desire for family. In fact, to confine the Sacrament of Marriage to just a man and a woman, is to place failure prone human limits on God's Love. This means that the Christian Right lacks both faith, and a real appreciation of the Love of the Creator. But the dimensions of that problem is a whole other discussion.

[21:00] | [] | # | G

The War Against the Rule of Fear

I watched the West Wing the other night.

It was a show about nuclear proliferation. Made me sad to think how dangerous the world is these days. Its not so much that people die, or that wars happen, for none of that is new in history. But what is new is how much damage we can do today.

If India and Pakistan were to have gone to war a hundred years ago, millions might have died but the world would have gone on. Today we can destroy all life on the Planet, with bombs or nerve agents, or deadly diseases for which there is no inoculation.

Yet that is not news - we have gotten used this being the way we live. It got this way in the 1950s, when the United States and Russia began the Cold War and the arms race. Madness really. A war seeming to have no deaths, because the real use of such weapons is too terrible to contemplate. It probably is not good that there were no deaths. Maybe we aren't yet scared enough to draw back from the madness. Maybe we need for it to go very badly wrong before we'll find the will to draw back, and seek wisdom instead of wandering into a further descent into insanity.

Why has it come to this? Why has, at this moment in human history, humanity now come to possess the capacity to destroy all life? Is it some cruel joke by God?

I get the same kinds of repeating loop questions trying to understand terrorists. Do they ever achieve their objectives? Is there some hall of fame somewhere that I missed that celebrates the wars and political goals won by terrorists? Or is terrorism something that can't live with a rational goal at all. Maybe all it can conceive is an irrational goal. Maybe something else is going on.

What are the facts that we do know? Well, there are far too many, but I'm going to pick a few and see if that can lead us somewhere new.

To my thinking there is, to civilization, an outside and an inside. The outside is the obvious things, such as our level of technology, our size, our impact on the Planet. The inside is more subtle. It is, among other things, what matters mean. It is more like our ideas and moral values, than it is like an object, a television set or a tool.

It is my view that the inside is under transition - that we are going from one kind of civilization to another, in a big way, because the fundamental nature of the inside is changing. The inner ground is not shared anymore. It has no coherence and no stability.

This is what makes for the terrorist. Driven by fear and rage, and oblivious to the real consequences of their acts, they strike out. They reach for chaos, imagining this will lead to the form of order they desire, except for the lessons of history that show that terrorism never has worked - ever.

Terrorism is different from revolution, although the goals are the same. The terrorist believes that in making ordinary people, women, children and other non-combatants, suffer, a State can be forced to change its policies. A terrorist is basically a madman, seeding the worst kind of destruction in pursuit of an unattainable goal.

Terrorism seems to be a mental state, quite common in our time, that arises when the inside of civilization has lost its meaning and coherence. It is a psychic disturbance in the mental life of a civilization in decay. It is also infections in a way, but remains irrational in that it assumes that by striking fear into the hearts of a people, they will react rationally and give the terrorists what they want, overlooking that fear drives rationality out, and really only ever promotes retaliation in kind.

Now in terms of history, the doctrine of the Cold War, mutually assured destruction (or MAD), comes before terrorism in time. In essence, this is a sign of the State itself succumbing to the loss of meaning and coherence in civilization. In the creation of an arms race involving weapons of mass destruction, that State itself abandoned rationality in favor of the effort to control by fear. Its logic is that if I am big and scary enough, they will do what I want. Which has only created a like minded response. All other States reply with seeking themselves to be equally big and scary.

In such an decaying rationality, is it any wonder that smaller groups themselves resort to that form of fear creation to which their limited stature confines them - namely terrorism. The illogic of the Cold War leads inevitably to terrorism. Each is fear mongering, with only the scale changing.

Unfortunately, history also teaches us that the way out is always the way through, and we will, without doubt, suffer greatly acts of terror on an increasing scale. The small groups seeking to do terror, will escalate until they involve the larger groups, and the use of weapons of mass destruction seems the inevitable result.

There is in this process of the downfall of Western Civilization then, that which first clearly manifests in madness at the level of State activity (cold war, arms race). This then, like the psychic virus that it is, soon infects the most powerless, who apply then the same insane principle of believing that any thing good can come from making other people afraid.

It would seem a hopeless cause, but there are two players in the Game who want to change the rules.

The first is ordinary people, who basically are neither the State or the individual terrorist, but rather the victims of the insanity of both. More and more they act through Civil Society, through anti-war and anti-globalization movements. Their means is difference. They seek not to rule by fear, but to survive by cooperation and peace. Where the old Civilization lies in ruins in the illogic of the State, and of individual terrorist groups, a new Civilization is being reborn in the wisdom of the peace bringers.

At the very least, this can be said. There is a war going on, between those who want to rule by fear, and those who believe in human nature and in peace. The People of Peace have some powers on their side that make the so-called weapons of mass destruction and the car bombs of the terrorists look like vain fireworks on a starry summer night. In spite of all those who make trouble for others, there is something to Faith and Hope and Charity that far out weights the madness and irrationality which seems to dominate the world. The human spirit is far stronger than mere fear, and retains the power to overcome those forces of destruction. The power to create is greater than the power to destroy. Or, as used to be said: "the pen is mightier than the sword".

[20:50] | [] | # | G

Mon, 09 Feb 2004

Dear Peggy Noonan,

I realize that you are more of an insider than I am, and that you deserve some respect for all the work you have done, and all the speeches you have written, but your piece on President Bush's interview with Tim Russert left a lot to be desired. I think you missed the point. Let me explain.

You make the distinction between giving interviews and speeches, saying that following talking points (during an interview) is one kind of skill and it is another kind of skill to make speeches. This would make sense to me if the speeches were extemporaneous, but that is not the case, is it? You being a former speech writer should know this. Speeches are scripted, and the person reading the script doesn't have to think on their feet at all, or perhaps not even think period. You also suggest that it is what is done behind the desk by a President that matters, not the interviews and speeches even. Let me address these in a general way, as if there was a very simple principal that could be understood by which to make the needed judgment.

The fundamental question is what kind of mind does the President (or candidate) have, and behind that question, what kind of mind does our Republic need a President to have. These are very crucial questions, and not very much discussed in politics either by the Left or the Right, or even by the Press. Its as if we don't know what it means any more to have a life of the mind, having become somehow lost to it as an ideal of human development.

Sadly we live in an Age in which the life of the mind is disparaged in one way or another. We have the pejorative "egghead", for example, to refer in a demeaning way to someone who is perceived as an intellectual. Can't have a President who is an "egghead" can we. Have to have someone like us, someone more of the People, which implies by the way that the People are pretty stupid, doesn't it?

What this really does is beg the question of what it is that makes a President a suitable chief executive of this Nation? What aspects of a life of the mind do we need in this our highest political office? Is it a matter of moment whether such an individual can think on their feet, or whether they can only look mentally adequate when they read scripted speeches?

Clearly, if we look at history, it is possible to have a tough mind and clear thinking and not be an intellectual. Many Presidents have exemplified this characteristic - that of what we might call strong common sense coupled with real moral character. But in our democratic Republic, we (that is "we the people") need to have this displayed to us by the candidates for office. They owe us this insight into their inner nature, and the best way to see this is to see them handle a tough interview and difficult questions from ordinary people. We need to see them think on their feet. We need to see the light of their mind reflect in a spontaneous way on the issues and realities of the day.

Unfortunately of late, politics has become the art of hiding this very thing from the electorate. The whole campaign is designed to create a false impression of the real inner capacities of the individual running for highest office, and substitute a false picture - what is essentially a lie - for the truth that we need to know.

In this the second Bush presidency we have the pragmatic and tragic consequences of this political art of the lie as regards the real nature of the character of mind of a presidential candidate. A weak minded President is prey to those more powerful minds such as Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle, and our ideologically corrupted foreign policy is the result of electing a nice man to this most demanding of jobs. He lacked the mental ability to see through the junk he was offered by his advisors, and they took our country into war, and destroyed our international reputation in the process.

Now some may think this international reputation is of no moment, but in reality it is the greatest moment of all. It is our word as members of a community of nations, and these unelected (and therefore unexamined by the electorate) minds sacrificed that reputation on an altar of ambition and greed. Our children will pay for generations for this betrayal of the true American Spirit.

So you see Ms Noonan, it makes all sorts of difference whether President Bush can conduct himself well in interviews. He's got our highest trust, and he needs to be able to do the job. You had that right in a way - in the end its what goes on behind the desk that counts. But, you blew it big time if you think that live interviews don't help us judge his capacities, his mental acuity and strength of character. One of our more ordinary folksy Presidents, good old Harry Truman, who had all of those needed qualities and more, put it right out there with: "the buck stops here". Bush is responsible for everything that goes wrong on his watch, and a lot has gone wrong - far too much in fact, as you will soon see when November comes along.

[16:05] | [] | # | G

Free Advice for Senator Kerry,

Well, you've basically won the nomination. Now you want to win the election, and certainly the American People need new faces in Washington. The question is whether you really understand what is going on. Just in case you might not, I'm going to explain it to you.

Between various kinds of political operatives, advertising and focus group social manipulators, and the usually dumb assumptions of politicians, there has come to be a false consensus that under estimates the intelligence and wisdom of the American People.

Sure there are people who will buy lies and cheap talk, but most folks have lived enough life to know what's real and what's not. Most folks realize something is wrong in Washington, even if they can't put their finger on it. Most folks see hate speech for what it is, whether it is so-called conservatives ragging on liberals or the other way around. The heart of the American People is fairly simply once we ignore the true believers, who are always an excessively vocal minority, but who really, in the end, are not representative of the main heart values of our People.

We want honesty, and we can tell when a politician is shading the truth. We'd like to trust government, but have too many times been burnt. We don't trust Bush and Company any more, and a lot of us are going to vote in November just to throw the bums out of office. This will not be any kind of mandate for who we put in office - in the main we are only offered a choice between two evils, and have to take the lesser - a lesson life often forces upon us, so it is one with which we are familiar.

So don't let it go to your head Senator Kerry - you are not being elected God.

You want to win the election? Here's how. Don't run just against Bush, run against the whole gang - your ads should mention Rove, and Rice, and Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, and Perle, and Powell. Make Bush responsible for these people - he picked them, and he listened to their crap. Just show the double talk. Run ads showing them saying one thing before the war and another thing after David Kay's stating there are no WMD. They'll look like the idiots they are. Short ads, not even focused on issues, just on the tissue of lies and misjudgments, and then with a punchy, do you want the same man who picked these people to be in government to have another four years of making mistakes.

You should run a second set of ads as well. These ads are your message and it will have a simple theme as well. Healing the nation from the divisions fostered by the Republican Right, but that is the sub-text and isn't even mentioned. These ads are about us, and about "we the people" and simply say that times are going to be hard, governments are made up of people, mistakes have been made, but we are - when united - strong enough to face them.

Avoid the excesses of rah rah language, such as "this is the greatest nation in the world". That's just BS. Talk about ordinary people, about teachers and parents, and clerks in stores, and all the little folk who make the wealth and make our lives have whatever civility they have. Show us, not your face, but ours. Pictures of someone being nice to someone - like what the bumper sticker says - "random acts of kindness". Show us being who we are, and help us believe again in ourselves. Don't talk about yourself, or what you are going to do, because its not you that makes this Nation what it is, its us. Be humble, help us come together.

In your campaigning don't go for the sound bite. Meet people and talk to them. Really go out and ask us what we want and need, and let the news ghouls do their thing. The talking heads will not get it at the beginning, but in the end it will itself make real news - "candidate works to unite America and return us to our real strength as a people."

The President is not a King, but he is our chief public servant, and has to, in the conduct of that Office, show by example just what public service means. If you don't know, then just ask. The public knows - we're way smarter than most people inside the beltway give us credit for.

[12:32] | [] | # | G

Tue, 03 Feb 2004

lame left thoughtlessness

There is a small item below that bothers me. In the message about Dean and Kerry's "fortunes" changing there is this sentence: "Corporate America decided that Dean must be savaged, and its media sector made it happen."

I believe this sentence to have little to do with the truth, although one can understanding the feelings behind it. The sentence implies some kind of organization that acts cohesively, and with a thought out agenda. There is no real evidence such an organization exists, or that some kind of cabal of the wealthy meets regularly to make such decisions.

The reason this is a problem is that it misdirects our attention away from reality to some kind of bogeyman under our collective political beds. In a sense it is the same kind of emotionally driven error in thought that brings false collective thinking which dehumanizes such as the Viet Cong (gooks), or Islamic fundamentalists (terrorists), only in this case it is the Left that is dehumanizing the Right.

Always there are individual human beings, doing basically human activities, and that there "appears" to be collective action is a myth we introduce into the situation that falsifies our understanding. This false understanding then disables our ability to act effectively on the real problems.

For example, it is more real to see that major Media runs around with a kind of herd mentality, for which those individuals are themselves responsible. No one tells them to be this stupid, they do it entirely on their own. We need to hold them responsible, not some imaginary bogeyman - "Corporate America".

If we are going to write letter campaigns, we need to confront the ghouls and empty talking heads that read these news stories for their own impulses of greed and egotism ("see me, I'm a pretty face on the News, and I get paid millions of dollars a year to spout nonsense, while sensationalizing trivial matters to the exclusion of discussing the core problems of the Republic.").

Here is what I have written in my novel in process: American Phoenix:

"He thought of himself as a singer, not as a politician. He tried, with what modest gifts he had, to speak somehow for what he thought of as the spirit of America. He could never claim this however, especially before the media. Even so, he tried to give voice to something deeper. What was remarkable to him was that this attitude took his mind to places in the world of thought he otherwise would have believed impossible.

"To others he was a very ordinary man, running for President, who gave very unusual political speeches. That his speeches were extemporaneous just made things even more mysterious.

"Today he had just a few minutes, perhaps ten or fifteen at the most, to say a few words to a press club in Los Angeles. This is what he found himself saying.

""Our Republic has never been in more danger. This is made all the worse by the fact that we have become used to these most dire circumstances. They have crept upon us while the majority of us have had our attention else where, and we have more and more become used to them as if these tyrannys and corruptions were an acceptable and normal course of events.

""There are four culprits responsible for our tragedy. I will speak of them in order of increasing responsibility.

""First in order of responsibility is we ourselves. The American People sleep, and have so far been far too tolerant of abuses of our way of life. The current crisis is our reward, a wake up call that must be responded to or all our freedoms will soon be lost.

""The second group most liable is our politicians - a community of thoughtless and morally confused liars. They have sold their souls to monied powers, for the benefit of their own ambitions. On such a basis no good can come to our Republic. The public's business is not dealt with in our legislative and executive hallways. Only the needs of a few receive the real work and attention.

""The third group is the monied powers themselves. They serve a dark and cold god called profit, and sacrifice countless lives, even the very heart of the planet, on the altar of their greed and short sightedness. They speak often of freedom, of free markets and free trade, but in the end the only freedom they desire is their own freedom to plunder and abuse.

""One would think that here the causes of our Republic's soon demise has found its root source, but this is not so, for the final culprit is more liable than all the other three put together. It is our so-called free press which must bear ultimate responsibility. In the hearts of our founders they were first in mind when our rights were enumerated. For if those who can speak the truth are guaranteed the highest protection then how can the Republic fall?

""Yet, it is the Press, who, though given the greatest rights, has failed to even begin to carry the corresponding responsibilities. They have been made custodians and stewards of the word, and of the power of truth speaking, that remarkable force that is mightier than the sword. But what have they done with this gift? From them, while the monied powers corrupted our politicians and ruined our way of life, no harsh word was spoken, no warning cry raised high. Instead we had endless infotainment and happy talk, while the house of our Republic burned to the ground and the ravenous jackals of greed began to devour its very foundations.

""The lowest circle in hell would not be sufficient punishment for this catastrophic failure of the most simple and honorable responsibilities: to speak and write the truth.

""Now you might suspect that your offense was to not be sufficiently aggressive, to not go after the politicians effectively. But that is not the case. In fact, the course you did pursue, that of exposing the smallest personal details of those in public life, and of magnifying the most minor character flaws as if politicians were not human beings, this course did much harm. It focused the public's mind on the least important matters, and distracted our leaders from the real tasks. It is hard to imagine a greater dis-service.

""But, the fact is you managed to do just that, to commit an even worse crime.

""It was, by the way, basically a crime of ommission, although it was not so difficult to know what to do. I believe that you did know, and choose not to act properly. I believe you did know and were too lazy, and too greedy, to do what was required of a free press in this age.

""Let me make this as plain as possible, so that there is no confusion. The Public Good is determined by a dialogue about ideas. Our nation is built upon the ideal. The whole fabric of its best nature is a matter of heart based thought activity. And it is ideas that were omitted. Nowhere in the media over these many decades of the decline of our way of life has there been the needed discussions of the fundamental ideas under assault by the various forces armed against our way of life. It is as if the press had no mind at all.

""Of course there were the few exceptions, but the main media, those who cry so loudly when their first amendment privileges are questioned, were silent. Clearly they had no love of our Republic ..."


Howard Dean has joined the list of victims of U.S. corporate media consolidation. Dean shares this distinction with Dennis Kucinich and the people of the formerly sovereign state of Iraq, among many others. Dean was stripped of half his popular support in the space of two weeks in January while John Kerry - tied in the polls with Carol Moseley-Braun at seven percent just two months earlier - rose like a genie from a bottle to become the overnight presidential frontrunner. Both candidates were shocked and disoriented by the dizzying turns of fortune, and for good reason. Neither Dean nor Kerry had done anything on their own that could have so dramatically altered the race. Corporate America decided that Dean must be savaged, and its media sector made it happen. (snip)

[09:59] | [] | # | G

Sun, 01 Feb 2004

Warped Logic

The current Bush administration, now confronted with the strong reality that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, makes two rather obvious moves, which when really appreciated ought to finally convince any reasoning human being that these people are dangerous and should not be allowed a second bite at the apple of power.

The vice-president, Dick Cheney, continues to assert that weapons will be found. This is not a sound mental attitude and is evidence of one of two kinds of flaws for which higher office should be denied him. If he is just being a "coach" and urging his small group of personal followers to continue to believe in their collective illusion, then we need keep him from being a heartbeat away from the presidency by any means possible. The last thing any Nation or People need is a "coach" who urges us to blindly follow a known illusion. If, on the other hand, he really believes what he said, then his soundness of mind is drawn into question, for here is someone who believes his own half truths over ever mounting evidence to the contrary.

In either case, Cheney is out, and if Bush keeps him as running mate, then here is another reason to deny the Republicans a second term. That they would place such a mind so near to power is about as irresponsible as a political Party can get.

The administration in the main has now made their fall back position "well, Saddam Hussein is a nasty man, and we should be glad we got rid of him, whatever the reason." This is one of those ideas that is obvious true, but which, as we say in logic courses, begs the question - it doesn't really answer the question that needs to be asked.

The real question can be understood this way. Certain individuals urged our Nation to War, which is probably one of the most dangerous actions a People can be encourage to take. The question is not whether any excuse can later be found to justify this, but whether the people who urged this course of action can be seen in retrospect to have been sound and wise in their judgments. That is the test, and there is no other.

This is more than Monday morning quarter backing, by the way. This is no game being played. Our sons and daughters are dying over there, and the whole world's political balance has been altered. There is no business more serious on such a scale, and the American People have a duty to look squarely at these people (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Pearl and so forth) and ask ourselves whether they knew what they were doing.

Clearly they did not. They took weak intelligence and spun it into a fabric of fantasy, essentially betting (read their promises - "we will find weapons") they could prove their case once we had invaded. They were wrong, and it is the kind of wrong that leads to only one conclusion: They are neither intelligent or wise enough to wield the kind of power that goes with America's place in the world.

What is worse, is that if we give them a second term, we clearly now will have no one but ourselves to blame for the consequences. The first time this group were unknowns and had a kind of appeal. Now we have seen them in action, and nothing they have done has been anywhere near the standard to which we are obligated to hold them.

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Joel Wendt


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Celebration and Theater: a People's Art of Statecraft

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