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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Airport Security - Finally Someone Sees the Emperor has no Clothes


H.L. Mencken noted many decades ago: “Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Question not being asked.

Having listened to the Mitt Romney attempt to ally himself with the Christian right (Joseph Smith is spinning in his grave) and the pundits' attempts to compare it to the JFK "I will not let Rome rule me" speech, I am impelled to make the following observations:

  • Kennedy's speech in 1960 was an attempt to assure the voters that he would not let his hierarchical and dictatorial Catholic religion guide his policy making. The church at the time concurred. We find ourselves now in a very different environment; one where the Catholic Church through its American bishops is explicitly trying to guide policy of politicians through the threat of excommunication if they fail to adopt the anti-abortion policy and others of the church. With five of the nine Supreme Court justices being Catholic, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Mormon Church has similar dictatorial stances. Romney -- and the media -- have yet to address that interaction.
  • I think it's time for the media to ask how the faith that all the candidates profess would play in their decision-making process. George W. Bush has said he prays about decisions. I assume all the other candidates with perhaps the exception of Gravel and Kucinich, would pray about their decisions also. A question I would ask is, "How do you know when God is speaking to you and providing you with an answer? Assuming all your advisers (not that you would need any since you're communing with God) pray for the right decision, what if there is a conflict between them. How do you know which is God's path?"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Johnson, Bush, Vietnam

It’s heart-breaking to listen to the Johnson tapes. In 1965, Johnson was bemoaning the conundrum left him by Kennedy and the mess in Vietnam. He was desperately trying to find a way to leave, telling Eugene McCarthy he would do anything to find a way out. This was before 95% of the casualties yet to come. The problem was that in a democracy, it’s very difficult for the leader to tell mothers whose sons have died, that the war they are in is a war of choice; not one of necessity. The U.S. had been involved in the overthrow of the Diem government in an attempt to find political stability, but nothing we did seemed to help. The result was more troops, a surge if you will. The tapes reveal Johnson knew he was tying the country to a failed policy, but because of political pressure believed he was unable to just leave.


Source: Conference on Vietnam and the Presidency. American Radiowerks.