Sun, 28 September 2014
Most of us remember the moment we first became aware the nation was under attack.
Rescue workers at a Pentagon day care center worked frantically, trying to evacuate infants quickly, wondering how soon the next plane would hit. They cheered as two American fighter jets flew low overhead.
They had no idea that one of those planes was piloted by a young woman who had prepared for what looked like a suicide mission.
If that fact had been reported then, would anyone have laughed at the idea of a woman pilot?
Sun, 21 September 2014
The Georgia state unemployment rate has jumped way up to 8.1 percent. That's according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in a routine list published on September 19, 2014. That's the highest unemployment rate in the nation. It's higher than Mississippi, which had been the state with the highest rate until they got bumped by Georgia.
Governor Nathan Deal hates being blamed for the highest unemployment in the nation. He suggests an alternate explanation. Maybe there is a conspiracy by the folks who put together unemplyment statistics.
It's hard to say just what conspiracy Governor Deal has in mind. He's only pointing out "some influence here that we don't know about." He seems a little indignant about it.
Except, uh-oh, his conspiracy theory was undermined by his own administration.
Tue, 16 September 2014
It's the sort of thing that surfaces about every other week from regionally prominent Republicans. It represents a large proportion of a shrinking party.
Referring to people as anything other than human, with human feelings, with human worth, is wrong. It is wrong when the target is a black, or gay, or immigrant. The fact that this was not as widely recognized 60 years ago does not make it any more right.
Such ways of of talking and thinking come from those who are so used to the reinforcement of those of like mind, some political figures imagine the policies they espouse, and the terms they use to describe their own thoughts, will find the same approval from the general public.
Mon, 15 September 2014
104 former Republican office holders have joined to oppose the election of Republican governor Sam Brownback.
Republican Senator Pat Roberts might squeak by to re-election with a fraction of the vote, if Republicans can get opponents to divide between two other candidates.
But Republicans have nothing to worry about. After this election, Kansas voters will always stay Republican. Really, they will.
Thu, 11 September 2014
Voting restrictions are needed to prevent voter fraud, that's all. That's how conservatives justify the new voting changes. But election stealing always happens in backrooms, away from voters. Ballot stuffing, changing total, are what will work for dishonest politicians. Fraud by voters involves too many people. It's too easy to get caught. The penalties are harsh. And it doesn't work. The backroom stuff is what works.
But conservatives keep insisting they just want to prevent fraud. Keeping large numbers of legitimate voters from voting is just the sad price that must be paid. It certainly isn't the reason for making voting harder. That's what they say... except when they slip up and say in public what they are really trying to do.
For example, this case in Georgia...
Tue, 9 September 2014
The literary storm that followed an unfortunate book review in the Economist magazine has been a combination of outrage and rage. The review was critical of a book by Edward Baptist about slavery. The reviewer presented the case that the book lacked balance, neglecting to present the case in favor of slavery.
The Economist withdrew the piece. The recantation contained the review itself as a gesture toward transparency. It served as an allocution of sorts: an acknowledgment of the facts as part of an admission of guilt.
The controversy brought to mind the lessons of my youth and a larger message about history itself. The reasons we were taught what we were taught can teach us more now than we could ever have learned then.
Sun, 7 September 2014
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) has been attacked, among other reasons, for no longer being a resident of Kansas. His declared residence turns out to be the home of supporters in Dodge City. He pays them rent.
As a voter, I'm okay with facing reality. Maintaining a full time residence here in Missouri while attending to a full time job in Washington is an untenable requirement. My bet is I'd feel the same way if I lived next door in Kansas.
But the insistence that our Representatives must work for us in Washington but can't live there continues. It doesn't happen every election season. Just enough to be an irritant.
I thought again it all again as I read about another scandal brewing in Maryland. The state gives tax breaks to residents. Tax officials are investigating whether a public official committed a crime by claiming to be a full time resident.
Now I have to rethink whether the Housing deal should always be a non-issue.
Fri, 5 September 2014
I posed one of the traditional questions. If God had created all that he had created 6000 years ago, how would we explain fossils that were dated millions of years old. How about light from stars billions of light years away?
He had an answer. God had created his creation with the appearance of age. That was my introduction to what is known as the Omphalos hypothesis, named for a novel written in the mid-1800s. It has a certain chicken-and-egg logic to it. If God created the egg, it would appear to have come from a chicken. If God created a chicken, it would appear to have come from an egg. Both would have the Appearance of Age.
I suggested that, if God had gone through that much trouble to give his universe the Appearance of Age, it seemed to me a bit unsporting for us not to surrender to his will and believe in all those contrived eons.
My new friend's unbending faith was strong enough for him to find my observation completely nonthreatening. In fact, he laughed appreciatively. It was hard not to like him.
Not all creationists accept the Omphalos hypothesis. I don't much blame them. The big gaping hole in it is that it can support pretty much any theory of limited existence. God created the universe last Tuesday. He did it with the Appearance of Age, including memories, pseudo-history, relationships, and a fictitious past. Why not?
Tue, 2 September 2014
One notable result of the slaying of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, comes from the deeply troubling ambiguity of the circumstances of that death.
The plain truth is we don't know what the plain truth is. Not for sure. The context of police mistreatment of the community does not tell us. The context of Michael Brown's character does not tell us.
The frustration that comes with a lack of knowledge has provided some momentum to an already existing movement to provide police officers with body cameras and to insist on their use.
Mon, 1 September 2014
They are scattered around St. Louis County, seeming at random. The reason these small police departments exist at all has very little to do with protecting the lives and property of citizens.
The open secret, the one never explored by media pundits, provides an explanation for the growing divide between police and the communities they patrol.
The reason they exist raises an important policy question.