Sarah and Gwen: the Two-Headed Monster

This blog is about everything involving Lexington, KY or anything else we feel like yapping about.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Battle Between Science and Faith

In the early 1920's, America was in a state of chaos. Older Victorian-era citizens believed that everything of value was ending. Society was breaking down. Modern youth was no longer ruled by the values of their parents. These modernists danced to Jazz music and ignored Prohibition. They pursued intellectualism and debated Freudian theory, abstract art, Darwinism. American society was strongly divided, and the stage was set for a clash of cultures. In response to the turmoil, a wave of revivalism swept the nation, particularly the South.

America was looking for a showdown and found it in Dayton, Tennessee. The battle for who would dominate American culture riveted the attention of the nation on one lone schoolteacher named John Scopes. July of 1925 the Scopes "Monkey Trial" swept the nation in a roaring battle between science and faith. The legality of Tennessee's anti-evolution statute, and the guilt or innocence of John Scopes, were not the real issue of the trial. The issue then, as it is now, is which side rules America.

There is a crisis brewing in America. Science is under assault from a new wave of revivalism. We are once again at the crossroads of faith, and must choose to include truth or plunge blindly into an era of fear. Issues of global warming, environmental protection, the teaching of evolution, the legality of abortion, stem cell research, the origins of the universe, gay marriage, even the fate of Terri Schiavo revolve around the larger issue: whether we are "a Christian Nation", or if we are, as Darrow argued in the Scopes trial, "opening the doors to bigotry equal to anything in the Middle Ages."

The Religious Right has worked very hard to gain political power. Their success is evident in the Republican Party. No Republican, including President Bush, can afford to ignore their views. This was made abundantly clear in the Terri Schiavo case and the stem cell debate. The political power of "Christian Nation" believers is growing. Last week's poll shows that 51% of Americans don't accept the theory of evolution. As a result, our children are being taught the pseudoscience of "intelligent design" alongside real scientific theory. Worse yet, more and more children are being pulled out of public schools and taught in exclusively Christian classrooms, a trend that is widening the gap between faith and science.

Both science and mathematics are poorly taught in U. S. schools, leading to a shortage of good scientists and a general lack of scientific knowledge. We have already reached the point where only 20% of the nation is scientifically literate. Universities across America bemoan the fact that there are not enough American applicants qualified to be accepted in graduate programs.

The implication of this knowledge gap on the political scale is enormous. If our nation continues to widen the political, social, religious and philosophical rifts between fundamentalist Christians and other citizens, we will not be prepared to deal with the 21st Century. Much of our legal and political decision-making will have be based in biological fact, and we will be found lacking. Ignorance is never the solution to a problem. Our children need the best science education possible, or they will not be equipped to make the important decisions they must face to secure a future for themselves and the generations that follow.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bush Poll and White House Woes

If the election were held today Kentucky's voters say they would not choose Bush. I would feel better about this news if there really were an election on the horizon. Instead, we are stuck with W. What the ratings have done is make it more difficult to push his choices on the public.

Harriet Miers is the latest casualty of the ratings. She has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Supreme Court. I am not going to argue that the nominee was a good choice. Miers was not qualified. She had no judicial experience. But her decision comes at a tense time for President Bush. Many of his senior staff people face possible indictments in connection with the CIA leak. He efforts to push through Social Security changes failed to gain public approval even though he crossed the nation campaigning for his program. His appointments of cronies to key positions led to much of the mishandling of hurricane relief. The war and rising death tolls weigh heavy on his approval ratings. Many are beginning to believe that involving the nation in Iraq was a well-organized campaign of misinformation.

Bush has other problems. His reluctance to give up vacation time during a national crisis received harsh comparisons to his willingness to return to Washington to posture over one brain dead Florida woman. His approval has been falling, not just in Kentucky, but all across the nation. There are even rumors that he has returned to drinking as the nation questions his leadership.

I only have one question. Why now? Nothing has really changed about the way our president does his job. He is exactly the same man doing exactly the same posturing, stumbling, and making foolish mistakes he was the first four years of his administration. We don't get second chances to judge the character of candidates running for office. The weight of this presidency is on our shoulders for a long time to come.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Best Kind of Character

Rosa Parks embodied the best of the human spirit, that all too rare blend of courage and morality. Most Americans know the story of how she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white man. We have heard the stories of her arrest for violating the Jim Crow laws and how it sparked an era of boycotts, marches, and other forms of civil disobedience that ultimately led to the end of segregation. What we don't often hear about is the work she and others were already doing in Montgomery. We do not hear about the small group of women friends who stayed up all night running flyers off on a mimeograph machine and distributing them throughout the city. We do not hear as much about the courage it took to risk jobs and livelihoods to participate in the boycott.

Rosa Parks was not accidentally brought to the forefront of the civil rights movement. She was the secretary of her local NAACP chapter. She had been to a civil rights workshop. She was an activist, a woman with the courage of her convictions and the moral character to carry the weight of the load she was given. As Mrs. Parks sat quietly in her cell, reading her bible, she was counting on her friends to expose the festering wound our nation was suffering. Her friends were ready for the task. The spread the word quickly through the city. They gave of their time and energy to make change happen.

The example Rosa Parks set inspired neighbors to help neighbors get to jobs and stores without the use of city buses. It brought national civil rights leaders to Montgomery and inspired white America to realize that they too were people of color.

Mrs. Parks said that if she had thought about her actions she might have gotten off that bus. Her defiance cost her job. Her continued efforts for the civil rights movement brought her countless death threats. She never stopped speaking out. She never gave up the fight. I for one am glad she didn't think too long about that bus ride. The world needed her quiet dignity and inner strength. She risked everything, including her life, for the greater good. We still need the simple greatness of individuals. The world will long remember the actions of a woman who once tried not to think too long about the personal consequences of doing what was right. Those moments when her name is mentioned will always be touched with sorrow for the loss of Rosa Parks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bush's Mangled Cliches are Keys to His Character

If clichés are the realm of the small minded, what can we say about the mind of George W? We have been treated to such classic idioms as "that doesn't amount to a hill of figs.." (Second Inaugural Address). Our president makes me grateful for term limits. Eight years of watching one of the most small-minded men to ever step into public life stab, mangle, and warp language into a twisted hodgepodge of mangled clichés and twisted phrases. His puzled chimp expression, and defensive pose as he mangles our language, offer up the key to his character. They unlock the very essence of his life.

History will judge Dubya harshly. With good reason: our president is a man who couldn't bother to show up for Guard duty, yet, is now an insufferable Chicken Hawk. He and the Cheney Machine manipulated the facts and lead the country into war and occupation of Iraq to "get the 9-11 terrorists." The twisting of language allowed him to whip the public into war with a country that was not involved in the 9-11 attack on the pretext that we had to get rid of Iraq's "known weapons of mass destruction". He appeals to the smallness in others, and encourages us to forget that those weapons were never found. To question his war machine is equal to treason.

The 'great man' is an intellectual lightweight, a reactionary defender of his lame policies and his friends.' The "Friends of Bill" never had it so good as the "Friends of Dubya." W is nothing but loyal to his small circle. He is the great protector of the status quo, at heart, an overly simplistic capitulator to oil interests who spends like a drunken sailor and not asks everyone outside his circle to pay for it. The poor, the middle-class, the elderly, and the infirm are asked to make cuts while the rich get greater tax breaks.

Let Arnold keep his Hummer; it makes him look like a tough guy and serves as an example for the rich. Even he could not stand too close to W on that last Republican fundraising trip to California. Perhaps a photo-op wasn't such a good idea for the governor of a state with California's problems. Arnold's state was enforcing fuel conservation measures while Bush was holding hands with and kissing the Saudi prince.

Our largest foreign supplier of oil is Saudi Arabia, which is the home country for most of the 9-11 terrorists and for OBL himself. You are using an unnecessary amount of oil resources imported from one of the most repressive regimes in the world where zealots like the 9-11 gang are tolerated and in some quarters are encouraged. Arnold knows it isn't good for his image to be seen next to a president residing over the torture of prisoners (California still struggles with the WWII legacy of Japanese internment camps).

We don't live in Dubya's delusional world. His character easily mangles the truth to fit his needs. Ours must not ever forget that our president lacks the capacity to grasp the difference between what he wants and what is right. We cannot forget that W planned the Iraq war before 9-11 because "that's the guy that tried to kill Dad." If we do, we are apt to become the lemmings racing behind him toward the cliff.

While I respect all of the hundreds of thousands of military personnel and sympathize the millions within their families that support our country and its policies as a matter of duty. "Duty" is what they signed on for, whether it was under Clinton or Bush. Their service and their supreme sacrifices have nothing to do with Bush and everything do to with their personal integrity to honor their duty to Country. The mangled mind of a few small-minded men in powerful positions do not detract from their deeds, rather, they highlight the difference between them and W.

I am deeply saddened by mangled clichés, half-truths, and outright lies that led them into this war. I feel enormous grief over the thousands of our people who have died in Iraq, and the tens of thousands who were permanently maimed there. I also mourn for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have suffered the same fate. Dubya has abused his enormous power by invading Iraq instead of leading the world to shut down OBL and Al Qaeda. History will judge him harshly. As it should, his lack of character damns him at every turn.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Chalk this one up to the anything and everything concept of this blog because today I am writing about something that is not yet making an impact on our lives.

I won't be surprised if you haven't heard about H5N1. Americans don't usually think a lot about what is happening other countries. Fortunately for us, this little killer hasn't arrived here yet. Yes, I said killer. H5N1 is the strain of bird flu that is passing into humans. It has been credited with killing 60 people in Asia. Now it has spread from Northern Turkey to Romania. Chances are it will be making its way through Europe and from there to North America.

Why worry about this when it isn't anywhere near us? Because now we still have time to prepare. We can stockpile vaccine. We can take health precautions. We can ban the import of poultry or feathers from affected areas. If prevention becomes a priority now, if we prepare, if at risk populations get flu shots... Yes, there are a lot of questions, but there is also time. Time is either our friend or our foe depending on what we do now. This is the time to make an investment in preparing for the virus, before it mutates into a human pandemic strain.