Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What Should We Do Differently?

When well meaning anti-war protesters voice their opinions about the debacle of the Iraq War the pro-war group shouts back the platitudes of the Bush administration. They shout: “Stay the course.” They shout: “Remember 9/11/2001” These shouts make no sense to any thinking person. People are dying and we are not making any progress in Iraq. The new constitution basically assures that Iraq will be another Islamic Republic, just like its neighbor next door. But, they also shout back a question that actually makes sense. They shout, “What should we do differently?”

Unfortunately we can not turn back time. We are stuck in the mess that was created by the Bush administration. Or, are we?

The major flaw of the Bush administration is that they do not listen to anyone. The Bush administration has determined what WE should do in Iraq and they have determined that we should hunker down and follow the course. Working hard and following the Bush plan is the Holy Grail that the Bush administration tells us is our only choice. They tell us that we can’t pull out our troops, because that would result in chaos. In the typical Republican rhetoric we are told that there are only two choices, the Bush plan and the wrong plan. But, the world is not black and white. Choices are not only A or B. There are always C, D, E, and more. So, how does one go about creating the alternative plans of C, D and E? One might begin with listening to the Iraqi people.

If the Bush administration actually listened to the Iraqi people and thought about what they are saying the Bush administration could have been able to do the right thing. You would think that a good Christian that George W Bush professes to be would realize that listening to people and creating relationships is the key to building trust and understanding. Once someone understands the people he is trying to help, then he would be able to know what the “right thing” is. And, once he knows what they “right thing” is he can take the US forces and muster the resources to make it happen.

So, what is the right thing? What should we be doing that the Iraqi people actually want us to do?

First of all we need to listen to the Iraqi people! I said this already, but I it can’t be repeated to often, because it is the key to fixing the mess in Iraq.

Second we need to understand what the different groups in Iraq want from us and what they understand about what we are planning to do. I’ve also said this once already, but it also needs to be repeated. Repeating the obvious is the only way to counter the repeated lies of the Bush administration.

Well, I have listened to several Iraqis who are frustrated by the US occupation of Iraq. Some were Sunnis and some were Shiites. It actually turns out that only the Kurds actually support what we are doing in Iraq, because they want to retain the autonomy that they already have. The Sunni group wants us out and surprisingly the Shiite group wants us out. The first group of course is actively fighting against the US with suicide bombers and the like. But the surprise is that the Shiite group believes that the best thing for the US to do is to withdraw and turn the law enforcement activities over to the UN, or a group of nations that had nothing to do with the invasion.

The common understanding of the common Iraqi is coming to the conclusion that the US occupation is doing more harm than Saddam did. This is because there is a growing sense of urgency among the Shiite group. People are beginning to say things like, “at least under Saddam we had 22 hours of electricity per day. Today one is lucky to have 2 hours of electricity per day. The US doesn’t understand the needs of the people and the lack of concern is only making things worse. The resentment among the very large group of non-Kurdish Iraqis is making the vision of America as the occupier and the enemy.

Well, you may say to yourself that it’s fine, because at least the Kurds support us. It turns out that the Kurds represent less than 20% of the population of Iraq. So, if we were to go with the democracy idea that is being pushed by the Bush administration you would have to admit that 80% of the population is against the US occupation of Iraq.

If the Shiite population doesn’t like what is happening in Iraq do the elected leaders of Iraq have the option to tell the US to leave Iraq? Yes, George W Bush has told us all that Iraq can tell the US to leave. But, as it turns out the Shiite leaders have a need for the US to stay, mainly it is because the Shiite leaders currently have the political power in Iraq and while the US is there they won’t lose that power. Even though the Shiite main population is becoming more concerned with the US occupation they care about getting hot water and electricity more than they care about the Iraqi constitution. Even though the US military is working hard at making this happen, 150,000 soldiers that are more concerned about road side bombs are not going to make the lights turn on any time soon.

The only hope that we have is that the lights need to turn on in the minds of the Bush administration. If this happens, then the Bush administration may begin to ask the Iraqis what they want, and maybe they will actually listen for a change.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Teaching Religion in Public School

Should schools teach religious explanations for creation in addition to Darwin's theory of evolution? Is the concept of "intelligent design" religion or science?

In order to answer this question we need to revisit the reason we have public education in the first place. The people of the community believe that an educated citizen will produce an educated electorate and an educated electorate is needed to produce a fair and free democracy. The people also believe that there should not be a state religion. The fine distinction between using universal overarching religious ideals and using faith specific dogma is where most of the argument lies.

People want a government that is moral and ethical. People also tend to tie their ideals of moral and ethical behavior to the specific faith that they follow. People actually tend to go further than wanting a moral and ethical government to the generalization that they would like to have a moral and ethical society. Religious people tend to believe that morals and ethics are tied to their religion, finding it hard to believe that people could choose to behave morally or ethically without God telling them to. Non-religious people do behave morally and ethically without the fear of God’s wrath. Most non-religious people are convinced that moral and ethical behavior will keep them out of jail. And, non-religious people that are higher on the development scale actually believe that moral and ethical behavior makes the society a better place to live.

So, are morals and ethics taught in public school? This question does not have a clear-cut answer. If you believe that giving rules to children and punishing them for not following the rules is a form of moral or ethical education, then yes morals and ethics are taught in public school. However, if you believe that teaching morals and ethics consists of taking down the Bible and going over the Ten Commandments and the Book of Leviticus, then morals and ethics are not taught in public schools.

From this description of how morals and ethics are taught in public schools we should get a glimpse of how other issues with religious components should be taught. The overarching ideals of morals and ethics are taught in school without pointing to the specific implication to ones specific faith. The child is not taught that stealing is specified in the Bible, but rather stealing is not allowed at school. Similarly hitting, spitting, chewing gum and a list of other things are also forbidden at school. Does the school defend its position on gum chewing from a Biblical reading? No, gum chewing is simply not allowed, because the discarded gum often makes a mess.

Similarly, inside the school halls students are expected to learn what scientists have learned from their years of observing our Universe. Science is simply the collection of observations organized in a way to understand our world. All of the observations need to fit together without contradiction. When two observations contradict each other, then a new way of looking at the evidence could be needed to explain the discrepancy. Some questions hang in the air for years before they are understood, but the experimental observations still remain observations.

One simple example of this is the way in which light can behave like a particle or a wave. Similarly and electron can behave like a particle or a wave. This observation has been demonstrated over and over again in experiments, but it not completely clear WHY this observation is always made under the different conditions. Not knowing WHY does not stop scientists from making new observations and designing new experiments.

Similarly, the observations of evolution have been made over the last hundred years. The fact that these observations are made in our Universe is a fact. All of these observations fit together in the context of the Theory of Evolution. The Theory of Evolution is a scientific Theory, which means that all the observations fit into the theory. When a well-studied piece doesn’t fit in the current theory, then the theory can be modified in order to maintain consistency. The theory never addresses why the Theory explains all of the evidence, only the fact that it does.

“Intelligent Design” is an attempt to answer the question “Why” the evidence from all of the scientific observations fit together in the context of the Bible. The Bible tells the religious person how the creation happened and these people feel the need to fix the discrepancy between their religious understanding, and the scientific observation. The problem with getting specific about reconciling religious teaching with scientific fact is that not all religions agree with the premise of how the universe was created. The “Intelligent Design” premise assumes the Judeo-Christian story of creation. This story tells the reader that there was an organized creation. But, there are creation stories from the Greeks and Romans that claim the creation was the result of a war between the Titans. Native American stories of creation tell how man was created as a result of a tragedy. Some religions explain how people morphed out of other animals. Therefore, offering “Intelligent Design” as an explanation of scientific evidence ignores the “Random Design” theory of other religious creation stories.

I would suggest that “Intelligent Design” could be taught in school as one of many creation stories. But, having “Intelligent Design” stand as the only explanation for the scientific observations would be wrong and would not be an over arching religious ideal. The options would be to teach multiple creation stories from a world religion point of view, or to leave teaching the reconciliation of Evolution with religion to the parents or churches. After all, since “Intelligent Design” concerns the mostly religious sector of our society, the issue should be resolved within the religious community.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Talking to Myself

Seven years ago I found a couple of notebooks from high school. I transcribed them in order to preserve them and share them with the world. But, it also offered me the opportunity to talk to myself. I wrote some things during study hall in High School, and I answered them 23 years later. Of course my earlier self could never know what my older self had written, but the conversation is interesting none-the-less. And, teenagers never listen to adults anyway, so it isn't much different than if I were standing there talking to myself in reality.

November 20, 1975 "Thoughts, the will to think" MF

I started this book because many times I have had exciting thoughts and if I wrote them down on a single piece of paper they would be lost for sure. To start this book I will have to tell you a little about myself if you are to understand any of it.

I live in Mentor, Ohio on Hayes Blvd. off Ohio St. off 306. I go to Lake Catholic High School. I swim on the West End "Y" Swim Team. I enjoy Math and Science mostly advanced but not too advanced. I usually make predictions, fantasize and create drawings of strange objects or mechanical devices. I design houses. I love to figure out unproved facts (or if they're proven, I don't know about them). My hobbies are collecting coins, listening to rock albums, raising fish (or any other pet for that matter), shooting off rockets (when I feel like doing these things, but not all of the same things at the same time), playing Monopoly, Swimming (as I mentioned before) and that's about it. Oops I like to read Science Fiction, and this writing may show it in some places.

April 1998

Thoughts, the will to think. That's a very nice comment on something most people take for granted. Yes, beings on this earth have the ability to reflect on their actions. One must pray that that reflection will influence growth and development of each individual. In fact, your comment strikes me as being a bit odd to be presented as a revelation. In any case, I am glad that you have discovered self reflection, and I hope many others will be introduced to this concept.

I too like to swim, read, write and listen to music. Perhaps we can discuss this further at a later time.

November 21, 1975

Here I sit in study hall, no homework to do, so here I sit writing in this notebook. I am straining my brain to think of something interesting to write in it.

(10 Minutes later)

OK, Thought of something!!

1) If you have an arc can you find the size of the circle and the degrees of the arc by some arithmetical equation?

Find the length AB by the use of ruler. Use metric. Do you know the answers? I am going to work on this one at home where I can use a compass, protractor and ruler.

2) If a rocket that weighs so many grams, has so many newtons of thrust, aimed at some angle. What is the equation used to figure out where the rocket will land if the wind factor is zero and the air resistance is A.

If additional information is needed or if the information doesn't make sense (It should, there aren't many numbers used) I will make corrections later.

3) Theory: Einstein said that nothing but light can travel at the speed of light (c). But I say light or radio waves are made up of electrons, protons, etc... So is matter. You may have to change matter radio waves to make it go that fast but it will be possible. My problem is how can the radio waves be converted back into matter?

April 1998

1) If you draw two perpendicular lines, one from two different points on the arc they will intersect at one point, the center of the circle.

2) If you sum all the forces acting on the rocket, Thrust, Air resistance, Gravity and areo dynamic lift, the resulting vector will yield the force applied to the rocket.Taking this the initial position of the rocket and the initial velocity the trajectory and the timing can be calculated.

3) Oh, to dream. In my youth I had such dreams. I always dreamed the world would be the way I wanted it to be. It wasn't until much later that I learned the restrictions placed on us actually provide many of the challenges presented to us every day. These challenges make life very exciting.

November 24, 1975

At this time my worry is that Bill Dunn (our swim coach) doesn't even know what's going on in the effect of our swim team. He thinks that we are great, but he has a surprise coming. He thinks that AAU doesn't exist, but you look at all the good swimmers and they compete in AAU. He would have never get a team even worthy to compete in Regionals.

April 1998

Some people believe competition is meant to be fun. Maybe he doesn't think winning is the worlds greatest lesson, there are others. Team cooperation, getting along with one another and learning how to lose gracefully are important as well. Just remember to try your best.

November 25, 1975

Nothing to say.

April 1998

That's a very interesting comment. I believe you felt something in your heart and you wanted to express it, but when you attempted to write it down you couldn't think of a way to express yourself.


Stereotypes are created when a group of people gathers together to support an issue, purpose or even a culture. These people come together and a casual observer will notice the things that are common about the group of people gathered.

That’s a generalized statement, but the specific example might be the Scottish Games. People who go to the Scottish games have some interest in Scotland and the culture of Scotland. Most of them are likely to be of Scottish descent. If you casually observed the group as a whole you might come to some generalities of the people who profess to be Scottish and how the general Scot behaves at these games. Some of the stereotypes might be valid, like the strange contests that they hold. You couldn’t argue that a stereotypical young Scotsman longs to toss the caber, a long log about the size of a telephone pole. Of course, not all young Scotsmen have trained to toss a caber, so it would be wrong to generalize that all young Scotsmen toss cabers at these events.

The point that I am trying to make is that the reason for the gathering certainly has an effect on which people are drawn to an event. Some stereotypes are certainly valid when talking about the gathering of people. Other stereotypes certainly are not valid, but they get propagated anyway.

So, when I read the Sunday morning San Jose Mercury news I wasn’t surprised by this little incident.

“At the pro-Bush rally, there were some heated moments when two members of Protest Warrior, a group that frequently holds counter protests to anti-war rallies, walked in with a sign that read "Say No to War - Unless a Democrat is President."

“Many Bush supporters only saw the top of the sign and believed the men were war protesters, so they began shouting and chasing the pair out. One man tore up their signs. When Will Marean of Minneapolis kept repeating that he was on the Bush side and tried to explain Protest Warrior's mission, one Bush supporter shook his hand and apologized.”

It is “funny” that a group of people would gather together in the name of violence, with a pre-emptive strike mentality and that mentality plays itself out in this manner. A guy that is certainly lacking in the skills of communication created a sign that required a bit of extra thought to understand. The group of people reading it became outraged before they thought about it. The poor guy is pleading that he is on the pro-War side of the argument, and he is forced into a battle with his like-minded colleagues. This incident seems to be a metaphor for the conflict that they are supporting.

The US didn’t spend time considering the situation, just like the pro-War group didn’t spend time thinking about what was written on the sign. The Bush administration cut off communications with Iraq, just like the pro-War group decided not to talk to the guy with the poorly written sign. The Bush administration decided to attack preemptively, just like the crowd decided to attack this guy and rip up his sign. The results in bot cases were the same. The reasons for the attack were nonexistent. The lesson in both cases is that a little communication goes a long way…

Friday, August 26, 2005

Satire Strikes at Right Wing Bloggers

Scapple Face, a News satire blog has pulled one over on the right wing bloggers. In a satire piece that announced that George W Bush has done several things that he hasn’t really done. They say that he has written the Iraqi constitution, ordered a congressional fitness program, and written an answer to Cindy Sheehan. Apparently one of the conservative bloggers out in the blogosphere who doesn’t understand the purpose of the blog has begun circulating a leaked letter to Cindy Sheehan. Obviously the letter says things that only the right wing radicals would agree with. If the letter were truly written by him, moderates would leave him in droves.

Actually, moderates have left him in droves based on the latest polls. So, it really doesn’t matter if he wrote this letter or not, because the effect is the same. Former moderate Bush supporters will read it and say, “See I was right, Bush is a right wing radical and he doesn’t represent my views. It’s too bad that I fell for what he said during the election and voted for him. That was truly a mistake. God, I wish that I could have November back to do over again…”

Well, it just goes to show that you need to check your sources when you read the blog…

Gaps Create Terror and More

Gaps Create Terror and More

In an story that doesn’t seem to be making much press in the US the United Nations has reported that the worlds wealth gap continues to widen. The wealth gap is the amount of money the wealthy earn as compared to the amount of money the poor earn.

This should be an important story that everyone should understand. This is because the cause of most of the radical uprisings in the world today are antagonized and justified by this gap between the rich and the poor. Even in the famous “War on Terror” the Islamic extremists are able to recruit suicide bombers from the large numbers of poor who believe that their cause will be able to make the lives of future generations better by their sacrifice today. As the gap between the rich and poor grows, so does danger.

The conservative comeback to this issue is two fold.

1) The conservatives believe that economic growth creates a tide that lifts all boats. That means that if money pours into the economy the poor will reap benefits as well as the wealthy. This is the argument used to give tax cuts to the wealthy, because it will benefit the economy in general and help the poor.
2) The second conservative comeback is that people who work hard deserve to have the money the have acquired. Helping the poor results in rewarding the poor for not working hard enough. They consider this redistribution of wealth, which is meant to evoke the fear of communism many conservatives have.

The truth is actually much different than what they say here. The conservatives truly believe that people who have wealth should take advantage of it because they deserve their special status. By calling attention to the gap between the wealthy and the poor they may be forced to actually do something about this, and that would effect the status of their personal wealth. Ignoring the gap between the wealthy and the poor benefits the conservative special interest group - The Wealthy. How else could the Bush administration get away with tax cuts for the wealthy?

The UN report is getting little press in the United States because it says one more thing that flies in the face of the conservative comeback to this issue. It says that rising economies do not narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, it actually makes the gap wider. The effect has now been studied in many countries, because of the rising economies of so many countries. India has benefited from the growth of the software industry. China has benefited from the relaxation of government control over businesses. Eastern European countries have benefited from the New World order. Other countries have benefited from oil revenue. Each of these systems can be studied in great detail and the results have been compiled in this new report.

So, the results of the United Nations study is that a rising tide doesn’t raise all boats unless the government steps in and makes sure that the wealthy don’t steal an extra piece of the wealth.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Focus Factor

(This is actually a re-post from last year. Strangely enough I was thinking about deception and marketing and this popped back into my head. Instead of writing something like this again I'm just posting the old post, which I still like very much.)

When one watches late night TV all types of strange products are advertised. Focus Factor is one of those products. The claim is that this product increases your focus power. Somehow the commercial allude to the fact that people have extremely short attention spans and they need to take a drug that will increase their ability to focus their attention.

This was quite humorous for me when I first saw the commercial.

First of all, if all these people with short attention spans suddenly were able to focus their attention on something what would they be focusing their attention on? Well, we already have an experiment that was done in the 1960s that will tell us what these people will focus their attention on. Most likely they will focus their attention on sex, drugs, music and more TV. Well, maybe if these people are the group of people that are watching late night TV they will probably focus on watching even more late night TV.

What was this experiment that was done in the 1960s? It was the mass smoking of marijuana. It turns out that we now know that one of the major effects of marijuana is how it decreases ones distraction factor. What I mean by distraction factor, is that it is difficult to distract one who smokes marijuana. In fact, we now understand this system quite a bit more than we did in the 1960s. So, when you think of the stereotype of a pothead as a person that sits and counts the hairs on the back of his hand, or listens to music with incredible concentration, or stares into space contemplating the universe the marijuana has decreased the distraction factor. The pothead is sitting there contemplating one idea for an extended period of time. These long periods of contemplation have lead to bizarre ideas, but it had also lead to creative imaginative ideas and new music. But like anything moderation is the key. If one continues concentrate on music for twenty years then the person in this deep concentration may never be distracted from it enough to get a job and grow up.

So, it’s really funny how this Focus Factor is being sold to do something that marijuana has been doing for quite a while. However, the people who purchase Focus Factor may not even use it to concentrate on anything useful if the supplement actually works.

It’s all in the marketing....

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News From the Front

As some of you may recall, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dissented from the Supreme Court’s decision striking down state laws against sodomy, calling it an unjustified intervention in the culture wars. For a few weeks everyone was talking about the culture wars. Who is winning, was the common question. The explosion of right wing talk radio shows and the lack of similar shows to the left was often cited as proof that the right was winning the latest battle. The Republican majority in congress and George W Bush’s reelection were also cited as further proof of dominance of the right in these culture wars. Things were certainly looking bad for the revolutionaries of the 1960s that started the culture wars.

Well, like in any war, winning battles is great, but the goal is to win the war. It certainly seemed as if the right was picking up a few battle victories with the recent elections and the dominance on the radio waves. But these victories have apparently reinvigorated some of the people on the left.

One microcosm of the culture wars may be Minnesota. Maybe this one market is foreshadowing a future trend along these lines. Deborah Caulfield Rybak of the Star Tribune tells us that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hanity among other have lost enormous market share in the Twin Cities.

Well, if a trend were to start somewhere my guess would be that it would start in the middle of the country. If you recall the 2004 elections, Minnesota was one of the Battle States. This is because there were a large number of right wing radicals influencing the moderates. This group was devout radio listeners who would cheer and applaud every right wing cause and make the moderates feel like they were way off base when they questioned the radical direction the country was going. This group of radicals would listen to right wing radio to get talking points and then spread their message throughout the community. Judging by the demographics of the radio listenership these radicals were largely 18-34 year-old white males.

Its hard to say exactly why this group had such a fervent following of the radical right, but at least in Minnesota the tide is beginning to subside. From the recent radio ratings it is clear that this group isn’t swarming to the left. But, instead the group is moving over to the sports talk shows instead. It is clear that these guys are not changing their political ideology. But, they are certainly changing their influence on both the radio market and the people they talk to. Judging from these number in this one small market it seems that these guys are going to be talking about sports in the local bars and workplaces rather than politics.

Obviously the culture wars will continue for quite some time. No one will be declaring victory any time soon. Battles will be fought, and both sides are bound to have their share of both victories and defeats. The only thing that will determine who has won will be in the culture that out children and grandchildren continue to pass down to future generations. I can only pray that the culture will be one of love and tolerance of your neighbor.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

No Wonder the Red States Are Red

If one doesn’t have the truth, then how can one make a good decision?

Of course no one can make a decision without the true facts.

Sometimes the facts are not that clear. People will argue about the description of a robber, even if they were all at the scene of the crime. People will argue about the relative need and the priority of an action. In these cases the access to facts may be the reason for disagreement. However, it could also be the light in which one views that fact which alters one’s opinion.

This is why freedom of speech was included in the Bill of Rights. If one is able to control the communication, then one is able to frame the way people will “see” the facts. Control of the media can lead to control of the government.

So, this particular story frightens me.

Cindy Sheehan tried to air a television ad that asks the president questions about the Iraq War. It should be her right to voice her opinion. In fact, conservatives tend to pride themselves on the fact that soldiers are dying to protect the American right to exercise their right to free speech. But, when she tried to air a commercial in Idaho which she was willing to pay for she was told that they wouldn’t allow it to be aired because “There Is “No Proof” Of Absence Of WMD In Iraq...” The absence of “proof” could be considered a debatable fact. And, the last time I heard debate should be a public forum where people are asked to draw their own conclusion.

All I can think is that other TV stations in the “RED” states must have similar policies. How else could these people be so intent on fighting an illegal, unjust and unnecessary war in Iraq? Well, if the evidence never gets to the people they are bound to continue to believe the lies of the administration. And the evidence will never get to the people if the local affiliates continue to censor the airwaves.

In an update to this post at 7:30 PM Eastern Time I would like to add that Pat Robertson’s 700 Club is broadcast by the Disney Corporation. The Disney Corporation has no problem with what Pat Robertson said about his Fatwa on Hugo Chavez yesterday on this show. But, the Disney Corporation will not air the newly created Cindy Sheehan anti-War ads. How are the people in the “Red” states going get a fair and balanced view? What is the deal with the Disney Corporation?

Robertson Doesn’t Know How to Apologize

Reuters is reporting that Pat Robertson is backing off on his claim that he was urging the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. So, this is what backing off means to Pat Robertson:

"I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be a number of things including kidnapping," Robertson said on his "The 700 Club" television program.

"There are a number of ways of taking out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted," Robertson added.

So, I’m guessing that he would be OK with al Qaeda kidnapping George W Bush. As long as they don’t kill him, right? Maybe they could just put him in a cave in Afghanistan.

In his effort to make things right, Pat Robertson can’t even be nice. He calls the democratically elected leader of Venezuela a dictator. Does that mean that we should refer to George W Bush as a dictator?


I thought that I would leave politics today and think a little bit about prayer. Many people won’t like what I am about to say, because I just saw the Newsweek story on spirituality that came out this week. The story included a poll asking Americans about their spirituality. And, a couple of the questions in the poll had to do with prayer.

The poll suggested that I may not feel the same way about prayer as many Americans do.

The question I like to ask is, what is the purpose of prayer? If I remember my Religious education, there are three purposes for prayer.

1) To thank God
2) To praise God
3) To ask God for help.

Obviously others may have been taught differently, and I don’t doubt that there are other ways of looking at prayer, but for the sake of discussion I am going to use this list.

It seems obvious that if you believe in God and you pray you would start every prayer with a thank-you. It just seems to me that that would be common courtesy. Perhaps it could be something like, “Dear God, thank-you for allowing me to experience life.” But, the Newsweek poll published in the magazine says that only 23% of people actually thank God when they pray. Well, actually that isn’t the way the question is worded and that is obviously the key to getting the right answers - asking the right questions. The survey asks for the most important purpose of prayer.  That should be a no-brainer, to praise God! Right?

Which of the following do you think is the most important purpose of prayer?

    RESPONSES                                   WEB     NEWSWEEK / Beliefnet     
    To seek God's guidance                    32%     27%     
    To thank God                                   16%     23%     
    To be close to God or the divine        26%     19%     
    To help others                                   3%     13%     
    To improve a person's life                   6%     9%     
    None of these/Other                          13%     4%     
    Don't know                                        4%     5%     

Actually, praising God isn’t even on the list. The astute survey taker would think “praise God” and check in none of these, right? So, maybe 13% of the web sample figured it out, but only 4% of the original Newsweek sample checked none-of-these.  This likely says more about the people who constructed the survey than it does about the people taking the survey.

Then we get to the third purpose for prayer, asking for God’s help. Obviously the people who constructed the survey were thinking along these lines, because they broke the category up into “asking for guidance,” “asking to help others,” “asking to help improve one’s own life,” and the “asking to be close to God.” If you think about it for a second, “asking to be close to God” is actually the same as “asking to improve ones life” on the spiritual level. But, we will assume that the survey creators actually meant material gains and spiritual gains in these two options.

So, basically the Newsweek survey assumes that people pray mainly to get something, rather than to thank or praise God. And, they were mainly concern with what people prefer to ask for when they pray. This seems to be a bit sad for the state of our culture, and maybe that’s why the religious radicals have been able to get a stranglehold on our country.

In the final few paragraphs here I was going to point out that the strength of prayer isn’t in it’s power to acquire material possessions, or even to get material possessions for another person. Prayers don’t change the physics of the Universe. But, the power of prayer lay in something that we don’t understand outside of the ability to experiment. We know this, because experiments on prayer have shown that praying has no effect on physical process.

But, we shouldn’t be dismayed at this. As a scientist I know that we should accept what we measure as part of the Universe that God gave us. But God also gave us free will, and this is the one thing that does not behave the same way with the same conditions. We think and we decide as we go along. If prayer has any effect in the world we live in it surely has it in the area of free will.

So, a prayer for peace, for example is a prayer to influence the free will of a leader to choose the path of peace. Even a prayer for fewer abortions is a prayer appealing to the free will of a woman to choose against having an abortion. These types of prayer may actually do some good for the world we live in and I would encourage every one to pray for peace, because it may just effect the free will of leaders who have choosen wrongly for so long.

, and

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Orwellian Deception

George W Bush is the poster boy for George Orwell’s 1984. If you haven’t read the book, then you owe it to your country to do so. George Orwell described a time in the future, from the late1940s when he wrote his prophesy, 1984. Unfortunately if he were to tittle it 2004 he would have been right on the money. The word orwellian has become an adjective to mean deception through the art of word selection. George W Bush and his cohort in crime Karl Rove have mastered to art of orwellian deception.

Of course, the main objective of using orwellian language is to make the listener believe what the speaker says is not only the truth, but it is the comfortable truth couched in the belief that we all know the comfortable truth. Maybe that sentence was orwellian in itself, but that is the whole problem with trying to describe the problem of orwellian Deception. Every explanation seems to be complex and difficult to understand. But, George Orwell creates a series of examples through the story 1984 in which Winston Smith the main character shows us how this language is used to control the masses.

Apparently Karl Rove or George Bush not only read 1984, but they mastered the whole creation of alternative reality in such a way that the general public accepts the policy of murder, invasion and occupation as the best US foreign policy in Iraq. The American public not only accepts the idea that George W Bush is a moral person, but they voted him into office using these criteria when the truth is the exact opposite. Even when the truth about Karl Rove’s treasonous outing of Joe Wilson’s wife as a CIA agent in order to retaliate for Joe Wilson exposure of the truth about Iraqi nuclear capability has come out the Orwellian deception continues.

Changing vocabulary to describe problems in order to make them sound less problematic is only one aspect of orwellian deception. Another aspect is to smear the opposition with lies so often that the lies sound like the truth. Another aspect of orwellian deception is to ignore the facts and misdirect with answering questions with answers that don’t really answer the questions. Karl Rove and George W Bush are professionals when it comes to this deception.

Karl Rove and George W Bush have used this strategy of smearing the opposition so effectively that it has become their first choice lately. They smeared John McCain in the 2000 primary campaign by spreading rumors about his stability, and ethics. They told the rumor mill that he had become unstable as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. They smeared Max Cleland, a triple-amputee Vietnam veteran in the 2002 Georgia Senate race. And most famously they hired the Swift Boat Veterans to lie about John Kerry’s record in Vietnam. Both Karl Rove and George W Bush know the power of lies and deception, because they have profited by them throughout their careers.

So, it isn’t surprising that Karl Rove and George W Bush are back at it again. Cindy Sheehan won’t go away from her stand down the road from George W Bush’s vacation retreat in Crawford, Texas. So, the deception duo of Rove and Bush has drummed up the smear tactics again. They began by calling for “unorganized citizen outrage” through their network of right wing talk show hosts. These impromptu groups showed up in Crawford, Texas across from Cindy Sheehan’s group. This was obviously a stall for some time in order for them to organize other efforts, like the caravan from California to Texas, which will arrive this weekend. They have organized a group calling themselves “Soldiers Mothers for Truth.” (Notice the Orwellian language in the name.)In order to smear the heart felt pain that Cindy Sheehan feels for the wasted effort her son made for George W Bush's unnecessary War in Iraq this group plans to protest Cindy Sheehan’s efforts. And we should expect more effeort to smear her by calling her crazy or an extremist. These tactics suceeded in the past, so the deceptive duo will march the orwellian deception out.

However, the question remains: Will Karl Rove and George W Bush succeed in the Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan? Let us hope and pray not, because the orwellian deception knows not where to stop!

Christian Jihad

I am sick and tired of religious extremists using God as an excuse to use violence to get what they want.

I am not thinking about the Taliban or al Qaeda this time. I mean Pat Robertson.

Pat Robertson the Preacher from the Radical Religious Right has imposed the Christian equivalent of a fatwa on the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. The New York Times has reported that Pat Robertson suggested “that American agents assassinate President Hugo Chavez.”

It is quite strange that Americans in general and conservatives more fervently oppose fatwas when they are declared by Islamic Clerics. However, I have yet to hear any indignation against Pat Robertson for the announcement of his fatwa.

A couple of weeks ago I brought up the fact that Pat Robertson and his 700 Club were preparing our country to go to war in Iran. Notice, I said Iran, not Iraq. We are already in Iraq. The 700 Club was not only preparing us for War in Iran, but they were telling us that it was going to be a nuclear war and we should consider striking first. If this isn’t the talk of a power hungry mad man I don’t know what is. If we were to compare what Osama bin Laden tells his followers to what Pat Robertson tells his viewers in an objective way we might wonder why Osama is running from cave to cave in Pakistan while we allow Pat Robertson to preach his hate speech on TV.

Let’s look at Hugo Chavez and see why this man deserves death. Did he write a book like “Satanic Verses” or invade a country? These are reasons that Islamic Clerics use to support the issue of a fatwa. No, Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela in a Democratic election, just like George W Bush was elected President of the United States. In fact, he won in a landslide victory in 1998, not by the slim margin that George W Bush won by. By George W Bush’s standards Hugo Chavez has a mandate that surpasses anything that President Bush could claim.

So, why does Pat Robertson feel justified in issuing a Christian fatwa against this man that was loved by the people and elected by such large margins?

Maybe it had something to do with the meeting between Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro this last weekend. The US mainstream media covered this event in all its glory - NOT! I discovered that these two leaders had met when I was practicing my Spanish on Sunday night. I would listen to the TeleMundo news broadcast and see if I could recognize any words that I knew. My Spanish isn’t that great, but practice makes you a little better at understanding Spanish. So, when I saw that they had met I was curious to know what they had said to each other. I strained my Spanish ear to understand that they said that the United States was the root of all the problems in Latin America. Wow, I could have guessed that, but does such a statement really demand the death penalty?

Why in the world does a man, who claims that he reads the Bible and obeys the Word of God, believe that it is just fine to violate the commandment, “Thou Shall Not Kill?”

Obviously it goes back to the Cold War days. When we were up against the Evil Empire the threat of nuclear war was the gravy train for the 700 Club. The mantra of the 700 Club was, “The End is Near, send all your money to us.” The hated enemy was Communism. This is because Communism tells the rich to share their wealth with the poor, just like Jesus said. But the threat of Communism is that the government tells you to share instead of Jesus. The argument was that people would not decide to share with each other if they had free choice and elections. The only way that people would share is if radicals took over the government, killed lots of people and forced the people to share with one another. You can’t force people to follow the words of Marx or Lenin. You need to force people to follow the words of Jesus Christ!

Now that Hugo Chavez has been elected by a huge majority of the people and he is trying to make things fair for all the people in Venezuela the wealthy minority and the American business owners who have property in Venezuela are worried that they could lose some of their wealth and power and Pat Robertson wants to make sure that that won’t happen. After all, Pat wants the money for himself.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cheerleaders for War

War needs popular support in order to be successful. It only goes to say that is the reason that governments go to such extremes in order to win popular support for war. Even the Germans during both world wars went to extreme measures of propaganda to win popular support for the war they chose to pursue. Before and during World War II, the Japanese taught their children a tail of Japanese manifest destiny. This idea became so ingrained into Japanese culture that the public supported the expansion of Japan into China and the Pacific.

This is why American popular support is also important in a Democracy like the United States. In general it isn’t difficult to get popular support for any military action at the beginning. This is because every country has established a large amount of national pride through tradition and patriotism. People elect their leaders in a Democracy and the have the naïve notion that their leaders really care about the country. People fall behind their leaders and support them without even trying to understand the leaders argument for war. Understanding an argument is for the intellectual crowd, the common man doesn’t have time to think about such esoteric things. “Tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll be there,” is the mantra of the common man.

As we should know by now, the momentum for war doesn’t continue on indefinitely. As the dead soldiers come home and the progress in the war looks meager at best people begin to ask if the price for war is worth the progress. There will always be people who believe that questioning the government policy is unpatriotic, and they would never raise these questions. Of course, the group that would never consider supporting a war for any reason at all counters this group. But, the people in the middle, those who understand the need for “just war” and understand the price that is paid for a “just war,” need to support the government policy on war if the government is going maintain the popular support for a war. And, when popular support wanes the government needs to bring out the cheerleaders for war.

Cheerleading puts a happy face on a violent situation. Think of cheerleading, which happens during a football game where the cute girls put a pretty face on the pain that is happening on the field. When the team is down and out, loosing by twenty-one points in the fourth quarter the cheerleaders yell and shout in a futile effort to make everyone happy. The cheerleaders for war do exactly the same thing.

It was fortunate for the American people that George W Bush has the experience of being a Yale cheerleader, because he is using that experience today as he goes out to win the hearts and the minds of the American people. Actually he isn’t actually asking anyone to understand or believe what he is saying. Like the football cheerleader knows, it isn’t the words in the cheer that matter it is the attitude. George W Bush is going on a five-day cheerleading tour to bolster popular support for the Iraq War. George W Bush wants his cheers to be louder than Cindy Sheehan’s cheer against the war. In essence George W Bush is saying, Who do you want to support? Do you want to support a mother who is grieving over the loss of her son, and knows the cost of war? Or, do you want to support the President of the United States, who didn’t plan for the aftermath of the invasion, has no clue what people who have lost loved ones are feeling, borrows money to pay the financial price and has no idea when we will bring our soldiers home?

And, George W Bush knows that if he says it enough times with the right attitude the American people will fall in behind him and cheer for War!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Judy Miller Waits

We already know that Karl Rove and Lewis Libby were involved in leaking top secret information in order to discredit Joe Wilson. Back in 2003 the reason to preemptively attack Iraq was to rid Iraq of their weapons of mass destruction. If the US Congress and the American people knew that Iraq didn’t have Weapons of Mass Destruction then George W Bush would have had a much more difficult time getting support to invade a country that posed no threat.

Judy Miller was one journalist that helped to prop-up the Bush administration’s argument that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction. She wrote a series of articles using Ahmed Chalabi as the source, and not requiring a second source to verify any of his assertions. Well, actually Miller most likely used the Bush administration as a second source, but seeing that Chalabi sold the same information to these guys you would expect the stories to match.

But, Judith Miller was proven wrong as every WMD site was shown to be empty. And we knew this back when Jack Shafer wrote this story back in July 2003.

But as I have written before, lies take a long time to be cleansed from the system. There are bloggers who continue to write about weapons of mass destruction being moved out of Iraq before the invasion just in time to get away. However, no one has ever proven that the weapons ever existed during the run up to the war, let alone that they had been moved.

The New York Times never retracted Judith Miller’s stories, but apologized to its readers on May 26, 2004 on page A10 that its coverage of the WMD issues were ‘problematic.’ This is 10 months after it was common knowledge that there were no WMDs in Iraq. Unfortunately the New York Times was afraid to admit it was wrong. This late apology was so far removed from the issue in time that it had no effect on the re-election of George W Bush. If the NewYork Times had covered the story in 2003 with the truth about Ahmed Chalabi and Judith Miller the Bush administration would be seen in the light of truth and could have lost the election. But, instead Judith Miller continued to be in bed with the administration. That very July when Robert Novak published the name of Joe Wilson’s wife as a CIA operative Judith Miller was getting the same story from her source in the White House.

Judith Miller won’t tell who her source in the administration is. She would rather sit in jail than give up her source. So, this should tell us something about her source. First of all, if it were Rove or Libby why would she remain in jail? Everyone already knows and Rove and Libby don’t have a problem with their identity being revealed. Could it be another underling below Rove or Libby? If it were, would anyone care? Rove and Libby are quite high up in the organization, so who would care if one of their underlings leaked the same information? Not only that, but not many people were even privy to this classified information. So, who is Judith Miller’s source? Well I would guess that it must be someone at least at the same rank as Karl Rove, or higher, because the revelation that someone that high up is a leak is the only thing that can politically damage the administration. But who is in the administration that ranks higher than Karl Rove and has the gall to expose a CIA agent for political gain? There aren’t many people to choose from at that level. We have George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice and who else? I am guessing that it would be policy not to let the President do something like this just for deniability reasons. Rumsfeld is to busy waging war to be so political and Condi Rice is supposed to be a diplomat and not a political animal. My money is on Cheney.

So, I’m guessing that Judith Miller is rotting in a jail cell in an effort to protect Dick Cheney from being revealed as another source in the Plamegate affair.

Of course this is only for fun, please no wagering….

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Slow Trickle of Truth

I feel like I am repeating myself, but I’m not. Even though the truth about the build up to the Iraq War has been out in public for years now, this evidence isn’t accepted as the truth among those who continue to support the President’s vision of pre-emptive invasion. This is because the American people in general put trust in our nation’s leader to defend the United States of America and to uphold the Constitution. For some people it takes an enormous amount of evidence to convince them that their leader could act for personal gain prioritizing it over national security. This is because it would take an enormous amount of hubris, an extreme degree of evil intention, or a large amount of stupidity for an American leader to commit these acts of selfish behavior bordering on treason.

Not everyone places the same degree of respect and expectation on the office of the President of the United States of America. Some people allow their political ideology to cloud their vision of the truth. For example, extremists on the right were eager to impeach Bill Clinton when it was discovered that he lied about a sexual encounter. The politics clouded rational thought on this issue. Similarly, on a much more serious issue, the reason for taking our nation into war, the politics has once again clouded rational thought.

Obviously the crowd on the left who was first out with this evidence also reacted with a clouded view as well. This group had called for impeachment before an investigation. It simply makes more sense to do these things in order and not to jump to conclusions. Unfortunately, an investigation without cooperation leads to stonewalling and little information.

The evidence that is required to prove a crime is often difficult to find even if there is a strong suspicion of guilt. This isn’t unusual when a criminal wants to hide his crime they don’t tend to make it easy for the investigators. Police tend to catch the stupid criminals, but the smarter ones often get away with their crimes. In even worse cases organized criminals are able to get away with a multitude of crimes because of their ability to coordinate their efforts. Therefore it isn’t difficult to imagine that if organized crime is able to cover up it’s crimes, then an organization within the government that actually has its hands on the levers of power would be even more effective at covering up its crimes.

Sources of evidence in the form of documents within the government are concealed by classifying them as secret or top secret. Even when documents are released to journalists or investigators they are often redacted in such extreme ways that takes away the ability to trace relationships and interactions. This means that the administration has a great deal of influence over which documents are released and what is redacted from the documents that are released. These actions take time and the truth is only able to leak out slowly as the release of a document travels through the court system or bureaucracy of government. The hope of the criminals is that the information is delayed and by the time it is released people no longer care, because the people already believe that they understand the “reality” based on the lies that the criminals have spread.

Documents from other governments are not subject to the same control as the documents within the US government. This is why the Downing Street Memo is so significant. The Downing Street Memo tells us that the Bush administration was “fixing intelligence” in order to increase public support for a pre-emptive War in Iraq. But, the Downing Street Memo comes from another government not controlled by the criminals.

To add to the evidence that the Bush administration mislead the public into support for the pre-emptive War in Iraq are a set of newly declassified documents released yesterday August 17, 2005. These documents support the Downing Street Memo. These documents support what many people have told us about the run-up to the Iraq War. These documents tell us that “planning for post-Saddam regime change began as early as October 2001.”

Wait a minute, planning for post-Saddam regime change began right after 9/11/2001? If they planned this so early why was post-war Iraq so screwed up?

As the new documents continue to trickle out they all tend to confirm the conjecture that the War in Iraq was planned long before the claims of the Bush administration. Additionally, the criteria for the war was created out of thin air in order to deceive the American public into supporting an unnecessary, unjust and illegal War.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Moderation is the American Way

When I was young my parents taught me a lesson about moderation. They taught it to me over time on several occasions. For example, when we got home on Halloween night with a big bag of candy and treats my mother might say something like - candy is good a little at a time, but if you eat a lot you will be sick as a dog; moderation is the key. When I got older she would say that drinking alcohol is OK in moderation, but drinking too much is dangerous. She would comment on the new fads as they came out and talk about how extreme some may be. For example, she may have commented on the height of the platform shoes or the gaudiness of the jewelry or the brightness of the colors. The point was always not to go to the extremes, because moderation was the key to success.

When I moved out of the house I remembered this among the many other wise things that my parents taught me. When it came to fad nutrition, fad diets, fad exercise, and even fad clubs I always kept in mind the ideal or moderation. And, moderation has served me well. For example, when everyone was cutting salt out of their diet people began experiencing problems with maintaining a high enough blood pressure. When people cut fat out of their kid’s diets it was later discovered that kids actually need fat in their diet for proper brain development. Just because a little is good it doesn’t mean that a lot is better.

In politics I have always been in the middle of the road. I have been a little to the left on social issues, and I have been a little to the right on fiscal issues. In that vein I am a moderate libertarian. Shutting down the government would be an extreme measure, but minimal government is not a bad thing. The government needs to justify why it is spending my money, but a good infrastructure makes for a good economy. The government should leave the moral issues to the churches and the churches need teach their congregations what they believe to be right and wrong. Obviously the government needs to make laws against behavior infringes on the operation of society like theft and murder, but it needs to remove itself from behavior that is less harmful like drinking, gay marriage, or even abortion. People need to be responsible for themselves, even if they need to be encouraged from time to time to do what is best for society.

So, when I received the following comment I realize that my mission isn’t to convert every last neo-conservative to my way of thinking. He said, "I am never going to agree with you on your stance on Bush. Don't ever assume you will convert someone like me because you won't." Obviously I know that it can’t be done. People are free in America to believe in whatever they want to believe in. There are people who believe in UFOs and the coming of the anti-Christ. There are also people who wear tin foil hats because they believe that people are trying to read their minds. When a country allows its people to have freedom of expression there is bound to be a few that will go to the extremes. The current neo-conservative fad that began as a reaction to the liberal extremism of the 1960s is just another fad.

I read his comment again, "I am never going to agree with you on your stance on Bush. Don't ever assume you will convert someone like me because you won't."

And, I thought, that's fine! What I write is not for you. What I write is for an audience who thinks and is willing to look at both sides. I write for an audience who cares about the United States of America and not for a personal ideology. I write for the people in the middle of the political spectrum, because that is where I stand. I can see that moderate conservatives can make a sensible point and I can agree with it when it makes sense. But, I also write for people who care about the direction that the radical right wing of the Bush administration is taking our country. I write so those moderates will realize that we can't let the country be fooled into following these idiots down another rabbit hole like Iraq. Only the moderates will be able to protect our country from the extremists on either side.

Dr. Forbush Thinks - Fixing the Lies - Podcast

When untruths are spoken they can never be unspoken. When untruths fill the Blogosphere they can never be erased. If the people who speak these untruths never retract what they have said in a public way the lies continue to contaminate the political discussion. A democracy requires truth in order to make good decisions and when people desire lies over truth they don’t care about our nation. How unpatriotic is that?

Editorial Opinion: (click here to download the mp3 file) Fixing the Lies

, , ,and

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Right Wing Hypocrisy on Cindy Sheehan

I found this over at JABBS.

The Daily Show points to the Radical Right Hypocrisy. Here's an unofficial transcript from the Aug. 15 show:

STEWART: The Cindy Sheehan saga has many on the right fuming over her decision to go so public with her anguish.

MICHELLE MALKIN (on MSNBC's Hardball): I do think she has turned her private personal pain into a public circus.

MELANIE MORGAN (on Fox News): She is also a person who has had a political agenda for a lot longer than her son has been dead.

FRED BARNES (on Fox News): She's a crackpot.

STEWART: Yeah, she's a crackpot. I mean, who in their right mind raises an altar boy, eagle scout, honor student marine? What kind of parent was this woman? (Makes cuckoo sound.)

Fox News is showing its bias and wearing it on its sleeve.

JABBS also points out that the Radical Right is actually afraid of what Cindy Sheehan is doing, because she is bringing attention to the fact that soldiers have been killed in Iraq. The Bush administration doesn’t want us seeing the caskets coming home, but a crying mother can’t be hidden.

Axis of Evil

The Cindy Sheehan story is an important example of how the Bush administration takes advantage of people. Cindy gave her son to the Bush administration and she doesn’t want to give his memory to them as well. Knowing that Cindy is no longer a donor to the Republican cause he is no longer interested in her. What value does George W Bush place on Cindy Sheehan’s son?

This seems like a strange question, but in reality it is exactly the right question. After all, George W Bush found time in his vacation schedule to go out and meet with donors at a Republican fund raising event. How much money did they give to get to meet with the President of the United States? Cindy Sheehan gave her son, obviously George W Bush finds the contribution of her son’s life to his cause much less in value than the contributions of the Republican donors. It seems quite simple when you step back and look at George W Bush’s priorities.

Cindy Sheehan’s story, as important as it is, is actually helping the administration. This is because no one is talking about the “Axis of Evil.” I’m not talking about the three countries that President Bush pointed out in his 2002 State of the Union speech. I am talking about the Axis of Evil that exists in the Bush administration - Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the many supporting daemons.

The term evil may have been tossed around easily by the administration, but it has real meaning. Evil is defined as “the quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness” in the Yahoo dictionary which I assume not too many people will argue with. So, it seems that these four men easily live up to this definition based only on what they have done in the administration.

Since Tom DeLay is not specifically a member of the Bush administration I’ll describe his evil deeds first. First of all he created “Texans for a Republican Majority,” which isn’t evil in itself. However, the group took illegal money from outside of Texas to help GOP candidates inside Texas, which is illegal in Texas. Everyone understands that more money creates more opportunity to spread lies to the people in an effort for Republicans to be elected. Not only that, he made illegal trips to Korea to meet with business leaders who were involved in slave labor and prostitution. Of course Tom can plead ignorance, that would be the evil thing to do.

The remaining three men on the Bush administration axis of evil were involved in scaring the American public into going to war in Iraq. When an evil person is faced with the selfish interest of taking a country into a war they need to get support from the people. It is quite difficult to take a nation into war against their will.

Dick Cheney met with CIA officials more times than any Vice President in US history. And, as the Downing Street memo points out Cheney was fixing the intelligence in order to persuade the American people as well as the British government that the Iraq War would be worth the blood and treasure of the American people. Lies and deception are certainly evil traits.

Donald Rumsfeld has continued to paint a rosy picture of the War in Iraq. When the people continue to believe that victory is right around the corner they may be persuaded to continue the fruitless effort. Donald Rumsfeld does not present the facts, but only an opinion that he wishes the American people to support. Time and again Donald Rumsfeld’s vision of the future has proven false, but he continues to ignore reality. Feeding the American people lies in order to win their support is evil.

Karl Rove, the third prong but center on the Iraq War trident of Evil. (The trident sticks out one end of the axis of evil.) Karl Rove would stoop to treason to convince the American people that the Iraq War was a noble cause. He not only sought to discredit information from an expert on Nuclear Weapons when he disagreed with the administration’s position on the subject he also sought to punish him. Karl Rove spread the lies that Joe Wilson’s wife, a CIA agent, had suggested that Joe Wilson be sent to Niger to verify whether Iraq had purchased Uranium there. Both what Karl Rove did and why he did it were evil actions against the foundation of our country.
It is a good thing that Cindy Sheehan is showing the world how President Bush doesn’t care for the memories of the Iraqi War dead. But we need to remember that there is more to the “Axis of Evil” than his arrogance.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Words have accepted meanings based on the dictionary definition. Some words also have meaning that goes deeper than the simple dictionary definition.

For example, “money” is simply the tender to be used in economic transactions. However, ones experience with money certainly colors ones view of it. If a person was raised in a family where the father and mother fought over money all the time the child’s perception of money as a necessary evil might grow strong. If a person grows up in a family where money is hard to come by they may begin to dream of a day when money will solve all of their problems. They may dream of winning the lottery and moving into a mansion as a way to solve all their problems. It is clear that the money can mean more than simply the tender used in a transaction to many people.

Faith is another word that people place greater meaning on it than the dictionary definition.

Let’s look at the first three definitions of Faith

1) Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2) Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief, trust.
3) Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.

If you were founding a religion, which required followers not to question wouldn’t faith become a key ingredient in the foundation of this religion? So, it shouldn’t be any surprise when the word faith is used to describe something you need in order to be able to become unquestioning. And, powerful religions need unquestioning followers in order to retain power.

Therefore, the word faith acquires deeper meaning depending on ones experience with the word. One can think of putting ones faith in ones parents, ones teachers, or ones religion. Even though many people like to believe differently, we all need someone to trust with our hopes and fears to help us live life with confidence that we are doing the right thing. If we turn to someone when we have a problem, we have faith that the person we turn to has the answer. But we are all human and all answers have potential flaws, so when the advice we are given doesn’t help us we feel disappointed. This disappointment can shatter our faith in the person that we trusted. Religions attempt to tell followers that Faith in the religion leads to answers that are always right, therefore you can never be disappointed. Whether or not this is true, knowing that what you do can never be wrong leads to a comfortable feeling of confidence.

The question remains, if every religion feels that they have all the answers, and the answers are not the same, then how can anyone be sure that any particular religion is the true religion with all the answers? Of course, the answer to this question is: Have faith that the religion that you pick or were born into is the true religion. This answer follows the second definition of faith above - it doesn’t rest on logic or material evidence.

Faith is more than what people tell you about faith. Faith is a feeling of understanding the world in which we live in. We have faith that the sun will rise every day. We have faith that gravity will keep us planted firmly on the ground. We have faith that if one studies hard one will get good grades. And, the religious portion of the population has faith that if you are a good person through out your life you will go to heaven. The details of these faith ideas are often fuzzy, but most people have this faith and don’t question them.

On the other hand, observation of the world we live in provides evidence for what we know to be true. You can measure how far your city is from the ocean. The fact remains the same day in and day out. You don’t need faith, because you have a map. Science goes about observing the world and recording the information in such a way that it can be accessed over and over again. Observations are made in many different areas of understanding and those observations allow us to predict what to expect.

For example, if a car is travelling on Hwy 5 north at 75 miles per hour, one can predict that in one hour the car will be 75 miles further down the road. (Unless the car has mechanical difficulties.) This ability to predict the future takes some reliance on faith out of the equation. And, taking faith out of the equation scares the religions that rely on faith as a tool to keep their followers unquestioning.

There is faith in science as well as religion. In science one puts his or her faith in the person who made the measurements. Scientists assume that experiments that were done were repeatable. They assume that observations that were made by one person could be observed by anyone. Science puts faith in the observations and relies on the fact that they are what they claim to be. This is why scientists often repeat each other’s experiments and observations to assure the reality of the observations.

In religion, faith is placed in what the leaders of the religion tell you to believe in. The leaders defer their authority to God in most cases, claiming that God gave them everything that they are giving to the followers. There is no proof to the validity of the facts, instead it requires that one have faith in the validity of the facts. After all, what is faith, but the unquestioned belief in the religion that demands the faith?

How can one have faith if one questions it?

Now that we understand faith, the radical right makes a lot more sense. The radical right has drawn on the religious ideas of everyone putting their trust in faith. The radical right expects supporters to unquestioningly believe everything that George W Bush says. If you question what he says then you are deemed as loosing your faith and you are chastised for doing it. The radical right appeals to the Religious right, because this is what they are used to. Put your faith in the leadership and assume that they know what you need to do. Then, wait for them to tell you what to do. Blind faith in George W Bush is what is required to be a follower of the radical right. But, the religious right should try hard to remember that one should put faith in the Lord, not George W Bush. After all, no human can be perfect and this human is far from it.


Dr. Forbush Thinks - Patriotic Bravery - Podcast

Bravery is about putting everything on the line. In a battle soldiers put their lives on the line. In politics politicians put their political lives on the line. And, at home the everyday person puts their credibility on the line. It takes Bravery to stand up for what you know is right when those around you follow the leader blindly.

Editorial Opinion: (click here to download the mp3 file) Patriotic Bravery

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Friday, August 12, 2005

Michael Stanley Band

If you are from Cleveland, or grew up in the Cleveland during the late seventies or early eighties you already know who these guys are. But, the rest of the country missed out this truly Cleveland phenomena. In my opinion, these guys played Rock-n-Roll in the Bruce Springsteen working class tradition. They wrote songs about things that the average Clevelander cared about.

Well, on February 17, 1982 the Michael Stanley Band played the Cleveland Agora Ballroom at 10:00 AM, for a radio concert. This was a WMMS tradition during those days. Cleveland artists like MSB, Alex Beven and others played on the radio to a free concert at the Agora.

Way back when I actually taped this concert. Today I wish I had taped other concerts as well, but that is not the case. The tape floated around for years; I listened to it from time to time. I actually converted it two mp3 files a couple of years ago. I burned the mp3 files to a couple of CDs. And, now I am posting the files to the internet.

The problem with posting the files to the Internet has always been the size of the files. Since each file is about 30 minutes long, the files are about 30 Mbytes each. Most file sharing and e-mail accounts couldn’t handle the file size. But, today I discovered MegaUpLoad which claims to be able to handle 250 Mbyte files.

Although these are not podcasts they are audio files that you need to get through the server. Click on the link below and follow the download instructions. They will remain on the server until no-one download them for more than a month…

The links are no longer valid, but if you are interested in these mp3s send me an e-mail and I'll see what I can do.

Coffee Break Concert part 1
Coffee Break Concert part 2

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Compassion is defined as deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. A leader with power and control of the government can actualize a wish. So, what should we make of a leader who says that he has compassion but isn’t willing to act on it?

Bill Clinton told us that he felt our pain. However, since the Republican congress prevented Bill Clinton from actualizing his wish to relieve our pain. He tried! For example he tried to relieve the growing problems with the US health care system. He was stopped dead in his tracks with fear mongering that spread tails of people dying while they waited for a doctor to see them. He did manage to restructure the welfare system because the Republicans had been crying out for reform and Bill was able to create a feasible plan - the third way.

George W Bush on the other hand shouted out during the 2000 election that he was the compassionate conservative. And, five years later we are waiting for him to do something compassionate. George W Bush isn’t hampered by a divided congress, he can do anything compassionate that he can think of. Democrats are waiting to support something compassionate, because Democrats are the true party of compassion.

It looks like George W Bush can’t even do simple compassionate things, because he doesn’t feel anyone’s pain. For example, he doesn’t feel the pain of the mother of Casey Sheehan. Casey Sheehan served in Iraq and was killed on his fifth day in Iraq. George W Bush has made the statement that the solders that died in Iraq died for a noble cause. Is this feeling compassion? He is using the death of this young man to tell us how Iraq is a noble cause, when there is no evidence to support this claim. How can a preemptive war on a country that kills 25,000 civilians be a noble cause? This is eight times the number of civilians killed in the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. George W Bush has never explained just how this war is noble. Maybe it is noble because of the Oil money that will eventually flow into the prince’s coffers when all is said and done.

Of course the compassionate conservative proclamation never made it out of the starting gate during the 2004 election campaign. This is because people would begin to ask what George W Bush actually did that was compassionate. Perhaps his compassionate tax cut for the wealthy is what he thought that he did. But, it doesn’t make any sense to put those questions into people’s heads. It would just remind people of one more lie that he told to get himself into the White House.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Fixing the Lies

The idea behind freedom of speech is that people voice their opinions and the battle of opinions brings forth the best opinions. This strategy falls apart when you consider the fast pace of media and the rampant use of lies.

When the United States of America was founded news traveled slowly and the pace of life was much slower. On one day you might hear a story about a horse thief and on the next day you might hear the correction. The town criers and newspapers brought the news and they brought the corrections as well. I am not saying that problems didn’t exist, but time was needed for the truth to come out slowly.

Today we get our news from many sources, which could be very good. More opinions lead to a more diverse point of view. Of course that assumes that listen to many sources of news. For most people time is not available to listen to the various sources of information and determine who is lying and who is telling the truth. When a lie is discovered does the media get out there and fix the mistake? Most of the time mistakes are corrected by ignoring the lie or placing a correction on page 2 of the newspaper next to the masthead. What’s a masthead? If you don’t know where to look for the masthead and the corrections how can the corrections even be made?

The media doesn’t like to admit that they are wrong. When they make mistakes they make a little note of it and they go on. So, if they announce a breaking story with six inch headlines and they announce the correction with six point type the how many people from the first group are going to see the correction?

Since politicians, talk radio personalities and bloggers now understand this they go about spread lies at high speed and they don’t worry about the corrections or the truth. A very good example of this is documented in a piece written by “Media Matters for America” which is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center. They go out and expose the lies that the radical right is spreading throughout the media.

Matt Drudge on his web page - “The Drudge Report”, spread one such lie. Drudge spread the lie that Cindy Sheehan had changed her story from the first time that she met with the president until her current confrontation in Crawford, Texas. Media Matters for America has done an excellent job documenting Matt Drudge’s lie and how it propagated through the media. Unfortunately the lie continues to spread through the media and conservative bloggers continue to propagate the lies even though the truth is known. To make matters worse, Fox News the bastion of the radical right jumped on the story and broadcast it to millions of people. Even with the known correction, how many people are even going to hear about it?

So, today over at the Drudge Report there is a new Cindy Sheehan story. Is it a correction of the lie that began right there? No, it is a Drudge exclusive story about an e-mail he read from someone who he claims is the aunt of Cindy Sheehan. Based on he recent propagation of lies we would expect this to be the same, more lies. Of course we can’t prove that, because Drudge is the only source. In the old days, a reporter would lose credibility from publishing a lie. But, today credibility doesn’t matter.

Now, based on recent news stories, do you know who sent Joe Wilson to Niger? Make sure that you read the corrected version of the story.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What Do You Think?

In an earlier post I asserted that the Pope had declared that the Iraq War was unjust. After all, the Catholic Church created the concept of Just War Theory, which I have pointed out in application to the Iraq War. Since I post my blog in three different places I get comments on some posts that don’t show up on other posts. So, a self proclaimed Catholic asked me to show where the Pope had made this statement.

Fair enough I thought, so I went back and gave him some links to Catholic publications that described the Pope’s outrage during the run-up to the war. In his obituary there were statements of how the Pope stood up to the US against the Iraq War. But, there wasn’t one statement where the Pope makes the exact words, “The Iraq War is Unjust.” However, from many publications it is quite clear that he felt that way. If he supported the Iraq War or changed his mind it certainly wasn’t published anywhere.

So, it comes down to two facts.

1) The Catholic Church provides a complete description of what a Just War is, and anything that does not meet the prescription for a Just War is an Unjust War by definition. I have given the simplified list of these requirements in a previous post.

2) The Pope made several statements on how the US lead War in Iraq could not meet several of the prerequisites for a Just War. For example, he said in reference to the Iraq War, "War cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions."

This sets up the following logic argument. If the Catholic Church, which the Pope is the well-informed leader of has created a standard for a Just War, and the Pope publicly makes several statements that the US did not meet the prerequisites for Just War then, should he be able to assume that the Pope, in reference to the Iraq War, said that the war was unjust. In fact, the American Bishops have actually accepted this view in a statement on the Iraq War.

Literalists may conclude that the exact words were not uttered. However, what does that buy? It buys some comfort for supporters of the War that since one didn’t hear the utterance of the words then the sin of Unjust War may not have occurred might not be true. But, that would be similar to the argument that a person would plead to a judge, “I didn’t know theft was against the law, because I didn’t read the law.” Ignorance is no excuse in a modern society. It wasn’t even a valid claim in ancient times.

For example, one could construct a ridiculous argument that the Bible has no validity in the English speaking world. Since the English translation requires the acceptance of some translation from the original language into English. One could easily claim that Jesus never said “Love your neighbor,” “Turn the other cheek” or many of the other Bible verses that conservatives tend to ignore because Jesus never spoke English. In fact the language never existed anywhere on the planet during Jesus’ time. This is the same argument that the conservative supporters of the Iraq War continue to claim.


More Culture

Things get quite confusing when we talk about race and culture. Race is your genetics. Culture is your behaviour, ideals and things that your family and friends teach you from the time you were born. Both are inherited from your family. However only culture can be changed.

People are protective of their culture as well as their racial identity. That means that people can go out and recognize another member of their culture by the way that they behave. Similarly people can go out and recognize members of other cultures based on the way they behave as well.

We can think of non-racial cultures like: scientists, politicians, lawyers, doctors, working class folks, wealthy folk etc. We also often think about racially based cultures like Irish, French, Japanese, and Indian (both Native American and Asian). The difference here is that one can recognize some racially based cultures by the way they look.

Just like saying a person with a shamrock on the bumper of their car a visual cue tells you what cultural behaviour you may expect when you talk to the people who own the car.

Now, imagine a culture of poor people. There are certain ways that poor people behave because of the way they were brought up. Manners may not have been taught, because both parents may have been working two jobs each just trying to put food on the table. The idea of rudeness may not be the same as for a person who attended finishing school. Since the parents may not have been around then the kids may have been left to fend for themselves in whatever way they could. The kids may have been raised without adult supervision to a great degree and kids could have been mean to each other. In fact, parents may have even taught self-defense strategies that aren’t the same as the kids raised in the suburbs. The dads may have taught the sons to hit the other guy before he hits you. The moms might have taught the girls to be quick with their tongue before the enemy has time to attack. These are cultural values, not racial values.

Our society uses the same strategy to identify cultures by visual cues, like knowing a guy is Italian because of the Italian flag T-shirt he is wearing. And, because of the cultural history of the African Americans many of them ended up living in poor neighborhoods and picking up rude and aggressive behaviour. Other poor kids growing up in poor neighborhoods also pick up these rude and aggressive behaviours as well. It is not a racial thing but a cultural thing.

The good news is that culture can change. The bad news is that culture needs to change from within the culture. People outside the culture can not force a culture to change. In other words, groups develop that cultures by accident and by tradition. Traditions become rooted in a culture and become passed down by generation to generation. Actively and consciously trying to change the problem aspects of a culture are the only way it can change. But there is hope. Look at the smoking habit that was part of American culture in the 1950s. Fifty years later many fewer people smoke, and those who do are now looked down on by society in general.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dr. Forbush Thinks - Freedom - Podcast

Is it true that if a nation is defined by its language, borders and culture, then the government has a duty to protect its language, borders and culture?

Editorial Opinion: (click here to download the mp3 file) Freedom

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Patriotic Bravery

When people hear the word bravery they often think of soldiers in combat. These men are brave because they put their lives on the line to do what they are ordered to do regardless of their personal opinions. If soldiers start to second guess their commander the organization of the unit would fall to pieces and no missions could be accomplished. That is the simple nature of the military and that is the way it needs to be.

Democracy is not a military operation. I have to agree that using military strategy in politics will certainly organize your team and make things run more smoothly. Military tactics in a political fight can help you win your point and perhaps even a major issue. But, democracy is about people and their opinions. The word democracy comes from the Greek word for people. The military on the other hand is organized in such a way that only the leaders have opinions and the followers need to trust that they know what they are doing.

So, when we think of bravery in a democracy we need to think about the actions that make the democracy work. Just like blind faith in the commander makes the military work, voicing an opinion makes a democracy work.

It is tempting to organize governments and political parties in a military fashion. This organization gives strength to the party or government. However, the more strength you give to the leadership the more power you take away from the people. Giving carte blanche to a leader requires blind faith and it also makes one feel as if they no longer need to be responsible. Surrendering your responsibility may feel like the easy thing to do, but it is the irresponsible thing to do.

This is what Thomas Jefferson meant when he said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

When one recognizes that the leader has strayed from the righteous path of serving our country that one person needs to raise his voice and let the people know what he thinks. He needs to be brave and voice his opinion to whomever he thinks will listen. The risk for this is high. If you are a member of the leader’s party you may be shunned by the other followers. Your political support could dry up and your constituents could turn their collective backs on you. If that one person is a member of the general public the brave thing to do is to shout out from the mountaintops and declare that the emperor has no clothes.

These people exist and they have shown their faces in our times. Only the bravest of the brave rise to the top and find the strength to do this shouting on what seems like deaf ears.

One of our brave patriotic heroes is Senator John McCain. When the leadership of the Republican party was pushing through judicial appointments that some found to radical in their ideology the Democrats found power in numbers to prevent these few radicals from being appointed. The Republican solution was to change the rules to prevent the Democrats from filibustering. The Democrats said they would not give unanimous consent to anything if they did this. This would mean that there would need to be a roll call vote on everything, which would slow the Senate to a crawl. Each group thought they were right and they weren’t going to give an inch, until Senator McCain and his group of moderates were able to organize and prevent the catastrophe from happening.

Another of our brave patriotic heroes was Senator George Voinovich who stood against his party by objecting to the nomination of John Bolton to the UN diplomat post. In this case Senator Voinovich put even more on the line than Senator McCain. And, John Bolton was still sent to the UN. But putting that voice out there is a lonely thing to do, but in a democracy it is the brave thing to do.

So, all Americans should look at Cindy Sheehan and her stand against the administration and the war in Iraq. Her son was kill last April for a war that she never believed in. When she met with Bush in a group of parents of dead American soldiers president Bush told her that he would not use the deaths of these soldiers to play politics. However, in Cindy’s mind the president has done just that. So, she has decided to get the attention of the president once again. She is camped out in a ditch some distance from Crawford, Texas where the president is on vacation. She is asking to meet with him, but George W Bush doesn’t have the time while he is on vacation to meet with her. So, she sits and waits at what she calls “Camp Casey” which she named after her son.

Now, some of the supporters of the War in Iraq would argue that they are the brave ones supporting the president through thick and thin. Supporting the policy as we begin to see that it doesn’t work in the hope that one day it will work. They may call this bravery. But, I call that loyalty. Some may argue that loyalty is very important. To this I say - a dog can be loyal, but it takes a human to be brave!