Knowing In Part 

 A collection 

of differing political viewpoints

 that revolve around the

 geographic and political

center of America.


Benton Rogers

Samuel Morton

Sidney Collins

Andrew Jones

Thursday, September 30, 2004
John Stewart and I Agree
I am listening to John Stewart being interviewed on the NPR program "Fresh Air" about The Daily Show being ranked 4th in political reporting. If you missed it, you should find a transcript and read it for yourself. Very stimulating.

Two big points:

#1 The media has a roll to play that it is not. During Rathergate, we saw many individuals expressing outrage at the lack of journalistic homework by the CBS team. That Dan Rather et al. did not use due diligence on the memos could be seen as a partisan hack phenomenon. But, really, there is more to it. The MSM is absolutely bereft of insight and craft.

John Stewart really hit the nail on the head. The program ran a clip where he went after a Republican senator (or former senator, I forget) who made a blanket statement that THEY ranked Sen. Kerry as the most liberal senator currently in Congress. John Stewart relentlessly went back to the point of who is "they". The senator kept being evasive. The commentator asked Mr. Stewart if he was doing the job of the media. His response "I am doing the job that the media should be doing."

The media is not asking the fundamental questions that need to be asked. Who is "they"? When did "they" say it? What have "they" also said? Why did "they" say it? Can WE trust "THEY"?

Read the transcript if you can find it. He has more on the role of the anchor person that is well worthy reading.

#2 The debates. When asked about the debates tonight, John Stewart gave the critical message to all involved. Get the candidates off their scripted, prepared, rehearsed, theatrical positions and get them to talk frankly about the issues. Address any gaps or blanket statements. If a candidate makes a statement based on assumptions, reveal those assumptions and have the candidate address the points immediately.

I fear the debates will not change the trajectory of the election. I am questioning if we should have debates. Is the term "debate" still relevant to what the event that will be held? It is an open question in my mind.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Put him in a cell with Charles Manson
John Walker Lindh's lawyer has appealed to have his sentence reduced. Read the whole article here. In a plea deal, he received a sentence of 20 years.

I have sympathy for his parents. They have lost their child. Yet, they are still in denial. I, along with the rest of the nation, knew they were in denial during the episode. What strikes me is that his parents still have not come to grips with what he was doing.

His lawyer is doing what lawyers are paid to do. Nothing really shameful about the effort. It is our judicial system.

I, probably along many others, hold faith that his sentence will NOT be reduced. I would prefer he had to share a cell with Charles Manson. I am trying not to be vengeful, but I am not certain he will ever realize the magnitude of his offence against the people of Afghanistan and the rest of the world. Hell, we treat prisoners in the US with more compassion than the Taliban did citizens of Afghanistan.

I sometimes close letters that register a complaint with the phrase "rot in hell". However, my wife reminds me (as she should) that my faith is based on forgiveness that I did not earn and do not deserve. I cannot say rot in hell. Forgiveness is my act of faith. I must forgive John Walker Lindh. However, I believe he should be kept in prison for the safety of the other humans in the world for the next 20 years. I pray he can start over then and make amends for his deeds.
The DVD's are here
When I came home on Tuesday, my loving wife surprised me with the DVD's for Star Wars. You should read the hilarious observations of James Lileks. I agree with most of what he has to say on the matter. I have been a fan of the widescreen format and was happy that the DVD's were released in that format.

I look forward to the release of Episode III. My friend since the 5th grade, Nick, will come to Knoxville to see the release. It is our tradition. My wife was 8 months pregnant for the release of Episode II, so I flew to Jackson, MS to see it with him while she stayed at home.

There is much to the criticism, but there is something else to be said. When the Imperial Stormtroopers blew open the door to the rebel blockade runner, it blew the audience back in their seats and kept them there for the next two hours. I have trouble describing the feeling that Star Wars gave me. There has been nothing like it. It was simply awe-inspiring. Special effects since have benefited from true innovation and technical refinement. But nothing made the evolutionary jump like Star Wars in 1977.

Yes, the X-wings trench-run strategy is silly in hindsight. But as a 8-year-old boy, I was simply blown away.
Cheer up, Ye Democrats
My coblogger, Sam, is a good man. He served as president of the Graduate Student Senate at the University of Tennessee the same year I served as vice-president. We were a good team because we balanced each other's presence and shared a view of progress. Our year of service was one of completing big tasks and revising old procedures. It was quite a thankless experience. Yet, looking back, we quietly fixed things, made key moves with no publicity, and left the GSS in a much better position than we found it.

Sam is also married to a lovely wife, is one of the most intelligent minds I know, has a wonderful job, and has recently finished his Ph.D. He has much to be happy about and revel in.

If you read his two posts below, you might think that he has lost his mind or slipped into a manic depressive state. For those of you planning an intervention, I would say "hold up until after the election." Sam (I am boldly speaking on his behalf and waaaaaay outside of my expertise) is suffering from a mild case of My Party Nominated The Worst Candidate Possible And I Don't Want To Play Anymore. I suggest you read Christopher Hitchens article on the demise of traditional Democratic sensibility.

Sam is a middle-of-the-road Democrat and I am a middle-of-the-road Republican. On most matters of importance, we agree or can explain our position to the point that the other is comfortable. I miss our burger day exchanges at the Copper Cellar. It was sometimes unpleasant for our guests because Sam and I could go no-holds-barred. But then, we would move to a quieter subject and depart as friends. Sam is not a liberal and I am not a neocon, fundamentalists, or whatever stands for the intolerant segment of the right.

The problem for Sam and many Democrats this year is the same problem many Republicans HAD until the attacks of September 11, 2001. Many, me for certain, were disappointed that Sen. John McCain did not receive the nomination. Clearly, in my mind, he would have been the better choice. But that is wishful thinking. It did not happen. The Republican party, against my wishes, nominated Gov. Bush. So be it. The first 8 months of his presidency was marked by little of historical significance. The crisis with the Chinese government holding our Navy air crew in April, 2001 was a turning point. It was at that point that I began noticing that the President and his team were competent, in charge, and handling matters in a manner I liked. I did not like the domestic spending, was dismayed by the growth of government, and was hoping for a McCain influence in the Bush administration. But, September 11th adjusted my priorities. I still am not happy with domestic policies, but I CAN LIVE WITH THAT. There are regions of the world breeding hate. They want me dead. I have full faith in the President to keep me as safe as possible.

Sam and like-minded Democrats are unhappy because the Iowa caucus gave their party the fourth or fifth candidate on the depth chart. Gephardt and Lieberman both had broad appeal, support the conduct of the war, and could have swung me on domestic issues. Edwards is a wild card. He is carrying the water bucket for the Kerry campaign and I have had no chance to hear him speak his mind. Sam's wife liked him and I trust her instincts. That would leave Sen. Kerry as arguably the fourth nominee (there were 9 in the race???). But Kerry is the nominee of the Democratic Party. That ship has sailed. The problem for Democrats now is the same problem for Republicans in 2000. Should I vote my party or my conscience?

In 2000, George Bush was too cozy with business interests and not an accomplished speaker. But he was in my mind a hell of a lot better choice than Vice-President Al Gore. In 2004, moderate Democrats (hell, anyone with half a mind) must ask themselves if they would prefer to work with the known entity of President Bush or jump into bed with a man who has run the most destructive campaign for a political party in mortal history.

Once the election is over, Sam and other sane Democrats will start picking up the pieces of the party. They will look in the mirror and see what Zell Miller has been ranting about. The will ask themselves why Nancy Pelosi was elected minority leader and why not Harold Ford, Jr. They will ask themselves why they staked their fortunes to a candidate who once appeared "most electable" but who turned out to be the worst of all imaginable outcomes. They will ask themselves why their party's platform moved to a point that bad news for the US was good news for the Democratic Party. They will have Pelosi step down. They will move Sen. Kerry to a desolate island. They will hammer the President on domestic issues. They will support the war. They will try to forget 2004.

Sam will perk up. We will feed him some good barbecue, talk about Vol football, get angry about something and laugh about it.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Not a Happy Day in Lake Wobegon
Somehow (forgot which blog it was on) I found a link to an article by Garrison Keillor of the Prairie Home Companion. I would not like to be on the receiving end of his displeasure after seeing this article.

Now some will say that he goes overboard and adds nothing to the debate, however I think that statement is flawed. There is no debate. The more I think about it, the more I read, the more disillusioned I become. Neither side has the gumption to really talk about issues. Watch what Congress has been doing. Watch the local governments. I am sick and tired of it. I also know that there is nothing that I can do. Once I thought that my opinion mattered, that what I believed could be debated and discussed. I hoped that from this discussion my view would grow (notice I did not say change). I give up.


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