Sunday, October 24, 2010

Complex Issues Demand More than Outrage and Dogma; Mid-Term Elections Should be a Call To Reason

The serious, even dire, consequences of allowing passion to be the deciding factor in today's mid-term elections cannot be under estimated. The time for political posturing, outrage and dogma are over. We get it. The average citizen is Angry. So what are these angry citizens gonna do about it? Unfortunately so far, these initially well-intentioned groups have been so blinded by their anger, they have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the very forces who caused the problems. For months now I have just shaken my head, first in amusement, and later in utter disbelief, as I have watched Republican party leaders desperately groping for an issue in an attempt to distract the public's attention away from their failed policies which caused the deepest recession since the Great Depression. As usual, the Republican pr machine used their well-worn playbook of thinly veiled racism (e.g. Obama not born in America), religion (e.g. Obama's a Muslim) and their old standard, appeals to false patriotism, to distract.

The complex problems facing our nation call for the very best and brightest minds using the best scientific approaches to decision making, free of emotion and partisanship, to come up with the best possible human solutions (not perfect ones or ideologically pure rhetoric) if we are to survive and leave our children any semblance of the country we inherited from the "Greatest Generation".
So just how did our parent's generation not only survive, but prevail over the Great Depression and in World War II? They realized that serious times called for serious analysis using the best data and knowledge across all sectors of industry, fields of science and academia that this great nation had to offer. But just as important as getting the best information and bringing to bear the best knowledge, is using a decision making framework and process that will hopefully filter out all the imperfections of human nature to arrive at the best possible decisions.

Fortunately we have such a framework and process, its called the scientific method and it has served us well in the past whenever we have been faced with life and death issues. Notice that I did not describe our political system, which is the very institution that we have assigned the task of decision making to. Don't get me wrong, I am not knocking democracy. As Americans we are rightly proud and even a little smug, over the system of government we inherited from the country's founding fathers. As every American should have learned in grade school, the genius and overriding principal on which our democracy and system of government was based, was a system of checks and balances to be zealously pursued and defended among three co-equal branches of government. Coupled with a detailed list or bill of individual rights, including, importantly, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in a perfect and logical world, an informed citizenry, through their elected representatives, would engage in a robust intellectual battle for truth in the marketplace of ideas. The end result of which would hopefully be enlightened decision making giving enough sense of participation to allow for an uninterrupted string of arguably democratic elections and non-violent transfers of government for more than 230 years.

The dilemma we are in today comes as a result of our own success and progress. The catch-22 of modernity is that history, like science is based upon trial and error. In an ever increasingly complex world, comes a correspondingly set of complex, inter-connected problems. The very nature of complex systems is that with so many variables, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand and predict with certainty exact causes and effects of problems and potential problems. some of which we don't understand.

Much more troubling and perhaps catastrophically dangerous, are the complex problems which science can at least identify, even if science has not yet progressed to the point where it has worked out every last detail and a perfect or complete solution to the problem. But such is the human condition, as a species we will never be omniscient.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Birth ...And Death of a Gopher Nation

As I stated in my post following the Gopher-USC fiasco, there is no love lost between Coach Brewster and I. Call me clairvoyant, a football savant or what have you, I just have a knack for spotting an idiot and I saw this bubba coming lit up in Las Vegas Neon. My only regret is the idiot who hired him, Joe Maturi, is not making the elephant walk with him.

Here is an editorial cartoon I submitted to my alma matter's student newwspaper, the Minnesota Daily, the largest daily circulation college newspaper, back in December 2007 at the close of Brewster's first season as Gopher coach. Needless to say the Daily did not print my cartoon...but guess who gets the last word! Word to Maturi: You're Next!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Newt Interview: Failure to Hold Accountable the Ones Doing the Counting

Letter to the Editor
At Issue
KSTP Television


I respect the host's, Tom Hauser's, proclivity to be polite when conducting interviews. But while no one likes an obnoxious interviewer, I do think it would have added some balance to the show had Mr. Hauser had the intellectual curiosity and courage to ask Mr. Gingrich the question (as he was extolling the virtues of the Clinton Administration and his role as a negotiating partner in its undeniable economic success): "Then why was it Mr. Gingrich, that during the same period that you and your fellow Republicans were bringing the government to a near halt in an attempt to impeach the President for an offense that any constitutional lawyer or scholar could tell you did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense (i.e high crimes and misdemeanor), you yourself was engaged in an extra-marital affair?"

Hmm...I wonder why Gingrich has not thrown his hat into the presidential election 2012 ring yet? But even more unbelievable than Mr. Gingrich's hypocritical hubris is the notion that if the 2010 roster of Republican and Tea Party candidates were to take control of Congress that they would be reasonable and/or rational partners let alone even be receptive to negotiating at all with the current Administration is to forget all short term political and economic memory.

I do appreciate your adding a couple of new faces to the show rather than the same old retreads who add little or nothing to the issue or analysis. I would much prefer it, however, if you would bring on your show respected, neutral and objective economists, scientists and scholars, including our elders in their respective fields (and for Chrissakes I do not mean Wendell Anderson, give him a rest!). This would be much more interesting and informative than another ad nausea round of Amber and Dave "the no tax guy".