Saturday, March 31, 2007

God Doesn't Read Polls

Newsweek-March 30, 2007 - A belief in God and an identification with an organized religion are widespread throughout the country, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. Nine in 10 (91 percent) of American adults say they believe in God and almost as many (87 percent) say they identify with a specific religion. Christians far outnumber members of any other faith in the country, with 82 percent of the poll’s respondents identifying themselves as such. Another 5 percent say they follow a non-Christian faith, such as Judaism or Islam. Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.

" (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact..." -- None that I've ever met! Half reject Darwin's theory? Didn't they ever see Inherit the Wind? Who doesn't believe Spencer Tracy?

Immediately two things come to mind:

1. The people cited in the above poll are eligible to vote.

2. God isn't concerned with who believes in his existence or not. That one-tenth who don't believe in him can sleep easier knowing this.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dickey Interviews Saud al-Faisal

It's one thing to ask talking-head questions on the Today Show, like Matt Lauer's so-called interviews over the morning coffee with world leaders about what they wear to the big meetings. It's another thing to have an expert confront head-to-head with a real lead actor in critical events, and get the drip of an insight into the core of what's happening.

The truth behind what Saud al-Faisal told Newsweek's Christopher Dickey lies more between the lines--in the dodges and half-answers--than in what was really spoken. Dickey is the pre-eminent journalist authority on the Middle East, terrorism, and the people behind the issues rocking the world from that area. Al-Faisal is the Saudi foriegn minister, who speaks for the ruling clan of the oil-rich nation, led by King Abdullah.

When you check out Dickey's interview, remember to thing what you would have expected for an answer, and then see what the Saudi rep actually says.

For instance:

Dickey: Israelis expressed disappointment about other aspects of the Mecca agreement. There was hope, for instance, that Saudi Arabia would use its leverage to win the freedom of an Israeli soldier held in Gaza since last summer.

al-Faisal: We didn’t talk about that.

Dickey: You didn’t talk about that at all?

al-Faisal: At all. It is not our concern. It was something that the Egyptians were talking to [the Palestinians] about and we didn’t want to trip over each others’ feet talking about the same thing. That was something that was never part of the negotiations.

Oh and get over worrying about the price of oil, and gassing up your SUV in the next little while--

Dickey: It’s been said that Saudi Arabia may force oil prices down to punish Iran.

al-Faisal: They’re not going to be brought down.

Dickey: No?

al-Faisal: No. People need oil.

I, for one, am reassured. Inconsistency makes me nervous.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hope and Inspiration -- John & Elizabeth

Normally I'd like to post a nice detailed discussion of the candidates, their issues, and back grounds, and look at that history against the latest breaking news. But the simple fact is that Elizabeth Edwards has cancer, and her husband, John, wanted to explain in the most clear terms what this means to his campaign for the US presidency.

There are many people I have seen throughout the years who exemplify grace under pressure--that complex element of tragic literature that we all had to study to understand Shakespeare, the Bible, and ultimately, humanity. And there are many more people I have seen in abject circumstances, or even just standing in a long line at the market, who haven't got a clue of what any of this means.

I was depressed, and simultaneously uplifted, by the message from the Edwards couple today. The message is simple--life deals out good stuff and not good stuff. We're all mortal, so the meat of the matter is how we deal with the good and the not so good. The Edwards' have had their share--cancer, a son's death--and yet they come to us all in coherence and, for want a better word, class--and tell us they are hopeful, positive, and not going to stop what they're doing to go off in a corner and feel bad about themselves.

Yes John Edwards is a multimillionaire. Yes the Edwards' have the means to get the best health care possible. So what? When you're dead, as Kurt Vonnegut once wrote in essence of our mortality, you're dead. And ironically, Edwards is on the crusade to seriously work on reforming the stagnant health-care system of this great country of ours.

The point is this: I heard an articulate man, who has the competency to be President of the United States, explain a situation to his potential constituents. And I remembered the speech from the nitwit who has that job, from a couple of nights ago. And I was again embarrassed for humanity, and for myself, and for Americans, because somehow, despite the genius monument of our great Constitution, we have allowed the likes of George W Bush and Cheney and the whole bunch to take charge, when there are people available like John and Elizabeth Edwards, and more, who so obviously would serve us better.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CIA? I Thought it was Mafia!

JFK assassination conspiracy theories aside, it was fun to read about the latest E. Howard Hunt speculation in today's Los Angeles Times. Aside from a couple of talking heads on a recent History Channel documentary debunking the conspiracy theories, who doesn't believe someone besides Oswald, or instead of him, fired the fatal shots into Kennedy?

Now just WHO shot those shots, that's another question. I have been led to believe over the past 35 years, since I got started with an interest into the event, that there was a hazy cross-over between the CIA and the mob, specifically Sam Giancanna's group, who were getting revenge for several issues. The CIA was pissed because Kennedy let Hunt's team hang out with no promised air-cover at the failed attempt to invade Castro's Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. And the Mafia, who came through for Papa Joe and engineered the ballots in favor of Kennedy over Nixon in Chicago in order to get the coveted Illinois electoral votes--they didn't like the young Attorney General, Bobby Kennedy, putting them on the hot seat in a ploy to clean up organized crime.

So they arranged, hand-in-hand, to murder the upstart who wouldn't follow orders, President Kennedy. That's what I thought. I don't care about the details, it is sufficient to me that so much documentary material is still being kept from public scrutiny that there must be something to hide, which after 44 years must have little to do with national security, and more to do with certain knowledgeable survivors.

Granted, that Johnson might have been a ringleader is a notion difficult to grasp, despite his dislike of Kennedy, how do you really keep that kind of involvement secret? According to the Hunt children who are trying to peddle his memoirs, that's exactly what was up back in November, 1963.

"The story, which he planned to detail in a memoir and could be worth big money — was that rogue CIA agents plotted to kill President Kennedy in 1963, and that they approached Hunt to join the plot but he declined."

The story goes on to quote one of Hunt's sons:

"He told me in no uncertain terms about a plot originating in Miami, to take place in Miami," said St. John. He said his father identified key players and speculated that then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for moving the venue to Dallas, where the Texan could control the security scene."

Some people think Nixon knew about the plot too, but kinda sorta turned away without interfering. Conspiracy buffs always point out that Nixon was in Dallas on November 23, 1963. No matter what stance one takes regarding the Kennedy conspiracy theories, some of the late-breaking stories are fascinating in themselves, and this one about Hunt is no different. I mean, he really was a spy--wouldn't it be interesting to know what he knew?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Foreign Correspondent 21st Century

In this day and age of high-tech communication, of satellite phones, and instant feeds from the center of a war zone, the exploits of a foreign correspondent are a far cry from the days of Randolph Scott and Hitchcock's film of the same name.

Picture my good friend, Christopher Dickey, running through the forests of Nicaragua some twenty years ago, chased until the point of almost being killed in the cross fire between the forces of less-than-evil, and not-so-good, in order to get the story, write the book, and better inform us who think it's an adventure to dig behind the shelf in the supermarket for a later-dated gallon of milk.

Dickey, Newsweek's point man in Europe for Middle-East terrorism, French presidential politics, high-fallutin' eco-theory mongering at Davos, and possibly the one journalist in the world with more info on Diana's death than anyone, having actually been present almost immediately on scene that awful night, now boldly goes where no American in Paris has gone before.

His latest foray into the midst in this week's Newsweek is perhaps his most thought-provoking and in a way dangerous, yet--here's the headline:

"It would take a private detective to find Paris bureau chief Christopher Dickey’s truly favorite bistros, and you might not like them anyway. So we’ve asked him for his second favorite Parisian restaurants (which are still pretty darned good)."

If that concept doesn't make for intense controversy (in case you or I were going to venture to a Parisian eatery and took dear Chris's word to heart and wound up (YIKES) disappointed) -- then check out Dickey, who I consider
as the premier authority on international politics in Europe and the Middle East, as well as an intrepid representative of 4th estate America on the spot! --
Imagine the intensity, the introspection, the concentration, of this amazing Journalist!