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Monday, March 27, 2006

Lefts and Rights and Neutrals

If you've noticed the links I have to the below right, you can easily gather that I'm a little left. For as long as I can remember, I've teetered around the area that prompts authority figures to assume I'm one of those punks who has problems with authority.

I once replied to a boss after he made such an accusation years ago that it's not the thought of authority alone that makes my spine curve. I truly will respect authority if I feel it deserves my respect, just as I would any co-worker or a new acquaintance.

But authority by itself doesn't gain my respect simply by rank. There are far too many people who have certain jobs or hold lofty offices when they clearly should not. Congratulations to them for capitalizing on their relevant public being easily fooled.

The first name that comes to mind is George W. Bush.

When you're the leader of a mostly free and powerful nation like ours, especially in our current world climate, it is your No. 1 job to ensure the security of its people. That ours is threatened every day means critical information is often left out of White House press conferences.

Smart Americans accept that, but they're also the ones who feel qualified to question the manner in which the administration goes about trying to provide that security. They're also the ones who understand it's their DUTY as participants in our democracy -- albeit an illusionary one -- to keep the house cats honest.

But it's hard to do these days because the current administration is the first in my lifetime to turn the occasional occurrence of a "that's classified" approach into a downright tedious habit. And as the technological age continues to take hold, more of the presidency is televised and livestreamed. More journalists are asking more, different, better, harder and necessary questions. So the purpose of the Scott McLellans of the world is no longer to shed light for the Helen Thomases, but rather to keep her and her colleagues in the dark. I guarantee you there will come a day when an administration will think of a way to make money by convincing Americans that 2+2 really does equal 5. Sounds unfathomable, eh? Well, wouldn't you have said that just a year ago about the possibility of an Arab company guarding U.S. ports?

Spin? Hell, it's more like a double-loop with a side of corkscrew.

Spin has become not only an overly used term, but an all-too-commonly used political practice in places where honesty sometimes used to reside. And staring down the homestretch of W's farce of a run, it amazes me that this short-sighted public genuinely feels like there are areas where we're better off. Take a step back from your usual rant, and this one too, and tell yourself this fact -- millions of Americans think we're a stronger nation now than we were seven years ago.

I can't believe I just typed that, but after watching "You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train," the documentary about author/historian/war vet/aging hellraiser Howard Zinn, it's hard not to end my nearly three-week absence here and give myself a kick in the ass to make a difference.

So check back on Tuesday.


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