"Itís a terribly hard job to spend a billion dollars and get your moneyís worth."
     -- George M. Humphrey, U.S. Treasury Secretary, February 23, 1954.
"According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."
    
-- Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Defense Secretary, September 10, 2001.

 

The Shadow Knows
Posted February 5, 2007 | Link

Now that the Scooter Libby trial is fully underway, the public is starting to get a clearer view of the lengths that Vice President Dick Cheney was willing to go to in order to protect his precious invasion of Iraq. In a softball piece this weekend, the Washington Post described the shadow that Cheney is casting over the entire proceeding by appearing to be the main conspirator behind the Valerie Plame Wilson exposure, as well as the only person in the White House, save maybe Karl Rove, who actually took a conscious, coherent course of action.

The problem I have with this dull reporting, aside from its epic tardiness, is its extreme naÔvetť (whether intended or unintentional) regarding President Bushís so-called acceptance of Cheneyís role. The ongoing assumption in these pieces, laughable as it may be, is that Cheney is some sort of rogue advisor to our cocksure president, and that Bush must be either steaming mad or blissfully unaware of just how far his veep has stepped over the line. Although this fantastical reasoning might appeal to the ten percent of the population that still supports the notion that Bush is capable of anything other than making bad jokes over a couple or twelve beers at a Rangers game, it certainly doesn't play in Peoria.

First of all, consider the American presidents that we have had since World War II. To a man, each has been sized up and approved by the top one percent of the population who owns and runs this country, both before and during their tenures. Kennedy, who effectively deviated from the script that he faithfully followed otherwise, was shown the door in dramatic fashion. Nixon was likewise ejected, but in a more pedestrian manner. Clinton, for the most part, played his part beautifully, but still managed to self-destruct on cue. Unfortunately, his poison pill didnít please the right side of the aisle, which managed to divert more than $100 million in taxpayer funds towards a sensational <cough> probe that introduced the term 'oral sex' to millions of young children on the evening news.

Enter George W. Bush. It is impossible to imagine Bush as either a civic-minded youth dreaming of the presidency as a child, or as a competent career politician winding up in the Oval Office after a lifetime of merit-based promotions up the political ladder. In fact, he was selected for the presidency, first by the one-percenters who appreciated his ability to play a rube that couldn't outsmart city folks, and second by a Supreme Court dominated by five people doing their God's work. However, like Ronald Reagan before him, Bush accepted the role of a lifetime and decided to run with it. Alas, he became confused before even taking his first step.

Luckily, there was Dick Cheney. Cheney, a lifelong political devotee of the privileged sector, had been rewarded for his efforts during the early 1990s by being made the CEO of a billion-dollar company, in spite of having approximately zero experience in corporate management. This was hardly a coincidence. As the former Secretary of Defense, Cheney had launched the outsourcing tidal wave that ultimately bestowed more than 2,700 contracts on Halliburton. It is not surprising then, that as CEO, Cheney was able to rake in millions of dollars that he claimed as 'compensation', but that average Americans would describe as 'bribery'. The vast majority of Cheney's current net worth, in the neighborhood of $100 million, was derived from just five years of stewardship at Halliburton. Perhaps, to him, this was more like back pay (payback?) for eleven unexciting years as a Wyoming congressman.

So, when the baffled Bush and the cunning Cheney hooked up in 2000, it was immediately clear who would play the role of father and who of son. Cheney was allowed (asked?) to pick the entire Cabinet, and then conveniently installed himself as the Vice President in charge of directing this same team. After the inauguration, Cheney also took the lead on foreign policy and energy matters, including the instigation of the infamous National Energy Policy Development Group before the end of January, 2001. The NEPDG, a secretive group that planned the Iraq War with the big oil boys 'just in case', was so important to Cheneyís game plan that he fought for its extralegal privacy, successfully, all the way to the Supreme Court.

Just in case other global citizens didn't care for our aggressive energy plans and decided to do something about it, Cheney was also put in charge of 'Domestic Preparedness Against Weapons of Mass Destruction'. Coincidence that, considering that Cheney also had a hand in creating the Project for a New American Century, the neoconservative (neofascist?) group that agitated for the war Bush and Cheney were elected to provide. I thought only the Cosa Nostra was able to sell both violence and protection from violence in the same sales pitch.

The Vice Presidentís domination over the Executive is so strong that even foreign dignitaries understand that getting quality time with America means talking to Cheney, more so than our petulant President. Our decider-in-chief cannot even go to the bathroom without consulting Cheney; the most appalling example being Bush's testimony before the 9/11 Commission. As you may recall, Bush, the man who promised to "uncover every detail" when forming the Commission (a commission that was, inexplicably and sadly, created more than a year after the crime) first refused to speak with them at all, but then finally succumbed to public pressure to do so after the following conditions were met:

  • He would only testify with Cheney,
  • Bush (and Cheney) would not take an oath before testifying,
  • Bush (and Cheneyís) testimony would not be recorded (electronically or otherwise) and that any notes taken would not be made public.

And so on, and so forth. Since day one, Cheney has been the de facto president, running the country on a political and tactical basis since the 2000 election, while Bush plays the point-man and takes the heat. There is much granularity to this statement, as Cheney certainly has help from friends at Defense and State, as well as Rove and various loyal staffers at the White House. It may also be that part of Bush's apparent frustrations have to do with his cognitive dissonance over Cheney's virtual power-hold on all matters of importance. Nonetheless, Bush seems to understand his role and the vital part he plays in facilitating Cheney's actions. In truth, Bush's eminent annoyances probably stem more from the fact that the rest of the country isn't reading from the same libretto.

So, where will the Libby trial head now? Will Cheney be found out and dutifully impeached like any other politician would be in a country that practiced democracy or had a backbone? The first answer is easy. Libby will either be found innocent on a technicality (or an appeal; same thing really), or convicted and then later pardoned. The pardoning angle is more likely, since the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and Bush Lite's administration already has several pardonees from his father's crooked capers.

The latter question is equally easy. No impeachments will occur and Cheney will exit the corporate <cough> political stage in 2008. He will live out the remainder of his years with a bad ticker and a $100 million nest egg, minus the millions that he will bequeath to his ideological brothers (a.k.a., tax shelters). In the end, Americans will continue having a hard time deciding whether Cheney was the true culprit behind Bush's shenanigans or just another capo in a larger organization. In many ways, it doesn't really matter. After all, who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?


Some Advice to Democrats (and the Country)
Posted April 24, 2006 | Link

Five months ago, I provided some advice for Republicans, urging them to take the high road and fix the mess that they've created over the past five years. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort has happened. Nobody important has been fired (unless you count the timely resignations of Scott McClellan, Claude Allen, and Gale Norton) and no attempt at reform has been made. It's almost as if the game plan for Republicans was borrowed from the wily penguins in the movie Madagascar: "You didn't see anything."

Since we can't count on the majority party to fix their mess, it's about time we bring back an honored Washington tradition: gridlock! That's right, it's time for us to elect a Democratic majority in Congress this November so that our government can go back to the multi-party logjam that our forefathers envisioned. You can already see what just five years of the single-party approach has done: record debt, no more allies, organized political crime, withering liberties, rampant fundamentalism, and an economic plan guaranteed to return us to the Gilded Age while the bottom 99% feels like we're becoming a third-world country. No more!

All of this is easier said than done, of course. The Democrats, true to form, have spent the last year wondering what they did wrong in 2004 and developing a strategy for 2006 that is, well, I don't know what it is since even their public announcements fail to mention what it is, exactly. I do feel a certain empathy for them, of course, since they have been far too busy feeling pissed off that our decider-in-chief is still on the loose, inexplicably untouched by the impeachment that would have been a slam dunk if responsible people ran our Congress. Nevertheless, I will stand up and describe what they have to do.

For starters, drop all of the issues that aren't staring us in the face right now. Forget about environmental protection and gun control. These issues will all still be here once we fix things. And fix things we must. Otherwise, there won't be an America worth arguing about in 10 years. Here is what we must do today.

Education
The American system of education is pathetic. We spend billions upon billions, only to graduate 12th graders without any useful sense of history, economics, English, math, or even art. Over the next 12-24 months, gut the Department of Education by 90% ($54 billion) and use this money, directly, to fund 2,500 needy school districts (e.g., low test scores, high dropout rates, low teacher pay, etc.) across America by an average of $21.6 million. Put this money into salaries and equipment and tie future grants to performance. Unlike No Child Left Behind, the carrot would actually exist and the stick would, over time, be practically unnecessary.

Debt
Our country's economy can theoretically be short-circuited at any moment if the world starts using the Euro as the de facto currency or if the Asian banks stop buying US Treasury notes. Once either of these things happen, your worries about funding your child's college education will be secondary to how you're going to pay off a $300,000 mortgage at 15% when your house is now worth $225,000 (assuming you're still employed). What this really takes is fiscal responsibility and the Democrats happen to have a tiny bit more of this than Republicans. Remember, 70% of our $8 trillion debt was created by Republicans.

What the Democrats have to do is clean house. Trim the budget; demand a surplus at the end of each year; and invest in our future intelligently (e.g., education, infrastructure, etc., not defense). Practically every household in America has the ability to balance their budget; why can't our federal government, with hundreds of financial experts, come close? Every other country is a potential investor in America. Right now, they don't like what they see. Whether you care about their opinion or not is irrelevant. The truth is that we're going to have to clean up our act if we want to continue our basic standard of living.

Terror
Quick lesson on global terrorism: Iraq was never a threat to us, Iran will never be a threat to us, North Korea will never be a threat to us, etc. ad infinitum. The United States of America is far too strong to ever fall victim to a small group of radicals half a world away, regardless of whether we organized, trained, armed, and funded them or not. We've committed over $500 billion to fight a War on Terror that is poorly defined, unwinnable, and unaffordable. Did you know that we're essentially borrowing a billion dollars each day from China, Japan, and others just to fight in Iraq? Does that make sense to you? The play here is simple: phase out our involvement in Iraq in 12 months with the constant refrain that any further violent acts there will be at their own hands. Case opened, ruined, and closed.

BTW, in case you're still worried about future attacks, consider this: it takes more than a religious ideology to make a sane person strap explosives to their chest and detonate themselves at someone's wedding. This person clearly has nothing to live for. What the U.S. should be concerned with is not killing that person proactively, but helping to give that person something to live for. Are hydrocarbon-based resources so vital that we cannot simply pay countries like Afghanistan for the rights to build a pipeline through their country and then help them to spend this money on roads, schools, and markets? Instead, must we prop up dictators who treat women worse than animals and cultivate opium for our children to consume, just so we can save a few cents on a gallon of gas? I think not.

Taxes
I saved the best for last because this is the vehicle to pay for everything. Remember: our country grew like gangbusters when we used to tax the rich at a much higher marginal tax rate than we do now. Between 1945 and 1980, the top rate fluctuated between 70% and 94% and our country still averaged annual GDP growth of 3.1%. From 1981 to 2005, with the top rate cut almost in half (to between 28% and 50%), our country managed to grow its GDP by almost the same average: 3.2%. It's difficult to estimate how much revenue we could generate by creating a more progressive tax system, but it's fair to assume that we could probably increase overall tax revenue by as much as 2% of GDP (about $130 billion).

In addition, the share of taxes paid by corporations has dropped steadily since World War II. Removing corporate loopholes and insisting on their paying a fair share could increase federal income by at least $175 billion. Although the end game might include an even higher tax on business in order to remove the burden on individuals, the truth is that our crumbling pensions and income insurance plans have left us in the lurch, so to speak, when the boomers start retiring in droves next decade. We need to raise taxes now to head this off and avoid an even bigger hit in the 2010-2020 era when the problem will be an order of magnitude harder to solve. The good news is that we can afford to do this. A weighted, progressive increase of around 5% plus a roll-back of Bush's tragic tax cuts to the wealthy can result in a windfall of around $200-250 billion.

Altogether, this would potentially bring over a half-trillion dollars into the treasury. Wisely spent, the U.S. could fix its education problems and stop its ill-advised war on terrorism within a year or two and then address the budget and perhaps campaign finance reform or health insurance problems by the end of the decade. Then, we can worry about those environmental and gun control problems.


Some Advice to Republicans
Posted November 22, 2005 | Link

I feel sorry for you. I really do. In just the past few years, your party has increased the national debt by more than any president except Reagan ($1.6 trillion), sacrificed more of our military without an official declaration of war than any president since Nixon (2,096 at last count), suffered the first indictment of a White House official (I. Lewis Libby) in 130 years, and generated perhaps the highest number of simultaneous criminal investigations since the Civil War. While all of this sounds pretty bad, the worst is yet to come.

The worst you say? Yes, the worst. The debt youíve given us (Republicans have created more than 70% of our nationís debt) cannot be forever financed by selling treasury notes to Asian banks. Youíve also done nothing to address the massive Chinese trade imbalance except to encourage corporations to continue outsourcing there. Thereís also been an inexplicable resistance to putting together even a hint of a plan in Iraq. Donít you think itís more than just a little irresponsible to invade a sovereign country on false pretenses and put Americanís finest in harmís way without even the slightest hint of a game plan or an exit strategy? Too bad you just canít campaign your wait out of Baghdad, eh?

And then thereís the corruption. First, our country had to endure Clintonís extramarital shenanigans and the impeachment circus that followed. Now, after promising to restore ďtrust, pride, and respectĒ to Washington, we have to read almost daily about Abramoff, Libby, DeLay, Frist, Cunningham, and a long list of other crooks and cheats. Allow me to clue you in: Nixon (Watergate) proved that no one is above the law; Reagan (Iran-contra) proved that charisma alone canít cut it; and your partyís founding father, Abraham Lincoln (suspension of habeas corpus), proved that taking the law into your own hands tends to sour any chance of being a uniter.

Okay, so whatís the advice? Simple, clean house! Presumably, youíre all adults, right? Youíve been campaigning for years as the party of personal responsibility, so why not actually take some of your own medicine. Have a congressperson that isnít under investigation stand up on the floor of the House or Senate and actually demand accountability for whatís going on. Take the high road. Stand in the light. Be counted. First of all, whoever stands up is going to look pretty darn good to their constituents and whoever stands with them will shine too. Imagine the sense of pride that your fellow Republicans will feel when some of your own stand up and do whatís right rather than hide in their offices and take cheap shots through their spokespersons and the media. After all, who wants a coward representing them?

This wave of legitimacy shouldnít stop in the Congress of course. President Bush should stop his childish preening and posturing and fire Dick Cheney and Karl Rove now, before it gets any worse. Iím sure there are dedicated Republicans standing by somewhere to help Bush figure out where Asia is on the globe. Do we really need our country to continue setting records for White House indictments? Should our president be inspiring millions of people around the world to hold protests every time he visits? George W. Bush could realistically repair most of his reputation by simply doing whatís right for a change. I doubt that Cheney, who received only a 19% favorable rating on a recent CBS News poll, or Karl Rove, the master of disaster, will be missed.

Why not go even further and replace Cheney with John McCain? Bush certainly owes the man a favor after viciously smearing him in the 2000 primaries. Such a move might also dovetail nicely into the 2008 elections. If you donít like McCain, you could also nominate Condoleezza Rice for the vice presidency. Future history books might then recall your selection of the first African-American woman to help lead this country, perhaps forgetting about the CIA leak scandal and your frequent tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

While some Democrats might be enjoying the current mess that the Republicans are in, Iím not. Our country is suffering right now, both at home and abroad, and we need some of you Republicans to stand up and do whatís right regardless of how bad this might look in the short term. If you want to keep the status quo of ducking and covering, then donít come running to us in 2006 or 2008 pretending that youíre running on your values. Weíre smarter than that.


The Litmus Test
Posted November 5, 2005 | Link

It can be said that every issue has at least two sides. Although itís quite possible that each of these sides is valid, equating them to each other often requires a lot of logical manipulation. For example, can you easily justify murder or robbery without a lengthy and complex description of an innocently troubled person who might only exist in your imagination? Luckily, most issues can be resolved rather quickly, such as the terrible job President Bush is doing.

Donít take my word for it, simply listen to the thousands of protestors at every stop he makes around the world. Can all of these complaints, many from people who have better things to do with their lives than hang out in crowded places for hours on end, be attributable to simple envy of the United States? Of course not. If we were truly the democratic and economic leader of the free world, then people would be turning up to see our leaders and pay respect to them. Instead, we get thousands of Argentineans turning up to shout, ďFascist Bush! You are the terrorist!Ē

How did this happen? Well, some of it comes with the territory. The truth is that our foreign policy often emphasizes American economic interests over the rights and freedoms of the rest of the world. In some cases, our policies have changed with each administration, causing further chaos around the globe. Itís hard to be complaint-free when you run such a large economic empire with more than 250,000 troops stationed in over 140 different countries. How would we feel if China or Russia had troops permanently situated in lower Manhattan? Unfortunately, the Bush administration has hit even lower lows.

The main reason you havenít heard more about this is because of two reasons: the mainstream media has largely ignored or downplayed these complaints; and because Bushís public speeches are heavily sanitized to prevent critics from attending. The latter charge is the more insidious one, and itís a shame that itís so commonplace that it rarely gets reported any longer. The truth is that every single planned appearance by Bush includes a thorough screening of all guests to ensure that every one of them is a supporter, or at least not a Democrat. Sure, itís understandable for a president to present a positive image, but the Bush teamís paranoia is boldly Orwellian. Motorcade routes are scrubbed of protestors, signs of protest are not captured on film, and even people wearing inappropriate shirts are forcibly removed from auditoriums. If you thought that the First Amendment guaranteed free speech, you obviously donít know this president.

In other countries, where crowd control is either less possible or less important, Bush has faced more honest appraisals. Wherever he goes, thousands of protestors come out to rally against the War on Terror, his authoritarian policies, and the man himself. Ask yourself again, what is the motivation for thousands of people to take the day off of work and spend the day screaming at a foreign dignitary? Theyíre certainly not being paid for it; they are often going against their own governmentís political alliance with the U.S.; itís also not very likely that Bush owes them any money. It must be something moreósomething that we donít want to admit.

The truth is that George W. Bush, has let us down in many ways. Current opinion polls reflect this sentiment, even if the mainstream media has little stomach to report it. The CIA leak scandal that recently indicted Scooter Libby ranks higher on the public attention meter than any other scandal since Watergate. Likewise, Bushís popularity is the lowest of any president since Richard Nixon. Ironically, John Dean, who was Nixonís White House Counsel and one of the Watergate cover-up artists, wrote a book claiming that the Bush administration is more damagingóand more secretive about itóthan Nixonís was. Not a very good testimonial.

I miss the optimism that graced our country under the Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton eras. People started to think that anything was possibleóworld peace, reaching the moon, beating the Soviets, or even becoming rich. Now, the best we can hope for is that our country doesnít go broke, that we can drive our cars without having to wage land wars in Asia, and that we donít have to watch the executive branch of our government go on trial again. We can do better.


Clipped Wings
Posted October 25, 2005 | Link

Itís common knowledge that Republicans are more bullish on national defense than Democrats. After all, this is what the Republicans have been claiming ever since Reagan won the Cold War. Regardless of whether you accept this or not, you should know that this belief is based solely on a highly effective marketing campaign.

It was the Democrats, after all, that brought us into World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. It was Truman that established the Department of Defense and dropped the atomic bomb. While Jimmy Carter was focused more on inflation than on armed conflict, it was he that started our clandestine funding of the Mujahideen that would help drain the resources of the Soviet Union during their failed invasion of Afghanistan. Bill Clinton helped end the crisis in Kosovo by bringing Milosevic to justice with almost no NATO casualties. All of these actions are hardly the hallmark of a party that is soft on defense or adverse to conflict. On the contrary, a pacifist would probably declare the Democratic Party to be a bunch of warmongers if they tallied up the real costs, in dollars and lives, of their actions over the past century.

The economic imbalance between the parties is just as great. Since the official launch of the Department of Defense in 1949, Democrats have increased spending on defense by an average of 67% over the budgets they inherited. The average Republican increase during this same period, over the Democrats they followed, is practically zero. To be fair, this lackluster Republican performance has been due to the simple fact that they have tended to take office after major armed conflicts, when budgets are typically being reduced. For example, Eisenhower took office only six months before the Korean War was over. Similarly, Nixon and Ford exited Vietnam after it became politically necessary to do so. It wasnít until Ronald Reagan came along that the Republicans would have a defensive leg to stand on.

Unfortunately, Reaganís record was less impressive than the Republicans had hoped. While he continues to get credit for outspending the Soviets on defense during the 1980s, a strategy that actually did help to sink their economy, the truth is that a good part of this buildup was launched under the Carter administration and was simply continued by Reagan. Itís easy to prove this, since Reagan could not have significantly impacted the defense budget until fiscal year 1982, and the buildup in question started between FY 1979 and 1980.

Another problem of the Reagan legacy was his quiet cutback of new defense procurements starting in FY 1986. By the time he left office, these procurements had fallen to FY 1982 levels; when the first President Bush left office, they were well below FY 1980 levels. In addition, Bush was saddled with the responsibility of dismantling much of our Cold War apparatus when the Soviet Union disbanded. This upheaval led to a 12% reduction in defense spending in FY 1991óthe largest one-year cut since the end of the Korean War. Unfortunately, this cut came during the 1990-91 recession and cost Bush the election.

This is when the Republicans started trumpeting their strong posture on defense. Finally, after decades of Democratic dominance, they could point to the breakup of the Soviet Union and claim a victory of sorts. Ironically, the collapse of the Soviet Union seems to have been forecast by only a few people at the CIA or in the Political Science community, so this seems more like excellent hindsight rather than good strategy. Nonetheless, the Republicans needed a new platform and they knew that Bill Clinton would be inheriting a chaotic military establishment that was still maintaining Vietnam-era spending levels on top of a nine-year decline in new procurement contracts.

Frustratingly, Clinton turned things around. He cut the post-Cold War defense budget by a modest 12% overall and became the first president since Truman to leave office with a net surplus. More importantly, he increased the amount of defense procurement contracts by 25%, which had the double effect of stimulating the private sector defense industry while paving the way for upgrades in military technology. A testament to this approach came during our recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where veterans of the 1991 Gulf War cited numerous improvements in equipment and trainingómost of which would not have been possible without Clintonís investments in defense.

Today, we have a president that seems to have almost no idea what to do with our military. Spending is up and there is always lots of action, but we are not seeing results and there is little hope that we will be successful in our endeavors. The bottom line is that we cannot continue to borrow billions of dollars each month from China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia simply to fund these adventures. Is this the future of the American military? Your guess is as good as mine.

You can continue to think of Republicans as the party of national defense and fiscal control and the Democrats as the party of pacifists and spenders, but donít let any of the facts get in your way.


Setting the Bar Higher
Posted October 19, 2005 | Link

Thereís a storm on the horizon of our school districts, and its name isnít Katrina or Rita, but Intelligent Design ("ID" for short). As you read this, the ID tempest is raging across ill-informed parts of the country, taking in misguided school boards and spitting out undereducated youngsters. I doubt duct tape will stop this perfect storm, but a little bit of smarts and a small dose of common sense will work wonders.

So what exactly is ID? In a nutshell, itís either a bold attempt to re-insert creationism into high school science classesóan accusation that ID proponents vehemently denyóor itís an equally transparent attempt to dumb down our nationís science curriculum. Either way, this is a traffic accident waiting to happen. Should we opt to make high school biology classes into a lesson in the supernatural, or should we instead let a bunch of underperformers dismantle decades of scientific progress simply because they were kept out of honors science classes when they were teenagers? Itís like picking the door with the tiger behind it, or the door with the other tiger behind it.

To be fair, ID has a lofty, pseudo-scientific purpose. In fact, its propaganda is so laden with scientific mumbo jumbo that most citizens will tune out before they hear the punch line. What the ID'ers are trying to get across, naturally, is that Darwinís theory of evolution falls short of explaining every last detail about us human beings. Thus, instead of following any kind of scientifically sound process to refine or refute Darwinís workóyou know, the kind of intelligent analysis that we simple humans have been using for centuriesóthe ID crowd has instead come to the conclusion that the whole problem space is just too darned complex and that Darwinís theory is too blasted simple. Huh?

To put it another way, we humans must be so terribly intricate that Darwin must have been crazy to think he could sum it all up in a single, 19th-century book. And here is where the ID crowd goes over the edge. Their solution to this conundrum is to step back, throw up their arms, and plainly declare that something must have designed usósomething intelligent! Of course, you already know whodunitóitís God, of course! Whew, Iím glad thatís over. Close your textbooks children. Take out your prayer books. Turn to page 23 and begin singing the "College Entrance Exam" hymn.

If you think this is a cheap shot at religion, youíre wrong. This is actually a cheap shot at people who think that faith alone will get us to the finish line. Faith never invented life-saving drugs, electrical appliances, automobiles, computers, the Internet, or even the telephone that you call your mother with on Motherís Day. Those were all invented, developed, and improved upon by people who took an interest in science and who didnít let the unknown scare them from peering into it. Perhaps faith helped them along their illustrious roads, and perhaps God was the most important part of their lives. However, they never traded their faith for hard work, creativity, and hitting the books. There may be no substitute for God, but thereís no substitute for studying and getting good grades either. If you donít trust me, just ask a teacher.

So how do we avoid the damage from the ID typhoon? It's quite simple, actually, and you donít have to be a science whiz to figure it out. Letís leave the science classroom alone. Science works best if it follows the principles that have been guiding it since ancient Greece. Letís not presume to know the answer before the question has even been fully written. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientific minds in history, once quipped that he was convinced that God does not throw dice. If youíre like me, isnít it much more satisfying to think of God as the ultimate architect of the universe rather than someone who has a crib sheet up his sleeve? To me, ID represents the latter approach.

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