"I consider Christian theology to be one of the great disasters of the human race ... it would be impossible to imagine anything more un-Christlike than theology. Christ probably couldn't have understood it." -Alfred North Whitehead
"The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Long ago I came to realize there were many, many people incarcerated who were innocent. And many more who were sentenced incorrectly and counterproductively. It was not because of the rantings of some prisoners constantly screaming about their innocence, though some of those also were innocent. It was because I had come to see the corrections systems in the U.S. and the way "justice" was pronounced from the inside and from an informed perspective.
Through the years I have been the member of the board of directors and president of the board in Washington, DC and in Milwaukee, WI of residential centers for offenders. It may surprise you to learn that both prison systems were horribly administered and by the time we received these offenders we had to undo some of the damage that the prisons inflicted through mismanagement and incompetent staffs. The prisoners were serving time in both state and federal prisons. Sure, many of the offenders deserved to be found guilty and held to account. But the prisons in both areas left much to be desired, and actually were the worst places offenders could be sent. Recidivism rates were high, and the more draconian the system was administered to satisfy the American public who loves to say, "lock 'em up and throw away the key," the more prisoners who returned to incarceration after their release. The American public promotes a way of handling offenders that is counterproductive at best, and an example of Middle Ages mentality at worst.
The U.S. is now straddled with a lazy, shallow print and broadcast media. They think that "balanced" news reporting is to simply have conservative and liberal "suits" debate an issue. What has happened to a once-proud journalism profession in America? What we have now is intellectual emptiness coupled with manipulated capitalism masquerading as journalism. This is now lack of back story wedded to advertising.
Like America's reputation generally and America's journalism specifically, we have fallen a long way from distinction and quality. Graduates from our schools of journalism have no clue what it means to be a professional journalist. Getting the background story and historical backdrop are absent. We still have a cadre of older men and women who know what a professional journalist is, but they are limited in what they can do and say. Their experience is harnessed to get a quick, often fictionalized, story. It is not the deadlines that cause this, it is the laziness or advertising requirements by today's reporters and editors. Sad.
Just when you think the neocons have done all the damage to the U.S. that could possibly be done, Bush goes to the Middle East and screws things up even more. His comments about Arab nations made him even more of a pariah than he already had been. It is Bush and the neocons who are recruitment godsends to terrorists. And traveling as a head of state he should know that you keep your own national politics out of bounds. Yet he couldn't contain himself, or the horrid neocons that surround him, and openly criticized Obama. Imagine, George W. Bush criticizing an intelligent politician about the Middle East. Bush has screwed up the Middle East [and everything else he has touched] beyond belief. The president of the U.S. is hated and has become the laughing stock around the world.
The legacy of this president is so horrible that it will take at least several presidential administrations to get things back on an even keel, if it can be done at all. The dollar is now a questionable currency of exchange in more and more nations. Our national debt is at levels that could not be imagined heretofore. We are bogged down in a war that continues to claim lives and is bankrupting the U.S. economy. And it was all done with lies as the vehicle of delivery.
We are bombarded with commercial media that totes the magnificence of capitalism, and in essence presents a right-wing story that it announces as "news." Network TV has short-changed us, and has cut back on its formerly respected journalism. The same goes for right-wing shlock on radio, and corporate-serving print media. All these sources have become standard presentations in what passes for news these days. It is anti-intellectual to the max, and would rather tell you hyped stories about corporate messiahship than present news. Younger people have no idea what real journalism is, and certainly know nothing about objective and responsible reporting. Nothing is done in depth anymore. And progressive ideas are totally unknown. Here are some other voices...
The BBC radio and television still maintain reporters worldwide, and give about the most balanced news reporting that is now available in major media. It is not as good as it might be, but it is the best for now. The same goes for the New York Times and the Washington Post daily newspapers: good for now, but could be much, much better.
If you had to hear it from Scott McClellan, you simply haven't been paying attention. Regarding Iraq, we were lied to by Bush and his henchmen, we were grossly shortchanged by the Democrats, the media had its head in the sand, the military leadership failed us, and American democracy was handed over to corporate factions who have made a profiting bonanza out of Iraq and this administration. But the passive, quiet Democrats were shameful beyond belief.
When you have to be most cautious and questioning of the government is when there is a patriotic furor. Nazi Germany is the best example in recent history. The terrorists did everything but phone-in their plans. And people around the U.S. questioned the pilot training of some of the terror planners. But the Bush insiders covered their mistakes and oversights by whipping up a war frenzy, and they picked a horrible nation to invade under the circumstances. Iraq was not a nation, it was a boundary of at least three very different factions and cultures, cobbled together by the British early in the 20th century. We went into Iraq like a bull in a China shop. The Bush-Cheney team was intellectually inept, and were too busy handing out favors to grandfather Bush and papa Bush's old pals, the Saudi family; and Cheney gave many billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to his old company that had lavished him as CEO, Halliburton.