Monday, November 19, 2012

Marco Rubio

According to USA Today,
United States students are continuing to trail behind their peers in a pack of higher performing nations, according to results from a key international assessment.
Which, you would think, means anyone who hopes to be President would focus his or her goals upon eradicating this deficit. Ranking 14,17 and 25 in reading, science and math is dismal and doesn't bode well for the future of our nation.

Heir apparent to the Republican nomination for 2016 has seen the damage that directly espousing a belief in absolute, young-earth creationism has had knows better than to say he believes such. At the same time, he knows he can't say otherwise or risk losing the only group left that supports the Republican party without question--evangelicals. When asked such a question in GQ, he answered so:
I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.
He avoided the trap, but doesn't see the connection. There IS an answer based in science, and only further answers based in science will keep America competitive scientifically, technologically and economically. One can believe whatever he wants, pray to whomever he wants, worship whomever he wants and otherwise do what he wants. When, however, that person attempts to teach our children things that are anti-science and based only on a theological belief, that becomes damaging to the nation as a whole. If you cannot see the tie between teaching future generations sound science and mathematics and growing the economy, your view is entirely too short sighted to be useful or transformational as a leader.

Another writer goes a little more literal on why scientific knowledge is important: Becasue if Rubio's argument we don't/can't know about the age of the universe were true, we'd be uncertain that our nuclear weapons and power plants might not explode randomly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

GEN Petraeus

Yesterday, I gave a talk here at BC as a member of the Student Veteran's Association. Peter took a day off work and came to class with me, which was nice. I had to wear my uniform and it was awkward--I don't like to stand out in school (other than, I hope, for my sparkling intellect).  Anyway, we walked in an immediately went to the snack bar to get a coffee. The lady who works the counter is, I believe, Filipina. She doesn't speak the best English, but she is very, very sweet. As we approached the counter, she laughed when she saw my uniform and said, "Don't get fired like the other guy...stay away from girls!"

Peter and I laughed and went to class. Then, we reflected.

It is a sad situation all around, but I leave aside the personal, moral or ethical aspects. I determined many, many years ago, when everyone had decided that what transpired between President and SEC Clinton was the business of all of us that I would never insert myself into someone else's marriage. But, there is more to this situation that the ethical or moral dimensions of the scandal. There are very important political and military ramifications, as evidenced by the reaction of the woman in the cafeteria.

Generals, or in this case the head of the CIA, have a responsibility and duty to hold themselves to the absolute highest standard possible. What is beaten into you from the first day you put on the uniform is that perception is 90% of reality.  GEN Petreaus knows this. He has put himself in a position where the perception is that he has violated his sacred duty.

If he has, or has not, is not really an important question. One should always hold the good of the military (or CIA--as I am sure the same organizational ethic holds true) before himself. While Petreaus eventually did resign, it wasn't soon enough. Moreover, GEN Allen should resign as well. Why? Because anything that distracts from the good of the troops on the ground in Afghanistan at this very moment should be avoided. What if that ruins the career of an otherwise honest and upright GEN who had dedicated himself to the uniform? Well, sadly, so be it. If GEN Allen is as dedicated to his troops as I imagine he is, then resigning his post at detriment to his own career if it helps deflect some of this scandal from affecting his troops is worth the price.