4A - Thursday, January 25, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
CJbe Iidtii~nan &U
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DONN M. FRESARD
EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS
Unsigned editorials reflect theofficial position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Reading between the lines
State of the Union features the same old rhetoric
rior to the State of the Union Address Tuesday night,
you might have thought that even President Bush would
have read about the 2006 elections by now. If you did, you
don't know President Bush. Americans are left scratching their
heads once again, wondering why Bush spent several minutes
sucking up to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (who appar-
ently is a woman) while failing to mention any viable solutions to
the perennial laundry list of domestic issues he threw out. If this
was supposed to be Bush's most important State of the Union yet,
he gave the wrong speech.
Wolf, Wolf, I simply don't accept the premise of your
question. I just think it's hogwash."
- Vice President Dick Cheney responding to a question about his credibility in an interview with Wolf
Blizter on CNN's "The Situation Room" yesterday, as reported by CNN.com.
-M 0 CO M M NT
A time for Democ-rati*c values
What lasted for 45 minutes was nothing
new. It featured the president's same old
failure to recognize the flaws of his for-
eign policy and his same old reluctance to
offer any achievable goals for addressing
the nation's domestic issues. He couldn't
even bring himself to mention the words
"global warming," because as long as you
don't acknowledge something, it can't be
real. Kind of like "quagmire" or "failure."
Bush's remarks on the Iraq mess took up
about half of his speech; the language was
that of a man who is the last to know that
no one agrees with him. He reiterated his
decision to add more than 20,000 Ameri-
can servicemen to Iraq, but the madness
didn't stop there. Bush also announced a
plan to increase the size of the active mili-
tary by 92,000 troops over the next five
years. It's so blindly absurd, but how would
it even be done? We certainly don't want to
be the ones to throw out the D-word, but is
there any other way?
And as if that wasn't enough, the presi-
dent broke new ground with his announce-
ment of avolunteer Civilian Reserve Corps.
What is that? From what we surmise, it's
like the Peace Corps - with guns. So noth-
ing like the Peace Corps, really. Now here's
a man who knows what he's doing.
As the country continues to pour billions
into spreading "democracy" to the Middle
East, the president did make sure to throw
some vague, lofty goals at the Democratic
congress for it to sort out. The man who
turned the largest budget surplus in history
into the largest deficit in history now wants
to balance the budget by 2009 without rais-
ing taxes - while continuing to drop bil-
lions into his war. Rep. Charlie Rangel's
(D-N.Y.) bemused smile said it all: Do you
live on this planet, Mr. President?
And as if that wasn't enough for the
Democrats to chew on, the president kept
the vagaries coming. He wants to "fix"
health care with a standardized tax cap,
but don't bother listening for a cost figure,
it isn't there. A year after confessing the
country's addiction to oil, Bush reiterated
that foreign oil is the pits, while advocating
doubling the nation's oil reserves. While he
did mention alternative sources (including
woodchips and grass, of course), it was all
in one windingsentence, without any men-
tion of the all-important how and when.
Promises were supposed to be central to
this year's address, but the president only
promised uncertainty. But what would a
Bush State of the Union be without uncer-
rom the way Republicans tell it,
Democrats are even worse than
the elders of Zion. They control
the media, hate God, support terror-
ists, reject traditional values and eat
aborted fetuses in secret secular-
humanist occult rituals. OK, I made
that last one up, but it does reflect
the GOP's borderline hysterical pitch
of propaganda before the November
by the election's -
results, the pub-
lit didn't buy the
But the accu-
The new Demo-
passed nearly all
of the "first 100 TOBY
hours" of legisla- MITCHELL
tion it promised
within its first 50
hours in office, including cutting stu-
dent-loan rates, raising the minimum
wage and rolling back $14 billion in
tax breaks and subsidies to oil com-
panies. Despite this success, conser-
vative pundits still claim Democrats
lack values and are too divided to gov-
ern. Do Democrats really nothave any
common values? Or are they just bad
at communicating them?
When the Republican Party faced
permanent minority status 30 years
ago, it didn't put forth an indeci-
pherable sprawl of policy like John
Kerry in 2004. It concentrated on a
simple "three-legged stool" of values
that summed up the best parts of the
Republican agenda and sold it to the
public: small government, strong mil-
itary and traditional values. The mes-
sage was so effective that it kept the
party in power long after it had sold
out every one of these values a hun-
dred times over.
The Democrats can take a page
from that playbook. Although they
may not have realized it yet, they have
their own three-legged stool: social
progress, environmental stewardship
and a full-powered defense.
Social progress propels humanity
to greater freedom in greater num-
bers. It includes civil rights, labor law,
women's equality and every other
extension of liberty since the Decla-
ration of Independence declared that
"all men are created equal." It is as
much cultural as political, demand-
ing that all people be treated equally
both before the law and in society
at large. At home, Democrats could
start by giving gay people long over-
due rights, including equal marriage.,
Abroad, they could recommit to the
United Nations to spread freedom
and democracy. Bombing develop-
ing countries just doesn't seem to
straighten them out.
Environmental stewardship means
knowing that the planet doesn't
belong to America; it belongs to future
generations and all other nations too.
It means respect for nature and a rev-
erence for God's creation. It means
a rejection of the idiotic notion that
economic progress and environmen-
tal health are somehow born enemies.
It's an idea whose time has come.
I visited a businessman friend of
mine over Christmas, a backwoods
Christian conservative. His latest
venture? Community-owned biodie-
sel power plants. America should
launch a "Green New Deal," as New
York Times columnist Thomas Fried-
man proposed. There can be no more
Full-powered defense means rec-
ognizing that America's security is
strengthened when it relies on more
than mere military force. A national
security policy that takes advantage
of America's full power - diplomatic,
economic and only then military - is
far superior to the "explode it first,
ask questions later" policy that char-
acterizes Bush's Iraq action-adven-
ture. Gen. David Petraeus is already
teaching Army officers at Fort Leav-
enworth that future wars will be won
by avoiding large-scale destruction
and by protecting and supporting
the civilian population to help secure
their cooperation. The Democrats
ought to make sure that the president
doesn't fire him.
All three Democratic values follow
an underlying moral logic that anyone
can understand without knowing the
nuts-and-bolts details. Every problem
facing the country - from terrorism
to economic instability to environ-
mental degradation - is global. None
Taking a page
from the GOP's
of them respect national boundaries.
None of them will yield until America
yokes its power to the global common
good, and this will not happen unless
Americans understand the need to
care about non-Americans as much as
they care about themselves.
The Democratic Party's moral
challenge is not to discover com-
mon Democratic values or to emulate
Republican rhetoric, but rather to
hold to the values they already have.
They must speak them clearly and
often - stand united under the moral
imperative that has driven liberalism
since it's inception - the imperative
to care for the world as a whole.
Toby Mitchell can be reached
Of mice and homeless men
Oh, the smell!
It hit my nostrils the second I opened my
apartment door. The hallway was inundated
with a rancor the likes of flesh-eating athlete's
foot. I stepped into the hall and saw a pair of
feet on the floor. A sensible source. But these
feetwere attached to a gentleman sleeping on
the floor. A smelly, sleeping homeless guy.
Now what? First, I locked the door. Then
I checked it twice. Smart. I fled to the better
ventilated but colder outdoors. How the hell
did he get in there? I checked the exterior door
- locked. I remembered the landlord saying
something about three recent homeless per-
son incidents on the fourth floor. But not on
my floor. This sort of thing just doesn't happen
on the third floor.
Besides, this is supposed to be a nice little
top-of-the-hill apartment building. My mom
would have a breakdown if she heard about
this. Please don't tell her. I'm taking enough
risk as it is. God forbid she tells my grandma
in New York.
So what choice did I have? I called the police
(on the way to lab, of course). Then I left the
landlord a message and made sure to include
that the stove also needs repairing. I assumed
that the homeless problem would be easy
enough to fix. I'm still waiting on the stove.
A week later, I forgot all about the home-
less purging. That morning in the middle of
my Cap'n Crunch-ing, I heard voices outside
the door. Was I finally losing it? I knew I had a
few screws loose (what can I say, I needed the
bolts) but figured I ought to investigate before
coming to any rash conclusions. I peered into
the hallway and came upon not one but two
sleeping homeless guys. I imagined the smell
of alcohol. Maybe that's why their feet didn't
smell quite as bad as last time.
What do I do now? Should I give them a
sandwich? No, too early. A breakfast sandwich,
perhaps - something on an English muffin?
Maybe they could stick around. No reason to
evict them; I hardly use the hall anyway. It
could be a whole social project. Be a revolu-
tionary, man. The other tenants and I could fit
a dozen homeless guys in the hall and still not
trip over them. And I know from biopsychol-
ogy lecture that we wouldn't notice the smell
after a few weeks. It's science.
Am I, crazy? Safety first, pal. You don't
know who these people are. It might be unfair
to kick them out, but it's just not safe to have
them here. Even if these two men are perfectly
nice people, the next one you let stick around
could really harm someone. Imagine how
you'd feel then, smarty-pants.
They could be mentally disturbed, too. But
even if I did have a doctorate in psychology
it's not like I could just whip out a prescrip-
tion pad and help them. Not that a prescrip-
tion would do any good since they'd never get
it filled. Don't be a hero. Do what that nagging
mother-knows-best voice tells you. It speaks
with a Bronx accent so it must know what it's
talking about. So, what can I say. I called the
police before my cereal got soggy.
A knock at the building door. With one foot
still firmly planted in my apartment, I pushed
the door open and leaned across the hallway
"Hey buddy, how'd you get in here?" The
officer's speech was only half-friendly. I heard
"We got to go?"
"Yeah, you sure do!" Cheery enough. OK,
problem solved. I packed my bag and scurried
out unnoticed, barely looking at them on the
way out. Did they know it was me? Doesn't
matter, I did the right thing ... right?
The last time I excised a homeless guy it
was unseasonably warm outside. But this time,
when the door opened, an unforgiving chill hit
me right in the chest.
I saw the condensed cloud of exasperation
leave my lips. It's true. They were warm and
secure and I went out of my way to screw over
the disadvantaged. That's where the logic
"Well, I'm sure there's someplace they can
I couldn't think of any.
Gavin Stern is an LSA junior and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
A good article about Iraq still tant is how to(
lyrics and spo
furthers negative stereotype eardrums. I lo
TO THE DAILY: every once in
I want to commend a very good article about the up and funct
toll of having a loved one in Iraq (They also serve, kids growing
01/22/2007), but I have one gripe. Why mention that too much tim:
the woman wants to go to classes with wet hair and no becoming an i
makeup? All it does is further promote the idea that all
women should primp themselves to go to class. By itself Ed Dawson
it has a small effect, but each time something like that University staff
is put into print, the social expectation of such behav-
ior gains more and more momentum.
Blair Willcox e c
TO THE DAIL
In regard t
Are we looking at an iPod nation of milli
nation ofpod people?gained momen
TO THE DAILY: does seem to b
It's interesting that Caroline Hartmann opens and player and onli
closes Tuesday's pop culture column with references ment couldn'th
to 1984 and Big Brother (An iPod nation of millions, other technolo
01/23/2007). For many people, we have less to fear control over th
from some capitalist dictator tracking our every move es. But the co:
than from the tsunami of mpegs, jpegs and mp3s that architectural s
digital devices swamp us with. we now are se
In the foreword to his 1985 book, "Amusing Our- the iPod's succ
selves to Death," Neil Postman compared two pos- Apple would n'
sible futures: "George Orwell feared those who would without Toshil
deprive us of information. Aldous Huxley feared those hard drives.
who would give us so much that we would be reduced We see ApI
to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth should Apple tf
would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth change of strat
would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared rior productst
we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we that most succ
would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some mixture of var
equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy and the cen- Apple's rivals
trifugal bumblepuppy." ucts are simply
Although Postman's book was written about televi-
sion, it applies just as easily to today's digital devices. Daniel Shin
Apple versus IBM is a minor issue. Much more impor- LSAfreshman
deal with the deluge of stock prices, song
:rts scores that are being IV-ed into our
ve the convenience and information that
s given us. But I don't think it hurts to
a while turn off, shut down or just hang
ion. Many people already worry about
up with nature-deficit disorder due to
e spent online. I hope we don't wind up
Pod nation of pod people.
nnot take all the
r iPod's success
o Caroline Hartmann's column (An iPod
ons 01/23/2007), I agree that Apple has
tum in the past few years, but I have a dif-
tive on the issue. On the market side, Apple
e dominating in the computer, multimedia
ne media service sectors, but such develop-
have come without Apple's partnership with
gy-based companies. In the past, Apple had
e hardware productions of its Macintosh-
mpany has admitted the Intel processor's
uperiority over the old Mac processors, and
eing the new "Intel Macs" in stores. Even
ess is owed to a partnership with Toshiba.
ot have had the capability to make the iPod
ba's ability to produce small, large capacity
ple's dominance all around us today, but
ake full credit for it? Maybe. A radical new
egy allowed the company to produce supe-
that everyone wants. But we should note
essful Apple products are a technological
'ious companies (some that are considered
in other markets), and today's Apple prod-
not 100-percent Apple.
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