Monday, October 04, 2004

Idiot's Guide to American Gov't

My brother is a vetrinarian who graduated in May of this year. He has recently taken a position and is doing well. Unfortunately 10 years of school has prevented him from following politics, and, I think we can all agree, that high school civics is woefully inadequate.

In any case, given the nearness of the election and his intention to vote, he asked about some good reading material regarding the 2000 fiasco and politics in general. In re the 2000 election, I had him read Bill Sammon's "At Any Cost." My father recommended the "Idiot's Guide" series, stating that from his experience, they seemed to be relatively unbiased. Little did I know:

"From p. 21, The Complete Idiot's Guide to American Government, by Melanie Fonder and Mary Shaffrey. "Specific powers that Congress holds are also listed in the first article, including the right to collect taxes and tariffs, borrow money from itself, regulate commerce, coin money, regulate immigration, investigate counterfeit, establish post offices and roads, promote sciences and "useful arts," grant inventors exclusive rights to their ideas, create courts lower than the Supreme Court, and protect U.S. Ships and citizens when they are not in the country. The right to declare war, raise and support armies, maintain a navy, regulate those armed forces, call up a "militia"-now known as the National Guard-to execute laws, aid states in supporting their militia, and have control over the District of Columbia are all included in the explicit powers." Enjoy, ****"

When did the militia turn into the National Guard? If memory serves me correctly, the Guard was established in the late 19th or early 20th century. And I don't think this was some grand scheme of the founding fathers that took 125 years to come to fruition.

In similar family news, I had to explain the synthesis of the Rathergate flap to my mother. She didn't understand whay a major news network would do something so recognizably ficticious, or why other media didn't check it. She is a big-time Fox News watcher.

I explained to her that I no longer watch TV news because I don't believe it. I stated that journalists go to school for journalism. They really don't know jackshit about anything else, let alone rifle calibers or wrap-around fonts (of which I am admittedly ignorant of.)

Then I explained to her that the blogosphere offers an individual the opportunity to check with actual people who know their shit. You don't need to believe what some good looking (and Fox has the best) blonde is reading into a microphone.

By that time my spittle was on the table and my arms were flailing. She had ceased listening to me about ten minutes previous to my closing statement.

My message to the family was check their facts, then check them again and again and again and again.

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