Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Posthaste or Post Hoc?

I find the following time line about yesterday's blog entry interesting:

Friday: Reading about a horrendous instance of a suicide bombing in Baghdad, I wonder if Cliff Kirkpatrick will ever fulfill the responsibility given him by General Assembly "to take every opportunity" to condemn such crimes against humanity. So I write him, somewhat late in my West Coast day, which is quite late in his day.

Saturday: By midday, I have a response back from Kirkpatrick's right-hand man, Vernon Broyles, with a public letter in response, purportedly written by Kirkpatrick--from Kenya, nonetheless! Wow! Instant response! It is the weekend, however, and of course it won't be posted on the PCUSA web site until at least Monday.

Monday: No posting appears. Broyles is out and Kirkpatrick is traveling home, I later find out.

Tuesday: I write Broyles to ask about the letter. Broyles replies quickly, attaching a revised letter, which also included the latest Palestinian suicide bombing in Israel. The problem is, the letter has factual errors and other problems, and I point them out to Broyles. But without change, that single letter gets posted on the web by the end of the day. I write a blog posting that night, saying that the statement misses the point by being addressed to the governments of the victims rather than to parties responsible for the bombings or for stopping them.

Wednesday: My blog is picked up in the morning by Presbyweb, making it most public. Kirkpatrick writes a second letter and posts it in the same posting as the previous letter, giving it a new introduction and predating it with Tuesday's date. This second letter is addressed to the President of the Palestinian National Authority, asking him to do what he can to stop the suicide bombings. It's a great letter, finally doing what ought to have been done all along.

Okay, so what am I to make of this? I request a statement, and it is produced within 24 hours. I argue that the statement/letter ought to have addressed the perpetrators or others responsible. Within hours, such a second letter appears mysteriously on the web, where previously there had been only one letter.

One possibility is that the reason and sensibility of my requests produced results posthaste. Woo-hoo!

But there is another logical possibility: My requests merely preceded the two letters from Kirkpatrick, but did not cause them (the old post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy).

Well anyway, a guy can at least hope that he has helped cause one tiny little outbreak of fairness and good sense for a moment. At the end of the day (literally), Clifton Kirkpatrick had done something good and right--and required by the General Assembly. That's what's best.

Thank you for that second letter, Cliff and Vernon! And may I evermore be presented with opportunities to hand out kudos! I'd like that.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA


Blogger Al Sandalow said...

It will be interesting to see what relationship develops between Vernon and the next Stated Clerk.

It seem more and more obvious that the current Clerk has allowed him to set a good part of his public agenda on certain policy matters

I wonder if the next clerk will be as accommodating, or if he/she will do more thinking for him/her self.

3:16 PM, February 07, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...


You will remember that Broyles used to be employed in the other half of the Louisville office: the General Assembly Council. But in the GAC reduction in force a couple of years ago, his position was cut and he lost his job.

There was a certain amount of satisfaction expressed over that event in some quarters.

However, quick as a wink, Kirkpatrick reached out and created a new position for Broyles on the other side of the bureaucracy: The Office of the General Assembly. Later Kirkpatrick's office, itself, went through a reduction in force, but Broyles survived that and remains in his position.

Remember, a position was created for him ex nihilo, and he survived an additional cut. Obviously Kirkpatrick thinks he really needs him.

It is only fair to note, however, that Broyles fills what is termed a volunteer position. His costs are probably low--not much more than office overhead and expenses, I suppose. Or maybe some paltry pay. Thus, he's a steal and probably feels rather secure in his semi-retirement.

Of course, that makes him an easy target for the claim that he is paid nothing and is worth every penny of it!

Will he remain to serve the new stated clerk? Who knows?

Broyles has been tight with Kirkpatrick. Perhaps his willingness to volunteer was predicated on his friendship. And any new clerk would probably have great latitude to turn down volunteer efforts that are not wanted or appreciated.

So I wouldn't be surprised if Broyles sails into the sunset about the same time as Kirkpatrick does in late June.

But then again, it could be hard to give up pulling strings.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

3:46 PM, February 07, 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home