Monday, November 3, 2008

The Media and Obama

To say that the media is ‘in the tank’ for Senator Obama is not completely accurate, in that, while they truly may be in the tank for him, this is not the only reason for their seeming inability to go after him in true investigative, journalistic fashion as they would someone else running for high office. The truth is that they agree with him idealistically, and so they see nothing negative TO report. What is there to investigate about a man who believes as you do, after all? We all feel that touch of brilliance when someone else agrees with us. It can be almost intoxicating to some people, a seal of approval upon our opinions from outside of ourselves. When we hear our own words coming from someone else’s mouth, we think "Yes! Someone else gets it! It’s not just me!" This solidifies our ‘rightness’ of thinking, and we form an instant bond with the one who has just reaffirmed our beliefs.

Bill Clinton, for all of his supposed liberality, was a moderate president. His two greatest achievements were done with the approval and even willingness of the other party, while his own shook their collective heads and voted against them. Wellfare Reform and NAFTA will be Clinton’s two-pronged legacy. He governed from the center. While his personality won him many fair-weather friends, it also alienated many on the far left who realized that he was not their savior, not their true standard-bearer. He wasn’t ideological, he was into self-gratification: What is my position in history? How can I aggrandize myself? Do I come across well on the camera? Do they like me?

This is why Hillary failed in the primaries. The far left, now in a position of dominance within the party (see Pelosi), would not abide another Clinton-esque term in the White House. Hillary was never able to convince the left wing of her party that she was out to change the country for them, rather than have the job for her own ambition. And so they left her. The Daily KOS - Hollywood - Code Pink - Move-On Crowd found their true leader in Barack Obama. And while traditional Democrats would turn out to support her in the primaries, in the crucial, local controlled caucuses, the more active leftists would turn out in droves to achieve the goal of electing a man who was not out for himself, but for a higher purpose, a higher goal, an American changed into something new and to their liking. Hillary said elect me; Obama said choose change. In the end, they wanted change more than a person.

What Hillary didn’t get was that it wasn’t about personality this time around. The party she belonged to had changed. She saw it as ‘me vs. him’ and the people on the left saw it as ‘her vs. change.’ She was destined to lose in that kind of competition at this time in her party’s history.

The media were quick to catch on to this, and rode the tide of change. Many in the press saw in Obama the leader they had always wanted, someone who would represent not himself, but a plan, a dream, an ideology that they themselves had held for so long. Here was someone who agreed with them, and not just in words meant to get him elected for his own achievement resume. Here was a man who was standing in the place of a set of ideals, someone who saw that as larger than himself. For this, they would see him elected over any meager sense of Clintonian loyalty.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Partisanship Alive and Well in Washington

Today's news 'Alert' on FoxNews was from a wall of Democratic leadership proclaiming 'bipartisan' work on the current legislation floating through the Congressional ether to fix the current lending market 'crisis.' You will note, there was not a single Republican among them.

To hear Congressman Barny Frank, D-NY talk about irresponsibility of others in de-regulating the market is quite frankly nauseating. I've heard from his own mouth in clips how he DID NOT want to put more regulations on this market sector while his committee had oversight of it these past two years.

Senator Harry Reid, D-NV, blamed the 'last 8 years' of no oversight of this market. Obviously he meant this current White House administration. Meanwhile, back in the Congress, the Democrats have for years wagged their collective tongues about how lenders should lend to those who cannot possibly pay their mortgages, and whose ability to repay their mortgages would be destroyed when the housing market collapsed, which it finally did. This reckless abandoning of common-sense free-market principles has led to this disaster.

This is the same Harry Reid, who, while the president was overseas, told high school students that the president was 'a loser.'

Zero credit was given to the president, the secretary of the treasury, or the chairman of the Federal Reserve. In fact, the administration was vilified by Speaker Pelosi, D-CA. This is the same Nancy Pelosi who said that the president was 'a total failure.'

What has happened to raise the amount of rancor coming from the Democrats in Washington in the past twenty years? They had a two-term popular president in the 90's, and have retaken Congress. They certainly have the media on their side. The snarky, snide remarks towards the president, the administration, and their Republican counterparts have become horrid.

One can hardly compare the two sides. There are no snippets from Republicans floating around the internet or the mainstream media calling Pelosi or Reid 'losers' or 'total failures.' Why has the left become so truly destructive and hateful? In the 1980s, Dems and Reps would fight for what they wanted, then at the end of the day Democrat Speaker Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan could chat and have a drink together, two old Irish guys just laughing it up. I daresay you'd not find such a thing in Washington these days. It's as if the liberal left views conservatives as not just political opponents, but evil creatures who must be destroyed.

With mouths dripping in partisanship and blame, they dare to use the word 'bi-partisan?' A truly disgusting, though unsurprising, display.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Academia Bigotry

The Philadelphia Inquirer posted an opinion piece on Sunday 14 September written by the chair of the History Department at Connecticut College, Catherine McNicol Stock . This piece was a total smear of an entire region of our country, the Pacific Northwest. It begins as a diatribe of attacks against Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, but proceeds, through inuendo, to link the governor to famed racists and terrorists from the northwest. The article slams the northwest as racist, throwing even such 'blue' states as Washington and Oregon under the bigoted bus:

"But the region also must be defined by its history of intolerance, resentment, antistatism and violence. Appearing in the region in the 1980s and 1990s were some of the most notorious "hate radicals" of our time: militia groups, survivalists, Identity Christians, secessionists, white supremacists and others."

Listing hate groups, militias, and individuals such as Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski, Stock reminds us that "we should never forget that in the late 20th century, ultra-Christian, antistatist and white-supremacist groups flourished in the states of the Pacific Northwest - called by many the "Great White Northwest" - the very region that Sarah Palin and her family call home."

To smear an entire region of the country just to make stabs at a politician is hideous, and that a highly educated individual would sink to such outright bigotry and guilt-by-association tactics is breathtaking.

Stock also makes the point that Sarah Palin's political views are "ardently pro-gun, pro-censorship, antichoice and antigay - make John McCain's conservative credentials pale in comparison. What few observers have said, however, is these beliefs are not just extreme - they are radical, and even bear a comparison with some of the most notorious "rural radicals" of our time."

So being ardently pro-gun makes you sympatico to the Unibomber and Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh? Being against gay marriage is radical extremism? Being pro-life equates you to home-grown terrorists? As one person noted, Barack Obama shares two of those radical beliefs, and the pro-censorship charge is a fabrication.

As some others have noted, does the fact that Connecticut has 4929 sex-offenders mean that we have to wonder if Professor Stock is also one? We could certainly turn her own final words against her: Thus it is high time to review the cultural ideals and models of the radical rurals from the Great White Northwest and find out for sure where Gov. Palin stands. So does this mean we should find out for sure where Professor Stock stands on sexual offenders, and to see if she is one? Of course not; that would be as absurd as her own inuendos against Governor Palin.

This form of fear-mongering is supposed to come from right-wing, extremist conservatives. I guess the professor has embraced diversity, and joined the club.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Biden's Charity

In a new article by National Review's Byron York, the charitable giving of Senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Biden is the issue. I have a couple of problems with the article.

The column details Senator and Mrs. Biden's charitable giving as recorded on their tax returns along with their gross adjusted income. The amounts claimed as charitable contributions are admittedly small, compared to the overall income for each year. And if Biden and his wife were worth the millions upon millions of dollars that most other senators are worth, then an issue could certainly be made, as Mr. York does, when he quotes Arthur Brooks, a Syracuse University scholar: 'My only point is that his values are not typical American values when it comes to charitable giving. Americans in general are very generous.'

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of Joe Biden, D-Delaware. But as York himself points out, Biden is the least wealthy of all of the current U.S. senators, making a combined income with his wife of just over $200k-300k/year. York also points out that the Biden's spokesman David Wade makes the case that the Bidens, like many other Americans, does not claim all of their charitable contributions on their IRS tax forms. The Bidens do numerous other charitable works, such as driving aid to hurricane victims, and Jill Biden's work with military families.

Yes, in 2007 the Bidens earned $319,853 and only 'claimed' to have given $995 to charities (not counting church tithing, again according to Mr. Wade). But the Senator has to have a place to stay in Washington, maintain his residence in Delaware, provide for his family, and an aging parent who now lives with him, plus pay for the expenses incurred in traveling back and forth, which he has for years in the past to make sure he was home for his kids most nights.

Joe Biden isn't likely to ever get my vote for anything, and we disagree on most issues politically, but this is not how I would go after a man who seems to be genuine and honorable. Attack his political positions, those are fair game. But his charitable contributions? I don't think so.

Confidence vs. Hubris

Hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

Confidence: belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance

ABC News' Charles Gibson scored big recently, becoming the first national news media person to interview Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Republican nominee for Vice President. In one part of the interview, Gibson asked Palin if she was 'ready' to be president if something should happen to John McCain after he takes office. She answered without hesitating, "I'm ready." When asked what about John McCain offering her the position of vice president, she replied,

GIBSON: And you didn't say to yourself, "Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I -- will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?"

PALIN: I didn't hesitate, no.

GIBSON: Didn't that take some hubris?

PALIN: I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink. So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.

Since the interview hit the airwaves, liberals have been aghast at such 'hubris.' Who does she think she is to just say 'Yes, I'm ready to be president,' without so much as a hesitation? How can she sit there and not look thoughtful for a moment, looking off to the left over Charlie Gibson's shoulder and pondering her life experience, and the history of the presidency, and not even question whether she's ready to fill that position should the need arise?! The Nerve!

Juan Williams, a Fox News contributor and NPR star, echoed this sentiment on Fox News Sunday's panel section.

The real difference between confidence and hubris is whether that self-confidence is deserved or not. By accusing someone of hubris, you're in essence passing judgement on them, that they are not, in your opinion, worthy of feeling so self-assured. When you say 'isn't that hubris on your part to believe that you're ready and to not have even stopped to consider if you were ready or not?' what you are actually saying is 'didn't you stop to think before you acted, because think about it, you're definitely not ready.'

Which person has the hubris? I'd say the interviewer and the panel pundit, for assuming they know that someone isn't ready, when that's not something anyone can really know until the time comes. Reagan, Bush, Palin. Whenever a self-confident conservative has arrived on the scene, deliberative liberals have always accused them of hubris. 'How can you be so self-assured?!,' they ask. It's called confidence, certitude. Liberals, with so much moral equivalency, wouldn't know about that.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Misleading Washington Post Columnist

If you read a recent column written by Anne E. Kornblut, you would be lead to believe that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was a moron who did not know that al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government were not linked in the planning of the 11 September 2001 attacks on American.

In this she misleads. And I believe it was very intentional. She writes the following, in her 12 September 2008 article entitled Palin Links Iraq to Sept. 11 In Talk to Troops in Alaska:

Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans." The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.

The title and the proposition are totally misleading, and obviously so. It was obvious that Gov. Palin, who made no reference to Saddam or his government, was meaning the al-Qaeda forces currently in Iraq who have been fighting our military there for years. This was merely an attempt to make the new vice presidential candidate look ignorant and out of touch.

I emailed Ms. Kornblut with the following:

Dear Ms. Kornblut,
I will make a not-altogether brash assumption that you are an intelligent woman. That being the case, it should be as obvious to you as it was to me that when Gov. Palin talked about her son and the troops fighting against the people that hurt us on September 11, 2001, that she meant Al Quaida, which is in Iraq fighting against our forces even now, and have been for years now. She made no reference to the previous government of Iraq or it's dictator. What she said was true, we are fighting, in Iraq, those who want to kill and us have already killed many Americans, including on September 11. Surely you knew this when you wrote your article, and that can only mean that you are attempting to mislead. The sad thing is that it will probably be effective.

I will not hold my breathe for a response, and I doubt that any response would be more objective than her already intellectually dishonest 'reporting.'

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vouching for You

In a recent online article for the National Review, Jay P. Greene took note of Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's convention announcement that parents of special needs children would have a friend in the White House. Greene writes about taking this a step down the road to providing vouchers for special needs families so that they may move their children to schools that more effectively meet the needs of their special needs children.

I believe this to be a wonderful idea whose time is long over due, much less come. Admittedly, I have a bias toward parental choice in schooling, as I teach at a private school. However, even if I were to be a public school teacher, this would still be my view. Parental freedom versus governmental mandates are usually a simple matter for me to decide on: Parental choice first. Of course I know that not all parental decisions are the best, but second-guessing the average custodial parent who lives with their child and loves their child is not something which I am prepared to do, nor am I prepared to give an impersonal, beaurocractic government such power.

That being said, I realized while reading Mr. Greene's piece that there was an opportunity here in the making. Few would stand in the way of such emotionally charged legislation. And a door would be opened to future expansion of this parental right of choice so that all families could receive vouchers to use in making the educational choice for their children. President McCain's and the Republicans' problem will be in making the first move without seeming to be using special needs children and their parents as a stepping stone to the more generalized usage of vouchers. McCain would have to move delicately, and deliberately, and this will be very difficult.

To even propose such a possible chain of events may seem to many to be grossly unethical. But this is how things get done in Washington, and have always been done. Ronald Reagan noted that you cannot always get 100% of what you want in politics, so go for the 80% that you can get and it will be easier to come back later for the other twenty. I believe that school choice for parents is a civil right, and if we have to start somewhere (and we do), then why not with those families who need the option the most.