Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Dirty "L" Word

I don't really have a response to this, except that I agree completely. Many Republicans are calling us "liberal" like it's a Hell-worthy trespass, and I take enormous offense to it. I don't hear liberals use the word "conservative" with such malice... unless blindly attacked by a conservative in that manner. Check the Yahoo! message boards if you don't believe me about the gross intolerance of the right wing.

Moderate Voters Aren't So Moderate

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Scandal or Alleged Smear Campaign?

A letter to the editor in the Collegiate Times today called upon the Republican voters to hold their parties responsible for their corrupt behavior, citing three "scandals." One was, as the Democrats call it, "Plamegate," the exposure of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame by White House staff, culminating in a federal investigation and the subsequent jailing of Judith Miller for refusing to testify. The second is Tom DeLay's indictments, accusing him and two others of fraud by laundering campaign contributions from corporations. The third is Bill Frist's supposed insider trading, the same crime that landed Martha Stewart in prison. Only one, the DeLay incident, has resulted in indictments, though the Democrats are clamoring for all three to be brought to justice. The writer mentions one scandal on the Democrat side, the Steele credit report. The writer claims that the Democrats complied voluntarily and enthusiastically, firing the staff member guilty. Whether this is true or not I personally cannot say, so I decided to look online for recent Democratic scandals (Bush era). I can only assume that a Republican will fire back, trying to find these. I want to see just how valid the response would be.

The first several searches I did took me eventually to the Center For Individual Freedom, where I found the story of a scandal called "Memogate." I have to say that I am personally biased against the CFIF, if only because it is a reactionary group steadfastly opposing the ACLU. They actually support many blanket proposals that would limit personal freedoms, namely those proposed by the "moral majority," which demonstrates they wish to disguise partisan support with a friendly non-partisan name. Regardless, I read the article, and here is my interpretation:
1) FOX News, as well as a handful of columnists, reported that allegedly there were memos distributed between Senate Democrats that conspired to filibuster nominees based on political reasons.
2) The CFIF calls on the Department of Justice for a full investigation into the Democrats refusal to produce the alleged memos as well as the reported "puzzling and disheartening acquiescence of Senate Republicans."
3) The memos refer to several liberal interest groups who have a case present or upcoming in the districts where judges are up for nomination.
4) The memos state that Democrats discussed the possibility of moving circuit judges' confirmation hearings to later dates, hoping that critical cases (the U Mich affirmative action case is one named) will be in favor of the Democrat-supported interest groups.
5) The senators named are the more extreme liberals in the Senate: Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, John Edwards, etc.

As an immediate counter, though, the next search I did led me to yet another Republican scandal. Apparently, in order to get their hands on these memos, Republicans infiltrated the file systems of a Democrat's computer. The Boston Globe said it best:
From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.
The suspicion was aroused when several top secret memos were printed in conservative columns, notably Robert Novak's (he was also involved with the Plamegate scandal mentioned above).

To me, this "scandal" is mere partisan conflict, and the Republicans actually committed more of an ethical lapse just to raise suspicion about the Democrats' actions. Of course the Democrats are going to discuss blocking judges... the Republicans did the same when Clinton was in office. Also, interest groups have every right to lobby their politicians for a certain judge; in fact, the right-to-lifers are perhaps the most vocal of all interest groups, and they most certainly are not liberal.

After a half hour of searching, I could find no other recent scandal to post. My opinion is this: I don't like the Democratic party right now. They are way too dependent on partisan hackery. Unlike the Republican party, however, they owned up to the one scandal that involved a crime, refusing to even give credibility to the other, non-publicized "scandal." Republicans completely blame partisan media bias and investigators for their woes. Just listen to Tom DeLay's or Bill Frist's next statement to see how they treat the investigations.

Update:: I was too harsh on Frist. His allies are the ones who are attacking the investigators. Frist believes there was legitimate doubt and is cooperating fully with the investigation without complaint. He has every right to contest that he is innocent.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Red America vs. Blue America

In my very, very slight amount of free time this month, I stumbled upon a piece called "Paranoid Left, Paranoid Right," an investigative journalist's view of the great divide in politics today. Rather than faulting one side, as most biased (and worthless) attempts to address this, he (Dick Meyer) merely points out the rather absurd beliefs that both sides hold. The paragraph that particularly caught my eye was this:

The great dynamic is that so many people — politically engaged people, not most people, not most voters as is too often argued — are convinced that a malevolent opponent wants to destroy their very way of life and has the power to do so. Evangelical Christians may believe that gay marriage, abortion rights, promiscuous and violent popular culture and gun control are all part of a plot to destroy their community of values. Urban, secular liberals may believe that presidential God-talk, anti-abortion legislators and judges, intrusive Homeland Security programs and imperialist wars are part of sinister cabal to quash their very way of life.

The simple point is this. Liberals are not out to destroy Christianity; to say so is an insult to a great many religious Democrats and Independents. The point that every one of them wants to make is that gay marriage and abortion are personal choice, personal morality, and thus should not be banned by a blanket decision. Some are not so forgiving of Christian interference, mostly the angry west-coast atheists. However, these people are a vast minority and should not represent us, as some political figures would like the country to believe. To go right along with this... conservatives do have a point in that religion is not banned from government. The state is just not allowed to establish one religion as the official one. Now, certain cases, such as the 10 Commandments and others, the establishment of religious aspects in government can infringe upon the rights of others, and that is where the line has been drawn and will be drawn. Gun control is something they feel should be left up to themselves. While I personally feel this cannot succeed because of irresponsibility that is always a part of human nature, I do agree that they should have a right to bear arms.
The only thing I don't agree with completely is that, although there is no such sinister cabal of Republicans, the point that many of them make is exactly that they want to repair the morality of the country. This is a hurdle that will forever separate the two groups: one group wants to impose a belief upon another group, and the oppressed group wants to make decisions on their own. Examples: Pro-lifers want to ban abortion, pro-choicers say "don't get one if you don't like it." Pro-gun control people want to severely limit the ways of obtaining weapons, the pro-gun people desire them for completely understandable reasons: protection and sport. Pro-war people believe it is American to spread democracy and prosperity, even if force is required. Anti-war people believe it is un-American to push their system on another country. The divide will always remain, and there seems to be little chance for compromise or for understanding.
One quick note: Meyer also points out that both sides believe that the media is biased against the other. Browsing through the headlines at FOX News, CBS, NBC, and Yahoo! gave me the following:
"Bush: Iraq Will Be Cleared of Terrorists 'City by City'" - No surprise here. The story is wholly about Bush's plan to clear Iraq. The article is nearly free of opposition or counterargument; the only quote that does oppose is from Harry Reid, and it is summarily blasted as ludicrous by the writer. They do quote a Democratic pollster, but the two polls, one conservatively taken and another liberally taken, are not equally favored.
"Frist, Warner at Odds Over Defense Bill" - This article is similar to the Yahoo! article below, though it differs in a few respects. It focuses on the conflict between two Republicans over the bill. It paints Bill Frist as an opportunistic presidential candidate wanna-be clashing with John Warner and the others over the bill. The story itself has a liberal slant in that the more conservative view, demonstrated by Frist, is given little time to develop, while the other senators who support the measure are given enough time to state their case.
(there were no more front-page headlines on FOX)

Yahoo! - Top Stories
"Bush: Radicals seek to intimidate world" - a piece that presents several quotes from Bush without contradicting or attacking them.
"US Soldier Is Among 21 Killed in Iraq" - a sprawling piece that, again, presents Bush quotes without attacking them, though it mentions the "Notorious" Abu Gharib prison. It also supports the conservative belief that Iran is supporting the insurgents
"Bush says more sacrifice needed in war on terror" - a report with a liberal slant, using words that qualify Bush's actions like "tried" and "attempted." It contains a quote of Harry Reid attacking Bush with a rebuttal from Bush.
"US says W. Iraq operations to run until election" - a report that presents the Bush side of the Iraqi conflict, citing examples such as the porous border faulted towards the other countries, the decision to fight the insurgents rather than bargain with them, and destroying certain parts of the Iraqi infrastructure to trap insurgents. No countering arguments or quotes are supplied.
"Senate, House to Clash Over Military Bill" - it's difficult to describe this story as anything other than anti-Bush, anti-Pentagon in that McCain's bill that would limit presidential power in wartime and also require fair treatment to insurgents and POWs alike, something that Pentagon and its supporters vehemently oppose. Republicans and Democrats alike are quoted, and the skew the article has is against the 9 senators who opposed the bill and the house reps who wish to dismantle it.

After visiting CBS and NBC, I noticed similar stories were on these sites as well. The point is there is NO bias... AP and Reuters and the others are not biased completely one way. Some writers are, but the distribution of these is similar to the country itself. Perhaps it's because the loudest pundits change week to week. Perhaps the Weekly Standard, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity will receive all the publicity one day, while the next the Huffington Post steals the show with some trivial insiders perspective. The point is accusing an entire media of bias is irresponsibility at its worst. I watched Hannity assault the Mexican Consul with all sorts of thinly veiled insults because he refused to tell Hannity that there was a major problem with illegal immigration. Whenever he tried to explain his position, Hannity would interrupt him with some condescending remark and ask the question again. FOX News is obviously a highly conservative station. I have no taste for them. Other stations are more liberally slanted than FOX, but not one of them is consistently liberal. It all depends on which political party screwed up that week. Conservatives complain about the attention Karl Rove receives, or the lack of sound bites from Bush, or that they didn't use this particular poll. It's not a liberal bias, it's just what's most appropriate. Liberals complain that the Bush agenda isn't questioned enough in the news, that a lot of White House "mistakes" are not publicized enough, and that the images of the war in Iraq are too fluffy compared to the rest of the world's coverage. This isn't a conservative slant, that's just profitable reporting. TV news is never a way to get complete coverage of anything. Internet is changing this, and people are starting to realize it through blogging and discussion boards. So please, next time anyone thinks to accuse any media of being biased... just deal with it and watch your preferred station.

P.S. I'm not participating in the Quixtar discussion any longer. Continue to comment as you wish, but I'm no longer answering questions. Let's face it, if you don't agree with me now, I won't change your mind. Attacking me won't change mine either. It's my opinion, take it as you will, and go on with your life.