Friday, September 01, 2006

Common Nonsense

I really miss the old school Democrats. I'm not talking about the racist Southern Democrats who legislated an "equality" that became just another form of segregation, but the Statesmen, who spoke with reason and common sense; Statesmen such as Scoop Jackson, John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Harry Truman, and Hubert Humphrey. These men were willing to discuss and negotiate issues, and though I often disagreed with most of them, their voices were important in the overall balance of the government. Human rights, equality, and liberty were important to them.
With the exception of Joe Lieberman, who, though rejected by voters from his own party in Connecticut will likely retain his seat, that voice of reason has all but disappeared. Winston Churchill, who once said, "A man who is under the age of thirty and is not a liberal has no heart, and a man who is over the age of thirty and is not a conservative has no brain," would be appalled at some of those who call themselves "liberals." There is no heart in many of the Democrats in Congress.
Consider an issue that was once dear to the Democratic Party--minimum wage. So intent were these Senators and Congressmen on politicizing every issue, they all but abandoned their principles in order to set themselves at the extreme opposite of anything proposed by the administration. There was no chance of compromise. But it is not only the fault of the Democrats. The Republicans tried to tie it to an issue they wanted to pass, thinking that the Democrats would hold to their principles. They did, but not the ones the Republicans thought they would. There was no honest discussion about it, and neither the tax cut nor the minimum wage increase was passed. Not that it broke my heart personally, since I believe "The government that governs least governs best," but it is disturbing that we have to pay out of our own pockets to pay these people to basically do nothing.
An important issue, Social Security, came up last year. But the Democrat faction of Congress rejected the President's proposal without any counter proposal to offer. It seems they just want to wait until there is no more Social Security program before they act on it. After all, it won't affect them, for they have their own privatized retirement program.
That's correct, Congress is so interested in playing politics, they have lost sight of the issues on which they were elected, and the people who have elected them. Never, in modern times, has the legislative branch been so self-serving.
The news media in general has its part in creating this situation. Rather than reporting factual news events, the media has become a stenographer for anything anyone says, be it based on fact or not. The people who are supposed to be presenting fact to the public have become so opinionated, they are not just spin-doctors, they have become the Surgeon Generals of spin. The only way you can glean facts from the media is to watch or listen to at least seven different media outlets--I listen to NPR, and watch Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS--find a common thread and pick it up and shake off all the debris. Otherwise, you're just getting opinions and sound bites.
It is this practice by the news media that gives these people incentive to spout off whatever they feel. One, thankfully small, faction in the House of Representatives actually believes that it is better to publicly support a regime that imprisons people for disagreeing with the government, one that deals the death penalty to women who have been raped, than to give the appearance of agreeing with the President on anything. The media has given Representative Conrey and the others incentive by giving them a public forum without questioning the reason they turn their backs on human rights. In short, it is the presentation of the news which makes the news, and hard fact has very little to do with it.
In journalism, there is a rule that says, "Perception is reality." So the media manipulates reality. For example the press and the television journalists act as if the "democratization" model is unique to President Bush, and therefore is a new and unproven theory. That is the perception the media feels will create sensationalism, and sensationalism sells newspapers and television advertisement.
But nothing could be further from the truth--democratization was practiced successfully in both Germany and Japan after World War Two. Senator Scoop Jackson, who protested the idea of detente with the Soviet Union as being non-productive to the goal of establishment of world peace, proposed, and passed, a resolution that tied technological and trade relations with the Soviet regime to human rights reforms in that country. Jackson's policy was adapted by President Reagan, and the Soviet Union fell behind in technology and trade. The Soviet Union's withdrawal from Angola, then from Afghanistan were a direct result of US trade policy with the Soviet regime. The fall of the Soviet regime resulted in the birth of a democracy and the end of the Cold War. We may be at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin on many issues, but we have free and open societies in common, and a dialogue on these issues can be established. One need only to look at the successful democracies of The Republic of Georgia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Indonesia to see that democratization is a tried and true policy.
Another gross misconception authored by the media is that of "Warrant less wiretapping." A warrant is needed in the conduct of a criminal investigation, not in the conduct of war. Imagine that, in a life or death situation, that someone was firing mortar shells at you, and you couldn't do anything to defend or protect yourself without a warrant. It doesn't make much sense, does it? In addition, the entire misconception of wiretapping is that someone is listening in on random telephone calls. I am familiar with the equipment and method used in this type of surveillance, and--trust me on this, because I will not compromise national security--that is not only untrue, but it is actually impossible.
The whole concept of the Presidential power grab is also untrue. By Constitutional Law, whether the President's name is Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Carter, Gore, Clinton, Kerry, or Bush, the President is the Commander in Chief-of the military. This means that the conduct of war is ultimately the responsibility of the President, not of Congress or the Supreme Court.
I could go on, but my point has been made. What we hear from politicians and pundits is based on what the news media wants us to hear, and what we hear forms the public opinion of politicians and pundits. Research what you hear, and take everything with a grain of salt. And never, never, jump to conclusions.


TerraPraeta said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting at my blog!

But now I'm gonna argue with you a little ;-)

First a point of agreement. I do think that, with few exceptions, the democratic party is in the tank. But I would not suggest that Joe Lieberman is an exception to that. He is the Democratic version of John McCain: both of them sold their soul, tethered themselves to the current perceived power and hoped that he radiance would spill onto them. So we see now that neither integrity nor initiative will ever be forthcoming from either gentleman.

Likewise, all the of the 'machine' democrats have lost site of the real world. On one hand they pander to interest groups with foci so narrow that their efforts are pointless, and ofttimes harmful, while on the other hand they shift continuously and egregiously closer to the middle. I, personally, am somewhat of a moderate on many issues. But I don't like going to the polls with the choice of X or almost X. Until we find a way to incorporate third parties into our system, we need to have a little more diversity in the debate.

Hopefully, recent grass roots efforts: from the Kossacks lead Democratic grass roots to the Libertarians behind the Freedom Move' to other actions going on locally across the country, eventually some of our so called leaders will wake up and see what is really going on in the world.

I am not familiar with the specific case you are referring to concerning Rep Conrey (I googled the name and found nothing – I'm afraid I have been cut off from the media over the last couple months). However, I would generally point out that our government has been supporting 'bad' regimes for its entire history. That does not excuse such behavior, but the perspective is important anytime someone points a finger. We cannot take responsibility for every bad government in the world, and we have made it a policy to NOT take that responsibility. So when our 'War President' claims that we are responding to totalitarianism – as if that's just what we do – I call bullshit.

And Warrent-less Wire Tapping? I call up the ghost of Ben Franklin: “Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” No one has said, implied, claimed or shown cause for Bush to be unable to wiretap. The issue is whether he is then pursuing his legal obligation to allow FISA to oversee his efforts. The fact that he is flaunting the law leaves two possibilities: either he has decided that law does not pertain to him, or he is afraid that FISA would find his actions inappropriate and/or in violation of basic civil liberties. In either case, that makes him a dangerous man to be running the country. I don't CARE what they are actually DOING with the tapes: the fact that they feel completely unobliged to follow either the law or the will of the american people is frightening. If the US were under a brutal, tyrannical, totalitarian regime, they could still not guarantee our safety. So why would we want to let them take ANY liberties, knowing that it will never make us safe?

Okay, deep breath. That one kinda gets to me sometimes. In any case, I like that you are thinking and writing, even if I may not agree with your conclusions.



yellowdog granny said...

of all varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved...Aristotle

Conservatism is sometimes a symptom of sterility.Those who have nothing in them that can grow and develop must cling to what they have in beliefs, ideas and possessions..Eric Hoffer.

A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy...Benjamin Disraeli...

RevJim said...

I understand your arguments, and in my most deeply seated philosophy, I have to agree with much of what you have said. To use an overused phrase, however, getting Libertarians to agree on anything is like herding cats.
The current administration is the first one ever to move away from supporting governments based on fear society. And we are not talking about temporary security when fighting terrorists, we are talking about an end to the threat by the terrorists.
I enjoy reading your opinion, however, and I look forward to reading more of your work. Thanks for stopping by.

RevJim said...

Yellowdog Granny,
You know that I am not inclined to argue with people over their political beliefs, but only over the issues. You can't change political beliefs, they are as deeply rooted as any religion.
Understand that I am called "conservative" by liberals and "liberal" by conservatives, so neither label applies to me, the way I see it. The purpose of my opening paragraphs is to lament the fact that we no longer have a rational liberal element in our government today. I really enjoy having this dialogue--this is my main purpose for writing.