AP Gov

Friday, December 24, 2004

#22 A Vote for Inequality

"A Vote for Inequality" is an editorial that considers the status of gay marriage bans in the states that passed them on November 2 as well as the future of gay marriage. It points out that some of the legislation passed is actually more extreme than Bush cares for. The article quotes Bush as saying that while gay marriage is immoral, "legal arrangements that enable people to have rights" are on a different level. Perhaps Bush and Kerry were not that different on the gay marriage issue- though Bush seems more reluctant to ostensibly support civil union, his statement seems that he is leaning towards an arrangement that gives many benefits of marriage without the actual title of marriage; in other words, practicall a civil union. It may turn out that Bush has been so effective in pandering to the far right that he convinced the rest of the nation that he was more conservative than he actually is. As a result, the nation elected several disgustingly homophobic Congresspeople, such as SC Sentaor Jim DeMint, who said that queer teachers should not be allowed to teach in public schools. However, the editorial closed with a paltry statement of passive hope for the future, noting that exit polls actually showed that 60 percent of voters either supported civil unions or gay marriage. Upon hearing this figure, I was enraged because the figure was at odds with the overwhelming success of anti-gay measures on the ballot. The article didn't analyze the discrepancy between public opinion and the voting patterns or the difference betwen Bush's actual stance and what it is percieved to be. In fact, it was hardly an editorial. Nevertheless, it stated some important facts about political figures that highlighted the hype surrounding gay marriage and the widespread acceptance of bigotry, as long as it is againt homosexuals.

#21 One Reason for Democrats to Smile

In the recent election, from which the Republicans seemed to gain power in nearly every state, Colorado went against the trend and granted many Democrats victories, despite the fact the Colorado went for Bush. The author of this article, TR Reid, claims that the reason Democrats were able to dominate Colorado was because they ran on pragmatism instead of ideals. Instead of getting entrenched in moral and ideal-based issues such as gay marriage or the pledge of allegiance, they tried to deal with real issues such as the state's budget deficit. By holding powerful Republicans accountable for the fiscal crisis, Democrats running for office were able to put Republicans on the defensive. However, although running on pragmatism was such a huge success in Colorado, could it have worked in the presidential campaign? It seems that John Kerry did run on pragmatism, at least to a certain extent. He laid out the facts about Iraq and accepted that the US was stuck for the time being, but proposed a rational Plan to proceed. Instead of choosing an extreme position on abortion based on ideology, he accepted that though he personally opposed abortion, he would not outlaw it because of concerns for rape, incest and danger to the mother's health. In fact, his nuanced positions on Iraq, abortion, gay marriage and tax cuts were largely based on pragmatism. So why didn't the public respond positively? Can we assume that the public was not ready for pragmatism yet? Perhaps in Colorado, with the help of a financial scandal involving a Republican candidate, the citizens were ready for pragmatism. However, the nation at large is still drinking its fill of absolute ideologies, and can still be easily riled up by arguments against gay marriage etc. Another key difference between COlorado and the nation may have been that gay marriage was already outlawed in Colorado- marriage was already safe from the "dangerous homosexuals" out to ruin your marriage. Therefore, the "moral" argument was weaker for the Republicans in Colorado.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

#20 Will the Moderates Speak Up?

The answer to the question "will the moderates speak up?" will be a key influence on how the next four years will play out. Will the Bush administration continue to pander to the right wing or will Bush follow through with his promise of uniting the country. Though I fervently hope that Bush will back away from extremely right wing policies and instead pursue policies that will unite the country, his own party presents a real obstacle. It is unclear how well Bush will be able to control his own party, because the Republican controlled congress may be averse to moderating their policies. The Republican Party's reluctance to compromise, especially now that they have control of both chambers of congress, stems from the fact that the Republicans elected in the past election lean towards the radical. Only a few weeks after election day, Bush discovered how difficult it may be to enact his new plans. Congressional republicans refused to pass the intelligence bill that Bush endorsed, nearly bringing about its failure until the House finally voted to pass it. A New York Times article from December 5, 2004 entitled "BUSH PRESSURING G.O.P. TO APPROVE INTELLIGENCE BILL" by Philip Shenon describes how "President Bush sought to stem a near-rebellion by members of his own party in Congress yesterday by describing a sweeping intelligence-overhaul bill they oppose as an effort ''to do everything necessary to confront and defeat the terrorist threat'' and calling for its passage during a brief Congressional session." The inability of Bush to control his own party shows that Bush may not be able to follow through his promises for a united nation. Furthermore, his very dedication to that cause seems shaky, as shown by this NYT article:
http://nytimes.com/2004/12/24/politics/24judges.html?hp&ex=1103950800&en=a46de22520735ade&ei=5094&partner=homepage

#19 Mr. Powell Departs

The author of this editorial analyzes Powell's tenure as Secretary of State and points out how the absence of Powell from the Administration will affect foreign policy. Colin Powell has been a lone voice of dissent urging the administration to return to more moderate policies. He argued for abiding by the Geneva conventions for prisoners and conferring with the United Nations about Iraq, yet all too often he was ignored by Bush, Rumsfield and Cheney. However, despite his personal doubts and private arguments with the other members of Bush's cabinet, he always publicly supported the war. Whether this is a virtue or a fault is debatable. Though there is something to be said for unity, as a disunified government can hardly be trusted, I do not see how Colin Powell rationalized his public support for the war to the extent of defending it before the United Nations. As one of the highest ranking officials in the United States government, he placed his "duty" to the president- deferring tro his authority and backing up his story-before his duty to the people. Instead of telling the people the truth and shedding light on the doubts surrounding the war, he allowed the people to be lured into supporting an illegitimate war. Most liekly he feared the reaction of the people, thinking that perhaps Americans would be more likely to listen to Bush. If he was caught in a position when his opinions were at odds with the President's and the public's, not only was his credibility as secretary of state virtually nonexistent, but his future political career could be ruined. At the close of the article, the author comments on the irony of Powell leaving, whereas Bush and friends, who are accountable (to a certain extent) for Abu Grhaib, Iraq and Guantanamo, remain in power.

#16 Stem Cell Politics

It seems that stem cells are yet another aspect of the "moral values" debate, yet they are overlooked much more often than issues such as gay marriage and abortion. It seems as though Bush has devoted himself to "morality" rather than science and progress, and considered it more moral to deny a possible cure to thousands of people who may benefit from stem cells than to use the stem cells naturally left over from an abortion. As of now, it is apparent that the rest of the world will not take the course that the US has. South Korea and Britain have both opened national stem cell banks (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-SKorea-Cloning.html, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Britain-Stem-Cell-Bank.html), and are already surpassing the United States in stem cell research due to the severe constraints on stem cell research. Though the US has already lost any legitimate claim to being the most technologically advanced coutnry in the stem cell scene, it is not too late for the administration to start making changes to its policy on stem cells. I don't believe that the US government should sacrifice its potential as a vanguard of scientific progress to private ventures and state sponsored programs. It would be more efficient for the national government to sponsor a large scale stem cell research project rather than to rely on smaller projects. It seems heartless (and certainly not compassionate in any way) to cripple stem cell research in the US so severely so as to deny life and health to thousands.

#18 Immigration vote

This editorial, which urges Congress to pick up the issue of immigration reform, as the nation's borders are a federal responsibility, and not a state responsibility. Furthermore, the post-election climate allows for frank discussion about such issues as immigration reform that in the pre-election climate was not politically viable. This article deals specifically with Arizona, and the recent attempts to restrict the rights of illegal immigrants. Proposition 200 passed easily in Arizona, and included such provisions as increasing the situations in which one is required to show proof of citizenship as well as requiring all public employees to alert the authorities about illegal immigrants. Though states such as Arizona may be experiencing siginificant troubles from illegal immigration, I wonder whether the new rules will alleviate their troubles. First of all, perhaps illegal immigrants will have more trouble finding work, and instead of having a state of working citizens, Arizona will become a state of unemployed illegal immigrants. Also, Proposition 200 may have consequences that extend beyond the checking of citizenship documents and mandatory reporting of illegal immigrants. Public hospitals and and clinics may become off-limits to illegal immigrants. Though the Arizona state government isn't politically obligated to provide some basic health care for its residents, it has some sort of moral obligation (now that morals are a big thing in our country) to provide a certain standard of life for all who live in Arizona, whether illegally or legally. More information on Proposition 200 can be found in this New York Times article.
I also disagree with the editorial in that I don't think that immigration policy should always be a federal issue. Though national borders are a federal responsibility, immigration reform is only a primary concern of a few states. Congress has more important things to be doing that discussing bills that a few states have vital interest in. Each state has a right to decide how to deal with illegal immigrants.

#17 A New Start on Courts

This article, all too rationally, suggests an ideal course of action for Bush now that he faces a GOP controlled Congress that will most likely support any of his nominations to the courts. The author of the editorial suggested that Bush, instead of drastically altering the political makeup of the courts, should nominate judges who have broad support from all political ideologies. This does not mean that he cannot elect conservative judges- just those who can make fair and not strictly partisan decisions. However, this ideal plan is lacking in one area; motivation. The suggestions provide far too little motivation for Bush to follow the advice. The only motivations seem to rely on Bush's sense of what is best for the country in a vague, general sort of way. However, Bush undoubtedly believes that placing the judges he nominates in courts is what is best for the country. As long as he keeps on giving the right wing what they desire, he should remain in power. However, if he does try to play to both sides, perhaps the right will dismiss him as too liberal and the left will reject him because he is too conservative. Though it would be nice to envision a country united behind a moderate leader, this is too much to ask of a candidate like Bush, who was elected on very conservative principles by a conservative base. Ultimately, there are no political pitfalls if playing to the far right, unless Bush alienates the rest of the country. However, as the country seems to be leaning more towards the far right after this past election, this does not seem to be a real threat to Bush.

#15 Whose values won the election

Though I think that the impact of moral values on the election has been somewhat exagerrated, it was still a deciding factor in the elections and consequently a deciding factor of the Republican victory. It is inarguable that gay marriage was central to the entire moral values debate, and that moral voters were exceptionally populous during the election. However, this article claims that "the Washington culture overestimates the political traction of...economic issues, and doesn't fully grasp" the importance of moral issues such as gay marriage. I do not think that this is an accurate assessment of the political mentality. It seems as though Karl Rove and Kenneth Mehlman, two of the leading coordinators of Bush's re-election campaign, exploited anti-gay marriage fervor to get out the "moral" vote. Leading Republicans promoted legislation to ban gay marriage in order to mobilize the voters who would otherwise not vote. I doubt that Republican activists like Gary Bauer, to whom the author of this article refers to several times, blindly campaigned for anti-gay measures simply for the sake of promoting these issues and nothing more. I am certain that the majority had the awareness to recognize that their efforts were not only influencing how people would vote but who would vote.
Another interesting aspect of the "moral values" debate is the actual definition of moral values. In recent polls, democrats and republicans had very similar definitions of what comprises moral values, with republicans being more adamant about morals specific to christianity.

#14 Correcting a Mistake

This article deals with the juvenile death penalty, and whether the Supreme Court should reverse the 1989 decision to allow states to execute convicted criminals who committed the crime when they were under 18 years of age. THough I am against the death penalty in general, I believe that it is especially important to prohibit the execution of juveniles. I think that the execution of juveniles violates common standards of decency, but the generally accepted Constitutional argument falls under the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause of the Eighth Amendment. Though choosing a certain age as the marking point between youth and adulthood is quite arbitrary, as each individual matures at a different pace, it is important that children/youth are not immediately grouped in the same category as adults. In fact, the majority of americans polled oppose the death penalty for juveniles. The Death Penalty Information Center provides extensive public opinion, Supreme Court cases and resources concerning the juvenile death penalty on its website, http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=38&did=885. Whether the juvenile violates the Bill of Rights is an ongoing debate, but it seems to me that the Supreme Court will ultimately recognize the cruelty of juvenile execution. It is interesting to note that only three states have recently executed juveniles, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia. Furthermore, Congo, Iran, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and YEmen are some of the few remaining countries that still allow juvenile execution. In fact, democratic nations generally lean towards prohibiting the death penalty completely. It is high time for the US Supreme Court to rethink its decision to uphold the death penalty for juveniles and make some progress towards compassionate jsutice.

#13 Iraq's Barbed realities

The general theme of this article is that America has missed too many opportunities to prevent violence in Iraq, creating a fertile breeding ground for violent resistance. Some major lost opportunities have been failing to create a speedy and firm alliance with the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, banning members of Hussein's Baath Party from participating in the government and initially refusing to install an interim government. Some of these claims seem shaky. For example, banning former supporters of Saddam Hussein seems necessary in order to prevent the same people coming to power again. However, it did put 300,000 people out of a job, further demonstrating the US's lack of dedication to the creation of employment, which this article claims is one of the root problems of the US occupation of Iraq. I find this to be a valid argument- had the US shown a strong committment to preventing widespread unemployment in Iraq, Iraq would not fall as easily into the hands of a resistance movement that offers money, glory and unity against the invading nation. Too many young men (generally SUnnis, who had prospered under the Baath party and were not accustomed to perpetual unemployment as the Shiites were) found themselves unemployed and disgraced becuase of their inability to make a living. The US could have avoided these problems by initiating large scale reconstruction projects in areas that could potentially present a problem, which would generally be cities populated by Sunnis suffering from unemployment. A sort of New Deal program would hopefully provide employment and also decrease resentment towards America. However, the reason why the US did not launch such programs is not entirely clear. Perhaps it was simply lack of funding, yet it could also be the administration's blindness to the practical and obsession with ideals. It seems unlikely that professional politicians would not be able to take the effect of unemployment into account, but perhaps they underestimated its importance.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

#12 Echoes of Vietnam

Jeremy Hinzman, a married 25 year old with a wife and young son made the decision to flee the United States after his army unit was selected to be deployed to Iraq. He and his family illegally fled to Canada, and are now applying for refugee status. The author relates this situation with the draft evaders of the Vietnam War- although as of now there are far fewer "refugees" from the Iraq War than the Vietnam War. However, this once again raises the issue of whether a voluntary member of the army can legitimately be anti-war, and whether the Army has any obligation to accomodate its employees who have discovered during their service that they are anti-war. I think that the Hinzman case is somewhat legitimate because Hinzman requested non-combatant duty and was denied before fleeing the USA. He was still willing to serve his country, but he did not feel that it was moral to kill. However, the army (obviously) cannot grant non combatant duty to any soldier who applies; otherwise, the Army will be left with far too few fighters. Though I do believe that civilians should have the right to pursue conscientous objector status in lieu of joining the army, it is asking too much for the army to be required to allow soldiers who had voluntarily joined the armed services the choice of not fighting. I do think that it is important that the army try to accomodate the beliefs of its members, but any accomodations must be necesary and proven to not be frivolous. If there were a military draft, then the army should be obligated to grant non-combatant status to as many people as possible. However, the same stipulations should not be imposed on a volunteer army.

Friday, November 12, 2004

#11 slow journey from isolation

This article is about a gay teenager in Oklahoma and his struggles with his sexuality and other people's reactions to it. After a suicide attempt, Michael begins to come to terms with his sexual orientation in group therapy sessions at a hospital, but eventually must return to the "real world." He is harassed at his high school so he drops out to work and get a GED, and continues therapy. The author of this article tracks the transformations of identity that Michael undergoes and how his mother comes to terms with her son's sexuality (or rather, doesn't come to terms) and the effect of same sex marriage being in the political spotlight.
This article had a sobering affect on me- the life of a gay teenager in rural Oklahoma is a nightmare. THe rampant homophobia in his small town feeds the homophobia of the state government, or perhaps the actions of the state government fuel the popular opinion towards homosexuality and gay marriage. WHat really struck me about this article is that it has a lot of relevance nationally. IT is easy to dismiss Michael's story as peculiar to the rural areas of the country. However, the question of gay marriage, which is generally dominated by socially conservative, homophobic opinions, has gained prominence on the national scene. The country's sudden preoccupation with "moral values" can be translated into "conservative values," as DEmocrats are seen as being the value-less party.
Arizona's governor, Janet Napolitano, said: "We need a fresh reassessment of how we communicate with people. How did a party that has been out of power in Washington become tagged with the problems of Washington? How did a party that is filled with people with values - and I am a person with values - get tagged as the party without values?"
.
.Kerry's loss has, inevitably, created recriminations about a candidate that many Democrats had always viewed as stiff, and a campaign that was often criticized as slow-moving and unfocused.
.Democrats said that Kerry failed to provide a compelling message, gliding on the belief that Bush would defeat himself, and that the campaign was slow in responding to attacks on his war record by Vietnam veterans.
.And some Democrats, especially centrist ones, expressed concern that liberals would draw a mistaken lesson from the loss: that the Democratic Party needed to swing back to the left to energize Democratic base voters to counter the upsurge of conservative base voters on the right.
."That's not a recipe for winning," said Virginia's governor, Mark Warner, who is frequently mentioned by Democratic Party officials as a possible presidential contender in 2008. "That's a recipe for disaster."
.But the criticisms of Kerry were slight when compared with the scorn offered for Al Gore after he lost in 2000, or for Michael Dukakis after his defeat in 1988.
.And there was little sign, at least so far, of the kind of intraparty warring that typically grips losing political parties. Instead, in interviews with elected officials and party leaders across the country, Democrats were much more interested in talking about the future than this past year, reflecting what Stanley Greenberg, the Democratic pollster who advised Kerry and worked for Bill Clinton in 1992, sardonically described as the unifying power Bush has wielded over the typically fractious Democratic Party.
."People are determined to get this right," Greenberg said.
.Several party officials said what they were most concerned about was the extent to which Republicans had succeeded in presenting the Democratic Party as out of the cultural mainstream.
."I'm not saying that Kerry did anything wrong on this, but I think that we ignored in large measure the three big cultural issues of this election: guns, abortion and gay rights, epitomized by gay marriage," said Harold Ickes, a former senior adviser to Clinton who ran an independent political committee that sought to unseat Bush.
."I don't think we can not talk about this. These are very, very big issues. They really, really motivate people."
.Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm, said that to be competitive with Republicans, Democrats had to have a message that was "strong and strongly pro-work, pro-responsibility, pro-duty, pro-service, pro-child, pro-seniors."
."And not to be afraid of saying God," Granholm said. "And not to be afraid of saying that this is a country that is based upon faith."
.Party officials said they were concerned about evidence of a cultural gap between Democrats and much of the country. New Mexico's governor, Bill Richardson, said his dealings with Kerry and his advisers had vividly demonstrated to him the problems the party faces. "I remember being on a trip with him in New Mexico: I put a cowboy hat on Senator Kerry, and someone on his staff shuddered and asked me to stop," Richardson said. "This is I think an example of the East Coast not connecting with the West Coast and with the rest of the country."
.Democrats said their immediate concern was the 2006 Senate elections, when 17 Democratic incumbents are up, compared with 15 Republicans, giving Republicans an upper hand from the outset. Several of the Democrats are in nominally Democratic states where Bush made a strong showing, like New Mexico and Minnesota. The Republicans picked up 4 Senate seats on Tuesday, expanding their hold on the Senate to 55 to 45.
.The problem, some Democrats said, could be even more vexing in 2008, when there will be no incumbent president, leaving the race open on both sides. At this very early date, party officials said Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York senator, is best positioned to win the presidential nomination. But Democrats and some Republicans said Clinton was open to caricature by Republicans as the type of candidate that this election suggested was so damaging to the Democratic Party: a Northeastern, secular liberal.
.In addition to Clinton, two Democrats from this year - Senator John Edwards, Kerry's running mate, and Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor - are likely to move to wield influence. Both men are burdened by their own losses this year. And in one disadvantage for Edwards, several party officials said there would likely be renewed hesitancy to run a member of Congress for the presidency, given the White House's success had in undercutting Kerry's credibility because of votes he had cast.
.So the other Democrats mentioned as either high-profile leaders and possible presidential candidates are all governors; Warner, Richardson, Napolitano, as well as Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, Michael Easley of North Carolina and Rod Blagojevich of Illinois.
.Most of all, party leaders said the main challenge now was making a compelling case to voters to counter what they acknowledged was the clear message that Bush had made. Warner, reflecting what has been a theme of his governorship in Virginia, said Democrats should present themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility by attacking Republicans for growing deficits.
.Al From, who heads the Democratic Leadership Council, a group of moderate Democrats, said that the party made a mistake by spending too much time on getting out the vote and that the way to win an election was to come up with a message the way Clinton did in 1992. "A mobilization strategy, while important, is clearly not the most important thing. We need to persuade people who would otherwise vote for them to vote for us. And you do that with good ideas." THe International HErald Tribune article "Democrats confront identity crisis" http://iht.com/articles/2004/11/07/news/dems.html noted how the Republicans hold a "moral monopoly" in politics. The article quotes Janet Napolitano, the governor of Arizona as saying "We need a fresh reassessment of how we communicate with people. How did a party that has been out of power in Washington become tagged with the problems of Washington? How did a party that is filled with people with values - and I am a person with values - get tagged as the party without values?"
This article, though it could have benefitted from a more explicit link between Oklahoma's and the USA's homophobia, created a shocking look at how "morals" affect queer teenagers. Self esteem, self respect and identity are all negatively impacted when a queer youth is surrounded by so much hatred and intolerance.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

#10 Tell the truth, and you win?

The apparent inability of the Democratic Party to get its act together is beginning to fulfill the Republicans’ accusations of flip-flopping and weak leadership. Though we have seen some improvements recently in the “toughness factor” of John Kerry, America has already had “John Kerry= waffler” branded on our brains. The Democratic campaign has failed to rally behind Kerry and Kerry has failed to vigorously project an image that will wipe out the Republicans’ version of Kerry’s character. In fact, one of the main pieces of advice in Hardball was “let no attack go unanswered.” In this clash of candidates, forming an image through action and not words was not effective enough. When Kerry failed to respond to attacks, however much the truth deviated from the accusations, the American public perceived falsehoods to be true simply because they were not challenged. At this point, I think that Kerry’s image is permanently damaged. This doesn’t mean that he can’t win- but he will have to work much harder to regain a strong image. Evidence of his permanently tainted image is seen in the widespread lingering doubts about his character. Americans continue to harbor doubts about Kerry’s ability to make strong decisions and pursue a consistent course of action, though there is practically as much evidence to criticize Bush on the same grounds. However, Kerry seems to have no scruples with attacking Bush, as his entire campaign seems to focus almost exclusively on criticizing Bush. The mantra of the Democrats seems to be "anybody but bush" instead of "nobody but Kerry." But it does seem that Kerry has finally reacted to criticisms directed at him and defended himself as well as focussed on new proposals for policy as well as attacking Bush. Perhaps the debates gave him a chance to redeem himself because he could not just "preach to the choir." Previously, he was able to assume that his audience had already rejected criticisms against Kerry. With a mixed audience, Kerry was forced to try to convince every audience member that his record was strong and consistent. Bush, on the other hand, seemed stuck in the rut of "preaching to the choir," and strengthened the loyalty of his spporters but did not win over as many new supporters.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

#9 Poor Judgment at CBS

THough I do think that the lack of integrity and thouroughness in many of the nation's media networks is inexcusable and a serious issue, sometimes it seems that some people, especially conservatives, are more willing to point out the media's blunders than the president's blunders. A Bush supporter will certainly criticize CBS to no end because of their carelessness. However, so will most liberals- the facts are facts after all. However, when the facts prove that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, no pro-Bush conservative will say "all right, it was a mistake, but a valid one, and a lot of good has come out of Operation Iraqi Freedom." Yes, I know that the war in iraq is a much bigger decision and a much bigger mistake, and therefore it's much harder to admit a mistake concerning the war, but it almost seems that people crave feeling as though the media is conspiring against them. For conservatives, the liberal media distorts and lies (check out Rush Limbaugh) and for liberals, Clear Channel conspires and censors. Even though I may subscribe to the media conspiracy theory occasionally, I do try to be fair- I will not defend a clear mistake even if it's a "pro-liberal" mistake. It also seems that one isolated incident makes more news than systematic bias, such as in Fox News. Should cumulative bias shrink in significance compared to one mistake? I don't think so. In addition, who needs an editorial to tell them that CBS exercised poor judgement in using sketchy documents!?

#8 Rather Irrelevant

I found this article rather refreshing in that instead of emphasizing and exagerrating a liberal or conservative bias in the media it discusses the superficiality and arrogance of all media networks. The author, Anne Applebaum, seems to suggest that the news has come second to the creed of the network- networks are no longer sincerely pursuing the news, they are trying to "represent america" and win viewer loyalty. Perhaps the issues in the media are not flagrant biases as in "outfoxed" or reliance on faulty documents assome articles we read in class pointed out, but a simple neglect to provide the best news. The phony familiarity and self-importance characteristic of many networks are all efforts to create a personal and trusted network without actually being personal or trustworthy. Perhaps the most vehement critics of the media are also superficial and self important- many vocal anti-media quasi-celebrities such as Al Franken perhaps take their issues with the media too seriously(just a random question, i'm not sure how i would answer it myself). I'm pretty sure that Al Franken doesn't take himself too seriously as much as that he doesn't take anyone else (or rather, conservatives) seriously at all, but check out some of his material such as "Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot and other observations" at http://www.al-franken.com/. From a quick perusal of the website, I think I got his point. Roughly: "Republicans lie, and i can make them look pretty stupid"

Saturday, September 25, 2004

#7 Surviving the cruelest month

In this article, the author seems to try to make the point that the terrorists who attacked the WTC three years ago failed in their plan to “extinguish the hope and the trust of the citizens…they attack.” However, I find this opinion completely unsupported and infeasible. Though Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, claimed that the flexibility and resilience of the US economy aided its recovery from the terrorist attacks. I would have thought that the chairman of the Federal Reserve could read the writing on the wall; however resilient the economy may be, neither the economy nor American society survived September 11th unscathed. Rather, it seems that our economy is anything but thriving, and American society is dominated by the doctrine of fear. Instead of Greenspan’s words serving as “a wise guide through the September sorrows” as the author affirmed, I think that these words serve as an example of the administration’s consistent propaganda and attempts to paint a rosy picture of America. This “World View” article is not at all a world view, it is a self centered, naïve editorial on the nonexistent invulnerability of the American economy.

#6 A neglected obligation

Like many of the Washington Post’s editorials, this editorial deals with Native American Health care. This aspect of the healthcare debate is exceptionally complicated because it deals with an obligation which, though required by a treaty, few are willing to fulfill. Many Americans feel as though the American government should not be responsible for Native American struggles because we should not be obligated to recompense the mistakes of our ancestors. However, I think that it is high time that Americans and our government realize that we cannot push away this obligation ad infinitum, claiming that it is not our responsibility. It will only cease to be our responsibility after we have sufficiently dealt with the problem, and by the way things are looking now, that will not happen anytime soon. Republicans in the legislative executive branches have been ignoring a new version of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which expired in 2001. This blatant denial of the government’s responsibility to improve health care for Native Americans, who are much more likely to die from tuberculosis, diabetes and alcoholism than the general population, is unethical and unfounded. I think that our government’s lack of action on this issue is a reflection of the current administrations lack of concern with (racial) minority rights, and should be taken into account not as an individual failure but as one in a series of failures.

#5 Bush's game of risk

This article, which equated Bush’s stress on the idea of opportunity as a stress on “risk,” proposed that perhaps Bush is willing to expose the American public to so much risk because he has never had to suffer from the consequences from a failed risk. With the privilege and benefits from having a wealthy vice president as his father, Bush was nearly guaranteed a smooth path through life. When supporting actions that make Americans have to “fend for themselves” and be exposed to increased risk, Bush doesn’t care about or doesn’t comprehend the consequences that may be felt by those affected. And throughout all of this, Bush can deny that he is making life harder for many Americans because he can boast of the increased “opportunity” that many Americans have. However, though I agree with many of the author’s arguments, I find his initial premise faulty. I do not think that Bush equates risk with opportunity; rather, I think that he is just trying to downplay the risk while advertising the opportunity. Certainly many of his (and his party’s) actions have crated opportunity for some people- especially the wealthier. An American who does not need to rely on Medicare or Social Security as heavily as other Americans has the opportunity to increase the quality of his or her health care without suffering from higher taxes. However, this opportunity for the wealthy is a risk, or an insurmountable obstacle for other Americans. By emphasizing the opportunities created, Bush does not equate opportunity with risk, he simply ignores how limited and inconsistent the opportunities are.