Archive for the 'politics' Category
I need an explanation. Maybe I am just not getting it. Maybe I am insensitive. Maybe I just don’t understand. But I need an explanation. I need someone to explain to me what is at the root of the issue with the building of Park51, the muslim community center and mosque.
A man named Mike Lupica, who writes a column for the New York Daily News says, “Ground Zero mosque debate is about common sense, sensitivity to 9/11 vics, not religious freedom.” In this column, written August 16, he spends a lot of words chiding President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg for trying to tell the American people what is right and wrong and very little explaining his thesis. He quotes Bonnie McEneaney, a woman who lost a loved one on September 11th. She says, “The question isn’t about [first amendment rights]. The question is about sensitivity. To me, this is solely about sensitivity, the feelings of the friends and relatives who lost loved ones on 9/11.” Then, in his own words at the end of the piece, he says, “Everything Bloomberg and Barack Obama say about this sounds right. But if the only constituency that matters here – the ones left behind by the victims of Sept. 11 – think they’re wrong, they are.”
He has two points that I can read here: 1) The issue is about sensitivity to the victims’ families. 2) If the victims’ families do not want Park51 built, then it should not be built. In other words, they get to decide.
Newt Gingrich, via Twitter, refers us to a column by Charles Krauthammer at The Washington Post. Mr. Krauthammer, again, cites reasons of “common decency.” He uses the common tactic of comparing the situation to Pearl Harbor or the site of a Nazi concentration camp. But the argument boils down to the same thing. When comparing to Pearl Harbor he says, “…while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.” But he doesn’t say why. Why would that be offensive? I think it would be a useful mental exercise to put into words the answer to that question. Why would it be offensive to have a Japanese cultural center near Pearl Harbor? I want to hear the answer to that question.
What are the “profound reasons of common decency” that prevent the building of an islamic cultural center near the site of the attacks on September 11th, 2001? I would like to read those reasons articulated.
What I am hearing right now is a response something like, “if you don’t know now, I can’t explain it to you.” But I think the argument deserves a real explanation.
What is under the surface of the opposition is not just opposition to the building of Park51, but opposition to Islam; opposition to the muslim faith. What else can be read from the arguments? One has to guess what is meant because the arguments are not fully formed. The arguments are incomplete. There has to be a reason that building the community center is offensive. What is that reason?
I am more than willing to have an open discussion with anyone who is interested. I want to know the answers to my questions. This is more about understanding the opposition to the project for me than entering into a debate about whether or not Park51 should be built. Because, I think that the First Amendment rights extended to all Americans are indisputable.
House Republican John Boehner says: “This is not an issue of law, whether religious freedom or local zoning. This is a basic issue of respect for a tragic moment in our history.” This skirts the issue again. He’s depending on people to just agree with him or not ask him any questions. Here’s the question: How does that respect look? (I assume by not building the community center.) Then the question is: Why does respect for that tragic moment in our history have to involve not building a mosque?
The Republican Whip, Eric Cantor said, “I think it is the height of insensitivity, and unreasonableness to allow for the construction of a mosque on the site of the World Trade Center bombings. I mean, come on.” Why is it insensitive or unreasonable? Please answer. I want to hear the reason.No comments
In response to a piece in the Independent by Johann Hari: Johann Hari: Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason
There are three things that stick out to me from this piece:
- The right seems more bent on opposing Obama than supporting their own self interest. How does this happen? I feel that I am a liberal who pretty much opposed most of what Bush supported but I don’t think I was so blinded to oppose even the things that made good sense and I could agree with. I mean, I didn’t support the war but I do believe that the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. But that’s only one thing. The Right here seems bat-crazy. I have a hard time understanding it. Actually, I think it goes back to Reagan. I can even remember my middle-school self feeling that the “defeat” of communism in the late 80s allowed a somewhat unfair rhetoric to emerge. It went like this: communism and socialism does not work and Democracy and Capitalism does (and, by the way, communism is inherently evil). So, to the Reagan-loving right (he is their God) this feeling lives on. Never mind that “socialism” could keep you healthy and fight against the profit-driven insurance companies. It’s supposedly Wrong.
- Arianna Huffington’s quote is pretty right on. She said, “It is as though, at the height of the civil rights movement, you thought you had to bring together Martin Luther King and George Wallace and make them agree. It’s not how change happens.” There is a perceived inherent virtue in bi-partisanship in Washington. Why is this? What should people whom others think are incorrect have their say? Especially when one party has the executive and both houses of congress? This seems like an opportunityto make change happen. Why waste this opportunity in the effort to find consensus?
- The one paragraph on faith is such an over-arching statement that it would warrant an article of its own. I don’t think that the author should have included this in the article becauseit is such a major generalization and he simply wants to discredit all people of faith. Wow. Nice try though.
I got this “Benefit Update Rider” from my health insurance company last week. They are willing to recognize same-sex marriage as long as the jurisdiction recognizes it. They can adapt, why can’t everyone adapt?No comments
Cheers to Vermont and Iowa (with a belated shame-on-you to California)! Like Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, says in this NYTimes article, “Contrary to the claims made by the opponents of equality, it’s not just judges, it’s not just the coasts, and it’s not just going away.” It is not going away. We can’t ignore this issue or hope that it will go away any longer. Nor can we infringe upon civil rights by banning same-sex marriage.
This issue is just another link in the long chain of civil rights changes that our country has gone through, is going through, and will go through. This one just happens to be the one we’re dealing with now. We’ve abolished slavery, given all citizens a right to vote (both for all colors and sexes), and now we are working through this one. Same sex marriage will be allowed in all states in our country eventually; that, I believe, is inevitable. Those who are trying to stop it will eventually lose this battle. Those who wished to continue slavery lost their battle. Those who wished to prevent blacks form voting lost their battle. Those that wished to prevent women from voting lost their battle. Those that wish to prevent same-sex marriage will lose their battle.
What is the argument against? It is that allowing same-sex marriage will harm the institution of marriage. That, somehow, that institution is threatened. The National Organization for Marriage says on it’s website:
“Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who. That is just not right.”
This is simply a non-answer. “That is just not right”? What is? Please explain.
NOM has launched an ad campaign that you can read about (and see an ad) here. Naturally it’s playing the “fear” card and trying to induce behavior by making people scared. There were statements to the affect of “they want to take away my freedom” but with no explanation how or what that even means. Again, this is a non-argument.
The argument (at least purported by NOM) is that we don’t want gay marriage because our faith tells us that marriage is between a man and a women. But it stops there. Why is that important? What harm will same-sex marriages cause to anyone else? Isn’t this just a metaphysics issue?
Let’s start to build a list of people who will eventually lose their battle:
- Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage
- “Euripides” who runs the blog “Self Evident Truths“
I would like to call for an end to the use of the term “czar” in our political discourse. I have been hearing on the news lately about the possibility of appointing a “car czar” and that is what spurs this message.
As we well know (from reading wikipedia), Tsar is a term referring to a monarch in Bulgarian, Serbian, and Russian histories.
Our country was built upon the struggle against monarchy and I feel that the use of the term “czar” should be very out of place in the American political discourse.
Let us not let the tendency of the national news media to employ the use of buzzwords and soundbites influence the way we talk about our own government, let’s put an end to it.
I fully realize that this is not an issue of utmost importance but I do think it is important to think about the ways we talk about our government and I don’t think terms such as “czar” belong in that discussion, when referring to one of our own government posts.No comments
On Monday, November 17 there was a community meeting of the 94th precinct in Greenpoint. There was a large attendance and I went as well. Here’s a link to some notes on the meeting. We are going to have a subsequent meeting with Captain Fulton at some point in the next couple of weeks.No comments
Whoever said that news had to be fair and balanced? I understand fair but I do not understand balance. Is that a central tenet of journalism? According to Wikipedia:
Grade the News, an American website, identified seven yardsticks on the basis of which it judges the standards of some local media houses’ news quality. These yardsticks are newsworthiness, context, explanation, local relevance, civic contribution, enterprise and fairness.
Here’s are three standards of journalism that Wikipedia reports as a professional and ethical ones:
- Find and report every side of a story possible;
- Report without bias, illustrating many aspects of a conflict rather than siding with one;
- Approach researching and reporting a story with a balance between objectivity and skepticism.
So, there’s that word, “balance.” But it is not in reference to finding balance between the two sides of a story. Also, is the requirement to be unbiased, stating that all sides of the story must be reported on. That, however, does not imply that all sides of the story are equally valid or equally correct. Just that they exist.
“Balance,” on the other hand implies that both sides of the story are equal. But, they are equal only in that they must both be reported on, not that they both hold equal importance, value, or correctness.
Where am I going with this? I think you can guess. Fox News prides itself on being “Fair and Balanced.” Also, many conservatives in the US complain about the media being biased towards Obama and the left. They complain that the news isn’t being balanced enough. A site called OneNewsNow asks in an article headline, “News media in bed with Obama?” (This tactic, by the way, is somehow acceptable. The idea that because there is a question mark at the end of the headline makes it unbiased, is backhanded and sneaky. Of course, that headline without the question mark would be biased. But this one isn’t.) In the article, it reads:
An analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that 57 percent of the print and broadcast stories about John McCain since the political conventions were decidedly negative, while only 14 percent were positive. The study concludes that 29 percent of the mainstream media’s coverage of Barack Obama was negative.
Who got the idea that fair (and balanced) means that there must be equal percentages of positive and negative reporting done on “both sides of the story,” or in this case, both opposing candidates? This is just ludicrous and delusional. How is it possible that McCain and Obama would happen do and say the equal percentage of things that could be reported on as positive and negative.
I am going to make an example but I don’t want to draw comparisons to either of the candidates. I just want to show an example why the news cannot and should not be balanced.
Take a simplified murder case. There is a shooting in a neighborhood where there are two people involved in a fight, guns are drawn, shots are fired, and an innocent 6-year-old girl is shot dead. Assume these are the facts of the case and cannot be disputed. Now, how is it possible that all sides of this story are balanced? Would Fox News ask us to report equally positively and negatively on the participants of the fight and the innocent bystander? Is there any way that we could find as many negative things to say about the young dead girl as we could about the shooter? If there is, please let me know. We can report on all of the facts of this case, but there is no way that we could report that the girl is equally as “negative” as her killer. In some (most) cases, that would be impossible.
This is a mathematical approach to proof. If we can show one case where where being “balanced” is impossible, then there is no was to assert that all reports must be balanced. Therefore we cannot ask reporting on anything, including the presidential race to be balanced in that way.
So, to all the complainers, drop this idea that news needs to be balanced.1 comment
Today, my friend Dan Ledger sent me a link to an interview with DMX at XXL Mag. There’s a portion of it that’s about the presidential race and Barack Obama in particular. It’s pretty amazing:
Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.
You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!
Barack Obama, yeah.
What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?
Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.
You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.
I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black…
Wow, Barack! The nigga’s name is Barack. Barack? Nigga named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his fuckin’ name. Ima tell this nigga when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack.
So you’re not following the race. You can’t vote right?
Is that why you’re not following it?
No, because it’s just—it doesn’t matter. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do. It doesn’t really make a difference. These are the last years.
But it would be pretty big if we had a first Black president. That would be huge.
I mean, I guess…. What, they gon’ give a dog a bone? There you go. Ooh, we have a Black president now. They should’ve done that shit a long time ago, we wouldn’t be in the fuckin’ position we in now. With world war coming up right now. They done fucked this shit up then give it to the Black people, “Here you take it. Take my mess.”
It’s all a fuckin’ setup. It’s all a setup. All fuckin’ bullshit. All bullshit. I don’t give a fuck about none of that.
We could have a female president also, Hillary Clinton.
I mean, either way it doesn’t matter. I don’t care. No one person is directly affected by which president, you know, so what does it matter.
Yeah, but the country is.
I guess. The president is a puppet anyway. The president don’t make no damn decisions.
The president…they don’t have that much authority basically?
But Bush pretty much…
You think Bush is making fuckin’ decisions?
He did, yeah, he fucked up the country.
He act like he making decisions. He could barely speak! He could barely fuckin’ speak!
Can’t be serious. He ain’t making no damn decisions.
Well Barack has a good chance of winning so that might be something.
Good for him, good for him.
How’s your family and your kids?
They’re good. My son is rapping now.
And, now for a picture of me and my beard at work on April 1!!