Why We Don’t Believe Conservative Criticism of the News, Or Conservative News

Townhall has an article entitled Why We Don’t Believe You which gives the conservative case for not believing the news. No need to read it all. The real reason is not that the media makes mistakes from time to time, but that conservatives don’t believe those who don’t accept their fictitious world view. They include the so-called Reuter-gate affair in which a freelancer photographer was fired by Reuters for photoshopping photos. Biased report, and the photographer was fired–hardly an argument to never trust the news media.

While liberals are also critical of the mainstream media, there is a major difference. Liberals criticize the media because we want it to do a better job of getting out the truth. Conservatives attack the media in an attempt to prevent them from revealing the truth.

I’m speaking of the real news media here–not the fake news outlets used by the right wing noise machine to spread their propaganda. Pravda wannabees like Fox News are not news outlets. We could go on much longer as to why we don’t believe them. For starters I’ve reprinted some posts below the fold, including some of their slips showing whose side Fox is really on. As this is a topic I’ve written on numerous times, to keep this at a readable number of posts I limited this to previous posts at Light Up the Darkness from 2005.

Emmy Night

The Emmy Awards are coming up tonight. Even though it was greater during the Sorkin years, I’m rooting for The West Wing to go out with some major awards. Its a shame that the Lauren Graham Rule didn’t do enough. Some deserving shows and individuals are not going to be recognized tonight.

I’ve already reposted some of my old blog posts on Gilmore Girls and several science fiction shows. To get in the mood for the Emmys I’ll add some other old television posts, including The West Wing, 24, and Alias, below the fold.

UPDATE: Alan Alda wins as Arnold Vinick


Jennifer Loven Continues Reporting on George Bush

AP reporter Jennifer Loven reports that Bush visited the family home at Kennebunkport. and was greated by about 700 protesters:

What local police estimated were about 700 anti-war demonstrators marched Saturday to within half a mile of the Bush compound before being turned back at a security checkpoint. Called Walker’s Point after the family of former President Bush’s mother, the stone-and-shingle retreat covering a craggy promontory is owned by the current president’s parents.

The protesters sang, chanted, beat drums, waved signs and even played fiddles to call on Bush to bring troops home.

“Bush is fiddling while the world burns, just as Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” said Pippa Stanley, 15, of Richmond, Maine, who was helping with the backdrop for pair of fiddlers dressed in togas.

The group was loosely aligned with activist Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq who gained international attention when she shadowed Bush last summer while he vacationed at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll this month found that only about one-third of Americans support Bush’s handling of Iraq.

Seeing a protest against George Bush was interesting but I didn’t plan on a blog post until I noted the author. I had a previous post on Jennifer Loven in March (reprinted under the fold) commending her for exposing the dishonest rhetoric common in Bush’s speeches.

Loven came under attack by the right wing in response to this article. She also has a previous history of exposing George Bush, including this report which reviewed hundreds of pages of documents released by the White House on Bush’s National Guard record noting “the records provided no evidence Bush served in Alabama.”

Reefer Madness–Learning From the Dutch

John Tierney is traveling in Amsterdam, giving him an opportunity to compare American policy to Dutch policy. Tierney doesn’t feel that the American drug czars understand the advantages to the more liberal Dutch policy:

The czars have preferred to criticize from afar. In the past, they’ve called Dutch drug policy “an unmitigated disaster,” bemoaning Amsterdam’s “stoned zombies” and its streets cluttered with “junkies.” Anti-pot passion has only increased in the Bush administration, which has made it a priority to combat marijuana.

More than half a million Americans are arrested annually for possessing it. The Bush administration can’t even abide it being used for medical purposes by the terminally ill. Why risk having any of it fall into the hands of young people who could turn into potheads, crack addicts and junkies?

But if America’s drug warriors came here, they would learn something even if they didn’t sample any of the dozens of varieties of marijuana sold legally in specially licensed coffee shops. They could see that the patrons puffing on joints generally don’t look any more zombielike than the crowd at an American bar — or, for that matter, a Congressional subcommittee listening to a lecture on the evils of marijuana.

And if they talked to Peter Cohen, a Dutch researcher who has been studying drug use for a quarter-century, they would discover something even more disorienting. Even though marijuana has been widely available since the 1970’s, enough to corrupt a couple of generations, the Netherlands has not succumbed to reefer madness.

More stories on Marijuana under the fold.


Big Pharma Thanks Congressmen For Their Corporate Welfare

As I’ve said many times, Bush’s Medicare drug plan was a reward to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries for all the money they’ve donated to the Republican Party. The pharmaceutical companies now receive payment in full through the new program to replace discounted payments they had to accept from Medicaid programs in the past, while insurance companies are subsidized for providing inefficient Medicare HMO programs.

If given a huge money making benefit like this, it is only polite for the pharmaceutical companies to send a thank you note. This thank you note was in the form of a multi-million dollar ad campaign. While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce officially takes credit for the ad campaign praising lawmakers for supporting the program, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America actually has footed the bill.

Update: I know more places are linking to blog posts, but was surprised upon checking the stat counter to find that even sites such as this include blog posts along with investment information on companies.

Related stories under the fold.


Republican Staffers Looking For New Jobs

The Evans-Novack Political Report notes that, while Republicans did get a bounce in some recent polls, “if the election were held today, the GOP would probably lose 26 seats and their congressional majority.” Republicans are worried:

There is still time left, but the buzz on the Hill is that many Republican staffers — including those working for safe members — are seeking employment elsewhere, dreading the miserable possibility of life in the congressional minority.

We shouldn’t get overly optimistic, as many were before the 2004 election:

The big X-factor is the Republicans’ vaunted micro-targeting turnout program, which is light-years ahead of anything the almost non-existent Democratic National Committee will be able to put together this year. The GOP turnout program produced a minor miracle in 2004, as new Republican voters showed up in droves.

In 2004 Republicans got out more voters from the ex-burbs and the religious right, especially in key states such as Ohio. The difference between 2004 and today is that Iraq has become a negative for voters, and the right wing social issues are not attracting the same interest as in the past. Previous posts on the changing attitudes on the wedge issues are under the fold.

The Demographics of Liberal Thought

The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed on The Fertility Gap today. While this article concentrates on the United States, this is actually a world wide phenomenon. I discussed this fertility gap back in March in a post at The Democratic Daily following a story in Foreign Policy:

Phillip Longman has a cover story in Foreign Policy magazine on the differences in fertility between liberals and conservatives world wide. His findings were also reviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition and in USA Today.

Longman reports findings such as that Utah has the highest fertility rate in the nation with 92 children born each year for every 1,000 women. In comparison, liberal Vermont has the nation’s lowest rate with 51 children per 1,000 women. Similarly, around the United States and Europe those with liberal views are more likely to have smaller families, or possibly never reproduce. He believes this is responsible for the drift towards the right in the United States. The average fertility rate is more than 11% higher in states which voted for Bush as opposed to Kerry.

Longman fears the long term consequences of a world populated by a greater percentage of those raised with conservative values:

Tomorrow’s children, therefore, unlike members of the postwar baby boom generation, will be for the most part descendants of a comparatively narrow and culturally conservative segment of society. To be sure, some members of the rising generation may reject their parents’ values, as often happens. But when they look for fellow secularists with whom to make common cause, they will find that most of their would-be fellow travelers were quite literally never born.

Considering how much harm this country has suffered in just over five years of a Bush presidency, there certainly is cause for alarm. We will undoubtedly continue to have periods in which we move backwards, but I still believe that the overall trend will continue to move forwards. While I may have only raised one daughter, my bet is that she, and others like her, will have far more impact on the world than children spoon fed conservative dogma. The ability of conservatives to regurgitate right wing talking points, and even cut and paste them all over the blogosphere, is no match for the ability to think.

Despite all the obstacles, the overall trend has been for liberty to win out over tyranny and reason to be victorious over superstition. I doubt that even the Republican Party’s recent embrace of authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism will be enough to stop the course of history. While they will have victories, and even additional periods of dominance, if the Republican Party remains a foe of liberty it will wind up in the dust bin of history.

Facing Reality on Ohio

Some bloggers are willing to suspend all critical thought to accept any theory that Ohio was stolen, regardless of the validity of the argument and regardless of what the actual evidence shows. Russell Shaw discusses this at Huffington Post with a quote from Tom Hayden:

And to the bloggers, I say stick to standards of evidence that will convince the mainstream voters. Sometimes we stray from what we know, and what can be proven to the public, into the world of, well, conjecture. We cannot fight against a faith-based crusade with one that sometimes appears to be fantasy-based. We cannot fight the conservative model with a conspiracy model. The facts are staggering enough to cause deep public questioning and, in time, a radical public awakening. We should see ourselves as the questioning conscience of the nation, the prod to deeper digging by the media, the force that pushes politicians to address all the “inconvenient truths”, every last one of them.

Many of the claims of fraud have been refuted by liberals including Mother Jones, Salon, The Nation, and Jimmy Carter. There are real problems which need to be addressed, but screaming “Ohio was stolen” based upon poor evidence makes reform less likely. Accepting every claim of fraud creates multiple problems:

  • Some charges appear valid while some do not. Accepting all, even those with flimsy evidence, makes objective observers less likely to believe any of the charges
  • Concentrating on the belief that votes were “stolen” after the vote distracts from the real problem of Republicans stacking the system in their favor by various methods of voter suppression which reduce Democratic votes.
  • The belief that one’s vote will not be counted results in some Democrats being reluctant to campaign or vote, unintentionally helping the Republican voter suppression efforts.
  • Denial of the fact that Republicans won partially due to mobilizing voters such as residents of the exburbs and the religious right keeps Democrats from responding to these challenges
  • Promoting the weaker arguments undermines the claim of Democrats to be the “reality based” community on issues such as Iraq, national security, intelligent design, and stem cell research.
  • Claims based uoon theft of the 2004 election will appeal to Democrats but turn off Republicans. Bipartisan support is needed to achieve change. Fair minded independents are Republicans who desire honest elections are more likely to support change if this is argued baaed upon the principles of fairness and not disputing the 2004 election
  • For Kerry supporters this creates the additional problem of John Kerry being unfairly attacked for failing to fight a stolen election. If no evidence which would hold up in court of theft could be established to date, it was certainly not possible for Kerry to prove theft in the narrow window between election day and the counting of the electoral votes

In a democracy it is essential that all parties accept the result of elections as valid. The fact that, under the current system, it is not possible to verify the results to everyone’s satisfaction is sufficient to argue for changes in the voting machines, including a paper trail. Going beyond this and claiming fraud which cannot be proven acts to undermine the argument.

This issue gained more publicity after Robert Kennedy, Jr. wrote an article for Rolling Stone on election reform which was ultimatley a great disappointment due to promoting many weak and previously disputed arguments along with real arguments for election reform. My previous posts related to to this article are below the fold.

Sci Fi Friday: Star Trek’s George Takai on the Political Climate

Star Trek was started in the 1960’s as a way for Gene Roddenberry to sneak discussions of political issues past the networks. Fortunately political issues are discussed more openly now. TrekToday reports on a recent interview with George Takai (Mr. Sulu). Takai has been in the news recently after revealling that he is gay, but he also has some comments on today’s political climate:

“I’m a Japanese-American. I grew up behind US barbed-wire fences,” Takei told Foley. “We were first taken to the horse stables of Santa Anita Race Track, because the camps weren’t built yet. And then when the camps were built, they transported us two-thirds of the way across the county to the swamps of Arkansas…and why were we incarcerated? There were no trials. There were no attorneys. There was no due process. Simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Yes, I know about racial profiling. And this administration has used fear to terrorize America. Yes, they are the ones who are terrorizing America. There are decent people who just happened to look like the ones who committed that terrible act on September 11, 2001, and they are being profiled and subjected to all these indignities.”

“You know, this administration came out with what they call the ‘Patriot Act’ which is the most disgusting name for an ‘Act’ that is so un-American,” the actor added. “I mean, due process and civil liberties have gone out the window. And this administration continues to tell us that we are terrorized. There are better ways do deal with this. Look at Britain. They caught the people before it happened. Intelligence is what’s really important.”

“And do you know what they are doing in this country? [The Military] are kicking out Arabic-speaking gay intelligence workers, just because they are gay! What is more important? National security or homophobia? In this administration, it’s clearly homophobia and not national security. This administration has it all wrong.”

A Fox News reporter noted that Takei seemed very passionate about this subject and asked him what he thought was the answer. “Britain has demonstrated that they can do it. Have good intelligence! By firing Arabic speaking intelligence officers, that is not the way to do it…look at the failure we have in Iraq. It is a disaster. Look at the incompetence we had in dealing with Katrina. In case after case, this administration has been the greatest threat to America.”

A recent post has another story on Takai under the fold. Additional Star Trek stories are reposted below.

Dick DeVos Shows Lack of Respect for Coast Guard; Blasted by Grand Haven Tribune

Dick DeVos, who has lost his lead over Jennifer Granholm, was the target of an editorial in the Grand Haven Tribune. Every year Grand Haven has a parade to honor the United States Coast Guard. This year Dick DeVos used the event to campaign, even after his request to be present was denied by the festival organizers:

But it’s still the Coast Guard Festival and we shouldn’t forget about the intent of the celebration.

That’s why we find it upsetting that some candidates for political offices felt the need to campaign in Grand Haven during the festival.

Gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos and U.S. Senate candidate Mike Bouchard, both Republicans, were two candidates who were in town during the festival stumping for votes.

DeVos representatives, in fact, had asked if they could participate in the Grand Parade.

Festival Director Michael Smith denied them permission. The festival’s policy is that any candidate seeking office can’t be part of the parade. Incumbents are allowed to participate in the parade.

DeVos’ people found a way to circumvent the rule by walking the parade route prior to the parade. DeVos worked the crowd like any good politician would.

We believe that DeVos’ appearance at the parade was inappropriate. He should have found another time to visit our city.

The festival should be void of politics. We’re honoring the men and women of the Coast Guard – not people seeking political office.

Recent posts on Dick DeVos here and here. Two years ago supporters of John Kerry were given permission to appear in the Coast Guard Parade and entered a float of John Kerry’s swift boat to honor the Coast Guard. My report, along with a photograph (which had also been included on the official Kerry campaign blog), is below the fold.