Monday, November 16, 2009

On Hatred

The recent killings at Fort Hood, Texas are being cast as an aberrational act by a disturbed individual. Americans are urged to restrain from characterizing the perpetrator, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, in a negative light.

I think it should cause us to take a look at something else: Hatred.

Hatred impacts our daily lives. If you are a parent, you might remember taking some disciplinary action with a petulant child and the child retaliating with, “I hate you!” In our entertainment media, we see people infused with hate and watch their actions for enjoyment. The Star Wars movies dealt with hate and how it can take us to “the dark side of the Force.” To its credit, our entertainment industry generally teaches us that hate is not a good thing.

That is not true elsewhere.

Around the world, you don’t see attempts to restrict or reduce hate. We might have a “war against hunger” or a “fight to end poverty”, but we don’t see a battle against hate.

It is because hate is a staple of religion and politics throughout the world.

In Christianity, hate is directed at an abstract concept: The Devil. You are taught to fear and fight the temptations of The Devil. In other religions, the same idea is employed: Satan is that entity against whom you fight for salvation.

What’s the problem with this? It comes when the concept of Satan is transferred from an abstraction to human form. This is where politics comes in. Political leaders are happy to redirect your fight against Satan to a fight against “The Great Satan.” The fight is no longer an abstraction. It becomes a fight against people of the Jewish faith, Americans, or apostates in general.

When Religion and Politics intersect, and religious fervor energizes political goals, you feel the seduction of hatred in all its power. The zenith comes when the intensity of hate reaches that point where an individual is willing to die in pursuit of the death of others. The “suicide bomber” becomes emblematic of religious faith being driven by political ambitions. Hatred and the promise of glory in the afterlife are transformed into engines of destruction.

Hatred is legitimized in religion and celebrated in politics, but is this the right direction for human progress? Think back to Howard Dean energizing his supporters during the 2004 Democratic Primaries. At political rallies, he would shout, “I hate Republicans!” and his followers would cheer.

In America, we sometimes become aware of the intensity of political hatred when scorn and derision are used to fan the intensity of political debate. When we see these emotions carried to the extreme, it should cause us to pause.

We should stop for a moment and reflect…on hatred.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Opinion vs. News

The Denver Post had a news story on November 10 with the headline “Heat is on Colorado climate-change guru.” The subhead to the piece was “Conservatives criticize Gov. Ritter adviser Alice Madden for also working for a liberal group.”

The Denver Post has a single quote from Jessica Corry, a “conservative political analyst” who doesn’t like that Colorado State Climate Change Coordinator Alice Madden receives $3,000 a month from the Center for American Progress (CAP) while she advises our Governor on state policy.

Aside from the paragraph with this quote, the rest of the news story is a narrative explaining why this arrangement is “right and natural” and good for the state of Colorado. It brings to mind the technique used by Attorney General Jerry Brown to address the climate change issue in California.

That was Tuesday. Today (Thursday) the Opinion Section of the Denver Post has a letter from Ms. Madden, saying that she has “…notified CAP that I am withdrawing from the fellowship program effective immediately.”

So everything turns out for the good! A close adviser to our Governor no longer has “an appearance of potential conflict.”

That is true, but the coverage of the incident is what is important. It is another example of the infrastructure bias in our newspapers. The “News” coverage explains why the situation is good for Colorado, characterizing Ms. Madden as a devoted public servant being attacked by a Conservative. The “Opinion” section is where the facts of the situation are weighed and the eventual resolution is published.

If you are in a country where characterizations are “News” and facts are “Opinion”, you might honestly question if there is cultural bias in place.

Welcome to my blog.

UPDATE 9/19/2011:
Jon Caldara at People's Press Collective highlights Dr. Paul Prentice's comments on this phenomenon at the Colorado Springs Gazette.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day!

It is November 11, and it’s the day Americans celebrate veterans of the United States military.

I want to recognize that fact, but in a slightly different way. My good wishes go out to combat veterans; veterans who have performed military duty while in harm’s way.

There is a special understanding of war that comes to these people. No matter what motivates one to join the armed services, combat changes that motivation. You might have a sense of patriotism, a desire for glory, or a need to prove yourself, but when the shooting starts, things change.

The first realization that comes is that you are being used. It might be your commanding officer looking for a promotion, or a politician brandishing power, but you find yourself to be a pawn in a bigger game than you first realized. Your life is at stake for someone else’s personal gain.

The second realization is that war is random. Your training only takes you so far. You also need a bit of luck. Some might attach a divine interpretation to this situation, but it comes down to a randomness that we just don’t understand. You end up taking on behaviors and accoutrements that preserve your luck, and you unabashedly use them.

The third realization is that you deal with it. Going on a mission with the knowledge that you might be dead within the next 24 hours is a type of torment most people don’t have to endure. You agonize over the ramifications of what you are doing: the toll on your loved ones; the integrity of your unit. You deal with the big question: Is it worth it?

And then you reconcile.

You do it because it is your duty. You have personal honor, and you will not give that up. You set your resolve and go.

For those of you who have lived these words, know that my thoughts are with you this Veteran's Day. You have my deepest respect, and I wish you Godspeed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Yesterday I received an e-mail from Michael Tupper, promoting the candidacy of Troy Stanley in the 4th Congressional District in Florida.

The 4th CD is in northern Florida and stretches from Jacksonville on the east to Tallahassee (the state capitol) on the west. It borders Georgia on the north and is essentially a rural district with a major military influence (Navy Jax).

Mr. Stanley is using a bicycle to make his campaign statement. He is going to ride across the district next month, just before Pearl Harbor Day. His point is that he wants to “oust recycled politicians.” The specific politician in question is incumbent Republican Representative Ander Crenshaw, who amongst other things does not support offshore drilling in Florida. Mr. Stanley hopes to bring a fresh Republican philosophy to the race.

In Colorado, we had campaigns for Mayor of the City and County of Denver that had this style. The current Mayor, John W. Hickenlooper, campaigned on a Vespa motor scooter, showing that he was close to the city in more ways than one. The former Mayor, Wellington Webb, had a “Sneaker Campaign”, where he walked the neighborhoods of Denver to show that he too was a close part of the city.

It is a tried-and-true technique, and it is good to see a Republican candidate set aside the Party paraphernalia and reach out directly to the people. We will have to see if this will bring success!

The events in the New York 23rd CD have encouraged Republicans to appeal more directly to the voters. In New York, the person selected by the GOP in CD23 ended up suspending her campaign and throwing support to the Democratic Party candidate. Republicans got a strong message that something needs to be done.

We’ve got a culture in our country that makes the going tough. Our schools teach anti-Republican history and our entertainment industry enjoys using anti-Republican characterizations. When even the GOP fails us, it is good to see that there are still Republicans with the gumption to take on the challenges of running for public office.

Troy Stanley has an interesting story, and could use our support.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Seven Words That Cannot Be Spoken

The Power and Authority of the Democratic Party.

There, I’ve said the seven words. It’s a phrase, actually, not like the seven “dirty” words that the late comedian George Carlin immortalized. And I guess I have written them, not spoken them, but let’s not “split hairs.”

Rahm Emanuel, our White House Chief of Staff, gives a perfect example of avoiding the use of the seven words when he says, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” He explains the remark in this YouTube video, but most of us understand what he meant to say: “Never miss an opportunity to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party.”

Another example is the career that Al Gore has made over variations in the earth’s climate. The former Vice President uses the “crisis” of global warming to advance the power and authority of the Democratic Party, and positions himself to increase his wealth at the same time. While the idea of “fighting climate change” is a strong Democratic Party value, Mr. Gore will never say that what he is doing is designed to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party. You have to note the synergy between his wealth and the Democratic Party and “connect the dots.”

Our President deals with the “crisis” issue on several fronts. In the area of foreign policy, he has been accused by a prominent Republican of “dithering over Afghanistan.” He seems torn over whether to call it a “good war” or a “bad war”; whether to consider it as a “war of necessity” or a “war of choice”; whether it is a war worth dying for…or not.

What is actually going on is that he is working the political calculus of how to use the war to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party. It is another “crisis” to be exploited for that purpose. When his actions pose the least risk to the power and authority of the Democratic Party, he will take a firm position.

In domestic policy, the President is concerned over the state of the economy and the state of healthcare insurance programs. Whether or not his policies improve the economy or improve healthcare, we can know one thing with certainty: His policies will increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party.

Why not just come out and explain to Americans what is going on?

If that happened, politics would not be any fun!

UPDATE 11/12/2009:
The New York Times has a story this morning about Peter Galbraith standing to make $100,000,000.00 as a result of oil dealings in Kurdistan.  There is no mention of the political party to which Mr. Galbraith belongs, or any specific mention of "blood for oil."  Rather, there is a reference to the fact that he "...helped shape the views of policy makers like Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and John Kerry".

$100,000,000.00 is a significant amount of money.  It is indicative of the rewards that come to those who work to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party.

UPDATE 1/13/2011:
James Taranto's column yesterday at Best of the Web Today gives perspective to the idea of using tragic events for political gain.  Rahm Emanuel's maxim to "never allow a good crisis to go to waste" is discussed from the perspective of Jonathan Alter's comments in Newsweek.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Senator Boxer Presides

The Denver Post ran a story this morning with the headline, “Global climate-treaty ambitions downsized.” It is an Associated Press story, and included this photograph by AP photographer Harry Hamburg:

The photo is of Senator Barbara Boxer at a meeting of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, taken from above and behind. The caption under the photo is, “Sen. Barbara Boxer presides Thursday over the Environment and Public Works Committee on Capitol Hill as the panel pushed along an emissions bill, despite a GOP boycott.” The impression is that Senator Boxer is working hard as she chairs her committee.

Compare this photo to one of the same committee at Michelle Malkin’s Web site:

This picture shows Senator Boxer presiding over a meeting of the Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday, 11/03/2009, with nobody in attendance. Michelle makes the point that bipartisanship is not a part of Senator Boxer’s committee. The AP photo alludes to this by stating at the end of its caption, “…despite a GOP boycott.”

Which picture is contrived, and which reflects reality? One fosters an impression of a hardworking Senator. The other conveys an impression of a Senator posturing and wasting time.

I think Michelle’s post might give a more accurate impression of the work being done in the EPW Committee. The Denver Post could have highlighted the divisive nature of the proceedings, but chose not to. It presents a picture of a dedicated Senate leader, working to cure world climate problems.

It gives one a sense of “The Narrative” in our anti-Republican culture.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"V" The Television Series

The Denver Post published an interview with Jon Caldara this morning. Mr. Caldara is the head of The Independence Institute, a free market think tank located in Golden, Colorado.

The interview takes place at a local tavern, and Mr. Caldara does a good job of destroying any stereotypes you have about him being an uptight Republican. The interview (with Denver Post writer Bill Husted) is fun and engaging.

The interview brings to mind a controversy that has emerged in our entertainment industry. It is over the ABC TV series “V”.

The series tells a story about a visit to earth by extraterrestrials who say they are here to help us. Political pundits think there might be (gasp!) something suspicious going on with the script writers.

The series shows the universal appeal of the “here to help you” sales pitch. It is the same marketing technique that compels us to click on a link to a Web site because it has been noticed that our computer is “running slowly” or has “become infected”. If we just click on that link (or double-click on the e-mail attachment) all will be well.

But BEWARE! Things are not always as they seem.

The controversy with “V” is over whether this effect (things not being as they seem) is also delivering a subtle political message. The aliens are pitching universal healthcare to the earth’s inhabitants and this causes viewers to reflect on current political issues.

Unfortunately, it also breaks the spell of the series. We see a dissonance between the fantasy of the show and the reality of our lives. We end up comparing the sales pitch being offered by the aliens to the sales pitch being offered by our political leaders.

Substitute a “him” for the message delivered by “them” and note the similarities:

He will save us from global warming.
He will save us from Mideast turmoil.
He will save us from economic distress.
He will save us from world opinion.

As last year's national election proves, the marketing technique is pretty effective.

Will it work for the aliens? We will have to stay tuned.

In “real” America, we get to watch a political sales pitch encourage us to give up control of our lives in favor of control by a higher (governmental) power.

I sense a kind of religious appeal.  But that’s another story.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Arctic Fox

Today is Election Day, and we are being treated to some excitement.

Sarah Palin (the Arctic Fox) recently endorsed a candidate running for office as a Representative of the 23rd Congressional District in New York. She endorsed Doug Hoffman, and it made news.

Former Senator Fred Thompson had also endorsed Mr. Hoffman. They both did this at some political risk. Rather than endorsing the GOP candidate (Diedre Scozzafava), they endorsed the Conservative Party candidate.

(Is it just me, or does anyone else see the appeal of an Arctic Fox / Fred Thompson ticket in 2012? Start the BUZZ!)

The endorsements seem to “connect the dots." Republicans are putting their careers and reputations on the line to bring sense to our political climate. In emblematic fashion, the lady who is Going Rogue breaks from the Party and backs a third party candidate.

Here’s the background information:

Our anti-Republican culture likes to put people into “boxes”; to group us by demographic or geographical characteristics. Whether we like it or not, we end up being classified as something like a “white male” or a “soccer mom”. People then assume they know our behaviors and thought processes, taking away our individuality.

Many of us don’t like that. We fight back. How do we do that? By using the Internet.

Here are some blogs that illustrate the point…

Another Black Conservative

A Conservative Teacher

A Conservative Lesbian

Just a Conservative Girl

I Love Being Right

Left Coast Rebel

Did you notice the word “Conservative” in most of them? Our culture typically places a negative connotation on that word. It is meant to convey a person with an extreme, sometimes crazy point of view.

The good news is that there is now a battle to take back control of that word. The battle is being waged on the Internet.

On the Internet, “Conservative” connotes Intellectual Independence. In each of the Blogs listed above, the person writing the blog is saying, “Don’t group me! I have free will, and this is what I think!”  The blogger is using the Internet to control his or her identity.

Let me make the point one more time:

Conservative = Intellectually Independent

I like the banner on the home page of the “I Love Being Right” site. She justifies her Blog by saying, “I just can’t be quiet any longer!!”

The Left Coast Rebel is particularly succinct. His blog title says it all.

Today, there is a battle being fought across our country. In four skirmishes, Republicans are fighting cultural conformity. They are
--“Fighting the Unions” (Douglas County School Board in Colorado);
--“Fighting the Party” (GOP in New York’s 23rd CD);
--“Fighting the Money” (New Jersey Governor’s race); and just
--“Fighting Back” (Virginia Governor’s race).

By tonight, we will know if Republicans have won any of these contests.

Watch for our anti-Republican culture to characterize any Republican victories as “disturbing.”

I think a better word is “fascinating.”

UPDATE: Smitty at The Other McCain links with comments indicating the Arctic Fox / Fred Thompson ticket is not so far-fetched.  Does anyone have a good moniker for Fred?  Maybe we can get something started here!

UPDATE II (11/4/2009): Well, three out of four isn't bad.  As Stacy says, "This isn't over."

In Colorado, we had the good fortune to have the GOP support Republicans in their desire to exert control over public school policy in Douglas County.  This might be a good example for other districts to follow.

Then again, it could be the start of a First Amendment battle, to see to what lengths people must go to avoid characterizing a candidate as a Republican or Democrat or Unaffiliated in a "non-partisan election."  Can you do it if you speak in hushed tones?  How about if you are affiliated with only a couple of outside groups?  Is avoiding the use of the letters "D" and "R" on the ballot not enough?  What exactly defines a non-partisan election, and what are the penalties for violating the rules?  Do we need federal intervention?

We live in interesting times.