Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's the Culture, Stupid.

This morning, several Internet sites noted reaction to Governor Palin’s comments about an episode of The Family Guy, broadcast Sunday evening (2/14/2010). The episode featured a character with Down syndrome who discloses that her mother is the former Governor of Alaska.

The point to note is that it is Sarah Palin’s reaction that makes the news, not the show itself. The Denver Post headlined its piece: Palin lashes out at “Family Guy.”

The show mocks a Republican figure for entertainment value. It is an “automatic” part of the show, just as the negative characterizations of Republican figures in Julie and Julia were done in a matter-of-fact manner.

The episode points out how much our anti-Republican culture is taken for granted. We don’t notice it. It’s just “there.”

Maybe the day will come when David Letterman or Nora Ephron pause - just for a moment - before they insert anti-Republican characterizations into their productions.

Sarah Palin calls them out on the ones that demean her family.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our culture gave her some support?

Getting some support from Left Coast Rebel!  Thanks, Tim.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mike Littwin Shows "How It's Done."

This site is dedicated to the documentation of our anti-Republican culture. It highlights instances where Americans readily accept the demeaning of Republican points of view as “right and natural.”

In Colorado, we got a dose of that last week with Mike Littwin’s “Morning Brew” in the Denver Post. His column was titled, “A snow job on global warming.”

The article was timely. A major storm had hit the East coast of the United States and records were set for the amount of snow accumulation. The storm caused people to wonder whether record snowfall was possible in a world beset by global warming. Mr. Littwin wrote his column with that context in mind.

The anthropogenic global warming debate is contentious. Not only in America, but around the world, people take one side or the other. In Great Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown is concerned. He sees imminent catastrophe.

President Obama sides with Mr. Brown, but others are more sanguine. The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) bills itself as being “dedicated to sound public policy based on sound science.” It finds that climate change is not the most serious issue facing humankind.

In America, the anthropogenic global warming / climate change debate is used to promote the theme that Republicans are destroying the environment. It doesn’t make much difference whether the earth is going through a warming or cooling period. Republicans take the blame.

I have used my blog profile as an illustration of how theme-based characterizations can color political debate. However, if you want to see a true master at work, take a look at Mike Littwin’s article.

Better yet, let me walk you through it. Mr. Littwin uses a three-step process, where he sets the stage, characterizes the opposing viewpoints, and then sums everything up with the appropriate anti-Republican theme. Watch and learn…

* * *
Setting the Stage
Mr. Littwin starts out by characterizing Republicans as inferior people.

He first describes them as willfully uninformed. They are “skeptics/deniers/flat-earthers."

He then illustrates how they lack analytic skills. He depicts them as troglodytes, drawing incorrect inferences from a single data point. Republicans see that “Snow is cold. Lots of snow produces lots of cold. And when there’s that much cold, it must prove, therefore, that global warming is a ruse.”

Characterizing the Viewpoints
Mr. Littwin next introduces the opposing viewpoints and their champions, characterizing the Republican as - wait for it - LOSERS.

He shows us Republican intolerance and defiance. Former Republican Representative Scott McInnis (now running for Governor) makes a critical remark on Mayor John Hickenlooper’s recent trip to Copenhagen, saying “I will not determine Colorado energy policy from Copenhagen.” That statement is described as being representative of America’s political “silly season” and Mr. Littwin follows up with a characterization of Mr. McInnis as being mean-spirited and evasive, citing the former Congressman’s questioning of the validity of global warming science.

In direct contrast, the champion on the anti-Republican side is portrayed as thoughtful and deserving of the benefit of doubt. Mr. Hickenlooper (also running for Governor) is described as one who “knows the science…” and doesn’t “change his views with each audience.” Mr. Hickenlooper himself laments that “the extremes are trying to polarize the issue….” If we are trying to connect the dots, we now know into which category Mr. McInnis is to be placed.

Summing Up
The final act is the summation of the proceedings and reinforcement of the anti-Republican themes.

Republicans are clearly political beasts who will never change their stripes. Mr. Littwin warns us, “Don’t expect the political climate to get any better.” The implication is that Republicans do not operate in good faith.

Meanwhile, the Denver Mayor is recalibrating his global warming message so that his campaign for Governor casts him as a mediator, rather than an advocate. Mayor Hickenlooper tells us, “I’ve said many times before, many of the smartest scientists in the world think this is happening. It would be very short-sighted not to pay attention.” He goes on to say, “there are probably going to be dramatic consequences. We’d be fools not to begin prioritizing and mitigating.”

The posturing moves Mayor Hickenlooper “above the fray.” Republicans attempt the “flip flop” characterization, but it is overworked and stale.

* * *

So there you have it. A story on page two of the Denver Post teaches us that Republicans are bad people bent on destroying the environment, while their political opponents are thoughtful, credible, fair-minded and tolerant.

You may not be aware of the themes being used, or the role being played by Mr. Littwin, but what is definitely true is that you come away from the article with a vague sense that there is something about Scott McInnis you don’t like.

Somewhere, Mike Littwin is smiling and thinking, “Mission accomplished.”

UPDATE 1/4/2011:
As of today, the Denver Post has modified its format so that Mr. Littwin is no longer on page two.  He is now (correctly) on the op-ed page.  Gregory L. Moore, Editor of the Denver Post, appears to have come to the understanding that newspapers with structural bias are losing their readership.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why are you attracted to organizations that consider me a racist?

The Denver Post is the “paper of record” for Colorado. Like the New York Times, it tells us “the news,” and then goes on to tell us how we should think about that news.

The second section of the Denver Post, titled “Denver and the West,” is our regional news. It tells about events that are closer to home. On Saturday (2/6/2010), we were treated to a news story on Tom Tancredo.

Mr. Tancredo served as a Congressional Representative for the 6th District in Colorado. He resigned his seat last year, and has been active in defending Republican principles. He was invited to give a speech at the National Tea Party Convention held in Nashville this past week. The front-page story of “Denver and the West” written by Lynn Bartels carried this headline:

“Tancredo blasted for poll test idea.”

The story has a picture of the former congressman, with the caption, “Tom Tancredo wants voters to have to pass a civics and literacy test.”

Ms. Bartels rounds up two individuals to provide quotes for the story. One is the head of the Democratic Party in our Colorado State Legislature:
State House Speaker Terrance Carroll, the first black speaker in Colorado history, said there's a reason Tancredo's remarks are being viewed racially.

"He's saying them in relationship to Barack Obama," said Carroll, a Denver Democrat. "What does he expect people to think?"
Ms. Bartels also quotes a source from the Southern Poverty Law Center:
"He's calling for things that, thank God, were banned and were part of Jim Crow life," said Heidi Beirich, research director at the Southern Poverty Law Center. "To me, it's an incredible thing to say. We've been down this road before. It's not a good history for us to follow."
(Please note that when the Denver Post needs a good anti-Republican quote, it turns to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Center fights against “hate”, but finds its “fight” is often against Republicans.)

And so the Denver Post gives us a news story of Republican Tom Tancredo being a racist. The story could have had a different slant, but the Denver Post chose not to go in that direction. When it provides “man-on-the-street” quotations, the Denver Post quotes from central figures in our anti-Republican culture; people described by Mr. Tancredo as having an “…obsession with race.”

Mr. Tancredo is being kind. He should have described them as having “…an obsession with labeling Republicans as racist.”

Let me provide some context.

Every couple of years, I volunteer as an Election Judge in Douglas County. I believe the integrity of the voting process is important, and hope that I can help ensure that process is accurate and verifiable.

When I worked the last general election (2008), we had a greater than normal number of “provisional ballots” cast. Provisional ballots are filled out by voters who have a discrepancy in their voting registration. Voters might have moved into the county and not updated their registration records. As a result, a person might be registered in one Colorado county, but when he or she tries to vote in a different county, that county doesn’t know about them. They cast a provisional ballot, and hope that the registration problem gets resolved in their favor. If the county finds they are not properly registered, their ballot is not counted.  Hence the term, "provisional ballot."

In the 2008 general election, several people at my polling location wanted to vote, but didn’t understand that they had to register with the county to do so. They seemed to have the idea that by virtue of being American citizens, they could vote anywhere in the United States. I remember trying to explain how you could only vote on local issues if you were a resident of that locale. It wouldn’t be fair, for instance, to cast a vote for the mayor of Parker, Colorado if you were a resident of Des Moines, Iowa.  You should be voting on Des Moines issues.

On a couple of occasions, I was met with the response, “It doesn’t matter. I only wish to vote for the President.” The voter wanted to be a participant in a significant national election, and didn’t care about any of the local issues.

Another voter didn’t appreciate that the “one person, one vote” rule required verification. He felt it was enough that he gave his word he would only vote once. If only it were true…

Contrary to Mr. Tancredo, my thought was not that these people needed more education, but that they had been educated incorrectly.

Our culture teaches that voting is a right, and should not be encumbered by such things as verification of identity or proof of registration. It is an outdated Republican principle that the sanctity of the voting right needs protection. Our culture sees Republicans as getting in the way of making things easy and simple.

Sadly, I’m willing to bet that these thoughts I'm sharing will be construed as having racist intent. The characterization would follow a “six degrees of separation” kind of logic:
Howard Towt is a Republican who works as an Election Judge.
Election Judges preserve the integrity of the voting process.
The voting process requires knowledge on the part of the voters.
Poll Tests were used during the 20th century to test the literacy of voters.
These tests were abolished by Congress because they were discriminatory.
People with dark skin tone have been subject to discrimination.
Therefore, Howard Towt is a racist.
So I am a racist, and Tom Tancredo is a racist, and Lynn Bartels writes stories that bring attention to this characterization.

Republicans often challenge the characterization, but then someone like Mike Littwin (a Denver Post columnist) will rise to the defense of our anti-Republican culture. (Mr. Littwin even uses his deceased grandmother to make the point.)

The Denver Post, Mr. Littwin, Ms. Bartels, and Mr. Littwin’s grandmother may all look back and wonder “…what the fuss was about.”

At the risk of being too direct, the “fuss” is about their response to this question:

Linked by The Other McCain!  Thanks, Smitty.  Or maybe not: " the power of the rectal pluck..."???

UPDATE 2/11/2010:
Linked by Left Coast Rebel.  I must be on to something!  Thanks for the support, Tim.

UPDATE 3/4/2010:
Legal Insurrection and The Other McCain have recent posts that bring transparency to the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The links in the main body of this post (here and here) show how our Denver Post writers reference this organization.  Note how this implies legitimacy for the SPLC and that our anti-Republican culture sees no need to question SPLC motives or behavior.

UPDATE 11/26/2010:
The SPLC is in the news for being an organization worth $190 million and holding a Cayman Islands bank account.  They certainly seem to be well-funded for a tax-exempt organization.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Constitution vs. the Democratic Party

It probably comes as no surprise that the Democratic Party has a vested interest in our anti-Republican culture. That notion was reinforced last week in our 44th President’s State of the Union Address.

During the speech, the President leveled forceful and unprecedented criticism at the Supreme Court for its decision in Citizens United vs. FEC.

The Internet lit up!

The case was of interest to the Court as it involved censorship of a documentary film with a political message. The film (“Hillary: The Movie”) portrayed Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton in a negative light, and was to be screened before the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.

The President apparently believes that our First Amendment rights should be amended to restrict the viewing of this movie and similar ones. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, sided with the principle of freedom of speech and ruled that censorship of the film was unconstitutional.

While there are specific exceptions to the right of free speech, restrictions on political speech need protection rather than censorship. We carve out exceptions to free speech in our media (defamation – the use of slander and libel – is a notable example) and in our courts (perjury is justifiably restricted). But when we restrict political speech based upon the timing of the message and the messenger, we are on dangerous ground.

Why worry?

In the United States, our federal government has a decidedly anti-Republican slant. Federal agencies, like our colleges and universities, have few Republicans in their ranks. In addition, the Democratic Party now assigns administrative “Czars” to reward and correct (intimidate?) individuals who have business with the federal government. When these influences are combined with the Legislative and Executive branches being led by the Democratic Party, you get a sense of the tilt to the political “playing field.”

The Supreme Court is (currently) balanced by conservatives and liberals, with Justice Kennedy acting as the swing vote on the more significant decisions. The President perceives that with the United decision, the Supreme Court “crossed the line.” He wants to move the court to the correct (left) side of the political spectrum, and intends to work hard to achieve that result.

Our Constitution embraces the concept of Separation of Powers. While that idea in itself is not being challenged, a de facto usurpation of that provision is at work, and our Supreme Court is standing alone.

Increasingly, American politics is coming down to one central question:

Do you wish to be governed by the Democratic Party or by the Constitution?