Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just in Case You Were Doubting the Journalistic Integrity of FOX News

Rupert Murdoch has managed to do what years of American foreign policy could not. THEY WIPED IRAQ OFF THE MAP!!!

Let's hope Israel stays on Bill O'Reilly's good side...

Friday, July 17, 2009

And That's the Way it Was

Walter Cronkite died today, at the ripe old age of 92.

Fortunately I'm not quite old enough to remember Cronkite in his heyday, as the anchor of the CBS Evening News and "the most trusted man in America." I can't speak about my personal experiences with Walter Cronkite, and the New York Times can talk about his impact much better than I.

What I can talk about is what I think his death symbolizes. It will surprise none when I say that it represents the death of T.V. news, or at least, the trust Americans have had in it.

Cronkite made no aspersions to be a pundit, for either the Right, the Left, or anyone in between. His job was just to find and report the news, and when he did it, he did it earnestly and with care, and everyone trusted him because they knew this.

Cronkite had the luxury not to reach his prime in a polarized country, at least, not one where that polarization was played out across 100 different network and cable channels every night. For to be sure, Hawks vs. Doves, Traditionalists vs. Civil Rights Activists, Communist haters vs. sympathizers, and many others had their battles under Cronkite's watch, but those groups in the pre-information age never relied on T.V. newsmen to fight those battles for them.

Today, with FOX, NBC, CNN and all the rest of the alphabet fighting for every little piece of the ratings pie that they can get, everyone who reports the news on television has to take a stand. If they don't pick a side, the rest of the media will sweep them into one category or another.

When John Stewart went on Crossfire and effectively buried the show with his passionate deconstruction of its entertainment-based underpinnings, he shone the spotlight on a serious problem, which is that television news, both local, national, and cable, has, almost by necessity, lost virtually all it's credibility, and I'm not sure that there's anything anyone can do about it.

The trusted, impartial televsion news anchor and television news broadcast died today with Walter Cronkite. I'll be getting my news from newspapers and the Internet. If I want a good laugh or some entertaining video bites with my popcorn, I'll throw on FOX News or CNN.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How Wise, This Latina?

The opening salvo in the formality known as the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings was an attack on Judge Sotomayor's impartiality.In particular, a 2001 speech in which she suggested that in some situations she hoped a “wise Latina” would make a better judgment than a white man. Republicans and their media mouthpieces, being contractually obligated to bash any Obama nomination, immediately took hold of this story and put it forth as an example of Sotomayor’s potential as an “activist” judge, and even used it to accuse her of racism.

It’s not surprising that the Republicans would take hold of this issue. There is little doubt that a white male justice who said he hoped that in certain cases a “wise white man” would make a better judgment than a Puerto Rican woman would be vilified by the left. The counterargument to this, of course, is that there is no comparable situation a white man could find himself in, since by the nature of our culture, white men do not come from an oppressed class and cannot experience oppression in the same way as a minority can. I’m not sure I agree with this, but I’d rather focus on Sotomayor’s critical statements.

Here’s the lecture quote that has everyone up in arms:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”

She was referring specifically to cases of civil rights and discrimination, and responding to a quote of Sandra Day O’Connor’s that a wise man and a wise woman should come to the same conclusions when judging. The Sotomayor apologists would contend that she was simply saying that a white male does not have the breadth of cultural experience to equip him to fully understand the damages and dangers of institutionalized racism, not that they were in any way genetically inferior.

In her response to questioning on the issue, Sotomayor stated:

"I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any racial, ethnic or gender group has an advantage in sound judging. I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experiences."

So there you have it. That should be the end of the story. Unfortunately, what isn’t mentioned is that Sotomayor prefaced the “wise Latina” comment with this one:

“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”

That sure sounds like she thinks racial background makes a difference. Is she saying it makes a difference but that difference is not an advantage? Is it a disadvantage? Clearly she doesn’t think that.

Frankly I am more concerned with the double standard. I have no doubt that if any member of a “non-oppressed” class were to suggest that there are inherent physiological differences that have an effect on judgment, they would be ruthlessly attacked by the left. That doesn’t mean it’s not true. It also doesn’t mean that Sotomayor is a racist. What I think it does mean is that people should not be so quick to play the race card at the merest mention of genetic, physiological or social differences between those of different ethnicities.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Let Freedom Ring!

In celebration of its 233rd birthday, here are a few fun facts about the United States:

Over 80 percent of the United States have laws prohibiting certain American citizens from marrying the spouse of their choice.

While 13.5 percent of Americans are African-American, 41 percent of those on death row are African American.

Women on average make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes.

The FISA Amendments Act still gives the government almost unlicensed ability to surveil the international communications of private American citizens.

Even with all that, I still believe this is the greatest country in the world. Happy Independence Day!