Monday, April 30, 2007

Clift: A Third-Party Ticket in 2008? - Newsweek Capitol Letter -

Clift: A Third-Party Ticket in 2008?

I'm pretty certain the major parties would never allow this unity ticket thing to ever get off the ground, let alone actually work. This is stepping all too far onto what they see as their exclusive turf. The D's & R's establish the rules, & by doing so, have given themselves a built in self-preservation clause. (I'm still not sure why we allow these two parties to set debate and ballot access rules. You would think that in the first case, at least, news organizations would have more say...) The major parties will do anything to prevent their ever being cast aside as irrelevant... matter how many Americans come to believe they are.

The dominance of the two major parties on our political system does need to be broken. In a more perfect world, this might be a way to do it, eventually, but I could never help a candidate I didn't support, and it's highly unlikely I could support a Republican. (I'm not even so sure about Democrats, most of the time... 8>)

I'm glad this idea is out there... I think that it might help all of us get a better crop of candidates across the board, one day. I just don't know whether or how it'll ever break through the major party barrier...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Free Speech, Imus, & the Free Market

It all started with this post: First Imus...who next? The notion that the firing of Imus was any kind of free speech issue had been getting to me all week, and the toon Skye (the owner of AncoraImparo, the blog where "First Imus" appears) posted was the last straw.

The article she tried to post along with it: Imus Lynch Party::By Patrick J. Buchanan was great. Where Buchanan is talking about Imus, I agree with much of what he says. I even agree that Imus' being fired for using the same words in very similar ways that others have and continue to do is hypocritical. I don't think Imus deserved to be fired.

But the idea that the people who wrote & called & threatened boycotts about his words were some kinda lynch mob, or that doing these things is any kind of censorship or free speech issue, is patently ridiculous. So, I set out to find out the basis by which folks were making these claims.

I didn't get much from Skye. If you read the comment section where she & I discussed it, her argument seemed to come down to:
1) "I say it is the public display of unbalanced 'morality' in the American stage that inflicts far more damage to our credibility as a nation and a culture."

In other words, anyone who was offended by Imus should've just kept quiet. Unless you've complained about all instances where anyone may've been offended--especially ones committed by those you support--you have no standing to complain about this one. The world is watching, & you're making us look bad. There was a time when I didn't really understand the concepts of moral relativism & moral equivalency. But I'm starting to...

2) "Using economic forces as a weapon to supress the freedom of speech was a tactic employeed by the German Socialist Workers Party back in the day. We are close, to repeating this brutal mistake which apparently has the full blessing of US liberals."

The difference between individuals, like the ones who did the complaining, & political parties, like the Nazis, seems to escape her. Besides, using the power of the purse to encourage one kind of behavior over another is a tactic employed by individuals, groups, and governments all the time. Everything from picking a certain brand of dish soap, to only buying American, to not shopping at Mal-Wart, is an attempt to affect the behavior of those companies. And the US government has been known to use funding to affect the values of our country, as well.

That was about the extent of it... (at least so far. As of this writing, I was he last one to've commented at her blog. Perhaps Skye will have more to say, & will offer another reason or something.) Not much to explain how or why it's a free speech issue.

So, I moved on, and that's how I got to Mike's America, and his post on the issue: Democrats Announce Media "Enemies List".

Mike says "The lovers of free speech, diversity and tolerance are at it again!" Well, my question is "How is asking for a certain level of behavior an offense to free speech, diversity, or tolerance?"

Like Skye above, Mike's main argument seems to be one of balance. If you don't object to EVERYONE who may be offensive--but especially those to whom you're closest--you shouldn't object to ANYONE who may be offensive.

"Taken out of context and overblown to shock the easily offended sensibilities of self righteous,left wing hyprocritical poseurs bigots who couldn't care less when much much worse is directed at anyone not in one of their protected classes of people. I say: you want to change the culture and clean things up? Fine by me. Start by holding yourselves accountable to the same standard of conduct you daily demand of others."

Leaving aside all the unnecessary (mis)characterizations, Mike's "glass houses" argument isn't persuasive. You start where you start. Whatever one thinks of Imus or the people on Media Matters so-called "enemies list", the issue is current, and these are the people, along with rap artists & comedians, who say the things that some people question.

Is there a political or social element? Sure. Folks who like the rap in question obviously aren't offended by it. If you enjoy or agree with Coulter's friendly little barbs, why would you complain about 'em? But that doesn't mean that others are not offended, & don't have every ethical right to voice their opinions to the people in a position to make changes; the artists, the people for whom they work (labels, stations) & anyone else involved in getting the art from the artist to the public (advertisers, stores)

Let's see whether there's any more in Mike's arsenal:

"I'd like to know when Media Matters will complain about ANY left wing fascist?"

Media Matters is a "progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."
It's very much like NewsBusters: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias or Media Research Center Home Page: America's Media Watchdog, who currently has a banner saying "The Leader in Documenting, Exposing, and Neutralizing Liberal Media Bias".

The answer is, MM won't complain about any left wing "misinformation," because that isn't their reason for being, any more than NewsBusters or MRC will complain about right wing "misinformation." If you want a more balanced approach, look to omnibudsmen, or perhaps the American public at large. Fairness to all sides isn't the mission of any of these websites, nor should it be.

When I asked Mike about it in the comment section for his post, this was his reply:

"Who commenting here has defended Don Imus? He's one of yours, not ours."

Very interesting, particularly in light of his previous comment (also from the comment section, but not to me) about MM never complaining about anyone on the left... So, if MM had anything to do with Imus' downfall (like being among the first on the net to highlight his comments, perhaps), that would mean MM HAS complained about some (or at least "someone") on the left. (I didn't catch that, till just now...)

That was pretty much our whole conversation about Imus, MM "enemies," and free speech, though in that post of Mike's & a bunch of others between us in that comment section, we addressed other topics. My one other attempt to broach the subject was brushed away by his saying "I responded to your query about Imus. Sorry if my interest in that is less than yours.", almost as though *I* brought it up, and wasn't in the comment section of *HIS* blog posting on the subject, replying to the words he wrote. (I actually checked to make sure I didn't accidentally post my query in the wrong comment section. I hadn't.)

And that, dear readers, is the story of how/why I got to Mike's in the first place, and the beginning of the path to the creation of this blog...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I am a moonbat.

That (or worse) is what they call me, those wingnuts.

I don't know when it happened, that we started lumping people into these fractious factions.

Red states.
Blue states.

Hippies, Fascists, Nazis, & Commies.

What ever happened to judging people as individuals, with a little good in 'em & a little bad in 'em, instead of sticking people with these labels, & evermore using the label to "know" who they are?

To be sure, I am a partisan. Most of what I think and believe about America & the world falls on the left side of the spectrum. And I don't mean a little bit, either. I am pretty far over. I voted for Nader. Not just in 2000 either, but in 2004, when Democrats (& a little bit "because" Democrats) were blaming me for Bush winning in 2000, and even though I knew how bad Bush had been for this country.

I'm not a perfect lefty, though... I'm almost hawkish on illegal immigration. I can see the value of owning a firearm (though personally, I do not (as of this writing, anyway. By the time you read this, anything's possible.) And perhaps most damning of all, I don't hate wingnuts.

There's plenty I'm not so crazy about, to be sure. Some are rude, rude people. Others are too judgmental, or worse, prejudiced against moonbats like me. There are many I would never think of having over for dinner, but you know what? The same is true of my fellow moonbats. Some are great people. Others, real assholes.

To the best of my ability, I am going to avoid using the terms "wingnut" or "moonbat" as insults anymore. (It won't be too tough. I tend not to use wingnut at all (though, there was a time), & I only use moonbat occasionally, in conversations about specific wingn... ...I mean, conservatives. (Though it's getting more popular now, there was a time when hearing a person use "moonbat" denoted a certain kind of conservative that there was no point bothering with. It was more or less conventional wisdom that the Cons calling the opposition by that name were big Ann Coulter fans, with all that implies. No point engaging. They were far gone over to the dark side of both politics and civil discourse..

So, why make a blog with those words as the title?

First off, I like how each of 'em sounds. Even though they've become stupid insults, I like the words themselves. I don't think I've ever written the sentence "I am a moonbat." before, but I wish I had. I kinda like it. (In fact, I like it so much I went back up & changed a sentence in the preceding paragraph. It used to read "I'm going to avoid using the terms wingnut or moonbat anymore," but I like 'em too much to stop, so now I'll just try not to intentionally hurt any feelings with 'em.)

I like 'em together, too... Aside sounding like a breakfast food, it expresses what I want; to bring the fractious factions together, a little. I don't expect the left and the right to ever agree, but that doesn't mean I can't talk to a guy from the other side, and have a civil conversation... We'll still disagree, but maybe I'll learn something. And maybe he will. Or maybe we'll still vehemently disagree politically, but find we share a common love of early 80's Frank Zappa or something. (FZ was always good, but the stuff with Ike Willis on vocals was some of his best work.)

I got inspired by spending the last several days visiting a conservative blog, Mike's America.
It didn't start out all that well, and only went downhill from there. It never got to name-calling, but accusations & judgments flew. Lotta talk about being anti-American. It was only a matter of time before would've devolved even further. (I use the past tense there, but I don't know that I'm not going back, for sure. Even though I wasn't getting exactly what I was hoping for, it was an eye-opening experience, seeing how some of 'em think, and trying to understand them.) If I do, I don't know whether I'll continue trying to contribute. I have a fairly thick skin, but there's a limit. And there's times before where I've gotten too wrapped up, lost my cool & become a real ass. I could see that happening there eventually, for sure.)

Having a conversation was damned near impossible. They didn't want to answer questions or provide evidence. I was always looking for the GOTCHA sentence in their posts. They stated opinion as fact, and built a whole narrative on a foundation of air (or so I thought). I'd post too much & too often, so few bothered to read/reply to my posts (or so I was told). Preconceived notions and rigidness doomed the possibility of getting anywhere, almost from the start. While I think I behaved alright, I could've behaved better. (& I'm sure if one of the folks from that blog visit this one, s/he'll have a different take to offer on my behavior, and his or her own. Each of us filters "the facts" through the prism of our own beliefs.)

There has to be a few souls like me, who just want to have a conversation. Maybe a debate even, but a civil one, where namecalling & blame for the actions of the worst on the opposing side doesn't take the place of the topic. We're individuals, not parties, interests, & causes. There's no reason liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Greens, Democrats, & Libertarians can't get along at least well enough to have a conversation, is there?

I mean, we all hate them fuckin' fence-sitting moderates, don't we? Damned wishy-washy bunch-a... Yeah, I'm kidding, obviously... ...though not all that well... 8>) I think we can do it. I don't think conversations have to devolve into bad names & phony notions about each other. We just need to talk & teach, & listen & learn.

That's what I think, anyway...