Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I'm reading on a jet plane!

Back in the right hemisphere again. Its great to be home! One thing about spending 16 hours on airplanes each way, it definitely lets you catch up on your reading. It was also interesting to be back in the USA for a while, which had its own observations worth noting.

First, my previous observations from my post in February are all still true. Listening to NPR while driving around confirmed for me that politics is off in la la land. More on that later.

Speaking of politics, read a great article in a back edition of the Economist about George W. Bush and true conservatism. In a nutshell, a true conservative politician he's not. In fact the Republican party is morphing into something, but it is not the conservative vision of Barry Goldwater:

"The senator's conservatism was rooted in small government. But today's Grand Old Party has morphed into the "Grand Old Spending Party", as the libertarian Cato Institute dubs it. Total government spending grew by 33% in George Bush's first term. Goldwater's hostility to big government also extended to government meddling in people's private lives. He thundered that social conservatives such as Jerry Falwell deserved "a swift kick in the ass", and insisted that the decision to have an abortion should be "up to the pregnant woman", not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the religious right. For Goldwater, abortion was not a conservative issue at all. For many Republicans today, it often seems to be the only conservative issue. "

You tell them Barry! As an aside,when I was 6 years old, my parents took me with them to a Barry Goldwater rally in Knoxville. The only thing I remember about it was getting to drink a sprite like soda called AU H20.

I also noted that there is great dissatisfaction with the filibuster solution. To me, it was a triumph of moderation against the forces of extremism on both sides of the aisle. Surfing blogs of all persuasions, I was suprised at the backlash against Mc Cain and the others for not allowing the Senate to meltdown. Michelle Malkin , states "that we all need to put pins in John McCain voodoo dolls". Michelle you are cute, and you look better when your keyboard is silent and your mouth is shut. Now go clean the house and cook dinner.

I mean really, give the gang of 14 some credit. First, I believe no party wants to see the filibuster go away. The current Republican majority will not be there forever and the Republicans realize that there may come a time when they need the filibuster too. Some Democrats also realize that they can only beat a dead horse so much and that if they want real power in the Congress, then maybe, just maybe, they have to throw the feminists and gay's over the side and START WINNING SOME ELECTIONS. They aren't going to do that spouting issues that real people don't care about. I was amazed to see all the adds about preserving the "right" to filibuster listed in the Constitution. The Constitution does not say that and never did.

I also had a chance to read the latest Foreign Policy issue. Its a good magazine and always has great articles and this one was no different. First I read some common sense about Iran, common sense you won't hear from the administration by the way. They also had an interesting article about the way the death penalty is applied here in Japan. Finally, they published a spirited debate about Iraq and when its time to head for the exit ramp. ( Soon would be good....).

Speaking of the disagreeable media, I had a chance to read a very interesting article about the media and the loyalty issue. The latest rage in right wing land, is to simply state that the main stream media is a bunch of traitors. Publish something that questions the wisdom of invading Iraq and somehow you are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Ask a question about GTMO and Donald Rumsfeld is on TV at a press conference. You are only on the side of truth if you publish items that are in agreement with the Conservative agenda. That's the basic thrust.

Now I agree that the media has made some world class mistakes lately. And they have been justifiably criticized for those. However the folks who are on a rail against the New York times, and other print and TV media need to step back and look at this from a longer term view. Namely that actions have to stand on their own merits and the truth has to be told, one way or another. While we are all (myself included) down on Newsweek, lets not forget that the government has published its own misinformation ( The Pat Tillman story for example). In a democracy, which is supposedly what we are fighting for in Iraq, then its not just allowed to publish articles that are critical of the government, its a responsibility when the facts support the conclusions that are drawn. Not agreeing with the President, or his lackeys, is not the same as disloyalty to the country. It might help by reviewing some facts:

From George Lakoff's Moral Politics (U of Chicago P), journalism
falsely asserts that:

1) Concepts are literal and nonpartisan: The standard six-question rubric of journalism (who, what, when, where, why, how) cannot capture the complexity of issues as seen through, and expressed by, the incompatible moral systems of liberals and conservatives.
2) Language use is neutral: "Language is associated with a conceptual system. To use the language of a moral or political conceptual system is to use and to reinforce that
conceptual system."
3) News can be reported in neutral terms: Not if #2 is correct. To choose a discourse is to choose a position. To attempt neutrality confuses the political concepts. Is it an "inheritance tax" or a "death tax"? What could possibly be a neutral term? To use both in the name of balance is
confusing because most news articles don't have the space, and most TV treatments don't have the time, to fully explain the terms and why liberals prefer one and conservatives prefer the other. There's no time to explain explain why this language difference matters (beyond political tactics) to the formation, implementation, and evaluation of policy.
4) Mere use of language cannot put anyone at a disadvantage: Again, see #2.
5) All readers and viewers share the same conceptual system: We share the same English
language, i.e. its grammar. We often do not share dialects or the denotations and connotations of concepts, lived experience, and ideologies. The statement "I am a patriotic American" means something entirely different to liberals and conservatives. That difference is more than a matter of connotation. The differences in connotation spring from different moral constructs. What the conservative means by that statement appears immoral to the liberal and vice versa.

Finally, in an arena more near and dear to my heart: women and the proper loving thereof. Several Asia based blogs have taken up the touchy subject of Asian women dating western heathens such as myself. Check out GI Korea, The Marmot's Hole and the Asia Pages. I strongly encourage you to read the discourse. Yours truly has commented at all 3 and been branded as a sexist, mysongist by several Korean and Japanese men. Here is an excerpt from the article by Daniel Hong that will really piss a lot people off:

Later in the discussion session after her lecture, I raised several questions: "Who are those Western men or Americans chasing after Asian females? Aren't they what the Southern Californians would call, UCLA (Ugly Caucasians Living with Asians)? Aren't they at the bottom of the Darwin's food chain that they couldn't get what they want in their own land because of their low social status and therefore only option left for them is to chase after those Asians? I know, without any empirical data, it'll be difficult to press the argument" Prasso admitted that it is true partially and added, "Just street wisdom will give us a telling insight. In England where I used to live, they say that if you can't make it here, that is, to find your girlfriend, go to Hong Kong."

Total and complete horseshit. People like me are not losers, except in the fact that many of us have already been burned by the American brand of this particular product and no longer wish to shop at that store any more. No, we have become more discerning consumers and would rather have quality over quantity ( a literal statement given some of the extra pounds those California women are carrying). Why drive a mini van, when you can drive a sports car? I've been to Hong Kong and the shopping is better there. More variety, more value for your hard earned dollar, yen or Euro. Then again, your mileage may vary. More to come on this subject I promise you.



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