Tuesday, August 4, 2015

House of Cards

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I haven't been much of a shipmate to the ol' Sarge lately, helping out here at The Chant, especially with him being under the weather an all. Not that Juvat hasn't been picking what little slack Sarge leaves, but I do feel a tad guilty.  Same old excuse really, just can't find the time to express my thoughts and opinions, not for lack of want though.

As you probably know, I have no problem expressing my opinions in my irregular political rants  posts here at Sarge's place.  I try to back those up with facts when I can, but I always stay away from falsehoods and outright lies to make my case.  That would be dishonest of course, and probably easily detected by the smart readers here or after a quick search of the Internet.

That isn't always the case on other sites of course, or in the media in general.


Have you seen this show?  It's quite good as a political drama.  It's based off a 1990 British mini-series of the same name, but the American producers have taken a completely different tack with it here.  In Britain, it's a satirical look at the often stuffy politics in play across the pond.  While I like the show, it's not like we're short on politics in TV these days, with such drivel as Madame Secretary and Scandal, but some decent shows as well like The Americans, which I highly recommend, plus Homeland, and State of Affairs.  With so many dramas on TV, there is plenty of room for some satire like the Brits have done, and we copy, like The Office, and on a similar vein- Parks and Rec, but both are now off the air.

 Where do they get their sense of humor?

                       

On that note, I think our Congress could use a little more humor and less stuffiness.  Sure, we hold our government to a high standard, and in general, we believe it to be an institution deserving of our reverence and respect.  I suppose that's a good thing, but a little more irreverence and disrespect might be good for us and our representatives.  If there was a throw-down or two in Congress, or even some boos and jeering, our reps might not have such high self esteem and might be a bit more in touch with their constituents.  Don't tell me you wouldn't like to see Senator Joni Ernst throat punch Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Or Ron Paul throw a nice leg kick to Harry Reid.


                                

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure we hold our Congressmen and Senators in the same regard as we do the institution of government. And the politics of government?  We dislike that even more.  I suppose it depends on the individual representatives, but many of them we might see as as no better than used car salesmen.

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I expect that comes from the impression that a politician will say anything they can in order to get elected, either overstating what they expect to do, or outright lying about it.  They really have no choice though, as honesty is not only a rare commodity, it's a liability for most of them.  If a new candidate was to admit that we needed to cut entitlements, or that the color of a man's skin is irrelevant, it would essentially be political suicide.  He or she would be ostracized from half the electorate and their own party- for either believing in it, or saying what that just can't be admitted to. Any statement that brands politicians as politically insensitive, or isn't sufficiently neutral doesn't pander to the side that believes differently, or at least believes in their own self interest above that of what's in the best interest of the country.

Oh sure, many of them believe that what's in their interest is also good for the rest of us.  There's nothing wrong with that.  I feel the same way about my own beliefs- that conservatism, self-reliance, hard work and personal responsibility are the best characteristics of a strong and vibrant society. And those qualities, when paired with capitalism, set the conditions to improve the lives of everyone, not just certain races, creeds, tax brackets, or political parties.  Unfortunately, there are those that believe in their ideology so much, that sometimes (most of the time?) they think that doing whatever it takes to advance that ideology is perfectly warranted, even if that means violating the constitution or boldly lying to the American people.

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I'm not saying that the left side of the country is the only one skilled in the art of obfuscation.  I think that most politicians probably lie, but the level of deception just seems to be far greater from the democratic party than from the GOP- it's a rule rather than an exception to one. They do so for a couple reasons.  The first is that they probably know they can't back up their beliefs with sound reason and factual statements- Our economic system is failing, albeit slowly, under the weight of a entitlements and regulation.  And secondly, because they are aided and abetted by a media that is either incompetent, lazy, full of themselves or incredibly biased to the point of ignoring the facts, or unwilling to dig them up.  I'm sure it's all of the above.  How else could a candidate for the highest office in the world get through an election without any of us knowing how his education was paid for, just how much time he had spent overseas as he was growing up, why he has a Social Security number with a prefix from Connecticut, and countless other questions.

Another example came after the Charleston church shooting.  Glenn beck was vilified by the Miami Herald as a moral coward for not acknowledging the racism behind the murders. This was in an opinion piece written by Leonard Pitts Jr. a full five days after Beck stated the following:
"I don't know why the shooter shot people.  He might shoot people because he's racist.  He might have shot people because he's an anarchist.  He might have shot people because he hates Christians."
However, a quick Internet search would have found that Beck's statement was made shortly after the story broke, before much information was known, including the name of the killer.  Once we knew more about Dylan Roof, and within an hour of making the first statement, Beck followed it up:
“Looks like we have the name now of the killer, and we have some Facebook posts. It looks like he is a straight-up racist.”
This shows a media that is biased- taking something completely out of context and using it to support their belief that the right is out of touch.  Possibly even knowing it's completely or partially false.  It's also an example of extreme laziness or incompetence- not even attempting to conduct some simple research into the context of the statement.


And this brings us to the Bill of Rights.  While the second amendment (and our Military) helps us maintain the freedom we have here in the US, the first amendment establishes much of that freedom.  With the inability of the Government to make laws impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or stopping us from petitioning the government for redress of grievances, we are empowered to stop politicians from stepping out of line, or at least call them on it if they do.

Here in San Diego, the Union Tribune newspaper has a mostly daily feature called "The Watchdog." It highlights bad policy, government waste and inefficiency, but also calls out those politicians or agencies for stepping out of line.  It is credited with breaking the story of massive corruption ring going on in one of our local school districts.  Several School Board Members were accepting bribes from various contractors in exchange for maintenance contracts, or "Pay to Play."  They were all convicted  and the UT chronicled every case from day one.  While this is a small-town corruption case, it shows how the freedom of the press is a very important check against imbalance.

UTSanDiego
Politicians as a whole probably have no predilection towards corruption, but temptation can be a powerful thing I suppose.  Where it can take root is when the press refuses to do their due diligence. Instead of being an institution that should be even more revered than government institutions, the public doesn't trust the media.
The latest Gallup survey on Americans’ trust in the media to report the news “fully, accurately, and fairly,” shows that a combined 60% said they had “not very much” trust and “none at all.”                                                         Source
Many readers here would probably characterize the media as leftist or liberal, but it's not just us or some vast right wing conspiracy claiming it's so.
“There is no doubt that the press failed to scrutinize this program [ObamaCare] at the time of passage and during the context of the President’s re-election. I think any reporter who would argue otherwise would be putting their head in the sand.”— Time/MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin on FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor, November 21, 2013.
Another example of their failure is with the entire Abortion Industry.  While the recent video releases have been extremely critical of Planned Parenthood's practices, there has been almost no action from the media to even attempt a cursory investigation into their practices, despite the outrage and the evidence that could call their operation into question.  The following quote was in an article from 20 July.
CNN has had 493 mentions of the Confederate flag since June 17 (only 188 of these even mention alleged church shooter Dylann Roof), and managed 167 in the first six days. In the first six days of the Planned Parenthood scandal, they managed 7 mentions, less than 5 percent what you’d expect if you considered those stories only of equal importance.
From the liberal media (I'm confident that I've sufficiently proven that they are), there doesn't seem to be any interest in anything to do with PP, unless it's parroting their talking points.  Other than some reporters actually writing apologies for the cavalier tone of the person in the first video, they haven't done anything that seems like investigative reporting.  They haven't tried to answer the questions I have, and ones even pro-choice advocates should have.



What are the federal or state regulations for disposing of aborted fetuses? What are the costs associated with transport?  Are there licensing requirements for agencies purchasing the aborted fetuses or can anyone do it?  How are they stored before sale or disposal?  Is there a charge to the mother for disposal if there is no business that wants to purchase the fetus? Is she charged for disposal and therefore PP declines the transport charge?  How many fetuses are purchased?  Are certain specimens more desirable or expensive?  Is there a standard across PP for the costs or were the Doctors in the videos free to set their own prices?  If there is a standard fee structure, are those Doctors at risk of punishment for acting against regulation?  What kind of research is done on the fetuses?  Are fetuses better for research than adult body parts?  PP claims that only 3% of their business involves abortions.  How many appointments are required before or after an abortion and wouldn't this skew that 3%?  Does PP offer or provide counseling for its clinicians?

These are worthy of being answered, but the media just doesn't want to know, or us to know, because it might force them or us to change their opinions.

In the show House of Cards, Frank Underwood is the Congressional Majority Whip, who when refused the SecState position, goes on a political rampage destroying anyone in his way, until he finally becomes President.  The Underwoods seem to be very similar to the Clintons, a power couple that while once filled with ideals, now seem to think they're entitled to their offices, that the rules don't apply to them and are completely irrelevant to how they do business.

The media is supposed to be our advocate- our shield against government oppression.  When the media fails to do it's job, when it allows bias to not just creep in, but completely overtake its reporting, the public is not served.  When it heavily refers to talking points provided by an agency, administration, or business, taking their word for it vice conducting research into their actions, or even the simple reading of a massively transformational health care bill, it sets the conditions for politicians to be corrupt.    When that happens, when a Government is allowed to forget it is a government of the people by the people and for the people, absolute power will corrupt absolutely.

When the media violates the constitution by refusing to be one of the pillars of our freedom- supporting the freedom of speech, and it abnegates its duty to be a free press, then the US becomes no longer a strong representative democracy, but it transforms into what is truly a house of cards.


Lazy Media
More of the media admitting to bias.

5 comments:

  1. You paint such pretty pictures with your words Tuna. The throat punch line put a 24 hour smile on my face.

    Very well done analysis. Taking it to a natural conclusion, I fear that government and media simply reflect the true nature of the electorate and audience.

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  2. Good one Tuna. The situation seems so bad now as the media simply doesn't care about truth anymore. I wonder what the end game is. Full blown communism springs to mind.

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  3. Excellent analysis, and on the money (our money)... Dammit...

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