Posts Tagged ‘Global warming’

Global Warming: A conspiracy perpetuated by the sushi-eating, coastal elites known as polar bears.

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

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Of course, such anti-polar bear sentiment doesn’t exist beyond The Colbert Report and satire of global warming denialists.

Oh, wait. I forgot about Sarah Palin, populist tribune of all that is good, who has taken a vehemently anti-polar bear stance, writing in yesterday’s Washington Post:

As governor of Alaska, I took a stand against politicized science when I sued the [Bush administration] over its decision to list the polar bear as an endangered species…

John Boehner on Global Warming: Cow Farts, Carcinogen, and a Pained Expression

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

[digg-reddit-me]Watching John Boehner demonstrate his ignorance when asked about global warming on This Week with George Stephanopoulos was surprisingly painful:

The huge amount of waste gasses from livestock do in fact contribute to global warming significantly; and of course it is silly to call carbon dioxide a carcinogen – but that’s very different from calling it a potentially dangerous greenhouse case in significant quantities. The fact that Boehner doesn’t even know the basic terms of this debate is disturbing if telling – as the only way to explain his rejectionist position is a combination of ignorance and greed for fundraising dollars.

McCain Bipartisanship vs. Obama Bipartisanship

Friday, September 12th, 2008

[digg-reddit-me]McCain has branded himself “The Original Maverick”. He bases this assertion of his brand on the numerous times he has gone against his party and, in another branding phrase, “Put Country First.” He and his surrogates have asked constantly – and some more independent-minded writers have also asked – “When has Obama challenged his party in a way similar to McCain?” The implication, and sometimes the outright attack, is that Obama is unable or unwilling to challenge the Democratic party in the same way McCain is willing to challenge the Republican party. A good example of this is in Rick Warren’s questions to McCain and Obama at the Saddleback forum. Warren asked McCain:

John, you know that a lot of good legislation dies because of partisan politics, and party loyalty keeps people from really getting forward on putting America’s best first. Can you give me an example of where you led against your party’s interests — oh, this is hard — (LAUGHTER) — and really, maybe against your own best interests for the good of America?

For John McCain, the answers to this question are clear – he stood against his party on the issue of torture (although he later qualified his initial opposition to torturing); he stood against his party on the issue of global warming; he challenged the Bush administration on how they were handling the Iraq war; he stood against his party on Bush’s tax cuts (although he again completely reversed positions on this issue); he stood against the base of his party on the issue of immigration; and he stood against his party on the issue of campaign finance reform.1

In all of these cases, McCain stood against his party and with the Democrats. His positions were not “bi-partisan” – they were examples of a Republican acknowledging his party had the wrong position.

He went against his party’s interests because he clearly believed his party had the wrong position for America. It is also worth noting that the Republican party on all of these issues had blatantly wrong and unserious positions. Defending torture? Denying global warming despite the widespread consensus of scientists? Rick Warren’s question presumes that Republicans and Democrats are both equally wrong about the issues – and that we can get past this impasse by compromising. But that is not, in fact, the situation. He didn’t compromise and wasn’t bipartisan – he took the side of his political opponents because his party had taken an untenable position. That takes a measure of courage, but to demand Obama take stands against his party, you first have to identify similar no-brainer issues on which the Democratic party has taken a side. Obama instead is faulted for partisanship, in part, for having the same position on these issues as McCain. McCain, for coming to the same conclusions, is a maverick. What few acknowledge is that on the issues on which McCain has stood against his party, they have clearly been in the wrong.

The wedge issues of the 1990s divided the country between conservatives and liberals who competing ideologies – abortion, gun rights, affirmative action, welfare, homosexuality2 – these were issues in which both sides had entrenched positions – and on which the country was in broad and deep disagreement. These are issues on which bipartisanship and moderation and federalism are the only solutions – because to legislate either side would leave half of the population in extremely strong disagreement. And it is worth noting that on these issues Obama has embraced bipartisanship – which he understands to mean finding goals both sides agree on related to these issues (from his speech in Denver):

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

The — the reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.

(APPLAUSE)

I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, passions may fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers.

McCain has rejected bipartisanship on these issues in his presidential campaign – embracing a hard right position on abortion and an enforcement first approach to immigration. His examples of embracing “bipartisanship” are really just examples of him taking the Democratic position.

It’s worth noting in the days ahead how differently these two men define bipartisanship. Obama defines it as working with people you disagree with to find common goals; McCain defines it as standing with the Democrats when he can they are clearly in the right.

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  1. I have left out McCain’s Gang of Fourteen compromise which secured the appointments of Roberts and Alito – which is a rare case of McCain’s actual bipartisanship. However, it is worth noting that McCain’s bipartisanship in this instance did not actually result in a compromise for the Republicans – but in a total victory for them. []
  2. And government spending fits in here too, but not as neatly, so I will reserve this issue. []

How the Media Created Independents

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

[digg-reddit-me]Many pundits and both campaigns have declared this the year of the independent voter1 – and both presidential campaigns are making serious attempts to reach out to these unaffiliated voters. It is often noted that not all of these independent voters are created equal. They can be divided into three roughly described camps:

  • the partisan independent who is a conservative or liberal, in all but name, who generally consumes media appropriate to his or her silent affiliation (e.g., the independent who watches Fox News, listens to Rush Limbaugh, and reads Ann Coulter, and agrees with all these sources or his or her liberal counterpart);
  • the issue independent who has strong positions on particular issues and will vote for whatever candidate supports those issues (e.g. a pro-life independent who is against the death penalty, war, and abortion who doesn’t know who to support this election cycle);
  • the character independent – whom this piece is about.

The character independents (hereinafter, just “independents”) supported McCain over Bush in 2000; and Obama over Clinton in 2008. In this election season, independents supported Obama over Clinton and his opponents and McCain over all of his Republican opponents, and in the polls so far, the independents are breaking evenly between Obama and McCain.

How is it that this group can be so evenly split – see-sawing this way and that – when the differences between the two candidates they are viewing are so stark?

I have a suspicion as to what’s going on here – as I am in many ways a character independent myself. My central idea is this: These independents are media creations – not media creations in the way that soccer moms and security moms were – stereotypes created to give flavor to election coverage – but creations of the media environment itself. Independent voters are individuals who have internalized the media’s approach to issues.

A while ago, I wrote a piece about a fundamental flaw in the mainstream media coverage of virtually every issue, every event, and every policy. While opinion columnists and the partisan press often take a side in reporting these issues – for example, “Global warming is real;” or “Obama is not a Muslim;” or “As far as we can tell, the Swift Boaters are just making stuff up” – the mainstream media will report both sides of each issue or policy or accusation. Within their piece, they might give slightly more credence to one point of view than another – and end the piece on a high note for one side or another – but they are generally careful to avoid taking sides, even when the facts support one side overwhelmingly.

The problem is that the mainstream media has adopted an understanding of fairness that treats competing claims as equally valid, irrespective of the opinion of the reporter, or even of the facts.2

The mainstream press attempts to adapt every story into their he-said, she-said paradigm – rather than fulfilling their journalistic responsibility to attempt to write the first rough draft of history, however flawed it may be. They avoid the facts at hand and instead merely transcribe the competing allegations, careful not to let their own reporting interfere. This leads – for example – to 53% of stories in the mainstream press about global warming to question the basic premises of this theory, while within peer-reviewed scientific journals, 0% of stories call into question the basic premises. This disconnect between reality as understood by science and the reporting on the science is what has lead to a 15 year interim between the scientific consensus on global warming and the finally emerging political consensus. If the reporters covering this story had done their work properly, they could have called the global warming skeptics what they were – oil industry shills – instead of reporting on their work as independent and nearly as credible as the vast majority of scientists.

Most voters’ only contact with any presidential candidate is through the media – so it is only natural that the media substantially affects their choices.3 An independent-minded person viewing or reading media that presents every issue as he-said, she-said has to develop a method of resolving this conflict between  the he’s and she’s. While a partisan will pick a team, and strongly tend to come down on the side of that team, an independent takes pride in seeing both sides of every issue – just as the media does. But while the media can avoid taking a side, an independent must – every two years or so – vote and make a choice.4

While the media is always able to find opposing sets of competing allegations, reality is not so simple. The media shouldn’t give equal time to claims by McCain that offshore drilling will reduce oil prices significantly and by Obama that it will not. They know one side is wrong and the other right. The media shouldn’t give equal time to scientists and skeptics about global warming. One side has evidence – the other side only has money. Since the right learned to manipulate the media by directly contradicting their opponents’ positions, no matter the facts, they have won election after election.

By distorting the news to fit into their paradigm, the media has created a class of voters who see both sides of every issue – even when the facts clearly favor one side. For the past ten years, as the media has been manipulated, so have they. And obvious policy choices and elections suddenly become competitive. This same pattern is emerging this year as the media treats Obama’s policies and McCain’s policies equally – even when one is reality-based and the other defined by political expediency. And so, independents are split equally so far in a year that should favor the Democrats.

But you can see that the Republicans are getting nervous – as the media finally began to cover the McCain campaign with the same intensity it has been using to cover Obama’s because of the Palin pick. Yesterday – all night – the Republicans attacked the media. They want to raise doubts in the minds of independents in case the media finally turns on them. In the end, it’s clear how the media will cover these attacks. They will get McCain operatives to give quotes bashing their reporting, and then they will get some reporters to comment on how they’re trying to be fair. And independents will see both sides.

  1. It’s also the year of the Hillary voter, Reagan Democrats, and the libertarian voter. []
  2. This is demonstrated rather clearly in this piece in the Washington Post from 2004 that asserts that both Kerry’s account and the Swift Boaters’ accounts “contain significant flaws and factual errors” while only providing evidence to back up the flaws and errors in the Swift Boaters’ allegations. The main flaw in Kerry’s information is that he did not provide enough evidence to disprove the Swift Boaters, while the Swift Boaters also provided no evidence to prove their case. Thus, overall the piece portrays it as a wash. []
  3. This goes for those whose main sources are partisan media as well. []
  4. I don’t mean to suggest that independents don’t have strong opinions and preferences; rather, once they have resolved how to deal with the media’s framing, they often have very strong opinions. []
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