Saturday, January 21, 2012

Media & Journalism Are Not Synonymous...

Media bashing is the favorite pastime of many Americans.  I often rail against such bashing because I see that it is driven by an inclination to bash anything and everything different.   But I have found that arguing against the general bashing of the media is hard to support given the level of journalism so often demonstrated.  Therein lies the rub, I find myself defending the indefensible because "The Media" is too often not journalism.

Last night on the Republican Presidential Primary Debate, CNN's John King asked Mr. Gingrich, "...would you like to take some time to respond..[?] to allegations from his ex-wife Marianne Gingrich that he wanted an "open" marriage.  "Would you like to take some time to respond," REALLY?!?  CNN, the media outlet which probably had more to do with the taking down of the Iron Curtain than any other force in the West, THIS is a question for a Presidential Primary Debate?

I have no interest in knowing anything about Mr. Gingrich's actions in his marriages.  His fidelity, or lack thereof, is not what I would consider an issue.  However, his blatant hypocrisy on the issue, trumpeting "family values" while having extra-marital affairs, that has some merit as a political issue.  John King's question to Mr. Gingrich however, was an entertainment media question, not worthy of any journalistic comparison.

"Was it hypocritical of you to lead the impeachment of President Clinton while you were having an affair?"  That's a journalistic question.

Or, "You have admitted to numerous adulterous affairs including one to the woman you are now married.  Your ex-wife has pointed out that while you were cheating on her, you were giving political speeches accusing Democrats of undermining the institution of marriage.  How do you explain that hypocrisy, sir?"

Or, "In this campaign you have said you would fight for a federal ban on same sex couples being allowed to get married.  How can you justify passing judgment on other people's marriage, when you're own marriages are the kind of ethical mess described by your second wife on ABC News today?"

When politicians (or want-to-be politicians) stand up for a particular principle and then in their personal life they act counter to that principle, that matters to me.  That is a demonstration of a type of ethics which I am not inclined to desire in my elected officials.  When politicians do not attempt to stand in judgment of my personal life, then I have no desire to know about or judge theirs.  For then they are demonstrating adherence to that Libertarian ideal which I greatly admire, 'stay out of my personal life and I'll stay out of yours'.  Which is to say, "Don't Tread On Me."

To discern whom we feel is most deserving of our vote, We The People require journalism.  Prurient interest in an individual's sex life to feed a media entertainment industry?  Bash away.

Christopher Dinnes
USNS Pililaau, T-AKR 304
Newport News, VA

Disclosure: I lifted the hypothetical debate questions from Rachel Maddow, as heard on her Rachel Maddow Show, Friday, 20 January, 2012.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Votor Fraud and Naked Emperors

Ernest Hemingway's statement that good writing requires the writer to have a 'built-in automatic crap detector', is a fundamental principle which can be applied with equal accuracy to any action or endeavor, especially political discourse.  While there have been any number of things from varying factions on the Left which didn't pass my smell test, my attention today is on broad based, party platform ideas, behind which an entire Party, either Party, unites.  The Republican Party will almost always get the heat from this because we all know that the Democrat Party won't unite behind a good idea, much less an idea which has no basis in reality.  Voter I.D. legislation that is so championed by the Republican party is a perfect example.  This is part of their platform.  Republicans at the State and Federal level are actively pushing for, or have succeeded in passing, legislation requiring Voter I.D's.

There is only one problem.  There is no problem.  There are no statistically significant examples of voter fraud to be found that would have been PREVENTED by the requirement of a photo I.D.  None.  Zero.  Here is a column by Michele Malkin where she slams the Left for silence on the subject of voter fraud.  She cites a number of alarming statistics to support her call to arms over voter fraud.  Here is an article which lists a number of other claims of voter fraud by the Right.  But when the statistics and legal records are examined, when one looks at the issue, seeking actual, statistically significant evidence of ANY voter fraud that would have been prevented by the requirement of a photo I.D., one simply finds nothing.  Here are links one, and two, for examples of the kind of research upon which the results of my smell test were/are based.

The emperor has no clothes, folks.  There has been no voter fraud which would have been prevented by a requirement for photo I.D's.  With no fraud to prevent, is there any reason to legislate a voter I.D. requirement other than to keep those least likely to have a photo I.D., i.e. Democrats, from voting? 

With NO FRAUD TO PREVENT, I can not discern any other reason.

Christopher Dinnes
USNS Pililaau, T-AKR 304
Newport News, VA

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Miracles, Christians And An Individual's Faith

I recently came across a video clip of Rick Santorum where he, in speaking against gay marriage, used the analogy that a glass of water is a glass of water and calling it a glass of beer, does not make it a beer.  The point he was trying to make was that calling gay marriage, "marriage", does not make it marriage.  (The video clip can be seen here.)

Really?  A Christian using an argument that water can't be turned into an alcoholic beverage?

My intent here is not to beat up Mr. Santorum over a poorly chosen analogy, other than to make some humorous hay at his expense.  But his analogy does highlight a logical view of our society which I use to base my Life's choices.  For you see, I don't pretend to be a Christian.  But my wife is and I'm a member of our parish.  I attend Mass with her.  I have supported the religious community of which I am a member with the fruits of my labor and the actual sweat of my brow.  Some time back, my wife and I were talking about Communion and I expressed how amazed I was at the number of Catholics who don't believe that Communion IS the Body and Blood of Christ.  (Numbers described here.  A more recent survey here.)  Even I as a non-Catholic/non-Christian have no problem wrapping my head around that "miracle".  My wife then asked me, why then do I not take Communion?  To which I replied, "Out of respect for your faith."  Her faith says that one can not take Communion unless one believes, is, and does certain things.  Which I don't and am not.  But that has nothing to do with my belief in the reality of that which I am witnessing, and to no small measure, supporting.

Just because someones belief is different from my own, does not necessarily make their belief any less real.  By the same token, nor does it make my belief any less real.  The rules by which the Catholics run their faith are their rules.  THIER rules, which work for THEM.  (Although I do believe that many Catholics need to work on this whole Body and Blood of Christ thing.  It is a bedrock principle of the faith.)

My faith is not diminished by the actions of others.  Yet I am on a path, not in a static point in time.  The actions of others do influence the steps I take and therefore the personal growth which I experience.  By the same token, my marriage is not diminished by the actions of others.  Anyone who contends that the actions of others negatively affects their marriage, I feel is contending the illogical and ignoring the value of great faith and love that exists elsewhere, but all around us.

I leave this with a final point that is NOT humorous hay.  Does anyone truly believe that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) would have somehow made Newt Gingrich adhere to that "in sickness and in health" clause of his contract with his wife as she lay battling cancer in the hospital?  (In all fairness, I believe it must be stated that the oft repeated story that Newt served his wife with divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer surgery, is untrue.  Here is an informative article on the subject.)  I certainly don't believe that Mr. Gingrich's life choices would have been any different had DOMA been the law of the land at the time.  But I do believe that if we, society, really want to pass a law that will "strengthen the institution of marriage", then there is only one law we can pass that will do so.

Criminalize adultery.  I believe that if Mr. Gingrich had spent a few months behind bars cooling his hormones, he might have been a bit more inclined to honor his vows.  But that's just me, believing that my marriage is not negatively affected by the actions of others and the only way that some people can be made to honor their contracts is with the threat of punishment.

Christopher Dinnes
USNS Pililaau, T-AKR 304
Newport News, VA