Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lying liars in the Philadelphia Daily News: Obama and Israel

I understand that a newspaper applies somewhat looser standards in its letters-to-the-editor section than it usually does its own reported news and opinion columns, yet it's a source of unending irritation to me that the Philadelphia Daily News often lets blatant misrepresentations of fact reach its readers uncontradicted.

I'm not against the Daily News printing opinions I dislike, understand. But I hate actual lies and untruths. And the latest emerges today from Pat Dougherty:

Benghazi coverup?
When will you do your duty to the American people and cover this tragedy honestly? You have covered for this corrupt administration for far too long. Mr. Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of this administration has the blood of those four dead Americans on their hands. You are complicit and their blood stains you also. Would you be so uninterested if this was a Republican administration? No, your headlines would scream of it daily! You are in bed with a man that, in his own words, said he would stand with Muslims against Israel. Nice. A leader of America standing with those that say they want us dead.

The lie? That Obama, "in his own words, said he would stand with Muslims against Israel." I don't have to even look this up. Know how I know this is a lie? Because this is such an Israel-supporting nation that any major political figure who ever said such a thing would see his electoral career finished. Instantly. Especially if that politician were running for president.

But, hey, let's give Mr. Dougherty the benefit of the doubt that he didn't make up this quote out of whole cloth. Where did it come from? Well, it's a popular trope among the darker corners of the conservative blogosphere that Obama once said this: 'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." Which, you'll note, is not the same thing as saying he'd stand with the Muslims against Israel. But heck, lets look at the context even of that. Turns out it emerges devoid of its context from his book, "The Audacity of Hope." Snopes.com has it covered:

So, the then-future president said he would stand with Muslims to preserve their civil rights! Great! He didn't say he'd "stand against Israel?" Even better!

Maybe the Daily News expects its other readers to know that Mr. Dougherty is purveying mistruths and lies. But it's frustrating to see such fakery perpetuated in the newspaper, no matter which page it's on.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rich Lowry: 'Racialized politics'

You almost get the feeling that Rich Lowry deliberately misunderstands:
"One of the most extraordinary things about the post-election discussion is how Democrats and the media are hailing a more or less explicitly racialized politics in this country."
Only if by "racialized" you mean "inclusive of more than one race." But I don't think that's what Lowry intends.

Here's the breakdown: Roughly 72 percent of Americans are white. 12 percent are black, 5 percent are Asian, and 16 percent are Hispanic or Latino (which gets included in the "white" count, which is why this adds up to more than 100 percent.)

Romney voters were 88 percent white. "We find that 2 percent of Romney's voters were black, 6 percent were Latino, 2 percent were Asian, and 2 percent had some other ethnic classification."

And Obama? "Obama's support was 56 percent white, 24 percent black, 14 percent Latino, 4 percent Asian, and 2 percent other."

Neither set of voters is entirely demographically representative of the United States population. But one set is a lot closer. And that set happened to be on the winning side.

This isn't rocket science: Republicans have spent decades appealing to white voters and deliberately repelling minority voters, usually screaming in anguish when anybody points that out. That's racialized politics. My advice to Republicans, if they want to be true to themselves but also win elections: You don't need to pander to minority voters. Just stop being jerks to them. And stop kidding yourselves that pandering to white voters is "colorblind." It's not.

Republicans should stop alienating minorities

That's my suggestion in this week's Scripps Howard column, taking stock of the election results:
Here's a bit of friendly advice to my friends in the Republican Party: It's time to stop being so afraid of minorities. It's the only way you'll survive future elections. 
Save me the talk about how you're not afraid of minorities. Your party spent 40 years pursuing the "Southern Strategy" of demonizing blacks to curry favor with Southern whites. Your party held up Arizona's anti-immigration law -- along with its racial-profiling practices -- as a model for the nation. Your party just this year passed voter ID laws that were a clear attempt to suppress minority votes. And your party tried to win the 2012 election by digging up an old videotape of Obama just weeks before this election, suggesting (falsely) that it was proof of his reverse racism. 
Republicans have sent a clear, unmistakable message. It has been just as unmistakably received. The result? Romney earned the support of a whole lot of white male voters -- and not a whole lot of anyone else. 
Women? African-Americans? Latinos? They ended up mostly voting for Obama. And Obama won re-election, you may have noticed. 
It doesn't have to be this way. There's nothing inherently "white" about a desire for limited government, or lower taxes or even "family values." If the GOP were seen as a welcoming place for a wider cross section of America, it would earn the support of a wider cross section of America. White guys can't deliver an election on their own anymore. 
Really, all you have to do is rethink your "severely conservative" rhetoric on immigration policy, and you might find a quick change in your electoral fortunes. Pass the DREAM Act. Start printing up visas for guest workers. These are measures that had GOP support in the past.
Support them again -- and change nothing else -- and you might win again.
I would love for this to happen, actually, would love for us to untangle our politics from tribalistic identity battles and instead really just be competitions between competing ideas. That's perhaps overly idealistic of me, but I would love it. And I don't think it requires much of a philosophical change on the part of conservatives--just (ahem) a bit of an attitude adjustment.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

On adulthood, Iran, and war

A reader writes to me:
  I don't know why it is that grown adults like yourself "cringe" everytime the subject of war comes up.  It reminds me of the rebellious reaction a child displays when asked to wash his hands or take a bath.  It's as is we exist in a vacume where no evil exists and some magic force will automactically protect us from doom.  This attitude is what lead the U.S. and the rest of the globe to downplay the role of Adolph Hitler until he secceeded in murdering 11 million souls. 
   But if we follow this path in regards to Iran we will face an outcome even more destructive than the fallout from WWII.  And "fallout" is the operative term.  If Ahmed Adinojhad reaches the ability to produce nuclear warheads he will either use them to wipe out Israel or as a threat to our efforts for peace.  And if you don't think he will do these things remember that the same thing was said about Hitler. 
   In short Mr. Mathis I suggest it's time for you and your liberal followers to grow up and start acting like adults. When it comes to war we simply can't avoid it solely on the basis that we don't like it.  That is unless you feel your opinion is more important than the rest of us living.  
I respond (with slight edits):
If reluctance to war is a sin, though, let me suggest that over eagerness to attack and invade and bomb is another. Americans not so long ago were told that the invasion of Iraq was necessary to prevent the occurrence of a "mushroom cloud" demonstrate Saddam Hussein's evil powers. Oops. Turns out that many people died--mostly because of the violence that we unleashed.   
If it is "adult" to face up to the sad necessities of war and childish to want to avoid them, let me submit that it's also more than a little puerile to unleash such forces with little apparent regard for the tens of thousands of innocents who die as a result. Iraqi civilians suffered because of a mirage; you now propose that Iranian civilians be maimed and die because this time it's REALLY true that a Middle Eastern regime will commit genocide and suicide in one fell swoop. Me? I'd rather be cautious. I think it might save more lives on both sides.  
I once was a pacifist. No longer, though I remain a skeptic of war and its benefits. Some wars are probably necessary. But they are few in number, and certainly fewer than you seek to justify.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

We don't owe jobs to fallen police, firefighters

Today at The Philly Post, I urge voters to reject Ballot Question 3 in next Tuesday's election. It guarantees jobs to grandkids. Really:
Again, there’s no doubt we owe much to fallen officers and their families. No one doubts that. The fact that Philadelphia voters approved a similar measure in 2006, giving preference to the sons and daughters of police and firefighters killed on duty, makes sense. Those kids were directly affected by the loss of a parent. After that, though, the question is less clear—if we’re going to give grandkids a leg up in city hiring practices, why not great-grandkids, too? How far down the genetic line can we go? Do we ever get to stop providing full-time employment to the descendants of the fallen? If we can never fully repay the debt, does that mean we have to pay it forever?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Barack Obama for president

My final endorsement, at Scripps Howard News Service:

Four years ago, I was an enthusiastic Obama voter. Come Tuesday, I'll be a chastened Obama voter -- but an Obama voter nonetheless. 
Civil liberties-minded liberals have reason to be disappointed in this president. He has built up the imperial presidency bequeathed him by George W. Bush, adding some new wrinkles of his own. Americans do not leave an electronic footprint that is not collected, in some fashion, by the federal government. Obama has given himself the power to assassinate citizens suspected of terrorism. It's uncertain whether we're more secure; it is likely we're less free. 
So why vote for Obama? Because Romney would be worse. 
Romney, with his memorable talk of "double Gitmo," would probably continue fortifying the security leviathan Bush and Obama have built since 9/11. 
Along the way, it seems more likely that a President Romney would get us in a shooting war with Iran. 
It seems more likely that a President Romney would appoint Supreme Court justices who would undermine the rights and freedoms of women to control their own reproductive health, or who would turn a cold shoulder to the rights and freedoms of gay and lesbian Americans to make their own families. 
It seems more likely that a President Romney -- a man so vocal in private about his disdain for the poorest 47 percent of the population -- would undermine and dismantle safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the name of reducing the deficit, all while cutting taxes for his rich friends. 
And despite a week that saw a massive hurricane hit the East Coast, it seems more likely that a President Romney would be less than dedicated to preserving and strengthening federal agencies that assist states and cities in recovering from such disasters. 
President Obama is imperfect. President Romney might be a disaster. 
It's an easy choice to make.
Ben gives an anti-Obama endorsement of Romney. You'll have to click the link to read his take.