Media Bias?

The other day, Senator Joe Biden made what could be taken as a less-than-politically-correct remark about Black leaders. He referred to Barrack Obama, who had just announced for the Democratic nomination for President, as “clean,” implying that others are maybe not so much. The “others” might include Jesse Jackson, Charlie Rangel and Al Sharpton.

The reaction, as reported by the news media, has consisted of lots of chuckling and grinning. They say ol’ Joe put his foot in his mouth again, as though it was pretty funny, all right. Up to his old high jinks again, like, remember last year? Made that crack about Indians? And when Biden wanted to explain this gaff, what did he pick for a forum? A late night comedy talk show. Yep, it was downright funny.

Ask yourself what the media reaction would have been if Biden’s remark had been made by, say, Dick Cheney. There’d be no nudges and winks. The remark would be taken as evidence of the foulest of motives, not passed over as a simple mistaken word choice.

A few weeks ago, Teddy Kennedy was given a free pass for referring to Barrack Obama as, “Osama Obama.” Suppose President Bush, who is prone to occasional misspeaking, had made that mistake. What a field day the press would have had with that!

–Ken

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Illegal Immigrants

There is much to consider in the current controversy over immigration. I haven’t come to any hard and fast conclusions yet, but the hounds are out for the illegal immigrants, and I think many of them are barking up the wrong trees. (Pretty good — I got all the way through a metaphor without mixing it!)

CNN was tsk-ing the other day about how we are becoming overwhelmed with the immigrants’ demands on our resources.
~they use hospital emergency rooms for free health care, costing scads of money and putting our medical care system in jeopardy
~they flood our jails, taking up jail space and costing the taxpayers for their upkeep
~they threaten to swamp our schools, taking up space, teacher time, etc., and costing education dollars meant for our own children.

There are many other facets to the controversy, of course, but these were foremost in the minds of CNN’s commentators. Do you see what’s common to these complaints? No, no — I mean in addition to the money-costs brought on by legions of immigrants.

The “resources” upon which the illegal immigrants are placing demands are either government resources — tax money and infrastructure in the case of schools and jails — or resources over which the government has assumed control. A local candidate for Congress claims that “[p]roviding services to illegal immigrants costs the American taxpayers an estimated $70 billion a year.”

Our government — national, state, local — is the greatest; i.e., the worst, implementor of the altruist philosophy that has progressively infested our culture. Put that $70 billion together with all our foreign aid, and all the government “services” provided by our current welfare state, and the cost to Americans in lost capital is staggering.

Governments have no business providing services. Their funcion should be to provide protection against force and fraud. Whatever the pros and cons of immigration policy, the enormous involvement of our governments in providing other than protective services shows the impact philosophy can have on our lives.

Now, if only a more reasonable philosophy can begin to take hold again….

–Ken

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Drugs and Gambling

Today’s news is full of: what-to-do about drug gang violence in Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Texas, and, the “big” gambling scandal involving the wife of a hockey superstar.

By the standards of Objectivism — and of common sense — neither of these “problems” ought to be a problem. Gambling, for example should never be a concern of the government, if the government is solely concerned with protecting individual rights — the primary concern of government. What a person does with his own money, even if he capriciously loses it, is his own business and responsibility. Government has no proper authority to make him treat his money differently “for his own good.” (Nor should the government have the authority to make others take care of that person when he is broke.)

As to the gang violence at the border, note that what was mentioned is drug gang violence. Like gambling, drug use/abuse should be a matter of personal choice. If it had not been made illegal to buy, sell, or use drugs, it would not be worthwhile to form illegal “gangs” in order to supply drugs illegally.

–Ken

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Google’s Appeasement of China’s Dictatorship

The other day, Michael Swanson wrote on HBL about Google’s capitulation to China, “…it seems to be alright with them to stop
showing pages about freedom, human rights, Tibet, and several other topics, and rather redirect people to the Party controlled
government pages on these topics.” I sent the following to Google (I doubt that I will get any reply):

Your recent policy of kowtowing to the government of China’s suppression of information for its people is shameful and disappointing. There is no need for Google, given its stupendous achievements, to abase itself by supporting a dictatorship’s efforts to keep its people in ignorance.

–Ken

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Torture

Here’s a “what-if.” What if an Al-Qaeda member is captured in, say New York City. And what if there is very good reason to believe that he knows when and where a bomb is scheduled to go off in the city. He refuses to respond to interrogation on the matter. What should be done? Should the terrorist be allowed to hold his tongue?

Let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about foreign terrorists here, not United States citizens, and that terrorists are not army troops of some country. They cannot claim protection of our Constitution. They are not signatories of the Geneva Convention nor any other agreement about how prisoners are to be treated.

Talk shows and editorials in the MSM are making a great deal of fuss lately over the use of torture in the interrogation of terrorist prisoners. There are expressions of horror at the thought that torture might be used. Those with the audacity to defend torture are denounced and called names. Authorities rush to say they abhor its use. Opponents accuse authorities of using torture and denying that they do so. Experts are found to say that torture is not useful and may be counterproductive anyway.

The question that seems never to be addressed: why not? Why not use torture? What is the argument against using torture?

Most commentators take it for granted that torture is just evil, intrinsically. If pressed for a reason, they might scornfully proclaim that it hurts, of course. It is immoral to hurt someone. As children are being taught these days, “people are not for hurting.”

Torture is characterized as dehumanizing, meaning that the tortured prisoner is treated as less than human. It is not made clear just what it is about torture that dehumanizes him. I suspect that those who agonize about this might have some foggy notion that the terrorist’s human rights are violated by torture.

So the answer to “Why not?” comes down to, torture causes pain, which is never to be countenanced. And it is presumed to dehumanize the prisoner through violating his human rights.

It is redundant to claim that pain hurts. Pain is hurt. Pain has the evolutionary value of enabling us to learn that we’re doing something detrimental to our lives which we must stop. The message of pain given to a terrorist prisoner is that he’d better stop withholding vital information.

What about the terrorist’s rights? Terrorists attacked us; not the other way around. They violated our rights; not the other way around. It is contradictory for the terrorist or his advocates to claim a right to withhold information about how his colleagues plan to kill more Americans. There is no right to violate rights.

–Ken

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