Saturday, March 10, 2007

“…it seemed to be a good idea at the time.”

I will admit, when I wrote this post last week, I was thinking not much would come of it. I was wrong. I have no ill will against the artist as a person or in the quality of his art. As I said in my updated post, I simply disagree with his premise that the UN has been ineffective has at combating terrorism. As I wrote there, this is because the US has made the UN ineffective; blame the current administration if you don't like how the UN is fighting terrorism.

I will give Mr. Perkins praise for this week’s cartoon in the Clipper (I cannot find a link; hopefully he will post it on his blog and I will update this). It effectively addressed an issue in Davis County: the near wholesale ignorance of the UTA towards Davis County residents. I have long been upset at the poor state of “public” transportation in Davis County, and I don’t think the proposed changes will help out much. I have no problem with the cartoonist mocking UTA leadership for their deafness. However, this is another post altogether.

I do not really want a “flame war,” and that was not my intent in my post. I simply hoped that Mr. Perkins would take the time to look at an alternative point of view. I am saddened that he did not, but I am glad he did not engage in name-calling, either.

I am taking this opportunity to address some of Mr. Perkins concerns. First, he is right that a didjeridu is a wind instrument (see illustration), used by certain tribes of the Aboriginal people of Australia. Next, he mistakenly assumes I do not believe that there is bias in other news sources. Bias obviously exists; my opinion is that most of the Utah (and national) news sources have a conservative bias most of the time. This is because most of them are owned by massive conglomerates (including public broadcasting’s conglomerate, the Federal government bureaucracy) who find little need to address news and opinions beyond those of their bread and butter: elected officials, businesses who advertise, and foundations that contribute. That is not to say that they sometimes have the dreaded “liberal” bias in some stories, but I do not see that often. I suggest anyone wishing to understand this issue read two great books on the subject by prominent academics of the subject: Lance Bennett’s News: The Politics of Illusion, especially chapter 4 “How Journalists Report the News;” and Calvin Exoo’s Democracy Upside Down, chapter 2 “’And That’s the Way It Is’: The Bias of the News.”

However, my post was intended not to criticize the other media sources, but confine it (mostly) to the Clipper. Its bias was proven in his very post. Mr. Koecher’s February 22, 2007 editorial column was virtually copied-and-pasted from a chain email, which Snopes describes with the following disclaimer:

…context is provided for none of them — several of these quotes were offered in the course of statements that clearly indicated the speaker was decidedly against unilateral military intervention in Iraq by the U.S. Moreover, several of the quotes offered antedate the four nights of airstrikes unleashed against Iraq by U.S. and British forces during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, after which Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Gen. Henry H. Shelton (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) announced the action had been successful in "degrad[ing] Saddam Hussein's ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons."

Suffice it to say I believe that Mr. Koecher was unprofessional and biased in not researching these quotes, finding their context, elucidating their meaning, and reporting the speaker’s intents’ at the time they were made. I usually feel that words taken out of context are some of the worst lies, because they attempt to veil falsehood in truth. I believe Mr. Koecher should be ashamed.

While I am glad that the Clipper allows the two party chairs to express their views, they also publish two columnists whose views do not officially represent those of either party. In fact, there have been many times when I have seriously disagreed with Ms. Brandvold and am frustrated because the caption makes it seem like she is representing the party’s viewpoint, which she is not. I have also found it annoying that, while they allow each chair to write a column, they give substantially more coverage to county Republican party activities than Democratic party outings. Two examples illustrate this. In 2004, Davis County Democrats were represented by elected delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston; however, there was only one story about the national conventions that year, and it was about how Dannie McConkie and others went to the Republican National Convention. Second, there was this Thursday’s misprinted back page, where the Republican Women of Davis County’s event was printed for a second time, but there was only one section on the Davis County Democrats Monthly breakfast held this morning.

I apologize for not being clear with my comment about Bagley and the Tribune editorial cartoons. I should have just said that because I feel the repeated conservative slant of his cartoons render them unfunny to me. Others may feel different, but usually I have found them offensive because they mischaracterize the facts or engage in ad hominem attacks based on false stereotypes. I also feel he misses opportunities to equally skewer both sides of a political issue, with one exception. For example, this cartoon could have pointed out that it was the lame duck Republican Congress that didn’t give Utah a 4th seat, or that all the County Commissioners in this post are Republicans, and remain so, and they are the ones who are raising taxes. I probably would not care as much if it wasn’t so one-sided. I also would not mind it so much if it was just on his blog instead of in the Clipper.

As to our disagreement about the UN, he simply has a different view about how the UN works. He apparently sees it as a strictly majoritarian institution, where the US is just one country among another nearly 200 other states with competing interests and/or jealousy. I don’t doubt there is some element of that in the body. However, as I have repeatedly said in my posts, I do believe that the UN is an extension of the foreign policy objectives of the individual states, especially the most powerful one: the USA. I feel that when the UN fails, it is usually because the US is unwilling (not unable) to exercise influence in the body to prevent or correct those failures. From the Oil-for-Food corruption to the allegations of rape in the Congo to the inaction in East Timor and now Darfur, I feel most of the blame falls on the US government’s (of both parties) unwillingness to take a more active role in the body.

I do have to take one exception with one of his statements: “Inaction against terrorism, is, effectively, surrendering to it.” Mr. Perkins seemingly equates inaction with unwillingness to go to war, which I believe was the false choice in the Iraq war debate. I believe, and the facts bear it out, that continued and intensified diplomatic pressure (like we are trying with Iran and North Korea) can achieve security goals. If that was allowed in Iraq, we may have come to know the truth that there were no more WMDs in Iraq. Do I think that diplomatic pressure would have resulted in regime change in Iraq? Probably not, but I do not think the US has to or should use its power to change the governments of sovereign nations without clear evidence of threat. Also, even before the war, when I was in a relative news blackout, I was never convinced that the Hussein regime in Iraq had anything to do with al Qaeda, which the facts have borne out to be true.

As to my statement against Señor Dangriga, I hope that his comment was a joke. His Blogger profile makes no mention that he is in the Air Force, working military intelligence. Even so, that makes his comment worse, not better, as he should know better. Again, I challenge Dangriga or Perkins to find one statement where a member of the Democratic National Committee wishes to surrender to terrorism. I suspect they will make another false equation, claiming that redeployment from Iraq to Afghanistan and other bases is tantamount to surrender. I cannot adequately express how that is not the case, I will leave that to others like: Reps. Murtha, Murphy, Sestak; Sens. Webb, Inouye, Kerry; Gens. Clark, Batiste, Eaton; among others. Google their official statements at your leisure.

While I do relish the opportunity to express myself, I fear such a back-and-forth conflict between Mr. Perkins and I on this issue alone would bore me eventually, probably driving me from blogging. For that reason, I am going to move on to other issues after this post. Anyone is free to comment, but hopefully I will restrain myself from further “war.” I am trying to make my blog a place of intelligent discourse, but not get bogged down in one single issue. I want to move on to write about things like the voucher referendum, the UTA’s deficiencies, veterans care, my thoughts on spring training, how much American Idol sucks, etc.

P.S.—5 points on the board to whoever can recognize the quote from the post title.


Jeremy said...

The post's title comes from the greatest western movie ever (which was lovingly ripped off from the greatest samurai movie ever) "The Magnificent Seven"

[Calvera has just captured the Seven]

Calvera: What I don't understand is why a man like you took the job in the first place, hmm? Why, huh?

Chris: I wonder myself.

Calvera: No, come on, come on, tell me why.

Vin: It's like a fellow I once knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, "Why?"

Calvera: And?

Vin: He said, "It seemed to be a good idea at the time."
end scene

Fantastic scene from an awesome movie.

You're completely up in the night about the U.N. It is a weak and corrupt organization and our membership in it provides no benefit to our nation. It was originally intended by America's leaders that the U.N. be used as you suggest but the fact that so many thugs and dictators have a vote in that institution renders it useless at best. All the U.S. could possibly do to reform the U.N. was to threaten to revoke funding. We've seen how much good that has done eh?

I agree with you on just about everything else though. The cartoons aren't funny and Iraq was a foolish mistake and we as a nation haven't done anything to rectify that error. Right wing bluster on the left's supposed inaction against terrorism is their last ditch effort to support the foolish notion that they've done anything to improve America's situation since 9/11.

Nick said...

A well thought-out rebuttal, Didj. I tip my hat to you, and will keep checking out your blog. A little more time spent on the other side of the aisle might do me some good.

Señor Dangriga said...

For clarification, the word "Redeployment" is (and always has been) military-speak for "going home". There are sufficient examples of the media (which I lovingly refer to as ABCNNBCBS) and partisans of all stripes mischaracterizing this word that I need not quote them here.

Every time a fighter squadron or an infantry brigade deploys, they will redeploy. I've redeployed twice myself, and will redeploy yet again later this year.

Those who advocate wholesale redeployment now (Dr. Howard Dean and the honorable Sen. Harry Reid, among others) now do not sound like they advocate outrignt victory in this conflict. The effect is this: they tell the insurgents (and more disconcertingly, thier handlers) to hang on a little longer; then they'll have full rein to act with impunity.

As an intelligence officer, I have to take various bits and pieces, then formulate an enemy course of action based on that incomplete information. It's also to get inside the enemy's head, and figure out what he's thinking. I've given you my assessment of what he's thinking. My job is not to deliver classified CNN to the boss, but to give useful information to commanders so they can act (i.e., kill "bad guys", save "good guys"). But, as the saying goes, "Military Intelligence: Ignored in Peace, Blamed in War."

Oh, and I love The Magnificent Seven, especially the music.