Thursday, 29 March 2007

STEREOTYPES VERSUS THINKING

Ken Berwitz

I dislike stereotyping.  Intensely. 

I certainly dislike stereotypes about racial, religious and ethnic groups (i.e. Blacks are lazy and sex-crazed, Jews are cheap, Italians are mafiosi, Irish are drunks, Germans are belligerent, Muslims are terrorists, etc. etc. etc.).  I consider idiocy like this to be an alternative to thinking.

But religion and ethnicity are not where stereotypes end.  There is a vast degree of political stereotyping as well. 

I dont know who is reading this at the moment.  You might be to the right, to the left or somewhere in between.  But I can guarantee with virtual certainty that you know people who will take one or two of your political positions and, through stereotyping, project them to an entire agenda that you may NOT have. 

Take me, for example.  I support President Bush and I support the war in Iraq.  So what am I?  Am I a conservative?

But wait:  I support gay rights and legal unions of gay people with all the rights of conventional marriage (whether it is called "marriage" or "civil unions" is an issue of semantics to me as long as the rights are equivalent).  So am I a liberal?

I support a flat tax.  So am I a conservative?

I support a minimum wage and believe it should be raised (though not as quickly and as much as Democrats are proposing).  So am I a liberal?

I support Israel.  So am I a conservative? (despite the anomaly of many American Jews who both support Israel and vote liberal/Democratic, research shows that Republicans are significantly more likely to support Israel than Democrats). 

I support legalized abortion (until there is a beating heart and brain activity, after which I would only support it if the woman's life is demonstrably in danger).  I also support birth control.  So am I a liberal?

The point I'm trying to make here is that the single easiest path to prejudice and intolerance is seeing people as part of this or that group, rather than as the individuals we all are.  

Take it for what it's worth.


JIMMY CARTER AND FEDERAL PROSECUTORS

Ken Berwitz

As we watch Democrats gleefully turn the screws on President Bush and Alberto Gonzalez over the firing of eight federal prosecutors for (gasp!) political reasons, it would be good to remember a little history.

President Clinton fired all 93 federal prosecutors when he took office, and then subsequently fired another 35 or so of his own selections.  This has been reported sporadically, so you might know it -- even though it has, predictably, been downplayed by the Bush hating press.  (After all, if other presidents fire and hire this way there's no premise for attacking Bush when he does the same thing.  We can't have that, can we?)

But less well known is Jimmy Carter's  handling of federal prosecutors.  First off, let's consider his wonderful quote while running for the presidency:

"All federal judges and prosecutors should be appointed strictly on the basis of merit without any consideration of poitical aspects or influence".

That is a beautiful statement.  And if Carter actually followed through on it I would have a good word to say about him.  But this is Jimmy Carter, the most failed president of my lifetime and a man who has no problem lying.  The reality is that, as president, 64 of the first 65 federal prosecutors Carter hired were Democrats.

Then we have the David Marston firing.  Purely political and clearly because Marston was going after a Democratic congressperson.  This makes Bush look like a rank amateur by comparison, and shows Carter to be lying to your face just this past weekend (what?  Jimmy Carter lied?  That can't be.  He built houses for HABITAT FOR HUMANITY for god sakes.  Everyone LOVES him).

Read this and see for yourself.  It was written by John Gizzi, the Political editor of Human Events.  Bold print is mine:

-

Former President Jimmy Carter "lied then" about firing a U.S. attorney in 1978 investigating Democratic officials in Philadelphia and "lies now" in condemning the Bush Administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys and calling for Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales to go.

"All this Sunday school teaching does not seem to have the intended effect," said the U.S. attorney removed by Carter, David Marston of Philadelphia, in a reference to the former President's avocation as a Bible School teacher on Sundays.

Six days ago, I interviewed Marston about the similarities between the current furor over the forced exits of eight U.S. Attorneys by the Bush Administration and his own dismissal by Carter and he concluded "it's more different than similar to mine." We spoke again today after Carter himself appeared on the NBC-TV's "Today Show" Sunday and was asked about the Marston affair by interviewer Lester Holt.

"In my conversation with [Carter] this past week," Holt said, in introducing the 39th President, " the former President suggested the dismissal of David Marston was different from what the current White House faces." Holt then asked Carter: "How much latitude should Presidents be afforded in that area and do you even see a comparison between the two?"

"I dont see a comparison," replied Carter, "I think - I think the issue that's in the forefront of the news right now is not that those attorneys were fired, not even that they were fired because of some political purposes. The President has a right to do that. It was a lying about it that has precipitated the altercation."

In response to Holt's subsequent question about whether Gozales should have to step down, Carter said without explanation: "Yes, I do."

What does Dave Marston think? "Hes trying to rewrite history," was the response of the 64-year-old former prosecutor to the President who fired him. "Under the standard he has imposed on Gonzales, the President should have fired Atty. Gen. Griffin Bell in 1978." Although it is so far unclear how much Gonzales knew about what the U.S. prosecutors were working on when they were forced out and what reasons were behind their exits, Marston pointed out that then-Rep. Joshua Eilberg (D.-Pa.) had actually called Carter on November 4, 1977 to demand Marstons ouster and that the President, in turn, called Bell and told him to "hurry up" in finding a new U.S. attorney in Philadelphia. Eilberg himself was the subject of a corruption probe by Marston's office and, as Marston recalled to me, "the Justice Department was aware of this because I told Russell Baker [Bell's top aide] that Eilberg was under investigation. And Russell Baker, who was a stand-up guy, confirmed this."

A significant difference between his situation and those of the fired U.S. attorneys that Marston pointed out to me was that "Democrat controlled Congress in 1978 and did not investigate a Democratic President. Today, they control Congress and they will investigate the Republican Administration."

In reviewing the transcript of Carter's "Today" interview, Marston pointed out that the opening segment featured a clip of Carter from a news conference on January 12, 1978 in which he is asked about the Marston sacking and says: "Ive not interfered at all."

"That was on January 12th," the former prosecutor pointed out, "and yet the evidence shows that he had called his attorney general about replacing me two months earlier.

"That was a blatant lie then -- and President Carter has had 30 years to think about it."

-

Please keep this in mind as you watch the Democratic party do it's hypocritical dog and pony show.  And remember, the "neutral" media have told you virtually nothing about it.


JAMES DOBSON

Ken Berwitz

Obnoxious, sanctimonious and influential.  That is a bad combination.  And, unfortunately, it describes James Dobson to the nines. 

Spare me the people who think they have a lock on morality and acceptable behavior.  Spare me the people who think their way is the only acceptable way and if you don't meet their standards you are a lesser being.  Spare me the James Dobsons of the world.

Every time I see this human fart I think of a scene in that great, great movie "Inherit the Wind" where Matthew Harrison Brady (the William Jennings Bryan character) triumphantly comes into town.  Virtually the entire population turns out, complete with signs and banners that glorify Brady, extol his religious fervor and condemn everyone and everything that even hints of disagreeing with him.

H. L. Mencken, once described Puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy".  If he were alive today he would have substituted Puritanism for Dobsonism - and included his holier-than-thou group, Focus on the Family, in the bargain.

Here is the latest contribution of Mr. Dobson to our political discourse.  See how it sits with you:-

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 2:57 p.m. EDT

Dr. James Dobson: Fred Thompson 'Not a Christian'

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson has dealt a potentially devastating blow to Fred Thompsons presidential aspirations, saying the former senator is not a Christian.

"Everyone knows hes conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for, Dobson considered the most politically powerful evangelical figure in the U.S. said in a phone call to Dan Gilgoff, senior editor at U.S. News & World Report.

"[But] I dont think hes a Christian. At least thats my impression.

Thompsons spokesman Mark Corallo took issue with the statement.

"Thompson is indeed a Christian, he said. "He was baptized into theChurch of Christ .

Focus on Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger sought to clarify Dobsons statement, telling Gilgoff that while Dobson didnt believe Thompson belonged to a non-Christian faith, he "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian someone who openly talks about his faith.

"We use that word Christian to refer to people who are evangelical Christians. Dobson wasnt expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy.

Thompson has said he is leaving the door open for a presidential run. A Gallup-USA Today poll released on Tuesday has the Tennessee Republican running third behind Rudolph Giuliani and John McCain among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters.

Although Dobson has not endorsed any Republican presidential candidate, he told Gilgoff that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was the "brightest guy out there and "the most articulate politicians on the scene today. -

There's a lot to digest here, and digesting it isn't going to be very easy.  But let's try:

First of all, Dobson is certainly entitled to dislike Fred Thompson.  But what is his problem with Mr. Thompson?  It is that he is not "Christian" enough.

Personally I have no problem with a presidential candidate being outwardly Christian.  He or she has every right to a religious faith.  But I'll be damned if I would pick the president of a secular country based on his personal religious beliefs (actually, if Dobson had his way, I suppose I really would be damned).  

If Dobson needs an overdose of that ol' time religion from presidential candidates, that's his business.  But he exerts enormous influence over a great many other people and this mindset is what he injects them with.  Because of Dobson (among others) these people are being led into the interweaving of religion and secular politics and the two do not mix.  If this is ok with you, you may well be one of them.  If it isnt, you're on my side of the aisle I assure you.

The most comical part of Dobson's "thinking" (quotes very necessary) is that this religious zealot has no problem with Newt Gingrich as a presidential candidate??!  

I myself give Gingrich an A+ as a political visionary.  I think his contract with America concept was the single most important reason the country gave Republicans over a decade of majority status - which they have a very strong chance of regaining next year, by the way. 

 But for him to be supported by a guy like Dobson, who wears fundamentalist Christianity on his sleeve every minute of every day?  That's over the top, over the cliff and off the end of the world. 

How many wives does Gingrich have to hurt, how many extramarital affairs does he have to engage in, for James Dobson to care?  

Maybe James Dobson's idea of "real" Christianity is talking a lot about what a good Christian you are in front of cameras, regardless of how you actually live your life.  If so, I can see Gingrich being a great favorite of Mr. Dobson.  

Of course, based on that criterion, I can also see Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton being favorites of his.   Are they?

I rest my case.

 


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