Saturday, August 28, 2010

My absence / Weekly review (RoJo, campaign spending up, mosque hysteria continues)

I've taken the past week off in order to refocus my thoughts, and to frankly have just time away from writing in general. That doesn't mean, however, that I haven't been paying attention to the latest stories and headlines. While I was gone I have been keeping them fresh in my mind for when I returned to Political Heat.
  • It was revealed this week that Republican Party senate candidate Ron Johnson's company, which he frequently touted as having never received any special treatment from the government, received special loans in the 1980s numbering in the millions of dollars. "I have never lobbied for some special treatment or for a government payment," Johnson has said. Clearly, Johnson has some homework to do, on his own campaign no less.

  • Political ad spending for 2010 has surpassed the amount of spending at this time in 2006 (the last midterm election year), and by all accounts this year's ads have been about the negativity. Two issues come about from this. First, it's become increasingly clear that Americans need to be super-wealthy millionaires (or even billionaires in Michael Bloomberg's case) in order to run a campaign. The only other option is to have serious campaign finance reform. The other issue is on whether negative campaign ads are really bad -- or are they good? -- for democracy. Consider this scenario: two candidates vying for the same office are exactly the same in every way, but Candidate A is willing to sell national parks to private contractors (who can in turn sell them to be developed) while Candidate B opposes this plan. Is it wrong for Candidate B to point this out in a campaign advertisement? Or is he obligated to? That said, campaign ads, when negative, need to highlight truth, not spin, in order to be acceptable (or, in other words, the only "good" campaign ads that are negative are ones that are based in truth).

  • The New York City mosque hysteria has continued, and sadly it has taken a turn for the worse. Two incidents in NYC perpetrated against peaceful American Muslims have come to light. The first involves a young man, who had volunteered in Afghanistan with an interfaith organization meant to bring different beliefs closer together, stabbed a taxi driver after discovering that the driver was a Muslim. A second man, heavily intoxicated, came into a mosque during nightly prayers, yelling anti-Muslim epithets while urinating on prayer rugs. These two incidents, as well as others like them (and there have been others 1 2), are clear indicators that the media in this country, specifically right-wing radio and FOX News, have successfully labeled the Muslim-American community in our nation as the enemies. What a terrible representation of what our founding fathers stood for, of what our nation has stood for since even before its founding.
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