Column on taking sides

Katon Dawson gets it. Why doesn’t everybody?
By Brad Warthen
Editorial Page Editor
OVER A LATE breakfast at a New York deli in September 2004, S.C. Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson cheerfully told me this story:Katon_1
    Years earlier, as a novice candidate who had been burned once by his own frankness, he started carrying a piece of paper that he would look at whenever he spoke to one of my colleagues. On it he had written some good advice: “Cindi Scoppe is not your friend.”
    It did not mean she was his “enemy”; it was just his reminder to be wary because a good reporter isn’t on anybody’s side.
    You see, Katon Dawson gets it. Plenty of other people don’t.
    I believe that one of my few qualifications for my job is that I am vehemently, stridently, nonpartisan. Mr. Dawson, and his Democratic counterpart Joe Erwin, would say I’m too harsh.
    But the problem isn’t just the two major parties, loathsome as they may be. It’s this ubiquitous thing of everything being divided into “sides” — you’ve got to pick, one or the other — to the point that even smart people are unable to frame issues any other way.
    Here’s another anecdote, involving the same Ms. Scoppe: A lawmaker told her there was an inconsistency on last Sunday’s editorial page.
    The editorial criticized House members for rejecting, on specious grounds, business leaders’ input in the tax reform debate. The column dissected the General Assembly’s rush to override the governor’s veto of an odious bill stripping local governments of the ability to regulate billboards in their communities.
    When Cindi told me the lawmaker said the two pieces contradicted each other, I retorted, “Huh?” If anything, they had a consistent theme: the Legislature acting against the public interest.
    But the lawmaker saw it this way: The editorial slapped lawmakers for not doing what business wanted them to do, and the column hit them for doing what “business” (the billboard industry) wanted.
    I responded, “Say what?”
    Cindi said maybe we hadn’t expressed ourselves clearly enough. At this, I got a bit shrill: “How on Earth could we have been expected to anticipate that anybody would read it THAT way?”
    And yet, people are always reading what we write that way. The whole world encourages them to perceive every public expression as pro-business or anti-business, or siding with Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals, black people or white people, rich or poor, fat or thin… you get the idea. That’s the trouble. Everybody gets the idea.
    This is a profoundly flawed way of looking at the world. If you accept or reject arguments, or even facts, according to whether they help or hurt your side, how can we ever get together and solve anything in a way that serves the common good?
    And yes, I know that the news media — especially television, although print is a culprit too — help create and reinforce this dichotomous world view. But that just makes me feel more obligated to use this page to encourage multilateral discussions that help people see things as they are, rather than the way one side or the other wants them to be.
    We’re not alone in this. We ran an op-ed piece Thursday from an assistant professor at USC-Aiken who faces the exact same problem every day in the classroom.
    Steven Millies wrote about a disturbing Emory University study. When the study’s author “showed negative information to his subjects about a politician they admired, the areas of their brains that control emotion lit up, while their reasoning centers showed no new activity.” Worse, when the subjects rejected information that they did not want to hear, their brains were rewarded in a pattern “similar to what addicts receive when they get their fix.”
    The damning conclusion was “that our political opinions are dominated by emotion, and that the reasoning part of our brain is not interested in political information that challenges us. In fact, our brains will work very hard to avoid that information.”
    This means Dr. Millies has an uphill fight in trying to teach his students that “In our political choices, we should not settle for the hollow comfort of feeling gratifyingly consistent in our assurance that one party is always right and the other always is wrong.”
    The trouble is, according to polls, about two-thirds of the electorate does cling to such assurance. That makes things tough for a fair-minded professor. It also makes it tough to publish a nonpartisan editorial page, and persuade partisans that that is actually what you are doing. No matter what you wrote the day before or the day after, a partisan tends to remember only the last thing you said that ticked him off, and to take that as proof positive that you’re on that other side.
    It doesn’t help that so many editorial pages are partisan, even at the best papers. You can almost always predict which “side” The New York Times will be on, and rely upon The Wall Street Journal to take the opposite view.
    None of us is immune to wrapping ourselves in comforting notions. Look at me: I didn’t want to hear what Cindi was trying to tell me. But I try to learn. I try to anticipate the way partisans of all sorts will perceive what I’m saying, and to express myself in a way that they see what I mean. But I often fail, and often in ways that surprise me, even after three decades of observing politics.
    Now here’s another perception problem to think about: “pro-business” or “anti-business.” Well, all I can say is that I’ll try.
    In the meantime, just in case anyone is still unclear: Sometimes business people are right; sometimes they’re wrong; sometimes they’re both. And when we write about them, we’re doing our best to sort all that out.
    It’s just like S.C. lawmakers: They don’t always do stupid stuff. It’s merely coincidence that on the two issues we wrote about last Sunday, they did.

61 thoughts on “Column on taking sides

  1. Paul Denman

    Column is right on the nail. Professor Millies column really brought home to me my emotional take on politics. I think Mr Warthen should try to be just a little lighter. After all, humour is really the only way to get back at pompous politicos.
    Pip Pip – Paul

  2. Ready to Hurl

    Dang pointy headed perfessors and librul media. They always wanna bring reason into the conversation.
    Marx and Engels would be proud.
    Uncritically loving America, unbridled capitalism and whatever FNC tells you should be good enuff— for true patriots.
    As much as you heathen would like to ignore it, God chooses the rich to rule because He wants the Best to run this Christian Nation.

  3. Jim C.

    I think I understand.
    Brad Warthen and The State = always right.
    Disagree with above = partisan = always wrong.

  4. Spencer (GS) Gantt

    I guess I don’t understand Hurl’s & JC’s (hmmmm) posts. Seemed to me there was no partisanship in the BW column. Only amazement at the extremely polar interpretations of the same two articles.
    Voters ARE are extremely partisan these days. Hatred for one party and devotion to the other. Maybe that’s where the moderates could “take over the government”. Get 1% each of the Dems and Repubs and that’s a pluarality of 35%. Then the squawkers could keep on squawking and sane people could run the government. If only it were true.
    Oh, yes. Humour ain’t gonna unseat any pompous PRC’s. Only votes will.
    BWarthen for governor!!

  5. Dave

    Brad, Human emotion is a factor in interpretation of what one hears or sees, but emotion is not dictating left vs right thinking. The Constitution is!!!!!!!!!!!! That is the basis of nearly all of my likes or dislikes politically. Someone wants to take away the right to bear arms (Amendment 2) and I don’t accept that. Censor free speech and I don’t like that. By the way, by NOT printing the recent Muslim cartoons, once they became a news item, you engaged in censoring at the State. The real true difference between left and right is the Constitution. Leftists see every need or problem as an opportunity for government to expand power and tax and spend and dominate. The Constitution was specifically written by the state to LIMIT government, not to expand it. That is the fundamental benchmark, not emotions. The study was really pretty silly since the researchers were measuring a part of the body that is more of a mystery than anything else in many respects. An interesting read, but really silly in the end.

  6. Herb

    Brad, I’m getting a lot, I mean a LOT more spam than I used to; I’m wondering if people are picking up my e-mail address off this blog, and if others are having the same problem, I’d like to switch e-mail addresses.

  7. David

    I thought your column was right on target.
    Your recount of the legilastor who was upset at Ms. Scoppe’s column and his total inability to understand the obvious – that different issues were involved is quite scary.
    If a legislator can’t see the difference in many varied business groups having concerns about the tax reform plan and one single minded business group – the billboard industry- having concerns about a bill – the legislator has mental problems.
    Your reference to the Emory story made sense to me. I see it in the sports world all the time.
    YOu will have perfectly reasonable and educated people defending their particular sports team in every situation – regardless if one of the members of the team breaks the law, etc – but yet they will rip the utter HELL out of the rival school if one of their players does something similiar.
    It is amazing to watch people try to justify that type of behavior.
    Sadly people will defend their own political favorites regardless of the facts but rip the other side on anything and everything.

  8. Mark Whittington

    Oh, come on Brad

    I’ve read every editorial and opinion column in The State for years, so there is no way you’re going to pull the wool over my eyes. Look, ostensibly you may be non-partisan, but you and The State’s editorial staff are very ideological. The real political battle in the US today isn’t between liberals and conservatives so much as it is between liberals and conservatives on the one hand vs. neo-liberals and neo-conservatives on the other. You and the other editorial writers consistently fall on the side of neo-liberalism/neo-conservatism and you call it “centrist”. Big money funds the neo-liberal/neo-conservative movement via centrist “think tanks” and via Chambers of Commerce across the country. Your own positions are virtually indistinguishable from those of the Chamber of Commerce by your own admission (and I suppose by your own volition). You don’t care if someone is a Republican or a Democrat-you only like people who subscribe to pro corporate, Chamber of Commerce positions, and to people who are to the right on social issues. Your ideological spectrum spans from John McCain to Joe Lieberman (with McCain being the more liberal between the two!). Big choice. Note: Let me take that back somewhat-McCain’s hero is T.R.; he tows the corporate line now, but he just may surprise some folks if he ever gets to the presidency.

    Whenever the neo-liberal/neo-con establishment starts to feel threatened (like they do now because the Paleos are up in arms over Bush selling them out on outsourcing, trade, and national security) then you start throwing out the culture war stuff to appease the right. Look at today’s opinion columns for example: one column is trying to mitigate the Paleo’s anger over port outsourcing by creating a phony security review, while the other column (by a turncoat leftist and draft dodger-a true neocon) is meant to throw some red meat to the Paleos and reactionaries on a social issue. To people who follow politics closely it’s obvious what you are trying to do. I don’t think that it is going to work this time though.

    By the way, where were the liberals and social democrats on today’s editorial page?

    Here’s a Paleo (yet bipartisan) piece for you- I can safely say that the left gives a big ditto to this one:

    Sink the Dubai Ports Deal!
    by R. Cort Kirkwood
    March 20, 2006

    “The Bush administration would put a despotic Islamic regime, whose potentates and bankers boast significant ties to al-Qaeda terrorists, in charge of American shipping. If that seems impossible, clearly it isn’t. The deal is yet another plot, approved in secret, which would undermine American national security and sovereignty for the benefit of the transnational political and commercial plutocrats who manage government and business across the globe.”

  9. Dave

    Mark, the living legend rock star of the left, Billy Bob Jeff Clinton, has been on the UAE payroll for several years now. He may have committed a crime by not registering as a paid agent for a foreign nation. He and Hillary used that money to buy the Westchester NY home but now of course Hillary is suddenly “unaware” of where that million came from. Odd for supposedly the smartest woman in the world. So, do you still think the “left” will join the ditto on this one? We shall see.

    For the record, we are making a huge mistake if the UAE is denied the shipping contract. It is interesting to watch the supposedly tolerant left profile and discriminate against Arabs.

  10. David

    Folks Like Mark Whittington or the exact reason why a lot of us either stay away from the polls or simply pick someone we think we like (instead of who we think may be the best candidate).
    Folks like Mark are so twisted and mean spirited in their thinking, they turn off anyone that may be inclined to agree with them on issues.

  11. Mark Whittington

    Bush is even worse than Clinton, if such a thing is possible. You can’t blame Bush’s incompetence on Hillary. Outsourcing American jobs isn’t being tolerant-it’s just plain Un-American. NONE OF OUR PORTS SHOULD BE CONTROLLED BY FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS OR CORPORATIONS-PERIOD. I’m sick of being stabbed in the back by a bunch of slick, corporate con men and economic traitors. The snow job is over.

  12. Mike C

    Mark –
    Bad news: all of our ports are run by foreign-owned enterprises.
    As for the politics of the ports and other such deals involving furriners, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was established in 1975 and was delegated authority by the President in 1988 to review and, as appropriate, investigate foreign acquisitions under the Exon-Florio amendment to the Defense Production Act of 1950. Here’s a US Treasury press release on the port evaluation.
    What we are witnessing on the right and left (and I’m a far righty!) is the triumph of emotion over policy, process, and consistency. The kind of thing Brad was writing about in his column. In this case the bureaucracy was grinding along, doing what it does, and many folks don’t like the results.
    Fine, change the laws, make US companies to do what they’re apparently not good at, managing ports.
    In fact, let’s just run the whole country by polling with instant Internet votes on everything government touches. Of course, one day we may feel one way, and then a different way on the next – I think that’s why we have a republic, but in fact that may have happened just because at some point our nation’s founders suffered collective ennui.
    Oooops! Many politicians seen to be doing all that and more now. Now if we had a press that would provide context … which is what I think Brad was getting at.
    Sorry to hear about your back.

  13. Lee

    The sale of port terminal management often has nothing to do with the assumed reason from Econ 101, that the seller “was not good at the business”.
    A terminal might be sold by management which is only interested in generating a pile of cash to make the immediate balance sheet look good so they can “earn” their huge bonuses.
    A foreign terminal might be a forced sale to a government which does not like a foreign ( American ) company running their seaport operations.
    A foreign government might just pay way more than the business is worth. They can always print more money.
    Just a few thoughts from my experience in seaport terminal management around the world.

  14. Lee

    One reason for confusion about that the editors of The State are thinking is that some of the editorials are poorly written.
    For example, this Sunday, the editorial about funding 4-year-old kindergarten was a stream of thought that threw out all sorts of numbers, and asserted that more money need to be spent, but never said which number they liked, or why. It read like an internal memo to people who had just been discussing the subject, with no background, context or explanation to the general reader.

  15. Mike C

    Different folks are for whatever reasons interested in different types of businesses. The economist Thomas Sowell has pointed this out in several fine books. Put enough Germans in one place and pretty soon you’ll have a brewery, a variety of sausage, and several really good mustards.
    Dubai does want to improve its port operations business for economic and non-economic reasons, as do Singapore and several other enterprises. But like with any business, you have to understand its inner workings and your customers have to believe that you’ll get the job done, that your brand can be trusted. Peninsular & Oriental Ports is a great brand. BTW, it was not an insider deal as you seem to imply: shareholders of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company approved the sale.
    Finally, nobody can really succeed in printing money these days thanks to the relative transparency of international financial markets. Argentina keeps trying, but keeps getting caught.

  16. Lee

    Hillary claims she didn’t know that Bill Clinton had been paid $600,000 by Dubai Ports World to help them lobby.
    Federal statute requires that he register as a Foreign Agent. Clinton apparently did not, and was operating illegally.
    Was the income reported on Hillary’s joint financial statement to the FEC? At two legal outside advisors ( Glover Park Group ) were working on the Dubai port deal, and using Bill Clinton as the go-between.
    Madeline Allbright and Vernon Jordan were also trying to get consulting fees from Dubai to facilitate the port sale.

  17. Lee

    Mike C –
    I have personal knowlege of several ports in the Dubai deal, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Thomas Sowell is a good economist with whom I agree on most things, staunch free-marketeers, like staunch socialists, sometimes make naive assumptions which they do not follow up with research to learn the realities.

  18. Mike C

    Sorry to take the discussion farther off track, but maybe we can swerve back on…
    Lee –
    While this horse is surely dead, none of the three assertions you made fit this case. The shareholders, not management, put the company up for sale, it was not a forced sale, the buyer did not have to print money. The transaction pushes Dubai Ports into the number three position worldwide and gives it a strong brand with a long history.
    I cited Sowell in a poorly supported argument to bolster my assertion that some folks (as in ethnic groups) have specialized in different industries over time. Dubai — existing in a part of the world where the notion of wealth is that it’s found / seized / traded, not created — wants to do expand its horizons and is the biggest host to the US Navy today. I’m no fan of the deal or the country, but there are some interesting facts underlying its move.
    Back to Brad’s main point, it does seem that most who’ve spoken out on this issue have done so not from a consistent ideological foundation (free-trade, protectionist, security, profiling, racism, etc.), but as a opportunity to attack or get some distance away from the administration. You mention the good fortune of the Clintons — Bill also tried to get
    buddy Joe Lockhart the gig as UAE spokesman
    . I bring this up because I ran across Lockhart in today’s Wall Street Journal advising Democrats against using impeachment in the 2006 elections.. He also seems to be making all the cool scenes. (Last item.)

  19. Plum Nuts

    Maybe we can find a foreign group willing to take on the duties of the federal government? Hmmm,,, China seems to be doing a good job of stabizing their economy and with extreme growth as well.

  20. Lee

    There are lots of Clinton associates swarming around this ports deal as agents for Dubai. Both the Clintons at this point seem to have violated federal laws.
    Whether the shareholders want to sell a business may or may not be relevant to a larger issue. For example, should a foreign government be permitted to buy the business?
    Most of the marine terminal sales in recent years have been without any stockholder input, because they were subsidiaries of subsidiaries of holding companies. Management and the board of directors made the decision. I am not talking theory here.

  21. Lee

    NOT TRUE: “…all of our ports are run by foreign-owned enterprises”.
    I hear this and other falsehoods bandied about by commentators who have a political stake in the issue, but little knowledge. Too many people accept such factoids and repeat them.

  22. Ready to Hurl

    Dave, just out of curiousity, what “huge mistake” would we be making if we don’t let UAE control six of our major ports?

  23. Spencer (GS) Gantt

    I thought UAE would only be controlling SOME TERMINALS at six of our ports. Isn’t this true of all ports, that various terminals are run by foreign companies but not all??

  24. bill

    They should give Cheney his guns and booze and let him control a port.
    If Brad says he’s nonpartisan one more time,I’m gonna HURL.He’s conpartisan.The State’s editorials are as predicatable as any newspaper’s.They gave Clinton pure hell.They walk on eggshells around the worst president in modern history.Sorry to use that worst prez thing.The Bush legacy cliche.

  25. Uncle Elmer

    Brad, perhaps you are being too thin-skinned, and you are maybe confusing editorials with persuasive writing. If your editorial is simply a statement of opinion, well opinions are only sometimes based on facts, and it should be no surprise if people agree or not based on their own personal contexts. If you are writing editorials and your purpose is incite debate, then you’re doing it correctly, and this partisan kind of response is great. (Although it is a shame people can’t be creative enough to have more than just two opinions.)
    This is different than writing an editorial that also tries to convince people your opinion is fundamentally correct. For that you really need to be thinking about the limitations of the medium for persuasion- can you afford room for references on the editorial page? Should your editorials be coupled to news stories so people can go look at some background? That’s the kind of thing you need to provide to reassure readers they are seeing an educated opinion rather than a spontaneous venting. You have asserted over and over that news and op-ed are different divisions at The State, maybe one of the limitations of that is that opinion pieces can’t command the amount of set-up you might want for context.

  26. Dave

    RTH – You want to know why barring the UAE company from doing legitimate business in the states here is a mistake.

    The UAE is not being given security controls over our ports or terminals. Think of the service they are buying as P&O functioning as a travel agency over commercial shipping traffic. The travel agency doesnt have anything to do with checking security. Given that, how can we “outlaw” UAE companies from doing business and investing here while US corporations from the US have contracts to manage UAE oil production and distribution. If GM or Ford wants to produce cars in the UAE, do we expect them to get a fair shake from their sovereign government? Arabs have invested heavily in many SC properties, including Kiawah Island. Let’s recognize that we are in a global economy. Trade and investment must be open. The UAE has been an ally in the War on Terror, welcoming US military ships for example in their ports. If you bar them from business in the US, yet welcome Chinese investment, what is the point? As I posted before, it is interesting to watch the liberal democrats begin ethnic profiling and discrimination. The democrats dont believe Saddam Hussein was an enemy but now they found an enemy, the United Arab Emirates. But Bill and Hillary Clinton like them, they pay big bucks.

  27. Ready to Hurl

    Dave, thanks for your reply. It was fairly rational until you started foaming about Dems and Clinton.
    Heh, heh, too bad so many Repubs are opposing the UAE deal, also. And, uhmm, isn’t Bob Dole (R-Erectile Disfunction) the foreign agent of record for the emirs? What kind of paychecks have the Carlyle Group and Bush, Sr. been pulling in from the emirs?
    This maybe just a minor point but it really sticks with with me: the reason that President Clinton declined to drop missiles on Osama once while OBL was falconing was that OBL was a guest of the UAE royals.
    Now, I guess some rabid Clinton-haters might say that the President was just keeping his options open for retirement— killing the half the emirs might foreclose a good paycheck. That, however, would make Clinton clairovoyant.
    I just wouldn’t want my “travel agent” to be pals with Mohammed Atta.

  28. Mark Whittington

    Thank goodness that there are still a significant number of people who are more devoted to the United States of America than to the Globalist sell-out of the country. There are a fair number of ex-military candidates running as Democrats for congress that most people could support. Lee Ballenger is running in the third congressional district-I only wish we had a candidate such as Mr. Ballenger to run for the second congressional district:

    National Debt
    Though they have historically campaigned on the idea of small, fiscally responsible government, Republicans in Washington have presided over the largest deficits in the history of our nation, increasing entitlement spending by $100 billion in the last eight years. Our national debt is currently being financed by China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia among many others. This leaves our nation at great risk; vulnerable to the whims of foreign powers. The national debt now tops $8 trillion and is rising at more than $2 billion a day! It is time for more than just empty rhetoric.
    We need a leader who will strive to balance our budget before we leave a crippling debt behind to our children and grandchildren.
    Bringing Jobs Back to South Carolina
    I believe in the essential American ideal that those who work hard and remain loyal to their employers should prosper and pass to their children a better life. Republicans, however, have continued to send American jobs overseas through pro-business legislation aimed more at improving the financial security of multi-national corporations than with protecting the livelihoods of working Americans. Due in large part to Republican backed free-trade legislation, 33,000 South Carolinians living in the 3rd district have joined the rolls of those receiving food stamps in the last few years.
    We need a leader who will carry the interests of his constituents at heart, not the interests of wealthy corporations.
    Special Interest Groups
    In the last election, my opponent, Gresham Barrett received nearly half of his campaign funds from special interest groups. Most of that money came from the pockets of Big Business. Not surprisingly, last year, on the advice of Tom DeLay and corrupt Washington leadership, Barrett voted in favor of CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Agreement) even though the legislation nearly guaranteed the continued shedding of South Carolinian jobs. For the current campaign cycle, Barrett has accepted over $130,000 from special interest groups; 97% of which has come, once again, from Big Business. I believe those who accept large contributions from special interest groups must serve to advance the interests of those groups even at the expense of their own constituents.
    We need a leader in Washington whose loyalty is not for sale.
    Moving People from Welfare to Living-Wage Jobs
    One of the biggest obstacles to moving people off public assistance is the lack of reliable transportation. Oftentimes employees cannot commute to work because of a lack of transportation or exorbitant gas prices. We must invest in providing our communities with reliable public transportation, in stimulating economic growth and in assisting small businesses in providing their employees living wages which will help to move citizens from public assistance to self-sufficiency.
    We need a leader who believes those willing to work should be able to do so.
    Stopping Illegal Immigration
    The Republicans have not fully funded the agencies that enforce our immigration laws or protect our borders. Illegal immigration breaks our national laws and places undue hardship on local economies to provide education, health care and police protection to people who are here illegally. Enforcement of existing laws is an urgent national priority.
    We need a leader who will empower our government to protect our borders.
    Health Care for All Americans
    Some 850,000 South Carolinians today have no health insurance and roughly half of the state’s children are Medicaid eligible. These statistics are simply unacceptable. There should be a comprehensive oversight of our health care industry to ensure that Americans are provided with affordable and accessible medical care. We must put the incentives in place to help small businesses provide health care coverage for their employees.
    We need a leader who understands that health care should not merely be for those who can afford it.
    A Resolution to the Conflict in Iraq
    Colin Powell has stated that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. He has further stated that the information he presented to the United Nations was unreliable and inaccurate. Our presence in Iraq is only unifying Islamic radicals against the American-backed government there. For these reasons we must develop a successful exit strategy, support the troops who are already deployed with the tools they need, and begin to forge diplomatic and economic relations with those factions within the country who choose to respect democratic principles.

  29. Dave

    RTH – Pre 9-11 I would agree that the UAE was complicit with the radical Islamics. Since that time, as they have seen AQ attack within Saudi Arabia itself, the UAE has changed their position to support the War on Terror. Correct me if I am wrong, but this is good, the kind of stimulus to response result that we want, yes?

    5 years is a long time to change a position. Libya has also changed, to the better also. So, in my thinking, we need to work with the good guys and punish the bad guys. Simple as that.

    As for Dole, what are the odds that he did NOT register as their agent? So, for those who adhere to the law, I say let them make all the money they can. If the UAE port deal does not fly, it will be as a result of overall American ignorance (including R and D types) rather than a just decision on the deal. I would say keep an eye on Lindsay Graham and see if he ends up supporting the deal. He is becoming a bellwhether.

  30. Dave

    RTH – I forgot to add an explanation of why Americans could be so ignorant of world trade, geography, and relationships. We simply need to look at the supposed “geography” teacher from Denver who seemed to teach anything but geography. Or the NJ school that right now is conducting a Bush war crimes trial. We can spend time teaching 15 year olds political ideology but they can’t do math, science, or know where the UAE even is on the map. The government truly needs to get out of the education funding business.

  31. Lee

    1/2 of all those with no health insurance have household incomes above $50,000, and elect to buy material possessions instead of insurance.
    1/4 of all those uninsured are only temporarily so, while changing jobs and/or insurance companies.

  32. Ready to Hurl

    No matter what the whims of the emirs are today they are sitting on a demographic and religious powderkeg. The emirs haven’t had a sudden change of heart towards becoming pro-Western or pro-democracy. The UAE is a shaky, straw ally in the “War Against Terror.”
    Like the Saudis the ruling emirs are between a rock and a hard spot. There are enough Al-Quaeda sympathizers among their citizens (just like below the corrupt and tottering al-Saud family) to make any sober observer concerned with U.S. national security opposed to allowing them access to U.S. ports.
    Wholesale slandering opponents to the deal as racists (as you do when comparing them to racial profilers) is despicable.
    BTW, below is a warning from Osama to the emirs. You doubt that Osama either has sympathizers in the UAE government or can buy the people that he needs in the company?
    In this case, the myth of “free trade” is a fast track to national suicide rather than slower economic suicide.
    In the Name of Allah the Most Compassionate and Merciful
    Date 14/ May/June/2002
    Al-Jihad Qaida’s [TC: Qaida: also means base in Arabic]
    {Get the idolaters out of Arab Island} [TC: Gulf Countries]
    To: Officials in the United Arab Emirates and especially the two emirates of
    Abu-Dhabi and Dubai:
    We have come to know definitely that the Emirate country is committing acts of
    injustice against the striving youth of the Emirates and others who sympathize
    with us in order to appease the Americans’ wishes which include: spying,
    persecution, and detainments. The United Emirates authorities have recently
    detained a number of Mujahideen and handed them over to suppressive
    organizations in their country in addition to having a number of them still in its
    custody. Undoubtedly, these practices bring the country into a fighting ring in
    which it cannot endure or escape from its consequences especially since the
    Emirates’ social composition is the most productive, and very explosive.
    You are well aware that we have infiltrated your security, censorship, and
    monetary agencies along with other agencies that should not be mentioned

    Therefore, we warn of the continuation of practicing such policies, which do not
    serve your interests and will only cost you many problems that will place you in
    an embarrassing state before your citizens.
    In addition, it will prove your
    agencies’ immobility and failure. Also, we are confident that you are fully
    aware that your agencies will not get to the same high level of your American
    Lords. Furthermore, your intelligence will not be cleverer than theirs, and your
    censorship capabilities are not worth much against what they have reached. In
    spite of all this Allah has granted us success to get even with them and harm
    However, you are an easier target than them; your homeland is exposed to us.
    There are many vital interests that will hurt you if we decided to harm them,
    especially, since you rely on shameless tourism in your economical income!!

    Finally, our policies are not to operate in your homeland and/or tamper with your
    security because we are occupied with others which we consider are enemies of
    this nation. If you compel us to do so, we are prepared to postpone our program
    for a short period and allocate some time for you.
    Therefore, we ask you to release all the Mujahideen detainees since September
    incidents and anyone who was detained and suspected of having a connection
    with these incidents; otherwise, we will be compelled, with no regret, to change
    our policies towards you.
    Al-Jihad Qaida Organization

  33. Dave

    RTH — you need to read more carefully. I never once used the term racist. Let me enlighten you, Arabs are not a race. I said ethnic profiling. So stop the race baiting already. Anyway, so Bin Laden issues a memo. ARe you ready to surrender. Is the UAE ready to surrender. I think the democrats are ready to surrender. Think about it.

  34. Mak Whittington

    That’s big talk considering that our illustrious leader has done nothing but sell-out American sovereignty and American workers during his entire reign for the sake of making his beloved investor class already richer than it is; people whose greed knows no bounds or borders and who are perfectly willing to undermine the condition of their fellow citizens with impunity. Bush and his cohorts are destroying the nation state of the United States of America with incredible indifference and arrogance. Bush and company outsourced the economic future of the American people with the full support of the Republican congress for years. Now whole country’s sovereignty is at risk. The New World Order is a disaster. Bush needs to be impeached! We need new representatives in congress.

    Repeat after me:

    I pledge Allegiance to the flag
    of the United States of America
    and to the Republic for which it stands,
    one nation under God, indivisible,
    with Liberty and Justice for all.

  35. Dave

    Mark, Justice for ALL. Everyone likes that. Let’s think about economic justice for ALL. If shoes were $500 a pair Americans would have a problem with that. If cars were $100,000 each same thing. So Malaysians make shoes, and earn money to support their families, and Americans get shoes for $75. Same with cars, put up trade barriers and tariffs on imported cars and it would cost us a fortune to buy an American car. Global trade is a win for all, like justice for all. And anyway, is not that Malaysian family worthy of a chance to work in a paying job? A Christian has to say yes to that. Free trade has it’s problems, especially to those in “exportable” jobs, but when we say justice for all, keep in mind what ALL really means.

  36. Spencer Gantt

    What’s the big deal with a trade deficit. It’s not money lost, is it? It’s not money in the hole as in the budget deficit, is it? Just curious here, not looking for a fight. Thanks.

  37. Dave

    Lee, we have a situation where we cannot explore and drill for our own oil, so we have to buy oil from abroad, and the same people preventing the collection of American oil continually moan about how much oil we import. We all know who they are.

  38. Spencer Gantt

    Aren’t the high prices of American manufactured goods responsible for our getting cheaper goods from other countries? And, isn’t the agricultural base declining for similar reasons — high prices and farm subsidies (for not growing stuff)?
    And, dittos on the “we’re too dependent on foreign oil, but for sure don’t drill for oil in our own backyard” crowd. Same folks gripe about budget deficits, but are the first to whine and cry against ANY budget cuts. And, they approve (vote for) the deficits.

  39. Ready to Hurl

    Dave, actually I’ve found that OBL’s statements to be a lot more reliable than Dear Leader’s.
    But, I’m not simply relying on OBL’s memo. I just find it interesting that he’s so upfront about the cards in his hand.
    Dave, the entire idea of racial or ethnic profiling is based on prejudice and bias. You’re reduced to splitting semantic hairs when your say that you’re not slandering opponents by parroting the “profiling” canard. It’s down right silly, too. But, that’s the depth of desperation that the Rove spin machine has sunk to.
    BTW, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard rightwingers excuse racial profiling in the U.S. because “blond, blue eyed Scandinavians didn’t attack us on 9/11.”
    You think that the Dems are “ready to surrender?” Why? Because they’re not an absolute rubber stamp for Dear Leader’s every unconstitutional whim? Because they actually dare to voice dissent when Bush takes us to war based on lies? Because they object when he’s willing to compromise the security of our ports to enrich his investors?
    Wake up and smell the coffee, Dave. Lots of the sheep-like voters Dear Leader has herded with scary pronouncements are waking up. Even his fellow Republicans are deserting ship. They want to get re-elected, it seems.

  40. Mark Whittington


    Unless you are in the top 2% or so in the US concerning wealth, then the trade deficit should be very disconcerting to you (as it is to me). Wealth inequality has doubled in the US since the seventies for two main reasons:

    1. The tax burden that wealthy people used to pay in the form of capital gains taxes, inheritance taxes, and corporate taxes was passed down to ordinary citizens in the form of property taxes, income taxes, and sales taxes.
    2. The trade deficit is an indication of the demise of American workers. American investors create capital in low wage countries to produce products that are sent to the US and that undercut the wages of American workers. Wages for American workers have remained static over the past twenty-five years, while return on investment for the wealthy has greatly increased, hence the wealth disparity.

    Take a look at the US wealth distribution on my mostly inactive website. The wealth distribution is already incredibly skewed and it’s totally beyond the pale of what should be acceptable for a major Western democracy, yet things can get much worse if we keep using the prevailing regressive taxation/free market paradigm. We’re going back to the Robber Baron days (pure capitalism) where the top 1/8 of the population owned 7/8 of the wealth. Believe me, it’s not going to be good to be in the bottom 7/8 of the population unless you want to be treated like a second class citizen, and unless you really want to be forced to take the second best of everything. I’m not making these numbers up either-actually they are quite predictable.

    Wealth distribution percentages are now predictable because a handful of people (including myself) have created model economies that accurately reproduce wealth distributions. The distribution that you see on my website was generated by a computer program that I wrote back in 2003 which uses statistically equal investors, producers, and consumers performing their functions within a simulated economy. Programs like mine prove that egregious levels of wealth inequality are statistically built into capitalism and that capitalism is inherently unfair. The adverse effects of capitalism may be mitigated however by progressive, re-distributive taxation. In my opinion, based on the wealth distribution, people in the bottom 95% of the population should effectively pay no taxes at all because capitalism by its nature takes the wealth generated by everyone and highly concentrates that wealth into the hands of a few. If wealth were in fact based on either differential ability or merit, then wealth would follow an inverse normal distribution (a much more egalitarian distribution) rather than the distribution that we have.

  41. Dave

    RTH – It will be interesting to watch the Dems go down the tubes again in the next election based on your type of thinking. All of this Bush bashing will do no good as he isnt running again for anything. Actually, I hope the left keeps thinking just like that as it will guarantee that the GOP prevails. Maybe we can get fatso Michael Moore to make another hideous propaganda movie in time to P.O. the reasonable American people. Karl will have to work on that one. You really do place more credence in what OBL says than what our own president says. You should really think about that. But again, that is fine. Watch the lefties begin to squawk and scream when Halliburton steps in to take the port contract. Now there is a real company to hate, American or not, right? But, then again, the Dems have finally found a real enemy, not Syria, not Iran, not N. Korea, no — drum roll here – the United Arab Emirates. The UAE had placed an order for 50 Boeing aircraft and have been hosting the entire US Navy in their ports safely and happily. But, hey, they are Arab after all, so the Dems have now mainstreamed ethnic profiling. It is on the record. Let’s hate all the Arabs — the new slogan of the Demoncratic party.

  42. Spencer Gantt

    It’s going to take me a while, MW, to get through your explanation above and your website which looks very good. In the meantime, though, could you explain to me via email how to put a link in a post as you did above with “US WEALTH DISRIBUTION”? Thank you.

  43. Lee

    Socialists are obsessed with “wealth distribution”, even when the reality is that the free market does not distribute wealth. Only dictatorial governments REdistribute wealth.
    The wealth of the well-to-do is irrelevant to even poor people in a free society, because there is no direct connection. The rich did not take money from the poor. Even the poor in America are among the richest people in the world.
    Envy is a sin, because it not only is destructive to society, but to the soul of the envious.

  44. Mark Whittington

    It’s not envy that drives me; it’s a yearning for justice and equality that drives my actions. I’ll never stop representing the working class in our state and nation. Capitalism is a giant pyramid scheme in which most people are bound to lose. Granted, capitalism benefits society because it does deliver necessary goods and services, but capitalism’s success rests upon the concept of divisions of labor rather than capital investment. Even the traditional view of divisions of labor is antiquated because within capitalism, divisions of labor are based on hierarchy, which in turn is based on the capital investment process itself. Today, we could easily ascertain divisions of labor that are short term in nature and that are determined democratically. Also, in modern times, questions of price and value can easily be determined using simple statistics. Big money controls both the media and the government in the US and it’s big money that promotes a system that it knows will most unevenly redistribute the wealth generated by the population into its hands. That’s why other Western democracies abandoned our skewed system long ago-the people within these democracies just wouldn’t tolerate the unfairness of laissez faire economics.

  45. Dave

    Mark, do you care about justice and equality for the poor in third world countries? Based on your posts, it appears you could care less. How do you reconcile that to all that compassion you seem to have?

  46. Ready to Hurl

    Dave, I read your posts when I need a good laugh.
    the Dems have now mainstreamed ethnic profiling.
    I’m not sure where you’ve been the last five years but the rightwing propaganda machine has been beating the racial/ethnic profiling drums for that period of time.
    Michelle Malkin, for one, said:
    “And, um, all I will say is that I think that — that, uh, these — these, uh, uh, categorizations: Race, ethnicity, religion, etc., shouldn’t be taken off the table. And I’ll tell you — you’ve got these civil liberties hypocrites — these liberal hypocrites … who have no problem using these classifications if it means that, uh, they can have diversity in police departments or fire departments or to, uh, affect and socially engineer, uh, a campus.” [8/11/04]
    Here’s Peggy Noonan, Reagan speechwriter and wingnut deluxe, advocating profiling in October, 2001:
    But there are things we know. As individuals, these men–for they are men, between roughly 17 and 45, which is to say they track in terms of sex and age group American criminals in American jails–are not only “hate filled” and “evil,” though they are these things. They are also, obviously, emotionally and intellectually primitive. Their minds, if quick and highly focused, are also limited, stunted. And their young-man’s arrogance is both a strength and their potential undoing. (Young male criminals of whatever sort tend to showy arrogance, and it is often their undoing.)
    And I think as we attempt to find the bad guys in Afghanistan and elsewhere, we should all be thinking a little more, as citizens, about the search going on here, in America.
    The people who are trying to kill us with bombs and biological weapons are not from Canada, Chile, China, India, Ireland, Tanzania, Congo, New Zealand or the island of Jamaica.
    They are from the Arab Mideast. They are not Israeli.
    They are men, and not women.
    They are young men. That is, they are not old men, and they are not children.
    So: We know the profile of the bad guys.
    Dave, if I had more time I could search out even more egregioius instances of rightwing advocacy of racial/ethnic profiling. Rush Limbaugh is sure to be a gold mine.
    But, I don’t have the time. Actually, I grow depressed at how the followers of Dear Leader’s personality cult are so reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984.

  47. Dave

    RTH – You may have missed my whole point way back whenever. I am mocking the left for suddenly stepping forward to condone profiling, but I can tell you I condone it one hundred percent. I am not a hyprocrite about it. Here we have a proven situation where, with the exception of a few wayward Cubans, ONLY middle easterners hijack planes. So, Norman Mineta (a real idiot) orders the airlines to check “randomly”. So we pull the 83 year old granny heading home for Thanksgiving and let an Arab pass through unchecked. How politically correct. Why is this happening? Because of the political left, that is why. They scream racist, just like you, any time someone uses common sense. If red hair men over 6 feet tall had done all of the terrorism via the airlines, we would bypass them and check elderly WW2 veterans. By the way, Peggy Noonan is NOT a conservative. You need to read more of her writings. Great writer but all over the board.

  48. Ready to Hurl

    Dave, here a few words of enlightenment from David Sirota for “free traders” who delude themselves into thinking that multi-nationals chasing lower wages is actually compassionate humanistarianism.
    The shills who have pushed America to eliminate all labor, wage, human rights, and environmental standards from our trade policy often smarmily tell us that they are really doing so because they want to help poor workers abroad. They call this “free” trade even though it is anything but. And at first, their happy logic seems sound – investment in underdeveloped countries will bring resources to those countries, and a rising tide lifts all boats. But even if you ignore wealth stratification statistics and actually believe that nonsense, one taboo question, inadvertently raised by a new Businessweek article, never gets answered: what happens when companies find even cheaper labor markets than the original one?
    Here’s what I am talking about. NAFTA was supposed to help improve conditions for Mexicans. Ten years later, statistics show 19 million more Mexicans live in poverty. Meanwhile, economist Jeff Faux notes:
    “Average real wages in Mexican manufacturing are actually lower than they were [since NAFTA]. Two and a half million farmers and their families have been driven out of their local markets and off their land by heavily subsidized US and Canadian agribusiness. For most Mexicans, half of whom live in poverty, basic food has gotten even more expensive: Today the Mexican minimum wage buys less than half the tortillas it bought in 1994.”
    This is, in part, due to the fact that soon after we inked NAFTA, we signed the China PNTR deal and brought China into the WTO, meaning both American and Mexican jobs got shipped off there. This is a trade policy that does justice not to workers, but to people like GE CEO Jack Welch who famously said “ideally, you’d have every plant you own on a barge” – with the “free” trade policies allowing that barge to move operations to find lower and lower wages in more and more desperate countries.
    Now, even as U.S. wages stagnate thanks to free trade deals undermining worker bargaining power, we see our government is publicly pushing for a new free trade deal with Vietnam. And as Businessweek indicates, that would logically help the “barges” exploit even worse conditions. In a story about Intel opening a factory there, the magazine notes:
    “A big reason for the [new investment] is rock-bottom wages. As labor shortages in some regions of China drive up costs, factory hands in parts of the mainland can earn more than five times the $55 per month that Vietnamese workers in foreign-owned factories are paid. That differential is a big reason why Sparton Corp. (SPA ) of Jackson, Mich., chose Vietnam over China last year when it made its first investment outside North America… And Vietnam this year might wrap up negotiations for World Trade Organization membership. That would be a huge boon.”
    So there you have it. $225-per-month Chinese wages are simply too high – so the corporate elite join hands with the corrupt politicians to move forward another round of “free” trade deals – stripped of wage/labor/human rights/environmental protections – to open up even cheaper pools of exploitable, oppressed workers. The moment workers start making any economic gains at all – out comes another trade deal to open up another pool of oppressed labor so that the corporate barges can cut costs.

  49. Mark Whittington


    I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to get back with you earlier. To make a link like the one you mentioned, go to this website and look at the anchor tag example. To do stuff like making links, bold text, and italic text, you use tags in HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language), which is the language that is used to make web pages. Copy the grayed out text underneath the following sentence, “This anchor defines a link to W3Schools:” and paste it in into Note Pad. Save the Note Pad text that you’ve just pasted with an html extension in some place that you can find it. Call the file testlink.html if you like. Now with your browser software open testlink.html and you’ll see the link: Visit W3Schools!. Click on the link and it will take you to the W3Schools website.

    With Note Pad, re-open testlink.html. Whenever you want to make a link, just replace the text within the tag with the text that you want the link to say, and replace the internet destination (the url between the quotation marks) with the url that you want readers to be linked to. Now, when you copy the anchor tag that you’ve just modified, paste it into the text where you want it to be inserted and you are ready to go. Copy all the text with the link (the anchor that you have created) and paste it into the comments section on the blog.

    Whenever I write a blog piece, I’ll write the text in Word or Works and then paste it into Note Pad. Then I’ll add all the tags for paragraphs, links, breaks, bold text, and italic text. After that, I’ll cleanse the document by replacing all the apostrophes and quotation marks with Note Pad apostrophes and quotation marks (because Word’s apostrophes and quotation marks don’t work on Brad’s blogging software!). After I do all of that, then I’ll save the Note Pad text as an html document and view it in a browser to make sure that the links work and that the text looks right.

    Previously, I purposely linked you to the W3Schools website because it has a great HTML tutorial with all the tags that you’ll ever need to write blog pieces or to make web pages. It also has a good Javascript tutorial.

    To save yourself a lot of time writing HTML for blog pieces and web pages, download Eversoft First Page 2006. It’s free and it is good (although after a while it will give you a nag screen to buy the real thing). With First Page you can easily insert tags and run scripts. You can also easily switch between your HTML source text and its browser so that you can test and debug your HTML. Another advantage of using First Page is that it automatically cleanses your text for you once you paste it.

    One last thing-only a few tags work in Typepad (Brad’s blog software), so before you actually make a post, preview it first in Typepad to make sure that everything is OK.

  50. Ready to Hurl

    Dave, the whole idea of comparing ethnic/racial profiling and opposing a company owned entirely by a Middle Eastern royal family is fallacious and rediculous. It’s a red herring, Dave, for rubes who don’t want to get tarred with that brush. The illogic and sheer stupidity boggles the mind but points to the idiocy that Rove & Co. have consistently mined. (Now there’s a guy who took P.T.Barnum’s maxim to heart!)
    Obviously, reactionary wingers don’t have a problem whatsoever with racial profiling, government eavesdropping electronically and God-knows-what other violations of American’s rights— just as long as they’re assured that Dear Leader is looking out after their well-being and homos can’t get married.
    Of course, they don’t have a problem as long as Dear Leader does it. If President Clinton had tried it, wow… good ole “moderate” Lindsay “light in his loafers” Graham would have lynched him personally.
    Well, it looks like Rove and Bush got hoisted on their own petard. They’ve been encouraging nativism, hysteria and xenophobia since 9/11 for political gain. Finally they get burned by the fire they’ve fanned.
    Oh, yes, about Bush-hating… by the end of this train-wreck administration the entire Republican establishment (even McCain) will be so tarred with numerous disasters that they’ll deny ever even knowing Dear Leader. BTW, I don’t hate Dear Leader. I hate everything that he stands for.
    Admitting that a homicidal terrorist is more reliable or competent than the President of the United States certainly doesn’t cause me any joy. Quite the opposite.

  51. Mark Whittington


    I do care about people in third world countries. Not surprisingly, third world denizens are usually the most outspoken critics of free trade policies because they know it leads to de-facto slavery. I’m too busy though fighting off free trade’s adverse effects on American workers to concentrate on the third world’s plight.

    Instead of pitting American workers against global average wages of $0.69/hr, we should voluntarily give developing countries substantial capital to produce their own goods and services. We also should give them our standards and make everything interchangeable except the labor. That way they could develop their own markets without damaging either our labor force or forcing their workers into industrial slavery.

    We should have across the board tariffs based on average worker wages with a bottom side living wage cutoff. We also need to cap wealth inequality at the top 1% owning 20% of the wealth via the tax code, and cap CEO vs. worker pay at 30 times. That way we could still allow trade without hurting American workers, poverty would be reduced, and we could get back to being a more egalitarian, equitable society.

  52. Dave

    Mark, The latest issue of Time magazine has an article on aging workers who take bridge jobs, i.e. retire from your primary job and then downshift to another job that permits time flexibility and more leisure time. In the article, the economists note that soon America will suffer from the NEED of ten million workers. Shortage that is. We all know that shortage means wages will go up. The baby boomers retiring will open up millions of good jobs (for those with a mind to get educated). Think positive, we live in a great country.

  53. Dave

    RTH – The good thing about you is that those who think like you represent probably only about 5% of the US citizenry. Thus, I understand your rage when you must realize you will live your entire life as a extremist whose views would be welcomed in a Michael Moore movie, but generally laughed at by 95% of your fellow citizens.

    As for Lindsay, who I admire as an excellent statesman of a Senator, even while occasionally disagreeing with him, what does “light in the loafers” mean? I suspect you are accusing him of gayness. So, we know see you are a finger pointing homophobe and an ethnic racist. Quite a person you are.

  54. Ready to Hurl

    Dave, lemme get this straight.
    You wholeheartedly endorse using racist measures (racial/ethnic profiling) against individuals in the U.S. Yet, you accuse me of racism because I object to letting a Middle Eastern monarchy have control of our ports.
    You support a political party that has, from top-to-bottom, used homophobia as a political rallying cry. But, you accuse me of being a homophobe.
    Maybe you’re just afraid that if anyone suggests that Mr. Graham’s sexual orientation might be of the “Broke Mountain” variety that the typical SC Republican might begin having severe second thoughts about their “statesman.”
    Already, Mr. Graham’s independence of Dear Leader’s personality cult has led SC Republicans to doubt his bona fides.
    If your political opinions earned my respect in any way then I might be concerned that you think my positions are extreme and “Michael Moore-esque.” Given your other pronouncements, however, I write off your ability to speak for the rest of the nation. (Have you noticed Dear Leader’s poll numbers lately, by any chance?)
    It’s pretty obvious that you mistake SC—a hot-bed of prejudice and a bastion of political regressiveness— as representative of the entire U.S.
    BTW, I haven’t even mentioned the ultimate stupidity and ineffectiveness of racial/ethnic profiling individuals for security purposes. But, at least you’re consistent in your wrongheadedness.

  55. Lee

    Black and Hispanic police favor using the proper police technique of profiling suspect, in which race is ONLY ONE FACTOR.

  56. Dave

    Lee, never attempt to use facts to change the mind of a leftist. To them, any means is justified to get to the end, so facts simply get in the way. Also, why would a white liberal ever actually do or listen to what a black or hispanic person wants, remember, liberals think the minorities are so stupid and incompetent that we must “give” them preferences so they might be able to compete against the whities. That is how the liberal mind thinks, sick, isnt it?


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