Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Obama: Winner of the War?

After reading an op-ed in New York Times about Obama's success at handling the bringing down of Osama Bin Laden, I began to wonder what the conservative media's response was to Obama's recieing the credit capturing/ killing Osama Bin Laden. I headed over to Fox News to check it out. On their landing page there were two articles about Obama and the capture of Osama. The first was entitled Obama's Big Bet on Ground Zero , this article focused on Obama's visit to Ground Zero post the capture of Bin Laden as being primarily motivated by Obama's wish to get a bounce in the polls. I found it interesting that Fox News is framing Obama's response to the capture of Bin Laden as a campaign move, rather than a desire to address during this victorious time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Comeback Kid

While maintaining his staunchly anti-Republican stance, Jacob Weisberg, a writer and blogger for Slate magazine, managed to dole out a couple of compliments to Republican nominee front runner Paul Ryan, will this alienate Paul Ryan from devout Republicans. Should Paul Ryan be happy that he is getting positive media attention from Liberal bloggers? Interestingly this election season seems to have alot of moderate contenders (Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Tim Pawlenty), I am wondering how these candidates are going to protray themselves in the media, and how they are going to capitalize on their possible appeal to both middle of the road voters. Also are some of these candidates (because of their relatively good looks and progressive attitudes) going to take away from the Obama monopoly on the youth. Tim Pawlenty seems to be as savvy as Obama in the technology camp, and Paul Ryan seems to be the Republican version of Obama. Will 2012 be the year Republicans come back from their old white man reputation?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"America is Not at War!"

Yesterday's Jon Stewart made an excellent point. Although it is important to question what the United States is doing in Libya, it is also important to understand that what we are doing cannot be readily defined in the way people are used to. When Americans went into Iraq/ Afghanistan, people wanted to know very clearly; are we at war, are we not at war? Doing this has gotten America into a lot of trouble. It is because we went in so quickly without assessing the situation that we went into a situation that was a lot more complicated than we anticipated thus requiring a much more complicated strategy than saying "we are at war with Iraq." We weren't ready to engage in a more nuanced understanding of the war, thus we were unprepared to take on the challenges thrown at us. No one asked the questions who is Iraq or what does it mean to be at war with Iraq? All people wanted to know was, Yes War or No War. It think that what Jon Stewart is pointing out is that this oversimplified question is irrelevant, and that what is more relevant is knowing why and who and what, not yes or no.

P.S. After watching the first part of the Obama speech video I realized that Joe Biden is Obama's foil... who agrees?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Progress on "The War on Metaphor"

Now that I have finished writing my paper on the book "At War with Metaphor" I feel that I have a much better grasp on the framing issues we face when engaging in dialogue about terrorism as a threat to our national security. Very much connected to this issue are the hearings that are addressing the prblem of homegrown terrorism being held by Peter King. These hearings prompt the question, Does the outcry that following Peter King's announcement of the address show that America has progressed passed the simplistic understanding of terrorism as being sourced in Western Muslim communities? Are the progressives gaining ground on the framing war that has long been occuring between the Liberal and Conservative community. I think that this "war on terror" has taught Americans many lessons, one of which is that conflict is not simple, uprooting its source is not as simple as annihalating and destroying entire countries, religions, and cultures, and replacing it with our ideals. I think that the outpouring of sympathy for the Muslim community shows that the American people are begining to set aside the simplistic notion that all Muslims are terrorists and that the way in which we rid our world of terrorism is by doing away with the Muslim community. I think that the next step is to work together with the Muslim community to uproot the real sources of terrorism. What do you think the next step should be?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

China: The Great Queller of Dissent

The NYTimes reported that in light of the recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, China has begun to retighten security on foreign (non-chinese government paid journalists) reporters. So far this tactic has worked. Although there have been some attempts made via internet networking sites nothing has gone further than small "skirmish" like protests, that ended in the Chinese military coming to break them up. Do you think that the autocratic tactics employed by China to maintain the veneer of national content is going to backfire? Is China doing the right thing by keeping dissent quiet, perhaps small sacrifices in free speech is a small price to pay for economic and social stability?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wikileaks: A Crime?

Yesterday Bradley Manning, the soldier responsible for transmitting top secret documents to Wikileaks organization founded by Julian Assange, was served with an additional 22 charges. In these charges he is being accused of aiding Wikileaks an "enemy" of the United States. When the Wikileaks scandal was first revealed there were many questions about whether or not Wikileaks was (and is) posing a legitimate threat to national security and thus in revealing the information is going beyond what is the responsibility of the news media. Is this an example of watchdog "journalism?" (Can Julian Assange/ Wikileaks be called a journalistic organization?) Is this any example of censorship during war time (Do Julian Assange's actions directly effect the war?) Is there a time when journalists should exercise discretion when deciding what information they reveal, in other words is it in good taste to reveal that Qaddafi surrounds himself with especially bodacious women? If Wikileaks wants to see themselves as a revealer of the truth, should they be revealing that American diplomats are "question[ing] Putin’s work ethic,” why is that a truth that is important to know (What truths are important to know, should we only be told truths that are important to know?)  


With the new information coming out about Bradley Manning's charges, a host of questions come to mind. Should Manning be treated differently (judged more harshly) because he is a member of the military. Was Manning correct in revealing these top secret documents? Is this scenario comparable to Abu Ghraib (or any other on-goings in the American military/government that are less than proper?) 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Class on Politics: Taught by NBC's "Community"

Last week's Community perfectly parodied (in under 25 minutes) the 2008 presidential election. The premise of this episode is that Joe Biden is coming to visit Greendale Community College and there needs to be an elected student council before he arrives. The candidates are a motley group parodying our real life politicians from past elections. Our traditional understanding of news media is that given to us by traditional news sources (the newspaper and the nightly news shows), but this episode of Community shows that our source of political knowledge comes from more than just the traditional news sources. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Saturday Night Live are all examples of untraditional media outlets from which we derive our understanding of politics.

Knowing this, it would be interesting to discuss the  biases apparent in the portrayal of presidential candidates as parodied in these alternative "news sources." For example during the 2008 primaries SNL parodied how gracious the real news media was to President Barack Obama and how they --shall we say, less than gracious-- they were to Hillary Clinton. These shows do no operate under the pretense of being objective, but perhaps through highlighting the situation to the extreme, they can help us as discerning receivers of all this information in understanding the weaknesses and strengths of the traditional media as "objective" portrayers of the presidential elections.