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    The Pain and Drama of McCain & Obama

    Doing the Math

    I was pretty angry after reading the article about the rise in threats against Obama. School kids chanting "assassinate" should be suspended. Towns and schools employing biased administrators who subsequently infringe on First Amendment rights should be sued. Backwoods hicktown general stores in Maine hosting assassination pools should be stomped into the ground by a herd of flatulating moose. I was flabbergasted by how little our nation has evolved since 1992...since 1968...since 1861. But then I started thinking, have I just fallen victim to another media hype story? Are the 15 or so examples listed in the article really that indicative of the pulse of white America? And since when are schoolchildren's chants or cowardly notes left on windshields worthy of national news?

    I thought Karen Sternheimer summed up the race issue fairly well in this article.  Especially when she writes, "...we shouldn't take this milestone [Obama's election] to mean that racism is no longer an issue in the United States. In fact, this election brought racism out of its usual hiding places." Those hiding places are all over America, in Pittsburgh, in Alabama, in Idaho, in Maine. But according to CNN's Election Center, over 66.7 million voters chose Obama compared to McCain's 58.3 million, for a total of 125 million votes cast. I don't have the actual demographic of that vote at my fingertips, but if it's anything like 2006, when blacks made up 41% of registered voters who turned out, (as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau) that would be the equivalent of 51.3 million voters, of which 95% voted for Obama, according to a USA Today exit poll. That equates roughly to 48.3 million black voters who voted for Obama (by 2006 standards), which means the other 18.4 million voters would have had to come from non-black sources, of which whites make up the vast majority (52% of the remaining 59%) Averaging out the 7% of Hispanic and Asian voters to 64% for Obama (66% Hispanic to 62% Asian), it means about 5.6 million voted democratic, leaving roughly 12.8 million white voters who voted for Obama. By 2006 standards that would have only equated to 20% of the white vote, but we know that the actual numbers among white voters were 55% for McCain and 43% for Obama. So what that tells me is either the black vote surged this year in support of Obama or the white vote declined out of apathy for McCain. In truth it's probably a combination of both factors, which means this election was based more on race than the media ever led us to believe. Certainly straight politics were a factor too, but it's certainly alarming to see the vote split
    along such clear racial divides. I know my numbers here are flawed but I think they're close enough to draw some general conclusions, and they suggest we may be in for more aberrant behavior from disgruntled whites in the future.


    My Kind of Politics

    This is how I shape my political opinions, as shown on MSNBC:



    A New World Order

    I received this file shortly after the election, which shows some of the worldwide and domestic reactions to Obama's election. Obviously it's slanted to promote his messiah-like effect on the world, because surely not everyone was falling over themselves with his election, but it's still noteworthy to consider how much the rest of the world hinges on what our country does. I guess the U.S.A. is still a "player"!

    Obama World Reaction

    (I made a Powerpoint Presentation out of the file.)


    It's Black and White

    It's been a while since I blogged, partially because I had to soak up the events of the week and process them in my head. Here's some observations I've made since Election Day.

    • At several points on election night NBC showed breakdowns in their virtual room on the breakdown of various voter blocks and how they voted. Obama faired compared to McCain in most groups, but when they showed the graphic for black voters the scales were tipped 9 to 1 in Barrack's favor. It made me wonder, are all of these black voters voting for Obama primarily because he's black? And if that's the case, is that any worse than a white voter not voting for him because of his color? Or is there a deeper story here, an inability of the McCain campaign to identify with the needs of the African-American population. I would like to think the latter, but I fear the former.
    • After Obama was declared president, I felt a little put off by the focus of network TV, which seemed to focus primarily on the slant of the culmination of the civil rights movement culminating with the presidency of the United States. I know it's a big, big story but in my view it's sort of a manufactured story. As one of the blogs we read this week alluded to, "Mutts Like Me", Obama certainly doesn't seem all that captivated by his supposed championing of the black cause--instead of signifying the black man's rise to the presidency, he seems more like a president who happens to be black. This seems consistent with earlier criticism in his campaign  that somehow he wasn't "black enough".
    • In the ensuing week, I've noticed that some of the white people whom I know harbor prejudices have since gone quiet on the subject of race and a black president in the White House. That doesn't mean the prejudice and bigotry isn't there, I believe it's just gone underground. I think one of the most intruging aspects of a black presidency is how it's going to affect this group of whites who still harbor 20th century racial resentment. They're going to be forced to confront their bigotry head-on, especially if Obama makes good on his campaign promises to turn the economy around, capture or kill Bin Laden, and get us out of the war in Iraq. The more his presidency succeeds, the more polarized and isolated the preudiced will find themselves from mainstream society, unless they can reexamine their belief system and change their ways of thinking.

    Hopefully I'll have a little more on this tomorrow. Looking forward to the class discussion. Who's bringing the champagne?


    But Seriously, Folks

    I'm thinking about this left-wing/right-wing Duel-to-the-Death thing, and also the scary notion that all of our storied news institutions are being undermined by an army of snot-nosed computer geeks with camera phones, and I have to say that although they're two different animals, I think they're of the same species. Now I'm no journalist (as if you couldn't tell) but I did take half of a Journalism 101 class at Manchester Community College about 25 years ago, so I know what I'm talking about. I know there's this thing called the Canons of Journalism (which has since renamed the American Society of Newspaper Editors' (ASNE) Statement of Principles without anyone even telling me), and these principles/canons are listed on the ASNE website: http://www.asne.org/kiosk/archive/principl.htm <http://www.asne.org/kiosk/archive/principl.htm> .
    The preamble of these principles reads, "The First Amendment, protecting freedom of expression from abridgment by any law, guarantees to the people through their press a constitutional right, and thereby places on newspaper people a particular responsibility. Thus journalism demands of its practitioners not only industry and knowledge but also the pursuit of a standard of integrity proportionate to the journalist's singular obligation." That establishes the obligation of journalists who also receive the benefits of the Free Speech amendment. There are six ensuing Articles, and Article IV concerns impartiality, the lack of which is bias: "To be impartial does not require the press to be unquestioning or to refrain from editorial expression. Sound practice, however, demands a clear distinction for the reader between news reports and opinion. Articles that contain opinion or personal interpretation should be clearly identified."
    Of course, bloggers are generally free-lancers, many who probably haven't had even a half of a class in Journalism, so they either don't know about the ASNE Principles or they couldn't care less about them. I always thought that being a bona fide journalist meant that you swore some kind of an oath to abide by these principles, in a Kevin Bacon-large paddle kind of way. However, with the polarization of media outlets like Fox News and MSNBC, I'm left to wonder if that's true, or whether or not there are any similar principles set forth for the broadcast media at all. So what good does it do to have these Principles, or the ASNE itself, if the tendency is to throw them to the wind and write what we will? Maybe one solution would be for the ASNE to get off their duffs and start taking a greater role in ensuring its principles are promoted and followed. Maybe they could devise some kind of Bias-o-Meter rating system that could help readers and viewers understand the tendencies o
    f the journalists and bloggers who are feeding them information, with 0 being totally slanted and 10 being totally impartial in the eyes of the ASNE. Then you could watch Jon Stewart, for example, and say, "Ha ha, very funny, but he consistently averages a 4.4 on the Bias-o-Meter." I don't know, I'm just thinking out loud here.