Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Mayors

Mayor Barletta is a Yankees fan and Mayor DeStefano is a Mets fan, but their differences don't end there. Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta and Mayor John DeStefano of New Haven, Connecticut appeared in the Sheehey Campus Center Thursday evening, October 23 to share their different policies concerning illegal immigrants. Mayor Barletta has taken measures to discourage illegal immigration to Hazelton, claiming illegal immigrants have increased crime there. In contrast, Mayor DeStefano has made efforts to make illegal immigrants feel like they belong, claiming that they are a vital part of the New Haven's economy. Mayor DeStefano appeared live from New Haven via telecast. The Times Leader and other news agencies were present. The event was an educational forum in which each Mayor made a twenty minute speech and then answered questions. Mayor DeStefano spoke first.

In New Haven, a city of 130,000 people, DeStefano estimates that 15,000 residents are illegal immigrants. After realizing that the federal government wasn't going to help curtail problems associated with illegal immigration, New Haven city officials decided to take action. Illegal immigrants were important to the well being of the city's economy, and many of their children were, in fact, United States citizens. Mayor DeStefano prefaced his city's policy:
"New Haven is not driven to have an individual foreign policy different than that of the United States. We're not trying to be a sanctuary city. We're not trying to hold ourselves out as a model. We're trying to make decisions that are good for us. Our decision is to be a safe city."

DeStefano continued that being a safe city means giving illegal immigrants the ability to report crimes they witness to the police without fear of deportation or inquiry into their immigration status. Since these reforms were instituted, New Haven's crime rate has decreased by 16%.

The city of New Haven also encourages modes of inclusion for resident illegal immigrants such as tax ID numbers which allow them to pay federal taxes, and, more famously, resident ID cards which help to ease their daily transactions. The Mayor lamented the activities of federal immigration agents who, according to affidavits, entered several homes for which they did not have search warrants.

DeStefano said in closing the nation deserves a coherent plan of immigration that would include a guest-worker program, pathway to citizenship and better border security.

Although Mayor Lou Barletta also believes that the federal government is not handling immigration well, he has had a different experience in Hazelton. Mayor Barletta welcomed the influx of new immigrants; many brought youth to the aging city. However, problems began adding up. For the four years following 2003 violent crime in Hazelton skyrocketed 300%. In a city which had previously experienced a murder every seven years or so, Barletta's eight years in office witnessed 13 homicides, 9 of them by illegals. 30% of all crimes were by illegals. Moreover, despite a 50% spike in population, tax revenue remained stagnant. The police department and other city services were overwhelmed.

"I didn't know what to do," said Barletta. The plight of the city that he had grown up in had left him heartbroken. After receiving no help from Washington, and hearing the concerns of residents, Mayor Barletta and city officials decided to take action. They introduced the Immigration Relief Act which would require all residents to verify citizenship with the Federal government upon applying for a job and would penalize businesses that hired illegals. Although the act was shot down in Federal Court, Barletta credits it with playing a role in the 40% reduction in violent crime from 2007 to 2008. The Hazelton Mayor noted how one man, a father of three who had moved to Hazelton from New York to get away from gangs, thanked him for his stance against crime.

Mayor Barletta finished by stating that legal immigrants such as a Romanian woman who worked for many years to get her family into the U.S. greatly support him. An attendee and King's alumnus who wished to remain anonymous reinforced this sentiment, stating that she, an immigrant, "backs Barletta 100%." Finally, Barletta proudly stated that Hazelton has encouraged Hispanic immigration, citing 60 new Hispanic businesses in the city and a growing Hispanic population.

After the speeches, the audience asked questions that reflected different points of view, but all present seemed to think the forum was a positive experience.

"I'm pleased that people respected others' opinions…and left thinking we should reach some understanding" said Angel L. Jirau, executive board member of the local NAACP chapter.

Joe Scarcella, a Hazelton native and Jr. at King's said "we need more events like this" that "give you an opportunity to test the truth of your convictions." Whether they hold up or not, he said, events like this "strengthen your belief system."

The primary organizer of the event, our own Brother George Schmitz, said "It was a wonderful opportunity for King's to offer an educational view of an issue rather than an emotionally charged debate." He concluded "It gives us a lot to think about and to talk about."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Limbaugh Anathematized and A Casual Discussion of Modern Media

Although allegations of bias in our local media sometimes arise, such as the purported unfair coverage of Bishop Martino in the Scranton Times or the strange, unfounded "Kill him" comment reported by the Scranton Times' 'reporter' David Singleton, most disputes over media coverage are relegated to the national media.

Recently, Rush Limbaugh had his bid for the St. Louis Rams pro football team revoked partly due to questionable media coverage. Like any public figure, Limbaugh has had to develop thick skin. Besides being scrutinized for his past abuse of the drug oxy-contin and his 2003 claim that the media wanted Donovan McNabb to succeed because he was a black quarterback, Limbaugh has been called a "clown" by New York Times writer Timothy Eagan, and a "human vat of vitriol" by MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews. However, most damning for Limbaugh's Rams bid were allegations that he is a racist. Cable news networks calumniated him, alleging that he said that "slavery had its merits" although they had no audio clip to back the "quote" up. CNN used an undated, vague citation "Rush Limbaugh On The Radio," and MSNBC cited Steelers linebacker James Farrior, a secondary source or in other words a quote of a quote.1 According to the Culture and Media Institute, as of Oct. 16 the networks spent merely 47 seconds on Saturday admitting that the "quote" and other spurious Limbaugh "quotes" were made up.2 CNN and NBC did not apologize, although CNN reporter Rick Sanchez apologized informally on his twitter page.3

Such disregard for verifying the facts in the television media is nothing new. Many may remember how the cable networks lifted Scranton Times reporter David Singleton's allegation that someone yelled "kill him" in reference to Obama at a Scranton Sarah Palin rally last October. Secret service agents called the allegation unfounded after they failed to find anyone else who had heard the shouted message. Notwithstanding the questionable source, the national cable outlets propagated the "kill him" comment anyway.4

Often, bias affects not only how, but what news is reported. For instance, it is doubtful that the news networks pointed out that Limbaugh employs a conservative black man, Bo Snerdley, as his control room operator. Snerdley is also the show's "official Obama criticizer" and quasi-co-host. Snerdley, in fact, wanted Limbaugh to sue media outlets for libel.

Moreover, the fact that Limbaugh has the distinguished black intellectual Walter E. Williams guest host his show would further undermine the media's calumniation of him as a racist. I suppose the problem for Rush is that he's more likely to see eye to eye with Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams than with the 'good' Al Sharpton or the irreverend Jackson. Unfortunately for many conservatives and Limbaugh, they are guilty of racism until proven innocent (in the minds of the left-wing press, which usually deprives them the air time to prove their innocence anyway). Limbaugh here is an example, but similar media bias exists in coverage of tea parties, global warming and other political topics.

Everyone knows that talk radio show hosts like Rush Limbaugh are biased, but, as conservative talk show host Michael Savage points out, they do not try to hide it like news reporters do. Moreover, American news agencies at the aggregate level create a worldview that fits with what is taught in liberal arts courses in high schools and colleges across the country.

For instance, the 65 black kids who were thrown out of a Philadelphia swimming pool last summer received national spotlight and were eventually somewhat compensated with a free trip to Disney World courtesy of a donor. In contrast, the white family in Ohio which was allegedly assaulted by gang of supremacist black teenagers got little national attention, and the nearly 200 white New York state employees who were fired so that the state could hire more minorities were mentioned merely perchance in a New York Post article. Although one would think Americans could handle the news of all these events like adults, the national media apparently does not, preferring only to show that which fits a politically correct worldview.

Most people recognize that there are also ideological differences within media outlets such as those between the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, FOX News and MSNBC, The Times Leader and the Citizen's Voice, or even local talk show host Nancy Kaman and Sue Henry!

This diversity in opinion has created many media rivalries. White House communications director Anita Dunn recently lashed out at FOX News, claiming that it is a propaganda arm of the Republican Party. FOX's Glenn Beck shot back by showing a clip of Anita Dunn saying, in a speech to high schoolers, that communist dictator Mao Tse-tung was one of her favorite political philosophers.

Some people, namely politicians, are upset about conservative dominated talk-radio. Contrastingly, people on the right complain about American Universities where, according to a University of Toronto study, a professor is nearly 5 times more likely to identify herself as liberal than as conservative. Strangely enough, the only sort mitigatory legislation being proposed, a kind of "fairness doctrine," would target only radio stations.

Is such diversity of perspective in media a good thing? Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite when few gave the news to many, especially since the advent of Internet news sites like the Huffington Post and CNS News. Several lament the fact that Americans no longer have a common news experience like they did when Cronkite anchored in the 60's and 70's. Many still blame the diversifying media for creating an ideological gap in America, but one may also speculate that the media somewhat reflects a widening culture gap. Regardless, before one clamors for homogenization of the media via a fairness doctrine or other means, it's a good idea to empathize with one's political opponents and ask: if I were in his or her shoes, would I want someone to tell me that my lone opinion is illegal or that my free speech needs to be balanced out? as if there were only two sides to every issue? Moreover, multiple news outlets each having differing slants ensure against wide-scale media error. To paraphrase an idea of Frederic Bastiat, it is better if one of many news services err than if a single monopoly news service errs.

As long as free speech reigns in America, one must rely largely on websites to make media bias known. For instance, conservative sites such as newsbusters reveal liberal media bias. George Soros' media matters shows material from conservative sites. Newshounds covers bias on FOX News while Times Watch exposes bias in the New York Times. Other sites such as The Pew Research Center cover more general aspects of media outlets.

And for solidarity's sake, I admit that this very article is biased with respect to the which topics I cover, but I believe I present the topics fairly.


Friday, October 9, 2009

The One Wins Ignoble Prize

Nobel Prize Politicized
The primary qualification for winning a Nobel prize is politics a la Al Gore and Paul Krugman. The One did not win it for bringing about peace; the war in Afghanistan rages on. It seems the committee wanted to award him something, and that the Peace prize seemed slightly more believable than the Economics or Physics prize.

Why does the world want to build up The One so much? Is it because he's an obedient Keynesian ruler, and wealthy people want to thank him after receiving their cut of bailout money? Somebody should search the committee members' bank accounts to see if there are any recent spikes in money. On second thought, bribery probably did not play a role.

So why did he get it? It is NOT because he's black. If The One were conservative or libertarian, he would never have been considered.

Perhaps political leaders are just very important for people on the Left. One youtube user has identified nearly 300 home-videos¹ by supporters of The One in which they tell their children to proclaim their love for him, to support him, to dress up like him, or to sing to him. There are likely hundreds if not thousands more videos. Who knows how many actual incidents of such veneration have taken place? Incidentally, there are only about a dozen videos of children lauding McCain. It is clear that many liberals truly love The One. Excuses such as "community organizing" and blackness may be given, but ultimately the award is for politics.

Although, maybe the ignoble peace prize actually demeans The One. How could such a wondrous being feel accomplishment at receiving a mere human award? The One is the New Man, thus a better award should be made up for him.

Back to Reality
Giving rewards based on political allegiance can be expected from characteristically left-wing universities. But sadly, now it is an important criterion at the newly dubbed Ignoble Prize Foundation. Imagine now, a new caste system, with good, progressive "ubermensches" at the top. Where will you fall in such a system?


Saturday, October 3, 2009

King's College Scraps Debate Team

As of Fall 2009, the King's College debate team is officially nonexistent. Funds have been cut. For those familiar with team's past, there are a lot of memories to cherish, especially since the debate team was once quite good.

During the early 60's, with Mr. Robert Connelly as its director, the team gained renown in intercollegiate competition. King's debaters Frank Harrison '61, Peter Smith '62, Richard Passion '61, and Edward Hanlon '61 outwitted students from much larger schools. The 1960-61 season was the apex of their success as they finished second in the nation after Harvard.

Future Congressman Frank Harrison (right) with debate team director Robert Connelly (center) and Peter Smith (right) in 1960

It is interesting to note that the debate topic that year was "That the United States should adopt a program of compulsory health insurance for all citizens." I wonder which side the King's students took.

The debate team enjoyed continued success under Mr. Connelly. Subsequent directors guided the debate team after Connelly's retirement.

The final debate event at King's took place in the McGowan building this past September. One of the men at the desk told me the team was discontinued due to tough going in the economy. However, there is no sign of poverty on the King's campus. The recently-dedicated Gateway Corners building and a new marble fountain attest to ample availability of funds at King's College. Furthermore, the King's website boasts 40 clubs and organizations as well as 19 intercollegiate sports teams.

Alas, it is not tough times per se that led the funds to be cut, but that the debate team was placed low on the funds totem pole. The reason may be due to students' lack of interest in a debate team. Indeed, ever since the gracious donations of William G. McGowan to King's business school, the student body has morphed to comprise nearly 50% business students--who would ostensibly be less inclined to join a debate team than would liberal arts majors.

Although King's business direction has boded badly for the debate team, King's efficiently serves the wants and needs of its community. However, let us not forget our renowned forefathers. Raise a toast, therefore, in honor of our King's debate teams.
First and last photo from Rooted in Hope: The First Fifty Years of King's College 1946-1996

Middle photo:The Wyoming Valley: An American Portrait
(page 166)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Poetry: "End of Summer"

Go and search for white May blossoms,
Drifting, clinging, everywhere,
Go and search for June's red roses,
While their fragrance fills the air,
Go and search for garden flowers,
In hues so bright and gay and fair,
Go and search for golden sunbeams,
Darting, slanting, past my door,
September's here, and summer's over,
Go and search no more.

-Mary Marcella Mayock circa 1993