Thursday, February 23, 2006

John Gibson Gets it Right

Although I consider Fox News, and other cable news channels, to be more "newstainment" than actual "news" they do at times provide excellent content.

I'm not a big fan of John Gibson, but he recently expressed his opinion about the controversy involving the purchase of six ports by the United Arab Emirates and he actually made sense. Although I have not yet made up my mind about this story, I have to admit that Gibson's article expresses my still undecided point of view.

Also, the Christian Science Monitor (A world reknown newspaper) reported on the issue citing a fact from the 9/11 Commission Report that two of the hijackers were from the UAE and that, "The vast majority of the money funding the Sept. 11 attacks flowed through the UAE."

Also, to me, this issue seems to be bringing out the best in our government. It is a great example of the need and use of checks and balances and that the U.S. presidency cannot overlook the power of Congress wherein rests the power of the people.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's not "legal" or "illegal" anymore.

I believe that most people would agree that things tend to be either illegal or legal. I mean imagine trying to determine if something was only "kind of" illegal- then we would be walking backwards into the days when President Clinton said, "It depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

The Progressive, an extremely left magazine, has an article that humorously gets across the idea that open discussion is essential to the spirit and growth of democracy. I would suggest that everyone read it, it's nice and succinct.

In the article, the author asserts that the Bush Administration is using fear-mongering to squelch discussion about the merits and pitfalls of the NSA wire-tapping program. While I do not agree entirely with the author as to the extent of the fear-mongering, I do feel that an unfair amount of it does exist. In order for democracy to flourish we must not only provide laws that will punish people for violent intolerance, but we must also create a society that encourages the civil discussion of issues in an environment that is safe. After all, who wants to speak up when they think that they'll be abused for it.

The article also brings up a good point regarding the congressional investigation of the NSA wiretaps:

"If Bush’s effort to stifle the Congressional investigation fails, he’s hoping to cover his misdeeds with a retroactive get-out-of-jail free card.

Designing that card is Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, who has introduced a bill that would authorize the warrantless wiretapping that Bush has already engaged in.

That’s like someone who is caught going 100 miles an hour getting the policeman to go back and change the speed limit signs."

Why would the Bush Administration need a bill that makes the NSA wire-tapping legal if it wasn't already? Was the wire-tapping only, "kind of" legal? I don't know, I'm not a legal expert, but the issue does bring questions into my mind.

In regards to civil debate and discussion, ironically, The Progressive tends to be obnoxiously intolerant of the neo-conservative agenda. There was a time when debate and discussion were synonymous with honor and academia. I wonder if there's anyone alive today who remembers that.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Newstainment Is Ridiculous

With all that's going on in the world I'm completely surprised at how the news media is completely obsessed with Dick Cheney. Listen, he made a mistake. I'm certain that he feels horrible. Move on!

The news media must have a purpose beyond trying to embarrass Cheney. Or, at least make it something that involves more people than him and the poor person he shot. How does his mistake affect me? It doesn't! Leave the humor to the comedians, they're much better at it.

This focus on Cheney is symptomatic of many issues that I will try to list:

1. There is only so much news. With the invention of "Newstainment" the 24 hour cable news stations are desperately trying to hold onto viewers. Remember, the news media is a business like any other. They care about the bottom line as much as any other business.

2. By and large, Americans do not tend to be internationalists. Pick up a newspaper in a different country, the people in those countries not only like to know what goes on in their country, but they also like to know what the world is up to. Not us, we tend to only read the international news as it effects us. And to that credit there is A LOT that goes on in America.

3. Learning about other countries requires an attention span that is quickly dwindling in the United States. Watch the news, you'll see a lot of flashing lights, you'll hear a lot of one liners and you'll see a lot of quick statistics and polling. Hey, it keeps my attention.

Here's my message to the news/entertainment industry: Leave Dick Cheney alone! Or, at least report something that has to deal with the greater public at large. A man has been seriously injured, it was a mistake. Plain and simple.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents

A few days or weeks ago I inappropriately posted an email onto this blog that I had addressed to the President of the College Republicans. The email's content was basically my poor and inaffective attempt to extend the "olive branch".

I feel like Ben Stiller's character from the movie "Meet the Parents". In the movie Ben Stiller, despite his motives and intentions, can't seem to do anything right. And that's been my experience with trying to do something good.

I think my first mistake was printing my views about Iraq in Scroll. I still feel that my comments in that editorial were tame incomparison to what has been written about Iraq, however, I did fail to recognize who my audience was and that was a BIG mistake.

My second mistake was to start the College Democrats while publically claiming to be a registered Republican in Oregon. I should have just kept that part to myself. See, the thing is that I've never voted for a Democrat and until I came up here to Rexburg I had never ever considered being a Democrat. So was I lying and trying to make a show? Please believe me when I say that I was not. Was I wrong to make the claim of being a Republican? When considering my audience, yes.

My third mistake was not immediately replying to the College Republicans when they invited us to attend their State of the Union party. I didn't open the email until late that night and I forgot about it. Also, while it did come into mind I knew that I couldn't respond without first consulting the actual Democratic Leadership. That on top of communication errors led to us not replying. I know of at least one College Republican who seemed to me to be upset that we seemingly snubbed them. This can be seen at his website. This wasn't our intention at all. And I seriously regret our error.

My fourth mistake was to not make it blatantly and obviously clear that the poor attitudes towards the College Democrats on campus and at BYU-I was not officially, nor unofficially endorsed by the College Republicans. In news articles about me, or in posts or in anything that I've said what I have really meant is that the experience of the College Democrats is that we get an unfair shake from a lot of people. This unfair and mean attitude is not something that is taught by the College Republicans and the people portraying this attitude are not necessarily even members of the College Republicans. It was my mistake for not making that perfectly clear. However, let me now relate publically that many members of the College Democrats have been poorly treated because of their political affiliation. To deny this would be uncharitible and unrealistic and I personally feel that Joe Strickland's post entitled "College Democrats Continue to Widen the Divide" does not acknowledge nor condemn this unfair treatment.

My fifth mistake was to post an email that I had written to the President of the College Republicans without first asking her permission. I'm not making an excuse for my sin but please let me at least give a reason. I thought that the email was official and already public. I had CC'd the email to many people which she would have seen and it was written in an official manner. Regardless, it was poor manners to not ask her if she had any objections about my posting the email I wrote to her. I once again seriously regret this most recent mistake.

This is my public and deep apology for what I feel has been a series of preventable misunderstandings.

I do feel that Joe Strickland's post was an angry and emotionally charged reaction to my mistakes, but I cannot place too much blame on him. I wish that I would have done so many things differently and I also wish that Joe's post about me and the College Democrats wouldn't have been so assumptuous about our motives and intentions.

We've made many mistakes and unfortunately we'll continue to make more. I have especially made many mistakes, but they have not been intentional. What can I say? I'm Greg Focker.

I will state this however, when we have made mistakes, we own up to them.

Lastly, this is also my offical and final invitation to the College Republicans to meet with the Democratic Leadership in a private, intimate and friendly meeting. This invitation will always be open and it's in their ballpark now. I sincerely and literally pray that this unfortunate tension between our two groups will end.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Why Not Have a Debate?

The following post is my response to a comment, left by an anonymous person self-titled "solution", to the post entitled "Misunderstanding Ends Dialogue". The comment reads: "Maybe to accomplish your goal to 'fascilitate a method of dialogue' between your groups you could have an organized debate and invite other students to attend. I think that would be interesting."


Aristotle and Plato were perhaps two of the the greatest thinkers of our time. One of the methods that they used to understand the world around them was to debate. As I'm sure you know, debate, in the proper spirit, can lead to great change, deep understanding and respect.

Although a debate would be fun, I am personally opposed to a debate between the College Democrats and Republicans because I'm not convinced that a "debate", as it exists and is perceived today, serves to edify. Instead, a modern debate is often absent of true listening or empathy. A debate, as the modern world has made it, is now a chance for partisan groups to take swings at each other.

Beyond that, a debate may not be in the best interests of the College Democrats and it's purpose which is to promote faith, patriotism and service. The reasons are:

#1. This is an election year and a debate takes a lot of preparation that I'm not prepared to give. I believe the best course for both groups would be to dedicate the time to helping good, righteous candidates become elected to office.

#2. The College Democrats here at BYU-I are young and our platform is incomplete. Before we can have a debate we have to know who we are and what we stand for. Debate for the sake of competition serves no purpose except to stoke the fires of pride.

#3. A debate involves some amount of competition. Although I have no objection to competition in itself, this is not the spirit in which I envisioned for a dialogue to begin. What I saw was the leadership from the College Republicans and the leadership from the College Democrats sitting down together and discussing the mission of BYU-I and what our two groups were doing to magnify that mission. Common ground is where I wanted to start this dialogue, not differences.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


The College Republicans pointed out a gross error that I made and as a result I have retracted two posts.