The real trick is where to apply limited government…and when not to

“Small” government or “big” government from a political science perspective are pretty much nonsensical terms.   A “small,” local government can be just as much a tyranny as a national “big” government.   Look at what Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona for an example of “small” local government effectively acting in an out-of-control, even tyrannous fashion.   Or look at the pre-civil rights deep Southern local or “small” governments and their oppressive treatment towards minorities.  Small but tyrannous government is quite possible.

The real issue is “limited” government and when to apply it to specific spheres of society. For the most part, a strictly limited government works really well when we talk about individual rights – say, freedom of speech or freedom of religion.  When it comes to, say, reigning in massive corporate abuses of power, then we start looking around for a empowered government that can counter that threat to our society- which means not-so-limited government in that sphere- and a good thing, too.

Whenever I hear anyone say, “I am against big government!” I shrug privately. It doesn’t really mean anything.   We are the government, and we determine its limits as we deem necessary.

For a fine article regarding a local government that acts in a tyrannous fashion, check out the Rolling Stones article on Sheriff Arpaio:  http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-long-lawless-ride-of-sheriff-joe-arpaio-20120802?page=3

An interesting insight on the shortcomings of too much “small” government:  http://borderlessnewsandviews.com/2012/03/draft-ron-paul-a-biopsy-part-iii/

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Measuring Bias and Accuracy in Cable News

Is MSNBC left leaning and Fox News Right Leaning with CNN in the Middle?

Science seems to confirm what’s pretty apparent.  Nascent science, yes, but science nonetheless:

“Using the Contrast Analysis of Semantic Similarity (CASS) text analysis software, the researchers evaluated 12 months’ worth of transcripts from MSNBC, FOX and CNN. Confirming their hypotheses and validating the CASS method, FOX demonstrated a conservative bias, while MSNBC exhibited a liberal leaning. CNN fell squarely in between.” (From http://news.wustl.edu/news/pages/22166.aspx)

However, the above is a measure of bias, not accuracy.

So let’s talk accuracy.

When accuracy is included in the mix, Fox falls behind pretty badly.

Studies- numerous studies – were conducted on who is accurate and, well, who isn’t.

Last time I checked, there were six major studies. Each study found, in one way or another, that Fox News was the least accurate in its reporting or that Fox News viewers were the least informed of viewers, often holding beliefs that were factually incorrect.

A supporting factor for the accuracy of these studies is that there are no reports by anyone, anywhere, that state that Fox News viewers are *better* informed than other viewers, or that Fox is more accurate than other news providers.

Let’s look at the studies. Six are listed here; I’ve heard there’s a seventh recently out that matches the below data; I haven’t had the chance to find it.

First, my apologies:  I’m sure I got most or all of this list from another site; but at the moment, I don’t have a link to that site or even a record of where I got this list.  I’ll fix that.

Here we go!

1) “Climate on Cable: The Nature and Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox
News, CNN, and MSNBC.” A combined study by American University, George Mason University and Yale University. A sophisticated study (link below) that indicated that by a wide margin, Fox News viewers were very misinformed on a range of subjects, including scientific statements on global warming, but also in such matters as the Iraq War.

Link: http://climateshiftproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/FeldmanStudy.pdf

2) Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA): “MISPERCEPTIONS, THE MEDIA AND THE IRAQ WAR”. This study found, to quote, “Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions.”

Link: http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Iraq/IraqMedia_Oct03/IraqMedia_Oct03_rpt.pdf

3) Stanford University: “Frequent Viewers of Fox News Are Less Likely to Accept Scientists’ Views of Global Warming”. This study found, to quote, that the “ “more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists’ claims about global warming, with less trust in scientists.”

Link: http://woods.stanford.edu/docs/surveys/Global-Warming-Fox-News.pdf

4) Kaisar Foundation: “ASSESSING AMERICANS’ FAMILIARITY WITH THE HEALTH CARE LAW”. This was a study that focused on how well cable media viewers understood the facts behind health care reform. It found, to quote, regarding its survey that, “higher shares of those who report CNN (35 percent) or MSNBC (39 percent) as their primary news source [got] 7 or more right, compared to those who report mainly watching Fox News (25 percent).”

Link: http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/8148.pdf

5) Ohio State University: “FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTES TO SPREAD OF RUMORS ABOUT PROPOSED NYC MOSQUE. CNN and NPR promote more accurate beliefs; Belief in rumors associated with opposition to the NYC mosque and to mosques in general”

Read through the study. Fox News would pass on unsubstantiated rumors far more often than other outlets; correspondingly, the study found that Fox News viewers were about half more likely to believe these rumors.

Link: http://www.comm.ohio-state.edu/kgarrett/MediaMosqueRumors.pdf

6) Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA): “Misinformation and the 2010 Election: A Study of the US Electorate”. In this study, Fox News viewers were much more likely to believe false claims brought forward during the election cycle; many of these false claims were promulgated by Fox News personalities.

Link: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/dec10/Misinformation_Dec10_rpt.pdf

With *no* studies, none -not even noncredible ones- stating that Fox News is the most accurate reporting outlet, and none stating that Fox News viewers are the best informed, it’s reasonable, indeed compelling, to conclude that Fox News does a poor job conveying facts, and, correspondingly, its viewers are the least informed of the lot.

So, yeah, MSNBC is on the left and Fox is on the right. The difference is that Fox is a lot less informing and actually inaccurate in its reporting.

That’s why – that’s why!- when I see Fox News on television anywhere I ask that the channel be changed. Not entirely because it’s full of right-wing opinion.

Because it’s just so dang blasted and demonstrably inaccurate.

Birthers Start Up On Ted Cruz: Oh, Please, Just Stop.

The Natural-born-citizen clause as it appeared in 1787 (yes, I took it from Wikipedia!)

The Natural-born-citizen clause as it appeared in 1787 (yes, I took it from Wikipedia!)

Ted Cruz, the junior Senator from Texas, sure has stirred up the pot at times.  He tends towards arrogance and goofiness all in one package, which is quite an accomplishment.  Worse, this guy is talking about running for president.

Okie dokie artichokie.  I think it very unlikely the guy got a shot at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  I mean, really.  I think we’ve had our fill of Texas Republicans sitting in the Oval Office.   At least for a long while.

With a measure of fame, though, comes the inevitable conspiracy theories.  One conspiracy theory states that as Cruz was born in Canada to American parents that he isn’t a “natural born citizen” and therefore unqualified for the presidency.

Ted Cruz is many things.  But one thing is is not is “not American.”

The Purpose of the Constitution’s Natural-Born-Citizen Clause

The natural-born-citizen clause of the Constitution was created with one primary purpose:  In an age of monarchs and aristocrats, its purpose was to prevent a European-born aristocrat from assuming the presidency and transforming it into a hereditary office. At the time, this wasn’t an unfounded concern considering that a couple of decades after the constition was ratified, Napoleon’s brother -a former king!- lived for many years in Philadelphia and New York.

The intent: NO American monarchs.

The Definition of “Natural Born”

The current definition of “natural born” as generally agreed upon comes from the Congressional Research Service (attached): In short a “natural born citizen” is a person born a US citizen, whether or not they are born on US soil.

That is, “natural born” means someone who doesn’t have to go through the process of “naturalization” to become a citizen. Those who don’t have to go through the naturalization process breaks down into two areas:

  • A person born in the USA (regardless if his/her parents are citizens)
  • A person born outside of the USA who has at least one American parent

So, yes, Cruz, because he did not have to go through the naturalization process, is by definition a “natural born” citizen.  His father was a naturalized citizen and his mom was born in Delaware. He can and does claim citizenship from either or both parents.  Because of his American parentage, could have been born on the Moon and he’d still be a natural-born American citizen. Whether or not Cruz was born in Canada, as he had at least one American parent, is not a factor.

Cruz may be arrogant, goofy, and hold some loathsome views, but yeah, he’s a natural born American citizen.  So let’s not waste any more time on such silliness.  That said:

Let’s Get Rid of It!

Frankly, the natural-born-citizen-clause is a hopelessly outdated. There’s no reason, none, that someone who, say, immigrated to the USA as a young child and became a citizen shouldn’t be qualified to be president, especially if said naturalized citizen renounced any and all claims of loyalty to his’ or her’s nation of birth.

There’s little chance of an aristocrat capturing the presidency and hasn’t been in oh, a long while now. All we’re doing is excluding potentially fine people from the office. Let’s get rid of it and rid ourselves of one more outdated rule that conspiracy theorists use to distraction.

Some references:

Probably the definitive document on the definition of “natural born” from the Congressional Research:
Service:http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42097.pdf

A really well written Wikipedia entry on the subject:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural-born-citizen_clause

Some goofiness from a Clown Who Would Be President (Donald Trump, of course!).  Proof, in a way, that it’s time to take one more weapon away from those who drive us to distraction with idiocy:
http://www.politicususa.com/2013/08/11/donald-trump-birther-ted-cruz-questions-eligibility-president.html