Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Strange World Of The Berkeley Daily Planet

Let me warn readers in advance -- this post promises to be pretty dry. But I read a commentary piece in the Berkeley Daily Planet today that I felt I had to spend some time refuting.

I'm not sure who selects these pieces, but I want to renew my call that this paper seek some kind of balance. These pieces make all sorts of unrebutted assertions -- many of which range from the nonfactual to the downright uneducated.

The article in question is a piece titled "The Legacy of President George W. Bush," by Marvin Chachere of San Pablo. It appeared in the August 14-20 issue of the Daily Planet. Here is a link to the article. I will quote from it here, but I encourage readers to check it out in its entirety.

Chachere's basic contention is that Bush is a terrible president. This is not something that many would debate these days, and I don't have the inclination to do so at this point. However, I will say that I predict Bush will be viewed as a fairly ordinary president -- 50 years from now, that is.

I'd like to spend some time on Chachere's arguments. I'll use a point-counterpoint format.
Congressional representatives, for example, are not representative; "close to half" are millionaires.... The links 'of,' 'by' and 'for' between government and people have been permanently severed.

I doubt Chachere knows or cares, but George Washington was the wealthiest man in the country when he became president. No one -- not one person at the constitutional convention -- expected Congress to be truly "representative" of the nation's people. Quite the contrary. They anticipated a pair of patrician bodies mirroring those in Great Britain. They feared the "tyranny of the majority," and created numerous constructs to limit direct democratic rule. Examples include senators who were elected by state legislatures and an indirect election process for the president. While our founding documents contain grandiose language about the common welfare, it was understood that this was best protected by a high-IQ, high-income class of elites.
The [nation] has a fourth branch [of government], de facto unchecked and unbalanced, a cartel of corporate entities that has attained sui generis powers broad and strong enough to have its way with the other three.

What a bizarre contention. Since the mid-1930s, the broad trend of governance in our country has been toward more regulation and more state control over day-to-day activities. In spite of this trend, corporations have continued to prosper and offer jobs to our citizens. And, by the way, this oft-repeated argument presupposes that corporations are beings in and of themselves. That claim is false. Most Americans own stock in a wide variety of US corporations. Most Americans work for US corporations. So, when our author attacks corporations, he is attacking a broad swath of our country's citizenry.

And, I'll ignore the fact that the author's use of the term sui generis makes no sense whatsoever. But it sounds good!
The Supreme Court assumed a legislative role at the end of 2000 in voting for the 43rd president and again in reducing the amount of fine imposed for the Exxon Valdez oil spill (1989) to 10 cents on the dollar.

First, the Court's decision in Bush v. Gore was not legislative in the slightest. The court did what courts do -- deciding between two disputing parties. Same thing for the Valdez situation. Reducing a penalty is not a legislative act. It's a judicial one.
Congress gives tax breaks to the rich, fails to control corporate excesses ... and generally privatizes matters of public interest.

I'm not sure what country Chachere is living in. In America, the rich pay more than 75 percent of income taxes every year. Corporate excesses do exist, but what would he prefer? A command economy in which he would more than likely live in a slave-labor camp? And, as pointed out earlier, the trend in America has decidedly favored socialism and making private matters public, not the other way round.
The [country] is, nevertheless, infected with a stultifying two-party system that Washington dimly foresaw....

Well, now Chachere shows his true colors. Obviously he'd prefer a single-party state like that on such public display these days in China. I, for one, am grateful for the freedoms that flow from the dynamic tension created by a two-party system.

And, again Chachere has no idea wha he's talking about. Washington's comment was made in light of the presumption that the government would be run by a narrow set of elites. In essence, he was warning future Americans against allowing "the rabble" to participate too much in the process.


I realize the foregoing was pedantic. There were far more points I could have refuted in Chachere's article, but I just wanted to make a point. The Planet needs more balance. More intellectuals, fewer nutjob neo-Marxists.

What say you, Planet? You have my address.


  1. To be fair, most people that I hear complaining about the two-party system want to have a system in which third parties (Green, Libertarian, etc) aren't shut out. They want not ONE party but many parties.

    What actually galls me about these supposedly peace-loving lefties is that they don't realize the direct relationship between big government and war/loss-of-liberty.

  2. The Daily Planet has been highly questionable for yeras- there is now a new website
    that is devoted to exposing hate speech and inaccuracies at the Daily Planet.
    Its really sad that in a community as diverse as Berkeley, that our local paper is so biased and inflammatory as to be useless.

  3. Ο/Η giannis λέει:agoraki mou esu mou karats to kinito den ksereis oti to binteo kai na trabas bbmalakiabb(pou apo oti fenetai den kserei na to kanei swsta) den pane mazi ebgales mia malakia binteo kai exases xrono ap’to na gamisei tin ka8igitria na malaka