There's an interesting article in today's Washington Post titled Blog Comments Become Fodder for Attack Ads which is worth reading and thinking about. We all know that there are literally millions of blogs which strongly focus on one or another political philosophy, candidate, issue, or position. This is what we call Freedom of Speech, and it's a good thing. The problem comes when unsupported and unattributed political rants drawn from blogs are used to fuel the attack ads which are an unfortunate staple of modern political discourse, and when people don't have the time or interest in assessing the truth of the claims made in these ads. This sets the stage for Freedom of Speech to mutate quickly into Freedom of Stupidity.
All together, now: what is Bilbo's First Law? Yes - "Don't let anyone do your thinking for you." As we move closer to the state-level elections in November of this year and the Presidential election next November, it's more important than ever to think clearly about the claims made and accusations leveled by the candidates. While it's natural for us to gravitate to people who share our beliefs, and to take on faith the claims made by those people, such blind belief can be very dangerous. Millions of Germans believed implicitly in Adolf Hitler's ludicrous and racist rantings...and the German nation was nearly destroyed as a result. I like to think that most Americans are smart enough to be skeptical of demagogues, but enough people aren't, and are loud enough about it, to be dangerous.
I encourage you to visit often the FactCheck.org website located in my link list, which provides an even-handed, totally fact-based evaluation of the claims made by all sides along the political spectrum. You can also check the new Washington Post "Fact Checker" blog by commentator Michael Dobbs, which tries to do the same thing, but which I view as less nonpartisan that FactCheck.org simply because it's tied to a newspaper which has its own editorial biases. The Post's Fact Checker uses a simple graphic to demonstrate the level of untruth in the political statements it examines: from one Pinocchio (indicating "some shading of facts") to four Pinocchios (indicating "whoppers")...one Gepetto (check mark) indicates "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." But, of course, don't take it as truth - examine the evidence and make up your own mind.
We'll be going to the polls soon, and the stakes are high. You owe it to yourself, your country, and your world to be well-informed on the candidates and the issues. You - and only you - can ask the hard questions the candidates don't want to answer, and decide for yourself if their answers make sense.
But don't believe me, because I'm just another opinionated blogger. Nevertheless, I do have a vested interest in the future your votes will shape.
Don't let me down.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.