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Saturday, June 26, 2004

A Free Lesson In Critical Thinking

I was reading an article this evening that I believed would serve as an invaluable example in how to think critically:
Ethics Group Says Nader Violates FEC Laws
By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - A watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Ralph Nader on Friday, saying the independent presidential candidate is violating federal campaign laws by accepting office space and telephone service from a public charity he created.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleges that Nader's campaign is renting valuable space at below-market prices from Citizen Works, an activist group that supports progressive causes.


The watchdog group also filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that Citizen Works is violating its status as a charitable organization by benefiting the Nader campaign. The IRS complaint asks the agency to enjoin Citizen Works from offering any further assistance to the campaign.
Full Story
The lessons begins....... now. Whenever you read ANY news story, be aware of 'Buzz Words'. For instance, in this piece, the first thing that jumped out at me were the words "A watchdog group." Watchdog groups are always groups devoted to finding dirt against people they disagree with. For instance, a conservative watchdog group is generally looking for liberals to make a mistake. A conservative group is not likely to pounce on a fellow conservative and vice versa.

The target of the watchdog group is also of particular interest because of the aforementioned likelihood of targeting political enemies; in this case Nader is the target, so the question becomes: Who sees Nader as the 'enemy.' The obvious culprit, of course, is the Democrats, who have on several occasions requested that Nader not run in this campaign because they believe Nader pulls votes away from their guy, John Kerry.

So, it is likely that the Democrats have an interest in not seeing Nader in this race, and suddenly a "watchdog group" files a series of complaints against Nader. Lets think critically about this for a moment... if the "watchdog group" were conservative, and there was a likelihood of Kerry suffering less votes with Nader in the race, would the conservative group lodge a complaint? Of course not. Conservative would likely see Nader as a Hinder to Kerry and therefore a benefit to Bush; thus the so called "watchdog group" must be leftists (libs).

Was this group identified as a liberal, or even a Democratic, watchdog group? No. This group was only mentioned as a 'watchdog group'. Does this make a difference? Well, all watchdog groups are looking for dirt on someone, and unless they don't discriminate, then they are a biased group, so yes, it does matter. A watchdog group should be identified as republican or democrat, or conservative or liberal; unless, of course, the group truly is independent or neutral.

The question now becomes, is the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Group an independent group? Well, we should look to their website to see if we can find the truth.
Their site declares:
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-partisan legal watchdog group working to force our government officials to behave responsibly and ethically. CREW's mission is to use the legal system to expose government officials who betray the public interest by serving special interests.

CREW aims to counterbalance the conservative legal watchdog groups that made such a strong impact over the past decade. These groups focused their attention on their left-wing adversaries, leaving the right relatively free from scrutiny. CREW focuses equal attention on misconduct by all, including the right.

CREW differs from other good government groups in that it sues offending politicians directly. There are already many fine organizations working to make government better. Their focus, however, tends to be on passing legislation or publishing information. There is no mainstream group dedicated to taking direct legal action against offending politicians. CREW fills that void.
So this so called "non-partisan group" targets "misconduct by all, including the right" while seeking to "counterbalance conservative watchdog groups." Let me put this into plain English: this group only targets republicans, particularly the conservative ones. Need proof? Lets look at who they have targeted:
Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI)
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R)
Attorney General John Ashcroft (R)
Vice President Cheney (R)
Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform and Bush-Cheney '04
Department of Justice / the White House
Roger France, former top aide to United States Representative Charles Taylor (R-NC)
Tom DeLay (R-TX), Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Joe Barton (R-TX)
Curt Weldon (R-PA)
Vice President Richard Cheney (R)
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Martinez(R-Fla) for Senate and the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC (R)
Senator Lincoln Chaffee (R) and Majority Leader Frist (R)... are you starting to notice a pattern in who this so called non-partisan group targets? Did you see any libs or dems in the mix? The answer: No. This is a democratic/liberal watchdog group which is breaking from their mold of attacking exclusively Republicans to attack Independent Nader, who they see as a threat to their man, John Kerry.

So the final piece of this puzzle, as I see it, is the question, "Why was the group only identified as a 'watchdog group' instead of a liberal or democratic run watchdog group? For the same reason the group can say it is non-partisan and then claim it is seeking to counterbalance conservative watchdog groups... Liberals care neither for consistency nor do they recognize that they are as far away from the center as the right with they seek to "balance." Liberal reporters almost never identify fellow liberals as liberals, but they NEVER fail to mention if a group is run by conservatives. Generally conservative groups will be identified as right-wing or the new term, which seems to be growing in popularity, neocons.

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