Ivan  Parkins

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©Ivan W. Parkins 2008,  All articles, text, web pages property of Ivan W. Parkins.  Use of any material requires permission of the author and can be obtained by contacting info@americanpoliticalcommentary.com

About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

Inside This Issue

Front Page Archive 2008 Archive 2009

Page 2,  Disassemble the House

Page 3, Media Bias

Page 4, Book Reviews

Page 5, War and Their Costs

Page 6, Broken Congress

Page 7, Dividing America

Page 8, Dividing America, Part two

American Politics, Archives

COMMENTS

Front Page

Truth?…. Justice?…The American Way?…

Or How Disinformation in the Biased Media Changes Public Perception

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     June 24, 2008, 2pm EDT, I have just seen on the National Geographic Channel (NGC) a particularly interesting, and especially timely, example of disinformation.  It was a carefully selected account of events and proceedings leading to President Clinton’s impeachment and acquittal.  Little, if anything included was false; much that was not included was true and more significant.

    That severe judgment is prompted mainly by my having recently discovered and read David Schippers’ book, SELL OUT , published in 2000.  former Chief Investigative Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, Schippers did appear in the NGC documentary, but only very briefly.  Originally, he had been reluctant to take the investigative job.  He was, after all, a Democrat, a former head of the FBI’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit, under Attorney General Robert Kennedy.  But, Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, an acquaintance, said that was why he wanted Schippers. 

      Of course Schippers’ party links and the fact that he worked satisfactorily with an “extreme right-winger” like Ken Starr did not fit well into a picture of events as having been engineered by a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

     One incident that Schippers relates in his book has Starr replying to Clinton lawyer David Kendell’s charge that too much information was being leaked to the media… “ Mr. Kendell, the only information that has never leaked was that unavailable to the White House.” (page 151)

     But, the great injustice was not the Lewinsky Case, most of which did become public in lurid detail.  More grave, and clearly related to Clinton’s performance in office were matters such as illegal citizenship grants and campaign gifts from the Chinese.  About those, the White House was able to stall with legal challenges and slow yields of documents until just before the 1996 elections.  Members of Congress, many Republicans along with most Democrats, saw those issues as threats to their reelection, and opposed the whole impeachment process.

    Clinton’s problems would have been much greater if he had had to respond in public to charges that he had demanded quick citizenship for 75,000 persons with arrest records, 115,000 with unclassifiable fingerprints, and 61,000 who had filed no fingerprints at all (page 45).  But those and the questions about illegal campaign contributions were left to Janet Reno and other Clinton subordinates.

     Of course, Clinton’s great victory over impeachment is now what most casual observers now remember.  What Mr. Schippers calls the “flat-out rigged ballgame” (page 7) have never been transformed by our information system into a part of the public’s political memory.

     I am reminded of recent diatribes by candidates about the need for change.  Yes, we do need change, but I am troubled by what changes. I.W.Parkins 62908

(The following is a “letter to the editor” published  in The Detroit News, 12/30/2005)

 

Presidential Abuses

Ignored?

 

Tony Snow’s Dec. 12 column, “Knollenberg aids Clinton report cover up”,  illuminates questions that have bothered me regarding President Clinton’s Lewinsky scandal.  Did that extravagant media event actually benefit Clinton and his supporters?  Did it overshadow and obscure greater abuses of presidential power and possible charges of the kind that brought down President Nixon?- I.W. Parkins 12/30/2005

In Response To Fr. Goodrow

Column, Daily Times-News, Mt. Pleasant, MI 10/29/69

 

     An unparalleled burden of communication has fallen upon contemporary man.  It is the most critical problem of these times.  Never before have people been faced with the need for communicating with all of their fellows.  Never before has every race, social class, and society in the world contended with all others for shares in the fruits and the freedoms of human endeavor.  Never before have provincial and parochial views been so inadequate.  It is a situation which offers, at one time, the most terrifying and the most magnificent prospects in all of human experience.

     I must object to Father Goodrow’s treatment of conformity and morality.  I believe that he has failed to grasp both the magnitude of the contemporary problem and the nature of aggravating and ameliorating forces.  Fr. Goodrow sees the problem as one of accepting “ever-multiplying sub-cultures”, a challenge which he addresses especially to conformist Midwesterners.

     In fact, the problem, or at least the most significant part of it, is that previously submerged people now insist upon participating in the hopes and rewards of their societies and of world civilization.  Technological and institutional advances in the fields of communication, education, and politics have brought us suddenly to this critical point of mutual awareness.  What the outcome is to be depends largely upon our human capacity to accept others of differing appearance, behavior, and conviction.  The mutual survival of cultures and sub-cultures is at issue.  But there is nothing in this situation which implies a multiplication of sub-cultures.

     Fr. Goodrow, in defending proliferating sub-cultures, e.g., the hippies, calls attention to what I believe is a largely unnecessary and an extremely unfortunate complication of the basic problem.  In a time when unprecedented burdens upon our capacity to communicate stem from new racial, class, and international relationships, some privileged groups insist upon adding their particularistic and disruptive demands for special attention.  Usually, they proclaim their concern for the less privileged races classes, and nations.  Do they really believe that such things as long hair, obscenity, and pot are aides or necessary concomitants to peace and social justice?  And if, as I believe, those things are no better than trivial and personal affectations, should not they be deferred in the interest of more fundamental changes?        

     Some conformity, I insist, is one of the essentials of communication.  There is no way to communicate between those who defy and distract one another.  Violence, a remaining alternative, is not so much a way of communicating as it is a means of exhausting will and emotion-perhaps, in the hope that communication will follow.  Language it self is a convention to which increasing numbers of men have conformed more and more extensively in the interest of communication.  And he who would have his words heeded often finds it necessary to dress and behave in such a way as not  to distract his audience from his message.  It behooves those of us who recognize that the need for communication is critical to so conform in our personal manners that no significant portion of attention is wasted upon our affectations.

     Tolerance seems to be Fr. Goodrow’s answer to the communication problem and , indeed, tolerance is essential.  The demands which the present situation makes upon our tolerance are greater than any such number of people has previously been expected to bear.  But, if in my quarter-century of higher education I have observed any trends regarding tolerance, I would identify these:  The bulk of Americans (including Midwesterners) has advanced considerably towards acceptance of people of different birth and behavior, while the cacophony of charges which an educated minority level against their more provincial countrymen has grown steadily.  I doubt that the latter development aids communication, yet it is a major preoccupation of those from whom the society has a right to expect something less parochial.

     So much for communication and conformity; where does the creative individual enter?  Often it is observed that such individuals differ from the general run of men.  As much might be claimed for individuals who are particularly destructive.  Add to that observation all of the trivial differences, plus all of those differences which we hope that men will learn to overlook, and surely he is deluded who cultivates mere difference as a mark of creativity.  The delusion prospers, but few of its victims contribute to improved communication.

     If man is to avoid a holocaust, the answer lies not in any proliferation of differences for difference’s sake, nor in sanctimonious lectures by some of us to others allegedly less tolerant than ourselves.  Each of us needs to muster as much tolerance as he can; at the same time, each should so conform as to demand no more tolerance of others than, for the survival of his essential self, he must.

Democrat Credibility?

(The following commentary was published in the The Suncoast News , Feb. 4, 1998. It is related to the accompanying article on media disinformation regarding President Clinton on a National Geographic Program.)

 

     Gross, relevant and easily documented facts are being ignored by many persons commenting upon the constitutional-severity and partisan-bias aspects of charges against President Clinton.

     The President’s defenders make the point that he was elected after the public had heard many of the charges against him.  Some of them insist that unlike President Nixon’s Watergate crisis, this one does not warrant interfering with a sitting President.  Iran-Contra, in the second Reagan Administration, is also being cited by Clinton’s supporters.

     But, regarding the popular choice argument, Clinton has not won a majority of votes cast, and his re-election was no landslide.  One the other hand, Nixon won by nearly 18 million votes, still the largest plurality in our history.  Reagan, in 1984, won by a plurality approaching 17 million, the second largest.  Running third in this comparison was Lyndon Johnson with a plurality of more than 15 million.

     All three were also majorities of the vote cast, and by landslide proportions.  Yet our three top presidential winners were all soon driven from office or seriously threatened, and all, including Democrat Johnson, due mainly to Democrat Congresses.

     How much credibility do Democrats deserve, now, when they contend that attacks upon Clinton are constitutionally irresponsible and partisan, i.e. Republican, motivated interferences with American’s choice of leaders?  I.W. Parkins-7/4/98

MAN:  A LONG VIEW

 

     The species Homo Sapiens is engaged in the most grand of adventures.  Other species also seek to survive and to thrive.  We alone, are able to refine and extend our comprehension of the universe and to consciously enhance our survival capacity.  Among our greatest problems is how to enable more of our species to participate meaningfully and cooperatively in this grand adventure.

     The varied ethnic and cultural groups of our species are both an advantage and a problem.  It is advantageous that we are not all equally dependent upon the same resources and the same climatic conditions.  It is burdensome and dangerous that some portions of our species feel a need to contend destructively against others.

     Our history, from the earliest evidences to the present, is essentially one of extending our cooperation over space and the increasing numbers of humans who inhabit it.  Although many basic features of individual and family lives remain much the same, the extent and structures of our larger groups have changed radically,  And, all-in-all, we have progressed and prospered in both our total numbers and the security of our individual lives.- I.W. Parkins, 6/2008

Once Upon A Time

 

     When Americans were divided and confused, especially about their role in the world, there appeared a man of great eloquence and passion.  He traveled the length and breadth of our land, arousing and inspiring people as he went.  He promised change, hope, and new ways of doing things.

    Heaping disdain, especially upon America’s foreign policy, he threatened even to supplant the inept President.  And, yes, this story does have a happy ending.

    Somehow, President George Washington did survive his second term-and not as a total failure.  The government of France changed, again.  Citizen Edmond Charles Genet was recalled, but decided not to risk his neck under untried leadership.  Instead, he married the daughter of a prominent New Yorker, and spent the rest of his life as a solid American citizen.

    Some of us “old guys” get confused about who and what is really new.

-I.W.Parkins 6/2008

 

OUR CONSTITUTION

 

     The Constitution of the United States was drafted, primarily, to establish greater order among people and states that had recently won increased freedoms.  Some of those freedoms were recognized by the Framers in the document itself and by the First Congress in the Bill of Rights.  But the primary purpose of the effort was to bring greater order to the people and states, without which most new liberties appeared unlikely to survive.

     Representation and an independent judiciary, but few of their details, were presumptions of nearly all American factions of that time.  The key innovation was the nature and powers of the Executive Branch.  Thanks largely to the character and performance of George Washington, both in promoting the Constitution and in filling the chief executive office, we got a single and vigorous, but temporary Presidency.

     In short, greater public order was the chief purpose, and a strong but temporary executive was the foremost innovation, of the Constitution.  Unfortunately, neither of those facts is adequately recognized by Americans today. –I.W.Parkins, 6/2008

 

Purposeful Disinformation