Monday, May 11, 2009

If it were not so serious, it would be funny.

I have to wonder where some people get their news. Look, I know Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are funny guys, but are they really the outlet you should use to understand what is happening in our world? I am all for political satire, in fact, it is a hobby I dabble in myself, but forming your political views by watching the Daily Show or the Colbert Report?

For many folks out there, this past election was the first time they became politically active, or took the time to vote. They looked at the situation in 2008 and wanted change. I get that, however, maybe in this next election cycle the voters might want to become a little more informed. The change they voted for will have an impact not only on them, but have far reaching implications that will affect future generations.

You might say that politics is confusing, and they are all liars, so why bother. You should pay attention because the politicians are counting on you to watch Dancing with the Stars, not what they are doing with your money. They want you confused, and are doing their best to keep you that way. The more you understand, the better decisions you can make.

How many of you know much about breast cancer? How about prostate cancer? Other than just a thumbnail sketch, I know very little about these life threatening diseases. However, if someone in my family were diagnosed with one of these, or any other serious ailment, you can be sure I would quickly become informed about the different treatment options, trail medications and cutting edge medical centers that are having the best results in curing the disease. Why? These diseases are having a life changing impact on my life.

The economy, government spending, gun control, gay marriage, take your pick, when any of these issues hits home for you, you become involved and hopefully, informed. For me, the massive power grab taking place under the guise of stimulating the economy is first on my list. You need to know how much money they are talking about when politicians throw around numbers in the millions, billions and trillions. Which takes me back to my first point?

Where you get your information is very important. I know that most of us are not going to watch CSPAN in our spare time, we have busy lives, and we want to relax when we get home. I know my teenage son will sit down on the couch some nights when I am watching CSAN or some other news program and after a few minutes he will ask, “Why on earth are watching this?” My answer is always the same, “Because it’s important to me.”

With all the news and opinion outlets available right now, it should be pretty easy to find solid, reliable information. The real challenge is finding both points of view to any issue. If you get your political information from the Comedy Central shows or you watch MSNBC, you are getting a decidedly liberal viewpoint. If you only watch Fox News, you are getting news from the center right, if you are watching CNN, you are getting a center left slant to the coverage. I watch everything, even Keith Olbermann from time to time just to see how long I can take it. The main idea is to take a “fact” and check it against many sources and many viewpoints. You may be surprised how malleable facts can become. You will also be able to spot a line of (manure) very quickly.

You may not agree with me, and I may not agree with you, but we should be able to agree on the facts. Two plus two should always equal four, unless you are in Washington DC or the State Capitol. When it comes to politicians and their friends in the media, any number between three and three hundred, sixty eight can be the answer. It all depends on who you listen to.

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