The force of global law
Williams Hawkins correctly identifies liberals’ fears of our nation “overreacting” to terrorism in “Madness beyond the water’s edge” (Commentary, Friday) and the liberal desire to use “domestic and international law” instead of the chaotic law of force. However, Mr. Hawkins is far off course in thinking liberals “feel no allegiance to the society in which they live” or follow “ideologies of class division and hyper-individuality.” Liberals believe in class unity and equality in the global society in which we live.
For “us/them” divisions, there is only one class of people, and that is the classification of humanity. It is the conservative worship of an us-vs.-them world that is the most destructive class division and repudiation of our nation’s true values. The only degree to which liberals believe in hyperindividuality is in the same way conservatives say they value “individual freedom.” It is conservatives who are following in Osama bin Laden‘s footsteps by demanding that everyone conform to the same fundamentalist religious doctrine. It is conservatives who are working to change the Constitution to force their religious beliefs on others.
The greatest flaw, however, in Mr. Hawkins’ belief system is thinking liberal “defeatism confirms the utility of force — when used by the enemy.”The reality is that conservative militarism confirms the futility of force — when used by the enemy. Our war in Iraq has demonstrated the weakness of our nation’s military in dealing with Bin Laden’s belief system. It is the conservatives’ worship of militarism that destroys the most fundamental of all American values — the utility of the force of law in protecting the inalienable human rights and the security on which our great nation has prospered.
The American people have done great things throughout our history, but we also have done some horrific things, including institutionalizing slavery and obliterating American Indians. These were accomplished within the framework of nationalism and Christian values. A war of choice in Iraq is only the latest.It is a war that continues to serve Osama Bin Laden’s primary goals of dividing Americans, breaking us economically and generating more converts to his warped global ideological vision.
The greatest thing the American people could do in this era of hyperglobalization would be to revert to the idealism of our Founding Fathers and create a global justice system and rule of law based on the principles of our Declaration of Independence, that all are created equal, no matter where they are born or what religion they profess. We should work for a global federal system that can adequately enforce those rights using the force of law rather than the law of force.
This is where liberals are weakest. They don’t follow the power of their own convictions. Most liberals speak boldly of the need to protect human rights but fail to advocate for the global mechanisms that can legally, democratically and effectively enforce them. That is the real madness before the water’s edge.
The ‘conservative advantage’
Media Matters for America last week released a report titled “Black and White and Re(a)d All Over: The Conservative Advantage in Syndicated Op-Ed Columns.” On Friday, The Washington Times wrote an editorial criticizing our report. The Times could not argue that we had our facts wrong, so it was reduced to speculating that had we done a completely different study, we might have come up with different results.
Here’s what we did find: Sixty percent of American newspapers run more conservative syndicated columnists than progressive ones. The combined readership of conservative syndicated columnists exceeds that of progressive syndicated columnists by 27 million. In eight of the nine U.S. census divisions (all except the Middle Atlantic) and 38 of the 50 states, conservative syndicated columnists reach more readers. Only one of the five most widely distributed columnists and just three of the top 10 are progressives.
How does Media Matters know? Because we contacted every English-language daily newspaper in America — all 1,430 — and asked which columnists they run. We obtained information about 96 percent of them. Because we believe in full disclosure, all the data are available on our Web site, mediamatters.org.
So The Times couldn’t question our facts (nor did it mention that its Op-Ed page regularly runs 28 conservatives — and one progressive). It noted that we didn’t look at editorials, then asserted that “unsigned editorials around the country are overwhelmingly liberal.” How does The Times know this? It doesn’t — it’s just guessing. No one has ever done a systematic analysis of all the editorial pages of America’s newspapers, so no one knows.
The Times argued that the conservative advantage “might be owed to one or two columnists.” This is all the more reason why the likes of George Will and Cal Thomas have such influence, because they appear in hundreds of papers. The Times also speculated that readers might just prefer conservative columnists, another contention for which it offered no evidence.
The Times faulted our study because it didn’t include “consideration of liberal bias in the news pages, which is well documented.” If by “documented” you mean there are conservative groups crying “liberal bias” at every article or report that isn’t sufficiently friendly to Republicans, that undoubtedly would be true.
However, this criticism highlights the reasons we at Media Matters choose to work the way we do. Unlike some media critics, who concern themselves with “bias” — in other words, attempting to read the minds of journalists and commentators — Media Matters deals in facts. This study, like all the studies we do, is not about what we suspect might be true or what motives we can impute but about what we can demonstrate to be true.
What our Op-Ed study demonstrates is this: Conservatives have a structural advantage on the nation’s Op-Ed pages that gives them a louder voice in any debate. We can disagree about why that might be or what the implications are, but the facts can’t be denied.
President and CEO
Media Matters for America
Innovation and patents
Your Friday Business article “Firms Call Patent Reform Bill Too Weak” fails to recognize the strong bipartisan and industry support of critical updates to patent law. In fact, the bill passed the House by a 45-vote margin.
Few issues are as important to the economic strength of the United States as our ability to create and protect intellectual property. A recent study valued U.S. intellectual property at $5 trillion, about half the nation’s gross domestic product. Yet, while I.P. industries have soared into the 21st century, patent law has remained virtually unchanged since the 1950s.
The current patent system is plagued by legal gamesmanship that rewards lawsuit abuse over innovation. Because of rapidly expanding fields of technology, too many patents of questionable integrity have been approved. Rather than commercialize the products, holders of these weak patents abuse the system by suing companies whose operations fall in the same general ballpark but have little to do with the specific patent at issue. This legalized extortion forces companies to pay huge sums of money in order to use the suspect patents.
Whether it”s a mousetrap in your home or an IPod in your hand, intellectual property plays an important role in both our day-to-day lives and the global economy. Patent reform is critical to protecting intellectual property and preserving the financial and competitive incentives that drive invention.
By passing the Patent Reform Act of 2007, the House has taken an important step toward better protection of the rights of inventors and preserving the strength of the American economy.
REP. LAMAR SMITH