Pillars of Democracy

Why does the following film contest sound like nonsense? Can you imagine making an anti govt documentary about "democracy" (which I'll assume most of them would be) and getting a prize for it?

State Dept. seeks democracy videos

Government teams with media orgs on contest

The U.S. State Dept. has revealed its latest diplomatic tool: user-generated content. At the U.N. on Monday, representatives revealed the Democracy Video Challenge, a government initiative co-sponsored with half a dozen high-profile media orgs including NBC Universal, the DGA and the MPAA.

The challenge in question will be to create a three-minute video completing the phrase “Democracy is...” in hopes of receiving a prize package that includes set visits, tickets to the Universal Studios L.A. theme park, and meetings with everyone from U.S. government officials to “new-media experts.”

Rather than attempting to monetize the content, sponsoring orgs will contribute various prizes and incentives, including PSAs promoting the competish on NBC (NBC News correspondent Richard Engel also presided over the afternoon’s launch party).

James Glassman, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, said the initiative was aimed to “convene people for a conversation.” Glassman is a Bush appointee, but stressed that the initiative was thoroughly bipartisan and includes nonmedia sponsors like the Intl. Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute.

The State Dept.’s Jonathan Margolis said he hoped that the contest would start “a dialogue on democracy” -- the prizes will go to regional winners from six different parts of the world, as well as one anonymous winner. Videos will be broadcast on YouTube. Entry deadline is Jan. 31.

Oooh! a Visit to a set!! (Fox news anyone?) Tickets to a studio tour!!! (Sign up here for propaganda, and you'll get free tickets to stuff we're selling you!!) Prizes will go to winners from six different parts of the world (can anyone spell Middle East? If they don't love us, let's have a contest so they can prove they love us! But then, you have to assume they like us enough to make videos praising our form of democracy with "Bombs From Above") and one "anonymous winner." Hilarious. Ya think Mr. Been Ladin' could even submit a video on democracy ("Democracy means never having to say you're sorry") or does this mean they have a ringer who's going to win anyway? Oy. What a country. What a concept!

Hmmm. A contest. With no cash prizes, but "prizes that we consider prizes." Sounds like the Bush description of the Economy. And if you don't agree with the govt's version of Democracy, (The VP pit bull Sarah Palin's version of Democracy, signing loyalty oaths, and harassing librarians, or ex brother in laws) you won't be put on the "do not travel" list. Even if you're Cat Stevens. Really.

So I went to the government website to see if they can define what "Democracy is." According to the website, there are "ELEVEN PILLARS OF DEMOCRACY. " (Why does this sound like the Seven Pillars of Islam? Just asking.) Here they are:

  • Sovereignty of the people.
  • Government based upon consent of the governed.
  • Majority rule.
  • Minority rights.
  • Guarantee of basic human rights.
  • Free and fair elections.
  • Equality before the law.
  • Due process of law.
  • Constitutional limits on government.
  • Social, economic, and political pluralism.
  • Values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation, and compromise.
Okay. The first 8 seems to make arguable sense. Sovereignty is "the exclusive right to have control over an area of governance, people, or oneself. A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority." (wiki) An exclusive RIGHT to have governance over ONESELF. That sounds amazingly like Choice to me. And Gay Rights. And all the things this administration has flaunted or ignore for 8 glorious years.

A Guarantee of Basic Human Rights: Human rights refers to the "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled."[1] Examples of rights and freedoms which are often thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education. (wiki)

Okay, now it's getting interesting. We know that Freedom of Expression isn't guaranteed by anyone, or you wouldn't be arrested for protesting in St. Paul. The right to food - Hmm.. not sure that's ever been enforced.. check out the food lines near your local shelter.. Right to work? I don't think so.. unless you're part of a govt. bailout - and the right to education... okay, it's all debatable. Some school systems seem like they're shelling out more rights than others, but again, debatable.

But now it gets interesting:
  • Constitutional limits on government.
  • Social, economic, and political pluralism.
  • Values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation, and compromise.
Excuse me? There's no definition of democracy anywhere that includes these three lemons - put there by whoever wrote this paragraph at the State Gov website.. hmm, a loyalist no doubt. . There's nothing about Constitutional limits on Govt, except in right wing blogs and books that quote the State dept. idea of democracy. Economic and political pluralism? Values of cooperation and compromise? Says who? I defy anyone to find a reference to the source of where this information came from - it sounds, once again, like an administration who hires faith based candidates over secular ones, or hires people who can wash the science out of the truth to fit their own reality. Really, who writes this nonsense?

So, to all you would be filmmakers out there - good luck defining Democracy as the State Dept defines it!!! You're in for some real prizes. Either way, this disclaimer at the bottom solves it all:

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs.
Links to other internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

And on a final note - anyone catch McCain's daughter Meghan on Larry King tonight? A slight slip of the tongue where she said she was blogging about her father "The President." The bit about her being "obsessed" by Sarah Palin - c'mon, she's gotta be kidding. Her father only met her once before picking her and his daughter is "obsessed" by her? I'm sure Palin's kids are cute and wonderful.. but c'mon. "Impressed" I could believe. Obsessed sounds like a word that's been fed to Meghan.

I think Sarah's a creep, a bully, a hypocrite and a prevaricator of the highest degree - and the worst choice McShame could have picked for a VP. Notice these words are gender free. If it was about her being a talented women, there are many others with much more credits and service to the nation who should have been considered - but this is such a Karl Rove choice it's nauseating. And now she's refusing to answer questions about Troopergate, when it was the Republicans in Alaska who brought the charges. Obsessed? Oy. What a country. What a concept.

My two cents.

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