|September 23, 2014||Home of the brave?||3 comments|
|September 17, 2014||Let’s keep Satan out of public schools||1 comments|
|September 09, 2014||Gov. Ultrasound shakes hands with the devil||6 comments|
|August 25, 2014||Perry to taste Texas justice||10 comments|
|August 05, 2014||GOP bury House Benghazi report||13 comments|
|July 21, 2014||Denial’s not a river in Egypt||5 comments|
|July 15, 2014||‘You will be shot’||10 comments|
|July 03, 2014||Five men choose for all women||8 comments|
|June 24, 2014||What are you for?||1 comments|
|June 04, 2014||'We don't know the facts'||11 comments|
Turn on the news and prepare to be terrified.
Wildfires, crime, floods, Ebola, kidnappings, beheadings, Americans are fed a steady diet of fear-invoking images every night of the week, the more lurid, the more sensational, the more threatening, the better.
It doesn't matter what network or local TV station you watch, fear sells and keeping the viewers hand off the TV remote is the name of the game.
In the golden age of television news, anchors and reporters presented just the news, bad or good. Watch Walter Cronkite announcing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to see what I mean. I saw this 50 years ago when I was just 10 and it's still etched indelibly in my memory.
No rapid response panel. No reporters offering their vapid personal opinions. No grizzled former Secret Service agent talking about what may or may not have happened in Dallas. Just Walter Cronkite telling Americans their beloved young president was dead and then fighting to check his personal emotions in what seemed like an eternity of silence.
That was real broadcast journalism.
In the years since, network and local television news departments have come under increasing pressure by the advertising departments who answer to Wall Street investors. Cronkite never saw one of these "Mad Men" in his office. His news division was insulated from revenue and profit pressures by television visionary, CBS Network CEO Bill Paley.
Today, advertising suits invade newsrooms all the time trying to influence what airs. They want more viewers because more viewers equal more dollars.
If you watch a lot of TV news, as I do, it's no accident you're in a perpetual state of apprehension if not outright fear. You make sure the doors are locked. You check the kids tucked in their beds one extra time. You look over your shoulder as you walk up Peachtree Street to the Fox Theater.
Fear sells. But there's a price we must pay for all that terror.
We mistrust our neighbors. We buy lots of guns and dead bolts. We over-medicate. We live in a constant state of paranoia.
Guess who's figured this out? ISIS. As Bill Maher pointed out recently using a vulgar but nonetheless amusing expression, America is doing exactly what ISIS wants.
We're terrified so we've already begun the process of losing to ISIS.
When GIs in the Pacific listened to Tokyo Rose, they enjoyed the popular tunes she played but laughed at her dire predictions of an American defeat as they gazed out over the endless armadas heading to Japan. Remember, these were men of courage who stormed the beaches of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. Some lady on the radio wasn't going to scare them.
In England, American soldiers and their allies from the U.K., Canada, France, Poland, and Holland listened to William Joyce's (Lord Haw Haw) broadcasts from Berlin. He told them their defeat at the hands of Hitler's Aryan super race was inevitable. Shortly thereafter, The Greatest Generation blasted the Germans out of Normandy and pushed them back to Berlin. Some traitor wasn't going to stop them with talk.
By the way, Tokyo Rose ended up in prison and the British hanged Joyce.
So I wonder where the home of the brave went. When did we Americans, proud citizens of the greatest, most militarily powerful nation mankind has ever known, start quaking in our boots over some guys dressed in black pajamas who murder their helpless victims in the back of beyond?
We're better than this.
The law of unintended consequences took over in Orange County, Florida after a judge there ruled that public schools permitting the distribution of Christian literature must also allow materials of any religious or atheist organization to be disseminated too.
Overzealous Christians in Orange County never counted on that. Their idea was to give kids only Christian materials because, as they continue to insist, America is a “Christian nation,” which it isn’t, as the students learn in American history classes.
The Founders wanted religious institutions and secular government to remain separate knowing that comingling of the two often led to “mischief,” as the author of the Constitution James Madison once said. He was right. If you want to see what happens when religion and government get together, look at
Thus, the United States of America has no “state” religion.
Of course the devil is in the details, which the Orange County Christian community failed to understand because now the Satanic Temple is in their public schools handing out “The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities.”
I cannot imagine what those activities might include…connect-the-dots Beelzebub?
These well-meaning Christians unwittingly opened the gates of hell. While some kids might be reciting the Lord’s Prayer in the lunch room, others could be conducting a Black Mass on the play ground.
“I am quite certain that all of the children in these Florida schools are already aware of the Christian religion and it’s Bible,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves told a reporter, “and this might be the first exposure these children have to the actual practice of Satanism. We think many students will be very curious to see what we offer.”
Back when I was in high school, I know I was very curious about whatever Satan was offering. In fact, I got suspended for a week after a moment of weakness.
But I repented and so should Christians in Orange County, Florida.
We have churches, synagogues and mosques for the practice of religion. Schools are for learning. Let’s keep it that way.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry got a good look at what's ahead after former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife Maureen were convicted on 20 federal corruption counts in a federal court last week.
Perry faces two felony charges after he attempted to use his office to remove the head of the Texas Public Integrity Unit for political purposes (see nearby blog).
Like McDonnell, Perry's arrogance got him into trouble. And like McDonnell, Perry may well learn how pride goeth before the fall.
Virginia law is loosey-goosey when it comes to showering the state's governor with gifts. Not so the federal statutes, which prohibit such largesse for government officials in exchange for official favors.
McDonnell carefully crafted an image for himself as a man of unwavering Christian integrity. It will be remembered he championed state sanctioned rape for Virginia women seeking an abortion. He wanted them to undergo a transvaginal probe before obtaining an abortion. Until abortion rights activists and civil libertarians loudly protested, it looked as though the GOP-led Virginia legislature would actually pass the bill.
Meantime, it seems Gov. and Mrs. McDonnell were living large and well beyond their means in Richmond, coming to rely too heavily on the financial assistance of a Virginia businessman. Federal prosecutors said the McDonnells took nearly $200,000 in gifts and loans in return for assisting the businessman in getting state approval for some kind of snake oil he wanted to sell.
There were $20,000 Fifth Avenue shopping excursions, private jets, Rolex watches, spendy vacations for the McDonnells and their kids, Ferraris, and on and on.
McDonnell could have coped a plea on one non-corruption count with no jail time. Instead, he chose a federal courtroom to clear his name, a strategy that seldom goes well.
Self-righteous guys like McDonnell are fond of proclaiming the sanctity of marriage, so the ex-governor's defense was puzzling. During the month-long trail, McDonnell's lawyers portrayed the ex-governor's wife of 38 years and the mother of his five children as a pathetic, grasping shrew whose insatiable greed brought down her pious husband.
Throwing Maureen under the bus didn't fly with the jury, which took only two days to convict the couple. Both now face long federal prison sentences. On his way our of the courtroom, a tearful, self-pitying McDonnell said he would put his trust in the Lord.
Of course the Lord loves the sinner but hates the sin, right Gov. Perry?
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets to prison in a couple of years, like all the other convicts in the state's penal system, he will continue to proclaim his innocence.
Clattering his tin drinking cup against the bars of his cell, Perry will scream his conviction was political pay back until burly guards mace him and then drag Perry down to solitary. After 30 days in the hole, a despondent Perry will be showering one morning when he meets a large fellow inmate with scary tattoos named Leonard who promises to look after the ex-governor in return for certain favors.
You don't think this will happen? I do.
You see, Travis County, Texas is essentially the city of Austin, the Lone Star State's overwhelmingly Democratic bastion. It's a great town with a vibrant intellectual and artistic community. It's also the state capitol where the governor conducts his business. A year or so ago, some of Perry's business attracted the attention of the Texas Public Integrity Unit, which oversees the conduct of public officials. The unit is under the supervision of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat.
Last year Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving, convicted and punished. She sought treatment and said she won't run for office again.
Seeing an opportunity to replace her, however, Perry demanded her resignation so he could appoint Lehmberg's replacement who would then call off the Public Integrity Unit's investigation into the Texas Cancer Research and Prevention Institute.
Lehmberg refused to step down, so Perry used his executive authority to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit. Thus, says a special prosecutor, Perry committed two felonies, abuse of his official capacity and coercing a public servant. Evidence of Perry's crimes was presented to a grand jury and an indictment was returned.
A law and order guy, Perry likes to brag about the state's low tolerance for criminals and the stiff sentences handed down in Texas. If he is convicted, the would-be presidential candidate could be looking at up to 99 years in the joint on the abuse charge and an extra 10 for the coercion count.
In the famous word of Rick Perry: "Oops."
His conviction is likely for a couple of reasons. During his term as governor, two other county district attorneys were convicted of driving under the influence, both Republicans. There wasn't a peep from Gov. Perry in either case, so he clearly applied a politically-motivated double standard to Lehmberg. In addition, he will more than likely face a Travis County jury and as I say, there are a lot of Democrats in the Austin area.
"The bottom line is that Rick Perry saw Lehmberg’s drunk-driving charge as an opportunity to get rid of her and her active investigation into the cancer research fund scandal,” Ed Espinoza, director of Progress Texas, told a reporter. “Rick Perry chose to use the powers of his office to act as judge and jury.”
In public relations it is understood if you want to bury bad news you release it on Friday afternoon in August.
So it was the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee declassified its two-year-old investigation into the Benghazi tragedy last week, releasing its findings last Friday, August 1, at 3:30PM Eastern Time.
If you don't want people to know something, you could not pick a better date, day or time.
After all the overheated rhetoric and baseless charges made by wild eyed right wingers, the GOP wanted as few people as possible to know the facts. Here they are, as presented by Republican Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in a statement:
Rep. Mike Thompson, second-ranking Democrat on the committee, said the panel's findings "confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given."
Oh, you conservatives didn't hear about this?
That's because your favorite "fair and balanced" news source, Fox News, completely ignored the revelations. What choice did Fox have? The findings run counter to the network's ongoing narrative that the White House was complicit in the attacks.
The House Republicans' own report blows Fox's phony narrative out of the water, not that the facts ever matter to Obama haters.
Nevertheless, this development is unfortunate for the GOP, which was counting on another Benghazi show trial this fall to divert voter attention from its own miserable record over the last two years.
They still think if they scream Benghazi loudly enough, voters will forget the 113th Congress has done practically nothing.
Global warming is a hoax.
The earth is 6,000 years old, not 4.54 billion years old.
Guns don't kill people.
Darwinism is wrong. Creationism is right.
There is no economic recovery.
Denial is a big part of conservative playbook. When you’re losing the war of ideas as badly as conservatives are, when the facts fail to support your positions, what else is there to do but deny the evidence that you’re losing it?
So it goes when you write a progressive column for a newspaper published in an overwhelmingly conservative neighborhood.
Two readers, Daniel Joy and Matt Nash, published columns of their own refuting my recent piece in which I cited the latest data that demonstrably proves the economy is continuing to recover from the disastrous Bush recession of 2007-2008.
“In what must be the greatest political irony of all time,” writes Joy, “the Administration openly embraced what amounts to ‘trickle down’ policies to get the economy moving.”
The economy is recovering because the 3.5 million jobs lost during the last two years of the Bush administration have been recovered, plus another 3 million.
“(T)he bullets Foley uses don’t seem to hit very much when they are undermined by record employment,” says Nash.
That record was actually achieved by Republican President Herbert Hoover after the 1929 stock market crash. Mr. Nash probably means the extraordinarily high unemployment Bush left behind which has dropped precipitously under Obama with Republicans refusing to pass a jobs bill.
Consumer confidence is up. Economic indicators are positive. People are working and spending again. The economy is growing. The numbers don't lie.
But these two gentlemen say there is no economic recovery. The reports are wrong. The soaring Dow doesn’t actually reflect investor confidence. Obama is not a populist but is actually in league with the Koch brothers. Self-made billionaire Nick Hanauer, whom I noted is worried about income disparity, doesn’t know what he is talking about despite the facts that support his concerns.
As I noted in my on-line responses to Messers Joy and Nash, if there was a Republican in the White House and the current economic data was presented, conservatives would crow about nothing else.
But the recovery is taking place under a Democratic president and progressive policies with no help whatsoever from Republicans. So conservatives deny it.
And this is another conservative handicap. They steadfastly refuse to critically dissect what they believe or why they believe it.
In the face of immutable truths, they insist those truths are false.
Mine is a family of immigrants. Unless you are Native American, so is yours.
On my dad’s side, my grandmother and grandfather left Ireland in the 1920s for better economic prospects in America. My mom’s family came here from Hungary to escape crushing poverty.
Our family’s first and then the second generations prospered, which is precisely what my forbearers hoped for when they arrived in New York Harbor.
There, they were greeted by the Statue of Liberty, which made a promise to the diverse immigrants pouring out of ships and onto Ellis Island.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
That “golden door” is today being slammed in the face of the tens of thousands of children arriving on the Texas border because they’re the wrong color and speak the wrong language.
If they were blond, blue-eyed Danes, you wouldn’t be hearing a word from the nativists who are apoplectic this tiny number of small brown refugees from drug and crime ridden countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are seeking the same safe haven their own ancestors sought when they arrived.
The kids are making a dangerous journey, the lucky ones arriving on the U.S. border where they surrender to authorities in the hopes they’ll be granted asylum under a law President George W. Bush signed in 2008 in America.
But to hear the nativists tell it, these children pose a grave threat. In fact, some would shoot to kill.
“You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot,’” said Chris Davis of the militia group Operation Secure Our Border in a video posted on YouTube, which has since been taken down.
Davis is a mighty poor excuse for a human being. I hope to hell he’s not speaking for our own D.A. King, who I’m pretty sure would draw the line at drawing down on a frightened little girl from El Salvador looking for her mother.
Naturally, the right wing media and conservative pols have politicized this awful spectacle, dehumanizing and demonizing the refugee kids, calling for a militarized rather than a humanitarian response to the crisis while blaming President Obama for the mess.
But Obama passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill through the Senate that would have addressed problems like the current border crisis and also increased border security.
House Republicans have refused to pass the measure.
Last week, President Obama asked for $3.7 billion to help speed up the due process the refugees are owed under U.S. law. House Republicans said no.
Meantime, TV clown Sean Hannity appeared to be listening to Chris Davis. He posed for a picture leaning on a heavy machine gun mounted on a Texas Ranger speed boat in the Rio Grande.
Presumably Hannity is ready to mow down the next bunch of terrified kids who appear on the Mexican side.
The Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby is a pyrrhic victory for Christian evangelicals who think it's the right of an employer to refuse to provide contraception in its health insurance plan.
The only possible outcome is more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions.
Five conservative men were in the majority on the SCOTUS ruling while the three women justices were in the minority. Once again, we have right wing men telling American women what's best for their health; five government lawyers deciding what only a woman and her doctor should determine.
Under Obamacare, companies the size of Hobby Lobby must provide health insurance to its employees. Contraception has always been available in these plans.
But Hobby Lobby is owned by evangelicals who mistakenly believe contraception is the same as abortion, so they object to providing birth control to employees enrolled in their plan.
Their "freedom of religion," it seems, trumps your freedom not to believe what they believe.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg blasted the five males in the majority:
If you are a woman who works at Hobby Lobby, you are now forced to subscribe to the same religious beliefs as your employer. So, noted Ginsburg, businesses owned by Jehovah Witnesses can now refuse to provide blood transfusions in their health insurance plans.
"Medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin" can be banned in the plans of companies owned by some Muslims, Jews, and Hindus, she added.
Right wing pundits have piled criticism on President Obama's foreign policy because they don't like his doctrine has been diplomacy and, failing that, economic sanctions in cooperation with America's major allies. You know, ask questions first before shooting.
The results are not as spectacular or simple-minded as dropping an air-fuel bomb on somebody, but they have been highly effective.
Iran's nuclear ambitions have been severely hurt by U.S.-led international economic sanctions, which dealt a crippling blow to the country's economy. It can't sell its oil. It can't move its money. It's national soccer team couldn't even get any practice matches against other World Cup qualifiers.
"Right now Iran is suffering 30 percent inflation, 20 percent unemployment," former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich said last year. "I mean this nation is hurting and our economic sanctions, because we've been patient with them, because we have actually rounded up almost every other nation to support us, have had a huge impact."
By freezing the assets to Vladimir Putin's inner circle, Russia has quickly and quietly backed down from its misadventure in Ukraine. This week, "rebels" (actually Russians in masks) in eastern Ukraine agreed to a cease fire, no doubt on Putin's orders. Vlad's pals would rather have their cash than Kiev.
Syria just handed over the last of its chemical weapons, not because U.S. Marines landed on its shore but because Obama laid down a red line.
"The greatest obstacle to ending the Syria war is the notion that it can be won militarily," added U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
In Iraq, meantime, the fruits of American intervention 11 years ago are being harvested as the worst terrorists on the planet have launched a civil war. Call it Saddam's Revenge.
This one may require military intervention, and of course whatever Obama might do on that front will be wrong as far as conservatives are concerned. Supporting the president in time of war? That's so 1944.
So my challenge today, readers, is for you reactionaries out there to tell the rest of us very specifically what should be done in the hot spots and, more important, describe to us the acceptable cost for America in terms of lives and tax dollars if we do as you suggest.
Just don't tell us what you're against for the hundredth time.
Tell us what you are for.
Fox News never worries about speculating on news events, offering slanted opinions instead of facts while deceiving average TV viewers into believing its anchors and commentators actually know what they are talking about.
On Sunday, after news of the release of Bowe Bergthal broke, Fox News rushed to criticize the "sense of pride" "some" in the Obama Administration felt in the soldier's release after nearly five years in captivity.
The Fox anchor proclaimed that an unnamed "many" say Bergdahl is a deserter who walked out of his base in Afghanistan because he was "disillusioned" with American policy there.
To prove its point, Fox interviewed Pete Hegseth of the right wing Concerned Veterans for America who smeared Bergdahl before admitting, "we don't have all the facts."
Here's how the underlying narrative of Fox News' "reporting" breaks down in case you missed it:
"Obama is proud that a deserter and probable Taliban sympathizer was released. Obama turned over five Taliban leaders in exchange for Bergdahl because the president secretly sympathizes with the terrorists and wants to see them defeat America."
To further prop this narrative up, all day Monday and Tuesday, a Washington PR firm with right wing connections offered media outlets interviews with young men claiming they were in Bergdahl's unit who declared the soldier deserted because he had doubts about the American mission in Afghanistan.
I have doubts about the American mission in Afghanistan. Anyone with half a brain should have doubts. Why are American troops trying to nation build in a land of primitive tribes with no concept, respect or need for nationhood?
But this plays into another narrative. In the simplistic world of conservative "thought," if you question why the military is being deployed, you don't support "our troops," which is utter nonsense.
Real support of the troops is about making damn sure politicians in Washington don't ask them to die in unwinnable conflicts. Did we learn nothing from Korea, Vietnam and Iraq?
If it turns out Bergdahl was indeed captured, he'll likely have a long list of slander law suits against media and individuals calling him a "deserter" and "traitor" today.
We'll have to wait for those pesky facts.