Archive for the 'media' Category


If Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses Had Petitioned the Supreme’s

Dear IRS,

I am a lifelong member of a religious order that counts pacifism among the tenants of our faith. This not because we do not love our country, but because we feel the Bible clearly shows (based on our interpretation) that human life belongs to God and taking a human life, for any reason, is an abomination. Even supporting the mechanism to take a life indirectly is considered a sin. So strongly do we hold this belief that we will not serve on juries where the death penalty is a possibility—again, not because we don’t feel some people are worthy of death, but because we feel that decision belongs to God and we will have sinned if we take it upon ourselves.

We are also taught that it is important to obey the laws of whatever land we live in. This means that if we go against those laws, for instance refusing military service during a draft, we must willingly subject ourselves to the legal punishment proscribed by law.

It was with some relief, then, that I heard about the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court which makes it clear that laws can be subjectively applied to suit religious beliefs. Based on my clearly held religious convictions, I demand to be reimbursed for any portion of my tax payments for the past 36 years that have gone to support the US military in missions that have resulted in loss of life. This violation of my beliefs has created an undue burden for my conscience, which can finally be rectified thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision that federal laws do not apply to people of faith.

If possible, can you provide line item data to indicate how many lives were lost and how they were lost. Just like Hobby Lobby, I demand the right to pick and choose what forms of state-sponsored murder I will support.  Since I don’t object to ALL military loss of life—just loss of life from active military actions, I will still cover friendly fire incidents and unfortunate accidents through my tax contributions–for now.

I would appreciate your attention to this matter immediately, as I am very busy combing through federal laws to see what else I may be exempt from.

Thank you


Michael Kinsley Has Trouble Distinguishing Between Criminals and Jews…

…but calls others ‘antisemites.’

In what has to be one of the strangest pseudo justifications for Goldman Sachs’ activities leading up to the financial meltdown, Michael Kinsley (Atlantic Wire) takes Matt Taibbi to task for his brilliant takedown of Goldman in the Rolling Stone, calling it antisemetic and suggesting that when people hear ‘banker’ they think ‘Jew.’ He even suggests that Goldman Sachs is singled out for particular animosity because ‘Goldman’ and ‘Sachs’ are both Jewish names (which had never actually occurred to me until Kinsley made an issue of it), never mind the fact that, as the last major bank left standing after the financial massacre, Goldman is of necessity singled out. When I hear ‘banker,’ I think ‘sociopath.’ It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. From a purely psychological standpoint, people with a certain moral ambiguity are attracted to careers that allow them to exploit others–often legally. It’s no fluke that there are more full-fledged sociopaths (the term has been perverted to imply serial killer by mass media, but it simply means lacking the ability to empathize or care about the morality of one’s actions) in the ranks of politicians, bankers, lawyers and physicians than in other fields (Cleckley, The Mask of Sanity). Defending Goldman Sachs is simply promoting the interests of the conscienceless. Blaming criticism of Goldman on antisemitism just provides cover for their amoral activities. Why would anyone want to do that? To use “others did it too” as a defense pretty much stops working in elementary school, so… really?

I read Taibbi’s Goldman Article. I also read Brooks coded reply and Taibbi’s response to it. I agree with Taibbi that one has to dig pretty deep to find racism in his attack on Goldman. Articles like Kinsley’s distract from the real problem: Criminal activities cloaked as legitimate banking practices. I don’t believe Jews are greedy or that they lie, cheat and steal for money. I do believe many bankers and titans of industry do, however (and just for a frame of reference Hank Paulson is a Christian Scientist and if we are going by last names, Cassano, McCarthy, Raines, O’Neal, Mozilo, Moynihan–it could be argued that complaints about the financial meltdown are anti-Italian or anti-Irish). This belief is not based on antisemitism, but on irrefutable evidence of the last decade. So the question is why is Kinsley defending the indefensible? The real antisemitism is in assuming all bankers are Jewish and that any criticism of the banking industry is by default an attack on Jews. That premise is simply ridiculous, clearly perpetuates a stereotype and only serves to distract from the real problem–an amoral financial industry. Goldman is singled out because, thanks in large part to their non-Jewish former chair Henry Paulson, they got preferential treatment in the bailout debacle. Had Paulson worked for Bank of America and wangled a similarly sweet deal for them, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. I totally agree that antisemitism is a serious issue. Taibbi’s attack on Goldman Sachs is not part of the problem, however.


Glenn Beck: Economy Could Get Worse

Wow–thank you, Captain Obvious.  What was your first clue?  The dismal unemployment numbers?  The Dow jumping around like a roller coaster car on one rail?  The fact that every credible economist has been warning about this for weeks or even years?

This guy is simply a huge, colossal  embarrassment to CNN.  It is unconscionable that they give him any air time or column space, much less make his ridiculous pronouncements headline material.

I really hope that once the country is shaken out of its eight year sensory deprivation experiment, we can finally get back to reality-based journalism and punditry and stop pretending that people like Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity are sages of the right. Certainly, they are entitled to hold any idiotic opinion they wish, but it’s about time that those opinions are treated like the foolish rantings of spoiled bullies that they are and not like valid alternative viewpoints.

Apparently impressed by his keen sense of observation and insightful commentary, Fox News is going to take Beck off CNN’s hands.  How will CNN fill this gaping hole in their psuedo-analyst opinionocracy?  I’m thinking Sarah Palin might be looking for a new job soon…

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The Internet

The bigges f**ing gathering in the world, with the stupidest, f**ing people on the planet.

Not sure why I put myself through it, but I just peeled myself away from ABC online’s news chat. It will take me a couple of days to decompress and recover from the abject despair I feel every time I read what passes for intelligent discourse these days.  I’m just gonna’ come out and say it: Americans collectively are the most ill-informed and self-centered supposedly “civilized” people on the planet.  Quick to point out the failings of all other nations, yet  unwilling to look at the rafters in our own eyes.  There is no difference between someone who CAN’T inform themselves (due to government policies or lack of resources) and someone who WON’T (the majority of Americans who refuse to look much past Fox News to inform their view of the world).

There seems to be an inverse correlation at work here. The more stupid you are, the more vocal and intransigent in your opinion you are bound to be. I really think many Americans, especially of the far right persuasion (although the extreme on the other side is no picnic, either), mistake the passion of their feelings for the rightness of their cause.  Just because you feel strongly about it doesn’t make it right. Why is this so hard to understand?  Also about had it with the “two sides” baloney as an excuse to present fictitious or discredited information as legitimate. An opinion is not a “side.”  Wish our media had the balls to recognize this and keep blowhards like Glenn Beck, et al, from presenting their childish perspective as another valid way of seeing the world. It isn’t. The world they inhabit in their minds does not now, nor has it ever existed. Their schtick is getting pretty tiresome and it only encourages the idiocy of the many intellectually lazy Americans who, although they can’t be bothered to think beyond their “dittohead” status, now have a public venue in which to display their deficient reasoning skills.

We have become a nation of pseudo-experts, responding to every issue with the black and white assurance that our opinion on a topic is just as valid as the opinion of someone who has spent years becoming an expert. This is a worrisome trait. Lack of distinction between accomplishment versus strong passion (read: “faith”) is what led to the Dark Ages. Modern work life is plagued by people who “don’t know what they don’t know,” but who somehow manage to infiltrate even the highest ranks of many organizations. It is not snobbery to insist that people know what they’re talking about before they are allowed to make decisions that impact others around them–it is good management. However, in an effort to be “egalitarian” and solicit feedback from everyone equally, we allow these unconscious incompetents to do a great deal of damage. I’m tired of the anti-intellectual bias. It’s clearly not working well for us and it’s time for a change.

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Breaking: John Edwards is a Lying Scumbag Politician

So this is more than a little disappointing, but does it really rate the amount of media coverage it has been given? We already knew that Edwards was a politician and that in his past life, he was a personal injury lawyer.  That is a “two-fer” on the general yuckiness scale of personal character.  Now he has hit the trifecta, adding “philandering while your wife is very ill” to his resume. All he needs now is profiting from arms deals with the enemy to merit the Newt Gingrich/Oliver North Lifetime Achievement in Douchebaggery award. Close on his heels is Senator John McCain, although, for whatever reason, the media chooses not to recognize (or report on) his stellar achievements in this area. Maybe this is because he had help with his douchebaggery; a rich, addicted, much younger second wife (for whom the “maverick”  left his disabled first wife) who founded a medical charity so she could steal drugs from it. In short, she is a “ringer” in terms of douchebaggery, so maybe the media feels he has an unfair advantage.

The list of yuckies is long and equally split between the two parties: Bill Clinton (D), Newt Gingrich (R), Gary Hart (D), John McCain (R), John Edwards (D), David Vitter (R), etc., etc. I wouldn’t trust the judgment of any one of these men. If you can’t provide leadership for your own reproductive organs, why do you think you would be an appropriate leader for the country?  It’s not the moral aspect of this. I don’t need to judge their morality–that’s up to their families and their maker. It’s the absurdity of grown, educated men of significant achievement being unable to grasp that their behavior WILL have consequences that really bothers me. As our current president has amply demonstrated, “Consequence Understanding Disorder” is not a good qualification for the presidency. Right now, only one of these individuals is running for president.  If you don’t think Edwards is a fit candidate than you have to apply the same standard to McCain, even if the media refuses to do so. No doubt an Obama bombshell is just around the corner. If by some miracle he has managed to “keep it in his pants,” he would be a rare breed of politician. Now THAT would be news.

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Abandon Hope All ye Who…

…read the Wall Street Journal.  The conservative bias of the WSJ is no secret, but in the past the venerable rag at least pretended to adhere to journalistic standards.  Then came Rupert Murdoch.  Did anyone actually believe that the same yahoo who brought us Fox News and all the other quality Fox programming would live up to his promise to maintain the same high quality journalism after his acquisition of the WSJ last year?  Clearly he has no standard of reference for good journalism, so even if his intentions were honorable (which is doubtful), his judgment and ability are totally lacking.  The inevitable result?  Ideologically tainted reporting that ignores crucial facts to make a–usually strained–political point.  Here is a recent example. Scientific integrity has been seriously compromised in recent years, thanks in large part to the political machinations of people the WSJ and Murdoch helped put in office, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the WSJ address the topic of “yellow science.”  After all, science influences our lives every day.  Recent revelations of misleading and downright false scientific claims made by political appointees and  titans of industry, claims  that resulted in the unleashing of dangerous and deadly products and seriously flawed public policy, should get all of our attention.  Unfortunately that is not the “science” the WSJ is concerned with and, taking their cues from the far right, the WSJ has distilled the broad field of scientific endeavor down to to one politically charged topic–global warming.  Even if you accept that global warming has not been rigorously scientifically studied (which is false–it has been), the issue lies in interpretation of the data and people of integrity and good judgment may honestly disagree with what the data shows.  That is not the same thing as what was implied in this obvious hit piece.  It is seriously tabloid-esque of the WSJ to feature an alarming headline to try to score a political point. Wonder where they ever got that idea?

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CNN: I'll Stratch Your Beck if You Scratch Mine

Since CNN apparently finds my comments about Glenn Beck to be unpublishable (and they may have a point!), I will just have to share them here.  Mr. Beck’s role as a commentator is truly baffling given his poor grasp of cultural reality, childish world view and complete lack of original thought.  He may be good at parroting snippets from the neocon talking points handbook or lifting ideas directly from his ‘betters’ (why hasn’t Rush sued him?), but there is no way a thinking person could mistake him for an intellectual giant.  Lately, Mr. Beck has taken to sending public love letters to his cronies in industry in a sycophantic attempt at self-enrichment.  First, there was his heartfelt, public thank you to the oil companies for all they have done for the ungrateful American consumer.  Most recently, he donned his groveling kneepads and begged for tax relief–for corporate America. Is CNN attempting to alienate the 90+% of the viewing public who recognize this for what it is–Glenn Beck attempting to ingratiate himself with big money interests by selling out the average American?

Real journalists and commentators are prohibited from making endorsements for self-enrichment both by policy and by their own journalistic integrity.  Yet Mr. Beck is allowed to repeatedly use the public airwaves to vigorously endorse political positions with no investigation into his financial relationships with the industries or related lobbying organizations he supports.  It is bad enough that he does not have the scruples to refrain from such behavior himself, but unconscionable that CNN would provide him the platform to do so disguised under the mantle of legitimate commentary.  Maybe he receives no financial reward. Maybe he truly is as groveling and obsequious as his commentary suggests.  However, even if that is the case (I make no claim to understand Mr. Beck’s mental state and am not a licensed therapist), by virtue of whatever mental defect would cause a grown man to act that way, he is unfit to be shaping public opinion.

CNN promotes Mr. Beck’s show as an “unconventional look at the news of the day.”  In reality, Mr. Beck could not be more conventional.  He is the model rightwing blowhard.  CNN might as well just come out and state that they accept the accusation by the right that they have a liberal bias and that they are willing to do anything to demonstrate their “fairness,” including giving air time to malignant personalities who proudly work against the public interest.

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