Category Archives: Society

Two Signs of Hope From Very Odd Places

I gotta tell you I never would have seen this coming. In the increasingly polarized country we live in today, it is hard to believe that conservatives and liberals could talk about each other, much less with each other. Yet, during my daily scanning of the headlines on Google news, I came across an article I thought surely had to be a joke. I read it and it wasn’t. The whole thing was true. It appeared to be a rare occurrence, something a person might never see. I moved on, amazed by my luck, and then it happened again.

No I’m talking about Rep. David Wu being accused of sexual misconduct. Let’s face it, that happens all the time. He is the fourth member of Congress who has been accused this year. It really makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with the people in Congress, but if you ask that it begs the question of what the hell is wrong with us? We vote for these guys. Anyway, I came across two instances of a person defending someone who is in another ideological world from them.  Ann Coulter , who I normally regard as insane although I do own one of her books, was on Sean Hannity’s show and refused to talk badly about Bill Maher. While disagreeing on everything, Maher and Coulter, are actually longtime friends. Maher often introduces Coulter as his “old drinking buddy.” That must have irked Hannity, so Ann Coulter’s on my good list today. Perhaps, that one isn’t so surprising, but then I read that Arianna Huffington went on ABC and defended Michele Bachmann. The media has recently taken to talking about Bachmann’s migraines. While it might be news, even I think that it’s been overblown. Huffington called the media’s coverage “sexist” and said Bachmann was getting the “female treatment.” Those are pretty harsh words coming from someone who must think everything Bachmann believes is crazy.

I feel pretty good about this. It shows that we’re not at each other’s throats constantly. It makes you realize that some people out there can keep things in perspective. And let me tell you, if those people are Ann Coulter, and Arianna Huffington, then there has to be hope for the rest of us.

I Try To Get Out Of My Funk

I haven’t been writing much lately. The debt ceiling debate, if you can call it that, has really gotten me down. There seems to be no common sense talk going on. Anyway, in spite of that, I’m pushing myself to write something. So I have a question to pose that I would enjoy any thoughts you may have.

You may have heard that the other day Rupert Murdoch and his son James appeared before a Parliament committee. This was all because of the phone-hacking scandal that caused the demise of “The News of the World,” a Murdoch owned paper. There was a lot of commentary. All the cable news networks carried coverage of the hearings. Rupert Murdoch called it the “most humble day of my life.”

So in the middle of this hearing a self-proclaimed comedian, called Jonnie Marbles, tried to throw a pie in Murdoch’s face. He missed, getting the pie on

Photo courtesy ABC News

Murdoch’s jacket. At that point Murdoch’s wife, forty years his junior, leapt up and smacked the guy in the head.  The best parts of this picture are the looks on the faces of the MPs, which range from disgust to befuddled to amused.

I’ve written all this for one real purpose and that is to ask a question. I’ve never been to a Congressional hearing, but I don’t think this could happen in the US. I think security would prevent it. What I’m asking is:

How did this guy get a pie into Parliament?

Will They Ever Stop?

The Westboro Baptist Church is at it at again. Now they are targeting Betty Ford. The former First Lady died this week. Betty Ford was known for bringing drug addiction out of the shadows and giving it national attention. It is not surprising that Westboro would choose to picket her funeral. t. According to their press release Betty Ford got a divorce before she married Gerald Ford. This means she committed adultery. Therefore, she is now in Hell, and it is the work of God’s servants to tell everyone about it.

I thought I missed the days when Westboro just hated gay people. Back then they were called extreme, but they really weren’t too far off the Christian mainstream path. A lot of fundamentalist Christian factions hate gay people. They aren’t as brazen about it, but it is still true. Jerry Falwell was and Pat Robertson is no fan of the homosexual community but they have been considered pillars of the evangelical movement. Westboro didn’t make Kansas look so bad then. I’ve changed my mind.

Now, Westboro has pushed further to the point where it seems they believe everyone is evil but them. They protest everything, whether they have a reason or not. It is disturbing, especially at the funerals of fallen soldiers. Their signs say they hope for more people to be killed. In a way, I find that kind of comforting. I love that they are pushing themselves further to the fringe. As a person who grew up and still lives in Kansas, I would be glad to see these people not be taken seriously, and given no attention.

Betty Ford was a wonderful woman. She fought for women’s rights and took issues that were considered taboo and forced us to talk about them. Betty Ford knew that hiding problems doesn’t solve problems. She wanted to put those issues in the national spotlight and we should be thankful. I hope more people with national attention do follow her example.

Nancy Tries To Keep The Circus Going

So you’ve probably heard that the Casey Anthony trial is over. She was found not guilty of all the crimes that were serious. Not surprisingly, the American public thinks she’s guilty anyway. Perhaps this is because we are far to cynical, and we assume the worst. Maybe the media coverage painted her as the bad guy. Maybe, she was guilty. Anyone of these could be true. There is no doubt her behavior was unusual. Apparently the evidence just wasn’t there. This is how our justice system is supposed to work. It is made so that a guilty person goes free before an innocent person goes to jail.

I have no real opinion on her guilt or innocence. I paid very little attention to the trial. In fact I tried to avoid it as much as I could. That however was nearly impossible. This became one of those cases that snowballed into absurdity. One news outlet covered, and so others followed suit, hoping not to get scooped. Then it became the sensation that 24 hour news needed to fill their time. Nancy Grace came down with the fire and brimstone of the South. Reuters reports that Headline News will air 26 hours of coverage of a trial that is over. Apparently Nancy isn’t done yet. It would seem there is no other crime to talk about. I thought that was odd. So I did a little research.

Based on the television coverage you would think Caylee Anthony was the only child who died in 2008. She was not. According to the FBI, 559 children under the age of 5 were murdered that year. In 2009, it was 491. Yet, I don’t recall hearing much about them. The past few weeks news has been falling all over themselves trying to get the latest from a Florida courtroom while they ignored everything else. If Caylee Anthony’s was being told to raise public awareness, it would be great. If the news was trying to help prevent another crime or accident or whatever this was, I would be all for it. They weren’t. If that’s what they were doing, you would have heard more than just the name of Caylee Anthony. You would have heard something about the more than 500 preschoolers, toddlers and infants who were killed that year. You didn’t because the news thought the Anthony story was good “entertainment.”

Instead of providing information about our world, they were raising primetime ratings. The story had it all. A cute little girl whose life was taken away by a mother who just wanted to be free from responsibility. It wrote it’s own appaling script. Casey was an easy villian, her daughter the innocent victim, and Nancy Grace, the Edward R. Murrow of down-home justice, bringing all the details straight to our living rooms.

Caylee Anthony’s death was certainly tragic, but no more so than the death of any child. For people who call themselves journalists to throw her memory up as the foundation for their own prosperity is sickening. For Nancy Grace to be on television for 26-hours just so that people can see what she did during this trial is beyond the pale. She owes and apology to the families and memories of every child who was murdered that got ignored because this story made for good television.

Praise For PolitiFact

You may know that I am a big fan of the website Politifact is a non-partisan fact checking website that does it’s best to sort out the truth behind the statements of politicians, journalists and pundits. They recently did an article about the War Powers Resolution. The resolution limits a President’s power to engage in hostilities against another nation without congressional approval. You can read the article here. Politifact had a hard time coming to a concrete answer. Not surprisingly, the meaning of the War Powers Resolution, and its enforcment is a bit murky.

It limits the President from engaging in “hostilities” without congressional approval, but it doesn’t define hostilities. Experts seem to be split or undecided on the issue. I would enocourage you to read the article to try and form your own opinion. Politifact’s review of the situation is not what I wanted to talk about, but it is the backdrop. What I want to talk about is Politifact’s conduct regarding e-mails from readers.

I read the article about the War Powers Resolution. I’ve actually read a lot of what Politifact reviews. It is a top-knotch website when it comes to sorting out the truth. Their article on this issue left me with a couple of questions. So I took the opportunity to e-mail them. I wrote this:

“Your article on the War Powers act was interesting, I’m wondering why we are only talking about Libya? People are complaining about Obama’s actions in Libya violating the War Powers act, but since the Bush administration I believe, we have been striking Pakistan and targets in Yemen. Why are these not questioned? Also, since ratified treaties carry the weight of law are we not legally obligated to be a part of NATO actions? I would be interested in any information you can dig up on those questions. Thanks!

I was hoping for at least some kind of answer, but not expecting much. A website like this gets many emails about various subjects. I was unbelievably surprised when, I kid you not, 1 hour and 13 minutes later I got this reply:

“It’s a good question we did not address in the story. I believe that the answer is that (1) actions to counter terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda were approved in the post-9/11 resolution that green-lighted the Afghanistan War, and (2) no one in Congress seems to be making the argument that the president cannot pursue those actions.”

I couldn’t believe it. This was not a form letter reponse. It wasn’t a “Thank you for your interest,” auto reply. Someone had taken the time to read my question and provide an answer. I especially enjoyed that it was from a person who said, “I believe.” Obviously they hadn’t had the time to do detailed research into my question, but I was given a preliminary answer by a knowledgable person.

I wish to commend Politifact for this. Since it is becoming more evident that we cannot depend on the “news,” it is refreshing to see people who care about the truth and are willing to take the time to address an individual’s questions. Thank you

Palin’s Trickle-Down History: George Washington

In the aftermath of the so-called “folksy word salad,” in which she described Paul Revere’s midnight ride. It seems Sarah Palin may have been giving history lessons to her supporters.

According to the British newspaper, The Telegraph, Peter Singleton is a lawyer and representative of the group Organize4Palin. He’s been going around Iowa trying to drum up support for the former Alaska governor. He believes that she is going to run. He said the thought of her staying out of the race was  “unthinkable” and likened Palin’s situation to that of George Washington saying:

“Can you see George Washington in 1776 sitting it out? Unthinkable. He wanted to be back on his farm but they said we need you to be president of the republic.”

I would just like to point out that no one was asking George Washington to be President in 1776. There wasn’t even a country for him to lead as President. To go even further, when the country existed under the Articles of Confederation George Washington did not serve as the Executive. It wasn’t until 1789 that George Washington became the first President elected under the Constitution.

Now, I have to admit that perhaps he just misspoke, but then I went to the Organize4Palin website and found a page detailing Palin’s views on issues. Under “American Exceptionalism” is a quote from a SarahPAC post:

Please remember we must learn about our past – our great successes, our bitter struggles, our enduring strength – in order to navigate through the challenges ahead so that we might remain a shining city on a hill and the abiding beacon of freedom.”—SarahPAC post(6/8/2011)

Not only is this coming from the woman who mangled Paul Revere, it’s being reposted by a guy who put George Washington in charge of a country 13 years early. That’s a great example of learning about our past to help us in the future.

Singleton claims he has never met Palin.  A claim I find interesting considering he is canvassing Iowa finding volunteers and supporters. However, it could be true. The Palin team should realize this is just another example of things that make Palin look like she isn’t qualified to lead a nation. If they truly aren’t associated with this guy, they should really try to shut him up.

On a side note, do you think this will get Wikipedia’s George Washington page shut down?

Israel Sends The Wrong Message

At some point in the near future, apparently the date is being kept a secret, a groups of ships, called the Freedom Flotilla 2, will be sailing from Greece to the Gaza Strip. You may remember that this happened about a year ago. In that case, nine people were killed by Israeli soldiers in what was a complete debacle for the Israeli Defense Forces. Let me be clear that I think Israel has every right to be wary of this situation. The Gaza Strip is controlled by a group that does not recognize Israel, and has made the destruction of Israel its top priority for years. I believe that Israel has every right to ensure that the supplies carried on this convoy are for humanitarian uses only. If there are any weapons they should be confiscated as that would surely be illegal weapons trafficking. Israel, however, is making me question the validity have their concern. Namely, they are engaging in a tactic that is akin to dictators. They’re threatening journalists.

An article in the Christian Science Monitor reports that Israel is threatening to ban journalists from the country for up to a decade if they are on one of these ships. Journalists go where the story is. It is true that they often go where there is no story also, but trying to keep the media out of this just leads to the idea that Israel wants to suppress the story. Journalists are banned from Syria right now for exactly that reason. The Syrian government does not want the truth to get out about what they are doing. By keeping journalists out they are preventing an accurate narrative to be written. This allows them to fill the void with the story they want everyone to hear.

I don’t think Israel is comparable to Syria. Israel is a democracy that does not oppress its people. Some will argue that instead Israel oppresses the Palestinians, who it is worth noting, were kicked out of their homes in the late 1940s. Palestinians have a legitimate problem with Israel and the Western world. So when Israel engages in suppressing journalists, it makes them look like they have something to hide. More importantly this tactic will not work. We’ve seen it in Arab countries all year. The mainstream media isn’t needed for information anymore. The use of Facebook and YouTube has exploded. Through the internet videos will be seen, information will spread. Israel can count on one thing. The YouTube videos, and Twitter feeds will not be favorable.  The mainstream media uses a code of ethics in what it reports. The social media world does not. Israel’s opponents will use all of these outlets to spread their message whether it is fair or not. The mainstream media is the only hope Israel has of getting an objective story out there.

Israel’s best plan is to stop this flotilla as peacefully as possible. Inspect the cargo, and make sure that CBS, CNN, The New York Times and others get a good look at it. If anything is illegal or bound for violent use, it will get reported and Israel will be vindicated. If it is all humanitarian aid, everyone will know. Then Israel can say it was protecting itself, but found nothing illicit. There is nothing wrong with Israel trying to prevent weapons from entering Gaza so that they can be used to hurt Israelis. Trying to suppress journalists, however, sends a terrible signal. It says that Israel isn’t sure that they are protecting themselves. This effort will hurt the Israeli cause not help it.