Tag Archives: media

Government Shutdown Was Planned For Months

Government Shutdown Was Planned For Months By Ed Meese, Koch Bros.

From the article, “So, when you are told by Republicans that the shutdown is he fault of President Obama and Democrats, you can now say with certainty that this is untrue.”

Note the article’s source: FOX news

My comment:
The Union and Confederate soldiers would often get together in the evenings, and then resume hostilities the next morning.  Axis and Allied soldiers would cross the fields between the trenches to share a bottle overnight and then resume hostilities the next day.

One can be friends with a conservative, but one never forgets that they are also, always the enemy.  It is their stated intention to destroy the USA and all that she has come to stand for.  All that it was said she stood for from the moment she was founded, though it has taken a long time to even begin to approach those ideals.  And, even though there is a long way to go to achieve those ideals.  This latest manufactured “crisis” and the looming one in 9 days are just the latest examples of their attempts to do so.
This is what they have said they want, and this is what they have worked hard to accomplish.


The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is…

I have written before on the purpose that fairy tales served in our not too distant past before they were sanitized and Disneyfied.  In short, they were very useful for keeping children in line.  Fear.  Our first method of discipline as children is often fear.  It is typically the same method that many western religions use.  It is the reason that the phrase “god-fearing Christian” still exists in our lexicon.  (That, and it is baked into the Judeo-Christian religion at a fundamental level.)  As we grow and mature, we can develop into more complex and reasonable ways to discipline and learn.  Fear need not be the way we teach our children the difference between right and wrong, nor should it be the way we govern ourselves, or our society.

Decisions made on the basis of fear are almost always knee-jerk reactions, and more often than not, short of truly critical individually life threatening emergency situations, they are wrong.  Fight or flight responses are almost never appropriate for a society.

This is precisely what we do though.  We elect people more often than not based on fear.  Fear of “the other guy”.  Fear of what will happen if we act on the courage of our convictions.  Fear that “this election is too important to take a chance”.  Fear that we are “at war” with al Qaeda, on drugs, on poverty, on women, on ________ .

All too often, those we elect, and worse yet, those we do not elect, but that are in positions of extraordinary power, are more than happy to use this fear to manipulate and control the populace in the ways that they see fit.  In fairness, some of them are dong so because they sincerely believe that it is necessary.  They truly believe that “the world is a dangerous place” and that “the ends justifies the means”.  These are the people that I most feel sorry for.  They fail to understand that they are actually creating or exacerbating the problems that they are seeking to protect us against.

Yes, there are bad people in the world, and yes, we do have to take steps to protect ourselves against them.  We do not, however, have to go overboard with that.  We do not have to start sacrificing our liberties and our minds in that pursuit.  With complete honesty and not the least bit of hyperbole, it is these people, the ones that are supposed to be protecting us, that scare me far more than the al Qaedas, the M-13s, or the Somali pirates of the world.  I literally have no fear of walking through Chicago’s Auburn Gresham or Shanghai at 2:00 am (which I have done), but these people at the NSA, Homeland Security, the FBI, and the other nearly 1,300 other governmental organizations plus 2,000 private companies?  Yeah, they cause me a great deal of alarm.  Read those numbers again, and stop to think about that.  That is a security apparatus that is not transparent.  It is not even fully known how widely it stretches.  You will not find anyone, any where, who can eve tell you how much money is being spent on these operations.  You will find estimates, but no accurate totals.

And, it is, by its very nature based on fear.  What do animals that are fearful do?  Have you ever seen a cornered dog or cat?  One that is afraid?  That is a dangerous animal!

Then, there are the other types of people who are involved in this community.  Those are the people who should be removed from their positions, stripped of their wealth and prosecuted for a variety of crimes.  In many cases, crimes against humanity.  These are the people who have used fear to manipulate and control simply to enrich themselves and their friends.  They have used fear to maintain positions of power, wealth and prestige.  These people are rightfully called terrorists.  For they use terrorism, and the dictionary definition of terrorism is clear:


1.   the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

2.   the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.

3.   a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

Osama bin Laden was “on the run” for more than a decade after having been identified and claiming responsibility for the attacks on America on 9/11/2001.  During that time we launched three wars – The War on Terrorism, the War in Iraq, and the War in Afghanistan.  (Though the right has tried to revise history, the Bush cabal clearly made an effort to tie the War in Iraq to al Qaeda and sold it as part of the War on Terrorism.)  All three of these wars were to have two purposes.  First, to defeat al Qaeda, and by extension, any and all terrorists who would attack the US, and by extension, any Western interests anywhere around the world.  Second, to find and capture or kill Osama bin Laden.

Liberal Media? Riiiighttt

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”

– Ronald Reagan1

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”

– George Orwell, 1984

How many times have you heard about the “liberal media”?  Probably so many times that most of you even believe it.  It would be amusing, if it wasn’t so sad.  These types of falsehoods that become “facts” are precisely part of the war of definitions that the right has used to drag the political center, and the country, further and further to the right over the years.

This myth, in its current form, originated from a single survey that was done many years ago.  1972, S. Robert Lichter et al in “The Media Elite: America’s New Powerbrokers” did a small survey of 238 journalists, and found that the majority of them did vote Democrat.  While this shouldn’t be surprising, particularly given that that study after study shows that there is an inverse relationship between education and conservatism, and as a rule, journalists tend to be fairly well educated.  (This is the truth behind why Republicans and conservatives are so opposed to education.  It is why people like Rick Santorum say, “We will never have the elite, smart people on our side”)

Did this survey find that the media was liberal?  No, not really.  Not even its authors claim so.  What it found was that the media was, in fact, not liberally biased, though many of the mid-level and below reporters did tend to vote Democrat.  (At that point, voting Democrat actually put one a bit left of center.)  The right wing though, and in particular (oh, the irony here), the right wing columnists in the media, took this survey, twisted it, as they are wont to do, and on the other end of their propaganda machine came out the turd that “The media is liberal”.  They have been decrying the media as such ever since.

The facts in front of us would convince any sane reasonable person to the contrary, but that is not what we are dealing with.  We are dealing with people who have largely been victims of a Milligramesque Experiment echo chamber.  “You will accept authority.”  You will accept that the media is liberal.”  “You will believe that everything that comes from the government is evil.”  “You will ignore the contradictions.”  “You will ignore the man behind the curtain.”  You will give me your dollars.”

Oh, and buy my book!  It’s called, “How to get rich by selling people a book called, How to get rich by selling a book called, How to get rich by …”  It’s only $19.99.  Order here.

One of the other interesting things to consider in this is that these low- and mid-level reporters really have very little control or influence over what they actually put in the papers or on the screens.  The people who are in control are the editors and the managers.  These people are the ones who are shown, in the same material referenced above, and multiple repeated surveys, to be most typically conservative.  Oh, wait.  Let’s pause here.  What we have here is pretty typical, isn’t it?  Those at the top are going to escape taking responsibility, while the right blames those at the bottom for their perceived issues?  It is the typical way that the right wing operates.

Let us look briefly at the consolidation of media.  I’m sure we’ve all seen the numbers, yes?  And, they are constantly changing.  Growing ever more consolidated.  When Ben Bagdikian introduced The Media Monopoly in 1983, he concluded that “50 men and women, chiefs of their corporations, control more than half the information and ideas that reach 220 million Americans, it is time for Americans to examine the institutions from which they receive their daily picture of the world.”  Today, 30 years later, the consolidation has grown to such a degree that we now have “more than 1500 newspapers, 1100 magazines, 9000 radio stations, 1500 TV stations, 2400 publishers, owned by only 3 corporations,” as the meme goes.  Using Bagdikian’s methodology, in 2009, this number had fallen from 50 to 15 controlling over 50% of the information and ideas dominating the American market, and:

Expanding the analysis to include emergent technologies like cable television, satellite radio and the Internet, the number of corporations dominating the American media remained at 20.


Educate and grow! Indoctrinate and stall!


Pronunciation: /ˈɛdjʊkeɪt/


    give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to (someone), typically at a school or university: she was educated at a boarding school

Here is today’s shocking truth for you.  Some of you will know this consciously.  Others will know it subconsciously.  Some will deny it strenuously.  View it how you may, it is a sad, truth.


Pronunciation: /ɪnˈdɒktrɪneɪt/


    teach (a person or group) to accept a set of beliefs uncritically: broadcasting was a vehicle for indoctrinating the masses

Most parents, hell, most people in the world, and in particular in America do not really want to teach their children.  They damn sure do not want other people’s children taught!  They want them indoctrinated.  They want them to be indoctrinated in very specific ways.  In the same ways that they were.

I admit it.  There was a period when I had to overcome it myself.  My oldest son was around 3 when I realized it.  I even verbalized it to his mother.  I told her, “You know, it isn’t that we don’t want our kids to be indoctrinated.  It’s just that we want them to be indoctrinated in the same beliefs that we hold dear.”  It was the beginning of an internal dialogue that went on to break through that particular log jam in my own head.  Fortunately, he was young enough, that I don’t think he suffered too much for it.

Anyway, that is the point, isn’t it?  For most people, they never really look past the, I want my child to believe the same as I do.  I have consistently taught my kids, to think for themselves.  I have been writing this with the hopes of educating, and yes, convincing, you, but in each and every case, I have presented evidence and arguments, and asked that you think for yourselves.  At no time would I ask that you simply take my word for it.  Take what I say and verify it.  Go do your own research.  It’s out there.

When it comes to my children, beyond the basics of parental responsibility (chores, teaching modern hygiene, safety, etc), I expected them to think for themselves.  Absolutely listen to me, but question it.  Go out and research it.  If you can show me where I am wrong, go ahead.  Please do.  I will admit it.  I am okay with that.  I would rather admit that I am wrong, learn from it and move on.  In fact, I made it a point to let my kids see me admit I was wrong when I was.  I thought it was a valuable lesson for them to see.

And, that is what is missing from many people, but in particular what is missing from the right wing as a rule.  For example, despite the overwhelming mass of evidence over the last 40 years, not to mention all of the previous experiments with it, they continue to insist that supply side economics works.  Despite all the collapsed sectors of the economy where they had to violate their own expressed principles and step in to prop up those sectors in order to not have them drag down the rest of their carefully constructed system of wealth redistribution, they continue to insist that this focus on moving more and more wealth in to the hands of fewer and fewer people works.  In fact, they want to do so at a faster and faster pace.  They continue to insist that not only should we not raise taxes, but that we need to cut spending.  But, the only places that the far right wants to cut spending, of course, is on the backs of the poorest of our citizens, and on what’s left of the middle class.  They want to cut the very programs that are most needed.

They also, of course, say that they want to cut the programs that actually pay for themselves.  How ironic, no?  (Again, this is why I have previously said that Conservatism is no longer a philosophy.  It is a religion.  It is no longer based on thought and reason, but rather on belief, superstition, and indoctrination. “accept a set of beliefs uncritically”)

Pay No Attention To The Squid Under The Toupeè

I would like to share some observations with you this week.  This will be a bit different than most posts here in the SCIAMAGE column.

I have been listening to a lot of FAUX News and CNN HLN News on SiriusXM radio over the last three months.  The other morning my subscription ran out, and I have no intention of renewing it.  It’s okay.  It was a freebie that came with my car, rather than something that I had intentionally chosen.  I figured while I had it, I might as well use it, right?  Anyway, I started off listening to a lot of their POTUS channel.  That’s supposed to be “unfiltered political talk,” but wound up being mostly the same boring talk radio drivel I could get on AM radio in the afternoon drive time.  At lunch time, the Press Pool show was reporters interviewing each other, and the morning was about as interesting as listening to grass interviewing acorns about the life of squids.

It wasn’t long before I settled into a routine of listening to FOX News and flipping over to CNN.  Occasionally I would divert over for some music.  I didn’t listen to their NPR option, primarily because it wasn’t the news shows, but the “human interest” shows.  While those can be fascinating, I really wanted the news and politics in the limited time I spend in my car.

FAUX News really likes to present themselves as out of the mainstream.  They consistently refer to all of the other news sources as the “mainstream news media”.  I suppose from one perspective, they’re right.  They are not mainstream news, in that they’re really not news.  They are infotainment in the same sense that Ron Popeil was.  However, there are a lot of people who consider them news, and in that sense, their claims are simply more lies.  Last year, for the 11th straight year, they dominated the cable news viewership with an average of 2.071 million in prime time.   In fact, for their category, they dominate in every time slot.  Every day.  That is the very definition of mainstream.

One very striking difference between FAUX news and CNN when listening to them though is this, CNN is more like your local news station.  That is, they spend a lot of time covering “human interest” stories and sports.  They’ll cover fashion and entertainment.  FAUX news doesn’t do this except to a very limited degree.  Fox is very message driven.  If the story doesn’t support their overall message of fear, the Democrats are evil, the president is the anti-Christ, and that the country has gone to hell because of that, then it doesn’t make it onto their air waves.  They are very hard hitting.  The facts they use are questionable at best, though sometimes accurate.  Much in the same way that it has been said that the devil uses the truth.

CNN HLN, on the other hand, remains so fluffy and devoid of substance as to be nearly useless.  Seriously, it may as well be E-TV these days.  When CNN started back in 1980, it was actually 24 hour news.  Certainly there were human interest stories and a little bit of the sports stories.  I remember that I first heard about the Blue Man Group on CNN back in 1993.  It was a short segment in the last 5 minutes of the hour, when it might have gone over to local affiliates, except that it didn’t here.  Mostly though, they had actual news on.  The stories were short, and lacking in any real depth, but they were actual news.  Those days are gone.  CNN does its best to be the national version of Every Town, USA’s local news.  As a result, it fails to delivery real, substantial news of the national scale that is needed from a national cable news outlet.

Roll up your sleeves, put away the toys, and lets do this!

Do you ever get tired of having the same conversations over and over again?  That overwhelming déjà moo striking you like a ton of bricks?  I know I do.  There are legitimate reasons to repeat a conversation.  For example, when there are new conditions, new facts, or if one has new students and needs to teach them.  However, this is so often not the case.  Particularly when the topic and context is our national political scene.

So, we discuss “gun control”, again, and one loud segment screams “You can have my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands,” as though confiscation is what reasonable people mean when they’re discussing gun control.  Reasonable people start to discuss ways that we could try to keep guns in the hands of responsible, sane people, out of the hands of insane, impulsive people, and from needlessly killing innocents.  And, yes, I suppose that there is likely a small segment who does advocate for the collection and destruction of all of the guns.  Though, honestly, I can’t find them anywhere other than in the ravings of the lunatic right-wing paranoiacs.  We go through this dance every few years, but the truth is that nothing has really changed in regards to guns themselves over the last half-century or so.  There has been some technological improvement in the ammunition and some in the firing rate, but essentially, we are still using the same guns we were using nearly a hundred years ago.  In fact, in some cases, we are literally using the same guns.  So, what has changed?  That is where our real focus needs to be, but as with so many things, we can’t get past the trees to see the forest.

Besides, that would mean looking in the mirror and taking responsibility.  That would mean, that we stop blaming the “schools”, the “government”, “Hollywood”, etc and accept our own personal responsibility in the choices that we have made as individuals, as parents, and as a society.  I am going to come back this in a moment.

It’s not just with guns that we keep having these same discussions, is it?  How many times in the last 15 years or so have we had national conversations about reforming the electoral process or campaign finance reform?  How successful has that been?  Why?  Because the people we send to do the job really have no interest in doing the job, and we, as a society, have not maintained any real interest in achieving a result either.  Think about where you work.  Let’s assume for the sake of discussion, and because I am sure that you are a responsible person, that you diligently work throughout the day, as you should.  When you look around though, I am sure you see a number of your co-workers who are frequently not.  They’re talking to others, taking extra breaks, surfing the internet, filing their nails, etc.  At a larger scale, this is essentially what happens with campaign finance reform, and all of the other things that we send our “leaders” to Washington, state capitals, and even the local county and city halls to change and address.  We send them there, and then there is no real oversight, so they get side-tracked with the perks or games playing.  The few who may care are incapable of accomplishing much because the others are too busy playing.  Until the deadlines approach.  At that point though, now all eyes are on them, and they have to seem to be doing their jobs to the best of their ability.  Which, sadly, they have been all along.

Imagine the National Tragedies Addressed. It’s easy if you try.

We live in an ADD culture.  From one minute to the next forgetting what happened in the last.  We move on and the last bit of shiny thing quickly becomes unimportant and then forgotten.  It is, I think, how we manage to maintain some semblance of sanity, if we can call it that, as a culture.  Some make the argument that without this forgetfulness we would look back at the things we have done, and we may well reach the conclusion that we have given up the right to exist.  Others point out that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.  We have certainly seen plenty of examples of that!

We really have to have some middle ground on this.  Forgetting those things that are important leads us to making the same mistakes over and over again.  Results in the classic definition of insanity.

Insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results.

On Friday, 12/14/2012, a disturbed mildly autistic 20 year old man in Newtown, CT killed his mother and then went to an elementary school where he killed 26 other human beings, mostly 6 and 7 year olds.  My heart goes out to those families that are touched by this horrible event.  I know all too well how many of them are feeling.  Many describe this as a national tragedy.  This is a horrible crime.  It is not a national tragedy.   A national tragedy would impact the nation as a whole, would involve a terrorist element, would be carried out by external forces, etc.  This was the act of a sick individual.  It was carried out by one of us.  And, it is horrible.

You know what is a national tragedy?  What is a national tragedy is that we have children starving in American every day.  (According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 16.7 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.)  We do not hear people making the noise and expressing outrage about that fact, which we should be hearing every day.  It is an international outrage that we have people around the world starving every day, while we have perfectly edible food being thrown out in the garbage every day, or rotting in our refrigerators and shelves.

It would take you literally seconds out of your day to help with that situation and cost you absolutely nothing other than that time.  Sure, you could contribute a lot more, but you could do something as little as load a web page and click on a link.  Doing so would result in a contribution being made by sponsors to The Hunger Site which then gets distributed to Mercy Corps, Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest), and Millennium Promise which then distributed food aid to people in 74 countries including America.  According to their “About The Hunger Site” page, they have given more then 671 million cups of food since their founding in 1999 and they average 220,000 individuals from around the world visiting daily.  Imagine if you will that average was consistent from day one, and that they were founded on January 1 of 1999, that would mean that from that day until the day this was published, they’ve averaged 131,620 cups of food.  Now, imagine if you will, the impact of 3 million visitors a day.  3 million visitors a day clicking on their link and donating that food.  That is less than 1% of the population of the United States, yet it is more than 10 times their current daily average.  Take it a step further and visit their sponsors, because those companies are doing some good in their communities.  Shop from their store, because those items, too, raise funds to help with the cause, and will further help raise awareness.

Or, to look at it more broadly, because we can, it is also a Global tragedy that people are starving around the world.    Though the Hunger Site clicks do contribute world wide, you can have a little fun while still contributing positively, though this one will require you to actually spend some time at the site.  It isn’t a hit and run.  Free Rice is a vocabulary game that donates rice to hungry people around the world via the United Nations World Food Programme.


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