Oobie's Big Book of Stuff

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Oobie’s Big Batch of News #1

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Gadhafi, from the cover of his upcoming solo album, "Depose THIS!"

We’re going to do a little something different this time out, the first sort of news roundup, grabbing a few stories and making brief comments about each. (Read: I’ve got nothing big in the tank, so we’re going to turn a bunch of stories into one piece.) Obviously, there are huge developments going on in the Middle East that should probably be plenty of fodder for a huge piece, but I for one have no idea how anything over there is going to turn out, and I’m not going to pretend I do.

Nonetheless, we’re going to start with the elephant in the room.

Photos and Video of Libyan Protests – (WARNING: Many of the images at this link are of a graphic nature. They personally made me uncomfortable, but I think their historic significance makes it important for people to understand what’s going on.)

And that elephant is mostly Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who seems to be the only one unaware of his elephant nature. His officials are defecting at every opportunity, his security forces not immediately within his line of sight are siding with protestors, and his entire country is tearing itself apart to remove him from power. And yet, he seems pretty sure this is all just going to blow over.

Oh, to be a batshit insane dictator.

Recent reports suggest the Libyan leader has been using tanks and warplanes in his attempts to break up the protests, showing a certain sweat-stained desperation in what I can only imagine are his final days in power. When the funeral marches of those killed in earlier protests turn into new demonstrations, military forces are ordered to fire upon them, too.

It’s times like this I’m especially glad to live in America, where we don’t have to fear that sort of reaction from our leaders.

Freedom to incite violence? Or just freedom to cap a bitch?

Indiana state official says “Use live ammunition” on Wisconsin protestors
Well then…

On the plus side, this guy doesn’t have a job anymore. On the down side, I wasn’t in the room to listen to his exit interview.

“I just… I don’t understand! Was it the whole ‘shooting US citizens’ thing?”

“I’m going to be honest with you. It kinda was, yeah.”

This guy was a deputy attorney general, meaning he was a lawyer. If he thinks it would be okay to just go ahead and off some people who are exercising their first amendment rights, I’d be interested to see what other positions he’s taken throughout his career.

At the very least, I suppose it could be said that he stuck to his guns. (Insert rimshot here.)

Iranian President Condemns Mideast Violence

Because one world leader certainly didn’t.

On the list of mind-numbingly incomprehensible things anyone has ever said in the history of time, we have a new entry, thanks to Iran’s own fountain of insanity, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Said Ahmadinejad of the recent protests and crackdowns throughout the Middle East, “Instead of killing people, listen to them. How is it possible that a state leader uses bombers, tanks, and cannons to kill his own people and afterwards warns them that whoever says something will be killed. That is really ugly.”

Here, here! It’s a proud day for reason in the world, is it not?

Naturally, Ahmadinejad said that while his government was involved in violently cracking down on protests and raiding apartment buildings to steal satellite equipment to stop Iranians from getting news reports from around the world. Fun!

Wisconsin Governor Likes Dirty Tricks

From insane dictators to dirty politics, we move on to the Republican governor of Wisconsin. Scott Walker and the Republican-led State Senate have been pushing to strip public worker unions of virtually all their power, and much to Walker’s dismay, the Democrats in the state aren’t playing along.

I'm sure these people just don't know any better.

Walker detailed a plan in a phone call with a man he thought was a wealthy backer of his, in which the Republican governor would lure Senate Democrats back to the capitol building with the false promise of discussing the controversial bill, and then hold the vote without their knowledge, guaranteeing it would pass. Because, really, what better way to get a major controversy behind you than to screw thousands of citizens of your state with a political ploy that alienates the other side of the argument?

Also, Walker admitted that he’d considered planting troublemakers in the protest crowds, to make them seem more violent than they actually were. Now that’s a trick that would make the earlier entries on this list proud.

I salute you, Scott Walker, and your devious little mind. You’re a proud leader, and I’m sure the people of Wisconsin are glad to have such an accomplished grifter at the helm of their state.

Wisconsin Assembly Passes Bill

As an aside to the above entry, Republicans in the State Assembly managed to pass their vote on the controversial bill while state Democrats thought there was still a filibuster in progress, so that many Democrats didn’t even cast a vote because they weren’t aware one was happening.

Land of the free, home of the… what now?

The Speaker approves of this message in cowardly pandering.

Lawmaker condemns question… after a while
And finally, Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun was hosting an event in his home state when a constituent asked, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?”

Broun called the question “abhorrent”, a very strong statement against an obviously extreme ideological wing of his constituency. Of course, he only made that statement long after the fact, in a press release, AFTER the exchange was reported by local media. To the lunatic that asked the question, he pandered. He told the crowd he understood their frustration with Obama.

Like Speaker of the House John Boehner, Broun was faced with the very clear opportunity to denounce extremist thinking in his own constituency, and like the Republican speaker, he balked at it, instead offering a sort of olive branch of understanding and acceptance for lunacy, because that lunacy will vote for him later.

How can we come together as a nation and have civil discussions on the issues that matter if the leadership on one side of the aisle coddles those in their party that reject obvious facts to continue to harbor their own prejudices, or advocate for the murder of a commander in chief they happen to disagree with? There won’t be any real progress in this country until people can at least disagree with each other like human beings, instead of drowning each other out with insults and overblown rhetoric.

 

Written by oobiedoo

February 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Current Events

Accepting Ignorance

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Feel free to reject reality, and substitute it with your own.

President Barack Obama is a citizen of the United States. This is a fact. It’s a truth that can be proven. It’s not somebody’s opinion or open to debate in any way, shape, or form. It’s not a philosophical belief open to each individual’s interpretation. It’s a fact. Facts are facts, and facts are right. No matter how much you believe one and one is three, it’s actually two and you’re wrong and should be corrected as soon as is worldly possible.

Facts.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has to know this. He does know the president is a citizen of the US; he said as much in a recent interview. However, when confronted about people that still hold to the belief the president was born elsewhere, he also said, “It’s not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people.”

And my jaw hit the floor.

First, let’s just get it out of the way. He’s correct in that the US government shouldn’t be the thought police, going around to make sure everyone’s all thinking in the same line. Individuals should all think about things differently; that’s what makes them individual.

What doesn’t make people individual is blindly following propaganda, en masse, that is absolutely false. That’s the path to a belief that something is bad simply because you need it to be bad to justify your own bent ideology. It’s partisanship designed for no better purpose than to foster more partisanship, a sort of self-brainwashing that aids nothing but ignorance.

What doesn’t make a good leader is a man so spineless he can’t dare to suggest that people should not believe in something that is irrefutably not true. The purpose of a leader is to elevate those he leads, to inspire them to be better. Michael Jordan was the best player in the NBA not only because of his own greatness, but because of the way he made other players better. John Boehner doesn’t want people to be better than they’d otherwise be, and would rather just let people be as ignorant as they want to be.

And why? Politics. If people would rather be ignorant about this issue, if they would rather believe something that is blatantly false, then it makes the president weaker, at least in the eyes of those that choose not to see. If he appears weaker to anyone, then that will automatically make any Republican that challenges him in 2012 stronger. I’d be willing to bet not a single serious contender that emerges in the Republican field will ever make a strong statement about Obama’s unquestionable citizenship.

Second, if Boehner comes out and calls this situation what it is, ignorance for the sake of blind partisanship, then he’s just called a part of his base ignorant. And from what I hear, they don’t much like that. So, in essence, Boehner can’t make a stronger statement than he did, because then he would have little influence over his constituents down the line. He’s pandering to radicals that are inventing their own reasons to oppose someone, trying to toe a line so as not to insult the far-right (in this case, the far-FAR-right), and even to essentially give them a pass, to let them know it’s okay to look at a fact and decide if you don’t like it to just not believe it..

If it’s a person’s own prerogative to decide if President Obama is a United States citizen, to completely disregard the evidence that tells us he certainly is, then what other facts should we allow people to ignore as they see fit? Most of us know one and one is two, but how does it make you -feel-? Maybe if you’ve got a good reason why you think it should be three, we can make an exception for you. I’m just thinking out loud here. You and I may know a newborn baby has to eat on a regular basis, but hey, maybe it’s up to individuals to decide if they believe that. When I was younger, I was told girls can’t get pregnant the first time they have sex. Granted, my high school anatomy class informed me differently, and they had books that seemed to lend more credibility to their case, but maybe I’ll roll that one around in my head for a while, see which option fits me better.

Ignorance is dangerous. That’s why warning labels are mandated these days, to inform people, to protect them from not knowing the danger of what they’ve got in their hands, even if it seems obvious to most of us. There once was a day we were ignorant to the dangers of smoking tobacco, and millions suffered for it without knowing they would. It was once commonly accepted as truth that African-Americans weren’t entirely human, and that ignorant precept allowed people to justify awful practices like slavery, rape, and torture.

I wonder if John Boehner would have thought it wasn’t his job to tell people what to think in those instances. I suppose it depends on who he expected to vote for him. It takes great minds to penetrate the veil of ignorance and make this world better for it. Rep. Boehner made clear he has no desire to be one of those great minds.

Written by oobiedoo

February 15, 2011 at 5:48 am

The Power in Words

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“I have a dream today.” Martin Luther King spoke and a nation listened, began its slow march to change. His words spoke not of new ideals, new ways to approach life, or anything of the sort. His words merely echoed those that had already been put to paper, in the Constitution of this nation, in such a way that they would be more easily understood, and could absolutely not be denied. The purpose for Dr. King’s speeches could be easily summed up in the words of Thomas Jefferson, speaking to the purpose of the Constitution: “Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent…”

These are two men separated by nearly one-hundred fifty years, and yet they both understood that words had the power to change the world. One crafted the birth of a nation that would go on to be the greatest power in the world, the other charted a course for the liberty of an entire people. Both commanded the attention they needed to achieve their goals through their words.

Robert F. Kennedy was set to give a campaign speech in Indianapolis the night Martin Luther King was killed in Memphis, Tennessee. Instead, it fell to him to announce the tragedy to the gathered crowd. He did, at great personal risk to himself, and went on to speak eloquently about the need for understanding in the United States, the need for everyone to make a greater effort. As riots raged and fires burned throughout most of the major cities of the US that night, as all across the country frustration and bitterness swept up into the dangerous realm of hate, Indianapolis was quiet. The power of Kennedy’s words, beautiful and wise beyond what the moment should have allowed, brought some measure of solace to the aggrieved, and hate could not stand against it.

When Ronald Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” the world listened, and later a wall that had for so long divided fell. The power in his words, their strength along with the unquestionable right in them, changed the world. And yet, when Reagan spoke at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, of the tragedy of all the lost life there, the words of another penetrated his otherwise impervious demeanor. As the Republican president read the words of Anne Frank, “It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe people are good at heart,” his voice faltered, overcome by the profound meaning in the words of a young girl: faced with even the worst hatred, which destroyed millions of lives, hope still lived on. And those simple words moved a man who would dare to topple a great symbol of oppression.

The hatred that claimed the life of Anne Frank and millions of others whose only crime was to exist, was born in the twisted mind of Adolf Hitler. Today, only the most marginalized sections of society would openly embrace Hitler’s doctrine, but in the first half of the twentieth century he’d built an empire that took a great alliance of nations to defeat. He did not do this by hiding his beliefs, by hiding the awful truth of what he wanted to achieve. Instead, he used his great power for words to convince others, a great many others, that their neighbors were inferior to them, and that their very proximity was a threat. The heartless executions of nearly twenty million men, women, and children could never have been carried out by one man alone, no matter the depths of his evil. Instead, powerful words of hatred shaped the hearts and minds of a great many people to believe there was some noble purpose in the most heinous acts.

Words have forever changed the course of the world, for good and ill. They have moved nations toward progress as well as ruin, moved people toward freedom as well as destruction, moved individuals to stand as beacons of hope for order in the world, or as agents of its demise.

It is with this knowledge that I have to question why, in the wake of our latest national tragedy, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the deaths of several innocent bystanders, those who spread the rhetoric of hate and divisiveness have been given a pass. There is absolutely no way a person can say anyone’s words inspired Jared Loughner to do the horrible thing he did, but for any and all criticism of hateful rhetoric to be shoved aside, for the media to allow such criticism to be branded as nothing more than political attacks just as hateful in their own right, is a travesty. It is acceptance for corporate-sponsored hate speech.

Today, political pundits are available to audiences twenty-four hours a day. They appear on cable news around the clock, they harp on talk radio for several hours a day, and they blog online. They are more readily accessible to the public than our leaders, and their words travel farther, faster. They must be held to the same standard for the consequences of those words as the men and women they decry on a daily basis. If confronted with accusations of bias, any pundit will fall back on the defense that they are not newspeople, and thus are not held to the same standard. As such, they should not be granted the same freedom of the press.

Some would say this is an issue of free speech, rather than press, but I don’t think it applies here. A man is allowed to say whatever he chooses to say, so long as it doesn’t endanger anyone. Nobody is allowed to shout “fire” in a movie theater, because it puts people at risk in a panicked situation. Too, while a man certainly is allowed to voice his beliefs, no matter how twisted and hateful they may be, the first amendment does not grant him corporate-sponsored means to spread his hatred.

When, following the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, Rush Limbaugh said the Democratic Party “… openly wishes for such disaster in order to profit from it,” he made a conscious decision to forego benevolence in favor of belligerence, to continue his ongoing message of divisiveness, the “us versus them” mentality that RFK so eloquently decried as wasteful and beneath us. And the outcry against his message never came.

Glenn Beck has called the President of the United States a fascist, a communist, a socialist, and said that the beginning of his presidency was reminiscent of Adolf Hitler. He’s said that Democrats and liberals want to come into your home and take your guns away from you. He’s said that people have to stand up and resist these efforts. It’s not hard to see how, subjected to these messages five days a week, for the several hours a day Beck is on radio and TV, someone who is even only a little unbalanced could be moved to believe there would be cause for them to do something terrible. And yet, any mention of this in the public discourse is immediately shouted down as politically motivated.

Sarah Palin wrote in an e-mail to Beck, “I hate violence. I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence.” Those words are not a condemnation of dirty politics or hateful rhetoric, not a call for people to join together for greater understanding. They’re a political defense. Six people lie dead but she did not call for reason in the political debate, dared not admit that some tactics in the political realm go way over the line and that it may help some already disturbed people justify awful actions. Instead, she looked out for her own political image and future, because that’s how we pay respect to the dead in today’s world of politics.

Words have always had great power, and always will. We must hold ourselves responsible for the consequences of our own words, and too I think, we must hold public figures responsible for theirs, because they will clearly not shine that divining light upon themselves.

I choose not to accept words of hatred, not to allow them into my heart. And, because of that, I choose to end with another passage from Anne Frank’s diary.

“I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever-approaching thunder which will destroy us, too. I can feel the suffering of millions, and yet if I looked up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty, too, will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

Eight months later, Anne Frank was killed, but in her words lies the dormant hope in us all, waiting to be awakened, that things can be made better, that good can win out over evil, and that understanding can overcome hatred. From words, hopeful or hateful, unifying or divisive, action is born.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Think, Don’t Feel

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“Today is a very sad day. The commandant of the United States Marine Corps says when your life hangs on the line, you don’t want anything distracting.” Words spoken by John McCain, in response to the repeal of the US Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward homosexuals.

I’m sad to say I once respected John McCain.

He continued, “There will be high-fives over all the liberal bastions of America.” And from there, he ranted as though all the most recent polls suggested the American people were opposed to a repeal (they weren’t), or that the studies into the effects of a repeal brought back bad news (they didn’t).

McCain’s opposition is based on the idea that some soldiers will have problems with known homosexuals in their ranks. And some of them will, no question about it. Mostly, I imagine, the same ones that have problems with women in their ranks, or think there’s no problem feeling them up every now and again, no matter their protests.

It is this type of soldier that sort of thinking wants to protect. The bigoted, the hateful, the intolerant. I choose to believe those soldiers aren’t nearly as prevalent in our fighting forces as McCain and his ilk would like us to believe. And if they are, I don’t want to hear our armed forces referred to as “the best and the brightest” ever again, because slaves to any form of bigotry are not the best and brightest anything.

During the Bush years, Democrats were branded as not only opposed to our military, but it was suggested they might actually hate our fighting men and women. Of course, I don’t believe that. But McCain’s statements, and all those who agree with him, show that a wing of the Republican party certainly thinks very little of the moral worth of those same soldiers, and puts the lie to any claim of their own personal morality.

To suggest a man must keep his true self a secret in order to have the privilege to die for his country is to spit in the face of everything our country has accomplished, including its birth.

This nation was originally populated by men and women that didn’t want to hide their religious beliefs in the face of an intolerant ruler. America was born of people that could not pretend they were something they were not. We fought a war to earn that right, and again we fought so that men of any color would forever be men all the same. Women fought their own battle to be considered equals, and while the fronts of sex and race still have their struggles, we’ve come a long way. But, both battles had to begin on a shaky first step.

This is that shaky step for yet another front in a war that must be won, a war of equality for everyone, no matter their race, their sex, their sexual orientation, or their religious beliefs.

Agents of intolerance (a term McCain used for the likes of Falwell and his ilk, before running for president and pandering to them) would have us believe a soldier’s ability to fight will somehow be compromised by his inherent bigotry toward his own brother-in-arms, as if a man can’t trust another man in the heat of battle because he’ll suddenly be worried about whether or not that man is checking out his ass. Or what? That there will be distractions during non-combat times? And who will those distractions come from? From the homosexual who just wants to be comfortable being himself? Or from an intolerant soldier who wants to bring some sort of harm to him?

We don’t ban women from wearing alluring clothes to protect the despicable rapists that might not be able to control themselves. We don’t ban black men and women from white, southern neighborhoods to spare the few racists there the sight of their skin. We don’t ban people from opening stores because it might tempt a thief. Why then, in this case, should we legislate based on the possible actions of the lowest common denominator?

The answer is simple: because the Republican party has resisted every first step toward progress for minorities of every make and model. It’s built into them, the need to protect the intolerant from the ones they hate, rather than the other way around.

Homosexuals are one of the the last bastions of mostly acceptable hatred. Bigots that don’t want to be tabbed bigots aren’t allowed to openly hate women or blacks anymore, but gays have been mostly alright to hate. They can talk about the legalization of gay marriage leading to the destruction of heterosexual marriage with absolutely no evidence of such, and say it would lead to people marrying animals and children, and somehow they don’t become completely marginalized when they say these things. Jerry Falwell can blame the events of 9-11 on gays, among others, and be invited to the White House to council then-President Bush. That is an open acceptance of hate-speech, courtesy of the most powerful Republican in the world at the time.

A person doesn’t have to wrap an arm around his neighbor and sing “We Are the World”, doesn’t have to like any other person at all, doesn’t even have to expunge from their mind all their ridiculous prejudices. But, a person is absolutely never justified to bring pain, be it from actions or words, into the life of another whose only crime is to be true to themselves.

But on this issue, an issue that holds human beings to a higher moral standard, something the conservative movement claims to be in favor of, a man like John McCain mindlessly regurgitates the usual rhetoric about liberals, and deigns to protect those with closed minds and fists. Instead of striving to eliminate open acts of intolerance, John McCain and those opposed to repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, would rather protect those stuck in the past from being brought into the future. Well done.

 

Words from men who didn’t live in the past, but dreamed of a brighter future:

Written by oobiedoo

December 28, 2010 at 1:19 am

Terror in the Best Laid Plan

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There is no war that cannot be won, no victory too far out of reach. When you have the power to change the world in a single stroke, that must be your mindset. Nothing is too hard to try, no distance is too far to travel, for the causes that must be championed. But your tactics must be correct, and they must be just.

In today’s war on terror, fought this way, there is no victory.

A war against an ideology, no matter how twisted that ideology may be, cannot be won through strength of arms. The casualties suffered in the civil rights movement, a war against blind hate, were not those of the antagonists, but of the oppressed. Victory was achieved through devotion to the belief that the greater humanity in people would shine through the seemingly impenetrable walls of hate, and dedication to the words of our forefathers that all men were created equal and granted certain inalienable rights, no matter the color of their skin or the hatred in their hearts.

Our enemies in this war must be shown the world’s humanity, as well as their own. So too must the people of this nation, and those in charge of this war, understand the humanity of our enemies. The media, following the example of our governments, would paint everyone that involves themselves with al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations as monsters. This is simply inconceivable to the rational mind.

What you have are several charismatic, opportunistic people, who understand well the plight of their neighbors, and how to exploit it. They tell a father of three children, who struggles to put food on his family’s table, that the industrialized nations of the western world have co-opted his suffering, that they profit while his family goes without. They tell an impressionable son that his father was executed, his mother raped, not by the corrupt regime that rules his country, but by the wealthy nations who turn a blind eye while paying the assassins for oil.

There are monsters among our enemies, but they are few.

Nonetheless, our policy has been to treat those who oppose us as mindless creations of hate put on this world to make us suffer, and that they must die by our hand for it. But what is the result of that policy other than death and dismay? What but vengeance do we achieve through killing a man who has had the greatest fears of his heart turned against his mind by evil words?

We will never kill all the people that would inspire or be inspired by hate and fear. But, as we try to do just that, as we try to make the impossible a reality through our own hate and fear, we breed more enemies.

The pain of death is not for the dead; it is the living that suffer on. It is the loved ones of those we kill that we invite to be our enemy. It is the man whose son, the subject of all the pride he can muster in a world that looms over him, has been killed, that we make a target for evil words. It is the boy who, even if he doesn’t truly understand it, sees the hopelessness of his situation, contrasted with the celebrations of martyrdom for those we kill, that will see a purpose in evil deeds.

It is any of those people that will be inspired to continue the cycle of hate when they have lost someone that made them laugh in hard times, someone they could confide in when they were most in need of a sympathetic ear, someone whose tears they have shared when the world seemed to be caving in around them, someone they knew was not evil, even if that loved one had been led astray. It is for these people, who without the pain of loss to weigh so heavily on their hearts would never be swayed by cunning words, that we must change the very foundation of this war.

We cannot kill them all, and for the sake of our own humanity, we must not try. To win this war, we must drive to the very heart of how hate is bred. To put out a fire, you cannot simply blow away the smoke; you must put out the flames at its base.

This is our burden to bear. Though it feels right, even to me, to want the people that have hurt us to pay the ultimate price, the nature of our burden forbids us from engaging in a war that has been fought much more conventionally than we would like to admit. This is our burden because of our strength, which has led us to victory for our independence, held our union together in times of great division, and stayed the hand of an evil tyrant bent on world domination. This is our burden because of our prosperity, even in these uncertain times that test our resolve. This is our burden because of what the United States stands for.

Our country stands for some of the greatest ideals the world has ever known. Freedom from tyranny. An opportunity for every man and woman to better their own lives. The belief that every man, woman, and child on this earth deserves the right to live their life to the fullest without the interference of their government on their personal lives. These are the goals of a free society. These are our goals, and we have made them a reality for ourselves, as has much of the western world.

But this freedom is not available to those who would do us harm. They are held down by their governments, made to be weak and subservient. The ruling class, made wealthy by the world’s need for oil, uses that wealth not to build a stable infrastructure for their people, not to ensure that their nations will be strong and their people fulfilled, not to offer even the lowest among them the chance at achieving their greatest desires, but to line their own pockets. They buy yachts and build lavish palaces, while their people suffer in poverty.

To these people, Allah is their only ally, and the western world that props up these dictators is their greatest enemy. And the evil manipulators among know this well.

We say they hate us for our freedom, and in that we are right, but for the wrong reasons. They hate us not because we are free, but because they are not, and we will not help them. To win this war, we must share our freedom with those on the other side. We must end our dependence on foreign oil and develop affordable alternative fuels, so that we can have an ounce of leverage against the corrupt regimes that would use our money for their own pleasure, and not the betterment of their people. For the sake of granting freedom to every child of God, we must change our lifestyle from the selfish approach that asks, “How can this be done easiest, cheapest?” to “How can this be done best?”

To win the war on terror, we must remove terror from the hearts of those who are susceptible to attacks on their soul. We must grant them the freedom that every human being so desperately requires. We must show them that there is compassion in this world, even if their own governments will not. We must believe that the human soul is more powerful than hate, and more powerful than any bullet or any bomb could ever be.

This is our burden to bear.

Written by oobiedoo

December 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Cable Wars I – The Foxxening

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One of my biggest pet peeves in the world today is cable news. The perpetual-news-cycle-as-profit model is one that lends itself to blowing stories completely out of proportion just to have something to talk about. No juicy story means no reason for people to watch. If nobody’s watching, there’s no reason for advertiser’s to shell out money for commercial time. If there’s no advertising money there’s no profit. And, finally, if there’s no profit, there’s no good reason to keep running a 24-hour news network.

So, essentially, cable news networks have to spend more of their time doing everything they can to carve out an audience than they do informing their viewers. CNN made cable news big shit during the first Gulf War, when everyone was watching smart bombs fall down a chimney. Several years later, Fox News blew away the competition and showed everyone else the sort of profits that could be made in the cable news business.

And pretty much everything has suffered since then.

So I’m going to start a three-part (not necessarily consecutive) piece, taking a look at the three main cable news networks: Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.

We’ll start with the big boys over at Fox. I’d say it’s because they’re the biggest, but it’s mostly because they’re the nuttiest and I can’t imagine how people take them seriously.

It's okay. They can take a punch.

The Players:

We’re just going to focus on a few big names over there, because if I were to write about all of them I’d need an entire book. Names like Neil Cavuto, John Gibson, Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Michelle Malkin won’t be making the list. Neither, sadly, will Rupert Murdoch (again, deserving of an entire book in his own right). If you’re curious about any of them, or others at Fox, a little research goes a long way.

Now, onto the festivities. (A little note, first: All of the examples of lies, bias, or just plain weirdness I show here are only -some- of those that exist. Each subject could probably have a book written about them too, and some already do.)

Sean Hannity

This guy LOVES America.

Sean Hannity is a patriot, and if you don’t have the same vision of America that he does, than you’re fucking not. Sean is your prototypical ultra-conservative. He’s never taken a stand that wasn’t one-hundred percent right, and if you ever disagreed with him, you were one-hundred percent commie. Or Nazi. Or maybe you were just high at the time, or were born with fewer brain cells than the enlightened. Point being, if you weren’t on his side, you were on the wrong side of history, my friend.

Of course, Sean’s vision of America tends to blur the facts every now and again. But, hey… that’s the price for loving one’s country, right?

He likes to question people in such a way that they either have to agree that his totally skewed characteristic of their view is right, or disagree and damn whatever larger political figure Sean is linking them to with his analysis. I think he gets off on preparing for interviews, actually, and you can see that in his frustration when one doesn’t go the way he wants it to.

But, hey. Hannity cares about the lesser folks, too. He’s heavily involved with a charity called “Freedom Alliance”, so that’s a pretty swell thing, huh? Problem is, it gets a pretty mediocre rating from Charity Navigator, and awful ratings from other charity rating systems. It’s not crooked, just bad at getting money to people that need it.

He also lies about things. A lot. It’s kind of a problem. I’d say he’s working on it, but he mostly just does it more and more as he keeps getting away with it.

Glenn Beck

This is the face of Truth.

Where do you really start with this guy? Well, first I think it’s important to note that he worked for CNN before Fox, so he’s a real veteran of the cable wars. And being one of the very few high-profile fence-jumpers seems to have done strange things to Glenn’s psyche.

See, Glenn just wants people to know when someone’s out to get them. Or him. Or maybe someone’s out to get themselves. It all gets pretty tangled up when you listen to Glenn talk. Anyway, if you don’t believe me, you’re probably just a Nazi.

Or a Communist.

Or a racist.

The point is, Glenn knows these things. And he’s scared! Or angry! Or… I don’t know, fake crying! The point is, he wants you to be those things too. And if you’re not, then dammit! You’re a part of the problem! Don’t you understand? This is exactly what happened when Paul Revere tried to warn the people of this country that the British were coming, and nobody listened! Nobody! And if they had, this country would be much b-…

Oh, they did listen? Oh, right. Shit, nevermind. He’s just crazy.

Bill O’Reilly

Did you say... looooofaaaah?


Bill gets credit for being the non-idealogue of the Fox heavyweights
. There are a lot of people that like to defend him as a guy that just says what he believes instead of going along with the Republican line, as a lot of Fox does. And that much I think is probably true. However, he’s still really bad at passing information along to people, and has no problem making things up to support his point of view (which still -generally- leans to the far right).

Bill likes to shout, and he likes to be right. So, it’s not at all unusual, when a guest is pointing out ways Bill is not right, for him to start shouting them down. If those un-American bastards should continue to try to exercise their Communist-given right of free speech over his loud braying, he’s liable to cut their microphone off like any true patriot would, and then spend the next several years lying about what they very clearly said on television.

Bill’s also big on taking really big stands, and then arbitrarily declaring victory every now and again. For instance, he once called for a boycott of France. Yeah, the whole country. And later claimed that his boycott cost them “billions of dollars” according to the “Paris Business Review”, a publication that, strangely enough, doesn’t exist. Who knew? Also, the “billions of dollars” they lost actually looked strangely like a small gain in exports to the States.

Also, he’s really all that stands between the world and the vile forces that hope to bring darkness upon it. He’s a Culture Warrior, folks, and he wants you to know that. He’s going to protect the sanctity of Christmas, by making damn sure the retailers banking on the commercial end of the holiday are saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”. Take that Jesus-haters! Why you guys gotta be all jealous and shit?

Here’s a little more on Bill.

The Analysts

Ann Coulter

Haters gonna hate.

Ann is the author of books with the following titles: “Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right”, “Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism”, “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)”, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism”, “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans”, “Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America”.

If you couldn’t gather it from those really terribly vague titles, Ann is not a fan of liberals. Also, the titles of the first two books make very clear that she has a non-existent sense of irony.

So, Ann is basically a smear-merchant. The way she makes her living is by selling books to closed-minded, bigoted people who hate those with progressive ideologies, and just want to read about someone else hating them too. And those titles make very clear that she understands that perfectly, and is absolutely alright with making her living by helping to breed hate.

Fun fact: Ann Coulter once suggestively called John Edwards a “faggot” at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and that’s barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fun things she’s said. However, to the best of my knowledge, she has never taken part in any felonious activities with rogue nations.

Oliver North

... on the other hand.

If the name Oliver North sounds familiar to you, than you either know exactly who he is, or you’re older than I am and it just sort of rings a bell. If you don’t already know who he is, allow me the pleasure.

See, Ollie made a nice little name for himself in the late 80‘s as a colonel in the Marine Corps. Good stuff for Fox, right? Military officers -definitely- lend credibility.

Except there’s a little snag with this one. Turns out, Ollie was involved in selling a whole lot of weapons to Iran, who we weren’t supposed to be selling weapons to at the time. But industrious Ollie didn’t stop there; selling weapons to one rogue nation wasn’t enough.

See, then Ollie came up with a new part of this plan: he gave that money from Iran to rebel groups in Nicaragua. Granted, these groups were fighting against a communist regime, and it’s not a big secret that then-president Reagan was sympathetic toward these groups, but there’s yet another problem for Ollie. As it happened, there was a little legislative amendment that prohibited the US from helping these groups overthrow their government.

Whoops.

North was convicted of three felonies in the investigation, but the convictions were dropped as part of the pre-trial immunity he was granted, since the investigators were mostly trying to tie the whole thing to Reagan.

So, we’ve got a confirmed war criminal and someone that makes their living off hate-speech. Nice. All we’re missing now is someone with a debilitating perversion, and we’ll be all set.

Dick Morris

Ask and ye shall receive.

Dick Morris (which sets us right up for the perv jokes) was a political adviser to President Clinton. Now he spends most of his appearances on Fox deriding Bill and, even moreso, Hillary Clinton. Pretty big jump in ideology. Of course, whenever the likes of O’Reilly and Hannity have him on to bash the Clintons for no particular reason, they like to introduce him as “a former Clinton adviser”.

What they don’t introduce him as is “the former Clinton adviser who got fired because he let a prostitute listen in on conversations with the president, read drafts of speeches for the president and vice president, and also paid her to let him lick her feet”. But that would be a little more accurate.

Now Fox pays him to go on television and regularly bash the Clintons, even when they aren’t particularly newsworthy. They really know how to pick ‘em.

In closing, wow. That’s it. Just wow. There are no words to sum this up.
Examples of Fox News Bias (From an admitted liberal… and kinda boring guy, who doesn’t really seem to understand what “But I want to know what you think” means, since he always asks loaded questions after saying so. BUT! He’s usually on the ball.)

“Rally to Restore Sanity” Effect

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So, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their rally to restore sanity on Saturday. There, Colbert continued to play the laughable foil to Stewart’s plea for reasonableness. By most estimates, over two-hundred thousand people attended, with thousands more turning away when they realized they couldn’t see or hear anything because of the size of the crowd.

The message throughout seemed to be pretty clear: that we need to act less out of fear and more out of reason, as well as work together as reasonable human beings who disagree with each other, rather than resorting to pointless name-calling and shouting down views we don’t agree with. Standard stuff, and absolutely impossible to argue against, no matter your politics.

Unless your politics are influenced by the paycheck you make from distorting politics.

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann tweeted, “It wasn’t a big shark but Jon Stewart jumped one just now with the “everybody on cable is the same” naiveté”. He followed it up with a couple of tweets that said, essentially, we can’t be reasonable because if we are then the loony right takes over with their looniness. Which is exactly the sort of attitude the rally was designed to contest. Olbermann, apparently, didn’t get the memo.

That not at all overblown slogan shows Keith is -clearly- above the fray.

So, it’s a good thing we have Fox News around to counter that sort of negativity designed for the sole purpose of dividing us, right?

Turns out, much to my surprise, not so much. Here are a few links to the story that was run Saturday by every major news outlet.

MSNBC
Yahoo
Fox News

You’ll note  (if you actually read them, otherwise you’re just taking my word for it) that the first two links are just identical copies of the AP report of the event. The Fox report borrows heavily from the AP report, and adds a whole lot of left-wing conspiracy to the mix. Here are some phrases unique to the Fox version of the report:

~

“Just three days before pivotal midterm elections, comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert threw a “sanity” rally in the shadow of the Capitol that organizers insisted wasn’t about politics.”

“Some of the signs on display mocked Republicans who are expected to take control of the House Tuesday if not the Senate.”

“The event sought in part to be a counterpoint to the “Restoring Honor” rally in August by Glenn Beck, the Fox News commentator popular among conservatives and tea party supporters. Beck’s rally, which had strong religious overtones, drew some protests from civil rights supporters.”

~

And while the AP reported that most of the performers had links to Democratic causes, it also pointed out that none of them made any such statements during the rally. The Fox report only mentioned the connections, and left it up to their readers to decide if those performers were trying to sway voters.

But, that was just the work of a writer nobody’s ever heard of, right? So we shouldn’t really pay any attention to that, since I’m sure virtually no one read any of those reports any way. So, how about a Fox show actually talking about it. Cue the always reasonable crowd over at Fox & Friends:

*sigh* Okay, so… Gretchen Carlson thinks it’s unfortunate that two comedians are considered news people, and then either pretends to not know the name of the rally’s title and Colbert’s name, or displays a staggering ignorance of current events, since anyone this side of Jupiter has been inundated with news about both over the past few weeks and months. Yes, very unfortunate, Gretchen. Great news work. She also made a point of saying, “… he looks fancy in his nice suit, like he actually is a real news person,” with a snide chuckle. Which begs the question of what a comedian hosting a rally is supposed to look like.

Gretchen makes for a convincing human being in that fleshy meatsack.

Steve Doocy also made a point of saying that Stewart “tried to stir up the crowd… to vote.” Stewart never said anything at the rally about voting, and when asked at a post-rally press conference if he thought people should vote, he skirted the question and said only, “I think people should do what moves them, and that’s not my place to make that choice for them.” So bullshit, Steve. Thanks for playing the distortion game with us today, we’ll get you some lovely parting gifts.

So the immediate reaction from the media types was to get defensive to cover their own asses, or to discredit and distort what actually happened, perfectly living up to the very media-critical montages Colbert played for the crowd. But what about the politicians? Maybe they’ll be a little bit more reasonable in the days leading up to the election?

Democrats link Republican Candidates to Palin

Yeah, or I guess not.

The Democrats are trying to make Sarah Palin a big part of many senate races and local congressional races. Because, apparently a vote for any Republican is a vote for Palin. Is that the message? Or is it that Sarah Palin is so bad, that if she stands next to a candidate, her awfulness must surely rub off on them? I’m not really following the logic here, but its purpose is very clear. A lot of people don’t like Palin, so if the Dems can make an emotional connection in the minds of voters between the Republican they might be voting for and Palin, they are less likely to vote Republican.

But the Democrats certainly aren’t alone in this silly endeavor. My favorite quote from the above story comes from Nachama Soloveichik, someone with no sense of irony, and a communications director for Congressional candidate Pat Toomy, a Republican out of Pennsylvania. Said Soloveichik: “I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s Sestak trying to run away from his own record of voting with Nancy Pelosi nearly 100 percent of the time.”

So, the message from Republicans is clear: Democrats’ efforts to tie Republican candidates’ image to Sarah Palin is absolutely absurd. And was probably all Nancy Pelosi’s idea. You don’t like Nancy Pelosi, do you America? Then why would you vote for these people that are just like her!

Female leaders: They'll polarize the SHIT out of your politics.

And then I start to cry a little.

But, wait. There’s one more bastion of hope. Maybe the people of this country, the ones who Stewart and Colbert were really reaching out to, maybe they took the message of the Rally to Restore Sanity to heart.

And then I read the comment section of that very same story, and see such wonderfully classless insult-trading going on, such wonderful efforts to toe the party line without the slightest bit of thought from both sides, and racist slurs for Obama, sexist ones for Palin and Pelosi, and I think to myself…

Yeah, that.

So, what is the result of the Rally to Restore Sanity? Well, it was pretty funny for the most part, so there’s that. And otherwise? Well, nothing really. People don’t like the idea of civility nearly as much as being right. The people that were most drawn to this event were people that didn’t need to be told our world of politics wasn’t civil, or that the twenty-four hour news blows things out of proportion. The people that did need to be told that didn’t much care, as they are wont to do.

It’s a shame that the most touching, apolitical rally put on in this age had to come from two comedians (even if they did look fancy in their nice suits), but it’s an even bigger shame that its message will go largely unheralded.

http://videos.mediaite.com/embed/player/?layout=&playlist_cid=&media_type=video&content=J11QB43FGV0CJ8TV&read_more=1&widget_type_cid=svp

Written by oobiedoo

November 2, 2010 at 12:31 am