Category: Non-troversies

Things that are pissing me off:

1 ) Joe Lieberman
2 ) The right wing’s disingenuousness and prideful ignorance. Beck is only the tip of the stupid iceberg
3 ) 30 Democrats voted against prescription drug reimportation recently that would have resulted in cheaper medicines for Americans.
4 ) Banking lobbyists are launching a campaign to crush financial reform, probably with our tax dollars
5 ) The wall-to-wall media coverage of Tiger Woods’ affairs, at the expense of any other serious story on the planet
6 ) Bernanke is Time Mag’s Person of the Year
7 ) Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill gets support from the US evangelical movement and conservative politicians
8 ) Insurance industry recission means if you miss a payment, your policy can be cancelled
9 ) That the media actually takes the US Chamber of Commerce seriously after stunts like this, rather than lumping them together with the LaRouchites and Tea Baggers
10 ) Bigots who, for all intents and purposes, should be too moronic to breathe without external assistance

Pres. Obama’s address to schoolkids

I’m mortified that the school district where I grew up has opted not to show the President’s speech (transcript). So I wrote an angry letter to the Superintendent and our local paper:

Dr. Theron J. Schutte,

As a graduate of BHS, a student School Board representative (’85), and News Editor of the Growl (’86), I was shocked to hear that the Bettendorf Community School District would not be showing the President’s speech during class time.

It is deeply embarrassing to me that BCSD would buy into the idea that somehow President Obama’s speech is controversial. The outcry is rooted solely in right-wing paranoia and the ravings of TV pundits/lunatics. BCSD, by limiting Obama’s address, gives credence to outlandish partisan fears that the speech will “indoctrinate” our youth. This would be comically laughable, except that it shows what little faith the district has in Bettendorf’s students, teachers, and the quality of education that you provide.

Regardless of what the actual content of the President’s speech is, it provides teachers with a rare opportunity to engage students in a lesson in civics. Did BCSD refuse to show former President Bush’s address to school children in 1991?

In my opinion, restricting ANY Presidential address seems anathema to providing a quality education. If the District is kowtowing to “concerned” parents with regressive (read: racist) political views, then you have stewarded BCSD onto a slippery slope. Will the District in the future stop teaching that the world is round based on parental pressure? Will you move the District away from teaching about evolution? Is future BCSD curricula to be decided by mob rule?

BCSD, like any school district, is charged with educating students by encouraging the free exchange of ideas and information. If you and the rest of the District’s decision makers are unable to stand up to base political pressure from a vocal and cynical minority, then I would strongly encourage you to consider retirement.

Superintendent Schutte emailed me this reply today:

A couple things played into my decision to leave the viewing and/or use of the President’s message up to the discretion of the Buildings and/or teachers. One was that for some reason, we received very late notice, in comparison to other schools, that this event was taking place. The first we heard of it was this Thursday though other Districts received email notification 3-4 weeks ago. I did not feel it was appropriate to direct a mandatory viewing and have each building and/or classroom adjust their schedules, on such short notice, for this purpose. I felt comfortable with that position, given the nature of the presentation, that it could be used at any time, especially in the near future, and would have its desired impact. I also felt that with one message geared to Kindegarten thru College Prep students that it may be deemed more appropriate to use certain portions of the message with particular age groups and/or classes vs. showing the whole message. I appreciate your input.

Angry Mob Inc.

This angry mob brought to you by the GOP, Conservatives for Patients Rights and health insurance lobbyists. Any similarity to an actual grassroots movement is purely coincidental. Agitate only as directed. May cause high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, boils, angry face, loss of democracy and numbness of the brain. If outrage lasts more than four hours, contact your representative immediately and ask for a public option.

Update: If you try calling the RNC number listed in the ad, the automated voice asks you to press “1″ if you’re calling about the Town Halls. According to Americablog and the Huffington Post, this will lead to your being disconnected, as apparently, the RNC doesn’t want to hear from anyone upset at their thuggishness. Instead, press “2″ and give ‘em hell.

Twits on the Right: Responses and Conclusions

Being new to Twitter, I recently decided to spend a few days following some of the right wing tweets, primarily those with the hash tags #gop and #tcot (top conservatives on twitter). As an unapologetic liberal, I thought it might be easier to stomach right wing commentary if it came in snippets of 140 characters or less.

After a week of following conservatives, conspiracy theorists and wingnuts on Twitter, I’ve gotten fed up (and a bit bored) at some of the more obvious bits of misinformation and venom I’ve encountered. So I decided to have a little fun with some of the repetitive and mindless posts to keep myself entertained:

RockwithBeck tweeted: “I remember, no too many years back, everyone said the Democratic Party was doomed. The GOP is getting stronger day by day.“* I changed it slightly to read: “I remember everyone said the Dem Party was doomed. Now they say the GOP is getting stronger day by day.” then re-tweeted.  Made more sense to me.

Another bit of scaremongering had to do with an upcoming Islamic conference being held in Chicago. IndyEnigma tweeted: “WHAT IN THE HELL? Islamic Supremacist Group Holds First U.S. Conference“*.

I changed the published link in this tweet to one discussing Pat Buchanan’s ties to a white supremacist movement, then sent it back out. For this, IndyEnigma has now become a follower of Rev. Hugh’s. None of this would be possible were it not for inattention mixed with technology like tinyurl.com that shortens lengthy URLs (thereby masking their origins).

A week ago, there was a dust-up between Sen. Barbara Boxer and a witness from the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Harry Alford. For days after the confrontation, Alford (rightly or wrongly) became something of a right wing media cause célèbre, and the video of their exchange has been promoted repeatedly as “evidence” of Democratic racism.

To be perfectly clear, I have no problem with people taking offense with Boxer on this, but I do find it ironic that a) most of the highly indignant tweets on this story are being spread by – judging by the photos – caucasians and that b) these are the same people who are also attacking President Obama with such vitrol and racial animus. So I re-tweeted MarissaGordon‘s message “Don’t let Boxer slide on her racism! No American should be treated like this!“* and added this URL, in which the Southern Poverty Law Center discusses some of the uglier racial attacks against Obama.

To me, it seems that the right wing are scrutinizing every one of Obama’s comments, looking for a way to score political points. Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) recently said as much – that half of the criticism of the health care bill is politically motivated. I personally think the number seems a bit low.

Consider the President’s recent press conference, where he commented briefly on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge. Less than twenty-four hours later, right wing twits are shrieking indignantly, characterizing his mild comments as “anti-Police bigotry on the left”.

“Gates spewing racial hatred at a police officer got him arrested. Obama throwing the race card at it was despicable”* I have no doubt that if the ethnicities of the two groups were reversed, the wingnut reaction would be drastically different.

In defense of Twitter, political tweets can be an effective way of spreading stories or ideas via attached URLs. Tweets can also be, depending on the poster, mindlessly absurd and hopelessly uninformed. (Reminding me of the old saying about someone who knows just enough to make them dangerous).

For example, wingers are shocked, indignantly posting a waterfall of tweets about Obama saying that he wasn’t familiar with a passage in the House healthcare bill (still in committee). Twits hold this up as proof that the President is frighteningly out of touch or that the legislative process is spiraling out of control.

However, why should the President read every rough draft of the House’s thousand-page bill before it’s finalized? It is hardly a damning statement by Obama, an admission that he will never read it, or an acknowledgement that he plans to sign the health care bill into law without knowing what the substance of the it is – unless you’re a paranoid wingnut fearful of encroaching socialism.

One twit, who describes himself as a “Conservative. Capitalist. Always learning, thinking, innovating” was just today asserting that “it should be an eye-opener that China has a better handle on our economy and its well-being than our own president and congress”*. When I asked him to substantiate his tweet, he responded “Even the communists know we need capitalism” and that “even China understands what the ramifications of this socialist agenda will mean for America if it continues.”*

I tried repeatedly to get him to cite even one source that supported his assertions, but he wouldn’t engage on substance. His final tweet was “Unfortunately you don’t have the capacity to absorb and understand all that is happening. I hope you enjoy your “hope & change.”"*

The last refuge of this breed of conservative twit seems to be that their arguments are just sooo advanced that poor liberals simply don’t have the capacity to understand.

Fed a constant diet of right wing spin from FOX, talk radio and conservative websites with no balance or counterpoint, I can’t say I’m surprised. The mingling of spin and half-truths has made the American conservative movement proudly ignorant and intellectually lazy.

Twits on the Right: Day 3 – The Birthers

Being new to Twitter, I recently decided to spend a few days following some of the right wing tweets, primarily those with the hash tags #gop and #tcot (top conservatives on twitter). As an unapologetic liberal, I thought it might be easier to stomach right wing commentary if it came in snippets of 140 characters or less.

A recent tweet to Sarah Palin, presumably from a legal expert: “Applaud and love your family. But if we joined, we could challenge Obama eligibility and incarcerate him. Then you r VP“*

In conservative fantasyland, the line of Presidential succession apparently runs from President to his losing political rival, skipping over the Vice President, Speaker of the House, etc. And if you lie about your place of birth, it means you immediately go to jail (where you are no doubt waterboarded).

The conspiracy to enable Barack Obama to become President is incredibly vast and far reaching. It must have begun the day Obama was born, in 1961, and involved doctors at the hospital as well as Hawaiian newspapers, the state government, Obama’s aunt and a major international airline and their staff.

Why can’t Obama satisfy/answer people on his eligibility?? That would solve all curiousity. Is there something to hide?“* Short of holding Obama’s placenta, I don’t think anything will satisfy the most rabid conspiracy theorists…

BOMBSHELL: Obama’s Eligibility to Serve as President in Question & Before the Supreme Court“* Link provided to Fox News blog created by navymom, which says “Along with the evidence that he was first born in Kenya and there is no record of him ever applying for US citizenship“. Of course, that could be due to his already being a US citizen, but then, that would be too easy an explanation.

Obama’s parents were apparently so sure that their child would one day win the presidency that they secreted their infant son from Kenya (where birthers claim Obama was really born) to the United States and working with the hospital staff, newspaper editors, etc, falsified his birth certificate and birth announcement. The airlines also would have had to suppress any record that Obama and his parents flew from Kenya to the US that year.

It doesn’t matter that a number of different organizations and websites (Fact Check, Politico, Snopes) have disproven all of the birthers’ and their lawyers‘ assertions. The birther rumor mill has become a self-perpetuating cottage industry, and any crackpot (and I’m being kind), white supremacist or Lou Dobbs willing to offer “evidence” in exchange for publicity is welcomed. Witness:

On Twitter, questions about Obama’s place of birth are the crazy glue holding together a number of false assertions, bad assumptions and anxious rumors which, together, form a wingnut alternative reality.

It is Tinkerbell’s pixie dust, giving conservatives hope that Obama will eventually be impeached and his policies repudiated, if they only believe hard enough.

* Actual tweet

Next: Spinning Themselves Dizzy

Fall TV Season rumors

An unnamed source in La-La Land emailed me recently about upcoming TV shows greenlighted for the fall ’08 season. No word on which networks picked these up. Spoiler: it’s heavy on reality programs.

Win My Ovaries! – A fun new show where sterile couples compete for the chance to impregnate a surrogate mom before a live studio audience.

Celebrity Nose Pickers – A fun new show where TMZ camera crews follow the hottest stars around and get footage of them picking their noses! Gross!

Fair! and! Balanced! News! with hosts Karl Rove, Jeff Gannon and Matt Drudge – A serious new show where conservative white guys tell you what they think you should think about the news.

World’s Greatest Nosebleeds – A fun new show hosted by Geraldo Rivera where actual viewers send in their footage of nosebleeds, and win prizes!

Stripper Mom Makeovers – A fun new show where stripper moms get tips from pimps on how to up their game! Special appearance by Snoop Dogg.

Celebrity Nanny 911 with Dina Lohan, Kathy Hilton and Lynne Spears – A fun new reality show where celebrity moms show parents in crisis how to deal with their children with love, discipline and Christian parenting.

I Want to Be a Reality TV Star! – A fun new show where average people compete for the chance to be a contestant on a reality TV show!

Columbot – A fun new drama where a quirky robot juggles his job as a private detective and a demanding software update daemon at home.

Servant Swap or Trade My Maid (TBD) – A fun new show where average families exchange domestic help for a week while our hidden cameras film the hilarious results!

I Was a Teenage Werewolf – Starring Zac Effron, this fresh new drama follows high school varsity football captain Ruff Woolverton as he comes to terms with dating, making friends and finding victims at Springdale High.

Mom v. Dad – A fun new game show where children pit their parents against one another in a series of challenges to see who will ultimately win their love.

Oh Canada! – A fun new show where an American family moves to our neighbor to the north and experiences their zany customs and culture!

Who Wants to Eat Dinner? – A fun new reality show where actual hungry people compete for the chance to eat for the first time in days. In front of a live studio audience. Fun!

The Media’s ‘Appeasement’ Red Herring

MediaMatters does a great job of documenting media bias and deception, and their post on the ‘appeasement’ non-troversy is no exception.

It seems that while Bush was huffin’ and puffin’ about Obama being an appeaser, his own defense secretary, Robert Gates was pitching woo to Iran, saying the US should “sit down and talk” with their leaders.

The meat, however, is in how the mainstream media chose to cover Bush’s attack on Obama, and Gates’ comments as reported by the Washington Post.

MediaMatters tells us the MSM, with an almost Borg-like uniformity, chose to play up Bush’s comments while ignoring that Gates said anything at all. CNN went so far as to edit out a comment made by Obama’s communications director, Robert Gibbs:

Obviously this is an unprecedented political attack on foreign soil. It’s quite frankly sad and astonishing that the president of the United States would politicize the 60th anniversary of Israel with a false political attack. I assume he also is going to come home and fire his secretary of defense who was quoted in The Washington Post just yesterday saying we need to figure — quote, “We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage and then sit down and talk with them.” Them being Iran. Look, we have come to expect, and we’ve seen from this administration over the last eight years this type of cowboy diplomacy. Again, we’ve come to expect it. But over the past eight years it’s made this country far less safe than we were.

If the Bush Administration has been putting the slightest pressure on the MSM to not report Gates’ comments – highly inconvenient at best – doesn’t that make the media the real appeasers?

I also have some reservations about the prevailing Bush/Cheney diplomatic philosophy, which seems to entail picking a fight with the whole freaking planet while acting all crazy and shit.

I guess that’s where the new GOP slogan comes into play.