Jan 142011

The story dominating American conversation this week is the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. In shock, after a mentally troubled assassin named Jared Lee Loughner shoots a round from his 9mm Glock through the brain of beloved Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and then turns his weapon on the crowd and kills 6 bystanders while wounding 13 others — America mourns.

Giffords is alive today and fighting for her life, the extent of the damage caused by her wound still unknown. There are positive signs, and we can all be thankful for that. But there are 6 people who will never breathe another breath, amongst them a federal judge and a 9 year old girl named Christina Taylor Green.

President Obama, speaking at the memorial services held at the University of Arizona, attempted to call all Americans to a higher principle. He asked us to imagine our democracy through the eyes of a child, to recall the hope and awe it inspired in our own childhoods, to behold it as did Christina Green. The President spoke to the soul of America and shared his vision, “I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.”

These were moving moments in the shadow of a national tragedy. The President was truly presidential, and for the most part, was recognized as such by pundits of all political persuasions. Even relentless Obama antagonist, Glenn Beck was moved by the speech, saying that “This is probably the best speech he has ever given, and with all sincerity, thank you Mr. President, for becoming the president of the United States of America last night.” But as well received as the President’s solemn call was, the reception was far from all positive.

Fox News contributor, Michelle Malkin, who live-blogged the memorial, called it a “bizarre pep rally.” Steve Doocy, of Fox and Friends, said the event “seemed like a political rally.” Both complained about the “Together We Thrive” branding that was labeled by the Red State blog as “the Marxist message behind the memorial.”

Many were the conservative voices who found fault with the President’s speech or were quick to cast him as a “political opportunist,” proving to some degree that it really doesn’t matter what the man does. But the pond scum moment from the right has to be Rush Limbaugh’s criticism of the President for suggesting that American “society is not all together what it should be” and that we have any “duty to live up to” the “dreams and expectations” of a “nine year old little girl who was snuffed out.”

Perhaps Limbaugh and others are to be forgiven for spinning this tragedy for their own gain while accusing the President of doing the same, because that is the way the game is played in 21st Century America. But the unanimity on the right in denying any potential influence born of the vitriolic rancor that pervades our political discourse is beyond comprehension.

The fact is that Sarah Palin published a map that had gun-sight crosshairs targeted at Gabrielle Giffords. The half-term Alaskan governor who’s famous for saying “Don’t Retreat: Reload,” the woman who announced the map as the “first salvo,” now wants us to believe the symbols were surveyor’ sights. Now, isn’t that just a bit suspicious?

Palin is a key voice in the divisive fear-mongering that plagues our nation. From her “death panel” rhetoric to her narcissistic response to the Tucson tragedy, she has proven repeatedly that she’s a one trick pony with a wafer-thin comprehension of anything beyond the art of whipping up emotions. For Palin or any of her fright-wing allies to deny any culpability whatsoever in events born of the atmosphere of hate and mistrust bred by their self-serving rain of incendiary lies and distortions is patently absurd. It’s akin to shouting fire in a crowded assembly and accepting no responsibility for the toll of the ensuing stampede.

The truth of the matter is that there are consequences of our actions — all of our actions. You can’t shout fire and insulate yourself from the results, neither can you label the opposition as the “enemy,” replete of any redeeming quality and expect to incite anything but hatred. When people like Rush Limbaugh cast all liberals as evil, when the Sharron Angles of our country speak of Second Amendment remedies, when even a clarion call from President Obama for unity in the face of tragedy is labeled “socialist,” a line has been crossed. When people are cast in the same light as the most despicable of villains, charged with “government takeovers” that threaten to bring about Armageddon, when they are washed in hate and labeled with every epithet of the worst of humankind — there are consequences.

Our nation has lost its ability to deal with issues in an intelligent manner because of the polarization brought about by rhetoric so heated that the eventual outcome was guaranteed. The question has long been when, not if, violence would occur. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time, as evidenced by Gabrielle Giffords’ prediction of her own tragic shooting when Palin’s target map first appeared.

Nobody has accused Sarah Palin of causing the shooting in Tucson, and no responsible person would do so. Responsibility for that crime lies with a deranged murderer who sits in an Arizona jail. But Palin, Limbaugh, Bachmann, Beck and all the other voices of division, fear and hatred are responsible for creating an environment where such tragedies are much more likely to occur. There’s really no legitimate debate on the topic. The only real question is will they continue, and if they do, when will the next calamity strike.

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Nov 272010
Image via Wikipedia

Well, here I am again posting about being censored at Huffington Post. To say that I’m frustrated would be a serious understatement. As always, when my posts are blocked, I review the text of my comment in search of anything objectionable, make edits and repost. But this occurrence is a bit different.

First, it’s different because this particular story seems to be getting much more stringent review by the censors. When I posted, there were over a hundred comments awaiting approval. Even as I write the post, two days after the story was first published on HuffPost, there are 34 comments in the queue.

The other distinction regarding my presently censored comment is that I’m unable to even guess at what the censor’s objection may be. I would attempt to edit my post, as I’ve done many times in the past, but in this case I cannot for the life of me determine where to start.

The topic of the article is a Rush Limbaugh broadcast where he ridiculed President Obama for his Thanksgiving Day proclamation. This was a popular topic with over 3,300 comments at present. The Limbaugh story covers the conservative talk-radio host’s slamming of the President for, amongst other things, presenting American Indians in a favorable light. In the style of ridiculous hyperbole typical of Limbaugh, he characterizes the true story of Thanksgiving as one of “socialism failed.” He goes on to assert that “Only when we turned capitalists did we have plenty.” Completely devoid of ethics, Limbaugh even uses the occasion to blame Native Americans for the millions who have dies from ling cancer, because it was all “thanks to the Indian-invented custom of smoking tobacco.”

I attempted to post a comment that would bring Limbaugh’s attempt at poisoning the national conversation into the light of a larger context. Personally, I find Limbaugh to be the most objectionable of the fright-wing hate-mongers, and I feel that people need to become aware of the dynamics at play. The following is the full text of the post in which I attempted to bring this into focus:

Rush Limbaugh is symptomatic of a social disease that’s crippling our nation. People are hurting and want people to blame. Unfortunately, that condition provides fertile ground for the unscrupulous.

“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesman for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

Sound like anyone you know?

The quote is actually from FDR’s Vice President, Henry Wallace — in 1944. He was talking about the rising tide of fascism in the America.

Fascism was defined in the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary as: “a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

Sound anything like today’s post Citizens United right-wing?

Wallace also had this to say about Limbaugh: “With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money and more power . . .”

Limbaugh, Beck and the gang at Fox, McConnell, Boehner, Bachmann, Palin — they’re all poisoners of public information who are eating our nation away like a cancer.

Again, I ask for your critique and honest feedback. Is this comment disrespectful? Is it inappropriate? Does it warrant being censored?

And on the general issue of censorship at Huffington Post: is it appropriate for Huffington to censor without feedback as to cause, to leave people to just wonder why they been blocked? Is there some way to get Huffington to listen to their audience and develop objective rules that are consistently applied?

And of course, if you have any thoughts on the substance of the debate . . .


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Nov 162010

Olbermann took on veteran TV newsman Ted Koppel on Monday, saying he and other journalists failed the country during the Iraq War because they were too worried about being objective.

Koppel had criticized the rise of opinionated cable news programming in an essay titled, “Olbermann, O’Reilly and the death of real news,” published Sunday in the Washington Post. Koppel, the former ABC “Nightline” host, said Fox and MSNBC show the world not as it is, but as partisans would like it to be.

David Bauder, AP

Cropped headshot of Keith Olbermann
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Ted Koppel is a pandering fool. He’s correct in asserting that journalists should strive for objectivity, but when such action results in willful acquiescence of known falsehood and deceit, the “journalist” becomes complicit in the wrongdoing. Keith Olbermann and his fellow hosts at MSNBC did not create their shows in a vacuum for the purpose of sensationalism; they were born of the need to balance the unmitigated rubbish that Fox packages as “news” and to refute the unrelenting stream of falsehood that spews from the Fox commentators.

To equate these two agencies and conclude their equivalence is beyond irresponsible. It’s true that both present one-sided commentary that is often exaggerated for effect, but the similarities end there. The premise that this commonality results in equivalence is utterly fallacious — the same reasoning would conclude that because they both used tanks, bombers and battleships, the Allies and the Axis were equivalent.

The fact of the matter is that MSNBC is not equivalent to Fox but rather its antithesis. They are the polar opposite, not only in terms of political position, but more importantly on the continuum of morality. Fox is a propaganda machine with little regard for the truth and a dedication to furthering the cause of corporate power and plutocracy. MSNBC is a countervailing voice with a commitment to the facts and a devotion to the ideals upon which our nation was founded — those silly notions of equality, general welfare, and unity.

Thank God (and Keith) for MSNBC!

Read the entire Article at Huffington Post

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