Tag Archives: Politics

Why advocacy ‘journalism’ has done nothing but hurt

Like most expressways to the netherworld, the road to populist political hell began with the best of intentions. Everyone is expected to take part in the electoral process, so everyone feels they have a right to know what’s going on. They do. Unfortunately, politics is by nature a complicated beast. There’s a lot of legal Latin involved and the nuances frequently go over the heads of even the politicians and analysts who studied politics for years, so it was no surprise that Joe Schmo in Regular Americaville missed about half of it. The demand for politics explained simply for ‘the common man’ (hate that phrase) was high.

Enter the radio talk show. At first, the political analysts used proper legal terminology and the listener was expected to keep up. If they couldn’t…too bad, go get a copy of de Tocquville you illiterate idiot. See? Perceived bias. Inferred even if not implied, it seemed political commentary favored the ‘intellectual elite.’ Clearly, a response was needed. A commentator able to interpret the goings-on in our system so that everyone felt involved in the political process. And so advocacy journalism was born, although it was not given that moniker initially. Radio hosts with politics explained simply so that everyone could understand.

Unfortunately, because breaking politics down into simple language requires interpretation, perceptions and opinions were conveyed with those interpretations. The bias became more pronounced, and it had a very one side of the aisle feel. Clearly, a response was needed.

And so with each iteration, we have gotten further and further away from reasoned political commentary. The loudest voices get the biggest share, and the way to keep it is by lionizing ‘the other side.’ All the while not even noticing that ‘the other side’ is just more of us, people we see on the street every day, in the office, at home. Us & them, ad infinitum. No longer people, just two dimensional representations of ‘everything that’s wrong with this country.’

Thus, we arrive at a place in which a coworker can passionately and unequivocally state his intense hatred of a man he has never met and has held office for (at the time of the pronouncement) less than a year.

How do we pull back? I don’t know, but pull back we must while there is still a feeling by most that we are all us, while the fringe that perceives a ‘them’ is still a minority. But it is a growing minority, and we need to take heed and correct the situation soon.

Sarah Palin & Fox News: Who didn’t see this coming?

In a move that should shock absolutely no one, Fox News has signed Sarah Palin as an ‘occasional commentator.’ Palin joins former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former White House aide Karl Rove, giving Fox the trifecta for malicious fearmongering and blatant misinformation.

Any previous laughable attempt to call the network ‘fair and balanced’ pretty much meets its death with this deal. Asking Sarah Palin to provide creditable political commentary is like asking Slobodan Milosevic for an objective opinion on Albanian citizenship.

The Sad, Strange Case of Akmal Shaikh

In about 6 hours, a man is going to be put to death in China. His name is Akmal Shaikh. He’s not a hero. He wasn’t jailed for civil unrest or condemned for speaking out against China’s humanitarian transgressions. He is, quite simply, a British national whose mind has betrayed him and led him through a fantasy life as people are sometimes led through a fun house hall of mirrors.

Shaikh left his wife and children for a life on the streets in Poland trying to become alternately an airline magnate and a pop star. He criss crossed the country, sometimes staying in homeless shelters writing hundreds of emails to Tony Blair, Paul McCartney and George W Bush. In his madness, he met a man named ‘Carlos’ who promised to help him become famous. At some point in 2007, while convinced he was on his way to meet music executives, he boarded a plane with a suitcase carrying £250,000.00 worth of heroin from Tajikistan into China. This was seized by customs officials. Shaikh insisted he knew nothing of the drugs, that his friend, due on the next plane, would help explain everything. The friend never showed.

Though mental illness is usually taken into account for severe crimes, the Chinese government takes a very dim view toward drug trafficking. Shaikh was sentenced to death. The British Foreign Office was not even informed of his sentencing until late in 2008, and Shaikh himself was not told of his sentence until 24 hours prior to the scheduled execution.

And so the tale of this very ill man will come to an abrupt end far from his children and family in a little less than six hours. His family, ill from anxiety from the coming execution, can do nothing. Appeals have been put through at the highest level. All that can be done is to wait.

My own governor as recently as 5 years ago denied clemency to a mentally ill inmate for a crime far more heinous (IMO) than drug trafficking. Where do we draw the line? Shaikh, for his deluded fantasies, seems a harmless character. My support for the death penalty waivers when faced with such cases.

Stop it with the Nazi thing already.

No, really. Everything is NOT comparable to the attempted annihilation of an entire race and the ensuing World War that followed. Enough already. The offenderati are out in droves, and they can’t stop dragging out the cross (or swastika, as the case may be) and climbing up onto it. Everyone is being attacked by Nazis. The attackers are all on a par with Hitler.

Let me clue you in, kids. Unless you and your families are being forced to wear gold stars to identify you as an inferior being, then forced at gun point onto trains to internment camps where you will be starved and (eventually) killed in the most grisly manner possible?….you are not being attacked by Nazis. No. No, you’re not. And it is just incredibly arrogant and ignorant all at the same time of you to pretend that’s what’s happening here.

Penn and Teller jabbing the Catholic Church for half an hour does not make them Nazis, no matter what Bill Donohue may want to think.

Barack Obama? NOT Adolph Hitler incarnate just because he wants everyone in the entire country to be healthy.

Getting your little kid in on the act is not heart tugging, by the way. It’s sick and stupid. The kid doesn’t even know what a Nazi is, and you’re loading him up with a swastika protest sign. Way to go. Enjoy the therapy bills.

Enough, people! Stop with the Nazi/Hitler crap already. We get it. You don’t like that you lost the election. It sucks. You hate it. Trust me, I’ve been there all too many times. And yes, it was just as wrong when people inaccurately compared Bush to Hitler. That doesn’t mean you should do it. I feel like I’m addressing a bunch of 6th graders. “If Rush jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge would you?”

We get that you’re angry. But you’re hurting your country in the process of throwing these little temper tantrums. Because really, that’s what they are. Tantrums. Enough. Time to be reasonable. Time to recognize that you are not the sole moral voice or even necessarily the correct moral voice of the country. The voice of the right has for so long been that of incoherence and anger, it now knows no other way to express itself. And that’s too bad, because incoherence and anger are not the guiding forces that should be running the country. Ignorance and self serving machismo brought us to the point of collapse.

Time to grow up, people. Not getting your way does not make those you oppose Nazis. It doesn’t even make them wrong.

Not a Christian Nation Redux

My governor is an idiot. I’ve known this for a while now, but today he was kind enough to cement that opinion with his latest idiocy. According to Gov. Good Hair, the state should stay out of the church, but the church definitely belongs in the state:

The notion that laws should not be informed by religion is an extreme one, Gov. Rick Perry said Sunday in remarks at a San Antonio church, where he challenged the faithful to “speak up to defend those whose rights are being eroded by an increasingly secular culture.”

Maybe someone can explain this to me. The people who wrote the Constitution weren’t extremists as far as I can tell, but the Treaty of Tripoli (1797) quite clearly states:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Islamic] nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

In this passage, Adams is quite clearly addressing the Muslim nations as an envoy from a secular nation. There is no interpretation here. The man who wrote the majority of the Constitution of the United States viewed this country as having a secular government, not a Christian one. Others who worked on the document took a similar stance. We may have a majority Christian population, but that does not imply a Christian government.

Don’t let that stop you in your plunge to stupidity, though, Rick. Keep going.

Perry said it was important to understand the biblical roots of the conflicts in the Middle East.

“I fully believe that the situation there illustrates God’s powerful love for the nation of Israel and his desire for it to endure until the end of time. And it’s your passionate support, it’s your passionate support of Israel and your embrace of your Jewish roots — our Jewish roots — that make for an even deeper experience of the fullness of God’s love.”

Holy flaming morons, batman! The Governor of Texas thinks Christians are evolved Jews. The staggering arrogance of the man is unbelievable. Get this, Gov. You do not have Jewish roots. And your insistence that Christianity is evolved Judaism is insulting, both to Christians and to Jews. Jews do not, have not ever, and will not ever believe in a Trinity. They just won’t. Those who are Messianic don’t believe that the Messiah will be the son of Yahweh! Do you not get that? Also, you are totally misinterpreting the phrase “God’s chosen people.” From an email from a rabbi of my acquaintance:

But…”God’s Chosen People” only means that we’re chosen to follow the laws and commandments. It doesn’t mean that we’re first in line for the really nice condos with the views of the Elysian Fields in the afterlife or anything. Do they not get that?

Being “God’s Chosen People” isn’t a privilege*, it’s a duty.

*Ok, it kind of  is

No rabbi, sadly some people just do not get that. Apparently Christians feel it’s their duty to protect the Jews because a friend of the Jews is a friend of God, and if you take care of the Jews you get into heaven. Or something. Sort of like going clubbing. If you go with a hot girl, you get in and maybe get hit on by the wingman. So Christians are now equating themselves with the unattractive chubby hanger on. Just sad.

Sarah Palin to Resign

I must admit, I’m stunned. Without any true reasoning behind the move, Sarah Palin announced today that she will be resigning as governor of the state of Alaska in a few weeks and hand the reins of state government over to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell on July 25th.

Speculation is sure to be rampant; all Mrs. Palin would say is that she feels she can “affect change from outside government.” I’m sure we’ll hear what that means after July 25th.

Personal thoughts? There is no way this woman would have been able to finish out her first term without another major scandal and any hopes she may have once had to become POTUS were dashed by finding out just what the job entailed. She has given us an entertaining year…with likely more to come…but any presidential hopes she may have been harboring are pure fantasy. This woman cannot lead.

The Senator from Minnesota.

Ladies and gentlemen….Mr. Al Franken.

As of 8 minutes ago, Senator Coleman (finally) stepped forward and conceded. The Dems now have their iron-clad 60 seats in the Senate. Of course, that’s with the qualifier that Sen. Joe Lieberman actually remembers he’s promised to vote with his former party. This seems highly unlikely, given he can’t seem to disengage his lips from John McCain’s backside.