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The American Media-Bought and paid for?

Monday, April 7th, 2008

There was a time in our history when America’s so-called mainstream media kept us informed on important issues and events. We have to look no farther than the recent past, to give them a few well-deserved kudos. I refer specifically to the Pentagon Papers and Nixon’s Waterloo that came to be known as Watergate. Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers was a global as well as national turning point in the Vietnam War. The investigative work of the Washington Post journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward began the unraveling of Nixon’s White House. Both events transpired in the early 1970’s and ended with President Nixon’s resignation from office on August 9, 1974. Both of these watershed moments in our history could not have happened in this decade, I would bet my last devalued dollar on that.

Sunday morning, as I perused my emails, I focused on Salon’s Glen Greenwald’s piece entitled; The US establishment media in a nutshell. Glen has his panties in a wad about how little our MSM gives us on the Iraq War and how much baloney it does manage to slop we the hogs, with. With a simple NEXUS inquiry based on a 30 day news cycle, Mr. Greenwald provides us with the following big ticket items:

“Yoo and torture” - 102

“Mukasey and 9/11″ — 73

“Yoo and Fourth Amendment” — 16

“Obama and bowling” — 1,043

“Obama and Wright” — More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

“Obama and patriotism” - 1,607

“Clinton and Lewinsky” — 1,079

Now, I am sure you notice right off that the most written about subjects are the worthless and totally inane Presidential campaign fluff bs. Topics which do not have a tinkers damn thing to do with the programs and ideas that either of the Democratic nominees for that office are espousing.


South Dakota: Save The Fetus - Flog The Mommy?

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Abortion opponents are an interesting lot. For years, they have argued that all abortion is wrong as it involves the taking of a life. An inability to sway the public to embrace laws that would ban all abortions seems to be leading pro-lifers to adopt an incremental approach. South Dakota appears to be the battleground of choice.

In 2006, the residents of South Dakota rejected a ballot initiative that would have banned virtually all abortions except for those necessary to save the life of the mother. The measure was soundly rejected by 56 percent of South Dakota voters.

A new initiative appears to be headed for inclusion on the 2008 ballot in November. However, this new measure provides exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the health of a woman.

When the 2006 initiative was drafted, many felt anti-abortion advocates were attempting to craft a law that would eventually reach the newly constituted…and presumably more conservative…U.S. Supreme Court.

Abortion opponents in South Dakota filed petitions this week that are likely to put an initiative on November’s ballot calling for a near-ban on abortion, renewing a contentious fight over a similar proposal in 2006.

The new language was drafted by South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long, state Rep. Roger W. Hunt (R) and 20 other lawyers. As with the 2006 initiative, passage would probably trigger a lawsuit that could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court and provide an opportunity to reconsider its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

“My job is to protect the women of South Dakota,” said Leslee Unruh, executive director. If abortion rights advocates “follow what they’ve done in the past, suing, they’ll probably sue on this one, as well. We’re prepared for that; we’ve done due diligence in the preparation for this law.”

The sponsors said their polls show that a majority of South Dakotans support the initiative with the exceptions.

A woman would have to report rape or incest to police before seeking an abortion to qualify for that exception. “A woman who is the victim of incest and is 13, being raped by her father, is highly unlikely to report that,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

Opponents also said the definition of a health risk to the woman is too narrow because the language implies a doctor would have to be certain the woman’s health was threatened and excludes mental and emotional issues as health exceptions.

While I understand the arguments against abortion, I can’t help but find fault with intentional efforts to promote vague and misleading ballot measures. In their zeal to protect the unborn, their actions often punish those who have been born. For example, previous studies indicate that many women never report being raped and the same is often true for cases of incest.

Requiring these women to file a police report in order to abort a fetus that results from such heinous acts seems insensitive, if not unconscionable. It could also place children at risk should they report an incestuous assault that didn’t result in some form of protective custody or jail time for the perpetrator. Never mind that the incest victim might be in danger…by God we must protect that fetus.

What troubles me most is that these activists are frequently the same people who throw out terms like ‘the nanny state’ or rail against laws that would close loopholes that allow criminals to obtain handguns. Unfortunately, many of them believe the definition of freedom is relative or open to selective interpretation.

If I follow their tortured logic, a daughter who is raped by her father should find it easier to obtain a gun to shoot her dad than to consult in confidence with a physician about her options to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Similarly, the strategy suggests that a rapist should find it easier to have a weapon to commit his crime than for his victim to abort the resulting pregnancy.

Why not just require victims of unwanted pregnancies to face two trials…one involving the prosecution of the perpetrator…and one to present their case for terminating the pregnancy. Let’s take it a step further. Let’s require that the second trial be conducted by the victims church complete with a jury of fellow parishioners and the pastor as the presiding judge. That way they can apply God’s law and Biblical interpretation to the situation.

As to dealing with the health exception, that could be more complicated. Maybe we could revive some of the methods utilized to identify witches. Perhaps if the pregnant woman can swim across the nearest river (during the spring runoff, of course), she is healthy enough to have the baby. If she doesn’t make it (and drowns), she would have been entitled to abort the child. Yes, that sounds reasonable.

Look, I’m all for protecting the innocent. I simply think it ought to include the ones who have already been birthed…and not just the ones who believe their second amendment rights are sacred. In the meantime, I’m still watching and waiting for that pro-life gun show protest…the one where they read from the Bible and hold up ghastly pictures of murdered people.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Now where have I heard THAT before?

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Hillary is in to the end. I guess I’ve decided a grain of salt is in order. I mean, what else can she say? I’m in it for awhile? I’m in it until I’m broke? I’m in it until we go on vacation?

Besides, we’ve all heard this kind of thin before. From the Daily Irrelevant:

Yesterday: Clinton Vows To Stay in Race To Convention

Feb 5: Romney Vows to Stay in GOP Race (dropped out on Feb 7)

Feb 4: Huckabee vows to stay in race (dropped out on March 4)

Jan 24: Giuliani Vows to Stay in the Race (dropped out on Jan 30)

Jan 6: Edwards vows to stay in race to convention (dropped out on Jan 30)

So, I’ve decided that unless I see Hillary doing something really outrageous, like eating her own, I’m giving her a pass. I don’t mind if she’s in it to win, since that’s a flexible concept. Just ask Giuliani.

Hat Tip to Electoral

U.S. Politics: Time To Reject Religious Litmus Tests?

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

The notion of a litmus test has long been associated with politics. Strangely, when asked if they employ such a methodology, the vast majority of politicians vehemently deny that they would bring any such bias to their position as a public servant.

On the other hand, voters tend to display their litmus standards as a badge of honor and a measure of conviction. We’ve all heard the proclamations…”I won’t vote for a pro-choice candidate”…”I can’t endorse a candidate that supports gay marriage”…and so on. Rationally speaking, the fact that politicians and voters approach the notion of litmus tests so differently defies logic and makes little sense.

Other contradictions abound…but I would like to focus on the litmus test that I believe has done more to paralyze our objectivity and to polarize our political process than any in recent memory. It’s the litmus test of religion…which includes the requirement by many voters that elected officials embrace religion or faith and act in accordance with a specific set of beliefs…as well as the acceptance that politicians need to be coy about their litmus standards to maintain a broader appeal in order to be elected.

Over time, the litmus test mentality continues to evolve to include ever more specific measurements. It isn’t enough for a candidate to espouse a religious affiliation…one’s particular affiliation and one’s adherence to the prescribed values is now a matter of review and it may serve to nullify one’s consideration as a viable candidate for some portion of the electorate. Case in point…Mitt Romney’s Mormonism.

Gathering for their April meeting at the county courthouse, Republican activists from Warren County, Iowa, planned for this summer’s county fair and vented about illegal immigration.

And then the county chairman for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, Chad Workman, made an unexpected digression: He took direct aim at Mitt Romney’s religion, according to four people at the meeting.

Workman questioned whether Mormons were Christians, discussed an article alleging that the Mormon Church helps fund Hamas, and likened the Mormons’ treatment of women to the Taliban’s, said participants, who requested anonymity to discuss the meeting freely.

One participant summed up Workman’s argument this way: “The fundamental flaw of Mitt Romney…was that he was Mormon, not because he thinks this way or that way on one issue.”

The most recent example came to light earlier this week when the Washington Post reported that Emma Nemecek, an Iowa field operative for Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, had recently forwarded an e-mail to Iowa Republicans containing a number of criticisms of Mormonism, including a charge that it is not a Christian faith. The e-mail closed with a quote from a Founding Father, John Jay: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

The campaign of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was forced to make a similar apology this month after The New York Sun reported that Katie Harbath, Giuliani’s deputy e-campaign director, had forwarded to a blogger a story in The Salt Lake Tribune linking Romney to an unofficial Mormon prophecy that a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would one day save the Constitution. “Thought you’d find this interesting,” Harbath wrote to the blogger, the Sun reported.

Romney has faced repeated slights against his religion from other quarters as well. A Florida televangelist, Bill Keller, told followers recently that a vote for Romney is a vote for Satan. And a small group of worshipers from the Faith Christian Outreach Church in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, has been going door-to-door distributing a DVD that takes a critical look at the Mormon Church.

“Our concern was simply that Mormonism has continued to try and pass itself off as a Christian religion, which it is not,” said Monte Knudsen, senior pastor at the church, who insisted the effort was not aimed at hurting Romney’s candidacy.

“In some ways, [Romney’s candidacy] is the best test of whether Americans have really put some of the old religious differences aside,” said Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. “And my guess is that they haven’t.”

Its worth noting that each time a campaign operative has called a candidates religion into question, the candidate who employs that operative has issued an apology as well as a statement that the personal faith of their opponent should not be an issue. The obvious question is whether these attacks…which are frequently described as lapses in judgment…are actually part of a strategy to manipulate the well known bias that exists within the electorate? While we’ve all heard the expression “accidents happen”, my suspicious nature doubts that, when it comes to politics, they happen all that often.

Look, the bottom line is that Romney served as Governor of the state of Massachusetts…and he seems to have conducted himself in an acceptable manner (my personal political preferences aside). I’m just not sure what threat he poses to his fellow Americans…and if he does in fact pose a threat as a direct result of his faith, what is that threat? If he isn’t a threat, what does the belief that a threat exists tell us about this country?

Let me attempt to answer my own questions. I don’t believe Romney’s faith presents anymore of a threat than Rudi Giuliani’s failure to adhere to the precepts of his faith (his divorces are presumably breeches of Catholicism). The threat comes from those who believe that one faith ought to trump all others, that seek to impose their particular faith upon others, and that believe they are imbued with the god given mandate to pursue both.

I would argue that it is incumbent upon politicians to be neutral with regards to the application of any one particular faith. A glance at the sectarian violence in Iraq ought to suffice to demonstrate what happens when religious groups are determined to make their particular beliefs the law of the land. There are numerous other examples.

To a lesser degree, our current president is an example of the dangers and risks associated with a narrow ideology and a belief that a particular belief set ought to be institutionalized. At some point, adamant proponents of differing ideologies determine that the state is illegitimate and that subverting or overthrowing the state is consistent with one’s religious tenets…and in the extreme…that doing so is the justifiable will of god.

What remains to be seen is whether we can step back from this dangerous trend and revisit the guidance of our founding fathers…guidance that sought to prevent the victimization of different faiths while establishing a government that would be tolerant of diverse beliefs but guided by a bill of rights that remained ideologically impartial…though institutionally equitable.

Far too many Americans endorse the misconception that the United States is a nation guided by a specific vision of Biblical law…and that our constitution and our legal system must adhere to one interpretation of that law. On the contrary, America was founded to avoid the pitfalls of that very notion. In fact, our existence emanates from a rejection of that very construct.

We are a nation that sought to judge its inhabitants by their commitment to fair and equitable treatment…by their willingness to allow alternate beliefs so long as they would adhere to the notion that each of us is entitled to humane treatment.

Goodness is not measured by affiliation…goodness is an individual action; not an act of admonition by one individual or one group towards another. Goodness is a choice that is mindful of the sanctity of humanity…even when that humanity may hold beliefs that do not comport with our own. Goodness is not the domain of one faith…it is not unique to one set of beliefs.

A religious litmus test is not a test of goodness…it is a demand for compliance…it is a rejection of difference…but once applied it is also an egregious application of bias…it is a judgment we are not entitled to make…and when we do make that judgment, we ridicule those who sought to rid us of such bias; wise men that century’s prior had the foresight to understand the risks that come with demands for ideological compliance.

Isn’t it time that voters and politicians recommit themselves to an honest dialogue, an acceptance of differences, and an awareness and willingness to see beyond them in order to move forward? If not, where and when will the inevitable and torturous machinations cease?

As We See It: Pardon Me Edition

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Pardon Me!

I Beg Your Pardon, I never Promised You a White House Rose Garden


Of Course Contractor Fraud in Iraq is Limited, Nudge…Nudge…Wink…Wink

Bad Breath

Bloomberg Can’t Stand The Smell, Bolts Republican Party

Iraq Sinking

Mission Accomplished: Iraq Sinking Fast

See other fine hypertext products at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Tech Tags: humor politics libby hallibrurton bloomberg iraq omnipotent+poobah


A Tough Job Someone Has to Do

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

We’ve kicked off another needlessly prolonged Presidential campaign season with a series of gimmicky, pointless debates. With a candidate field of somewhere between a dozen and 16 million, many Americans are wondering - if America has roughly 350 million people why are these lunkheads the best candidates we can field?

Pundits no longer hold forth on who won and who didn’t because it doesn’t matter. All of the candidates come off as over-polished morons with the scruples of weasels. Their answers to empty-headed softball questions are fit for nothing other than the gag reels shown nightly on the Daily Show. It’s clear that hyperactive PR machines have finally honed their dubious craft to the point where candidates now have all the appeal - and apparently the intelligence - of a box of Tide detergent.

But, at least Tide has the virtue of cleaning your clothes.

The lack of marginally credible candidates has ushered in a voting rate lower than a rigged contest in a war-torn Third World dictatorship. In view of the razor-thin margins in 2000 and 2004, voting promotion groups remind people that “every vote counts more than ever”. However, it’s not the quantity of votes that count, it’s the quality of the candidates and the intelligence of the votes that do.

We’ve devolved into Hobson’s Choice elections where Pat Paulson is as good a choice as any of the top “real” contenders - and he’s dead. Make no mistake. Had Al Gore or John Kerry won, their own brands of ineptitude and dubious achievement would have been small only in comparison to the truly world-class, stunning incompetence of the mellonhead who won. Winning is not the same thing as being qualified. In fact, sometimes winning isn’t even the same thing as winning.

On the rare occasions when voters admit to voting, non-voters laugh at them as uneducated rubes who don’t understand the futility of suffrage. And when their measly vote is stacked alongside a mound of corporate cash, they’re not entirely wrong. In our current system, wealth makes right and the meek (and disenfranchised) will inherit the Earth only when the sun begins to rise in the west. It’s no wonder cynicism abounds.

Do qualified candidates exist? In a theoretical sense - not unlike the theory that life exists on other planets - there do. How do we find them, an Earthbound SETI-style search perhaps? Once found, how do we encourage them to run? If they run, how can we be assured they won’t morph into the same indecisive and conniving con-men so popular already?

The political scene is rife with imponderables like these and I certainly don’t know how to fix things. The only thing I can think of is to do what I do now. Pick a poopbag, hold my nose, and cast my vote into the ether to be stolen by someone who can afford private access to voting records and has the technical expertise to change enough votes to put his own crapweasel over the top.

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

[tag]politics, campaign, elections, omnipotent+poobah, bring+it+on[/tag]

As We See It: Plame’s Revenge Edition

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007
Mobster Big Eddie Eagle Finally Fingers the Big Dick
Mitt Offers His Famous Money Back Guarantee
Tom Delay: The Tackhammer O’ God
As the Investigations Built, Turd Blossom Found Himself Getting Skeered
The Federal Penitentiary, Where the Elites Meet

See other fine hypertext products at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

[tag]politics, humor, omnipotent+poobah, bring+it+on[/tag]

Senator’s Who Want To Be President But Couldn’t Be Bothered To Read Pre-War Intelligence Report on Iraq

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Before voting to give President Bush the authority to send thousands of US troops into harms way and eventual death in Iraq, elected officials in Congress had an opportunity to read a 90 page National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq. And yet, according to this report, barely any of them did so- including most of the front-running presidential contenders. Instead, they relied on “briefings” or at best, just voted along with the crowd without giving much forethought to what it was they were actually giving the president carte blanche to do.

And these people want us to elect them president? No fricking way! Clinton, Edwards, Dodd, and McCain all admit they did not read the report before voting to authorize the use of force in Iraq. Biden says he did read the report, but still voted for the AUMF.

I for one have no intention of rewarding slipshod politicians with another vote. They serve to protect the American Constitution, country and people, and you don’t do that by attending non-stop fundraisers and ignoring your obligation to be informed before you vote on matters of national (and in this case international) importance. These people are complete and total farces and have no sense of stewardship at all.

Even if significant portions of that NIE have subsequently been proven to be false or embellished, these Senators and the majority of Congresspersons who also did not read the report, had a duty to examine the documents before voting for war and they did not. Any of those elected officials still in office, and especially those seeking election to the highest office in the land, should be drummed out of office soundly at the first opportunity.

I’ve had enough of the politics. I want leadership.

[tag]Pre-war+Iraq+NIE, Clinton, Edwards, McCain, Dodd, Biden, presidential+election+2008, politics, political+stewardship[/tag]

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment On The Govts. Iraq Betrayal

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Well it was bound to happen. Just over six months after the American voter sent politicians what appeared to be a clear message about the direction of the country…and particularly their displeasure with the war in Iraq…the criticism of the Democrats (in addition to the Republicans) has made its formal debut in the form of a signature “Special Comment” by the always ebullient and opinionated Keith Olbermann.

Whether the emerging criticism and anger spells trouble for the Democrats in 2008 is yet to be seen…but thinking ahead to the next election, voters may find themselves sending the same message…though wholly uncertain whether they can expect either party to demonstrate enough leadership to bite the bullet and resolve the Iraq situation once and for all.

The growing anticipation of change that characterized the post election period may transform into an extended and continuing period of agonizing indecision and hesitation on the part of politicians in both parties as they jockey for advantage. 2008 may be a watershed election…but that may mean nothing more than an “in your face” realization that the need for power has poisoned the well of public service to such an extent that the lives of honorable Americans and vulnerable Iraqis have become expendable pawns in a never ending game of pedantic power plays.

I’m not prone to predictions…but in this instance…if the above comes to pass, rest assured that the deafening drone that will emerge will be the sound of the collective awareness and awakening of an American voter tsunami hell bent on tearing up the template of our two party system and starting over. I could be wrong…but I doubt it.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

More Political Cowardice From The Senate

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Leadership comes in many forms, but one place it apparently doesn’t spend too much time is in the minds of elected Senators. Just before yesterdays capitulation by the Senate Democrats regarding the Iraq funding bill, the Senate voted on whether to bring a “comprehensive immigration bill” to the main floor for discussion and an eventual vote. Called a Cloture Motion, the measure passed 69-23, with 8 not voting on the matter.

Setting aside the entire immigration debate for a moment, it’s interesting to note who were the Senators who decided not to even cast a vote on whether to bring this topic up for full discussion. One of the non-voters gets a pass- Senator Johnson from South Dakota is still recovering from a medical condition and hasn’t actually been to the Capitol since his election. But what about the other seven?

Six of the seven were Democrats. Five of the seven are current presidential candidates. The non-voters were:

Senator Biden- (D-DE)- presidential candidate
Senator Clinton (D-NY)-presidential candidate
Senator Dodd (D-CT)-presidential candidate
Senator Johnson (D-SD)- hospitalized
Senator Kerry (D-MA)- former presidential candidate
Senator McCain (R-AZ)- presidential candidate
Senator Nelson (D-FL)
Senator Obama (D-IL)-presidential candidate

These are the people who want to lead America and they can’t even take a position on whether to have a debate on immigration? Are they so afraid of losing potential votes that they won’t even cast a vote on whether or not to debate an issue? This is not leadership folks- it’s political cowardice and immobility created by the pretense to be all things to all people while being nothing to anyone.

I’m a progressive and more liberal than not. But I’m not a registered Democrat. I am unaffiliated by choice. And with each action like this, I embrace my independence ever more. Too bad I’m finding fewer and fewer people in the political arena I can actually look to with respect.

[tag]immigration+debate, Senate+votes, politics, democrats, presidential+candidates[/tag]