Archive for November, 2009
Given the increased prominence and influence of partisan outfits like MSNBC and FOX News, increased job cutbacks and failed newspapers around the nation, increased information on the Internet, and given a decreased presence of good journalism, many have noted the obvious, and inevitable decline of journalism in recent years.
Michael Gerson, with The Washington Post, is the latest, who in his Nov. 27 column, “Journalism’s Slow, Sad Death,” outlines this decline, describing the old newspaper fronts displayed at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., as looking more like a mausoleum than an archive of living history. And he’s right. Journalism, or more accurately, newspapering, is almost a forgotten craft at this point in our history. But while he calls it a “slow, sad death,” I call it a return to form.
In the dictionary, one can find two definitions for “journalism,” one that includes the stipulation that the news gathering and presentation of information be given without interpretation or analysis, and one that simply says it’s about news gathering. Thus, magazines, tabloid publications and standard broadsheet newspapers “do” journalism, but it’s the broadsheet sort that Gerson is referencing, though he never really makes the distinction.
Of course, those who are actually in the newspaper business know what he means when he says “journalism.” We mean the kind of news gathering that attempts to leave commentary or interpretation out of straight news stories, opinion being relegated to the editorial page. But without that distinction, most people in the body politic can’t even distinguish, or don’t know how to, between the kind of journalism done by People Magazine and that of the L.A. Times or the St. Petersburg Times. Celebrities can’t even distinguish. Often, like in this Tiger Woods fiasco, movie or sports stars will refer to “the media” as a blanket term for everything from the trash tabloid publications to The New York Times. As the L.A. Times reported about Woods:
In a Q&A on his website last month, a fan asked Woods why she rarely saw photos of the couple in the gossip magazines. Woods replied that they have “avoided a lot of media (italics mine) attention because we’re kind of boring,” and he described a home life that included watching rented videos and playing video games with friends.
Many people don’t see the distinction, and that’s one point in which journalism as we know it might be going the way of the dodo. Thanks to the tabloids, Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann and others, true objective journalism is simply being drowned out and stamped down in preference to opinion and innuendo (Admittedly, there is no such thing as “objective” journalism as an ideal. Journalists are not robots, but humans. We interpret news and make decisions on a daily basis about what is important to include in news stories and what is not. That skill set largely distinguishes our product from claptrap put out daily by People, the National Inquirer and others.)
All that said, Gerson’s “slow, sad death” is a return to form because his “journalistic tradition of nonpartisan objectivity” is a fairly new phenomenon beginning at some point in the early 20th century. Prior to that, especially in the yellow journalism era and in the mid-19th century right around the Civil War, newspapers and other publications were merely talking heads for political parties. They took a public stance, one way or the other, for slavery or against, for the Barnburners or against, for the Copperheads or not. So, if print newspapers followed the trend of television news, they will more increasingly become partisan, like FOX News and MSNBC.
I, of course, would hate to see this happen and hope that newspapers still practicing good journalism can find ways to remain solvent. Were newspapers to make that eventual turn, it wouldn’t necessarily be the death of journalism, for journalism, objective or not, can live on without getting “newsprint on your hands,” as Gerson lauds newsmen at the end of his column. But it would be a return to its former self. Remember, journalism wasn’t objective first in its history. It was partisan first. The turn to non-partisanship was a turn for the better, in my view, and here’s hoping print journalism remains true to its 20th-century transformation.
They are Sheik Jamal Rahman, the Rev. Don Mackenzie and Rabbi Ted Falcon. It should be easy telling which is which. The three religious leaders are part of a growing interfaith movement around the country, which seeks to foster interfaith cooperation across religions, particularly across Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
These three, who have dubbed themselves the “interfaith amigos,” held a presentation in October at Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn. The leaders’ shtick, according to The Times article, is salted with some fun-poking comedy, along with more serious discussion on the importance of interfaith dialogue and how the leaders confront the various theological differences that largely govern each one’s lives.
In this era of religious extremism — or continued extremism blackening millenia — their goal is a noble one, in so far as it seeks to encourage mutual understanding and goodwill among different groups of people that in certain social climates could produce the precise opposite. The central problem, however, with what they are doing simply crashes in the face of what each of these religions’ texts actually say about any potential mutual understanding with unbelievers. To be sure, Sheik Rahman is an unbeliever to Mackenzie, while Falcon is an unbeliever to both. According to each one’s doctrines, only one of three are going to live in some afterlife, so their union is puzzling on, at least, that basic level.
Each of the three did deal with what they thought were misconceptions about their particular religions. According to The Times article,
The minister said that one “untruth” for him was that “Christianity is the only way to God.” The rabbi said for him it was the notion of Jews as “the chosen people.” And the sheik said for him it was the “sword verses” in the Koran, like “kill the unbeliever.”
In fact, each of these, indeed, is most certainly a “truth” about each religion. I will get to that soon. To say that each notion mentioned here is an “untruth” smacks of religion moderation, or as Sam Harris calls it, “failed” fundamentalism: “the religious moderate is nothing more than a failed fundamentalist.”
Here is what Harris has to say about religious moderation in The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason:
Moderates do not want to kill anyone in the name of God, but they want us to keep using the word “God” as though we knew what we were talking about. And they do not want anything too critical said about people who really believe in the God of their fathers, because tolerance, perhaps above all else, is sacred. To speak plainly and truthfully about the state of our world — to say, for instance, that the Bible and the Koran both contain mountains of life-destroying gibberish — is antithetical to tolerance as moderates currently conceive it. But we can no longer afford the luxury of such political correctness. We must finally recognize the price we are paying to maintain the iconography of our ignorance.
So, let’s take them one-by-one, to unravel these aforesaid “untruths” to get some mutual understanding. Christ made it clear (and even said it explicitly) in the New Testament that “no one comes to the Father except through me.” He is described as the way, the truth, the life, the gate, the door, the bread of life, the vine, the path to righteousness and the Alpha and Omega. Does this for a second suggest that there is some other path to heaven? So, for the Christian, strike one.
On to the Jews’ “the chosen people” claim. Let’s try Deuteronomy 14:1-2:
You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead. For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Or, how about this Exodus 19:5-6:
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
Or, how about the Jewish prayer book:
You are the Elohim who executes salvations, You have chosen us from among all nations and tongues. And You have brought us closer to Your great Name forever in truth, to thank You and distinguish Your Oneness with love.
How about the sheik’s claim about the “sword verses” in the Koran? These are perhaps the most ridiculous and, paradoxically, untrue of them all. The Koran, however sensible and caring Muslims try to glance over the parts that make them wince, is not absent, but filled with verses about exacting punishment on unbelievers. Witness 9:73:
O Prophet! contend against the infidels and the hypocrites, and be rigorous with them: Hell shall be their dwelling place! Wretched the journey thither!
Or 9:123, or one that speaks directly to the topic of religious understanding, 9:11-13a:
The Jews say, “Ezra (Ozair) is a son of God”; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is a son of God.” Such the sayings in their mouths! They resemble the saying of the Infidels of old! God do battle with them! How are they misguided!
They take their teachers, and their monks, and the Messiah, son of Mary, for Lords beside God, though bidden to worship one God only. There is no God but He!
(Side not: Don’t you love all the exclamation points? Screaming makes argument so much more salient!!!!!)
All this foretells of much of the current brand of radical, irrational religion that is still washed over much of the Middle East. For his part, Sheik Rahman said the verses have been taken out of context and that, perhaps most damning of all to his case, are his words that, “Some verses are literal, some are metaphorical, but the Koran doesn’t say which is which.”
Indeed, and thus, the good sheik has driven a death knell in his own text. With the Koran, as with any other ancient text, if some of the passages are supposedly metaphorical, how are we supposed to tell which is which? Allah sure isn’t offering any clues from above. How are we to know for sure that any passage is or isn’t metaphorical? Nowhere in any religious text does the writer block off certain portions of text and say, “This part is metaphorical, guys. Please don’t go around killing unbelievers.” Jesus points out that some of his words are parables, but the parables don’t exactly command mass homicide, do they?
And besides, what could possibly be construed about “make war on the infidels” (9:123) as metaphorical? Metaphorical for what? By “war,” did Allah just mean a cold stare or is “make war” a nice way of saying Allah demands that Muslims evangelize to the fallen? Who knows, and again, Allah, like every other deity is silent on these questions, and has been, in Islams case, for hundreds of years, in Judaism’s case, thousands.
The only way that we can preserve a religious text as authentic is to claim that it is totally authentic, as the biblical literalists do, quite shockingly in the face of astronomy, paleontology, evolutionary biology, archeology and everything else. The moment we begin blocking of certain passages as metaphorical or as too brutal for our modern sensibilities, we throw the entire work into question. If we deem any of it unauthentic, contradictory, partially metaphorical, or anything else other than totally, 100 percent true and literal, it’s irrelevant, for we have no way of deciphering which bits to believe and live by and which bits to discard as anachronistic or allegorical.
Ok, so Tuesday night, my computer seemingly went the way of the dodo. In short, the lesson learned is this: though I highly recommend the program, Ad-Aware, be careful when “cleaning” problems found on your computer. It will, apparently, assume you know what you are doing when you click “remove all” problems and allow you to toast your hard drive’s boot sector. I like to pretend I know what I’m doing some of the time when it comes to computers, but I made the mistake of lackadaisically clicking through to remove a certain number of files with issues. But on restart, the operating system did not come back up. The fans were running and the motherboard kicked on, but no boot.
Thus, begins my 2-3-hour-per-night journey inside the case, removing hardware, replugging, swiping the CMOS, replacing the power supply with another … all such annoying, tedious stuff. As frustration mounted, I finally posted the problem to fixya.com, and within a few minutes, I had a couple ideas of what could be the problem. One person suggested that Ad-Aware had (without warning me) deleted files in the boot partition, thus rendering the hard drive a nice, shiny rectangular object, but otherwise useless. For some reason, the BIOS, or anything for that matter, wouldn’t load using the current MOBO and set up, so I found an old computer I had laying around and stuck the hard drive in question in there.
I remembered I had an old EZ Install Boot Disk, and this other computer just so happened to be ancient enough to have a 3.5 floppy drive. So, after a couple ill-fated attempts, I finally managed to format the hard drive, insert the Windows XP CD (Yeah, from 2002) and start over. Once Windows was on the computer, I wanted to test the hard drive out in the newer machine.
Here is my ill-fallen machine on the right. The old one is pictured on the left.
So I plugged the HD back in and nothing. I then guess that, while it could be a video card or MOBO problem, I really didn’t think so at this point (or at least hoped not). So, I tried changing out the power supplies in the two machines, and lo and behold, it started up like a charm. I then proceeded to insert my other hard drive, and that didn’t go as well. The computer recognizes the drive, but it currently says “access is denied” when I try to access the folder with all my stuff in it. This was the important drive with the mp3s and other documents that I don’t want to lose. So, I’m still working on that. Worse comes to worse, I’ll get a recovery application and break into the drive Cell Block C-style, but hopefully that won’t be necessary. Now, I have to download iTunes and try to get all my music back in listenable form. Luckily, before this happened, I had backed up my music library to an external drive, and it, hopefully, sits peacefully in waiting.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this month that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four helpers would be brought before a civilain court yards away from the original World Trade Center site in which they allegedly leveled.
According to a New York Times article,
Holder insisted both the court system and the untainted evidence against the five men are strong enough to deliver a guilty verdict and the penalty he expects to seek: a death sentence for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people who were killed when four hijacked jetliners slammed into the towers, the Pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania.
But why a death penalty? Why not hard labor for decades? Why not a life of imprisonment? How can one single life make up for 3,000 dead in New York?
It can’t, and the sentence Holder is seeking is far from ample.
Regardless, we are set to give Mohammed and his cohorts the death penalty, which is exactly what they want: martydom. According to the article:
Held at Guantanamo since September 2006, Mohammed said in military proceedings there that he wanted to plead guilty and be executed to achieve what he views as martyrdom. In a letter from him released by the war crimes court, he referred to the attacks as a ”noble victory” and urged U.S. authorities to ”pass your sentence on me and give me no respite.”
He urged officials to hand down the sentence. So, essentially, in the death penalty, we are possibly going to give this delusional person exactly what he has wished for: to be joined in martydom with a buffet of virgins and glory and whatever else?
Here’s what Mohammed and others deserve, if they are found guilty: they should be kept alive as long as possible and used for public works projects as long as they are capable.
Unbeknownst to them, there is no paradise for them to go to, but at the least, we can keep them from the hope of it. As long as we adopt a policy to “kill these folks,” we are catering to their exact, exact desires. We are doing them a favor. Why would we, as a country, just outright kill a prisoner who wants nothing more than to be called a martyr?
If they want to die to meet up with their brethren and supposed virgins, so be it. Let them live as long as possible, working until their deathbeds for the public good, and when their day finally comes, they will have put in years in public service improving roads and infrastructure, or whatever, for future generations. And when their number finally comes, they can go clamber toward their mythical virgins and their paradise and their god. Immediate death for the 9/11 terrorist suspects is egregiously miscalculated and does a disservice to the thousands killed on that day, directly caters to the accused and actually does them a favor.
Somewhere, amid these proceedings, a mullah, and the five suspects, are, no doubt, smiling in agreement with the intentions on how to handle the suspected terrorists.
A friend of mine today brought to my attention a recent debate she was having with an acquaintance about gun control (I wrote about the issue some here) who said he had a handgun in nearly every room of his house and, I kid you not, “when I grill out, I have a pistol on the patio table.”
So, when it’s time to cook up some steaks, is he taking out the meat, cooking utensils, A-1 sauce and bringing out the pistol as well? How about a relaxing summer evening on the porch? Is he packing then too? Not too relaxing, I imagine. I commented to my friend that I hope this person doesn’t have any unattended children in any of those rooms with the guns or on the patio.
Let me first get something out of the way. I enjoy shooting guns. For leisure at shooting ranges. Rifles, pistols, old-time, powder-loaded handguns, whatever. But that’s at a shooting facility. The home is not a shooting facility, and I don’t necessarily sign up for the philosophy that says residential folks might as well be packing just in case some robber suddenly turns up and they can fling out their sidearm as needed. I suppose I, and many others who don’t have guns in their houses, are hedging their bets, hoping the worse never happens, but in my case, and many others, even with guns, there’s certainly no guarantee that I’m magically going to turn into Clint Eastwood and be able to quickly gun down some unwelcomed marauder. Moreover, the type of home is also important. It’s a single home with one person, a gun might be Ok if a young child is not present. In a family, however, the situation becomes more tenuous.
That said, neither do I think that erasing all guns from the streets or from homes will reduce or extinguish murder. If people get it in their minds that they are going to kill so or so or commit some other act, they will probabaly wield any weapon available to carry it out. If every single gun in the country were taken away (except for those in the hands of lawmen or military personnel), those who wanted to kill others would find another way. And as the case of Nidal Malik Hasan, just being a member of the U.S. Army doesn’t preclude you from being able to use a weapon to wreak havoc on others.
Here’s a graphic I found interesting. It’s a little dated, but probably still tells the tale. Note where the U.S. falls:
The right column shows “International Firearm Deaths by 100,000″ and the other statistic shows the percentage of households with firearms, and look which country is at the top of the heap, high above are more progressive neighbors across the pond.
But back on point, previously I referenced a New York Times editorial titled, quite fondly so, “A Farewell to Lou,” in which the editorial board points out that Dobbs thoughts on illegal immigration, in particular, have been “corrosive” to the public discourse on the complex issue and damaging to any honest discussion.
As the piece notes, Dobbs stated Nov. 11 while on the air that he was leaving CNN, having been granted
a release from my contract that will enable me to pursue new opportunities
by CNN president Jon Klein. If you are interested, here’s the video:
As part of the short segment, Dobbs said,
Over the past six months, it’s become increasing clear that strong winds of change have begun buffetting this country and affecting all of us and some leaders and media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem-solving as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day and to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible.
He pointed to climate change, immigration, the two wars and other issues as some of the greatest challenges facing the country. Dobbs continued:
Unfortunately, these issues are now defined in the public arena by partisanship and ideology rather than by rigorous, empirical thought and forthright analysis and discussion. I will be working diligently to change that as best I can.
Before I continue, let me say that I agree with The Times that Dobbs is, indeed, the same polarizing figure of which he seems to be attempting to refute. The editorial said:
Mr. Dobbs couldn’t have phrased a more apt criticism of himself. He calls himself Mr. Independent, but he is far closer in style and method to the right-wing ranters who mold the facts to shape the argument on television and on AM radio, where Mr. Dobbs still has a show. Mr. Dobbs’s CNN program has long been a nesting ground for untruths and conspiracy theories: fretting over a nonexistent, immigrant-borne leprosy epidemic; questioning President Obama’s citizenship; issuing dark warnings about the “North American Union,” a supposed plot to strangle United States sovereignty.
No argument there, and again, I agree, but I must point out that The Times piece cut off the quote before Dobbs said, “I will be working diligently to change that as best I can.”
I don’t believe him, of course, and I think he was just throwing a bone to critics who say he is, indeed, a partisan in populist clothing, but I just thought it was important to note that The Times skewed what Dobbs was saying in that part, even though it’s clear to me, and undoubtedly to The Times, that either, A) Dobbs doesn’t really mean what he said, or B) Dobbs doesn’t know the difference between “partisanship and ideology” and approaching issues with “empirical thought and forthright analysis.”
Regardless, he really did make “the most trusted name in news” more partisan, and lest the network replace Dobbs with another talking head, it will be a somewhat more even-handed network. Even with Dobbs, it was more “sober,” as the editorial puts it, than FOX News and MSNBC, both of which really should be ashamed because they are each perfect foils of the other, right and left, respectively, and are doing their part to ensure that journalism will meet certain death.
It’s unclear what Dobbs will do next, but he’s apparently just going to focus on his radio show for now and continue to prop up the already right-wing dominated airwaves. Not that I care, and free speech for all, I say, but he’s certainly stewing in the cesspool along with Sean Hannity’s, Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh and others, and is far from independent.
A story from Reuters traces how Dobbs transitioned from a straight-laced newsman to an all-out commentator:
He returned two years later (after a stint at the network from 1980-1999) to become host and managing editor of a new general news broadcast, and for a time renewed his Moneyline show.
But Dobbs’ role at the network changed dramatically.
“He morphed from being an economic and finance guy to being much more in the style of an opinion commentator,” independent television news analyst Andrew Tyndall said. “He turned into specializing on the illegal immigrants story, which was very hot three years ago or four years ago.”
Thus, he probably did CNN a favor by stepping down (or maybe he was forced into the decision) if the network wants to be truer to its “most trusted name in news” mantra. Tyndall noted the “differences” between Dobbs line of thinking editorially and CNN officials.
“There’s clearly editorial differences between the way CNN wants to go and the direction he wants to go.”
Like its doomsday-foretelling predecessors (The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact and others — here’s an apparent exhaustive list), the new movie 2012 gives us a taste of the end of days, this time via a prophecy that the Sun and Earth align with the center of the galaxy, which, consequently, is an annual occurrence, as NASA reminds us, which happens each December. It’s called the winter solstice.
But we shouldn’t let annoying little scientific facts get in the way of giving us a good scare. Since its initial setting in 1947 at 11:53 p.m., the actual Doomsday Clock, maintained by the The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, has teetered on the brink for half a century, varying between 11:43 p.m.in 1991, when the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and 11:58 p.m. in 1953, when the same two countries tested thermonuclear devices within nine months of each other. Suffice it to say, relations between the U.S. and Russia will probably determine our fate, at least our fate based on international relations. Here’s a graphical look at our past potential dates with destiny:
The movie 2012, however, provides, not an international breakdown, but a cosmic episode on the scale of a gamma ray burst, a black hole eating up the Earth or a comet colliding with Earth that is based on Mayan soothsayers’ opinions on when the world will come to a combustible end. According to an essay in The New York Times, folks are being scared out of their boots by supposed end of days foretellings.
NASA astronomer David Morrison said he’s gotten numerous letters and e-mails from folks wondering how they should prepare for the end.
“I get angry at the way people are being manipulated and frightened to make money,” Dr. Morrison said. “There is no ethical right to frighten children to make a buck [or for any other reason, religion included].”
Dr. Morrison said he had been getting about 20 letters and e-mail messages a day from people as far away as India scared out of their wits. In an e-mail message, he enclosed a sample that included one from a woman wondering if she should kill herself, her daughter and her unborn baby. Another came from a person pondering whether to put her dog to sleep to avoid suffering in 2012.
It’s unclear to me why people are giving so much credibility to prophecies written by ancient people with no more insight into future events — in truth, far less — than you or I. This is a culture which regularly performed human sacrifices and worshiped the Sun, and did both simultaneously, in fact. Four people would hold the human being down on a stone by all fours, while another stabbed the person and pulled out its still-beating heart, so that the sacrificial human got to see its own thumping life in someone else’s hand before the cheering masses. True, the Mayans were highly developed — civilized would be a misnomer — people in their ability to build great structures, but to give any credence whatsoever to a prophecy told under such an archaic belief system is just as arcane. One can only wonder: were these supposed phophecies handed down from the ball of hydrogen gas being worshiped 93 million miles away?
The above essay notes, though there’s not much to be concerned about regarding the year 2012, we still have plenty potential realities to confront, not the least of which are real natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamies and climate change and manmade ones like nuclear proliferation. Although, if we insist on worrying ourselves with some sort of crisis hurling toward us from the cosmos, one might consider learning more about the asteroid Apophis, set to cruise under our satellite orbits, about 22,000 miles from Earth, on Friday the 13th in April 2029. Or, just go see the movie.
Want a pretty good benchmark for when you know times are tough in the United States? When folks in poor parts of Mexico are actually sending money northward to assist unemployed relatives in the States.
The New York Times reported Nov. 15 the cases of several families who previously had received money from their United States-based relatives, but when those relatives lost their jobs, those in Mexico started chipping in and sending what they could north over the border via wire transfer. According to the article,
During the best of the times, Miguel Salcedo’s son, an illegal immigrant in San Diego, would be sending home hundreds of dollars a month to support his struggling family in Mexico. But at times like these, with the American economy out of whack and his son out of work, Mr. Salcedo finds himself doing what he never imagined he would have to do: wiring pesos north.
The article notes a telling fact: it’s easier to get by on very little in Mexico than it is in America. The Avendano family, living in Miahuatlán, scrape by via a kind of subsistence farming on their own land. To help with their finances, Sirenia Avendano sells chili rellenos around the neighborhood.
Speaking of his two sons, whose hours and tips were cut at the Florida restaurant in which they work, Javier Avendano said,
We have an obligation to help them. They’re our sons. It doesn’t matter if they are here or there.
An aquaintance of mine who runs, with the help of his wife and family, a Mexican grocery store and restaurant here in town once told me of his own struggles to reach America. He took the dangerous jaunt across the border many years ago, was once an illegal, and has long since gotten his citizenship. He has children in the local school district and has deep roots in the county in which I live at this point. The last time I checked, he was still sending money back home to his parents.
As I have said many times and will continue to say, stories like those of my acquaintance and of the Avendanos speak to the fact that illegal immigrants aren’t monsters, as Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh and others would have us believe. They are human beings with families and folks who love them. Should we do away with our naturalization laws and open to borders completely? Definitely, we shouldn’t do away with the laws, but enforcing the border with a 1,000-plus mile fences seems like a comic book, implausible, inhumane and abhorent solution. There is such a thing as country citizenship, in Mexico, in other Latino countries and here. Should we accept the fact that the ones who are here probably aren’t leaving unless the situation here gets worse than it is in Mexico? Probably so. The wholesale excavation of these people is completely out of the question and is absolutely, logistically impossible.
So, what do we do? First, and I hope the Obama administration doesn’t oversee anymore raids. We should stop the inhumane raids, separating children from their parents. Focus on the employers who are willingly or not, hiring illegals. If they unwillingly hire them, that is, presented the potential employee with proper paperwork and the illegal lies or presents false information, dish out a lesser penalty to the employer. If the employer willingly hires illegals because it’s cheap labor or for whatever other reason, throw the book at them.
This issue has become one cause that I’m willing to champion over and over again. For too long, I’ve heard the talking heads and folks who apparently have a cold stone for a heart, rant on and on about how immigrants are turning the country brown, that we should close the border and that immigrants are taking “real” Americans’ jobs (whatever that means), and it’s really nauseating.
Talk about nauseating. This quote is too ill-conceived to let slip through the cracks. On the supposed “brown” dilemma, check out what Frosty Wooldridge had to say about the immigration problem in California:
The brown toxic cloud strangling Los Angeles never lifts and grows thicker with every immigrant added. One can’t help appreciate the streets of Paris will soon become the streets of LA. However, Paris’ streets erupted while LA’s shall sink into a Third World quagmire much like Bombay or Calcutta, India. When you import THAT much crime, illiteracy, multiple languages and disease—Americans pick up stakes and move away. It’s an unlivable nightmare.
It’s chilling to me that viewpoints such as this ignorant drivel still persist in what was once, in its infancy, such a progressive, forward-looking country. Arguably, and regrettably from my view, we haven’t been all that progressive since the 18th century, but that’s for another debate.
But I digress. Next, I’ll look at this topic somemore, as it relates to Lou Dobbs’ recent resignation from CNN and a recent, related New York Times editorial. I am currently working on adding content to a new WordPress-powered Counting Crows site, so that would explain my lack of posts in the last week or so. But I’m back in the saddle. … I hope.
If you want to spend an unenlightening and sickening few minutes, go listen to members of the U.S. Congress debate health care reform on C-SPAN, in which Republican and Blue Dog Democrats summon every possible cliché, from freedom to the founders, to try to convince folks that the health care Democrat-sponsored reform bill is bankrupt. That doesn’t mention the dozens and dozens of uncited claims about the bill.
Particularly sickening were comments from Mike Pence of Indiana’s fightin’ 6th, in which he made a peculiar analogy between World War II veterans and those who might vote “Nay” on H.R. 3962. “When freedom hung in the balance, you did freedom’s work,” he said of those potentially in opposition to the bill.
The argument goes that passage of the Democrats’ health care bill will mean a loss of freedom for some in America, claiming that some residents will be forced to take policies whether they want to or not, that the private insurance agency’s freedom to persist unimpeded in denying coverage for those who need it and finally, that some sort of collective freedom will be lost if we go down the road toward “nationalized” medicine, a system in which every single developed and modern country operates under. And, every single modernized country has a higher life expectancy than people in the United States.
Jim McDermott of Washington State’s fightin’ 7th tonight made the simple and salient point that the Republicans would prefer the status quo, in which insurance companies are allowed to run roughshod, as they have for decades and that “most (people) can’t take care of their health care problems on their own.”
And Charles Rangel of New York fightin’ 15th requested that members of the House choose that “morality (would) go beyond party loyalty.”
Regardless, it is expected that the House will get the necessary 218 votes to pass the bill, but it’s not certain whether it will pass the Senate, much less some negotiated final bill to make the president’s desk.
As for my personal thoughts, the Republican plan does not ban the denial of insurance to those with pre-existing conditions, and H.R. 3962 does, and to me, that reason alone is enough to stymie the former approach. Returning to Rangel’s thoughts, the moral necessity of helping those who need it most should supercede party lines. I’ve written at length on this topic, so I haven’t put a full, rhetorical thrust behind this post. I’ve done that already here and elsewhere, but I want to include one of the more colorful remarks from George Miller from California, who had this to say:
If the Republican’s plan was a plan for a fire department, they would rush into a burning building and they would rush out and leave everybody behind. … They say their plan is inexpensive. They say their plan saves somebody money. But 10 years from now, there’s as many uninsured as now. At the end of their watch, after 12 years of control of this Congress, eight years of control of the White House at the same time, they left behind 37 million Americans without health insurance. That’s what they left behind on their watch. And now they come forth with a plan for the future, and over the next decade, they’re going to leave behind 50 million Americans! Wanna buy it? Wanna try it? Wanna sell it? Come on, America, buy this one. You’re guaranteed to be left behind if you’re left behind today. What a plan! Hah! God. … [Unintelligible exit, but it sounds like he said, "See ya."]
I’ve heard many Republicans, some of which I heard during the debate today, say that, “Well it’s not really 40 million uninsured. If we take out the illegals and the young people who don’t want (I would add, can’t afford) insurance, we are left with 5 million or more uninsured. So, I would ask, what of those 5 million? That’s still a big number. Those 5 million aren’t worth helping? What if it was 500,000? Or 100,000? Or 10,000?
Thank goodness for fringe talk radio to keep me angry enough late at night so I’m not attempted to fall asleep at the wheel while returning from a lengthy trip Lexington, Ga., to cover a football game.
I’m not sure what radio host, Mark Levin’s, obsession is with The Washington Post (Levin calls it The Washington Compost) writer, Dana Milbank, but Milbank is linked on Levin’s Web site, and Levin, in usual form, went into a 10-minute rant about this column, appearing Friday in The Post. In it, Milbank detailed some of the more unusual features of a protest held Thursday on Capitol Hill by House Republicans and Tea Party supporters, who were rallying against the health care reform bill currently under consideration. To briefly point out some of what Milbank observed:
In the front of the protest, a sign showed President Obama in white coat, his face painted to look like the Joker. The sign, visible to the lawmakers as they looked into the cameras, carried a plea to “Stop Obamunism.” A few steps farther was the guy holding a sign announcing “Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds” [sic], accusing Obama of being part of a Jewish plot to introduce the antichrist.
According to Milbank, also being displayed was a banner which read: “National Socialist Healthcare, Dachau, Germany, 1945.”
Levin on the radio show claimed he saw none of this nonsense, and was quick to point to a 90-year-old veteran he saw in a wheel chair on the front row and the numerous American flags, etc, etc. Levin seemed to indicate that among 20,000 people (He must have had a different math teacher than Milbank, who only recorded about 5,000 in attendance), there were sure to be a few crackpot, zany signs and that you could pick out fringers anywhere, like Waffle House on any given day. But the tough news for Levin is that he is a fringer. In his long rant on the air tonight, Levin accused liberals of doing everything in their power to ridicule some of the strong, female leaders of the conservative movement, like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. He awkwardly threw in the word “attractive” in his description, but I have no idea what physical appearance has to do with anything.
But the point is this. He accused some of ridiculing the intelligence and the very being of people like Palin and others, but leveled a barrage of belittling names Milbank’s way in response to the column. In his vitriol, in which by the end, Levin was for all practical purposes, screaming into the microphone, used the following choice words to describe Milbank (I wrote some of them down as I was listening): “jerk” (three times); “moron”; “propagandis,” and a “pathetic” one at that; “liar”; “coward”; “punk”; “hack”; “ass”; and “backbencher”. The liar and coward accusations begin teetering into slander territory. Regardless, what sort of person do you have to be to, in one breath, accuse someone of belittling or mocking Palin, while not more than two minutes later, to begin such a barrage of insults I just listed against another person?
I want to address one more thing. The use of the word “patriots” to describe Tea Party attendees or Republicans or anti-Obama zealots is just plain offensive to the spirit on which this country was built. One person who called in to Levin’s show described the attendees of the aforesaid rally as “citizen patriots,” whatever that means. This type of nonsense basically throws feces over the venerable graves of John Adams, Sam Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Hancock, George Washington and the thousands who fought from Massachusetts and the other colonies against the British to help us win independence. I’m not a patriot. Obama isn’t a patriot. Levin isn’t a patriot. Neither is Milbank. The New England Patriots aren’t even patriots. The dictionary definition of the word generally means anyone who loves her country, but look deeper, and the word originates from Greek root, patēr, meaning “father,” hence, as it relates to this country, Founding Fathers. Using that word so lightly after all that this country has been through in its 200-plus year history makes a mockery of what the above men worked to accomplish, and it’s personally offensive to me, and it should be to anyone else with a brain.
I’ll probably have more to say on Levin later when it’s not 2 a.m. after having worked 12 hours. …