Archive for the ‘bill o’reilly’ tag
Here is the video to which they are referring. Bill O’Reilly is interviewing Richard Dawkins and trying, but failing, to mount some kind of argument for God based on the god of the gaps principle:
Below is an exchange between Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly on a secular display that was placed next to a Christmas tree and nativity scene in 2009:
Here, O’Reilly said atheists are “just stupid” (Here, Coulter gives a laugh after this empty and meaningless statement) because “all their doing is making people angry” by displaying an anti-religious sign next to the holiday displays at the Illinois State Capitol building posted and applied for by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
I’m not going to here elaborate on the secular and pagan aspects of the holiday season, but I will point out that Christmas, with regard to the birth of Christ, is more of a traditional date rather than an historic one on the calendar. I point to this entry from Encyclopedia Brittanica:
The precise origin of assigning December 25 as the birth date of Jesus is unclear. The New Testament provides no clues in this regard. December 25 was first identified as the date of Jesus’ birth by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 and later became the universally accepted date. One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer. Indeed, after December 25 had become widely accepted as the date of Jesus’ birth, Christian writers frequently made the connection between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the Son. One of the difficulties with this view is that it suggests a nonchalant willingness on the part of the Christian church to appropriate a pagan festival when the early church was so intent on distinguishing itself categorically from pagan beliefs and practices.
The sign to which O’Reilly refers indicates that there are no angels, devils, etc., and that religion enslaves minds, hardens hearts and deludes the masses. O’Reilly oversteps his bounds when he says that the sign implies that if you believe, “you’re an idiot.”
The sign says nothing of the sort. It says we exist in a natural world and that religion has the capacity, and more often than not does, cause great harm, physically and intellectually, to our species. Again, phrases like “you’re an idiot,” however wrong they may be, are hollow pronouncements that his audience, no doubt, laps up.
And it’s here that Coulter makes her less than triumphant entrance:
“The state officials are idiots too. I mean, even if they are going to use this crazy public forum, as if all religions are the same and the government, the establishment of America, makes no choice between god and no god, which is not the case, though it is the case with a lot of European countries. This country was founded explicitly on a belief in God, but even if you are doing this crazy public forum analysis, I mean it would be like having, um, you know, everybody is going to bring in a picture of his pet and people bring in pictures of their dogs, and then there’s one sign, you know, there’s Fluffy the dog, and then another sign, I hate Fluffy and Fluffy sucks, it doesn’t even fit within the public forum definition of what speech must be tolerated, so the government officials were being idiots to even allow these government signs.”
I’m glad she cleared that up for us about the travails of Fluffy. You will now see the meaning of my “laps” phraseology. In the first place, as this YouTube commenter noted about the video:
Coul(t)er has it backwards. A lot of European countries were founded on faith. It is America that was not. But she bashes Europe bec(ause) that’s what sells with her stupid supporters.
Here, I summon the case of Christopher Hitchens, a well-known anti-theist and native born Britishman. From his debates and books, it seems evident that he chose to become a citizen of the United States, in part, to flee from England’s religiosity, which still proclaims a national church, a concept that has long since been discarded in America. In fact, it’s a concept that never even gained footing. Indeed, our Founders were well aware of their ancestors’ flight from such theocratic leanings and were certain to exclude any mention of God from the Constitution and create a deep chasm between religion and the state. Here, critics might note that the Declaration of Independence includes references to the Creator and to God, but the Declaration isn’t the document on which this country was founded. The Declaration was just that, a declaration with no legal value, while the Constitution was toiled over and debated with much hand-wrenching, and non-religion still played the trump card.
In the second place, her point that all religions aren’t the same is wrong (Here, I assume she means that Christianity is the one true beacon among thousands of frauds). But most religions, including Christianity, are diametrically indistinguishable. Almost all of them involve an all-everything deity, sometimes many, and very often a self-resurrecting one(s) or a deity who can raise another; some notion of paradise or hades in the afterlife; sacrifice, both physically and spiritually; worse, blood sacrifice; some set of doctrines or commands; some promise of inner peace; a holy text; a creation myth, etc. And here’s a handy chart. Where Christianity differs, and the only point at which it differs, is the notion that, while in other religions, humans sacrifice to a god, in this one, God is the sacrifice. A unique, and at first, a noble twist on the usual story, I concede, but here again, I reference Hitchens:
… the idea of a vicarious atonement, of the sort that so
much troubled even C. S. Lewis, is a further refinement of the ancient
superstition. Once again we have a father demonstrating love
by subjecting a son to death by torture, but this time the father is
not trying to impress god. He is god, and he is trying to impress
humans. Ask yourself the question: how moral is the following?
I am told of a human sacrifice that took place two thousand years
ago, without my wishing it and in circumstances so ghastly that,
had I been present and in possession of any influence, I would have
been duty-bound to try and stop it. In consequence of this murder,
my own manifold sins are forgiven me, and I may hope to enjoy
Let us just for now overlook all the contradictions between the
tellers of the original story and assume that it is basically true. What
are the further implications? They are not as reassuring as they look
at first sight. For a start, and in order to gain the benefit of this wondrous
offer, I have to accept that I am responsible for the flogging
and mocking and crucifixion, in which I had no say and no part,
and agree that every time I decline this responsibility, or that I sin
in word or deed, I am intensifying the agony of it. Furthermore, I
am required to believe that the agony was necessary in order to compensate
for an earlier crime in which I also had no part, the sin of
Adam. It is useless to object that Adam seems to have been created
with insatiable discontent and curiosity and then forbidden to slake
it: all this was settled long before even Jesus himself was born. Thus
my own guilt in the matter is deemed “original” and inescapable.
However, I am still granted free will with which to reject the offer
of vicarious redemption. Should I exercise this choice, however, I
face an eternity of torture much more awful than anything endured
at Calvary, or anything threatened to those who first heard the Ten
I was going to write about something else tonight, namely Andrew Sullivan’s piece on torture appearing in this month’s The Atlantic magazine. I previously read most of it on The Atlantic’s Web site, but I got the hard copy version recently and took the time to re-read it. But I will save that for the next post.
I wanted to address a column by Matthew Cooper on The Atlantic’s Web site (I found the column in the process of looking for the online version of Sullivan’s piece, consequently). Cooper basically makes the case that Obama is not following through with his commitment to reach out to his enemies by snubbing FOX News when he “made the rounds” one recent Sunday on a number of TV news outfits. Coopers says that he
wouldn’t argue that Fox is “fair and balanced.” It’s a conservative news outlet, and to argue that it’s not is ludicrous. That said, there’s obviously a spectrum of bias ranging from the straight-style reporting of a Major Garrett at the White House to the rantings of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, and some anchors are more Foxy than others. I like it when Media Matters for America calls Fox on its bias, although it’s a little bit like calling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for being anti-Israeli. — theatlantic.com, Oct. 20, 2009
The spectrum of bias (or, more accurately, a bias inside a full-scale bias) to which Cooper refers is true enough. At once, viewers find the traditional “news anchor” pretending to be “fair and balanced,” while, the clues to the contrary are all around (Here, I reference the documentary “Outfoxed“). At the other end, we find Beck and the maniacal, fear-mongering, nonsensical crew. True also, mediamatters.org isn’t much better; it just exists on the other-other spectrum. Maybe that should read: the other hemisphere.
Cooper goes on to say that for the Obama administration to ignore FOX News “seems small minded.” He then claims many Democrats and independents watch FOX News. I’m not sure about this statement. If Democrats watch it, it’s to find fodder for their blogs or other political discourse; if independents watch it, it’s probably because they’re inwardly Republicans or Libertarians. Or, more simply, those folks watch it to get a laugh or for the sheer entertainment value.
Nonetheless, I disagree that Obama should give it the time of day, however big its audience, which is another of Cooper’s arguments: that FOX News would offer a grand stage for Obama to, perhaps, reach some people he wouldn’t be able to otherwise. He claimed the “Obama charm” would work at FOX and said the president was “better off” for appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” last year.
Cooper then comes to this question:
As for reporters, are we enabling a bad animal by appearing on Fox?
He apparently answers “No.” I answer, “Yes.” His response to the question:
I’d appear on Fox and have many times. I’d do it again. It’s a big audience, and while there’s a range of bias, so what?
So what?!? There’s not just a range of bias (a range within the full-scale bias, as I said before). The station makes a mockery of both words, “fair” and “balanced.” To boycott such a mockery to journalism would be an understandable thing and would, at least, slow the downward progression of the fine institution. The continued agreement of “real” journalists and leaders to appear on the network fuels its fire. If journalists, government officials and advertisers who disagreed with the blatantly weighted approach of FOX News made a concerted effort to refuse to support it, the network would surely feel the effects, in the quality of its on-air product and in its revenue.
To answers Cooper’s final question: the “slippery slope” of boycotting the channel ends with the channel itself. We have no need to boycott The Simpsons or the NFL. Does anyone really think Rupert Murdoch cares one wit about what FOX News or any of his other interests are doing? There’s no need to feel the same way about FOX the major network or FOX Sports or any of the others. For Murdoch, as long as they are making money, it’s all gravy. FOX News, consequently, found a niche in the far right-wing demographic, and its running with the shtick to the detriment of journalism. The other FOX networks aren’t involved in this derailment. I can’t speak for Murdoch’s newspaper interests because I haven’t read them at length.
Another point: the idea that the Obama administration would somehow make inroads with the FOX News viewership is silly. Cooper says:
Wouldn’t the White House be better off flooding Fox with its opinion rather than engaging in a fight with news outlet?
No. Obama isn’t going to gain anything by going into that crossfire. Folks don’t watch FOX News to have their cages rattled or their opinions questioned. They watch it to have their views validated. The typical FOX News viewer is an inert, immovable object politically, hanging on the edge of her recliner, clinging to Beck’s or O’Reilly’s every utterance. They question nothing and let others think for them.
Finally, Cooper states,
If the White House can reach out to the Iranians and North Koreans, for gosh sakes, they can talk to Shepard Smith.
No they can’t because Shepard Smith and the gang, in their FOX News cocoon are doing their best, sometimes without even knowing it, to destroy journalism, and we should not support or accept it.
In Michigan and elsewhere, I’m sure Tea Party demonstrations are filled with folks such as the one in this video hollering “Go home!” over and over, even as the speaker, in this case, Barrett, is trying to kiss up to them as much as humanly possible. But in South Carolina, where, who knows, we may declare our indepedence once again!, the commentary from the audience is particularly vitriolic. He uses the term “liberal Democrats in Washington, D.C.” to win their side. He says,
I will fight for you, and I will never turn my back on you, I can promise you that.
He tells the crowd, which doesn’t stop booing the entire five minutes of the “plea,” says,
The Obama administration, they don’t believe in you guys,
attempting to speak to them as if he’s beer buddies with the lot of them. He petitions them that “we” must fight them on the deficit, spending, taxes, and
above all taxation without hesitation (Notice, he didn’t say “representation” because even he knows the analogy is a bogus claim, even as, two days before, folks showed up in cities all over the country in Revolutionary era garb to protest against … something. It’s hard to say just what.) must be examined, exposed and extinguished.
So, what we have hear is a Tea Party demonstration, where a Republican representative, not even a Democrat, is virtually shouted off the stage, as he fishes for something to say, anything anti-Obama, anti-spending or anti-tax, to get them to agree on any point. How much more excitable would they have been if Ben Bernanke or Barney Frank or Obama himself were before them? Who knows? But I do know that telling a state representative to go home contributes nothing to the debate, nor do the scores of “boos” leveled at the man, the latter of which says to me that the angst, the emotional, excitable, reason-bending, rabble-rousing type of angst, was coming from, not a single person or two, but from the majority. Which, in turn says to me that either the Tea Party has lost control of its own message (if it ever had one) or if we get Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and the gang to begin talking about protests against the government on air, and all types of angry people to come out of the wood works, folks who are angry about all sorts of things from taxes to the Democratically-controlled Congress to big spending to the sun’s peculiar tendency to continue rising despite thousands and thousands and thousands of years of prophecy to the contrary.
But then again, South Carolina was the first state to secede the Union. It doesn’t take much for some folks over there to be rabble-roused.
Bill O’Really short-circuited recently when talking with Congressman Barney Frank on the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac debacle. Here is the video:
Now, O’Reilly, blinded by his seeming anger (Did he personally invest in Freddie and Fannie after Frank’s projection?), O’Reilly didn’t want to talk about Frank’s success in getting a regulatory bill passed after becoming head of the House Financial Services Committee. O’Reilly only wanted to focus on this statement by Frank:
“I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They’re not the best investments these days from the long-term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward. They’re in a housing market. I do think their prospects going forward are very solid. And in fact, we’re going to do some things that are going to improve them.” — CNBC interview, July 14, 2008
O’Reilly, again and again, accused Frank of telling people to invest in Fannie and Freddie, when he did not make that statement. As the quote states, Frank expressed optimism about the future of the company but stopped short of telling people to invest in that company’s stock. Obviously, Frank’s projections were off target.
“That’s great,” O’Reilly said about Frank’s work for more regulation, “but you still went out in July and said everything was great, and off that, a lot of people bought stock and lost everything they had.”
Frank: “Oh No.”
O’Reilly: Oh yes, oh yes!”
This was the point in the interview where O’Reilly began to unravel. Regardless, after reading up on this, Frank and O’Reilly’s boss, Rupert Murdoch, have an interesting history. From Wikipedia’s entry on Frank:
Amidst the 2008 financial market turmoil, billionaire Rupert R. Murdoch has repeatedly pointed blame at Frank and a few others as the root cause of the recent housing crisis. In a recent interview, Murdoch claimed that Frank’s plan in the early nineties pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make “bad” loans to “underprivileged” families. An anonymous opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal (owned by Murdoch’s News Corp) on September 9th 2008 further describes Barney Frank as the Patron Saint of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
As late as 2003 Frank rejected Bush administration proposals for increased oversight of Fannie Mae. The market at the time was reaping great profits and further regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would have opened the very lucrative sub-prime mortgage products to Wall Street firms. As sub-prime loans started to falter a year ago, the administration worked to move the loans back. According to the New York Times, “The White House also pitched in. James B. Lockhart, the chief regulator of Fannie and Freddie, adjusted the companies’ lending standards so they could purchase as much as $40 billion in new subprime loans. Some in Congress praised the move.”.
I find it interesting how so many of these companies , politicians and pundits are intertwined: O’Reilly continuing the argument of his boss and Frank possibly in a conflict of interest with Fannie and Freddie:
Frank, like many elected Representatives, has collected tens of thousands of dollars from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in campaign contributions — $42,350 since 1989. Also, Frank’s former lover, Herb Moses, was an executive at Fannie Mae from 1991 to 1998, where he “helped develop many of Fannie Mae’s affordable housing and home improvement lending programs.” The relationship ended around the same time Moses left the company to start a pottery business, and Frank continued support of the companies after the relationship ended. Fox News reported that in 1991, “the year Moses was hired by Fannie, the Boston Globe reported that Frank pushed the agency to loosen regulations on mortgages for two- and three-family homes, even though they were defaulting at twice and five times the rate of single homes, respectively.”