Nel's New Day

April 19, 2017

Want Facts? Check Carefully!

Filed under: Reproductive rights — trp2011 @ 10:00 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

If you get your information about abortion and reproductive rights from the evening cable news, you may be 64 percent wrong. Media Matters has released a year-long study of reporting on abortion, reproductive rights, and reproductive. The analysis of 354 segments on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC occurred from March 7, 2016 to March 1, 2017. The focus of these subjects was the election, legal issues, religion, anti-choice violence, economic and logistical barriers to abortion access, and state-based legislation on three topics—the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and late-term abortion.

Findings:

Coverage of Abortion and Reproductive Rights Was Male-Dominated Across All Networks: 60 percent of guests, hosts, and correspondents in these segments were male with hosts predominantly male—80 percent compared to only 20 percent female. Male hosts on Fox, representing more than the average on the three stations, were more likely to have male guests; CNN’s only program hosted by a woman, Erin Burnett Outfront, was the only program that had a majority of female guests. On MSNBC, only The Rachel Maddow Show and For the Record with Greta had more female appearances than male about these subjects.

Evening Cable News Features More Inaccurate Than Accurate Information About Abortion: 64 percent of the statements on these three cable stations contained inaccurate information about the Center for Medical Progress, abortion funding rules, Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and late-term abortion. CNN had the fewest inaccurate statements, and Fox, with 80 percent inaccuracy, rose to the top. Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight had no accurate statements at all. (Note: sexist Tucker Carlson is replacing sexist Bill O’Reilly.) On MSNBC, Chris Matthews’ Hardball had the highest number of inaccurate statements—21 out of 27.

Disparities Between Discussions of Candidates’ Positions on Abortion Enabled the Spread of Misinformation: Over half the segments studied covered candidates’ stances on abortion access with Donald Trump leading on all three networks. Hillary Clinton’s position was discussed only 21 percent of the time with other candidates’ positions in the other 32 percent. Fox led in coverage about Clinton’s position while providing misinformation about late-term abortion, meaning that Fox watchers heard more negative statements about Clinton and reproductive rights than people watching CNN or MSNBC.

Conversations About Legal Restrictions on Abortion Outpaced Those About the Consequences of Limiting Access:  The second most common focus for abortion was on courts and litigation, behind segments about the candidates’ positions on reproductive rights. Fox and MSNBC had the most pieces about this topic. Anti-choice violence and economic/logistical barriers to abortion access were barely addressed. Only one percent discussed the violence, and five percent concerned economical/logistical barriers. In the entire year, CNN failed to discuss anti-choice violence, and Fox had only one of the 354 segments, the one on The O’Reilly Factor when host Bill O’Reilly commented that the risk of this violence was low. All the anti-choice violence segments were on The Rachel Maddow Show which also showed five of the 11 segments on barriers available on MSNBC.

Fox News Dominated Discussions About Abortion in Concert with Religion or Faith: Abortion connected with religion/faith was the third most common intersection with Fox airing the most segments. Most of these were on Special Report, The O’Reilly Factor, and Hannity. Most of the few on MSNBC were on All In with Chris Hayes and The Rachel Maddow Show.

Misinformation About CMP (Center for Medical Progrss) Was Spread Almost Entirely by Fox New: Fox News aired all except one of the total statements about CMP, and 90 percent of these were wrong. The network typically described the group’s work as “investigative journalism” and failed to note the result of this “work” was refuted by multiple congressional and state investigations. Inaccurate statements came from most of the programs—Special Report, The O’Reilly Factor, The Kelly File, and Hannity. Sean Hannity invited discredited CMP founder David Daleiden on his show and gave him the entire segment to tell his inaccurate, anti-choice claim that Planned Parenthood illicitly sold fetal tissue, which multiple investigations have disproved.

All Networks Except Fox News Shared Largely Accurate Information About Planned Parenthood’s Essential Services: A prevailing anti-Planned Parenthood myth is that defunding it is no problem because these services are nonessential and can be provided by other community health centers (CHC). Accurate statements are that Planned Parenthood provides access to cancer screenings, pap smears, referrals, wellness exams, contraceptives, STD tests, family planning, or LGBTQ health services.  CNN and MSNBC provided largely accurate information about this topic while statements from Fox were split 50/50 between accurate and inaccurate. Only 26 percent of CNN statements were wrong, split evenly between Anderson Cooper 360 and CNN Tonight. All the inaccurate statements on MSNBC were made on Chris Matthews’ Hardball. Most of the Fox inaccurate statements were on The O’Reilly Factor although a couple of them were on The Kelly File before she left the network.

Misinformation About Late-Term Abortion Dominated on Every Network: Tracking segments on late-term abortions showed inaccurate statements 88 percent of the time. False anti-choice terms chosen included “sex-selective” abortion, “race-selective” abortion, “partial-birth” abortion, abortions after 20 weeks that allegedly risk the feeling of “fetal pain,” “abortion until the moment of birth,” “abortion on demand,” or abortion for “anyone, anytime, anyplace.” A search of these terms shows that only 12 percent were accurate. Erin Burnett OutFront and CNN Tonight led CNN’s 75 percent inaccurate statements with either none or one accurate statement. Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room was over 50 percent inaccurate. On Fox, all statements on Special Report, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and Hannity were inaccurate, while The O’Reilly Factor, at 95 percent inaccuracy, had the largest number of inaccurate statement. The majority of the 73 percent inaccurate statements on MSNBC were on Hardball.

The above analysis includes only “substantial discussion” or segments with the topic of abortion or reproductive rights and not news or video clips in edited news packages except those made by a network correspondent. It provides a snapshot of accuracy on both networks and programs. The question for further research is the accuracy of these programs and networks in other areas.

With 60 percent of the discussants about women’s reproductive rights being male, the media people addressing the topic, as in politics, aren’t directly affected by decisions and therefore concentrate on court decisions and political candidates. Neglected are topics such as services lost through defunding health clinics, women’s health, and socio-economic barriers to abortion access.

Even more frightening in the analysis is the revelation that almost two-thirds of the statements are false, and the information about late-term abortions is almost 90 percent wrong. Many people get all their information from these inaccurate sources. Terms such as “fetal pain” and “abortion on demand” become part of the litany of people who vote against women’s rights and lead to increasingly horrific laws that limit women’s lives. Some people believed Donald Trump’s outrageous statement at a campaign debate that laws allowed doctors to “rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.” This never happens.

The inaccuracies on cable TV haven’t stopped. Less than a month ago, Wolf Blitzer didn’t correct Secretary of Health Tom Price when he claimed that funding for Planned Parenthood is “fungible,” meaning that it supports abortions. The Guttmacher Institute pointed out the flaw: “Fungibility is an inherent possibility when involving the private sector in any government-subsidized activity, and the only way to avoid it would be for government agencies to exclusively provide any and all such services.” Also, if Price is correct, the “fungibility” also moves into taxpayers funding religion in federal subsidized organizations such as religious groups and charities. Yet Blitzer’s television audience didn’t hear that response.

It’s these inaccuracies that people use to pick candidates. Social media passes along billions of false computerized bots, candidates lie to get votes, and journalists don’t bother to check facts or follow their ideologies. When lies are corrected, people claim “alternate facts” or “emotional truth,” as if data doesn’t exist. This situation brought Brexit to Great Britain and the Republicans to the United States.

Next time someone tells you something, check it out! Like this article!

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February 11, 2017

DDT: Week Three – Part 2

trump-signature-photoMost of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) publicity during his first three weeks was vigorously signing Steve Bannon’s executive orders, actions, and directives and then proudly holding up leather-bound documents like a toddler being potty trained. Some of these, such as the recently overturned Muslim ban, had teeth, but many of them are just—publicity. For example, the three on “strengthening” police. They were supposedly “designed to restore safety in America,” to “break the back” of cartels, and “stop as of today” violence against the police. Yet the text reveals that policy steps were missing. Instead they showed DDT’s displeasure with the cartels and order task forces that will actually stop investigations into the spike in killings of black people, many of them by law enforcement officials.

An earlier order about ISIS asked for a plan—not really a news breaking concept. The one on killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership merely fired another shot into the TTP’s decaying carcass. An examination of his 26 “executive actions” disclose most of them to lack substantive value, according to Mark Rozell, the dean of the government school at George Mason University. Yet he presents them as if “he’s doing something very dramatic, very significant.” That’s DDT—a theatrical showman signifying nothing. [DDT’s signature with his inauguration photograph.]

Yet pieces of what he has done are extremely destructive:

Return of Dakota Pipeline: The Army Corps of Engineers will approve the final easement allowing the pipeline to cross underneath Lake Oahe, the primary source of drinking water for the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. DDT said he didn’t get a single phone call opposing his pipeline approvals. Maybe because the White House has removed the availability for calling and people can’t call the White House anymore? And the fact that DDT still has money invested in the company building the pipeline.

Disappearance of Fair Internet Use: After the election, Breitbart.com bragged that net neutrality would be “dead” under Trump. DDT’s appointment for the Federal Communications Commission, former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, is achieving that goal by cutting the federal assistance program for low-income broadband users and refusing to defend existing FCC rules that cap inmate intrastate calling rates. He also stopped an investigation into Verizon and AT&T that offer free data for preferred apps.

USDA Purge of Animal Welfare Information: All inspection reports about monitoring of animal treatment at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities have been removed from the federal website and now accessible only through FOIA requests, requiring years for approval. That means that puppy mills and other animals abuse are back with impunity.

CNN’s Refusal to Interview Kellyanne Conway—and Its Backtracking: Last week, the White House declared a boycott on CNN, and DDT accused the news network of being “fake news” at his speech about Black History Month. The position was briefly reversed: CNN turned down the White House for a number of guests, including Kellyane Conway, to be on CNN’s State of the Union. The network declined. Conway wanted to appear to discuss her MSNBC complaint about the media not covering the fictitious “Bowling Green massacre” caused by refugees. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green (KY), but two Iraqis were arrested for donating to Al Qaeda. The situation was covered in at least 90 major newspaper articles as well as on television news. If the term “massacre” was a slip of the tongue, as Conway declared, she has had other slips about the situation in Bowling Green, including false details for an interview with Cosmopolitan. CNN told a reporter that Conway was turned down because the network has “serious questions about her credibility.” Within two days of its bravery, CNN caved, and Conway was back on the network peddling her lies—like how DDT deserved credit for not lying some of the time.

hitlerWhite Supremacists Rejoicing at White House Direction: Last week we reported on DDT’s removal of white supremacist groups from the government’s attempts to stop “homegrown” terrorism within the United States so that they are no longer targeted. The Daily Stormer, named after a Nazi propaganda publication, wrote:

“Yes, this is real life. Our memes are all real life. Donald Trump is setting us free.”

The publication sees DDT’s action as the same as their own writing and their reward for helping elect him, and their colleague, Steve Bannon, is running the White House. Bannon called himself “the platform for the Alt-Right [aka white nationalism]” when he published Breitbart.com. Just one example of joy from the white supremacists is a post on another neo-Nazi site, Infostormer:

 “We may truly have underestimated President Trump’s covert support of our Cause (at least in some form), but after this proposal, I am fully ready to offer myself in service of this glorious regime.”

Deportations: For the party supposedly supporting “family values,” the saddest piece of the new DDT regime is the massive ICE roundups of parents to separate them from their children. These sweeps, primarily in California which voted against DDT, do not target dangerous criminals. Other deportations were of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in Arizona which she reported into ICE as she always did after being caught in a workplace raid ten years ago and Francisco Alvarado who was taken from his three children and wife. Garcia de Rayos came to the U.S. when she was 14 years old, and Alvarado fled Honduras because the “Maras” gang begun in the U.S. killed several of his wife’s family members. ICE agents find their prey by following children home from school.

Among those detained are two U.S.-born children with no criminal background and another youth considered a “gang member” simply because of old speeding tickets and tattoos. Lawyers cannot find their clients because ICE refuses to reveal information about whether they have been deported. These people are not the “killers and rapists” who DDT said he would deport.

Super Bowl ads were a highlight of last Sunday. The ads—costing $10 million a minute—were remarkable. During more progressive times, many of these ads bashed women, but DDT’s ascendancy changed that focus. Check this out for a great piece on the television commercials shown last Sunday.

ryan

It’s been only three weeks, and the victorious Republicans are “moving the goal posts” of their dreams. Promises of dumping Obamacare, overhauling the tax code to benefit the rich, and funding a wall to separate Mexico are being stalemated by budget deadlines. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) bravely says that things are better between the GOP Congress and DDT, but conservatives are upset by their slow pace. The House Freedom Caucus, worried that the entire agenda will be halted until a repeal of Obamacare, doesn’t see any urgency for the task. They’re also amazed by the virulent attacks from constituents highly disturbed by the loss of the Affordable Care Act although they maintain that the protests are from big money.

Just the wall that DDT promises will run $21.6 billion, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and take almost four years. That’s $157.31 per person for everyone who paid income taxes last year–even the 63 percent of the people who don’t want the wall. And Mexico won’t be paying for the wall. Raise the tariff as DDT said? People will have to buy 36 billion avocados to pay for a wall. Then consider the problems of terrain, Native American treaties, and problems with eminent domain in Hillary Clinton territory. And maybe the fact that DDT doesn’t have an investment in construction companies for the wall. And that entire issue just one facing the Republicans in 2017.

[Correction: Although Adolf Hitler made a comment similar to the one above, he actually wrote in Mein Kampf that “they will more easily fall victim to a large lie than a small lie … the most bold and brazen lie is sure to stick.” Joseph Goebbels stated, ““If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” He also stated, “The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” ]

June 9, 2015

June Pot-pourri

Best news of the week: The gun-friendly Supreme Court may understand that enough is enough. In refusing to hear the case Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco, the Supremes have let stand a lower-court ruling that gun owners are required to keep their guns “well-regulated” by locking them up. Still standing is a 2007 San Francisco regulation requiring all guns to be locked up, disabled, and/or controlled by a trigger lock when stored in a home. The two dissenting justices are Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. A gun in the home increases the likelihood of gun related deaths, including accidental deaths, and injuries and death to children. The lower-court ruling came from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which covers my beloved state of Oregon.

Speaking fees from the GOP president: While conservatives rant about the “Clinton Cash scandal” when Hillary Clinton donates her speaking fees to charity, they ignore George W. Bush, who has been given $100,000 to $175,000 for over 200 paid speeches, putting the money into his personal account as he continues to “replenish the ol’ coffers,” according to Bush. The “coffers” are up to about $15 million dollars. One of these speeches was at the 2014 International Bowl Expo where Bush explained that “bowling is fun.” He also raked in $100,000 at a fundraiser in McKinney (TX) for a homeless shelter.

mckinney2Speaking of McKinney: Witnesses have given another side to the pool fight story in McKinney (TX) about unruly black kids who didn’t belong at the pool party. The problems started when a white couple came up to the kids—who lived in the area—and used racial slurs (“black f*ckers”), insulted them (“go back to your Section 8 housing”), and slapped the teenage girl who hosted the party after she tried to defend a 14-year-old white girl who was also at the party. The couple then called police, claiming that black kids were fighting. Eric Casebolt, now resigned from the force, shouted at the young black girl kneeling on the ground, “Get on the ground.” He immediately grabbed her hair and pushed her face down into the grass before putting his knee on her back.  On a Daily Show segment, Jessica Williams pointed out that there has been progress because “a cop pulled a gun on a group of black kids and nobody is dead.” That segment is here. Casebolt, who also pulled his gun on unarmed teens in bathing suits, was “2008 Officer of the Year.”

President Obama’s invasion of Texas: Texas citizens have received over $11 million in FEMA funds after the most recent severe flooding. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who couldn’t support aid for Sandy victims because of the “pork” and “wasteful spending” in the Disaster Relief Act of 2013, demanded money for his own state. The “pork” in the 2013 bill was to “replenish FEMA’s disaster relief fund, which funds relief from future disasters.” Other “pork” came from bribes to red state Republicans—including Texas—to pass the bill over their filibuster. Texas and Oklahoma have had over one-fourth of FEMA’s declared disasters in the past six years, Texas at 75 and Oklahoma at 45. Former Gov. Rick “I hate the federal government” Perry said after fire devastated much of his state, “It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency.”

Two sides of Ted Cruz:

“This [Disaster Relief Act of 2013] bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington–an addiction to spending money we do not have.”—2013

“Democrats and Republicans in the congressional delegation will stand as one in support of the federal government meeting its statutory obligations to provide the relief to help the Texans who are hurting.”—2015

Cruz isn’t alone in his hypocrisy. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) voted against emergency aid to Hurricane Sandy victims when he was a U.S. representative, arguing that he didn’t “think Arkansas needs to bail out the Northeast.” The Northeast bailed out Arkansas last July when Cotton got FEMA funds for his state after severe flooding. Every Colorado Republican in the House voted against post-Sandy relief before they wanted emergency funding for Colorado in September 2013.

Shocker of the week: President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy was wrong, according to his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He told the British newspaper The Times, that the plans to replace Saddam Hussein’s regime with democracy were unworkable and that he had serious concerns from the first time he heard about the idea. [After the article was published, Rumsfeld denied that he had criticized Bush or that his statements contradicted his previous positions about the Iraq War.]

Loss of the judiciary in Kansas: After Gov. Sam Brownback destroyed Kansas’ economy, he signed a bill to obliterate the state’s judiciary if is rules against a law that he likes. He went into a snit after the state supreme court ruled that the inequality between school funding for rich and poor districts was unconstitutional. The justices ordered the disparity fixed, and the legislature stripped the supreme court of its authority to appoint local chief judges and set district court budgets. Brownback and the legislature have threatened the supreme court with recall elections, splitting the court into two sections, lowering the retirement age, and creating partisan elections. If the supreme court strikes down these laws, it  loses its funding.

The week’s oddity: A ruling is imminent on the lawsuit from Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, founder of AIG, who is suing the U.S. government because it saved his company from financial ruin. He claims that the government seized his assets illegally and wants to be paid the original value of the company. Before the bailout, he was forced out of the company because he used off-the-books schemes to fake profitability and paid a $15 million fine for the crime while AIG paid $1.6 billion in penalties. James Millstein, the Treasury official who oversaw AIG’s restructuring, said about AIG:

“The AIG which came begging to the Fed’s doorstep was the AIG that Hank Greenberg built. Its capital structure was opaque, it was heavily dependent on short-term funding, with a highly leveraged financial products subsidiary that had been organized to evade effective regulatory oversight. [Greenberg] ran the parent company like a hedge fund with a triple A rating.”

AIG had gone to other lenders before, in a last resort, it went to the federal government. It would receive $85 billion for an 80 percent stake in the company and the option of additional lending. The U.S. Treasury took AIG’s offer. Greenberg’s lawyer is David Boies, whose career includes getting George W. Bush appointed to president for his first term and saving marriage equality in California. Judge Thomas Wheeler is a George W. Bush appointee. A Greenberg win could undo the entire financial bailout, possibly forcing every bailed-out bank, no matter how successful, into receivership. Greenberg just wants $40 billion.

GOP problem with losing “Obamacare”: With the Supreme Court judgment on King v. Burwell, everyone is getting nervous, especially the GOP legislators who can’t figure out what to do if the Supremes do what the GOP wants. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) wrote:

“Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.”

The lawsuit to do away with subsidies in states that use the federal exchanges is funded by a conservative organization, promoted by conservative think tanks and conservative law professors, and backed by many top Republicans including several of Thune’s GOP colleagues. The minority of lower court judges siding with the plaintiffs are all Republicans. Only Republican-appointed justices are expected to vote for the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court, and the majority of the justices are Republicans. The lead attorney for the plaintiffs boasted that he does not plan to “lose any Republican-appointed judges’ votes” when his argument was being considered by a lower court. The Republicans are most likely more nervous after a poll shows that 55 percent of the respondents don’t want the subsidies taken away by the Supreme Court.

“News” that people can’t trust: Journalism is expensive which is why newspapers publish information that corporations send them. CNN plans to sell air time to corporations for in-house programs that look and feel like news but actually present the corporate PR goals and narrative. The new CNN advertorial program will be called “Courageous.” Corporations will be willing to pay for programming on “Courageous” in order to trade on the perception—from some—about CNN‘s “trustworthiness” and unwillingness to “blur the lines.”

Owned by Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, CNN already published 18 “original series” last year, 17 of them sponsored by a corporation. CNN’s in-house studio will produce “news-like content on behalf of advertisers” to reflect marketers’ growing desire for articles and videos that feel like editorial work. “Courageous” will highlight “news,” such as the building of a manufacturing plant or a philanthropic effort, according to Otto Bell, the lead of the studio and former creative director at OgilvyEntertainment. Dan Riess, executive vice president of integrated marketing and branded content at Turner, said, “This isn’t about confusing editorial with advertising. This is about telling advertisers’ stories.” Oh, sure.

[Note: Nobody pays me for writing this blog. It’s just my perception of the world!]

May 7, 2014

Climate Change Naysayers Won’t Face Facts

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:51 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The release of a scientific report on climate change yesterday has brought out the naysayers, who are working hard to keep people from being educated.  Bill Nye, who debated Kenneth Ham about a variety of issues including climate change, went on CNN Crossfire to talk about the existence of global warming. Ham may be remembered as the founder of a state-supported museum in Kentucky that purports people and dinosaurs lived at the same time.

Although the debate was supposed to be with conservative Nicholas Loris, host S.E. Cupp joined Loris in bashing global warming. She accused Nye, co-host Van Jones, and President Obama’s administration of using “scare tactics” against the public regarding climate change. Both Loris and Cupp used the tired argument that only 97 percent of scientists agree that human driven global climate change is real.

Bill Nye is a scientist; Cupp and Loris aren’t. Loris works for the Heritage Foundation, leader of the climate change denying that is funded by the Koch brothers. Among the wealthiest people in the world, the Kochs oppose any belief in human-caused climate changed to keep adding to their vast wealth. Their money comes from polluting industries that plunder the earth’s resources. Heritage Foundation would lose substantial donations if they didn’t present Nye as an alarmist with the goal of destroying Big Business.

Loris tried to take the middle ground by saying:

“I’m not a denier, I’m not a skeptic. What I’m saying is, climate is changing—yes, man-made emission are in some part to that—but we haven’t seen these extreme weather event trends. The observed data doesn’t prove that.”

He ignores the extreme high temperatures, droughts, floods, and super storms across the United States within the past few years. The following map shows a frightening increase in temperature.

temperature increase

 

Paying attention to the facts of climate change, however, detracts from his bottom line that he thinks regulations would hurt the nation’s economy. He may have missed the following paragraph from the NCA report:

“Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington state and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience. So, too, are coastal planners in Florida, water managers in the arid Southwest, city dwellers from Phoenix to New York and native peoples on tribal lands from Louisiana to Alaska.”

Other changes identified in the NCA for just the Northeast:

Sea levels are eight inches higher on average–in the Northeast, a foot higher—changing the frequency of coastal flooding. This compromises the aging infrastructure along the Northeast coast such as I-95, railroads, electrical substations, and wastewater treatment plants.

Downpours from intense storms have a 70-percent increase since the middle of the last century.

precipitation

About 40 percent more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than before the Industrial Revolution warms the planet, changing the amount of moisture in the atmosphere and causing the expanding oceans to rise.

In response, New York City is considering such possibilities as elevating the critical infrastructure, raising homes, expanding wetland areas, planting more trees, and putting in cooling centers for times of heat waves. Maine is expanding the size of drainage pipes to accommodate heavier rainstorms.

At one point, Cupp argues that only 36 percent of people in the United States think that climate change demonstrates a negative impact. Nye answered:

“How do you want to get public consensus? By saying that it is not happening? That is not serious? That shorelines aren’t flooding?”

He asked Cupp and Loris what would change their minds about the threat posed by climate change. Loris answered better science—which can be found in the NCA. Nye pointed out that he and Cupp didn’t agree on the facts, but she interrupted him to blame the “science guys [who] attempt to bully other people. Nick here had to say, ‘I’m not a denier.’ He had to get it out: ‘I’m not a denier.’ Because really, the science group has tried to shame anyone who dares question this, and the point I’m trying to make is, it’s not working with the public.”

By “public,” Cupp means Republicans. Last fall, only 50 percent, probably because of the misinformation from CNN and Fox,  said there was solid evidence of rising temperatures on earth. At least that’s down from 59 percent in 2006.   Jon Huntsman, GOP presidential candidate in 2012, wrote for The New York Times:

“If Republicans can get to a place where science drives our thinking and actions, then we will be able to make progress. Republicans need to get back to our foundational roots as catalysts for innovation and problem solving.”

The public may start worry when they run out of water. The following maps don’t even consider the loss of water to the ever present fracking.

water stress use this oneThe public response to climate change most likely comes from the ignorance that is spewed on conservative networks. George Will said on Fox network that is no evidence for the increase in extreme weather.

Always looking for a conspiracy, Fox network suggested that the climate report, a legally-mandated document, might be intended “to distract Americans” from the “multiple scandals swirling around the administration.” Another co-host of the program repeated Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) claim that the climate change report is “part of the game the president is playing” to distract Americans from “his unchecked regulatory agenda.” Fox always attributes any news other than the conservative-manufactured scandals to a cover-up. Other presidential “distractions,” according to Fox, are efforts to reduce  income inequality, reform filibuster, and change immigration policies.

Like human rights, climate change comes down to a vote. Limiting human rights may not be constitutional, but the U.S. Supreme Court just ruled that a vote of the people in Michigan is good enough to eliminate affirmative action. If enough people don’t agree that something should be done about climate change, then the United States should just let the planet disintegrate, according to conservatives.

One small victory for slowing down climate change came from a recent Supreme Court decision. Much to the amazement of most people in the nation, six justices supported an EPA policy to regulate power-plant pollution cross state lines. According to SCOTUS, states such as Connecticut and New York can be protected from Rust Belt and Appalachian states blowing soot, smog, and other toxins in the west-to-east winds. Justice Antonin Scalia said the regulation was Marxist, but he was one of only two voting against the decision, the other—of course—being Clarence Thomas. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself.

March 23, 2014

Religion Tied to Contraception, Missing Aircraft, Teaching, Parades

Two big religious stories are in the news this week. One is the question of whether private businesses who declare themselves as “religious persons” have the right to deny employees equal health care to that from other businesses. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga maintain that they shouldn’t have to allow their insurance to cover free contraception because they are opposed to contraception. The case goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The 2,000 sisters of the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN) oppose the denial of contraception. Their position is that any group denying contraception in insurance is equivalent to holding women hostage.

In support of the Affordable Care Act provision that mandates birth control coverage, NCAN wrote:

“NCAN is dismayed that the Little Sisters of the Poor, the University of Notre Dame and other Catholic organizations are challenging the Affordable Care Act. Spurred on by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops these organizations are attempting to hold hostage all women by refusing insurance to them for contraceptives.”

Sister Donna Quinn, head of NCAN, said:

“This has gotten out of hand. It isn’t ‘faith and freedom’ when reproductive autonomy isn’t extended by the Catholic Church to women… It isn’t freedom when a woman can be held hostage by the owner of a business.”

The nuns aren’t just writing about the problem. They are circulating an online petition to the U.S. Supreme Court and holding a Faith Rally in front of the Supreme Court building on March 25. The petition states:  “The sin is not a person using birth control. The sin is denying women the right and the means to plan their families.” Fourteen religious denominations support free access to birth control as well as the women who are not affiliated with religions.

The second issue is the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.CNN and Fox are determined to connect the disaster with religious beliefs. CNN’s anchor Don Lemon has possible answers for the disappearance. One was a “supernatural” event in which God took it (maybe that it like the rapture! Another was the possibility of a “black hole.”

Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter, blogged that this disappearance is a “small snapshot” of what will happen with the Rapture when millions of Christians miraculously disappear. At least, CNN didn’t use this “information” as “news.”

Fox “News” Bill Hemmer used historic comparisons to discuss the long time it may take to find the aircraft. “It took us what 100 years to find the Titanic? It took us 2,000 years to find Noah’s Ark. Do we ever find Flight 370?” The first is true; the second highly questionable and totally inappropriate when announcing the news. Joe Coscarelli explained that Hemmer was referring to Evangelical Christian explorers, who claimed to have uncovered evidence of the boat’s existence—claims determined to be a hoax even by Fox News.

Bill Maher gave his own version of Noah’s Ark, calling God a “psychotic mass murderer” and the United States a “stupid country” for their belief that the biblical story is factual. Fundamental Christians took offense. Bryan Fischer argued that the story of Noah’s Ark is true and shows human free will choices that forced God to kill very living thing. Maher can say these things and live, said Fischer, because God is merciful, compassionate, and loving. God is patiently giving Maher a chance to repent and ask forgiveness, according to Fischer.

Other people who accept myths as facts are incensed about Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the television sequel to Carl Sagan’s 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, hosted and narrated by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The creationist Answers in Genesis complained that Cosmos is not balanced because it doesn’t give airtime for creationism. Cosmos covers a wide range of scientific topics from Earth’s place in the universe to the origin of life. Tyson explained his concept of scientific balance: “You don’t talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let’s give equal time to the flat-earthers.”

A Buddhist student and his parents have won a lawsuit against Negreet High School in Louisiana after the court found that the school violated the student’s religious liberty. According to the decision, sixth-grade science teacher Rita Roark violated the First Amendment when she demanded biblical answers from science questions and called the student “stupid” because he didn’t know religious answers to questions such as the age of the earth. She also maintained in class that evolution is a “stupid theory made up by stupid people who don’t want to believe in God.” When the student’s parents complained, Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebab told them to change their faith to fit “the Bible Belt” or go to another school where “there are more Asians.”

Louisiana District Judge Elizabeth Foote ordered the school to remove all of the Christian propaganda—pictures of Jesus, posters, Bible verses, official prayers, etc.  from the premises. School officials cannot initiate prayers, use class work to promote religion, sponsor a religious belief, or hold religious services at the school. Students are still permitted to pray in school and participate in religious clubs. Further:

“The District and School Board are permanently enjoined from permitting School Officials at any school within the School District to promote their personal religious beliefs to students in class or during or in conjunction with a School Event… School Officials shall not denigrate any particular faith, or lack thereof, or single out any student for disfavor or criticism because of his or her particular faith or religious belief, or lack thereof.”

The ruling demanded that the school pay $4,000 in damages to the student’s parents as well as $40,000 in court costs, a large sum for a school of a little over 500 in a district with about 4,300 students.

In another story from Louisiana, Randy Dill wants to see the Holy Bible made the “official state book,” and he persuaded Rep. Thomas Carmody to file a bill that would make this law. They both think they can succeed because the bible is Alabama’s state bible. Do I sense more lawsuits?

Murfreesboro (TN) has already spent $343,000 in a losing lawsuit to keep the Muslims from building a mosque. Now plaintiffs have gone back to court to stop the “construction and improvement of the cemetery.” The ad at the top of the article reads: “Nobody cares for you like a neighbor.”

Parade bigots who refuse to let LGBT people openly march could take a lesson from NYC Pride, the organization behind New York City’s gay pride parade. The Catholic League, led by bigot Bill Donohue applied for a float in this year’s parade with the banner, “Straight Is Great.” No problem, said the parade coordinators. “Straight is great—as long as there’s no hate.” As NYC Pride’s managing director, Chris Frederick, said:

“Straight allies are great. We have thousands of straight people participating in the Pride March, including Catholic groups, who support LGBT youth, families and married couples.”

Meanwhile Donohue has called on Catholics to boycott Guinness, Sam Adams, and Heineken because he thinks that the LGBT community bullied them to drop their sponsorship for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston. According to religious people, the First Amendment only works when it’s in their favor.

September 5, 2012

Democratic Convention 2012 – Day One, Masterful

While the “We Built That”  theme of the GOP Convention 2012 was hateful and snarky, playing off a misinterpretation of a President Obama speech, the theme of the Democratic Convention 2012 is upbeat—“Americans Coming Together.” Although the people are the United States are polarized, President Obama has brought together everyone–women, minorities, youth, liberal older people, etc.– except the angry old white men.

Last night when the Democratic convention started, I was a bit apprehensive after being immersed in last week’s negativity and hatred of last week. The first speech I heard was from Tammy Duckworth, candidate for the House in Illinois. A returned Iraq veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, she now helps other veterans. Just as Republicans talked about their families last week, Duckworth talked about the way that she worked as a teenager to help support her family who had to have food stamps to survive. Republicans told about how their parents struggled; Duckworth talked about how this generation need a safety net to improve. She also said that a member of her family had been in every U.S. conflict since the Revolutionary War.

Last week, nobody talked about veterans or soldiers or the war except for John McCain who wants another disastrous war. Duckworth talked about how her fellow comrades saved her life because what’s what soldiers do. Her message was that we do for our country what her crew did for her. She also said, “Look adversity in the eye and come together to overcome it.”

I told my partner about Duckworth’s speech, and she joined me for the next one. The next speaker was a young woman from Phoenix (AZ), Stacy Lihn, who talked about how the Affordable Care Act saved her infant daughter because the ACA had removed the insurance caps. Mitt Romney said that the best day for the people who voted for Obama was the day that they cast the vote; Lihn said that the best day was when the Affordable Care Act passed and removed the insurance caps so that her infant daughter could have heart surgery. My partner and I were both hooked.

Lihn was followed by Secretary of State Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius who said that after President Obama was elected, “Being a mother is no longer a liability and being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.” She pointed out that people are getting refunds from the insurance company because they have to use a specific percentage for providing health care. She also said, “What’s missing from the Romney/Ryan Medicare Medicare plan is Medicare.”

The messages about how things are better since 2008 kept coming. Kal Penn, actor and former White House official, talked about the importance of the Pell grants for students and the jobs that his friends got with a car company that exists because of President Obama. He also described how the president kept the GOP from eliminating tax credits for the middle class when Republicans were bargaining to raise the debt ceiling. Lilly Ledbetter, prevented by the Supreme Court from filing a salary discrimination suit although she didn’t know about the discrimination for over 20 years, said in that wonderful Southern voice, “What a difference four years make!”

As Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said, “What’s at stake is the American dream. That dream is essential to who we are as a nation.” He described Romney’s disastrous governance in the state was with education cuts, increases in business taxes, loss in business confidence, and poor job creation. According to Patrick, freedom means keeping government out of our private affairs. Romney is “a fine fellow and a great salesman,” Patrick said, but “he’s more interested in having the job than doing the job.

And the upbeat speeches kept coming: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley described how the progress of the nation since George W. Bush, repeating “forward, not back” until the crowd chanted the refrain. Julian Castro, San Antonio’s mayor, gave a great speech about his mother and grandmother while he explained that, like Duckworth, he had achieved what he has done because of this country.

The tissues rolled out again when Elaine Byre, four out of five children in the military service and the fifth heading that way, talked about how the president helped bring the soldiers “honor and respect in action.” She met Michelle Obama after she wrote her a card last Christmas and got invited to the White House with her husband. Byre said she’s not even a political person but she’s a mom. “If somebody is there for my family and families like mine, then I’ll be there for them.” Her relationship with Michelle Obama shows that the First Lady walks her talk: “We were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.”

The hit of the night, however, was Michelle Obama and her magnificent energy and love for her husband. Her funny stories about their financial struggles far outdid those of Ann Romney: Barack Obama took her out on a date in his car with the hole in the floorboard so rusted that you could see the pavement below; Obama’s favorite coffee table was one that he found in a dumpster; and his best shoes were actually one-half size too small. When they got married, their combined student loan payments were larger than their mortgage. She talked from the heart, saying that she loved her husband instead of telling the audience that they should love and trust her husband the way that Ann Romney did. Her message was that the way that the president tries to make life better for people because it’s personal to him, not political. “When you walk through that door of opportunity, you don’t slam it shut. No, you give other folks the chance to succeed,” Michelle Obama said. “Doing the impossible is the history of this nation.”

And these were just the tip of the massive iceberg that rolled over the GOP blackness. Over and over people made the point that to get change, you have to keep working. It’s a long term thing.

I missed the first part of the speeches but read what Don Hamel‘s description. His blog is well worth reading. He wrote that, as a middle-aged heterosexual man, he listened to the speeches from Anthony R. Foxx, the young looking African-American mayor of Charlotte; the women of the U.S. House of Representatives; Rep. Jared Polis, the first openly gay parent to serve in the House; and the president of NARAL who talked about the battle over women’s reproductive rights. Hamel then described the audience as “a sea of faces of every color, people who wanted to discuss Muslim’s rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, voter disenfranchisement, every one of them with a seemingly different agenda.”

After watching all this, Hamel had an epiphany. He said, “It’s not tolerance that makes me support the rights of LGBT Americans; it’s love of country, as well as respect for its citizens. If you believe in America, you believe in it for everybody. And it’s practical, as well; your rights are only as safe as everyone else’s. I’m not tolerant of women’s rights to make choices about their own bodies; I’m insistent that everyone in my country has that right. And if anyone’s freedom can be taken away, so can yours.”

He concluded by writing that he is “not tolerant of the Tea Party, the Ayn Rand disciples, the people who will spend a 100 million dollars to avoid paying a dollar in taxes. Their values are not ‘traditional’ or ‘Christian,’ and the only ‘family’ they truly value is their own. The people who arm themselves against their countrymen, the ones who legislate by skin-tone or income size; we have given them all the attention they should be allowed. They’re to be feared or pitied, but they needn’t be listened to any longer. The Americans at the podium, and the Americans in the crowd all have many voices, but they are all saying the same thing as I am: Move America forward.” [Thanks, Don!]

Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland summarized the difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney in very blunt terms. As he said, “If Mitt Romney was Santa Claus, he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.”

Deval Patrick encouraged the Democrats to grow a backbone to get President Obama re-elected. Last night started this process.

Asides: Fact checking has now reached a new low. FactCheck.org refuted San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s claim that Romney would “raise taxes on the middle class” was false because Romney had promised he wouldn’t do this. This is the same Romney who consistently switches from one position to another, the most recent today when he stated that he would not support any abortions, even to save a woman’s life. Yesterday he disagreed with himself.

Ezra Klein said that last night’s speeches may be remembered as the turning point in health care politics when “Democrats stood up and began fighting for their health care law.”

Less than two years ago, Paul Ryan asked for a health care grant to develop a new facility in his district at Racine (WI).

CNN contributor Erick Erickson referred to the women speakers at the Democratic convention as “the Vagina Monologues.” Erickson, who once said he “kind of like[d] the idea” that women are barred from a golf club so that he wasn’t “hanging out at some women’s event,” half-heartedly expressed regret for his comment, saying “My apologies to those offended by my tweet. Wasn’t my intention.” (He doesn’t sound very sorry.)

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