Nel's New Day

December 14, 2014

Schools, Textbooks Promote Religion, Ignorance

The Fox network thinks that civics education in the United States is so important that high school students should be forced to pass the citizenship test for immigrants before they graduate. Brian Kilmeade, Fox and Friends, is distressed that some people don’t know who fought in the Civil War. He’s right, according to a survey at Texas Tech, with over 84 percent of its students coming from the school’s home state.

Recently, the media has explored what Texas schools teach—and what they want to teach. The state board of education just finished the excruciating task of deciding on the content of textbooks and curriculum with a heavy dose of wishful religious instruction. The end result is approval of 89 textbooks for the state’s more than 5 million children.

The Texas textbooks that board members choose have a big impact on the rest of the nation. Publishers don’t want to create one set of textbooks for Texas and one for the real world; therefore, the other 49 states suffer from one state’s bad decision. Once textbooks are purchased, they are kept for many years because of poor school funding.

Critics say the approved social studies and history textbooks in Texas overemphasize the role that Christianity and biblical figures while ignoring constitutional provisions against the state establishing religion. World geography textbooks downplay the role that armed conquest played in the spread of Christianity and misrepresent fundamental points of other major religions.

Battles over textbook content in Texas included climate change, the role of slavery in the Civil War, Islam, and biblical influence in America’s founding. Climate denial and “offensive cartoons comparing beneficiaries of affirmative action to space aliens” were taken out of the proposed textbooks, but references to Moses as an influence on the Constitution and the Old Testament as the root of democracy stayed in. Out is negative stereotyping of Muslims; in is greater clarity that slavery caused the Civil War. So far, so good except for Moses writing the U.S. Constitution.

Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition also lost a reduced coverage of civil rights promoting “racial politics” (according to the group) and the push to include information about Young Earth Creationism. The board kept the coalition’s desire to include the falsehood that the Old Testament provided the “roots of democracy.”

The above information may not be entirely accurate: changes were made so close to the board meeting that the members who voted textbooks in or out probably don’t know their content. The textbooks may be more accurate than Fox or the coalition wants, but Texas does not require schools to use textbooks. Some publicly funded charter schools are teaching the following misinformation.

  • Evolution is “dogma” and an “unproved theory” with no experimental basis; leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth.
  • There is “uncertainty” in the fossil record because of the “lack of a single source for all the rock layers.”
  • Because the Loch Ness is real, it disproves evolution.
  • The samurai led Japan’s military aggression in World War II. [The samurai class was abolished in 1876 after the Meiji Restoration; there were no samurai after World War I.]
  • The Philippines is composed of “Catholics, Moslems [sic], and pagans in various stages of civilization.”
  • Feminism forced women to turn to the government as a “surrogate husband.”
  • “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
  • The West in the 1400s and 1500s was “quantum leaps” ahead of “native peoples,” including Ming Dynasty China.
  • The West was superior to “native populations” in battles because “Aztec chiefs and Moor sultans alike were completely vulnerable to massed firepower, yet without the legal framework of republicanism and civic virtue like Europe’s to replace its leadership cadre.
  • The monarchy of 16th-century Spain was a form of republican government that was superior to anything that “native peoples” had created.
  • The Iraq War was the “pinnacle” of the “western way of war.”
  • Secretary of State John Kerry’s receiving the Purple Heart and Bronze Star was “suspect at best.”
  • “Anti-Christian bias” coming out of the Enlightenment was a cause of World War I.
  • President George W. Bush banned stem-cell research because it was done “primarily with the cells from aborted babies.” [The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine pointed out that this is impossible.]
  • “The New Deal had not helped the economy. However, it ushered in a new era of dependency on the Federal government.”
  • President Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam War draft dodgers out of “a misguided sense of compassion.”
  • And my favorite: A person’s values are based on solely his or her religious beliefs.

Some of the training for teachers in these schools comes from the Traditional Values Coalition that has the header, “Say NO to Obama. Stop Sharia in America.” The Responsive Educations Solutions charter system operates over 65 campuses with over 17,000 in Texas, Arkansas, and Indiana. The system receives $82 million in taxpayer money every year.

The newly elected lieutenant governor of Texas is a creationist who wants to pass a law allowing Christianity to be taught in public schools. He said, “We need to stand for what this nation was founded upon, which is the word of God.”

Students following this curriculum might not only fail Fox networks’s test but also fail to even read the tests. A report from the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes stated that the curriculum in these “had a significant negative impact on student reading gains and a non-significant effect in math.”

Fox’s Steve Doocy wants all people to take the same citizenship test before they vote. (He evidently hasn’t read the U.S. Constitution lately.) There was only one reason that the country has ever required passing a test to vote: to eliminate blacks from voting in the South. Recently, a group of Harvard students took the literacy test required by Louisiana in 1964. They all failed.

If Fox wants anyone tested in the United States, they need to start telling the truth and requiring all schools in the United States to teach it.

October 28, 2014

Cats Not Republicans; Fox Bemoans Cheap Gas

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 6:41 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

If you’re ready for a little political humor, Messaging Matters has 12 reasons why cats are not Republicans.

  1. catCats are curious about what you do in your bedroom, but they don’t try to legislate away your freedom to do it.
  2. Cats may take away your cushion, but they’ll give it back to you with a gentle push.
  3. Cats give you attention and sympathy when you’re sick.
  4. Females are treated with importance in the cat world.
  5. Cats make use of solar power, often all day long.
  6. Cats lick their own problems and take care of other cats too.
  7. Cats don’t blame black and brown cats for their troubles.
  8. Cats know how to ration their resources.
  9. Fat cats are not at the top of the cat hierarchy, are not cat role models, and have more trouble surviving and thriving, not less.
  10. While Republicans blindly follow authority, it is said that getting Democrats to act in unison is like herding cats.
  11. Cats don’t foul their own nest.
  12. Cats are popular and well-liked on the Internet and elsewhere.

And one more: cats believe in diversity.

cat_dog

mouse_cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

More photos here. Photos: top right by Crazy Ivory; above with dog by Szilvia Pap-Kutasi; above with mouse by Frank Hinsberger.

My favorite Fox network story this week:

During President Obama’s two terms, he has been blamed for high gas prices despite the shifts in these being caused by global market conditions, demand of seasonal changes, and other factors under the president’s control. The Associated Press, which tends to lean right in its reporting, has a study of 36 years that compares monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and domestic oil production. The result: “No statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.” Over two years ago, 92 percent of economists surveyed by the Chicago Booth School of Business agreed that “changes in U.S. gasoline prices over the past 10 years have predominantly been due to market factors rather than U.S. federal economic or energy policies.” More experts here. Even Fox’s far-right John Stossel admitted that U.S. energy policy “doesn’t make that much of a difference” in gas prices.

In the first two months of 2012, Fox network blamed high gas prices on the president more than three times than the other major news outlets combined, as well as distorting charts and claiming that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to move oil across the United States for export would lower gas prices. One of the network’s “experts” was Eric Bolling, former minor league baseball player and major Wall Street oil and energy futures trader.

Gas prices went up the next summer, as they always do, and Fox gleefully reported on how Mitt Romney’s energy plan was the solution. They used former Shell Oil executive John Hofmeister as an expert to explain why gas prices are high although he didn’t point out that it was because his own company jacked up the prices to make more money and elect Republicans. Bill O’Reilly told the Romney campaign to use these prices for an attack on Barack Obama, a reversal from his position in the last year of the Bush administration that if “you hear a politicians say he or she will bring down oil prices, understand it’s complete BS.”

Fox now warns that cheap gas is bad–maybe “a sign of a weakening economy” (that didn’t happen) or “a sign of a looming global economic crisis.”

cheap gas

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.

April 20, 2014

Fox Declares War on Religious Freedom amid Easter, Passover Celebrations

Several religious celebrations—or at least commemorations—took place during the past week.

Exodus_MapPassover began last Monday and lasts until Tuesday night, also Earth Day. The festival, which always begins on the night of the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (about March 21), is a remembrance of the Jewish liberation in ancient Egypt over 3,300 years ago when God delivered the Jews from the Pharohs. According to the story, Moses led his people across the desert for 40 years before they came to the Promised Land.

Last Tuesday, I was privileged to attend a Seder with six other women. This structured event includes eating proscribed foods and retelling the story of the exodus. The focus of a Seder is the Jewish freedom from slavery, but our leader added the dimensions of feminism, humanism, and Buddhism with a large dash of humor. We read aloud the Haggadah that she had prepared, answering the four questions addressing the issue of what sets apart that night and talking about other rituals connected with the Seder.

I have no Jewish heritage, but the meaning of the Seder applies to all peoples. As our leader wrote:

“In modern times, the Passover Seder is again imbued with fresh meaning, in which we are called to consider the plight of all oppressed beings, human and non-human of the world and to reconfirm our commitment to make their struggles our own….

“In Judaism, there is a concept of tikkum olam, which means healing the world, which is one approach to bringing about an Age of Peace. It’s about each person’s responsibility to do what we can to help make the world a better place. We can do that by trying to be loving and kind and contributing some of our time, talent, and treasure toward helping out where we find the opportunity. We hope we can leave the world a little better than it was when we came to it.”

Sharing this tribute to an ancient story that still rings true today has made me more thoughtful about life’s connections and richer in my experiences.

Holy Week this year occurred at almost the same time as Passover. This last week of Lent, including Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, leads up to Easter.

Easter, like Passover,is based on the Hebrew lunar calendar. The date is always the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox. Both Passover and Easter are taken from Pagan celebrations surrounding the return of light in spring. Early Christians took the philosophy that Pagans would be more likely to accept the new religion if it kept their Pagan practices.

The name Easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, Ostera or Eostre, who was annually celebrated for thousands of years before the birth of Christ. Colored eggs represent the light of spring. Egyptians, Persians, and Chinese all had customs of coloring eggs, and a Babylonian legend refers to the “queen of heaven” coming from a giant egg that fell from the sky. Pope Paul V (1605-16021) referred to the “wholesome sustenance” of the egg “in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Bunnies, another Easter symbol, represent fertility. Somehow, Easter celebrates the rabbit, which births live young, supposedly produces Easter eggs. Thus a Pagan symbol for new life is somehow tied to the resurrection of Jesus and a story about a bunny laying eggs.

The Unholy War on Easter is a conservative celebration during the time before Easter. Not satisfied with declaring that progressives have declared wars on Halloween and Christmas, Fox network devoted ten segments to what Bill O’Reilly called the continued “war on Judeo-Christian tradition.” Fox’s accusations:

  • O’Reilly said, “The goal is to marginalize religious opposition to secular programs.” His complaint was that President Obama and the White House empowered “secular progressives” to pressure school districts around the country to eliminate terms like “Easter bunny” and “Easter egg.”
  • Fox & Friends First replayed O’Reilly’s ranting, and co-host Heather Nauert asked, “What the heck is a Spring egg anyway?”
  • Fox & Friends Sunday guest co-host Jesse Watters echoed O’Reilly’s remarks and accused people who want to remove the word Easter from school activities of causing pain to most people.
  • The Fox Five co-host Eric Bolling declared an attack on Easter when the principal of an Alabama middle school directed her school to not call an egg hunt an “Easter egg” hunt in order to respect others’ religion.
  • Six segments appeared on March 27 about the Alabama school’s decision twice, asking for audience opinion and ridiculing the way that the principal talked.
  • Gretchen Carlson said that that the last week had only two religious celebrations, Passover and Easter. She said the problem would be solved if both of them were included. She missed these.

April 13-16: Water Festivals – Buddhism (a cleansing ritual to welcome the new year)
April 14: Baisakhi New Year – Sikh
April 15: Lord’s Evening Meal – Jehovah’s Witness (memorial of Christ’s death)
April 15: Hanuman Jayanti – Hindu (a celebration of the birth of Hanuman, the Vanara god)
April 21: First Day of Ridvan  – Bahá’í (the commencement of Bahá’u’lláh’s prophethood)
April 22: Ardavisht – Zoroastrian (the day to pay tribute to Fire or other sources that illuminate)

  • Father of the war against Easter, Bill O’Reilly, concluded the week’s war with stating that “Christianity is on the run in this country,” and “You rarely see those kinds of assaults against Jews or Muslims.” He also claimed that “the 10 percent who would be upset by the Easter bunny, they should be institutionalized, by the way.”

jesusIn protest against the lack of separation of church and state, the Freedom from Religion Foundation first posted an anti-Easter sign in the Wisconsin state capital and then put up two eight-foot banners featuring Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

5x8-Thomas-Jefferson-banner_proof2 left

freedom from religion

 

 

 

The display countered the Jesus in Daley Plaza with a 10-food image of the deity and a 19-foot cross. Fox network says that expressing a position other Christianity in the public square is an “unholy” attack on Christianity; the founding fathers would certainly disagree.

Warren (MI) Mayor Jim Fouts believes so much in freedom of religion that he let a Christian group put a “Prayer Station” inside City Hall. When Freedom from Religion asked to have a “Reason Station” to promote separation of church and state with secular thought, reason, and logic, Fouts explained that only the Christian station is protected under the First Amendment. He said, “I emphasize one thing. The government cannot restrict an individual’s freedom of speech, but an individual cannot restrict the government’s freedom of speech.” Maybe the government, like corporations, will become persons.

One final comment about the gorgeous “blood moon” on the first night of Passover. At least one Christian is making a lot of money on it by promoting fear among fundamentalist Christians who reject scientific reasons for natural phenomena. Pastor John Hagee, has released a book, bringing his total to over 30, to explain how this event signifies the coming of the Rapture that sweeps all god-fearing Christians off to the heavens while the rest of us stay here to burn. Author of books such as Earth’s Final Moments and Jerusalem Countdown, Hagee heads up San Antonio’s mega-church Cornerstone Church and a multi-million-dollar media empire. His money, that he gets from both the rich and the poor, helps him control GOP politics and funded the largest pro-Israel religious-based lobbying group in the world.

His founding of the 1.3 million member Christians United for Israel (CUFI) has made him one of 50 people having the greatest influence over the GOP’s foreign policy, according to Foreign Policy magazine. His hawkish approach supports a war-like opposition to Iran if Israel should decide to act aggressively toward the country. Researcher and writer Rachel Tabachnick described Hagee’s philosophy:

“Christian Zionists view themselves as ‘fishers’ who must befriend and persuade Jews to move to Israel before the ‘time of the hunters.’ Hunters are those who will violently force the remaining Jews around the world to leave their respective nations and flee to Israel.”

Hagee’s new book, Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change, points out that all four eclipses during this 18-month period occur within Jewish celebrations. April 15, 2014 and April 4, 2015 are during Passover, and October 8, 2014 and September 28, 2015 take place during the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. His conclusion is “that a rapture will occur where Christians will be taken to heaven, Israel will go to war in a great battle called Armageddon, and Jesus will return to earth.” Something will happen in the Middle East within the next two years that will change history.

As proof of his theory, Hagee cites Acts 2:19-20: “And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.” His book is #4 on the New York Times best-seller list in the “how to” section, and he won’t be proved wrong in his prophecies because he has no specific timeline. He just gets to keep raking in money from the ignorant.

While fundamentalist Christian leaders bilk their followers out of billions without paying their fair share of taxes, we’ll look forward to see what the coming year brings. I prefer the Seder approach of moving toward freedom and peace.

April 16, 2014

Extremists Hope to Find Martyr in Cliven Bundy

Conservative constantly talk about deporting and even killing immigrants because “they’re breaking the law” They claim that following the law much be done at all costs. Other laws aren’t as important to them, however. A showdown this week in Nevada gives a very different impression of the law-abiding Tea Party members.

It started 20 years ago when the federal government asked rancher Cliven Bundy to stop grazing his cattle on federal land about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Farmers and ranchers must obtain permits and pay for each head of cattle that they put on federal lands. Bundy refused to pay his fees or remove his cattle. His permits were revoked, and he didn’t apply for any more.

Five years later, in 1998, the government issued a court order telling Bundy to remove his cows from the land and pay fees and a fine. The court order also included a charge of $200 per day for each head of cattle that stayed on the federal lands. Bundy did nothing.

Fifteen years later, in October 2013, the federal government went back to court because Bundy had not followed court orders.  The new order gave Bundy 45 days before the United States had the right to impound the cattle. By that time, Bundy had not followed the earlier court order, but he had extended the range of his grazing, trespassing on more federal lands. A court order gave the government the right to impound those cattle that Bundy refused to remove.

Bundy’s position is that “I don’t recognize [the] United States government as even existing.”  Government officials collected about 400 head of cattle before heavily armed extremist conservatives, including two Nevada affiliates of the Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity, gathered around Bundy’s ranch. They threatened to kill the government officials if they didn’t turn the cattle loose. U.S. officials backed off to maintain public safety and released the cattle, approximately half the number that Bundy was running on federal lands.

Extremists went away with the message that they can block the enforcement of U.S. laws and court orders by facing them down with a self-appointed armed “militia.”

There will undoubtedly be more to this story. Bundy and his extremist friends may think that they have won, but this was just a battle. The war is yet to come. Future battles, easily lost by Bundy, can include voiding his auctioning license and sales permits or lein his property. They can even pick off his cattle from a safe distance.

Another future for Bundy and some of his supporters could be jail, possibly followed by prison.

  • Contempt of Court: Bundy refused to follow court orders for almost two decades in “an act of disobedience or disrespect towards the judicial branch of the government, or an interference with its orderly process.” He also rallied supporters to put up armed resistance to keep the law from enforcing the orders. A judge could jail him until he complies with the court’s order.
  • Threats To Federal Officials: Anyone who “threatens to assault, kidnap, or murder, a United States official, a United States judge [or] a Federal law enforcement officer . . . with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with such official, judge, or law enforcement officer while engaged in the performance of official duties, or with intent to retaliate against such official, judge, or law enforcement officer on account of the performance of official duties” may be fined or imprisoned for up to 10 years.
  • Bringing Guns To Nevada: According to state law, people bringing weapons into the state, “knowing or having reason to know or intending that the same will be used unlawfully in furtherance of a civil disorder,” may be fined or imprisoned for up to five years. A civil disorder is defined as “any public disturbance involving acts of violence by assemblages of three or more persons, which causes an immediate danger of or results in damage or injury to the property or person of any other individual.” At least one militia member said he was at the ranch to provide “armed response” against “the tyrannical government.” Right-wing websites published this statement about the members’ decision to “mobilize to Nevada”:

 “All men are mortal, most pass simply because it is their time, a few however are blessed with the opportunity to choose their time in performance of duty.”

As Ken Cole wrote:

“The simple truth of the matter is that Bundy is a freeloading, welfare rancher who has an inflated sense of entitlement. It also appears that he and his supporters’ use of threats and intimidation likely violated several federal laws. Inasmuch as they used (such as pointed) weapons to cause the government back down, it can be considered an armed insurrection.”

The United States owns the property where Bundy grazes his cattle. Nevada was formed from parts of the Washoe, Utah, and New Mexico territories, land that the federal government gained from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1849 through the “Mexican Cession” after the U.S. won the Mexican-American War. Private land ownership, allocated under mining and farming claims, was later expanded under the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. Because the nation never sold the rest of the land, it maintains ownership in trust of the land as part of the commons.

Bundy claims that he owns the federal land because his family used is since the 1870s. Citizens gave up all claims to unappropriated federal land in the Nevada state constitution, dating back to 1864. He does not have the “right” to graze BLM lands. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 confers permits to graze a specific number of cattle on public lands but does not confer right to graze or right to own the land. The Supreme Court backed this up in its 1976 ruling of Public Lands Council v. Babbitt. About 16,000 farmers and ranchers use Taylor grazing land.

The conservative media not only fanned the flames but also threw gasoline on them. Fox network Sean Hannity hosted Bundy and said that his actions “keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer.” In 2013, Taylor Grazing cost ranchers $1.35 per unit per month, meaning that each head of cattle cost Bundy $16.20 per year—a vast increase from what he would have paid in 1993 when he stopped paying.

Glenn Beck complained that the people confiscating the cattle were armed, and National Review Online’s Kevin Williamson called the agents “inflammatory” and described their actions as a “siege.” American Thinker (now there’s a misnomer!) accused Attorney General Eric Holder of being racist by enforcing the law. Alex Jones wrote that the government wants to “enslave us in an [United Nations] Agenda 21 future where we have no property and no rights.” He also said, “So your bottom line, like Paul Revere, you’re making your stand, you’re telling folks we’re being overrun by an out of control tyranny.”

Bundy’s responses were equally rabble-rousing as he used his presence on Alex Jones’ show to urge supporters to “go in there with force” and to stop the agents’ proposed auction. He agreed with Jones’ answer that “[the force] could be how the shot heard round the world happens in this case” and warned that “this could turn into 1776 very quickly.”

To protect themselves, the militia planned to sacrifice the women. Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff, said that the protesters planned “to put all the women up at the front.” That way they would be shot first.

Jamelle Bouie brought up an interesting question.  Would the faux militia of the Tea Party defend a group of black farmers or rancher or anyone against federal officials? Would the Fox network approve of black militia aiming guns at white bureaucrats?

The conservative support may be fading. One Nevada conservative activist pointed out that Bundy failed to pay his grazing fees for 20 years while other ranchers pay their own share. GOP legislative leadership say they haven’t followed the case that much, a statement that usually means “we’re staying out of it.” GOP strategist Brad Todd thinks that the story “won’t override Obamacare,” and Republican strategist Kevin Madden agrees.

In the National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke calls Bundy’s actions “indefensible.” Powerline’s John Hinderaker tried to defend Bundy’s actions but admitted that “legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on,” that Bundy’s claim that the federal government does not own the land is flagrantly incorrect, and that Bundy has been relegated to defending himself because “no lawyer could make that argument.” As Cooke said, Bundy only wanted to win with no consequences to himself. Cooke explains the triviality of Bundy’s goal:

“I would not stand idly by quoting John Adams if a state reintroduced slavery or herded a religious group into ovens or even indulged in wholesale gun confiscation. But Bundy’s case is not remotely approaching these thresholds. Are we to presume that if the government is destroying one’s livelihood or breaking one’s ties with the past, one can revolt? If so, one suspects that half the country would march on Washington, with scimitars drawn, and that West Virginia would invade the Environmental Protection Agency…. This is a republic, dammit — and those who hope to keep it cannot pick and choose the provisions with which they are willing to deign to comply.”

And that’s a response from a conservative!

Unhappy that the situation has been temporarily resolved, Sean Hannity tried to convince Bundy in last night’s interview that the federal agent may show up in a midnight raid and kill him and his children. Hannity’s actions were made even more inexcusable because of Bundy’s near incoherence. In his attempts to make Bundy into a martyr, Hannity may cause the deaths that federal agents tried so hard to avoid.

No one died on the Bundy ranch last night. We’ll just watch to see what the Fox network decides to do next.

February 12, 2014

Social, Political Issues

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes a short quote tells the whole story. Following are some quotes from around the country during the past few weeks on politics, racism, and just plain stupidity.

Gretchen Carlson on the Fox network about the retail chain CVS no longer selling tobacco products: “Is it OK legally … to restrict tobacco availability in a private store like this. For people who smoke, you know, they have a right to buy cigarettes. It’s not illegal.” [For Carlson’s edification, abortion is also legal, but some states have closed down every clinic that provides the surgical procedure.]

Gary James, former candidate for Enid (OK) city council, about his refusal to serve blacks, gays, the disabled and “welfare people” in his restaurant: “Well if you work, you own a business, pay your taxes, you’re more than welcome here. If you’re on welfare, stay home and spend my money there. I don’t deal with these people walking down the street with no jobs on welfare…. I’ve been in business 44 years, I think I can spot a freak or a f*ggot. I really don’t want gays around. Any man that would compromise his own body would compromise anything.”

Michele M.’s response to James: “Gary James refuses to serve wheelchair bound persons, black people, Hispanics, mixed race couples, gay people, people who wear hats, people who ask for Budweiser, liberals, men with longish hair, people wearing clothes he doesn’t approve of, people with facial piercings, on and on. If you pass first inspection, don’t think you’ve got it made. If he doesn’t approve of an overheard conversation, if he decides you’re effeminate, if your politics don’t agree with his, if you don’t like the way you cheer for the wrong team, etc, etc., Mr. James will charge you more.”

[Followup: Internet social media is now listing Gary James’ restaurant as a gay bar.]

Fox network’s Bill O’Reilly: “[In black precincts, there is] “chaos in the streets, in the schools and in the homes.”

Kirk Cameron (former Growing Pains star) about the 33 couples married at the award ceremony: “How did you like the Grammy’s [sic] all out assault on the traditional family last night?”

Bryan Fischer (American Family Association) on the same subject: “Heads up: Grammy telecast to feature sodomy-based wedding ceremonies.”

Todd Starnes (Fox network) continuing: “I’ve never seen such a display of intolerance, bigotry and hatred. #Grammys #antichristian.”

John Pisciotta (head of Pro-Life Waco): “The Girl Scouts were once a truly amazing organization, but it has been taken over by ideologues of the left, and regular folks just will not stand for it.” [Is that why a man in Temecula, CA pulled a gun on a Girl Scout selling cookies?]

Ryan Zinke (Republican State Senator running for the U.S. House in Montana) who called Hillary Clinton the “Antichrist”: “We need to focus on the real enemy.” [He also claimed that Newt Gingrich is “senior advisor” to his campaign, but Gingrich denied this.]

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to single mothers who receive government assistance: “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.’”

Illinois Catholic bishop Thomas Paprocki: Gay couples need to be severely “disciplined” for participating in the “redefinition of marriage.”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) regarding House reason for no action on immigration reform: “Here’s the issue that all Republicans agree on: We don’t trust the president to enforce the law.” [It’s also a talking point that many other GOP members, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) use.]

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) suggested that the law start in 2017 after President Obama leaves office: We don’t know who’s going to be president in 2017.” [A reason for never passing any legislation.]

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a GOP Governors Association fundraiser in Chicago: “You want income equality? That is mediocrity. Everybody can have an equal, mediocre salary.”

Mike Huckabee, about free birth control for women: “And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.” [In 2005, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee signed a law mandating Arkansas insurance plans provide contraception coverage, including church-affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities.]

Rep. Michele Bachmann, who doesn’t know that there is no longer any “Soviet Union”: “It appears that Belarus, which is a nation friendly with the Soviet Union, may have a subcontracting contract to build a part of Obamacare.”

Bachmann on immigration reform: “It isn’t the conservative Republican immigration policy that immigrants don’t like, it’s our stance on fiscal conservatism, the Constitution, patriotism, the fact that we believe in limited government and personal responsibility.”

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) about unemployment benefits: “It is immoral.” 

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong on why his company will no longer match employee 401(k) plans: “We had two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid a million dollars each to make sure those babies were OK in general.” [What? No reinsurance plans for large claims of over AOL’s 5,000 employees? Valleywag posted a visual to show the relationship between Armstrong’s salary and “distressed babies.”]  

distressed babies

Rep. Patrick J. Tiberi (R-OH) about House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) to accomplish anything: “Right now, Jesus himself couldn’t be the speaker and get 218 Republicans behind something, so I think Speaker Boehner is trying his best to come up with a plan that can get close to that.”

Chad Brown (former Polk County Republican Party of Iowa Co-Chair): “My opinion is the ‘Duck Dynasty Wing’ of the Republican Party has taken over the GOP, and they’re not about to retreat in their war on science and common sense.”

The most amazing one on Sunday:

Conservative columnist David Brooks on Meet the Press about the need for immigration reform: “It’s not who runs the Republican Party. Do the leaders who want to have a long term future, a presidential national future, as a multi-racial party, do they run the party or does [Michael Needham of Heritage Foundation] run the party. The truth is Mike runs the party.”

President Obama also managed a few memorable quotes during a ten-minute interview with Bill O’Reilly on the Fox network immediately before the Super Bowl. It is a tradition that the current president sits down for a brief interview with the network that projects the annual game.

When O’Reilly asked about the many times that former IRS Doug Schulman had been to the White House: “That’s not what happened. Folks have again had multiple hearings on this. These kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them.”

When O’Reilly claimed that people thought that the president avoided calling Benghazi a “terror attack”: “They believe it because folks like you are telling them that.”

The night after the Super Bowl, the Fox network played more of the interview. O’Reilly asked, “Do you think I’m unfair to you?”

The president responded, “Absolutely. Of course you are, Bill. But I like you anyway.”

When O’Reilly pressed the president on how he had been “unfair” in the interview, President Obama said, “I think regardless of whether it’s fair or not, it has made Fox News very successful… What are you going to do when I’m gone?”

O’Reilly thinks that the interview will go down in “journalistic history.”

The quote of the week that no one will hear on the Fox network: “Given the military’s preparations on September 11, 2012, majority members have not yet discerned any response alternatives that could have likely changed the outcome of the Benghazi attack.” That’s the conclusion of a report from the GOP House Armed Forces Committee about the four deaths at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya.  

September 5, 2013

Fox Network–How Many Lies?!

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:18 PM
Tags: , , ,

Tucker_Carlson_AsleepHave you ever fallen asleep while watching television? Even the scintillating Fox network?  Tucker Carlson did. While he was on air.  Don’t know who Carlson is? He’s a co-host of Fox & Friends, with the self-proclaimed “fair and balanced” perspective toward reporting.

No support from his co-hosts either. They openly ridiculed him before waking him up with “Good to see ya. Welcome to Fox and Friends.” Carlson tried to cover his gaffe by saying, “I know we’re not on television so it doesn’t bother me.” Maybe the camera’s red light alerted him to his mistake when he said, “Are we live? Is this honestly live?”

His excuse was substituting for Sean Hannity the evening before. Even if the program ran overtime, Carlson still had enough time for four to five hours of sleep. Maybe that’s why Fox gets so many things wrong: they just sleep through everything that they report.

Thomas Kersting, therapist and school counselor, wasn’t sleeping on Fox and Friends when he advocated a plan in a New Jersey’s school district to throw away a child’s meal if their parents hadn’t filled out the right paperwork for the Free and Reduce Lunch program. He considered it a “teaching moment” and claimed that the hungry kids aren’t actually punished. He said,

“We have more food than any other nation. You know, no kid is going to starve. You know, if one day a kid doesn’t have lunch, right, maybe that’s a teaching moment when that kid doesn’t have lunch. That may sound harsh saying that, but we’ve got to get people to start being responsible for themselves.”

Last fall, Fox fell asleep throughout all the polling that showed Barack Obama would win a second term and then looked shell-shocked when Ohio’s results came in. Karl Rove had a meltdown, which made me wonder if he had planned something else with the potentially rigged computers. 

Last month, a host on Fox explained that the network Al Jazeera is popular in the Arab world because most of the people there sympathize with Osama bin Laden’s attempts to kill U.S. citizens. Jim Pinkerton, a Fox contributor and writer for American Conservative, agreed, citing Pew surveys. But the survey results show the opposite. In 2011, Pew found that “in the months leading up to Osama bin Laden’s death, a survey of Muslim publics around the world  found little support for the al Qaeda leader.” Al Jazeera America bought Current TV last January and launched in August to almost half of the U.S. homes subscribing to television.

After President Obama called for the expansion of universal early childhood education, Fox accused the plan of being a government handout, “literally, the nanny state,” designed to entice toddlers to vote for him. Fox’s sister station, Fox Business, then called the proposal “immoral” because the country couldn’t afford it. “It’s immoral to put this across as something that’s actually doable, when it’s not.” No education, no dreams.

If statistics don’t match the conservative view, Fox presents charts to make their case, for example, making an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent look higher than 8.9 percent. Fox slept through the Benghazi briefings, claiming that the CIA had denied a diplomat permission to fend off the attack on the embassy. When one coal company laid off employees, Fox frequently ran pieces on the president’s “War on Coal” and its huge layoffs in the industry. At the same time, the industry actually had tremendous growth.

Almost all Fox’s climate coverage is wrong: the Union of Concerned Scientists found that 93 percent of Fox coverage on the topic was “misleading.” According to Fox, wind power causes global warming, carbon dioxide cannot cause global warming because it doesn’t mix well in the atmosphere, and solar energy won’t work in the U.S. because it isn’t sunny like in Germany. They’re wrong on all of these.

If stories don’t fit their conservative philosophy, they ignore them, even if the important ones. For example, Fox did almost no reporting on senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments, the conflict surrounding the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, and the passage of New York’s marriage equality law.

Fox pushed the falsehood that President Obama gave more “freebies” than any other administration when George W. Bush wins the award for the largest increase in food stamps. Fox pundit Liz Trotta said that military women should “expect” to be raped if they join the service. Geraldo Rivera blamed Trayvon Martin’s murder on what he was wearing—his hoodie. Voter oppression was commonly described on Fox as an “attempt to fight voter fraud.” Conspiracy theorists on Fox claimed that the polls denying Mitt Romney the presidency were wrong—right up to the night of the election.

Even when Fox wakes up, it acts as a bully. Convinced that Attorney General Eric Holder lied during his testimony before Congress in June, they started a petition for his ouster from office. Appearing with Sean Hannity, Bill Cunningham verbally abused another panelist, Tamara Holder, when he demanded that she sign the petition. When she addressed his rudeness, Cunningham delivered a string of sexist remarks after saying, “Wait a minute, you shut up. Know your role and shut your mouth.”

His sexism was in keeping with earlier comments from Fox contributor Erick Erickson, who claimed that science proves that women should be submissive to women and that men should earn more money. That was only part of the Fox’s sexist dismay after a study showed that women are increasingly making the most money in their relationships.

It doesn’t stop there. Last month, Fox “medical expert” Dr. David Samadi (again on Fox & Friends)  declared that Obamacare should drop the “gender equality” requirement because women have breasts, and ovaries, and a uterus. He evidently slept through the class about male reproductive organs. Pregnancy, as a “pre-existing condition,” wouldn’t occur without males.

Even Fox women behave like bullies. Enraged by the Justice Department investigating a Fox reporter, co-host of The Five Andrea Tantaros, ranted:

“Fox said, we’re targets, clearly Media Matters and others have put us on a target list. And they said, ‘Oh, Fox is just crazy! They’re just paranoid!’ Really? Are we? This is what is happening to our press! This is Obama’s America! It’s like the Soviet Union. He said he would change the country. He said it. And a lot of people voted for him.”

Tantaros finished by telling the audience that if her audience finds any of these people who voted for President Obama, “do me a favor, punch them in the face.” When a caller worried that she was sending the wrong message, she explained:

“To be clear, I didn’t say punch Obama in the face. You’re going to get me arrested with this type of government. If someone voted for him! If anyone that you know who voted for President Obama, smack ‘em down.”

And there’s much, much more. Although this article is over a year old, it shows how Fox badly informs its viewers. Here’s a newer one. And a former devoted Fox watcher has devoted his entire blog to Fox lies. We’re all better off if everyone on Fox just sleeps.

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