Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Well, well, well. The Fourth Estate has its undies in a bundle because the Obama administration has finally called out one of the networks for being lying, denigrating, vicious twisters of the truth.

This entity, which frequently feeds stories to the mainstream media or bashes them until they will cover such a story, hates anyone to the left of John Birch. Its parade of hate has been consistent and consistently laden with derision for the elected president, Barack Obama.

And to accurately portray Fox, this happens throughout the day, NOT just in commentary, as John Nichols' Oct. 21 commentary in the Cap Times implies.

That Fox hates anyone "liberal" enough to challenge invading other nations illegally, spying on citizens without warrants, torturing prisoners, and challenging the hubris and greed of Wall Street is commonly known to everyone with a brain bigger than a bean.

That Fox typically invites discredited commentators like Dick Morris to lay the foundation for a complete national decline under Obama is not a surprise. If this were the end of the story, one might agree with the pundits from the left that trying to fight Fox is wrong.

But Fox is not being called to task solely because of the lunacy of Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck. It is being called out for deliberately trying to create questionable or false stories or distort the angles on stories during its so-called "news" presentations. And were the damage limited to those who demand only the perspective that satisfies their minuscule minds, as Nichols and others point out, one needn't pursue it.

However, the gutless and profit-driven Fourth Estate is not what it used to be. Far too many of these distorted stories (ACORN is a perfect example) find their way into or are jammed down the throat of the mainstream media.

The press, and close on their heels the Congress, run willy-nilly trying to ensure they can't be accused of being liberal, picking up nonsense as if it were gold. CNN finds time to take Fox stories at face value while fact-checking "Saturday Night Live"!

The truly salient fact is the way the media, including the lefties like Nichols, circle the wagons anytime someone calls them out on their perfidy. Attack one, you attack all! The freedom of the press must go unchallenged! A president who points out even the most outrageous liars in the media will be branded a whiner.

So I say to the media: You are no longer deserving of the title "Fourth Estate." You are so corporatized as to have abandoned virtually all of the principles that gave you that vaunted status. Your quest is now the bottom line, not a Jeffersonian ideal. You cut staffs to bare bones and limit your investigative reporting to who's screwing who and balloon boy stories.

You don't search for truth but rather seek two contrasting opinions, no matter how crazy one of them might be. You seek controversy over insight. And you do it in a world that depends on you to get it right now more than ever before.

If the media want to see the true whiners, the fearful, the abdicators of a vaunted role, they need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. That is, if they can get their heads out of the sand long enough to do so.

Thomas E. Dixon Jr. is a Madison resident.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Editorial - The Unemployed Wait -
October 17, 2009
The Unemployed Wait

More than a million jobless Americans are in danger of losing benefits by the end of the year unless Congress passes an extension of unemployment insurance. The House has acted, but the Senate, which has a better bill, has been bogged down by obstruction from Republicans. In these extraordinarily hard times, Congress should extend this vital safety net without further delay.

Unemployment insurance, one of the great legacies of the New Deal, is intended to provide laid-off workers with an income while they look for their next job. With the unemployment rate at nearly 10 percent nationally — and at 10.3 percent in New York City — it has been hard to line up that next job. The Department of Labor recently reported that there were more than six people looking for every opening.

There are now more than five million Americans — roughly one-third of the unemployed — who have been out of work for six months or longer, according to the National Employment Law Project, a record since data was first recorded in 1948.

Benefits vary by state, but most cut off benefits after 26 weeks. Congress has extended benefits several times, most recently in February, but for many workers they are again running out.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and other Democrats have introduced a bill that would extend unemployment insurance by up to an additional 14 weeks in all 50 states, with another six weeks for states with a jobless rate above 8.5 percent. It is an improvement on a bill passed by the House, which would extend benefits only in states with unemployment above 8.5 percent.

February’s extension, which included a $25-a-week increase in benefits, kept 800,000 people out of poverty, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Putting more money in the pockets of the unemployed provided much-needed stimulus for the entire economy.

Every day that the Republicans continue to block an extension — fighting over amendments to the bill or delaying a vote — means thousands more Americans pushed closer to the edge of despair.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Yet another reason to be 'armed and dangerous'

Excite News - Police: Fla. man kills fiancee on eve of wedding
WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) - A man who thought there was an intruder in his house shot and killed his fiancee the day before they were to be married, police said Friday.

"Right now everything points to a tragic accident," Police Chief Kevin Brunelle told The Associated Press, adding investigators were awaiting forensic results.

John Tabutt, 62, told investigators he got his gun when he thought he heard an intruder, then fired at a figure in the hallway, according to Brunelle. It was Tabutt's live-in fiancee, 62-year-old Nancy Dinsmore, who family members say he was going to marry Saturday. Tabutt told authorities he thought she was next to him in bed the whole time.

A message left for a phone number listed for the house was not returned.

Brunelle said no charges have been filed against Tabutt, adding the information he provided has been verified and he appeared "very distraught."

Tabutt was "very concerned about her well-being," standing by while she was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, Brunelle added.

The couple planned to wed in a small ceremony Saturday at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Winter Springs, Dinsmore's son-in-law Scott Sposato, of Vero Beach, told the Orlando Sentinel.

"They loved each other," he said. "It was quite apparent."

Tabutt called 911 shortly after 2:30 a.m. Friday, moaning and sobbing, the newspaper reported.

"I thought I had an intruder in the house," he told the emergency dispatcher. "Honest to God, she looks dead."

He then thought he heard her take a breath.

"Hang in there, Honey. Hang in there," he said.

Winter Springs is about 15 miles north of Orlando.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jim's Place

My recent letter to my representatives:

Dear Senator/Congressman,

I take this opportunity to write and express my extreme frustration, and anger, in the current ongoing ‘debate’ over Health Care Reform; and specifically the so-called Public Option.

I have been a lifelong supporter, and occasional member, of the Democratic Party because it most closely approximates my feelings of equality and social justice. The current state of our health care system is an abomination and embarrassment compared with other advanced nations. The idea that we should be solely at the mercy of a profit driven system for life sustaining health care is beyond immoral.

With the election of Barak Obama and a majority of Democrats in both houses of Congress, I and most other progressive minded supporters naively believed we were on the cusp of meaningful change in issues ranging from the conduct of national policy, to the all important issue of health care. Instead, what we are faced with is the continuation of far too many of the failed policies of the Bush years, and a capitulation to the conservative minority on issues of social justice.

Until the Democratic Party displays the necessary courage and resolve to put the voters’ mandate into meaningful policy change (an equitable national health care policy, financial regulation with real teeth, and a more thorough reevaluation of our failed foreign policy), I will find it impossible to provide active support of Democratic candidates who seem to have lost sight of the progressive mission.

I believe it’s time that our elected majority accept the fact that WE WON THE ELECTION! Take example from your Republican predecessors and forge ahead with the policy change you promised. For their many failures, Republican’s don’t appear at all concerned with focusing on ‘bi-partisanship’ when they’re in power, and are willing to use any election mandate, real or concocted, to forward their right-wing ideology. Have the past 8 years taught us nothing?


Jim's Place

Monday, October 5, 2009

Paul Krugman: 10/5/09

Op-Ed Columnist - The Politics of Spite -
October 5, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist
The Politics of Spite

There was what President Obama likes to call a teachable moment last week, when the International Olympic Committee rejected Chicago’s bid to be host of the 2016 Summer Games.

“Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.

So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.

But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it — whether or not it’s good for America.

To be sure, while celebrating America’s rebuff by the Olympic Committee was puerile, it didn’t do any real harm. But the same principle of spite has determined Republican positions on more serious matters, with potentially serious consequences — in particular, in the debate over health care reform.

Now, it’s understandable that many Republicans oppose Democratic plans to extend insurance coverage — just as most Democrats opposed President Bush’s attempt to convert Social Security into a sort of giant 401(k). The two parties do, after all, have different philosophies about the appropriate role of government.

But the tactics of the two parties have been different. In 2005, when Democrats campaigned against Social Security privatization, their arguments were consistent with their underlying ideology: they argued that replacing guaranteed benefits with private accounts would expose retirees to too much risk.

The Republican campaign against health care reform, by contrast, has shown no such consistency. For the main G.O.P. line of attack is the claim — based mainly on lies about death panels and so on — that reform will undermine Medicare. And this line of attack is utterly at odds both with the party’s traditions and with what conservatives claim to believe.

Think about just how bizarre it is for Republicans to position themselves as the defenders of unrestricted Medicare spending. First of all, the modern G.O.P. considers itself the party of Ronald Reagan — and Reagan was a fierce opponent of Medicare’s creation, warning that it would destroy American freedom. (Honest.) In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich tried to force drastic cuts in Medicare financing. And in recent years, Republicans have repeatedly decried the growth in entitlement spending — growth that is largely driven by rising health care costs.

But the Obama administration’s plan to expand coverage relies in part on savings from Medicare. And since the G.O.P. opposes anything that might be good for Mr. Obama, it has become the passionate defender of ineffective medical procedures and overpayments to insurance companies.

How did one of our great political parties become so ruthless, so willing to embrace scorched-earth tactics even if so doing undermines the ability of any future administration to govern?

The key point is that ever since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else’s right to govern.

Anyone surprised by the venomous, over-the-top opposition to Mr. Obama must have forgotten the Clinton years. Remember when Rush Limbaugh suggested that Hillary Clinton was a party to murder? When Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those Medicare cuts? And let’s not even talk about the impeachment saga.

The only difference now is that the G.O.P. is in a weaker position, having lost control not just of Congress but, to a large extent, of the terms of debate. The public no longer buys conservative ideology the way it used to; the old attacks on Big Government and paeans to the magic of the marketplace have lost their resonance. Yet conservatives retain their belief that they, and only they, should govern.

The result has been a cynical, ends-justify-the-means approach. Hastening the day when the rightful governing party returns to power is all that matters, so the G.O.P. will seize any club at hand with which to beat the current administration.

It’s an ugly picture. But it’s the truth. And it’s a truth anyone trying to find solutions to America’s real problems has to understand.

Second test