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Friday, July 2, 2010

Proof that Fox News Lies; Republicans, Religion and the Triumph of Unreason; Anti-Bush Shirts more Dangerous than Guns?; More Fake Protests; more (posted 08/19/09)

- Proof That Fox News Lies Clip from the Rachel Maddow show showing recent polls and research that proves Fox News Channel misleads its viewers with outright lies.

- Guns at Political Events: A Chilling Effect on the First Amendment On August 17, a reported dozen people carrying guns, including two with assault rifles, were among protestors outside a convention center in Phoenix, Arizona, where President Obama was speaking. It was the latest incident where protestors with guns were seen outside events where the president had appeared to speak about his healthcare proposals, which right-wing opponents denounce as an assault on liberty. Neither the Secret Service nor police ushered the persons carrying guns away from the event, nor were any persons carrying firearms arrested.

Compare this restraint by the Secret Service and police to the following events.
- In July 2008, a 61-year-old librarian was arrested at a McCain campaign event in Denver for carrying a sign that read, "McCain=Bush."
- In 2005, three people were ejected by police from a Bush town hall meeting in Denver after they arrived in a car with a bumper sticker that read, "No More Blood for Oil."
- In October 2004, three school teachers in Medford, Oregon, were threatened with arrest by police and thrown out of a political rally featuring President Bush after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan, "Protect Our Civil Liberties."
- In July 2004, a Wisconsin county supervisor wearing a blue-denim shirt over a T-shirt that said "Kerry for President" was ejected from a Bush campaign speech after the Secret Service reportedly took his driver's license, social security number, and phone number.
And the list goes on and on and on....

- Republicans, Religion and the Triumph of Unreason Something strange has happened in America in the nine months since Barack Obama was elected. It has best been summarised by the comedian Bill Maher: "The Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved to a mental hospital."....

This trend has reached its apotheosis this summer with the Republican Party now claiming en masse that Obama wants to set up "death panels" to euthanise the old and disabled. Yes: Sarah Palin really has claimed - with a straight face - that Barack Obama wants to kill her baby.

You have to admire the audacity of the right. Here's what's actually happening. The US is the only major industrialised country that does not provide regular healthcare to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves - and 50 million people can't afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 US citizens die every year needlessly, because they can't access the care they require. That's equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year. Yet the Republicans have accused the Democrats who are trying to stop all this death by extending healthcare of being "killers" - and they have successfully managed to put them on the defensive.

The Republicans want to defend the existing system, not least because they are given massive sums of money by the private medical firms who benefit from the deadly status quo. But they can't do so honestly: some 70 per cent of Americans say it is "immoral" to retain a medical system that doesn't cover all citizens. So they have to invent lies to make any life-saving extension of healthcare sound depraved.

- "Now Make Me Do It" by Ralph Nader. The guess here is that Obama will sign anything which squirms through a cowardly Congress that cannot give to the American people in 2009 the health care system Congress stopped President Harry Truman from establishing in 1950.

It is up to the people of our country to "make him do it" whether this year or next. A mere one million immediate calls to members of Congress by one million assertive citizens will start sobering up these legislators who think they can get away with another sale of our public trust.

The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121. The full Medicare, single payer bill (backed by nearly ninety legislators) is H.R. 676. The go-to citizen group for your sustained engagement is The rest is up to you, the majority, who want to put the people first.

- Methane Seeps from Arctic Sea-Bed Scientists say they have evidence that the powerful greenhouse gas methane is escaping from the Arctic sea-bed.

- Oil Industry Backs Fake Protests of Emissions Bill Like the recent health reform protests that were backed the the health insurance industry and lied people into protesting gain health care reform, the next wave of protests are already starting, organized by the oil industry and again using dumb republicans armed with lies and propaganda

- Coal Lobbyists Sent 13 Fake Letters to Hill A Right-wing lobbying firm working for a pro-coal industry group sent lawmakers a total of 13 fraudulent letters opposing the House climate bill - five more than initially believed, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming said Tuesday. The fake letters - sent to Democratic law makers across the country - purported to be from the NAACP, senior citizens groups and Creciendo Juntos, a Hispanic advocacy organization, and asked the law makers to kill legislation protecting us from pollution and climate change!

- Arguing With A Dining Room Table During these lunatic times, thanks to Barney Frank for bringing back candor, ordinarily an early victim of politics, into the debate. Reverting to the Talmudic tradition of answering a question with a question at a Dartmouth, Mass. town hall meeting, he responded to a woman's charge that health care equals Nazis with, "On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Watch it here.

- Soldiers Who Just Say No In independent journalist Dahr Jamail's "The Will to Resist: Soldiers who refuse to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan" (Haymarket Books), Jamail profiles what may ultimately prove to be the United States' most effective anti-war movement: the soldiers themselves.

Like Arguing With a Table
by Joyce Marcel
Published on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 by
Curioser and curiouser.

Gold star mom antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan wears a t-shirt that says "2,245 Dead. How many more?" to President Bush's State of the Union address in 2006 and gets arrested. If the media pays any more attention, it's to label her a "far-left" whack job.

William Kostric, however, openly totes a gun to President Obama's town hall meeting in New Hampshire. And he carries a sign saying "It's time to water the tree of liberty." (A reference to Thomas Jefferson's "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure.") He gets interviewed on Chris Matthews.

Back during the run-up to the Iraq war, more than 10 million people worldwide protested the Bush administration's incomprehensible strategy of going after Saddam Hussein while ignoring Osama bin Laden. The protests made a small corner of the front page of The New York Times. Then protests about minimal coverage forced the paper, which was beating the drums of war so loudly that you had to wonder if reporter Judith Miller was being paid by former Vice President Dick Cheney or just sleeping with him, to write one more story before turning its back for good on the antiwar movement.

Yet Sarah Palin, already a national joke, describes end-of-life counseling as "death panels" -- clearly an insane charge -- and her statement is covered so widely that it gets 2,350,000 hits on Google.

If, like me, you have been dismayed by the incessant coverage given to rage-filled lunatics protesting the possibility of getting something that most of them badly need -- health insurance -- then you have to scratch your head and wonder when, exactly, the national media went brain-dead.

To take just one example, in a recent issue of Vanity Fair Michael Wolff reported that Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, deals with the White House press corps with "cockiness and condescension... He clearly doesn't take the press very seriously."

Well, that's outrageous, isn't it? Doesn't the press represent us at White House briefings? Don't we, the people, have a right to ask questions of our leaders? What is this, a dictatorship?

At least I felt like that when I read the article. Then I read a transcript of a White House press briefing on Aug. 12, just after the president's first town hall meeting in New Hampshire. (The White House posts all press briefing transcripts at

After reasonable questions about money for Afghanistan and executive pay, the session quickly deteriorated.

ABC News' Jake Tapper asked, "It occurs to me that if the President finds himself at a town hall meeting telling the American people that he does not want to set up a panel to kill their grandparents, that perhaps there, at some point, the President has lost control of the message."

Gibbs pointed out the "tremendous amount of disinformation that's out there. We've seen it -- and look, let's be honest, you all, the media, tend to cover 'X said this, Y said this'... Look, do I think some of you were disappointed yesterday that the President didn't get yelled at? Sure. I don't think there's any doubt about that."

And the floodgates opened wide. "Was (the president) disappointed?" "Were you disappointed the President didn't get yelled at?" "It looked like the President wanted to get yelled at." "But was the President disappointed... that he was hoping to get that kind of confrontation?" The rest of the session was devoted to a discussion about "the temperature of the debate."

Gibbs is somewhat "condescending" to the press corps? In my humble opinion, they're lucky he doesn't spit on them. But that would be counter to the spirit of the First Amendment.

Clearly, something is very wrong with American journalism. How do you treat people showing up with guns to presidential meetings as OK when people were getting arrested at Bush rallies for t-shirts and bumper stickers? How do you talk about people comparing Obama to Hitler without mentioning Timothy McVeigh and the militias? How do you talk about angry people showing up at meetings without talking about the lobbyists who are stacking these meetings to make sure rational debate is impossible? How do you do "he said/she said" journalism in a country that's having a nervous breakdown?

Truth is more important than objectivity. It's also more important than a career in the mainstream media. The way you deal with hate speech is to call people on it. Counter hate speech with better speech, with honest speech, with truthful speech.

Or you could just quote Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who at a town hall meeting on Tuesday responded to a woman heckler with this: "As you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler, and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated. Trying to have a conversation with you would be as interesting as trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."

Sean Brennan