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March 2010

Spinning The Propaganda Machine


You can say what you want about Adolph Hitler, but the fact is he could spin the propaganda machine like nobody could.  The reason that he and the Nazi party were so successful in perpetrating the crimes against the Jews and all of humanity was that he was able to convince an entire nation that his bullshit was fact.  He made the entire country of Germany, who before he came along really had no problem with the Jews, believe that the Jews were the sole reason for all of there problems.  How did he do this?  With a systematic and very well organized and thought out campaign of constant nonstop and never wavering talking points that constantly placed the Jews at the center of every thing that was the downfall of German life.  He made people believe complete falsehoods were complete facts no matter how illogical they were. And by the way, if you’re not Jewish, don’t feel left out.  Besides killing 6 million Jews, Hitler also killed 3 million Polish Catholics, 500 thousand Gypsies, 15,000 homosexuals, and countless others who stood up against the Nazis because they did not share there beliefs, or tried to hide Jews, or just did not fit into the Nazis perfect vision of the perfect race.  In total Hitler killed over 11 million individuals with the most of course being the Jews.  And Why?  Because of lies and propaganda.
Why do I bring this up?  Because I see it happening again today.  In a recent pole by the well respected Harris organization it was revealed that 67 percent of Republicans believe that Obama is a Socialist.  57 percent believe that he is a Muslim.  45 percent believe that he was not born in the United States and therefore is not eligible to be president.  24 percent believe that he may be the Anti-Christ, and 38 percent believe that he is “doing many of the things that Hitler did.”  And why do they believe these utterly ridiculous lies and falsehoods?  Because of a systematic and very well organized and thought out campaign of constant nonstop and never wavering talking points that constantly place President Obama at the center of every thing that according to the right is the downfall of American life.  And while I could very easily write off this poll as crazy, I can’t because it begs the question, how does this happen in the United States that so many people believe that these lies are in fact truths?  Why is their such utter disrespect and contempt for this president?  This is not the first time that a Republican has lost to a Democrat.  Fourteen months into Bill Clintons presidency their were no protests in the streets, no Tea Party movements, nobody shouting out “Liar!” during state of the union addresses.  Everyone was much more civil.  What is it about this particular president that is invoking such unbelievably strong and at times vial and frankly embarrassing reactions fourteen months into his presidency? 
Of course their is the easy answer, the media machine for the Republicans, FOX “News”.  The fact that there slogan is “Fair and Balanced” is laughable to the point that I don’t think that even they believe it.   There over obvious smear campaign against President Obama and everything Democratic is so blatant that their are websites devoted specifically to exposing the daily lies told by FOX “News”.  Their are no web sites exclusively devoted to exposing lies or misinformation from CNN, MSNBC, or ABC News.  But Fox “News” has maintained a consistent line of negative rhetoric that is repeated hundreds of time a day by whatever “newscaster” happens to be on at the time. While other stations will refer to “Health Care Reform”, Fox “News” will call it “Obamacare” or the “Government Takeover.”  Fox was not just reporting about the Tea Parties, they were active sponsors and appeared as speakers at many of the rallies.  During the presidential campaign, FOX “News” would only refer to Barack Obama as Barack “Husain” Obama in order to consistently portray him as a Muslim. Fox News has overstepped the boundaries of fair, balanced, and objective journalism so many times, they have lost all of there credibility to everyone except there core demographic of mostly white ultra conservative middle to upper class Republicans, and uneducated white rural America who are already predisposed to be untrustworthy of any African-American and especially one that has a Muslim sounding middle name.  Just like the Nazis did, Fox “News” and other conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, consistently repeat completely false rhetoric that is meant to deceive, and misinform, and has now incited hatred and violence against the Democratic party and the President.
Dick Morris on Fox – (03/19/10)  “Obama "is going to adopt the entire socialist program by essentially circumventing the Constitution.”  
Glenn Beck on Fox – (03/09/09)  ”Obama is so clearly a socialist…he has surrounded himself with Marxists his whole life…and this is who he is.” 
Rush Limbaugh - (03/24/10)  “Now, as far as this Hitler business, one of the first things that the National Socialist Party did was try to nationalize health care…the facts are facts. The president is a socialist.”    
The rhetoric on Fox “News” is neither fair nor balanced.  And while I have no problem with a network being one sided completely to the right, I have a huge problem with a network portraying themselves as a news station and deceiving there viewers into believing that the information being broadcast is completely “Fair and Balanced” facts when the reality is that most of what they report is in fact completely slanted to support the ultra-conservative right and the Republican party.  Although I completely disagree with most everything that Rush Limbaugh has to say, he does not claim to be a journalist.  He claims to be an opinionated conservative talk show host and nothing more.  This is not so on FOX.  They claim to report the news but do nothing but spew consistent lies and misinformation.  They do a disservice to there audience who believes that they are getting “Fair and Balanced” news, and they do a disservice to the institution of journalism.  Over time they helped fuel an atmosphere of hate and intolerance in this country that has led to insane acts of violence against the Democratic Party and individual citizens, simply because Health Insurance Reform was passed in Washington.
But in addition to FOX “News”, their is something else here, something deeper that makes the reactions to this president much different then the reactions to other presidents.  This nation has a history of watching political candidates make promises, make speeches about how they are going to bring change, tell us how radically different things will be when they get into office, and then we watch promises get broken and things mostly go on as they have been.  It is something that we as Americans have come to expect from our political candidates.  We had been used to voting for the lesser of two evils, voting against one candidate rather then voting for the other. But this time it was different.  This time it was a movement.  This time a candidate with seemingly everything against him, African-American, a first name that, at least to white-America, sounded unlike anything we had ever heard before, a middle name that sounded Muslim, a father born in Kenya, and not a very long career in national politics, rose above all the other candidates with his consistent message of Change, of Hope, and of Yes We Can, not to mention a unflappable calmness that could never be shaken.  The fact that Barack Obama himself was not “the same” as every other candidate we had ever seen only reinforced his message of change and reflected the mood of a country that had been fed up with eight years of George W. Bush and where he had brought us.  And the fact is it was not just those supporters that night in Grant Park who could not believe their eyes when they watched President-Elect Barack Obama give that speech, it was also those who were opposed to Barack Obama who could not believe their eyes, who still can not believe their eyes, and who will not rest until this President, one way or an other is no longer in office. 

While Obama's supporters prayed that his message of Change would be backed up with actions, his opposition prayed it would not.  It is what they had come to expect just like we all had.  But change came, and with Health Insurance Reform it came hard.  And DAM, if a Socialist, Muslim, Anti-Christ, who wasn’t even born in the United States, is going to have Government-Run ObamaCare, with there “Rationing” and “Death Panels”,  rammed down there throats!
This is what they believe.  This is the injustice.  The violence and the threats to members of the Democratic party that followed the passing of this bill should never have happened, and the fact that it did is a direct result of how the Republicans conducted themselves during this debate, the lies that were told, and the obstructionist atmosphere that was created.  The Republican Party, through their direct rhetoric and Fox “News”, made people believe complete falsehoods, were complete facts, no matter how illogical they were. They were able to convince a significant portion of America that there bullshit was fact.  They spun the propaganda machine, like nobody could. Well...almost nobody.



We All Are The Champions, My Friend.


Tonight the Congress voted to pass the Health Care Reform bill by a vote of 219 to 212.  By all accounts, no matter what side of the fence you are on, this day is nothing less then historic.  For some it is a day of great excitement and celebration, while for others it is a day of defeat.  But regardless of how you feel about this day certain facts now remain. You or no one you know will ever again be refused health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. You or no one you know will ever again have there health insurance dropped because an illness is costing the company too much money.  You or no one you know will ever have to face forty percent rate increases in premiums or have insurance payments that are larger then your mortgage.  You will not lose your insurance because you lose your job.  You will not have to choose between having to take a job in order to get group health insurance, or starting a small business.  And to those who opposed reform, there are no death panels. You are not going to be forced to change your doctor, or change your insurance.  There is no government take over of your or anybody’s health care, in fact anything even resembling a government plan or public option was removed from this bill completely. The scare tactics were just that, scare tactics.  None of it was true, and for those who still believe what you were being fed by those who opposed reform, time will tell us all, because not only will those who supported reform benefit from this bill, but those who opposed it, and continue to oppose it will benefit as well. 
The reason why this bill succeeded was not because the Democrats won.  I’ve said this before and I will say it again, no matter how much debate we all heard over the last year on this subject, this never has been and this never will be a political issue.  This bill succeeded because all along this issue of health insurance reform has been a human issue. Health care touches all of us no matter if you are Democrat or Republican, Independent or Libertarian, male, female, young, old, black, white, Hispanic, or Asian.  We all were born and we all will die.  We all at one point or another in our lives need medical care, and we all know people near and dear to us who have needed or will need medical care as well.  And when that happens, our political affiliations go away.  We don’t care who they voted for or what they support.  We just want them to get better.  And the reality, that the opposition for some reason either can not grasp, or if they can, they put there political aspirations before simple human decency, is that too many people, on all sides, have gotten screwed by the current system.  Too many people lost there coverage and then lost there homes.  Too many people were denied coverage because they suffered from depression, or high blood pressure, or were raped, or g-d forbid were pregnant.  Too many people were told that the equipment needed to keep them alive for the rest of there lives would no longer be covered. And too many of us had children, parents, husbands, wives, partners, and friends who simply died for no other reason then they could not afford the health care that would have kept them alive.
For once and for all this issue was not about Democrats or Republicans.  It should never have been about who is in power and who is not.  It should never have been about future political conquests because this issue was far too important to make it about ones self.  This issue was personal.  It was about people, not about power.  President Obama recently said that he would rather be remembered as a great one term president, then a mediocre two term president.  And with health care President Obama did what a leader should do.  He set the example.  He did not do this because it was popular. He did it because it was right.  His concern was not for his political future, but for the future of everyone else.
This bill is far from perfect.  It is not the end all be all, but instead a foundation for us to grow on.  Just like any major legislation that has past, the future will bring changes, amendments, and improvements as need arises. We still do not have a Public Option or a Medicare buy-in.  Even with 34 million more people covered we will still remain the only industrialized nation that does not ensure coverage to 100% of its citizens.  And for those who say health care is not a right I say why not?  Quality health care in this country has become no different then the ability to afford a Mercedes, or a home in Bel Air.  Health care should not be a luxury that only the rich can afford and the poor and middle class go with out.  No one should ever have to choose between there medicine and there mortgage, but unlike all other industrialized countries, in this country we do.  Health care is a right not because the Constitution does or does not say so, but because as humans, how could humanity have it any other way?


Over?...Did Pelosi Say Over?


One of my favorite movies of all time is Animal House.  I saw it a few months after it came out at the old Highland Park Theater, which was one town over from where I grew up.  I was 13 years old and the scenes of toga parties, food fights in the Faber cafeteria, and free flowing, well…let’s just say at the Delta House there were many things that were free flowing, is what made me want to go to college.  Animal House will always have a special place in my heart because of that. Then just last week something happened that reminded me of a particular scene from Animal House.  The scene was the one where Eric Stratton, a Delta, thinks he is going to meets Mandy, one of the Omega girls, in a hotel room only to find five of the Omega men ready to do “a little dance” on his head.  He finds his way back to the Delta house, bruised and battered only to be told by D-Day, they’ve all been expelled.
Now what happened, that reminded me of this classic scene from Animal House, was when Nancy Peolsi got up in front of a huge press core, with the American people watching, and announced that the Public Option would not be included in the House health care reform bill.  She announced this unbelievable statement with these facts in place.  First, forty one senators have signed on to pledge there support for a health care bill that includes the Public Option, leaving only nine more senators necessary to seal the deal.  Of the senators that are left, none have said they would not support it and at least nine have indicated in the past that they would support the public option if it was in the final bill.  In addition, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin has said that he will push through any bill that comes from the house including one with a Public Option.  Next, the majority of Americans, once they understand what a Public Option is, support it.  And finally, the House already passed a bill earlier that included a public option.  So what possible explanation could there be for Nancy Pelosi announcing to the world that the House bill will not include the Public Option?  Only one thing, Animal House.  You see, here is what I think happened…
Some time in the afternoon of March, 11th, Nancy Pelosi got a call from newly elected and former Cosmopolitan magazine's "America's Sexiest Man" of 1982, Scott Brown, asking if Nancy would like to meet him at a hotel room at the Watergate to discuss some future pending legislation that he would like to aggressively “ram” through her House.  She indicated that she would love to help an “up and coming” Congressman “ram” anything through her House, and would be happy to meet him there to discuss the details.
Speaker Pelosi arrived at the Watergate later that evening anxious to discuss Rep. Browns "pending legislation".  After getting a key from the front desk she opened the door to the hotel room only to find that Scott Brown was nowhere to be seen, but instead standing there, was John McCain, John Boehner, and three unnamed health insurance lobbyists.  Without getting into too much detail, if you have seen Animal House you know what happened next.  (Being a liberal progressive myself, I do not approve of this type of behavior, but hey that’s a Republican for you.)  The next morning, Nancy Peolsi, with the aid of Senator Harry Reid stumbled into the Oval office where President Obama was slamming down Red Bull with Joe Biden.  The President asked what happened and Pelosi replied, “No public option…it’s Over!”
That’s when it happened.  Joe Biden crushed his Red Bull can against his head, stood up and yelled, “OVER?..Did you say OVER?...NOTHING’S OVER UNTILL WE DECIDE IT IS!  Was it OVER when Iran invaded Kuwait?”  Reid looked at Obama and asked, ”Iran?” Obama replied, “Forget it, he’s rollin’.” Biden continued, “Hell no! And it’s not over now!  We may not support the public option but HELL if we’re gonna let health reform die!  So who’s with me!?  LET'S DO IT!……”  And that’s when he ran out of the room, fist in the air, with no one following him.  Now this is all speculation, of course.  It may not have happened exactly like this, but I' m sure it's pretty close.
Later that day, a recomposed Pelosi held her news conference. Caving to the pressure of the republicans, the lobbyists, and the conservative democrats, she announced that the public option would not be a part of the health reform legislation to come out of the House.  To the dismay of the Senate democrats who have the votes to pass it, and the majority of Americans who support the public option this announcement was both shocking and disappointing, but just like Joe Biden said, “Nothing’s over untill WE decide it is!”  We the People want real competition in Health Care!  We the People want lower premiums! We the People want the insurance companies to be held accountable! We the People want a Public Option!  SO LET'S DO IT!… (c’mon, don’t leave me hangin’ here people.)

Call your Representative and Speaker Pelosi today and demand the Public Option.

You can e-mail Speaker Nancy Pelosi at

You can write your Rep at

Check to see if your Senator is supporting the Public Option at

Sign the petition to include the Public Option in the House Bill at



Yaba-Daba-Doo! Fred Flintstone was "Gay"!


There was a time in this country when the word “gay” meant happy.  “Gay” was a common word in many popular songs.  For example the song “Twistin’ the Night Away” by Sam Cooke went "Let me tell you 'bout a place, Somewhere up-a New York way, Where the people are so gay, Twistin' the night away-ay…"  Or in the Christmas song Deck the Halls, they sing “Don we now our gay apparel.”  In the song “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story, Maria sings “I feel pretty and witty and gay.” Even Elvis sang songs that had the word “Gay” in it and as far as I know, Elvis was heterosexual. The Flintstones theme song ended with telling us that “We’ll have a gay old time!” There was no other meaning to the word “gay” then happy.  The word had no connotation to homosexuality in any way shape or form.  But somehow in the early seventies the word came to be associated with people who were attracted to the same sex.  “Homosexual” was considered to be to clinical.  “Queer” was to insulting.  “Gay” just seem to fit.  The truth is people have been gay for as long as there have been people.  This is nothing new. Homosexuals didn’t all of a sudden appear when the word Gay started being used to describe them.  Today, whether the Christian right likes it or not, Gay men and women exist in every level of our society.  They are doctors and lawyers, politicians and pastors.  They are teachers, they are mothers, they are fathers, they are our co-workers, and our neighbors. And they are even our soldiers.  The amazing thing is that in every aspect of our society, except for the military, a person can be openly gay with out fear that they will face legal retribution for being gay.  Yet in our military, for the past 17 years we have tolerated legalized discrimination through a policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.  What’s missing from that policy is “and Pray to G-d you Don’t Get Caught”.  In the military, being gay is not just frowned upon it is a crime that is punishable not only by dishonorable discharge but by imprisonment.  A person can go to jail in the military simply for there sexual preference.  In all other parts of our society this intolerance of sexual orientation is considered a hate crime but in our military it’s considered standard policy.
But now congress is considering the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a move that is long over due.  On Wednesday the Pentagon promised congress that they would provide an honest assessment on whether allowing gays to serve openly might cause troops to lose their edge in battle.  Let’s think about this for a moment.  If you consider that the estimated percentage of U.S. Citizens who are openly gay is 4%, and if we apply that same percentage to the amount of active troops currently serving in our military, which is about 1,475,000, then there are about 59,000 men and women currently in our military who are gay.  That’s a lot of gay soldiers, gay soldiers who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, helping with relief efforts in Haiti, manning our nuclear subs and protecting our coast lines.  It’s not like if all of a sudden if we allow them to be openly gay they are going to ask for pink uniforms and start redecorating the mess hall.  Most likely nothing will happen, except the tables will turn and the ones being prosecuted will be those who are showing intolerance to gay individuals.  But there must be some precedence set for this somewhere around the world?  There must be at least one other country that allows openly gay men and women to serve, that can give us some type of indication of how this would affect our military?  Well actually there is.  You see there are 25 other countries that around the world don’t make there soldiers hide who they are and don’t send them to prison for it either.  They are:
Czech Republic,
New Zealand,
South Africa,
United Kingdom,
and Uruguay.
As you can see, precedence has been set.  We would be far from the only country who openly allows gays to serve in the military.  But what most of us don’t seem to realize is that many of our troops have already served with openly gay men and women in the military.  One of our biggest allies is the United Kingdom.  They have been right by our side through both wars in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.  And as far as I know there were no reports of problems with troop morale because of an openly gay soldier fighting right next to them for the same freedoms as everyone else.  In fact as far as I know, they had a gay old time.