|December 30, 2013||Duck Travesty||2 comments|
|December 17, 2013||We need Billy Jack again||11 comments|
|December 06, 2013||Fox dupes Senator Judson Hill||2 comments|
|November 26, 2013||Crypto-racism||4 comments|
|November 13, 2013||Shortchanged at KSU Marketplace||2 comments|
|November 11, 2013||Pragmatism beats nihilism||no comments|
|October 31, 2013||Shooting Obamacare blanks||15 comments|
|October 23, 2013||Patriotism Monopoly||11 comments|
|October 14, 2013||Tea party owns shut down||5 comments|
|October 01, 2013||Anti-LGBT views abhorrent||3 comments|
I was sorry to see Tom Laughlin, the creator of the iconic “Billy Jack” movie franchise, passed away. Very few film heroes fought injustice the way Laughlin’s former Green Beret did.
Billy Jack eschewed reason for round house kicks, negotiations for knock-out punches. He blasted bullies, rapists, white collar criminals and other assorted low-lifes, all of whom richly earned his ire.
His mission in life, judging by the only Billy Jack film I saw, was to protect the vulnerable and he always seemed to be in the right place at the wrong time, at least as far as the bad guys were concerned.
Billy would approach his leering enemy and calmly explain why what the creep had done was profoundly wrong - then came the karate chop to the throat or a boot to the head.
Billy Jack appeared at a time when President Richard Nixon was lashing out at his critics and particularly students protesting the Vietnam War. It became evident the Nixon administration would resort to any means necessary to suppress the anti-war protests when National Guard soldiers murdered four unarmed students at Kent State.
So Laughlin, a left wing political activist, produced an allegory for those sad times.
Billy Jack shows up at an “alternative” school in Arizona. It’s more like a hippie commune, but the point is nobody there is looking for trouble, just like the anti-war protesters exercising their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble.
Standing in for the Nixon administration are the local racists and red necks who make life miserable for the school's students and teachers.
Billy Jack represents justice, however harshly its meted out, and the dirt bags are soon getting what's coming to them as Billy shows them just how tough a liberal can be.
In 1977, Laughlin produced a sequel to his hugely successful first film called “Billy Jack Goes to Washington," but those were tame times compared to the tea party bullies on Capitol Hill nowadays.
I’d like to send Billy Jack to the House tea party caucus when it meets. Here’s the scene:
Billy, wearing his trademark jean jacket and flat brimmed hat with the Hopi bead band, stands in the caucus room, arms akimbo, glaring at the 80 House tea party representatives.
Billy: So, Broun, you and these others want to cut food stamps by 40 billion dollars?
Broun confidently glances at the 79 others in the caucus with a smirk.
Broun: Yeah, that’s right. Says in the Bible them what don’t work don’t eat. Get it?
Billy smiles ruefully and shakes his head.
Billy: But food stamps help little kids, old people, even unemployed veterans. I think you should put that 40 billion back in your legislation. I know you don’t want any trouble.
Broun: What, from you?
Billy: That’s right.
Broun: Just you…nobody else?
Billy: Uh huh.
Broun: We ain’t afraid o’ you…
Every year about this time Fox News gears up for its “war on Christams” blitizkerig. The goal of this deliberate miscommunications campaign is to portray progressives as anti-Christian.
And every year, Fox News is exposed as a purveyor of this silly and false propaganda.
State Sen. Judson Hill can attest because he was dupped into believing a Fox News story that accused an elementary school in Bulloch County, Georgia with “confiscating” Christmas cards.
It turns out the Fox reporter, serial misinformer Todd Starnes, never checked with school administrators to verify the story. If he had he would have learned the cards were removed "due to a legitimate personal privacy concern," according to administrators who added, “holiday traditions and especially those of Christmas are alive and well.”
“I am disappointed in the Bulloch County Board of Education banning Christmas cards & encourage them to reverse themselves,” Tweeted Sen. Hill, who followed that one up later with, “I will explore possible legislation, if needed, to protect religious freedom of GA taxpayers in GA schools as a result of this action.”
Let’s recap: a lie presented by Fox News and re-reported by other far right wing media as fact was repeated by a Georgia elected official representing not Bulloch County but Cobb County, 200 miles away.
This is a terrific example of how the far right media noise machine works.
Misinformation, distortions and, in this case, an outright lie, is circulated because it affirms the prejudices of the Fox audience, Sen. Hill and any of his constituents who follow him.
Rest assured, the fact that the original report was blatantly false will never be corrected by Fox News (which rarely if ever corrects itself) so as far as the collective audience is concerned, it’s true.
The second problem is Hill pandering to the religious right in his Tweet, “…protect religious freedom of GA taxpayers in GA schools”?
What the heck is Hill talking about?
I’m a Georgia tax payer and I don’t want any religion in the public schools for which my tax dollars pay. There are plenty of private schools for parents who want to send their kids to classrooms where religion is part of the curriculum.
The Supreme Court ruled on this years ago. Why is Sen. Hill threatening to take the law into his own hands?
You can’t be overtly racist anymore. So to express their hatred and intolerance, racists have resorted to a kind of code. You substitute more generally accepted words for the ones you can’t use.
An example of crypto-racism in on display in Dr. Mel Fein’s most recent MDJ column. In it, the sociology professor from Kennesaw State University lashes out at poor people, just in time for Thanksgiving. He uses the word “poor” in place of black, but his message comes through loud and clear.
So completely repugnant and prejudiced are his opinions, they invite translation:
“The fact that the poor are frequently the authors of their own misery is indeed a painful truth,” Fein begins.
This is scarcely a novel observation. It of course overlooks the cycle of poverty that keeps the poor/blacks where they are. They have made great strides in breaking the cycle in other developed nations by providing job training, child care, access to reproductive education and healthcare services, quality education and after school programs, drug and alcohol counseling and other significant social services, but Fein doesn’t want to discuss or advocate those advancements. He’d rather blame the victim.
“(T)he vast majority are too disorganized to make such efforts (to start businesses),” scoffs Fein.
When he says “disorganized” Fein actually means “lazy.” As in most all of his columns, Fein doesn’t employ research or statistics to support this argument. He just repeats a threadbare stereotype about poor/black people.
“(T)he poor, even if they have insurance, often do not seek help. Doctors, whom they regard as of a higher class, make them uncomfortable. As a result, even when they have Medicaid, they tend to stay home,” Fein baselessly declares.
Now Fein suggests that poor/black people have an instinctual inferiority complex that prevents them from seeking medical help when they are sick. Fein is apparently unaware of the multitudes of poor/black people showing up at free clinics nor does he have any data on the number of poor/black people not using their Medicaid benefits.
"(W)hen they do see a physician, they are inarticulate when explaining their symptoms. Both intimidated by the doctor and generally inartful in expressing themselves, they make poor reporters of their own conditions. But since self-reports are a physician’s primary means of initiating a good diagnosis, understanding what is wrong becomes problematic,” says the professor.
This passage is not only fact-free, it’s transparently racist. No translation is necessary.
“(T)he poor don’t enjoy being pushed around (and rich white people do?) — by anyone, and that includes doctors. As a result, they are less apt to follow medical directions. Perhaps they do not get off their feet when so advised or they refuse to take a prescribed medication,”
Fein deploys a stunning generalization to make his baseless point: Poor/black people are “uppity” when being told what medication to take and how to use it because they “don’t enjoy being pushed around.”
“(T)he poor…drink too much, smoke too much, and eat too unwholesomely. Oddly, most do not even exercise sufficiently,” Fein concludes.
The professor is oddly ignorant that the same statement could be applied to many Americans, regardless of their ethnicity or economic status. But we already know what he really means and who he’s really talking about.
Dr. Fein ‘s crypto-racist opinions are appalling and mean spirited, borne of ignorance and personal bias. He’d do well to just keep his nasty opinions to himself and not besmirch his university any further.
What was billed as a “marketplace of ideas” at Kennesaw State University quickly devolved into a second hand store full of debunked Obamacare myths, unsubstantiated opinions, and crypto-racism. Presiding over this shopworn inventory was none other than Dr. Mel Fein, KSU’s favorite reactionary sociologist.
Fein was supposed to debate Obamacare with Dr. Kenneth White, an assistant professor of political science. After KSU President Dr. Dan Papp declared the ground rules, calling for civility and collegiality, Dr. White offered a well-reasoned and ably supported rationale for why Obamacare, once fully implemented, will curb the runaway cost of healthcare while insuring some 40 million Americans so the rest of us will no longer pay for their healthcare.
When it was his turn, Fein could barely contain his disdain for White. He proceeded to condescendingly pontificate on the evils of President Obama and his signature legislation repeatedly and annoyingly punctuating his fact-free presentation with an “oh, and by the way” rhetorical device that quickly became annoying.
Fein breezily dismissed White’s accurate healthcare data as “damned lies” before declaring that law suits against doctors represent 10 percent of the total cost of healthcare in the U.S. (the figure is actually about 2.5 percent).
When Dr. White explained that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast Obamacare would be paid for in 10 years, Fein’s response was “garbage in, garbage out,” evidently unaware that CBO numbers are accepted as reliable by both parties on Capitol Hill.
It became painfully evident White had prepared for the debate. Fein didn’t bother. Instead, he opined that poor people are incapable of starting businesses and noted, contrary to the Declaration of Independence, all men are not created equal.
The few times Fein did cite data, it was wrong. He insisted Obamacare had driven employers to place employees on part-time status to avoid paying for healthcare, a popular anti-Obamacare myth. In fact, labor statistics show part-time employment has fallen by 681,000 jobs this year.
Dr. Papp sat directly in front of Fein, so I couldn’t see his face but his body language resembled that of a man on the receiving end of a boiling water enema.
Meantime, the evening’s special guest speaker, the estimable sociologist Dr. Jonathan Imber of Wellesley College, was intently studying his shoelaces while Fein mindlessly vented his spleen. I’d love to be a fly on the wall of the faculty lounge at Wellesley when Imber regales his colleagues with his account of Fein’s presentation.
This was clearly not the sort of august and dignified forum Papp or the Dean of KSU’s College of Humanities and Social Studies, Dr. Robert Dorff, had in mind for their Marketplace of Ideas. Billed as “The Great Debate I: Obamacare – Yes or No?” the event was reminiscent of those times you invite an obnoxious uncle to dinner and by the end of the evening, you wish you hadn’t.
Tea partiers, did you hear that far-off rumbling this week? If you didn’t, here’s the forecast for 2014: a thunderstorm is coming that is going to blow your unpopular “movement” away.
Right-minded Americans are tired of the goofy guys in tricorn hats and their racist anti-Obama placards. You want some proof?
In Alabama’s severely conservative First Congressional District, the Republican establishment’s candidate Bradley Byrne knocked off tea party darling Dean Young.
In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie won re-election in a landslide attracting the votes of moderate Democrats, blacks and Hispanics.
In Virginia, Clinton insider Terry McAuliffe beat out the tea party’s Ken Cuccinelli for governor.
In New York City’s mayoral race, Democrat Bill de Blasio destroyed his Republican opponent.
It was mostly the same in smaller off-year races across the country. The tea party insurgency, to the extent there ever was one, was soundly beaten back. Voters chose pragmatism over nihilism. They want government to work, not shut down because a few whacko birds didn’t get what they wanted in the 2012 election cycle.
It was a stinging rebuke of extremists Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, Tom Price and their far right media enablers, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.
Now the establishment Republican Party, funded by the big money corporate interests who have a major stake in a functioning government and economy, has finally risen up.
As reported in the New York Times Nov. 7, “The party leaders pushing for changes want to replace state caucuses and conventions, like the one that nominated Mr. Cuccinelli, with a more open primary system that they believe will draw a broader cross-section of Republicans and produce more moderate candidates.”
With the holiday season upon us, the GOP reminds me of the film comedy, “Christmas Vacation,” in which Clark Griswold’s slovenly backwoods cousin Eddie shows up on Clark’s doorstep a few days before Christmas. After welcoming him, Clark quickly discovers he can’t get rid of Eddie and his inbred clan.
Like Eddie, the tea party has metaphorically dumped its RV’s sewage onto the GOP’s front lawn. Republicans who enthusiastically embraced their tea party cousins now sorely wish they hadn’t.
This is all good news for Democratic and moderate Republican candidates in 2014.
The Obama administration's unforced errors on the Affordable Care Act roll out have provided the president's critics with plenty of ammo.
As usual, however, they're firing blanks.
First, remember that all of this gleeful chest thumping is coming from the same people on Fox News and Capitol Hill who had no interest in knowing why George W. Bush let 4,500 Americans die in Iraq looking for non-existent WMD.
They're simply outraged that Obama could let the roll out flounder, but when it comes to a 10-year, $1 trillion war we didn't need to fight, not so much.
The right wing propaganda machine in in high gear, churning out one anti-Obamacare lie or distortion after the other. Another MDJ columnist wrote this:
"Florida’s largest carrier, Florida Blue, is terminating about 300,000 policies comprising 80 percent of its individual policies, reports Kaiser Health News (not associated with the insurance company)."
This is only half-true, but reading it and adding it to all the other lies and misinformation you've heard, you would be understandably inclined to believe this is more evidence of failure.
However, Patrick Geraghty, the CEO of Florida Blue, appeared on Meet the Press Sunday to explain that the 300,000 who had been contacted by the company...were not being cut: "What we've been doing is informing folks that their plan doesn't meet the test of the essential health benefits; therefore, they have a choice of many options that we make available through the exchange. And, in fact, with subsidy, many people will be getting better plans at a lesser cost."
Did you hear that: Better plans, lesser cost.
This is just one of many examples of how the conservative media latch on to some bit of information, true or not, distort it, then present it as fact without bothering to give the reader or viewer the full story.
Here's another from Dr. Ben Carson: Obamacare is "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery."
A program that aims to provide health insurance so 30 million uninsured Americans can get preventative and critical care is, ready, as immoral and horrific as holding human beings in servitude; brutally torturing those human beings; killing those human beings; tearing apart the families of those human beings; destroying the souls of those human beings.
This from an allegedly educated man.
Far right media are saying Obamacare web site cost $638 million. The number came from an article in Digital Trends, but the it's wrong, not that conservative talking heads like Sean Hannity would bother to get the story right.
"Who pays $634 million and has three years and screws it up that bad?" Hannity demanded to know.
"A conservative figure would be $70 million. A more modest figure would be $125 million to $150 million," wrote the Washington Post's Fact Checker describing the actual cost of the web site.
Then there is Betsy McCaughey, a frequent Fox News guest, who said Obamacare will vastly expand Medicaid and "pay for it by eviscerating Medicare, taking $700 billion out of Medicare and moving it over to fund this expansion of this entitlement. It's like robbing Grandma to spread the wealth."
Obamacare cuts no Medicare benefits. That's a lie and McCaughey and Fox know it's a lie.The facts don't support the Obama-Obamacare haters so they just make stuff up. The facts are these:
The Obamacare web site wasn't ready for launch Oct. 1. It is being fixed.
After it is fixed around November 30, if you have no health insurance, you'll be able to buy a policy that fits your needs and your budget even if you have a pre-existing condition.
If you have an individual policy and it is cancelled its because it doesn't comply with new standards so you'll get a better policy than the one you had, perhaps for less money.
If, like most Americans, you are covered by a group plan at work, nothing changes.
Those war dead belong to we conservatives! You progressives stay away from them!
That's the message from my local right wing critics. They read my two recent columns about Private David Parman, the late soldier from Missouri whose grave I visited last month in Luxembourg. He died during the Battle of the Bulge, just weeks before World War II ended.
I symbolically apologized to Private Parman for the chaos and dysfunction wrought by tea partiers in the House and Senate that brought the country to a stand still for nearly three weeks. I posited that Pvt. Parman died for a higher ideal, not the "look at me!" antics of Sen. Raphael Cruz and his nihilist nabob buddies, and certainly not for that sociopath, Sarah Palin.
The critics think they own patriotism. They believe you can't be patriotic if you don't agree with their narrow world view. It's not possible to honor America if you're a progressive like me, because we want to see the greater good served, not just what's good for millionaires and billionaires.
What my critics reveal about themselves is hypocrisy akin to Cruz's and Pailn's. They no doubt partake in "socialist" programs like Medicare and Social Security and if they don't today, they will soon. They may also have received unemployment benefits, or veterans benefits, or disability benefits, all of which could fall under their definition of "socialism" (as if they even understand the term). Yet they roundly condemn "government largesse" as "statist."
In fact, their comments could be lifted from any Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity rant. They remind me of the brainwashed soldiers in the "Manchurian Candidate" when they hear the name Raymond Shaw. Conservatives tick off by rote all the jive they've heard from conservative media types when they hear words like Obama or progressivism.
Their 18th century tea party notion of "small government" doesn't work in a 21st century country where 350 million people live in a highly complex socio-economic strata that promises to become even more complex in the decades ahead.
It is that complexity, in fact, with which these poor souls struggle. They desperately want things to be simpler, easier to understand, reduced to black and white. They pine for the days of Andy Griffith and Mayberry - a North Carolina town that had no blacks, by the way.
They get all that from Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and the rest, who are successful because they appeal to and affirm the audience's fear, ignorance and, yes, prejudice.
Patriotism isn't the private property of right wingers. It's a quality all Americans of good will share. Because I disagree with what you believe doesn't mean I'm unpatriotic.
So get over yourselves, conservatives. As I told one reader, I looked, and on none of the crosses or Stars of David in Luxembourg could I find the words "conservative" or "liberal."
They were just Americans who died defending all of us.
Laura Armstrong, an erstwhile MDJ columnist, wrote a piece last Sunday in which she blamed President Obama for the tea party shut down of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial made news last week when a group of veterans entered the grounds despite the closure.
I wouldn't react except Armstrong called me out by name in the on-line comments beneath her column. It would appear her thoughts were in response to my Friday column in which I symbolically apologized to Army Private David Parman for the tea party inspired anarchy gripping Washington.
I happened to visit Pvt. Parman's grave during a recent visit to Luxembourg and began thinking about what it was he died for during the Battle of the Bulge.
Certainly he didn't give his life for Ted Cruz's or Sarah Palin's vision of what America should be, a nation by and for the one percenters.
Speaking of those two nihilist whacko birds, they predictably showed up at a faux "rally of support for veterans" at the World War Two Memorial this past weekend that was actually what we call in the PR biz a photo opportunity.
This being the tea party, their phony shindig devolved into a racially-tinged march on the White House to demand Obama's impeachment.
That Cruz could show up with his tea party posse at the memorial is the height of hypocrisy since it was Cruz who demanded and got the memorial and most everything else in Washington shut down.
In fact, if Cruz and Palin had their way, there would be no World War Two Memorial. Nor would there be any memorials in Washington. Nor would there be an Arlington National Cemetery. Nor would there be any veterans benefits.
Cruz, Palin and their benefactors, the billionaire Koch brothers, just want the soldiers, sailors and airmen to serve as the cannon fodder in bogus wars that benefit nobody but the defense industry and its meat puppets on Capitol Hill. Then those vets need to just go away as far as Cruz and the rest are concerned.
But when they can corral a bunch of vets wearing medals and service caps, watch out if you're standing between Cruz and a Fox News camera! You see, Cruz needs to use them as props during his exploitative tea party rallies so he can advance his political career by impressing folks like Armstrong.
It would all be laughable if it wasn't so totally and tragically cynical.
I am very disappointed in my fellow MDJ columnist Roger Hines. I usually disagree with his opinions, but his arguments are generally thoughtful and well presented.
His Sunday column condemning the gay pride celebration at Kennesaw State University, however, is beyond the pale. I don’t think he’s a bigot, but his vicious words last Sunday dismissing the LGBT community as something subhuman were outrageous.
This isn’t the first time Hines has expressed his animus toward the LGBT community. I’m beginning to wonder if he has some sort of unhealthy obsession about what two consenting adults might be doing in private behind their bedroom door.
I’m sure if I looked hard enough I could find similar opinions in Southern newspapers 60 years ago – just cross out the Hines’ references to LGBT and replace them with “Negro” or “Jew” or “Chinaman.” Thankfully we outgrew those prejudices, or at least I hope we have.
Hines got one thing right: KSU is a public institution supported by tax payers. That includes Georgians who are lesbians, gay, bi-sexual and transgender.
Hines says Atlanta isn’t like San Francisco. Has he ever been to Atlanta? If he had, he would know the city, like San Francisco, is a home to a large and vibrant gay community. I lived in Atlanta. My neighbors were gay. I have worked with gay people my entire professional life. I have found them to be kind and generous, good people who were born the way they were and are proud of who they are.
Their crime, as far as Hines is concerned, is that they live a sexual life he doesn’t understand and abhors which would be fine if Hines kept his views to himself. Instead, he suggests in his column the LGBT community is trying to recruit young people at KSU, a tired and long-debunked myth.
Mr. Hines anchors his troubling opinions in a “Judeo-Christian ethic” while hoping “KSU is inclusive of conservative Christian students somewhere in all of their diversity.” I’d be careful invoking the name of Christ in this discussion if I were Mr. Hines because I’d ask him, “Who would Jesus hate?”
It’s 2013, not 1913 but Hines thinks it’s time to attack, marginalize and dehumanize LGBT people, mocking their sexual preferences and identity while casting them and those who support them like KSU President Dr. Dan Papp as misguided at best and evil at worst. As Mr. Hines puts it, “…we are really, really moving away from our traditional community values.”
Hines should take a ride some Friday evening to Swinging Richards, the gay strip club on Northside Drive, and check out all the cars parked in front with tags that say Cobb.
KSU is a great university because it is inclusive. Hines is wrong to project his so-called “values” on the university community and everyone else who lives in the county and state.
He received more on-line responses to his Sunday column than I think he’s ever gotten, most condemning his views, which should tell him his ill-informed assumptions about what all Cobb residents believe are way, way out of the mainstream.