RSSCategory: Media

How Rights Become Privileges: MO Amendment 2

August 8, 2012 | By | 15 Replies More

The 2012 Missouri primary had several important lessons to impart. The first, which I may have discussed in previous election years, is that the way to bring the “correct” voters to the polls is to have an apparently innocuous but important candidate or issue and a loud, contentious issue or candidate that only seems to matter to one side.

In this primary cycle, there was a preponderance of hotly contested Republican seats, and a very dangerous, never advertised Tea Party constitutional amendment. Republicans came out to vote overwhelmingly, and the Amendment passed resoundingly.

The full body of the amendment is at the bottom of this article.

Basically on the ballot it read as if it was just reinforcing the first clause of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

  • In reality, it says that people have the right to worship the (singular, Christian) Almighty God (but not all those others) including to pray whenever their conscience dictates (such as during science classes).
  • Public meetings can now be started with exclusionary prayers as long as the officiant is invited by someone.
  • I have not yet figured out how the mandatory publishing of the Bill of Rights in schools will be twisted, but I expect as a precedent to posting the Ten Commandments adjacent (as an alleged inspirational source)
  • Students cannot be punished for refusing to do assignments that might conflict with their faith (evolution, geology, astronomy, etc).

So I expect Missouri to soon be incurring legal fees on the order of replacing several major bridges, or (more likely) in lieu of funding science education for a decade.

[More (Including the language of the Amendment)]

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Elementary Election Protest Too Muchedness

July 31, 2012 | By | Reply More
Elementary Election Protest Too Muchedness

For the last few weeks I’d been receiving approximately daily post cards protesting the electric company considering a rate hike of more than a few percent in order to finance and build future power plants to replace some of the nearing dangerously obsolete ones. Some mailing came from a very liberal local politician with whom I generally agree. Someone is spending bales of money to encourage people to not-want to spend more for what they are already getting. Seems like sweeping the water downstream, to me.

But I’m a Tanstaafl skeptic: Rebuilding infrastructure without incurring crippling debt does not seem like such a bad idea, my knee jerks. Also, local electric rates are lower than when I was in college, when adjusted for inflation, so it seems about time for a rate hike, anyway.

Yesterday I finally got a rebuttal mailing that describes the finances behind this odd campaign: PAC affiliated with aluminum corporation at play in state Senate primaries. Yep, an aluminum company fears that it will have to raise prices, because a major part of the process of making it requires megawatts of electricity.

Here’s how aluminum is made, if you are at all curious:

So now we know who has the profitability to outspend a huge power company on a campaign to make people do what they want to do anyway, and things are making sense, again.

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Obescient news media

July 17, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More
Obescient news media

The American news media often fails, even in its self-appointed role as stenographer for powerful people. According to Glenn Greenwald,

“many American media outlets, including the NYT, give veto power to the Obama campaign (and, less so, to the Romney campaign), as well as political offices generally, over the quotes of its officials that are allowed to be published. . . . I genuinely do not understand how any self-respecting journalist could even consider agreeing to this. But they do, so much so that it is now widespread custom. I don’t primarily blame the Obama campaign or other politicians for this: it’s natural that they would want to manipulate the American media as much as possible for their own interests and use every instrument, no matter how journalistically unethical, to achieve that. But its extreme use now is reflective of the general fixation which the Obama administration has on secrecy and controlling the flow of information . . .”

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Old-fashioned patriotism involves substantial government financial support for aggressive and even offensive journalism

July 5, 2012 | By | Reply More
Old-fashioned patriotism involves substantial government financial support for aggressive and even offensive journalism

Robert McChesney and John Nichols have written an excellent book advocating substantial public support (much more than the government currently gives) to support first-rate journalism. The book is titled The Death and Life of American Journalism: the Media Revolution That Will Begin the World Again (2010).

This book begins with a diagnosis of modern journalism. One of the main problems is that modern journalists rely far too much on officials in power to set the news agenda. In fact, when politicians aren’t arguing about an issue, it tends to go completely under the media radar. Another problem is that much of our news is regurgitated press release material issued by powerful government and business officials. “The dirty secret of journalism is that a significant percentage of our new stories, in the 40-50% range, even at the most prestigious newspapers in the glory days of the 1970s, were based on press releases.” In the 1980s, the national workforce of PR specialists was about equivalent to the number of journalists in newspapers, radio and television. As of 2008, there were four times as many PR specialists as journalists. (Page 49).

[More . . . ]

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There is no news in St. Louis

July 3, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
There is no news in St. Louis

Newspapers are dying all over the United States. The headlines in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch (the only surviving daily paper in St. Louis) make you wonder how this paper has lasted even this long. As I review these cheesy headlines, I keep wondering “But what is the news?” Here are the top ten headlines featured on today’s Home Page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website:

  • Streak of 100-degree weather in St. Louis area hits five days
  • Allen Craig, hitting machine [Craig is a St. Louis Cardinal baseball player]
  • Find your fun for the 4th
  • Dog Days Quiz I: TV Dogs
  • Andy Griffith, ‘Sheriff Taylor,’ dies at 86.
  • Man bitten by copperhead in southeast Missouri dies
  • Photo: Webster Groves residents eagerly await parade
  • Missouri to get $32 million in GlaxoSmithKline fraud case
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Demonstration that the mainstream media is terrible

June 25, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More
Demonstration that the mainstream media is terrible

At Common Dreams, Cenk Uygur explains how bad the mainstream media is using the example of the individual mandate:

The individual mandate in the health care law was originally proposed by the Heritage Foundation, the most conservative think tank in the country. It was supported by almost every Republican in the country, including the first President Bush, Mitt Romney and conservative stalwarts like Orrin Hatch. Simply put, it was a conservative idea. There is no question about that; it is a fact.

Let me immediately digress to point out how terrible our media is since about 2% of the country knows that fact. If you asked the average American now, I’m sure they would say it was a liberal idea originally proposed by Barack Obama. Another fact — Barack Obama was originally opposed to the mandate during his campaign for president.

Uygur also uses this example to illustrate that Obama’s strategy of trying to work with the Republicans was wrongheaded.

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Why is Jerry Sandusky News?

June 19, 2012 | By | 6 Replies More
Why is Jerry Sandusky News?

I was sitting in the barber chair this morning, where they had on some national news show that spent the entire time I was there discussing the ongoing trial of (alleged) pedophile Jerry Sandusky. I’ve been hearing about this on news stations for months. They are spending as long on the nightly news discussing this trial as they do on the collapse of the European economies or the coups in various major oil-producing nations.

I am truly puzzled about the coverage. There are likely several pedophiles on trial any given day. Why are they not newsworthy? Is it because he is a coach? Many of them are. Was it because he was a winning coach?

I just don’t understand why this one (alleged) pedophile is as newsworthy as wars deposing dictators to replace them with democratically elected Islamist regimes. Are both events shaping the course of civilization?

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Glenn Greenwald: The presence of military leaders makes journalists stupid

June 12, 2012 | By | Reply More
Glenn Greenwald:  The presence of military leaders makes journalists stupid

You’ll need to look long and hard to find a journalist who, while interviewing a U.S. military leader, takes that leader to task. Glenn Greenwald offers a recent example of a journalist hero-worshiping a military leader instead of practicing real journalism: This incident involves Scott Pelley (of Sixty Minutes) pretending to interview Leon Panetta. Unfortunately, this phenomenon of pretend-journalism is not unusual:

There’s no effort even to pretend they’re doing journalism. They just proudly put it right out there: we’re going to spend the next 15 minutes paying homage to your government leaders and their war-fighting machine.

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The remedy for a very bad reputation: money.

June 11, 2012 | By | Reply More
The remedy for a very bad reputation:  money.

What do you do if 10,000 of your own people have been killed in your brutal crackdown, which is broadcast worldwide? According to this article by the NYT, you hire a sophisticated PR firm and get your pretty wife out front:

In March 2011, just as Mr. Assad and his security forces initiated a brutal crackdown on political opponents that has led to the death of an estimated 10,000 Syrians, Vogue magazine ran a flattering profile of the first lady, describing her as walking “a determined swath cut through space with a flash of red soles,” a reference to her Christian Louboutin heels. Fawning treatment of world leaders — particularly attractive Western-educated ones — is nothing new. But the Assads have been especially determined to burnish their image, and hired experts to do so. The family paid the Washington public relations firm Brown Lloyd James $5,000 a month to act as a liaison between Vogue and the first lady, according to the firm.

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