It's about the megaphone

A recent analysis by Orcinus points out that:

People listen to their radios a lot in rural America. Maybe it has something to do with the silence of the vast landscapes where many of them live; radios break that silence, and provide the succor of human voices.
If you drive through these landscapes, getting radio reception can sometimes be iffy at best, especially in the rural West. Often the best you can find on the dial are only one or two stations.
And the chances are that what you'll hear, at nearly any hour, in nearly any locale, is Rush Limbaugh. Or Michael Savage. Or maybe some Sean Hannity. Or maybe some more Limbaugh. Or, if you're really desperate, you can catch one of the many local mini-Limbaughs who populate what remains of the rural dial. In between, of course, there will be a country music station or two.
That's what people in rural areas have been listening to for the past 10 years and more. And nothing has been countering it.

This is no casual observation. The lack of a balancing voice in rural radio allows the radical right hatred propaganda machine to work. Just ask your grandparents what it was like to live during the War, listening to the radio as your primary source of news. We need a permanent, progressive rural radio voice. (We have enough in the blue states already.) And not a satyrical one, but a deadly serious one that speaks to the concerns of the heartland, that promotes compassion rather than hate, that debunks the venom that corrodes the soul.

The Stakeholder Still Going Strong

Usually the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would be gone until the next election. This time things are different, and their blog, The Stakeholder, is still going strong.


What The World Is Hearing

I don't know if stories like this are true, but they are what the rest of the world is hearing. Combined with stories like this, it makes us look very bad.


Red State Killer Moms

I’ve long been of the opinion that we should fight fire with fire, so I’m going to be totally despicable and ask a nasty question: why do Texan moms kill so many of their kids?

I’ve linked below to stories of seven different Texan mothers who killed their own children by drowning, beating, poisoning, beheading, and stabbing. In all there were 13 dead kids, with two unsuccessful attempts and two doubtful cases.

In five of the cases the mother gave religious reasons for her deed. In most cases, mental illness had previously been diagnosed, and in several cases the state had made ineffectual attempts at intervention. In some cases mental health care had been refused. In most of the cases the father left the kids at home with his mentally-ill wife.

Texas, of course, ranks toward the bottom in the provision of such services as child protection and mental health care. It also ranks high in the proportion of conservative religion believers who hold that the husband is the master and that the wife (as “the weaker vessel”) must submit to him. Contemporary preachers tend to be evasive about this doctrine, but Paul also taught that slaves should submit to their masters, and the idea is about the same.

Red state Christians are always denouncing us secular blue staters as damned sinners wallowing in iniquity (Massachusetts! New York! Hollywood!) -- but two can play that game. There are those who say that we Democrats should be above this kind of slime, but how well has the nice-guy approach been working?

Christians and conservatives will be judged too. If they are willing to start playing a clean game, they should get in touch with me and maybe we can work something out. But something tells me that that’s not going to happen. The Moral Majority has been winning playing the dirty game, and they’re a lot better at it than I am.

Texan explains that it really isn’t a Texas problem

Andrea Yates, Dee Laney, Lisa Ann Diaz, Demetria Evans / Lisa Ann Diaz / Angela Camacho / Dena Schlosser / Martha Burks

Christian Marriage I / Christian Marriage II / Christian Marriage III

Bonus -- Newt Gingrich:

Before the 1994 election, Newt Gingrich went on national TV to blame the Democrats for the fact that Sharon Smith had murdered her two children. This was despicable enough on the face of it, but it later turned out that Smith was the stepdaughter of Beverly Russell, an important figure in the South Carolina Republican Party and the Christian Crusade, who had been sexually molesting Smith since her middle teens. Newt became Speaker of the House after that election, and has never apologized to this day. (And really, how could he? What he said was beneath contempt, and indicative of bad character. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue or a sudden outburst).

There’s even more here if you read to the bottom -- you’ll find a connection to George Bush and Iran-Contra!

Second Bonus:
Republican Islamofascists and idiotarians (somewhat out of date)


"Declaration Of Independence Banned" - It's A Lie!

I don't have much time right now but I want to bring attention to this "news" story Declaration of Independence Banned at Calif School:
A California teacher has been barred by his school from giving students documents from American history that refer to God -- including the Declaration of Independence.

Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek School in the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Cupertino, sued for discrimination on Monday, claiming he had been singled out for censorship by principal Patricia Vidmar because he is a Christian.
Summary (inferred) - the teacher was forcing his students to listen to and read "Christian Nation" propaganda. The school asked him to stop. The teacher is suing the school with the help of a right-wing "Christian Law" organization, the Alliance Defense Fund. (Also see this.)

The school did not "ban the Declaration of Independence" -- that is just a lie. This story is like when you hear that a man was "arrested for praying" and you find out he was kneeling in the middle of a busy intersection at rush hour and refused to move.

This is the BIG STORY today, on Rush, and Drudge, and the rest of the Usual Suspects. And it is a carefully planned and carefully timed lie.

The story is timed for this afternoon so that it cannot be refuted until Monday.

It is timed to cause fights and hatred at family Thanksgiving dinners across the country.

It is part of a strategy to reinforce a "conventional wisdom" notion that "liberals" are "going too far" with their demands of separation of church and state.

People For the American Way has a web page about the Alliance Defense Fund. From PFAW:
ADF's Founders:

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ

Larry Burkett, founder of Christian Financial Concepts

Rev. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family

Rev. D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries

Marlin Maddoux, President of International Christian Media

Don Wildmon, founder of American Family Association
(And 25+ other ministries)
President and General Counsel: Alan Sears
Date of founding: 1994
Finances: $15,411,093 (2001 budget)
And note this:
ADF defines itself by its ability to strategize and coordinate with lawyers all over the United States.
[. . .]
ADF also defends the right of Christians to 'share the gospel' in workplaces and public schools, claiming that any efforts to curb proselytizing at work and school are anti-Christian.
"Strategize and coordinate." Sounds like what's happening with this story, planted on Rush and Drudge, in time for the holiday. I hope that other bloggers can pick up on this. I suspect many of us are going to miss how important this is -- how big of an effect this is going to have on things we care about. This story is designed as ammunition for family conversations tomorrow.

As I write this, O'Reilly is on the air on FOX saying "Another ruling by an activist judge that puts us all in danger." That's an exact quote. It isn't about this story, but it reinforces it: Yet more "liberals' who are "going too far."

See the forest. See how this stuff works!

Update - I have a more few pre-holiday minutes to spend on this... To be clear about this story, the school said the teacher could not use handouts that included quotes from the Declaration and other documents. A San Mateo Times story (where I live) says,
"She then prevented Williams from giving students several handouts including:
- Excerpts from the Declaration of Independence with references to "God," "Creator," and "Supreme Judge."
And from the Alliance's press release,
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit yesterday against the Cupertino Union School District for prohibiting a teacher from providing supplemental handouts to students about American history because the historical documents contain some references to God and religion. [emphasis added]
Supplemental handouts, huh? I wonder where he got those from?

That's all this is. The rest is strategic disinformation -- agitprop.

And for the Right's spin on the story -- how's suing for saying "Merry Christmas?"

Update II - Digby's on it too. And the blogosphere is picking it up: Atrios, Daou Report. Now Blue Lemur, Liberal Oasis, Information Clearing House, First Draft, APJ, archy, different strings, Homeschool, Brilliant at Breakfast, Kidding on the Square, What It Is Today, Vegacura, The Peking Duck, Scoobie Davis, Mouse Words, pquesblog, Akkams Razor, Grinblog, Agblog, Steve Gilliard, Exile on Main Street, Off the Cuff, Mahablog, skippy, Julia at American Street, culture kitchen, the 23rd monkey, Majikthise (settle down, Richard), An old soul. We might just get the major media involved and beat this lie down before it does too much damage!

Update III Too late. Damage done. Drudge has posted the phone number of the principal of the school.

The word '"inferred" after 'Summary' has been added.

Truest comment, spotted at Blue Lemur: "2 years from now, the right-wingers will still be talking about that story like it was true."

Defending America?

The Left Coaster, in Dead-Checking discovers that war crimes might be part of our military doctrine.
"It doesn't matter if later on we find out you wiped out a family of unarmed civilians."
I understand the need to protect yourself and others in combat. But for Americans, being in combat assumes that you are in that situation because you are fighting to defend America and Americans.

From the post,
As one marine said: "What does the American public think happens when they tell us to assault a city?" one of them said. "Marines don't shoot rainbows out of our a**es. We f**king kill people."
So, did "the American people" tell them to assault a city? If so, why? What American interest was served?

Is what we did in Fallujah, and are doing now in the Sunni Triangle, about defending America? Is what we are doing in Iraq about defending America?

Many so-called "conservatives" will argue that all of this is justified by long-term goals of democratizing the Middle East. (At least, those "conservatives" who accept this particular justification-of-the-day.) Is that why we're there? Other "conservatives' will give different justifications for the invasion.

Why did we invade Iraq? You get different answers depending on who you ask. And that ought to tell us something about all of this. Even conservatives, I would think.

It is said that democracies do not choose go to war, unless attacked. In fact, this is part of the justification for the "democratizing the Middle East" argument. And maybe there was justification for invading Iraq if our government really did believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and had the means and immediate intent to use them against us. That was certainly the justification used to sell the war to the public. (A second war at a time when we were already engaged in another war - against al-Queda.) But it has long since become clear that this argument was only used to trick the public into supporting the invasion. (Even war-supporters have to admit this.) In any event, Saddam and his party are no longer running Iraq, and we know there are no weapons of mass destruction and weren't any for a decade.

Here we are, going on two years since we invaded, and no one can even really pin down why we did it. Everyone has their own theory.

An Email From England...

Here's an e-mail I received from England:
After numerous rounds of "We don't even know if Osama is still alive," Osama himself decided to send George W. a letter in his own handwriting to let him know he was still in the game.

Bush opened the letter and it appeared to contain a coded message:

Bush was baffled, so he e-mailed it to Colin Powell. Colin and his aides had no clue either so they sent it to the FBI. No one could solve it so it went to the CIA, and then to the NSA, then to the Secret Service. With no clue as to its meaning, they eventually asked Canada's RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) for help.

The RCMP e-mailed the White House. "Tell the President he is looking at the message upside down."


Kid Oakland wants Fighting Democrats:
"Basically, if you can't be a fighting Democrat in 2004, then you really shouldn't be a Democrat at all. "

The Waters Above the Firmament: Christians will be judged too

Evolution isn't the only problem for creation science. There are also some troublesome passages in Genesis relating to cosmology:

"And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.

God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good."

Genesis 1:6-7

What are the "waters above the firmament"? For that matter, what is the firmament? It seems to mean the sky, and the idea seems to be that the firmament is something solid holding the stars in place, and that water was above the firmament, just as water surrounds the earth and is below it.

The problem is that this seems to have nothing to do with the astronomical system we know about and live in. Not only liberal Christians, but most Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians give this (and many other passages in scripture) figurative or metaphorical rather than literal interpretations.

Unfortunately, the first principle of the majority of American conservative Christians is that every word of the Bible is literally true, and as a result fundamentalists are forced to come up with some kind of explanation for "the waters above the firmament". Even a century ago (or as far as that goes, 1400 years ago at the time of Cosmas Indicopleustes) this concept was pretty far-fetched, but when men walked on the moon in 1969 the idea became ludicrous. But the fundamentalists soldier on, retranslating the Hebrew, postulating massive changes for which there is no evidence, and finding signs of water on Mars. They might just as well try to prove that the earth is flat, too, while they're at it, but they never seem go quite that far any more -- God knows why.

(There's also the theory that the waters above the firmament are sentient beings, though few fundamentalists seem to have involved themselves in this aspect fo the question either: "Let the waters that are above the heavens praise the name of the Lord" -- Psalm 148:4; "Ye waters that are above the heavens, bless the Lord."-- Deuteronomy 3:60).

And then there's the seven-headed dragon rising from the sea. A lot of our fundamentalist friends not only believe that Armageddon is nigh, but they are praying that it will come soon, so that they can see their enemies (us) dying horrible deaths.

Many of the fundamentalists I have known have been kindly, decent people, but they were also terribly fearful people who live in a very small world, and the mandates of their belief essentially required them to reject most of science. It's not just evolution -- anything that goes against the literal word of the Bible must be rejected. Granted what we know about their approach to science, it's not hard to understand how they could believe George W. Bush on WMD and al Qaeda. Essentially, they have made a principled rejection of all rational and critical thought, and for them Science is an enemy, an adversary of religion which must be resisted or destroyed.

Recently the odious George Will and the egregious twit David Brooks have been happily explaining to us that our failure to respect the deeply-held religious beliefs of a big chunk of the Republican core constituency proves that we are elitists. You have to give these guys credit for not bursting out laughing when they make these pronouncements. Brooks and Will are plump, prosperous scam artists who make their living suckering the Republican core constituency, among others, and nobody in the world has less respect for their victims than these two do.

All in all, while I recognize the political problem for the Democratic Party in trying to win elections when so many voters hold these irrational, cruel beliefs, it is hard for me to understand why why these voters should be respected. And (going a little further, and speaking a language that Christians can understand) it seems clear to me that the Armageddon Christians are doing harm, and that instead of relying on the mercy of Christ to rescue them from the consequences of their actions, they should stop and think.

For Christians will be judged too.

PS: This is double-posted from my other, less-political site, Idiocentrism, where you also will find a number of links to creation scientists, etc. While I actually think that Democrats should make overtures to moderate Christians, this whole debate has been given an obnoxious conservative Christian spin. The Armageddon Christians speak of their enemies as evil and of themselves as good, but they suffer from a desperate need for self-examination, and until they look at themselves, they are at risk of continuing to function as evildoers.


How the media works

"In 2002, I was an on-air commentator at MSNBC, and also senior producer on the "Donahue" show, the most-watched program on the channel. In the last months of the program, before it was terminated on the eve of the Iraq war, we were ordered by management that every time we booked an antiwar guest, we had to book 2 pro-war guests. If we booked two guests on the left, we had to book 3 on the right. At one meeting, a producer suggested booking Michael Moore and was told that she would need to book 3 right-wingers for balance. I considered suggesting Noam Chomsky as a guest, but our studio couldn't accommodate the 86 right-wingers we would have needed for balance."

There's more....

Le Monde's picks

There's always at least one terrific photo at Le Monde's images du jour. Today, a bunch.



Fallujah's refugees

Woman in the street in Stavropol

Blog Hero Award

Matt Stoller is hereby awarded the coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award, for his piece today, How I Refound My Optimism. Naturally you gotta go read the whole thing. But here's a bit:
"As the bloggerati became irrelevant in the glare of the final days, and organizing that we could not do took over, people sat, fidgeted, and bitched at each other online to get offline and 'do something', echoing the Ashcroftian idea that dissent is unpatriotic, only this time asking me not to dissent against Kerry, a man who refused to stake out a coherent set of ideals to run on, and did so in my name and the name of my party.

[. . .] This is not a conservative country - Kerry ran a horrible campaign, and still received 48% of the vote. But it is a country whose ability to pick leadership at all levels is in utter shambles. The depth of the loss brought that home. Democrats are in the opposition, which is tremendously freeing in that irrelevancy allows us to ditch all the special interests who have sank their teeth into our necks.

[. . .] I cared about Kerry's election for one reason - I didn't want the American people to ratify torture. But we did. So the loss was awful, but I never expected 'everything to be alright' even if Kerry had won. Still, the reaction to what happened was incredibly discouraging. Democrats have still not figured out, and apparently will not figure out, how to act like an opposition.

[. . .] [. . .] Americans have decided that everything is basically ok, and don't want to rock the boat. The right knows this, that they cannot legitimately change the constitution, so they put airy rhetoric to the test and claim a mandate to slip in a reversion to Medieval times in the backdoor. It is wrong, but it comes because we have not led. When we do, and when Americans are ready to put their minds to genuine constitutional change, the right will fall, as the Confederacy did before them."
Now you gotta go read it.

I've met Matt. Matt is going to be at least a Senator some day.


People, Listen To This Man!

Now only Bush can stop the neocons' wars:
"What is happening in Washington today is that those who were skeptical of the Iraq war and warned the White House against going in are being purged. And those who assured President Bush it would be a cakewalk, that we would be welcomed with flowers and not suicide bombers, that democracy would take root in Iraq and spread through the region, that he would be the Churchill of his generation, are being promoted. Those who were wrong are being advanced, and those who were right are being dismissed.

[. . .] With neoconservatives even more zealously committed than he to the "Bush doctrine'' of pre-emptive strikes and preventive war on "axis of evil' nations seeking weapons of mass destruction, and using U.S. power to effect regime change on defiant nations, only Bush can now prevent them from realizing their vision.

The United States, with 80 percent of its ground forces home from Iraq, in Iraq or on the way, does not have the ground troops to fight another land war. Indeed, there may not be enough troops in-country to defeat the spreading insurgency in Iraq.

Air or missile strikes on Iran would bring Iranian support for anti-American guerrillas in Afghanistan, in the Shiite areas of Iraq, in Lebanon, perhaps in Saudi Arabia. The Middle East could erupt in war. Who would support us in such a war that would send the price of oil and gas soaring and plunge the West into recession?"
I'm making you go there to see who wrote this. He is one of very, very few "Conservatives" who have not been bought off by the corporate/crony movement. He is someone who sticks to his principles and tells it how he sees it.


Got $500,000,000.00?

First of all, we need to spend about 500 million dollars on a complete new media system. We need national TV and cable networks, a high quality national newspaper, and a national radio network. Everybody in the country, as near as possible, should have access to all of them. Air America is a start, but only reaches 50% or so of the population.

I don’t listen to the radio, but when Air America came to Portland (already a liberal city) I noticed a change in ambience. You started hearing liberal ideas unexpectedly and accidentally in public places. You heard apolitical people talking about things that normally only political people talk about.

A lot of people have no real political ideas of their own, but just pick them out of the air. These are the undecided voters that I call fluff voters. The fluff voters’ votes are decided by the free and cheap media that they passively receive, and by and large these cheap media are hard-right or center-right.

What should this new media be like? In some ideal world I suppose we should just ask for a fact-oriented, fair-minded, professional media, but whether or not that’s even a valid, attainable ideal at all, it won’t work now. Because that’s exactly what the major media claim to be, and the major media (network TV, the WaPo, the NYT) are the biggest part of the problem.

What has happened is that the Republicans have adopted the big-lie tactic, and if they are called on their lies they immediately make loud accusations of media bias. The answer to that one is “If the truth is partisan, print the truth”, but none of the major media have the guts to follow that policy in the face of well-organized opposition.

As a result, what we have in the press is a lot of solid conservatives, a lot of neutral centrists, and a lot of wimpy, intimidated liberals of the Kristoff-Applebaum-Cohen type who fall all over themselves trying to avoid right-wing criticisms by criticizing both sides equally. (Novak, Safire, and Will were all Republican operatives before they became columnists. Who do the Democrats have to match them? – and don’t say Stephanopolous or Estrich).

Anyway, I think that the major media are hopeless. And the new media should be more accurate than Fox, but equally fair and equally partisan. They’re going to be accused of partisanship anyway, so they might as well earn their reputation. The thing most missing in the passive media is simply the partisan expression of the liberal Democratic point of view, and above all, the partisan reporting of the facts which support the liberal position.

Yeah, 500 million bucks is a lot of money. But I really think that that’s what it’s going to take. Does George Soros happen to be listening?

P. S. Later I’ll talk more about the fluff voters, but this piece in the New Republic is required reading [login "gorevidal/ gorevidal", or go to this summary]. The gist of what I’ll be saying is that we have to do whatever is necessary to communicate with that segment of the electorate, because even if we don’t like them, they’re part of the ballgame. Prissiness really hurts us.

P.P.S. A commentator mentioned the Minnesota DFL Party, and I thought I'd post this link to the "Floyd B. Olson Page". As the Farmer-Labor Governor of Minnesota, Olson was as radical as anyone who ever held power in the US.

I'm back

Well, during my little break I pretty much got on top of my various computer and financial problems, and also got my family Christmas plans squared away. So I'm back on duty at Seeing the Forest.

With the election over and done with, it's now time to concentrate on the longer view, and I'll mostly be writing about the broad overall picture rather than about timely stuff. The two main focusses will be, "How paranoid should we be?" and "What should we be doing from here on out?"

On the first question, I've decided that, Godwin's law or no Godwin's law, Bush is not Hitler. He's a Juan Peron for the middle class. Peron got total control of the government, bought enormous popularity while bankrupting his nation, and intimidated his enemies by fair means and foul. (The Broadway musical "Laura!" still remains to be written -- let that be a hot tip for an up-and-coming young librettist out there somewhere.)

As for "What should we be doing?", I'll be writing about that later today.

So anyway, I'm still with you. But I have started a new, less-political site called Idiocentrism. During my two-and-a-half years of political obsession I've neglected many of my other interests, and if I let politics take over my life completely, Bush and Osama win.