Sometimes…it’s overwhelming. I go out to the various news outlets looking for interesting items to present here, and I just can’t believe how many stories simply defy belief. Things our elected officials say…things our fellow citizens do…things that the media tells us…things the American people believe.
To give you an idea of what often makes me so incredulous…here’s just a simple list of the top ten ridiculous and disconcerting things I read about JUST TODAY:
1 – Economics with Caribou Barbie: Wednesday, former Alaska governor and former VP candidate Sarah Palin performed her first paid speaking appearance since resigning as governor, in Hong Kong, for an investment firm. While the press was not allowed at the gathering, smuggled-in recording devices quickly allowed the contents of her speech to be analyzed. It is not surprising that she spoke for 90 minutes (although it is arguably surprising that anyone would listen for that long). It is not surprising that she made repeated references to “Main Street, U.S.A.” and tried to play up her “down-homey-ness.” It’s not even surprising that, despite claims during the Bush administration by her and other Republicans that it is unacceptable to criticize the president while on foreign soil…she did JUST that. What is surprising…is her claim that the current financial crisis…is the result of “government intervention” and that THAT is the reason why it cannot be solved by government intervention. When economists stopped laughing they were quick to point out…that the crisis was caused by the systematic removal of government controls and regulation that has been taking place since the Reagan administration, and by necessity…those controls (as well as new ones) must be put back into place.
2 – It’s Not News…It’s FOX News: Ratings are out…despite repeatedly being caught directly parroting RNC talking points…being caught inciting and sponsoring so-called “grass roots” protests…besides being clearly identified as allowing their pundits to use their network as a platform for conspiracy theories, racist sentiments, and wildly false claims…besides brazenly presenting right-wing biased “news“…FOX News placed ahead of all other cable news outlets with an average of 1,405,000 daily viewers. By comparison, CNN was 21st on the list with 552,000 viewers. FOX News was 4th, after Nickelodeon, ESPN, and USA…revealing the priorities of Americans to be cartoons, sports, bad tv dramas, and pandering to base instincts…in that order.
3 – This Just In From Bizarro-land: Orly Taitz, the “attorney” filing numerous claims (including two forged Kenyan birth certificates) questioning Obama’s citizenship…has had her latest case thrown out of court by the judge who threatened Taitz with sanctions if there are further “frivolous” claims and said that she “…has presented no credible evidence and has made no reliable factual allegations to support her unsubstantiated, conclusory allegations and conjecture that President Obama is ineligible to serve as president of the United States. Instead, she uses her complaint as a platform for spouting political rhetoric, such as her claims that the president is ‘an illegal usurper, an unlawful pretender, [and] an unqualified imposter.“ Turns out…Taitz was representing a client…without the client’s permission. The supposed client, Connie Rhodes, says in a formal letter of complaint that she was never asked for permission by Taitz to file the legal suit…and never gave it. Rhodes also writes in the same letter that she plans to file a complaint with the bar association. Taitz…wait for it…thinks the Rhodes letter is a forgery.
4 - They Want To Believe: I don’t know what is more disappointing: the above piece…or the recent study by Public Policy Polling that shows that 42% of Republicans…believe that Obama wasn’t born in the United States.
5 – Delay…Delay…Oh Good, More Delay: By now, you may have hear that the Senate Finance Committee’s version of the Health Care bill is bogged down as they go through the “mark up” process, where the approximately 500 amendments to the bill (which are often times ridiculous to the point of being bad comedy) have to be individually examined and voted upon. While the clear intention of Republicans on the committee appears to be to “stall the bill to death,” Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) was more obvious than most in his tactics. He has called for a “three day delay“…so that LOBBYISTS can read the bill. This is amusing for two reasons: one…he is brazenly stating both his intention to cause delay AND to serve the lobbyists’ interests. And two…it is obvious in reading the Finance Committee’s version of the bill, that the LOBBYISTS WROTE IT, and are therefore already quite knowledgeable regarding its contents. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.VA) pointed out that these delays, and the inexplicable content of many of the amendments, show that “If there’s anything which is clear, it’s that the insurance industry is not running this markup, but is running certain people in this markup.“ Thank you Captain Obvious…and by the way, at their current pace, the mark-up will be completed…in seven months…
6 – He Was Someone’s Son…Someone’s Friend: A Census worker was found in Clay County, Kentucky…hanged and with the word “FED” written upon his chest. Local police think it MAY be a homicide…but aren’t ruling anything out. Meanwhile, sane people are calling for a more “civilized dialogue” before heated, oft violent, anti-government talk leads to violence…and the “wing-nut panderers” on the right, denounce anyone making such a “call to reason” as a “crybaby.” It is important to realize in the midst of all the “anti-government” venom…that government workers, like this poor individual, have their own stories: Bill Sparkman was a cancer survivor, and while working for the Boy Scouts of America, he discovered a love of teaching. While undergoing cancer treatments…he enrolled to get his degree in teaching and eventually became a substitute teacher. Not some “evil government bureaucrat“…not some “vile socialist“…just a good civil servant and teacher, who wanted to help his fellow citizens.
7 – Tortured Logic: Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) has formulated an interesting concept. Perhaps sensing that Americans are losing their vitriol towards gay marriage issues…but still have strong reactions to “socialism,” King proposes that : Gay Marriage…is socialism. King says, “So in the end this is something that has to come with a, if there’s a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together, living collectively off of one pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation. They want access to public funds and resources. Eventually all those resources will be pooled because that’s the direction we’re going. And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis.“ I’m not usual in favor of news laws regulating behavior or speech…but there certainly ought to be SOME penalty for abusing logic in this way.
8 – We Don’t Need No Steenking Warrants: Today, the Department of Justice’s assistant attorney general revealed that some of the powers that President Bush (and previous DOJ officials) asserted were given by the Patriot Act…really weren’t. In addition, during the same Congressional Hearing…the assistant AG revealed that most of the powers granted (and assumed) weren’t even used to fight terrorism, but were instead used in drug cases and other criminal matters. At one point, while the DOJ official attempted to justify the use of “roving wiretaps” which do not explicitly state who or what is to be searched, Senator Al Franken had to point out that what the official was saying…CLEARLY VIOLATES the Fourth Amendment: “…’no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized’…That’s pretty explicit language.“ The assistant attorney general muttered, “this is surreal,” and then replied, “I would refer to the other branch of government,” by which he obviously meant the courts. If there is one person who shouldn’t have to be read the Fourth Amendment, and shouldn’t be irritated at having to obey the Constitution…you would think it would be one of the country’s TOP LAWYERS.
9 – Isn’t She Delightful: Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) posted in a conservative blog that they are “proud to serve” with Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN). Any smart, sane politician would be working to distance themselves GREATLY from the increasingly unpopular, idiocy-spewing, electorally poisonous Representative from Minnesota. That’s your GOP leadership, ladies and gentlemen…it should be said that later, perhaps after coming to their senses, the post was removed.
10 – Asking For Trouble: President Obama’s nominee to head the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is in charge of highway safety…is Anne Ferro. Ferro…was a lobbyist for the “Big Trucking,” and has been called “an apologist for the trucking industry.” Really? You picked a trucking lobbyist? Three words: easily-avoidable-mistake. No excuse for it…
It certainly is a strange, turbulent, and maddeningly misinformed nation that we live in…it says a lot about us that so many still have hope for a more reasonable and better time to come.