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Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Wall Street Journal exposes yet another example of the shift in the racial tolerance among Arizonans. By the way, those of us from the deep South thank you, Arizona. Now when people think of racial injustice and bigotry, Mississippi won’t be the first state that comes to mind. The Journal reports:

In the 1990s, Arizona hired hundreds of teachers whose first language was Spanish as part of a broad bilingual-education program. Many were recruited from Latin America.

Then in 2000, voters passed a ballot measure stipulating that instruction be offered only in English. Bilingual teachers who had been instructing in Spanish switched to English.

Teachers who don’t meet the new fluency standards have the option of taking classes to improve their English, the Journal reports, but if they fail to reach the state’s targets would be fired or reassigned. Or the could simply rename the program “Some Child Left Behind.” Just a thought.

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FOX News and right-wing political radio shock jocks like Mark Levin have created an isolation echo-chamber of a world where a Kenyan-born Marxist can successfully overthrow our democracy and replace it with a Nazi-like goosestepping police state were only illegal immigrants have a right to liberty and Greenpeace zealots can propagate a myth called global warming. Or something like that. Well, one right wing journalist wants to bring down this media lie-factory using social media. Care to join him?

I am a right-leaning journalist motivated by a desire for improved political discourse, a hatred of echo chambers, and contempt for right-wing entertainers who mislead rank-and-file conservatives, most of whom are well-meaning folks earnestly seeking civic engagement. Some of you are committed liberals or independents who aren’t much interested in the health of the conservative movement.But lying talk radio hosts hurt us all by debasing our democracy’s ongoing conversation. And until just a few years ago, the medium of radio would’ve made what I’m about to propose impossible. Who can better insulate themselves from inconvenient facts than broadcasters with a microphone in one hand, a team of screeners to vet calls, and one finger on a button that can cut the mic of anyone with a devastating rebuttal?

Happily, social media sites change everything.

Meet Mark Levin, the conservative entertainer in question. He is the bestselling author of Liberty and Tyranny, a widely syndicated talk radio host, and a social networking dynamo: As I write this article, 92,324 people are fans of The Official Mark Levin Facebook Page, and 25,873 people follow @marklevinshow on Twitter. It isn’t possible to contact these people en masse, but many of them can be contacted individually and ethically, especially those whose choose to accept direct messages from strangers through their Facebook profiles.

I submit that talk radio listeners who engage in social networking would benefit if well-meaning strangers with exquisitely polite manners alerted them to persuasive evidence that they’re being misled.

What is it about microphones that Gordon Brown and Joe Biden don’t understand?

Remember the Baldwin brothers? The thin ones. The fat ones. The thin one that is now a fat one. And wasn’t there another one? Ah, yes the born-again one. Well, that one is broke and we are suppose to bail him out. Where is Obama when you need him?

Marc Ambinder makes a legitimate criticism of the madness of the Republicans:

Serious thinkers on the right have finally gotten around to a full and open debate on the epistemic closure problem that’s plaguing the conservative movement. The issue, to put it in terms that even I can understand, because I didn’t study philosophy much in college: has the conservative base gone mad?

This matters to journalists, because I really do want to take Republicans seriously.  Mainstream conservative voices are embracing theories that are, to use Julian Sanchez’s phrase, “untethered” to the real world.
Can anyone deny that the most trenchant and effective criticism of President Obama today comes not from the right but from the left? Rachel Maddow’s grilling of administration economic officials. Keith Olbermann’s hectoring of Democratic leaders on the public option. Glenn Greenwald’s criticisms of Elena Kagan. Ezra Klein and Jonathan Cohn’s keepin’-them-honest perspectives on health care. The civil libertarian left on detainees and Gitmo. The Huffington Post on derivatives.
I want to find Republicans to take seriously, but it is hard. Not because they don’t exist — serious Republicans — but because, as Sanchez and others seem to recognize, they are marginalized, even self-marginalizing, and the base itself seems to have developed a notion that bromides are equivalent to policy-thinking, and that therapy is a substitute for thinking.
But here’s the rub. Even though it is getting harder and harder to take the Republicans seriously, it is hard to argue with success. And  what Ambinder misses is this. The Republicans are going to pick up seats come November and possibly take back both houses. So  is the GOP crazy? Yep, like a fox.

I, for one, am sick and tired of populism in politics. Especially, in the politics of the right wing. So it very refreshing to see the face of GOP politics that has always rang true. The country club elite. Men named Biff with monogrammed Kleenex, a trust fund, a vocabulary like Bill Buckley and a Harvard degree. There! Much better. That’s the GOP I remembered.

People love to quote Jesus’ “Judge not, lest ye be judge.” They always neglect to remember his other sage advice:”Judge a righteous judgment.” But I think the best what-would-Jesus-do? prescription for dealing with this Pope is the chilling image to tying a millstone to the neck of anyone who causes our little ones to stumble. Then tossing the SOB in the sea. That’s right the gentle Lord Jesus was the first to suggest suiting up perverts with cement boots. That should tell us something about dealing with evil. Andrew Sullivan cites the evidence to the Pope’s complicity in these wicked sex crimes:

The AP’s story on Joseph Ratzinger’s direct involvement in delaying for six years the defrocking of a priest who had confessed to tying up and raping minors ends any doubt that the future Pope is as implicated in the sex abuse crisis as much as any other official in the church.

The facts are as clear as they are damning. From the documents, the priest fits exactly the model of arrested development I sketched out here. He seems to have been pressured by a bossy mother to become a priest, and was interested only in hanging out with children around the ages of 11 to 13 (the age of the boys he raped). He had no genuine impulse to ordination, but the church was so desperate for priests he was acceptable.

When confronted with the charges, the priest pleaded no contest to tying up and raping two pre-teen boys in 1978 in the rectory of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Union City. There were, apparently, several more victims. There was no dispute as to his guilt. The priest, Stephen Kiesle, personally requested he be defrocked. His legacy is horrifying:

Kiesle, now 63 and recently released from prison, lives in the Rossmoor senior community in Walnut Creek and wears a Global Positioning System anklet. He is on parole for a different sex crime against a child. Numerous accusers have said he abused them as children at Our Lady of the Rosary, Santa Paula (now Our Lady of Guadalupe) in Fremont and Saint Joseph in Pinole, where he served in the mid-1970s, then returned in 1985 to volunteer as a youth minister.

Yes, this rapist was subsequently allowed back into the parish where he tied up and raped children seven years later as a volunteer youth minister. Even after his eventual defrocking, in 1987, he continued to work with children at the parish for another year.

Palin as  a VP candidate was a colossally bad idea. But Sarah P as a TV celebrity seemed like the perfect fit. Apparently, not so much. From the Huffington Post:

Our source says “the whole thing [was] comical.” Apparently the ad buyers were not impressed. This Discovery insider said, “When the promo was over, people (employees and buyers) were rolling their eyes, snickering, and even laughing. People were laughing and it’s not even a comedy. No one took it seriously.”

This person was concerned that given the lack of interest from ad buyers that Discovery would have to dump the show to “a crappy time slot” to cut its losses. They added, “Bottom line everyone thought it was a new all time low for Discovery. My guess is the show is going to tank big time.”

Remember Discovery is paying Sarah Palin $250,000 an episode for this series. There are eight episodes, so she will be clearing $2 million for this possible disaster (TLC will be spending between $800,000 to $1.2 million per episode for the whole production). The ratings for her new show on Fox News Channel were already low (she couldn’t even hold on to Greta Van Susteren’s audience). Imagine how much worse she’ll do on TLC where the audience presumably wants to learn something, i.e. the exact opposite of what Sarah Palin is known for. What’s next for TLC, George Bush’s Ranch?

You know how the GOP religiously courts the white evangelical? You know how Dubya prided himself at “connecting” with this group? Well if this chart is to be believed, white evangelicals are less entrenched in the world of politics than we have been led to think. Black Protestants and white Catholics are another story.

A Florida Urologist makes his own changes in health care. Gotta love this country! From the Orlando Sentinel:

“I’m not turning anybody away — that would be unethical,” Dr. Jack Cassell, 56, a Mount Dora urologist and a registered Republican opposed to the health plan, told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. “But if they read the sign and turn the other way, so be it.”

The sign reads: “If you voted for Obama … seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now, not in four years.”

Estella Chatman, 67, of Eustis, whose daughter snapped a photo of the typewritten sign, sent the picture to U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the Orlando Democrat who riled Republicans last year when he characterized the GOP’s idea of health care as, “If you get sick, America … Die quickly.”

Chatman said she heard about the sign from a friend referred to Cassell after his physician recently died. She said her friend did not want to speak to a reporter but was dismayed by Cassell’s sign.

“He’s going to find another doctor,” she said.

Maybe we should start a Tee Tee Party.