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The Morning Grumpy – 4/23/12

23 Apr

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Did you watch the Sunday Morning news shows this week? Did you think they represented a fair and balanced cross-section of the political spectrum? If you’re a Republican or Libertarian, you probably think those shows are just one big liberal circle jerk, right? I mean, that’s what Rush and Hannity have been telling us for years. Well, here’s some data on that. You remember data, right? Also commonly known as “facts”.

A study of the network Sunday morning news shows by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) found an extreme Republican bias in ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. According to FAIR, 70% of the interview guests were Republicans. Despite the fact that Democrats control both the White House and the Senate, 166 Republicans were interviewed on these programs. The programs interviewed just 70 Democrats. Eighty six percent of the Sunday morning guests were male, and 92% of guests were also white.

Of the thirty six interviews of women, eighteen featured Michele Bachmann. Of the fifteen interviews of African Americans, seven of them featured Herman Cain. The roundtable segments were also dominated by Republicans and conservatives. Republicans and conservatives outnumbered Democrats and progressives 282-164, and the gap is getting bigger.

I’d watch these shows if they brought on real liberals like Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, Jessica Valenti, David Corn, Matt Yglesias, or Thom Hartmann to balance out Centrist Democrats and Republicans. Instead, I find what I need on the Internet.

2. Two books that served as guideposts to understanding the world around me as a young man were Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Both books are true masterpieces of literature and important to our collective American culture. Did you know that these books were yet again listed on the American Library Association (ALA) list of “Most Challenged Books”?

A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.

Brave New World has been banned or restricted in many places due to “Insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; or sexually explicit (content)”. Huxley thought that we would be destroyed by the things we loved, that we would have so much that we’d be reduced to passivity and be consumed by the ego. I guess the truth hurts…time to ban that fucking book.

3. Frank Rich of New York Magazine profiles the old, rich, white guys who are buying the 2012 Presidential election.

Inflamed by Obama-hatred, awash in self-pity, and empowered by myriad indulgent court and Federal Election Commission rulings, an outsize posse of superrich white men will spend whatever it takes to have its way with the body politic and, if victorious, with the country itself. Given the advanced age of most of this cohort, 2012 may be seen as the election in which the geezer empire struck back.

Sugar daddies—whom I’ll define here as private donors or their privately held companies writing checks totaling $1 million or more (sometimes much more) in this election cycle—are largely a Republican phenomenon, most of them one degree of separation from Karl Rove and his unofficial partners in erecting a moneyed shadow GOP, David and Charles Koch. At last look, there were 25 known sugar daddies on the right (or more, if you want to count separately the spouses and children who pitch in).

Exactly the way the founding fathers envisioned it, right?

4. Americans today say they fear Iran as much as they did the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

In November 1985, CNN commissioned a poll asking Americans to gauge the Soviet Union’s threat to the U.S.

At the time, 39,000 Soviet nuclear warheads were pointed at the rest of the world, enough of them ready on push-button alert to destroy the United States near-instantaneously and many times over.

According to the November 1985 poll, 76 percent of Americans viewed the Soviet Union as a “very serious” or “moderately serious” threat. Only 32 percent of respondents classified the Evil Empire as a “very serious” threat.

CNN ran a similar poll last week, only this time, the subject of the same question was Iran. They came up with some bizarre (to me) numbers.

It estimates that 81 percent of Americans believe Iran is a “very serious” or “moderately serious” threat, with 48 percent calling it “very serious.”

The power of propaganda and the constant drumbeat from the religious right who believes the end times cometh?

5.  ForeignPolicy magazine postulates that we needn’t be so damn fearful and that America is plenty safe. When did America become a nation of scaredy cats?

The disparity between foreign threats and domestic threat-mongering results from a confluence of factors. The most obvious and important is electoral politics. Hyping dangers serves the interests of both political parties.

Warnings about a dangerous world also benefit powerful bureaucratic interests. The specter of looming dangers sustains and justifies the massive budgets of the military and the intelligence agencies, along with the national security infrastructure that exists outside government — defense contractors, lobbying groups, think tanks, and academic departments.

There is also a pernicious feedback loop at work. Because of the chronic exaggeration of the threats facing the United States, Washington overemphasizes military approaches to problems (including many that could best be solved by nonmilitary means). The militarization of foreign policy leads, in turn, to further dark warnings about the potentially harmful effects of any effort to rebalance U.S. national security spending or trim the massive military budget-warnings that are inevitably bolstered by more threat exaggeration.

Fear is a commodity peddled by those who seek to maintain power.


Fact Of The Day: John Quincy Adams was sworn in using a book of laws instead of the bible because he wanted to maintain the separation of church and state.

Quote Of The Day: “Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” – Richard Feynman

Video Of The Day:  “Life Looks For Life” – The Sagan Series, Part 2

Cartoon Of The Day: “Batty Baseball” – Tex Avery

Song Of The Day: “Jesse James, One More Shot” – Johnny Cash, Levon Helm, Charlie Daniels & Emmylou Harris

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