US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Shot

January 8th, 2011

US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others were shot today at a Democratic constituent meeting in Arizona. The shooting rampage has left 6 dead, including a 9-year-old girl, and 14 others wounded. Congresswoman Giffords is undergoing surgery after suffering a shot to the head. Police have arrested a 22-year old male suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, and are looking for a second person-of-interest. Police believe the shooting was an assassination attempt directed at Congresswoman Giffords.

US District Judge John Roll was killed in the attack. Judge Roll, appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, famously presided over a civil rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants in 2009. After he certified the case, saying it could go through, he began receiving death threats and he and his family went under protection for a month. US Marshal David Gonzales said after talk-radio hosts cranked up the controversy, it spurred audiences into making threats. The judge received hundreds of death threats throughout the Arizona illegal immigration controversy.

President Obama spoke of the shooting, calling it an “unspeakable tragedy.” He also said that “such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society.”

Congresswoman Giffords was one of several candidates featured in a Sarah Palin attack ad featuring gun scope crosshairs over their districts.

No one should seek political gain out of a tragedy such as this. If this attacker had targeted a Republican politician, I would be just as outraged. But, we must stop the build-up of aggression in our political system. Many politicians and political spectators, such as Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and many “Tea Party” leaders have begun using increasingly violent imagery in their political messages. Followers have been told to “lock and load”, seen political opponents under gun scope crosshairs, and been urged to stop them “by any means necessary”.

I implore everyone to reject violent, angry, and fear-mongering political messages. Many will try to manipulate you in to forgetting we live in a democratic society. We have rights. Yes, we have our disagreements, but we must solve them through the democratic process, through rational debate.

I urge the Republican Party to reject the voices that spew messages of hate and fear. Republicans and Democrats must stand together against violence. While I repeat that no one should seek political gain from a tragedy such as this, we should not forget the warnings that came with every one of these incendiary political ads. Many in the media, bloggers, and politicians spoke out against this dangerous escalation of our political discord.

Here is a passionate plea from MSNBC host Keith Olbermann to reject calls to violence, and violent imagery from our politics.

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Sarah Palin crosshairs over Gabrielle Giffords district

Republicans Biggest Consumers of Porn

August 23rd, 2010

A nationwide study looked at anonymous credit card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider. The study looked at two years of data, ranging from 2006 to 2008, found that conservative states consume the most porn. Utah was the largest consumer of online porn, according the the study, and Montana was found to be the smallest consumer.

Eight of the top 10 porn consumers voted for John McCain in 2008, while 6 of the lowest 10 voted for Barack Obama.

The study also found that states with higher church attendance had drops in porn subscriptions on Sundays, but normal amounts every other day of the week.

The study highlights the fact that the groups that oppose pornography are the biggest consumers of it, while those supporting freedom to produce and buy pornography consume less of it.

1 in 4 Americans thinks Obama is a Muslim

August 19th, 2010

President Obama, a life-long Christian, has been plagued by rising polls showing a great number of the American people believe he is a Muslim. A TIME poll conducted this week shows 24 percent say they think Obama is a Muslim, 47 percent think he is a Christian, and 24 percent didn’t know or didn’t respond. These numbers have been on the rise even before the New York City Mosque “Controversy”. A similar survey by PEW showed 60 percent of people who believe Obama is a Muslim say they heard it from the media.

Some have pointed to Fox “News” as being the creator of the “Obama is a Muslim” propaganda in a fear campaign waged against him in the presidential campaign. While Fox commentators don’t call President Obama a Muslim, they continuously ask the question and point to so called “suspicious” activities, fueling the spread of the belief in their Conservative base. Radio hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh, go much further than Fox, likely spawning even more fanatically followers to the false claims.

White House faith advisor, Joshua DuBois, told The Washington Post the numbers are a result of “misinformation campaign”. "While the president has been diligent and personally committed to his own Christian faith, there’s certainly folks who are intent on spreading falsehoods about the president and his values and beliefs," DuBois said.

Republicans: Terror babies plotting to kill Americans

August 18th, 2010

Texas lawmaker Debbie Riddle is warning of a new plot in the works by terrorists. Disguised as tourists, pregnant women from terrorist organizations are coming to the United States and having babies that would be US citizens. After growing up, the children will be trained terrorists capable of returning to the United States to carry out attacks. Riddle sources unnamed former FBI agents for the alleged plots.

This is the latest propaganda tool being used by Republicans to embolden their base. Riddle rails on the Obama Administration for leaving our borders “insecure”, ignoring the fact that the Obama Administration has been the toughest on border security out of any administration in history. The constant sensationalism of misleading and outright false statements about “Terror babies” and “Anchor babies” only make it more difficult for the two parties to come to a solution on the illegal immigration debate.

Republicans refuse to accept that “Anchor babies” is a false argument. A child born in America does not “anchor” his parents to this country if they are illegal aliens. The child would have to wait until he was 21 to petition his parents, and then he would enter the long and complex immigration system, potentially taking years for the parents to be allowed into the country on a trial basis (pending interviews, paperwork, and expensive filing fees). And if the parents have been caught in the United States illegally, they will have to wait an additional 10 years before being able to legally immigrate, even with a child who is a US citizen.

Fox “News” parent gives $1 Million to Republicans

August 17th, 2010

News Corp., the parent company of Fox “News” contributed $1 million to Haley Barbour’s Republican Governors Association this year, according to a tax filing by the association. A spokesman for News Corp. responding to the news said “News Corporation believes in the power of free markets, and the RGA’s pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy.” This is not the first campaign contribution from News Corp. to Republican candidates, but being such a large donation to one organization has brought up many questions.

News Corp. runs a plethora of newspapers (most notably the Ney York Post), magazines, and production studios, which disseminate news and right-wing talking points around the world. It is one of the largest and most influential media corporations in the world.

Many on the right are asking why shouldn’t News Corp. give money to political campaigns? The answer is simple. Fox News, and other News Corp. companies are given Freedom of the Press. This right gives them special access that you and I don’t get. They can sit in the White House and ask their questions to the President of the United States. Can we do that? Many have always assumed “The Press” was a sacred institution with the singular goal of uncovering the truth, without bias.

If media organizations are not required to tell the truth, or report news without bias, then how are they different than anyone else? I want my seat the White House Press Briefing. I’ll take the one that used to say “Reserved for Fox ‘News’”.

Right-wing media suggest oil spill was liberal sabotage

May 4th, 2010

Right-wingers all over are now suggesting that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was caused intentionally.

Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio host, suggested the explosion at the oil rig was a move by environmentalist (whackos) to stop the Cap and Trade bill from going through the Congress. He refers to the explosion as the “blowing up” of the rig, a reference to a deliberate attack. Then he went on to say “What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig. I’m just noting the timing here.” Earlier that day, Limbaugh said the “jury’s still out” on whether it’s a coincidence that this oil rig exploded just before Earth Day.

Fox News contributor Dana Perino also suggested a similar idea on Fox & Friends, saying “I’m not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory, but was this deliberate? You have to wonder…if there was sabotage involved.”

Just a bit later on Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Eric Bolling said “The question is … why the delay in the response? You guys were pointing out, nine days before it was even addressed, 12 days before he made a formal comment. The question is, did they let this thing leak? I mean, BP said maybe a thousand barrels a day, it went to five thousand. Did they let it leak a little bit and say, boy I don’t know. The conspiracy theorists would say, ‘maybe they’d let it leak for a while, and then they addressed the issue.'” Bolling added: “That would be a humongous accusation and probably the net result would be no different, but if they’re going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it.”

Another incident on Fox News was George W. Bush’s Ex-FEMA director, Michael Brown, said President Obama wanted this explosion to happen, and that he intentially delayed the response. Brown has also repeated this claim on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. Michael Brown was person blamed by the Bush Administration for their delayed response to Hurricane Katrina.

The oil rig explosion, and subsequent massive leak of oil, is a tragedy. It is a tragedy to the town who has to close its beaches to tourists, the shrimp boat operator who worries about the future of his industry, and for the environmental groups, who mourn the loss of wildlife and the potential destruction of wetlands. To suggest environmentalists would risk the destruction of what they spend all their time protecting is preposterous.

This oil spill will bring up a legitimate argument about drilling. Many on the right believe oil drilling is worth the risks, while environmental activists disagree. Still, there are many in the middle who want to see clean, renewable energy sources, but also believe oil, coal, and natural gas are necessary, for now.

We should all be able to agree that, however we derive our energy, we should pursue efforts to protect our planet. This spill teaches many of us that we do have an effect on our environment, and we should take precautions that we preserve our natural beauty and natural resources to pass on to our children. We need energy, but we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our environment to obtain it.