Monday, August 22, 2016

Blame It On The "Liberal Media"

Well, today I received a rather funny joke...with the "Conservative Flair," as I call it.  I had to chuckle, but not because of the punch line of the story.  I began a memorable journey in the journalistic profession, back in the mid-1960' which took me to life in three different foreign countries....interaction with some of the most amazing people I've ever met.  I was inspired by men like Edward R. Murrow.  Pride in my profession grew, as my fellow truth seekers exposed Watergate, the My Lai Massacre, Gulf of Tonkin debacle...."The Killing Fields" of Cambodia....activities in Laos and so much more.  A time before "news" fell into the "entertainment" arena, ruled by perky women with low cut tops and large cup sizes....clueless "eye candy" for the masses.  Ah, those were the days.  But before I ramble on and put you to sleep, here's the bit of Conservative, "liberal media" humor for the day.

A Harley Biker is riding by the zoo in Washington, DC when he sees a little girl leaning into the lion's cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the collar of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter her, under the eyes of her screaming parents. The biker jumps off his Harley, runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch. 

Whimpering from the pain the lion jumps back letting go of the girl, and the biker brings the girl to her terrified parents, who thank him endlessly. 

A reporter has watched the whole event. The reporter addressing the Harley rider says, “Sir, this was the most gallant and bravest thing I've seen a man do in my whole life.”

The Harley rider replies, “Why, it was nothing, really. The lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger, and acted as I felt right.”

The reporter says, “Well, I'll make sure this won't go unnoticed. I'm a journalist, you know, and tomorrow's paper will have this story on the front page. So, what do you do for a living, and what political affiliation do you have?”

The biker replies "I'm a U.S. Marine, a Republican and I’m voting for Trump."

The journalist leaves.

The following morning the biker buys the paper to see if it indeed brings news of his actions, and reads, on the front page:


And that pretty much sums up the media's approach to the news these days!

Ah yes, a chuckle, even from this cranky old retired guy's side of the writer's desk.  More importantly, it set me to thinking about the history of a once honorable profession....and how we came this far.

It seems that many Conservatives today only know of ONE Constitutional Amendment...The Second Amendment....but there was an amendment the Founding Fathers apparently viewed with an even greater urgency....or at least, they called it the "First Amendment."  And that First Amendment dealt with two uncomfortable issues for Conservatives.  In case you missed it in grade school, here's what it says."

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Naturally, this would be glossed over by a group of individuals trying to demand a "Christian nation."  A group who bully political candidates to be grilled by "Christian leaders."  A group who fail to recognize that freedom to exercise religion includes a right to live without religion of any kind being imposed in their personal lives and decisions.  It seems that the First Amendment grants the same rights and expression to people of ALL if we are going to give one religion the stage in a public arena....then all others have the same right.

But for the point of my opinion editorial here, I'm looking at, ""or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."  In fact, many states took this statement even further, with states legislating "Shield Laws" for journalists.  Journalists had to be able to protect their confidential sources of information, if they are to expect cooperation in obtaining information.  But, our politicians began to fear "truth," as they manipulated and wrangled illegal deals behind the scenes.

Since we're blaming "liberals" for the destruction of "news," let's take a look back in time.  Here's a statement by David Burnham of the New York Times in 1982.  “In its first 21 months in office, the Reagan administration has taken several actions that reduce the information available to the public about the operation of the Government, the economy, the environment, and public health."  In response to the charge and to the value of the Freedom of Information Act, the Reagan Administration replied.  “I believe, however, that there is an effort to balance the value of collecting and disseminating information against other values we think are important. Freedom of information is not cost free, it is not an absolute good.”  Really?  I wonder how that falls with "abridging" the freedom of the press?  Here's some interesting history on the pros and cons of the Reagan Administration policies.

Then, this same Conservative administration enacted the hypocrisy into law.  On December 3, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 99-494 proclaiming 1987 “The Year of the Reader.” The blatant hypocrisy of that act was clear throughout 1987 as the Reagan administration outdid itself in its efforts to control, interpret, manipulate, disinform, and censor all forms of information.  Read on:

Now, let's fast forward to another Conservative administration....that of President G.W. Bush.  Ah yes, the infamous "Patriot Act," which was going to keep us all "safe."  Even the name of the act is repulsive....seemingly implying that if you aren't okay with warrantless surveillance of your life, you aren't "patriotic."  Something like that, anyway.  Once more, journalists became a target of wiretapping, surveillance and scrutiny.  "Secret FISA Courts" were used and even "secret prisons" in third party countries were born.  Journalists grew more fearful for themselves and their sources....and with good reason.  Reliable sources began to fade.

While government has eroded the rights and privileges afforded to journalists, there since the day of the founding of this nation, an even greater threat has come into play.  And again, one can hardly accuse "liberals" of being "corporate friendly."  Independent news agencies, once the mainstay of free reporting, began falling to the power of corporate money.  Journalists, like everyone else, rely on a paycheck to support their families.  And as corporations began swallowing the independent media, any semblance of "independence" began to disappear.  Today, some 90% of all mainstream media is owned by a total of six corporations.  As occurs with all business, corporations consume the little guy, or force him out of the arena, using the power of money.  At this point, "news" became the mouthpiece of the corporations.  One more domino falls.  These are the same corporations which buy independent laboratories that come up with findings contrary to the goal of the corporation.  They merely buy the labs and the scientists...again, people who need a paycheck to survive...and make them rewrite results to their benefit.  So, what do we expect from the media today?  "Facts?"  Not a chance!!!  As we are seeing with our elections now, it's all illusion.  An illusion of choice.

While some of the names and ownership are a bit out of date today, the basics remain the same.  Do you really think that the "liberal media" is the problem?  Corporations, for the most part, aren't "liberal," to begin with....but they will feed the public whatever propaganda they see fit, so the blame is placed somewhere other than where it belongs.  In this case, on the very corporations that own what you see, read and hear.

So, for all these Conservatives who dismiss facts, figures and data, even when supported by citations, where do they turn for the "truth?"  Where else....the beloved "News Corp" and their reliable "Fox News."  Apparently, if you want "fact," here in the U.S., you turn to an Australian, a Saudi Arabian prince and a handful of corporate owners, none of which appear to have any sort of "liberal bias."

So, you want "free and fair," this is what you get in "corporate owned America."

I thank the Conservatives for today's good laugh!

©Stan G. Kain

Friday, August 19, 2016

"War Is Peace"

This offering is not one of my usual Opinion Editorials, but rather, a more informally written response to a pro-right, pro-war email I had received. The outright lies we tell so we are always the "heroes and saviors" in conflicts really infuriates me.  War is for profit and empire building, pure and simple and we dress it up with freedom and liberty for public parades.  Then, in a very short time, the few truths which leak through are lost in faded memories and only the "glory" is left to fill history books and in the minds of the majority.

The Conservative to whom I am responding, made a point that the dividends he receives on his stock is what matters to him.  How the corporations profit, whether through war, deception or whatever excusable, so long has he gets his.

This is a little lesson about Syria.....but it has been repeated over and over and least since 1900 by us in Central and South America, Asia and the Middle East.  I think the reason it's so difficult for the conservative mind to grasp is because that mind can see no further than "ME!"  Empathy doesn't exist....they cannot put themselves "in the shoes of another."  And when "ME" (this country or it's corporations) want something in another country...from natural resources to strategic presence to a more "U.S. friendly government," the feeling is that we should have our way without resistance.  We set up puppet governments and impose them on those people....against their will.  We make statements which impact policies around the world.  And when we want change of rule, we will finance, arm and train rebel groups within the that country to do our bidding.  We use our intelligence community to stir strife and contention. 

We see that as all well and good...until you "put the shoe on the other foot."  How about if China or Russia sent their intelligence people into THIS country....and started arming, training and financing the "Black Lives Matter" extremists?  Oh yeah, that got your attention, didn't it?  Same difference, but your myopic vision won't allow you to see that far.

Anyway, let's just take a quick look at Syria, since it's in the main news right now.  No need to look at everything, but let's at least look at key factors and roles.  "Facts," we call them...without the nationalism and other propaganda tossed in to make us feel good about ourselves.

First, we have conflict between the Syrian government and the Syrian rebels.  How did that escalate?  Well, as always, it escalated because of statements and interference of the same major nations which always generate conflict in poorer countries.  Here's a bit about the major players and their roles.
Liking to keep our homeland soil clean, as do the Russians and other major players, we use poor countries to fight our "proxy wars."  Just as we did with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.....China in Vietnam...Iraq in Iran....and on and on.  And yes, we are "profiteers."

We have no clue as to the devastation we inflict from our high flying drones, bombers and other high tech delivery systems of death.  We don't see faces....we merely paint the people in these countries as "terrorists," trying to make the destruction we do more palatable.  We don't see the innocent children, women, workers and small businessmen we destroy.  We blow up hospitals, schools, wedding parties and neighborhoods...killing and maiming many to get a few.  For justification, we are given trite explanations, as per former President G.W. Bush...."They hate us for our freedom."  Newsflash!!!  We don't have much freedom left here.  But, they hate us for the destruction we inflict upon their families, businesses and homes.  Look at some examples....try...just for a picture YOUR kids and families being subjected to this by outside invaders.  How would YOU feel?  What would be YOUR reaction?  I know what mine would be....To retaliate...even if it meant the only means I had was to tie some dynamite to myself and walk into one of your strongholds.
I dare you to try to tell me this kid in the picture is a "dangerous terrorist."  I dare you!!!

Let me take you on a trip down memory case you think this is just some "staged event."  I remember being a young guy just starting in the news business at that this time...and having three small kids of my own, when this picture was released.  It became the most famous photograph of the Vietnam WAS the Vietnam war.  It began to turn the tide of thinking in this country...and the world.  These kids...and this little girl had been hit with American napalm....a weapon against all humanity.

The same thing goes on today, as we give cluster bombs to Israel....weapons banned by most every nation....and Israel delivers them in Lebanon, Yemen and other nations.  They fail to detonate...leaving colored balls around civilian areas...picked up by children, thinking they are toys....only to be mutilated, killed and dismembered.  What do the people see?  "Made in U.S.A." on these killing machines.

I listen to all the bitching about "refugees."  You hate them, don't want to take them, don't want to take responsibility for them....on and on.  Right!  Okay...well, here's a solution for you.  STOP DESTROYING PEOPLE'S HOMES AND BUSINESSES AND THEY WON'T BE REFUGEES SEEKING SHELTER AFTER YOU DESTROYED EVERYTHING THEY HAD!
Pretty simple, isn't it?  But, if you're going to create your empire building efforts continue to create're going to have to deal with the consequences.  "For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction."  Bingo!

So long as never ending war is your are going to live with the consequences of ongoing war.  There is nothing "peaceful" about the United States.  We have been at war for 93% of the time we have been a nation....most of that time, our homeland was not under attack by anyone.  We love war...and the profits of war....the sale of arms...we are the world's largest manufacturer and exporter of weapons of destruction....we love the taking of natural resources....the cheap labor our corporations enjoy in subdued areas  and the strategic locations we gain for our spreading military presence.  It isn't free.  There's a high price to be paid...both by the people of these places....and by us......The very least we could do is stop being hypocrites and trying to put the blame everywhere else.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hate Is The Theme Of This Election...But Some Attacks Demand A Response

It's not often I'm really driven to anger...generally, I just look at ignorance for what it is and let it go.  While there are distortions on the Left and the Right this cycle, some of these attacks leave me speechless.  Well, I exaggerate....ALMOST speechless.  I spent too many years writing Opinion Editorials to be at a total loss for words.

As often happens, someone forwards me a repulsive, distortion and ask me to please write some rebuttal they can use.  Today, perhaps it's the hot weather, but this one deserved both barrels.  I would never use names, however, let me say that this email came from an individual who is often the source for material which disparages anyone who is poor, non-Christian or non-Caucasian.  People of Italian descent...who forget...or never learned about the day in America when Italians were NOT considered "white," but rather in a class with African-Americans.  Likewise, their "patriotism" overflows, however like many Conservatives, they never served a single day in military service to this country.  No, they were too busy acquiring wealth in business for such details.

Now, with a bit of background for the messengers, here is the message they offered for today.......

Now isn't this the height of deceit ??????

This was Barack Obama with Khizr Khan's wife in 2009. She was not in her Muslim garb. And if you think they accidentally ended up at the DNC convention, think again. Khan is a Dem CON man, and prop of the Left. He's Muslim Brotherhood affiliated, and a professor who teaches and practices Sharia. (see photo attached)

Well, folks, there you have it.  All you need from the right to put the Khan family into perspective for you.  I could not let this outright rubbish pass without a response....and in no way did I feel my lack of diplomacy was out of line, considering the source and the information.  A response will probably cause a fair amount of "Conservative Butthurt," so if you're tender, you may wish to stop here.  Otherwise, please proceed.

First off, let's address the picture attached to the hate mail.  The haters are unable to even identify Mrs. Khan, although well able to attack her.

Now that we have this out of the way....I continue..........

Let's learn a little history...Okay???

Now, how about if he were Catholic and a member and practitioner of Opus Dei?  Would you still have a problem?

He is an American educated, Harvard educated guess what??  He practices U.S. law, based in English Common Law in his professional life.  He could be a Jewish lawyer and do the same thing....yet practice Jewish law...Kosher his personal life and that's his business.  Not yours...not that of anyone else.  He's able to keep his personal life and his professional life separate, as should be done.  Too bad a lot of Christians can't do that...or...even though a lot do.  I've not heard any yelling about the Catholic lawyer who goes to Mass on Sunday and consumes the "body and blood of his Savior," like a cannibal.....but lives normally the rest of the week...eating beef, chicken and pork.  Like everyone else in this country, he's entitled to his religious practices, so long as he keeps them in his home...which he does.  It's the freedom to practice one's religious beliefs in the manner they choose.  He does not impose them on anyone else.

"Con man," and "Prop."  What a joke!!!  They are a mother and father who lost a son in a worthless war....a son who was an American Army OFFICER...educated and dedicated to serving his country.  I wonder how many people with names signed onto this email, gave one damned minute of their lives in uniform, serving this nation?  I'd be willing to bet not a one.  Nor, donated a child to serve, either.  My own family has served in every conflict in this nation since service days in the Colonial Militia...and we look down on all of you who shirked your duty, too!

As for his wife, wearing a head what?  Many Muslim women do...and don't...on different occasions.  Contrary to your distorted view of Islam...this is often the case.  She was in mourning for her son...and thus could been part of her expression.  I remember my Irish Catholic grandmother....going to church, or following a family death...never going outside without a hat and veil.  It doesn't make it anymore more than custom.  I often wear my Irish kilt and attire of my Irish clan for formal occasions.  That certainly doesn't mean I wear a kilt everywhere I go.  And, it says nothing about "religion," as I'm Buddhist.

Give it a rest.  Donald Trump knew nothing about this family...nor the loss of their son.  What he did do was to insult them for their loss.  Mrs. Khan is a "Gold Star Mother," something none of your mothers had to worry about...right?  And Mr. Trump insulted each and every American...and foreign born family who lost a child or a spouse during combat for this country.  In fact, he insulted all veterans and Gold Star families and they know it.

So, get off the racist/religious crap....and recognize that this country has been made strong by immigrants...of all religious backgrounds.  Maybe read what it written on the Statue of Liberty.  The Khan family came here with absolutely nothing...and stand as a symbol of what an immigrant can do.  You don't like the illegal immigrants...claim they are destroying the country....and don't like legal immigrants who come here and reach the American dream....yet each and every one of you come from immigrant families...I would imagine...unless you're Native Americans, which I doubt.

Nuff said!

Questions or comments?  I'm always happy to address them!
©Stan G. Kain 2016