Friday, February 18, 2005
Voting Against Anarchy - A Christianity Today editorial
Voting Against Anarchy
The greatest threat to liberty in Iraq is not international terrorism.
A Christianity Today editorial | posted 02/18/2005 09:30 a.m.
Give people a taste of freedom and they will never tolerate tyranny again. On this belief rests the fate of democracy in the Middle East. A taste of freedom was not enough to woo Iraq's once powerful Sunni Muslims into wider participation in the recent national elections. But Kurds and Shiite Muslims jumped at the chance to shape their nation's future.
The world cannot afford to let this historic opportunity to grow robust democracy in the Middle East slip away. If freedom fails, the people of this troubled region will remain enslaved by fear, shut out of a globalized economy, tempted to violence, and resistant to the gospel.
From Fear to Freedom
Critics, mostly isolationists on both the Right and Left, doubt that democracy can thrive in the Muslim-majority Middle East. The crucial conditions that encourage self-government include an educated populace, a strong middle class, and a robust civic ethic. But the Middle East lacks all these necessary conditions. Even more troubling is the lack of tolerance for dissent. In declaring an all-out war against democracy, terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi clarified the stakes for his followers: "Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," he said, and that is "against the rule of God."
Natan Sharansky, in his The Case for Democracy, argues that societies are based on either fear or freedom. A free society allows for public protest without fear of punishment. Fear societies do not. As a result, fear societies subdivide three ways: there is a small minority of true believers in the totalitarian regime, another small minority of dissidents, and a vast middle of "doublethinkers." Doublethinkers publicly toe the repressive party line but inwardly yearn for freedom.
Sharansky knows doublethink. Born in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union, he and his family feigned admiration when "Uncle Joe" died. As an adult, Sharansky shed his doublethink for dissidence, suffering nine years in a KGB prison until his 1986 release. Now he champions democracy, and bases his optimism today on the Soviet Union's collapse. "The peoples behind the Iron Curtain yearned to be free, to speak their minds, to publish their thoughts, and most of all, to think for themselves," Sharansky writes. "We dissidents were certain that freedom would be seized by the masses at the first opportunity because we understood that fear and a deep desire for liberty are not mutually exclusive." Middle Eastern people share that same longing to be free.
Iraq's newly elected officials are beginning the tough task of crafting a constitution and representative government. But as long as doublethink rules, Iraq will remain a fear society. Such societies typically justify ongoing repression by pointing to "external threats." (In Iraq's case, the American occupiers and their "Zionist allies.")
Credit to the Cause
We believe, then, that the American-led coalition should continue to motivate Iraq's doublethinkers to embrace freedom, not violence. But freedom by itself is not enough.
When the walls of Soviet-style communism fell in 1991, worthless consumer goods, pornography, and other Western cultural dross flooded through freedom's gates. Is it possible that Iraqis too have seen this kind of "freedom"-delivered to the doorstep of their mosques and beamed from the West to their televisions-and looked away unimpressed?
President Bush, in his second inaugural address, issued a powerful call to freedom. Less discussed, however, was his call to the individual responsibility that undergirds our liberty. "In America's ideal of freedom," Bush said, "the public interest depends on private character-on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. … In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak."
This American ideal of freedom finds its source in Scripture. "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Gal. 5:13-14).
But increasingly in the West, freedom has been divorced from responsibility, and we find ourselves in the midst of a culture in which liberty often becomes little more than license for sin, selfish individualism, or institutional corruption. The terrorists' version of Islam may know nothing of freedom, religious or otherwise-but if dishonoring elders, rampant materialism, and sexual license are the fruits of freedom, they will never want to know about it. Nor will the doublethinkers.
"From the viewpoint of centuries," Bush said in his inaugural address, "the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?"
As such, the domestic situation, not the terrorists, may be the ultimate undoing of the Bush foreign policy. What role government can and should play in building up the character of the American people is a complex matter in a nation that prides itself in the separation of church and state. But unless Americans' exercise of freedom becomes more responsible, we will increasingly end up exporting not liberty but anarchy. This would not be a gift to the world, and it would be an everlasting blight on this generation.
Copyright © 2005 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
March 2005, Vol. 49, No. 3, Page 26
Daily Kos media email list
This is a gold mine of helpful information about contacting media representatives.
"Rushed" by Katrina vanden Heuvel
Al Franken's decision not to run for the Senate is a loss for the people of Minnesota and the country, but at least he'll have more time for his very funny radio show and books. I was just thinking about Al's first book today after reading a transcript of Rush Limbaugh's Valentine's Day show.
Recently, I wrote in this space about data showing that single women were more likely to be Democratic voters than married women, and I joked that this was another reason not to get married. Now, I do know that it's the nature of our political culture today that if a progressive, even a happily married one (16 years), makes a joke like that some right-wing blowhard is going to distort it for the sake of scoring cheap partisan points. So it wasn't a surprise that Rush Limbaugh, the grandaddy distorter of them all, stepped up to the plate to take a whack. But what did surprise me is that he took the opportunity not only to attack me but also my husband. Here's what he said:
"Now, The Nation is one of our favorite publications here, the far left fringe publication of the liberal journal of opinion that is edited by well known communist named Katrina vanden Heuvel whose husband is a well known communist at Columbia. Well, I use the term advisedly. Stephen Cohen's his name."
Now, I know that Limbaugh doesn't have a lot of experience with successful relationships, but attacking someone's spouse is generally considered to be pretty low down and dirty. In fact, some would call his reckless allegations libelous--my lawyer, for example. I also know that Limbaugh suffers from a rather severe case of McCarthy-era nostalgia, but equating liberalism with communism is tired and boorish even for someone who is a big, fat idiot. I use the term advisedly.
By the way, if Rush had done any research, he would have discovered that my husband now teaches, after many years at Princeton, at NYU, not Columbia. (Kids, this is an object lesson: read books, don't take drugs.)
Thursday, February 17, 2005
The Unintelligent Choice
The Unintelligent Choice
At 10AM this morning, President Bush named John Negroponte as the new Director of Intelligence for the United States.
Who is John Negroponte?
You may remember him best as one of the key figures in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration. John Negroponte was the ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. While there, he was directed the secret arming of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua to help them overthrow the Sandinista government.
At the time, he also was “cozy” with the chief of the Honduran national police force, Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez. Martinez ran the infamous Battalion 316 death squad. Battalion 316 “kidnapped, tortured and murdered” dozens of people while Negroponte was ambassador. Negroponte, however, turned a blind eye to the death squad and ignored the gross human rights abuses so Honduras would allow bases for U.S.-backed Contras.
Negroponte maintained he knew nothing about them, leading to his nickname, “the ostrich ambassador.” The abuses, however, were widely chronicled in local papers. That means he either willfully ignored the mass murders and torturing of citizens or he was so out of touch that he didn’t see the atrocities going on beneath his very nose. Neither of these scenarios is what the United States needs in a National Director of Intelligence.
Posted by Christy at 10:03 am
Haigler's views elicit a vehement rebuttal
Haigler's views elicit a vehement rebuttal
February 17, 2005-Abilene Reporter News letter to the editor
Dave Haigler's (Readers' Forum, January 30, "Constitutionalism or Chaos," http://www.reporter-news.com/abil/op_columns/article/0,1874,ABIL_7981_3508482,00.html) error-filled, convoluted propaganda gave a bad name to both attorneys and Christians. In fact, the ''Unthinkable'' Molly Ivins defends her positions much more astutely.
As an elitist of the religious left, evidently clueless of the meaning of Christian or Judeo-Christian worldviews, Haigler finds a great right-wing conspiracy hiding behind every mesquite tree in Texas. Note his reference to Jim Wallis' book, ''God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It.'' Dave just doesn't get it!
His memory of basic Constitutional law is notably incomplete. He ignores Church of the Holy Trinity v U.S. (1892) where the Supreme Court found unanimously - ''We are a Christian people and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity.'' Every U.S. Supreme Court, until the Warren Court era, recognized in their deliberations that Christianity (a Judeo-Christian worldview) was a significant part of the common law (based on all our founding documents).
As the chief Taylor County Democratic Party operative, Haigler swears allegiance to both national and state platforms that support unfettered abortion, special homosexual rights and destruction of traditional family values. Not a tenable position from which to pontificate on dangers from Bible-believing Christians who practice their faith and oppose his apostasy.
President Ronald Reagan concisely describes Mr. Haigler; ''The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant: It's just that they know so much that isn't so.''
Martin Frost joins Fox News
Submitted by John Pettit:
Martin Frost joins Fox News
06:05 PM CST on Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Former U.S. Rep. Martin Frost has signed a deal to be a political commentator for the Fox News Channel, the 24-hour cable network announced Tuesday.
Frost lost his Dallas-area congressional seat in November after redistricting engineered by Majority Leader Tom DeLay forced him into a race with Rep. Pete Sessions in a more Republican-friendly district. Frost served 26 years in Congress.
Most recently, Frost dropped out of the race for Democratic national chairman after failing to win the support of organized labor. Howard Dean won the chairmanship last week.
Frost served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which focuses on re-electing House members, after the 1994 Republican landslide.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Bush renominates 7 rejected judges
Bush Renominates as Judges 7 Whom Democrats Blocked
By CARL HULSE
Published: February 15, 2005
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 - President Bush on Monday formally renominated seven federal appeals court candidates who were blocked by Senate Democrats in his first term, and that sets the stage for a test of the strength of the expanded Republican majority.
In a batch of nominations, Mr. Bush also sent back without comment the names of five other choices for federal appeals courts whose nominations were slowed by Democratic resistance over their backgrounds and records.
With their added numbers in the Senate, Republicans are optimistic that they will be able to confirm the choices this year.
"I'm hopeful that Democrats will work with me to get up or down votes on each nominee," said Senator Bill Frist, the Tennessee Republican who is majority leader.
Dr. Frist called the candidates excellent choices. He is threatening to force a change in Senate rules should Democrats continue to block votes on the nominations.
Democrats did not appear to give much ground on Monday.
"The president is at it again with the extremist judges," said Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat is the minority leader.
Mr. Reid said the Senate had made clear its position on the seven nominees.
"We should not divert attention from other pressing issues facing this nation to redebate the merits of nominees already found too extreme by this chamber," he said.
Mr. Reid and other Democrats said they expected to hold firm against the nominees.
Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said the four Senate seats that Republicans gained in November, splitting the chamber, 55 to 45, could enable Republicans to assemble the 60 votes needed to break filibusters against at least some candidates.
Democrats filibustered against 10 appeals court candidates in the last few years. Three of those nominees withdrew. The renominated people are Justice Janice R. Brown of California, Judge Richard A. Griffin of Michigan, Judge David W. McKeague of Michigan, William G. Myers III of Idaho, Justice Priscilla R. Owen of Texas, Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama and Judge Henry W. Saad of Michigan.
Those whose nominations were slowed but not filibustered are Judge Terrence W. Boyle of North Carolina, Thomas B. Griffith of Utah, William J. Haynes II of Virginia, Brett M. Kavanaugh of Washington and Judge Susan B. Neilson of Michigan.
Republicans said they hoped Democrats would interpret their losses in November as a sign of public opposition to fights over judicial nominations. "The American people sent a strong message on Nov. 2 against the obstructionist tactics that, unfortunately, we saw all too often in the past four years," said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.
County Chairs meeting Feb. 19 in Brownwood cancelled
From George Keller:
The Senate District 24 County Chairs meeting scheduled for February 19 in Brownwood is being postponed to a later date yet to be selected.
This meeting was being held in Brownwood an attractive location for the majority of the County Chairs in the Northern end of Senate District 24 . The content of this meeting was similar to the highly successful Chairs meeting held in Burnet on January 6.
The reason for the postponement of the February 19 meeting was low attendance. It seems everyone has the nasty health bug. We can reschedule the meeting at a later date subject to a better attendance, and everyone feeling much better.
Please join me in thanking Charles Stavley, Brown County Chair and his team, for arranging the facilities. Charles I hope we can get a rain check.
If you have any questions please call me at 830-792-4232.
George Keller - Gillespie County Chair - District 24 Chair
posted by Dave Haigler, Taylor County Chair
Monday, February 14, 2005
Contacts & cross references
Also, please visit our newsletters:
* www.abi-demian.info and
Democratic County Chair
Taylor County, Texas
Feb. 14 Events
3 PM Abilene Civic Center - Coffee w/ Cong. Neugebauer
7 PM NAACP Meeting - GV Daniels Center - 541 N. 8th St.
The Real F Word, by Cheri Delbrocco
The Real F-Word
When even the conservative true believers fear it, the rest of us have to.
by CHERI DELBROCCO
click "blog this" above to reply or post something new
Immediately after the first Bush inauguration, I stopped at a red light, and a young man who couldn't have been more than 18 pulled up beside me, rolled down the window, and indicated that he'd noticed my "Hail to the Thief" bumper sticker, affixed there in honor of the contested 2000 presidential election. Informing me that I was an "America-hating Communist," he instructed me where I should go, and it wasn't to the Good Place. As he squealed off, I noticed on his pick-up several flag decals, a Christian fish symbol, and a Bush/Cheney sticker.
Shocked and slightly afraid, I cleared my car of all political expression when I got home.
But, in keeping with certain American traditions -- like the constitutionally provided one of free expression -- I opted again last fall to politically adorn my auto, thinking that a simple red, white, and blue Kerry/Edwards campaign logo would be less inflammatory. Nope. One morning, while pumping gas, another customer approached my car. "Un-American Christian-hating bitches like you should be shot!" he yelled. When he drove off, I noticed a black "W The President" decal, an "I Support Our Troops" magnetic ribbon, a Christian academy sticker, and a large American flag on the back of his SUV. Once again, I was stunned by the hostility and aggression of a total stranger.
I have told friends about these incidents, and they have shared similar experiences. What's going on?
Why are some of the supporters of this president so riled by simple expressions of an opposing viewpoint? How did certain Americans become so enraptured with a sense of political supremacy that acts of profanity and belligerence toward their neighbors are deemed acceptable? Could it be that those who crow the loudest and the proudest about spreading freedom to other parts of the world just might be in favor of intimidating those who practice freedom here in the good ole U.S. of A.? Is this mindset connected to what appears to be a new insatiable lust for war?
Had the word "fascism" been used in the same sentence with the word "American" by the likes of Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, or Gore Vidal, it would not surprise anyone. But no less a conservative Republican icon than Paul Craig Roberts, a former Reagan aide, apostle for supply-side economics, and Wall Street Journal editor, noted what he called the "brownshirting" of America in a recent issue of The American Conservative. And, in that same magazine's latest issue, Scott McConnell's piece, "Hunger for Dictatorship," discusses in some detail what he sees as the possibility of incipient fascism in America.
Notes McConnell: "[O]ne of the biggest right-wing talk-radio hosts regularly calls for the mass destruction of Arab cities." He quotes approvingly an observation from Mises Institute president Lew Rockwell, a fellow conservative, lamenting "the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism." McConnell continues, "[T]he very fact that the f-word can be seriously raised in an American context is evidence enough that we have moved into a new period."
Tremendous ironies abound. The most obvious is that those who are writing so candidly about this deeply disturbing development have supported the politicians who gave rise to it -- a growing brand of religious/military/political zeal that these former fellow travelers are now willing to call openly by its proper name.
Cheri DelBrocco writes "Mad as Hell," a column that regularly appears on the Flyer Web site.
Date created: 2/11/2005
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Salon's Eric Boehlert, "Giving 'Gannon' a Pass"
Giving "Gannon" a pass
Questions remain about how a fake reporter working for a fake news operation got White House press credentials without a background check.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Eric Boehlert
Feb. 11, 2005 | Before abruptly quitting his post this week as White House correspondent for the GOP-friendly group Talon News, Jeff Gannon enjoyed unfettered access to White House briefings. He gained that access not by going through the normal full background check most journalists face when obtaining a "hard pass," the ultimate White House credential, but rather by getting day passes, which require only an abbreviated background check. According to one current member of the White House press corps, Gannon was the only reporter to skirt the rules that way, obtaining daily passes month after month for nearly two years.
"Why did the White House circumvent the process for him?" asks the White House reporter.
That's just one of several questions that continue to swirl around the man who covered the White House under the pseudonym Jeff Gannon -- his real name is James Guckert -- and his abrupt departure from Talon News. After Guckert piqued interest in the blogosphere with an overly obvious softball question to President Bush at the Jan. 26 press conference, online sleuths uncovered the truth about Talon's close working ties with Republican operatives and their GOPUSA Web site as well as past identity. Faced with allegations that he was tied to gay-themed Web sites, Guckert resigned his Talon position Tuesday night. (Talon has posted scores of anti-gay articles.) Still left unanswered, though, is how a partisan novice reporter working for a fake news organization was able to gain regular access to White House briefings.
Hard passes to the White House are designed to give journalists who regularly cover the White House easy access: They simply swipe their credentials at the entrance while the Secret Service checks their bags. Day passes, which are picked up every day at the press office, are intended to provide flexibility for out-of-town journalists who might need to cover the White House for a day or two, or to allow White House reporters to bring in visitors who want to see the press briefings. But the current day-pass system was not set up to give permanent access to reporters who, like Guckert, fail to qualify for a hard pass.
The White House press office continues to be non-responsive to Salon's questions about the credentialing process and Guckert's apparent ability to rig the system. At Thursday's daily press briefing, White House press secretary Scott McClellan fielded several questions on the issue. He told reporters that Guckert had "never applied for a hard pass. He had a daily pass." Guckert's ineligibility for a hard pass -- the likely reason he never applied -- was left unmentioned.
To receive a hard pass, a journalist must submit a letter confirming that he or she works for a legitimate news organization, lives in the D.C. area, and needs access to the White House for regular news stories. But before the White House will send the request along to the Secret Service for a background check, the journalist must also confirm having received accreditation to cover Capitol Hill. Without Hill credentials, the White House will not forward a hard-pass application. Gannon had no such credentials.
But not because he didn't try to get them. On Dec. 12, 2003, Guckert applied to the Standing Committee of Correspondents, a group of congressional reporters who oversee press-credential distribution on Capitol Hill. On April 7, 2004, his application was rejected when the committee could not conclude that Talon was a legitimate, independent news organization. "We didn't recognize the publication, so we asked for information about what Talon was," Julie Davis, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun who is on the committee, previously told Salon. "We did some digging, and it became clear it was owned by the owner of GOPUSA. And we had asked for some proof of Talon's editorial independence from that group ... They didn't provide anything, so we denied their credentials, which is pretty rare," she said.
It's curious that the White House seemed disinclined to hold the Republican-leaning Talon News -- whose "news team" is made up of political activists with no journalism experience whatsoever -- to the same standards as the committee's. On Wednesday, McClellan insisted that all Guckert had to do to gain entrance to the White House was show "that he was representing a news organization that published regularly."
Still, without any hope of Hill credentials, Guckert had no prospect of landing a White House hard pass, so he simply adopted the day-pass system and turned it into his personal revolving door. In doing so, he created his own variation on a now-defunct third category of White House press pass, called the card index, which once allowed journalists to gain access to press briefings for weeks or months a time. But this system is defunct for one simple reason: It's not secure enough. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the Secret Service did away with the card index, according to Martha Kumar, a professor of political science at Towson State University and an expert on White House press operations.
Indeed, security is a significant difference between the two types of passes that still exist. The hard pass requires a lengthy background check, punctuated by fingerprints and photographs. Someone picking up a day pass, however, simply presents a name, Social Security number and date of birth while the Secret Service does an instant check. That means Guckert, who covered the White House for nearly two years, was never subjected to a background check. Additionally, questions remain whether his passes were issued under his alias or his real name.
On Wednesday, when asked directly whether the reporter was being cleared by the White House under the name Guckert, McClellan hedged: "My understanding, [is] yes." McClellan did confirm he knew previously that "Jeff Gannon" was not the reporter's real name.
Is evolution scientific or religious, and if religious, what are the constitutional implications? Click "blog this" above to respond.
Comment by Dave Haigler
Section V(C) of the 1982 Arkansas case of creation science vs. evolution science (McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education) said that if evolution were as religious as creationism was, the remedy would be to remove them both from the public schools rather than give equal time to them as the creationists were asking. The fact that this dictum has been ignored points to one of the great sleepers of the past century - and that is that evolution, or at least macro-evolution, is an article of faith. The creationists were so busy trying to prove that creationism was scientific that they forgot to prove that evolution is religious, and that is the reason they lost the Arkansas case as well as the later Louisiana case. That is why, as well, they will lose the current Pennsylvania case where they are trying to prove that "intelligent design" is scientific.
I say "at least macro." What does that mean? It means that micro-evolution has been scientifically proven, whereas macro-evolution remains a theory, 140 years after Darwin's Origin of Species. Micro-evolution is a study of how, within species, small changes can occur over generations in adapting to the environment. Studies of fruit flies show this, because fruit flies reproduce very quickly, and the changes can be seen very promptly, in time for a scholarly paper to be written in a university. However, no one has lived long enough to observe whether an ape evolves into a man. All science can do, for example, is present a sequence of pictures starting with less-developed monkeys, progressing to more-developed monkeys, followed by another sequence of pictures, speculating what a less-developed human may have looked like, and progressing to whatever we think the highest form of humanity might be. But all this sequence of pictures can do is present a theory that one end of the series of pictures led to the other end.
All the so-called proof for evolution is nothing more than intelligent speculation about hypotheses. Fossils in sedimentary layers of rock are an example. The hypothesis here is that it took millions of years for these successive layers to deposit themselves, and therefore millions of years separate life frozen into a lower layer from life preserved in a higher layer. However, cataclysmic events have created similar successive layers and have caught living beings that become fossils straddled between these multiple layers of strata.
Another example of intelligent speculation is carbon dating, sometimes called radiometric dating - the process of determining the half-life of atomic matter and measuring how deteriorated a particle is, and thus extrapolating back to however long it was before it was half gone - resulting in millions of years. However, this system of time measurement overlooks the assumption in the book of Genesis in the Bible that Adam & Eve were created as adults. This assumption is called "apparent age" in scientific literature, and dates back at least to 1863. The logic of carbon dating, as applied by scientific method to Adam and Eve, would be to determine how old they were when someone first observed them, and then extrapolate their origin back that same number of years. All the scientific method could have done with Adam & Eve, assuming it had been around at the time Cain & Abel were born without knowing about creation, is to:
1. observe, first, that Adam & Eve appear to be, say, 25 years old,
2. observe, second, that no person has ever lived without being born, and therefore
3. hypothesize that, third, Adam & Eve must have had parents who bore them around 25 years previously. But that wouldn't prove anything; it would only be a hypothesis.
So what do we say to people who stoutly proclaim they "believe in evolution?" We simply say, "exactly! I agree - you believe!"
The answer is not to pass more laws requiring people to believe something different, because our constitution's first amendment prevents the government from requiring any form of belief over another. Rather, the answer is to encourage the development of knowledge unshackled by the hypotheses of the past. And part of that answer is to recognize that scholars who reject God need some kind of explanation for where they came from that excludes God. That is why they will seize upon something like the theory of evolution to believe in. It eliminates God, in their thinking, or at least projects Him back so many millions or billions of years ago that they don't have to think about Him very much.
Note: This article by Dave Haigler is published at the Abi-Demian, as well as on Dave Haigler's law firm webpage.
Abilene DFA Meetup pursues media bullies -- click "blog this" above to reply
Abilene, February 11--The Democracy for America Meetup group met yesterday at Mezamiz and continued its aggressive opposition to hateful media extremists. The group reviewed the letters we sent to Limbaugh sponsors pointing out his hateful lies, such as that Democrats hope for more deaths in Iraq, the Red Cross and the NY Times hate America, and leftists fear and don't understand God and a personal relationship with God. The letters called for opposition to sensationalism and divisiveness and an end to sponsorships for Limbaugh.
The group's follow-up letter to the Limbaugh sponsors proposed a newspaper ad entitled "United We Stand?" Click here for the full text of that ad. The letter publicizes Limbaugh's claim that Democrats want more Iraq deaths. It says Limbaugh demeans the faith of Democrats for political purposes. It quotes Limbaugh saying Democrats like Saddam Hussein better than President Bush. It repeats Limbaugh's claim that Democrats hate America's military.
The second merchant letter goes on to say: "The Rush Limbaugh Show and his crude, divisive slurs and vicious lies are broadcast to our men and women serving in Iraq on the Armed Forces Radio Network. The election is over, but Rush Limbaugh and the extremist media continue to pursue a relentless, vicious, political agenda that stands in then way of healing our nation. The statements by the Rush Limbaugh, indicated above, were broadcast on Abilene Talk Radio AM 1340, and made possible, in part, by named advertisers."
Mike Dunahoo of the Star Dealerships responded to the letters. He accused the group of censorship. However, the First Amendment prevents the government from censoring speech. It does not prohibit private individuals making free market choices about what they read or listen to. It does not prohibit media outlets censoring what they print or put on the airwaves. If I choose not to watch an obnoxious movie, no one would be so stupid as to say I was censoring the movie by not watching it.
Mr. Dunahoo's letter accused the group of partisan politics. However, this is not a matter of Democrats vs. Republicans, although Limbaugh, O'Reilly and their ilk are usually harpooning Democrats. It's not even so much about conservative vs. liberal. It's more about lies and hatemongering. As far as politics having nothing to do with business, this is silly. It's a copout that lies and hate can be good for business or neutral on business decisions. And supporting a few Democrats does not give a free ride to slander and malign others or to support those who do such lies.
Mr. Dunahoo's letter says we are blacklisting him for sponsoring Limbaugh, whereas his dealerships donate to many good causes. However, "blacklist" is a slur word for free marketplace choice. The fact that someone supports many good causes does not mean we cannot call his hand for supporting a few bad causes. Donating to charity does not give you a "get out of jail free" card except in the "Monopoly" game.
Mr. Dunahoo's letter says the Democratic Party lacks mass appeal. OK, so John Kerry got barely 21% of the vote in Taylor County. Charlie Stenholm got 51%. Why would a smart business gratuitously slam the Democrats merely because a committee supported by that local party publicized the sponsors of extremist hatemongering radio programs? The answer is - a smart one would not. But a stupid one is free to do so, of course. That's the American way. America does not prohibit stupid marketplace choices, just illegal ones. Why would a marketing technique write off 21-51% of the Abilene market?
Mr. Dunahoo's letter says we would be hurting his favorite charities by withholding our business from his dealerships. However, this media committee sponsored by the Democratic Party locally is not out to injure anyone but hatemongering, extremist radio shows.
Supporting the people of the Big Country without regard to race, color, creed, or political persuasion is not what hatemongering, extremist radio is about. We have publicized racist remarks, anti-semitic remarks and remarks hostile to political persuasion.
Taylor County Democratic Club President Roger Spier pointed out that America has a long history of hatemongering. He mentioned McCarthyism. He recalled Father Coughlin, a radio hatemonger back in the 1930's. And Dr. Spier said that economic boycotts have a long history of success, such as with Ghandi boycotting British businesses in India and working for independence from the British Commonwealth in that manner.
Committee for Responsible Media Chair Frank Sayre pointed out that Star's Dunahoo misrepresented our letters. Sayre also disagreed with arguments that we should not go public with our concerns over extremist media.
County Chair Dave Haigler suggested our supporters buy a radio station to bring Air America to Abilene. Dr. Spier suggested we invite Gov. Howard Dean to Abilene. Frank Sayre suggested we debate the Republicans. See full article.
White House press passes, from John Pettit to Demlog
Here is what Scotty-boy had to say about it Thursday. From the WH website, so it MUST be true.
However, how are there assigned seats if you don’t assign any, Scotty-boy?
Q Jeff Gannon. How did he get a White House pass, or what kind of credentials did he have?
MR. McCLELLAN: Just like anyone else who comes to the White House.
Q Hard pass?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he had never applied for a hard pass. He had a daily pass. I think he's been coming for --
Q Was he coming for --
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on. I think he's been coming for more than two years now.
Q Under what name?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sorry?
Q Under what name?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you have to get cleared. You have to -- just like anybody else that comes to the White House, you have to have your full name, your Social Security number and your birth date. So you have to be cleared just like anybody else.
Q So he was being cleared under James Guckert, or whatever his name is?
MR. McCLELLAN: My understanding, yes.
Q Okay, and how did he get picked to get a question asked at the last news conference?
MR. McCLELLAN: He didn't. The President didn't have a list. The President didn't -- he was in the briefing room. There are assigned seats in the briefing room. We didn't do any assigning of seats, and the President worked his way through the rows, and called on people as he came to them. He doesn't know who he is.
Q Were you aware that he had another name?
MR. McCLELLAN: Was I aware? I had heard that. I had heard that, yes, recently.
Q But did you know during all this time that he really wasn't Jeff Gannon?
MR. McCLELLAN: I heard at some point, yes -- previously.
Q As Press Secretary, what do you think about this whole --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, like I said -- what do I think about it? Well, let me explain a few things. First, as the press secretary, I don't think it's the role of the Press Secretary to get into picking or choosing who gets press credentials. Also, I don't think it's the role of the Press Secretary to get into being a media critic, and I think there are very good reasons for that. I've never inserted myself into the process. He, like anyone else, showed that he was representing a news organization that published regularly, and so he was cleared two years ago to receive daily passes, just like many others are. The issue comes up -- it becomes, in this day and age, when you have a changing media, it's not an easy issue to decide or try to pick and choose who is a journalist. And there -- it gets into the issue of advocacy journalism. Where do you draw the line? There are a number of people who cross that line in the briefing room.
And, as far as I'm concerned, I would welcome the White House Correspondents Association, if they have any concerns or issues that they want to bring to my attention, they know my door is open and I'll be glad to discuss these issues with them. I have an open dialogue with the Correspondents Association. No one's ever brought such an issue to my attention, in my -- during my time as being Press Secretary. And you all cover the briefing room on a regular basis. You know that there are a number of people in that room that express their points of view, and there are people in that room that represent traditional media, they represent talk radio, they represent -- they're columnists, and they represent online news organizations.
Q Was the White House aware at all -- was the White House aware -- was the White House aware at all about the online websites that he was linked to?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. This has only come to my attention through the news reports, just a few reporters calling in.
Q But just to make it clear, the only criteria, from the White House perspective is, someone can pass the Secret Service background check
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, that's not -- first of all, I don't involve myself in that process, it's handled at a staff level. Like I said, if the White House Correspondents Association ever wants to talk about issues, I welcome that. But it becomes an issue -- it becomes an issue of where do you draw the line? Do you draw the line at advocacy journalism because there are a number of people that crossed that line, as I said? But there's hard -- there's hard passes and there's daily passes, as you are well aware. For a hard pass, you have to have a House and Senate credential, you have to regularly cover the White House, you have to apply for it, you have to go through a detailed FBI background check.
My understanding was, when he started coming to the White House about two years ago, the staff asked to see that it -- that he represented a news organization that published regularly. And they showed that, so he was cleared and has been cleared ever since based on that time.
And this is just now something that's come to my attention more recently because it's been an issue raised in some media reports.
from John Pettit
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