Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bits and pieces

Last month, the US Supreme Court ruled that: excessive campaign contributions to a judge create an unconstitutional threat to a fair trial (federal judges are appointed but many state and local judges are elected). I find this shocking. I thought that campaign bribes... umm... I mean 'contributions'... were simply a magnanimous expression of civic good will by a person or corporation. I thought they were a manifestation of (hold hand over heart) our constitutional right to free speech. How could the purely noble and beneficent action of a campaign 'contribution' constitute a potentially corrupting act? How could justices rule against 'free speech'?

An essay in The Christian Science Monitor by a journalism professor opines that newspapers need to drop their elitism and remember their roots.

Update: The BBC News Editors' blog ruminates on The End of Fortress Journalism.

While some publications are leading a hysterical, counterproductive witch hunt against teens having a beer, others are taking a more rational approach. This piece in The Atlantic opines that drinking ought to be taught to teens. I've often said that the way we Americans treat drinking is completely absurd. We don't just give kids a set of car keys the day they turn 16 and say "happy driving." We decide that driving is serious and ought to be taught, that teens will learn best by doing it incrementally and, initially, with adult supervision. Yet we jettison this sensible approach when it comes to drinking alcohol and are stupefied as to why binge drinking is the result.

The NPR program On the Media did a good show debunking a number of commonly held myths. This segment addressed the falsehood that President Obama was a Muslim (it's testament to the incoherence of ignorance that the 'Obama is a Muslim' and 'Obama's CHRISTIAN pastor is an America-hater' charges can spread simultaneously). This segment interviews a sociologist and Vietnam Vet who investigated much trumpeted claims that Vietnam war protesters spitting on veterans was a widespread phenomenon. The researcher delved into press archives from the sixties and seventies, and what he found was very surprising: not a single firsthand account of a vet getting spit on, and close to no published claims by anyone so ignobly victimized. He noted that it really wasn’t until about 1980 that these stories began to circulate, which is incredibly suspicious considering the divisive nature of the Vietnam war.

Real Time host Bill Maher recently bemoaned, " "[W]hat we need is an actual progressive party to represent the millions of Americans who aren't being served by the Democrats. Because, bottom line, Democrats are the new Republicans." The Green Party of the United States responded.

Police officers raided a gay bar arresting seven people and sending one to the hospital after he had his head slammed into a door by the forces of 'order.' This is not something out of Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Nor is it a story from the 1950s. It's out of Fort Worth, TX and it happened only a few weeks ago. The raid occurred shortly after the screening of a documentary on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall raid in New York, the event widely seen as the trigger of the gay civil rights' movement in America. We have a gay councilman. We've had an ordinance prohibiting discrimination over sexual orientation for years. People are angry and confused, and so am I," said Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Hicks. Not only did police fail to explain why the raid occurred, they had the audacity to blame the victims of their unprovoked raid. I know Texas is not the most progressive state in the country but this remains the 21st century and this incident deserves a state investigation.

On the 50th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence (River) Seaway, North Country Public Radio has a series of stories on the Lost Villages. These municipalities, mostly in Ontario, were literally wiped off the map with the Seaway's construction.


Luke said...

As a note to "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!," I don't think the Republican Party that pushed through a $700 billion bailout, started an unconstitutional war, and supports Big Brotheresque violations of civil liberties is doing a very good job of representing conservatives either. Basically, our 2-party system doesn't represent the left or the right. It only represents the politicians and their 'friends.'

Brian said...

By "friends," I assume you mean their corporate sponsors?