Archive for March, 2012

Why Keith Olberman Got Fired Again

Keith Olbermann, former host of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, from where he was eventually fired, faced the same music again yesterday when Current TV decided to let him go as well, stating that their values of “respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to [their] viewers” were  “no longer reflected in [their] relationship with Keith Olbermann.” They did not make any mention of any specifics or what might have precipitated their decision to can Olberman who will be replaced by former New York governor and CNN host Eliot Spitzer.

I must say I was shocked and saddened when they fired him so unexpectedly last year. I always knew that he was quite an opinionated person who did not shy away from saying it like it is, but he never crossed the line or divulged in tasteless banter or in any other way comprise the integrity of his show and the viewers. Yes he was outspoken and passionate – and I hate having to say that in this apologetic tone as if it was a liability – but he was never rude or unreasonable.  I especially loved his insight and willingness to swing a heavy hammer to the privileged and demand they cough up their fair share. So needless to say that it was really strange to me that they fired him so promptly. He wasn’t even given the opportunity to say goodbye, he was just booted.

Olbermann’s firing from Current yesterday leaves much of the same bitter aftertaste in my mouth. His position at Current was supposed to be his triumphant return to television in tatters. After his bitter departure from MSNBC, Current sought to make him the centerpiece of its rebranding as a progressive news network.

It was not long, though, before the tensions between Olbermann and his superiors exploded into the open. In January, his sudden absence from Current’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses led to open warfare between the two sides. Olbermann fired off a statement saying that he was “not given a legitimate opportunity to host under acceptable conditions,” adding, “They know it and we know it. Telling half the story is wrong.”

There were also reports that Olbermann was incensed by repeated technical problems with his show, and miffed that he was not being given a greater say in deciding which shows were going to precede and follow his.

All this of course just seems to be nothing but a ruse to get rid of Olberman whose direct approach on a lot of liberal causes don’t stomach too well with Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, the founders of the network.

A few things have been swirling around that could have given us all a clue as to the fat of Olberman on Current:

1.) Comcast became a partial owner of Current
2.) Keith’s background during taping kept going black, lights kept fading out on him, and audio would be sketchy at his “new” desk
3.) Keith did not host the NH primaries for Current
4.) Jennifer Gandholm, former Governer of Michigan, was lauded and courted by Al Gore, on Chenk’s program. Jennifer, looked and acted as if she swallowed a cheshire cat, and her behavior of overt aggressiveness with the two men, made me think she was going to have a big role in Current soon.
5.) Jennifer has her own heavily promoted show, non-stop ads, huge new layout, all the cameras, big TV screens, etc…and Jennifer covers the NH primary; surprise!
6.) Keith, once again is forced to table “Worst Persons” and his absences are growing.
7.) Rumors are surfacing about Keith being in dispute with Current, but Keith has a nasty cold and bronchial cough and had to take time off; he was still sick upon his return

Why Keith Olberman was Really Fired

The problem, if one can call it that, is that Olberman wants to rake his opponents over the coals,  which he is very good at, and which, frankly, his opponents largely deserve. Al Gore, on the other hand, wants to play  “nice” with his opponents, which is most definitely not Olberman’s (or mine for that matter) style, not to mention detrimental.

Wanting to “play nice”, however, is precisely what the problem is with the Democrats in Congress (and the White House), and why little has gotten done in the past four years to benefit the middle class: Obama wants to play nice with Republicans.  Over the past four year, more often than not, he has continuously been giving in to the credence of their cut throat policies that only benefit the 1% at the expense of everyone and everything else; he has been pushing for  bipartisan politics in a Congress that mostly loathes him and where they have so little respect for him as a person and the office of the Presidency that he occupies that they yell “you lie” while he is addressing Congress. In fact Obama took playing nice so far that the Republicans conned him into extending the much loathed tax cut for the wealthy – the one thing he had vowed during his campaign he was not going to do. It was so bad they even got him to apologize to the UK for having criticized BP for the devastating oil spill it was responsible for and which since has left the Gulf in shambles.

Yes, BP was responsbile for the spill and Obama ended up apologizing to the UK for saying that BP was responsbile for the spill. The fuckery went so far that even US legislators, such as Rep. Joe Barton from Texas, ended up apologizing on Obama’s behalf for the $20 billion escrow account that his administration asked BP to create for paying out damages in the case.

These are just a few examples of the kind of nice play folks like Al Gore and Obama have been engaging in during some futile attempt to somehow do what exactly….gain the sympathy of conservatives, make them understand? To reason with them? To show that they are reasonable?

The truth is, however, that you can’t ‘reason’ with conservatives who – out of principle – say that up is down when Obama says so; just as you can’t reason with irrational people.  Al Gore, of all people, should already know this from the way he was treated for his global warming documentary.

Yet here we got Keith Olberman who – official reasons for his dismissal aside – is being basically fired because he has been refusing to play along when conservatives once again stepped forward to take a long shit on the majority of the American people and their causes to enrich the pockets of banks, corporations, oil companies and millionaires.

I like Keith Olberman. He stands up for the truth and justice; he wants things investigated, explained and straightened out to better humanity. He champions the cause of those who otherwise may not have a voice.  He is their advocate. And he says those things with conviction and valor.

One cannot deny his passion in this regard. In a way he might be feeling the anger of those people whom he defends so definatly for. He is very unapologetic and quite relentless about it but he is also fair.

He is also not afraid to continue standing by the things he said and believed to be the truth even if it means he is not being popular or liked. That is a rare quality. We have entirely too many sheep in this world who think it is just really cool and classy to be giving credence to everyone’s outlandish, often ignorant views that are detrimental to society and human kind.

Current prides itself in being a progressive news outlet, but they are not really progressive if they are letting Olberman go for essentially being too progressive and liberal. The fact that he got canned twice now tells me he probably refused to cave in  and is a really awesome guy who wont relinquish his beliefs to be polite to people with destructive and sinister notions.

My take on this is that if the Establishment approves of you and likes you, you know you are doing something wrong. As Mark Twain once said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” 

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Stupid Things People Believe

More than 25 % of Americans believe that prayer is a proper form of health care.

More than 75% of Americans say personal prayer, or other spiritual and religious practices, can speed or help the medical treatment of people who are ill.

And 63 % say doctors should join their patients in prayer to ask for help in curing an illness.

 

 

 

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War on Women: Pakistani Acid Victim Commits Suicide

This is just beyond sad. Being a woman has never sucked more.

Pakistani acid attack victim Fakhra Younus, who was attacked by her husband, an ex-lawmaker and son of a political powerhouse, and permanently disfigured undergoing more than three dozen surgeries over a decade, finally decided that she no longer had anything to live for and committed suicide on March 17. She reportedly jumped from the sixth floor of a building in Rome, where she had been living and receiving treatment.

As is to be expected, her ex husband Bilal Khar was acquitted on all charges.

Pakistan, a male dominated society in which women are apparently less than second class citizens and human beings, is notorious for such atrocities against women.  According to the  The Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights organization, more than 8,500 acid attacks, forced marriages and other forms of violence against women were reported in Pakistan in 2011 and these numbers are suspected to be an undercount because the group relies mostly on media reports.

Fakhra Younus was only 22 when her husband of three years, Bilal Khar, a member of Pakistan’s politically elite Khar family, threw acid on her face when she was sleeping in her own home.  Younus was a teenage dancing girl working in the red light district of the southern city of Karachi when she met Khar. The unusual pairing was the younger Khar’s third marriage. He was in his mid-30s at the time.

The couple was married for three years, but Younus eventually left him because he allegedly physically and verbally abused her. She claimed that he came to her mother’s house while she was sleeping in May 2000 and poured acid all over her in the presence of her 5-year-old son from a different man.

Tehmina Durrani, Ghulam Mustafa Khar’s ex-wife and his son’s stepmother, became an advocate for Younus after the attack, drawing international attention to the case. She said that Younus’ injuries were the worst she had ever seen on an acid attack victim.

“So many times we thought she would die in the night because her nose was melted and she couldn’t breathe,” said Durrani, who wrote a book about her own allegedly abusive relationship with the elder Khar. “We used to put a straw in the little bit of her mouth that was left because the rest was all melted together.”

She said Younus, whose life had always been hard, became a liability to her family, for whom she was once a source of income.

“Her life was a parched stretch of hard rock on which nothing bloomed,” Durrani wrote in a column in The News after Younus’ suicide.

The Washington Post noted that Yunus became the face of violence against women in the country after Pakistani activist Tehmina Durrani, author of “My Feudal Lord,” helped Yunus escape to Rome and get treatment for her disfigurement. Durrani is known to speak out against the injustices women face in Muslim society. Over the years, Yunus underwent 38 facial reconstructive and plastic surgeries after the attack.

Durrani wrote of Yunus in The News Daily, “I have met many acid victims. Never have I seen one as completely disfigured as Fakhra. She had not just become faceless; her body had also melted to the bone. Despite her stark and hopeless condition, the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was not in the least God-fearing. She was provided nothing…but disdain…and trashed.”

Acid attacks are prevalent in certain parts of Asia. According to the New York Times’ Nicholas D. Kristof, who reported  in 2008  that attacks were then at an all-time high in Pakistan, they are often the work of husbands who attack their wives as a form of revenge for refusing sexual advances or other proposals.

Yunus’ body was buried Sunday, according to News Daily, which also reported that she left a written message saying that she was committing suicide because of the silence and atrocities committed by Pakistani leaders.

Women Under Assault

It is one thing to be oppressed something like 500 years ago but to still endure such things in 2012 is beyond comprehension and worse actually than what happened 500 or 200 or 100 years ago, because back then we as human kind didn’t know better, but now we do.

Yet women are still treated like second class citizens and human beings. Pakistan is one extreme of the spectrum, where women are regularly physically assaulted and disfigured and spit on, with no rights whatsoever, but make no mistake about it that woman are under attack, physically or emotionally, directly or indirectly, even in so-called enlightened western cultures and countires. The Planned Parenthood debates of late, as well as the issues surrounding women’s reproductive rights, including legislated vaginal ultrasound probing of women who want to get an abortion, are just a few examples to the point. Violence and injustice come in man y forms. Don’t think for one second that simply because you are spared from acid attacks, you – as a woman – are not under attack in the U.S.

I do not, by any means, want to trivialize Fakhra’s horrible situation. Getting vaginally probed, paid less salary and just generally treated like a liability is nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to what she had to endure.  The point I am trying to make, however, is that all womanhood in general has become a liability and is under attack. This is all part of the same problem.

I was just reading an article in the Marie Claire that women, over the course of their lifetime, pay more than a man for everything from dry cleaning to deodorant, mortgage rates and cars. Even health insurance premiums. A 25 year old women who doesn’t smoke pays more than a 25 year old male who does smoke. And this is in our own country. As the article states, despite the civil rights laws prohibiting job and housing discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation, there’s no federal law banning discrimination in the sale of goods and services, so women – naturally – get the shit end of the stick.

California, which in 1996 became the first state to ban gender pricing, found that women paid about $1,351 annually in extra costs and fees. Apply that figure to the rest of the women in the country and the total burden is staggering — roughly $151 billion in markups, more than what the federal government spent on education last year and greater than the budgets of 43 states.

Discrimination is actually costing us money. The startling thing is – as professor John Banzhaf of the George Washington University Law School pointed out – that “Even though it’s well recognized, people sit back and go, ‘Well, that’s just the way it is.’  Gender pricing is standard industry practice and they get away with it, because no one says anything. Men sure are not going to object and as long as woman adhere to the doormat “well it is just how it is” mentality, nothing will change.

The far reaching, long term consequences of such forms of discrimination that have been firmly institutionalized and engraved in our society, its practices and even our minds, is the general undermining of women in all aspects of life and society, not to mention that such practices become a habit so ingrained that no one even stops to think to question them. We only go after the low hanging fruit, the truly blatant and obvious forms of discrimination, such as sexual harassment at the work place or getting fired for being pregnant. But we are not going after the not-so obvious ones. Gender pricing is just the beginning – the seedling. You leave it untouched, that seedling will grow into the most atrocious monster Miss Fakhra Younus had the misfortune of meeting.

Yeah, being a woman never sucked more and it doesn’t look like it is going to change anytime soon.

Human kind is a failed experiment, that’s for sure

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Making Excuses for Executioners and Murderers. Case in Point: Robert Bales

On March 11, 2012, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales  –  a worthless human being for whom pretty much every excuse under the sun is being currently used to justify the massacre he committed –  after drinking on a southern Afghanistan base, crept away to two slumbering villages overnight, shooting his victims and setting many of them on fire. Nine of the 16 killed were children and 11 belonged to one family.

Because the perpetrator is an American, true to form, every news media outlet in the US is making an array of excuses for this guy, from citing his personal money and job problems, to a concussive brain injury, alleged Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought upon by his three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as well as marital problems.  The man has not even been charged yet – as if there was some sort of a dispute exactly as to what he did – and in fact they are still trying to determine what the charges ought to be.

It is interesting to note that this violent murderer and executioner is being held in the same maximum security military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where they just a few months ago held Pfc. Bradley Manning, a non-violent individual whose only offense allegedly is leaking materials documenting war crimes, among other things, to WikiLeaks.

Bale’s defense attorney, John Henry Browne, 65,  whose clients range from serial killer Ted Bundy to Colton Harris-Moore, is said to probably not try to argue for a complete acquittal of Bales but instead work to ratchet down the charges. A full acquittal would require that Browne convince a military jury that his client “was unable to perceive the wrongfulness of his or her acts.”  More likely, Bales’ defense will argue that his client’s acts “were not premeditated.” That could possibly expose him to lesser offenses, such as second-degree murder or even manslaughter.

I must say that the thought of this executioner and murderer getting off the hook and being set free with something like second degree murder or manslaughter after shooting and setting on fire nearly a dozen children and women turns my stomach and makes me lose any kind of vestigial hope I may have had in humanity.

When the Whole Country Makes Excuses for Murderers and Executioners

As his legal preparations get under way, the news media, Bale’s family and friends as well a colleagues and every commentator in this nation are working hard to paint him as the real victim here under the guise of everything they could come up with doing a quick internet search for “getting murderers acquitted”.  As if what Bales did really couldn’t be true and something else was going on there. Everything but personal accountability.

And the only thing that seems to surprise and pain his family is not the fact that 16 people were brutally killed and torched at his hands, but how such a sweet, dedicated little golden boy who did such unique things such as being a high school student once and engaging in extracurricular activities, could have possibly done such a thing. They are said to stand behind the man they know as a “devoted husband, father and dedicated member of the armed services.” It is almost like children who just cannot believe Santa Clause isn’t real.

No tactics aimed at evoking sympathy for this murderer are spared. His victims remain faceless and nameless, seen as nothing but a bunch of dirty Arabs and terrorists no one cares about (note to the reader: Afghans are not Arabs). Bales is remembered fondly by everyone; neighbors recite his “gregarious, chatty and engaged” attitudes as a teen, his army colleagues describe a sunny man, using words like “solid,” and offering up photos of him wearing a broad grin, and his commanding officer Maj. Brent Clemmer describes him as “a really good” soldier and “one of those guys who was always positive”. In fact, in what appears to be a moment of keen character judgment, Clemmer once nominated Bales to receive a medal of valor for his conduct in the battle of Najaf in 2007.

With the high esteem everyone seems to have for this guy it surprises me they haven’t put a medal on him already.

Needless to say I am pissed.

I really can’t believe how the news media in this country and journalists and this guy’s friends and family and pretty much everyone it seems are trying to make excuses and almost feel sorry for him: “he had money problems“, “he had job problems“, “poor baby was under stress“, “he once saved people “, “he was such a nice guy“, “he was deployed to war” blah blah blah. Are you kidding me? I don’t care what your problems are and what stress you are under, you don’t go torching children and innocent civilians.

We all have problems, we are all not feeling great; in fact, not feeling great is the reality for everyone after childhood ends.  In recent years, a lot of people lost their homes and retirements and livelihood; we are all somehow having issues of varying degrees – from the traumatic and serious to the mundane –  but we don’t go on killing sprees setting people on fire.

Behaving Like the Enemy

If the situation had been the other way around, as in an Afghan soldier had torched and killed over a dozen of American children and families, you bet that no one in the US news media would be sitting here reciting to us the story behind the Afghan soldier’s childhood and tough personal circumstances in attempts to evoke sympathy for him or make his atrocities more “understandable”.

But since the perpetrator is American, everyone is making excuses for him instead of seeing this as what it is: the cold blooded massacre of innocent people by an individual who belongs locked up for the rest of his life for his crimes.

From citing the military industrial complex, the way our troops and veterans are treated, to the Bush administration as well as the rationale behind the war – all legitimate points on their own merit – everyone seems to think that it is everyone else’s fault but his.

While it is important to take the mental state of a person committing a murder into account, in a gruesome case like this and of such proportions where the facts speak for themselves, it is seems asinine to be employing the cowardly tactics of defense attorneys who represent the Ted Bundys and Scott Petersons of this world to somehow absolve this guy of any wrong doing.

Glimpses of a Darkness in Bale’s personal life

A New York Times article shows that Bales was not really the stable, swell and upright citizen everyone is falsely painting  him out to be.  Bales’s past includes an arrest on a misdemeanor charge of assault on a woman, which was dropped after he completed anger-management counseling; an accident in which he overturned his car, something he attributed to falling asleep at the wheel; and an accumulation of rejections and disappointments.

He also seemed to be enjoying his deployments. During his June 2006 to September 2007 deployment to Iraq, Bales injured his foot. When he returned to the Tacoma area, he was limping, neighbors said, but also working hard to rehabilitate his foot because he wanted to return to full duty. “He was a gung-ho Army guy,” said Tim Burgess, 59, a retired trucker and warehouse worker who lived next door to Bales at the time. “He still wanted to see action even though he had been wounded.”

By August 2009, he was gone again. It was a quieter tour, with more nation building than combat. In a Facebook exchange with a childhood friend, Steven Berling,  Bales called the deployment “boring” and “pretty dumb,” then lamented the lack of fighting. “Giving money to Hagji instead of bullets just don’t seem right,” he wrote, apparently misspelling Hajji, a term used by soldiers, often pejoratively, in referring to Arab people.

Bales does not strike one as a peaceful non-violent man or as someone suffering from PTSD. He appears to be harboring a history of violent tendencies and disdain for the citizens of the countries he is deployed to.

Shame on America and everyone who attempts to make excuses for murderers and executioners, such as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales: former high school teenager with hobbies, loving husband and father (except for that time he assaulted a woman),  patriot to his country, always eager for the next deployment; loser first class on all other accounts, murderer and executioner of children, women and other innocent civilians.

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Governor Corbett from Pennsylvania Wants Women Who Have to Undergo Transvaginal Ultrasound to “Just Close” Their Eyes

PA governor and misogynist extraordinaire Tom Corbett

Yeah, another man violating a woman and telling her to just close her eyes and take it while he’s giving it to her and looking to codify that behavior into law while he’s at it.

During a discussion of a far-reaching mandatory ultrasound bill, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett dismissed off-handedly the insinuation that the measure goes too far, saying, “You just have to close your eyes.”

Republicans and the few Democrats that support them have taken the notion of misogyny and violating a woman to new heights, all beautifully wrapped in obfuscating language that makes being vaginally probed and humiliated sound like a trip to the spa and personal salvation, all at once.

The transvaginal ultrasound bill is misleadingly called the Woman’s Right to Know Act and its introduction reads like a dream come true for all lovers of humanity and especially all those who hold women in high esteem:

An act providing for ultrasound test requirements to determine gestational ages of unborn children; establishing the right to view ultrasound image and ultrasound video of unborn child and the right to observe or hear the fetal heartbeat.”

Note how it refers to the fetus as a child already, implying personhood.

Also note the reversal of language they use: establishing the right to view and hear as opposed to shaming a woman into carrying a pregnancy she doesn’t want to full term, which is really what this bill really is about.

The bill goes on to say that

A woman considering an abortion has the right to receive complete and accurate information regarding the development and health of her unborn child.[…]  In recognition of the importance of a woman’s dignity in making an informed choice, the factual information provided by an ultrasound test should be provided to a woman as an integral part of the informed consent necessary to undergo an abortion.”

According to the bill, a woman who has been patronized regarding her decision making abilities and who is being forced to undergo an invasive procedure under the guise of “informed consent” should take whatever dignity she has left – and which the State of Pennsylvania generously grants her according to the bill – so she can make an informed decision.  One which lawmakers apparently believe a woman is really incapable of making unless they spell it out for her.

Instead of describing this bill as what it really is, namely violation of a woman’s body and insulting, they call shaming a woman into a pregnancy she never wanted  as protecting her rights.

So ladies, this is all for your own good and protection. Lean back, take a deep breath, close your eyes and take it.

Segregation, Jim Crow Laws and the Woman’s Right to Know Act

This all sounds suspiciously like another epoch of our history; a dark epoch called Segregation and the Jim Crow laws that followed it. Back then, the same rationale of “this is done for your own protection” was used to justify de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with a supposedly “separate but equal” status for black Americans. One rationale for the systematic exclusion of black Americans from southern public society was that it was for their own protection. An early 20th century scholar suggested that having allowed blacks in white schools would mean “constantly subjecting them to adverse feeling and opinion“, which might lead to “a morbid race consciousness“. This perspective took anti-black sentiment for granted, because bigotry was widespread in the South (Murphy, Edgar Gardner. The Problems of the Present South. 1910, page 37).

History repeats itself over and over again and yet we don’t learn our lessons.

Corbett’s comments are disturbingly offensive and yet just one of the many hits agaisnt women and women’s rights in honor of Women’s History Month.  Yep, no one knows how to better honor and respect women than men who legislate them to get unnecessary and invasive procedures as a means of getting a government permission slip to undergo legal medical care, who shame them by shoving an ultrasound screen in their face and who casually dismiss their concerns regarding it by advising them to just close their eyes.

Speaking of respect for women:  in another totally non-intrusive  way in the finest tradition of non-government interference that is so dear and near to Republicans, Ayatollah Santorum has vowed to ban hard-core pornography when elected into office, stating that “pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.

I am going to get into Santorum’s epic misinformation about porn in another post, but it is good to know that pleasure fucking, and not something like mandatory vaginal probing for a legal medical procedure, constitutes misogyny in the bubble unembarrassed, supposedly righteous, pious and god fearing hypocrites like Santorum  live in.


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