Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Uncle Sam Is Not Your Janitor

America may be on the verge of yet another war - something the American people don't want - but you wouldn't know it if you checked the U.S. news media. Monitoring America's major legitimate news sources, only a few are even talking about that uneasy feeling we're having about Syria, that the ghosts of pre-war eras of the past are walking among us again.

The stories our colleagues are covering do include some important topics, like the announcement by NBA player Jason Collins that he's gay - the first out and active player in the NBA, or any major professional men's sport in the U.S. That's a topic we'll likely revisit ourselves later this week.

The continued cowardly actions of Congress in dealing with the effects of sequestration also grabbed some of the headlines, as did the Elizabeth Colbert-Busch smackdown of Mark Sanford at the debate in South Carolina, and the story of Justice Sandra Day O'Conner finally admitting the Supreme Court's 2000 Bush v. Gore decision seriously harmed the legitimacy of the Court.

Still, of all the major U.S. newspapers and other legitimate news organizations, not a single one over the last ten hours prominently featured the fact that the world once again appears to be waiting on the U.S. to clean up the ongoing mess in Syria.

That wasn't the case last weekend, when some of the same Republicans who got us into the mess in Iraq were again banging the war drums on the Sunday shows.

On Fox, several guests made it clear how they think America needs to get involved in Syria militarily. Loyal conservative Bill Kristol even called President Obama 'irresponsible' for not wanting to rush into war. Republican Rep. Mike Rogers insisted on ABC that some action be taken by the U.S. to help cleanup the situation in Syria. Sen. John McCain tried to have it both ways, saying that putting U.S. troops in Syria would be the "worst thing the United States could do," but also insisting that Syrians would "take revenge" on America if we didn't invade.

Meanwhile, the Syrian elite remain mostly unaffected by the civil war raging in their own country. All this while the leader of last nation we've been trying to help for over a decade - Afghanistan - admitted the U.S. has been wasting millions trying and failing to bribe their way to peace in his country.

We're aware of America's place as a world leader, but as we've pointed out previously, more than once, America can no longer be counted upon to be the world's sole policeman. What's more, America has already been supporting the rebels in Syria for some time - just without putting U.S. soldiers on the ground there, in harm's way.

The rest of the world needs to learn that they cannot scream at America to clean up every mess around the world - and then scream at America when and if we do intervene to try and clean up the mess in question.

There are many nations that are competent and have more of a stake in conflicts going on near them. Israel, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt all have far more to lose if Syria remains a war-torn nation for years. What's more, some of those nations could earn international praise if they successfully attempt to help Syrians clean up the mess the Assad regime has left there.

The days of America as getting dirty up to our proverbial elbows as worldwide political janitor and supercop are ending. We'll still help, sure.

But it's time everyone else learned to grab a political mop and bucket, and do a bit more political cleanup themselves.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Still Doin' It Wrong

Even as the beltway media crawls back to their posts after a weekend of star power and occasionally ridiculous behavior, Congress is going on yet another week of vacation. Of course, the members of both the House and Senate made sure to exempt the FAA from the sequester budget cuts that might have affected Congressmember's flights back to DC next week.

If you're shaking your head, thinking that Congress - and especially the Republicans in Congress - have yet to learn the lessons of last year's elections, and of their failures so far this year, we'd note that you seem to be thinking a lot more clearly than many in DC today.

For his part, President Obama played along with the media at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The President poked fun at himself and virtually every other major media organization in DC - both legitimate and illegitimate alike. Of course, even before the weekend soiree, Obama was already pushing forward with some potential success on one of his top agenda items for this term: Comprehensive immigration reform.

Even though leading Republicans in Congress won't actually be working in Washington this week, or traveling with the President to Mexico, you can be sure they'll be bashing their right-wing anti-immigration talking points through every media outlet they can worm their way onto. Sadly, they still can't understand why immigrants - especially Latino immigrants - don't vote Republican.

Politico made fools of themselves last week, trying to answer that question for Republicans by parroting right-wing talking points, that falsely claim a comprehensive immigration solution would equal nearly 11 million votes for Democrats in the future. Sadly, the facts belie Politico's empty rhetoric. Nate Cohn eviscerated Politico's shoddy math on that topic last week, and even Senator Marco Rubio - no champion of the poor - has taken a fairly bold stand against his own party on immigration.

The basic facts about America's immigration problems are simple. We have nearly 12 million people in this country who are not legal Americans. They cannot be rounded up and shipped back to the 100+ nations they're from, in part, because Americans would not put up with the police state tactics necessary to complete such a task.

Most immigrants who are already here would love to have a plain, easy to understand, functional system that works clearly, fairly, and rapidly for ALL immigrants, regardless of their current status - the opposite of our current system.

The people who would mind such a well-functioning system are either the extremists in the GOP, or the employers who have preyed on immigrants - especially undocumented immigrants simply looking for a better life in America. Those abusive employers know the unregistered immigrants don't understand the complex and arcane maze of immigration policies the United States currently has. Many of those same employers also donate, in both open and untraceable ways, to the same politicians that continue to block real, functional, immigration reform - primarily Republicans.

Meaning the problem for Republicans isn't just an issue of racial problems with Latinos and other minorities, but it's also a class issue - one most on the political right refuse to acknowledge. As Jonathan Capehart noted recently, when he quoted Republican stalwart Dick Armey, “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you.”

As long as Republicans keep beating on the poor, and siding with the rich and corporations against the workers, poor immigrants from all nations - and especially poor Latinos - simply won't come around to the GOP way of thinking.

If you're a Republican, and you can't understand that simple fact, when it comes to thinking, you're still doin' it wrong.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Half-Assed Nation

We apologize if we seem a bit rushed today, as some members of our staff are headed to a very important event this weekend - which means we won't be publishing a Friday edition tomorrow.

Even if we are cutting short our publication schedule this week, we try to never half-ass what we do for you. As we've mentioned many times over the years, we firmly believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well - an axiom that sadly not everyone in America still believes in.

From the half-assed investigation of the ricin-poisoned letters in Mississippi, to the half-assed gun safety vote in the Senate - which now appears to be seriously harming some Senators - America seems to be filled with people who seem more than proud to do less than enough.

Our bass-ackwards U.S. transportation system is a perfect example of that problem right now.

When the sequester began to loom back in February, we said then - referring to hard facts from Ezra Klein, Ed Kilgore, Chris Hayes and other knowledgable pundits - that the outcome of sequestration was not going to be good, and that the resulting effects of the across the board cuts were not going to make Americans happy.

This was also what the Obama Administration was saying back then, even though many members of the media only half-assed their coverage of the President's warning. In fact, when the sequestration began and furloughs of government employees started trickling in, Republicans and most media pundits on the political right cheered, acting as though they'd won some great battle in Congress.

Of course, now that Americans are having to wait in ever-longer lines at the airports, and most Americans aren't exactly enjoying it the way journalist Neda Semnani recently suggested, Congress is starting to hear a lot more jeers than they are cheers.

As the members of Congress wait at the airports today (since they can no longer catch military flights home), we hope the jeers they hear from their unhappy constituents aren't just half-hearted grumbling about how things could be better in Washington, but aren't.

Instead, we hope those members of Congress - trapped in long metal tubes for hundreds of miles with unhappy constituents - receive full-throated denunciations of their half-measures and their half-assed work schedule. We also hope their pilots (who are also angry) announce the flight delays as a growing number of pilots have begun to do: "We'll be leaving an hour late now, thanks to the incompetence of our government."

If we had more time today, we might talk about how the House Republican leadership half-assed another vote yesterday to help improve the ACA, or how the interagency efforts surrounding the Boston bombing suspects was half-assed over a year ago.

Unfortunately, we've got to head to the airport a bit early today, since only half the number of air traffic controllers are on duty.

[Half-hearted cheer] Hooray for America.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's No Joke - Spring Is Coming

For some of our staff and readers who live in the Midwest, so far spring 2013 hasn't exactly put a lot of bounce in our step. In fact, every time the temperature gets seasonably comfortable, everyone begins to cringe, as though they're just waiting for winter to jump out from behind a rock and maul the fair maiden of spring once again.

From the snowbound doubleheader at the Rockies-Mets game last week, to the spring snow storms that hit Kansas and Colorado, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota this month, Midwesterners have had good reason to fear that winter will never go away. Even now, a hard freeze overnight Tuesday into Wednesday in Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa will leave daytime temperatures today far cooler than they should be for this time of year.

Not surprisingly, the anti-science idiots who insist climate change isn't real are crowing with glee once again, in the shadow of Earth Day 2013 (which was Monday, April 22). They continue to insist all this cold weather must mean that global warming isn't happening.

As we reminded them and you last year on Earth Day, there is a difference between climate and weather - and this year, that difference is more important than ever.

While the weather in the Midwest this spring may have appeared to be colder and wetter than normal, the climate for the region is still warmer - and drier. In fact, according to a report released recently by NOAA, and made understandable by the Pulitzer Prize-winning InsideClimateNews, 2013 looks to be another bleak and desperate year for drought conditions, comparable to the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.

Thankfully, there are some state governments that are grudgingly moving forward on climate change legislation, that primarily focuses on the most important potential problem created by climate change in landlocked regions like the Midwest: water. Even in deep red conservative Nebraska, lawmakers seem to clearly understand that without access to clean, drinkable, useable water in the Midwest, everyone and everything will be dead.

We're not going to tell you that any level of government in the U.S. has been perfect on environmental issues. President Obama has been more successful in his environmental initiatives than most liberals will give him credit for - especially with the obstructionist Republicans in Congress he must deal with. Still, we expect more from him, and from all areas of government.

Those who care about the environment may get more help soon on crucial issues, in light of the EPA's harsh review of the State Department's flimsy Keystone review, and the million-plus citizen responses against the Keystone pipeline that the State Department received during the official public comment period.

No matter what the weather is outside, or what the anti-science idiots are saying, the fact remains that environmentally sensible decisions will often lead to positive outcomes in the long term.

It's also true that in the long term, spring will eventually come back to the region. As the old joke goes, why wouldn't spring come to the Midwest? It's already been everywhere else.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Keep Out The Clowns

We're not sure which is worse - when Congress is in session, fighting like children, or when they're out of town, on one of their many vacations, as they will be again next week.

If they're going to act like clowns, as some of them have been recently, we're not so sure it wouldn't be better for America if members of Congress didn't just go back to hiding in the offices and hotel meeting rooms of their lobbyists/owners.

We're not exaggerating when we call out members of Congress as acting clownish.

Take Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican from Iowa, whose hypocrisy caught up with him Monday in front of his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Last Friday, prior to the Boston bombing suspects being captured (or killed), Grassley attempted to politicize the bombing, saying the act of terror was a reason not to pass the bipartisan immigration reform bill. On Monday, when Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York addressed - in general - the politicization of the bombings by lawmakers and some in the right-wing media, Sen. Grassley's guilty conscience apparently got the best of him, as he exploded in anger at Schumer.

Meanwhile, Senator Lindsey Graham seems to be playing the part of the clown on the trampoline, flipping and flopping at a moment's notice. On Friday, Graham joined Sen. McCain in a statement saying that delaying or stopping immigration reform because of the events in Boston was wrong. Graham further stated that reforming our immigration system will strengthen our nation's security systems.

On Sunday, on CNN's State of Union, Sen. Graham then proceeded to blame the FBI - who has no primary role in immigration -  for being too weak. Graham proceeded to argue that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev - the Boston bombing suspect, who IS an American citizen - should be treated like like a foreigner, as an enemy combatant, then interrogated and tried in front of a military tribunal.

We won't even talk about the insane conspiracy theories of New York's Rep. Peter King. That kind of paranoid, fear-driven nuttiness goes way beyond clowning.

It isn't just Republicans on Capitol Hill who've been clowning around lately, though.

Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, also of New York, has decided to sue Speaker John Boehner and six of his colleagues, charging that Rangel's 2010 House ethics investigation was mishandled, and that Rangel never should have been censured. Rangel seems to forget that the House vote in favor of his censure was a rousing bipartisan 333-79.

After just these few stories of failed criticisms, second-guessing, and conspiracy, it should surprise no one that we'd like to keep these epic-level clowns completely away from the Boston Marathon bombing investigation.

Thankfully, so far, it appears we're not the only ones looking for honest justice for Boston.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Crawling Out From Under The Crazies

After a week where the number and intensity of news stories kept piling higher and higher - and sadly, so did all the crazies - we're hoping today to help you crawl out from under the pile, to clear up what happened and what important details you might have missed.

There were a number of other stories last week that on any other news week might have dominated the headlines. Take the Republican Party officially dumping Mark "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" Sanford during his race for Congress in South Carolina, or Chicago's Mayor Rahm Immanuel hightailing it to DC while his city experienced serious flooding. In the past, similar stories of political stupidity have held the public's attention with ease for multiple news cycles.

You also might have missed last week's raucous public hearing on the Keystone pipeline in Nebraska, or the awarding of a Pulitzer Prize for journalism to a group of environmental writers for their hard-hitting honest work about the pipeline's disastrous effects. Ironically, both the hearing and the award happened within the same week as Earth Day (which is today) and just before the third anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

We haven't even gotten to the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, or the massive earthquake in China. Both of those stories got short shrift in the media last week. Of course, there were also the ridiculous votes on gun safety in Congress and the events in Boston, which dominated the news.

The biggest, single unanswered question after last week's avalanche of news is, did we, as a nation, learn anything from these events? It isn't the only unanswered question Americans are facing after last week, though.

From the events in Boston, have we learned how America, as a whole, reacts to the accused bombers as being white, legal immigrants, who were bad at practicing their religion, and denounced by members of their own family? So far, it doesn't appear that way.

Have we learned about the importance of strong, live, local media - and ethical, professional national media - as legitimate sources for honest facts? Or are we ok with some of the least ethical corporatists in history purchasing some of our nation's larger media outlets, and turning them into even more propaganda-spewing monstrosities?

Have those same media outlets that performed so well during last week's confusion helped us to understand why Miranda rights are important to all Americans, including the Boston bombing suspect - or what the public safety exception even is? If they did explain, could you even get to their explanations - or is their work locked up behind a paywall, for only a shrinking few to see, hear, and read?

Why is it that an area of China that experienced 70,000 deaths due to a similar massive earthquake 5 years ago, only had around 200 deaths this time? Meanwhile, in West, Texas, after a fertilizer plant had gone 28 years without a proper federal inspection, 14 are now dead, scores are injured, and a town's main source of income is gone. Comparing the events in China and Texas, maybe there's something to be said about government codes and regulations saving lives after all.

Whatever challenges our nation and world face this week, we have no doubt Americans can face them well and mostly united, if the positive lessons from last week are truly and honestly applied. Of course, as we noted, the bigger question is: Did America learn anything from last week's events?

We'll all find out soon enough what lessons - if any - Americans pulled from the pile of crazies last week.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Funday: Bow To The Professionals

Since today is the end of the week - a very long week from our perspective in the media - we're not diving deeply into a topic today. After a week filled with bombings, explosions, poisoned letters, shootings, unprofessional media conduct, and a penultimate example of what bootlickers our members of Congress have become, we think everyone could use a little break from heavy news.

There is some good news, though.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, the FBI announced they have two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. They released the only official photos and video of the suspects, and have asked the nation - and the world, really - to help them join in the hunt for the perpetrators.

Overnight, in the early hours of Friday morning, that hunt found the two bombing suspects, with some amazing & scary consequences, including the death of one of the two bombing suspects.

The kind of action the FBI took is known these days as "crowdsourcing" - a way to ask the thousands or even millions of people that a person, group, or business is connected with to lend a hand at completing a task.

Think of it like a digital age barn raising.

It's part of how the authorities were able to catch the individual responsible for the ricin-tainted letters to members of Congress and the White House this week. It's also how some online pricing tools these days, like GasBuddy.com work.

Of course, crowd sourcing can be used to promote something positive too. Think of how Nebraska Cornhusker football fans helped seven-year-old Jack Hoffman's one great moment become an internet sensation in the last two weeks. Not only has Jack appeared as the top subject on ESPN's Sportscenter, but the young Mr. Hoffman is also getting his own Husker football trading card this year.

Crowd sourcing has also been used as a tool to promote political causes, as both the supporters and opponents to the Keystone pipeline did at a raucous hearing in Grand Island on Thursday.

We won't deny that crowdsourcing, when not managed well, can end up in results like those The New York Post generated yesterday morning. That was when the Post once again proved how incompetent they are at journalism, when they published the pictures of two young men on their front page, and implied the two men were the FBI's suspects in the Boston bombings. Turns out they weren't.

The fact is, there have been a large number of examples this week of why some tasks should be left up to the professionals, while others can be handled well by amateurs.

To all those professionals this week, in fields like media and journalism, or law enforcement and emergency management, who made America look good, and helped guide the nation through a very rough week, we send our deepest, most respectful thanks and gratitude.

Enjoy your time off this weekend, everyone.

You've earned it after this week. We have too.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Liars, Frauds, And Failure

Between the ricin letters scare, the massively muddled message about a Boston bombing suspect, and all the other media madness on Wednesday - and before the fertilizer plant explosion in Waco, Texas -  there were also two very important bills working their way through two different legislative bodies that both failed to reach the next level.

One bill failed in Washington, DC. The other failed in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Sadly, the reasons for failure in both cases weren't magic or voodoo. In fact, it might have been easier if that was why they both failed.

In Washington, the Senate voted on seven of nine pieces of gun safety legislation, before Senator Harry Reid pulled the bill off the Senate calendar for the foreseeable future. In five of the seven votes, the majority of Senators voted for gun safety legislation actions like the Manchin-Toomey background check amendment. They also were in favor of the bipartisan federal gun trafficking amendment, and the concealed carry expansion amendment. All seven votes technically ended in failure thanks to both the arcane rules of the Senate, and the decisions of the gutless Sen. Reid, who never reformed the Senate filibuster, as he'd pledged and promised to do before the 2013 Senate session. That 46 Senators can give a crushing defeat to ideas supported by 90% of America is maddening, frustrating, and ridiculous.

If it sounds like we were mad about the votes in the Senate, our anger is nothing compared to that of some of the Newtown parents, who watched this cowardly display of political selfishness and fear from the Senate gallery. Some of those affected by gun violence even yelled "Shame on you" at the Senators, before being escorted out of the gallery. President Obama was as angry as we've ever seen him, in a post-vote speech from the White House, when he condemned the Senate's actions as a "shameful day for Washington."

Back in Nebraska, common sense didn't fare any better.

After two long, heated days of debate in the Nebraska Legislature - 10 hours and 20 minutes, total - the bill to expand Medicaid services for Nebraskans as part of the Affordable Care Act was tabled and removed from the legislature's agenda. Just like in the U.S. Senate, while supporters of the Nebraska bill had a solid majority in the Unicameral, they could not override a filibuster driven by Republican Governor Dave Heineman.

The stupidity, ignorance, fear, partisanship, and lies needed to thwart fiscally and socially responsible legislation in both Lincoln and DC on Wednesday is worse than shameful. It is an indictment of our entire political system in America.

While President Obama was only speaking about the failure in DC Wednesday afternoon, his words rang true for both examples of legislative incompetence.

"I've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory.  And my question is, a victory for who?  A victory for what?" he said. "Victory for not doing something that… the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done? It begs the question, who are we here to represent?"

That is exactly the question we hope EVERY American asks themselves as they evaluate these craven, selfish legislators in 2014 and 2016.  We can guarantee that we'll be reminding the voters before each of those elections that legislators in both Nebraska and Washington were too beholden to the lobbyists, and too worried about their own jobs to properly represent the people who elected them.

No crystal ball will be needed to see the professional and personal losses coming for those who refused to do anything but prove their own ethical ineptitude.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Cost Of An Unethical Media

Just as spring eventually follows winter, and water inexorably flows downhill, so too do does hatred inevitably ooze out of the extremists in the media in the days and hours after an event like what happened during the Boston Marathon on Monday.

In fact, it's part of the reason we specifically noted the positive ethical behavior of so many in the media in Tuesday's commentary - as a contrast to the commentary we were certain we'd be writing today.

The near total lack of journalistic ethics from The New York Post in covering the events in Boston - lampooned with precision on Tuesday, in the satirical newspaper The Onion - was bad enough. With its obvious paean to the theory that more blood in the streets sells more copies and tweets, the Post's inaccurate and unethical coverage of the Boston bombing continued to live down to its ever-sinking reputation.

However, even the 'barely good enough for fish wrap' New York Post couldn't steal the sensationalism spotlight from the blood-soaked rats of the radio and TV world. Within hours after the carnage in Boston, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, and Alex Jones - three names rarely worth mentioning - were all doing their best (or worst) to spread fear about the events in Boston.

Jones followed the lead of the Fox-aligned New York Post, pushing the right-wing conspiracy theory that the Boston explosions must have been the work of Muslims. Beck was a bit more subtle, insisting "Middle Eastern" terrorists had to be behind the explosions, because “when our crazies go off [meaning Americans], they target the government."

O'Reilly grudgingly gave President Obama a compliment, by saying the President "will get to the bottom" of the disaster in Boston. Then O'Reilly blew past the broadcast version of Godwin's Law, saying this one-off incident was a well thought out military campaign, like what the Nazis did.

For all those media executives who think there's no cost to themselves as they greedily count the money they earn from supporting those like Jones, Beck, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and the rest of the right-wing hate machine, the bursting of the fear bubble in gold prices may be just what the rest of society has needed.

Felix Salmon of Reuters pointed out Tuesday, as the facts of the market catch up to the kinds of paranoid investors that support Jones, Beck, and their ilk, the fear bubble in gold as an investment appears to be popping in world markets. This serves a sharp warning that investing in fear can be just as risky - and cost just as much - as investing in greed-fueled speculation.

Further, after the Boston explosions, both U.S. right-wing militia groups and the Taliban said they weren't behind the bombs. It's not the first time these two groups of extremists have stood together. [Sidenote - Both the militia groups and the Taliban stand with the NRA, against the background check bill coming up for a tough vote in the Senate today at 4 PM, Eastern.] Still, with both groups insisting it wasn't them, and a world of video and audio proof supporting their assertions, as Dave Weigel notes, the conspiracy theorists may have a tough time making anything more out of the events in Boston.

It's worth noting that not all the extremist rhetoric comes from the political right - though it's also key to point out that no left-leaning media organization is bankrolled or sells out the way right-wing media organizations do.

The fact is, the cost to our American society of a media environment dominated by hate speech on the radio, propaganda on TV, and lies in digital and physical print is far more than just a number in terms of dollars and cents.

It's a loss of the sense of who we are, as a nation, as Americans, and as human beings, that won't ever show up on some balance sheet somewhere. That was clear in the Constitution Project's report, that proved America engaged in torture after 9/11, under President Bush, while the media mostly watched and did nothing. It's even more clear as certain members of Congress still think ethical and constitutional behavior is optional.

Thankfully, as the positive actions of so many people - around the nation and around the world - have shown in the wake of this latest tragedy, not everyone has sold out their basic human decency for a few blood-soaked moments in the media spotlight.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Ethical Media Marathon

The story that will dominate the news and other discussion in the media today, and maybe even all week, will obviously be the aftermath from the explosions in Boston.

All the discussions of potential deals on Capitol Hill, on immigration reform, on the budget battles, and of course, on the gun-crazy fanatics effectively using the Second Amendment to hold the rest of the nation hostage were temporarily put on hold. All of these fall by the wayside when our nation experiences an event like what happened yesterday on Boylston Street, at the end of the Boston Marathon.

If it seems like we're choosing our words carefully today, that's because we are, as the best members of media and journalism should always do - especially at a time like this.

To our great dismay, more than a few members of the media revealed themselves on Monday to be the "ratings first, facts last" failures of quality journalism that have sadly become all-too-common during crisis events. From The New York Post who drastically elevated the toll of the dead and made false claims about a Muslim suspect, to Fox contributor Eric Rush's tweet saying we should 'kill all Muslims' as a response to Boston, to Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post who called the explosions in Boston a "local crime story," there were plenty of embarrassments to our profession on display on Monday.

There were also some shining examples in the media of worthy of praise.

One in particular we want to single out is Ana Marie Cox, a journalist who is - like the rest of our staff - originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. Ana Marie did exactly the right thing during the crisis. She sifted through the information, tweeted and posted judiciously, and passed along plenty of helpful information. When she reposted something less than excellent, she made her mistake clear, and retracted that post - but in general, Ana Marie exemplified what many in our profession who weren't on immediate deadline should have been doing on Monday.

One of the key actions Ana Marie took as the chaos unfolded was simple and effective: Repeatedly reminding other members of the media, through Twitter, with her own messages and retweets of others,  to be responsible, ethical, and accurate in their reporting. Other members of the media who followed Ana Marie's lead include Greg Sargent, Adam Serwer, James Downie, Benjy Sarlin, and even one of our own staff members. The repeated reminders to other members of the media to check their sources, to make sure they weren't communicating rumors, and to check and recheck what they were reporting was key, in our opinion, in helping to reign in the cacophony of rumors, lies, and misinformation.

All of the responsible journalism on Monday encompasses a set of actions those of us who were part of it should be proud of. Like a marathon runner's past miles though, those actions are all behind us.

Today, many of our colleagues in the media will be attempting to run the next leg of their career-long race. They will attempt to fill the voracious news hunger of the American populace, desperate to know what exactly happened in Boston, why it happened, and who is responsible. There will be far too much speculation, and there will be far too many versions of the same questions repeated in pointless attempts to answer those queries for which no one yet has any answers.

We won't be asking those kinds of questions today - and the best members of our profession won't be asking those questions either.

What we will be doing is trying to pick up our pace again, to get back to running our own professional, lifelong marathon - to do justice to our craft in words and images, to spur others to do their best, and to shame the worst of our colleagues to change their unprofessional ways.

There are other stories that need covering too, that are still waiting for all of us today. Stories on immigration, on Congress slipping repeals by while the nation looked elsewhere, on the battle for gun reform, and on many other topics, still need telling on the long journey ahead.

The key to winning this race isn't about getting to a story first. It's about navigating the terrain of the story properly, and better than anyone else - another lesson too many in the media have yet to learn from marathon runners.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Death - But Maybe Not Taxes

We certainly won't be the first ones today to remind you of the old axiom that nothing is certain in life but death and taxes - though we may be the first ones to tell you that between the two, we tend to favor the Angel of Darkness.

The fact is, though, while every mortal being on Earth eventually dies, not everyone pays taxes anymore. We imagine that makes the Grim Reaper more than a bit jealous - and maybe even a bit afraid - of the legions of American corporate tax cheats, who are undoubtedly smiling at the pain of the "little people" who actually pay their taxes - primarily honest American workers

The fact is, whether you're a corporation or a person - or a person wealthy enough to hide behind the legal fabrications of being a corporation - that can make a huge difference on whether you pay taxes or not. As one of the latest studies from Citizens for Tax Justice proves, corporations from Fed Ex, to Pepco Electric to Southwest Airlines will be paying less than you will in taxes for 2012. Most of them will even be getting a handsome tax return for their creative manipulation of the tax code.

As journalist Sam Pizzigatti notes, once upon a time, all corporations in America paid taxes, way back in the heyday of the 1950s. For all the dreamy, longing talk of the race-divided, socially cloistered 1950s that Republicans continue to slobber about, the one thing we never hear any corporate-loving Republican discuss is the tax rates of the 1950s, which were significantly more effective in some ways than they are today.

Instead, you're far more likely to hear the false propaganda of right-wing shills like Mattie Duppler, who this weekend wormed her way onto 'Up with Steve Kornacki.' Right-wing hacks like Duppler are a dime a dozen, and inevitably always blame America's current tax problem on the false idea that too many of our tax dollars are being spent in ways they disagree with by someone they don't like. Currently, and for several years now, their target of blame has been President Obama.

For the record, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to NPR, and everyone in between - including our friend Rick Ungar at Forbes - have proven continually and repeatedly that the smallest government spender since Eisenhower is President Barack Obama. That of course completely disproves all the hacks like Duppler - a shill for the long-ago discredited anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist - who insist Obama is spending too much - which, in fact, he's not.

The real problem is that federal tax revenues are still at historically low levels - meaning the government is missing out on collecting some serious revenues.

We all know how some of America's wealthiest individuals - like former GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney - avoid paying taxes, by stuffing them in offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands. Some corporations also use that route, among other strategies.

Pulitzer Prize-winning economic journalist David Cay Johnston notes that's not the only way the corporations in America get out of paying their fair share. Corporations manipulate the tax code in any way they can, even effectively stealing tax money from their employees in 21 states and pocketing the cash, while screwing both the states and their workers.

The long and short of our American tax problem is that in the long run, America will have to lower some of our government spending. In the short term however, the federal and state governments need to stop allowing corporations to steal, lie, and cheat their way out of paying their fair share of taxes. If the corporations won't stop their unethical and dishonest behavior, then the corporations need to have their own government-enforced meetings with the Grim Reaper.

If the choice given to those stealing from public trusts for their own private benefit truly was death or paying one's taxes, we have a feeling the old cloaked one would be a bit less jealous of the tax man - and that would be just fine with us.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Funday: Empathy And Praise

While there is still plenty to discuss and debate about President Obama's 2014 budget proposal, the immigration issue, the gun safety bills, and even a scientist who claims to have invented time travel, as we do on most Fridays, we're going to pull our focus away from the mechanics and analysis of politics, to something a bit lighter today - which frankly, is leading our thoughts to turn to vacation.

The next Federal holiday in the U.S. isn't even until the end of May, and our staff still has plenty of work and more than a few days of travel scheduled between now and then. We do have a day or two off tentatively set on the calendar - though we hope we don't end up spending those days sitting in an airport.

A couple of our professional colleagues this week ran into travel issues, and we have to empathize with both them and travel workers across the nation. Both groups of people were faced with the fallout from this week's ugly storms that dropped snow throughout the Midwest, even closing Interstate 80 in Nebraska - three weeks into spring. If you think your job is hard, imagine being a ticket counter agent for an airline during a freak storm like that.

Those patient airline workers, and a few other unique people this week, have earned special praise from us for going the extra mile in difficult situations.

First, we feel that we - and the entire nation - need to thank the parents and family members of the victims of the 12/14 shootings in Connecticut. They have worked tirelessly to keep reminding members of Congress, as well as members of their own state legislature, that more can and should be done by our elected officials to make our gun-filled culture safer. Their fight is far from done, though they did win a key battle this week in the Senate. Hopefully, our Senators will do the right thing, and rapidly pass the background check bill in front of them.

We also have to give praise to Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Sherrod Brown, former FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair, and the federal regulators behind the latest wild foreclosure news. Senator Warren, out of the media spotlight this week, tore into Federal banking regulators for not doing their jobs, while Bair very publicly made it clear that banks may be no longer "too big to fail." The federal regulators who've continued digging into the housing crisis long after most Americans thought it was over also earn some praise from us today. They revealed this week that nearly 1.2 million borrowers whose properties were foreclosed on during 2009 and 2010 should never have been victimized by some of the biggest banks in the nation - banks that will now have to answer for their crimes.

Speaking of crimes, Sen. Mitch McConnell continues trying to divert attention from the true crime that may have happened in his office recently. Thankfully the group 'Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington' didn't fall for his media blather. Instead, they've filed an official Senate Ethics committee complaint on McConnell, who now has to explain why his staffers - paid by taxpayers - were illegally working on McConnell's reelection campaign, during their professional, Congressional workday.

Finally, even though baseball season is finally here, we have to give some praise to the NHL, who announced their support this week for gay rights. The league has pledged to fight homophobia with new programs focusing on both players and fans. Hopefully, the NHL's actions towards acceptance and equality may soon spread to other major pro sports leagues. We know that action has made us even more psyched to watch the Chicago Blackhawks game this weekend.

Whatever you do to relax this weekend, we're very glad we have a couple days off to rest and recharge. We sincerely hope you do too.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Evolution Of Ideas

As we continue to dig into the details of the budget President Obama and the White House presented on Wednesday, and the Senate gets ready to vote today on the gun safety reforms we've discussed earlier this week, we think it's healthy and important to focus on a few debates about political evolution going on right now, about principle and compromise.

On the left, this debate is boiling to the top because of President Obama's budget, and the President's longstanding claims that some earned benefits - like Medicare - may have to be trimmed. Liberals insist there be ZERO cutting of any kind. Progressives are leaving wiggle room - for a reason.

On the right, the battle between compromise and principle has simply widened what has already been an intraparty civil war. From the Hastert Rule "violations" by Speaker Boehner, to a Tea Party activist in Oklahoma blackmailing a Republican state senator, to the paranoid accusations by Mitch McConnell of what is likely one of his own staffers recording a political strategy session, right-leaning moderates and conservatives hate each other almost as much as they hate anyone on the left.

The hostility in both cases comes, in part, from each side being a bit unfamiliar with its current body politic, like a teenager going through a growth spurt.

On the right, the same exact hate speech has been used and reused as the primary political motivating tool for over a century, as though evolution was something unnecessary for conservatives to achieve. Some members of the Republican Party finally appear to be starting to abandon that method of motivation, as it's only yielding progressively diminished returns, on issues from same sex marriage, to immigration reform, to gun safety laws, and more.

The left has seemingly already evolved, to a degree, though its two main factions still aren't quite speaking the same language.

Ed Kilgore And Jonathan Bernstein's discussion in Washington Monthly and Salon of what's wrong with the GOP is a perfect example of this speaking in two different tongues.

The discussion about what President Obama's true goals are in his budget is another.

On the farther, more liberal left, well known bloggers like Heather "Digby" Parton and cartoonists like Herblock Award-winning Tom Tomorrow, as well as former labor Secretary Robert Reich don't entirely trust that President Obama isn't going to sell out the middle class on earned benefits issues like Medicare.

Well known political wonks like Greg Sargent, Ezra Klein, and Michael Tomasky tend to see the same thing we do: That President Obama is playing politics with his budget plan, fully well-aware that even though Obama's basically given Republicans in Congress everything they want, they still will not be able to get a deal with him, because of their extremist bretheren.

Since Obama and the more centrist progressive Democrats can't get a policy win, they're using this opportunity to broadly show the world exactly where the blockage is in Washington, DC - with the obstructionist Republicans in the House - so the Dems can claim a political victory in the House in 2014. Then, President Obama may be able to actually govern again, as he did during his first two years in office.

We're not sure which side will evolve, politically, before the other one does, though we certainly favor one side.

We are certain of this: Whichever side evolves first, and learns to control itself, and communicate effectively will likely win solid majorities, at all levels, for many election cycles to come.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Drawing The Fire Of Fools

For all the discussion of the gun safety reform bill fighting its way through the hostile lobbyist fire of the extremist Republicans on Capitol Hill, several other issues also seem to be pushing their way to the front of the media space this week.

From an oddly timed audio leak from the office of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and juvenile yet scientific stories about sexual organs, to the more serious stories of how Wall Street banks cheated millions of homeowners and President Obama's controversial budget plan, it seems more than a few of our colleagues in the media don't have the professional fortitude to tackle the single biggest topic of the week.

Thankfully, our staff and some of our more ethical colleagues in the media haven't taken our eyes off that target, the topic of effective gun legislation reforms, on a national level.

Like a child running with a fluttering kite, the very real possibility of effective gun safety legislation being enacted hasn't just drawn the eye of most Americans who are sick and tired of lax and dangerous gun laws, while supporting items like universal background checks. The opportunity to update and revise gun laws to actually be more effective - as they already have been in New York, Colorado, Connecticut, and Maryland - has also drawn the fire and the fear of the gun manufacturers' lobbyists.

For once, it appears a growing number of Congresspersons, on both sides of the aisle, are finally finding the courage to stand up for what 90% of the American public wants.

Surprisingly, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid - who lately has shown an amazing lack of courage when performing his job - stepped up and filed the Senate paperwork forcing debate and possible votes on the gun reform bills in the Senate, this Thursday.

As of Wednesday morning, the attempt by Republicans like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Mitch McConnell to filibuster and block even the discussion of those bills appears to be falling flat on its face. Not only have Democrats stepped up to demand Senators in Congress actually debate the gun reform legislation, but Republicans have joined their Democratic colleagues in demanding the end to threats of a spineless filibuster from extremist Republicans.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator Pat Toomey appear to have found a compromise on the issue of universal background checks, that they seem to think could pass the Senate, and maybe even the House.

One more state is even loudly moving forward on its own gun control legislation, Rhode Island, led by former Republican-turned Independent, Governor Lincoln Chaffee.

For all those in the media who've said more times than we can remember since the horrible shootings of 12/14, that the effort to enact sensible, effective, gun reforms was dead, we want to remind you of two things that certain ethical members of the media have championed all along - including us.

First, that the primary goal in the battle for sensible gun safety reform has NEVER been to renew the federal assault weapons ban, but rather - as Greg Sargent has diligently noted almost daily for months - the real goal has always been to enact an effective universal background check system.

Secondly, we remind everyone - this battle isn't over by a long shot. No matter what happens in Congress this week, no matter what you hear on cable TV and talk radio, this fight still won't be over anytime soon.

Don't get distracted.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Time For A Cattle Prod

Today, if it sounds like we're pretty damn fed up with the Republican Party, and specifically, the Republicans in Congress, you'd be right. Of course, if you think it's just Republicans we're angry at, you'd be wrong.

Today, for the first time in two weeks, both the House and Senate are returning to Capitol Hill, in theory to get some work done. One of the most important issues they have sitting before them currently happens to be a package of gun safety reform laws, including universal background checks, reduced capacity magazines, and an assault weapons ban.

The gutless cowards of the gun manufacturers' lobby - including both the NRA and the mislabeled "Gun Owners Of America" lawyer group -  have done everything they can to try to delay serious consideration of new gun safety reforms. As E.J. Dionne noted in Monday's Washington Post, even though a record 91% of Americans support universal background checks, and majorities support ideas like reduced capacity magazines, the law firms - which is what lobbying groups are - that represent the companies that make guns have taken to leading Congress around again by the nose.

On issues from guns, to immigration, to job creation, real Americans of all kinds want one thing - and corporate executives want another.

This is extremely obvious in the gun reform debate, where the coward from Oklahoma, Republican Senator Tom Coburn, has recently been pushed around by the gun manufacturer's group. Coburn went from supporting common sense reform that even his conservative Okalahoma residents support, to a bevy of excuses about why he suddenly can't support gun rational gun laws.

This isn't just about Republicans, however.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has had so many chances to reform the filibuster system that now holds him - and America - hostage on these issues, we're beginning to wonder if he too isn't just another bought and paid-for political lackey of the multi-billion dollar gun makers.

As Republican Senator Rand Paul and his group of extremists, including the always milksop Sen. Mitch McConnell, attempt to stop even a single vote on gun reform bills - bills that Paul, McConnell, and their gang have yet to even read - we join with the attitude President Obama displayed on Monday in Connecticut, at a rally for voters to get Congress moving.

"Connecticut has shown the way," on gun reform, President Obama said angrily. "And now is the time for Congress to do the same."

This is not about the President. This is not about party politics. This is about doing something nine of every ten Americans want. The only thing that might stop Americans  right now is the nearly unlimited corporate-backed dark money "feedbags", that DC lawyers are using to stop Congress in its tracks.

It's time American voters stopped being nice, and got out the cattle prods on both sides of the aisle.

If you want background checks? Call Congress, today. The switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Ask for your Senator or Congress person. If you'd rather send them a tersely worded letter? USA.gov has a handy list of the e-mail and postal mail addresses of every member of Congress.

If you don't think members of Congress get scared when they see piles of notes, messages, and letters coming their way, from angry constituents? They do - almost more than when the rich lawyer lobbyists take the moneybags away.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Blame Yourself

While the temperamental season of spring appears to have finally come to most of the United States, over the weekend, we still noticed plenty of people still huddling inside barber shops, beauty salons, bars, and coffee houses, talking about the Husker Spring Game, or grousing about the stupidity in their state and federal government organizations.

We're not going to disagree about there being some amazingly stupid legislators at the state levels, in every U.S. state and territory, from Alaska and Guam, to Maine and Puerto Rico, and everywhere in between. There's been an amazing number of idiotic state government actions so far this year - even just in the last ten days.

For example, a Republican state Senator in Nebraska wants to allow legally concealed weapons to be carried inside the state capitol - which is already fully protected by armed and trained members of the Nebraska State Patrol. In the face of a wave of growing right-wing violence in states like Texas and Colorado, putting more guns in the untrained hands of those whose primary job is not law enforcement, but rather law making, seems just plain stupid.

In North Carolina, lawmakers last week were attempting to establish an official state religion, while state legislators in Tennessee want to punish the families of those receiving state aid by reducing that aid if the children of those desperately poor parents happen to perform badly in school.

In Kansas, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Alabama, state legislators there have all passed or are about to pass laws that effectively outlaw the fully legal practice of abortion - as if those states had more authority than the Federal government to re-decide previously settled Federal law. It may be news to the ill-informed idiots in those statehouses, but nullification was decided by the Civil War - and the pro-nullification side lost, badly.

For all the dolts we see in Congress, the morons at the state level of government often make their DC legislative cousins look like absolute amateurs in a contest of who can be the most stupid.

Sadly, if you're having this same discussion at the coffee shops and kitchen tables in your neighborhood, you're also probably looking at some of the people responsible for the actions of those legislators - namely you and your neighbors.

Some of the problem is certainly what we pay our state legislators, who are in most states part-timers. Twenty-five states pay less than poverty level wages for their lawmakers, so it's no surprise that lawyer-filled lobby shops prey like vultures on underpaid state legislators.

Some of the problem is also the laws we have regarding serving in government. Simple term limits don't work and the effectively worthless limitations on lobbying and campaign "dark money" corrupt government at all levels. The laws regarding campaign finance must be changed if we expect to see the power of unregulated money change. Effective media reform also must be undertaken so that the job of honestly informing the public doesn't fall so much on the shoulders of comedians and cartoonists.

That's where the other part of the pay problem comes in.

So long as we allow continue to allow income inequality to get worse in America, we will be paying an increased price in time, robbing from ourselves more and more of the ability to govern, as we work harder for less, and are able to save nothing for when (or if) we get old. Meanwhile, our inability to pay attention to our government will continue to allow the wealthiest to effectively steal part of the earnings of those who actually know how to work hard for an honest day's living.

We'll agree with the neighborhood fool at the cafe that our representatives in most states aren't exactly the brightest bulbs on the string.

Then again, we all get what we pay for - and as employers, on a state legislative level, we the people of America don't pay enough in dollars or with our time and attention to what they do.

If we, as citizens, want things to change in our government, we have to start by changing how we handle that government ourselves.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Key To Winning At Life

On Fridays, we often turn away from politics and try to tackle something lighter and more humorous. We know with heavy stuff like the ongoing tension in Korea, or the ever-worsening effects of the sequester, that's not easy. Still, personal events and anniversaries in the lives of our staff seem to make humor something a bit out of place today. That doesn't mean we can't inspire you though, just as the four people we're thinking of today have inspired us.

Much of America is lamenting over the passing of legendary film critic Roger Ebert, and we have to admit, we are too. Ebert, at 70, was still interested and willing to try new things in life, in writing, and often in the realm of technology that surprised many people a quarter of his age. We can't say we always agreed with Ebert on his movie revues, though we did agree with one element of his style.

Roger Ebert didn't fight WITH you, so much as he fought FOR you - to understand where he was coming from, and for him to understand why you didn't agree with his opinions of movies, politics, and more. That passion to want to make everyone else better is one we wish all people shared.

Another great writer America lost this week did share that passion, legendary sportswriter Stan Issacs. For those in the media who knew Issacs' work, there was often a sense of two minds about his work, especially for those hard-core sports media junkies. When talking about the best sportswriters, we've often heard Issacs' work derided as not "pure" enough, or too "elite", with references to pieces like his legendary David vs. Goliath postgame interview.

Of course, many of these same sportswriters would quietly admit to us later that they only wished they had half the talent Issacs did - or half of his courage. Issacs' courage wasn't as evident in his actions like swiping the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers pennant from L.A., as it was in sticking to Joseph Pulitzer's legendary ideal that news media - including sports - should "inform and enlighten." We hope our friend and media colleague Dave Zirin of The Nation doesn't think we're overreaching when we say we see hints of Issacs all over his work - and we're frankly glad for it.

Another great media talent we had the pleasure of working with also passed on this week, Matt Cooper, a radio producer and professional broadcaster few in front of the scenes knew. The best producers in media - and in life - are those people who do their jobs so well everything they touch seems to be made better simply by their presence. Matt was certainly in that class of superstar, knowing the right song, the right words of encouragement, or the right comment to make, turning every show he worked with into a first class event. His absence is as obvious to us as his presence ever was.

Our staff is also thinking this week of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who was assassinated forty-five years ago yesterday, as he fought for fair wages and benefits for impoverished workers in Memphis. Some of the lowest wage workers in the most expensive city in America - New York City - were striking on Thursday, and we have a feeling that if Dr. King were still alive, he'd have been proud to stand with those young men and women.

Each of these individuals had several traits in common that many of the most successful people in life have. None of them sold out their ethics, none of them ever stopped trying to improve, and none of them ever really quit working until death stopped them. That we're still talking about them now proves they were even able to defeat death, in a way - a victory we each hope someday we'll be worthy of achieving.

The key to winning at life that each of these four men shared was something even more simple, more honest, more pure. Each man usually did the right thing, for themselves and for others, regardless of what everyone around them said they should do - and often, in spite of what others said.

If each of us on Earth were like these four, in that regard, we think life would be a lot better for everyone.

Of course, a good movie or baseball game, with a bit of rock and roll or gospel music also would help make things better, something we think these four winners would certainly agree with.

Enjoy your weekend. Make the world better, if only by your presence.
And choose to do the right thing.

You won't regret it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Telltale Signs And The Truth

A friend of a friend has been saying for years - long before the great Maya Angelou is credited with saying it - that, "When they show you who they are, believe them."

With all of the insanity going on in the world right now, that phrase has never seemed more appropriate.

Lately, on almost any topic, both the narrative thread usually spun by those in power, and the truth behind the lies seems to be leaking out everywhere, even more than usual. Sadly, that hasn't stopped some of those in power from desperately claiming there's nothing really to see.

One obvious place to see this Orwellian duality is in the ongoing Exxon Mobil oil disaster in Arkansas. Exxon has promised to the media and the residents of Mayflower, Arkansas that they will cover the oil disaster cleanup costs. However, their past history, and a 1980 law - reasserted as still valid in a 2011 IRS memo - say that Exxon Mobil doesn't have to pay into the Federal fund to clean up disasters like this one, and Exxon Mobil's history has all the property owners in Mayflower scared to death about the future. Further, Exxon Mobil appears to have convinced the FAA to put up a "no fly zone" over Mayflower, Arkansas, overseen by the corporation, until further notice.

That could be a long time, as Rachel Maddow noted last night, when she cited the only other tar sands oil spill in America, back in July of 2010 in Michigan. Nearly two years and $765 million dollars later, cleanup continues from that Enbridge disaster in Michigan - a disaster that the company said would only take a few short months to clean up.

On a completely different topic, in the last month, the leaders of North Korea appear to have decided they'd like to threaten to go to war - nuclear war - with pretty much everyone else on the planet. Their threats late Wednesday, that they've authorized a nuclear attack on the United States, appears to have both the U.S. and China - North Korea's neighbor - a bit worried. North Korea's belligerent rhetoric, though stronger than ever, still follows the same behavioral role they've been playing against the U.S. since the end of active hostilities in the Korean War nearly fifty years ago. They push, the U.S. and other nations agree to some form of a deal, then North Korea gets the goodies from those concessions - and then North Korea begins the cycle again.

Whether it's extremist Republicans in North Carolina threatening to pass an unconstitutional law declaring an official state religion, or the legislature in Connecticut passing strong new gun safety laws, or people like President Obama and Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel taking a cut in pay in solidarity with all those Americans who will be affected by sequester furloughs, people all over America and the rest of the world are letting their true colors leak out all over the place.

Even simple, methodically tested numbers are giving up the truth more easily than they seem to have in the past. For example, in a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, it's obvious that 43 percent of Americans would support a Democratic U.S. House candidate in 2014, but only 35 percent would support a Republican candidate for the same office. However, the numbers also show that gerrymandering - effectively, cheating by changing the boundaries of congressional districts -  will make it nearly impossible for the will of the American people to be accurately reflected in the makeup of the U.S. House.

If you're looking for the truth, as we've always said, you simply have to open your eyes. Now that it seems to be leaking out everywhere, seeing the truth should be easier than ever. Seeing isn't really the problem, though.

The problem is that far too many people keep seeing the truth, yet refuse to believe.

At least we know who they really are. They keep showing us every day.