Monday, June 30, 2014

High court backs Sharia law, servitude

By voting 5-4 today in two cases against human and worker rights, the Supreme Court returns America back to sectarian and class warfare of the Dark Ages.

While the rulings may seem narrow in scope, one applies only to "closely-held corporations" and the other to home health-care workers, the effect will be broad and deep.

Since corporations are people, too, they can now deny health insurance coverage if it goes against the corporation's religion. Of course, the real religion of any self-respecting corporation is greed, but now they have free rein to discriminate against anyone based on whatever religion they choose.

Now, some dim-bulb Christians out there believe that this only applies to Christianity.

However, Islamic business owners can now enforce Sharia law and Scientology business owners can enforce their "religion"  on their employees and patrons. And, discrimination against homesexuals has just been sanctioned.

Isn't that special, as the Church Lady would say.

Of course, the Supreme Court is dominated by men as are almost all religions.

And religions, historically, have suppressed the rights, if not the dignity, of women.

The "deeply religious" owners of Hobby Lobby, which is expected to open a store in Bend this year, brought the suit against the Affordable Care Act.

But, Hobby Lobby invests in the companies that produce the contraceptives that Hobby Lobby supposedly objects to. Also, Hobby Lobby sells mostly junk made in China, which mandates abortion. Yes, like many "deeply religious" folks, they are hypocrites.

I urge everyone to boycott Hobby Lobby.

Religious rights should never, ever, ever, ever, ever trump human rights. Well, news for the high court, women are humans, too, and they should be allowed to decide what's best for them.

Some say that this ruling means we shouldn't depend on employers to provide health insurance. But, if we have Medicare for all Americans, corporations like Hobby Lobby will then refuse to pay taxes that support Medicare, based on this ruling today.

As for the anti-union ruling, the Supreme Court did not apply this decision to public-employee unions, but those challenges will come quickly.

The corporate war on workers is so successful that just over 11 percent of American workers belong to a union. Because of that victory, the middle class, which built American prosperity, is disappearing quickly.

And, since this case involved home-health care workers, who are predominantly women, this ruling was another attack against women. No wonder Republicans cheered both rulings.

As workers opt out of paying union dues, the unions themselves will die out.

When unions cease to exist, we can see the minimum wage eventually extended to all hourly workers.

This is the goal of corporate America. They're telling American workers that if you want those jobs we shipped to China, Vietnam or Mexico, then you have to be paid what they are paid.

With these rulings, it is obvious that we desperately need more female than male justices on the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Boehner crying sue-y

As teabaggers pray for deliverance from the "imperial" president, the "weeper" of the House finally claims to hear their pain.

Yes, John Boehner (R-Ohio), plans on suing President Obama over his "misuse" of "executive orders." Such a lawsuit would be a first for Congress.

For those who drool at any tidbit from Fox News or hate radio, they are certain that President Obama has issued more executive orders than any other president in history.

It is true that President Obama has issued far more executive orders than any African-American president in our history.

Yet, when compared with presidents who were not African-American, he is somewhat of a laggard.

The Brookings Institution, a liberal think-tank, reported in January that President Obama has been issuing executive orders at the slowest rate since Grover Cleveland, who was president in the 1800s.

In fact, President Obama has issued only 171 such orders so far. Meanwhile, W. issued 291 and Reagan did 381.

It would take a lot of executive ordering for President Obama to even reach W.'s level.

But, facts don't really matter anymore.

Conservative white Americans are desperate to get that black man out of the White House.

They'll stoop to anything.

Hopefully, this is their low point.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

'Chinatown' at 40

'Either you bring the water to L.A.,
or you bring L.A. to the water'
It seems like yesterday when I saw "Chinatown" for the first time in Westwood, where a huge copy of the poster (at right) was painted on the side of the theater.

I knew then, as did most of my college friends, that it was a classic movie, one that would surely stand the test of time.

Forty years on and I still feel the same way about it.

"Chinatown" is not only a great detective mystery film with impeccable art direction. It's not only a master work from one of the more controversial directors in history. It not only has the best acting of the stars' careers. It not only has memorable dialogue and a haunting musical score.

"Chinatown" also has one of the best scripts ever written, about something that matters.

And that issue is water. And the power that ensues from it. And the venality that follows.

In 2014, California faces a critical time of dwindling water resources combined with increased demands on that most essential element of life. 

As screenwriter Robert Towne said, "Why not do a picture about a crime that's right in front of everybody. Instead of a jewel-encrusted falcon, make it something as prevalent as water faucets."

"Chinatown" worked so well then and does so now because it showed how corruption, evil men and greed combined to control the destiny of a city and a state.

It could be any city or any state.

Bend has its OSU-Pumice Pit fiasco, which is being guided by the greedy hands of a few players.

Anywhere in America, you can find examples of how a few, rich men can control how and where a city, a state or the nation grows.

Few films have done so well in all those style categories listed above as "Chinatown."

It's beautiful to watch, to listen to and to feel.

The film is as much about multiple crimes as it is about what we've lost in the pursuit of "progress."

While still in college, I got a copy of the original poster, screenplay and vinyl soundtrack.

Yet, I'm nowhere near as obsessed as others about "Chinatown."

Here's another appreciation of the film that shows what a fetish "Chinatown" is to some people.

Also, check out this link to read how Towne was inspired to write about L.A.'s water issues by reading a book he checked out at the University of Oregon.

Forty years later, though, the line by Noah Cross to J.J. Gittes says as much now as it did then: "You may think you know what you're dealing with, but, believe me, you don't."

Just when you think you've got it figured out, you sense that it's much worse than you could possibly imagine.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

1914 not so different from 2014

Trench warfare that accomplished little for four years
In catching up with the history of World War I as the 100th anniversary kicks off June 28, it's apparent the mindset that produced that catastrophe is alive and well today.

In reading Christopher Clark's "The Sleepwalkers," a passage about the reasoning to assassinate the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne stood out.

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who looked down on the Serbs, was apparently a reform-minded monarch who wanted to assign more autonomy to the Slavic lands such as Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia, after the controversial annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary in 1908.

Many of the Serbian terrorists "recognized this idea as a potentially catastrophic threat to the reunificationist project."

"The targeting of the archduke thus exemplified one abiding strand in the logic of terrorist movements, namely that reformers and moderates are more to be feared than outright enemies and hardliners."

Sound familiar?

Also, in 1910, a Serbian terrorist tried to assassinate the Austrian governor of Bosnia, in Sarajevo no less. He fired five shots, but they all missed. The Serbian then used his last shot to kill himself. For this, a statue was built in his honor and he's still considered a national hero for failing so spectacularly and then committing suicide. 

Fortunately, they didn't have suicide vests back then.

What's striking about the cauldron of the Balkans where WWI began, is that it mattered little in the overall scheme of things then and matters even less now. Afterall, much of the war was waged far from the Balkans in Belgium and northern France.

Yet, the uneasy peace between Bosnia and Serbia brokered in 1995 after the "ethnic cleansing" committed by Serbs and Croats against Bosnian Muslims in their 1992-1995 war, is as fragile as ever.

This area of the world has been in constant conflict for centuries and there is no sign that it won't flare up again. Maybe, Serbia is waiting for the Ukrainian crisis to boil over before making another move. There is always some score to settle in the Balkans.

Serbia still pines after Kosovo, which has suffered eight major conflicts since 1369. It was the Battle of Kosovo Field in June 1389, when the Serbs were routed by the Turks, that is considered one of the most important dates in Serbian history and was cited as justification for Serbia's invasion of Kosovo in 1999.

Good grief. Serbia is still living in the Dark Ages.

Most of the blame for the problems in the Balkans before World War I belong to the Serbs, who had this notion that they needed to govern all Serbs in neighboring states. They were involved in two Balkan wars in 1912 and 1913 that set the table for the really, big show.

Anyway, if point A is the assassination of the archduke in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, how did the world get so quickly to point B, which is the Great War, beginning July 28, 1914, between the Triple Entente (Britain, France, Russia) and the Central Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary)?

It's complicated.

Here is a link to a thumbnail sketch that shows Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, which prompted Russia to defend Serbia. Since Germany was allied with Austria-Hungary, it declared war on Russia. France was aligned with Russia and declared war on Germany. Then, Britain, with her colonies and dominions who were all allied with France, declared war on Germany as well. Because of its military agreement with Britan, Japan also declared war on Germany. Italy, aligned with the Central Alliance before the war, finally joined the fray in 1915 on the side of Triple Entente.

The U.S. wouldn't get dragged into it until 1917. In the 17 months that America fought in Europe, it lost nearly 117,000 men.

In essence, the world's dominant powers were playing Risk for real. It was a game for many of the leaders of that era who exploited nationalism and patriotism to horrible consequences.

The Industrial Revolution ushered in many amazing things including more effective ways to kill more people more quickly. Poison gas was just one of the many new ways to die.

The result was about 9.7 million combat deaths, another 21 million or so seriously injured and about 6.8 million civilians killed.  Serbia, for starting the war, lost almost 20 percent of its population.

Four imperial empires ceased to exist: Russian, Austro-Hungarian, German and Ottoman.

And, it was all merely a prelude, of course, to the far more disastrous, truly worldwide conflict: World War II. The Greatest War?

After WWI, the map of the Middle East was redrawn by the British with little thought about the separate realities of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds.

The chickens have now come home to roost.

In 2014, the Middle East continues to be a thorn in the world's backside much like the Balkans remain today.

There have been a number of conflicts for decades in the region between Israel and its Arab neighbors and now between Muslims themselves.

Iraq's civil war was inevitable, even if the U.S. military stayed there for a thousand years.

Does anyone really care about the bloodletting between Sunnis and Shiites? Or between Syrians?

Unlike the Balkans, there is oil in Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia that underpins the reason why this god-forsaken area matters to anyone outside the region. Plus, Israel is our unofficial 51st state.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by Saudi Arabian nationals belonging to al Qaeda, led to the escalation of instability in Middle Asia. In 2003, President Bush decided to throw gasoline on the embers smoldering in the Middle East by invading Iraq.

Will there be another Sarajevo-type event to drag the whole world into what is really just a neverending regional conflict?

If there is, it could get ugly fast.

Russia and China want to battle the U.S. for worldwide supremacy and the conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan could be the ticket to that eventual confrontation.

The difference now is that Germany and Japan now side with America, Great Britain and France.

Russia still has some scores to settle with Germany, as does China with Japan. And we owe the Saudis, who finance much of the terrorism in the region from oil they sell to us and others.

Gee, sounds like Risk all over again.

Now that we live in the nuclear age with a seemingly ceaseless supply of suicidal terrorists, we could see a war of total annihilation of many countries and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.

The human mind hasn't evolved much in the past century in spite of the changes to almost everything else in the world.

This is no time for hotheads to decide things.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Affordable housing on the west side

The main affordable housing option in Bend
The city of Bend is trying to find a way to make housing more affordable in Bend, where the median price of a home is around $300,000 and the average rent is about $1,200 a month.

Well, good luck with that.

The city wants to set aside some small acreage, all on the east side of town, for "affordable housing."

New homes built on the outer edge of the northeast side of town, the cheapest area in Bend, are starting at $300,000. Obviously, you're not going to get affordable housing in Bend. The only way to do so is to move to Redmond, Madras, Prineville or La Pine.

Or, if your income is low enough, you could qualify for a house from the Bend Area Habitat for Humanity, which has built 103 homes since 1989.

The city says nothing about affordable housing on Bend's west side, because the land there is so expensive. Also, the last thing west-siders want on their side of town is to live near the unwashed masses in an affordable housing complex.

Well, if OSU-Cascades doesn't end up building on the 10 acres it has already purchased on Bend's west side, the city could turn that land into an affordable housing complex. It would be perfect.

No need to stampede to the exits, westsiders. It's not gonna happen.

But, we are headed for another housing crash just as we are digging out of the last one.

The national median home price is about $192,000. In the west, which includes the most expensive area in the country in Silicon Valley, the median home prices is about $282,000.

Meanwhile, the median income in Bend is about $48,000, which is about $1,500 lower than the state median and nearly $4,000 below the national median.

Also, the unemployment rate in Deschutes County (8.3 percent) is higher than the state's (6.9 percent) or the nation's rate (6.3 percent).

It doesn't take math whiz or a loan officer or even a fifth grader to see that these numbers do not point to housing becoming affordable for most Bend residents.

And yet, the local daily and real estate agents/flippers are touting the "building boom" in Bend yet again.

They never learn. The love those highs of the roller coaster and forget about the pits when that coaster eventually falls at a high rate of speed.

Bend's housing "boom" is being funded by those from out of the region who have built up home equity elsewhere or made a ton of money some other way.

Bend's economy is essentially tourism, which is one of the lowest-paying fields out there. The only thing the town produces is beer and medical marijuana.

But, we do have a ton of restaurants and the requisite tattoo parlors.

We are the face of modern life where living way, way beyond one's means is the new American dream.

Friday, June 13, 2014

If you want to save Iraq, go save Iraq

Now that the predictable collapse in Iraq is occurring a little late and over budget, there is a call from the right to send someone else's son or daughter over there to clean up the mess o' potamia.

How thoughtful.

Thankfully, we have a leader who says America's options do not include sending troops over there again. It didn't go well the last time.

Of course, the only thing Americans care about, as the summer driving season heats up, is keeping the price at the pump from skyrocketing.

Well, it's rising and there is little we can do about it.

Except drive less or drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

Or, go electric.

The instability to the global economy caused by fanatical religious sects is the main reason we need to find another way to get from point A to point B and a more reliable way to heat or cool our homes.

We're not going to change the religious views of Sunnis or Shiites. Who would want to?

These groups are where Christendom was 500 years ago when Catholics were killing Protestants, along with Jews and Muslims.

The fact that the Muslims are divided and fighting amongst themselves is a relief to those who don't want them attacking us.

Someday, Muslims may unify to battle the western "infidels."

It's a fight they will not win.

Until then, if you want to save Iraq, then go over there and save Iraq. No one is stopping you.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

OSU-Pumice Pit battle: Rich vs Rich

For decades, a few power-brokers in Bend decided what was best for the city and did whatever they wanted.

They were successful in some things and attracted a few subdivisions' worth of wealthy people to Bend.

Now that the old power-brokers want to shoe-horn a four-year university on waste land next to a gated community of mostly rich residents, the battle of wallets is on.

The formal opposition, called Truth In Site, has hired a land-use lawyer and a traffic engineer who spoke out against the siting of OSU-Pumice Pit at a public hearing this week.

And, according to quotes in the daily newspaper, they were good.

Attorney Jeffrey Kleinman said, "The applicant has put the cart before the horse, and has asked everyone to wear blinders and not look at the full project."

Exactly. That's how Bend has always operated.

City staff have signed off on OSU-Cascades plan for the 10-acre parcel knowing full well that the bulk of the campus on the 46-acre pumice pit will stress the city's west-side infrastructure to the breaking point.

The traffic engineer, Rick Nys, pointed out that university's own traffic study and parking plan "don't match at all."

Also, he refuted the notion that students will walk or ride their bikes to campus, since they'll be forced to live miles from campus and our winters are not conducive to that kind of travel.

"If the area is so walkable and bikeable, why doesn't anyone do that now?" Nys was quoted in the paper. His analysis showed that only 1 percent of the current travel at a nearby roundabout is from cyclists and walkers.

The city extended comments for a second day and more opponents of the site testified.

That's all well and good, but comments from the general community, even when the majority are opposed to the west-side campus, mean nothing.

You need lawyers to gum up the approval process. And, you need money to hire a lawyer.

Which is why it so sweet to see Bend's old guard being challenged by well-heeled newcomers, who don't want to see Bend become a complete mess.

The hearings office will likely approve the permit for the 10 acres and this will be challenged in court.

It's clear from comments and letters to the editor that the overwhelming majority of Bend residents are opposed to the west-side campus and want OSU-Cascades built where it was intended and planned for: Juniper Ridge.

There is a small, vocal group of deep-pocketed supporters of this west-side campus, and they would normally win the day with ease, but now they face their counterparts who also have deep pockets.

Let the battle wage until the numbskulls at OSU-Cascades see the light and put their four-year university at Juniper Ridge where it can expand with the region.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

No. 74 and counting

By the time I finish writing this post, I wouldn't be surprised if there is another school shooting somewhere in America.

With the gun deaths at a Troutdale high school today, we're at 74 school shootings since the slaughter of first-graders in Newtown, Conn just 19 months ago. Here's the list, which does not include the murders near UC Santa Barbara since they didn't occur on campus.

As for our country's response? Well The Onion said it best after the rampage in California a couple of weeks ago: "'No Way to Prevent This,' Says Only Nation where this Regularly Happens."

That certainly proves America's "exceptionalism."

What is also exceptional about these school shootings is that they're still considered lead items on the news. They're now more commonplace than horrific bus crashes in India, which rarely even rate a two-inch story buried deep within the daily newspaper.

The gun-fetish crowd likes to blame violent video games for these school shootings, but I haven't heard of one case where a student brought in a violent video game and killed a fellow student with it.

Or, mental illness is also blamed. Yes, mental illness is a problem and dealing with it is a monumental undertaking, but the NRA makes sure that everyone, including those on the terrorist-watch list, has access to firearms.

It's our Constitutional right, which apparently supersedes any other right.

If there was no change in this country's national gun laws after the Newtown killings, there will be no changes to gun laws in this country even after 74,000 school shootings, despite the worthy efforts of such groups as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

This is who we are. We can't do any better.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The fog of war rolls in

Day of days at Omaha Beach
As the case of Bowe Bergdahl gets kicked around like a political soccer ball in a country that doesn't particularly care for soccer, one thing needs to be remembered.

This is what war wreaks.

If you don't want deserters, don't have war. If you don't want prisoners of war, don't fight a war.

If you don't want prisoner exchanges, don't take prisoners.

On the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we should take a moment to remember the horror as well as the glory of World War II.

If we don't, we do a disservice to those who fought that day.

An estimated 20,000 French civilians died during the Normandy invasion, mainly due to Allied bombing. That's what total war does. Of course, that was drop in the bucket compared to the 45 million civilians who were killed throughout the world during the war, which is three times the number of combat deaths.

In World War II, there were an estimated 50,000 Americans of the "greatest generation" who deserted in Europe alone. Clearly, one who has never faced combat should never judge those who have.

Here's a list of massacres carried out during the war.

But, these are just numbers. They don't convey the personal horrors that soldiers and civilians witnessed.

Take a trip to a concentration camp next time you go to Europe.

Stories that disturb me include the American soldier who mistakenly shot at French citizens waving at the American liberators in one small French town. He killed a mother holding the hand of her young daughter in the doorway of their home. This soldier's wife said he never got over it. How could he.

In that vein, it's encouraging to note that the fear of killing rather than being killed accounted for much of the combat stress experienced by the American G.I. during World War II

In Normandy today, President Obama commemorated the fallen. The usual commenters on Fox News and Wall Street Journal websites slammed him for everything from Benghazi to Bergdahl.

Well, for all the Obama haters out there, check out this story from The Daily Beast about what the D-Day veteran said to President Obama.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Smartphones and disruptive technologies

NY Times
After one month with my Moto G, it's easy to see why newspaper subscriptions have completely cratered and that paper editions are disappearing from the landscape.

The internet had already disrupted the newspaper world more than a decade ago. Naturally, something as old as the newspaper industry did not know what to do about it then and doesn't really know now.

After the introduction of the iPhone seven years ago, and the iPad four years ago, it became obvious that there was no reason for anyone, other than a senior citizen who may be intimidated by technology, to subscribe to a newspaper.

Having all the information you want, when you want it, no matter where you are, has made traditional sources of information superfluous.

This goes for TV news as well. Who needs to wait until 10 or 11 p.m. to find out what happened during the day? Plus, TV has the extremely annoying habit of teasing the viewer with partial information in the hopes they'll stick around to watch the commercials and then the rest of the story. Please, that ship sailed long ago.

To no surprise, the value of traditional media properties have plummeted, particularly for newspapers.

Yes, Instagram is worth more than the Boston Globe and the Washington Post combined. And, YouTube is worth more than NBC, CBS and ABC combined.

Credit mobile devices for this nearly instantaneous transformation.

That said, I'm not that thrilled with the whole smartphone/tablet craze. First off, tapping on the screen to get information or compose a text doesn't work consistently enough to be a worthwhile alternative to a laptop, which I'm using to write this post.  And yes, I've used the iPad and it's even worse than my Moto G on this issue.

The actual phone works well enough, but it's easy to hang up on someone just trying to answer the darn thing.

The music player is a definite plus. It's a big upgrade from my little, clip-on mp3 player.

It's ironic that Napster, and later the iPod, completely upended the music biz, and now the iPhone is putting the iPod out to pasture.

Same goes with point-and-shoot cameras. There is no need to lug a camera around when your phone can take almost as good a photo as most cameras can.

In addition to making land-lines a thing of the past, smartphones also have killed the watch business. Almost all young people under 30, or 40 now, do not wear a watch.

It's hard, then, to envision the "smartwatch" taking off like the smartphone did.

The main disruptive aspect to the smartphone/tablet craze, though, is that it has greatly diminished the "disposable income" that most people have. Smartphones are ridiculously expensive, along with their monthly plans, and there isn't much money left over for things like newspapers or magazines or cable TV subscriptions or even a dinner out. Not when you consider that wages that have been stagnant for decades.

BendBroadband, our cable provider, sold recently and they got out at the right time. In a couple of years, most homeowners will have access to high-speed, cell phone hot-spot receivers at home and they'll be able to bypass cable and satellite TV altogether. The smartphone or tablet will serve as the conduit for high-definition television, not just at home, but anywhere you go with your phone or tablet.

For all the disruption to traditional media and information sources that smartphones and tablets have caused, though, they're still rather trivial in the grand scheme of things. More toy than tool. Games, afterall, are the top-selling apps.

Until the tech-heads can disrupt the oil, coal, and gas industries with renewable energy that is affordable and reliable and includes long-range electric vehicles, we will be left with YouTube videos of cute cats and Facebook posts of mac-and-cheese recipes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Where are the ground studies about OSU-Pumice Pit?

West side location opponents' organization
Last year, the brain trust at OSU-Cascades promised "due diligence" by funding studies to show if building Central Oregon's long-awaited four-year university on a former pumice pit was viable.

The first study showed that the pumice pit was not suitable for multi-story buildings.

But, where is the second study?

It was supposed to come out this spring, but no sign of it yet.

The reason, no doubt, is that they have to rewrite so it sounds like OSU could build on a pumice pit if it really wanted to.

The engineers, who (like anyone) can be paid what to say, would have to wash their hands of the decision and let OSU take the fall later on when the ground proves unstable as it has at other locations on the west side of Bend.

Also, Deschutes County is doing a study of the old demolition landfill that OSU wants to build on in the future. No sign of that study either.

It would seem that to merely prep all the sites for any buildings, without any infrastructure, would cost close to $50 million.

For that kind of dough, we would have a nice interchange on Bend's north end that would satisfy the state's concerns about development at Juniper Ridge where OSU-Cascades should go.

But, no. Instead, we get whiny articles in the local daily paper from toadies like Bruce Abernethy who dismiss opponents of OSU-Pumice pit as a small faction with NIMBY sentiments.

Actually, if there were a vote about the location OSU on Bend's west side, a vast majority of citizens of the city would reject that idea. And, amazingly, not all opponents of the site live on the west side.

Abernethy and other OSU-Pumice Pit apologists arrogantly claim that only a location on Bend's west side would attract students to Bend. What they are really saying is that all those who don't live on the west side don't really live in Bend. That the rest of Bend sucks.

Well, OSU never bothered to ask the citizens of Bend where they would like the campus. Only a handful of developers decided the location. Now, the school officials are pouting that anyone would question their "wonderful" decision.

It's time for OSU to release the studies and face the backlash.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

All the news that doesn't fit

Yet another study shows that folks who watch Stephen Colbert are better informed about the world than those who consume their news from traditional media outlets, be it from newspapers or Fox News.

This isn't all that surprising. Fewer people than ever subscribe to a newspaper. Mainstream TV news is more concerned with "conflict" than with what is really going on.

With the internet, people can choose the news they want to consume. More than ever, web surfers are clicking on sites that conform to their thinking.

On the left, you have Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo and others. On the right, you have Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Drudge Report and others.

For years, many on the right complained about "liberal" bias in the news. These folks were tired of hearing about discrimination against people of color. They were mad that Christian prayers could not be said in public schools. They did not want to hear about "choices" for women including contraceptives and abortion. And, they certainly did not want gay marriage.

Well, they got a voice in Fox News, which says it's okay to hate, say any foul thing you want and exercise your Second Amendment rights anyway, anyhow.

Fox News tapped into the deep-seated prejudices that many Americans have and found a gusher of an oil well. Check the comments after any story about President Obama or anything not related to Obama, and you'll find racist rants about him. Fox News usually cuts off the comments to these stories because they become so vile, so quickly.

And, of course, there is always Rush Limbaugh and "hate" radio that spews right-wing rhetoric 24-7.

For all the social progress made over the past half-century, Fox News correctly realizes that millions of Americans don't like the changes.

But, Fox News is just a venting mechanism. It doesn't enlightened viewers, but rather inflames them.

So, with more news outlets than ever, it's not that surprising that comedy shows about the news are more informative than news shows that are a joke.