Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Blame Game

A friend posted a thought on my Facebook page which led to a friendly, but lively debate.  He pointed out how in every election cycle, the incumbent, looking for a second term, blames any shortcomings experienced from their first term, onto the previous administration.

Clearly, this was meant as an indictment of President Obama and his recurrent message that he inherited a mess from President Bush that was not going to be solved in 4 years, but the Facebook post is worth examining.

While I see our President’s position as being completely relevant, I suppose it is fair to say that “blame” is the name of the game in politics.

Beyond the blame game, a closer look at campaigns reveals that presidential candidates run on the promise of restoring America to whatever virtue they can convince Americans the previous administration lacked.

As I looked back at elections throughout the past 100 years, however, I noticed that most centered on the economy.  First term Presidents who brought about some economic buoyancy were generally elected to second terms; Clinton, Reagan, FDR, Eisenhower.  Those who did not, were not; Carter, Bush Sr., Hoover.

And let’s not forget that George W. Bush saw an economic bounce in his first term from tax breaks and rebates.  His undoing was his shortsightedness from simultaneously paying for two wars, and other policies, with less revenue and not realizing it was unsustainable.  Ultimately, the people who would pay for this inequity would be those who could least afford to and spending collapsed.

He was warned by his own economic advisors that revenue was needed to pay for a decaying infrastructure and his continued deregulation of the finance sector exacerbated the vulnerability of Wall Street saddled with toxic assets when the housing market slowed.

America, however, did not see that invisible powder keg and elected him to a second term.  Americans, for the most part, are not economists, and instead we vote on the rhetoric that fits into what we want to hear.  And what we hear is usually determined by who spends the most money to make it heard.

The truth is our economy is what it is because of Republicans and Democrats.  What’s more, Republicans, as well as Democrats have revived our economy throughout history.  Until recent Republican obstructionist policy there haven’t been many legislative acts that did not have contributions from both sides; good and bad.

The two headed deregulator named Clinton/Greenspan played a large part in setting the table that the two headed derivative named Bush/Greenspan exploited which led to a Wall Street fire sale.

Plus, the opening of the subprime housing market was proposed by Democrats, but embraced enthusiastically by Republicans who saw the economic opportunities.  When Freddie and Fannie imploded there was plenty of blame to go around; it just depended on which side you were on to point an accusing finger at the other.

And 30 years ago, there were plenty of Democrats jumping on the Trickle Down train that widened the gap between the rich and the poor.

Credit can be shared, as well as blame, because we have seen economic successes and failures with every administration, and economic policy is usually shared by both parties, even when authored by one.

Where am I going with this….?

We are voting on matters for which we have the least understanding.  Americans are not experts in economics; we are not experts in foreign policy; we are not even experts in domestic policy.  What we are, are experts of our own ideologies, and that should be the criteria we use to vote.

I am a Democrat and a Liberal because of ideological platforms that satisfy my personal sense of where I think America should be heading.  Some of this “sense” is innate, I believe, but most of it is culled from my life experience and from what I understand from reading history and our constitution.

It all comes down to what we believe makes America great.  I believe that America is great from its very design and there is greatness inherent in our fight for freedom and for human rights.  It is from this foundation that I define my political ideologies and create the compass I use to determine where this nation should be heading.

This is also what motivates me to be politically active because I fear for the preservation of what I believe constitutes a great nation.


I believe that a great nation would not allow the health of its citizens to be commoditized and determined by profit margins.

I believe that a great nation understands that its Constitution, as a charter of freedom, stands for the rights of every single citizen to be protected with equal justice.

I believe that a great nation agrees that the quality of education for its children and standards for clean air and water must be mandated to ensure the health of future generations.

I think that a great nation collectively provides a safety net to catch those who have fallen, or who have not have the opportunities, or have not understood the way to prosperity.

A great and just nation will make every legal effort to contain the greed that can root itself into our free will.

I believe that a great nation knows that respect is not achieved through how loudly we boast of our greatness, but by the humility to lead with greatness.

I am DEEPLY concerned about the voices that I’ve heard from the FAR right, but now occupy the middle of the Republican Party, as well, that have controlled the national debate.

Voices that scream for Christian doctrine to uproot the First Amendment.

Voices that call for America to beat its chest in defiance of egalitarian principles in order to remind the world that “We don’t apologize!” (presumably, I guess, because we don’t make mistakes)

Voices that denigrate our government by calling it “socialist” when it provides programs to support the health and welfare of its most vulnerable citizens.

Voices that are conspiring, whether they know it or not, to manipulate our country into a plutocracy that insults the Republic that I cherish and believe in.

While I support President Obama’s overall accomplishments so far, including economic recovery, it is not his economic policy that I am standing behind.  It is the direction of the Democratic party that he leads that continues to fight for people over corporations; for the civil rights of all of our citizens; environmental sanity; financial reform to protect our investments and future; and for the health and welfare of all Americans.

You can blame me all you want for that.

Son of Paleface

I saw a white man in line at Kwik Star.  That, in and of itself, is not unsual, but this fellow wanted to draw attention to the fact that he was white.  I don’t like to categorize and judge people by appearance, but it was hard to overlook the fact that a very large, hairy belly was hanging outside of his t shirt that said: “White and proud. You gotta problem with that?”

“Ah’ll take this’n, gimme a pack a Marlboro reds.  Them’s all.”

I posted this on my Facebook page to start a conversation and I did, indeed.  Mostly, people were appalled or embarrassed at the White Pride stance and commented on the irony of an inarticulate, unkempt Caucasian man expressing his racial pride in being an inarticulate, unkempt Caucasion man.

My own comment was that “pride should be from an accomplishment” and I asked: “How can the color of a person’s skin be something they accomplished?”

There is no question that the man, wearing what appeared to be a mass produced t-shirt, represents a portion of white America who believe that whites are not being recognized and respected for their accomplishments.logo-white-whine

My post drew in a few conservatives and they let me have it.

“This man is such a tiny portion of white America that your point has no relevance.”

“Isn’t it funny how Gary runs into the most stereotypical people in order to make his points?”

“If he were an Asian wearing an Asian pride t-shirt, would you have posted this?”

I answered that last comment with:  “I don’t recall reading of slavery, confinement and the persecution of white people by Asians in America.  If my race had risen from the chains of bondage, prejudice and segregation within the confines of a country that was predominately of a different race, then, yes, I might display pride for that heritage.”

I continued: “I am proud of the accomplishments of people, some of whom are white, in the context of ALL people.  But, there is a difference between pride in a race and pride in a religious or cultural heritage.  If a t-shirt said, ‘Irish and proud,’ or ‘Jewish and proud,’ then fine, identify your pride!”

Out of curiosity, I went online and Googled: “The accomplishments of white people.”

It’s not as if I didn’t know that I would find great achievements by people who were Caucasion, but I wanted to dig for some “White Power” comments.

Lo and behold!  Someone had asked a similar question on Yahoo! and it was followed by a response that read (spelling and punctuation have not been corrected):  I guess no ones heard of slavery in Israel or read the bible.  My point wasnt whites are better, my point was why are we not recognized as an accomplished race…There are too many double standards the favor every race except whites.

“Why are we not recognized as an accomplished race?” the person asked.

Okay…maybe it is a minority within the conservative fold who don’t understand that white people have received plenty of recognition, but it is an ingredient in a salty soup of modern conservatism; people who feel persecuted by the fact that they aren’t being recognized as Societal Masters anymore. But as we consider all of the accomplishments of human endeavors we have to conclude that the sources are cultural, social, and environmental, but not specific to race genetics.

classroomAsian-Americans make up only 4% of our population, yet comprise 20% of the Ivy League.  Are Asians smarter?  Not necessarily, but, Asian culture reveres teachers and covets education.  That is a cultural, not a racial, difference.

Some of the fastest runners in the world are fromUsain Bolt tiny Jamaica.  They are black, but is that why they’re fast?  Or is it because Jamaica has nurtured running as a sport by relentlessly focusing on its development?

_tuscan_poppies____poppy_landscapes_italian_paintings_by_jennifer_vranes_4fc1f0fe1f075071b55cedb63f65b76fGreat painters come from Italy, not because white people paint better, but the historical tradition in Italy has encouraged and supported the arts.

I can go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

Human beings can be proud of the accomplishments of human beings.  Nations of people may be proud of the obstacles they’ve overcome or of traditions that have made them close.  Cultures should be proud of heritage that created art, music, medicine, monuments and machines…but none of it was because of the color of their skin.

I may print a t-shirt of my own:

“Happy to be inclusive.  You got a problem with that?”


An Open Letter to Gay America

Dear Friends of the Gay and Lesbian Community,

In my view, no group of people have more at stake in this election than the gay men and women of America and, perhaps, around the world, as human rights are being threatened and denied universally.

In my view, no group of people have worked harder or have been more vocal in defending their rights than the gay community but it is also from my view that I witness opposition to those rights mounting an aggressive attack in the media, on the pulpit and in the political arena.

The Far Right-Christian-Conservatives, that have hijacked the platform of the Republican Party, love to place their blanket of sanctimonious values over gays and lesbians by saying, “We love you and care for your souls and that is why we wish to SAVE you”…but only so long as you do, in fact, go away!

I align with Liberalism because historical precedents and a connection to certain values have steered me toward an ideology that has fought for the rights and opportunities for women, minorities and the poor against opposition put forth by the status quo.  I consider the rights of Gay Americans in the same vein and that is why, today, I am compelled to appeal to the gay community to become even more active in this election than ever before.

I have seen some resignation caused by frustration and a willingness to compromise (“Let’s just call it a ‘civil union’,” for example) and I believe it’s time for all of us, straight, gay or confused, to order our priorities.

Yes, these are tough economic times, and yes, there are tenuous alliances on the world stage, but Human Rights have always been the centerpiece of American strength and this is still the most important battle we wage today.

It has to bother all conservatives that Mitt Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts promising to be more responsive to gay rights “than even Ted Kennedy” and today, in his quest to prove himself to be the conservatives conservative, he denounces gay marriage.  His handlers and supporters will connect the dots to portray an ideological consistency but it has to be clear to everyone that Mitt Romney will believe whatever he needs to believe to get his party’s support.

Perhaps moderate conservatives do not join Mitt’s new objective to amend the Constitution to define marriage as “a union between one man and one woman” (as has transpired in North Carolina) or Rick Santorum (who equates gay sex as the equivalent to incest or bestiality) or Michelle Bachmann (“It is part of Satan to say ‘this is gay’”…of course at the Bachmann’s that could be pillow talk!) but does a moderate conservative have any voice in the Republican Party anymore?

What used to exist as the political right wing (think Reagan, Eisenhower, Nixon, Goldwater) has been led by the nose into an extreme conservatism so afraid of losing its grip that they dress up as Minutemen in parking lots with muskets from WalMart carrying placards decrying their loss of “Freedumb.”

President Obama admitted that his view of gay marriage had “evolved” after speaking with gay and lesbian friends, soldiers and staff with regard to this issue and he is now voicing support after years of frustrating his gay supporters (and all of us who support non-prejudicial civil rights).  It is one thing to “flip flop” from supporting human being’s rights to a new position that limits them, as Romney did, than it is to have flipped from having a limited perspective to a more inclusive one.

Having ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is also a significant contrast to his opponent who said when it was repealed that “It should have been kept in place.”

President Obama has stumbled at times in his futile desire to be politically-inclusive, but, this election is about realism as much as idealism and now it’s about experience, as well.

President Obama rode into the White House on a wave of expectation, much of which was created by our own fantasies and not by his design, and after nearly 4 years reality has taken its place, but, the hope we shared is still alive and will find its roots in the highest purpose of America itself; the defense of human rights.

Bottom line?  There is no choice in terms of who needs to be in the White House from 2012 to 2016.  Obama as a second term, lame duck President could become a truly great presidency in the matters of human rights, the environment, education, foreign policy, the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure, and with investment in our national health.

Over 122 million Americans voted in the 2008 presidential election and even though Obama garnered 52% of the popular vote we can essentially say that half of America voted one way, the other have, another.  It is difficult to say how many of those voters were gay, however, there are approximately 9 million Americans over the age of 18 who identify themselves as gay and that translates into over 7% of the voting public.  What’s more, is that high percentages live in crucial electoral states and if that vote is added to 90% of the 60 million non-gay Democrats who voted for Obama in 2008…this election will be decided.

Half of America always disagrees with what they do not understand, particularly in every fight for civil rights, but if gay Americans lean on the rudder of this giant ship, together we can steer American values toward a more correct heading; one that leads to human rights and dignity around the world.

Rally.  March.  Write.  Persuade.  Vote.  Put aside the frustrations caused by leaders who have been slow or confused and let’s turn frustration, born from political stalemates, into a rally cry for renewed action.  More than “lifestyles” depend on us- lives are at risk!



“And that’s the way it is…”

Once upon a time, yet, in my lifetime, there were news anchors that we trusted and news gathering organizations that held the highest principles of journalism craddled to their corporate bosom.  The first obligation of American journalism is to the truth because it has been understood, from our very beginning, that the survival of our democracy depends on citizens having reliable and accurate information.

While editorials have always been part of a news presentation designed to persuade readers, viewers or listeners to a particular position, the news itself was a sacred trust.  When Walter Cronkite finished a broadcast with, “And that’s the way it is…” we felt that, well, that’s the way it was.  Truth stood above hearsay and hyperbole.

Today, however, content has taken a back seat to context, and this election, in particular, has been filled with half-truths, lies, fear mongering and empty rhetoric…and that’s just from the press.

The politicians have provided the pabulum but the media has feasted upon it to shore up viewers, ratings and revenue.

So, what else is new?  This is the game that we’re playing and it isn’t going to end anytime soon, even if we all keep pretending that we’re sick of negative ads and slanted stories.

What’s more, if Tea Party driven Republicans sweep through the 2012 elections, the slander and insanely biased posts will, in fact, become worse in the 2014 midterms and two years later for the next Presidential race.  Both sides will have seen that bigger lies, more twisted facts and more trumped up evidence to stain an opponent, are the elements that conspire to win elections.

Democrats are not innocent by any means and President Obama is guilty of truth tampering, as well, but his administration has been unfairly maligned more than any in history.  Largely, that can be attributed to the growth of the internet and its vast resource of unverified and shorthand news to procure and define our allies and our enemies.  The internet provides a constant barrage of false accusations, repeated lies, manufactured histories, misread statistics and emotional bias.

The talking points of Romney’s campaign, for example: a) Jobs, b) Medicare, c) Spending, d) Foreign Policy, are all issues that should, at the very least, carry a respectful debate because in every area President Obama has implemented, to varying degrees, successful, even bipartisan policies.

Yet internet hysteria pervades each as shallow conclusions have fed the conservative pipeline with false analysis that fan the populist flame.

It is not the responsibility of the press to bolster President Obama or to undermine Governor Romney, but it is their duty to investigate and reveal what is true and what is not and let the public decide.

What has happened instead is that false information is now reported as a viable news option and it’s repeated so often that the spongy middle of undecided voters are using malicious rhetoric to make decisions.

There is no other explantion for Governor Romney’s poll numbers going up after a debate in which nearly everything he said was, at least partially, erroneous.  It was the mainstream media’s job to vigorously correct mistakes on both sides.

“Romney will put America back on course” is what I overheard after the first debate from a Romney supporter parroting his campaign refrain.

Of course, that was also George W. Bush’s campaign slogan and he was running against a long period of prosperity under Clinton.

Apparently, that rhetoric works.

Even if we take the intentionally biased media out of the equation for a moment; mainstream news sources have lost sight of their responsibility as the free press to keep the discourse honest.  While I believe Bob Shieffer and Diane Sawyer to be committed journalists, their corporate bosses pander to sponsors and are so afraid of being accused of leftwing bias that even correcting lies is avoided.

24/7 news has devolved into the sharing of careless whispers and second hand information fabricated to tell stories that hold the interest of viewers with ever decreasing attention spans.

Mass media magnifies the drama of market swings, candidates mistakes, policy differences, and turn the most brutal realities of life, like war, into storylines that entertain more than they inform.

It would be nice to say that both parties are equally responsible for the propagation of thin and superficial information, but to say that it’s been 50/50 would be disingenuous and misleading.  No, it has been the amorphous and platitudinal ideology of the right that has allowed extreme positions to overtake its once reasonable platform.

4 years of Republican leadership will have no choice but to create policy that is nearly identical to the paradigm forwarded by 8 years of George Bush (6 with a Republican Congress) that paved the road toward plutocracy and swayed the judicial branch of government to support an oligarchic agenda.

Okay…I’ve turned my premise into a political statement (that can’t be news to anyone), but this election will be about the economy and in the 4 years that follow January 20, 2013 we will see an economic upswing because we’re already in recovery.  That is simply the truth…and I wish the media wouldn’t allow false rhetoric to re-define that reality.

The years that will follow the next term are the ones that concern me the most, and only a truthful press can keep the worst from happening…no matter who becomes President.

“Your logic is seriously flawed, Captain.”

My shoulders ache.  They get that way when I forget to breathe.  I forget to breathe when I think too much.  I think too much when I’m frustrated.  I get frustrated when I talk to people about politics and logic becomes irrelevant in their arguments.

Most of the arguments I hear from the anti-Obama voters centers around spending and entitlement programs.  I call them “anti-Obama” voters rather than “Republicans” or “conservatives” because those labels have become white noise and I am sensing that my arguments are being summarily dismissed by the people I would like to listen to them.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t hear someone talk about the monstrous debt and two things, in particular, that they believe are driving the debt out of control.  They are the Affordable Health Care Act and Welfare Programs.

The anti-Obama voters are angered into rage because of what they call “Obamacare” and the alleged expense of it and they HATE liberals because they believe welfare is the undoing of American greatness and the combined costs of social spending is what is bankrupting our country.

Their hatred is multiplied by the fact that these harmful and unnecessary expenses are coming out of their pockets. Money that they say they would be putting back into the system to create jobs and grow the economy.

Okay.  Let’s say they’re right.

Well…I can’t go that far just yet, without pointing some things out—

1) The immensity of the National Debt was created by two wars that were entered into after lowering taxes that primarily benefitted the Upper Class.  It was created by poorly conceived programs like Bush’s Drug Prescription program and “No Child Left Behind.” It was created by Troubled Asset Relief Program and stimulus spending that began under President Bush and continued under President Obama because we were spiraling into a deep recession that could have led to a deep depression.  MOST of the debt is a result of the continued programs of President Bush (primarily the war budget and continued tax cuts).

2) Deficit Spending is essentially an irrelevant political platitude. What is relevant is the Debt to Gross National Product ratio.  The argument and solutions should be focused on PRODUCTION and not debt, debt ceilings and deficit spending (just ask any Republican before it became the attack angle against Democrats).

Now, let’s say they’re right…Let’s say that the Affordable Health Care Act is a catastrophe that costs us more than it saves, and let’s say that welfare programs only create dependence on Federal handouts and let’s say that most welfare recipients are bilking the system because they don’t want to work (even though statistics show that this is not true at all, and, in fact, most people get off of assistance and contribute to the tax base), and let’s say that Obama’s stimulus spending was all a waste—-LET’S SAY ALL OF THAT IS TRUE!

IT STILL DIDN’T CAUSE THE RECESSION- and its not why it has been prolonged! What caused the recession, from which we have been buried, and for which so many people are angry, frightened and hateful was caused by decades of neoliberal economics (the work of neo-con politics) that has systematically transferred wealth from the Middle Class to a small percentage of the wealthiest Americans.

Call it Trickle Down, Reaganomics or Neoliberalism, it is the belief that no class but the affluent will spend enough money to support and grow the system.  It believes that the market will police itself (even Alan Greenspan has admitted that was wrong), and that regulations have to be removed so that the investment class is unfettered in their quest to grow wealth.  It successfully consumed wealth from the consumer classes over 3 decades to the point where the wealthiest Americans have increased their holdings by 250%!

What caused the recession was policy from Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush that loosened restrictions on investments and borrowing capital so that more people could buy houses, cars and toys (and cyclically we saw economic bouyancy), but also allowed the biggest winners to become even bigger winners, and eventually the well went dry.

Tax breaks and loopholes were created for the wealthiest and taken from the rest; instead of re-investing (as they were supposed to do) the wealthy increased their personal holdings while we went into debt. Deregulation allowed for derivatives of derivatives (of derivatives) to infect the market, thereby creating a house of cards; when loans came due, the values were toxic.

Wall Street knew that the bottom would fall out, but no one wanted to blow the whistle because some people were getting rich beyond measure. In fact, when Brooksley Born of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, did blow the whistle, she was quickly removed.

This was in the making for decades, but the walls started caving in from 2007-2009 before Barack Obama took office. The catastrophic collapse was of such a magnitude that NO policy could reverse the trends before things got worse. Obama’s stimulus spending, health care reform or continued welfare programs have not deepened the well, and, in fact, they are more likely to be helping to get us out.

Unemployment numbers, while still high, have been coming down, people applying for assistance is coming down and for many people health insurance is now something they can attain.

Now this is why my shoulder’s hurt….The anti-Obama voters want to go back to the way things were!  They want to remove regulations on Wall Street that could keep derivatives in check, they want to continue (or reduce further) tax breaks for the wealthiest (and therefore most powerful) among us, they want insurance companies to go back to commoditizing our health and controlling the market, and they want those among us with the least power to be held more accountable for the circumstances created by that paradigm.

It isn’t logical!

He Said, She Said

When I was married (I’m divorced) one of the most aggravating things that would happen when I had a “beef” is that my wife would counter with, “Yeah, well once you…” and she would then list mistakes I’ve made in the past that may, or may not, be relevant to my complaint, but nevertheless negated any credibility I might have had to have a beef in the first place.

Make sense?  It does if you’ve been married.  I’m sure that I did the same thing, I just don’t recall (isn’t selective memory fun?).

To be honest, I hear that dynamic from couples, between colleagues at work, with friends at barbeques, with my mother, my brothers, my kids…and in politics.

A candidate or a pundit will say or do something shocking or controversial and when the opposition gathers their torches and pitchforks, rather than stand accountable, the response is, “Yeah? Well, you Democrats (or Republicans) did the same thing…etc, etc, etc…”

A very good friend of mine, with whom I don’t agree on much politically, brought an article to my attention where a food pantry, owned and run by devout Christians, offer to pray with everyone who comes in for food. The article pointed out that because of this religious premise Federal government inspectors could not appropriate federally subsidized food to the pantry.

The blogosphere immediately turned this into a Liberal/Conservative conflict. I read a thread where someone said, “Liberals want to take God out of everything!”

A liberal responded, “Conservatives want to make everything fit their idea of morality.”

“How about the time conservatives shut down a Planned Parenthood office….?” came another and that was countered with “Liberals do this every time….!”

My friend and I discussed this because we are both fed up with finger pointing and he asked me, “Why can’t these incidents stand on their own rather than become part of everything liberals or conservatives do wrong?”

Coincidentally, the very next day I was talking to someone about Rush Limbaugh calling a young woman a “slut” and this person fired off, “How come liberals want to take Limbaugh off the air, but it’s okay when Bill Mahr calls Sarah Palin the ‘c’ word?  Why is it always liberals who have to censor conservatives?”

My response was equally agitated. ”Yeah?  How come Reverend Wildmon and his Coalition For Better Television have been trying to take off every program that contains anything they don’t like for 30 years?  They tried to get me off the air for playing a phony faith-healer on Saturday Night Live!”

I caught myself, but only after my rant was finished.

What if I had said, “Freedom of Speech comes with risks. We must uphold the rights of people to speak their mind and we must also uphold the rights of others to disagree and protest. If lawsuits become involved because of slander or abuse then we must trust our courts to uphold justice.”

It won’t be easy, but I say “Let’s give it a try!”  Unless you’re going to be obstinate and narrow minded again, just like you always are!

District 59 belongs to Bob!

Soon after I moved back to Cedar Falls, I met a guy running for re-election to the State House named Bob Kressig. I was attending a fundraiser for Bruce Braley where Braley announced his candidacy for the House of Representatives, and Bob came up to me and introduced himself (as well as his lovely wife, Liz). Along with Bob I met another up and coming Democrat named Jeff Danielson.

I was personally struck by each of them because of their down to earth demeanor and genuine desire to enthusiastically represent Iowans. It didn’t take long to realize that Bob, Jeff and Bruce were honest, straight forward, passionate and intelligent men and I knew immediately that these were the kind of people I wanted to represent me in Des Moines and in Washington.

Bob and Jeff were elected in 2004 and they have been diligently, compassionately and intelligently representing their districts since.  Thanks to their work, Iowa has a sound budget during these challenging economic times.  They are each up for re-election in 2012 (including Bruce) and they each deserve to continue doing the work they have been doing, as it has been at the highest levels of integrity; levels of integrity that we must demand from all of our representatives, locally, on the state level and nationally.

I’ve written about Jeff and Bruce already because they are in my district while Bob is not (I moved to Waterloo in 2007) but my interests extend beyond the boundaries of streets and they reach outward to our entire state and to our entire country.

Bob Kressig stands out among candidates because he is the most like…well, most of us. He is a husband and a father and a life long Iowan and while any of the candidates can lay claim to those descriptions, Bob is a unique politician as he is most often among us at restaurants, at our favorite haunts, or walking (or bicycling) on our streets. His common sense leadership was born from that reality. He knows who we are, what we need, and what we want because he’s one of us.

Bob Kressig will come knocking at your door (if he hasn’t already) because he wants to hear your concerns, and he wants you to know that he proudly carries those concerns to Des Moines. Even if you are on the other side of the political fence, the conversation you will have with Bob will bridge the contentious gap that has risen from today’s hostile climate. Bob is like that. He doesn’t show up because he wants to convince you that he’s right, he shows up because he wants you to know that he’s listening.

In these troubled times when it seems that no one is happy with the state of politics, and everyone talks about finding better representatives, lets pause for a moment to consider those representatives who are doing a great job; people that stand proudly for us Des Moines and in Washington. People like Bob Kressig.

Someone who knows us as well as we know ourselves.

Lean to the left! Lean to the right! Stand up-sit down- fight-fight-fight!

Allow me to illustrate what the right wing means when they talk of the “left wing media bias.”

Imagine that Presidents Bush and Obama are standing next to each other while attending an Easter Egg Hunt on the White House lawn.  President Obama is in his normal business attire, suit and tie, while President Bush showed up in a head to toe bunny costume.  ABC, NBC and CBS report: “President Obama was in attendance as well as former President Bush who appeared in a bunny costume.”

The right would claim, “Left wing slant!  They had to say that Bush was in a bunny suit while making no mention of what Obama was wearing!”

They turn now to Fox News who report on the same event: “Former President Bush attended the Easter festivities today full of good humor and ready to entertain the children in attendance. President Obama, however, displayed disinterest in Christianity’s Holiest day.”

Silly example…and dead on.

That was a comic illustration, here is a real one:  When Obama was scheduled to speak at Notre Dame 3 years ago, Fox News ran a ticker at the bottom of a newscast.  It read: “Obama Snubs Image of Christ.”  Fox editorialists on subsequent broadcasts said that President Obama had demanded that any Christian images be removed before he would attend and the clear “speculation” they were sharing is that Obama was not a real Christian, or at the very least, had little respect for Christianity (the Muslim card).

What aggravated me as much as that blatant slant was that the rest of the news world didn’t jump all over the fraudulent claim.  Finally, on MSNBC I saw a story that revealed that White House protocol, for decades, has been to remove any iconic imagery or symbols where the President speaks and to show only the American Flag and the Presidential Seal.  The President had nothing to do with the removal of any paintings or symbols.

The objective of journalism, which is vital to the survival of a free Republic, is to report the facts, without editorializing, so that the electorate can make accurate and fair judgments from which to base decisions.

24/7 news coverage might seem like the realization of the best possible World of Information, but it has become anything but; commentators have replaced journalists; editorials have replaced news.

People who argue with me have been citing statistics that show how many Democrats comprise news agencies.  Not accuracy of reporting statistics, mind you, but the fact that Network News Big Three employ Democrats 9 to 1.  That is not an easy number to ignore, but it doesn’t really say anything substantive.  Is it possible…that people who are generally “liberal” are more attracted to the profession of gathering information?

Studies from the Pew Research Center show statistics of what sources people trust more than others, but that doesn’t reveal actual accuracy in reporting.

Media Matters is a watchdog agency that was created to “correct” misinformation coming out of conservative news and they show an endless archive of false reporting from conservative radio and, of course, Fox News, but I don’t win any arguments when I use them as evidence.  Conservatives dismiss their information because of their agenda.

Fox News was created, by it’s own admission, to appease a growing audience on the right that was not happy with the fact that their ideological truths were not represented in the news.  These “truths” were images and stories portraying nationalism, Christian theocracy, and a celebration of American fables.

That being said, Fox News doesn’t always lie.  Their editorial shows (while too often full of “facts” from unchecked sources, propagating false rumors and anti-liberal rhetoric) do sometimes reveal enough objectivity to suggest to loyal viewers that they tell the truth.  It’s the same principle used by The National Enquirer.  Some stories have to be real.  At least enough to convince readers that maybe, just maybe, “Bat Boy” might be real, as well.

What needs to be clear is that News and Editorials are not the same thing and the distinction has gotten lost in 24/7 broadcasting.  Many journalists have become commentators, even entertainers, and entertainers are posing as journalists.  The problem is, we are getting a lot of information after it’s been tainted by the lens of opinion and many people cannot see the difference.

The result is that bias appears as news and news is assumed to be biased.

The result of that result….honest journalism appears to be biased to those who are looking for an opinion to be contained in their “news.”

Veritas vos liberabit, anyone?