Fox News

Stubborn Fox News

There’s this popular idea that there is a “Dumbing-Down” happening in America. I know because I was rebuked for doubting its validity yesterday in a couple of internet exchanges concerning the notion of what we think is educational versus what we insist is entertainment.

I don’t think America is becoming stupid, but we have become stubbornly certain of our own genius.

The weird thing is that becoming employed by Fox News Channel automatically certifies one to be smarter than the rest of us…It must be a part of the contracts over there, whether greater intelligence is bestowed by reading the clever conservative legalese or signing the pact agreed upon with the more religious segments of America.

Apparently, while we should fear every brown-skinned person who travels up from our Southern border to the point where we must wall it off, while we should cower at the idea of letting Muslims bring their culture into our borders and infecting good-ol’-boy minds, while we should oppress and demonize those who are queer or funny-looking and have the nerve to use the wrong bathroom, and while we shouldn’t listen to any arguments coming from our own journalists, teachers, and scientists lest we’re all killed by their silly ideas about the world and science and God…

…what we really need to do as a country is not give in to all this silly Russia hysteria! Vladimir Putin is a swell guy and a strong leader, as our President has promoted from day one, and according to Fox News, we are required to stubbornly accept what Trump is doing for the country, liberals be damned.

Fear the brown-skinned Mexican and Muslim interlopers, but don’t worry about what’s happening behind closed doors between the Trump family and Putin emissaries.

Fear the South-Side of Chicago, where black kids shoot to kill and Trump rallies are thwarted, but don’t worry about all those Russians Putin has blatantly killed with radioactive poison, mob-style beatings, and shootings within the very shadow of the Kremlin.

Fear the rest of the world, especially our traditional allies, but don’t worry about America turning into an oppressive, authoritarian regime like Russia, our future bestie.

Fox News is more stubborn than any political entity, and they convince their viewers to be as stubborn as their mouthpieces, who are paid well to be more stubborn than the rest of us. A couple of weeks ago, Bill Maher was whining about needing a month-long break from Trump, while in the same show, admitted that he admires Republicans for being so united and diligent. While MSNBC broadcasts its prison franchise shows on the weekends, Hannity, Watters, and the rest are putting in overtime, zealously pushing the Trump takeover, to the zealots who just can’t turn off that Fox News dial.

This Fox News bullshit continues to work like a charm. Just like the torture issue back at the end of the W. Bush administration, the American people are polled, and lo and behold, nobody in America seems to give a shit about Russian interference in our election…so let’s all just collectively drop the subject.

America isn’t becoming stupid. It’s been there for a while, for as long as Fox News has been dominating American living rooms.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Two, Part Eight

White noise: According to dictionary.com, it is also called white sound, a steady, unvarying sound, used to mask or obliterate unwanted sounds…

White noise: This was the sound of Donald Trump’s voice for me after he deflected his advocacy of sexual assault by going full-Fox-News and dismissing it as just locker-room banter. I swear I saw a little Sean Hannity, whispering in his ear about how to make the so-very deplorable become so-very digestible for the Republican Base. Apparently, the American People should continue to let men tell them not to worry about guy-talk, or how it may lead to sexual assault…or just how it’s plain indecent and SHOULD NOT be dismissed as “locker-room talk.” Boys will be boys, so let’s move on… Trump told Anderson Cooper that the Clinton News Network anchor hadn’t heard properly what Trump said, and by extension, Trump told the American People that we didn’t hear him right either. His voice started sounding like the adults in the Peanuts world right off the bat, when Trump successfully deflected the most horrific recording released to the public of a Presidential candidate ever…The drone in my ears, I think, is my brain defending my soul from Trump’s corruptible white sound.

White noise: The barely audible cheer heard across the country as White America regained their champion after Hilary Clinton dropped the ball last night…

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

Religious Interpretation

Religious Interpretation
I’ve been thinking about religion lately, specifically how it seems impossible to maintain the mythical separation between church and state in American politics. I’ve been focusing on how closely religion and patriotism operate, as so many people become passionate when God or country is invoked. I notice how violent religion seems to make people. I observe how similar the people who fundamentally practice the major religions of the world tend to be, as the image of the Christian and Muslim girls holding religious texts and assault rifles in front of their nation’s flags shows. Religion seems to promote an inflammatory dichotomy: harmonious love in conflict with harsh opposition. Practitioners insist their interpreted beliefs are more pious than others, and neighborly treatment can only come from fully accepting the tenets of a group’s organized religious faction. It can create a schizophrenic reaction in the human brain if one attempts to rationalize it; perhaps this explains why politics, which cannot fully sever its relationship with religion, drives the average person crazy.

I believe the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision has opened Pandora’s Box, and it’s okay for me to legally and subjectively believe this, as the decision now justifies subjective belief to oppose or endorse national policy and law, according to the loose interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The problem is that freedom of religion has been interpreted to mean freedom-to-practice-fundamental-Christianity only, as interpreted by five male partisan judges, who might lean towards the more misogynistic interpretations of Biblical text. We understand that bringing up the term “abortion” is satisfactory to incite Christian angst and opposition. The four contraceptive methods in question do not perform abortive medical techniques; it is sufficient for fundamental Christians to subjectively believe they are abortifacients. The five SCOTUS judges have approved a narrowly-construed subjective belief as sufficient to successfully oppose a law. The amount of interpretive religious beliefs that might now be invoked to oppose law is too numerous to count. However, it’s understood that the premise of the belief needs to be shared by a sufficient number of believers who join forces as a religious collaboration, and pro-life advocacy is more than sufficient to sway the paternalistic judges. What strikes me is that this decision has mostly to do with whether or not a rich corporate entity should spend money or not for the benefit of their employees. If enough Christians interpreted the Bible to oppose wealth and avarice in America—what with “thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15), Jesus’ angry tantrum against entrepreneurs in the temple (Mark 11:15-18, John 2:14-16), “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 19:24), and many more possible Biblical analogies concerning the evils of money—you might easily make a case that the entire free market system and economy used in America is in violation of religious belief. There is certainly a religious case to be made that corporations are not people. They promote wealth and avarice in violation of the Bible’s teachings, and they certainly would not have to present themselves for Judgment before God when they “die.”

The ISIS invasion of Iraq has religious belief to blame, also. It is fueled by the inner-turmoil of Muslim factions, the Shia and the Sunni, a conflict that is centuries old. Before Christians get too fulsome, remember that the conflict between Protestant and Catholic has its own bloody history. While the Islamic text of the Qur’an does in fact promote love and peace, similar to the text of the Bible, it is the portions that support war and violence that are wielded by ISIS militants (and the Bible suffers from this same multiple personality disorder, e.g., God is loving, and God is vengeful). This might be the latest example of how religious belief is more dangerous than peaceable…

• …except Israel and Palestine have reared their ultra-violent religious heads for the umpteenth time in world history. This time, innocent children are suffering in the most grotesque manner. Admittedly, children have been the victims of religious zealotry on multiple occasions, but these latest incidents are yet again fueling the escalation of a religious war that has brewed for the better part of centuries. Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were abducted and killed to make some ludicrous religious statement. Then, Mohammed Abu Khieder, 16, is abducted and killed (more like mutilated and immolated) in a seeming act of retribution; Khieder’s cousin, Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, can be seen beaten enthusiastically by Israeli police on video (after which, this American-Palestinian boy had been detained). Rockets are flying again in the Gaza strip, concrete is tossed back and forth, and military units stand at the ready. Wars fought for religious belief have been a mainstay of human history, and in 2014, we continue to witness the mistakes wrought by collective subjective belief. The only positive religious expression to be found in this conflict is at the individual level: the parents of these slain boys, the persons who suffer the most because of pain and loss, have comforted one another, despite their differing religious factions, despite the religious fervor and panic occurring in their nations, despite centuries-old animosity. They share one another’s grief, consoling each other, as neighbors ought to do, when practicing the substance of any religious interpretation of love and peace.

The Pope recently visited victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. While it is a small gesture, it is more than has been extended in the past. The fact that Catholic priests have violated the trust of their communities in such reprehensible fashion is enough to give pause to even the most devout Catholic. The fact that these sex-offenders have enjoyed protection within the Church in the past signals the necessity of the Pope to make amends. It is not fundamentally spelled out in the Bible that these Catholic priests had committed a sin, but it is common sense to realize that members of the Catholic Papacy have performed the most egregiously evil act of sin towards those whom they had been charged to protect and shelter.

• Back to the idea of American corporations possessing religious beliefs: recently Burger King decided to market the Whopper with rainbow colors to endorse gay pride and respect. Of course, the Christian community has lost their marbles again, skewering the internet with cries of censorship and hatred (here, here, and here). Apparently, Burger King has incorrectly read the Bible, and they should not have the right to express their religious interpretation; only corporations like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A enjoy the protections of the Christian community…further proof that freedom of religion only extends to those Americans who endorse fundamental Christianity.

• Climate change is occurring, the average temperature of the world is rising, and human consumption of natural resources is to blame. It’s scientifically validated, and if we are to preserve the planet for our children, we need to collectively alter our consumption of fossil fuels. There is no good argument against this, yet we still allow opposing voices to overrule the logical conclusion…because the Bible tells us that the planet is 6,000 years old, dinosaurs had to ride on Noah’s Ark, and God has told us to pillage and plunder the planet so that corporate entities can make un-Godly profits (interestingly, the BBC is addressing this in their news coverage…if you’ll forgive the religious pun, it’ll be a cold day in hell before Christian-minded Fox News does the same).

• In Murrieta, California, protestors have signaled their hatred for needy children by shouting angrily for them to return to their crime-ridden neighborhoods in Central America. How dare they seek refuge from being killed violently at a young age? (…because they likely will be if sent back to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, or even Mexico). According to the Bible, we should love our neighbors (Mark 12:31, Matthew 22:39), and certainly Jesus endorsed loving needy children: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Apparently, these Christian edicts only apply if the children are born within the boundaries of the United States; after all, Christianity is best interpreted by a young country that adopted Christianity as its national religion…and only natural-born citizens are protected by the tenets of the Bible (sarcasm intended). Thank God (no sarcasm here) that Judge Clay Jenkins of Dallas County, Texas has confirmed for me that there are, in fact, good Christians who are willing to construe religious goodness in a manner that is antithetical to erroneous, fundamentalist interpretation (here and here).

I can only come to a startling conclusion as far as religion is concerned: The separation of church and state is a myth. The 1st amendment guarantee of freedom of religion protects fundamentalist Christian Americans only. For those of us who want to practice freedom from religion, we are out of luck. Instead of freely practicing individual religious faith and belief, we are compelled as Americans to follow fundamentalist Christian edicts, whether our personal individual beliefs and interpretations jive with the collective’s or not. As human beings, no matter in what country we live or in what government we follow, we are all at risk of suffering the dangers that humans’ religious interpretation has wrought. God help us all.

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Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

A Suggested Solution to Our American Tragedy

My initial reaction to the Las Vegas, Nevada, killings of two police officers, Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, and one civilian, Joseph Robert Wilcox, by a married couple was to continue to campaign for regulation against guns. Since there have been so many public killings with guns as of late, this has become my knee-jerk reaction. I engaged in a few online debates, and one particularly rational gun-owner brought an accusation to my attention that I initially denied. After a night of contemplation, I have to admit a major flaw in my argumentation.

I have stereotyped gun-owners.

I have indeed lumped all potentially-responsible gun-owners into the same radical category, and I’ve resigned myself to sustaining an argument that is not really bearing any fruit as far as protecting the public from guns. These most recent killings in Nevada, with the killers posting their ideology prominently on the internet, have also confirmed a claim that I have maintained for many years.

Words can be as deadly as bullets. Mouths can be weapons on par with guns.

I can concede to gun-owners that they have a right to own weapons for personal protection, as long as they maintain their weapons in a safe manner. My appeal today involves asking conservative talkers and writers to consider how they use a more deadly weapon: their rhetoric. I ask for these public speakers to maintain this weapon in a more consciously safe manner. This might be the key to solving the problem of increased violence in this country, maybe even more than legislation concerning gun control.

A prominent conservative Republican voice should publically decry the anti-government movement.

This does not mean this Republican voice has to convert to Democratic principles. This conservative does not have to betray their fiscal ideology. He or she does not even have to embrace Barack Obama. This speaker only has to shift out of the high gear of anti-government sentiment and show some acknowledgement of the dangers of inflammatory rhetoric.

It could be a politician. If a Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz denounced the use of inflammatory anti-government rhetoric, it would have a strong impact on the public. If Mitch McConnell, John McCain, or Rand Paul admitted that the party’s march far to the right might be responsible for inspiring these two killers in Nevada, it would go a long way to repairing America’s ills. If Mitt Romney or George W. Bush brought attention to this rhetorical problem in the Republican Party, there’s a chance that the political party could flourish instead of dissolve. If a prominent Republican dialed it down, just a notch, we might have fewer radicals in this country instead of the sharp increase that is currently occurring.

This potential speaker would ideally have more impact if he was found within existing conservative media. If Rush Limbaugh did an about-face and had a rational opinion about inflammatory rhetoric, there is a possibility that his massive fan base would recover from the fever of radical anti-government ideology. Alex Jones might inspire less denial and more recognition of an evident problem. Sean Hannity might have the largest impact, if he even broached the topic of the Nevada shootings, instead of concentrating on Bowe Bergdahl…as a self-proclaimed ombudsman, it’s important to cover the Nevada shooters instead of ignoring it, Mr. Hannity…you have a responsibility, as you have admitted…and having a sensible discussion about the inflammatory rhetoric of the Nevada shooters is ethical…quit the sensationalism, please. Bill O’Reilly has shown some acknowledgement in the past. He did not jump on the Cliven Bundy bandwagon and admitted the minimum wage should be increased. Maybe Bill O’ Reilly is the ideal speaker to bring attention to conservative viewers that the rhetoric needs to become less heated. I know that if just one of these popular conservative media hosts made it his mission to curb the rhetoric, from within the conservative noise machine, then it would help solve this American dilemma.

Maybe this needs to happen within the money machine of the Republican media. Roger Ailes could have a change of heart and stop the storm for which he is mostly responsible. Matt Drudge could post an essay calling for more rationality in conservative media. Karl Rove, as “the architect,” could design a campaign for sanity within conservative talking points. Wayne LaPierre could explain that Good Guys aren’t the only way to stop Bad Guys; in fact, the Bad Guys are stopping themselves with guns after killing plenty of Good Guys. Just one of the Koch brothers would be sufficient enough to have an impact on the methodology of the Republican Party. However, short of three Dickensian ghosts appearing to one of these conservative profiteers in the night, I don’t anticipate Ebenezer Scrooge experiencing enlightenment. There’s just no profit potential in contrition.

I wish this would happen, but the pessimist in me knows better. I see how Republicans reacted to Jeb Bush’s “It’s an act of love” quote. Card-carrying Republican Bob Inglis cannot campaign for climate- change recognition effectively within the party. The NRA recently attempted to curb the open carry movement in Texas, and they stepped back three steps after taking a baby step forward.

The only incentive I can give to a conservative Republican who might consider becoming this contrite speaker for the party: you can save America. You can heal the Republican Party. You can preserve conservative ideology. You can inspire the people. You might even be considered as a Presidential candidate for a party that desperately searches for a winnable candidate against presumed Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

You can stop this rhetoric and prevent the violent upswing occurring within your base.

Please prove me wrong and show me that there is a savior existing within today’s Republican Party.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

Opinion about the VA Scandal

The current fervor in the news media over the U.S. Veterans Affairs’ inability to improve medical care for veterans is a good thing, in some ways. The attention increases the public’s knowledge of the deficiencies of medical care for veterans and demands action is taken. It is obvious that revision is needed for our veterans. However, this is nothing new, and it should surprise no one who has paid attention to procedural problems for our veterans over the course of the last few decades. The system has gotten worse for our veterans, as the slow processing has directly resulted in the deaths of several veterans who needed immediate attention. It’s about time that this has become a priority, and the news media should be lauded for fulfilling their ethical role here…finally.

There is the typical problem, however, as it is now politicized. Anything having to do with veterans becomes an easy method to discredit the President. Benghazi and the government shutdown are recent examples of how easy it is for politicians and political journalists to use our veterans as a platform to attack. Regular Fox News shill, Sean Hannity, continues to make the VA scandal a platform to attack Barack Obama. I wonder if he knows how many veterans might find his “support” distasteful. Hannity disrespects our veterans by assuming they want to represent his personal campaign against their Commander-in-Chief.

Since this has become a political issue, we can once again see how Republicans and their media representative, Fox News, think these problems become solved: fire the government official in charge. Calls for the dismissal of Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki abound, perhaps rightfully so. What I don’t see is a solution, even if Shinseki is removed from his cabinet position. It seems like this is the first and only suggestion for all problems with the government. Fire Kathleen Sebelius. Fire Lois Lerner. Fire Hillary Clinton. Fire Barack Obama. Now, we need to fire Eric Shinseki. I’m often confused by Republicans’ ideas, but apparently our government is supposed to work like an episode of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice…weird how that same philosophy was not utilized with the 2008 housing crash…in fact, the executives in charge of the banks were retained under the auspices that their dismissal would further damage the economy, as new appointees would not perform better than existing “leaders”…I suppose my confusion rests within the differences between public executives and private executives…I just don’t see much difference.

Collectively, we seem to have forgotten the past decade. We sent so many troops into Iraq and Afghanistan. How did we not anticipate there would be a need for expansion of our veterans’ healthcare? I suspect we did and chose to ignore it. I assume there was resistance to providing the necessary funding (see the Affordable Care Act if you don’t believe that politicians want to resist funding healthcare). There is one voice that has been missing from this discussion of the VA scandal, and his is a voice that has been sorely missing since Barack Obama was elected. George W. Bush needs to stop painting and start addressing some of the problems in this country that occurred during his presidency. He’s getting a pass for his mistakes, and his biggest mistake was the Iraqi War. We went to Iraq to sustain the American oil industry, and he needs to answer for this, especially to our veterans. Bush is less scrutinized than Richard Nixon, and Bush may have committed greater crimes than Nixon in the office of the President. He is certainly complicit in the current VA scandal, if Barack Obama is to be skewered because of it.

The problems in our government healthcare system meant to accommodate veterans should be addressed. In fact, medical care for currently enlisted soldiers should be improved also, as it’s well known that professional physical and mental care for soldiers often boils down to getting the soldier back to his or her unit, often at the expense of the individual soldier. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that mentality has found its way into our veterans’ hospitals. We fall all over ourselves to shake a soldier’s hand and thank them for their service, but we turn a blind eye when it comes to actual care and respect for our soldiers and veterans, whether it’s providing healthcare, education, or jobs for returning soldiers. We need to stop paying lip service to our troops, and provide to our veterans what they have earned.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

The Benghazi Talking-Point: Fox News and Manufacturing Indignation

Benghazi has become an incendiary term, and I’m uncomfortable addressing the terrorist act because of the people who were killed. Shortly after the violence, the mother of one of the security guards at Benghazi asked for the media not to make the death of her son into a political talking-point. Fox News has completely disregarded this mother’s pleas and continued to push Benghazi as a great political scandal comparable to Watergate. With the discovery of a fairly benign e-mail analyzing how to frame press releases discussing Benghazi, the Fox News machine went into overdrive once again, making Benghazi their premier news point once again…and once again the Republican party in Congress seized Fox News’ direction, calling for yet another investigative committee, designed to smear Democrats and divert our government’s attention away from creating utilitarian policies and laws. I find Fox News’ obsessive campaigning on Benghazi to be distasteful, and I would prefer to dismiss it as another case of Fox News promoting their own stupidity for stupidity’s sake…but as with most things Fox News promotes, I observe many local folks parroting the stupidity. I’ll write about Benghazi just this once to oppose Fox News, but I grow tired of Fox News’ power to direct our national conversation toward absurd claims and unnecessary scandal.

First, I will admit that our government did indeed screw up. There should have been more security at the U.S. embassy in Libya. The minimalist approach for security at Benghazi was an egregious error, and there are four dead Americans because our government did not acknowledge a heightened potential for violence in time to prevent this terrorist attack. We decided to take the cheapest and slowest way out, denying Christopher Stevens’ requests for additional security and asking the embassy to work with what was fiscally available. While both parties within Congress should acknowledge guilt, it is perfectly fair to hold both President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accountable for the lack of adequate security at Benghazi.

A problem with the intense focus on Benghazi by Fox News and many Republicans is their created diversion from the impact of the film-trailer, Innocence of Muslims. It seems their mission is to defend Americans’ right to create incendiary messages under the veil of righteous Christianity. Fox News obviously has a vested interest in defending the actions and fundamental beliefs of American Christians. Their messaging since the attack of September 11, 2012, has been to direct indignation away from the film-trailer and towards Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Somehow, this has been effective for Republican messaging. The producers of the film, Media for Christ, are seldom mentioned, and in fact, accountability for their role is deflected by recitation of first-amendment rights of free speech and expression. Republicans have actually implanted a vision into the American mindset, one in which Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton wickedly watched video of the Benghazi attack, which the pair conspired to allow happen, as any insidious, unified attack on Muslim nations/Islamic religion by American Christian organizations are ignored entirely.

There’s something wrong with this, and it contributes to Fox News’ tendency to treat its audience like ignoramuses by omitting necessary information. The film trailer was indeed created by American Christian organizations. It was intended to support American Christianity and offend Islamic sensibilities. It was supported and viewed by several American churches, and it was sent through the internet specifically to Islamic factions outside of America to enflame and harass. This was supported as a righteous mission by fundamentalist Christians who have convinced themselves that it is their religious duty to oppose Islam. These Christians succeeded at offending Islamic followers. Leaders of Islamic factions throughout the Middle East (and Europe and Asia) became aware of the trailer and used it to incite and organize opposition. There were organized gatherings in multiple nations, and not just Libya. It became an ideal cover for the Benghazi terrorists to attack and kill four Americans.

This is all factual. It is very logical to surmise that Innocence of Muslims had some fault in inspiring the attack at Benghazi. It is also logical to assume that there is no single factor involved in any terrorist attack. It is less logical to assume that our President and Secretary of State were complicit with the terrorists because they were careful with rhetoric within a week of the attack. It is ultimately less logical to unduly attack Susan Rice because she might have acknowledged the possibility of a movie trailer provoking Islamic opposition on the Sunday-morning news programs within the confusing aftermath. There is no logic whatsoever in this continued incitement around the terrorist attack at Benghazi, other than to serve the purposes of the Republican party to defame current and potential Democratic presidents.

My disdain for Fox News’ obsessive attention of Benghazi comes from their continued push to gin up indignation, based on the deaths of J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone S. Woods. I am most tired of Fox News telling me about what I should find to be offensive, and I am weary of our Congress following Fox News’ lead. Fox News disregarded the death of Trayvon Martin in favor of support for George Zimmerman. Fox News opted to support the NRA and Wayne LaPierre instead of focusing on the deaths of twenty 5- and 6- year olds, who sat in American classrooms, not embassies within a violent country. Fox News has chosen to ignore the lies and faulty talking points utilized by the George W. Bush administration that directly led to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers.

Fox News has lost its legitimacy for instructing the American public about where we should find indignation. They have no credibility concerning the terrorist attack at Benghazi. I can only hope that their unrelenting attention of Benghazi does not infect the American people, but it’s obvious that Fox News has built their viewer-base through successfully spreading propaganda, like a virus. America needs to inoculate itself from the disease of Fox News.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

Please Watch Years of Living Dangerously

I’m one of those skeptics that watched An Inconvenient Truth and doubted Al Gore’s assertion that global warming was happening. Specifically, I thought he made a leap at the end of the documentary, connecting global warming to human activity without providing sufficient evidence, hoping that his PowerPoint presentation, loaded with subjective appeals, alongside the objective evidence, would clear the hurdle. As a teacher, I’ve shown the film many times to analyze effective and ineffective argumentation, persuasion, and use of fallacy. To me, it seemed that Al Gore was championing a political cause, creating the liberal version of the Apocalypse, since gathering political support while using the Biblical version had been so successful for conservatives. Al Gore seems to have an ego, which I admit also makes me skeptical of his ulterior motives.

Today, I am 100 percent convinced of the validity of climate change attributed to human activities. I am much more sympathetic of Al Gore’s presentation, but I still hold blame that his role in the film may also contribute to the denial that is still promoted by Republicans and the Fox News channel. In today’s brutally-split political climate, climate change is firmly viewed as a liberal Democratic cause, and today’s Republicans are quick to block every cause that is promoted by the other party. The environment in general is dismissed as a political cause by Republicans, and the Environmental Protection Agency is obviously a government department that Republicans have targeted for reduction or outright dissolution.

It wasn’t always this way; only very recently have Republicans really made denying climate change an integral part of their platform. Fox News provides further evidence that their network creates the Republican platform by denying climate change on most of their broadcast programs. Climate change is unsound science…The Koch brothers should be applauded for creating jobs instead of attacked for blocking climate change legislation…think of the economy…blah, blah, blah, and BLAH! Anything to appease the masses that climate change is not happening…just turn to Fox News to confirm that liberals are uninformed whackos that will go to any lengths to make Republicans look bad. I’ve developed a fairly strong resistance to most of Fox News’ rhetoric, but when the talking heads there start yapping about climate change, I suffer from a serious case of transformation from Jekyll to Hyde, complete with convulsions, twitching, and loud roaring.

I’m mostly concerned because, yet again, those of us that want a better Republican party—those of us that have trouble admitting our Republicanism at parties—are forced once again to deny our own party because their absolutism has become too dangerous. I admit climate change is happening (not that I believe in it…it’s that I know it is happening!). I see the increased rhetoric to dismiss reality in lieu of profiteering (Drill, baby, drill! Build the Keystone pipeline! Solar energy should be blocked! Big Oil is our friend!). I fear the consequences of ignoring climate change, since our weather patterns are obviously becoming more volatile and people are dying in the present. I’m concerned for the future, and that shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

My sarcastic reaction to promotions for the Showtime series Years of Living Dangerously: “Great! If Republicans dug themselves in because of Al Gore, then I’m sure a bevy of actors and actresses promoting a show about climate change will change their minds.” I also assumed it distasteful that Harrison Ford, Jessica Alba, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and Arnold Schwarzenegger should be the ones to change the masses’ minds about this, since celebrity actors are sometimes too influential on the public…but whatever works! I believe that the single biggest problem with climate change is convincing the deniers to change their tune, and if more people listen to the facts about climate change because Indiana Jones or the Terminator asks them to, then so be it.

After watching the four released episodes to this point, I have become a zealous advocate of the show. I was impressed by its similarities to effective film documentaries and its educational format. I appreciate the show’s multi-pronged approach to examining different aspects of the science, showing the multiple consequences of climate change, exposing the need for non-partisan attention to the matter, illustrating that it is a global matter and not a strictly American problem, and proving that climate change is a result of human culture and activity. The celebrities do not appear self-promotional, and I am appreciative of their advocacy and education. I’ve watched it with my children, and I promote the show as it was advertised: a most important program that everyone should watch.

Years of Living Dangerously makes a better argument for climate change than An Inconvenient Truth does. Denial of climate change is just as dangerous as continued fossil-fuel dependence. Educate yourself. Years of Living Dangerously contains a powerful statement that effectively teaches about the reality of climate change. Please take the time to watch it, and consider the effects climate change will have for your children’s planet.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

Why I Watch Fox News

I was asked by a few college friends how I am able to watch Fox News so religiously. I responded, “It takes gumption,” but I’m afraid the true answer takes more explanation.

Both friends referred to Fox News as “Faux” News, which is clever, but herein we also find part of my rationale: most every scholar or professor with whom I communicate will not watch Fox News…at all…period…thank you very much, and have a swell day!

I do not blame my academic friends. It becomes a masochistic exercise at times. I often find myself launching from the couch to shout angrily—blood pressure up, veins popping out of my neck, spittle flying out of my mouth—at a projection of a person on a television screen that cannot hear me.

My experience has taught me that the ratio of Fox News viewers versus academics whom censor Fox News is around 3 to 1…about the same as the Nielson ratings prove night after night. Frankly, we are out-numbered. Many American citizens buy the self-proclaimed edict of “Fair and Balanced” found in the Fox News letterhead, and it’s not just senior citizens watching, as many liberals presume. So many students in my classes attack me with Fox News-supplied arguments, so many family members will watch Fox News and nothing else, so many friends with whom I have conversed will attack all other media networks as overwhelmingly liberal, so many acquaintances will leap readily into my conversations to defend their muse…so many people get rather agitated if I even suggest that Fox News might be wrong about anything.

As someone trained in rhetorical fallacy, it is apparent that Fox News revels in the use of post-hoc-ergo-proptor-hoc, ad hominem, hasty generalization, circular reasoning, begging the question, and red herring rhetorical devices. I recognize that Fox News leans more to propaganda than journalistic integrity, but I don’t think most people understand that many of the Fox News arguments do not hold water. Using mathematical, logical inductive/deductive analysis, we can safely designate many of their arguments as invalid. Using common sense, we can plainly see more juvenile, school-yard appropriate argument in the form of non-constructive name-calling, intrusive belligerence, wild accusations, malicious insults, and broad ridicule. What seems to happen in reality: the sheer number of Fox News viewers ingests the bullshit, they walk among the rest of us, and the masses repeat what they hear as fact to the minority, drowning out resistance because enough Fox News viewers told them what to say (creating ad populum fallacy!).

Fox News sells itself as the only 24/7 news network that stands up for the little guy and portrays the true conservative perspective. As someone who still leans conservative with his financial (not social) ideologies, I would sincerely enjoy a news network that utilizes good conservative principles appropriately. I’d like a much better conservative news network than Fox News has ever pretended to be. I’d suggest monopolies need to be broken up, and an alternative conservative 24-hour-seven-days-a-week news network might be warranted. Most Fox News viewers find this idea offensive…because Fox News programs have trained them to respond this way: “Of course we need Fox News! If Fox News wasn’t there, then the liberal media would win…and our country would descend into apocalyptic, socialist nightmare! Thank God for Fox News.”

Ignoring Fox News seems too dangerous. I watch Fox News to try to understand how their message can become so pervasive in my community. I find too many people who are receptive to the arguments of Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Mike Huckabee, Eric Bolling, and the like. It seems as if Roger Ailes has managed to brainwash half of America. As an academic, I’ll be damned if I just ignore this network’s intrusive propaganda. I will not accept Fox News as a necessary evil. I will not just cover my eyes and ears, singing, “La. La. La. La. La. La. I’m not listening! La. La. La. La. La.”

I do learn quite a bit about America while making Fox News a part of my daily news consumption. Rachel Maddow asked a pertinent question on her program just last night that might be answered by watching Fox News programs. Maddow (for whom most Fox News viewers unload the most venom) led her show with the horrifying hate crime that occurred this past weekend in Kansas. The killer is a radical white supremacist who shares history with other conspiracy enthusiasts whom regularly consume a massive amount of available right-wing propaganda. She connected this killer with the Tsarnaev brothers, who performed the horrific Boston Marathon bombing a year ago. These brothers, likely Islamic jihadists, possessed quite a bit of right-wing, conspiracy propaganda, found in their living space. Maddow exposed a fact of which I was unaware: She cited a New America Foundation comparison; there are more right-wing radical terrorist-caused deaths in America than Islamic fundamentalist-caused deaths, by a 34-to-21 ratio. She asked, “Why are we so willing to not be afraid of the threat of right-wing extremism in this country?…Why are right-wing American terrorist attacks treated as the acts of one-off whackos that are a surprise every time and indicative of nothing larger than the individual threat posed by an individual kook, when other forms of terrorism engender not just a bigger reaction from us as a nation, but a more radical and systemic response as well?” I can answer her questions (and I assume she could also): Right-wing propaganda has become too thoroughly embedded within our American culture, and a large percentage of Americans approve right-wing extremism within their journalism. We can find evidence by switching over to Fox News, where Sean Hannity continues to advance right-wing agenda.

Sean Hannity has focused much of his attention the past few days to a Nevada rancher named Cliven Bundy, who has organized a contingent of armed radicals who oppose the federal government, and Hannity seems to endorse the suggestive threats by the rancher, the show of force against Obama’s government, and the possibility of violence where real people are injured or killed, whether it be federal officers or the gatherers who stand with the rancher. Across this sordid story’s exposure (and not just on Hannity), there have been calls for local sheriffs to engage and disarm federal agents forcibly, governmental conspiracies of a diabolical solar plant construction plan on the federal land, predictions of surprise midnight raids, and a suggestion by one of the protestors, a former sheriff, for placing females at the frontline to expose the fraudulent government as the vile killers they are. Last night, Sean Hannity, always ready to poke a bear with a stick, repeatedly suggested to Bundy and family members that government agents might want to harm or kill these people in their sleep…and what were they going to do?! Hannity coyly feigns sympathy and safety while coming right up to the line of promoting violence and resistance; a better right-wing extremist mouthpiece cannot be found outside of Sean Hannity’s Fox News studio.

I watch Fox News because I think it’s important to regularly expose this counterfeit news network. It’s important because our country is being persuaded fraudulently. It’s important because we need to promote peace instead of violence in America. It’s important because America deserves better, informed objective journalism. It’s important because Fox News tends to focus our attention on things that are irrelevant for improved discourse (for example, we might want to collectively pay attention to Russia and Eastern Ukraine; it might be more important than cattle-ranchers in Nevada).

Finally, it’s important to be aware of how many citizens point to Fox News as their primary educational news vehicle. If your neighbor is watching Fox News and you are not, then it stands to reason that the schism of opinion in this country will only widen further.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

Those Who Can, Teach; Those Who Cannot, Shame

It was a fine Saturday morning. I had taken care of some chores: the gutters were clean, the dishes were washed, and the porch had been swept. I was feeling pretty good about things when I decided to flip on the news to check the state of the world.

I should never underestimate the power that Fox and Friends possess to ruin an otherwise glorious morning.

In California, two truancy officers decided to shame 34 students who were not graduating by publicly naming them, ordering them to stand in front of others, and humiliating the students for their non-compliance. This Saturday morning, Fox and Friends decided to ask the question of whether it was a good or bad idea to shame students for purposes of education.

Fox and Friends’ answer follows in line with most of the network’s tactical answers: Of course, it’s okay to shame students…how else are they supposed to learn? (Other than, ya know, teaching them, with knowledge and information and stuff…this seems right in line with how most of Fox News’ reporting operates: ridicule instead of facts.)

They invited motivational idiot, Larry Winget, to share his perspective. Winget doubled-down on the humiliation tactics of the two California truancy officers. His stance seemed to emulate the same methods that King Joffrey used to shame his uncle, Tyrion Lannister, on last night’s episode of Game of Thrones.

Winget dressed-down the 34 students and praised the school officials. He called the students “losers.” He said he was sick of school officials having to apologize to kids for their own “bad behavior.” He assumed the kids were not smart enough to graduate because they didn’t do the work. His take is that the students should have been humiliated, and he “hope[s] their feelings were hurt really bad.” (Winget, as such an educated speaker and writer, should know that the correct adverbial use is “badly.”) Tucker Carlson giggled like a school-age child during this tirade and said, “I’m so enjoying this. Keep it going.”

Referring to the truancy officers’ method, Winget asked the inane question, “What did it hurt?” I recently wrote about two student suicides at Lake Central High School. There seems to be quite a bit of confusion when student suicides occur, and the question always seems to be “Why do they do it?” I think there is a related answer to both these questions, and they share the consequence of this practice of school shaming.

Winget also knows who to blame for these students’ behavior: parents!…the most popular answer to all that ails us in our beautiful country…according to Fox News, anyway. Winget wants to “call Momma an’ Daddy out.” Winget’s Daddy woulda had a “come to Jesus talk” wit’ him! Apparently a parent’s job is to shame his kid into becoming a good American, since most of the Fox News nation advocates such tactics. I wonder how many of the parents of those 34 kids watch Fox News….Do we really believe that there is some magical parenting formula that produces children who graduate? Can we acknowledge that there are some parents who try and fail at raising “good” children? Would humiliating the parents, along with their children, really solve the issue of creating successful students?

This Fox and Friends panel’s conclusion: When you shame students, humiliating them “with their tail between their legs,” these students will redouble their efforts and graduate because they cannot stand the humiliation…or they will drop out of school and open meth labs (Thanks for the input, Tucker Carlson! Never mind you perpetuate an “either/or” fallacy.). Winget’s final summary: If it’s good for just one kid, then this whole shaming tactic will be worth it! (…and the rest of the kids be damned! No need to wonder why there are so many impoverished members of our society! Our jails are plenty big enough for all of the losers! It was all worth it for that one go-getter that learned because of shaming!)

If you haven’t figured it out, I think this news report is a bit short-sighted. Shaming children does not seem to be a good teaching pedagogy OR parenting strategy. I remember reading something about the failure of negative reinforcements in behavioral psychology….

I decided to do a bit of research on the practice of school shaming this weekend. As a teacher, I’ve never found it to be a valid method to induce student participation, and I’ve avoided shaming students to the best of my ability. As a parent, I certainly have never found shaming my kids to be beneficial for their upbringing. I find it hard to believe that this practice of shaming is widely implemented and embedded within our American education system…

Boy, with all of the educational mistakes I have witnessed in my career, you’d think I would have prepared myself to be disappointed by now. Do teachers routinely shame students from sexual intercourse with kinesthetic methods? Check. Do administrators shame females by attacking their clothing and enforcing dress codes? Check. Do students use social media to shame victims of sexual assault? Check. I even found an instance where a principal forced two boys who were fighting to hold hands in front of the student body while the mob was encouraged to sling homophobic slurs at the two boys! (Thank you, Professor Francine Jewett, for the share.)

I try to effect change in our education system, but it seems of little consequence when placed against the social media generator at Fox News. When blowhards like Larry Winget are allowed to inform millions about how to best educate children, it does a disservice to good social norms. Fox News grossly affects our social attitudes, and our education system is a favorite target. As a single voice against the Fox News reporting machine, all I ask is that you consider the perspective of an educator over that of a motivational speaker or journalist: shaming students doesn’t work very well at producing successful graduates, retaining students, or producing good American citizens.

As for my fellow educators who endorse the practice of shaming, all I can think to do is shout with rage, in my best shame-inducing voice, “What the hell is wrong with you?!! You should know better.”

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

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Climate Change: An Appeal

I stated in my introductory blog that authority figures want to dumb-down the citizenry of America. More evidence of this has presented itself over the last five days. Two reports have been released, and Americans are expected to selectively believe one as true, and the other, false. Both reports are lengthy and thick, so it is assumed that most will not have the time or wherewithal to complete a reading. Even though the internet makes such examination possible for the average citizen, journalists and politicians know that they can shape the story to best suit their purposes because most people seem to want someone else to read it for them.

The first report was released last Thursday by Chris Christie’s state-funded attorney firm. The report does not contain testimony from the primary members of the Port Authority or Christie’s cabinet who were involved in the Bridgegate scandal. Christie and his attorney have suggested the report completely exonerates Christie, even if it is an incomplete investigation. Within the report, we do find further evidence of Christie’s bullying tactics, subjective identification of the aforementioned participants, and appeals for confidence in Christie’s word. The report would not hold much water in a court of law, yet it is well-authored for the court of public opinion. Everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Joe Scarborough fall all over themselves to proclaim Christie’s innocence. The summarized public response to this report: “Let’s just forget about this silly little traffic snafu and move on…there are other, more important things to consider…like a Republican Presidency.”

The second report was released yesterday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, commissioned by the United Nations as an impartial, scientific, non-partisan examination. It has been endorsed by the majority of countries of the planet Earth, and it is based on objective data and scientific scrutiny. It concludes that our climate is changing, and the world, not just America, will experience an increase in average temperatures, volatile weather patterns, rising sea levels, agricultural devastation, economic repercussions, and increased human death. Whether human intervention can reverse this trend is debatable, but certainly possible, if we take steps collectively to reverse our environmentally-disruptive outputs. The report concludes that climate change results from human industry and manipulation, emphatically.

Here in America, we are coerced to believe this report is false, that climate change is a political issue, and therefore, not happening: “It’s ridiculous. Let’s just forget about this silly, little global warming joke…there are other, more important things to consider…like how to make more money off the Earth’s resources.”

I justifiably blame Republicans. They have participated in a propaganda campaign to smear any credibility for which proponents of climate change might possess. They have contributed to the lack of intellectualism aimed at this important issue at nearly every turn, especially during Barack Obama’s tenure as President.

Republican members of Congress interfere with bills that endorse clean energy, reduce emissions, or interfere with the operation of existing fossil fuel industries. They attempt to pass legislation that would censor further scientific study into climate change. The scariest day may be yet to come: Republicans might gain control of the Senate during this year’s mid-term election, which would allow them less interference for opposing climate change, if (or when) they retain control of the House of Representatives.

Fox News cannot let a day go by without slamming climate change as a false allegation. Just last night on the Hannity show, panel members managed to insult climate change supporters while discussing the missing Malaysian MH370 plane. If I didn’t find it so repulsive, I might admit a certain artistry for how Fox News programs are able to spin their theories. Then again, it’s easiest to utilize fallacy, instead of validity, when creating argumentative claims.

I hold Fox News responsible for quite a bit of this distortion, as they retain so many loyal followers who parrot nearly every claim they are shoveled. This past winter, I experienced a version of the following conversation a number of times:

Me: Boy, this is one helluva winter! I can’t wait for this to be over.

Loyal Fox News Watcher: You said it! I guess we can stop worrying about this climate change issue.

Me: What was that?

Loyal Fox News Watcher: I said we can forget about global warming! You see how freaking cold it is out there!

Me: You do understand that the severity of this winter is likely a result of climate change. The turbulent weather patterns have increased wind velocities, most likely creating a wind-generating vortex over the area of the Arctic and Canada. Chicago is actually one of the few spots in the Northern hemisphere that isn’t experiencing an increase in average temperature, probably due to the massive fluctuation with the planet’s weather patterns.

Loyal Fox News Watcher: What the hell do you know? You’re not a scientist.

Me: Says who? Science involves observation and theorizing based on objectivity. Haven’t you noticed how we’ve had record snowfalls and temperature changes this season? Don’t you remember the record heat we experienced last summer? Are you aware that a sustained drought is taking place in this very country? Don’t you remember what happened to the New Jersey shore last year? Have you noticed that England experienced catastrophic flooding this winter, or record snowfalls in Japan, or tumultuous rain in Colorado, or freak snow accumulation in the Middle East, or record heat in Australia, or…[cut off]

Loyal Fox News Watcher: Boy, you need to read your Bible…or better yet, watch Fox News. They know how to handle sissy, tree-hugging, liberal hippies like you.

I leave these conversations frustrated. I admit I am concerned. I have children, and I hope to have grandchildren someday. I would like them, as well as every other child, to live on a planet that is not rapidly become unstable for human life. Thus, I am forced to appeal to some different factions involved about the issue of climate change:

Appeal to supporters of climate change—Bill Maher, on his HBO show Real Time (broadcast March 21st) has got it right: we have to stop “believing” in climate change. Climate change is happening, and the planet is in danger. The objective report released yesterday should not only be propagated as authentic, but it should be used as objective evidence to anyone who states the contrary. Stating that we “believe” climate change is true plays right into the hands of those who want to play a juvenile game of back-and-forth, stalling for time until it is too late to actually intervene. It is true and factual. Promote it as such, and maintain the strength of your conviction.

Appeal to Republicans—America is one of the biggest producers of environmentally harmful emissions and one of the greatest contributors to the planet’s changing climate, if not the biggest and greatest. Do your due diligence as elected representatives of an electorate that faces imminent danger. Money is not as important as human life. Becoming rich is not the American dream; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is, as written into our Declaration of Independence. Sustaining corporate interests should not be a priority; sustaining human life should be. Stop opposing scientific evidence. Stop interfering with policies designed to slow environmental warming. Do not wait until cities like New York, Boston, and Miami are partially underwater. Do not wait until our food supply has been spoiled. Do not wait until human beings die because of the changing climate. Address climate change as legitimate and work toward rectifying the consequences. Do it now.

Appeal to Fox News—I do not anticipate a sympathetic ear at this organization, but here goes: Stop generating propaganda opposed to climate change. Your viewers are obviously receptive and sensitive to what you say. Understand that climate change is not a political issue. You do harm to our country when you rigidly ascribe to your current ideology concerning climate change. There is not an ounce of uncertainty when you oppose climate change, and you cannot be certain about this issue. I imagine that your media machine would stubbornly deny climate change even if American cities found themselves underwater. I am willing to compromise with you. I will admit that President Obama has made mistakes. I admit that our government could better address the national debt problem. I suppose the Affordable Care Act could just as easily fail as succeed at reducing the cost of healthcare. Though it would be difficult, I would be willing to genuflect before the all-knowing, almighty Sean Hannity and proclaim him as the authority on all things political and otherwise…whatever it takes to get your network to stop besmirching every legitimate climate change argument. Just stop already.

Appeal to Americans who are uncertain about climate change—Please stop remaining complacent about climate change. If we choose to remain ignorant about climate change, then we can all assume responsibility when we reach a point of no return. Our planet’s climate is changing, and human society is responsible. Educate yourself about climate change. Stop dismissing it as someone else’s problem. It is not just an American problem; it is an issue for humanity. I provide links for the UN news and IPCC report here with the hope that people might peruse them:

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47471&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=#.Uzr4EW0o6Uk

http://www.un.org/climatechange/blog/2014/03/31/ipcc-report-severe-and-pervasive-impacts-of-climate-change-will-be-felt-everywhere/

http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/report/final-drafts/

http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/

Please, please, please…with sugar on top…please consider saving our planet.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}