Podcasts Archives

Shire Network News #92

Shire Network News #92 has been released. The feature interview is with Venezuelan blogger Daniel Duquenal about Hugo Chavez and the way he’s killing democracy. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary segment.

Hello, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to Consider This.

He’s been called a generous man. He’s a patron of the arts. He’s considered by some to be a supporter of life and peace.

He’s also appropriated oil companies for control by the government, closed one opposition TV station and has his eyes on another.

He is, of course, Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela. He may be a man of stark contradictions, but for those on the Left, like Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover and Cindy Sheehan, they are contradictions they can live with; just petty disagreements, really. Surely, the evil oil industry and a couple of media outlets are a small price to pay for the good of the people, right comrade? Or should I say camarada?

Chavez recently managed a stunt that not even Bush or Blair have been able to accomplish. While he won the last election with 60% of the vote, his closure of RCTV, a single act, got 70% of the people peeved at him all at once, rioting in the streets. They’re shocked–SHOCKED–that a socialist leader would shut down opposition voices. That’s never happened before, has it? Well, OK, you can probably name one or two, or a few dozen, but this time it’ll be different. The temporary absolute power given to him by the Venezuelan Congress has just gone to his head for a moment. He’ll be better soon, right?

And over here in the corner of the bookshelf, a history book is crying, “Read me, read me!” One hundred years of socialist and communist history would beg to differ.

RCTV called Chavez a “dictator”. OK now fellas, isn’t that just a little over the top? I mean, technically, Chavez is not a dictator; he was democratically elected. Here’s what Merriam-Webster Online considers a dictator:

1 a : a person granted absolute emergency power; especially : one appointed by the senate of ancient Rome b : one holding complete autocratic control c : one ruling absolutely and often oppressively

So you see, while Chavez may have complete autocratic control, and uses it oppressively against his opponents, he was granted it by the Venezuelan Congress, not the senate of ancient Rome. That make me feel a whole lot better. Nothing to see here. Hey look, a picture of Castro holding today’s newspaper!

The best indication of what is to come came from Venezuela’s Communication Ministry itself. The Inter-American Press Association put out a statement saying that the closing of RCTV would result in “a very bleak outlook for the whole hemisphere.” María Alejandra Díaz, the social responsibility director at the Communications Ministry (who’s motto is, “Shutting down free speech is socially responsible”), asked news organizations to refrain from reporting on the association’s statement, since it could allow viewers, readers or listeners to think Mr. Chavez’s government was “tyrannical.”

Certainly sounds like the stifling of dissent to me, much like what the anti-war Left claims is happening in America. And what do we hear from Chavez’s high-profile supporters now?

>crickets chirping<

Shh, they’re asleep. They’re asleep at the wheel. Don’t they look so cute when they’re oblivious? Back to you, Tom.

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Shire Network News #91

Shire Network News #91 has been released. The feature interview is with Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch, talking about Farfur the Mouse, which is what my segment was about last week. (I got this week off.) Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Shire Network News #90

Shire Network News #90 has been released. The feature interview this week is with filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney, whose documentary, “Indoctrinate U”, examines the extent of political bias in American higher education. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary segment, complete with links.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to Consider This:

Paul Harvey has a phrase he uses to introduce some of his news stories. “Self-government without self-control is self-defeating.” I think that phrase fits quite well with this story.

Earlier this month, the German magazine “Der Spiegel” reported that the Hamas-backed al-Aqsa TV station was broadcasting a new children’s show into the Palestinian territories. It involved an obvious copy of Mickey Mouse, named “Farfur” which means “butterfly”, and a little girl named Saraa, and is called “Tomorrow’s Pioneers”. What brought this innocent-sounding show to the attention of the world was that its two loveable characters were engaged in cutesy things like showing how to hold an AK-47 and inciting violence against Israel and America. How positively charming!

Later on, Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said the program had been yanked and was “under review”. He complained that “some American television stations” were still covering the story after it was supposedly resolved. The mouse, named “Butterfly”, was no longer on the air.

Except that wasn’t the case. Hamas announced that it would defy Barghouti’s request and show the mouse, named “Butterfly”, according to schedule. Barghouti then decided that this “review” would take place on the air, while he watched the show. Recently, Fathi Hammad, Chairman of the television station defended the program saying it didn’t violate any moral or professional standard, and that it would not be withdrawn, nor would its content be modified.

So to recap: Saraa and her friend Farfur the Mouse, or Butterfly, tell kids how Islam will militarily conquer the world, on a TV station owned by Hamas. Israel reacts. The Palestinian government, who’s senior partner is Hamas, says that they’ll take it off the air and review it, while complaining that this is a non-story. Hamas defies its own government and continues to run the show, thus making this non-story a story. The Palestinian government, trying not to look irrelevant, says, “Well, OK, but it’s still under review”, but the TV station continues to demonstrate that the government is, in fact, irrelevant.

Self-government without self-control is self-defeating. And sometimes becomes self-parody.

This isn’t an isolated incident. “The Children’s Club” was another program in this vein, that mimicked “Sesame Street” but included kids shouting for jihad against Israel and one little girl singing, “”When I wander into Jerusalem, I will become a suicide bomber.”

“Hey kids, today we’re going over to the trash can of Schlomoe the Grouch and teach him a lesson. After that, we’ll find our 72 vir…er…playmates.”

And there have been others. If Israel were doing this, there’d be a UN resolution. In the meantime, the mouse called “Butterfly” merrily continues to influence the next generation of jihadis.

I’d have more to say, but I’m currently reading “The Protocols of the Muppets of Zion”, and I’m just getting to the chapter on Miss Piggy. Should be interesting.

Back to you, Tom.

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Shire Network News #89

Shire Network News #89 has been released. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary segment.

Hi, I’m Doug Payton, and this is “Consider This” for Shire Network News.

First off, I’d like to apologize for the sound of my segment last week. I try to make it obvious when I’m quoting someone else by giving it that AM radio sound; a bit tinny. Well, apparently, I accidentally applied that to the whole segment. As an effect, tinny is OK. After a few minutes, it’s grating. Anyway, just wanted to make sure the blame was placed properly. It wasn’t Brian of London’s fault. It was Dick Cheney.

Moving on…

You know how you’re always being told to “vote your conscience”? Well, there’s a coalition of religious leaders out there that doesn’t want you to do that anymore. Well, it’s a religious coalition at least according to Reuters. You know Reuters. “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”? Yeah, that Reuters. I’ll get back to that characterization in a moment, but first, here’s what the group “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice” got Reuters to report.

“With the April 18 Supreme Court decision banning specific abortion procedures, concerns are being raised in religious communities about the ethics of denying these services,” the group said in a statement.

“They are imposing their points of view,” Barbara Kavadias, director of field services for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, told reporters in a telephone briefing.

I have news for these folks. Every decision by the Supreme Court is an imposition on somebody. There are two parties involved, so someone doesn’t get their way. I daresay the KKK thinks civil rights laws are an imposition on them, but I also daresay this religious coalition approves of this imposition of a point of view. Whether or not something is an imposition has no bearing at all on its fitness as a law or a legal decision.

Next we get some serious name-calling and sexism. No proper left-wing rant would be complete without it.

She noted that the five Supreme Court justices on the majority in the 5-4 decision were all Catholic men — Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia.

All were appointed by conservative Republican presidents who oppose abortion, including President George W. Bush.

If this religious coalition were conservative or Republican, this would be hate speech. As it is, they can get away with this characterization.

Basically, they want Catholic men to vote the conscience of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, not their own. But I would point out that the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice does not sit on the Supreme Court. Those that do sit there were appointed by duly-elected Presidents, who themselves were elected by the people. So by extension, you are not allowed to vote your conscience, at least if it is at odds with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

And let’s not forget that this law that the Supreme Court upheld was voted for by 281 House members and 64 Senators from both parties, both genders, and a combination of religious persuasions, who themselves were elected by the people they represent. So by extension…well, OK, you know the drill.

But wait, there’s more! Not only are government officials not allowed to represent their constituents in this matter, neither are private citizens and businesses.

The group also complained about Catholic-owned hospitals that refuse to sterilize women who ask for it, refuse to let doctors perform abortions and do not provide contraception.

“Doctors, pharmacists and nurses are also increasingly exercising a so-called ‘religious or moral objection,’ refusing to provide essential services and often leaving patients without other options,” the group said in a statement.

Catholic doctors and Catholic-owned businesses should not, according to this religious coalition, be allowed to stay true to their religious convictions. Quite an ironic statement to make. If they’re so concerned about this, instead of imposing their views (sound familiar?) on others, they’re more than free to open their own “Abortions R Us” and provide those options. In the meantime, whining about religious freedom doesn’t really give much weight to their views about a court that decides constitutional issues.

OK, so about this “religious coalition”. In paragraph 11 of the story, Reuters finally gets around to telling us the make-up of this religious coalition.

The group includes ordained Protestant ministers, a Jewish activist, an expert on women’s reproductive rights and several physicians.

So we have Protestant ministers (no clue how many), one Jewish activist (so that you can call it a “coalition”), an expert on women’s reproductive rights (again, one, and not apparently representing a specific religion), and “several” (however many that is) physicians (who, again, aren’t representing a religion). Given their group’s name, and how Reuters initially refers to them as a “coalition of religious leaders”, there does seem to be two things at work here. Number 1, there’s a desire for the group to appear as though it represents a broad range of religious beliefs, when in reality it includes only left-wing Protestants and a single left-wing Jewish activist (not “leader”). Number 2, Reuters seems more than happy to promote this misconception until the very last minute, over halfway into the story, just before the point where they start talking about other groups’ reactions to these statements. Nope, no agenda there.

OK, full disclosure. I’m an evangelical, Protestant Christian who finds more in common with those 5 Catholic men than this “coalition of religious leaders”.

Brian, take it away.

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Shire Network News #88

Shire Network News #88 has been released. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary segment. Actually, this is the full text of what I was going to say, until I timed it and it came to over 6-1/2 minutes. SNN commentaries are generally kept to something under 3 minutes, so this one was way too long. As it is, the version I wound up using was still over 4 minutes. Apologies for the lack of humor in what is normally a satire show, but this subject is rather seasonal, and I wanted to make some points during the time of year where folks would be more inclined to really listen to it. Hopefully, the next segment will be less dour.

Hi, I’m Doug Payton, and this is “Consider This” for Shire Network News.

This past week in the US, the deadline came for settling up our income tax bill with the government. Normally, people either fill out their own tax forms, sometimes with the help of computer software, or they take it to a tax preparer. But Jim Geraghty, writing in the New York Sun, reports that John Edwards, Democratic candidate for US President, thinks that the Internal Revenue Service itself ought to be able to fill out your tax forms. Now, in addition to the huge conflict of interest issue this brings up, there are some practical considerations. Here’s how it’s described:

For Americans whose employers and financial institutions send all of their relevant tax data to the government, the IRS would calculate their bills and mail them completed returns, which he called “Form 1.” Filers could sign the form and return it, or reject it and file their own return if they disagreed with anything in the IRS’s calculations. Form 1 would not be an option for taxpayers with more complicated returns.

First of all, the IRS would only be relieving the burden of those with the absolutely simplest returns, and generally those with lower incomes. Sure, no pandering there, right? Secondly, who would pay for this new governmental feature? We would, likely in higher taxes. Even if this was all or mostly computerized, the government is notorious for winding up paying more for stuff than it costs in the private sector.

So now we’d have another income redistribution program of sorts. We’d all be paying an inflated cost for those who can’t seem to figure out what John Edwards admits are the simplest tax situations. This says more about the complexity of the tax system than anything else I can remember. The problem with the tax system isn’t that people who have the simplest situations have to pay others to figure it out for them. The root cause, if you will, is the complexity itself. But Edwards would rather make this onerous tax code easier for you to bear than deal with tax reform. Say, how about we go back to the old Roman empire days when tax collectors just came by and told you how much to pay? Simple, convenient, and certainly free from graft, right? Right?

And then just a few years down the road, of course, we’d hear liberals defending this program as a basic human right. If the government pays for it, we simply can’t do without it.

Matt Stoller, of the left-wing blog MyDD, is quite proud to pay his taxes, whatever the amount. Now in fairness, he, too, doesn’t like having less money to spend and is upset at the complexity. But he’s simply overjoyed to send in that check and calls it “the price of democracy”. Well, nobody’s denying that taxes are the price we have to pay, but let’s not forget that you can be overcharged for things, and that you can be force to buy things you don’t think are helpful to our democracy. Of course, in saying that, I’m proclaiming my hatred of democracy. Matt said so.

The right-wing likes to pretend as if taxes are a burden instead of the price of democracy. And I suppose, if you hate democracy, as the right-wing does, then taxes are the price for paying for something you really don’t want. Personally, I find banking fees, high cable and internet charges, health care costs, and credit card hidden charges much more abrasive than taxes, because with those I’m just being ripped off to pay for someone’s summer home.

What Matt conveniently fails to point out is that costs for those items, even to some extent, health care costs, are all voluntary, whereas taxes are not. You’re not required by law to purchase them. If you decided you don’t want to pay your taxes, however, you’ll likely find your wages getting garnished at best, or find yourself behind bars at worst.

And your taxes can be just as busy paying the mortgage for some bureaucrat’s summer home.

He’s also got a problem with understanding how we ever managed without an income tax.

Patriotism is about recognizing that we are all connected in a fundamental moral and physical sense, that the war in Iraq is our war, that poverty in New Orleans is our poverty, that public funding to cure cancer comes from each of us and not just the scientists who have made it theirs. The tax burden we face is a very small price to pay for the privilege of taking responsibility for our own freedom and our own society. And the hatred of taxes on the right comes from a hatred for this responsibility. It’s childish and immoral and unAmerican.

Yes, we do own all these things about our country, but then how did we pay for the War of 1812, and the Great Chicago Fire, and any of those medical breakthroughs that were discovered before the 16th Amendment in 1913? Truly amazing.

Tariffs were the general means for the government to raise money, and what’s interesting is that the tariff increases for the War of 1812 are credited with the strengthening of US industry. Has the income tax ever really done that? The city of Chicago was rebuilt mostly by private donations from around the nation, as well as business leaders, not government, going around the country getting other businesses to invest in Chicago. Hopefully, it’s obvious to Mr. Stoller that Chicago has indeed come back from that in a big way, and before the federal income tax.

Were these folks unAmerican for working it out for themselves rather than begging from Washington, DC for money? Or is it just right-wing, anti-democratic, unpatriotic and unAmerican to speak ill of taxes, to consider them burdensome? Then we need to consider the folks who said these things and what we should think of them.

“It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part.”

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

“If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds… [we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account”

“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.”

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending,
on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

“The power to tax involves the power to destroy.”

“No matter what anyone may say about making the rich and the corporations pay taxes, in the end they come out of the people who toil.”

I think I’d like to be counted with “unpatriotic”, “unAmerican” “childish” “right-wingers” like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, or Calvin Coolidge, among many others. Yes, democracy-haters all, right Matt? More likely, they had a healthy skepticism of government–any government–and its power to destroy.

Back to you, Brian.

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Podcasting Again

It’s been over a year since I hosted the last Homespun Bloggers Radio, a podcast of the late, lamented blogging group Homespun Bloggers. I was also a sometimes-contributor to the show, and I’d been looking for a opportunity to do that. Hosting took some time, but I figure I could handle a weekly short commentary.

Well, turns out I’m getting the chance. One of the podcasts I listen to, Shire Network News, recently advertised for more contributors since some of theirs were having scheduling issues. I gave it a shot and sent in an audition that fit their style; right-of-center politically with humor rather than anger. Turns out they liked it and actually used it in this week’s podcast, and now I’m officially an SNN contributor, joining Meryl Yourish and another new contributor, Tomer Israeli. I’m honored to have been added and I hope to hold up their standards. (Though if they’ll accept me, how high can those standards be, really?)

Click here for the latest show’s notes and links.

Here at Considerettes, I’ll be posting the complete text of my commentary with links. Well, no links this week, since I didn’t keep track of them since it was just an audition. But definitely in the future.

Hello, I’m Doug Payton, and this is “Consider This” for Shire Network News.

Welcome to a global warming update. We start in the Midwest and quote from an AP story titled “Spring Snowstorm Blankets Upper Midwest”.

More snow fell on parts of the Midwest Thursday, a day after a deadly storm grounded hundreds of flights, postponed a baseball game, iced up roadways and disappointed those longing for the warmth of spring.

“I think we are all cranky about the weather,” said Pat Rowe, spokeswoman for Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, which had delays and cancelations Wednesday.

If this sort of weather makes one cranky, may global warming is just the ticket for a happier world. Forget visualizing world peace, visualize world heat.

And here’s more on that from the Chicago Sun-Times:

April snow’s the worst.

Forget what the weather forecasters said — you didn’t really expect this: a record 2.9 inches of snow, topping the mark of 2.3 inches for April 11 set in 1957.

Traffic was ridiculous, the Cubs were snowed out and the heavy wet stuff brought down power lines and trees across the city.

No, we probably didn’t expect this. But then, that’s what the global warming folks are predicting these days, the unpredictable! You may remember that a trek to the North Pole by Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen designed to call attention to global warming was instead called off when frostbite and unusually cold temperatures put the kibosh on that effort. Ann Atwood, an organizer of the expedition had this classic line.

“They were experiencing temperatures that weren’t expected with global warming. But one of the things we see with global warming is unpredictability.”

Yes, if the weather’s warm, it must be global warming. And if the weather’s cold, it must be global warming. And it we can’t predict it with any certainty at all, it must be global warming. Indeed.

Moving right along to Bismark, North Dakota, the Bismark Tribune notes a record snowfall.

A slow-moving, low-pressure system dumped a record amount of snow on Bismarck and even more on Mandan on Tuesday.

Road superintendent Chuck Morman said snowfall amounts were between 4 and 8 inches in Morton County. He sent out 11 motorgraders on Wednesday.

“We’re not in too bad of shape. It’s been spotty, with drifting in some areas and other areas where the roads were clean,” Morman said. “It’s a normal spring snow in North Dakota, kind of what we usually expect, though usually not this late. I’ve seen this many times in my 40 years with the department. Now, we can let her melt and start spring maintenance.”

North Dakotans are no doubt used to April snow, but I will reiterate that the veteran road superintendent noted that this weather is normal, not warmer. And, more notable, something like this doesn’t normally happen this late in the year. Is this a hiccup or a trend? I guess the fact that I’m asking a question about this, that we don’t know for sure, must mean it’s global warming.

And for those who may say that more precipitation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s colder, let’s take a trip through the southeastern US, where the AP is reporting another global warming disaster.

Heavy crop losses have been reported throughout the Southeast after last weekend’s frigid temperatures, and farmers are bracing for another expected cold snap next week.

In South Carolina, at least 90 percent of the peach crop was destroyed and officials said Wednesday they would seek federal aid.

“This is comparable to a hurricane,” Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers said of the damage to the state’s $40 million-a-year industry.

See? Just as Al Gore predicted more hurricanes from global warming! It’s uncanny! Similar reports have come in from Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and as far north as West Virginia. Pity the poor farmer who has to deal with it.

“There’s not many proactive measures that we have available,” said Larry Yonce, who grows 3,000 acres of peaches in South Carolina each season. “We’re just hoping and praying that temperatures won’t get below freezing.”

Don’t worry, Larry. I hear Al Gore is promising higher temps for the foreseeable future. Except for the part of the future that is not foreseeable. Either way, it’s global warming.

Back to you, Brian.

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