Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rush Limbaugh Article Shows Wikipedia's Conservative Bias


I will give the conservatives credit for one thing: they are simply more aggressive than liberals in fighting for what they want.

We all saw this during the 2000 election. Mobs of GOP thugs ferociously fought for George W. Bush, while the Democrats passively sat around, waiting for the phone to ring.

We've also seen this with the Democratically controlled Congress since 2006. Despite facing a White House occupant with approval ratings in the toilet, the Democrats seem impotent and unable to truly challenge Bush and force an end to the disastrous Iraq War.

The GOP's tendency to fight tooth and claw for what they believe in extends to the popular online Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Although Wikipedia is open to edits from anyone and everyone, a casual glance at the site's political articles reveals a distinct right-wing bias.

How can this be?

It's because conservatives are simply more aggressive and are willing to spend the time and effort into putting a right-wing slant into Wikipedia's articles.

I first noticed this trend a year ago. I was casually browsing through Wikipedia and I came across the main article on Bill Clinton.

Out of curiosity, I did a search for how many times Osama bin Laden appeared in the article. Although Wikipedia is an organic entity and articles change, day by day, on that particular day, bin Laden's name was mentioned 26 times in Clinton's article.

I then did a similar search on the main article for George W. Bush. The number of times bin Laden's name was mentioned: a grand total of zero.

I brought this topic up in the "discussion" area of the two articles and the problem has since been rectified.

But I'm sure my experience is not unique for anyone who has spent any time, browsing through Wikipedia's articles.

There is a definitely right-wing slant to most politically oriented articles at Wikipedia. And personally, I think it's simply because the right-wingers are more aggressive in their efforts to edit the site.

Many of these right-wingers apparently spend countless hours on Wikipedia, carefully sanitizing the articles of their heroes. A current case in point: Wikipedia's main article on Rush Limbaugh.

Anyone who has paid any attention at all to the news lately is aware that Limbaugh is currently in hot water over idiotic remarks he made on his radio show on Wednesday in which he called service members who oppose the war in Iraq "phony soldiers."

It's probably one of the biggest controversies of Limbaugh's career (in a career that has been full of controversies from idiotic, bigoted, racist comments Limbaugh has made over the years).

But while Limbaugh's comment has created a firestorm of controversy, you can't read about it on his Wikipedia article. Although one contributor added the "phony soldier" episode to Limbaugh article on Friday, it was promptly deleted by another contributor, who explained his move by saying, "one out-of-context quote is definitely not encyclopedic," (an explanation, by the way, that reflects Limbaugh's own back pedaling attempts to distance himself from his idiotic remarks).

Although Wikipedia features fluid, dynamic content that can change at any time, the "phony soldier" comment has been absent from Limbaugh's article since Friday (even as it has become one of the most-discussed stories in America everywhere from workplace water coolers to the media to the halls of Congress).

But my point in writing this piece isn't necessarily to take Wikipedia to task for having a right-wing slant in its articles. Rather, I would hope that Liberals and Independents (as well as any fair-minded, intelligent, rational adults) get busy and not allow the Bush-loving NeoCons to turn Wikipedia into an online version of AM hate radio.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Jena Case Shows How Racism Is On The Rise In Bush's America


The Jena case shows how racism is alive and well and on the rise in America. And it's clear that the policies of George W. Bush are to blame.

There have been many troubling signs that racism has been rising in the past few years. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where this latest wave of bigotry emerged from----but I think one ominous sign occurred when Bush was campaigning for president in 2000.

If you recall, during the campaign, Bush made it a point to stop by Bob Jones University, where he praised the officials at that school (which incredibly still had a ban on interracial dating). This, no doubt, played real well to the "I don't want my white daughter dating a Negro" racist crowd---but the rest of us were shocked and appalled.

And although we were dismayed, we really weren't surprised. After all, anyone who has followed Bush's career certainly wasn't surprised by the Bob Jones University episode.

Those of us here in Texas remembered all too well the shocking 1998 lynching of James Byrd, Jr. which occurred when Bush was governor here.

In 1998, Byrd was chained to a pickup by three white supremacists and dragged to his death in the town of Jasper, Texas.

In the aftermath of the Jasper lynching, a grass-roots effort in Texas urged the state to pass a hate crimes act to help prevent future atrocities. However, the bill failed to pass in the Texas Legislature after Bush refused to support the bill.

Since the Supreme Court appointed Bush to the White House in 2000, he has presided over a rising wave of bigotry and racism in America.

Indeed, Bush and the rest of the NeoCons have exploited the issue of racism and turned it into a valuable wedge issue to capture the votes of millions of angry, frustrated white males in our society who feel victimized by affirmative action and "political correctness."

The fact is, bigotry sells in America today. It's the reason talk radio's Neal Boortz can have a lucrative career after saying that Rep. Cynthia McKinney "looks like a ghetto slut." It's the reason that CNN's Glenn Beck can get away with calling the predominately African-American victims of Hurricane Katrina "scumbags."

In Bush's America, African-Americans are incarcerated at vastly higher rates than whites. Studies show that black people get much harsher prison sentences than white people for doing identical crimes. Blatant racism permeates our justice system, our legal system, our schools---in fact, every American institution. And let's not forget the 2000 election, in which hundreds of thousands of black people were denied the vote.

The appalling plight of poor black people in Bush's America was briefly brought to white, middle-class America's attention during the Hurricane Katrina crisis (but I doubt it came as much of a surprise to black people across America). And I doubt
the Jena case comes as much of a surprise to any African-Americans who have lived in Bush's America the past 7 years.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cornyn Watch: Senator Protecting Us From MoveOn Traitors


It's so damned comforting that Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, took the initiative in guarding our republic from those slimy traitors at He could perhaps have been doing other things, like figuring out how to get U.S. troops out of this quagmire of a civil war in Iraq. But he has his priorities. Defending a man of impeccable truth such as Gen. David Petraeus just had to go on the senator's front burner.

For those who hadn't heard or read, the Senate this week passed a symbolic resolution, 72-25, condemning the "General Betray Us?" ad that MoveOn put in the Sept. 10 edition of The New York Times. Cornyn was the sponsor.

At a time when there are U.S.-sponsored mercenaries killing people in Iraq, a federal investigation into alleged gun-running by the same organization, and a general collapse of the situation there, it's reassuring that the senator is so determinedly standing up for America and supporting our troops -- well, at least those above the rank of full colonel who toe the party line.

I note again that the senator is preparing to stand for re-election next November. How could Texans imagine voting for anyone else, with things going so splendidly?

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hillary Has Returned Hsu Money; When Will Bush Return Enron Cash?


So Hillary Clinton has decided to return donations linked to disgraced fundraiser Norman Hsu.

OK, good: that was the right thing to do.

And while we're on the topic of campaign donations, I have a question for the Republicans.

When will George W. Bush return the $1.14 million that his campaign received from Enron?

You remember Enron, don't you? It was only the most evil corporation in the history of American capitalism (and that's really saying something).

And while it's unclear exactly what Hsu ever got for his efforts to raise money for Clinton, it's quite clear what Enron got in return for the cash it gave Bush.

For a start, Enron got a seat at the table to meet in secret with Dick Cheney to help plan the country's energy policies. Bush also went to bat for Enron and fought against federal price caps that allowed Enron to price-gouge millions of energy customers in California, a fiasco that nearly bankrupted that state. As a result, Enron reported increased revenues of almost $70 billion from the previous year.

As Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) put it, "senior Enron executives were enriching themselves at the same time that Enron was lavishing large campaign contributions on President Bush and the Republican Party and apparently influencing the administration's energy policies."

The whole sordid Bush/Enron saga is way too sweeping and complex to go into detail here. But suffice it to say, the entire rotten mess towers over the nickel-dime, chump-change Norman Hsu affair.

And, unlike the Hsu case (which was quite limited in its impact), the Enron affair ultimately was very costly to millions of ordinary Americans. These ranged from shell-shocked California energy customers to thousands of screwed Enron employees, who were forced to invest their retirement plans in company stock that plunged in value even as top executives were raking in millions by cashing in their shares when Enron stock was at its peak.

The MSM held Clinton's feet to the fire until she decided to return the Hsu donations. Now, will the pundits demand that Bush return the $1.14 million that his campaign got from Enron?

Friday, September 07, 2007

What Ron Paul Should Have Said At The GOP Debate


It's not surprising that a debate under the auspices of Fox News would be hostile turf for the Republicans' sole presidential candidate who opposes the Iraq war. But I think even U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was taken aback by the shivs that were being drawn Wednesday night in New Hampshire.

Being an old night-shift, burned-out journalist, I was stuck at a desk and didn't get to watch the debate live. But I read the accounts, and Paul apparently did an OK job of defending himself. But there's so much more he could have said in rebuttal.

The sharpest exchange of the night may have come not between Paul and one of his rivals, but between Paul and Fox News propagandist Chris Wallace, one of the "questioners." The Associated Press reported that Paul:

... made the case for withdrawing troops. That drew a sharp challenge from Chris Wallace ... who asked whether the United States should take its marching orders from al-Qaida.

"No! We should take our marching orders from our Constitution," Paul shouted back, pointing his pen at Wallace for emphasis. "We should not go to war without a declaration" by Congress.

That was a fair counterpoint, but it could have been much better. Paul may have been taken aback by the impudence of the questioner, who seems to have learned right-wing distortion tactics at Sean Hannity's knee. And in the heat of debate, sometimes one doesn't think of the right thing to have said until later.

It seems to me he should have said something more like this:

"No, Chris. We should take our marching orders from the American people, who in polls oppose continuation of this war by 65 to 70 percent. But you miss another crucial point.

"Al-Qaida wants the U.S. to stay in Iraq. There's nothing we could do for the next few years that would be more to their advantage. Sure, let's squander tens of billions more dollars, and thousands more American lives, on a civil war that we're inflaming rather than resolving. Let's deplete our military capability to act against terrorists elsewhere in the world, where it might actually count. Let's just flat-out 'break' our armed forces, when you come down to it. Osama bin Laden must be laughing gleefully in whatever hole he's hiding in.

"We're doing damage to our national defense, and to our reputation in the world community, that will take at least a generation to repair. If you want us to take marching orders from al-Qaida, by all means, let's 'stay the course.' "

Just as my own aside to this, it looks increasingly like the U.S. is being led into what amounts to rope-a-dope. Old-time boxing fans, what few of you are left: Remember Ali vs. Foreman, October 1974, the "Rumble in the Jungle?" There's no way a frightening puncher like the 25-year-old George Foreman should have lost that match to a 32-year-old, somewhat over-the-hill Muhammad Ali. But he was overconfident, showed classic hubris -- and lost entirely on tactics.

Not that the geopolitical/military situation is that simple. But I think there's a telling analogy there. If you're wearing yourself out beating on an opponent, and yet he's still there, inviting you in for more, you're probably doing something wrong. It's time to step back and rethink this.

Anyway, Ron Paul hasn't been acquitting himself badly in these debates, but I would take a different tack if I were him. Not that it's very important to me. I obviously want a Democrat to win next year, or I wouldn't be writing on this blog.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

If It Feels Good, Suppress It: On Neo-Prohibitionism, Why Republicans Can't Be Openly Gay, And Such


There's a severely conflicted quality about right-wingers on the issue of pleasure. No one else is supposed to have any. Actually, they themselves aren't supposed to have any, either. But, they cheat. Then they feel guilty and beg God to forgive them. Then they do it again. And so on.

I'm not going into anything detailed here about Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality, although I think there's a connection. I don't have enough hours in psychology to expound upon that much-debated 1950 study, and it's been almost 30 years since I read it and wrote a required term paper.

I am going into general, personal observations -- everybody has those and something else. Right-wingers seem obsessed with sex and intoxicating substances -- obsessed with anything that will make you feel good temporarily. They don't want people to have free and open access to those things. And yet, they seem to have just as much trouble with that stuff as we left-leaning libertines do, and maybe more.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, has brought this to wide attention lately, as did former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., a while back. An amusing memory comes to mind. A Republican lawyer ex-friend told me back in the early '90s that Republicans don't go into politics for the sex, because there isn't much action for them. If I were still on speaking terms with him, I'd like to reprise that discussion. And -- back then we were talking about the "hetero" action, a la Bill Clinton.

I grew up in a time of false hedonistic promise -- in the late '60s, the mantra was, "If it feels good, do it." Forty years later, I realize that a society ultimately can't function that way most of the time. Work must be done. Faith should be shown to life partners. It's better to be sober in many situations.

But, there are times when it seems like a bit of transient pleasure is the only reason to be alive.

Since the '60s, the overall society seems to have moved sharply the other way, toward broad repression of anything that feels good. The sanctions typically run against anything any individual likes, even on their own time and with their own money.

It has been the political right wing that has mostly led this neo-prohibitionist, neo-Puritan crusade. And yet, ironically, it's largely their Washington icons who are being caught with the Blackberry messages and playing footsie in the stalls.

I'm a diametrical opposite of these Republican reprobates. I have no secrets. Back in the old days, I inhaled, among other things. I drink alcohol and enjoy good cigars. But, I've been married to the same woman for 22 years, and before her there were just a few steady girlfriends with whom I very sorrowfully parted. I guess I'm ultimately too square to understand the urges that compel some among us.

But, this seems all the more reason to chill out and not judge. I very strongly disagree with Larry Craig's political views, but I am unconcerned about how he spends his spare time. He says he's not, nor has he ever been. But even if he is, that's the least of my worries. Hell, let him start the first Washington chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, if he wants.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.