Do You Hear What I Hear? FEAR.

Do You Hear What I Hear? FEAR.

“the angel said unto them, Fear not…” — Luke 2:10

Three years ago this week, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, after a week of stonewalling, responded to the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school with a diatribe designed to activate America’s threat-center while short-circuiting logic and higher moral reasoning.

This brand of fear-mongering propaganda, which is incessantly amplified on Fox and right-wing radio as well, has worked not only to stymie any Congressional action to prevent gun violence but also to keep guns flying off the shelves as millions of people are kept in a perpetual state of paranoia and fear.

Watch our video and contribute today to help us expose the NRA’s cynical strategy and to reclaim America’s brain from the fear profiteers:

During the Holidays, as we reflect on the fragility of life and how fleeting is our time here on Earth with the ones we love, our hearts are opened to what is truly valuable and meaningful.

If we are to carry that spirit into the New Year we cannot allow voices dedicated to poisoning the better angels of our nature to go unchallenged.

Please consider a donation to help us expose their cold-blooded campaign to profit off of fear and violence.

What are you doing for Carl Sagan Day this year?

What are you doing for Carl Sagan Day this year?

At HearYourselfThink, we’re doing a science book drive for kids for Carl Sagan Day 2015!

You can be a part of it by sending your new or very gently used science-themed children’s books to:

The Hear Yourself Think Project
PO Box 116
Ambridge, PA 15003

Or order your books online and have them sent to us. Here are some sites I found that have a good selection of quality books.

Books will be distributed by us in the community on Novemeber 7th at pop-up locations where we will spread the good word about Sagan Day (which is November 9th) and allow kids to pick their own books. Any books remaining or ones that arrive after the 7th will be donated to Reading is FUNdamental in Pittsburgh.

Carl Sagan

One of the greatest gifts adults can give — to their offspring and to their society — is to read to children.

Carl Sagan

RIF not only allows kids in need to select books of their very own but has teams of dedicated volunteers who read to children in their communities.

We think an important way to honor the life and legacy of Carl Sagan is to make sure that children are exposed to plenty of books that will spark their curiosity about the natural world and inspire a life-long love of science and discovery.

So don’t wait! Send your books today and help us spread the word far and wide about the #SaganDayBookDrive.

Trump: The Avenging Asshole

Trump: The Avenging Asshole

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Idiocracy

It’s tempting to say that Donald Trump’s grotesque political ascent in the GOP presidential primaries represents the hostile take over of reality by Reality TV.

But Roger Ailes had already accomplished that with his own Reality TV news network which ex-Reagan advisor, Bruce Bartlett, concludes has been so successful at blurring the line between fact and fiction it’s led millions of its ardent viewers down the road of ideological self-brainwashing:

What this is then is the story of Trump: the Asshole Avenger.

The Right’s propaganda machine has spent 30 plus years indoctrinating Americans that Rich = Right. That thinking is for elitist fauntleroys and REAL AMERICANS go with “the gut” uber alles.

Of course, introspection, empathy and higher moral reasoning were given the bum’s rush along with civility, the social contract and basic human decency.

And so enter the Avenging Asshole; the Trumpenstein Monster; Trumpzilla; the Conqueror Id. How great is it that his name is Trump?

He got the memo alright that all of this is supposed to be about a right-wing agenda to decimate Democrats and amass political power for Republicans.

He just doesn’t give a fuck.

The only agenda that matters to Trump is the one that gazes back adoringly when he shaves every morning.

Trump is the crack version of “the Fox formula.” He’s distilled it down to its most volatile concentration of arrogance, petulance and unabashed asshole-ism, and the Fox heads cannot get enough.

They don’t give a damn — in fact they celebrate — that Trump sticks it to Fox and other Republicans.

They’ve been trained well by Ailes and Limbaugh. They know that the biggest asshole in the room is always right.

From McCain to Santorum: The Brainwashing of the Electorate

From McCain to Santorum: The Brainwashing of the Electorate

Remember back in 2008 when John McCain found himself face-to-face with a victim of Right-wing media brainwashing at a televised Presidential campaign event in Minnesota?

“I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh — he’s an Arab.”

McCain seemed stricken by the human tragedy of what the fear and smear messaging blitz targeting his opponent had done to a gullible mind. It was commendable that he debunked the woman’s befuddled xenophobia and tried to gently guide her back to the general vicinity of reality:

“No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

McCain seemed to have a hard time forgetting not to tell the truth on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, too. Here he is accidentally agreeing with John Murtha that racism was a factor in the 2008 election:

How did Rick Santorum respond when he recently found himself in a situation similar to McCain’s? Did he demonstrate the same basic decency?

Check out the video of Santorum and his interlocutor at an event, hosted by Washington Times and Townhall columnist Frank Gaffney and come to a fair and balanced conclusion for yourself. Be warned, this video contains truly mind-ripping levels of shrill, paranoid crazitude:

Did you hear what I heard? I heard a deeply disturbed individual going completely unglued and unleashing a tirade of lunacy that included birtherism and the bizarre assertion that President Obama attempted to drop a nuclear weapon on Charleston, SC.

“Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago and the three Admirals and Generals. He has totally destroyed our military. He has fired all the Generals and all the Admirals who said they wouldn’t fire on the American people if they ask ’em to do so if he wanted to take the guns away from ’em. This man is a Communist dictator. We need him out of the White House now.”

After listening, somewhat antsily, to the whole thing, Santorum responds that she should not blame him for not addressing her crazy train of issues because he’s not in Congress now. The assumption being, if only he were still in Congress, he’d be all over her batshit laundry list like tinfoil on Alex Jones’ pointy little head.

Rather than making any attempt whatsoever to defuse the time bomb of sick, twisted madness ticking away inside her addled cranium, Santorum instead lends credibility to her ravings.

“I’m not a sitting member of the Senate, so I’m not taking blame for any of that stuff,” … “But you hit on one point to which I absolutely agree: this is a complete lack of leadership.”

In the course of her word avalanche, the woman also talks about bringing the same concerns to Senator Ted Cruz who, unsurprisingly, did not disabuse her of any of it either, but counseled her to focus on the next election when a President Cruz could presumably tackle the issue of Obummer’s real birth certificate along with his gun-grabbing, Confederate state-nuking, tyrannical immigrant-aiding crusade.

What has the right-wing propaganda machine wrought? Any shame (or at least, politically induced worry) about how large segments of the Republican Party base has dangerously succumbed to media brainwashing techniques has gone out the window.

The sad and scary fact is, the line between the brainwashees and the brainwashers is getting blurrier all the time.

It’s Ba-aa-ack! The Return of the 90’s style Clinton-Hit-Machine

It’s Ba-aa-ack! The Return of the 90’s style Clinton-Hit-Machine

Suddenly right-wingers are in love with the New York Times AND government regulations.

The New York Times handed the right-wing media attack machine a big, yummy early Easter egg with their journalistically challenged report on Hillary Clinton’s use of private e-mail as Secretary of State.

The article was heavy on suggestion but unclear to the point of misleading on whether Ms. Clinton had violated any laws when she forwent a government account and opted for a private system which she used for all official business.

Since then other outlets have attempted to fill in the gaps in the Times report and the consensus is that no laws were broken.

The law pertaining to use of private e-mail that the Times report seemed to be referring to (again, the report was indefinite) was not in place until over a year after Clinton left her post at State. The Times has since come back to say they were referring to other statutes, but if that’s the case, why were they not mentioned specifically in the original reporting?

Colin Powell also used private e-mail during his tenure as Secretary of State but I don’t recall any outcry then. Maybe the Times was too busy at the time churning out false reports on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction that had the effect of helping the Bush administration mislead the nation into war.

It’s not that issues around the use of private e-mail by high-profile public officials aren’t worthy of attention and that concerns around transparency and national security are not involved. They are.

The problem is that the Times’ vague and misleading report raised more questions than it answered and was more about insinuation than facts and hard journalism.

As a result a picture was painted that was a perfect Rorschach, in which the right-wing media smear machine could project all its paranoid conspiratorial imaginings while being able to point back to the alleged credibility of the Times to bolster its case.

But we should not by now be surprised to see the “lame stream media” acting as an amplifier and enabler of Fox/talk radio-style faux journalism. In 2013, 60 minutes’ Laura Logan interviewed an “eye-witness” to the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, whose testimony was then trumpeted by Fox and the rest of the echo chamber as validation of their conspiracy theories and political talking points. 12 days later, CBS was forced to pull the report when serious issues became known concerning the credibility of their source’s claims alleging to be a witness of events that night. In other words, he lied on-air and CBS broadcasted his lies after failing to do due journalistic vetting beforehand.

This is what is so disturbing and dangerous: it seems we can no longer grapple with real issues in the way that is necessary in a democracy because everything becomes fodder for the conspiracy mill of the right-wing media fear & smear machine.

Meanwhile, mainstream outlets that should know better, and that should have the integrity and skill to do better, are more and more succumbing to the paradigm of sensationalism, cynicism, and misinformation that haunts our politics and culture like a curse.

The result is commentators like Bill O’Reilly who, when revealed to be a serial liar, is shielded from consequence because his ratings remain high, reporters like Lara Logan who is given a few months off to let the dust settle before taking up where she left off at CBS, and the New York Times which is now refusing to address the glaring journalistic deficiencies of their “Hillary-gate” reporting.

Fear Goes Viral: Deranged Demagogues and the Epidemic of Ebola Scare-Mongering

Fear Goes Viral: Deranged Demagogues and the Epidemic of Ebola Scare-Mongering

Eric Duncan has passed away in a Texas hospital from the Ebola virus he contracted in Liberia. Two health care workers have tested positive for the disease after an apparent break down of protective protocol for hospital staff attending to Mr. Duncan in his final days. The CDC warns that more health care workers who treated Mr. Duncan may  be at risk of having contracted Ebola.

Meanwhile, the 48 other people that Mr. Duncan had contact with, before it was belatedly realized that he was infected, have continued to be monitored but have exhibited no symptoms of the disease. A deputy sheriff who came down with a fever after spending time in Mr. Duncan’s apartment tested negative for Ebola.

The Ebola outbreak in Texas, while obviously very troubling, in no way poses a panic-worthy threat to the United States and the chances of contracting the disease remain very low. That’s not the impression you would get, however, from much of the media coverage in the country.

Ebola is not an airborne virus, but the media airwaves are being infected by an epidemic of fear, lies and sensationalized misinformation that is transmitted into the homes of millions of Americans.

A well informed and coolheaded citizenry is an essential line of defense against the spread of infectious disease. Panic, misinformation, groundless fear and reckless rumors are the enemy in this fight and must not be allowed to take root in the public imagination.

Distinctly culpable are the bottomlessly irresponsible demagogues of the right-wing-media-noise-machine, whose very reason for existing is to create a self-perpetuating media bubble of hyper-politicized misinformation.

Just as a virus uses the normal functioning of the organism to carry infection and corrupt the health of the body, media demagogues infect the free flow of credible information — the very life’s blood of a democracy — with rhetoric, conspiracy and propaganda designed to inflame the fear centers of its victims and undermine reasoned response.

Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham — along with Fox — have dropped the most bottomlessly irresponsible, intellectually unhinged and morally bankrupt ravings imaginable right into the middle of a public health emergency.

While doctors, scientists and officials are working to maintain public calm and to disseminate facts, they find themselves drowned out by a deluge of noise and nonsense.

Politicizing, distorting and demagoguing on issues where the public understanding requires calm, clarity and trustworthiness are nothing new for the microphone-wielding miscreants of the right-wing echo chamber, but they have now rampaged over a line that must not be crossed.  They cannot not be ignored, denied or tolerated in this regard.

It must be said, directly and firmly, that the monsters of the right-wing media scare machine, in that they traffic in fear and inflammatory misinformation, are the enemy in this fight.

Laura Ingraham, aside from her gigs as radio host and Fox commentator, is also on the payroll as a contributor with ABC News, thus adding a veneer of mainstream credibility to her campaign of malignant misinformation.

Major news organizations, which seek to maintain their credibility and good name, should not be providing journalistic cover for inflammatory and hyper-politicized misinformation which endangers the public health and safety.

You can sign our petition here calling on ABC News CEO, James Goldston, to remove Ingraham immediately.

It has long been obvious that Fox “News” is not news at all, but rather a misinformation machine that exists to promote a political agenda. There is a substantial and growing body of empirical evidence that confirms this truth.

Right-wing, Tea Party politicians who have made a career of amplifying Fox/talk radio misinformation should do the right thing and step up now to condemn the politicization of the Ebola outbreak by these outlets.

Keith Rothfus is the representative of PA Congressional District 12 where I live in Beaver County. Mr. Rothfus has been endorsed by the “Tea Party Express” which itself has been heavily promoted by Fox and right-wing talk radio. At the endorsement rally in Boyce park in 2012, the event MC, Sean Hannity radio fill-in and Fox panelist, Rose Tennent joked with the crowd about the Obama-birther conspiracy as Mr. Rothfus stood by casually, waiting to be introduced.

Many of us are not laughing. Manipulating peoples’ fears and prejudices for financial and political profit isn’t my idea of yuks. And playing around with a public health crisis is my idea of evil.

There comes a time when you have to say, “Enough.”

We should all contact our members of Congress to tell them to publicly call on Fox to stop their hyper-politicized, misinformation campaign on the Ebola outbreak.

It’s going to take a ground swell of public outrage and revulsion to change the course of extremist media in America.

A massive political propaganda operation sewing the seeds of mass panic cannot be allowed to go on disguising itself as a “news” source. But it will unless we push back.

Look up your representative and Senators here: