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Media Vultures and Rev. Wright

Democratic Voices

Posted: May 13, 2008 7:18 p.m.
Updated: July 14, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Most parents will recognize a common excuse used in childhood: "Johnny told me to do it." And the parents' rebuttal, "If Johnny told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?" This lesson is usually lost on the young child, but it manages to sleep within his consciousness until he is old enough to understand its wisdom.

Now that the talking heads on 24/7 news outlets have a new victim to slay - Barack Obama via his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright - people are suddenly questioning the patriotism of Wright and the common sense of Obama. Without doing an ounce of investigation, otherwise intelligent people are ignoring their conscience and mouthing carefully selected sound bites that malign the reputation of another.

How can anyone measure the scope of a person's life through the carefully selected pulp that has been transmitted across the public media? If you generally listen to the Pied Pipers of deceit and assume that what is portrayed ever so cleverly in the media is the whole truth, may I suggest that you do your own research and check out the facts before you cement your opinions about others. In other words - don't follow Johnny off the cliff!

There are certainly elements of truth in the Rev. Wright's sermons that are disturbing, but when they are taken out of context, his entire message is lost. When Wright alludes to the historical abuses of American policies, he isn't speaking unpatriotically. The historical past of any country is filled with acts that often contradict its ideals of justice and good will. However painful, adults must come to grips and learn from the lessons of history. Ignorance of the past will not help us resolve the complex problems society faces today.

Wright is an educated man, an ex-Marine, and past Reverend of Trinity Church in Chicago. His work as a minister and community leader inspired others to aid and assist the underserved in his community. He embodies the Christian ethic of ministering and aiding the helpless and hopeless, but realizes that people with other spiritual convictions also elevate the human condition.

Wright speaks his mind, but he is not, nor has he ever been, the spokesperson for Barack Obama. Unfortunately, in the world of politics, fair play is quickly swept away in a wave of misinformation, disinformation, and lies. Playing dirty and kicking sand in the opponent's eyes is accepted because winning becomes the Holy Grail of achievement.

Learning that things are not always what they appear to be is an important lesson. How often do you feel that you're being duped into believing half-truths and downright lies? In the world of the never-ending political cycle, most of us have felt manipulated by political pundits, polls, and gossipmongers.

I'm beginning to believe that there are those who can sniff out vulnerability better than a vulture. Predators and carrion are essential creatures in the animal world, but we are human beings and we can act from a higher impulse.

I, for one, am sick of the endless tirades about perceived or actual weaknesses of political candidates. Every candidate has his or her unique biography that includes strengths and weaknesses. I want to hear what the candidates stand for, what practical ideas they envision for positive change, and how their policies could begin to rectify the gaping social inequities, mounting debt, crippling violence, and frightening degradation of our environment.

For instance, the basic necessities of life, food and housing, are so expensive that more and more young people are living with their parents for far too long. Middle-aged adults put off retirement and senior citizens worry about the costs of rent, food, and medications.

The cost of gas goes up every week, yet there are no smart energy policies currently being enacted. When both parents work to stay afloat economically, how do long hours in day care impact the well-being of children and the cohesiveness of the family?

These concerns are only the tip of the iceberg. Our next president needs to address the high cost of health care, the outsourcing of American jobs, the crumbling infrastructure in our cities, and the poverty, violence, and hopelessness that plagues so many communities.

While the problems on the domestic front are severe, the scope of worldwide concerns is even gloomier. I do believe that there are those who hate American policies and are actively pursuing ways to harm us. I also believe that America is still seen by many as the land of opportunity.

I also know that questionable international policies made by past and present administrations have led to some of the problems we are now facing. Whether you call it "blowback" or unintended consequences, America's past and present support of corrupt dictators, dismissal of corporate malfeasance, and continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan are tearing apart the social fabric of this country and fading the belief that America honors its ideals of democracy and justice.

The last eight years of Bush's economics, war policy, and compassionate conservatism have been a disastrous failure. Bush's tax policies have assured that the wealthiest 1 percent have faired beautifully during his reign. In 2001, the net worth of the wealthiest 1 percent was $186 billion dollars. In 2008, it has skyrocketed to $816 billion.

While the number of billionaires has increased four-fold, the median, pre-tax household income went from $49,158 in 2001 to $48,201 in 2008. Minimum wage earners earned a whopping $12,168 in 2007.

Productivity of American workers has increased 18 percent during Bush's eight years, but the number of manufacturing jobs has decreased. What has gone up in the past eight years are the number of people living in poverty, the cost of food, gas, and housing, and most telling, consumer debt. With credit card companies relentlessly marketing their products, it should be no surprise that American consumer debt has jumped to $12.8 trillion.

The discrepancy between America's highest paid and the rest of society fuels resentment and anger. Corporate profits have continued to escalate during the Bush years, from $719.2 billion in 2001 to $1,769.6 billion in 2008. Yet Bush and McCain want to make permanent the tax breaks to the wealthiest individuals and corporations.

With the possibility of a never-ending war in the Mideast and the steady growth of domestic problems, I think it's time for Americans to demand an election cycle that addresses these issues. I want candidates who will aspire to goals that bring out the best and the brightest in all of us.

Leigh Hart is a Santa Clarita resident. Her column reflects her own views,and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" appears Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among several local Democratic activists.


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