Thursday, August 17, 2017

Words that Defile - but it's not about race

The nation has begun to display a collective shudder of recognition as it continues to reflect on what Trump has said, from the start of his campaign until now, on so many subjects, about so many people, in so many ways:  he is the person he always appeared to be; we thought it was just a show.  It’s hard to understand, but some continue to defend him saying, “well, they’re just words, it’s the way everyone talks, it is’t what he really means.”  

They aren’t just words.  It isn’t the way everyone talks.  Words carry real meanings and reveal real truths about those who utter them.  Jesus reminded his followers of that when he said, ”…It’s what comes out of the mouth that defiles [a person]… evil intentions, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.” (Mark/Matt.)  What we say can bless or curse, defile or sanctify, build up or tear down.  Words are powerful, and Trump has used them as blunt weapons to assault others in every conceivable way, not only now, but throughout his career. 

It should be a surprise, but it isn’t, that there are two common moves to deflect the power of Jesus’ words when people don’t want to hear them.  One is to assume the role of self righteous judge pointing fingers at others, especially those who can be accused of lascivious things like adultery and fornication.   There’s nothing like a harrumphed tut-tut and tsk-tsk to keep attention focused somewhere other than on one’s self, with the added benefit of implying moral superiority.  Jesus condemned exploitation and oppression, but it seems he had a soft spot in his heart for some people whose sex life was suspect.  He didn’t approve, but he didn’t condemn.  Go figure.  St. Paul seemed to understand it well when, in his letter to the Romans, he offered up an even longer list  of what can defile, and then warned the self righteous not to be quick to judge because they do the same things.  The point they both make is that being self righteous is not a solid rock on which to stand.   

The other deflecting move is to admit some small degree to guilt, but quickly point to others with a, “Yeah, but what about them?”  Trump is a master of the move, and those who continue to support him follow with their own versions.  Sure, he may have said something inappropriate, but they were just words, and besides what about (Insert name of your choice).  If you can’t think of one, Clinton always works.  If nothing else, bring up Benghazi, although that one’s faded to almost nothing. 

No!  This is not about what somebody else said or did.  This is about what Trump has said and done, and it’s important because he is the 45th president of the United States.  For that reason only, what he says has deep powerful meaning.  But for that he would still be a floundering, blowhard, celebrity t.v. idol pawning himself off on a gullible public.  That’s what he was.  Now he’s the president, and what he has said and continues to say is a constant stream of words that defile, curse, and destroy.  It ought not to be.

What about my words? Are they words of defilement or blessing?  Are they words of deflection?  They could be, but they aren’t.  They’re words of observation and description about what should be obvious and taken seriously.  There are plenty of skeletons in my closet if you want to pry, but I’m not the president, he is, and that’s important.  Pay attention to what’s important!

With that, a few of my conservative friends will undoubtedly say that I’ll end up making this about race.  Of course not.  Shocked, I say, shocked, that you would even suggest such a thing.  It may have to do with people who resented a competent black man digging us out of an economic hole when it should have been Ronald Reagan.  Failing that, it may have to do with the illusion that even Trump would be OK as a successor, as long as he was male, white and appeared to be rich.  But certainly, and by all means, it’s not about race, or gender.  No, not about gender either.   Perish the thought.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Standing with Jesus against evil

The events in Charlottesville have elevated an issue that has been festering a long time.  Amidst the political discomfort that now blankets the nation, Christian pastors have tried to navigate a middle course, proclaiming the gospel without meddling in affairs many parishioners consider to be none of the business of clergy or church.  That’s especially true in my community.  The dominant political ethos is conservative, and public discourse exhibits a subtle distrust of people who are “not like us.”  That’s just the way it is, neither good nor bad.  Let’s face it, that’s the way it is everywhere, even in places on the other side.  But when white supremacists, Nazis and their relations gain enough footing to absorb the evening news, pastors can no longer walk the tightrope.  They must stand.  Duck and cover is not an option. 

White supremacy and Nazisim express not one set of ideologies among others to be treated with equal regard.  Our constitution may give them the right to be heard, but they are ideologies of demonic evil, intolerable to our Lord Jesus Christ.  We would be failing in our duties as his disciples not to speak out.  As it is, I cannot speak for others, only for myself, but I speak as one who follows Jesus as best I can.  

When Martin Luther King, Jr. was tossed into the Birmingham jail many years ago, he wrote a long letter to the local clergy.  Most of them had urged patience, noting that there was a certain amount of misbehavior on both sides, and maybe now was the not the time to confront segregation in ways that invited more violence.  King chastised them with strong prophetic words.  When was the right time to stand against evil, if not now?  When was the right time to stand for Jesus Christ, if not now?  When was the right time to risk more violence from those whose evil ideology was based on violent suppression of others' freedom, if not now?

The events of the last week speak for themselves. Now is the time to stand against evil.  There are not two sides to be carefully evaluated.  There is one side that is both un-American and counter to everything Jesus stands for.  Indeed, they are near cousins to the forces that crucified him.  That counter demonstrators may have behaved badly also does not make things equal.  One side would destroy the highest ideals of our nation in the name of demonic evil.  The other, however stumbling, would defend our highest ideals.  Whether Christian or not, they follow, however poorly, the fundamentals of his teaching.  

What teaching?  Jesus dedicated his life to breaking down barriers that separate us from one another.   Healing and reconciliation was what he was about.  He made it clear that we are all created in God’s image, that none are deputed by God to be superior to others, and that God is not shy about condemning those who would twist it to be understood otherwise.  He taught not as another wise teacher, but as the very word of God.  It’s not up for debate.   As an old hymn proclaims, “In Christ there is no East or West, in him no South or North, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth.”  We may not see the fullness of it yet, but it stands as our beacon guiding the way.

Jesus stood with courage in the face of the evil he met each day.  He stood especially tall in the presence of evil represented by the rulers of the land, even at the cost of death itself.  As Christians, we proclaim that, in his resurrection, he defeated both death and the ideologies of the rulers of his day.  White supremacists and Nazis are not our rulers, but they would like to be, and they are adept at spreading their poison whenever they think they have a chance to do it.

Jesus defeated them on the cross and at the empty tomb , but they have a way of raising their heads from time to time to see if a comeback is possible.  It took a world war to quash it last time.  We cannot let that happened again, and not in our country.  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Christianity for Curious Nones

It seems to be cemented into our brains that getting in good with God is hard, that we have to do special things in special ways or miss out altogether.  That goes for believers and non believers alike.  God, as we know him in Jesus, doesn’t work that way.  So how does God work?  In what way do we see it demonstrated in the life of Jesus?

There’s a story told about Jesus walking on water.  People can’t walk on water, you know.  Anyway, he walked out to a boat where his disciples were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, a very large lake in northern Israel.  All but one of them thought they were seeing a ghost, which, in those days, was more common than it is today.  That one was Peter, who thought he recognized Jesus, and called out, “Hey, if it’s really you call me to get out of the boat and walk to you.”  So Jesus did, Peter got out, began to walk, and sank like a rock.  People can’t walk on water you know.  Anyway, Jesus grabbed him, pulled him up, and said why didn’t they both get back in the boat. 

Now the rest of the disciples were used to seeing Jesus heal people, and say profound things about love, but this was something new, unexpected, and unexplainable.  If this isn’t enough to make the story hard to swallow, it was a dark and stormy night of violent waves and fierce winds.  The disciples were exhausted and afraid.  What could possibly happen next?  Jesus told the waves and wind to settle down, and they did.  Good grief!  What could they say except “You must be a son of God.”  Now Jews, they were all Jews, did not believe in a son of God, but there were lots of sons of gods in the mythology of the religions that surrounded them, so it was a reasonable thing for them to say.  Are you buying it yet?  

For Christians, it’s not that hard because we understand Jesus to be the manifestation of God in human form, or, as we prefer to say, the Word of God made flesh.  For others, these kinds of stories seem too far out to be of any value, and that’s a mistake.  Whether it happened that way or not, the story says a great deal about what it means to come to God, or have God come to you.  

Some people are called by Jesus to get out of the boat and come to him.  There is always the possibility, maybe probability, that doubt and insecurity will result in sinking fast, but if Jesus called, Jesus will pull them up and lead them on.  It may still be a dark and stormy night, the outcome yet to be determined.  That’s the way life is.  In Jesus’ company it doesn’t matter.  All will be well  The ancient martyrs being led away to their execution knew that, and lived into it.  The same is true of modern martyrs.  Think of MLK’s mountain top speech as one example.  When Jesus calls someone to follow him, every bad thing that can happen loses it’s power because they have entered into a greater, more authentic reality.

If there is a test to pass, it is to recognize the authenticity of Jesus’ call, and get out of the boat.  However, not everyone is called that way.  Most of us stay in the boat. Why?  Because we weren’t called to get out of it.  And here’s the curious thing; confused, afraid, full of doubt, unable to understand, battered by the storms of life, Jesus comes anyway, gets in the boat with us, and all is well, no matter how it turns out.  I suppose we could yell in disbelieving fear, “No, No, get out of here: you’re a ghost, we don’t want you, go away!  it’s probably what he would do – go away.  Jesus doesn’t force his way into anyone’s life.  The disciples didn’t do that because Peter, brave, impetuous Peter, had answered the singular call, and verified for them that this really was Jesus, so yes, they were more than relieved for him to get in the boat with them.  

It often takes a Peter to lead the way to recognizing Jesus, however sinkingly incompetent he or she might appear.  Only a few are called, like Peter, to get out of the boat.  Most are called, in a sense, to stay in the boat.  Jesus will be there either way, so don’t worry about it.  Yes, but, how is one to know if Jesus is really calling?  Good question.  Here’s the only answer I have.  Many years ago I was doing some work in northern Minnesota on questions about forest management.  Driving into a birch and aspen grove, I asked my guide how to tell the difference between them because they all looked white to me.  “If you wonder whether it’s a birch,” he said, “it isn’t.”  The brilliance of a northern Minnesota birch leaves no doubt about it.  If you wonder, it isn’t.  That’s a lot like a call from Jesus.  If you wonder whether it is or not, it isn’t.  The important rule is to stay in the boat.  That’s where you’re supposed to be.

Doesn’t that make those in the boat second class disciples?  Who wants to be second class?  No it doesn’t.  Jesus is fully present either way.   The big question is, are you in the boat at all, because on that dark and stormy sea, there is no other boat?  But don’t go all exclusive about that.  It’s a big boat, and if you look around you will probably see others you always thought didn’t belong, and never would have been invited aboard.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Correcting Human Defects – Designing Human Perfection

Genetic modifications to human embryos in laboratory settings have set off quite a conversation.  Mysterious to me, it appears to have to do with finding ways to correct harmful aberrations in frozen sperm or egg cells, which can then form embryos without defect.  It seems like a good thing.  If you know ahead of time that a sperm or egg cell has a significant defect, and it can be fixed, wouldn’t you want to do it?  We’re still in the early stages of  discovery.  The answers are not yet clear.  The questions have not even been well framed.  

Sperm and egg cells are not potential persons.  Moreover, most frozen embryos created in the lab will never be implanted in a uterus with the possibility of growing through gestation to birth.  They are not life, but potential life, although that is hotly debated.  Nevertheless, there is some remove from whether the same could be done for sperm and egg cells joining to create embryos conceived in the normal way.  There is an even greater remove from whether today’s experiments will lead to “designer babies,” although tabloid type sensationalization loves to leap in that direction.    

It is precisely in this time of lesser and greater ‘remove’ that ethical and theological questions need to be explored in a more public way, made understandable to a broader segment of society, including people like me for whom the biology of it is well beyond my ken.  A brief essay such as this can open one door for that to happen, but many more doors need to be opened, and more qualified voices need to lead us through the conversation on the other side.  If we can do something like this, should we?  It’s a relatively new question. 

Not long ago most human lives were “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  Thomas Hobbes may have been writing about what he thought the natural condition of humanity was before the mediating force of government stepped in, but he wasn’t far wrong about the ordinary lives of the people of his time.  Then the question was different.  If it was possible to do something to make life better, it should be done.  Who would argue with that?  But in 1651, when he wrote those words in the Leviathan, there were few tools available to make life better.   Charles Dickens published David Copperfield in the late 1840s.  By then parliamentary government was well established, science had made huge strides, the industrial revolution was well underway, and the new experiment in American style democracy was about to be tested in a great civil war.  Conditions were changing, but Dickens catalogued the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short lives of ordinary people that had endured.  His stories begged for something to be done, if it could be done.

The next hundred years brought acceleration of change in the human condition with enormous advancements in public health, nutrition, medicine, and universal education.  Add to that changes in laws on child labor, working conditions, weekends, food and drug safety, universal suffrage, and life for most in the West ceased to be solitary, nasty, or short.  Poor became relative to extraordinary increases in wealth for many; what was once normal behavior became brutish in the eyes of society and the law.  Life really was better.

The prior question also changed.  It was no longer, “if we could, we should.”  It became, “we can, should we?”  Should is a word requiring an ethical answer.  Is it right?  Is it good?  What is right?  What is good?  When?  For who?  Under what circumstances?   They aren’t easy questions to answer.  If we can modify frozen pre-embryonic genes to correct defects, should we?  If we can modify in utero embryonic genes to correct defects, should we?  For that matter, what is a defect?  What if we could modify embryonic genes to enhance human potential, should we?  What are the ethical answers?  

Ethical answers depend on your starting point.  Different people and different cultures start in different places.  Christians have no choice. They must start with Jesus because Jesus is the voice of God him/herself.  One way or the other, what is right and good must be consistent with the standards made known to us through Jesus.  There’s just one big problem with that.  Jesus never said anything about genetic modification of embryos.  Can what he said about healing, reconciliation, forgiveness, and love be of any help?  Theological discourse is all over the place about how to understand questions like these from a Jesus centered point of view.   Most dangerous among them are those who are certain they speak for God.  Right behind them are those who think God has nothing to say.  Both are wrong.

What can we say that might be useful?  We can say life is precious to God, more precious than we can imagine.  If we know nothing else about Jesus, we know that he healed all who came to him.  He did it without concern for who they were or what they had done.  Life in all its fullness, not only in the hereafter but here now, is a blessing God desires us to have.  We can also say that God rejoices in creation’s diversity.  Persons considered defective by others, and denied full participation in life, were warmly embraced by Jesus, who treasured them.  What we call death, he calls new life.  What we reject he accepts without condition.  What we condemn he reconciles and blesses.

From that we might consider that we don’t always know what life is.  We are not competent judges of what defective is.  What is good and perfect in our eyes reveals its hidden brokenness to Jesus.  What appears to us an aberration is to God a new creation.   It doesn’t mean we should not repair brokenness in sperm and egg cells.  Repairing brokenness is a Christlike thing to do.  It does mean we should be cautious in judging what is broken and what is not.  It also means we should avoid our own attempts at designing enhanced human perfection because we are so bad at knowing what that means.  One need turn no farther than the last several decades of experiments on  athletes with human growth hormones to see how badly we can mess things up in our search for engineered perfection.  Greed, pride, and lust lead us as easily as Mephistopheles led Dr. Faust, with the same results.  Most important, we must avoid making self righteous judgments about what is right, wrong, good, and bad because self righteousness stems more often from the comfortable social ethos of our surroundings, and less often from what Christ taught.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Open Letter to McMoRo in WA 5

Dear Ms. McMorris Rodgers:

Your most recent letter and request for funds arrived in today’s mail.  In it you assert that “unrepentant liberals” are intent on destroying journalism, denying your party legislative success, and threatening the very foundations of democracy.  Wow!  But wait, that’s not all.  Their news outlets, and you say most media are theirs, print and broadcast “fraudulent news.”  Well, as you also say, it’s not going to happen on your watch – a watch that has been going on for ten years.  You are superb at watching.  Doing is another matter, but watching, that you do better than anyone. 

You have said, and say again, that you and Trump are tight, with a proud record of astounding successes for which you are given little credit.  What are they?  By your own account, you’ve taken first steps to get rid of Obamacare and put health care back to where it used to be.  That it would remove many thousands of your rural constituents from health care coverage is apparently something to be celebrated.  Equally apparent, the senate, troublesome folks that they are, failed to go along.  Tsk tsk.

You’ve passed medical liability reform, which you claim is the single biggest driver of health care costs.  I assume you mean the “Protect Access to Care Act,” which limits plaintiffs to a maximum recovery of $250,000 in actions against services provided through Medicare and Medicaid.  Tort reform has merits, especially for ObGyn practitioners, but few observers have noted health care costs being driven mostly by the cost of physicians’ liability insurance.  We thought it also had something to do with lack of ability to negotiate drug costs, the distortions caused by fee for service billing, excessive use of E.R.s by the uninsured, and the like.  

You’ve taken pride in rolling back hundreds (really, hundreds?) of Obama era regulations that protected consumers and the environment, on the grounds that they have stifled job creation and innovation: that in the face of eight years of intense job creation and innovation.  My goodness.

And, you’ve repealed parts of Dodd-Frank, that silly law holding banks accountable for their actions.  You say it will help community banks do more business.  Ah, it's music to old J.P. Morgan’s ears.  He would be so proud of you.  Remember how he claimed to have engineered both panics and recoveries, making money on both ends?  

Here we are, with you as our m.c., in this great big fifth congressional district of Washington that stretches hundreds of miles in every direction, nearly all of it rural, much of it poor by the usual standards.  On our behalf, and proudly so, you have supported policies that would impoverish more, enrich few, and put all at greater risk.  With consummate skill, you’ve sold them as blessings to those most in need of blessings.  Outstanding!  Well played!  Oddly enough, you will probably get reelected because there are enough voters who truly believe you represent their best interests, there are enough voters who have become discouraged about voting at all, and there are not enough voters who pay attention to the issues to recognize how much damage you have tried to inflict on your constituents – so far with limited success.  May it continue to be so.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Climate of Power is Changing

A frequent letter writer to our local paper is consistent in his certainty that the climate is not changing, or is changing within the context of normal climactic cycles extending over the eons.  He is equally consistent asserting that humans have nothing to do with it.  He’s not alone, but his fellow true believers are small in number, and growing smaller, finding themselves in company with young earthers, flat earthers and their ilk.  There is something to be said for a man willing to stand defiantly alone in an unfriendly crowd.  Great leaps forward in humanity’s ascent have come from courage  like that.  But not always.  Sometimes they have been the last man insisting that Copernicus was wrong, cars would never replace horses, Malthus was right, etc.  It’s a long list.  I suspect he is among them, at least on this issue.  

What bothers me more is his apparent indifference to the suffering and damage already caused by a changing climate, and his dismissal of actions that can help prevent more suffering and damage.  In that, he is not alone.  Indeed, he is amid a multitude.  Among them are those who claim moving away from reliance on fossil fuels will cripple the economy.  It’s a double sin.  On one hand it shows a heartless disregard for human suffering in favor of economic profitability for a few.  On the other it fails to recognize where economic opportunity is heading.  The future of economic growth is precisely in the direction of new technologies applied to energy production and distribution, not just here but all over the globe.  They are changing almost as fast as the climate, and with them the possibility of doing something useful to mitigate climate change suffering and damage.  That should be celebrated and encouraged. 

Our local letter writer can’t see that.  He worries about economic damage caused by shutting down carbon heavy industries in favor of new age fads fighting a climate change battle he  believes doesn’t exist.  He has a point, or at least a half a point.  When infrastructure changes in dramatic ways, there will always be economic dislocation.  An electrical system that relies on central generating plants feeding into a nation wide grid of towers, wires, substations, and all that is needed to operate and maintain it, is a big economic player.  As the nation weans itself from total dependence  on it, companies will have to shift, downsize, reorganize.  It’s already happening.  In 2015, two years ago, there were more jobs in the solar power industry than there were in either traditional electricity or coal.  Both of those were in years long decline, while solar and wind were in years long growth.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has data you may find interesting.  Look it up. 

What is true for electricity is also true for petroleum.  It’s not going away, but with a growing market for all electric and hybrid cars, improved gas mileage, and renewed interest in plant based packaging, gas and oil demand is likely to decline, and perhaps stabilize.  That doesn’t mean an end to it.  Old systems never go away altogether.  Even the Erie Canal has found new uses.  Horses still roam the countryside.  The railroad is still in business.  My Subaru Outback has years of life in it.  None of it is going away forever, but change driven by concern about climate change, new economic opportunities, and a desire to reduce dependency on centralized power sources, mean economic dislocation for some.  It’s a reality of life in a world of rapidly changing technologies.   Dislocation in one area means relocation in another.  It’s not a zero sum game.

I’ve tried that line of argument in coffee conversations, and got nothing back but blank stares of incomprehension.  It comes from a combination of skepticism about the volume and acceleration of climate change, disbelief that small changes made locally can have an effect on a global problem, and anxiety about the impact of old jobs declining in the face of increasing demands for mysterious, poorly understood new jobs.   Consider what happened when cars and tractors became common.  Demand for stables, farriers and blacksmiths declined.  Demand for gas stations, garages and mechanics increased.  Something like that is going on today at a more complex technological level. 

Maybe it would be more persuasive to try another tack, one that appeals to our shared values about responsibility, accountability, and stewardship.  Look at it this way, our island home, careening through space in the company of its life giving sun, is the only one we have.  At no other time in it’s long, long history has it been populated by enough people with enough technology to do it great harm, or to care for it as responsible stewards.  Originating with the industrial revolution and advances in human longevity,  it’s something new in the last two hundred years of its four and a half billion years of existence.  Suddenly, we have before us the possibility that we humans can so abuse our home that it will become uninhabitable – for humans.  With or without us, the earth will go on.  Which it will be is up to us. Climate change skeptics could use their gifts of skeptical reasoning in more constructive ways that may contribute to the well being of us all, and even more, to the well being of those yet to be born.  In like manner, those who are concerned about economic good times should stop defending a dying past, and turn to a future in which the economy can do well while doing good.  Finally, we all need to recognize that the accumulation of small steps taken locally all over the globe add up to major shifts on a global scale.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Imitation Political News: Progressive Edition

Let’s talk a little about imitation political news.  It’s not fake news.  Imitation political news is the presentation of verifiable events, exaggerated out of proportion to their importance, through formats intended to look like authentic news sources.   

Fake political news is crafted out of whole cloth, or bare smidgens of truth, and not all of it is Russian made.  Fake political news is usually fed into the media mainstream in hopes that some gullible reporter or editor will pick it up.  It’s hard core propaganda, and, if done right, very effective.  

Imitation political news is, for lack of a better term, soft propaganda.  It’s not often fed into the media mainstream, but prefers its own outlets made to look like mainstream media.  It takes real events, often of little importance, and manipulates them to look like something of great importance as a way to influence someone’s thinking.  

There are hybrids.  Think of the magazine rack at super market checkout counters.   Or consider a well known television channel that can give you five minutes of solid news reporting followed by an hour of imitation news, with a few fake news thrown in from time to time.

It isn’t a right wing phenomena only, and that’s what concerns me.   Imitation political news in support of progressive interests is increasingly popular, but it cheapens and jeopardizes serious solutions to serious public policy issues. Some of it comes from well meaning FB ‘friends’ who blithely repost “news” reports without the slightest effort to cite sources or fact-check.  People, listen up, we’re facing issues far too important to mess around with sloppy thinking, and unthinking distribution of misinformation!

Ill informed FB ‘friends’ are one thing, professionally calculated imitation political news campaigns supporting progressive viewpoints are another, and I find them repulsive.  I follow them anyway to see what hurdles they are creating for the rest of us to overcome if sensible solutions to national problems are to be achieved.  Based on the proven format of respected wire service feeds, and old time television infomercials, imitation political news outlets try to look and sound like genuine news sources.  Some have the look of quality online newspaper articles.  Others try to look like big city news channels complete with crawling banners, breaking news, anchors, reporters, and serious images projected in the background.

Three come to mind.  I suppose they think they’re stoking their left wing base, but what base would that be?  I’m vain enough to think most progressives are not inclined to knee jerk reactions, but want solid verification on matters of genuine importance.  There aren’t enough hard core left wingers to stuff in a phone booth, if there were any phone booths.  I do have a couple of acquaintances who live in liberal la-la land, but as naive as they are, they’re serious about their sources of news.  But I digress.  

The three sites  that come to mind are: Opposition Report, Daily KOS, and The Washington Journal.  The last one is a doozy because there is a long running, highly respected public television show called Washington Journal.  This isn’t it.  Going by the name of The Washington Journal, it tries to look like an online newspaper.  It’s articles are generally a day out of sync with mainstream news sources, and are thinly veiled opinion pieces exaggerating some facts, ignoring others, and often focusing on something that can be sensationalized, the more salacious the better.  

Opposition Report posts videos that are intended to look like segments from a real broadcast news show.  Breaking News is their favorite schtick, frequently about something mildly, scandalously conspiratorial that mainline news sources have failed to note.  Stripped down to the basics, it bears a strong resemblance to middle school gossip about who likes who as the foundation for seismic changes in the world order. 

Daily KOS is a collective blog site that looks a bit like a wire feed.  It features opinion pieces dressed up to look like news articles.  Some of them are quite well done, and do take a hard look at real issues.  Most seem to border on the trivial, into which they dive with gusto.

In the unlikely event someone from any of them read this article, I would expect a response of deeply offended, feigned indignation.   And who knows?  Maybe there is a base out there of tea party type liberals who can be incited to vote against anything that can be made to look like a right wing threat.  We shall see.  It’s equally possible that the right wing can use their products as ammunition against progressive candidates and causes.   We can do better.