Crank history assault on Alabama Public Television

July 10, 2012

Highly disturbing news from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Alabama Public Television Apparently Heading Far Right

Posted in Extremist Propaganda

by Mark Potok on June 18, 2012

Lord help us. Alabama Public Television (APT), a voice of reason in a state that often seems to have very little, is apparently succumbing to the crazies.

Last week, the two top executives of the network were summarily fired by the Alabama Educational Television Commission, APT’s governing body, after they resisted an effort by a new commissioner to air DVDs produced by a far-right theocrat who has been roundly condemned by historians. In the days that followed, three members of a foundation set up to raise money for APT also resigned.

The videos were produced by David Barton, an evangelical propagandist who claims falsely that America was founded as a Christian nation and has also become Glenn Beck’s unofficial — and completely untrained — “historian.” The DVDs were suggested by commissioner Rodney Herring, an Opelika-based chiropractor who was appointed to the panel last year and elected its secretary in January.

Immediately after meeting in executive session June 12, commissioners ordered APT Executive Director Allan Pizzato and his deputy, Pauline Howland, to clear out their desks and leave APT’s Birmingham headquarters. Pizzato had been APT executive director for 12 years; Howland was his deputy director and the network’s chief financial officer.

Pizzato would not comment on the reasons for the firing, other than to say commissioners were seeking to go in “a new direction.” But Howland, in an interview with Current.org, a news service of the American University’s School of Communication, said that Pizzato and his staff had “grave concerns” about airing the videos, which strongly advocate a religious interpretation of the past that historians say is simply wrong. She said she was “baffled” by the firings but recalled Pizatto asking his staff for advice on how to respond to Herring’s proposal.

Commission Chairman Ferris Stephens disputed Current’s report in an interview with The Associated Press, but gave no specifics. Herring, for his part, claimed that disagreement over the Barton DVDs played an “at best minimal” role in the firings, which he described as part of an overall restructuring effort. “We believe it to be a positive change,” wrote another commissioner, conservative talk radio host J. Holland, in response to AP’s queries about the firings. “Simple as that.”

As simple as that? Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t believe it.

Stephens told the AP that Barton’s videos had been discussed in the last meeting before the one that produced the firings last week. He said there was another item related to Barton’s organization, WallBuilders, on the agenda for last week’s meeting, but that the commission didn’t get to that item before adjourning. Herring, for his part, denied knowing that Pizzato and Howland had any opinion at all about the DVDs, although Howland told Current that Pizzato had made it clear that he thought the films were “inappropriate” for APT.

Why is it that Pizzato and Howland were fired just as the matter seemed to be coming to a head? Why won’t Stephens and the other commissioners cough up the real reason for the firings, if it wasn’t what seems obvious? When the AP story ran last week, Herring was quoted saying the station may indeed broadcast some of the Barton videos. In fact, he said the commission had consulted attorneys about that possibility. That’s a funny thing to do if you’re just deciding whether to show a film on public television, not making controversial personnel decisions.

The sad truth is, this kind of extremism is getting to be par for the course in Alabama. We passed the immigrant-bashing H.B. 56 and, when legal problems with it came up, our legislators responded by actually making the draconian bill even worse. Last month, the same legislature, after the John Birch Society warned hysterically about a United Nations global sustainability plan, actually passed a law saying that property here cannot be confiscated as part of Agenda 21 — even though that entirely voluntary plan does not and could not require that. One of our current congressmen even claimed a few years back that he knew of 17 “socialists” in the U.S. Congress — although, like Joe McCarthy, he declined to name them.

Why does Rodney Herring want to show Barton’s videos? He isn’t saying. But what Barton has to say should make Alabamians’ hair stand on end.

Barton doesn’t only not believe in global warming — he thinks reducing carbon dioxide emissions would actually devastate the planet. Barton fought to have the names of Martin Luther King Jr. and labor activist Cesar Chavez removed from public school textbooks. He says God set the borders of nations, so immigration reform is unnecessary. He argues that homosexuality should be regulated because gay people “die decades earlier than heterosexuals” and more than half of all gays have had more than 500 sex partners — both falsehoods.

It isn’t only liberals who dislike Barton. Derek Davis, director of the J.M. Dawson Institute on Church-State Studies at Baylor University, says “a lot of what he presents is a distortion of the truth.” J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee, says his writings are “laced with exaggerations, half-truths and misstatements of fact.” Mark Lilla, a scholar who has taught at University of Chicago and Columbia University, says Barton’s work is “schlock history written by [a] religious propagandist” and uses “selective quotations out of context.”

But none of this apparently came up when the commissioners, in their great wisdom, decided to fire Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland. Instead, it looks like Barton’s backers succeeded, by a reported 5-2 vote, in silencing their own eminently sensible executives, and then refusing to come clean with the public about their action.

Once again, Alabama will be the poorer. Lord help us.

Supporters of Alabama Public Television set up a website to provide information on the fight to save APT.

David Barton is, of course, the voodoo history promoter from Texas, former vice-chairman of the Texas Republican Party who led the party into a variety of anti-education policies.  Barton’s organization to spread his bogus history claims is Wallbuilders.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ellie.

More:


Fruits of the Republican War on Education

January 16, 2012

You didn’t think it was working already?

This story appeared in the Los Angeles Times, which is why Republicans discourage newspaper publishing, and why they discourage programs to teach people to read well and remember history.

In South Carolina, a discrepancy on federal spending

Campaigning Republicans draw cheers with their calls for cuts to government programs. But the state benefits from such programs to a greater extent than many others.

By Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times

January 14, 2012, 7:55 p.m.

Reporting from Beaufort, S.C.—

When Rick Santorum stood in front of voters at a yacht club in this small town and pledged to slash government spending, especially entitlement programs, Nancy Garvin knew she had found her candidate.

Garvin, 54, said she was sick of seeing government squander money through agencies that don’t do anything, and wants expenditures cut “in half.”

Washington is throwing money away through a lot of wasteful spending,” she said, sitting at a picnic table beneath trees draped in graying Spanish moss.

But Garvin, whose husband, a carpenter, has been out of work for four years, depends on the very government she wants to see cut back. She collects disability insurance — it is what she and her husband have survived on as he’s looked for work. Her mother is on Social Security. Garvin herself used to work as a nurse at a hospital where many patients paid for services through Medicaid, another program using federal money.

Garvin’s views are similar to those of many Republican voters in this conservative state, where candidates pledging to cut government spending were met with resounding applause last week, and where former Gov. Mark Sanford tried to refuse federal stimulus funding on principle.

South Carolina and its residents benefit from government spending, more so than many other states. For every dollar the state pays in federal taxes, it receives $1.35 in federal government benefits. By contrast, California receives only 78 cents for every dollar it pays in taxes.

“We get more back from the federal government than we send in terms of revenue,” said Doug Woodward, an economics professor at the University of South Carolina. “But I’m not sure that a lot of voters would even care if they heard that. When they say they want to see less spending in the state, they’re referring to entitlement programs.”

Much of the money spent in South Carolina goes to the programs that make up a big chunk of the federal budget — defense, Social Security and Medicaid. The state has seven military bases, and received $7 billion in Defense Department spending in 2010. One in five residents in South Carolina receives Social Security benefits — compared with just 13% in California. As an aging state, South Carolina will be more dependent on federal programs such as Social Security in the coming decade, according to AARP.

“People want to see lower government spending, especially on the Republican side,” said Karen Kedrowski, a politics professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. “But when they’re asked specifically about high-dollar items, including Social Security and defense, they are not willing to accept significant cuts.”

Kedrowski’s university recently polled South Carolina Republicans to ask about reducing the deficit by making cuts to government programs: 73% of voters said they weren’t willing to have their current Social Security or Medicare benefits reduced to address budget concerns. More than half said they weren’t willing to cut defense spending either.

It’s not just wealthy Republican voters in the Palmetto State who say they eschew entitlement programs, Kedrowski said.

“There’s also a disproportionate number of low-income people who vote Republican because they respond to the populist messages, even when it is against their economic interests to do so,” she said.

Sheila Barton, 56, runs a floral shop in Pickens, a town that Rick Perry visited recently to stroll down Main Street and shake hands with store owners and residents.

“Americans don’t want a government that’s playing a bigger role in their lives,” Perry had said at a speech earlier that morning. “No one’s ever come up to me and said, ‘We sure need to have more government in our lives.'”

Barton agrees — in principle.

“There’s a lot of things that are wasteful,” she said, but when pressed to name some, she said she couldn’t really think of any off the top of her head. Defense spending should be increased, she said, and people who have paid into Social Security should receive their benefits. And local government programs need more funding, she said — she’s currently a guardian for local children through the court system.

There is some evidence that South Carolina’s opposition to government spending might further strangle the state’s already weak economy — if it leads to cuts in Social Security. Roberto Gallardo of the Southern Rural Development Center says that economies in many small towns in South Carolina are increasingly dependent on Social Security payments.

The percentage of total personal income in South Carolina coming from Social Security’s Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance programs was 7.6% in 2009, up from 3.8% in 1970. South Carolina ranks eighth in the nation on the group’s Social Security Dependency Index, which measures how reliant local economies are on Social Security payments for job creation and consumer spending. Neighboring North Carolina ranked 23rd.

That means candidates have to walk a fine line here — promising to cut government to alleviate voters’ fears, while still preserving the programs that require most of the spending. How else to appeal to such voters as Clifton Anderson of Camden, who went to see Rick Santorum speak in a diner in Ridgeway?

“His ideas of downsizing government are most important to me,” said Anderson, about Santorum. He continued, in the next breath: “I also like his idea about strengthening defense.”

alana.semuels@latimes.com

Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times


Friends of science and evolution: Testify next week in the Texas textbook process?

July 14, 2011

I get important e-mail from the Texas Freedom Network; they’re asking for help next week to fight creationism and other forms of buncombe popular in Texas:

Science and the SBOE: One Week to Go

Next week, the Texas State Board of Education will take a critical vote on science in our public schools. We need people like you to make sure the vote is in favor of sound, well-established science.

Up for board consideration are science instructional materials submitted by a number of publishers and vendors who want their product used in Texas classrooms. Even before the board meets, far-right groups have been hard at work trying to ensure materials approved by the board attack and diminish evolutionary science and include the junk science of “intelligent design”/creationism.

The attacks include one from a little-know firm out of New Mexico, International Databases, which submitted instructional materials rife with creationist propaganda.

It gets worse. Far-right SBOE members last month appointed creationists with questionable scientific credentials to teams tasked with reviewing the materials and making recommendations to the board.

And new board chair Barbara Cargill upped the stakes when in a speech just last week she framed the debate over science as a “spiritual battle.”

The board will hold just ONE public hearing on the science materials. Your participation is crucial.

It is critical that you act now by clicking here to express your interest in testifying before the board on July 21.

Please note: The deadline to sign up to testify is 5 p.m. Monday.

We must insist that the SBOE keep junk science – including “intelligent design”/creationism – out of our children’s classrooms. The board must approve only instructional materials that are accurate, that are in line with sound and well-established science, and that will prepare Texas children to succeed in college and the jobs of the 21st century.

Texas Freedom Network advances a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the radical right. www.tfn.org | www.tfninsider.org | General: tfn@tfn.org
Tell a friend to subscribe to TFN News Clips, Alerts or Rapid Response Teams. Subscribers may choose the issue areas that interest them. To change your TFN subscription preferences – or to unsubscribe – click here.
Copyright 2010, Texas Freedom Network

Trying to carve out time here.  Can you help?

Hearings will be most interesting.  Support for the Texas State Board of Education actually comes, often, from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  TEA this week laid off just under 200 workers, to deal with the 36% budget chopping done to the agency by the Texas Lege.  Word comes this week that curriculum directors at TEA were let go, including the director of science curriculum.

It’s rather like the first 20 weeks of World War II in the Pacific, with the aggressors advancing on almost all fronts against science.  When is our Battle of Midway?

Information, resources: 


Relief for Rand Paul’s toilet problem

March 17, 2011

David Roberts at the online Grist site has a toilet that will solve Rand Paul’s problem, as Paul let slip at a Senate hearing earlier this week.  A couple of interesting videos accompanied Roberts’ article:

And this one, which makes me happy we didn’t have this toilet when our kids were toddlers, and at war with each other, or just happy to study hydraulics with frequent flushes, frequently with stuff that shouldn’t be flushed:

Bill Scher, also at Grist, did the shopping earlier that Rand Paul appears unable  to do — there are several toilets available to solve Paul’s problem, many of them made in America.

Almost three years ago we replaced the three toilets in our home with two Toto models and one Kohler, all low-flow, water miser editions.  They work fine. (We also shopped our local area, and found prices considerably below those listed, at several different outlets.)  Kohler, in fact, enlists the help of a fetching plumber named Jo.  She steps into a well-appointed bathroom and invites you to test Kohler’s toilets — you pick something in the bathroom, and she flushes it.  Bye bye, rubber duckie.  So long, handtowel.  Four bottles of shampoo at once.

Test Kohler toilets with Jo, the plumber

Click image to test Kohler toilets [Update, August 2012: Alas, Kohler seems to have deactivated the interactive site.]

Kohler, clearly, had someone with Sen. Paul’s, er, um, problem, in mind!

So, Rand Paul no longer has a reason to be full of s—.  It’s time he vote to endorse saving energy, as appliance and lightbulb manufacturers have done.  Why is Paul so opposed to American business anyway?

Update: The Trophy Wife™ suggested somebody stage a showdown, or flush off between Jo the Plumber and Sen. Rand Paul.  Jo the Plumber could see how well the Republican budget whacks flush away . . . “H.R. 1:  Flushes cleanly!  382 pages gone!  Appropriately disposed of!  What do you want to flush next?”

Perhaps someone adept at editing flash videos could make that happen . . .


Rand Paul’s confession: Constipated for years, he can’t see the light

March 17, 2011

In what must be one of the most bizarre but informative exchanges we’ve ever heard from a Tea Partier, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul reveals what bugs so many Tea Partiers.  His toilets don’t work, and haven’t for 20 years.

That’s not supposed to be a straight line for a gag.

You can’t get the information from just listening to him, however — you have to have some additional facts so you can read between the lines.

From this exchange at the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, we learn:

  1. Rand Paul trivializes abortion and women’s rights.  He appears to think babies are similar to incandescent light bulbs; he’s pretty clueless about either pregnancies or light bulbs.  Could there be a more offensive way to introduce this topic, than to claim his right to buy an incandescent light bulb and waste energy is equal, somehow, to a woman’s right to choose whether to carry a baby?
  2. Rand Paul doesn’t know how to shop.  Rand Paul isn’t much of a plumber.  He apparently bought a defective toilet some years ago, one that either doesn’t work or just can’t deal with the amount of effluent he personally produces, and he blames government for his bowel issues and his plumbing issues.  Well-working, low-water-use toilets have been available for decades in Europe and Asia, and are now available in the U.S., but he can’t be bothered to shop for them.  If he could maintain his old, water-wasting toilet, he’d have no kick, of course.  But he can’t be bothered to shop for a plumber who knows plumbing, and he can’t figure out how to do it himself.
  3. Rand Paul is incompetent at economics and constitutional law, at the same time.  Rand Paul thinks government should regulate things for his satisfaction, keeping products available that are no longer economical to produce — and if government fails to force businesses to do his bidding, it’s government’s fault; but the fact that Paul lives in the 19th century in his mind and no one else wants what he wants, never occurs to him.
  4. Rand Paul wants government to subsidize his bad choices.

Oy.

Let’s go to the video:

Can somebody get Rand Paul a competent plumber?  Can somebody show him how to use Google or Bing or Yahoo! to shop for good toilets and good plumbers?   The nation needs Paul to return to sanity, decency, and sanitation.

[Update:  Paul could learn about efficient, U.S.-built toilets, here.]

Am I wrong to think Paul is making an attack on wise conservation in general?  Why?

Paul’s smug, self-satisfied invincibility of incompetence and learned helplessness is appalling.  (Take that, Protein Wisdom; it’s just you, Jeff G. — everybody else sees Ms. Morgan as composed against Paul’s overweening smugness.)

Can somebody explain this to me:  This moment of extreme embarrassment to Sen. Paul is posted by his office at his YouTube site.  What were they thinking?

Somebody give a medal to Energy’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Morgan for not teeing off on the guy.  Letting him twist in the wind is good enough.

By the way, the bill Paul complains about?  The manufacturers agreed to the standards voluntarily, and have already agreed to comply — the bill adds no regulations they say they cannot meet; Hogan’s statement noted:

S.398 codifies agreements that were negotiated, signed, and promoted by a cross-section of stakeholders representing consumer advocacy groups, manufacturers, manufacturer trade associations, and energy efficiency advocacy organizations, all of whom support this bill. The negotiated consensus agreements would establish energy conservation standards for 14 products, several of which are in the midst of DOE’s ongoing standards and test procedure rulemakings.

Also constipated:

Resources, good information:


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