Thursday, 17 January 2013

REINING IN ENTERTAINMENT VIOLENCE: A START

Ken Berwitz

My congratulations to Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) for his proposed bill to prevent the sale of violent video games to children: 

It is a small step, and probably will have only marginal value if put in to place.  But it is a much needed start.

Excerpted from Brendan Sasso and Pete Kasperowicz's article at thehill.com:

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced a bill this week that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors.

The Supreme Court struck down a similar California law in 2011, ruling that the restriction violated the constitutional right to free speech.

Matheson's Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act, H.R. 287, would make it illegal for anyone to ship, distribute, sell or rent a video game that does not bear a label from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) on the age-appropriateness of the game.

The ESRB, an industry self-regulatory group, already assigns age-based labels to video games, ranging from "C" for early childhood, "E" for everyone, "T" for teen, "M" for mature, and "AO" for adults only, but the system is entirely voluntary.

It is currently up to retailers to decide whether to sell violent or sexually explicit games to minors.

Matheson's bill would make it illegal to sell or rent video games with a rating of "adults only" to anyone under 18, or video games rated "mature" to anyone under 17.

As a strong opponent of censorship, I can't say I am happy with this type of legislation.  But, just as I understand the reason for not allowing minors to buy explicit sexual material, so do I understand the need to limit, as best we can, exposure to gratuitous, dehumanizing violent material when children are at their most impressionable ages.

I do not know the specifics of the California law that was struck down in 2011.  But I am hopeful that this one can be written in a way that will a) pass congress and b) stand as constitutionally acceptable. 

Thank you, Rep. Matheson, for your efforts.  I hope they result in worthwhile, beneficial legislation.

free' IMO, it is just as stupid to blame the entertainment industry as it is to blame the gun industry. The vast majority of both groups do not go on killing sprees. When exactly did we as a society decide to stop blaming the person who committed the act? Was it the Twinkie defense? (01/17/13)

Ken Berwitz free - I agree that, ultimately, people have to take responsibilities for their own actions. But, in this case, we are talking about young children whose intellects and moral codes are still formulating. Preventing them from coming in contact with this kind of material - or, at least, making them aware that it is "forbidden fruit", is meaningful, and not just to prevent mass murders. (01/17/13)


A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CHILD-A-THON

Ken Berwitz

Yesterday President Obama made statement in which he proposed/insisted/dictatorially directed that a large number of gun control laws be enacted.  He did so in the presence of four children, seated to his left on the stage, who - maybe on their own, maybe as part of a class project - had written poignant, innocent letters to him asking ("begging" in one case) that he do something to end to gun violence.  After his statement, Mr. Obama high-fived the four children.

My questions:

-Could this have been a more maudlin, cynical, exploitative use of children as props to promote a political agenda? 

-What do you think the media would have done if, during the campaign, Mitt Romney made a speech about cutting spending, while surrounded by children who wrote letters asking - "begging" - that adults not saddle them with debts they had no idea of how to pay?

-And, finally, if President Obama would stoop to exploiting children this way, would he also stoop to instructing his Attorney General to make sure drug cartels were able to buy thousands of the same weapons he now speaks against, so he could then use the carnage those guns would create (at least two US agents dead, hundreds of Mexican nationals, untold numbers injured or threatened) to promote exactly the same proposals he made yesterday?

Those are my questions.  Answers, anyone?


DEAR ABBY: R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips, much better known as the iconic advice columnist Abigail Van Buren - "Dear Abby" to countless millions for almost a half century - died Wednesday at the age of 94, after a years' long bout with alzheimer's disease.

In her heyday, Ms. Van Buren was syndicated to about 1,200 newspapers and had a daily readership of something like 95,000,000.  To say that she was successful is a little like saying that Mount Everest is a little elevated.

She wrote her column from 1956 to 2002 when, partly because of her alzheimers and - I'm speculating here - because that was the year her identical twin sister, Esther Pauline Friedman, (who was also hugely successful as the advice columnist Ann Landers) passed away, she gave over the brand to her daughter Jeanne, who already had been co-writing it with her for years.

Ms Friedman/Van Buren was a genuine icon, and will be greatly missed.  May she rest in peace.


NOBAMACARE

Ken Berwitz

This is for the folks who, despite all we now know about it, are still happy about ObamaCare.

Excerpted from an article at foxnews.com (That's rigjht, Fox News.  Why:  did you think ABC, NBC or CBS would report this story, and damage the image of their lord and savior?):

Pregnant women in one southwestern Pennsylvania town will soon need to look elsewhere to deliver their babies, after a local hospital announced it will end the practice in March -- blaming ObamaCare in part for the decision.

The Windber Medical Center will stop delivering babies after March 31 because its obstetricians are either leaving or refocusing their practices, and because hospital officials believe they can't afford it based on projected reimbursements under looming federal health care reforms.

The hospital, about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is losing two obstetricians and two others are shifting their focus more to gynecology.

In a lengthy statement posted to its website Wednesday, the hospital cited several reasons for the decision -- including a claim that the population of women of child-bearing age is dropping and that the number of births the hospital would be called upon to perform isn't enough for it to provide the service in the face of lower reimbursements under the federal Affordable Care Act.

I assume you realize that Windber Medical Center is going to be far from the only hospital giving up these services. 

Will it happen to a hospital near you?  Maybe the nearest one?  I hope not for your sake.  But I wouldn't bet against it.

On the other hand, losing obstetric services is a small price to pay for implementing the wonderful system known as ObamaCare, isn't it?

Well?  Isn't it?

free` the number of births the hospital would be called upon to perform isn't enough for it to provide the service in the face of lower reimbursements under the federal Affordable Care Act. ---------------------- Lets see, cut funding to deliver babies increase funding to kill them. Yep that is a liberal/progressive for you. (01/17/13)


FOR THE CHILDREN......

Ken Berwitz

Leave it to the great Michael Ramirez to explain Barack Obama's real legacy for the children of this country in one cartoon.

 

Typical Ramirez:  Very funny and very insightful.  My thanks to him.


IS HUGO CHAVEZ DEAD?

Ken Berwitz

When was the last time you saw hugo chavez - either live, or in a picture or video with some way of determining the date it was taken?

Didn't chavez have to be sworn in to his new term as President of Venezuela on January 10th?  Why did the Venezuelan Supreme Court rule that he would be President even if he could not be sworn in?  Have you seen or heard any news about chavez since then?

Is hugo chavez dead?

P. J. Gladnik, at newsbusters.org, is very skeptical about chavez's verticality.  His latest blog explains why there is very good reason to doubt it, along with why Cuba, and nicolas maduro (chavez's Vice President and hand-picked successor who runs the country when he is not able to), would want to keep his death a secret.

A few key excerpts:

In what might be a case of life imitating art, could the vice-president of Venezuela be attempting to replicate "Weekend At Bernie's?" To refresh your memory of that entertaining comedy movie, two young insurance executives are desperate to maintain the fiction that their boss, Bernie, is still alive at his beach house. The Venezuelan vice-president, Nicolas Maduro, is now ruling Venezuela in Hugo Chavez's absence especially since he was given the blessing as El Commandante's successor in December when we knew for sure that Chavez was still alive. However, the big question is if Chavez is still alive.

The Associated Press seems to think so based on their story that Chavez signed a decree naming a new Venezuelan foreign minister. However, the AP missed that the decree stated that it was signed on January 15 in Caracas. (NOTE: here is a link to the AP report

Vice President Maduro can rule in the place of Chavez only as long as the latter is still alive. If it is proven that Chavez has died then the Speaker of the National Assembly in Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello, automatically becomes interim president until new elections are called within 30 days. That means Vice President Maduro is out and Cabello is in despite the blessings given to Maduro by Chavez. So in order for Maduro (and his Cuban allies) to prevent this from happening is to make sure that Hugo Chavez remains alive or appears to remain alive in Cuba like Bernie in "Weekend At Bernie's."

But that's not all.  There is another issue here, not touched on in Mr. Gladnik's article, which very much makes it in Cuba's interest to maintain the belief that chavez alive, even if he is not. 

In a word, that issue is O I L

Under chavez, Venezuela has supplied Cuba (and other Latin American countries) with plentiful supplies of oil, way below market price.  But if a new President decides not to continue propping Cuba up this way, its already-basket-case economy might collapse altogether, which would spell disaster for the castro brothers.  

As you can see, Maduro, and Cuba (among others) have a major interest in either keeping chavez alive, or, if chavez is dead, keeping up the pretense that he is alive.

So:  is he alive? 

And when do our mainstream media join P.J. Gladnick, me, and a precious few others in asking?


YEAH, BUT GIVE MEDIA A LITTLE MORE TIME...

Ken Berwitz

Here is a very interesting bit of poll data from NBC/Wall Street Journal - data which, I am sure, make the NBC folks in particular cringe:

As Washington prepares for a political battle over the Obama White House's proposals to curb gun violence after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the National Rifle Association is more popular than the entertainment industry.

 

Forty-one percent of adults see the NRA -- the nation's top gun lobby -- in a positive light, while 34 percent view it in a negative light.

 

By comparison, just 24 percent have positive feelings about the entertainment industry, and 39 percent have negative ones.

 

The NRA's fav/unfav score is virtually unchanged from its 41 percent-to-29 percent rating in the Jan. 2011 NBC/WSJ poll, nearly two years before the Newtown shootings.

And let's remember that these data come after a solid month of media pulling out all stops to demonize the NRA any and every way it can.

But my advice to NBC and its likeminded media pals (i.e. the vast majority of media) is to not to worry.  Just keep reporting in as biased and dishonest away as you have been, and everything will be hunky-dory in the end.

Never forget that, initially, more than twice as many people believed Clarence Thomas over Anita Hill.  And until you guys started the nonstop hate campaign against her, Sarah Palin - at 87% favorability (that is not a typo) - was the single most popular governor in the United States.

Time is on your side.  Keep at it and you'll win in the end.  As a former high-ranking minister once said:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

Boy, that goebbels guy sure did know what he was talking about.....

free` Ken, Your commentary on this subject is absolutely spot on. Especially the part about Palin, remember though, they didn't just go after her, they went after the whole family. It was by far the most disgusting "journalism" ever. We are living in a time where actual facts are meaningless and agitprop wins the day. I don't see a bright future for this country until we have unbiased media and educators in this country. What a shame how much they have weakened this country already. (01/17/13)


DEAR ABBY: R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips, much better known as the iconic advice columnist Abigail Van Buren - "Dear Abby" to countless millions for almost a half century - died Wednesday at the age of 94, after a years' long bout with alzheimer's disease.

In her heyday, Ms. Van Buren was syndicated to about 1,200 newspapers and had a daily readership of something like 95,000,000.  To say that she was successful is a little like saying that Mount Everest is a little elevated.

She wrote her column from 1956 to 2002 when, partly because of her alzheimers and - I'm speculating here - because that was the year her identical twin sister, Esther Pauline Friedman, (who was also hugely successful as the advice columnist Ann Landers) passed away, she gave over the brand to her daughter Jeanne, who already had been co-writing it with her for years.

Ms Friedman/Van Buren was a genuine icon, and will be greatly missed.  May she rest in peace.


YEAH, BUT GIVE MEDIA A LITTLE MORE TIME...

Ken Berwitz

Here is a very interesting bit of poll data from NBC/Wall Street Journal - data which, I am sure, make the NBC folks in particular cringe:

As Washington prepares for a political battle over the Obama White House's proposals to curb gun violence after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the National Rifle Association is more popular than the entertainment industry.

 

Forty-one percent of adults see the NRA -- the nation's top gun lobby -- in a positive light, while 34 percent view it in a negative light.

 

By comparison, just 24 percent have positive feelings about the entertainment industry, and 39 percent have negative ones.

 

The NRA's fav/unfav score is virtually unchanged from its 41 percent-to-29 percent rating in the Jan. 2011 NBC/WSJ poll, nearly two years before the Newtown shootings.

And let's remember that these data come after a solid month of media pulling out all stops to demonize the NRA any and every way it can.

But my advice to NBC and its likeminded media pals (i.e. the vast majority of media) is to not to worry.  Just keep reporting in as biased and dishonest away as you have been, and everything will be hunky-dory in the end.

Never forget that, initially, more than twice as many people believed Clarence Thomas over Anita Hill.  And until you guys started the nonstop hate campaign against her, Sarah Palin - at 87% favorability (that is not a typo) - was the single most popular governor in the United States.

Time is on your side.  Keep at it and you'll win in the end.  As a former high-ranking minister once said:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

Boy, that goebbels guy sure did know what he was talking about.....

free` Ken, Your commentary on this subject is absolutely spot on. Especially the part about Palin, remember though, they didn't just go after her, they went after the whole family. It was by far the most disgusting "journalism" ever. We are living in a time where actual facts are meaningless and agitprop wins the day. I don't see a bright future for this country until we have unbiased media and educators in this country. What a shame how much they have weakened this country already. (01/17/13)


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