Having just been canned by a credit card company, I should keep quiet about them for now, to avoid the appearance of sour grapes. Let's just say, then, that I fall into the Bob Herbert camp on this topic:
It’s one thing to reach for your Visa or MasterCard to pay for a Barbie doll or flat-screen TV. It’s way different to pull out the plastic because you’ve just learned you have cancer or heart disease, and you don’t have any other way to pay for treatment that would prevent a premature trip to the great beyond.
A society is seriously out of whack when legalized loan sharks are encouraged to close in on those who are broke and desperately ill.
I am tempted to encourage everyone who visits here to skip the SOTU tonight and watch the Moyers speech at the Media Conference in Memphis instead. Unfortunately, the video stream of it that made it onto YouTube is of such lousy quality that it's perhaps better read. Here's an excerpt:
In those days, our governing bodies tried to squelch journalistic freedom with the blunt instruments of the law - padlocks for the presses and jail cells for outspoken editors and writers. Over time, with spectacular wartime exceptions, the courts and the Constitution have struck those weapons out of their hands. But now they've found new methods, in the name of "national security" and even broader claims of "executive privilege." The number of documents stamped "Top Secret," "Secret" or "Confidential" has accelerated dramatically since 2001, including many formerly accessible documents which are now reclassified as secret. Vice President Cheney's office refuses to disclose, in fact, what it is classifying: even their secrecy is being kept a secret.
Beyond what is officially labeled "Secret" or "Privileged" information, there hovers on the plantation a culture of selective official news implementation, working through favored media insiders, to advance political agendas by leak and innuendo and spin, by outright propaganda mechanisms such as the misnamed "Public Information" offices that churn out blizzards of factually selective releases on a daily basis, and even by directly paying pundits and journalists to write on subjects of "mutual interest." They needn't have wasted the money. As we saw in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the plantation mentality that governs Washington turned the press corps into sitting ducks for the war party, for government and neo-conservative propaganda and manipulation.
Another option for tonight is the Democratic rebuttal from the new Senator from Virginia, which should be a doozy.
Now, as the Monty Python guys would say, for something completely different. I know we don't do this kind of stuff here often, but this is one of those stories that's hard to resist. The pictures speak for themselves, and the tale behind them is even more extraordinary:
In a zoo in California, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly after birth. The mother tiger after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall in to a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve. After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that here were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only orphans" that could be found quickly, were a litter of weaner pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger. Would they become cubs or pork chops?? Take a look....... you won't believe your eyes!!