Violating the Constitution is Not a Public Right

    by Walter Brasch   For at least 17 years, the officials of Monroeville, Pa., a 30,000 population Pittsburgh suburb, have recited the Lord’s Prayer before every council meeting. This violates the First Amendment. And it’s not even a gray area. Finally, the ACLU sent the council a letter, threatening to file a lawsuit. The response by Bruce Dice, the city solicitor, was that the council will try its best to abide by the Constitution, and will make changes. Dice, who has been solicitor since 1998, says government “should not be sponsoring prayer or direct residents about religion.” At its Jan. 12 meeting, the Council will consider an ordinance to have different members of the clergy, representing different religions, … Continue reading

Christmas Again Wins the Annual War

    by Walter Brasch   The mythical War on Christmas is over and once again Christmas won. The war was created out of fairy dust, and then neatly wrapped up and delivered to religious right-wing extremists by pretend-generals Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and a cast of dozens who have seized the public airways. One of the battalion commanders is Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado. He introduced a resolution, which 35 other Republicans co-signed, that defends the holiday. That resolution calls for the House of Representatives to recognize “the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas,” to “strongly [disapprove] of attempts to ban references to Christmas; [and] expresses support for the use of … Continue reading

Today’s Media: Often Pandering to Bias and Ignorance

  by Walter Brasch   The Texas board of education didn’t find anything wrong with a world geography textbook that said slaves from Africa were workers, but that immigrants from northern Europe were indentured servants. This is the same school board that five years ago demanded that textbooks emphasize that slavery was only a side issue to the cause of the civil war, and that Republican achievements be emphasized in political science and civics textbooks. For good measure, the officials also wanted a “fair and balanced” look at evolution versus intelligent design or creationism, and that global warming is only a theory, overlooking substantial and significant scientific evidence. Because Texas adopts textbooks for the entire state, and there is minimal … Continue reading

Blustery Donald Trump vs. The Quiet Christian

    by Rosemary and Walter Brasch   Before a cheering and whooping crowd in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Donald Trump, spewing the blustery rhetoric of a demagogue, declared that the United States should ban all Muslims from entering the country. He claimed to have Muslim friends who supported his position. He claimed that Muslims want “to change your religion.” He claimed that a poll, one created by an anti-Muslim extremist, showed that one-fourth of American Muslims believe violence against Americans is justified. With absolutely no proof to support his accusations, and significant evidence to dispute it, for more than six years he and those who follow his hate have claimed President Obama was born in a foreign country and is … Continue reading

Downsizing the News Media; Downsizing Quality and Credibility

      by Walter Brasch   (Part 2 of 2) For more than a decade, advertising, circulation, and news quality in both print and electronic media have been in a downward spiral. That spiral has twin intertwining roots. The first root is the rise of social media. The complacent and stodgy print media were slow to catch onto the concept and rise of social media and its influence upon a generation that conducts its life by a fusion of smart phones to ears. When owners figured out they needed to have a digital presence, they first gave away content in a desperate bid to keep readers, and then began to charge for it to those who didn’t have subscriptions. … Continue reading

Can a Demagogue, Donald Trump, Be Elected President?

Donald Trump’s recent outrageous comments about excluding Muslims certainly cross the boundary of traditional political discourse in America. Trump fits the classic definition of a demagogue: a rabble-rouser who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices and ignorance of the lower socioeconomic classes in order to gain power. Demagogues oppose deliberation and advocate immediate, action to address a national crisis; they attack moderate and thoughtful opponents as being weak. . No wonder his populist rhetoric has been attacked by Republicans and Democrats alike. This, and his other comments, are reminiscent of hate speech by radical fringe groups. The conventional wisdom is that he can’t be elected president, that the Republican convention will repudiate him, that Hillary Clinton will destroy him in … Continue reading

Downsizing the News Staff; Downsizing Quality and Credibility

  by Walter Brasch   (Part 1 of 2) On Monday, Nov. 2, every National Geographic staffer was told to report to the magazine’s Washington, D.C., headquarters the next day to await a phone call or e-mail from Human Resources. Ever since Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox corporation bought the magazine in September, there were rumors the new owner would maximize profits by terminating employees. Those predictions came through when Management fired 180 people, and told dozens of others they were being offered “voluntary buy-outs.” The corporation also announced it was eliminating health coverage for future retirees and was freezing all pensions. Management told the public there would be no loss of quality, but it’s hard to believe those claims … Continue reading