Friday, September 29, 2006

Hit 'em where it hurts

I hate conflict. I hate it in my real life, I hate it in my professional life, and I hate it when I hear it on the radio or TV.

I'm often quick to change channels, or tune it out, when the arguing gets uncomfortable.

Someone near and dear to me says, however, that I need to listen to the arguments and watch the talking heads yell over each other as they discuss the news because it is important to "know the enemy" and that "conflict is a part of life."

So when I'm feeling particularly strong I turn to the morning talk radio when I'm in the car.

I started with KWTO's Morning Line. It was good to learn how the locals viewed the news, and the conflict was short-lived. When they took the liberal voice off the air in '03, the conflict decreased--it became good ol' boys figuratively thumping each other on the back as they waxed on about how great they are. Eventually the shows devolved into live commercials...Billy Long doing what he does best: selling stuff. I have to admit that hearing a good "liberal v. conservative" conflict actually beats the heck out of listening to an auctioneer hawk the ice cream at Summerfresh.

Now the talk radio conflicts happen on KSGF's morning show. I turn it on, listen until I am horrified by the level of hate that is spewed, and then quickly punch the button to get away from it.

The host, Vincent David Jericho is his radio moniker, is so full of hate it is scary. He seems to want to stir up hatred and violence in his listeners. I have heard him challenge listeners in ways that encourage them to use physical violence. Worst of all, he says that this brutality is what Jesus would want. Using religion to support hatred and violence is what we say we despise in terrorists, but here's this guy, using the same argument and claiming to be a re-born patriot.

This man's behavior is appalling.

The radio station that employs him should also be held responsible for his hateful rants. The best way to get this message across to the folks at KSGF and it's parent company including KTTS radio, is to contact their advertisers. The financial bottom line is what they're paying attention to, and that's the only place complaints can hurt them. If they get a bunch of folks calling them and complaining, or blogging about it for that matter, it just proves to them that we're listening. You know the old saying: even bad PR is good.

I have decided to make lists of the advertisers I hear on his show, and to contact them directly about their decision to support this hate-filled radio show. I wonder, truly, if these companies realize what they are paying for.

Maybe I am just giving them the benefit of the doubt, but I don't want to think that places like Christian Health Care supports the idea of aggression towards police officers who protect gays from violence. Or that American Business Systems knows they're paying for a man to state that no Democrat can call themselves a Christian, or that All About Upholstery, or Mitchell and Wilson CPAs understand that the segments their ads support encourage listeners to believe that Jesus Christ taught to use violence toward others.

I am going to let them know.

If you feel the same way about this hate-filled radio show in our community, join me. I'll post the names of advertisers when I hear them so we can let them know what their advertising dollars support. Please add any advertisers through the blog's comments and/or link to your own blogs. I intend to make these advertisers aware that I will be encouraging others to avoid their businesses as long as they continue to advertise on this show.

Yes, the right to freedom of speech protects Vincent David Jericho--he absolutely has the right to say all the stuff he says. But that does not mean that KSGF radio is obligated to provide a forum for him. Nor does it mean that I have to listen to him. But in this case my "near and dear" is right--if I just turn away and pretend I don't know its there, I am doing nothing to make it better. Without meaning to, I am tacitly supporting it.


1. American Business Systems 417-866-5083
416 S. Jefferson
Springfield, MO 65806

2. All About Upholstery 417-883-9000
425 W. FR 182
Springfield, MO 658010

3. Christian Healthcare 417-889-9955
3535 E. Cherokee
Springfield, MO 65804

4. Mitchell, Wilson, CPAs 417-883-9800
3333 S. National
Springfield, MO 65807

5. PFI Western Wear
2816 S. Ingram Mill
Springfield, MO 65804
417-889-2668

Monday, September 25, 2006

Maybe Norma can't talk without her puppets.

I listened to Springfield's state senator Norma Champion on KWTO AM this morning. A few months ago I attended a meeting of do-gooders where we asked her direct questions about the Medicaid fiasco. A couple of my friends have written her letters asking about her position on certain issues, including stem cell research. In every single one of these situations there is one common factor: Norma Champion does not answer a direct question with a direct answer.

If she does decide to give an answer, she just yaks on and on about her role on some committee, as if being on a committee is a big thing. All senators, legislators, city council people, etc. are put on committees when they take their elected seat. Sometimes a politician can make some good come out of their committee membership, but more often than not they just use it as resume-padding.

Or like Norma, they manage to bring it up ad nauseum so that "Joe and Mary Beercan" will think they're actually doing something in Jeff City besides preparing for the next election.

Yes, they do refer to us 'regular' folk as "Joe and Mary Beercan" or the like. Doesn't that make you feel wanted and respected? As if.

When I do play therapy with 3 year olds, we often use puppets to help the child express themselves. I realize that Norma Champion makes alot of hay with her history as a puppeteer on a kiddie cartoon show (how many decades ago?) but surely at 73 years old she doesn't need a puppet to answer questions.

As we say in the world of psychotherapy: Your behavior reveals the truth about you and your feelings, whether you are aware of it or not.

Norma's behavior tells the story of someone who is unwilling or unable to give the people who elected her the straight goods unless it directly benefits her re-election campaign.

The people of Greene County deserve better. We're supposed to be the "show me" state, right? We should stand up and make her show us where she really stands. And if she won't, we need to vote her out in November.

Actually we should do that anyway. Enough is enough.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Was Orwell a prophet?

Maybe George Orwell was a "seer." Maybe it was more than just dark imagination that pushed him to write about the governmental controls over thought, word and deed in his famous work 1984. I don't know, and I guess it really doesn't matter. What matters is that here we are, some 22 years after that date and what he wrote is more real now than science fiction.

1984: thoughtcrime

2006: The President of the United States said, in response to Colin Powell's concern for the international perception of the US's ethics, "It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective."

1984: One Minute Hate

2006: The argument over how to say the Pledge of Allegiance becomes a test of patriotism. Ditto the Ten Commandments. Local radio stations air recordings of kids saying the pledge every morning. Talk radio announcers spew diatribes of hate directed at anyone who dares disagree with what they deem acceptable.

1984: Winston endures torture and eventually breaks.

2006: Torture becomes a household word. Watercooler discussions focus on what is or isn't torture. The US government admits that they've held people in "secret" CIA prisons. The president wants to re-define the rules of the Geneva Convention.

We've already been told on too many occasions to count, that if we question the administration's tactics, we are not "patriots."

Conservative radio talk show hosts say it in more hate-filled terms: if we dare question our government, we are traitors.

But wait, isn't the right to question and to speak aloud our questions one of the many freedoms on which our nation is founded?

A couple of decades ago, Jackson Browne told made it clear: There are lives in the balance.

Read the lyrics here: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/jackson+browne/lives+in+the+balance_20068574.html

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Blockbuster saves the day!

Finally, after decades of waiting, the "Lost" season 2 dvds are at Blockbuster! I've now discovered how Sun got kidnapped, and got more of her and Jin's backstory. I learned more about why I can't stand Ana Lucia, and the glimpse of Jack's backstory that I've seen so far makes me dislike him just a little less. And Sayid, well, his may be the most complicated backstory and by extension the most interesting to me. Maybe someone knows (how about the ranting dad) if the dude in Iraq who talks him into helping the Americans is later seen with the Others...he sure looks familiar.

Of course I've only watched through disc 3 (the first 14 episodes or so), so there are a few more "lost"-filled evenings ahead. Here's hoping the homework load is light for the Young One because it is against the rules for me to watch them without him.

Ah the joys of getting involved in a silly tv show.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Where does your money go? Literally.

Input the serial numbers from the bills you have and see where they've been or follow where they go: www.wheresgeorge.com

People use sharpie to write www.wheresgeorge.com on dollar bills (and other denominations I suppose) and then those of us "in the know" keep entering the bills and see where the money ends up.

Today I got a bill at Panera Bread that had come from Albion, New York. Other times I've found bills that had made the rounds in the Branson area, and others that began their life on wheresgeorge.com "far, far away" as the preschool set likes to say.

Okay, so its not profound. But it is sorta fun. So far, the site reports that there have been 9794 bill entries from zip code 65804, with 2898 bills with hits from that zip alone! Join in...see what happens.

But, you'll definitely want to wash your hands when you're done...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Stephen Stills was right...

Paranoia really does strike deep. I know a lot more people these days who won't speak out about issues because they fear retribution by their government. These aren't people who wear tin foil hats or obsess about alien abductions. Some of these folks vote Republican, some don't vote at all, a few are admitted Democrats (this is the Ozarks, after all--fear of admitting you vote Democrat is practically a tradition).

What they have in common politically is that they disagree with some government decisions but they are very careful. Complaints and opinions are given in whispers or behind closed doors.

These are professionals who have heard one too many stories about people losing their jobs after they spoke out against the war. They are social workers and counselors who've listened to colleagues describe Medicaid audits--sometimes two or more in one year. Interesting, they say, that some of these colleagues had complained mightily when Medicaid mental health services changed, next thing you know, audit letters arrive. They're minimum wage workers who worry that the government may monitor their payday loans, teachers who fear retaliation when contracts are issued.

A former investigative reporter I know told me a long time ago that consipiracy theorists give politicians way too much credit for being savvy or intelligent enough to coordinate that level of operation.

These days, though, it is not the intelligence that stands out. When I think of the people who run government at most levels now, they seem cunning, cagey, sly. I find myself wondering what they are really doing--I take very little at face value these days. McClelland's theory about the need for power as a motivator has merit, especially when put through the prism of modern political behavior.

"Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid, step out of line, the Man come and take you away. I think its time we stop, what's that sound, everybody look what's going down."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Can you be 5 and be in crisis?

Angry at his estranged wife, a 28 year old man threw his 5 year old step daughter off a concrete bridge into McDaniel lake, telling her he'd already killed her mom. The child lived, thanks to a couple of fishermen who heard the splash. Her mom was safe, and unaware that her daughter had been kidnapped.

For most Springfieldians, this is not news anymore--the girl's photo, the reunion between the child and her mom, the mom's fiance carrying her to the car, etc. have been front and center for most news outlets over the last couple of days.

But, did you know that in Missouri, Medicaid will more than likely not approve individual counseling for this child?

Medicaid will not pay for a counselor to see her for "crisis intervention" even though she was thrown in a lake by her stepfather because they don't think someone this young could be in a crisis, and according to the minds at Medicaid, the only crisis that would "count" is if the child is suicidal or homicidal. And, by the way, they've told at least one local social worker that someone at age 5 can't possibly be suicidal or homicidal.

These Medicaid administrators have clearly spent too much time in offices.

There are 5 year olds who've desperately want to be dead. I wish it wasn't true. I wish I didn't know 5 year olds who threaten to kill people and can tell me how to do it, or who've told me that they want to kill themselves. I wish those memories could be washed out of my brain.

Wishing doesn't make these truths go away.

Pretending it doesn't exist so that a government can "prevent fraud and waste" also doesn't make it any less true.

Medicaid quietly changed the rules for how they fund children's mental health. If you live in Missouri and are poor, young, and in need of 1:1 therapy, well, you're out of luck. A committee has determined that this form of counseling isn't appropriate for young children. Research does not support this, but the committee is unwilling at this point to consider any form of therapy other than family counseling for young children. And even then it is a toss up whether they'll fund that therapy.

What we're doing to the "least of these" in Missouri is a travesty. And we'll be paying for it, in one way or another, for many generations to come.

We've got to make significant changes in our state government in November. Pray it isn't too late for the current generation of young children who live in poverty. And vote for change.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Edwards stumps for local candidates

John Edwards is sort of a rock star politician for the democrats in southwest Missouri. Yesterday was the fourth time he's visited the Ozarks in the last 2 years, and the third time I've been there to witness his message.

The first time he spoke, for a last minute rally in 2002 at then-SMSU's Strong Hall, no one was prepared for the size of the audience who were literally hanging from the stairwells to hear him in person. This past winter he packed the lower floor of Juanita K and delivered an intense and motivating message about poverty and our moral responsibility as Americans to alleviate it. Each time he speaks here, people turn out in surprising numbers, ready to give standing ovations, and holler "run for president!"

The dude is definitely easy on the eyes, but his message is impressive and surpasses the basic "cookie cutter" political speech of my generation.

John Edwards talks about poverty.

He's lived it, and still has the courage to say that he now has "everything." He provides an excellent argument to those who say that the only way to be successful is to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and not expect anything from anyone. Edwards talks about how he got to realize the American dream only with the help of others--specifically public education, publicly funded state universities, etc. He touts ways we can eradicate poverty in our own lifetime, and he almost makes me believe that in the right political climate, we could really do it.

I used to believe like that without much wavering. When Clinton gave his inaugural address in '93, I cried. I believed that we could do so much. I was so motivated that I ran for a local office, and got involved in more than just the "no nukes" and prison reform issues I'd latched onto while still in college.

We accomplished so much during the Clinton years. And now most of it is gone. Gone to huge deficits. Gone to huge oil companies. Gone to the richest of the rich. And as Pete Seeger sang "Gone for soldiers, everyone...when will we ever learn, when will we ever learn."

Yesterday Edwards was at the Labor Day picnic to stump for Claire McCaskill. He was the final speaker on a list of politicians and folks representing various unions . Union reps and officers spoke about what candidates they support, with more than a couple insisting that we "throw the bums out!"

Doug Harpool was the only local candidate to speak. He's running against Norma Champion, our current state senator whose claim to fame is that she ran a puppet show for kids on KY3 in the 60's. That's sort of like Tulsa's Mr. Zing and Tuffy running for office where I grew up...how exactly does being a kid's cartoon show host ready you to serve the public in politics where virutally every decision will impact someone's life and livelihood?

Anyway, Harpool spoke well. He encouraged folks to knock on doors and spread his message of ethics reform and accountability. He talked about how the ethics legislation he'd worked so hard to pass when he was a state rep in the 80's and early 90s has been all but eliminated by the current politicians who've essentially sold their souls to special interest groups and lobbyists. He points to the ruination of voter supported campaign donation limits as a prime example. Harpool's a good speaker and his local roots run deep. He's a moderate voice and, especially when compared to his opponent, seems willing to listen to his constituents.

Susan Montee, candidate for State Auditor spoke next. Maybe I was just sitting too close (we snagged second row seats for the Edwards gig by arriving 3 hours early), but her message got a little lost in her overly high-pitched voice. She is clearly qualified, and we need someone who can continue the rigorous oversight we've gotten used to with McCaskill.

McCaskill was homey, and touted her Ozarks background. Her down-to-earth delivery was good, folks were clearly on her side and thrilled to see her in person. She, incidentally, was the only candidate that I saw walking through the crowd, shaking hands, posing for photos and just generally being a part of the flow. The other candidates may want to take example from that--it works well in this neck of the woods.

All in all, it was a great way to spend Labor Day. The picnic was well attended, and although it took me about an hour to figure out that the smell I thought was a dead animal in the trash, was actually sauerkraut, the food looked good and the sodas were icy cold.

And above it all, John Edwards was there to remind us that we have a moral imperative to eliminate poverty.

A moral imperative. Oh if only.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Daily Buddhist Wisdom

Leave the mind in it's natural, undisturbed state. Don't follow thoughts of "that is a problem, this is a problem!"

Without labeling difficulties as problems, leave your mind in it's natural state. In this way you will stop seeing miserable conditions as problems.

-Lama Zopa Rinpoche