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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

This "Wall of Separation" Going Down -- And It's PBS Doing It

Category: US Politics
Posted: 06/21/07 00:10, Edited: 06/21/07 00:12

by Dave Mindeman

Let's talk about PBS Television for a moment. Although I would hesitate to call public television a "liberal" bastion, it could always be counted on for stories that had depth...beyond the sound bite type depth. And the stories would indeed be factual.... Frontline's look at the Iraq War timeline (Endgame) which aired this week was solid journalism. It didn't flinch with excuses.... it brought a glaring reality to horrible decision making.

But as Josh Michael of Talking Points Memo points out, PBS has problems at the top.

"When Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, a close Karl Rove ally, took over PBS a few years ago, he told the Association of Public Television Stations along with officials from the CPB and PBS that they should make sure their programming "better reflected the Republican mandate."

This month PBS will be airing a program that examines the principle of the separation of Church and State. This program is called "Wall of Separation".... and as TPM points out:

"Wall of Separation" is a production of Boulevard Pictures, which explained on its website that this PBS special will explain that the Founding Fathers had "a radically different definition" of religious liberty than what we have today, and that "the modern understanding of the role of religion in the public square is exactly the opposite of what the Founders intended."

The website Common Dreams warned us about the plans of Ken Tomlinson back in 2005:

Without the knowledge of his board, the chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, contracted last year with an outside consultant to keep track of the guests' political leanings on one program, "Now With Bill Moyers."

Tomlinson was quoted:

"My goal here is to see programming that satisfies a broad constituency," he said, adding, "I'm not after removing shows or tampering internally with shows."

But he has repeatedly criticized public television programs as too liberal overall, and said in the interview, "I frankly feel at PBS headquarters there is a tone deafness to issues of tone and balance."

"Wall of Separation" will probably meet Mr. Tomlinson's new standards. Looking at the people who staff the production, we have:

Brian Godawa (Director/Writer): was quoted during the release of the DaVinci code..."May 19th is the date the Da Vinci Code movie opens. A movie based on a book that wears its heresy and blasphemy as a badge of honor. What can we as Christians do in response to the release of the movie? I'm going to offer you the usual choices -- and a new one. On May 19th, you should go to the movies. Just go to another movie"

Andre Iseli (Executive Producer): Has given $300,000 to a Quaker private college called George Fox University. The stated goals of the college are:

While approximately 5 percent of our undergraduate students are Friends, more than 50 denominations are represented on campus, the largest being Baptist.
Students of all faiths are welcome. While we don't require a signed statement of faith from students, we are a Christian community, and, as such, ask our students and employees to abide by the university's community expectations. In keeping with our mission of Christian higher education, all employees -- faculty, administration, and staff -- are committed evangelical Christians.

Phil Bransom (Senior Production Supervisor): Member of Chrisitians in Photo Journalism.

Jack Hafer (Producer/Boulevard Pictures): An interview with Rev. Barry Lynn was summarized this way:

Although the Web site for the film company mentions no religious or political agenda, its president is Jack Hafer, an evangelical Christian who told one interviewer that Christians have an obligation to "shape the culture" and "spread the faith."

So, the odds of "Wall of Separation" actually endorsing the principle of separation of church and state seem pretty slim. Odds are better that Mary Kiffmeyer will give it a big thumbs up.

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Iowa Poll: Huckabee Ahead of McCain? Are You Kidding?

Category: US Politics
Posted: 06/19/07 23:59

by Dave Mindeman

Is John McCain finished? I realize it is pretty early to be making any final pronouncements but it is hard to imagine a more accelerated fall from grace than the "straight talk express".

New poll numbers from Iowa show McCain is now running behind Mike Huckabee? Egads! Huckabee is at 7% and McCain is in an embarrassing tie with Sam Brownback at 6% apiece.

Mitt Romney has bought his way to a 25% showing and the lead in the pack. Fred Thompson hasn't spent a cent but still managed a nice 17% showing...Guiliani is 3rd with 15%.

But, to me, the McCain train wreck is hard to imagine. Oh, I know McCain is focusing on New Hampshire and its tempting pool of independent voters who came to his rescue last time. But if McCain ends up with a dismal showing in Iowa like this.... heck, not even New Hampshire can save him.

His critics will surely point to his immigration stance. Probably true. But the "surge" support didn't help either.

Could we be seeing McCain's last hurrah? If second quarter fund raising is as disastrous as current polling..... hmmm... bye-bye Johnny.
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Minnesota Health Care: mnpACT! Symposium

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 06/19/07 17:01

by Dave Mindeman

On June 30th, mnpACT! will be hosting a Health Care Symposium from 1pm to 3:30pm. This is the first in a series of issue oriented action events that mnpACT! is sponsoring to connect our legislators with active community members concerned about progressive issues.

This event will have guest speaker, Kip Sullivan outlining the history and failures of our past attempts at health care reform... as well as his vision of a full single payer universal coverage system.

We have also invited some of the newly elected south metro legislators to participate.... those who have confirmed are Senator John Doll of Burnsville, Rep. Will Morgan of Burnsville, Rep. Shelley Madore of Apple Valley, Senator Jim Carlson of Eagan, and Rep. David Bly of Northfield. Each of these legislators have made strong committments to health care access for every Minnesotan. They will be talking about the efforts during the last legislative session and the roadmap for the next one, going into 2008.

This is a great opportunity for everyone to join a substantive discussion on a crucial topic for all of us.

Join us at Open Circle Church in Burnsville...directions here.

Watch for other action for activists events coming soon.
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