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Reclaiming Our Voices
Monday, April 12, 2010
To Our Tea Party friends and beyond

I don’t doubt the sincerity of tea party folks, but I do have questions.  Where were you when the first patriot act was passed without Congress having time to read it?  Why weren’t you protesting warrantless wire taps, or a record breaking number of signing statements exempting the last President from obeying parts of the bills he was signing into law?  Do you really think health care reform is more of a threat to our freedoms and the constitution, then the things I’ve just mentioned? 

 

I think the answer to this lies with corporate funded, Republican leaning front groups, including Fox News, that have stirred up concerns among some of our citizens with fear and misinformation about programs that are meant to help them. 

 

There are legitimate debates to be had between responsible Republicans and Democrats that are based in fact.  Republicans have been good at winning elections with fear tactics.  They have also been poor at governing, because they limit regulations and responsibilities of banks and corporations while giving the wealthy unsustainable tax breaks.   Their message of “less taxes and regulation” appeals to many but benefits the wealthiest few.

 

Threats to our freedoms don’t just come from government.  An unregulated private sector contributes to treacherous working conditions, hazardous products, predatory lending and environmental damage.  In that sense, effective government protects our freedoms from a predatory profit motive.  I am all for wealthy people and businesses prospering, but not at the expense of our well being.  

 

Rich or otherwise, we all require a healthy planet to survive. 


Posted by pencandle at 5:05 PM EDT
Friday, March 19, 2010
Contact Congressman Arcuri
Below is the message I sent to Congressman Arcuri regarding his decision to vote against health care reform.  If you disagree with his decision, you can send him a message, too, at
Other ways to contact him: 

Washington, DC:

127 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-3665
Fax: 202-225-1891

Hours: 9:00am-6:00pm (In Session)

9:00am-5:00pm (Out of Session)

Utica, NY:

10 Broad Street, Room 330
Utica, NY 13501
Phone: 315-793-8146/8147
Fax: 315-798-4099

Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm

Dear Congressman Arcuri:
While I agree with your reasons for not supporting the proposed health care bill, I think it is a big mistake that you are not voting for it.  The issues you describe below can all be fixed with further legislation.  We need to pass a bill now, as imperfect as it is, otherwise, we will not get health care reform at all.  Congressman Kucinich changed his mind about voting for this bill, because he is looking for the overall good of those who will benefit from the provision that will help people. You can change your mind, too.  

"Doesn't allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices."  I agree that it was a mistake that the Administration made the deal they made with big pharma, but can't this be a separate matter for reconciliation, as it would affect the budget?

"Doesn't remove the anti-trust exemption for insurance companies."  The House has already passed a separate bill for anti trust exemption.  While this does not fit the bill for reconciliation, there may be enough across the board populist support for this measure, that it will get 60 votes in the Senate. 

"Includes an excise tax on high-quality health insurance plans (i.e. Cadillac Plans)." It will be a while before these fees kick in, so this too can be fixed at a later time with reconciliation, so long as an alternate revenue stream could result in a decrease in spending.   
To summarize, we all know the pending legislation is less than perfect for many reasons, but this bill will get our foot in the door with health care reform that covers more people, regulates bad health insurance company practices and decreases the deficit.  What more do you want? 

Posted by pencandle at 12:10 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, March 19, 2010 12:12 AM EDT
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Corporate Compromise of Government and Media

 

 

            While many of us remain ensconced in a partisan battle between left and right, we often miss the bigger picture of this two dimensional paradigm.  Speak “English” you say?  While many of us are arguing over conservative versus liberal points of view, we don’t notice that there is another way to look at the political landscape.  We miss how wealthy corporate special interests often influence and control the debate at a different level.  What is good for them versus what is good for the vast majority of hard working citizens, who tend to make less than 6 figure incomes, usually for a family. 

 

            So, am I fanning the flames of class warfare.  Absolutely not.  As Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest Americans, once said, “There is class warfare and we (the rich) are winning.  I pay less taxes than my secretary”.  This is not an exact quote, but it is close.  Who has the money to lobby Congress and the White House?  Wealthy corporate special interests are at the top of the list.  FDR referred to them as the economic royalists.  Now, we don’t have to hate these folks, or vilify them.  They are just doing what they are good at, making lots of money.  But, we should be aware of their influence, and mount a reasonable effort to level the political playing field.  One solution is to have publicly financed elections and free air time for real debates about issues.  Is that socialism?  No, it is simply a safe guard against too much corporate influence. 

 

            A similar problem exists with the news media, who rely on corporate advertising, or in the case of PBS, corporate funding.  While the air waves are filled with hysteria about government controlling our lives, little is said about corporate control of our lives. 

 

            You don’t have to have cable to watch Rachael Maddow, who has a nightly news and comment show on MSNBC.  You just have to look up her web site on MSNBC, and check out her coverage of the issues. 

            Go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ and look at “Senators abandon honor to block health reform".  On 3/2/2010, she had a great comment on the hypocrisy of key Republicans who are trying to scare the heck out of us, over the prospect of using reconciliation in the Senate to pass health care reform.  Of particular interest is how the Washington Post published a lie infested Op Ed, by one Senator, that distorts the truth about the history and use of the reconciliation process.  This confluence of corporate influence, government and the media, keeps middle class Americans fighting with each other over partisan issues, while the rich continue to get richer and the middle class stagnates and declines. 

 

            Sorry if I sound a bit conspiratorial, but there seems to be a relationship.  It may not be intended or as orchestrated as it seems, but I think it does exist.  So, when you see tea party groups sponsoring “Take Back America” tours and demonstrations, they will be talking anti-government.  But, part of what they don’t like about government is the kind of corporate influence that allows bail outs for “too big to fail” corporate and banking entities, that recover with record profits in one year, and dole out large bonuses, while those who were put out of work by their greed and irresponsibility are still looking for a new job.  So, the big question is, from whom do we really need to take back America? 


Posted by pencandle at 4:04 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 4:07 AM EST
Sunday, February 14, 2010
From the Hill

Go to

http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/brent-budowsky/61691-how-dems-win-in-2010  

 for original posting.

How Dems win in 2010
By Brent Budowsky - 10/05/09 05:03 PM ET

Democrats should fight for the public option that a majority of Americans support. Democrats should fight to end credit card rip-offs by banks receiving taxpayer welfare while screwing those who pay for it. Democrats should fight to repeal the antitrust exemption for insurers that legalizes price-fixing by insurers dumping huge premium increases on suffering consumers during a jobs emergency.

I am going rogue. Democrats can win the 2010 elections if they remember why they were elected in 2006 and 2008. They could lose big if they don’t.

President Barack Obama’s support for the public option has been weak at best, but behind the scenes there is a major effort to pass it. If the president fights for it, he wins with majority public support.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is holding major hearings Thursday for the bill he introduced with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to end credit card abuses by moving the effective date of the credit card law to this year.

If Frank and Maloney fight for this bill with the president’s support, they win. They would be applauded by voters holding some 700 million credit cards who are angry at being abused by banks that announce gigantic bonuses, made possible by gigantic bailouts, paid for by them.

Democrats could lose real or effective control of the House in 2010. If they do, the Obama program is bye-bye, kaput, and farewell. The Obama years would be a modest interlude that began with profound promise but ended with business as usual in Washington that fomented the same backlash against Democrats that defeated Republicans.

Don’t believe pundits who are brilliant at predicting yesterday’s news. They were often wrong about 2006 and 2008. They live in a Stockholm Syndrome of insiderism. Democrats can still win in 2010. Frank Rich nailed it Sunday in The New York Times. Democrats were not elected to glorify Democratic insiders dining at plush restaurants and reaping payola selling their soul and their party for things they never believed in, doling out cash to Democratic members to entice them to vote for things they never believed in, either.

I am going rogue because I believe Democrats can win if they fight like hell for things they believe in, which most Americans want, and will lose by accepting the Gilded Age abuses, which most Americans despise.

Democrats can win if they stop being corrupted by cash and bullied by lies paid for by special interests. Democrats will lose if they remain cowed into fear by those who shout at town meetings, yell at joint sessions, rant on cable television, slander on talk radio, bring guns to greet elected officials, take surveys about violence against presidents, cheer when America does not win the Olympics and filibuster to preserve, protect and defend the despised status quo.

The president should fight for the public option the majority of Americans support. Democrats should stand with the huge majority of Americans to end credit card rip-offs that punish consumers and small businesses that create the jobs our nation desperately needs. Democrats should stand against the price-fixing and premium-gouging that plague the health of heartland America.

If Democrats have the courage of their convictions and campaign promises, they can win in 2010.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 


Posted by pencandle at 3:55 AM EST
Friday, February 12, 2010
Taking Pride in their Ignorance
Republican Hypocrisy In 2005, the Republican majority in the US Senate threatened to end the filibuster, because Democrats were filibustering radical nominees by the Bush Administration.  Republican Mitch McConnell said there should be up or down votes for nominees no matter who is President, no matter who controls the Senate.   In any two year session of Congress, the most any party filibustered in recent times, was 60.  As soon as Republicans became the minority party in the US Senate in 2007, they increased the use of the filibuster to 112.  In the current session, they have threatened a filibuster for almost every vote, thereby requiring a super majority of 60 to end a filibuster and thus get that up or down vote.   Recently, one of President Obama’s nominees only got 53 votes to end the threat of a filibuster, thus, the nomination is still on hold.  Republicans held up one nomination for 9 months, and when the final vote was taken, the nominee was approved by 96 votes.  A bill to extend unemployment benefits was held up by Republicans for several weeks, and then finally passed with over 90 votes.   Republicans are playing a delay game, not due to any sincere disagreement with a nominee or bill, but only to slow down progress, so the majority Democrats will look inept.  Health Care Reform with a public option could have passed if only a majority of 51 votes was needed.  There are currently over 200 bills passed by the House that are being held up by Republican Senate obstructionism.  One Senator from Alabama put a hold on over 70 Presidential nominees, just because he wanted a favorable decision for defense spending in his State.  He finally gave in on most of these, once his constituents complained.   Senators Tom Harkin and Jean Shaheen have  proposed a bill that would limit how long a bill or nominee can be held up by a filibuster.  Every two days, the number needed to end the threat of filibuster would decrease from 60, then to 57 then to 54 and then 51.  This would allow the Senate to slow down debate and confirmations, but not indefinitely.  The role of the Senate, is to be more deliberative, but not to  be obstructive.  This is one aspect of the governing process that is truly broken because of the abuse of Republicans.   You can help reform Senate rules by letting your Senators know you support and co-sponsor the Harkin Shaheen proposal to reform the filibuster process.  Go to http://www.senate.gov/ and follow directions to go to your Senators’ sites and contact them about this issue.  You may want to suggest that the Senate rules for holds on nominees be reformed as well.   

You can also ask them to support the proposed bill by Senator Schumer of New York that would put some limits on the impact of the recent Supreme Court decision that allows multi-national corporations to spend unlimited funds to support or defeat any candidate for office.  Ultimately, it hurts working class people, regardless of political leaning, to have any influence on our elections.  We can’t compete with Bank of America or Exxon – Mobil, to name a couple, neither can the unions. 

 

Source of information is the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.  Go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908#35359330 for more details. 

 

 

 

 

Republican Hysteria We know there are extremely conservative members in the House and Senate, who embrace some of the provocative hate rhetoric of the tea party movement.  Examples include calling the President a socialist, a fascist, a racist or showing pictures of him with a Hitler moustache.  They use misleading scare tactics about pending legislation like “death panels”, government take overs and tax increases, to get people to vote against their own self interest.   However, one Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, Paul Ryan, was considered one of the more thoughtful, intelligent members, who knows a lot about finances.  He has proposed an alternate budget that would cut Social Security and Medicare and then privatize both over time.  There are less extreme ways to keep these programs solvent, that would also address concerns about the debt and deficits.   He stated that he voted for the bank bailout, because he had read the history revising book, Liberal Fascism, and thought voting for the bank bailout would prevent a depression that would allow President Obama to further his liberal fascist goals.  This is an example of fear and smear tactics of Republicans and extreme conservatives, who are willing to revise history to scare voters (especially tea party advocates) into voting against anyone or any policy that can be labeled liberal.   The real definition of fascism involves undue corporate influence over government, with an overly zealous militaristic nationalism and dictatorial leadership.  Under President George W. Bush, all three of these tendencies were in play.  President Obama and Democrats are trying to reverse those trends, but Republicans are obstructing their efforts.   It is becoming more apparent that there are few moderate Republicans left, and the few that are still in office are being driven further to the right, due to primary challenges and party politics.   So, if you are frustrated with government and you want to vote for Republicans to send a message, think again.  You will be shooting yourself in your financial foot.   

More important, you will be sending our country back in the direction of no government oversight to prevent another economic meltdown, more tax cuts for the wealthy, a further erosion of the middle class and a loss of benefits for future generations.  Don’t reward Republicans for bad behavior, be it their scare tactics, their obstructionism or their support of the rich at the expense of the middle class. 

 

Source of information is the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.  Go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908#35359330 for more details. 

 

 

 

Global Warming Lies – Taking Pride in Our Ignorance 

Some Republicans and Conservative are good at getting votes

from independent without a college education by providing

simple arguments against science.  Global warming, for

instance, is a long term temperature increase in the overall

environment, caused by greenhouse gases produced by

people.  The science behind this is almost unanimous.  So, when

the there is extreme winter weather in the Washington DC area,  

it doesn’t mean there is no global warming.  Last year was the

second warmest on record.  The last decade was the warmest

on record.  So, warmer oceans cause more moisture in the

air which when it is met with colder air, you get more snow

storms.  Don’t be fooled by politicians representing Exxon –

Mobil and other titans of the fossil fuel industry, instead of the

people who elected them.  Global warming is real, it is caused

by man’s use of fossil fuels and we must do something to turn it

around soon, to reverse the trend, before it is too late to do so. 

 

Source of information is the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. 

Go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908#35359330 for

more details. 

 

Terror Lies Republicans misrepresent the truth about the attempted air plane bombing on Christmas Day, 2009.  If you are arrested on American soil, and are not a citizen, you still have Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent.  Torture and enhanced interrogation only helps to get someone to say what you want to hear, it does not provide good intelligence.  Miranda rights are there, not to protect the guilty, but rather the innocent.  The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is there to protect the innocent who are falsely or erroneously accused of a crime.   The question we will never get answered is whether water boarding was used against at least one suspect to get him to say there was a link between Iraq and 9-11, in order to justify a war that GW Bush had in political pipeline long before 9-11.   In the meantime, Republicans are welcome to offer constructive criticism or even positive suggestions to the current Administration, rather than trying to trash them in the media. 

 

 


Posted by pencandle at 4:20 AM EST
Updated: Friday, February 12, 2010 4:29 AM EST
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rewarding Bad Behavior – top reasons for not voting Republican

If you are fed up with Washington and plan to vote Republican in 2010, think again. 

The tea party movement showed its true colors on the weekend of February 6, 2010.  Former Republican Congressman, Tom Tancredo, who cannot even tolerate legal immigration to the US, called for a civic literacy test before an American citizen can vote, similar to the laws that were used to prevent blacks from voting in the south as late as the 1960’s.  Of course, he was cheered for this, which caused Megan McCain to say that this was “innate racism”.  Too bad her father, who courageously suffered torture for 5 years as a prisoner of war, does not have the courage to admonish this demagoguery.  Once again, no principled Republican officer holder, much less the chairmen of the RNC have the courage to take this group to task, because they are energized with hate, fear and ignorance, and may come out in droves to vote for Republicans.  This is the first reason not to vote Republican.  They are embracing a misguided vocal minority who would take us backwards to a mythical time that never existed, when there were supposedly only white people.  Just like when Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith admonished Senator Joe McCarthy for his communist witch hunt, today’s Republican leaders should admonish hate and fearful rhetoric, as a matter of principle. 

It is now clear, that whatever legitimate complaints exist in the tea party movement, it is tainted with racism.  We are not one America, and as Nancy Pelosi’s daughter concluded from a documentary she made about the far right, bringing Americans together is a much taller order, then a message of hope could bridge.  With histrionic cries from some tea party participants saying “I want my country back”, the real cry was for a great white hope to unseat a President, whose very existence is intolerable to them.  These folks have existed for a long time in our nation, and people like Sarah Palin escalated their fears to a point where even John McCain had to assure one crowd, to their frustration, that Obama was a decent man.  But, it was too late.  The gasoline had already been thrown on the fire, with a negative campaign that tried to scare people from voting for Obama.  The only people they scared were those already fueled with ignorance and fear that ignited into hate.  Sarah energized them alright.  She escalated their irrational fears for political gain, and so she continues. 

And after the election, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News kept the fire going with accusations of socialism, fascism, Hitler moustaches painted on Obama, all in the name of taking their country back from the tyranny of affordable health care for most of our citizens.   It was clear that corporate funded political organizations were also fueling the flames of ignorance and fear by mischaracterizing proposed health care legislation, in order to energize this vocal misguided minority.

 

Then, there was the myth of a filibuster proof majority that never really existed, because of several Republicrats who caucus with Democrats, but at least threaten to vote with
Republicans to filibuster something a majority of Americans voted for and wanted,affordable health care for all, just like most developed capitalist countries have. 

This leads to the second reason not to vote for Republicans, obstructionism.  Republicans in 60 votes to pass any bill.  It has brought government to a standstill.  Several bills
passed by the House await action by the Senate.  The Senate is also responsible forconfirming Presidential appointments.  One appointee was held up for 9 months, and
when the final vote was taken, that individual was confirmed with 96 votes.  One Senator from Alabama put a hold on over 70 Presidential appointees, because he
wanted a defense contract to go to a business from a foreign country that has a plant in his state.  In other words, he was holding up these appointments for pork, an ear mark,
the kind of stuff John McCain campaigned against.  Republicans in the Senate have held up bills with lots of procedures, and then turn around and vote for them.
Republicans have called for certain measures, and when the President endorses them,they vote against it. 

As Rachel Maddow said on her show on February 9, 2010, policy is nothing,politics is everything.  She provided a litany of Republicans who spoke against the
stimulus bill and voted against it, then proceeded to take credit for the money going to their state or district.  Anything to make the President and Democrats look bad, like
they can’t govern.  They are not interested in accomplishing anything, they only want to win elections.  Republicans are good at messaging and winning elections, they just
can’t govern, partly because they think government is the problem, so why should it work. 

This leads to the third reason not to vote for Republicans.  They are in bed with wealthy corporate interests.  They are on the side of these corporations and not on the side of
people who vote them into office.  They are standing in the way of consumer protection against predator lenders and they oppose regulation of the banking industry that
brought our country to its financial knees.  They oppose making the banks pay back tax payer money given to them to bail them out of their misbehavior.  They side with the
health insurance companies and their excessive profits. They side with the fossil fuel industry against the need to address pollution and climate change.  They were for cap
and trade emission controls before they were against it, the difference being that Obama was for it, so naturally,  they now have to oppose it.  You can’t fault them for
that.  Or, can you? 

If you are sick of government inaction, the Republicans are preventing government from working.  If you are worried about the deficits and debt, remember it was Vice President
Cheney who said “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter”.  They don’t matter in terms of winning elections.  They only matter when Democrats are in power. 

If you are worried about your freedom, remember it was President Bush that believed in the unitary (or absolute) power of the Executive branch.  It was Republicans who
pushed the Patriot Acts through Congress without time to read them.  It was the Republicans in the Supreme Court that gave corporations the same rights as
individuals, thus allowing them to engage in unlimited spending on campaigns.  They can spend as much as they want to defeat or elect someone, depending on how
much that candidate supports their interests. 

Republicans have embraced a politics of fear, saying only they can keep you safe from terrorists, by shredding our bill of rights and starting unnecessary wars.  Only they
can balance the budget, by taking away your entitlements.  And if you still think things will be better with more Republicans in Washington DC, remember the pay to play
schemes of Tom Delay or Hastert’s pronouncement that we should not rebuild New Orleans after Katrina.  Remember how well the Bush Administration addressed
that disaster.  If you vote for Republicans, you are rewarding bad behavior.  No matterhow frustrated you are about the debt, the deficits, government spending and
government in general, remember the sharp increase in the deficit came about because of a near depression brought about by the deregulation policies primarily championed
by Republicans, tax cuts that primarily help the wealthy, two wars, one of which was not necessary and believing that deficits don’t matter, unless you are a Democrat in power.
Then, all of a sudden, they are very important. 


Posted by pencandle at 7:16 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 7:30 AM EST
Saturday, February 6, 2010
A Tyranny of One

Senator Holds Up 70 Obama Nominees

 

One way the US Senate is not just the tyranny of a minority.  It is the tyranny of one.  Prior to the passing of Senate Health Care Reform bill, at least 3 Senators were able to extort the majority for special concessions.   Lieberman killed the public option and Medicare expansion, despite his constituents favoring it.  Senator Ben Nelson got free Medicaid expansion in Nebraska (leading to voter outrage in Massachusetts that led to Scott Brown’s election) and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu got 1 to 3 hundred million to help close a Medicaid funding gap in her state.  These were 3 Democrats extorting the Senate leadership for one vote, sickening voters with the apparent deal making that enrages tea party folks and independents. 

 

Now, Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama (a former Democrat, who switched sides in 1994 when Republicans gained a majority in the Senate) is putting a hold on all 70 plus Obama appointees.  He is not concerned with their qualifications.  He simply wants an ear mark for his state.  He wants a funding for an air force tanker contract from a company that has contributed to his campaign.  This is arrogant extortion.  There should be a law against this kind of behavior. 

 

For more information, go to Rachel Maddow’s web site at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#35266108 and

click on “Senator Shelby holds Obama appointees hostage”.

 

Yet, everyone predicts that Republicans will win big in November 2010, because voters are enraged that nothing can get done in Washington.   With their record breaking use of the filibuster to hold up appointees and proposed legislation that voters voted for in 2008, they are causing a bottleneck in the Senate and are likely to be rewarded for their bad behavior. 

 

To send Senator Shelby a message, go to E-Mail Senator Shelby at: 

http://shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactSenatorShelby.EmailSenatorShelby


Posted by pencandle at 3:12 AM EST
Friday, February 5, 2010
"Republicans Bet on Bank"

Republicans Support of Corporate Free Speech at Odds with Tea Party Folks. 

 

If you watch Rachel Maddow at

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#35249084

 

and click on “Republicans Bet on Banks”  you will see a clear argument that Republicans are openly supporting big banks against reform, they are going to oppose a jobs bill, and they think the Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate funding for election campaign ads is a victory for the first amendment.  Many tea bag leaders and libertarians think the Supreme Court decision is a disaster for the freedom of speech of ordinary citizens.  Obviously, we can’t compete with their funding stream.  Even the unions have much less money than corporations for this purpose. 

 

Her message suggests that Democrats can regain the trust and support of independents and help to disenchant tea party types from blindly voting for Republicans, if Republicans are called out for their support of banks and big business.  It has been clear that tea bag folks have been manipulated by corporate money disguised as grass roots organizations, to vote against their own well being.  Fear works.  Can the light of truth work better? 


Posted by pencandle at 3:12 AM EST
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
We Need a News Media Consumer Bill of Rights

Rebuttal

 

For a nice rebuttal to Republican talking points regarding the Justice Department’s handling of the Christmas Day Airline bomber, go to Rachel Maddow at

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/35227215#35227215

 

What we really need in America is a News Media Consumer Bill of Rights. 

 

We know that the news media is tainted with a corporate slant.  The most glaring example was during the 90’s when CBS 60 Minutes declined to do an expose’ on the tobacco industry. 

 

We can see where even PBS may be compromised by corporate funding. 

 

Consumer Reports offers unbiased information on products that we buy.  We don’t have a similar review of the news media.  Recently, I noted how Fox News has the greatest following.  Previous reports indicate that Fox News viewers are usually more misinformed than others. 

 

What would this Bill of Rights entail? 

 

Free access to unbiased information. 

 

Independent review of issues regarding accuracy. 

 

In the meantime, let the consumer be aware.

 

Know the difference between a negative labeling process of public officials and an accurate objective review of their positions, accomplishments and competency. 

 

Know the difference between a negative labeling of a policy proposal and an accurate objective review of its proposals and possible impact. 

 

The current media relies too much on the opinion of pundits and so called experts who may have an ideological bias or a corporate backing. 

 

What is the difference between partisan politics and policy debate?  I think the difference is this.  Partisan politics is about winning elections, which usually relies on the labeling that is referred to above, or the inaccurate subjective description of a candidate or policy proposal.   A responsible debate would provide an accurate, objective description of a candidate or policy proposal, which would include the trade offs involved.  This would help us voters make intelligent decisions about who to vote for, and what to write to them about, when it comes to the issues.  

 

Ultimately, there still seems to be a need for publicly funded elections with a limit on how much can be spent on an election.  We need transparency with lobbyists, including who they represent.  Elected officials should not be allowed to accept contributions or perks from lobbyists. 


Posted by pencandle at 11:52 PM EST
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Who is today's Joe McCarthy

What Ailes Us?

 

Roger Ailes of Fox News says he’s only in it for the ratings (and money that comes with it).  Rush Limbaugh says he’s only in for the money (but he must love the ratings). 

 

Public policy polling says Fox News is the most trusted News network with 49% with only 37% saying they disagree.  CNN gets 39% versus 41% and NBC (which includes MSNBC) gets 35% versus 44%.  Democrats are most loyal to NBC (62%) and Republicans give Fox News 74%. 

 

What does it all mean?  A recent poll by the liberal Daily Kos of Republicans say that 62% of Republicans think Obama is a socialist and 39% think he should be impeached.  36% of Republicans don’t think Obama was born in the USA. 

 

Roger Ailes was media consultant for Nixon, Reagan and HW Bush and is given credit for the infamous Willy Horton ad helped bring down Michael Dukaikis in 1988. 

 

The lesson learned from that (not a new lesson) is that you can garner more votes with fear and deception, then you can with rational truth.  The FCC abolished the Supreme Court supported (but not mandated) Fairness Doctrine in 1987, which required broadcasters to air both sides of an issue.  What came next was the Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, hate radio and media industry which seems to favor conservative rhetoric. 

 

Conservative rhetoric often is a corporate message disguised as populist outrage.  There are sincere conservatives, and then there are the corporate shills who claim to be spokes people for conservative values, less taxes, less intrusion of government.  That all plays well with an angry middle class struggling to make ends meet, but it also leads to lower taxes for the most wealthy (people and corporations) and less regulation. 

 

So, who really fuels the corporate media?  Just watch the ads.  Wall Street traders, investment bankers are the usual suspects. 

 

The purpose of the corporate media is to provide audiences for advertisers.  Hate, deception and division makes the news entertaining.  Division between people in the middle class plays into the greed of corporate wealth.  So, a focus on liberal versus conservative and other divisions (religious, political, etc.) keeps us arguing with each other and keeps some of us voting against self interest. 

 

If you can get enough middle class Americans to believe an increase in the minimum wage causes inflation, while exponential increases in CEO wages and benefits doesn’t affect inflation, you have done a good days work. 

 

So, Republican polster Frank Luntz publicizes his talking point strategies against finance reform, because he thinks he is above public scrutiny.  Finance reform is meant to reign in corporate risk taking at the expense of tax payers.  It is meant to prevent bailouts.  It is also consumer protection against excessive credit card interest rates and hidden fees.  It is also consumer protection against deceptive and predatory lending practices.  So what does Frank say.  Tell people finance reform means more bailouts for big banks, or a loss of jobs, or anything that will scare people. 

 

Which gets us back to what Ailes us.  Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michelle Backman, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter are all merchants of hate, fear, deception and division.  It is not about a debate about the issues, it is an attempt to side step debate in favor of fear.  It is about hating those with whom you disagree, even as you are misinformed about the issues. 

 

This group is the modern day Joe McCarthy era wrapped in the flag and packaged in the notion of representing values voters.  They claim to stand up for your rights, but only if you agree with them, the antithesis of democracy, which requires rational debate and mutual respect.  (Nosurprise  that  Ann Coulter says Joe McCarthy  was right.)

 

And so, some in the corporate media decry how we have become a divided nation, not recognizing their complicity in a demagogic landslide that pushes to the corporate right while turning hard working Americans against each other. 

 

Joe McCarthy’s reign of terror ended when he was called out for what he was.  Republican US Senator Margaret Chase Smith was one who called for his censure.  Joe McCarthy was a Republican.  Bill Buckley would later censure the extremism of the John Birch Society.  But who will censure today’s message of hate and fear.  Progressives and liberals can expose their message for what it is, but until sincere conservatives and Republicans speak out against it, rather than going along with it for political gain, we will continue to be divided.  And as it was once said, “united we stand, divided we fall”, or at least we will fail to move forward. 

 

John McCain, a courageous hero as a prisoner of war, fails to consistently display that courage in the face of a tea party primary challenge.  He failed to show character in how he ran his Presidential campaign.  Susan Collins of Maine adopted the “Democrats are soft on terrorist” rhetoric this past weekend.  Down goes another possible profile in courage.  And now, with unlimited corporate wealth being unleashed on our elections, using the same messages of hate, fear, division and deception, our prospects seem bleak. 

 

There is hope that those who are elected by independent voters may distance themselves from either major party and are not bought by corporations may be able to take a stand.  Scott Brown is pro-choice, so he may not be the darling or Republicans for long.  In the meantime, we can still become informed enough to point out the hypocrisy as it unfolds.  A consistent message may catch on. 


Posted by pencandle at 10:52 PM EST

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