Archive for the ‘US Media’ Category

Thoughts on US Third Parties.

This comes from watching the French election, which is a similar legislative-executive system to the US.  I will also admit to voting Green from a disgust with the US duopoly (i.e., the Democrats and Republicans) and its stranglehold on the system.

In a way Dan Savage is correct, the third parties should be running candidates lower down the ticket, in particular for the legislature. That is because a third party would be more effective in pushing its agenda there, or at least in blocking other parties from pushing theirs. It is more effective to be a spoiler/fixer in the legislature than in an election.  Third parties will become a force to be reckoned with once they demonstrate they have power, but they need to be the force to do what the obstructionists in congress have been doing. Or to thwart the obstruction.

One of the Clintonista/Democrat talking points was that the party is a coalition of various political views, but the duopoly parties are failed coalitions.  In some ways, they have become titular left-right parties, although I would argue any difference is more in appearance and relation to hot button issues (e.g. abortion and gun control [1]).  The past election showed how detrimental relying upon hot button issues is to real issues (e.g., the environment).

Third parties are good for keeping politics real. Case in point are the presidential debates which are no longer run by the League of Women Voters.  The president of the LWV, Nancy M. Neuman, denounced this action when the LWV ceased having any real control over the debates:

“It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions,” Neuman said. “The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns’ agreement was negotiated “behind closed doors” and vas presented to the League as “a done deal,” she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.

Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called “outrageous” the campaigns’ demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.

“The campaigns’ agreement is a closed-door masterpiece,” Neuman said. “Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates’ organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands.”

Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.

lwv.org/press-releases/league-refuses-help-perpetrate-fraud
I would that change is drastically needed in US politics, particularly its system of elections, but that will not come as long as the duopoly holds power.

I have pointed out that the Electoral College needs to be abolished, yet the fact that Clinton’s “loss” was due to her failing to secure enough votes in the Electoral College is again overlooked and substituted for blame on everything except the existence of that body (as was the case in 1990).  Both times the “losers” won the popular vote.

Of course, abolition of the Electoral College is only one thing in what is probably a long wish list of electoral reforms needed in the US:

open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform–if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.

While one can dream that there will be internal change, it doesn’t seem likely since the parties still seem entrenched in the same behaviours which have led to the US political system being the disaster it is.

OK, we also need to add in media consolidation here since it is one way the “state” can get away with  form of censorship, but only allowing one message to get out.  Also controlling any opposing voices.

Any real change has to come through the system since violence will backfire and result in the wrong type of change.  Thus any dissenting parties best chance has to be to try and thwart the duopoly and use the duopoly’s power against it.

Change has to come, but it must come by using the system to gain power and then force change.

[1] This is not to say gun control is not important (or abortion), but these issues have been used to get people to vote against their interests.  Neither is one of left and right, but of public welfare and safety.

The Crappy State of the US Media

First it starts with a set of subway ads for shows like Married to a Mime and Bayou Eskimos:


Of course, I have to admit a disgust with how US Media has been consolidated into 6 Corporations controlling 90% of the media in the US, from 50 companies back in 1983.

This info-graphic details what that means to the average person in the US, which is why people might think these shows are real.

They aren’t, they are part of an ad campaign by New York Public Broadcasting, WNET.

media-infographic

Interesting quote of the day:

From the FAIR blog:

Where media define the “center” or the “middle” tells you a lot about the worldview they are promoting. The “center” doesn’t usually indicate where most of the public is, but rather where elites have determined an appropriate middle between opposing arguments. Confusing the two concepts is common (and not an accident).

The Article in question is about the economic advice from two of the most prominent economists who have worked at the highest levels of government and academia.  On the other hand, this is a fairly telling comment as I have been seeing a lot of political terms being misused, such as “socialism” and “conservative”.  The last term being the most thoroughly brutalised of all of them.

“Conservatism”, from the Latin: conservare–“to retain”, is defined as a political and social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional social institutions. A person who follows the philosophies of conservatism is referred to as a traditionalist or conservative. Conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity. According to the 2nd Viscount Hailsham, a former chairman of the British Conservative Party, “Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself.”

To me to be a “Conservative” one must be strongly for social order and institutions while not accepting change to that order without good reason.

Of course, the definition is used about has this caveat:

There is no single set of policies that are universally regarded as conservative, because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time. Thus, conservatives from different parts of the world – each upholding their respective traditions – may disagree on a wide range of issues.

I am of the opinion that the precedent set in the US by its use of force to obtain independence from Britain (a decidedly non-conservative act) has left its mark on US politics to bring about what I call the “reality challenged right”.  Although, one could also add that other factors are also afoot to create the “reality challenged right”.

The main characteristic of this is the belief in the use of force in politics, which is not found in most civilised nations.  In fact, that is probably the most obvious characteristic of this movement.

Another characteristic is being fact adverse, with the most frightening aspect being the failure to address climate change as news comes that the atmospheric level of a carbon dioxide has reached a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.  Scientists believe the rise in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

“It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

I have to admit that I find this movement quite frightening and am not sure how it could have been allowed to arise, but the fact that such a disastrous political faction could be given any level of credibility, let alone called “Conservative”, boggles my mind.

The rightward trend in US politics.

Sure it’s a cartoon, but Ted Rall hits the nail on the head:

Who Spent the Social Security Trust Fund Money?

Cross posted from http://penigma.blogspot.com/2011/03/who-spent-social-security-trust-fund.html with permission:

Social Security should have a surplus. Republicans and Tea Partiers, like Rand Paul, tell us the money was spent, and they want to change benefits and the retirement age. They hate what they like to call ‘entitlements’; they never liked them. Like unions, they have been looking for pretexts to get rid of it.

So……….where is the money, and who spent it? Having spent it, why the hell do they think it is acceptable to simply say, so sad, too bad, and for the government not to pay it back?

Lets take a look at when the money started being spent. That would take us back to George H.W. Bush. It continued under the next president, Bill Clinton; but to his credit, Clinton presided over a booming economy, and handed over a surplus to the Shrub, George ‘Dubya’ Bush. And that appears to be where the spending went nuts, blowing the balance of the Social Security money with his wars and most of all, with his ill-conceived tax cuts —- the ones that benefit the wealthy very few, so very, very much more than anyone else.
Let me remind you how much the Democrats had a different taxation program than do the Republicans – and Tea Partiers:

So lets take a look at the money, the missing money, and who paid in that money. Because the people who paid in that money to Social Security have every right to be angry, and to demand that the money be repaid rather than be told they are out of luck.

That would be……..the baby boomers. There are quite a lot of baby boomers, they are no small demographic. They are aging, and as they do, they are a force to be reckoned with at the ballot box.

To reprise the history:

“The baby boomers have contributed more to Social Security than any other generation,” says economist Allen W. Smith. “They have prepaid the cost of their own retirement, in addition to paying the cost of the generation that preceded them.”

Smith points out that the baby boomers have kept their end of the bargain, which was proposed by the Greenspan Commission and enacted into law in 1983. “The higher taxes that were part of the 1983 ‘solution’ to the baby boomer problem have generated the annual Social Security surpluses anticipated so far, and they will continue to do so until 2018,” Smith said.

According to Smith, by 2018, the baby boomers will have paid enough extra taxes to have generated a $3.7 trillion reserve in the trust fund, which would be sufficient to pay full benefits until 2042 when the youngest of the boomers would be 78 years old.

“Despite these promises, President Bush has been raiding the trust fund since he took office,” Smith said, “and he no longer tries to conceal what he has done. In an effort to muster support for his privatization proposal, he has been openly admitting to the raiding of the fund.”

“There may be ‘no trust’ when it comes to Bush’s handling of Social Security money,” Smith argued, “but there most certainly is a trust fund. That fund is empty today because President Bush has used the money to pay for tax cuts, the war in Iraq, and many other programs. So, instead of trying to blame the baby boomers for Social Security’s current problems, Bush should stop spending Social Security money on other programs and repay the money he has already spent.”

As one of those who has been contributing those higher tax contributions into that trust fund, I want that money. I will not accept being told “too bad we spent it, you are S O L” by Republicans and Tea Partiers like Rand Paul. Pay it back, pay it back NOW, and if that means you have to end the damnable Bush Tax Cuts to the wealthy to do that, I don’t care. The wealthy may try to keep you on a short leash, Rand Paul, but that is your problem, and your cronies problem.

Don’t even think about making it my problem. I vote. I write. I am willing along with the baby boomers to go boom on your behind.

Let that spending of the Social Security Trust Fund become part of the George W. Bush failed presidential legacy. Let the Boomers take the lead in condemning him to history; I’m sure we won’t be the last, or the only ones to do so. And Tea Partiers, like Rand Paul? Be on notice, about that missing money? Better start coming up with ways to pay it back, not change the goal posts on us.

Six versus Seventy!

The US media is full of talk about a budget being proposed by The US Sentate’s “Gang of Six”, yet the media tends to neglect that there is a gang of Seventy–The US Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). These are the Democrats in the House who have already vowed to oppose any deal which cuts benefits in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Congressman Raúl Grijalva, co-chair of CPC has pointed out that:

“Our Gang of Seventy-plus has the Gang of Six completely outnumbered, and with Republicans not voting for any package, period, because of their opposition to a functional economy. The House Democrats hold the key to whatever plan can pass Congress.”

Grijalva and his allies point to the CPC People’s Budget as an alternative more in sync with what people want and the economy needs—a budget that calls for shared sacrifice. For example, 66 percent of Americans favor raising income tax rates on those making more than $250,000 and 67 percent support raising the wage cap for Social Security taxes. Both of these measures are included in the CPC budget. It’s a budget that also offers sensible cuts to military spending run amok, new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, and an investment of $1.45 trillion in job creation, education, clean energy, broadband infrastructure, housing, and R&D. And it does all of this while achieving a lower debt-to-GDP ration in 2020 than the widely praised—praised by the elite, that is— budget proposal from Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.

In contrast, the Gang of Six proposal shafts those who have already borne so much of the burden of the financial crisis and its fallout—lost pensions, lost homes, lost wealth—while the very people who brought the economy to its knees through their recklessness make out like banksters and bandits. In fact, at a time of inequality akin to that of the Gilded Age, the top marginal tax rate would be lowered—lowered!—to 23 to 29 percent, while there would be massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), notes that JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein would save approximately $2 million to $3 million on their tax bills. But in twenty years, a 90-year-old living on a Social Security income of $15,000 would lose more than $1,200 a year in benefits.

How’s that a “bargain” for this nation and who exactly finds it “grand”?

All along, the alternatives that reflect the popular idea of shared sacrifice have been marginalized—by the political establishment (and, tragically, the Democratic leadership) and the corporate media. That’s one reason we are where we are in terms of the shape of this budget deal, where a ludicrous moral equivalence is being drawn between an increase in capital gains or carried interest tax and cuts in the very programs that have brought security and dignity to millions of Americans when they need it the most.

This is not about left and right. This is about right and wrong. And that’s something the political and media establishment just don’t seem to get.

See:
Congressional Progressive Caucus : FY2012 Progressive Budget

LUV News–GET IT!!!

Each morning we get up to scan the Internet for news and opinion censored by the US corporate media and put out what we call LUV News. We never ask for money at LUV News for anything we do and ask people who want to contribute to instead help the web sites that are putting out public interest stories each day, like Intrepid Report, or to help other worthy causes. To join and get the daily email one need only go here.

We have long stated our goal at LUV News is to go out of business, and that will be possible when a mass media source opens which allows important censored facts to get to the public. About 500 people currently help get LUV News out to friends, family, work colleagues and Internet groups.

There is currently no public interest network existing. PBS and NPR are a joke, taking the corporate money and doing their bidding. I have a standing offer to PBS NewsHour and NPR Morning Edition to take on their big news programs any day of the year and show them their bias going against the public interest . They have so far refused to take me up on it, because I have asked for an hour of time should I prove my point, while bringing them a hundred new or renewed members should I not be able to find such bias any day of the year. I am convinced they know they would lose the bet.