Sunday, January 30, 2011

Corporate monopolies and censorship

This seems to a growing trend, as companies get bigger and take over more sectors of their industry, viewpoints become censored. An excellent example is the recent departure of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC. Neither side has come out and given the real reasons for his departure, but one growing theory has to do with Comcast's recent deal to purchase a majority stake of NBC Universal from General Electric. It seemed like an innocent deal at first, the two companies wouild merge the operations of their cable networks to create a giant operation controlling a large number of cable channels. Then dark side started to show through. It was reported that a Comcast employee was fired after making negative comments about Fox News Channel commentator Bill O'Reilly, because Comcast has a business deal with Fox News's parent company, News Corp. We all know that Fox News is regarded as the main foe to MSNBC, each taking opposite sides of the political spectrum for the most part. We also know that Keith Olbermann was one of the most out spoken critics of the conservative right and big business in politics on MSNBC and helped shaped its liberal point of view. So it would come as no surprise that shortly after the final deal was announced that Keith would sign off for the last time from Countdown. And while Keith's colleauges Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz have said that Keith's departure and Comcast taking over would have no effect on their shows, it has. Some of Ed's more radical segments like Psycho Talk have been taken off and his and Rachel's shows seem more subdued now. Could this spell an end to the liberal point of view at MSNBC? How knows, but we do know this, Keith leaving MSNBC was not a mere coinsidence. We also know this, he'll back, somewhere. He already took to Twitter to do some colorful commentary on the State of the Union address. But I digress. The important thing to remember is when one company owns a large portion of the industry, comeptition and opposition is silenced, so it's time we ended. Time for the trust-busters to come back.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A couple Republicans I can truly respect

I apologize for my absense, but there is much to get to.

I used to have a strong opinion that most if not all Republicans in office or positions of power are idiots. Luckily I'm being proven wrong as the more intelligent members of the GOP start finding their way out, and they bring with them not hate, but ideas, real ideas that work and are willing to agree to disagree with others. Two I want to focus on are Michael Steele and Meghan McCain.

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Michael Steele is not the idiot the liberal media has made him out to be. He is fiscally conservative genius. He knew how to bring the RNC house in fiscal order, and unfortunately this radical change was enough for him to be voted out as RNC chair after only 2 years. He is a breath of fresh air to the GOP, unfortunately he was too radical in the eyes of the GOP establishment. I'll let you watch the above videos when Rachel Maddow interviewed him to decide for himself

Next up is Meghan McCain, who I think is the future of the Republican party as someone who actually gets what is going on and isn't afraid to be different than the rest of the party. I hope she leads the resurgence of young and independently minded Republicans to take back the party from the far right nut jobs of the Tea Party. She is brilliant and I have great hope in her for the future. Again, check out the videos for your own opinion.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thoughts on gun control, Part 1: Redefining the 2nd Amendment

In light of the recent tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, the Devil's Advocate and I will be doing a series of essays and articles about our thoughts on various aspects gun control. This article is going to focus on the Second Amendment to our constitution, which states,
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Like many other parts of the Constitution, I feel that amendment is no longer relevant. The second amendment was included in a time when almost every citizen owned a firearm and was a member of the the local militia. I believe that a new amendment is needed to redefine what the Second Amendment should be.
Only citizens of the United States with sound mind and body with no prior criminal record are premitted to own a firearm. A firearms is defined as a rifle or handgun used for hunting or recreational use. High power rifles, handguns, assault rifles, and high volume magazines are banned for civilian ownership and use. In order to obtain a rifle or handgun, the US citizen must have a valid hunting license and be subject to a psychological examination. There can be only one firearm per person per household. Firearms are not to be carried in public places, college campuses, or government property.

This will in effect reduce the number of firearms in houses and prevent the mentally and physically unstable from obtaining a firearm. I know the NRA wouldn't approve this, and neither would 2/3 of the states needed for ratification. But we need something. Of all western countries, we have the highest rate of gun related deaths. Why is this? Because we have some of the most relaxed gun laws of any western nation. Europe doesn't face this problem, and neither should we. Everyday, we lose over 30 people to gun related deaths. Every year it seems we face a mass shooting; in the last 15 years we've had Columbine, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, an Amish school house in PA, the D.C. Sniper, Fort Hood, a shopping center in the midwest, and now this. Because of the supposed threat of Democrats taking away the guns, they are being bought up and hoarded at an alarming rate. A gentleman I worked with over the summer has enough rifles in house to arm a small militia, which is troubling. He is of sound mind and body, but is distrustig of the government. The Republicans want to take our country back to it's roots, but first we need to disarm it. Only then can we feel safe to walk out of our houses without the fear of facing a possible attack. Only then can we portray ourselves as the model country, the beacon of democracy and hope.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What has our society come to?

What has our society come to that public servants we elect to serve us our targets for the deranged and disturbed. On Saturday, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head as she was conducting an open townhall type meet and greet outside a Tucson grocery store. In the attack, Gifford along with 13 others were wounded and 6 were killed, including Federal District Judge John Roll, a Giffords staffer, and a 9 year old girl. It is clear that the target was the congresswoman and that the district judge was only there by coincidence and not an actual target. But that doesn't matter as this clearly was an attack on the government. Today, the collective thoughts of the entire nation are with Rep. Giffords and all the other victims as the recover or in the worst cases, are remembered. Doctors are cautiously optimistic that she will pull through, and we all hope she does.

What is troubling by this is the cause of the shooting spree. Some political and domestic terror analysts are pointing at the violent rhetoric coming from the conservative end of the media, mainly Fox News and conservative talk radio. If you remember during th last election cycle, Sarah Palin placed on her PAC's website a map of the country with gun site cross-hairs on 10 districts that voted for McCain that had Democratic representatives that voted for the healthcare reform bill, one of those being Rep. Giffords district, another one being the one I currently reside in. Someone deranged like the young man who shot Giffords, could have taken those cross-hairs literally and went after her. Sarah Palin has taken down the map, but has yet to apologize for possibly being the reason for the shooting. However, this is not the first time someone from the right, mainly from Fox News, has inciting and been the reason behind a violent act. If you will remember, an abortion physician, Dr. George Tiller, was gunned down while in his church on a Sunday morning. This happened after Bill O'Reilly repeatedly called him Tiller the Baby Killer on his show. The violent rhetoric needs to end, and it must start with the FCC pulling the plug on Fox News. Free speech and press or not, Fox must take the blame for these terrible actions. Stating your opinion is one thing, calling for for violence against public figures is taking it entirely too far. We need to bring our society back from the edge of the cliff of sanity. John Stewart had the right idea with his Rally to Restore Sanity, because it appears we have lost it.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This didn't take long

I was hoping to have a couple days off from politics before the 112th Congress started, but with the Republicans, I wasn't guaranteed even that. House Republicans are pushing through a bill that would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Now this might seem stupid to you, and that's because it is. While the original bill is far from perfect, it's a step in the right direction towards a complete overhaul. Besides, the Republicans won't be able to get the repeal through since the Democrats stil control the Senate and President Obama as a veto pen he has yet to break in. And even if the House Republicans try to cut funding, the president hopefully vetos that bill, thus shutting down the government. Either way, the Republicans lose on this issue. So unless they want to seal their fate for years to come, it would be smart to just not do this.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Can't say I didn't see this coming

Since the 112th Congress doesn't start for another couple of days, thought I would take a sanity break and talk some football

Well, the inevtiable happened today, Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini was fired by team president Mike Holmgren. After a dismal 5-11 season that bogged down after a pair of spectacular wins over New Orleans and New England, it's time for Mike Holmgren to really build this team into a true playoff contender. Holmgren came in as team president last year and gave Mangini one more chance to prove himself after a four game win streak capped off last season, including a victory over divisional rival Pittsburgh. This year instead the team lost several games it should have won, including against Buffalo and Cincinnati and almost lost a couple by the skin of their teeth. It's clear now that the team finally has a decent defense to contend with under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and somewhat of an offense with a quarterback that has great potential in Colt McCoy and a hardnosed running back that brings back memories of good old days in Peyton Hillis. Now we need a coach with offensive experience to lead them, and the rumor mill is churning now (link). All the prospects have close ties with Holmgren, which makes it harder to speculate you gets the job.

First up is Mike Holmgren himself. Who better to put on the sidelines than the man who coached one of the greatest QBs to play the game, Brett Favre. This would be a Dick Cheney move in that he would say he searched and deemed himself the best. Holmgren in his tenure with Green Bay and Seattle has won a Super Bowl, been to two more and has numerous playoff appearances and division titles. If anybody can turn this team around, it's him. Whether or not he's up to the challenge is yet to be seen.

Next up is John Fox, the recently released coach of the Carolina Panthers. While having a not so good season this year, he's still a solid candidate, along with being Jake Delhomme's former coach. His connection with Holmgren is that they have the same agent. He also has a Super Bowl win under his belt, so he is another good choice, despite being let go by the Panthers.

Another prospect is Jon Gruden. He is a former assistant under Holmgren. He has been mentioned for a while now, since the loss to Buffalo. Gruden has said he likes television for the time being but hasn't ruled out coming back to the sidelines.

The last one is Marty Mornhinweg. He's the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. Another solid choice in that he has been working with Michael Vick the past couple years. He played under Holmgren when Holmgren coached at Mornhinweg's high school. While being very far removed compared to the other candidates. We wouldn't know about him until the playoffs are over seeing as the Eagles are playing in the postseason.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Time to Overturn Citizens United

We're coming up on the one year anniversary of the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission ruling in the Supreme Court. In case you don't know what exactly that case was, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can be considered people, giving them the right of free speech. What this means is that corporations are able to create advertisements for candidates now without revelaing who really funded it. There are still laws however regarding direct contributions to candidates. I did a post on this during the election season (Decision 2010, brought to you by McDonald's in association with Koch Industries), not realizing until later that the joke about McDonald's was actually true. During the last election we saw a large influx of money and campaign ads for candidates from mysterious organizations with innocent names. The problem is those innocent sounding groups are shadow oraginations set up by corporations to scare voters into voting for the candidates they support. Then there was the groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that didn't hide behind shadow groups and inidated us with commercials. I mentioned in that article that we need to do something about this huge problem, and fortunately a group has.
The Coffee Party USA, in conjunction with Fix Congress First, Move to Amend, The Backbone Campaign and Center for Media and Democracy is hosting the For People Summit on the one year anniversary of the Citizens United ruling. Their goal for the summit is to make a push for the people to become the dominant influence in government, and not corporations.

The main goal of Fix Congress First is to get the Fair Elections Now Act pushed through Congress. According to Fix Congress First's website, under the Fair Elections Now Act:
"congressional candidates who raise a threshold number of small-dollar donations would qualify for a chunk of funding—several hundred thousand dollars for House, millions for many Senate races. If they accept this funding, they can’t raise big-dollar donations. But they can raise contributions up to $100, which would be matched four to one by a central fund. Reduced fees for TV airtime is also an element of this bill, creating an incentive for politicians to opt into this system and run people-powered campaigns."
Basically, if a candidate accepts federal campaign money, then it would be illegal to accept money from corporations and their PAC friends. And in order to get that federal money, they would have to take in donations from regular people and small donors. This would in effect give more of the power back into the hands of the people.

At the same time Move To Amend is taking a different approach to the issue. Rather than proposing a piece of legislation to end the practice of corporate donations and over turn Citizens United, they're proposing a Constitutional amendment that would redefine who "the people" in We the People are and shift our government from an oligrachy to more of a democracy. At the following Link you can read the various propositions that are being put forth to deal with corporate personhood, campaign finance and the like. The advantage of this approach is that the rules would be metaphorically etched in stone.

Back to the summit now, the reason the Coffee Party is having it is to bring the issue of corporate campaign donations to the public light more and by having it in Washington, it almost forces lawmakers to take notice of what the public thinks about this issue. If Congress doesn't stop it soon, the future looks bleak for average voting Americans as our voices will be drowned out by those with the money and influence to fund political campaigns that cater to the desires of big business and not middle America. That would only further establish the oligrachy currently running the country. We need take back our country and enbody what President Lincoln said in the Gettysburgh Address, "that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."