Freedom for Expression

December 5, 2012

Studio of Finnish local radio station "Ba...

Studio of Finnish local radio station “Basso radio” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got busy around the election and had lots of time to digest the outcome.

I’m sure Romney was sad with his loss and as such, Clear Channel Communications, controlled by Bain Capital, pulled the plug on Portland’s local commercial progressive talk radio.  That station had been on the air for over 8 years but according to ownership, was pulling in a small audience.

I’m licking my wounds missing our local liberal broadcast and have some thoughts on monolithic ownership of am/fm and over the air television stations.    In the loss of this talk radio station, I see the echo of the loss of other rich and diverse local radio stations over the years.

I am a gen Xer from the mid 60s.  I grew up tasting the remnants of the heady 60s and 70s ideas and culture.   In a time without Itunes, the culture of radio was rich and vibrant.   Cities had many choices for programming because local ownership was required to receive a broadcasting license.  There was a lack of uniformity , but also there were wide swaths of completely different musical culture simply because of geography.

In some ways, the internet has changed that.  In other ways, national corporate domination of the am/fm and tv airwaves has come to the fore after the local ownership rules were eviscerated in 1996.  Now from town to town, everything is the same on the radio.  All of the stations have been bought by a select group of owners who control it all but for a small fraction of the airwaves.

There is so much that is wrong with the current state of terrestrial am/fm broadcasting.

Years ago, the DJ in the booth could choose the music and shows even had live requests and callers on the air in between songs.  Now more often than not, music playlists are programmed the same across the country by a handful of people.  I  believe it is this fact more than mp3 file sharing technology that has stymied the music industry.

This McMusic approach to radio broadcasting has really made the business about nothing more than money.   Gone are the days that most stations have the freedom to put some love out to their audience and pull in a local crowd.  At this point it is hard to argue that any of Clear Channel is in service to the public except to provide a format that satisfies the lowest common denominator across the country.  Sirius and XM have customers because most of the airwaves are dominated by lame schlocky programming.

I am lucky to live in Portland where there are several alternatives for radio programming, one is dedicated to local bands and musicians even.   I have seen these kind of stations come and go.  The stations with the higher power to have a strong signal over larger area ultimately get sold out to larger corporate owners.   If the broadcast is kind of weak, it is not as attractive.  That is why if you hear anything interesting on the radio these days, it’s on the noisy station with a weak signal.

Ultimately Portland’s former liberal talk station was a business venture that the ownership did not wish to promote or grow.  Nothing personal, it’s just dollars and cents right?  To me it seems like the McTalk approach to engaging an audience at work.

We live in a country with around 50 progressive talk radio stations on low powered stations.  They try to balance out the over 900 conservative talk radio stations, many are high powered strong signal.  The playing field is far from fair and it is this massive megaphone to broadcast lies and illusions that keeps us mired.  It is why, with such a decisive electoral victory for the Dems,  the GOP has failed to react to the election results.  They live in their loud, controlled, self absorbed bubble, to the hazard of all that contradicts their upside down view of the world.

There should be a new guarantee by the FCC to allow diverse and local ownership of television and radio across the country.  It will allow greater diversity in programming, create many jobs in broadcasting, allow for greater freedom and exchange of ideas and create a new flowering of American musical culture.   It will get rid of some of the plutocracy and bring back some Democracy to the airwaves.

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

 

Meet Paul Ryan, the GOP congressman running to keep his seat in congress.  Oh and he is also running for Vice President with Mitt Romney this year.  Talk about hedging your bets!  What a play this guy has.  I bet he buys about 50 lottery tickets at a time.   It is like playing several numbers on the same spin of the wheel.

 

What a waste of Wisconsin taxpayer’s expense to run Mr Ryan as a representative.  What if he wins both elections?  He will have to forfeit his seat in the House so he can preside in the Senate.   On second thought, maybe he could do both jobs.  After all the House has not done much of anything this year.   Make no mistake, the GOP controls the House this year and all they have done is play golf and change the names of post offices.   If things stay slow over there, he could pick up some extra hours as VP.

 

I had to laugh when I heard Paul Ryan’s first speech.  He did a John Boehner, “Where are the Jobs Mr President?”    The answer is of course, the jobs are waiting for Rep Ryan’s YES vote on President Obama’s Jobs bill back in the House of Representatives.  Of course they won’t vote on that, they would rather try to blame their inaction on Obama.   What a shill,  what a maroon!!  It was a Bugs Bunny guffaw for a minute but then I started thinking about what could happen if Paul Ryan became the next Vice President.    That will be the subject of another post, because I’m not ready to descend into the darkness that the Romney/Ryan ticket signifies.

 

We have to hand it to Romney, however, Ryan is not vapid like Sarah Palin.  Romney seems to have made a better choice than McCain in this area.  He is easy on the eyes and easy on the ears if you are stuck in the permanent state of cognitive dissonance that results from overexposure to Fox News.  He has the easy charming gaze of a rattlesnake about eat his next mouse.  He may even charm some middle road poorly informed ‘independent’ voters.
Even if the Romney wagon doesn’t ascend into the stars,  I think we will see this character on the national stage over and over until the nation figures out that the main product of the GOP is Snake Oil.

 

 

united states currency eye- IMG_7364_web

(Photo credit: kevindean)

Mitt Romney’s  overseas trip has been fodder for the press and media as quite a source of humor and more example of fumbling and mumbling we have seen from the candidate since the primary season kicked off.   Something that has been noted is that his trip was in reality a visit with potential donors for funding his silk stocking presidential campaign.  The question I ask is when did this become ok for politicians in the US to seek campaign funding overseas?

The bundlers who put together funds for campaigns such as Romneys will expect to have favorable access to their candidate should he win.  What happens when the bundlers are foreign and in direct competition with the interests of Americans?  Can we trust Mitt to keep the interests of Americans in mind when his fund raising may come directly from foreign competition?  If Mitt accepts money from mainland Chinese interests, can we trust him to represent American’s best interests if they are in direct competition with those of China?    I believe his presidency is up for auction to the highest bidder.

International fundraising is done under the rubric of collecting donations from expatriate Americans.  Expatriate Americans who happen to host $10k per plate dinners for their foreign friends to meet candidate Romney, for example.  If the host is American, no problem if he puts the 1-2 mil collected from his foreign guests under his name, right?

Under current law, anyone with citizenship or a green card may donate to a campaign, but let us be clear: that is a very low hurdle for huge bundles of money to jump on it’s way from one nation to the candidate in the pursuit of undeserved favor and alliance.  It is tantamount to bribery by a foreign entity.   Funny how times change.  A hundred years ago, that was considered a high crime.  Make no mistake, the US has excelled at this practice with buying its own puppet dictators over the years, but now the game could be played on the American people, where we elect a puppet president obedient to a dark multinational financier.

I’m not an authority on the history of campaign funding,  but I do remember a time in my life when international funds for campaigning were strictly forbidden.  Later the rules changed so that there were strict limits placed on funding so that no one donor could become the sole recipient of the benefits of their elected candidate’s authority.   Also, sources for campaign funds had to be disclosed so that voters could see who the candidate would likely favor in office.   My sense of things is that the funding from international sources has grown over the years and instead of trying to stem the tide or at least disclose the extent to which the monies flow in from over seas, we have just opened the floodgates and declared all money from overseas to be just fine.  (No thanks to the SCOTUS decision on Citizens United)

It may well be that allowing unlimited funding from foreign sources essentially puts our country up for auction to the highest bidder for the next four years.   I think Americans deserve a president who does not bend over for his British and Israeli banking benefactors.   When it comes to the American people or his rich friends, which side do you think Mitt will take?

The lack of controls over campaign funding continues to be the single most powerful factor contributing to the disconnect of the federal govt with the will of the American People.    The escalation of international funding of campaigns only widens the gulf between the will of the American people and the choices made by their leaders.

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Vote Oregon!

We have seen shenanigans in voting laws across the country under the guise of creating barriers to voter fraud.   The numbers on cases of voter fraud vs the instances of humans struck by lightning make it obvious that voter fraud is teeny tiny problem.   Also, we have seen how the changes in voter laws in an election year are being drummed up in the Red GOP states only.  It makes me wonder, why do only the Repubs seem to believe that vote fraud is a problem.  You only hear about this plague, this tumor on our body politic in the GOP camp.

Why is it only the GOP states that think we have a vote fraud problem?   The reason I ask is that the measures these states are taking far and away do more damage to a free and fair vote than they protect the system from fraud.   Could it be that the voter fraud is actually a lie perpetrated in order to disenfranchise thousands of legitimate voters from the rolls in key states that could swing the election?

How is it fair if hundreds or thousands are removed from voter rolls to protect us from the 10 or 20 people that vote fraudulently in a state?

Through the early 2000s, there have been allegations of vote mishandling through the hacking of computerized ballot and counting systems in place now.  We have some evidence but no real formal investigation to show that rigging the vote count by election officials is an actual problem.   It is well documented that some poor and minority dominated areas in red states, have suffered reduced access to voting, not just registration, but such things as numbers of voting machines and hours of operation rigged and not given due diligence.  My sense of it is that the GOP loves to play around the edges of every election and jimmy the system in as many ways to Sunday as they can invent without getting caught.

The fact that they must go to what are unfair and extreme measures to swing the vote count in their favor shows that they have very little to go on in terms of public policy and benefit to the average citizen.  I believe that some of their measures are so clumsy that they will be read by the public for what they truly are.   In a way, the fact that so much money is spent still gives me hope that the vote count is still at least conducted partially fairly.

I wish there was a mechanism in congress to remove electoral votes from states whom continue to exhibit improper voter registration and counting.   Dishonest conduct in elections is tantamount to treason and should be rigorously penalized but not at the expense of the honest average citizen voter.

Black Box Voting – America’s Elections Watchdog Group

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Respecting the DREAM

June 19, 2012

 

President Obama did what he could to show people the way this last week on how to deal with the massive immigration dysfunction that our US system has become.  In years past, it has been far easier than present day to enter the US and immigrate.  All the way through the late 70s, immigrating to the US was a process that had a finite beginning and end.  Today it is a maze of bureaucracy hampered by pre 911 prejudices and post 911 paranoia.

Homeland Security is a department in the executive branch and thus under the authority of the President.  The policy change is fairly simple.  Children of illegal or undocumented residents could gain at least a 2 year stay on their deportation if they :

• Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
• Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the U.S. on the date of this memorandum;
• Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
• Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
• Are not above the age of 30.

This announcement has been widely criticized as a political move by the President, but  ask the GOP and Mitt Romney for their vision of how to handle illegal immigration.  They do not have a plan on how to deal with the millions of illegal and undocumented residents.  They do not have a plan on how to change anything from the current status quo which is onerous, cruel and unusual punishment to people for simply wanting a better life but not necessarily committing other crimes.

The children of families caught up in the ICE and Homeland Security bureaucracy are truly innocent in the situation and blameless for the choices of their parents.  This is a bad situation where the government truly needs to reorganize and restructure.

The overall policy is misguided and unrealistic as well.  If we wish to stem the tide with illegal immigration we need to address the rules of employment and the enforcement of hiring and documentation.   As long as illegal immigrants can get a job in the US, they will continue to come.    So far, it appears that Mitt Romney and the GOP want to close their eyes and continue to pretend the current state of our immigration policy is just fine.

The day that President Obama announced the change to deportation policy which is only to be a two year trial, the President was heckled during his opening statement by Neil Munro, an online reporter-blogger for the Daily Caller, a GOP newsite.   As the cameras were trained on the heckler to capture the exchange between President Obama and Mr Munro, you can see the frustration and even seething hatred as Mr Munro appeared to be trying contain himself and allow the President to speak.   Mr Munro, if nothing else is just the latest symbol of the unthinking raging hateful angry opposition which believes that the office and functions of the President is not worthy of high respect, no matter who is in that place.  Mr Munro is just another zombie of the right blinded in their rage.

 

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

English: Seal of the President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Personal Note to the President of the United States, Monday, 6/4/2012

Dear President Obama,

I got the tweet from you the other day.  Something or other about the election in Wisconsin.  Honestly, my first reaction was, really? Your first comment on Tom Barrett in a tweet?  I know Wisconsin only has 10 electoral votes, but democrats across the country have been watching and wondering where the love is for the grass roots of the party.  Wisconsin put a lot on the line and there is barely any acknowledgement from the leader of the party.

When Bill Clinton came to Wisconsin, I was thinking, wow, President Obama must be busy.  But for once, I have to say that Scott Walker was right when he wondered why you would come so close to Wisconsin and yet remain so far away.   The hardworking folks in Wisconsin who have put lives and reputation on the line to protect their rights deserve more than 140 characters.

I don’t know who is going to win the Wisconsin recall.  I just know how good it felt to have some old figures in the party come and advocate for the people.  I just wish you could see how it would only give you the high ground in the debate if you would just take the political upper hand in this situation.  The people of Wisconsin are correct to rise up and demand accountability from their elected officials.  In an era where a few anonymous wealthy contributors can tip the playing field 25 to 1, you have a responsibility to get in and play hard for the team .

I don’t know the entire situation you face of course.   It just seems though that by visiting the neighboring states at such a crucial time, you appear to be ‘nibbling at the edges’ and avoiding going for the goal.  If you are going to face criticism, however, it is better to face it for doing the right thing.

Addendum, Tuesday 6/5/2012

The depressing results have come in and I’ve listened to the concessions and acceptances and the pundits analyses.  I don’t blame you for not playing in the campaign.  I do think GWB would have come into the fray had the shoe been on the other foot.  Ah, but then comes back up the shoe metaphoric thing.  It’s easy to see a coldness in the regard of the President toward the Unions of Wisconsin.  I hope  we don’t see a replay of the 2010 election where a dejected progressive electorate fails to turn out.   I just think you missed an opportunity to fight the good fight and even if it was a loser, be on the correct side and help shine a spotlight on the truth.

Then again, maybe you have already decided that you cannot fight the mass of cash and media arrayed against you.

Still hoping for some change, fellow citizen, Joe Blunt

 

 

Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Universi...

Barack Obama delivers a speech at the University of Southern California (Video of the speech) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week was remarkable for the United States.  President Obama made the case for allowing marriage rights to same sex couples.   I think by doing so he expanded the boundaries of freedom and established the notion of an equal playing field for same sex orientation.  Even so, this announcement does nothing but allow the nation to see where Barack Obama believes the line should draw on this issue.

It was the beginning of a step that follows a long line of steps to bring more equality to humanity and allow equal sets of rules to be applied for an oppressed group in our nation.   Not only does it signal a greater move, but it also signals to the world that under Obama, the US is still a land of opportunity for everyone regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.   Of course, discrimination still exists throughout the world in these areas, yet the US can still provide a guiding light for all.

I’m heterosexual, but I can still appreciate President Obama’s position staked out this week.   First off, it is a bold declaration on his part.  It is politically risky.   Not only does this fire up the right wing, it pokes a stick in the eye of all the backwards goobers out there who compensate for their closeted gayness with mindless homophobia.  Some people do not understand or derive any pleasure from Obama’s revelation.   The reigning wisdom is that the people who are adamantly opposed to same sex marriage will vote against the president in November anyway.    Also, this move illustrates that President Obama’s base is ripe and receptive for this kind of an activation.  Signals like this during the campaign will continue to activate his base.   Beyond the political calculus, by taking up the struggle of LGBT people, other forms of discrimination become more outdated and barbaric.   The fight in this area only makes the injustices of racial and gender discrimination more undeniable under the law.

Personally, I’m inspired by the pronouncement because it is morally correct in the context of freedom and equal rights.  Also it is a risky move and that also gives me some new respect for the President that he could take an outspoken stand on what is right.  Pretty exceptional stuff, all in all.  It’s nice to get inspired over what has always been an American value during my lifetime, equal rights.  Much better than complaining how the GOP continues to monkey wrench economic recovery and the will of the people.  I hope this fires you up to get out and make everyone you know cast a vote in all of the years elections.

http://liberaltalkingpoints.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/liberal-maxim-14-equality/

 

 

 

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