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.

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.

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

 

 

 

Republicans for Obama

Republicans for Obama (Photo credit: EN2008)

Why does the GOP think they can push unpopular laws through?  We have seen limits passed on access to contraception and invasive laws designed to humiliate women who are seeking abortions.   The polling on these issues is conclusive.   Why do Republicans think they can stir up these contentious issues in an election year?  The prevailing wisdom before this year of breathtaking rollbacks in womens health rights has been that these issues are pushed in off election years.  Has the Right become so drunk with power, holding the majority of assets in the nation and using significant amounts to control access to government and outcomes of elections.   Do they believe they are going to be able to buy the elections or control the vote?

Apparently, they think the time is ripe to pull back the curtain a little to bring in more followers on a moral issue that they can claim is a high ground.  It is an absolutist posture that appeals to someone who does not want to think about the issue.  Oh we’ll hear the various politicians walk back from these extremes.  Mitt is starting to pivot back to the middle but make no mistake, we got to see some holy righteous bare ankle of the extremism of the GOP during their primary.

The GOP trifles with these moral quandaries and does nothing to recover the economy .  Also, they have taken the fight to contraception, the very practice that helps reduce abortions.  They must think we’re pretty dumb huh?  Maybe they just think they have the whole election thing ‘locked up’.  Make no mistake, just like Scott Walker, all these GOP players are wearing long frocks before entering office.  We don’t get to see the whole show until they make it there.  We only get to see their ugly proselytizing souls bared after they attain office.  We have seen enough to say there is definitely a misogynist,racially biased and homophobic agenda lurking behind the curtain.

The GOP is working all the angles and the Dems are days late and billions short.  It is a nearly vertical challenge, but rubber on the road, sweat and tears may still prevail.  If the people do not come together to solidly reject the GOP this years election, we will see the rollback of the 20th century and the ascendency of the robber barons of the new millennium.

Hope Springs

March 20, 2012

America... Republicans want the keys back - do...

Winter is over, time to spring into action.  I believe the spring of occupation will provide a sea change in our political discourse.  When the movement awakens from a seasonal hibernation, the nation will move.  An undeniable mass of people is an undeniable force. It will be awesome to see as well, much more fun than the tired old debates and listening to politicians try to outmaneuver each other.

It will go viral this spring.   It has to.  There is no choice but for the occupy movement to become a cottage industry.  The pols will have to get serious very quickly about engaging the issues that the occupy movement is kicking up.

I hope Obama spends time engaging with the Occupiers.   He needs to understand the outcry and speak to it even more.  They will lift him on their shoulders if he does this and carry him right back into the white house.

If the movement rears up as I think it will, the whole paradigm will shift on a dime into our time, the future is now.

United States of Animal Car

Its been nine years and the past is definitely blurry, unless you served.  Not every one served in the theater.

I know I’m way behind.  I finally saw the movie Fair Game, depicting the Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson story.    Holy crap this is a great movie although it depicts a sad reality.  Kudos to Sean Penn and Naomi Watts who were both outstanding in their craft.  I love how the story is shown from the perpective of the family of Ms Plame and Mr Wilson, something I doubt most people considered at the time.  At the time, they were parents of four year old twins and coping with the loss of career, public defamation and desire to shed light on the lies that were leading an angry grieving nation into a war on a country that had nothing to do with 911.

After seeing this film, I am wishing that the real Joe Wilson would enter politics.   He strikes me as a good leader, someone with a conscience.   Also, I wonder if the gender roles had been reversed if the Bush administration would have been so flip as turn on their own agent.

In chess, sometimes it is a good move to lose a pawn to gain the advantage, ultimately Ms Wilson was used as a pawn in the game of going to war that can be played in the white house.   She was robbed of her career, bottomed out, as the ‘fall girl’ for the Bush administration.  There does seem to be a tragic injustice in the end with the family moving to New Mexico to escape DC , while no justice is served to the executive branch out of control.  Scooter Libby, an agent of Cheney, barely served time for his lies and no one else was held to answer for blowing her cover in the press.

In many ways, Valerie Plame was fighting the war on terror before the military even got started.  After the dust clears, it will be units like hers that are left to clean up the mess.  She suffered a huge injustice and paid a high price for putting her duty in front of everything for years.   She is a living hero in my book.  Joe too is a hero for trying to speak the truth to the power that was revving up the engines on a machine that just mows stuff over rightly or wrongly.

Of all the reasons we went to these two wars, it cannot be denied that we waged war on Iraq based on layers of  lies and deception.  Iraq did not have anything to do with 911, yet we were easily led into believing it was so.   At the heart of the reasoning for going to war was the so called weapons program in operation in Iraq.  By the time it was obvious to most informed and reasoning folks, we were embroiled in a second war mostly because it seemed closer to the target.

It is not easy to draw a greater conclusion or gain a moral to the story, but here it is: the GOP in control of our military and intelligence complex will put it to work on expensive and immoral  operations  in order to create a political advantage and/or support their big business cronies.  That’s what happened with Iraq.

Looking at the future, I cannot figure out what the mission in Afghanistan is but to get out.  I think we went there to get Osama but now it’s truly a mission accomplished.