Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TWC Should Carry Current TV

Earlier this month I wrote that over 1/2 the liberal media was eliminated with the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera. Turns out this is true if you have Time Warner Cable as your provider, but those with other providers are providing access to Current TV. The Young Turks, John Fugelsang, and Jennifer Granholm are still on the air.  Elliot Spitzer just left, and, of course, Keith Olbermann was let go long ago.

Current TV also has TV broadcasts of Bill Press's (6-9A ET) and Stephanie Miller's (9-12A ET) liberal radio shows. If only the fairness doctrine were reinstated and enforced, we'd be able to hear them on our local radio stations, but Current TV gives us a chance to hear them (as does the Internet: click their names above during the times their on the air).

So call Time Warner Cable, 877-TWC-EASY, and ask them to put Current TV back on the air. Also, ask them to pick up Free Speech TV while their at it. If you want extra credit, call your local radio stations and ask them to carry liberal radio hosts such as Bill Press, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann (12-3P ET), Randi Rhodes (3-6P ET), and Mike Malloy (9-12P).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Everyone who's bought an assault rifle since the Sandy Creek shooting should go fight in Afghanistan

Many have the mythic and nostalgic second-amendment notion that once upon a time gun-owning citizens would take up arms as militiamen to defend our country. Many of the founding fathers voiced concerns about having a standing army during peace time, so this myth appeals to the peace-loving, military-industrial complex fearing side of me in addition to the traditional/patriotic side of me. Furthermore, on the surface level it seems to make sense of the entirety of the second amendment:
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.
If you're an original-intent-type Constitutionalist, then I hope you agree that all second amendment lovers should memorize and quote the entire second amendment when referring to it. Many who are this way about the Constitution are also this way about the Bible, and we've been warned over and over again in that regard not to take verses or phrases "out of context." If you're having trouble memorizing it, then here's the folk song that helped me to memorize it.

Speaking of context, we know that the second amendment is not endorsing leveling war against the United States for Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution identifies such as treason punishable by as much as death. To none of the rebellions against the United States, two of the most well-known being the Whiskey Rebellion (1791-1794)  and the South during the Civil War (1861-1865), did the U.S. government respond by saying, "that's OK, they're just exercising their second amendment rights." So perhaps instead this meant forming militias to protect against foreign enemies such as the British or Native Americans. Just for the sake of argument, let's say that this is right. Then all gun owners should be fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan right now.

But, an informed person might bring up, the Supreme Court, for the first time in U.S. history, extended the second amendment to handgun ownership. Well you're getting away from original intent and siding with activist judges if you argue thus. But since I'm not as opposed to nuanced interpretation by the Supreme Court, let's admit that mere handgun owners are not ready to go fight in a way. I feel generous, and willing to compromise, so let's put hunting rifle owners in this same category.

Assault rifles, however, are an entirely different thing. Those buying such weapons are preparing for war. Thus, I conclude that everyone who's bought an assault rifle should go fight in the bi-partisan FUBAR in Afghanistan, especially the a**holes who have bought one since the Sandy Creek massacre.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Time to Impeach the President (Retroactively)

Not President Obama, of course, but we still owe George W. Bush an impeachment. The fact that Bush was not impeached has this parallel in history:
After Andrew Johnson was impeached but not convicted, the corrupt Grant administration followed. Also after Bill Clinton was impeached but not convicted, the corrupt Bush administration followed.
I don't want to go into detail here, but President Ulysses S. Grant's corruption included the following scandals: Black Friday Gold Panic 1869; New York custom house ring; Star route postal ring; Salary grab; Sanborn contracts; Delano affair; Pratt & Boyd; Whiskey ring
Refresher on the reasons to impeach George W. Bush (retroactively):
1. Bush sanctioned the torturing of prisoners at Guantanomo Bay and Abu Ghraib in violation of the Geneva Conventions and Article VI of the Constitution:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
2. His administration outed a CIA agent in retaliation for her husband's criticism of the 16-word lie that led to the Iraq War, "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
3. Warrantless wiretapping of Americans in violation of Amendment IV of the U.S. Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
4. Violated Amendment XIV, Section 4 when he disparaged the government bonds set aside for Social Security
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
The Tea Party and members of Congress who don't want the United States to pay its debts are probably also guilty of violating the 14th Amendment. (In fairness to the Tea Party, however, many of its members are probably not big fans of Amendments 13-15.)

[Note: for those who argue for President Obama's impeachment because he's trying to take steps to prevent five and six year olds from being mowed down again by automatic or semi-automatic weapons, click here.]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Despair over Guns

Tomorrow will mark four weeks since the shooting at Sandy Creek Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, which killed 28 people: 20 1st and 2nd graders, 6 teachers and administrators, the gunman, and the gunman's mother. Every time I hear a story relating to the victims it just makes me sadder and sadder.

I am going to lay it out plainly: Everyone of good will must now agree that assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines must be banned. So even though I admit I would rather have guns completely banned, people like me, along with others who cherish their gun rights, should be able to agree on this compromise. If, after hearing of caskets being built to bury innocent 5 - and 6- year-olds, you don't want to act to protect people by limiting gun ownership beyond simple handguns and rifles, you need to search yourself--to see if you even have a soul.

I can remember talking to a Republican friend of mine a couple of weeks ago and giving the example of Australia's gun laws (this is must see, if you haven't seen it already) as a way to prevent future mass shootings, he admitted that he liked the idea and this made me feel good because people of good will from different sides of the political spectrum could agree on common-sense law. The next time we met he changed his mind because he "looked it up" and [supposedly] the crime rate went up after this gun law went into effect in Australia. No doubt he got he got his misinformation from the right-wing echo chamber, because Australia's government crime statistics tell a different story. Most crimes have gone down since the new laws went into place in 1996, including theft, robbery, and murder. The one crime I saw that did go up was assault, but as crime goes assault is almost always preferable to murder. After this second talk with my friend, my faith in reaching a simple compromise diminished because pro-gun extremist propaganda is uncompromising; hence, my despair. Nevertheless, I persevere in my blogging.

The second amendment is not stopping us from reaching compromise. I am willing to concede handguns as an individual's right after the 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, (though I plan to look historically at the 2nd Amendment in a future post, which will demonstrate what an activist court the Roberts' court is). But there is no constitutional impediment to imitating the effective laws that Australia passed after a massacre with a similar weapon.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Over Half TV's Liberal Media Eliminated Last Night

Last night Al Gore's Current TV was sold to Al Jazeera for $500 Million. As 20% owner, Al Gore will get $100 million from the deal. Al Jazeera paid this much in order to reach into more homes, but Time Warner Cable exercised its contractual right to drop a station with change of ownership, reportedly eliminating the station during Elliot Spitzer's 8PM-ET show. Time Warner Cable, who also owns CNN, said that they eliminated the station due to its ownership.

I think all the majority of Americans know about Al Jazeera is how it was disdained for showing videos of Al Qaeda in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. However, having seen the 2004 documentary Control Room, I have a more nuanced view. During the lead up to Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003, it was the Bush administration and a compliant U.S. media who were guilty of the propaganda (especially Fox News [sic] and rechtsdreck‏ radio, but extending throughout the mainstream media including The New York Times). This while Al Jazeera offered brave, on-the-scene reporting of what was actually happening in Iraq. By the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, in March 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say about Al Jazeera:

"Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it's real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners."
Ms. Clinton said this because she feared the U.S. was losing the worldwide "information war." Indeed, not only is the U.S. losing due to a woefully underfunded PBS and NPR, even Britain's BBC has had budget cuts and has let go some of their talented reporters who have since been hired by Al Jazeera.

In my opinion, the best thing one can do for news in the U.S. is to subscribe to the New York Times and to read other national and local newspapers. Two key newspapers to avoid, however, are the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal and the Moonie-owned Washington Times, both of which get cited on C-Span's Washington Journal (a decent, but highly-overrated source of news) as if they were not the mere Republican-1% propaganda that they are. One must also always keep in mind that most newspapers aren't liberal. Britain's Guardian and Wisconsin's Madison Times being the only liberal ones I've encountered. The fact is that most newspapers more often than not endorse the Republican candidate for president. Most of those who throw around the phrase "liberal media" do so only because they want to dismiss facts inconsistent to their world view.

If one supplements newspapers with NPR, PBS, the BBC, Harper's magazine, MSNBC's All In w/Chris Hayes [updated 4/14/13] and Moyers & Co., and some business news such as Bloomberg, The Financial Times, and The Economist, one will get about as informed as they can be in the United States (if I do say so myself).

But most of those who do watch news squander too much time on cable. This is especially appealing to liberals who can find the nearly-mythical liberal media some times on MSNBC, and up until yesterday, on Current TV. But now that Current TV has been eliminated, and given the fact that MSNBC shows Morning Joe weekday mornings, TV's liberal media has been reduced by over 50% since January 2, 2013. The biggest reason I will miss Current TV is because its truly liberal bias contrasted so well with CBS, NBC, and ABC News who are only  labelled "liberal," once again, by those who hate having their worldviews contradicted by facts.

Footnote: Those watching the misnamed Fox News [sic] are not getting news at all, but a 24/7/365 commercial for the Republican Party that would honestly be called "GOP-TV."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nearly 2/3 of House Republicans Opposed the 2013 Middle Class Tax Cut

151 out of 236 House Republicans (64%) voted against the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013. Included among those who wanted all of us earning less than $400,000 a year to pay more income taxes were Michele Bachmann, Jo Bonner, Eric Cantor, Darrell Issa, Connie Mack, John Mica, Dana Rohrabacher, David Schweikert, Jim Sensenbrenner, and Daniel Webster.

By waiting to vote until after the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts expired at 12 AM on January 1, it was no longer a matter of wanting to extend the Bush era tax cuts to all. Those tax cuts were history. The top 39.6% rate of the highest earners was then a given. The issue was, did they want to lower income taxes for the rest of us or not? 151 House Republicans answered "no."

If any of them claim they could not vote for these tax cuts for lack of spending cuts, most of them are contradicting their past actions. Why do they think Reagan was so great when his presidency lowered taxes without reducing government spending accordingly? Why did they vote for or support the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 without corresponding spending cuts? And will they finally admit that tax cuts don't produce enough growth in government revenue to pay for themselves? Since the Bush tax cuts went into effect the national debt has risen from $5.8 trillion to $16.3 trillion, are those who voted "no" now willing to admit that the Bush tax cuts were a mistake?

When the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy started the unemployment rate was between 4.7 and 6%. Now it is 7.8%. So the Bush tax cuts failed to produce jobs. 

Instead the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy freed up money for the rich to invest in bundled sub-prime mortgages and oil speculation. The latter played a significant role in raising gas prices from $1.56/gallon to $3.60/gallon. (How many poor and middle class Republicans supporting tax breaks for the rich realize that they are supporting policies that led to higher prices at the pump?) The former ballooned an over-inflated housing bubble, which resulted in the great recession of 2008 after it burst.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Well the little planet that could just completed its orbit around the sun another time. I know people just want an excuse to party, but yesterday was amateur night, and some of them were annoying to those of us with new families. The hardcore partiers just need the day to end in y in order to party. I am only familiar with this due to an early mid-life crisis in my 30s.

Part of me is cynical about New Year's, but another part of me likes the fact that some people use this time as an opportunity for self-inventory and self-improvement. The cynical part of my brain would tell you that my New Year's resolution is to save all my used aluminum foil this year to make one big ball. The better angel of my nature, in contrast, likes any and all reasons to make a fresh start. As my Dad was fond of saying after he joined AA, "Do the Next Right Thing." Hence, I have a  real New Year's resolution: to blog at least once a week.

So whether it's Rosh Hashanah (we are in year 5773), the Islamic New Year (AH 1434 as of November 14, 2012), today's calendar new year (MMXIII, for those of you reading movie credits), or the upcoming Chinese New Year (we go from "year of the Dragon" to "year of the Snake" on this February 10), one should always jump at the opportunity to start anew. Indeed, this is why I like Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol so much. Put the past behind and do things right, now. As Saint Paul put it in the first century A.D., "Forgetting the things that are behind and stretching forth myself to those that are before, I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). OK, maybe that last part should be for my other blog, Red-Letter Catholic. So let me close, instead, with the words from Kung-Fu Panda, "The past is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift, that's why we call it the present."