LiberalViewer Tackles “Citizens United v. FEC”

LiberalViewer of YouTube attempts to set the record straight on mischaracterizations of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.”

It appears based on watching this video that the ruling is greatly misunderstood by both sides and I myself am inspired to try and read the whole 180+ page Opinion of the Court.

I am in no way advocating the chilling of free speech by value of it simply coming from a corporation or union.

It is a falsehood to state that this ruling allows for “unlimited contributions to political candidates” and also a point that is not within the primary argument against this ruling, as it did not effect those existing limitations.

I believe, personally, that the argument made that this will benefit non-profit advocacy organizations over private sector special interests has some serious flaws in it, while it is not altogether untrue.

It’s true that some of the confusing regulations surrounding political advocacy have been discarded in this recent decision, but it is the structure and measure of what they have done that is so reprehensible.

Were it to be the case that a corporation had to declare their logo and “I Support This Ad” with the CEO standing there; then this decision would be far different in implications to our political process.

This logic that major multinational corporations will for some reason “not go there” with political issues is true to a certain extent but it precludes the simple truth that when seeing itself as threatened, as the insurance companies did the early days of the Health Care Debate, they will spend whatever they can as fast as they can to flood us with … media. Media like television ads.

How quickly we forget as a nation, as a people, that Sen. John Kerry was literally “slimed” out of his equal opportunity at the democratic process in a bid for president no less by what we now call “swing voting” but if you track this story out it was a bunch of frauds who demeaned their personal character in a outright smear campaign. One of them lives right here in Santa Cruz, California and just like the Bush administration itself they are taking no responsibility for this in public.

How easy it will be now for a nameless silent corporate partner to just bankroll a bunch of TV ads either pro or con for a candidate that had policies that just might ask them to give a little back after they take so much from the environment, for instance. If understand that McDonald’s is Pro-McCain, just as a random example, then many of my concerns go away. But as it stands the Sierra Club, the NRA and the example of the video clip Microsoft could all wildly flood a campaign with media while grassroots money and dedicated social advocates of any position would be overshadowed.

Also this argument that money doesn’t win elections is also partly false. Money is not enough, as the examples of Ross Perot and Mitt Romney illustrate, but the 2008 Campaign for the White House was in part decided on the dollars and cents. Of course you need the solid candidate, as the Democrats held with Obama, to seal the deal but my studies in Political Science completely disagree with the scoffing of this notion of looking at the financial impact and earnings to get the best picture.

As I stated before, I believe I may have to read this entire decision before I am totally satisfied I understand it fully.

For now, I am strongly standing with the words of President Obama in his State of the Union address calling this decision a means by which we will “open the floodgates” to foreign special interests and corporate lobbyist influence over the actual results of our elections themselves.

I feel both the SCOTUS and perhaps LiberalViewer as well have concerned themselves too much with entities that deserve very little concern or express protections of the court while neglecting to see the ramifications of said decision on the people that truly represent democracy at it’s core.

To put it plainly: this appears a “open door” policy in terms of slash-and-burn negative political ads at the end of a campaign cycle to force a candidate to lose based on hyperbole, as we have seen before in politics. Slime works, and I as I understand it the SCOTUS just ruled in favor of slime in our elections.

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UPDATE!

Russ Feingold at CounterPunch.org explains what Sam Donaldson was speaking about that I referred to as “inaccurate” in the above piece.

I was under the impression that he was saying that Soft Money limits are now gone under this ruling but in fact it he was speaking to the issue of spending directly out of the treasury without limit.

***Thanks to Paul J. Rourke for bringing this to my attention and providing the link.

Obama Rocks The House In Baltimore

I am not an ideologue.” – President Barack Obama

This was a high point in the entire Obama presidency, and a rare move on behalf of any president to appear in a oppositional party forum to answer questions directed at them on the public record.

This was the clear and transparent dissolving of the talking points and misinformation spread by conservatives at an alarming rate since the election of Barack Obama.

He was polite, concise, accurate and took a great deal more responsibility of his missteps than is common in politics; whereas the questioners seemed to be mostly delivering boiler-plate talking points that resound across conservative-talk mediums but have little factual basis if any at all.

This was a move of a bipartisan, non-ideologue president seeking a solution and not just a ceasing of partisan fires throw at him. What I have serious doubts about is if the Republican opposition can see clearly enough in this atmosphere to hear his simple words about the Health Care Reform being far less than “radical” and his simple statement that if a better plan that cost less and worked was available from Republicans he would gladly implement it.

This is what I believe of President Obama: he is a pragmatist. He will work with those who have solutions that get results and not by simple partisan standards.

“Snow Crash” and “Reefer Madness”

I have two reading suggestions for you today:


Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson

I have but scratched the surface of this science fiction novel that has been recommended to me many times over. I am fast seeing this book as one that sits in the all-time-favorite pile for me, as well as just being a lot of fun.

Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market” by Eric Schlosser

I have also only just begun to read this book but it is obviously a highly informative, if somewhat outdated (2003), observation of the American Black Market. This is the “unspoken” piece of the economy as a whole.

There are strange parallels between these two books that I am only just being to piece together.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Political Freedom

In an appauling U.S. Supreme Court decision that came down recently there will be no monetary limit on how much corporations can spend on political campaign advertisement. The party-line ruling is disturbing to me in that so clearly endorses big-money special interests while leaving the American public behind. No “grassroots” movement can challenge the private slush funds of corporate CEOs but the opinions of the people are the driving force of democracy, so these few private interests will crush any movement they desire from Tea Party to Anti War groups alike.

I believe we may very well be standing upon the critical moment in the U.S. where we must decide as a people if we want to have a country of principals and values or a country of slanders and greed.

I am reading the Opinion of the Court and it spends much time worried about “chilling free speech” while their ruling will have that ultimate effect. The free speech of a corporation is not threatened it is the voice of against the corporation that is “chilled” by the ruling. The constitutional right of those who speak out against corporate monopolies are the forms of speech that deserve the highest protections and considerations of the court. Instead the court refuses to “adopt an interpretation that requires case-by-case to determinations on banned political speech” which to me would be the purpose of the highest court and the highest legal minds being put all together to decide just such matters.

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UPDATE!

Michael Moore has posted on YouTube the comments of Keith Olberman on MSNBC’s Countdown in regards to this catastrophic SCOTUS ruling.

Conservative Propagandist Arrested for Illegal Wiretap

Once again, I have been proven to have been correct in my assessment of both the motives and character of one of the right-wing’s poster boys: James O’Keefe III.

The same man who lied before the American public with the assistance of Fox News and Sean Hannity has been caught trying to once again fabricate vicious lies against others for the sake of political gain.

This time around O’Keefe tried to shakedown Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Here is the story on NOLA.com:

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the office confirmed. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street about 11 a.m. Monday, dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans,  fluorescent green vests, tool belts, and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu’s 10th floor office, O’Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.

When Flanagan and Basel entered the office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affadavit, observed O’Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to record his co-horts.

After being asked, the staffer gave Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn’t working. Flanagan did the same.

They then told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located.

A witness from Landrieu’s staff said O’Keefe was present in the office and claimed to be “waiting for someone to arrive.”

Let’s also not forget that these pundits of Fox News such as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly have all used this vile propaganda against ACORN to advance their own careers in hate-broadcasting.

This time we caught the con in the act, but this is the “new media” that conservatives and the Tea Party alike support: frame jobs, illegal wiretaps & outright lies.

This is Nixon Era politics in 2010.

The Port-au-Prince Earthquake

(ReliefWeb)

The capital of Haiti has been struck with a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that the Haitian government is estimating has taken the lives of 200,000 people. This tragic loss of life in the wake of horrific devastation has gripped my heart, and the hearts of many others, as the horrible images and stories pour out of Haiti.

International humanitarian aid efforts have been working around the clock since the beginning of the disaster and there always remains a need for private donations to help get aid out faster to suffering Haitians.

Google has donated $1 million to relief efforts and have a donation page where you easily donate to a charity of your choosing with a Google account.

Save The Children and World Vision are both accepting donations that will directly effect the people of Haiti.

Mobile customers can text from their mobile device the word “HAITI” to the number “90999” to make a $10 donation the Red Cross, as described in this press release:

According to AT&T officials, wireless customers of the company can send $10 donations to the Red Cross International Relief Fund by sending a text message from their mobile device. Standard text messaging rates may apply. The company officials said that a customer has to simply type the word HAITI and send it to 90999. A confirmation message will arrive within a few minutes, to which the customer replies “yes” to finalize the donation. 100 percent of all money donated will be passed on to the Red Cross, the company officials said.

(I am not certain if this works on all mobile networks, but apparently it does.)

Justice for ACORN

I do ever so love being vindicated!

What most call “the Acorn scandal” is the “O’Keefe Smear Crusade” to me. This whole so-called “scandal” was all the brain-child of one sick and very likely racist individual.
To his discredit President Obama signed into law the bill that temporarily defunded ACORN.
I have remained steadfast in my stance against this propaganda promoted by the right-wing, and heavily by the far right-winger Glenn Beck.
I’ll admit it takes a few brain cells and a willingness to do more than just sound-byte a news story to understand exactly what James O’Keefe & Hannah Giles were doing in this “expose.”
But the bottom line here is that outright lies were told by O’Keefe on Sean Hannity’s show (named “Hannity” … vanity? No, Hannity) that the network refuses to clear up that directly address the credibility of all the accusations by these heartless propagandists.
Another day will decide if justice shall ever ring down on Fox News, but I wish to express that I didn’t point out some of the new revelations in a story I have taken up.
I smell justice and I like it because this age is lacking it a great many times over! Justice for ACORN means justice for America.
The removal of Senate funds based on nothing but a media-crusade was unconstitutional in nature, and I referred to it as a “war on the poor.”

Gershon ruled Congress withdrew all funding with the “absence of a trial”. She said the withdrawal would cause permanent harm to the organization. The Constitution requires “due process”, which is normally interpreted as the jurisdiction of the judicial branch, not Congress’s legislative branch.

These people still supporting this myth about ACORN truly believe that they can lie to the public and just cover it up with more lies. It is cases like these that draw the line between what is ideological differences and what is simply destructive, mindless, bigotry.
Let us not forget as well that this decision emboldens my argument that the popular figures on right-wing are standing against the very Constitution they claim to love as they fabricate reality and refuse to practice journalistic ethics.

I Believe Glenn Beck is Dangerous for America

MediaMatters.orgBeck, O’Reilly respond to Misinformer of the Year

This all bounces around in circles, just as Glenn Beck had hoped it would. He is supporting unconstitutional rhetoric and calling the people calling him out on it as doing the same. He is hiding behind a shroud of lies and then claiming that the scorn that befalls him is an attempt to silence truth. It seems the new right-wing meme to just accuse the other guy of exactly what you are doing so they have trouble calling you out on the ugly that you just spread all over the table.
Liars of this magnitude are not just merely irritating, as some have suggested to me, they are dangerous when given a platform of supposed credibility. Beck spends much of his time smearing progressives and Obama; but by the same tools he uses to falsely blame progressives / liberals are all of societies woes I could turn about and say that conservatives are the core of what is diseased and sick with the country. The same vile venom could be reversed to make the “enemy” the other side. There is no discourse to be had and that is exactly the goal from the beginning for this latest vein of populist-conservative banter. Glenn Beck will lie at any cost and continue to destroy democracy with his fear-mongering theories until people like you and me stand up and will say we have had enough of this vile anti-American propaganda. Partisan bullies like Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the corporate tools will always jump to defend the likes of these mindless hateful notions touted by Glenn Beck. The disgusting angle on both of these men is they claim to be “bipartisan” but they constantly attempt to demean and fabricate facts about liberals but never use the same dirty tactics against conservatives. Glenn Beck is the most unpatriotic broadcaster in U.S. History, and the fact that he remains on the air proves that racism and hate-speech sells better than Americanism and education. Perhaps Rodger Ailes made a simple business decision: that selling fear-mongering and race baiting was more important than representing American values.
After watching this video one could conclude, as Bill O’Reilly wants everyone to, that all voices against Glenn Beck have been those of the political left. But this is in fact not true. The Anti Defamation League is not a political-left group and they have gone out of their way to illustrate how dangerous and hateful this man’s chosen rhetoric is. What these people engage in just simply a labeling-game of a highly partisan nature of any ideological group that disagrees with their positions. Their own policy positions and tactile logic being so lacking they resort to defining the opposition instead of sharing their own perspective weighed against another extreme position. That is the definition of “fair & balanced” or “bipartisanship” … both sides of the political spectrum; not just one side amplified to an unrealistic height.
Everyone has to be a “far left radical” or a red baiting term like “socialist” or “Marxist” because if they are not then people might realize that being a patriotic American means respecting the difference of opinion rather than allowing yourself to be so broken and dishonest a person to believe or spread unsubstantiated slurs about liberals / progressives / Democrats instead of your own differing policy ideas and world view. It is Glenn Beck leading the charge, with the other pundits of Fox and the Tea Party riding behind him, to destroy the political debate and corrupt the political dialect in this country as much as possible. This man toys with racism, McCarthyism, political bigotry and fear-mongering about the government like they were all harmless tools when they deadly weapons that will destroy our democracy if left to spread like a virus throughout the country. To put it another way: Beck seeks to destroy the middle and push everyone into hateful opposing camps instead of negotiating parties. I have for many weeks been mulling over exactly what could be said that is truly “bipartisan” about Glenn Beck and all his noise. That is what I come up with, just that alone. He seeks to destroy the middle and aggravate existing social tensions for profiteering motives at the expense of our very system of democracy were his notions and supposedly genuine “fears” followed through to their logical conclusion. Glenn Beck paints an America that is dark and filled with myths that become reasons to hate the world.
However, all is not lost. I suggested we “Hit Glenn Beck Where It Hurts,” in the advertisers. And to some extent we were successful: a reported total of 20 sponsors dropped Glenn Beck after his racialist statement about a U.S. President was not apologized for nor retracted formally by the network at the reported request via multiple letters to Rodger Ailes.
Many people saw the truth: that this was not about political opinions anymore and that Beck had purposefully been race baiting when he called Obama a “racist.” The case that defines Glenn Beck is a case that they will never air or likely ever speak out on any version of Fox News. That being the most “extremist” internet-attack against Beck, that in fact illustrates quite well what his common tactic is when creating his fantastic tales of fiction. Minus the shock-value, the point is more on a legal aspect as to where his true allegiances lie. Beck went outside the United States, and sought European-brands of justice to serve him when he became aware of this “rumor” about him and wanted them squashed. He could have sought to U.S. Constitution that he claims to love so dearly to help defend him in what he saw as a violation of his rights, but instead he opted to try and simply destroy the opposing voice with a foreign court. It did not stop there, from there Beck has used his big-money influences to try and push this website promoting this “rumor” as “satirical comedy” off the bandwidth with dirty corporate tactics; the very same tactics he claims to despise so much. The website remains, and freedom of speech is protected despite Beck’s attempt to destroy it. I re-posted that website content onto my blog in the spirit of “rodeo clowning” that Glenn Beck is so found of himself. I refuse to take it down even if I don’t completely enjoying having it up.
Glenn Beck is smarter than he wants his audience to know. A trend popular with women working at Fox, but Beck has taken it up for himself and it seems to work rather well for him. He saw out over the horizon the same unwarranted fears and same old social tensions coming to rise in this country that I did nearly two years ago now. I mused that the time that I could go out into the lands as the healing suave, to bring some truth to matter and some real policy differences that people could see rather than hollow boiler-plate talking points. But what he decided to do was to pour gasoline on the fears and start putting Hitler-mustaches on anyone not giving to these ever-present right-wing propagandists that he frequently has as guests on his television and radio programs. He and I are not so different, in that that he is an embodiment of someone like myself in my “extremes of opinions” except minus all morality, patriotism and ethical standards. It’s all very clever word-plays and out-of-context quotes and rewriting of U.S. History; but it’s not impressive because I could have done it too. Lying is easy, but the question is: Is it worth it? In the end his soul will have to answer for the racism and many, many lies he has told. The money he makes while treating his audience like they are severely lacking intelligence (many unfortunately are) will buy him his ticket to the country club with Limbaugh and O’Reilly and the rest, but the currency of his character is forever darkened by the path he has chosen for himself.

Vanda Felbab-Brown: “It’s All or Nothing in Afghanistan”

Vanda Felbab-Brown has written an excellent piece on the situation as it stands in Afghanistan.

She is less in favor of the “golden path” in the middle between war-hawking and peace-doving than I myself am but I see well the point she has made in this article and where it conflicts with my own views on the situation.

We should not delude ourselves that the middle is the golden path. Instead, we need to decide how much we care about the stakes and whether we are willing to resource the mission properly to achieve them.

In the Afghanistan strategy debate, two basic options have crystallized: a militarily beefed-up counterinsurgency or limited counterterrorism through selective strikes, many from the air and offshore. Public support seems limited for the former. Given the importance of the on-ground human intelligence, the effectiveness of the latter is questionable and, anyway, narrow counterterrorism was essentially the U.S. policy in Afghanistan until 2005 while the Taliban grew and al Qaeda regrouped. Hence strategists are proposing options that lie seductively “in the middle.” But these are unlikely to reverse the deteriorating security and produce a self-sufficient Afghan government.

My point here is simply that counterterrorism strategies need time in order to work, if they are going to have any positive effect at all, and that the true measuring bars of success in the region being brought into a more realistic framework is a step in the right direction. What remains to be seen is if these recent strategic changes will impact the situation for the better, so we might exit the region sometime before I have grandchildren, or if these new solutions have only further aggravated the situation in Afghanistan.

Should all our efforts prove fruitless and our options only include massive counterinsurgency troop build-ups with no clear exit in sight that we should then consider the complete withdrawal as the only reasonable option and to dismiss or diminish the need to seek a workable solution in Afghanistan or start realistically considering complete withdrawal. Just as Vanda put it: “we need to decide how much we care about the stakes and whether we are willing to resource the mission properly to achieve them.”

Neither A Dove, Nor A Hawk

I realize I am casting myself unto outcast island with my support of the Afghan Surge, but this was exactly the policy I was advocating the president take in the first place. A increase in troops only under the predication of a withdrawal time line and clear goals set that are attainable. In essence the nation building that they do, that they don’t want to call nation building, needs to be either stabilized or abandoned. That is the hard truth of the matter, like any other war that we start as a nation we must come to bring it to an end-point.

It sounds rather strange, but I reject the rejection of the proposed draw-down in 2011 as being nothing but a smoke-screen or a political ruse on the left. Even in the announcement of this policy it sparked immediate reaction from President Karzai in terms of a statement about not being ready to handle security for “fifteen years.” That, of course, is absurd but it proves that much needed pressure is being applied for Karzai to take up a stronger level of national security in Afghanistan. There is also the larger foreign policy issue in terms of the surrounding regions being aware that the US is there to fight, but not there to stay on into infinity. Senator John McCain, who aspired to the highest office and did not take the seat that would have made this very decision, disagreed on this point of the Obama war policy utterly and advised against it in his “wisdom.” Then finally we have the matter of simple follow-through in terms of the campaigning in 2008 over Afghanistan being the “right war” from the Obama camp.

Many view it as Obama has placed himself in a box of being trapped to deliver on campaign promises, but I believe his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize was by far the most important and the most revealing speech of his entire political career. He placed himself on one side of an old argument started long ago by Saint Augustine as to if there is such a thing as a “just war” and I happen to be of the view that there is no such thing as this. However, if you remove that element of theological disagreement between President Obama and myself then I believe this speech answers almost every point of contention coming from the left toward the Afghanistan war policy.

This not the policy of a dove, any more than this is a policy of a hawk.

What we must avoid is creating the power vacuum of our sudden absence but at the same balance that fact that you and me everyone else is sick of war and just done with it for no real reason beyond just that. Which is good! But let’s do it right. Let’s bring about an actual “end-game” to this war and if deadlines are extended and we are left with “half a war” as we have in Iraq then I say that it still better than the McCain / Bush policy of “muddling through” in Afghanistan.

I am far from beating the war drums over here and as I have stated before my heart just cries out to “bring them home now!” but there is element of rationality that needs to be applied here to anything that is within the realms of war policy discussions. I am yet another of these “not a dove, nor a hawk” individuals who seek balance out an ugly reality against desires for peace. My support of “troop surges” and “soft power solutions” dissolves quickly as deadlines become discarded like the public option or when the troop increases become “like a drink of water” but as this policy stands I believe that we have to give these strategies a chance to work in order to ensure a future that might finally see an end to the war.

I’m certainly willing to admit to a possibly overly optimistic view on the matter, but I think this was the right policy for Afghanistan as the situation stands now.

Obama Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech pt.1pt.2pt.3