Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hey CNN! Do Your Job!

So, George Zimmerman is acquitted.  Wonderful.

I mean wonderful that the trial's finally fucking over, not that Zimmerman is off the hook.  Why?  Because now CNN, MSNBC and HLN can finally begin reporting the news again.

Yes, I know that Trayvon Martin's death was a watershed incident.  Yes, I know that Florida jurors have sent the message that vigilante justice is now legitimized.  And yes, I know that this could now incite a race war in the state of Florida and possibly elsewhere.  But you know what? There are other news stories out there besides this!

The only news stories to break through the din of this trial, however briefly, were a plane crash and a derailed fuel train fire which wiped out half a whole town.  And even then, the fuel train story went under-reported.  Meanwhile, over two weeks' worth of news has been lost, unless CNN does a very lengthy segment called "While You Were Out" in which it finally covers all the news stories it neglected.

Fox News provided the only break, albeit temporarily.  They too over-covered the story, even though they reported other news events once in a while.  You'll never hear me say this very often, but here it is: Thank you, Fox News.

You would think MSNBC would take the hint and let CNN do all the over-covering of the story, but no. It's not enough to have one entire news network hobbled by this story, we have to have TWO entire news networks to cover ONE damned event!

Even the Superbowl isn't broadcast on two networks simultaneously!

Look, this was not the O.J. Simpson trial, here!  And even if it was, it was only a fragment of what we needed to know about in order to stay informed as citizens!  Sure, this was an important story, but important to the exclusion of everything else.

So, congratulations, Zimmerman, you are cleared. Jerk.

And congratulations to CNN and MSNBC for your unearned two week vacation.  Now get back to work and do your job finally!



Sunday, July 7, 2013

Egypt, and the Reclaiming of Democracy

What can we say about the military coup which has taken place in Egypt in recent days?  Is it, as Our Trophy President has mistakenly said, a matter of grave concern?  Should we mourn the overthrow of a democratically elected administration?  Is this a failure of democracy in the Islamic world?

Hell, no!  This is democracy at its finest, and we all need to stand up and cheer! During this July 4th holiday, with our fireworks of celebration for our own imperfect liberty, we need to recognize this with acute clarity. Egypt, it has now shown, is ready for democracy, perhaps more so than any other Islamic nation. Why? Just ask Thomas Jefferson, who said in a letter to William Stephens Smith in 1787:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Indeed so. Jefferson, and indeed many of the founding fathers, felt that the government always needed to be overthrown on occasion as a matter of course in order to prevent corruption from building slowly from within.  He never envisioned that the constitution he helped draft would survive, more or less intact, for two and a third centuries!  Democracy, on occasion, requires a "do over," in case an election falls prey to a technicality, or elite money begins to have a louder voice than the Common Man.

Take a look at how Egypt's first ever democratic election proceeded.  Rather than having a two-party system, they had a multiple party system where the two candidates who secured the most votes ran against each other in a run-off election.  Sounded good on paper, but when the dust settled, they were left with two complete assholes to choose from, both of whom garnered the most votes by securing the vote of extremist minorities.  Candidate one was Ahmed Shafik - the former Prime Minister of Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, who garnered the vote of the loyalists to the old regime.  The other was, of course, Mohamed Morsi, who secured the vote of the Muslim Brotherhood, and all its Islamic jihadist bullshit.  Egyptians had to mourn the loss of dozens of better and more qualified candidates, and then decide between bad and worse.  Most opted for Morsi, simply because he was not the Mubarak candidate.  Even so, so many Egyptians hated the prospect of a Muslim extremist in power that he only won by the slimmest of margins at 51%.

What a debacle!  Egypt has rightly insisted upon their "do over." They  know its their right, and they'll settle for nothing less.  No, the overthrow of Morsi isn't the failure of democracy.  The failure was in how they structured the electoral process.  60% of Egyptians are secularists - who don't want Sharia law bossing them about and want their Coptic Christian friends accorded the same rights which they possess. Good! They should win! But their vote was fractured into too many different directions, allowing a run-off between Tweedle-Dumb, and Tweedle-Dumber. So now they'll try again, and this time, they'll have a more structured primary process which allows a moderate candidate to be a finalist every single time.  Perhaps a two-tiered primary before a final run-off election will be put into place.  Or perhaps the secularist parties will consolidate to allow their candidate a fair chance.  Whatever happens, we can rest assured that Egypt will never be a new Iran.  They have shown the way, with their women throwing off their hijabs and their men shaving off their beards, how democracy must insist on nothing less than getting it right the first time!

So where does this miraculous bit of good news from the Middle East leave us?  What lesson should we take from being out-democratized by the Arab world?  The answer, of course, is that we need our own revolution of sorts.  But unlike in Egypt, we cannot stage a military coup.  First, our military is simply too well paid for its soldiers to turn upon Washington.  But second, and far more importantly, our government's downfall would spell the downfall of countless other governments.  Ron and Rand Paul like to preach that our monetary system, centered on the U.S. Dollar, is not based upon anything since it went off the gold standard. Bullshit! Every dollar is backed up by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.  In other words, the Government IS the gold which sustains the dollar! Destroy the government and you inevitably destroy the dollar with it. With the fall of the dollar will come the downfall of every other form of currency which depends upon it, including the Euro, the Yen, the Pound and the Yuen.

So what can we do? Our democracy has gotten so far out of reach of the people that only millionaires can run for public office. And in that fact lies the solution to what we must do:  We must, as surely as we need air, cut the money out from our electoral process!

According to the Citizens' United ruling from the Supreme Court, less than 200 people can direct any election by forcing certain candidates in or out by directing the flow of money into their campaigns.  In other words, the number of people who can vastly influence elections is less than the number of legislators on Capital Hill, and nearly as many as the number of Senators!  By all that is good and just, THIS MUST STOP!

How?  We take no more of this insane bullshit about campaign contributions, that's how! The dream of McCain/Feingold isn't dead just because Feingold got knocked out by the very same Supreme Court ruling which struck down the piece of campaign reform legislation he helped engineer. The insane amounts of money destroy conservative interests just as much as liberal ones, and it does no party any good when 60% of a representative's time is spent, from day one, fundraising for the next election so that he, and his party, can remain in power!

1.) Corporations are not people!  They are governments!  COMPETING governments, as it turns  out!  And the governments of Wal-Mart, Exxon, BP and others must be forever barred from dumping ridiculous amounts of money into campaigns.

2.) Let's put the cap back on dollar amounts to contribute!  No, not back at $2,000, but something more drastic.  $1,000!  Yes, if a politician wants to win, he's just going to have to go out there, wear down some shoe leather, shake a lot of hands, kiss a lot of babies, and actually talk to people!

3.) Enough with the T.V. and radio ad blitzes!  We all know that the reason the money has gotten so over-bloated is because the network executives engineered it that way!  They pay people like Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh at a probable loss (no, I can't prove it, but I'm absolutely convinced!) so that they can rake in the ad revenues every two to four years.  Well, with one voice we can all say FUCK THAT!  It's time for a consumer revolt!  News Corp and Comcast have had their fun, but now it's time for them to FUCK OFF of our politics!

We are, as a society, sensible enough to put spending restrictions upon our sports teams, but we fail to do the same thing when it comes to our political candidates.  Now, that's a serious level of insane!

So it's with great pride that I announce  my push to end ALL political advertising.  It's as simple as all of us collectively saying together that we simply won't take it anymore!  We may not change the candidates, but if we're LOUD about it, they will listen!  To my voting rules list, I am adding a new Rule #1:

All things being equal, vote against the millionaire!

Or, we can allow ourselves the embarrassment of seeing Egypt becoming a better democracy than our own.