When it comes to the latest hot topics of the day, one will not learn anything new by watching the talking heads on cable news or the networks. Fortunately, technology has come a long way, and all one has to do is browse the Web for perspectives and information that will most certainly raise the bar on the water-cooler dialogue at the office.
To that end, you will find ready-to-go video clips about the following stories that you won't find anywhere else:
April 15 Tea Parties
The Quad Cities hosted two Tea Party protests on the infamous Income Tax Day. More than 500 people attended the Davenport protest, and more than 300 people assembled that afternoon in Moline. The Reader was at both events and has posted a nine-minute video segment that includes interviews with seven people, including an 11-year-old.
The mainstream media picked up on the Tea Parties as a simple way to continue polarizing the masses along strict left/right and us/them party lines. No single outlet could help itself. As a guest on Keith Olbermann's show on MSNBC, Janeane Garofalo described the protest attendees as the "Klan demographic" and "tea-bagging racists who hate having a black man in office." To which Olbermann rhetorically asked, "What happens if at one of these things somebody hurts somebody?" And Fox Noise talk-show host Sean Hannity picked up the banner of the downtrodden tax payer and promoted the Tea Parties as if he had some solidarity with any disenfranchised citizens other than staunch neo-conservatives just like him. It was appalling. The really sad part is that many Americans fell for the "party baiting" hook, line, and sinker, and the only loser in that game was the level of discourse in America.
The bias in the media was no more apparent than when the reporter from CNN accosted a man holding a sign and his two-year-old child. The man's sign was about how his two-year-old was already in debt, and the reporter berated him, demanding whether he knew he was entitled to a check for $400 under the new regime. She wouldn't let him answer her questions, and things got worse from there when she finally claimed, "It is clear this crowd is anti-CNN and anti-government." The clip went viral for a short period, then CNN forced YouTube to take it off the air over copyright issues. Fortunately, FoundingBloggers.com was on-site in Chicago and filmed the dialogue that happened after the CNN cameras were off, and a suburban small-business owner takes the reporter to task, pointing out that CNN failed to show signs such as "Republican's Suck Too. End the Fed."
The reporter keeps trying to pigeonhole the woman as part of a group, and finally the woman explains that both the Democrats and Republicans are to blame for all our ills and that they "all need to go." Too bad that didn't make it to CNN's broadcast. You can watch the clip that CNN had YouTube pull and the off-camera fun below here.
In Minnesota, the blogger "The Grace Kelly" posted this account on the decidedly liberal Daily Kos Web site: "At a protest, normally, one sees the very hardcore support. However, what I saw was widespread disillusionment. In the video, notice how people are blaming politicians on both sides. Note that even though we now have President Obama, there is still acknowledgment that the problems started in the President Bush administration. So unlike other reports, talking to people at the Minnesota tax tea party gave me hope that these people value 'fiscal responsibility' and are actually open to persuasion." You can watch her insightful interviews about fair tax and the Federal Reserve at our Web site.
The SHA (Swine Human Avian) Flu Virus
The front page of the Wall Street Journal on Monday read, "The federal government is releasing 12.5 million courses of its emergency stockpile of potentially effective antiviral drugs to states that need them." Since when does anyone "need" something that is "potentially effective," especially when the risks of the drugs may be higher than the virus? To the WSJ's credit, they refrained from referring to this latest scare as "swine flu," but they did give us unique insight into what the future may hold for you at your airport. Pictured was "Scanning for feverish passengers at an airport in South Korea," showing bio-scans of passengers by their body-heat index. One can imagine the abuse and fear such a vetting process could engender. But don't take my word for it; listen to Dr. Ron Paul, an 11-term congressman from Texas and an MD. He and a Georgia congressmen, Larry McDonald (also an MD), were the only two "no" votes back in 1976 when the government ramped up a similar "swine flu" pandemic scare and mass-vaccinated thousands of people, including military, by force, resulting in 25 deaths and hundreds becoming sick ... from the cure no less. You can watch Paul question why Homeland Security is getting involved in medicine at our Web site.
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The First Amendment Center has since 1997 annually surveyed Americans' attitudes toward and knowledge of the First Amendment. Last September, on Constitution Day, the Center released its 2008 results, sadly demonstrating the worst level of awareness amongst those surveyed ever.
39 percent would extend to subscription cable and satellite television the government's current authority to regulate content on over-the-air broadcast television.
54 percent would continue IRS regulations that bar religious leaders from openly endorsing political candidates from the pulpit without endangering the tax-exempt status of their organizations.
66 percent say the government should be able to require television broadcasters to offer an equal allotment of time to conservative and liberal broadcasters; 62 percent would apply that same requirement to newspapers, which never have had content regulated by the government.
31 percent would not permit musicians to sing songs with lyrics that others might find offensive.
68 percent favor government restrictions on campaign contributions by private companies, and 55 percent favor such limits on amounts individuals can contribute to someone else's campaign.
The survey found that just 3 percent of those questioned could name "petition" as one of the five freedoms in the First Amendment. Only "speech" was named by a majority of respondents, 56 percent. Less than 20 percent named religion, press, or assembly.
It is boiling down to this: How meaningful is the United States Constitution to Americans, and are the founding principles still relevant, let alone worth fighting for? It is that simple. The U.S. Constitution is the single most revolutionary document in the history of governance, bar none, and through its establishment created the most innovative and prosperous nation on Earth.
It is more apparent every day that the "change" Obama was elected to bring will not be forthcoming when it comes to the financial sector and foreign policy. Like Bush's former henchman Paulson, Obama Treasury Secretary Geithner advocates the elite global banking interests and is a puppet of the Federal Reserve Bank (which is neither federal nor reserve - remember? RiverCitiesReader.com/commentary/neither-federal-nor-reserve). It is just that simple.
When are Americans going to stop suffering the politicians' talk in favor of indicting their walk? Obama's and Bush's administrations, in tandem with Congress, have given all new meaning to the term "passing the buck." Each of these political entities has managed to take not a scintilla of responsibility for any of it. And there is no end in sight to the cycle of spending and taxing.
Our elected officials continue to vote up legislation that allocates trillions in subsidies, in what amounts to pure pork disguised as bailouts for unworthy enterprises. What enrages most is the blame game that continues between the political parties' leadership, including the mainstream media according to its party affiliation, with the full participation of the congressmen themselves, who transparently feign outrage over what Wall Street is still getting away with. Meanwhile, these largely incompetent legislators consistently try to disassociate themselves with the outrageous lack of accountability and transparency.
Listening to the congressional debates over pending legislation is almost surreal in its mind-numbing hypocrisy. Both Republicans and Democrats, whether in the Senate or the House, have the supreme audacity to stand at the podium, one after another, and blame each other for a host of earmarks, excessive spending, and lack of oversight, while simultaneously enacting legislation that has countless earmarks, unprecedented excessive spending, and a complete lack of oversight because any regulatory language has no remedy attached.