February 18, 2005

Plan to raise fines for broadcasting indecent material easily wins House approval Wednesday despite censorship concerns.

From floor statement by Rep. Bernard Sanders:
Let me give just a couple of examples of increased censorship on the airwaves. In January of 2004, CBS refused to air a political advertisement during the Super Bowl by MoveOn.org that was critical of President Bush's role in creating the federal deficit. Last November, sixty-six ABC affiliates refused to air the brilliant World War II movie "Saving Private Ryan," starring Tom Hanks, for fear that they would be fined for airing programming containing profanity and graphic violence, even though ABC had aired the uncut movie in previous years. This ironically was a movie that showed the unbelievable sacrifices that American soldiers made on D-Day fighting for freedom against Hitler, but ABC affiliates around the country didn't feel free to show it. Last November, CBS and NBC refused to run a 30-second ad from the United Church of Christ because it suggested that gay couples were welcome to their Church. The networks felt that it was "too controversial" to air. And just last month, many PBS stations refused to air an episode of Postcards with Buster, a children's show, because Education Secretary Spellings objected to the show's content, which included Buster, an 8-year old bunny-rabbit, learning how to make maple syrup from a family with two mothers in Vermont.

Mr. Speaker, each of these examples represent a different aspect of the culture of censorship that is growing in America today. My fear is that the legislation we have before us today will only compound this problem and make a bad situation worse.

This legislation would impose vastly higher fines on broadcasters for so-called indecent material. But this legislation does not provide any relief from the vague standard of indecency that can be arbitrarily applied by the FCC. That means broadcasters, particularly small broadcasters, will have no choice but to engage in a very dangerous cycle of self-censorship to avoid a fine that could drive some of them into bankruptcy. Broadcasters are already doing it now. Imagine what will happen when a violation can bring a $500,000 fine. If this legislation is enacted, the real victim will be free expression and Americans' First Amendment rights. more....

February 17, 2005

What the Rest of the World Watched on Inauguration Day  

Dublin, on U.S. Inauguration Day, didn't seem to notice. Oh, they played a few clips that night of the American president saying, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."

But that was not their lead story.

The picture on the front page of The Irish Times was a large four-color picture of a small Iraqi girl. Her little body was a coil of steel. She sat knees up, cowering, screaming madly into the dark night. girl
Her white clothes and spread hands and small tight face were blood-spattered. The blood was the blood of her father and mother, shot through the car window in Tal Afar by American soldiers while she sat beside her parents in the car, her four brothers and sisters in the back seat. more....

February 16, 2005

Progressive Review

NPR: MICKEY FINNS FOR LIBERALS

LIBERALS spend a lot of time criticizing Fox News, but little on a more personal threat: the Mickey Finn cocktail served them daily by Nominally Public Radio. For example, NPR recently featured two interviews with officials of the rightwing Center for Strategic International Studies - on the virtues of slashing Social Security and building Star Wars - without any hint of the ideological inclinations of the speakers. In the case of the Social Security interview, it compounded matters by providing "balance" in the form of an ex-Clinton administration official who said the Democrats should give up their love affair with Social Security which he absurdly claimed was unfair to latinos.

Ask yourself: how often have you heard anyone from the Economic Policy Institute, the Institute for Policy Studies or similar progressive groups on your local NPR station? Rarely, no doubt, because NPR, like other media, follows its money, the bulk coming from corporations and government. NPR, run by an ex-government propagandist, seldom presents a story from the point of view of the average worker, farmer, or even small business owner. Many stations feature a program designed for investors and managers called "Marketplace," but hardly a word about the workplace. In short, NPR is highly effective form of aural Prozac for liberals that helps keep the latter from worrying about and doing the things they should. In the words of the old Andrews Sisters song, "Don't worry 'bout strangers; keep your eye on your best friend."

February 15, 2005

Social Security‚s „Sleeper Issueš:
Price Indexing Exposed By Kucinich

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) today brought forth a new case against the Administration‚s so-called Social Security reform plan by exposing the precipitous drop in future retiree benefits implicit in the Administration plan to switch from wage indexing to price indexing.  

  „Social Security benefits have increased over the years because they long have been calculated to wage increases, which on the average go up 3.6% a year. So Social Security benefits increase with rising wages. The Administration wants to change all that. They want to index Social Security benefits based on a price index, not wages.

„As a result, millions of future retirees will see their future Social Security benefits reduced as much as 40%. Because prices do not increase as fast as wages. more....

February 14, 2005

Boxer Delivers Major Speech On Social Security

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) delivered a major speech on Social Security today at the San Francisco Senior Center. Boxer‚s speech addressed efforts to privatize social security and the real motivation behind privatization.

Following is the text of Boxer‚s speech:

Peace of Mind vs. a Gamble: The Social Security Debate

The White House has embarked on a mission to convince the people of our country that Social Security is in dire need of drastic change in order to save it for all workers.

In order to convince the American people of the urgency to privatize Social Security, the president has used words such as „crisis,š „bankruptcy,š and „collapse.š

Let‚s look at the definition of these three words, according to the Merriam-Webster‚s Dictionary.

Crisis: „a situation that has reached a critical phase.š

Bankruptcy: „utter failure or impoverishment.š

Collapse: „to break down completely.š

Is it true that Social Security is in crisis? Is bankrupt? Is collapsing?

The answer is a resounding NO. According to the most conservative estimates, Social Security will be able to pay full benefits for 38 years. In other words, a 37-year-old worker today will get full benefits until he or she is 75 years old if we do nothing to make adjustments to the Trust Fund. A 47-year old worker today will get full benefits until he or she is 85 years old if nothing is done.

So clearly, Social Security is not in crisis, is not bankrupt, and is not collapsing.

Yes, there is a challenge we should address. more....

February 13, 2005

Conservatives Join Forces for Bush Plans Social Security, Tort Limits Spur Alliance

With billions of dollars at stake, a large network of influential conservative groups is mounting a high-priced campaign to help the White House win passage of legislation to partially privatize Social Security and limit class-action lawsuits.

Corporate America, the financial services industry, conservative think tanks, much of the Washington trade association community, the Republican Party and GOP lobbyists and consultants are prepared to spend $200 million or more to influence the outcome of two of the toughest legislative fights in recent memory. more....

February 12, 2005

Howard Dean Becomes Chairman of Democratic National Committee

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who has vowed to help the Democratic Party improve its grassroots efforts, was elected chairman of his party in a vote of Democratic National Committee members today.

**********
Why Dean is Good for Progressive Grassroot Democrats

An effort that began in the dark hours after Kerry‚s "loss" last November will end Saturday in victory as Howard Dean is elected the Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Despite intense opposition from the business, conservative, and Beltway elements of the Democratic Party, Deaniacs, Kucitizens, reformers from DFA, PDA, and the netroots community, (and some DNC members), united to push Dr. Dean ahead of his six opponents, one by one, until only the good Governor was left standing. more....

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