Anonymous Paid Political Advertising

Bill Moyers did a wonderful job of illuminating “Who Pays for Political Ads?” Following this conversation on Huffington Post, I found that I had some observations of my own.

I saw reader comments that we have NO right to know who sponsors anonymous paid political advertising — the PINK SLIME of the advertising industry. The laws of slander still apply to us, but they don’t apply to the anonymous wealthy who corrupt the electoral process.

So it is argued that we who don’t like anonymous paid political ads are free to ignore them, and people who DO like them are free to waive their right to due diligence on the source and veracity of the content. It’s argued there certainly is a protected “right” to anonymously buy the spread of smear and slander. Who can spell PROPAGANDA?

When we think about it, propaganda can be used to manipulate opinion by either side of an issue, but a civilian population has at least a theoretical means of independently verifying or debunking it. It’s quite rational and legitimate to consider the credibility of the source in evaluating things we are told. Anonymous paid political ads take this off the table, because we no longer have a way to determine the source of the information, let alone the methods used to gather or manufacture it.

Anonymity may be vital to the success of a totalitarian state, for both perpetrators and victims, but anonymous and unverifiable political defamation is subversive of a democracy. Stand up to the perpetrators!

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Predator: The Slippery Slope

Plan C is relying on drones, unmanned aerial vehicles with missiles, and also commandos, special operation forces, in order to conduct military operations, in essence on a global basis, identifying those who could pose a threat to us. And without regard to congressional authority, without regard to considerations of national sovereignty, to go kill the people we think need to be killed. takes a look at the slippery slope of remote and targeted assassinations. Embedded video from Bill Moyers’ “Moving Beyond War” with text excerpts and links to the full show transcript. Read the article in Commentary.

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Church vs. State: Religious Freedom vs. Freedom of Speech

Just when we thought the HHS “Contraceptive Kerfuffle” was resolved! So-called “social conservatives” from the religious right are attempting to hijack the issue from the Catholic Bishops to put a two-pronged political and religious spin on it. This followup article continues our February 7 story “Contraception: Controversial Health Care Mandate” in Commentary. Read our latest followup on church vs. state, also in Commentary.

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Contraception: Controversial Health Care Mandate

Catholic charities are not in any way preventing their employees from obtaining contraceptives. They are simply saying “please don’t expect us to provide them.” I fail to understand why reasonable people would not see the true significance of this.

I’m fully aware that the Catholic Church and many other religious groups are still engaged in an unrelenting effort to deprive millions of Americans of civil rights by lobbying our legislators and influencing our laws. But violating their religious and political freedoms, whether we like how they exercise them or not, is not the way to go about it.

Read our analysis in Commentary.

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“Occupy:” Say What?

We all dimly remember when some targets of the Occupy movement’s scorn struck some resonant chord with most of us. The popular spotlight on the vast 99%-1% gap was launched by Occupy. Public resentment against the unholy bank/investment bank consortiums who brought the economy to its knees in 2008 was brought into sharp focus by Occupy. So what the hell do they really want? Read our full article in Commentary

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The Fallacy of False Equivalence

No, it’s not just Republicans. We need to watch election statements more critically, rather than blindly applauding anything which makes our side look better, no matter how egregious a misrepresentation. Non sequitur arguments are so embedded in the political culture that the discerning reader should have no trouble spotting them in either camp. We explore a modern variant of ancient logical fallacies in this post in Commentary.

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Obama Says Texas Wildfires Linked to Climate Change

PolitiFact reported on President Obama’s September 26 comment at a fundraising event, “I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately? You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change.” PolitiFact rated the Obama statement “Half-True.” We try to explain why scientists should and do try to avoid attributing one specific event to a long-range trend, while exploring what it is possible to say objectively about wildfires and climate change. Read the article in Commentary.

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The Globally Disenfranchised Vote

Arab Spring. US corporations who buy elections. Hanging chads and disproportionately disenfranchised minorities throwing presidential elections. The packing of the US Supreme Court. The congressional budget meltdown. Unsubstantiable personal attacks on TV driven by political parties and leaders gone completely out of control. Campaign charges you can’t believe even in those rare cases you’d like to. Nations of sheep who are manipulated and stampeded into predefined niches at the polling place. In our new Information Age, a deficit of trustworthy information and news resources. Think current revolts are an offshore phenomenon? See the New York Times excerpt and links to “As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe.” Read our post in Commentary.

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Taking a Second Look at Social Security

Recently Cousin Ron Lamont re-posted a Facebook “Like” quote by someone alleging that as early as 1967, liberal economists were calling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.” This irritated me enough that I removed it with the “hide this post” tool. I’m still considering whether Facebook, a family-friendly safe space, is even the proper forum for hard-core political commentary and opinion. However, taking a second look at Social Security by analyzing my own FICA wage data, I should expect to get out of Social Security almost exactly the value of what I put into it. Read the full post in Commentary.

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The Tea Party on Hurricane Irene

Where is the Tea Party in the wake of Hurricane Irene? Where is the consistency in a Tea Party that mocks the working class, our once and former middle class, with taunts of “entitlement?” Where does Texas Governor Perry get off telling the Eastern Seaboard “help is on the way?” Opinion in Commentary.

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Science Denial and the Texas Board of Education

Libertarians preach that “this kind of [science-oriented] government interference is intolerable,” yet their evangelical supporters have brought interference in education and dumbing-down of our children to a whole new level. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous quip “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts” is currently enjoying a well-deserved revival. Opinion in Commentary.

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What Republicans and Democrats Still Need to Do

What Republicans and Democrats still need to do: It was very possibly the first time in recorded history that Communist China lambasted the United States in a rant almost everybody here in the United States could actually agree with … Meanwhile, at some point someone is going to have to blink first and put a FOR HIRE sign in the front window and get us all moving again. Read the full post in Commentary.

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Readings on Tourette’s Syndrome and Science Denial

Kids with Tourette’s can be trained to control their symptoms without resorting to increasing dosages of untested medications. The literature says they can have happy, successful, productive lives. If science denial is really just a predisposition to “convenient truthes” (ingrained prejudice), can it be controlled? As a form of learned behavior, can it be un-learned? Maybe we should just hope for “controlled.” — Read the full article in Commentary.

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U.S. Military Role Against Khadafi

If Congress in its infinite wisdom must carp about our minimal air support of the Libyan rebels’ Arab Spring, then perhaps the complainers should introduce a bill repudiating our cooperation with NATO effort to unseat Khadafi Duck. Authorize the action, produce a formal repudiation, or get off the pot. Read article in our Commentary department.

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Bin Laden

While I would like to see our United States reassess this offshore strike strategy, which wins us no friends abroad, I most particularly believe that the Bin Laden family is the very last family on earth with the right to raise questions of equitable solutions to political problems and international war criminals. Read this post in Commentary.

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Wikileaks seems to have become the paparazzi of the diplomatic corps, doing for Hillary Clinton’s world what National Enquirer magazine did for Paris Hilton. I tried at first to ignore the Wikileaks media sensation. Wouldn’t you know, it won’t go away. Some gossipy tidbits are fascinating. Many are potentially embarrassing. Some threaten delicate negotiations, or diplomatic relationships that took years to build. Almost all undermine international confidence in “the system.” Most confirm what we already knew, heard or suspected. How secure were they? The money was not actually kept in bank vaults, but the front door to the bank was thought to be really, really strong. What do these Wikileaks mean, who is responsible for them, and who, ultimately, is accountable for their embarrassing disclosure? Read this post in Commentary.

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“Fire in the Hole!”

As we all know, the new, more highly invasive TSA screening procedures are causing an international furor. I couldn’t track down a source, but the following idea was attributed to an American teenager.

Rather than subjecting air travelers to invasive body pats, or cumulative lifetime x-ray dosages, this proposal suggests that queued passengers simply step into concrete-lined screening booths for a free one-step, five-second, pass/fail screening.

If the scanner detects explosives in body cavities, tennis shoes, underwear or elsewhere, it simply detonates the explosive. We like the elegant simplicity: the prospective terrorist becomes his own counter-measure.

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Tax Credits for Education

Back in my university days, a number of us fancied a libertarian concept known as “tax credits for education”. The idea seemed simple. Parents pay taxes for the public education system, so middle- and lower-income parents have little or no money left over to choose a private school option. Why not give them a tax credit, letting them vote their dollars to the school that best achieves their educational goals? But in 2010, nothing is ever so simple … Read this article in Commentary.

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