May 6, 2006

Using a Charity for Corruption

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 25, 2006 @ 6:31 pm
Filed under: Action, Government

Corporations are banned from donating to Congressional campaigns.

But Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) has found a way around that.

He has a charity called the “Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology” which has accepted a million dollars from AT&T.

The corrupt Congressman is rewarding AT&T by ruining the internet. He wants to allow AT&T to slow down connections to websites and shake down website owners to get their websites back up to speed.

From TPM Muckraker via fair.org:

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), the main Democratic co-sponsor of a controversial bill that would give control of the Internet to big phone companies, is in AT&T’s pocket, critics are charging.

Over the past five years, the phone giant has given $1 million to a charity tied to Rush, funding the construction of the “Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports this morning.

“It is a clear conflict of interest for Rep. Rush to weigh in on this bill,” Sheila Krumholz, acting executive director of the nonpartisan watchdog Center for Responsive Politics, told the paper. “People can disagree about where to draw the line on contributions and abstaining from votes, but $1 million is definitely over that line.”

Both Rush and his wife, Carolyn, are board members of the Rebirth of Englewood CDC, which took AT&T’s money, the Sun-Times says. Rush’s son, Flynn, works for the center.

Oddly, the technology program has yet to get off the ground, the paper finds. But it is “now expected to open in the next 12 months.”

It should be illegal for Congressman to affiliate with charities. It’s a loophole for corruption.




Protect the Internet

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 22, 2006 @ 2:30 pm
Filed under: SpeakSpeak, Action

Right now, you can connect to SpeakSpeak as quickly as to other websites.

Should companies like AT&T be able to decide in the future to connect people to SpeakSpeak more slowly than to other websites?

I say NO.

Please use this easy form to contact Congress about Net Neutrality.

You can write in the box that, “Carriers should not be allowed to intentionally make some websites faster than others.”




Will Bush Nuke Iran?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
April 8, 2006 @ 8:41 am
Filed under: Action, Government, Media Watch

Important information from famous journalist Seymour Hersh:

The United States is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including possible use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs to destroy a suspected–but far from proven– nuclear weapons facility, The New Yorker magazine will report in its April 17 issue.

Take action!

Please tell your Senators no nuclear first-strikes.
(more…)




Support Lobbying Reform

Posted by Eric Jaffa
March 27, 2006 @ 4:46 pm
Filed under: Action, Free Speech, Government

We all have free speech in the US to talk about politics.

But lobbyists get to do so while buying a Senator a meal, and most people don’t.

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) wants to pass a law that both lobbyists and their lobbying firms are barred from paying for a Senator’s meal.

If it were up to me, the bill would go further and ban ANYONE EXCEPT THE SENATOR from paying for a Senator’s meal, but apparently my idea isn’t under consideration at this time.

Anyway, I filled out a Common Cause form to support the Feingold measure, and I hope you will, too.




Secrecy and Democracy Don’t Mix

Posted by Eric Jaffa
March 12, 2006 @ 7:12 am
Filed under: Action, Government

For the US to be a democracy, citizens need to know whether our civil liberties are being protected.

Citizens need to know far more about the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping, in order to reach our own conclusions about whether it’s consistent with our Constitution, and decide whether to vote against the Republicans in 2006 and 2008.

But a proposed bill would stomp about our democratic right to know what our government is doing.

A bill by Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) would punish whistleblowers:

The draft would add to the criminal penalties for anyone who “intentionally discloses information identifying or describing” the Bush administration’s terrorist surveillance program or any other eavesdropping program conducted under a 1978 surveillance law.

Under the boosted penalties, those found guilty could face fines of up to $1 million, 15 years in jail or both.

We need MORE INFORMATION on what our government is doing, not less. This is supposed a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Good Senators ask: What can I do to make the public better informed?

Rotten Senators ask: What can I do to make the public more in the dark?

Please ask your Congressperson and Senators to vote against an NSA bill. Contact information is at www.vote-smart.org. Type a last name on the top-left.




Fairness on the Internet (Sticky Post, Newer Posts Below)

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 22, 2006 @ 12:34 pm
Filed under: Action, Government

Please use this easy form to tell Congress to support a Net Neutrality bill.
(more…)




Help ‘Air America Radio’

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 7, 2006 @ 6:36 am
Filed under: Action, Radio

The talk-radio network Air America has 87 stations.

Want to help them to reach 100?

Then consider making a small donation.

« Update Afternoon of February 7, 2006 »

Now the AAR website says 88 stations. Let’s help them keep growing.

The 88 figure include Buffalo, New York’s WHLD, which will start broadcasting AAR shows on Monday:

According to a release from NIM , WHLD will feature Air America’s Al Franken, Randi Rhodes, and Laura Flanders, along with Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now,” “Flashpoints,” and “Free Speech Radio News.” The rest of the lineup, per NIM, will include “local programming promoting a diverse and spirited dialog on important issues facing our community.”




About the Newsweek Article, “Can the President Order a Killing on U.S. Soil?”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 6, 2006 @ 12:50 am
Filed under: Action, Government, Media Watch

From a Newsweek article by Mark Hosenball:

Steven Bradbury, acting head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel, went to a closed-door Senate intelligence committee meeting last week to defend President George W. Bush’s surveillance program. During the briefing, said administration and Capitol Hill officials (who declined to be identified because the session was private), California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances.

I discuss the legal reasons why Bush doesn’t have the authority which his administration claims he does, at Move Left.

Because SpeakSpeak is primarily about free speech and the media, I want to add that some media analysis:

Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball should be congratulated for bringing the public this important exclusive.

However, Hosenball only quotes one law professor (University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein), and that professor is mostly sympathetic to the Bush Administration position. Hosenball doesn’t quote any Democratic Senators or Congresspersons.

More perspectives contrary to administration officials who ascribe dictatorial powers to Bush would have enhanced the article.

« Action Alert »

What are the certain circumstances under which Bush official Steven Bradbury thinks Bush can order people in the US killed?

He should have to answer that question to Congress.

Please contact your Rep. and Senators and request that Jutice Department official Steven Bradbury be ordered to testify.

You can contact the offices of your representatives and leave a message by entering his or her last name on the top-left of www.vote-smart.org.




Samuel Alito Is Corrupt; He Doesn’t Belong on the Supreme Court

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 8, 2006 @ 7:52 pm
Filed under: Action, Government, Media Watch, Free Press, Courts

George W. Bush has nominated Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court; Senate hearing start tomorrow.

The media-watch organization “Media Matters for America” covers media myths about Samuel Alito.

One involves Samuel Alito’s corrupt actions in judging a case with a company he owned more than $390,00 in mutual funds through, Vanguard. Alito ruled in favor of Vanguard.

Alito promised not to judge Vanguard cases, but did anyway.

Alito told the Senate in 1990:

I do not believe that conflicts of interest relating to my financial interests are likely to arise. I would, however, disqualify myself from any cases involving the Vanguard companies, the brokerage firm of Smith Barney, or the First Federal Savings & Loan of Rochester, New York.

Yet “the New York Times has repeated without challenge Alito’s claim that the pledge he made in 1990 to recuse himself in such cases was limited to ‘the initial period’ after his confirmation.”

Samuel Alito is too corrupt for the Supreme Court. Senators should filibuster him.

« Take Action »

Please call your Senators’ offices and leave a message requesting a filibuster.

You can find phone numbers of Senators’ offices by entering their last names on the top-left of www.vote-smart.org.




Support ‘Independent World Television’

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 5, 2006 @ 7:38 pm
Filed under: Action

It’s a news network planned for 2007.

The motto of Independent World Television is “uncompromising journalism.

One of their advisers is Amy Goodman. You can watch her interviewed about IWT News and the news media in general.

IWT News won’t have ads. They won’t accept corporate or government donations. They need donations from people like us in order to come into existence.

Please donate.




A Family Tier for Cable TV: Will It Be Enough to Calm Things Down?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 13, 2005 @ 6:51 pm
Filed under: Action, Cable/Satellite, Government, Opinion, TV, Indecency

« Update of December 16, 2005 »

It turn out that people who order the family tier won’t get MTV and similar channels. Details here.

« Original Main »

A group of cable channels intended for families with small children could be a good idea. But it depends on the details.

From David Ranii for The News & Observer of North Carolina:

Time Warner Cable spokesman Keith Cocozza confirmed that the company will introduce a family-friendly package soon.

“The family tier we are considering would be offered as an addition to basic-only service,” he said. Because the basic tier is the minimum level of service subscribers can receive, such a tier would be available at additional cost to all subscribers.

Does Keith Cocozza mean that families who just want “The Disney Channel” and other G-rated channels would still pay for racier channels such as MTV and FX?

If so, this announcement will just delay the “indecency” controversy (what should Congress do about indecency, if anything?) until the day the service is offered. (The packages could materialize “as early as March,” says Kyle McSlarrow, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.)

The family tier, as described, won’t satisfy critics a bit. Groups like the Parents Television Council regard having to pay for MTV to get other cable channels as a big issue.

« The family-tier should be stand-alone and low-priced »

I believe that the cable industry should say that people who only want “The Disney Channel” (and similarly G-rated channels) can get just those channels for a low-price.

Offering G-rated channels alone for a low-price would calm things down. It would stop Congress from trying to extend “indecency” regulations to cable and from mandating a la carte programming.

I don’t want Congress to pass an indecency bill. A family tier that is only available to people who subscribe to basic cable may not be enough to stop Congress from passing an indecency bill.

« Update of December 16, 2005 »

It turn out that people who order the family tier won’t get MTV and similar channels. Details here.




“Now Is One of Your Last Chances to Hear Him Bleeped”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 11, 2005 @ 7:06 pm
Filed under: Action, FCC, Free Speech, Cable/Satellite, Government, TV, Indecency, Radio, Howard

This title is the slogan that cable channel Comedy Central is using to advertise Howard Stern’s interview with Jon Stewart on Tuesday’s “The Daily Show.”

Comedian Howard Stern is moving from broadcast radio, in which indecency is illegal, to satellite radio, where it’s legal to say almost anything.

Indecency is vaguely defined as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community broadcast standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.”

Please let your Congressperson and Senators know that you DON’T want indecency regulations applied to satellite radio (or satellite television or cable television). In other words, please ask Congress to maintain free speech on those systems.

You can find contact information for Congress at
www.vote-smart.org.




Right-Wing Bias at C-Span

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 5, 2005 @ 6:53 pm
Filed under: Action, Cable/Satellite, Media Watch, TV

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), publisher of “Extra!,” conducted a study of C-Span’s “Washington Journal”:

To test C-SPAN’s claims of fairness, Extra! studied Washington Journal’s guestlist, tabulating all 663 guests that appeared on the show in the six-month period from November 1, 2004 to April 30, 2005.

…Despite its declaration of balance, the Washington Journal hosted journalists from right-leaning opinion magazines more often than it did those from the left. For instance, the conservative Weekly Standard furnished three guests, as did the like-minded National Review (including National Review Online). Only two guests from the liberal American Prospect were invited on the Journal, and only one guest from the left-leaning Nation.

When opinion journalists from all outlets were included, the right-leaning bias was nearly as strong: 32 right-of-center journalists appeared, vs. 19 left-of-center reporters (even counting editor Peter Beinart, the New Republic’s pro-war editor, as being on the left). Perhaps this tilt to the right could be rationalized if right-wing magazines were distinctly more popular than their counterparts on the left, but the reverse seems to be true; Mother Jones and The Nation both best National Review’s circulation numbers by a wide margin, and The Progressive outsells the Weekly Standard and American Spectator.

If you are concerned about right-wing bias, please mention the FAIR study to C-Span by emailing: .




Urgent Action: Fight the Parents Television Council, Ask the FCC to Deny NCIS Fine (sticky post)

Posted by Amanda Toering
November 16, 2005 @ 7:02 pm
Filed under: Action, PTC, FCC

Speak up now! (more…)




Vote Up This Video Submitted to “Current TV”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 12, 2005 @ 9:12 am
Filed under: Action, Free Speech, Government, TV

The video discussed in this article is here.

« Current TV »

Current TV is a recently launched cable channel chaired by Al Gore. Ordinary people submit videos about culture and politics to the channel. On the Current TV website, the public votes on which videos are aired. (Voters are not required to have access to the Current TV cable channel, which is not available to all subscribers.)

« “Made in USA”: Video about free speech »

Made in USA is a video recently uploaded to the “Current TV” website. The director uses one name, “Voytek.”

The description of the video reads: “Freedom — Aren’t you losing it America? Summer 2003. New York City. Tompkins Square Park.”

The video shows people peacefully marching in New York in 2003.

A uniformed bicycle cop rams into the crowd, starting a fight that gives police a pretext for arrests.

There is at least one undercover cop at the march who arrests people after the bicycle cop starts a fight.

« Protest marches and undercover cops »

The presence of undercover cops should be illegal at marches.

Firstly, it’s covert government spying on people exercising their First Amendment rights.

Secondly, the message sent by the presence of an undercover cop is the government’s message — not the organizer’s message. (And at a rally, the protesters and counter-protesters should “own” the message — not the government.)

Thirdly, there is the agent provocateur issue.

While “Made in USA” shows provocation by a uniformed cop, in Miami at the 2003 Free Trade (FTAA) protest, plain-clothes police used their disguises to more easily mix the crowd and act violently against protestors, tasering unsuspecting people. You can’t get a badge number for accountablility when the police who attack you don’t wear badges.

« Go vote »

Please vote to “green-light” the “Made in USA” video , even if you don’t get Current TV.




Tomlinson Out at CPB

Posted by Amanda Toering
November 4, 2005 @ 1:16 pm
Filed under: Action, PBS

Kenneth Tomlinson, ex-chairman of the Committee for Public Broadcasting (parent of PBS), has resigned the CPB’s board last night. Tomlinson was responsible for the firestorm over PBS’ supposed “liberal bias.” Tomlinson’s resignation seemed timed to avoid criticism stemming from a soon-to-be-released report on his tenure.

From the Washington Post:

Tomlinson, a Republican, quit shortly before CPB Inspector General Kenneth Konz was to publish a report after investigating his activities, including paying outside researchers to check public programing for liberal bias.

Critics, including broadcasters and congressional Democrats, accused Tomlinson of trying to advance his own conservative agenda in public broadcasting, which is supposed to be non-partisan.

Details of the investigation have not yet been reported. It also looked into the selection of a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee as CPB president, according to Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat.

The CPB said both the board and Tomlinson believed it was in the best interest of the CPB that he step down.

Meanwhile, the media watchdog group Free Press is thanking its activists (including many visitors to this site) for signing a petition calling for the politically motivated Tomlinson’s ouster.

The work’s not done yet, says Free Press.

More than 100,000 Free Press activists called for Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson’s resignation. Your phone calls to Congress turned up the heat for an official investigation. Facing a damning report by the Inspector General, Tomlinson has finally slinked away.

But he has left behind a cast of political cronies who seem intent on carrying out his partisan crusade. We need sweeping reforms that would replace the political hacks at CPB with experienced professionals dedicated to the real priorities of public broadcasting.

Tomlinson is the first to be shown the exit; others should follow him out the door. Send a letter and tell your members of Congress that the CPB must be returned to its original mission of protecting public broadcasting from political meddling.

Please take a moment to sign the Free Press petition — and help clean house at the politically stacked Corporation for Public Broadcasting.




Protect Online Free Speech

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 1, 2005 @ 8:20 am
Filed under: Action, Free Speech, Government

Tell your Congressperson that the federal government shouldn’t regulate political speech online.

Ask him or her to support HR 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act.

You can find how to email or phone your Congressperson at vote-smart.org.

Update of November 2, 2005, at 2:15 Central Time

I watched this debated in the House on C-Span.

It seemed to conclude by postponing a vote for another day.

The Democrats I saw were against this bill, arguing that it was a loophole for soft money, while the Republicans were in favor, citing free speech.

My position

The FEC does a lousy job of regulating spending on political TV commercials.

The Swift Boat ads against John Kerry were paid for with soft money, in violation of my interpretation of campaign finance laws, but the FEC apparently decided this was permissible.

Let Congress and the FEC prove that it can do a good job of stopping political ads on TV from being paid for with soft money. Then maybe I’ll believe they can do a good job of regulating the internet.

At least until then, Congress and the FEC should keep their hands off of political speech on the internet.

Unlike TV, the internet is rapidly changing. Let the internet (which only recently became important to politics) run free, and years from now we’ll see what regulations are needed, if any.

I support H.R. 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act.




Hear Us. Now.

Posted by Amanda Toering
October 17, 2005 @ 12:05 pm
Filed under: Action, FCC, Media Watch

The good folks over at the Consumers Union continue to look out for us. This time, they’ve fired up a project dedicated ensuring that the FCC protect the public interest when it comes media consolidation.

The project, Hear Us Now, has published an animated musical detailing the evils of corporate radio, featuring the most excellent Austin Lounge Lizards.

If you’re like me, and you no longer listen to commercial radio (which, by the way, would never deign to play the Lounge Lizards), the cartoon will make your day.

Check out Hear Us Now. Watch the video. And more importantly, sign their petition to the FCC. It reads, in part:

Like most Americans, I rely on the media to find out about national and local issues. I want to feel confident that I can get all the viewpoints I need to make well-reasoned decisions about these issues, and expect the FCC to draft rules that encourage diversity of media voices and ownership…

As the Consumers Union and the Lizards say, “fight the power.”




Independent World Television — Take Action

Posted by Eric Jaffa
October 15, 2005 @ 7:24 am
Filed under: Action

IWT is a news channel planned for 2007. No ads. No government or corporate sponsorship.

Advisors include Amy Goodman and Janeane Garofalo.

Sign up for IWT email updates because:

a) It’s free.

b) They’ve only been sending one or two emails per month.

c) A bigger email list will help IWT to negotiate with cable TV companies, by demonstrating consumer interest.




I Donated to the ACLU Tonight

Posted by Eric Jaffa
October 9, 2005 @ 7:38 pm
Filed under: Action, Government

The Bush Administration claims it can imprison any of us for the rest of our lives without trial.

At times like these, we need the American Civil Liberties Union.




Action Alert: PTC Fires Up Complaint Machine

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 1, 2005 @ 11:00 am
Filed under: Action, PTC

They took a break, but the PTC complainers are back in action.

Speak up now!

(more…)




Action Alert: Talk Back to the Houston City Council (sticky)

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 12, 2005 @ 1:32 pm
Filed under: Action

The Houston City Council is at it again.

The Council is scheduled to vote on Wednesday, July 13th, on whether to renew Houston MediaSource’s contract. We need you to speak up now.

Tell the Houston City Council that they need to spend more time protecting free speech and less time protecting fragile sensibilities.

Tell them that, sometimes, living in a free speech society means learning to swallow your disgust.

Tell them they’re a bunch of buttheads, if you want.

Just speak up.

7/13/04 Update

Thanks in part to your letters, the Houston City Council has postponed the vote on Houston MediaSource’s contract. They will revisit the issue in August.

Meantime, the Harris County Republican Party has started a campaign to cancel the contract.

Your letters are more important now than they were before.

Speak up!




Action Alerts!

Posted by Eric Jaffa
June 28, 2005 @ 12:41 pm
Filed under: Action

The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes in “defending freedom in the digital world.”

Their website has six action alerts.

Some of these involve freedom of speech, the topic of this blog, more than others, but I decided to pass them all along.

Urge Congress to Reform not Expand PATRIOT

Best E-voting Bill Reintroduced — Lend Your Support!

Stop Congress from Raising the Broadcast Flag

Support DMCA Reform — Help Pass HR 1201!

Protect Public Weather Data

Stop the Trademark Act from Diluting Free Speech!




Support Honest, Accurate, Responsible TV Sex

Posted by Amanda Toering
May 13, 2005 @ 10:16 am
Filed under: Action

Meet The Media Project, the entertainment industry’s resource on sexual health, who recently launched, Take PART, an organized effort to stop censorship in Hollywood. Take P.A.R.T.’s mission is to let broadcasters and the FCC know that we ” applaud their efforts to depict adolescent sexual health in an honest, accurate, and responsible manner.”

Let’s face it — abstinence does indeed work, but only if you practice it. For better or for worse, many teens don’t. And, for worse, the current political climate often keeps vital sexual health information from kids who go down that for-better-or-for-worse road.

That’s where Hollywood comes in. According to their website, “Take P.A.R.T. offers positive reinforcement to the creative industry and gives a voice to a community that understands the power of entertainment and its effect on the social attitudes and behaviors of young people.”

Take P.A.R.T. is currently sponsoring campaigns to support Law and Order: SVU (for showing the importance of protecting minors’ right to confidential health care), Summerland (for showing the importance of teens talking with trusted adults about sex), and Judging Amy (for offering safer sex messaging and a depiction of the importance of living a full life when HIV-positive).

Please take a minute to drop by Take P.A.R.T.’s site. Send a note to broadcasters and the FCC letting them know that you support the responsible depiction of adolescent sexual health. Or, don’t — and wait for the chastity belt to make its prime time debut.




Put the “Public” Back in PBS

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 10:32 am
Filed under: Action, PBS

Free Press has joined up with several consumer advocacy groups to return public interest to PBS, “proposing a series of local hearings across the country where the public will talk directly to broadcasters and policymakers about the future of public broadcasting.”

Read their announcement, and their report on the state of public broadcasting at Free Press.