promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

Picking presidents; debate commission controls candidates’ chances

In Uncategorized on March 15, 2010 at 2:15 am

From the time American children enter school they are told they can be anything they want to be — even president of the United States. After all, America is the land of opportunity where all you need is a big dream and a little hard work.

In reality, only those allowed to participate have a shot at the United States’ presidency.

I’m not talking about the vast amounts of wealth, Harvard degree or friends in high places one needs to be eligible. While a certain pedigree and small family fortune (or, at the very least, wealthy donors) are necessary steps toward the Oval Office, the most insurmountable obstacle is that posed by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The commission was created in 1987 to “ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners,” according to its website. But civil rights activist and lawyer Connie Rice says the CPD is far from being a public service.

“The CPD is under the total control of the Republican and Democratic parties and by definition bipartisan, not non-partisan,” Rice said.

In Rice’s Top 10 Secrets They Dont Want You to Know About the Debates, she contends that the CPD purposefully shuts out third-party candidates.

“This is what I call the Obstruction of Democratic Debate Rule, which sets an impossibly high threshold for third-party candidates… Where are we, Russia? Isn’t Vladimir Putin wiping out democracy in Russia by excluding all opposing candidates from the airwaves during his re-election campaigns? Most new ideas come from third parties — they should be in the debates.”

Rice is not alone in her harsh criticism of the CPD. The League of Women Voters, which used to run the debates, withdrew its support in October 1988 because of the “campaign-controlled environment.”

“The League of Women Voters is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debate scheduled for mid-October because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter,” League President Nancy M. Neuman said in a press release. “The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

But hoodwinking is exactly what the CPD does.

According to the report, Deterring Democracy: How the Commission on Presidential Debates Undermines Democracy, the Democrat and Republican parties took over the presidential debates in 1986. The CPD was created by then chair of the Republican Party Frank Fahrenkopf and then chair of the Democratic Party Paul Kirk. Both Kirk and Fahrenkopf still reside as chairmen on the committee. The consequences of such partisan creation and control are devastating, according to the report:

“Candidates that voters want to see are often excluded, such as Ross Perot. Issues the American people want to hear about are often ignored, such as free trade and child poverty. And the debates have been reduced to a series of glorified bipartisan news conferences, in which the Republican and Democratic candidates exchange memorized sound bites.”

Even Walter Cronkite called CPD-sponsored debates an “unconscionable fraud.”

It’s disturbing that in a so-called democracy as America, such a dictatorial system exists. When it comes to selecting the most important person in the nation — and arguably the world — debates, and thus elections, are anything but democratic.

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Talk radio vs. the open market place of ideas

In media on March 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Rush, Levin, Hannity. Talk radio superstars. Their shows are witty, entertaining, controversial and opinionated. But are they enlightening? No.

In fact the opposite is true.

These self proclaimed liberty-loving conservatives practice a form of verbal censorship. Its ironic that while they claim to be pro-free market, they suppress the open marketplace of ideas. Articulate, well-developed arguments expressing contradictory viewpoints simply arent allowed.

Mark Levin is a repeat offender. In a recent show, he not-so-gently told a caller he was pathetic. He then proceeded to mockingly challenged the caller to prove how smart he was. When the caller made a weak attempt to defend himself by replying I am smart Levin quickly interrupted with Ill be the judge of that. Levin continued berating the caller; calling him words like moron and idiot.

Needless to say I didnt learn anything — except maybe how to silence dissent.

But Hannity, Rush and Levin arent merely good arguers — they are skillful censors. The interruption, rudeness and domination they practice on their shows are a form of art. They are steamrollers; more concerned with perpetuating a set belief system than with discovering the truth.

But then why do millions of listeners choose to tune in each week? Surely it is not to learn.

On the contrary, it would appear the only reason conservative listeners lend their ears is to reinforce that which they already believe. The small, insignificant amount of information they may actually glean from the shows pales in comparison to the positive affirmation they receive.

After all, talk radio isnt a dialogue, its a monologue. A monologue people would be better off ignoring. Perhaps Americans need to take a cue from these radio hosts and, with the turn of a dial, censor conservative talk radio.