Saturday, December 31, 2011

Egyptian Dissident Freed!
Alaa Abdel Fattah released from jail

Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah was released from prison on Christmas day. Fattah had been charged by the Egyptian military with inciting clashes between the Coptic Christians and the military at a demonstration outside Egypt’s State TV. Observers from human rights groups believe that the charges against Alaa were brought to hide the Egyptian military’s responsibility for the confrontation and to silence a vocal critic of Egypt’s military.

During Alaa’s 2 months imprisonment, his son was born. On December 28, Alaa described his detention and the state of the Egyptian revolution on Democracy Now. Alaa described being initially imprisoned for 5 days in a cell that was unsanitary and only being allowed 10 minutes a day to use the bathroom. He said that others who had been imprisoned in relation to the same incident had been tortured.

Alaa’s release follows several important developments in Egypt.

In November, the protests in Tahrir grew considerably. The activists demanded that the military immediately hand over power to a civilian government. A rival pro-military group of Egyptians organized to oppose the Tahrir activists. Chris Hays discussed these developments with an Egyptian journalist.

Mona Elthaway, an Egyptian-born American journalist, covered the November protests and was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted and detained by the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior and Military Intelligence. In an appearance on The Dylan Ratigan Show, Elthaway called for the end of US military aid to Egypt and for US companies to stop selling the Egyptian military weapons and teargas.  


All the while, Egypt has been voting for its parliament. The election takes place in a three part process that began November 28 and will extend into next year. Initial results show that the Islamists parties are winning by a dramatic margin with the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties winning close to 70 percent of the vote. Both groups have said that they will respect Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

In mid-December, Jihan Hafiz filed a report for The Real News showing plain clothed Egyptian soldiers thronging rocks at protestors. The report also stated, “The army, the police, and plain clothed thugs rushed into tahrir square, beating and arresting everyone in sight, destroying tents and make-shift clinics, and attacking both doctors and journalists.”

On December 29, the Egyptian military raided the offices of several human rights groups in Cairo including organizations funded by the US government; this lead to a critical response from the State Department.

Even though Alaa Abdul Fattah is now free, the Egyptian military continues its repression of Egyptian rights.  

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bradley Manning Finally Gets His Day in Court:
Developments in the story of Manning and Wikileaks

Much has occurred in the story of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks since I wrote my first post on the topic. I have also learned about things that had occurred as a result of Wikileaks before I wrote my first post. For those of you who haven’t yet read my first post on Bradley Manning, I would recommend reading it first.  

A Wikileaks cable which discussed corruption and nepotism within Tunisia played a minor supporting role in inspiring protestors to call for the resignation of Tunisian dictator Bin Ali. After Bin Ali was forced to flee his country, democratic uprisings spread throughout the Middle East.

A student confronted US State Department representative PJ Crowley about Bradley Manning’s mistreatment at Quantico during an MIT seminar last March. Crowley responded by saying, “What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defense." Shortly afterward PJ Crowley was forced to resign his post in the Obama administration.

PJ Crowley defended his remarks in an editorial in The Guardian. However, this does not mean that he is a fan of Bradley Manning. In the same editorial Crowley stated his view that, “Private Manning is rightly facing prosecution and, if convicted, should spend a long, long time in prison.”

In April it was apparent that the government wasn’t going to allow Bradley Manning to receive official unmonitored visits from Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Amnesty International, or the UN Special Rappatour on Torture.

On two separate occasions, Wikileaks has published the names of US informants in Iraq and Afghanistan and put their lives at risk. Thankfully there have been no reports of deaths occurring as a result, but that does not excuse this unforgivable recklessness on the part of Wikileaks. The details of these incidents are complex, detailed, and in dispute. It should suffice to say that no legitimate news organization would have allowed this to happen once, let alone twice. Manning had no way of knowing that the information he leaked would be handled so irresponsibly, so it would be unfair to blame him for these disclosures. Manning would have been better served to have leaked his documents to Al Jazeera, The Guardian, or other alternative news source. They would have redacted the names of the informants. 

On November 21, the government finally announced when Manning would get his day in court. On December 16, Private Manning’s Article 32 pre-trial hearing began. It was also his 24th birthday. After 19 months in detention by the US military, Manning finally got to begin his trial.

Bradley Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, requested that Hillary Clinton testify at the pre-trial hearing on the effect the Wikileaks disclosures have had on national security. Coombs also requested that President Obama testify about his statement that “He [Manning] broke the law,” before Manning had been convicted or even seen a courtroom. Overall the prosecution opposed having 38 of the defense’s requested 48 witnesses to testify at the pre-trial hearing. The other 10 were already on the prosecution’s request list. Ultimately, two of the witnesses that the defense requested and the prosecution opposed, testified at the hearing, the other 36 did not. The prosecution ended up calling 21 witnesses.

 David Coombs also requested that the presiding judge, Paul Almanza, recuse himself from hearing the case because of his former work for the U.S. Justice Department which is preparing a possible case against Wikileaks. Colonel Almanza declined by saying that he worked in the part of the Justice Department that dealt with child exploitation and obscenity rather than National Security.

One of the defense’s primary arguments is that the military acted inappropriately by failing to provide Manning with much needed psychological help. Bradley Manning was suffering from having to conceal the fact that he was gay in a military that still enforced Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Manning also wrote a letter to Sergeant Atkins, the highest ranking military officer in Manning’s unit, that he was suffering from Gender Identity Disorder and that it caused him serious problems in his daily life. This serious mental distress lead him to occasional violent outbursts.

The defense’s other primary argument is that Private Manning is a whistleblower. The defense stated that, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” That view was once held by a man who also said, “Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.” That man was Barack Obama. Manning’s case is only one of five cases where the Obama administration has prosecuted whistleblowers.  

The prosecution argues that Manning broke several military rules when he downloaded classified information and passed it on to those not authorized to see it. But the prosecution’s argument is much deeper than that. The prosecution argued that Manning had knowledge when he gave the classified information to Wikileaks that it would end up in the hands of Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and other enemies of the United States.

Kevin Gosztola, who covered Manning’s trial, summed up the consequences of this argument quite nicely on Democracy Now, “That is essentially criminalizing National Security Journalism.” He elaborated by saying, “If you do a report on a drone strike, if you do a report on anything related to military operations and Al Qaeda reads it then you could be accused of aiding the enemy.”

When the truth is a propaganda victory for your enemy, you have a problem on your hands. To be clear, I do not think the US is anywhere close to being as bad as Al Qaeda. But when governments prosecute whistleblowers because the misdeeds they uncover are useful to enemies of the government, the public looses the right to know what its government is doing and its ability to change it.  

Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing ended on December 22. The judge has not yet made his ruling, but will likely decide that the prosecution has enough evidence to proceed to trial.

Post Script: Al Jazeera’s Listening Post examined how the US media has covered Manning’s pre-trial hearing. The program also discussed how Manning’s exposure of misconduct on the part of the US Military in Iraq may have helped contribute to Iraq’s reluctance to grant legal immunity to US troops who would have stayed in Iraq passed the end of 2011. As a result, talks about an extension of the US presence in Iraq broke down and our soldiers finally got to come home for Christmas.

The Alyona Show on Russia Today featured extensive coverage on Manning’s pre-trial hearing. That coverage included this discussion on the hearing between Alyona, Daniel Ellsberg, and Kevin Gosztola.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Not-So-Conservative Republican Presidential Field

The Republican presidential candidates adopted positions in the past that are quite liberal by today’s standards. They have been doing all they can to distance themselves from these positions as each tries to assert that they are the most conservative candidate. Thus, the following SNL-style skit features the leading Republican presidential candidates discussing their previous political positions that they have either changed or tried to downplay. In order to make the skit work, it must be set both in the Carter, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations. I know it’s an absurd premise, but go with it. We join the younger versions of the Republican presidential candidates on a train traveling between Washington D. C.  and Boston.  

Romney: Wow, I never thought I would have the pleasure to meet the great Newt Gingrich, leader of the Republican resurgence. Hi, I’m Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts.

Gingrich: Pleasure to meet you Mitt, how are things going for you in Massachusetts?

Romney: Great, actually. I just passed Health Care Reform that includes subsidies to help the poor afford insurance, regulations on insurance companies, and an individual mandate to buy health insurance.

Gingrich: Ahh, the Heritage Foundation plan. I just introduced a national version of the same plan in the House.

Romney: It’s projected to work wonders in Massachusetts, around 98 percent of our population will be insured.

(surprised) Congressman Paul, I didn’t see you there. My, it’s like we have the entire Republican Party on this train.

Paul: Nice to meet you Mitt, but I’m not a Republican. I quit the party in the 80s after Reagan spent too much, taxed too much, and borrowed too much.

Romney: Yeah, I’m not much of a Reaganite myself. I support gay rights, a woman’s right to choose, and gun control.

Bachmann: (college age, enters train car) Reelect Jimmy Carter! Reelect Jimmy Carter! Anyone want a flier?

Perry: No thank you, I’m an Al Gore man myself.

Gingrich: (talking to Perry) You know, we really do need to do something about Global Warming.

Huntsman: It really is a travesty that we have people in this country who refuse to admit that humans are responsible for Global Warming.

Cain: I just can’t believe that President Clinton put Hillary through having to deal with his affair and then lied repeatedly and emphatically about it to the American people.

Gingrich: I know; that’s why I lead the charge to impeach him in the House. That kind of misconduct and dishonesty should really disqualify someone from being President.

Voice over the intercom: We have now arrived at Boston.

Romney: This is my stop. Well Gingrich, let’s always remember to put principal before political expediency. The public appreciates candidates who have core convictions, even when they disagree with your positions. The Republican Party must always remain one that embraces reasonable solutions to the problems we face, even when they are unpopular. With your consistent leadership in the House and pragmatic governors in the states, the future for our Republican Party looks bright.

Gingrich: I couldn’t agree more, Mitt.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities:
NBC’s Fracking PR

On October 31st, 2011 NBC premiered its new weekly newsmagazine “Rock Center.” The first segment of its first show was on the economic miracle of Williston, North Dakota. The piece described the abundance of newly available good paying jobs and the good fortune of those who live and moved there. That was the dominant theme of the nine minute piece. The reason for their success? Natural Gas.

The innovative new process that allows for the mining of previously unavailable oil and natural gas was described as follows.

SMITH: And they frack it, so they pour water into this at high pressure, and the oil just comes oozing out.

Not once in the piece did they highlight a single downside to fracking. The only thing they mentioned was the jobs it brings.

In the follow up the next week Smith did point out that some animals have died as a result of drinking fracking fluid, but didn’t say that fracking poses a risk to human health. They did point out again the plentiful jobs fracking created.

The oil and gas companies have flooded cable news with ads promoting fracking as safe and mentioning the jobs it creates. Virtually none of the shows they sponsor mention the risks of fracking.

To hear NBC and the oil companies tell it, there is no risk to fracking. The process they tout bears little resemblance to the practice 60 minutes detailed.

CBS’s 60 minutes told the tale of another town’s experience with Natural Gas: Dimock, Pennsylvania. In Dimock, due to human error, Natural Gas seeped into the water supply, making it toxic, flammable, and undrinkable. Here is how one resident of Dimock described his view of fracking.

I can live without natural gas, but I can’t live without my water.

That’s my view of fracking as well. NBC completely ignored the risks of fracking while touting the jobs it has created. Their other stories were very good, but on this issue they failed to give their viewers the full picture.

One trip to Rock Center’s website makes one thing very clear. They are sponsored by Exxon Mobil.

You got that right.

Bonus Material:

Here is the interview Jon Stewart did with Josh Fox about “Gasland” an anti-fracking documentary Josh produced.

Originally Posted 11/11/11
Democracy and Human Rights
Egypt’s Moment of Transformation

[Author’s Note: My sources for this article are provided at the bottom of this editorial.]

On October 9th, a group of mostly Coptic Christians protested outside state media headquarters in Egypt. What happened next is unclear, but it ended with the police using deadly force against the protestors. Alaa Abdel Fattah, one of Egypt’s most prominent pro-democracy bloggers and activists, was among the protestors there that day. Alaa wrote about the protest in an Egyptian newspaper. Shortly thereafter, he was accused by the military of inciting violence at the protest.

This isn’t Alaa’s first time in jail. He was detained in 2006 by the Mubarack regime for his activism.

Heba Morayef, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, told PRI’s The World that he believes the current charges against Alaa are bogus and designed to silence a vocal critic of the military.

 Alaa Abdel Fattah is very significant. It’s not only that he is one of the most vocal and high-profile critics of the military. It’s also that he is one of the most active. He’s at every protest. I think the military makes very targeted choices. They believe in sending signals. You can see from their public statements and their decision in terms of who they prosecute and the laws they pass that they see information as a threat.

Alaa will be tried by a military court. The army has already tried 12,000 people in military courts since the ouster of Mubarak in February 2011. 8,000 of them are still in prison. These trials often try multiple people at once and are concluded within a day. Alaa is a member of a movement in Egypt to end military the trials of civilians.

Another blogger, Maikel Nabil was sentenced by a military court to 3 years in jail for insulting the military. Authorities have shut down television channels and programs and summoned journalists to be questioned as well.

Egypt is at a critical point in its history. Is it laying the foundation today for the values and legal framework that will guide it in the post-Mubarak era. America experienced a similar time during the Revolutionary War and the writing of our Constitution. We still debate what the founders would have wanted and how we should interpret our Constitution. That is the all important time that Egypt is in today.

That is why it is so alarming that Egypt’s military is attempting to create the precedent of the military being independent of and superior to the civil power. The interim military government has asked Egypt’s political parties to sign onto a series of constitutional principles that stipulate, among other things, that the army’s budget will be secret and that its approval would be necessary to declare war.

In Egypt’s foundational moment, its military is doing everything it can to hold on to power and silence those who disagree. These flagrant violations of civil liberties and just governance threaten to permanently derail Egypt’s transition to democracy.

That is where we come in.

The Egyptian military receives 1,900,000 dollars a year in International Military Education and Training from the United States. It also receives 1,040,000,000 dollars a year in Foreign Military Financing from the United States. In layman’s terms, Foreign Military Financing is equipment and weapons for Egypt’s military that is paid for by the United States. These two categories make up 80 percent of the foreign aid Egypt receives from the United States. Egypt is the 4th largest recipient of US foreign aid.

It is time for us to end this military aid. There are plenty of other places in the foreign aid budget that could use it, like Somali famine relief. Some will argue that we should give Egypt’s military an ultimatum and then take away the aid if it doesn’t stop interfering with the democratic process. That is a good intermediate step, but the Egyptian military won’t comply, they have too much on the line.

The US State Department’s responded to critics like myself in September.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: We are against conditionality. And I conveyed our position to the minister. We will be working very hard with the Congress to convince the Congress that that is not the best approach to take. We believe that the longstanding relationship between the United States and Egypt is of paramount importance to both of us. We support the democratic transition. And we don’t want to do anything that in any way draws into question our relationship or our support.

We also believe that the army has played a very stabilizing, important role during this period. You can see what happens when you either don’t have an institution like the institutions that Egypt has, including an army, and you’ve seen what happens when the army is not on the side of the people. Well, Egypt’s strong institutions, longstanding respect for the army and the role the army played was absolutely critical for the revolution.

To pretend that the military is supporting the democratic transition rather than actively trying to suppress it is a lie that has already been debunked at length.

The real reason we are continuing our subsidization of the Egyptian military is to keep a strategic ally in the Middle East and to protect Israel’s security. We shouldn’t keep an ally that is actively suppressing its people in a time of change. Our current relationship with the Egyptian military came into being when Sadat (The dictator before Mubarak) negotiated a peace deal with Israel. That deal has stood to this day and is the origin of our close relationship, strategically and monetarily, with Egypt. I care for Israel’s security, but it is unfair to sacrifice Egyptians’ freedoms for Israelis' security.

I don’t believe a withdrawal of US military aid to Egypt will bring it into renewed conflict with Israel. Egypt has benefited as much as Israel from an end to their animosity.   

It saddens me to say that my country has not always been on the side of democracy and human rights at home or abroad. But that should not stop us from making the right choice today. If Egypt’s military suppression of the rights of its citizens doesn’t end immediately, we must withdraw our monetary support of its military. Only then will Egypt’s people receive the democracy they deserve.


Public Radio International’s The World

Center for American Progress: Interactive Foreign Aid Map

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Move Over Jon Stewart:
Alyona brilliantly satirizes the Main Stream Media

On Halloween 2011, Alyona devoted her entire show on Russia Today to satirizing other political news shows. It was some of the best satire I have ever seen, on par with The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Saturday Night Live during election season. Alyona and her regular guests covered the news of the day by mocking how it would be covered by other shows. The episode included costumes, accents, and a fake mustache.

Her first imitation was of The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. She went on and on about the white house soup of the day as Chuck Todd is known to do. For the record, I enjoy The Daily Rundown, but to be sure, it is insider baseball.   

Second was her spot on, no mercy imitation of Erin Burnett’s CNN hit piece on Occupy Wall Street. Erin acted as if the only legitimate reason to protest Wall Street was because Congress had to spend money to bail them out, which has now been repaid. Never mind the fact that their irresponsible practices tanked the entire world economy and created a recession that we yet to have recover from. Erin Burnett’s piece was best dissected by The Listening Post at AJE. This parody and the one on Nancy Grace were my favorites.

Then came a fake GOP Debate with hilarious questions and answers. My only qualm with anything in the whole hour was the “would you rather” question for Cain from the fake debate, “Would you rather have sex with one of the women you sexually assaulted in the 1990s or one of your future victims that you have yet to sexually assault?” As of yet, there are only claims of sexual harassment against Herman Cain and as Alyona pointed out quite eloquently in the Nancy Grace parody, the press shouldn’t prematurely convict people in the minds of the public. A better wording would have been, “Would you rather have sex with one of the women who have accused you of sexual harassment or a future employee?”

This was followed by a debate breakdown. Then came her imitation of Anderson Cooper’s RidicuList. I can tell that Alyona and her staff put a lot of work into this show based on the detail and quality of their comedy.

Her show also included imitations of Nancy Grace, Bill O’Reilly, and Fox and Friends, an ad parody from the Evil Debt Collectors of America and a fake campaign ad.

I copied the video above from Russia Today’s website.

I can’t wait till April Fools’ Day!

Originally Posted November 3, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Manhattan:
Messages and Goals

On Saturday October 22, 2011, Occupy Manhattan staged a protest at Triangle Park, across the street from K-State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Occupy Manhattan is part of a larger movement that is taking place in cities across the country called Occupy Wall Street. I interviewed 7 of the group’s members to better understand their message and goals. Of the seven Occupy Manhattan activists I interviewed, three were at their first protest.

Scott Poister, the event’s organizer, told me how Occupy Manhattan got started.

It was a funny thing. A couple of weeks ago Friday, an associate, I wouldn’t say friend but he became a friend since, but at the time just a guy, started an Occupy group on facebook. The Internet is a wonderful thing. I mentioned something about making yard signs, another person said how about we just have an organization or a protest because that is more effective than making yard signs and I said fine, I’ll do it and I went to city hall and got a permit. So I got you might say double dog dared into it and that was last week; we had a wonderful turnout. Over the weekend we had over 400 members join on the facebook group. This is really nothing like last weekend, and I got stuck as the guy with the name on the permit for the park and that’s what I do.

One of the reoccurring themes of their responses was opposition to the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United that allowed corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. Natasha, age 20, expressed her support for campaign finance reform.

 I’m most interested in the issue of the corporations being able to use money as a way of making them have freedom of speech and also corporations basically bribing certain politicians in the government to advocate for them. That is my main one that I don’t like that I would like to see change.

Erin, also an Occupy Manhattan activist, highlighted another common concern, the lack of responsibility by Wall Street investment banks that caused the financial collapse of 2007-2008.

I am standing in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. The fact that we bailed out all these banks, nobody’s held responsible for what they’ve done to our economy to the world economy. They get bailed out, they get raises, they get bonuses. People continue to get under a living wage. The middle class is disappearing.

Erin also attended an Occupy event in Budapest, Hungary last week. She is also a gay rights activist and supports the President’s jobs act. She also protests Fred Phelps because, “he gives my state a bad name and I love this state.”

Barbara Bascon, who is of Social Security age, criticized how some conservatives have demonized the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I think for one thing it is a demonstration of a majority feeling, opinion, philosophy of what is happening in this country and where people want it to go. I don’t see it as a protest and although I think people are sad, angry, upset about what is happening in our culture as much as in our country, it’s not an angry brawl, it’s not a mob as some people have described it. We don’t see police involvement. We don’t see angry confrontations. We don’t see violence. It’s totally non-violent. I am surprised and happy to see people holding up signs, they’re saying what I think are good things, voicing an opinion that they have a smile on their face. And that’s encouraging to other people. It’s like we’re glad to have this kind of opportunity. This is Occupy Wall Street, so I think it is the economic situation and what corporations and big business and banks have done and are still getting away with. That was the spark, that’s what got people going, but I think it’s a much larger issue that people are beginning to speak up about.

Barbara went on to discuss her dismay at the controversial reactions of some of the audience members at the Republican presidential primary debates. The first reaction was when large numbers of the audience at the NBC Presidential debate cheered the number of executions that occurred in Texas under Perry’s governorship. The second occurred at a CNN debate where a few people cheered on the prospect of a person not being treated in an emergency room because he didn’t buy health insurance. The final reaction occurred when members of the audience at a Fox News presidential debate booed a gay soldier in Iraq who asked the candidates if they would reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Barbara found these reactions troubling.

Barbara: I don’t think it’s the economy stupid, I think it’s the culture stupid. I think that when we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve lost the human touch. I think we’ve abdicated our responsibility to our fellow citizens and fellow man, however you want to put it. When we stand up and cheer about people dying, when we endorse and encourage capital punishment, openly we get off on it, and what was… there was a third one.

Me: The gay soldier in Iraq

Barbara: That’s right. That’s just incredible to me. As much as I have heard in the past few years, I am still shocked when I see people. It’s more than just indifference. They really are cheering that mentality on and that makes it more than just a political issue, that makes it a really dangerous situation in our country.

 Lowell Bliss, 49, is concerned about poverty and environmental issues. Lowell and his wife are members of an evangelical church in Manhattan and were missionaries in India and Pakistan for 14 years. He believes that the Occupy movement better represents the message of Christ than traditional evangelical political outlets.

I am just convinced that the message of Christ is more likely to get a voice in Occupy Manhattan than it will in say the Values Voter Summit or what have been kind of traditional evangelical political outlets. I tried to make my signs kind of biblically based. “What you do to the least of these,” refers to the poor and the environmentally oppressed and the unemployed and the foreclosed upon. And “love thy corporation” is a question, right? Where is the neighborliness and the love in how we’ve supported and protected our corporations but not people or the poor or the oppressed?

Stephanie Haliman Durban, 28, protested the lack of adequate student aid in higher education.

I’m a veterinary student here at K-State and I’m an out of state student, so I’m very happy to be here of course, but my student loans are quite atrocious. Just for tuition it’s about 45,000 a year and our projected starting salary is much lower than most people would think for a doctor. It’s about 63,000 a year. So in order to pay our school loans we’d be using up more than 50% of our take-home income, which is not what most financial advisors recommend. There is a lot of that. At the same time the government is saying that we need a lot of food animal veterinaries, which is what I want to do. But they’re also cutting the amount of loan forgiveness programs down to something small like 10 or 20,000 a year for the first two years that you work at a government job. So there isn’t a whole lot of support for us. And I know that money is going places where it probably isn’t as needed. That’s one of my big concerns.  

Two of the protestors at the rally were protesting the Federal Reserve. Chris Larson and Danelle Russell were not part of the Occupy movement and protested for the first time at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City a few weeks ago. Chris believes that monetary policy should be set by Congress rather than the Federal Reserve. Chris explained why he opposes the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve System has a very large influence on politics and the economy in this country because they are a private corporation that is not held accountable. They’re not elected representatives, they can’t be held accountable. It’s not like we can through them out of office or something like that and they control our monetary system. So they can control the money supply, they can pretty much create the business cycle because they can create bubbles by increasing the money supply and decreasing it. So they have a huge influence on the financial system.

Occupy Wall Street, like the protest movements that came before it, is exercising the most basic and essential democratic right, the right to speak one’s mind. In the broadest sense, they aim to shape the national political conversation in this country and to promote awareness of the problems our country faces. And while it is uncertain what the ultimate outcome of this movement will be, it is clear that they have already achieved that goal.  

Originally Published October 27, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

View by Content 2

Factchecking Politicians and Activists
                Governor’s Debate Factcheck
                Orin Hatch Fact-Check
                Voter Fraud: Exaggerations and Consequences

Media Factchecks
                Harry Reid joins a Republican Filibuster
                The Deficit: A History Lesson
                Factchecking the Peacock
                Adam v. Journalistic Integrity
                Republicans and the Debt Ceiling
                George Will Misleads on the Stimulus

                Balancing the Budget: A Primer
                Iraq: Why we must leave
                Afghanistan: Why we cannot stay through 2014
                The Debt Ceiling Deal is a Disaster

Media Praise
                NPR: Excellence in Journalism
                Jon Stewart’s Epic Takedown of Fox Business
                Dedication and Detail: The Rachel Maddow Show
                Rachel Maddow explains job-killing spending cuts
                Bias, Not Malpractice

                Where do People Turn for News?
                Where do People Turn for News? May Update


Debate Commentary
                The Fox News Presidential Debate
                The CNN Presidential Debate
                The NBC-Politico Debate

Debate Factchecks
                Factchecking the CNN Presidential Debate
                Factchecking the NBC-Politico Debate

Hard-News Articles
                The Kansas Budget
                Fun Facts about the Kansas Budget