General

The Rise of Digital On Demand Media

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This morning I was a mentor. This afternoon, a boss. Later, after lunch, an employee which, in turn, allowed for me to provide for my family. Let’s not forget this evening when I opened my books and was a student.

If this were my life a decade ago I would quite easily forget, or neglect, my right to know what was going on around me in my community, my state, my nation, and my world. The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, The NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, or CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight and Anderson Cooper 360º would have just past me by without notice.

Today, with the revolution of online media and digital forms of journalism it allows for any multi-tasking individual with ADD, such as myself, to stay current with events happening around the world, or just down the street. The depth that I want to consume myself in the information depends solely on how much time I have in between appointments. I tell Anderson Cooper when he can and cannot speak.

Getting information about current events through internet sources has given me the opportunity to stay informed on the go. Corporate news networks on television dictate when you can listen and they have the same tone and message with slightly different undertones and agendas to appeal to a certain demographic, but still manage to deliver the same generic stories.

Who Has The Party Delegates?

What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.

During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.

Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.

Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

An Obsequious Court to the People

“Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.” - Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 1

During my lifetime, in virtually every election in my recollection the party out of power has banged the drum of urgency and declared that “This may be the most important election in our lifetimes”. The rallying cry is meant to instill a sense of foreboding into the partisan faithful, to energize the base so that they will be willing financial contributors and foot-soldiers for the party leadership. For those that follow politics closely and study history, at some point there comes a bit of “Boy Who Cried Wolf” apathy to the process. Sometimes our team wins, and sometimes we lose. Win we win, we are always disappointed that we are not able to get more of our agenda through. When we lose, it may be bad, but usually not nearly as dire as the prophets of doom predicted.

In 2008 a young, charismatic black man stunned the political old-timers by defeating the vaunted Clinton machine for the presidential nomination for the Democrat Party. In Barack Obama, black Americans saw the fulfillment, or at least a gigantic leap towards it, of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. Obama, riding a wave of optimism with his oft-repeated mantra of “Hope and Change”, garnered the vote of 96% of black voters, and nearly half of the white vote. This was a stunning success considering that a large percentage of the white vote would not have voted for a Democrat regardless of skin color.

What is Truth?

What is truth? As I’ve been involved in conversations or debates about various issues of late, that is a question that has pressed upon my mind. Is truth objective or subjective? Is it influenced by our beliefs or does it exist independently of the thoughts of mankind? Do we each get to choose our own truth, to make “our” truth be whatever we want it to be?

No. Truth is not subjective, it is eternal and unchanging. It is not influenced by whether we believe in it or not. Gravity is an eternal truth, a physical law that exists independent of our belief in it. If you step off a 10-story building, barring a supernatural command of the laws of physics, the sudden stop at the bottom will be very unpleasant and very painful. The tree falling in the forest does make a sound, regardless of whether anyone hears it.

I believe, but cannot empirically prove, that God exists, and that he is intimately aware of our lives. I have been openly mocked and spoken to derisively over the last few months for putting that belief in writing. My belief in God is based upon faith, but not on blind faith. My belief is based upon what I see in the world around me, in the complex structure of living things which cannot be explained by Darwinian microevolution. These things lead me to believe in a Creator, as opposed to a belief in a cosmic lottery in which we “lucked out” and were formed by an infinite string of improbable events. Believers can’t prove it, nor can non-believers disprove it. I guess each of us will find out for sure once we reach the end of our mortal existence.

There is No Police Like Holmes: Sherlock Holmes, Libertarian Hero.

Free Market Justice by Gaslight.

It is axiomatic that whatever the state can do the private sector can do better, and this lesson is rarely illustrated better in literature than in the stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  As it was said by Doyle’s brother-in-law E.W. Hornung, there is no police like Holmes.  With the new Sherlock Holmes movie set to be released on Christmas day, we will no doubt see a resurgence of interest in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, movies and television programs.  Viewers and fans would do well to note the prevalent anti-state themes that course through these stories like the famous cocaine through the veins of Holmes himself.

The relationship between Holmes and the official London police force showed the marked contrast between a skilled master and a team of public investigators usually barely maintaining the status quo at least a few steps behind the criminals.  Scotland Yard reeked of a smug incompetence that amused Holmes, even as he gave them the credit in most cases.  They were frequently on the wrong path, lecturing Holmes about him wasting time chasing his fancy theories which ended up being correct.  While Inspector Lestrade and the rest were so easily duped by the scheming criminals, Holmes did what the police should have done, what they were getting paid tax payer money to do.  In “The Case of the Red Circle” we even see that a constable on duty at a murder scene is easily manipulated by a housewife.  Like so many other instances in real life, the private market yielded results where the public option brought errors, gridlock and confusion.

Fewer Americans Are Relocating: What Does That Mean?

In an essay for Newsweek, writer Joel Kotkin contemplates the significance of Americans moving at the lowest rate since the 1940s. Deeming this phenomenon “new localism,” Kotkin argues that communities are growing stronger, with a new focus on families and local businesses as a result of economic crunches.

Kotkin describes the thriving local businesses in Long Island, where customers are “spilling into the streets.” The described scene reminds me of Alameda, California, where hordes of very young families are seen taking their children to ice cream, Mexican food and the movies at the recently renovated Alameda Theatre. A similar scene is present in Oakland’s Lake Merrit district, where I saw myriad families lined up at the Grand Lake Theatre to see Where the Wild Things Are.

These sort of family-centric towncentres are vastly preferable to the bohemian anarchy of major cities like San Francisco or the soulless industrialization of suburbia. However, some of the causes Kotkin attributes are very undesirable:

Family, as one Pew researcher notes, “trumps money when people make decisions about where to live.” Interdependence is replacing independence. More parents are helping their children financially well into their 30s and 40s; the numbers of “boomerang kids” moving back home with their parents, has also been growing as job options and the ability to buy houses has decreased for the young. Recent surveys of the emerging millennial generation suggest this family-centric focus will last well into the coming decades.

Garafalo, Beck and the Art of Mind Reading

Editor’s note: Please welcome Eric Von Haessler to United Liberty. Eric is a radio broadcaster (part of the of The Regular Guys), based out of Atlanta. He’ll be posting here as he can find time.

When I was a kid I always looked forward to the next television appearance of a guy known as The Amazing Kreskin. Kreskin called himself a mentalist and would demonstrate his ability to read minds by surprising members of the studio audience with his knowledge about what they were thinking right then and there. He ended every demonstration with a great gimmick. The host of the show would hide Kreskin’s paycheck somewhere on the set and the mentalist didn’t get paid for the appearance unless he found it before the end of the segment.

My enjoyment of this act was tempered by maturity. As I got older it became obvious to me that it was impossible for one person to read another person’s mind. My favorite TV mentalist was certainly entertaining but it was a parlor trick. I didn’t have to know exactly how he created the illusion- it was enough to know that no one can read minds. Therefore Kreskin cannot read minds. That epiphany from my young adult years strangely applies and helps to navigate me through the chronic Red state/Blue state bickering that now passes for debate in America.

If every passionate member on the Left and Right would take the time to remind themselves of their inability to read minds we’d be spared this endless cycle of faux-argument followed by faux-outrage. You know the drill. First a famous or semi-famous person makes a specious claim about the country, the administration, or whatever- then members of the opposite ideology begin the public handwringing and name calling that leads to an eventual boycott of something somewhere.

If it isn’t Sean Penn and Michael Moore raising hackles on the Right, it’s Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck poking at the Left. The brain dead Kabuki rolls ever onward and both sides turn out to be fueled by the same mistaken assumption. The idea that it’s possible for one person to read another person’s mind lurks at the bottom of the entire national discussion.

While perusing the morning headlines today I was greeted with the latest example of false debate from actress Janeane Garafalo. Ms. Garafalo, a well-known hater of all things right wing and Republican is now calling the Tea Party protestors ‘functionally retarded.’ She then adds that anyone of these functional retards that shows up at a rally or Town Hall meeting and shouts, “I want my country back” is just speaking in code. What they really mean is, “I want my white guy back”- presumably because they can’t handle the reality of dealing with a black president.

So how is she able to pick up on and decipher this right wing code? Well it’s obvious. She can read minds. No matter how much you natter on about the Constitution and free-market capitalism Janeane will not be fooled. She’s in your head. She knows what you are really thinking. It would be comforting to think she is alone in her mind reading quackery but it turns out to be a crowded field.

Garafalo’s latest gamma-burst of stupidity is only a parry to comments made by TV/radio host Glenn Beck about the President a few weeks ago. While opining on the whole Obama/Harvard Professor/Police Officer fiasco Mr. Beck couldn’t contain him self to commentary on the President’s actions alone. In order to round out his argument he made the claim that the President was in fact, a racist. He then went on to speculate about what might cause this deep-seated hatred of white people that lay at the core of Obama’s identity. Has the President ever expressed this hatred in a speech or interview? No. But he doesn’t need to do that. Glenn Beck can read minds and he knows what the President is really thinking.

Examples abound:

-Members of the Left just ‘know’ the war in Iraq was all about profits for the two oil men who occupied the White House at the time. Neither Bush nor Cheney claimed such a goal but the Left knows what they were really thinking.

-Many of my friends on the Right insist that Barack Obama hates the country and is engaged on a mission of sabotage in an act of personal revenge. President Obama has never articulated this as an item on his agenda but the Right knows what he’s really thinking.

Enough already. Speculation about the mindset of another may be a fun game to play but it has no place in the assessment of truth. The only proper way to judge a politician or anyone is to compare words and action. If a promise is made and broken, or a claim is found to be wanting, it is proper to draw conclusions about the veracity or competency of that person based on the evidence.  But this judgment gives you zero insight into the mind of the person you’ve just passed judgment upon. It can’t provide that insight because you don’t have the ability to read minds.

Give credit to The Amazing Kreskin. At least he understood how to entertain with claims of clairvoyance.  The white noise of constant outrage emanating from both the Left and Right is driving many of us to simply tune out.

If Glenn Beck and Janeane Garafalo continue to insist upon revealing the inner dialogue of their political enemies, we should demand a better show. Can you imagine the spectacle of Garafalo and Beck tearing apart the Fox News and MSNBC studios in search of their next paycheck? Now- That’s Entertainment!

Bush: Worst Ever or Just Misunderstood?

Telegraph has an article up that serves as a wrap-up analysis of the Bush presidency on the eve of his departure. There was one paragraph that really stood out:

Peter Feaver, who served as special adviser for strategic planning on Bush’s White House National Security Council, agrees: “He’s had a once-in-a-century natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, a once in a history of the Republic terrorist attack and he’s had a once-in-a-century financial crisis. Any one of those would be a pivotal moment. To have three is extraordinary.”

World Government and The Consent of the Governed

An interesting commentary entitled “And now for a world government” appears on Gideon Rachman’s blog on the web site of the Financial Times in London. He begins by saying:

“I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the U.S. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana. But, for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible.”

Icelanders Storm Central Bank

Anti-government and bank rage reached a boiling point Monday in the small island nation of Iceland, where residents have seen unemployment and inflation skyrocket following the fall collapse of the Icelandic banking system. Iceland, a nation recently prided as a great example of the “Scandanavian Model” of a prosperous welfare system, has in a matter of months been transformed into the least politically and ecnomically stable nation in Europe. The International Herald Tribune reports below-


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