Tag Archives | Politics

Citizens United, Explained With Dogs

It is an antiquated rule banning cameras from the Supreme Court, when they are public proceedings affecting all Americans. John Oliver was right to challenge this seclusion from the public eye on his recent episode of Last Week Tonight when he had no choice but to dramatize courtroom proceedings with a bench of jurist dogs. Clearly a better means of public information is necessary for the highest court in the land.

Until then, here is a case that is often mentioned, though is still not clear to all: Citizens United vs. FEC, which said that corporations have the right to spend unlimited outside money in elections. Working with interviews compiled for my documentary exploring the Citizens United decision, PAY 2 PLAY, I have re-mixed the footage to include the Supreme Court of Canines.

This election cycle shows that the impacts of Citizens United are no laughing matter, with more anonymous money flowing through our elections than ever.

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“Pay 2 Play” — A Disinfo Election Event

DON’T MISS THIS SPECIAL DISINFO ELECTION EVENT!

At 12:01am on November 1st, Disinformation will release John Ennis’ acclaimed film Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes on our VOD platform. Timed to the upcoming mid-term elections, Pay 2 Play may very well change the way you perceive America’s election process and the way you vote.

Watch the trailer, bookmark the location right HERE on Disinfo.com, and set aside the time on your calendar. Even if you’ve never watched a Disinfo documentary before, be sure not to miss Pay 2 Play.P2PStills101

If you give a shit at all about the political process in the US, this is a very important film to watch. You’ll be able to stream the film for only $4 or download for $10.

“A must-watch film!” — DAILY KOS

“Follows politicians, lobbyists and activists, taking you through a roller coaster of controversy.” — ABC7 Eyewitness News

“A masterpiece… The talking points in this film are bladed lasers.” — OpEd News Review

Pay 2 Play vividly tells the story of the threat posed to our political process by big money interests and what we can do to fight back to defend our Republic.

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The British-American coup that ended Australian independence

Prime minister Gough Whitlam watches ACTU president Bob Hawke drink beer from a yard glass Melbourne, Australia, 1972. Photograph: News Ltd/Newspix/REX

Prime minister Gough Whitlam watches ACTU president Bob Hawke drink beer from a yard glass Melbourne, Australia, 1972. Photograph: News Ltd/Newspix/REX

via The Guardian:

Across the media and political establishment in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam. His achievements are recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.

Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had “reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution”. Whitlam ended his nation’s colonial servility. He abolished royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported “zones of peace” and opposed nuclear weapons testing.

Although not regarded as on the left of the Labor party, Whitlam was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety.

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Political Polarization & Media Habits

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Do you listen to NPR or watch the Colbert Report? You may be more liberal than the folks who watch MSNBC. Do you read “The Blaze”? You may be more conservative than those who watch Fox News.

via Pew Research:

When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust. And whether discussing politics online or with friends, they are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

The project – part of a year-long effort to shed light on political polarization in America – looks at the ways people get information about government and politics in three different settings: the news media, social media and the way people talk about politics with friends and family. In all three areas, the study finds that those with the most consistent ideological views on the left and right have information streams that are distinct from those of individuals with more mixed political views – and very distinct from each other.

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What do Occupy and the Tea Party have in Common? More than you Might Think.

In an article entitled “The Six Principles of the New Populism (and the Establishment’s Nightmare)” Robert Reich outlines six points of agreement between “Occupy” leftists and the “Tea Party” right:

[Editor’s note: We only took the first few sentences of each point, follow the link to read the entire article.]

1. Cut the biggest Wall Street banks down to a size where they’re no longer too big to fail. Left populists have been advocating this since the Street’s bailout now they’re being joined by populists on the right.

2. Resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking and thereby preventing companies from gambling with their depositors’ money. Elizabeth Warren has introduced such legislation, and John McCain co-sponsored it. Tea Partiers are strongly supportive, and critical of establishment Republicans for not getting behind it.

3. End corporate welfare – including subsidies to big oil, big agribusiness, big pharma, Wall Street, and the Ex-Im Bank.… Read the rest

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How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties

Anthony Kennedy official SCOTUS portrait crop.jpg

Justice Kennedy, the author of the Supreme Court’s ‘Citizens United’ opinion.

Pay 2 Play politics has been the name of the electoral game in America since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Jim Rutenberg has a great essay in the New York Times Magazine showing just how bad things have become:

…Before 2002, parties could accept unlimited donations from individuals or groups (corporations, labor unions, etc.) so long as they devoted the funds — so-called “soft money” — to the amorphous act of “party building.” The McCain-Feingold law, as it came to be known, banned soft-money contributions, and it also prohibited political groups that operate outside the regulated system and its donation limits — like the Wylys and their Republicans for Clean Air — from running “issue ads” that appear to help or hurt a candidate close to an election. It implemented tough fines and even prison terms for those who illegally coordinated with the official campaigns.

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Pursuing Justice Through Filmmaking, Why we Create Beauty, Hot Dog Related Altercations

Via Midwest Real

Filmmakers Spencer Chumbley and Erik Ljung have shot for organizations like VICE and Al Jazeera. I caught up with the guys just before they debuted their film, The Death of Cory Stingley a the Milwaukee Film Festival. 

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Humans make things, we always have. But, we don’t just make, we create beauty. We pay attention to symmetry, form and detail. Why is that? Darwinian theory says it’s simply a form of “peacocking.” More specifically, our creative predispositions are merely “fitness signals.” For example, if you write a novel, create a moving peace of art, or compose a great song, it’s just a uniquely human way of showing off your intellect in hopes of attracting a mate, like a peacock with it’s innately douchey bouquet of feathers.

I fucking hate this idea.  

But, let’s be fair. It’s totally undeniable that ego and social elevation are often intertwined with creative accomplishments.Read the rest

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An Open Letter to My Democratic Spammer

Campaign signs, Santa Ana, 1926 by Orange County Archives via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

Campaign signs, Santa Ana, 1926 by Orange County Archives via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

Writing and covering politics, I pretty much end up on everyone’s campaign fundraising list during election season. No one ever asks, one day I simply get a new email that sounds similar to every other email screaming about how if no one donates money now the Koch brothers will own us forever or just a little more dough will make a huge difference to the campaign and “don’t you want to see real change in (insert city/state/country)?”

Sorry guys, just because I covered the time you showed up to a march somewhere or said something mildly interesting that had more substance than a 20 second talking point once doesn’t mean I want to open my barren wallet and give you the dust, lint and crumpled business cards inside. Forget about money, I’d much rather eat tonight and your fundraising dinner with the bag boiled vegetables and bland chicken is worth less than the frozen pizza in the back of the ice cabinet at the liquor store I’m surviving on.… Read the rest

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The Pay 2 Play Board Game, More Realistic Than Monopoly!

pay2play_DVD_CASE smallIn order to face any of our mounting problems, we need leaders who will listen to We The People, not just We The Wealthiest People. I set out to make a documentary about the obstacles to elected office, in hopes of encouraging reform and inspiring future candidates. I also wanted to present this in a way that could be fun, rather than depress the living crap out of folks.

Something about the game Monopoly seemed like the right metaphor for our priced-out political process–perhaps because the player with the most money wins, just like in almost all elections. But upon discovering its true origins as an educational folk game taken over by a corporation, I realized how appropriate Monopoly really is as a symbol for the corporate takeover of our democracy.

The original idea was to show all the hoops a candidate would have to go through running for office, like pointers for campaign reform.… Read the rest

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