Common Sense & An Open Mind

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    "You must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision." T. Jefferson

Archive for the ‘Media bias’ Category

New bill suspends passports of delinquent taxpayers

Posted by Free to Think on April 5, 2012

A bill that could allow the federal government to prevent Americans who owe back taxes from traveling outside the U.S. is one step closer to becoming law.

Slipped into Senate Bill 1813, a Democratic-based bill to “reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs, and for other purposes,” this legislation also includes a provision that would allow for the “revocation or denial” of a passport for anyone with “certain unpaid taxes” or “tax delinquencies.”

The story does not appear to be covered on the national level by any mainstream news organization. But yesterday a Los Angeles CBS station reported that the bill, sponsored by local LA Senator Barbara Boxer, doesn’t appear to have “any specific language requiring a taxpayer to be charged with tax evasion or any other crime in order to have their passport revoked or limited — only that a notice of lien or levy has been filed by the IRS.”

After clearing the Senate on a 74 – 22 vote on March 14, SB 1813 is now headed for a vote in the House of Representatives, where it’s expected to encounter stiffer opposition among the GOP majority.

As I discussed in yesterday’s blog, rarely are stories about legislation that increases the power of our government found in the mainstream press. But I’ve found several, including the story below, from Prison Planet, a website that I’d highly recommend you add to your bookmarks.

Posted in constitutional rights, curtailing freedom, Detrimental policies, Intrusive government, Media bias | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Being manipulated by the media

Posted by Free to Think on April 4, 2012

It’s obvious that it’s in the government’s best interest to invoke the support of the people when pursuing war. The last thing the federal government wants is public uprising and dissent getting in the way of a well-laid war agenda.

History has proven that government has had little problem acquiring the cooperation of the mass media to advance their propaganda. This is not speculation but fact. Here’s one video that provides just a few well-documented examples of how a sometimes docile, sometimes wantonly deceptive press has advanced false information provided by government.

In a nation where nearly all mass media is controlled by just a few large corporations, how we can search for the truth?

This year it was revealed that the U.S. government is creating fake social media accounts to help steer public opinion on popular websites. Where is the mainstream media’s coverage of this important story?

As disheartening as this is, we must continue to search for the truth. The wide choice of online sources at our fingertips gives us the freedom to explore and seek out websites that we trust. Unlike most major media sites, on many independent websites you can check source documentation with just a click of a hyperlink.

Want to read about bills being proposed without the editorializing of media-selected ‘pundits’? At PopVox you can search on bills by issue, find information on recently introduced legislation in a non-partisan format, learn exactly which legislators and organizations are supporting the bills, and read the opinions of others on both sides of the argument.

My favorite website? Reason.com, As they describe on their ‘About’ page, “Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity.”

See the Blogroll on the right side of my webpage for other sites I respect.

This is just one reason why it’s vital to protect Internet freedom from the controls of SOPA or any other government regulation.

You have the means to think for yourself. Question what you’re told. Do your due diligence before coming to conclusions.

Posted in Media bias, military, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Power of the People

Posted by Free to Think on January 23, 2012

Typically my blog posts are full of doom and gloom, but this week I’m happy to comment on good news: the American public stood up for their rights and actually won.

The Senate’s Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) were introduced as a way to thwart intellectual property theft and sales of counterfeit products online. But opposition from Internet-based companies and their users argued that the bill would lead to over-regulation and censorship. An excellent short video describing how these laws could curtail freedom can be seen here.

On January 18th, 13 million of us took the time to tell Congress that we wanted to protect free speech rights on the Internet. In fact, so many voters bombarded their senators and congressmen with so many protest messages that it temporarily knocked out some representatives websites.  Petition drives abounded, such as the one by Google which attracted more than 7 million participants.

The power of the Internet has given us opportunities to rally together like we never have before. And finally, Americans seized the chance. On Friday the bills, which were being fast-tracked through Congress, were indefinitely shelved.

The bills had been backed by the entertainment industry and also initially by Congress. Only 5 senators opposed the bill the week it was introduced. Then the protests began. Within a week 35 senators publicly opposed PIPA.

Ron Paul denounced SOPA from its inception, the first Republican congressman to oppose it. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were silent on the issue until after the massive public protests. Rick Santorum remained the only Republican presidential candidate to defend some form of the bills during Thursday night’s Republican debate in South Carolina.

Last week, incensed Hollywood executives cancelled Obama fundraisers when the President also sided against the legislation.

Former Connecticut senator Chris Dodd is now Chairman of MPAA, the movie studio lobby that crafted these bills. He told the New York Times that passage of PIPA and SOPA had been “considered to be a slam-dunk.” The bills were backed by over 350 large, powerful corporations and organizations. Comparing the protests to the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising, Mr. Dodd said he was humbled to learn that “no Washington player can safely assume that a well-wired, heavily financed legislative program is safe from a sudden burst of Web-driven populism.”

I must admit that when I went to Wikipedia last Thursday only to find it blacked out in protest, it was quite a powerful statement. A sampling of some of the best website protests can be seen here.

“It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman and SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith.

Hurray, the people made their wishes known! Yes Mr. Chairman, we’d like the government to address the problem of piracy without claiming the right to completely choke off the traffic, free speech and revenue of entire web sites without ever having to try or convict its owners of any crime. Even without these expanded powers, sites have already been wrongfully shuttered by the government.

Copyright owners do need to be able to go after piracy sites, and they already have some mechanisms at their disposal. But these industries have concocted some truly absurd statistics purporting apocalyptic damages that require draconian measures, while in fact these businesses remain very healthy.

SOPA and PIPA will likely return in some form, as the bills were not killed, just postponed.

The SOPA/ PIPA protest was one of the biggest populist movements in America since the Vietnam War, engaging millions of Americans to rally against governmental policy that could substantially change the way we live. Yet there was relatively scant coverage of the movement in the major mass media. Last week, news organizations seemed to find the Italian cruise ship disaster, which killed 12 people on the other side of the globe, much more newsworthy. It should be noted that these media outlets are owned by the same corporations that sponsored these bills.

Americans have proven that the right to gather information and communicate on the web freely is very important to us. Now if only the public would get equally up in arms about the national debt and government detention laws!

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Posted in constitutional rights, Detrimental policies, Freedom of Speech, Intrusive government, Media bias, obama, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who is Ron Paul, part 2

Posted by Free to Think on November 29, 2011

I read an AP article by Mike Glover entitled “Republican field crowded and likely to remain so” on Yahoo News this weekend. You may have seen it in another online news site, or in one of many newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, the Denver Post or the Boston Herald, where it had been reprinted.

These days most media outlets rarely publish their own national news stories; it’s cheaper and easier to regurgitate Associated Press releases than to hire their own reporters to write original pieces. So in today’s “information age,” many of us rely on just a few powerful voices to interpret the news for us.

What did we learn from Mr. Glover’s article? There are a lot of Republican presidential hopefuls besides frontrunners Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain.

Mr. Glover devotes the first three paragraphs of his article to “second tier” candidate Rick Santorum. He then devotes two paragraphs apiece to Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry. Twelve paragraphs into the article, Glover speculates that “also-ran” candidates (his term) may not expect to win, but could use the publicity for book deals or just to help them retain political power.

It’s only then that Glover dedicates a single line to Rep. Ron Paul: “Rep. Ron Paul’s hard-core libertarian views energize a small but loyal base.”

This article is at best misleading, at worst blatantly and purposefully deceptive.

1)      In poll after poll of Republican voters, Paul has actually come in ahead of proclaimed “top tier” candidate Herman Cain, and on several occasions has come in second, just after Romney.

2)      Can the term ‘hard-core libertarian views’ fit the definition of objective news reporting?

So what are a few of Ron Paul’s views? A sampling:

Bring government spending to a responsible level

End our wars and bring our troops home

Audit the Federal Reserve

End corporate influence

Stop corporate bailouts

Enforce Constitutional restraints on big government

Promote personal liberty

As I’ve pointed out in an earlier post, this shunning of Rep. Ron Paul is nothing new. But it’s frightening. I sent an email to Mike Glover himself yesterday, politely asking him for an explanation as to why, given the poll results, he chose to cover the story as he did. Let’s see if I hear anything from him.

Posted in Media bias, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Who is Ron Paul?

Posted by Free to Think on November 11, 2011

My dear Common Sense followers,

Five months ago I walked away from my blog, feeling disheartened and hopeless.

The more I researched, the more evidence I found that our country is shifting at an exponential pace from its foundations. Not only have checks, balances, inalienable rights, and constitutional, limited government become things of the past, but so have public concern and the objective, watchful eye of the free press. I began to feel that expressing a critical view was simply futile.

I admit I don’t have the time or heart to continue producing the in-depth posts I have in the past. At least not consistently enough to fill a blog. But I am still reading and learning. I hope that more and more people begin to understand some of the causes of the crises that our nation is now facing. Problems are coming to a head, and one can only hope there’s a positive side to that. When things are relatively good, it’s easy to be complacent about irresponsible government spending, trampling of personal rights and unconstitutional laws.

I’d like to do my part by using this venue to pass along some pieces worth thinking about. I’ll start with the wisdom of Jon Stewart.

To me, a very pressing and troubling issue  is the media’s determination to shun Republican candidate Ron Paul, the only person running for President who has something unique to say. While our Titanic of a nation sinks, every other politician is busy declaring how they’d rearrange the deck chairs, while Paul has spelled out exactly how he’d plug up the hole.

Last week Paul came in first in the Illinois straw poll. In fact, he won 52% of the vote, more than Romney, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Bachman, Huntsman and Santorum combined. Wow, big news? Hardly. Paul’s notable victory was promptly buried by the mainstream press. Meanwhile there’s been a plethora of airtime about Herman Cain’s irrelevant personal debacles. The obvious and intentional snubbing of Ron Paul by the media was well summed up in a hilarious piece by Jon Stewart back in August.

In addition to the silence of the press on his grassroots campaign, Ron Paul’s airtime during the Republican debates have been glaringly inequitable. One blogger went to the trouble of doing the math for one of the debates and found that Paul was 8th in speaking opportunities, though at the time he was 3rd in the polls (were you aware that he was third in the polls?) Yet, as evidenced by the Illinois survey, Ron Paul’s popularity has continued to grow.

Whether or not you like Ron Paul’s message, a burning issue is why the press has gone from purveyors of the truth to outlets for their own personal agendas.

In a side note: it has been so long since I last wrote that I didn’t remember what my last post was about. It was interesting to see that it was an argument against sending American troops into Libya. I was disputing the position that the Libyan people needed us to intervene in their civil war to escape being crushed by government-backed forces.  As it turns out, the Libyan people were able to oust strongman Moammar Qaddafi in short order without the help of a U.S. ground war. This averted the deaths of American servicemen and likely saved our nation hundreds of millions of dollars. But perhaps most importantly, by limiting America’s role in another nation’s conflict there will be less potential for our enemies’ animosity: Qaddafi was killed by his own people, not by an”invading U.S. force.”

I apologize for disappearing.  I hope you’ll continue to be a loyal reader.

Posted in Debt, election, Freedom of Speech, Libya, Media bias, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »