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Archive for June 2012

Lindsay Lohan for Congress? Why we should vote for her

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The strikingly beautiful young woman — she will turn 26 years old on July 2 — approaches the podium with its waiting forest of microphones. Her hair, reddish blonde and flowing well below her shoulders, is caught briefly in a gust of wind as she walks to the front of the press corps on the granite steps of the state capitol. Eight fluted Corinthian columns line the portico behind her. She is, surprisingly, modestly and professionally dressed in a tasteful navy pants suit. For a moment, as she stands at the lectern, only the clicking of cameras is heard.

Good morning, everyone. My name is Lindsay Lohan, and today I am announcing my candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from my district.

Brief silence, followed by peals of laughter. Whispers of “Is this a movie promo?” drift through the throng. Lohan waits patiently, quietly, proudly for the laughter to subside.

Laugh if you wish, my fellow Americans. But I can win this race. I’m smarter than you know, and I can raise money. And if my opponent — opponents, actually; I’ll be running against the corporations funding my opponent through super PACs — wants to plaster my recent past into negative ads, I’ll bring up his and his pals’ dismal ethical performances in the House.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Defense spending: How much is enough? Who decides? How?

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The preamble to the American Constitution requires that government “provide for the common defence.” I would hope that no American would wish this country to be inadequately prepared to fend off threats to the survival of the Republic.

But what is adequate? Where is the substantive, deliberative debate on how to define adequacy of American military power?

Our two principal presidential candidates, challenger Mitt Romney and incumbent Barack Obama, have differing views on the current adequacy of the nation’s defense capability. Speeches and extemporaneous rhetoric aside, neither of their official, eponymous campaign websites clearly define such adequacy or how they’d reach it.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Newspaper ownership shifting, says Pew; better days ahead? Nope.

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Those grad students in the business of writing dissertations about media and newspapers now have an old topic with a new twist: Who owns the media now? Critic Ben Bagdikian, author of six editions of “The Media Monopoly,” traced ownership of America’s media through decades of consolidation. In a PBS interview at the end of the last century, he said:

[T]he media is increasingly owned by a few very large multinational corporations. By the media, newspapers, magazines, books, movies, television and radio. This is growing.

And the consequence of this?

[T]hat means that inevitably people who have such power see the world in a particular way. And when they have dominance, as with candy manufacturers and automobile manufacturers, the less competition there is, the more control they have on … price and quality. In cases of the media and when we’re talking about the news, price is one thing, quality means how much and what kind of news will you give. And what we’re seeing in the media now is a decrease in hard reporting as a proportion of the whole …

In the various editions of his book, he said that a half dozen, maybe a dozen massive conglomerates control the bulk of media content in the United States. Is that still the case? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tell pols to step up: Time to invest in fixing infrastructure woes

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We have failed to invest.

That phrase should haunt elected and appointed officials in state and federal governments — especially those who made decisions based on political ideology rather than common sense and the needs of the electorate.

The latest utterance of this phrase came from James E. Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. As Colorado fights an extraordinary wildfire west of Fort Collins, the national census of airtankers available to drop fire retardant stands at nine aircraft, down from 44 planes a decade ago. These nine tankers, report Jack Healy and Matt Wald of The New York Times, are “ancient planes … hobbled by accidents and mechanical problems, leading to growing safety concerns and calls for a major overhaul.”

Replacement of task-specific aircraft would run to at least $30 million each — a fleet of 100 firefighting aircraft would cost $3 billion. And they are surely and sorely needed.

We have failed to invest.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 22, 2012 at 10:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The gray lady climbs into bed with Buzzfeed: Can you say ‘cultural difference’?

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As I write this, here are the top stories, in order, at Buzzfeed:

What’s The Last Wikipedia Page You Visited?
Two Different Kinds Of Baby Sloths Hug It Out
Solid Life Goal
14 Kids Getting Terrified By “Legends Of The Hidden Temple” Guards
How Do You Get Rid Of Hiccups?

And here are the top five at the august New York Times:

Pakistani Court Ousts Premier, Escalating Political Fight
Even the Employed Suffer as Hours and Wages Are Cut
Lingering Fears on Euro Push Spanish Borrowing Costs Up
American Children Struggle to Adjust to Life in Mexico
G.O.P. Reacts to Immigration Shift

Bit of a difference, eh? Now here’s the lede from an NYTCo press release:

The New York Times and BuzzFeed announced today that they will collaborate as part of expanded video coverage of the Democratic and Republican national conventions on NYTimes.com.

Say what? The lion lying down with the lamb? And which is the lion?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Time to revisit high-school civics lesson: Does your vote matter any more?

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I first voted in an American national election in 1964. Lyndon Baines Johnson ran against Barry (“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”) Goldwater, the elder-statesman conservative who later successfully persuaded Richard Nixon to resign.

I voted for LBJ. The landslide swept Goldwater into a conservative backwater.

I have voted in every national election since then. But not voting this November has crept into my mind. And it’s not because I believe both candidates for president are hapless morons incapable of governing with some degree of effectiveness. (Yeah, I’ve got my doubts about both of these guys. They’re not that different.) And it’s not because I’ve grown weary of my own senator, the estimable three-termer Chuck Schumer, glomming onto every microphone and minicam he can find.

No, it’s because I’ve come to believe massive amounts of money from very few people have trumped my individual vote. And that money — much of it political largesse from billionaires — has made my individual vote a largely ineffective tool with which to dislodge an incumbent.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Groups demand White House release al-Awlaki murder memo

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In October of 2011, Scholars & Rogues noted that the Obama administration had ordered the killing of an unindicted American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, an Al Qaeda media provocateur. The drone missile launched against al-Awlaki also killed another unindicted American citizen, Samir Khan, who was also engaged with Al Qaeda media efforts.

S&R noted that both men were likely deserving of their fate as plotters against the security of the United States. But death at the hands of government with no charge being laid and subsequently proven is morally wrong. So in March S&R demanded that the Obama administration release a memo that it said outlined its moral justification for killing al-Awlaki and Khan. Thus far, Attorney General Eric Holder has refused.

Now, more organizations are applying pressure on the White House to explain its policy that has resulted in the deaths of unindicted American citizens.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized