Tag Archives: IMN

Mi2N PR – Jarrell Guitars Endorses Monte Pittman

Jarrell Guitars Endorses Monte Pittman

We at Jarrell Guitars are extremely pleased to welcome Monte Pittman, guitarist for Madonna, and Adam Lambert, to our family of talented endorsers.

Monte Pittman, is in the Artist Spotlight at Jarrell Guitars, with full bio, the latest news about Monte and his trail blazing projects. He is on the new October Homepage of Jarrell Guitars.com, and currently playing three Jarrell models, the JZH-1 Flamz Pr, JZS-1 Gold, and newest addition, the JZS-1 MPS Proto type. Jarrell Guitars home page features a soaring solo from (I am) The Black Rabbit, from ” Pain, Love and Destiny”.

Also, in celebration of the release of his new CD,“ Pain, Love & Destiny ”, which has just been released October 3, 2011, on CD Baby, and i Tunes, Monte Pittman will be performing live at the famed Whisky A Go Go, on W. Sunset Blvd., October 13, 2011.

Monte was interviewed on Friday September 30th, on the “Sheena Metal Experience”, when she debuted tracks from the new CD, Monte is also featured in this month’s issue of Rising Magazine. (Page 29)

Award winning designer Phillip Jarrell says ” Monte Pittman is a multi faceted artist, writer, guitarist, who’s new CD “Pain,Love and Destiny” brings forth some of the best new music I have heard in years”.




Contact Info:
Eric de Fontenay

ecfont [AT] musicdish.net


skype: musicdish


RIP – Etta James – January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012

Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer whose style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, gospel and jazz. Starting her career in the mid 1950s, she gained fame with hits such as “Dance With Me, Henry”, “At Last”, “Tell Mama”, and “I’d Rather Go Blind” for which she claimed she wrote the lyrics. She faced a number of personal problems including drug addiction before making a musical resurgence in the late 1980s with the album, The Seven Year Itch.

She is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and is the winner of six Grammys and seventeen Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. Rolling Stone ranked James number twenty-two on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number sixty-two on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists

She’s singing now!!


IMN PR: David Watt Besley titled ‘Believe These Eyes’

PR : Press Release David Watt Besley titled -Believe These Eyes-

IMN PR – William James :
St. Augustine, FL – The music industry is buzzing about the debut CD release by David Watt Besley titled ‘Believe These Eyes’, which upon listening will make a believer out of you! Featuring former Bon Jovi member Kurt Johnston and RPM member Barry Dunaway, along with a host of other top Northeast Florida musicians, David has created a unique sound. If you molded Cat Stevens and John Prine you would come up with David Watt Besley. Freelance writer Richard Wall says, “I really got the Cat Stevens influence, particularly in David’s singing style. But the songs have a newness to them; they are well written, telling his stories from the heart, along with some sterling accents on a solidly enjoyable musical foundation, which suits the material.” Inside sources say that ex-Bon Jovi Kurt Johnston contributes some memorable piano and guitar parts to ‘Believe These Eyes’. “He is a good friend and we have done many projects together through the years and have played a lot of music together,” says David.

Virginia-born singer/songwriter David Watt Besley currently resides in. In the mid-seventies David was part of the band Saucer, who were one of the first US bands looked at by Virgin Records. In the late seventies David played bass and wrote music with the NorthStar Band, one of Washington, DC’s most influential music groups. In the early 1980s David toured with Bob Margolin (Muddy Waters). In 1986 he joined his brother Ed Pickett and formed The Seiners, based out of Jekyll Island, Georgia and toured the southeast. In the early ’90s David joined the group Those Guys (several times voted Saint Augustine’s #1 band). The band also included Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynrd) and Banner Thomas (Molly Hatchet). In 2009 he reformed Northstar with his brother Ed and signed a publishing deal with Shadow Mountain Music. In 2010 David put together The Big Lonesome, a group featuring some of David’s favorite local players and writers. During this time he also started a solo career simply called “DAVE”. Even though David loves to get together with Northstar and The Big Lonesome, he has found that his solo career is the most enjoyable – Dave and his music. Which leads to the release of his critically acclaimed debut CD ‘Believe These Eyes’; a CD that has been receiving praise from press and fans alike worldwide.

“There is no real concept behind the CD,” David explains. “It was just a group of songs I put together for my first solo release. A friend of mine called me after listening to ‘Believe These Eyes’ and jokingly said, ‘Stop writing songs about my life!’ Whatever is in my heart at the time comes out in my song lyrics.” David is currently playing select gigs in support of his latest CD release.

With longtime friend and co-producer Jim Stafford (Eclipse Recording Company), David had been busy over the last year and a half recording his sophomore CD ‘Hopeless Romantic’ to be released later this year. Along with Kurt Johnston and Barry Dunaway, who also worked with Survivor, Pat Travers, Yngwie Malmsteen and many other notable bands, David has used many talented people to record on ‘Believe These Eyes’ and his forthcoming release and is very proud of the contributions they made: Wayne Johnston, Rob Peck, Chris McVey, Ed Pickett, Woody Pernell, Rusty Springfield, Janine Newfield, Michael Howard, Michael Houpt and Marc Douglas Berardo. David also had two lifelong friends he played with in the ’60s, Jim Miner and Chuck Caudill, join him on the recording sessions.

Finally David had this to impart: “Music is my life, it is what makes my world go around. I have had the chance to hang with many great writers and players over the years. I have been blessed with a great audience that supports my music. There have been so many magic moments over the years. To me that’s what music is all about, sitting down with other writers and creating something.”

For more information visit www.DavidWattBesley.com

To Purchase David Watt Besley – ‘Believe These Eyes’ CD: www.cdbaby.com/cd/davidwattbesley

Press Inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr (at) cs.com




The proposed U.S. legislation (SOPA/PIPA) that threatens internet is here! We are supporting a fight for freedom on the web and urge everyone to help stop this ugly bill! Internet protections are already in place and this bill goes to way to far and into a different level that gives government too much power over a medium that needs to be protected not censored.

There’s a bill in the U.S. Senate that if passed would put publishing freedom severely at risk, and could shut down entire sites at the whim of media companies. PLEASE GET INVOLVED!! MUSIC SITES ARE RIPE FOR ABUSE BY MAJORS.

Fight for the Future! created this nifty video to sum it up better than I can.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.





Why Is the Media Ignoring SOPA?

REPORT: News Networks Ignore Controversial SOPA Legislation

please follow
#StopSOPA #fightfortheftr #sopa #pipa #smokesignals2: #OccupyWallStNYC #StndUpFightBack #musicgroupscom #indmusicnews


Newt Gingrich Creating an America that Works Becoming The Paycheck President not The Food Stamp President?

Yes that was the Gingrich plan unveiled in a firestorm of comments surrounding the former house speaker’s willingness to go the NAACP and tell African Americans they should demand paychecks not food stamps. This was followed by a town hall in New Hampshire where he accused the media of distorting his ideas and how the resistance to his plan to give kids in the poorest of neighborhoods habits of working came from “the left” specifically an article written by someone 20 years ago stating it traps kids into being janitors; then, according to Gingrich, another person with the same left agenda came out saying janitors do hard work, why are you trying to kill children? Candidate Gingrich scoffing at how ridiculous that was, going on to say schools could keep a head janitor, grossly overpaid, commented on New York city schools who pay janitors more than teachers, hire 20-30 kids per school to work in the cafeteria, the front office and “yes push a broom.” Next he spoke about his daughter who reminded him her first job was scrubbing toilets in a church, his granddaughter who wrote him on her new i-pad she saved everything she earned, doing chores, until she could afford it. There was of course a story from right there in New Hampshire about a boy named Ian and his wickedly good doughnuts. Newt Gingrich then gradually worms his way around to shouldn’t we be a nation of work at the center of our country and for that to be so, the culture conversations that must take place, to work you have to be educated then the idea that to compete with China North Korea you have to learn something, that school is to be about education not socialization and it’s to be about discipline and better to bruise Bobby’s psyche now and get him to read rather than him graduating not being able to read, us having ruined his life.

The whole town hall was like that simplifying urban poverty and the welfare problems we face by saying kids need to know how to work, we need to be a nation that works, as in holds a job, pledging that if he is the nominee to campaign as the paycheck president calling Obama the most successful food stamp president in history. It’s difficult to know where to begin dissecting the problem with the Gingrich philosophy on a working America but perhaps commenters on the food stamp story that went viral said it best when they pointed out Obama is not the “food stamp president” that that came in the 1960’s and the food act was passed in 1970; or another who asked a should be striking question about does Mr. Gingrich have a plan for after the checks stop and the malnutrition, starvation of, particularly children, sets in? Even though defenders of Newt claim he believes this stuff, passionately believes it will change our nation for the better, purporting it’s not about race, the implied argument it’s about neighborhoods, the media perhaps need to be more discerning, less simplistic; it is the candidate who is over simplifying issues. And Gingrich did target blacks with his comment about the NAACP, further targeting them saying they should demand paychecks not food stamps. Or as he corrected, they should not be satisfied with food stamps; however The Huffington Post quickly pointed out how a candidate shouting about telling the truth, in terms of going negative on opponents when necessary, mangled his facts on food stamps. Facts based on the most recent data are that the majority of receiving households are white, at 33% dwarfed an entire 10 percentage points are blacks with 22% and Hispanics at slightly over 16%; despite whites increasingly becoming the minority in many areas. Mentioned data also informed readers that 47% of the recipients are children, who, by the way, are not to blame for their parents’ mistakes, 28% are comprised of those disabled or elderly, exactly the people who can’t work or are passed working age. The Huffington Post going on to say, “Moreover, there is no contradiction between earning a paycheck and receiving food stamps.”

Worse is his mangled facts stating that they give it away as cash and people could use it to go to Hawaii; which is utterly false seeing as they put it on a type of debit card only usable for food and liquor of any kind is excluded from the things you can purchase. Claims of fraud that include giving stamps to millionaires are unsubstantiated; despite the shouting, program abuse is at an all-time low. He has obviously confused food stamps with TANF (temporary aid to needy families) and general relief, but by all means lets prevent poor people from buying their kids diapers, bottles, themselves toothpaste, shaving cream, mouthwash, socks. How they are ever supposed to get a job minus those basics defies common sense, and no matter how they hoard said stipends, it is completely unrealistic they could afford to go to Hawaii. Such ignorance coming from someone hell bent on reform how this nation works is an insult to the 5 million food stamp recipients who are working what the Huffington Post described as an explosion of low wage jobs and simultaneously are eligible to received stamps, not because they are so extravagant, but because the wages truly are that low compared to costs of living. Also characterized, more than 4 million are actively looking for work or the millions who have joined the droves of discouraged workers no longer looking after months, years, of trying as jobless Americans have continually outnumbered jobs 4-1. Gingrich has no help or solution for the 10 million Americas comprising the working poor making minimum wage at slightly over 15,000 a year, which is still below the poverty line for a family of three. In the interest of telling the truth, Gingrich has a long history of attempting to repeal minimum wage and using the rhetoric above to lead his crusade against food stamps, against feeding people who, no matter how hard they try, can’t feed themselves.

Returning to the town hall and the concept that what keeps Americans from working now is not enough work as children, no working habits, let’s look at how his examples don’t translate into poorer neighborhoods. Ian’s Wickedly Good Doughnuts never would have come into being because the father of a poor kid wouldn’t have had the time or money to be at the trade show and bought the doughnut maker. Neither would either of the parents had time to drive Ian to deliver his doughnuts once the business expanded, if the family even had a car; since Gingrich commented that Ian’s dad was excited he was now 16 and could drive to deliver his own doughnuts. Secondly you’re dealing with a pretty remarkable 11 year old, the age Ian started, if he can go out and convince restaurants to become customers at an age no one is likely to take them seriously; meaning they likely had an inherent talent for business, something all kids aren’t going to possess. Business talent aside, it doesn’t mean people in the neighborhood, small shops can afford the product. Thirdly kids from poor neighborhoods participating in the Gingrich work program, earning that 3,000 over the school year aren’t going to learn the saving attitude of his granddaughter, because the money quickly goes from theirs to their family’s and the $60-80 a week is spent on food for everyone, socks for little brother, sissy’s baby formula, rather than money for supplies to take a school jewelry making class or the required camera for high school photography class or saving for a toy, computer or i-pad. Lastly it becomes discriminatory when the white poor kids are shuffled into the library, food service and the black poor kids end up pushing brooms, scrubbing toilets. Added to that, the ones who did well young, continue to do well today are the ones who had a product or service to sell, not just ones who worked before everyone else. Ian’s Wickedly Good Doughnuts is a perfect example, so are the sisters with a million dollar locker magnet business, the teens who have sold video/ computer games.  

Having given kids a work ethic Gingrich’s plan still ignores the key hurdle to reaching the goal of an America that works, an independent America vs. a dependent one, one that earns paychecks, not relies on food stamps, opportunity. Going back to our GOP candidates comments on education; school is about learning and socialization; he should know since his generation created the concept of it’s not what you know but who, a job system based on the friend or acquaintance who can recommend you at their workplace. He can tout education reform all he wants, but it’s less about parents seeing their kids as special and not wanting to bruise their psyche saying they are not good enough, a trend more likely started in the 1990’s not the 1960’s, less about self-esteem as a gift and more about not ripping away self-esteem and self-worth unduly. Self-esteem that can be earned in doing art or sports or wood shop, landscaping, not just pure academia, things schools slash for budget reasons or don’t even offer to begin with.  The Gingrich diatribe on cultural conversations needing to be had about education, his examples surrounding reading and homework do nothing to address why the child can’t read, are we dealing with dyslexia, other complex learning disabilities, developmental delay, things that won’t be cured by a parents nagging, berating them into “doing better.” 

If understanding urban schools, poor neighborhoods were a class he would fail, because he ignores the fact more and more kids come to kindergarten not having held a pencil or writing utensil, because parents couldn’t afford crayons and paper to doodle on, have spent their pre K years in homes without books, being read to because parents can’t afford to buy them, are working 2 jobs and have no time to use the library. Preschool programs in these areas are either hit or miss and often carry long waiting lists. Likewise, the reason some kids aren’t doing their homework is they lack the physical means to do so in terms of supplies, they don’t have computer or internet at home, can’t stay after school to use them or other library materials to do their report on Abraham Lincoln, because they ride the bus and they either don’t have a local public library or can’t walk to it to do the work. If we are going to have the cultural conversation, then we need to talk about teachers, school administrators who write off minorities, those from poor neighborhoods caring less if they can read, are grasping classroom concepts, instead focusing on the rest of the students, actions that have a more profound effect that student work ethic, parent involvement, whether homework is assigned or not, completed or not. To say nothing of the results of homework intensive nations like us, China doing no better on standardized tests than non-homework intensive nations like Holland, studies that have concluded homework does not reinforce concepts or boost information retention. Further keeping up, competing with places like China may mean leveling the playing field in an entirely different way, leveling it back to what we thought it was, if the ABC News report exposing hackers and business spies from China taking US  information on major companies is any indication. A phenomenon Mr. Gingrich is likely unaware of, involves kids who get straight A’s but have no success outside of school, basically flunk at life.  Again the kids, the people who do so well are the ones who buck the system; Bill Gates, Steve Jobs who dropped out of college, John Mayer who had to go to summer school to get his diploma now a Grammy winning singer.      

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

He has nothing to say about the kids who graduate high school, have no problem reading, whose work habits would be perfectly acceptable if only they were given a chance to demonstrate them, who  garnered the average amount of knowledge they were supposed to get, not excellent, not poor just average and want to work, but have no opportunities. He has even less to say to those who perhaps did excellent, at least go on to college, get degrees and still can’t find jobs, who have done everything right and have nothing to show for it, except thousands of dollars in debt they subsequently can’t repay. For those who read my work regularly or who saw my piece Newt Gingrich Momentum to What– it detailed the dangers of kids working these type of jobs and so young, the social danger of taking us back to an 1800’s mentality on education. However another danger is giving already at risk kids false hope because, assuming the programs is a glowing success, that $3,000 a year isn’t going to be enough to go to college, as Ian thinks his doughnuts might do for him, even if they were able to save all of it. While it would give work experience it could quickly turn into, you don’t know quick books, don’t have accounting experience, driver’s license, your own vehicle we can’t use you. Don’t have a food safety course under your belt, a food safety certificate, we can’t use you. If you didn’t get at least the textbook knowledge of the chemicals, industrial, commercial cleaning machines used in janitorial work, incidentally why janitors are so “over paid compared to teachers, oh we can’t use you. Further employers won’t take long to get wise looking at applications, résumés and say oh you live there, you were part of that program, you must be poor, probably a delinquent; we don’t want you.  So these young people come out of the program, out of school eager to work, ready to join the real working world only to discover they don’t have the “right” education, the “right” experience, ironically just like their middle class counterparts, and quickly succumb to the negatives of a bad neighborhood, are that much more likely to get into drugs, prostitution; rapidly turn to illegal activities, reckless behavior because they feel the straight and narrow betrayed them.

Yes it is past time we were an America that works, as in an America that first and foremost, FUNCTIONS; if Newt Gingrich was going to demand something, the demand should have gone out to businesses to cease and desist all discriminatory practices. No more throwing applications in the trash of people with corn rows or dreadlocks in their hair, no more tossing of applications submitted by people who live in certain areas. Neither should it take a “special” boss, who believes in second chances, to hire someone trying to get off welfare rolls, lumping said persons in with parolees, former prisoners, people with felony rap sheets. Demand an end be brought to judging people’s fitness for employment based on size, weight, condition of teeth, walking gate, Facebook page, legal activities they choose to do outside work; put simply, if they are qualified for the job or have adjacent job experience, training, education, aptitude for learning hire them, regardless of ethnicity, where they live, where they went to school or what program they did or didn’t get their skills from. Instead what we have currently transpiring is employers who won’t hire someone with too much education for the job, are likely to question why you are applying with them considering your former position, who will blatantly tell you, you will get bored with the job, even if you are just trying to work so you, your kids can eat, making Gingrich’s comments on learning something all the more invalid. George Caril got it in one when he said they, the employers, people in power don’t want smart, educated, well informed people; they want people, who are just smart enough to run the machines, fill out the paperwork and not notice they are being controlled. And that is why, according to Carlin, the education system will never be fixed; sadly there is truth in that. Schools are exercises in conformity and little else.

Instead of the fantasy world our former speaker lives in, where everyone can, could work, if only they had the proper work ethic, we have employers who won’t hire anyone 18-25 for positions, because young people aren’t to be taken seriously; won’t hire anyone of child bearing years, especially women, because they will want maturity leave and the employer will lose productivity from them as they take time off for sick offspring, show up late because of school and daycare issues. People 40 and over are a risk because, along with child bearers, they might use their medical coverage, take their retirement from this job. When it’s not this reality potential workers are up against it’s some sort of nepotism, in which employers will hire their relatives, relatives of acquaintances, the child of a friend, ahead of any qualified applicant. Demands need to be made to stop disqualifying applicants by the way in which jobs are structured. Clerical and administrative assistant positions that require a driver’s license, your own vehicle not only ruling out someone who made a mistake and is trying to get their life back on track, but younger workers not yet able to afford a car; the same sorts of positions not inside the city limits, requiring, nights weekends and holidays, excluding bus services in the former case and costing someone a potential job in smaller towns containing limited bus service in the latter. And before the diatribe begins about obese America and walking to work; walking across town, across major highways in high vehicle traffic areas, walking in extreme cold or heat is unsafe; no job is worth your life. In that same vein are the kitchen sink jobs that want accounting, book keeping, business/marketing school, web design software, office specific PC programs to again push paper, fork lift operation, ability to lift 20-40 pounds, even 20/20 vision are not off the table again for clerical work.               

Opening the conversation on reforming these things makes a lot more sense than an obviously well fed white guy, making thousands of dollars per speaking engagement riding on the coat tails of once being speaker of the house, getting a 1.6 million dollar paycheck from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for a historian position, marching into the NAACP and demanding black people, just black people, not be satisfied with food stamps, instead start demanding paychecks. In other words, the new way of saying, get a job you bums. But never the less that’s what Newt Gingrich said.  Added to the insult, is the pure fact these are people so busy surviving they don’t have time to sit and ponder am I satisfied with food stamps; every day is too much of a struggle. They are too busy being grateful they have something to feed their kids and move on to other basic needs not so easy to get. Better solutions exist than diatribes on social ills, the laziness, apathy of poor people; for the Gingrich, get more people working plan, to have any hope it would almost have to be made into an after school program, as not to infringe on classroom learning combined with a bussing system for that after school program so that it could be made available to all students who wanted to participate, not just the ones picked up by their parents or who walk home. So if you are going to bus children home after this work program, why not bus students home after all extracurricular activities, giving them the chance to participate in writing club, art club, acting club, science club, nature club, sports learning something about themselves, possibly gaining information about activities they can later turn into careers, instead of just priming them for minimum wage, medial work. Work many agree, in the great debate about school curriculum, format and structure there isn’t enough of, for all of the kids coming out of high schools still based on 1950’s models, not teaching in demand technology skills.

Once again it’s the conversations we’re not having that could do this country harm; it’s the issues candidates refuse to address in any meaningful way, instead engaging in finger pointing, blaming the poor, the less fortunate, blaming current holders of office.  We’re so busy either trying to make president Obama a one term president or so desperate for things to change, we, the American people, are willing to let almost anyone talk us into almost anything. And that anything includes working our children instead of educating our children, elongating school years, school days instead of maximizing classroom time already spent, understanding children from dysfunctional neighborhoods and the unique challenges they face, adapting school accordingly. That anything includes taking personal responsibility to an extreme unrealistic level when it comes to healthcare, retirement, working ages while we, the people, say nothing. It means stereotyping people who need help just to survive and cutting them off from it to, make them work, make them understand work ethic, instead of having a serious discussion about business culture, wheat employers really need and need to be legally made to do to make America, all of it able to work again. Whether people like Newt Gingrich is irrelevant, whether he is going to be the nominee is irrelevant, the fact that what he says resonates with more and more US citizens is what should be frightening, what we have let ourselves believe.  







Electronaut M63 2 Channel Microphone/Instrument Amp Gaining Sales And Accolades

Electronaut’s M63 is starting to attract the attention of a lot of studios, artists and producers as well as the dealers who carry the line throughout the world.

63 2 channel mixer

The first in a line of products from the boutique company based in Chicago and hand-built by owner/founder/designer Rob Roy Campbell, the M63′s success has meant that the company are working flat out to meet demand, all without compromising the superb build of the unit.

Rob Roy Campbell quotes:
“I’ve always thought of microphone preamps as being part of the overall instrument formed by the musician, microphone, preamp, and recorder. To that end, preamps should be designed to sound good rather than just boast good measurement specs; but with that being said, transparency is also very important in a lot of situations, and I think the M63 does a great job of straddling those two different goals.”

In the meantime, at one of Chicago’s premier recording facilities owner – John Humphreys from Engine Studios comments:

“Flexibility is the cornerstone of my studio ethos. In my 20 years in the business, I have always sought out studio products that deliver in multiple situations and I only buy gear I think has long-term survivability. I consider my Electronaut M63 another awesome tool in the shed, right there with our Neumann 367′s, My Gibson GA -20 or our Sphere”.

While one of the dealers who represents the company Ecstatic Electric’s Joel Morowitz in New York adds:

“In my honest opinion, the M63 is simply one of the finest sounding mic-pres currently being made. It’s gives you a wide palette of tonal options, which is great if your number of pre amp channels is limited. They are built with love. It’s such a fantastic company and we are so honored to be working with them.”

If that wasn’t enough to make you dash to your computer and access the Electronaut website to get your own fix, then there’s always a comment from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy who says:

“The M63 is open and airy – perfect paired with an RCA BK5 on percussion. Transparent and focused imaging, allowing the mic’s natural smearing to come through, but not by being unmusically clear… instead, very harmonically pleasing on it’s own”

Meanwhile, you can see a video featuring Rob Roy Campbell as he talks about the M63 here:

For more on Electronaut, please visit.

For more on Ecstatic Electric and to arrange a demo of
Electronaut’s M63 go to:

Engine Studios can be reached at:

LCD Soundsystem’s website is:


The News Networks’ SOPA Blackout

By Josh Levy, January 9, 2012

originally posted at SavetheInternet.com

You may have heard about the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. Simply put, it’s a bill in the House that could open the door to widespread Internet censorship.

Opposition to the bill has reached a boiling point. Millions of activists, hundreds of
startups, social media sites like Tumblr, Reddit and Twitter and even big
companies like Google, Yahoo! and eBay have joined with Free Press and other
Internet advocacy groups against it.

This is one of the biggest tech stories of the year. Yet as a recent report from Media Matters for America shows, TV news has ignored it.

According to the report, SOPA — and Protect IP, its cousin in the Senate — have “received
virtually no coverage from major American television news outlets during their
evening newscasts and opinion programming.” Among the offenders are ABC, CBS,
Fox News, MSNBC and NBC.

A likely reason for the media blackout? The big networks — and their parent
companies — support these two Internet-censorship bills.

This is what happens when the interests of big business get in the way of the need
to inform the public and protect free speech. These same media giants are
lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to loosen its ownership rules
and allow for even more media consolidation — another issue they’ve failed to
cover. If the FCC permits runaway
media blackouts like the one affecting SOPA could become even more common.

Meanwhile, rank-and-file journalists are coming out strong against these censorship bills. And print media have reported on them. Earlier this month New York Times columnist David Carr wrote that SOPA was “alarming in its
reach.” Time, the Atlantic, Forbes and the Boston Globe have all reported on the legislation in the past week.

What is TV news afraid of?

These networks — ABC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC and NBC — need to be held accountable for failing to provide coverage of
such damaging legislation.

Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Free Press does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media and universal access to communications.

Josh Levy

Josh is the Internet Campaign Director for Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund.

Read Josh’s full bio »


America Land of Lack or Land of Wasted Wealth?

That was a premise of an MSNBC commentators opinion on the current public, analytical perception of our situation, that one of the largest myths of this great recession has been that we live in a state of lack rather than realizing we have a lot of wealth, in terms resources from persons, to homes, to machinery sitting idle, falling into disuse. Disseminating from people who can’t get work, to vacant homes just existing, to business spaces boarded up, equipment collecting dust; the biggest travesty of the great recession is the absence of creative thinking to get things moving again, use and utilize tools at our disposal to put people back to work, restore confidence in the country’s ability to meet the challenges now and in the future. Sadly for many, those trying rise up or those in need of a helping hand are met with ridicule, people trying to make things right, settle their debts, do the honorable thing met with the words we can’t help you.  Disenfranchised former workers who want to work, would gladly take any job they could physically do, who perhaps only need retraining not only don’t receive the latter but become the scapegoat for politically unpopular policies meant to help the desperate and the destitute, the increase in usage of social welfare programs. Do something or do nothing and the government still takes a hit, ordinary people still take a hit as current political candidates vow to change the social welfare state, return us to a merit society vs. what they  call an entitlement society.  

Clearly it’s a case of did our MSNBC commenter ever get it right we don’t have a lack of resources, lack of manpower, not even a lack of capital; what we have is a failure to mobilize resources correctly, a failure to recognize core issues and deal with them accordingly, galvanized by Dennis Miller’s comments on Bill O’Reilly‘s The O’Reilly Factor. In which he used a comment from president Obama talking about America needing to get tougher in terms of competitive edge to say American’s have gone soft pointing to healthcare legislation allowing kids to stay on their parents insurance till age 26, legalizing medical marijuana, 2 years of unemployment “if you don’t want to work,” making fun of the record number of food stamp recipients under the Obama administration stating: “throw in some food stamps for munchies and it really is  Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure 3.” Next it was how motivated he gets when his toes are dangling over an edge and he can fall, and when you can’t fall you’re not motivated, ending with someone ought to tell that to the island of misfit toys in hemp hoodies, referring to the occupy protesters. Once more it’s a question of do such comments, uttered by a political comedian or not, hold water, and of even greater importance, what will the viewing public take away from them, regardless of accuracy? Frankly it doesn’t take long to see the hypocrisy and arrogance, to say nothing of a fall from grace, of a stand-up comedian screaming at college students, worried about the debt they will incur their ability to obtain stable employment, to get a job. Or after a semi successful career, the fact that the only way he can pay his bills is spouting political wisdom beside the despised likes of Bill O’ Reilly.

Click the link or copy and paste URL to view Millers full comments http://video.foxnews.com/v/1202819426001/

When I think about children being on their insurance past 18 or 21, I remember a friend I made in college who was diagnosed with a brain tumor; after surviving chemo and radiation that left him looking like a balding middle aged man, despite being in his 20’s, he was given a clean bill of health only to have to drop out of college and go get a semi decent factory job to pay for the CAT scans he would need for years to come, if not the rest of his life, to ensure he was healthy. Why, because he turned 25 and was subsequently dropped from his parents insurance. And this was being on his parents insurance later than was usually allowed before the Obama measure; what would have happened had he not been on an extended plan? Would he have died; would the cancer reoccurred because of lesser treatment. Also to be considered are those with mental health issues looking to preserve successful mental health treatment as they transition into legal adulthood, go on to college; i.e. keeping the same psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, medications, insurance covered support group/ treatment program, instead of being forced to change based on free programs for individuals without insurance, switched to generic or similar medications for the same reason. Anyone looking at the current employment market notices how long it takes for even the luckiest, most industrious young people to gain traction in the workforce, land a job that might carry health benefits, inconvenient though it is to one liners, punch lines of political pundits.

Two years of unemployment if you don’t want to work has to be one of the most incendiary phrases of the last nearly four years; because it isn’t two years of unemployment if you don’t want to work, it’s two years of unemployment because it takes you that long to find work. Nor is it being taken advantage of by people sitting on their couch, toking on medical marijuana, eating Funyuns in their underwear, rather being used by people sending out hundreds of  résumés a day or a week, people who are on their computers, their phones networking, using social networking to try and land their next job, people who have the means, and by that you’re talking about a car, a license and enough money for gas, who are out pounding the pavement, doing face to face follow up, delivering applications in person, people who were probably out this holiday season trying to get hired on for one of the seasonal jobs hoping against hope to make it permanent. The 99 weeks of unemployment benefits provided are being used families trying to hold on to their homes, provide stability to their children, by older workers traditionally always struggling to be rehired during hard times, after a downsizing. Unemployment benefits largely given to people who incidentally haven’t done anything wrong or negligent to lose their jobs but who are victims of their workplaces’ bottom line. Interesting also is why they can’t get another job seeing as we report a 300 million job jobs gap in this country; top on that list of reasons is a lack of employer willingness to train people for what they can’t immediately hire, too much emphasis on former job held and an absurd discrimination of people who have ever been on welfare or anything perceived as welfare. Adding credence to Miller’s diatribe, enter political oddball Newt Gingrich spanked in the Iowa caucus saying blacks should demand paychecks not be satisfied with food stamps, comments that might have made more sense had he said it in terms of blasting discrimination against ethnicity, discrimination against individuals in poor areas, earnestly trying to get off of welfare, sending the demand to businesses to legitimately look at all potential workers, bring back job training, instead of making it sound like he’s again attacking poor people, black people, somehow making the situation their fault.      

The chief reason we have seen such an increase in the number of food stamp recipients under Obama is not his lax policies, his “bleeding heart liberal” tinge toward so called social welfare, but stems from the record numbers of people having lost both their home and their job, so echo the ABC news fact checkers who vetted Gingrich’s claims tying food stamp applications to a weak economy, the extended average time it takes to get a job, varying by which part of the country you live in, how easily a person can become one of the long term unemployed based on age, experience, previous job held. We have people in their 40’s 50’s who never in their life have needed any kind of help suddenly both needing and qualifying for assistance, persons swallowing their pride and applying solely so their children can eat. As one in 6 Americans currently live in poverty, suffer food instability, 1 in 4 of those being children.  However Mr. Miller is far from alone in his damn near crusade to rid the country of all things deemed welfare, entitlement; two terms that evoke thoughts of laziness, system abuse and people wanting something for nothing. Recently announced former presidential candidate MicheleBachmann was on C- span talking about if she were president she would go through the great society programs enacted by Lyndon Johnson and probably eliminate a great many of them, pointing out we didn’t have food stamps prior to 1960. Forget they were put into effect in an era when people were treated better by business.  And this is what is happening with food stamps families living in vehicles, in California there is a place called slab city where people who can no longer afford to heat homes in other parts of the country go, where people who can no longer afford fees at an RV park go, including a father of 6 who lost his audio visual business who prior to the recession had always gone to work in a suit and tie, who planned to look for work in the city come spring, currently only able to scrape together odd jobs.  Strangely enough it took 60 Minutes reporting on the problem to land these families offers of housing and jobs in addition to the donations of viewers.

And why have so many lost their homes, everything they’ve worked for; it’s not because the government and vilified president Obama didn’t try to help with several programs meant to aid millions but more because banks are hives of buck passing and bureaucracy bent on crucifying distressed homeowners leading directly to the inability of agencies to work together to negotiate a lower mortgage rates for people. In fact willing to throw out delinquent owners after one missed payment; one woman’s house was nearly auctioned before proper foreclosure procedures had been completed. The latest bizarre story out of what can only be called mortgage hell, involved a husband and wife looking to refinance their home after the husband lost his job only to be told by Bank of America they could not get help until they were behind on their mortgage, so they stopped paying, talked to several people at the bank and showed CBS News a binder of letters denoting employees passing the case off to various staff. Receiving no word from the bank, they move out, send registered letter informing their lender of the action, new address and contact information. Finally after seeing no movement on their situation, they moved back in and two years after their ordeal began they obtained permission to sell the house for less than was owned to the bank, found a buyer and are moving to a mobile home.  Banks illustrated a profound stupidity at the height of the recession, still are, being all too willing to evict underwater home owners even after abandoned foreclosure properties became magnets for drugs, teen mischief and disgruntled former home owner rage, translating into thousands upon thousands of dollars in damages, repairs and enticements to get the home ready to sell again and convince people, in this buyers’ market, to come to desolate neighborhoods. Whereas had they employed some common sense, creative problem solving negotiating with owners would be their top priority since doing so keeps the owner in the home, prevents property destruction or the dwindling of surrounding property values, avoids neighborhoods becoming ghost towns. Another solution renting the home to the former owner at a lesser price for the same reasons; yes you’re taking a loss, but some money has to be better than no money. Similarly, can’t find a buyer for homes, why not try a renter, keep someone in the property, taking care of it, again not allowing it to become a drug den, flop house or squatters place for the homeless?    

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<Now it doesn’t matter if the unemployment rate is 8.6 percent, a possibly false positive as an estimated 300,000 to 450,000 have simply stopped looking for work after months and years of trying; it’s simply too late for some. Neither does the mild growth adding an estimated 1 million jobs to the economy this year when we have anywhere from 6 to 14 million out of work; poignantly illustrated by the Romney supporter caught on camera at the Iowa caucus begging Romney, should he make it to the White House, to please do something for small unemployed families. Even for those who have jobs times are uneasy; many feel stuck, sense no upward mobility. Many in this category feel like they are barely keeping their heads above water. Experts echoing known fact that short term unemployment becomes long term at some point, emphasizing the length of this recession and what that means for the financial prospects of everyone going forward, translation there will be less money going to them even after any kind of substantial recovery, they won’t get back to where they were. Not surprising was the projected impact on children caught in the recession longer who will inevitably grow up to earn less money than children whose parents made only slightly more in annual income. Despite commentators on the PBS piece detailing above information pointing to the optimist, happy to see her have a brighter view, highlight the reality that kids who’ve always had farther to go had less chance of making it; one can say the bigger point is, the reason for bringing it up is, it is a situation now effecting nearly every kid in America. By the way President Obama was speaking of American’s having gone soft, needing to get tougher relating to competitive edge not to be confused with personal grit, overinflated expectation of government, inability to sacrifice, inability to at least try to pull yourself up by the bootstraps although someone should inform users of the phrase boots no longer come with straps, if they ever did.             

Perhaps we should get back to calling them the great society programs rather than welfare and entitlement; perhaps it is the older people who need a wake-up call and no, not the PBS optimist who thought the children of this recession were going to come out with much more of an understanding of the importance of frugality, saving in contrast to the ones raised by baby boomers in reasonable wealth and prosperity who seem to be having the majority of the problems. Why, well for starters because it sounds better than the treating our older citizens with respect program, the keeping them from eating cat or dog food program, preventing needless death of all people due to lack of medical care program or the this is the way we stave off communicable disease programs, don’t see starving children programs, but more because it reminds us this is a great society and in a great society, the mark of people’s character should be how he treats those not deemed better than him, those seen as his equals, but those, for whatever reason deemed his inferiors. Because we don’t want to pay for it; we “can’t” afford it isn’t a good enough reason to throw vulnerable people under the bus and who, other than the politicians, rich fat cats say we can’t pay for it, while simultaneously paying for everything from oil subsidies to earmarks, bailouts to defunct presidential coins?  

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Perhaps most compelling of all because the MSNBC commentator was right; we don’t live in a land of lack. We live in a land of  myth perpetuated waste; we have people, we have resources, we have mechanisms political and otherwise, we have equipment, space but we refuse to find ways to keep people in homes, preserve property, refuse to take the side of common workers, students over mega corporations in terms of making the latter pay their fair share, giving opportunities to those starting out, young people glad to work, wanting a career, willing to pay back student loans if only given the means to do so. Instead we allow the mocking of said students by people like Dennis Miller to go unchecked, unchallenged, no matter who allowing children to stay on insurance longer helps, or god forbid aids the mentally ill,  allows the diagnosis of diseases striking adolescents, 20 something’s so they are later alive to work, to pay into social security. We refuse to put together new rules, enact job training programs, a change in business culture to get them hire all workers 18-50 needing, wanting a job as openings become available; we refuse to force banks to lend money to those with sound business plans to create more jobs, translating into needing less of the demonized welfare. Instead we hold on to petty, out of date ideals tied to the protestant work ethic, a model that never worked to begin with, creates excuses to call the poor lazy, the struggling unmotivated, unwilling.  These are the things Mr. Miller, candidates like Michele Bachmann should be bringing to light not trying to abolish welfare, food stamps, housing assistance, Medicare, Medicaid, rather the need for them.

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Illegal Aliens Are Human Not Little Green Beings From Mars

That’s a version of what immigration law protesters’ signs say, trying to remind citizens in some of the toughest immigration areas that illegals, as they are often called, are still, first and foremost, human, deserving to be treated as such. A message that was reinforced when the justice department cracked down on Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio citing Maricopa County law enforcement had run afoul of the constitution, engaged in racial profiling, denied immigrants, suspected illegal Latino inmates, basic civil rights including medical care for those who could speak little or no English, punishments doled out to those who could not properly understand instructions given to them, even going so far as to detain one legal US Latino resident for driving without a license, who was subject to the same abuse before his residency status could be confirmed. While this is the most significant backlash against tough state immigration law, as well it should be, it’s not the only one; Alabama is now suffering the consequences of its own overzealous legislation, not just in terms of famers harvesting crops but in terms of drawing business to the state, as one Chinese company is considering backing out of their significant investment and a steel company has decided to wait until foreign workers feel more at ease in the area. But the latest, most shocking, immigration story is that of a 14 year old runaway who gave a fake name to police then was deported to the country of Colombia, given a work card and released to a work program there

Joe Arpaio is no stranger to controversy forcing inmates to live in tents, forcing males to wear pink, all effective, if non-conventional methods, considering the goal is to make sure inmates do not become repeat offenders, but the Arizona sheriff’s stance on immigration enforcement is something else when you talking about denying medical care and basic services to people who hardly speak the language, locking them in their cells with no access to food for up to 72 hours (it’s reasonable to assume that’s what is meant by barring them from the “canteen area,” for that time period) It’s something else when inmates are thrown into solitary confinement 23 hours a day for failing to understand commands in English, when inmates are subject to listening to racial slurs on the part of their jailers, when officers refuse to process request forms for services, mistreatment complaints just because they are written in Spanish. Worse police officials were compelling signatures, from limited English speakers, on forms stating they understand their rights in legal matters without interpreters. While this may all sound well and good to many, factoring in these people have been convicted of crimes, are suspected of committing serious offenses outside flouting immigration rules, the question must be asked, how many of these people are truly guilty of what they are accused of taking into account the tactics of their arrest? What details are being missed in handling limited or no English speaking persons minus translators? Just because you are guilty of being an illegal immigrant doesn’t mean you are guilty of all other crime, nor does it mean you forfeit your rights as a human being.     

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According to the associated press his patrols known as sweeps have been under investigation since 2009; current investigative findings determining Latino drivers were 4 to 9 times more likely to be stopped than others. His immigrant smuggling squad conducted traffic stops without reasonable cause, detaining legal U.S. residents and rarely leading to smuggling arrests. Even went as far as to arrest groups of possible Latinos for gathering outside businesses but having committed no crime.  So who else is being arrested, jailed, possibly convicted without anyone getting to the bottom of what really happened? Next what about Latino victims of crime; our Arizona sheriff treats them no better than ones he has already deemed guilty in his mind, if the child sex crimes uncovered are any indication; in which this sheriff’s office failed to investigate 400 of such cases properly or, in certain instances, at all. However when higher authorities intervened they discovered 32 reported child molesters virtually ignored, despite suspects being named in the majority of cases bringing up questions of adequate policing within the Hispanic community. Further evidence painting Joe Arpaio and his office as an entity out of the old west, making its own rules and running rough shot over all else are his tendencies to arrest, jail, silence people who speak out against what he is doing, lawsuits filed against attorneys and other officials he doesn’t like, all falling apart before getting to court. Mr. Arpaio, according to press releases, calls the report “a sad day for America as a whole.” No what is sad is it has taken this long to rein in a rouge law enforcement power house along with his office; no, what is sad is this is how we are willing to treat human beings period, never mind ones whose only sin is being born on foreign soil but wanting to make a better life here. What is even sadder still is how much support actions like this have among the American public; how many will say good for him, there’s only room for us here now.   

Alabama has a different problem in their near blood lust to rid the state of illegal immigrants and their accompanying ills, they have forgotten how to treat legal ones, forgotten the importance of their foreign investors, not only for their economy but the national economy. Example, the Chinese company, mentioned in the opening, coupled with a Canadian one having spent 230 million on factories in Thomasville, creating 800 jobs in a town of 5,000 people, now the former is ready to back out solely because of the new law. The steel company is not writing off the US or Alabama, instead waiting for the day workers feel welcome to both work and reside their without the restrictions of such an oppressive legal maneuver. When you have off shore investors point blank telling you, you didn’t think you actions through you should know you have a problem, but are they repealing the law, no. Their only partial solution is a measure up before the state legislature in February making it a crime for non-citizens not to no carry their citizenship documentation, this after a German Mercedes businessman, here legally, spent a night in jail post traffic violation. And being without his citizenship information, presumably it took that long to ascertain his residency status. Alabama officials say they are only taking such a hard line on the issue because the federal government has done that poor a job on the matter; however, it took CBS news no time to point out the Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants than any other. How many of those 800 jobs will be lost because of bad legislation; how many more jobs will never come to the state when word goes abroad about citizenship documentation regulations, when people in other countries hear about the reception, treatment received in Alabama and begin to think all of the U.S. is like that?

The problem, their law isn’t merely cracking down on the brown people characterized as working for lower wages, taking jobs from hard working American citizens; neither is it deporting the supposed criminal element certainly not working, epitomized as those likely to be picked up by police for loitering, trespassing, vagrancy, public intoxication, urination, exactly the kind of people you don’t want in your city, all the more so if they are not supposed to be. What it is clearly doing is driving away successful people who want to invest money in the area; people who are white, Asian, speak no hint of Spanish, arguably speak more understandable English than natives of the region. Not that their skin color should matter for a moment, or dialects should be mistaken for unintelligence,  but even of a visual, visceral level these are people who command respect, who are now nervous about building, expanding their business in states, cities, communities hanging out signs, physical or not, saying no outsiders welcome. Alabama in its thirst to rid themselves of the “undesirable brown people” detailed above have no compunction about the perceived harassment international would be investors might feel in encountering an immigrant hostile environment, how alienated they might feel being forced to produce citizenship documentation during a routine traffic stop. Better than spending a night in jail, yes, but neither should have happened; the man should have been issued a ticket for his violation, told how he could resolve it, pay the fine, or what office to visit for further information, instruction.

Added to that people should shutter when they hear that phrase, because something says we’re not talking about a simple passport, visa or green card, rather documents far more extensive, invasive and intrusive to people sightseeing, making an honest living, getting educated or running businesses in Alabama. Even if citizenship documentation requirements didn’t sound eerily like slave days and masters giving passes for slaves to be on the road, even if it didn’t sound reminiscent of passes in British controlled India to track and control native populations, even if it didn’t strike a chord similar to Nazi Germany and Jews walking around with stars sewn on all their clothing, how stiff a penalty are they willing to level on some tourist who accidentally left their passport in their hotel, students who left it in a dorm? Speaking of, it doesn’t take a psychic to know what will happen to millions, possibly billions of tourism dollars if innocent visitors, young college kids start turning up in local jail cells either because they didn’t know of the law or just forgot. Similarly what impression does it leave on the business man or woman settling fines, being booked; sure they may stay for the sake of their investment, but they will no doubt tell their home country colleagues to stay away. Continuing, do the police in Alabama have a plan, should the February law pass, to handle people whose documentation was left in a vehicle, purse, travel bag that was suddenly stolen; following currently employed logic, they’ll be locking up victims of theft for lacking proof of citizenship. Just another reason people shake their head, look at the south and wonder at its reputation shadowed with ignorance. 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo playerHow does a US citizen, and a minor US citizen at that, get deported to another country; that is one of the many questions facing both the state department and the family of Jakadrian Tuner, a 14 year old runaway who gave a fake name when picked up by police for shoplifting. Apparently the name, Tika Cortez, matched that of a 22 year old foreign national illegally residing here from the country of Colombia; while immigration officials maintain they did everything to confirm the identity of the detainee they were holding, questions still abound as to how this 14, currently 15 year old, was mistaken for someone 22, how they managed to buy her story seeing as she spoke not one word of Spanish, and more compellingly how this obviously African American girl was taken for Latino. Subsequent interviews given by the family have led many of the public not to believe the young girls story that she was taken in by a trafficker, scared to call home for fear of shaming her family, or that she told officers her age and they didn’t believe her, that she tried to tell them who she really was and the result was the same, that she didn’t understand the deportation hearing. Adding insult to injury, once her identity was confirmed on the US side, both governments agreed she could be sent home, but the family would have to pay airfare; only after the news broke the botched deportation story was Jakadrian released from the detention center, that picked her up on behalf of the US government, and put on a plane.  Many have come to the conclusion that is what happens when you lie, when you are dishonest, there are consequences and yes, you could be deported, going a step further saying the girl was coached on what to say “so these people could get rich” was one comment on a related story.

Independent of kids lying, doing stupid things, this by far being one of the stupidest, and the ramifications thereof; it doesn’t preclude police officials doing their job and doing it correctly. Lying shouldn’t lead to the deportation of a US citizen to another country. What, they had no picture of this 22 year old illegal immigrant, no finger prints, no sketch artist wanted or missing poster, despite the real Tika Cortez having warrants? Then how were they supposed to find her or identify her once they had, considering if a 15 year old can give a false name, an illegal person picked up by immigration, fearing deportation certainly can. Other astute members of the public, along with the Turner family, justifiably chide the immigration department for believing her story taking into account she spoke no Spanish, possessed no accent consistent with where she stated she was from and didn’t look 22; next, a missing persons report, no doubt including a photo, was filed on Jakadrian with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, something immigration enforcement says did not come up in the investigation. Again, what they’ve never dealt with possible runaways; police don’t automatically start out in immigration enforcement. By the time they end up in such a post they have been around the block a few times, but it seems police only went by the name Jakadrian gave as hers. Bringing us to another point, outside this teen’s story, how many people of the same name there can be in an area; the name Tika Cortez may sound unique enough to average Americans, yet Huston has a heavy Latino population where such names are common. Looking at the shoddy job done investigating this case; had the young girls name actually been Tika Cortez, she could have easily been a natural born US citizen, a naturalized US citizen, a legal resident alien here with a green card, student or work visa, a tourist in possession of a passport, confused with a felon who then would still be deported unjustly.

Do we need a sound immigration policy, perhaps even immigration reform, yes, but most can agree none of the actions here constitute anything close to it. Adhering to immigration policies that support denying people civil rights, human rights only reflects poorly on us as a nation, reinforces our reputation as selfish, self-centered and cruel. Not to mention giving power hungry bullies like Joe Arpaio places of authority will taint even the best immigration guidelines.   Shunning international investors, coming off as inhospitable to persons just because they weren’t born here is egregious enough, but doing so to people looking to create jobs here, looking for a market for their product, is almost unforgiveable, especially in this economy. Making visitors feel welcome, making people feel free to work, thrive here provided they go through the proper process, obey the laws, which these people all seem willing to do, is critical to operating in the global economy, never mind leading it as America wants to.  At the same time treating minor offenses like traffic violations the same, regardless of immigration status, cuts down on feelings of harassment and ill will towards people far from home, and no matter if they are just a student, tourist or worker, doing us a favor by buying goods supporting their regional economy. Of course we need to deport illegal people causing mayhem, people who have warrants here or in their own country, yet it is equally important to confirm who you are deporting, to prevent embarrassments, tragedies like what happened above or worse. Because this is what happens in the zealotry of politicians not wanting to look soft on immigration, innocent people get caught in the middle and we lose both credibility and investment capital                                                                        








Campaign Reality Check Wealth, Education And Beyond

It seems every election season there is a debate surrounding at least one candidate and their wealth, one candidate and their Ivy League education, which candidate is telling the truth or most of it.  From how they made their money, did they inherit it, to how much they pay, or rather don’t pay, in taxes, to where they put their money; do they have any of it in offshore accounts, to who’s an elitist to who’s morals meet our standards.  This time around it’s no different and singled out is one Mitt Romney, republican presidential candidate, making headlines for flubbing a debate question about releasing his income tax returns, eventually saying he would do so in April, at tax season, when candidates traditionally do so. Earning flack for not doing it now so South Carolina voters can vote fully informed. Further raising eyebrows by disclosing he pays closer to the lowest tax rate than that of most Americans around 15% due to much of his money coming from investments rather than earned income. Analysts wasted no time pointing out he didn’t do himself any favors by also telling media he made some income but not much in speaking fees; not much being 374,000 dollars; opponents quick to jump on Romney as out of touch with poor, struggling people in this country, a cross between Gordon Gekko and Richie Rich. But is the depiction accurate; better yet, how does it differ from any other politician, running for any other office in recent modern history? Mitt Romney may be wealthy, ridiculously so by some standards, but so is everyone else running for office today, right down to the person currently sitting in the White House, also pegged the elitist in the coming election.

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However in this case it’s who specifically is doing the calling out, among his political rivals, that casts suspicion on the finger pointing, coupled with their own actions; Newt Gingrich was one of the first to pounce on Romney’s pronouncement about his taxes using it as a moment to proclaim perhaps it’s time there was a flat tax rate for everyone at 15%. The same Gingrich making thousands in speaking fees himself, the same Gingrich, paid 1.6 million by now defunct  Freddie Mac, the same Gingrich who owed up to half a million dollars to a New York Tiffany’s jewelry store.  Many people would no doubt like to see his tax returns as well, that could very easily house bigger skeletons than the just released Romney returns citing 42 million in income over 2 years, 7 million given to charities or the 14% taxes paid because the income was derived from investments not employment. In fact that skeleton did come, when Gingrich’s contract with Freddie Mac was released showing he was not a historian as he claimed but as a consultant reporting directly to the top government lobbyist for the company; while he insists he was not a lobbyist for the mortgage giant, experts have been quick to point out the expanded definition of lobbying, as it applies to this situation, that includes preparation, research or assistance related to lobbying. Of course Gingrich is far from the first politician to stretch the truth or try to put their truth in the most favorable light; however, it is somewhat insulting to the voters to hear him decry super PACs, like he decries so many other things, while using one no less, go into town halls and say he wants to reform running for public office so the average person can do so, meaning taking the money out of politics, only to find out he’s no different than anyone else to ever run. It is equally insulting to hear his comments on work, food stamps and welfare, teaching the poor to work, get a job, get a better job, was part of a debate line, when he hasn’t held an average job in years, doesn’t remember what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, if he ever did. 

 Other political hay has been made about Mitt Romney having money in the Cayman Islands, a recently closed Swiss bank account; painting it as a picture of another wealthy someone stashing money away to avoid paying larger taxes. Despite Romney insisting that he pays the same rate there as he would here at home. Further Romney has been open about the tax rate he pays, and until the political and public outcry went forth, was planning to release his tax returns in April like several office runners have done before, according to tradition, something elections are steeped in. Unlike Mr. Gingrich who comes off as a person who thought he’d be clever releasing the contract, to compete with Romney’s disclosure, apparently thinking no one would notice what his job title was or what that meant contrasted with what he said, making it look like he tried to hide it. And don’t think this only applies to front runners right now; it is reasonable to assume Rick Perry’s wealth, allowing him to run for office, came from Texas oil, but no, not quite; make that Texas land. A series of well-placed land deals have provided him the opportunity to go from accumulating modest thousands in annual income to achieving numbers just over the million mark, though analysts strongly suspect his political influence and connections played a part in that.  Herman Cain was successful a motivational speaker doing dozens of speaking engagements having written at least one book and hocking another one while on the campaign trail. Give it another year or so and we will no doubt see a book talking about how race brought down his bid for the White House, not his womanizing ways, wacky tax plan or shaky foreign policy. Dr. Paul, now senator Paul ranks 105 out of 430 something house members in terms of wealth 75% of that coming from investments in real-estate, mining, income estimates in the millions.

People quickly forget, if they ever realized, that these people, political office holders aren’t making their money from typical means, your average 9-5 where they go into an office every day, work construction, push a broom, do accounting, telemarketing; neither do they have the typical investments average American’s participate in surrounding retirement, 401K portfolio investments tied to the stock market, whether we like it or not, something you sign up with via your employer and they make most of the decisions, give you possible stock options and you are at the mercy of the market. Instead public office holders, at least by the time they make a legitimate bid for leader of the free world, have bought land, have invested in real-estate. The only candidates having held anything close to a regular job in recent years are struggling runners like Rick Santorum and John Huntsman in the form of rental properties they of course collected rent from, but likewise had to maintain and be property managers of, translating into some sort of work the American people can identify with. Yet by the time they make it to running for president they have amassed wealth doing consulting work, sitting on a board of directors in Santorum’s case, speaking fees in the cases of both Romney and Gingrich, and a healthy dose of family money for Mr. Huntsman. As per what people have long both suspected and known, these are not just frugal people building a million over a lifetime, clipping coupons, living in what many would consider thread bare ways to buy a house with cash, cars with cash similar to couples featured on the morning shows. These are not people possessing a Dugger work ethic largely doing the work as a family; turning properties over for rent determined to do right by people. These are persons who have found smart, many would say, smart-alecky ways to make money using other people’s money; who have figured out how to make money without really putting in a day’s work physically, intellectually or creatively.    

Again it’s the conversations not being had; candidates are too focused on tax rates, tax returns paid and submitted by their fellow runners to notice not one of them has done anything illegal. At the same time no other politician currently running for office has used this as an opportunity to champion tax code reform, other than the president, so we no longer have a tax system rewarding millionaires, so the wealthiest among us are no longer getting tax subsidies in the form of home mortgage deductions spread across multiple homes, just to name one, and pay their fair share. No one, not even the so called Buffett rule, has put forth the idea that earned income, investment income it should all be taxed at the same percentage; if anything the break given to those generating earned income, as it means they are employed, not even Mr. more Americans need to work.  Instead the only thing said, apart from mudslinging, was the Gingrich suggestion of a flat 15% tax, a known boon for millionaires, billionaires, at minimum keeping their tax rate the same, lock step with republican rhetoric saying give the wealthy tax breaks so they can go create jobs. Forgoing the fact the uber wealthy don’t create jobs small businesses do; hints Obama’s state of the union comments on raising taxes for millionaires to give incentives to small businesses to be able to start in the first place.  Neither has anyone stood up for the average, struggling, disenfranchised American populous and put forth the concept making it illegal to place your money in offshore accounts, Cayman Islands, Swiss banks, whatever, whether you’re running for office or not, whether you’re a politician, the CEO of a mega corporation or a person who just won the lottery. Rather than opening that dialog, top competitors hoping to become our next commander and chief only look down their nose at the ones who do use legal avenues at their disposal for handling their money. And our closest to real work candidates have no shot at the nomination never mind the White House because of their bizarre, unpopular, unhelpful views. Mr. Santorum who believes part of solving social security is increasing our birthrate by disallowing abortions; one could guess on the premise more people would then be paying into it. Mr. Huntsman who wants to end capital gains taxes, virtually translating into the wealthy paying no tax at all, because they have no earned income.  

Once more sidestepping the real conversation was arguably the loudest candidate, former speaker Gingrich calling recent Romney attack ads, questions about his Freddie Mac contract and opposition from the establishment of his own party the last desperate attempt by the old guard to throw everything and the kitchen sink at him, because he intends to change the establishment. Yet, lesser of the two evils though it may be, people should be rooting for the old guard, perhaps republicans rooting for the democratic guard, because the old guard isn’t going to try to put our 11-13 year olds to work first as school cooks and janitors then relax labor laws everywhere so poor children get the short end of the education stick the moment they can earn money for their family. The old guard isn’t mocking desperate people on food stamps and talking about teaching poor people to work, as if they don’t know how, insulting minorities asserting they should demand paychecks instead. While ironically pushing grandiose, ridiculous ideas about putting a colony on the moon by his second term, no plan on how to pay for it though, as too many struggle to get by. Neither are they confusing food stamps with other programs trying to lump stipends for the disabled and mentally ill in the same category as welfare, also known as something to be gotten rid of ASAP.  Or his latest, what could almost be called racial epithet, in calling Spanish the language of the ghetto, parallel to pushing English as the national language of government; one could suppose in an effort to save a few dollars printing important documents in native tongues of immigrants. Because we wouldn’t want them to understand a citizenship exam or a driving test to get a job, before they could speak perfect English. Likewise off the table by establishment republicans upending Medicare Medicaid and social security for current or future generations, making working people, who’ve saved all they can all their lives, nervous. Nor is it just long serving members of politics and the Republican Party who do not want Gingrich as the GOP nominee, see it as a blight on the prospects of the party; many freshman along with woman law makers oppose him fearing he could damage the chances of republicans vying for lower offices across the country with his off the wall ideas.

Similarly are the long standing rhetorical claims president Obama is an elitist; all of the participants in the GOP primary are college educated, at nationally known institutions,  most holding MA’s, PHD’s or specialty degrees in law or medicine, people who, though they may have come from humble beginnings, have assuredly risen above them to notoriety and wealth. Fact is Joe plumber, now a symbol of working America, his tax bracket has never made it to the White House democrat, republican, independent or member of a lesser fringe party; none of them quit traditional day jobs to run for the highest office in the land. Leaving people with choices that are all essentially from the same pile wealthy, well-educated and yes pegged as out of touch with people who work themselves to the bone to get by, people worried about retirement or so busy just trying to survive they can’t think that far ahead. So as American’s we then have to choose who is right for us; the people who think billionaires create jobs ergo let’s give them more tax breaks, or the guy currently holding that sacred office who says, liar though he may be, trying to get reelected though he may be, people like himself making 250,000 a year or more should pay more in taxes. We have to decide do we want a leader of the free world unwilling to give up on clean, renewable energy, just because one company failed, a leader who says no harming the environment in small localities for self-reliant energy sources or those who want more drilling, more hydrofracking sans consequences. The question becomes do we want a commander and chief who understands the hard times and the welfare programs that separate us from third world countries or someone who mixes up their facts, puts largely government facilitated misfortune on the average person, who is so interested in competition he’d rather put people on the moon? Speaking of competition, it’s either a leader who understands global market dynamics and education or persons who think putting teens and tweens to work will do the trick, restoring local education control resulting in a hodgepodge across the country. The choice really is ours; pick your candidate.