Friday, October 20, 2006


Media Ownership Rules

A message from, passed on from Joan Porte…

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Jan. 7 that the U.S. Solicitor General will not appeal the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision in Prometheus Radio Project vs. Federal Communications Commission to the Supreme Court.

That decision rejected the FCC rules issued in June 2003 that would have significantly loosened media ownership caps (details). Barring the unlikely event that the Supreme Court takes up the case anyway, the FCC now must go back to the drawing board and restart the entire rulemaking process.

We haven’t won yet. The industry lobbyists and their allies on the commission will try to sneak the same policies through the back door. The only thing that will stop them is if the millions of Americans who opposed media consolidation in 2003 remain vigilant.

Now is the time to demand the FCC take citizen input seriously. Add your voice!

Join thousands of other citizens in insisting that the FCC hold a public hearing in their states. With enough people taking direct action, the FCC will have no choice but to hear our message: Media should serve the public interest — not the bottom line of big corporations.


to demand a hearing in VA

Over the past few months, Members of the FCC have taken part in official public hearings and unofficial town meetings in selected cities across the country. These hearings have provided a critical forum for average citizens to talk back to the FCC and the media in their communities. To ensure citizen input in its policymaking, the FCC should hold similar events in all 50 states.

Demand the FCC listen to citizens when it makes policy!

Demand an official hearing in Virginia!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The Tao of Governing

Stephen Mitchell has translated the Tao Te Ching of Lao-tzu with a degree of poetic reinterpretation. Here are verses 60 and 61, which give Taoist advice to those who govern:

Verse 60:

Governing a large country
is like frying a small fish.
You spoil it with too much poking.

Center your country in the Tao
and evil will have no power.
Not that it isn't there,
but you'll be able to step out of its way.

Give evil nothing to oppose
and it will disappear by itself.

Verse 61:

When a country obtains great power,
it becomes like the sea:
all streams run downward into it.
The more powerful it grows,
the greater the need for humility.
Humility means trusting the Tao,
thus never needing to be defensive.

A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults
as his most benevolent teachers.
He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts.

If a nation is centered in the Tao,
if it nourishes its own people
and doesn't meddle in the affairs of others,
it will be a light to all nations in the world.

It’s a lovely translation, although very different in places from more literal ones. For example, James Legge’s translation of Verse 61, available online:

The Attribute of Humility.

1. What makes a great state is its being (like) a low-lying, down-flowing (stream);-- it becomes the centre to which tend (all the small states) under heaven.

2. (To illustrate from) the case of all females:-- the female always overcomes the male by her stillness. Stillness may be considered (a sort of) abasement.

3. Thus it is that a great state, by condescending to small states, gains them for itself; and that small states, by abasing themselves to a great state, win it over to them. In the one case the abasement leads to gaining adherents, in the other case to procuring favour.

4. The great state only wishes to unite men together and nourish them; a small state only wishes to be received by, and to serve, the other. Each gets what it desires, but the great state must learn to abase itself.

I would have thought that Mitchell’s reinterpretation of Verse 61 was a specific rebuke to the current administration, were it not that it was published in 1988.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Lewis Lapham said:

Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Abraham Lincoln on Preventive War

Another cross-posting From the Rachel:

Abraham Lincoln, a freshman Congressman, was quite aggressive in criticizing President Polk in 1848 for the initiation of the Mexican War. Back in Illinois, his law partner, William Herndon, wrote to express concern that he was going too far. Herndon argued that the president must be the “sole judge” of whether it is necessary to engage in a preventive attack. In a letter to Herndon dated 2/15/1848, Lincoln replied:

Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purposes, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, “I see no probability of the British invading us”; but he will say to you, “Be silent; I see it, if you don’t.”

The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter and places our President where kings have always stood.

Further discussion of this may be found in Geoffrey R. Stone's Perilous Times.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?