Political ads often bend and distort reality to achieve an end. However, emerging tools make it easier than ever to dispel confusion about political TV ads. Enter the Super PAC App: a new mobile application that gives users detailed information about political ads.
The app accomplishes this by using audio fingerprinting software to listen to the campaign ad, and then simply shows what PAC paid for it, provides verification of claims in the ad, and gives links to non-partisan sources to learn more. Users can even rate each ad by “love,” “fair,” “fishy” and “fail.” This is political technology that makes deceiving voters more difficult.
The app isn’t trying to out-perform the many “follow the money” sites like Open Secrets or Politfact. Rather it is designed to make accessing that information much easier. There are some gaps in information that can’t be bridged due to the limited information that Super PACs are required to disclose, but even with these limitations this is a significant and powerful tool.
“We Are the Future Rally” at the Sun Dome at the University
The Sunday before the 2012 RNC, a unique political event took place. Ron Paul's "We Are The Future Rally" drew an overflow crowd of more than 10,000 young people. While the GOP Establishment was busy pushing Ron Paul's delegates to the margins with rule changes, the r3volution was making other plans.
"We Are The Future" isn't just a name; it is a declaration. What we are looking at is a "libertarian long-march," to borrow a Marxist term (it's pay back for stealing the word liberal). What this means is that liberty activists will keep pushing every way they can until a free society is achieved. Some will run for office; others will focus on education and private enterprise; but they will all do their part to fulfill the dream of living free.
Ron Paul in his address at the rally spoke of the changing of eras. This is a powerful idea that gives a broader perspective to the libertarian mission. The Progressive era of big-government corporatism is coming to an end. It is ending not just in policy, but in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Ron Paul announced that we have already entered an age of liberty and we are just seeing the last vestiges of the old guard scrambling to prevent the inevitable.
With that in mind, take a look at this exert from a recent American Conservative article,
What the reactions to Akin’s gaffe ... expose[s] is a fear in the soul of the GOP that history is passing it by and the end may be near.
Eleven years ago today, America was the victim of the most brutal terrorist attack in our history. Nearly 3,000 men, women, and children, were taken from us by “faceless cowards,” who crashed jumbo jets into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and western Pennsylvania (which did not meet its intended target thanks to the heroism of the passengers on board the hijacked United 93.)
We mourned as a nation then, and we still do today, as the peaceful world many of us knew gave way to a world of war, fear, and resolve. As for the area where those 110-story buildings once stood, there will soon be a new building that is as much a tribute to those lost as it is to American resolve and perseverance: One World Trade Center.
For the past eleven years, there had been controversy regarding what should be done at that spot in Lower Manhattan. Should it be a memorial? Should new office buildings go in? Should it remain empty? The architects of that area decided to do both: build a 1,776-foot skyscraper (104 floors) on one side, and two waterfalls and a museum on the other, where the original two towers once stood. The skyscraper, now called One World Trade Center, or the “Freedom Tower''” will be fitting tribute because it represents the spirit of New York City: a place where the world does its business, and free people work to achieve a better life for themselves in a free society.
In case logic gets a little lost this week during part two of the major political parties’ conventions (assuming it was ever there), it might be useful to provide a little primer for those less familiar with political rhetoric. This may help sort through the nonsense (which was always there).
First, notice the use of the word “access.” It’s one of the most used political catchphrases these days. When Party 2 says that Party 1 wants to deny Person X “access” to B, what that means in actuality is that Party 1 has no problem with Person X buying their own B, but it does not want to make a law forcing Persons Y and Z to pay for Person X’s B.
Second, if a politician says they favor “investing” in this or that government program, they really mean they want to spend more money (money the government really doesn’t have these days). When they do not favor the program, they’ll actually call it spending – but maybe add the adjective “wasteful” in front of it for the effect.
Third, watch out when Party 2 says all of our problems are the results of Party 1’s policies, or vice-versa. That is seldom ever really the case. There is plenty of blame to go around to indict both parties.
At the 2012 RNC, a vote was taken for Rules 12 and 16, which basically bind states to a majority-wins-all or proportional delegate distribution (ie. no more "free" delegates). In addition, the free delegates who were at the convention may be replaced by the states by delegates they see as more fit to support the candidates they want, and the RNC chair is given increased ability to change party rules between conventions without the involvement of all the delegates. Read more about the rules changes here.
However, the more notable event was that, as seen in the above video, the teleprompter provided the results of the vote before it was taken!
Any intelligent person should immediately be shocked by this revelation. The obvious conclusion, of course, is that the GOP has developed technology to predict events which haven't occurred yet -- just like in the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report. When will they share this knowledge with the public? Regardless, it is amazing to see how far our democracy has come; we are approaching a mesmerizing era where we can imagine the RNC and DNC providing presidential election results on a grand scale before they happen...possible even before they've introduced the candidates!
Voters are becoming more independent of conventional partisan politics, and young voters in particular are getting harder to squeeze into a red or blue box.
While many voters may feel they have to choose whether they are socially and economically “liberal” or socially and economically “conservative,” more and more young voters are deciding that they can pick and choose their values and how government should work irrespective of party platforms. As an indicator of this trend it look like young voters are abandoning Obama and Romney both:
Finally, in a head-to-head matchup with Romney, Obama wins only 41 percent support, a significant drop from actual votes from this group in 2008.
But the picture isn’t bright for Mitt Romney, either, says Harvard Institute of Politics polling director John Della Volpe:
Although this generation is not as supportive of President Obama and Democrats as they may have been in the historic 2008 campaign, this in no way implies that the Republican Party has successfully captured the hearts, minds, and votes of millennials.
“Millennials” are breaking the mold in other ways. This decline in partisanship is giving rise and prominence to world views previously kept on the margins.
I had a professor in college whose area of research was political parties, their history, and how people identify with them. It was all very interesting, though admittedly I never actually read any of the thesis he had posted among family pictures on his university website.
Anyway, his suggestion for voting was to do the research to determine which party suited you best and then vote straight party ticket. Every decade or so, he said, or during particularly contentious primaries, you might reevaluate how each party and/or candidate aligns with your views — but for the most part, just be a partisan and be done with it.
I can’t say that I was ever swayed by the argument, but it was interesting, nonetheless. I was reminded of it today by this post from worstthatcouldhappen on Tumblr, which another blogger, squashed, responded to. The original post is very brief, and basically argues that you do lots of research and vote based on what you’ve learned about the issues, concluding: “Use logic not emotion when making decisions that effect the rest of the world.”
Squashed’s reply disagreed, advocating that voters simply go with their guts. Considering the issues logically, he writes, is the “wrong tool for the job,” and:
Thinking logically about the issues is not for helping you decide between candidates. By the time you sit down to do your thinking, you’ve already made your decision. The purpose of “thinking logically about the issues” is to help you feel smug about the decision you already made.
I understand the perspective (and the point about feeling smug is too often spot on), but it seems to me that the primary problem with this argument is that it severely discounts the filters through which we receive information about our candidates.
Through the lens of Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke to the crowd at last month's FreedomFest about the growing threat of government intrusion in individuals' lives and the continuous loss of Americans' liberty. Says Sen. Paul:
Last week I asked for a report. ...I wanted to know to what extent your privacy is being invaded. To what extent are they reading your emails? Reading and listening to your phone conversations without a judges warrant? And I can't tell you an answer because it's classified. It's classified how many times they're doing it. But what I think I can get away with saying is that when the government says it's a few hundred, it's closer to a gazillion.
Meanwhile, in a Washington Times column yesterday, Judge Andrew Napolitano expounded on Sen. Paul's speech and the dismal trend of government intrusion and secrecy:
The government gave Mr. Paul the distinct impression that it was afraid of our exercise of our personal freedoms and thus it needs to watch us as we do so. This is the same government whose stated principal purpose is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and thus personal freedom.
Norman Singleton is Rep. Ron Paul’s Legislative Director. He has worked for Dr. Paul since 1997. Once a month, Norm and I meet at Bailey’s Pub & Grill in Arlington, Virginia to discuss two subjects—pro wrestling and libertarian politics.
The first is the primary reason for our meetings. Bailey’s offers monthly WWE pay-per-views which we enjoy thoroughly over cold beer and chicken wings. It is by far the most serious subject we discuss.
Our discussions of libertarianism, or the Ron Paul-inspired “liberty movement,” to which Norm and I both belong, are always interesting. Norm is a diehard libertarian. I am more traditionally conservative. How radical we are in our politics sometimes differs. How practical we are in advancing what some might consider “radical” politics does not.
Austrian economist Murray Rothbard was one of the most brilliant libertarian minds of all time. Rothbard was also considered one of the most radical libertarians of his time. Today, Rothbard’s pure, unadulterated anti-statist philosophy is celebrated by libertarians as heroic and unequaled.
But Rothbard was also very practical about politics. Based on a recent discussion we’d had about the inevitable tensions that come with moving the liberty movement into the mainstream, Norm brought to my attention some old Rothbard columns from his personal collection.
While some radical libertarians eschew politics altogether, believing it compromises their philosophical purity, or that education alone will eventually bring a majority of people to the philosophy of liberty, Rothbard disagreed. He wrote in 1981:
I see no other conceivable strategy for the achievement of liberty than political action. Religious or philosophical conversion of each man and woman is simply not going to work; that strategy ignores the problem of power, the fact that millions of people have a vested interest in statism and are not likely to give it up… Education in liberty is of course vital, but it is not enough; action must also be taken to roll back the State...
The above quote should be of no surprise to anyone remotely familiar with Rothbard. My favorite aspect of Rothbard is that for his entire life, it was never enough to simply be more radical than his fellow libertarian—Rothbard wanted to take political action.
The year is 2012, and, shocking though it ought to be, there are still major public figures who don’t believe in the freedom to express your opinion without government reprisal.
The crisis in free speech was precipitated when Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was asked about his company’s support for “traditional family” organizations. He responded, “Guilty as charged.” Further scrutiny of Chick-fil-A’s charitable donations found that over the last 10 years, the company has funneled as much as $10 million to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.
The response to what some call bigotry has been intense. Many are calling for boycotts of the franchise. Others are calling for government sanctions against the company. According to the Chicago Sun, Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel vowed to block the company’s expansion in Chicago, saying on Wednesday that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.” He continued:
What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it’s not what the people of Chicago believe. We just passed legislation as it relates to civil union and my goal and my hope … is that we now move on recognizing gay marriage. I do not believe that the CEO’s comments…reflect who we are as a city.
Boston mayor Tom Menino, the first mayor to suggest he might block the franchise, sent a letter to Dan Cathy after hearing Cathy’s comments and learning that Chick-fil-A was looking for a location to open a branch in Boston. Menino told Cathy, “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
San Francisco mayor Edwin Lee has suggested that he might take the same stance as Emmanuel and Menino.
Without taking a position on the issue of same-sex marriage, this idea of government retaliation for free speech needs to be addressed.