Larry Flynt

Archive for January, 2013

Obama’s State of the Union Address

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Larry Flynt -  State Of Union

(Courtesy of Larry Flynt)

I am Barack Obama. I am the President. I am relevant. I know who elected me. It wasn’t the rich 1%. It was hardworking Americans, union members and minority groups who haven’t gotten the fair shake they deserve. I will keep the promises I made. My word is good.

To the wealth class of this country, let me say this: You supported my Republican rival Mitt Romney four-to-one against me. Now it’s payback time. I will end the Bush tax cuts for top earners and push through comprehensive regulation of our corrupt banking and financial systems. The era of unfettered greed is over.

I will halt unjust home foreclosures, protect Social Security and Medicare and relieve the crushing burden of student debt on our young professionals. I will enact labor-union reforms that will restore bargaining power and fair representation to our working class.

I will push for nonpartisan election reform to end voter suppression and make states abide by fair-voting rules. People will no longer have to wait in line for hours or endure lies and humiliation just to exercise their fundamental democratic right. I will embark on immigration reform and build a clear and just pathway to citizenship for anyone coming here to participate in the American Dream.

The frequency of powerful and destructive storms leaves no doubt that climate change is real and that humans are the cause. The United States must take the lead in moving humanity toward a clean-fuel future. I will say no to destructive fossil-fuel pipelines and drilling, spur investment in green technology and work with the world’s leaders to seal meaningful environmental agreements.

I will create incentives for investment in new industries, such as biotech and next-generation communications technology, that further the cause of scientific progress and keep America competitive.

If you think I can’t do all this with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, watch me. I’ll be reaching across the aisle—but only to welcome you to my side, not to compromise. I will veto any piece of legislation that comes across my desk that does not have the best interests of the American people at heart.


Selling Out to Big Brother

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

by Robert Scheer for HUSTLER Magazine

The most sacred principle of American life, honored in our Constitution and throughout our history, is that of privacy—or as Larry Flynt puts it, “the right to be left alone.” But thanks to the information revolution, the government’s assault on privacy is now more pervasive, though largely invisible, than ever under any preexisting totalitarian government.

The tools of intrusion are so varied—beginning with Google searches and Facebook “likes” and extending to cellphone-position locators—that a full accounting of the postwiretap- era intrusion is not possible. But recent data on just one of the snooping techniques involving cellphones mocks the relatively minuscule power of any previous fascist or communist government to spy on its citizens.

Unbounded by the strict restraints that used to govern telephone wiretaps of old, today’s high-tech telecommunication companies are required by law to cooperate with all federal and state surveillance requests. We know just how pervasive that snooping through cellphone data is thanks to Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts), co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, who released the government’s report to the New York Times.

“In the first public accounting of its kind,” the Times stated, “cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year [2011] from law-enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.” Because all of this surveillance has been conducted under the cloak of deepest government secrecy, there is no serious accountability as to why our right to privacy is being trampled upon so cavalierly. Indeed, as the Congressional report indicates, millions of us who are not even the target of any investigation are swept up in this surveillance. It’s more convenient for government snoops to make massive data dumps from cell towers, sweeping up all users in their wake rather than just isolating the person or persons suspected of malfeasance. Nor do the previous restraints on wiretapping that required a court order apply to these broad sweeps, which are clearly in violation of our Bill of Rights protections of individual freedom from arbitrary government intrusion.

Wiretapping of the kind you witnessed in old movies, with cops next door listening in on calls, is a thing of the past in the day of the cellphone. In 2011 that only happened 2,732 times, partially because of the inconvenience of needing a strictly governed court order and a surveillance outpost. Why worry about such legal niceties and the technical difficulty of a wiretap when law-enforcement officials can now request a data dump from a tower that happens to link the phone of a single suspect while receiving thousands of other folks’ information. All for the paltry cost of between $50 to $75 an hour they pay the obliging telecom company for the surveillance service.

That cellphone data can tell investigators everything about the life of unsuspecting and unsuspected citizens, from the food they order to the magazines and books they buy—not to mention all of their physical movements. The total totalitarian experience is now eminently affordable.

Technically cellphone carriers are required by federal law to obtain a search warrant, a subpoena or a court order, but that is easily violated in the broad scope of data dumps. In the case of the most rapidly growing intrusion into people’s personal lives, the use of GPS-generated data, there seems to be next to nothing in the way of legal restraint.

And, of course—as the George W. Bush administration established in its manic pursuit of terrorists—any claim that national security is involved gives government agencies full-throated permission to break down the walls around one’s private existence. When telecom companies were sued for cooperating on a massive level with the Bush government in wantonly reading the data of millions of Americans, Congress granted them immunity from lawsuits.

Sprint, the third-largest cellphone carrier, reported that it honors 1,500 data requests a day from federal, state and local police agencies. And since Sprint—like its counterparts— is paid for those searches, company officials are hardly inclined to complain on behalf of their customers, who might not want all of their data turned over.

The leading cellphone carriers have gone along with few complaints. As an AT&T subscriber, I was not thrilled to learn that law-enforcement agencies paid “my” phone company $8.3 million in 2011 to turn over subscriber data. A few of the smaller carriers have resisted. TracFone informed Representative Markey that the company “shares your concerns regarding the unauthorized tracking of wireless phones by law enforcement with little or no judicial oversight, and I assure you that TracFone does not participate in or condone such unauthorized tracking.”

Shouldn’t we all demand our cellphone carriers to endorse that Constitutionally protected standard our government has ruthlessly chosen to shred?

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Before serving almost 30 years as a Los Angeles Times columnist and editor, Robert Scheer spent the late 1960s as Vietnam correspondent, managing editor and editor in chief of Ramparts magazine. Now editor of TruthDig.com, Scheer has written such hardhitting books as The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America and his latest, The Great American Stick-Up: Greedy Bankers and the Politicians Who Love Them.


Time to be Active Citizens

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

by Nat Hentoff

In years to come, no matter who’s President, if America is to remain a self-governing republic, more of us have to be directly engaged in civic life. For example, by working with neighbors to improve and strengthen our communities. But preoccupied by the sorry state of the economy and fear of terrorism that has lingered since 9/11, too many Americans have shirked their responsibility to be active citizens. It’s a shortcoming that must be remedied.

How many of you have heard of the Corporation for National & Community Service or the National Conference on Citizenship? I’m supposed to be a nut on civics but wasn’t aware of those organizations until I read about their disturbing report “Civic Life in America: Key Findings on the Civic Health of the Nation” in a recent Judges’ Journal article by Jason L. S. Raia. He’s vice-president of education at Freedoms Foundation and also serves as Pennsylvania State Coordinator for We The People and Project Citizen.

According to “Civic Life in America,” less than 20% of Americans—aside from voting in elections—participate “in political activities” all the rest of the time. What especially depresses me is that just 3.1% participate “in a protest or demonstration.” Bush, Cheney and Obama have given us so much to protest.

I’ve often asked where the hell are the organized demonstrations in the streets and anywhere else that the Founders expected when they made a point of adding to First Amendment rights “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

More from “Civic Life in America”: “Nearly 60% of suburban and rural residents voted in 2008, while only 53% of urban residents voted.” (I expect those percentages were somewhat higher in the 2010 elections but sank back in 2012.) More surprising to me—considering myself, a lifelong city-dweller, to be hipper than those inhabiting the quiet areas of the country— is this finding: “Rural residents were also more likely to overcome the distance and join [political groups] than urban residents were.” Trying to explain these declines in engaged, participatory civic life, the report’s reasons include: “With stagnation in wages, more people are working longer hours and second or even third jobs to make ends meet, leaving little time for civics engagement.”

“Civic Life in America” makes a useful point that legislatures can do something to increase citizens’ involvement in the electoral process: “The fact that we still vote on a workday instead of Sunday, like many industrialized democracies around the world, makes voting inconvenient and, for some, nearly impossible.”

Ah, finally, the report gets back to a crucial distinction between many voters and non-voters: “More education equates to more likely civics behaviors that benefit our democracy. More than 73% of those who have received a bachelor’s degree voted in 2008 compared to 31% of those who did not complete high school.”

There’s another significant gap in the “Civic Life in America” report: “52% [of the educated] compared to 17% [without a degree] participated in organizations; 42% compared to 9% volunteered and participated in non-electoral political activities, and 14% compared to just 3% worked with a neighbor to fix a community problem.”

Jason L. S. Raia’s valuable article ends too gently: “Further research might discover whether those who demonstrate greater civics engagement are the product of more intensive civics learning in school.”

How could they not? Therefore, it’s imperative that school-board members and principals— some of whom may have flunked a civics class, if indeed such a course was ever offered—uphold a quintessential responsibility of educators. As Supreme Court Justice William Brennan personally told me, to make the Constitution part of the very lives of all students of whatever age. Otherwise, if many more Americans neglect to engage in civic life, the Fourth of July will be commemorated only by a few sadly appreciative citizens mourning the authors of our nation’s most cherished document.

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Nat Hentoff is a historian of the Constitution, a jazz critic and a columnist for the Village Voice and Free Inquiry. His incisive books include The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America and Living the Bill of Rights .


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