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June 5, 2009

POLL: Regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, Is Obama "Old Wine in a New Bottle?"

In his conversation with Bill Moyers, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill was critical of President Obama’s use of private military contractors and his war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think what we’re seeing, under President Barack Obama, is sort of old wine in a new bottle. Obama is sending one message to the world, but the reality on the ground, particularly when it comes to private military contractors, is that the status quo remains from the Bush era... There’s no question that Obama inherited an absolute mess from President Bush, but the reality is that Obama is escalating the war in Afghanistan right now and is maintaining the occupation of Iraq... You have hundreds of people held without charges. You have people that are being denied access to the Red Cross in violation of international law. And you have an ongoing position by the Obama administration, formed under Bush, that these prisoners don't have a right to habeas corpus... The fact is that this man is governing over a policy that is killing a tremendous number of civilians.”

We invite you to take our poll and share your thoughts in the space below.

May 21, 2009

POLL: Do You Support the Obama Administration’s Health Coverage Proposal?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

In the JOURNAL’s exploration of health care this week, Bill Moyers’ guests were critical of the Obama administration’s health care strategy, which Reuters summarized as follows:

“Obama urged Congress to make sure any healthcare reform bill lowered costs, let Americans choose their own doctor and health plan and ensured quality, affordable care for everyone... Obama's proposal would establish a new government health insurance plan to compete with private insurers and cover the uninsured, but many Republicans and insurers argue that would undermine the private healthcare market.”

Single-payer advocate Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the nonpartisan public interest group PUBLIC CITIZEN told Bill Moyers that plans similar to what Obama is proposing have failed on the state level:

“In seven states, ranging from Washington to Minnesota to Maine, they have tried what amounts to a mixture of a private and a public plan. And in none of the states has there been any sustained reduction in the number of uninsured. It's way too expensive. As long as you have private plans in there, everybody still has to do all the bookkeeping and everything. So, it has failed. As Einstein said, ‘The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again, and expecting to have a different result.’ We've seen the same unsatisfactory, unacceptable result, in state after state after state after state after state, why mess up the whole country with it?”

We invite you to take our poll and share your thoughts in the space below.

April 24, 2009

POLL: On the Economy, Do Reformers Have Enough Momentum to Change the Status Quo?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers asked legal scholar Michael Perino and economist Simon Johnson for their thoughts on Congress’ proposed independent commission to explore what went wrong with the economy and how to prevent it from happening again. Johnson and Perino were skeptical that such a commission would change the status quo in the public interest.

Perino said:

“If you look back at the history of financial regulation, you see the same pattern over and over again. There are always huge biases toward the status quo. People want to keep the structure the way it is because it’s worked well for them. And it’s only when there’s some crisis occurring that the forces for reform are strong enough to overcome the status quo... It sometimes becomes very easy to obscure the broader causes of a financial crisis by doing a little finger pointing and saying ‘Ah ha, here’s the bad person. We found them and, you know, we can move on...’ Unless the political support is there, it's going to be very easy to wind things up without doing much.”

Johnson said:

“I think the banks have control of the state... They got the bailout, they got the money they needed to stay in business, they got a vast line of credit from the taxpayer... they got everything they wanted... If the economy turns around, even if we get a recovery that’s not completely convincing but we sort of feel like we're not falling, and we're not having the massive unemployment of the '20s and '30s, the pressure will come off the banks. They know this. This is why they think they won. They faced down the dangers and they've gone through this difficult phase, and they came through it stronger than ever.”

What do you think? Take our poll and share your thoughts in the space below.

February 13, 2009

POLL: Do You Support President Obama's Stimulus Plan?

Last week on THE JOURNAL, Bill Moyers mentioned some recent polling that suggests public support for President Obama’s economic stimulus plan has been eroding:

“Support for the economic recovery plan working its way through Congress has fallen again this week. For the first time, a plurality of voters nationwide oppose the $800-billion-plus plan. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 37% favor the legislation, 43% are opposed, and 20% are not sure. Two weeks ago, 45% supported the plan. Last week, 42% supported it. Opposition has grown from 34% two weeks ago to 39% last week and 43% today... Related survey data shows that half the nation’s voters say the plan that finally emerges from Congress may end up doing more harm than good.

What do you think? Take our poll and respond in the space below.

December 26, 2008

How Much Is There Beyond Our Differences?

This week, the JOURNAL presented BEYOND OUR DIFFERENCES, a film that explores the commonalities that unify mankind's religious and spiritual traditions, focusing on the universal threads of hope for positive change and healing throughout the world’s cultures.

We invite you to discuss in the space below.

September 12, 2008

Poll: Has The Press Scrutinized The Candidates Equally?

In this week’s JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with journalists Les Payne and Brooke Gladstone about the media and the upcoming elections.

Gladstone said that press coverage revolves around sensationalism:

“This [election coverage] isn’t about relative importance. This is about celebrity. This is about putting your finger in the air and following the public mood. Is it news? No. Is it an audience generator? Yes.”

We invite you to discuss in the space below.

September 5, 2008

POLL: Did The Republican National Convention Address Your Concerns?

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with media and politics expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson about the Republican National Convention.

What issues are on top of your agenda? How would you rate the convention speakers' handling of them?

August 29, 2008

POLL: Did The Democratic National Convention Address Your Concerns?

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with NATION editor Katrina Van Heuvel and political science scholar Adolph Reed, Jr. about what issues the Democratic National Convention addressed - and which ones it didn't.

What issues are on top of your agenda? How would you rate the convention speakers' handling of them?

August 22, 2008

Poll: Are Extravagant Conventions Appropriate In Hard Times?

This week, the JOURNAL visited Denver’s suburbs ahead of next week’s lavish Democratic National Convention to look at how ordinary families are faring behind the election-year hoopla.

Resident Marsha Brown said:

“At first I thought the food bank program was for homeless people, but [I've] come to find out it's for regular people that fall on hard times.”

We invite you to discuss in the space below.

June 6, 2008

POLL: Is It Possible To Run A Race-Neutral Campaign In America?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

In this week’s JOURNAL, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Ron Walters discussed how race has affected the presidential election process and the media’s coverage thereof.

Jamieson said:

“I heard a commentator say, when Senator Obama announced, that he’s running to be 'the first black president'... He’s running to be our president, the president of all of us. And to some extent to say that he’s running to be 'the first black president,' I knew what the commentator meant, but I thought that is problematic for that candidacy.”

We invite you to discuss in the space below.

May 16, 2008

Poll: You, Your Friends, and Politics

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with a couple unusually impacted by this year’s bruising battle for the Democratic nomination – law professors Christopher Edley, Jr. and Maria Echaveste, who are advising Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, respectively.

What do you think? Have political stances and conflicts affected your personal relationships?

We invite you to discuss in the space below.

May 9, 2008

Poll: Is 'Universal Health Care' Feasible?

This week, the JOURNAL followed the California Nurses Association (CNA), a union calling for change in America’s health care system. CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said:

“There shouldn’t be a double standard. There should be an excellence in care that applies to all people. We, as the public, pay for Dick Cheney’s care. Why is the government not providing the same type of care to all Americans?"

There are fundamental disagreements about federal action to try and create a national system for universal health care, including the basic question of whether such a system is even feasible. We invite you to discuss in the space below.

May 2, 2008

Poll: The Experts Speak?

Authors Victor Navasky and Christopher Cerf were on THE JOURNAL this week to discuss their new book, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! OR HOW WE WON THE WAR IN IRAQ. The latest from Cerf and Navasky’s satirical “Institute of Expertology,” which previously published THE EXPERTS SPEAK: THE DEFINITIVE COMPENDIUM OF AUTHORITATIVE MISINFORMATION, the book is an in-depth examination of five years of expert commentary on Iraq. Regarding experts, Navasky said:

“The format of journalism is that you quote someone on one side, and then you quote someone on the other, and you pick experts. And the theory [is] that if you get two people who, as we found out in THE EXPERTS SPEAK, are experts who are wrong, that somehow you’re gonna get the truth out of that.”

What do you think? We invite you to discuss in the space below.

January 4, 2008

Media and the Presidential Election

(Photos by Robin Holland)

In her conversation with Bill Moyers on this week’s JOURNAL, Kathleen Hall Jamieson discussed the media's influence on ‘outsider’ candidates like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich:

"Those two have provided a clear alternative in the debates and expanded the range of discourse within each political party. Alternative parties don’t get to have debates. They don’t get that kind of television coverage. We don’t have any way to have those ideas percolate back into the mainstream. We don’t have any way for the public to see that those are legitimate and viable options and as a result, potentially, to rally behind them. And so, when those voices are marginalized, where people are taken out of the debate, that’s problematic for the process.”

Dennis Kucinich agrees. Having been rejected from THE DES MOINES REGISTER debate before the Iowa caucuses and now the ABC News debate before New Hampshire, Kucinich tells Moyers:

"How can you have a debate if you don’t have a voice that challenges all the others? Right now every other Democrat on that stage will be for keeping our troops in Iraq through at least 2013. Every other Democrat on the stage will be there to keep a for-profit healthcare system going with all of these Americans who don’t have coverage. Everyone else on the stage will be there for the continuation of NAFTA and the WTO. I mean, my position on the American political scene is to show people there’s a whole different direction that America can take here at home and in the world. And the Democratic Party in narrowing the choices and the media in trying to block the point of view that I represent is really doing a disservice to the American people.”

What do you think?

  • Do you agree that media and its political coverage has too great an influence on the elections?

  • Does mainstream media effectively serve the public interest in elections and create informed voters? If not, what are ways in which it can improve?

  • Do you think we have too many or too few debates? Are we including enough participants in the debates?

  • December 7, 2007

    Poll: Where do you get your election news?

    Take our poll and then discuss by commenting below.

    August 23, 2007

    Poll: Net Freedom or Limitation?

    One important aspect of the complicated issue of net neutrality relates to whether stricter regulations on Internet providers could have an adverse effect on developing new web innovation. Read this opinion below:

    Mr. and Ms. Consumer are starting to demand a lot from their Internet. They want on-demand movies. Voice-over-Internet telephone service. Streaming live video. And, very soon no doubt, a lot of data-rich services that we haven't even heard of yet. Those sorts of services will require Internet providers - like, yes, the telecoms and the cable firms - to invest enormously in expanding the pathways for that coming flood of data. If we want movies (and we do) and if we want streaming video (and we do), then someone must pay for the huge infrastructure improvements necessary to deliver those innovative services into our offices and homes. Government-enforced "net neutrality" would stifle that innovation. It would temper the consumer-driven imperative to make the Internet work faster and better."

    - "'Net Neutrality' Would Stifle Innovation," editorial, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, June 26, 2006

    But Jeff Chester of THE NATION disagrees:

    "According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out...If we permit the Internet to become a medium designed primarily to serve the interests of marketing and personal consumption, rather than global civic-related communications, we will face the political consequences for decades to come. Unless we push back, the "brandwashing" of America will permeate not only our information infrastructure but global society and culture as well."

    - "The End of the Internet?," Jeff Chester, THE NATION

    Learn more about net neutrality here.

    What do you think? Answer our poll question then debate the topic below:

    August 8, 2007

    Poll: Civil Liberties and National Security

    Constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein states:

    “Most important thing for the American people to know is that the great genius of the founding fathers, their revolutionary idea, with the chief mission of the state is to make you and them free to pursue their ambitions and faculties. Not to build empires, not to aggrandize government. That's the mission of the state, to make them free, chart their own destiny. And the burden is on the government to try to understand why that freedom has to be curtailed for a security purpose or otherwise.”

    Photo: Robin Holland

    Answer our poll question, then debate the topic below.

    July 19, 2007

    Poll: The Yes Men

    Answer our poll question, then debate the topic below.

    June 29, 2007

    Poll: Financial Downturn Ahead?

    Answer our poll question, then debate the topic below.

    June 15, 2007

    Poll: Are Unions Over?

    Answer our poll question, then debate the topic below.

    May 17, 2007

    Poll: Free Trade

    Answer our poll question, then debate the topic below.

    May 9, 2007

    Poll: Separation of Church and State

    Answer our poll question, then debate the topic below.

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