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My Experiment With Rep. Robert Wexler on Fixing One Media Flaw That Angers A Lot of Viewers/Listeners

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ANSWER TO QUESTIONS REGARDING H. Con. Res. 362

(A) H. Con. Res. 362 does not in any way "authorize the use of force":

* To reiterate your own point nothing in this resolution "shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran." ANSWER: First and foremost H. Con. Res. 362 is a non-binding resolution which is only a statement/expression of Congress without any force of law.

* Following the disastrous Iraq war and the Bush Administration's criminal abuse of Executive powers, I am not willing -- along with the overwhelming majority of my colleagues -- to give President Bush congressional approval for the use of force in Iran. This resolution could not be clearer on this point and it is one of the main reasons I cosponsored this resolution.

* I do not believe that the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq provides President Bush the authority to preemptively strike Iran without the consent of Congress. The bottom line is that President Bush must get congressional authorization before any military strike against Iran. If he exceeds his authority it will be up to Congress to hold him accountable. As a member of Congress who openly supports impeachment proceedings against the President and Vice President, I am more than ready to use the full force of Congress and law to prevent the President from once again over stepping his legal authority.

* The goal of the resolution is to place additional economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran instead of giving this President any authority to use force. Given my distrust of the President I am also a sponsor of H. R. 3119, which if passed into law would prohibit the use of funds for military operations in Iran unless authorized by Congress. We have a responsibly in Congress to prevent this reckless President from unilaterally attacking Iran; and, this legislation (H.R. 3119) sends a clear message that Congress will not give Mr. Bush a blank check and that we support a policy of international diplomatic engagement rather than military force.


(B) H. Con. Res. 362 does not call for or enable the President to act unilaterally w/out international support:

* With respect to the arguments that this resolution gives carte blanche authority to the President to conduct unilateral acts against Iran – this is not the case. In the third resolved clause Congress "Demands" ("not ask or urge but demands") that the "President initiate an international effort." This language is specific clearly stating that Congress demands that the Mr. Bush engage in an international diplomatic effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. As a member of Congress who strongly supports American/European Union and United Nation diplomatic efforts to end Tehran's enrichment of Uranium - I oppose unilateral actions that would further isolate America. Instead I support direct American engagement with Iran alongside our European allies.

* Furthermore, as the authors of the resolution stated in a June 25 letter in response charges of unilateral American action, "These assertions are absolutely false and, frankly, utter nonsense," Ackerman and Pence wrote. "The resolution states plainly and distinctly that "nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran;" the economic sanctions the President is urged to seek are explicitly placed in an international context; and the methods contemplated for achieving these sanctions are no different than those currently being employed to implement existing UN Security Council sanctions on Iran, namely enforcement of export controls by UN member states within their own borders."

This was an experiment. The question: Can unanswered questions which arise on a live broadcast, with not enough time to ask them live, be answered?

The experiment worked. We got an answer. We’ve published it in an article by Cheryl Brien-Wright-- If Increased Sanction Resolution 362 Could Give Bush License for a Naval Blockade, Why Support It?

And here I am writing about it. It’s a different level of conversation that goes into greater depth than the sound byte that broadcast news or radio allows.

This is doable. I’d like to see it start a precedent. And it doesn’t have to just be a question that the anchor/interviewer comes up with. It would be a big step towards a better Media if the MSM encourage viewers and listeners also suggest questions.

It would be a big step forwards if interviewees came with expectations that they would participate in post interview responses. It’s not reasonable to expect responses to a lot of questions, but it is reasonable to ask for responses to a few questions, hopefully pulled together from the interviewer AND listeners/viewers by the production and editorial staff of the show where the initial interview aired.

This would not just be a clerically annoying task. It would give interviewees a chance to flesh out their answers and add additional comments and nuances, including comments that go beyond the answers to the questions. It would let interviewers drill deeper to get to the heart of the matter. Some interviewees would duck and weave and continue to avoid answering questions. But some will embrace the opportunity and perhaps even, as it appears Wexler did, dig up additional info that adds to the picture.

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I give Rep. Wexler a lot of credit for stepping up to the plate on this, especially regarding a thorny issue that puts him on the horns of a dilemma between his liberal base, which clearly opposes this resolution and the 60% of his supporters in his district who are Jewish and who see strong support as Israel as a major issue. By the way, part of the way Cheryl and I addressed the whole Israel/AIPAC Jewish lobby issue was to ask progressive Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, for his take on the bill and the Iran Israel situation. His response was so good; we published it too, as this article Why They Are Seeking a Blockade of Iran

What we’ve done here doesn’t answer all the questions and there will be readers who are not satisfied with Wexler’s response. I am certain there are many who will see anything other than withdrawal of his sponsorship for the bill as less than adequate. But we’ve don’t something here that bears repeating. If I can do it, so can Bob Schieffer, Wolf Blitzer, Joe Scarborough, Keith Olbermann, Dan Abrams, George Stephanopolous, Tom Brokaw and a host of other people who never have enough time to ask all the questions they’d like to or should. One might argue that TV magazines, like 60 Minutes and 20-20 already do the follow-up. But they make up a tiny portion of the news.

The interesting thing is, this will be a low cost, but very profitable endeavor for the MSM networks that should dramatically increase their web traffic. And it could lead to news breakthroughs and content that are very significant, even headline worthy.

The internet is changing the world. The bottom up approach to politics won the election for Obama, and it is already changing the way news is done. Adding web published follow-ups to broadcast interviews that don’t get to the bottom of things is a great way to make the media more bottom up, more open and deeper. I wonder if any of the interviewers I mentioned above will try it. I think they’ll like it. This is so easy, with so much potential to improve the quality of TV journalism; it’s hard to imagine why they don’t all jump on this. 

Last, I'll try giving this idea a name. Call it a  broadcast net-follow-up. 

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

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Rob Kall's Bottom Up Radio Show: Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

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