Thursday, February 12, 2009

The De-Evolution of Talk Radio

A quite hard-hitting post by C. James Thomas on February 12, 2009 in his TPM Blog, he virtually eviscerates right wing radio, of course, he is being attacked as a Marxist, a Leninist who wants to silence the opposition as is the case to what the listeners of what is commonly referred as 'Hate-Radio' do to anybody who brings up the detrimental effects that these shock jocks have on US society as a whole.

A noteworthy aspect of his exposé, is that he is speaking from his own experience as a listener to these talk-radio shows.
Since moving to Dallas I have become an avid talk radio listener since I spend a lot of time driving to and from work. It has turned into a true addiction, as bad as smoking cigarettes. And just like smoking I can't give up this habit even though I know it is bad for me.

I can see why Democrats are pushing to pass the "Fairness Doctrine" as the medium is at times completely out of control. But what I find fascinating is that with each passing hour in the day the talk shows themselves become more and more extreme so that by 11pm that average goober who has been listening all day has become so pumped up with rage they are ready to grab a shotgun and start peppering their local rancher and all his barnyard animals in order to get the hate out of their system.
Yes indeed, we are seeing the effects in the rise of hate crimes against people who are different than them and vulnerable enough to be blamed and attacked for the woes of their listeners, they misdirect their dissatisfaction and frustration to the changes around them, by giving them a target to hate, rather than to look at the real culprits of their predicaments, which ironically are the people that their listeners support and elect into office who literally pick their pockets and worsen their living conditions.

He starts with the initiator of the 'hate radio genre', Rush Limbaugh, whom he (C. James Thomas), inexplicable to me, kind of paints as mainstream while at the same time does recognize his extremism, by comparison with the others, I concede that he may have a valid point.
El Rushbo is the father of conservative talk radio which makes him, in our anthropological descent chain, the original Neanderthal. But Limbaugh is not actually the most extreme guy on the radio dial contrary to what you might believe. He represents mainstream conservative thought and many Republicans share his political beliefs. Limbaugh is a fervent culture warrior who views liberalism as being more dangerous than even foreign threats, like terrorism itself. While that is certainly a sign of political extremism amongst normal Americans that is par for the course when it comes to social conservatives whose hatred of the political left trumps all other hatreds. That's saying a lot considering how many other hatreds the right embraces.
The anti-liberal hate is the issue that I find most vexingly puzzling, the monumental ignorance of the right wing radio audience and their gullibility in believing such false tenets as Michael Savage's "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder" or Hannity's "Deliver us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism." Or Limbaugh's pronouncements that "liberalism as being more dangerous than even foreign threats, like terrorism itself"

A quick review of Liberal positions, the cultural and legislative changes brought about due to their beliefs and deeds, gave us the Labor Movement which in turn gave us the 5 days work week, the 8 hour work day, overtime, weekends off, vacations, sick leave, workplace safety, health benefits for millions, retirement benefits, educational opportunities for other than the wealthy, etc.

And here is the paradox, the shock jocks' audience, are mostly members of the quickly disappearing middle class, blue collar workers and what might be termed, lower class whites, in other words, these are the people who most benefited from Liberal Thought and Action and yet, they hate Liberalism and worship Conservatism.

And if we take a scant look to what the Conservative Thought and Policies have given us, what jumps at us is a Corporatist Agenda, where the lower classes' sole purpose of existence is to enrich the Upper Class, we find that in the 1800s the working and living conditions of the lower classes were miserable, we jump to the Hoover Era and we have a continuation of the conditions in the previous century, culminating with the Great Depression of October 1929 which lasted until under what are considered Liberal Economic Policies, the New Deal was forged and implemented, thus reversing the downturn spiral that the Conservatives / Republicans had brought about.

If we look at one of their biggest heroes, lauded as "America's Greatest President", Ronald Reagan, we can clearly see that the right wingers of the lower class are being sold a bill of goods:

Some of Ronald Reagan's Legacy:
It would be impossible in this space to catalogue all the damage Reagan wrought in eight years. The standard line is that he won the cold war, but elsewhere in this issue Jonathan Schell corrects that notion. It is also worth noting that this man who yearned so much for freedom and democracy in Soviet-bloc nations showed limited concern for democracy and human rights in other parts of the globe. After Democrats and Republicans in Congress passed sanctions against the apartheid government of South Africa, Reagan vetoed the measure. His Administration cuddled up with the fascistic and anti-Semitic junta of Argentina and backed militaries in El Salvador and Guatemala that massacred civilians. It moved to normalize relations with Augusto Pinochet, the tyrant of Chile. Reagan sent George Bush the First to the Philippines, where the Vice President toasted dictator Ferdinand Marcos for fostering "democracy." Pursuing a quasi-secret war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, the Reagan Administration violated international law and circumvented Congress to support contra rebels engaged in human rights abuses and, according to the CIA's own Inspector General, worked with suspected drug traffickers. Reagan covertly sent arms to the mullahs of Iran and courted Saddam Hussein, even after his use of chemical weapons. He appointed officials who claimed nuclear war was winnable, thus raising the chances that miscalculations by the Soviet Union or the United States would plunge the world into chaos.

On the home front Reagan was almost as divisive and disingenuous as the second Bush, as William Greider recounts on page 5. His deficit-causing supply-side tax cuts (derided by the elder Bush as "voodoo economics") were sold with phony numbers and sleight-of-hand accounting. These "trickle-down" tax cuts--coupled with a tremendous boost in military spending--were designed to bankrupt the government, pressuring it to reduce government spending and thereby justifying draconian cuts in social programs. (Remember ketchup as a vegetable?)

Reagan showed little concern for the deindustrialized workers who suffered during the 1980s, and he was actively hostile to unions, firing PATCO air-traffic controllers en masse after they struck for better pay and working conditions. His Attorney General, Edwin Meese, displayed little regard for civil liberties, noting, "You don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime." His Interior Secretary, James Watt, fancied dead trees over live ones. And no one in the Reagan White House appeared to care about a new pandemic that mainly killed homosexuals. Reagan's inaction and bigotry against gays and drug-users led to tens of thousands of deaths that might have been avoided if he had moved earlier.
And today, right wing radio would have you believe in an unparalleled greatness of him (See also The Reagan Legacy: "He was a true believer who moved the country divisively to the right. But compared to the current president, Ronald Reagan looks like a moderate." --
"As the eulogies come down the pike, don't let conservatives, once again, win the ideological struggle to determine mainstream discourse. Remember Reagan; respect him. But don't let them make you revere him. He was a divider, not a uniter"

If we look at the present, we have George W. Bush's familiar Conservative ideas and policies which have not only sunk the US in Economical turmoil but the whole world, Foreign Relations? Do I need to go into it?

One of the latest lies making the circle of right wing radio is the notion that FDR caused the Great Depression, I was tempted to say that they are very good at making their audience believe their misinformation, but on second thought, I think it speaks more to the low level and quality if information in their audience, but in any event, it is so pervasive that even one of the newest Republican Representatives, Steve Austria of Ohio, repeated this lie, worse yet, even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) inaccurately argued that the New Deal “exacerbated the Great Depression.”
“Most historians date the beginning of the Great Depression at or shortly after the stock-market crash of 1929; Roosevelt took office in 1933.” As Dean Baker has explained, “Roosevelt’s New Deal Agenda lowered the unemployment rate from 25 percent in 1933 to 10 percent in 1937.”
And the Shock Jocks keep infecting their listeners with the notion that Conservatism is good and that Liberalism is bad, worse than terrorism - and people have died, are dying and continue suffering because of it.

C. James Thomas continues:
Hannity is perhaps the biggest hack on the radio. There is no line he won't cross or hypocrisy he won't commit in order to defend "conservatism." Like Limbaugh, he too is a social conservative whose war against liberalism trumps all other concerns. Hannity even wrote a book titled, "Deliver us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism." Now what kind of kook lumps in liberalism with terrorism and despotism?" It is this kind of garden variety hackery that keeps Hannity from evolving into a Rush Limbaugh style Neanderthal and instead keeps him stuck in the "Australopithecine" stage of Talk Radio development.

But at least Hannity is able to walk erect on two legs. Come 6pm after Sean Hannity has signed off the most savage of primates takes to the airwaves. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Mark Levin, a howler monkey of the lowest order. Levin is a loathsome creature whose spittle flecked microphone is quickly coarsened with a whole host of slanderous invective aimed at liberals, moderates, Democrats, Independents and anyone else who refuses to acknowledge the greatness of Herbert Hoover.
But as nefarious as Levin is, C. James Thomas gives Michael Savage the highest, or the lowest in this instance, honors:
Levin's "Center for Immigration Studies" is a crude exercise in wedge politics and racial scapegoating. He has one section dubbed "Black Americans" which attempts to whip up anti-Hispanic sentiment amongst African Americans by throwing around all sorts of statistics that show how those scheming Mexicans are stealing all of the jobs of poor black folks. As if Mark Levin gives a rat's ass about the plight of the black underclass...
All in a day's work for "the Great One." But if you thought Levin was the worst of these anti-American shlock jocks then you haven't met the vilest bottom feeder of the bunch. Michael Savage.
To say that Michael Savage is a conservative is to acknowledge that he actually traffics in ideas, which would be news even to Savage himself. For Michael Savage doesn't engage in debate, he doesn't adhere to any ideology, not even the kind of fringe conservatism that Mark Levin peddles. No, Michael Savage is simply a festering boil on the ass of America, oozing a unique puss of resentment, prejudice and bombast.

The Savage Nation has become infamous for its hate speech. Media Matters has put together a dossier on Michael Savage that reads like something the Southern Poverty Law Center would have on the Ku Klux Klan. That Savage hasn't had his broadcasting license revoked is a scandal considering how much more destructive his show is than anything Howard Stern has ever said.

We start with the rampant rhetorical gay bashing that has gotten so out of control his own fans have been inspired to kill innocent parishioners whose sole crime was that they were worshipping in a "liberal" church. We move on to Savage's routine race baiting diatribes that Savage spews forth at minorities of all stripes with such classics as, "they imposed affirmative action on me and stole my very birthright simply because I was white." Or his slandering of African immigrants with this statement, "Bring them in by the millions. Bring in 10 million more from Africa. Bring them in with AIDS. Show how multicultural you are. They can't reason, but bring them in with a machete in their head. Go ahead. Bring them in with machetes in their mind."

And if that imagery wasn't racist enough for you how about this image Savage gave to his listeners one day, "The Statue of Liberty is crying, she's been raped and disheveled -- raped and disheveled by illegal aliens."

Few are the ones who escape the lash of Savage's forked tongue. Parents of autistic children will be happy to know that Savage believes these "brats" have "a phony disease." Or that Barbara Walters is "a double-talking slut." Or that Madeleine Albright is a "traitor" who "should be hung."
And on and on it goes...

By the time the clock rolls around to 11pm the descent becomes complete. Talk Radio gets reduced to sub-human status as Michael Savage takes the form of Gollum himself.
He ends his post by saying:
... what I am saying is that the public deserves a legitimate center-right party not a collection of self-absorbed, knuckles-dragging troglodytes who would rather smash the American melting pot to pieces than lose any control over how the broth gets stirred.

But sadly, the yahoos are in firm control of the Party of Lincoln. And on Lincoln's 200th birthday, the United States of America deserves much better than that.

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