Location: MiddleofNowhere, Central Oregon

I Am The Anti-Cheney

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rumsfeld is an Idiot

That pretty much covers it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Summer Distractions

I can't seem to find the time to come inside long enough each day to keep this blog interesting. That doesn't mean I'm not nauseated by all the things I see in the news every day, and once in a while I get pissed off enough to feel compelled to say something. Like today.

I can't pretend any longer that the right-wing wackos are just people with whom I have some political disagreements. These people are dangerous. It makes me think they've always been among us, but only now feel safe coming out with what they really think about things. The sheer extremity of right-wing rhetoric has become such that even the most fringe freakshows feel safe putting their two cents into the poltical debate. Calls for execution of political enemies has become as common among righties as calls for more margaritas among the rest of us.

Glenn Greenwald over at Unclaimed Territory has been cataloguing for months now the hypocrisies and lies of rightwing nutwagons, and lately they've become so incredible I get the feeling they're thinking they've reached a degree of safety from scrutiny from the MSM that they don't even try to rein themselves in any longer.

Jonah Goldberg's latest unintended irony reminds me of something Ann Coulter said a few years ago when she was addressing some far right xtian group. She warned them of the duplicity of "left wing liberals" who always talk about right wing Xtians as if they're an actual single membership that moves in lockstep. She asked the group if they knew of some form they'd all signed making them members of the Right Wing Xtian Club, and let them know the left Wing Liberals will always talk about Right Wing Xtians as if they're a single entity. This is evidently a really crafty manipulation that allows them to lump all the Right Wing Xtians into a single category and dismiss them all at once. Who is it that employs this devious tactic? The Left Wing Liberals--you know, that single group that can be lumped together and dismissed as a single entity.

My mind was agog for a minute as the Xtians stared at her and nodded their comprehension of this devious way of lumping a group together and labelling them to negate them. Those Left Wing Liberals have to be guarded against in all Their devices. With God on their side they will prevail over the Godless Heathen Devil Liberals who have enjoined them in a war for control of America.

I've learned since then that you can almost always figure out what righties are up to by listening to what they blame The Enemy of being up to. They have a way of tipping their hand every time with this hypocritical tell. That they are unaware of their own transparancy in this blatant hypocrisy, (and it seems to be part and parcel of the pathology that produces it in the first place) is indicative of a particular brand of self-delusion. Their own lack of self-awareness involves that most basic muman moral failing--believing that your own special place in the universe is acknowledged by all humans on the planet. It's a solopsitic illusion that most humans grow out of at around 4 years old, but I'm amazed at how common it is for adults to still carry this fundamental misperception. It's rampant among right-wing wackos and their leaders.

When they feel pain, it's obvious to everybody in the room that there's real pain in the room, and there's a fundamental difference between what goes on in the room when they feel pain, as opposed to what goes on when somebody else claims to feel pain.

Basically their thinking goes like this--"when I feel pain, everybody just knows that there's real pain in the room. When I pinch somebody else, they may sqwawk like they feel real pain, but it's self evident to everyone that when I get pinched, there's real pain in the room, and when they get pinched, there's only the sqwawking that accompanies actual pain, but there's no real pain in the room."

An astounding number of people live with this basic moral failing. It prevents them from ever perceiving that others are as real as they are. (The Golden Rule of alleged Xtians is not something those with this failing are ever able to truly accomplish.) To think others are actually feeling in the same way that they are is imposible for them, and they belive that this fundamental truth is shared by all others. This lack of awareness is why 3 year olds can't lie. They think everyone knows whtever they know. Experiments on children have shown that this solopsistic illusion usually passes by the time we are 4 or 5. But I've noticed that a very important element of this illusion remnains in many people throughout their lives. Not sure exactly why, but it's certainly true, and obviously it prevents them from ever treating others in the way they would like to be treated, let alone thinking others are able to perceive the inner machinations of the "real person" in the room.

It also prevents them from realizing that their own hypocrisy is peceived by others. People with this failing seem to think they can pull fast ones on all the other rubes in the room, and nobody will ever be able to see their crafty brilliance. This seems to be behind the almost univerasl capacity of righties to commit unintended irony.

I see this needs to be treated with quite a bit more depth to become clear, but hopefully some will see what I'm talking about here. If it's not clear, it's my fault for trying to whip this out before I run out of time to hit the river for a swim.

I plan to start writing more here about what I belive is happening in America today. I don't see enough discussion about the real struggle going on between those in power and the 99% of us just trying to live our lives in peace. This is the real struggle, and the right/left battle is a diversion created by those who own the corporate media to hide their real agenda. They've succeed beyond their wildest dreams, and the rubes in America have fallen for every screwball thrown by these assholes. That's why half the couintry spends all its time fighting the other half instead of fighting those few who really run the country for their own benefit.

This will involve discussing real issues outside the left/right diversion, and will involve indicting those in power for setting up an economy that allows them to benefit at the expense of the rest of us.

Many of those willing to take on the Bush Regime don't address real issues that keep those in power from screwing us all, and I think real liberal thought is almost completely absent from the discussion.

I'll try to take the time to be accurate and to fully address the issues, but it is summer and the river and mountains beckon. Then again, it's getting real bad out there, and after watching TV yesterday I see they've got a real stranglehold on the dialogue, so it might be time to come in from the cold. Real libearl though is what this country was built on, and it's time to bring it to the rescue.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Been Gone For A Bit

I've been away for a couple weeks due to a death in the family. As soon as I get caught up I hope to resume my research into the Right Wing Media Cult. Hope to have some details of Rush Limbaugh's suspiscious beginnings, as he showed up immediately upon the dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine. The disfunction of the MSM is the most serious impediment to our taking America back from the corporate stranglehold on our lives and country, and overcoming that disfunction requires understanding the intricate complexities of our corrupt modern world. The blogosphere is the modern day equivalent of the pamphleteering of the founding era. Everybody should get involved. We have to have an alternative to the traditional MSM, and this is it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Link the Last Post

Here's the link to the last post. It's an interesting POV from someone who's been there all through the Fd debacle. I'll try to have some info on Rush Limbaugh's start in radio soon.

A Conversation On the Fairness Doctrine

This is from a, well suddenly the link is gone. I'll post this and get the link up in a minute, and say a few things about this.

Congresswoman Slaughter and The MEDIA Act
For the nearly 20 years she has been in Congress, Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has fought for fairness on the airwaves. Her latest legislation on the topic is HR 4710, "The MEDIA Act," which would reinstate the fairness doctrine and ensure that broadcasters present discussions of conflicting views on issues of public importance. Read the transcript of a web exclusive conversation between Bill Moyers and Congresswoman Slaughter below. Also on the NOW site: find out more about the fairness doctrine and media consolidation.


BILL MOYERS: You were elected in Congress in 1986.


BILL MOYERS: That was the year the fairness doctrine went down and you've been fighting ever since to resurrect it. Why?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: I have. And, you know, I was so committed to it and I kept doing bills. Because the airwaves belong to the people. I think we've good and sufficient examples now of what has happened to us with media consolidation — the fact that the information coming to us is controlled, the fact that at least half the people in the United States have no voice because they're not allowed in on talk radio.

BILL MOYERS: Tell me exactly what the fairness doctrine was.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Pretty much that you had an obligation to present two sides of an issue. There wasn't really an obligation to go out and hunt for somebody if something outrageous was said on a station that you owned, or television station. But if someone asked to come on to present an opposing view, they were allowed to do it. And the stations were obligated to do it. And most station owners that I've talked to have said it wasn't onerous. They didn't find it all that difficult.

BILL MOYERS: What happened to the fairness doctrine? It was in effect for years. In the early '80s the Federal Communications Commission decided to…

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Do away with it the grounds, on the grounds that they said it was not a law. It was just a policy. Congress then sprang into action and passed a law putting it into a law that…

BILL MOYERS: They overrode the FCC?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: They overrode the FCC. And I'll tell you that it was such an astonishing vote. I think it was three to one in the House, two to one in the Senate. Among the people voting for it were Jesse Helms, Newt Gingrich and others.

BILL MOYERS: To keep the fairness doctrine.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: To keep the fairness doctrine and codify it into law. But President Reagan vetoed it. And I remember my party was in charge at the time, the Democratic party. And I went to the leadership. And I said, "This is outrageous. We've got to try to override that veto."

And they would not. They did not make any attempt despite the overwhelming vote in both houses to codify the fairness doctrine. They refused to try to override that veto. And we tried again in about 1993, I think. But it didn't go anywhere.

And throughout all this time, I was also sponsoring a piece of legislation to require the broadcasters using our airwaves to give a small box of time to the challenger and the incumbent free. And they'd break it up into 60 seconds, whatever. It wouldn't bore people.

But the candidate had to sit as you and I are sitting and talk to the camera. And we wouldn't have all these voice-overs. And I tried that one for six years and found out a few years ago that the broadcasters spent $11 million to kill that one amendment.

BILL MOYERS: Talk to me about the power of the broadcasters.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Overwhelming. Overwhelming.

We had in 2002, Senator Torricelli [of NJ] was able to pass an amendment in the Senate that said that all broadcast media — this was in relationship to political campaigning — so advertising, that they had to give us the lowest commercial rate and couldn't put us on at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, right. It was to comply with law that was already on the books. And [Torricelli's amendment] passed, I think, 98 to nothing.

When we brought the Torricelli amendment over to the House and I managed the bill, we couldn't pass it because the broadcasters had had time between the Senate and the House [votes] to lobby against it. And we lost by two-thirds. One-third of the House of Representatives would stand up and say, "Yes, we have to comply with a law that's on our books."

BILL MOYERS: So when the fairness doctrine went down in 1986, that was the first year you came to Congress, what was the consequence of it? What happened as a result?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: AM radio rose. It wasn't even gradual, Bill. I mean, almost immediately. And I should point out to you that when we tried to reinstate [the fairness doctrine] again in '93, one of the reasons we couldn't was that Rush Limbaugh had organized this massive uprising against it, calling it "The Hush Rush Law." Which again said that while Rush can speak and anybody that he wants to can speak on those stations, the rest of us can't. But he aroused his listeners so that they contacted their members of Congress and killed the bill, and that's not the first time we've seen that.

I don't know if you remember, but I believe it was Massachusetts I think where they were doing seat belt law? And talk radio was against it and killed that bill. I mean we've seen this before.

BILL MOYERS: Well, you know some serious people, including some liberals have said that one reason Rush Limbaugh has succeeded is because he is good entertainment.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Exactly. He doesn't make any pretense of being a news person or even telling you the truth. He says he's an entertainer.

BILL MOYERS: And you're saying that kind of discourse is dominating America right now.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Dominating America and a waste of good broadcast time and a waste of our airwaves.

BILL MOYERS: Not to the people who agree with him.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Well, they don't hear anything else. Why would they disagree with him?

BILL MOYERS: But today, you don't have to just listen to one radio. You've got a choice of radio stations. You've got the internet. You've got the magazines. You've got how many? Five hundred channels, they say?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Yes. But we don't have all those people lining up to discuss what's going on, what's happening in our country. Frankly, I want every American, every single one, to understand what's happened here. We were able to stop some consolidation last year. But the FCC was intent on simply allowing three or four corporations to own it all.

BILL MOYERS: What does it say to you that every day in America according to our research, on the 45 top rated talk radio stations, there are 310 hours of conservative talk and only five hours of talk from the other side of the aisle? Now the nation is evenly divided politically, but on talk radio…

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Actually more than that. There was a poll done that showed that 70 percent of Americans — conservatives, liberals, whatever stride — said they're not being told the truth anymore. But what upsets me frankly, is I'm surprised it's five percent. And I think that's because one radio station in my district was converted to Air America…

BILL MOYERS: To the liberal network.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: …to sort of keep us quiet. It says to me that that's why senior citizens don't understand now that social security is going to be privatized. And that they don't understand what the Medicare bill that was passed intends to do, and that's get rid of Medicare and push everybody on HMO by 2010. Because we have no way in the world to get this information out to people. And it is a shame.

BILL MOYERS: You're saying that the removal of the fairness doctrine and the concentration of power in a handful of major media companies have led to a one-side political discourse?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Oh, I believe it. Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: Is somebody going to say, "Is this just a question of a Democrat who feels she's not getting her message out and she's mad?"

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: No. It isn't. I mean I get reelected, I've done extremely well in my district because people appreciate that I fight for things. I think all Americans would feel the same way I do exactly if we just had the ability to tell them. Reinstating the fairness doctrine would make a major difference in this country.

BILL MOYERS: What does your bill before Congress propose?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: So far, it just reinstates [the fairness doctrine.] But you know, I've been giving some thought to it this week. I will in no way do anything to hurt the first amendment. I'd die for it. I certainly don't want to do anything about censorship or anything. I simply want equal time. As simple as we can make it is that we simply want to reinstate it. That people have an opportunity to give them an opposing view, that you can't own a radio station in the United States that simply gives one side all day long.

BILL MOYERS: So you're primarily concerned about radio?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: No. I'm concerned about television as well. But radio is probably where we're going to get the biggest problems in trying to get this done, because people have the radio on all day. They listen to it. And I think that says a lot. I think we can see that reflected in what people are thinking and feeling today.

BILL MOYERS: You know people say well, "Yes, it is in principle true that the government, the people passed to the television and radio companies the right to use the airwaves, the public spectrum." But cable's a different baby altogether. Cable is unregulated.


BILL MOYERS: Are you proposing the fairness doctrine for Fox News or MSNBC?



LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Yes. Fairness isn't going to hurt anybody. I just can't imagine these people who want to fight against fairness. And I noticed that just recently, I believe President Clinton said that the 1996 Telecommunications Bill was probably one of his worst mistakes?

BILL MOYERS: He signed it?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: You see this is what's happening out there. People I think are really saying, "Wait a minute. This has gone way too far."

BILL MOYERS: Well you know, someone would say that you've been elected to Congress repeatedly since 1986. So clearly the loss of the fairness doctrine didn't prevent you…

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Didn't impede me. No. Because I'm able to buy advertising. In today's world, a candidate who is not on television is not real. Nobody knows about them. They basically don't exist.

BILL MOYERS: People contribute money for you to pay for advertising.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: And that's the way it goes. Back in the old days, you know we used to have door hangers, billboards, and all those kind of things. But mostly now, with most candidates for Congress they simply raise money for television and hand it over.

BILL MOYERS: When your constituents in your district listen to talk radio, what are they hearing? Is there a lot of right wing talk radio in your radio?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Oh yes, absolutely. Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, the whole nine yards.

BILL MOYERS: Are you saying that Rush Limbaugh…

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Rush Limbaugh has every right to be on there. But that radio station has to give equal time to another point of view.

BILL MOYERS: If you get the fairness doctrine back, Rush Limbaugh is still going to be on the air and Sean Hannity's going to still be on the air?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Well, of course. I mean…

BILL MOYERS: What will be the difference?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: The difference would be that there would have to be somebody there saying, "Come in." The fact is, what we're talking about with fairness is that a radio station, television station that has opinion, has to give an opposing opinion a chance. And I think that that's terribly important to us. It's not asking much. And we're not as informed as we ought to be.

BILL MOYERS: Now we have the internet. Anybody can say what they will, when they want to say it… And we know that a lot of these bloggers that we know about on the internet that get picked up and circulated to major media. So there is an antidote now…

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: There is an antidote now, except everybody is not on the internet. Everybody has no access to see what they're talking about. I don't think there's any question that MoveOn when they organized against further consolidation of media, and had over two million e-mails going into the FCC, made a big impression.

I think the Sinclair thing is also somewhat resolved. I have to say at the same time, I think that the internet had an effect on that.

BILL MOYERS: Some conservative writers have said that, "Look, Congresswoman, the market worked. When Sinclair tried to insert his politics views into a commercial field, the public reacted, the bloggers reacted, the opposition reacted. And Sinclair changed its policy."

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Well we didn't have that a couple, three years ago. But I'm not sure we can just leave it to that. That we can hope that the bloggers will be enough to counteract it. The fact that Sinclair wanted to do it in the first place, indicates that they had no restrictions on them of any sort, and apparently that they thought it was there to use as they saw fit.

It's a little difficult once the owners of Sinclair have already declared their preference and given huge amounts of money to one party to even when they would do this, not to say this is one step forward, further of what they want to do to support their candidate.

But now people are saying, "Well wait a minute. We shouldn't just hear from one side of this issue. There must be some reason those people in Congress are doing this. We would like to hear from them or their supporters or people who agree with them to see what is it. What's going on here? What is it that we need to know about this legislation?" Just hearing it from one side is not sufficient. In fact, it's dangerous.

BILL MOYERS: You're saying that your fairness doctrine would simply mean that if a radio station or television station offers one position, like Rush Limbaugh, on a bill or a campaign of President or an election, they should also have people who disagree with Rush Limbaugh?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Absolutely. They should not be putting their own bias and their own feelings out on their radio station because they think they own it. It has to be done as a public trust and in the public interest.

BILL MOYERS: But the first amendment guarantees the right of free press.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: If they owned the airwaves, then I'd probably have no complaint. But they don't. It belongs to us. Part of our democracy. It's part of the ability that we have to contact our citizens. It's a way that we want our children to grow up with some understanding of what this country is about and what it's based on and what their choices are.

BILL MOYERS: You've been up against the big broadcasters before.


BILL MOYERS: So what makes you think you can win now?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: So many things are happening in the country. I have a grandson that's a sophomore at George Washington. He asked me to come and speak to the Young Democrats. I've been doing that for years. It was always five kids in a room.

So I called him on the way and said, "Where's this held?" He said, "Grand Ballroom." And I thought, "Oh, that's gonna look good." Over 300 students, standing room. I've never seen that. I've been in this business a long time.

There is a new sense in this country. A porter this morning at the Rochester airport said to me, "Everybody's gotta get out." He started ticking them off. "Senior citizens, all the minorities, gays, everybody, this is it. The country is really up for grabs here." And I think that part of it, and the reason we are in this position that we are in, and perhaps part of the reason the polls are the way they are, are what people hear.

They may hear whatever they please and whatever they choose. And of course they always have the right to turn it off. But that's not good enough either. The fact is that they need the responsibility of the people who are licensed to use our airwaves judiciously and responsibly to call them to account if they don't.

BILL MOYERS: Who decides what fairness is? What is fair? What's the truth?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Well, in political circles, it's the equal time piece where if one candidate gets to say something on the air, equal time, no matter what it is, is given to the opponent, again if asked.

But fairness can't be that difficult. Surely, we have evolved to the stage here in this century that we can understand some sort of balance, some sort of sense. To me it is a feeling that my country is spilling out hatred and lies on many, many of these stations to people who hear nothing but that, who never believe or hear any countervailing opinion. I think this is one of the most dangerous things in the world, and it actually cuts out a point of view of half of America. And anything that we own as Americans, as a government, like the radio and television waves, should not be used in that way.

BILL MOYERS: Are you saying that the major broadcasters are against fairness?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Sure! It was their lobbyists that killed the little bill I had on giving opponents a little bit of time on free television. Yes, I'm saying that.

They won't come out and say it themselves. They don't have to. They hire a lobbying firm in Washington that will spend you know, $11 million for that one amendment that I had.

Unfortunately for us campaigns coincide with football season, and it kind of sort of makes it a little hard sometimes for because that time goes at such an extraordinarily high commercial rate to let us in at a low one.

BILL MOYERS: You raised Sinclair. Did the broadcast of that controversial documentary critical of Kerry, STOLEN HONOR, did that really matter? I mean throughout the Presidential campaign, there were newspaper editorials, there were cable channels covering the campaign. There was the Internet. And in the end, what difference does it make that a company like Sinclair shows a film criticizing Kerry?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Well, let me tell you why it matters. One of the things that I'm distressed about, and I am a true patriot, is that I think what they've done with this film and others, they have called into question the medals won by every soldier, sailor in this country.

When you can slime three Vietnam heroes in four years and you can question a man's Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts and the military sits there… The Navy finally quietly on the hush said, "Those medals were deserved." You know, it was a terrible thing that's been done to our heroes. It's an awful thing that they would do this to him, in order to keep him from being the President of the United States when it's something that is based on falsehood. This is what I'm talking about. To spew this out all day long based on untruths is awful. I mean I'm glad we've got these fact-checkers out there. But they have not checked those ads very well.

How in the world can we say we are exporting democracy all over the world and we don't have it here at home?

BILL MOYERS: You think that stations, radio and television that are licensed should be required to offer an alternative. Would you feel this way if Rush Limbaugh were a Democrat, a liberal?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Yes, I would. Yes, I would. I have no question about that. I think it's just so important, because I'm not sure Americans have a chance to know what's going on. Now, I know the news comes so fast and furiously. But I go out and I make speeches, and I always make it a point to really, "Let me tell you what's going on. Let me tell you what's in Washington, what you're not hearing."

People are uniformly stunned. They can't believe. They couldn't believe that Medicare bill. And that the Democrats were shut out of the room, or that Charlie Rangel and the Democrats in the Ways and Means Committee were gonna be arrested by the Capitol police for using the Ways and Means Library. I mean, this is outrageous. We'll never put a stop to this kind of action, unless people know it.

BILL MOYERS: Where were the journalists?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Where were they? Where were they? I think Washington is covered very poorly. I've got a couple newspapers that I'd walk 100 miles to get. But for the most part, I think, as I said, they take it off of the wires.

BILL MOYERS: You're saying that the press didn't cover these stories and that talk radio skewed the issue?

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Talk radio didn't want to mention it. I bet you that nobody's ever heard Rush Limbaugh say anything about Tom DeLay and what he did and his ethics problems. He's not gonna talk about that. But should America know or not that the Majority Leader, the Majority Leader has turned the whole Congress upside down and that what Americans learned on how a bill is passed has no relationship at all to what's going on in Washington now. I think America wants to know that. I want them to.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Here's a Good One From Wikipedia

This is a basic rundown from Wikipedia. It tells the story pretty well. I'll be putting up much more soon. For now though, this is a good rundown on what happened and the resulting decay of our discourse into the maddening nuthouse it is today.

The Fairness Doctrine is a former policy of the United States's Federal Communications Commission. It required broadcast licensees to present controversial issues of public importance, and to present such issues in an honest, equal and balanced manner.

In Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC [1] (1969), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine, under challenges that it violated the First Amendment. Although similar laws had been deemed unconstitutional when applied to newspapers (and the court, five years later, would unanimously overturn a Florida statute on newspapers), the Court ruled that radio stations could be regulated in this way because of the scarcity of radio stations. Critics of the Red Lion decision have pointed out that most markets then and now are served by a greater number of radio stations than newspapers.

Critics of the Fairness Doctrine believed that it was primarily used to intimidate and silence political opposition. Although the Doctrine was rarely enforced, many radio broadcasters believed it had a "chilling effect" on their broadcasting, forcing them to avoid any commentary that could be deemed critical or unfair by powerful interests.

The Doctrine was enforced throughout the entire history of the FCC (and its precursor, the Federal Radio Commission) until 1987, when the FCC repealed it in the Syracuse Peace Conference decision in 1987. The Republican-controlled commission claimed the doctrine had grown to inhibit rather than enhance debate and suggested that, due to the many media voices in the marketplace at the time, the doctrine was probably unconstitutional. Others, noting the subsequent rise of right-wing radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, suggest the repeal was more likely motivated by a desire to get partisans on the air.

The two corollary rules, the personal attack rule and the political editorial rule, remained in practice even after the repeal of the fairness doctrine. The personal attack rule is pertinent whenever a person or small group is subject to a character attack during a broadcast. Stations must notify such persons or groups within a week of the attack, send them transcripts of what was said, and offer the opportunity to respond on the air. The political editorial rule applies when a station broadcasts editorials endorsing or opposing candidates for public office, and stipulates that the candidates not endorsed be notified and allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond.

The Court of Appeals for Washington D.C. ordered the FCC to justify these corollary rules in light of the decision to axe the fairness doctrine. The commission did not do so promptly, and in 2000 it ordered their repeal. The collapse of the fairness doctrine and its corollary rules had significant political effects. One liberal Pennsylvania political leader, State Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, said "The fairness doctrine helped reinforce a politics of moderation and inclusiveness. The collapse of the fairness doctrine and its corollary rules blurred the distinctions between news, political advocacy, and political advertising, and helped lead to the polarizing cacophony of strident talking heads that we have today."

Conservatives, in contrast, see attempts to revive the Doctrine as an attempt to silence conservative voices, noting that sectors of the media they believe to have a liberal bias (major newspapers, newsmagazines, evening newscasts of the broadcast networks) would not be touched by the Doctrine.

Obviously the righties that shout "LIBERAL BIAS" every time you mention the FD are just addicts keeping us away from their stash. There isn't a liberal I know who doesn't scream at the TV and newspapers about right-wing bias. The notion that they are liberal is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. But it's become the bread and butter of right-wing media. They will never admit there's no liberal bias in media, and all their slanted polls showing one are complete nonsense.

Beginning of the End of Right-wing Domination of Our Media

I'm convinced now more than ever that what has gone wrong with the American political scene is the Death of the Fairness Doctrine at the hands of Corporate America, and the consequent turning to shit of our discourse. I've decided to do a series here showing how it happened, and hopefully be able to explain it so that every single person who cares to know about it, can.

I'm busy most days with some math/physics work, but I'll try to dedicate enough time to researching this story to get at the real roots of What Went Wrong. I'll show the background reasons why they thought the FD was a good idea in the first place, then get into the shady world of FCC/corporate connections that allowed Rush Limbaugh to take to the airwaves almost immediately upon their putting the stake into the heart of the FD. Then we'll look at the shady guys who helped bring us the whole Clear Channel package of freakshow wingnuts, any one of whom would have been laughed off the stage of American politics any time before 1987, and see if we can't uncover some of their connections with FOX.

I am hoping this will take some turns into the underbelly of our scene, and I might even venture into the Christian crossover media that now works hand in hand with not only right-wing political media, but congress, and even the Whitehouse.

God its a pathetic pile o crap, but its the pile o crap we're stuck with. For now.

First in a Series:The Fairness Doctrine and What Happened That Allowed Rush Limbaugh to Destroy the Country

Here's a start to a series I plan do to explaing the Fairness Doctrine--how it came in to being and why, and how the corporate world decided to dump it and take over the media for their own purposes.

Broadcasting Fairness Doctrine Promised Balanced Coverage
WASHINGTON, DC -- The passing of media ownership into fewer hands, the potential for conflicts of interests, and the virtual exclusion of significant opposing viewpoints are good reasons to reevaluate the broadcasting Fairness Doctrine, and it's potential for obtaining more balanced coverage of Islam and Muslims.
The Fairness Doctrine from 1949 until 1987, when it was discontinued by the Federal Communications Commission, required broadcasters, as a condition of getting their licenses from the FCC, to cover controversial issues in their community, and to do so by offering some balancing views. It did not require equal time for opposing views. It merely prevented a station from day after day presenting a single view without airing opposing views.

The fairness doctrine's constitutionality was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 1969 case, Red Lion Broadcasting v. FCC (395 U.S. 367). The Court ruled that it did not violate a broadcaster's First Amendment rights. Five years later, however, in Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo (418 U.S. 241), without ruling the doctrine unconstitutional, the Court concluded that the doctrine "inescapably dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate". In 1984, the Court concluded that the scarcity rationale underlying the doctrine was flawed and that the doctrine was limiting the breadth of public debate (FCC v. League of Women Voters, 468 U.S. 364).

The Court's decision led to the FCC reevaluation and discontinuance of the Fairness Doctrine. The FCC stated: "We no longer believe that the Fairness Doctrine, as a matter of policy, serves the public interests. In making this determination, we do not question the interest of the listening and viewing public in obtaining access to diverse and antagonistic sources of information. Rather, we conclude that the Fairness Doctrine is no longer a necessary or appropriate means by which to effectuate this interest. We believe that the interest of the public in viewpoint diversity is fully served by the multiplicity of voices in the marketplace today and that the intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned by the enforcement of the doctrine unnecessarily restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters. Furthermore, we find that the Fairness Doctrine, in operation actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and in degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists."

In 1987 a bill to place the Fairness Doctrine into federal law passed the House by 3 to 1, and the Senate by nearly 2 to 1, but it was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan. Among those voting for the bill were Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). In 1989 the Fairness Doctrine easily passed the House again, but didn't proceed further as President George Bush threatened to veto it. In 1991, hearings were again held on the doctrine, but President Bush's ongoing veto threat stymied passage.

Then the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was assigned the responsibility to: "facilitate the full development of public telecommunications in which programs of high quality, diversity, creativity, excellence, and innovation, which are obtained from diverse sources, will be made available to public telecommunications entities, with strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature." The "Fairness in Broadcasting Act of 1993" was sponsored in the Senate (S. 333) by Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), and in the House (H.R. 1985) by Bill Hefner (D-N.C.).

Opponents of the Fairness Doctrine have included New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and broadcaster Rush Limbaugh. Cuomo argued that, "Precisely because radio and TV have become our principal sources of news and information, we should accord broadcasters the utmost freedom in order to insure a truly free press." Limbaugh argued that there should be no government fairness standards on broadcasters, since there are none on the print press.

Others, such as columnist Jeff Cohen, say these arguments miss the key difference: If you set up your competing broadcast station next to a Limbaugh station on the radio dial, without acquiring a government license, you will be prosecuted. Broadcast frequencies are limited, and they belong to all Americans. Furthermore, says Enver Masud, Director of The Wisdom Fund and a strong supporter of free speech, "Freedom of speech has its limits. Even in a theater, one does not have the right to yell 'fire' when there is no fire."

Since these attempts to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, media ownership has passed into fewer and fewer hands. Mark Crispin Miller, professor of Film and Media Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, has written extensively on the media and the increasing concentration of ownership of media companies in the United States. Miller has created charts that trace the holdings of four major conglomerates: Time Warner, Disney/Cap Cities, General Electric, and Westinghouse. Each of these conglomerates owns a news network, CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS, respectively. And not only do they own news networks, but also radio stations, magazines, cable TV, motion pictures, music, and newspapers. Furthermore, the (non-media) holdings of these conglomerates create "alarming conflicts of interests" says Miller.

Lastly, diverse opposing voices are virtually excluded from major TV networks. Among these are prominent speakers such as former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the prolific writer Noam Chomsky, the militant National Alliance, and Muslims who by the year 2000 will constitute America's second largest religion -- Islam.

More recently the Broadcasting Act of 1996 establishes the Broadcasting Standards Commission. In effect, this merges the Broadcasting Standards Council and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, creating a single forum for public concerns relating to the portrayal of sex and violence and matters of taste and decency in television and radio programmes, as well as unjust and unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy by broadcasters.

The reasons that led to the demise of the Fairness Doctrine no longer exist. Perhaps it's time to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Coming Soon--The Cult That Runs the Show

I plan to put up a post about the Fairness Doctrine, and how it was dumped so the right-wingers could take over the media, which they have. All the BS about "liberal media," is an indication that they've succeeded. Would a liberal media point itelf out over and over in every medium? Only a conservative media has the power to create a myth like the one they've created about the "liberal media." You can read about it in the papers, see it on TV, or hear it on the radio. Especially the radio, where they've staked out the whole dial 24 hours a day.

I'll put up some links and tell the story of how they lobbied to take over the FCC and get rid of the FD, so they could put Rush Limbaugh on the air immediately. It's a tale of corruption and money. And we're seeing the fruits of it now. Turn on FOXNews and see the clowns dance.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Who Are The Extremists?

One of the things that seems to come up any time somebody makes a generalization about Bush supporters, is that the generalizations don't apply to everyone who supports Bush, therefore they are supposedly invalid. But those of us who recognize the traits we perceive among some of the more extreme right-wingers, know that the generalizations are true. Of course they don't apply to each and every person who still supports Bush, but they do apply to the most vocal and rabid supporters, and those are the ones we generally hear from in the blogosphere, not to mention radio and television. So is there a way to be more specific about who we are addressing when we talk about Bush supporters who have the characteristics pointed out by Glenn Greenwald and others. I think there is.

For the last 15 or so years (probably more like 18 if memory serves) we've been hearing from extreme right-wingers, that somewhere out there there is a world cotrolled by America-hating liberals. Of course these liberals vote for Democrtas, so Democrats become the party of America-hating liberals, and it is they who must be crushed. Politics in America has always been heated, and some of the things you read from back in the day show you that anger and animosity aren't new. What is new, though, is the idea that the people right-wing extremists disagree with have to be defeated utterly. No compromises are possible--the liberals and democrats represent an evil threat to America that must be wiped out completely.

Where did this bizarre notion come from? I remember the first time I heard it. In the late 80's Rush limbaugh exhorted his listeners to stop trying to dialogue with liberals and simply crush them. This seemed like a new and bizarre way of thinking and I logged it as a phenomenon to be watched. I mean, how do you think you'll crush half the population?

As the years went by Rush got more and more unhinged. By the time Clitnon took office, Rush started calling his show, "America Held Hostage," and counted the days off like we did when Iran took over the embassy and kidnapped the Americans inside. He claimed that somehow the liberals had pulled a fast one, and Clinton had no right to be in office. He dedicated himself, and asked his listeners to do the same, to driving Clinton from office. We all know what happpened over the next 8 years. They hated Clinton for being a Democrat, and that was all they needed to know about him.

Well Rush was soon followed by a whole slurry of right-wing talking heads, as Clear Channel radio covered the dial 24/7 with right-wing extremists. This wasn't am answer to a demand--they simply created a market by offering only one product. Now it may be the case that liberal talk-radio will never have the market that right-wing radio has, but that has more to do with the fact that liberals won't listen in to hear their own ideas parrotted back to them for hours on end, or tune in to any talking head to find out what position they're supposed to take on any particular subject. Of course there are more potential consumers of liberal talk than there are of right-wing extreme talk, so I'm sure somebody could come up with a format that would make money, but that's neither here nor there.

Over the years the right-wing extremists have created a little army of like-minded dittoheads. (Can you imagine wanting to call yourself a dittohead? Good lord what followers.) They have memorized the talking points, as they hear them all day long, so they have become a rather effective force in election politics. So much so that it's made moot some of the most important aspects of funding for elections. If you live in an area like I do, where right-wing radio is all thats offered, anybody who wants to buy commercial time has to buy it on one of the right-wing shows. When you take a commercial break from a right-wing radio show to run two commercials, one for a Republican and one for a Democrat, and afterwards the host spends hours talking about the wonders of the republican and trashing the Democrat, what does it matter that they each managed to buy a 60 second ad? The ensuing hours of right-wing endorsement make a joke of fairness.

But I'm veering off track, as this is my first post I'll give myself a break. I'll try to stick to one main point per post, which for this post is, identifying who we are talking aboput when we talk about Bush supporters.

When we think about Bush supporters, at least the ones who have the bizarre characteristcs so well-catalogued by Glenn Greenwald and others (here's where i'll have to learn to put links), we are talking about this strange creation of right-wing media--a whole army of dittoheads who have been listening for years now to an entire raft of yammering idiots, telling them they have to destroy The Enemy. They aren't necessarily loyal to Bush, or any particular politician. Their loyalty is to their own vague notion of themselves as a group defined by the talking heads they all listen to. And as such, they do indeed have all the characteristics that Glenn Greenwald has attributed to them. So it's easy to see why some supporters of Bush claim Glenn's points don't apply to them. If they don't listen in to right-wing media all day long the chances are they don't have all the hypocritical quirks the True Believers have. But the True Believers do indeed have all the inherent hypocrisy that those of us not married to a particular party or group see they have.

I'll try to get more specific about who this group is, and post some actual demographics of right-wing media--as soon as I learn to find such things.

This blogging takes a staff of researchers to be any good. Or else a lot of time. How do the good ones do it?