Friday, April 13, 2007

PSA: After Imus: What you can do

Press Release from

The controversy over Don Imus' racist remarks goes far beyond one bigoted commentator. But getting rid of Imus won't fix the media problem.

Most of our TV and radio stations are owned by giant corporate conglomerates. They don't represent the views of most Americans -- and they make huge profits off the public airwaves.

What we need are more diverse, independent and local media owners. Yet right now less than 10% of TV and radio stations are owned by people of color or women.

But instead of addressing this national disgrace, the Federal Communications Commission is actually trying to let the largest companies buy up even more stations!

Tell the FCC: We Need More Diversity in the Media

What Imus said is just the tip of the iceberg. Scores of other TV and radio hosts regularly make racist and sexist comments. The best way to stop this race to the bottom is to change who's sitting at the top -- and making the decisions about who's behind the mic.

Today, according to one industry study, only 2.5% of radio stations have a person of color in the role of general manager, and only 4.4% have a racial or ethnic minority in the role of news director. The percentage of women in these jobs isn't much higher. No wonder shock jocks like Imus have been able to keep their jobs for so long.

Now is our chance to make a change. In 2003, we stopped the FCC from allowing more media concentration, when more than 3 million people took action to stop Big Media.

Tell Your Friends To Act

This time, we must not only stop further consolidation -- we must demand media ownership that reflects the diversity that makes our nation great.


Robert McChesney
Free Press

Attn: Harry Reid. Fair elections with genuine debate are much easier when there is fair and equal media coverage. Just ask Jack Carter.

I should add that this is an important issue for real conservatives as well as liberals, because the representation of real, rational conservatism on the airwaves is even smaller than the liberal and progressive coverage, to the extent that most people think "conservatism" means being against abortion, gay rights, efforts toward energy independence (which for conservatives is a national security issue) and disbelief in climate change and it's potential impacts.

Barry Goldwater would disagree, probably in total. Nixon would differ on most if not all points. Neither would equate religious social conservatism with Republican or conservative values .

So let's get this done for everyone. It's infuriating to listen to people like Rush, Savage and Imus from a center-left perspective, but for a real conservative - and as a Lib, I share many conservative positions and views - listening to these idiots must be absolutely humiliating, realizing that such pinheads have more access to political speech than traditional economic and Constitutional Conservatives.

Or as they are referred to by Rush, "liberals."

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why Don Imus? Well, why the hell not?

I was listening to Randi Rhodes yesterday, talking about Don Imus's racist gaffe. She was taking a contrarian position - why him, instead of, say, Rush, who is just as offensive without being funny, or Mike Savage who's plainly talking to fellow bigots, or Hannedy, who's plainly talking to fellow stupid bigots. Why pick on the guy who's trying to be funny?

The wit and wisdom of Don Imus. - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine

On blacks:

"William Cohen, the Mandingo deal." (Former Defense Secretary Cohen's wife is African-American.)

"Wasn't in a woodpile, was he?" (Responding to news that former black militant H. Rap Brown, subsequently known as Abdullah Al-Amin, was found hiding in a shed in Alabama after exchanging gunfire with police. Imus is here alluding to the expression "nigger in the woodpile.")

"Knuckle-dragging moron." (Description of basketball player Patrick Ewing.)

"We all have 12-inch penises." (After being asked what he has in common with Nat Turner, Malcolm X, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Latrell Sprewell from the New York Knicks, and Al Sharpton.)

"Chest-thumping pimps." (Description of the New York Knicks.)

"A cleaning lady." (Reference to journalist Gwen Ifill, possibly out of pique that she wouldn't appear on his show. "I certainly don't know any black journalists who will," she wrote in the April 10 New York Times. The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page used to appear, but after he made Imus pledge not to make offensive comments in the future, he was never asked back.)

On Jews:

"I remember when I first had [the Blind Boys of Alabama] on a few years ago, how the Jewish management at whatever, whoever we work for, CBS, or whatever it is, were bitching at me about it. […] I tried to put it in terms that these money-grubbing bastards could understand."

"Boner-nosed … beanie-wearing Jewboy." (Description of Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, a frequent guest.)

On women:

"That buck-tooth witch Satan, Hillary Clinton." […] "I never admitted it when I went down there and got in all that big jam, insulting Bill Clinton and his fat ugly wife, Satan. Did I? Did I ever say I was sorry for that?"

On Native Americans:

"The guy from F-Troop, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell." (This is a reference to the zany Indian characters on the 1960s TV sitcom F-Troop. They had names like "Roaring Chicken," "Crazy Cat," and "Chief Wild Eagle.")

On Japanese:

"Old Kabuki's in a coma and the market's going up. […] How old is the boy? The battery's running down on that boy." (Reference to Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, who died the following week.)

On gays:

"I didn't know that Allan Bloom was coming in from the back end." (The homosexuality of the author of The Closing of the American Mind became widely known when Saul Bellow published Ravelstein, a novel whose protagonist was based on Bloom, who by then was deceased.)

"The enormously attractive [NBC political correspondent] Chip Reid, I can say without being accused of being some limp-wristed 'mo."

On the handicapped:

"Janet Reno's having a press conference. Ms. Reno, of course, has Parkinson's disease, has a noticeable tremor. […] I don't know how she gets that lipstick on (laughter) looking like a rodeo clown."

I fail to see the funny here. I don't listen to Imus, for the same reason I don't listen to Stern; I don't like feeling as if I need to floss my brain. And I consider this sort of mean-spirited "humor" to be inherently toxic, whatever the perspective, regardless of what "cause" is "served."

So, why Imus? Well, because the Rutger's Girls stepped in his form of "humor" and took it upon themselves to carve new shoes out of his reluctant hide.

I find that image funny.

Oh, and Randi, he's not the first. Spocko was the first (THIS year) to ram recordings of racist and hate-speech sideways up the noses of wingnut talk-jocks - and more importantly, their sponsors.

Don Imus, Randi Rhodes,

The Authoritarian Reflex

3 Generals Spurn the Position of War 'Czar' -

The authoritarian reflex to a failed policy is not to examine the policy, but to assume that those entrusted with the implementation were not "up to the task." The answer is always more power, concentrated more densely, with fewer checks upon the authority in question.

Now, the idea of a "War Czar" empowered to do the job right with the authority to make militarily sensible decisions based on the reality of the situation is appealing, even to this anti-authoritarian. I'm not really so much opposed to the idea of authoritative people having power as the opposite, the assumption that the power to enforce one's authority grants one the magical ability to make wise and prudent decisions. And I see that this idea comes from the latter school of authoritarianism - if only we give the right person enough power, they will be able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

But the response of people who are qualified for the position have all demonstrated their qualifications by refusing the job.

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said.
Yep, some vague concept of what "victory" would look like is important. More significantly, it would have to be a victory on the terms of the American People as a whole, not just the cheerleaders of war. It would have to be significant, meaningful and tangible - not merely a symbolic moment.

Most importantly, it would have to achieve lasting, positive change. I do my philosophical opponents the credit of believing all of these things were not just possible, but inevitable at the start of the war. Frankly, I suspected myself that while the results would be less positive than the cheerleaders suspected, they would nonetheless be a net positive, given what I understood about rational war-planning and preparation. In other words, I made certain reasonable assumptions about what sane people and competent military organizations do before they "cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war."

I, along with everyone else, was betrayed in that assumption. There appears to have been no planning, no precautions, no allowances made for "the fog of war," no preparations made for casualties and consequences and most damning of all, no thought toward what victory would look like, and because of that most fundamental flaw - nobody has been able to plot a course toward it.

Some administration critics said the ideas miss the point. "An individual can't fix a failed policy," said Carlos Pascual, former State Department coordinator of Iraq reconstruction, who is now a vice president at the Brookings Institution. "So the key thing is to figure out where the policy is wrong."
And this is the lesson that we must take from the situation; that there are policies that are so deeply flawed, so fundamentally erroneous and unethical that no-one with the character, competence and moral stature to lead soldiers will take it on.

One of the great unstated consequences of this war - emblematic as it is of what happens to Bushite policies when they are implemented - is a broad loss of confidence in the competence of leadership. The greatest test of leadership is how you react to unanticipated problems - and the second greatest is how many problems inherent in your policies you anticipate and forestall.

While the Bush administration has clearly done everything it could to avoid anything resembling prudence and preparation, it was not sufficiently opposed by those who's very careers were supposedly based on knowing better. And those who were in a position to know better, should have known better as soon as the directives hit their desks. They must have known that the troop levels were insufficient, that training times given were insufficient, that the equipment mix and logistical trains were unprepared and that - most critically - they were woefully short of reliable intelligence and translation resources.

And yet - better to keep their jobs than to act in the interest of the men and women they were responsible to, and in proper deference to the office of Commander In Chief.

Authoritarianism is a lot like Communism - there are specific circumstances where it works, and works very well indeed - but it does not generalize to larger, more complex situations; for their inherent problems are identical - trust. People in either situation donate a portion of their liberty, their resources and personal power to people they can trust, and if there is no basis for trust, the appearance and reality will be two entirely different things - leading to a system divided against itself and effectively serving only the self-delusions of those seemingly in charge of the entire mess.

This leads me, and millions of others, to come to the conclusion that there is no way out of this current mess that resembles "politics as usual." Those trying to avoid political fallout, and who are aiming at political victory in 2008 are betting that Bush will not do something elementally stupid between then and now. I don't think that's a bet that's worth the prize. Indeed, Democrats should be looking at the question of "if we win in 2008, what will we have won?"

We do not need politics as usual; we need statesmanship. And we need to impeach the miserable failure, purge our government of his taint, and I would strongly suggest going so far as to impeach those members of the Supreme Court that selected him in the first place.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hm. A pattern emerges.

Remember going to a church dance with the assurance that it would be just as good and just as much fun as that rock concert you wanted to go to?

Max Blumenthal: Monica Goodling, One of 150 Pat Robertson Cadres in the Bush Administration - Yahoo! News: "Goodling's involvement in Attorneygate is not the only aspect of her role in the Bush administration that bears examination. Her membership in a cadre of 150 graduates of Pat Robertson's Regent University currently serving in the administration is another, equally revealing component of the White House's political program."

Yeah, The bush administration is full of people who tell whoppers like that with complete sincerity. Brainwashing will do that to ya.

Bush can't keep his lies straight

Keith Olbermann lists all the various reasons and excuses Bush has used to justify the Iraq war.

I had a roommate once who was a total sociopath, and it took me less than a month to realize that all his "reasons" were really excuses. In fact, he did what he did because he wanted to do it and gave whatever excuse he thought would work that moment. He really had no clue that sane people keep track of these things.

It's been clear for a long, long time that whatever reason exists in George Bush's mind for the war - if any mind or reason exists in any commonly understood sense - it probably isn't one of his utterly disposable excuses.

I stopped keeping score long ago, so I hadn't realized how very damming the sum of his lies had become. But it is truly damning, and indicative of someone utterly incapable of being responsible for the consequences of his decisions. Whether he's a sociopath, a dry drunk, or simply too stupid and isolated to comprehend the issues on his desk does not matter to me, any more than his statements about his political philosophy or his "deep, Christian faith."

He's as inconsistent in those areas as he is in the context of the war, so I conclude that these positions are just as momentarily convenient as any other.

Some of his statements are particularly revealing of an incapacity to deal with the reality of other people, and the idea that his actions give legitimate cause for offense. The latest example is his dismissive reaction to Matthiew Dowd in particular and all parents of service members in harm's way as being "too emotional" to have a valid opinion.

It's pretty easy to demonstrate a widespread skepticism about our misleader.

Then, of course, there was his amazingly insensitive and inept handling of Cindy Sheehan. Whatever you think of her,she's a nightmare of his own making, a visible symbol illustrating his contempt for and impatience with an increasingly critical citizenry.

It has long since become impossible for me to have any respect for the man - and if I am to maintain respect for the office of the President of these United States, I must continue to loudly call for his immediate resignation. If he will not do that, he must be impeached.

Meanwhile, whatever he wants of Congress, and whatever he says to justify his demands must be presumed to be as disingenuous as all his previous interactions with that body, and, I must add, with people representing all parties. I would strongly suggest that various members get together and compare notes on what he has said to them to justify particular votes. I'd bet money that these stories will neither add up nor bear any great resemblance. And I'd be stunned if he's delivered on promises made to secure votes, even with solid supporters such as our own Sen. Ensign.

Congress - and particularly the Republican members - had best realized that the supporters of a liar and a fool are likely to be associated with the lies and foolishness in the public mind. People cannot help but wonder, in the face of overwhelming evidence of his willful, callus and incompetent leadership and contempt for the citizenry, whether that support is the result of blackmail, gullibility or corruption.

More to the point, they probably don't care. They just know that loyalty to a miserable failure is placed above loyalty to their constituents, and there can be no good reason for that.

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