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    • Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – September 22, 2019
      by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy How Powerful Ideas Can Shape Society: Aaron Director and the Triumph of Nihilism Matt Stoller [Pro-Market, via Naked Capitalism 9-18-19] Director is the key founder of what is now known as the Chicago School of law and economics, which resha […]
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Wednesday: The Satire is Strong in this one

I’m talking about Charles Pierce. His piece on the Women’s Media Center’s recommendation that the FCC take a more proactive role in monitoring the public airwaves is priceless. But before we get to that, the Women’s Media Center* has a good point:

Spectrum is a scarce government resource. Radio broadcasters are obligated to act in the public interest and serve their respective communities of license. In keeping with this obligation, individual radio listeners may complain to the FCC that Limbaugh’s radio station (and those syndicating his show) are not acting in the public interest or serving their respective communities of license by permitting such dehumanizing speech.

The FCC takes such complaints into consideration when stations file for license renewal. For local listeners near a station that carries Limbaugh’s show, there is plenty of evidence to bring to the FCC that their station isn’t carrying out its public interest obligation. Complaints can be registered under the broadcast category of the FCC website: http://www.fcc.gov/complaints

This isn’t political. While we disagree with Limbaugh’s politics, what’s at stake is the fallout of a society tolerating toxic, hate-inciting speech. For 20 years, Limbaugh has hidden behind the First Amendment, or else claimed he’s really “doing humor” or “entertainment.” He is indeed constitutionally entitled to his opinions, but he is not constitutionally entitled to the people’s airways.

I happen to agree with this for the most part. As much as I would like to exile Rush to blogtalkradio, it’s not necessary to drive him completely off the airwaves. The problem is not that Rush gets away with murder unchecked. The problem is that he takes up so much space on the airwaves and he has spawned an industry of like minded blowhards like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. Right wing friendly media corporations like Clear Channel own much of the spectrum so anti-female bloviating saturates the airwaves. It is not in the public interest for them to be so dominant.

Before anyone accuses the WMC of advocating censorship, let’s just nip that in the bud. There are plenty of ways for Rush’s voice to be heard. His free speech rights are not curtailed if he is left with nothing but a few radio outlets and blogtalkradio. He could even start his own internet network, like Leo LaPorte has done with TWiT.tv. Leo’s doing pretty good business and the internet presents a relatively low barrier for entry. But the public radio spectrum is not an infinite universe. And when one political party owns or dominates an overwhelming majority of it, it has an obligation to not spew toxic crap all over the place to the detriment of others, especially women who, after all, must continue to live as female. There’s not a lot we can do to change our gender, or that we even want to. It’s not a disease or a disability. So, why does 53% of the American population have to put up with this constant, discriminatory and hateful crap 24/7?

In the past, I have told critics of this blog that we do not practice censorship here when we bump trolls into moderation or the spam filter. The internet is vastly, amazingly big in the Douglas Adams sense of the word. You can start a blog in numerous places and pollute it to your heart’s content. Your free speech rights are not infringed if I moderate you. However, if this was the only blog on earth I would feel morally obligated to let you say whatever you wanted here. The same goes with radio and TV spectrum. If we had unlimited stations and everyone could own one at a low cost, Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t be a problem. But radio frequency and signal strength is rationed. There aren’t an unlimited number of stations so there is a moral obligation on the part of the FCC to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. This is not political. Those licenses belong to the public and the public should have a right to revoke them when a particular point of view is so prevalent and toxic that it drowns out all other points of view and is harmful to particular segments of society.

Pierce says the WMC’s suggestion will lead to President Romney appointing the next FCC commissioners and says it will be a huge election year distraction. But that is not his target:

The first inkling that the FCC might take this suggestion seriously would set off a howling from the flying monkeys of the Right that would be audible on Saturn. It would quickly become The Only Issue in the campaign. You would have thousands of hosts in smaller markets pumping out hour after hour of very effective paranoia. (There is, after all, a genuine First Amendment issue in play here.) This paranoia would start turning into votes very, very quickly. It would cement the image of the porcine junkie sex-tourist as a victim just as the country — and its rich people who own companies and buy advertising—- seems to be turning on him all on its own. Good god, this is the same crowd who thinks the Affordable Care Act is the thin edge of the socialist-fascist blade. Can you imagine the ensuing ruckus if the FCC actually moved on this misbegotten plan? The president has enough trouble with these people. He doesn’t need to give them another excuse to draw little mustaches on his picture.

It’s a pattern with Obama. He didn’t stick up for homeowners, the unemployed, Shirley Sherrod or women whenever their reproductive health concerns got in the way of passing legislation. Don’t expect him to make a forceful first amendment argument against extremists either. I too suspect that he really is more worried about defacement of his campaign posters.

* Before you sign any online petition, ask yourself if the organization that will shortly flood your email inbox with bulletins and sell your information to third parties is being sufficiently demanding of Obama and the Democrats. Women’s organizations sold themselves to the Obama campaign in 2008 and it is partially their fault for the toxic crap that Rush is spewing today. If women’s rights advocacy organizations had held Obama, the media and the DNC to a higher standard and accountable for the misogyny of the 2008 election season, politicians wouldn’t be able to pass the anti-woman legislation without penalty and “entertainers” who really serve as propaganda mouths of Sauron for the Republican party wouldn’t have felt safe to call women feminazis and sluts for so long.

***********************

Have you been following Doonesbury this week? Oh, that’s right, your local paper may have been so distraught by Gary Trudeau’s satire of the slut shaming, anti-woman legislation that it has pulled his cartoon to protect you from what looks like an alternative view. Rush, Fox and the Washington Post can say whatever toxic or mindless drivel they want. But have a cartoon character get directed to the “Shaming Room” before her compulsory transvaginal ultrasound, well, THAT just crosses the line of decency and civility.

***********************

Heard on the DailyShow last night:

What’s the difference between a fertilized egg, a corporation and a woman in Oklahoma?

One of them is not considered a person.

(hint, it’s the woman)

Bring on the smelling salts.

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Friday: Disturbing Sistah Souljah Union Defecting Hippy Punching

It started early this morning when Brook (deliberately) missed the bus for school.  My mom’s car was blocking me in so I borrowed her keys and drove Brook to school.  On the way back, I turned up the volume on mom’s radio to hear some conservative talk show infotainers yucking it up about a recent survey that showed that the vast majority of Americans wanted the government to do something to help them economically.  Damn, I have to track down who these guys were so I can get a transcript to check the survey source and their exact words because what came next just defies logic.

So, these guys concluded that because the vast majority of Americans wanted the government to help them economically, that really means we want the government to give us money, money taken from rich people (there’s that class envy thing again) and given it to us because we don’t want to work for it ourselves.  In other words, these two jerks just told everyone who is struggling in this economy who is hoping for New Deal type programs to get them back to work that they were lazy good-for-nothings who didn’t want to do the hard work to succeed.  No, we just want some more deserving rich person to give us handouts.  This is what conservative voters are exposed to every day.  And I, one of the many thousands of recently laid-off R&D professionals who worked my ass off, along with the rest of my stressed out coworkers, could come to only one conclusion after this disturbing and completely unrealistic commentary: If you are struggling, unemployed and still a Republican, you need professional help.  Seriously.

Then I checked my email, tried to establish some relationships with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, answered email from people I had met at recent conferences and looked for rejection emails to my last job applications.  No rejections this morning but it’s still early.  I cruised over to the Daily Show site and found Samantha Bee. redefine a Sistah Souljah moment as an opportunity by both parties to bash the left.  Apparently, the Daily Show doesn’t know that the new term is “Hippy Punching”.

Sistah Souljah from both sides now

Then, I found some stuff at Greg Sargent’s Plum Line on Campaign 2012.  He linked to two articles that are somewhat at odds with each other.  One of them is about Richard Trumka throwing in the towel with the Obama Administration and the Democrats, which I found encouraging.  Trumka is going to outline his plans for an independent labor movement at a speech at the National Press Club today.  The other was about how the Obama Administration Campaign supporters were already planning strategies to take out its opposition starting with Mitt Romney.  See Richard Trumka and Samantha Bee’s Sistah Souljah moment for some guesses as to who their future targets may be.  After all, the Democratic Party’s primary opposition isn’t really the Republican candidate in 2012.  Heck, even the Republicans don’t like their candidates (yet) and are allowing the Tea Party to purge the ones who don’t toe the line while the more pragmatic Washington GOP crowd is getting a little nervous.  No, the Democratic Party’s real opposition are other Democrats, those annoying voters who want the party to represent the principles of the Democratic Party.  You know, the ones who won’t make excuses for Obama’s abandonment of the unemployed?  The ones who don’t praise him for even the slightest, and I do mean “slight”, (teensy-tiny airquotes) of efforts?  The ones who insist that “You can’t buff a turd“?

Like Paul Krugman who praised Obama this morning for saving GM’s ass last year.  Um, wouldn’t it have been irresponsible NOT to save GM’s ass last year?  But wait!  There’s more.  Not only did Obama save GM’s ass last year, he did it by breaking the contracts negotiated in good faith with the people who actually did the work for GM while he didn’t require any sacrifices from the bankers he lobbied to bailout in 2008.  Which just goes to show that the public that so desperately wants the government to help them get back to economic prosperity is completely out in left field- and will be getting a Sistah Souljah moment shortly.

As much as I love, Krugman, (and I do, Paul, really I do, your eyes are so dreamy), it’s not the first time he’s been “off” lately.  A couple weeks ago I postulated that the fear based strategy Republicans used to get their voters to the polls was based on terrorism and threats to personal safety while Democrats used terrorism of economic/safety net catastrophes to get their voters to the polls. Well, abortion isn’t going to work in 2012 after “This is what a feminist looks like” NOW spokes model Barack Obama sold women out on just about everything that is important to them from the egregious limitations on abortion coverage in the healthcare reform bill to NOT rescinding the Conscience Clause, not to mention touting the Lilly Ledbetter bill as the same as the equal pay bills that have been stalled in Congress during the run up to the midterm elections last fall.  (Jeez, Obama people must think women are stupid and not paying attention or can’t trust their lying eyes when they can’t find a job but their well-connected male colleagues can by tapping into the well established old boy’s network.  Ok, Obama women really are stupid if they didn’t recognize that Obama was the BMOC in the uber Old Boys Network, but I digress.)

So, Paul writes this post called Seniors, Guns and Money making fun of the authentically risible Republican congresscritters who criticized the Democrats for scaring seniors  about Medicare.  But Paul is missing the donkey in the corner.  Democrats aren’t trying to scare seniors, they’re trying to scare their own base.  Seniors are actually somewhat ambivalent about the Medicare debacle.  That’s because Republicans are engaging in generational warfare.  Seniors know that they’re safe.  It’s people under 55 that have to worry and seniors aren’t staying up nights fretting over us.  Oh, sure, they have compassion but it only goes so far.  If there’s only so much money to go around, they expect to get it first because they paid for it.  Never mind that people my age paid more and will get worthless vouchers.

Democrats set the bait, lefties fall into line.

Atrios can’t understand why Manhattan needs another parking garage and wonders why rich people are so stupid.  I agree.  I used to take the train to Manhattan once a week when Brook was 11 so she could take art lessons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was $18 round trip.  Brook rode free during Saturday’s off-peak hours.  Sure, it was a pain in the ass transferring at Newark, the WTC or Penn Station for local Metro subway lines that always seemed to be out of service, have poor signage or rerouted.  Now that Christie has raised the rates to $28.00 round trip and there are no discounts for off-peak and Brook is too old to ride free, a trip to the museum to use our family membership is out of the question on NJTransit.  I’d rather drive and park the car for $35.  That saves us money for kebabs at the halal stand.  Not that unemployed people have a lot of money to waste on family memberships to the Met or trips to Manhattan.  Oh, well, I’m sure the rich will make up the slack.  Besides, Brook got her culture in early in life and there’s always the internet.

Of course, if we changed the incentives for taking mass transit…

And in my humble unsolicited opinion, Maria Shriver knew.  Yep, she gave up her career for Ahnold.  Why would she do that if she knew something was up?  Easy.  She wanted her share of political influence that many of the Kennedy’s feel entitled to.  Let’s not forget who was one of Obama’s biggest fans in California before the primary.  Hillary still won the state but it was Maria Shriver, erstwhile heiress of a liberal Democratic dynasty, married to a Republican governor (that right there should have set off alarm bells and pinned her in a new and different Democratic cohort), who relentlessly banged the drum for Obama.  So what if she ran some conferences on empowering women?  We know now that Obama women are not sticklers for adherence to former Democratic principles of gender equity.  I would hate to be accused of blaming the victim but it seems to me that Maria Shriver made a shrewd calculation.  Neither Shriver or Schwarznegger should be held up as paragons of virtue.  One of them sold out  family, the other sold out women and the state of California.  I feel sorry for the kids, all five of them (and counting).