Saturday, May 19, 2007

How the Radical GOP Divided and Conquered America

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The GOP has divided the nation into haves and have-nots, the educated and those who cannot afford an education, super-patriots and "traitors", ins and outs, God's chosen and infidels whose lives mean nothing. By dividing this nation of the people, for the people and by the people, the GOP has literally robbed the people of its nation. The GOP has destroyed America and will soon make of it an extremist theocracy unless they are stopped.

The revolution itself began with the fall of Nixon and the resulting rise of Reagan. Clinton was reviled and hated by the teeth gnashers because he interrupted the process. The US government was, in fact, taken over by what was called the Reagan Revolution. That has turned out in retrospect to have been much more than a catchy slogan like the "New Frontier" or the "Great Society". It turned out to have been a real revolution and America still suffers for it.

We are accustomed to associating revolution with a more equitable distribution of income, levelling the playing field, improving the lot of the poor vis a vis the very, very rich. The Reagan Revolution was something else entirely. Unlike leftist revolutions, the Reagan revolution redistributed wealth upward.

Ronald Reagan stole from the poor their incomes, their benefits, their often pitiful homes. He literally gave that wealth to the upper quintile, the top 20 percent of income earners. I have the Gini Indices from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to prove it. [Also see: The Age of Anxiety and Inequality (scroll down] The situation kicked off by Reagonomics is so bad that even conservative voices sound liberal in denoucing this pernicious and potentially disastrous trend:
If the rich are getting richer, and the poor, if they are not getting poorer in real terms are not seeing their fortunes rise at comparable rates, this would seem to mean that the increasingly opulent consumption by the rich will have as its counterpart the increasingly austere consumption by the poor, and even by the now shrinking middle class. Eventually, the newly poor will not be able to earn enough to maintain their previous levels of consumption. Consequently, some goods produced will not be consumed, thus there will be fewer goods produced, there will be fewer producers or workers, there will be fewer goods consumed, and so on. We have yet another kind of cycle.

It is exactly this process that has long been identified (by John Maynard Keynes, among others) as one of the classical explanations of how the growing inequality of the 1920s led to a crisis of under-consumption and overproduction and then to the Great Depression of the 1930s. A similar cycle had occurred earlier, when the growing inequality of the 1880s had issued in the depression of the 1890s (which, at that time, had also been called the Great Depression).
--The American Conservative, The Rich Get Richer
This "conservative" periodical goes on to say that global inequalities will continue to fuel world wide terrorism. It gives the lie to Bush's simplistic, moronic: "they just hate freedom!"

By creating a tiny ruling elite, the GOP turned the relatively egalitarian America of the post World War II years into a banana republic ruled over by mediocrities, opportunists, common crooks and bigots. It is easy enough and accurate to say of the post-Abramoff GOP that it is no longer a political party. The GOP has become a crime syndicate, quite possibly a criminal conspiracy.

Now the GOP, increasingly unpopular for its jingoistic support for and complicity with the illegitimate regime of George W. Bush, is mounting a campaign against Democratic efforts to undo just a portion of the harm that has been done this nation by the back to back misrules of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. It is the Fairness Doctrine that the GOP now has in its cross hairs.

Let us dispel upfront some of the lies that are told about the Communications Act of 1934 and the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Predictably, both will be "positioned" by the GOP as increased government regulation. In fact, the Act itself made its purpose with respect to the "regulation" of content very clear:
§ 559. Obscene programming

Whoever transmits over any cable system any matter which is obscene or otherwise unprotected by the Constitution of the United States shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.
Simply, if your speech is protected by the US Constitution, specifcally, the First Amendment, then your speech on the air is likewise protected. There is, then, no "regulation" or "censorship" applied to broadcasting that is not applied to all speech under the First Amendment. May we close the door on that issue now?
§ 326. Censorship

Nothing in this chapter shall be understood or construed to give the Commission the power of censorship over the radio communications or signals transmitted by any radio station, and no regulation or condition shall be promulgated or fixed by the Commission which shall interfere with the right of free speech by means of radio communication.
I have had considerable experience in this industry. I found that clause to have been the case during those years in which I was most active. Later, various assaults by the Reagan regime most certainly caused a deteriorating broadcast environment. Licensing requirements were so relaxed that now Clear Channel operates in a completely automated mode, offering no local emergency service whatsoever to most of its communities.

Why is that important? Consider rural communities in the great plans states. Without a committment from the local radio station, warnings of imminent tornadoes can be ignored. In fact, there is abundant anecdotal evidence of citizenry trying to inform local radio stations of impending storms or disasters and getting nothing but an answering machine. A timely warning of a killer tornado, for example, might mean the difference between life and death. Broadcasters operating in a purely automated mode, as Clear Channel often does, are irresponsible. Such an outlet does not deserve a license.

Clear Channel has its origins in George W. Bush's hometown of Midland, TX, a part of the country that I know well. KCRS in Midland was owned by Wendall Mayes, Clear Channel's founding family.

Goppers have already mounted a full court press to "position" the Fairness Doctrine. It will be called an abrogation of free speech by Big Brother. In fact, FOX and its five or six rivals constitute big brother and they have all but stifled dissent by eliminating citizen access to the air waves. If you don't believe me, just call up your local Fox affiliate and ask them to give you 30 minutes, a MERE 30 minutes to reply to just one of Bill O'Reilly's innumerable absurdities, distortions or outright lies. Ask Fox to give you just five minutes of prime time to reply to Sean Hannity's propaganda with just a soupcon of truth, common sense, or logic.

Call up Clear Channel and tell them you would like just 10 minutes to reply to Rush Limbaugh's life time of belligerence, outright lies, inanities and mind-numbing anti-intellectualism. Just ten minutes to counter a lifetime of crap representing nothing less than a diminution of what it means to be a human being does not seem like too much to ask. But you won't call because you know already that I am right. You know already that you won't get past the receptionist. You don't stand a chance of getting your view on the air. That's why we need to restore the Fairness Doctrine.

Savage continued to label supporters of the Fairness Doctrine "Nazis"

On the May 15 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage called Democrats who support the proposed Media  Ownership Reform Act (MORA), "National Socialists," continuing his pattern of comparing Democratic supporters of MORA to "Nazis." MORA would reinstate the "Fairness Doctrine," which, until 1987, required "that discussion of public issues be presented on broadcast stations and that each side of those issues must be given fair coverage," as the Supreme Court wrote when it upheld the doctrine in 1969.

Citing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) opposition to the Fairness Doctrine, Savage said: "If Senator Mitch McConnell will be the first to stand up against ... the National Socialists in the Democrat [sic] Party who are trying to ban free speech in this country, I will vote for any Republican." Later in the program, Savage directed a caller to an article on his website about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, saying, "[T]he reason I want you to do that is because there are people in this country who would gladly line up conservatives and shoot them against the wall." When the caller responded that those who would do so are "mentally insane," Savage replied, "No, they're not. They're mainstream progressives." He added: "They're no different than the Bolsheviks in 1917."

As Media Matters for America has noted, Savage has repeatedly compared Democrats to "Nazis." On the May 2 broadcast of his radio show, Savage called MORA's author, Rep. Maurice

Hinchey (NY), the "chief National Socialist," adding that Hinchey is seeking "the final solution for conservatives on talk radio." Additionally, on the May 11 broadcast, Savage denounced Rep. Robert Wexler's (FL) questioning of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales during a May 10 congressional hearing about the firing of US attorneys: "The last time I saw a politician scream at someone like that was in Nazi Germany in the kangaroo court trial against people who conspired to kill Hitler."

The Savage Nation reaches more than 8 million listeners each week, according to Talkers Magazine, making it the third most-listened-to talk radio show in the nation, behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show.
That's why the GOP will fight the Fairness Doctrine with an organized campaign of propaganda and outright lies. The GOP does not want you to be on the air unless you are spouting GOP propaganda and talking points. The GOP does not want to hear your voice. The GOP will fight your efforts to be heard above the right wing noise machine. The GOP will deprive you of Free Speech and call it "liberty". The GOP will subvert the Constitution and call it "Americanism". The GOP will suck up to Fox to deprive you of the blessings of Democracy and pretend that all is "fair and balanced".

Having divided the nation into haves and have nots, the GOP now divides the nation ideologically. By eliminating the Fairness Doctrine the GOP unleashes upon an unsuspecting nation the Four Horsemen of a Propaganda Apocalypse: ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, and the GOP thought police.

Now, let's consider what the bill restoring the Communications Act of 1934 - called "Nazi" by Savage - will accomplish.

Bill Summary

I. Guarantees Fairness in Broadcasting

Our airwaves are a precious and limited commodity that belong to the general public. As such, they are regulated by the government. From 1949 to 1987, a keystone of this regulation was the Fairness Doctrine, an assurance that the American audience would be guaranteed sufficiently robust debate on controversial and pressing issues. Despite numerous instances of support from the US Supreme Court, President Reagan's FCC eliminated the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, and a subsequent bill passed by Congress to place the doctrine into federal law was then vetoed by Reagan.

MORA would amend the 1934 Communications Act to restore the Fairness Doctrine and explicitly require broadcast licensees to provide a reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.
II. Restores Broadcast Ownership Limitations

Nearly 60 years ago, the Supreme Court declared that "the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is essential to the condition of a free society." And yet, today, a mere five companies own the broadcast networks, 90 percent of the top 50 cable networks, produce three-quarters of all prime time programming, and control 70 percent of the prime time television market share. One-third of America's independently-owned television stations have vanished since 1975.

There has also been a severe decline in the number of minority-owned broadcast stations; minorities own a mere four percent of stations today.
  • MORA would restore a standard to prevent any one company from owning broadcast stations that reach more than 35 percent of US television households.

  • The bill would reduce local radio ownership caps to limit a single company from owning more than a certain number of stations within a certain broadcast market, with the limit varying depending upon the size of each market.

  • Furthermore, the legislation would restore the Broadcast-Cable and Broadcast-Satellite Cross-Ownership Rules to keep a company from having conflicting ownerships in a cable company and/or a satellite carrier and a broadcast station offering service in the same market.

  • Finally, MORA would prevent media owners from grandfathering their current arrangement into the new system, requiring parties to divest in order to comply with these new limitations within one year.
III. Invalidates Media Ownership Deregulation

MORA would invalidate the considerably weakened media ownership rules that were adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2003; rules that are now under new scrutiny through the FCC's Future Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The legislation further prevents the FCC from including media ownership rules in future undertakings of the commission's Biennial Review Process.
IV. Establishes a New Media Ownership Review Process

MORA creates a new review process, to be carried by the FCC every three years, on how the commission's regulations on media ownership promote and protect localism, competition, diversity of voices, diversity of ownership, children's programming, small and local broadcasters, and technological advancement. The bill requires the FCC to report to Congress on its findings.

V. Requires Reports for Public Interest

MORA requires broadcast licensees to publish a report every two years on how the station is serving the public interest. The legislation also requires licensees to hold at least two community public hearings per year to determine local needs and interests.
An old shibboleth states that a revolutionary faction will first seize a nation's media. Both the US media and the people were well served and protected under the terms of the US Communications act of 1934. The people were guaranteed continued ownership of the airwaves themselves, free speech was guaranteed, opposing voices had access to the "air". Despite protestations by an increasingly rabid right wing, licenses were not difficult to get.

My first boss opened an FM station in Odessa, TX for an investment of less than $20,000. It was operated virtually hassle free for years. The most odious requirement was that of keeping a station log. Eventually, automation would eliminate even that chore. I could never understand why owners were so unhappy considering that the government had virtually guaranteed them a good living.

Alas - rapacious radicals were not content to share the airwaves with mere rabble. This revolutionary elite would find in Reagan a means by which our airwaves could be seized. With the ascension of Fox, the coup d'etat became the fait accompli.

Big Brother had arrived.


 Reagan's so-called campaign of de-regulation gutted the Communications Act of 1934. It succeeded in the goal about which even Reganites dared not speak: that of giving to the increasingly radical and theorcratic right wing the control of our nation's media. They have largely succeed. As author Mark Crispen Miller relates, however, the radical theorcrats and right wing extremists are not done. The worst is yet to come unless we act to counter this enemy within.

Miller hits a home run with this one. He is ABSOLUTELY correct. It will be a miracle if this nation survives this assault on every principle that made us a free nation. The Theocrats support the GOP with whom its made a bargain. The GOP, however, is not a political party. It's a criminal conspiracy.

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