The travails of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, late of radio, bring to mind another talk radio personality. Morton Downey Jr. lost his own 1980s radio show in Sacramento, California when he derided a local politician for the man's Chinese ancestry. Downey would not apologize and KFBK-AM fired him. They brought in a quick replacement, an unknown named Rush Limbaugh, and racially provocative radio became a supercharged tradition. Downey went on to television syndication.
He was not the first shock talk host. Joe Pyne was a television pioneer. Most of what I recall, as a youth watching the show, was Pyne at a studio desk, sharing it with some liberal guest. Pyne would berate the guest to the cheers of his studio audience. They provided his leverage. His shows were not exactly a Bill Buckley Firing Line variety. He suggested that one guest gargle with razor blades, and his audience laughed and jeered. He hated homosexuals and had one fellow on who shamed him. The guest told Pyne that pretty much any member of the audience could walk down any street holding holds with a lover with no problem. "If I hold hands with the one I love, we could get arrested." Pyne ended the segment with "The only thing YOU need is a good woman." Two odd things happened. The audience was silent, and after a moment Joe Pyne apologized for the remark.
In the 1980s, Morton Downey, Jr played a little rougher. He would scream at what he called "slime" or "scumbuckets." His audience screamed along with him. Once, when he paused for breath, his guest calmly asked, "So anyone who disagrees is a 'pablum puking liberal'? Is that how it works?" Downey lamely explained the format. Another guest, a black civil rights activist, challenged him more directly. "I'll tell you something, you won't have the guts to say back to my face." Downey smiled at the challenge. It was HIS show, and he had the audience with him. The man looked him in the eye and said, "I love you."
Eventually the ratings died away. There was a scandal involving Nazis attacking him in a men's room, painting a swastika on his face, backward as if drawn by looking in a mirror. Downey eventually departed his show. He was diagnosed with cancer, and died a few years later. He described in an interview the cards and messages from liberals, including Senator Edward Kennedy. He was bitter about the lack of concern from conservatives. He apologized specifically for encouraging young people to smoke, and spent his last years campaigning against the habit. He said he regretted allowing his show to become so extreme, and often described himself as "a bastard."
As Christians, we are tempted to betray our faith by judging people as opposed to actions. Is the hurt Downey generated mitigated by his late repentance? I hope so. Are Lee Atwater's filthy tricks on behalf of Republicans mitigated by his deathbed apology? How about Robert Byrd's life of civil rights support after so many years of opposition, including a brief stint in the KKK? John Newton wrote "Amazing Grace" and became a voice against slavery after decades as a slave trader, decades during which he put hundreds of Africans into chains. The Apostle Paul is first mentioned in the Bible as Saul of Tarsus, devoted to killing and imprisoning early Christians.
We believe in redemption. In part, it implies hope for all who need to turn from the evils haunting humanity. Laura Schlessinger, most Christians, many of other faiths, some with no beliefs at all. You. Me. We all need that hope.
It got out of control because the producers ... wanted me to top myself every night. If I did something outlandish on Monday night, on Tuesday night, we'd have to think of something even more outlandish. And after awhile, you work yourself toward the edge of the trampoline and you fall off. I fell off a number of times and I found it very displeasing.
- - Morton Downey, Jr., shock talk host, interviewed in early 1990s
James Wigderson illustrates why the rest of us refer to him as Mister James Wigderson SIR with a brief analysis of a local race that includes insights on why local primaries are hard to predict, how Republican traditions are becoming displaced, and how over-the-top campaigns can backfire. Mister James Wigderson SIR is a remarkably gifted writer, but he is devoutly conservative. Tragically, this makes it difficult to swing him over to the dark side.
It's okay to read Slant Right's John Houk, but don't forget to wash your hands right after. He attacks Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as a "fake moderate" (truth here and here) and includes a diatribe on the Terrorist Mosque (sic), Ground Zero Mosque (sic), and 911 Mosque (sic). Sick.
- David Everitt-Carlson of The Wild Wild East Dailies in Vietnam has thoughts, with graphs, about workplace motivation and euphemisms.
Dick Armey is a very smart man. He always has been. He and Newt Gingrich crafted the strategy that brought Republicans to power in the House in 1994, although he let Newt have the credit. He became House Majority Leader under Gingrich and stayed there during the second Clinton term and the first couple of years of the Bush Presidency. When the Bush administration made it clear military bases would have to close as a cost cutting measure, he figured out a way for Republicans to steer clear of the firestorm of angry residents. He created an independent nonpolitical commission to identify which military bases to target.
He also worked on a lot of projects that never quite fell into place. He worked out plans to replace the progressive tax with a flat tax that would shift taxes to poor and middle class people and away from the wealthy. He worked out how to end farm programs. Like most Republicans who want to privatize Social Security, he hated the program. He could not understand why Americans supported it. But, unlike his colleagues, he worked out specific ways to abolish it. He just couldn't generate popular support.
He has been out of office for 8 years. But now he is planning how to take control of the Republican Party. He is backed by Richard Mellon Scaife, the extreme right wing gazillionaire who previously financed the "vast rightwing conspiracy" behind some of the accusations against President Clinton. His organization is called FreedomWorks and it finances a part of the Tea Party section of the Republican Party.
He is quite open about taking over the GOP. He co-wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal about the strength of the movement. It is the inchoate rage, the directionless nature of a movement without clear agenda that presents the opportunity.
The tea party movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party, but a hostile takeover of it.
The problem with his plan is the nature of the movement he wants to use. It is not a creature of strategy. Rather it is a sociological movement within a shrinking political party. As the GOP becomes more extreme, moderates leave. This moves it to more extremism, so conservatives who are not rightwing enough are pushed away, and so it goes. Each cycle to the right loses more Republicans, which pushes the party more to the right.
The takeover, if Armey is right, will place him at the center of the maelstrom, a vortex where big money meets indiginous rage. It is the place of his dreams, if he can mount, and stay atop, the tiger.
We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind and soul Shma' Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.
If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one Mr. Pearl.
And I am here to inform you, with the full authority of the Quranic texts and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, that to say La ilaha illallah Muhammadun rasulullah is no different.
It expresses the same theological and ethical principles and values.
We are here especially to seek your forgiveness and of your family for what has been done in the name of Islam.
- - Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, Muslim holy leader, February 23, 2003
Expressing solidarity with the family of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, at a
memorial service at B'nai Jeshurun synagogue in Manhattan. Imam Rauf
was invited by the Pearl family to speak against the terrorists who had
kidnapped and killed Pearl.
After 9/11, President Bush wisely defined the struggle as aimed only at terrorists. We were not at war with Islam, regardless of the propaganda of bin Laden. There were hundreds of initiatives, not all of them well thought out.
The government enlisted America's children to make friends with Muslim children in the Middle East. Kids around the nation sent homemade friendship cards to new penpals overseas. Of course they would write back. At a time of deadly Antrax scares, nobody thought about the effect on the United States Postal Service of hundreds of thousands of oddly shaped envelopes from Arab countries with crude, childlike lettering.
The administration used phrases that immigrant cab drivers could have guided us away from. We described the campaign against al Qaeda as a crusade, belatedly recognizing the somewhat negative connotations that an unfortunate history of religious warfare put on those words. When military strategists labeled our invasion of Afghanistan "Operation Eternal Justice" it was without cultural insight. "Eternal" could apply only to the Creator of all life. We quickly renamed the effort "Enduring Freedom."
We needed expert help. As US efforts became less ham-handed, more targeted, and more effective, the FBI recruited Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of New York to help put together counter-terrorism programs. He quickly became a valued asset. He was respected, and he hated al Qaeda for its perversion of faith. The Republican administration expanded his role, sending him abroad, putting a face on the respect and freedom Muslims enjoy in the United States. The message remained the same and Rauf embodied that message: the United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam.
The proposed New York Islamic center is sponsored by the anti-terrorism fighter Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and it is at the center of a new outbreak of prejudice. But other, even more extreme movements against Muslims manifest themselves around the country. MSNBC's resident conservative Republican Joe Scarborough decries the outbreak of bigotry, but offers mitigation. Muslims here, he points out, enjoy more freedom than they would in their own countries. He forgets that most Muslims here are already in their own country, being ... you know ... Americans.
Answering the same transparently wrong charges is an unending task. Newt Gingrich compares Muslims to Nazis. They aren't. Politicians accuse Rauf of sympathizing with the terrorists he works to crush. Opposition to Islam is viewed as anti-terrorism. Support of Muslim freedom to worship puts a thumb in the eye of terrorists. In the short term, well reasoned arguments don't work against bigotry, because bigotry is not based on reason.
The central fact about the uproar over efforts to suppress religious freedom is that it is very, very ugly. The central fact about support for our Muslim brothers and sisters is that it is simply the right thing to do.
America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.
- - President George W. Bush, September 17 2001
Speaking at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., six days after the
September 11 attacks.
In the 75 years that Social Security has been around, it has become the most successful, most popular government program in existence. It is also the largest program. Estimates vary on how long the program can be self-sustaining. Even the harshest critics seem to think the program will be fine until 2037, when it may deplete its reserves, which are now considerable, and have to revert to a pay-as-you-go basis. But the need for revamping seems to fade when we consider the simple step of requiring wealthy participants to fully participate like everyone else.
Republican plans to privatize Social Security face two great obstacles in public opinion.
First, it looks risky. The most common variation of Republican privatization involves diverting some or all of Social Security funds into the stock market. That looked like a shaky scheme in 2005. At the moment, it strikes most people as a crazy sort of gamble.
Second, advocates of privatization include a disproportionate number of Republicans who simply hate Social Security and have called for it to end. It is wrong to say that everyone who seeks to revamp the program is plotting to destroy it. But it is undeniable that, generally, the most enthusiastic proponents of privatization are those Republicans most opposed to the very concept of Social Security.
"We need to phase Medicare and Social Security out," said Sharron Angle, Senate candidate from Nevada. She has adopted, as a model, the privatization program of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1980's. The biggest drawback of her proposal is that the experiment on which it was modeled could not cover everyone. In fact, Chile eventually had to go to public funding. The program she hopes to use as a privatization model has been abandoned.
Other Republicans are skeptical about any guarantees of retirement for seniors. Ken Buck, running for the Senate from Colorado calls Social Security "a horrible policy." He says it is "fundamentally against what I believe." Ron Johnson of Wisconsin calls it "a giant Ponzi scheme." The Ponzi scheme accusation is echoed by Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Roy Blunt, Senate candidate here in Missouri is not completely opposed to some sort of sponsored retirement. He wants to replace Social Security with personal accounts made up of mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. He is joined by Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Toomey has faith that if accounts are diversified enough, the risk of working people having their retirement wiped out will be minimized.
Minimizing stock market gambles does seem more prudent than simply abolishing Social Security. The question Republicans need to answer is this: Why minimize when we can simply reject such risks?
I'm saying it can't be fixed. It's broken.
- - Sharron Angle (R-NV), Senatorial Candidate, May 19, 2010
On phasing out Social Security, replacing it with a privatized Republican
Comment from : dave [Visitor]
Jmyste, you miss the point.
Olbermann and Maddow (who at one hour a night are the left wing media at this point) pretty much have the same point of view that they have always had. They are not extreme. You can go to the left of them and find more left wing ideas. Also, they do criticize Obama - every chance they get. With Limbaugh and the rest, they go off on a wild tangent and then, to prove they are not extreme, go further to the right. We started with privatizing the schools, then moved on to torture, then a complete rewrite of the Constitution (changing the first and fourteenth amendments, for starters).
The problem is that Olbermann and Maddow don't even voice their own agenda anymore : they are basically the voices in the wilderness saying what a bad idea whatever the right wing wants to do next is. I don't see how that makes them the extremists.
Comment from : JMyste [Visitor]
I wish I had more time to backup my statement with research, but then I may end up disagreeing with myself anyway, so it is not a total misfortune.
I cannot debate your position that Rachel Maddow and Keith O have always lived on the extreme left. Their increasing popularity is causing the left to move over to their extreme position, though, as they are two of the main liberal opinion makers.
They both act as retained attorneys, not as logical analysts. Extreme conservatives often attack republican leadership, as extreme liberals often attack Obama. No difference there.
Both sides will usually defend, or at least show sympathy for, their leading politicians when they are faced with scandals, and will, without logical reason or thought, attack the other side, when it suffers scandal. I see no difference there.
So I am left with your statement that the extreme conservative position is growing increasingly conservative whereas the extreme liberal position is no more liberal than it has always been. I must assume this is the point I missed.
After careful consideration, I must concede that I did in fact miss that point, and it is a good one.
In a weak attempt to refute it, I would like to point out that the liberal majority in America is visibly moving further to the left, even if the left opinion makers are stagnant. The famed “liberal media” was never that liberal. This was a myth created by conservatives who mistook a lack of support for extreme conservatism as liberalism. While some editors of the more prominent newspapers in America were clearly Democrats, the more prominent voices were often conservative and for a while it seemed there were no good counter voices (in the days before Maddow and Keith O).
It is possible that even if the political center in America becomes microscopically small and what remains is a stagnant far left and far right that is moving more right, then only the far right would implode.
A few years ago, the vast majority of Democrats were more moderate than they are today. As you pointed out, that does mean that those who would become the constructors of modern day liberal opinion were more moderate. It does, however, mean to me that the left is moving left.
I think this primarily because I must. If this were not the case, then I would be entirely mistaken, and that is one analysis that I refuse to consider.
Each week there is a beautiful time of common prayer at the house of worship I attend. Our pastor calls upon our Lord to hear individual names lifted by members of the congregation. I frequently pray for a co-worker who, a few years ago, killed himself. Especially in hard economic times, the measure of human worth by possessions or power or accomplishment is inadequately answered by religious institutions with a view of a vengeful God: a view that says you are worthless, and nothing you can do will change that.
I have a lifelong friend with what may well prove to be a fatal illness. His bravery and perseverance have won my admiration hundreds of times over. He, in turn, has enjoyed a closer than close friendship with a kindred spirit whose extreme illness has been one of many things that has formed an emotional bond between them. Their two man support group has sustained them both through tough times.
When my friend's friend committed suicide, I was surprised by my own physical reaction, and the contrast with what I felt at the death of my co-worker. It was as if I was re-living the news of the first death more intensely while hearing of the second. I experienced a shortness of breath, a short-term inability to concentrate, and an urge to walk. I have no real explanation for the contrast. I remain a mystery to myself.
G. Jeffrey MacDonald ministers in the United Church of Christ. He laments, in the NY Times, the incredible pressures pastors face in addressing spiritual needs of their flocks. He discusses conflict "between paths of personal integrity and those that portend greater job security" in a view of worship that increasingly is becoming what he calls "a consumer experience." He writes: "Clergy need parishioners who understand that the church exists, as it always has, to save souls by elevating people’s values and desires."
I am sympathetic to his central point: that clergy are under pressure to deny that part of their mission that goes beyond a pat on the back. Yet it seems to me that souls are not saved by superficial elevation of general values. The central truth expressed as Jesus summarizes spiritual law is that love for our creator comes with a conviction that there is hardcore immutable value intrinsic to every human soul. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians contains a powerful treatise on love: That if he had the faith to move mountains "but have not love, I am nothing." It is a poetic expression of first principle.
The emotional and spiritual recognition of immutable worth contains the seeds of all we would want to have associated with followers of Jesus. When we experience the conviction that all members of the human family have a value that cannot be touched by anything felt, done, thought, touched, or experienced, we are led to a forgiven, forgiving, supportive relationship with everyone we meet. When we assign pastors to carry that message alone, we are missing something in our own hearts. If we get even part of the message of Jesus, we are compelled, almost involuntarily, to share that central insight:
You are worthwhile and valued. And there is nothing you can do about it.
Artful addition to a warning sign
For more graffiti, visit http://hackedirl.com
Studies by the Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and the Administration itself show that tax cuts do not come anywhere close to paying for themselves over the long term.
- - Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 26, 2006
Will the tax cuts pay for themselves? As a general rule, we do not think tax cuts pay for themselves. Certainly, the data presented above do not support this claim.
- - Edward Lazear, Chair of Council of Economic Advisors, Sept. 28, 2006
In testimony before the Senate Budget Committee on behalf of the
administration of President George W. Bush