Air America hosts book guests differently, relishing any chance to debate right wingers on the air, particularly Rachel Maddow and Thom Hartmann who makes this a regular feature. Since the channel was 'rescued' by former NYC Consumer Advocate Mark Green, Air America has noticeably reduced a pejorative tone, ditching a former host who regularly called Bush and company "lying bastards" and relegated the fiery Sam Seder to the weekend-only penalty booth.
Though Randi Rhodes vs. Oliver North and Bill O'Reilly vs. NPR's Terry Gross represent mesmerizing trainwreck-radio spectacles, it's every media outlet down to the individual employee that must police it's own sensationalism and bias to conform to the traditions of their profession, and the "truth and justice" our founding fathers (and Superman), would expect of us. Despite the satisfaction of a good zinger, we may forget how refreshing it is to hear intelligent, cordial debate, because in real life, off the media Matrix, conflicts are not resolved in 10-minute segments. Many Americans need to be reminded that we are a nation of many stripes and opinions, and the tenuous balance between the responsibility to interact with one another as a people united by respect and tolerance and the individual liberty to "talk out of one's ass" has been tipped in the scramble for profit and power.
Using the cult recruitment trick of demonizing them and self-aggrandizing the morality of us, Conservative talk keeps it neat and simple, selling national and local products and services, which have included investments in for-profit health-care marketing futures closely tying into right wing policy advocacy. As in any business, sales depend on buyer impulse and gullibility, but here is programming that for "three hours a day" molds and grooms listeners, asking for blind loyalty while the government they apologize for continues to funnel our national treasure into fewer and fewer hands.
NeoConservative must mean anti-Conservative
Even more disconcerting is how effective Rush/Sean have been in claiming Conservatism for themselves. In becoming juggernaut "poobahs" who have positioned themselves as the right's official mouthpieces, many traditional Conservatives take exception, preferring onto Rush and Sean the term "NeoConservative".
The most fundamental tenets of Conservatism as I understand them are: small, non-intrusive government, fiscal responsibility and strong morality. But widely and roundly considered "shills" for the NeoCon GOP, Rush and Sean have rallied listeners to support exactly the opposite in our government for the better part of a decade.
During this period, the government has begun collecting information of private citizens, data mining, surveilling calls, wiretapping phones, searching homes and property, gathering private information on financial transactions and websites visited or even books read. Also intimidating reporters, trumping up cases and abandoning habeas corpus, this KGB-style state intrusion is all excused under the "threat of terror" - though there have been few actual terrorists caught with these tools, they have been found to have botched hundreds of National Security Letters requests and clearly violated privacy statutes. For any actual terrorists nabbed, convictions would become difficult because the letter of the law wasn't followed in compiling evidence, so the entire enterprise becomes ponderous, especially in light of the origin of FISA, designed to prevent Presidents from eavesdropping on citizens after Nixon did so to gather dirt on his political detractors.
In terms of fiscal responsibility, the NeoCon ethos promulgated onto America by the Bush Administration via radio flacks has plunged America into disastrous territory, ballooning the national deficit to almost double the amount Bush inherited. Bush has run record annual budget deficits as well, outspending the worst Democratic presidents in arms build-ups and licensing giveaways that have rained prosperity onto crony contractors.
The divide between rich and poor has increased, shooting upwards of a trillion dollars up the "stovepipe" towards the top 1/10th of 1% of earners through generous tax cuts in the fancy zip codes while wages stagnate for the rest of us. We will also see our grandchildren saddled with runaway debt held in large part by our greatest economic rivals: China, Japan and the Saudis.
Most lately, the $200 billion dollar bail out of Bear Stearns combines two anti-Conservative notions together: government interference in a freemarket economy with 'socialism for the wealthy' - not the first time a Bush has written checks to reward corporate malfeasance, late in the day on a Friday without much media notice.
Regardless of your religious denomination or spirituality, the ethics of the government under the NeoCons has been appalling. The Abramoff and Enron networks have disintegrated public trust, spreading wide this "culture of corruption". Beginning within mere weeks of inauguration in 2001, the Bush administration offered policy for sale at Cheney's Energy meetings, for which investigators still haven't seen the logs, in violation of disclosure statutes. But the public has been shielded from much of the actual news of this.
Any broadcaster with basic Judeo-Christian morals should hold "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness" to include deceiving audiences by withholding important information. Examples include the blockbuster revelations that Colin Powell privately doubted the Iraq intel prior to his UN speech, suspicious of Curveball, the White House's "false witness". Also, the corroborating George Tenet allegations, the Condoleeza-Chevron bribery scandal, the vice-president's DC Madam patronage and books filled with documented electoral shenanigans.
War Profiteering Finds It's Voice
As the staunchly Conservative Republican Dwight Eisenhower divulged in 1961, U.S. citizens need to keep a growing internal cancer from spreading through the halls of power, infecting our leadership with sin and greed - the wealth offered via military contractors prodding lawmakers for war. This industry would persist however, buying influence in every Congressional district in the country. They funded lobbies and "policy institutes" to advocate for war through all channels, including hand-picking candidates to run on the "military-industrial stooge" ticket. With everyone in place, the falsified report of attack in the Gulf of Tonkin gave us a harried, hurried Senate vote for military action and a generation of young Americans all the war we could ask for, via an involuntary draft.
Gradually, the military-industrial complex grew Congressional-media-lobbying tentacles, and could not have produced a better daily infomercial then Rush Limbaugh's show. Representing the precise aims of the ultra-wealthy, Rush projected a personality with a freakish ability to convince vast armies of middle class Republicans to vote against the interests of their progeny, ignoring the fact that GOP economic policies were enormously increasing the national debt the U.S. will have to repay with interest. Rush himself became vastly wealthy while convincing large swaths of the US to abandon President Eisenhower's warning that money was clouding the judgment of our strong, moral military and their civilian leaders.
Hannity picked up the ratings torch in recent years, imploring his vast audience to fear the terror "right around the corner". His defense of Bush since the invasion of Iraq has strictly followed the official story that radical mid-East terrorists are the number one threat to Americans, also ignoring Ike's dead-on prophesies. Hannity has backed away from Bush on issues like selling US port security contracts and amnesty-tinged immigration policy, but is clearly following the money in defending the preemptive invasion of Iraq as the center of the "war on terror", even as Halliburton, the largest privatized defense contractor quietly exported all it's "cost-plus" profits out of our economy to their new Dubai digs.
Sean sticks with Bush in the debate over whether Alberto Gonzales' enemy combatant classification creates a loophole in the U.S. Constitution allowing torture, rendition, suspension of habeas corpus and makeshift military tribunals. Sean also claims eavesdropping on private citizens is necessary but has never explained why it has to be warrantless eavesdropping without records or corporate accountability. Perhaps Hannity would support oversight and paper trails if a Democrat assumed control of the NSA.
Sean's value to the ultra-elite soars as he defends tax cuts designed for them, explaining to listeners that tax breaks allow rich people and corporations to graciously create jobs for poor people, leaving out the opposing viewpoint that the same cuts would go much farther spread out over the breadth of the American middle class, just as the Earned Income Credit did in the 90s. Sean crows about the U.S. having the best health care in the world, calling suggestions to offer universal coverage or lower costs part of a larger "socialist agenda". But the U.S. doesn't have the best health care in the world, unless you are extremely rich, like Sean Hannity. For most of us, the U.S. is 37th behind Costa Rica.