22 August 2002

Right Wing Radio, Corporate Shills and Astroturf

It seems that the KXAM Conversations with John Dayl program has turned into nothing more than an extended infomercial for extreme right wing shills like the CATO Institute and shameful astroturf lobbyist groups like the 60 Plus Association who portray themselves as grass roots alternative retiree organization, but are merely fabrications of the pharmaceutical, manufacturing, financial, and insurance lobbies. Dressed up to look like citizens groups, they are PR arms of corporate lobbyists to frame a picture of populist sentiment for advocating measures that are in many instances not in alignment with the American public wishes.

This is what is wrong with government. The taint of big money - it's a vicious triangle, with the deeply funded think tanks promoting their political agenda, set primarily by corporate and/or commercial interests, funneling money into the coffers of politicians. It's justifiably decried, but where is the outrage on the monies that flow into the lobby groups from these organizations? I'm not talking about groups like the NRA and the NEA - I'm centering my view on the think tanks like CATO, Heritage Foundation and the astroturf groups like Global Climate Coalition (a supposed environmental group that basically echoes the interest of the coal industry), (and the worthless piece of scum that runs that, financed by CATO dollars), Microsoft funded groups like the National Taxpayers Union, etc.. The 60plus group can be included as one of the more egregious examples. Even the far right American Spectator called their fund raising tactics "shady". In 1995, they took in 1.3 million from citizens, but 60plus only kept $93,000 the rest went to archconservative Richard Viguerie.

Yet these organizations toss terms like non-partisan and independent when nothing could be further than the truth. The president, James Martin, tossed out other national privatized programs as illustrative examples for social security reform in the U.S., but the truth is those programs have been failures. The administrative costs in privatized systems, such as the ones in England and Chile, are more than 1500 percent higher than those of the U.S. system. But what enrages me is the disingenuous ploys these individuals and organizations in intentionally obscuring the notion that they are acting on a political agenda checklist, which has the interests of its big money suitors in mind, not the American citizen.

In the first hour of Dayl's program today, the guest was a CATO Institute shill, Charlotte Twight, whose latest book Dependent on DC chronicles the growth of government and the evils of big government. These people blindly prattle on about the ills of big government, yet never acknowledge that most all of the technological improvements in standard of living, condition of life, etc. would not have been possible without firsthand government involvement. Transistors, the internet, interstate highways, the weapons systems that defend our freedom all were directly attributable to the work of government, at least before the technology was given away to private enterprise to profit from. I suggest that promoting debate on the issues is a healthy deal but just polluting the airwaves with paid political pandering seems an affront to decency and intelligence.

And the irony is that most of these conservative cacklers continuously affirm the need for voters to enlighten themselves on the issues. Yet they spoon feed them the same soup of sprue that their elected legislators shovel at them.

15 August 2002

State of Talk Radio in the Valley 2002

It's even a more sorrowful deal than when I wrote State of Talk Radio in the Valley 2001. My friends ask me why I even bother listening to talk radio - they feel it's an unfruitful pasttime fraught with dogma and jingoism (well, they don't say that exactly, but it is an accurate abstract of their expressed thoughts ...). I've been listening to talk radio ever since childhood. Back in the 70's, several Pittsburgh AM and FM stations provided plenty of talk programming. I would listen to Larry King do almost six hours a night in the 80's when I worked graveyard shift or while I was studying late into the night, near the radio. But outside of a infrequent glimmer here and there, the landscape of talk radio is just littered with rubbish. But I continue to listen.

There have been some changes to the Valley lineup of radio talkers - Tony Femino departed for Oxford, Gary Segerstrom was replaced by John Dayl who had his Arizona Sunrise morning slot filled by Don McGuire, and the Gordon, Heather and Rick show was shelved in favor of the syndicated Mitch Albom show (I still can't figure out why Mitch Albom has a radio show and I wonder if their audience numbers total more than immediate friends and family ...). and Barry Young returned to KFYI in a more desireable time slot.

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12 August 2002

You Know You're in Phoenix If:

  1. Salsa goes with everything.

  2. You think a red light is merely a suggestion.

  3. You notice all of your out of state friends only visit after October and will leave by April.

  4. You see a person wearing oven mitts while they are driving & you think to yourself, "That person is SO SMART!"

  5. Most of the restaurants in town begin with "El" or "Los".

  6. You think that rocks make the best landscape.

  7. You notice your car overheating even before you begin to drive it.

  8. Your house is made of stucco and you have a red clay tile roof.

  9. You can say "Hohokam" without people saying "Bless You" afterwards.

  10. You no longer associate bridges with water.

  11. You no longer associate RIVERS with water.

  12. You see more irrigation water on the street than in the Salt River.

  13. You know a swamp cooler is not a happy hour drink.

  14. You agree that a 115 degrees is a mild temperature for the summer.

  15. Every other vehicle around you at a stop light is a 4 x 4.

  16. You can be in the snow and then drive for an hour and it will be over 100 degrees.

  17. Vehicles with open windows have the right of way in the summer.

  18. You see people in jeans and winter coats when it hits 70 degrees.

  19. You have mastered the "two-fingered" driving technique in July and August.

  20. You have discovered numerous ways of getting that seat belt on without touching the metal buckle.

  21. You have burn scars on your body from when that buckle hits your skin.

  22. You know that the pool water in the summer is warmer than your body temperature.

  23. What out of staters call Sun Tea, we call instant tea.

  24. You turn on your air conditioner in the middle of winter so you can cozy up next to the fireplace.

  25. People with black cars or black upholstery are automatically thought to be out of staters or just plain nuts.

  26. The best parking place is measured by how much shade you can get.

  27. Monday night Football begins at 7pm instead of 6pm.

  28. You can finish a big gulp in 10 minutes and then go in for seconds.

  29. There is no difference between the cold water tap and the hot water tap.

  30. On a July afternoon with all the children out of school, the streets are barren.

  31. You can get a second degree burn from opening your car door.

  32. You actually went out and bought beach supplies when you heard Tempe was getting a beach park.

  33. If you live in Tempe you are SO PROUD that you have a LAKE in your own home town.

  34. People that do not have fans in all the rooms of the house are considered to be weird.

9 August 2002

Is acceptable?

Some news stories are horrific - the recent spate of child kidnappings immediately pop into mind. Other news stories anger you for other reasons - sometimes it's about an act or court ruling that assaults our sensibility and common sense. There's a third kind, however, that just incites outrcry for the fundamental rights that are violated in the interest of the well financed. This story about Major League Baseball assailing a New York Yankees fan web site is one such example. A young Yankees fan who started a site called was stunned when he received a "cease and desist" letter from Major League Baseball properties, demanding he surrender his web site name by August 20.

I believe a resolution is in the offing, but it still involves a domain name change. And Major League Baseball Properties has been targeting other fan sites, successfully shutting down and temporarily halting Lawyers for MLBP claim that they're only acting in interests of stopping intellectual property infringement.

I could see their argument if the domain name was Or some close variation like But to take common words from a dictionary and stamp ownership on them is an affront to any sense of fairness and justice. I wonder if would trigger the same MLBP response? Or what about or maybe even The real problem is that the big corporate behemoths and giant media conglomerates have the bankroll to employ a cadre of attorneys to unleash on the average web author, whose resources may not even be enough to merit an attorney consultation.

Yet this story most likely will remain "under the radar" and even if folks stumble across it, they'll figure "so what?". Then the day will come when you'll be unable to write anything containing words that are trademarked or that may be conceived as infringing on someone else's intellectual property. You won't even be able to use somebody's name without getting official permission from some sanctioned body of authority.

Finally, this is a big public relations hubris for Major League Baseball. MLB should take a hint from other entertainment vehicles like computer and video games, where game makers will actually provide an internet fan web site development kit, with a bunch of goodies for aspring webmasters to use in publicly proclaiming their love for the developer's earnest efforts. The game developer gets free publicity and can even monitor feedback on their products through the network of fan sites. It's no wonder that baseball is receding in popularity among young Americans.