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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