Howard Stern and Clear Channel

[Ed: Boy, it's hard to say which of the above referenced names give me more agita...]

Much has been said and written this week about Clear Channel's decision to remove Howard Stern's radio program on six channels around the country this week.

As someone who used to have to listen to Howard because her housemate went through a period of really enjoying him, it would be nigh impossible for me to defend Howard Stern. He appeals to the most basic, banal human experience. Until "reality TV" hit us, Howard was the only place to go to find live lesbian dwarf dating, on-air passing of gas, and beat up the homeless competitions.

Howard - just like Rush Limbaugh and Dennis Miller and that ilk - thrive on enraging the dumb masses to hate and fear, and have managed to become rich by playing the public for fools, all the time while lining their own pockets lucratively by aligning themselves with the powerful. Howard, Rush, and Dennis are rabid power and status seekers, and the powerful they touch are the same people who scream about seeing Janet Jackson's nipple covering on the SuperBowl show while making a mint on the "erectile dysfunction meds for everyone" ads running on the same show.

Clear Channel, for its own reasons this week, sat there before Congress this week pledging their repentence (their spokesperson seemed to grovel, in fact). They went so far as to suggest Congress should be the ultimate authority for what the public sees and hears.

Then they took Howard off, but just in six markets. Howard hadn't changed; Clear Channel did - to make the powerful righteous Congress members look like they'd bullied the corporate giant to its knees. Uh huh. Those same Congress people were happy to accept Clear Channel donations from profits made from the likes of Howard. They'll be happy to do so again when Clear Channel, realizing it's losing money, brings Howard (ugh) back to those markets.

So forgive me if I don't buy the "Howard Stern stands up against restriction of First Amendment speech" passion play. Howard doesn't stand for anything more than Howard (and boy, does he seem like a pathetic creature despite his huge income, super models, and attempts to look "cool and 17" instead of geeky and about 50).

This matter isn't even about Free Speech, except very peripherally. It's about Congress and media giants playing games with us. They saw a nipple and fell over apoplectic.

Too Much Shit - Too Little Time

I just dropped a note about Haiti and this reminds me of a problem that I notice more and more each day: there is so much crap going on around the world right now, seeming to heighten every week, that it's impossible to feel like you have a good grasp on any particular issue right now, even for those (what seems like) relative few who care.

Between our posture of supporting landmines, questions about what's really going on in Haiti, the widespread terror and horror being wrought in the name of the "War Against Terror", the Iranians reporting we've had Osama for awhile but we're keeping him on ice for an "October surprise" guaranteed to hand Mr. Bush the WH again, to John Ashcroft treating the Bill of Rights like a diaper wipe, to new flu strains that could reach pandemic proportions, to spying on the UN and Hans Blix and company, to shit happening globally in places we'll never see, and a Dept of Defense report that says our environment will soon be inhabitable because of global warming, there's just too much for any normal human to begin to fathom.

After all, we want to see the world a better place. No normal human wants to see this kind of raging fevered hint of human extinction.

And the media sure isn't going to report on it in 30 second soundbytes, either.

Are WeBehind the Haiti Chaos?

Let me link you to Jeralyn Merritt's site that talks about this; I caught just part of the Democracy Now show discussing this yet what little I heard made me quite concerned.

Naturally, we're hearing nothing about this in our mainstream media. They seem just as confused about what's going on there as the viewers are (and face it, I suspect lots of folks are completely tuned out on the subject).


Greenspan, and Bush, and Social Security... Oh My!

Can anyone - besides billionaires - still support this administration after hearing Mr. Greenspan say that normal working people will have to get fewer benefits from Social Security so that billionaires can have more money to spend?

I've got a different take on it; however, you can tell I'm not an economist or a student of Medicare or public law. STOP providing SS benefits for anyone post retirement age who has $70K or more in annual income; then provide them on a sliding scale to those who make between $30 and $70K with full benefits to those earning less than $30K. Definitely raise retirement age, even if it's just to age 68.

Oh yes, one more thing. STOP THE BUSH TAX CUTS.

That should help tremendously.


New Al Qaeda Tape

Seems a bit strange that a new Al Qaeda tape has surfaced - and confirmed to be recorded by Osama's second in command - just at a time we're hearing conflicting stories of Osama being surrounded in mountains bordering Pakistan.

However, it was less strange to see CIA director George Tenet today say that catching Osama and company will hardly put an end to the threat against the US because now we have a large group of different Islamic contingents aiming at us. And they have some justification to be angry, all things considered. Even if they did not, I suspect they still might set their sights upon us.

Time to ask (again) a key question: Are we winning the War on Terror or just making it far larger, far bloodier than things were when we started?


What Do We Want the Constitution to Represent?

With Bush coming out today and declaring he definitely would support (meaning, "Give me a piece of paper and I'll sign it") a constitutional amendment to keep marriage as an institution strictly between a man and a woman, much of the talk has been emotive, about the issue of gays being able to marry.

Yet isn't the idea that we would change the Constitution even a bigger issue?

Do we really want to go on the world record, for the first time since the days of slavery, to change our constitution specifically to oppress a specific group of people? That's what this effort would do, if it passes.

I happened to speak today with at least a few people I know to be strongly-rooted Republicans when the issue came up, and all 3 people said while they oppose gay marriage because "it's just not right", they balk at amending the constitution to state this. This, for them, represents a much bigger step than allowing choice states to either offer or deny gays the right.

One said, "Well, thing is, I feel people should have a place where they could go, where it is legal. I just don't want it everywhere. So let the states decide for themselves."

There is also a rather popular misconception already brewing that Mr. Bush's idea would "sorta" allow civil unions. But it's my understanding from various news sources today that while Bush didn't attack civil unions today, any wording for such an amendment would prohibit anything approaching civil unions either.

"What Religion, Please?"

The NY news channels are all over a story that the Salvation Army has been harassing employees into revealing their church affiliation, including a former human resources director.

While SA says it does not discriminate in either providing help (not true: last I knew they would not help identified homosexuals according to several articles I've read) or in hiring practices, they say they have the right to ask.

But... why ask?

Bush Signed Off on War in 2002... not 2003

So says a Washington Times reporter in a new book, discussed here by The (London) Guardian.

IRS Stats Say Bush is Full of It

President Bush is pushing, pushing, pushing making permanent all those tax cuts and saying that Democratic efforts to roll back the top tier cuts will hurt the small business owner. But IRS evidence doesn't support the president's claims.

Rowland Has Friends in High Places

John Rowland, the governor of Connecticut, who even many local GOPers have said should resign over the many different scandals surrounding the many gifts Rowland took in exchange for awarding lucrative contracts, may have a reason for refusing to resign.

According to this article, he has friends in very high places. In fact, Poppy Bush, the president, and Jeb Bush are all offering him direct as well as indirect support in his efforts to remain governor.

While the people of Connecticut are really hurting - both financially and as a result of what their governor has done, it's wondering that the Bushes care far more about this man than they do about the people.


The Ultimate Betrayal

Buzzflash notes this link for a Howard Zinn article, so titled, from The Progressive. It's powerful, too, including:

    The betrayal of GIs and veterans continues in the so-called war on terrorism. The promises that the U.S. military would be greeted with flowers as liberators have disintegrated as soldiers die every day in a deadly guerrilla warfare that tells the GIs they are not wanted in Iraq. An article last July in The Christian Science Monitor quotes an officer in the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq as saying: "Make no mistake, the level of morale for most soldiers that I've seen has hit rock bottom."

Scary Stuff

HIV infection has feverishly grown in Europe and Central Asia from 30,000 reported cases in 1998 to more than 1.5 million.

I'm seriously concerned that the cutbacks and changes in education in this country through "abstinence only" training rather than broad sex education and issues in public health could lead to a grave rise in the new infection rate here as well.

Hey, I'm all for abstinence. I tend to believe the more mature someone is before he or she becomes sexually active, the better. But we need well educated young people, who appreciate the risks and understand what to do if they fall off the abstinence wagon.

Christ, the T-Shirt

Another ewww... Deborah Duhville is discussing how many items are being merchandised in connection with Gibson's "The Passion." I can't really anticipate the desire to wear a crucifixion T-shirt or drink from a Lazarus coffee mug.

There is just nothing holy about this movie or anything about it. Mel Gibson should be ashamed.

Slight Correction

Come to think about it, Rick Santimonious.. er.. Santorum (R- he makes Arlen Spector look a heluva lot better) likes to bring up the issue of bestiality a lot, too.

Lord. If I didn't feel slimed enough discussing the fascination with bestiality expressed by the far right, I certainly do now that I've invoked the image of Santorum.


OK, this one escapes me. Why does almost any pundit who comes out livid because gay marriages are being conducted ultimately end up telling us that this will lead to the legalization of bestiality?

What's with this fear and fascination with... um... beasts? Since there is no logical possible way to explain the jump in thinking - if you allow two human adults to legalize their love for one another equates to "let's have fun with Rover" - I'm left wondering about twisted minds.

In fact, about the only time I ever hear bestiality mentioned, it's from someone who could easily pass as the popular concept of a Bible thumper. Exactly what do they discuss in fundamentalist churches, anyway?

Ewww... I want to take a shower.

NEA Branded Terrorists

Rod Paige, in addressing a group of governors, referred to the National Education Association as a terrorist organization.

What would have caused the head of the Department of Education to level the worst label possible against teachers? Because they don't like the "No Child Left Behind" act, the one that sets extremely high standards to be sure the public education system will fail, and then is underfunded.

Now, Rod says he's joking. But he's been full of really uneducated opinions over the course of his tenure, including that Christian schooling is what America is about. True if you go to a parochial school, but otherwise.. unh uh.

I don't regard this as a joke, however. This administration spends a great deal of time and energy thinking up labels they can place on anyone who opposes them. To label teachers as terrorists because they voice legitimate concerns about public education during the Bush years is beyond the pale. I also feel it speaks volumes about what this administration things about the schooling of our young people.

No parent should reasonably vote for the reelection of this evil clown academy.

Another Point re Josh Marshall

Today, he talks about how one of the primary reasons the Bush military issue hasn't gone away is that those around this administration keep lying about it.

Yesterday, it was laughable to see Saxby ("trick knee") Chambliss sent out to try to make points against John Kerry re: military service. In other words, they couldn't get John McCain, who actually served, to do this, so they sent our another man who strongly appealed attempts to draft him into service during Vietnam.

Today, Mark Racichot - in tight with this administration and the RNC since the 2000 Election debacle - actually said to NPR that Bush volunteered to go to service in Vietnam. Bush actually said quite the opposite on Meet the Press. Why? Because it was a "political war", he said. Unlike his, of course.

Did the NPR interviewer challenge him? Of course not.

In fact, for the last several days, all the talk about Bush's military service seems to come from the GOP trying to make it into something it was not. This defies all logic.

Taking the Fifth?

Josh Marshall poses some questions he would like to see asked of Scott McClellan at the WH press conference today (unfortunately, I didn't catch the press conf itself) that make me very curious about what he may know.

I hope Helen Thomas checked his site before she went in. Give 'em hell, Helen.


Ralph Nader

With Ralph Nader's announcement that he's going to run again (not as a Greenie this time) for president comes with it a lot of invective against him.

I happen to think his choice is unfortunate but it's his choice. Yes, I'd agree that he's squandering his legacy of good will among people who still very much respect the man Nader was in the '60s through the 80s. But I don't agree with efforts to stop him or defame him and I don't believe he cost Al Gore the 2000 election. I think the blame for that lay squarely with the media's treatment of Gore on the one hand and the real underhandedness on the part of the GOP in how Florida votes were counted.

Just Say No to Arnold

I'm underwhelmed that I can agree with Arnold Schwarzenegger on anything; in this case, it's the matter of allowing those born outside of the U.S. the ability to run for and serve as president.

However, much as I feel it's time to remove the brakes on that one, Arnold certainly would not be my first choice to break that particular barrier. I suspect he's not as dumb as many of us like to think, but one of the worlds' greater minds, he's not.

I think the only thing Arnold's managed to do in his four or five months in office is a) cut all programs for the poor b) grab as much cash as possible from special interest groups, far ecclipsing that of the man he replaced (and on a message of Sacramento needs to change) c) decided there needed to be no investigation into himself for groping and d) announce that the roof should be rolled back on the state house so that he can smoke cigars with his male cronies.

Arnold rode in on a popular wave and then set about abusing the same things that people hated in Gray Davis. That's reprehensible. The people of California should be sending this oversized sausage back to his mansion and his Maria.