On Knowing What I Write About
Mike South takes me to task
for having suggested that, among the candidates from both parties that were in the race as of late November, when my January editorial was written, Dennis Kucinich would have made the best President, and implies that such a recommendation doesn't square with my oft-repeated recommendation that people not vote "Libertarian" in national races (though feel free in local ones) because it's a "wasted vote."
Of course, we're only talking about a primary here, not the actual presidential election - it's a no-brainer to vote Democratic in that - so supporting the guy with the best array of programs was an easy call, and more a show of support for those programs than any expectation that the candidate himself would actually come out on top. His lack of corporate support was all too obvious.
Needless to say, it's moot now; there are only two rational choices left for Super Tuesday and beyond, and I announced my pick here
But then South gets down to his real problem: I called his buddy Neal Boortz, the right-wing radio talker, a liar - which, of course, he is, at least on the subject I called him out on, insisting that Bill Clinton had been tried and convicted of perjury.
"Now while Bill Clinton was not technically convicted of perjury he was disbarred and impeached for it, a fine line I know," wrote South.
Well, it might be a "fine line" if Boortz hadn't said this
of the perjury charge: "Scooter Libby and Bill Clinton got sentenced and convicted for exactly the same crime," and later responded to a caller who tried to correct him with, "We're talking about a criminal trial, sir. The verdict was guilty." But there was no criminal trial, no verdict and no sentence. That's not a "fine line"; that's an outright lie.
South also doesn't like the fact that I call Boortz "right-wing" and a "conservative" when actually (according to South, and perhaps even Boortz himself) he's a "a right-leaning Libertarian." (What was South saying about "fine lines"?)
Indeed, Boortz may think of himself as a libertarian, but it can't hurt to note that libertarianism in America originally was founded by disaffected conservatives who thought that the hard-line Republicans gave too short a shrift to civil liberties. And (former) tax protesters like myself joined the cause because we didn't feel that Democrats understood economics well enough. But once it became clear that neither Republicans nor most Libertarians understood it very well either, there seemed little point in continuing as a libertarian, so I officially became a Democrat.
But whatever Boortz calls himself, or South calls him, President Bush seemed satisfied that Boortz was enough of a water-carrier for administration policies to have invited Boortz and several other conservatives (including Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Laura Ingraham and Janet Parshall) to a couple of private sit-downs at the White House; no liberal or centrist talkers need apply.
South also takes me to task for supporting a revised version of the Fairness Doctrine
(which he mistakenly attributes to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law) wherein habitual on-air liars would be required to admit their lies on-air and correct them ... which I opined would be somewhat more onerous for the right-wing talkers, since off-the-cuff lies are their stock-in-trade.
"What Mr Kernes doesn't bother to tell you is that he wants the free market of radio to become socialized and placed under government control," South wrote. "you see Liberal talk radio has been tried many times and every time it is a dismal failure, most recently 'Air America' comes to mind. The people who listen to talk radio simply aren't interested in hearing the likes of Al Franken, they voted with their wallets, and it's that simple. Why would you advocate forcing someone who owns a radio station to have to offer programming that loses money? That isn't American, it's socialist."
This is what's known as a "straw man argument," where someone - in this case, South - "answers" an argument the other writer (me) never made. Not once did I suggest that right-wing radio (or left, for that matter) be required to present guests who challenged the host's ideology. I only opined that liars should be forced to admit their lies - a requirement that one might think would be in the public interest; you know, the public that owns those airwaves that people like Boortz get to spew upon daily - though I admit that it's a practice that would take up much more airtime for some than others. (I estimated not more than one-third to one-half of the average Hannity or Limbaugh or O'Reilly broadcast.)
And as for whether or not the American listening audience wants to hear Al Franken, we may never know, since Air America never aired in most markets - not because it was tried in those markets and found wanting for listenership; rather, the corporations who control the overwhelming majority of radio networks in this country never allowed progressive radio to be heard in those markets, opting instead to flood the airwaves with right-wingers, who now account for more than 90% of all radio talk.
It may in part have been the barrage of this near unanimity of conservo-fascist rhetoric that prevented South from actually understanding my "Factness Doctrine" story, and may also have something to do with South calling an elitist, racist pig like Boortz his "personal friend." It's a simple matter to go to the Media Matters for America website
- an organization Boortz hates because they have the temerity to quote him verbatim - to find remarks like these:
- On the June 18 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Neal Boortz advocated building a "double fence along the Mexican border, and stop the damn invasion." Boortz continued: "I don't care if Mexicans pile up against that fence like tumbleweeds in the Santa Ana winds in Southern California. Let 'em. You know, then just run a couple of taco trucks up and down the line, and somebody's gonna be a millionaire out of that."
- During his June 21 show, Boortz offered a suggestion he said he got from a listener's email: "When we defeat this illegal alien amnesty bill, and when we yank out the welcome mat, and they all start going back to Mexico, as a going away gift let's all give them a box of nuclear waste." Boortz continued: "Give 'em all a little nuclear waste and let 'em take it on down there to Mexico. Tell 'em it can - it'll heat tortillas."
- On the March 31, 2006, broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Neal Boortz said that Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) "looks like a ghetto slut." Boortz was commenting on a March 29 incident in which McKinney allegedly struck a police officer at a Capitol Hill security checkpoint. Boortz said that McKinney's "new hair-do" makes her look "like a ghetto slut," like "an explosion at a Brillo pad factory," like "Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence," and like "a shih tzu." McKinney is the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Georgia.
- On the July 19, 2006, edition of this show, Boortz claimed that "at its core," Islam is a "violent, violent religion," called "this Muhammad guy  just a phony rag-picker," and asserted that "[i]t is perfectly legitimate, perhaps even praiseworthy, to recognize Islam as a religion of vicious, violent, bloodthirsty cretins."
Boortz also didn't have good words for minimum-wage workers:
- From the Aug. 4, 2006 edition of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, specifically the "Worst Person in the World" segment: "The bronze to the poor man's Michael Savage. Neal Boortz, trotted out that stock defense that the economy is doing well because a majority of those making minimum wage are teenagers. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics - George W. Bush, president - says he's a little off on that. Seventy-five percent making minimum wage are adults. Boortz still has an answer for them. Quote, 'How incompetent, how ignorant, how worthless is an adult that can't earn more than the minimum wage? You have to be really, really, really be a pretty pathetic human being to not be able to earn more than the human [sic] wage,' unquote."
Or the victims of Hurricane Katrina:
- (Speaking of John Edwards' speech in New Orleans, withdrawing from the presidential race): "I like this: 'Edwards' campaign will end the way it began 13 months ago, with the candidate pitching in to rebuild lives in a city still ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Edwards embraced New Orleans as a glaring symbol of what he described as a Washington that didn't hear the cries of the downtrodden.' Cries of the downtrodden, my left butt cheek. That wasn't the cries of the downtrodden; that's the cries of the useless, the worthless. New Orleans was a welfare city, a city of parasites, a city of people who could not and had no desire to fend for themselves. You have a hurricane descending on them and they sit on their fat asses and wait for somebody else to come rescue them. 'It's somebody else's job to get me out of here. It's somebody else's job to save my life. Not mine. Send me a bus, send me a limo, send me a boat, send me a helicopter, send me a taxi, send me something. But you certainly don't expect me to actually work to get myself out of this situation, do you? Haven't you been watching me for generations? I've never done anything to improve my own lot in life. I've never done anything to rescue myself. Why do you expect me to do that now, just because a levee broke?'"
And let's not even get into Boortz's fucked-up idea of a "fair tax."
"To sum it up Kernes would be better served by actually knowing what he writes about before writing about it," South concluded. "Boortz is not right about everything, but he is much more a friend to this industry than Dennis Kucinich and he is much more well spoken when speaking about this industry than Mark Kernes."
Well, I can't speak to the comparative industry-friendliness of Dennis Kucinich and Neal Boortz, though I have my suspicions, but as for me "knowing what he writes about before writing about it," you can read the above and judge for yourself ... as well as whether Boortz is "much more well spoken" (I'd have said "much better-spoken") "when speaking about this industry than Mark Kernes."
These people make me tired.