A Slightly Different Solution

I’ve already weighed in on this, so you know my position.  Congress has no business even contemplating a resolution to condemn Rush Limbaugh for his “phony soldiers” comment, just like it had no business doing the same for the Move On ad.

The circus that had ensued from both the ad and the comments have resulted in little more than a Congressional pissing contest on who could paint the other side as being MORE anti-military.

Guess what kids, the longer you keep our soldiers in Iraq, you’re all guilty of being against the troops.  But I digress.

General Wesley Clark, the one time Democratic presidential hopeful, once Congress involved, but in a slightly different manner.  He wants them to take Rush off the air… for Armed Forces Radio.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no love for the pill popping bloviator, but I’m still not sure that singling him out and ostracizing him alone is exactly the right way to go about things.  In truth, this is only a couple steps, small ones mind you, above the pissing contest described above.

As an alternative, how about we get rid of ALL of these talking head shows, never to return?  This is a tax funded radio service for the Armed Forces, and I think it highly inappropriate for AFR to be carrying what is essentially an infomercial for a hard right ideology.

Here’s how it’s supposed to go.  The military is not, politically supposed to take sides.  It is supposed to follow orders.  With Rush Limbaugh on AFR, that’s disturbingly close to an endorsement of anything he says.  And it doesn’t change if you get rid of Rush and replace him with Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, or even Rachel Maddow for that matter.

None of these people have any business being on AFR where their message can far too easily be seen as endorsed by the chain of command.

So I say get rid of them all.  Left and Right.  Rush and Rhandi Rodes.  Billo and Rachel.  Let’s get above the pissing contest and do what’s right.

9 Responses to “A Slightly Different Solution”

  1. matttbastard says:

    Goes a lot farther than a pissing contest. Rush has been one of the enablers of the right wing tilt that has unbalanced US politics over the past 15-20 years. Digby explains why going after Rush has a lot more at stake than a mere ‘tit-for-tat’ pissing contest.

    You’re falling into the fallacy of false equivalency, Kyle. Don’t allow the right-wing propagandists to once again frame the parameters of an issue with manufactured outrage.

    Randi Rhodes /= Rush Limbaugh.

    Fight back.

    Think about how different this fight would have been if, at the beginning of the ‘Betrayus’ bullshit, the Dems (and certain bloggers) hadn’t been so quick to legitimate the latest dirge from the mighty Wurlitzer with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    No centrist compromises. Rush should go because Rush is singularly odious. Full fucking stop. We shouldn’t feel obligated to offer false equivalents on the ‘left’ to also sacrifice; that’s Higher Broderism at its most Serious.

    Fight. Back.

  2. This isn’t about equality, this is about should the military be endorsing ANY political message? That’s the point. I knoow Randi and Rush aren’t equal, not by the slightest margin. But we’re talking about AFR, and my point is because this is a tax funded radio service to the military which is, in its intent, supposed to be an apolitical entity, then there shouldn’t be any kind of these politically biased shows on there at all.

  3. matttbastard says:

    But it shouldn’t become ‘let’s get rid of all political speech’? Even though your intent with this post wasn’t to create a false equivalence, that was its effect–why do you feel the need to offer an unsolicited alternative? Clark’s idea is a sound one for precisely the reason you’ve outlined. Why should we have to turn it into a bipartisan endeavour, other than keeping up the appearance of fairness?

  4. It has nothing to do with fairness, or, okay, yeah it does.

    I’ll be honest, I never tuned into the AFR. We didn’t get it on the Eisenhower, but we did get A-Farts (the television equivalent, and I don’t remember the exact acronym, just that everyone called it A-farts). And it was dull and stupid, and nobody watched it. But it was also essentially backed full force by the military.

    We’re not talking about public radio, we’re talking about a military service, and given the admittedly complex approach the military takes towards political speech, I was a little shocked to learn that AFR even carried Rush. It had no business carrying him in the first place. But I don’t want to see Rush get taken down and just be replaced by another biased talking head because none belongs there.

    As you know, I blogged for two years while in the military under a pseudonym. The GTL also. We did it because the military is very strict on how it deals with politics. So to me, this is a difference between scoring political points, or actually fixing a policy that is broken.

    Look, make no mistakes, I actually did not blog on Rush’s comments for a day or two because when I first read them I was so furious that I don’t think I could have written a post without every other word being an f-bomb. But as crude as it was, as bad as it was, it was still covered by free speech, it continues to be beyond the government’s ability to single him out and punish him for it. You can’t be for free speech, and go to the government and say, “Look, this guy said something that was pretty foul, can you do something about him?”

    What should be happening is the same thing that happened to Imus. It should be a bunch of pissed off people trying to get this jack off off the air.

    When it comes to AFR, on the other hand, to my way of seeing it, this is simply the type of programming that should have never been on their in the first place because it is essentially the equivalent of the military endorsing a particular ideology, which is wrong.

    Them’s the rules. I can’t call someone on the other side for not playing by them if I’m not willing to as well.

  5. Further, I oppose the fairness doctrine for the same reason, because you have the government getting in there and telling private industry what message they can and cannot support, or more specifically, you are telling private industry that they must support messaging even if they don’t want to or agree with it.

    It’s just wrong.

    It creates a situation that is near impossible to combat against; the millionsof radio listeners who are being fed right wing drivel morning noon and night, but again, you can’t be for free speech and support the Fairness Doctrine at the same time, they are mutually exclusive entities.

    It makes our job eighty million times harder because that means we have to combat an embedded force in the media industry, but you take up the challenge, that’s all you can do.

  6. Kyle:
    You sound like a libertarian with that speech against the Fairness Doctrine- I like it! The fact is that, while the MoveOn ad did more to hurt than help the anti-war movement (the message was unfair to a man who is in a difficult position of someone else’s making), Congress had no business wasting its time to vote on a resolution condemning it. I’m pretty sure that Gen. Petraeus had more important things on his mind than whether he was liked by MoveOn.org- you know, the whole trying to stop a civil war thing. I’m also pretty sure Congress had better things to do than to draft, debate, and vote on a resolution attacking the exercise of free speech in a political debate.

    That said, since the Senate engaged in the condemnation of MoveOn.org, I have no problem with them condemning Limbaugh’s words- at least then they show that they’ll waste their time condemning offensive speech of any kind. I’ll admit, there’s also a certain amount of schadenfreude involved in watching Limbaugh take some of his own medicine after attacking the MoveOn ad and supporting its condemnation.

    As for the proposal about AFR, the worst thing to do would be to get rid of all political talk shows- if you get rid of the talk shows, then you really need to get rid of all political commentary and debate of any kind (the fact is that there are a nearly infinite number of takes on any story, so the idea of having exactly 2 opposing sides debate only serves the purpose of saying that those are the only 2 sides). If you get rid of all commentary, then the soldiers will lose a connection to the exercise of hot air, err, free speech in the US.

    Also worth noting is the fact that I’m pretty sure these talking heads (left and right)come off like idiots to most of the soldiers when they talk about the war- if you haven’t been to Iraq, you can’t possibly know what Iraq is like.

  7. Well, you don’t have to be a libertarian to belive in the constitution. It’s just my love for big government in some arenas for various reasons that has me not likely to join the libertarian front. That’s a discussion we can have anytime by the way.

    As for the proposal from AFR, I dig what you’re getting at, but my biggest concern is that by allowing a political pundit daily air time, it is far too close to endorsing his message for my liking, and that’s way way out of bounds for the military, and in this discussion, we’re talking in several instances of two wrongs not making a right.

    With Matt, I disagree with him on singling out Limbaugh because in regards to what is at stake here, I think simply banning Rush because he said something pretty heinous only fixes an immediate problem, one that darkens the ideal of the First Amendment, and doesn’t address what I see as the major problem, that being the illusion of endorsing a political ideology as I mentioned above.

    Another two wrongs is letting congress going after Rush because they went after MoveOn. They were wrong to do it to MoveOn, and only in a kind of vengeful, gleeful, kind of way to people would gain satisfaction from it would it not be wrong for them to go after Rush. To me, they’re still dancing dangerously close to infringing upon free speech.

    True, they are not levying a punishment upon these folks, but it still stands as a kind of coercion. I am reminded of the book I reviewed not long ago titled Ellery’s Protest, and part of the surrounding factors that saw the banning of prayer and bible reading in the schools.

    You see, the courts found, and I believe rightly so, that even those schools that have excusal clauses did not effectively remove the coercian for students who did not want to participate in morning observances. This is because due to the peer pressure that would exist for those who did not prescribe to the King James Bible, or for whom the Lord’s Prayer might be offensive, there was still a considerable amount of peer pressure for them to participate to avoid social ostracizing, or worse, abuse at the hands of their peers.

    Not the same, but a similar thing is going on. If you are intimidated by being condemned by Congress, you will thusly not be willing to enjoy your right to free speech to prevent such an act occuring again. Again, no punishment, but a pressure is placed upon those who are a part of this by the government.

    For the citizenry to ostracize these people is one thing, but for the government to be a part of that is just wrong.

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