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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: April 2005

Friday, April 29, 2005

What I Have Learned From Air America: The Randi Rhodes Show

Part II

Now that I have established what I believe to be some of the views of Air America’s hosts, I will summarize my impressions of each host and challenge their views. In this part, I will critique The Randi Rhodes Show.

Randi Rhodes

Of the Air America hosts I’ve listened to so far, Randi Rhodes is the most talented and most persuasive. She is the only one on the network (that I have heard at least), who takes very many calls from the listening audience. Most of her callers are the typical Kool-Aide drinkers that all talk shows have (i.e. you’re a great American, Mega dittos, ‘their need to be more talk hosts like you,’ etc.) but she will not shy away from a challenge.

If you want to call her show, be forewarned: you better have your facts and be able to reference your facts; the typical talking points usually will not work. To her credit, she also challenges her Kool-Aide drinking fans. One caller wanted to talk about how, there is no marriage penalty in the tax code. To my surprise, Rhodes corrected her and explained that there is a marriage penalty and she got bit by it when she got married. The caller seemed to be shocked at what she had heard and offered little resistance. On another occasion, one of her guests was going on a tirade about the misdeeds of the Bush administration. The guest started in on how Bush should have supported the Kyoto Treaty to slow down global warming. Rhodes interrupted her guest at this point and said that Kyoto was a bad deal for America and felt that the president made the right decision in this case.

Now, let me begin debunking her arguments as I understand them:

The war in Iraq has nothing to do with a war on terror but a war to enrich oil companies, enrich contractors in the rebuilding effort, and satisfy President Bush and his NeoCon cronies’ blood lust.

The part about the Iraq war being about oil I have probably heard a million times and its pure b.s. Its very interesting how Rhodes and others continue to argue this point about how unjust this war is without a whisper about how Clinton drug us into Mogadishu and elsewhere. Those where ‘humanitarian efforts.’ What about the humanitarian efforts that have taken place in Operation Iraqi Freedom? Are the Kurds better off now that Saddam Hussein is behind bars instead of terrorizing them? And what about this ‘blood lust’ business? Are you kidding me; Bush went to war because he is fascinated with death and destruction? Puh-leeze!

Saddam Hussein was no threat to us, neither is Iran. Saddam disarmed himself prior to the war and the inspections were working.

What about the fact that he was paying the families of suicide bombers in Israel? Would this same kind of threat be too much of a stretch of Rhodes’ imagination that such terrorism could not happen here? On the issue of disarmament, the only reason any weapons were destroyed was because the inspectors found them. Saddam was playing a game of hide and seek. I suppose since the inspectors found the weapons and Saddam complied, this counts as compliance. As far as Iran is concerned, Iran is arguably the biggest threat to our national security. Iran has nukes in Islamic-fascist’s hands. These people are not afraid to die, making them that much more dangerous.

Not only is the Bush administration is lying to the American public, he and his cronies are trying to keep everyone stupid from grade school children to senior citizens. How? The educational system and (are you ready for this?) the Right Wing Media. Why? To better control the public and scare the electorate into voting Republican. Those who support Republicans are uninformed or have otherwise been deceived.

She is right that the government is trying to keep us stupid but this is nothing unique to the Bush administration; this problem is much bigger. Probably since the inception of government schools, the government has inserted its agenda into the curriculum. Interestingly, the party that has had the most influence on school curricula is the Democrat Party through the teacher’s unions. Take a look at all the political correctness in the history books. American history portrays our country as one which made very few mistakes. The few mistakes the books mention have all been solved. And who comes to the rescue when things went wrong? The government of course! Read my post The Battle for Young Minds if you want further explanation as to whether politics has corrupted our schools.

How about the Right Wing Media? That’s a good one. At first I thought she was referring to Fox News but she actually believes even The New York Times is Right Wing. The news she gets is from the European press because our media is not telling us the truth. I guess it doesn’t occur to her that European journalists might have their own agendas too. One thing is for certain, most people whether on the Left, Right, or Center do not think the news media is doing a good job. Maybe there is a reason for this.

Her belief that everyone who voted for Bush or voted Republican in this past election is mindless followers is probably the most offensive of her rants. There are some great debates among those who supported Bush on a wide range of issues. Take a look at the debates on this very blogsite. In my last post, Personal Responsibility, there is an ongoing spirited debate on the role of government. I would suspect that Gary, Linda, Robert and myself all voted for Bush in the last election (if I’m wrong please correct me). Clearly, all of us can think for ourselves and I do not think there is anything unique about us in that regard.

The reason North Korea has nuclear weapons is because of John Bolton’s temperament toward North Korean diplomats.

I can’t prove that this is not the case but this argument sounds absurd to me. Interesting how she failed to mention Madeline Albright’s role in allowing North Korea to have access to nuclear material to isn’t it?

We should negotiate with terrorists when they take hostages.

If I need to explain to you why negotiating with terrorists is a bad idea, you do not have the intelligence required to continue to reading Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds.

Wow, dealing with Randi Rhodes arguments took more ink (or is it electrons?) than I expected. I guess I’ll deal with Franken and Morning Sedition in the next 2 posts. Next What I Have Learned From Air America: The Al Franken Show (Part III).
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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Personal Responsibility

This post is in response to a comment made on Gary Borque’s article Why I am a Conservative on his blog Both Worlds. I feel that my response bears repeating here because personal responsibility is a Libertarian virtue which often goes overlooked. Also, I encourage everyone to read Gary’s original post as well as the comments to his post. For those of you anxiously waiting for What I Have Learned From Air America: Part II, I should have it posted by Friday.

Linda, "While I agree that those who engage in risky behavior should be responsible for the consequences,too often the victims of such behavior are innocent children. What do we do then? Society does pay a price for such behavior."

That is exactly my point Linda. Rather than making 'society' pay the price, we ought to be moving in a direction which requires individuals to be responsible for their actions (sadly we seem to be going the opposite direction). The intent of blaming society is to make everyone responsible but has the effect of making no one responsible, especially the person(s) who should be held responsible.

On your second point: "Also, I have watched the change in the culture ever since these so-called "sexual freedoms" have been celebrated. It is now at a point where I have to monitor everything my child sees or hears because of all the garbage out there, I cannot let him go to the park without supervision, and even the library has become a source for concern. And personally I cannot comfortably walk down the street at night anymore. What kind of freedom is that?"

The fact is that you do have to 'monitor everything' your child does; that is what you signed up for when you decided to be a parent. Don't buy into this Hillary Clinton 'It takes a village' nonsense. It takes a parent. Speaking as a parent myself, I understand this. My children are not the responsibility of 'the village' but mine alone. If I am negligent while raising my children, then I should be held accountable; not Hollywood, not the music industry, not pop culture. I do not wish to change these things. Before we decide we want to restrict other's freedoms, we should take a good look in the mirror first.

**UPDATE: Linda Responds***

Full text of her response:

Gary: Thanks.

Stephen: Sometimes the result of "sexual freedom" (or is it bondage?), are innocent children who are either aborted, abused or neglected. Women who are treated like objects. Young girls who think they have to sleep with a guy to keep him interested. And look at the number of young women - single mothers - in poverty as a result. Believe me, it has not always been this way. And one way or another, there is a price to pay.

So who is responsible? The individuals involved? The pornographers? The ALA which thinks no knowledge is bad for children? Our public school system which thinks teenagers can be equated with animals in heat and are not able to rise above their hormones? Or a public which is afraid to stand against this and thus allows it to continue in the name of individual freedoms.

And I do understand that it is my responsiblity to parent my child. But let me whine about it just a little. When I was growing up our popular culture had a sense of decency, so my parents never had to worry too much about it. The culture supported their values. Now, as a parent I feel at war with the culture (the village) so it makes it difficult at best. I can't follow him everywhere - I can only teach him values and hope that when he is confronted with a culture that tells him differently, he will want to do what is right.

As for anything Hillary might have to sell, I'm not buying.

Posted by: Linda April 26, 2005 08:15 PM
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Friday, April 22, 2005

What I Have Learned From Air America:Radio Right vs. Radio Left

Part I

I decided to take a break from my normal talk radio schedule. I start my morning drive listening to Bruce Jacobs on my local station, 550 KFYI in Phoenix. Once I arrive at work, I tune into Neal Boortz followed by Larry Elder and Sean Hannity via the internet. Occasionally during my busy business day I am required to drive from one location to another and I have the opportunity to tune into Rush Limbaugh. On my drive back home is anyone’s guess who or what I’ll listen to.

So why would I take a break from this particular schedule to listen to Air America of all things?

Three reasons:

  1. I am sick to death about hearing about this nonsense about ‘judicial activism.’ Take your pick of any of the more conservative hosts on my play list, they all make the same tiered arguments; I’m to the point to where I can finish their arguments before they do (i.e. ‘they are legislating from the bench,’ ‘these judges are ignoring the will of the people,’ ‘the courts are usurping the powers of the elected branches,’ etc. etc.).

  2. I am a very curious person that is not afraid to be challenged by views different from my own (I am increasingly noticing that many of the views of conservative radio are different from mine as it is so this is not really all that different). I am very comfortable with my political philosophy and my philosophy in general – perhaps too comfortable. Challenging one’s views is the best way to make one’s arguments stronger. By forcing oneself to consider new arguments and overcoming these arguments through reason, if one’s arguments are sound, he or she should not be afraid to be challenged by contrary opinions.

  3. I planned on listening to Air America for 2 weeks so I could report in this blogpost and write my analysis of the common arguments the hosts of that network makes and other observations comparing radio Left to radio Right and Radio Libertarian (i.e. Elder and Boortz).

I did not completely change my radio schedule, however. I decided to continue to listen to Jacobs, Elder, and Boortz, listen to Air America the rest of the time except for when I’m driving and catch some Rush and Hannity here and there.

Air America vs. Conservative Talk
One of the things I noticed right away was the similarities between Air America and conservative talk radio. From a stylistic standpoint, there is very little difference. The creators of Air America evidently studied the methods conservative talk hosts use to get their points across. Air America similarly uses humor, popular music for rejoinders & bumpers, and has many of the same advertisers. I also learned that at least some of the programs are carried by the same media corporations such as Clear Channel. Kind of shoots down the theory that President Bush’s oil buddies who own Clear Channel give all their hosts talking points for their shows doesn’t it?

I also notice how hosts on both sides treat their political party as a religion of sorts. As long as it is one of their guys, he can do no wrong. A perfect example of this is the controversy surrounding the nomination of John Bolton for U.N. ambassador. On the Randi Rhodes Show, Randi argues against Bolton’s nomination in part because of accusations that he harassed people within his department and threatened a female aid worker. The very next day, I heard Rush’s perspective on Bolton. Rush pointed out that this aid worker also had an axe to grind as a Democratic activist who was working very hard to defeat President Bush’s reelection efforts. Interestingly, Randi failed to bring that up (for what its worth). Rush also pointed out that many of the same senate Democrats had no problem with how Clinton harassed and threatened people to get his way. After all, what did it have to do with how he governed as president? I don’t know very much about John Bolton, but a little more inquiry into his conduct could not hurt; what’s the rush? While I understand Rush’s point and agree the Democrats are being hypocritical, that does not excuse Mr. Bolton or anyone else for any bad conduct if the allegations are true.

What Does ‘The Left’ Believe?
I want to try to be as accurate as I can in describing the beliefs of those who host and listen to Air America. I’m restricting my comments only to the hosts I actually listened to. My understanding of their views may be somewhat distorted because I have only been listening for two weeks but this is my understanding of the hosts and some of their arguments:

The Randi Rhodes Show
-The war in Iraq has nothing to do with a war on terror but a war to enrich oil companies, enrich contractors in the rebuilding effort, and satisfy President Bush and his NeoCon cronies’ blood lust.

-Saddam Hussein was no threat to us, neither is Iran. Saddam disarmed himself prior to the war and the inspections were working.

-Not only is the Bush administration lying to the American public, he and his cronies are trying to keep everyone stupid from grade school children to senior citizens. How? The educational system and (are you ready for this?) the Right Wing Media. Why? To better control the public and scare the electorate into voting Republican. Those who support Republicans are uninformed or have otherwise been deceived.

-The reason North Korea has nuclear weapons is because of John Bolton’s temperament toward North Korean diplomats.

-We should negotiate with terrorists when they take hostages.

The Al Franken Show
-The government should set café standards for automobiles to 40 to 50 mpg

- We should stop using oil as an energy source within 10 years

- Franken encouraged listeners to call their congressmen to stop the bill that would permanently eliminate the inheritance tax (death tax). This legislation was to thank the rich donors to the Republican Party.

- Those who want to end illegal immigration are racists.

Morning Sedition with Marc Maron & Mark Riley
-The rich owe it to society to pay more taxes because of their fortune was made in this society.

- The gap between the rich and the poor is growing larger and larger; therefore the rich have an obligation to pay more taxes to help the poor through welfare programs.

- Praised a wealthy woman named Elizabeth Letzler who is part of an organization called Responsible Wealth. The purpose of the organization is to donate the money they got back from the Bush tax cuts to charity. Letzler donated all of her $100,000 rebate to charity. Maron and Riley call Letzler a ‘true American’ for making this pledge.

-The Fair Tax benefits the rich too much (does anyone see a theme emerging here?).

As I expected, listening to Air America would give me a lot of topics to discuss on my blog. To more fully examine these and other arguments, I will conclude my thoughts on Air America, its hosts, and talk radio in general in my next post. Until then, feel free to respond to my findings so far.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

We Can Make April 15th Just Another Day

It’s that time of year again – April 15th, the federal income tax deadline. Time to cross your fingers and hope you filed correctly lest you be visited by your friendly neighborhood IRS agent. Let’s be honest, the current federal income tax is too intrusive, too complex, too costly, and punishes both entrepreneurs and everyday wage-earners. There is a better way. The Fair Tax plan will allow workers and retirees to keep their entire paychecks (minus other non-federal withholdings), close all tax loopholes, eliminate the need for individuals to file tax returns, abolish the IRS with the effect of ending tax audits, eliminate hidden taxes on goods and services, increase government accountability, level the playing field for American-made products with foreign competitors, and allows families to buy basic necessities tax-free.

In 1998, the IRS budget for collecting income tax was $8 billion. In the same year, Americans spent $225 billion to comply with the tax code for that tax year. Businesses would have cut compliance costs by 95% had the Fair Tax been in place at the time and would have eliminate compliance costs completely for individuals. What kind of economic impact would that have had allowing Americans to keep that $225 billion? Would that money have created more jobs, encouraged more investment, or allowed more people to buy a home?

The economists measured the economic affects of adding the proposed 23% tax on goods and services (assuming that all federal income taxes are abolished) to determine whether or not the price of goods and services would actually increase. Some people would probably believe that businesses would selfishly keep the increased profit margin with the elimination of the corporate taxes (another false notion thanks to the media, the government, and public education). Companies would need to keep their prices low to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace. In today’s market, most large corporations operate on less than a 1% profit margin (those greedy bastards). In the current system, all corporate taxes are reflected in higher prices. Likewise, if those costs disappear, any savings will be passed on to the customer. According to Dr. Dale Jorgenson of Harvard University the average producer would reduce prices by 20% in the first year under the Fair Tax system and would ultimately keep prices on the end products at about the same rate as before. In the current system, the American citizen already pays these hidden taxes in addition to what is withheld from his or her paycheck.

If the Fair Tax passes, the daily lives of Americans of every walk of life will have the choice of how much taxes they pay based on the financial decisions they make. No longer will investors be penalized for saving or contributing to the market. The only taxes any individual would pay regardless of income status would be the amount of money he or she spends above the determined poverty level for the size his or her family. The tax code will be much easier for the average person to understand and would eliminate the anxiety of potentially being audited by the IRS.

This is only the tip of the iceberg; the Fair Tax has many other benefits. Don’t take my word for it, do your homework and find out for yourself if this bold step should be taken. Visit and do some other independent research as well.

We must be realistic; however. Passing this legislation will not be easy. The most important part of this legislation will require repealing the 16th Amendment, which would make federal income tax unconstitutional. Also, after viewing the Fair Tax congressional scorecard, most of our representatives in congress have not made a commitment one way or another. This means that most of them are unaware of this legislation, have an incomplete understanding of the bill, are waiting to hear from their special interest groups, or hopefully, waiting to hear from their constituents. Whether your representative is for, against, or undecided on The Fair Tax, we all need to let them know what we want.

Related Posts:

Taxes, Just a Few Thoughts by T.F. Stern

Oh, the Irony by Brad Warbiany

Tax Reform by Eric Cowperthwaite
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Friday, April 08, 2005

Free Minds Wondering (April 2005)

Sgt. Paul Smith
Sgt. Paul Smith is a name we should all know by now. Why you ask? Sgt. Smith was awarded the highest military honor this country bestows: The Medal of Honor. Sgt. Smith is only the third person since the Vietnam War to earn this honor. On April 3, 2003, despite being outnumbered and having inferior firepower, he held his ground resisting advancing enemy forces until a bullet ended his life. Smith’s actions saved the lives of an unknowable number of lightly-armed American soldiers who were ahead of his position near Baghdad International Airport. Smith’s widow and his eleven-year-old son accepted the medal from President Bush on Sgt. Smith’s behalf exactly 2 years later.

It seems that we know the names of all of the people who shoot up schools, kill, rape, and steal but why don’t we know the names of those who protect our country? Soldiers, police officers, firemen and others who do a great service to this country seem to receive very little attention from the media. Sgt. Paul Smith’s story should be told. I’ll be waiting anxiously to hear the rest of his story.

Sandy “the burglar” Berger
Why isn’t this a major news story? Sandy Berger pleads guilty to stealing and destroying one-of-a-kind classified documents while preparing for testimony before the 9/11 Commission. His punishment? A $10,000 fine and suspension from security clearance for 3 years! By the time his suspension expires, Sandy Berger could find himself in a Hillary Clinton administration rather than four years into a ten year prison sentence and paying a $100,000 fine.

I understand that there have been a lot of other big stories in the news such as the death of Pope John Paul II, the death of Terri Schiavo, and the on-going Michael Jackson media circus, but couldn’t the news media bring just a little more light to this story? Had it not been for talk radio and the Drudge Report I would probably have never heard this story. If the story was about Condoleezza Rice or any other person in the Bush Administration, you know damn well that this story would be on the front page of every newspaper and a priority topic on every news broadcast (and rightfully so).

It seems to me that a former National Security Advisor destroying classified documents regarding national security is a big story. Oh, silly me. Sandy Berger worked in the Clinton Administration; he’s one of the ‘good’ guys.

A few thoughts on Pope John Paul II
I am not going to pretend that I know a great deal about Pope John Paul II; I am an outsider when it comes to the Catholic faith and its traditions and I did not follow his career (?) closely. From what I do know, he seemed like a decent enough person. He did at least admit that the Catholic Church had made mistakes in the past including the Church’s refusal to intervene against Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews. Pope John Paul II also called anti-Semitism a sin; he saw first-hand the plight of the Jews as a young Polish boy. There are several other areas that I am very critical of this Pope; I reserve those comments for another day. It seems inappropriate to speak ill of him in this time of mourning.

The Bitch Can’t Count
Jane Fonda made the following comment in a 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl explaining her treasonous antics in Vietnam: "Listen, we'd been saying to Richard Nixon, 'Stop this' for eight years. Millions of people had protested. You know, students had been shot at Kent State and still it went on…"

Anyone else notice an obvious factual error in her comment? My understanding of history is that first of all, Didn’t LBJ (some argue JFK) start the war? (a little detail the Left tends to leave out; somehow Vietnam was all Nixon’s doing.) Secondly, wasn’t Nixon forced to resign because of the Watergate scandal? Obviously, at the time that Jane Fonda was betraying her country giving aid and comfort to the enemy, Nixon wasn’t even close to have been in office for eight years. In-fact, after ending the Vietnam War years later, Nixon never completed his second term. Not only is Jane Fonda still a pinko-commie bitch, she is a stupid pinko-commie bitch who apparently can’t count.

Thank You Florida
Florida just passed a law which allows citizens to use deadly force against criminals who use deadly force against them. How very thoughtful.

Every Bit the Patriot
Sgt. Robert Stout, who earned a Purple Heart for being wounded in his service in Iraq, wants to continue serving his country. So what might prevent him from doing so? He happens to be gay. Under the current “don’t ask, “don’t tell” policy Sgt. Stout cannot openly continue to serve his country. This discriminatory policy costs the U.S. taxpayer an additional $200 million a year - money that could be spent better protecting our troops (yes, even our gay troops). Sgt. Robert Stout is every bit the patriot as his heterosexual counterparts. This intolerance is costing us some talented soldiers.

Poetic Justice
Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani was sworn in as Iraq’s new interim president as the deposed dictator Saddam Hussein witnessed the event, watching his television from his prison cell. The Kurds suffered for decades at the hands of Saddam; now the Kurds have the opportunity to bring their oppressor to justice. That’s what I call a happy ending!

Blogroll Additions
I added a number of links to my blogroll. Some of the additions are long overdue. Though I tend to post once a week, I periodically add content to the blogroll that I believe my readers will enjoy so come on back, ya hear!
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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fearless Philosophy Blog Post of the Month (March 2005)

Choosing one post to be the first ever Fearless Philosophy Blog Post of the Month was an even more of a challenge than I thought. I decided that I would go ahead and list the top three posts each month that meet the award’s criteria . On to the results…

Third Place goes to Eric Cowperthwaite and his March 14th post: “Mad as Hell and Laughing About it” in his Blog Eric’s Random Musings. The post deals with the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act and its enforcers’ (the FEC) attempts to curtail blogging during an election season. What’s so funny about this blatant violation of the First Amendment? Read his post and you may be laughing about it too!

Second Place goes to Brad and his March 14th post: “Someone has Refused His Shackles” in his Blog The Unrepentant Individual. The ‘shackles’ Brad describes is this notion that corporations must ‘give back to the community.’ Brad argues that by the very nature of business (providing jobs, making profits, and keeping stakeholders happy) gives back to the community; no company should make any apologies about making a profit.

And the winner is…

The first ever Fearless Philosophy Blog Post of the Month (March) goes to Robert Bell and his March 30th post “The Decline of Individualism” in his Blog Libertopia. Robert points out that most everyone feels a need to belong to a group or want to be known by a label (i.e. Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, Etc.) rather than be known as an individual. This decline of individualism allows politicians to more easily manipulate the masses and make political calculations. Robert also sees this in people’s religious affiliations.

“It’s no secret that I consider myself to be a believer, of the Christian variety. However, I’m reluctant to accept that label because of those who do…I have first hand experience with those who proudly proclaim themselves to be among the religious right.”

I can hardly blame him for not wanting to be associated with that crowd. What Robert seems to be saying is that religion is a very personal matter and that there is room to disagree amongst others within any religious community.

He sums up the article writing: “I’ve come to believe that both politics and religion are sustained by masses of individuals that refuse to think and act individually.” Unfortunately, I think he’s right.

Congratulations to all of this month’s winners. Your posts are all fearless in their own way; keep up the good work!
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