To the Three Amigos — Adiós

entertainment, media, politics 1 Comment »

For the past 8 months I have shared my long drive to work with three men in my car, but never all at once, and never enjoying the advantages of a carpool lane. Before you get any strange ideas, it was only their voices, piped through my speakers courtesy of Talk910 KNEW, a local, and yes, mostly conservative talk radio station here in the bay area.


I can imagine the outcry of my more liberal friends even now, fearing I that I’d be brainwashed by the vast rightwing conspiracy, forced to turn in my gay card and join the Dark Side, with only an intervention at an undisclosed location in Marin country to save me.

But considering the current state of music (don’t get me started, that’s another post entirely), and the unnaturally long commute (anything over 10 minutes) I decided to dip my toe into those murky shadows, to see if that singular toe came out grimy or squeaky clean. I thought it important to see how the other side thinks. “Know thine Enemy” the saying goes, plus I had my trusty light saber just in case it got a little rough.

My morning commute was usually filled by the vocal stylings of one Bill O’Reilly. Part of the “Fair and Balanced” family over at Fox News, O’Reilly always claimed to be “looking out for us.” Self appointed guardian of the common man, I sometimes felt irritated with the presumption we couldn’t look out for ourselves or each other. Often O’Reilly’s grand pronouncements seemed to come from up on high, opinions so inflated that they were capable of affecting policy and public opinion from sea to shining sea.

But despite the seemingly endless and effortless self-aggrandizement, much of what O’Reilly said had the ring of truth, particularly with regards to the liberal media. Time after time he cited examples that painted a very biased media (NY and LA Times in particular), that pushed their barely concealed agenda as fact.

Now I view the press and the evening news with a far more critical eye. Thanks Bill.

During my lunch breaks I would catch Glenn Beck, a largely conservative talk radio personality out of Philadelphia. I enjoyed a lot of the funny segments including “More-On Trivia”, a bit similar to the Jay Walking segment on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Looking back however I feel there was a subtle elitism to the piece, which poked fun, mocked and sometimes disrespected the “common people”. This parallels Beck’s view of the Hollywood Elite and the values and tactics he claims they espouse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making fun of people, even fat and/or gay people (which I am). Political correctness has gone way over the line and we need to take each other a little less seriously. I just think it’s a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black. 🙂

Other than the constant Kerry bashing, and his steadfast pro Bush stance, I enjoyed listening to his show. I would have preferred something a little more neutral, but that’s not who Glenn Beck is, and I can appreciate that. He’s also pretty damned funny.

As for my evening commute, it was filled with loud rumbling and bellows of Michael Savage, easily the most controversial and opinionated of the three, and perhaps of all talk radio. Sometimes a difficult listen, early on I’d change the radio station in disgust, but would always keep coming back as the election fast approached. Savage is definitely an acquired taste.

Despite the continuous patting himself on the back (you’d figure he’d need a shoulder replacement by now), the continuous accusations of verbal theft (others in the media using his catch phrases), and the continuous predictions of future events that will invariably come true (including picking the president by at 51-49 margin), Michael Savage makes for entertaining theater. And much of it is exactly that… theater. Savage excites and enrages people simultaneously. I’ve never heard anyone so adept at pushing people’s buttons. I can be screaming at his sheer idiocy one minute and pounding the steering wheel in agreement the next.

He does begin to wear however like an overly gnawed bone. Eventually you realize you’re not going to get any more “meat” out of listening to him and you need to move on. This coupled with Savage shifting his arguments and disconnecting/cutting off callers to protect his view point grows tiresome and belittles that part of his listenership with a reasonable but contrary point of view. Not everyone has a swastika on his heart. Not every liberal has a mental disorder.

But there are a couple of points Savage hammers with great rapidity that I have taken to heart: protection of our borders and the protection of our language, both important to our national identity, continued sovereignty and safety. His stance on immigration, while on the surface radical to most, makes more sense than I would care to admit. I won’t go into the details as that’s entirely another post and this one has gone on long enough.

So that being said, now that I have put down my three passengers and lifted them back up again, and since the election has come and gone, it’s time to kick them out of the car. While my radio dial will surely cross paths with them again, it’s time to take a breather and hope that there is now some decent music radio to listen to. If not, there’s always my IPod. So until the next election… Adios.

PS. At the time of this writing KNEW910 has dropped Phil Hendrie from their lineup, easily one of the funniest men on talk radio (and deserving of his own post), I am now considering boycotting the station and writing KNEW910 to complain. I encourage all of his fans in the bay area to do the same.

The Day After – A Post Mortem

politics 11 Comments »

USelection04-horiz.jpgI’m not really suprised that Bush took home the coveted prize as I feel it was the Democrat’s race to lose. In putting up a candidate that refused to define himself, the Democratic ticket was vulnerable to this outcome. I think they also over-estimated the importance of the war among voters.

I was however surprised by the strength of Bush’s evangelical base, buoyed by such issues as stem cell research, abortion, and particularly gay marriage. I think this is key. Eleven states on Nov 2 passed resolutions to ammend their constitutions to ban same sex marriages (list at the bottom of this post), and Ohio in particular went as far to ban civil unions. I feel strongly this was a central issue to many of those who voted for George W. Bush. Exit polls seemed to indicate that moral leadership and the economy rated more important than the war in Iraq and more broadly the war on terror. I think it is safe to say that mainstream America is simply not ready to accept homosexuality, rooted either in their faith or their homophobia.

While discouraging, it’s not suprising that this happened. Gay activists (and certain mayors) pushed so hard for this equality that it backfired. You can’t force something like gay marriage — no matter how reasonable or fair-minded the argument — down the throats of people who barely tolerate homosexuals in the first place. Many of which would prefer to have us shipped off to some island (and those are the nices ones) then deal with us walking down the aisle, revering that which they frequently take for granted.

But please don’t get the wrong idea. I’m all for gay marriage, or gay civil unions — which ever gives us the same rights and privliges as heterosexual couples without jumping through hoops and causing undue financial stress. I just feel there is a right time and place for these things, and doing them in climate that is condusive to change. The climate during a war, is not one of them.

Only history will tell if the strong push for gay marriage ultimately tilted the election one way or the other. It would be presumptious of me to declare that. But I do know that I don’t feel quite as safe today, as I did yesterday.

States Banning Same Sex Marriage on Nov 2:
Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah…

which join existing states…

Wisconsin, Kansas and Missouri (please let me know if I have missed any).

Advocating an Uprising (Part 2)

politics 1 Comment »

parties.jpgWell today is the day of reckoning. Today is the day millions of people put pen to paper and vote, led either by their mind, heart or faith, or as in my case, the gut. It is the only day when we are able to speak as loud we can with one voice, with the hope we are not drowned out by polling numbers, a biased media or the fringe voices on both the left and the right. But is anyone listening?

Despite whoever takes the oath in Januaury, I suspect it will be pretty much business as usual. The country will continue to run a haphazard course, dictated by world events, special interest, self-preservation and the occasional talking points of the extreme left or or right. And it is this background noise year-round that drowns the rest of us out, the sane voices, the moderate voices, the voices that reason. There is no way we can compete. And the one time we are truely allowed a voice, that raises above the din, is it really making any difference if the parties are more or less the same?

Early reports indicate that it will be a record turnout. Everyone is doing their part, sometimes twice; polarized by the war on terror and such domestic issues as the economy, abortion, stem cell research and healthcare. This is at least how it seems on the surface. This polarization is a result of being driven apart by the parties, and to a large extent, the media, so far apart we latch on to one or two key issues to the detriment of all the others. Not one party has all the right answers. Not one party has all the wrong answers. Yet this is what they preach.

I think something needs to take place to demonstrate we are all more the same than different; that there is more to unite us than to divide us. It has happened before, but at the expense of thousands of lives; and they are usually short term. Something that would trump the voices that normally hold firm in the Washington. Once we realize that those we elect really do no represent us, we are ready to take such steps. Once we abandon labels and party affiliations to do what is right for ourselves, and this country, we are ready to take such steps. Once we refuse to be divided, and join together on the strength and clarity of one voice, we are ready to take such steps.