FCC joins the attack on Limbaugh and other conservative broadcasters
Radio spectrum will be given to low power "local" stations which Leftists hope to dominate. They may well do so but will they get an audience? On past form it will be negligible
A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision issued Monday (PDF) will clear the runway for hundreds of new community radio stations that broadcast on low-power FM signals, bringing progressive, community voices to urban areas that have for decades only known what's being broadcast by major corporations and America's political right.
The FCC's decision on Monday wipes away a massive backlog of applications for FM repeater stations, which are transmitters that repeat signals broadcast by corporate and religious radio operators - many of which rake in big listening audiences for right-wing syndicated talk shows.
"So, what a lot of right-wing, conservative radio stations have been able to do is expand their reach out in communities by just having these translators out in the wild, which is why Rush Limbaugh gets the type of audience that he has - because the networks take one signal and repeat it over and over and over across the dial all over the country," Steven Renderos, national organizer with the Center for Media Justice, told Raw Story on Tuesday. "They're constantly looking for opportunities to expand that, so there were a slew of these applications pending at the FCC."
And that's been the case ever since the FCC's radio spectrum auction in 2003, which has led many activists to fear they would be forever choked out and kept away from the public airwaves. But after a long battle, activists with the Prometheus Radio Project have finally won.
"Now these right-wing radio networks won't keep getting their translator applications approved," Renderos added. "That will severely limit their ability to expand."
The FCC's decision also set clear criteria for community radio stations in heavily populated urban areas, which are otherwise bombarded by the endless droning of commercial media full of snide opinion masquerading as news.
"These [new, low power] stations can only be licensed to non-profit organizations, and you can only have one per customer," Brandy Doyle, policy director for the Prometheus Radio Project, told Raw Story. "That way we won't have these big corporate chains and media networks that are taking over the rest of the media landscape moving in on low power FM service. These stations have to be local, and they have to be independent. This clears the way for a real transformation of the FM dial."
Instead of slowly grinding down thousands of repeater station applications that leave no room for community radio, the FCC essentially threw most of those applications away by limiting who can apply, how many filings a single entity can make, and which markets can consider new repeaters - all of which frees up the regulatory body to examine applications for new community stations. The regulatory agency still gave some deference to corporate broadcasters, however, by allowing them one shot at revising their applications to fit the new guidelines.
Race, rhetoric and reality
One of the things that turned up, during a long-overdue cleanup of my office, was an old yellowed copy of the New York Times dated July 24, 1992. One of the front-page headlines said: "White-Black Disparity in Income Narrowed in 80's, Census Shows."
The 1980s? Wasn't that the years of the Reagan administration, the "decade of greed," the era of "neglect" of the poor and minorities, if not "covert racism"?
More recently, during the administration of America's first black president, a 2011 report from the Pew Research Center has the headline, "Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics."
While the median net worth of whites was 10 times the median net worth of blacks in 1988, the last year of the Reagan administration, the ratio was 19 to one in 2009, the first year of the Obama administration. With Hispanics, the ratio was eight to one in 1988 and 15 to one in 2009.
Race is just one of the areas in which the rhetoric and the reality often go in opposite directions. Political rhetoric is intended to do one thing -- win votes. Whether the policies that accompany that rhetoric make people better off or worse off is far less of a concern to politicians, if any concern at all.
Democrats receive the overwhelming bulk of the black vote by rhetoric and by presenting what they have done as the big reason that blacks have advanced. So long as most blacks and whites alike mistake rhetoric for reality, this political game can go on.
A Manhattan Institute study last year by Edward Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor showed that, while the residential segregation of blacks has generally been declining from the middle of the 20th century to the present, it was rising during the first half of the 20th century. The net result is that blacks in 2010 were almost as residentially unsegregated as they were back in 1890.
There are complex reasons behind such things, but the bottom line is plain. The many laws, programs and policies designed to integrate residential housing cannot be automatically assumed to translate into residentially integrated housing. Government is not the sole factor, nor necessarily the biggest factor, no matter what impression political rhetoric gives.
No city is more liberal in its rhetoric and policies than San Francisco. Yet there are less than half as many blacks living in San Francisco today as there were in 1970.
Nor is San Francisco unique. A number of other very liberal California counties saw their black populations drop by 10,000 people or more, just between the 1990 and 2000 censuses -- even when the total population of these counties was growing.
One of the many reasons why rhetoric does not automatically translate into reality is that the ramifications of so many government policies produce results completely different from what was claimed, or even believed, when these policies were imposed.
The poverty rate among blacks was nearly cut in half in the 20 years prior to the 1960s, a record unmatched since then, despite the expansion of welfare state policies in the 1960s.
Unemployment among black 16 and 17-year-old males was 12 percent back in 1950. Yet unemployment rates among black 16 and 17-year-old males has not been less than 30 percent for any year since 1970 -- and has been over 40 percent in some of those years.
Not only was unemployment among blacks in general lower before the liberal welfare state policies expanded in the 1960s, rates of imprisonment of blacks were also lower then, and most black children were raised in two-parent families. At one time, a higher percentage of blacks than whites were married and working.
None of these facts fits liberal social dogmas.
While many politicians and "leaders" have claimed credit for black progress, no one seems to be willing to take the blame for the retrogressions represented by higher unemployment rates, higher crime rates, and higher rates of imprisonment today. Or for the disintegration of the black family, which survived centuries of slavery and generations of government-imposed discrimination in the Jim Crow era, but began coming apart in the wake of the expansion of the liberal welfare state and its accompanying social dogmas.
The time is long overdue to start looking beyond the prevailing political rhetoric to the hard realities.
Demolishing Due Process
by Ron Paul
It is ironic but perhaps sadly appropriate that Attorney General Eric Holder would choose a law school, Northwestern University, to deliver a speech earlier this month in which he demolished what was left of the rule of law in America.
In what history likely will record as a turning point, Attorney General Holder bluntly explained that this administration believes it has the authority to use lethal force against Americans if the President determines them to be a threat to the nation. He tells us that this is not a violation of the due process requirements of our Constitution because the President himself embodies "due process" as he unilaterally determines who is to be targeted. As Holder said, "a careful and thorough executive branch review of the facts in a case amounts to 'due process.'" That means that the administration believes it is the President himself who is to be the judge, jury, and executioner.
As George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote of the Holder speech:
"All the Administration has said is that they closely and faithfully follow their own guidelines - even if their decisions are not subject to judicial review. The fact that they say those guidelines are based on notions of due process is meaningless. They are not a constitutional process of review."
It is particularly bizarre to hear the logic of the administration claiming the right to target its citizens according to some secret selection process, when we justified our attacks against Iraq and Libya because their leaders supposedly were targeting their own citizens! We also now plan a covert war against Syria for the same reason.
I should make it perfectly clear that I believe any individual who is engaging in violence against this country or its citizens should be brought to justice. But as Attorney General Holder himself points out in the same speech, our civilian courts have a very good track record of trying and convicting individuals involved with terrorism against the United States. Our civilian court system, with the guarantee of real due process, judicial review, and a fair trial, is our strength, not a weakness. It is not an impediment to be sidestepped in the push for convictions or assassinations, but rather a process that guarantees that fundamental right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
I am encouraged, however that there appears to be the beginning of a backlash against the administration's authoritarian claims. Just recently I did an interview with conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham who expressed grave concern over using these sorts of tactics against Americans using the supposed war on terror as justification.
Sadly, many conservative leaders were silent when Republican President George W. Bush laid the groundwork for this administration's lawlessness with the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention without trial, and other violations.
Similarly, as Professor Turley points out, "Democrats previously demanded the 'torture memos' of the Bush administration that revealed poor legal analysis by Judge Jay Bybee and Professor John Yoo to justify torture. Now, however, Democrats are largely silent in the face of a president claiming the right to unilaterally kill citizens."
The misuse of and disregard for our Constitution for partisan political gain is likely one reason the American public holds Congress in such low esteem. Now the stakes are much higher. Congress and the people should finally wake up!
What is Fair?
President Obama says he want to make society more fair. Advocates of big government believe fairness means taking from rich people and giving to others: poor people; or people who do things politicians approve of, like making "green" energy equipment (Solyndra); or old people (even rich ones) through Social Security and Medicare.
The idea that government can "make life fair" is intuitively appealing to people -- at least until they think about it. I'll try to help.
Obama says fairness requires higher taxes, but as The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore asks, "Is it fair that the richest 10 percent of Americans shoulder a higher share of their country's income-tax burden than do the richest 10 percent in every other industrialized nation, including socialist Sweden?"
Or as economist Art Laffer asked, is it fair that American corporations pay the highest corporate tax rate in the world?
Beyond taxes, again quoting Moore, "Is it fair that President Obama sends his two daughters to elite private schools that are safer, better-run and produce higher test scores than public schools in Washington, D.C. -- but millions of other families across America are denied that free choice and forced to send their kids to rotten schools?"
No. Parents ought to be able to spend their education money at any school they choose.
Big-government politicians bemoan income inequality, but would equalizing incomes make life fair?
To many, it is intuitive that such inequality is necessarily unfair. If someone makes his income by looting the taxpayers -- sure, that's unfair. His gains are ill-gotten, and honest taxpayers are out hard-earned money. But there's nothing unfair simply in making more money through productive work. People have a range of talents and ambitions. Some will serve consumers better than others and therefore make more money. Government should not worry about that.
It should spend its time abolishing political privileges so that people compete fairly -- in the marketplace.
You want to know what's unfair? Social Security. Progressives say Social Security is the best-working government program ever, but they are wrong.
"Think about Social Security in terms of what would happen if a private company came up with a deal like this," said Charles Goyette, author of "Red and Blue and Broke All Over." "The president of the company says, we've got to sell some new policies tomorrow to pay you what you're due when you cash in today. They'd lock these guys up."
Goyette was referring to the fact that your payroll taxes are not invested. The money is spent right away, and the government counts on new money from current workers to pay retirees. The touted trust fund doesn't exist.
"There's no trust. There's no fund. There's no security. And the really bad thing -- this is what's really destructive -- it has changed the propensity of the American people to save for themselves. ... We're creating a multigenerational calamity. And it's right at our doorstep."
We've taught people to be dependent. But dependence robs us of our dignity and keeps poor people poor.
Few politicians will touch the issue because seniors vote. And so trouble is not far up the road.
"We've loaded kids up with a debt that they will be burdened by for the rest of their lives," Goyette said. "What kind of people, what kind of country does something like that?"
It's even worse for Medicare. We're talking tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities. Where's that money going come from? Since seniors resist cuts, will politicians keep their promises by devaluing the currency? And why do the guardians of fairness never talk about this?
It might seem reasonable for government to make life more fair. But when it takes your money and freedom trying to do that, life becomes less fair. Everyone is poorer and less free. As government grows, individual liberty shrinks. That's not fair.
It might help if instead of talking about fairness, we talked about justice: respecting other people, their freedom and their honestly acquired belongings. Real fairness, or justice, requires limiting government power. That means the same rules for everyone. No special favors. No handouts. Or, in Frederic Bastiat's phrase, no "legal plunder."
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