Welcome to the First 2016 Republican Debate

NEW SLAUGHTERAnd … welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first debate of the 2016 FoxNews/Clear Channel radio Republican Presidential candidates, live from the Federal Premium Ammunition grandstand on the Neshoba County Fairgrounds in beautiful, well-defended Philadelphia, Mississippi.

I’m Ted Nugent. Y’all know me, and I’ll be your MC this evening as we introduce an entirely new format, flushed clean of liberal bias and BS. A format that gets right to what you want to hear.

As all of you know, because we’ve told you, Republicans haven’t been able to get a fair shake from bought-and-sold New York-elite debate moderators for a good 20 years. Over the years too much time has been wasted talking about crap in 2000-page boondoggles and what a bunch of moochers in some damned ghetto needed you to pay for.

Continue reading “Welcome to the First 2016 Republican Debate”

Bad info-tainment begets low information voters.

Ever since the right-wing entertainment bubble began expanding back in the early 1990s, I’ve wondered what it would take to pop it. Despite sharp, specific criticism from apostates like David Frum and others, I doubt this year’s ass-kicking will flush the misbegotten authority of self-interested hucksters from modern conservatives’ primary information conduits. The world outside the bubble of crazy-assed nonsense doesn’t have enough martial conflict.

The phenomena of “the conservative entertainment complex” has fascinated/obsessed me for years. Locally, I covered, got to know (and on some levels enjoyed) people like Jason Lewis and Bob Davis. And hell, “RINO” Sarah Janecek and I were, briefly, placeholders at a Bain Capital-owned Clear Channel station while it tried to lure Lewis back to town. (Officially we were there to offer a “new balance in political talk radio”, unofficially it was understood from the get-go we were toast as soon as Lewis signed.)

I’ve been face to face with national consultants explaining how the talk radio game works, ratings-wise. (Essentially; feed your average 40-something male just enough to let them have an opinion in an argument at work.) I’ve listened to station managers encouraging me to, “play back” and “let them win”, in terms of an ideal commercial model for a left v. right radio “debate”. I fielded hundreds of calls from obsessive, low-information listeners absolutely convinced of everything Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest of the usual characters had told them — about WMDs in Iraq, about “overtopped” levees in New Orleans, about … well, you get the idea.

Point being, I get the knucklehead factor. There are plenty of people out there who either don’t know much, or who desperately want people around them to believe they know a lot more than they actually do. Those people — predominantly white, male and middle-age to elderly  — are a highly exploitable demographic. By themselves they are enough to keep the hosts — the entertainers — in a nice living, even if, they add up to barely 10% of the population. More to the point, the hosts of these anger-stoking shows are actually in a better position in defeat, when they can level the full force of their invective at the opponents in the White House. Their message is founded on victimhood.

Post-election, what is astonishing — even to me — is that by all reports very highly paid operatives and consultants … and … the GOP’s two top candidates were also huffing the very thin air on “Bullshit Mountain”, as Jon Stewart calls it.

Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan claim to have been gobsmacked by the results. Are you kidding me?

The only way that happens is if they too dialed out “the reality based” world and invested their grandest ambitions and hundreds of millions in wealthy donor money in the alternate universe of conservative entertainment logic. That universe is a zone out beyond the Oort Cloud where among other things, Donald Trump was briefly a viable presidential contender, where anything Sarah Palin says is worth hearing, where women who want birth control through their health plans are “sluts”, where Barack Obama is still a Muslim, where Dick Morris has a regular audience, where “death panels” will decide Grandma’s fate, where Socialism is swamping capitalism in 21st century America, where climate change is a liberal hoax, where the simple math of poll aggregation matters less than anything cherry-picked off Rasmussen or phoned in to Laura Ingraham’s radio show and where the attack on the consulate Benghazi has spawned a cover-up as big as Watergate.

It’s a message that appeals most to an aging, anachronistic slice of the population … that happens to sustain a small class of entertainers (and their corporate shareholders).

At the moment it appears the conventional wisdom among the modern GOP’s intelligentsia is that every office seeker in the next election cycle must wear a sombrero and mutter a few lines of Spanish. Never mind creating substantially improved policies instead of vague verbiage. Such a revolution — which is what is needed —  would require risking the wrath of the lords of the entertainment complex. Almost no one has shown the guts to do that. Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, currently refuting Romney’s claim that “gifts” to minorities swayed the election, will be an interesting test case for whether any Republican can maintain viability while out of step with Rush Limbaugh.

I meant to post a couple of post-election appearances — by yours truly —  before this.

Here’s your fourth-favorite Rowdy on Fox 9. And here’s the same seer on Christopher Gabriel’s show on WDAY radio up in Fargo. Bon appetit.

I’m not sure what went on with the Tea Party this campaign season. I think I’ve said before that if that “movement” had any true ideological fervor beyond beating the illegitimate black guy in the White House it would have parted ways with the GOP establishment the minute Rick Santorum conceded the last primary. Lovers of good conspiracy theories would like to know if any SuperPAC money was sprinkled around to the myriad Tea Party insurgencies to shut up and play along with Romney’s adventure? How else do they explain not exploiting their moment in the (pale) sunlight and running their own candidate?

But, bottom line, I fail to see how the GOP — truly, a “Mad Men” party in a “Modern Family” world — reestablishes broad-based appeal to minorities of any kind and women under the age of 65, not to mention people young enough to regard Jay-Z as a role model and not Ted Nugent or Pat Boone.

For those groups and everyone who has come to regard the party’s supplicant status to the “entertainment complex” as a kind of pathetic, sick joke there simply is no “there” to the much-parroted modern conservative message.

What does “limited government” mean in, you know, the real world?

What are you actually talking about when you campaign on “economic freedom” Who doesn’t want that?

Ditto “respect for social institutions” like the family. Does anyone believe the average Democrat is trying to undermine Mom, Dad and Thanksgiving dinner?

And “respect for national defense and law enforcement”? Just because your average wild-eyed liberal thinks the Pentagon is a sacred cow never to be challenged on waste, fraud and cronyism doesn’t mean we’re in favor of letting terrorists take over the New York Stock Exchange. (Hell, most of the worst economic terrorists are already working a couple blocks away.)

This election tore back the curtain on the buffoonery of the modern conservative information machine. But until the movement’s high priests on radio and TV — the crowd motivating their caucus and primary-goers —  are cancelled for lousy ratings, I don’t see any way the party can change.

Not that I’m complaining, you understand.

Who You Calling, “Slut”?

Let’s not kid ourselves, shall we? The only reason — the only reason — Rush Limbaugh has issued what for him counts as an apology to Sandra Fluke, the law student/private citizen he called a “slut” and “a prostitute” is because his “Excellence in Broadcasting” network is shedding an alarming number of sponsors. They are pulling dollars out his bank account as a direct result of his attempt at “using absurdity to attack the absurd”, as he put it.

(And those are the national sponsors we know of. It’d be very interesting to find out how many local sponsors have bailed from his affiliate stations.

Were there no revenue impact, Rush would be re-doubling down on Ms. Fluke’s slutty, liberal, nanny-state femi-nazi character.  Although, having already suggested she record her sexual encounters and post them for him to watch, I don’t know where he could go next. Maybe an invitation to watch in person, from a heavy-duty Barcalounger next to her bed?

So what is different here, in this Sandra Fluke case, than all the other episodes of boorish bad taste in Limbaugh’s 20-year run as The Guiding, Enforcing Voice of the Modern Republican Party?

Is it the fact that in slandering the good name of private citizen — not a Chelsea or Hillary Clinton, or Nancy Pelosi — he has not merely exceeded the bounds of his limited good taste but put himself in unequivocal legal, financial jeopardy? The fact that Sandra Fluke testified (eventually) before Congress does not make her a public figure, and there are very clear standards for slandering someone — to a radio audience reputed to reach 20 million “dittoheads” a week — who has no proportionate platform for rebuttal.

I note with great interest, and immense, unfiltered schadenfreude, that several influential women’s groups and legal advocates are strongly urging Fluke to bring a case against Limbaugh.

Go for it.

In the context of media influence I can’t think of anything more overdue in terms of application of justice, more cathartic for everyone seeking a re-balance of decorum versus cloddishness in public dialogue and more invigorating to feminists (of either sex) who have long dreamed of a way to publicly de-pants the playground bully than a high-profile law suit.

Liberals of course are notorious for seeking rational, responsible, reasonable alternatives to a culture war shit fight. But in this case, considering the power Limbaugh wields, not just over his vast audience of high-grievance, low-information voters (who ingest  him as a “truth teller” not a mere absurdist-entertainer) but also cowed and fearful Republican moderates, liberals owe it to the broader public to press their case. If they need money, a call for contributions to The Sandra “The Slut” Fluke Defense Against Limbaugh Boorishness Fund would, I’m quite certain, haul in a staggering sum of cash.

Limbaugh will of course prefer to settle quickly out of court. Limbaugh’s is a hot-house act. His shtick depends on never being exposed to serious, sustained cross-examination, and he sure as hell isn’t going to set a precedent with sworn testimony in open court. But even if it comes down to money alone, the pay-out to Fluke or charities of her choosing, could be both large and delicious.

The larger point here is the tactical need to probe and push for the combination of factors that will hasten the inevitable talk radio/Tea Party implosion. Limbaugh’s influence is a direct result of the former begetting the latter. Few if any of the raging ideologues voted into office in 2010 would be where they are without the 20 year expansion of Limbaugh-style talk radio and its eventual organization into the myriad Tea Party groups. The sweet, sweet pay off for Limbaugh is that he invented a “movement” that has made him even stronger.

As with almost every grievance-driven “populist” revolution, there inevitably comes a moment of gross overreach that is its undoing. Like others, I look at the Republican primary season thus far and see nothing but overreach. Basically, the four remaining candidates are engaged in a contest to see who can out-Limbaugh the other. It is a self-defeating, common sense moderate/independent shedding act that supplies all the divisive, crazy-embracing rhetoric and mechanics of its own demise.

There will of course always be a large, angry, ill-informed minority in every population that responds to theatrical demagoguery. That’s human nature. Plenty of people demand to be taken seriously without doing the work of serious thinking. But cycles of popularity and influence are also a part of human culture. What rises, falls. What once had unchallenged influence weakens and is replaced … sometimes by something worse. (Glenn Beck, anyone)?

The larger tactical point is to exploit a ripe opportunity to hasten the downfall of a prominent adversary in the hope of exploiting the interim between the end of his cycle of power and the rise of the next one.

Rush Limbaugh is a formidable, perhaps the most formidable conservative opponent on the landscape today. (I can’t help but wonder how much even someone like John Boehner would like to be rid of the constant fear of provoking Limbaugh’s wrath.) If you want to “man-up” for a serious, course-changing fight, you want to prove it against a Goliath that has already speared himself through his own tongue.

Dear Ms. Fluke: Sue his fat ass.










The Bully Pulpit…

9-14-2009 11-03-15 AMIt’s good to be king.

One of the great advantages of being president is the ability to nudge the national discussion in whatever direction you choose.  As President Obama spoke to Wall Street today, that ability was on full display on every cable news feed except the Weather Channel.

John Boehner is probably speaking somewhere right now.  So is Mitch McConnell.  And so too are Rush and Sarah and Sean and Michael and Ann and all the other members of the pontificates in exile.  They ain’t got 7 channels, though.

– Austin

The DIO Index

Before the right gets a little too excited about declaring the Obama administration a failure, I’d like to introduce the “DIO Index” to remind all of us – left, right and center – that it might be just a little premature to call the game yet.

The DIO – Days in Office – is a simple ratio of President Bush’s days in office compared to President Obama’s.  The index current is over 63, meaning that as of today, President Bush held office 63 times longer than President Obama.  At the end of the over-hyped first 100 days, it will be about 29-1.


The Bush administration was remarkably efficient in screwing things up so the Obama administraiton is going to have to work hard to match their pace.  Accordingly, I would suggest our brethren on the right – as represented by Glenn “Bunker Boy” Beck and “Rush-to-Judgement” Limbaugh -that they would have a stronger case to make when the DIO gets down to around 8 or so.

We’ll update the DIO as events warrant.

– Austin