Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Blogosphere vs The Radio

I've just listened to eight hours of talk radio. I wasn't in the mood for Soccer-Mom Country, or the 500 canonized tunes now known as classic rock. The only radio preachers on the air were reasonably rational and therefore had little entertainment value, since I wasn't in the mood for self-improvement.

Four hours to Houston and four hours back with Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Jon-David Wells, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, David Ramsey, Dennis Praeger, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and, the only candle in the darkness, Dennis Miller.

Good Lord in heaven, what a crew.... Going over the same rants and clips and sound bytes over and over and over. Heck, I'll post a popular Youtube video now and then, but once I've posted it, I don't put it up again thirty minutes later.

One issue kept coming up on most of the shows. Since there's little difference in the Obama and Clinton platforms, the disagreement over repealing the 18 cent gasoline tax through the summer months has been the only real point of contention for the last week.

A North Carolina Superdelegate named David Parker was briefly interviewed on WBAP on the gasoline tax. I don't remember the exact words, but he was asked if an 18 cent break was enough to make a real difference. Parker claimed, and once again, this is a paraphrase, that "it's not the pennies saved, it's the symbolic value of doing something."

What a steaming pile of it. The talk show host heard what Parker said, and let it pass.

We already have something like 15 linear feet of volumes and volumes of regulations, tweakings, adjustments, and laws designed to show that government is doing something.

One of the world's most colorful blogger groups, The Devil's Kitchen, has developed a formula for this type of statement. They're British, and are referring to the EU in this example, but the same principle applies here in the U.S. (And don't even think about hitting that link unless you've got a high tolerance for colorful profanity.)
"In the face of [insert crisis here], Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged [insert supranational body here] to [insert zany 'action' here] to [insert imagined outcome here]"

You could churn this stuff out by the hour if you wanted.

Ok, let's try it. Follow along at home, and perhaps you can do it on your own in a few minutes.

"In the face of [rising gasoline prices], North Carolina Superdelegate David Parker has urged [Congress] to [eliminate gas taxes] in order to [lower gas prices]."

Well, that's accurate but incomplete. And dull. Let's add some subtext.

"In the face of [rising gasoline prices because we haven't opened up ANWR or brought any new refineries online in Britney Spears' lifetime], North Carolina Superdelegate David Parker has urged [the people who originally caused the problem in Congress] to [exacerbate the problem by encouraging people to increase gasoline usage] in order to [magically make the supply increase.]"

Let's try another one.

"In the face of [rising medical costs], Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has urged [ Congress ] to [ throw some more regulations at insurance companies ] in order to [ make it look like they're doing something ]."

Here's a proposal from The Devil's Kitchen for what should actually be done. In this case, the issue is the food riots in Asia:

Approximately 88 years after everyone else realised that a mish-mash of ('fair trade') forced agragrian backwardness, (Government driven) rising fuel costs, extra demands on land usage, the (Government-inspired) dash for bio-fuels and the (Government endorsed) steps away from adoption of GM technology was causing food prices to rise, he is demanding that Governments (there's that word again!) take co-ordinated, urgent action to resolve the problem.
They go on from there. DK is not for the faint of heart. But beneath all the profanity, hyperbole, and scatalogical references, there is an intelligence that's lacking on the USA's AM radio wasteland. No one on that blog would've taken David Parker's gas tax line seriously.

What was it that Flannery O'Connor said about communicating with audiences who disagree with you?

“When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs as you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock, to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind, you draw large and startling figures.”

That's one of the things I like about the blogosphere. People shout, and draw large startling figures.

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