Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Hate The War

Air America Radio is dead. At last. (Hit it, Etta James.) ABC reveals that the *network* was broadcasting many "reruns of programs" (stopping on Monday) and apparently no one noticed. How would they? Who still listened? Paul Farhi (Washington Post) explains, "Since last summer, Air America has been heard in the Washington area on WZAA (1050 AM). Its audience has been so small that Arbitron, which compiles radio ratings, was unable to detect any listeners for WZAA during several weeks in December. "

In a self-serving and fictional letter, Air America chair Charlie Kireker declared:

At a critical time in our nation's history -- when dissent on issues such as the Iraq war were often denounced as "un-American" -- Air America and its talented team helped millions of Americans remember the importance of compelling discussion about the most pivotal events and decisions of our generation.

What a lie.

Air America Radio started in 2004. It did not call for an end to the Iraq War. It prized its weekday hosts. So let's check in on them.

Marty Kaplin? Marty did a good show (several in fact, it was retooled constantly) but it was more of an arts show and, as with most shows you could hear or watch Sally Quinn on (I like and know Sally), it did not call for an end to the Iraq War.

The most heavily promoted program was Al Franken's show which had two different titles and a co-host. Neither she nor Al favored withdrawal. That was true in 2004. That was true in 2005. (I also know Al and have for years. Note that I do not add "I like" Al.) Al would argue with callers who said the US needed to leave. Al would say the US couldn't leave. If he was losing the argument -- as he so frequently did -- he would begin sobbing and attempt to use the dead as an excuse to continue the illegal war. He was shameless. He was Baby Cries A Lot. (Trivia note, best on air meltdown non-Iraq related was either when Naomi Klein swore -- s**t -- and Al was pissed but tried to act pleased or when Bob Somerby was a guest and Al got pissed that Bob didn't say just what he wanted -- Bob was never asked back. For most media types, however, it was when Al got nasty with Howard Fineman -- whom he usually fawned over.)

Before his show, Unfiltered aired for one year (April 1, 2005, it went off the air to bring on Jerry Springer -- and, sadly, that's not a joke). The hosts were Lizz Winstead, Chuck D and Rachel Maddow. Rachel the idiot Maddow. Rachel the War Hawk Maddow.

Rachel would repeatedly state on air that US troops couldn't leave. Why? Because of the "Pottery Barn rule." Yes, the alleged brain is that damn stupid. Pottery Barn (despite Colin Powell claiming otherwise) has no such rule.

Rachel would pimp endless war. And Lizz was too busy selling dress up bears. (That was really embarrassing. In fairness to Lizz, she created the network and was treated like crap. But we may come back to that.) Chuck rarely showed and no one could blame him for that (Chuck D is against the war, has always been against it and has called for an immediate withdrawal).

Rachel would use her allegedly 'superior' intelligence to berate those who wanted the US to withdraw from Iraq. "No, no," she'd insist, "and let me tell you why." Those who are puzzled by how she fawns over Collie Powell never caught her on air act. She was always a piece of work. She's a War Hawk, that's all she'll ever be. Well, that and a Whore because only a Whore stabs everyone in the back to advance herself. For all the Scott Baio lookalike's attempts at class, her trashy life reads like a remake of The Valley of the Dolls.

When confronted today about those days, Rache tries to pretend otherwise and will insist, "I did a segment called 'Ask a Vet'." She sure did. She brought on pro-war veterans to talk about various things. Never withdrawal because they didn't support withdrawal. And one that she brought on? He beat his wife. He was in the news for beating his wife. But Rachel loved him so much -- mmmm, mmm, mmm! she loves the smell of war -- she not only had him for the "Ask A Vet" segment, she brought him back on Friday for their embarrassing "party jam." It was embarrassing, it was shameful and the man wasn't all there. We're being kind.

Before them aired Morning Sedition and no one ever knew what the show was or was supposed to be. Three hosts at the start and the first question should have been: Who killed Sue Ellen? Instead, we were all treated to a man's daily homoerotic ravings about Bush. No, it did not make for entertaining radio.

The Randi Rhodes Show followed Al's show. Allowing Randi to get in multiple on-air digs at Al (whose show was heavily promoted while hers was not -- and she had a point, she was the only one with a real record in political radio and she did know -- back then -- what she was doing). Randi was for withdrawal . . . After Camp Casey started. Before that?


Even while whining (over and over) that the music today "sucked" and that we needed good protest music, Randi was for continuing the Iraq War because . . . troops were there. US troops are in Germany too so, by Randi's 'logic,' the US should probably start blowing up Berlin. And that protest music? What exactly did Randi want it to say since it couldn't call for an end to the war?

Never very bright and often mistaken for drunk or stoned on air, Randi was a mess and a war boosting mess. Yes, the Iraq War was wrong and she could give you chapter and verse on all the lies but -- until Camp Casey (summer 2005) -- she tore apart any caller who stated the US needed to leave Iraq.

Marty followed Randi for a bit. The big night time show was The Majority Report with Janeane Garofalo and her sidekick (and later Judas) Sam Seder. Janeane was against the war and for a full and complete withdrawal immediately. She was the only host who voiced that opinion regularly from the very start. Not as an aside, but as a regular platform. I'm not pleased with Janeane today but she deserves credit for what she did. A lot of the lists that men make up as they 'reflect' on those earlier days includes the names of people who were against the Iraq War -- if you can be 'against' it while saying there can be no withdrawal.

Janeane showed real bravery. And that included with the always wavering Sam Seder who was against the war but was sometimes against withdrawal and sometimes for it. Or as the two-bit whore once infamously told an enraged audience, "If you didn't like what you heard, you got your answer."

Yes, Sam and you got your answer when Janeane left the program and you found out no one wanted to listen to your tired and awkward ass.

John V. Walsh has an article about calling into Air America Radio and advocating for withdrawal. I'm blanking on where it ran. And I've still got two columns to write. So I'll look it up this weekend when I remember it and toss out a link to it then. But he documented how when he called and advocated withdrawal, show after show featured hosts arguing with him. [Added: John Walsh's column is "Lying on Air America to Support the War" and ran at CounterPunch May 4, 2005, after Unfiltered was cancelled.]

It's amazing that the chair of Air America Radio thinks they can lie and get away with it. No damn way. They spent over a year insisting that the illegal war must continue. The only exception during the week was Janeane. (I don't think Walsh gave Janeane the exception. I do.)

On the weekend, Laura Flanders hosted a show with ever changing names and ever changing points of view.

But sometimes she was really against the Iraq War and for withdrawal. If you could believe her. No, I'm not referring to the self-loathing lesbian's refusal to call out Barack for his repeated use of homophobia as a campaign strategy in 2007 and 2008.

The November 2004 presidential elections took place as Air America Radio was hitting its ninth month of broadcasting. AAR pimped John Kerry like crazy. (I voted for John Kerry. I gave to his campaign and began doing so in 2003.)

How "like crazy"? Patti Smith was ripped apart on air by Randi Rhodes. Patti had come in to tape Steve Earle's show (a music show where they discussed and played favorite records). Randi cornered her in the hall and told her she was a huge fan, could she please, please, come on the air with Randi? Her program was just about to start?

Patti had never heard of Randi Rhodes. But Patti is left and was willing to help out Air America Radio. So she and Randi started the interview live. And it was okay while Randi was talking about Horses (the debut album of the Patti Smith Group). But quickly Randi wanted to take Patti to task for supporting Ralph Nader in 200o (WHY!!! WHY DID YOU DO IT!!!) and Randi wanted to repeat a lot of lies about Ralph Nader. They were lies. And they were offensive. And Patti stopped her (politely) to explain that it wasn't true and that it had been put out there by --
Patti didn't get to finish. No one gets to finish with Randi. And you know she hates women.

Patti finally said, "If you're not going to let me answer, I'm not going to continue this interview." At which point Randi began attacking Patti on air. She said it wasn't an interview. (Yeah, it was. Randi, you were and remain a nobody. It was an interview.) When Patti took off her microphone and began to leave the tiny studio, Randi began bullying her and tossing out little gems like, "Yeah, run away because you're scared!" It was disgusting. People who were shocked by the trash and vile that got Randi off Air America Radio (that little stand up bit on Hillary) must have missed the way she treated Patti.

Regularly, liars like Medea Benjamin, would show up, fresh from their reprogramming center. Medea was most popular on Unfiltered but she made the rounds of most of the shows and she would explain (remember this was an election year) that she was all better and would not vote for Ralph Nader the way she had in 2000. She was reformed. She was reborn. She was a Stepford Wife.

Ani DiFranco did an appearance on The Majority Show in the summer of 2004. The election was one of the topics. Ani (like Janeane) had supported Ralph in 2000. Ani, not realizing the indoctrination (indoctrination she'd take part in herself in 2008) made the mistake of mentioning that she'd be attending a Nader event that weekend.


Janeane expressed sadness. Sam Seder expressed scorn.

Ani had to backpeddle. She hadn't decided who to vote for yet. (She didn't admit this on air but she'd already given to Ralph's campaign.) She was just trying to get all viewpoints. (Yes, it did sound like the scene from Annie Hall but with none of the humor or charm.) After she was gone, it was time for "I can't believe she'd think about voting for Ralph."

B-b-but Laura!

The above is all noted because maybe Laura couldn't be honest. Certainly, going from her San Francisco radio show (Your Call) to Air America meant that, on air, she was no longer an out lesbian. Her girlfriend vanished but damned if we didn't frequently hear about her cat!

Her sexuality wasn't the only thing Laura was hiding. Throughout 2004 she played John Kerry cheerleader. She was among the ones working election night on air. When it was official Kerry lost, all the hope left AAR. And Laura showed up for the overnight. She told listeners they were in it together. She told them they'd get through it together. She told them how awful it was that Kerry lost.

But . . . thing is . . . Laura didn't vote for John Kerry. Despite lying to listeners when they were at their lowest (the overnight period after the election), despite lying on her program in all the months leading up to the 2004 election, Laura didn't vote for John Kerry. Laura voted for Ralph Nader.

There's nothing wrong with voting for anyone you believe in. There's nothing wrong with refusing to say who you voted for (or if you voted). But there is something seriously wrong about a grown woman who would lie to her audience about who she voted for. These relationships are built on trust and, if you're a political host, you better be honest about who you voted for or just not say. You can't lie. That's a huge betrayal. Especially when AAR made Ralph out to be as bad as a Republican.

So was Laura calling for a withdrawal? I believe John V. Walsh was less than convinced and more should be considering the fact that the entire lead up to the 2004 elections, she was lying to listeners.

And, in the end, that's what AAR provided: Non-stop lies.

Lies about this, lies about that. They weren't a news station. They were a bunch of yackers and they spun every day to make Dems look good.

Excuse me. Rachel Maddow attacked a Democrat on air once. Bill Nelson. (I know Bill Nelson and like him.) She ripped him apart for one of his votes. Well . . .

She ripped him apart for a Nelson vote.

Big Brain came back after the commercial to explain, Ben Nelson (of Nebraska) was the one that voted the wrong way. She didn't realize the Senate had two Nelsons. (This was in January of 2005 -- she'd been on the air for ten months as a 'political host' with a focus on the Congress.) Turns out, there was one from Nebraska and one from Florida, she explained . . . to an audience that already knew it. (The show's blog had gone wild the second she started ripping apart Bill Nelson with everyone rushing to correct Rachel.)

So there's was that time. But Air America Radio existed to pimp for the Democratic Party. It did not exist to inform people, it existed to convert.

And if you were contrite following your conversion, if you would wear a DNC pin and say, "I'm a very lucky girl," Air America Radio would let you on even if you had once voted for Ralph Nader . . . provided of course that you were willing to confess to your sin publicly and grovel for forgiveness. And then you too could insist that the illegal war must continue.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4373. Tonight? 4374.

"I Hate The War"? As Ruth noted yesterday, "The Ballet does the song and I first heard it on Out-FM and told C.I. and everyone about it. (I blogged about it repeatedly.) I only learned yesterday that you can download the track for free and legally here at Out-FM's website."
And Out-FM airs Mondays (WBAI) at 11:00 a.m.

For any late to the party, I voted for (and donated to) Al Gore's campaign in 2000. Until 2008, I always voted for the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. In 2008, I voted for either Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. I had already made clear online (as far back as 2005) that I could not vote for John McCain under any circumstances and Elaine and my remarks about our encounter with Barry O when he was running for the US Senate (and revealed he wasn't for withdrawal) ensured that, short of his getting honest, I couldn't vote for him. I am very glad to have voted in 2008 for a candidate who truly would have ended the illegal war.

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