Every time I am driving through the West, what some call the heartland of the United States, the red states, switching on the radio to find news can be an interesting way to understand what the people there are getting for information.
Across northern California's eastern quarter, into Nevada, down through its deserts and those of Arizona, this last trip down, there are no radio stations that give a moderate or liberal view of life. NPR, what's that? Unless they pay for satellite radio stations, the only available talk radio promotes a right wing agenda. The scanty exceptions are aimed at health questions or how to solve internet problems.
When we drive through the back country, see the ranchers out gathering their cattle, the small towns, the old trucks driving back from town, often enough a woman on her way home from picking up parts to repair the tractor, the awareness grows that these people only hear one view of politics.
Are these red regions because they think a certain way or because they are inundated with that thinking? They could turn on their cable TV (if they have a dish and can afford it). They could read different viewpoints on the Internet, but how many listen only to Fox news, read right wing blogs and think they are hearing the whole story?
Some years back, I used to listen to Glenn Beck but reached a point where I couldn't stand it any longer. I hadn't again until surfing on the long drive. Recognizing his voice and tone, I thought I should see what he's saying today. He has grown considerably in power since the long ago time when I first listened to him.
To me, Glenn Beck is a man with one agenda and a frantic tone to his voice. He is deliberately catering to the ones who say they are now disenfranchised because they voted for the losing candidate. Excuse me but I had that problem for 8 years and did anybody think I was entitled to stop paying taxes? With his tea bag revolt, he compares today's situation to that before the Revolutionary War. What is this man trying to create and what do those who listen to him hope to do?
As the miles spun past, I tried to listen to him for long enough to see if there was anything other than the most obvious messages: Only the right (O'Reilly being a good example) is telling you the truth. You, who listen to me, are better than those awful lefties who want to destroy this country. (Er what would a revolution do? Oops was that logic.) Beck isn't interested in logic. Only people who listen to right wing radio or TV are smart and smarts don't come from our corrupted education system. Not sure from where they do come.
Beck had a sizable segment devoted to one scientist with a top reputation who is saying we are not experiencing global warming but even if we are, it's not the fault of carbon dioxide which makes plants grow better. There was little discussion of what kind of plants, but that wasn't needed. What Beck wants is to make people afraid of liberals. For those who regularly listen to his radio or Fox TV program, maybe he succeeds.
Several times I came across Michael Savage. Later when I checked him on the Internet, I read, that for talk radio he is third only to Limbaugh and Hannity (nobody should ask me to listen to Hannity, that goes way beyond the call of duty).
Savage didn't change his message in any program. He sells (and probably bathes in) pure unadulterated hate. Thursday and Friday, he was mad at the fact that nobody but him had cared about four police officers in Oakland being murdered. He emphasized recordings from a small Oakland demonstration (35 or so people) of voices praising the murderer because they are mad at the police period and anybody who kills one is a good guy. Why these total nutcases, who probably would like no police protection so they can run riot, got any coverage, I don't know; and also, being on the highway, don't know if they got it from anybody but Savage. The media, including his, does not have to give time to just anybody who wants it!
As for Savage's accusation that liberal women with gray hair killed these police officers, well it is totally aimed at his audience who already disrespect liberals and must get off on hearing the anger in this man's voice toward these women who are the true destroyers of this country. Forget what you heard about bankers or corporate greed or even foreign terrorists. It's not them who endanger this nation's values but gray-haired, liberal women.
Truth isn't part of Savage's spiel; but for anyone who does care about it, those murders were in papers all across this country and people everywhere spoke out against the horror of what had happened. I don't know about you; but every time I see police officers, I think what a tough job they have and how they are the ones who go in when the rest of us run out. Sure there have been a few who abused their power, but they are a minuscule part of the US police force.
California's two senators came to the memorial service; but since they are liberal women, that was a double insult in Savage's mind. He is mad that these are the women who would try to control gun availability. So the fact that this criminal had a gun; and it didn't do the police officers any good that they had one when dealing with a sociopath, none of that had a connection in Savage's mind.
If you listen to Savage for long, you have to wonder if Weiner (his real name under which he writes books on homeopathic health cures) actually agrees with anything he says? Might he be like Glenn Beck who recently compared himself to a rodeo clown and believes he is supposed to be entertaining the ones who listen to him. It appears he feels he is giving them what they want.
If someone regularly listened to Savage, they would not simply lose hope. They would be ready to raise up and create violence, anarchy, as it's what he seems to want to see happen. It's clear that only a violent overthrow (don't ask by who as logic is no part of this man's programming either) will satisfy him. He evidently has bought himself a stronghold somewhere away from San Francisco where he will be based to escape the coming carnage. Is he trying to create that violence? He would be if enough people followed what he said.
Does he ever say anything sensible? Probably he does. In the church, they used to call that a Satan Sandwich (a lie sandwiched between two truths to make it seem to also be true). For Savage, Satan is me, but to me it's those who profit from encouraging others to ruin their lives so that they themselves can live a life of plenty.
Finally there is the king of the talk radio and hard as it is to say, Rush Limbaugh is the easiest to take. Part of that is the charisma of the man, the energy which generally was not hate filled or whimpering. He has almost a sense of humor about what is going on but that leaves me wondering what he really believes. His biggest concern last week appeared to be worry about more taxes; and with his wealth, that's not surprising, I guess.
At one point I had to turn Rush off but not for the reasons you might expect. I was starting to agree with him... but there are things a left leaning moderate always would see similarly to Rush. It's why I used to be able to listen every day. The part he seemed right about is some of the ridiculousness of dealing with global climate change.
Rush said the greens in California want to ban black cars by some year in the future. That's to make air conditioning work less. What if the people drive at night, Rush joked. In my opinion, government should telll people in LA how much extra gasoline they will be using if they have a black car and run their A/C but that should be the sum of their involvement as would red cars be better? How about the interiors? Should everyone have to drive white cars? It's just plain silly. Rush is good at finding such things that often the rest of us haven't even heard about (unless living in California maybe).
Unlike Beck, Rush didn't try to deny that global climate change might be coming. He just didn't think it came from mankind. Wrong though he might be, that is at least a reasonable approach to take. He didn't appear though to think mankind should do anything about it if it is coming and I wonder if he's thought about his mansion in Florida that is probably not much above sea level? Savage might even believe in global warming and it's the true reason he's leaving the Bay Area...
Where Rush surprised me most (from what I remember of his talk before) is when he was talking about power lost in our current power grid system and he claimed it is 40%. He seemed to believe that was how much is being stolen by customers who cheated the system and more or less said it's what Americans do-- take what they want. I don't know if he meant it to be approving, but it sounded that way.
First of all, overhead power lines have been a wasteful way to move energy. There is loss which is why it's not considered safe to live right under or near them. So even if the figures are correct, the loss of 40% is not all people rigging up their meters as Rush seemed to believe.
But it sounded like he was defending stealing when you think you have been treated unfairly, as some on the right seem to think because they didn't win the last election. Is it okay with Rush for people to lie on their taxes if they didn't get the president for whom they voted?
Well, we know Rush felt it was okay to get his prescription drugs illegally when he needed a substance that the government controls. How far does his thinking that way go? That wasn't the Limbaugh I remember who called people to higher standards. Has he lost his own moral code in catering to a group who actually are controlling what he is saying more than he admits-- at least publicly?
Basically most of the right wing talk radio were talking anarchy. Who exactly would then run things after they took over is not discussed. Forget Beck or Savage. Nobody is going to chose them for an actual leader. Who even knows what Hannity believes; but if Chuck Norris and Rush Limbaugh have to duke it out, Rush wins if it's oratory but otherwise, heil President Norris.
If I lived in the middle of Nevada and had to listen to just talk radio for what is going on, I would think the country was going to hell in a hand basket (as my not exactly sainted daddy used to say) and that any scientist who says there is global warming is either a quack or being paid off. I would ignore things like [Thomas Friedman explaining what we might be facing], and want more guns as I'd expect to be overrun by little old gray haired ladies trying to take away my freedoms.
To me, it seems a shame that the people in the wide open spaces, country I love, aren't hearing more viewpoints, hearing the arguments from both sides, but maybe they want to be told what is truth and not have to bother sorting it out. I can sympathize with that actually...
(Photos are from northern California and Nevada. The land is cattle and mining country. Miles of it many would call worthless, places that people try to settle and often fail leaving behind remnants of their dreams. I love driving through it-- not sure how it'd be for living, of course. Although I have often thought that with the right purpose to your life, the right people in your life, anywhere can be good.
Finally because of Savage's warnings about those old, gray-haired, liberal women who threaten this country's safety, I asked Farm Boss to take a photo of one of them at our Tucson house; so savage-type 'conservatives' will know for what they are looking.)