Thursday, August 7, 2008

The people are the trustees of the airways

I listen to a lot of local radio programming. The talk shows in this radio market are entirely one-sided propaganda. Sawn Hannity opens his showing every afternoon calling it the "Stop the Obama Express." How subtle is that?

Tammy Bruce sounds like someone from another planet. Bill O'Reilly (king of spin); comedian Rush Limbaugh (With talent on loan from God). Rush's perverse sense of humor, pronounces "God" is a most disrespectable tone. Michael Savage (he says entire areas of the Middle East should be utterly destroyed, and 99 percent of Autistic children are brats who've not been corrected.); Laura Ingraham (President Bush can do no wrong); Michelle Malkin (hates the Fairness Doctrine); Glenn Beck (on the second team).

This column is too short to say more. Unfortunately those who disagree have already quit reading. I understand how it might be in your interest to stay in the dark. I suggest for a more in-depth look at the subject, get Rory O'Connor's book "Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio." As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan said: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts."

So here are some my opinions (fact-checked) of a couple of Christian leaders' political opinions. These are the two I wrote about recently who defended the rights to torture.

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, recently taped a radio program with Focus on the Family founder, James Dobson.

Most of their radio "dialogue" revolved around the coming presidential election. I did not hear the program. That is like writing a book review having never read the book. But I trust the transcript to be true to the broadcast.

Mohler said at one point, "I do not endorse candidates" and went on a lengthy diatribe against the liberal Barack Obama, whose "general trajectory is at odds with many of the things we hold most precious." He did not elaborate.

The seminary president (stressing he is not endorsing anyone) John McCain would be the clear choice this fall. After all, McCain is against same-sex marriage. What a thin little unimportant issue with the world falling apart and our economy diving deeper into a depression. (Excuse my using that "d" word, but having grown up in the Great Depression makes me uneasy about the direction the country is being taken.)

In the old gangster movies when they took somebody "for a ride," you knew he was in trouble. This country has been taken for a ride for nearly eight years.

There are more far-reaching problems than if the homosexuals hold a parade. This fall our troops will have spent eight winters in Afghanistan. We went there to get Osama bin Laden. The tall Arab has accomplished far more than he ever dreamed. Killing him now would only make things worse. Yes, they can get worse.

I don't like to write from the cheap seats, but nothing sells like immoral tales. When John McCain was a Navy Captain, with little chance to make admiral, he began his affair with his present wife before he divorced his first. The first wife suffered through those years praying for his release from the Hanoi P.O.W. camp.

There was a time when divorce was frowned upon. For me, divorce is still a tragic and sad occasion. I don't know how Mohler with his strict family values, can so easily overlook this moral lapse especially since the Navy does not allow such goings-on.

Dobson likes Senator McCain's pro-life votes and that he favors marriage between and man and woman. And homosexuals should not be allowed to adopt children. This seems to fit in with the agenda of a great many one-issue voters. It makes about as much sense as voting for someone who smokes a pipe instead of a cigar.

Dobson said McCain "seems to understand the Muslim threat, which matters a lot to me. I'm very concerned about that." The radical Muslim threat is real. Dobson left out the word "radical" because he and John Hagee and Rod Parsley see the Iraq invasion and occupation more as a religious war. Apparently a remedial grasp of history is no longer necessary to have a talk show.

The Federal Communications Commission took the view in 1949 that station licensees were "public trustees." Called the Fairness Doctrine it was to afford reasonable opportunity for discussions of contrasting points of view. In the 1980s when the Reagan Administration got on its deregulation sweep the Fairness Doctrine was dissolved. That is why there is such imbalance in radio and television presentations of issues. Ultra-conservative radio talk shows were born.

The airwaves may belong to the people, but until the Fairness Doctrine is reinstated it will be controlled by those of the far right persuasion.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

AUGUST 8, 2008, 8:08 PM CHINA OLYMPICS OPEN 8-8-08

As you read this the every-four year Olympiad is already underway in China. China is thirteen or fourteen hours ahead of Texas time. So those going to work around eight in Texas (except El Paso) this Friday morning can know the sun is setting on first full day of the Olympics in China.

The dates China chose for their first time to host the Olympics is 8-8-08. All those eights make it a unique date. Eight is pronounced "baa," as in Mary Had A Little Lamb, but a tad shorter. The months of the year are named after the numbers 1 to 12, January to December.

The number eight (ba) is auspicious in Chinese, as it is in rhyme pronounced like the word "fa" (fa qian, which is part of the expression meaning "to become wealthy").

Thousands of couples in Beijing took out marriage licenses to have the ceremony on August 8, 2008. The automobile license plate with only the number eight goes for millions of U.S. dollars. There were many bids in Beijing to get that number.

China has opened two large press centers. They are the largest ever provided for the press. It is estimated that 21,000 foreign and domestic reporters will cover the games. China has been promising press freedom during the Olympics for some time. They will allow journalists complete freedom, including unfettered access use of the Internet.

Hard as they try the Chinese are too paranoid to offer real, open access. Tiananmen Square, the entrance to the Forbidden City, in Beijing's center is off-limits. The foreign networks are still arguing for some time there. China government has yet to admit to the death and injury their army did to the peaceful protesting students at Tiananmen June 4, 1989. I know the students were peaceful. I was there walking among them for days before the crackdown.

Taiwan is going to Beijing Olympics as China: Taipei. Since the 1960 Rome Olympics Taiwan has not been permitted to use the name Republic of China. That year Taiwan's hero was Iron Man C.K. Yang (Yang Chuan Kwang). At Rome he won the silver medal in the decathlon to Rafer Johnson. Johnson had to come a close second in the final race to beat out Yang. Johnson won the race and the gold medal for the decathlon.

Yang was from the Amis tribe of Taiwanese aborigines. The Iron Man of Asia suffered from liver cancer and died January 28, 2007.

The young C.K. Yang had a chance meeting in Taiwan with two-time Olympic decathlon champion Bob Mathias and was inspired to become the world's greatest decathlete. He went to UCLA and trained with Rafer Johnson. Yang was fifth in the 1964 Olympics.

Becky Hammon, of the San Antonio Silver Spurs, is one of the best guards in the Women's National Basketball Association was not picked to be on the Olympic basketball team. The Russians invited her to play for them and will pay her $1 million to boot. Some called her unpatriotic to play for Russia. The Olympic is not about politics. The athletes are playing for the greatest prize in sports. Not for one flag or another.

One Silver Spur is going to play for the USA. She is former Notre Dame player, Ruth Riley. Her sister Rachel was in Iraq as an Arabic linguist and later a Blackhawk pilot.

Riley writes (see the Silver Spurs web site) that Rachel was "medically discharged with severe depression and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). But in all reality, my ... sister, [is] in essence still missing in action."

Ruth writes her sister's opponent is far greater than can be faced on a basketball court. Every day Rachel faces in her mind the anger, frustration, doubt, hopelessness and depression brought to her in the war. Ruth wants more people to be aware of the thousands of our military who are going through such a hell on earth.

When you watch the USA women's basketball team in the Olympics keep an eye out for Ruth Riley and pray for her sister Rachel and all those who battle with PTSD.


Britt Towery, free-lance writer, lives in San Angelo. Comments welcomed: