08/18/2009 (4:38 pm)
I have spent far too little time documenting the new “Czar” structure of the Obama administration. Better late than never, I suppose.
Czarring is really just appointing an administrator to oversee and coordinate a particular executive function. Many Presidents have one, some two or three, and most recently, George W. Bush appointed more than anyone before him, with something like 19 different “czars,” many of them ad hoc appointments for temporary matters (he had a Katrina Czar, and a Bird Flu Czar.) But the Obama administration has outdone them all, with the President having already appointed some 35 individuals to head new administrative teams reporting to the White House.
As near as I can determine, the practice is Constitutionally iffy. Article II, section 2, clause 2 seems to assume that Congress retains power to confirm Presidential appointments of minor officers in the Executive branch, and can only refrain if it does so explicitly. The same clause seems to imply that executive departments can only be established by acts of Congress, although I doubt that that provision has ever been enforced.
At any rate, the real entertainment associated with all these Executive underlings has been reading the ideas these folks have expressed prior to being appointed to the government. It appears that President Obama has taken to appointing whoever has “progressive” ideas of note and wants a chance to try them out. Some of these ideas have been… interesting.
The latest in the string of “Czar” appointments was the appointment of the Chief Diversity Officer at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Diversity Officer, you ask? Well, apparently the position has never existed before, but now President Obama has created it, and installed in it an attorney named Mark Lloyd, formerly Senior Fellow at the ultra-liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress. Mr. Lloyd has some… ahem… novel ideas about how the government can solve for everybody the horrendous problem the citizenry has been railing about forever, the absence of “progressive” voices in media. Yes, you heard that right.
You see, the fact that leftists utterly control every newsroom of every major television network in America other than Fox, that leftists control perhaps 90% of major market newpaper newsrooms, that leftists dominate scriptwriting and production in television and film, that leftists completely dominate popular music, and that there is practically no such thing as an artist who is not a leftist of some stripe, progressives like Lloyd have expressed outrage that in most radio markets, nearly all the partisan talk shows are conservative. It’s just. Not. Fair.
In a June 2007 paper entitled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” Lloyd (with 9 others) observed that 91% of talk radio programming is conservative, and only 9% is “progressive.” This does not include government subsidized, mostly leftward-leaning public radio stations, which don’t count because… well, golly, they just don’t. Pay no attention to those government-paid men behind the curtain. The reason for the disparity is as follows:
Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.
If you have your LeftSpeak Jargon Translator turned off, the above translates to “conservatives are talking because we have not officially shut them up yet.” You’ll notice, of course, that consumer demand is missing from the list of the causes of the disparity; it cannot be that there is a lot more conservative talk radio because the public is willing to pay for and listen to a lot more of it. Oh, no. The report does consider the argument that demand causes the disparity, but it dismisses it. It can’t be that, you see, because conservatives are not even half of the total market, but more than 90% of the shows are conservative (not counting NPR and the like.) What’s worse, in the few markets where a leftist talk show is performing well, there is only one such talk show, but there are as many as four conservative talk shows. It’s. Not. Fair. And of course, there’s no reason to consider how nicely the left’s taste for hearing its own talking points gets satisfied by movies, music, TV, the arts, mainstream newspapers, and network “news” programs (“60 Minutes? Middle-of-the-road, of course,) which would explain why leftists feel no urge to listen to radio for information or support. We have to consider radio in a vacuum. It’s the only fair way.
So how can the government solve this awful disparity that the clearly expressed taste of the public has created? How can the government force radio stations to air programming that is truly fair and balanced? Why, by threatening to remove stations’ broadcast licenses every three years if they don’t “serve the public interest” as defined by… well, by Progressives (shouldn’t the public interest be defined by, I dunno, the public?) And by limiting the size of the company that is permitted to control the radio station — because everybody knows that Big Corporations cannot run local radio stations that meet local demand.
New Diversity Czar Lloyd also wrote some ideas in a book entitled Prologue to a Farce in 2006. I’ve not read the book (apparently, very few have), but blurbs suggest that it claims that the fact that communications are carried out by Evil Corporations® means that people cannot find out what they need to find out for a free society. Consequently, Good Progressives® have to correct the Evil produced by these Evil Corporations®, so people get to hear what they genuinely want to hear, instead of what they pay to hear by supporting advertisers. See how easy it is?
In order to tame these Evil Corporations®, apparently Lloyd suggests that the FCC levy a fine on corporate broadcasters equal to — wait for it — equal to their entire operating expenditures. The proceeds would go to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (ok, now public broadcasting counts. Because… um… well, it just does.) And of course, no Big Corporate Broadcaster is going to exit the radio business because they’re being forced to double their expenditures to support their competitors. Big Corporations have unlimited funds, and do not really need to earn a profit. It’s in the public interest. They’ll surely see their responsibility.
Land of the free. Home of the brave.
Listen to Glen Beck discussing the ideas from the book with Seton Motley from the Media Research Center, and brace yourself for American Liberty, Progressive Style. For darkhorse’s sake, though, let’s remember that Czar Lloyd has not actually proposed these ideas as FCC regulations yet, so it constitutes Obama Derangement to suggest that he might consider doing what he’s advocated at some future time. There is no cause to be concerned. All is well. All is well.
7 Comments »
Comment by RM
The ongoing hypocrisy and general nuttiness of these people is surreal. The constant barrage on common sense and fair play is unnerving because with the majorities the Dems have, and how beholden they are to the hard core leftist wing of their party and constituents, there is a chance that some of the idiocy could slip through and become reality.
Many TV shows which start out oriented primarily toward entertainment gradually become permeated with leftist talking points and liberal themes to the point that I have to regretfully exercise my right to tune them out. The TV is far more pervasive than radio. The same applies to much of the print media. Why can’t these clowns simply tune out if they don’t like what they are hearing, the same way we are forced to do?
What is good for the goose is never good for the gander with these people. They are like spoiled brats who have to have everything 100% their way or it doesn’t work for them, and then look out for the ragefest.
Some of this is certainly problematic, and the efforts of this hack and his ilk to control the airwaves is indeed alarming. But I can’t help but be reminded of some supermodel tossing a hissy fit because her cell phone battery ran out in the middle of a conversation about a rave; or a little kid throwing a tantrum and lying on his back, spinning in circles and screaming his lungs out.
I’m all for reasoned debate, but some of this stuff is so over the top that sometimes our reps need to coldly and harshly point out the lunacy of their arguments, and then in no uncertain terms tell them that if they have nothing with any more substance and logic than this to contribute they need to shut the $#&* up and crawl back in their holes.
Comment by Horatius
You know the thing that really strikes me about all of this is that it is not surprising at all. The concept of Free Speech is a pretty new one. If you went back 400 years and during an audience with the King of France and told him to his face that he was a fool and an idiot, you would be lucky to escape with your head, let alone be cheered as “speaking truth to power.”
It is not really surprising, when one holds some great faith or belief in anything, be it religion, political philosophy or admiration for someone you invest quite a bit of yourself in it. Then when someone comes along who says your God is a lie, tells you you are a money-grubbing-evil bastard who only wants to see the poor crawl off and die quietly, or who says that the Man or Woman you admire is an idiot or a fool, your first instinct is to tell him to shut the f*ck up. If it isn’t, then your belief probably does not mean much to you.
In a democracy however (or the indirect form of it we have), communication is vital. There has to be an exchange of ideas in order for there to be compromise. Compromise is the foundation of our system of government. This allows one side or the other not to be a tyranny of the majority. It is what elevates us past simply electing a new ruling caste every two years. It means that no matter how many seats the majority have, the minorities’ voices (and the people they represent) are still heard.
This is the Founder’s true genius and wisdom. Without the exchange or challenging of ideas, people have a tendency to just go along. Their minds(and arguments) become ossified. This is very dangerous territory, for if you can no longer rhetorically defend your beliefs, then maybe they are not worthy beliefs. The fact that this concept (and a system of government based upon it) was so unusual is a sign of how truly blessed we were to have men like the Founders present when our country got started.
They took the unusual step to say, you can say whatever you want about your leadership. You can call Pres. Bush an idiot, you can call Pres. Obama a craven socialist, or you can say Pres. Clinton was a hopeless lecher and suffer official repercussions from saying it.
That is not to say that you will suffer NO repercussions. You are free to say whatever you like. However, other people are free to call you an idiot and avoid you for being a moron. This is why the Dix*e Chicks flap of a few years ago made me want to pull my hair out. The singer was perfectly within her rights to say whatever she wanted about Pres. Bush. However, all of her fans are also free to express their opinion of her opinion by not buying her music, or asking their local country stations not to play it (demanding is another matter.)
The first amendment does not protect you from making a fool of yourself, and then keep anyone from pointing out what a fool you are.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that what the dems, through the “Fairness Doctrine” or by appointing a Tzar answerable only to the president, are really simply going back to the norm for history and rejecting the wisdom of the Founders.
Comment by Phil
That’s a useful observation.
The recognition that liberty is to the soul what air is to the body, and that man would flourish if his liberty were to be protected, is one of the two gems produced by the Protestant Reformation (the other was universal literacy.) Ideas have consequences. It was always a foregone conclusion that if the culture rejected the foundation of the idea of liberty, it would eventually reject the liberty that was based on the idea.
This is the corrosive deception of atheism, which is a parasite religion. Atheism has nothing within it that is capable of building or maintaining a moral system, but it adopts the moral system of the culture where it appears, and says “See? You can be perfectly moral without faith of any sort.” It’s true, so long as the religious system exists around the atheist, and the atheism is existing in a sea of
faithmorality not of its own making. If the atheism ever succeeds in replacing the religion of the culture (as is happening here), then the moral system also collapses, and you get Stalin and Castro and Pol Pot.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” When Christians read this, they don’t think politics, but they ought to, because the ideas are connected. The political liberty we enjoyed here for 200 to 300 years is the consequence of Protestant faith. It is vanishing because Protestant faith is vanishing. It will reappear wherever Protestant faith, or whatever form of faith carries the same message, reappears.
By the bye, the idea that an individual can exist without caring about and contributing to his or her supporting community — the radical individualism which is eating our culture — is ALSO a product of the Protestant Reformation. Ideas have consequences, whether they’re good ideas or bad ones.
Comment by darkhorse
“For darkhorse’s sake, though, let’s remember that Czar Lloyd has not actually proposed these ideas as FCC regulations yet, so it constitutes Obama Derangement to suggest that he might consider doing what he’s advocated at some future time. There is no cause to be concerned. All is well. All is well.”
Completely fair…all you have to do is fire off that set of quotes spread over some time where Obama advocates “Death Panels”. The Pres. is absolutely right that some people are bearing false witness in their attempt to defeat the health care bill (whatever the merits of the bill, by the way).
Comment by dullhammer
I am flabbergasted at the thinking of that so-called ‘Diversity’ Czar. Whether he is allowed to bring his ideas to their consequences or not, the fact that he is chosen and empowered by Obama is an appalling sign of the times . . . of the times being worse than previously imagined.
The follow up discussions here on free speech and liberty are also examples of why I love this blog. Good stuff.
BTW, I am now rereading Antony Flew’s book on how he changed his mind from atheism to Deism. And hope to have a report before too long.
Comment by suek
>>The Pres. is absolutely right that some people are bearing false witness in their attempt to defeat the health care bill (whatever the merits of the bill, by the way).>>
Not so fast there…
Do you agree that the President has stated that the goal of his bill is to reduce the cost of health insurance/care so that more people can be covered?
Are you aware that he has stated that Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements will be reduces by about 20% in order to fund his programs?
Do you agree with the President that nearly 80% of health care cost is spent on the last six months of life?
Now…how can you reduce the overall cost without affecting that 80%? And how do you reduce the 80% without making decisions concerning lifesaving measures that will result in earlier death than presently occurs in similar situations? Does someone have to make those decisions? If so, why is it not accurate to call them “death panels” – because their decisions _will_ result in death for some people.
Just because the President doesn’t call them death panels doesn’t mean they aren’t. Just because HHS secretary doesn’t want to call our conflict in Afghanistan a “war on terror”, doesn’t mean it isn’t.
“A rose by any other name still smells the same”.
Comment by Phil
The Pres. is absolutely right that some people are bearing false witness in their attempt to defeat the health care bill (whatever the merits of the bill, by the way).
I’m going to find that quote of Obama’s and follow it with precisely what I think of his invocation of Christian virtue.