July 8, 2005

Buy me a boombox, spare yourself these rants

With my kitchen CD player still not replaced and music radio still not improving (yeah, I know: satellite), I've found myself trepidatiously tuning in Air America hoping it's gotten better.

It hasn't. Yesterday Sam Seder took a call from a wingnut who said (paraphrasing), You see, this is why it's good that we're torturing people at Guantanamo. (actual quote), "We're dealing with a savage enemy and it calls for a savage response."

Now Seder (who seems like a nice, smart guy) started out OK by saying, If Gitmo is working, why weren't we able to prevent this? But when the wingnut deflected him ("We've prevented lots of other attacks, trust me") Seder just called the guy a moron until the guy called Seder "half a faggot," which allowed Seder to claim moral and intellectual high ground and hang up. It was not great radio.

What would have been great radio, albeit lousy actual debate, would have been to ask the guy point blank, "Are you calling our president a liar?" I mean, the wingnut was defending a policy -- saying it was absolutely necessary -- that Bush and his cronies have adamantly insisted is not taking place. Members of the administration have testified before Congress that there is no policy condoning abuse at Guantanamo, and that detainees are being treated according to the Geneva Conventions (even though they don't have to be, according to Bushism). Yeah, nobody believes this, but I'd love to have heard the wingnut who dares call into Air America being forced to say that either Bush is lying to America or he's weak on terrorists. That would have killed.

Once he hung up, Seder could have brought up any number of things from Jane Mayer's amazing, super-scary article about medicalized torture at Gitmo in this week's New Yorker. Though I can't say I'm surprised that the military is reverse-engineering its torture survival tactics (indeed, I suspect that was part of the plan from day one), I did come away from this story with one idea I hadn't thought of before: Why is it that the left is accused of "moral relativism" when it's the right that is rushing to abandon ancient, universal codes -- the Hippocratic Oath, the condemnation of torture in general -- because "the situation has changed"?

Posted by Daniel Radosh


How exactly does one qualify as "half a faggot"? Because I've got a lot of spare time I need to fill on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights...

I agree that Seder didn't handle that caller very
well. I heard it too. But I wouldn't dismiss the
entire network -- or even Seder -- over one call!
Arguing with a wingnut is nigh impossible -- a moving target -- and the perfect "comeback" doesn't
exist when arguing with someone who is
hellbent on name-calling and fact-avoidance.

Air America's biggest problems are those god-awful
commercials. But I've heard some good things on there, and Sam Seder is often among the best on
the network. "The Majority Report" and "The Randi Rhodes Show" are among the only shows in all of
radio or TV that still question Bush's legitimacy
after the nastiness of the 2004 election, for example.

Give Air America a chance, but switch over to NPR
or WFMU during the commercials.

Most of the AA shows could benefit from some discipline and/or heavy editing. It gets tiresome hearing an unfunny theme song played prior to every guest's appearance on the Al Franken show, or Franken interrupting said guest in order to repeat a lame bit of schtick for the millionth time. Seder is usually not bad, but there's nothing less entertaining than listening to him argue interminably with Janeane Garofalo over a ill-timed sound effect or mispronounced word. There are more professional college radio shows. And the less said about Garofalo's preaching-to-the-converted rants the better.

After hearing Joe Conason eviscerate poor Ed Klein on Franken's show a couple of weeks ago I'm convinced he should get a show of his own.

There's a good reason why people have stopped questioning Bush's legitmacy: It's a complete waste of time. Why not focus on things that we might actually be able to do something about?

The Presidential election has been gamed the
past two times. Presumably, we will have a other elections in the future. It's only
a waste of time to talk about the past two times
if you plan to give up the prospect of electoral
change in the future. That's something I'd like
to "do something about."

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