Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Short Observations About Liberal Talk Radio

Well I was going to go to my favorite Irish bar and do taxes, but I forgot that today is St. Patrick's Day and there was no way I was going to get any work done, so allow me this short post.

I can't listen to right wing talk radio any more because

1. I can finish their sentences.
2. I already know everything they're going to say.
3. It's really depressing.

So, for the past month I've been listening to Air America (which I thought was going bankrupt, but apparently they are still on the air). It's really had to listen before you turn it off or change the station, but after a month, I've come up with some observations about liberal talk radio that are not biased, but just simple observations.

1. They are reactionary to right wing talk radio.

I would say the most prominent thing you notice about liberal talk radio is how about 35% of their show is responding to right wing talk radio. You can't listen for more than 4 minutes before you hear "Glenn Beck" or "Rush Limbaugh" of course referred to in the pejorative. It shows me that their entire existence was founded in countering right-wing talk radio. The problem is this doesn't really pioneer any new lines of thought. It's just them bashing on right wing radio. Not once have I heard Rush or Glenn or Sean utter, "Nick Schultz" or "Mark Malloy." Ergo, right wing talk radio is established unto itself, while left wing talk radio is merely reactionary. There was no real ideological reason for it except to debunk or besmirch right wing talk radio. It's almost like a shell corporation, no real purpose to it.

2. No "Linking" "Domino" or "Cause and Effect" Thinking

To varying degrees all right wing talk show hosts carry through their lines of thought to a logical conclusion or result. Dennis Prager in particular is good at this, but regardless, ALL right wing talk show hosts do a "Cause and effect" analysis of policy, statements, economics, etc. Their left wing counterparts do NONE of this. And it's frustrating because half the reason I started listening was to understand the rationale or reasoning behind the socialist ideology. But since there is no explanation or linking all you get is talking points or stances. For example their arguments are really no more complex than "Oh, those partisan Republicans are trying stop health care because they're rich." No consideration is given to maybe the procedure or the constitution or the real reason "why" Republicans (as well as some democrats) are against the health care bill. It's just "they're rich, they're in bed with the insurance industry" and that is as deep as they get. In other words, even though the hosts are well into their 50's, it's no deeper than having a conversation with a 20 year old theater major.

3. Hate speech

This was the most shocking one of all. Mark Malloy, if you haven't listened to him, puts to rest the notion the right wing of politics in America is the source of hate. He has threatened to kick Glenn Beck's ass more than once, you can't go 10 minutes with out him calling the Republican's nazis and cursing up a storm (amazing the FCC doesn't shut him down) and wishing them essentially death. You think I'm joking? Listen in yourself.

At least when Rush or Glenn or even myself was broadcasting, our ideas were for the overall good of the nation. Balancing the budget, getting the economy going, fighting terrorism, stopping illegal immigration. But this guy just abandons any intellectual honesty and views all conservatives and republicans as nazis no matter what you say or do. You are the enemy to him and forget being Americans, you need to be taken out of the gene pool.

4. Presumption of Premises

When callers call in, there is a whole host of premises and assumptions leftists make that they just take for granted. For example George Bush is to blame for everything. Economy, war on terror, the terrorist attacks themselves. There's no discussion of it. It's just a given Bush caused this all when an intellectually honest person would maybe suggest 100 million Americans spending more than they made was the cause of the recession.

But Bush aside, simple childlike assumptions are the bedrock of their ideology. "Rich people need to be punished." The insurance companies are out to get you. Mark Malloy even cited that some CEO at one of the largest insurance companies in the US made something like $37 million over the past 3 years. Well....yeah, that's about right. By the same logic he should LOATHE professional sports, which he might, but you never hear about it. The overall point is that you can't listen to any intellectual discussion, not matter how intelligent or insightful the people are on liberal talk radio, because they're operating from false premises and thus the entire conversation is worthless.

5. Absolute Ignorance, Pushing Cluelessness, About Economics

Perhaps what gets me to turn to another station so quickly is when I hear them spout off some statistic I know to be completely wrong or just statistically impossible. They have no clue just how much spending Barack Obama has committed the US to, but it's not that they care, they literally think there's $100 trillion in GDP to tax. If you ask them, EVEN THE RADIO SHOW HOSTS, how big the government budget is relative to GDP, or just how much in GDP we produce, I don't think they could answer correctly.

Worse still is the borderline indifference about what the economic ramifications are to implementing higher taxes, higher spending, nationalization of industries, etc. They don't seem to understand that the government gets its money from the private sector. They don't seem to realize that the government needs the private sector and not vice versa. The impression I am LITERALLY getting from them is they think the "economy" is this big, amorphous blog including the government and basically, "stuff comes from it." No concept of taxation, no concept of the Laffer Curve, no concept of income statements or balance sheets. Just, "there's the economy and we get money from it and rich people control it and they suck."

In any case, if you have the time I DO recommend tuning into liberal talk radio and I would love to hear your observations. I just can't listen for more than 10 minutes at a time because it's like listening to 10 year olds trying to explain why they don't like having to work. You don't learn anything and it gets repetitive.


Milton Hayek said...

I feel the same way about leftists. I often want their opinion on something, or get their view on why they favor this or that policy, but all of their online forums are blocked off and if you go to Yahoo Answers or something you just start a stupid flame war and never get an answer to your question. I'd like to be able to get some leftists, and ask them questions like "why do you believe this, have you heard of that, etc." Not to debate, just to understand.

I find that the only left-of-center people who even attempt to actually reason (this is the real world version of reasoning, with empirical data and if/then/or logic and the like, not the Noam Chomsky/Michael Moore version of reasoning) are economists like Larry Summers and Robert Solow, and even then I often disagree with them.

Which brings me to a point about those guys, many left-wing economists hold views that they themselves know do not make economic sense. Alan Blinder knows minimum wage laws contribute to unemployment, especially among minorities, and yet he favors such laws because he believes that society should send a message that it won't let anybody work for less than a certain amount, and Solow admits that the logic behind school vouchers is impeccable, yet he favors the public school system because "it made me what I am today," so you can see that even these guys will reach a point where they turn reason and facts off and coast on emotion.

I'm embarrassed to have spent so much time talking about reason and logic, since 99% of the time when a person is talking about how they value reason and logic and "critical thinking" they practice none of them--they simply mean "I treat my assumptions as axioms and I get my facts from as wide an array of left-wing sources as possible."

Bill Gilles said...

I tried this with magazines once. I stumbled upon a Reason subscription that did a good job of challenging some of my "Republican' orthodoxies. I found this helpful since many 'Republican' ideas are based on populism (to get votes) rather than grounded in intellectual extensions of freedom and liberty. But Reason clearly comes from 'the right' and I wanted to experiment with ideas from 'the left'.

At the time, Mother Jones advertised in Reason - so I took a flyer with a one year subscription - and basically came to the same conclusions as you did listening to MN Air America (which is separately owned and operated from the bankrupted national version). It was absolutely vapid, grounded in conspiracy or less, and in no way engaged in the 'why' of things. It was a complete disappointment.

Since then I've been told I should read The Nation and a few other DENSE mags and newsletters in order to get real intellectual arguments from liberals. I gave up that experiment in a hurry. Essentially it was un-readable academia grad thesis re-prints stuffed with jargon.

CBMTTek said...

"Rich people need to be punished."

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

The difference between the liberal and the conservative when it comes to their reaction to success is the conservative will see a successful person and think "how did they do it, and what can I do to be there as well."

Whereas the liberal sees a successful person and thinks "They got a bunch of lucky breaks, and I deserve to be as well off as they are. I will demonize them, and get the Gov't to take their money away from them."

Elizabeth said...

I tried this with Alternet and Air America. Unfortunately, I had the same experience and results as you.

GW South said...

I dated a girl Sophomore year who was Liberal, and I wish I had done a better job holding onto her, because she remains the only one I've met who can give me numbers and why she believes what she did. Unfortunately I thought this was commonplace, and broke up with her after a year. Still mad about that.

Meanwhile, the girl I dated after her, while still a smart girl, is for healthcare because "It will make the insurance companies lower their prices". She works at the DSCC by the way. I could not make her understand that healthcare companies don't raise healthcosts - they are just the middle man moderating the exchange for a fee. Government regulation is what raises prices.

It's dumbfounding.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie Miller is genuinely funny... not to mention hot.

Mark L said...

I had the same reaction to right wing talk radio as you did -- it seemed a waste of time listening because I already agreed with what was being said, and I was not learning anything new from it. It was also depressing and raised my blood pressure, again, not because I disagreed with what was being said, but because I realized the predictions were probably right.

I could not listen to left-wing radio because . . . well . . . because all of your observations about it were spot on. I now get books on tape/books on disk and listen to those going to and from work. Lowers my bp and gives me something interesting to listen to. It's great for books I have always meant to read, but lacked time to read. And I get most of the audio books at my local public library, so it is cost-effective, too.

Dave said...

If anyone wants to have a real good time, try to participate in a discussion on Articles or links you submit, as well as, your post are rated by the "community" for karma points. Response times (how many responses you can give) is restricted to karma points. Needless to say, I can only respond every 8-9 minutes. I attempted to explain that it is censorship, but the arguments were that no one wanted to hear what I had to say. They all think they are so informed and intelligent, but many come off as being spoiled college students.

GW South said...

I just saw a commercial I have to submit that explains the liberal psychology. We all know here, at Captain Capitalism, that the economy is not a zero sum game. The economy can improve so that multiple people win, and that society will win overall.

However, I see these health care commercials that prove that liberals do not understand that the economy on the whole is non-zero sum. Of course, we know that countries such as France do not understand this, otherwise they would not introduce reforms such as '35 hour work weeks', that operate under the assumption that their is a set amount of employment in the country.

But really, these pro-health care groups DON'T GET IT. Their entire message is 'If the insurance companies win, you lose'. I'm willing to discount hyperbole, but really. This statement reveals their total lack of understanding on how Economics works.

Economics is not zero sum. I know Cappy Cap doesn't make money off this site, but lets say he did and I paid $5 a month to view it. From my hypothetical viewership fee, Cappy derives $5 of benefit. I would derive more than $5 of benefit from viewing his posts - otherwise I would not pay to view his site. Liberals do not understand the basic premise that if two people don't both derive benefit from a transaction, they will not engage in it.

Sorry for the rant, but it truly bothers me. If both don't mutually benefit from a transaction, THE TRANSACTION WON'T HAPPEN. DON'T YOU GET IT?!?!

ward said...


Your observations apply to modern day Liberalism, - lefty talk radio is just a distillation of it.

Modern Liberalsim is simply anti- conservatism.

If you string together conservative values they all work together to form a coherent ideoligical framework

Pro Family
Anti Drug use
Pro Marriage
Small Government
Personal Accountability
Personal Responsibility
Pro Christian
support military
anti abortion
anti special interest groups

just to name a few

the modern left promotes policies that break down the family, or eradicate it

change the very definition of marriage as to destroy the meaning and very institution

promote and glamorize drug use and attempt to legalize thier usage

advocate for bigger more intrusive government control (except for the military)

strip individuals of the ability to protect themselves

promote victimhood rather than independence

I could go on and on but its hard to think of anything the modern left stands for that is simply not reactionary anti conservatism.

Modern liberalsim simply has no foundation to build upon.

Hot Sam said...

Listening to liberal talk radio to figure out how they think is like observing chickens to figure out how they fly.

Ed Kohler said...

Great post. Talk radio in general is quite formulaic. People seem to like the familiarity of hearing the same concepts day after day from a charismatic host.

The left reacting to the right is an interesting perspective. There is definitely a lot of that, although a ton of time is devoted to the news of the day out of state or national politics rather than right-wing digested perspectives on those stories.

Malloy is out there, but so is Michael Savage.

Perhaps it's creating an underdog mentality that works for talk radio? Right wing sees itself as an underdog in a fight against big government while the left wing talkers see themselves as underdogs to right-wing talkers.

Hot Sam said...

For once I agree with you Ed. Talk radio in general relies on the need of people to validate their own opinions or to enrage themselves against opposite opinions. It's an emotional stimulant. On the other hand, there are venues outside of talk radio which accomplish the same end.

Which entity poses a greater threat to our liberty, "Big government" or right-wing talk radio?

The former possesses REAL power over laws, taxation, and expenditures. The latter possesses only indirect influence over voting, but they are largely preaching to the choir.

Of course, this is because democrats are in power now. They might have something more substantive to say next January. Left-wing talk radio can complain about the right-wingers on the Supreme Court or the few Senators who harangue democrats and threaten filibuster. The rest is just complaining about the complainers - who finds that interesting?

But if there is gridlock in DC, it's not because of Republicans. As has been noted many times, the democrats could have walked over the Republicans on any piece of legislation up until Scott Brown's election. Dissent among members of their own party is (and always has been) the reason for their ineffectiveness. Remember Clinton's failures to pass a paltry $16 billion stimulus, health care, etc?

The democrat party is a hodgepodge coalition of numerous minority interest groups, none of which would have any influence if their propositions were voted for on their own merits. They all HATE each other and wrestle for their turn at the teats of government.

What does an auto worker in Michigan have in common with a homosexual in San Francisco or an elderly woman in Ft. Myers or a black man in Birmingham? Woe to the party whose only unity is derived from a common demand for entitlements paid for by others. Woe to the country which puts the panderers to these people in power.

Ed Kohler said...

Interesting take, Nick. I think that may explain why left-wing talk did better under GWB. During that time, they were more focused on being anti-big government, by opposing government's intrusion into people's personal lives, wasteful spending on a war that didn't need to be fought, and energy policies constructed by friends of Cheney with no public input.

While the Dems are certainly a divided party, I don't see how that's unique to the Dems. Last I checked, the GOP had to balance the interests of libertarians who want less government (leaving for Ron Paul), Christian conservatives who want more government (social policy), fiscally conservative gay people, and racists. Then you have single issue voters to consider such as gun enthusiasts and pro-lifers. That's not an easy group to bring together at a national level either.

It will be interesting to see what the shake-out is on the health care bill. There are a lot of republicans who are going to benefit from this over time, who just watched their party get whipped into near-violent opposition to a bill that attempts to make them healthier.

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Ivan Vendrov said...

I just started reading your blog and find myself agreeing with many ideas you express here. Nevertheless I consider myself a Liberal, and as a Canadian I believe that universal, free health care is, if not a fundamental human right, then the right of any citizen of a civilized and progressive society.

I agree with your observations about Liberal talk radio, but I would argue Conservatives do the same thing - without the snobbery. That is, where Liberals (HUGE generalization) will say that people like Glenn Beck are liars and idiots and won't even bother providing evidence, almost like it's understood. Conservative talk hosts like Beck or Limbaugh will provide evidence, largely in the form of slogans and empty words such as "socialist" and "tsar", to name the ones I've heard most frequently. Out of the two I'd say I'm more sympathetic to Conservatives, yet oppose them in ideology.

In response to Ward:
"Pro Family
Anti Drug use
Pro Marriage
Small Government
Personal Accountability
Personal Responsibility
Pro Christian
support military
anti abortion
anti special interest groups"

Are in NO way a coherent ideology. How do you draw parallels between small government and Christianity? Between family and abortion?

And that's just the non sequiturs. What about the contradictions?
Christianity and military support are contradictory yet both endorsed by Conservatives. Small government is incompatible with anti-abortion and drug use, because anti-abortion and drug policy implies government intervention and policing of the private actions of individuals.

My view is - neither Liberals nor Conservatives are reactionary. At the core of Liberalism is progress; we believe that society is always flawed and changes must be made to it, led by a large elected government.

The Conservative idea is that of stability; current values must be preserved, and government must only serve to upkeep what already exists rather than lead the country in radical new directions.

What I see as a problem in US politics is that it has ceased to be a conflict of idealogy and became a conflict of affiliation - you have Left Wing and you have Right Wing and each has a inconsistent platform on a wide array of social issues. We don't elect people because we trust them personally to represent us and protect us, but because they are blue and we are blue, or because they are red and we are red.

For instance, I consider myself a Liberal, but here are my stances on various issues:

Yes to Family
Resounding no to drugs
Big Government
Balance between social and personal accountability drawn at basic standard of living (adequate nutrition, health-care, education)
Pro Christian
anti-special interest groups

To me that is consistent - I believe in human life and liberty above all else, and I believe a progressive government is best for a democratic society. I believe in Christianity as the foundation of democracy and Western values, but I see its adoption as an individual choice.