Tea Parties, Fraud, and the BP Fund: Something in Sacramento's Water?

June 28, 2010

   Just days after resigning as Chairman of the Tea Party ExpressMark Williams, former KFBK radio talk show host, began encouraging people to file claims for the BP fund
which is being set up to provide financial assistance to those damaged by the Gulf oil spill.  He's not just encouraging residents of the Gulf or those who do business with Gulf Coast fisheries to file claims;  he is encouraging everyone in the country to file a claim against BP, and brags about having done so himself. 

    Williams asserts on his blog, MarkTalk.com, that in so filing, people are not stealing.  He writes,"You are only recouping some of your own money  that the Obama regime is
stealing from you to redistribute," and he cites fund administrator Ken Feinberg as telling people “we should '...all file a claim…' because specific criteria for valid claims has not yet been set."

     He further writes, "Let’s show the Marxists who occupy our government and their flying monkey supporters what life under socialism is really like when the productive stop producing and join the gravy train."

     So let me see if I get this right:  A multinational corporation drilling off our shore in international water causes a disastrous oil spill which imperils not only wildlife, but the opportunity for Gulf residents to earn a living.  The President of the U.S. puts political pressure on said oil company to pay not just for clean up, but for compensation for loss of business opportunity. 

     The BP fund, according to a conversation I had with Mr. Feinberg's office today, "is paid entirely by BP."  Even the administration of the fund is paid by the private corporation which caused the spill.  "There are no merits to the claim that U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill."

    So how can Williams in any way call the BP fund "socialism?" 

     There is one federal government agency which will likely use taxpayer dollars.  Again, according to Feinberg's office, "As with the 9/11 fund," (which Feinberg also administered,) "Mr. Feinberg will be working with the US Department of Justice Fraud Division to ensure there is no fraud in the fund."

     So in other words, it is Mark Williams who, by knowingly promoting ineligible people to apply for BP money, is costing taxpayers untold dollars to ferret out fraud.  So much for "conservative" fiscal responsibility.   And oh, yes, so much for a "conservative" talk show host
getting facts straight. 

     Funny, too, that Williams uses the tag line, "It's Not Right vs Left, It's Right vs Wrong."  Readers will have to make their own judgment about that.

     It's interesting to note that the state capital of California somehow launches national Right Wing voices.  Williams, Rush Limbaugh, NewsMax's and WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah, and the Tea Party Express all hail from Sacramento.  Must be something in the water, and not just in the Gulf.

    Glad my water comes from a well.

Communications Act Redux: A Chance for the States to Unite!

 June 10, 2010


Four Democratic leaders, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, West Virginia Sen. John D. Rockefeller, Virginia  Rep. Rick Boucher, and California Rep. Henry Waxman are taking aim this month at what I like to call Public Enemy Number One:  the 1996 Telecommunications Act.   It took that Act of Congress to allow the right wing's lies and vitriol to dominate every
radio market in this country, and it will take another Act of Congress to restore facts to our public airwaves and true debate to our kitchen tables.

True, much of the coming debate will center on new media issues of who can access high speed internet, (broadband,) and who can or cannot control access to content on the web (net neutrality.)  As digital television and the internet will merge into the same thing over the next
several years, it is critical for either the FCC or Congress to build a regulatory framework now.  The FCC is facing legal hurdles over its authority to regulate the internet, so it looks like Congress is stepping in.  

But old media issues need to be addressed as well.  At an FCC media ownership hearing in Seattle in 2007, citizens bemoaned the loss of their local radio stations.  The audience jeered FCC Chairman Kevin Martin when he said the FCC had no control over radio ownership.  But Martin was correct.  Modern day radio ownership went through a seismic shift with the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and there is little the FCC can do about it.  So any rewrite of the Act needs to correct the media ownership rules which have deeply damaged our democracy, and will otherwise haunt us for many election cycles.  

When the original 1934 Communications Act was written, one person, be it individual or corporation, was allowed to own only 6 radio stations nationwide.  Those ownership rules relaxed over the years, culminating with the 1996 rewrite, which allowed one person to own as many radio stations nationwide as they could buy, and as many as eight in one radio
market.

In '96, a handful of radio companies were laying in wait for the bill to be signed.  By the time the ink from President Clinton's pen had dried, companies like Clear Channel pounced on the radio market, buying up virtually every 50,000 watt, 25,000 watt, 15,000 watt, 10,000 watt, and 5,000 watt station in the entire nation, leaving only tiny, 1,000 watt unprofitable stations to their competitors.   Those corporate persons then programmed their AM stations with a pro-corporate political agenda.  In 2004, according to a study by Free Press and the Center for American Progress, 90% of talk radio was conservative, and much of the country could not get even one minute of the opposing viewpoint on their airwaves.

Plus, the corporate giants programmed their FM stations with homogenized music designed to satisfy shareholders, not artists or listeners.  

Fourteen years later, the effects of the Act are clear:  The 1996 Telecommunications Act is the reason why Rush Limbaugh and company dominate the public airwaves and the political discussion.  It is the reason why Bill Clinton was impeached, why John Kerry was swiftboated,
why George Bush was elected and why the Tea Parties have flourished.  It is the reason why we as a nation are so polarized, why we shout at each other rather than debate with each other, and why we as a culture are growing accepting of hate radio which incites violence.  

It is why local bands can no longer get on the air, and why midwesterners can no longer get tornado alerts.  It affects the quality of our news, our information, and the health and public safety of our communities.   

It is why local people have no say over the content provided by the very radio stations licensed to serve their interest, the public interest.      

In short, the 1996 Telecommunications Act has worn away the very fabric of America.   It is time to restore discourse to the America the founding fathers envisioned.  

(Note: the swiftboating of John Kerry during the 2004 election was what inspired me to make a film on these topics for Public Interest Pictures, Broadcast Blues.  Perhaps not coincidentally, Sen. Kerry is one of the four senators leading the rewrite of the Act.)

See Broadcast Blues Today!

BROADCAST BLUES  

is now available on DVD for home screenings!  See the award winning documentary film that is sparking a national grassroots broadcast media reform movement!  (scroll down for trailer)

The corporate news media promotes President George W. Bush's obvious lies to take the country to war in Iraq, while Pentagon Pundits profit from the same war they promote. Fox News gets a court ruling that news does not have to be true. Rush Limbaugh incites violence, and Hate Radio rules.

Media Policy is the real problem. It is killing people in this country. Literally. And it is killing our democracy, too. Corporate financed lawmakers have stacked the media policy deck against We the People.

Until now. We the People are Taking the Media Back!


Learn your rights as the owners of Our Public Airwaves by watching Broadcast Blues and reading SueWilsonReports.com 
Then take real action at Media Action Center.     
  
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Thank you SO MUCH for helping restore Our Public Airwaves to their true owners, We the People. 
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"You've Got a Hit Movie!" ... Melinda Baran, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Founder