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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Welcome to the Corporate States of America
Posted by Jill | 9:06 PM
It shouldn't surprise us, really. The only thing that the Roberts Court's decision today that a giant multinational corporation is EXACTLY THE SAME as a guy who gets up in the morning, drives to a job, pays a mortgage, and coaches youth soccer does is codify into law what I've known for quite some time: that our government is entirely bought and paid for by corporations.

The Democrats used to keep it hidden by their rhetoric about being for working people. They'd talk a good game, but when push came to shove, they'd be under the table like a mangy dog settling for the scraps left over after the Republicans finished gorging themselves. But I think we've seen now in the Harry Reid Senate that the Democrats are just as bought and paid for as the Republicans. The only difference is that they finally raised their price. Now they want the same huge wads of cash as the Republicans get.

And this year another 45,000 people will die because they do not have access to health care. Hundreds of thousands will lose their homes. Children will have respiratory problems from factories belching out the products of coal combustion. They will die from E Coli infections from their hamburgers and tainted baby formula and glass shards in the bologna. Wars will be sold during commercial breaks on American Idol, presented as if they were video games. And any of the 100 Senators and 435 Representatives, and the President and Vice-President, who dares defy the will of the corporations who now own our country, will be run out of office. Because the frazzled moms and dads packing the kids' lunch while watching the Today show won't hear about the mine sludge that's contaminating their kids' playground. All they'll hear about is how Congressman so-and-so wants to eliminate jobs in their community -- in ads paid for by the very mining company that's poisoning them.

We got stuck with George W. Bush in 2000. It was important in 2004 to replace him for just this reason -- and we didn't.

For a few moments in January 2009, we were able to fool ourselves that the Republic had somehow weathered the storm. Today, with feckless Democrats led by President Hope and Change scrambling away from their signature issue as fast as their little cockroach legs can carry them, now that an obscure state Senator whom I've seen more of because of a 20-year-old magazine spread than I ever want to see, gets them off the hook from having to actually do anything.

I don't even need to go into the Republicans. I have over 7000 posts in this blog documenting their folly.

Now the corporations run everything, and there isn't any way to delude ourselves anymore. And if you think there's any hope at all for living in the free nation you thought you did instead of a corporatocracy, Keith Olbermann's special comment tonight will straighten you out quickly:

A side note: Tonight as I was driving home from work, I was listening to that paid-for whore Mara Liasson talking on WNYC (that's NPR, yes, supposedly "liberal" NPR, that is also bought and paid for by corporations) about how this decision "evens the playing field for Republicans" -- as if the airwaves weren't already full of Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck and Laura Ingraham and the Fox Morning Idiots and Monica Crowley and Neal Boortz and Michael Medved and Mark Levin and Michael the Savage Weiner and on and on and on; choosing instead to imagine a world in which two hours of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, and Randi Rhodes broadcasting on maybe five low-power stations in the entire country somehow dominate public discourse. I hit buttons on the radio, getting a traffic report here, an observance about the Jets' chances this weekend by Mike Francesa there, and for some strange reason, a rerun of Ron Reagan's show that seemed to be from last Friday. It seemed odd to me, and when I got home I found out why this was:
It is with the greatest regret, on behalf of our Board, that we must announce that Air America Media is ceasing its live programming operations as of this afternoon, and that the Company will file soon under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code to carry out an orderly winding-down of the business.

The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America's business. This past year has seen a "perfect storm" in the media industry generally. National and local advertising revenues have fallen drastically, causing many media companies nationwide to fold or seek bankruptcy protection. From large to small, recent bankruptcies like Citadel Broadcasting and closures like that of the industry's long-time trade publication Radio and Records have signaled that these are very difficult and rapidly changing times.

Those companies that remain are facing audience fragmentation as a result of new media technologies, are often saddled with crushing debt, and have generally found it difficult to obtain operating or investment capital from traditional sources of funding. In this climate, our painstaking search for new investors has come close several times right up into this week, but ultimately fell short of success.

With radio industry ad revenues down for 10 consecutive quarters, and reportedly off 21% in 2009, signs of improvement have consisted of hoping things will be less bad. And though Internet/new media revenues are projected to grow, our expanding online efforts face the same monetization and profitability challenges in the short term confronting the Web operations of most media companies

When Air America Radio launched in April, 2004 with already-known personalities like Al Franken and then-unknown future stars like Rachel Maddow, it was the only full-time progressive voice in the mainstream broadcast media world. At a critical time in our nation's history — when dissent on issues such as the Iraq war were often denounced as "un-American" — Air America and its talented team helped millions of Americans remember the importance of compelling discussion about the most pivotal events and decisions of our generation.

Through some 100 radio outlets nationwide, Air America helped build a new sense of purpose and determination among American progressives. With this revival, the progressive movement made major gains in the 2006 mid-term elections and, more recently, in the election of President Barack Obama and a strongly Democratic Congress.

Laws have changed for the better thanks to this revival.....but all the same our company cannot escape the laws of economics. So we intend a rapid, orderly closure over the next few days. All current employees will be paid through today, January 21. A severance package will be offered tomorrow to full-time current employees with more than six months of tenure.

We will strive to assist affiliates and partners in achieving a smooth transition. Starting at 6 pm EST today, we will provide our affiliates, listeners and users a selection of encore programming until 9 pm EST on Monday, January 25, at which time Air America programming will end.

It isn't as if watching the dusty bones of what used to be something fresh and interesting and loaded with potential blow away in a cold winter wind is such a huge loss, not after the way a series of management teams, each one worse than the one before, treated their on-air talent -- people like Sam Seder and Marc Maron, who sweated bullets for that organization and were tossed aside like candy wrappers. But coming the same day as the Supreme Court of the United States handed the country over to Archer-Daniels-Midland and Capital One and News Corp. and McDonald's and Xe and Halliburton and Raytheon and Wellpoint; and the same day as Nancy Pelosi essentially threw in the towel on health care reform because Harry Reid is terrified to let the Republicans filibuster, it just feels like the final nail in the coffin of what once was America.

Right now I find myself wondering what to do about this blog. I've been at this for over five-and-a-half years. We're within spitting distance of a million page views over that time. Because of this blog, and other online writing ventures I've had, I've been fortunate to meet some of the most amazing friends I've ever had in my life. For a long time I had a job where I really wasn't all that busy. I could leave the house at quarter to nine and I was always home by six, after an easy 20-minute ride on scenic back roads. Now I have a job where I'm out of the house sometimes as early as 6 AM, and most nights I'm not home till 6:30. I have a tremendous workload, and spend most of my evenings and often a good part of my weekends doing work for this job. I like the job. My boss is great, I have wonderful co-workers, and the work itself is interesting. But what little life I have is largely spent on this blog. In short, I'm really, really tired.

I started this blog in July 2004 because if I didn't talk about what had me outraged all the time I would go insane. I also started it so that people in my family would know what was going on in the world that wasn't being reported in the mainstream media. And maybe I need to keep it going just for that. But there's a part of me that looks at my messy, cluttered house and thinks, maybe I need to change my priorities, even if only for a little while. When I used to write movie reviews, i dreamt of a day when someone might pay me to do it; a day when being a film critic was my job. When I started this blog, I thought perhaps my ultimate future would be writing for pay. I came sort of close to it after I was laid off in 2008, when I interviewed for an editor/contributor job for a progressive online magazine. Nothing was going on with that for a while, and I got the offer for my current job, and the rest is history.

I think we all would like to believe that we're making a difference. But after five and a half years of writing, not one of my nonpolitical friends is paying one iota more attention than they did before, and they're all just as susceptible to a media that regards Sarah Palin as a serious presidential candidate and that gives birthers equal time with sane people as they ever were.

I just feel that it's over, and there's no point putting any energy into trying to change things anymore.

Maybe I'll feel different in the morning.

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Blogger skywind said...
Outrage fatigue--it gets all of us occasionally. You have to do what you have to do--take care of yourself, take a break, whatever. I just want to let you know your blog is the first thing I read in the morning. When I was looking for the link to donate to Doctors Without Borders, I knew I could find it on your site. You make a difference.

Blogger O~ said...
Do you feel differently this morning? I don't - but I do hope you'll stick around. I don't feel as crazy when I visit which is often - I understand tired and discouraged though... have you thought about knitting? :)

Blogger Bartender Cabbie said...
I only very rarely agree with anything written here but I do enjoy reading your work. Please try to find some time to continue.

Blogger Distributorcap said...
i so agree with you. i feel we are really losing - and why am i bothering?

i dont know what to do

Anonymous archcrone said...
I do, soooo, understand. Outrage-fatigue has gotten the better of me, and I have found a different sort of outlet that lets me forget about the politics of the day for a few hours. I have to say, this has been my longest outrage-fatigue hiatus since 2004, even though I do post on my blog occasionally (maybe 1 or 2 times a month).

You have to do what is best for you, and sometimes that takes some experimenting.