If liberals can’t compete in the free market, they turn to the government to make it “fair” for them. For instance, liberal talk radio sucks. I say that because I’ve listened to far too much of it, and it sucks. But that’s not just my opinion, since the marketplace has also said that liberal talk radio sucks. You can see this in the way Air America Radio has failed to succeed. So, having failed in the free market, liberals predictably turn to the government to fix it for them. And when it comes to radio, the method liberals seem to like most is the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine, as reported on TheHill:

“It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

The Fairness Doctrine, which the FCC discarded in 1985, required broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on controversial political issues. Prior to 1985, government regulations called for broadcasters to “make reasonable judgments in good faith” on how to present multiple viewpoints on controversial issues.

Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she planned to “look at the legal and constitutional aspects of” reviving the Fairness Doctrine.

“I believe very strongly that the airwaves are public and people use these airwaves for profit,” she said. “But there is a responsibility to see that both sides and not just one side of the big public questions of debate of the day are aired and are aired with some modicum of fairness.”

Feinstein said she is not yet ready to submit a formal proposal.

If liberals could compete in the free market, they wouldn’t need the heavy hand of government to make things “fair” for them. Liberals tell us that Americans need to “hear both sides of the story” to best make decisions, but is the public truly starved for both sides? Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing “king of talk radio,” has about 550 radio stations broadcasting him, while the left-wing NPR has about 720. If we look at TV networks, Fox News leans middle to right, and ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN lean middle to left.

Here’s how to answer Senator Feinstein and anyone else pondering whether the Fairness Doctrine needs to return — send them a copy of the First Amendment and ask them what part of “Congress shall make no law” they have a hard time understanding.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [emphasis mine -- CM]

The immigration amnesty bill is dead, but like a zombie, its corpse is still twitching, and folks in Washington D.C. are still very interested in it. I wouldn’t mind if they wanted the zombie to be part of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance team, or as a shuffle-on role in the next zombie flick, but the powers that be in Washington want to make this zombie immigration bill become law.

Somebody shoot this zombie in the head, please! Then drive a stake in its heart. Wait, that’s vampires. Oh, who cares? I don’t want this bill to be mostly dead, I want to see it become all dead.

Sadly, there are Republicans who like the zombie bill, and who are excited to make it happen. President Bush is in the forefront of those who favor the bill, and President Bush is wrong to do so. America doesn’t need illegal immigration reform; it needs border security. Border security is a gushing arterial wound, while immigration reform is but a splinter in the finger. Common sense says you treat the life-threatening wound before the splinter. But I’m afraid that there is something either in the water or the air of Washington D.C. that leeches the common sense right out of the people there. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a zombie leech that goes for the brains.

A zombie leech would explain some of the incredibly stupid things being said in Washington. Here is one burst of flatulence as reported in the New York Times:

The Republican whip, Trent Lott of Mississippi, who supports the [immigration] bill, said: “Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.”

Problem? PROBLEM?!? What the hell are you talking about, Senator? It’s true talk radio is overwhelmingly conservative, so what is Senator Lott doing, saying stuff like that and angering his Republican base? Smooth move, Senator. But his statement is so wrong. If talk radio really ran America, the Democrats would never have taken over Congress. To bring his comment into the 21st century, Senator Lott might instead have said, “Blogs are running America. We have to deal with that problem.” That statement would be just as ripe a raspberry to his conservative base.

To put it simply, talk radio and blogs are forums for ideas, and it may very well be the revitalized marketplace of ideas that is Senator Lott’s problem. It’s so much easier for the governing elites when the huddled masses just shut up and let their betters go about their oh-so-important work. It’s pretty clear that the howls of outrage over the immigration bill from the huddled masses caught Washington D.C. by surprise, both Republican and Democrat. They wanted the bill to be a fait accompli, but talk radio hosts and listeners didn’t like this closed-door-crafted bill, so they — horror of horrors! — talked about it. And talk radio agreed: a loud fart crafted behind closed doors is just as stinky.

I have supported President Bush in many parts of his Presidency, but he is wrong about immigration. This is a strange blind spot for him to display, since he has otherwise had a remarkably clear grasp of America’s security needs. The New York Times quotes President Bush and shows his disconnect on this issue:

Mr. Bush said the $4.4 billion [for border security] would “come from the fines and penalties that we collect from those who have come to our country illegally” and apply for legal status.

Representative Duncan Hunter of California, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, scorned such linkage.

“The idea that we will have border security only if it’s paid for by illegal immigrants is unacceptable,” Mr. Hunter said.

Judging just from that exchange of ideas, it is clear that Rep. Hunter gets it, and President Bush doesn’t. If the Republican leadership continues to champion a badly-created bill, they will succeed in continuing to piss off their conservative base and losing more elections.

Or they could be successful in passing the bill. In which case, they will have successfully pissed off their base, and installed a rotten zombie of a bill as law. Zombies are notoriously bad border security guards or immigration officers. It’s hard to hunt down the bad guys when all you can muster is a lurch, or maybe a choreographed shuffle.

Air America Radio is dead. Long live Air America Radio! The big news today is a mixture of good and bad for Air America Radio. The Washington Times reports that it has been rescued from bankruptcy, but it is losing its big-name talent, Al Franken:

Air America Radio was rescued from bankruptcy yesterday, but still faces the impending loss of Al Franken, its most popular talker.

The liberal network will be sold to Stephen Green, a Manhattan real estate investment mogul with heavy Democratic ties, including his brother Mark Green, who ran for mayor against Michael R. Bloomberg in 2001. The sale of the network — deemed a “personal investment” by the two brothers — will be completed in mid-February for an undisclosed sum.

Mr. Green is intent on bringing solvency to Air America, which has been troubled by flagging ratings, cash deficits and management turmoil since it was founded almost three years ago as a foil to popular conservative talk radio.

The network was often called “Err America” by critics.

“In the long run, content is king,” said Mr. Green, vowing to stabilize the network’s finances, beef up the talent roster and extend the Air America “brand” into other marketing or broadcast opportunities. The network’s weekly audience has been stuck at just under 2 million since the beginning — about one-tenth the number of listeners who tune in each week to conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.

Al Franken’s replacement will be Thom Hartmann. Yeah, I said “Thom who?” But according to his webpage, Thom’s show has better ratings in Seattle than Rush Limbaugh. Now the challenge comes in matching or beating Limbaugh’s ratings across the U.S., and cannily competing with the many other successful conservative talk radio shows. Based on past performance, that will be a very difficult task.

I have listened to the local Air America radio station, and it is going markedly downhill. Two of the local radio hosts have left the show, and their replacements have been either lackluster or canned shows from elsewhere. I have listened to Air America Radio on the way to and from work, and I have written about my reactions before. I figured I was bravely investigating something that hardly anyone else was listening to, but I can’t stand listening to the local Air America radio station any more. I don’t like the attempted humor of the canned afternoon show, and the local morning show is dry and boring. I wish them the best of luck in their business, but I don’t hold out much hope that the new Air America will be a booming venture, even in this liberal city where hippies go to die.

If Air America Radio, and liberal radio in general, were able to compete well against conservative talk radio, it would do so. But three years and many millions of dollars and man-hours later, we see that it can’t compete. That is why I predict we will hear more people calling for a return to the Fairness Doctrine, the First Amendment’s protection of free speech notwithstanding. Assuming that the Fairness Doctrine isn’t implemented, liberal talk radio will continue to do lackluster business. The question is whether the Brothers Green will acknowledge that the free market just doesn’t like liberal talk radio much — or will they continue in the fantasy that just a little more money would really see it take off?

If so, they’re very typical of the liberal mindset.

UPDATE (2/7/2007 12:28:30 PM): The Smoking Gun website has reported that the buying price for Air America Radio was $4.25 million. Yep. The free market really supports liberal talk radio.