Free Speech Confounds Tim Wenger

A recent Tweet from WBEN’s operations manager / program director / director of digital content:

Good question. What does protesting and shouting slogans “do for anyone”? In February 2013 WBEN featured wall-to-wall “news” coverage of a pro-gun rally that took place in Albany to protest Governor Cuomo’s NY SAFE Act. Albany sees protests on a daily basis, but in this case WBEN sent reporters, commentators, and organized a bus charter to Albany and back for its listeners. (Here’s the photo album!) Tim Wenger was on the bus, too. But while Wenger doesn’t understand what all these people think they’ll accomplish by protesting the fact that Eric Garner’s killer won’t be brought up on criminal charges, he had a completely different opinion when it came to busing a bunch of listeners to Albany and back for a gun law that’s still on the books over a year later.

It really doesn’t matter to me or WBEN where you stand on this issue of the NY SAFE ACT.  What matters to us is that people have the passion for their beliefs and that they’ll fight within their Constitutional rights for what they think is right. .These people aboard both our buses, more than eighty strong, are working Western New Yorkers who are taking a day of their life to rally for what they believe in.  That’s what it’s all about. I’ve met every single person on the buses and all are friendly and excited, despite being a tad tired.  There is a sense of excitement aboard the buses as a group of mainly strangers who came together on the radio make a day-long trip to have their voices heard. What will happen when the rally is over and the people and buses leave?  No one knows for sure.  The hopes of those aboard the buses is that a repeal will be in the works. But when all is said and done and the last person leaves the rally and the buses arrive back home, one thing is for sure. Democracy worked and allowed a group of people passionate about an issue and their rights to be heard. Tim

But when it’s people passionate about an issue he doesn’t agree with, then WTF LOL, right?

I love the banner here.

The answer, of course, is that there’s nothing to “figure out”. Tim Wenger “can’t figure out what good protesters screaming “hands up don’t shoot” at BPD officers is doing for anyone” because he’s a Republican partisan who operates a Republican news outlet. Yelling “hands up don’t shoot” or “I can’t breathe” during a protest is as meaningful – or pointless – as a radio station sponsored bus trip to yell “Skelos is a traitor” and “Down with il Duce Cuomo” in Albany.

Oh, and this was hanging in the WBEN Newsroom:

gun rally

 

Maybe Wenger just couldn’t find sponsors to list along the bottom of a banner? Incidentally, the businesses shown there – Country Inn & Suites, Wingate by Wyndham, Thrifty Car Rental, Hampton Inn, Dollar Rent-a-Car – those are all Paladino-owned franchises of national firms. (Remember when Paladino had his people smack “Vote for the American” bumper stickers on cars rented from his franchises at the Buffalo Airport?) Do you think that the corporate bosses for the national brands know, or are supportive, of their trademarks being used so blatantly for a partisan political purpose?

Anyhow, everybody gets to shout slogans pointlessly in the cold and dark – gun huggers as well as people protesting the homicide by cop of a guy standing on a sidewalk selling loose cigarettes.

 

 

WBEN, Riding the Nativist Derp Train to Fraudville

It used to be that references to undocumented immigrants as “invaders” were reserved for the outermost fringes of the body politic. 

Stormfront. Short wave. Nazi/Racist/Neo-Confederate bulletin boards. Infowars.

Now, because of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, the right-wing freakout over “illegal” “invaders” has become commonplace. Neo-Nazi hate-speech is now mainstreamed. 

Add to that the spectacle of underemployed, underinformed, angry white folk, (whose immigrant ancestors came from somewhere), who have nothing better to do all day than to turn parts of the American desert into little clones of Afghanistan – complete with weapons and extralegal checkpoints

Not to put too fine a point on it all, but what’s going on along the US-Mexican border is unprecedented – youngsters are crossing into the US en masse and rather than running from Border Patrol in order to get further into the US, they are surrendering immediately upon arrival, just like the Cubans do under our unusually generous “dry foot” policy

(Hint: Just tell the wingnuts that these kids are from Cuba, and maybe they’ll treat them as human beings.)

Unsophisticated, poor families in places like Guatemala and Honduras – economically awful, socially violent, and politically dysfunctional places – are being tricked by human trafficking cartels to pay to send their kids to the US, where, they’re told, the kids will be able to claim asylum and stay forever.  Of course, there’s no federal “DREAM” Act, but a 2008 law requires the government to grant any kid from a non-border country an asylum hearing

These children and their families are being taken advantage of by con artists. They are the tired, the poor – the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  Tempest-tost wretched refuse, these children and their families are naive victims. Yet when they come here, our nativist right wing freaks out. Peak temper tantrum, hurling hateful invective not only at these Central American tweens, but at Obama, the liberals, and everyone else who doesn’t slap a Gadsen flag on their bumper and an eagle on their timeline. 

It is a humanitarian crisis because these children come with nothing – have nothing – and because ours is a country of laws, we are not empowered simply to shove them back on a bus across the Mexico border. We have due process.  We have laws. We have to detain them – humanely – while we process them all. That is how a 1st world country works, and that is what the law requires. 

It’s gotten to the point where any school bus filled with brown people is suspect. An Arizona state legislator running for Congress stoked the confrontation, and hatefully declared that food and shelter for a bus-full of brown-skinned children isn’t compassionate, but an “abrogation of the rule of law“. 

As it turns out, it wasn’t a bus-full of undocumented migrants, but a bus-full of Arizonan kids on their way to YMCA camp. Seriously

While the wingnuts with all that extra time on their hands accost kids on their way to the Y, other kids are dying. The border patrol is a law enforcement agency – not a refugee non-profit. The government is unprepared to deal with something like this, because of its massive scale and the unprecedented nature of what’s going on. Washington alternates between grandstanding and dithering

By treating these kids as “invaders” and an “army”, you dehumanize them as well as any World War II-era cartoon of a bespectacled, slanty-eyed Tojo. By focusing on blaming Obama rather than trying to solve a legal and humanitarian crisis, the right wing contributes not only to the further erosion of whatever was left of its Latino support, but exposes itself for the craven practitioner of racialist, nativist politics that it’s become in recent years. 

At the local forefront of this racial animus is hate radio WBEN, led by right-wing kook and operations director Tim Wenger. 

Sometime on Tuesday, this appeared at WBEN’s scat-strewn Facebook page: 

First of all, it links to “Gateway Pundit”, who is widely regarded by anyone with a brain to be one of the stupidest people in the right-wing blogosphere. Not just wrong – stupid.  Here, he links to something called “Mad World News”, which I’ve never heard of, and which certainly doesn’t seem like a completely credible source. 

Because it’s not.

I won’t link to either one, but if you go to “Mad World News”, it seems that some nosy hausfrau encountered a busload of brown-skinned people getting off a school bus at a Wal-Mart in rural North Carolina. She tried to communicate with them, but these durn Messikinz didn’t speak any English. So, she simply leaped to the conclusion that, because one of them had managed to communicate with her that they were recent arrivals to America, they must be “illegals”. Not only that, but our brave Mexican-whisperers concluded that this busload of “invaders” was paying for its Wal-Mart goodies with “EBT cards”; welfare handouts. 

Except not a word of it was true, and the tea party says so

OK, OK – yes, a busload of foreign migrant farm laborers did show up at a Wal-Mart in North Carolina, but they weren’t “illegals”, but legal guest-worker migrant farmworkers; people who had valid visas to enter the US and perform all the horrible manual farm labor that you consider to be beneath you

They weren’t paying with welfare cards. Their wages are paid to rechargeable debit cards, which they used to buy items for themselves at Wal-Mart in rural North Carolina. 

They weren’t on a government bus, but were instead being transported by their employer to the Wal-Mart for a shopping trip. 

But, you know, brown people on a bus using plastic at a Wal-Mart. Because right wingers instinctively think the worst of everyone and everything, these had to be (what else?) “illegal” “invaders” spending welfare EBT cards thanks to Obama inviting them to the US. 

So long as the tea party remains “diligent” when they really mean “vigilant”, we’ll all be a little safer and don’t forget your gun. 

Now, despite that this is completely untrue, having been factually debunked by WBEN’s own partisan allies, this radio station continues to perpetrate this fraud on Buffalo and its listenership by refusing to delete or update the post to point out that it’s a lie. Rather than be “accurate” as a putative “news” entity, WBEN sides instead with the people who would “go to war” against these kids

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that story about n0bummer giving some of these kids a resort experience in Weslaco Texas is also completely false

In the meantime, the administration and Democrats will try to find a humane and legal solution to this problem while the Republicans continue to antagonize Latino voters and Millenials.  In the meantime, sane and rational people will call out wildly horrible local hate radio for the embarrassment it is. 

Not every problem is one that needs to be solved with hatred and guns. 

(Crossposted to Little Green Footballs)

WBEN: Fascism Advocacy

Over the next week, consider for a moment that the radio station that brings you the traffic and weather together in the morning, along with a roster of commentators whose extremism builds as the day rolls along. 

But in the last few months or so, the station’s operations director, Tim Wenger, has developed for himself something of a largely off-air personality. In some ways, it’s even more malignant than that of his top talkers. He conducts himself like the most deluded and hateful trolls on the WBEN Facebook page. 

Consider Wenger’s completely unprofessional and false attempt to shame WEDG’s Josh Potter, and this series of horrible, reactionary pronouncements from Wenger’s own Twitter account, as well as the control he obviously enjoys over the WBEN Twitter and Facebook accounts at various parts of the day.  

Whatever personality Wenger is trying to manufacture for himself, it’s horrible and repugnant. 

It culminated in these two Tweets from him, one of which was, of course, simultaneously posted to the WBEN Facebook page. 

No, actually, I’ve never felt like “throwing a shoe” at any American political figure. Mostly because I’m not a violent moron, but also because I feel secure enough in the political system and in debate and discussion that “throwing a shoe” or otherwise committing an assault and battery doesn’t enter into it.  Remember when an Iraqi reporter threw a shoe at President Bush? Did Wenger think that was acceptable? Reasonable? Rational?

I didn’t think it was persuasive or appropriate. People enter politics, and they should expect to be vetted, scrutinized, and questioned. They should not expect to dodge physical assault. They do not deserve battery – no matter how much you disagree with them. For everyone who thinks Hillary Clinton deserves to be hit by a shoe because of Benghazi, I can probably find you two who think that Bush should be behind bars for war crimes. 

So, there’s nothing at all funny or appropriate about someone throwing a shoe at George Bush or at Hillary Clinton. Anyone who thinks differently is no different from a fascist blackshirt, trying to do with violence what they can’t do with words. It is beyond un-American. 

 

The video Wenger loves shows a small handful of protesters minding their own damn business. They had in no way attacked, provoked, or otherwise antagonized the two servicemen who attacked them. You can see in the last few frames, one protester with his hands to his side – he’s asking to reason with them.

In response, they curse at him – this from Tim Wenger, who just can’t tolerate the profane blogs. It’s ok to say “fuck” if you’re a Marine intimidating, assaulting, battering, and robbing a couple of guys on a moped. 

That protest, by the way, took place in Albuquerque.  The people on the moped were protesting an epidemic of police brutality in that city, culminating in the homicide of an unarmed homeless man. The people on the moped were exercising their right to free speech, protesting police shootings. Their use of an upside-down flag wasn’t an act of disrespect – the upside-down flag is a distress signal, used in many protests as political speech indicating that the republic is in danger. Go look at the title card for “House of Cards”.  Should belligerent and ignorant young men throw shoes, perhaps, at TVs displaying it? 

There is nothing to love about what that Marine does to the protester, whether he’s an “ass” or not. (More profanity! Shock! Horror!). Engaging in street fights with political opponents is what the blackshirts and brownshirts did in the 20s and 30s. That is the only context within which this assault and robbery of a flag can be viewed. The only lens through which we can see this as acceptable or lovable behavior is the lens of fascism. 

 

So, understand that Buffalo: the guy who runs operations for the Entercom corporation locally is a proponent of violent, fascist behavior. He is an outspoken, unabashed fan of violence and intimidation for political ends. To say this is un-American is a dramatic understatement. But even more insidious is that – whether he holds these views sincerely or not – he is encouraging that sort of behavior from the malinformed people listening to WBEN who think Michael Savage is too liberal. 

Tim Wenger and WBEN are encouraging violence against people who hold different political views from them. I don’t know why this is not a big deal. 

If this was happening in the 1930s, this newsreel would be appropriate: 

Guns, Mental Health, and Fascism

1. If you went on the Facebook to try and politicize the stabbing of kids in Pennsylvania, using it as a springboard for a “debate” about gun control,  implicitly mocking and defaming the 20 1st grader victims of Sandy Hook – you’re doing everything wrong. 

One of the goals of gun control advocates is to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill; like kids who go on stabbing sprees or shooting sprees.  There’s a big difference between the two – in Pennsylvania, no one died. 

2. Many people are calling for better mental health services in this country in the wake of the Pennsylvania stabbing, the Sandy Hook shooting, and the Fort Hood shooting. That would be fantastic – oftentimes the first thing that state and municipal governments cut and shrink to balance their budgets are the very costly mental health services offered to people who desperately need – yet can’t afford – them. When services are cut and facilities closed, where do you think they go? How do you think they function in society? The mentally ill are, furthermore, often uniquely unable or unwilling to stand up for themselves, their medical needs, and their rights. 

I think it’s a great goal for society to better serve our most vulnerable. It’s sort of the point of programs like SNAP and WIC, and mental health services need to be taken more seriously.  Of course, this costs money. So, let’s agree to expand mental health services while simultaneously not complaining about the cost of doing so, or denigrating the mentally ill recipients of these services because we resent them receiving them. 

Furthermore, mental health services should be available to anyone who needs them, on demand and for life. The best way to accomplish this is to expand mental health coverage throughout the health insurance spectrum. 

3. At Fort Hood, a troubled soldier shot three people and injured 16 others. The right wing – locally led by the increasingly shrill and dangerous operations director at WBEN (see below) – has recommended that soldiers at the facility be allowed to carry sidearms at all times to protect themselves against a deranged shooter. Is that a good way to run a society – by encouraging shootouts? Have we not progressed at all since the post-civil war frontier times? These men and women have signed up to serve our country. We can’t trust our servicemen and women to not shoot at each other? Nowhere is 100% safe all of the time, and it’s ridiculous to live your life waiting to fend off an attack. Everybody’s Chuck Norris, all of a sudden. Just relax. You don’t need a gun all the time. 

4. Kathy Weppner changed her campaign website yesterday and touted it on Facebook and Twitter. It looks like a 12 year old was let loose on a Livejournal account. Weppner is going to run against Obamacare, which is interesting since it’s expanded health insurance so that the number of uninsured is at its lowest point in years. It’s also interesting since more people with health insurance means more patients for her husband to treat. 

The next report will be on the economy, jobs and Obamacare job loss. This landmark legislation has been changed 40 times. The chaos, uncertainty and cost of this massive piece of legislation and last minute changes has resulted in thousands of job cuts, reduction in fulltime employment, and employer fear of hiring.  The cumulative impact of Obamacare, on top of the highest corporate taxes in the world, and constant Washington interference is devastating to our small business job creators.  Obamacare, as it impacts the medical care you receive, will appear as a separate report.  

And you thought she was just a benign kook. She has no idea what she’s talking about, and is simply vomiting up Fox News/Rush Limbaugh talking points. 

5. Back to that Operations Manager at WBEN. Regard: 

That protester didn’t do a damn thing to those Marines. He didn’t attack them or disrespect them (an upside-down flag is a distress signal, (36 USC §176(a)), not a sign of disrespect to the flag or to those who fight under her). Furthermore, whatever that protester was doing is protected political speech. What that Marine did to the protester is simple assault & battery; also, larceny. Robbery, possibly. That sort of intimidation and assault of someone with whom you disagree is straight up fascism. 

I haven’t received a reply to this yet: