Monday, May 05, 2008

Thank You Mr Levin, I Understand Now

Having decided to initiate a "News From Nowhere Podcast of the Month Award", I spend some time each month trawling through the more unusual and exotic podcasts that are available throughout the world. One of the ever-present dangers facing the reasonably sane podcast reviewer is fruitcakes - deranged people who have decided to inflict their somewhat unbalanced views on the rest of humanity. The best tactic for filtering such people out is to stick to reasonably well-known platforms : one is unlikely to find a complete nutcase distributed by one of the major networks.

And then one day I happened to flick through the podcasts available from the mighty American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Network and downloaded an edition of the Mark Levin Show. I am still trying to decided whether I can get over the experience without therapy. I have to confess that I downloaded and listened to the podcast without checking out any information about Mark Levin and therefore I had no idea what to expect. Consequently - and this is no exaggeration - for the first ten minutes I was convinced it was a somewhat crude and repetitive comedy sketch. Slowly the realisation dawned that it was for real and I listened with shocked fascination for the rest of the eighty minute show. I wouldn't discourage anyone from giving it a try - as Sir Thomas Beecham said, "try everything once except incest and country dancing" - but be warned, you will need a strong mental constitution and a decent malt to try and consign the experience to oblivion.

Mark Levin is described by the ABC blurb as "one of America's preeminent conservative commentators and constitutional lawyers". His show consists of an extended rant against liberals, fellow-travellers, fifth columnists, democrats and almost everyone to the left of Genghis Khan. He seems to believe that anyone favouring taxing companies or reducing greenhouse gas emissions is giving comfort and support to the enemies of the USA. During the episode I listened to, he became fixated with the dangers posed by "Red China" who, he reported, were constructing James Bond-like concrete bunkers for massive fleets of nuclear submarines. He went into a lengthy and mostly incomprehensible attack on Hilary Clinton and her "genitalia" and even managed a passing comment on the local election results in the UK ("a massive blow for the socialists from the Labour Party"). Socialists in the Labour Party!!! Bless him, you have to chuckle don't you.

Towards the end of each programme he takes a few carefully screened phone-calls from people who share his world view. Having mentioned the "S" word in relation to his comments on the UK election results, one eleven year old phoned in and asked: "Mr Levin, sir, could you please tell me what socialism is". "I am glad you asked that question", he replied. "Imagine that you were playing softball with some friends and a big bully came along and took away your bat and ball. He then said that you could only play in future if you asked his permission and then you would get to play when and where he said. And he would make up the rules and then, irrespective of those rules, decide who had won. That's socialism my boy". The boy listened in awed silence and then said "Thank you sir, that is much clearer. I understand now, Mr Levin".

I know how the boy felt. I recognise the awed silence. Thank you Mr Levin. I understand now.

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