Debt Ceiling/Shutdown, and real journalism

I was a serious journalist a long time ago, inspired by Woodstein, Geraldo’s Bellevue expose, and 60 Minutes.  So I HATED doing press-release news and he said/he said.  But that’s all we get from mainstream news these days, not just broadcast/cable but also newspapers.  I guess you can’t get paid to tell THE TRUTH anymore, like this piece of debunking Reaganite mythology that underlies Republican government shutdown threats, and even Democratic compliance.

Journalism used to be called “the rough draft of history” or “the first draft of history” (or more correctly, of historiography).  Today it’s not even that — at least I hope not!

Investigate Murdoch here too

UPDATE: As Hamlet said, “O my prophetic soul…”: 9/11 implications.

If Rupert Murdoch’s reporters are hacking voicemails in Britain, given that much of his media investment here in the States is of similar, erm, quality, doesn’t it stand to reason that Congress, the FCC, police, etc., should look into it?

Is Prince Charles crazy, or Maclean’s?

A ‘newsmagazine’ I hardly recognized, on the eve of the ‘critically panned’ Fall Homecoming of the Heir to the Throne (including of Canada), published an opinion that he’d taken leave of his senses.  Is it possible that His Royal Highness is just a Classic, ie Progressive, Conservative, such as I’ve tried to be*, rather than the U.S. regressive Republican (GOP) kind?

Is it also possible HRH is “becoming Orthodox“??  Certainly he has opportunity to reflect on the world he sits almost at the top of in terms of wealth, fame, and access to power.  And/Or just chat with our First Among Equals, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (yes, that’s Istanbul in Turkish), “The Green Patriarch.”

But children must play … instead of providing reportage and analysis that knows what on earth it’s talking about.  Looks like I got out of journalism just in time – ‘My skills, it seems, are no longer required!’

(*–He said humbly!! 😉 )

Nor’easter II

In today’s Non Sequitur comic strip, Captain Eddie calls a storm he got caught in a “nahr-eastah,” in the cartoonist’s (respectful, affectionate) attempt at replicating a Down East Maine accent.  He’s relatively new to Maine as a resident, so I guess he’s still learning hard-core … but as you’ll remember from my recent post, he hasn’t got this one down yet.  But since the term is apparently not even native to New England, but Old, that doesn’t really matter!

Good fun, anyway — I highly recommend the strip!

“Nor’easter” b.s.

So I’m sitting watching a recent weathercast, wondering if it’s another effect of Global Warming that we seem to have tons more “Nor’easters” these days than when I was little, where maybe I remember reading the term only in Moby Dick dialogue or something.  Turns out the resident lexicographer* at The Boston Globe, appropriately enough, was a few years ahead of me (scroll down): It seems to be nothing more than a recent weather “journalist” fad.  Keep in mind she’s only referring to print usage.  I’d guess it’s even more prevalent in TV and radio: ‘Be afraid, be very afraid, here comes another Nor’easter!

(In that post two years ago to the day — spooky! — I forgot to mention explicitly that weather hype is considered to boost audiences … hence they can charge more for advertising, for delivering more ears and/or eyes.)

Of course, bad ones are a PIA, almost like a hurricane, in some ways worse.  But what’s with all the hype about beach erosion, too?  Wasn’t there plenty in the billions of years before humanity came along and built beachfront condos and resorts?  You’d think the original U.S. eastern shore was halfway out in the Atlantic!  That’s right, it’s not plate tectonics, just beach erosion!  I say anyone who builds in such places deserves what they get.  Now we all enjoy a beach any time of year, and maintaining them in desert perfection costs coastal towns, states, and countries mondo bucks.  That’s gonna get more fun with Climate Change too….

(*–I’ll tell this joke on myself: Originally instead of lexicographer I wrote logothete.  Guess I’ve been reading too much Byzantine history in conjunction with my [informal] Orthodoxy studies!)

Arming-up against Obama, Democrats, poor, and probably those of us in need of healthcare too

You saw it on the front of Monday’s USA Today

Not just licenses, but permits to carry concealed!  This was a followup to an Election Week story.

You don’t need Concealed Carry to protect your home from break-in … unless you don’t even want your own family to know about it?!?!?!  And getting more guns when you think rational gun control is coming?  Only if you plan on murdering cops, sheriffs, ATF agents … you remember, “jackbooted thugs”?   (See Time magazine’s expose of ‘the new NRA’ – radical, militant, rebellious – around then, 1995.)  And just recently we were faced with the possibility of NRA/nationally-imposed  least-common-denominator Concealed Carry rules?!!  (So much for “States’ Rights”!!!)

No, at a time when GOP leaders, (formerly-)mainstream public figures like Chuck Norris, traitor Rush ‘I hope America fails’ Limbaugh, (let’s not forget their godfather G. Gordon Liddy,) and more than a few followers, are talking publicly about Secession and a New Civil War, it’s clear who these new guns, more and more guns, are being pointed at right now: the rest of us, our elected officials, our duly-appointed government officials, government employees just doing their legal jobs as apolitically as they can (Remember harrassment and threats against County Clerks in the Midwest based on 18th-century spelling and capitalization rules, not to mention a Day One of Law School grasp of Common Law?), anyone they consider “traitors” or “godless” or a “threat to civilization” or “persecuting” … THEM!

USA probably should’ve clarified that that gun seller claimed an elderly couple came in afraid Pres. Obama was going to personally ‘invade their home’ and take their guns, since presumably the USA reporter didn’t meet the couple in question.  The seller could’ve just made them up, like the fake couple — actors — who torpedoed healthcare reform the last time, Fred and Ethel or whatever their names were.  And as for those Richmond, Virginia, suburbanites living on wild game shot by pre-adolescents in the cul-de-sacs — Rats? Squirrels? Raccoons? Possums? My Native ancestors ate groundhog stew, but didn’t “rely on it,” except maybe in lean years, or when English colonists penned them up in Reservations! — I’m just glad I don’t live next-door to them!  (Raising growing boys on rodents? I guess they’d better learn how to shoot!)  The Associated Press (that time) again should’ve said that that family claims to rely on game for food, even though Midlothian and vicinity seems to have no shortage of Food Lions, Krogers, and even a chain called Ukrops.  In journalism it’s called attribution.

As KCBS-AM Radio News in San Francisco reported in November, this spike also happened when Democrats last came into the White House (or last succeeded in coming into the White House), with Bill Clinton’s election in ’92.  [Coincidence, or marketing ploy?!!!]  But now is not then, and with all due respect to mainstream poli-sci academics, the other side has sounded a whole lot scarier since ’92.  At the time of the First Civil War, “paranoia” was stoked by “extremists” on both sides of the Slavery and other arguments, tearing the rest of the Federation apart.  The only difference this time is that our side isn’t too fond of violence; that could be good, or bad, relative to history … I’m not sure.  Does that mean no war, or a onesided rebellion … or a coup d’etat?

I’ve been wondering if it isn’t time to tamp down the rhetoric by giving our urban and suburban and other such areas, their own states, letting each not have to follow the other in areas so fundamentally (no pun intended) offensive to it: e.g., same-sex marriage for them, Wild West for us.  Or even some kind of extra layer of Sovereignty or Autonomy within their current States: e.g., on their side, even though marriage is often presented in religious terms, its cultural ramifications are undeniable, so let them have their culture; on ours, city/suburb-appropriate gun control.  Creative thinking, please, at least; Civil War is not creative.  Then again, there’s the idea of a voluntary, amicable parting of the ways between “Jesusland” and “the United States of Canada” — only, not by Red State/Blue State, but more as discussed in this paragraph!

In the meantime, go with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

On the sneakier side, can’t someone provoke a schism within the NRA, deprive them of some of their vaunted numbers and monies?  A sort of Rational Rifle Association?!!*  ‘Cause right now, between them and Big Business and the (so-called) Religious Right, this country and this planet are being run into the ground.  What about revoking their home-state Corporate Charter by the people’s Sovereign Prerogative…?  Make it an issue in the next legislative, attorney general, secretary of state, or gubernatorial election!

More esoterically, it’s real certain that the guys who put together the Constitution of 1787 had no intention of subjecting their power and that of their “heirs and successors” to the kind of revolution they had just forced upon 80 percent of their neighbors, their constitutional parliamentary Monarch, and his lawful officials and forces.  If Tom Jefferson opined otherwise, he was obviously being facetious, and if not, he certainly didn’t feel strongly enough to do anything about it: “Every 20 years”?  Let’s see, he missed 1796, 1816….  OTOH, “a free state’s well-regulated militia” would’ve been the first line of defense against such nonsense, as Shays and the Whiskey Rebels found out real early on.  Arguably their more-or-less-permanent federalization, and dispatch to multiple long intensive wars and adventures overseas (not just Iraq and Afghanistan, but Central America in the ’80s, foreign drug interdiction since the ’90s, etc.), as opposed to Congress using its power to raise sufficient armies and navies, subjects us to the risk of just such nonsense here at home.  Although considering the infection of our military and paramilitary ranks with these folks, we may be safer this way, here at home at least….  Unless a draft were to draw from all walks of life, ideologies, demographics, etc…..

(*–14 years ago Time seemed to think it was possible to bring out the voice of those 40 percent who turnover every year, kind of like a fitness club:
Such talk leaves little space for people like Dave Richards, 37, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a target shooter who joined the N.R.A. to support the rights of sportsmen. Two years ago, Richards quit after concluding that the N.R.A. had become “more about lobbying for extremes than the mainstream people who just want to go hunting.” A large number of those mainstream folks are now ex-members. Currently, four of every 10 members drop out when it comes time to renew their $35 annual membership. “All the smaller voices like mine,” says hunter Ray Guzman, “aren’t being heard.” Speaking with a louder, shriller voice clearly works within the n.r.a. [sic]  The question is whether America’s other citizens, including responsible gun owners, will make themselves heard as well.
Yes, the time may have come for The Rational Rifle Association … or at least a simple, mainstream, anti-ideological Sport Rifle Association, to fight the NRA who give a bad name to target-shooting enthusiasts and recreational hunters everywhere.  Or even just a pissed ex-nra.org outfit to go tit for rat-a-tat-tat with them!  Or compete with them and re-focus gun enthusiasts’ attention on something more wholesome. 

[Even though this post retains my inherent copyright, I hereby grant permission to anyone with aims consonant with what I’ve expressed here to use the URL “ex-nra.org,” “x-nra.org,” “exnra.org,” “xnra.org,” .net, .com, .us, .ws, .info, .biz, and such.  You’ll be doing a real public service.  OTOH, if you just commandeer it against these aims, I reserve the right to litigate for violation of my copyright!])

Totally Without Class

Time was not too long ago when our political parties let each other have their weeklong TV commercial, er, party convention, to themselves.  But this minute-by-minute media-contesting of the Democrats’ ‘pre-convention VP Day’ today by the McSame / Rove / Swiftboat campaign is a new low in what had been a tradition of brief respite from all the partisan BS, our “quadrennial national civics lesson” — now down the toilet with the rest of the McCain offal.  So much for that “maverick” image.  He must be really running scared.  Today’s performance is totally without dignity or honor.  I’m torn between whether Obama / Biden should “go and do likewise,” or stick to the high road.  After all, it is apparently a way to get the “news” channels to air your instant ads for free nationwide and worldwide….

I have to add that CNN’s performance today is worthy of Fox News Channel, “loyally” getting all those McCain minute-by-minute retorts on the air.  I wonder if they’ll keep hammering at his “I don’t know how many homes I have”….  After all, he is the MSM darling….

BTW: So Biden once ran against Obama?  From what they’re saying, McSame may be about to nominate a mate who ran against *him.*  So let’s dredge that up too, OK guys?!!  That’s politics in a democracy: temporary rivals band together in party unity in the end: Our base isn’t thinking of bailing on the party in the fall, while theirs is.  It may be easy to forget during the last 8 years or more of non-democracy in America!  But we are a “democratic” party; the Republicans are a “religious” party.  We had a primary season; they had a traveling revival show, even with a bona fide preacher running!!!  Make your choice, America.  Just be sure and let everybody vote, and let every vote count, no matter race or party or class or liberal religion or no religion or sexual orientation or neighborhood or anything else.

And McCain “congratulating” Biden on the phone while at the same time releasing his classless ad?  Totally insincere and cynical.  %#@* him and the horse he rode in on!

About these insta-ads: Should we really be shown them before they air on paid TV?  Don’t we risk a fiasco like that ad one of the GOPs “unveiled” during the primaries, only to pull it the same day before it aired?  Are we newsmedia, journalists, or YouTube-on-the Air?!!!  Is it an ad, or just a campaign video?!!!  We don’t know yet!!!

For that matter, are they “journalists”?  Jour is French for day, as in daily.  French for moment is moment, oddly enough, so maybe they’re momentarists instead of journalists!  Does that really serve the public interest or the Common Good?  In some disaster, coup d’etat (like 2000 or ’04), or traffic jam, yes; otherwise, let’s stop and think a few hours once in a while….

(And no, I don’t speak French, I had to look it up.  I did take four years of Spanish, but  r e a l   s l o w  ! ! !   I catch about every fifth word on Spanish-language TV news!)