Tag Archives: Fox News

It’s Time for Moderate Republicans to Act…

Just as it has been extraordinary helpful in the court of public opinion for Islamic leaders to condemn the actions of Daesh as neither aligned with the tenets of their religion, nor in fact, Islamic in any real way, shape, or form, it is also important for moderate Republicans to distance themselves from the present state of their party.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced today that the Senate Republicans would take the unprecedented step of failing to even consider any Supreme Court Nominee proffered by President Obama. In other words, strictly in the name of partisan politics, the Republicans are picking up their ball and going home. They are acting childishly on an issue of great, indeed constitutional, importance. Last time I checked, the sitting president is president until he is not.

This “leadership caucus” is refusing to do their job. Out of spite. Plain and simple.

And yet…it’s seems that this egregious behavior is simply a symptom of a party in crisis. Witness the lack of cohesion in their ability to field a “real” candidate. What predictably filled the void is a carnival showman with no real allegiance to their party or core values, whatever those may be these days.

So they are left with impetuous men, so frightened by their ever loosening grip on power and influence, that all that is left is to make headlines; governance be damned.

In my estimation, the cracks first appeared in the Reagan administration, when, drunk with political power they began to dismantle some of the conventions of decorum that had existed for generations. When President Clinton was elected, they dropped any hint of propriety and Newt Gingrich became their rhetorical henchman. Finally, the Bush (not the good one) era brought us to fruition with the simply evil likes of Karl Rove.

And throughout this descent into madness, they were urged along by the burdening communications wing of this new Republican Party–Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and its mouthpiece, Fox News.

Think I’m exaggerating? Listen to this hot mic conversation of the Donald instructing the Fox “journalists” on how to best present his brand. I’m not so naive to believe that Democrats and other more liberal news organizations don’t also abdicate their fourth estate responsibilities, but in toto, I believe that even a man I truly despise, the Great Communicator, would take issue with the path they find themselves on.

They have forced a paradigm shift in the way our country is governed, and this Supreme Court power play has forced me to rethink who I will support in 2016. Do I stick to my ideals and vote my conscience, or am I forced to support the candidate that I know will go in the trenches, fight dirty, and hopefully humiliate these idiots. Not a choice I want to make, but one I may need to consider in this age of playground politics.

So I plead with you…the voices of moderation in the Republican Party: SPEAK UP…BE HEARD; don’t be afraid. There may just be some folks in the center and left that are willing to support your efforts at maturity and reconciliation.


He Whose Name Shall Not be Mentioned…

Of course I’m referring to the train wreck otherwise known as Donald Trump and his infantile pursuit of the title “Leader of the Free World”.

If you have seen the Mike Judge movie Idiocracy you may want to stop reading; you know where I’m going. If you have not, I implore you to view this masterpiece that, tragically, is playing itself out before our eyes.

At first viewing of the movie, I reasoned that it was plausible, indeed likely, sometime in the distant future. Trump, in his “bull-in-a-china-shop” manner, has hastened this demise of culture and politics.

In fairness to “The Donald”, he is simply the catalyst of a broken media system that relies on titillation rather than reasoned analysis and evaluation…formerly known as “news” and “op-eds.”

It’s been pretty well documented by others that Trump is simply reflecting a certain (and I PRAY, remote) segment of our population that is generally uneducated, or otherwise unwilling to analyze and research the complex issues affecting our society. Some are educated but simply lazy in that they, understandably, want change–someone “to stir things up.”

Yes, a Trump presidency would certainly do that–that we could recover is quite another question.

His ascendancy to front-runner status in his party amazes me. But then again, I dumped cable about a year ago and have received my news largely through various sources online and on the radio (NPR, PRI); but the other day while taking a break at work, I had occasion to see a TV in a nearby shop that was tuned to CNN, and for the entire hour that I ate my lunch, some sort of “panel” was discussing what I assumed was the topic of the “crawl”…that “The Donald” had engaged in playground name-calling of Ted Cruz. I don’t remember the exact specifics, but it was pedestrian and child-like at best.

30 years ago, the topic of the CNN crawl would not have even been a blip on the radar of CNN, or any self-respecting news organization. But today “if it bleeds it leads” has morphed into a mine field of political persuasion that infects the minds of ignorant voters (see Fox and MSNBC).

That a schoolyard bully (and I hesitate to call him that, as today he called his earlier sexual liaisons his own “personal Vietnam”) can garner the attention that a generation ago would have been appropriately ignored is deeply disturbing to me.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m that old guy yelling at the kids to “get off my damn lawn”, but I think not. I still believe in propriety and decorum. And the deadly seriousness of the issues affecting our country call for an adult, not a child.

I still hope Idiocracy is a few generations away, as I don’t think I can bear to watch…

 


Why Truth Matters

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Stop what you’re doing right now and tell me which way is north.

Not sure? OK, grab your smartphone and access your compass app…this should do it.

What does this have to do with truth? The question: “Which way is north” refers to a baseline or default direction from which we measure the other elements/directions within that world.

In other words, within our socio-political world, the abrogation of truth has led to a warping of our moral compass…a dangerous precedent.

Without a frame of reference, the short shrift we increasingly give truth is denigrating our ability to hold ourselves, our society, and our leaders accountable to the truth; to that element of our existence that allows us to judge right and wrong. To that precious commodity that allows us, as a society, to call out those who would harm us and declare “this is wrong”.

When we play fast and loose with the truth, we lose the moral high-ground.

Case in point:  the political assassination of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov.

It doesn’t take an individual with a degree in international relations, criminology, or Soviet history to surmise that Putin is holding the metaphorical (if not literal) smoking gun.

In another era, our government, our media, our so-called political “leaders” could, in good faith, call out the modern day Russian Czar Putin on this travesty of justice. While Putin is many things (among them sociopathic) he is not stupid. He must realize the American government, media, and Congress don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to claiming the moral high-ground. In fact, he’s already spun the assassination as the work of American agents.

Sigh.

Let’s take our government first. Yes, we’ve never been fortunate to have a completely transparent government, but as the heroic revelations of Edward Snowden have illuminated, our government is actively and aggressively lying to the folks that empower and employ them…you and me.

And what of the media? The fifth estate formerly occupied by luminaries such as Murrow and Cronkite…

Those luminaries have been replaced by America’s most trusted news source, Fox News.

If this doesn’t cause you concern, stop reading now and return to whichever reality show of the moment or televised pursuit you are watching and please increase your cholesterol intake. If it does concern you, take heart. When was the last time those individuals who are truly curious, consumers of real news, watched network news anyway. I’m encouraged by the fact that there is a large portion of the country that was not included in this poll. At least I desperately, if not naively, cling to this hope.

And finally, what of our most precious representatives in Congress? You know, those individuals whose very existence is based upon their ability to accept corporate donations and spew whatever soundbite adds to those campaign contributions. Still not with me? These are the folks who are currently walking the razor’s edge of treason by undermining the constitution and the executive branch with respect to the Iranian nuclear enrichment talks. Fine upstanding individuals who wouldn’t know a moral compass if it hit them in their fat coffers.

Those who live in glass houses simply can’t throw stones and we are quickly becoming the inhabitants of the largest glass mansion in the (and I use this word cautiously) “civilized” world.

 


Throw Us a Rope Mr. President

Whether Edward Snowden turns out to be the modern day version of Daniel Ellsberg, or simply an opportunistic, overachieving ITT Tech grad (as some pundits suggest), this much is clear:  Mr. President, you’ve a crisis of confidence on your hands.

Until recently, I was your biggest fan.  You won me over during your first campaign (okay, even before) and I’ve steadfastly remained in your corner until, well, until your drones and your sham FISA court, and your Gitmo (remember Gitmo sir, that place that you promised to close by now?) and your inability to express the razor-sharp reasoning that leads your administration to continue to operate outside the Constitution. OK, your Justice Deparment will argue that your policies are within the letter of the law but let’s get real…even if that’s true (and I don’t believe it is), you’re a big boy and we both know perception is reality, PARTICULARLY in the political arena.

So here’s the deal Mr. President: your actions have forced me into a segment of society I’d rather not invite over for dinner…the right wing conspiracy theorist. The Tea Partiers. The NRA fascist. The Fox News contingent. Yecch. I don’t like it here and I want to go home.

I want to go back to the audacity of hope that you promised us. The moral commitment that we came to expect from you. If it remains, it is well hidden. What we SEE is a President generally willing to compromise with the right (in a spirit of cooperation that has long since left the station) and a President that is willing to forgo the message of hope that you instilled in all of us.

Do the right thing Mr. President. Be clear with us why these draconian measures are necessary. Tell us exactly why the balance has swung so far into the infringement of our civil liberties. If you can’t do that, then make it stop…NOW.

I can’t be your only supporter that has become disenfranchised with the military-industrial complex that you oversee…and perpetuate. You’re throwing us to the wolves (Fox-es) Mr. President and your legacy is being critically injured through your actions and inaction.

Throw us a rope…


Pins and Needles

Seriously, it shouldn’t be this close.  I shouldn’t be this stressed.  How is it possible that my President is even in a race with a lying Neanderthal who literally will say anything to get elected?

I blame my guy, Obama.  You had four years to make your case.  Clearly, you failed.  Oh, I don’t think your policies failed, but you clearly underestimated the stupidity of the electorate and the power and influence of Fox “News”.  We all need to take this threat seriously and Mr. President, you need to take the lead.

If you are elected, use the next four years (among other things) to educate your constituency and your haters…don’t compromise if you truly believe in your platform as you have promised, and use your bully pulpit to call out these fundamental wing nuts for what they are, unpatriotic psychopaths with an agenda that will throw our country into chaos.

Pissed much?  Yeah, just a little.  I’m really disappointed that I live in a country that sustains an organization like Fox that serves no other purpose than to advance the ideological and economic agenda of corporate America and the entitled, rich white men at the helm.  It disgusts me.  Oh, now I’m a socialist?  I prefer pragmatist with a heart.

Please President Obama, if you squeak this one out, use your lame duck term to do your best to put an end to this hatred.  Call it what it is…expose the truth for the conspiracy that it is.  If you don’t, we are destined to suffer again like this in four more years.


Nothing To See Here Folks…Move Along…

Oh, what a sight it was. Shepard Smith couldn’t muster enough lather to apologize for showing the suicide of a human being on live television. His heartfelt remonstrance’s were the stuff of classic Fox news; dramatic, intense, utterly lacking any newsworthy value whatsoever.

My distaste for Fox “News” is well-documented. I don’t feel the need to pile on them for this one. This is to be expected from a “news” organization of their ilk. What I’m completely done with are the local news channels that feel the need to televise pursuits in the first place. Mr. Local News Producer…if any of you see this blog, I implore you to detail what part of your formal journalistic studies lists vehicle pursuits as “newsworthy”? They are routine and bordering on the mundane here in Southern California…pursuits have lost their “newness” many chases ago.  What then, remains of value to the viewer? Oh, excuse me, I simply neglected to remember that some time ago, local news ceased to be that…news.

Televising live pursuits has simply become a danger; not only to the psyche of the viewer, but to the public and law enforcement agencies conducting the pursuit. There is the criminal who will flee from the police simply BECAUSE of the likelihood of making the boob tube. And there is the criminal that will take advantage of the coverage to cover his escape…witness a local pursuit recently, where at the termination, riot police had to be called as he bailed in his neighborhood and the locals, having witnessed the pursuit on television, were only too accommodating by swarming the car at the end of the chase.

Folks, we need to take a hard look at ourselves and where our own personal responsibility comes in. This falls in the same category as buying tabloid magazines and slowing down to witness the gore of a car accident.

I implore you…I appeal to the last vestiges of your humanity…just move along…avert your eyes and keep channel surfing. Maybe the local guys will get a clue and actually realize this crap stopped being news a long time ago.


It Takes One to Know One…

via Associated Press

A long-time acquaintance of mine, who happens to be of Persian descent, posted this status on his Facebook yesterday:

The TV at the gym was showing the protests in the middle-east, and a lady on a treadmill says: “They should just drop a bomb right in the middle of all those people” Made me think how much people are alike all over the world 😦

Amen brother…amen.

If I’m completely honest with my innermost self, I can briefly empathize with this lady’s statement…and shame on me for even considering it.  But it’s an honest reaction to something that is so outrageous and hard to comprehend.  But like many things in life that are hard to grasp, we tend to oversimplify and categorize our feelings…like this lady did…like I could if I choose to be lazy…and insensitive.

After all, let’s look at what’s really happening in the Islamic world right now.  Extremists are preying on the fears of the poor, disadvantaged and uneducated among them and providing them with a purpose…a jihad…a call to arms to fight their oppressor’s in the name of the Holy Quran and the almighty Prophet Muhammad.

Except that’s not what happened.  The Holy Quran and the Prophet Muhammad have not called for the destruction of the western world as much as all of us…the jihadist and the housewife, would like to believe.

It’s a byproduct of spin that creates these misunderstandings. No one is willing to challenge the popular assertions, the fear-mongering that makes things easier to define…makes us willing to put people into categories that are comfortable to us, but often mistaken and horribly wrong.

The Islamic religion, indeed Arabs of all faiths, don’t have a market on extremism.  One need merely look at our own breed:  at the sociopathic Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center; at Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian born Coptic Christian,  maker of the incendiary film currently stirring misguided passions and fears overseas; at Pat Robertson and his “down-home” brand of racism and religious intolerance; and finally at the Limbaugh’s, and the Beck’s, and the Hannity’s…all commercial entities that pander to our own uneducated…our lowest common denominator…our lazy.

Extremism knows no religious belief, no skin color and no national boundaries. Extremism cuts its victims down with an impunity that would make Solomon proud.  We are all extremists in the dark corners of our minds.  It’s only through critical thinking and a modicum of education and humanity that we are able to overcome these fearful portions of our hind-brains.

Enough.


The Reality of Donuts.

So I’m listening to NPR this weekend and there is a professor discussing the new reality of journalism.  And to paraphrase badly, he describes the reality as being a donut.  The donut hole are the issues, or realities that all parties can agree on.  The donut itself are the areas that require balanced journalistic effort…present both sides of the issue: fact checked and properly sourced.  And the space outside the donut are the areas that most people can agree are non-issues.  As an example, he stated that 40 years ago, the Obama birth certificate issue would have been a non-issue…it was so far outside the norm that it would have received no validation in the media.

He further suggested that the issue of global warming should receive the same lack of attention.  The overwhelming majority of the scientific community agrees that it is real.  To suggest otherwise is to embrace a fringe belief based on hyperbole and politics.

Oh, if it were only that easy.  In fact, if it were that easy, I’m afraid Fox News would have to reduce it’s programming from 24 hours, to about 2.  The proliferation of right-wing talk radio, followed shortly by media giant Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, and the response from MSNBC and other flatly biased liberal news organizations have created a scenario where, as the professor said, the donut has been blown to pieces.

Nietzsche said “there are no facts, only interpretations” but I don’t buy it.  I think we can all agree that the sun will come up tomorrow…and that if it is out, it is daytime.  Interpretation perhaps, but a truth within the dount hole.

It’s past time for reasonable people to stand up and call BS on the biased, merchants of spin.  On both sides of the aisle.  It’s past time we came to the consensus that some things are not real and refuse to entertain them in the public discourse.  Crap is crap…”if it walks like a duck” can become our Mantra.

Look, everyone views things through the prism of their own experience.  I’m just suggesting it’s time for the critical thinker to stand up and be counted…and to have the moral authority to discount that which is false.  It’s not a radical thought.  It’s what brought down Joe McCarthy.  It’s what keeps the donut hole full…


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