Tag Archives: News

I Can’t Even…

As I enter the twilight of my junior college career–getting ready to embark on my final push towards my bachelor’s degree at an as yet undetermined university–I find myself paralyzed. Dumbstruck not by the variety of academic choices that lie in front of me, not by the awesome responsibility of choosing just HOW much debt I intent to incur over the next seven years (2 years BA, 5 yrs PhD program), and not by the use of the Oxford comma (see what I did there?).

No, indeed since November 8th of 2016 I’ve been awed…metaphorically frozen by the, and I use this word judiciously–“reality”–of just who has been sworn in as President of the United States. I guess, like any victim of trauma, I’ve used self-delusion as a defense mechanism. But tonight, while doing laundry during a break from studying The Iliad, I heard an NPR announcer say the phrase: “President Trump.” Obviously, I’ve heard this before, but for some reason, tonight, it hurt. It was surreal. A moment of panic set in and I literally wondered if I had either died, or was suffering from some form of parallel universe awareness. This simply can’t be…

Today, the director of the FBI stated, in no uncertain terms (Don, this means NOT fake news), that the administration of the sitting President of the United States is under criminal investigation for his alleged campaign ties to a foreign government. The Russians. As a child of the cold war, this chills me to the bone. But perhaps the most chilling “reality” is the seeming lethargy with which this news has been greeted by my fellow countrymen.

Let’s review: the republican nominee, and eventual electoral college victor, our now sitting President, is the subject of a criminal (read: treason) investigation for alleged collusion with the Russians to, among other things, affect the outcome of the presidential election.

I’m not going to parse this with anyone, nor do I intend to build a case against him. I believe the investigation alone speaks volumes.

What I do demand is an immediate, and serious examination of the evidence to begin articles of impeachment of this man, and, pending the outcome of the FBI’s (and hopefully a special prosecutor’s) investigation, a constitutional evaluation of the propriety of the last election by our Supreme Court. The buck has never stopped “here” with Trump and it’s pretty clear that the dysfunction has metastasized within his government. I’m calling for the Court, again pending satisfactory evidence of duplicity and criminal wrongdoing, to call for another election.

There is simply too much at stake to allow this narcissistic, impending indicted criminal to continue to govern. Consider the ACA and the wide-ranging effect Trump’s Federal Judge appointee’s can have on our country for decades to come. We can all see the writing on the wall here…let’s quit pussy-footing around the issue and stop calling this man our lawfully elected “President.” Bill Gates visited Trump today to discuss “the internet” today. I was outraged. It’s time for people of conscience to let the emperor know his fat ass is naked for all the world to see.  Government leaders and those in power need to stop entitling this man and his corrupt machine. Call a spade a damn spade.

“President Trump”…I can’t even.



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…


The Myth of Democracy and the Demise of the Fourth Estate

Our system of government is based on a concept of checks & balances between branches of government. Executive, legislative, and judicial. A fourth “branch” or “fourth estate” has historically been the informal final arbiter of truth within this system.

Journalism had enjoyed a reputation of objectivity for some years. Think Murrow, Cronkite, and the unsung heroes of truth that trudged the wires for AP and UPI. Broadcast journalism was the first to fall (the “Eyewitness News” model) and the line between truth and “message” became blurred.

NPR and PBS were my last hopes. NPR has increasingly come under fire for some administrative personnel decisions (Juan Williams) but for my money, continues to provide generally objective, thoughtful content.

Then PBS. Another stalwart of objective journalism. The PBS Newshour and Frontline are, in my opinion, unmatched for in-depth editorial content. Other news organizations such as Al Jazeera and BBC also continue to produce top quality content.

Now this.

I read this article from David Sirota and another piece of me died. To summarize, PBS is launching a two-year series called “The Pension Peril”. The series promotes cuts to public employee pensions (disclaimer: I am a former county employee who is not receiving a public pension and is adamantly opposed to exorbitant public pensions).

Here’s the poison pill: the series financed by, as the article states “former Enron trader John Arnold, a billionaire political powerbroker who is actively trying to shape the very pension policy that the series claims to be dispassionately covering.”

Et tu PBS? Your argument that you retain editorial control over content is a shameful expression of crap clearly designed to save face in light of the disclosure of your masters.

That the PBS Newshour promotes the series sickens me. When I think PBS, I think objectivity, truth, integrity.

Whether it is an economic reality forcing this funding or not matters little. They’ve entered the partisan arena inhabited by subjective “news” organizations such as Fox and the Wall Street Journal.

I have no argument with balance. The MSNBC counter to Fox and their ilk. What I have issue with is the demise of the Fourth Estate…

Of truth…

Of integrity…

Of the myth of democracy…

I Stopped Watching Local News…and Lived!


Not too long ago, my son asked me on what channel I watched local news.  I told him that it had been quite awhile since I had tuned in to the local version of infotainment.  In fact, I couldn’t recall when I had stopped watching it, since it had been so long since I was graced with Susie and Dan exchanging witty repartee while dissecting the risks and benefits of liposuction.

Here in Los Angeles, there actually used to be some quality journalists: John Schubeck, Bill Stout, Warren Olney to name a few.  But as a lad I recall when we were introduced to “Eyewitness News”; and the era of “Happy Talk” journalism hit the ground running.

On the rare occasion today (usually a public T.V. while in an airport or at some other event) that I am exposed to this nonsense, I am sadly reminded of the decline of television news, particularly at the local level.  I specifically exclude  the local PBS affiliates and NPR as it goes without saying that they are the last bastions of “real” daily television journalism.

I guess what causes me the most alarm is the number of “adults” 18-65 that watch this drivel and actually believe they are watching news and being informed.  That Ronald Reagan and George Bush won two presidential terms sustains my belief that we are a nation of ill-informed (at best) citizens unwilling to take the time to understand what “real” journalism is.

It is:  unbiased, sourced, verifiable and editorially overseen by professionals with degrees in journalism from real journalism schools.  It is not: TMZ, ANY local news outlet, Fox, MSNBC and sadly now: CNN.

Yes, I’m generalizing and yes I’m oversimplifying.  But what I am not doing is being lazy and willing to submit my mind to the commercial pabulum force-fed us these days.  It’s easy to be cynical about this state of affairs (I am guilty of this more often than not) but submit that in this day of the internet, with a virtual encyclopedia on your damn phones, that none of us have any excuse to be NOT informed or ILL informed.

There are some great apps for your phone and tablet and laptop kids…Reuters, BBC, PBS, NPR, Washington Post, New York Times, even Al Jazeera and Haaretz offer solid journalism, albeit the last two must be viewed through the lens of their masters.

At the end of the day, we are all responsible for seeking and consuming responsible sources for the information we use in our daily lives to make decisions about what we want our world to look like.  If yours is the local news outlet, please consider educating yourself.  You may just learn that everything isn’t “Breaking News”…


And We Care Why?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman hug in Pyongyang

The “Worm” recently visited North Korea and partied with Kim Jong (insert suffix here).  And I wonder…who the hell cares that a washed up former NBA rebound specialist visited a communist despot?

Seriously, why do we care about this?  Why did this visit warrant an appearance on a Sunday morning “news” program?

I honestly don’t know why Rodman was there, under what circumstances, or any of the details, beyond the fact that he was there.  Know why?  I don’t give a rats ass…that’s why kids.  And I encourage you not to care too!  See…isn’t this fun boys and girls.  You can try it at home…here’s how:

Every time a self-styled “celebrity” or person of interest (in their own mind) does something newsworthy…simply ignore it.  Don’t comment on it, don’t blog it, don’t tweet it, don’t  frickin’ acknowledge it.  That way students, these Donald Trump’s of the world will garner no more attention.  They have done nothing other than utter outrageous sentiments or act in an immature, socially boorish manner.  Here’s a thought…let’s stop rewarding this “Reality TV” behavior.

I know I’m speaking heretically here, especially to those of you who think “Honey Boo Boo” is important social commentary, but I ask you to step outside your trailer (cut me some slack, it’s a metaphor), head down to the local library, and check out a book for God’s sake.  You might find there are more important issues that we should be focusing on in this world.  Issues of economy, politics, social engagement and compassion, cultural divisions and the bridges we can build to overcome them.

But WTF do I know…my thoughts don’t gain a “share” in Nielsen’s world and I’m not selling soap so I’ll just crawl into my corner and shut up….

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.

Say it ain’t so Joe (McCarthy)

 Being an innocent young lad afforded me a wide variety of beliefs that if people just did the right thing, or were shown the error of their ways, all would be good.   I had a recurring fantasy that if a bad man ever did anything to me or my family, I would simply reason with him and the situation would resolve.

As I got a little older, this line of thinking faded, but was replaced by incredulity that episodes in our history like Hitler or McCarthy could ever be repeated…especially in MY country.  Thankfully we have seen nothing close to the Third Reich mentality in the mainstream, however I find myself increasingly distressed that ‘ol Joe is right around the corner.  And his name is Roger Ailes.

I grew up believing in icons like Edward R. Morrow, Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley.  The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, NPR, and PBS continued to carry on (or at least try real hard) the traditions of these journalistic giants.  “Journalism” to me was a science…the reporter developed and reported the story based on multiple “sourcing” that could be verified.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best we could do and allowed for the least amount of bias.

I have long since stopped watching local TV news and the Infotainment that it spews.  Even the Big Three Networks turned me off…then CNN finally shoved me out the door with their brand of ratings-grabbing fluff.  What was left?  What had journalism become?

Joe McCarthy.  Yeah, THAT Joe McCarthy.  The man who turned innuendo and intimidation into fact.  The guy that took an agenda and through a mixture of pomp, bullying and fear, ruined lives and changed the national debate.  Welcome to 2012 Joe, and meet Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News.  You would be proud.  Along with Rupert Murdoch and Karl Rove, you would be proud of their accomplishments.  They have perfected your art of outrage, fear-mongering, and absolute lack of sourcing into a slick, marketable brand of “News”.  God, you would have had a field day on Hannity.  Beck would have been licking your Oxford’s every morning.

I don’t see an end in sight.  But I do know this:  the constant attacks on the “Liberal Media” is all about smoke and mirrors.  If the “Liberal Media” implies solid journalistic sourcing and un-biased journalistic integrity, then let’s embrace and hail the moniker.  But don’t call what you do “News” then hold up what I know to be verifiable facts as a “liberal movement”.

I know it’s a two-way street.  I took guilty pleasure in Olbermann’s rants before the sheer mean-spirited tone left me sour.  It is natural to tune in to what you want to hear, but at some point the “truth” becomes shaded, and reality suffers.  Let’s take a step back and call Fox what is it…a biased and well-funded wing of the Republican party.  It is not “news”.  It is not analogous to the “Liberal”  New York Times (one of the last balanced dailies).  Fox is an attempt to sway the national agenda to a particular point of view.  I’m okay with that…just don’t call it news and don’t call news the “Liberal Media”.

Sorry to say Joe, but there are some of us that still remember you and the insidious nature of your brand of sickness…and we’re still watching.


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