Another Write-wing Conspirator

Commentary, observations, musing, and ranting from the middle of the road (or just to the right of center. Usually.) featuring The Curmudgeon

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    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

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    Armchair philosopher, politically-incorrect political commentator, raconteur, retired air traffic controller, dilettante truck driver, US Army veteran, recluse, sometime-writer, redneck convert neè Buckeye, ne'er-do-well, bon vivant, unrepentant libertine, unapologetic libertarian, and (of course) curmudgeon…

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Archive for July, 2010

Media Madness

Posted by The Curmudgeon on July 24, 2010

Why mainstream media sources are on the ropes

Some thirty years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a teacher. He’d recently chaperoned his students during a field trip, touring the operations of the local newspaper. He surprised me when he pointed out that what he’d found most interesting were the newswire reports lying around, enlightening me about a few stories I hadn’t heard. When I expressed dismay at how I’d somehow missed these little gems, he explained: “You didn’t miss anything. They were never printed.”

He then asked me if I knew the identity of the newspaper’s publisher. Editor-in-chief? News editor? Opinion page editor? Who they are—and their views?

I confessed that I had no idea.

He said: “You should. They decide what news you get—and the news you don’t get.”

Sobering thought, that.

I’d always taken pains to keep abreast of the news. Of course, back in those days my usual news sources consisted of one major newspaper (for a city of about a quarter-million), radio news broadcasts while driving (imparted during brief interruptions to music and advertising), and broadcast television news furnished by the three major networks, recently augmented by the then-fledgling CNN. And, of course, there were the larger news magazines (e.g., Time, Newsweek, and U.S.News and World Report). Internet news sources lay far in the future. “The web” didn’t yet exist. Personal computers, for that matter, were an extreme rarity—and didn’t have modems (there wasn’t anything out there to connect with, anyway).

I gave much consideration to what the teacher had said. I thought of stories that had languished — the My Lai massacre came to mind — simply because nobody considered them to be newsworthy. (For the too-young-to-remember…the My Lai story was initially ignored by all the major news outlets; it eventually came to light not owing to a dedicated journalist, but to a disgruntled soldier—who finally managed to attract interest in the story long after the fact.) I recalled a vignette of someone once giving Walter Cronkite a transcript of the previous evening’s entire CBS newscast pasted onto the front page of a newspaper; it didn’t even cover that one page completely—a graphic commentary if ever there was one.

I also wondered what else the local newspaper editor had deemed not worthy of passing on to his readers. What had the major wire services chosen to ignore—or bury? How did the major broadcast news executives decide which stories to bombard us with during the thirty precious minutes (minus advertising time) they alloted to their evening broadcasts? What criteria did they use in making these decisions?

Since then, the world of news-reporting has changed dramatically. The “major” television networks have seen their news bureaus steadily lose market share to Fox News, while the explosion of web news sources and the blogosphere have placed a severe strain on even old, storied publishing empires.

Perhaps with that in mind, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger recently advanced the sensationally idiotic idea that the federal government should help fund troubled news organizations—and, implicitly, to regulate them.

The reader might blanch at my characterization, wondering what could possibly be wrong with government controlling the news; after all, it worked so well for Hitler, Communist China, the former Soviet Union, and North Korea. The ruling clerics in Iran no doubt swear by the idea. Hugo Chavez has embraced it.

One can almost feel the Founding Fathers spinning in their graves, aghast at the mere notion of blithely surrendering hard-won freedoms that they and generations of their successors fought to preserve—particularly given that it involves those who traditionally have so ardently cloaked themselves in the First Amendment for protection.

Set aside for the moment the temptation to merely ask whether Bollinger is out of his mind, and consider how the news organizations came to find themselves in their current state; while he’s partly correct in attributing the media establishment’s woes to the advent of internet news sources, the wounds are mostly self-inflicted.

The oligopoly enjoyed until only a few years ago by the established media giants couldn’t have been broken simply by a few upstart news sources elbowing them aside; they were all too big and too powerful for that to happen. Had the public at large been content with the services provided by the existing news giants, there would have been no motivation to seek other sources. The big news sources themselves drove away their own audience as growing numbers of readers and viewers became increasingly dissatisfied with a perceived (and steadily worsening) liberal bias in the news being presented (or not presented). Those who abandoned the “mainstream media” sources in droves, however, didn’t simply unplug altogether; as the established news giants have seen their influence decline, Fox and other sources have seen the ranks of their followers swell commensurately.

Reporters have long taken refuge in the old saw that “We don’t make the news; we just report it” in the face of criticism; given that they’ve become increasingly fond of selecting what to report and how it’s reported, this disingenuous claim is more ludicrous now than ever before. If thirty minutes of enduring the evening news isn’t enough to convince the skeptics, the ongoing revelations of groupthink news-planning via the JournoList listserv certainly should raise concerns. There’s mounting evidence of widespread collusion to not only abdicate the media’s traditional role of equally vetting Presidential candidates, but to collectively become Barack Hussein Obama’s most devoted advocate—and launch a concerted attack against his opponent’s running mate. More recently, the squelching of the story about voter intimidation by New Black Panther Party goons in Philadelphia (and elsewhere, as it’s now been revealed) was so egregious that even The Washington Post‘s own ombudsman took the newspaper to task over the matter. Throughout CBS News commentator Bob Schieffer’s recent interview with Attorney General Eric Holder, he failed to address the issue. Schieffer’s explanation? He’d been on vacation and hadn’t heard about the story.

Great. Schieffer’s on vacation, and the rest of establishment media’s been out to lunch the past few decades.

…and now Bollinger expresses his heartfelt concern that the federal government’s failing to prop-up the establishment media would result in our not getting the news we should have—as if establishment media has already been providing us with such news. (Indeed, had they done so all along — which is how they became established — they wouldn’t be dining at the rear nipple today.) Bottom line? He’s urging the government to subsidize establishment media’s continued pursuit of what got it into trouble in the first place—under the guise of keeping us informed.

His concerns are misplaced, at best. As the need — or market — developed owing to establishment media’s shortcomings, others ably filled the void. Having largely supplanted the “major” networks’ news broadcasts, Fox News is doing quite well, in fact—as are numerous web-based organizations.

Are these emerging media forces perfect? Hardly. Notwithstanding Fox’s claims of “fair and balanced” reporting, some perceive a conservative slant to its presentations. I tend to agree—but hasten to add that any such tilt in no way approaches the degree of liberal bias found within the media establishment. Moreover, Fox’s coverage at least seems to be more extensive; though it clearly emphasizes certain stories, it doesn’t seem to be filtering-out as much as its competitors. Similarly, web sources like The Drudge Report, NewsBusters, PajamasMedia, and the Media Research Center have developed their own prodigious followings.

They’re doing what the establishment media mainstays did to get established, but later eschewed as they became more politicized: informing the public—and they are in no need of a government bail-out.

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Posted in blogosphere, Bollinger, corruption, federal bail-out, Fox News, JournoList, mainstream media, media corruption, media establishment, obama, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Tough Week for Logic

Posted by The Curmudgeon on July 13, 2010

Conventional wisdom and common sense take it on the chin

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) chief John Morton revealed last week that his agency had resources only to remove four hundred thousand illegal immigrants per year. That’s about 4% of the estimated eleven million believed to be here—with more arriving every day. This announcement comes on the heels of Arizona’s passage of tough new legislation for dealing with illegal immigrants, which (logically) federal officials might be expected to welcome as needed bolstering of their efforts.

And the Obama regime’s response to Arizona’s initiative?

It filed suit against the state for what it characterized as an attempt to preempt federal authority (you know: the job that the Feds haven’t been doing).

Sure. That makes a lot of sense. (Cue the old cartoon of the dopey dog intoning: “Du-uuh…dat sounds log-i-cul.”)

It was a busy week for the Department of Justice. Far from Arizona (Philadelphia, to be precise), another high-profile case reclaimed the public’s attention.

Remember the 2008 election? Now, remember the ugly specter of the New Black Panther Party goons clad in black paramilitary garb and berets, wielding clubs outside a polling place? Well, that’s called “voter intimidation”—and it’s a federal crime. The sort of red meat upon which Justice Department attorneys feed. Justice has an entire unit devoted to this kind of stuff—and one might imagine they were all chortling with glee over the ease with which they’d be able to make this case. In fact, the goons made it even easier by not bothering to show up for the trial. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Summary judgment. An easy, slam-dunk conviction. All that remained was sentencing.

…until Obama’s Justice Department arbitrarily dropped the case without official comment. (Cue the dopey mutt, again.)

Justice officials also announced, however, that they’d be investigating the case of Johannes Mehserle (a transit cop—and white), convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of Oscar Grant (who was being arrested at the time for his involvement in a public melee—and black). Meanwhile, comments and testimony furnished by former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams — assigned to the Voting Rights Section until his recent resignation — suggest a culture within Justice that vigorously prosecutes cases involving minority plaintiffs and white defendants, but seems to have no interest when the roles are reversed.

And then there’s NASA administrator Charles Bolden’s revelation that he was charged by Obama with the mission “…perhaps foremost, (to) find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science…and math and engineering.” (Sorry; even the dopey mutt’s scratching his head over this one.)

Of course, it could be argued that all this is, in fact, perfectly logical—but it makes no sense to us because we’re not viewing it all in the proper context.

For example, Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) recently revealed that during a private meeting with Obama, he’d reiterated his stance that the Mexican border must be secured before any comprehensive immigration reform measure could be considered. According to Kyl, Obama replied that “The problem is…if we secure the border, then you all (congressional Republicans) won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform.” Kyl added that “In other words, they’re holding it (border security) hostage. They don’t want to secure the border unless and until it is combined with comprehensive immigration reform.” This, despite Kyl’s reminding Obama that both the President and Congress have a duty and a responsibility to secure the border—immigration “reform” notwithstanding. It follows, then, that anything that serves to enhance border security or otherwise combat illegal immigration runs counter to Obama’s agenda—so, he sics the Justice Department on Arizona.

In other words: in Obamaworld, the megalomaniac-in-chief’s political aims trump his Constitutional duties, federal law, the will of the people, and pretty much everything else.

Make sense, now?

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Posted in ballot, border security, corruption, election, hate crimes, illegal aliens, immigration, immigration reform, muslim, national security, obama, politics, terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Not One of THOSE Days

Posted by The Curmudgeon on July 3, 2010

It’s the Fourth; celebrate it as such—and don’t spare the noise

 

We have certain occasions set aside for somber commemoration.

This ain’t one of ’em.

Memorial Day? Yes. By all means, solemn and somber. Veteran’s Day? Decidedly less so.

But…the Fourth of July?

Uh-uh.

John Adams wrote that Independence Day “…ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

Not quite my idea of a party.

But then, he wrote “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”

Now, that‘s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

This isn’t a time for somber reflection; it’s a CELEBRATION. Break out the fireworks, shoot-off a miniature cannon (if you have one), make some noise, and have a ball; that’s what the day is for. Crank-up the backyard grill. Fly the flag. The whole bit.

And lots of firecrackers.

I’ll freely admit that some of my fondest boyhood memories are of growing-up in a small town in central Ohio where The Fourth was a very big deal. The one day out of the year when simple, unbridled patriotism was welcome pretty much everywhere, when everyone pulled-out all the stops and had a good time. Every charcoal grill at every house for miles around worked overtime, assaulting the palate with that amalgam of smoke, barbecue sauce, roasted chicken, ribs, burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and marshmallows. We’d ride our bicycles gaudily festooned with red, white, and blue crepe paper, flags flew from everything that would support one, we were awash in the aroma of hundreds of pies baking, and delighted in our little one-horse town parade. Corn-on-the-cob dripping gobs of butter. Homemade ice cream. Watermelon.

The town’s leaders always did a good job of things, and various civic organizations pulled together to make the occasion memorable. There was a festival set up at the local high school football field, with sack races, three-legged races, wheelbarrow races, a greased-pig contest (does PETA even allow that, anymore?), a greased-pole climb, and stuff I can’t even remember now. We’d throw the baseball and try to dunk the chick in the swimsuit, chase the pig, and earnestly shinny-up the pole for that cherished $10 prize at the top. And food everywhere, with each food booth smelling as good as the one before and the one after, and it was impossible to get in trouble. Pie-eating contests. Watermelon-eating contests (and seed-spitting, of course).

And always the sporadic firecracker activity to punctuate the occasion.

It was a great day to be a kid. Or even a grown-up, for that matter.

After a hard day at play, it was back home to the real supper (after running the gauntlet of everyone else’s grills) in anticipation of the one fireworks display we’d see all year—which was always spectacular. As luck would have it, there’d always be ample opportunity for toasting marshmallows and a round of homemade ice cream (and cranking that monster was actually a labor of love—with the promise of its own near-instant gratification to provide the impetus to keep going) in the fading light before the feature presentation began.

It’s been said that part of the idea of having fireworks and other noise-makers for the Fourth was to re-create the sounds of guns, explosions, and cannon-fire, reminding us that we are a republic born of the fire of revolution. That works for me. (So, when some modern-day self-proclaimed do-gooder tries to get rid of the fireworks, bluntly direct him/her to someone else’s party to screw-up; this one’s supposed to be loud.)

I also recall reading many years ago a treatise by some music guru (using whatever criteria he’d determined; I don’t remember all the details) who explained that John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever was the most perfectly-conceived musical composition in history. That works for me, too. By all means, strike-up the band, fire-up those grills, and get those fuzes lit.

For this one day out of the year, we get corny, rousing music, fun, Sousa, and a helluva lot of Ka-BOOM‘s—all without having to listen to some egghead latter-day social genius or politician apologizing for all the things that he thinks we aren’t; rather, we simply celebrate who and what we are. And gobs of butter dripping from our corn-on-the-cob. And barbecue.

What could be more perfect?

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Posted in fireworks, fourth of july, Independence Day, patriotism | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »