Monday, January 27, 2014

The Sad State of Affairs of our "News Media"

Well, took a bit to get this into my blog, but it has really steamed me.  I first heard about it via Glenn Greenwald's twitter feed.

What happened was that on MSNBC, while interviewing a Congresswoman about the NSA and the recent critical report, MSNBC and Andrea Mitchell interrupted the interview with - news of Justin Beiber's arrest and court hearing.  Yes, that's right.  You can easily find the video online - here's a good one.

First - are Americans so apathetic and dumbed down that we actually consider Bieber to be more important than the NSA scandal?  Well, looks like MSNBC thinks so.  And look at most of the news programs... too much "pop culture", celebrity scandals (they were all over the 'Duck Dynasty' controversy) and such.  I don't know if there has been any dedicated program which has really looked at the issues involved with the NSA spying.  And as I may have said before on this blog, I can remember a dedicated news program about the Pentagon Papers with reporters giving  the arguments for both the NYT and WP and also the government.  Where is that coverage today?

Second - I wondered about this and some commenters on different uploads of the MSNBC video did as well - was this really to be a distraction from the issue at hand?  I wondered about this particularly since the report they were talking about was critical of the NSA. 

So people - wake up!  Demand decent coverage of this and other critical issues.  Search for good information.  I know that can be hard to find, but search we must.   And let's get our priorities straight and insist the news media get theirs straight as well. 

The real sentiments of the 1%?

Well, what have we here? I have heard of the letter by venture capitalist Tom Perkins just published in the Wall Street Journal.  What an outrageous read.  Here's a story about it.  Oh dear; does he really think all his riches are in jeopardy?  I'm guessing they are not.

Don't let him/them get away with this!  If there is a class war - it's the 1% waging war against the rest of us.  If you do any reading on the subject of income inequality, I think you'll find it's clear that the 1 %ers  have used every advantage they have to influence things to go their way.  I hope everyone remembers the outrage over "Citizens United"; let's see if efforts to amend the Constitution to address this will ever come to fruition.  That's just the tip of things, however.  If one looks around, it's pretty easy to see tricks, ploys, and yes, policies leading to economic disempowerment of so many.

He vents against those in San Francisco protesting the Google buses.  Well, I don't begrudge them being frustrated at seeing such a blatant symbol of elite privilege as they're priced out of their own neighborhoods.  And he vents against the Occupy Movement.  Really?  A very peaceful movement with good ideas percolating that was all but squashed by "the powers that be." 

Certainly, I don't believe in violence, but I do feel that we 99%ers MUST find ways to unite and work toward some common goals leading toward more empowerment.  We've let ourselves be divided for too long.  It's time to join hands and look for ways to work together, move forward together, challenge the system and make real progress for everyone. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Smoke and Mirrors

No, I didn't watch Obama's speech outlining WH reaction to reports prompted by NSA spying revelations.  I'm not disappointed I missed it.

I wasn't expecting much in the way of meaningful reform (I was wishing anyway, though) and what was posited was pretty cosmetic and had no real teeth. For a good analysis, read Glenn Greenwald's article for The Guardian here.  He did a fine job and it was good to see him writing at The Guardian. 

Take some time and peruse the comments, too.  Some of them are quite good.  One poster wanted to know what we can do. First, people need to wake up.  As I've said many times, I cannot believe there's no great outrage about this.  Second, there needs to be some way to collectively organize to really have an effect.  We must not let the issue "go away."  We must let them know we will not be satisfied with cosmetic reforms, but only with real change and real privacy protections. 

I've always believed in prayer and that might be a good start.  But let's remember a saying of my one (late) office mate.  He was also an ordained minister and he would say, "You have to put feet on your prayers."  in this case, we definitely need to find ways to do that.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

JFK and New Year's Countdown

Happy New Year to everyone!  If you've read the post title you may be wondering what the two have in common.

Late last night, er, early this morning, I got to watch a replay of the ceremony in Dallas commemorating the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination.  I'd wanted to see it as I was eager to hear David McCullough's remarks.

He recited many JFK quotes and this snippet really hit me:  "I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world, not only for its strength, but for its civilization as well."

Why did this quote hit home for me?  Well, maybe I'm just being a curmudgeon now that I'm over - well, you can guess  what age I might mean - but what I saw last night (and have been seeing) on the tube - well, I just have to shake my head.  I tried a couple of channels having countdowns in NYC.  Sorry, but what passes for humor these days just leaves me cold.  There was also one snippet of a musical performance or video, whatever, that I caught before I switched channels. I found it pretty tasteless.  Oh, and NBC - when that last minute of the year comes, I want to see the ball fall, not your 'personalities'!!!

So when I heard Mr. McCullough speak those words, my recent viewing experience immediately came to mind.  What kind of civilization are we becoming?  I thought the arts were to inspire, to lift up.  I won't even say what I think of some of the "art" stuff - popular culture or what have you - around these days. And humor?  We all like to laugh, right?  But so much of the humor these days is either trashy or mean.

If we want to command respect for our civilization, surely we need to elevate our arts, humor, public discussions.  I wonder if people are now so far removed from the kind of art and discussion that elevates that they've forgotten or don't know what it can be like.  President and Mrs. Kennedy did much to support the arts during his administration.  But this needs to continue both at the official and grassroots levels.

So stand up, people.  If we support better art, humor, discussion, maybe we'll actually get more of it.