Number of posts: 19
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By Jon Sinton:
Our Only Hope
While you were surfing the Internet, consuming video on-demand, texting on your smartphone, chatting on Facebook, or Tweeting about playing Halo 18, Neil Postman’s seminal 1985 work, Amusing Ourselves to Death, was coming true. Postman correctly predicted that while we were on guard against George Orwell’s Big Brother in the dystopian classic, 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World–the one where entertainment and self-indulgent behavior allows the political class to pull a fast one–emerged into our consciousness fully-formed.
We have awakened from our amusements, well, some of us, anyway, to find a world gone mad.
Playing Small Ball
OK, excellent outcome. Not a mandate, but clearly a rebuke to Republicans’ misguided belief that hate and division can again pass for vision. Their pundits employed “selection bias,” the phenomenon where you pick the information that suits your argument (Karl Rove, Peggy Newnan, Rasmussen Polling, The Wall Street Journal, Talk Radio and Fox News) rather than the facts (Nate Silver). If you’re scoring at home, that’s Science 1 – Wishful Thinking 0.
The two headlines have to be Science and Demographics.
Ignorance or Magical Thinking
A friend was getting abused for her liberal thinking. Facebook “friends” were relentless in their bullying, minimizing her relevance, and denigrating her personally. She ultimately made a more peaceful existence online by un-friending them. She is a wise and good person. A college professor with a huge heart, and intellect to match. This was truly upsetting to her, and she decided to let it go and live in peace, while noting that they treat me differently. It is not just because I give as good as I get. I try to be reasoned, respectful and logical. Here’s how I answered her:
The mood was sour last week at Netroots Nation 2012, the seven year-old gathering of progressive political activists who have come together, and come of age, online.
Two days before they arrived for the four-day conference in Providence, Rhode Island, Wisconsin voters opted to keep Scott Walker, the embattled Republican governor who laid waste to collective bargaining rights for teachers, firefighters and cops. His victory was aided by enormous amounts of out of state money, the result of 2010’s Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision that said corporations are people…
The Common Good
I recently served on a panel at the 64th Annual Conference on World Affairs that was titled “How Liberals Think,” a question I’ve pondered as long as I can remember. Beyond the classic dictionary [New Oxford American Dictionary] definition, “open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values; favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms; and (in a political context) favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform,” let’s address it as the more fundamental question: Which side of history do you want to be on?
Martin was fourteen years old when his father first walked him to the United States. From the poor little Central Mexican village of San Miguel, the walk should take seven days. Sometimes, it took only six. Once, it took 11 days. And the time it took 15 days – they were lost – the party of itinerant workers ate snake (“Not very good, but you will eat it if you are hungry enough”), and armadillo (“Better than pork!”). They were happy not only to have food, but to have tasty food. The armadillo was charred on the outside, owing to a very hot cooking fire, but was quite juicy on the inside. Martin felt the juices running down his chin. It wasn’t until the next morning when he looked at his father in the daylight, that he realized how undercooked the armadillo really was and that he, as well as the rest of the party, was also covered in armadillo blood.
The knee jerk reaction of many, if not all, right wing hosts was to vilify and minimize a rather ill defined but decisively moral movement. While making fun of stuff we fear (or don’t understand) never loses its charm, this is a loose movement that many in our audience relate to positively. I think Limbaugh and Hannity were far too quick to tease and stereotype the protesters as vagabond hippies. In actuality, it’s teachers, fire fighters and cops upset by layoffs and the loss of collective bargaining rights, families distraught over upside down mortgages after their tax dollars bailed out the very banks who won’t loan to them and are trying to foreclose on their houses, and college graduates with big student loan liabilities and no job prospects.
There is more opinion masquerading as fact in the 24/7 cable “news” world than is good for our culture. It’s really profitable, and it drives a political agenda. Money and power are not strangers. They usually appear together, like peanut butter and jelly, or Penn and Teller.
And the folks who work for Fox news, as well as the big radio talkers, have so cowed the mainstream (“lamestream,” thanks, Sarah) media that they have lost a lot of the courage that made them great, once upon a time.
When musicians in the ’60s and ’70s spoke about social issues through song, we listened, and we acted. They didn’t care if it sold records. I’m not going to go all Tilty McGillicuty on today’s vapid, formulaic and gimmicky reality “stars.” That’s not the purpose here. Mostly they will be one-hit wonders, while a few, like, oddly enough, Lady Gaga, have important social messaging in their music that may stand the test of time. Primarily today’s stars are famous for being famous, and writing about fame without achievement seems hardly worth the electrons.
I remain hopeful that the next new song I hear will the best I’ve ever heard. I am neither closed off to the new, nor overly nostalgic for the old. But this short post wishes only to explore how music once moved a generation to political action.
Almost nine years ago, my once and future business partner, the effervescent (that is certainly the nicest thing anyone, his dear departed mother included, has ever called him) talk show host, Mike Malloy, called to inform me of two things. One, in spite of his surprisingly high ratings, he had just been fired from WLS, the 50,000 watt, clear-channel ABC owned and operated AM radio station in Chicago, and two, I was about to get a call from some well-heeled listeners who wanted to put him on the air nationally.
Let’s discuss the MSNBC suspension of Keith Olbermann for making campaign contributions, and thereby relinquishing what claim to impartiality he, and by extension, his employer, might otherwise have been able to claim this election season.
Before the advent of media outlets like Fox News Channel, The Drudge Report, The Daily Kos and many others, there was no discussion necessary. Everyone who worked for traditional news agencies knew the rules: no endorsements, no contributions, and no public discussion of your political proclivities.
We’ve lived through the deluge of TV ads, robo-calls and inane horse-race coverage. Election 2010 is behind us. My question is: will the slash and burn fervor prevail across the board, or will some really important things get done? Here’s a big one: Infrastructure. We can put a bunch of people back to work and improve our national capacity for production and quality of life in one fell swoop. I found some stuff that will blow your mind. Read on.
This is a test of our politicians and media to answer a wake up call. Thus far, they have failed …
It’s highly fashionable right now to appear in the opinion pages of newspapers and on cable TV with outraged cries for an end to government funding of NPR in light of what critics call the unfair firing of Juan Williams. Mr. Williams (now) famously expressed what some are gleefully calling a politically incorrect opinion regarding his rising fear factor when Muslims board airplanes with him.
There are actually two issues in play here, one small: public sources of NPR funding, and one large: whether it is improper for a news analyst to express personal opinions on an opinion-driven network.
Loosely Tight: The Dukes of September featuring Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs and Donald Fagen in concert at Verizon Amphitheatre, Atlanta, August 26, 2010.
While it lacked the precision of a Steely Dan concert, the laconic sway of a Boz Scaggs concert or the drive of a Doobies Bros. concert, The Dukes of September was a steady entertainment that probably heralds the next big thing in Retirement Rock, but more on that in minute.
The sell off of Air America’s assets and the ensuing discussion, including the observation in Radio-Info.com (see below) Monday that “the air is out of Air America,” followed by Jerry DeMink’s incisive and rather damning comments Tuesday have me thinking. I realize that as the founding president of Air America, whatever I say sounds self-serving, but Jerry really raises a larger question about the radio industry and what motivates the people running it …
With Campbell Brown’s announcement that she will leave the network as soon as a replacement is found, CNN continues to flounder. Like the neighbor’s unfortunately—if appropriately—named pet bunny, Tick-Tock, who was woefully unprepared for the savagery of the family dog, CNN is overwhelmed, and time is running out for the first cable news channel.
It was good to hear CNN Chairman Jim Walton talk about commitment to news in the up-front ad sales meetings in New York a couple weeks ago. CNN USA President Jonathan Klein says he is also committed to a down-the-middle, real news organization. It’s precisely what CNN should be, but they lack the tools to succeed.
CNN’s informal daytime tone feels like local news. The anchors are too casual, and frankly, they don’t seem that well informed. News should drive daytime. Authority is the first casualty of informality, yet authority is the best card CNN has to play.
This is a story of natural partnerships that may not seem so at first blush. I guess it’s a story about the best that people can be, made real by the worst that people can be.
A couple of weeks ago, in my capacity as syndicator of the radio/online program “Ring of Fire,” I attended a national legal conference. One of our show’s hosts, Mike Papantonio, a leading class-action attorney, is also the event’s host. (Our other hosts are author and political savant, David Bender, and Pap’s law partner, environmental super lawyer, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) Through the years, this conference has afforded me the opportunity of meeting some great speakers, from Bill Clinton to Terry Bradshaw.
When I was a kid in the ’50s and ’60s, government service was cool. There didn’t seem to be a huge difference between my dad who sold cars and my friend’s dad who worked for the Department of Agriculture. There wasn’t a huge disparity in our families’ incomes. Both worked honest, respectable jobs.
It’s taken a good 30 years since Ronald Reagan first uttered the words, “Government is not the answer to our problem, government is the problem,” for the complete and utter vilification of government to take place.
The signs are everywhere. Glenn Beck hates the government.
I’m done with the market. Individuals are the suckers as in “The Suckers Money.”
The truth is out: Lehman Brothers? They were liars. Morgan Stanley? Whoops, they were liars too. Michael Lewis’s astonishing new book “The Big Short,” lays it all out …
The sophistication of the Wall Street banks’ complicity in the offenses that led to the economic tragedy that I presume we will refer to in the future as the Great Recession, stands in stark contrast to conservative talk host Neal Boortz’s default setting, which is to blame the victims.