Category Archives: opinion

Is 9-9-9 wrong, wrong, wrong ?

Caricatures: GOP Presidential Debate Participa...

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Ask any political PR person and they will tell you it’s great to have a catchy, roll-off-the-tongue, memorable catch phrase associated with a candidate. Unless that catch phrase is doomed to conjure up bad memories like trickle down economics or read my lips; no more taxes among many others. Herman Cain, of Godfather’s Pizza fame (he is the ex-CEO) and the Republican flavor of the month vying for their nomination to be the candidate for President, has such a catch phrase; 9-9-9.  While their field is plenty crowded with Gingrich, Romney, Perry, Bachman, Paul and others too numerous or insignificant to mention, none of them have the edge on the catchy 9-9-9 phrase that has defined Cain’s campaign. But, is it wrong to throw the rich, middle class and poor into the same tax barrel? Or, is it just plain stupid?

On Cain’s own website,  he says his 9-9-9 plan will “fix” the economy. It would abolish our entire tax code including any loopholes or tax credits (like the earned income tax credit for low-income earners) . His plan calls for 9 percent corporate tax, 9 percent personal income tax and 9 percent national sales tax. Cain says it would be simple and fair. I must be missing something here, I don’t see the “fair” part.  There would be no tax on capital gains or dividends so once again the rich get richer. Some of the rich that pay 28-35 percent taxes on their income would pay 9 percent and the 30 million Americans that presently pay no federal income tax because they don’t make enough to do so and are at or below the poverty level will pay 9 percent under Cain’s “simple” plan. All Americans will also have to pay 9 percent on consumer goods for gas, food and medicine etc. which of course, hurts lower-income people far more than the rich.

Since Cain’s plan is for everyone including businesses, all corporations that presently take advantage of every loophole known to mankind and typically end up paying on average 26 percent in taxes, will get a nice slash to 9 percent. Do you think they will take the tax cut and turn that windfall into jobs? Or will the greedy corporations just pocket the windfall and give their CEO’s bigger bonuses? I have my own answer on that one and it doesn’t involve helping others or aiding the general economy.

I am no economist. I don’t hail from a think tank and have a hard enough time balancing a check book but I do know that a catchy slogan does not an economy fix make. This plan is yet another idea from an ex-corporate CEO that still thinks like big business. Making the rich, richer and the poor, poorer is not my idea of “fair.” As it says on Herman Cain’s front page of his website in big block letters; “Let’s Get Real”. I can’t wait until he, or any other politician actually does–but I’m not holding my breath.

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Bloggers Shall Inherit the Earth–My 100th Blog Post

Computer-globe

Image via Wikipedia

This is my 100th blog post.  And while it isn’t the same type of milestone as say, my first bra or my first marriage it is still something I did 100 times and so could more than qualify for habit status. World of Psychology says that a habit can be formed in as little as 18 days on up to 254 days. The average they claim is about 66 days. While I am now in the habit of blogging, I feel like it is more of a necessity so that bloggers can inherit the earth.

We all know the meek are not going to inherit the earth no matter if God or anyone else says so. Lately the geeks have gotten in on the act and are pushing for the geeks to inherit the earth, just because they think they are so smart–and geeky. That’s not going to happen either because the geeks might be high-tech bastions of computer/internet/whatever  knowledge but many lack that ability to relate to the masses.

So that leaves us bloggers. The obvious reason that bloggers should inherit the earth is that we write about everything on earth. We dispense information like big-pharma dispenses pills–only better and faster and for free. We make people think, laugh and cry– often in the same post. We report on the news and more importantly on reactions to the news. We instruct people in every conceivable subject matter from baking, sewing, crafts, art, health and cooking to photography, writing, marketing, social media and affairs of the heart and soul. We bloggers are walking encyclopedias (quite an old word I know) of knowledge in our respective niches  and whether that is useful or useless knowledge is not for us to say–our readers will let us know.

I started blogging because I could pick my poison and write away. I was in the news business for years and of course, we had stringent guidelines to adhere to and other than my newspaper columns, my articles were void of opinion just as news stories should be (what a concept, huh). Blogging is very similar to writing a newspaper column with the potential to reach many more eyes. The WordPress platform is perfect for me because I’m no geek and the technical side is easier than other platforms but I do plan on self-hosting in the future (I suppose I’ll need a geek to help me).  Since my blog focuses on current news rants and raves (rarely raves) comments aren’t always agreeable but that’s okay.  Since I’m very opinionated I would expect my readers to be also. Controversy is just one step closer to inheriting the earth–and I need to be ready.

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Punditry is the New Black

Punditry is the new black (photo;Lightfoot)

We are becoming a nation of pundits.  Pundits have turned much of our news into a “style ” like the eternal little black dress and the idea that black is chic to wear everywhere and anytime. The problem is pundits should not be everywhere and anytime– it’s annoying.

The term pundit originated in the 17th century from the Hindu word Pandita, meaning “learned.”  A more recent American dictionary meaning of pundit is; usually an elderly person noted for wisdom, knowledge and good  judgement–an authority. Does this sound to you like anyone we see or hear, day in and day out on any of our 24/7 media outlets on TV, radio, print or web?  I can think of only a few pundits that fit this description because true pundits aren’t in-your-face constantly, they are too busy honing their expert skills.  People like Glenn Beck, Nancy Grace, Ann Coulter, Elliot Spitzer and Bill O’Reilly are considered pundits of politics, pop culture or law. So, obviously the meaning has evolved.

Do I value the judgement of pundits? Mostly, no. I do however, value my own judgement, so if you want to just hand me the unfiltered news I think I might be able to make heads or tails of it myself. On the other hand, I would be open to a well-researched, knowledgeable opinion from someone totally in-the-loop, an expert in the field, as it were. Any takers?

The pundit label has a much more casual meaning today in a sort of casual-Friday type way. It seems you can sort-of  have knowledge and kind-of  have wisdom and flip-flop that good judgement around like well–flip-flops. Even some of the pundits that I sometimes agree with like Ed Schultz or Rachel Maddow of MSNBC , get on their TV and radio soap boxes and talk til’ I drop.  I like opinion, I even have one but I don’t necessarily need it dissected and spoon fed to me, with a dose of  bias lacking in any facts, which some pundits are prone to do.

Some radio pundits show their knowledge to listeners by cutting off their callers with differing views and TV pundits have been known to cry and yell on the air, in order to get across their infinite wisdom. These people are doing nothing to elevate the stature of pundit. There really should be levels. We have A list and B list movie stars, why not common ratings for pundits?

A “real” pundit should have the knowledge and credentials to back up an informed opinion.  It wouldn’t even hurt for some topics, to expect pundits to have serious academic or scholarly experience in a subject.  A kind of,  know-before-you-go type of thing rather than a shoot-from-the-hip style. I’ve actually heard people say that many years ago in media land, experts or pundits used to at least attempt to be unbiased and didn’t affiliate themselves with a specific movement or even align themselves with media outlets–imagine that!

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Let’s Whitewash Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and Wipe Out History

Cover of "The Adventures of Huckleberry F...

Cover via Amazon

I love books. I have too many (if that’s possible) and  I particularly like the classics, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. My very old copies of these books among others, sit behind glass in an old barrister bookcase in a place of honor. The reason I like the classics is because they give us a glimpse into what was.

So, it was with great sadness and shock that I read recently in the New York Times and Publishers Weekly that an editor, Alan Gribben, a reported Mark Twain scholar at Auburn University took it upon himself to change the written word of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain).  He struck all mention of the word “nigger” and “injun Joe” in the books and replaced them with the words slave and indian. Why any “scholar” would think that these words are interchangeable is beyond my comprehension. Sometime in February the new politically correct, whitewashed version of these books will be published by NewSouth Books for student/classroom use.

Gribben said he felt a need for this change because many teachers felt “uncomfortable” teaching this book to students because of the words “nigger” and “injun”. Well, we should all feel uncomfortable with these words but the teachers are missing the boat on making it a teachable moment in explaining to kids just what it was like over 100 years ago. It was not a pretty time in our history of how blacks were treated, whitewashing the words does not wipeout what was done. This is not like the re-make of an old movie, this is distorting history to make things look better than they really were. This is falsifying  Mark Twain’s words so the teachers of today can feel more comfortable. Here is a passage from the forward page of my old Huckleberry Finn book written by the author:

“In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods. South-Western dialect; the ordinary Pike County dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but pains-takingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech. I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.  The Author.”

Since both books are in the public domain and long past their copyright, Gribben can make changes and the publisher, NewSouth, can print tons of copies and make big bucks distributing to schools where the books have been banned or simply not taught because of fear of reality. In the mean time, kids everywhere will still want to gets their hands on the original because it has been “banned” or changed,  just like I did as a kid with Lolita and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  And of course, maybe they won’t understand it as well as if a teacher had taken the time to explain the history, culture and vernacular of 1884 and how far we have come.

But, I’m sure for NewSouth Books this is just the tip of the iceberg. I can see them with dollar signs in their eyes now,  going after Uncle Tom’s Cabin and turning it into a condo.

 

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ABC’s “The View” where Whoopi and Joy better agree with your view

The morning ABC gabfest known as “The View“, where differing views are supposed to be welcome, according to Barbara Walters on an early promo for the show, probably could use a new promo.  It should read something like; “If Whoopi Goldberg or Joy Behar don’t like your view, then they will take their toys…er I mean views and walk off the stage and embarrass themselves and the show, because they are not bright enough or quick witted enough to stand their ground against opposing forces.”  Or bullies like Bill O’Reilly.

The guy is a big bag of wind and they let him command the show this week like it was his own. I mean, four women against one guy (I don’t count Elisabeth Hasselbeck) and he still came out a winner even if you totally disagreed with what he said. Just in case you haven’t seen or heard what happened this week on The View, even though it has been on every news, radio and comedy program in the last 24 hours, probably worldwide, in a nutshell: O’Reilly came on the show and mentioned that 70% of people don’t want the a mosque in the area of the 9/11 tragedy. He said Muslims attacked us and most people don’t want a mosque there as a memory. Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg went nuts and said he should have said “terrorist Muslims” and not just said Muslims because it was not right to defame all Muslims. He said he wasn’t defaming all Muslims and that everyone knows that it was terrorist Muslims that attacked us. In other words it was semantics.

I watched the show as it happened and Barbara Walters looked, flustered and upset. She apologized to viewers and stated that her colleagues should not have walked out. Evidently O’Reilly apologized (according to Behar) and they came back on the set but Behar would not sit next to him as she had been previously and moved her seat. They supposedly left because they said they were upset by his words. 

But, the part I don’t get besides the totally unprofessional antics of walking off their own show is; Why would these two liberals (Goldberg and Behar) not stick around and push their liberal agenda in his face?  Aren’t liberals supposed to be tolerant?  Aren’t liberals supposed to stand up and fight for what is right?  Instead they walked out making themselves look so foolish, I could hardly believe my eyes. They didn’t even try to kick him on their way out or say anything meaningful or smart or even clever (and these two are comedians). They let O’Reilly get the upper hand on their own show. Walters knew it immediately and had to be ready to kill these two.

In the heat of the arguing before Goldberg and Behar left, O’Reilly was very condescending to Behar and at one point even told her to “listen and you might learn ” instead of coming back with a caustic comment  or quip that she is known for, she childishly stuck her  fingers behind his head in a ridiculous display not suitable for ANY talk show host on National TV. This was teenage stuff. I was embarrased for her.

I’ve never been a Bill  O’Reilly fan and I do occasionally watch the view. I’m still not an O’Reilly fan and my View watching days are over. If I wanted to watch screaming and yelling I could turn on Springer, at least they are real white trash. Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar are phony liberals and classless acts at that.

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Are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert our “real” news media?

What does it say for journalism today when the best and most accurate news is delivered by comedians such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? It says a lot, actually. It says that somebody over at Comedy Central does their homework and research. It says that even though their news “bits” are funnier than hell, their opinion based news is actually founded on FACT. Imagine that. Opinion based on fact and not “made-up stuff”.

It’s no wonder that a Time magazine poll last year named Stewart the most trusted man in news. He has literally replaced the deceased Walter Cronkite. And no, that is not a joke but most of our main stream media is. Both Stewart and Colbert (or their staffs) actually go digging for news. They call out our politicians on their absurdity and lies. In the old days they called this “investigative journalism”. Today it is called Comedy Central.

Thanks to the social news website of http://www.reddit.com  Stewart and Colbert will be holding dueling rallies at the Washington D.C. Mall Oct. 30. Stewart’s is called “Rally to Restore Sanity” and Colbert’s dubs his “March to Keep Fear Alive.” While they are obviously both parodies of Glenn Beck’s recent “Restoring Honor Rally” in the same location and on the date of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, (which many thought was awful timing) they joke that maybe 400 million people could show up.

Joseph Laughlin, who frequents the Reddit site started the ball rolling recently by putting up a message that said Colbert should hold a satirical rally in response to Becks’s rally. He started the campaign rolling and it took off. He and a handful of other Reddit commentors started sending messages across the country in e-mails, Facebook, Twitter and any other means they could find. They even raised $240,000 for one of Colbert’s favorite charities to entice him. It worked.

It will be more than “funny” to see how Fox, ABC,NBC,CBS,CNN,MSNBC et al, handle this rally. Will they “cover” it like they did Beck’s rally, acting like it was “real” news. Will they distort the number of people who show up in order to downplay the power of people and humor. Will they even understand that although it is satire, the crowd that does show up is among other things, thumbing their noses at the main stream media and its robotic and shallow reporting of what really is going on in America today?

Will there be a politician alive who will understand that this is an outlet for frustrated and unhappy voters to vent, mingle and maybe with a whole lot of humor, decide to vote them out of office? I guess we’ll all have to tune-in and see..

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The Fox News viewer primer

The definition of a fox; carnivorous, alert, mammal, most are predators, sly, crafty, to bewilder or baffle, cunning, confuse, to trick or fool. That pretty much sums up FOX News for me. Lest they be mistaken for a “fair and balanced” news outlet, I feel a Fox News viewer primer is in order because as we all know what you see isn’t always what you get.
1. If Glenn Beck starts crying on air it is what is known in the biz as a diversion/tactic. He has either run out of news copy, forgot what he was supposed to say, can’t make up stuff fast enough or has run out of guests. Sure to bewilder and baffle.
2. If Bill O’Reilly is doing a full-blown on-air apology, you better believe that someone who has a better than 50/50 chance of winning has threatened to sue his/Fox’s you-know-what. Crafty indeed.

3. If you see or hear a headline on Fox News that has little or no connection to the actual news story they ultimately show or tell do not be concerned. This is part and parcel of their “fair and balanced” policy. Some parts of the story can be fair, or the headline can be balanced or parts of the story can be balanced or some of the headline can be fair or everything can be just made up. Confusing? Of course.

4. In a real news world there is a distinct line between “news” and “editorial commentary”. One is of course, fact and the other is opinion.  Most good commentators use facts as a basis for an opinion.  In the Fox News world it appears the boundary lines are skewed. With opinion showing up as fact, opinion being based on a right-wing and a prayer  and facts either obscured or deleted. Cunning indeed.

5. Fox News has many names. Some self-imposed, some handed out by viewers or non-viewers. So if you hear people call it Faux News or Faux Noise or as  www.msnbc.com Keith Olbermann recently coined “the Perpetual Fraud Machine” it is one and the same. By the same token if you hear Fox News on-air “personalities” referred to as bobble-heads, Barbie dolls and if I only had a brain commentators, these too are the real deal Fox staffers.

Just in case you might think that Fox is indeed a predator and trying to trick or fool us into believing that everything they say is true, fair and balanced , you would be correct.  But by knowing this we have already out-foxed them.

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