Camera-people—Reset the Stage (2017Sep28)


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Thursday, September 28, 2017                                        4:01 AM

Camera-people—Reset the Stage   (2017Sep28)

Trump ran his campaign as if it were a live sequel to his TV game show, playing the crowd, trading dignity for attention. Now his presidency is more of the same. And I know, now that he’s president, you news-people can’t NOT cover his statements. But I have a suggestion….

Please stop forcing us all to watch Trump’s compulsive, neurotic hand-semaphoring. If you would simply zoom in tighter on his face, we wouldn’t have to deal with his wormy finger-dances—and, we could get a good look at those beady little eyes while he’s lying to us.

And if he shifts out of frame—let him. He’s been disrespecting the office and the spirit of the nation since he waltzed into politics. If he can’t speak calmly to one camera in direct address (like a president) that’s his problem—it’s not your job to help him make this into some ‘reality series’. He’s a goddamned government official—give him his camera but, please, don’t give him a stage.

Media Backs New Hitler (2016Sep10)


Saturday, September 10, 2016                                          11:26 AM

Is there anything Trump can do or say that will deter people from voting for him? Is there anything he can say that will finally push the media to report it as a lie, instead of just reporting his quote, and having a debate over it? Will this toxic confluence of media sensationalism, nationalism, and misogyny actually propel a border-line-psycho ignoramus into the Oval Office, edging out the best potential leader our country has ever seen?

They say the best way to win a fight is to act like a madman—it unnerves the opponent. This is the first time that strategy has been employed in an election campaign—because, prior to now, people who act crazy have been disqualified by the voters. Apparently, we now have voters for whom ‘crazy’ is acceptable. When fact-checkers report that 95% of what a person says is False, that usually disqualifies as well. But in this election, it actually helps Trump, because one of his lies is that ‘we can’t trust Hillary Clinton’.

I admire the way Trump obscures his total lack of experience by accusing Hillary of not fixing anything for thirty years—yes, she has done the hard work of public service, for thirty years, and more. But she hasn’t been President for thirty years—blaming her for all the (supposed) mistakes of her husband or Obama or Democrats generally—that only works on Survivor or The Apprentice. It shouldn’t be working in an election—it should be disqualifying in an election.

If a seventy-year-old visits one black church for the first time in his life, does that erase his racism? If his close friend, the alleged sex-assaulter, isn’t an ‘official’ member of his team, does that erase his chauvinism? If the one unchanging feature of his ‘supporter-commentators’ is that they never answer a direct question, does that make him a man we can rely on?

One thing that Hillary has done for thirty years is study policy—most of Trump’s policies (if you can call ‘secrets’ policies) are thirty days old, if that. When are we going to stop harassing Hillary about non-issues, like her emails, or Benghazi, or the CGI—and start asking questions about the millions of dollars wasted on investigating, interrogating, and always, eventually, vindicating her?

And, speaking of, why is Hillary the only person in America who can be accused, investigated, cleared—and still be guilty? That’s not a conviction, that’s a wish. And the media, apparently, is in the wish-fulfillment business—always talking about Hillary’s unfavorables as if she had earned then, when they’ve been dishonestly smeared on her, and embraced by people who ‘just don’t like her’. Hillary’s unfavorables say nothing about the woman herself, they are a verdict of ‘ignorant’ against the public. Why do we never hear discussion about why people are gullible enough to fall for dirty-tricks politics?

Media people, enjoy those high ratings—much good may they do you when our new Hitler takes the oath (with his fingers crossed, no doubt).

I Can’t Look (2016Aug25)


Thursday, August 25, 2016                                               12:08 PM

Slowly we turn, step by step…. Please, God, let this fuckin election be over. The Congress decided to sleep for eight years and the media have decided the people should sleep through these last two years (in solidarity?), mesmerized by the incessant drumbeat, ‘Clinton or Trump? Clinton or Trump?’

Completely outside the issue of that question being similar to ‘Gourmet Meal or Shit Sandwich?’, surely there are other things, other issues, other people in this world that we could spare a few seconds of attention on. I am constantly frustrated by so-called journalists reporting on the squeaky wheels of the world—has Research become completely forbidden? Is it impossible for newspeople to report anything other than the voices of spin-doctors, to find a story that doesn’t already have armed camps facing each other with oppositional memes? You know—actual news (as in new information).

The TV News has a tradition of arriving at the scene of an event, finding the stupidest person on the sidewalk nearby and asking their ‘opinion’ about what just happened. Nobody likes it, nobody gets any smarter because of it, but no one can seem to stop them from this exercise in inanity.

But today, they have a new thing—they don’t have to go looking for the stupidest person anymore—they just quote Trump’s blather-of-the-day, and call it news reporting. That’s beyond lazy—especially as they inject no hint of judgment or fact-checking—they simply parrot his words—as if they had meaning. News Fail. Get it together, cable news.

The thing that really gets me is when the media harps on Hillary Clinton’s ‘untruthfulness’—they can’t say her name without repeating this popular theme. And don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying she’s a paragon of honesty. But if they must add that ‘popular opinion’ to every mention of her, can’t they also always add that studies find her exceptionally honest compared to other politicians? Can’t they add mention of the fact that while it’s popular to call Clinton a liar—it is also incorrect? Why is that so hard? Are they afraid that confronting their listeners with the facts might turn them away?

This bothers me because I empathize. If the world thought me a liar, and I wasn’t, and all I heard from the news was repetition of the opinion that I lie, without any mention of the fact that I didn’t lie—well, I’d be pretty unhappy about that. Wouldn’t you? And what ever happened to being wrong? If Hillary Clinton says anything that turns out to be incorrect, she’s never wrong—she’s always ‘a liar’. If we follow that logic, we must elect Hillary Clinton—we could use a president who is never wrong.

I wouldn’t even be writing this rant right now—I was trying to relax and watch the news on TV. But rumor, fallacy, and claptrap are not my idea of news reporting. I can’t watch it. But I keep going back, vainly hoping for some common sense. What a fool I am. Journalism as a popularity contest just doesn’t work—telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear may be profitable, but it hurts us, where it used to help us. It distracts us where it used to inform us. Like reality TV, it shows a semblance of reality that has been curated for entertainment value.

The death of print journalism has gutted the research departments of all the great journalism sources—the news today practically feeds on itself, working as hard, now, to share from other sources as they used to work on out-researching other sources. Reporters are flying blind, with virtually no back-up troops to dig into records, archives, interviews, analysis, or do good old shoe-leather research.

Yet the media has more news-channels and more hours of the day needing to fill those channels. It’s not a good situation. The public is no longer being informed—we are being curated by different media-moguls, fighting each other to indoctrinate their audience in their private agendas—journalism as a public service is nothing more than a legend from our glorious past. I miss Huntley & Brinkley. I miss Cronkite. I miss the news.

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Dear CNN   (2016Aug16)


Tuesday, August 16, 2016                                       9:31 AM

Dear CNN:

Since when did crazy-stupid become the ‘other side’ of the issue? In my day, we called that the ‘wrong’ side—and we didn’t broadcast it to lower the IQ of every viewer.

You’re presenting a narrative: “See the clash of ignorant belligerence against mature probity!” That’s not news, that’s story-telling. When a presidential candidate cites the National Inquirer as his information source—that’s news. The cotton-candy he spins from it—that’s not news.

When a grandmother faces down a prosecutor-packed congressional inquiry for nine hours—and sails through, leaving them the more exhausted side—that’s news. Childish carping that she may not have ‘stamina’—from a seventy-year-old who ought to know better—doesn’t meet that threshold.

CNN, you have fallen into the bad habit of reporting on what Donald Trump says as if he is not purposely manipulating the public—as if his words have the substance they lacked in his last hundred statements. Come back down to Earth and join the rest of us, who know that his pouty vitriol is an expression of venom, not a pronouncement from some learned sage.

You have made the chiron-title ‘Trump supporter’ a synonym for deluded neurotic—they are like the old zoo-animal ‘guests’ Johnny Carson sometimes had on the Tonight Show—they can make a brief TV appearance, but they need to be ushered off before they bite someone, or poop on the news-desk.

We thought we were considering a serious GOP candidate for president—why is it exactly like having an argument with a petulant pre-schooler? I know that you want to support democracy in America—which makes it impossible for you to admit that there is only one person to vote for this election. Democracy has to be a contest. In that sense, I suppose Trump has let CNN down as badly as he has the GOP. I sympathize.

But ask yourselves—does ‘fairness’ exist without reference to common sense? Does ‘balanced’ require the acceptance of every convoluted, partisan serving of word-salad? Have you any idea how hungry we are?—how badly we need to hear one of your anchors say to one of these spokes-goblins, “Enough! You make less sense than a monkey doing mathematics. Get your ignorant, unethical, nonsensical mouth off my set.” How we would cheer.

Drunks Tussling   (2016Feb27)


Saturday, February 27, 2016                                             4:33 PM

In a reasonable world, Hillary Clinton would win the presidential race in a walk—and if I’m living in an unreasonable world, I’d just as soon not have my face rubbed in it. If, god forbid, a Republican did win, that would be a tragic-enough disaster, without making me listen to these people—as I have already for more than a year—for the rest of this year. I’ve listened to them ad nauseam—and in their case, that’s about three minutes in—do I really have to bear the sound of Trump’s voice until November? Hasn’t he said enough idiotic things?

I remember our last Republican president—do you? He was an idiot—he got us in a war by mistake—he destroyed our economy—he didn’t speak in complete sentences—and what sentences he managed to get out had made-up words in them. Cruz or Rubio would be just as bad—maybe worse—and the nightmare scenario of a Trump presidency conjures up the movie-title-to-be: “The Return Of Fascism” or maybe “The Rise Of American Fascism”.

We are all aware that there is a contest between these three Republicans—it’s all the news, all the time—but to me it resembles a bunch of drunks tussling on the sidewalk just outside a bar-room—my concern for who wins is nothing compared to my concern that a cop will come along and get them off the street before a passer-by gets hurt. But there are no cops on CNN, or in journalism generally. News shows can keep airing this stuff—but I’ve got better ways to spend my time than watching a stupidest-man contest.

Likewise, while I appreciate Bernie forcing Hillary to add a focus on income inequality to her platform—I don’t want to hear any more about how he’s going to make college, health-care, and whatever else, free for everyone—yes that’s the way it should be—there are a lot of things that aren’t the way they should be in this country—but nothing happens on inauguration day—and Hillary is better prepared for the day after inauguration—both domestically and internationally. I don’t think Bernie supporters understand what a president actually does—I think they think he or she’s a wizard who makes a decree, and changes things all by himself or herself.

So that’s it between me and the news—I’ll wait to hear from other people about anything important. Hillary should win—and even if she doesn’t—that’s just more reason not to spend until November listening to all of this back-and-forth BS. Seeing as how our government is already broken, I think it’s a pretty sweet gig—getting a free pass on all the work our government should be doing while we all have a two-year long conversation about the Donald. I’m sure the folks in Flint, MI or Hoosick Falls, NY are glued to their sets. If I ran CNN, I’m pretty sure I could find more interesting stuff to report on—but fans of ‘The Apprentice’ might tune out the news—and that’s a huge demographic. I can hear it now: “Mr. Dunn, you’re fired.”

Ah, America—I hardly knew ye.

Enough. Here’s today’s improv:

Breaking News: The Day After Christmas (2015Dec26)


Saturday, December 26, 2015                                           12:33 PM

The affectionate whip has snapped and lies still—all its uncoiled energy came to a head with the crack of Christmas—and it is now hung coiled and still on a hook on the wall. We wake to the absence of holiday and the unnatural warmth of winter in a world out of balance—as if petrol prices weren’t low enough, the eastern seaboard is sporting shorts to New Year’s Eve parties.

The Stock Exchange reminds me of the Republican party—good news for humankind (the unexpectedly speedy, easy progress of conversion to alternative energy) is bad news for Wall Street—which is the same as saying it’s bad news for the fat cats. The petroleum industry, combined with the military-industrial arms-makers, make humanity’s doom the largest global profit center—what’s good for us is bad for business. You can’t pull down that kind of profit selling food or clothes or books.

The whole idea of making civilization a competition is stupid. Cooperation is the only smart thing to do—but there’s no profit in that; there’s no excitement in that; and there are no sinecures in true cooperation—nobody gets ahead. Yet if we insist on a society that allows us to get ahead, we are insisting that someone be left behind. Individual freedom is sacred to Americans—but a person without civic responsibility or a willingness to cooperate with the community is not exercising freedom—just willfulness.

We tend to include amongst our freedoms the right to be impatient—if argument goes too long or reason becomes too complex, we feel justified in cutting the Gordian Knot, throwing up our hands and saying, ‘Nuke the bastards’ or ‘Build a wall’. Being willfully stupid has become Americans’ favorite way of exercising our freedoms. I watched a beautiful program yesterday—it was a movie of new citizens being sworn in—a ceremony in each of the fifty states of the union—with interviews of newly-minted Americans extolling what they most loved about their new country. A common thread was voiced by one of them—‘Americans take their freedoms for granted—they don’t appreciate the miracle that is the United States’.

But that is only true of the loudest and sloppiest Americans—many of us are deeply appreciative, every day, to live here—and to keep vigil over our history and our ideals—and feel real pain at the words of demagogues—especially the ones who become media darlings through their outrageous subversion of our American way. Does CNN really think that the constituency that elected Obama to two terms is going to vote for John Wilkes Trump or Benedict Cruz? No, they just want ratings—and the hell with public service. We lost an important sinew of American cooperation when the news media went ‘for profit’.

We used to have champions of the public good acting as journalists and editors—now we have paparazzi and businessmen in their place—people who give a megaphone to any nitwit with a sensational way of spouting their ignorance. People like Trump and Cruz have always been with us—but the media used to keep its lenses trained on the sober, rational leaders who focused on the public good—and trusted that their honest efforts would gain them votes, without millionaires backing expensive hucksters to pump out propaganda. Sensation now substitutes for substance in the media—but the substantial challenges abide, and the sensations only distract us from the work of real change. The fourth estate used to help—now it just gets in the way, another tool of those in power.

People ask how America became so sharply divided—simple—the media made politics into a sporting event, encouraging people to pick a side and root for their team, rather than think about issues or answers. ‘Playing the devil’s advocate’ can be a useful exercise, in moderation—but when it’s the only thing you do, you’re just a rabble-rouser—a trouble-maker who profits from a fight and doesn’t care what the fight’s about.

Update   (2015Oct13)


Tuesday, October 13, 2015                                               5:28 PM

Putin has kicked the hornet’s nest—he may have been forced by circumstances beyond his control to throw his weight around and make Russia’s military relevant (Do you know anyone who wants to invade that charming country?) but he obviously hasn’t been paying attention to America’s forays into the Middle East. Didn’t he know how much American blood and treasure we’ve spilled there—and what have we accomplished? With few exceptions, other countries, including Russia, have sat on the sidelines and waited for us to bring capitalism there, so they could find new business partners—why would any sane leader allow his or her nation to become equally embroiled—without even teaming up with the existing effort? Will Russian mothers allow Putin to waste their children supporting Assad—and why?

Iran has voted in favor of the nuclear-disarmament agreement—a blow to the hard-liners there, but a good thing for all of us. American meddling in that country made them hate us—with good reason. Anything we can do to restore good relations with the Iranian people would benefit everyone.

The magazine Playboy has announced that it will stop publishing photos of nude women—a victory for women’s rights and dignity? ‘Fraid not. They simply need to stop shelling out cash for the same pictures anyone can get on the inter-web—not to mention try to keep a magazine relevant in a post-paper society. There will still be plenty to ogle for those that still subscribe—just not full nudity. I always felt their decision to go that far damaged the ‘brand’ anyway—in a world where there are naked pictures of women, who needs Playboy? If your brand is titillation, why marry the cow? Sorry gals—that just slipped out.

I’m so excited by this week’s VOD movie offerings that I can’t decide which to watch first—“San Andreas” (starring the Rock) or “Tomorrowland” (starring the Clooney). I split the difference and watched “Entourage—The Movie” while I made up my mind. Everyone said it was awful (no surprise) and I always feel compelled to watch something everyone hates—I usually like those movies. In this case, I’d say that if you enjoyed the series, and you don’t mind paying a premium to watch an extended final episode—you’re good. If you wanted a movie, well….

Now “San Andreas” will undoubtedly be noisy and have lots of quick cuts—a guaranteed headache, especially if I watch it after seeing one movie today, already. “Tomorrowland”, on the other hand, is just the kind of movie I love—sci-fi, futurism, happy ending (I assume). I don’t know if I want that to be ruined by my being already tired from watching “Entourage”, either. Still can’t decide. Maybe not watch either until tomorrow. I was enjoying Kathryn Grayson on TMC early today—something where she co-starred with Mario Lanza—maybe that’s what makes it hard to pick a pay-video movie—nothing in my cart has the oomph of old Hollywood—modern movies rarely do. I can’t wait for the new Spielberg, with Hanks in it—that’s definitely got a shot.

I didn’t watch the GOP debates—those people have me reaching for the remote just from a sound bite on the news—there was no way I’d listen to their idiocy for hours at a time. But tonight’s the Democrat debate—should I watch? I’m already for Hillary. I already like the sound of Bernie better, but I know he can’t win nationally, so why torture myself? And the other three—well, if you can name them, you’ve got more on the ball than I do. People have been assuming Hillary will be elected our next president ever since she stood aside for Obama—and I know the media needs drama grist for their mills—but I’ve made my decision, and I think I’d rather watch something else. If I had the energy to really follow politics, I’d get involved, not watch it on CNN and tell myself I was involved.

I’ve considered politics—after years of getting furious at incompetence in public service, I’ve often thought about it. But all we civilians get are the sound-bites—politics is a long hard slog through meetings and conferences and conversations with other politicians. When I vote these days, I’m not only rooting for a candidate—I’m grateful that they’re doing what I could never have the patience for. I hope that they will do well by us, but I don’t make the mistake of assuming they have an easy job. Only the bad politicians have easy jobs—the good ones work like dogs, and for few rewards. Look at poor old Jimmy Carter—a great man ousted from his job by a movie star, after cleaning up Nixon’s mess and getting Americans to believe in the system again. No, I’d just as soon light myself on fire as become a politician.