A Little Journalism, Please?

For several days the networks have been reporting about robbers hitting boxcars near Union Station in Los Angeles, looting the cars of thousands of packages, making the nationwide backup of product deliveries worse. Apparently, this has been going on for more than a year? Is that even possible, with the tracks littered with the remains of packages ripped open by the robbers?

Hey kids, has anyone even wondered why the City or the County of Los Angeles or the railroad or some combination of the three, hasn’t put guards with shotguns and rubber bullets out on the tracks 7/24 to fix this problem? Isn’t the question of why this situation has been allowed to continue the real story here? Could it be that no one wants to pay for a solution? Could it be that the railroad is pointing at the City and the County, and the City and County, are point back at the railroad, and as a consequence, nothing gets done for months on end? Isn’t that the real story? If that is what’s happening?

I hate to have to tell you guys, but the question of “why?” is still one of the famous “5-W’s.” Your job is to FIND OUT WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AND THEN TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT. Why it’s continuing to happen is a big part of that. Can’t one or two of you, you know, do a little real reporting? “See Spot run! Spot, runs fast! There he goes!” is not covering a story unless of course, you just got to the scene, jumped out of the truck and barely had time to set up a camera before going live.

Is it possible that live tv coverage of almost everything has led to reporters breathlessly describing what’s happening in front of them to the degree that everything is covered without any or very little digging or what us old-timers used to call putting a little “shoe-leather” into the story to find out what’s really going on and why? Is it possible that this more superficial coverage has contributed to a national dumbing-down as big media has shifted away from educating and enlightening and switched over to a focus on infotainment to increase their profit margins? How much of what currently passes for tv news is just click-bait for the advertisers?

Why So Long?

Can’t stop thinking about the fact that after Richard Nixon left the White House in 1974, his top aides were all sentenced to prison terms before the end of 1975. Even without an attempted coup costing police officers lives and putting the future of the nation in doubt. Even without suspected ties between Nixon’s campaign officials and the Russians and without Nixon having received at least one big cash real estate payout from a Russian oligarch with ties to the Kremlin. And it goes on. Nixon, for example, had not been in contact with the Russians about building a big hotel in Moscow, nor had he repeatedly rented out space in his New York tower to Russian concerns.

Nixon, did none of that, and still his “higher-ups” all went to jail in a timely fashion.

For example: Nixon, resigned the presidency in August of 1974. On January 1, 1975, his Chief of Staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and three counts of perjury.

With the future of the country at stake and so much existing video evidence readily at hand, one grows weary of hearing arguments about how long it takes to build a case. When the facts and the law are in your face, and the evidence is on tape, surely they’ve got a case.

The next election is less than 11 months away. It will only make matters worse if Trump’s lap-dog Republicans take back the Senate. That said, there is the possibility that what’s already been uncovered runs far deeper and deadlier than any of us have imagined. New reporting from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC indicates Republicans may have forged election documents in as many as five states. If that’s the case, well then, so be it. They can add it to the pile. Meantime, the clock continues to run.

Republicans Afraid To Take The Stage And Expose Themselves

So the Republicans, bullies and cowards that they are, are threatening to stay out of future debates? Very telling isn’t it, that they don’t want to expose their platform of lying, cheating, and putting a dagger to the throat of Democracy in front of a live tv audience?

Not a week goes by without this new Republican Party, with he who must not be named at the helm, proving themselves to be in opposition to our Constitution, and as such, out to destroy our liberty, laying waste to the self-determination our founders established with the warning that we might not be strong enough to hold onto it through time. It’s happening right in front of me and I can’t believe what I’m seeing, an entire party turning its back on liberty, the freedom so many of our friends and relatives fought and died for. Some, many hopefully, of those who continue to call themselves Republicans, have been duped. The others, are traitors, doing all they can to tear us apart.

Meanwhile, out in Hollywood-

Javier Bardem, is still making the rounds promoting “Being the Ricardos.” Rotten Tomatoes, gives it a 68% rating. I think the critics are being kind. For me, and possibly most of us who grew up watching Lucy and Ricky, it just did not work. They didn’t pull it off. I’d give it 35%. Maybe. On a good day. And I’m a big fan of Sorkin, Bardem and Kidman. Hollywood, needs to leave the classics alone. Whatever you might think of her, in her time, Lucy, was classic. Some years ago there was a rumor going around that one of the studios was thinking about a re-do on “Casablanca.” It hasn’t happened, yet, thank God. The characters are too strong and too firmly set in the minds of millions to be adequately duplicated.

We’ve been watching “The Great,” on hulu, and it is mostly great. The acting and directing in this spoof of the story of Catherine the Great of Russia, are both great as is the cinematography. The writers though, need to get their heads out of an apparent mindset that it is necessary to take an otherwise outstanding production and turn it into soft-porn to generate an audience. For me the unnecessary up close and personal sex scenes put a knife through the heart of what otherwise would have been one of the best series offerings, with some of the smartest writing, ever. Not that long ago, this genre was regarded as “dirty movies,” to be viewed only at trashy theaters in a bad part of town. Now it’s becoming commonplace. Makes you wonder where we’re headed, doesn’t it? This one is up for a SAG award.

A Rational Thought

When the concept of “sharing the wealth” is mentioned, there is almost always a cry from the wealthiest Americans and those who have been conned into believing what’s worst for them is in their best interest, that such thinking threatens us with “Communism” or “Socialism.” You have to wonder why the term of “Rationalism” is never applied and the advantages of a “mixed economy” are almost never raised. How many are there left among us who can comprehend deductive reasoning? Might not this be at the heart of so many of our political and social problems?

Covid Confusion

What don’t I understand? Thousands of people who are presumably asymptomatic, are lining up to be tested for Covid? But if they have no symptoms, and do not feel sick, then why are they even worried about it?

Are you sick when you don’t feel sick? Are you unwell, even though you feel well? Whatever happened to just asking someone, “How do you feel?” Is there a mass panic at play or are these all the people who opted to not get vaccinated, and now they’re worried about it?

I wish the media would try harder to provide answers to these questions as opposed to doing their best to just scare the hell out of everybody in pursuit of a higher rating to bump up their profits.

Then And Now And Still To Come

Early 1960’s clock radio

Just got a new iPhone, and it made me think back to a time when “clock radios” were a thing. When they first put a clock and a radio in the same plastic box. If you were lucky, the clock had an alarm. The radio, of course, was AM only. Prior to that, a radio, was just a radio, and a clock, was just a clock. Plugging it into the wall was your only option. Portable “transistor” radios had yet to be invented.

Found this relic pictured above for sale on ebay for $20. Same one I had as a boy, although I don’t remember any “snooze” button feature on mine. At the time, that was pretty advanced stuff.

As I recall, most of the time I had the AM dial set to “KDWB-63” our big daytime rocker out of Minneapolis/St. Paul. At night, we’d switch over to WLS, booming out with 50,000 watts from Chicago. Came in clear as a bell once the daytimers dropped their power.

You have to wonder who even understands any of this anymore. Imagine starting with an iPhone as a kid. God knows what they’ll be using in 50 or 60 years. It’s both wonderful and frightening to try and comprehend as technology continues rocketing ahead, in some ways outstripping our ability to control where it may be taking us. Stay tuned for further developments. Same time, same channel. Or maybe from a chip implanted in your head.

Bye, Bye, Betty White

Long ago, in the land of Hollywood, I was sent out to cover an event featuring several celebrities, including the iconic Betty White. I got there not knowing who I would end up putting on camera, but I had admired Ms. White, going back to her Sue Ann Nivens character on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, so she was at the top of my list.

I had just finished an interview with Howard Hesseman, of “WKRP” fame, and found Betty White, who had agreed to do an interview, when, just as we were about to start shooting, somebody rushed up and grabbed her, literally pulling her away to do something else. “I’m sorry!” she said, as she was all but carried off to do something with someone else.

I was left empty-handed, without an interview I had needed for my piece, but it had happened before and it would happen again. Sometimes you get a hit, sometimes you don’t. Either way, you move on and just forget about it. And that’s what I had done. I had been aced out of the interview, probably for no good reason by some over-excited gopher from an infotainment channel, but I let it go and went back to the station, where, to my surprise, I got a call from someone representing Betty White. “Betty, feels just terrible that she couldn’t give you an interview and wants to know if she can do the interview now?” Well, this had never happened before, but I guess I had never been around a celebrity the likes of Betty White, before.

I explained to her person that I was flattered they had taken the time and trouble to call me back, but that I was up against a deadline and doing the interview at that late hour would be impossible for me. And that, as they say, was that.

It wasn’t a big thing, and it wouldn’t be worth mentioning at all, except that in more than 40 years in journalism, it was the only time it had ever happened to me. It was the only time a big-name celebrity went to the trouble of apologizing for having to duck out on an interview and then had somebody call to try and put it right.

Bye, bye, Betty. Thanks for all the laughs, and a special thanks for being a genuinely nice person, even when the cameras weren’t rolling.

(photo: wikipedia)

The Gov Has Covid

It’s been confirmed with a PCR test that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, has Covid. He says he’s fully vaccinated and feels fine. Hopefully, within a couple of weeks he will be free of the bug and ready to return to his regular routine.

Somebody recently said there will be three kinds of people following the pandemic, those who got vaccinated, those who did not get vaccinated but survived and the dead. Beginning to wonder if that isn’t right. And how many dead there will eventually be.

Medical experts have said repeatedly that the vast majority of those with Covid who are taking up beds and overloading our hospitals are unvaccinated. How much more do you need to know?

The Florida Covid Mystery

One of the networks just showed one of those big U.S. maps with various colors for different states indicating which states have the worst rates of infection for Covid. Invariably, on this most recent map and on others, the State of Florida, is white or light pink, indicating there is no Covid problem whatsoever. At least, that’s what people are believing.

In an electronics store the other day, I heard a customer, a sometime Floridian, saying that he has “no idea how our governor down there is doing it, but there’s not Covid at all!”

Death rates due to Covid in Florida, indicate that nothing could be further from the truth. Florida, in fact, has the tenth highest death rate for Covid in the country at 288 deaths per 100,000 people as of 12/8/21. However, this is something that isn’t being discussed. At least, not to my knowledge, and I have to wonder why.

Is it because it would make Governor Ron DeSantis look bad, as his State continues to refuse to put a Covid case on Florida’s books unless it’s a permanent resident and not one of his “snow birds” who comes down with the disease? Is that it, or is it just that our journalism machine has become so lax that nobody checks these things out anymore as Florida uses a different “system” to count Covid cases and deaths after DeSantis publicly fired one of his state health workers who dared suggest the way Florida is keeping records is not providing an accurate record?

If I am being overly-critical, then my apologies to one and all. If not, then I do wish our journos would get with it and tell people just how bad things really are in Florida, in spite of those maps which, per Florida’s failure to keep an accurate accounting, appear to be horribly misleading.

Be it Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis, deniers of the truth are deniers of the truth. They are not good for us and must be denied the privilege of holding public office.

A Return To Sanity

MSNBC just reported $5.59 a gallon for premium gas in Los Angeles. And the country is exporting more petroleum products than we import. Something smells. And it’s not the gas. Time for a price-fixing investigation into big oil. Oh wait. Joe Biden, just did that, didn’t he? Thank you, Mr. President. Good to have an actual commander in chief who cares about the general welfare of we the people back in the White House.

Divide And Conquer?

First, Mark Zuckerberg, under pressure from the Feds, announced that he was forming an umbrella company called “Meta” to oversee Facebook and his other holdings. Then, it was General Electric, “33rd largest firm in the U.S. by gross revenues,” according to Wikipedia, which announced it was breaking up into several smaller companies. And now comes news that Johnson & Johnson, on the heels of huge Covid profits, “$502 million in global sales (from) its COVID-19 vaccine in the most recent quarter” says the NY Post – is splitting into two companies to “separate its pharmaceutical side from its consumer products.” I thought pharmaceuticals are consumer products, but they’d know better than I do.

These companies all making similar moves to split up can’t be coincidental, it must be because it’s to their advantage to do so, right? So what’s the advantage? Is it just a tax advantage, or does it go beyond that and into the territory of the federal government being less likely to go after a company that’s smaller on paper, even though it’s part of a much bigger corporation? Image, is everything? Merger madness in reverse without anybody really reversing anything? It just might work?

The fact than a handful of “too big to fail” banks haven’t already done this is a testimonial to just how powerful those same giant banks actually are.

My prediction is that it won’t stop with J&J. There will quite probably be more to follow as the United States, the world for that matter, continues veering toward a future that looks more and more like a real-world version of the movie “Rollerball,” begging for a big, bad trust-buster to come along and restore competition to the marketplace.

Facebook Hysteria

With social networking hearings taking place on the hill and pundits repeating the same information to the point that it becomes almost comical, the question must be asked, “Is Facebook inherently evil?” The answer, I suspect, is probably not. Not if you block all those you want nothing to do with, unfollow all those others you don’t want to hear from, and then have the smarts and the stomach to ignore the ads and political nonsense that might come your way.

Thing is, these are some really smart people, and with all those alogarhythms they’re using, you have to wonder if any of us can really determine the degree to which we’re being played? I’m not even sure what an alogarhythm is despite a year of algebra in high school. I can’t remember a bit of it. I had to google the word to get its spelling.

For several years now, going back to the Arab Spring, some have warned that technology is rapidly outstripping our ability to control what’s going on. The geeks, some used to downplay, are taking over and it’s no small matter. It’s not Mark Zuckerberg’s fault that he stumbled onto something that caused him to fall backwards into a mountain of cash which continues to grow. Nor is he immune to the same attraction to power and money that attracts us all. He’s just a kid who saw a good thing, took advantage of it, and then watched it grow. No different from Bill Gates, or so many other highly successful American entrepreneurs really. Some might say he got lucky. If he hadn’t done what he did, the Winklevoss twins, or somebody else, probably would have.

Whether Facebook and Twitter brought about the Arab Spring, or simply served to assist something that was inevitable, with or without social media, is still being argued. One of the best arguments I’ve read, is that the uprising would have happened even without the Internet, that people have been getting together to change the course of world history for thousands of years. But did social media help facilitate it? Undoubtedly so, but it’s no sure bet there wouldn’t have been an Arab Spring without Facebook.

Events that have followed, from the madness in Charlottesville to dozens of flash mobs, marches and protests generated online, demonstrate the power of social media. As does the election of 2016 and the attempted coup four years later, making most of us understand that this has gone beyond being serious. It is now threatening.

The angst and gnashing of teeth on Capitol Hill, demonstrates how far behind hi-tech our politicians are and how much needs to be done to try and catch up. They should have been discussing the regulation of social media before some of them even knew what it was, which means they are years late in understanding what it is capable of. Not sure even the geeks can answer that question

Nobody knows where all of this is going, and that’s what makes it so frightening and difficult to understand. At least they’re now trying and that’s a start. That said, it should also be noted that Facebook and some of the other hi-tech behemoths have purchased their own opinion factory, the American Edge Project. According to their website, they are a coalition “dedicated to the proposition that American innovators are an essential part of U.S. economic health, national security and individual freedoms.” Critics charge that the 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization, which may allow secret money to influence our elections” is just a front for Zuckerberg and Facebook. A “political advocacy group” they call it.

I saw an ad sponsored by the American Edge Project on one of the news shows just last night urging viewers to tell their representatives to give hi-tech the freedom to do what it wants to do, unfettered by cumbersome regulations. Free to continue growing its bottom line.

Facebook, is expected to have sales of more than $34 billion in the fourth quarter of this year, even with the whistleblower document dump and near-hysteria on the Hill, as our elected representatives try and understand what it is they are dealing with so that they can try and develop a plan to deal with it. And what is it?

I can tell you what it is. It’s all about alogarhythms and billionaire geeks who want to build their power base by increasing their profits. And they want government regulators to leave them alone. Simple, right? Yeah, simple as the simplest alogarhythm. And sales of more than $34 billion in the fourth quarter. For just one company.

Our elected representatives are gonna need some serious help.

The Demands Of Liberty

It’s been months now and I’m still trying to acclimate myself to the reality, the huge change, of not having to wake up to a new horror every day. It isn’t easy to switch gears following a daily horror show of four long years, culminating with an attempted coup. I’d like to relax but can’t, knowing the mad prince of political evil is still out there, waiting for another shot at doing what he does best, the attempted destruction of all that we hold dear. Tearing apart what so many gave their lives to build and sustain.

Never forget the words of former presidential advisor, Steve Bannon, who said, “I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

And replace it with what? Is that kind of chaos, that kind of madness, really what you want? Beyond that, try and get your head around the fact that Trump’s former chief political advisor, Steve Bannon, is an admitted Communist. He might try and get around it by calling himself a “Leninist,” but that’s just a word game. Leninism is a prelude to Communism.

At this point, no one should relax. We can’t afford to. At the same time there is more than one piece of good news coming across the wires.

President Biden, is saying he may support doing away with what is currently called “the filibuster.” At least in some cases. This would be wonderful, because what is now called a filibuster, the need for a super-majority in the Senate to get anything done, isn’t really a filibuster at all. It’s a super-majority vote as opposed to a simple majority of 50% plus one for passage. In other words, simple majority rule, which is what most of us thought the country was supposed to be all about and something we should be getting back to. Imagine what the Democrats could accomplish with a simple majority vote in place.

A filibuster, is when a member of one party refuses to stop talking to prevent a vote from taking place. It could be viewed as a form of rhetorical torture but it usually removes any doubt as to the serious nature of what’s being said. Traditionally, it has nothing to do with how many votes it takes for passage.

It’s argued that a simple majority will work to the advantage of the Republicans, should they regain control of the Senate by even a narrow margin, and that’s true. Most Americans, though, would probably be happy knowing that the will of the majority was being carried out and not blocked by a minority in the Senate, which is where things currently stand. As it stands, this current “filibuster” is a political gimmick that circumvents majority rule. What once was called, “the will of the people.”

The other bit of really good news, is that apparently Al Franken, is thinking about running again. Which he should. He never should have been treated like political trash in the first place.

The return of Senator Franken would give the Dem’s someone who actually has the ability to go toe-to-toe with these Republican traitors who are doing all they can to tear down our democratic institutions.

What Al did was in bad taste yes, but he did it before being elected and it was not out-of-line with his SNL comedy background. What Franken did was mild in comparison to some of the old skits the SNL troupe has performed. Nevertheless, with Kirstin Gillibrand leading the attack, the Democratic hierarchy reacted like Al was a serial killer, not a former comic who was clowning around. Bad taste, yes. A felony or high-misdemeanor offense demanding dismissal? Absolutely not.

Gillibrand and others who showed Franken the door, were playing right into Republican hands.

Friends in Minnesota, say their fellow Minnesotans are mostly in support of bringing Franken back. Hope it happens. He’s too good a person, too good a legislator, for the Democrats and the country to lose.

Dreams

Miss you Dickie……

One indicator of where we are is knowing how much better off we’d all be if somehow we could just dial the Republican Party back to the criminal administration of Richard Nixon. Compared to this current bunch of muggers, liars and thieves, Dick Nixon, was a peach.

Whispers On The Wind

When a filibuster is no longer a filibuster, when it’s actually a super-majority overriding majority rule, when members of Congress, forced to flee the Capitol building to escape an attack, an attempted coup d’etat, refuse to support a congressional subpoena attempting to hold those who would overthrow the government accountable – when all of that is going on isn’t it time to snap to and call this current Republican Party what it actually is? Nothing but a band of traitors using lies to try and overthrow that which remains of a system which depends upon right-minded patriotic people upholding accepted standards of decent behavior. Traditional Americans who support traditional Americanism. Are there only two decent Republicans left? Don’t all the rest overtly oppose democracy? Isn’t it just that simple?

A couple of weeks ago we went to the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, and stood where the first confrontation in force took place between the American colonists and the British military. It’s the kind of place that moves something in your heart, whispers on the wind that make you proud to be an American, a people who become more than a little angry with lies that seek to erase their right to self-determination through legitimate representation. A right this current batch of Republican traitors obviously want no part of, as they continue down the path to Oligarchy, much of our system having been turned into the best government money can buy, driven by deceit and fueled by fear of the other.

Where are the Republicans of Eisenhower and Lincoln? Are there none left who believe that what we have is worth saving? Are there so few left with the patriotic backbone necessary to push back against obvious tyranny?

It’s clearly time to shake off our national delirium and remember what those first Americans, mostly farmers and shopkeepers with muskets, gave their lives for. To establish a country based upon self-determination, not deceit, arrogance and half-truths. They answered the call in 1775 as we are now being called to answer it again, by annihilating this current batch of Republican traitors at the polls in 2022 and 2024. It won’t be enough for us to simply win the elections, we must win with an overwhelming torrent of votes. 2022, must be a crushing defeat for the Republican Party, setting up a second crushing defeat for them in 2024. It’s either that, or surrender our Democracy to Oligarchy.

Those first minutemen knew what many of us seem to have forgotten as we continue to allow ourselves to be divided into factions. That freedom cannot be taken for granted and that we continue to be surrounded by those who would take it away, by those who put party above country and personal profit above the common good. Those who are blinded by unmitigated greed. Those who would deceive us into thinking a filibuster and a super-majority are one and the same and that the attempted coup of January 6th, never really happened. Those who put so much smoke into the air that it’s difficult to breathe much less see anything clearly.

This is as serious as it gets. We could lose it all. We already came closer than many care to admit.