Category Archives: Media

The Dumbing Down Continues To Astound

I awoke from a nap feeling a need to grab just a bit of new information about what was happening in the world around me and made the mistake of turning on MSNBC, where I was confronted by the dumb question of the century. The host actually posed the non-question question, of whether the insurrectionists that assaulted the Capitol on January 6th, were really trying to stop the certification of the vote.

The woman hosting the “show” isn’t stupid, she’s really quite bright, so I would hope (imagine?) she had been fed the idiotic question from someone in the booth who was probably screaming nonsense into her ear. I mean, they might have been talking about the poor folks in Burma, who continue fighting to bring back their democratically elected leaders following a military coup. Six hundred of those arrested for demonstrating on behalf of democracy were just released, so it’s a good story for those who believe in freedom. But no, they weren’t talking about that.

They might also have had at least a modicum of interest in what’s happening in Germany, where a third wave of Covid is spreading across the country. It’s a variant, apparently more infectious and deadlier than the last. Is that what we’re in for here, following the massive partying of Spring breakers, whooping it up on the beaches of Florida?

“Essentially we have a “new virus,” Angela Merkel said, and a “new pandemic.”

Or they could have talked about the fact that more than half of those hospitalized with Covid in the United States, 7 out of 10, are still feeling its effects. In other words, they aren’t fully over it. They have not recovered.

A year into this mess and Covid-19 continues to present us with more questions than answers. We really aren’t sure where we are headed. Whether there will be long-term effects from the RNA vaccines. Whether one variant after another will keep popping up, requiring one new vaccine after another. We really don’t know much of anything with regard to long-term effects, as there were no animal trials prior to delivering the vaccines into human arms.

Russia developed its “Sputnik V” vaccine and began mass distribution nearly four months ago. Vladimir Putin, only just got his injection. What was he waiting for?

It’s all we’ve got, so I suppose we have to use it, but shouldn’t there at least be a discussion taking place? Something beyond the idiocy of someone wondering out-loud if the insurrectionists really wanted to stop the vote from being certified? This is NBC News? God, help us. And if he (or she) won’t, at least we’ve got Sky News and France24.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m on a waiting list for a vaccine and I fully intend to get jabbed when I can as that appears to be the best option. If Putin isn’t waiting any longer then neither am I. But that’s not what I’m railing about. My concern is with the absence of quality as opposed to quantity on American news-talk shows. Specifically, the ability to ask questions leading to conversations that actually mean something. Something that’s pertinent. Something that actually matters and is therefore interesting and will therefore enlighten as opposed to contribute to a continued dumbing down.

Without Shame

Just learned that yesterday’s Giuliani “news” conference, with hair dye (?) streaming down both sides of his face, was held at RNC headquarters in DC. Unbelievable and disgusting.

While so much of what DJT does is beyond belief, you have to wonder what his next move will be after a sufficient number of electors fail to throw the election for him? Years ago I read somewhere that the Electoral College was developed to keep the country out of the hands of a demagogue. You can be sure the founders never imagined it might be used to keep a demagogue in power. That said, who do you suppose is coming up with this stuff, as DJT clearly is not bright enough to have developed this strategy to bring down American democracy on his own.

What else do you suppose they have in mind between now and January 20th and who will defend us against it, with Republican Party leaders who failed to convict in the Senate, cowering in the shadows like whimpering idiots held hostage by DJT, threatening to bring them all down with a few keystrokes on social media?

History will clearly record the culpability of Republicans in congress for enabling a madman, keeping him in power while the threat to the Republic steadily increased, but how many will actually believe it? How many will be able to sort out the truth from bald-faced lies as we move forward into a new age of digital deceit, with growing numbers of Americans accepting any and all conspiracy nonsense thrown before them by a wave of new-age media, some of it social and without adequate constraint on the Internet and others on the far-right, masquerading as mainstream, but without shame or a sense of decency, feeling no consequence for the outcome of their actions, even if that means bringing the world’s greatest democracy to its knees.

We Need More Sam

SAM IS BACK? How refreshing to see a guest appearance by Sam Donaldson on the Chris Cuomo show on CNN last night. It was equally refreshing to hear Cuomo invite him to return on a regular basis as a guest commentator. If he accepts, his appearances will serve as learning moments for young journalists and others, interested in how news is supposed to be done. Would love to see Sam one-on-one with Donald for just five minutes. They’d have to strap Donald to a chair to prevent him from leaving the room, but I’d love to see it.

One of my favorite Sam moments is from the 80’s, when I was working for KABC in Los Angeles. I had just finished an interview with some congressman (can’t remember who) on the tarmac at LAX. As he was leaving he turned and said, “…and you tell Sam Donaldson, that he’s a son of a bitch!” It was a moment for me, and that’s how much politicians feared and hated Sam Donaldson. The comment was a badge of honor. Sam, is one of the greats.

(For you purity test snowflakes out there, I am speaking figuratively about the chair-strapping. I do not approve of holding anyone against their will for an interview.)

Follow The Pork

Did you hear Dr. Fauci today, telling a Senate hearing that it’s not a question of when we get a vaccine but “if” we can develop one at all, and then, even if we do, how effective it will or won’t be? Anybody else hear any of that? Apparently not NBC Nightly News, where they are still reporting about the rush to find what sounds like the inevitable discovery of a magic bullet that will save us all, regardless of anything Dr. Fauci, might say. Beyond that, there appears to be an absolute panic over how the drug companies will be able to deliver the millions upon millions of doses that will be needed. How to deliver the fantasy vaccine and not whether there will actually be a vaccine, is where NBC News placed the emphasis.

A little context would be nice, since nobody has yet developed a totally effective vaccine for the common seasonal flu and the truth appears to be that a vaccine that’s effective against Covid-19 might never be developed.

Anybody else remember the Hong Kong Flu in 1969, which left an estimated 100,000 Americans dead and killed an estimated one-million people worldwide? To one degree or another, it feels kinda like we’ve been here before, and not all that long ago. Shouldn’t that give us a roadmap to follow? Isn’t that kind of what the White House came up with, with its original plan to reopen America? A plan Donald Trump, has now abandoned?

Did anybody else hear Dr. Fauci’s educated and informed opinion that the current death count of about 80,000 is probably too low?

It would appear that uniformity will be a key to reopening the country without additional outbreaks of the kind that happened in New York and New Orleans. Why has Donald Trump abandoned that?

Just as the latest flu update news was settling in I learned that Smithfield Foods of Smithfield, VA, the world’s largest pork producer, is now wholly owned by the Chinese, who are shipping the processed pork to…..wait for it now….China! Meanwhile, we experience a shortage of pork products here in the U.S., where Americans get sick from Covid-19 while processing the pork.

Why are we not hearing about this on the nightly news? The Chinese own a significant link in our food supply chain, but it’s not being reported. Wonder what else they own?

I feel like I’m living (sequestered) in an alternate reality-based universe. Somebody needs to follow the pork. I admit that this may have been reported out and I just missed it, but with the country’s food supply at risk, it seems as though someone in the government should have turned this into a much bigger issue much earlier.

Maybe it took a pandemic to point out how thoroughly disjointed we’ve become. That we are at least partially owned by foreign entities and that for them it’s no longer about America for Americans, it’s about the ebb and flow of rivers of capital running through international markets with average Americans left with no choice but to depend upon Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell to keep an eye on things and that for his part, Trump, has abandoned the best medical and scientific advice available.

Thank God Al Franken Is Back On The Air

Gotta get this down in writing before the devastation of the daily news-stream once again causes my brain to put up a wall to all incoming information as part of the intellectual prophylaxis that’s become a part of my new normal.

John McCain and Al Franken, were our nation’s political saving grace. One is now dead and the other was kicked to the curb. Republicans should be flogged for their rejection of McCain and their resulting dive into Fascism and Democrats, for what they did to Franken, cutting off their overly-PC collective nose to spite their overly-PC collective face.

These are things to consider, as the nation approaches 50,000 dead from the Cronavirus. A bug that might have been at least partially stopped, saving thousands of lives, had safety mechanisms put in place by the Bush and Obama Administrations been left where they were instead of being defunded by Donald J. Trump and his fascist friends with their crash and burn philosophy of non-governance. That is to say, the Bannon process, whereby you disassemble government, for, of and by the people, by defunding government, for, of and by the people, leaving the door wide open for corporate raiders and other fascist vultures to swoop in, compromising, cornering and coercing nearly everything in sight.

If you don’t want to pay taxes to support a federal or state government, then don’t complain when those same governments can doing nothing for you in a time of crisis. Which is precisely where we are.

How much of the $2.2-trillion bailout went to the very wealthy, who are in no need of a bailout, while Trump and his minions insist upon no oversight of the bailout process? According to Politico, the package contained “a $500 billion bailout fund for big businesses and a $170 billion tax break for real estate investors like the president. ”

In a very real sense, the tragedy of Covid-19 is a friend to the fascist greedheads who care only for themselves, led by a narcissist in the Oval Office who is now recommending that his medical advisors look into the possibility of injecting household disinfectant as a possible treatment for the virus while he, with his typical Roy Cohen-type diversionary nonsense, blames immigrants and Iran.

This is beyond stupid, it’s nuts. It no longer matters whether Trump actually understands what he’s doing or whether he is, as the Russians like to say, a “useful idiot.” Either way, the damage has been done. Anybody who isn’t awake enough to understand this yet has got to be in an intellectual coma. Why is anybody out there still supporting this Republican Party? Is it because their only news source is a single cable channel serving as Donald Trump’s private pipeline of belligerent blather? Or is it because the party is represented almost entirely by white men? Is that it? Fear born from racism with a healthy dose of sexism? What else can it be? These Republicans have given up on nearly every conservative economic principle ever conceived, so it can’t be that.

Kudos, to MSNBC, for bringing Al Franken back as a guest commentator. Intellectually vibrant free-thinkers like Franken, are part of the solution as we approach 50,000 deaths.

Currently, there are 49,963 and counting, adding to what will surely be the legacy of Donald J. Trump. The idiot man-child who slipped through an electoral college which failed the nation miserably, to support our enemies, betray our allies and generally just muck things up.

An Orwellian Chill

I haven’t written anything in a while. The situation with the Trump Administration had become so repetitive, so obvious, so pathetic, so malignant, that I had determined the best course of action would be to stop writing and simply wait it out until November, hoping enough Americans would be awake and informed to the point of saving the country with a Democratic sweep. Today, that changed, with something that sent chills through the very core of my being.

It wasn’t Trump’s needless idiotic attack, sending in a drone to blast an Iranian general in a car at a civilian airport without a declaration of war, or Iran’s measured response to the idiotic attack, getting their country off the hook without starting a world war while Donald Trump appeared determined to do all he could to get a new war going. No, it was neither of those things. It’s the way those events are now being reported.

They are not reporting the Iranian general was assassinated or even killed, which is what happened. I turned on both CNN and MSNBC this morning to hear that the general had in fact been “taken out.” That’s what they’re now saying, “taken out,” much like any of us would take out the trash. Except in this case, they took out human beings.

What’s happening here is pure “Newspeak,” right out of Orwell’s “1984.” Alleged newswriters are using words to make the fact that our military, under orders from Donald Trump, blew a couple of human beings to bits just outside a civilian airport more palatable. They are using less descriptive phraseology to remove the sharp edge from sanctioned murder. In doing so, they are falling into the Orwellian trap of controlling language to limit freedom of thought. In doing so, they are inadvertently doing P-R for the Trump Administration.

If assassination is too harsh, then they could simply say the general was killed in a drone attack. That’s what happened and it avoids the slippery slope of getting into Newspeak with language that would be more fitting for De Niro in a mob movie.

This isn’t a movie, it’s reality. A journalist’s job is to find out what the hell is really going on and then report that out with as much objectivity and clarity as possible. Engaging in Newspeak, is an arrow to the very heart of that credo, threatening our existence as a free people by limiting our freedom of thought.

I won’t get into giving people what they need as opposed to what they want. That train left the station so many years ago that there is probably no calling it back. That said, this flirtation with Newspeak is something different. Something far more subtle and potentially far more dangerous. An infection that arrives in the night and spreads ever so slowly through our consciousness, unrecognizable, even while it robs us of our ability to identify the true nature of current events.


Unfiltered Information Could Be Our Undoing

Donald J. Trump has 65.2-million followers on Twitter. So, whatever idea might pop into his head, no matter how crazed, he can immediately blast it out to all 65.2-million of his minions. That, is political power. It is also frightening, because it is totally unfiltered.

Not long ago, in a time before cellphones, there were the newspapers and three major over-the-air broadcasting networks controlling most of the flow of information in America. For the most part, they had professional news organizations staffed with journalists who took their craft seriously, taking care to uphold the public trust with a standard for quality journalism, while serving as a filter for their readers, listeners and viewers, ensuring a degree of accuracy and truthfulness in what Americans read and heard. The worst thing these journalists could do, and they knew it, would be to betray the public trust and lose their credibility. And so, they took their work seriously.

Consequently, when CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told America that the Vietnam War had us mired in a stalemate, that the war was unwinnable and that a negotiated settlement was needed, the nation listened. Polls indicated Cronkite to be the most trusted man in America. There were calls for him to run for public office. Journalists were held in high esteem.

There were lapses of course, like “Yellow Journalism” during Hearst’s battle with Joe Pulitzer, but for the most part it worked pretty well. For the most part, America was protected by her journalistic filter. Then came cable, satellite news and the internet, and all bets were off.

And now here we are, with no filter to protect us and a highly questionable personality in the Oval Office with his finger not just on the nuclear trigger but on his massive Twitter feed as well. I’m not sure which might turn out to be more threatening to the country, or what we should do about it going forward. Clearly, what technology has given us may be more than our Democratic Constitutional Republic can handle. In a very real sense, it may be a clear and present danger.

Murder Incorporated

With three mass shootings in the U.S. in less than a week, two of them happening within the past 24 hours taking 29 lives, with all of that happening, what does it say about us that we are out going to ballgames or otherwise pretending that everything is okay?

What the hell have we become with our white supremacist president who refuses to condemn white supremacist terrorists running around with assault weapons gunning down innocent people while our Congress is away on a month-long vacation?

Anxiety is caused by uncertainty and an inability to do anything about it, and it’s only getting worse. We have got to stop pretending everything is just fine. It most definitely is not. No more so than when the Nazis were separating families and putting them in “camps.”

Think “it can’t happen here?” It already is. We have been putting children in cages. It’s being done in our names, so we have been doing it. And now “we” will do nothing once again as our fellow citizens continue to be slaughtered in public places with weapons of war that should not be readily available to the general public.

I was going to watch the O’s game today. Now, I don’t think so. I just don’t feel like it. With “251-mass-shootings in the U.S. in 216 days” our country is turning into a model for murder incorporated. Don’t feel much like watching a game.

Wag The Dog To Win The Election?

British intelligence says there is no “increased threat” from Iran. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration has a carrier task-force backed up by heavy bombers headed for the Persian Gulf and is reportedly considering sending in more than 100-thousand troops. Trump has also ordered the evacuation of all non-essential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in nearby Iraq.

The Republicans haven’t wagged the dog this hard since the W. Bush Administration was finding yellow cake in Niger and aluminum centrifuge tubes all over Iraq.

How many times are we going to fall for this same ploy? How many times are we going to let the Republicans take the country to war to win an election? How many times have you speculated that we would have been better off leaving Saddam in place, which would have meant no ISIS? Was Saddam that much worse than Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has imprisoned journalists, judges, and pretty much anybody who opposes his regime while he continues his war against our allies the Kurds?

It’s easy to forget that Saddam had our implicit support when he went to war with Iran, and that he would still be holding the Iranians in check had the Untied States not demonized him before invading his sovereign nation in the name of regime change. Sure, Saddam was a nasty guy, but preventing the formation of ISIS and holding Iran in check while eliminating the need for a massive deployment of U.S. troops is no small matter.

What George W. Bush said about “democratizing” all the of Middle East popped into my head the other day. One wonders how many in the current administration continue to believe that’s a good idea? How many there are who think that leaving our troops permanently scattered across the Middle East and North Africa at the U.S. taxpayers expense is a viable option? Presidential adviser John Bolton, is a known supporter of regime change in Iran. In simple terms, Bolton thinks it would be a good idea to invade another sovereign nation to overthrow another sitting government.

We never used to even contemplate doing that kind of thing unless a nation-state or other entity presented a clear and present danger to us or threatened a country with whom we had a mutual defense agreement. It just wasn’t what America did. We were better than that. Apparently that ended with Vietnam, another country we invaded based upon an apparent lie. More than 58,000 Americans died in that one. Sadly, documents and tapes in the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library prove that Johnson had both the South and the North Vietnamese ready to sign a peace treaty, but that the deal died when Richard Nixon’s campaign convinced the South Vietnamese that it would be to their advantage to keep the war going until after Nixon was elected. It would be years later before a disgusted American public became so disenchanted with the unending war that they took to the streets and demanded that the military-industrial complex disengage.

When did the very idea of peace become unreachable while ongoing war feels like the norm? Something we simply cannot avoid? Do you suppose the profitability of war factors into any of this?

Which do you prefer? Educating our kids and giving the country a national healthcare program, or killing strangers on foreign soil? Why isn’t that even discussed? When did the very concept of peace become not just unfashionable, but un-American?

An “exit strategy” to pull our people out of the Middle-East and North Africa, has been all but forgotten, as has an actual long-term game plan for why we are still there. Also nearly forgotten is the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the need for national healthcare, the overwhelming need for campaign finance reform along with real immigration reform and the role the Russians played in rigging our last election.

War with Iran, might very well ensure our national lapse in memory continues long enough to get Donald Trump re-elected. Until then, the chaos this one man has created continues to provide Republicans with excellent cover to continue putting the self-interest of a relative few above the national interest of the many.

Our real enemies appear to be the Russians, who, our intelligence services tell us, continue plotting ways to rig our next election, and the Saudis, who have never stopped spreading a worldwide campaign of anti-American hatred. All the while, Donald Trump, in his infinite wisdom, is laying the groundwork for another war. The ultimate diversion heading into 2020.

Message From The Los Angeles Press Club

The Board of the Los Angeles Press Club strongly condemns the
State Department’s decision to exclude most media outlets from covering a briefing on international press freedom. On Monday, the State Department held a briefing call to discuss international press freedom with
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The call, bizarrely, was specifically only for faith-based media. In response to inquiries from excluded
journalists, the State Department declined to provide either a transcript of the call or a list of media outlets allowed to participate and would not explain the criteria used in choosing those media outlets. The LA Press Club joins the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in urging
the State Department to immediately release the transcript of this
briefing call, and guarantee that future briefings — especially those on
issues of widespread public interest — are open to any and all interested journalists. A free and unfettered press is the pillar of our democracy.

(Received from LA Press Club, 3-21-19)

Remembering Bill Knight

Bill Knight is second camera from the left – Photo courtesy of Guy Aoki

I worked with Bill Knight and Zimmy Zimmerman for ten years and with Bill alone for another five at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. As Bill’s partner for fifteen years I feel a need to say something about his passing. Mostly, I feel a need to tell you about his dedication to the craft. So, here’s a story.

We were headed down the Hollywood Freeway, just south of the 101/134 split, returning to KTLA when a car shot by us on the left followed by a CHP car in hot pursuit. They both jagged to the right in front of us and hit an off-ramp, which, if memory serves, was at Lankershim. I looked at Bill, he looked at me and we both had the same thought. “Let’s go” I said as Bill headed for the ramp. It may be of interest, although possibly not pertinent, that I was, as fate would have it, on the phone with the press-relations guy for the FBI, discussing a story I was working on. So he ended up hearing bits and pieces of the whole thing.

We wound our way down the ramp to find the suspect car stopped at a traffic light with the CHP car directly behind it. The driver’s-side front door of the CHP car was open. The officer was standing next to the suspect car, his weapon drawn and pointed directly at the man seated behind the wheel. Suddenly, what could have been a mundane pursuit ending with a possible evading charge or maybe a speeding ticket had turned into something else.

Moving faster than I’d ever seen him move, Bill flew out the door, popped open the tail-gate and grabbed his camera. Within seconds he was over on a “grassy knoll” just to the left of our truck and about twenty feet behind the cop. A perfect spot to shoot whatever was coming next. It was then that the officer did something I still can’t explain. He stepped out in front of the car, still pointing his weapon at the driver. It was almost as though he was daring the guy to run him down. Which the driver proceeded to do. He moved the car slowly forward toward the cop, who reacted by opening fire. Firing first at the front window, with shots ricocheting back toward me and Bill, and then at the driver’s side window, as the suspect fled. “Shots fired! Shots fired!” I yelled into the phone, while also giving the FBI agent at the other end of the line our location. The cop had emptied his gun, nine shots as I remember, and through it all Bill Knight never moved. He never ducked, he never took cover. He just stood there and kept rolling.

As the cop jumped into his cruiser to pursue the suspect, Knight returned to get behind the wheel and follow the pursuit. It ended in a church parking lot a few blocks away where the suspect, surrounded by CHP and LAPD cars had been taken into custody. There was clearly no time for us to mess around. Bill jumped out, grabbed his camera and ran, leaving me to park the truck.

I pulled into the nearest space and ran over to the parking lot about a half-block away. What I saw wasn’t good. Bill, who was inside the yellow tape trying to shoot the incident, was surrounded by four or five CHP and LAPD cops, who were trying to take his camera away – literally trying to tear it off his shoulder. Bill, was resisting. By the time I got over to the scene, they had Bill in handcuffs and slammed face down on the hood of an LAPD cruiser.

A CHP officer, a young buffed-out cop, who looked like he spent all his off-hours at the gym, insisted upon pressing charges, so Bill went to jail despite a call to Bernie Parks, who allegedly said he “wanted this one for the guys out in the field.” I did what I could with an LAPD lieutenant at the scene, including a charge that the CHP, the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles were in violation of the First Amendment, and state law 409.5 which deals with press access to crime scenes, but they took Bill away. I did get our camera and videotape back even though the CHP wanted to keep it.

It turned out that when Bill first got there and started shooting, he was standing outside the yellow tape – a “do not cross” line the police put up at crime scenes. However, while he was rolling, the cops decided to move the tape, and Bill, back. And Bill objected to it.

Much to their credit our managers at KTLA hired one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the country, Alan Isaacman, to get Bill out. Isaacman, is the same guy who argued (and won) Larry Flynt’s First Amendment case before the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m not sure Bill ever really understood just how high-powered (and high-priced) his lawyer was. Anyway, Issacman, got Bill out of jail and kept him out.

And that’s the story. Love him or hate him, Bill Knight, always got the shot. Never, not even once, did I come back from a story working with Bill with too little video. In the case of the CHP cop who opened fire on the off-ramp, not only did I get plenty of video, Bill and I also were honored with an Edward R. Murrow Award. But it was Bill who got the story. He always did.

Condolences to Betty and the family. So long Bill. RIP

Ron

Dear Mr. Schultz: Please stop emulating Ralph Nader

On wonders if Howard Schultz is just naive, or whether he is colluding with other billionaires to be a spoiler for the Dems in 2020? Surely he can’t be so blind as to think the votes he would draw away from the Dems wouldn’t matter? Or can he?

What are we supposed to think about a billionaire who publicly proclaims progressive taxation to be a bad idea? Someone who thinks it is better to wring another 30-cents a day out of poor Liza Doolittle than to increase taxes on those who have more than they can possibly use or might ever really need? Even if that might mean going without a fourth gated estate, a second private jet or another yacht? Someone who tells us that so-called “Medicare for all” will bankrupt the nation, even while other developed countries like the U.K., Germany, Taiwan, France and Canada, are doing quite well with national health insurance?

For some, enough, it seems, will never be enough. Is it possible that the concept of being rich only gets “filthy,” when one stops caring about others and rationalizes away their immorality?

Simply put, it’s called “sharing the wealth.” Those of us raised in the Christian faith learned all about it in Bible class. You can be sure those of other faiths and even Secular Humanists, are familiar with it as well. The founders obviously held it close to their hearts, referring to it as our “general Welfare” in the preamble to the Constitution.

I have learned never to equate great wealth with intelligence. Some of these guys, and I’ve know a bunch of them, just fall over backwards into a pile of money. Like….ah….Donald Trump. Making Mr. Schultz an even bigger threat, is that he has Steve Schmidt working on his campaign. Schmidt, is very smart and very savvy, and he could greatly increase the number of voters Schultz draws away from the Dems. I know, I know, Steve Schmidt convinced McCain to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008. So he screwed up (massively) on that one. However, if you’ve listened to any of what he’s had to say on the talk shows, then you already know that generally he’s a very bright guy.

In other news for the intellectually battered and weary, scientists at the University of Minnesota are working on a new “what it feels like” scale for the weather. This one is for pets and it will be based upon the time it takes a hairless cat to succumb to hypothermia when it’s 0 degrees with a 10mph wind blowing. Not really. It’s a joke. I’m just really tired of weathercasters telling me not just how cold it is outside, which is something I can relate to, but what it will “feel like” if I’m mindless enough to stay outside without proper clothing long enough to get into trouble. Meaningless hype. That said, some idiot wanting to make a name for himself is probably out there working on a “what it feels like” scale for pets, right now.

Perhaps they should instead be pondering how long it will take us all to freeze to death if the Russians or the Chinese or the Russians in collusion with the Chinese, shut down the power grid? Cold, is cold. Twenty below can kill you even if you feel like it’s 25 below while you are dying. Just tell me how cold it is and leave it at that. Cut out all the hype. And do a little research on the Russian hacking thing, how they can kill our power at will. That’ll really scare you. Almost as much as somebody telling the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, that he needs to go over to the White House and “educate” the President. Those two, Coats and Russian hacking, are both on the “for real” scale, as opposed to “how it will feel.”

Wouldn’t We All Be Better Off Without Twitter?

For me, the exchange of information, much of it valid news, is a chief advantage of being on Facebook. Beyond that, there is the ability to stay in touch with friends scattered around the country and the world.

That said, I have been trying to determine what value, if any, Twitter has? It seems to me to be nothing but a vehicle for celebrities with a huge fan base to communicate their personal feelings to their fans. Their personal feelings and opinions may or may not have any informational value, they may in fact be spreading misinformation, but Twitter gives them free reign to disperse what may be blather to millions of adoring subjects without any fact checking or editing. In as much, it could be considered a purveyor of intellectual chaos.

For the rest of us, who don’t have millions of fans and who have no desire to lock horns with strangers in meaningless confrontations, what possible use does Twitter have – other than being a social networking gossip channel for kids? Why are we even using it, considering one of its most noteworthy impacts has been to assist DJT (and others like him) in threatening our democracy by giving him instant and free contact with his base? Even now, some argue that the very threat of a flurry of angry Trumpist tweets is preventing the Congress from taking action on the government shutdown.

I’m pretty sure the founders never imagined anything like this when they came up with the First Amendment. Extending freedom of the press to the massive white noise that is Twitter, is quite a stretch. Or maybe not? How far can and should free speech be extended with regard to all this new technology?

So why are so many of us still using it? Could it be because we continue hoping it will fulfill some promise of providing us with something – a credibility perhaps, or a purpose that gives it value – that simply is not there?

Is Twitter potentially too dangerous, too politically and culturally toxic, to be left to its own devices? Like putting a loaded shotgun in the hands of a small child? Equally troubling is the obvious fact that much of the Congress is largely ignorant as to how the Internet functions, much less the way dozens of various applications might impact our national security.