WITNESSING HISTORY

The odds favor that, if you life a full life, you will witness some event that’s historically important. Depending on your definition of “witness,” you’ll inevitably witness a lot of history. You can’t avoid it. Some is more dramatic and makes better stories. Even if your witnessing was accomplished via television and news reports, you are no less a witness.

My favorite “witness” experience was being in Israel when the Camp David Accords were signed. I had only arrived there a few weeks before. I was still trying to figure out what this place was about. It definitely wasn’t the romanticized venue in the novels I’d read … or even the idealized “homeland” my mother always imagined.

It was far more complicated, textured, and nuanced … which should not have been a surprise, yet sort of was surprising.

I bought a car shortly after I arrived. A Ford Escort. Ford had a little factory in Israel and Escorts were Everyman’s car. Small, and by American standards, under-powered, they were a “best buy” on Israel’s new car market.

The Ford dealership was directly across from the King David. And the King David was where Begin, Sadat, and Carter were meeting and deal-making. As fate would have it, it was also the day on which I was supposed to pick up my car. When I got there, it was obvious bigger events were taking place and my car would wait.

There were armed men everywhere. On the streets, the rooftops, and everywhere else you could look and probably thousands of places you couldn’t easily see. No one was getting assassinated on Israel’s watch. At least, not that day.

Around midday, to the enthusiastic cheering of the crowd, the official limousines swung past, each sporting the flags of its nation It was a sight to see.

There was much celebration and joy. It was one of the happiest, most optimistic times in Israel’s short modern history. Hope that finally, there might be a real peace. Hope that somehow, out of all the bloodshed and wars, this was a meaningful step forward.

Not long thereafter, back in Egypt, Sadat would be assassinated. Ten days later, Moshe Dayan who had crafted the accords, would die too. He had been sick with both cancer and heart disease for a long time, but, personally, I think he died of disappointment.

After that,the optimism faded. The joy was damped down and it was business as usual.

I was there for that brief, bright moment. A witness to one great moment when joy exploded in the streets of Jerusalem. No matter what anyone says nowadays about Israel’s intentions in the region, if you were there that day, you could not fail to see the foundation of everyone’s hopes, was peace.

WITNESS | THE DAILY POST

SORRY, ‘NEW YORK TIMES,’ BUT ISRAEL’S PRESS IS DOING JUST FINE

SORRY, ‘NEW YORK TIMES,’ BUT ISRAEL’S PRESS IS DOING JUST FINE

Another day, another ridiculous opinion piece in the paper of record

August 1, 2016 • 1:00 PM


Did you hear the one about the Middle Eastern country that really cracked down on its freedom of the press? Not Turkey, where 42 journalists were arrested last week in the latest assault on the tenets of democracy; I’m talking, of course, about Israel, the subject of yet another grim opinion piece this weekend in The New York Times.

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In case you’re the sort who doesn’t read much past the headline, the Times made sure you would not walk away confused: The lengthy dirge, written by New York-based Israeli reporter Ruth Margalit, was titled “How Benjamin Netanyahu is Crushing Israel’s Free Press.”

How indeed? You would hardly believe the depraved things Jerusalem’s demonic despot would do to solidify his grasp on power. Bibi, Margalit solemnly informs us, appoints people who agree with him politically to key positions in government. Shocked yet? Get this: He also has his office call newspapers and websites and try to spin the news in his favor.

If such benighted moves fail to shake you to the core, if you still don’t feel the chill of fascism’s shadow, Margalit has one last bit of damning evidence for you. Take a deep breath: To crush the precious freedom flower that is Israel’s press, Bibi, that monster, is opening up the media market to more competition.

“All three of Israel’s main television news channels—Channel 2, Channel 10, and the Israel Broadcasting Authority—are now in danger of being fragmented, shut down, or overhauled, respectively,” Margalit wrote. “The government’s official reason behind these moves is to open up the communications industry to more competition. But there seems to be a double standard: On other issues, like natural gas, the prime minister has been loath to take a stand against monopolies. As Ilana Dayan, a leading investigative journalist for Channel 2, told me: ‘Sometimes competition is the refuge of the antidemocrat.’”

Please click HERE to read the rest of this story. Proving, again, that there are many sides to the same issue. His, hers, theirs … and the truth.

SURPRISE, SHOCK, AND RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION?

The horror and shock I’m reading and hearing on social media about emails from Democratic National Headquarters are so hypocritical that they’re almost funny. Almost.

This is a dreadful election, maybe the worst in US history and we’ve had some pretty bad elections. That being said, I’m not shocked. No one who has been paying attention for the past forty or fifty years … or read any American history has a right to be surprised, much less shocked.

This is what our political system has always been. The major parties decide who their candidates will be and then do anything and everything to make sure it happens according to plan. It’s how the system works. It has not substantially changed since George Washington was selected (not elected) to be the first President of the United States.


The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil

is for good men to do nothing.

Edmund Burke

Everyone knows how political parties behave. And what they do. Both parties do the same stuff within their own parties and to the other party. Occasionally (Watergate springs to mind) — more often now with email, hackers, and social media — someone gets caught. Mostly, not. Frequently, this behavior is an open secret, so it never makes the news. It’s just “business as usual.”

Fast forward to 2016. Politics has reached a brutal pinnacle. We accepted this as a norm years ago and have participated in the system by choosing to abstain from involvement (“it’s somebody else’s problem”) or by actively encouraging it. Either way, no one has clean hands. No one is holding the moral high ground of righteous indignation.

Nonetheless, I see everyone acting like “OH MY GOD! Look at this bad behavior! We’ve never seen anything like this before.” Really? Have you been living under a rock?

This is part of the show, part of the game. If someone gets caught with his or her hand in the proverbial cookie jar, whoever didn’t get caught gets to play innocent victim. In my opinion, there is no such thing as an innocent politician. Probably not in any country and certainly not in this one.

Failing to acknowledge that all politicians are or have been part of the same system makes the system impossible to change. Bernie Sanders is no babe in the woods. Like everyone else, he has always known how the game is played. He has played it too.

I repeat for the record: This is how it has always been. We’ve tolerated and encouraged it. We’ve found it amusing. Justified it. Turned it into TV shows and movies. It’s been the favorite fodder of late night comedians as long as we’ve had late night comedians. It’s time for the next act of our national theater: Innocence Offended. We pretend this is something that “happened” while we weren’t looking and therefore, we (the people) are not responsible.


We are all responsible. This is our system. How ironic that one party has decided the antidote to ugly politics is even uglier politics.


We find comfort and sanctuary from the terrible truth by telling each other and ourselves we didn’t know. Which isn’t true. We all know. Knew.

You can’t right wrongs by perpetrating more and greater wrongs. Just because something is legal and constitutional does not make it a good idea — or right. Time to end the hypocrisy. Stop pretending. Accept responsibility for a system we all share.

Let’s take a pass on the moral indignation and deal with reality. Until we do, nothing can change.

THE DAILY POST | SANCTUARY

IT’S TRUE! I SAW IT ON THE NEWS!

Introduction – Garry Armstrong


I remember discussions about news coverage more than 50 years ago.  My college radio colleagues and I thought the mainstream media outlets were sellouts, ignoring the real stories and covering their collective butts with government propaganda. Some of us vowed to seek employment with the CBC, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation where we would have a greater chance to tell the truth.

skydivingLuck intervened and I landed a job with ABC Network News as a 20 something. ABC, coincidentally, was revamping its national and international news format. They wanted new blood. We were encouraged to be fresh and innovative. Newbie newsies like me leapfrogged over veterans from the advent of radio and TV news.

The late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were the new “golden era” for broadcast news. We had access to newsmakers in the highest places. We were emboldened to take chances even when threatened by power brokers. I always worked in the moment, never fearing the consequences of political windmills I might tilt.

It was a Camelot period for those of us who sought to report the truth. Then everything began to change.

Fast forward ahead to today and the proliferation of 24 hour cable news and social media. Camelot is dead. News — local and network — is controlled by corporate entertainment divisions.

Newbie newsies today don’t have the support or access I did half a century ago, but they still have a bully pulpit and should use it — if they have the courage and conviction to try to create change.


AND NOW, THE NEWS … ALREADY IN PROGRESS


Garry was a news guy for more than 40 years. For most of those years, he was a reporter. You could watch him on television pretty much every day. He covered breaking news. Murder, fires, disasters. Blizzards, hurricanes, politics. Riots. Court cases. Wherever something was happening, there he was. I knew the news from both sides. How it was made, how come some stories got on the air and others did not. What made a story “hot” and why. I have no illusions about the accuracy of media, but I also know how hard reporters work.

BW TV cameras

Reporters mostly don’t choose what they report. They can enterprise projects and sometimes get the green light to do something they believe in. And of course, a reporter can request to be put on a particular story. Sometimes they get a yes, sometimes no. Reporters are employees. They have bosses. The news directors and their directors. Not to mention the people who own the corporation and the sponsors who pay the bills.

Way back in the 1970s, news became entertainment. Before that, it was public service. Maybe it will be again, someday, but for now, news has to make money and get ratings. Therefore, the news will be full of whatever stories news outlets think we want. Hopefully this isn’t a surprise to anyone. You all knew this, right?

That’s how we have wound up with Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. He was entertaining. He brought in viewers and ratings. We watched. Love him or hate him, we tuned in to see him. Now, we stand in imminent danger of seeing a lot more of the Trump than most of us imagined in our darkest nightmares. You get what you pay for.

We expect a lot from news and those who report it. We expect honesty. Stories based on truth. Facts. We hold the news to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. How’s that working out for you? Not so good?

We are all responsible for seeking truth. We don’t have to believe lies. Nobody would get away with making stuff up and presenting it as truth — or news — if we were not predisposed to embrace it. We will get accountability and accuracy from media only when we demand it.

As a final note of irony, apparently the Brits are now — just a wee bit late — Googling “European Union” to discover what they actually voted to dissolve. That’s what happens when you believe what they tell you because it’s what you want to hear.

THE DAILY POST | FALSE

BUT WHAT IF THEY COME BACK?

We are at the annoying stage of the gypsy moth invasion. Sprayed and surviving, the air is full of moths. Thousands, maybe millions of them are swarming everywhere, no doubt laying clutches of eggs for next year’s even bigger event.

The oaks are trying to come back, some more successfully than others. I watch them every day, looking for signs of growth and health.

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A second year would be a real tragedy. No longer just a nightmarish inconvenience but devastation. It would be the end of thousands … acres … of hardwood trees and could involve not only oak and ornamental trees, but also spruce, maple, fruit orchards and more. It would leave ghost woods filled with the skeletons of the trees we loved. So far, no state or town agency has been willing to do anything to prevent this disaster.

We’ve done what we can. We’ve sprayed. That’s it. No one homeowner, nor any group of private individuals, can do this alone. Without help … well … kaput.

From WCVB news, Boston:


Gypsy moth caterpillars return to dine on New England trees

Last year’s dry spring to blame

Published  7:03 PM EDT Jul 03, 2016


We really need rain. And a little more help from nature.

FIRST PRIDE PARADE

On June 28, 1969, we went to see a play with a group of friends. When the show ended, we left the theater to fine the street full of people. Crowded. It was the first ever New York Pride Parade … and we were there — accidentally — but there. 

Photo: Alexander Thompson

Photo: Alexander Thompson

I’ve been seeing pictures from Pride Parades taking place all over the world. With all the hate rhetoric and negativity we are seeing these days, it’s encouraging to see how the concept of Gay Pride has spread all around the world. It’s a much-needed antidote to the awfulness of the rest of the political scene.

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The narrow-minded, stupid, loud-mouths of the world make the most noise. So much noise, that sometimes they drown the rest of us out, as if we don’t really exist. We exist. We care. We aren’t going away.