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.

72-wires-sunset-070316_08

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.

Gay-Pride-Parade-NY-2013_001

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.

FOLLOWING SCOTUS

SCOTUS, aka the Supreme Court of The United States, had itself one big day yesterday. They come down solidly on the side of women’s rights against the state of Texas. The ruling will put a serious crimp in the campaign to sneak around Roe-V-Wade and make abortion impossible, if not illegal. The war against women just lost a battle. Yay team.

scales of justice

In another decision yesterday, SCOTUS voted 6 to 2 supporting Maine’s right to prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence — felony or misdemeanor — from possessing guns. Not merely buying a gun, or even “owning” a gun — but possessing guns. This opens a lot of doors to questions about the meaning of the second amendment. Or, as Rory Little noted, “an unremarkable gun case may be harbinger of things to come.”

72-INFORMATION EMPOWERS-BOSTON_191403

I’m not going to present myself as any kind of legal scholar, but since I started following ScotusBlog, I feel I’m getting real information plus a sane interpretation of what it might mean — short and long-term. I recommend it. It’s good  to have a source for data on current issues.

With reality becoming increasingly slippery, with opinions more and more being proffered as a substitute for evidence, this is my antidote.

NOTES FROM THE HOLODECK

For a long time, I followed writing prompts. I liked the challenge of finding something to say about a random topic. And I was interested to see the commonalities and differences between my thoughts and everyone else’s.

REUTERS/Noah Berger

REUTERS/Noah Berger

Lately, though, I want to write about other stuff. The crazy political stuff. The insanity of our failure to make any changes to our gun laws. The wild weather.

Talk about crazy. Insect plagues (not just here … all over the country) … and temperatures so high they turn forests to tinder. Flooding down the middle. Drought out west. Tornadoes threatening Chicago. Chicago? Mother Nature, like Howard Beale in “Network” screaming “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

network-howard-beale-horizontal-large

Network is a 1976 American satirical film written by the great Paddy Chayefsky. Directed by Sidney Lumet, it’s the story of a fictional television network willing to do anything and everything — including assassinating one of its own anchors on live television — to get better ratings. When the movie came out, it was almost science fiction. Now, except for not yet assassinating a reporter or anchor live during prime time, the rest seems tame compared to what’s truly going on.

Sometimes, I wonder if maybe Donald Trump was invented by TV network executives to get higher ratings for the news. It worked around this house. We hadn’t watched news on television — except for sports and weather — since Garry stopped being part of it.

Now, we watch the news every day just to see what new madness is in progress. “The Daily Show” seems more attuned to the surreal nature of current events than any of the standard stations.

daily show trevor noah

Not all that long ago, I had no trouble figuring out what was real and what was not. Now? There’s such a massive crossover between reality and “art,” I feel as if I’m living in the holodeck. In case you don’t remember (or never knew), the holodeck was a virtual reality facility on the Enterprise (especially on “Next Generation”). It was used to recreate environments — real and fictional — via “hard light” (solid and touchable) holograms.

holodeck

In our world, no such technology exists. Yet. So they tell us. Except that I’m beginning to wonder. Maybe this entire year is a creative exercise by some mad computer genius designing a world that could never be. Except … it does. Exist. And we are all living in it.

Or … maybe … we’ve slipped into an alternate dimension. Because this world cannot be real.