We saw the two young (both 28-years-old) women  — Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin — who co-founded “The Skimm” on TV. Colbert, I think. Yup, Colbert. Garry was slightly outraged because he thinks everyone should read a newspaper and this is just one more step in the dumbing down of the news … and everything else. Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but being well-informed is godliness. If you don’t know what’s going on in the world, you cannot get into heaven.

(There will be a quiz at the gate. Spelling and punctuation count.)

Although I agree about the whole dumbing down thing, I also think you can’t reverse the way culture changes. You can become an old curmudgeon. You can join the ranters and ravers on social media, but it won’t stop change from happening. Especially since most people don’t regularly read a newspaper and aren’t going to start.

But. Many people try to keep in touch with current events and I believe more would if they could do it without investing a lot of time, money, or effort.

I was curious. Unlike Garry, I don’t read a newspaper. Haven’t in years. I read articles when something interests me. New Yorker articles more or less daily. Books (mostly audiobooks) constantly, though the literature I read is designed to keep me out of rather than in touch. I thought a one page news summary delivered to my inbox — especially if written with humor and style — might fit nicely into my world. Keep me sufficiently up-to-date so I don’t sound like Gary Johnson who didn’t know what or where Aleppo is (was?) … but would not require serious commitment to daily newspaper perusal.

I looked up The Skimm. I didn’t know how to spell it, but Google doesn’t care, they fix your spelling. It’s free, so I signed up. I signed Garry up too. Sneaky sneaky.


And, it turns out, I like it. It’s well written. Pithy. Witty. Clever. Leans a little to the left, which works for me. I find myself looking for it. Looking forward to it. It’s not exactly a deep, analytical purview of the news, but it gives me an idea what’s happening and to and by whom it’s happening. A place to start if I’m interested.

Despite himself, Garry likes it too. He didn’t want to like it. Doesn’t entirely approve of it. I suspect he considers it cheating on some existential level, like reading the classic comic instead of the book. Nonetheless, he reads it. So, in case you’d like to give it a try, here’s a link for you to click: THE SKIMM SHARE LINK

classic-comics_no_01_three_musketeersNOTE: If you are young, you’ve probably never encountered a classic comic. Pity about that. You haven’t lived until you’ve read the comic book version of an assigned book and used it as the basis of a book report or essay. For which you got an A.

The Skimm gives prizes for sharing their link, by the way. However, no prize would make me write about it if I didn’t like it.

I’m enjoying it. I think you might, too. Not only do I feel a bit better informed in a general kind of way, but I get at least one good chuckle with each read — and it is no more than five minutes of my time.

I can spare five minutes for an overview of the news.


Colin Kaepernick has been all over the news. He’s the 49ers quarterback who refused to stand for the national anthem as a protest against racism in the United States.


There definitely is far too much racism in the United States. Too many police incidents. I’m totally on board with Mr. Kaepernick’s right to express his opinion on the matter in any legal, non-violent way.

Our Constitution’s first amendment paints the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press with a broad brush. What it fails to point out (though it is implicit) is that everyone shares this freedom — on all sides of an issue.

So if other people hate how you express your opinion, they have the right to burn your jersey, refuse to go to games in which you are playing … and for that matter, dismiss you from your job.


Freedom cuts all ways. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Mr. Kaepernick is absolutely free to express his point of view. So can everyone else.

Do I agree with one side or the other? I agree with both sides.

More to the point, Mr. Kaepernick should have thought longer and harder about how he would take his stand. Offending many people is not always a good way to make your point, no matter how valid your point may be. He should have considered the potential impact on his fans — and ultimately, on his career. Especially in view of the fact that he’s not playing well.

In sports, you can get away with murder if you’re playing well. If you’re not …

If your team is less than thrilled with your on-field performance, getting involved in a major controversy might tip them in the direction of not renewing your contract. That’s the painful reality. I’m sure he never thought expressing his legal, constitutionally guaranteed opinion would raise such a negative ruckus — or end up with him facing unemployment.

You could classify this incident as a cautionary tale.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Legal isn’t the same as well thought out. Was he justified in protesting racism in America? Sure. But maybe this wasn’t the best way to go about it.



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.


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.


This is a crazy busy week. Dogs and doctors.

Two weeks ago, Garry pulled his shoulder (the one on which he had rotator cuff surgery seven years ago) lifting Bishop into the Jeep. He needed to see the ortho doc today.


I haven’t had the leisure to take many pictures or write posts. I’m surprised I’ve done as much as I have. It’s like dancing between the raindrops.

In answer to your unasked question, Garry is (apparently) okay. He hurts and it’ll take a few more weeks of healing for the pain to diminish. It’s probably a sprain, not a tear. Which doesn’t make it hurt less. As for me, I’m off to the arthritis specialist tomorrow. I’ve been avoiding this for a few years because the news on my spine is never good and the answer is always the same: there’s nothing to be done except control the pain. Bummer.

Garry’s going to be in New York next week. I’ll have plenty of time to write. Meanwhile, as our personal juggernaut drives relentlessly through a personal calendar that barely leaves me time to cook a meal, much less eat one, I’ll be thinking of you.

DNC democratic national convention logo_2016

Tonight, watching the DNC, I was proud to be a Democrat, the party that talks about inclusion and coming together. We ain’t perfect, but we are not demonizing minorities and spewing hate. We fight among ourselves, but in the end we are for America and for each other. And that makes me feel pretty good in a year when Orange Head is telling everyone we should be afraid of everyone, and especially each other.

I’m not afraid. I bet neither are you.

Today’s Daily Post theme is “unstoppable.” I’m hoping that’s exactly what we are. Unstoppable, brave, and honorable.


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.



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.


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.