See? Journalism!

9/01/2014 0
When in doubt, what do you do? You get younger. Obviously you can't do that for yourself, but you can with your NFL team, your company, your news organization.

With Diane Sawyer leaving the anchor desk for ABC's World News Tonight, the network decided to to turn the seat over to a young hotshot named David Muir. Forty-years old soaking wet, Muir has served his time overseas and as Sawyer's fill-in, so the network decided, hey, why not put a young guy in there and see if we can get a younger audience, especially women, and if and when the numbers tick up we can say, "See? Journalism!"

It's no secret that the evening newscast, once your only source of up-to-the-minute news, are as good as dead in the age of the Internet and 24-hour news. However, networks like ABC will cling to the old format as long as they can and continually scratch their heads wondering what's wrong?

What's wrong? Stop me if you've heard this, but the major networks, sans Fox News, have made the decision they'd rather die than serve the interests of the non-liberal populous. MSNBC and CNN are glad to be a distant second and third in the cable race. It's a far better fate than hiring people who do actual journalism and give conservatives a fair shake.

So congratulations to David Muir. It's a cushy job and I'm sure he worked hard for it. The Correspondents Dinner will be fun, joking with the president while the world burns. Kudos.


First Openly Gay NFL Player Treated Like Any Other; Cut

8/30/2014 0
Michael Sam has been cut by the St. Louis Rams. After competing for a spot with the team he came up just short. Coach Jeff Fisher treated Sam like any other player. He had his opportunity (and still may have one with another team) and it didn't happen; the same scenario that played out for thousands of other heterosexual players before him.

In the face of it, he was all class:

Again, he was treated like anyone else. Isn't that the definition of tolerance?

Not for the culture warriors:



And Why Not?

8/29/2014 0
We're back.

After the reelection of Barack Obama in November of 2012, I had a blogger nervous breakdown. I retired the Libertarian Popinjay, moved to Wordpress and posted rarely. I've seen many elections in my life, some with good results, some with bad results, but at the very least I understood them all. Not so in 2012.

But that was then and this is now in the "new normal" or whatever you want to call it. I'm back home. I may hate Google despite using it all the time (hypocrite!), but Blogger, with all it's flaws, feels more comfortable. I've dusted off some old designs and I'm gonna try to pick up where I left off. Can't promise I'll post as often as I used to, but we'll see how it goes.

I can promise that it'll get weird more often than not. These are indeed weird times.



Cult of Personality: Then and Now

Trying to explain history is no small task. You have to try. Part of being human is the search for understanding; the search for meaning. In the mid-90's, journalists Ron Rosenbaum set out to explain Hitler or rather he set out to explain the explainers in his extraordinary work of scholarship (aptly titled) Explaining Hitler. In the book, Rosenbaum looks at the historians and scholars who have spent a lifetime trying to explain what makes a person like Adolph Hitler. It boils down to the question 'Does evil know it's evil?'. Also, 'Are you born with evil or is it a learned behavior?'. Not surprisingly, no one has definitively cracked the case, but not for lack of trying.

After the fall of Hitler came the Cold War as the USA and USSR took their positions at loggerheads for the next 46 years. A fairly new book, Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War by Frank Costigliola, seeks to explain just how the Cold War started and how it might have been avoided. Unfortunately, Costigliola, like many scholars, is blinded by a cult of personality for the now fabled FDR as a savior of mankind. A reading of history that is all too familiar in this age of Barack Obama.

In his review of the book, Stuart Reid at the New Republic writes that Costigliola's main argument is that the sheer winning personality of FDR might have prevented the Cold War:

The more glaring problem with Costigliola’s argument, however, is that it places far too much stock in Roosevelt’s personal touch. Costigliola gives Roosevelt credit for “cultivating personal ties, playing to emotional dispositions, minimizing ideological and cultural differences, and restraining explosive emotions” and argues that “the Truman administration might have gotten further with Stalin had it addressed the dictator’s apparent emotional needs.” Although Roosevelt may have picked up more manners at Hyde Park than Truman did in Missouri, the book never explains just how greater sensitivity would have changed Stalin’s geopolitical calculus.

To put it bluntly, Costigliola believes that given more time, FDR might have been able to convince Stalin to not be, well, Stalin. With his "personal touch" Roosevelt could have prevented the Soviets from ravaging Eastern Europe.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Idol worship of political figures is a very dangerous thing. I hope it's not too late to reject this most recent cult of personality.


The Libya Scandal Unbound

10/27/2012 0
Mitt Romney made the right play in the last debate with President Obama which centered on foreign policy. While many like myself and even the cool cucumber Charles Krauthammer would have loved to see Romney go at Obama with a Louisville Slugger on the Libya debacle, it would have taken the debate into the tall weeds. As I've said many times, candidates running for president actually deserve our sympathy because they have to spend so much time - most of it in the home stretch - convincing really stupid people to vote for them. Maybe that's a little harsh but what you have to remember about "undecided" voters is that they have no real ideology. They never spend their time doing any deep thinking, of giving much consideration to things outside of their domestic bubble. Romney's message of "we'll be a strong nation (i.e. safe) abroad by being a strong nation domestically (i.e. economically)" was a stroke of genius considering who he has to win over in the final days. A broad, macro approach to foreign policy appeals to moderate or undecided voters who he can put him over the top on November 6th.

That being said, us political wonks know that what has happened in Libya is a "big f-ing deal" to quote our Vice President who isn't just an idiot, he's an unfeeling and callous individual. I'm the type of person that speaks my mind and occasional bends the rules of decorum, but asking a dead-soldier's father about his son's balls is the height of social ignorance and utterly contemptible. You see, to Obama, Biden and Hillary, we aren't even real human beings, we're like game pieces, but not in a game of kings like Chess or even Risk. I'm afraid we're all playing Sorry.

Be that as it may, all the evidence and ass-covering of the past weeks points to only one conclusion. President Obama left our people in Libya defenseless. The only question left is why? Was it a purely political decision? an avoidance of a possibly failed military mission before an election? Certainly the ghost of Jimmy Carter's ill-fated rescue attempt of the Iranian hostages is still with us. But even if that's so, it's maddening to think that Obama and his inner circle would think that something like this could stay a secret.

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