Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Joe Scarborough Hits Sarah Palin In Op-Ed

Yes, I'm back after taking a few very needed days off for Thanksgiving to spend with friends and family.....and then some extra time to clean up the mess we created, and take a day or so to recover....and stretch it out as long as possible. My fellow bloggers have been doing their stellar job and covered most of the bases, but I just came across this article, and ready or not, here's my two cents.

In Politico, former GOP congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough takes Sarah Palin to task for being Sarah Palin; that is, being a reality show personality by choice, and one who has practically no chance at all of ever being elected President of the United States. In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, Palin said that she believed she could defeat Barack Obama in 2012.

Also in in Walters interview Plain seemed to downplay Ronald Reagan, a figure close to sainthood in the Republican pantheon of heroes, as well as her referring to President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush as "blue bloods".

Scarborough says the following about the young Sarah Palin and her contrast to the young George Bush, a naval pilot during World War II.

I suppose Palin's harsh dismissal of this great man is more understandable after one reads her biography and realizes that, like Bush, she accomplished a great deal in her early 20s. Who wouldn't agree that finishing third in the Miss Alaska beauty contest is every bit as treacherous as risking your life in military combat? Maybe the beauty contestant who would one day be a reality star and former governor didn't win the Distinguished Flying Cross, but the half-termer was selected as Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants.

To anyone who's ever read my blog you know that I'm a lifelong Democrat, but one who did a 180 in my assessment of the first President Bush after reading the book Flyboys by James Bradley several years ago. I may not agree with George HW's politics, but I never questioned his commitment to his country or his patriotism. He left Yale at age 18 and was at the time the youngest aviator in the US Navy. His father, Senator Prescott Bush, told George he could get him a deferment from the draft- George wouldn't hear of it. He believed it was his duty to serve when so many with less advantage then he were being drafted to fight the Nazis and Imperial Japan. He was shot down near Chichi Jima, near the more famous island of Iwo Jima in September 1944. Though his plane was burning, and most of crew was killed, Bush completed his mission before ending up ain the ocean; Bush barely avoided capture by the Japanese, who at that time were executing mots of their allied prisoners.

Some blue blood.

And Sarah Palin?

A reality show star, former beauty queen.....and a governor who quit her job in the middle of the worst recession in 80 years to get rich through book deals and speaking engagements.

Below, more from THE HUFFINGTON POST on Scarborough's verbal evisceration of the famous Half Term (former) Governor of Alaska.....you betcha.

READ MORE.....Joe Scarborough Hits Sarah Palin In Op-Ed

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! A Repost of ALICE'S RESTAURANT, Arlo Guthrie's Thanksgiving Classic

A Happy Thanksgiving to all! Company started to arrive this afternoon, and it's time to get ready for the big day....so I'm going to cheat a little bit and repost last year's (2009) Thanksgiving entry about Arlo Guthrie and "Alice's Restaurant Masacree", probably the only song ever written that referred to Thanksgiving...that is, if you can call it a song at all......it's kind of a story, set to music......and we'll start telling the story after it comes around on the guitar.....one more time. ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY! And I'll be back with you in a couple of days.

It was 44 years ago or maybe 44 years ago on Thanksgiving that Arlo Guthrie went to visit his friends Alice and Ray in their restaurant, but that wasn't the name of the restaurant, its just the name of the song.....and Arlo went on tell the story of his post Thanksgiving feast act of kindness- taking the trash to a city dump and how he was arrested for littering and how it affected his status with Uncle Sam and the draft during those days of the Vietnam War and....whew!  I need to catch my breath! 

Arlo Guthrie's 18 minute musical monologue has the distinction of being the definitive Thanksgiving song- and I don't mean this in a backhanded way, but its by default. Name other song about Thanksgiving....times up! "Turkey Trot" by Little Eva doesn't count.

Arlo is the son of folk legend Woody Guthrie, and claims to have once had a babysitter named Bob Dylan when he was a kid. The story began in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in 1965 when Arlo visited friends Alice and Ray Brock in their home, a deconsecrated church- the Thanksgiving dinner took place at the Brock's home, not at the restaurant they ran, THE BACK ROOM REST in Stockbridge, six miles away.

Arlo recorded the LP ALICE'S RESTAURANT in 1967, and it became an instant FM radio classic at the time. Director Arthur Penn, fresh from his BONNIE AND CLYDE success in 1967, adapted the song into a film in 1969, starring Arlo, Pat Quinn, and the late James Broderick, Matthew Broderick's father. The film had cameos by Pete Seeger, Lee Hays (a member of THE WEAVERS, blacklisted in the 1950's), and William Obanhein, aka "Officer Obie", the arresting officer in Arlo's case.

Arlo is still performing after all these years, and is a proud progressive activist (God bless him). You can find out more about Arlo, including his upcoming shows and activities by clicking here.

For those who are interested, click here for ALICE'S RESTAURANT'S LYRICS.

For even more information on the story of Alice's Restaurant, visit this entry by Dennis Volkert for GateHouse News Service.

Monday, November 22, 2010

JFK; Remembering That Day In Dallas- November 22, 1963

It's 2:00PM EST on November 22, 2010 as I post this.

Exactly 47 years ago to the minute (1:00PM CST) President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead in Trauma Room 1 in Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Within 40 minutes of Kennedy's shooting Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in a movie theater in connection with the shooting death of Officer J.D. Tippit. Oswald slipped into the theater without buying a ticket; Tippit had stopped Oswald for questioning after Kennedy was shot.

Before long the Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza would be searched and a murder weapon, a Carcano M91/38 bolt-action rifle would be found on the 6th floor. A palm print belonging to Oswald would be found on the butt of the Carcano, plus records showing that he purchased it, and photos of him posing with the rifle. Oswald never got his day in court for the murders of Kennedy and Tippit; as we all know, Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered two days later by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

To all who were alive and at least of school age, the details of that November 22 and the following days will remain with you forever. I was in a shop class in junior high; when our teacher told us that Kennedy had been shot we thought het was pulling a bad joke. I remember looking outside and telling my classmates, no it's true....the flag was flying at half staff.

I went home that day and found my mother cleaning the oven with EASY-OFF. And she was crying. Later we sat down and watched the TV for hours. In those days there were only the Big Three Networks, but in the New York metro area we had four independent stations. The Indies stopped broadcasting their staples of cartoons, old movies, and reruns and just put a picture of the slain president on the screen, with somber funeral music in the background.

The networks stayed with the coverage of the events unfolding in Dallas, and of those in Washington, where Kennedy's body had been transported, and it's arrival with the widowed Jackie Kennedy, and the new President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Most of those images and words have become iconic, as were the reporters of the tragedy in Dallas.

I remember one of the reporters on TV holding up a copy of the DAILY MIRROR from London. The headline consisted of just three words.....

In so many ways, it was day in which the universe changed. You can say it marked the true end of the general era of good feeling we call "The Fifties" and the beginning of the turbulence, upheaval, and creativity and change of "The Sixties". The nation fell into a state of mourning that lasted into the holiday season. By the first day of 1964 a buzz was starting in America about a rock and roll band from Liverpool who would soon conquer America and the world, and change pop culture to an extent that no one has been ever able to equal.

A lot of people say that the assassination of JFK set the stage for the Beatles to take America by storm. Count me as one of those guys. After Kennedy's death the country was looking for something to pull them out of the dumps. The world seemed a bit colder and grayer. It took the arrival of the Beatles and the subsequent "British Invasion' to give the country a pick me up.....and in the course of doing so, not only was music changed but art, fashion, and films were transformed as well. In about 100 days after Dallas, all things British were considered good in the United States. No longer would pop culture be a unilateral American export.

The death of JFK also ushered in an era of assassination and attempted violence against public figures that lasted for nearly a generation. In the next 18 years Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X would be slain, George Wallace would be paralyzed, Gerald F. Ford would have two assassination attempts on him, and Ronald Reagan would be shot and seriously wounded. And of course John Lennon, part of the healing after JFK's murder, would ironically and sadly be murdered as well.

And JFK's death gave birth to another phenomenon- the Age of The Conspiracy Theory. We've dealt with conspiracies involving the deaths of most of those listed in the previous paragraph, the alleged murder of a Pope, conspiracies involving the death and possible marriage of Jesus Christ and his alleged descendants, of Vast Right Wing Conspiracies, and bigger Left Wing Conspiracies. Today we have birthers and truthers protesting (unsuccessfully) the legitimacy of the Obama Presidency.

And all the while I wonder, as do many others who look back on those events in Dallas in 1963...."what if?".

Just how different would our world be had those shots fired in Dealey Plaza missed? I wonder if the world we live in would have been better. Sometimes an enormous tragedy has ramifications in the fabric of time that runs longer than the lives of all who experienced it first hand.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

We're Going Into Our "Holiday Schedule"

No, "Righties". The President isn't blessing the turkey, only pardoning him. I'm still trying to figure out what Ole Tom did get arrested in the first place


First I'd like to thank all for taking the time to read and comment on this little old blog over the past year. It's always uplifting to see so many people from the United States and other nations drop in and read the drivel that I commit to the blogosphere.

As you know I usually try to add at least one new entry per day throughout most of the year. In 2009 I decided to limit myself to three posts each week from about Thanksgiving to the beginning of the New Year. Very simply, real life starts to take precedence for the end of the year holidays, and this year it seems to be a little hectic just a little bit earlier. I'll have a house full pf people by Thursday, and after that comes Christmas preparation and shopping- not just for me, but for my parents as well. To those who don't know my Mom and Dad are in their 80's and I'm their primary caregiver at this point. I'll be Christmas shopping for them, and for myself as well.....and yes, it is going to get a bit hectic. To be honest, it already is.

So rather than leaving readers guessing "whassup?" when I don't post for a day or two, that's the reason.

I'll commit to three entries per week from next week until early January 2011. But that's not cut in stone.....if there is something I want to comment on that I think requires it, I'll chime in.

But my bottomline is I need to create just enough space for myself for the next five weeks to take care of personal things.

See...even bloggers have "lame duck sessions".

Seeya later.

"Hugh Jee"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Read - N.J. court rules citizens cannot recall U.S. senators

Chalk one up for the Constitution of the United States of America, and a loss for the Tea Party in New Jersey.

In a 4-2 decision today the New Jersey Supreme Court struck down a provision added to the New Jersey Constitution  in 1993 that gave New Jersey citizens the power to recall US Senators. New Jersey Tea Party members had been trying to recall New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez. The following passage is from MSNBC.

The only way to end a Senate term early, the court said, is clearly spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, which empowers each house of Congress to "determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member." As far back as 1906, the New Jersey Court said, the U.S. Supreme Court noted that a senator's seat "could only become vacant by his death, or by expiration of his term of office, or by some direct action on the part of the Senate in the exercise of its constitutional powers."

I find it continually amazing, fascinating, and sometimes amusing that Tea Partiers, who claim to be so concerned about about preserving and "restoring" the US Constitution, seem to have such selective memory about it's provisions.

Below, the link to full story as reported by MSNBC's Pete Williams.

First Read - N.J. court rules citizens cannot recall U.S. senators

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christie-anity; A Sampler Of Cartoons Starring The Governor of New Jersey

I was going to say a few words about the Governor of  New Jersey- now that his National Tour 2010 has ended and he's staying in state for a few weeks- but then I decided to let it pass. Anyway, our blogger pal TC wrote an excellent piece featuring Chris Christie called Journalism; The Good, the Bad, and The Republican. It shows the vindictiveness of Governor Christie, no holds barred, and how he had no qualms about allowing the personal destruction of a woman who spoke disparagingly of him.....even if it meant choosing to ally himself to a convicted criminal to do so.

There are 45 Chris Christie entries on this blog, and many more related to New Jersey politics. I think I'll just post some of the works of the nation's and New Jersey's best cartoonists, and amuse or outrage you, depending on your political views.

And in closing.....today 130 employees of New Jersey Network received their layoff notices, effective in 45 days. Merry Christmas and Happy 2012!

New Jersey Network went on the air in 1971. It's purpose was to provide New Jersey specific news to the only state in the union that did not have its own VHF television station at that time. In a cost cutting move, the governor and members of the legislature want NJN to be privatized or to become a non profit. The lights will go out at NJN at the end of the year if no alternatives can be found.

So far, no plan is in place for the future of NJN.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ignorance Is U.S.(A.)

Bill Maher has taken heat from some people by calling the United States a stupid nation. On Friday Bill took it one step further, likening Americans to dogs, with short attention spans and only wanting immediate rewards from their masters.

I think that's kind of extreme. Americans are basically good people, and most aren't idiots.....but being a nation of 300 million plus it's clear that we do have a large segment of the nation who will never be confused with MENSA members. I do think there is more ignorance in America than we'd like to admit. Ignorance is not stupidity; the word implies "a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge)". Stupidity means a person is "lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; (they are) dull".

Many pundits, social critics, and bloggers have pointed to the results of the 2012 midterm elections and asked "Is America that stupid?". They voted into office more of the same people who who advocate the same polices that drove the economy off a cliff in 2008, either believing in the song they are singing, or blissfully unaware of who and what they are voting for.

Yesterday Sue posted a entry called Europeans Are Flabbergasted, a look at what our friends across the pond are saying about the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, and the "quality" of some of those swept into office. I'm sure every person looking at the results has a different take on why the Republicans made such great gains.....of course there are true GOP believers and those who have lost faith in Democrats to get the economy turned around (after less than two years of control of the Legislative and Executive branches of government).

But I think the underlying truth behind much of the GOP resurgence is that many Americans are gullible, and sadly ignorant about their country, their government, and their world. The Republican message machine exploited that fact.....and they seized a big chunk of power back from the Democrats last week.

Newsweek had a very revealing article recently called America the Ignorant; Dumb Things Americans Believe. These beliefs have little to do with political dogma, just facts that everyone should know.....and too many Americans don't. And you have to wonder "why?".

Consider some of the following.....about one fifth of the population and as many as 46% of Republicans believe President Obama is a Muslim. The first number came from a PEW poll, the second from TIME magazine.

A Gallup Poll said that only 39% of all Americans believe in evolution. The poll was taken February 11, 2009, the 100th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. It also said 25% don't believe in evolution and 36% had no opinion, or weren't sure.

About three out of four of all Americans believe in some form of the paranormal. Forty-one percent believe in ESP, 32% believe in ghosts...and 21% of all Americans believe that witches exist. See, Christine O'Donnell should have never made that commercial to "refudiate" being a witch. The poll was conducted by Gallup.

A Harris Poll found that 4 in 10 Americans believed what Sarah Palin and others said about "Death Panels" to be formed by this year's heathcare legislation. The results appeared in an article in USA Today last August.

As late as 2007 four out of ten Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks in a Newsweek poll. More poll respondents knew Jordin Sparks won American Idol (18%) than who the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was (John Roberts, 11%).

In a Gallup Poll from 1999, almost 20% of the respondents believed the sun revolved around the earth.

Only 53% of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity or Islam, this according to a Newsweek poll in September, 2007. That same poll told us that 36% of Americans didn't know the Amazon River is in South America.

A Zogby poll from 2006 showed that three quarters of those polled could name two of The Seven Dwarfs and only 25% could name two Supreme Court Justices.

And the youth shall come forth to lead us.....a Roper Poll conducted by National Geographic among young people (ages 18-24) and released in 2006 told us the following..... six in ten could not locate Iraq on a map. Other findings- following Hurricane Katrina almost one-third couldn't locate Louisiana, and half couldn't find Mississippi. About half couldn't find New York State on a map, and almost 75% couldn't locate Israel. The same poll showed that 90% young people couldn't couldn't find Afghanistan on a map that was of Asia only.

Almost 75% of those asked in an August 2006 Zogby Poll could name Moe, Larry, and Curly as the Three Stooges but about 42% could name the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial as the three branches of the US Government.

I guess you can bottomline these poll results by saying too many people know too little about things they should know, and know too much about marginal stuff. And these people are among the electorate of the United States.

When new arrivals become naturalized citizens they first have to take a citizenship test. When they pass they take an oath of allegiance, and are they receive the same rights as native born citizens....and that's great.

But our native born citizens' education about their world, their nation, and their government seems to have fallen through the cracks. I'm not proposing a test for voting- that's what we had in the Jim Crow South to prevent African Americans from voting by making the test impossible to pass. We do need to start educating our citizens in the things we need to know before we give them a high school diploma and send them out into the world. We should make courses in civics, US History, and World History mandatory in every state, and in every school system.

But that won't happen, because if such a requirement were implemented the Right would call it just more of the boogieman called Big Government stepping on the rights of school systems, and private and charter schools, to educate children as they see fit. And so we'll probably have an alternate history where cavemen rode dinosaurs 5,000 years ago and of a universe created in seven days competing with science and natural history.

The Americans who can't find Louisiana or Israel on a map or name one Supreme Court Justice didn't get dumb by watching Fox News, however Murdoch's gang is a primary source of the "disinforming of America"- but they're not alone.

One of the most telling (and sad) things I have ever witnessed on a news channel was an episode of The Situation Room on CNN a few years ago. Wolf Blitzer had Bill Cosby on as a guest, and the topic was educating America's youth, and quelling the rising rate of high school dropouts in America's inner cities. Halfway through the discussion Blitzer cut Cosby off to go to breaking news from Los Angeles.....

Paris Hilton was surrendering to authorities in LA to begin serving her jail sentence.

The late Walter Cronkite said the purpose of news was to tell people what they need to know. What we see all to often are news organizations telling people what they want to know, even if it is not really news at all, only more heaping helpings of pop culture morsels.

More than twenty years ago in Joseph Campbell; The Power of Myth, Campbell, the great mythologist and teacher, lamented to host Bill Moyers that education of our young people had become more utilitarian and concerned with only making a living in the future. He looked at the classical eduction of the past- what was once called Liberal Arts- as being of intrinsic value because of the broadness and range it covered. Maybe we just educated our young more completely in those days, making them better, informed citizens.

And smarter voters.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

3,106 People Have Checked My Blogger Profile; Was It Something I Said?

Out of the clear blue I checked my BLOGGER profile to check just what what kind of revealing stuff I posted  way back when.....and I noticed that 3,106 people have checked my profile.

I only have two questions.... (1).How many of you guys are pissed off about something I said?

And (2). Do you live within a 100 mile radius of Central New Jersey? I just want to know if I should be nervous answering the door late at night.

Anyway...my weekly retreat for watching football continues for a few hours more. I was present in Piscataway as my RU Scarlet Knights dropped a 13-10 heartbreaker to Syracuse yesterday, and watched the Jets' OT win against the Browns this afternoon.....I refuse any comment about the Giants-Cowboys; the lights went out in that game before they went out for real in the new and improved $1.5 billion New Meadowlands Stadium.

I'll be back tomorrow with a little piece I'm putting together about America and some of the crazy and erroneous things that too many Americans believe.

Believe it.....or not!

Friday, November 12, 2010

NYC transit union chief seeks to unmask blogger | Technology Headlines | Comcast.net

Hey guys...

I had a pretty busy day and found myself at a loss as far as writing something original. Also, I just felt the need to back off from the political for a day or two....well almost.

I did find an interesting article from Jennifer Peltz of the Associated Press that should be of interest to all bloggers that I'd like to share. Suppose you decided to take on a public figure in your blog, and the subject decided what you were saying wasn't accurate or fair. And suppose the person you're writing about tried to get a court order to get Google or Wordpress, or any other host you could be using to disclose your identity.

Something like that is going on the BLOGSPOT right now. The head of New York City's transit union, John Samuelsen, went to court to find out the identity of the blogger who's been blasting him, inaccurately and unfairly he claims, in an attempt to sully his reputation among union members.

Click the link below for more.....

NYC transit union chief seeks to unmask blogger | Technology Headlines | Comcast.net

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day 2010- A Time To Remember

I'm a third generation American veteran.

Grandpa fought under General "Black Jack" Pershing in the Argonne Forest in 1918 after America entered the First World War.

Dad joined the Navy on May 3, 1945, less than a month after his 18th birthday. Germany surrendered while he was in boot camp, and Japan did the same while he was in San Diego, preparing for the proposed invasion of the home islands.

One uncle on my mother's side was one of the men pinned down on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, and a cousin was one of the Marines killed at Peleliu in the Pacific.

My father's brothers served in the 1950's, one in Air Force, and another in the Army- he went Korea and fought at Inchon.

In the early 1970's the Vietnam War was dragging on; I joined the Air Force, and served during the war's last years and for almost half of that decade. I never saw combat, and my overseas experience consisted of two years in the UK. I participated in a lot of war games when my unit was attached to a British Army company in NATO exercises. I liked hanging with the Brits. They knew how to do it right; they had tents for officer's, NCO's, and enlisted men's clubs that had fully functioning bars and kegs of beer on tap. No wonder the Germans couldn't beat those guys- they fought for King, country, and transportable pub.

I was one of the lucky ones. I was never in harm's way, I never had to fire a weapon in combat, I never had to kill or be killed. There are many of us who lucked out, and many who did not. I think of those who fell or came back damaged quite a bit, and of the cruelty and stupidity of war and of those who try to glorify it.

I did my job, and then returned to civilian life. But in many ways, my days in the Air Force were some of the happiest. It was probably because of the live for today attitude we had; a phone call from the CQ could be the notification to get packed, you're shipping to Southeast Asia. Some of my friends got that call; I never did

If you have a chance, thanks a vet or an active duty serviceman or woman today. It's shameful that the wars of the Middle East get so little press these days; our people deserve so much more than our apathy.

To any veteran or military member reading this.....thank you, very, very much.


HBO will be presenting the entire ten episodes of The Pacific on Veteran's Day. If you didn't see it the first time or missed episodes, be prepared for an engrossing story centered on three young Americans and their experiences in the Pacific theater during World War II.

Both The Pacific and Band of Brothers will be available ON DEMAND on HBO until November 15. For those who haven't seen "BOB", it follows "Easy Company" from D-Day to the surrender and occupation of Germany in 1944-45.

This blog has 16 entries related to THE PACIFIC, including episode comments, a book review, and other commentary. One of the most consistent queries this blog gets is "whatever happened to Leckie and Stella?".

The answer, my friends, can be found on these pages.

Happy hunting!

Now....Where Were We? Olbermann's Return

Caricature above from THE NEW YORKER, June 2008

It only took a petition with 300,000 plus names attached demanding the reinstatement of Keith Olbermann by his bosses at MSNBC, but he did return on Tuesday night, first disclaiming that the suspension was a publicity stunt, and closed the show talking about the events, and offering both thanks and apologies where he saw fit.

One of the more interesting aspects of Olbermann Suspension Affair was the demand by many petitioners  that Keith's boss, Phil Griffin, be fired for suspending Olbermann because of his contributions to the campaigns of three Democratic candidates in last week's midterms. On further review, it should be said that Phil Griffin and Keith Olbermann go back a long, long way, nearly thirty years. Griffin and Olbermann first worked together at CNN in the early days of the first 24 hour news channel. Griffin, it seems, was an early supporter of Olbermann in those days, a producer who saw his talent when others had doubts about the young eccentric sportscaster turned newsman.

An interesting portrait of Olbermann and his relationship with Griffin, and others in the world of broadcast news, was published by The New Yorker on June 23, 2008. Titled One Angry Man; Is Keith Olbermann Changing TV News? the piece by Peter J. Boyer gives a warts and all look at Keith Olbermann and his brutal honesty that some might find over the top and even hurtful- co-worker at ESPN Suzy Kolber was said to have locked herself in the ladies room to cry on occasion after run ins with Olbermann.

Years later, Olbermann's brief tenure at Fox Sports was ended by none other than Rupert Murdoch himself. A few years ago Murdoch was heard to say "He's crazy", regarding Olbermann.

It's an interesting but lengthy read; and it's fairly objective. It won't change your opinion of "KO" if you're a friend or fan, but it will give you a clear portrait of a very complex guy, maybe even a slightly mad genius.

To progressives like me Keith Olbermann is one of the good guys fighting the good fight. Having said that, one can be one of the "good guys" without necessarily being a "nice guy" in the true sense of the word. And to be candid, after reading the New Yorker piece it's clear that KO has moments when he is not a nice guy. And in today's political climate that's not necessarily a bad thing.

For too long progressives whined after they were slapped around by the Righties. Olbermann punches back, and hard. And maybe that's why the Right detests.... and even fears him.....as much as they do.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Olbermann Apologizes to Viewers, But Not to MSNBC - NYTimes.com

Keith Olbermann responded to his suspension in an open letter on Monday, and credited the uproar created by his supporters to his return to the airwaves on Tuesday.

Below, a link from The New York Times for the full article.

Olbermann Apologizes to Viewers, But Not to MSNBC - NYTimes.com

Joe Paterno- 400 Wins And Counting

It's not very often that you can say that a record will never be broken in the world of sports. But when Penn State's head coach Joe Paterno won his 400th game with the Nittany Lions in Saturday's 35-21 victory over Northwestern, that's precisely what we have.....an accomplishment that the odds say will never be broken by any head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

After the win, Coach Paterno, who had been downplaying the significance of win #400 for sometime, said the following;

"People ask me why I've stayed here so long, and you know what? Look around, look around. Now that the celebration's over, let's go beat Ohio State".

Looking around....there were the more than 100,000 people in the stands of Beaver Stadium, making it "the third largest city is Pennsylvania" seven weekends every fall, and the 20,000 students in the "whiteout" student section once again.

To put this into perspective....if a university were to hire a new 35 year old head football coach who was instantly successful and proceeded to win 10 games a year until he was 65, he would fall 100 wins short of Paterno's record.

Joe Pa will be 84 years old next month. My father is only five months younger; he retired in 1993. Paterno arrived on the campus of Penn State after graduating from Brown University in 1950. He began his career as a Penn State assistant at about the same time my parents celebrated their first wedding anniversary. They have been married 61 years as of last July.

Paterno became the head coach at Penn State in 1966 and the Nittany Lions went 5-5 that first season. While Penn State and the legend to be had an up and down season, the following was happening in the nation and around the world in the autumn of 1966..............

The Beatles had just finished their last ever tour of the United States on August 29. Except for their impromptu jam on the roof of Apple studios in 1969, the 1966 American tour represented their last live performances, ever.

On September 8, Star Trek debuted on NBC.

On September 16, the Metropolitan Opera House opened in New York City.

On September 19th, Scotland Yard arrested Buster Edwards in connection with the infamous Great Train Robbery.

In October 1966 Toyota debuted the Corolla, and the Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.

On October 9, the Baltimore Orioles (with Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, and Frank Robinson) finished their four game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers (with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale) in the World Series.

President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the creation of the Department of Transportation on October 15th. The next day Grace Slick made her debut as the lead singer with Jefferson Airplane.

On October 21, the merger of the AFL and NFL was approved by Congress. Soon plans were made for Super Bowl I, then called "The AFL-NFL Championship Game".

On November 8 Edward Brooke of Massachusetts became the first African American elected to the US Senate since Reconstruction. The following day John Lennon met future wife Yoko Ono for the first time in a London gallery.

On December 15, Walt Disney died. How The Grinch Stole Christmas debuted on December 18, narrated by the late Boris Karloff( who died in 1969).

And of course, the Vietnam War was dragging on into the new year.

If it seems like it's been a long time, well it has been. I can think of few people who have been doing the same job and doing it so well for so long (with the possible exception of the three remaining founding members of The Rolling Stones) than the Brooklyn born, Ivy league educated man who became a legend in Happy Valley. Our pop culture demands that we manufacture some new icons every few years. But true icons, and legends, do it the old fashioned way.....and Joe Paterno has earned his place in the pantheon of college football immortals. That is, as if he hadn't already.

Congrats Coach.....from a loyal Rutgers guy.

Olbermann Returns To MSNBC On Tuesday

Welcome Home!

After suspending Keith Olbermann for making contributions to three Democratic candidates, and breaking MSNBC's ethics policy, the cable news network's chief Phil Griffin said that Olbermann will return to his show this Tuesday.

Griffin released the following statement.

“After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night’s program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.”

Almost 300,000 people signed an online petition presented by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to urge Olbermann's reinstatement by Mr. Griffin. Senator Bernie Sanders and others across the spectrum of politics and political commentary have also made statements regarding Olbermann's suspension and have asked for his return to MSNBC.

Surely, a very memorable Special Comment will follow.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Maybe This Is What Keith Olbermann Planned- Do You Think?

I'm going to just go and ask my progressive brethren- and all others who might of had the same thought- the question I'm sure all of asked sometime in the past 24 hours.

"Do you really think Keith Olbermann was so dumb he didn't think he would be caught for contributing to the campaigns of three Democrats, violating MSNBC's ethics policy?".

My answer is.....no, he is not that stupid, or arrogant enough to think he would not be discovered, and not dealt with by management.

Yesterday POLITICO reported that Olbermann made the contributions of $2,400 each for three Democratic candidates. Keith Olbermann has said on air many times that he doesn't vote in elections, implying that by voting he might compromise his credibility as an on air commentator.

That being the case.....why did he contribute to three campaigns, in states where he didn't live and had no obvious connection other than political sympathy, and leave a trail that could very easily be traced?

I can think of no other reason other than he wanted the contributions traced back to him. He's a smart guy; he knows that what he did violated MSNBC's ethical standards. He knew that management would have to come down on him. But Keith Olbermann is also well aware that he is the biggest star of the left leaning cable network, and is the person who might be most responsible from rescuing what was in the early part of the decade the perennial bottom feeder of the cable news networks. Olbermann is the first person to give MSNBC an identity, a presence, and a voice.

Keith knew he would be disciplined, but not shown the door. Hence, he was suspended indefinitely.

I believe he was setting himself up for this confrontation, and he did so knowing the outcome. By doing this Keith Olbermann made his statement not about his actions, but about the role FOX NEWS and right wing media has as a money making machine for Republicans and right leaning candidates and causes.

Below, Keith's colleague and friend Rachel Maddow talks about Keith's suspension.

Here's a quick rundown about some of the contributions made by FOX NEWS hosts and contributors to various candidates and contributors, taken from MEDIAMATTERS.

Sean Hannity- gave $5,000 to Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) PAC. He also gave $4,800 to Republican candidate John Gomez, a childhood friend. Hannity has hosted GOP fundraisers, and was to tape a show at a Tea Party event in Cincinnati where admission was to be charged. FOX pulled the show.

Mike Huckabee- the former governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate is a weekend host at FOX. He's contributed to the campaigns of Daniel Webster (FL), Doug Matayo (AK), and Beth Ann Rankin (AK). More information here.

Sarah Palin-regularly gives money to the GOP through her Sarah PAC.

A more detailed accounting of contributions and possible conflict of interest at FOX can be found here, with the names Dick Morris, Oliver North, Andrew Napolitano, and Neil Cavuto being prominent.

And this from POLITICO.....The following have offered support to Republican candidates during the 2010 election cycle.

* Fred Barnes, Fox News contributor
* Glenn Beck, host of Fox News' Glenn Beck
* Eric Bolling, host of Fox Business' Follow the Money
* John Bolton, Fox News contributor
* Tammy Bruce, Fox News contributor
* Elaine Chao, Fox News contributor
* Monica Crowley, Fox News contributor
* Mike Gallagher, Fox News contributor
* Newt Gingrich, Fox News contributor
* Sean Hannity, host of Fox News' Hannity
* Mike Huckabee, host of Fox News' Huckabee and Twentieth Television's The Huckabee Show
* David Hunt, Fox News contributor
* Laura Ingraham, Fox News contributor
* John Kasich, former host and contributor
* Brian Kilmeade, co-host of Fox News' Fox & Friends and host of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends
* William Kristol, Fox News contributor
* Michelle Malkin, Fox News contributor
* KT McFarland, Fox News national security analyst and host of FoxNews.com's DEFCON 3
* Angela McGlowan, Fox News contributor
* Dennis Miller, Fox News contributor
* Dick Morris, Fox News contributor
* Rupert Murdoch, CEO and chairman of News Corp., parent company of Fox News
* Andrew Napolitano, Fox News senior judicial analyst and host of Fox Business' Freedom Watch
* Sarah Palin, Fox News contributor and host of Fox News' Real American Stories
* Dana Perino, Fox News contributor
* Dave Ramsey, listed Fox Business personality and former host of Fox Business' The Dave Ramsey Show (through June)
* Sandy Rios, Fox News contributor
* Karl Rove, Fox News contributor
* Rick Santorum, Fox News contributor
* Doug Schoen, Fox News contributor
* Andrea Tantaros, Fox News contributor
* Stuart Varney, Fox News contributor and host of Fox Business' Varney & Co.

In his way, Keith Olbermann is now putting the spotlight on FOX and contrasting how MSNBC conducts business, and how FOX is the business of Republican fund raising. The GOP has their own "news" organization that shapes its message and raises cash at the same time.

As of this writing 183,314 people have signed a petition to have Olbermann reinstated.

Just maybe, in his own mad genius kind of way, this whole situation was set into motion willingly by Keith.

If this was the case, it might be a brilliant and galvanizing move.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sen Bernie Sanders- "Keith Olbermann Should Be Reinstated Immediately "

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) issued the following press release regarding the suspension of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for contributing $2,400 to each of three candidates in the recent midterm congressional elections. Each of the candidates was a Democrat. MSNBC has a policy of not allowing news anchors to make political contributions.

“It is outrageous that General Electric/MSNBC would suspend Keith Olbermann for exercising his constitutional rights to contribute to a candidate of his choice. This is a real threat to political discourse in America and will have a chilling impact on every commentator for MSNBC.

“We live in a time when 90 percent of talk radio is dominated by right-wing extremists, when the Republican Party has its own cable network (Fox) and when progressive voices are few and far between.

“At a time when the ownership of Fox news contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Party, when a number of Fox commentators are using the network as a launching pad for their presidential campaigns and are raising money right off the air, it is absolutely unacceptable that MSNBC suspended one of the most popular progressive commentators in the country.

“Is Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz next? Is this simply a ‘personality conflict’ within MSNBC or is one of America’s major corporations cracking down on a viewpoint they may not like? Whatever the answer may be, Keith Olbermann should be reinstated immediately and allowed to present his point of view.”

The passage above first appeared in the blog Senatus on Friday November 5, 2010.

UPDATE: Olbermann suspended for Dem contributions – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs

Very briefly.

Corporations are guaranteed the same rights as individuals because the Supreme Court says so, and they proceed to fill Republican war chests before the midterms.

Fox News acts as a 24/7 infomercial for the GOP and Tea Party.

Keith Olbermann contributed $2,400 to three Democrats this year, and now he's been suspended indefinitely by MSNBC for ethical violations.

And just how much did parent companies MSN and GE contribute to political campaigns, and to whom?

It's official...the world really has gone mad. This really, really, really sucks.

A new FACEBOOK page called Let's Bring Keith Back has been established.

I'll be back with more after I calm down.

UPDATE: Olbermann suspended for Dem contributions – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Palin 'favorites' photo that claims Obama is a 'Taliban Muslim'


This is really disgraceful.

Whatever you think of Barack Obama, he's the President of the United States and we're at war against the Taliban. I'd expect something like this from a soulless troll like Ann Coulter, but Sarah Palin is supposedly one of the leaders of the Republican Party.....and it appears a candidate from the presidency.

Click the link below for the story and see the photo from FACEBOOK that claims Barack Obama is "an illegally elected Taliban Muslim", favorited by the half term former Governor of Alaska.

"Refudiate" that, Ms. Palin.

44 - Palin 'favorites' photo that claims Obama is a 'Taliban Muslim'

McConnell- Defeating Obama Is Top Priority

So much for bi-partisanship. It lasted less than 24hours after the House was retaken by the Republicans in an old fashioned "shallacking', in the words of President Obama.

Today at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admitted to the audience what anyone with an ounce of sense knew from Day One of the Obama presidency.........the priority of the GOP was to deny Barack Obama a second term in the White House.

The following passage is from TPM.

Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office. But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things."

Do you think he was misquoted? OK, check this out....

OK, now I'm not a violent or angry person by nature......but when I saw the very smug Senator McConnell say that the priority of his party is to insure the defeat of Barack Obama while a staggering 9.6% of the population is unemployed and the economy is still in the early stages of recovery after the worst economic calamity in 80 years......my Inner Sipowicz came out.

You remember Andy Sipowicz, the tough talking cop Dennis Franz played in NYPD Blue? Andy had a way of getting people tell him what he wanted hear. And after hearing McConnell lay it out about the GOP's priority #1 was beating Obama when almost 10% of America can't pay their bills, feed their kids properly, or pay their mortgages.....leading to more foreclosures, more blighted neighborhoods, possibly to more bank defaults.....I thought maybe McConnell deserves the Sipowicz treatment.

I'm not saying smack him around (God forbid)....just scare the living crap out of him until old Mitch gives the right answer,which should be......

Priority #1 for America's leaders must be job creation. Period and end of story. What McConnell said today was politicking as usual and was a disgrace. Any words about working together with the President the previous day was a sham, or to be blunt, a lie.

But I suppose I'd better get used to it.....and give my Inner Sipowicz a rest. It doesn't take a soothsayer to read the leaves. It's going to be, to put it mildly, a very interesting couple of years.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Analysis; A Look At The Results of the 2010 Midterm Elections

Above, President Obama talks to probable new Speaker of the House John Boehner on election night 2010


It's the economy, stupid!

And it was heard, loud and clear from sea to shining sea. Republicans rode the wave of voter discontent to take control of the House of Representatives last night, but didn't take the Senate. On the House side, Democrats controlled that body, 255-178. It looks as if the the Republican takeover could get the GOP a 242-193 edge (estimated at this hour). the Senate will remain in Democratic hands, with 49 seats (and two independents caucusing with them)in their hands, plus the tie breaking vote of Vice President Joe Biden. You can read about the individual races nationwide, but here are a few thoughts and notes I made overnight.

1. The GOP won the House yesterday, but now they have to deliver. The Republicans told voters that government needs to get smaller and spend less. Not one of the Republican leaders, such as probable new Speaker of the House John Boehner or his #2 Eric Cantor, is specific as to what will be cut. Their job creation plan seems to be hold unto the Bush tax cuts and hope that the private sector reinvests in America and gets the American economy moving again. And how will the House co-operate with President Obama and his administration? They cannot remain the "party of no"- they have to get something done, and they have to do it soon. The 2010 midterm was about change, as were the elections of 2006 and 2008. The Republican House cannot be obstructionist because if they are they'll lose the House as quickly as they won it in 2012.

2. Can the Republican leadership keep it's Tea Party faction on a short leash?. Despite their failures in most Senate races, the Tea Party emerged as a force to be reckoned within the GOP. Tea Party backed Republican candidates won 113 of 129 House races. Many of these new representatives ran on the "strength" of not being professional politicians. Now comes their reality check- politics IS a profession. They have a job to do, and some of the more extreme members can't be concerned with the birth certificate or "secret Muslim faith" of the President, or be involved in whacky schemes to have the President impeached. Sarah Palin and her guy on the inside of Washington, Jim De Mint, let the genie out of the bottle, and now the mainstream of the GOP have to deal with a probable divide from within, conservative vs. ultra-conservative.

3. Barack Obama is a brilliant man, a good leader, but not the world's greatest politician. The Democrats were poised to lose Congressional seats last night; that's what happens in midterms. But losses could have been minimized if the President did a better job of selling his accomplishments to the voters. Much time was devoted to healthcare reform while unemployment hovered at close to 10%. Healthcare reform should have been presented in a way as to show how getting away from employer mandated healthcare could help private enterprise, but the administration's message was weak.

And the President should have been more adamant about job creation. If there was no co-operation given by Republicans and the private sector, he needed to take that to the American people. Instead, he held an olive branch to Republicans instead of a club.

America wanted to see co-operation between the Democrats and Republicans, but it wasn't going to happen. Everything the President wanted to do was opposed by Republicans. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, said early on his aim was to make Barack Obama a one term president. The President should have taken him at his word, because now the GOP's plan is very close to being on schedule.

4. The Reagan Democrats of the Rust Belt went to the GOP. This might be the most disturbing factor of the night for Democrats. Part of the coalition that swept Barack Obama to the White House in 2008 went to the other side in large numbers. The Great Recession of 2008 is over, so say economists. But many former industrial workers in the vast area stretching from Pennsylvania to Minnesota, the Great Lakes region, have been living in near depression realities for years. In those states unemployment has topped the unacceptable 9.6% national average for years, and the anxiety of the laid off workers who are living off of their life savings were part of the angry backlash.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews is a Philly guy who "gets it". Early this morning he talked about the need to for America to start making things again, in factories, manufacturing, and in public works. The auto industry in the Midwest was saved by a bailout, but it had been on the ropes for years. The American heartland has always been where America made things, and now we are not. President Obama and the Dems will be OK in New England, the Mid Atlantic, and the West Coast. The Mountain West and the South are owned by Republicans. Obama must get the Rust Belt on the way to recovery, and soon, or he may have trouble winning a second term.

5.) The 2012 election cycle begins now, and I think the President's challenger will come from the New Jersey . The power struggle from within the Republican Party to produce a challenger to Barack Obama begins in earnest today. The mainstream GOP has a nominal leader in John Boehner; the Tea Party is for all practical purposes led by Sarah Palin. Get ready for oil mixing with water.

The conventional wisdom is that Sarah Palin would be a weak candidate for the Republicans to run against the President; her negatives are higher than Obama's. The party insiders dislike Mitt Romney, a man who's positions seem to change with the direction of political winds. Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee would just reinforce the perception of the GOP as a Southern party.

I really think the Republicans will try to catch lightning in a bottle and urge Chris Christie, New Jersey's governor of less than a year, and a former federal prosecutor, to run in 2012. He's become a rock star among Republicans despite his lack of a track record, because of his tough talk and in your face style. He could run strong in the Mid Atlantic region as well.

And I don't think it's a crazy idea; Obama and Palin had little experience on the bigger stage, and found themselves on national tickets in 2008; one is President of the United States, the other is now the leader of an effective populist movement.

As I said on another board late last night, Tip O'Neill had it right; all politics is local. And I think New Jersey and it's governor are about to get a national spotlight put on them starting today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Holt, Runyan, and Pallone Among The Winners in New Jersey House Races

As expected, Republicans gained control of the House tonight in the 2010 midterm elections, but it appears that the Senate will remain in Democratic hands....but the votes are still being counted.

Here in New Jersey 12 of 13 incumbents were re-elected. Only incumbent Democrat John Adler fell to former Philadelphia Eagle Republican challenger Jon Runyan in New Jersey's 3rd District, 50 to 47%. By taking the traditionally Republican district back from the Dems, the GOP had a net gain of one seat in New Jersey.

Two other races that were watched closely in New Jersey were the 6th, where Democratic incumbent Frank Pallone withstood a feisty challenge from Republican/Tea Party candidate Anna Little. His 54-44% victory was initially a nail-biter, with Pallone trailing by double digits until the vote from Democratic strongholds in Union and Middlesex counties was counted.

An even closer race was in my home district, the New Jersey 12th. Rush Holt, the Democratic incumbent, won 52 to 47% with 505 of the 537 precincts counted, defeating GOP challenger Scott Sipprelle. Holt trailed early on by more than 20 points early on, but once again Middlesex and Holt's home county of Mercer came in strong with 52% and 70% respectively.

Holt's people were manning the phones, and had people on the street today to get out the vote. At 7PM tonight my doorbell rang; it was a Democratic worker dropping in to see if I had voted already. I had.

This one was THAT close. Rush Holt and the Dems had to really work for this one.

For a look at the congressional races in New Jersey, click here.

I'll be back with an analysis of the state and national results tomorrow morning.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vote or Die!

(Sigh)....If only the Dems woulda (coulda, shoulda) come up with a catchy slogan to counter "Don't Tread On Me", just maybe things would be different....oh, I won't go there.

Thanks Paris....nice shirt.

Be sure you get out and vote tomorrow....even if you are going to vote the "wrong" way!

"Hugh Jee"

Rally To Restore Sanity.....Take a Breath, and Move Forward


I got around to watching The Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear on a CSPAN rerun on Saturday night; Saturday afternoons in the fall are religiously reserved for watching at least one college football game in it's entirety. So while many of my progressive brothers and sisters were being entertained by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and a cast of 200,000 in Washington,DC, I was watching Pitt stick it to Louisville from Heinz Field.

Reading comments about the rally (and there's some really good one's at Sue's blog, for example), had me thinking about where we are in this country as far as the ratcheting up of rhetoric, and of the level of divisiveness we see today. Republican strategist Ed Rollins was on CNN last week- he's a conservative but very personable and reasonable guy- and he said something that I, being a lifelong Democrat agree with 110%; the level of nastiness in American politics has never been more venomous or destructive. Ed Rollins has been a party operative to the days before Richard Nixon, back to the Reagan administration- as governor of California. And he knows of what he speaks.

Jon Stewart, in his closing remarks at the rally should have touched a nerve with the nation's opinion makers and pundits, both self proclaimed and appointed......

The country's 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

And then came the shots at Stewart, from both left and right. Right winger Andrew Breitbart said the following about the rally (and a veiled shot at Stewart).

It's very motivating for conservatives to have that stereotyped group of Manhattan elitists, know-it-alls, snarky, smarmy liberals to be looking down on average Americans."

On the left, Keith Olbermann said on Twitter that Stewart had "jumped the shark" in his criticism of cable news.

But in analysis, there is more than a little truth in what Stewart said. Cable news has become a chess game of finger pointing at not only those people in the news, but at each other in the news gathering/punditry business- those on "the other guy's" network.

Let's back track for a few minutes and talk about broadcast news, the way it used to be. There used to be the "Big Three" networks 30 years ago, with Walter Cronkite on CBS, John Chancellor for NBC, and Peter Jennings on ABC, all doing their network's respective evening news broadcasts.. The networks were required by the FCC to have news broadcasts for their licensing responsibilities, shown for the public good. News operations lost money routinely in those days, but still produced broadcast journalists and journalism that set the standards by which those that followed were judged.

In the late 1960's, a news magazine called 60 Minutes made it's debut on CBS. It was low rated, and had a cult following for years. By the mid 1970's that changed; it became a phenomenon, a ratings winner, and the show moved to it's familiar 7PM Eastern and Pacific timeslot on Sunday nights.

And it was a game changer for network news; it MADE money instead of losing it. News could be entertaining and informative, and show a profit for the network. The success of 60 Minutes was the first of the changes that would alter the news universe forever. Soon ABC and NBC followed with their own news magazines, 20/20 and Dateline. And there were similar shows on the local TV stations, who's aim was to inform, entertain, and just as importantly, get good ratings and make a few bucks.

Then in 1980 came the second big change in news; Ted Turner founded CNN. The news cycle became 24/7. And with the 24/7 news cycle the constant need to feed the beast; more news all of the time, some of it important, some of it less so. Punditry had a new home where it could flourish at levels never before seen. CNN became a money maker, and in less than two decades competition emerged- conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch launched Fox News on October 7, 1996. A few months early, in July 1996, MSNBC, a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC, took to the airwaves.

Over the next ten years the ideological lines were drawn to what we have in cable news today; Fox became the information source of conservative America, MSNBC spoke to the progressives, and CNN tried to walk a fine line in the middle. Fox and MSNBC  gave their respective viewers the messages and answers they wanted to hear, those which reaffirmed their personal belief systems. And those two networks were the ones that shouted the loudest, though CNN would get into the fray as well.

Because it wasn't just about news anymore; it was about ratings, and money, and showing a profit for the corporate bottomline. The cable news networks had their audiences, and now they had to keep them. The shouting began in the Clinton administration, and continued and got louder under Bush, and became even louder in the Obama years.

The news networks didn't create the toxic discourse we see today; talk radio and the print news industry, and political demagogues have been around much longer than cable news. But cable news did give a bigger megaphone to those on different sides of the ideological spectrum. The voices of the cable news channels get paid quite well to do what they do, and like all good performers play to their audience. They do and say the things their audience only wishes it could do and say, about politicians, and about those they disagree with.

Joseph Campbell, the great teacher and mythologist, once said that a society that gains a new technology usually feels a sense of breakdown. For instance, when the American Indians obtained firearms and horses the old ways of hunting , and the religious, symbolic, and societal rituals of the hunt slowly eroded away, doing damage to their culture and traditions, and hastened their fall to Euro-centric expansionism. The printing press of Renaissance Europe spread new learning and ushered in the Age of Exploration. But it also gave a translation of the Bible,  and the spread of religious protest and dissent that resulted in decades of war and destruction

And maybe that's where we are now with political discourse. The rise of cable news, and the internet as well, created an opportunity for instant access to breaking events around the world, be it large or small. But that same technology can be used  to promote agendas for those who control the airwaves; and sometimes that means keeping people divided for one's own interest.

I really find it amusing to listen to Tea Partiers who "want to take the country back to what the Founding Fathers Wanted". I hate to tell those of you who believe it can be done, but it can't. The founders of our nation could not fathom where we are technically, where you can pull a device out of you pocket and talk to anyone in the world, or send a written message in a matter of seconds, or buy some clothes and pay for it instantly, or read the news of the day originating in Paris or London.

Remember, the first citizens of the United States could walk past their congressmen, their senators, or even President Washington himself, and not recognize one of them- no photography yet, or enough access to portraits of the men who governed America. Today every word uttered in Congress or the West Wing is watched by thousands on CSPAN, and analyzed for hours on the news. Congressmen lived in Washington (or New York or Philadelphia) for months at a time back in the day; they had to- travel was long, slow, arduous, and was on horseback. Today Congressmen fly home every weekend to raise more money for the next election. In that bygone era lawmakers lived together and even spent time off together- even those of opposing parties found commonality and friendship in what we now call "downtime".  And the reality is today's lawmakers must play to the omnipresent camera, remembering every word and nuance will be gone over with a fine toothed comb, and eventually will be on YouTube.

A different world, and a different time.

And we can't go back, we can only move forward.

So step back, take a deep breath, then think......and then respond. Maybe that's a first step out of many that need to be taken.

Update! Huffington Post has a slide show of differing opinions on the merits of the Rally To Restore Sanity from pundits on both sides of the political spectrum. It's worth a look.
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