My Blog Week: February 16 to February 22
A Word on the Week
In times past, when the chief source of news in America was the three networks and PBS, I had a complaint. Say, for the sake of argument, the big story was a middle-east peace summit. A reporter on the scene might do duty to the facts, telling viewers the president and his team had arrived, were holding informal meetings that evening (perhaps), and would begin formal talks the next day…
Then, the network would typically have an expert, someone like Henry Kissinger, to offer analysis in the studio. They would follow this with a local expert opining from Tel Aviv; another local expert from Cairo. The story, and all the speculation that couldn’t count as news, because nothing had actually happened to report on, might take half the broadcast.
So I always felt that there were many countries in the world, any number of fascinating things occurring, and the chance to learn about them was being back-burnered for the sake of what might have been called “in-depth” reporting…but, as mentioned, wasn’t. It was in-depth punditry. I suppose the idea was to be ahead of the competition. People put a lot of stock in successful auguring.
When hundreds die in an earthquake, or an epidemic, or flooding from a cyclonic storm, American media tend to do predictive pieces on the likelihood of such happening here. I don’t think well-intended journalists, editors, et al., want to imply lives matter when they’re American. Probably the notion is this type of reporting makes foreign stories relatable. But it tends to reinforce the thinking that all the world’s countries are lined up in a queue, and America’s place is first.
Here are a few countries that have been reliable allies to the U.S., are visited each year by thousands of American citizens, are regarded by a number of Americans as safe and friendly, culturally important, superior in their governmental services, environmental awareness, progress in social equality: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden…
And all of them have a Democratic Socialist party, if not a Democratic Socialist government. If you lived in any of them, seeing someone on television or reading someone’s column in/on the newspaper/website, would not amaze you. You would not see sinister, conspiratorial implications in it. You would not speak irrationally of it. Only fringe-party extremists would suggest these stalwarts of your nation’s ordinary leadership were the next thing to Stalinism. America, in its unwillingness to view the distinction between Democratic Socialism and the Scary Red Monster, looks backwards…in both senses. Cold War-wards, and ignorant, uninformed. We look, at times, like cynical manipulators, wanting to make everything pay, taking advantage of every rube. Do the media giants really believe acknowledging that America is becoming a multi-party nation will destroy their business?
Look at what the “patriots” are trying to do, then. This push, to get Trump (Mitch McConnell) appointed judges on every federal bench, in tandem with the rise of predatory nuisance lawsuits, with hundreds of millions asked in damages in response to everyday statements and observations, the practice of traditional freedoms. Look at the grossly unlegal arguments the president’s law team bandied in aid of his foreordained acquittal. All these should be tea leaves enough to read. Reporters are on their way to being silenced, if they don’t plant both feet and stand firm through every onslaught. They’ll be sued for defamation at the drop of a hat; they’ll lose their cases because the judge will accept a bogus defense. No media company will be able to bear the costs, and so they’ll stop speaking in contradiction of anything the powers tell them to say.
Our intelligence agencies are being neutered, stripped of their independence; and internationally under Trump foreign policy, our country looks so untrustworthy that maintaining useful sources of intelligence can’t be easy. We’ve seen a scandal at the National Archives, when a photo was doctored to remove content. We’ve seen the EPA scrub its website of climate-change references…
We’re living in a best/worst of times scenario. Despite the attacks on journalists, everything now is news and everyone is a reporter, thanks to social media. And so each of us needs to use our individual reporting power to keep truth alive…
And spread a little shame among the Thuglicans. That Red Monster thought-suppression is not America.
On Monday, a long-planned piece, the windup of the Turtle Island story. Tuesday, in this week’s Cartoon Stories, a group of early ones where I began to develop the art to better convey the joke. Wednesday, “Wonderfully Made” a poem belonging to no series, but born of an exercise, of taking random numbers, finding associations, and turning them into a meaningful narrative. On Thursday, Frédéric Boutet’s “The Birthmark” complete, about vengeance sidetracked by a blackmailer. Friday, the fourth part of “The Recalcitrant One”, the peddler revealing something of his hidden nature. Saturday, a poetry reissue from The Poor Belabored Beast, “You Have an Enemy”.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: February 16 to February 22