Posts Tagged ‘Fox News’

It’s Time to Un-dumb America

Saturday, December 1st, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

Sarah Palin ... she was the warning .

               Sarah Palin
    … she was the warning

I think Sarah Palin was the canary in the coal mine. We missed the warning.

I’m sitting at the keyboard asking myself when it became OK to be dumb in America. Never mind just dumb. There’s always some of that. In a better, more tolerant, mood, I might call it ill-informed or poorly schooled.

I’m not talking about that and I’m not in a tolerant mood. I’m talking about proudly dumb. Insistently dumb. Scientifically dumb. Historically dumb. Intellectually dumb. Socially dumb. Patriotically dumb. Spiritually dumb. Financially dumb. Ethically dumb. Environmentally dumb. Grammatically dumb. Unhealthfully dumb. Politically dumb. Morally dumb. I-don’t-want-to-hear-it-because-it’s-inconvenient dumb.

Willfully dumb.

Sarah Palin/Donald Trump dumb.

The planet is on schedule to destruct by the end of the century. Eating romaine lettuce anywhere in America right now could kill you. The pretender-in-chief of the United States of America says California could prevent forest fires by raking leaves. He also says it’s OK to tear-gas children across the border in Mexico because the adults who brought them to seek asylum in America are criminals and might not even be their parents and, besides, the Border Patrol used “safe” tear gas. This is supposed to be better than devoting sufficient resources to processing the asylum seekers in an orderly, dare I say, humane manner.

Dumb. And apparently just fine with millions of Americans as long as their kids aren’t the ones being hit with tear gas.

Along with the turkey, I enjoyed a 100 percent organic salad on Thanksgiving (no romaine). I will be upset with myself if every word in this column is not spelled correctly. In many households in this country, these two admissions make me some kind of strange creature, a “libtard,” as the MAGA geniuses on social media put it. Someone to be scorned or mocked.

Why? I mean, why is it a bad thing to eat good food that is free of chemicals or to not want to have spelling or grammatical mistakes in something that carries your name as the author? I get it that on social media the standards are significantly lower, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing when you’re supposed to be making your country great — again, no less.

I’ve been called a lot worse than “Libtard” in my opinion-writing career, so it’s not personal. I just think that letting anything someone misspells, mispunctuates or misquotes pass as acceptable, while it may sound egalitarian, is really a way to lower the bar.

Like when Palin, running for vice president, was asked what newspaper she read and answered, “All of ‘em.” In other words, none of ‘em. She also said she could see Russia from her front porch in Alaska and that gave her foreign policy experience. And she gave this memorable account of Paul Revere’s ride:

“He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells, and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.”

We escaped Palin, but wound up with Trump.

I get it that some people are just born with more brain power than the rest of us and that not everyone grows up in an environment that encourages learning, curiosity and a willingness to hear new ideas. An environment that makes it OK to say, “I don’t know” without fear of ridicule.

Fear is a powerful force, especially the fear we create in our minds. Donald Trump thrives on it. His entire political philosophy, if he can be said to have one, is based on fear of those who question, those who disagree, those who look, sound or think differently. “Others.”

“They” are coming to take something away from you or to harm you. It’s a fear founded in ignorance. But worse. Trump preys on other people’s fears for his own personal gain — votes, money, prestige, power. It’s always a transaction for him, easily changed for the right (more profitable) counter-offer. And some people choose to believe him in spite of all the evidence to the contrary because they have never learned — are afraid — to say, “Why?” Or, “Are you sure?” Or, “I don’t know.”

For Trump himself, in my humble opinion, the fear is that he will be found out as a fraud and so he must at all times act as if he knows what’s going on. He’s been doing it all his life. It doesn’t even matter if he believes what he says.

Global warming? “I don’t believe it.” He hasn’t got a clue, but all those people who actually studied when they went to college — “The ones who think I’m stupid even though I’m worth billions and they’re not — think it’s real. I’ll show them. I’ll save the coal mines.”

West Virginia goes for Trump. Dumb.

That Thanksgiving salad? I’m not a stickler for organic, but I do like to know the food I eat is safe as well as healthful and delicious. I do think it’s dumb to reject some food out of hand because someone says it’s good for you. Brussels sprouts, for example. Try it. If you don’t like it, at least you have some reason for not eating it other than you think those who do are strange. And strange, by the way, need not be threatening.

Neglecting the safety of our food or failing to teach children about the health benefits of a diet balanced beyond French fries and pizza is dumb. Trump doesn’t care. We should. He exists on ‘burgers and mocked Michelle Obama for trying to make school lunches more healthful. I’d like to think she succeeded, but I’m not sure. As someone who lives in apple country this is hard to say, but I’m pretty sure middle schoolers are still tossing apples in the trash when they leave the lunch room.

OK, this is not a treatise, just a minor rant. I’m probably hungry. But I do think, given all the above, our educators and legislators have a major challenge facing them. The Fox News Generation, fed a daily diet of fear and fiction, may be beyond saving, but there’s still time and hope for the youngsters. Knowledge is power. Our schools need to step up their game. They need to  encourage intellectual curiosity and let students know that it’s OK to know stuff. To know how to tell the difference between real and fake news, for example.

That way they may be able to tell the difference between real and fake candidates for political office, they’ll know the Earth is not flat and, Twitter notwithstanding, spelling is not a function you should leave entirely to your phone.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

GOP Has a Day of Reckoning Coming

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

The face of the Republican Party.

The face of the Republican Party.

There is a light at the end of this tunnel called a presidential election campaign and, if the gods are not playing a cruel trick on us, that light is not on an engine with TRUMP emblazoned on its sides. In any event, the end is near and I am as weary of writing about this ugly affair probably as  you are of reading about it.

The problem is, that’s all most of the mainstream and social media care to talk about these days. In case you missed the other news: 1) The Cubs and Indians are in the World Series. 2) Heavily armed police in North Dakota attacked hundreds of protesters who joined the Standing Rock Sioux tribe trying to block construction of a pipeline they say threatens water supplies and sacred sites. And 3) Tim Tebow is apparently just as good at baseball as he was at playing quarterback in the NFL.

But really, the only thing the media want to talk about are Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the election is rigged and that the press — meaning all the news outlets who report accurately on his words and actions — lie.

These are claims that losers and demagogues resort to when everything else — lies, threats, lies, threats, lies, threats — fails. Honestly, it is disheartening to feel a need to point out to, apparently, millions of Americans, that Trump’s claims are nonsense. It is even more disheartening to realize that many of the people who still support his candidacy don’t seem to care. There is a major issue to address some day soon in that.

Meanwhile, as to his two claims:

  • Voter fraud is virtually non-existent in America. You can check this with any legitimate news provider. The real threat is voter intimidation — keeping some people from voting through excessive (illegal) regulations and perceived threats. Suggesting rigged elections is a serious threat to the very foundation of a free, democratic society — an orderly transfer of power. This is something about which Trump knows little and seemingly cares less. As far as he’s concerned, if he doesn’t win, the powers that be must be against him.
  • The press. Ah, the press. “They can say anything they want,” he complained the other day. No kidding, Sherlock. You just noticed? He says if he’s president he’s going to change that and strip the major media companies of their power. He can try, of course. It won’t be easy though. You see, Donald, those same forefathers who were so wise as to guarantee Americans the right to bear arms in that Second Amendment you and your followers are so fond of spouting and shouting about thought the idea of a free and unfettered press was so important to a functioning democracy that they wrote it into the First Amendment of the Constitution. That’s one ahead of the guns amendment, which some might say suggests it is more important. Since a civics lesson is apparently in order for Trumpers, it should be noted that the First Amendment also guarantees everyone freedom of religion. Which is also to say, freedom from your religion.

But these are mere facts and Trump and the folks at Fox News have demonstrated the power of repeating false news over and over again until listeners — like the inhabitants of Orwell’s “1984” — simply take it for fact. We have always been at war with Eurasia. We have never been at war with Eurasia. Love is hate. War is peace. I know Putin well. I never met the man.

We are told that many Trump supporters — virtually all of them white  and the majority male — are angry and frustrated with their lives. Somehow, goes the argument, all those black, brown, Muslim, Mexican, gay, Jewish, Arab, Asian people who don’t belong here — and some pushy American women as well — have prevented these Trump fans from realizing the American Dream. They took all the jobs and live on welfare. Love is hate. Up is down. Bigotry has nothing to do with it. We just want to make America great again, like before all those other people said they wanted to enjoy the American Dream, too.

Enough already. At some point in a person’s life, if he or she is lucky, the opportunity presents itself to take responsibility for one’s actions. To take stock of how things are going. Not materially, but really. It can be frightening. It can also be rewarding. Among other things, this look in the mirror allows one to say — if one can be honest — “I’ve made some mistakes. I sincerely regret them. I hope to do better from now on.” A lot of people never do this.

With that runaway train called Trump menacing the trust and tolerance that are the pillars of our, yes, already great nation, I’m thinking that a lot of people — a lot of white, Republican people — have a date with a mirror. It’s far too late to undo the damage Trump has done or to deny any part in it, but it’s not too late to admit the mistake of supporting him in spite of all the hateful, false things he said. It’s not too late to admit to acting as if he didn’t say them because, well, maybe because you were angry or confused or frightened or thought it would be disloyal. Maybe you feel you were lied to. Or maybe you just wanted to believe the lies.

Republican politicians who have stuck with Trump have no such out. The McCains and Ryans and Cruzes and Rubios knew Trump was bad news from day one. But he was their bad news and his lies became their lies even when they disagreed with him, because they never had the courage — the humility, the simple decency — to look in the mirror and say: “Enough. This man is obscene. He is an insult to our party and our nation. We made a grave mistake in pandering to the worst instincts of some of our party members in order to get their votes. Our pride kept us from admitting this. Fear drove our decisions. We allowed him to make fools of us. Indeed, we made fools of ourselves.”

Speaking, if I may, for the rest of an angry, resentful nation, that day of reckoning can’t come soon enough.

rjgaydos@gmail.com     

It’s Only Fair to Say: It Has to be Hillary

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Hillary Clinton ... the only rational choice

Hillary Clinton … the only rational choice

Among the many unpleasant things this presidential campaign has unearthed (festering racism, arrogant ignorance, ugly nativism, cowardly politics …) is the phony fairness theory. Or, the false equivalence doctrine.

It’s the belief that: 1) the news media has an obligation to present information about both major presidential candidates fairly and equitably, without value judgments and 2) anytime anyone writes a critical piece about one candidate, it’s a “hit job” if the opposition is not also criticized in some way.

Obvious caveat: The fairness theory does not apply to Fox News. although its viewers are the loudest in demanding it of others.

Second obvious caveat: The fairness theory does not apply to the hundreds of social media propaganda sites posing as news outlets.

The misguided notion that the press has to be “fair” by being non-judgmental and showing appropriate respect for both candidates is what led to the rise of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. While Fox News was skewering Hillary Clinton daily with unproven charges and innuendo, the mainstream media were reporting on those innuendos while treating her opponent as if he were someone who had any clue about how to be president — despite his own statements to the contrary every day.

On and on and on it went, with only a rare few having the guts to say, “That’s racist,” or “That’s stupid,” or “That’s offensive,” or “That’s sexist,” or “That’s a lie.” And so here we are, with Trump still doing the same things day after day and the mainstream media desperately playing catch-up on calling Trump a dangerous bigot and a possible threat to national security.

All except Matt Lauer, of course, who froze up in that NBC-TV debate the other night, letting Trump ramble and lie without calling him out, while grilling Clinton about her e-mails that have dominated Fox News but — to be fair — have resulted in no official charges against her for anything.

I don’t know Lauer, but it sure seemed that he was more comfortable being aggressive with a well-spoken, accomplished, educated woman than with a schoolyard bully. Just saying.

At any rate, back to fairness. The Fairness Doctrine was instituted by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949. It required the holders of broadcast licenses (radio and TV stations) to present controversial issues of public importance in an honest, equitable, and balanced manner. The idea was that, since they held licenses to use the airwaves, they had an obligation to fairly inform the public.

It was killed in 1987 In Ronald Reagan’s administration. It never applied to print media. It no longer exists. And it never meant that reporters or editors or columnists were supposed to ignore the truth in the interest of “fairness.” You don’t just get to say anything — true or not — just because we have to be fair. That would not be in the public interest. Challenging candidates to prove their statements is in the public interest.

Interestingly, the notion of fairness keeps coming up with regards to press coverage of Clinton, both ways. She has been called the favorite candidate of the mainstream media, who are supposedly doing all they can to ignore her shortcomings while repeatedly excoriating Trump, so as to get her elected. She has also been called the favorite target of the media, who are said to carry a longstanding resentment against her for treating them as a necessary evil at best. In a way, this could be considered fair and balanced treatment.

I’ve had readers comment on my articles saying that it’s not fair to just criticize Republicans for giving us Trump, when the Democrats gave us Clinton, who allegedly stole the nomination. I must be a Clinton-lover, they say. Be fair.

First off, it’s dangerous to make assumptions off one article, whoever the author. Second, we are way beyond that point, people. It’s two months to Election Day. Just as Republicans will have to figure out what they stand for after this election, Democrats will have their day of reckoning with the Bernie Sanders supporters and others who are not fans of Clinton (including me). That’s all to the good and grist for future columns.

But right now, we need to focus on the issue at hand: Donald Trump, is the most dangerously ill-prepared candidate to ever run for president representing a major party. (Please don’t distract me with third party arguments at this point. Aleppo.) Hillary Clinton is one of the most-qualified persons to ever run for president and she is a woman. I submit those as pertinent facts. I don’t have to like Hillary to vote for her; I just have to accept that she is by far the better choice. In fact, the only rational choice.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

 

Alt-Right: Trumped-up Name for Bigots

Sunday, August 28th, 2016
Hillary Clinton ... delivering a speech linking Donald Trump to bigots and racists

Hillary Clinton … delivering a speech linking Donald Trump to bigots and racists

By Bob Gaydos

It’s not enough that I’ve had to suffer through the most frightening, embarrassing presidential campaign in my lifetime and, perhaps, in the lifetime of this country, but now I’m being asked to grant legitimacy to the very ugliness that has marred this chapter in American history.

“Alt-right”? “Alt-right”? Are you kidding me? How about ugly, racist, bigoted, anti-semitic, hateful, ignorant, white people who want to blame all their perceived grievances on those who are different from them.

These are the people who never wanted the Civil War to end. Who didn’t want schools integrated or teaching evolution. Who would welcome a return to segregated lunch counters. Who hate the day when Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus. Who brandish the swastika. Now they want to start another civil war, led by the biggest con artist ever to claim leadership of a major political party, Donald Trump.

Thank you, Republicans.

Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton referred to the most avid followers of Trump as the Alt-Right, a term now being used by mainstream media. With capital letters and everything. This is a collection of hate groups that have been festering quietly in the bowels of the Republican Party for years. Quietly, because even most Republicans are aware that these are not people who are interested in being part of an America that is open and welcome and full of opportunity for all people. These are Klansmen and neo-Nazis and Second-Amendment-spouting “patriots” who want the government to take care of their needs, but ignore the “freeloaders.” Hell, to punish them.

And yes, I blame Republicans for letting this happen because they knew full well the kind of people they were cynically courting for votes and the kind of people they were playing to by refusing to cooperate on any initiative proposed by President Barack Obama. Is it a coincidence that he is our country’s first black president and Trump has freed the racists from the Republicans’ basement? I don’t think so.

I’m glad Clinton spelled out in detail publicly what Trump and his followers represent. She should do more of it, while also spelling out her own alternatives to his fearful message. I hesitate to say that he stands for anything but himself because I think he makes it up as he goes along. He is a pathological liar, a bigot, a misogynist and has a sociopathic need to stir up fear and hatred among the “Alt-Rights” to hear their applause. He gave a scripted speech on how blacks — whose lives in America are a never-ending hell in his view — would be better off voting for him. He gave the speech to a group of white farmers in Iowa. Naturally, they applauded.

It is a sick relationship, enabled by cowardly leaders in the Republican Party who feared losing power and prestige by telling the “Alt-Rights”: You know what folks, in this country we don’t do things that way. We’ve come a long way from those days when skin color, gender, religion, nationality, sexual preference determined whether one was accepted as an American. And, by the way, we’re not going to sacrifice our party’s principles for the sake of a few votes based on hatred and ignorance. So, go find another place to hide.

But no Republican leader said that to them. Instead, they put Sarah Palin on a pedestal and questioned whether their commander-in-chief was really an American..

Alt-Right is not a political philosophy. Rather, it is a fear-based  agenda of white supremacy that is being spread via social media. Their memes offer a message of lies and hate and almost a proud ignorance. Facts and science are irrelevant. It is definitely not conservative, liberal, Democrat or Republican. It is fear and hate and white is right and Trump has given it a voice, thanks in large part to the shameless orchestration of Fox News and the cluelessness of all the other news media until it was almost too late.

Trump stole the Republican nomination through bullying, outrageous statements, headline-grabbing and the timidness of many of his opponents, Republican leaders and media commentators. No one had the guts to say he was nuts. Since many of them have belatedly caught on to him, Trump is unlikely to steal the election. In fact, he seems almost intent on losing because he knows he can’t handle the job. It would be a major blow to his ego if he had to demonstrate his ineptitude publicly.

But he has given the cave-dwellers and hate-mongers hope and that is the real tragedy of this insult of an election. They now think they can spread their venom in public without repercussion because, after all, they’ve got a guy running for president of the United States of America for Pete’s sake. If that’s not legit, what is? And now, the media want to give them a legit name like all those other made-up ones — Neo-Con, Neo-Liberal, Far Right, Far Left.

Forget about Alt-Right. Call them what they are: racists and bigots. I say again, any Republican who hears what Trump and his most ardent followers say and sees how they behave and who still says he or she (really, woman?) supports his candidacy is no better than Trump. You are what you say you are. Presidents do not get to issue threats, insults and idiotic statements and change their minds every day.

Clinton has some serious issues to address, but they pale in comparison to what Trump represents. If you support Trump, know this: Your candidate is a fraud, a bigot, a callous, clueless, compassionless, misogynistic, self-aggrandizing bully who belittle veterans who died or were captured in battle and who mocks citizens with physical disabilities.

This is not all right in my America. This kind of “alternative” is unacceptable and does not deserve any special, pseudo-sounding, political movement name so that reporters, editors and columnists can have a shorthand way of saying bigots.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

And So It Went … A Review of the Events of the Week

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Hate.

Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Hate.

Ridicule, lie, insult, lie, mock, lie, bully, lie. Hate.

Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Hate.

White, white, white, white, white, white, white. Hate.

God bless America. God bless Donald Trump.

She said/she said. She said she said/she said.

Ego, ego, ego. Lies, lies, lies. Fear, fear, fear. fear.

Hate.

For those fortunate enough to miss it, the preceding is my synopsis of the Republican National Convention, which dominated the news last week. This is by way of resuming my contribution to the Internet dialogue with a regular Sunday collection of events that piqued my interest, tickled my fancy or struck me as almost too dumb for words (see above).

For this first installment, I’m going back more than a week because the major media apparently had no time to report on anything but the white supremacist rally in Cleveland. So …

  • Mick Jagger is going to be a father,
    Mick Jagger ... proud papa to be, again

                              Mick Jagger
                 … proud papa to be, again

    for the eighth time. Gathering no moss (sorry), Jagger, who is a great-grandfather, will be 73 when the baby is born next year. Mom-to-be is a 29-year-old former ballerina, who is said to be quite content with her relationship with the Rolling Stones frontman, which includes everything but marriage, living together and Mick changing diapers. Mine not to judge. I was 50 when my first son was born, 52 for the second. But I changed a s***load of diapers. Also, vasectomies are safe.         

  • Interesting footnote that occurred to me as I researched Jagger: He has four children, aged 18 to 32, with his former partner, Jerry Hall, 60. She and Jagger split 17 years ago. Earlier this year, Hall, a former model, married media mogul and billionaire Rupert Murdoch, 85. There’s no talk of additions to their extensive families, but Hall chose a favorite site of her old Rolling Stones days for her honeymoon with Murdoch, who just seemed happy to complete the climb to get there. Draw your own conclusions.
  • The Russian track and field team was disqualified from the 2016 Olympics because of what was described as a state-sponsored comprehensive doping program involving the 2012 Olympics and other competition. (The International Olympic Committee, never known for bold action, decided not to ban the entire Russian team, leaving that decision to the ruling federation of each sport.) The sports world was not shocked at the news, but, responding on social media, Russian fans criticized the author of the report that fingered the Russian testing lab and government officials by saying he was a typically biased American. He was, in fact, a typically neutral Canadian academic. Denial knows no nationality.
  • Pokemon Go. Why didn’t I buy Nintendo stock two weeks ago? I have no idea how the virtual reality game works, but these people should be working for the CIA. Maybe they are. (By the way, there’s a Charmander hidden in this copy, which you can find if you buy the app. Only $1.99. See the e-mail below.)
  • The National Basketball Association moved its 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans. The principled move was a response to North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law, which is a classic example of the fear-based legislation proposed in the Republican platform at that hate-fest in Cleveland. Well-played, NBA.
  • Terry Collins, manager of the New York Mets, had the honor of managing the National League team in this year’s baseball All Star Game. He had two Mets on his roster for this exhibition of the sport’s best. Players consider it an honor to be chosen. They consider it even more of an honor to actually play and when your manager is the All-Star manager, you figure on having a good chance of getting in the game. Go figure. Bartolo Colon, at 43, the oldest all-star and a fan favorite, never got to pitch. Neither did Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ star relief pitcher. They were not happy, but politely kept it to themselves. Collins managed to get players from the 14 other teams in his league in the game, but said his guys were only going to be used in “special” situations that didn’t arise. Terry, Terry, Terry, the whole game was “special” and it didn’t mean anything in the standings. These were your guys. Special treatment would have been letting each pitch to a couple of batters.
  • Roger Ailes was fired as the boss of Fox News, by Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News. Ailes was shown the door
    Roger Ailes ... Fox boss no more

                                Roger Ailes
                         … Fox boss no more

    (with a hefty severance check) when Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox anchor, filed a lawsuit  against him claiming sexual harassment. Other females then joined in to say Ailes had behaved the same with them. The move by Murdoch was swift. (It’s good to be the king and a billionaire.*) It was also without much controversy, probably because Ailes is well-known as a thoroughly despicable person. He is, in fact, in large part responsible for creating the orgy of anger and paranoia reported at the top of this   column by molding Fox News into an organ of fear, bigotry, misinformation, disinformation, and hateful, negative, bordering-on-compulsive propaganda directed at Democrats, in particular Barack Obama, the first black American president, and Hillary Clinton, who, if there really is some method to all this madness will soon become the first female American president.

R.I.P. GOP. Lincoln rolled over in his grave last week. So did Eisenhower and Reagan. John Boehner cried. Paul Ryan lied. And so it went.

* With a nod to Mel Brooks.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Give Me a ‘D’ for Dumb, Pat

Friday, June 13th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Pat Sajak ... scientist?

Pat Sajak … scientist?

It’s Pat Sajak’s fault.

For the past few years, I’ve been writing one opinion piece a week for a blog. It’s a way to keep doing in retirement what I did for more than 40 years for newspapers.

But I have been unable to form an opinion for three weeks — ever since I read about Sajak tweeting about “global warming alarmists being unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends.”

This made no sense to me, starting with why the ever-smiling host of “Wheel of Fortune” had any reason to think his thoughts on global warming were worth sharing on Twitter in the first place.

But as I tried to set aside the Sajak incident, I found myself unable to find anything else that made sense to me. What the heck is wrong with this country? I wondered. What could I write about when what is supposedly the most technologically advanced society in history seems to be paralyzed by a combination of willful ignorance and abject laziness. Sajak Syndrome, if you will.

When did dumb become fashionable?

Pick a topic. Global warming? Pictures of the Arctic ice pack melting? Nearly 100 percent agreement among scientists that humans are destroying the planet’s atmosphere through extravagant, ignorant use of fossil fuels and cutting down of rain forests? That’s nonsense, the pundits on Fox News say. Wasn’t it cold this winter? Didn’t it snow? What the heck do scientists know?

If it were true, the Fox News folks would tell us, the Fox flock say. Really? When they’re being paid to lie? This is abject laziness on the part of the viewers and willful ignorance on the part of the bosses and staff and big money backers at Fox News. And sadly today, most of the Republican Party.

How do you reach people who don’t want to be reached, I wondered, people who are too lazy to question, who are so set in their own prejudices that they eagerly accept the drumbeat message that the man living in the White House is to blame for all that scientific foolishness and everything else that is wrong with this country?

Please, tell me again how racism is dead in America since we elected Barack Obama, a black man, to be president. Tell that to people whose voting rights are being stripped (by Republicans). Tell that to people of color in “Stand Your Ground” states. Check the arrest and imprisonment statistics on drug crimes.

Forgive me for jumping around here, but, as I said, I can’t figure out what to write about because there is so much insanity going on in this country. The bankers drove this country into a recession through shady deals and didn’t go to jail. Today, people who still can’t find jobs because of the recession are called lazy and Congress — again, led by Republicans — cuts money for food stamps for the poor and refuses to extend unemployment benefits to the unemployed or raise the minimum wage or expand benefits to veterans.

It also refuses to cut college students — the future of this country — a break on the interest rates on their back-breaking loans. The corporations, of course, still get their tax breaks and CEOs who drive companies into the red still get rewarded with lavish golden parachutes. And the boss of McDonald’s tells his employees to get another job to make ends meet because he can’t afford to pay them a living wage. To Fox News, this makes sense.

Did I mention guns? There is a shooting at a school or mall or other public place virtually every day now, but it’s not because guns are too easy to get, the willfully ignorant insist. No, the leaders of the NRA tell us that if we armed teachers and let everyone carry weapons openly there would be fewer shootings. Bring your guns to Chili’s and Target. More guns mean fewer shootings. Oh, and if you don’t feel like paying your share of income tax, hole up on your ranch with an arsenal and defy the federal government. Because you’re a patriot. Fox News will defend your “right.’’ This is insane.

Look at the food we eat. Well, actually, most of us apparently would rather not. Monsanto, a chemical company that controls the food supply, changes the genetic structure of basic foods. This allows companies to sell food cheaper because more crops grow in less space and the “food” lasts longer on shelves. That food is usually full of salt and sugar and chemicals, in addition to having its genetic structure changed.

No one knows the possible effects of genetically modified food, but Congress (Republicans, again) allows it — won’t even require labeling of foods with GMOs — because Monsanto is a very generous donor to political campaigns. Europe has banned GMOs. China, too, and other countries. But Fox closes its eyes and ears and shuts off its brain to the obvious questions — willful ignorance — and its sheep munch away on cheap, addictive food, raising health insurance costs as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and weight-related illnesses increase. All the while, of course — again at the instigation of Fox — they are criticizing the president for trying to make health insurance more affordable for everyone.

There’s plenty more. We are a nation of immigrants that can’t come up with a reasonable immigration policy. We espouse freedom of religion, but in some areas of America it’s probably not wise to admit being Muslim. There is still some question among some conservatives as to who is responsible when a woman is raped. Evolution is considered by the willfully ignorant and abjectly lazy as a theory to be debated. But Noah and the Flood — an undeniable fact.

The Internet gets blamed for a lot of the misinformation that is spread today. But the Internet is just a tool. People spread ignorance, out of fear, greed, selfishness, prejudice, envy, laziness. I think many of the commentators at Fox News are laughing all the way to the bank. They are getting rich by criticizing the poor. Others are simply willing to say whatever they are told to say to get a paycheck. Some are just nasty and don’t like people who are different from them. I think at times they all say stuff that they have to know can’t be true, but they do it anyway because that’s their job. There is really no excuse for people like this — the willfully ignorant.

Why the Republican Party has allowed itself to be dragged down to this level, kowtowing to the frenzied anti-government, anti-Obama cries of the tea partiers, I don’t know. I suspect it has to do with race (the president’s) and with money — who is providing how much of it to whom. Integrity is clearly not held in high regard in the GOP these days, at least not since it offered Sarah Palin as a person to be trusted a heartbeat away from the presidency.

That leaves the climate-change deniers (who also doubted the president’s birth certificate) who think anything they read on the Internet is true, except if it’s on an actual mainstream news site or one run by liberals. These are the abjectly lazy who wouldn’t check a fact put forth by Fox News even if their life depended on it. And sometimes it does.

So there’s my dilemma. I know what I have described here doesn’t apply to everyone in this country. My belief — indeed, my fervent hope — is that it doesn’t apply to a majority or even large minority of us. But Sajak Syndrome exists. So I will continue to write with that in mind and encourage others of like mind to do so as well. Far too many Americans have bought into the idea that dumb is good, up is down, black is white and what some politician said yesterday doesn’t have to make sense with what he or she says today.

Far too many, in other words, would rather think of renowned scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of “Cosmos” (on Fox TV no less) as a charlatan and liar when he describes the “Big Bang” theory and tells us that global warming is an issue that needs to be addressed seriously and immediately. On this issue, they’d rather trust the judgment of game show host Pat Sajak.

That’s where I came in.

Bob Gaydos can be reached at rjgaydos@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Cheat ‘Em

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show coins a new Fox sobriquet: Ferret News Channel.

By Emily Theroux

The Stupid Party’s been trying to act foxy lately over the urgency of ideological “reform.”

But Jon Stewart of The Daily Show has ferreted out the Republicans’ actual intentions. The GOP’s search for a “new, improved” menu of voter comestibles is really an effort to repackage the party’s time-honored “s–t sandwich.”

Unable to win presidential elections fair and square in the face of encroaching demographic turbulence, Republicans have resorted to what Stewart termed a type of “Orwellian sleight of tongue” — a.k.a. cheating. (Oops! I meant “winning through process innovation.”) The GOP, Stewart contends, needs “a perpetual messaging refinement and distribution resource — preferably one cloaked in the trappings of journalistic authority, but without any of its ethical constraints.” In other words, a “rebranded” Roger Ailes 24/7 propaganda vehicle: “Ferret News“!

Karl Rove, 'the Architect'

Playing word games in an attempt to hoodwink low-info voters, as Fox does, is really just a variation on Republican “dirty tricks.” Originated by Richard Nixon and Chuck Colson, this reprehensible strategy dates back in recent political history to the advent of Karl Rove on the national stage at the dawn of the new millennium. We may have dodged Y2K, but enduring the mercurial machinations of Y2Karl has continued unabated for four election cycles, with mercifully declining levels of success.

  • In 2004, Dubya won reelection despite pro-John Kerry exit polls in Ohio, where allegations later surfaced of “blatant partisanship of election officials” and possible electronic ballot tampering. Two Democratic reports on the Ohio vote later suggested that many Kerry votes were suppressed by long lines, too few voting machines, and numerous instances of election officials improperly forcing Democratic voters to cast provisional ballots that were later discarded.
  • In 2008, Rove served as an informal adviser to John McCain. Any stratagems he may have recommended failed to stem the Democratic tide of “hope and change” that swamped McCain and Sarah Palin, as Barack Obama won swing states by margins too wide to contest or tamper with.
  • In 2012, the GOP hollered “Voter fraud!” and followed up the general panic that ensued among Fox News viewers by passing voter suppression laws in battleground states. But not even minority voter intimidation, interminable lines at polling places, billions in Citizens United super-PAC moolah, or Karl Rove’s election-night histrionics on Fox’s air could pull out a Mitt Romney win.

Abject failure in the last election hasn’t stopped Rove from reinventing himself this year, however. Rove has drawn the ire of the Tea Party after launching a new initiative by his American Crossroads super PAC, the Conservative Victory Project, designed to get moderate GOP candidates nominated in 2014 primaries instead of extremists, who often go down in flames during general-election contests.

Like a battered pop-up target in a particularly brutal game of Whac-a-Mole, the trusted consigliere whom Dubya nicknamed “Boy Genius” has sent out political green shoots in midwinter 2013. Knowing Turdblossom, the emerging “bloom” is likely to crop up as a stinkweed.

 

All ‘happy talk’, no policy proposals

The Republican Party establishment doesn’t appear to be following the new blueprint drafted by “the Architect” — not, at least, with any construction contracts. Most remain in the “bargaining” stage of dealing with defeat, if not the “denial” phase. Talk is cheaper and less painful than action, and anyway, wordsmithing has been the GOP’s ticket to ride since 2000, and many are reluctant to disembark from the happy-talk train.

'Maybe this strategy is starting to have diminishing returns. Maybe Republicans have hit peak Luntz' — Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, Feb. 5, 2013

When Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal admonished his fellow Republicans to “stop being the stupid party,” he advised the GOP to start “(talking) like adults.” This tactic, however, is nothing new. Glossology guru Frank Luntz, whom Stewart dubbed the “Republican Batman,” has long corrected what he terms “language errors,” converting them into persuasive obfuscations then uttered simultaneously by Republican “communicators” on Luntz’s cue.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 5, 2013. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor put Luntz’s “new” linguistic framing into effect earlier this week, when his speechwriters went so far as to purloin the “fair shot at success” speech delivered in December 2011 by his arch-enemy, Barack Obama (as Al Sharpton demonstrated on his MSNBC show, Politics Nation). Cantor’s purpose was to lull the ignorant sheeple into swallowing his party’s “softer focus” on “creating conditions for health, happiness, and prosperity”  — you know, stuff like education, health care, immigration reform, and the American Dream. His focus was soft, all right: gauzy words, but no policy prescriptions.

After all, as participants in The National Review’s recent summit on “reforming” the Republican Party concluded, the GOP need only ameliorate its delivery, not change its platform. While Karl Rove breaks ranks with the Tea Party in a desperate bid to defy demographics and reinstate the “permanent Republican majority” he has long envisioned, the (Hoping You’re) Gullible Old Party reduces its existential impasse to mere semantics.

“Rebranding,” not reform, is the GOP’s new raincheck for electoral success. Republicans haven’t quite “completed the sentence,” as Cantor offered on Morning Joe, but the clauses that form it are beginning to coalesce. Just ask Faux pundits InSannity, O’Really, or Steve Duncey — talking points have always been the most effective form of GOP cheating.

Ferret News may have dumped Palin and kicked Dick Morris to the curb, but crusty cliches don’t vanish overnight. How much do you want to bet that Fox keeps guarding the GOP henhouse?

Wanted: One Soul, One Victory Tour Bus

Monday, November 5th, 2012

President Obama and family, celebrating victory.

By Bob Gaydos

After watching hours of election returns, skipping from channel to channel trying to get the latest results as quickly as possible, I have three lasting impressions:

  • Fox News consistently beat everyone else in calling states for a candidate (usually Barack Obama) and signaling a bad night for Mitt Romney. They called Pennsylvania and Ohio for the president while the other, “more reliable,” networks played it safe.
  • The “expert” talking heads spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the coming debate over the “soul” of the Republican Party. Again, Fox was out front.
  • Obama delivered a victory speech that came close to being classified as a “barn-burner.”

I don’t expect to watch much of Fox again, so I’ll chalk its surprisingly professional performance up to an anomaly and move on to the other observations.

For starters, will someone please define what they mean by the “soul” of the Republican Party? A party whose presidential candidate told Hispanic aliens to “self-deport” and dismissed 47 percent of the country as not his concern? A party that would deny gays and lesbians the rights guaranteed to all Americans? A party committed in its platform to denying women the right to an abortion under any circumstances? A party dominated by aging white men whose favorite pastime seems to be figuring ways to keep other kinds of people from voting? A party focused on maintaining every tax break possible for wealthy Americans, but making it tougher for college students to get loans? A party that treats science as a theory and global warming as a myth? A party that requires its ultimate presidential candidate to lie his way through primary campaigns in order to capture the votes of the whack job far right that dominated those campaigns, then backtrack on all those positions once he enters the general campaign and has to attract normal voters and then re-backtrack to some of the early positions in order to hang on to the Tea Partiers, ultimately leading millions of Americans to conclude he’s a liar?

That party? If there’s a soul in there, it must be in pretty sorry shape. Besides, just who is going to have this debate over the GOP’s soul? No elected Republican or party official said anything during the campaign about the GOP’s glaring position outside the mainstream of American thought on virtually every social issue or the fact that ever-increasing numbers of Latinos, blacks, gays, women and young people identified with Obama and the Democratic Party and that those are constituencies who are voting in ever-increasing numbers while old, white men are just getting older.

Who in the GOP will dare to defy Karl Rove, whose genius has now been trumped twice by Obama? Or Rush Limbaugh and the cadre of media blowhards that riled so many Americans up against Obama with a litany of half-truths and outright lies? Is there a leader in the GOP that dares to say the Tea Party, which cost the GOP several Senate seats as well, has no clothes, or at least no influence with a majority of Americans? The talking heads kept saying this debate was coming, but no one offered a name.

My advice to the Republicans who are fed up with the last two elections is to form a new party starting with all the sensible Republicans who have left the party.

Which brings me to Obama’s rousing 2 a.m. call to action. After the obligatory thank you’s to campaign workers and a promise to meet with leaders of all parties to end the Washington gridlock, and thanking supporters for their votes, he harkened back to a message delivered by another Democratic president 50 years ago.

“But that doesn’t mean your work is done‘” he said. “The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government.”

John F. Kennedy’s, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” was more dramatic, but it had already been used. Obama’s message, however, was the same — you, the people need to be more involved. If you don’t like the way things are being done, change it. The election is not the end; it’s the beginning.

A reporter covering Obama said the president did plan to try to work with Republicans, but also intended to take his message directly to the people, to take his show on the road, so to speak.

The talking heads all said it would never work. But they were still convinced Republicans — who lost the election — were going to sit down and have a heart-to-heart over their party’s soul.

I suggest a search party.

bob@zestoforange.com

If This Offends Anyone, I ‘Apologize’

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Geraldo Rivera ... "apologizes"

By Bob Gaydos

The B.S. meter, already recalibrated to measure record-level intensity since the Republican primary season began, reached new highs this past week thanks in large part to a TV personality who has been spewing hot air for decades and some professional football folks who are the reigning champion gas bags of the NFL.

We’ll start with Geraldo Rivera, but don’t worry, we’ll get to the New York Jets.

One of the most insulting and depressing developments of our Spin Age Society is the ascension of the non-apology apology. You hear it all the time now, from politicians, performers, athletes, commentators. The basic outline goes like this: “If I hurt or offended anyone with my remarks about (fill in the blank), I apologize. That was not my intent.”

That is pure bull and anyone who hears it knows it. Yet we let people get away with it all the time. What the “apologist” is really saying is: “If I hurt or offended anyone with my remarks, too bad, live with it. I am issuing this apology only because my advisers tell me it will soften the overwhelmingly negative reaction to my (a. hateful; b. bigoted; c. insensitive; d. ignorant; e. provocative; f. untrue; g. self-serving …) statements. I am not sorry for what I said, only for the reaction to it. I hope this puts an end to all this nonsense so I can continue to go about doing what I always do.”

Rivera weighed in on the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by blaming the black teenager at least partially for his own death because he wore a hoodie. “I’ll bet you money, if he didn’t have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way,” Rivera said on his Fox News TV show.

When his own son told him he was ashamed of what Dad had said, Rivera “apologized.” On Twitter: “Heard petition demands my apology to Trayvon’s parents. Save effort: I deeply apologize for any hurt I caused-that is not my goal or intent.” He later sent an e-mail to the Politico web site: “I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies.’ ”

He added that he had been told his remarks “obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager,” and explained that his comments were part of his “crusade to warn minority families of the danger to their young sons inherent in ‘gangsta’ style clothing; like hoodies.”

A day later, after a torrent of negative Tweets to his Tweet and more grief from his family, Rivera added : “[M]y own family and friends believe [that] I have obscured or diverted attention from the principal fact, which is that an unarmed 17-year-old was shot dead by a man who was never seriously investigated by local police. And if that is true, I apologize.”

If that is true? Apparently his news sense disappeared along with his common sense when he joined Fox.

Note that at no time does Rivera ever simply say, “I’m sorry. What I said was terribly insensitive.” Nor does he ever seem to recognize the racism at the center of his “crusade.’’ Talk about forgetting your roots. He should go back to calling himself Gerry Rivers.

* * *

OK, before we get to the Jets, the more egregious football B.S. (because it involved potential physical harm to people) issued forth from one of the few head coaches in the NFL who can go toe-to-toe with Rex Ryan in smugness — Sean Payton, head coach of the ironically named New Orleans Saints. Payton was recently suspended for a year, without pay, for allowing a bounty system to exist, wherein defensive players on his team could win cash bonuses up to $1,500 for knocking a star player from the opposing team out of the game.

A lot of macho type talking heads and fans, whose careers and health were not on the line, said this was no big deal, that it went on all the time in the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell thought otherwise. He saw a sharp rise in concussions and a string of lawsuits from ex-players charging that the league was not concerned with the safety if its players. And here the Saints were targeting some of the league’s best players for injury. Talk about self-destructive.

Well, Payton and the Saints lied to Goodell about the bounties and when he caught them, he leveled the boom. Payton is the first head coach to be suspended for a year. When his punishment was announced, he said: “As the head coach, anything that happens within the framework of your team and your program you’re responsible for. And that’s a lesson I’ve learned.” … It’s easy to get carried away in regards to a certain side of the ball, or more involved offensively or defensively, and that’s something I regret.”

Huh? He regrets paying too much attention to the offense over the defense? Not that he might have ended the career of MVP Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay if one of the Saints defensive linemen (or two) hit him just right?

Payton never admitted lying to Goodell, but did say, “You’re disappointed, you’re disappointed in yourself that it got to this point.”

You’re disappointed? For what, that you got caught? How about, “I’m disappointed in myself and I’m sorry for my actions”?

* * *

OK, now the Jets. Really, compared to the first two, this is the least important offense in the scheme of things, but it is a so typically, insultingly Jet-like offense it can’t be ignored.

If you just got back from Mars, let me tell you that the Jets hired Tim Tebow, rock star, Christian athlete icon, to be their “backup” quarterback to Mark Sanchez, their three-year starter. In a week in which the pope was visiting Mexico and Cuba, Tebow (who seems to be pathologically “excited” to be a Jet) far eclipsed the pontiff in media coverage in the U.S.

The irritating thing with the Jets — and that includes their owner, Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan — is that they always say stuff that all their fans know is bull. For example, that getting Tebow was a “football decision” not a business-driven PR stunt to combat the coverage of their co-tenant New York Giants who just won their second Super Bowl title in four years.

Or that Sanchez, who wasn’t told about Tebow until he was signed, is fine with finding out he will be sharing game duties with a “backup quarterback“ who has guaranteed snaps in every game. Or that Tebow, who always talks of himself as a starting quarterback, is even considered to be a good quarterback by NFL standards. Or that the Jets actually have “a vision” on how to play offense with two quarterbacks (but with only a guaranteed scheme for Tebow) when Ryan is a defensive specialist who didn’t even know that his star wide receiver took himself out of the team’s most important game last year — against the Giants.

The sports commentators politely called all this B.S. from the Jets “disingenuous.” But heck, I doubt Ryan can even spell it, much less be it. I prefer the more accurate: “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” That can be their next HBO special.

And by the way, don’t expect Johnson, Ryan or Tannenbaum to say, “I’m sorry” to fans when this Spin Age tactic implodes. Of course, Johnson, as owner, will “regret” having to let Ryan and Tannenbaum go. They, of course, will say, “You’re disappointed when things don’t work out.”

Gentlemen, you have no idea.

bob@zestoforange.com