Insight. Antics.

Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Reverse Martyrdom.

In Media, Politics on August 26, 2009 at 10:07 pm

The Kennedy Brothers - Bettmann / Corbis

As the nation mourns the loss of Ted Kennedy today, news coverage surrounding him is deservedly ubiquitous.  MSNBC has literally only covered one story, except for checking on Mark Sanford’s resignation rebuff press conference five hours ago.  CNN has been the same, and Fox News is close behind.

When a larger-than-life public official or public figure passes, be it Ted Kennedy, Michael Jackson, or Socks the Cat (okay, leaps and bounds below the others, but I felt like the mood begged for a dash of levity), this has become the norm and I suppose it is warranted.  It makes us realize or re-realize the simple volume of their work, the impact of their pursuits that has affected our lives but is now taken for granted, and how much of history they have been a part of.

Usually with a death of this magnitude, which is about on par with a presidential loss (Gerald Ford’s death certainly got less coverage, if not his life), all media entities and public servants that decide to come on camera or do a phoner (that’s technical slang for a phone interview) are deferential, admiring, and inclined to pay tribute to the departed.  They sometimes use the moment to call for action on an issue or honor the person’s life with a charitable cause he/she championed.  I recall in 1997 in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s unfortunate passing, George Clooney held a press conference, and it was well-attended at that, to propose legislation and decry tabloids for their obsessive tendencies, in particular lambasting the paparazzi for their relentless reconnaissance to the point of celebrity endangerment.

Only there’s been a sly undercurrent to the coverage from lawmakers appearing to give interviewed eulogies about Teddy. Read the rest of this entry »

BLOVIATOR: More Ovaltime, Please!

In Media, Politics on August 24, 2009 at 8:03 am

Bloviate (v.)  \ˈblō-vē-ˌāt\

to speak or write verbosely and windily

This is a Bloviator segment on Brief Wit.  It’s reserved for those long-winds you just can’t keep to a low word count, knowing full well you’ve lost the reader halfway through. To see the previous edition, click here.

Ovaltine

As I return from a bit of a respite (upon which I happen to have seen the effects of the Stimulus in action), I was not planning to write about health care (or is it insurance?) reform.  Try as I might not to, I am drawn in.  (An aside: by all means, indulge in the cartoons I have peppered throughout this piece.)

It would be summarily shocking if the current state of play is what Rahmbo and ‘Bam (God love New York Post nicknames) had in mind all along, as if there’s some War Room calendar in the West Wing where Monday, August 24th is marked, “Hit rock bottom.  Begin backlash to the backlash.”

8/13/09 - Health Care Cartoon - Jim Morin/Miami Herald

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Insomniac News Review.

In Media on August 6, 2009 at 3:48 am

Jeremy Hubbard and Vinita Nair at Desks - ABC World News Now

Alessandra Stanley may have opined on early morning news last week, but I am taking it one step earlier.

I’ve been staying up quite late recently, what with my lack of formal obligations that would otherwise habitually begin at 9am. It’s been productive actually. Quiet, calm, few distractions, save the cataclysmic electrical storm we’ve been punished with on a near-daily basis ’round these parts. Some nights I haven’t hit the hay until 3, 4, even 5am. (Case in point: this writing.)

Most of those nights I take in the news before I fall asleep. What news could be on at these “darkest before the dawn” hands of the clock? Well believe it or not, the Big Three (how antiquated does that sound?) broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC (sorry CW, maybe next year), actually produce live national newscasts in the still of the night.

And they are arguably the best news on all of television.

They’re the way the news used to be: straightforward, not abrasively loud or busy, and not swapping souped-up graphics for reporting.

For a decade, perhaps two or three, purists have been mourning the demise of hard news. I suppose with the ultimate hard newsman Walter Cronkite’s passing, it’s apropos to reflect with these shows.

Traditionally hard news is characterized by the intersection of two independent attributes: seriousness and timeliness. It “concerns specific events and is strictly factual.” This is opposed to soft news or infotainment, such as, well, most news today. But especially incessant guessing games on Michael Jackson’s death and the jacked nature of Michelle Obama’s arms.
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The Waxman Cometh.

In Politics on August 6, 2009 at 2:33 am

Henry Waxman - Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg News

Oh democracy, you resplendent purveyor of joy. Only in a country like ours could a guy like this, a perennial last place dodgeball pick, get elected and rise up to be a respected, influential figure in government. Is there any doubt that Henry Waxman is the most powerful moustachioed man in history? (Disclaimer: Previous statement omits figures that were not leaders of totalitarian regimes or U.S. Presidents Grant, Arthur, Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt, or Taft.)

He may not be nerdier than he looks, but he is a bit older than he looks. At 69, Waxman is a statesman, having served in the House since 1975. That’s right: 34 years of uninterrupted service to the country and fuzzy upper lips from sea to shining sea. He’s so money he ran completely unopposed in 2008.

Surprisingly, this glitz-less, glam-less guy is the hometown Congressman for the swank and superficiality that is LA. He represents California’s 30th district, which includes Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Malibu. Yes sir, you are correct sir: he is literally a Hollywood liberal.

Though, he defies that stereotype in many respects. He has a fair amount of street cred, because he grew up Straight Outta Watts, nearby cousin of Compton. He probably has more childhood reference points in common with Dre and Snoop than Michael Douglas and Elizabeth Taylor.

God, it must be great when he gets a call from Gary Busey in the middle of the night asking why the minimum wage is so low. And he has to take the call because Gary says those 3 words that no elected official can ignore: “I’m a constituent.”

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