Election by commercials

"We are choosing our presidential candidates the way we choose our favorite television shows, by which one generates the most advertising revenue for the broadcaster." - http://bit.ly/wTxXeX

Back in the good old days when I was a newsman a century or so ago, newspapers and even TV used to cover candidates with some degree of depth, equality and even intelligence.

Today, the corporate media - newspapers too but mostly TV -- has stopped letting their news departments cover candidates, but instead rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars to run ads and commercials filled with lies, distortions and character assassinations.

All backed by money from a few billionaires.

Since elections are nearly always won by the candidate who spends the most money, the next U.S. president will be chosen by those few billionaires. The millions of real voters are just there for laughs.

Somehow I don't think that's what our Founding Fathers had in mind.

Surrounded by pink

In 1983 I was working at the Miami News on the sixth floor of the Miami Herald building in Miami overlooking Biscayne Bay when Christo and Jeanne-Claude produced a fascinating art project, Surrounded Islands.

I happen to think of this the other day and was chagrined to find that I had no real memory of it. I was there, know what happened, had a ringside seat, but I don't have a memory of what I saw. I'm not a very visual person, and I guess I don't really appreciate art.

It's a pity I have no actual memory, because it was a rather spectacular sight. Eleven islands in Biscayne Bay were surrounded by pink.

Some 6.5 million square feet of floating pink fabric extended 200 feet from each island into the bay. The fabric was sewn into 79 patterns to follow the contours of the 11 islands.

If you want to know what I saw from the six floor of the Miami News, you can look here: http://www.christojeanneclaude.net/major_islands.shtml

I have a dream...

 I have a friend who, for reasons unfathomable to me, disdains the Occupy heroes. He recently wrote me what he called "the creed and religion of the Occupy deadbeats" -- "I have a dream, that one day ALL bums, stoners, drunks, losers and creeps will be given the handouts we demand. So, my fellow unoccupied bums, ask NOT what we can do for society, ask instead what society can do for us."

I answered him thus:

Of course, the manifesto of the ruling elite is so much more noble:

"I have a dream, that one day all those who don't make at least $1 million a year will lose their Social Security, unemployment benefits, health care, public schools and parks, so that there will be more for us, the Wall Street bankers and the politicians we employ, the true Masters of the Universe. So, my fellow rich parasites, ask NOT what we can do for society, ask instead what society can do for us with the tax money it collects from all the bums, stoners, drunks, losers and creeps and the rest of the useless 99 %."

Write More Good

The AP style book was my Bible all my years in the newspaper business. Not that I actually paid much attention to it. Most of it was common sense, a lot of it arcane, and some of it verging on silly.

It used to say, for example, that all federal agencies or departments must be referred to by their full official titles the first time you wrote about them in a story. Which led to the silliness of writing "the Federal Bureau of investigation", which everyone in the world knows better as the FBI. In fact, FBI is immediately more comprehensible than the full title on a quick read, which is all any newspaper story gets.

So when I saw in Village Books, my favorite bookstore, "An absolute phony guide on how to Write More Good," a delightful parody of newspaper stylebook, I had to buy it. 

It has strictures on everything from politics to science writing, sex to religion. The religion section is the shortest. The only entry is "Not on your life."

There is a preface by Roger Ebert that includes one of my favorite quotes from my newspaper days: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." [A.A. Dornfeld].

Ebert notes that many newsmen live by another motto: "Never check a great quote twice."

He adds: "The authors of (this book) exists in the no man's land between these quotes. They know about Dornfeld's rule. They also give voice to the deep cynicism and cheerfully ironic worldview that has infected city rooms since time immemorial."

Probably my favorite part of the book are the definitions. Under entertainment, for example, we find:

Clear Channel - See Skynet

frak - Should only be used if you're fighting Cylons.

free verse - Poetry written by lazy people.

It made me nostalgic for the good old days.

99% down, 1% flying high

There is a disconnect in society as high-end retailers like Saks, Tiffany, and Neiman Marcus report record sales as the 1% feel confident and flush with cash. Meanwhile, real median income is lower than it was in 2001. It seems tax cuts didn't lift all boats, just the yachts.

The average Joe pays twice as much for a gallon of gas and 50% more for food since 2001 while taking home less pay. The ruling elite can't figure out why the peasants are getting restless
-- Jim Quinn

"Banks are the dictators of the West'

"The banks and the rating agencies have become the dictators of the West," Robert Fisk says, cutting through the smoke screen put up by the politicians and the corporate media.

"Like the Mubaraks and Ben Alis, the banks believed – and still believe – they are owners of their countries. The elections which give them power have – through the gutlessness and collusion of governments – become as false as the polls to which the Arabs were forced to troop decade after decade to anoint their own national property owners.

"Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland became the Mubaraks and Ben Alis of the US and the UK, each gobbling up the people's wealth in bogus rewards and bonuses for their vicious bosses on a scale infinitely more rapacious than their greedy Arab dictator-brothers could imagine."

Read the whole article: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-bankers-are-the-dictators-of-the-west-6275084.html

Wish List

I got a Christmas Wish List from a friend a bit right of me that included:
Obama: Gone! Borders: Closed! Language: English! Culture: Constitution, and the Bill of Rights! Drug Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before Welfare! No Freebies to: Non-Citizens! Balanced Budget! -FLAT TAX! and TERM LIMITS FOR CONGRESS - Only 86% will send this on.

I replied with my own wish list:

Obama: Gone!
The GOP moron: Gone! (Unless it's Ron Paul)

End drug war!
Mandatory Drug Screening of politicians!

Jail all the crooked bankers!

Universal health care like the civilized nations!

End the eternal trillion-dollar wars!
Cut the War Department budget in half!

Culture: Restore the Constitution and the Bill of Rights!

No Tax Freebies to corporations and other non-people!
Tax billionaires at the same rate as their chauffeurs!

Term limits for Congress.

The 99% will send this on.