The “game” of politics is no fun anymore. Discussing anything having to do with it used to be educating and entertaining, and sometimes enlightening, among friends and on social media. Not anymore. These days, it’s all for the kill.
Saturday, NBC Nightly News showed skirmishes in New York and Portland, Oregon. As correspondent Matt Bradley put it,
“America’s political conversation is forgetting to use its inside voices.”
It included soundbites from former Attorney General Eric Holder (D, more here)…
and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner (R, more here).
And this is Wagner responding to his comments without apologizing (“I shouldn’t have said what I said”) for what he said above.
“The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.”
(Video and subject matter will start at 35:15 in. Then, there are follow-up questions and Sanders actually says her quote at 38:21 in.)
Twice recently, Facebook friends who don’t even know each other have gotten into personal put-downs over issues in articles I posted.
Those experiences were new to me. I felt hurt and regret they happened among friends. Both happened earlier this month.
One of the combatants when I expressed disappointment over Nikki Haley’s resignation as United Nations ambassador had fighting words, but never really made a point. Later, after a lot of back-and-forth with another friend, he removed his comments.
I think Nikki Haley was our best ambassador at the United Nations since perhaps Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Sadly, that’s going back.
Not everyone agrees with me, but at least one was able to make his point with facts, rather than name-calling.
For example, this is what Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal – no fan of Haley’s – wrote in his column, last week. (I underlined my favorite part and emailed to thank him for it as soon as I read it, especially considering his audience.)
So disagreeing peacefully – whether with words or in person – can be done, and a prominent activist proved it.
The upcoming midterms are, of course, “the most important election in our lifetime.” Ever heard that before? Kind of like “the storm of the century.” Not to be believed until it actually happens.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for grabs, and so will more than a third of the Senate.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone voted, the better or best candidate (depending on the number running) wins, and all will be satisfied they had their say?
But unfortunately, it’s more than that.
Of course, it’s which of the parties gets (or keeps) the majority in the House and the Senate that really matters, and those damn parties – and their “machines” – just won’t shut the hell up among their members or in TV commercials.
Neither will others who campaign for politicians outside of where they live. Some are current politicians hoping to score points for advancement; former politicians hoping to stay relevant, or make money by selling books or giving speeches; and groups like political action committees, corporations, labor unions, and other associations allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court to give unlimited money to campaigns in 2010’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, lest their free speech right guaranteed by the First Amendment be compromised (as if they’re people).
A few days earlier on Facebook, I’d shown my disappointment that two senators worthy of respect felt the need to rally with a woman (Linda Sarsour) who comes as close to being the devil as any American.
THIS. New York just sent some of the most progressive candidates EVER to the State Legislature unseating corporate democrats- establishment operatives are STUNNED. We like it like that. #NYPrimaries ✊🏽🙌🏽https://t.co/pTgWnvdqO6
And making sure the world knows you’re Brooklyn-born but aligned with a group of people who can’t make peace among each other, can’t make peace with other Arabs, can’t make peace with other Muslims, and turned down every attempt by Israel to make peace. Ask most American presidents who’s responsible for the problem between the parties in the region (especially President Bill Clinton) and they’ll tell you it has been and still to this day is Palestinians who support killings and pay terrorists, and who refuse to admit Israel is the world’s one Jewish country.
Not sure how this is possible, but I am feeling extra Palestinian right now. 🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸
Every one of those tweets you saw above used Sarsour’s own words. None were complete retweets. And did you know she’s on the board of the Women’s March? Most of us are in favor of equality for all. It’s a goal, but we should not be supporting this organization with money, feet, or anything else. You have to know what they’re really about.
I was working the day of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, after President Trump’s inauguration, and it disgusted me watching how Sarsour got up in front of the crowd and talked about the Middle East! I know that’s not what so many people came from so far to hear, so I urge you to be careful with who you support. Click here to see who’s in charge of that fringe group that’s trying to fit in. Don’t let it. Instead, speak up, vote and organize without having to answer for them.
FINALLY, BACK TO THE STORY: All but one person who put up an emoji or commented on my Facebook post about those senators making the mistake of being in the wrong place with the wrong people agreed with me. I was pleasantly surprised by very liberal friends who were among them! But one, a retired public defender, did not. I took down four of the more personal posts between her and someone who disagreed with her, and am not showing any comments from either Facebook post here. I hope both sides eventually thought about what the other said, like old times.
Speaking of old times, it used to be, being in the middle – an independent thinker not automatically taking sides – was a good thing. In news, we figured if we left both sides angry, we did our job fairly and kept both from abusing power.
Not anymore. It seems more and more Americans are blindly endorsing the extremes of one side or the other (which may or may not be true), and their targets are moderates who don’t agree with them 100 percent, and of course journalists.
That’s making more and more independent thinkers frustrated and shoots down some old sayings like,
“If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain.”
And sociographer Milton Himmelfarb’s,
“Jews earn like Episcopalians, and vote like Puerto Ricans.”
Not being a stereotype like in previous generations can be a good thing. In this day and age, it should keep those on the extremes from saying things that are too controversial. We just have to let them know.
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I try not to go more than a week without posting something. Unfortunately, it has been 11 days dues to holidays that won’t be letting up anytime soon, and also my IT support specialist classes. (Last night, I finished Course 2, Week 1, out of 5 courses.)
I just don’t like blogs that give a sentence or two without any thought. They’re a waste of time and I’d be embarrassed to post with my name, so I tend to put them on social media. (You can see my last 20 my Twitter posts from @feedbaylenny right here on this site and visit it to see the whole thing. It’s not private. My last blog post, from 11 days ago, is down to #17 which shows I use it a lot.)
And I hate blogs that haven’t been touched in years. Yes, they exist!
Regular readers and those who know me know I tend to be moderate. In the middle, politically.
There are a variety of reasons for not supporting the Democratic Party. It’s turning more to the left, engaging with extremist groups on that side, welcoming more anti-Israel activists, and it unfairly helped Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries. (I’m referring to disliking the unfair help and not referring to Sen. Sanders. I think my first and next-to-last reasons explain enough.)
But that doesn’t automatically mean conservatism is the answer. You can be conservative on some issues and not others. Ask yourself whether a man married three times with a mouth like his can be considered conservative in most uses of the term.
Check out who goes to his rallies. Look closer and see the staging: Always at least one black person and don’t forget getting rid of the “plaid shirt guy”, last week – actually a 17-year-old high school senior.
It definitely doesn’t make President Trump the cure for the far left, and certainly not members of his family who are only part of this discussion because they were the lucky sperm.
Trump has done some good things, arguably the best president dealing with the Middle East, but he’s not perfect there. (Don’t tell me politics has no part in his actions and comments, as he gains Evangelical and some Jewish support.)
Luckily, he says there should be no question between right and wrong when it comes to terrorists and their supporters, unlike certain Democrats. (See Sarsour, Linda.)
“the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Fattah) apparently (thinking) the day is the perfect time to mock the US’ current president with tasteless cartoons that dishonor the solemnity of the day and the thousands of lives affected by the brutal attacks.”
Think they’re right? Who can forget Palestinians celebrating 17 years ago when they couldn’tblame Donald Trump?
Trump has made some bad policy decisions (civil rights, labor unions), said some very bad things (Sen. John McCain, daily lies and exaggerations, calling the media the enemy), and been involved in some bad behavior (Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels). Plus, he needs a turnstile for his administration officials because of his management style and it seems he gets to political professionals so much, that they suddenly can’t keep secrets anymore!
To sum up Donald Trump, he does not take people and make them better.
He has huge personal issues, possibly more than any other president, that have influenced his two older sons over the decades. That, and their wealth and fame, guide them. They may be New Yorkers, and live in close proximity to many of us Jewish people, but they are not us and obviously haven’t been influenced by us.
To be fair, I have to add, a Trump-supporting cousin added to the Facebook exchange above shortly before publishing, saying his father Fred was good to Jews and best friends with a rabbi. To quote, “This family has been surrounded by Jews, who basically run the real estate business in NY.”
My response was basically that he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease since his grandsons weren’t even teenagers, so there couldn’t have been much influence. According to Wikipedia, “(Fred) Trump supported Jewish and Israeli causes and institutions, including donating the land for the Beach Haven Jewish Center in Flatbush, New York. He significantly supported Israel Bonds” and other non-Jewish charities. He knew about being of German ancestry and having Jewish tenants, postwar, and we both know the world and people’s behaviors have changed over all this time. I ended by saying I wouldn’t compare Donald to his father, and the grandsons are even more different. (Fred loaned Donald $1 million but kept his business in Brooklyn and Queens. “It was good for me,” Donald later commented. “You know, being the son of somebody, it could have been competition to me. This way, I got Manhattan all to myself.”) That’s not such an appealing quote to me.
In fact, I doubt the young Trumps would admit to being influenced by anybody but their father and revered grandfather, through stories told about him. Eric Trump using a Jewish term in response to Bob Woodward (not Jewish) making money selling a book makes absolutely no sense, and there’s no connection except that it’s a Jewish stereotype. Conservatives try not to label people but this Trump generation tends to.
So let’s look at Eric Trump.
He and his brother, Donald Jr., like hunting. They sure didn’t get that from us!
According to Wikipedia, The Curetivity Foundation’s 2016 tax return shows contributions almost doubling from $1.8 million in 2015 to $3.2 million in 2016, when his father ran for president. (To the younger Trump’s credit, he announced in December, 2016, he’d stop active fundraising for it to avoid speculation donors were using him to gain access to his father, the soon-to-be president.)
The foundation gave about $3 million to St. Jude and other charities but also paid $145,000 to for-profit properties owned by the Trump family. Peanuts (or shekels) for some, but nobody I know personally. That shows how rare such wealth is.
“The best part about all this, according to Eric Trump, is the charity’s efficiency: Because he can get his family’s golf course (Trump National Westchester) for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. ‘We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,’ Trump tells Forbes.”
However, “That’s not the case,” according to Forbes. “It’s clear that the course wasn’t free.”
The magazine reported,
“The Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.”
Also, the Donald J. Trump Foundation
“apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization. … More than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.”
Worse, Forbes said,
“The president was never known for giving his foundation much money, and from 2009 to 2014, he didn’t give it anything at all.”
Why can’t one family have one foundation? Do the Trumps disagree so much on donations? Couldn’t they save on accounting bills?
And the clincher, according to Forbes, is
“All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors.” And, “The person who specifically commanded that the for-profit Trump Organization start billing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit Eric Trump Foundation, according to two people directly involved, was none other than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump.”
The article has a lot more details, including, 1. Why the price of the tournament suddenly tripled in 2011, from $46,000 to $142,000, according to the foundation’s IRS filings. Also, 2. Golf tournament costs escalating “to $230,000 in 2013, $242,000 in 2014 and finally $322,000 in 2015 … according to IRS filings.” Plus, 3. This quote attributed to the president:
“I don’t care if it’s my son or not–everybody gets billed.”
You didn’t know any of this before? Neither did I, and I would’ve probably remembered. Besides, the story got picked up by ABC News, CNBC and Business Insider.
There must’ve been a lot of other news going on at the time for this to be buried. Did anyone keep the newspaper from Wednesday, June 7, 2017?
Looking at the big picture, the world is a tough place. So is Washington, but Americans need to give the office of the president and the people who holds that title support during his term (no, not on every issue!). Then, we can reevaluate in about two years.
As for Congress, I have personal questions over whether to support the better candidate if he or she is a Republican, as I believe in my newly-drawn district, since all of Pennsylvania was redrawn due to gerrymandering. That would hurt the chance of getting at least one house of Congress out of Republican control, which could lead to more fair discussions and debates. But it’ll never happen in Philadelphia, and that’ll have to wait for another time.
So for now, I hope you’re safe if you’re in the path of Hurricane Florence!
And of course, we can’t forget Flo on the TV show Alice!
And a special thank you to everyone who visits this site and reads, except certain lawyers, but that may be an eye-opening discussion with full names, evidence and legal documents fully exposed. That can’t happen until next month.Luckily, I’ve learned not to dwell on certain things and hopefully it won’t come to that, but it’s not up to me. As they say in legalese, “Plaintiff has exhausted his administrative remedies.”
You’ve added 300 page views in the past 11 days and while the Sept. 3 post was one of my better ones, if I can say so, I know not all the traffic came from there. So please continue looking through and comment below any article. Remember, I can use some support after that Facebook post above! Also check comments on posts that interest you, since I’m always updating there!
Again, please leave your comments in the section below, and don’t miss out. If you like what you read here, subscribe to CohenConnect.com with either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish. I’m also available for writing/web contract work.
First, happy Mother’s Day to everyone to whom that applies. I hope you’re having a great day!
Second, today is also the celebration of Yom Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem Day. It’s the Hebrew anniversary of when the Israelis recaptured the eastern/holy part of the city in the Six-Day War of 1967. It’s where no Arab country’s leader had visited except Jordan’s King Hussein, who’d “occupied” it 19 years earlier in 1948.
But then it suddenly became so important to them.
There is lots and lots to say about President Trump, but this post isn’t about him. Still, he is making the embassy move from Tel Aviv happen and no other American president has done so, despite being able. So thank you, President Trump.
Shapiro, who is much more liberal, described the situation with a question:
“Why hasn’t the US ever recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital? Some people date it to the controversy that arose in 1967, when Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six-Day War and unified the city, describing it as a US protest against the Israeli ‘occupation’ of East Jerusalem. That’s wrong.
“The truth is that US policy on Jerusalem derives from events 20 years earlier, when the United Nations passed the Partition Plan for Palestine in November 1947.”
The two differ on many things but as my friend Andy, who pointed the article out, published:
“Good to see President Trump’s ambassador positively sharing an article by President Obama’s ambassador. Let’s keep support for Israel bipartisan.”
In the article, Shapiro described a day in the life of a U.S. Ambassador to Israel:
“Jerusalem had always been Israel’s capital, and we have always treated it functionally, if not formally, as such. When I served as the US Ambassador at our embassy in Tel Aviv, nearly every day I would be driven to Jerusalem to conduct affairs of state with the Israeli government at the Prime Minister’s office, the Foreign Ministry, and the Knesset.”
Then, he goes into a brief history of the complicated situation with Jerusalem at the center of it, describes a possible step towards solving an issue that has been delayed too many times over too many decades, and then how the embassy move could help end the century-old conflict. Let’s hope!
Also, Donald Trump’s face is featured on a ceremonial Israeli coin marking the 70th anniversary of the country’s rebirth.
Why does the other side try to claim there’s no Jewish history in Jerusalem? Who are they trying to fool? The answer is gullible haters who don’t want to believe it.
And onto the subject at hand, since I rarely write about myself and even more rarely write about personal subjects rather than professional ones.
Last week, I got a message on Facebook from someone I hadn’t seen in at least 30 years, and probably more like 40.
Technically, I’ve seen him on Facebook. We have several mutual friends, so we’ve seen each other commenting on their posts. (I’m speaking for myself, but can’t imagine the opposite not being true.) We were never really friendly growing up, even though we certainly knew each other.
The message went:
“Hi Lenny, I’m not sure of you remember me, but we grew up together. My memory may be off here, but I feel like I wasn’t always the nicest person to you and I really just want to apologize If I ever did or said anything to make you feel bad. You may not even recall this and maybe it’s more in my head. Anyhow, I just wanted to reach out and say hello. I hope you and your family are doing well. I remember your father very well. … He was always a really nice guy. Again, I know this is very random, but I saw your comment on _____’s post and just to reach out and say hello. Regards, _____”
Wow! Takes guts and a good person to write something like that. Very impressive!
I responded with a quick,
“No worries. I only remember good things. Hope you’re well. Thanks for writing!”
And we connected a few more times.
The truth, as I remember it, is I was not happy growing up in Florida. Early on, I felt most of the people simply couldn’t make it in civilization, like New York.
You know what Frank Sinatra sang:
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”
It was almost always too hot and humid. I wanted to stay inside and watch TV. I was a loner until high school.
Meanwhile, more people moved in to die. The area got more spread out and there was still traffic everywhere. Just Thursday, a friend posted this picture. It’s not downtown Miami but west of the airport.
The goal was to move to New York, which luckily – thanks to my parents – I didn’t do during college and never took on debt.
And instead of moving to New York, once I had enough career experience, I lived on both sides of it: almost two years in Connecticut and eight years in Philadelphia.
When I visit Florida, which hasn’t happened in more than a year, I feel even more like an outsider because of the language barrier. It’s a right-to-work state. Wages are low. So are taxes, even for people work in much better places and spend just 183 days a year there. On the other hand, insurance rates are sky high because of hurricanes and the water level will soon be, too.
Plus, having the career I had and never letting up, I’ve become more of a homebody in recent years.
The writer, who was nice enough to contact me on Facebook, was not a jerk or bully or anything like that. There were some people like that and always will be, even though the world has changed and adults are supposed to be looking for more signs, these days.
And count on the politically-correct police, out in force, to make sure nobody ever feels bad, ever:
People are going to feel bad. That’s a fact of life. It’s not fair. I suggest you fight for what you believe most and try not to sweat the less important stuff. Forget about it, especially if you’re not sure it actually happened decades ago.
And I thank Facebook for the information above. I would not have had it otherwise.
But if it helps you reconnect with people from your past, parents see pictures of their kids in college, grandparents see pictures of their grandchildren, and lets people celebrate their moms on Mother’s Day, and see the excitement of Israelis thrilled about their capital city being reunited and what’s to come this week, then get on board and sign up.
You don’t have to use every function or app, or even a few – but you’re missing out if you’re too stubborn to say you won’t miss good things if you’re not on Facebook.
Please, if you like what you read here, subscribe to CohenConnect.comwith either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish.
Industry leaders have been meeting in Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters Show and Adam Symson, president-CEO of the E.W. Scripps Co., made an interesting comparison between broadcast and digital.
“Broadcasting has been traditionally a very protected business — protected by regulation and economically protected because not everybody could have a television station in a market,” he said, according to TVNewsCheck. “That protection allowed us to develop our business in a certain way, historically.”
Running a digital business, on the other hand, “you’re forced to deal with a truly capitalistic, competitive environment,” he said.
What he’s saying is that there is not a level playing field.
If you want to own a TV station or FM radio station, you need to find one and buy it. It has already been allocated to the area and licensed to operate using the public airwaves, under Federal Communications Commission rules, in the public interest.
(For AM radio stations, just find an unused frequency in the area, get the required technical tests done to sow you’re not interfering with anyone else. That should include antenna height and signal power, probably less at night, and then apply. The rules were different way back!)
As I’ve said for years, workers don’t have the First Amendment right to freedom of speech; the station owner does.
But there aren’t really a lot of rules when it comes to digital. Anybody can have a website. What you’re reading proves it. So there’s unlimited competition from all over the world, as in World Wide Web.
No, people under 13 should not be filling out information. No porn without at least a warning (and maybe more, as if that works). And it’s not nice to post fake news.
Don’t forget all the advertising you can sell, since like a newspaper or magazine, digital publishers can have as many pages as they want and even make them longer. TV and radio stations are limited to 24 hours a day. Keep in mind programming and any other content is just to get people from one commercial break to the next, so you can charge more, but too much advertising will cause people to look or listen somewhere else.
Of course, looking or listening is free to them and somebody has to pay the bills. Subscriptions usually mean fewer or no commercials since money is coming in. (See: basic cable.)
So, keeping this simple, would you rather have your own TV station or website?
I’d go for the TV station. Yes, it costs more to operate (and even more than that if you want the product to be good). Digital can be done by one person and two cats with a computer connected to the internet.
But the number of TV stations is limited. They used to be referred to as a license to print money. Now, not as much as 50 years ago since, due to the growth of UHF and then cable, but there are still a limited number of stations.
And since they use the public airwaves (not cable, which has its own rules), they have to serve the public. But you’re the owner. You can hire engineers. You can own more than one station. And the number of rules you have to follow is dropping.
Pai said his approach to broadcast regulations is, “You either believe in scrapping outdated regulations or you don’t. We do.”
So now, eight rules are gone. They include ending the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban and also the main studio rule, which Pai claims “gives broadcasters greater flexibility without sacrificing transparency or community engagement. And it’s already making it easier for broadcasters to add new service or maintain existing service in rural communities” but the rule simply required broadcasters to maintain a main studio in or near their community of license. Think that’s important? Would somebody quite a distance away be an expert or even know enough about your town? So much for localism!
And there are more rules to go.
As for what’s next to go, according to Pai, “In particular, Commissioner [Michael] O’Rielly is now leading an effort to update our children’s television rules so that they better reflect the way that kids watch video these days, and I look forward to getting his recommendations.”
Instead, he expects it to be “more directive” than a call for reform ideas but didn’t have any definite proposals.
The commissioner said his goal is to
“further understand the market and determine if each requirement has produced the benefits to our nation’s children and families and examining these rules to see if they have resulted in any unintended consequences.
“Can we breathe some flexibility into our rules and make them more dynamic and responsive to the needs of kids? For example, studies show that children have shorter attention spans … but our rules only count programming that is 30 minutes in length.”
Jessell also said O’Rielly got “a call from an Ohio broadcaster who said his plans for a Saturday morning news program were ‘derailed’ by the need to make way for children’s programming.” I don’t know which station but will go to go out on a limb and say the news program would be much cheaper using a set already in the studio and an announcer already on staff. And where was the required children’s programming anyway? That’s just my two cents.
And BGR reports Pai, the former Verizon lawyer (gotta love THAT!), is still trying to keep the net neutrality rules dead. Those rules regulate telecom companies and the speed in which they get your computer to certain websites, but the FCC killed them in December. You shouldn’t have to pay more and neither should the owner of the website to see it faster. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all data on the internet the same.
However, the Illinois proposal “would ask internet service providers who contract with the state to disclose if they don’t plan to follow net neutrality rules.” That’s allowed through transparency rules. U.S. News & World Report says “The Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and IT Committee voted 6-2” in favor of it today, so it’ll move to the state House floor.”
Also, “a lawsuit involving several attorneys general against the FCC is pending.” There are 23 attorneys general signed on. Gizmodo named them: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia. Personal note: I don’t see Florida.
“Right now, I’m working with my Senate colleagues to pass a resolution in Congress to overturn this disastrous decision. My resolution would reinstate the rules that guarantee us an open Internet. With 50 votes at the ready, we only need one more Republican who is willing to work across the aisle and stand up against corporate special interests.
“The Internet doesn’t belong to a wealthy few.”
“rolled back several provisions meant to protect internet access for low-income and rural citizens, undoing a rule that would force providers to at least maintain existing DSL internet lines, and axing a subsidy for wireless service for low-income residents.”
He quoted an unnamed politician: “Cable companies panicked at [the Internet’s] threat to their business, so they monopolized Internet connectivity themselves.”
My take? They went too far. If cable and internet companies want to dig to serve one person in a municipality, then they should be forced to serve everyone in that municipality, whether they care to subscribe or not. Don’t electric and phone companies have to? But poor, rural people don’t make these companies money.
In May 2017, John Oliver encouraged viewers to voice their displeasure to the FCC in a particularly creative way:
But acting completely different from gutting rules, the UHF discount is back, putting Pai under investigation by the FCC inspector general. (That rule started because it used to matter whether a local TV station was VHF or UHF, due to antennas and how old TV sets were made for the UHF band. UHF stations were not as accessible, so the FCC decided the amount towards a company’s ownership cap should only be half for those stations, compared to VHF stations. It was ended because today’s technology means it doesn’t matter anymore.) Regarding the UHF discount’s revival, The New York Times wrote, “A few weeks later, Sinclair Broadcasting announced a blockbuster $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune Media — a deal those new rules made possible.”
— UPDATE: The FCC inspector general cleared Chairman Ajit Pai of being unfairly biased in favor of the Sinclair Broadcast Group–Tribune Media merger. —
“Sinclair’s top lobbyist, a former F.C.C. official, also communicated frequently with former agency colleagues and pushed for the relaxation of media ownership rules. And language the lobbyist used about loosening rules has tracked closely to analysis and language used by Mr. Pai in speeches favoring such changes.”
An FCC spokesman representing Mr. Pai countered the allegations of favoritism were “baseless,” and
“For many years, Chairman Pai has called on the F.C.C. to update its media ownership regulations. … The chairman is sticking to his long-held views, and given the strong case for modernizing these rules, it’s not surprising that those who disagree with him would prefer to do whatever they can to distract from the merits of his proposals.”
Pai is not very popular among many Americans who know who he is. According to Jessell, he ended by “thanking broadcasters for their personal support during some of the ‘challenges’ he has faced.” There were death threats after he led the FCC in eliminating the net neutrality rules.
At the end, Pai told the broadcasters,
“I do want … to let you know that … I very much cherish your statements, emails, tweets … personal conversations when I see you in the hallways, and for your thoughts and prayers from afar. They mean more than you know.
“So, on behalf of myself, the Pai family, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you. Thank you for being there for me and for us when it counted. I’ll never forget it.”
That was after, Jessell reported,
“Pai also patted himself on the back for helping broadcasters secure an additional $1 billion from Congress to insure that they will be fully reimbursed for moving to new channels in the wake of the FCC incentive auction.”
So much for helping the poor and the children! Ain’t government great?!
Then, “Hamas militant shot machine guns towards the aircraft, triggering rocket alert sirens throughout southern Israel in the regional councils of Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev.”
And Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s assistant and Representative for International Negotiations, tweeted that Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza and has been galvanizing weekly violent protests there, must cede control to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which rules Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
In a speech a few days ago, Hamas’s Gaza leader, Yahya Al-Sinwar says (in Arabic) that they will “tear down the wall and tear out their (meaning Israeli’s) hearts.” This message is monstrous. 1/3
Is this what a leader does? This only hurts the Palestinians of Gaza. This old-line of thinking and ideology hurts all Palestinians. This can cause the situation to escalate and many lives could be lost. Will Hamas ever learn? 2/3
Hamas must relinquish its control of Gaza to the PA and disarm. If it wants to join the REAL world, it must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and decide to abide by past agreements. It’s time for Hamas to make some real decisions. 3/3
Palestinians have been burning tires at the Israeli border — more than 10,000 last Friday alone — at the Israeli border, “to obscure the vision of the security fence separating Israel from Gaza so that Israeli troops could not not see infiltrators into the land,” according to The Daily Wire.
This video, in which you see that thick black smoke, is less than a minute long.
Muhammad Hamdan: “We have been informed by the Israeli side that imports of tires have been halted until further notice. There is no doubt stopping tire imports will have a negative effect on Palestinians in Gaza especially considering there is a shortage of them there. We are going to exert all efforts so that Israel reverses its decision.”
The Times of Israel is reporting the Hamas-run Gazan health ministry claims, “The Israel Defense Forces has so far killed 30 Palestinians in border clashes over the past two weeks.”
— The Times says there’s still much “unclear or unconfirmed about the attack” and that includes what could happen in the future involving other countries, namely Russia.
— In the meantime, The Gray Lady reports, “Syrian government forces prevent access to Douma for journalists, aid workers and investigators.”
— It says several independent medical and rescue groups report, “About 500 people … had symptoms consistent with a chemical attack: burning eyes, breathing problems and white foam coming from their mouths and nostrils.”
— The World Health Organization said, “About 70 people died while sheltering in basements” and “Of them, 43 had signs of being exposed to ‘highly toxic chemicals.’”
— According to medical and rescue groups, “Videos circulated by anti-government activists showed graphic images of families sprawled out in their homes, dead from apparent suffocation. A stream of victims rushed into clinics on Saturday.” You probably saw some of it on TV, as did I.
— The next day, Sunday, “Thousands of rebel fighters in Douma agreed … to hand the area over to the government and be bused to an area outside the government’s control in the country’s north.”
That’s all considered confirmed.
But The Times reports, “The state news media in Syria denied that the government had used chemical weapons, and accused a rebel group of fabricating the videos to drum up international support.” Russia and Iran agree. The U.S. and its allies don’t. The United Nations hasn’t decided and members disagree on how to investigate.
The U.S. is still trying to figure out what was used, or whether the attack “was launched by the Syrian government or forces supporting the government.” I wonder, does it really matter?
And who knows what President Trump is going to do, despite these tweets this morning?
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?
His next tweet also mentions Russia, but for a different reason. Is that telling?
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!
This is far from the first time chemical weapons have been used in the Syrian civil war. The Times says it started in August 2013, there ave been several types of chemicals and it “has shown no signs of abating.”
The Times remembers, President Trump’s response to an April 2017 attack that killed dozens of people in Khan Sheikhoun, in northern Syria, didn’t work. He ordered a military strike against the airfield where the weapons were launched, but that had little practical effect. The monitoring group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrians were using the airfield again within 24 hours.
So limited strikes don’t work, “but stronger responses carry significant risk of escalation,” according to the paper. Escalation could cause the collapse of the Syrian government, which I think sounds good “but could prolong the war and sow chaos for millions of Syrians. It could also invite a direct military confrontation with Russia, which warned that it would shoot down any missiles.”
But something has to be done. President Obama doing nothing after drawing a “red line” was an embarrassment to America and a disgrace to the free world.
It seems “the Obama administration’s determination to close the Iran nuclear deal is to blame for the failure to act on its own red line in Syria.” In case you haven’t realized, I wasn’t pleased with President Obama on the Middle East, I don’t trust the Iranians (and the Arabs don’t either, except Syria) and I had higher hopes for President Trump on the Middle East issue.
“When the president announced his plans to attack [the Assad regime] and then pulled back, it was exactly the period in time when American negotiators were meeting with Iranian negotiators secretly in Oman to get the nuclear agreement.
“US and Iranian officials have both told me that they were basically communicating that if the US starts hitting President Assad’s forces, Iran’s closest Arab ally … these talks cannot conclude.”
And the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps reportedly “would not accept a continued engagement with the US if its closest ally was being hit.”
According to Business Insider, “Ned Price, spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, denied that US policy on Syria was a part of the Iran nuclear talks.” I don’t think there’s any good excuse for not doing anything.
The magazine was able to look back four years, from 2012 to 2016.
It said in 2012, President Obama said
“his red line with the Assad regime would be the use of chemical weapons. Later that year, Assad’s forces killed nearly 1,500 people in a chemical-weapons attack.”
It also reported,
“Obama gave The Atlantic several reasons for not enforcing the red line — uneasiness about a strike against Syria not being sanctioned by Congress, a lack of support from the international community and the American people, the possibility that the intelligence on the chemical-weapons attack wasn’t 100% solid.”
Still no excuse if you draw a red line.
Business Insider concluded,
“The Iran deal is thought to be the crowning foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration, and experts have speculated previously that his determination not to compromise the deal affected his policy on Syria.”
For one, I’d like to see Assad’s palace turned into rubble. It would be a form of punishment and create a lasting impression for anyone considering sing chemical weapons yet again.
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I got up extremely early this morning to take Pedro to work, since he didn’t get the holiday off.
Soon after getting home, I noticed my Facebook friend Mark Segal — founder, owner and publisher of the renowned Philadelphia Gay News — had posted his column from last week. I’m two weeks behind in reading.
I love and respect Mark because he’s amazing: the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) media.
That said, I’m going to bury the details. There’s a reason and it’s because this week, he came up short.
“Mark, Israel’s oppression of Palestine? Who are these people of Palestine? The ones who massacred the Jews of Hebron in 1929? The ones who refused the U.N. partition plan in 1947? The ones who support terrorism, teach hate, and have turned down every peace opportunity? The ones you failed to include in your list of so many homophobic groups of people.
Why do the gay “Palestinians” try to sneak into Israel? Freedom to be themselves, or so their own families don’t kill them? Why do most of the straight ones in Jerusalem want to stay Israeli citizens? That doesn’t sound like oppression to me.”
Then, he gave a quick response: “I’ve written time and time again all that you have stated. Point is most in our community try to tie international issues to our struggle for equality without understanding the issues.”
To Mark’s credit, he “liked” my response.
However, I don’t think it went far enough. That’s why I wrote back, and I’m also doing so here because I feel strongly the point is so important:
Yes, Mark. You have “written time and time again all (I) have stated.” (Your words.)
And yes, Mark. “Most in our community try to tie international issues to our struggle for equality without understanding the issues.”
In other words, unfortunately, most in our community are ignorant because they don’t understand the issues.
That’s a disappointment and shows your writing “time and time again” has not gotten through.
For example, take this column. You were pretty clear about most of the countries you mentioned.
However, when it came to Israel, you wrote the longest of your 10 paragraphs (159 words). You focused on “a powder keg of dispute” rather than “There is no question that Israel is the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East” and I think that was a mistake.
Then you spent the rest of the paragraph (135 words, or 85 percent) being negative towards Israel. You condemned its current government (that allows it to be “the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East”). You said the worst thing about them is “they work in collaboration with the Trump administration to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem” which is perfectly within its rights.
Like it or not, Jerusalem is Israel’s seat of government, the Knesset (parliament) is there, and every country decides the site of its capital. This is one call President Trump got right, and former presidents for more than 20 years have not.
It is not a gay rights issue.
Then, you wasted 89 words (66 percent, which is nearly two-thirds of the paragraph) doing the job of Israel-bashers and anti-Semites (if there’s a difference) bringing up a vicious boycott that hasn’t worked, and comparing Israel to South Africa under apartheid.
You failed to clearly teach our community that does not understand the issues there is no apartheid in Israel, that Israel rescued so much of the Ethiopian Jewish population which is black and that black Israelis and non-Jewish Israelis have the same rights as everyone else. All types of Israelis get elected to the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, join the army, become beauty queens, etc.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (page 9 in link) and that great man said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
That is Israel.
That paragraph in your column — its largest — was a wasted opportunity to inform, which we both know is the point of a news organization. You did not state unequivocally that Israel is morally right as a supporter of the LGBT community, and the Palestinians are morally wrong for being homophobic — plus all the history I stated in my previous post.
Not strictly differentiating between right and wrong — and allowing the less educated, simple among us to continue to use intersectionality, and their prejudices towards Israel and the Jewish people — was a disservice. Ignoring it allowed misinformation to continue.
Mark, you are usually a terrific writer. I bought your book. You were nice enough to autograph the portion of Larry Kane’s book, Larry Kane’s Philadelphia, about you for me and also for my parents.
You’ve done a ton of creative and constant protesting for the LGBT community over five decades. You’ve traveled extensively and know better. This was not your best column.
Oh, and the anti-Israel reaction since the story was misleadingly brought up after more than two years. And how Israel is constantly being treated differently than every other country in the world. (By the way, look for the part that reads “a fair and just immigration policy in our own country.” Who knew we’d still be discussing that?)
That makes some of us very defensive.
A month earlier, there was my very first blog. Three years and four days ago, I wrote how reaction to a terror attack in France was different than terror attacks in Israel, and what it would look like with the shoe on the other foot.
(Side note: Anniversary missed. Can’t let that happen again!)
Here is some more on Dr. King and Israel, thanks to the group Stand With Us.
Click here to watch Dr. King state, “The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.”
Other examples of his positions on Zionism and Israel include:
— “Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”
— “Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.”
— “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”
Clarence B. Jones, personal attorney and close adviser to Dr. King, said:
— “I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism.”
–“Martin … warned repeatedly that anti-Semitism would soon be disguised as anti-Zionism.”
According to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), civil rights leader and one of the 13 original Freedom Riders: “(MLK) understood that a special relationship exists between African Americans and Jews … He knew that both peoples were uprooted involuntarily from their homelands. He knew that both peoples were shaped by the tragic experience of slavery. He knew that both peoples were forced to live in ghettoes, victims of segregation … He knew that both peoples were subject to laws passed with the particular intent of oppressing them simply because they were Jewish or black. He knew that both peoples have been subjected to oppression and genocide on a level unprecedented in history.”
I may be wrong, but I’m going to guess Mark is working extra hard since he’s between permanent editors for the first time in years. He definitely means well and usually does well. But notice, since I wrote so little on that, it doesn’t come across as the focus of this blog — just like “There is no question that Israel is the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East” in the column.
Mark has put his own freedom on the line for the cause too many times to count. He knows how to take a stand. I just just wish he’d done so this time, for the issue’s importance, and that more people may be reading PGN if they’re off from work due to the holiday.
P.S. I have a positive update on my mother since Thursday’s post, after she fell in the kitchen and broke her pelvis in three places. Yesterday, she was transferred from the hospital to rehab. She’s expected to be there for physical therapy, two weeks minimum. Then, she and my fathher will need help when she returns home.
I also thank the 21 Facebook friends from all over the country, with different backgrounds and different political views, who shared the link — which I’m sure Facebook’s algorithm, whatever it may be these days, used to help me come across it. I really don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, outside of work. I may click and see the first few personal posts, and check for birthdays. So please don’t feel bad if I don’t comment or “like” something you put on there.
Besides, I’m grateful for the opportunity to get some deep thoughts out, once and for all, since everything stays on the internet forever. And I’m about to pay for another year of having this site.
(I should add, I spent most of Thursday writing this. Then I slept on it. Now, Friday, I’m adding two brand new items that occurred after the author published her original article.)
Since I figured out how to post again, I won’t say I agree with the article 100 percent, nor would I expect to, but I’ve studied, read, traveled, worked in several newsrooms in different cities with different managers with different companies, and noticed over two decades:
First, what everyone wants answered.
We are definitely aware of and have access to the latest ratings, so we know what you choose to see, when you change the channel, and when you turn your TV off. Online, we know what you click on and what you don’t. Plus, what you comment about and react to. The numbers we get cannot be perfect but they are the best available and the only thing the industry plus advertisers have to go by. They are certainly not the Bible, but we and our bosses certainly look at what works, what doesn’t, and try to please you. Honestly.
At the same time, while we have the responsibility to report the issues, the public has the civic duty to pay attention to what’s going on. If the people choose fluff, nonsense and BS, then it’s their fault and the industry will ultimately provide more. It’ll end up being society’s loss. So please stay away from that. Besides, I don’t feel fulfilled writing it.
Nobody is perfect. Experience as an employee taught me when to ask questions, when to bother people, and when to know when something is going wrong, or could be about to go wrong.
Even if you’re perfect, you can’t please everyone. People will always complain, way too many thrive on it, and often the people who bitch and moan have different opinions for opposite reasons. (One: “You’re too liberal.” The other: “You’re too conservative.” My reaction: We were probably fair.)
Sometimes the people who complain are right and we learn from whatever we did wrong, or could’ve done better, or what to think about the next time the situation arises. (And it will.) Sometimes it’s an accident and sometimes it’s technical. We apologize and correct. And every industry has a few bad apples. Hopefully they don’t last long.
We do the best we can to provide the best content, often under difficult situations. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a big city or small town. Recognize that. Say something nice and encourage, rather than complain. This article just came out TODAY.
Computers are slow or break down. Programs have bugs that providers have to fix. Not every day is everyone’s best. And I can’t even begin to talk for my colleagues who have to travel far out in the field, despite weather conditions, and gather information, get a signal out, be completely accurate while getting both sides across, and perform calmly while making their slot in the newscast.
These days, it’s a shame there are so many cowards who hide behind their keyboards and tell us we are wrong. They should grow up and make themselves known, provide evidence of the error and a suggestion to make it better. Then, they would earn people’s respect and be the real influence they supposedly want to be.
In the newsroom, I frequently take opportunities to walk up to higher-ups, knock on doors, and email others at home when necessary to ask questions or get clarifications. And never has anyone taken sincerity badly in any way. I actually like it when people ask me to explain myself, because there is always a reason for what I do. Everything should be done professionally, not randomly.
At least in America, when you make yourself famous by running for office, or powerful for running a company that does big business, or rich for having a contract with the government, or even by receiving a paycheck from taxpayers, you are putting yourself out there and the public has the right to reasonably scrutinize you for answers. Those people don’t always like it and have tried lots of ways to avoid publicity. Public relations people know that getting ahead of a situation honestly is often the best course. People respect others coming clean, asking for forgiveness and showing improvement over time, because they tend to like underdogs and are usually willing to give second chances.
In this case I just learned about, did the commentator ask a follow-up to an untruth? Or tell her he’d never heard of what she was talking about on his broadcast? Or become adversarial, play devil’s advocate because it never happened? Or was he just happy one of his producers booked her and she showed up, so she got to say whatever she wanted?
That’s a media error by not challenging the person on the media’s air, and that goes for public call-in shows and comments on social media sites, as well. It this case, it’s ironic because it started with a prominent member of a team that has been criticizing the media.
So besides knowing our stuff and being well-rounded, we in the media have to be good, honest people, and above the board on everything. No appearances of any dishonesty, ulterior motives, etc. Always open with the highest standards.
We are often a diverse group in every sense of the word, and I don’t mean the automatic liberal, bean-counting way many would first assume. Consider so many different backgrounds, hometowns, families, experiences, friends, connections, etc. But we all tend to be curious, ask questions and tell stories. And everywhere, I’ve quickly learned who to defer to for background information on a subject. We should all listen more to each others’ stories.
I agree with the part of the article about news happening too fast. With technology these days, and the 24-hour cable world, decisions have to be made faster. That means there’s less time for thinking, planning, asking other opinions, and other important tasks. We’re not just TV or radio or newspaper people. There are also the websites and the social media that goes along with it. Like it or not, it’s social media that gets people to the web. Don’t automatically believe something if you don’t know the source.
Unfortunately, it costs money to run a newsroom and I wish that was out of the equation. News directors would love to have the best coverage and most crews on every story, especially the most important, yet they also have budgets and bosses to answer to. Unlike the past, we’re on most of the time from morning to night, and always on call for emergencies. There is never enough of something, but the results are usually darn good.
We have journalistic ethics and responsibilities. Journalists should be trained and reminded about these regularly, like politicians should reread the Constitution now and again, but that takes time and money. There are also specific procedures, which vary by station. But, as a former boss put it, there should be guidelines rather than rules, since every situation, story, and circumstance is different.
Like the public, journalists should know who to trust, in and out of the newsroom. People and organizations earn their reputations over time and often generations. Of course, things change. Organizations that were once good are sold, or there is other turnover. And newer organizations can bring in the right people. Look at everything and be skeptical.
The FCC loosening regulations over the decades led to most TV stations being owned by out-of-town corporations. There used to be a limit of five stations per company, and only one in a market, and not in the next city, because people living in between can watch you in both places (a grade B overlap). But the government loosed the rules, companies slowly started to own or run stations in 100 places, and local decisions about public airwaves are made and enforced by layers of strangers, who lack of knowledge of certain communities, and require paperwork be sent (electronically), profits rise every quarter despite local conditions, etc. Whose fault is that and what would any business do?
Still, we are responsible for the public airwaves in the areas our stations are licensed to cover. Deregulation and relaxing the rules created a lot more sharing between stations, and blindly relying on others, rather each station doing its own independent work. Not to mention vertical integration and controlling both the means of getting the signal (cable, satellite, internet), plus providing the original content and perhaps denying the competition a fair shot.
Budgets mean sacrificing the best, the experienced, and the most connected. This past year, one of the biggest media companies offered the bulk of theirs golden parachutes and nearly everyone accepted, knowing their contracts will eventually end and likely not be renewed, so they’d work longer and leave with much less. Instead, cheaper, inexperienced replacements are doing their jobs. Hopefully, they have potential and are getting great mentoring.
It would be nice if hard workers could grow old in the industry. I learned early on to respect my elders and their staying power. These are the folks who have been there and done it many times before, learned from long-ago mistakes and earned their respect. Yes, the technology always changes but gathering the facts to put on the news has not. Media corporations seemed to get rich with last year’s election, even if Donald Trump didn’t spend as much money as they would’ve liked during the primaries. NBC stations did especially well with the Olympics. Playing poor in 2017 doesn’t cut it and the public should know and be angry about it.
On the other hand, all other industries play the same game. Shareholders invest to make money, and that’s not helping the product. Times have changed and there are so few sole-proprietors or family-owned businesses. Another bad thing about that is not knowing where the buck stops. Huge corporations have layers upon layers of managers, in-house, regional and at headquarters. We need another Harry Truman.
It’s always good to check out the competition, but just out of curiosity. There are good folks on every team. Some of what another station does may be better and some not. Everyone has good and not-so-good days. We can learn from each other and each other’s mistakes. But every organization has to be true to itself, its values and its audience. It’s another reason why more independence for stations would be a good thing.
The author’s views on breaking news are correct. It seems to take too much time to get to the truth. We want facts and video as soon as possible, before anyone else, and we’re doing it faster than ever before. Almost anyone can send pictures with their smartphones. We can describe what we see. We can discuss the area around it because we should be familiar with all parts of our region. We can call neighbors around the situation to ask what they see and hear from their homes, because we should have contacts around the region we are responsible to cover. However, there are time, coordination, and safety issues to consider before arriving at a breaking news story. Sometimes we are lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and sometimes the competition is. That’s life.
I’m blessed to be working on the web and not going out, meeting new people in person and having to remember their names. I stink at that and also did as a teacher. (“Is that kid one of mine?”) I’ve come to dislike being in the spotlight, and love learning new stuff every day.
I usually like what I do and want to keep doing it indefinitely, but I also regret I can’t do more. I’m pretty fast, but there are only a certain number of hours in a day and too many stories to do correctly, at least where I live. Nobody can be everything to everyone and trying is impossible and detrimental. Right now, I’m doing what I like best and learning other skills that support it, my organization, and also others should the need ever arise. In this business, you never know, and that’s also unfortunate.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I haven’t blogged in months. Actually, it’s getting close to a year. Between moving and working, I haven’t had time to fully explain myself. But spending most of my day off on this is worth it. I thank the author of the article for writing, also my friends who shared it on Facebook for arousing my thoughts, and of course everyone over the years who taught me something. I hope you know who you are because I have recognized you for it.
I’m going to stay in the middle, avoid extremes and remain questioning while keeping an open mind. And I’m going to end by stealing the author’s last line, which I think may be the best and totally sums up this imperfect industry: “The truth is, we don’t even have time to create an agenda if we wanted to… and if we found extra time, we’d eat!”
A year ago, I was living in Florida, deciding what I wanted to do with my life (and not much else).
I wanted to go back to doing news on the web and had considered blogging. I hoped it could give me a better chance of breaking back in, considering I’d been out of the business for eight years. (And a lot of TV stations use WordPress.)
What got me started was a wonderful picture someone (I forgot who) posted on Facebook.
The Charlie Hebdo attacks happened a few days earlier in France. Gunmen killed 12 people at the satirical magazine.
The next day, another extremist shot a policewoman dead and went on to kill four people at a Jewish supermarket.
I wrote, “Perhaps the world should put the same demands on France as it does to Israel.” Fascinating thought! In the year since, the subject of Muslim immigrants and phrase “radical Islam” have been in the news a lot.
Also a year ago on this date, I wrote “Probably won’t be the last attack against a Western democracy. The world has to act & put an end to it, wherever it is.” Unfortunately, I was right in both Israel and France.
But it has been a good year personally. John hired me in the Tri-Cities and I started a whole new life, doing what I wanted at a whole new level. I got an actual house and rented out the condo in Miami. So I can’t complain.
Let’s not forget the home improvements. Thanks to Garry for a lot of that. And good times with Casey and Yeti.
The blog has been a work in progress, like so many other things. I learned more and actually like WordPress more than the web tool Lakana we use at work. And, I even incorporated more A.P.-style writing than I did, but still don’t completely like it.
There was a break for a few months. Work got in the way.
Eventually, this email: “At the end of the year, the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.”
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
So there were 4,900 views through Dec. 31. There were 342 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 196 MB. That’s about 7 pictures per week.
The busiest day of the year was Feb. 25 with 287 views. Not surprisingly, the post that day was that I could reveal I got a job – and I’m moving!.
In 2015, I wrote 32 posts. My longest streak was 3 days in a row, March 15-17. They were about the move, work and the new city. On the other hand, there was a big break between June and November. And Sunday was my most popular day to post.
What shocked me most was that people read the blog in 48 countries! A close second was that Brazil and the United Kingdom were the countries that followed the U.S.
So… Thank you for reading and following along. I hope I’ve helped or humored in some way.
I love being back in news. Sure, the hours are long, especially when you don’t have a boss. (My new one starts November 30th). But obviously it’s true when news breaks.
Friday, I was coming off a tough week. Again, no boss. Demands from the sales and weather departments. Plus, lots of plans, work, and expenses at home.
But I didn’t think of any of that when the A.P. urgents from Paris started coming down in the late afternoon. I just wanted to make sure our website and social media had the latest on the story, and that I’d get to go home at a reasonable hour. (I start with the social media at 8am.)
Of course, I worked for hours from home on Saturday and Sunday. I’m a department of one.
One thing about news people I picked up after 9/11 is that they don’t get to personally react to news until well after it happens. The reason, simply, is that we’re working under deadline, trying to get the information out best, first, and without technical problems. Professionals focused only on work.
That’s done, as of the moment. Now, I have a moment to breathe and think.
Since late Friday, I’ve covered the story from home, read so much of what you’ve posted on Facebook, and watched last night’s Democratic debate.
So now, my thoughts:
The first thing to strike me was French president Francois Hollande, immediately vowing a tough response. “We will lead the fight and we will be ruthless,” he said, and also be “merciless” against the extremists.
What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing! In fact, it’s about time. Was he in the moment and taking it back after calming down and thinking clearly? So far, no. And that’s a good thing. I hope it happens.
But when Israel is attacked and shows restraint when going after attackers (warning civilians to get out, not turning Gaza into a parking lot), the world feels otherwise. The rules are different and there is a double standard, even coming from America.
Dresden and Hiroshima solved problems for the rest of us, didn’t they?
Go back to my very first blog, written on Jan. 11, shortly after the Charlie Hebdo and Jewish supermarket attacks. Back then, I wrote: “The world ignores terrorism against Israelis. Now, they feel a lot more sympathy because it happened in France. Probably won’t be the last attack against a Western democracy. The world has to act and put an end to it, wherever it is.” Sad but true.
That leads me to our leader, commander-in-chief, President Obama. We’ve contained ISIS? Even if he was misquoted, as was suggested on one of this morning’s public affairs shows, he should’ve known by now to choose his words more carefully. Even yesterday, I thought about President Bush and this picture (thanks for posting, Ariel):
At last night’s debate, Hillary Clinton said ISIS “cannot be contained” but instead must be “defeated.”
I’d like to hear Democratic presidential candidates talking about foreign affairs more. Last night, there was too much back-and-forth about Wall Street reform and reinstating Glass-Steagall. We get it. But did anybody mention “radical Islam” rather than simply jihadists?
My advice to politicians: Name the enemy. Call it what it is. Keep it simple. Make people understand. Show them you understand! (And really mean it.)
The world has to decide what’s right and what’s wrong, and take the proper side consistently. Don’t equate the good with the bad. Sadly, this posting from The Israel Project is really the case:
Don’t believe me? This was posted on my own station’s home page on October 22nd:
I discovered it at about 8am that day. Nobody at work put it up. A company in Minneapolis posted it on about 100 different stations’ sites, including one in most U.S. cities.
This was my note to them: (Click to enlarge.)
And these were their responses:
Look at the article now: “Two Palestinian men armed with knives tried to board a bus carrying children in Israel but were forced back by people inside the vehicle, police said.” Exactly the opposite.
Job done, but I wonder how many people saw it, especially in big cities, before it was changed.
In Nov., 2013, Hollande called on Israel to stop building, saying settlements in the West Bank were “hampering the creation of a Palestinian state” – as if suburban sprawl, mostly near the pre-1967 line, is such a big deal, the source of so many problems, for a country that pulled its people out of Sinai and Gaza, hoping for peace.
C’mon! Treat your friends like friends and your enemies like enemies.
By now, there’s a very long track record. These days, killings in Beirut (40+ on Thursday) would not normally make big news in the U.S. but it did because of Paris. Are these isolated incidents? See for yourself. (Thanks, Mathew. Unfortunately, there have been a lot this month. You’ll have to click to enlarge the print.)
Sometimes the truth hurts. Every group has radicals. If they can’t take care of their own, then somebody else will have to in order to save lives in the long run and stop history from repeating itself.
So let’s recognize the enemy for what it is and defeat it, once and for all. (Dresden and Hiroshima helped Germany and Japan change in big ways, wouldn’t you say?)
P.S. Politically, I’m moderate (I think) and undecided. Right now, most of the candidates on both sides have a shot at my vote. There’s no party registration in Virginia so everybody is game. I want to know who’s viable and who to believe.
I rarely get involved in discussions I see on Facebook, other than liking a post or signing a petition. Unfortunately, what I saw today had me acting differently.
A friend up in Philadelphia saw an article that was more than two years old and she wasn’t happy. In fact, she linked to it and simply wrote she was “outraged” that Israel injected some Ethiopian immigrants with a birth control drug. I totally get the outrage. It’s very bad.
But it wasn’t the whole story. Bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel (or trying to) has been going on for many decades, even before famine and disease in the 1980’s. I don’t know how or why my friend found the old story this morning, but a friend of hers commented that she shouldn’t be outraged because Israel has done even worse! And this friend apparently works for the NBC TV station in Philadelphia! (I figured that out because we have 23 mutual friends, although that number is probably dropping as you read.)
This is when I got offended, and it wasn’t over the person’s grammar! (Click any images in this blog to enlarge.)
This is the story. It involved about 30 women and lasted for about 3 months. It ended because Israelis were furious.
I don’t blame Atlanta Blackstar for jumping in and publishing the story at the time it was written. I can’t even be disappointed if they rushed to put out the worst of it. That’s what news seems to be about these days. Hopefully they updated the story as more information came out. That would be the responsible thing to do.
However, people looking at an article that’s 25 months old can and should look for additional sources to put the story into perspective. That would be the responsible and intelligent thing to do, especially before sharing the article with others! Like taking down what you posted on Facebook when it turns out to be wrong, so you don’t mislead others.
(And for the knowledgeable people here, our Facebook “discussion” didn’t get into the Jewish vs. non-Jewish Africans, and I won’t here, either.)
The comments from Atlanta Blackstar’s readers under its story is also telling. Apparently, they’re very quick to judge.
Israel has a lot of problems. Anybody researching the plight of African migrants there is going to get a back-and-forth from the government, with no real answers. That’s its prerogative. But the government did not send them all back. Perhaps Europe should let them in. Europe has let in Muslim Arabs for quite awhile, and look what has happened since. Perhaps these Ethiopian migrants should have been let into Europe instead of Israel.
Look at the countries they passed through to get to where they are. Did they consider stopping along the way? Of course not! Would they have been allowed to stay in those places? Who knows? Did Israel do anything to cause the problem? Certainly not in their African homelands. All the troubles back in Africa are to blame. What are people around the world doing to make life better at home, other than complaining about Israel to a Web site thousands of miles away? Simply telling them to stay put, as my friend’s friend said, seems like a copout of an answer. (And I understand his need to find someone to blame. Jews have been an easy target for thousands of years.)
The eagerness of some people to jump to attack Israel reeks of anti-Semitism, and any comparison to the Holocaust is sickening. Jews in 1930’s and 1940’s Europe were being discriminated against, taken away, and murdered, and would have gone anywhere as an alternative. They had no choice. The world was silent. Nobody would take them. At least these migrants have a choice, even if it’s far from perfect. How dare people thousands of miles away disagree with it without offering an alternative!
Israel can’t be everything to everybody in the world. No country could accept that challenge. There are problems everywhere. This is not the world’s foremost problem that antagonists thousands of miles away should inject themselves into. The same folks at the United Nations accuse Israel of all the world’s problems, yet ignore heinous acts everywhere else.
For example, in just the past few days:
— jihadists in Libya posting a video showing the beheadings of 21 EgyptianChristians
— a deadly attack at a café and synagogue in Denmark
— hundreds of desecrated Jewish graves in France
— all the homelessness and lack of adequate healthcare in our own country.
I suggest my friend’s friend fight for a fair and just immigration policy in our own country. He’d have more influence over here than in any country thousands of miles away. He should get to work right away.
I’ve tried to do my part. In that Facebook “discussion,” I didn’t mention how much money I’ve given to The North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ) over the years to get Ethiopian Jews out. Or how my brother at his bar mitzvah and sister at her bat mitzvah “twinned” with Ethiopian Jews to get their stories out. Or how this past summer, I visited with Physicians for Human Rights in Tel Aviv and saw how the group gives medical care and other help to refugees. My group also donated food to non-Jewish African immigrants living in a park near Tel Aviv’s old Central Bus Terminal.
The world is often an awful place but this isn’t the time or place to have a kneejerk reaction, or try to cause somebody else to hate.
In the words of Rodney King, can’t we all just get along?
Here it goes, my 1st blog post. Seems the shoe is on the other foot after this week’s terror attacks in France. The world ignores terrorism against Israelis. Now, they feel a lot more sympathy because it happened in France. Probably won’t be the last attack against a Western democracy. The world has to act & put an end to it, wherever it is. In the meantime, enjoy this picture I found on Facebook. Perhaps the world should put the same demands on France as it does to Israel.