The symptoms include acute nausea, dizziness, head-to-toe body-itching and sudden anger – followed by an irresistible urge to throw something at the TV screen.
It’s called electionitis … and thousands of Americans throughout the country are currently suffering the unavoidable malady. The only cure is bed rest, plenty of water (preferably, something a bit stiffer) and turning off the TV – at least until November 7.
Hang in there. This too will pass.
Other than the die-hard History Channel, or National Geographic devotee, the rest of us TV watchers have been barraged with non-stop, way-too-negative political ads that make every candidate out to be just short of Jack the Ripper.
If we really believed all that stuff we hear, why would we want any of them as leaders? And judging by the ‘Johnny-one-note’ TV news coverage, absolutely nothing else is happening in the world besides the upcoming elections – and, of course, Libya, the events of which are still a mystery.
If that wasn’t enough, we then had back-to-back ‘debates,’ followed by non-stop debate coverage interpreting what went on, as if the general public is too stupid to figure it out ourselves.
Well, the good news is it’s almost over. Just 18 days down the road and your electionitis will clear up.
Hang in there – and try not to throw that shoe at the TV.
I don’t know about you, but I’m one happy camper now that both political conventions have, thankfully, come and gone.
While I can’t say I tuned in for every moment, I saw enough of both to convince me that this country desperately needs a viable third political party – and one that truly looks out for the ordinary, overburdened citizen.
What I came away with from the two ‘media events’ is that this country not only lacks real statesman leadership, but that the electorate values hype and entertainment over substance. It’s not who will make the best president, but who comes across as the ‘hippest” or who reads the teleprompter better.
Other ‘highlights’ included a somewhat sad and rambling address by one of my favorite film heroes – Clint Eastwood. (However, while the pundits fell over themselves dishing dirt on “Dirty Harry,” they all seemed to forget that this movie icon is 82 years old and delivered his address ad lib, something no one else had the cojones to do.
Then we had the Democrats trotting out their cast of staple ‘celebrities’ – a worn-out Bill Clinton (a president that was impeached, lest we forget); ‘ghost-of-Christmas past,’ Caroline Kennedy, and the truly heroic Gabrielle Gifford, who could barely walk across the stage (shame on them). I’m surprised the Democrats didn’t dig up Teddy Kennedy and prop up the corpse as background scenery.
But the most laughable element of both conventions was what one astute pundit labeled the “destitution derby.”
First we heard Anne Romney describe the sad tale of how hard it was for the young, newly-married couple, as they struggled and sacrificed to raise 5 boys while Mitt climbed the ladder of success. (This is a scenario I have trouble picturing.)
But it was when Michelle Obama described Barack’s “digging in the dumpster for furniture” that I really fell off my chair.
Do these people really think we buy this B.S.? I mean, I haven’t heard such political hard luck stories since the one about Old Abe ‘splitting rails’ for a living.
Apparently, just about everyone running for office was one step away from the poor house! But the truth is that a huge portion of Americans are a lot closer to the poor house than these politicians know, or even care about.
Instead of hearing more broken promises, or how great the American people are, I’d like to know what we can really count on, and how one of them is actually going to lead us out desperation.
Now that’s something I’d tune in for.
If there’s anyone left who doesn’t believe we live in a very violent society, I don’t what else will convince them.
Once again, some ‘Looney Tunes’ wacko went berserk – and instead of blowing out his own twisted brains – instead, massacred innocent people just sitting in a movie house.
Chillingly, the sicko who recently shot 12 people dead in Aurora, Co., including a 6-year-old little girl who was out with her daddy, and injured more than 50 others, did his dirty deed just a dozen, or so, miles from Littleton, where two other mentally deranged young adults massacred 13 at Columbine High School in 1999.
What’s going on in Colorado? It’s hardly the same “Rocky Mountain ‘High,’” immortalized by John Denver. I lived in Denver from 1975 to 1984, and while just about everybody but me owned a gun, most violence, that I can recall anyway, was restricted to barroom brawls, and jealous lovers.
But as my college-student son reminds me: “That was back in the olden days!”
He could be right. In just 25 years, I have witnessed much change in American society – and a lot of it has not been for the better. Back then, cable TV was in its infancy, so there wasn’t much to influence kids yet. In fact, I remember when MTV first came on – very innocent by today’s standards. Those were the days when “Star Wars,” “Superman,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Rocky” were the big blockbusters. Not much there in the way of violence, other than Jack Nicholson’s frontal lobotomy or Rocky’s punched out face. And the only computer game available was “Pong,” which wouldn’t hold the attention of today’s teens for a nano-second.
The point is, we have become the most violent society in the civilized world. American daily life is saturated with graphic, bloody and gory, constant violence. Whether it’s movies, TV, video games – or even 24-hour news coverage – violence has become as natural to us as the air we breathe.
We seem immune to the sight of bloody bodies lying dead in the street, or to the terrible violent acts we see on the news – be it gang violence – or even at a neighborhood movie theater.
Sadly, perpetrators of violence become instant celebrities, and the jerks who “star” on those battling, screaming reality shows have become people we admire and try to emulate.
Viciousness and vulgarity are the twin ‘buzz’ words today. And what about guns? Well, guns have been around for quite some time – not so for the abundance of wackos we seem to be producing these days.
While I’d love to see every gun disappear, I’m not naïve enough to believe the criminal element will be turning their weapons over anytime soon, if ever.
So, what to do? Should I actively join the campaign for gun control (in the misguided belief that will end violence?), I ask myself. But now denied an ‘equalizer,’ what happens if I come face to face with some low-life intent on doing me harm – or who’s on a mission to massacre as many people as he can?
I don’t know. Then again – maybe the outcome would have ended differently at that movie theater in Aurora if someone else would have had a gun.
As a longtime journalist and avid ‘news junkie,’ I waited with anxious anticipation for the premier of HBO’s new series, “Newsroom,” which airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m.
After three installments, I can’t say I’m disappointed. Time will tell if I remain a fan.
The premise revolves around a popular cable TV news show that is committed to doing something new – something that has become as rare as a TV roof antenna – present an honest-to-goodness, non-agenda or politically biased news report.
Wow! Today that’s almost an oxy-moron.
While I can personally testify that journalists, at least the many journalists I have known, have always had a ‘liberal’ bent, their individual convictions didn’t color the way they presented the news – at least, not deliberately or so obviously.
Back then, we usually had the typical news director who kept us honest … a two-fisted drinker who chained smoked and didn’t put up with any bull…t!
But today it’s a different ‘newsroom.’ For openers, female newscasters overwhelmingly come in various shades of blonde, have high-pitched, squeaky voices, show lots of skin, and wear tight bright outfits that were once prevalent on the dark streets of 8th Avenue.
The usual male newscaster – an ‘8 by 10 glossy’ with perfect teeth and coiffed hair – isn’t much different.
I have my doubts Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley would get a job today.
But the plastic appearance of most newscasters is a minor point compared to the plastic news content of the typical news show. First you get three minutes of news (if you’re lucky), then four minutes of commercials, followed by a quartet of talking head “panelists” who drown out each other with shouting till you have no idea what they’re saying. I give up!
“I’m mad as hell – and I’m not going to take it anymore,” to shamelessly quote a famous fictional newsman. And thanks, to the growing demise of newspapers, I now get my news online.
Here’s hoping HBO’s “Newsroom” will bring back a yearning for a once- proud, American institution that couldn’t be topped.
Recent Florida FCAT results show our state’s schoolchildren are getting dumber. This year, only 27 percent of third-graders got a passing grade of 4 out of 6 on this year’s exam, compared to 81 percent last year, reported a Sun-Sentinel columnist. Moreover, only about one in four of Florida’s schoolchildren can write at grade level. (Forget about reading!)
While this is hardly breaking news – every year is seems to get worse – it’s way past time to recognize and admit that something is terribly wrong with our education system.
I don’t blame the children. No matter what their socio-economic environment, a young child’s mind is very much a blank slate and it’s up to the educator to fill it with learning. No, I blame the army of lousy or incompetent teachers who are backed by a self-serving union. But the real villain in this tragic tale is the “school board.” Local and national school boards are the ones who make the rules and decisions on how our children should be taught. For myself, I’d like to give all school board members (and teachers) the FCAT test to see how they fare. I think the results would show we have the “blind leading the blind.”
I had a firsthand opportunity to see our education system at work 20 years ago when my son entered kindergarten at a local public school. From what I observed, it didn’t take long to see he wasn’t going to get an education and after four years, he transferred to a private school.
I came to the conclusion from what I observed that education was not a priority. Emphasis was put on what I would call “extra-curricular activities,” and not on reading, writing and arithmetic. This may be well meaning, but it’s a big mistake
When I entered first grade (back in the “olden days” as my son calls it), I didn’t know an A from a B. My neighborhood parochial school didn’t offer kindergarten so I had to wait. If there ever was a “blank slate,” it was me. All I knew was how to “play.” But I really looked forward to second grade because by grade’s end you were expected to be able to read. If not, you got left back. I made it. And while I wasn’t exactly able to peruse The New York Times, I managed to get through my favorite “Little Lulu” comic book.
By the time I reached high school, I knew more history, geography and literature than most college students do today. I could also write a literate essay or composition. And, I was no whiz kid. This was typical of the education everyone got.
So what to do? First of all, get discipline in the classroom. No one can learn in a three-ring-circus. If you’re disruptive, it’s off to vocational school. But I guess they don’t have those anymore. Too bad. It separated kids who really wanted to learn from those who were there for other reasons. It also taught less motivated students a trade so they could to earn a living.
And, above all, stress the three “R’s.” If you can’t read or write or add, you don’t have a chance. It also wouldn’t hurt if all school kids had to wear uniforms, like they do in charter schools. Not only is wearing the same outfit a social equalizer, it’s less distractive or a source of combative behavior.
Sadly, I don’t expect to see these things implemented anytime soon. That would be too logical. So, most likely, the dumbing down of America will continue.
I can’t wait to see next year’s FCAT results. OY!