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Friday, December 28, 2012

An Old Letter From El Salvador


(Between 1980 and 1982 I spent a lot of time in Central American countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua--all of which were involved in some nasty guerilla uprisings and revolutions. From time to time I will post one of the stories I did from these places. The following story was one I wrote from San Salvador in October 1981.)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador--In 1937, a year after Juan Chong arrived in San Salvador from Hong Kong and opened the Canton China Bar and Restaurant, an American journalist dropped in for a drink.

"I think he was from New York," said Chong, shifting his 80-year-old frame in the ancient wicker chair behind the bar. "New York World. Yes, yes, that was it.'

Chong, his ancient brown eyes peering out from behind wire-rimmed bifocals perched on his nose, examined the reporter sitting across the bar from him.

"You American?" he asked. The reporter nodded.

"You know something?  You're the first American journalist to come in here since 1937. You work for New York World, too?"

"The Chicago Tribune," the reporter answered. "The New York World died a long time ago."

"You come to write about the war, right?" Chong asked. The reporter nodded again.
El Salvador

''There had been some trouble just before that other reporter showed up," Chong said, recharging his memory cells with a shot of vodka. "Some peasants up north had shot a couple of soldiers. There was talk of another rebellion like the Matanza." (The Matanza, or "slaughter," had occurred In 1931 and 1932, when some 32,000 men, women, and children were killed by government forces after an ill-fated uprising by the Trotskyite Indian named Farabundi Marti).

"We were all very excited about It, Chong said, igniting an ancient pipe."But this American journalist, he was not. He said Americans didn't care about little revolutions in little countries."

Then, eyeing the reporter before him, Chong said, "I guess Americans think differently now, eh?"
                  
Indeed they do. The little unimportant banana republic visited so long ago by the New York reporter is suddenly front and center in the eyes of American foreign policymakers.

Today, the whole world Is watching to see how the United States handles Itself in a 11-year-old  revolution pitting left wing guerrillas against the four-man, civilian-military  junta of  President Jose Napoleon Duarte that is backed by Washington.

And unlike 1937, when just one American reporter wandered into town to take a quick look around, San Salvador is a city overrun with journalists from all over the world.

Most stay at the 235-room Camino Real Hotel, which has evolved into a kind of unofficial media headquarters for anybody covering the hostilities here.

Besides a well-stocked  bar, where foreign correspondents tend to gather evenings in clusters to discuss (well, argue) solutions to El Salvador's problems, the Camino Real offers  a  government-run telex room for filing stories  and messages.

It is not just camaraderie and the dubious benefits of flock journalism that lure journalists to the Camino Real - It Is safety.

"This is the hotel for the International press," explained William, the head bellhop. "Neither the left nor the right would be so stupid as to attack this hotel. This is neutral territory."     
Government Troops On Patrol
    ·
Yet most journalists feel a little naked In El Salvador. Since the fighting began in 1980, five foreign correspondents and photographers have died - not to mention the two dozen or more El Salvadoran journalists who have been tortured or murdered. Conversations in the Camino Real bar tend to be sprinkled with bravado and twists of gallows humor as reporters attempt to put such things out of their minds the way they have always done in war.

Like in Viet Nam, for example, and Cambodia. Except that In the Camino Real bar, Viet Nam and Cambodia are taboo subjects. Most of those covering the war In El Salvador, it seems, did not work In Southeast Asia, and there is a perverse, albeit unnecessary, need on their part to convince Viet Nam era reporters that this war is more dangerous than their war.

There is indeed something much more ominous about this conflict, with its incessant decapitations, mass murders, and disappearances.

But it is impossible to apply a Bo Derek kind of scale to war. People get blown up. They lose arms and legs and feet and hands. They die. Who is to say El Salvador rates a 10 on the danger scale while Nicaragua and Angola and Cambodia are only 8s? Such comparisons are not only absurd, they are obscene. Suffice it to say that thus far El Salvador, with Its 20,000 dead, is still far from the 1.3 million soldiers and civilians killed In Viet Nam (including 105 journalists).  
Another Victim in El Salvador

But there does seem to be something about El Salvador's tragic conflict that makes you look over your shoulder a lot.   
                                             .
Perhaps it's that there are so many fanatic fringe elements in this New Jersey-sized nation of five million running around flaunting machine guns, machetes, and machismo.

Right-wing death squads armed with razor-sharp machetes and rifles roam the city streets looking for "subversives.

Left-wing guerrillas blow up somebody's house or place of business just about every night. And out on the streets, you learn to examine every car that passes you for the barrel of   a rifle or pistol pointed at your belly.

"I don't think El Salvador has ever been more unhealthy," said Chong, relighting his pipe. "People don't come in my place after 8 at night anymore because they are afraid somebody is going to throw a bomb through the door. People are scared.  I've never seen them so scared."

Outside the Canton China Bar and Restaurant, three government soldiers with semi -automatic rifles slung over their shoulders stood on the corner talking. Chong watched them for a moment.

"When I left China, it was during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria," he said. "The war was terrible. I wanted to find a peaceful place to live, so I came to Central America. What a mistake. Of course, I'm too damned old now to care. But sometimes when I see bodies in the streets with their heads chopped off, I think I should have stayed In China."

(POSTSCRIPT: More than 75,000 civilians died at the hands of government forces during the civil war in El Salvador (1980-1992). These 12 years of violence were punctuated by three well known atrocities: the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero that sparked the conflict, the rape and murder of three American Maryknoll Nuns and a lay missionary that caused international outrage and the 1989 Jesuits Massacre that finally compelled the international community to intervene.) 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

No Easy Answers for Sandy Hook Tragedy



The massacre of 26 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary school Friday has left us searching for answers. Why did it happen? How could it have been stopped? Is there a way to avoid such tragedies in the future?

Predictably, the first knee jerk reaction to such a heartbreaking event, was for more gun control--or, as some have suggested, the prohibition of all guns in the United States.

That, of course, would require the elimination of the Second Amendment which says, in part: 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'

Let's look at some facts about gun ownership in the United States.  According to the  General Social Survey (GSS), there are approximately 44 million gun owners in the United States. This means that 25 percent of all adults owned at least one firearm.

The National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms (NSPOF), conducted a few years ago, reported that Americans own 192 million guns, with 36% of these consisting of rifles, 34% handguns, 26% shotguns, and 4% of other types of long guns. In the United States, 11% of households report actively being involved in hunting, with the remaining firearm owners having guns for self-protection and other reasons.

Imagine trying to confiscate 192 million guns. It simply will not happen--nor should it. After all, gun owners are not criminals. And while criminals do use guns to commit crimes, criminologists have  found no correlation between overall firearm ownership and gun violence.

It is interesting to note that at the outset of World War II the Japanese scrapped plans to invade the West Coast of America because they knew there were some 80 million guns in the hands of American citizens. That was not the case in places like China, Southeast Asia and other countries occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army.

That aside, what can possibly explain the massacre of innocent children, teachers and others at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and other places such as Virginia Tech University in 2007 when 32 people were killed and 17 others wounded by a deranged student who was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder.

What caused Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old killer in the Sandy Hook shootings, to first shoot his mother in the face and then drive to the elementary school and slaughter defenseless children in their classrooms?

We may never know what demons infected Lanza's mind, though I am sure in the next several days and weeks armies of psychiatrists will offer up their opinions.

No matter what motives and reasons are put forth for such a horrific crime, there is little doubt that some will argue for changes to the Second Amendment and others will blame guns as the sole cause of such terrible violence.

This is simply wrong-headed. What about Hollywood's pandering to audiences with violent movies? What about gangster rap? Or the increasing violence in sports?  

And what about those graphically violent video games?

Scientists have long debated whether violent video games have an adverse effect on young people and recently the Supreme Court overturned a California ban on violent video games.

The court said that video games, even offensive ones, were protected by the First Amendment, and that there wasn't clear evidence that playing games such as Grand Theft Auto and Postal really harmed people.

However, research has shown that immediately after playing a violent video game, kids can have aggressive thoughts, angry feelings and physiological effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, studies that survey large populations of kids on their game-playing habits and measure aggressive personality traits or self-reported aggressive acts — physical fights, arguments with teachers — often find an association between games and aggression.

Other known factors more strongly linked to child aggression are a history of abuse, poverty, genetics and personality — and the risk climbs higher when several factors are present in combination.

For example, the continued destruction of the traditional family in which children are reared by two caring and responsible parents has been linked to children who are overly aggressive and angry.

In the case of Adam Lanza, for example, his parents divorced in 2008. Studies have shown that many children of divorced parents have difficulty adjusting and often blame themselves for the breakup. That in turn leads to feelings of hostility, bouts of depression and a sense of isolation.

Is that what set Adam Lanza off on his mission of murder and suicide? Once again, we may never know definitively.

But what we do know is that the Second Amendment was put in the Constitution to allow Americans to defend their lives and property from the aggression of individuals or government.

In the history of the world it has been governments, not individual gun owners, that have been the greatest origin of genocide and oppression. When governments want to control their populations, the first thing they do is eliminate the ability of individuals to defend or protect themselves.

People who want to scrap or dilute the Second Amendment should take a few moments to reflect on that.  








Friday, December 7, 2012

Old Journalism or Impartial Journalism?


There has been a lot of criticism leveled recently at journalists and the craft they practice--and in some cases, rightly so.

However, a lot of that criticism is coming from academia and professors who tell students that they need to go "beyond reporting the news"--code for what they think news organizations should not keep doing: traditional news stories with traditional structure and content.

They like to refer to that kind of journalism--the kind that I and thousands of my contemporaries practiced, as "old journalism"--as if somehow journalism today has shifted into a higher gear and the fundamentals we all learned are simply passé.

For example, they talk disparagingly about conventional newspaper journalism: "stories that package painstakingly gathered facts on current events -- what happened, who said what, when -- have lost much of their value. Journalists must "stop romanticizing the mere gathering and organization of facts." 

 New Journalism has advanced beyond the old Who, What, When, Where, Why and How era into this new realm that values subjective interpretation and analysis, they insist. Where I diverge from these critics is in the way that analysis and interpretation has been allowed to seep into what should be thoughtful, balanced reporting that allows the reader or viewer to form opinions without having them jammed down his or her throat. 

Recently one journalism professor at New York University wrote that "the extra value our quality news organizations can and must regularly add is analysis: thoughtful, incisive attempts to divine the significance of events — insights, not just information; wisdom, not just facts."  I have no argument with this.

But thoughtful and incisive aren't enough, he added. Insights must be speedy as well.

"Being fast with the analysis is as important today as being fast with the news has been for the last hundred years," he said. 

  In theory, that may sound plausible. But the problem is that fast and thoughtful seldom go together. Fast and wise is even more improbable. 

 I speak here as someone who has worked in both worlds--some 27 years with the Chicago Tribune, mostly as a foreign correspondent in Asia and Latin America (and as a national and metro editor) AND as a professor and Dean of the College of Media at the University of Illinois for 13 years. The classes I taught were heavy in fundamentals.

We talked about careful sourcing of stories, of fairness, of keeping biases out of what is produced. We talked about not rushing to judgment, of making sure that you got as many of the facts as you could and that no matter how complete a big story may seem to be on the first day, it will become more complete with time and more reporting.

Stories that are not carefully sourced or that are too subjective are highly unlikely to contribute wisdom, especially in the first hours of a big breaking news event. What they are far more likely to be is wrong or misleading. Rather than adding value for the reader, trying to write analytically before enough facts are in will usually result in the kind of shoddy, careless journalism that journalists are often criticized for producing today.

I am aware that those who taught in our Media Studies program focused more on the perception of news rather than the old-fashioned donkey work required to gather it with speed and accuracy. They came up with books that lambasted journalism and journalists for failing to generate national conversations about issues, when in fact, that is exactly what good, incisive reporting does. As someone once said: "A good newspaper is, I suppose, a nation talking to itself."

For folks who think in terms of semesters and six year tenure clocks the idea of being first with a story is a quaint image that belongs in an old movie like "Deadline USA" or "The Front Page." Most have never worked in a professional newsroom with its attendant pressures of deadlines, accuracy and skilled writing. Or if they have, it may have been for a year or two until they decided this kind of work was "not suited" to their more cerebral, languorous brains.

I bit my tongue more than once during my time in academia because, just as a soldier can never explain what it is like to be in combat to someone who has never experienced it, I found it impossible to impart to academics the rush and sense of satisfaction a reporter feels when he or she is first with a breaking or exclusive story.

It isn't just the fact that the reporter was first with the story, there is also the aftermath of the story--that it will possibly have a positive impact on people's lives, or that it will right some wrong, or that in some other way it will make a difference because the reporter was there to witness and report.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Big Reason Obama Won: The News Media


Something has happened to journalism in America. And it's sad.

Skillful, tough reporting has been replaced by reporters, editors and producers who are allowing their political biases and agendas to get in the way of what journalists once valued as a search for the truth.

The So-Called Big Five
Truth is no longer the goal. Instead the objective for reporters today is to provide uncritical enthusiastic support for the person, position, idea or social stance that best conforms to their worldview.

How things have changed from the time I entered the journalism profession in 1969 right out of college.

I made the leap from being the editor of my college newspaper (The University Daily Kansan at the University of Kansas) to covering the city of Chicago for the Chicago Tribune.

It was a not an easy leap! First, I was exposed to some of the best reporting in the United States. There were five competing newspaper in Chicago then and the competition was fierce. I learned very quickly just how little I knew about being a good reporter.

Second, what I wrote was passed through some of the toughest editors I have ever known. And it was that experience that allowed me to hone both by reporting and writing skills to the point that I was given the ultimate job as foreign correspondent.

But before I made that move, I spent five years covering Chicago, often working horrible hours and covering just about every kind of story. This was called "seasoning" and I am still grateful for that experience.

I learned quickly to keep any bias I might have out of what I reported and wrote. Any hint of opinion in one of my stories and I was called to the City Editor's desk where I was (how shall I say it?) Critiqued? Disparaged? How about verbally bludgeoned?

"Keep your opinions to yourself!" the late Don Agrella, my feisty old Day City Editor would say. "People don't give a shit what YOU think!"

Don must be screaming his head off when he looks down from heaven at the Tribune and other newspapers today.

Too many stories today are filled with opinion--or even worse--are made incomplete by the deliberate omission of facts or information that would create a fair and balanced report.

Even worse are the media's purposeful failure to cover stories that might be damaging to a position or a person that the reporter, editor or producer doesn't want to harm.

Look at the way the media have covered President Obama--or should I say, have refused to cover him when stories were deemed detrimental to him.

If you watched the debates you saw this for yourself in the second debate when Candy Crowley, CNN's chief political correspondent who was moderating the event, jumped in and corrected Mitt Romney when he challenged Obama on his failure to call the attack on the Benghazi consulate an act of terror--even though Obama was obviously lying.

 Look at this exchange from the second debate:

ROMNEY: I -- I think it's interesting the president just said something which -- which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
OBAMA: That's what I said.
ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?
OBAMA: Please proceed governor.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir. So let me -- let me--call it an act of terror...
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
CROWLEY: He -- he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
ROMNEY: This -- the administration -- the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.

But of course, the damage was already done. Crowley's action made it seem as if Romney didn't have his facts together, when in fact, he did.

According to the transcript of Obama's Rose Garden remarks Obama spoke only generically about how “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this nation.” Not once did he directly refer to the violence in Benghazi as a "terrorist attack."

Next, let's look at Hurricane Sandy. Obama makes a one day trip to a few places, including New Jersey and FEMA and other federal agencies begin patting themselves on their backs praising the great job they are doing to help victims of the storm.

In fact, millions of people are still without power, food, medical help and other forms of assistance and are wondering where FEMA is.

Now rewind back to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and recall, if you will, the way President Bush was excoriated for not doing more to help those victims.

Yet here we are with a storm that has left millions more Americans homeless and without shelter than Katrina and the media has said nary a discouraging word about our recently re-elected Golfer-in-Chief and how his administration has obviously dropped the ball.

If this were a Republican president I can guarantee that the media would be hammering him (or her) relentlessly on their callous disregard for the suffering millions along the East Coast. But not Obama. He gets a pass.

Then there is the most relevant issue of all--the horrible U.S. economy. The media seldom said anything about it during the campaign nor did it hold Obama's feet to the fire they way it did with President Bush.

According to a study by the Media Research Center's Business and Media Institute in 2004 the economy under George W. Bush was far better than it is today — higher growth, lower unemployment, smaller deficits and cheaper gasoline — yet network coverage that year was twice as hostile to Bush than it was towards Obama this year.
The Media Have Put a Halo Around Obama

How many stories have you seen about $4 and $5 per gallon gasoline in the past six months? Now think back to 2004 and 2005--the last time gas prices were this high. Stories were rampant about the high price of gasoline and guess what? The media blamed President Bush!

Today, we have 7.9 percent unemployment, 23 million Americans without jobs and a president who has increased our national debt to $16 trillion and is likely to push it to $20 trillion before he is finished.
Of course when you have a president like the one half of this country just re-elected and who the media apparently think is able to walk on water and turn it into wine, news organizations are strangely silent.

They refuse to report critically about the economy, about a president who spent more time the past six months on the campaign trail and on golf courses than he did in the oval office, about the deaths of four Americans in Libya and the dismal failure of FEMA and other federal organizations to help Hurricane Sandy victims.

No, this is definitely not the kind of hard-hitting, watch dog journalism that I cut my teeth on in Chicago.

This is nothing more than classic public relations with a media working on behalf of a president that now has four more years to destroy traditional American values, undermine capitalism, weaken our military and eviscerate the nation's position as the world's only democratic superpower.

Where are the Don Agrella's of the world when we need them more than ever?



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who Won and Who Lost in the 2012 Election?


 The Presidential election of 2012 was less of a contest between Republicans and Democrats than it was a battle between those who want the government to give them "stuff" and those who feel, as JFK once said in 1960: "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Democrats who elected President Kennedy in 1960 were not the same as those who elected Obama in 2008 and reelected him Tuesday. Those Democrats still believed in the bedrock values of hard work, self-reliance and the traditional family that made America the economic and political beacon of the world.

Today, with Obama's reelection, I fear the nation is moving further down the slippery slope to bigger government, greater dependency and quite possibly European style of socialism.

For example, today, more people than ever before depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance once considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families, neighborhoods, churches, and other civil society institutions.  

Let's look at some facts.

·       For the first time in our history 50 percent of Americans pay no income taxes--meaning that those who are productive contributors to the economy are supporting those who are not.

·       The number of Americans on welfare has increased from 97 million to 107 million since President Obama took office, according to research by the Senate Budget Committee.

·       Some 47 million Americans already are on food stamps.

·       Almost 71 percent of all federal spending goes to dependency creating programs.

·       The American public's dependence on the federal government shot up 23% in just two years under President Obama, with 67 million now relying on some federal program, according to a newly released study by the Heritage Foundation.

·       Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that 49% of the population lives in a household where at least one person gets some type of government benefit.

What Obama has done and what he will continue to do is expand the culture of dependency that the Democrat Party thrives on. Poverty is a trap. It causes long-term welfare recipients to lose job skills and work habits and ultimately they wind up failing to participate in a marketplace that can lead to new and better jobs.

What we saw in this presidential election was a mandate for Obama to continue the tax and spend policies that place a greater economic burden on productive members of society so Democrats can continue to win votes from those who feel they are entitled to more and more government handouts.

Our national debt is already at $16 trillion but watch out. You ain't seen nothin' yet. Under another four years of Obama it will likely grow to more than $20 trillion and as it does, the dollar will become a joke in global currency markets. To some extent it already is.

Under Obamacare, Medicaid is set to explode as well. Within just one generation, total federal spending could reach nearly 36% of GDP, and the Congressional Budget Office says debt held by the public could reach nearly 200% of GDP.

These are facts that those who voted for Obama ignored or were too uninformed to understand.
I grew discouraged listening to people in exit polls explain why they voted for Obama.

"I think he is good looking," said one 20-something woman..."and he cares about my right to have birth control and for the government to provide it."

Wait a minute. Since when is it a "right" for birth control and for the government to provide it? If it's in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, I must have missed it.

At one polling place Obama voters were asked what party currently controls Congress. The answer from several dozen people asked: "Republicans." Uh huh.

Others were asked to identify Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. They couldn't.

One woman said this: "Obama did lots of great things besides killing Osama bin Laden! I just don't want to talk about any of those things right now, for no particular reason."

Thank God! It's depressing enough to learn that these are the people who helped re-elect one of the weakest presidents in our history without having to listen to them attempt to speak coherently about why they did it.

But hey, these are the "winners" in this election...and the rest of us get to continue to pay the bills.




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Who Won The Final Debate?



The last of the three presidential debates has come and gone and the spin meisters are going full speed trying to convince voters that their candidate won.

Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn who won last night's debate. Most pundits have called it a draw. I would give the edge to Mitt Romney on substance and style. He was certainly more "presidential" than a grinning, condescending, boorish President Obama.

Of Course, there are still two more weeks of furious campaigning ahead and the attack dogs will be off their leashes and barking as vociferously as ever.

So what is one to make of the 2012 presidential race?

I can't recall a more negative campaign in my lifetime. The most disconcerting thing to me is the insertion of characteristically malicious Chicago political tactics into the race for our nation's highest office.

In Chicago, where I spent a majority of my professional journalism career, the norm in political battles is to launch personal attacks and to demonize your opponent at every opportunity.

Tune in to the Starz TV show "Boss" and you will see what I mean.
Kelsey Grammer as Chicago's "Boss"

The political goon squad in the White House is a throwback to the original Mayor Daley--the one who pushed JFK over the top in 1960 and who periodically raised the dead so they could vote.

Mayor Daley knew how to win elections. Buy votes by giving people free "stuff" and make your opponent appear to be some kind of reprobate.

The gang of political operatives who surround Obama are following the same strategy.

To the credit of the majority of Americans, however, it is not working. Most Americans do not live in Chicago or Cook County and most do not like the dirty, in-your-face kind of politics that got a succession of Chicago mayors elected.

You can argue who won last night's debate, who delivered the most zingers, etc. But you cannot argue with Mitt Romney's steady climb in the collective presidential campaign polls.

I think Americans are finally seeing past the veneer of Obama's "messiah complex" and finding that this man, who was less prepared for the job than any other president in our history, is simply in over his head.

Not only does he not understand how the U.S. economy works, he is fundamentally opposed to capitalism--though you will never get him to admit it publicly.

His denials during last night's debate to the contrary, Obama DID go on an apology tour in 2009 after his election. As N. Y. Yankee's manager Casey Stengel used to say: "You can look it up." Fact checkers have already run clips of Obama apologizing in Egypt, France, and Latin America.

Specifically, in Strasbourg, France Obama said: "there have been times where America has shown arrogance and has been dismissive, even derisive."

 During a speech in Egypt Obama talked about: "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect." Then, citing the "fear and anger" after 9/11, Obama said that in some cases, "it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals."

And of course, who can forget the awful display of cow towing when an obsequious Obama bowed before the Saudi king. I thought he was going to kiss the king's ring.  
Obama bowing to Saudi King

But more troubling is the fact that this is a president who believes the federal government has all the solutions to our fiscal woes, when in fact, the federal government is more often the cause of our economic problems.

Remember what Ronald Reagan once said: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

 Thank you President Obama. You have "helped" our nation enough. Go play another round of golf. Show us how cool you are and have another dance with Ellen DeGeneres. Visit the cackling magpies on "The View."

Or better yet. Start packing. It's time to put the adults back in the White House.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Smirkin' Joe Biden Can't KO Paul Ryan



I think the following Biblical quote sums up Joe Biden's bizarre behavior in last night's debate with Republican V.P. nominee Paul Ryan very well:

"If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet." --Proverbs 29:9.

Naturally, Democrats have rallied around Joe "the gaffer" following last evening's debate, saying that was just Joe being Joe.

I thought he was the vice-president and as such he owed a national TV audience a modicum of vice-presidential behavior--that is, being respectful rather than disdainful of your debate opponent.
Smirkin' Joe Biden in Action

And where was the alleged moderator in all of this? ABC's Martha Raddatz was strangely quiet as Biden smirked, lifted his eyes to the ceiling and shot mocking stares at Ryan.

In fact, Raddatz followed the Biden lead– interrupting the debaters 50 times. She jumped often and  heavily on Ryan, interrupting him 31 times, 12 more than the 19 times she cut off Biden. She also took a liberal tone on abortion and let Biden control the tone of  the debate by never cutting him off when he stepped all over Ryan during his remarks.

 Even CNN’s left-leaning anchor Anderson Cooper said after the debate that Biden managed to “continually inject himself” into Ryan’s comments--an understatement if ever I heard one.

Ryan suggested that Biden's behavior signaled desperation.

"Mr. Vice President, I know you are under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground," Ryan said.

Biden immediately uncorked his biggest throaty laugh of the night.

"... But I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other," Ryan said.
 In my opinion, Ryan was not forceful enough in going after Biden.

At those points when Biden burst out laughing at Ryan's remarks on such issues as Iran working toward building a nuclear weapon or how the administration was AWOL when the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Ryan should have stopped talking and said: "Joe, I am not sure why are these issues are so funny to you, but I can guarantee you they are not funny to the American people."
Smirkin' Joe Biden Guffaws Again

This is the kind of verbal counter-punching that was missing from Ryan's performance. It was patently obvious that Biden's mission was to keep Ryan off balance the entire night with his annoying eye rolling, condescending, smug attitude.

That Ryan managed to stay on his feet and weather what has to be the most disrespectful and rude conduct of a sitting vice-president in American history says something about his character.

He would not be pulled into below the belt verbal punch fest that Biden was hoping to create.

Instead, he remained on point and despite the constant badgering by both Biden and his willing sidekick Raddatz, he answered questions as best he could.

There are those who say style is not as important as substance. In a national debate for the nation's highest office, I beg to differ. Substance should take precedence. That's a given. But style should not be ignored. It says something about a person's character.

In 1988 Biden, then a presidential candidate, admitted plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, leader of the British Labor Party. It was also reported that he also plagiarized a law paper at the Syracuse University School of Law in 1965 for which he received an "F."

These revelations were reported by no less a left-leaning authority than the New York Times and as a result Biden was forced to resign from the presidential race that year. The Times and other papers said in numerous stories that Biden lacked the mental and verbal discipline to be President.

After last night, it appears he lacks the same qualities needed to be Vice-President.








Friday, October 5, 2012

EUROPE AND THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


I have just returned from a three week sojourn to Europe--specifically, Paris, Munich and Venice--and points in between aboard various trains.

A couple of things I noticed. Many Europeans are terrified that Barack Obama will be defeated in the upcoming election. This in spite of the fact that Chicago's political mafia is running the Democratic party and the Democrats NEVER or rarely lose elections in Chicago and Cook County.

After watching a plethora of German talk shows and reading a few German newspapers it was interesting to note that while many Europeans now realize Obama is NOT the political embodiment of the Second Coming, that he is in fact (horrors) a mere mortal, and that he and his socialist policies have made things worse in the U.S. and not better, they still believe it would be some kind of celestial blasphemy if he is not re-elected.

As one person on a talk show put it: "He is so intelligent and truthful."

This was, of course, before this week's debate with challenger Mitt Romney. I wonder what she thinks now after the big can of whoop ass Romney opened on an obviously ill-prepared Obama. Without his teleprompter, Obama was exposed as a shallow and ineffective speaker.

As the Bumbler-in-Chief scrambled for answers and to make his case to the American people during the debate I am sure he was wishing he could be on yet another golf course somewhere.

Obama is a very good golfer--having had plenty of practice to improve his golf game during his tenure in the White House. So far Obama as played 105 rounds of golf during his 3.5 years in office--more than anybody since President Eisenhower, who played about 200 rounds in his 8 years in office between 1952 and 1960.

According to Keith Koffler, a reporter for the White House Dossier: “Obama’s golfing takes about five hours, including the motorcades back and forth from the fairways. If one thinks of this as taking up much of the day – include getting ready to go and cooling off afterward – it's fair to say that Obama has spent more than three months of his presidency golfing.”

He might have added that he has spent another six months campaigning for re-election and three months on vacation. That means for almost a year the nation has had a president who has done everything but work at the job he was elected to do. I won't even go into the tax-payer dollars spent by Michelle Obama on her 16 vacations to places like Spain, South Africa, Aspen and Hawaii.
Michelle and Friends in Spain 2010

And believe me, these were not taken sitting in coach in the back of the plane or on a Greyhound Bus.

Of course, Michelle is not running for re-election. But it seems rather insensitive to be taking lavish vacations at a time when some 23 million American are out of work and millions more have lost their homes, businesses and savings.

But, hey, that's OK. After all, it is Barack Obama and he can do no wrong. Certainly not in Europe.

It is amazing how naive some Europeans are about the United States. Of course, the all act as if they know everything there is to know about this country--from its politics to its economy to its social issues.

It is difficult to blame them when you read European newspapers or watch news and talk shows.
For example, after this week's debate, a few European newspapers reported that Obama actually did well in his face off with Romney.

What debate were they watching--maybe it was a re-run of the Nixon-Kennedy debate of 1960.

Of course, maybe they were affected by Denver's mile-high altitude--an explanation that former Vice President Al Gore offered in Obama's defense.

The fact is this. Most, if not all, of the European nations that make up the European Union are left-leaning and are pushing hard for an Obama victory in November. In nations where the quality of life is measured by how many cradle-to grave entitlements you can extract from government, a U.S. that has a closet socialist in the White House is one Europeans can readily identify with.

Romney and Ryan scare the hell out of Europeans. They are, after all, in favor of reducing government's size and checking its intrusion into our lives and businesses. This is a philosophy that few Europeans understand or will ever embrace.

Just look at the rioting in Greece, Spain and Italy when governments attempt to get spending under control by curbing unsustainable pensions that begin at 55 and can amount to some 80 percent of one's annual salary.

When you make the majority of the populace dependent on government entitlements and handouts you wind up with Greece, Spain and Italy.

Now look at what's happened in the U.S. since 2008l. When Obama moved into the White House the number of Americans getting food stamps was 31 million. In 2000 there were just 17 million Americans on food stamps.

Today, some 47 million Americans are on food stamps--otherwise known as the newly named "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program" or SNAP. That means some 23 million American household are using food stamps--fully 15 percent of the U.S. population.

And that's not the whole story. Today, there are more Americans dependent on the federal government than ever before in U.S. history.

According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation conducted by the U.S. Census, well over 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  Many are enrolled in more than one.  

That is about a third of the entire population of the country.  That figure does not include Social Security or Medicare.  Today the federal government runs almost 80 different “means-tested welfare programs,” and almost all of those programs have experienced substantial growth in recent years. 

I agree that we will always need a safety net for those that cannot take care of themselves, but it is utterly ridiculous that the federal government is financially supporting one-third of all Americans.  How much farther do things really need to go before we finally admit that we have become a socialist nation like our European neighbors? 

At the current rate of government-sponsored dependency, it will not be very long before half the nation is on welfare.  However, we likely will never get to that point because the colossal and unsustainable debt that we are currently running up will no doubt  destroy our financial system before that ever happens.

I can hear the shovels in China already digging our grave.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Reflections on the GOP Convention


OK, Mitt Romney isn't Ronald Reagan--at least not when it comes to speaking. But who is? Nevertheless, I thought Romney gave a good account of himself Thursday night in laying out his vision for America.

So did his running mate Paul Ryan. And so did Sen. Marco Rubio, and Gov. Susana Martinez, and former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice and former Democrat congressman-turned Republican Artur Davis.

Each of these folks and many others gave good accounts of themselves while standing at the podium.
Even 82-year-old Clint Eastwood--without using a teleprompter--resonated with the crowd. His delivery may not have been on par with his Dirty Harry roles, but he made the audience's day with his comments on the failed policies of the Obama administration.

Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney
Perhaps the defining moment in Romney's speech came when he said: "This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault..… But this president cannot tell us that you’re better off today than when he took office." The "excitement" of Obama’s election has subsided, Romney said, replaced by doubt and uncertainty about the economy and the federal budget.

"If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, you should feel that way now that he’s President Obama,' Romney said. "You know, there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you’ve had was the day you voted for him."

"President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet," Romney continued. "My promise is to help you and your family."

The Obama White House, meanwhile, derided Romney's speech and the GOP convention in general as "angry and short on solutions."

You bet there was anger at the GOP convention. When you have some 23 million Americans out of work and a president who has played something like 125 rounds of golf you have to wonder who is more out of touch with this country.

Sen. Mitch McConnell said it best: "For four years, Barack Obama has been running from the nation's problems. He hasn't been working to earn reelection. He's been working to earn a spot on the PGA tour."

I don't think anybody expected Romney or Ryan to lay out a detailed strategy for dealing with the mammoth debt and other economic woes the U.S. faces during the convention. That is something that will be disclosed during the final two months of the campaign.  

There is little doubt that Democrats were surprised by the "bring it on" attitude of Paul Ryan when it comes to debating Medicare--often considered the third rail for Republicans when it comes to social issues.

The idea that Ryan wants to jettison the elderly over the cliff my slashing or ending Medicare is ludicrous. Voters--especially those already retired or about to retire--should be more concerned about the $716 billion Obama swiped from Medicare to fund Obamacare.
Joe Biden: Gaffe-Mesiter

I am eagerly awaiting the debate on Medicare that Ryan will have with Joe Biden down the road. Biden, America's #1 "gaffe-meister," will find Ryan a formidable opponent.  And Biden will lose.

Romney vs. Obama will be a lot more competitive. I don't see this as a repeat of the Reagan-Jimmy Carter debate which Reagan won handily with his "there you go again" comment.

Obama can talk. That's about all he does. Romney is a doer, not a talker. We will see contrasting styles in these debates. But one thing Romney has going for him is his laid back style.

Obama: "Callow, thin-skinned, arrogant"
Obama, on the other hand, according to Ed Klein's New York Times best seller "The Amateur," is "a callow, thin-skinned, arrogant president with messianic dreams of grandeur supported by a cast of true-believers, all of them united by leftist politics and an amateurish understanding of executive leadership."

What Romney will have do in the debates is expose what Rep Allen West (R-FL) says Obama is doing.

"Obama is basically feeding America a crap sandwich with a smile...and it’s very important for us to win the image war in the presidential race," West said. "Because a crap sandwich with a smile is still a crap sandwich!"

Will someone please pass the ketchup!

 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some Early Observations About the GOP Convention.

Ann Romney

Ann Romney. What a partner she is for Mitt. Her speech Tuesday night was absolutely on target. Did you notice, she didn't mention Obama once? Didn't need to. Her job was to talk about Mitt, her husband and father of her five boys. She did that perfectly. Did you also notice that she didn't dwell on her own problems--the fact that she is battling multiple sclerosis and breast cancer? So how will the Democrats respond? Even though Obama says family members should be off limits, his attack dogs have consistently attempted to paint Ann Romney as a rich woman out of touch with Middle America. The fact is she IS Middle America. Her father was an immigrant from Wales who came to this country with nothing and rose to be mayor of his town. She did not grow up wealthy. And neither did Mitt Romney. As Ann Romney pointed out in her talk they struggled financially early on while Mitt attended both business and law school at the same time. Obama, on the other hand, got free rides and has plenty of time to indulge in recreational drugs, speak at anti-American, communist-backed protest rallies and generally goof off--which is why he has spent a lot of money to keep his college records secret.  
Chris Christie. Was this the rousing "Obama and the Democrats can go to hell' speech a lot of the delegates were expecting? No it wasn't. In weaving a lot of his personal life into his talk, Gov Christie did not follow the script many Democrats were predicting he would. His direct attack on Obama was minimal. Instead of the brash, no-holds-barred verbal punch-fest, Christie spent most of the time talking about being a Republican governor in a state controlled predominately by Democrats. One area where he fell a bit short, I thought, was his rather feeble attempt to sell Romney. His first mention of the Republican presidential nominee didn't come until some 15 minutes into his speech. Instead, he spent a lot of time talking about the direction the Republican party should be taking in the future. It was almost as if he were setting himself up to run in 2016. Maybe he was.
LIBERAL MEDIA COVERAGE. In a word, the left-leaning mainstream media has done a mendacious job of covering the GOP convention.  One of the left's favorite attacks on the Republican Party is that it is the party of old white people, devoid of diversity and most likely racist. I hope you weren't watching MSNBC’s coverage of the Republican National Convention Tuesday night. If you were you might be inclined to believe those assertions, because missing from the coverage was nearly every ethnic minority that spoke during Tuesday’s festivities. But in case you were watching MSNBC and missed some of the best speeches here are what a few of these diverse Republicans had to say.
Mia Love
MIA LOVE. Who is Mia Love? She is a 36-year-old black Mormon congressional candidate, exploded onto the national stage with her speech at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night. Because nobody really knew who Mia Love was her name topped all others in Google searches Wednesday. Love is running against incumbent Rep. Jim Matheson (D) in Utah’s newly formed 4th district and if she wins in November, she will become the first black Republican woman elected to Congress. Tuesday evening she talked about how her parents came to the United States from Haiti with "$10 in their pockets and a hope that the America they heard about really did exist." She said Obama was a president who didn't value entrepreneurship and added: "Mr. President, I'm here to tell you that the American people are awake, and we aren't buying what you're selling in 2012." She described Obama's vision for the country as a "divided one" that is "pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender and social status." 
Artur Davis
ARTUR DAVIS. Here is how petty the My Socialist NBC network (otherwise known as MSNBC) is. It declined to cover the rousing speech by former Alabama Democrat Rep. Artur Davis, who delivered one of the nominating speeches for Barak Obama at the 2008 Democrat convention. In 2010, Davis had seen enough and switched parties. "The Democrats' ads convince me that Gov. Romney can't sing, but his record convinces me he knows how to lead, and I think you know which skill we need more," Davis told the audience Tuesday night. He accused Obama of bamboozling voters four years ago with "flowery words" and charged that the incumbent has lost the "halo" his supporters thought he had in 2008. "America is a land of second chances, and I gather in this close race you have room for the estimated 6 million of us who know we got it wrong in 2008 and who want to fix it," Davis told the delegates.
Nikki Haley
NIKKI HALEY. The Republican Governor of South Carolina and the daughter of Indian immigrants delivered a blistering speech condemning Obama. "Don't tell me that my parents didn't build their business," Haley said, referring to Obama's "you didn't build that" remark a several weeks ago. "My parents started a business out of the living room of our home and, 30-plus years later, it was a multimillion dollar company," she said. "But there wasn't a single day that was easy and there wasn't a single day my Mom and Dad didn't put everything they had into making that business a success. So, President Obama, with all due respect, don't tell me that my parents didn't build their business." Haley then accused the Obama administration of launching an all-out assault on her state. "The hardest part of my job continues to be this federal government, this administration and this president," Haley said, going on to say that "Obama will do everything he can to stand in your way," even if you play by the rules."
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS. Beyond the weird clothing and hats that seems to have become de rigueur at American political conventions in the past few decades, I agree with House Speaker John Boehner: these things should be shorter. “I’m not sure that having a four-day convention, for the future, makes a lot of sense,” Boehner said at a luncheon hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. He also suggested that the party platform should be cut down to one page. “Anybody read the party platform?” he asked. "I’ve never met anybody who has."
AMEN



Monday, August 6, 2012

Did He or Didn't He? Here's an Idea: Ask the IRS!


Forgive me if this sounds a bit simplistic, but with "Dirty" Harry Reid charging that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a tax cheat couldn't this be resolved if someone were to ask the IRS if it is preparing a tax evasion case against the former Massachusetts governor?

I mean if Romney hasn't paid any income taxes for the past 10 years, as Dirty Harry suggests, wouldn't that qualify for some prison time? Isn't that the way the Feds got Al Capone in Chicago?

But wait, didn't Tim Geithner fail to pay taxes also? But, of course, he is a Democrat and Obama minion, so I guess that's OK. Right Harry?

During several years, Treasury secretary nominee Timothy F. Geithner failed to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes totaling some $26,000, even though he was advised by his employer, the International Monetary Fund, to do so. Instead he signed an agreement indicating that he understood that such payments were his responsibility and received extra pay from his employer specifically for that purpose.

Mr. Geithner "came clean" only when he was caught, first by an IRS audit that found he owed Social Security taxes for 2003 and 2004 and then when additional tax liabilities for 2001 and 2002 were discovered after his nomination as Treasury Secretary.

So, if Mitt Romney has, like Geithner, failed to pay taxes, why wouldn't an IRS audit indicate that?

The answer is quite likely that the IRS has never done such an audit and that Romney has indeed paid his taxes for the past 10 years.

Of course, this doesn't stop the Chicago political mafia led by David Axelrod and the Chick-fil-A  hating Mayor Rahm Emanuel from slinging slime at Romney.

Hey, that's Chicago politics. It's the way the game is played in the Windy City and its where our feckless leader in the White House learned the rules.

Don't think the filthy tactics are finished with the Dirty Harry rant in the Senate, either. The Obama/Axelrod mafia has just begun its descent into the dung heap that is Chicago politics.

As a general assignment reporter for the Chicago Tribune in the 1970s I witnessed my share of the corruption that has long been a trademark of Chicago's Democratic machine.

A recent report by the Political Science Department of the University of Illinois revealed that Chicago is Number 1 in public corruption while the State of Illinois is ranked Number 3 so far as corrupt states go.  The report said that since 1976 - federal prosecutors rung up a total of 1,531 public corruption convictions in the Northern District of Illinois. The 1,828 total convictions for Illinois lagged only behind California and New York.

Since the 1970s, four of Illinois’ seven governors have been convicted (Otto Kerner, Dan Walker, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich) of corruption. In addition, dozens of Chicago alderman and other city and county public officials have been found guilty.

Corruption is intertwined with Chicago city politics, the report said, adding that about a third of sitting alderman since 1973 have been corrupt and the city has averaged 51 public corruption convictions each year since 1976.

With this kind of pedigree is anybody surprised then that the Obama campaign is pulling out all the stops to smear Gov. Romney and anybody who supports him?

Is it any wonder that the Obama campaign is dead set against any kind of voter identification law? After all, while Chicago may not be the home of AMCTV's the "Walking Dead" it has always been the home of the "Voting Dead."

Bringing the dead from their graves to support Chicago's Democratic Machine would be more difficult if they had to show voter IDs. And of course, the same can be said for the millions of illegal aliens who show up at the polls to vote for the Democrat party candidates--not to mention those who vote multiple times.

What we are seeing in the Obama administration is the Chicago-ization of national politics.

Dirty Harry Reid's despicable performance in the Senate last week reminded me of watching a Chicago City Council meeting in full swing--you don't want to wear clean clothing in that noble chamber when the mud-slinging starts.

When Barack Obama was elected President he promised there would be no "politics as usual." He was right. Instead we are getting politics at its worst--a huge dose of political corruption, chicanery and thievery courtesy of Chicago's Democratic crime family of which Obama is an offspring.   



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Newsroom, Episode 3: I Give Up

OK, I have watched three episodes of HBO's series "The Newsroom." Enough is enough.

What I was hoping would be a breakout, first class TV series about journalism, how it is done and why it is important to our country has nose-dived from that lofty perch into the abyss of partisan political diatribe.

Three episodes ago the show began with what I thought was promise. Sure, there were gaffes (correspondents being embedded in Vietnam which didn't happen; nobody on the staff actually doing any reporting; and lots of soapy chatter about who is sleeping with whom, etc), but I could forgive some of those.

In last Sunday's episode any thought that this show would portray reporters and producers actually doing their jobs without inserting their own political biases into every event, interview or broadcast was snuffed out.

Jane Fonda as Media Mogul Leona Lansing
Instead, we get a dose of fictional Atlantis Cable Network (ACN) anchor Will McAvoy (initially the token conservative in The Newsroom) ranting and raging at the Tea Party and others who disagree with the Obama administration as though he were the White House Press Secretary. My advice to Obama: Fire Jay Carney and hire Will McAvoy.

Apparently, McAvoy's avowed super-liberal executive producer (MacKenzie McHale) has managed in just three episodes to exorcise McAvoy's imprudent conservative demons and convert him into a more agreeable (but no less ill-informed) version of MSNBC's über-liberal ersatz journalist Chris Matthews.

Like Matthews, McAvoy bellows at the camera and insults those with whom he disagrees.

So THAT is who the McAvoy character is modeled after. I was hoping it might be somebody who has the integrity to keep his/her opinions under wraps while actually reporting the news. But sadly, that is not to be the case in The Newsroom.

With a newsroom full of producers, writers and others who view the world through a defective prism that can only reveal the left side of any issue, any hope that this series would provide viewers with a glimpse of how real journalists work has vanished.

Just about everybody on the show violates the Code of Ethics produced by the Society of Professional Journalists and that at least some of us try to adhere to. Indeed, that code might as well be toilet paper in The Newsroom's lavatories.

The Preamble to the SPJ's code states:

"Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice."

I won't duplicate the entire code here but there are at least three areas where The Newsroom is in obvious violation:

·       "Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible."
·       "Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context."
·       "Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant."

Ostensibly, News Night 2.0 (the new name of the show), is a return to good old-fashioned news. Give them what they need, not what they want--even if it hurts.

Yet Will McAvoy, in laying out the format of for his viewers, says: “My party’s being hijacked....something that began as a “middle-class movement responding to bad trends” was “co-opted by the radical right.” Because he is a confessed Republican (holy crap!), Will apparently believes he is the perfect person to take the tea party to task. So now the Tea Party is the target. 

Enter Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing, the woman who owns Atlantis World Media which includes Atlantis Cable News. And here Fonda is REALLY acting--playing the role of a cold-hearted conservative cable network owner. Now THAT does strain credibility.

Charlie (the Sam Waterston character who is the boss of ACN's news show) stresses the urgency of criticizing Tea Party congressmen, and makes a comparison between Senator Joseph McCarthy and Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann.

Leona dismisses that as baseless: rabid anti-Communist McCarthy, she says,  was "obviously bad" whereas Tea Party supporter Bachmann is nothing but "a bad hairdo" and not anyone to worry about.

Perhaps the most cringe-inducing comment made during episode three, as far as journalists are concerned, comes from Charlie who, in response to the perceived imbalance of News Night 2.0's presentation of the news says: “balance is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the truth, logic or reality.”

OK, I've got it. ACN is now the fictional twin of MSNBC. And Will McAvoy is evolving into Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann all rolled into one persona.

My advice: Don't stay tuned.