Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fair and Balanced -- I Kid You Not

That Fox News calls itself "fair and balanced" is amusing and frightening at the same time. They can't really believe it, because they champion "conservative" causes 24/7. There's about a 10 to 1 ratio of opinion to news on the network. From Sean Hannity, to Bill O'Reilly, to.............Glen Beck who organized, promoted, cheerleaded, and "reported" the 9/12 rally (he's the one who said: “I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9/11 victims... And when I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up!' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining.” He's the guy who called President Obama a "racist" and got suspended for a week. Like Jack Paar used to say - I kid you not. Fox News says, "We report. You decide." Fox News exaggerated the turn out for the rally by about 2000% I kid you not.

If they just said we are the right-wingest of the news, at least that'd be accurate reporting. They can't really believe "fair and balanced"; so the only conclusion left is that is that they choose to misrepresent themselves to the public -- lie? A friend of my brother's told him she watched Fox news because they were the only network that wasn't biased. The only network that isn't biased? --- I kid you not. Fox Newsers wear their right-wing "bias" like a medal.

I told a distant cousin of mine that the new Republican strategy of being rude, disrespectful, ignorant, and misinformed would probably work in derailing any meaningful health insurance reform. Modern politics is to misrepresent the opposition point of view and then respond with anger and vitriol to the phony misrepresentation. The Big Lie is working.

Here's are a couple of examples of the efforts to find a compromise health insurance bill that one or two Republicans might support: in one compromise version, illegal immigrants will be barred from being able to purchase health insurance even if they have the money to buy it. Joe Wilson's misinformed, rude, disrespectful, ignorant "You lie" shout at President Obama led to this "compromise." The fact is that if an illegal alien shows up at an emergency ward with an injury with no insurance, he gets treated and we foot the bill now. That won't change. And another compromise is that homeless street people will be "forced" to buy medical insurance or pay big fines. That's the direction the health insurance debate is going.

I usually try to find the humor in all of this, but it's getting harder to do. Maybe it's because it's Thursday and I'm wearing down. But all this "Obama is a Nazi/Communist/illegal alien socialist Marxist, the anti-christ, Bury Obamacare with Kennedy, nastiness" is discouraging. It's gotten so crazy that even Rush Limbaugh and other right wing radio nuts have been knocked off the news for a few days. I kid you not.

I watched Jimmy Carter's remarks about what he perceived as an underlying "racist" factor in the most intense vitriol out there. And I watched the dozens of talking heads on TV supporting or lambasting him for his remarks. My opinion is that he's probably pretty tuned into the issue. And I remember seeing a news report about a campaign worker canvassing a white working class neighborhood in Pennsylvania I think. The canvasser asked who they would be voting for for President. The response, "I'll be voting for the n*****." I kid you not. It doesn't take much of a scratch to expose residual racism under the surface of American life.

Thank God for Fridays and Nebraska football. Go Big Red. I kid you not.

Bud C

pic attached is "Nebraska - The Good Life"

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Too Much Time on my Hands

I definitely have too much time on my hands this morning. All my students’ papers are graded for the moment – til the next batch is collected, anyway. I just finished a commissioned painting for a customer and don’t have an idea for the next one. I’m not golfing today because I have class tonight and don’t want to wear myself out too much, not to mention that I don't have that extra $20 bill in my wallet.

So I was sitting in my easy chair watching the History Channel show– The Next Nostradomas. Some guy has developed a mathematical formula for predicting world ending catastrophe. You know, the heretofore unknown asteroid or comet crashing into the planet and destroying all life as we know it. Or a gamma ray burst from distant exploding star deep fat frying everything on the surface of our planet. Or Yellowstone National Park’s supervolcano erupting and wiping out the entire Midwest and changing the world’s climate for thousands of years. Or the New Madrid Fault cracking again reversing the flow of rivers and disrupting our lives for decades. Or terrorists with some new fangled biological weapon of mass destruction doing a trial run on Omaha. Or some new super flu virus pandemic (I have to come up with a contingency plan by tomorrow for my Creighton classes in case the campus is closed due to the H1N1 flu virus). Or for some mysterious reason the giant black hole at the center of our galaxy goes bonkers and we all get “spaghettified” while being sucked to the center of the galaxy. Or global warming throws our planet into an overnight ice age with mile high ice sheets blanketing our continent and minus 9,000 degree wind chills. Or when they flip the on-switch on the Large Hadron Collector in Sweden or Switzerland or where ever the heck that is, they create a black hole which sucks our entire planet into a vacuum cleaner the size of a pin-head. Or, the most likely scenario, a time-traveler from the distant future returns to his past/our present and initiates some action that negates our very existence in an alternate universe time-line. Not that I worry about this stuff, of course………

But here’s the thing: the Mayan Calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012. The Mayans had a 52 year recurring cycle to their calendar according to my reading which I speculate might have related to a healthy Mayan’s life span, so I’m already living on borrowed time at 58 going on 59 later this year (which I will return to in a moment). And the Mayans for some undiscovered reason ended their calendar on Dec. 21, 2012. I’ll speculate that there was a “calendar committee” getting ready to come out with their new one when the Spanish invaded and killed most of the Mayans and replaced the old calendar with the new one with the blessings of Pope Gregory – the Gregorian calendar – which we still use today with the adjustment of a Leap Year and every so often, a Leap Second or two. And so the "Mayan Calendar Committee" was officially disbanded and never got back around to it.

And so now all the Apocalyptists are gleefully jumping on the Dec. 21, 2012 bandwagon and including the Rapture, the Bible Code, and every other goofy-assed "end of the world” as we know it aliens from outer-space are coming to take us away, schizo-maladroit, nutball theory out there and taking over the History Channel. The History Channel used to be about history.

So, anyway, back to Dec. 21, 2012. That’s my birthday. I'll be 62. I am eligible for Social Security on the day the world ends. Just my luck. I’m working five part time jobs right now, and barely eking out my living, and the one date in my life I can look forward to is now when the world may end. Damn. I’m going to have a party on that day anyway. We’ll see what happens……….

Apocalyptically Yours,

Saturday, September 05, 2009

For Love of Amy - Westroads RAVE Theater

I saw the movie last night at the RAVE movie theater at The Westroads. The Omaha views are quite striking and many local buildings and views are featured. Panoramic shots of Omaha are quite lovely. And it's a poignant story and nicely done with some strong acting. But the movie is only playing for two weeks, so if you are interested, better go see it quick!

I used to play music in the UNO band room which features a memorable scene with John Beasley. And the carriage ride in the Old Market with Michael, the lead role played by Vincent Alston, and his love interest, Jasmine (played by Joyce Sylvester), includes a trot by the stone arch which used to be a part of the old Woodmen building, long since demolished. Amy, the young girl of the title, is played by Grace Bydelak, and she does a nice job throughout. The plot is pretty melodramatic (death by cancer, suicide, racism, an interracial guardianship followed by an unexpected custody battle), and you probably need to like that sort of thing to appreciate the pacing of the movie. Humor is nicely woven through the melodrama, though, as a necessary counterpoint.

I actually saw three of my paintings in the coffee house scene, and work by quite a few other artists as well, but one of mine in particular fills a large portion of the screen and my name is three feet high in a close up when the camera zooms in on Jasmine's face toward the end of the movie...a thrill for me!

The scene was shot at The Meeting Place Coffee House, 12th and Howard, which is no longer in business. It was a terrific venue for artists who could hang their works throughout the business. And poets and musicians often gathered there to read and play their music. It was a cool place for which there is no comparable venue anymore.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A few observations since I last observed anything. The crazies came out in droves to the August "town hall" meetings and successfully prevented virtually any rational discussion of health care and health insurance issues at all. That loud and rude fringe of society drove the parameters of the discussion. I don't think I've ever been quite so happy that Congress was back in session. Gun-toting Texas secessionists who think President Obama is a Communist Nazi born in Kenya are now in charge of health insurance reform. Boy, am I relieved.

Republicans have two planks in their platform now solidified: prevent public health insurance for citizens and allow government torture of prisoners in the war against terror(I think we give them free medical care afterwards unless they die, of course). Isn't torture terror? Republicans are adamant that the government stay out of the health insurance business and just as adamant that government should be able to torture our adversaries. Democrats are not quite as adamant that government should not torture our adversaries and quite a bit less adamant that government should be a health insurance provider. To me, we pool our money to build highways, bridges, provide for national defense, and various safety nets for senior citizens, our veterans, poor children, and people who are disabled. Health insurance for Americans seems to be in the same "pool" to me. And we shouldn't torture anybody.

A significant group of senior citizens voiced opposition to Government brokered health insurance, but vehemently insisted that their Medicare not be reduced or changed, and for goodness sake, don't mess with Social Security. And the classic line of the summer by an angry senior citizen was "Keep government out of my Medicare!"

But common ground has been reached on at least a couple of issue: virtually everyone agrees that "death panels" should not be included in the legislation. Not that such a thing was every discussed, contemplated, thought about, considered, written, conceived of, proposed, or written. Nevertheless, common ground has been reached. And even though it was never proposed etc., etc., insurance for illegal immigrants will not happen. Injured or sick illegal immigrants will simply continue to show up at emergency rooms where they will be treated, and we will pick up the tab in other ways. But thank God, at least, they will not be insured.

Ex Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accused President Obama of wanting to force her child to appear before a "death panel," then a week later called for "civility" in the discussions about health insurance. Huh? And the nutballs were throwing around the Nazi comparisons again. I wonder how many of those accusing President Obama of being a Nazi drive Volkswagens? Most other industrialized Western nations provide for national health care for their citizens. They're not Nazis. The Nazi fetish of the protestors is disturbing. And it obscures the brutish evil of the real Nazis.

So there you go. Summer's nearly over, schools have started again, Congress is back in session, gun-toting protestors headed back to their home towns where they can tote their guns, and Texas is still in the union. Not that the latter is necessarily a good thing. But there you go.

Bud C