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This column is dedicated to Annie. It is not a repeat of an earlier column titled “The Media Menagerie” The following is the result of watching, pondering, and a bit of comparison. However, it is a product of deductions. I do think if everyone also ponders this a while, we will have 100% consensus on the validity of its premise.

There are always several issues available for discussion as to policy on the political front; the last two weeks are no different. No one can ever expect to reach full agreement on such areas. That's not only inevitable in a democratic form of government, it's required if things are to improve and advance.  

The purpose of my column this year, however, is to find the areas of agreement to enable us here Fab 40 to have cohesive and honest discussion. THAT is what is missing in the world of media that we’ve come to see as normal. Personally, I believe this level of 'reporting the news' causes the great journalists of times past to "roll over in their graves!"

Oh, there were arguments and serious differences present then, too. Since the gathering of the founding fathers even rather heated debate is common and even welcome. But, until the last decade or so, total lack of civility and slanderous charges were unheard of by 'mainstream' intellectual journalists. They all 'fought' diligently for their ideals or a principle strongly held. But, if one or another elected official or administration swerved way out of line, voters, who wanted to be, were given 'both' sides of a story. Possibly then, an intelligent decision could be made and the voters voted based on factual issues regardless what side of the aisle they happened to stand on. The people tended to stand together and although the injustices often took violent or long involved courses of legislation, ultimately the issues were addressed and improved. As long as we are dealing with people, things will never be perfect. We don't even know what ‘perfect’ is anymore. Even the churches are at odds as to just what is "God's" will, what’s required and what’s evil.

In today's world, money rules everything. If one wishes to analyze all the way back to the roots of an issue, any issue, one need only follow the money. Whether the topic is domestic, foreign, secular or religious, just follow the money. Problem with that is, one has to know where to look and the news media makes sure we don't, both sides of it, UNLESS it serves their purpose. Even the politicians, both sides, will invent a 'breaking news' story simply to divert the attention away from what they don't WANT you to know. What's sad is, being a species driven by personal perception or 'family traditions', and I include myself in this premise, we tune into the station or newspaper that best feeds what WE already believe in. Understandable enough.  

The downside is, and here's where I started my 'research', we don't even allow ourselves to look at the other side of the coin and what it may show. We put our defenses up and follow like sheep to the herder, what we want to hear! It's a process of self-justification for often errant thoughts and often done subconsciously. The news media today has 24/7 time slots to fill. Most of the pundits who are telling you what means what aren't even true journalists. They are 'hype' salesmen. Their own jobs are dependent on ratings.  

“Okay,” you're saying about now, “we all know that already. So what brilliant deduction have you come up with?”  

After watching a week of various channels for a true comparison, I noticed that I went to the channels I so detest with a mental block already in place. I was prepared subconsciously to not believe a word I heard. Doing exactly just what I preach against. I then fully grasped the power of pre-conceived ideas. I went to the channels more inclined to reinforce my already formed beliefs, and found that when really noticing, they are doing exactly the same kind of 'hype' salesmanship as the other side is doing. I'd honestly never really grasped the full meaning of this before. It means we never really “know” the truth, the ‘uncolored’ truth! It’s amazing how something taken out of context can be twisted to mean exactly the opposite of what was originally said or being addressed. Both sides!

I went to the various Sunday morning talk shows on these same cable stations and even some of the major networks. Even when both sides were represented on a panel, I noticed just how much the commentator or host guided the discussion. Not just to keep civility intact but to follow certain courses. The partisanship was evident here, as well. It was carried off with a bit more subtlety and more decorum, but still there.

I was then attending a talk at a seminar on Literature and Philosophy and how it subliminally hypnotizes the masses, and has done so over eons and generations! The summation being . . . we need to ask ourselves the practical affectation of a single idea, policy or solution as it relates to us personally OR the work of the Universe in general? Here's where the pondering food really came in. Does 'it' really matter a damn to my personal station in life, the workings of the nation, or the world, or the entire Cosmos?  

If a politician gets a mistress, has an off-color sexual orientation, goes to a synagogue over a chapel, why do we even have to know these private issues? Does it change their governing capabilities? Does it alter their intellect in dealing with a problem? On the other hand, if they got caught NOT paying their taxes like everyone else has to do, shouldn't EVERYONE be concerned regardless of the offender’s political affiliation? At that point, does it matter a damn if they are a liberal or conservative?  

But, do I really give a damn whether the governor of South Carolina spent his "hike on the Appalachian Trail?" Does Tiger Woods' sex life affect my own? Does the planet stop spinning? I’d have to say the governor’s philandering is the business of the voters of South Carolina, and the only person who should worry about Tiger is Tiger’s family. The women involved are responsible for their own darn behaviour! Tiger was a married man and they knew it.
After three weeks of almost continual media hype, you'd think this was earth shaking when it's really rather common human behavior from the ghetto to the Whitehouse. Does being elected to public office include sainthood? If that were the case, we'd surely be back in the caves. There simply are no human saints and it's naïve to expect there would be.

I’m more inclined to ask does anyone care that in the same time frame we're dropping bombs on civilians with drones? Or is that okay, because it's not 'me' dropping them and America's safety is worth killing every being on the orb? In that case, does “Thou shall not kill” go down the tubes? Is it fair to be against social entitlements while you support rejection of planned parenthood? Who is going to feed the babies? Can you be all for the right to life, but be against feeding, housing and educating the needy babies?

We aren't going to change the media. Nor, are we going to change the dollar driven economy. But we, and only we, can change the openness of our minds.  Decide what is 'breaking news' and what are hype-driven ratings chases, or paid for air time by candidates who will spend millions to convince you how evil the other guy is while promising their own metamorphosis toward sainthood. Ask yourself that when you wonder why your insurance rates just jumped 39%. Those lobbyists don't come cheap.  

If you want fair, unbiased, relevant and practical news watch PBS News Hour which, as you all know, is publicly funded based on quality of programming. I say that as I turn the channel to 3 after hearing the lead-in headline on cable news . . . "Breaking news! More shocking details on the Edwards affair." Frankly, I don't give a damn. I want to know how the jobs bill is progressing, or not progressing. And, I want honest and fair details of who or what are obstructing or pushing it!        

Susan Haley, Author
RAINY DAY PEOPLE – A Novel
AMBER RETURNS TO MAINE
FIBERS IN THE WEB  

**Susan Haley is the published author of three books, several articles and essays. She is an award-winning poet, contract copy editor and book reviewer for AME Marketing out of San Diego. She also contributes a column to "The Florida Writer" the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association, of which she is Facilitator for the Sarasota County Chapter. The audio version of her novel "Rainy Day People" was awarded runner-up Finalist in the 2008 Indie Excellence National Book Awards. She also contributes a variety of editorials and excerpts of her work to various E-zines, newsletters and local papers.




Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Feb 25, 2010
    • Ditto on so many things you mentioned! I really wonder how much work gets done in DC... THEY are so busy defending THEIR own points of view that THEY are not really listening to what WE the people want. And that sometimes forces us to be just as defensive. So with all this defensiveness going on who actually wins?
      “We the People” is not Monday Night Football because if it is then WE keep losing every week to THEM!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 1, 2010
    • I agree that the media’s choices concering which stories to report are usually a waste of time.  But unfortunately, media outlets are profit-driven and a major part of corporate America so they, too, follow the money trail.  They choose to report on whatever brings the highest ratings.  So that means we, the public, dictate what they report.  If we didn’t want to watch the dramatic, sleezy stories, they wouldn’t show them.  If the public wanted to see real news, I guarantee that’s what they’d air.

      So we have each other to blame for this fiasco, too.  Frankly, all the sleeze is rather boring to me.  I am much more interested in the details that affect MY life.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 1, 2010
    • Well we all seem to agree the bias is there even if we don’t agree on what the bias is. I think, and this won’t surprise Annie, bless her heart, that Fox has been out to bring this administration down before it even had a chance to do anything. I do agree that CNN strives for center and fairness. MSNBC does lean left, but they do have Republican strategists and Democratic strategist going at it face to face. So do you do hear both sides. However, commentary is left. Anyone can say things. That doesn’t mean it’s fact. What source you use means a lot. Even the devil has his disciples. :) Again, we need to check public access records. Not individual cause sites.

      Tamra has brought up another good point and I agree with her 100%. My son and I were debating this very thing the other day. I told him we get what we demand. He fought that thought. Those who buy into it feed the ratings regardless which side of the bias we are on. Another reason to watch PBS and C-Span. They aren’t driven by advertisers and ratings.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 2, 2010
    • I strongly disagree that Fox has been trying to bring down the current administration.  Quite the contrary.  They frequently bring on people who support the administration.  (Juan Williams, for example, is a regular.)  Obama’s election has been great for Fox.  It can build a fan base on the polarization of the two party system as never before.  Given its rising ratings, I’d say they are thrilled to have an “enemy” to fight with.

      ...just a reflection of my increasing cynisism in the profit-driven media.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 2, 2010
    • Oh believe me, girls, I’m also in agreement. I also feel that ALL these networks take things out of context however it works for them. ALL of them do it.
      As for Fox, I can bear O‘Riley as I think he’s more of a Jon Stewart comedian type. Jon Stewart makes fun of EVERY body. Basically, he’s one smart guy that knows how to find the humor in everything and he makes me laugh.

      Hannity contradicts himself as much as anybody, but poor Glen Beck, (and my mother loves him) I think is mentally challenged. Either that or he is one hell of an actor. Basically, I put him in the same class as Limbaugh. And my younger son loves Limbaugh, so it’s not as if I am unaware of these people and the affect they can have on intelligent people. I also agree Tamra that Fox is getting off on having an ‘enemy‘. Believe me, I’m also disappointed in some of Obama’s moves, but I do think he is guilty of long-range analytical thinking. The man is smart, you can’t take that from him. He’s almost too intellectual for many to even comprehend. Especially, in this culture of NOW.

      What I have against the Republican party is certain policies like reconciliation and deficit building are perfectly okay when THEY are the ones doing it. I amost hope that they take back power. That will speed up the almost certain decline. Give the people what they ask for and we’ll go down the tubes in five years and it will all be over. We are ALL guilty of it! We spout with one hand out and one pulling away. We can’t have government run anything but don’t touch my Social Security, don’t touch my entitlements or MY taxes. As long as you‘re doing it to the other guy or the lazy guy or the whatever guy, okay, but give me what I got coming! Sad but true. That is the collective mindset.
      And yes, Annie, I agree - we gravitate toward our own beliefs. It’s human nature. Sometimes we have to rise above ourselves. Every last one us. Walk in the other guy’s shoes a while. Even a day.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 2, 2010
    • It’s sickening to think the gov’t is ramming this down our throats.  Personally, I won’t be affected much as I now purchase my own health coverage so I am already in compliance.  But those who don’t purchase it had better start saving so they can work it into their budgets or else face penalties for breaking the law.  Just one of the many things about the legislation I don’t agree with.

      But what disturbs me the most is the idea that the gov’t of a democracy can behave like a dictatorship, forcing major changes on our people that they don’t want.

      Republicans will speed up the almost certain decline if they take back power?  Seems to me the Democrats are doing a fine job of ruining the country all on their own as it stands now. It’s already happening.

      November will be a very interesting election.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 2, 2010
    • I just wrote a long comment and got called away by the phone and my session expired and I lost it. I don’t have time to re-write it right now. I’ll try again in the morning. Thanks for your comments, girls!
      S



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 2, 2010
    • We’ll check back tomorrow.  Thanks to you for inspiring the interesting discussions!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • Annie, I do agree with you wholeheartedly about tort reform and buying across state lines. But without some regulations on the big insurance companies, those things alone won’t fix it. The bathwater has already drowned the baby in debt. The debt is what has to be fixed! But in order to fix it, we have to be darn courageous up front. Right now, the Corporate Insurance Companies are running the whole show! That is simply a fact. And many Dems are in their pocket, too! Obama is for both tort reform and the ability to buy across state lines, he simply wants regulation of the insurance companies.

      Tamra, I agree with you about buying health care being a LAW. But that penalty doesn’t cover private citizens. That is only for businesses who just don’t want to cover their employees because it costs so much. IF the costs come down with the reforms, then they will have to pay the penalty based ONLY if their profits are above a certain figure and they hire more than fifty people. It’s not across the board.
      If you are buying your own insurance now, wouldn’t you like to know that you cannot be canceled or have your rate hiked if you happen to get sick!? That’s what Obama wants. Regulations. That’s all. The Republicans don’t want regulations. That is the big divide. The regulations would be written and overseen by an independent judiciary panel appointed by both parties and subject to confirmation!

      You are both right that no one really wants the bill in its present form. Before this mess, 68% of the people wanted a Public Option. When that got compromised away by the gutless dems, the entire bill lost support. Including mine!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • I love your loyalty, girls. :) Would you believe I had a terrible time signing in! Had to reset my password and now I don’t know how to reset it to something I can remember, but I was determined to keep my word to you!

      When I do my column, I do it in a Word Doc and paste it in here. Now, I’m terrified I’m going to lose what I write if I get too long winded. So I might do this in a couple of posts.

      As a writer, I go with the muse when it hits. I’ll never be able to recapture the comment I lost. But I was answering the points brought up. Since then I’ve had time to think on it awhile and I think I’ll write a whole new column in a couple of days carrying on the same discussion.

      I will say here that your answers to my posts do give me further thought food and that is my purpose here. I feel a big problem is the language we hear and hear until it finally becomes emblazened in our brains. Listening to different sources, we tranfer our language right here without even realizing it. I know you are both against the present administration just because of the language used. Yet, I feel down deep we don’t disagree that much! We all want the same things. I’ll post this much. Then go on . . .



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • One thing I noticed was the use of words in a negative sense. I’ve never heard the term ‘ram it through’ except when it was a right person talking. Surely a Dem has never used that terminology even if that is what it was! :)

      The word ‘socialism’ is used in purely a negative conotation when actually socialism is one aspect of any democratic form of government. The programs we all DO like are a form of socialism. Including the military that is to protect us a whole. We pay for someone else to do our protecting rather than build our own forts around our homes. Medicare and Social Security are both Socialism yet people will fight to save their Social Security. The actual program has been so abused from it’s original concept, it has become a burden on all, even those receiving it! And even more to the workers still paying in. I’m in an unusual position as I do receive my husband’s widow benefits but I am still working and paying in! I’d like to do a column on the true meaning of the forms of government we have disdain for and also want. None of these terms are used properly by the media.
      If you’ll give me a bit of time, I’ll put something together that may enlighten folks as much as it did me when I learned it!! Which was just recently by the way!

      Is that satisfactory with you? I want to keep this discussion going in the interim. I want to hear more comments from those of you with interest in it.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • I agree!  Those ‘purchases’ you speak of are GONE now. That was Reid’s trick. I was furious when it happened! Yes, I agree with you. We should all meet in Washington and introduce some common sense. A long gone premise there! We can make signs too! I don’t think any bill should be over 300 pages. And that is pushing it! This thing is garganuan. (spelling) see I have an editor too! LOL!
      Su



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • Susan, I think there may be some confusion.  I understand that all citizens will be required to carry health insurance in one of the proposed bills.  That’s one of the ways it is being sold as affordable legislation.  Young healthy individuals who are not supporting the system now by purchasing coverage, and thereby paying for us older folks to have care, would be forced into the system.

      Is that not correct?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • This is from a CNN website that reflects we will all be required to buy coverage.  It’s dated July 2009, so it may be superceded.
      “...The bills in both houses require that Americans purchase insurance through “qualified” plans offered by health-care “exchanges” that would be set up in each state.”
      money.cnn.com/2009/07/24/news/economy/
      health_care_reform_obama.fortune/

      Another site, dated December 2009, says something similar -
      “...all of the leading House and Senate health-care reform bills being debated in Congress require Americans to either secure or purchase health insurance with a particular threshold of coverage, estimated by CBO to cost up to $15,000 per year for a typical family.”
      heritage.org/research/legalissues/lm0049.cfm



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • Susan, with all due respect, I believe the use of the word “ram” perfectly describes any policy forced upon Americans when such a large portion of the population is opposed to it.  And it is extemely unsettling to think that the gov’t is about to enact legislation that will control 1/6 th of our economy under a supposedly “free enterprise” system.  Pretty scary.

      Furthermore, surely you don’t believe the Democrats to be a kind, generous, compassionate bunch when it comes to pushing their agenda.  I’m sure you know there are Dems that use the word “ram” as well when it’s applicable according to their perspective.  Dems can be, to use their words, as “mean-spirited” as any Republican.  Perhaps you don’t know any, but you must know they are out there.  Personally, I have a family member who’s a very active Democrat in the Houston area that regularly attacks Republicans and conservatives publicly with very harsh words and criticism.  I would point you toward his blog, but I’m embarrassed for the ladies here to know I’m related to him.  Not because of his political alignment, but because of his repeated use of the f-word and vindictive commentaries.  Politics is ugly, no matter which side of the fence you stand on.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • I know what you mean, Annie.  But I have optimism that no matter what happens, anything can be undone in due time if it’s harmful.  Elections in November should provide some balance.  

      I have to say, I am so happy to live in Texas where things are very different from the DC mindset, and the economy and tax burdens for individuals are much more favorable.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • Wow! You two are keeping me hopping! :) I had an FWA meeting tonight and just got home.

      This is the last as I understand it and believe me, I’m as skeptical as you are because if there are no insurance regulations it will be a joke. Tamra the stuff you posted was correct up until the Christmas Eve vote by the Senate. That was done with a 60 vote majority. In fact, what worries me is just before that is when all the vote buying took place! I understand that has been since taken out.
      What is to be sent to the president’s desk now IS the final senate bill that was passed with the 60 votes super majority. Which, yes, Dems are not happy with. Support immediately began to fall off.
      Annie, I never said I didn’t personally know nasty Dems. I said for the ‘camera’ no Dem Congressman will use that terminology. Only the left wing media uses it when knocking the right wing and it did originate with Fox this go round. But yes, Annie the word ‘ram’ is a bad thing unless one is talking about a Dodge Truck or a male sheep! :) Yes, I know some out of it far left liberals like your foul-mouthed relative. Unfortunately I have a foul-mouthed Republican far right in my family and yes, it’s embarrassing for someone trying to remain civil and discuss with like-minded Americans living through this mess!
      I am not a fan of politicians on either side! I’ve stated that quite clearly. I want us US the working people to win.  Posting this



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • I may be misreading or reading the wrong info on who will have to pay this penalty. I do believe I have it right, but I always stand to be corrected with a fact! I’ll sure look into it and state my source.

      I think this conversation came up when it was asked about young people who haven’t realized their own mortality yet, not wanting to bother, children are automatically going to care with the new law there which means in case of the unexpected or an accident, that person who is ABLE will still be cared for in an emergency room and then WE ALL have to pay for that to in higher fees. So it’s not just the poor, it’s also the careless! How they handle religious beliefs, I’m not sure. I know that has made it all the way to the courts before many times and it wasn’t a political thing stemming from either side but child protection laws. That is a touchy area, I admit. I wouldn’t want to have to make that decision to be honest. That’s like the other side of euthanasia. Who has the right to make the decision of another’s very life!? Does a parent have that right? Huge can of worms there.

      I have had it for one day, girls. I’m exhausted! I did get my third book proof galley returned today so it will be out in about three weeks. :)



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 3, 2010
    • Oh, I almost forgot. The places where there are still huge disagreement will be all that is brought up for consideration of reconciliation. Not the whole bill.

      There are 4 issues I believe. I’ll find out more about that later, too.

      Whatever was in the Senate with a super majority is what they will pass. But, darn! Everyday it’s something different. Yes it is very STRESSFUL and it shouldn’t be. I’d rather be downright angry as stressed!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 4, 2010
    • Ooops, I did apply the answer to you instead of Tamra. Sorry. My mistake. Actually, I’m trying to talk between the three of us posting here. :)

      Yes, Annie, I’m going to do some research and use this stuff for a column soon. I’m watching to see what in the heck the do nothings do next. I can’t believe the games that go on. This crap comes from decades of small bits of legislation that served in a certain era. None of this stuff, the nit-picky stuff, is mandated by the Constitution.

      Have a great weekend, everyone!

      Susan



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