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Posts Tagged ‘Media’

There’s a big Georgian building in Ivy I’ve mentioned before, it’s an offshoot of UVA that offers free and open forums to citizens every month with leaders on the world stage. Its mission is to decode public policy for the rest of us, and its “American Forum” can be viewed on PBS – if there is still a PBS in the future:

“At the Miller Center, we strive to illuminate presidential and political history accurately and fairly. To shine a light on all the ways our democracy has worked—and all the times America has struggled. To inspire America’s leaders with unbiased insights, especially on the presidency, that advance democratic institutions and the public good.” https://millercenter.org

Because I felt like I needed some illuminating, I bid farewell to Bob, who was waiting at home for painters, and drove into town to hear Gerald F Seib (Wall Street Journal’s Executive Washington Editor and Chief Commentator) pontificate on presidential power at the Miller Center. As makeup artists powdered their faces, and the lights dimmed for filming, American Forum’s host, Douglas Blackmon, prepared to interview Seib about Donald Trump. The room was so packed I was squeezed onto a pew sitting sidesaddle. Seniors and students alike, we were all eager to understand Trumpland.

Seib told us that reaching out directly to US citizens is nothing new, that President Obama actually liked to cut out the main stream media and talk to real people. Utilizing Twitter however is a new phenomena.  Labeling media the “…enemy of the American people” is not just new, it’s dangerous. He called Trump a “Master at Communicating,” in that he creates bright shiny objects (Tweets) every day in order to control the media.

Seib also told us time and again that we must take everything a President says seriously; when his aides tell us not to take his statements – like the wiretapping charge against Obama – literally, we the public and the media must still consider his words seriously. The surveillance charge is a diversion, it puts the others (his media enemies) on the defensive.

And although I like to think the purpose of journalism is to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted (Scotty Reston), Seib told us that reporters need to explain and put into context a leader’s words. His job is to analyze in depth, to find the meaning and illuminate facts. He emphasized the one thing journalists have is our credibility, ditto for presidents, then he asked us how will we know when to take Trump seriously – if everything he says isn’t?

I thought of Peter and the Wolf.

He did acknowledge that Rupert Murdoch bought the WSJ years ago, but insisted that his editorial pages have been critical of Trump. And he told us about some memos that had been circulating; saying it’s fine to call certain statements “False” but not “Lies,” not until they are proven to have come from a person’s conscious intent…“and nobody has skirted around facts like Donald Trump.”

Seib warned reporters not to let their attitude substitute for the facts. In other words, don’t become the story you were covering. Harder and harder to do these days I imagine. With UVA Communications majors sitting in the orchestra seats, Blackmon asked what one piece of advice he would give to a young journalist today. “Be honest!”

Seib went on to say he would tell Mr T he must be careful not to devalue his currency (ie credibilty) and to understand and accept that a free press is good for democracy and he should not diminish it!

In short, the Bully Pulpit is still real, it exists and it’s easier than ever to get everybody’s attention. And today, similar to Nixon’s Watergate era, we reporters must be willing to, “…suspend disbelief”…one story at a time. In order to write about the news today we must  “temporarily accept as believable, events or characters that would ordinarily be seen as incredible. This is usually to allow an audience to appreciate works of literature or drama that are exploring unusual ideas.” http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/suspension-of-disbelief.html        Yes sir, that’s the best definition of Trumpland so far!

Let’s hope Mr T doesn’t lay his hands on Angela Merkel while he’s talking trade with Germany. No shoulder rubs for the President who grabs you know what. Seriously. And let’s also hope Tillerson does no harm in Asia. Although he refused to bring the press with him, so how will we know? Not to worry, Andrea Mitchell is on the job.  This is the season to lay mulch at the feet of Buddha, and have faith that North Korea doesn’t take Tillerson seriously.

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Morning grammar nerds! And you know who you are. I must admit I no longer watch “Presidential” press conferences, but I just couldn’t resist Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Sean Spicer, and so I occasionally tune-in just to see what nonsense the White House is dishing up today; or, as I like to ask Bob over my first cup of coffee, “Damage report?”

Well bless his heart, yesterday poor Sean was trying to soften Mr T’s words on Twitter yet again, by placing his fingers up and gesturing “air quotes” around the word “wiretapping.” In other words, the middle school bullies really are running the show up on the Hill.

Everyone knows air quotes when they see them: the middle and forefingers of each hand wiggling to resemble quotation marks. Often accompanied by a spoken “quote-unquote,” they’re typically used to mock or disown the phrase they surround. They mean something “is ‘so-called,’” rather than real, the late William Safire, the great scholar of political language, once wrote. They cast “aspersion on the word or phrase that follows,” he said. “A sneer is built in.”             https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/03/14/an-investigation-of-air-quotes-mostly-used-to-discredit-the-other-sides-words-not-your-own-as-per-sean-spicer/?utm_term=.fe463b8a7442

And the funny thing is, even the Urban Dictionary knows that air quotes are so… one whole generation ago. “Used ad nauseam by ‘pretentious’ and ostensibly ‘intelligent’ university students, to advertise their ‘superior morals’ and ‘erudition’.” It’s like the thumbs-up sign, only worse, because air quotes exude privilege. They were (past tense) a preppy way to discredit those plebes beneath them, not in the way Sean tried to use them discrediting his boss’ words.

They belong to the 60s, where they should have stayed, along with Kellyanne’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band jacket. http://mentalfloss.com/article/80939/11-facts-about-sgt-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-band

“Walking back” their boss’ Tweets seems to be a full time job on the Hill. But trying to soften Mr T’s attack on President Obama is yet another distraction. Let’s NOT discuss special prosecutors and Russia’s “involvement” in our election. Instead, like a child, Mr T turns responsibility away from himself, to shift blame on his predecessor for “wiretapping” Trump Tower. Only now, he only meant general surveillance, like spying “microwaves.” Darn, it’s hard not to use real quotes when writing about this stuff!

I wonder if Mr T went to his grandchildrens’ Temple for Purim this past weekend? Maybe that’s why his Twitter fingers went quiet, after all the “wiretapping” and microwave memes the media consumed during the week. Ivanka’s children are 5, 3 and almost 1. These are perfect ages for Purim celebrations; my Nashville grandchildren had a blast dressing up like super heroes and attending a carnival at their Temple.

Purim is a feminist’s delight because it’s about a Jewish woman who kills an enemy of the Jewish people. Esther is one of many Persian queens, but she, like Moses, was adopted and was actually Jewish. Think about this for a second. Does Christianity have a holiday dedicated to a woman? As a child, I remember having lots of saints days named after women, celebrating martyrdom…not exactly the same. Esther had balls, she had chutzpah! We had the Annunciation, i.e. a fourteen year old girl is visited by an angel and told she will have a Virgin Birth…

Coming out of years spent celebrating Mass in Latin, I was happy to enter a Temple and make lots of noise at Purim. In fact, Purim was so much fun – mohn cookies shaped like Haman hats, dressing up like Halloween or Carnevale, and laughing and playing in the Temple – I’m pretty sure that it’s what sold me on Judaism.

But the irony of my grandchildren celebrating in a building that had to be evacuated because of bomb threats since this last election is not lost on me. The paradox of a holiday marking Jewish survival during the week another attempt at a Muslim travel ban was enacted is surreal. Putting air quotes around the words of our Commander in Chief is yet another small cut in the slicing up of our democracy.

Our President is being sarcastic; he doesn’t really mean what he says; that was just locker room banter; it’s “alternative facts.”

I believe we deserve a President who doesn’t need minions to explain his rhetorical Tweeting voice, and a Presidential Press Briefing, without air quotes. The American people don’t need to watch the “built-in sneer” from an Oval Office devoid of compassion. In fact, Andrea Mitchell is a modern day Esther, insisting on answers at press “briefings,” refusing to be escorted from a room. Maybe a pair of parentheses would help us clarify Mr T’s meaning, his intent. Instead of charging President Obama with a felony, he would be revealed in all his paranoia.

(sometimes, alone at Trump Tower, I felt like I was being watched). My tower study (an aviary that functions as my refuge), was warm and inviting this (freezing cold) morning. Here is the view of the (snowy Blue Ridge) mountains. Only hawks watch me write. IMG_0183

 

 

 

 

 

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It was almost midnight on Valentine’s Day. After two flights and running through Dallas International, Bob bought me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup at a gas station outside of Dulles. This is my absolute favorite candy, so nobody can say he isn’t a romantic! Bob isn’t the flower and heart-shaped box of bon bons kinda guy… still, this feminist never aspired to be treated like a queen, or a princess for that matter.

I thought about a lunch table conversation we had a few days earlier with the Love Bug. Her Dad, the Groom, was schooling her on the difference between “Real” and “Not Real.” She is only four, so I was thinking a little magic might be in order, but he was serious. Dinosaurs are tricky, since they were real, but aren’t around anymore. Of course monsters are definitely NOT real. And then we came to princesses.

The Groom explained about cartoons. I remarked that a certain guest at the wedding actually worked at Disney. The Love Bug brought up Pochahontas – which as we all know was really a Native American princess of sorts. And then the Bride chimed in with Princess Kate, so as much as this generation of parents would rather their daughters play sensibly with gender-neutral toys, sometimes little girls just have to be pretend princesses.

In fact, Aunt KiKi (aka Ms Cait) looked just like a princess on her wedding day last week.

In REAL news today, a princess in Spain will not be going to the tower, uh jail.

A Spanish court on Friday acquitted King Felipe VI’s sister, Princess Cristina, of charges that she helped her husband evade taxes, in a case that shamed the royal family. Her husband, however, Inaki Urdangarin, was given a jail sentence of six years and three months for siphoning off millions of euros between 2004 and 2006 from a foundation he headed in the island of Majorca.  https://uk.news.yahoo.com/verdict-due-spanish-royals-fraud-trial-041850122.html

It’s always hard to return to the Real World after a vacation. No more swimming in a warm pool, followed by a warmer hot tub. No more bocce ball. And since we had scheduled some tile work for this week, I am stuck at home. Trying to return to this time zone, doing laundry, catching up with myself. And yesterday I made the mistake of watching a “so-called” press conference.

To use a British term, I was gobsmacked! Mr T toyed with the press and our allies like that killer cougar, P-45 the King of Malibu, who is stalking the hills of LA. “The “P” comes from Puma concolor, the species whose common names include puma, panther, catamount, cougar, and mountain lion.” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/13/lions-of-los-angeles

You’ve seen how a house cat plays with a mouse I’m sure, just imagine this puma killing an alpaca. Mr T smiled and teased the reporters, threw out blatant lies, and pontificated to his heart’s content. He won’t tell us what he’s going to do with that Russian ship, he said with a gleam in his eye.

This cannot be real. Am I the only one frightened by his rhetoric, his stupidity, his apparent need for self-aggrandizement. We have a wild, uncontrollable, narcissistic president who would be king, and Princess Ivanka needs to school him, and tell him he has no clothes.

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Imagine coming home, after nine days with no news of any sort, only to find out that our new political reality has become dissecting Mr T’s Tweets. So you naturally tune this out of your consciousness. You might tune up your classical music that magically erupts from a radio station in Seattle via your wireless Sonos speaker and an Ipad App.  http://www.sonos.com/en-us/products/wireless-speakers

You could probably get Radio Free Europe on there?!

And then, by reflex, you tune into NPR in your car. Big mistake, because you hear that all hell broke loose yesterday in a Mt T press conference over a sex tape that either does or does not exist! Let’s say our Intel thought it was important enough to brief both POTUS and PEOTUS last week.

In a climate that sends a shooter to a pizza place in DC over some far-fetched conspiracy theory about sex trafficking; and when Rolling Stone is taken to task over a fake rape allegation, it would behoove us to decipher what is real and what is fake news, dontcha think? Critical Thinking skills were all the rage when my kids were in high school. Young people today are better at reading #RealNews on the Internets than most of our peers.

I was taught in Catholic School that we received First Holy Communion at the age of seven because that’s when we could tell the difference between right and wrong, true and false. Monsters are not real. There is no Santa Claus, no unicorns, no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. But then we are supposed to believe that little wafer we’re about to eat is the body and blood of Christ, so the margin of reality becomes fluid. And a lot depends on what particular belief system we inculcate from our parents…

Still, lawyers can build a case in support of a theory by proving a “pattern” of behavior. Courtrooms love this stuff, people are convicted on their patterns all the time. Maybe this guy was nowhere near his wife when she disappeared, BUT here are all the pictures and phone calls and witnesses to prove that he liked using his wife as a punching bag for years.  You don’t always need a body to convict a murderer.

So let’s look at all this shall we:

Mr T said he liked going backstage at the Miss Universe Pageant, and he was in Moscow for that event in 2013, the year an “alleged” tape in question was made. In fact there are pictures of him there, smooching the contestants.

An ex-MI6 operator, Christopher Steele, who prepared the dossier on Mr T’s tape has left his home and is in hiding. Mr Steele runs a London-based security and intel firm that deals mostly with Eastern Europe. Among his allegations, which are unsubstantiated because this tape has not surfaced, “…are that Moscow has a video recording of Mr Trump with prostitutes and damaging information about his business activities.” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-38591382

Last April the CIA Director was shown evidence of money flowing from the Kremlin to the US Presidential campaign – it worried him enough that he convened “…six agencies or departments of government. Dealing with the domestic, US, side of the inquiry, were the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice. For the foreign and intelligence aspects of the investigation, there were another three agencies: the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency, responsible for electronic spying.”

And in other #RealNews, Mr T’s business partner, Tevfik Arif, in the early 2000s was a Turkish citizen, born in Russia, with some very interesting ties.

In 2010, Mr Arif was arrested in Turkey on charges he helped arrange an orgy on a yacht that had once belonged to the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. In 2012, the charges were dropped, a company spokeswoman says. Today, Mr Arif is believed to be living in Turkey. His spokeswoman said he was the “sole owner” of Bayrock during the time it did business with Mr Trump. She declined to provide details, citing litigation and confidentiality agreements.  https://www.ft.com/content/549ddfaa-5fa5-11e6-b38c-7b39cbb1138a

That yacht secured teenage “models” from Russia and the Ukraine, as “singers and dancers.” Google it.

This morning I heard that Mr T said CNN trafficked in fake news, because they reported about said dossier that was published on Buzzfeed. He also said he would only discuss his grandkids with his sons over the next four years. And yet, Republicans looked askance when Mr Clinton said he had only discussed his grandkids for 20 minutes on a plane with the AG! I sometimes think that indeed, Mr T could get away with saying and doing anything he wants, which is downright chilling. After all, we have the Billy Bush/Pussy Gate tape, and that didn’t mean a thing.

Let’s hold all journalists to the same standard. If this tape does exist, we have just elected a Manchurian candidate. We actually don’t know the truth, yet… It’s true, US Intel was not involved, the Brits started this fire and we are now obligated to put it out.

Is it real, or is it Memorex?  img_5685

 

 

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Last night I had a nightmare. Of course it involved a car, my usual scenario. It was one of those “Please let this be a dream” nightmares as I was waking up. It had all the usual elements: I was lost; the man driving the car was a maniac; and technology was winning. Yes, my iPhone was in my dream. When I tried to open Google Maps to find my way home, it was stuck – I couldn’t move the screen – it was stuck on me, on the pedestrian me, and someone was watching my every move…maybe I shouldn’t see that new movie Snowden?

Last night a pedestrian was killed by two cars in Keswick. Someone just walking along a road, was hit by a Volvo of all things and then hit again by a pick-up. And a few weeks ago, a woman from California was dropping off her Freshman son at UVA, when she was killed in a relatively new shopping center here in Cville. She and her husband and daughter were just crossing a street, she had probably made her son’s dorm room bed. Maybe his sister had organized his CDs? Do kids still have records or is everything on their phones?

In VA, everyone stops for pedestrians, at least that was my understanding.

The day before, Bob and I had just been to Trader Joe’s in that place and remarked at how the design – the streets, the parking, the signs – was God-awful. http://www.nbc12.com/story/32808255/family-dropping-off-son-at-uva-struck-by-car-mother-killed

We go to Trader Joe’s for two things, Bob’s maple syrup and my unsweetened green iced tea. And we might go to the new cinema in that shopping center, the one I call Stonehenge but is really “The Shops at Stonefield.” In fact we plan on seeing that new Amy Adam’s movie about aliens there, because I need to be frightened just a bit more before Halloween. Here is the trailer that the Rocker produced:

Amy Adams Deals Directly with Aliens in ‘Arrival’ Trailer

I feel like I am living in a nightmare, a war zone lately. Seaside, and Chelsea and a knife-wielding monster in a MN mall. But then I am reminded by our President, who is in New York at the UN, that we must open our hearts to Syrian refugees. Only to read a convoy of trucks full of humanitarian aid was barrel bombed on its way into Aleppo today. I am reminded that in fact, I am not living in a war zone, but these poor people are. The cease fire, such as it was, is over. Russia is playing coy, not claiming responsibility, I imagine waiting to see who will win the US Presidency.

And so we talk about Skittles, and baskets of deplorables.

Maybe the best news of all was hearing that five years from now we will all be driving around in driverless cars. This IS good news, right?  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/business/ford-promises-fleets-of-driverless-cars-within-five-years.html?_r=0   17ford-master675

 

 

 

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Bet you thought this was going to be an essay about Caitlyn Jenner. To spin Dr Henry Higgins, “Why cant’t a man be more like a woman?” But no, this is about the woman who replaced my favorite columnist at the NYTimes (Anna Quindlen). After all, I fashioned my writing at the Berkshire Eagle as a mix of personal and political a la Quindlen for years. But today, let’s talk about Dowdworld for awhile, shall we.

Anyone would think I’d love a fiery, redheaded, post-feminist, liberal writer from a big Irish family. And i did, until things began to change. Ever since the Bride went off to medical school, I’d email her Dowd’s columns, in the same way the Flapper would cut articles out of the newspaper to send to me. “Dowd nails it again!” might be the title of one such email, hoping to keep my daughter’s feminist mind clear in the midst of mind-grueling study. Then, a few weeks ago, the Bride sent me one of her columns; the email header read “WTF Maureen Dowd?”

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/05/03/opinion/sunday/maureen-dowd-stroke-of-fate.html?_r=1&referrer=

Well naturally I jumped to Dowd’s defense, who was castigating emergency medicine in print, or digital, or however one reads the Times these days. I replied immediately, “Ok I get it. But she was just quoting an egotistical neurologist who compared body parts to cars. I wouldn’t be so mad at her; it’s an opinion piece and it’s her niece.” As if I was making up an excuse for a beloved elderly aunt, or sister, who slipped up on her medication. But the Bride was really mad, and later sent me the reply to her article by an Emergency Physician.

Today, I’m wondering why Dowd is so Debbie Downer on Hillary. Now she did give Bill a lashing over his indiscretions in the Oval Office. She sounded downright Republican there for awhile, and some blamed this on her Roman Catholic background. Still, one might expect her to be sympathetic to the woman best known in the GOP press for her pantsuits and helmet hair. Conservatives like to throw strong adjectives around about Clinton, like how “secretive” she is, how she gives off an “atmosphere of hostility,” and she holds a “forced smile” while being a “shapeshifter.” And these are NYTimes columnists!

“And oh yeah, “she can’t figure out how to campaign as a woman.” That from Dowd, who has spent her career at the Times personally attacking Clinton.”                                                                                          http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/06/10/the-curious-way-new-york-times-columnists-are-c/203934

How would you have Hillary campaign “…as a woman” Maureen? After reading this critique in New York Magazine, “The Redhead and the Gray Lady,” http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/features/14946/ I may have a clue what she’s talking about, which is to say, I’m very disappointed in you Maureen. Here is the first sentence in this article, you can get the gist: “Possibly, there are even more naked women at Maureen Dowd’s house today than there were when this place was JFK’s Georgetown bachelor pad in the fifties.” 

Maureen to Hillary: “You seem like an annoyed queen”

Me to Maureen: “You seem like the queen of mean.”

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Dowd’s Vanity Fair cover

Anna Quindlen, I miss you! Because politics isn’t all about money, and power, and sex. Is it?

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“There’s Sir Dosser the Convict, Chango the Beast…” If you’re not getting the reference, this is a part of a radio interview done in Britain, gone viral with Mila Kunis. Highly entertaining, we learn they don’t have Blue Moon beer overseas and we Yanks don’t normally “…drop trout” at weddings. Here is the recap, the on-air reaction of the young guy, Chris Stark’s, boss – “Why are you going on about your mates again?”

Poor Mila, you can tell she has a cold and she’s enjoying this break from the ordinary slew of questions about her new movie with James Franco, a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. It’s a Sam Raimi production, who sounds like a reincarnation of Hitchcock. Animation mixed with live action is normally not my cup of tea (though I did enjoy Jessica Rabbit, she’s just drawn that way). But one of my Kindle downloads on this last trip was a mixture of fantasy and fiction, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Le Cirque des Rêves appears without warning and only opens at night. It too is about a charlatan, an illusionist, or two. And so I’m intrigued by the new Oz and just may dig my way out of this snow to see it!

From wanting to drink Yager Bombs with Mila, to the real world of droning on about bombs in a Senate filibuster. I thought you might like to know that our little city, Charlottesville, VA is the first in the nation to outright ban drones from roaming all over our backyards. Yes, for two years we can’t buy, borrow or test any drones and the ultrasound Governor is now considering a bill on his desk to make this a state-wide condition. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/02/05/city-in-virginia-becomes-first-to-pass-anti-drone-legislation-

City Councilor, my Facebook buddy and former Mayor Dave Norris says, :…the city has a “long tradition of promoting civil liberties – ‘It’s just part of our culture here.'”

It’s a bit scary to me to think that we have been giving up so many of our civil liberties so freely. The right to vote, the right to govern our own bodies without government interference, the right of privacy, etc. The question about drones speaks to a much larger issue. It’s not so much catching the marijuana grower in his backyard, as it is:
When is it OK to kill anyone?
American or not?
With or without a drone? since this is just another instrument of death…a flying, remote-control-game-like tool of destruction. Let’s not stay up all night talking about whether its target is a US citizen on this soil or that. When do we as a nation say that this is OK?
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