Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Not Easy Being Gwen Ifill, Or Thoughts On The Media - Local and National

A recent NY Times article on Judy Woodward, and how she is handling the PBS NewsHour after the death of her longtime  co-host Gwen Ifill, reminded me of just how good Gwen was, and how well those two worked together.
PBS has launched the obligatory “nationwide search” for her replacement, who might even be (horrors!) a man, but no answers so far...and so Judy soldiers on.
Several men on the staff have received expanded roles; some have done well, some haven’t.
This past week, with Judy off and MAJOR news breaking, John Yang struggled in the anchor role and didn’t do well—possibly the failure of his producer. 2 examples: shortly after the latest (but not the last) Trump catastrophe broke, Yang asked an obscure senator what he thought...but the senator hadn’t heard the news and wisely said he couldn’t comment. (Mark that man down as a comer!) Later Yang mispronounced the name of a guest, a Washington Post reporter (what would public tv’s top newsprogram do without newspaper reporters???) Granted, the guy had a 4 syllable name, but that’s hardly an excuse.
CBS had a top reporter in Iran for its important Presidential elections. As I heard it, she said the contest would come down to between “a populist and the incumbent.”  No; the incumbent was the populist and was staving off a hardline conservative....and thankfully, he won
When news breaks on weekends...and it often does...I have said before the major networks' weekend anchors are often NOT up to the job. If this is where they break-in future weekday anchors, we are in trouble.
Turning locally, and some good news...on Wednesdays the Fox 10pm news highlights  “Spirit of the BlueGrass.” These feature reports by Marvin Bartlett have been excellent...and should remind all the other Lexington stations, especially Channel 27, why each needs their own “local Charles Kuralt”
And then there was the 11pm sports segment last Saturday, which after giving us a detailed report on the Transy women's softball game—as the 3rd story, went to a break, and returned with the story of an upset horse race victory, some small race called The Preakness, which merely ended, for another year, all hopes for a Triple Crown winner.
Ah so, judgments, judgments.
I'm just sayin'..

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Thoughts On Some Recent News Stories

Someone in Washington is lying.
Please. OK, cynics (I am not one) believe someone is always lying in Washington...but..the recent “news” out of the White house on the Comey firing triggered, over several days, from the Pres, V-P, press secretary, deputy press secretary, and assorted etc...the most extensive series of lies I’ve ever heard (and I was around covering Watergate, the 5 O’clock Follies during the ‘Nam war, and others.)
Who can the American people believe?
And if not outright lies, then mistakes of gigantic proportions—which amount to the same thing.
Now we know what “fake news” really is.
And that’s sad, because we should be able to trust our elected leaders most of the time, and the FBI Director is a major official of our government.
Did you see the sports story from Colorado where a Colorado State football player was arrested and charged with stealing from a teammate?  What he stole were diamond bracelets and Rolex watches.
And just how did the teammate get such items?  Are we missing a bigger story here?
And when will the NCAA issue its report on the UofL scandal...years since it began..and the North Carolina report, even years longer since the NCAA began that important investigation?
Then there’s the latest (but far from the last) case of international hacking...where major firms are being held for ransom because of a flaw in the Windows software—that the firm fixed in mid March.
Right, the hackers used a flaw that was fixed 6 weeks ago...after Windows keeps telling its customer to install antivirus software, always keep your fixes up to date and back up your files.
All of this should NOT have Disney, Nissan, Renault, Britain’s National health System, and firms large and small...if they had just followed both common sense and good business practice and what computers firms have urged them to do for years.
Major banks, department stores, etc. have been guilty of this—and suffered (No, we the customers have suffered) the consequences for years.
When is someone going to file a major, global class action suit against these firms for such gross negligence?
Where are you Morgan and Morgan when we need you?
Talk about a case “for the people!”
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Once Upon A Time In Lexington

Long, long go. Times were bad. In fact it was the Great Depression of the 30s. Every section of Society felt it. Universities such as UK, were no exception.
Faculty were let go. Classes were cancelled. Maintenance was put off. Fees were raised.
It was a truly difficult time and some feared the Commonwealth’s Flagship School just might go under...others had in other states.
Ways were sought out of UK’s financial problems...appeals to alumni (suffering similarly); appeals to donors (ditto); sales of what could be sold (few buyers); and especially requests for aid from local businesses who had profited over the years from UK’s being in Lexington...but none came forward. No one knew when the Great Depression might end and so were unable or unwilling to help.
Athletic Director Barney Mitchell canvassed his friends and supporters over the years especially. The football program had a promising new coach; the basketball team was on the verge of greatness with an experienced winner—both and the nascent SEC were facing a bleak future.
When all seemed darkest, help arrived. A well known and long established local business secretly went to Mitchell with an offer. It was one of the few in Lexington that seemed Depression-proof. Mitchell hesitated, even though he knew UK students had long been customers of the business; even faculty and staff used its services. Some UK students even worked there. But...but should the University cross into new territory and the controversy it was certain to arouse?? No one else in the SEC had ever done this before. It was sure to cause a great outcry.
But, as things seemed to grow worse, the AD hesitated no longer. He talked with the President and they debated the wisdom of the move for hours. Finally both could see no other way out of the school’s financial problems. The President  directed the AD to announce this radical move.
Before a small gathering, 2 radio stations and both local papers, Mitchell stood before a lectern making his announcement:
“Stoll Field”, he said, “is to be return for a generous contribution which we direly need...for our students, for faculty and staff, and our future.”
“Hereafter, it will be known”...he paused, and slowly said "as Belle Brezing Field.”
(I'm just sayin' ...)

Monday, May 1, 2017

When One Vote Really Matters

I would hope that even the strongest advocate for the death penalty (I am not one) would have been appalled by Arkansas’ brutal plan to execute a dozen inmates in as many days recently...all because its supply of illegal(!) lethal drugs was about to run out.
Thanks to many problems, they only got to kill four...starting with one who denied his guilt and ending with one who convulsed a dozen times before dying—contrary to what the drugs were supposed to produce.
And all of this came about starting with a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court allowing Arkansas to go ahead.
Who cast that one deciding vote for death?
Guess who?
Right, Judge Gorsuch, newest member of the court—which had deadlocked 4-4 when the vacant seat hadn’t been filled.
Thanks, Mitch.
Speaking of matters legal...if you or I sold the same item to two different people, we could be charged with fraud.
Not the airlines.  
Thanks to Congress, they are entitled to sell the same seat to two (or more) people without violating the law...which is total crap.
The recent incident with United and the Kentucky doctor has prompted 2 airlines, so far, that say they will no longer “overbook”—that is sell the same seat two or more times.
Bully for them...may many more follow.
And let’s get to the “seat” of the problem...and get Congress to amend the law that allows them to do this.  We ought to be able to agree on simple justice and what would be right in every other business but aviation...and to get Rep. Andy Barr to support this change without yelling at him at his next (??) town hall meeting.
BTW, whatever happened to that old Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights?
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Thoughts On Recent News Stories

1-Conservative columnist Ann Coulter and I don’t agree often, but I just knew –when I wrote last week about how today’s students do not understand free speech and what it means---and used the Berkeley campus at Cal as my main example, that she would be next. Sure enough, students there threatened a riot if she was allowed to speak. The university buckled, then relented and said she could talk at another time and place. Ms. Coulter demurred, and may sue...and UC still doesn’t understand what Free Speech or Academic Freedom means.
You may get a better idea from 2 recent books: "Free Speech: 10 Principles for a connected World," by Timothy Ash; Yale U press, and even more so from “The Soul of the First Amendment," Floyd Abrams, also Yale Press. Mr. Abrams, a long time Free Speech stalwart, was also the counsel for the big corporations who won the Citizens United case...a rare fall from grace—but that’s my opinion, and that’s what the First Amendment is all about.
2—America is not the only country having problems with these issues—the individual vs. Society. Australia, a country entirely descended from immigrants, (except of  course for the original inhabitants who the newcomers pushed out) is about to revise its test for new citizens in a way  designed to keep immigrants out, especially Muslims.
Vice-president Pence just visited Australia, as part of his Pacific tour, assuring the PM there of our support---on foreign policy matters, but given the President’s views on such things, maybe on immigration, too.
3—on that same official state tour, Mrs. Pence got off Air Force 2 in Seoul wearing leggings. Some of you may remember that  before United Airlines dragged a Kentucky doctor off a plane for Louisville, it had turned away two young ladies who showed up for boarding wearing leggings.  Somehow I think Mrs. Pence would not have had any trouble.
4—And, as some wiser person said years ago, “the Past is always with us.”  Western Kentucky University's student government voted for reparations due to slavery and for “full and free access for all black people” and other groups. Is this carrying Political Correctness too far??? President Gary Ransdell said WKU will not follow the student resolution, but then he’s retiring soon.  Look for this topic to come up again and elsewhere in Kentucky.
5—Speaking of Kentucky’s history, some Lexington tv newswriter last week wrote of “the fictitious” Colonel Sanders.” Dead he may be, but “fictitious,"no. ...but it got on the air. One wonders how?
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Political Correctness Vs. The First Amendment - Or Whatever Happened To Free Speech?

Back in my college days, centuries ago, I was involved in a number of liberal activities...but none compared to those wild eyed radicals at Berkeley and the University of California.
They were truly wild, and they claimed credit for starting the “Free Speech” movement on college campuses.
I’m not sure that was right because ever since universities arose, about the 13th century, the entire idea was to investigate all things, discuss all things, wonder about all things...and not let political, social, or financial pressures from governments, churches, donors, or the schools themselves thwart free inquiry. One must hear from ALL sides of an issue before answers---“truth”—could be found.
What a turnaround recently!  At Berkeley, students rioted, yes rioted, in opposition to an avowed conservative speaker, and in the name of PC and free speech. What crap. And this has been followed at many schools across the nation, including UK and elsewhere in Kentucky. Now we hear such “liberal” schools as Berea and Centre may have opposition to graduation speakers on the same grounds...we don’t want to hear their views.  Hardly academic freedom.
And not very “politically correct” when one considers the views of our Founding Fathers.
I stand with Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia who said in a case involving some people suspected of the serious crime of treason,"Let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.”
That is true “free speech;”that is true “political correctness.”
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 10, 2017

The President Is Wrong; Senator Paul Is Right

Suppose North Korea fired a missile at our navy ships in the Sea of Japan; suppose a Russian sub off the East Coast fired a misile at Fort Dedrick, Md, where we culture and make nerve gases and germ warfare agents.
Wouldn’t we consider those acts of war?
In the same way, our firing missiles at Syrian matter what our justifiable outrage over nerve gas attacks on civilians—is an act of war by the US against another nation.
And the Constitution clearly and emphatically spells out how we declare war...ONLY by an act of Congress, not by another executive order by a president...who, like every member of Congress took an oath to uphold the Constitution.
Congress has failed in its oath, and legal obligation here for years, but when will it stop and when will “law and order” be restored???
Mr. Trump’s illegal act could lead to much worse consequences...such as more US “boots on the ground.”  Do we really want that?
Besides, it didn’t considerable cost to the taxpayers.  $60 million in Tomahawk missiles fired off, and within 24 hours the same airfield was up and running with Syrian and Russian jets taking off and bombing more Syrian citizens opposed to Assad.
Our “feel good” action may well come back to haunt us. Surprisingly, Russia has objected in terms far less than warlike and should be given some credit---for now. And Senator Paul’s quixotic foreign policy ideas were  right again...and even more so his plea to observe the Constitution.
Support of our Constitution should never be partisan.  I hope many of you will object to Rep. Barr and Sen. McConnell before the President gets the idea he can go further with his illegal foreign policy ventures...and the specter of atomic war once again threatens the it truly did not so long ago.
I'm just sayin'...