Wednesday, January 30, 2019

We All Do It But...

Jump to conclusions that is.

Seems to be human nature, but that’s no excuse for trained journalists to do so.
Yes, I’m talking about the “CovCath” students in DC.
When I first saw the smiling young man standing so close to the drum-beating elderly man, my reaction was: who is he? Why is he smiling, but saying nothing? Who is the drum beater and why is he beating his drum?  Who are all those noisy people in the background and where is all this going on?
These are the questions reporters should ask, and many did, but a little late. Meanwhile people everywhere seem to have jumped to their own conclusions about those answers and gone on social media to tell the rest of us what the “answers” were, when, in fact, they didn’t know---either. (One lady blogger in San Francisco, telling the world she actually lived in Brazil, had a lot to say---mostly wrong...but she somehow got on the news.)
And now the media messed things up even more.  Not having trained journalists at the scene, we fell back on reporting the video as interpreted by social media reports, from people, not there as well. It took awhile, several days in fact to get things straightened out, at least some semblance of “the truth” all of which was not helped one whit by a statement put out by the Catholic diocese in Covington whose officials hadn’t been there either.
To the media’s (belated) credit, when complaints came in, and experienced minds prevailed, interviews with the participants got the “real” story (whatever that turns out to be) going, and a better approximation of what actually happened.
The media often quotes social media, many times it has to since no journalist was there at the time, but it needs to make very clear the “attribution” of those reports and views. (That’s  an old J school maxim, but often overlooked these days---to all of our disservice.)
Local case in point. Monday when Adam Edelen filed for governor (after Bevin had finally filed Friday) one local anchor reported "and the field is set over on the GOP side,too.”)  I fired off an e-mail to her saying "Not til 4:01pm tomorrow,” which was the filing deadline, and, sure enough some guy neither she nor I had heard of did file against Bevin.
My message is clear: resist all those jumps to conclusions, evaluate the source of the information, give it some time...things do tend to get corrected, it’s just that we can screw things up early on.
Remember, we’re all only human.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, January 21, 2019

Some Words In Praise Of CBS's Sunday Morning

“Here begins something new.”
Charles Kuralt spoke those words as he began CBS’s “Sunday Morning:, the best news program on the air; yes, better than 60 Minutes, or Frontline or Nova (and that’ saying a lot!)---certainly the best news program on commercial networks or cable.
I don’t remember if there were news magazine shows before Sunday Morning, perhaps so, but it has outlasted and bested them all...and next Sunday will observe its 40th year on the air.It’s worth a watch, week in and week out, regularly, and certainly on the occasion of this upcoming anniversary program.
Kuralt, and his producer Robert Northshield's idea was a Sunday newspaper on television, with feature stories, opinion columns, hard news reports, coverage of the arts, and more; the things you get in a good Sunday edition, only on TV. It has succeeded wildly. Some programs are better than others, but I can’t remember ever seeing a bad one, and I’ve seen many of them.
They have special, themed programs too, as do Sunday papers, especially in their special sections. Few could eclipse when Kuralt took the program live to Moscow, when famed Russian expatriate, Vladimir Horowitz, went home after many years to play a concert. What a concert it was!  You can still buy CDs and DVD's of it. Other themed programs have been on Design and Money and Food. (And my favorite, the end of each year’s look back at the people we lost along the way.)
Staples of the program are an Almanac, a detailed backgound cover story on some current news topic, outstanding coverage of the arts, and the piece that ends the program, a natural sound only nature report, which may be bugling elks at mating season, or our own Red River gorge.
After 40 years, Sunday Morning is still “something new” and always something outstanding.  Do watch Sundays at 9, when the trumpet sounds.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Happy Ratification Day!

Today, Monday, Jan. 14th is our Ratification Day; the day the Continental Congress approved the Treaty of Paris with Great Britan, ending the Revolutionary War, and legally establishing the 13 colonies as the United States of America.  Not the same as July 4th, but a much more significant day in our history than the attention it isn’t given.
So how far have we come this “greatest nation in the world?”
Well, let’s remember our democracy in 1784, a truly radical experiment, was a work in progress.
Each MAN was created equal, we told the world, thanks to Tom Paine and John Adams, and Tom Jefferson, and it was “man.”  Women didn’t vote. Blacks, even “3/5ths” of them didn’t vote. Not all white men voted; in many states/colonies you had to have “property” to vote.  “Indentured servants” (remember them?) didn’t vote. Sharecroppers didn’t vote, and, I hate to remind you, in some colonies certain religions couldn’t vote. (Those notorious Quakers among others, those quiet, most peaceful people you could find, yup, no voting for them.)
Well, OK, property requirements to vote soon fell away; so did religious tests. but it took 150 years for women to get the vote. (And by one male vote, BTW, in the last state to ratify, Tennessee.) Looking back from our wisdom of today, how in the world did that happen?  150 years!!!
And, I submit, blacks still are not 100% free to vote given the restrictions imposed by some states still, though not always Southern. And by attempts, by both parties, to gerrymander every election district they can get away with.
And as to Hispanics (the “black man” of today,) they are often found fighting to secure the vote.
(I won’t even go into what we did to American-born, Japanese citizens during WW2.)

And BTW, every person who fought for the Colonies in our Revolutionary War---every single one of them---was an immigrant. Please think about that when you hear calls to shut our borders, or make entry much more difficult, to those fleeing oppression or who seek a new life in our land---as those who fought in 1776 so often did.
All of this by way of both saluting Ratification Day, and reminding us that America is still a work in progress; a work that calls us to keep trying to live up to what the Declaration of Independence promised.
We could start by eliminating the Electoral college, which makes one Kentuckian’s vote NOT equal to the vote cast next door in Ohio, or Indiana, or Tennessee. We could demand the House (and especially the Senate) reform their  rules so that one man, even if he is a Kentuckian, can  not block new laws by refusing to bring them up for a vote. (Remember, before that one man was a Kentuckian, he was a Nevadan, and he will be again.)
We can overturn the Citizens United Decision of the Supreme Court which said that MONEY is free speech, and that while I am not a corporation, a corporation is me, a person entitled to the freedoms of every American citizen, including spending secret billions to elect people as our last few elections have actually done.
Yes, on this Ratification Day, we Americans have a lot to be thankful for, and a very lot to do to truly make this “a more perfect union” and the “greatest country in the world.”
Let’s have at it!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Some Thoughts At The Start Of The Year

After the ill-considered (and UNnecessarily expensive special session) the legislature is back in town for its 30 day session. Since regular sessions are less costly than special sessions---and better equipped to handle any issue—it is past time for another Constitutional amendment.  The legislature should be given the power (only the governor has it now) to call itself back into session, and it should not limit itself to 30 days every other year, but have “regular” sessions each year.
It should plan now for the 2020 elections but establishing a nonpartisan commission to handle drawing of state and federal election districts, with their results to stand unless overturned by an extraordinary majority of both chambers.
Another Constitutional amendment needed; eliminating the “dueling” provisions which makes Kentucky the laughing-stock of the nation every four years.
Every session some items come up which are important, which need to be taken care of, and which few thought of beforehand. Case in point: a report this week from a  national humane group that Kentucky ranks dead last in laws caring for our pets. Did you know that veterinarians are FORBIDDEN to report cases of suspected animal cruelty? Why on earth would we have such a law? What group would lobby for it? Why would lawmakers pass it? Get rid of this one right away!
Gossip—I stress gossip—says Bevin may not run again, possibly awaiting a call from Trump for a DC office. If he waits until the last minute to file, his party, and all of us voters, would be behind the 8 ball. It’s good someone has filed, but changes in the filing law are needed, including moving the date back closer the primary.
Meanwhile a major candidate, Adam Edelen, has filed for the Democratic governor's race. But the state’s largest paper, the Courier-Journal, didn’t cover his announcement, even though he has a prominent Louisville man as running mate, using a small Associated Press story instead.  This is bad journalism, and unfair to the candidate and voters. The Herald-Leader did a major article, and a 2nd one on the Lt. Governor candidate.
Yet both papers, AP, and most media do NOT cover properly or fully the “perennial” candidates, such as Geoff Young (mentioned but not his running mate)—even though they are legal candidates and could win.
Primary candidates should be required to state their party affiliation in their ads, which many did NOT do in this year’s election.
And so on and on it goes.  Frankfort has much to do this year (did I mention pensions, funding schools, roads??) Annual sessions would be one way to make Kentucky a more modern state, one able to handle its problems more effectively.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Some Thoughts At Year's End

There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
2018 seems to have brought to an end the use of a phrase which never was true where aerial bombing was concerned, "surgical strike.” An official survey by the US reported that in the 4 years the US has been involved in such bombing in Syria, a MINIMUM of 1100 innocent civilians were killed. Almost everyone connected to this survey believes the real number is higher but the US now admits to such killings, which to me are murders, pure and simple. We had no reason to enter the war, under Obama, or continue it—so far—under Trump. No Congressional Declaration of War, as the Constitution requires, for just one example. Now we admit one of the gravest errors of that decision. For all of us who didn’t object, for our Kentucky Congressional delegation—which didn’t oppose it---this is just one of the consequences; and blood on all our hands.
There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
Congrats to the UK football team for its bowl win.  All season long our achilles heel has been pass defense, and it nearly cost us this game.  All season long, Stoops has not been good at time management, as it is called, especially near game’s end. This time he did it right and it saved his hind quarters.  (They will debate the field goal vs going-for-it for years at Penn State).  BTW, let’s not forget what that win also means for Coach Stoops; I think his contract calls for a $250,000 bonus, maybe more.
There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
Kentucky law required people to register in a party to vote in the most important election of all—the primary. I know the reasoning, but why then do we allow candidates to run campaign spots withOUT indicating which party they belong to??? In the run-up to the November election I saw one, maybe two spots of the zillion on tv that listed the candidate’s party. One or the other of these situations should change.
There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
Of the many despicable things Pres. trump has tweeted about recently the most despicable (as well as false) was to blame the Democrats for the deaths of the two children who died in government custody at the border. The policy of separating kids from parents is a recent—and Trump administration policy—as outgoing Chief of State Kelly admitted in a recent news story, blaming it on A/G Sessions. Both parties, historically, have much to answer for as to our truly bad immigration laws, but this one’s father is The Donald.
There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
Doesn’t anyone proof read any more?  TV Guide informed us this week that last Sunday’s CBS 60 Minutes program was being hosted by Lester Holt. It wasn’t and the longtime NBC evening news anchor may have been even more surprised than anyone at CBS.
There is no excuse......
I'm just sayin'...