Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

School of Journalism

I used to listen to the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) at work when their Radio 2 service offered a classical music stream with news on the hour, and when I lived in an area where I could get the CBC on TV I’d watch their evening newscast “The National” hosted by veteran broadcaster Peter Mansbridge.  He’s been doing the program for as long as I can remember and he’s always been a calm and professional journalist.

That talent came to the forefront on Wednesday when the shootings occurred on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.  Mr. Mansbridge anchored the live coverage on CBC TV and, in contrast to the hair-on-fire broadcasts we get from the cable channels here in the U.S. with correspondents breathlessly telling their anchors that they have no news but there are rumors about the color of the suspect’s cat, he did his job the way it should be done.

MANSBRIDGE: And so, the situation is, as we say, tense and unclear. And it’s on days like this—we keep reminding you of this and it’s important—it’s on days like this, where a story takes a number of different pathways, a number of changes occur, and often rumors start in a situation like this. We try to keep them out of our coverage, but when they come, sometimes from official sources, like members of Parliament, you tend to give them some credence. But you carefully weigh it with what we’re also witnessing. It’s clear that the situation is not over. It is clear the police are in an intense standby situation and continue to be on the lookout, and until somebody blows the all-clear on this we will continue to stay on top of it and watch as the events unfold.

Over at CNN, Wolf Blitzer has breaking news about a bag of snack chips.

There Goes The Neighborhood

This is why the French had a revolution.

Dear Prudence,

I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday? But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?

—Halloween for the 99 Percent

Dear Halloween for the 99 percent:

“Dear Abby” had the answer to a similar situation: “You could move.”  May I add, go shove a Three Musketeers where it will do the most good.

Stupid Question

A Green Bay, Wisconsin, alderman is in trouble for asking a Muslim woman if she had denounced terrorism after she wrote him to ask about bus service.

Heba Mohammad, a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate, emailed Alderman Chris Wery to ask why bus service is not free on Election Day.

Wery replied to say he would look into it, and then proceeded to ask Mohammed about terrorism, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

“I am just curious, you are the founder of the Muslim Student Association at UWGB?” he asked in the email. “Across the country there seem to be some problems here and there with some MSA’s. I just want to be assured that your group in no way promotes or defends militant Islamic ideology.”

“Do you and the MSA condemn both of those as well as terrorist groups such as HAMAS?” he then asked.

Mohammed was taken aback by Wery’s questions and did not answer him.

“That’s kind of hurtful, to be honest,” Mohammed told the Press-Gazette.

Ms. Mohammed should have asked Mr. Wery that because he’s a white Christian, has he condemned the Ku Klux Klan?  What’s his stand on lynching?

Second Amendment Solution

Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst — she of the pig castration fame — says she’s ready to stand her ground.

In a newly released video from a 2012 National Rifle Association event, Iowa Republican senate candidate Joni Ernst said that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.

“I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important,” Ernst said at the rally, which was held about a month after James Holmes allegedly murdered 12 people in Aurora, CO.

I get the part about defending herself against an intruder, but from the government?  Does that mean she’s going to pull a gun on a cop that gives her a ticket for a busted taillight?  Draw down on the census taker or the IRS?

Paul Waldman asks the same question.

The problem with this new quote is that it borders on anti-democratic. I don’t care how many times you praise the Founding Fathers or talk about your love of the Constitution, if you think that the way to resolve policy differences or personal arguments with the government is not just by trying to get different people elected or waging a campaign to change the laws or filing suits in court, but through the use of violence against the government, you have announced that you have no commitment to democracy. In the American system, we don’t say that if the government enacts policies we don’t like, we’ll start killing people. It’s not clear that Ernst meant this, but it’s fair to ask her to explain what she did mean.

There’s a real chance she could be the next senator from Iowa.  Do the good people of Iowa really want someone who thinks the best way to protect themselves is by having gunshots flying?

Thursday, October 23, 2014


As a contributor to Shakesville, I got to know some of my fellow contributors only through the blog and the backstage e-mails we exchanged.  That may seem like a remote way to make friends, but often the bonds that grow are as strong and meaningful as meeting in person.

I got to know Phil Barron as a warm and friendly person and a great writer — two qualities I aspire to.  So I was stunned and saddened to hear that he came down with a sudden illness earlier this week and then passed away yesterday.

I hold him, his wife, his family, and our community that loved him in the Light.

Early Voting

I don’t mean early voting as in at 4:00 a.m.; I mean the two weeks before Election Day:

Why wait? Vote early!

Early voting allows for two weeks of voting before Primary or General Election Day at one of 25 convenient locations. Registered voters can go to any early voting location.

If you’re here in Miami-Dade, go here to find out a location convenient for you.  Not only will you get to vote at your leisure, chances are that the phone calls and solicitations from candidates will stop.  Win-win.

HT to Bryan for the reminder.

Not For The Young

Schools are supposed to teach kids to be on the lookout for people who are scary and talk about sex in an inappropriate way or ramble on about death and doom.  Apparently they do things differently in Alaska.

It’s safe to say that students at a Wasilla, Alaska high school weren’t expecting their congressman to talk to them about bull sex at an assembly Tuesday morning.

The Alaska Dispatch News reported that students and staff at Wasilla High School said U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK) “acted in a disrespectful and sometimes offensive manner to some students, used profanity and started talking about bull sex when confronted with a question about same-sex marriage” during his 60-minute appearance.

When one student asked Young why he thought same-sex marriage was so bad, the congressman responded: “You can’t have marriage with two men. What do you get with two bulls?” according to Wasilla Principal Amy Spargo.

Witnesses told the Dispatch News that Young’s comments on suicide also stunned the assembly, as students and staff were mourning the loss of a Wasilla student who took his own life last week. Young mentioned alcohol and depression and said that suicide shows a lack of support from friends and family, according to the witnesses.

Mr. Young has been the one and only congressman from Alaska since it became a state in 1959.  Nothing against old people, but I think it’s time he found something else to do and another place to do it.

We Tried That Before

Via Raw Story:

A conservative columnist and former aide to President Ronald Reagan called on southern states to secede and form an ultraconservative new nation named after his old boss.

Douglas MacKinnon, a former speechwriter for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, appeared Tuesday on The Janet Mefford Show to promote his new book, “The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country … Now,” reported Right Wing Watch.

He told the religious conservative host that southern states – starting with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – should leave the United States so they can implement a right-wing Christian system of government.

MacKinnon envisions other states joining, but he hopes to leave out Texas because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”

We tried that before about 150 years ago and it didn’t work out so well.  Anyway, if he wants to have a country without gays and Hispanics, he can forget about including Florida.  But we have other plans anyway.

Like He Cares

If Chris Christie is annoyed at being asked about the minimum wage, Rick Scott is indifferent.

In a gubernatorial debate Tuesday night, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was asked whether he supports the concept of a minimum wage.

“Sure,” he replied. But when asked what it should be, he responded, “How would I know — I mean, the private sector decides wages.”

I suggest we fire him so he can find out how the private sector decides wages.

Short Takes

The latest on the shootings in Ottawa.

Four former Blackwater guards found guilty in killings in Iraq.

Academic fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina.

Another fence-jumper at the White House; tackled outside this time.

Suspended South Carolina House leader to plead guilty to ethics charges.

Tropical Update: TD Nine heads east from the Gulf for Yucatan.

Royals even Series at 1 each by beating the Giants 7-2.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014