Thursday, October 23, 2014

Conservatives Prefer Propaganda

There is no great mystery why here. Right wingers have to lie. If they ever let the public know what they REALLY have in mind for ordinary Americans, it would be torch-and-pitchfork time for their sorry asses. But if you remain unconvinced, here’s the proof.

Fox News: The Poor Should be Denied Water

Remember, when you're gasping for water, be sure to tune in to Fox News. They'll be glad to say, “Fuck you.” And we have more late-breaking news. This just in from the Fox News Department of Compassionate Conservatism...

To Decatur With Contempt

In 1985, T.J. Malone of 444 West Wood Street in Decatur, IL, thought it would be a good idea to write a letter to Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post.
“Say, Cath, heard you and Ben B. were seen recently at a wild coke party, and someone noticed you both had a hammer and sickle tattooed in your butts.”
Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, who never took kindly to insults to Mrs. Graham, favored Malone with a reply.
“I have a hissing snake tattooed on my butt,” the former naval officer wrote. “And I don’t have a clue what Mrs. Graham has tattooed on hers. The president of the bank in Decatur, Illinois, is an old classmate and friend of mine. I think I’ll ask him to foreclose on your mortgage.”
In his memoir, The Good Life, Bradlee commented, “Childish, no doubt, until you realize that the polls so often cited to show public trust in the press declining include the views of T.J. Malone, and thousands of other nut cases.”

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Papers Vs. the Pentagon

Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee after winning a legal running in the Pentagon Papers battles

During June of 1971, in an unprecedented push for prior restraint censorship, the U.S. government had sued to block the New York Times from any further publication of the Pentagon Papers — documents which contained the real history of the Vietnam war that the American government intended to keep secret from the American people.
“The Justice Department went to court and got an injunction against the Times, restraining a newspaper in advance from publishing specific articles, for the first time in the history f the republic,” Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee recalled. The New York Times had been silenced.
Following a furtive conversation with his old friend Daniel Ellsberg at an untraceable pay phone, Washington Post National Editor Ben Bagdikian flew to Boston to meet with the Pentagon insider. On the flight back the next morning, Bagdikian had two first-class seats — one for himself, and one for the large cardboard box containing more than 4,000 pages of Pentagon documents Ellsberg had given him.
The Post’s journalists went into a frenzy of research, working out of Bradlee’s house, not the office, as they prepared to pick up one of the most important news stories of the 20th century where the New York Times had been forced to leave off. Equally frenzied and confusing were the discussions with the Post’s lawyers.
“For the next 12 hours, the Bradlee library on N Street served as a remote newsroom, where editors and reporters started sorting, reading and annotating 4,400 pages, and the Bradlee living room served as a legal office, where lawyers and newspaper executives started the most basic discussions about the duty and right of a newspaper to publish, and the government’s right to prevent that publication, on national security grounds, or on any grounds at all, for those next 12 hours,” Bradlee wrote. “I went from one room to other, getting a sense of the story in one place, and a sense of the mood of the lawyers in the other.”
Finally a decision had to be made, and Publisher Katherine Graham had to make it. They got her on the phone and laid out the situation. She paused, and then said quickly, “Okay, I say let’s go. Let’s publish.”
“I dropped the phone like a hot potato and shouted the verdict, and the room erupted in cheers,” Bradlee wrote. “The cheers were instinctive. In those first moments, it was enough for all of us — including, let it be said quickly, the lawyers who had been arguing against publication — that Katherine had shown guts and commitment to the First Amendment, and support for her editors.
“But I think none of us truly understood the importance of her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in the creation of a new Washington Post. I know I didn’t. I wanted to publish because we had vital documents explaining the biggest story of the last 10 years. That’s what newspapers do: they learn, they report, they verify, they write and they publish.
“What I didn’t understand, as Katherine’s ‘Okay … Let’s go. Let’s publish’ rang in my ears, was how permanently the ethos of the paper changed, and how it crystallized for editors and reporters everywhere how independent and determined and confident of its purpose the new Washington Post had become. In the days that followed, these feelings only increased. A paper that stands up to charges of treason, a paper that holds firm in the face of charges from the president, the Supreme Court, the Attorney General… A paper that holds its head high, committed unshakably to principle.”
Source: “A Good Life” by Ben Bradlee

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oo Tiss?

“Oo tiss?” a tiny voice demanded when I called the plumber one day.
“This is Tanta Twaus,” I said. “And Tanta Twaus won’t give you any Twissmas pwesents this Twissmas if you do not put Mommy or Daddy on the other end of this doddam apparatus.”
“Appawana?” asked the tiny voice. At this point his mother, like a woman in transport and on her third martini, grabbed up the receiver.
“He said ‘Appomattox,’ didn’t he?” she cried. “Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Madam,” I said, chilling the word. “The answer to the question I just put to your son is Waterloo, not Appomattox. The next voice you hear will be that of me, dying in the flood of broken pipes and the rubble of falling ceilings.” And I slammed up the receiver.
— James Thurber, “The Darlings at the Top of the Stairs”

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Snake at Twilight

The Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna argued that all things — chairs, mountains, people — are empty of any real being, of an inherent and independent reality.
His line of thought implied “…that there can be no difference between nirvana and the realm of cyclical rebirth (samsara). If everything is void of real existence, Nagarjuna reasoned, then in a profound sense everything is on the same footing, so one what basis can the distinction between nirvana and samsara be made? No difference can be found in things themselves since they are all ultimately ‘empty;’ the difference, therefore, must lie in our perception of them.
“The example is given of the person who mistakes a coil of rope for a snake at twilight and becomes terrified. When he realizes his mistake, his fear subsides and his desire to run away disappears.
“What is needed for liberation, then, Nagarjuna reasoned, is essentially correct vision — to see things as they really are — rather than to embark on a flight from one supposedly imperfect reality (samsara) to a better one (nirvana). Nirvana is thus reinterpreted … as a purified vision of what is seen by the ignorant as samsara. It follows that nirvana is here and now, if we could but see it.”
Of course, the opposite example also applies. We may unwarily perceive malevolent forces as innocuous things — as mere "cable news channels," for example.
 Source: “Buddhism: A Brief Insight” by Damien Keown

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Doctor Banner and Mister Rogers

The late Bill Bixby, the late Fred Rogers and Lou Ferrigno as the Incredible Hulk
Mr. Rogers visits the set of the Incredible Hulk. I interviewed children’s television star Fred Rogers about this, and about small children's psychological reaction to superheroes, for David Anthony Kraft's Comic Interview magazine in the 1980s.
A decade before, when the Hulk series started on TV, I had interviewed Bill Bixby, the star of the series, at a CBS press event for newspaper reporters. I’ll never forget how Bixby mixed me a gin & tonic in the Hyatt Regency hospitality suit. He was a kind, hardworking actor whose life was dogged by nearly as much tragedy as Dr. David Banner’s.