Saturday, April 28, 2012


A newspaper photo I took on the Eastern Illinois University campus, circa 1976.
I always liked the guy-in-flight angle of this one, with the
flying saucer motif of the Frisbee picked up and echoed by the quad lights.

Paul '76

A photo I took of Paul Beals in the year we met, 1976.
He's looking out the window  of an apartment on the Charleston square
that I shared with Robert Corn-Revere.

Friday, April 27, 2012


A boy doesn't have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn't like pie when he sees there isn't enough to go around. 
— Edgar Watson Howe 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Reporter as Hero? Pull the Other One

“These aren't reporters or journalists — they are carnival workers with teeth whiteners, doin' what it takes to get you to not change that channel. They are blondes doing choreographed leg-crossing so you'll almost see all the way to Sharon Stone. They are millionaires so eager for the cash that they will do almost anything; say almost anything, show almost anything, to keep it flowing. 

Let's sing the chorus one more time: ‘These people are carnival workers.’”
—  Online observation

By Dan Hagen
Every other hero in American comic books was a reporter, once upon a time.
The idea of the “heroic journalist,” in this age of corrupt corporate media, seems like nothing but a bad joke, an embarrassment.
After all, what the American people see now is a corporate media overwhelming tilted right, and frightened of even challenging glaring Republican lies. When Rudy Giuliani lied on national television that we had NO domestic terrorist attacks under George W. Bush, ABC's “liberal” coward George Stephanopoulos was afraid even to call him on it.
The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethical code is, “Seek Truth and Report It.”  That cannot be reconciled with letting factual lies go unchallenged, no matter how corporate media apologists twist themselves into professional pretzels.
“In media today, even among journalists who entered the field for the noblest of reasons, there is an internalized bias to simply shy away from controversial journalism that might enmesh a media firm in a battle with powerful corporations or government agencies,” wrote Bob McChesney and John Nichols in “Our Media. Not Theirs.” “True, such conflicts have always been the stuff of great journalism, but they can make for very bad business, and in the current climate business trumps journalism just about every time.
“During the 2000 presidential race, for instance, major television stations argued against what one might think would be their own self interest. In their moves to exclude Green Party candidate Ralph Nader from three presidential debates, they guaranteed that controversial issues involving corporate power-including media conglomeration-would not be raised. Yet the exclusion of Nader also guaranteed that the debates would become duller-than-dirt agreeathons in which Al Gore and George W. Bush essentially invited viewers to turn off their televisions.”
“The most common and noticeable effect of the corporate noose on journalism is that it simply allows commercial values to redirect journalism to its most profitable position. As a result, relatively vast resources are deployed for news pitched at a narrow business class, and suited to their needs and prejudices; such news has come to dominate newspapers, specialty magazines, and cable television. Likewise, news for the masses increasingly consists of stories about celebrities, royal families, athletes, natural disasters, plane crashes, and train wrecks. Political coverage is limited to regurgitating what some politician says.”
And yet subtract two street-level newspaper reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, and the notion that President Nixon was running criminal dirty-tricks operations against the Democratic Party would have been just another "conspiracy theory." Always useful to remember that the first reason that conspiracy theories exist is because conspiracies exist.
And I have known a number of reporters as heroic just as those we used to see on “Lou Grant” in the post-Watergate era. And reporters continue to be murdered around the world for trying to report the truth. But the "Survivor" ethical culture of contemporary America does not nurture any kind of heroics. The idea of standing up for the truth is laughable to the corrupt men and women who run this country.
By the way, just as an aside, the last and only terrorist to strike the U.S. with WMD was an employee of George W. Bush who used U.S. Army anthrax to kill reporters and Democrats. Funny how everybody tries so hard to push that one down the memory hole.
Many of the problems in American journalism and the nation itself can be resolved if journalists would fulfill their first ethical duty, which is not to massage their sources or their employers. It is to provide accurate, relevant, verified, credible facts to the public.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


When you have learned something, my dear, it often feels at first as if you had lost something.
— George Bernard Shaw

The least activity of the intellectual powers redeems us in a degree from the conditions of time.
— Emerson

There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
— Will Rogers


To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
— e e Cummings

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
— Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's Wrong with Fox News, Vol. 3, Part 6,796

Fox News host Steve Doocy is forced to admit he fabricated a quote from President Obama.
Ahem. What have I been saying all along, people?

Speculation Without Hesitation

By Dan Hagen
Wanted: New panic to fill immediate position.
Ideal candidate will be trumped-up, distracting, alarmist, jingoistic and fundamentally speculative. Apply with references to CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
It may have come to your attention, good citizen, that news is no longer about verified, objective facts that happened in the immediate past. It's about speculative, agenda-driven fantasies that most likely won’t happen in the immediate or distant future.
For example, why is the corporate news media always full of meaningless, hypocritical “demands” made by people who can’t enforce them and never expect to? Don't we have more relevant topics to discuss, such as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
Fact-free fatuousness is peppy and cheap, and those are two things that the corporate media like. The gasbaggery provided by amoral airheads like Chris Matthews is also a deliberate way to burn up the media oxygen so that little ACTUAL news is covered. Real news incommodes corporations.
Having abandoned their real, professional journalistic watchdogs by the side of the road, Americans can now be counted upon to howl in petulant indignation as they overtaken, without warning, by a string of disasters and criminal usurpations of power.

In the Best Light

Photo by Gary Denton
The oil painting "Aspen Spring" is by Larry DeGraff

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What's Wrong with Fox News, Vol. 3, Part 6,795

Remember, the metaphoric use of the term "war" is the exclusive property of Fox News. They use it constantly in propaganda to make ludicrous claims of right-wing victimhood, but relentlessly ridicule anyone else who tries to use it.

I've Got Your "Liberal Media" Right Here, Pal

By Dan Hagen
The progressive Howard Dean once made a funny noise in the middle of a screaming rally, and was instantly and universally declared unfit for office by the corporate media that looped it, amplified it and replayed it incessantly.
The scream scene was shown some 633 TIMES by cable and broadcast news networks in the four days following the incident, and that doesn't include talk shows and local news broadcasts. But those who were in the actual audience insisted that they were unaware of the "scream."
Yet people like the right-wing extremist quitter Sarah Palin and her loony counterpart Michele Bachmann can make inane, fact-free, ludicrous remarks, and be sagely discussed as serious presidential contenders.
Their batshit-crazy pronouncements are made to vanish down the memory hole as soon as they’re babbled.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Tame, Tame West

The difference between America now and America in Wyatt Earp's day is that in Wyatt Earp's day, he took away people's guns by law. Then, when they got drunk, they didn't have them.
The Earps’ ordinance #9 was put into effect on April 19, 1881. This regulation forbade the carrying of weapons, including knives, inside Tombstone city limits.
So it's official. American society in the 21st century is loonier than the wild, wild West.

They Play the J'Accuse Game

Blinded by the Stars

“Celebrity news” is something to keep all the little American citizen-frogs distracted, docile and drowsy as the heat in their pot heads up toward the boiling point.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's Wrong with Fox News, Vol. 3, Part 6,794

I recently sat down and spoke with an acquaintance of mine, trying to get a grip on what people are thinking about the future of our country. He said he will vote for Mitt Romney because, "we need a business person to get our debt down." I asked where he got his news, and after trying to deflect from the question, the answer finally came. "I don't pay attention too much, but when I do, I watch Fox." Fox News is the primary source for information for millions of Americans across the country and that's where the problem starts... — Robert Sobel

Continue reading on Misinformed USA: Why average Americans vote for Republicans - Orlando liberal |


Illustration from

In the Land of the Free

Alternet has details. Bloomberg is determined to prove this cartoon true.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Intelligence: The Virtue That's MIA

By Dan Hagen
The four central virtues for the Stoics were intelligence, bravery, justice and self-control.
Note that Christianity simply ignores the first, and doesn't pay too much attention to the other three, either.
These people are not developmentally disabled in intelligence. They are emotionally and intellectually self-blinded because they have surrounded themselves with a plutocratically puppeteered culture that devalues and even sneers at education, and because they surrender to puerile fears that encourage them to refuse to accept the adult responsibility of critical thinking.
During the 2008 election, for example, thanks to a relentless GOP propaganda campaign aimed at know-nothings, craven and wretched reporting and the general willful, thundering stupidity of the American public, what we were offered as "issues" were such topics as Hillary Clinton's capacity to sob, Barack Obama's middle name, the fear of his "secret Muslim religion," whether he and his wife indulge in "terrorist fist bumps," and his bowling score.
According to the corrupt corporate media and the clueless Tea Party, THIS was what the cretin voters in this country wanted to discuss while deregulated financial fraud collapsed the world economy.
If ignorance is slavery, then Fox News is a whole damn antebellum plantation.
"The mess in Washington!" "More bang for the buck!" Those are among the empty slogans screenwriter Budd Schulberg suggested could be used to easily fool ignorant Americans into voting for people who intended to harm them.
In 1957.
Self-destructive, willful ignorance is a venerable American tradition. A culture that despises education and intelligence has to relearn by the hard knocks of bloody conflict what it could have remembered by reading.