Friday, April 30, 2010

On the Links

Good analysis of the Tea Party movement in the American Spectator:

Powerline on the death panels:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Creek of Consciousness...

It’s been a wonderful spring on Wildcat Creek. Reminds me of the phrase that used to be (maybe still is, for all I know) on the mast of the newspaper in Springfield, Missouri: “’Tis a privilege to live in the Ozarks.”…Ironic to see Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Ramon Villaraigosa trying to tell the city’s unions there’s no more money. Villaraigosa got his start as a union organizer…Weekend Wall Street Journal had a compelling interview with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who lead the country’s Tutsi minority against genocide. He’s not interested in foreign aid; rather, the future, he says, is in supply side economics and private investing. Are you listening, President Obama?...Heard somebody say the other day that they like getting information on the internet via video. Not me. Takes too much time. I’d rather skim and scan. Or read the transcript…Quick trip to Van Buren, Arkansas, Saturday to watch Union Pacific Railroad’s historic steam locomotive No. 844 chuff through. Like a classic car. But bigger. Much bigger. And loud…The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I’m married went to California for the weekend to help daughter Amber move. Here she is helping to prepare Amber’s house…Continue to work on the U. S. Senate campaign for Randy Alexander. Lots of candidates for Senate and for our Third Congressional District. In fact, if you’re from Arkansas and you are reading this, you and I are probably the only ones not running…What is it about Oklahomans? Nicest people in the world. Somebody has described Okie road rage as two people at a four-way stop sign, each trying the wave the other one through first. Even the Transportation Security Administration people at Tulsa airport are pleasant: “You all have a good day and a nice flight,” they smile…Leftist “worries” about Tea Party violence are laughable. Tea Party demonstrators are too busy cleaning up and leaving the site of their demonstration better than they found it…It began with the Reagan years and for the most part continued for about a quarter of a century: prosperity, real free market prosperity. Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton knew not to tamper with it. Alas, George W. Bush got cold feet about it with the bank bailout. Now Barack Obama works to destroy it. It was a wonderful time, a time in which the rich got richer and the poor got richer, too…The health care bill is not the first time Democrats have stiffened resistance against themselves. The Fugitive Slave Act they championed in 1850, which compelled all U. S. civilians to aid in apprehending escaped slaves, fueled the abolitionist movement in the North.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Parties: the Next Step

Couldn’t make the Tea Party rally on the Fayetteville, Arkansas, square yesterday.

Had to work.

There were several hundred reported to be in attendance. The Cutest Community Organizer to whom I’m married was there. She got drafted at the last minute to give a rendition of a poem on taxation she had come across

Of course, the Cutest Community Organizer was dramatic. As she has been known to be. She told me she got everyone snapping their fingers like real ‘50s beatnik poets and then she recited/sang her poem. Like I said, I wasn’t there, but she did a performance for me last night after I got home from work. Funny stuff.

Today there’s not a lot in even the conservative blogs about yesterday’s Tea Party rallies around the country. Somehow I’m not too surprised. I’ve been a part of the movement since I attended the first rally in Fayetteville exactly a year ago yesterday. I volunteered to be involved with the local Tea Party organization and eventually ended up on its board of directors. After briefly serving there, I resigned along with another board member to be involved in that board member’s campaign for U. S. Senate. A third board member resigned to get involved in a separate campaign and a fourth board member considered resigning to run for political office. Even one of the founding members of the local Tea Party did not stay in leadership in it long; she now has a fulltime job as a statewide conservative grassroots organizer. Non-board Tea Party members are devoting time to poltical campaigning.

That’s part of the future of the Tea Party, I think: it’s going to be a gateway organization to funnel people into political campaigns/offices or into established political organizations. Many Tea Party people, including those of us in Washington County, have become active in the local Republican Party. They, at least, will tolerate us; the Democrats, I’m sure, would not. After all, some Democrats have been quick to use typical leftist tactics against Tea Party opposition: “Dissent? Isn’t that another word for racism?”

There are attempts to nationally meld the local Tea Parties into one organization. That effort doesn’t seem to be going very well. That’s because the Tea Party is still in the grassroots “movement” stage. It’s a movement, not an organization.

Movements tend to go in one of two directions. Either they go through a fairly short life cycle, driven by the emotion of their cause, then sputter and disband when the emotion dies down. Or they organize and take on an institutional life which provides the mechanism to advance what they believe in. A classic example is John Wesley leading the pietistic Christian movement called “methodism.” After he died, the movement institutionalized into the Methodist Church.

Although our local Tea Party is highly organized, I’m not sure if that’s happening around the country. If anything, what I see crystallizing is ultimately not a national organization but a rallying point.

That rallying point is the Constitution.

People are reading it, studying it, and making plans to find ways to return the country to following it. If it’s not happening already, I envision study groups will begin springing up around the country to focus on the Constitution and the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

As a result, I’m not disappointed that yesterday’s Tea Party rallies may not have been as large as last year. Or even that attendance is declining in our local monthly meetings.

The Tea Party has brought people together, showed them they are not alone. Now folks are putting their efforts elsewhere: into other organizations, into political parties, into running for office.

All working to restore the Constitution.

Will the Tea Party continue? Perhaps, as a universal rallying point, as a clearing house of some kind. Or as something no one has yet grasped.

And if the Tea Party is no longer drawing the crowds like it did at first? No big deal. People are engaged, deeply engaged.

It’s Tea Party 2.0.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Confessions of a Recovering Journalist Part Two

In my relatively short career as a journalist, there came a day when I was unprofessional.

Very unprofessional.

That’s because that after interviewing a political candidate, I told the candidate that I supported his candidacy.

That was very unprofessional.

However, there were no other reporters around, no members of the public were there, no one was present except the candidate’s entourage. It was just a one-on-one interview between me, a radio reporter, and the candidate whom I had tracked down at a Missouri airport.

Yes, I told him I supported him. But with essentially no one there, I felt no guilt.

And I’m glad I did it.

That was back in the day when reporters at least feigned some kind of objectivity. It was nothing like the era of Clinton or the era of Obama, where journalists have become the de facto public relations arms of the candidates they cover.

The President sexually harasses an intern, lies about it under oath, then gets himself impeached and what happens? A pack of journalists jump up to protect him, to go after those prudes making the accusations.

And Obama? Don’t get me started. Journalists slobbering over themselves, having their legs tingling, running out of adjectives to describe the messiah. Anybody who dares ask the hard questions like journalists are supposed to do is labeled a racist, an enemy of the state, perhaps a domestic terrorist.

Or gets his or her reputation slashed like Joe the Plumber or Sarah Palin.

What happened to the real reporters?

What happened to the guys who always believed that everyone – everyone – was attempting to manipulate, lie to, take advantage of, and use them?

“Your mother says she loves you? Better check that out,” they would say.

And they were only half-joking.

What happened to the guys with the healthy suspicion about news sources? New sources in the real reporter’s mind, always want one thing: their point of view in your newspaper or on your airtime. Period.

Of course they can have their point of view in our paper or on our airtime. They just need to talk to the advertising department about it and they can pay to distribute most any message they want. You pay, you say. Otherwise, it’s my job as the reporter to frame the story in as fair and objective and truthful way as I can. And that may not be exactly the way the news source wants it.

Too bad. I’m not here for you, Mr. or Ms. News Source. My allegiance is to my readers/listeners/viewers.

That’s why some reporters went to great lengths to portray objectivity. Some of them would go to the extreme of even not voting. Because they knew they trafficked in one thing: not newspapers sold, not broadcast ratings. They knew their stock-in-trade was credibility.


Without it, how can we report the news?

That’s a big reason why the mainstream media is dying today. It’s not entirely the new technology or the defunct business plans, although that’s part of it.

It’s because the news media have sold their souls to their own agendas. And those of the people they cover.

And, given what their role is in the Republic, they’ve become very unprofessional.

As I was that day back in 1976 when after an interview I told a tall, genial Californian that I supported him.

I was unprofessional. I admit it. But had anyone else been around to witness it, I would never have said what I did.

But I did. And I’m glad.

Because the candidate eventually succeeded in his quest and became one of the world’s great leaders.

The candidate was Ronald Reagan.

And to this day he still has my support.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Confessions of a Recovering Journalist Part One

April 4, 2010
In my younger days I used to commit journalism.
While being a university professor is the best job I’ve ever had, being a journalist was probably the most fun.
What’s not to like? Just hanging out a lot, meeting interesting people, being the first to find out something, getting backstage passes.
As I say, what’s not to like?
I only did journalism for about five years or so: two newspapers, some radio stations and a cable television operation.
And instead of being referred to as a journalist, actually, I prefer the word “reporter.”
Reporters are guys who pal around with cops, judges, and aldermen. While they’re all friendly, sort of, reporters aren’t afraid to write critical things about cops, judges, and aldermen. If the reporter is fair, the cops, judges, and aldermen recognize that just as their jobs require them to be tough with people, the reporter has a job to do, too.
It’s all very professional. Everybody has a role to play.
Journalists? I’m not sure what they do. Go to grad school, I guess. And try to make journalism into a “profession” like law or medicine.
Given a choice between a journalist and a reporter, I’d rather read what a reporter has to say.
Best compliment I ever heard for a reporter was at a newspaper. Referring to a thin, middle aged reporter, the assistant editor said something like: “Don is old school. He can turn out a story with a cup of two-day old coffee and an old beat up typewriter with only 12 keys that work.”
Don was a reporter, you see. Not a journalist.
At any rate, I describe myself as having once been a journalist because not many people remember what a reporter is any more. Reporters have gone the way of bottle openers, floored-based car dimmer switches, and those old beatup typewriters.
But I miss those guys. And there were some sharp women among them, too.
If we still had reporters, someone before last year’s election would have asked Barack Obama the tough questions.
And then, from a haze of cigarette or cigar smoke, one of those reporters in their rapid two-fingered hunt-and-peck typing style would simply have written what Candidate Obama said.
And Obama would be found wanting.
And things would have been different.
It would have all been very simple.
No messiah. No swooning journalists. No tingling legs.
The fourth estate would have done its job.
Reporters would report. You would decide.
I miss those guys.