29 October 2008

This or That?

So here we are... less than 30 days and counting. And what do I think? I think... what I usually think. I think there's a reason that I rarely actually register to vote. I recall when avoiding that civic duty was enough to get me out of jury duty. Sigh. Ahhhhhhhh, those were the days. Doesn't work that way anymore... darnit.
Back to the topic at hand: presidential elections.

I have friends who have never been able to see beyond the history-making involved in this election.

I have friends who don't seem to see beyond what it will do for them.

I have friends who, at this moment, seem to be resigned to their fate as far as who will be leading this country.

As for me personally... well, I did see someone promising an awful lot of stuff in his speech accepting his party's nomination. "If you've got health care, I'll get it for you cheaper. (HUH?) If you don't have it, I'll get you Congress' health care." (DOUBLE HUH?? In case you aren't aware, friends, we can't afford for Congress to have Congress' health care.)

But I'm a reasonable person who understands that Congress sets the taxes and spends the money in this country. So this doesn't particularly bother me.

I am a little concerned that one of the candidates admits he is under-experienced about the economy. But in consideration of his opponent's level of experience in the federal government in general and foreign diplomacy in particular, I'm less concerned about that.

What I do see is that electing one of these two could give the economy and consumer confidence in this country such a boost that it might help lift us out of our doldrums. It might motivate banks to start lending, businesses to start investing, consumers to start spending, and otherwise get the dollars circulating again.

And if it doesn't, I'm willing to let that particular candidate ride down into the volcano.

I recall about 16 years (count with me... "4 administrations ago? Oh yeah, I remember who!") the election of a brilliant (but morally flawed) man into the White House. The saying then was "It's the ECONOMY, Stupid!" And for the American voting public and him, at that time, it was.

And so it is again. Except the economy is a cyclical thing. I think if Bill Clinton were truly honest, he'd admit that. He knows it. (Why shouldn't he admit it? A month or so ago, he admitted that Democrats in Congress were responsible for the mortgage meltdown. He's gotten some honesty streak in him... belatedly.) His election signaled a younger crowd and new generation riding into Washington. It cheered the voting public.

But again, mostly, he rode the economic cycle upwards. It would seem apparent that we're hitting a downtrend that will likely last a year, possibly two more. So if the man who seems likely to be elected according to the national polls does win, I say good for him. Let him try and goose the economic mood upwards a few notches. If he does, then he deserves to win. But if, as seems more likely, his "boost' is short-term and the recession is here for a long and ugly haul, then it'll be interesting watching that next president ride it into the volcano.

As a member of the press, I'll happily trot up to the edge of the thing to get a better look.

14 October 2008

In Fairness...

So there they are: the Ladies of The View. It started out as Barbara Walters' innocuous little daytime program inhabited by four women of various opinions and ideologies. But it didn't stay that way for long, did it?

There was Rosie O'Donnell, who scrapped her way to an early out by fighting so viciously with "poor little Elizabeth Hasselbeck" that no one could doubt the air kisses and friendship on air were exactly that: on air.

Rosie left, and Whoopie arrived to fill out the frame. Now we get a daily dose of Whoopie, Joy Behar, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Sherry Shepherd, and sometimes Walters herself. And the ladies topics have uptick'd, too.

Elizabeth was gone one day this week and to "level the playing field," Walters brought in E.D. Hill from Fox News. Nice, huh?

Except that maybe Walters' math is a bit... off. It's been known to happen among us "media types." Let's take count.

Whoopie Goldberg, who last week suggested that all the banks in this country just drop the interest rates for all those homeowners facing foreclosure. Just drop them. Drop the rates. Drop the profits. Drop the corporate responsibility to all their shareholders. Just drop it.

I'm going to venture out on a limb and chalk her up in the liberal cue.

Joy Behar, who if you've watched any of the shows at all, is so firmly behind Barack Obama as to be almost out in front of him. Same category.

Sherry Shepherd, who has set records for apologizing for statements (often about the other Ladies) spouts off most frequently in favor of Barack. (Isn't it a bit obvious if you're calling someone by their first name?)

Ms. Walters also seems to weigh in particularly in favor of Mr. Obama's candidacy.

By my count, that's four against one. Since Ms. Walters says she was "leveling the playing field" by bringing in E.D. Hill, I must say that's a huge compliment to the often beleaguered Hasselbeck, if Walters thinks four on one is a "level field" in any game.

10 October 2008

"It's the Economy, Stupid!"

So... it IS the economy. Stupid!

Ha! Okay, but enough is enough, right? Lately, it seems we are all caught up in the pain of watching the markets meltdown.

Or at least some of us are. Others are watching what they believe is the meltdown being brought on by the media.

Some folks say this is being made worse by all the negative reporting going on. Television newscasts that nightly run dramatic "Economic Meltdown" banners while sounding the alarm with very serious background music and the newspaper photographers who seem to capture the most unimaginably negative facial expressions plastered on traders faces as the days events transpire. (Seriously, folks, for all we know, the photograph above was taken when someone dropped a cardboard tray containing four Starbucks cups and a donut. "Not the donut! Catch it! Catch it! For the love of Heaven, CATCH IT!!")

Just now as I walked past my television, NBC interrupted afternoon programming once again to give us the news: The NYSE closed down.... again. It lost another 100+ points.

I must admit that after a week in which the American stock market has lost about a quarter of its value, I don't think that the market being "off another 100+ points" is necessarily news.

I've heard one piece of good advice in the last couple of weeks: don't check your funds and accounts daily. Avert your vision to something more positive. I've found that helps.

Last night's local newscast on the Los Angeles ABC affiliate featured interviews with people who lived through the Great Depression. I know they were trying to be helpful. The interviews all said "This isn't nearly as bad as that." But somehow the knowledge that they were bringing these people forward and reminding me of that very difficult time made things seem all the more painful.

It's a difficult time. We all know that. In the coming weeks, we may see even more painful financial times. (I have no idea. I am NOT a financial analyst, nor do I *ever* claim to be one on TV.)

But better days are ahead. The government's rescue program will have effect on the credit markets. Life will improve once again. And then I think we'll all hope that perhaps this moment in time has it's one potentially positive effect: making Americans respect their earnings again.

07 October 2008

Where Is that Fat Lady?

Did I miss something? Did I fall asleep and wake up in December? Because I don't remember an election where the Big Faces on tv seemed more inclined to suggest that "it's all over."

I think this is somewhat amusing because I remember all the times that the networks have banded together to steadfastly promise not to call the results too early in the evening, before the states where polls closed last (ie Pacific Coastal States) had finished their voting.

And I remember eight years ago when were were all stuck covering "The Election" for an interminable two months. I think that was possibly the worst.

But here we are. It's early October. And I'm getting the impression that some folks are inclined to say it's over.

I got a note over the weekend from a friend on Capitol Hill. He said he was depressed because the Ohio Atty. General was "allowing early voting using same day registration with no id requirements and no polling place observers permitted, at least not Republican observers. The Dems are literally picking vagrants off the streets and running them through the polling places."

I'm a little skeptical of that report, but it is interesting.

And then there are the polls showing McCain to be sinking. It's hard not to think the worst, particularly when Mr. McCain threw in the towel in Michigan, signalling to anyone who is watching that clearly, blood is in the water.

I hate to see this ending when it seemed to be engaging the minds of so many. Plus, I wonder who is going to buy all those ad hours if the political campaigns go away? Maybe those media folk ought to learn which side their bread is buttered on, and button it up with the dire predictions for a few more weeks?

03 October 2008

I've Been Talking to God, and Man Is He Ticked!

Have you noticed how much God is in our conversations these days? Well, maybe not yours. But definitely in the public discussion. And look at him in that picture. He looks anything but happy about it.

I don't mean discussion as in societally, we're actually talking about religion, spirituality, the Greater Good or the spirit of the rocks that some folks pray to. (I live in California.)

I'm talking about the use of the word God.

A few years back, the words "Oh my God" weren't used in general conversation. They certainly weren't acceptable in use by the media or on television shows for impact. They weren't usable anymore than any of the "Seven Words that You Can Never Say On TV" inaugurated by the late George Carlin. (I checked. None of his "7" are 3-letter words.)

I remember not so long ago when Deborah Norville, Jane Pauley's ill-fated replacement, was practically drummed off the air. One of the gripes that viewers had was that they didn't like her tendency to exclaim "Oh My Gawd!" whenever she was surprised by something. Viewers felt it was disrespectful, irreverent and flat-out wrong for her to do that on air.

But these days, thanks to a bunch of little girls that were never famous for anything other than being famous, we hear it everywhere. We hear it on little girl tv. (Think about it: you know which shows on what network I'm talking about.) We hear it on the occasional newscast. And at the moment, it seems to be on a constant loop at CBS where the season premiere includes the death of one of the major characters (That's what happens when the actor playing the character is caught in a drug bust that is believed to be beyond simply "going to rehab.") and the final 2 seconds are another character sounding an agonized "Oh my God!!!"

I work with men all day long. Many of them are brilliant. Some of them are profane. I recall working with one particularly talented man who also swore a lot. I never minded until one day, he fixated on the same word all day long. It was in every sentence. It's a verb, so sometimes he conjugated it differently, but still I grew tired of it.

At 2pm one fine afternoon as we worked in a small room editing the visuals of the story, he got frustrated one more time and shouted that same profane word at the machine. I looked at him and said "Joe, (not his real name) you know I don't care about your swearing, but pick a different word. I don't care what you say but PICK A DIFFERENT WORD. You have worn that one out. I need variety in my swearing! Break it up for me!"

I'm reaching burnout on "Oh my God." And the "God" word in general. I can't be the only person out there who is offended by all the "Oh my God" references going on. I'm a little surprised that TV networks haven't suggested that executive producers red-line that reference because it is potentially offensive. And when I get offended, I tune out.

And as for me, I'd like a return to that gentler age when God was someone whose might we respected, whose Second Commandment we respected, and whose other children we respected by not shouting potentially offensive things about God to them.

Because You Know Who might just get ticked off by the whole thing.