I like politics. I hate punditry. I’m interested in the way public policy is conceived, debated, and implemented. The ins and outs of political sausage-making fascinate me. Theoretically, at least. In practice, the problem is that the only way to keep up with the K Street wheeling and dealing of our elected representatives is to consume some manner of (and I use the term loosely) news. And right now, there’s no such thing.
The tenor of the national conversation tends to be such that reasoned debate or thorough reporting never actually happens. The television replaces it with shrill, shrieking talking heads who take turns yelling at each other and making disingenuous attempts at “balance” by having shrill, shrieking talking heads from the opposing political party yell at them. And then they cry. I’m not calling out for some standard of objectivity, or news outlets. A certain amount of lean or bias is an inescapable aspect of the human condition, and as long as they own up to it I’m fine with that aspect of the media. I know that in the early days, political reporting was done by the most viscious of partisan hacks and I don’t see a big gap between the libelous pamphleteers of the 1700s and Fox news, say. And that doesn’t bother me
Bias is fine, but at least give us some reporting somewhere in between the shouting and bullying. Even if it’s biased reporting, give us some facts and some depth not just regurgitated talking points and press releases. Whether its the conspiracy theories and calculated histrionics of the Glenn Becks, the aggressively dismissive shouting of the Chris Mathews, or the smarmy condescension of the Rachel Maddows, watchers of news get nothing but punditry. Blogs are even more brazenly partisan, and the echo chamber effect means that links and links give lots of cross-pollination but outside of a few serious outlets there is even less room for actual reporting. Newspapers. meanwhile are heaving the last choking sobs of their death spasms.
As fake news becomes the only palatable outlet for keeping up with the day-to-day political landscape, Americans lose something important. As much as I love the Stewarts, Colberts, and (to a lesser degree) Mahers of the world they are a poor substitute for substantive news reporting, told in manner meant to educate more than it entertains.
So it looks like the the music makers and the dreamers of dreams are taking it to the streets. The WGA is striking and couch potatoes across the country are freaking the hell out. No one seems to know how long it will last, but it’s a certainty that the networks will be foisting more reality television on us.
I’m more of a movie fan (even though I do watch a a lot of TV) so it’ll take a little while before I really feel the effects because the studios have stockpiled a mountain of scripts to get themselves through the labor action. Hopefully they’ll get everything sorted out before I have to stop going to the movies because there literally isn’t anything to see.
I am a little bummed that the Daily Show and the Colbert Report will have to go into repeats, because there won’t be any writers to turn the events of the day into topical sketches. The only thing left to watch would be the interview, which is my least favorite part of the whole affair. I will also feel the pain once Heroes runs out of ready to produce scripts, but the way the season has been progressing so far, it’s a loss I think I can bare.
My first thought when I realized that the strike was a reality was “Oh well. Now I’ll have even more of a chance to catch up on old shows from Netflix.” I’ve got about a million seasons of a thousand shows in the backlog. I may even up my discs per month until the strike plays out. Which really is kind of the point of the whole strike.
It seems everyone has something to say about the most recent congressional sex scandal, in which Idaho senator Larry Craig was arrested for soliciting some hot man on man lovin’ in the men’s room of the Minneapolis airport. Why is it that the dog days of August always seem to bring out the sexual peccadilloes of the high and mighty? Last year we had the fun and games surrounding the Mark Foley sex scandal, and then there was the great Condit affair which broke in August of 2001 and involved not only sex but murder as well. Not to mention the Long Dong Silvering of Clarence Thomas (Summer 1991) and the granddaddy of them all, the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal. Is there something in the air that makes those who walk the halls of power into horny bastards in the summertime? Or is there something about the news cycles that makes this kind of thing more likely to break at the end of summer?
I don’t know. But as far as the most recent example of political perversion, I understand the impulse to come down on Craig for being a hypocritical asshole. He did plead guilty to soliciting sex from a man after having voting for the Defense of Marriage Act and otherwise acting as a family values type while cruising the crappers of our nations capital in search of man-love. It’s always fun to watch hypocrites get outed for their hypocrisy, especially when they are conservative and the scandal that brings them down involves toilet trysts. But have you looked at the actual complaint?
It’s ridiculous. The officers state that he tried to solicit sex by means of salacious foot-signaling.
At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area.
Now even if it is true that the reason Craig tapped his foot so saucily was not, as he claimed, because he “ has a wide stance when going to the bathroom” but rather to indicate that he wanted to get it on with the guy one stall over, what’s so wrong with that? It is now a crime in this country to indicate to another adult that you are willing to have sex with them? I’m not saying that we should turn our nation’s restrooms into bathhouses or advocating that we give the larger handicap stalls at airports over to gay orgies but where is the harm in tapping one’s foot? The whole thing is just ridiculous. Is Senator Craig an asshole and a hypocrite? Almost certainly. But that doesn’t mean that Minneapolis should be wasting valuable police resources in elaborate bathroom sting operations in the hopes of exposing hypocritical congressmen.
Hypocrisy is bad. Cheating on your wife is bad. Tapping your foot in a bathroom stall is a ludicrous charge. There’s no real sex scandal here. How could there be? There was no sex to call scandalous. Which is not to say there isn’t something fishy about Senator Larry Craig…
Nevertheless, we heterosexual men should take care lest we send the wrong signals to rabid homosexuals and find ourselves embroiled in a similar scandalous debacle as Senator Craig. I used to keep a grey rag in my pockets because the job I worked meant my hands got dirty. If the signals are this subtle, what are we telling others? It turns out that I had inadvertently been telling the world that I am into bondage by waving my (unknown) freak flag. I shall have to be more careful in the future.