Shut off the Set, Open your Mind?

television 3The Sin City Siren posts an article decrying the lack of quality reporting on LGBT issues in Nevada; what the heck… I’m going to go further.  I’m going to expound on the possibility that the current media (some in print and more in broadcasting) isn’t all that informative and we’d probably be better off shutting off the TV and hustling down to the public library.  The pontificators are becoming altogether entirely too predictable.

Sequacious Sycophants:  Having never had an original thought in their adult lives, our Sequacious Sycophants are pleased to talk about, muse upon, and otherwise parrot the well prepared themes devised for them by their ideological masters and mistresses.  From the right, having long ago decided that an African American, any African American, cannot approach the intellectual level of his or her White contemporaries, the President must be “bumbling, stumbling,” unable to function without a teleprompter, easily duped, and dependent upon the assistance of others.   Pick a topic, almost any topic, and the Sequacious Sycophant is pleased to blather on about how the Administration is stumbling, bumbling, lurching,and grasping at policy issues.   This, in observation of an Administration which has reversed the recession, revived the automobile industry, wound down actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, made better opportunities for equal pay for women it’s first legislative initiative, enacted the first major health insurance reform in decades, and is currently keeping the U.S. out of complete entanglement in the Syrian mess.

From the Left, having decided that former presidential candidate and current Senator John McCain is a “flip flopper,” a maneuver  he performs well and often, not much else is required.  All that appears to be essential is to find some video of the Senator saying one thing and then offering his latest verbiage on the subject.  This is easy. Too easy. The least difficult posts I’ve ever written were the old “deck bass” flip flop pieces.   One of the more strenuous was the post pointing out that McCain’s general bent is militaristic, it was laborious trying to find background information because few authors had attempted the lay the groundwork for this analysis.

Suggestion: Instead of listening to the Sequacious Sycophants,  lope down to your public library and check out Christopher Clark’s Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914.  While it may not be the “best ever” writing on diplomatic history before the Great War, it is one of the better ones, and should dispel any delusions that all diplomacy is necessarily rational or linear.

Stridulating Sensationalists:  Certatogyrus marshalli aren’t the only ones capable of making shrill noises by rubbing body parts to make un-ingratiating sounds.  Melodramatic anchors are equally capable.   Witness, CNN talent Blitzer asking the President to speak to the camera and address President Assad…and then witness comedian Jon Stewart eviscerate the moment.

If Blitzer were the only anchor pumping up the volume, if not the content, of explicating contemporary issues we’d be in better shape. Unfortunately, he is only one among many teasing major questions with hyperbolic palaver.

Suggestion:  Shut down the stridulation, and pick up a copy of Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality, “…It is not uncontrollable technological and social change that has produced a two-tier society, Stiglitz argues, but the exercise of political power  by moneyed interests over legislative and regulatory processes. “While there may be underlying economic forces at play,” he writes, “politics have shaped the market, and shaped it in ways that advantage the top at the expense of the rest.” [NYT]  Not exactly riveting drama, but a good answer to the technocrats from both ends of the political and economic spectrum.

Hysterical Histrionics:  One needn’t be loud (although it may help) to be a hysterical histrionic, even tones can be employed to announce the imminent demise of American civilization.  Evidently some people simply don’t have enough drama in their lives, and therefore some must be manufactured and foisted off upon the rest of us.

Blustering, irruptive to the point of stammering syllables, reductive to the borders of irrationality, all topics — no matter how nuanced — are compacted so that the Hysterical Histrionic can “discuss” them to his or her self-satisfaction.  Most of this ilk have forgotten the fact that most problems have more than merely political ramifications, but politics is easier and more convenient to debate, so discussions involving the economic implications or the social consequences are dismissed as “uninteresting?”  MSNBC has a collection of these, Fox has an impressive assemblage, and CNN is right in the mix.

Suggestion:  Instead of bounding from wall to wall with the head-banging hand wringing Hysterical Histrionics, take part of an hour to read William R. Polk’s article, “Your Labor Day Syria Reader, Part II,” in the Atlantic magazine.  While you may not agree entirely with the analysis — your blood pressure should resume a normal range after reading it.

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