Friday, October 26, 2007

Ranting: Sometimes the Only Way to Get Attention

Crying in the wilderness and Ranting are both manifestations of frustration. As such they are examples of venting, a way to let off steam, relieve pressure. But the Crier and Ranter are also trying to draw attention to something important to them. As such they share the frustration of a child who throws a fit or a tantrum. All have in common the element of shock value. Sometimes shock is necessary to get attention.

The source of my frustration is the shamelessness of the rampant hypocrisy of those who want us to believe and trust that they are honest and honorable people who have the best interests of our nation at heart.

"Bullshit"!, Says I, in my Rant mode. "A plague o' both your houses" saith the Bard in his Rant mode.

I established this blog because I wanted a platform, podium or pulpit from which I could express how I perceive what is going on in our land. I tend to be drawn more to the forest than the trees, to a view of the so-called big picture more than today's details. That's my nature, and to the extent that what I have to say gains any credibility with the reader, it is likely to be with the reader who is sufficiently aware of the facts and details of today's reality, but also appreciates the pattern inherent in the details of day to day reality.

There are many valuable blogs, the authors of which focus on, if not specialize in, reporting what has happened daily and what is being said, written and shown on a daily basis.

" EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!!!" was the cry of the newspaper hawker on the street. "It" was the story behind the headline of that day's paper.

It's generally assumed that the so-called Main Stream Media is still looked to as a trustworthy, reliable, credible, honorable, honest and objective source of the daily news.

"EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!!!, was about selling newspapers, not blogs nor cable news. The advent of these two news sources gave rise to the term Main Stream Media.

That title is at least generous in its implication that the newspapers represented by that collective term reflect and represent the main stream of opinion.

Traditional Media would be a more accurate and honest label. It suggests what are thought of by many as positive and admirable qualities: historical, established, sustainable, recognizable, even reputable.

Of course the owners and editors of the MSM have opinions about what they report as the daily news. There is the editorial page, replete with the opinions of its editors, and usually includes a so-called Op-Ed page.

In this case Op might mean "opposite" in the sense that it is printed on the opposite page from the unsigned editorials. It might also mean or imply that what one reads on that page is somehow opposite of the opinions expressed on the editorial page. In practice Op seems to stand for Opinion, not necessarily Opposite opinion.

The most significant differentiator seems to be that the columns on the so-called Op-Ed page are signed and can be attributed to a particular individual, whereas the pieces on the Editorial Page represent the group opinion of the owners and editors of the institution which publishes the newspaper; in other words, their bias.

Now, there's nothing inherently bad about bias, though the word itself conveys a negative connotation. Bias includes opinion. But "bias" seems to connote "opinions" which have become grouped in such a way as to become so predictable that the holders of such opinions can be called, "opinionated".

Opinions, in the best sense of the word, are initial and perhaps tentative judgments about one's perceptions and initial evaluations of facts and events. As such opinions are open to and acknowledge that there are other opinions. Opinions beget and welcome discussion and dialogue, and are willing to suspend judgement.

There are those whose opinions are so one sided as to qualify as biased. They will use, spin, distort and quote out of context supposedly undisputed facts to persuade and convince the reader that they are the trusted and objective sources in which the reader should have confidence.

Of course this is not new to the history of our species. However, over the past several years of reading different opinions, I have found a disturbing increase in instances of factual reality being distorted, spun, quoted out of context, etc., with the clear intent of twisting facts to suit a bias; a pretty good working definition of propaganda.

I hasten to add that I have not found this to be peculiar to any particular political persuasion or party.

For what it's worth, here's my take on how and why bias has proliferated to such an extent that it feeds and encourages polarization of the citizenry.

The campaign for the Nov. 2008 election began soon after the Nov. 2006 election, and it's dynamics probably can be traced back to the Nov. 2004 election. So much has been made of the amount of money needed to sustain a campaign. That money corrupts, and big money corrupts absolutely, is a truism.

How to say this as clearly as I can. To the extent that politicians believe that they always have to make raising money for a campaign their top priority, and can't resist the temptation to campaign for the next election, the country loses the governing it deserves and for which it voted in it's most recent election.

We vote, politicians are elected to govern as they told us they would, then ignore the reasons we elected them, and start again, almost immediately to tell us why we should elect them again.


When do we get what we voted for?

That's the naive question of the day.

The sadly cynical, but reality based answer is, You Get What You Pay For.

Part of growing up is coming to terms with the admonitions of the poem Desiderata; in particular, and germane to this rant, "Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery".

It's easy to complain.

What I want people to think about has to do with the dominance of campaigning versus governing. I think it's more about the length of campaigns, than the money needed to campaign. If campaigns were limited in terms of weeks or months as they are in other countries, Germany and Australia for example, the need for raising money to sustain campaigns should decline in direct proportion to the length of time over which a campaign must be sustained. That's simplistic of course, and it would take some time for politicians to relax about how much money they needed to get or keep their jobs. But over time, a few elections cycles, perhaps limiting the length of campaign time might result in the voter getting more of what he voted for, than what he couldn't afford to pay for.

Our Founders gave us the best gift they could, based on their knowledge and understanding of history and their own times. Their bequest to us is the Constitution, a framework for a sustainable society, a big picture of what life should look like in a nation based on the principle of justice. What they decided upon and encoded in our Constitution came into being as antidotes to the injustices from which they and their fore bearers fled in England and Europe.

They were prescient in their awareness that they needed to identify, define, decide upon and reduce to written form for posterity some basic and immutable principles of a society, culture, even a country, essential to ensure the the health and survival of the land they had come to love.

The current president and vice president have acted more like those old kings than elected public servants. The do not wish to govern, but to rule.

Members of Congress are so focused on keeping their jobs that they are ignoring the erosion of the Constitution our Founders bequeathed to us.

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