Posts Tagged ‘fear

16
Oct
14

On Ebola and the Media Panic Industry

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few weeks—and if you have, you may want to skip this and stay there where it’s safe—you may have noticed the media has a shiny new toy.

The Ebola outbreak which has reached our shores—infecting less than ten people—has our failed media experiment in a veritable apoplexy. CNN, looking for something to replace it’s 24/7 coverage of MH370 and recapture those golden days of summer, has joined MSNBC and Fox in providing a constant stream of information on the breakout. And by “constant stream of information”, I mean dialing the panic button up to 12 and reporting as if half of the country has been infected with the virus. Rather than a contained outbreak, this Ebola infestation is a new Black Death, scything through the population with grim glee.

Now, I know that it’s hard filling in the time between commercials. A news producer’s job is never easy. But there seems to be something disreputable about media organizations latching on to a very minor outbreak and building it up to be an existential threat to humanity. And, of course, the coverage was nowhere near as manic when the Ebola pandemic was restricted to west African nations. Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are facing real catastrophic consequences to their economies and social fabric; but, they’re far away, and in Africa, so not worthy of foaming at the mouth coverage.

Continue reading ‘On Ebola and the Media Panic Industry’

10
Jun
14

Whistling towards the graveyard

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From CNET: A bulletproof blanket seeks to shield kids during school shootings

Civilizations die from suicide, not  by murder.

- Arnold Toynbee

Let’s review a few news items from the past few days/months:

– A scofflaw rancher attracts a motley assortment of militia defenders threatening to shoot federal agents.

– A “sovereign citizen” in Georgia dies in a shootout with deputies while trying to take over a courthouse.

– Right wing extremists walk up to two Las Vegas police officers and shoot them, declaring the beginning of a revolution.

– A POW is released, and a sizable portion of the nation, instead of celebrating, rains down opprobrium upon the POW, his family, and President Obama.

And those are just off the top of my head. I could also include Senator Rand Paul tweeting that next time Pres. Obama does a prisoner swap, he should send five Democrats instead.

Things which were once beyond the pale have become commonplace, even excused. This isn’t something endemic solely to the Age of Obama. Oklahoma City happened on the watch of the previous Democratic president, who shares the trait of being demonized with Pres. Obama.

The pass in which we find ourselves has been long in gestation. It’s just been brought to gruesome birth upon the election and re-election of the nation’s first black President.

For close on two decades, the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and their cohorts on right wing hate radio and Fox News hate television have been providing a steady diet of outrage and conspiracy. But outrage and conspiracy are like heroin: each successive hit has to be more potent, has to up the high, as their acolytes seek to keep the outrage up, seek meaning for all the travails besetting them. Thus you get people like Alex Jones, who is more than willing to feed the addicts with ever more insane junk, upping the potency, wasting what’s left of their minds.

Continue reading ‘Whistling towards the graveyard’

22
Nov
13

The new meanness

One of the most popular shows on television is CBS’ “Two and a Half Men”. And I’ve often wondered at its popularity.

It is a very well-written and acted show, as far as it goes. But if you watch it for any length of time, you come away with a wretched taste in your mouth. It is, without a doubt, a show with characters who have no redeeming qualities. Everyone is gleefully mean to everyone else, reveling in cutting barbs and casual humiliation. Obviously, it’s a comedy painted in broad strokes, as sitcoms normally are. However, if you watch it on your local station in reruns before the prime time schedule comes on, you’ll be forgiven for wondering why anyone should give a damn about what happens to any of the show’s characters.

And yet, for more than a decade it has been one of the most popular shows on television. Before Charlie Sheen melted down, he was the highest paid actor on TV thanks to it. Millions of people tune in to watch a weekly display of dysfunction so severe that suspension of disbelief becomes increasingly difficult.

Obviously, you can’t judge an entire culture by the popularity of one television show. But here is another data point. Bloomberg has an article helpfully entitled “Obamacare Shows How Americans Are Becoming Jerks“. From the piece:

What’s clear is that the shifting views on health care predate the Affordable Care Act. The number of Americans who think health care is the government’s responsibility hovered around two-thirds for the first half of the 2000s, peaking at 69 percent in 2006. Then those numbers started falling, hitting 50 percent in 2010 and 42 percent this year.

The shrinkage of American generosity during that period wasn’t just about health care. The onset of the recession corresponded with a change in public opinion on a range of issues, and in most cases the effect was to make Americans less caring about others.

Starting in 2007, the portion of Americans who said the government should guarantee every person enough to eat and a place to sleep started falling, from 69 percent to 59 percent last year. People who said the government should help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt, fell from 54 percent to 43 percent over the same period.

Continue reading ‘The new meanness’

26
Jul
13

(No) fear of a black planet

I don’t remember how old I was; maybe 10 or 11. And I don’t remember what occasioned the discussion; possibly because my social circle was a rainbow coalition of different races, ethnicities, genders. But I remember what my mother told me one day: Yes, you have to fear all black people, because when we had just moved to this country, your father was mugged by a black man. And maybe I’m just imagining my response to her, all these years later, but to my recollection I didn’t let her say that without push-back. I questioned why I should fear an entire group because of the actions of one person. Although now I’m of the opinion that I am my brother’s keeper, I’m also of the opinion that at some point my brother must answer for his own actions. I don’t own them, only what I do and say. Likewise, the African Americans who come into my library shouldn’t have to answer for the bad decisions of another African American. At some point, we all have to stand alone before the world and justify our actions. The hundred are not responsible for the criminality of the one.

My mother has mellowed as she’s grown older. I’d like to think that my brothers and me have helped her see the ludicrousness of her fears. It also helped that her mother, my grandmother, shuffled off her mortal coil two decades ago; her skin was translucent, her eyes blue, and she made it clear that she was superior to anyone whose skin was even a shade darker than hers. She was the motive force of the racism in my family. But something happened at my library which brought that childhood incident back fresh into my mind.

Continue reading ‘(No) fear of a black planet’

25
Jul
13

This and That

Pete Souza: Pres Obama speaking in Jacksonville, Florida

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Steve Benen: AG Holder to fight Texas on voting rights

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act, Republican policymakers acted with remarkable speed – literally, less than 24 hours – to approve new voting restrictions, most notably a controversial voter-ID law.

When the Voting Rights Act was intact, changes to voting laws in the Lone Star State would need to be cleared with the Justice Department in advance of being implemented, but with the law gutted by a narrow Supreme Court majority, GOP officials in Texas assumed the Justice Department is no longer relevant, and they could do as they pleased.

The nation’s Attorney General apparently believes otherwise….

More here

And see TPM: Holder’s Move Against Texas Could Send The Voting Rights Act Back To The Supreme Court

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Steve Benen: Among voter-suppression bills, ‘This is the single worst’

Over the last few years, we’ve seen quite a few states take up new voting restrictions, immediately on the heels of Republican gains in the 2010 election cycle, so much so that the notion of a “Republican war on voting” was widely recognized and understood. After the 2012 elections, despite the failures of voter suppression, state GOP officials renewed their efforts.

But it’s probably fair to say we haven’t seen anything quite as astounding as the proposed restrictions in North Carolina. Barbara Arnwine, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said, “This is the single worst bill we have seen introduced since voter suppression bills began sweeping the country.”

More here

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BlackAmericaWeb: Is Anyone Black Enough for Cornel West?

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This really is beyond belief:

ThinkProgress: Ohio Plans Unspeakably Cruel Appeal Of Dying Man’s Last Wish

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President Obama tours Jacksonville port with, from left, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx; Dennis Kelly, TracPac Regional Vice President and General Manager; Ray Schleicher, CEO of the Jacksonville Port Authority, and Fred Wakefield, International Longshoreman’s Association Representative

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Text of the President’s remarks in Jacksonville today here

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President Obama talks with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx aboard Air Force One during the flight to Jacksonville, July 25 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Norm Ornstein: The Unprecedented, Contemptible GOP Quest to Sabotage Obamacare. What the Republicans are doing now goes beyond mere hardball politics – and could hurt millions of Americans affected by health-care reform.

And from Steve Benen: None dare call it sabotage

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President Obama reaches up to touch a media microphone while talking with people along a tarmac ropeline after arriving at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., July 24 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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ThinkProgress: Washington Nationals Use Teddy Roosevelt Mascot To Promote Obamacare

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USA Today: President Obama is declaring Saturday to be Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.

“I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor our distinguished Korean War veterans,” Obama said in a proclamation signed Thursday.

Obama will commemorate the event with a speech on Saturday at the Korean War memorial in Washington, D.C.

More here

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Pete Souza: Pres Obama signing photos backstage in Jacksonville




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