Archive for April, 2009
FOX New’s Sean Hannity’s reviews are in. And, wouldn’t you know it? The media, according to him, and without a shred of evidence of bias, is star-struck about President Obama’s inaugural trip to Europe. First, Hannity presented on April 6 a blog quote from a London Telegraph writer he called Iain Murray. Actually, it’s Iain Martin and his post is here. In the first part of this clip, Hannity says the writer portrayed Obama as a “wind-bag” but conveniently, and to further his cause, left out a sentence by the Telegraph writer:
The Obamas have handled their trip well and in their public appearances have been a credit to their country. But I’ll wager that within a year or so he’ll be marked down as a wind-bag. — Iain Martin, London Telegraph
One of Martin’s points in the column was that Obama wasn’t the storied orator as many folks in America have purported. Fair enough. But Martin did compliment Obama’s visit, and Hannity didn’t feel it convenient for his argument to mention this.
Hannity’s other point is shockingly telling. After putting up this quote:
Obama presemted himself as a ‘new kid on the block’ … As a newbie who still had a lot to learn. — Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Hannity quoted another piece from a different German newspaper, saying:
Obama’s words have a certain degree of humility to them and sometimes even a slight meekness … Obama is not trying to make himself look like an important global leader but instead is taking pains to speak in a clear and direct manner so as to avoid problems. — Suddeutsche Zeitung
And Hannity’s conclusion:
Well, aren’t you just grateful that cowboy diplomacy has been replaced by meekness. Definitely the change we’ve been waiting for.
I’m sure Hannity got his sarcasm orgasm for the day out of that line, but actually, yes, I am glad cowboy diplomacy has been buried for at least four years. Cowboy diplomacy killed thousands of Native Americans, it trampled over numerous lands under Great Britains once imperialistic nation and it recklessly got us into a war in Iraq of which we are still clambering to get out.
Further, the religious right should applaud statements similar to those Hannity quoted from the Suddeutsche Zeitung, if they really believed the Bible:
Matt. 5:5 Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
This is the third step, Meekness: to endure with patience and without anger or resentment. The release of ego and pride indicates the awakening of a divine Spirit. — http://www.thenazareneway.com
But Hannity seems to scoff that someone would describe Obama as meek. Why is that? Doesn’t Hannity represent the conservative, largely evangelical point of view? To many, I’m sure he still does, but to the rest of us, his live and let die mentality shows through quite clearly. Thus, meekness, and in turn, Christlikeness, has no place in Hannity’s America.
Since it touches on philosophy and astrophysics, at least to some basic degree, I thought I would write a short review of the new movie, “Knowing,” with Nicolas Cage. First, here’s a brief rundown of the plot:
Cage plays an astrophysics professor who, after losing his wife, seems to have concluded for himself that life is nothing more than a series of random accidents and that there is no structure, rhyme, reason or determinism to life. Even so, this conclusion is clearly troubling for him as he seems to wrestle with it nightly with a liquor bottle in hand. His son, Caleb, becomes the recipient of a time-capsule message left by a student 50 years prior who heard whisperings from a then-unknown source telling her the dates and death tolls of future events. Cage’s character attempts to crack the code, which appears as a series of numbers on a page, and when he does, a fellow colleague thinks the death of his wife has taken him over the deep end and tells Cage to abandon his theory that the note was foretelling future events and leave it alone. Caleb later starts hearing voices too, as does the other child in the story, who is the granddaughter of the girl who wrote the original coded note. Cage, being the crack astrophysicist that he is, discovers that a solar flare will occur at a specified time, thus destroying the earth. In essence, a character who once said life had no ultimate determination seems to reach different conclusions. Things just get zany from there, so without giving away too much, that’s the crux of it.
First, if you see the movie, you’ll likely be most impressed with the special effects. They are remarkable, especially the last couple scenes. The storyline itself is interesting at first, but as the plot goes along, it just gets more and more bizarre. There’s seemingly no attempt by the American government or any other to do anything about the solar flare, to prevent or lessen the damage. (I’m no expert, but that’s assuming something could be done to minimize or lessen the damage from such an event.) Further, the filmmakers could have come up with a more plausible earth-destroying event, perhaps a gamma ray burst or a wayward meteor. We at least have an asteroid headed near our orbit on April 13, 2029. The chances of us taking the last train out of town via a solar flare is next to zilch, at least not any time soon. And that’s probably the biggest hit against this movie:
[SPOILER] It’s as if the producers were clamoring for a way to somewhat happily wrap up the plot and fell back on allowing some mysterious outside “force” taking the two kids up in a space pod to start a new life elsewhere, in a new Garden of Eden, if you will, complete with fields of heather and a tree of life-esque tree at the center.
Thus, if you watch want to check this out for nothing more than to be entertained and for the special effects, it’s probably worth the box office price. But if plausibility is important to you, the movie will likely leave you confounded.
When I previously worked at The Clayton Tribune, a local weekly newspaper in the Northeast Georgia mountains, we had a fellow there who handled the sports beat. To the extent that he handled it well is up for debate, but such as it is … He covered the local high school and recreation sports for us. Quite often, he would write about his alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University, in his sports column. Now, aside from the then-athletic director who actually attended to MTSU, needless to say, this writer’s columns about his old school didn’t really have much local interest in our neck of the woods. Our coverage area doesn’t even extend to the adjoining county, much less a state over. That said, neither did some of my maniacal rantings about the wrestler, Booker T, or the Denver Broncos or Mike Tyson or Cocoa Puffs or whatever zany stuff I was spewing at the time carry much local interest. Some of that is archived at the above link, so by all means, enjoy (as I carry heavy sarcasm in tow).
Thus, as few of you care anything about the Broncos, I’m sure, I offer this about the debacle in which Jay Cutler and the Broncos find themselves. As of late, this seems to be the most publicized story in the NFL at the moment and certainly the most publicized for the Broncos’ since they won the Super Bowl in the late 90s.
Here’s how it goes: the Broncos’ new coach, Josh McDaniels apparently pursued a trade for Matt Cassel, and Cutler got steamed about it. As in the post provided above, some folks said Cutler was being a cry baby and a whiner and should have kept his mouth shut. Regardless, silence ensued. The Broncos couldn’t get in touch with Cutler for 10 days, and the quarterback missed some workouts, etc. The Broncos then found out that Cutler wanted to be traded. Denver was apparently happy to oblige.
Now, the national media prior to this foolishness, seemed to paint Cutler as a hero who, despite having diabetes and having to check his blood sugar level multiple times during games on the sidelines and the like, was a role model for others who had diabetes that they could achieve a similar level of success. First, I think he can be great some day, perhaps sooner than later. But he’s not there, and that was clearly on display last season. Maybe that was why McDaniels was poking around looking for greener pastures.
Despite all the media attention surrounding this story and the color commentators touting Cutler as a hero, I thought a lot of the guy. He had an Elway-esque ability to scramble out of the pocket and a rifle arm, which is something I will sorely miss if the Broncos decide to go with a more pocket-style quarterback. He also was candid. And I think that’s also something that will be sorely missed.
Many players when interviewed spew the same tired talking points and clichés handed down for decades, but Cutler was/is different, and he provided a breath of fresh air, regardless of whether one is talking about sports or politics. (Political side note: We need leaders with spines, not robots.) Cutler provided that in his own sphere of influence, and he should be lauded for it. Whether his action or inaction in speaking with McDaniels and owner Pat Bowlen about staying the team was right or wrong, we must leave that open because, despite all the reports, no one truly knows what went on behind closed doors.
But now, we do know this. Cutler is now a Bear, and as a quasi-Bear fan, I’m not dissatisfied. (I was a child and one of my first memorable NFL experiences was watching Chicago topple New England in the Super Bowl. Also, William “The Refrigerator” Perry is a Clemson University alum, and Walter Payton, in my opinion, is one of the greatest.) The addition of Cutler will give a huge lift to the Bears’ offense and provide a level of rocketdom at the QB spot the bears have missed for ages. As for the Broncos, I don’t see Kyle Orton going down as a great in the Denver record books. The team will likely try to pick up a first-round or third-round QB draft pick, and my hope would be that the pick would play the same kind of movement game for which Cutler is known.
I don’t normally do this because, even if FOX News is the victim in some essay or argument, I figure, “Heck, they had it coming.” And they do. But because partisanship just for the sake of partisanship gets us nowhere as a country, I reference this article posted today by mediamatters.org, which is a watchdog group that scopes out “conservative misinformation — news or commentary that is not accurate, reliable, or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda.”
The organization typically gives folks like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the like a pretty hard time — and deservedly so.
Today, the Web site claimed a list of seven FOXfacts, informative bits of information given by the channel during its news segments and interviews, were nearly identical to points made by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a Wall Street Journal column.
Here’s the seven points from Ryan’s column and the accompanying FOXfact from a recent interview with Ryan in parenthesis:
- “The Republican budget achieves lower deficits than the Democratic plan in every year.” (GOP budget: Achieves lower deficits than Dem budget in every year)
- “Under our plan, debt held by the public is $3.6 trillion less during the budget period.” (GOP budget: Debt held by public $3.6 trillion less during budget period)
- “Our budget gives priority to national defense and veterans’ health care.” (GOP budget gives priority to natl defense and vet health care)
- “We do these things by rejecting the president’s cap-and-trade scheme.” (GOP budget rejects the president’s cap-and-trade scheme)
- “Our budget does not raise taxes, and makes permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax laws.” (GOP budget doesn’t raise taxes; makes permanent ’01 & ’03 tax laws)
- “Capital gains and dividends are taxed at 15%, and the death tax is repealed.” (GOP budget: Capital gains and dividents taxed at 15% and death tax repealed)
- “The budget permanently cuts the uncompetitive corporate income tax rate.” (GOP budget permanently cuts corporate income tax rate)
So, here’s the rub. Either Media Matters doesn’t understand what colons mean when writing headlines on news stories or FOX News doesn’t. When a headline, for instance, says, “Bush: Mission accomplished.” That means Bush said the mission was completed. So, whatever is on the right side of the colon is supposed to be a very succinct summary of what the source actually said or thought. In the above example, colons seem to be used without rhyme or reason. Typically, a writer or editor would use them to tell the reader about some editorial point or opinion held by the source, like this: “Bush: Presidency was the best.” That would imply that Bush said he thought his presidency was tops.
In this example, it appears that points 1, 2 and possibly 3 and 4 have a twinge of opinion or contention to them, while 5-7 are likely quantifiable. Hence, points 1, 2 and possibly 3 and 4 should have all included colons after “GOP budget” to suggest that FOX wasn’t saying these things outright, but those were assertions of the GOP’s plan. But, point 3 has no colon, while point 6 has a colon for seemingly no reason. (In actuality, one could argue that all the points need colons because the budget is simply a plan and FOX has no way of knowing whether the GOP’s claims will actually come to pass or hold water. Thus, the channel can’t accurately state such claims as facts.)
Regardless, for Media Matters to claim that FOX was merely stating as fact what Ryan had previously written in an opinion piece is a little misleading because FOX did add the colons to a couple of the more editorial-leaning points. But neither is in the clear because neither seems to see the distinction between a news headline with a colon and one without. Details matter, even two vertical dots. And perhaps that makes the entire Media Matters post and the FOX News report null and void. Of course, of the latter, we knew that from the get-go.