Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WE’RE ALL WINNERS AND HEROES


August 31, 2011

Who came second? Third? Last? Splendid. You may not have won but the important thing is you’re still a winner. Have a medal. A diploma. An award. Have whatever you like, perhaps a gilt cup or a money prize, because you deserve it, my friend, you won even if you didn’t and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Boy, wouldn’t you hate to be one of those pathetic losers.
Okay, let’s seek out a loser to jeer at and poke with a sharp stick. Finding one’s not easy. Where have they all gone? None around, only winners...
And then there are these other, lesser, winners. The ones whose feelings mustn’t be hurt, so hold off on the taunting and the victory dance. Those non-winning winners get to be champions too even though in actual fact they really – dare I say it – aren’t.
Nobody wants to cause someone emotional damage. Picking on a loser - that would be kicking a guy when he’s down. So better to help him up onto the champion’s podium even though he’s really the “L” word.
I’m a loser. I lost in civil court because I didn’t know how the system worked. I lost at table tennis and chess because... well, because the other guys were always better.
Holy excuses, Batman! Almost came up with a cop-out there. If I had, it would’ve fitted in perfectly for this day and age where we’re all mollycoddled to the point of meaninglessness. Where it’s never our fault, always someone or something else’s. Where you may have broken the rules but you’re forgiven because of your deprived childhood or your poor mental state at the time. Where a punishment may be meted out but it doesn’t hurt. Where everyone has rights and nobody has responsibilities.
We’re all winners in this country. Shucks, we’re Americans, aren’t we?
So we’re heroes too.
Being a hero is no more difficult than being a winner: there isn’t a lot involved. You really don’t have to do anything at all: just survive a tornado, become ill, get shot. “Local hero Harry Flutenpusher pictured here convalescing after getting plugged in his sleep.” Valiant Harry displayed immense courage as he snored through the attack.
But heroics also come without blood. Just score a touchdown, sing, act, play the kazoo. “Guitar hero Harry Flutenpusher pictured at his recent sell-out concert.” And presumably before he was so bravely shot in his sleep. Harry gets two medals.
Was a time when to be a hero you had to actually do something lionhearted like write a column for your local newspaper that raises the hackles of some in the community. Heh. No, please, you’re too kind. This is what I do for a living so scratch my name off and put the trophy back.
These days one’s valor is merely a measure of one’s musical or athletic ability, and to win all you need to do is “be”. In sport, being big helps.
To earn a purple heart you don’t even have to bleed, let alone die. As long as the injury is a direct result of enemy action and you’re seen by a medic you qualify, even if all you had was a band-aid boo-boo. And that must gall those who’ve lost limbs and the kin of those killed in action.
Which is why we must quit this nonsense about everyone’s a winner and everyone’s a hero because it devalues our respect for the really deserving.
Notice how nobody’s even evil any more? Let’s see: there’s Hitler, oh and Charles Manson. Satan, yep, there’s a good one – or rather there’s a bad one. Definitely that Lucifer guy. But who else? Oops, almost forgot Jeffrey Dahmer. He’s the cannibal chappie who ate 17 young gentlemen in the 1980s and burped his last in prison in 1994, battered – but not eaten - by a fellow lifer. Gobblin’ Jeff gets labeled as evil personified whereas in fact he was merely a total fruitcake.
Go back in history for others; today’s biggest evildoers are the ones running those huge multinational corporations that poison our air and our water and our very bodies for profit and who corrupt our entire society. Don’t get me started.
Fair play is one thing, but America is a clear example of fairness gone mad. It’s the game that counts, not the winning? Nobody finds that sentiment remotely appropriate these days!
We’ve all got to win all the time. Coming in second is the same as coming in last. Bronze medal? Is that all? You can keep it, buddyboy. I’m a winner. I want gold.
It’s what’s wrong, it’s all our fault and it begins in the classroom. Too many alleged adults whingeing at the teachers that the gold star should have gone to their child instead of that other woman’s brat. So they make the whiners the winners.
Being tops is everything nowadays and it doesn’t matter how you achieve it.
Credits just for attending class even though we dozed through all the lessons. Teachers themselves ruining children’s lives with their greed. We’ve just seen the largest school cheating scandal in history right here in Atlanta, with the GBI investigating nearly 200 principals and educators for securing big bonuses by falsifying children’s test scores.
Performance-enhancing drugs on the playing field and in the arena, cheat sheets at school and shady deals on Wall Street and in Washington and everyone’s ahead of the game, right? It’s all one great big win-win situation?
The way I see it, though, only losers favor win-win.

ENDIT

© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

THE CRAZY FOX FAIRYTALE FACTORY


August 24, 2011

That soft whirring comes from the Rockefeller Center in New York; there’s a manufacturing plant on the southwest corner. The raw material being fed in from the giant Associated Press hopper is truth. Plain ol’ newsy truth. Raw, undiluted events and occurrences, mostly routine stuff plus the odd jawdropper, but all pure information nuggets mined from life.
Down the conveyor belt to Sorting for unwelcome, non-compliant facts to be discarded, then on to the Shaping Department where surviving truths are given a twist and a turn so that they can no longer be held self-evident. After that they’re dunked in the patented Ultraright Distortion Bath and emerge as FoxFacts®. These factoids differ from actual facts in that they don’t stand up to scrutiny.
It is my duty now to disappoint those folks who get their news from the F channel. Sorry, people, Fox News ain’t news. Everyone in the business knows that. Walter Cronkite, the iconic, quintessential newsman, denounced it as “a far right wing organization,” saying he’d never seen anything like it.
Hello, here come the indignant disciples, bleating about me pickin’ on their favorite channel. They claim everyone else is just jealous because they’re missing out on stories that only Fox has the skill and sense to show.
Hey presto! That’s the problem right there. FoxFacts® are exclusive to Fox. Why? Because they make them up. Right there in their factoid factory. Or they’ll impose their own brand of truth onto a set of circumstances so as to appease their master. He’s the 80-year-old power-crazed Australian oligarch Keith “Rupert” Murdoch, owner of this planet and 40.5 percent of the entire universe, A man who champions free speech as long as it’s his.
News mixed with advertising (remember Glenn Beck’s gold coins). News mixed with opinion. These are the unconscionable and unforgivable sins that besmirch the journalistic profession itself. Sure, it’s some form of information dissemination but it’s only the stuff Uncle Rupe and his gang want us to know about. They said as much in the beginning. Each morning, management instructs the “news” staff as to what items won’t be covered and how to treat those that will. One memo at Christmastime 2009 had the correct label “public option” changed to “government” health care, which Foxfolks have called it ever since.
A highly suspicious FoxPhrase® is used constantly to introduce invented, un-sourced pronouncements into the discussion, the main phrase often being “Some people say...” Which people? Aha. Wouldn’’t we all like to know.
It’s well-established that the muggy hot air pumped out by the Fox steamtroopers is propaganda – right wing talking points, sometimes a word-for-word read-out from a Republican Party publicity sheet. This was all exposed by Robert Greenwald in his eye-opening 2004 film Outfoxed.
The Corporation dictates the news, not the newsfolks themselves. Cripes, that’s shamefully unethical. But nothing new – except in the degree.
Newspaper proprietors largely allow their editorial staff to determine content and treatment. Television is less free. How many nasty stories about Disney do we ever see on ABC, or criticism of General Electric on NBC. They all have large corporate parents who’re ever watchful; CBS, CNN, Paramount, the lot. Fox trumps them all with no behind-the-scenes arm-twisting to get a potentially damaging story suppressed. No need. Fox makes sure all the news it broadcasts is already pre-rinsed in the Republican acid bath to keep the whole of Big Business inoculated.
No self-respecting journalist true to his profession will call Fox anything but a propaganda machine. Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the departed Glenn Beck... shills all. Whether billed as news or opinion it’s all one big news-and-opinion slurry.
Fear rules this studio. In order to induce people to seek strong government, to which the Republicans keep laying claim, Fox makes sure its viewers stay scared: afraid of Muslims, of homosexuals, Mexicans... But the fear is also on the inside. Journalists who quit the network in disgust tell of a reign of terror, of being constantly monitored by Big Brother and even of retribution after they leave.
You can also be a good boy. For smearing a Democrat you get a plaudit. Here’s Brian Kilmeade: “North Korea loves John Kerry!” That outburst, almost a tourette’s shout, clearly had not a scintilla of truth to it. It was just one of those FoxFacts® discharged by one of the company robots. Murdoch has a whole garage full of these humanoid-mechanoid troopers, all stuck in ‘rabid right wing’ mode and badly in need of repair.
The Hannity model was squeaky when new and has gotten progressively more irritating. The O’Reilly version keeps blowing a gasket. None of these automatons would ever make it in a real news environment.
Crucifying those who dare to disagree, as O’Reilly does, barking at his guests to “shut up” before cutting their microphones. Weaseling away like Hannity. None of that cuts it. Nor do the grim Brothers Grimm on Fox & Friends, those fable spinners Kilmeade and Steve Doocy with their Goldilocks co-hostess.
Several studies of Hans Christian Hume’s fairytale Special Report reveal 80-to-90 percent of his guests are Republicans and three out of four of those are avowed conservatives. Of the remainder, all are either centrists, faux liberals or nobodies.
Those cunning Foxfolks have been caught manipulating photos and footage and even tampering with Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia.
But this is all “fair and balanced” as the garish screen graphics proclaim. In Mein Kampf Hitler wrote that folks believe a big lie. The Fox lie is a whopper: ”We Report. You Decide.” Only they don’t report, they distort. And they’ve already decided for You.
Isn’t it time we thought outside the Fox.

ENDIT

© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.