Monday, September 24, 2012

Bits and Pieces for September 2012

A simple observation of NBC-TV's news and entertainment shows -- and its affiliated networks -- reveals nothing less than a corporation in the bag for President Obama's re-election.  Not that themes are different at CBS or ABC.  We are manipulated and always have been, but as networks gasp from declining ratings and eventual death by Internet -- a format also, alas, subject to increasing government control -- they richly deserve what's coming their way via evolving technology.

Aside from politics, however, we've another lesson -- already learned -- to be fortified, and that is that it's no accident, never an accident, that the UFO issue ends up looking either absurd or questionable on commercial network "documentaries."  Network TV audiences are too pampered, too protected from naked truth at its most naked.  If we need a laugh track instructing us when to laugh, perhaps a scream track is required to scare us to death over economic disasters waiting at the door and, of course, the UFO issue.  Instead, we get corporate/political decisions passed down through editorial gratings, along with fears over rocking the government elite boat which dictates what networks and what specific reporters will be given access to even routine stories emanating from Washington.

If "disclosure" regarding UFOs ever surfaces, it won't occur through anticipated channels because the usual sources, like "the usual suspects," just won't provide the trigger point where the real action plays out.

BY THE WAY, may I reiterate my contention that the digital world has only given us the tools to destroy ourselves?  I know, any fool can make that claim, and one just did.  Sometimes one has to eschew computer games for common sense.  Destruction is what we do, on both personal and national terms, and, hoo-boy, have we ever stumbled upon the perfect instrument.

IN THE MEANTIME, SPORTS ARE more evident in the media than ever.  Yes, it's what "the people" want, and a significant percentage of those folk would much rather bury their heads in athletics than attempt to keep their country intact.  This is nothing new, of course, as ancient governments knew well how populations of the miserable could be placated, at least temporarily, by the excitement of stadium events -- and as competitive events consumed public attention, secret political outrage could be conducted by those with subjects other than sports or the people's well-being on their minds.  And now we have not only athletic extravaganzas to dumb down the people, but internationally broadcast "talent" sing-offs as well.  Meanwhile, China threatens war with Japan because China's internal problems require a diversion for its angered crowds.  As if Europe's trauma and Middle East thugs weren't enough.  When World War III comes, will anybody notice?

SO THE UNITED STATES CRUMBLES under a 16 trillion dollar (and growing) deficit, estimated at the moment to put about $16,000 of debt on each American man, woman and child, the Fed prints billions of dollars secured by nothing but more debt and almost guaranteed failure, and the media remains concerned more with Hollywood idiocy and whomever can win a million bucks by carrying a tune sweet enough to put American brains to sleep (it's working).  The world?  Burning bright, hostility its fuel.

ANYWAY, I WOKE UP ENOUGH TO realize my incredible error in writing Mr., Obama in 2004 after he spoke before the Democratic National Committee and congratulating him on a great speech -- and then suggesting that he might wish to consider running for President one day.  America, again I apologize, a thousand times I apologize to the United States.  I also apologize because Obama, the empty suit is probably coming back for four more -- during which his mountain of apologies to other countries for the USA's very existence will easily surpass mine regarding his over-lording ascension to the White House.  

NO MATTER WHO WINS IN NOVEMBER there remain dire warnings about food prices, riots in the streets and continuing in-house attempts to transform the U.S. into something it was never intended to be.  If Europe wasn't being consumed by all of this and more right now, I'd say this  sounds crazy, and we surely aren't going to hear this from the government-influenced TV networks, but the signs are everywhere.  And I don't even know what to think about reports of our government (Homeland Security and. . .?) suddenly making gigantic purchases of killer bullets.  Some worry about more war under Romney.  I worry about more war under Obama, currently more concerned with appearing on moronic TV talk shows than consulting with world leaders and answering hard questions from American journalists who won't ask them..  Your children and grandchildren may face a military draft one day soon.  Won't happen?  It happened to me.   If you can, stock up on food and essentials (including those for personal protection), hold your children and pets close, pay off old debts and avoid new ones because we never know when there might be something huge, terrible and foul-smelling just ahead on life's dark globalization highway -- and I don't mean Bigfoot.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Presidentially Sealed: A Bad-Time Story

Once Upon a Time there was a President of the United States who, apparently on a whim, took an oath to protect the nation he was elected to serve, though he ultimately seemed far more interested in sharing his nation's wealth with other countries as part and parcel of his determination to forge the greatest foreign policy of all time.   He brought with him a First Lady who everybody fell in love with because she smiled, talked about food a lot, and, with her extensive entourage, enjoyed some of the most extravagant taxpayer-paid vacations ever undertaken by a First Lady and her family.  No indeed, it wasn't difficult to realize why she commented that her husband's coronation -- make that election -- gave her cause to be proud of her country for the first time ever.

Yes, her husband was President, and using the Presidential Seal to issue one Executive Order after another, in order not to wake up or bother with the very Congress which should have intervened in some way, he had it made.  Every action, every word, every public appearance was presidentially sealed.  And his public loved him, influenced as they were, not by him so much, but by the words of Bill Clinton and the cheerleading of clueless rock stars, televised talking heads and brainless twit Hollywood forgettables. 

Substance and experience didn't matter a whit, and certainly not anywhere near as much as just being famous and cool.  The tabloids and TV network news shows saw to that because they were in the bag for his political party, as usual, even as their sphere of influence began to deteriorate to dirt-nap level because people could now depend upon the Internet for lies, sans hemorrhoid and erectile dysfunction commercials.  His experience as a community organizer served him well when it came to bluffing his way through the hearts and minds of a disturbing number of American TV viewers.

When he wasn't stuttering or stammering his way through some distortion in public, he would say things such as, "Let me be clear" so he would sound presidential and in charge, though few things he said really could be interpreted as clear.  As his supporters often touted, however, he was, after all, the smartest man in the world, so far ahead intellectually that he skipped ho-hum intelligence briefings when mornings looked good for golfing or campaign fund-raising or opportunities to be a guest on TV entertainment  shows watched primarily by morons.  Yes, when he began his term he had proclaimed that if he didn't get the work done in four years he should be a one-term President -- but, of course, he was only speaking theoretically, like the college professor he had been.

The President's influence on the U.S. economy was a terrible sight to behold, but fortunately he had friends in high places who could do something -- only for the sake of doing something, but doing something nonetheless.  One such place was The Fed, which now and again printed vast quantities of money backed up by nothing at all, hoping that more dollars would stimulate the economy.  Of course, this was always a futile exercise, resulting in higher energy and food prices for those who could least afford it, but stockholders loved it and they, in agreement with both The Fed and the President, felt that what little remained of the middle class would simply have to sacrifice more, no two ways about it.  Bankers were happy with The Fed, too, because bank profits would spiral upward while savings interest rates decreased -- and banks could continue doing what they've done since the first time "quantitative easing" was gifted to them -- they could just sit on all the money and not bother lending it to fools in need.

No, the President couldn't brag much about his success with the economy, nor jobs.  But he had his foreign policy, by George, yes, he had that going for him, and he was going to be the President with the best foreign policy ever.  Really, hadn't he already been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize before he actually did anything to warrant receiving it?  The world loved him, and even if some people in the U.S. already had him figured out, he could embrace the world and the world would embrace him back.  Wasn't he already looking the other way and letting every illegal alien on the planet who had no intention of assimilating into our culture attempt creeping into the United States, while he ignored world leaders, obviously far less intelligent than himself, who came to realize and finally confess that multiculturalism doesn't work for the cohesiveness of a nation? 

He had the world sewn up, in his pocket, as it were.  He felt good, because foreign policy was his forte and by the end of his first term he knew that outstanding international relations would bear his name.  The Middle East was cut out for his superior negotiating abilities, despite ongoing conflicts with extremists.  Did he not attend Muslim schools as a child, and did he not learn of the Monkey God, described in his own memoirs as an adult?  And unlike most of the United States population, he knew how to spell the word Caliphate, a word which nonetheless gave him a strange, unsettling feeling of comfort and deja vu whenever he said it out loud.

The President knew what to do.  Above all, he would place less emphasis on our established allies, particularly Israel, of whom his staff strangely found it impossible to publicly identify Jerusalem as its capitol. He would speak softly and carry a sponge stick in Muslim countries, reflecting a kinship and a familiarity almost guaranteed to turn enemies into friends, and vile murderers into pussycats.  The U.S. military would act more as nation builders, rather than gung-ho defenders, and this necessitated lesser firepower, a reduction in security around our embassies and, in some cases, military personnel would carry no bullets in their firearms at all to show their fluffier, compassionate side to people accustomed to living in caves and behaving like the subhumans they were destined to be.  This latter objective was especially favored by the President, because he had issued similar instructions to U.S. border patrol agents, foolishly (or perhaps the word would be "stupidly," per the President's previous exercise of that word) attempting to protect U.S. citizens and themselves.

As months ensued, the President went for maximum cleanup, praising the common people who attacked and toppled the long-ruling dictators of Egypt and Libya, strongly encouraging other crowds as they stood up in the Middle East, country after country.   The "Arab Spring" caught fire across the Middle East, pleasing both the President and the American press who cheered along with the resistance factions.  The freedom fighters. 

Trouble was. . .yes, trouble. . .while all the "rebel" factions were fighting in the streets, nobody really know who the rebels were, and it didn't matter anyway because there could only be one winner -- the Muslim Brotherhood.

Oh, hey, but they were so cool.  The President loved them like, like Muslim brothers, and even though they had a really, really shady past (like assassinating Sadat in Egypt after the Arab-Israeli peace agreement way back), the President extended an olive branch -- actually, he extended a whole olive garden -- and invited the Muslim Bro'hood into the White House.  Into our government.

But then the anniversary of nine-eleven came about and a stupid film denigrating Muslims and their prophet had already been on the Internet for a couple of months, and everything just came together to conspire against the U.S. in more than 20 countries as radical Muslims attacked and demonstrated.  Embassy deaths resulted from an apparently well-orchestrated attack in Libya, while Egyptians stormed our U.S. embassy and caused mayhem.  But what should one expect of human throwbacks from the fifth century?

Oh, you naughty Americans who treat Islam so badly! blasted an apologetic message from our own Cairo embassy in Egypt, repeating the message the next day even as the White House had tried to distance itself from a message condemning Americans for treating Muslims so horribly.  Boo-hoo.

And so the Middle East burned and the White House and mainstream media were keen upon blaming a stupid little Internet film for causing all the chaos.  It just couldn't be, thought the President, that so many Muslims hate Americans and our freedoms -- and after we've done so much for them, too!

Clearly, the President knew he had to take action, but what could he do?  He even called the behavioral therapist lady featured in those TV commercials, the one who was shocked the day her son said he hated her and she decided to do something about it.  The President offered to make her Secretary of  Anger Management if she would merely fly off to the Middle East and put the extremists through mental disciplinary exercises, but she declined.   The poor Prez, he didn't know where to turn next.  He thought about issuing an Executive Order to the world, telling radical Muslims to sit down and cool their heels, but somebody on his staff talked him out of it.  He wanted to ask his Cabinet for advice, but remembered that he had met with its members so infrequently that he didn't even remember their names.  What a quandary.

As U.S. military and civilian government bodies piled up, victims of both allegedly friendly Muslims and known foe, the President went before the affable TV cameras and promised that his country wouldn't tolerate violations of our people and laws, even though he knew very well we had tolerated such activities time after time.  Indeed, he was a weak President and knew it, luxuriating in his habitually lame responses to violence in the world.  He and his Secretary of State decided to continue blaming a silly film made by a Coptic Christian motivated by the death and ruin long inflicted upon his people in pro-Muslim countries, and determination was made that, at any cost, the United States must continue apologizing and blaming itself for every Muslim and non-Muslim ill in the world.  And unless somebody came up with a better idea,
Washington would continue allowing pseudo-friends in Afghanistan and other hotspots to continue turning their weapons on American military personnel, because the tragic results were simply the collateral damage expected from any war or conflict conducted by a President looking ahead to the greater good, the benefits eventually to be bestowed upon a civilization of savages intent upon hating us forever, but smiling as they grab American dollars by the ton..  After all, Islam is a religion of peace, and officially we dare not dwell on its flaws or crazy parts because, according to peculiarly revised official manuals in numerous U.S. agencies, there are no Islamic terrorists.

So the Middle East remained on fire and radicals in other nations around the globe joined in. Israel felt abandoned by its long-time ally, and the legacy of a disastrous foreign policy seemed just about ready to self-nuke.  Perhaps community organizing had been the President's finest talent after all, and maybe he could return to its comfortable embrace after the elections.  Then again, he was rather looking forward to the elections, because he had promised the Russian president during an unsuspected open-microphone moment that once the elections were over, he could be more flexible.  More.  Flexible.

On the other hand, the President realized he had to make a list of potential pardons, should he lose the confidence of a stupid majority of the American people.  First on his list would be "The Blind Sheik," a charming, imprisoned terrorist Muslim whom the Vice-President once mistakenly referenced at a national union thug meeting as "The Blond Sheik," perhaps thinking of a professional wrestler or something.

How similar seemed this President's diplomatic efforts to the actions of the old professor in Roman Polanski's sixties movie, "The Fearless Vampire Killers."  Having escaped a distant castle to avoid its vampire element, the learned professor unwittingly leaves the castle accompanied by a vampire -- thus, in the narrator's words, unleashing upon the rest of the world the very evil he thought he had left behind.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

(Printing) Pressed for Time


Personal printers, office printers -- I'm not even thinking about those modern breakthrough inventions.  Historically speaking, neither holds a candle to earlier things capable of making prints.

It's a little ironic, the death of Neil Armstrong, the first earthman to leave a footprint on the moon, and at the same time realizing that another print -- newsprint -- won't be sticking around the local galactic neighborhood anywhere nearly as long as Armstrong's print, a calling card pressed -- pressed -- firmly into moon dust, perhaps forever.

"Journalists have always been our most old-fashioned class," wrote Frank Moore Colby, "being too busy with the news of the day to lay aside the mental habits of fifty years before." 

Fortunately, perfectly good mental habits die hard among journalists, but most newspaper writers currently experience a dark awakening to a future that may not serve either they, or the readers dependent upon them, well.  Some events occur with such regularity that one may set a clock by them, and few things are more dependable than the daily newspaper.

Or were.

Like so many other surprised cities and towns scattered across the USA, Central New York now learns that its stalwart newspaper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, will print only three major editions a week beginning in January, as ownership and management labor to increase profitability on its online site before the whole danged newsprint venture goes south.  Once part of a trilogy of grand old Syracuse newspapers (the others being the former Syracuse Herald-Journal and former Syracuse Herald-American) printed and distributed by the same publisher, the Post-Standard apparently remains commercially viable as it grinds along in a huge downtown building, but numerous desks once occupied by a throng of inquisitive news reporters and feature writers began a slow decline into obsolescence as the inevitable approached, at first stealthily.  Declining revenues and decreasing public involvement as the Internet claims a rise in readership seem the major culprits.

Wasn't it only a few years ago when the publisher purchased from some foreign country a magnificent new printing press, a fabulously expensive work of (state-of-the) art shipped in pieces which had to be intricately assembled so that Central NY readers could witness the finest color photo reproductions in the newspaper universe?  Yes.  But at the time, few anticipated the pixelated arrival of an Internet Satan on the communications horizon.

So here I am, writing a blog electronically, and you may ask, why do I bother mentioning any of this.  Well, I bother because the Post-Standard and, actually, both of its sister newspapers have a place in my peculiar little heart 'cause they printed teenage Robert's letters to the editor starting with one in the summer of 1965, and as years progressed there were dozens more published.  One editor in particular, the late J. Leonard Gorman, allowed me full rein when I felt like exploring the UFO subject, and at times the large amount of column space I was allowed on the editorial page seemed almost criminal -- but exciting.

And there were wire service articles about impressive UFO reports, accounts announced with large headlines and dazzling descriptions making news from coast to coast and internationally. There's nothing like a collection of newspaper clippings you can hold in your hands, seemingly official journalistic confirmation of events bordering upon the incredible.  For future reference.  History. 

But I fear that our willing surrender to a digital lifestyle can only result in quick flashes of real news and commentary, here, gone and forgotten in the space of altered human attention spans. 

An abundance of reporters who progress to writing for national publications usually begin at local newspapers, but in my truly screwed up world I was lucky enough to go from writing letters to the editor as a non-staffer, to penning a piece on UFOs for a small local magazine, and to writing major pieces for various journals and for periodicals produced by the publishers of the old True and Argosy magazines.  But I doubt any of that would have been possible, had newspaper editors not printed my letters, aware of reader interest (and with minimal or zero edits!).

Bonus:  Two Syracuse newspaper reporters who had contacted me regarding UFO stories ultimately joined the Vietnam Era military (Army and Air Force), as had I, and during my Air Force years we found one another and corresponded a bit.

So, here we are.  Online news sources flourish -- as we continue attempting to decide how one distinguishes news from fluff, lies and criminals on the Net -- and some young folk could care less about hold-in-your-hands newspapers, anyway. If they can even read or hold an attention span beyond two minutes. 

What of the future?  Will technological advances even make room for archives of newspaper knowledge from the ages?  Will new formats possess an ability to read pixels of the past?    Yet. . .

The June issue of National Geographic features an incredible article and photo spread about solar super storms, and warns us in no uncertain terms about solar flares and plasma disasters waiting to happen here on earth (these have occurred before to various degrees), when entire continental electrical grids and satellite networks may be destroyed, re-introducing us to a planet without electricity or electronically reproduced images and voices, maybe for months.  Maybe for years, forcing us back to a cumbersome pre-electric life, devoid of both convenience and know-how.

And I'm thinking, yeah, the Internet would be gone, broadcast stations would go silent, and newspapers commonly produced via electronic mastering would disappear.  Trusted digital archives may well become
useless.  "The cloud," indeed.

Years may go by, in the worst instance.

However, somewhere on earth, a planet suddenly drenched in enduring darkness, but for sunlight's roots offering both life's glow and chaos incarnate, somebody or lots of somebodies might build or gather hand-operated printing presses from museums, and maybe a precious cache of paper and ink would allow, for a while at least, the free flow of information and documentation of  The Sun's Big One and events which followed.  Whatever form that communication might take on paper, readers would have to call it by a strangely familiar name, an ancient term fondly reminisced about by their parents or grandparents, from a time when they were children:  A newspaper.  The dinosaur that wouldn't die.