Tag Archives: journalism

thomasabdulaziz

Good-bye to a legend

Helen Thomas will always be a hero to me. None of that “shero” stuff. You’re either a hero or you’re not, no special designation if you’re a woman. Helen was a reporter, not a reportrix or a reportress. A reporter, a journalist. A real journalist.

Helen Thomas covered 10 — count ‘em — 10 presidents. She questioned John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all with the same sharp, penetrating style that made presidents and press secretaries alike uncomfortable because an honest answer might seem very impolitic.

You always ask tough questions, tough questions not in the sense of being unfair, but hard to generalize the answers.

– Nixon to Thomas

She was an unabashed liberal, on more than one occasion saying that she didn’t understand how a reporter could not be, seeing what they see first hand.

What’s a liberal? I care about the poor, the sick, and the maimed. I care whether we go to war for unjust causes. I care whether we shoot people who are innocent.

– Helen Thomas

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Liberal, but not a partisan. If you think Helen Thomas only tossed hardball questions at Republican presidents, go check out a few news conferences with Bill Clinton or Lyndon Johnson, and Jackie Kennedy called her a harpy. She did think GWB was the worst president ever. Dunno if she was justified in saying that because she was only a reporter for 70 years, not the full 200+ we’ve had presidents. She kept asking the questions the rest of the press failed to ask about the Iraq war, and it cost her that seat on the front row of the briefing room. Colleagues ridiculed her about those questions, called her rude, I’m guessing more because she was asking them and they weren’t than anything else.

I don’t think there are any rude questions.

– Helen Thomas

But  her career certainly crashed and burned when she told a rabbi with a video camera that Jews in Israel ought to “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to where they came from, like Poland, Germany and the United States. I’m not justifying that. I don’t know what made her say it, what might have been going on right before the encounter with the rabbi. Of Lebanese descent, Helen was uncompromisingly pro-Palestinian, and she rightfully complained that in the US government, it is just not allowed to criticize Israel. But those statements … ouch. Pretty low, really shocking.

Helen’s last job was a weekly column for the Falls Church (Virginia) News-Press, a humble ending to an illustrious career. She had been among the handful of female reporters who forced the National Press Club to let them attend their newsmakers luncheons in 1956 (albeit in a balcony, barred from asking questions) and kept at it until the club finally, in 1971, allowed women as members. She broke gender barriers at the White House Correspondents Association and the Gridiron Club, too, and was the only print reporter to accompany Richard Nixon to China.

With her death goes the last link to a White House Press Corps with integrity and audacity. Yeah, it’s not audacious for a conservative blog to send a high school junior  to a White House press briefing to ask if the president was leaving George Zimmerman and his family “on their own” against death threats. That’s, in the words of press secretary Jay Carney, “ridiculous.” If you need it spelled out — which apparently Gabe Finger, whose twitter handle is “@GabeemtheFinger,” needed — that would be local law enforcement’s responsibility.

Just angered Obama’s press secretary. Word.

— Gabe Finger (@GabeemtheFinger) July 17, 2013

Helen Thomas never would have asked such a question, and certainly wouldn’t have sent out such a tweet. She didn’t even have a Twitter account, and if she had, I’m pretty damn sure her handle wouldn’t have been something akin to @HelenAHandBasket or @HelenWheels. But that’s what inside the Beltway “journalism” has become, I’m afraid — stuck in those high school moments, although most of them, at least, have the sense not to get sophomorically cute with their Twitter names.

Helen probably wouldn’t have been asking about Zimmerman at all, and she certainly wouldn’t have flogged Benghazi and the IRS long after those “scandals” were shown to be nothing more than right wing talking points. But she would have asked the questions that needed asking, over and over again until she got an answer, until she got the truth.

The truth, rather than an agenda, should be the goal of a free press.

– Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas, Kentucky-born to Lebanese immigrants and Detroit-raised, died Saturday at her home in Washington. She was 92. We may never see the likes of her again, and I’m sure there are plenty who hope that’s true. I’m not one of them. We need more Helen Thomases, and soon.

sorry

Sorry, everybody

Remember when we elected George W. Bush for the second time and somebody started the Sorry Everybody web site so the half of us who didn’t vote for him could apologize to the world? I put one on there, apologizing on behalf of both my colleagues and my Colleagues, some of whom, I was sorry to say, were awfully damn clueless.

I’m even sorrier to say that they still are.

It pains me to say it. It pains me to even think it. But alas, it is, sadly, so very, very true.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/jayrosen_nyu/status/308323562631081984"]

Last week, I watched my colleagues from inside the Beltway go all a-Twitter (quite literally) over a once-respected journalist who has given that up to write pretty little prose about the people he’s supposed to be critically covering. I don’t pretend to know what happened to him, but a lot happened to journalists after Watergate and since this guy was at Ground Zero for that, I suppose it’s not surprising that he is at the head of the decline that happened to my chosen profession since then.

On the other hand, Carl Bernstein.

But I digress. My colleagues were all a-Twitter (quite literally) over this journo because he whined. He said a White House aide made a veiled threat because he had questioned the White House version of the “sequester”. OK, he didn’t actually say that. He goaded Politico into saying it, based on his hyperbolic rendition of what was actually said. Then Politico got the emails that showed it really wasn’t all that serious, but it was too late. The Inside-The-Beltway journos were off and running.

It only stopped when the president said he wasn’t a dictator and couldn’t perform a Jedi mind meld to make Congress to right. That set them all off because, as we all know, it’s a Vulcan mind meld and a Jedi mind trick, which is so much more important than noting that we’re having this sequester thing — which is a really stupid word for automatic spending cuts — because Republicans absolutely refuse to compromise.

Apparently, telling the truth about Washington is a far left position.

See, these automatic spending cuts came about because Republicans refused to pass a budget that included one iota of tax hikes on the rich. It’s a complex story, how it all came about, but Obama for some godforsaken reason thought that they would come to their senses and pass a budget once the committee that was supposed to forge a compromise failed. I think he actually thought the committee would come to a compromise. Didn’t happen, and isn’t gonna.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/jdickerson/status/307955589814841345"]

But my colleagues just keep reporting that Congress and the White House can’t reach a compromise, which is true, but it’s missing a few pieces. It’s kinda like how during the 2008 election when the crazy conservatives were putting out Liberal Hunting Licenses and pictures of Obama as a witch doctor or growing watermelons on the White House lawn — and the journos searched high and low to find the one crazy liberal who hung Sarah Palin in effigy so they could say both sides do it.

Right.

Here’s the bottom line: Republicans will not vote for anything that will make rich people pay more taxes because It’s Our Money! And they’re scared. They think they need to hoard all their wealth because Scary People!

It is pretty scary for them. Support for same-sex marriage is growing. Americans put the black guy in the Oval Office again. Hillary Clinton still gets high poll numbers. The only thing they have left really is to, as Grover Norquist said back in 2005, “cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

So they stand their ground, refusing to acknowledge that the only compromise they’ll accept is if Obama drops all his demands and does just what they want.

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 7.06.44 PM

Meanwhile, though, in Commentary, GWB White House veterans Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner set up a five-point plan to save the Republican Party, truthfully noting that the 2012 election wasn’t even close and pointing out that staking the GOP’s future on economic issues might not be really smart. While complaining that Obama has put America on a horribly “progressive” path to the future, Gerson and Wehner said that the Republicans can regain the upper hand by changing the perception that they’re in it for the rich guys, get behind good immigration reform, “demonstrate a commitment to the common good,” quit blaming gays for the decline of the American family (“It is heterosexuals, not homosexuals, who have made a hash out of marriage”) and last but certainly not least, “harness their policy views to the findings of science.”

I’m not holding my breath on any of those. As far as I can tell, all they need to do to stop the bleeding is to become progressive.

But my colleagues aren’t going to tell you any of that. Oh, you could find it for yourself. Ezra Klein writes for the Washington Post. I found the Gerson/Wehner article linked from the New York Times. But who reads those? You know where you’re not gonna hear any of that. On television, cable or otherwise. It’s bad TV, too smart.

And besides, it’s more fun to focus on Bob Woodward and Jedi mind melds. It’s almost like we haven’t had the election yet, and Obama hasn’t won.

So, on behalf of my colleagues, I am so very, very sorry. Nostra culpa.

 

reporters

Uncommon sense

I must apologize to my inside-the-Beltway colleagues. Yes, I have maligned you unfairly. For years now I’ve been bemoaning your inability (unwillingness) to be actual journalists and actually commit journalism instead of the cheap and tawdry brand of stenography you so clearly prefer. But I see now the error in my ways.

It’s not just you. It’s our whole damned profession.

My first inkling of this new revelation came during the Newtown shooting coverage, when so much false and/or speculative information was presented as the gospel truth that it could have filled its own Wiki. And now, after the Dorner manhunt in California, my eyes are open, at long last.

My colleagues, you’re a bunch of lazy-assed wannabes wanting to be first so bad that you’ve lost sight of what journalism actually is.

And don’t blame this on social media. It’s true that Twitter and Facebook can get something around the world and on the smart phones of millions before you can bat an eye. But this drive to be first, to forget the dictum “Get it fast, but get it right,” really must be laid right at the feet of the 24-hour cable news networks, who can’t bear to spend even as much as five minutes saying “We just don’t know right now,” especially if one of the other networks is grabbing some scurrilously sourced information and running with it as if their lives depended on it.

What’s missing? Critical thinking. Or, in many cases, any thinking whatsoever. I found my jaw on the floor last night watching my colleagues running each other over to report, from anonymous sources of course, that Christopher Dorner’s body had been pulled from the charred embers of the cabin where he’d taken refuge from police. This, while the damn cabin is still fully engulfed in flames. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon to be skeptical of that source’s information, but apparently, it is over the heads of journalists.

cabin-fire

THE CABIN IS STILL BURNING. I CAN SEE IT ON LIVE TV. I CAN HEAR ON THE POLICE SCANNER OFFICERS SAYING THEY’RE NOT GOING IN UNTIL THE FIRE’S OUT AND THE FIRE DEPARTMENT SAYS IT’S SAFE. But never mind, a source who wants anonymity and is in some office somewhere says they got Dorner’s body out and that’s enough to go to air.

My favorite part, of course, is that this anonymous source was universally described as being from the Los Angeles Police Department, which was not on the scene. And that is until the Riverside Police chief, also not on the scene, said the same thing, which is even dumber than trying to be anonymous and talk about things you don’t know anything about.

But never mind, those reports went on the air. And then when actual public information officer from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office on the scene said things like, “The cabin is burning. It’s too hot to go in so we haven’t gone in, and I have no idea who is telling you otherwise,” what do the so-called journalists do? Why, they say “conflicting reports!” Just wouldn’t do to admit they were being complete idiots by rushing to air, or Twitter, or the website or anywhere else with unconfirmed information that they seriously should have questioned based on simple common sense.

The cabin is burning. It’s very hot. Nobody’s going in there until the Fire Department says it’s safe, and you really don’t need a police spokeswoman to tell you that. Nor do you need a police spokeswoman to tell you that even when they get in, should they find a body, it will be a while before they can positively identify it, because, you know, fire.

I actually heard from one reporter that she’d overheard officers talking about getting dental records to do the identification at the cabin. Really? Seriously? They’re going to, what? Compare the X-rays with a charred body? It didn’t cross her mind that, oh, I don’t know — maybe she misheard?

So no, once again, just like in Newtown, this barrage of false information isn’t the fault of social media. Sure, it spreads like wildfire on social media, but these reports were first broadcast on television. Every.Single.One.Of.Them. Look at the Twitter streams. They all say “CBS is reporting,” “CNN is reporting” or whatever.

Part of the problem is depending on anonymous sources, which, once upon a time, was reserved only for the most extreme cases, like, for example, “I’d rather you didn’t use my name because if you do, I’ll probably be killed.” “Because I’m not authorized to talk about it” is a shit reason, and it really means “because I don’t know dick but you think I’m important.”

So here’s a few tips to become better journalists.

STOP USING ANONYMOUS SOURCES. If your source doesn’t want to be attached to the information, leave it out. It’s questionable, seriously questionable. And half the time it’s pure speculation, what they hope is true.

That was the case with Dorner. The cops all hoped they had him. They even felt fairly certain they did. But they didn’t know for sure. Not a single one of them. Anybody saying they did know for sure was an ass.

That means, DON’T CONFUSE WISHFUL THINKING FOR TRUTH. You know the LAPD confused enough people with Dorner before this. They even shot up a couple of pickup trucks they thought might be driven by Dorner, even though neither of the drivers looked anything like him. Make them prove it. And besides, the LAPD was waiting at an airport for San Bernardino County to call them in. SBC never did.

And finally, THINK. Take notes, make sure the story makes sense. Make sure you have the complete story. For a while yesterday, journalists thought Dorner had hostages in the cabin. He had hostages in another cabin, where yesterday’s fun started. This didn’t take too much to figure out, but for hours reporters were conflating the two. Same thing with the report that Gov. Jerry Brown was going to attend the funeral of an officer allegedly killed by Dornan. They reported that it was the SBC deputy whose funeral Brown would attend when in fact it was a Riverside deputy whose funeral was today.

I just cringe anymore when any big story like this kicks off because I know what’s gonna happen. My chosen profession will fall several more notches down the list of “trusted people.” And why not? By and large, we just ain’t very trustworthy anymore. Because we’ve got to be first.

Some of us belong to an organization called the Society of Professional Journalists. The SPJ has a code of ethics, and the main headings are these: Seek truth and report it. Minimize harm. Act independently. Be accountable. 

Far too many of us don’t even approach those standards, and frankly, nobody’s holding our feet to the fire. But then, we shouldn’t need anybody to do that, because that’s what journalism really is.

Common sense. It’s really not that hard.

arabspring

Carvin out a niche

Maybe you’ve heard of Andy Carvin, maybe you’ve not. I’m going to tell you about him. Actually, I’m going to tell you what I think about him and the “job” he does, which is absolutely antithetical to what I think should happen, which is that he should be confined to the proverbial dustbin of history and promptly forgotten.

But I have some pretty words, some strong words, that I’m just dying to see in the stark black of computer print on white, so you’ll have to bear with me. Or just pass this little diatribe on by.

But whatever you do, don’t try to say I’m just jealous of the name Andy Carvin has had made for himself. I’m not the least bit jealous of him. Arwa Damon, maybe. Or Harry Fear even. But Andy Carvin? Hardly.

Why do I have so much vitriol for a man I’ve never met? It’s easy really. It’s because he’s a pretender, a fake. He’s Walter Mitty with a boring job at National Public Radio that has nothing to do with journalism. But he retreated to a life on Twitter and became a fake superhero.

arabspringHe even wrote a book, Distant Witness, and that’s as good a reason as any for my dislike. The title, not the writing of the book. He called it that because he believes he witnessed the Arab spring from his desk in Washington. He didn’t, any more than I did from my desk in Atlanta.

What he did was stay up till all hours retweeting all the tweets he could find out of the various Arab spring protests, adding his own indignation and outrage at what he “witnessed.” Of course, not all that much of what he retweeted was true, but Carvin thinks it best to throw it out there and let the “crowd” settle it.

Doesn’t work that way. Whenever somebody starts retweeting everything, then the real journalists have to work that much harder to find out what’s real and what’s not. As some of my relatives would say, “If you throw enough shit at the barn door, some of it’s gonna stick.” But most of it’s gonna leave a big pile of shit on the ground, and either way, somebody’s gonna have to clean the whole mess up.

That somebody will never be Andy Carvin, because that would get in the way of his being a hero to the poor downtrodden activists fighting for freedom in Arab countries and elsewhere. Honestly, I cannot understand why NPR, normally a bastion of decent journalism, allows it.

It’s why so many people have such a hard time trusting what’s found on the Interwebs. How could you blame em? If somebody who’s supposed to be the be-all-and-end-all of the Arab spring is tossing everything out there — even if he’s adding a cute little “is this true?” on the end — it’s just gonna confuse the matter. Especially when he adds his own unsupported speculation. Then he’s no better than any other “citizen journalist” out there with a viewpoint.

Ah, but what do I know. I haven’t even been a journalist for a quarter century (next year I will reach that milestone). And my current job is to separate the wheat from the chaff that pretenders like Andy Carvin throw out there. My colleagues and I painstakingly go through all those tweets, all those videos, all those Facebook posts to figure out what’s real and what isn’t, what is the truth and what might be even a well-intentioned lie.

Carvin finally got to go to Egypt, to Cairo. He went down to Tahrir, but when the tear gas came out, he retreated to the safety of his hotel room to check his Twitter stream, where, he said, he understood what was going on much better.

Maybe.

I’ve never been to Cairo, to Benghazi, to Aleppo, to Gaza. I’m pretty sure, though, if I ever were, I wouldn’t be there to meet my Twitter friends. I’d be there to report, because that’s what I do. And if that meant walking into a cloud of tear gas, then give me a wet rag and get out of my way.

Looking at videos from Syria is painful, but it’s necessary. It’s our job to verify them, to know that they were shot where the uploader says they were shot and that they show what the uploader says they show. That means seeing bodies, destroyed homes, lost children, everything, in detail, gory detail. We don’t watch them once and pass them on. We watch them trying to glean everything we can out of them so that we can say with authority if it’s real. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it is hard on every level imaginable.

I’m not a witness to the horrors in Syria, though. I’m a curator, a documentarian. A fact-checker. I’m not superhero, or even a not-so-superhero. I’m just doing a journalist doing a job with a slew of pretty nifty technological tools that help me do that job with more confidence than before. I don’t have to be there, but there’s a lot I miss by being here.

But it’s a good job and I’m proud of it, proud of my colleagues, one of whom once used Google maps to plot where in a particular Syrian city a video of an explosion might have been shot based on the speed of sound and line of site. It was a thing to behold. That’s verification.

It’s easy to fake things on the internet. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube — they can all be gamed. It takes hard, precise work to make sense of it all, to get at the real story. Any less is a disservice to readers, viewers, other journalists and especially the story.

Tweaking the story

This shit just pisses me off. Really. It does. My colleagues can be such tools sometimes. So I’m working, and alluva sudden I see tweets proclaiming that the Eville president has done dissed his legal advisors who told him he needs Congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution to continue providing military support to NATO’s fight in Libya.

Now, I happen to agree. The fight in Libya is at least for a good reason for a change, but the law requires that Congress grant permission to extend such activity beyond 60 days, which ended on May 20. It’s true that all presidents since the law was established in 1973 have contended that it unconstitutionally infringes on the president’s responsibilities as commander-in-chief. All presidents except Obama, that is. His position is that what we’re doing in Libya doesn’t pass the “hostilities” test because we’re not actually fighting. It’s not our bombers, and there are no troops on the ground. The United States is just providing support, y’see. Nixon, by the way, vetoed the act, but Congress overrode the veto.

Maybe they’re even right about that. But it is the law. And 10 congresscritters have filed suit in federal court against Obama over it.

But anyway, none of that is what irks me so much. What irks me is this. Here’s the New York Times (which broke the news) headline on the story:

2 top lawyers lost to Obama in Libya war policy debate

The story is about disagreement among the president’s legal advisers. Two of them — the Pentagon’s general counsel and the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — said Congressional approval was needed. Obama’s other lawyers, including both the White House and State Department general counsels, said otherwise. Obama went with the latter.

But that’s not how the story is that spreading through the InterTubz. Instead of being a story about a policy disagreement among the advisers, the story is about how Obama “overruled” his legal advisers, “rejected” their counsel, “dismissed” their views, proceeded with the war “despite” the lawyers’ view and is worse than Hitler. As if they were the only lawyers he consulted.

Even the Times is a little misleading, focusing on the two lawyers who disagreed. Here’s my headline:

Obama’s legal team split on Libya action authority

Now, doesn’t that sound more fair? More accurate? But it wouldn’t be American journalism if it didn’t echo the right wing’s crazinesss. Hell, even John Boehner believes the War Powers Act is unconstitutional, but that hasn’t stopped him from screaming to the high heavens that Obama is violating it.

Journalism isn’t what it’s supposed to be these days. Seeking the truth and telling it isn’t in the job description. Getting ratings is.

But that’s not how I roll. In this case, I completely agree with the Pentagon and DOJ lawyers. But that doesn’t mean I don’t tell the story right.

There is such a thing as journalistic integrity, even if an awful lot of my colleagues have forgotten what it means. Of course, they wouldn’t be acting like they are if the American public wasn’t so hell bent on bullshit and Charlie Sheen. But journalists are supposed to cut through the crap, not repeat it.

At least that’s how it works in my world. Wish it were true across the board.

I know you are, but what am I?

Remember back during the previous administration when Karl Rove derogatorily dubbed us “the reality-based community?” Ah, those were the days, when up was down, right was wrong and Saddam Hussein had the Bomb.

Except he didn’t, it wasn’t and we have only gotten worse since George W gave up cowboyin’ and brush-cuttin’ for a gated community outside Dallas and the socialist-fascist Muslim black guy from Kenya moved into the White House.

It’s not all his fault, of course. Some of it is. Like this headline I read just this morning saying Obama as gonna cut the cord on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, because the Republicans say those programs were responsible for our current mortgage crisis, and lord knows, if the Republicans say it often enough, then we know it must be true despite the complete lack of evidence.

Facts? We don’t need no stinkin’ facts. Never have, never will.

There’s likely a dozen reasons the president does shit like that all the damn time, most apparently having to do with this delusion he has that the Republicans actually give a good goddamn about cooperating in the governing of the country, or even doing the right thing. They don’t, on either account, and they’ve made it quite clear.

The real problem here, though, is not that the president is operating under such a delusion, but that my colleagues are. See, if we had actual journalists operating in Washington instead of a bunch of preening gasbags who like to fancy themselves “experts,” they’d be asking some real questions that would make these bozos we’ve elected to “represent” us squirm.

Because they don’t have the answers.

Yes, my friends. We’ve got us one super deluxe extra large humongous case of an entire government full of emperors with not one stitch of clothing.

No worries, though, cuz my beloved colleagues ain’t about to bite the hand that feeds ‘em.

But boy if they did. Can you imagine? What if somebody said to John Boehner, “Mr. Speaker, why are you so hell-bent on repealing the Affordable Health Care Act when polls show a sad minority want that, and in fact most Americans are fine with the act as it is or think it doesn’t go far enough?”

Here’s another one. Let’s ask this one of the secretary of state. “Madame Secretary, why are you standing back and quietly allowing Hosni Mubarak to pretend he’s going to make changes when all he’s doing is replacing one set of cronies with another?”

And here’s one for my colleagues: What the bloody hell is wrong with you? It is painfully obvious to everyone who isn’t you that whatever is going on up there that you’re supposed to be the bloody watchdog for is AFU, and yet you blythely go along pretending everything is all hunky-dory.

Breaking news: Washington is broken, America’s people are slowly bleeding to death and you’re getting your tuxes ready for the next White House correspondents’ dinner, preferably one with a bland and boring comedian who doesn’t mention any embarrassing truths about how much you suck at your jobs.

This ain’t rocket science. If you can’t look around and see for yourselves the ruins of a once-decent democracy, then I gotta tell ya, I’m worried about your sanity. Been watching too much Glenn Beck? Speaking of whom, dear colleagues o’ mine, tell the truth — the man is batshit insane. So is Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMented, that loon Christine O’Donnell who still thinks of herself as someone to be taken seriously.

The problem of course is that people do take these nuts seriously. And why? Because, beloved colleagues, you suck at your jobs. You won’t challenge these people when they lie. You won’t ask the questions that will make them defend the indefensible. You just let it all keep going as if it actually makes sense.

NewsFlash: It makes no sense whatsoever. Anybody with half a brain should be able to tell that the Republican “budget” plans won’t create a single job but will guarantee that the rich, already obscenely rich, will just get richer — and that’s the plan! Drown government in the bathtub! Seriously, do you think it’s just coincidence that the spread between CEO and worker pay has ballooned in the past 30 years? Used to be 20 to 1 or so. Now? closer to 500 to 1. Base wages for us little people have been stagnant in that time. Not so for the rich guys. And still, we just blinked away the renewal of ridiculous tax cuts for those who need them the least, while money that could actually help American citizens who desperately need it is stuck up the asses of constipated politicians.

Yes, politicians. We have no legislators, only politicians. Nobody is working for the common welfare. Every damn one of them is working for re-election, doing and saying whatever they think will get them the most votes, all the while swearing they are the spiritual descendants of the founding fathers.

The founding fathers are rolling in their graves.

That’s another one for my colleagues. Stop letting people who clearly have no clue whatsoever about the history of their country or the documents it was founded on pretend they do. Call them out. When they dress up in colonial outfits and call themselves the “tea party,” remind them that the original tea party was a protest against a too cozy relationship between government and a corporation. Stop breathlessly reporting every incoherent utterance of the Quitta from Wasilla as if it matters. It doesn’t. She isn’t going to run for president and she would lose badly if she did. She’s just out to make a buck, which, apparently, is the only thing that actually matters in this godforsaken country anymore.

It certainly isn’t protecting human rights, not of our own citizens or anybody else’s. See Egypt, democracy and Egypt, dictatorship. Which one has a picture of a smiling Uncle Sam?

On what planet is waterboarding not torture? Oh, right. THIS ONE.

Evolution? Yeah, a theory. Like relativity. Like gravity. Like, as in SCIENCE. Quit pretending to not “believe in” evolution is just another opinion. It’s called IGNORANCE. And speaking of ignorance, don’t get me started on religion.

There are still some good journalists out there. But they’re too busy shivering out in the freezing cold so they can bring you the shocking news that it snows in the winter in the Midwest. But those pretenders inside the Beltway? They’ve lost their way — and the truly sad part is that they don’t even know they have. But the part that pisses me off is that their bosses, who really should know better, are just as deluded.

It’s no wonder the “real Americans,” and by that I mean actual real Americans, not the narrow slice of Americana that conservatives see as the only real Americans, are as sick of us journos as they are of the callous and uncaring professional politician set. Two sides, same coin. And stamped in worthless tin.