It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking the call for column writing time. We can’t write a column endorsing oil drilling because that would sound absurd in the context of previous columns. We can’t write a column critical of the Obama decision to sanction oil drilling because that would infuriate the Obama backers who read this website.
We are assiduously working our way through Yevgeny Zamyatin’s novel <em>We</em>, which George Orwell credited as the inspiration for writing <em>1984</em>, but we haven’t gotten to the last word on the last page, so even though we’ve got the good quotes (such as this column’s headline) ready to go, we’ll have to postpone our review of that novel for a few more days so that we’ll know how it ends.
Is it too early to write the April 12 column marking the sinking of the Titanic?
Obviously it is way too early to write our annual National Columnists’ Day column. We have to write it a bit early and post it before the actual day arrives, but this is just a tad too early to tout the April 18 event which marks the anniversary of the day that Ernie Pyle was killed in combat.
Even though we have already had a ride in the Goodyear blimp, we haven’t heard back from the folks at <a href = http://www.airshipventures.com/>Airship Ventures</a> so we’ll have to postpone a blimp vs. Zeppelin grudge match comparison column for later.
Just about 10 years ago, we contacted Delusions of Adequacy and started pumping out columns for them. Was it prejudicial to be covering the Internets coverage of the 2000 Republican national convention and be skeptical of the “frontrunner”? After all weren’t the country’s leading journalists using the “wait and see what happens” attitude? Wasn’t it premature to use the “Ducky Lucky” alarmist point of view before the fellow had even taken the oath of office?
We didn’t sound too patriotic when we sarcastically suggested that if those darn aluminum tubes were so dangerous, they should have had serial numbers on them and the sale of those items should have been regulated more strictly.
When the Bush Death Panel decreed that Americans should buy the materials to make an airtight panic room as a precaution against a chemical attack, we dashed off a letter to the editor at the New York Times and pointed out that if it was airtight, folks would suffocate and if it wasn’t airtight, the folks inside would have no protection whatsoever from the chemicals. The day the letter appeared in the print edition of that newspaper, Donald Rumsfeld held a news conference to point out the danger of asphyxiation and stressed that the “buy plastic sheeting and duct tape” warning had been metaphorical.
We switched from Delusions of Adequacy, which wanted to focus exclusively on music, over to Just Above Sunset online magazine and mixed feature columns with ones that asked rhetorical questions about the apparent contradiction of a super secretive administration announcing plans for a Presidential Library. Other political commentators saw the absurdity of the Bush public stance and rightly (or leftly?) ridiculed it.
Eventually we transition away from the L. A. based site and posted regularly on Smirking Chimp pointing out some flaws in the Bush Administration’s attempt to assuage any potential for dissent.
When the news stories about Howard Dean’s alleged “breakdown” appeared, we tried to point out the basic journalism lesson that when a statement such as “he suffered a mental breakdown” is used in a news story, unless the write is a well known psychologists, the reporter has to use attribution or be guilty of editorializing. If, at the time, some well known authority on mental health had come out and said categorically that Dean had come unglued, then columns about what the expert had said were merited. If Karl Rove called in some journalistic IOU’s and planted unattributed stories questioning the frontrunner’s (up to that point) mental health, then honest journalists would have noted that the assessment was coming from an opposition spokesman (Republican’s don’t have spokespersons).
Didn’t the Republicans have preparations for a Kerry Candidacy, such as article of incorporation for the Swiftboat Veterans groups, in place just waiting for the signal to the bullpen? Didn’t they want to avoid having to improvise a whole new game plan to run against Howard Dean? So wasn’t it natural for them to work behind the scenes to grease the skids to favor Kerry? Journalists seemed satisfied to miss the elephant in the room. There is an old bit of journalism advice that goes: “If you mother says she loves you; check it out before you print it.” Abracadabra the journalists were qualified to say that Howard Dean had suffered a mental breakdown. Hogwash! They were kissing Rove’s ass.
Any efforts to assert that President Bush may have committed war crimes needed some authoritative substantiation. When we talked to a woman who had worked for the Australian government collecting, during World War II, evidence for any subsequent war crimes trials and who had also attended the trial of Tojo in Tokyo, we asked about her expert opinion. When we popped the question: “Is George W. Bush a war criminal?” she snapped out an instantaneous response: “Of course he is!” When we wrote a column about her, we reported her opinion not our own.
Here it is April of 2010 and we need a topic for a column.
It sure looks like Iran is rapidly approaching their goal of manufacturing some nuclear weapons, but unless this columnist gets to see them in person, that topic is off limits because it would sound like a conspiracy theory without some eyewitness substantiation.
At Cal Berkeley ASUC Senate Bill 118 is too hot to touch.
There’s been a good amount of rain in Berkeley this spring, but there’s been much more in Rhode Island and it has been getting intense news coverage.
Dang, I wish those folks at Airship Ventures would respond to my e-mail soon. What is there to write about while waiting?
Eureka! We’ll write a column suggesting that some radio outlet in the San Francisco area should revive <a href = http://www.petitiononline.com/JimmyKay/petition.html>Jimmy Kay’s Sunday Night Classics</a> show with the music of the Country Music Hall of Fame caliber.
Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote in <em>We</em> (Penguin paperback page 36): “The only means to rid man of crime is to rid him of freedom.”
Now, the disk jockey will play: “Okie from Muskogee,” “On the Road Again,” and “You don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’.” We gotta go send an e-mail to Jimmy Kay and station KBWF (hey he could phone his program in, couldn’t he?). Have a “the road goes on forever; the party never ends” type week.