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February 26, 2006

God Knows When But You’re Doing It Again

As you may have read, laws banning adoption of children by gays and lesbians is presently at issue in 16 states. Of course, I was about to launch into my typical tirade against religious-based hated and bigotry, but I’ve pissed up that tree so many times birds won’t nest there anymore. Besides, that’s not the real issue, is it?

The real issue is the Religious Right has found another wedge issue to bring their hysterical flock out to the polls to do the right thing. Once again branding homosexuals as monster child molesters set upon infecting the nation’s youth with their abominable disease and furthering their Satanic agenda, they will bring the idiots and fools out in massive numbers. Once there, the Religious Right believes, they will vote for the correct candidates, as instructed by their ministers, by the hate emails they receive, and by their own worst and most irrational fears. We saw it two years ago, when these same people used this same tactic to condemn same-sex marriage in 10 states pivotal to the Bush Administration.

In order to secure their support, George W. Bush – the world’s most successful liar – promised these fools a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. They turned out at the polls, he won election and then abandoned his promise.

Now, to quote Bob Dylan, “god knows when, but you’re doing it again.” And the stooges-of-faith are falling for it.

It’s the only chance Bush’s people have. They’re self-destructing faster than the plot premise in Mission: Impossible. Our ports, Cheney’s hunting expeditions, domestic spying, the Plame Game, the Iraqi Civil War that dares not speak its name, the 25,000 American casualties in Iraq, charges against Republican Congressional leaders … all in all, it hasn’t been a great year for the Administration. So they reach for the hate card. God knows when, but they’re doing it again.

So if you happen to live in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont or West Virginia, this might very well be a wonderful time to get out and organize. It’ll go a ways towards making up for taking Roe vs. Wade for granted.

To reach for my favorite Dylan quote, “Don’t follow leaders; watch the parking meters.” They’re ticking down to November, folks.

Posted by Mike Gold at 03:33 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

February 19, 2006

Great Balls of Putty

I remember getting annoyed back in 1976 when journalism schools were filled with Redford and Hoffman wannabes, as opposed to Woodward and Bernstein wannabes, which would have been bad enough. It would have been hard to find a more self-righteous bunch of post-adolescents. Today, I long for those times.

Let me start by briefly telling you the story of Robert St. John, a true American hero. He started out as a kid with the Chicago Daily News. When Al Capone was forced to move his headquarters from the city’s lakefront to the western suburb of Cicero, Mr. St. John – who had graduated from nearby Oak Park High – moved out there with him to cover the biggest story in the city, and one of the biggest stories in the nation. He co-founded the Cicero Tribune, owning 49% of the venture, and started in on Mr. Capone and his friends. He was warned to back off, but he kept on pursuing his story. After doing an exposé on mob-controlled prostitution in the area, he was kidnapped and beaten within an inch of his life and dumped in a curb.

Miraculously, he survived. When St. John checked out of the hospital, he discovered his bill had already been paid by no less a personality than Al Capone, in person. Once again, it was suggested that he find other stories to cover and, once again, St. John stuck to his typewriter. After he published further anti-mob stories, he was told by one of Capone’s top lieutenants that his presence at the Tribune was no longer required. It turns out that in a triumph of capitalist ingenuity, Al had quietly bought out the other 51% of the paper.

St. John went on to an astonishing career with the AP and, later, NBC radio. He was on a Greek troop train in the Balkans that was strafed by a Nazi plane, and he carried a bullet in his leg the rest of his life. He remained on the war beat covering battle after battle, and handled Hitler the way he had handled Capone. He hid a Jewish family during the Romanian pogroms, he covered the Blitzkrieg and D-Day, broadcasting for 117 hours, and Hiroshima, broadcasting for 72 hours. He later covered the Arab – Israeli wars of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1982 – the latter when he was 80 years old. Sometime along the way, he wrote a couple dozen books.

In 2002, Mr. St. John was honored with an honorary doctorate by George Washington University on the occasion of his 100th birthday. He died shortly before his 101st.

I’ve thought about Robert St. John a whole lot during the past 61 months of the Bush – Cheney administration. As a reporter and as a publisher, Mr. St. John was everything today’s reporters and publishers are not. Robert St. John wrote with his spinal fluid.

After four years of treating the Bush – Cheney mob as though they had the cure for cancer, the press corps actually started to do their jobs, emboldened by the all too public antics of the most inept and most untruthful administration in American history. That’s nice, but it would have been nicer if these people had actually done their jobs before the election of 2004.

Now it’s the publishers’ turn.

Back when I was in journalism school, I was taught that you have to treat each story as though the reader had absolutely no previous knowledge of the story. Then, in the finest “If your mother says she loves you, check it out” City News Bureau tradition, you’ve got to give all the facts. Everything. It will be up to your editors and, if you’re unlucky, the publisher to cut what isn’t necessary.

No, scratch that. I learned that in my high school journalism course, taught by an old Hearst man who had been part of the legendary Front Page crowd.

No doubt you have been following the ongoing Danish political cartoon story – the ones that have inspired such revolt and repulsion all across the world that hundreds if not thousands of people have been slaughtered thus far, even though nobody objected during the first several months after these drawings were initially published. But unless you did some serious and inspired Googling, you probably have not actually seen the cartoons that are the source of the conflict.

My high school journalism teacher would have flunked me if I hadn’t included them.

Now you might take the position that it is not a newspaper’s position to show something that so blatantly attacks somebody’s religion, unless, of course, that religion has been decertified down to “cult” status. This was the position of many American Catholics when the child rape stories started to break; clearly, society and our children are better off with the stories having seen the light of day. But you might be surprised to know that Moslems aren’t objecting to the alleged derogatory depiction of their prophet: any depiction of Mohammed whatsoever is verboten, be it positive or negative.

Surprisingly, back in 1976 when Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas starred in “The Message” (a.k.a. “Mohammed, Messenger of God”), there was some minor hubbub and some demonstrations. Theaters showed the movie. It was nominated for an Oscar. The international death count as the result of this movie hovered around zero.

So I’ve been thinking of Robert St. John a whole lot these past five years. And I’ve been thinking of our spineless media. And I’ve been thinking that when I left this line of work the very same year both “All The President’s Men” and “The Message” were released, I made the right decision.

I continue to buy newspapers, but now I’m thinking of getting a bird.

Posted by Mike Gold at 03:53 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Back In The Saddle Again

Dear Friends --

Now that I've more-or-less recovered from my surgery and sort of caught up on a bit of my work, I've resumed annoying cyberspace with my innermost thoughts and rantings.

I appreciate your emails and comments and support and wishes. You folks are the best.


Posted by Mike Gold at 03:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack