Posts Tagged 'CNN'

A Storm in the Making

OK, I admit it.  I’m scared and in hiding.

A tempest threatens us and all I can do is wait.  I can’t bear watching the depressing news on TV.  It’s full of ominous rumblings, dangerous predictions, and imminent disaster.  So I seek  safe haven in mindless detritus.

Even my computer is no refuge from the specter of impending doom.  Hourly, I’m bombarded with e-mails that warn me of the consequences of my inaction, the urgent need for resources to cope with the onslaught, the pleas for assistance.  Minute by minute updates stridently report the status and odds of it hitting us where it can do the most damage.  I feel sorry for people exposed and in its path.

Whole communities lie in the track of this unstoppable juggernaut.  The social fabric of the country is imperiled, about to be challenged by irreparable damage to schools, roads and bridges.  Millions of people left to suffer without adequate support and the very real prospect of limited government aid.  Only those with substantial assets may survive and even prosper as a result of the unthinkable.  The consequences of what may happen will be irreparable for years to come.  A perfect storm.

Oh, and I’m also worried about Hurricane Sandy.

It was all I could do to muster enough energy to watch The News Hour on Friday.  Even then I had to click away from it whenever the conversation centered on what might happen next Tuesday.  He’s up…he’s down.  A shoo-in…a nail biter.  He said…she said.  Give me an Advil…puleeeze!

And  I am so very tired of hearing about Ohio.   Even the Weather Channel is fixated on it.  With less than four percent of the electoral votes, it rivets our attention as though it were the center of the universe.  Nobody gives a crap about California with three times as many votes, or New York for that matter…we might as well be an alien planet populated by Mork and Mindy.

Forgive me, but even that pinko, liberal MSNBC is a pain in the ass.  Valiantly struggling to keep pace with Fox even though it has less than half the viewers, it finds a fascist plot in anything said by the Dark Side and claims that seventy million old Democrats in wheelchairs will be stripped of their voting privileges because some lame brained Republicans want to see their birth certificates.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer has to calm down, get his act together and stop casting himself as the bearded version of Cassandra.  Coupled with Anderson Cooper, who I swear was put together in a high school physics lab, it’s no wonder that CNN’s viewership has fallen to its lowest in ten years.  No amount of placing daredevil reporters in hurricane force wind and rain will help.  Yes, we know it’s wet and windy…now get out of there, you bozos.

As my visits to Fox are generally restricted to whenever we have a total eclipse of the sun, my principal exposure to the Red team is Bill O’Reilly’s column.  His most recent diatribe chronicled media bias and listed a dozen left-leaning TV broadcasters and their potential negative impact on the election.  He somehow missed any mention of anyone on the Fox staff.  Maybe he watches CNN. 

Thank goodness for the once-a-week News Hour musings of David Brooks and Mark Shields.  They have very different political persuasions yet find a way to voice their opinions while maintaining a collegial rapport.  I somehow feel cleansed and refreshed when their fifteen minutes of fame ends.

Unfortunately, the rest of week will have begun all over again.  Might even rain.

Health care reform…where are you?

I haven’t felt much like writing lately.  Some loved ones have been suffering and my attention has been focused on them.  I stare at my Samsung monitor, try to get up the energy to post a new blog, and then retreat to e-mail, a few worn out websites and solitaire.  Oh, and a glass or two of wine helps to pass the time.

My exercise routine has suffered too.  Half-heartedly I row and sometimes hop onto the treadmill.  Rowing requires two hands.  Treadmilling two feet.  The choices on early morning TV are limited and repetitive.  I often wonder how many times Direct TV can repeat a boring Sandra Bullock movie without a general public uprising.  But treadmilling leaves my hands free to click in the hope of finding something new and interesting.  Alas, my fingers tire before I can locate the holy grail.

CNN is no better.  Every positive event is qualified with a “but”.  Every negative event is highlighted, dissected and accompanied by predictions of more gloomy days to come.  Now I know how Dubya felt.  Hey, but that’s show biz.  This morning was no exception.

The perfectly coiffed Heidi Collins was doing her best to put a negative spin on the better-than-expected first-time jobless claims report.  Repeating the usual “yes, but can it continue?” caveat, she scanned the horizon for some depressing health care reform news.  Brianna Keilar appeared on the screen, standing outside the Capitol where left-over Tea Partyers were protesting the looming destruction of our perfect health care system.  “There are folks here who want to be heard.  They’re not happy.”   No kidding.   Brianna looked like a windblown high school cheerleader as she tried her best to top Heidi’s negativism.  But her heart wasn’t in it.  The Partyers were also uncharacteristically muted as evidenced by their tepid rants of “your granny is dead meat” and other debunked urban myths.

Moving to the current meat of the matter, Heidi asked Brianna “but do the Democrats have enough votes?” Obviously without a clue, Brianna focused on whether taxpayer dollars would pay for abortions.  This, the latest straw man standing between us and a revamped health care system.  I turned to Sandra Bullock for revitalization.

Apparently there are not yet enough good reasons to push this thing through Congress.  Alabama’s Senator Shelby, who looks suspiciously like Shelley Berman, had this warning for those who dare to tinker with the status quo.  President Obama’s plans amount to “the first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known.”  Really?

Putting aside the fact that 40 or 50 million of us can’t even participate in our current perfect system, the good Senator chooses to forget the essentials.  Forgets that we spend lots more for care that produces lots less.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Wade through an August Robert Wood Johnson report  entitled How Does the Quality of U.S. Health Care Compare Internationally.  Knowing full well that you won’t, here are the parts I liked.

—Among 19 countries included in a recent study of amenable mortality, the United States had the highest rate of deaths from conditions that could have been prevented or treated successfully. 

 —In the light of the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person on health care as its peers, those who question the value for money obtained in U.S. health expenditures are on a firm footing. 

 —In short, health reform can be seen as an opportunity to systematically improve quality of care, rather than as a threat to existing levels of quality.

So what’s the hold-up?  There are more Democrats in Congress than fleas on Paul’s dog, Chumba.  We threw the other guys out because they lacked any constructive ideas other than stopping Bill and Jim from getting married, and executing first-time flag burners.  We took the country back.   We said “We can do it.”

Where’s Sandra Bullock when you need her?


I’d rather smoke a cigar

I was about to head down the hill to buy a cigar.  It’s one of those forbidden pleasures I engage in a couple of times a year.  In order to curb my usage, I only buy one at a time.  That gives my guilt complex a chance to work on me before I actually lay out the cash.  It’s an awful habit.  Mouth tastes like the inside of a shoe for two days.

So I said to Sweetie “You know what…I think I’ll shlep down the hill to get a cigar.”  She said with a beautiful smile “Go ahead.  You’ll enjoy it.”    OK, I said, I’ll just check my e-mail.  Bad decision.

My home page is Google.  I love it because it pops up quickly and doesn’t shatter my eyeballs with tons of graphics and come-ons.  Unfortunately, it also has the NY Times headlines.  I’ve lately begun to suspect that the Times has joined the ranks occupied by every other rag.  Sensationalism, depression and woe are the watchwords of its day.

Food safety problems slip by inspectors

Stocks Plunge on worries over financial sector

Driver shot dead after rampage in Jerusalem

Francisco Franco is alive and will do outreach for Obama

Well, maybe not the one about Franco.  But all the rest are true and are designed to heighten your depression (isn’t that an oxymoron), drive you to drink, and draw you to the flame.

The Times is in good company.  For example, in the past, I would mount my rowing machine in the early morning, flip on the TV and check the CNN headlines.  I’d even listen to their inane analysis of why we’re in the mess we’re in.  They used to have this little graphic in the lower right corner of the screen that constantly rolled by with the S&P, the Dow and the NASDAQ.  I am blessed with less than perfect vision so I had to squint to read it.  No squinting, no bad news. Perfect, or so I thought.

Last week CNN figured that I’m not sufficiently depressed by market conditions.  So, in addition to the old squint-requisite graphic, they installed a much larger version that covers a full 20% of the screen.  Only Mr. Magoo can avoid it.  I’m drawn to it as it screams negative numbers, heading more negative, relentlessly negative.  Even if the numbers are positive (as rare as the Dodo), I watch like a deer in the headlights as they descend toward the negative.

It’s impossible to pay attention to anything else on the screen or hear the prompter-reading personality offer his negative prognostications.  I can’t pay close attention when I hear that the president who led the Countrywide Mortgage disaster is now making millions scooping up the bad mortgages he created and then selling them back to us using taxpayer money.  No, I’m gripped by that awful market graphic.  If Angelina Jolie were to parade across the screen with both lips and both breasts fairly exploding in my direction, I would probably miss it.

I can’t watch it.  So, thinking that the local news is somewhat more benign and focused on milder events like double murders, arsonists, three-year droughts, and train wrecks caused by engineers who think it’s cute to let a 16 year old run a zillion ton locomotive through my neighborhood, I click to Channel 5.  Even if Mark Kriski is a doofus, how bad can it be?  Escape is near.

 I am greeted by a less expensive version of the CNN market graphic.  The major difference is that Channel 5 can’t afford the cost of instant market updates like CNN.  Instead, the graphic changes only about every twenty seconds.  Not fast enough for day traders, but adequate for folks like me who are frozen in time and space.  So instead of watching the CNN market ticker descend two or three points at a time, it now drops in huge chunks.   Sort of like the face of a glacier falling into the sea.  I’m mesmerized waiting for the next chunk.  I can’t even relish the occasional trashing of the English language or the butchering of people’s names so ably performed by the morning crew.

Maybe I should get that cigar…and smoke it on the rowing machine.




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