13 July 2011

More of the Ludicrous

I read in the 11 July 2011 afternoon on-line edition of the Washington Post that a Post journalist who was on the scene (!) confirmed that the first lady, whose concerns with childhood obesity and nutrition has remained front page news and has had significant, positive effect on the content of school lunch programs, “ordered a ShackBurger, fries, chocolate shake and a Diet Coke.” The journalist noted that “according to nutritional information on Shake Shack’s Web site, the meal amounted to 1,556 calories.” There was no mention in the article if the journalist had anything to eat. Or exactly why the journalist was “on the scene.” Are journalists now a new legitimized version of the paparazzi, deemed respectable if they are attached to mainstream journalistic outlets? Where are the standards for reporters and their stories? Apparently said journalist also had the bylineNatalie Jennings. If this is what editors fill their columns with these days, then really of what value are the newspapers? Is this really what journalism has become in our twenty-first century? This is investigative reporting? This is research?

Thoreau was not an admirer of the newspaper. He writes: “I repeat the testimony of many an intelligent foreigner, as well as my own convictions, when I say that probably no country was ever ruled by so mean a class of tyrants as, with a few noble exceptions, are the editors of the periodical press in this country. And as they live and rule only by their servility, and appealing to the worst, and not the better nature of man, the people who read them are in the condition of the dog that returns to his vomit.” The number of exceptions today has shrunk dishearteningly low.
I do not need to defend Michelle Obama. I would hate to think of her as flawless, and I have no doubt she acts no more nor less contradictory than the rest of us. I am sure despite her singular dietary lapse she has much of which to be proud, and the children of the nation are certainly better for her advocacy of them. So what if she indulged herself and exceeded her daily regimen of caloric intake? This is news? This warrants space in a newspaper? How? Why? Who makes this ludicrous decision? That someone needs to spend his/her time following Michelle Obama about and researching the calorie content of her meal speaks of (and to) a society astonishingly shallow and remarkably mindless.

More signs of the times: The Wisconsin primary election today in my district has been complicated by the addition to the Democratic ballot of Isaac Weix, a self-professed Conservative Republican. His presence on the ballot in an open primary is intended to draw votes away from the legitimate Democratic candidate, Shelley Moore, in her contest to unseat the Republican State Senator Sheila Harsdorf whose vote for the Budget Repair Bill here in Wisconsin reversed decades of the rights of labor to negotiate their salaries and working conditions. The budget passed by the Republican legislature has hurt everyone in the state of Wisconsin except the wealthy and privileged. And the Republicans campaign on the premise that only they can save the democratic system. Ha! Their tactics make a mockery of the democratic ideal.

These are the same Republicans who this morning announced through John Boehner that they would never support an economic plan that would place higher taxes on the people creating jobs. In fact, no body is creating jobs these days, and I haven’t read anywhere that the CEOs of any company has taken a pay cut that at all disturbs her/his privileged lifestyle, though I am aware that the monies that saved their companies from collapse have now made possible record profits and huge bonuses. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that taxing the people who have the money that they acquired through the labors of others seems a more equitable means than taxing the people who don’t have the money at all and have no means to acquire any since the people that have the money aren’t hiring those who don’t because the former want to protect the margin of profit that affords them their sense of privilege. Of course, if one were a rocket scientist, s/he might no longer be employed because the space program has been to some extent privatized. I think that is a Republican strategy. It is how they also plan to eliminate public education.


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