Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Aesthetics of Airwaves 

I grew up in southern Missouri, not quite East, but on a physical divide of the flat lands of the bootheel and the foothills. Those foothills lead to the Ozarks. A jagged, but beautiful terrain. I lived as far west as Springfield. Heart of the Ozarks. I was born in Tulsa. Where the Ozarks ends for me, but notably past where the western flat lands begin. I currently live on top of a ridge that over looks the flood plains of the Missouri River, a few miles before it concludes into the Mississippi River, it is also rather flat. This is the most northern point of the Ozarks. Not really mountains, more like a plateau that pops up in the middle of the Great Plains of the Midwest. But in all these places, I could, and still can, find a Cardinals game on the radio dial. They came, and still do, across airwaves. Technology and infrastructure that is over 100 years old. From Tulsa to Doniphan to the Flag Ship, St Louis’s own KMOX, they all come across simple air waves. The games are carried in markets as far south as Vicksburg, Mississippi and as far west as Norman, Oklahoma. Certainly modern media and global communications make those listening/watching the game a truly global audience. However, the people who listen on their local radio station, are the ones who are far more likely to be the same people who fill the stadium every night. Yes, I’m asserting, they are the true fan base, on par with those with the means to attend all 81 home games. To see a Cardinals game from Vicksburg or Des Moines, is an event, not a hobby. It’s a vacation, a treat; it’s something families save up for to splurge on their children. Those kind of people listen to the game on the radio.

Last night was no different from many other summer nights of my life. Windows were open, a cacophony of cicadas provided a dull roar, and the hum of a baseball game coming from a basic radio; all this could be heard. The only new variable was the sound of my daughters frequently giggling–and sometimes arguing–in the distance. And from time to time, the sound of my littlest sleeping in my lap as I listen to an extra inning or west coast game.

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The game last night was a great one. Seth Manness came in for relief in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and no one out. He got 2 strikes outs and a ground out. It was a mic drop. As Nancy Rice, a fellow St. Louis Cardinals lover, tweeted.

Seth #Manness just dropped the mic. Comes in with bases loaded and no outs and retired next 3 batters. That’s what champions do #STLCards

Trevor Rosenthal came in and claimed his 41st save. The legendary Yadier Molina was brought in on his day off to catch the ninth inning. Rosenthal was pitching with a kid about to be born, he needed Molina at that point. With that 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cardninals maintained their 4.5 game lead in National League Central (NLC) over Pittsburg. The NLC is the toughest division, without a doubt. It has 3 teams poised make the playoffs. This rich narrative came across the airwaves. A comforting and aesthetic texture, like a vinyl record, with its crack and pops. These old communication dinosaurs give faster service than your digital option. It is true. Watching a game on TV most likely means it has to go to space to get to your screen. Not with radio, it’s relayed by towers.

My youth had very little consistency, something painful that isn’t worth remembering, but one thing that never changed during those turbulent years, was baseball’s ability to help me escape what I couldn’t cope with or understand. The game, and the world, are changing in a way I’m not really sure I like. So, while I can, I will cherish the nostalgia and simplicity of listening to a baseball game on the radio. I hide no bias. I have been a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals since I can remember. I hope you enjoy your favorite team as much as I enjoy mine. I also hope you try the joys of listening to the game on an old and antiquated system of communication, called a radio. Believe it or not, it’s less distracting than the television broadcast.

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Clown Noses: Where Limbaugh Meets Stewart

The Atlantic recently published a piece where Rush Limbaugh’s audience questions his motives for providing Donald Trump with so much coverage. Limbaugh contrasts Night Line and Johnny Carson to say:

“I do both,” he said. “I cross over seamlessly from one to the other. You never know when it happens. So I don’t deny I’m an entertainer; this is showbiz.”

That’s a fair defense, I suppose, but it’s the same defense used by Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show. An entertainer widely despised by Limbaugh’s audience, as being the mouth piece for the Obama administration. It’s dubbed the clown nose defense. It can be removed when he wants to be serious and it can be put back on to deflect criticism. And that is what Limbaugh is doing, using the clown nose defense.
It’s incredibly effective. Limbaugh later goes one to ask his long-time audience to trust his motives and that his Trump coverage has a larger purpose.

“Do you understand that I always have a purpose? Do you realize nothing is haphazard? You’re wondering why I’m supporting Trump. Who says I am? Have I announced specifically that I am, or are you perceiving it? A better question would be: If you think that, why? And I can’t go any further. I did with my brother last night. It’s on record, if I have to go back and prove this, and I told Snerdley this morning about this. But I can’t go any further here. It is what it is. I know it’s a cliche.”

The author of the piece, Condor Friedersdorf, urges Limbaugh’s audience to not dismiss his evasiveness in answering the question and to think critically. I urge everyone to do so, all the time. We are living in serious times, with little evidence of serious people leading us. Just like with Jon Stewart, Limbaugh is something more than an entertainer to his audience. He is their voice. A mantle he may not like, but a mantle nonetheless. Being raised in a household that deified Limbaugh, I can attest to the blind faith some show in him. It’s exactly like Stewart’s audience, just a different ideological points of view.

To get personal for a moment, I knew this undercurrent existed a few days ago when my father, the man who deified Limbaugh during my childhood, called me to ask about the Trump coverage. “Do people really think that man (Trump) can be president?”, my father asked. I didn’t know what to tell him. “I dunno, dad. Things are crazy right now. They are always are during primaries, but this feels different.”, I explained in the best way I could. “Boy, you sure ain’t kiddin’ about things being crazy.” We discussed immigration and what that means to certain people. It was a weird moment, it was like one of my millennial friends having their crushing moment of clarity about Jon Stewart, except it was my dad. And he wanted answers from me that I didn’t have. I ended it with explaining ratings and told him to listen to more audio books and less talk radio. To which he replied “May not be a bad idea.” And for my father, that’s as close to “you’re right” as I’ve ever gotten.

Video Number 7

Today The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released it’s seventh video. It is horrifying. At minute six you see a viable fetus, killed. It’s young life is ended.

The latest defense of Planned Parenthood (PP) is to question why the film makers sat on the video so long. Namely from the reflexively defensive of all things progressive, Media Matters for America. It’s been labeled the drip method. Slowly releasing one video at a time. Let me offer some reasoning on this “drip” method.

One, CMP are a small, underfunded group of activist. Like, animal rights activist, but for humans. While PP has chauffeurs stuffed with money to hire high-level crisis management firms like, SKDKnickerbocker. So, they are up against large money and lots of power. The once mighty moral majority of the Reagan years has long since been fractured, so, there is no powerful political machine pushing these YouTube videos. And despite numerous claims of deceptive editing, the edited versions are all released in concert with the full videos. Something, I would wager CMP anticipated that would be attacked first and acted accordingly.

Secondly, it’s possible CMP understood how the media can kill a story. The easiest way around the guardians of information, is to drip the information they would otherwise ignore, if dumped at once. (A tactic the Islamic State uses to staggering success) It’s possible CMP knew they would only get one chance at this. Many have said, including this writer, this chance may never present itself again. In other words, they get one shot at this.

You may not like the drip tactics, but you should be more concerned with what the tactic proves is occurring in this country. It is something that we, as free people of this country, should bear the burden of witnessing. We should not look away. We should not accept it. We should not allow the taxes collected for the common welfare of the people to be used for such abhorrent practices.

This drip will continue and we must endure what’s to come.

Some Kind Of Senator

It’s the biggest thing to hit Missouri since the mule!! A mildly useful genetic freak that can’t breed. 

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill has a new book, Plenty Ladylike. Frankly, this writer doesn’t give a shit about that book. She’s recently done a media blitz with her literary endeavor, which may have backfired on her by possibly exposing some shady campaign ethics. That’s a different matter. She recently came to St. Louis and its public radio. Where the Senator discussed mostly a book, but also maybe the most important foreign policy move in generations. The Iran Deal, as it’s come to be known.

So, let’s go through her points on why is “probably slightly in favor” of the deal. This writer loves her decisiveness too. 

First of all, the man conducting the interview–out of the gate–cites her book to let the audience know she is good friends with Chuck Shumer, an embattled democratic Jewish minority leader in the senate who opposes the deal. To which, she immediately– naturally– jabs at republicans saying:

The republicans insisted we get 60 days to look at the deal. It appeared to me most of them made up their mind in 5 minutes.

That’s one way to put it, another is some of them knew the deal was shady from the get-go. Pray ye that the heavens not fall, should the public have time to review this deal. How dare those republicans want transparency and accountability. She.. is taking her time. Contacting ambassadors of the countries who hold Iran’s money. Those being Turkey, South Korea,  Japan, India and China. “Will they comply with our secondary sanctions?” Valid question. Some won’t. Perhaps Turkey won’t release funds at some determined point. 

The sum of the money she is concerned with is 60 billion dollars.That’s a lot of cash. Except the deal, guarantees 100 billion dollars is freed for Iran, according to none other than NPR. Now 100 is undeniably more than 60, but she says allowing the 100 billion in funds to aid terror in the region is to be able to “put cement down their centrifuges”. Which seems hard to follow through on, seeing how American inspectors are banned.

Let’s skip over the fact that Turkey and Iran aren’t exactly simpatico and S. Korea, India, and Japan are strong allies. What she says of China is alarming.

I have talked to China–it was not good. China was clear that–they don’t intended on not recognizing US imposed sanctions.

This is problematic either way. Either the US defies China (PRC), and inflames the tensions mentioned by Noah Rothman, or allow PRC to openly flaunt distantly funding state sponsored terror by possibly dumping part of 60 million dollars. The situation seems lose-lose. It is a fascinating angle to take for the senator. There is an expected Asian Pivot. What’s to come of it, only few have speculated.

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She seems out of step with conventional thinking because 2/3 of people polled don’t agree with how the Iran deal is being handled. She thinks this will diminish the need for military action, when many say it will increase the likelihood of conflict. She asks if the US would have the world united or go it alone. That tells this humble writer she isn’t doing her homework. The fear isn’t America having to fight, it’s Israel not allowing themselves to be threatened with a nuclear bomb. The fear is Israel being set up by this White House. 

To be fair she discussed other things, but they were so close to party talking points, they are hardly worth mentioning. But nothing seemed more urgent than the Iran deal.

What happens with this deal can’t be undone. Snap-back Sanctions are a myth. We don’t live in the region. We aren’t likely to suffer the consequences. Our strong ally Israel, which she doesn’t mention, not once, will bare the full brunt of this slow coming calamity. It seems plenty ladylike to wait and see how the rest of one’s colleagues react and sell a book. Not the lady this writer, this constituent expected. Not at all. But it’s what we get for allowing Akin to occur. Congratulations on your book, senator. 

A Dust Up

Senator Charles Schumer, a democrat from New York and the assumed future senate minority leader, came out against the Iran Deal. His ascension was assumed, that is, until he released that statement. Mike DeBonis puts it rather bluntly.

Long story short: getting the 67 votes to override a veto would require a monumental feat of persuasion under the current circumstances, and getting the 60 necessary to block a filibuster is hardly assured.

David Harsanyi gives the same assessment, with a splash of his usual cynicism.

At this point, Schumer is just trying to have it both ways: standing against the Iran nuclear deal while knowing full well it won’t make any difference.

It’s consider theater. It’s not suppose to really matter–this is happening wether the country likes it or not. Many democratic lawmakers are undecided on their vote, but with threats from the money raising wing of progressive democrats, MoveOn.org of “donor strikes”, it’s not difficult to predict how they’ll eventually vote. Who they are attacking is the unsettling part. It’s expected, although not necessarily accepted, for the president to disparage his opposition, as he did by saying anyone who opposed the deal had Common Cause with Iranin hard liners. It’s a ridiculous thing to say, but then again, it’s a ridiculous proposition the president is asking the American people to accept. After 7 years, we’ve become accustomed to the such rhetoric.

What is new is the president questioning the patriotism of those in his own party. The way it’s framed is: Jewish lawmakers choose Israel over America. The tone is unsettling. This was tweeted out by The Hill. It smacks of anti-Semetism hiding behind anti-Zionism. It’s compounded by the freak flags flying under the Donald Trump presidential bid banner. They are openly anti-Semitic. Well, as open as an anonymous internet troll can be, but they make it quite clear how they feel about Jews. These nut jobs, actually have common cause with the hard liners in Iran. 

When you remove ethnicity, partisan politics, and emotion, Israel is the cornerstone of America’s Foriegn Policy. It’s geo-politcal strategic value can’t be quantified. That’s something Republicans like Senator Tom Cotton and Democrats like Shumer understand. They are our ally. Isreal fought for it’s indepence and won becoming it’s own nation state. Recognized, on moral grounds, by President Harry Truman in 1948, although Truman gives credit to his friend and business partner, Edward Jacobsin. It hasn’t always been a blissful relationship, it’s had its problems—as all relationships do— but they’ve never taken over a US embassy and held our diplomats hostage. They don’t chant Death To America on an, almost, daily basis. Israel acts like an ally. 

While most of what is happening in Washington D.C. is considered theater, what will transpire in the region will not be. Lifting the sanctions will allow Iran to have more ability to maneuver and reinforce the efforts of their proxies scattered throughout the region. From Yemen to Syria and most concerning, HAMAS in Gaza. That’s just regular old weaponry–now inject a nuclear bomb into the equation. Not hard to see why Israel doesn’t want to let their most vocal and active enemy get one.  Those supporting the deal call it hyperbole and warmongering. Israelis call that protecting their interests. And us, Americans watching this transpire, call it theater, something I hope we don’t regret. Because this theater is the unraveling of the binds that connect the US to its strongest regional ally, all in the name of one man’s legacy. A man, who will be long gone when the consequences of this deal come to a head. 

That is unless a “monumental feat of persuasion” can be pulled off. Theater isn’t suppose to be predicable, perhaps, we are all in for a surprise.