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Students at UC Santa Barbara Bravely Tell Media to Go Home

(Courtesy: Los Angeles Times)

(Courtesy: Los Angeles Times)

It is one of the staples of 20th and 21st century life that wherever calamity strikes, the media soon follows with microwave and satellite trucks, camera and audio people, producers and reporters. They take over entire towns or city blocks, create parking headaches and traffic jams and manage to intrude on communities that probably would prefer to suffer, grieve and eventually heal- in silence. All of this is mostly for television and it’s all to give the background scene for the all-important TV stand-up reporters need to do to deliver that definitive air of authenticity.

No sireee, this ain’t no live shot from the in-studio satellite news desk with a reporter reading from barely edited wire-service copy; no- this is where the Channel 11 Action News Team proves there’s no disaster too distant that they cannot intrude on any given community’s pain- instantly and live.

By the way, it’s the immediate suffering and grieving that provides the money shots. We never actually get to the healing part because by then the micro-wave and satellite trucks have left and no one cares much or even remembers the given tragedy that occurred some six months earlier.

At UC Santa Barbara, the students decided to revolt and good for them. Turns out that before taking his own life, Elliot Rodger, the misogynistic 22-year-old who shot, stabbed and rammed six of the students to death, and wounded 13 others in his bloody rampage, killed his final victim at a little shop called the I.V. Deli Mart. It was the perfect place for the media circus to invade and encamp for the next 4 or 5 days that the story still had legs.

But the students started intruding back. They got in the background of the reporter stand-ups and they waved signs. “Our tragedy is not your commodity,” read one. “Stop filming our tears,” read another. “Remembrance not Ratings,” read a third. “Let us Heal!” and “News Crews Go Home!” rounded out the sudden anti-media protests.

Bravo to the UC Santa Barbara students and community. And the next time it happens and the anchorman/woman asks the reporter what that ruckus is in the background, for once I’d like to hear something like this: “Well, those are residents of the devastated community repulsed by the fact we are exploiting their grief and suffering. Back to you, Jim.”

Change for the Sake of Change

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The latest survey from CBS News and the New York Times explains what is about to happen as Americans go to the polls Tuesday. In a nutshell- people are desperate, they’re not sure what they want, but they are willing to take a risk on extreme or untried candidates.

As women, Catholics, independents and poor Americans abandon the President they voted for two years ago, here are the stats.

57 percent of registered voters said they were more inclined to gamble on a candidate with little experience this year, while a quarter said they could get behind a candidate whose views “seem extreme.”

Folks don’t seem to have a clue about what they actually want. 90% want cuts in federal spending, for example. But only 50% say they want fewer government services.

Did you get that? It bears repeating. 90% want spending cuts but only 50% want cuts in services.

And though they want spending cuts, when it comes to Social Security, they oppose raising the retirement age or cutting benefits, the only two meaningful ways to reign in social security spending.

Americans are almost equally divided on health care. 45% want to keep health care reform. 41% want to repeal it.

There will be surprises around the country when the votes are tallied next Tuesday. In a race here and a race there. But there is just too much pain and suffering to think there will not be a ton of incumbents shown the door and almost all of them will be Democrats.

When the dust settles, I don’t believe it will be the tsunami predicted in August because a lot of Democrats have come home. But the independents that helped elect Barack Obama are gone. And as the survey says-they are not put off by either extremism or novice politicians.

I think the electorate as a whole will throw out about 46 or 47 House Democrats and about a half a dozen Senators. My forecast is a Republican House majority of about 8 seats and a Democratic Senate majority of 52 to 48.

Bipartisanship heading into the two-year period prior to a Presidential election seems too much to hope for and that would be quite unfortunate. There are reasonable economic approaches on both sides of the aisle that considered- outside the heated world of partisan political rhetoric- could help put the country back to work and on the road to healing.

This would be a good time to pray for America and that its politicians act as real leaders.

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