Tag Archives: Media

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love & Understanding?

This BitesIn surveying the myriad assaults on freedom of speech and thought, there appears to be a unifying culprit: Groupthink. Borrowing from George Orwell’s 1984, the principle is simply that enormous pressure within a particular group or political party stifles independent thinking or alternative viewpoints.

One of the most honorable aspects of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is that the organization will defend the right for individuals and groups to speak their minds — regardless of how abhorrent they may be (i.e., the KKK).  This basic freedom is under assault from all quarters.

The left and right and media continue their march to the extreme fringes of discourse. They are all complicit in this disgusting trend, which feeds off controversy, fear, emotion, hyperbole, the demise of civility and power of social media. The results are as shameful as they are sickening:

  • In the nation’s capital, Sen. Elizabeth Warren if yanked off the floor for reading a statement by widow of Martin Luther King.
  • Last week in Sacramento, the Democrats did the same thing by removing Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) as she sought to deliver a speech criticizing the late Tom Hayden for his anti-war activities.
  • Panel discussions on both CNN and Fox News are nothing but forums for bias and shouting under the guise of journalism.
  • President Trump bans news outlets from news briefings in retaliation for unfavorable coverage.
  • Universities – including UC Berkeley (birthplace of the free speech movement) cancel speeches from controversial figures.
  • Protestors disrupt town halls with no intention of finding common ground.

What is happening, America?

We have become a state and nation of thin-skinned people who already have their minds made up in lockstep with their peer groups and according to their respective Groupthink labels. In this type of environment, anyone holding a different view is public enemy number one and a target for attack.

This is especially damaging to moderates, who often find themselves in a no-man’s-land that seeks to balance and find   valid elements of opposing views in an effort to reach consensus or compromise. One would think this approach would prevail because most people want solutions. Yet extreme Groupthink drowns it all out. This reality only confirms the adage that the only things in lying in the middle of the road are dead.peace-love

Enough with the labeling. Enough with the intolerance. Enough with hate.

About the only silver bullet the Blue Dog can come up with is to change our national anthem to Nick Lowe’s “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” as performed by Elvis Costello.

Since this song was written by a Brit, maybe everyone can agree to this. Go ahead and laugh. Got any better ideas?

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Filed under California Legislature, Congress, Donald Trump, Freedom of Speech, Journalism, Media, Politics

Willie Says: Don’t Count Trump Out

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally May 5, 2016 in Charleston, West Virginia. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SmialowskiBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, AFP/Getty Images

Main DogWith Republicans and Democrats, including this one, casually dismissing Donald Trump as a crazed carnival barker whose novelty act will ultimately go down in flames come November, it was interesting to see this perspective from a guy who knows a few things about politics — former Speaker Wille Brown. Check out what he had to say recently in the San Francisco Chronicle:

President Trump? It could happen

By Willie Brown   May 6, 2016

I’m probably the only Democrat who will say it publicly, but Donald Trump could wind up being elected president.

It’s not that he’s the best person for the job, or that he has tapped into some vast pool of “voter anger.” The real key to Trump’s success is that he is just flat-out exciting, and these days, we as a nation are addicted to excitement.

 Eight years ago, a largely unknown Barack Obama created a tremendous wave of excitement with the idea that he could become first black president. On the surface, Trump would seem to face a far steeper climb — what’s so unusual about a 69-year-old white guy wanting to be president?

But Trump has proved to be the most media-savvy candidate not only in the Republican primary, but maybe in the history of U.S. politics.

It’s not that he knows how to handle the pundits and spin the media. It’s that he creates his own media. Every morning he is somewhere on TV or in the Twitterverse, feeding the frenzy.

He is also the only candidate I’ve ever seen for whom making mistakes and misstatements is an integral part of the agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s message — I’m competent, experienced and rational — didn’t work out when she ran in the primaries against Obama in 2008. She’s basically running the same campaign this time. For all his appeal to young people, Bernie Sanders isn’t exactly Obama, and Clinton is still having trouble putting him away.

In November, we know what we’ll get with Clinton. There’s a lot of loose talk about how the electoral map is stacked against Trump, but a lot of that talk presupposes that he’s a typical Republican.

He’s not. He’s a mystery novel, and people keep turning the pages, waiting for the next twist.

Clinton is an owner’s manual that you’ve already read. For Democrats, that’s a big danger.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump, Media, partisanship, Politics

Fabian’s Right: Dems Should Jettison BS & Approve Maldonado

The Blue Dog applauds former Assemby Speaker and Democrat Fabian Nunez for his eloquent, reasoned opinion piece in this morning’s Sacramento Bee: “Confirm GOP’s Maldonado, show Legislature can function.”

In his commentary, Nunez articulates a number of central Centrist themes in championing Republican state senator Abel Maldonado for the vacant Lieutenant Governor post. More political leaders should come out to exhibit the same type of common sense and statesman-like leadership as Nunez. The Capitol circus needs more responsible outside ringmasters.

We will let his piece speak for itself and encourage you — and the Legislature’s Democratic leadership — to read it.

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No Moderate Is An Island

Pay AttentionSometimes, the Blue Dog would rather have someone else do the barking about the state of Moderate Nation. Some good mind chow in CNN.com’s “No One Represents America’s Center.”

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Filed under California Legislature, Journalism, Politics, Reform

Death By 1,000 Cuts & Tweets

dog_snarlingA state media insider tells the BlueDog that the Los Angeles Times has issued an edict to cut down the length of its front-page news stories. The new policy mandates that no A1 news story shall run more 28 or so column issues — a cut from the previous maximum length of 35 column inches.

This is a 20 percent cut, and is in keeping with a business goal of achieving a 50-50 balance of advertisements and news. Page A3 — the showcase for California and Capitol news — is a meager shadow of its former self. Consider the Thursday, May 7 edition, which contains just one article and a weather photo.

The Times has always considered itself a national paper — a claim increasingly suspect given erosion of interest in state news. Some speculate the short shrift stems from the fact the Times’ top two editors are alumni of its business page, which has now replaced the once robust California section’s mix of local and state news as the B-section of the newspaper.  With that shift, news from the state Capitol, matters of public policy, politics or state issues of import are now crammed into the A-section. Meanwhile California goes to hell. 

This internal news from the Times is hardly earthshaking. But it’s a another disconcerting symbol — not only of the amazing shrinking newspaper, but the anorexia Californians (leading the nation again) seem to have when it comes to substance in its media and information diet.  

Earlier this year, the Sacramento Bee eliminated its Monday morning commentary page, which now runs print advertisements opposite editorials. The op-ed is evolving into the ad-ed.  There is just something unseemly about this, even if it is sincerely designed to stanch the bleeding. 

The once derided USA Today even looks robust against the inevitable trend toward morsels of democratized, digital media. We are now compressing sound bites into nano bites; decentralizing news from established sources to random blogs (yes, even fairly credible ones like this one), Twittering “tweet”communiques maxing out just over 100 characters (not words or inches).  Against this benchmark, the 28 column inches in the Times is a veritable encyclopedia that warrants continued reverence. But the ink continues to ooze quietly from the newspaper industry like a shaving nick that refuses to coagulate. And we’re running out of band aids.

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No Cliffhanger: The GOP’s Lemming Leadership

This Bites

 

 

Let’s get serious about the English language. Seems we in Sacramento are pretty cavalier about the term “leadership.”

Is it true leadership if the leader is taking you off a cliff a la the final scene in Thelma and Lousie?  That’s the question any thinking moderate Californian should be asking in light of comments from the State Senate’s freshly-minted Republican “leader” Dennis Hollingsworth.

The Senator came into the spotlight yesterday, telling the Sacramento Press Club that his words were twisted out of context when,  during the budget impasse, he reportedly urged fellow Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado to let California “go into bankruptcy, let it go off a cliff, we need to prove a point, that it’s the majority’s fault.”

Hollingsworth’s “context” defense carries about as much weight as a Twinkie for anyone who has ever worked inside the Capitol, where pettiness knows few bounds.

[Note: Democrats are just as guilty of factoring into the mix how certain proposals and votes will “jam” the other party. But at least they haven’t of late been as blatant or tone deaf in public as Hollingsworth. They and the Governor actually appear to be trying to solve a serious problem by making difficult choices. What a concept.]

Since the new minority leader is the one who opened his mouth, he’s the one under the microscope. Which brings us back to the question of leadership and Hollingsworth’s utterances on Proposition 1A.

The May 19 ballot measure is the brainchild of the Legislature and the Governor.  Sure it has unsavory elements, but they are spread around. Extended tax increases for spending caps. 

Perfect? Far from it. But it’s not like this is some leftwing conspiracy. Special interests on the hard right and left hate both hate the ballot package. That should tell us something. The California Chamber and Farm Bureau Federation are supporting the initiative. Hardly radical groups. That says even more about this measure making enough sense to vote for it.  Even if its a Hail Mary pass play, who the hell cares at this point? 

Hollingsworth’s assurances he won’t be campaigning against Prop. 1A and the other ballot measures were mighty big of him. Just tell the entire capitol press corps and millions of Californians through the news media that the package sucks and is doomed to defeat. But no campaigning! The needle on the Blue Dog’s BS meter almost spun off the dial over that one.

Rather than standing with the entire Army, taking some bullets and showing a united front against a common enemy, Hollingsworth is taking his platoon AWOL and running for the cliffs, scorching the earth with flamethrowers as they bolt away. How sadly predictable.

The Blue Dog Dictionary doesn’t count this as leadership.

 

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American Journalism 2.0?

dog_withboneThe Blue Dog is heartened and intrigued by an item a few months back in the New York Times – “Web Sites That Dig for News Rise as Community Watchdogs.” The piece explores an emerging form of journalism and cites VoiceofSanDiego.org as an example of “a brand of serious, original reporting by professional journalists — the province of the traditional media, but at a much lower cost of doing business.” Similar operations are popping up in New Haven, Twin Cities, Seattle, St. Louis and Chicago, the paper reports.

At a time when credible media sources are shrinking and online journalism remains highly suspect, this nascent development is worth keeping an eye on as new model for the journalism of tomorrow.  It gives this Blue Dog a bit of hope that newspapers may find a way to adapt after all. Definitely a bone to chew on.

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Calling All Blue Dogs

main_dogWelcome to the California Blue Dog blog. While a Blue Dog is a term historically associated with fiscally conservative, socially moderate to liberal Democrats, this site takes a fairly broad view of a Blue Dog. Regardless of your party affiliation, do you basically consider yourself a centrist or moderate? Are you turned off by the polarizing nature of political and policy discussions? Do you see gray areas where everyone else sees black and white? Are you tired of the lunatics running the asylum? Do you crave some mature, insightful and respectful conversation about the state of California politics, press and policy issues? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider yourself a Blue Dog. So welcome to this blog. Feel free to subscribe to the RSS feeds and to carry the spirit of this blog into your comments. 

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