Thursday, July 28, 2016


gavel to gavel
     The nation owes immense gratitude to Brian Lamb, the founder of C-SPAN. A crowning glory of his vision has been full screen the last couple of weeks, true reality television in C-SPAN's coverage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. It is television for adults and the best kind of history teaching for students.
     In 1979 Lamb's C-SPAN opened the proceedings of the US Congress to constituent oversight by winning the right to broadcast from the House and Senate. Since then C-SPAN has created a larger footprint in the nation's public affairs. Book TV, studio interview and phone in segments, coverage of committee hearings, panels, seminars, symposiums, political-cultural events, historical programs and more have graced American television screens with a seat for viewers. C-SPAN treats us with respect.
        an American ritual
      It was a family ritual in our home to watch the conventions, as was possible in those days, gavel to gavel courtesy of extended network coverage. Even before remote controls (!) we would switch from NBC's Huntley Brinkley team to CBS's coverage as Walter Cronkite began to emerge. (btw I was the remote control, switching the dial with such speed that my mother warned "don't break it.")
      By the late 1960's I was covering politics as a young reporter. I covered the nominating conventions in the '70s, 80's and 90's. By the time I was ceo of a documentary and production company or a news executive, the networks had pared coverage. 
      With all of the media available, there is the obligatory yacking head panels combined with a penchant for the broadcast anchors to blather.  Not so with C-SPAN.
      C-SPAN makes no editorial judgment or interruption. What it does is provide uninterrupted coverage of everything at the podium and an opportunity to view all of the produced video segments and musical interludes. Gavel to Gavel, for real. 
no talking, please
     By the time of a certain intellectual age, most of us can navigate the dramas without the arbitrary intrusion of anchors, reporters, producers, gee whiz graphics and the droning "experts." At the end of the day or during the rest of the news cycle we can seek out those folks, but as the "show" plays forth on the convention floor, we should be permitted to watch, do our own analysis, and render our own judgments. 
      Indeed there is a lot of good journalism and reporting, on the air, in print and on-line, but there is a freedom and quality in being permitted to watch proceedings without intrusion. We would not want interruptions at a theater or movie. I've taken to frequently doing as my long time friend and fellow media veteran Frank does during ball games, turn down the sound and watch the action. Instant replays are a nice touch, but unless I'm a particular fan of the sportscaster, I watch without sound. I'm old enough to know who's scoring and who's not and how well someone is playing. As Yogi may have said, "you can see a lot just by watching."
       The depth and essence of a political party can be measured by how they put themselves forward, even in the non prime time segments. Gavel to Gavel has purpose and is enlightening. C-SPAN is the real star of the political season. Indiana born and educated, Purdue graduate, Brian Lamb has given the American body politic a gift of true intelligence and the best seats in the house.
why there is a fence

dumb and dumber
     Not that one is necessary but if you need another reason to worry about Donald Trump's suitability to be president this last stunt encouraging the Russian government to hack American computers and to get involved in our domestic politics is off the charts. It could also be treasonous. 
       I can't help but think if Hillary Clinton had said what Trump said, the Fox News? crowd would be leading a pitchfork and club brigade into Philadelphia to "lock her up" until they can "string her up" or shoot her as one Republican said last week. 
      Trump is a demagogue of the worst kind, he's a con artist and entirely out of his league when it comes to the complexities of international diplomacy. I've watched as friends who are conservative or traditional Republicans have struggled with has happened to their party. As difficult as it is to concede, several have done so. They will not vote for Trump. I've watched in disbelief as people of conscience and intelligence have migrated from their abhorrence of Trump to being reluctant supporters. Donald Trump is dangerous.
      Wouldn't it be something if a federal attorney somewhere brought espionage or sedition charges against him? It won't happen, but maybe it should.

       See you down the trail


  1. Great analysis. I started watching conventions at my grandfather's knee. His favorite was Senator John Pastore a fiery orator from Rhode Island who delivered stem winding speeches when he was not presiding. Kudos to Brian Lamb and C-SPAN for allowing us to watch every proceeding without screen clutter or talking pundits.

  2. Trump scares me terribly. I hope America comes to its senses by November 8th.

    1. I agree. I still trust the "common sense" of the majority of voters.

  3. I made the mistake of watching the conventions on MSNBC. Most telling indication of how clueless the networks are watching the camera cuts the producers make. Bad enough that each time an African American speaker appears, the camera pans and settles on African American delegates in the convention hall. Then an Islamic couple who lost a son to military heroism gave a most moving presentation. In mid speech, the camera cut to Sikh-American fellow with his hair wrapped up in bright cloth. Even to the major news networks, Iranian Muslim, Indian Sikh, it's all the same. I should just turn the picture off and listen.

    1. Probably too much emphasis on "production values" and not enough attention being made to what is being said. Younger producers, of the social media era and the value is on motion, trend lines, chat and etc. Another reason the purity of C-SPAN is the way to go.

  4. I've made my political views clear before, Tom does it better than I.
    But those deer......I'm a 4th gen Oregonion, and I see roasts, backstrap steaks with eggs for breakfast, etc. Too much venison in my past, clearly.

    1. Mike, the deer here are marauders in gardens. There are frankly too many for their own good, but anyone who suggests "thinning" endures the backlash of their human friends.
      After spending a year living in rural Pt Reyes, most of it in a tent and learning sustainability and survival skills my daughter thought a cleaning stand would be a good addition adjacent to a public space and dog park. It hasn't happened yet. My eldest who worked several years as a wilderness outfitter and guide in Alaska dated a bow hunter who supplied our freezer with venison for a couple of years.