Thursday, August 16, 2018

...When Rights are Essential...When Wrong is evil...

shore sculpture at Morro Bay

     the pause

   A breather and a contemplation. Tucked into our complex lives is the need for moments to just look, appreciate and breath deeply. Some of you regular readers are facing health issues and please know our thoughts are with you.
    Our thoughts are also with others and we get into that below.

          But first, have you seen the hair cut sported by an artichoke that goes to seed?  We've enjoyed several "farmed" in Lana's raised growing bed. She decided to let the last one go to seed, to see what it looks like. Kinda of punk eh?

right is essential
     When I hear someone start off about media bias I can't help but think about people I know. There was Al Schultz the editor of my boyhood hometown paper. Al was a neighbor, his kids were my friends and he and his wife were friends with my parents. He worked at night putting out a morning paper so he wasn't always there when other dads were playing catch or grilling out. Even as a kid I knew he was smart, well read, knew history and was traveled. But we could all tell it was hard work and it took its toll. It was hard on the family when he broke a story about abuse in the jail.
      I think about the cast of characters that populated the smoky din of the Times City room when I was lucky to enter that special world as a stringer and copy boy while in high school. Men and women racing deadlines, clacking at typewriters, while line-o-type machines cast hot lead columns and huge presses rolled and rumbled on the floors below.
     Or my college buddies Toby and Dave who covered the police beat for the city paper in my college town while I did the same thing for a radio station. Or the friends who spent hours working to publish the college newspaper.
      I think about guys like Joe Gelarden, Bill Anderson, Tom Keating, Dick Cady, Harley Bierce, Mac Trusnick, Paul Bird, Bob Bell, Mike Tarpey, Ed Zeigner, Wendell Phillippi, Bob Mooney, Pat Traub, Lyle and David Manweiller, Robin Miller, Zach Duncan, Gerry Lafollette, RK Schull, Howard Smulevitz ink stained retches from the Star or News who were friends but competitors covering government, crime and the people of a major city.
     I think of broken plans, cancelled vacations, ruined days off, interrupted dinners, when called out to a plane crash, train derailment, hazardous material spill, homicide, fire, prison riot, the finding of a drowned child, a late night school board meeting, a run over legislative hearing, a citizens group meeting, meeting a source, pouring over documents, reading science reports.
     I think about Bruce Taylor, Will Murphy, Fred Heckman, Bob Hoover, Bob Campbell, Ben Strout, Steve Starnes, Anne Ryder, Teresa Wells, John Stanley, Kevin Finch, Stacy Conrad, Leslie Olsen, Mary McDermott, David Macanally, Rich Van Wyk, John Whalen, Bill Ditton, Steve Sweitzer, Marlee Gintner, Karen Grau, Pat Costello, Randal Stanley, Pam Vaught, Marilyn Schultz, Neal Moore and many others who saw the work as more than just a job. 
     I think of Bob Collins sitting at the bar at the press club a brilliant writer destroying his body. I remember Jep Cadou, Carolyn Pickering, Hortense Meyers, Ed Stattman. I think of the late night drinks of people who devoted their lives to information while missing family or ruining marriages. 
    In fact there are thousands of scenes I can conjure from lifting a body from a burning plane, to waiting for cops to identify a victim, or waiting in statuary hall for a senator or congressman to appear or sitting through long hearings and trials or riding with cops or embedding with military, or talking with people for hours on end to understand their point of view, or hearing parents weep about the abuse of a child, or rage in anger at how a bank foreclosed on a home and on and on. It takes something of yourself to listen,to wait, to care, to study, to ponder, to dig, to research so that you can tell other citizens.
     None of that is fake news. Never was. Never will be. It is looking for facts, truth, looking at life in its better and worse hues. None of the people who do that work are enemies of the people. 
     I think about the young staff of my local paper here on the Central California Coast. They remind me of myself and some of the names above. Many of you have never heard of those people. They are not New York or Washington luminaries-they were local journalists, like thousands of others across the nation. They are not enemies of the people. Nor are the people who labor to report the daily news and who endeavor to make sense of our crazy world.
    We have never been perfect. We make mistakes and we admit them. 24 Hour television in the deregulated age has added entirely too much bloviating, opinion, and entertainment with the bottom line being, getting viewers, but still the work-a-day reporters, the real journalists, the newsmen and women are not enemies of the people. We could do with less schmooze and more news, less celebrity and more substance, but our habits and ways of getting information continue to change.

     Trust me, please! This nation is much better off with a tough, adversarial, questioning, probing, and yes even a pain in the ass media and press corp than without. We are a much healthier nation with critics on all sides, and challenges of any president than without that tension. Probably every president has had their issues with the press and that is as it should be. That has been our history.
   A free press, a robust and even imperfect media serves this nation better than any President in our history. 
    Donald Trump has gone too far.
     Donald Trump is trying to silence critics. Remember he is the same man who used to call tabloids and talk shows pretending to be his press agent. He is more than a liar. He is a danger to our 200 some years of tradition. He is a cancer on what is left of our integrity and he is a toxin to what is left of our civility. And I suspect even if he were bright enough to understand, he wouldn't care because he is so self immersed. 
     Think about this. Who would you trust-a man who spent his life in service to his nation, doing hard and unthinkable tasks, devoted to the principles of a democratic republic, honoring civilian control and respecting security and military leaders or a real estate hustler, known liar, sexual predator and braggart, who will not even read position papers or intelligence briefings and who publicly condemns his own intelligence community? It is the tactic of a strongman or dictator.
     John Brennan battled against our enemies. Donald Trump meets with them in secret, gives them security secrets and functions as their stooge. In the Mano y Mano match up here, it is certainly not Brennan who should have his security clearance pulled.  Read the warning signs. 
      Trump is treasonous. He is the enemy of the people.  

     I hope the Catholic church will pursue with all dispatch the prosecution of those priests who have engaged in such hellish behavior in Pennsylvania. Some of those accused are now in positions of influence and power and even in the College of Cardinals. 
       Their betrayal of their faith, and their evil behavior should again rock the denomination to its core. The offenses are awful, but that some of the men involved are still in leadership positions, and that an organized cover up still exists is horrendous enough for a full papal retribution.

after all that, a sweet parting
This is a creation of friend and painter Pat Wilmott
it was every bit as delicious as beautiful

    See you down the trail.



  1. I think I have to commend you on this one, pal, and not because you mentioned my name. It was interesting to see so many names of the Indy newspapermen and recognize many of them but with no memory at all of their faces. As the expression goes, time wounds all heels. BTW, did you hear that the Boston Globe received a plethora of bomb and death threats today after their paper came out with the editorial? It's being taken seriously.

    To the sweet life, I was going to say in awe "Oh, Lana" when you told of the true creator of that amazing pie. But I know Lana could and has done just as well.

    1. Thanks Pal-I learned from you.
      And you are right--time does wound heels.

  2. Dear Tom, thank you for one of the most powerful posts I've ever read.

    1. Geo, so very kind of you. Thanks.
      All the best to you.

  3. A powerful post. I'll be back to read it a few more times.

    1. Stephen, Thanks. It is an honor to have you among the readership.
      Be well.

  4. I feel honored to be in your presence on the tennis court--or ANYWHERE--after such incisive thinking which reveals how great your support is for newsmen and women in general and paticularly the ones you toiled with side by side. There is only one "enemy of the people" in power right now and I hope he won't last a full term.

    1. Bill-your too kind. I know you too worked in journalism. I share your hope.

  5. A nice piece o' writin', Tom, as my kin would say. I think I did well towards humanity also but in a different, less visible way. Youi were/are the big time, and I'm privileged to know you even if we've never met. You have my admiration, young man.
    I'm ok, we all decided today against further surgery, going to try some different meds for a couple days to watch for untoward effects, then it's back to smoky montana.
    Cheers, and once again, nice writing.

  6. Mike-
    Thanks for the nice words. I think when the tab is added up your medical service in peace time and in war did more for humanity than my reporting.
    I am glad to hear no further surgery is needed. I wish you the best with the new meds.
    I had you in mind as I began this piece.
    Cheers--be well my friend.

  7. As you said the other day, "Hear, Hear"

    On the latest church scandal a couple of notes:

    A retired Boston cop, Irish Catholic and his wife were in Rome and saw Cardinal Law (of Spotlight fame) scurrying across Vatican Square, he turned to his wife and said, "I wonder if I could make a citizen's arrest and get the bastid on a plane home?" We were living in Boston during the investigation, a story turned up in Globe about a priest who had a 20 plus year affair with a parishioner, they had two daughters. By his children's account, he was a terrific father. The mother and the girls begged him to leave the church, he wouldn't do it. The last note, a friend of mine went on a Catholic Boys Mission trip to Mexico when he was in the 7th grade. He was approached by a Priest, he fought the guy off, twice. When he got home, he told his mother and Grandmother about his experience, he got his face slapped. That was the end of his faith and ruined his relationship with his mom and grandmother.

    Say Hi to Lana.

  8. Great tribute to the people and the principles that make journalism a noble calling and a bulwark of democracy.