Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Let's Blame the Victim This Time

I have read both that left-wing scold Thomas Frank’s “Listen, Liberal” screed and J.D. Vance’s autobiographical “Hillbilly Elegy,” both of which excoriate left-wing elites for ignoring the pain of hillbillies, blue collar worker and white working class. Vance, however, despite his redneck upbringing and subsequent Yale law degree (he now works for Trump enabler Peter Thiel) was honest. Much of the problem is that these people (mainly Scots-Irish) are very much responsible for their own circumstances. They have been trouble for several hundred years, and wallow in their checkered ancestry.

They resent “outsiders” -- like Northerners, blacks, Hispanics, educated people etc., but turn to an elitist who double crosses them by pretending to be an outsider. They are strung out on meth, they lie in bed when they don’t feel like showing up for work, disdain school, and get government handouts while blaming minorities for taking “their” livelihoods.

These hillbilly redneck racist dropouts who voted for Trump may not be able to tame the Wall Street or media Jews (and anti-Semitism is what is really behind a lot of this), but they certainly have had plenty of opportunities they bypassed for getting an education and saving money rather than bowling, boozing, and having multiple marriages and affairs. And that, friends, is the only thing that binds them to Trump – cavalier sex and financial irresponsibility.

So, I would ask the liberal and Democratic pundits who blame themselves for ignoring the white working class to shut up and actually, this time, blame the “victim.”

I was strongly opposed to Sanders on grounds of governing competence and temperament. But now, in weighing whether he could have beaten Trump, I realize that he was a terrible campaign strategist, too.  He SHOULD have cared about her “damn emails.” Doing so would either have defeated her or inoculated her.

Hillary won more votes than Trump but in the wrong places,  so “we” ARE in the majority, and maybe we should divide up and move to swing states. In the meantime, the evil that lives after us is named “white working class.”

Sunday, October 04, 2015

I Really Wish He WERE a Carpenter

Now that the Nats season is over, I would like to unload on the most sickening aspect of the team – lead TV announcer Bob Carpenter. There is not a cliché he hasn’t overused, not  a poor play that he hasn’t made an excuse for, and not an unctuous word undelivered. As a game show host he would be mediocre. As a baseball announcer, he makes me glad I am losing my hearing.

I naively believed that to be a journalist, as I was, you had to have a pretty good command of spelling and grammar to get a job and then you could improve your writing. I believed that in broadcasting, you had to at least be able to speak correctly to get a job and then add whatever personality flourishes you wished. Local television news and the Internet have disabused me of both myths. And baseball color analysts, like F.P. “he should of went” Santangelo, seem to be hired BECAUSE they do not know grammar.

However, my point here – and I wish to ask any linguists reading this if I am wrong – is that Carpenter deviates so much from normal inflection as to make me even more insane. The articulation crime is the repeated emphasis on the wrong word in a multi-word phrase. For instance:

“The clean-UP hitter”
“A road TRIP”
“A home STAND”
“A home run to start the NIGHT”
“Seven base RUNNERS”
“A good rbi GUY”
“He had elbow PROBLEMS”
“A real crowd PLEASER”
“The on deck CIRCLE”
“The New York Police DEPARTMENT”
“A big power HITTER”
“From the Chicago AREA”
“The one major holdOVER”
“A pitch-OUT”
“The box OFFICE” … ad nauseam. 

This pox on broadcasting also has a peculiar and annoying tic, shared by Barack Obama, of hissing the final “s” on plurals or possessives ending with a “z” sound. As in “boyce and girlce” “runs the basessss,” “Alcatrassss Island.” 

Carpenter is from St. Louis, where I recognize that the “aw” sound is pronounced as “ah” as in the “shartstop” position. But does being from St. Louis mean you must emphasize the wrong word in a pair that everyone else knows how to articulate? It is as grating as in the Washington-Baltimore-redneck use of “ice CREAM,” “CEment” and “DE-troit.”

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Harper: Where's your ring, dude?

OK, I do believe Jonathan Papelbon was in the wrong for continuing to harangue Bryce Harper after making his point about not running out pop ups. But, God, am I enjoying viewing and re-viewing the video of someone  finally choking that little bitch. He obviously said something that provoked a barely sane Papelbon.

I can’t condone choking the franchise’s, if not the league’s, most valuable player, but at the time it was Papelbon’s game to save, win or lose, so he had a stake in the proceedings.  He is a throwback player, the kind I like, and I have no problem with decking a Harper-like punkass – Manny Machado – for admiring a home run.  And although he was not the one on the team to do it, someone should have gotten in Harper’s face for jaking it whenever he feels like it.

Harper’s goldbricking wasn’t because he was tired after a long season or the fact that he would have been safe anyway if the ball were dropped. He loafed because that is his personality. He went 0-4 and had a bad day at the plate the day before (except for his game winning double).  

Every time this prima donna makes an out that he doesn’t think he should make, he sulks on the way to first, sometimes flinging his bat like a chimpanzee flings feces.    

As I have said many times before, he plays the game as if he is the center of it and frequently shows no regard for the team – not by choking someone but by playing for his stats.   

I read a quotation from Joe DiMaggio once that is the basis for how I wanted the be known for my professional work. After a meaningless late September game after announcing his retirement, he laid out to make a spectacular catch. When asked why he risked injury in a game that didn’t have any significance, he replied, “Because someone might be watching me play for the first time.”  

Harper cannot conceive of that notion. He is the best offensive player in the league, but he is also the most offensive. 

 By the way Harp, where the IS that ring? You might ask Papelbon to show you his.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Officially Dead

The most overused phrase on broadcast news and on the Interwebs is “It’s official!” (More so than the single word "just.")

Image result for it's official
Stupid, ignorant, thoughtless, uncreative drones who want to say something cannot say it without first inflating their importance by saying, “It’s official.” Aside from the fact that nothing except a law or judicial order can be said to be official, the phrase just delays a reader from getting to the point and tells dear reader the author fell out of the cliché tree and hit every branch on the way down.   

It is not official when a baseball trade is made, it is not official when  Jonathan Pollard is given parole days after it was leaked that he would. It is not official when Apple releases a new phone. It is not official when some “on-again-off-again” thing is declared by a puerile news writer to be “on again” (of “off again.”) Things just "are" -- officially or not.

There used to be a silly little game teenage boys would play with songs on the “Top 40,” consisting of placing the phrase “between the sheets” after the title of each song. (Try it!)  Now, scroll to the next blog or Facebook post, look at a piece of junk mail, or God forbid pick up a book and randomly  find a sentence and put “it’s official” in front of it.   

It is is even more infantile for an actual writer who actually gets paid to begin a narrative with “It’s official.” No. It. Isn’t.  

And even if it were, the phrase is officially the mark of a tedious dullard.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post became a great newspaper under Ben Bradlee, and he cut quite a dashing figure we all would like to have emulated, especially in his role defending freedom of the press when it was truly under attack. 

However, there was a great deal negative about his reign. Foremost among them, in my minority opinion, was the creation of the Style Section, which abandoned journalistic standards to invent celebrity journalism. There were colossal errors in the Post, the worst of which was the Janet Cooke creation of the 8-year-old heroin addict. I read that story in bed one Sunday morning, knew and said out loud, “This can’t be true” and never gave it another thought because it was the kind of crap I had come to expect from the Post, even only a few years after Watergate. It was the kind of "holy shit" story that Bob Woodward (who I believe also invents things) held up as the standard for Post journalism. 

The Style Section gave license to writers who could not report accurately or use the language correctly. It reported inaccurately that national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski unzipped his pants in a jokingly lewd manner inside the Oval Office. The author of that gigantic investigative piece was one Sally Quinn, who had not been a journalist before she rose at the Post, rising in the most old fashioned of ways. (The most loving of tributes to Bradlee contain anecdotes that portray him as a sexist pig with a preoccupation with the male anatomy.   

One Style profile I remember, of Lillian Gish, called her “pixilated.” Maybe the writer meant “pixiesh,” but in my book, “pixilated” means drunk. Another profile of a male movie star referred to him as a “bohunk,” which used to be an ethnic slur against Hungarians. After Bradlee’s departure, but in keeping with his view of what Style should be, the Post hired the single most obnoxious feature writer I have ever read: Hank Stuever, whose first piece was a stream-of-consciousness account of what was going through the minds of people attending George W. Bush’s first inauguration.   

My favorite definition of news is “what happened to the editor today.” The Post began to reflect what happened to Bradlee, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, a social climber who got all his jobs through old family connections, who made his name in journalism by sucking up to his Georgetown neighbor, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy. If news is what happened to the editor today, then the Post truly was writing for the “1 percent.” I will never forget a front-pager in the early ‘80s about the effects of an economic downturn on local residents, in which someone mourned that “we won’t be able to go to Europe this summer.” The Post wrote not the people of the D.C. area but for its advertisers.  

Yes, Bradlee made the Post great,  even though his personnel management was called “creative tension,” which resulted in two reporters being assigned to cover the same event and fight for space. I loved the news and sports sections, hated Style and the editorial pages (except for the cartoons). The fact that Henry Kissinger is allowed to publish op-eds at will is insane. I finally unsubscribed this summer because there was not enough volume of real news to drown out the fluff, because the sports writers had been hired out of bad-grammar-school, and because its new ownership promised nothing of value to me. 

Bradlee did say one thing that I repeated all the time when I taught journalism, “We don’t print the truth; we report what people tell us.” That may sound like a cavalier copout, but it is all a reader should expect. The Post came close to the truth most of the time under Bradlee because the newspaper knew a lot of people who wanted to use its front page as a social and political bulletin board. And that isn't bad, at all.