Hoping For More Heckling

I’m not generally a fan of heckling, except when I am.  Take, for example, the pointed questions being posed to Anthony Weiner, who has launched an ill-advised campaign for Mayor of New York City.

What a surprise!  Some people think Weiner — the jerky former Congressman who tried to intimidate and lie his way out of a sexting scandal — is unfit to lead America’s most important city.  It’s hilarious that Weiner wants people to focus on his “ideas.”  How about this for an idea:  New Yorkers are entitled to a Mayor who isn’t a bald-faced liar.

The Politicker report linked above reports that the New Yorkers attending a candidate’s forum posed two really good questions:  first, why is it that every candidate for Mayor of New York City needs to apologize; and second, why don’t people like Weiner who have had their chance and disgraced themselves have the decency to get out of the way and let some new voices be heard?  I think those are eminently fair questions.  I hope New Yorkers keep asking those questions, again and again and again, until Anthony Weiner does the decent thing and slinks back into the anonymity he so richly deserves.

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The Thursday Night Wind-Down

It’s Thursday night.  It’s been a long week already, but you’ve made it this far.

IMG_3802Your eyes are crusty with fatigue.  Your body has been crushed by the weight of work, and there is that persistent, nagging pain in your right shoulder blade area that won’t go away no matter how much you try to rub it out.  Your brain has the mental acuity of a damp dishcloth.  You sit, eyes glazed and mind leaden . . . and then you realize that the weekend is only one day away.  One stinking day!

How best to prepare?  A glass of wine, for certain.  Let the nectar of the grape tantalize your tongue and tickle your fancy.  And some cheese, to be sure.  Hummus sounds good, too.

Gramma Webner, as a reflection of her Appalachian roots, would call it “piecing”  — eating a few different, little things, nothing too formal or heavy.  And let’s take it easy with how quickly we consume it, shall we?  No need to bolt down that food.  We’re not going anywhere.

That takes care of senses of sight, and smell, and taste, and touch — but what about hearing?  Some island music, perhaps . . . say, The Banana Boat Song, and a mix of calypso and reggae and conga music.  Day-oMe say day-o!

Yes, that should do the trick.

Bloggers And The First Amendment

Senator Lindsey Graham — who seems to be quoted about every topic under the sun — misspoke earlier this week.  In discussing a “shield law ” that Congress is considering in the wake of the Department of Justice’s aggressive pursuit of journalist email and other news-gathering information, Graham asked whether “any blogger out there saying anything” deserves First Amendment protection.  He later corrected himself and said that every blogger enjoys freedom of speech.

Of course, that’s right.  Every American enjoys freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment, and there isn’t any exclusion for bloggers.  Graham’s misstep, though, is one of those instances where a politician’s statement reveals a deeper truth about their actual beliefs.  Graham is an old-line politician who is struggling with the modern world, where the traditional daily newspapers and nightly network broadcasts that he grew up with are fighting a losing battle to hold on to an audience, and any person with a computer and a camera can contribute to the national dialogue about issues and events.  At the root of his comments are these core questions:  how do we deal with these new guys, and who are they, really?

Bloggers must be a pain for politicians.  The traditional methods of controlling the media — having a press secretary who interacts with those pesky reporters and answers their questions, wining and dining the big-time reporters and throwing them a scoop now and then to stay on their good side — just don’t work with bloggers.  There are too many of them, and they don’t go to press conferences or call press secretaries for comments.  They tend to be out in the real world, reacting to what politicians are actually saying, observing the politician actually interacting with the citizenry, and (often) reading the bills and committee reports to try to understand what the politicians are actually doing.  The teeming mass of bloggers makes political manipulation of the press a lot harder.

That doesn’t mean that bloggers are any better or purer than traditional reporters — just different.  Most bloggers come at the issues from a clear ideological bent, and their stuff should be read and weighed with that reality in mind.  Their postings aren’t edited by professionals or subjected to the fact-checking and publication standards that exist at good daily newspapers.  But there is no denying that bloggers — awkward stepchildren of the modern world that they are — have made, and increasingly are making, significant contributions to the national dialogue about the issues of the day.

I’m glad Senator Graham corrected his misstatement and recognized what should be undeniable:  bloggers, like all citizens, are protected by the First Amendment.  It’s just a bit troubling when one of our elected leaders makes such a fundamental blunder in the first place.