I grow reflective at this time of year. The beginning of fall feels more like New Year’s to me than, well, New Year’s. The air seems to lend itself to introspection; maybe it’s the whistling of the breeze in my ears. But before my short-term memory goes the way of the highlights in my hair, here are a few of the more noteworthy moments of Summer 2010:
The heat. You know it’s bad when veteran marathoners cut their runs short after just three miles. Exercise induced asthma, chills in 90 degree temperatures, dizziness. Yes, it was good times for all–runners and non-runners (who had the good sense to stay inside where it was air conditioned)–this summer. Hmmm, wonder if 110 degree heat indexes changed the minds of those who insist that there is no such thing as climate change?
The Return of Mad Men. Thank God for Don Draper and the gang for saving us from Hollywood box office crap like Eat, Pray, Love (yeah, yeah, Javier Bardem is hot but mugging is not acting), Eclipse (a teenaged vampire who looks like a Backstreet Boy, his virgin girlfriend and no sex. What kind of fun is that?), and The Switch (Jennifer Aniston continues to non-act her way through another romantic comedy about as exciting as tepid tea). Mad Men is a dramatic TV series for adults. I can’t remember the last time I saw an American film that catered to an adult audience (real adults—Adam Sandler/Steve Carrell movies don’t count). When a couple of movie tickets cost about the same as monthly cable, and I can find superior storytelling on television, I’m staying home.
And still more Mad Men. Unfortunately, these aren’t fictional characters but real men—and women. You can see them every evening on CNN, FOX, or MSNBC. Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann rail against the left and right, respectively.
O’Reilly hates liberals and frankly, anyone who dares to disagree with him about anything. Olbermann hates O’Reilly, Sarah Palin and pretty much anyone on the right. O’Reilly has a cadre of near hysteric blondes who “inform” him about the left’s latest political shenanigans while Olbermann has his “Worst Person in the World, “segment during which he takes down anyone, usually O’Reilly or other right-leaning figures, who has ticked him off that day. Granted, Olbermann calls out some pretty bad behavior but “worst person in the world?” Shouldn’t that label be reserved for terrorists and serial killers? Oh, right it’s tongue and cheek, I get it, wink wink.
Except it isn’t, not really. We live in a climate of political hatred not seen since the Watergate disaster of the early 1970s. But we didn’t have a 24 hour news cycle then that gave pundits the chance to scream at each other in unison. Nor was it typical for news anchors to show their bias in interviews. Oh, how the times they have changed. Take for example, Megyn Kelly’s recent FOX “interview” with Kirsten Powers of the NY Post over whether members of the New Black Panthers intimidated Pennsylvania voters on November 4, 2008.
You can see the full exchange on You Tube but I think you’ll find that it really doesn’t matter what they are arguing about. Once Kelly begins shouting at Powers, the “cat fight,” takes center stage, jettisoning any possibility of clarifying the issue. It’s a shameful moment, and not just due to the obvious lack of professional objectivity. Here you have an anchor threatening to cut the microphone of a disagreeable guest when the anchor shouldn’t have a public position in the first place. In this case, FOX news is the culprit but it could just as easily be MSNBC, the left’s answer to “fair and balanced.”
I realize I’m far from being alone in my frustration about the current state of “civil discourse” in America. But screaming and shouting, finger pointing and buck passing are now the norm on our cable news shows. No doubt, it’s all a reflection of what goes on in the U.S. Capitol whenever Congress is in session.
One additional note about the Summer of Love 2010–Facebook has become another great outlet for spewing hatred. People who don’t even know each other feel comfortable making ad hominem attacks—you’re a jerk, typical a-hole liberal, idiot Tea bagger, and on and on, ad nauseum. It’s like a Cyberspace Civil War. I wonder, would these cyber soldiers feel as comfortable blowing their political stacks in face to face confrontations?
I didn’t think so.
The Deepwater Horizon, aka, BP Oil Spill. It was hard to visit the beach this summer without thinking of the plumes of oil filling the Gulf of Mexico. BP finally capped the spill three months after the drilling rig exploded. By that time, the BP disaster had become the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. Talk about feeling helpless. What could you do? Pray that the engineers fixing the problem knew what the heck they were doing. But BP’s head honcho Tony Hayward didn’t exactly inspire confidence:
Poor Tony. It was all about him. Forget the fishermen who make their livelihoods off the Louisiana coast, the wildlife and delicate ecosystem, or hey, the 11 platform workers who were killed when the rig exploded. Another rich CEO was having a bad day. Priorities, people, priorities!
Not long after Mr.. Hayward appeared before an angry group of U.S. Congressmen and women, BP announced he was stepping down. It’s going to take a lot more than a cheap PR move to rectify the mess the oil company left in its wake.
The Rapture of Glenn Beck. The never understated talk host decided it was time to “restore America’s honor.” Hallelujah brother! On August 28th Beck held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, the site of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech, forty seven years earlier to the day. Thousands of tea partiers showed up. Sarah Palin called on the crowd to “restore America and restore her honor.” Who took America’s honor? How do we go about restoring it? Then the prophet, er, Beck appeared. “Something beyond imagination is happening,” Beck proclaimed. “America today begins to turn back to God.” Had all of the Christians, Jews, and Muslims in America looked away, en masse? How the hell did that happen?
Oh, I remember now. It happened when America elected its first black president. You know, the one from Kenya, the socialist, fascist commie radical, the guy who wasn’t even born in America and is, in fact, a Muslim!!!
Yes, folks. We have to “restore [America’s] honor.” It all went down the tubes the day Barack Obama raised his right hand, placed his left hand on the bible and swore to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Ever since then, it’s been a world of misery.
And perhaps it has for many who detest our nation’s 44th president. Not everyone agrees with his health care reform plan, economic or foreign policies. Certainly, there are legitimate criticisms.
There are also giant posters of Obama in whiteface that show up at various Tea Party rallies, and protestors who spit on and hurl racial epithets at African American congressmen. And don’t forget Rush Limbaugh’s little ditty, “Barack the Magic Negro.”
Apparently at Beck’s urging, those attending the“Restoring Honor” rally left their signs and posters at home and Beck has since expressed regrets for accusing the president of a “deep-seated hatred against white people.” But when I hear Beck, Palin, and their ilk vow that they are going to “take back America,” there is little doubt to whom they want to return it.
Life Underground. Perhaps we could all take a lesson in how to get along with others from the 33 miners who have been stuck nearly 2,300 feet below the earth’s surface after the roof of a Chilean gold mine collapsed on August 5th. While engineers continue to work on an escape route, the miners are reportedly striving to keep busy and remain calm. One of the men writes poetry. Another serves as the crew’s medic, and another, the group’s spiritual leader. The miners recite prayers. They talk to their families via a fiber-optics line. They exercise and share food. Each is faced with the task of survival and somehow, with the help of one another, and of family members and doctors above ground, they are staying alive.
I remember reading about the first note the miners sent up after being trapped for more than two weeks. “All 33 of us are well inside the shelter,” it read. Maybe it’s time, now that this hot, sweaty, politically hostile summer has passed, that those of us lucky enough to be above-ground focus on staying well, too.