Category Archives: Politics

My local newspaper published a disturbing editorial today. It seems they will no longer be running editorials to make recommendations in political races.

What I find troubling about this is not just the realization my local paper has decided to cede to the Internet, rumors, and coffee talk their civic responsibility to intelligently weigh the options when election time rolls around. No, it’s more than that. My bigger issue is they went quietly, without a fight.

As the apologist editorial running today makes clear, this was a corporate decision. The owner of the paper, the Halifax Media Group, has apparently come to the conclusion that it is better to publish a bland, occasionally inaccurate newspaper of dubious value to the reader, than it is to risk offending that reader.

Welcome to the end of print journalism folks. When it becomes too risky to express considered opinions on the editorial and opinion pages of the newspaper – we all lose. Our penchant for political correctness now prevents the primary news gathering machine in our cities and towns from freely expressing themselves.

What’s the point of a first amendment right to free speech if the publications who need it most are afraid to exercise that right?

Admittedly, I’ve had my differences with my local paper. Their once proud tradition of publication has been replaced in recent years by an ever shallowing curiosity to ferret out facts, and a troubling willingness to print opinons on the news pages, as if they were facts. That’s not good. But today’s announcement is worse. This is the culmination of a nightmare scenario men of my grandfather’s time feared – a country with no serious news coverage.

In this respect at least, the computer industry, the news industry, and the political stability of our cities, counties, states, and nation all share a common truism. Garbage in, garbage out. If you do not provide high quality input, you will inevitably suffer from poor quality output. It’s just that simple.

This is a sad day. Newspapers across the nation are gutting themselves, willingly, in a vain attempt to pander to a readership who have options. And my local newspaper just admitted it in public without the decency to even show signs of embarrassment as they abdicate their responsibilities.

In the old days you read the paper, or you were ignorant of what was happening in the world. Today, we have so many options our heads are swimming. Most of those options are Internet based, and often their journalistic standards are so low, or so skewed, the information they choose to share is of dubious value to the public. Shockingly, those low standards are now superior to what many of our long-lived newspapers can deliver to us. And so readers are dropping their subscriptions and ignoring newspapers in large numbers. Not because they’re too offensive, rather because they are too bland, too pointless, too careful not to offend – even at the price of failing to inform the reader who dropped their quarters into the slot expecting better.

It is a disappointment that publishers and editors have so easily knuckled under to short sighted boards in far off cities. Our newspapers are worse for it. Our communities are worse for it. And soon, our political process will suffer mightily because those who were charged with informing us have chosen instead to focus on publishing nothing more challenging than entertainment fluff, discount coupons, and obituaries.

Are you wondering what the value of aviation might be? Good. I’ve got an answer for that question. So sit back, relax, put your feet up and get ready for a unique perspective on why aviation matters to each and every one of us, even if we have no intention of ever going to an airport ourselves.

It has occurred to me that my perspective is unique, even peculiar in these purportedly desperate times. I say this because there are a number of stories in the national press this week that I must admit, seem beside the point to me. No, they’re beyond beside the point. They’re stupid.

That’s not a word I use lightly; stupid. I reserve it for instances where no other word will do. And as sad as it may be as a descriptor of our current state of affairs, but stupid is the focus of the news all too often these days. No matter which network is airing it, regardless which publisher ships it, irrespective of which radio station it runs on…our news is being issued by nitwits without the decency to wear a ridiculous hat to identify themselves to the public at large as idiots in training.

The situation is pathetic.

As an example, within hours of Mitt Romney naming his vice-presidential pick, we began to learn details of representative Ryan’s life that I can’t begin to believe have any bearing on his ability to think, or act, or lead. I’m not sure which editor, in what corner of the world, thought that Ryan’s brief dalliance at the wheel of the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile was newsworthy, or pertinent, yet there it was on the news for all to see.

Horrors! We couldn’t possibly have an Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile driver only a heart beat away from the White House. Certainly not. Just consider the illustrious string of resume’s that have preceded him. There was a tailor (Andrew Johnson), a high school principal (James Garfield), a football coach (Woodrow Wilson), a miner (Herbert Hoover), and an actor (Ronald Reagan).

With all that in mind, is a youthful connection to a major hot dog manufacturing company really such a big deal?

On the opposite side of the coin is the ongoing debate, pointless and perennial as it has become, of whether or not President Obama was born in the United States, or Kenya, or Indonesia, or on Mars. So far Curiosity, the rover that recently landed on the red planet, has found no evidence of the young Barack spending an extra-terrestrial spring break on its substantial beaches. Perhaps Dinesh D’Souza will bring something truly riveting to light in his new movie, 2016. But even that matters little. That ship has sailed, friends. Once the man steps to the podium, takes the oath, and strolls into the oval office – you have a president, whether you like him (or her) or not.

The qualifications to be president are simple and brief. They are stipulated in that ultra-concise document known as the US Constitution. In Article II, Section 1, you will find the rules. To be President of the United States you have to fulfill exactly two prerequisites. You must be a natural born citizen, and you must be at least thirty-five years old.

That’s it. Somebody may want to break this gently to the talking heads on television, there are no additional qualifications. So when they spout off asking pointedly, “Is Random Named Candidate qualified to be the President of the United States?” somebody should point out that slim list of rules in a strong, clear voice.

So let’s be generous and assume that Mitt and Paul, as well as Barack and Joe, are all natural born citizens of the United States who are at least thirty-five years old. In fact, there are considerable indications that they all are. So we’re on relatively solid ground with this one. They’re all qualified to run. The question becomes, of the candidates offering themselves up for the job, are they the ones you would most like to see running your business? Because America is indeed your business, and mine, and everybody else’s, too. So let’s talk rather than shout. Let’s plan rather than react. And let’s take just a moment to consider that it’s possible that we don’t have to hate each other just because we have a different political philosophy of how to help the poor, care for the elderly, retrain those of our age, and educate the next generation coming up behind us.

That really shouldn’t be that hard – should it?

My friends at General Aviation News continue to grace me with column inches in their print publication, and plenty of free electrons on their website. Today’s installment is called, Contact. It deals with the tremendous benefits we have working for us in the modern age when it comes to communications. Take a peek. You just might like it.

“In the old days, the word “Contact!” was central to the process of getting things going. The pilot yelled  “Contact!” The mechanic then responded in kind while laying hands on the prop. Seconds later, after a grunt, a flip of the prop, and a puff of smoke, an airplane would leap to life.

Technology has changed that process a bit. But the need to make contact is as important as ever, in whatever form it takes.”