Friday, January 07, 2005

Why I stopped reading the paper

On November 5th we cancelled our newspaper subscriptions to the local Las Vegas Review Journal and the Wall Street Journal. I liked the local news, and the WSJ always had interesting articles. But their undying faith in the current government system and vicious attacks on the candidates from the 'other' side ended up being just too much for me to take.
So we stopped reading the paper, and stopped watching the news. The local news was no problem - here it's either full of fluff pieces about the casinos or whatever, or copies of the national news stories just repeated from the wire services that we really didn't watch it too much anyway. We ranged through the network channels, but after seeing their lack of reporting for things I felt important made it OK to stop watching. We usually watched the PBS McNeil report, which was rather unbiased, but there was little uplifting news there either, and the nightly toll of the dead was rather depressing. It's hard to keep hearing about something over which I have no control at all, and really does not affect me much anyway. (yea, pretty crass, huh?)
But my mother missed reading the daily paper, and I missed seeing what movies were playing in the casino theatres (almost all the movie screens are in casinos in Vegas - usually nice ten screen places with fancy stadium seating - got to keep the kids occupied while the parents gamble). So we started getting the evening paper the LV Sun. It's more Democrat than the morning Republican paper, but still little uplifting stuff.
I usually content myself with the local section, and the Arts & Entertainment section - for the comics at least - but Wednesday I made the mistake of reading the first (national news) section. And quickly found out why I stopped reading it a few months ago.
First was the headline about "Car bomb kills 20 at Iraq Police Academy". No mention of dead American soldiers on page one, at least this issue. On page three is a column "In Brief", with a paragraph about "Patriot Act used against man". I figured, well, they finally got a terrorist on American soil. But no, it was about a guy that used a laser to light up an airplane, and so he is up for 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Sounds like the right tool for the job.
The first use of the "Patriot Act" was here in Vegas right after it was passed. The FBI used provisions of the "Act" to wiretap phones of the owners of some topless clubs, and got access to their financial records as well. Not because they were a threat to national security, but because it was a convenient law to use, since they couldn't get a judge to permit the taps before it was passed. (Update - nobody has been to trial yet as part of that investigation.)
And we were assured, and are still assured, that the "Patriot Act" will only be used against terrorism. Right - what politician do you believe today?
So what is the "Patriot Act" used for? Spying on US citizens not remotely connected with terrorism, hauling them into court and threatening them, and - oh yes - locking up several thousand people thought to be in the country illegally, again not part of terrorism, but just a convenient law to use. And most of those are still in prison, with no idea of trial or accusations. Just sitting because the government can.
And on the editorial page, a letter headed "Our generosity should extend to soldiers, families", which talks about the $250,000 to $1,500,000 that each family of the 9-11 tower attacks received, the $350 million plus manpower for the Asian tragedy, and the 1,500 dead and 10,000 wounded Americans from Iraq who receive almost nothing. Why do the families of people who just went to the office on the wrong day receive so much, while the soldiers that are shot at get so little?
I'll ignore the other stories for now, enough of a blood pressure increase. I will just try to ignore the front section, and keep putting on the home improvement channels when I get home from work. I would much rather see how to put in kitchen cabinets, which will affect me, than another 20 dead soldiers in Iraq, which fortunately do not affect me (other than in my mind and probably in my taxes) and which I have absolutely no control over anyway. I tried, yes I voted with the "minority", giving that group a "mandate" (at what, 50.5% of the vote?) to do what they want.
Make me sound evil? Well, what can I do about 140,000 dead on the beaches of Asia, or what can I do about the millions with Aids in Africa, or what can I do about the Egyptian nuclear experiments, or the North Korean bombs, or the Indian bombs, or just about any of it? Sorry, I have adopted the attitude that if it has no direct impact on my life then it does not really matter to me. I will pay more attention to my family and friends and those I care about than for people listed in the news that I have never seen. My mental attitude is more important than knowing about all of those deaths.
Rant for a Friday night. I really should get more of a life here.
Well, everyone else is in bed (dogs included). I am playing with my toy trains, and will meet with the group tomorrow morning to discuss playing with more. But donuts and coffee might overcome the political struggles in a club of eleven people.
Leaving you with something off of Allesandra's page. I thought she had some interesting posts, until I read today's and found out her feelings about others (sorry, Alessandra, but I find my opinions totally at odds with yours on several matters. I agree on some ideas but...) Anyway, an earlier post listed an interesting New Year's Telephone Message: "I am not available right now, but I thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes."
Nice way to phrase it - 'you are one of the changes'. I guess you can call my ignoring the news 'one of the changes' I will be making.

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