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News Reporting on Cable News Networks

Less than three months to the election.  The twenty four hour news stations are filling the airways with the same comments all day. Cable twenty four hour news coverage seemed like a good idea years ago. There would be coverage of all breaking news and we would all be better informed.  We would not be limited by what we could see in the thirty minute evening network news.  Many in the industry people did not accept the idea,  but when the Persian Gulf war began we saw live war news as it happened for the first tine. Bombs over Bagdad was the.catchword of the day.  Suddenly all the networks stopped laughing at Ted Turner and CNN and started starting up their on cable news networks..

Somewhere along the way  between then and now something went wrong.  Instead of broad objective covering of the evdnts taking place in the world we have biased reporting of whatever the news item of the day turns out to be.   Networks to the left and to the right feature hour long shows hosted by different anchors, each endlessly analyzing the same events and making the same points, those points being the points of view of the particular network. There is too much time devoted to the same events. There us not enough to say about these few news items to take up all the time allotted, so the same points are repeated all day long by different spokespersons  for their respective networks.  Facts are interpreted and opinions are stated as facts.  Language describing the events us used loosely to create the desired   impression.  Incendiary words are used to exaggerate and intensify the importance of the events being reported and of those doing the reporting.  The scope of the news reported us extraordinarily and exceedingly narrow.  Networks play to their targeted audiences and ignore anything that will not greatly appeal to that audience.

Ratings are down. People don’t watch the cable news as they did.  My own viewing time is down. News viewing time of many people I know is down as well, sometimes limited to the evening news shows or to the local news.  I believe it is time for the networks to broaden their approach. Interesting and important things are happening in the world that  should be reported  and discussed. I would like to see some innovation in that direction. I believe we all would.   The cable news networks could do better.  I hope they will.

 

 

 

 

Presidential Election 2020

Three months to go until the election. It can still go either way. The swing states necessary to win can still be won by either party. Democrats have a slight lead in Wisconsin. That state will have to be turned around for the Republicans to win. I believe all of the other must win states are within the margin if error and could go either way. Some states may depend on who the Democrats Vice President candidate is. The running mate can win or lose a few states and that could make the difference in a tight race. Since we have the electoral college the national polls and popular vote do not mean anything. The individual state polls and polls have to be considered and the electoral votes counted to make any kind of meaningful prediction about the final outcome. At the Constitutional Convention the small states demanded influence do they would not be dominated completely by the large states of Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania. The large states face in to them and we still live with the results. I think the large states should have stood their ground and demanded a popular vote for president (and a senate based on population) but they did not.

I don’t think it is possible at this time to predict who will win. Popular opinion and polls in individual states can change quickly and often does. Most incumbents gave been reelected, but not always. Jimmy Carter and George Bush the first come to mind as examples. That tells me the most likely outcome is a Republican win in another close election with the winner not getting the most popular votes. For that, you can blame the founding fathers from the large states who caved to the smaller states when they should not have. Only a constitutional amendment can change that now.

Virus, The Flu, Covid 19, and What To Do About It

This year will probably be know as the year covid 19 appeared as a world pandemic. I first heard about it sometime in February. It was something in China and at first I was not concerned. China and other parts of the world often have outbreaks of viral or other diseases that are contained snd never affect North America. Then in late February a few cases were reported in metro Atlanta and it began to get my attention. In late February I had congestion, headache, night sweats, chills, dry cough, chest pain, sore throat, tiredness and fatigue. That happens about every winter at least once and I thought it was another annual virus. By the first week in March I felt better. I had a routine doctor’s appointment unrelated to any virus in the first week of March. The doctor did not shake hands with me. He was not wearing a mask. He was concerned about the virus being in Atlanta. In the following weeks reports of the virus began filling the news, and then came the devastation in New Uork and other northern cities. There were some outbreaks in Georgia and other states and I began to take notice.

I starting reading about virus research, seasonal flus and pandemics in the past. I had grown up hearing family stories of the Spanish flu. Virus born illness is something we live with. All the illnesses are different. The one thing they have in common us their unpredictability. They constantly mutate and that is what makes them unpredictable. They can mutate to become less deadly, or mutate to become more deadly. They can become easier to transmit or more difficult to transmit. Messages from health experts about covid 19 have changed since January as more has been learned, and as the virus had undergone mutation which they believe has made it less lethal but easier to transmit.

Early expectations were that the virus would be contained in China. Then after it arrived here the prediction was that it would subside with hot weather. Neither of those predictions came true. The expects told us that the virus was transmitted by surface touch. Then it was by droplets that would only stay in the air for twenty minutes or less and travel less than six feet from the person who had it. Now they are saying that the virus is suspended in aerosol form in the air and can spread or be blown around a room and stay in the air for hours. That explains why it is still being transmitted in the hot weather in the South. People gather in cool air conditioned rooms to escape the heat. The problem is often the rooms are poorly ventilated and the virus lives in the air for long periods of time. Masks offer some protection but are not air tight and do not filter out all the virus particles. When I wear a mask the air I breath in comes from around the edges of the mask, not filtered through the mask. Any particles in the air I would breath right in. The expects say that a mask would catch a large part if the virus a person with the virus expelled when he coughed or spoke. But a large part is not the same as catching all if it. There us still some danger of virus escaping into the air in the room.

Gathering in groups in a poorly ventilated to escape summer heat in the south may not be much better than gathering in a poorly ventilated room in the winter in the North to escape the cold.

The best outcome I can see would be for the virus to quickly mutate into something no more harmful than a head cold or mild stomach virus that we quickly get over with mild symptoms. But the most likely outcome is for it to be around for years as a recurring seasonal or annual illness. I would not bet on it becoming harmless and going away any time soon.

A lesson to be learned from this is to keep our rooms and buildings well ventilated. Recycled air should be well filtered. In 1918 doctors learned that Spanish flu patients with access to fresh air and sunshine and even treated outside in tents had better survival rates. Those with high levels of vitamin D also did better. Deficiencies in vitamin D and other health problems was not a good prognosis. One advantage people may have in the summer us that they spend more time outside and get more vitamin D, and spend less time in poorly ventilated rooms to stay warm. That may be why seasonal flu subsidies in the summer.

Civil Disorder

Civil disorder has been all over the news for months. Disorder in Seattle and Portland being the most recent in prominence. Seattle and Portland. That is a surprise. Who would have thought there would be disorder and riots there, of all places. I was in Seattle years ago. It was a beautiful snd peaceful city. That was in 1961. A continent and a lifetime away. A lot has changed since then. In Portland groups want to burn down and destroy the federal courthouse. The federal courthouse. Who in the United States would want to attack and destroy a federal courthouse. That is nothing short of an attack on the constitution itself. An attack on our entire federal government. I find that astounding. Who are these people, what do they think and where do they come from.

When Washington was president farmers in Pennsylvania refused to pay a federal tax on whiskey that they made, traded, use for money, transported to market and sold. That was their main source of income. But the new country had debts it needed to pay and expenses that it needed to meet. So the tax was levied, and it was not popular. A group of farmers stmed themselves, attacked federal officers and destroyed property. Western Pennsylvania was deemed to be a state of rebellion. Washington led an army there and put down the disorder. Several people were killed in fighting before the army arrived. Arrests were made. Two of the leaders of the disorder were convicted of treason and sentenced to hang. Washington pardoned those convicted and no executions were carried out. Jefferson was against the tax. He ran for president with repeal as part of his platform and was elected. The tax was repealed after he was sworn in to office. The affair is known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The affair created political parties, established the tight of the federal government to maintain order, and recognized the right of assembly and petition as part of our culture.

I don’t know where this disorder will end. I hope it does soon, without the necessity of sending an army to Oregon. That could happen. There is precedent for doing so.

Disagreement with the federal government and its actions is not new. Neither is disorder, even violent disorder. It draws attention. Sometimes it results in change. Sometimes not. History will decide how this plays out. Whatever happens, whatever the legacy if this year’s disorders turns out to be, this year will be remembered in history.

Why We Do Not Have a Democracy

Constitutional government is different from a democracy. In a democracy issues are decided by majority vote. Everyone votes, their votes have equal weight, and majority wins. It sounds good and is simple to understand. Constitutional government on the other hand is a bit more complicated. The constitution prohibits some issues from being decided by a majority vote. A constitution may require more than a majority to change some laws. Our constitution is so written. Passage if an amendment requires more than majority votes. In addition, it requires a two thirds vote in the senate to remove the president and certain other federal officers from office.

The men who wrote the constitution put those provisions in because they did not trust the majority of the voters. They thought people would vote for whatever idea became popular at any point in time, and wanted to protect the country from what they saw as the whims of the majority.

As restrictive as the constutuon was, it did not pass until a bill of rights was adding which further restricted the ability of a democratic majority to make certain changes in the law.

Those people who complain that our government is not responsive to snd does not follow the will of the majority of the people are correct. And our government was designed that way. The founders dud not want the majority of the people to control the government in all respects. They required that certain changes were reserved to supermajorities and difficult to make.

The constitution also did not provide that all votes should have equal value. It provides that each state shall have two Senators, regardless of the relative population of each state. The electoral college also favors small states with smaller populations

The ability of the majority of voters to amend the constitution and make other changes in our laws is still not allowed. And inequality of votes between voters of different states has become much greater as the population has grown in certain areas of the country.

The constitution is the legal contract that sets out the rules and framework for our government. It is not a perfect instrument that satisfies everyone. It is until changed the law if our country. It established a republic of laws. It did not create a democracy where the people ruled by majority vote.

Protests, Riots and Chaos

Our country seems to be exploding. It is easy for order to disappear. The question is how we can go so long without disorder and chaos. The question is how do civilizations, cultures, groups of people live together at all for long periods of time without disruption. It happens when countries are made up of people with the same values, traditions, and cultures. Groups like that are nations, as opposed to legal structures with boundaries that are called countries. The United States is a country made up if a union of a number of nations held together by a legal contract we refer to as the Constitution. It has held us together for a long time, partly because it has been amended twenty seven times over the years. There are discussions and dissatisfactions now about its terms. Some people want to change the way we elect the president. Others are unhappy with the makeup of the senate which gives greater representation to the smalll states. Other people complain about Federal judges being appointed for life, how difficult it is to amend the constitution, and how difficult it is to remove the president from office. There sre many other complaints and desired changes. Now states are objecting to federal agents enforcing federal laws in their states.

Polls and studies show that people are happiest and do better in countries that are the most democratic, where the vote of each voter has equal weight, where issues are decided by majority vote, and where the candidate with the plurality if votes wins. Currently, on a democracy scale thd United States ranks twenty fifth. Our rank on happiest country id dimilar. That is not as near to the top as we would like to be.

We are now having protests, demonstrations, riots and violence in our streets. Desperate people are in the streets making demands. Protests can and are turning into violence. Most of us want it to stop. We want an end to the divisions within our country. Some look back to what they see as more peaceful times and want them back. Others look to the future. That is the right direction. The past was not all that much better. The future can be.

We have lasted this long as a country because our people believe in democracy and a government of law. We have obeyed the laws enacted until they were changed through peaceful process. Whether we continue along that course now appears to be in question.

Backyard Deer

A couple of weeks ago my wife glanced out the window and saw a deer in the backyard. She called out for me to come see it. We both watched in wonder as it grazed on the plants growing in the yard. Plants that we mow and refer to as grass. Some of it is of known varieties, creeping fescue, centipede, bermuda and zoysia that I have planted as sod or sown over the years. The rest is crab grass, wild flowers and other green vegetation that most people call weeds. It grazed and munched on what it wanted and liked and left the rest, wandering around the yard as its nose and other senses guided it. The yard is fenced in with a four foot fence and closed gate. But a four foot hop is not much for a deer to jump over, and I had seen signs of deer in the back before. After a few minutes the deer heard a noise and scurried with small hops to the rear of the yard, beyond the grass line, sheltered under the large oaks, pines and poplars, hidden by the smaller and younger dogwoods, hollies, young cedars, fir and spruce trees, and surrounded by azaleas, a large camilla, and other various types of evergreens and shrubs. Natural cover and shelter for a deer.

We continued to watch for the deer daily and would see it in the early mornings and late afternoons peeking out from its shelter, them coming out to graze. It would listen to sounds with perked up ears and watch for a while and then retreat to its hidden home.

A few days later as I drove up the driveway my wife looked upset and asked if I had trimmed her hanging basket of begonias. The beautiful flowers had been cut off evenly down to the stalks. I laughed and denied touching them. The deer had eaten the tops of the plant. It was in a large hanging basket our youngest daughter had given her for her birthday. She had placed it on the ground the day before under a dogwood tree in an island of small plants and flowers near the driveway.

After that my wife was not as happy about having a deer living in our backyard. It was not as cute and nice to look at. The next morning when it came out onto the grass a newborn fawn was with it. We watched as the doe grazed and reached up to eat some vines growing on a low hanging branch of a small wild cherry tree. The fawn was trying to walk on its small legs and staying near the doe. Soon they disappeared into shelter behind the grass line. That was the last time we saw them. Does like to move their fawns around, not staying long in one spot. We talked about it eating the begonias, and how deer eat small plants and how much damage they do in areas where they are overpopulated. They can cause damage if uncontrolled. But the deer were beautiful and graceful. We enjoyed having them in our backyard for a few days. But a few days was enough. The hanging basket is hanging high now. We are watering the plant and waiting for new blooms. One week with the deer was enough.

Genetic Clusters and Groupings

Humans have been studying how physical and personality traits have been inherited for as long as recorded history. The discovery of genetics has finally provided clues and knowledge of how this works.

Research to date shows that all Homo Sapiens are one species. A species is defined as a group whose members can reproduce. Within the species, many groups become isolated and develop mutations which spread through their isolated group. Over generations these groups acquire through that process genetic differences which are different from other groups of people isolated in other different parts of the world. These differences result in changes in physical and personality differences. If the groups remain isolated long enough the differences will become so wide that the groups will not be able to reproduce and at that point will be different species. These differences in genetics are called genetic clusters. People who have been isolated from other people for long periods of time develop clusters of genes that appear within their groups more than in other groups. If individuals from isolated groups people move into other places and produce children from people of other groups, the clusters of genes become mixed together in varying degrees.

Certain placed in the world are more isolated or more mixed than others. America is very highly mixed. Some states or parts if the country more than others. Many individuals contain clusters of DNA or genetic material from many sources and parts of the world. Physical, personalty, and cultural traits cart greatly.

In recent years it has become popular to get DNA tested to find out in what parts of the world your ancestors lived before they came to America. Many people do that and find out there genetic clusters indicate they are not from where they thought they were, and not genetically a part of the culture they believed they were a part if and belonged to. This has created a great deal of anguish in some people. As a result, people talk about belonging to ethnic groups now. Identification with an ethnic group is based on self identity and not solely on genetics and DNA. Results of DNA tests can be very surprising.

Police Reform

Instances of injury and death at the hands of police are in the news. And cries for police reform are on the voices and signs of protestors around the country.

My analysis is that most, if not all, of the injuries or deaths are the aftermath of failure to follow police instructions, threats or perceived threats toward the police, resisting arrest, violence toward policy or attempted escape. In all those instances, the police have to act, and act quickly, forcefully and decisively. To do otherwise would be to lose their authority and ability to enforce the law.

Resisting arrest is a crime, in addition to the crime which may have already been committed. If violence is used toward the police, that would in some states be a felony. If that is followed by an attempt to escape then the police are authorized legally to use force, including deadly force to prevent the escape. The police are also legally authorized to use deadly force in self defense if they are threatened.

In case of a confrontation with police, the directions of the police should be followed without resistance, defiance, protest or argument. This is true even if the arrest is illegal or if the person is innocent. The time for relief is later through litigation for wrongful arrest or other court action. Argument, violence or attempted escape on the street can only lead to bad results.

I see police as public servants who are put in highly stressful situations where hard snd tough decisions have to be made. People resisting arrest have to be taken into custody by force. Sometimes that force can result in injury or death to the suspect, and as often as not, to the policeman. There is no other choice when it is necessary to enforce the law. Either the suspect complies or force has to be used. No amount of reform can change that simple fact.

If a question arises as to whether the force used was excessive or inappropriate, there is a legal process to decide. The final determination is made at court by a jury after due process and presentation of the facts, the law snd the arguments on both sides. That is how complaints and offenses are handed, through our courts and legal system. Not on the streets resisting arrest and fighting with police.

Covid 19

I first heard of the coronavirus sometime in February. It sounded like some new type of flu, not too different from the flus we had every winter, with new types every few years. I did not think much about it, but I did listen to the symptoms. Dry cough, fever, aches, chills, headaches, congestion.

In late February I thought I get a cold. I have them every year. They aggravate my asthma and csuse chest congedtion. For over a week I had congestion, chills, a dry cough, night sweats, headaches, aches, fatigue and weakness. Just a normal cold I thought. In early March my wife and I went out to our favorite restaurant for dinner. We went there often and knew most of the staff. One of the waitresses we know said hello as she passed by our booth. She was four months pregnant and excited about having a baby, which would be her second. We noticed she was wearing gloves. She laughed about it and said she was worried about the virus. None of the other staff were concerned. When our waiter came to our booth and asked how we were, I said I felt fine but I had been having a dry cough, headaches and congestion. He looked at my wife and said this guy is a real joker, and we all laughed. A week later Georgia restricted restaurants to take out service only. The next week we saw on social media that the restaurant closed. I wonder how the pregnant waitress and the rest of the staff is doing without jobs.

My wife and I have been following the guidelines since March. We go grocery shopping, use take out service. That is about all we go out for. Our children and grandchildren visit snd we sit outside in lawn chairs and stay six feet apart. My wife and I are both in the high risk group.

Based on prior history, I believe the virus will be a pandemic until forty or fifty per cent of us have immunity, either by having it or by vaccinated. That will not happen until sometime next year. The vaccine is not even ready yet.

Normally, virus illnesses fase out during summer months as people are less confined in poorly ventilated rooms and spend more time outside soaking up vitamin D. This summer is different, possibly due to socializing in crowded bars and other places inside.

In Atlanta our large office buildings are largely empty. People are working from home. They may never get back working every day from an office like they were before. Workers are more productive and happier working from home.

Another favorite restaurant closed last week. More businesses are closing and companies are talking about furloughing workers. I am still waiting for some good news.