Bipartisanship at work

And so it starts. Mere moments after the second (read that again: SECOND) vote to bring debate on the so-called bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill to a close failed in the Senate yesterday, big media types began their whining.

Grab a tissue and quit your sobbing. The vote, 45-50 for cloture, shows that the system works — in bipartisan fashion.

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz said the bill’s defeat “represents a scathing indictment of the political culture of Washington.” If he means that President Bush and Sens. Ted Kennedy and John McCain are out of touch, he’s right. Then the headline on his piece would make sense: “A Failure of Leadership in a Flawed Political Culture.” But we know that wasn’t Balz’ point.

His article later quotes Sen. Mel Martinez: “The United States Senate, in its long and storied history, today bipartisanly failed the American people. That’s plain and simple.”

The LA Times called the defeat “shameful — and we hope temporary.” Well, good luck on that.

Sorry, Mel. Sorry, LA Times. The majority of Americans, on both sides of the aisle, wanted this bill to die. So be it.

UPDATE: The New York Times weighed in belatedly with “A Failure of Leadership.”

Just look at the polls. Rasmussen found that only 26 percent of the public supported the 400 page “compromise.” That same poll found that 78 percent said enforcement is very important, while only 38 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of Republicans said legalization is a priority.

So, how exactly is it a failure of leadership? Perhaps that reams of paper were wasted printing this bill at all.

Sure, there’ll be plenty of blame to go around. Was it the amendments — you know, to sunset the guest worker program, make English the national language, block newly-legal workers from collecting Social Security on wages they earned illegally — that killed it?

Or, as USA Today points out, the distortion of the A-word: amnesty.

We’ve been hearing that argument from the supporters of the bill for the past two weeks. “It’s not amnesty, and those who call it that are just trying to scare you.”

If the best argument you have for something that is supposedly “comprehensive” and worked out through “bipartisan compromise” is that the other side is using the wrong word, then you’ve got problems.

Here’s an idea. Let the bill die. Bury it in a hole dug by one of those guys waiting for work in front of Home Depot.

We don’t need it.

Use the laws on the books now. First, we already have a path to citizenship. Many fine people have used it. In fact, back during the Reagan administration — you know, when that first amnesty bill passed — the U.S. cut much of the red tape involved in becoming a legal resident. Why we need some new, government-bloated program now is beyond me — especially since the government can’t seem to handle the one it has now.

Second, listen to the American people. Build that fence. Get control of the situation. Then, maybe — maybe the citizens of this country will be open to suggestions from Bush, Kennedy and McCain.

And as for the media nitwits crying in their Cheerios this morning, stop your sniveling. Your precious bipartisanship worked last night.


Ultimate shame

flags at arlington

On a day the United States sets aside to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great country, some have chosen to exhibit ultimate shame.

Shame on John Edwards. Shame on USA Today. Shame on the New York Times. Shame on the Houston Chronicle. Shame on the North County Times. And shame on any that I missed in my daily reading of editorial pages.

Instead of taking time to pause and remember the 657,524 U.S. service members who died in battle since the start of the Revolutionary War, they took today as an opportunity to make an argument they can, and do, make every other day of the year

Memorial Day is not about Iraq, the growing disgust for the war or making political points. No. Today is about remembering, and thanking, those who died in uniform. Period.

You do nothing to honor their memories by using their day to score points against President Bush. All you do with your masturbatory preaching is make yourself feel good by trampling on the graves of those who gave their lives so you can get off.

Save it for tomorrow. Today, get over yourself and say thanks.

Perhaps the papers were looking for a new spin on Memorial Day editorials, wanting to avoid the typical “jingoism” of such days and make them meaningful for those reading during war. But all they did was restate what they’ve been saying for months — hardly anything “new.”

Want a new take? Check out the Baltimore Sun’s two editorials today. Or the Orange County Register, which reminded folks that in 2000 Congress established a national moment of silence at 3 p.m. Or the Sacramento Bee, which used a local story to launch its remembrance.

And John Edwards? The Bret Girl couldn’t be more of a panderer, asking Americans to actually protest today instead of visiting a national cemetery and placing flags.

The purpose of Memorial Day is to stop and pay homage. Unfortunately, some forgot the point and took it as an opportunity to continue political bickering.

That’s the ultimate in shame.

(Arlington National Cemetery photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi.)


5 things you should know before dating a journalist

So, you’ve been eyeing that smart, attractive journalist you’re lucky enough to know personally. You’re intrigued. Your journalist is smart, funny, confident. Visions of Clark Kent taking off the glasses and ripping off his clothes to reveal a perfectly toned body in blue spandex coming to save you run through your head.

Who can blame you? Journalism is a sexy occupation.

But journalists aren’t like the bimbos you usually pick up at the bar. Nor are they the assholes you ladies continually fall for. No, journalists are different beings (which is why you’re attracted to them in the first place), and you should realize — before jumping in — that this isn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill, boring, lame relationship you’re used to.

Here’s what you need to know:

1We can figure things out. Understand, we’re paid to dig deep, find the secrets and wade through bullshit. We can pick up on subtleties, so what you think you are hiding from us won’t be hidden for long. Sure, we’ll act surprised when you eventually tell us you starred in German porn as a freshman in college — but we already knew.

We don’t take shit from anyone, so don’t lie to us or give a load of bullshit. We spend all day separating fact from fiction, listening to PR cronies and dealing with slimy politicians. If you make us do the same with you, you’re just gonna piss us off. And don’t think we’ll be quiet about it. We’ll respond with the vengeance of an Op-Ed page railing against society’s injustices — and we’ll enjoy doing it.

Just tell us the truth. We can handle it.

2At some point, you will be a topic. Either through a feature story or an opinion column, something you do or say will be a subject. Get over it. Consider it a compliment, even if we’re arguing against you in print.

Think about it: we live our lives writing about life. If you’re a part of our life, we’re going to write about you, your thoughts or a subject springing from one of the two.

Don’t be upset when an argument against your adoration of Hillary Clinton turns up on page A4. We’re not directing the writing at you, personally — your ignorance was just our inspiration (there, doesn’t that make you feel better?).

3Yes, we think we’re smarter than you. In fact, we know it. Does that smack of ego? Absolutely — but that confidence is what makes your heart go pitter-patter.

We have a strong, working knowledge of how the world works. That makes us great in conversation. We can delve into the intricacies of zoning laws, local and national politics, where to find the good restaurants, what’s happening with pop culture, where the good bands are playing and more.

But there are pitfalls.

Guaranteed, when you say “towards,” we will automatically say “toward” — “towards” is not a word. We’re not trying to call you dumb (even though you don’t understand the English language), it’s habit. The same will happen when you say “anxious” when you mean “eager” and when you answer “good” when someone asks how you are doing.

We carry ourselves with a certain arrogant air. Embrace it (that’s what attracted you to us in the first place, after all). Don’t be surprised if we’re not impressed when you say, “I’m a writer, too.” No, you are not. The fact that you sit in a coffee shop wearing black while scribbling in your journal does not make you a writer. Nor does the fact that you “wrote some poems in high school” or that one day you want to pen “the great American novel.”

Look, we’re paid to write. Every day. What’s more, our writing matters. It changes opinions, affects decisions and connects people with the world around them.

We’re not spewing our angst or trying to fabricate an aura of creativity. We write about the real world — with real consequences.

Our words go through three or four cranky editors who make us rewrite before it’s printed a few hundred thousand times and distributed all over town. You don’t do that unless you’re confident, even egotistical.

You may have some great journal entries, poems and rudimentary short stories — good for you. Just don’t assume we’ll accept that as on par with what we do (unless you’re really hot, then hell, you’re a better writer than I).

4You’re not less important than the job — the job is just more important than anything else. One doesn’t become a journalist to sit in an office from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday.

We do take our work home. If news is happening, we’ll drop whatever we’re doing — even if it’s with you — to cover it. We’re always looking for stories, so yes, we’ll stop on the street to write something down, interview a passer-by or gather information for a lead.

On that same note, don’t get upset if you call us on deadline suggesting some afternoon nookie and we say, “I’ve got to put the paper to bed first.” That could mean hours from now, but we’ll have plenty of time to put you in bed later.

5You won’t be disappointed. Journalists are intense, driven, passionate folk. We carry those same attributes into our relationships, making it an extremely fun ride well worth the price of admission. Our lives are never boring and each day is different.

If the pitfalls are scaring you away, consider this:

The fact that we’re inquisitive means we’ll listen to you. Even if it does seem like an interview, we’re paying attention to what you have to say (see rule No. 1).

We’ll write about you or your thoughts because you’re an important part of our life and we care about you (see rule No. 2).

Our brains are a great resource. Ever go on a date with an attractive person and wind up wishing you hadn’t because everything they say is just, well, stupid? That’s not going to happen here (see rule No. 3).

Yes, it may seem that we put the job ahead of you, but we’re driven. You’re not with that loser whose life is going nowhere and who’s completely content being mediocre (see rule No. 4).

There you go, five things you should know before dating a journalist. Feel free to add to the list, point out where I’ve missed something or leave a comment. And yes, ladies, I’m single (see rule No. 5).


Make it a conspiracy

I knew it the moment yesterday’s testimony from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch came on the TV — the North County Times would lead with this story this morning. You know, on the right side of the page, big bold headline … in that spot reserved each day for whatever (and we really mean whatever) negative news surfaces about the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. To my surprise, though, was that the Union-Tribune ran with it too (UPDATE: The NCT does put its front pages up. Thanx, M@tt.).

You, my two loyal readers, are probably sick of me ranting about the media making something out of nothing, but this story — and the hype its getting — cannot go without another rant.

First, let’s get to the facts of the story. Military cover-up of Tillman’s death? Embellishing the facts about Lynch? Not hardly.

In the case of Tillman, the Ranger says he was “ordered not to” talk about the incident right after it happened. OK, fair enough. But once you make your way across the puddle of drool left by Henry Waxman & Co., the story’s not that simple. The Army, specifically the Ranger’s superior, says he gave the order so Tillman’s family could be officially notified and not hear misreporting from the media (imagine that).

Turns out, the initial information about Tillman’s tragic death being caused by enemy fire was false — he was killed by U.S. troops assuming they were firing on the enemy. That’s unfortunate, but is this a cover-up?

No. C’mon. Once the Army was finished investigating the incident, it released the information publicly. That’s right, and it came out a mere month after Tillman died. Hardly a conspiracy to hide what happened. If there’s any conspiracy here, it stems from a lazy media eager to exploit Tillman’s story and somehow put him on a higher plane than the other men and women who have died in these wars.

This reminds of the supposed Abu Ghraib cover-up. You know, when the military held a press conference to come clean in January, no reporters bothered to show up, and then “broke” the story three months later?

It never ceases to amaze me that the left continually calls those in the Bush administration stupid and ignorant while also accusing them of overly elaborate conspiracies and cover-ups.

In the case of Lynch, she says the military overplayed her heroism, lying, even, about what happened. She says the American people don’t need to be told whom to hail as heroes, they can figure that out themselves. Again, it’s not surprising that the military might want to publicize its extraordinary service members.

Lynch’s testimony, though, begs the question: Does she need to be told who’s a hero? She was released with a Bronze Star. If she’s no hero, and the story was a lie, why did she accept it? Will she give it back?

Second, and what really bothers me today, is that the media just ran with this non-story. Was there a hearing? Yes. Was this testimony given? Yes. Does that mean reporters, editors, publishers, etc. should just print and broadcast it?

Whatever happened to checking someone’s facts before running with what they tell you? Even making sure the other side is well represented? Folks can say anything in a public hearing. That doesn’t make it fact nor does that make it news. YOU STILL SHOULD CHECK IT. Shoot, even question why the hearing is being held in the first place.

Reporters in Coastal North County should understand this well. There’s a reason the rantings of the man who calls himself “Police Watch” and shows up at council meetings in Oceanside, Carlsbad and Encinitas don’t make their way into the paper — the guy’s not credible; he doesn’t present a strong case.

Sure, let’s print what happened at the hearing, but it doesn’t deserve this kind of play. I’m with Bill Otis: the media is playing into Congress’ venal attempt to use a tragic incident for political ends.