Yet another overflow crowd

Yet another overflow crowd, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Yet another overflow crowd at the Obama event in Hamden

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The Fourth Estate and the Unitary Executive Theory

One of the battlegrounds in our government over the past eight years has been around executive power. It has shown up in skirmishes where people have attempted to obtain information about how Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy policy was crafted. It has shown up in repeated battles over what the congress can compel members of the Bush administration to testify about.

So, it should come as no surprise that the campaign appears to be stretching the Unitary Executive Theory to new limits. Let’s apply them to Republican candidates for Vice President with regards to the media. Yes, the far right are all up in arms that the press wants to know how Sarah Palin is and what she believes. Roger Simon, in his blog post at Politico, Why the media should apologize sums it up nicely:

We have asked questions this week that we should never have asked.

We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

We have asked mean questions like: How well did John McCain know her before he selected her? How well did his campaign vet her? And was she his first choice?

Bad questions. Bad media. Bad.

Needless to say, McCain supporters and staff look at it in a different way. According to a blog post on Think Progress, McCain campaign strategists Rick Davis said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe,

We can afford anything we want to do. … We’re going to do what we think is in our best interest. If that means access to the press, we’ll give it to you

Yes, that is how campaigns are run. They always make their media choices. It is not only what is said on the media, but isn’t said that is important. By not addressing the press, Gov. Palin and the McCain campaign seems to be saying that they want to further the Bush Administration’s stonewalling and refusal to be accountable to the American people. They want to make sure that Cheney’s refusal to reveal how his energy policy was created is carried on for four more years. In essence, they are saying that they do not want to be a government, “Of, by and for the people.”

True, the media isn’t all that it could be, but it is better than nothing. So, yes, the McCain campaign can do whatever they want to do. Voters should do the same, and refuse to vote for a ticket that will not speak about positions, policies, or qualifications with the American media.

…to wound the autumnal city

Thursday night, channeling Hiroaki Protagonist and perhaps a touch of Edward Murrow, I sat on my couch watching events unfold in St. Paul at the Republican National Convention.

Murrow started off in the old established media of the age, providing radio broadcasts from Europe during World War II. Yet many people remember him for his work in the new media, television, leading to the censure of Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

So, like Hiro Protagonist, broke, but connected, I watched the old media, television this time. I’ve been television recording footage of the National Conventions for Remix America. Remix America provides the opportunity for participants to share footage, both old media television, as well as online videos from the new media, and mix them together to create an interesting and informative montage of country seen through various aspects of our media ecology. On the TV, and being recorded onto my hard disk, was Cindy Lou McCain , looking like the perfectly airbrushed Stepford wife talking about her life, a snapshot out of 1950s America.

At the same time, I was jacked into the new media. Across my screen Tweets from Twitter flickered. They provided information on the protests outside of the convention center, and links to live video of friends of mine citizen journalists, videographers, members of the new media, whatever you want to call it, as they tried to track the demonstrations and police response.

There were images of rows and rows of riot police, with their helmets, shields and batons, all looking the same, as if they were computer generated graphics of Star Wars Storm Troopers wearing black, or perhaps an outtake from the Matrix. There were reports of tear gas canisters exploding and protestors being rounded up. Friends huddled in their car as they gathered footage and tried to find a way to safety.

It was surreal; Cindy Lou, smiling inside the convention center and Chuckumentary being told by police to get out of the car and F**kin run. Images of Dhalgren came to mind.

This morning, I sit in my office in far away Woodbridge, Connecticut. It is sunny outside, but shows a projected path of Tropical Storm headed towards the Carolinas for the weekend, with Hurricane Ike on a path to hit Florida in the middle of next week. has been playing a medley of Paul Simon tunes. ‘Mrs. Robinson’ fades into ‘American Tune’.

The old media makes no mention of the protests and the arrest of journalists, and it almost seems like a bad dream induced by reading too much science fiction, yet the footage remains.

Growing up, I learned that when you stage a coup, the first thing you do, is seize control of the media outlets. The corporate media has been consolidating, yet is it enough? People have commented that in 1960, Kennedy defeated Nixon through a better use of the emerging media, television, instead of relying on the fading old media of radio. Will the same happen this time with the Internet and television?

So, I write my blog post and head off “… to wound the autumnal city”.

The Coyote

Yesterday was my wife Kim’s birthday. It was also the ninth anniversary of her mother’s death. I ran out to pick up something nice for breakfast for Kim on her birthday, and as I returned, I saw a large coyote in our neighbor’s driveway. They coyote came over and stuck his nose down our driveway, and later stopped by to check out Kim.

Kim’s mother had fought a long battle with cancer, and I started dating Kim during the final days of that battle. On Kim’s birthday, nine years ago, Kim and I went out to dinner with Kim’s father, her brother, and her sister-in-law. The family had gathered to move Kim’s mother from the hospital to hospice.

After the dinner was done and the gifts exchanged, including a gift that Kim’s mother somehow managed to order from her sick bed, Kim’s father received a message on his beeper. He called the doctor and found that his wife had died.

Within a year, Kim’s maternal grandmother died as well. She had been in great health, but she failed to recover from a minor heart attack. She died of a broken heart after her eldest daughter died of cancer.

Kim and I got married a year later, on her mother’s birthday, and our daughter Fiona was baptized the following year on our anniversary and her grandmother-in-heaven’s birthday.

Often, when Kim and I were out and about, we would see two morning doves beside the road, or crossing our paths. Morning doves frequently habituated Kim’s maternal grandmother’s house and Kim often commented about the doves being messengers from her mother and grandmother in heaven.

So, as I was greeted by the coyote yesterday morning, I thought about how their habitat has expanded greatly since Europeans first came to America, and about how they are becoming more common to Connecticut. I worried about the safety of our cat and our aging dog. Yet I also wondered about the coyote as totem.

The coyote is a great symbol in Native American lore. He is the trickster. Wolf’s Moon’s Spirit of Coyote writes,

The Trickster, always carries with him, lessons that are crucial to growth and change, yet the lesson he brings is usually one that is contained within a grand joke that Coyote plays upon the unwitting human. As such, though he is a Teacher Spirit, his lessons are taught via the vehicle of humor and wisdom found within folly.

Is The Trickster coming into our lives, to teach us some great lesson? The struggles of the past few years have been wearying and I hope that no new tricks our coming our way. Yet I do hope that the struggles of the past few years can be made sense of and integrated into some great story of growth and change.

Later, Wolf’s Moon writes,

Only through exploring many different avenues will the Coyote eventually find the Path that his/her heart resonates to, and along the way a variety of interests will capture their restless curiosity. Above all however, the Coyote individual needs to explore and investigate as theirs is an active and inquisitive mind. Hence, fields in which they are challenged intellectually or spiritually will resonate the strongest with them as well as a field in which they can share their insights and knowledge gained with Others.

Some professions which the combination of qualities mentioned above might be found are in the communications field such as writing or journalism, the educational field or any Role in which they are able to transmit their philosophy, ideas and ideals to their fellow Two-Leggeds.

So, is the coyote a totem? A messenger? Is there some sort of great lesson accompanied with humor and wisdom within folly? Is there a clue to help me find my path, a path that captures my restless curiosity? Does it have something to do with writing, journalism, education, or even blogging?

Or, was the coyote I saw yesterday morning a simple reminder of the wild animals that we share our world with, even in suburbia? Either way, it has caused me to reflect a little more on my life and the lives of those I touch. Hopefully, this post will cause others to reflect on their lives as well. What animal totems, messengers, or other things cause you to reflect on your life?

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