Congress gets recess, kids get spring break — what about US?!?

imageIf you’re a student or educator, you are probably getting excited about the approach of SPRING BREAK! Wee-HOO! For students of all ages it means a week of crazy fun with little or no responsibility, whether you’re a fifth-grader planning a Spongebob Squarepants marathon to Bikini Bottom, or a college student planning a bikini bottom marathon of a different kind. If you’re an educator, it means a student-free week away from grading papers with so much red ink your desk resembles a sacrificial altar. Seriously, are they learning NOTHING between Tweets in class?!?

Even Congress gets what is referred to as “recess.” Let’s be honest: If I performed as poorly at my job as they have, I would get what is referred to as “fired.”

That being said, for the rest of us, spring break holds about as much anticipation as trash day or a release date for “Frozen 3.”

This is particularly true for those of us with teenagers at home, many of whom will openly mock us each day by selfishly sleeping in. Then, in an added display of thoughtlessness, they will still be in their pajamas and deciding on breakfast when we come home for lunch! The audacity! Especially since they misspelled “audacity” on their last quiz! Continue reading

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Opposition for opposition’s sake is a no-win balancing act

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imageAs most parents will tell you, every child goes through a stage where they seem to suffer from oppositional disorder, fervently opposing even the slightest difference of opinion as if the future of the world depended on it.

Although I can’t confirm it, I’m pretty sure humanity will survive no matter who sang “Shameless” first.

(Billy Joel, by the way.)

Whether it’s the “terrible twos” or teens (or both, Lord help you) it’s part of a necessary step toward independence and establishing personal perspective on the road to maturity.

However, opposition itself isn’t a sign of maturity.

Opposition for sake the of opposition only limits our opportunities, our perspectives and the kind of understanding that helps us grow as
individuals.

Maturity happens with the recognition of this fundamental truth.  Continue reading

Don’t let disappointment keep you from voting

imageAfter becoming editor here at Siuslaw News in September, I began writing an Opinion piece a few times a month called “From the Editor’s Desk.” It had been several years since our newspaper had a regular opinion piece written by its editor. Being that most of our readers knew me only as a humor columnist, I felt it was an opportunity to show a different side and, hopefully, connect with the community in a different way.

I also saw it as a way to build an ongoing dialogue with our readers so that they don’t just read the newspaper, but feel like they are a part of it. The response has been terrific and, over the last several weeks, our Opinion page has become a lively, respectful exchange of viewpoints and insights.

If only I could say the same about this year’s election.  Continue reading

Making a preemptive strike on our Opinion page

As the elections grow more tense the closer we get to November, the climate of unsubstantiated facts and accusatory rants is slowly spreading from the political stage to social media posts, lines at the supermarket, between pews at church and in the letters we’ve been receiving for our Opinion page at Siuslaw News. For today’s editorial, I felt the need to remind people about the the purpose of the Opinion page, why it’s so important to our democracy… And why, as editor, I have to protect it before it gets too out of hand.

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So, I made a (mostly) serious video for peace

As I mentioned yesterday, I had the privilege of opening “Media Day” for #OURWEEKOFPEACE at The Public Blogger with this video about the responsibility that comes with Freedom of the Press. Here’s the 4-minute video in its entirety…

#OURWEEKOFPEACE continues today with “Education,” and wraps up Saturday, Aug. 6, with “Our Day of Peace,” with live exchanges from around the world at The Public Blogger Facebook page and ThePublicBlogger.com. Join the conversation by throwing your own Peace Sign in the air by leaving a comment, poem, photo or image in support of peace around the world and within our nation.

We need some of that right now…

 

 

Freedom of the Press, not freedom from responsible journalism

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Freedom of the Press: 

The right of the press to circulate information and opinion without censorship by the government.

 

 

 

 

While watching coverage of this week’s Republican National Convention, I switched between CNN, ABC, FOX-News, CBS and others. I read news articles online and in print, and watched live streaming from different sources online.

And I was struck by how one event could be seen so differently by so many news organizations — nearly all of which had a clear slant, whether for or against.

Our founding fathers made Freedom of the Press part of the Constitution’s First Amendment because, in the words of its principle author James Madison:

“We have no Facebook yet.”

And because I’m a journalist, you can trust me on that.

Continue reading

Only embracing our common thread can keep America from unraveling

imageI generally reserve this place for humor. That’s because I believe in the power of its shared experience, and how that experience brings people together. Good humor transcends color, religion, geography, financial status or political affiliation. It’s devoid of hate and allows us to embrace a common thread woven through our humanity that we all share through laughter.

All living creatures get angry, scared, excited or worried; it’s humor that makes us human.

But there are mornings like this when being funny doesn’t feel right. The events of the past few days have spilled over from a collective cup that has been filling with a bitter brew being served during a time of unprecedented polarization within our country. We are being divided and conquered by fear — of each other, our differences, and a political landscape that inspires the worst in us instead of what defines us at our best.

And we swallow this bitter brew not because it’s what we want, but because it’s all there is.

This week’s shootings in Louisiana, Minnessota and Dallas — like Orlando — are about the kind of fear that breeds mistrust and hatred. It’s also the kind of fear that is fast becoming the oxygen within the current political atmosphere. The more of it we breathe, the more it permeates us, coursing through our life blood and into our hearts until that fear we breathe is what sustains us.  Continue reading

Why we need a Presidential Aptitude Test

(I’m a guest at Open Thought Vortex Magazine today, proposing the creation of a Presidential Aptitude Test for future elections. Unfortunately, it’s too late for this one…)

imageIf I’m being honest, I have about as much enthusiasm for our choices in presidential candidates as I do for licking a 9-volt battery; I know the result won’t kill me but the anticipation itself is enough to make my tongue curl — because I know it’s still going to sting. As I’ve watched the process of elimination over the last several months, I can’t help but wonder how, with a population of more than 324 million, this is the best we have to offer? Maybe we forgot some people somewhere?

Like Rhode Island. It’s small and easy to overlook.

It also got me wondering why becoming a presidential nominee isn’t harder. Don’t get me wrong, I realize not just any millionaire can become a presidential candidate. But in a country where you have to pass a background check and psychological interview before landing a job at McDonald’s, you’d think we’d at least require the same of someone vying for a position as the Most Powerful Person in the World. It seems like we might even feel obligated to other nations to make sure the Commander-in-Chief of the planet’s most advanced military doesn’t have mommy or daddy issues, an axe to grind, isn’t a power tripper and has a working knowledge of international affairs that extends beyond Fox News. (Read more at OTV Magazine)

 

If Abe Lincoln could update his famous quote

imageIf Abraham Lincoln was alive today, I think it’s fair to say could all agree on one thing:

It would be really creepy.

I also think he would have a lot to say about the current state of American politics, and how the once noble pursuit of the presidency has become more like “The Amazing Race.”

But without the “amazing” part.

Given the chance, I believe President Lincoln would amend his famous quote to something more like this…

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Politics could use a dose of reality (television)

image Aside from watching something on “The Dust Channel,” I can’t think of anything less interesting than the upcoming political debates and conventions.

Watch, I’ll show you….

See?
Nothing.

And the worst part is, they’ll be on every major network, with commentary offered by shell-shocked correspondents picking confetti from their hair and wincing between air horn blasts that are supposed to make us all wish we were part of that kind of fun! In actuality, news anchors David Muir, Lester Holt and Scott Pelley don’t want to be there either, but they will be; and by God, if they’ve got to be stuck in a skybox for a week, we’re going to watch!

Now, this isn’t to say making the debates and conventions even remotely interesting isn’t possible. In fact, if the campaign gurus would study the ratings, there are plenty of examples of what could be done to make things more exciting by following a few, simple rules. Continue reading