Friday Mental Massage: Blind items

This week’s Friday Mental Massage comes less than 24 hours before I’ll be packing the car and moving to the beach for a week. Work won’t allow this to be a full-fledged vacation, but at least I’ll be working within a short walk to Atlantic Ocean. That ain’t so bad.

Since I’m not going to be around for a while, here are a few blind items to people I know.

Oh, and as this is just a mess of garbage getting purged from my brain, I suggest you first read this blog post about my testicles.

If I’m getting healthy, you can, too. Seriously, I’m among the most unhealthy people you know. If I can get off my ass, so can you. Seriously, do something about it before you die. I don’t want another dead friend.

The definition of patriotism must change year to year, or at least administration to administration. Time was when headlines like the one below and associated pictures would’ve been “comfort to our enemy” and unAmuhrican.


For what it’s worth, I read Drudge five times a day, completely support the publishing pictures of caskets of servicemen and servicewomen, and don’t think it’s unpatriotic to question an administration’s foreign policy and war strategy. I just think it’s fair to remember what everybody said about that attitude about five years ago.

Speaking of aggregators…my friends Jen and Elise pointed out this Washington Post column to me earlier this week. Read it. It may seem whiny and unfriendly to the internet, but it’s important. Look at it this way: Gawker columnists are getting paid more than most local news reporters to copy, paste, and make fun of legitimate journo’s work. Don’t care? Okay, imagine some guy coming into your job, taking the work you spent all day on, condensing it to one report in five minutes, turning it in as his own, and getting paid more than you to do it. is full of horrible people but at least they do their own reporting (or pay for it, which is another horrible thing, but not the subject of this rant). That is to say, Nick Denton’s business model is more disgusting than TMZ. Don’t care? Then go back to watching your Dane Cook and don’t bitch about how bad journalism is these days.

Also Shamus over at Hard Boiled Poker has a really nice piece looking at the phenomenon. He’s smart and honest, so give him a read at Time Is Money, So Can I Afford to Pause to Reflect?.

Or, maybe I’m just whining. I once spent an entire year working on a TV piece that lasted less than five minutes on air. Somebody from Gawker would’ve been paid more than me to spend half an hour copying the work and posting it. Yeah, that makes me cranky. This is what I posted on Shamus’ blog yesterday:

That said, as a pro blogger (is that really what I’ve come to?), I often borrow from the reporting of my former colleagues. I do my best to not cut and paste the entirety of works (or even a majority). Still, I could see where one might get miffed.

I have a hard time accepting a business model that relies almost entirely on waiting for someone else to do all the work and then profiting from it. That is, much like porn and obscenity, I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. What’s more, the guys at Gawker know it when they do it.

Sadly, I feel like the toothpaste is way out of the tube on this one. I think traditional journalism as I was trained has long since passed its death rattle. I wish it hadn’t, and maybe it will come back around. Hell, it rallied after the earlier part of the last century (which looked a lot more like today than a lot of ‘journalists’ would like to admit). So, maybe there is hope. For now, though, I’m happy to not be fighting Gawker or working for it. Either one is a losing proposition.

The only people who don’t think politics is a game are people who have not worked in politics. I don’t give a damn about the Cash for Clunkers program (our cars don’t qualify), except for the fact that it’s been badly managed, has poor PR people supporting it, and, frankly, is spending money that could be better spent elsewhere. Yes, it is stimulating the economy. Yes, it’s helping out business people and car buyers. Yes, it is negligibly helping the environment. But, all in all, I’d much rather see the $3 billion be put toward cancer research, Darfur aid, or providing scholarships for people who served in Iraq. (Although this CNN article does make a nice argument for the ripple effect).

So, why do I even bring it up? To remind you that politics is a game.

Last night, there was in a vote in the Senate on the bill. Near the end of the debate, an amendment was proposed that would limit the money to families who make $50,000 or less per year. You can stop arguing about it now, because the amendment was defeated. The amendment itself is academic. The reason for it, however, is the thing.

See, if the amendment passes, it has to go back to conference in the House. As it happens, the House has already recessed for the month, so it would be impossible to move the bill forward for several more weeks. So, you have two choices. Either you kill the bill you want to pass or you vote against an amendment that looks like it is intended to help poor people. Make no mistake, the people who introduced this bill had no intention of it ever passing. They are just setting up a gambit for election time in which their ilk can say, “My opponent did not support people making less than $50,000 per year.” You will see it in a campaign commercial. Bank on it.

And you’ll notice I didn’t include which side did what in the above game. It’s because it doesn’t matter. Both sides do the same thing. It’s the reason campaigns are full of lies, politics is built on a foundation of half-truths, and why you should believe almost nothing you hear from a politician or his people.

For all my GOP friends…, please tell me you’re not like these people, these people who lose their damned minds when their (my) Republican Congressman tells them to think for themselves, to turn off the TV, to turn off Glenn Beck. See, for all about which I disagree with Rep. Bob Inglis, I at least admire him for trying to tell the automatons from backwoods South Carolina that being a conservative doesn’t mean being a blind follower.

If you begin a sentence with the words “I’m not a racist,” then you are almost automatically a racist. And if you follow that up with three sick jokes, you’re not only a racist, you’re probably going to hell. First, I hope you have to go to a black church, a black man’s prison cell, and Nelson Mandela and tell the same ‘jokes.’ And the fact I didn’t call you out to your face makes me almost as bad as you.

Finally, to my friend who never really liked John Hughes… I think getting John Hughes has a lot to do with being an American. It’s certainly possible to not be American and like American film, but I think the movies John Hughes made tapped into an American experience that required actually growing up here. While I didn’t necessarily dig anything he did after 1987, nobody could top Hughes work betweenn 1983 and 1987. Also, I think anyone who was 11-18 years old during that time has Hughes permanently burned into their brain. That is a long way of saying, it’s okay to not necessarily like John Hughes’ body of work, unless you were a teenager in America during the 80s. If you were and you still don’t like him, then you’re probably a serial killer or about to be.

The Friday Mental Massage is how this blog would appear if I didn’t care what my writing looked like and people cared about the mundane aspects of my life. Its goal is to massage all the junk out of my mental muscles at week’s end with the hope of returning to better writing and subject matter.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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8 Responses

  1. StB says:

    Once again you are spot on about the politics. Our representatives may go home and listen to their contituents but in the end, they bow to the people in charge of the parties, ignoring the citizens they represent, just to stay in good favor to get the money and support when re-election comes around.

  2. Matt V says:

    I was impressed when both parties came together in congress and in the true spirit of bipartisanship ordered up 3 Gulfstream G550s, at $65m a pop, so they won’t have to fly commercial.

  3. CJ says:

    Please, please, please tell me you don’t buy into this lefty, Olbermann-ish myth that when conservatives get fired up at town hall meetings it’s calculated and manufactured and fake…

    If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that this White House is no different despite the claims of “Change.” We know that if you disagree with the White House it’s because you’re paid off to do so. There is no honest disagreement with Barack Obama. Only lobbyist-supported faux outrage.

    Um… hope and change… I hardly knew ye.

  4. otis says:

    Ceej–read it again…I’m not saying they are not right to be fired up, or that they don’t have the right. I’m saying that when they boo and freak out at being told Glenn Beck may not be their best example, they lose their minds. That’s the kind of blind following that makes decent conservatives look bad.

  5. Grumpy says:

    Whether Glenn Beck, Rush, Hannity or any of the flock of others (liberal or conservative)is “the best example” or not, fact is for the first time I can remember the “average” person (yes probably conservative) is going out and making their voice heard – Tea Party, Town Hall, etc – because they are tired of the constitution being trampled on, and Americans rights being taken away. The Cindy Sheehans, Black Panthers, Acorns, Rainbow coalition has done it for years and anyone that takes a stand against them gets humiliated, called unpatriotic, etc – now show is on the other foot

    Obviously I am conservative, but you are right, its BOTH parties, and its a game, and what they win is control, and what you lose is RIGHTS. Until the PROCESS is changed, dont expect anything to change, only the figureheads

  6. G-Rob says:

    Hey CJ, I don’t think there was any point in this post in which the author said those nitwits were PAID to protest or had any other motivation than plain old-fashioned stupidity.

    Glen Beck is harmless.
    People who take Glen Beck seriously are dangerously stupid.

  7. AmyC says:

    It’s not just the Gawkers. Although I envision a day when we’re down to one lonely overworked AP writer who slaves over a story every day while 250,000 Gawkers and repackagers wait for him to finish.

    I’m so old that I remember when CNN was a reputable news site. Now half their programming is people sitting around reporting, “Shirley in Arkansas tweets…” and I have an email from John in Poughkeepsie who writes…”

    I still have NPR and The New Yorker…but for how long?

  8. Ten Mile says:

    Slightly off topic, but related. Greatly.