Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Fires need oxygen.
There's an age old saying in the newspaper business. If it bleeds, it leads. That sensational aspect of the news hasn't changed a tick as TV and the Internet have eclipsed the print media, and in many ways, it probably shouldn't. I was watching TV on Thursday night when the scrolling bulletin announced the fire in San Bruno. It certainly counts as local news and it certainly was a big damn deal. If we aren't lucky, it could happen anywhere there are natural gas lines. I was watching the ball game on NBC and the local affiliate broke in with a picture-in-picture of the flames as seen from far away with a row of trees in the foreground completely dwarfed by the fire as it raged in the first few minutes. Newspaper reports estimated the fireball as being 1,000 feet high. That sounds about right.
There's no point in saying that thousands of people survived the fire in San Bruno. It was felt over several city blocks, but the real headline is that four people died. It was a major disaster and it was man made. It definitely counts as local news and it isn't surprising that it also made the national news.
And then there's this guy. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church clowns have set the standard for small cults grabbing national headlines by being outrageous, so it was only a matter of time until an even smaller clown college grabbed the front pages and the 24 hour news cable outlets by the short hairs are dragged them around for a few days.
I mean, look at the sign. Is that professional work? Not even close. Were the jackals of the press dumbfounded because this guy correctly spelled "International"? Was it 9/11 that shrunk their brains to the size of their shriveled gonads? Whatever it was, the fire of this guy's ego was fueled by the oxygen of media coverage, and even when some people in the media complained about giving this guy the time of day, still the 24 hour cable news feeds couldn't look away.
I'll admit, the Tea Party movement is news for the same "If it bleeds, it leads" logic. What's the interest in incumbents winning? No, incumbents getting knocked out in primaries is news, and the media is jumping on the story of the fight to see who will drive the bus to Crazy Town.
We have some serious deep fried idiots now running for statewide offices all around this great county of ours, but the two main candidates for Crazy Bus Driver are not on the ballot anywhere yet, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. For my money, Gingrich is much scarier than Palin because she is so dim and so venal that I can't believe she'll get off the money tit to get into the real rough and tumble of years of campaign politics. Gingrich has shown he is willing to go for the long haul, and instead of being stupid, he has not one single conviction in his pudgy 67 year old body.
Palin says stupid things and doesn't even attempt to take them to a logical conclusion. Expecting her to do so would be the same as expecting a dog to learn algebra. Gingrich believes he has taken the temperature of his audience and he wants to raise it a few degrees until the fever burns people's brain cells. Does he disagree with Obama? Of course. But he goes so far as to stipulate Obama must be insane to have his world view. He looks to be attempting dog whistle politics in saying Obama's world view is that of his absent father, both Kenyan and anti-Colonial. But dog whistle is supposed to breeze past your political opponents and only be heard by the like minded. There's no whistle here. It's pure contra bassoon and everybody gets what he is trying to say.
He has also made a DVD that says we are in the final struggle with Islam. Again, a twice divorced man who converts to Catholicism shows that principles are for "the little people", but he takes the deeply stupid and unprofitable idea of a holy war and tries to turn it into a campaign centerpiece.
Obviously, he is burning, as is Sarah Palin. But a quick look at the early polls tell us that the vast majority of Republicans aren't buying it. The early leaders in the polls are Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, and Wriggly Newt and Twitter Twit Sarah are trailing badly. I think the Republican voters are starting to think about who can actually win an election, and if there are a few spectacular crashes by the craziest of the Tea Party crowd in November, there is some small chance the press will stop giving these bomb throwers the oxygen they need.