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Just Like Christmas

RANDOM LENGTHS-With the solstice here and the rains coming down, I have come to wrapping a scarf around my neck and to wearing a heavy jacket to protect against the elements––winter has arrived.

They make a big deal about the weather on the TV news with all of the high tech radar graphics and the girls in tight sweaters who read the reports. Oh, Jackie Johnson, you make the weather report so sexy. And when it rains, it pours with the weather news coverage in this land of perpetual sunshine—snow reports from the mountains, traffic collisions on the 405 freeway, mudslides in the foothills near the Station Fire burn- off and the usual falling rocks along Highway 1 in Malibu—this is news? Well, maybe.
(Ed Note: This column was written and posted a year ago at Random Lengths News. It seems like the message is still timely.)
But on any average day in our media saturated metropolis, you get the same five lead stories on all channels, usually about someone being shot or killed, a fluffy feature on some new cosmetic procedure, the same sports report and an awful lot of news anchor chit-chat. Yet, the most “scientific” thing they can report is the weather forecasts, which vary widely in projected temperatures, rainfall or when the next storm arrives.

My point is that in this country, we have a fundamental mythology about competition—from sports to business to money and warfare, there is an absolute drought of competition in the main- stream news––daily! Is it any surprise that a new survey from the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found rampant misinformation around the 2010 elections.

Fox News viewers lead the way, but misinformation was so wide- spread that on six of the 11 questions asked, a majority of respondents gave incorrect answers—in some cases up to 80 and 90 per- cent—even higher. Which is not to say that you can’t find things out if you look to alternative sources such as Truthout, ProPulica, Huffington Post and if you can still access it WikiLeaks.

Democracy Now! on radio KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles and on 250 public stations around the country are also courageous and reliable news sources. With news anchors like Amy Goodman, you will not be anesthetized. What you can always count on from the mainstream press, as we ramp up to this holiday season, is the optimistic retail voodoo and plenty of hyperbole about people shopping at the malls dominating their coverage.

Yes, we are a consumer culture, and yes, the buying power of the working class actually drives this economy, yet what the Grinch has brought the working class for Christmas is a huge credit crunch.

The banks are the cutting credit lines of individuals and small businesses alike, even as I write this holiday missive. The public is getting––even as they are driven and enticed to spend, spend, spend––the sad greetings on their credit worthiness.

This news is not delivered by the corporate-owned media, but by the very banks that our government bailed-out and to whom the Federal Reserve loaned some $9 trillion because of their bad bets at the Wall Street casinos of finance. Merry Christmas to you too!

But, hey, you say the season isn’t about the money, or the food, or the spiked eggnog. It’s about giving and some spiritual thing about being born or reborn. I won’t wade into your personal religious beliefs about Christ, as it’s none of my business. However, in this country, which openly celebrates the diversity of its people, passing laws against segregation and prejudice, there is one place where we still choose to be segregated–in our houses of worship. In particular, the various Christian sects are separated like the black Baptists from the white Baptist churches, the Catholic Church for Latinos is separate from the one for the Italians and the Croatians and even they have separate services from what I understand.

Sure there are a few “integrated” churches but by far the vast majority of churches are less integrated than our public schools or our places of work. You simply can’t legislate religion and religion shouldn’t dictate law.

Yet, here we are once again, in the religious season, grappling with our own issues of family and recession, balancing between depression and joy, economic chaos and hope, the Christmas tree ornaments and the cat stuck under the house. I find myself wondering if it’s all worth it, even as I look forward to the tradition, the warmth of friends and family and a glass of good cheer. Good friends and solid family mean more than all the gifts we receive.

Yet, the stress of giving is only heightened by tight economic times and the news reports tell us that the economy is recovering. Only we know it hasn’t recovered here on Main Street or here in the unemployment line or down on Skid Row. The banks may have been saved by the nation, but they have done damn little to save the people in return.

So, if the president or the GOP leaders in Congress or the folks up at the Federal Reserve are listening this season, just remember as is said, “It’s better to give than to receive” and not to be such Scrooges when it comes to fiscal reform.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately— Robert Reich’s book, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future. This is the one I’d recommend for both President Barack Obama and Governor Jerry Brown.

(James Preston Allen is the Publisher of Random Lengths News and an occasional contributor to CityWatch. More of Allen and other views and news at where this column was first posted) –cw

Tags: James Preston Allen, Christmas, Los Angeles, LA weather, Fox news, Grinch, Federal Reserve

Vol 9 Issue 102
Pub: Dec 23, 2011