Media Matters

* I watched Sen. Kamala Harris’ on her CNN town hall from Des Moines, Iowa. She’s good.   Articulate, camera-friendly, passionate and tough. From issues to optics, she’s more than ready for prime time. Even Donald Trump seemed impressed by the early rollout of her presidential candidacy, although Trump praise is nothing any Dem would ever covet. “I would say the best opening so far would be Kamala (pronounced ‘Kameela’) Harris,” he observed. “In terms of the opening act.” In other words, it’s still performance art for Trump–but Harris is much more than that. It would be brutally apparent if it ever came to a presidential debate.  

* We live in an oxymoronic, news-junkie era when news has never been more reviled, more cherry picked, more susceptible to tampering, more profit-and-survival conscious–and more flat-out necessary. The new news normal ranges from Russian bots to Fox’s partisan reality to the pathological liar-in-chief.

Countering all this will take an all-out, societal effort, so that our electorate becomes less vulnerable to forces that seek to undermine American democracy. One way would be to get serious about our school curricula and what’s at stake electorally. No, we’re not extolling the virtues of old school civics to see who knows how many years a U.S. representative’s term lasts. And, no, this is not nostalgia for some “Americanism vs. Communism” Cold War social studies relic.

Here’s hoping that Florida lawmakers, currently smitten with the teaching of science “options” and Bible-literacy electives, will evolve and mandate the teaching of contemporary media along with real-world American democracy. In short, how to be your own best advocate for non-fake news. What to look for, how to look for it. The value of knowing the other side of issues–and not just cherry picking that which validates the cherry picker. We need to groom the next generation to know what’s at stake and how self-serving partisans and cyber attackers can manipulate an electorate that is blatantly vulnerable.

* “Stan and Ollie.” This holiday, pre-Oscar season has had more than the usual amount of good movies wedged among the usual comic-book, video-game genres. Another good one: “Stan and Ollie.” As in Laurel and Hardy. The ending–oops, a bit of a spoiler alert–is appropriate. You’ll tear up while you’re smiling.  

* Still my favorite bumper sticker: “TAMPA 2012: Where Stupidity Meets Humidity.”

* Some numbers are still boggling. To wit: There are less than 8 billion people on Earth. More than a quarter of them (2.3 billion) are on Facebook.

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