Elected Leaders vs Media: It’s Historic

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Donald Trump’s combative relationship with what he calls “the dishonest media” is nothing new.
Politicians, elected officials, and bureaucrats have been complaining about the press since the very first days of our country.
Thomas Jefferson, our nation’s third president and the man who penned the Declaration of Independence, wrote in a letter to an early US Congressman, “I deplore … the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them. As vehicles of information and a curb on our functionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief.”
Seven years earlier, Jefferson had written a letter to John Norvell, an aspiring journalist who went on to become the co-founder of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper,” Jefferson said. “Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.”
By comparison, Trump’s criticism almost sounds tame. On his first full day in office, Trump told a crowd of CIA employees he had “a running war with the media.”
“They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth,” he said.
The fact is that presidents and journalists aren’t supposed to be friends. Jefferson said as much in 1787 in a letter to Edward Carrington, a delegate to the Continental Congress.
“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people,” he wrote, “the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Journalists are the watchdogs on government. As Wilbur F. Storey, editor of the Chicago Times put it, “It is a newspaper’s duty to print the news, and raise hell.”
Chicago Evening Post journalist and humorist Finley Peter Dunne gets at least partial credit for another old saying, that “a newspaper’s job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”.
Ken Paulson, then the editor of USA Today, wrote in May 2006 that the media’s role as a guardian of our freedoms had not always been embraced by the American public.
“After all,” he wrote, “politicians and public officials have stock speeches about media bias and favoritism, all in effect saying: ‘Ignore the barking. The watchdog is rabid’.”
The challenge for journalists, he said, is to keep at it.
“When we do our jobs the right way, striving every day to publish reports of integrity and balance, when we ask the tough questions, when we fight to keep the public’s business public and when we provide the kind of watchdog reporting that is the lifeblood of a democracy, we fulfill our promise to that first generation of Americans who believed that one of the best ways to guarantee a democracy was a free and vigorous press.”
That was true in Jefferson’s day, and it’s true today.
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Our thanks to Kelly Hawes, assistant editor of CNHI’s Indiana news service for the research.

Democrats Get Chance To Be The Adults

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Reason must resurface and prevail among the nation’s elected representatives.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate can take a significant step in leading the country toward reasonable governing, and away from chaos. Those senators can set an example of the steadiness, sorely needed in America right now, by resisting the understandable urge to obstruct the confirmation process for Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch.
They certainly should not just roll over. This is the chance to show the nation that there are adults in the room.
Those senators justifiably remain angered by their Republican colleagues’ disrespect for the authority of President Obama. The GOP denied any hearings on the president’s nomination of moderate, respected U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. The Republicans’ undemocratic behavior toward a president, elected overwhelmingly twice, left that seat empty for 293 days. That unprecedented refusal to perform their duties, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, exemplified their shameless obstruction during Obama’s eight years in office.
Tempting as it may be to deliver a payback, Democrats would do us, themselves, and the country well by taking the high road. By showing the statesmanship of Lee Hamilton and Richard Lugar.
As the minority party after November’s election of Donald Trump to the presidency, Democrats have a ripe opportunity. In just two weeks as president, Trump has proven his erratic decision-making, petulance and complete disinterest in listening to the needs of Americans who did not support him—the majority of those voting in November. While some Republicans in Congress have, rather meekly, questioned the constitutionality of Trump’s executive orders, most are tolerating him in hopes that he will deliver on their pet priorities.
The nation needs wisdom. The nation needs statesmanship. Senate Democrats should support the democratic process and let the confirmation hearings for Gorsuch’s nomination unfold in a timely fashion. His judicial track record contains areas of concern, which several senators have cited already. They should vigorously question Gorsuch on those topics during the hearings and vote their conscience. His legal qualifications merit thoughtful consideration and the senators should weigh those carefully, too.
But be very certain: questioning should not be construed as obstructing.
It is true that Obama, not Trump, should have been the president to appoint the justice to replace Scalia, who died a year ago. But gridlock and polarized politics have proliferated on Capitol Hill during the past quarter-century, and congressional Republicans’ behavior since 2009 has worsened the situation. They elevated their want for a conservative Supreme Court above the American system of democracy.
Democrats, by contrast, should exhibit respect for the process of representative government, fought for and won through high sacrifice. Gorsuch deserves a confirmation hearing with thorough vetting by the Senate.
The nation deserves sane, rational leadership at a moment when visible examples of that quality are in such small supply.
(The Tribune-Star contributed to this week’s column.)

It’s Made Out Of WHAT?!?!?

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener
Knowledge is power but sometimes things are best left unknown. My ‘Bathroom Book Of Lists’ (and maybe THAT is more information than you want to know) listed how some frequently used foods are processed for human consumption.
Gelatin: Used as a thickener in foods like Jell-O and marshmallows, gelatin is collagen, the protein found in connective tissue. It is not made from horns and hooves, as is often thought. Pig and cattle bones and skin are broken down in hot water or acid and then dried, refined and purified into gelatin. For use as a thickener, gelatin is ground into granules or powder.
Imitation Crabmeat: Found most frequently at Chinese buffets, fake crabmeat is mainly fish, usually Pollock that is cleaned, minced, mixed with starch, salt, a bit of real crabmeat, egg white and flavoring. Then the mixture is ground into a paste, which is pressed into sheets and cooked. To give it that crabby look, the skeets are cut into thin strands and then colored. Then the genuine imitation faux crabmeat is cooked again and vacuum packed for your favorite restaurants to prepare.
Bologna: Supermarket bologna earns its ‘mystery meat’ reputation. The process begins with unused bits of beef, pork, and sometimes poultry. Which bits is the mystery. But the mystery bits get ground up and liquefied into a paste and a blend of secret spices are added. The pasty concoction is extruded into a casing, then boiled or smoked, sliced and packaged for your favorite sandwich or pickling for a masculine meaty treat with beer.
Evaporated and Condensed Milk: To extend the shelf life of milk, it is ‘evaporated’ through pasteurization by putting it in a pressure lower than atmospheric pressure (vacuum) container and then boiled. This vacuum evaporation process concentrates the milk to 30%-40% solids which delays the spoiling. Then it is homogenized to keep the cream from separating and sealed into cans. The difference between evaporated and condensed milk is that the later has lots of sugar added. Which makes it great for holiday candy making…if you can get past the fact that the former fresh milk from a cow may be a year old before you use it.
Jawbreakers: The main ingredient is granulated sugar. It is poured into a round kettle that rotates over heat. The second ingredient— liquid sugar— is added into the rotating heated kettle. It sticks to the granulated sugar and little balls of sweetness begin to form. More liquid sugar is added periodically over then next several days—sometimes up to 100 coats— into the rotating kettle. When the jawbreakers are near full size, color and flavor (such as cinnamon oil) are added. Finally the now hard sugar balls are spun with a foodgrade wax and placed into bags for your candy store or grocery’s shelf.
SPAM: Once short for SPiced hAM, only about 10% of the product is actually ham. The other 90% is pork shoulder, Hormel®, which has made Spam since the 1930’s says it’s short for Shoulder of Pork and hAM. The meat is ground, then dropped below freezing before secret spices are added along with sodium nitrite…a preservative that give the product its pick color. It is mixed in a machine with an airtight seal to keep the amount of water being released low. The uncooked mixture is plopped into cans which are sealed and then the entire can is cooked in hot water.
Over 122 million cans of Spam are sold every year.
After reading all of this, maybe you, like me, will conclude it is appropriate such information be found in a Bathroom Book of Lists.

Local ‘Alternative Facts’ You Likely Didn’t Know

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

An unusual concept came loudly into public view recently when senior White House advisor Kellyanne Conway said presidential press secretary Sean Spicer (gratefully no relation to Crothersville School Board president Bob Spicer) used “alternative facts” when he made not so slightly inaccurate claims about the size of the crowd at President Trump’s inauguration.
As a result, we have uncovered some alternative facts about Jackson and Scott County that the elitist, liberal, lying media (I guess that’s me) hasn’t been willing to report.
•Local fields and roads do not flood. It is the occasional, precipatory inspired act-of-God expansion of the borders of fisheraries. It is a method of natural irrigation to benefit farmers.
•There are no potholes in our roads. They are naturally occurring inverted speed bumps implemented to control travel time. They also serve as an economic development tool to improve the local economy of tire and suspension repair businesses.
•Pizza King and Dairy Queen both have soverign immunity from local regulations.
•Re-construction of the Shieldstown Covered Bridge is right on schedule, and always has been.
•Our area does not have a homeless problem. Business is so good in our downtowns that shoppers simply can’t all fit into the stores at the same time.
•If you think you see a protest, you are wrong! According to some of our area state representatives and senators, those people are merely walking for exercise.
•Birds surround our courthouses, town and city halls every day to participate in local democracy. What they leave on parked vehicles is public discourse.
•Despite what others may tell you, Jackson County was named for the deceased Hoosier icon Michael Jackson.
•Scott County was named for Scut Farkus, the neighborhood bully in the holiday classic ‘Christmas Story’ which was set in Indiana. Some people thought it was named for Randolph Scott or Scott McKain…but it’s not.
•It is not difficult to find a place to park at Wal-Mart; it’s simply a competitive exercise to help sharpen the driving skills of the motoring customers and to speed up slow moving Walmart customers.
The above are ‘alternative facts’ which means they are not facts at all so please don’t treat them as such.
Actually, “alternative facts” is nothing new. I sometimes used them in my youth—much to the chagrin of my parents—who, before the age of child abuse charges, showed me the error of my thinking.
And perhaps that is an answer to today’s alternative facts.
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“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”    ~Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Creative Puns for Educated Minds

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Puns, it can be said, are a sign of a superior intellect. They are a sign of an expanded vocabulary, play on words and word meanings. Some puns dribble off the tongue with ease; some require some thought.
But I enjoy the eye-rolling, corny groaner of a pun like these:
• The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table Was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
• I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.
• She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
• A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra Class because it was a weapon of math disruption.
• The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his orders.
• No matter how much you push or pull the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.
• A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
• Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
• A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The Police are looking into it.
• Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’
• A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a Hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse Said, ‘No change yet.’
• A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
• The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a “small medium at large.”
• The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
• A backward poet writes inverse.
• When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of Religion.
• Don’t join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!

Speak Precisely And Don’t Be Homo-phobic

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

A homonym, as Mrs. Lewis’ CHS English students will no doubt recall, is a word that sounds like another or perhaps is spelled the same as another but has a different meaning.
And homonyms are one of the reasons English is so difficult to learn. That and when to use lie, lay laid, lain have always been difficult for me.
Their and there, for and fore, meet and meat, hear and here are homonyms however, Southern Hoosiers, far and fire are not homonyms. At least, they are not supposed to be pronounced alike.
But some of the more confusing aspects of the Southern Hoosier brand of English we use to communicate is when two words are spelled the same but pronounced differently.
Take these homonymic examples for instance:
•We must polish the Polish furniture.
•He could lead if he would get the lead out.
•The farm was used to produce produce.
•The landfill was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
•The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
•This was a good time to present the present
•A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
•When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
•I did not object to the object, for I was being objective.
•The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
•The bandage was wound around the wound.
•There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
•They were too close to the door to close it.
•The buck does funny things when the does are present.
•They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.
•To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
•The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
•After a number of injections my jaw got number.
•Upon seeing the tear in my clothes I shed a tear.
•How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
•I had to subject the subject to a series of tests on various subjects.
It was usually the subject of high school English where Mrs. Lewis’ students subjected themselves to her knowledge as well as subject to frustration trying to comprehend such a confusing subject.