Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Alternate Reality Files by Julie Ranson

I don’t know about you, but the list of political events in recent weeks completely amazes me by its scope and its absurdity. I have commented to others that it feels like we’re living in a parallel universe. It appears that part of the mystery of all that is Washington DC is starting to clear up: those folks in D.C. live in an alternate reality, no doubt about it now. And the liberal media? Yes, they too reside in that specially scented air of the alternate reality. With all the troubles this country is facing right now, our Congress takes time to celebrate this.

In mid-February, Joe Sestak (D-PA) dropped a bombshell when he revealed that he’d be offered a job by the White House in return for him dropping out of a primary challenge against Arlen Specter (D-PA, formerly R-PA). For the past three months, the WH has dodged explaining this story. We were assured by a variety of WH folks, President Obama included, that “nothing improper happened” as if we’d all just blindly accept any White House’s internal investigation of itself! (See first paragraph about alternate reality.)

This past Friday,
it was reported that Rep. Joe Sestak would not have been eligible for a place on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, the job he was supposedly offered by WH emissary, the former President Bill Clinton. So, they take three months to come up with a “good story” that isn’t very good at all.

Immigration continues to boil on the front burner in the news and in the hearts and minds of the American people. I saw a sign over the weekend at the anti-AZ immigration law rally – “Stop ripping apart families.” Isn’t that what we do when we send fathers or mothers to jail for their crimes? You know that old saw, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” Proposed by George Will (and this writer), one solution to this sticky problem for those illegal immigrants creating families here in the USA is to
end the birthright citizenship of children born to illegals.

This past week we glimpsed the alternate reality called the House of Representatives with a visit from the president of Mexico. Calderon took several opportunities to condemn the new immigration law in Arizona at the White House and in the House. In fact, the Democrats in the House gave him a
standing ovation! I ask....Where am I?

For those of us interested in retiring at a decent age, the
tanking of the DOW to its worst levels in 70 years caused much consternation. “U.S. stocks slid, capping the worst May for the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1940, while the euro slumped and Treasuries rose as a downgrade of Spain’s debt rating and escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula triggered a flight from riskier assets. The Dow tumbled 122.36 points, or 1.2 percent, to 10,136.63 at 4 p.m. in New York and lost 7.9 percent this month.” For the last two years, investments have taken one step forward and two steps back far too often. What we need is some evidence of a growing economy, not just promises.

I started this blog post intending discussion of six news topics for which I have some passion. So overwhelming is this political theatre I daily observed, I can illuminate only three for you this weekend. While I would never disparage the World Wide Web, it goes without saying that the availability of information from myriad of sources and perspectives is a significant distraction to us mere mortals. Wait a minute, that’s not me talking; that’s what Obama said at a
recent commencement address. I don’t agree with Obama about much and, as an academic, I could not vilify “information” anyway.

One problem with information is what we do with it. With the advent of the Web and the 24/7 cable news cycle, overload is inevitable for those of us who devour it. Here at Citizen’s Roundtable, our purpose is to educate. So, here’s a tip, fellow citizen: Find the area where you have the most interest and become an expert on that topic. Use a variety of sources; and for heaven’s sake, don’t quote a story told by a television or radio personality unless you’ve checked out the information sources for yourself first.

Julie Ranson is a community college business professor in Virginia.