Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Day: Do We Remember?

Today we commemorate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For many of us, however, this translates into a day off work.

Dr. King's legacy seems of little relevance to Americans in the new millennium; the drama, violence, and controversy surrounding the civil rights movement long forgotten.

Vicious police actions against nonviolent protesters--using fire hoses and attack dogs--shocked the nation. On the other hand, those televised images to mobilize people of different religions, race, and economic status in the fight against segregation.

Bombings, murders, and church-burnings dominated newspaper headlines during this period of deep unrest.

Millions of Americans--black and white, male and female, straight and gay--have benefited from the courage of King and ordinary citizens who faced hostile crowds and indifferent law enforcement to bring about change.

It is inevitable that historical events lose less impact for later generations who did not witness or participate in them

Nonetheless, by recalling our nation's history, we recognize the price paid by others for rights we enjoy today, even in times of economic instability.

Monday, January 9, 2012

(Re-) Running Amok on TV

We all know what to expect from TV programmers on holidays---marathons (re-runs). Day-long replays of old series (Twilight Zone, Law and Order) can be entertaining for loyal fans; however, too many networks/channels, including Sy-Fy, Lifetime Movie Network (LMN), Investigation Discovery, and A&E fall back on old (often stale) programming.

The Premium channels are not much better. Most of them feature the same movies week after week. So, that extra $10 or $11 monthly charge does not assure that viewers will get new content.

This week, for example, HBO's roster includes Gladiator (2000),  Pulp Fiction (1994), Sixteen Candles (1984) and Missing (1982),

Cinemax's most recent movie is Sucker Punch (2011) and its oldest, Universal Soldier (1992).

Showtime offerings range from Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon (2011) to Serving Sara (2002).

Many of these movies are available at your local library for free!

Nonetheless, I (and millions like me) continue to pay for premium channels. Perhaps, we do so for the opportunity to an occasional hard-hitting documentary or original program whose content might not fly on the regular networks.

I only ask: HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime, please update your film archives from time to time.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Politicians and Public Perception

"Few federal lawmakers must grapple with the financial ills -- unemployment, loss of housing, wiped out savings -- that have befallen millions of Americans,” said Sheila Krumholz, the Center for Responsive Politics’ executive director. “Congressional representatives on balance rank among the wealthiest of wealthy Americans and boast financial portfolios that are all but unattainable for most of their constituents.”  

You might have read last week that half of congressional members are millionaires--some multimillionaires. This fact does nothing to enhance the public's perception that lawmakers are out of touch with their constituents needs and concerns.

Many Americans live in fear of losing a job or not finding a job, incurring medical bills, keeping a home or selling one, getting out of debt, or just making ends meet. They want representatives who feel their desperation and care about their needs.

Some representatives, especially Republicans, do not support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans but have few qualms about stopping unemployment benefits.

Currently, Operation Wall Street is the only large-scale expression of the public's dissatisfaction with corporate greed and congressional ineptitude.

Perhaps, "Operation Capitol Hill" will be the next big movement with millions of Americans setting up tents in front of the halls of Congress.