Prediction For Time Person Of The Year 2020–Two Pictures Share Front Cover

Each year since I was about age eighteen the arrival of the thick final issue of Time has always been something that has created anticipation. Who would be the Person of the Year? Then a deep dive into reading about the newsmaker over the holiday period. I also have enjoyed the way the person was presented on the cover along with reading about the factors that led to the final decision.

This year has been nothing short of a long series of blaring headlines that leaves the front of this upcoming edition wishing it could have multiple covers. The cover of this publication would have been a no-brainer had it not been a presidential election year with a one-termer leaving office, and a new leader elected by a record number of votes. Doctor Anthony Fauci, and the nurses of America, would have commanded the cover due to their intellect, tirelessness, professionalism, and compassion that has been demonstrated in the fight against COVID. I just know that a portion of the magazine will be devoted to these people who truly deserve part of the front cover.

But there is one person who has clearly made a tremendous impression on the nation, so much that his fellow citizens voted him to be the next president. That is what makes Joe Biden Person of the Year. Having said that, I know Joe is the type of man who would be touched if there was a medical professional on the cover in an artful way alongside his picture. It would take nothing away from him, in fact, it would underscore one of the prime reasons Biden was elected. Trump refused to treat the virus as a public health crisis. And America soundly rejected him.

Having a Biden/nurse front cover would be the perfect statement about 2020 as it would encompass the major stories of this nation’s year.

Our Changing Times

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A delightful winter day has unfolded across Wisconsin.  Snow and bitter cold were felt by most of the state this week but sunshine and warming temps today make any window you sit by a reason to smile.  While reading this week’s magazines (with mugs of coffee) it struck me not only how the recent headlines change and stories evolve but also how much we, as a country, are changing.

As noted in a letter to the editor in The Economist “a recent survey found that a third of millennial dads do not even own a hammer.”  Meanwhile, in Time the Conversation column is nothing more than a few words from tweets by readers which allows us the chance to read a selected phrase of their thoughts. The British publication, it should be noted, devoted a full page to letters.

The truncated style of writing is troubling for two reasons.  Most people are not adept at using a limited number of words to convey a thought.  ( I know how creating headlines for blog posts takes more than a fleeting thought, as an example.)  Secondly, most readers of magazines wish to have a broader perspective than that which is contained in a tweet.   Time wants to be ‘modern’ and meet readers ‘where they are’ as opposed to The Economist which values a readership who desires well-crafted sentences and fleshed-out ideas.

And then there was this large-font statement in an advertisement for Oatly Oat Milk.

“This tastes like (expletive)! Blah!”

In The New Yorker (page 13) appeared what I am seeing more and more.  The allowance for words that not so long ago would not have been permitted in these types of publications.  I am not the word police, or nor want to be one.  But there is a lowering of standards and foundations that do catch my attention and concerns me.

Words matter and how they are used does reflect on the person using them.  Trash talk just gives the perception of a lower-educated and less serious-minded person.  That is true if on the printed page of a magazine or made by the leader of a nation.

Perhaps there is marketing that shows younger demographics will try oat milk because it used an advertising gimmick.  But those of us who have a hammer in the house, and know how to use it, understand the necessity of drinking cows milk for muscles and good health.

And choosing word usage that reflects well on who we are.

And so it goes.

(Now get off my lawn…)

Hey, Melania, There Is Bullying Taking Place In Your Own Home!

The low moments in the Donald Trump term of office just keep coming.  The one today is simply beyond embarrassing.

Donald Trump mocked teen climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter following her being named as Time magazine’s Person of the Year. 

He labeled her international placement on the cover as “ridiculous” and suggested she take anger management classes.  “So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

A most sickening display from someone who continues to degrade the nation and himself.  Attacking a teenage girl is never a good idea.  And attacking someone with Asperger’s syndrome is doubly wrong.  She was asked to speak on climate change in front of several high-profile entities, such as the United Nations and Congress.  And Trump can only seek to smear and defame her talents.

This is just too rich given that last week the White House was speaking out about a congressional witness who brought up Trump’s son, Barron.  The Press Secretary called that matter a “classless move” and Melania stated the person “should be ashamed”.

Today crickets are heard from the Third Wife.

Time magazine chose Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, known for holding world leaders accountable for their role in the climate crisis, as the youngest individual to receive this recognition.  Simply wonderful news as it aids in spreading the message about climate change. 

Melaina, who from time to time weighs into the public debate, wishes to be known for speaking out against bullying.  She seems not able to handle the issue in her own home so opining about it in public forums is nothing more than a joke.  It seems that she only cares about adults bullying children when it’s her own children.

And so it goes.

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Prediction: 2019 Time Person Of The Year

Over the past year, there has been a continuing undermining of the foundations of our republic.  One of the most insidious tactics used by Donald Trump, and his Republican supporters, is the sabotaging of truth.  To constantly use dishonesty as a political tool, and to besmirch reporters and news organizations who use facts to report and inform, has left our nation in a weakened state.

That is why there has been such a remarkable appreciation of, and attention paid to, the State Department employees who have stood up and spoken out about the abuse of power and the crippling impact of Trump’s partisan desires in Ukraine.   When citizens speak the truth and present themselves in honorable and forthright ways, in this time of a disreputable president and a  cowering and feckless Republican Party, the nation pays heed.  Because it stands out.  Because it is not something we get to see much anymore on a day-to-day basis.

Therefore, I predict that the 2019 Time Person of the Year will be the State Department Truth-Tellers who have proven to the nation that there are still bedrock values of honesty and virtue alive within this government.

 

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How World Sees The United States This Weekend

Two magazines that are read worldwide had front covers and lead stories that are not only powerful but most troubling.

Time had a cover presented in a way that no words were even necessary.  The reporting inside was devastating.

If the accusations are true, Trump’s behavior would be an abuse of power unseen since the Nixon era: using the presidency and the powers of the U.S. government to conscript foreign help in a domestic political campaign. “These allegations are stunning, both in the national-security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent,” Spanberger and six other Democratic freshman members wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

The implications go beyond the fate of a presidency to the heart of our democracy. Trump stands accused of using America’s vast wealth and the presidency’s unmatched sway to hold onto power for himself. In this era of hyperpartisan politics, the impeachment process will test the mechanisms of accountability built into our system of government by the Founders, who anticipated many things–but could not have envisioned Trump.

Meanwhile, The Economist had a truly creative cover that demonstrated what happens when elections are won by those with illiberal convictions.

The World As Seen From Two Magazine Covers

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Reporters And Journalism 2018’s TIME Person Of The Year

I am deeply and thoroughly pleased with who made the cover for TIME magazine’s Person of the Year.  There are four covers for  2018 Person of the Year.

 

Though I had predicted another cover with an eye to international events there is no doubt whatsoever that the men and women who report the news and make people worldwide more aware of how governments function, and issues of the day less complicated, merit top billing in this annual year end ritual.

“The Guardians and the War on Truth.”  is how the magazine headlines this edition.  The publication released four covers Tuesday recognizing slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi; the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five people were shot and killed in June; arrested Philippine journalist Maria Ressa; and two Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar for nearly a year, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.   As TIME notes they’re “representatives of a broader fight by countless others around the world.”

Many times I have written the truth about journalists being more vital to democracy than the military.  The banner to this blog uses a most telling quote from former CBS news reporter and anchor Walter Cronkite.  My bedrock values have always been linked to the men and women who search for the truth and report the news.

Over the past three years I have expressed much fear when it comes to how Donald Trump ramped up his diatribes against journalists during the campaign, and used the same language as tyrants from the pages of history when berating the press once in office.  My first concern was for the safety of reporters and journalists.  Second was the safety of our republic from Trump who has authoritarian aims.

Trump blasting the news media is nothing new, but it is most corrosive to our republic. At one point in a press conference Trump uttered the phrase “fake news” seven times.  But his labeling the media as the “enemy of the American people” as he has done in the past places Trump alongside tyrants throughout history that were fond of that phrase.   History buffs , like myself, remember that the phrase was used during the purges ordered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.  The expression was also a favorite of China’s Mao Zedong, who used the “enemies of the people” label against anyone who opposed his policies.  Identifying and later punishing those enemies was central to Mao’s rule.

The cover story makes clear the issue at hand.  I know this magazine edition will be read around the globe and will be well received by all those who know the value of reporters and the need for truth.

This ought to be a time when democracy leaps forward, an informed citizenry being essential to self-government. Instead, it’s in retreat. Three decades after the Cold War defeat of a blunt and crude autocracy, a more clever brand takes nourishment from the murk that surrounds us. The old-school despot embraced censorship. The modern despot, finding that more difficult, foments mistrust of credible fact, thrives on the confusion loosed by social media and fashions the illusion of legitimacy from supplicants.

Modern misinformation, says David Patrikarakos, author of the book War in 140 Characters, titled after the original maximum length of a Twitter post, “does not function like traditional propaganda. It tries to muddy the waters. It tries to sow as much confusion and as much misinformation as possible, so that when people see the truth, they find it harder to recognize.”

The story of this assault on truth is, somewhat paradoxically, one of the hardest to tell. “We all learned in our schools that journalists shouldn’t be the story ourselves, but this is, again, not our choice,” says Can Dündar, who, after being charged with revealing state secrets and nearly assassinated as a newspaper editor in Turkey, fled to Germany, where he set up a news site. “This is the world of the strong leaders who hate the free press and truth.”

That world is led, in some ways, by a U.S. President whose embrace of despots and attacks on the press has set a troubling tone. “I think the biggest problem that we face right now is that the beacon of democracy, the one that stood up for both human rights and press freedom—the United States—now is very confused,” says Ressa, the Rappler editor. “What are the values of the United States?”

Parents Who Had Child Killed With Guns In America

A needed gut punch for America to read.

An invisible network of similar threads connects hundreds of grieving parents across America. The connection is not formal. There is no organizational structure, no listserv, no roster of names. But their bond is strong enough that they often describe themselves—glibly but also in earnest—as “the club.” There is only one criterion for membership: you sent a child to school one day and then never saw them again because of a bullet, leaving you with pain, loss and perhaps even other shattered children. “It’s a club you spend your whole life hoping you won’t ever become a part of,” says Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan, 6, was killed in the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. “But once you’re in, you’re in.”

This web of wounded souls spans America. They come from rural outposts and big cities, from Democratic strongholds and the reddest regions of Trump Country. They have different religions, income levels and ethnicities. What they share is the agony that comes with losing a child to gun violence in a place where that child was supposed to be safe. That calamity creates ineffable bonds. Even family and friends “can never fully, fully understand,” says Annika Dworet, Mitch’s wife. “So you feel a special connection with other parents who have gone through this.” Joe Samaha, whose 18-year-old daughter Reema was shot to death at Virginia Tech in 2007, agrees: “We under-stand the pain, the trauma and the long-term aftermath. It’s a brother- and sisterhood.”