Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Aug 04th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Politics on the Stairmaster?

tom_honig_sA workout gym is one of those “third places” that sociologists talk about—not work, not home, a kind of familiar refuge from daily realities. But it’s different from, say, a favorite coffee shop or bar— mostly because you perspire a lot and, when the workout’s over, you get naked and shower in front of strangers.

It also differs from the neighborhood tavern in that discussion is not the main activity. It’s a refuge from all that talking that we have to do in other gathering spots.

Especially politics. Nothing is worse than listening to a political harangue while gasping for air on the Stairmaster.  Just put in your ear buds, stare straight ahead and you’re blessedly in your own world.

Ah, but Fox News just might change that. With Fox News attacks on the administration ramping up, and administration counterpunches on the increase as well, what happens when Fox News intrudes on the sweaty world of the gym?

It finally happened the other day. Voices were raised above the level of the Otis Redding song on my iPod. The argument? One guy on the elliptical machine wanted CNN and another on an exercise bike wanted Fox News. The CNN guy won out—not because this is Santa Cruz and we watch Fox News at our own peril. Rather, the decision had already been made years ago when flat screen televisions were first installed and this particular screen had been designated the CNN tube.

This little spat was the first political dispute that made it to 90 decibels—at least in any gym I’ve been in. I, myself, have been involved in discussions over what game to have on the television— A’s or Giants (Giants), Stanford or Cal (Stanford) or even basketball or golf (watching golf on TV is like watching paint dry.) But that’s different.

Some say that our society is breaking off into pieces. People seem to want to surround themselves with messages they’re comfortable with. We’re getting our own television stations, reading our own publications, even going to our own schools. The days of people getting roughly the same information from large newspapers and the three big network news programs is long gone.

Imagine, a couple generations back, an argument breaking out over whether Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley should be on.

The bigger issue, of course, is the role that Fox News is playing in our national dialogue. Rating services say that Fox has increased its viewership significantly since President Obama was elected. And those ratings will shoot up even more thanks to the administration’s decision to fight back against the network. On a recent Sunday morning, President Obama went on every talk show except the one on Fox, a deliberate snub that further contributed to debate.

White House Communications Director Anita Dunn went so far as to describe Fox as “a wing of the Republican party.” And adviser David Axelrod and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel carried on the argument further on the next round of Sunday talk shows.


During the Bush years, MSNBC pulled close to Fox News in its ratings, but now, despite the outrage expressed at Fox—the lefty talk shows on MSNBC have dropped about 7 percent in the ratings since Obama was sworn in.

I’m flummoxed by the whole debate. Admittedly, while at the gym I prefer Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin to any political discussion. Sometimes, though, in the privacy of my own home, I’ll switch back and forth from Fox to MSNBC. They both tire me out quickly.

For all their differences, the talk shows employ the same strategy. It goes something like this: “They (political opponents) have a secret strategy to trick you into believing their evil plot. But we’re here to tell you what they’re really up to.”

All this “us versus them” talk can be amusing. The talk-show hosts that do it are spectacularly good at their presentation, and it makes for good shows. Unfortunately, they’re breeding significant nastiness into our public debate. You can see it in online comments; you can hear it on radio talk shows and in letters to the editor. Even worse, you can see it in the halls of the Capitol in Washington—and worse still, at the Capitol in Sacramento. California’s Republicans and Democrats hardly speak, and you can see the result in a broken-down government that just might grind to a halt in the coming months.

The problem is worse than just an argument at the gym. But that’s how far-reaching it has become.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover