Thursday, September 4, 2008

La Cañada Valley Sun: Around Town: It's Lonely in the Middle

Around Town:
It’s lonely in the middle

I fit the demographic of undecided voters. No candidate stands for all my issues. I’ll order a Democratic salad and a Republican dessert, with a Libertarian appetizer and a Green cocktail, now that the rabbis at Adat Ari El convinced me to bring my own shopping bags to the supermarket and to join an organic CSA. (

Go figure.

It’s lonely in the middle. It’s exhausting. I am tired of e-mails about Barack Obama’s middle name. I am tired of news stories about Sarah Palin’s daughter, and Joe Biden’s gaffes and John McCain’s wife’s alleged half-sister.

That’s why I’ve decided to bite the bullet. One recent morning, I ordered the following books: “Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment on Its Ear,” by Kaylene Johnson; “Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics,” by Joe Biden; “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” by Barack Obama; and “Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir,” by John McCain.

In the meantime, weary of the diatribe, here’s my personal top four election sites:

1. The first is, the online presence of Washington, D.C.’s, Politico, a moderate-to-right leaning journalism group which defines its agenda to concern three issues: The first is Congress and the constant flow of agendas, personalities and power struggles that define daily life on Capitol Hill. The second is the 2008 presidential campaign, a race already churning and one likely to shape history in ways far beyond the typical election. The third is lobbying and advocacy, a part of the capital economy undergoing rapid growth and change. It is a business alive with interesting and influential characters whose impact is dimly understood and insufficiently covered.

2. Then there’s, the online presence of RealClearPolitics, a Chicago-based, right-leaning Internet aggregator of news, OpEds and polling data. The latter includes Zogby, Rasmussen, Gallup and others, presented in easy-to-read format. There are also full transcripts of speeches and television interviews. Nothing like untainted original data to float your boat.

3. There’s, the website of Slate, a left-leaning current affairs and culture magazine, with daily summaries of national newspapers, plus poetry, travel, food and style.

4. Finally, to get behind the news, there’s, the online presence of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, intended to be a school and resource for journalists. This week’s political feature is 7 Tools For Detecting Political Propaganda, worth reading.

No politician, Republican or Democrat, would admit he or she is in the propaganda business. And no journalist I know would admit to being an enabler of the propaganda efforts of a particular political party. The author goes on to list the tell-tale signs of propaganda, such as “name calling,” “glittering generalities” and “the band wagon.” He notes that as responsible journalists, we must not succumb to these ourselves, and we must point them out to citizens so reason and critical thinking can help balance emotion and passion.

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a La Cañada resident and a trial attorney in private practice in Pasadena.La Cañada Valley Sun: La Cañada Flintridge, California

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