Madison County Opinion...

May 22, 2002

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
May 22, 2002

Frankly Speaking

Are you tired of the Saudi insults?
Well, you can do something about it. These Arabian egotists have only one thing we need — oil. We have only one thing they want — money. That is the only thing they love about us — our money. And as long as they feel that they are going to get it no matter what they say, they will continue to insult us.
They have the upper hand, of course. We are heavily dependent on their oil. Without it, we are unable to drive our cars, mow our grass, blow our leaves or heat our homes. Today, we import more of our energy needs than we produce domestically. And we purchase most of that energy in the form of oil. And most of the oil we buy comes from Arabia.
I, for one, would prefer that we do what the Arabians say they want, simply remove ourselves, and our money from the Arabian Gulf area. Once they are no longer receiving our money, or have to compete for our business, their insults and attacks will stop.
So, how can we, as individual citizens of the United States of America, express our displeasure over the attitude of certain oil rich Arabians? The best and only real way is to stop using their oil! We can act individually, as a culture, as an economy and as a nation to lessen our dependence on Arabian oil.
Today, our nation is highly dependent on Arabian oil for the energy necessary to drive our culture and economy. That is what needs to be changed. Our national security is threatened when a people who don’t like us has the opportunity to attack our nation by denying us that oil. To reduce that dependence, we need to do four things: use less energy, develop our own energy resources, purchase energy from new producers such as Russia, and seek alternate forms of energy.
It is up to our national companies and government to find local energy supplies, or redirect our purchases to non-Arabian nations. We the people can only make it clear that we expect them to take active measures in the search for energy, and to stop blocking the safe development of those energy supplies already identified.
You and I can get into the act by surveying our energy use, and taking active measures to reduce that use. This is one area in which the tree huggers have good ideas. For example, we spend far too much time in our cars. Perhaps the greatest use of Arabian oil is in motor vehicles. All the traditional ways to reduce our oil use apply. Drive less, plan your trips to accomplish several tasks at once, Car pool, keep your car properly tuned and the tires fully inflated.
At home, let your grass grow an extra day or two before mowing. The fewer times you mow, the less oil and gas you use. Use less air conditioning. On warm days, open the windows and turn on a fan. Only run air conditioning when it is oppressively hot. We should and do take the insults from Arabian leaders personally.
We should and can take personal action to answer their insults. Let’s send the Arabians a message by not using their oil. When the money stops, their insults will stop. We don’t have to wait for Congress or the big oil companies to act. We can have a direct effect by our own actions.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
May 22, 2002

From The Editor's Desk

And that’s the way it is
“Shameless hype. Trumped up melodrama. It pretends. To be a public service. But just how dumb is your evening news?”
— Rob Walker of the New Republic, mocking the dramatic cadences of major network’s nightly news teasers.
I thought of Walker’s humorous, yet discouraging article as I watched “Path of War” with my family Saturday, an HBO special about how America found itself stuck in Vietnam like a heavy boot in a sinkhole.
And there was Walter Cronkite, saying the Vietnam War seemed destined for a stalemate.
I looked at my dad.
“That’s weird, such editorializing on the news,” I said.
“No, they used to have editorials on the nightly news,” he said.
And yes, I do vaguely remember that, actually.
I also remember a time when “spontaneous” chit chat on TV news wasn’t the norm and when the last eight to 10 minutes of a newscast wasn’t devoted to shallow, feel-good stories to make you forget the first 20 minutes.
Of course, all media — all people for that matter — have their shortcomings — all of us at this paper included.
But I pick on network news because it is the first thing many people think of when they talk about “the media.” They think of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw or Peter Jennings. They think of Sam Donaldson, whose hair has an oddly Spockian sheen. They think of the distinctive “ba-ba-BA-ba” of the intro to ABC’s “World News Tonight.”
It’s often entertaining.
Problem is, network news too often crops tight on emotion, while panning out to a distant fuzziness on logic.
Walker points out examples of this with painful clarity in his May 20th New Republic article, “Anchor Steam.” For instance, he wrote about an ABC news clip showing two senators bickering on a White House nomination to federal court, with Jennings asking, “Do they or do they not know their microphones are open?”
Yeah, our society loves a good fight. But Jennings never says who the nominee is, or for what court, or what the controversy is. Basically, the news boils down to “those no good rascals in Washington are fighting over who knows what again” — or as Walker says in his article, “This segment...seemed designed to elicit a kind of content-free outrage.” In essence, the news clip helps us understand the world no more than the outrageous diatribe of a bad-guy pro-wrestler, though the emotional response to both may be the same.
And that’s why it works — at least economically.
We watch because they hook an emotional claw into us.
Is your water dirty? Is chicken safe? What do they spray on apples?
More and more, TV news seems to play the fear angle.
Most of us laugh at these scare tactics, recognizing a sucker punch for what it is.
But those ominous tones hit a nerve sometimes and leave us worried about the West Nile virus or some other potential malady or mishap. So we’ll tune in and sit through numerous commercials only to hear some junk we already knew.
We feel duped.
But it’s a two-way guilt.
Because we’re culpable too as we as a society click the remote to another station, muttering “the media is stupid,” not acknowledging the vast array of news journals and magazines that tackle subjects with complexity with pieces that require at least a 45-minute read.
Many call this the “information age.” But a more appropriate tag is the “info-tainment age.”
And as long as remotes are in hand, that’s the way it will stay.
An age for shameless hype and trumped up melodrama.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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