Sunday, July 17, 2016

Went Back to Ohio But My Pretty Countryside Had Been Paved Down the Middle

Driving into Ohio this morning, on my way to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, listening to the radio, on came The Pretenders 1982 b-side single – I Went Back to Ohio.



With the refrain – I Went Back to Ohio, But My Pretty Countryside Had Been Paved Down the Middle.

What’s striking about the song is the opening bass riff, which Rush Limbaugh for years has been using to open his nationwide radio program. (Akron native and Pretenders founder Chrissie Hynde reportedly let Limbaugh use it – she said because her parents loved and listened to Limbaugh and she did not mind its use.)

Pulled into the Ohio war zone (aka Cleveland), hopped the red line downtown to get press credentials. News had just broken about the three police officers shot dead in Baton Rouge. And a couple of stops before I got off, a young black kid gets on the train carrying a skateboard with a red bandana tied around his mouth. (I myself am wearing a suit, because I was told in a letter granting me press credentials that “all correspondents wearing a convention press pass must be engaged in the gathering and reporting of news, dress in professional attire, and adhere to journalistic standards of integrity and conduct at all times.” I asked what was meant by “professional attire” and was told suit and tie.)

Which reminds me. Driving to Cleveland this morning, I also listened to Krista Tippett’s show On Being in which she replayed an interview with Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

“When you breathe in, your mind comes back to your body,” the Zen Master says. “And then you become fully aware that you're alive, that you are a miracle and everything you touch could be a miracle — the orange in your hand, the blue sky, the face of a child. Everything becomes a wonder. And, in fact, they are wonders of life that are available in the here and the now. And you need to breathe mindfully in and out in order to be fully present and to get in touch with all these things. And that is a miracle because you understand the nature of the suffering, you know that all of suffering, that suffering play in life, and you are not trying to run away from suffering anymore, and you know how to make use of suffering in order to build peace and happiness.”

AT&T Rain Poncho
So, I take a deep breath, get off the train, walk past maybe 100 police officers in five blocks and enter the media credentialing center.

At the credentialing center, I’m told there is going to be a party tonight for reporters at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame downtown.

I’m handed the credentials for the week, including one for the party tonight.

As I imagined, the press party is being sponsored by a list of corporate lawbreakers, including FirstEnergy, which in 2006 had to pay $28 million and was granted one of those slap on the wrist deferred prosecution agreements after it admitted that its employees, acting on its behalf, knowingly made false representations to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the course of attempting to persuade the NRC that its northern Ohio Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station was safe to operate beyond December 31, 2001.

According to the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First, since 2010, FirstEnergy has paid more than $393,000 in fines and penalties to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Another sponsor of the media party –  Parker Hannifin – was fined $44,000 by OSHA earlier this year for the severed arm of a worker. The company has been fined more than $3 million since 2010 by the Department of Justice, OSHA and the EPA.

Media party sponsor Sherwin Williams has been fined more than $1.3 million since 2010.

The goodie bag that reporters get – and a rain poncho – are sponsored by AT&T, which last year was fined $100 million by the Federal Communications Commission for misleading consumers about “unlimited” data plans. (AT&T is "the official communications, video and technology provider of the Republican National Convention.")

Which all made me wonder whether having major corporate lawbreakers sponsor the media party “adheres to journalistic standards of integrity and conduct at all times.”

Donald Trump said yesterday he wanted to bring law and order back to America.

Good idea.


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