About Walter Brasch

Columnist, author, journalism professor. Latest book is BEFORE THE FIRST SNOW: STORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION, a look at the couterculture from 1964, as seen through the eyes of a "flower child" who is now middle-aged--and of the reporter who covered her story. The book is available through Amazon.com . . . Check out website, www.walterbrasch.com for further info. Or, just write me: walterbrasch@gmail.com

Marching Bands and High School PE

  by Walter Brasch   The Millard Public Schools in Omaha, Neb., will not allow its students to substitute marching band for its requirement that students take three semesters of physical education. The proposal would save about $75,000 a year, according to the administration. But, the administration also said if the proposal was implemented it would negate the district’s emphasis on wellness and promoting physical fitness. There are two issues here. First, as almost everyone who ever was a member of a marching band knows, it’s physically challenging. Every member must not only march, sometimes at a rapid pace, but also read music, do maneuvers and play an instrument at the same time. Some parades are a mile; the Rose … Continue reading

A Large Problem for Circuses

    By Walter Brasch   By May, there will be no more elephants in the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus. The circus management had originally said it would cease using elephants by 2018, but revised its estimate by two years. Management said the cost to retire the elephants to the Ringling Brothers Center for Animal Conservation in Florida is less than it had first anticipated. The 13 Asian elephants on tour will join 30 others at the 200 acre facility, which has a $2.5 million annual budget. “Our family’s commitment to save the majestic Asian elephants will continue through our breeding program, research and conservation efforts at the Center,” said Alana Feld, executive vice-president of Feld Entertainment. P.T. … Continue reading

Sarah Palin’s Quixotic Quest for Relevance

      By Walter Brasch   She’s back and tightly holding Donald Trump’s coattails. That’s right, Sarah Palin, having again found the media spotlight, is casting her shadow across the more thoughtful conservatives. This past week she declared her undying love and support of Trump’s attempt to seize the presidency from the more experienced and knowledgeable candidates in the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties, and is blathering her way throughout Iowa, New Hampshire, and several early primary states to stir up Trump’s far-right base. At a media circus press conference this past week in Ames, Iowa, Palin gave the far-right wing goose bumps of excitement with her opening declaration, “Looking around at all of you, you hard working Iowa … Continue reading

Major Catastrophe: Major Media Problem

By Walter Brasch   On Oct. 23, Southern California Gas technicians discovered a leak of methane from a failed casing on one of the pipes in its Alisa Canyon storage facility, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The company estimates it will be the end of March until it can plug that leak from the pipe that is about 9,000 feet deep. About 77,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas that can widen the ozone hole in the atmosphere, have already gone into the air. Residents in the area have complained of nausea, dizziness, headaches and nosebleeds from the sulfur-like odor that is put into natural gas to identify it. Residents of about 3,000 households have been relocated. Hundreds … Continue reading

Blathering in Front of TV Cameras

    By Walter Brasch   Several TV networks covered the Rose Parade. ABC, NBC, RFD, the Hallmark network, and Univision had frequent interruptions to unleash commercials on us. The Home and Garden network ran the two hour parade uninterrupted—except for endless on-air self-promotion about HGTV and its programs. The networks had commentators who chatted with each other and seemed to spend more time enjoying being on air than in reporting the parade. They aren’t unusual. TV news—including parade coverage—has become more of a personality-based medium than a news medium. The Happy News TV anchors chat with each other. A few seconds here. A few seconds there. “With Tonight’s weather forecast is Susan Brown” has been replaced by: “Hey, Suze, … Continue reading

Violating the Constitution is Not a Public Right

    by Walter Brasch   For at least 17 years, the officials of Monroeville, Pa., a 30,000 population Pittsburgh suburb, have recited the Lord’s Prayer before every council meeting. This violates the First Amendment. And it’s not even a gray area. Finally, the ACLU sent the council a letter, threatening to file a lawsuit. The response by Bruce Dice, the city solicitor, was that the council will try its best to abide by the Constitution, and will make changes. Dice, who has been solicitor since 1998, says government “should not be sponsoring prayer or direct residents about religion.” At its Jan. 12 meeting, the Council will consider an ordinance to have different members of the clergy, representing different religions, … Continue reading

Christmas Again Wins the Annual War

    by Walter Brasch   The mythical War on Christmas is over and once again Christmas won. The war was created out of fairy dust, and then neatly wrapped up and delivered to religious right-wing extremists by pretend-generals Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and a cast of dozens who have seized the public airways. One of the battalion commanders is Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado. He introduced a resolution, which 35 other Republicans co-signed, that defends the holiday. That resolution calls for the House of Representatives to recognize “the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas,” to “strongly [disapprove] of attempts to ban references to Christmas; [and] expresses support for the use of … Continue reading

Today’s Media: Often Pandering to Bias and Ignorance

  by Walter Brasch   The Texas board of education didn’t find anything wrong with a world geography textbook that said slaves from Africa were workers, but that immigrants from northern Europe were indentured servants. This is the same school board that five years ago demanded that textbooks emphasize that slavery was only a side issue to the cause of the civil war, and that Republican achievements be emphasized in political science and civics textbooks. For good measure, the officials also wanted a “fair and balanced” look at evolution versus intelligent design or creationism, and that global warming is only a theory, overlooking substantial and significant scientific evidence. Because Texas adopts textbooks for the entire state, and there is minimal … Continue reading