Erev Erev Election Day, or, I Have No Fingernails Left

So, yeah, the fate of our nation will be decided in about 50 hours from now, but let’s not talk about that, okay? Oh, I know there’s plenty of other stuff to talk about—I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week checking and rechecking such inanities as the technical definition of a graduated income tax—(don’t look now, but you might be living in a socialist state), but mostly I’ve been fretting, worrying, gnashing my teeth and the like—not just over the election, which is nausea-inducing enough, but over this fun fact, which surfaced amidst the ludicrous newscycle we’ve been living for months: in the annual press freedom report by Reporters Without Borders, the United States came in 36th, a spot we proudly share with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan. And guess what? We climbed up twelve places to get there. That twelve point bump comes mostly from the release of an Al Jazeera cameraman from Guantanamo, where he never stood trial for any crime. The low rating comes mostly from other journalists in Guantanamo and the arrests, detentions and the like plaguing journalists at both the RNC and DNC this year. (Other people I’ve spoken to have also wondered what role corporate media’s complete consumption of most news outlets might have factored in; I’m not sure.)

This is the second most not-cool thing that could happen right now. (Look at how I’m not talking about the other thing, conveniently not endangering anyone’s non-profit status!) It’s one thing for members of relatively fringe political views to expound on how equality is “a European value, and not an American value.” ( Go know, as my mother would say.) It’s quite another to have an independent third party tell us for sure that we’re not living with a truly free and unfettered press. First-amendment freedoms are among those that have defined America from the beginning, the ones always as treasured as our economic capabilities, and apparently, just as fragile.

(For the record, Israel came in at 46, while American-owned territories clock in at 119, “Israel (extra-terrestrial)” at 149, and the Territories made it to 163. So are Martians in Israel receiving a better quality of news than Palestinians in the West Bank? An interesting possibility.)

So, whether you spend Wednesday in a joyous stupor and in a state of despair, I urge you to keep some of Molly Ivins’ words of wisdom in mind: things can always get worse and often do, and since these may very well work out to be the Good Old Days, you best enjoy them while you can. Since you can all still read Molly Ivins without fear of government reprisals, I’d say go do that, and support your local and independent news sources while you’re at it.

And, of course, please vote. Please.

–Mel Weiss