When I was a little kid, my dad owned a big blue house on a prominent corner in Lynn, Massachusetts, a block from the beach. It was the former home of some kind of sea captain, I think, because it had a widow’s walk on the roof. We used to watch fireworks from up there. Some of my older brothers used it to launch model airplanes and toy cars, with an M-80 tucked inside, fuse lit, to watch them detonate in mid-air. Fun times.
My dad used to get all kinds of offers from local politicians of wink-nod favors and sometimes cash to put their political signs on our property. He would take the best deal. At one time, he was also a union shop steward at the General Electric plant where he worked for four decades. He saw the political corruption up close and personal. He used to use a term to describe anything political, or dealing with big companies and money: “It’s a racket.”
Note the word “racket” is different and distinct from the word “racquet.” Though the two words are frequently used interchangeably, the latter means a net stretched in an oval or circular frame, with a handle used to strike a ball or shuttlecock in games like tennis or badminton. The former, when not used as in “racquet” means something totally different. “Racket” means a confused, clattering noise; a clamor, or a din, or a cacophony. It also means a social whirl or excitement—like a viral video creating a racket. Finally, it means a fraudulent scheme or enterprise.
It was this last definition that my dad used in conversation. Anything political, or dealing with big companies and money was a racket. Though I never really knew how he voted (we just didn’t discuss it), he was pretty much a liberal his whole life. I doubt he voted for a Republican in my lifetime, but I may be wrong.
The reason I proposed calling this news and opinion endeavor “The Racket News” is mostly because of my dad’s view of the world, and this word. But it’s also because I’m writing and making podcasts and other content with two people I highly respect: David Thornton, who I know from our days at The Resurgent with Erick Erickson, and my brother Jay, who I know from my whole life.
I’ve only been writing seriously since 2014, when I began blogging on my own personal blog, and writing as a “diarist” on RedState. I pirouetted with glee when I first saw a post I had written on the “front page” of that site, and I was over the moon when Erick asked me to be one of the original writers at The Resurgent. We had a good four years there, but the one unchangeable law of media is that everything changes, and individual writers frequently get traded like single-A baseball lineups.
So it is that David and I found ourselves writing for The First TV, an OTT media channel with former Fox News big gun Bill O’Reilly as headliner, along with a stable of radio, internet, and podcast voices (some of whom you’d know and some you might not). Given that we Resurgent writers were cut from a somewhat different jib than the sails driving The First TV (which they understood and were very indulgent of), I at least felt that I, in my writing endeavors, was going from being a feather in the wind bourn along on Erick’s wings, to becoming a fart in the room.
If I was going to spoil someone’s quiet dinner with flatulence and noise, I figured I may as well have more fun doing it, while taking full responsibility for the stink. Far be it from me to sully Mr. O’Reilly’s good name because I am insufficiently enthusiastic about Keeping America Great.
What we will do with this new vehicle is partly up to us, and partly up to you, reader. We will write and chat about social issues, curmudgeonly fits of pique, things that annoy us, politics, money, corporate hijinks, and maybe some funny stories about things that happen in airplanes (David is a professional pilot, and I am decidedly an amateur one). So you, reader, need to tell us what you like and dislike, and in a democratic and populist fashion, we will listen to your wishes and act as your servant. After all, you’re our boss now—even if we’re not charging anything (yet).
Then again, to hell with it, I take all that back. We’ll write and talk about whatever we please, and you can take your delicate opinions and put them with yesterday’s newspaper. I kid, I kid.
What we really endeavor to do is have you trust us, that what we’re telling you is the truth as we know it, and as best we can learn. We promise to learn new things every day, and never to give you some prescriptive conclusion with “Because” as the primary answer. Things happen for a reason, and many times we are far less cynical than we need to be.
In the end, my dad, who passed away on July 4, 2016, was probably more right than wrong. A lifetime cynic, he really believed everything was a racket. While I am more hopeful that there are more good people in the world, devoted to truth, knowledge and integrity, than he guessed or expected, I think it’s proper to honor him, while making a Racket to promote the good things and people.
Welcome to The Racket News, reader. All I can say now is what we say in the South on your way out the door. “Come back and see us!”