Sunday, January 31, 2016

"...Election Stuff?...Don't Stop Till You Get Enough..."

And so it begins.

Well, officially, anyway.

Given, as British historian Timothy Stanley writes, "...a campaign that feels like it started in 1776 is finally going to count some votes...."

Amen, brother.

Iowa, baby.

Lot of people doing a lot of talking about a lot of other people and what those other people will, or won't, do, who they will, or won't vote for.

How things will, or won't go, for any/all of those whose hats are in the ring. (among, obviously, many other sources) predictably offers up, today, (the Sunday before the Monday) a six or seven on a verbosity scale of one to ten treatise on  "what to look for" prior to the voting. And what the Iowa caucuses "really mean".

I think they think of it as "things you need to know".

I think of it more as yada, yada.

With a sassy splash of blah, blah.

So, I've taken a pass on including it, in its entirety, in this piece.

Because too much yada, yada, blah, blah makes for a blah blog.

That said, never let it be said that I'm not always ready and willing to let you make up your mind(s) for yourself(selves).

Here's a link to that article.

As for me, I haven't come close to making up my mind about any of those hatless folk I mentioned earlier.

But I'm coolly confident about my take on what the Iowa caucuses are all about.

Michael Jackson.

Bear with me.

Whatever other virtues the voting aged population of this country, at this point in our history, may possess, it's neither unfair, nor inaccurate, to opine that the term "informed voter" is, at least, an ironic, even laughable description and, at worst, an overwhelmingly depressing oxymoronic, but, again, irrefutably fair and accurate categorization.

Take a minute or two to click on You Tube and find yourself one of the many "street interview" schtick segments the late night talk show folk like to do.

You know the ones I'm talking about. Where everyday folks are stopped, at random, on any busy street, USA and asked questions that spotlight, or dim light, their knowledge about and/or awareness of current movers and shakers and the current events that have them moving and shaking.

Even allowing, and conceding, that a lot of editing goes into the final product that airs, it's certainly a lot of funny.

And not just a little scary.

Because of how little so many seem to know about so many things that they should know at least a little about.

Let alone a lot.

And no one place in America deserves any more derision than another when it comes to being home to those who honestly think that the right to bear arms has something to do with sunscreen and Rand Paul, for example, is, for example, that famous hairdresser guy who does all the Kardashians.

That kind of funny, and frightening, ignorance can be found in any one of the fifty states any time, day or night, 365 a year.

From California to New York, from North Dakota to Texas, from sea to shining sea.


And Iowa.

Where  "...a campaign that feels like it started in 1776 is finally going to count some votes....".

And those in the other 49 states lacking the "know" but looking for a little "show" are, curiously, if not anxiously, awaiting the outcome.

For a variety of reasons, surely.

Not the least of which being some indication of how they might want to cast their own vote down this very, very...very long road to November.

Old joke.

King stands on the main road of his kingdom, a good and faithful servant by his side, watching the entire population of said kingdom moving rapidly past him, a reverse parade of sorts.

The King, quizzical expression dramatically expressed, turns to his good and faithful and, in a confident and commanding tone, commands....

"...quickly....tell me where my people are I may lead them..."

That satirical swipe is usually offered up as an impish indictment of our elected officials inability to find purpose, direction and/or their asses with both hands and a flashlight.

But you get the idea.

Meanwhile, back in Iowa.

Or more to the point, meanwhile, back to Michael Jackson.

Since its release in the 1980's, Michael's seminal album, "Thriller" has sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 million copies.

A pretty nice neighborhood, I think we can all agree.

Courtesy of  the "wisdom" that life experience provides, though, I've offered, both in print and on the assorted radio shows through the years, what I think is a valid perspective on the prolific volume of "thrilling" Michael managed.

Simply put...

40 million people, let's say, give or take, bought a copy of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" because they loved Michael, loved and respected his work, knew what he was all about musically and were excited about hearing his particular style once again with the added bonus of whatever new, even, perhaps, culture changing, innovations he was going to offer this time around.

And 25 million people, let's say, give or take, bought a copy of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" because the first 40 million people bought one.

Didn't know diddly about the guy.

Except what they'da heard here and there, every now and then.

Must'a been somethin' to it, though, if that many people were excited about it.

I haven't come close to making up my mind about any of those hat-less folk I mentioned earlier.

But I'm coolly confident about my take on what the Iowa caucuses are all about.

They're about a couple of hundred thousand, everyday kinda, Midwest folk, give or take, deciding on who they want to live at 1600 Pennsylvania come January next year.

So that a pretty sizable chunk of somewhere in the equally nice neighborhood of 120 million people, give or take, can begin to get some idea on who they want to live at 1600.

Even, and especially, those who, at this point, don't know diddly about the guys.

And gals.

Except what they've-a heard here and there, every now and then.

Must be somethin' to em', though, if that many people are excited enough to vote for em'

Heck, those up till now out of the loop folks might start to get a little ed-u-ma-cation about the American presidential election process.

At the very least, the outcome of the Iowa voting will qualify as interesting.

Maybe even a little exciting.

What the hell.

Might even be a thriller.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

"...We Would Do Well To Heed The Teachings of Newton AND Nelson..."

Just finished up a week guest hosting on local talk radio.

Spent more than a few minutes talking with listeners/callers about this current concerted effort by people to be all things at all times in all ways to other people.

Or as it's known by its more familiar brand name....political correctness.

One screamingly, ragingly obvious bottom line fact about the whole concept of total inclusion seems to have gotten buried under the tons and tons....and tons....of hype, hysteria, whining, wailing, bluster and bullshit.

I'll dig that out for you in just a sec.

Meanwhile, in one of the higher profile examples of the epidemic of enforced equality that's infecting the populace faster than the Kardashians can spread herpes, the "Oscars are too white" bitch and bother found yet another voice this week in the person of accomplished screenwriter Patricia Resnick who, after the "adjusted Academy voting rules" were announced, found her herself no longer welcome in the voting booth where each year the choice of the best fruit is made from amongst the nominated apples, oranges, bananas, kiwis, tangerines and/or cantaloupes.

And, come to think of it, none of those are black, either.


Of course, they are all fruits.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Here's what Ms. Resnick had to say to her former Academy bros and sistahs.

To the Board of Governors of the Academy:

So let me see if I have this right. I managed, against all odds, to become a produced, young female screenwriter in the 1970's, getting my first credit co-writing for arguably the preeminent director of his time, Robert Altman. By 27, I had written the highest-grossing film of 1980 and what was to become one of the iconic comedies of our time, 9 to 5.

 I wrote a number of other films, got some produced and then found myself running into the brick wall of ageism and sexism by my mid-forties. As the sole provider for my two children, I did what I could to take care of us all, which meant going where the work was for me: television movies, then television pilots and then series work. I am still working and my current credits include consulting producer on Mad Men and Recovery Road and creator of my own pilot starring Alan Cumming at Showtime.

One of the proudest accomplishments of my life was being invited to join the Academy way back in the eighties, and now I am being told that I no longer deserve to vote because the Academy is too white and too male. I happen to be female and I'm also gay, another underrepresented minority, and yet, because I haven't been hired on a film in the last 10 years, I am to be booted into the "emeritus" status and replaced by younger members who are being asked to join in order to help you deal with a publicity nightmare.

 By the way, the actors branch nominated or didn't nominate certain actors. Replacing sexism and racism with ageism is not the answer. It's like deciding to boycott graduation at a college that is not diverse instead of the admissions office. The problems lie with the motion picture business decision-makers, not the Academy members.

I'm angry and I'm ashamed of the Academy.

Patricia Resnick

This currently in fashion controversy about the lack of black in the Oscar process, along with all of the other controversies involving the lack of whatever and/or whomever in whatever is, ostensibly, well intended (much like, of course, the pavement on the highway to hell) but, as 60's pop hit maker Shirley Ellis might offer us, when you get right down to the real nitty gritty, it's simply a waste of time.

Because of that pesky, aforementioned,screamingly, ragingly obvious bottom line fact about the whole concept of total inclusion.

It simply cannot be done.

Filibuster all you want, there, filibusterers.....

Filibuster gets trumped by physics every time.

As in several, among many other, irrefutable laws of said physics that are unavoidable, inevitable and...well...irrefutable.

What goes up must come down--Isaac Newton.

A body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by an external force--Isaac Newton.

And probably most profoundly in this teapot full of tempest nonsense regarding the attempt to make life equally equal for everyone and/or everything when it comes to any and everything at any and all times....

You can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself--Rick Nelson.

When the effort to accommodate diversity results in an explosion of divisiveness,  common sense, if not that pesky unavoidable inevitability, dictates that there's really only one possible practical option.

Grow the fuck up and get it through your narcissistic noggin' that there's, literally, no such thing as total equality.

The term is an oxymoron.

Like, for example, intelligent life on other planets.

Well, actually, in the spirit of accuracy (as opposed to correctness, which is killing us) that should read...

Intelligent life on this planet.

Seriously, Earthlings, evolve a little more quickly, could ya?

Life here is about challenges and overcoming them.

Obstacles and surmounting them.

It's an expedition and an exploration and an often rough, tough journey.

Not a party.

Garden...or otherwise.

Monday, January 25, 2016

"....Walk Out Of The Showroom Now.....Right Now...."

We could use a little more Jesus in the coming weeks.

But not so much in a hallelujah way.

More a "can you hear me now?" way.

WASHINGTON -- At a time when the media’s duty to vet candidates is more urgent than ever, journalism is giving Donald Trump a free pass, leading historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told The Huffington Post in an interview.

Trump deploys fame for fame’s sake; taps into populist expressions of fear, hatred and resentment and shows a knack for picking fights and a braggart’s focus on the horse race. All of which allow him to play into -- and exploit -- every media weakness and bad habit in a chase for audience and numbers.

As a result, said Goodwin, the 69-year-old Trump has preempted serious scrutiny of his past, character, record in business and suitability -- if any -- for the office of president.

In the old days Goodwin writes about, vetting (and probably dismissing) Trump would also have been the province of party leaders: prominent, experienced (though not necessarily wise) power brokers in politics, government, business and other upper realms of American society.

But the phrase “party leader” today is an oxymoron, and picking nominees today is totally the province of voters in caucuses and primaries, which makes the civic role of the mainstream press all that more important, Goodwin observed. 

“We in the media are the key purveyors of the qualities of the candidates and of telling people who they are and what they stand for,” said Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize winner whose best-selling books on Lincoln, the Roosevelts and Lyndon B. Johnson include studies of their dealings with the press.

"The responsibilities are pretty great."

Is the press carrying out those responsibilities in the case of Trump?

“No. I don’t think so,” she said.

Every candidate is dealing with the same editorial and institutional trends: obsession with polls and conflict, the shorter attention spans of most news consumers and the ruthless aggregation, measurement and marketing of user interactions across scattered social media.

But no one uses these trends as cynically or successfully as Trump to avoid the scrutiny that only the media can provide and that the media, mesmerized, is not providing. 

“Every day he is a new story, which is brilliant in its own right,” said Goodwin. “We see him in a debate, yelling at an opponent, or making fun of somebody or saying something outrageous.”

The focus on conflict rivets attention on the present. And by constantly jabbering about polls and his chances, Trump also throws the focus on the unknowable (but cheap for the media to speculate about) future of the campaign. 

“It’s: ‘How is he going to do?,’” said Goodwin. “It’s: ‘How is this happening? Oh my God, he is leading! It’s possible he could win!’”

By dwelling on the glittering present and the entertainingly uncertain future, Trump erases all sense of history, context and accountability for his own life and actions.

“He doesn’t let you have time to go back to his past,” said Goodwin.

“Do we know, at this point, about his modus operandi in business? Do we know how he treated his staff? Do we know what kind of leader he was when he was building his business? I mean, I don’t know the answers to these things.

“All I know is that, when I see him now, it’s like his past is not being used by the media to tell us who the guy really is.”

No person in public life is more in need of deep investigative scrutiny than Trump, said Goodwin. But the best way to tell his story is through long, complex print pieces of a kind that most audience today have little patience for.

Writing about the late 19th century muckrakers, Goodwin gained an appreciation both for their methods -- they might take two years investigating an oil company -- and the patience of reform-minded readers of those times.

“The trouble today is, first of all, committing the resources, and then it would be a really complex story, and given people’s attention span, who would be reading it?

“And yet I have to say that print journalism is still much more able to tell a complicated story, not only because of length but because the way sentences work. It can’t be shorthanded.”

Trump has another tactic for defeating press scrutiny of the traditional kind, according to Goodwin. 

In his role as a celebrity brand, Trump isn’t selling a movement or a specific agenda, or even the details of his own track record.
He is selling his stage persona -- and the related notion that his supporters can somehow mimic him by voting for him. It’s a materialistic version of a religious appeal: the “prosperity gospel” of Norman Vincent Peale and Rev. Ike.

Or it’s like becoming another Beyoncé by buying her lipstick. 

“It’s the idea that he’s ‘The One’ and that they can BECOME him,” said Goodwin. “You’re always looking for a leader who is going to have an impact on your life. I mean, it makes some sense. But in another way it makes no sense at all.”

Media amplifies the presumed power of Trump by conflating celebrity with clout and voters’ faith in an agenda with fan worship.

“Bernie Sanders is a movement; Trump is not a movement. What movement was he ever in? What movement is he in now?

“It’s just him. He’s saying ‘I am here and just somehow, I am going to make things good.’”

“We know enough about leadership to know that that is not true.”

A friend of mine posted the link to Huffington Post where he found this article. His posting included this insightful introduction.

Excellent ~ Doris Kearns Goodwin tells us exactly how we got to this point. There are two diverse groups who need to understand this: The Fourth Estate who will never admit to their complicity and the Trumpistas who will never take the time to read this or understand why this is wrong and who, perhaps, will also dismiss this as Establishment propaganda. It is alarming. 

From my seat in the peanut gallery, what resonates most clearly is the prediction of "Trumpistas" attitude.

Although I've personally referred to this unique and eclectic political demographic as "TrumpStumpers" and I believe the prevailing moniker assigned is "Trumpeters".

A buffoonish and dangerous demagogue by any other name, yada, yada.

I've doubled down the bet that

a) Trump's tooters will likely NOT take time to read any of this.

b) Trump's tooters, should they actually read any of this, will NOT understand why this is wrong

c) Trump's tooters WILL, bet the farm, dismiss this as "Establishment propaganda."

And that brings us around to the intent of this essay, and title of this collection of essays, I publish.

Politics in plain English.

Just on the off chance that some of the more obtuse of Donald's devotees happen to wander through here on the way to their daily dose of Michael Savage or Glenn Beck, let me offer the following easy-to-read, bullet point summary of what's going on here.

  • Donald Trump is that "city boy" at the dealership whose first question to you is "what are you looking for in a truck?"
  • Let's say that "something you're looking for" is dependability.
  • From then on, EVERY time you ask ANY question about a particular truck, he will find a way to word his answer so it focuses on how "dependable" that truck is.
  • Even though you know, deep down, that "dependability" is only ONE of the many things you want in a truck, he will keep you talking, and answering you, about dependability.
  • He's gambling that you're stupid enough to buy a truck ONLY because it's dependable.
  • Donald Trump is counting on you to be just that stupid.

You're not really that stupid, right?

Of course not.

He can try to talk to you like you're stupid all day long, but you know what he's up to and you can hear what he's trying to do.

And THAT, TrumpTruckers is why we need a little more Jesus in this presidential campaign.

Not in a hallelujah way.

But in a "can you hear me now?" way.

As in...

"....he who has ears to hear....let him hear...."

Otherwise, you're going to get stuck with a piece of shit truck because some city boy sold you on its dependability.

Depend on it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"...It Ain't The Republicans...Or The Democrats You Gotta Worry About...It's Them Lemmings..."

Old (lame) joke.

It's not the school.

It's the principal of the thing.

Politics in America has become a lot like that these days.

Lampooning of, and satire aimed at, political figures is an art form as old as the first charcoal sketchings on the walls of Mr. and Mrs. Grok's cave sweet cave.

So, there's nothing new going on here, at least in so far as concept is concerned.

What has, almost radically, changed is the thinning of the line between ridicule and reality to a point where the separation is, arguably, gone.

A predictable number of Sarah detracting viewers of the Tina Fey take on the Palin presentation have made it clear in their social media comments that they find....

a) Fey to be a brilliant impressionist.

b) Palin to be, at best, an eccentric and, at worst, an embarrassment to the process.

Meanwhile, an equally predictable number of Sarah soldiers were, at best, annoyed and, at worst, ready to light the torches and storm the village where SNL is broadcast.

(NOTE: the term "equally predictable" in the previous paragraph refers to the equality of the predictability and not the number of Sarahsillys....the ratio of detractor to defender runs in the ballpark of 1000 to 1).

Here's a thing.

Tina Fey is not the problem.

Saturday Night Live is not the problem.

Donald Trump is not the problem.

Even Sarah Palin is not the problem.

The problem, dear Brutus, is that there are, literally, millions of people in this country who think that Sarah Palin is anything other than a pathetic footnote in the history of American politics.

Millions of people who, by both law and unfortunate circumstance, have the right to cast a vote in the coming presidential election.

Millions of people who, as opposed to finally and mercifully beginning to see Donald Trump as the caricature of a candidate he has always been, will only feel additionally validated in their passionate support of the guy because their previous favorite caricature of a candidate is now steering them in his direction.

Old (lame) joke.

It's not the school.

It's the principal of the thing.

New (lame) joke.

It's not the leader.

It's the followers of the guy.

Or gal.

Can I get a hallelujah?

Friday, January 22, 2016

"...So Much For The Theory That Going For Coffee Is The Least Awkward First Date Option..."

Clean air, clean water, inspiring politicians, common sense.

Plenty of things in this life that are in perilously short supply.

Meanwhile, we are experiencing an unprecedented availability of royalty.

More on that in a moment

Sporting de Huelva's Elena Pavel has claimed that a referee invited her on a date in the middle of a game.

During Huelva's recent match at Santa Teresa in Spain's Primera Division, referee Santiago Quijada Alcon is said to have asked the 31-year-old defender to go for coffee. The Sun reports:

The whistler allegedly told the shocked Romanian: "Hey brown-hair, let's get coffee this afternoon." 

She said: "I've stopped believing in football, in fair play. I feel helpless, humiliated. In the many years I've been playing football I've never felt so ashamed."Better stick to blowing your whistle."
Pavel rebuffed the offer and subsequently saw two of her teammates sent off and a clear penalty opportunity denied in what resulted in a 3-2 loss.

According to Marca (h/t Sports Illustrated), the Romanian defender will not make a formal complaint because "it's her word against his."

No one possessed of the tiniest shard of the aforementioned rare, and rapidly becoming extinct, common sense would see this referee's behavior as anything less than cheesy.

And there's really no discounting those who would take indignation a little further and throw a flag at this loser accusing him of being tacky, tasteless, insensitive and, of course, inappropriate.

If nothing else, there is certainly no defense against an indictment on the grounds of "absolutely wrong time, absolutely wrong place."

So, calling a foul is certainly in order.

Here's a different kick on the matter, though.

We live in a world suddenly inundated with hair triggers and an automatic tendency to pull them, often without a thought, almost more as if by instinct as opposed to design. Quickly yanked by a growing mass of people who find something that offends them about anything and everything that has even the slightest hint of possibility to generate offense.

And in this incident, Elena Pavel, inadvertently, illustrates this trend towards outrage being the only setting on the meter when it comes to rating human misbehavior.

She got hit on.

By a doofus.

And it was, as already offered here, both unfortunate and inappropriate.


"I've stopped believing in football, in fair play. I feel helpless, humiliated. In the many years I've been playing football I've never felt so ashamed."


Surrounded by thousands of spectators.


By a doofus who asked you out for coffee in an extraordinarily stupid manner?


Of what? There is no shame in being asked out for coffee in an extraordinarily stupid manner by a doofus in front of thousands of spectators.

Stopped believing in football?

Uh...because you were asked out for coffee in an extraordinarily stupid manner by a doofus in front of thousands of spectators?

Old saying.

Let the punishment fit the crime.

New addendum to that old saying.

Let the level of complaint fit that crime, as well.

And how about saving helpless, humiliated, ashamed and loss of belief in a life long sport for experiences that irrefutably justify those emotions?

I mean, seriously, girl, it's not like the ref named you Miss Universe and then yanked it away from you.

Oh...and don't be offended by my lack of support for your assertion that you have been offended.

Or think that I don't think this matters.

It's not a matter of it not mattering.

It's a matter of how much it matters.

Clean air, clean water, inspiring politicians, common sense.

Plenty of things in this life that are in perilously short supply.

Meanwhile, we are experiencing an unprecedented availability of royalty.

An ever increasing number of drama queens.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"...He Just Wants Us To Stop Making Allowances For Those Who Are Blowing Our Allowance..."

Old joke.

Boss walks up to secretary's desk, drops a spreadsheet on it and exclaims, "what is this expense listed here....six dollars for paper clips....SIX DOLLARS?.....for PAPER CLIPS?....."

Secretary glances at spreadsheet, looks up and replies, "...really? this is a problem? this is a multi billion dollar corporation.....millions and millions of dollars cross your desk every single day.....and you're telling me you're upset about six dollars for paper clips?"

Boss replies, "....millions and millions of dollars....I don't understand any of that....but SIX DOLLARS for PAPER CLIPS?.....THAT I understand!"

That, in a nutshell, boys and girls, is what the American system of governing is all about.

And that's why those who love Bernie Sanders love him like crazy.

And those who hate Bernie Sanders hate him like crazy.

Actually, like a boss.

Bernie is campaigning on a platform that includes free public college tuition and low cost health care to everyone.

Just two of the reasons those who love Bernie love him.

And two of the reasons those who hate him hate him.

(BTW, I'm neither a lover nor a hater, but it does prickle my grammar Nazism that it keeps getting referred to as "free tuition". If it's free, then there IS no tuition. Should be referred to as "free education".)

Those who don't feel the Bern also tend to fall into the category of one trick ponies.

The one trick tends to be posting, complaining and/or memeing their Rhodes Scholar level distilling of Sanders' vision.

And the award for best meme representing the Rhodes Scholar level distilling of Sanders' vision goes to:

This "free shit" characterization, however lacking it might be in finesse, pretty much sums up the simple attitude of the anti-Berns.

If only because the "projected cost" of what Sanders would like to accomplish has been ball parked, often and not just a little hysterically, at 18 trillion bucks.

A pretty big ball park by anyone's standard.

But, speaking of "magic trees",  as accomplished illusionists like, say, Penn and Teller have showed us time and time again for years and years and years, what seems to be might not necessarily be what is.

In the world of magic and illusion, there's a little thing they call misdirection.

Put simply, it is the art, and skill, of diverting your attention to something over here so that the magician can be doing something over there.

And then, suddenly, ideally dazzling and delighting you with the exposure of what's going on over there.

Ta da.

Think somebody snapping the fingers of their left hand loudly and often so that you pay no attention to what they're doing with their right hand.

Actually, while we're thinking about it, misdirection is a pretty common methodology in the world of politics, as well.

If the campaign should hit a speed bump regarding a candidate's position on, say, abortion, all said candidate need do is divert your attention to his opponent's position on gun control.

And all those right to bear arms eyes look away from babies and start staring at bullets.

Ta da.

None of this is meant to imply, or even assert, that Bernie Sanders is trying to misdirect us in the slightest.

In fact, it's pretty obvious from the heat that he takes on his stands, that he is a pretty stand up guy when it comes to his intentions.

As far as the 18 trillion dollar elephant in the room is concerned, the real name of the game here isn't misdirection.

It's misappropriation.

And a financial concept so simple in its essence that it is, or at least used to be, taught to children from the first day they seem capable of understanding the difference between a dime and a dollar.

Spending your money only on the things you really need, limiting the amount of money you spend on things you don't need but, just every now and then, want and feel like you deserve.

And, if possible, putting a little away for a rainy day.

The number one radio show in national syndication right now is hosted by a guy named Dave Ramsey.

Dave is a financial consultant and people call in from all over the country asking him for advice and counsel regarding their money. Dave comes off very personable, very knowledgeable, and very willing to offer both on air advice and frequent suggestions that those in need visit his website where his "how to be financially secure" step by step programs are available for purchase via check, debit or credit card.

A lot of people call. And, judging from Dave's success, a lot of people purchase his step by step programs via check, debit or credit card.

And good for Dave.

This is America.

Where figuring out a way to get people to convert their money into your money is a very large piece of the puzzle we call the American dream.

Meanwhile, a friend and colleague of mine remarked, in jest and with all due respect, that he felt like he had zeroed in on the Dave Ramsay premise and with little or no preparation, could probably put together his own version of the number one syndicated radio show in the nation.

It would go something like this.

".....if you can afford something, buy it....and if you can't afford something, don't buy it.....let's go to our next caller...."

Sounds like a hit show to me.

Little short, maybe.

But a hit.

Here's the thing about Bernie Sanders' proposals.

The naysayers are saying nay using terms like "bankrupt", "socialism", "pipe dream" and, of course, the always popular, if not just partly profane, "free shit".

Don't know about the boat, but these folks are most assuredly missing the point.

It's not that America can't afford to send kids to public college at no charge or that we can't afford to provide low, or no, cost health care to our citizens.

The money is there.

It's just being misdirected.

Improper Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals and medical providers---$34 billion.

Fraudulent unemployment benefits to those not qualified---$3 billion.

Social Security payment to the incarcerated...or the dead--- billions.

Fraudulent IRS refunds to prisoners---billions.

That's just a tiny iceberg tip of the waste and/or fraud that most likely numbers in the...wait for it...billions.


Oh. Scratch that.


And even a boss who doesn't understand millions and millions of dollars crossing his desk but totally gets the outrageousness of blowing six bucks on paper clips can do the simple math....

....that a few billion here, a few billion there and the next thing you know.... got 18 trillion.

And free public college education.

And low, or no, cost health care for all citizens.

You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar...or a Nobel Prize winning economist....or even a Dave Ramsay to understand the simplicity of what Bernie Sanders wants to do.

It's a simple matter of not allowing anybody to blow any more of our money on paper clips.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"...If They're Going To Force Feed Us Anyway..."

Can't swing a dead cat or, more aptly, donkey or elephant or even a live remote control these days, and not find one television channel or another offering what poses as insightful, meaningful political analysis and commentary.

MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, Fox Business...

And the list, like the beat, goes on.

Here's a thing, though.

One channel in particular is actually free of political content and, yet, in that way life has of being simultaneously cruel and zany, it is where, truth and common sense be told, the whole kitsch and kaboodle of politics should be aired twenty four/seven.

We'll be right back to that channel after this brief message about today's idiot.

Fox News host Meghan McCain argued on Tuesday that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz was gaining supporters because he was the “thinking man’s Donald Trump.”

Weekly Standard columnist Stephen Hayes opined to the hosts of Outnumbered that Cruz was getting the better of the battle between him and Trump because the billionaire was not a true conservative. 

“And Ted Cruz looks like he just waking up to that fact after having tightly embraced Donald Trump,” Hayes said. “I think that’s the risk for Cruz even if I agree with him on his substantive critique of Trump.”

Host Andrea Tantaros wondered if Cruz had fought hard enough against a comprehensive immigration bill that was backed by McCain’s father, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

“That’s red meat for conservatives in Iowa,” Meghan McCain agreed. “What I think is fascinating is Donald Trump was at Liberty University yesterday, Jerry Falwell’s school, very religious school obviously. He quoted Corinthians wrong and now it’s become this meme all over the Internet.”

“Ted Cruz, in many ways, is the thinking man’s Donald Trump,” she asserted. “He’s a religious man that I think a lot of people especially in the hardcore evangelical parts of Iowa can digest as being much more religious. And I think that’s going to play really well for Ted Cruz.”

As a child of the 1950's, I can personally vouch for the fact that what is available on television in the year 2016 is, irrefutably, an embarrassment of riches.

Or, at the very least, an embarrassment.

"In my day", as age and life experience have afforded me the right to open any damn sentence with, there was on that 1950's and 60's screen, depending on area reception and/or size of antenna and/or tin foil in place on the machinery, a combined total of, at most, four, count em', four broadcast stations available for our daily perusal.




And a PBS.

And news, of both the local and national variety, consisted of a smattering at breakfast and a larger smattering at dinner time.

Monday through Friday.

Believe it or not, kids, the "nightly network news", even with the presence of such news icons as Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley, et al, was only a fifteen minute evening broadcast until as late as September of 1963, when CBS gave that envelope an historic shove and expanded the CBS Evening News to a ground breaking thirty minutes.

And the content of that, and all the other, news programs of the period adhered pretty respectively and religiously to the once upon a time five basics of a news story.

Who, what, when, where and why.

Admittedly, that "why" always had the potential to be a slippery slope but, trust me when I tell you that, in those days, the "why" was provided in the context of something along the lines of "the house caught fire (WHY) because a space heater was left on all night."

There wasn't even a hint of the modern day manipulation of that why business, something along the lines of, say, "the house caught fire (WHY) because a space heater was left on all night (SLIPPERY SLOPE WHY) because the family couldn't afford central heat because the father had lost his job as a result of the sluggish economy that the GOP has blamed solely and squarely on Barack Obama."\

Pretty obvious to see that if it had been allowed to go down like that in the day, the expansion from fifteen to thirty minutes would have been woefully insufficient.

Kind of like the way your local highway departments uproot your lives for six to eight months at a time putting in just one new lane when they ought to just go ahead and put in two or three.

Today, of course, there's a lot more going on than just four channels.

And that means a whole lot more space to be filled with stuff.

The aforementioned embarrassment of riches.

Hold the riches.

Which brings us back, in this episode anyway, to the wit and wisdom of Meghan McCain.

And not to pick on Meghan in particular, it's just that she's front and center today because of her comments from yesterday.

Tomorrow, two things will happen.

The sun will come out.

Bet your bottom dollar.

And there will be somebody else on some "news channel" somewhere offering up what poses as insightful, meaningful, political commentary.

Because there are way more than four channels now.

And that means a whole lot of space to be filled with stuff.

The problem with all of that, though, is that space might abhor a vacuum, but, sadly, the vacuum is neither discerning nor discriminating when it comes to what it allows itself to be filled with.

Which means that in addition to, or more aptly these days, instead of ,the crisp, tasty, fully baked professionally prepared offering of who, what, when, where and why (the good why, not the slippery slope why) of professional journalism of the 1950's and 1960's, what gets served up is the overcooked, underdone, often tasteless cacophonic casserole of opinion, agenda and bias with a sprinkle of attempted bon mots and always, always topped off with a libelous layer of bullshit.

Given all of that, it's pretty obvious, even to those untrained in the skill of programming, that opportunity is being lost by airing this pseudo-news nonsense on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, Fox Business, etc.

And it should be running twenty four/seven, three sixty five on the channel where it belongs.

The Food Network.

Where even the hard to swallow pudding supposedly filled with proof that talking heads like Meghan McCain dish up doesn't seem so woefully out of place.

And now, the news.....

Bon appetit.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

"...A Whole New Meaning To The Term 'March Madness'..."

Not much of a winter to be seen thus far here in the Chesapeake Bay area.

Temperatures, and general weather, for that matter, actually balmy on more days than usual.

Then again, it is only mid-January.

And while the calendar informs that the first "day of winter" this season was December 21st, February tends to be the month we really start building a snowman in the meadow and pretending that he is Parson Brown.

And we never, ever, underestimate March.

Even though the calendar informs that March 20 is the first day of spring.

So, chances are pretty good that what's going to hit us will be a lot more apparent come March.

Wait and see.


Not much of a slow down of the Trump train here in the Chesapeake Bay area.

Support for, even excitement about, the possibility of this guy actually going all the way even, as these things tend to go, even more frenzied than usual.

Then again, it is only mid-January.

And the calendar informs that February is the month we really start to see actual people walking into actual voting booths and pushing actual buttons.

And, when it comes to shaking out the loose leaves on the candidate tree, not to mention, sharpening the focus on who really has the big Mo, we never, ever, underestimate March.

Super Tuesday and all that.

And along with all the typical, to be expected shots and slanders taken at the Donald, social media seems to be getting hotter and heavier with the heavier of the attack artilleries.

Among the sizable shells:

  • The oldie, but goodie, smack-down of the Trump sons for their politically inconvenient habit of shooting large, but essentially defenseless, animals and justifying said slaughter by tagging it "sport"

Animal rights activists are revolted by a series of trophy photos that have emerged showing Eric and Donald Trump Jr. posing with a dead elephant, kudu, civet cat and waterbuck while on a big game safari in Zimbabwe last year. In one photo, Donald Jr. proudly holds a dead elephant tail in one hand and a knife in the other. In another, the brothers are seen standing beside a 12'8" crocodile hanging from a noose off a tree.

  •  The seemingly unfortunate, but bet the farm inevitable, re-focus (pun unintended but entertaining) on modeling photos taken of the Du Jour Mrs. Trump, putting her in the unique historical position of being the first woman ever seriously considered a possible future First Lady who has, intentionally, posed nude.  

One naturally assumes that torpedoes of this size would do noticeable, if not considerable, damage to Trump's battleship.

After all, even the America of 2016 draws a line at some point when it comes to the salaciousness, sensationalism and/or scandalizing that we oh so sardonically refer to as the Presidential election process.

But, along with March, apparently, there is something else, pretty major, that we just might be in danger of underestimating this time around.

Something that Trump has grabbed hold of and parlayed into a success story that, just, say, a year ago, would have resulted in an guaranteed, instant rejection from any publisher of stories.

A new voting bloc.

In the proud tradition of "New Dealers", "New Frontiersmen" and, of course, "the silent majority", a loud and powerful, and seemingly growing, political voice being heard from L.A to N.Y, from north of the picket wire to south of the border, from sea to shining sea.

The Trump Stumpers.

As in, as dumb as.

Those who not only buy, but reverently believe, the idea that all it will take to "turn this country around" is blunt talk.

Candid commentary.

Unfiltered utterances.

And the "never fails to get an amen" one size fits all rationalization:

"....saying out loud what people are thinking...."

A concept of leadership almost solely consisting of a promise to box up and ship back those who don't qualify for member and/or citizenship and a pledge to deal with enemies foreign by simply, and bluntly, "bombing the shit out of them."

Box box.

Boom boom

Problem(s) solved.


Made great again.




And never mind the endless list of "dis"qualifications justifiably associated with this man who wants the keys to the ship of state, the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania and, one assumes, in proxy if not practice, the keys to the kingdom.

Without even bothering to include the aforementioned big game "hunting" offspring and/or big breasted "modeling" spouse of the week that come included in the premium package.

In fact, never mind the whole silly, stupid concept that this particular comedy of a campaign will actually last much longer.

Surely, cooler heads will prevail.

Wiser minds will make wiser decisions.

There's still plenty of time for this farcical, but admittedly exciting, production to finish out its very successful run on the stage of American electoral entertainment.

After all, it's only mid-January.

And the calendar informs that February is the month we really start to see actual people walking into actual voting booths and pushing actual buttons.

And, when it comes to shaking out the loose leaves on the candidate tree, not to mention, sharpening the focus on who really has the big Mo, we never, ever, underestimate March.

Not to mention, or remind, as it were, of the danger in underestimating something new this time around.

The actual number of Trump Stumpers.

Not much of a winter to be seen thus far here in the Chesapeake Bay area.

But, February tends to be the month we really start building a snowman in the meadow and pretending that he is Parson Brown.

March 20 is the first day of spring.

March 1st, meanwhile, is Super Tuesday.

So, chances are pretty good that, when it comes to both winter...and winners...what's going to hit us will be a lot more apparent come March.

Wait and see.

Friday, January 15, 2016

"...This Election Is Already A Real Barnumburner..."

Do you get the feeling that something is missing from the presidential campaign this time around?

You're not alone.

The "what" in "what's missing" in a few minutes.

Latest Republican debate last night.

The campaign-long truce between Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz ended last night (January 14th) as the gloves came off between them on the Republican debate stage in North Charleston, South Carolina, where seven candidates faced off in the Fox Business Network-hosted event. The two sparred over Trump's questions about Cruz's eligibility to be president because of his birth in Canada, and over Cruz's questioning of Trump's conservative credentials by suggesting he has, quote, "New York values." Cruz said Trump is bringing up questions about his presidential eligibility because he's catching up to Trump in the polls, while Trump said he's just concerned because Democrats will sue over the issue. And when Cruz joked about Trump's "New York values," Trump responded emotionally by talking about how New Yorkers responded after the 9/11 attacks. They weren't the only ones battling, as Florida Senator Marco Rubio also exchanged attacks with Cruz and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. And they and the other candidates -- Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and Ohio Governor John Kasich -- all warned about allowing a Democrat to succeed President Obama, who also came in for some harsh attacks along with Hillary Clinton.

I suppose, in the category of small favors, we should be grateful that Cruz attempted the smackdown on the Donald by saying New York "values" as opposed to New York "state of mind" or we'd be facing days ahead full of memes and/or mashups co-starring, and copyright violating, the music and lyrics of Billy Joel.

That said, as usual, whatever other paths the various candidates chose to try and get to their respective points, the high road was left fairly neat and tidy what with its lack of use.

Meanwhile... at the kid's table debate...

Carly Fiorina was demoted to the "undercard" Republican debate last night (January 14th) because she didn't poll high enough to qualify for the main stage. But she still wanted to make an impression, so she came out swinging against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in her opening statement with a remark that some believe may have gone too far. Fiorina stated: "Unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband." During an appearance on MSNBC after the debate, Fiorina refused to directly answer when Chris Matthews asked her repeatedly if she believes that the Clintons have a real marriage, answering each time: "They have been married for a long time."

No one over the age of, say, twenty, who has ever paid any attention at all to political campaigns in this country is unaccustomed to low blows and cheap shots being considered standard operating procedure.

Sure, it's arguably unfortunate that these wannabe office holders can't neener neener each other on a higher moral playground, but, once again, it's practically un-American to take the high road to get to high office.

In this country, it inevitably turns out that you can't get there from there.

That said, just as it is with much of what's offered us on television and in films these days, the caliber and quality of the assorted low blows and cheap shots seems to be on the wane.

I love a good zinger as much as the next guy.

Not a big fan of the ba-dum-bump.

Carly's shade throw is light on rhetoric and large on rimshot.

Meanwhile...from the "Carly practically comes off like Eleanor Roosevelt compared to" category...

A singing group of young girls called the USA Freedom Kids performed before the start of a Donald Trump rally in Pensacola, Florida, on Wednesday evening (January 13th), singing a song in honor of the presidential frontrunner along with the National Anthem. The original song, written by the father of one of the girls who manages the group, is called "The President Donald Trump Song," and has lines like: "Cowardice, are you serious? Apologies for freedom, I can't handle this! When freedom rings, answer the call!" and "President Donald Trump knows how to make America great. Deal from strength or get crushed every time." The girls performed it in red, white and blue dressed before some 15,000 people who turned out to see Trump.

First, as a songwriter of some accomplishment, a commercial composer and lyricist of some accomplishment and an unapologetic satirist and humorist, I've got no problem at all with a good humorous satire. Especially in the atmosphere of a red blooded, knock down, drag out, bitch slappin' campaign for the highest office in the land.

The key phrase there, of course, being "good humorous satire".

This one?

Not so much.

And given the quality control involved in this little production, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and offer that the "father/manager/composer" probably didn't do any due diligence whatsoever to deliver props to a certain Mr. George M. Cohan.

Look him up on the Google or the Wiki, kids.

And, then, if you're a copyright attorney, feel free to kick me whatever finder's fee you think fair for the referral.


As the sun sets and the dust settles on yet another week of the process employed in choosing our leaders that continues to fill other nations with envy and  late night comedy writers with gratitude, it's as clear as it have ever been in our long, proud history that this particular campaign deserves so much more than to be referred to as, simply, a campaign.

And is, in fact, worthy of a much more colorful, and spot on appropriate, designation.

It's a circus, baby.

Again, though, there is that nagging sense that something is missing.

You feel it, too?



Here's what's missing.

The peanuts.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

"..Maybe The Workaround Is To Yell Out "Ooooh! That Pass Was A 'CRUZ' Missile...."

Today's " Increase Your Word Power"...


noun: dichotomy; plural noun: dichotomies

a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.

 Our example begins here.

 WISCONSIN BANS CERTAIN HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS CHEERS: If you're planning to attend a high school sports game in Wisconsin you'll want to be on your best behavior. In a standard that is apparently not new, but is now being more strongly enforced, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) is now banning cheers like, "Air ball!", "Fundamentals!" and "Season's over!" In a statement emailed in December, the WIAA stated, "...any action directed at opposing teams or their spectators with intent to taunt, disrespect, distract or entice an unsporting behavior in a response is not acceptable sportsmanship." The changes are not going over well with students. Twitter user @JayBilas tweeted, "WIAA acceptable chant to officials: 'Dear Sirs: We beg to differ, but thank you for your service to our game.'" What do you think? Do the new rules go too far or are they acceptable?


The presidential campaign, or what passes for it this time around, is chock-a-block full of trash talk, vicious smear talk, slander, libel and words we never heard in the Bible, transcending cheap shots and, arguably, lowering the bar to a level that makes the Mariana Trench look like as sidewalk puddle on a rainy afternoon.

Lots of talk on the radio show about the tsunami of political correctness washing over the nation. From concern about offending ethnic groups to concern about offending sexual groups to concern about offending just about anyone or anything that it is theoretically possible to offend, a country filled with people traditionally inclined to take a straight up stand on issues is now mastering the art of bending over backwards in an effort to prevent offending any and/or all of the aforementioned potential offendees.

With a couple of notable exceptions.

Apparently, it's fair game and acceptable play to degrade, denigrate and/or diminish one's political opponent(s).

And it's now standard operating procedure to insult and offend those amongst us who believe that a campaign for the Presidency of the United States should take place on a higher than average moral high ground.


So, young people ramped up and cheering for their respective favorite high school sports team need to refrain from any specific, or even hint of, taunt.

And all the gloves, and bets, are off when it comes to showing the world the level of statesmanship is involved when it comes to choosing a leader of the free world.


Hard to refute that.

Especially given that, now, the area of our lives that offers us the very least in political correctness is...

...wait for it...


There's another word that pretty much nails it, though.

The word is dichotomy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"...State Of The Union? You've Got Another Think Comin...."

Time to think a little.

And talk a little about what we think.

Final Obama State of the Union address last night.

And it really didn't, doesn't and, ultimately, won't matter.

But not for the reason you might think.

It's actually about what you do think.

Thinking a little explanation might be helpful.

Couple of old sayings.

Politics is perception.

Perception is reality.

And your perception of last night's address will depend entirely on how you feel/felt about Barack Obama in the first place and/or where you go to read about last night's address and/or who you listen to when it comes to "analysis" of last night's address.

And nothing else anyone writes or says will make a dent on your psyche.

Because how you felt about the guy before he even walked into the House chamber last night was your already formed perception of him as a man and as a President.

And that perception is your reality.


Or not.


Or not.

It is, as the more basic amongst us often offer, what it is.

More often than not, we like to think of ourselves as reasonable people, people willing to listen to all points of view and make decisions based on a fair and reasoned assessment of those points of view.

Three words come to mind here.



And ha.

Whatever else we think, or don't think, in this life, it's pretty obvious, when truth be forced to the surface for air, that we think pretty much of ourselves.

Because that's not at all how the whole "think" thing works.

We really aren't all that reasonable, we really aren't willing to listen to all points of view and we rarely make decisions based on "fair and reasoned" assessment.

We like what, and who, we like.

And we hate what, and who, we hate.

And there's, more often than not, very little thinking involved.

You see, the thing is that we're not really all that bright.

At least when it comes to giving issues of any depth any real deep thought.

That's what we have philosophers for.

And poets.

And Bill O'Reilly.

And there's a whole library worth of pages to read, and volumes yet to be written, about the why of that little human quirk.

But history, as well as contemporary living, offers empirical, unimpeachable evidence that we are simply simple creatures when it comes to what we think.

About things.

And people.

And Presidents.

And what they have to say to us at any given moment registers on us in a pretty basic way.

We agree. And we like.

We disagree. And we don't like.

It ain't rocket science.

I mean, think about it for a second.

If deep thought about deep issues were a standard operating procedure in the populace would either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton be currently perceived as the best and the brightest of what's available to us to replace Barack Obama come November?

And let's don't even waste any time contemplating the sorry cast of characters that make up the runners up.

Listen to any fifty of the self professed "political analysts" in this country and, thank you very much, I'll revert back to my personal favorite.

Peggy Lee.

Is that all there is?


I think I've wandered off the point a bit.

Let me illustrate it.

A friend of mine works in broadcasting. He came to broadcasting late in life after a successful and honorable career as a postal employee. He is well known in the listening area, having lived there all his life and, as mentioned, worked for three decades for the postal service.

Within the primary area of local radio station listenership, he, very close to literally, knows everyone.

And every one knows him.

Admittedly, and he himself would be the first to tell you, he is not a polished, broadcast school trained veteran of forty years behind a microphone. And he would be a very awkward fish out of water were he to try and manage an on air gig in a medium to large sized radio market.

But this particular radio market is the textbook definition of small town and his natural warmth, combined with a diligence at getting better with his on air presentation, combined with the affection that the community feels for him pretty much guarantee that he would be an asset were he to appear daily, in some capacity, on the air in this particular market.

He is assigned very little in the way of air time.

And in the course of conversations we've had, I offered him an unfortunate, but undeniable, simple explanation as to why his abilities aren't more appreciated and, even more, more utilized.

Because he is not perceived by those who make those kinds of decisions as a charming, home town broadcaster who spent three decades working for the postal service.

He is perceived by those who make those kinds of decisions as a retired mailman.

Who they put on the air every now and then to placate him and keep him from quitting the part time job that mostly entails errand boy-ing and grunt work.

As you might imagine, it's frustrating for a guy who really has a lot to offer and is more than willing to offer it.

And it's, at the very rock bottom least, a lost opportunity for a radio station that works to generate sales revenue by way of trumpeting their "local" presentation in a broadcast world filled with faceless, cookie cutter syndicated programming.

But, you see, it doesn't matter what he is.

It only matters what people think he is.

That's why what Barack Obama had to say last night didn't, doesn't and, ultimately, won't matter.

Because who he is or what he aspires to be or what he does or what he aspires to do doesn't matter.

All that matters is what people think.

It's probably frustrating for a guy who has a lot to offer.

And, at the very rock bottom least, it's a lost opportunity.

If you like Obama, you think likewise.

If you don't like him.... think not.

Either way, it's worth some thought.

Don't you think?


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"...Ground Control to Major Don...."

One might assume any discussion, even mention, of David Bowie would be out of place in a posting on a politically oriented blog site.

One would be mistaken.

Watch how I do this.

Courtesy of a very old fashioned and long lived comedy technique.

Donald Trump....and David Bowie.

One eccentric; an often misunderstood celebrity whose contributions to the culture provoked, at the very least, considerable conversation, even disagreement and, at worst, passionate opinions on both sides of the love/hate line; a one of a kind artist whose presentation incited as much as inspired; a cultural phenomenon whose popularity mystified many, angered some, but inexplicably rallied hundreds of thousands; a unique individual, some say freak, some even say alien, whose name will be remembered and both revered and reviled long after the names and/or contributions of his generational peers have faded into dust.

Or, perhaps, stardust.

Even stardust of the ziggy variety.


And the other man?

David Bowie.

See how I did that?



Thank you, David.

May God's love be with you.