Sunday, February 28, 2016

"....It May Turn Out That's Actually Why They Call It The Bully Pulpit..."

The Republican campaign to choose a nominee for the office of President of the United States is, ostensibly, a referendum on the issues of our time and which of the announced candidates is best suited and/or qualified to address those issues.

Actually, not so much.

It's actually a non-census year head count of the vision and/or hearing impaired.

Suzanne Barakat, the sister of a Muslim student killed alongside his wife and sister-in-law last year in an attack in North Carolina, challenged Donald J. Trump to meet with her after a speech in which he spoke approvingly of killing Islamic terrorists with bullets dipped in the blood of pigs.

Dr. Barakat, 28, a physician in San Francisco, said the comments and other anti-Muslim rhetoric from Mr. Trump, including a proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country, have contributed to an atmosphere of intolerance that she fears could have deadly consequences.

“It allows for the Average Joe to see Muslims the way Craig Hicks saw my brother and his wife of six weeks and her sister,” she said, referring to the man who killed her relatives last February. “As ‘The Other,’ as subhuman, because of their faith.”

Mr. Trump has not responded to Dr. Barakat’s invitation for a face-to-face meeting, she said. It was delivered on Saturday via Twitter, a platform the Republican presidential candidate has frequently used to telegraph his views and to attack people, places and things that he dislikes.

“Trump speaks as if he is the authority on American Muslims,” said Dr. Barakat. “Well, if you mean it then call me up and meet with me and let’s have a chat.”

Mr. Trump made his remarks about blood-dipped bullets at a rally on Friday in South Carolina, before winning the state’s Republican primary the next day.

They came during a speech in which he repeated a questionable story told about Gen. John J. Pershing, an American Army leader of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. General Pershing, Mr. Trump said, used bullets dipped in pigs’ blood to summarily execute dozens of Muslim prisoners in the Philippines, shortly after the Spanish-American War.

The story, which has circulated online for years, has been dismissed as unsupported by historical documentation or evidence by websites that fact-check Internet rumors. Mr. Trump used it to illustrate his call to push back with brutal force against both Islamic terrorism and political correctness.

“This is something you can read in the history books,” Mr. Trump told his supporters, adding, “Not a lot of history books, because they don’t like teaching it.”

According to Mr. Trump’s telling, Gen. Pershing brought an end to terrorism after he captured 50 terrorists and executed 49 of them with blood-soaked bullets. The general told the sole survivor, “ ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened,’ ” Mr. Trump said.

Gen. Pershing used pigs’ blood, Mr. Trump said, because Muslims have “a whole thing with swine and animals and pigs, and you know the story — they don’t like them.”

The moral, Mr. Trump said, is, “We better start getting tough, and we better start getting vigilant and using our heads, or we’re not going to have a country, folks.”

Muslim-American groups reacted with horror to the remarks. Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement that Mr. Trump had “crossed the line from spreading hatred to inciting violence” in ways that placed Muslim-Americans “at risk from rogue vigilantes.”

A little more than a year ago, Dr. Barakat’s brother Deah, 23, was shot and killed at his home in Chapel Hill, N.C., alongside his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19. A neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, turned himself in to police later that day.

Mr. Hicks was charged with three counts of murder, and federal authorities are investigating whether the killings constituted a hate crime. Mr. Hicks’ wife has said she believes he killed them over a dispute about parking.

In the year since their deaths Dr. Barakat has spoken out repeatedly about the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment and met with President Obama at a round table for Muslim-Americans.

Dr. Barakat said Mr. Trump’s remarks, delivered not long after the one-year anniversary of the killings in Chapel Hill, were “a moment when I just said, ‘enough is enough.’”

Dr. Suzanne Barakat's brother was killed in the Chapel Hill shooting last year. She wants Donald Trump to stop inciting against Muslims.
Posted by AJ+ on Friday, February 26, 2016

Facebook friend and acclaimed author Alanna Nash posted succinctly, yesterday.....

"...Donald Trump...why does he have to be so nasty, insulting everyone? Such a BULLY!..."

Obviously, Alanna's question is rhetorical.

Never one to miss the opportunity to offer real time answers to rhetorical questions, though, let me offer this:

We find ourselves, in the year of our Lord (or, perhaps, more appropriately, the year of oh my God!) 2016, a culture increasingly bereft of what the more romantic among us probably still refer to as "old fashioned values".

Tact, graciousness, modesty, deference, politeness, even civility, while not (yet) completely extinct, are certainly in a short supply that make pre-snowstorm bread shelves in the grocery store look like the grand opening of a new Sunbeam outlet.

Meanwhile, even a master sales associate would have a tough row to hoe in attempting to sell artistic and/or creative contributions to mankind as high brow. From "sitcoms" that can't manage more than three or four air minutes at a time without the need for one lame T&A and/or scatological and/or sexually provocative "punchline" or another to a popular music "scene" that has, in just a generation or two ,devolved from "you are so beautiful / to me" to "you a stupid hoe / you a stupid stupid hoe", there's no immediate danger that America is going to overdose on class and style.

By the way, being neither a prude, nor victim of old fart fogey-ism, I have no problem with cutting edge, I'm just a follower of the paraphrased Rick Blaine from the classic film "Casablanca"...

..."I don't mind a boob joke or an explicit song...I just object to a cut rate one..."

Now, add to the mix the time tested and successful methodology of telling people what they want to hear and gaining not only their admiration but, too often, their blind allegiance and you've got a formula that, at least in this here aforementioned year of OMG, inevitably cooks up and tastes nasty.

And insulting.

If nothing new.

Let alone the past, our contemporary history is chock-a-block full of masters of the art of mass manipulation.

Huey P. Long.

Adolf Hitler.

Jim Jones.

David Koresh.

Kris Jenner.

Legendary songstress Carole King wrote the penultimate anthem for those always prepared to fall in line and go where told to go...

"...where you lead / I will follow...."

BTW, I would have said "ultimate" there, but you and I both know that Kanye would waste a lot of our time arguing that description ad nauseum.

Donald Trump is simply the latest entry on the list.

And his "talent", like that of his peers on the rogue roster, is his mastery of the art.

The art of making the sale.

And closing the deal.

His own best selling, much heralded by his followers, insightful, innovative and, wouldn't you just know it, ghostwritten best seller "The Art Of The Deal" is all the proof any good prosecutor would need to prove to a jury that this guy is galaxy class used car salesman.

As if his being able to get within a hop, skip and a Super Tuesday of actually becoming a major party nominee for President wasn't sufficient evidence of his sales savvy.

Which brings us back to Alanna Nash's lyrical lament.

"...Donald Trump...why does he have to be so nasty, insulting everyone? Such a BULLY!..."

And, submitted for your (her) approval, my take on this Twilight Zone of a candidacy.

First, Alanna did a fine job of answering her own question.

He's nasty and insulting because he's a bully.

Couple of reasons that he's a bully.

One I can prove with empirical evidence.

That one being that he has built a billion dollar empire by bullying his way to getting what he wants.

Ergo, being a bully works for him.

And if ain't broke, and all that.

The other reason?

I suspect too loved by mommy, not loved enough by daddy and/or penile dimension issues might be at play somewhere in the psychic mix, but I have no empirical evidence to back that up.

Nor would I want to go after said evidence.

The other shoe, though, the "nasty and insulting" thing, is, for Trump and his ambitions, what the packagers of breakfast cereal and/or AS SEEN ON TV stuff brand as "value added" or "SPECIAL BONUS"

Like a talented quarterback who has the ability to both go with the standard playbook while being able to read the immediate lay of the land and call audibles accordingly, Trump has sensed, from the outset, that nasty and insulting would resonate with a lot of people in this nation at this time because nasty...and insulting...and low brow...and classless...and Kanye....and Kris, Khloe, Kourtney...and Seth McFarlane...and panicky, even hysterical, paranoiac fear of more airliners flying into more skyscrapers ...are pretty prominent colors on the American canvas these days.

And making the sale and closing the deal has absolutely nothing to do with who has the best price or the best value or even the best quality.

Or even any quality at all.

It has to do entirely with who does the most masterful job of playing to the crowd.

Or, more correctly, who plays well enough to draw the biggest crowd.

Even if the salesman is a racist, misogynist, blunt tool of a demagogue who any one with a reasonable IQ, fairly good eyesight and even average hearing could recognize and repudiate as a racist, misogynist, blunt tool of a demagogue.

In a country, and culture, though, that is increasingly bereft of tact, graciousness, modesty, deference, politeness, even civility, the big question mark is not so much why Trump behaves the way he does as it is just how many people in America can't see and hear this guy for what, and who, he really is.

Put in blunt Trump-speak...just how many deaf, dumb and blind Americans of voting age are currently residing in the United States?

Come July in Cleveland or, God forbid, come November all across the country....we're going to find out the exact numbers.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"....Things I Thought Of While Thinking Up Things To Talk About...."

Random thoughts, ponders and wonders for the weekend....

...Melissa Harris-Perry is refusing to do her MSNBC show today (Sat, 27) because, she says, the network has "silenced" her by repeatedly preempting the program in recent weeks due to, according to MSNBC, "the unforeseen needs of the 2016 Presidential campaign"......not a big fan of Harris-Perry,
but it occurs that maybe the best way for her to deal with her belief in this injustice is to refrain from refusing to do the show that has been scheduled today for the first time in weeks due to its being preempted so much....the game of f*** me?, no, f*** YOU is really only winnable if you've got some sizable clout....whatever clout Harris-Perry has, it has never appeared to be particularly sizable...

...Mexico's former president, Vincente Fox, has thrown shade, as the youngsters put it, on the Donald for the King of CombOver's continued pledge to "build a wall and have the Mexicans pay for it"....Fox's public response was a Trumpishly blunt, "..ain't gonna pay for no f***in' wall..."....and, now, the former prez has publicly compared the Donald to the Adolf, saying "...he's going to take that nation (U.S.) back to the old days of conflict, war and everything. I mean, he reminds me of Hitler. That's the way he started speaking,..."
....despite Trump's continued success on the primary trail, there are a lot of people (present company included) who still believe that the majority of Americans necessary to put a stop to Trump-a-palooza will rise up and speak out, one way or another, before it goes so far as to be too far....of course, you'd think that the majority of Germans necessary to put a stop to the Adolf-a-thon would have acted, too, given that, in 1930, there were 67 million of them......

...Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, the two former Michigan state representatives who were caught with their hands in each others' respective cookie jars, were charged yesterday with felony misconduct in office (although, there's not a single voter in the whole country I've ever met who wouldn't wonder out loud how we're supposed to know the difference between your everyday garden variety misconduct in office and felony misconduct in office).....came across a video of Gamrat's tearful public apology from last year and wonder why folks who get busted being bad boys and girls always insist on adding insult (to our intelligence) to injury with lines in their "mea culpas" like "...this behavior is not a part of who I am or what I stand for...."....uh, duh, you did it.....and if you hadn't got caught, chances are pretty good you wouldn't have just showed up at CNN or Fox one day to ask for air time to "confess something", so, it's not unfair to say that, uh, yeah, that behavior IS part of who you are and what you stand's a time, how about just "...I'm human, I'm flawed, I failed and I'm sorry..."
....the rest of us flawed, failed humans are incapable of resisting feeling empathy and/or even support for someone when they're down.....the trick, though, is to just admit the down and leave out the part about "but, usually, I stand up" just makes you look disingenuous and makes us feel like you think that we're stupid....

..speaking of stupid, Raven-Symone', the once upon a time child star who was adorable as a 4 year old on "The Cosby Show", not entirely obnoxious as a teenager on the Disney Channel kids show, "That's So Raven" and, as seems to eventually happen to all the borderline "celebrities" who, with the end of The Hollywood Squares, have no other place to go, end up co-hosting "The View" debuted her new weight loss program this week, the Raven Symone' Put Your Foot In Your Mouth Instead Of Carbs Diet....she remarked for God, country and audience alike that she would move to Canada "...if any Republican gets nominated for President..." you might imagine, social media exploded with hoots, hollers and catcalls fired off in the direction of the African American Airhead, not so much for her obvious political preference as for her obvious lack of awareness as to what constitutes the difference between being "nominated" and being "elected".....
in fairness, at least a little slack should be cut if only because we've all seen enough late night talk show segments where the host goes out on the street and asks young people about the issues of the day to justify being surprised by Raven's malfunctioning medulla....we were especially entertained, and simultaneously appalled, by the one showing a dozen or so college kids on a particular campus unable to correctly answer the question "who won the Civil War?" but who, to a student, correctly answered the question "where would you find Snooki?..."...and while it might sound overly gloomy and doomy to suggest that we've been raising generations of idiots for a while now, the evidence does seem to support the suggestion that we've been raising generations of idiots for a while search of an upside, though, let's try this...for those who are offended, even outraged, by this business of a lack of color in the Academy Awards, here's some good news for you: the traditional, stererotype of the white, blond, Barbie space cadet now comes in a new shade: Raven Symone'.....

meanwhile, speaking of shades (or more stupid, as you prefer), MAC Cosmetics announces that they have signed a deal with Caitlyn Jenner for the mostly her, still a little him to promote a signature line of makeups starting with a soon to be released lipstick called "Finally Free".....
since I already used the Michael Jackson lyric line "I don't know whether / to laugh or cry" in another essay earlier this week, I'll take a pass on using it here, regardless of how exquisitely appropriate it is....and getting past any cheap shot or prurient punchlines like "...ladies using the new Caitlyn Jenner lipstick, Finally Free, are struggling with the dilemma of what to do should some of it get on their teeth...spit...or swallow...", let's just say this and let it go at that: please, God, make it stop....amen...

TODAY'S Ba DUM Bump...Yoko has been hospitalized for "extreme flu like symptoms"......she's 83 now so better safe than sorry....
reports from the hospital staff say that she is, despite opinions to the contrary, a very funny least we assume that she is after hearing one of a group of four young doctors was overhead saying "....that Yoko....she breaks us up....."

AND, not for nothin'......this weekend's "are you effin kiddin' me is a two for the price of one....rumors are flying that Katy Perry is actually the grown up JonBenet Ramsey....
.and that Ted Cruz is actually the Zodiac Killer...
the good news is that, of course, Katy Perry is actually Katy Perry....the bad news, of course, is that Ted Cruz is actually Ted Cruz...........

enjoy your weekend

Friday, February 26, 2016

"...Nothing Up My Sleeve...Well, There's That Made In China Label...But Other Than That..."

The fundamental skill required in magic is misdirection.

The trained, skilled, talented illusionist spends the majority of their time in front of you doing whatever is necessary to insure that you see what they want to you to see so that you won't be paying any attention to what they don't want you to see.

When done well, it is mesmerizing, even, sometimes, astounding.

Even, at least theoretically, unbelievable.

At the heart of it, though, it ain't brain surgery.

It's just misdirection.

Cleverly, as always, illustrated by Francesca Fiorentini at AJ+

There's no disputing Donald's mastery of the art.

And we ain't talkin' art of the deal, baby.

We're talking art of misdirection.

Getting eyes, ears (and applicable brain tissue) focused, using colorful images of the Stars and Stripes waving, the Bill of Rights flapping, all underscored with the implied, if not outright blaring, sound of a couple of hundred fife and drum corps, on what "China" has taken (or, in the more dramatic moments, "stolen") from America.

In order to divert attention from the simple truth that China hasn't taken a thing from America that America, at least in the form of savvy, take no prisoners, American CEO's hasn't willingly handed over.

To use one of Francesca's examples, when Apple moved its industry (read: jobs for John and Jane American) to Asia so that they could manufacture IPhones for eight bucks as opposed to seventy three bucks, it wasn't a matter of China saying "hey, little girl, here's some candy, get in the car."

It was simply a matter of China putting out the candy dish.

The choice as to whether to walk past it or grab it by the handfuls was left entirely up to...wait for it....American CEO's.

Corporate executive members of the United States 1% Club whose sympathies and/or empathies about Americans losing the jobs they needed to bring home the bacon were, are and ever, one can assume, ever shall be "let em' eat cake."

Corporate hardball players like the guys who own Apple.  AT&T.  Coca Cola. Ikea.

Trump Tower.

Seen in that light, it's not hard to understand why the current front runner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States is nicknamed "the Donald".

That nickname, actually, is simply short for the real sobriquet.

The Amazing Donaldo.

Master illusionist. Daring and daunting diversionist.

A lot of people in this nation are enchanted, enthralled, mesmerized and, even, sometimes, astounded at this guy and his presentation.

And lot of those people are calling his unlikely but undeniable rise to headliner status a marvel, a miracle....

Some even call it magic.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

"...Freedom Of The Press Now Obviously Includes The Freedom To Ignore It..."

Three things contemporary culture has pretty much made obsolete.


8-track tapes.

Stand by for number three.

The editorial boards of the Washington Post and the Boston Globe both penned condemnations of Donald Trump this week, urging the Republican Party to reject him. 

On Tuesday, the Boston Globe published a scathing editorial titled "Massachusetts voters must stop Donald Trump." The authors wrote that "stopping Donald Trump is imperative -- and not just for his fellow Republicans."

And on Thursday, after Trump's resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses, the editors of the Washington Post followed suit. Under the headline "GOP leaders, you must do everything in your power to stop Trump," the paper's editors exhorted the Republican Party to repudiate the man who is increasingly likely to be their nominee in November. 

"GOP leaders, you must do everything in your power to stop Trump," the editors warned, cautioning party leadership against warming to Trump for the chance at the White House.

"History will not look kindly on GOP leaders who fail to do everything in their power to prevent a bullying demagogue from becoming their standard-bearer," they wrote. "The unthinkable is starting to look like the inevitable." 

In the Globe editorial, the authors called on unenrolled voters, who are able to participate the Republican primary, to back Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whom the Globe has endorsed. They also criticized Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for being "right wing," and knocked Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for a lack of experience.

The left-leaning editorial board noted that since the Bay State awards delegates proportionally, not winner-take-all, a vote for a non-Trump candidate won't be wasted.

The Globe editors also cautioned Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters and officials against strategically rooting for Trump with the assumption he would be easily defeated in a general election, warning, "That's playing with fire. Just remember how few pundits believed Trump would ever make it this far."

"The best way to stop Trump is to stop Trump now," they wrote. "But as the race turns to Massachusetts, the answer to John F. Kennedy's question -- 'ask what you can do for your country' -- has rarely been clearer: unenrolled voters should pull a Republican ballot and vote for John Kasich because it's a vote against Donald Trump."

Massachusetts voters will weigh in March 1, as one of the "Super Tuesday" primary states. 

Throughout modern history, the support and/or endorsement of major newspapers has been, to presidential candidates,  the next best (or even better) thing to (than) a massive injection of good old fashioned dollar donation.

Faithful readers of this Daily or that Gazette or this Herald Tribune relied a lot on the wisdom, be it profound or simply perceived, of these front porch parchments when it came to determining who they were going to vote for come election day. After all, newspapers were the primary (sometimes, even, sole) means available to the average Joe or Jane Citizen of acquiring information, knowledge, facts about who was running and where they stood. Throw in a splash of the aforementioned insightful or imagined wisdom and advice offered up each day on the op/ed pages and thousands, actually, probably, millions of minds were swayed one way or the other leading up to the closing of the curtains and the burgeoning of the ballots.

In a world bereft of the opportunity to judge the merits of a man (or woman) up close and personal, the newspapers of the nation landed on front lawns from sea to shining sea to assist American voters in making up their minds by, pretty much literally, making up their minds for them.

Enter cable television.

And the Internet.

And the world of twenty four/seven 365 day a year live news, live interviews, live debates, live town hall meetings, between the beginning of it and the end of it, presidential campaigns offering up, literally, hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities for Joe and Jane there to see for themselves what the candidates look like, hear for themselves what the candidates have to say, make up their own minds as to whether to take the hand reaching out for their vote or turn away and move on to the next office seeker standing in line for a chance to say hello, how are you, what's it gonna take to put you in that voting booth for me today?

And as happens when cultural evolution occurs, that which was once powerful begins to lose power, that which was critically necessary becomes useful, at best, but, ultimately, unnecessary.

There is a case to be made, of course, that there are still a sizable number of folks who want to know what the newspapers have to say. And even though the presentation has also evolved, with fewer people each day fluffing open the printed pages at the breakfast table or on the commuter train as opposed to clicking the mouse or swiping the pad to see what's what and who's who, the various publishers and editors and commentators are still right there publishing and editing and commentating.

There will always be people who passionately believe in freedom of choice in the form of being told what and who it is they should choose.

God bless em' and America.

But for a growing number of voters, come each new election cycle, the bygone days of deciding on a presidential candidate by waiting to read who the Washington Post or The Boston Globe or The Mayberry Daily News, for that matter, had decided upon are exactly that.

Bygone days.

And anyone dubious about the notion that newspapers simply don't carry the clout they used to when it comes to herding the masses in this ideological direction or that need only go back and re-read what the Post and Globe are up to these days.

Not so much a "here's who we've decided it's best for you to support" as "for the love of God, are you out of your freakin' minds supporting Donald Trump?"

Proudly waving a banner in advocacy of someone and panickingly waving people off someone aren't even remotely close to the same thing.

And millions of people storming past the news stands and their disregarded op/ed pages might not be a sign of the end of the Post or the Globe or the Tribune.

But it's absolutely a sign of the times.

Smart phones take studio quality photographs and videos.

IPods and MP3 provide studio quality music.

And you can't swing a dead cat, or a wireless mouse, without getting all the up close and personal you need when it comes to deciding who you want to see given the automatic garage door codes at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Three things contemporary culture has pretty much made obsolete.


8 track tapes.

Newspaper endorsements.

"...Baby, You Can Drive My Car...And I Do Solemnly Swear...."

Let's try it this way.

Tired of the same old day in, day out traffic hassles?

Tired of driving that A.U.T.O. that shows the very first signs of being a P.O.S. before you can even drive it from the dealer's lot to your own driveway?

Tired of low gas mileage, poor handling, constant breakdowns, undependability and a one in three chance that it will be recalled to replace or repair one useless and/or badly designed part or feature or another at least once in the time that you own it?

What if I told you there was a car that promises to solve all those problems? Cure all those ills? Take care of business and kick some serious ass on the road?

Unlike any car you've ever driven. Unlike any car you've ever seen.

A total and complete innovation in the history of automobiles.

There's just one little catch.

You see, fellow frustrated vehiculars, this alternative to the same old, same old only comes in one model.

And this model, as astounding and amazing as it seems to be on paper, has never actually, yet, been road tested.

At this time, the creator of this amazing vehicle promises that all those things that you hate about your current car or the car before that or the car before that will go away and although there are no exact specifications in any manual that you can read to reassure yourself that you are 100% no doubt, no fail guaranteed that it's bet your lives and/or future safe to put you and your family inside that sucker and head off down the highway, you should just put any logical, practical, reasonable and/or sensible concerns aside, have faith, get in, crank her up and put the pedal to the medal, baby.

Come to think of it, it's a lot like another currently trending innovation.

For those who are tired of poor handling, constant breakdowns, undependability and a one in three chance that there will be calls for replacement at least once in its lifetime.

And even though, it, too, promises that all those things you hate  will go away and although there are no exact specifications in any manual that you can read to reassure yourself that you are 100% no doubt, no fail guaranteed that it's bet your lives and/or future safe to put you and your family in those hands and head off down the highway, you should just put any logical, practical, reasonable and/or sensible concerns aside, have faith, get in, crank her up and put the pedal to the medal, baby.

There's just one little catch.

As astounding and amazing as it seems to be on paper, this model has never actually, yet, been road tested either.

And you see, fellow frustrated voters, this alternative to the same old, same old only comes in that one model.

Donald Trump.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"...Coming In At A Very Close Second Was R.E.M. Singing ...'It's The End Of The World / As We Know It'........"

Music has always been a large part of whatever I've done professionally at any given time through the years.

As a composer/lyricist/songwriter of some accomplishment, obviously.

As a commercial/advertising/jingle writer.

And, as a broadcaster, I've been that voice that brings you the latest news, weather, sports and, of course, the same twenty five or so latest hit songs in what radio consultants refer to as "heavy rotation" but most every day listeners I've ever spoken with refer to as "why do you guys only play the same twenty five songs over and over and over all the time?"

Even these days, as I have discreetly moved, as a result of my age and experience (been shoved, as a result of my age and experience) away from hosting music radio shows to hosting news/talk radio shows, I still include music as underscore, segue and/or satirical, while not necessarily subtle, slaps at whatever topic, or caller, needs slapping in the applicable moment.

Admittedly, sometimes it's simply for the purpose of enhancing the show and entertaining the audience.

Talk radio talk about, say, Kim Kardashian's latest Mensa level contribution to society is typical (read: yawn/snooze) talk radio fodder, so I flip the impish switch and add a little sparkle to the segment by segueing in with a few seconds of Sister Sledge singing "We Are Family" and segue out with a few seconds of Donny Osmond's once upon a time tune of teen angst "Go Away, Little Girl."

Yeah, I know. Describing it as I just did does make the idea sound cheesy. But, trust me, it comes off really well on the air.

As a result of all those years of musical contribution and conditioning, the brain being what the brain is, I tend to think in terms of music, songs, lyrics automatically.

Even, and, these days, especially, when it comes to politics.

To wit, this morning, as I clicked on to check out the final outcome of what I knew the final outcome would be in last night's Nevada GOP caucus tally, I was greeted with the banner headline trumpeting the obvious.

Or, in this case, of course, more appropriately, "trump"ing the obvious.

"IT'S TRUMP" the big block print at the top of the CNN website home page.

And my brain being what my brain is, I had one immediate, automatic thought.

Michael Jackson.

Stay tuned, cats and kitties, we'll be right back to explain the connect between the King of Pop and the Emperor of all he surveys.....but first..........

Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author and keynote speaker. In 2014, she was named outstanding news talk-radio host by the Gracie Awards. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author

(CNN)   It's over. Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.

He just added Nevada to the growing list of caucus primary wins, and while he needs more delegates to clinch it, who the heck can stop him now?

He is leading in national polls and in many state polls; he's succeeded in upending rivals such as Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson; and there's no one in sight who can stop him. The only question is when will the GOP embrace him? The answer: no time soon.

The establishment doesn't like him because it can't control him. Yet he's the only conservative candidate who stands a chance against Hillary Clinton. The polls may reflect Marco Rubio doing well as a conservative uniter, but no one will hammer Clinton's biggest weakness better than Trump, and that's Clinton fatigue.

Sorry, Bernie fans, the Democratic nomination is hers to lose.

Bush has limped away from the race in a manner that validates almost every insult Trump had flung at him (these are just from the past two weeks):

"Total disaster," "had to bring in mommy to take a slap at me," "zero communication skills," "weak candidate," "spent a fortune of special interest money on a Super Bowl ad," "desperate," "failed campaign," "Not a leader!" "by far the weakest of the lot," "Jeb failed as Jeb," "gave up and enlisted Mommy and his brother," "Weak," "no chance."

At least Jeb had the guts to face the truth and withdraw. John Kasich is a nice guy, and he gives good hugs, but under what scenario does he actually win? Carson is just as surprised as you and me that he's still on stage, which means he doesn't belong there.

Staying in the race is delusional at this point. It's time they pack their bags and turn their loss into a win on the speaking and publishing circuit.

That leaves Rubio and Cruz. Neither one of them can beat Clinton, or Trump for that matter. Yes, Cruz captured Iowa, but he is too scary for moderate Republicans and independents. And the GOP "establishment" can hope that with Jeb gone, Rubio will scoop up enough non-Trump votes to cruise to a victory, but that's not happening either. After Cruz and Trump grab their share of the undecided, there won't be enough left to give Rubio the bump he needs to pass Trump.

Last summer, I gave you five reasons why so many Americans loved Trump and why he would go the distance. Notice, four of the five points cemented his path to the Republican nomination. At the time, the seasoned political commentators and pundits just rolled their eyes at me. Now they're predicting a win.

1. He's real.
2. He doesn't care what you think.
3. Many Americans hate Washington.
4. It's early (null).
5. You want to see him debate.

(As I mentioned in that piece, in full disclosure, I know Trump. I've delivered keynotes for his company, spoken at the same leadership events, chatted in green rooms and interviewed him on camera.)

Also notice Trump's campaign hasn't changed one bit in eight months, either. If anything, Trump has just doubled down on the tone, the temper and the tactics.

In July 2015, this is how Trump put it to a crowd in Sun City, South Carolina: "We are tired of being pushed around and led around by stupid people ... we need smart leadership, we need great leadership. We need to make America great again." There was no policy then, and there isn't policy now. And it doesn't seem to matter.

Even back then, Trump was telling the media he didn't see Jeb "as a factor," and he was right.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus reportedly told Trump to tone done his rhetoric last summer. Yet he's only turned the volume up.

In September, the world was up in arms over his loose tongue at the mic and Twitter rants. No one could believe it when he called Lindsey Graham "a total lightweight ... idiot," and barked that Rick 

Perry wears glasses so "people think he's smart," and Obama's administration officials are "dopes." 

Carly Fiorina's face bothered him, Megyn Kelly had blood coming out of her "whatever."

That hasn't slowed down either. In fact, who hasn't he offended at this point? Basically, no one. 

Trump's targets:
    The Pope
    George W. Bush
    Mexican immigrants
    Fox News
    The Koch brothers

Luckily, CNN and The New York Times have amassed lists of Trump's insults.

He even said he could shoot one of his supporters and he'd still win. Sadly, he might be right, assuming he wasn't arrested and jailed for it. On Monday, he said he missed the "good old days" because he wanted to punch a protester.

The GOP establishment has been wrong at every turn, and Trump has been right. In business, there's an explanation for this: disruption. That's what Trump has done -- he's disrupted politics as usual and changed the rules entirely. As I argued in January, once disrupters such as Amazon, Uber and Airbnb get out front, they become nearly impossible to beat.

That's why the establishment hates him. Not only has he changed the rules, he has upended the hierarchy. The GOP has been snubbed. It's sort of like that moment a few weeks ago, when Paul McCartney was turned away from a Grammy after party. McCartney used to own the industry, but now he isn't relevant enough for insider access.

That's why, for Thursday's final debate before Super Tuesday, we will all be tuning in -- to see what 
Trump does. And I can tell you exactly what will happen.

He's been 100% consistent since he jumped into the race last summer. He'll tell us he plans to make 

America great again. He'll remind us that we've got lousy deals with China and Iran. And he'll go on the attack.

The only thing that's shocking about all this is the fact that while Trump is always on the attack, no one has been able to land a direct hit back

And consider this: Trump hasn't even begun insulting Rubio yet. Trust me, it's coming. And so is a negotiation trick he's been using this entire time: lowering the perceived power of his opponent.

Mark my words, just as Trump pushed Jeb out of the race by calling him "weak" and "low-energy," he'll push Rubio out of the way by referring to him as a decent choice for "VP."

So what is the GOP waiting for? In the past six GOP primaries without an incumbent, with the exception of Newt Gingrich in 2012, every South Carolina winner since 1980 went on to become the eventual Republican nominee.

For all Trump haters, that's not good news.

If you are still crossing your fingers hoping for a Rubio surge, I advise you, don't waste your time. 

The race is over. It's time for the GOP establishment to decide if it wants to continue the identity crisis or elect a president.

The Republican nominee is Donald Trump.

As recently as six or eight weeks ago, I would have finished reading Mel Robbins's piece here and have already formulated a few snappy retorts and/or rebuttals to the conclusions that she has drawn.

As recently as six or eight weeks ago, I was riffing and, as our buddy George Costanza might put it, scattin' and be-boppin' all over the Donald and, more specifically, the people who were calling into my weekly news/talk show and articulating to me why they were passionately committed to supporting this guy all the way up to, and including, handing over the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania.

I use the word "articulating" very loosely, by the way. Pretty much every single every day Joe or Jane who called in to give the Donald some due had very little to offer in the way of cogent justification of their fervent fan worship beyond what has become, now, almost qualified as a punchline.

"He says what's on his mind."

No amount of my sharing with them the amount of damage done by the uncle in my family who stayed shit faced most of the time and pretty much always spoke his mind, too, seemed to make a dent in my attempts to actually break through to the part of their brains where logic and reason live.

Or once lived, as the case may be.

As recently as six or eight weeks ago, still, I kept talkin' and rebuttin' and debatin' and cajolin' and tryin' to shine a light on this doofus demagogue they desire that was bright enough to enable them to see that he was nothing more, or less, than a doofus demagogue.

But that was six or eight weeks ago.

This morning, I clicked on to check out the final outcome of what I knew the final outcome would be in last night's Nevada GOP caucus tally and I was greeted with the banner headline trumpeting the obvious.

Or, in this case, of course, more appropriately, "trump"ing the obvious.

"IT'S TRUMP" the big block print at the top of the CNN website home page.

And then I read Mel Robbins take on the tempest.

And my brain being what my brain is, I had one immediate, automatic thought.

Michael Jackson.

And a single lyric line from one of Michael's lesser known, but nevertheless poignant, hit ballads.

A lovely few musical moments entitled "She's Out Of My Life".

A lyric that sums up, for me, where we are right now in this country's political process, in this particular presidential campaign and in the surreal reality that is the irrefutable conclusion that Mel Robbins has offered and I have no snappy retort or rebuttal to retort or rebut.

The Republican nominee is Donald Trump.

Cue Michael.

"...and I don't know whether / to laugh or cry...."

Monday, February 22, 2016

"...The Precious Kid And/Or Puppy Can't Be Far Behind...Damned Evil Geniuses...."

Nobody is fooled here.

It's clear as crystal what's going on.

Gotta hand it to Mr. and Mrs. 1600 Pennsylvania.

What a stunningly remarkable job they're doing of feigning interest in this little old lady, of showing her respect and hospitality, of warmly embracing, even mirroring, her enthusiasm at living long enough to feel the excitement of literally visiting history in the making.

How diabolically clever they are to take a few minutes away from confiscating America's guns and  turning the country over to Islam and having a Supreme Court justice assassinated and fiendishly, delightedly waiting until the very stroke of 11:59AM, January 20 next year, after eight long years of plotting and planning and preparation to rip open the portal and unleash the Anti-Christ on mankind.

Just look in their eyes. Only pure evil has the power to disguise the look of pure evil with a look of kindness and compassion and humor and graciousness and tenderness.

Nice try.

Nobody is fooled here.

Everyone can see exactly what these two demonic megalomaniacs are up to.

With the possible exception of kind, compassionate, gracious, tender people of good humor.

With a functioning brain in their head.

106-Year-Old Woman Meets Pres. Obama
106-year-old woman has priceless reaction meeting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. "I thought I would never live to get in The White House, and I tell you, I am so happy!"
Posted by ABC News on Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

"...Wolf Blitzer? Nope...Megyn Kelly? Nahh...Lewis Carroll? Ah, There You Go....."

Ten days until Super Tuesday.

Here's a question commonly asked, and answered, by any number of political pundits, predictors and/or prognosticators around this point in the timeline of contemporary presidential campaigns.

Where are we?

Turns out, I have an answer for you, as well.

Pretty sure it's one you're not going to get anywhere else.

Sparing you the minutiae of detailed summaries of what each and every candidate has, or has not, accomplished up to this moment, (this moment being defined as the morning after the Nevada Democratic and Republican South Dakota primaries )let me just cut to the chase.

Or shoot to it with some bullet points, as the case may be.

  • voters who align, and vote, with the Democratic Party have begun to show strong signs that, while they enjoy, even admire, the romantic, even "whimsical" Quixotic nature of Bernie's quest to lead us to a more Utopian U.S of A,  they are starting to shift into practical gear, putting aside notions of happy ever after and opting for the "experience and electability" (a phrase that will surely find its way to a bumper sticker shortly) of Hillary. No matter how distrustful and/or devious she might appear to, or actually, be. 
  • Republican voters, meanwhile, have shown the door to the only major candidate amongst them who could be reasonably be described as "conventional" and, having given Jeb his walking papers, put even more vim, vigor and voting booth validation behind a billionaire real estate developer/reality TV show star whose primary appeal seems to be that he's "not any of the rest of them".

So, it shakes out like this:

Democrats, who are often, and deservedly, tagged as "liberal" to one extreme or another and who are traditionally credited, or accused, as the case may be, with taking great delight in heading into the future down the road less traveled are lining up behind the candidate who is, arguably, as conventional, traditional, even "old fashioned" as it gets.

Republicans, who are often, and deservedly, tagged as "conservative" to one extreme and the other and who are traditionally credited, or accused, as the case may be, with taking great delight in heading into the future only via the road used, thus far, by their granddaddies and great granddaddies and great great granddaddies are lining up behind the candidate who is, irrefutably, the most unconventional, non-traditional, rebel rogue of an office seeker America has even seen, let alone, embraced.

With the possible exception of Pat Paulsen.

Google him. He was a hoot.

At the risk of over simplifying, here's the more colorfully worded bottom line.

Democrats...practical, pragmatic, staid and steady, avoiding any possibility of breaking any new ground whatsoever.

Republicans...wild, wacky, zany and zealous and ready to follow a set of values and ideals that make the Fox News fanatics look like a more sharply dressed Amish community.

You're going to read, and hear, a lot of predictions, even assertions, for the next few weeks/months about what the outcome of this election is going to be.

Unless you're a very high roller with a lot disposable income and a very attuned sense of luckiness around you, don't bet what you can't afford to lose.

Because of the question posed at this point by the pundits, predictors and/or prognosticators.

And this answer I'm pretty sure you're not going to get anywhere else.

Where are we?

Through the looking glass.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

"...You Have Thirty Seconds For Rebuttal....And Three Seconds To Throw A Pie...."

Tired of the same old comedy shows?
Looking for someplace or something new to find things to make you laugh?

Got one for you.

Go to whatever book shelf in your house where you shelve it.

And pick up your dictionary.

noun: debate; plural noun: debates
a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward
Yeah, I know, it's not exactly a George Carlin monologue.
But there's a deep and genuine laugh to be found.
It's the use of that word "formal" there in the definition.

Todd Graham is director of debate at Southern Illinois University. His teams have won national championships for three years, and he's been recognized twice as the national debate coach of the year. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)The Republican debate in South Carolina Saturday on night was far below what I'd hoped for as a debate coach, so the grades generally reflected that this time. It's like one of those "group projects" where one person in the group is so poor as to bring everyone else down. Sometimes, nobody gets an A. 

I'll begin with the best of the lot.


Marco Rubio: Rubio was generally decent (solid in his discussion of child tax-credits, worse on amnesty and immigration and his record in Florida). He had a poor exchange on immigration with Cruz that somehow ended up with Cruz speaking Spanish. It wasn't Rubio's best debate, but since it wasn't the disaster of his last one, where the (now gone) Chris Christie mocked him for repeating himself, people will probably give him too much credit. B minus seems appropriate.


Ben Carson: Carson continues with two irritating trends. First, he mentions, in a tired joke or complaint, his speaking time. Enough already. Second, he answers every question asked of him by going back to the last topic, saying how he'd would have loved to answer that one, and giving a generic answer like, "I've got some great ideas" or "please see my policy online."


Jeb Bush: In his first exchange, of many, with Trump, Bush stuttered and stammered even when not provoked. I've seen it in many debates. You expect your opponent's next argument, which causes you to lose your train of thought because you're thinking ahead. With Bush, of course, after that, the inevitable happened. He got into many unwieldy and unprofessional arguments with Trump. Bush's new approach was to attempt humor now and then. Note to Bush: If you aren't a funny guy, then don't try it out in a debate. It backfires almost every time.


John Kasich: He tried to have it both ways. At times, he would pretend that he was above the rest of the raucous field with his calm demeanor (by telling us he was), but then, when he was engaged with Bush, Kasich would revert to interrupting and appearing incensed, as he has in other debating appearances. It has served him poorly.


Ted Cruz. Cruz had a decent debate in the middle, but it was bookended by awfulness. Initially, the moderator, John Dickerson, flustered Cruz. At one point, Cruz actually gave Dickerson the stink-eye. No kidding. Google the video. The debate escalated, with Cruz in an argument with Trump, who called Cruz, for the second time that night (Rubio did it earlier) a "liar," and even the "single biggest liar." Cruz's comeback to Trump? "Adults don't interrupt." He's got to find a way to get above this fray. Getting called a liar multiple times in a debate is something to avoid.


Donald Trump: He's back to childish again. Trump can't let any criticism go by. His thin-skinned approach ruins the debates and doesn't help him. This is amateur debating. Trump--and I'm not exaggerating--lost his cool every time his name was mentioned in a negative light. His response was invariably to call people names. He constantly interrupted other candidates in mid-speech.

Losing your cool at the drop of a hat is poor form in debates. And it's worse for a President. Indeed when asked whether he can ever be told he's wrong, his reply was to spin it into an attack on Bush and how much money he spent in New Hampshire, only to place fourth as opposed to Trump, who won there. Not answering the questions, name-calling, interrupting...all earned Donald Trump an F.


The live audience: Enough already! They're annoying; they're biased toward some candidates (they'd cheer at anything Rubio said, regardless of the merit); and biased against others (stop booing Trump and Cruz just because they disagree with your favorite son, Rubio). It's an age-old debating trick: Stack the audience, and watch how they sway the voters (especially the voters at home). At the end it became a contest on whose supporters could yelp the loudest. What nonsense.


The debate: I wrote the words "this is a terrible debate" no less than 5 times in all caps when watching.
The moderators had no control. A good moderator should study the candidates, know their debating style, and prepare to handle it. Most of the candidates — not just Trump -- lacked self-control. If you have kids, here's my analogy. It was like watching children screaming, interrupting, and insulting one another when fighting over that last scoop of ice cream. 

As an example of how out-of-control the debate became, Dickerson asked Rubio to "chime in" and Rubio replied, "on anything I want?" So he did. 

It ended with another episode when Rubio asked if he had 30 seconds, and Dickerson simply gave up by saying, "I'll ask the question, you do what you want." 

It was a perfect summation of a pitiful debate.

I don't know where Todd Graham's political loyalties lie, but based solely on what he has to say there, I'm feeling pretty confident that he and I are twin sons of different mothers.

I could find nary a bone to pick with anything the guy had to offer.
And, as for the audience thing? I said that, out loud a time or two or ten, while watching this latest suit and tie version of Roller Derby. Even went so far to offer up a little FB post/venting.....

"'s a "debate"....not a WWE Smackdown.....STOP THE F****** CHEERING AND BOOING, CBS..."

As for the rest of Mr. Graham's take on the tedious tussle?

Yup. Gotcha. Agreed. Fer shure.

And damn skippy, dude.

All of that, of course, matters less than not at all in the grand scheme of things because this presidential campaign has long ago given up being bothered with annoying restrictions like class or grace or polish or professionalism.

And the high road?

Feel free to get your motor running / and head out on that highway.

Because there's not a soul in sight on that boulevard.

The clown car is lickety splittin' and wacky weavin' back and forth across all four lanes of the low road.

With no rest stop, let alone an exit ramp, coming up anytime soon.

I was tempted to share, here, some thoughts on how this embarrassment of an election process might be improved upon when I realized that what really needs to happen is simply an adjustment in attitude.

Mine, not theirs,

So, what the hell, let's turn our frowns upside down, put all this silliness about the future of this nation aside and get into the spirit of this thing by seeing it for what it is.


Comedy on a level we might, truly, never see again in our lifetime.

With any kind of luck.

Because if what looks like is happening is really happening, if the country is, honest to God (or Shecky, as the case may be) really going to hell in a hand basket, then let's lighten the fuck up and  have some fun with it.

We'll decorate that hand basket with streamers and better....whoopee cushions....let's have the candidates knock it off with the boring suits and predictable red and/or blue ties and let's dress them up like gladiators, complete with swords and course, obviously, they dress as clowns, complete with rubber chickens to BOING! each other.....yeah! now we're talkin'.....

This all sounds pretty silly and stupid, doesn't it?

No debate on that.

Jokes aside, there is one legitimate reason to have a laugh about it all.

They're still calling these things "debates".

Now....that's funny.



Saturday, February 13, 2016

"...Oxymoron # 324-A....The Glory Of Battle...."

When it comes to the kind of patriotic perspective that Nashville's creative community offers, the first name that inevitably comes to mind is Lee Greenwood.

After all, what person alive on the planet today has not heard, at least once, if not the more likely dozens of times, Lee's arousing anthem of Americanism, "God Bless The U.S.A."?

I mean, come on, you know that right this second you would gladly stand up / next to me / and defend her still today.

Catchy, huh?

Tell you somebody else who had a bead on the blue and its colorful companions, the red and the white.

Ray Stevens.

He probably just didn't know it at the time.

I'll be 'splainin' that to you shortly, there, Lucy.

First, a few words about Gene La Rocoque.

Here's the Wiki word.

Gene La Rocque was born in Kankakee, Illinois and began his naval service in 1940. When the attack on Pearl Harbor was carried out, he was serving on the USS Macdonough. He participated in 13 major battles in World War II and worked for seven years in the Strategic Plans Directorate of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the Battle of Kwajalein, he was the first man to go ashore in the landings at Roi-Namur.

He retired in 1972, disillusioned over the Vietnam War. La Rocque and his colleagues testified before Congress, appeared frequently in the media, and consulted many national and international political leaders.

In the 1980s, La Rocque founded a weekly public affairs television program, America's Defense Monitor. In 1974, he stated that in his experience, any ship that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons, carries nuclear weapons and do not off-load them when they are in foreign ports. The statement directly conflicted with the Department of Defense's "neither confirm nor deny" (NC/ND) policy regarding such weapons and sparked controversy in Japan, which has had a non-nuclear policy since World War II.

As a Lieutenant Commander, La Rocque was commanding officer of USS Solar, destroyed on 30 April 1946 in an explosion at Naval Ammunition Depot, Earle (now Naval Weapons Station, Earle) in New Jersey. Five enlisted men and one officer were killed with 125 other wounded.

All of that is by way of providing credibility to go along with his commentary that found its way to Facebook this morning.

I had been in thirteen battle engagements, had sunk a submarine, and was the first man ashore in the landing at Roi. In that four years, I thought, What a hell of a waste of a man's life. I lost a lot of friends. I had the task of telling my roommate's parents about our last days together. You lose limbs, sight, part of your life—for what? Old men send young men to war. Flags, banners, and patriotic sayings.

We are unique in the world, a nation of thirty million war veterans. We're the only country in the world that's been fighting a war since 1940. Count the wars—Korea, Vietnam—count the years. We have built up in our body politic a group of old men who look upon military service as a noble adventure.

We've always gone somewhere else to fight our wars, so we've not really learned about its horror. Seventy percent of our military budget is to fight somewhere else.

We've institutionalized militarism. This came out of World War Two. In 1947, we passed the National Security Act. You can't find that term—national security—in any literature before that year. It created the Department of Defense. Up till that time, when you appropriated money for the War Department, you knew it was for war and you could see it clearly. Now it's for the Department of Defense. Everybody's for defense. Otherwise you're considered unpatriotic. So there's absolutely no limit to the money you must give to it. So they've captured all the Christians: the right of self-defense. Even the "just war" thing can be wrapped into it.

We never had a Joint Chiefs of Staff before. In World War Two, there was a loose coalition, but there was no institution. It gave us the National Security Council. It gave us the CIA, that is able to spy on you and me this very moment. For the first time in the history of man, a country has divided up the world into military districts. No nation in the world has done that before or has done it since. They have a military solution for everything that happens in their area.

Our military runs our foreign policy. The State Department simply goes around and tidies up the messes the military makes. The State Department has become the lackey of the Pentagon. Before World War Two, this never happened. You had a War Department, you had a Navy Department. Only if there was a war did they step up front. The ultimate control was civilian. World War Two changed all this.

I don't think I've changed. I was a good ship captain. I was tough. I worked like the devil to see that my ship and my men were the best. I loved the sea and still do. I think the United States has changed. It got away from the idea of trying to settle differences by peaceful means. Since World War Two, we began to use military force to get what we wanted in the world. That's what military is all about. Not long ago, the Pentagon proudly announced that the U.S. had used military force 215 times to achieve its international goals since World War Two. The Pentagon likes that: military force to carry out national will.

I was in Vietnam. I saw the senseless waste of human beings. I saw this bunch of marines come off this air-conditioned ship. Nothing was too good for our sailors, soldiers, and marines. We send 'em ashore as gung ho young nineteen-year-old husky nice-looking kids and bring 'em back in black rubber body bags. There are a few little pieces left: over, some entrails and limbs that don't fit in the bags. Then you take a fire hose and you hose down the deck and push that stuff over the side.

I myself volunteered to go to Vietnam and fight. I didn't question whether it was in the nation's interest. I was a professional naval officer and there was a war. I hope as we get older, we get smarter. You could argue World War Two had to be fought. Hitler had to be stopped.

World War Two has warped our view of how we look at things today. We see things in terms of that war, which in a sense was a good war. But the twisted memory of it encourages the men of my generation to be willing, almost eager, to use military force anywhere in the world.

For about twenty years after the war, I couldn't look at any film on World War Two. It brought back memories that I didn't want to keep around. I hated to see how they glorified war. In all those films, people get blown up with their clothes and fall gracefully to the ground. You don't see anybody being blown apart. You don't see arms and legs and mutilated bodies. You see only an antiseptic, clean, neat way to die gloriously.

I hate it when they say, "He gave his life for his country." Nobody gives their life for anything. We steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them. They don't die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them.

Lee Greenwood gets a lot of deserved credit, and not just a few royalty dollars (not that there's anything wrong with that) for his 1984 ode to the land of the free, home of the brave heart that beats inside all of us who have been blessed to be born and/or live in America.

But Ray Stevens offered a little perspective of his own, however unknowingly, some fourteen years earlier when he released a similarly anthemic work, "Everything Is Beautiful".

And underscored, in the first line of the first verse of that song, again, surely, unknowingly, the point that Admiral La Rocoque so clearly makes.

"There is none so blind / as he who will not see"

No reasonable person could possibly think of Lee Greenwood, Ray Stevens or, most certainly, Rear Admiral Gene La Rocoque as anything other than proud and patriotic Americans.

And I would gladly stand up / next to them / and defend them still today.

While at the same time, mindful and appreciative of the Admiral's words, unarguably aware that Ray Stevens nailed it.

Because the inability to see the whole picture, in some cases, even a complete blindness to it, is sometimes an unfortunate side effect of passionately waving a flag too close to people's faces.

Everything is beautiful / in its own way

With the exception, of course, of body bags.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

"...99% Of Those Surveyed Say They Believe In Dreams...1% Says Dream On..."

Cinderella, it turns out, has a better grasp on the American way of governing than just about anyone else.

Stand by as to why.

In the course of some daily perusing, I came across a blog written by Michael Filozof, an associate professor of political science at the State University of New York.

The prof was proffering his slant on the "Socialism" of Bernie Sanders and why, romantic notions of one big happy US of A family aside, he believes what Sanders is selling is potentially poisonous.

I've never in my life heard such unapologetic, full-throated socialism in American politics.  Sanders is the real deal.  He's so left-wing he practically makes Obama look like the chairman of the Republican National Committee.  At least Obama felt compelled to lie about the true extent of his leftism.  Sanders doesn't – and he isn't kidding around.  This is damn near Clement Attlee and Fabian socialist-type stuff.  True, he's not advocating nationalizing industries (yet), but he's cocksure that he can take as much of anyone else's money as he wants and spend it on just about anything.  Free single-payer health care, free college, green energy, no more fossil fuels, $15 minimum wage, end "institutional racism" – Sanders sees no limits on what government can, should, and will do.  And "Wall Street" will pay for it all.

Yes, Sanders is right that "The System" is rigged in favor of "special interests."  But he's not talking about "reform"; he's talking about transforming the federal government into Robin Hood.  If Sanders ever read the Fifth Amendment's guarantee that "property" shall not be taken without due process and just compensation, it sure wasn't evident in his victory speech.

Sanders is absolutely killing Hillary, especially among millennials.  She deserves the thumping she's getting, but Sanders supporters seem blithely ignorant of the fact he has never actually managed anything, and he has absolutely no track record to indicate that he could fulfill his promises – especially given the fact that the country will be $20 trillion in debt by inauguration day.

If Bernie's European-style socialism does come to America, it will be an utter disaster.  

Euro-socialism works because Europe still has a socially stratified society.  A British girl who is born a princess or a baroness knows from the time she is a toddler that she is a princess or baroness – and the daughter of a working-class soccer yob knows from the time she is a toddler that she will never, ever be a princess or baroness.  The purpose of European socialism is to buy off the lower classes to maintain the existing social order, and the European elites do a reasonably good job of managing socialist programs because maintaining their superior status depends upon it.

But in the United States, everyone is born equal under the law.  The American attitude was always that any individual could enrich himself beyond his wildest dreams – but his ambition was tempered by the fact that he could just as well fall into complete destitution.  Socialism in America would eliminate the latter – but not the former.  American socialism would turn into the same kind of corruption, plunder, and special-interest favoritism that Sanders decries in the private sector.

Political differences notwithstanding, I appreciate the professor's perspective if only because, in what is really very rare these days, he offers up some reasonable rationale for his contentions as opposed to the current standard operating procedure of slam, dunk and divide.

I think I would enjoy having a sit down chat with Mr. Filozof.  And one of the first things I think I would ask would be for clarification as to the whole "upper class buying off the lower class to maintain the existing social order" system of operation that Europe employs and the professor describes.

Because, maybe I'm over simplifying, but my quick read impression is that there's not that drastic a difference between the basic European and American structures, save for one, fairly key distinction.

We both have elite classes. (And while ours isn't "officially" royalty, in the blood sense, it certainly wields as much power and influence)

And we both have lower classes. (In America, of course, that's currently irreverently referred to as "the other 99%).

That key distinction I'm talking about is that the American elite manage to get along just fine and dandy in their elite-ness without having to add that pesky and profit denting dealio of "buying off the lower classes."

Marie Antoinette was as European as European can be bein', but it's our own American Express black card carrying country clubbers who are perfectly happy letting the middle and lower class menu consist of just four words.

"Let em' eat cake."

 Filozof correctly points out that "in the United States, everyone is born equal under the law."

Wow, there may never, ever be a more spot on example of the term "good news/bad news."

And he goes on to explain ..."The American attitude was always that any individual could enrich himself beyond his wildest dreams – but his ambition was tempered by the fact that he could just as well fall into complete destitution".

At this point in our conversation, I'm pretty sure I'd say something like "whoa, now hold on there, just a New York, home of Wall Street, minute, there, Mike...can I call you Mike?....what you call "the American attitude" is really much better known from sea to shining sea by its more charismatic and romantic name....

"the American dream..."

And I'm not credentialed to be an associate professor of anything, but I'm a reasonably smart guy, pretty well read and equally pretty well caught up on what's goin' on all around and I don't see any real evidence of anybody tempering anything when it comes to seeing that dream come true, let alone any fear of complete destitution.

More to the contrary, actually, I sense the vast majority of red, white and blue-sters fall into the category eloquently described by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, in a scene from "The West Wing" in which President Bartlet and his staff were discussing a proposed tax cut.

The problem with the American Dream, indeed.

And, as to Filozof's assertion that, should "...Bernie's European-style socialism.....come to America, it will be an utter disaster. ", I'm inclined to, first, suggest that the professor might be exhibiting just a millimeter of melodrama and. second, be a little cynical about his predicted outcome if only for the fact that I'm pretty confident that the last thing that America's elite will ever allow to happen is a "change-over" to the Euro paradigm of "keep the little people happy."

Because, frankly, my dear, they don't give a damn.

And they are all, bet the farm, or portfolio, as your own unique social status indicates, united in their near religious belief that what ain't broke, don't need fixin'.

It seems logical to assume that someone worth, say, a kabillion dollars isn't going to have any qualms about, or ambition to repair, the very operating system that got them the kabillion dollars in the first place.

Again, I'm no economist, but I think the correct terminology here would be..."duhhh".

And as to the prevailing American attitude about adopting and adhering to any, let alone all, things European, let me just offer two words.



On more than one occasion on one radio broadcast or another, I've suggested that those who are concerned about, for example, the Federal Government actually showing up on doorsteps and demanding that all weapons be turned in need not be concerned, if only for one, again, bet the farm, irrefutable fact.

Even if the Feds decided to take a shot at it (pun unintended, but, we love a good ironic twist) it wouldn't happen, because it can't.

And why, you say, can't it?

Well, you tell me. When was the last time you saw the Federal Government do anything that wasn't badly organized, weakly structured and oh so poorly executed.

There you go.

And, in a worst case scenario, how successful do you think the government would be at taking away the weapons, street by street, house by house from the millions of people who own millions of guns and would, very likely, open fire long before they gave opening the door a single thought?

And there you go.

This whole "capitalist sky is falling" thing is a lot like that.

Even if the "Bern" that Sanders has unleashed became a fire sufficient to clear a path for him all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, how long do you think it would be before the kabillionaires whipped out that old American Express black card and spent whatever was necessary, good, bad, legal, illegal and/or immoral in order to hang on to the lion's share of those kabillions.

Stephen Hawking ain't even got the ability to measure time down to that small a fraction.

And let's not forget that one other little speedbump Bernie would encounter on his triumphant march out of Sherwood Forest, an obstacle that would pretty much put the kaibosh on any caper that the kabillionaires found contemptible.

The Congress of the United States of America.

Currently in the running for the largest CEO managed corporation in this here land of opportunity.

A lot of people, mostly young and still idealistic, or young and ready, eager and giddy at the idea of the good life being handed to them on a Paul Revere signature silver platter, don't really understand the real reason that it's called the American Dream.

The operative word there, of course, is "dream".

The more romantic, sentimental, glass half full types amongst us live their lives with a head full of hope and a heart full of happy ever after, believing that dreams really do come true.

And they really, really do.

As to ratios of do to don't, though, it's probably not unreasonable to guesstimate that one's chances of pulling the sword from the stone are no better than slightly the same as the chances of Cam Newton ever uttering the words "I'd like to thank all those who made it possible."

For all the experts on the matter who trumpet their expertise on the matter, it turns out, as I said earlier, that Cinderella has a better grasp on it than anyone else.

A dream is a wish your heart makes / when you're fast asleep.

The key word, there, of course, being "asleep".

Waking up every day in the real world of 2016 America is decidedly different.

The "lower classes" have embraced Bernie as a knight in shining armor and you don't have to be an associate professor in political science to understand why.

The upper class, meanwhile, remains confident that, in the end, absolute power, in the form of kabillions, will not only continue to corrupt, it will continue to prevail.

And the chances of Bernie knocking down the tower of Trump, let alone Babel?

Just refer back to that Cam Newton thing.

Which isn't to say, by the way, that those of us who are hip to Bernie's happening shouldn't give it and him our continued full throated, if only shallow pocketed, support.

After all....

...we can dream, can't we?