Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

It’s difficult to understand why law enforcement, city, state, and federal, as well as the President of the United States, took so long to state the obvious about San Bernadino. I just don’t comprehend what is so difficult about seeing this couple, dressed as they were, not being immediately identified as ‘terrorists.’ However you wish to slice it, this was a terrorist act. It certainly terrified the crap out of the people who were being shot and those ducking for cover. With the discovery of the ammunition and pipe bombs in the house occupied by that couple and their baby would indicate preparation for a ‘terrorist’ attack. So we’re at war. Is there anyone in the USA who doesn’t understand that? Are there actually people whose heads are stuck so far up…in the sand that they aren’t aware that Americans are considered by some people who actually live and work here, as the enemy. Take a look at Dylan Roof who thought that blacks were taking over America. Can you understand why an ignoramus like that would think such a thing? Who does he see on television when the President speaks? Who does he see when the Director of Homeland Security speaks? Granted, the kid is probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s probably just a wee bit prejudiced against black folks in the first place. Someone said to me the other day, “I saw a family of Muslims in traditional dress coming in the store and I didn’t panic,” as though that was a major friggin’ achievement. It’s clue time…this country is filled with all sorts of people; some came here to escape terrorism and want to live peaceful lives. Others are here but are nothing but crazy fucking assholes who are influenced by other crazy fucking assholes and who will go out and kill anybody they see who is not dressed or look exactly as they do. They do have sufficient smarts to make certain they kill at a gathering…just walking up and down the street is not going to give one maximum exposure nor maximize your kill rate…riiiight!

To top off our understanding that we are at war, we have public panic purveyors like Donald “I-can-fix-everything-but-I-won’t-tell-you-how-because-I don’t-really-know-what-to-do” Trump. I find it truly difficult to understand how this man became a billionaire. The only thing I can think of is that he bullied his way to riches; he was the loudest shouter in the room; his face got so red, his opponents thought he was going to literally explode and shit would be flying everywhere since he was so full of it, so they gave in. It’s all I can think of. He speaks such ridiculous bullshit that no one in their right minds could possibly believe what he says. And yet, what is he doing? He’s appealing to the frightened, the uninformed, people who don’t know, or care to know, understand or care to understand other cultures. These are the folks who believe that blacks eat only fried chicken and watermelon; they may see hummus in the store so that’s what “they’ eat; Asians eat only fish and seaweed or some other shit like that. They don’t know, and one who preys on their fears such as Trump becomes their hero. The media is proving to be just as gullible. Trump speaks; it’s a sound byte they have to get on the air before the competition. Don’t react; don’t cover, and see how long Trump stays in this race. The media are “feeding Seymour” and he continues to grow. If the media ignore him, Trump will be within his rights to demand an equal amount of time as is given to other candidates; that is his right. However, the minute his talk becomes inflammatory, as it has been through most of his campaign, cut off the microphone; he has overstepped his bounds.

On November 8, 2016, America will go to the polls to elect a new President. That is eleven months from this very day. Should this country, in its ultimate stupidity, elect Donald Trump, I will make every effort to move to Nova Scotia and to renounce my American citizenship. I have little doubt that the world will become a nuclear wasteland before his term of office has ended.

Lone wolf terrorists on American streets will become more identifiable and stopped as we move along in our war. At some point, they will be identified before they enter the country. ISIS or some offspring of it will continue to function in the Middle East. It is only when America says, “Enough, solve your own problems,” that we will be able to breathe easily again. If “secure the homeland” is a dirty turn of phrase, forgive me. However, I don’t want to see more gold star flags hanging in more windows than are already there. We can “preserve, protect, and defend” the United States of America by putting our own nation first and let other nations solve their own problems.

The United Nations appears to be a useless group of foreign representatives suckling at the American teat and little else. Let us move their headquarters to someplace like Belgium, Luxemburg, or Lichtenstein, and see how quickly they dissolve or get their collective acts together to solve the world’s problems. America is too rich and too developed a nation to be playing host to a bunch of spies and neer-do-wells. Is this laissez-faire attitude going to work? No, because it will never receive bi-partisan support, nor will Wall Street allow it to happen. It would be nice to give it an honest try; to attempt to make other nations wholly responsible for their actions. We can’t; we’re America. We’re the supposed 800-pound gorilla in the room. That’s why poor families raise cannon fodder and we cry crocodile tears when they’re blown to pieces. If we really cared about our young men and women, we’d be expanding our efforts to keep them out of harm’s way rather than putting them directly in its path.

We have a great many problems in our own country that are in dire need of solutions. We need solutions to our problem of poverty. We need solutions to our problem of racial injustice and profiling. We need a unified, national police force that is fully trained and fairly paid. We need to stop teaching our children to pass some damned standardized test and teach them what it means to be a citizen of this country. We need more, better trained, and again, fairly paid, teachers. We need term limits for members of Congress to weed out the do-nothings, hangers-on, and radical assholes who somehow find their way into Congressional seats every now and then. We don’t need equalization of wealth, because if you’ve got the brains and ideas, God Bless You for making the money you’ve made, but we do need workers who are paid above a poverty level to build what you’ve designed or to sell what you have made. We need equal pay for equal work. We need to stop treating women like second-class citizens by telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Our problems are tremendous; they’re hard to solve and they will continue to get harder until and unless we take some positive steps to address them. However, remember this: Over half of the Pilgrims who made the voyage on the Mayflower died before a year had passed – OVER HALF – yet the rest didn’t just lay down and die. Seventy-five thousand colonists died in the Revolutionary War; that’s 1 in 20 what we now call Americans. Yet, the men who signed the Constitution didn’t give up and say, “Screw this; take it back England.” No, the problems of their day were no more or less complex than the problems we face today. Sure, the world’s a smaller place, and the problems are terrifying. Problems of the magnitude facing the Pilgrims and the colonials and that guy who lives down the street from you today are daunting, but they can be solved. That’s our job – yours and mine – to chip in and ask what we can do to help solve those problems. No, I won’t give you the Jack Kennedy tag line; you can do that for yourself. I will say a couple of things: “If you see something, say something,” and “Don’t listen to fear-mongers and loud mouthed know-nothings like Donald Trump, because he’s not worth your time.”

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Writing about something is not the same as knowing about something. I have always admired good reporting as well as good fiction. John Powers of The Boston Globe was a hell of a writer when he was covering sports. John is a huge man, towering over me, but his insight into what took place at almost any sporting event made the reader feel that he or she was actually in the arena, not as a spectator but as a participant. My dear late friend, Bob Parker, was a wonderful fiction writer who drew the reader in from the first sentence and kept the reader enthralled until the last period was place.

I am about as far from a John Powers or Robert Parker or any of the wonderful writers we read on a daily basis. Like many of you, I struggle to gain and maintain the reader’s interest. It shows in that, if really lucky, I have two or three readers a day. It’s an ego thing, and I’m the first one to admit it.

Think about everything that is happening in the world today. We still have stupidity in Washington, with a President who feels he can do no wrong…and he’s wrong; a Congress now controlled by a single party, but I don’t see much taking place other than the Keystone Pipeline which is just going to line a few more pockets of the one percent; our judicial branch is, at best, confused about which issues belong before them and which should be left to the states for a final decision.

On the world front, we have the horrible executions of the French satirists at Charlie Hebdo and the assassination of four police officers by known radicals who were allowed to walk the streets freely and who got the martyrdom that they desired after their horrible onslaught. Sure, I could do my research online and read everything there is to read…like over one million articles, most of which are as accurate as would be teats on a bull, but that doesn’t give one the right to put together an accurate Reader’s Digest condensed version. Perhaps the most odious and despicable post-episodic thing taking place now is the race between al Qaeda and ISIS over who takes the “credit” for committing this hideous act. Is it fodder for the writer in me? By writing about this crime, I merely lend credence to the fact that no one, anywhere in the world, at any time, is safe from these half-crazed lunatics who are exercising their childhood fantasies of killing with no more respect for the beliefs of true Muslims and the Quran than the Bible-thumping idiots of the Westboro Baptist Church have in their beliefs about Christianity.

So what is left for me, in the few years I have remaining, to garble about? Should I talk about the 2016 race to become the next sucker in the White House? I have finally – gad, but it took a long time – figured out why smart people don’t run for president…their egos are not large enough, or as Clint Eastwood once put, “A man just has to know his limitations.” The really smart person allows the puppet to become the titular head and then the puppet-masters, eg, Citibank, the pharmaceutical lobbyists, the farm folk, and several others sit back and tug on a few strings to get the puppet to do their bidding. It’s wonderful to sit at the computer and gaze into the crystal ball. The Republican Party is firmly convinced that the next puppet will be from the GOP, thereby giving both the executive and legislative branches to a group of people who care little for the average American and a great deal for the one-percenters. After all, it’s the one-percenters who write the bills they pass and keep their bank accounts growing. And, what the hell, should a Democrat – by some miracle of God – attain the exalted puppet-post, it will merely be four or eight more years of gridlock. With gridlock, nothing gets done; the press has a field day; and late night comics rub their hands together in glee. While I consider myself an independent voter, I have to admit that someone like Chris Christie of New Jersey could really shake the old-time-DC-boys up; in addition to which, he probably knows where to get rid of the bodies….lots of swampland in New Jersey.

The recent story of the loving son is not something that you find every day. Could one invent such a thing? Perhaps if I was a more creative writer it could happen. However, I’m not that desperate to build a readership. That was just one of those poignant moments that had to be set to paper, and I was honored to have the opportunity to do so…my thanks to those who commented. The opposite of that situation was viewed by Juli yesterday. “Behind you is a mother and son,” she said. “Neither has stopped texting since they sat down.” Of course, we had no idea if they were texting one another, but my bet is that was not the case. Kind of sad, isn’t it? Can you imagine saying to one of your adult children, “Let’s go to lunch and leave our smart phones in the car.” Be the fastest goddamned lunch on record. Yes, I could write about my view on technology (said he, pounding away at the keyboard) but I don’t even know the vernacular for today’s techno-geek…tough to fall behind the times like this.

Well, I’ve almost reached my thousand word limit so to you, my reader (hopefully with an ‘s,’ I bid you a wonderful winter without falls or flu; without slipping and sliding; without icicles or idiots. If you have young children, I hope you will enjoy sledding with them at the local hill. The bumps will be a bit rougher than you may remember, but what the hell, you’ll have wonderful memories when you recall the day over a cup of hot chocolate…don’t forget the whipped cream!

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You’re going to have to forgive an old man if he misinterprets some of the horse manure that floats from the halls of Congress into the media below…or is it “onto” the media below. It really doesn’t matter a whole hell of a lot, but it seems to me that Congress is supposed to enact legislation for the benefit of its constituency; you know, the people who elected them. I don’t know where it says that they are supposed to go looking for ways to mess up an incumbent administration or cast aspersions on the Office of the President…keep an eye open, sure, but not beat a dead horse until the entire animal smells like what’s comin’ outta the south end.

The US mission in Benghazi was attacked by a group of who-knows-who [wink, wink] on September 11, 2012. The attack was fatal and killed a number of people. There were insufficient resources to defend the mission. That is the fault of US intelligence. That those resources weren’t there is the fault of US intelligence and the military not working together. That no one in the US Department of State or in any US intelligence agency OR any US military organization OR in any branch of government didn’t believe there would be an attack on the US somewhere in the world on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack is sheer idiocy. Every mission, embassy, military post on foreign soil, and tourist who is travelling on September 11th of any year, should be prepare to be treated as a target. Anyone not considering this deserves whatever happens to them. What the hell has to happen for people to wake up to the fact that America is at war on its own soil as well as abroad.

The Republican House of Representatives is dissatisfied with how the Benghazi attack (a) could possibly take place in beloved Libya; (b) who should take the blame for the attack…not the attackers themselves, mind you, but who is to blame from the American side; (c) has been falsely described by the White House according to House Speaker John Boehner. To get to the bottom of all of this, Speaker Boehner is appointing a “select” committee to “… investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks, accusing the Obama White House of “misleading the American people” by withholding emails on Benghazi – emails that only just surfaced this week despite a 2013 subpoena.” According to the New York Daily News, Speaker Boehner stated, “This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level. I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims.” Hey, Jack, the American people know what happened and the families of the victims don’t require constant reminders that they don’t have a loved one anymore. Build a goddamned bridge and get over it.

On the basis of Mr. Boehner’s House controlled half of the Congress, perhaps Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader from Nevada, should appoint a select committee to determine who is responsible for the erroneous information that precipitated our invasion of Iraq. Perhaps the Senator could subpoena then Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to testify where all of those wonderful and fraudulent photographs came from that “definitely” showed Iraq with weapons of mass destruction. We might have bring former President George Bush and his string-puller, Dick Cheney to the Halls of the Senate to tell us why 4,487 American soldiers died in a war that was (a) unnecessary; (b) a personal vendetta on the part of George Bush; and, (c) a bold faced lie.

Speaker Boehner is being led around by the nose by his aggressive Tea Party Republicrats. He has fallen in line with a group of crazies who will do anything, use any reason, and tell any lie to discredit the incumbent administration in order to gain an edge in the 2016 elections. Is the Obama administration withholding some information about Benghazi? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Did the Bush administration openly lie about the weapons of mass destruction that preceded the invasion of Iraq? Without question they did.

Benghazi is now a footnote in the history of the United States. We have not learned from it. We will probably be just as complacent on September 11th 2014 and then wonder why a mission, an embassy, a military outpost or fort was attacked. And leaders from the minority party will blame the leaders of the majority party and more horse shit will fly around the Halls of Congress. Meanwhile, important legislation will languish in some committee or other because either Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Reid believes it will give brownie points to the opposition. Is this any way to run a nation? The idea of a two-party system [try to forget about the Tea Party for just a moment here, puh-leze] of government is wonderful. It’s wonderful as long as the two parties understand that their role is to move the country ahead in pursuit of goals that will help the nation. It doesn’t matter which party wins as long as the nation benefits as a whole.

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“I used to read your blog, but then you got boring…but I’m back now.”

Boring? Me, boring? Moi?

Damn straight, Skippy, and don’t you forget it.

The reader who sent me that comment was absolutely correct, and I thank him or her for doing so. There’s no question that there are plenty of times I climb up on the soapbox and pontificate about this happening or that. In so doing, I get diarrhea of the mouth compounded by mental constipation. The result is what can often be found on this blog. I think I may have said this before, but let me reiterate that I really don’t write for any reason other than to get people like that reader quoted above to react; good, bad, or indifferent, I don’t care.  If someone reads something I’ve written and thinks I’m mistaken in my view, I want them to come back at me with an opposing view. If the man or woman can back it up with research, I’ll even print the response on the blog.

Right now, for example, I’m somewhat irritated with the President of the United States and his minions. The problem is that I haven’t read the Affordable Care Act in its entirety so I’m on shaky ground when I begin to criticize it. First, it was late being rolled out; part of the reason for that was that the House of Representatives kept trying to get it repealed – Forty-one freaking times they’ve tried – but it was still rolled out to the public…late. Not only late, but people couldn’t get on the web site to sign up. The company that built the web site screwed it up…badly. Therefore, why was it rolled out? Why didn’t the President, as chief honcho of this bill, have the balls to come right out and say, “We’ve got some problems here, and we’re going to hold off on this thing until we get those problems resolved?” That would have been the transparent thing to do. There is no shame or embarrassment in saying that you moved to quickly in an attempt to bring a health plan to the public – “which seven of my predecessors were unable to do” – and that you, as Prexy, are going to have a bipartisan committee review portions of the Law – note upper case – because it is a Law, passed by Congress and signed by the President, before putting it before the public.

There is no question in my mind that people like Rand Paul, Eric Kantor, Ted Cruz, and some of the other Tea Party Crazies – that’s how I’ve come to describe them; even capitalizing the last word – will look on this as a significant victory, but we all know they’re so full of crap that when they breathe, they smell like great granddaddy’s outhouse, so who cares about them. And some members of his own party will have harsh words about the President’s inability to stand his ground, but frankly, that’s bullshit!

In its current format, the Affordable Care Act is a bad law. It hurts people. In some cases, people can’t even keep their own doctor…after having been told by their leader that this would not be the case.  In other cases, people are going to have to choose between food and medical insurance after having been told that the insurance would be “Affordable.” In other cases, people can’t get the care they need because the hospital that can give that care is “outside of their circle.” Listen to the American people, Mr. President. This act that you signed into law is not good. There is not one person in this country who wouldn’t agree with you that the nation is in need of a national insurance plan. In addition, what works here in Massachusetts, may very well not work in Mississippi, Minnesota, or New Mexico. Personally, I believe you would have been wiser to demand the governors of the fifty states to present plans for their states to a Federal health agency for approval. At the point of approval, the plans could be launched with the backing of some federal dollars, raised by a national sales tax of one or two percent on everything from dog food to diapers and allocated by population density. Plans from one state would be honored by those of other states. Don’t worry, abuses would soon be noticed.

Mr. President, you and I both know that the health care needs of the people in West Virginia are not the same as those in the people of Colorado. I’m not into making invidious comparisons, but attempting a national health care law seems to me like make a one-size-fits-all shoe. Yes, we are fifty states that are united, but in health care? I have no idea what governors do at a governor’s conference, but when the issue of health care became so important, it seems that the governors should have recognized the problem, taken their heads out of their butts, and gotten busy. There’s no question there would have been some ‘foot-draggers,’ but that’s where the federal government could have stepped in and provided a little incentive to get things going, e.g., no more federal funding for a governor’s pet project. Certainly, this wouldn’t have been a feather in any President’s cap, but spinning a story is done every day in Washington; what’s one more?

You, Mr. President, and many members of your inner circle, will say, “It’s too late. It’s the law of the land and we will stand our ground and work this thing out.” That’s all well and good, but you know damn right well that the next Republican president is going to try his/her damndest to repeal that law…and they will succeed.

These things I know: In 2016, the country will have a new leader. I will be 82 years old. Tom Brady will still be the quarterback of the New England Patriots and LeBron James will still be leading the Miami Heat to NBA titles. Gay marriage will still be the issue it is today although many of the homophobes will have gone quietly away. America will still be at war somewhere, but we won’t call it a war, and caskets of young men and women will still be landing at Andrews, mothers, dads, and siblings will be there with moist eyes, but whoever is the new leader will find some excuse for continue the slaughter. The NRA will still be saying that guns don’t kill people, but there will be more shootings at schools and colleges and nothing will be done. We still won’t be free of our dependence on fossil fuel and cancer will not have found a cure-all.

These are the things I know. What I do not know would fill the Smithsonian a thousand times over. What I’d like to know is if our current President has the courage to say, “This isn’t working, but I’m going to make damned certain that before I leave office, each state in this Union will have health care for all of its citizens supported by both state and federal funds.” Isn’t that worth a try?

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“Jeez, I hate Shakespeare.” I can easily remember many of my high school classmates saying that or something not quite so charitable while trying to read and/or understand Hamlet or Macbeth. I won’t try to kid you, there were many times I was just as confused as most and reacted in much the same way. Now, in my dotage, and thanks to a couple of English faculty at Northeastern, I can enjoy much of what The Bard had to say. The question is, “Why is William Shakespeare more famous today than he was more than 400 years ago?” I guess it depends on the source you use since time travel is a bit of a bitch. The various sources that I have researched state that “…his friends said that he was the best writer of his time.”  Today we know that he may well be the greatest writer of all time. You may not enjoy Elizabethan English any more than I do, but think of some of the quotes that still roll off our tongues and for which we must give credit to Will…”what’s in a name;” “we band of brothers;” “something’s rotten in [the state of] Denmark.” All in all, there are many reasons why Shakespeare’s fame has lasted for more than four Centuries.

Come we now to today’s famous folk: Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg, Sam Peckinpah, and a number of wonderful film directors; movie actors, singers in several genre, writers of note and you can pick fiction or non-fiction, songs or shows…take your choice. There are sports heroes and others out the wahzoo who will have their moment of shining glory before fading into obscurity. Who remembers Ken Jennings, Mae Sutton Bundy, Moe Berg, Joan Weston, or Victoria Woodhull? These people, among others, all had a moment in the sun, and when we look them up, we say, “Oh, yeah, I remember now. Just don’t ask me a month or a year from now.” Fame is earned and fame – sad to say – is fleeting.

Now, here comes the $64,000 question: What the hell makes Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Richard Hatch, or – and this one is the kicker – the Kardashians so friggin’ famous that  we hear their names damn near as much as we do the President of the United States [Barack Obama for those of you who have been hiding under a rock]. Okay, I understand Conrad Hilton and his hotels, and perhaps his descendants are cashing in on his fame. It would be one thing if she had talent other than living an outrageous lifestyle and hanging out with other wannabees but I just don’t understand the media attraction to her anymore than I do to Nicole Richie. I guess fame can also be an inherited thing. Hatch is now pitching crap on television, but the first Survivor winner is rapidly on his way to obscurity.

I have dug and dug and dug – a classy word for research…or not, and I really do not understand what makes the Kardashians such a big deal. A lawyer for a dad who had a big case; a sex tape that I have no desire to see, a friend of Paris Hilton – gee, that impresses me…NOT – a camera hound who is enamored of her own face…I can’t say “and body,” because the body and maybe even the face are not really her own, and as she indicates, “…a brand.” And the media just sucks this stuff up.

Call me crazy – as many have in my day – but there are people out there who deserve ‘fame’ whatever that is, far more than some of the idiots the media dote on. When Brittany Spears ‘forgot’ to wear panties as she climbed out of a car, the media went wild; as did Brittany’s fans, as did members of Congress, as did priests, ministers, rabbis, and, for all I know, the top imam in Jordan. What were people expecting, a Harley to drive out of her vagina with the reincarnation of Evel Kneivel on board?

In another decade there will be tens – oh please not, God – maybe hundreds of these fame grabbers. They will come and they will go, and the people of their time will ‘oooh,’ and ‘aaah’ over their actions and their antics. They will be bright shooting stars and just like shooting stars, their fame will be fleeting. I will bet, however, that people will still be reading William Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, and Dr. Seuss; people will still be watching Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz; people will still be listening to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Whitney Houston, Garth Brooks, and Ella Fitzgerald. Good is good for a long, long time. Pretenders, for all that they try, are soon found out and forgotten. I wonder why it takes so long for us to see through the phoniness of these people.

You may not care for Shakespeare, his plays, his sonnets, his phraseology, or his themes, but ya gotta admit, the guy has a hell of a lot better staying power than Violet Gibson, Annie Edson Taylor, John Montague, or Matthew Henson. Who of your generation will be remembered 400 years from now?

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Can you imagine just how much media moguls must drool every 18 months…drool, absolutely salivate all over their $200 neckties, their $1,000 shirts, and their $7,500 suits? Not only that, but each 18 months, it only gets better. Republicans and Democrats now spent somewhere over $100 million each…to attain the office of President of the United States. You have got to be kidding me. Hell, the job only pays roughly $570,000 a year. So why then would anyone the kind of money the campaigns are spending?

It seems to me that there might be two very important reasons why a party would spend well over a hundred million bucks to have their person in the Presidency: ego. “Wait a minute,” you say, “That’s only one reason.”  No, it’s two reasons. It’s the ego of the party that believes it knows what is best for each and every American man, woman, and child, and ego of the individual candidate who believes that he or she can accomplish what the party wishes. The latter, by the way, is not such a bad thing. If a candidate, man or woman, honestly believes that she or he can make a difference in America, God Bless ‘em…they’re wrong, but bless them.

I say the candidates and/or incumbents are wrong because Americans, by and large, don’t care. As long as they can get up in the morning; put on some clothing that isn’t in tatters…hey, the clothes might even be pretty new…have something to eat; go to work; have lunch; come home safely; have dinner/supper, and; sleep without worrying about their throats getting slit, they couldn’t care less about who’s sitting in some funny-shaped little room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The only time you will get them to care is  if they don’t get a refund on their taxes – on which many of them have cheated anyway – or if their kid is sent off to a war in which they have no interest and that kid gets killed. At those points, they begin to get pretty pissed; at those points, you might have a couple of new voters. And because those things were done under one incumbent’s watch, they will be more inclined to vote for the other candidate …unless he or she has a reputation that’s worse than that of many members of Congress…and we have people in prison whose reputations aren’t that bad.

In Massachusetts we have a couple of people vying for a Senate seat. The incumbent is Senator Scott Brown, a Republocrat. Brown isn’t afraid to cross the aisle of the best interests of the country and the state can be served.  One of the things that I really like about Senator Brown is that he co-sponsored the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or Stock Act that made it illegal for members of Congress to take advantage of insider information to make money on Wall Street. Are you kidding me? As Senator Brown says in one of his ads, “If you did that, you’d be in prison.” Was that a perk or what? No wonder people wanted to get to Congress. It makes you wonder just what other little deals take place that allow members of Congress to become rich. Here are some statistics regarding the 535 members of the United States Congress:

  • Some have been accused of spousal abuse
  • A few have been arrested for fraud
  • Several have been accused of writing bad checks
  • Over 100 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
  • A small number have done time for assault
  • Too many cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
  • Over a dozen have been arrested on drug-related charges
  • Several have been arrested for shoplifting
  • Some are currently defendants in lawsuits
  • In keeping with the rest of the country, some have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the members of the Congress of the United States of America! Granted, this list is of past as well as present members of Congress. These are the things that have been documented. Heaven only knows of what other misdeeds these miscreants might be guilty.

The deed or misdeeds of Congress is not really the point of this article. I have three very simple questions: Why do we allow the spending of so much money to elect a president; second, why is the President – or the opposition candidate for that matter – allowed to begin campaigning for the office over a year and a half ahead of the election, and; third, who the hell is running the country when it’s leaders are out on the campaign trail?

Here are some arbitrary solutions to the questions above. They are not answers; the answer are simple…”We’ve always done it that way.” That doesn’t make it right, obviously, but it’s the answer we’re likely to get. Here are proposed solutions:

  • Campaign costs for the Office of President of the United States are not to exceed $10 million;
  • As of this moment, Super PACS are abolished. If that group wishes to throw money around, let them invest it in the infrastructure of their communities;
  • Any celebrity or public figure who endorses a candidate in such a way that it becomes a news story or a television commentary will be subject to a fine of $1,00,000 which will go into a fund to pay down the deficit;
  • The months of September and October will be the months in which (a) three debates will be held, with all parties represented. In addition, these will be the only times in which public campaigning will be allowed.
  • Conventions of the two major parties will be held simultaneously at [obviously] different locations during the last week of August. If this is inconvenient for the major news outlets, too damned bad; it’s the future of our country we’re talking about, not your ratings.
  • Congressmen/women who are running for election will be held to the same standards as above with the exception that their campaign costs shall not exceed $5 million.

Is any of this realistic? No, it probably is not, but wouldn’t it be a great thing if we could reduce the number of television ads, billboards, and banners that are plastered across the countryside years before an election is being held? One of the arguments I’ve heard is that all of this campaigning provides jobs. I cannot help but wonder if that’s a good thing. Just how many paid positions are there, anyway?

I’d like to see a nation where the President doesn’t have to be away from the business of running the nation because he/she has to be on the campaign trail for 18 months. I’d like to see a nation that demands Congress are in session more than 140-150 days a year. Hell, if you or I worked that number of days we wouldn’t have a job. The Congress that preceded this one worked twice as many days…time to break out the whip!

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Have you ever noticed just how quickly “big news stories” can disappear from the front pages of newspapers or from television or other news sources? For weeks after Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge, the media was all over the case. Gay bullying came to the fore once again. It had been nearly a decade and a half since the death of Matthew Shepard, and this was just a new form…call it cyber-something-or-other of “putting gays in their place.” Some might say that the two cases are totally unrelated. To that, I say, “Bullshit!” Bias is bias and Dharun Ravi was biased against the lifestyle that Tyler Clementi chose to live. His very actions proved it, and just like the Shepard case, the result was the death of another member of the gay community…and the media sucked it up like there was no tomorrow.

Then something else more sensational came along and Tyler was relegated to obscurity. The media stopped reporting because, “There was really nothing to report.” That’s true; there was nothing to report, except perhaps for telling the story of how the gay community was affected and was reacting; except for the fact that Ravi was, “…a prisoner who was afraid to go out” for the past 20 months. The media had an opportunity to once again expose the general attitude that exists toward gays, lesbians, transgenders, etc, who are completely ignorant of alternative lifestyles, but something more bloody took the place of an opportunity.

Mr. Ravi was found guilty of all 15 counts for which he was indicted, including invasion of privacy, witness and evidence tampering, bias intimidation for both setting up the camera and another count for knowing that setting up the camera would be intimidating, hindering apprehension, and all of the rest. He could have received a 10-year sentence on the first two-counts alone. Instead, Judge Glen Berman elected to sentence him to 30 days.

That Judge Berman should so shamefully hand down such a sentence says a great deal about the judge. It says that he doesn’t truly understand that bias intimidation and hate crime are equal. He says that they are not. How he can say this in this particular case astounds me. Was I privileged to review all of the documents or listen to all of the information presented at trial? No, I was not, but I prefer to take a much more simplistic view of the situation. Tyler Clementi asked for privacy…twice. Dharun Ravi did not give that request any consideration. Clementi, after seeing the video that his roommate had posted, chose death over embarrassment and jumped from the GW. “Oh, but there’s really no link between the two,” argued the defense. Here’s a question: “What if the shoe had been on the other foot and Tyler Clementi had videotaped Dharun Ravi having unnatural sex with an animal or beating a woman, while having unusual sex with her?” And what if Dharun Ravi had been so disturbed by seeing this that he’d taken a gun and shot himself? Would Tyler Clementi have received a 30-day sentence, particularly if the judge knew he was gay? Would the media have made anything of it? The answer is, “No and no” from the way I’ve seen this case handled.

Both the defense and the prosecution are talking about appeals. I don’t have a clue why the defense team wants an appeal. Their client got away with a sentence that is a joke. The judge got away with talking a good talk, but he sure as hell, as Nancy Grace indicated didn’t walk the walk. No case involving international relations or the gay community should ever come before Judge Berman again.

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Which is it?

According to all of the statistics I have seen, violence in America is in decline. Unfortunately, every news story I see on television is about violent behavior. This raises a couple of possibilities: (1) The statisticians are lying to us and violence is actually keeping a level pace or increasing; or (2) The media are deliberately seeking out stories of violence in order to sell advertising time or column inches in ad space in their papers. I’m inclined to believe that both have some facet of truth to them. After all, figures don’t lie, but liars do figure, and it’s expensive to run a television station and print newspapers. Since the American public has proven time and time again that they love blood and gore, the media are more than willing to supply same.

I am so sick of seeing Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman occupying so much time and space that I could vomit. Once you see Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson trying to horn their way into such a case, it’s over. The media should immediately recognize that when the media whores show up, it’s time to turn off the cameras and move on.

A while ago several people, including a baby, were shot to death on a street in Mattapan, a suburb of Boston. The mother was out in the street at 2:30 in the morning, involved by her mere presence, with a drug deal going sour. Boston’s ‘T&A’ (tits and ass) station – noted for its lascivious headlines, immediately dubbed this “Massacre in Mattapan” with appropriate music whenever something new came up. I think if a dog was killed by a crazed school bus driver in a North Shore community, their headline would read, “Horror in Haverhill” or some such. Yesterday, a police chief, eight days from retirement, was shot and killed in Greenland, New Hampshire, along with four other police officers. I’m waiting for the blaring headline, “Gory Greenland Grieves,” or some such nonsense to appear on the television screen. Of course the town is grieving, but let’s not make more of it than it is. It’s a tragedy. It should be covered, but not by asking stupid questions of townspeople such as, “How do you think the community is coping with this terrible event?” Either the schools of journalism aren’t doing their collective jobs and are allowing idiots to graduate or there are idiots in the classroom who are teaching reporters to say and do the wrong thing.

Mike Wallace died recently. He was a reporter and a journalist. He asked the tough questions and the right questions. He was hard-nosed and a hard-ass, but he wasn’t stupid and he didn’t ask dumb questions. In addition, he wouldn’t allow the person he was questioning ‘off the hook’ until he was satisfied that his listeners were going to get an answer. Walter Cronkite was the same. Yes, one might say that they had good research staffs behind them. So what? Where are those research staffs today? One talking head kept reporting recently that a body found in a local reservoir had been missing for 18 days, when in fact he had been missing for 39 days. Somehow, she didn’t count the month of March in her calculations, or perhaps it was her research staff who missed a month. My own thought is that they milked the story for so long that it only seemed like he’d been missing for 18 days.

If violence is declining, why is it the lead story on nearly every television channel in every major city in the country every single evening? Because people want to see blood and gore, that’s why. What does this say about us as a nation? “Well, that’s why I don’t watch the news anymore,” some say. “Oh, yeah, what’s your favorite television show?” Then the answer comes back and smacks you in the face…”Oh, I love NCIS and Bones.” Oy vey, both shows are about murder and mayhem. Alright, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but other than children’s programming, what else is on to attract viewership? If you have cable and you’ve watched the Smithsonian Channel’s series on ‘Aerial America,’ you’ve received a great ‘quickie’ education about the 48 contiguous states. If you’ve watched ‘How it’s made’ or ‘Modern Marvels,’ you’ve also received some enrichment. Just stay away from the news channels unless you’re a closet Ted Bundy, BTK, or Jeffrey Dahmer.

I cannot help but wonder if television completely stopped reporting on violent incidents, it might help to reduce violence. Yes, it sounds crazy, but some of it appears to be people just seeking their 15 minutes of fame. Let’s not give it to them. There are enough fires and other forms of misery to be reported without giving real idiots face time on the tube. I was impressed at the coverage in Boston of Newark’s Mayor, Cory Booker, who ran into a burning building the other day to rescue a neighbor. It would have been a brave thing to do for anyone, but Mister Mayor showed some genuine humanity and courage by his actions. It was one of those ‘good’ stories that demanded ‘good’ coverage.

So, we’re still left with the question, “Is violence really on the decline or are the statisticians just jerking our collective chain?” Or is it that today’s assignment editors just sit by a police scanner, waiting for the latest violent incident to occur so that they can send a talking head out to ask more dumb questions? Stay tuned!

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Violence is endemic to our culture. Survival of the fittest, whether we like it or not, is what we have grown up with and what will be with us forever. If you recall The Time Machine, the original with Rod Taylor, you saw that, even in a supposedly peaceful culture, there was still a violent element. To believe that violence, like everything else, cannot be escalated or improved upon, is to be as naïve as the surface-dwelling Eloi from the movie.

Now it appears that a six-year old memorandum from the Bush administration has surfaced which is scaring the hell out of people because it condones damn near any form of torture as well as the assassination of American citizens “suspected” of having ties to terrorism. The memo itself wouldn’t be so frightening if not for the fact that some folks out there are now saying that the Obama administration is carrying on many of the same policies. Why is the memorandum surfacing now and why is there such a strong attempt to equate the current administration with that immediately past?

Not long ago, I authored a piece about what happens in war. It was in defense of the four marines who were urinating on some dead terrorists. I was trying to remind people that the callousness of war knows no bounds. I’m quite certain the same could be said of some administrations in this country’s brief history. For all of his strong points, Franklin Roosevelt knew full well that America would be drawn into the war in Europe. He knew it in 1940 and was in discussions with Winston Churchill. America didn’t want war; however, the Japanese did Roosevelt a favor and bombed Pearl Harbor. From that point, there was no choice. Why should we expect today’s administrations to behave differently from their predecessors? I will grant that the Bush administration carried every kind of war mongering to its extreme, condoning torture of any form on anyone anywhere, but I give Obama and his people a hell of a lot more credit in at least cutting back.

You cannot expect that America will suddenly become a peaceful, stroll through the meadow, lovey-dovey land of milk and honey. It’s not going to happen so we all had better get used to it. Will Americans be targeted for assassination by future Presidential administrations? I honestly don’t know, but it would not surprise me. It’s one of the reasons we should know who the hell it is we’re electing to the top job in the country. In addition, we should know just as much about the number two person. Politicians are a bunch of cheats and liars; we all know that. So how do we find out just how bad they really are? We sound off. We write letters asking the hard questions. We don’t accept the pap that the major network reporters toss to candidates in debates. We demand hardball questions because we live in a hardball world. Will such things work? I can’t say, but I can say that if we don’t begin questioning our political candidates’ intentions and how they plan to implement them, we deserve exactly what we get.

Recently, I was asked, “How do you think Gore would have handled the World Trade Center disaster if he had been president?” It caught me off guard because I had to admit to myself that I really didn’t know what Al Gore would have done as President. I don’t believe we would have gone to war in Iraq, but I don’t know. Once we knew who was truly responsible, I’d like to believe we would have gone after those people and that government. The truth, in my mind, is that Saudi Arabia was just as much at fault as anyone in Iraq. The House of Saud, however, is a US ally and a nation on which we are dependent for oil, and therefore I’m quite certain we would have – as the Bush administration did – overlooked the nationality of the majority of the terrorists. However, I really don’t know what “President Gore” would have done. I do agree with what the Obama administration did, e.g., send in a small team of highly trained highly motivated specialists to chop off the head of the hydra. That, in my estimation is the future of warfare. Our young men and women who wish to serve our country are not joining the military merely to become cannon fodder because one old man happens to get pissed off at another old man. “When old men get mad, young men die,” was one of my favorite expressions. It’s now young men and women, God bless them, who lay it on the line for us when Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries decide the Great Satan has to be tamed.

So, whether it’s the violence of political war, the violence of drug wars, or; the violence of turf wars on the streets of Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Boston, or wherever, we may as well admit it…violence is here to stay. “Oh, it’s all that violence in movies and on television that perpetuates it,” I hear some folks say. My response is, “Bullshit. It was here long before television; long before movies; long before radio or any form of mass media.” It was here when the first caveman tried to steal another’s Mastodon bone. We know more about it today because of advanced communication systems. “If it bleeds, it leads” is not just some stupid statement out of a movie. It’s the truth; violence sells and it’s also here to stay.

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You know what I haven’t heard much about lately…the “left-wing media.” Newt certainly hasn’t been talking about it and he was one of the most vocal critics. Santorum, Romney, and Paul don’t care; they’re getting their coverage; it’s not all good, but the coverage is there. I guess that radical left-wing media group must have left town for the winter. I am certain, however, that they’ll be back just as soon as the presidential campaigning begins. It won’t matter who the Republican Party candidate is, that horribly-biased, crazy radical, left-wing press will be out to get him – sorry Michele, it’s going to be a him.

Sure the press is biased. You’re biased; I’m biased. We all have our prejudices toward or away from certain things. You want to watch a Democratically-biased news program, you turn to CNN or MSNBC; you want to watch some station that is biased toward the Republican point of view, you watch FOX or one of their affiliates. I have been watching stations that are, obviously, anti-military recently. They are continuously lambasting the accidental burning of the Quaran at some base in the Middle East. Get over it people; you’re continuing your rioting because the media is continuing to film it and the media is continuing to film it because they’re looking for more blood. An apology has been issued. It’s a closed story; build and bridge and get over it! And if you can’t get over that, you’re a hell of a lot more ‘religious’ than I honestly believe you are. It’s not dissimilar in many ways to the ‘occupy movement’ here in the States. Some of you get truly pissed because it was sacrilegious to you. Perhaps you can accept it as an accident; perhaps you voice your protest. Then, suddenly, you’re joined by a group of radical Islamists and bums who have nothing better to do. They yell and scream and start fires. Then one of them produces a weapon and begins shooting wildly, perhaps even hits and kills one of the demonstrators…something else to blame on the Great Satan. What a crock of crap. Yet, you same people think nothing of desecrating an American flag. We have so many religions over here that burning a book doesn’t mean quite the same thing. Matter of fact, quite a few of us have issues with our own religious teachings. However, you fuck with my flag; the colors of my country; now you have really pissed me off. The media call that freedom and it’s not particularly newsworthy…bullshit!

I watch these talking heads on newscasts and they make me sick. They can tell the same story three days  running and still sound excited about it. Unfortunately, they have some trouble pronouncing words like “equestrian,”  “brick,” “beach,” and a few others. Local stations try to stay away from anything dealing with Iran because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Ma-mood Ah-ma-din-i-jad) is an absolute bitch! What is the matter with these ‘news’ channels? Is it that they can’t find people who can read?  Is it that they can’t find talented reporters who go out and search for stories? I know they use police scanners because they’re on top of every murder and fire before the body is cold or the smoke has died away. I know the locals get feeds from networks, but it just seems that good old journalistic effort to ‘dig up’ a good news story is a thing of the past. “If it bleeds it leads” certainly seems to be the mantra of all of the Boston and Rhode Island television stations.

Recently, I watched the testimony of a former Boston meteorologist and newscaster. She was appearing before the Massachusetts Senate regarding a bill that would permit children to attend public school without requiring that they receive the full range of vaccines that are now required. She and the “Canary Party” having researched the effects that some vaccines can have on some children, e.g.,  autism and more severe allergies, have tried to make the general public more aware of this situation. As a former newscaster and “star” in Boston’s media firmament, Mish Michaels was well positioned to propose this as a news story to her former stations. Only one thought the story to be newsworthy, When FOX 25 ran the story, it went national. It’s difficult to understand why Boston’s three ‘major’ news channels didn’t see the value of this as news. One station said that it wasn’t news; another called it a “fringe” story; heaven only knows what the third station had to say. While I don’t happen to be a big fan of FOX, at least they had the good sense to recognize a big story when they saw it.

It’s almost time for some real political battles to occur. When they do, I’m certain that conservatives across the country will once again be screaming about the left-wing, radical news media. Liberals will also do their share of screaming. Before that happens, perhaps the media should examine who and what they have for news-gathering reporters and develop a staff that is willing to dig for real stories affecting real people. Attention assignment editors….the 2012 race for the Presidency does not mean you can sit on your collective tushies and pretend there is no other news out there. Get with the program or get the hell out of the business.

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