Sunday, October 23, 2016

Record Reviews Returning Soon (Hopefully)

A few of you may have noticed that I haven't posted any record reviews on this blog since July 31 of this year.  Sorry about that . . . but I've just been so busy, not only with covering other issues and the like in this space, but also in my personal life.  Twenty-sixteen has been a tough year for me personally; I'm dealing with situations I thought would have (and should have) been long since resolved. 
I hope to get back to writing about my favorite (and not-so-favorite) long players soon, hopefully by some time in November.  In the meantime,  I'll continue to offer other musings in this space on something resembling a regular basis.  

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Green Down The Ballot

Commentator and gay activist Dan Savage is getting on my nerves these days.  Not only is he dismissing Green Party voters as pasty-faced straight white people who don't care about people of color and LGBT folks, he has implied that the Green Party has focused so much effort on running  Jill Stein for President that it doesn't focus at all on down-ballot races where any political party worth its salt would start to build itself up.  He has said that maybe the Greens should contest races for smaller elective offices before going for the White House.
Dan Savage is full of crap.  The truth of the matter is that the Greens are running several candidates for all sorts of offices this year in the United States.  Overall, the Greens are running 279 candidates - let me repeat that number: 279 - across the nation in 2016, but you probably didn't know that because, when the media do talk about a third party, they talk about the Libertarians and their standard bearer Gary Johnson's ignorance of Syrian geography.  And the Greens have been running candidates in lesser offices, concurrently with their presidential candidates, for years.
Here are some more numbers, directly from the Green Party itself, on how successful it's been in building itself up in the U.S. as an alternative to the Democrats:  The party has won 31 percent of all the elections it's contested, it's put 1,013 people into local office and gotten 57 mayors elected since 1987, and there are 140 Greens who, at this writing, hold elective office.  One Green who has held office is a woman who got elected twice as a member of the Town Meeting in Lexington, Massachusetts.  The woman's name?  Jill Stein. 
The Democrats, aided and abetted by elitist supporters such as Savage, want you to think that a true party of the people can never challenge them.  Well, Hillary has offended too many people who are looking for real change with her hawkish forging policy proposals, her coziness with Wall Street, and her arrogant attitude toward environmentalists, and some of us had enough of her and her party's centrist claptrap.  The polls suggest that the Democrats may revitalize themselves in the elections, but it won't change the fact that it is declining and rotting from within just as much as the Republicans are.  The two-party system is closer to the verge of collapse then it's ever been since the 1850s, and it's time for new voices and new ideas.
And someone please tell Dan Savage to stop bullying Green voters and focus more on his . . . anti-bullying campaign.
I, for one, plan to vote for as many Green Party candidates on my local ballot as I can.  Alas, I live in a very Republican precinct, so Jill Stein may be the only Green I can vote for. :-( 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Music Video Of the Week - October 21, 2016

"Roll Over Beethoven" by Chuck Berry (Go to the link in the upper-right-hand corner.)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Oh Yeah, There Was a Debate Last Night

Again, I'm not going to comment on last night's debate, as I don't want to raise the profiles of either participant.  I will, however, refer to some points Jill Stein brought up while "debating" both candidates (she was actually responding to points from the debate via an Internet broadcast, part of which I caught, because she wasn't allowed to join them on the dais for real).
Dr. Stein noted that both parties are untrustworthy on issues such as Wall Street reform and student loan fairness, pointing out that a business-friendly administration is "not who we need to put into the White House . . ..  If we, as a country, can bail out Wall Street with its waste, fraud and abuse, then we need to bail out the students who are the future of this country."
Both Donald and Hillary say they have to the answers to our problems.  Dr. Stein is having none of that.  "The answer to our problems - war, immigration, security, economy, climate change, etc," she said, "is, we've got to stop causing the problems in the first place."
The good news?  Trump is going to lose.  The bad news?  It's you and me with HRC!  But I'm still voting for Dr. Stein and whatever Green Party candidates I can find on my local ballot, though the god doctor may be the only one.  Greens won't win much if anything on Election Day, but if enough of us on the left have the nerve to break from the Democrats and vote Green, we can start laying the foundation for a stronger and more viable liberal party in the future.  Going third party is dumb?  Don't you let anyone make you believe it.     

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Five Percent Solution

With Hillary soaring and Donald tanking, some people may wonder why anyone would want to vote for Jill Stein for President.  Why, they wonder, would you want to cast your ballot for someone so far down in the polls, she has less of a chance to win than even Gary Johnson.    
Here's a reason:  If Dr. Stein, at two percent in most national polls and at four percent in a couple of others, can get at least five percent at the ballot box, the Green Party can qualify for public funding in future elections and build itself up as a viable third party to challenge the mainstream Democrats for liberal support.  That's why Hillary supporters keep hammering away at Dr. Stein, even though she's hardly a threat to Hillary's chances in November.  They're not trying to destroy the Green Party's chances in this election; they're trying to destroy its chances in elections yet to come.
The Democrats may retake the Senate this year, and they even have an outside chance at cracking the gerrymander-fortified Republican House majority.  But the long-term survival of the Democratic Party is still very much in question, once the Republicans get their act together . . . and a Trump loss in November would certainly enable them to do that in time for the 2018 midterms when the Republicans have an advantage in the fight over control of the Senate and in preserving their power at the state level.  We need a viable liberal party to stand up against the Republicans, and the Democrats don't seem to want to step up to the plate . . . at least not as long as Hillary is leading them.  Voting Green and getting Dr. Stein up to five percent is increasingly turning out to be the only way liberals can hope to go forward. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Your Serve

Leaked information from Clinton campaign keeps pouring in. The leaks, all from the e-mail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and supposedly provided to WikiLeaks by the Russians, cover everything from the denigration of Catholics to the underhanded tactics against Bernie Sanders - nothing about Martin O'Malley? nah, even Hillary's campaign staffers didn't know who he is - but the most explosive leak may have been the report that a deputy secretary at the State Department, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy (not the former Rhode island congressman of the Kennedy family), may have tried to get the FBI to de-classify the contents of one e-mail from Hillary's own private server. 
In exchange, the State Department said that it would help the FBI get agents assigned to dangerous areas overseas.  (Wait - the FBI has agents assigned overseas?)  One individual said there was pressure from another FBI official regarding the request.  
The FBI is denying that there was a quid pro quo - Latin for "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" - involved, but it doesn't look good for Hillary.  Her camp says that the e-mails that have been released have neither been authenticated nor disproved.  Well, her staffers should either authenticate them or disprove them, and then they should let the chips fall where they may.
They may not have to do any of that, because Donald Trump is shooting himself in the foot.  He's going around mocking the sexual harassment charges against him, and he's also saying that the voting system in These States is rigged.  His charge of voter fraud make him look so ridiculous, petulant, and unpresidential that he even has fellow Republicans - known for voter-fraud paranoia of their own - denying the system is rigged.  Trump even said the Republican nomination process was rigged.  Yeah, Donald?  Well, I guess that explains why you're the Republican presidential nominee!
Then again, there may be a method to Donald's madness.  He said the GOP nomination process was rigged and thus encouraged primary voters to show up and secure his nomination.  He may be trying the same strategy to overtake Hillary in the general election, though he fails to understand that the general election campaign is completely different from the nomination campaign.    
I still think he has a chance, though, if only because the polls showing Hillary ahead don't take into account any of the voters who registered to vote for Trump in the primaries and plan to vote for him in November - but did not vote in 2012.  Presidential election polls are based on registered voters from the previous election.  I am not saying that Trump will win.  I only note that he can.   
As for Hillary's e-mails . . . I expect another leak, a couple of leaked e-mails in which Hillary staffers ask about Martin O'Malley, "Wasn't he the company clerk on 'M*A*S*H'?"  "Wasn't he the eighth President of the United States?" :-p      

Monday, October 17, 2016

He's a Poet, And He Knows It

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Literature Prize?

Okay, I have a problem with that, because even though I'm a Dylan fan, I have long advocated against the idea of treating song lyrics as poetry, and thus as literature.  Because, as I explained in an essay I wrote back in 2010, song lyrics are not as powerful or as provocative when read off a page as they are when sung.  True, Bob Dylan may have freed songwriting from standard rhymes and boy-girl relationship concerns.  However, even "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Visions of Johanna," as sets of lyrics, don't, when read, have the same power and depth as poems like Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" or Walt Whitman's "When Lilacs Last In the Dooryard Bloom'd" or poems from British literature such as Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud" or Milton's "Can You Lend Us Two Bob 'Til Tuesday?" ;-)  Yes, his lyrics have been published in book form, but the lyric books were mainly to learn the words when you couldn't make them out on the records.  And I don't think Dylan got the prize for "Tarantula." :-D
But then again, Dylan still had to write the words down on paper, and he had to get them to conform to a proper meter to make them fit, even if half the time you don't know what the words mean - although you have a general idea of what the song is about.  I know "Ballad Of a Thin Man" is about a paranoid newspaper reporter at a freak show, but what to make of lyrics like "You're a cow!  Give me some milk or else go home" or "You put your eyes in your pocket and your nose on the ground"?  Even Mr Jones himself couldn't have figured it out.  But then that must be what got Dylan the prize in the first place.  His pen produced some wonderful words that people are still trying to dissect years later, and one finds an interpretation in them that is different from other people's interpretations . . . even though the understanding of what the song is about (as opposed to what the words mean) is the same for everyone.  And isn't that what the best poetry achieves?
That said, I still feel embarrassed every time I admit to having recited a couple of Dylan's early songs in poetry readings in college.  It compensated or my lack of musical ability.  But then, giving a literature prize to a song lyricist isn't any more perplexing than giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the president of Colombia for trying to end a civil war he failed at ending . . . or for that matter, celebrating Madonna for destroying rock and roll by inducting her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  
Something is happening here, but I don't know what it is.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Review - 'The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years'

It has been said - I'm sure - that the last thing we need is another Beatles documentary.  Ron Howard's new movie looking at the concert-tour era of the Beatles' career blows that nonsense out of the water.
Eight Days a Week isn't just one of the best movie about the Beatles ever made - it's the first and only movie to focus on their years as a live band and how the excitement they generated was key to spreading Beatlemania from Britain to America and the world beyond.  New insights from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and archival reminiscences from John Lennon and George Harrison  illustrate how thrilling it was for the band to play live in their early days and invigorating it was to take the world by storm.
As Eight Days a Week progresses into 1965 and 1966, the ennui of touring shows as the Beatles were continuing to advance musically in the recording studio.  Their concerts - rare footage of which offers some astonishing samples of how pervasive and engrossing Beatlemania was - evolved from exciting musical performances to what Lennon called "tribal rituals"; indeed, some of the live music included here is ragged and sloppy.  Eight Days a Week also puts the viewer in the center of the action, with photos and dizzying footage of the group taking the stage, traveling long distances on planes, and dealing with the press.  There are some eye-opening anecdotes, too, like when the Beatles forced racial integration of the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville as a condition for performing there.   Philadelphia TV newsman Larry Kane, one of the many figures interviewed for the movie, traveled with the Beatles and covered them on their 1964 North American tour for the Miami radio station he was working for at the time; his specific memories and documentation of his time with the group are especially revealing.  Even the familiar stories of the Beatles' time on the road, particularly the controversy over John Lennon's statement of the Beatles becoming more popular than Jesus, are seen from a fresh perspective and give a picture of how grueling the road was for the group.  (Also worthy are comments from fans and observers such as Elvis Costello, Whoopi Goldberg, and Malcolm Gladwell.)
Fifty years after their last stadium concert at San Francisco, Eight Days a Week makes clear why the Beatles had to end their concert career, and how rock and roll benefited from their decision to do so; Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road couldn't have existed had they continued touring.  Howard's documentary, which ends with a clip of the Beatles in their last public performance from January 1969 on the Apple rooftop for Let It Be, ultimately succeeds in its main purpose; it brings Beatlemania as it played out in the mid-sixties back to life.  You had to be there, but if you weren't, this is the best (and only) way to experience it. 
(Note: During its theatrical run, Eight Days a Week is followed by a remastered, re-edited version of the film of Beatles' 1965 Shea Stadium concert.  It's an astonishing document, showing a confident foursome playing in perfect sync and giving one of their best live shows ever, despite the primitive sound system and the screaming fans. It is more than worth the price of admission.)         

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rock You Like a Hurricane

Earlier this week, I bade farewell to Hurricane Matthew with the observation that there didn't appear to be any tropical development for the time being.  That proved to be dead wrong; Hurricane Nicole, which was then degenerating into a third-rate tropical storm, went on to re-intensify into a third-category major hurricane, lashing Bermuda in the process.
My assessment of Nicole may have been premature, but not as premature as one would be to conclude that the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is pretty much done.  Because even though there are no disturbances in the Atlantic basin at the moment, there are still a little over six weeks to go in the tropical cyclone season, and there's still plenty of time for more storms.  In fact, the experts' predictions for nineteen named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes this year seem to be well on track;  Nicole was the fourteenth named storm, sixth hurricane and third major hurricane so far this season.
Meanwhile, the computer projection coming out of the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) are bound to scare a few people a couple of weeks before Halloween.  It shows not one, but two tropical systems barreling up the U.S. East Coast within three days, around some time next weekend!  Fortunately, the CMC projection, like Linda Evangelista, is a stupid Canadian model.  The CMC is known for being, shall we say, less than accurate in predicting major storms.  The Global Forecast System (GFS) and Euro models haven't picked up on the Canadian projection, but that's not to say there can't be something happening down the road.
I hope we don't get any more storms, but, as always, bear this in mind; Sandy formed toward the end of October and hit New Jersey just before Halloween (which was canceled here as a result), and no one saw it coming this time (October 15) four years ago.      

Friday, October 14, 2016

Music Video Of the Week - October 14, 2016

"Private Eyes" by Daryl Hall and John Oates (Go to the link in the upper-right-hand corner.)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Go West, Young Voter

I'd like to share this donation letter released by the Jill Stein campaign from one of Dr. Stein's most prominent supporters, Dr. Cornel West:
I wholeheartedly support Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. And I’m writing to you today to let you know, they have my endorsement - and I know they have your support as well.
You know, I’ve never been tied to one party or one candidate or even one institution. And that’s true even with one church as a Christian. I’m committed to truth and justice. I know you are, too.
I came late to the Green Party, but right on time; I was a tireless supporter and surrogate for Brother Bernie Sanders . . . he was the standard-bearer for truth and justice during the primary at a national level, at a highly visible level. Maybe you supported him, too.
But once he endorsed Hillary Clinton, I had to endorse Jill and Ajamu. Why? Because Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal disaster. What I mean by "neoliberal disaster" is someone who generates a mass incarceration regime, who deregulates banks and markets, who promotes chaos of regime change in Libya, supports military coups in Honduras, undermines some of the magnificent efforts in Haiti of working people, and so forth.
That’s the record of Hillary Clinton.
She’s an imperialist. She’s a militarist. She could take us into war with Russia. She could take us into war with Iran. I believe she’s dangerous in terms of her neoliberal ideology - not as a woman, because I’m supporting, of course, my dear sister Jill Stein.
Jill is not a spoiler. You know, a lot of people use that term "spoiler."
But truth is, If Hillary Clinton can’t make the case to progressives, she doesn’t deserve our vote. That's why I've put my time, my heart, my energy behind Sister Jill.
And I need you to go above and beyond for her today, so we can keep the movement she's part of, that I'm part of, rolling like a wave of thunder across the entire nation.
I implore you to make the biggest donation to the Stein-Baraka campaign as you can today. No donation is too small - think of the Widow's mite in the Bible -and no donation (up to $2700 per person) is too large.
You see, the campaign for Jill has grown exponentially and now needs about $17,000 a day to keep up through November 8. Our goal to start, is to raise $85,000 by midnight on Saturday (October 15). Will you help us?
We're currently falling behind in our fundraising. That's why I need you to give again today, as much as you can - even $10 would help.
Because of about 45,000 prophetic donors to her campaign, we've been able to build a progressive movement the likes of which the United States has never seen in modern times.
This is our year to dig in and make a real difference, to turn back the wave of neo-liberal policies that are killing black folk, women, prisoners, people of color, the poor and the dispossessed, and our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers.
This is our year to make it clear that an alternative movement has taken hold and we won't quit until we see huge change. We will revolutionize the world.
The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.
This is our year to support Jill! In the language of Coltrane, Jill’s a major force for good, accenting the role of poor and working people being center stage.
Today, while this [letter] is in front of you, please give generously, as much as you can—to my Sister Jill Stein and Brother Ajamu Baraka.
It's up to us to turn back the forces of evil and work for the greater good.
As Sister Jill and Brother Ajamu say . . . it's in our hands.
Dr. Cornel West

I am not able to donate ten cents, never mind ten dollars, but I hope someone who is able to donate money and who doesn't get e-mails from the Stein campaign reads this letter from Dr. West  and acts accordingly.
To donate to Dr. Stein's campaign, go here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Whither the Marty Party?

Recently I wrote that some Democrats have suggested Martin O'Malley as a potential national Democratic Party chairman for the coming four years.  Although I hold out less than zero hope for such a thing to happen - I don't think Hillary took too kindly to his campaign and, for that matter, his existence - such a scenario may prove to be the Democratic Party's last best hope of survival.
The party, having lost five of the last six House midterm elections and four of the last Senate midterm elections as well as having lost one high-profile governorship after another, is in serious trouble, and O'Malley has, in the past few years, been one of the few Democrats who recognize the problem.  He recently said in a radio interview that he's been warning the national party establishment about the low turnout in midterm and off-year elections that have cost the Democrats power at the state and local levels, but, because he's Martin O'Malley, no one would listen to him.  No one may listen to him even after this election is over; thanks to Donald Trump's gutter talk about women, the Democrats will not only likely win the Presidency, they also have a chance at taking back the Senate and even have a decent shot of overcoming gerrymandered House districts to win control of that chamber.  But Democrats will still have to defend in 2018 whatever power they win in 2016, and they'll have to defend too many Senate seats in the 2018 midterms regardless of what happens this year.  Republicans, likely to be free of Trump's presence in 2018, will be emboldened enough to try and win a large House majority then.  The Democrats will likely revert to their old bad habit of losing in midterm and off-year elections, and the party will be in trouble yet again - maybe more so than before.
Not if O'Malley is running it.  He knows what has to be done to fix the problem, so maybe Hillary should put her obvious hostility toward him aside and let him get the Democrats prepared for 2018 and beyond. The way I see it, O'Malley will not likely be able to run for President again until 2024, as Hillary, if elected President in 2016, will almost certainly be renominated in 2020.  O'Malley will be 61 in 2024, younger than Hillary, Trump or Bernie Sanders is now, but he'll still be Martin O'Malley. As much as I am still angered about this, Democrats have made it clear that they're not interested in him as a presidential possibility.  But the Democratic National Committee chairmanship  would be a nice consolation prize.  He's ready and willing to help turn things around for the Democrats in midterm and off-year races going forward.  
Meanwhile, the Greens, aware that Jill Stein isn't going to win the White House, are aiming to get her and other Green candidates as many votes as possible to build their party up for the long term.  And the Democrats ought to realize that they could be displaced by a new liberal opposition like the Greens or a coalition that hasn't even formed yet if they continue to adhere to their tradition of sucking in midterm and off-year elections.  O'Malley must be aware of all this.  If the Democrats want to save themselves from oblivion, they should give him the chance to get them out of their hole. If he isn't ever going to run the country, he should at least be able to run the party.
And if they don't get him, I'll just stick with the Greens.
O'Malley reminds me of the title protagonist in the Beatles song "The Fool On the Hill," as he, like that character, is scorned as a fool yet is wiser than those who scorn him.
And he never listens to them, he knows that they're the fools . . . they don't like him . . ..  And he sure does see how the world is spinning round through the eyes in his head.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Why Some Liberals Want Trump To Win the White House

No, really.
Many liberals disappointed and disgusted with Hillary Clinton have come to the conclusion that Hillary won't be favorable to progressive values should she win the Presidency, and the leaked speech excerpts provided by WikiLeaks showing the Democratic nominee committed to largely preserving the status quo bear more than enough evidence to support their prediction.   In fact, some liberals view a Donald Trump Presidency  as a necessary evil to set the stage for a progressive comeback in 2020.  A Hillary Presidency, they argue, wouldn't improve the progressive movement's lot - indeed, they say, it could only make it worse.
Here's how their theory goes.  If Hillary wins, she will not only face a Republican House of Representatives but possibly a Republican Senate, elected by voters wary of Democratic congressional power under a Democratic President, and she will get little if anything done.  Worse still, there could very well be a recession within the next four years, which liberals believe will happen regardless of who wins the White House in 2016.  The Democrats would then go into the 2018 state and congressional midterm elections at a huge disadvantage - particularly in the Senate elections, as they will have far more seats the defend than the Republicans, and the party that controls  the Presidency almost always loses congressional seats in the midterms.  Thus, the Democrats would lose big time in 2018, which would lead to a Republican blowout in 2020 when the Presidency will be up for grabs along with Congress . . . and 2020 is a census year.  In this scenario, the Republicans would gain the power to gerrymander the House for another decade.       
If Trump is elected President, though, the Senate will likely go Democratic, because voters want to keep a check on Trump, and he won't be able to accomplish much in that event.  He will, though, try to pursue orthodox Republican policies and push some elements of his own extreme agenda.  This, in turn, could embolden the progressive opposition to make significant gains in the 2018 midterm congressional elections and set the stage for a progressive comeback across the board in 2020.  The Republicans would then likely be voted out of office in favor of the opposition, which would then gain control of House redistricting.  Whether that opposition is the Democratic Party or a new liberal party that ends up replacing the Democrats still unclear, but Whig-like Democratic disintegration is a distinct possibility in the event of a Trump victory.  But the Republicans would have an impossible time trying to govern going forward; it could be the end of their own party, in fact.
Or, to put it another way - the way I've been putting it - a Trump victory would mean the end of the Democratic Party, and a Trump Presidency would mean the end of the Republican Party.  Everyone's a winner! :-D
The problem, though, is that the progressive comeback liberals envision is based on two things  - a Trump victory and a Democratic takeover of the Senate - that now seem unlikely to happen and a third thing - a recession within four years - that no one can predict will or won't happen with anything resembling certainty.  Also, Trump is so dumb and dangerous, it may to too risky to allow him to win with the hope that his Presidency can galvanize the left.  The idea that America could even survive a Trump Presidency may be the least likely outcome of all. 
The Hillary scenario, though, is very likely to play out as these liberals see it, and in the event of her election, liberals will have to face a choice. They should either take over the Democratic Party and return it to its New Deal/Great Society values or just jump ship and form a new party to take the place of the Democrats over time, just as the Labour Party took over the place of the Liberal Party in Britain.  Personally, I prefer the latter option.  Because the Democrats are going to deteriorate faster the the old British Liberal Party did.  The fall of the Democratic Party is inevitable, given its electoral troubles of late; Hillary's election will only delay the party's richly deserved death by four years.
Any Democrat, meanwhile, who finds a silver lining in a hypothetical Trump victory by having a well-defined enemy to run against should, as always, remember this.  The Whigs, voted out of power in 1852, thought that Democratic President Franklin Pierce would provide them the incentive to come back in 1854 and 1856 by stumbling in office.  Pierce did indeed stumble, but it was the anti-immigrant Know-Nothings and the antislavery Republicans who benefited from his troubles, the Whigs having collapsed for want of a message or a purpose.  Today's Democrats have neither as well.
Oh yeah, last night's debate . . . it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it. :-O

Matthew: The End

It's done.

As the map above indicates, Hurricane Matthew, as of  5 P.M. Eastern time Sunday night, was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone and was headed put to sea . . .and it's going to stay there.  No loop, no coast-hugging, none of that stuff.  It's over.  It caused damage in four states, North Carolina being the hardest hit, and it left a lot of heartbreak in its wake.  And that is the last I have to say about it.  And with seven weeks and change left in the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season and possibly five more storms to go before it's over, I hope Matthew - a name unlikely to be used again for a tropical storm six years hence - ends up having been the worst of it.
Computer models don't show any tropical development in the near future.  But then, you know how unreliable they are . . .

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Worst. Presidential Election. Ever.

This past Friday, two major leaks revealed why we need a three-party or multi-party system in These States, and they also demonstrated that, no matter who wins this election, we Americans lose.
Donald Trump was caught on tape talking to celebrity-interviewer Billy Bush while at a taping for a cameo appearance on a soap opera in which he revealed his modus operandi toward beautiful women.  This is what he said:
"I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women - I just start kissing them, it's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.  Grab 'em by the p****."
The Trumpster could have stopped there - and he should have - but, no, he went further, going on about how he tried to seduce a married woman:
"I moved on her actually, she was down in Palm Beach and I failed. I'll admit it. I did try to f*** her, she was married . . . and I moved on her very heavily.  I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture and I told her 'I'll show you where you can get some nice furniture.'  I moved on her like a bitch, and I could not get there, and she was married. And all the sudden I see her and she's got the big phony [breasts], she's totally changed her look." 
Needless to say, the Trump campaign is in free-fall.  Damage control has been swift but not effective.  Trump himself apologized immediately in a written statement then followed up with a videotape apology, but no one is in a forgiving mood.  Also, his insistence that Bill Clinton has said worse about women - funny how he picks his election opponent's husband, out of the all the womanizers in politics he could have chosen, as a comparison - does him no favors; downplaying his own guilt by citing a similarly guilty person is a sleazy mind trick out of Richard Nixon's playbook.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange finally presented his October surprise - or at least the first part of it - by releasing excerpts from Hillary Clinton's speeches to private audiences in the financial sector, and they reveal that Hillary is just as slick as her husband in talking about putting people first and then letting money talk while the people walk.  Consider this gem from an October 2013 speech to a Goldman Sachs crowd, where she said that the blame placed on the American banking system for the 2008 financial crisis "could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened":
"That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February [2009], so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere. Now, that's an oversimplification, we know, but it was the conventional wisdom. And I think that there's a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening? You guys help us figure it out and let's make sure that we do it right this time. And I think that everybody was desperately trying to fend off the worst effects institutionally, governmentally, and there just wasn't that opportunity to try to sort this out, and that came later."
She also told a Deutsche Bank audience a year later that even if it isn't "100 percent" true that the financial system is rigged, it still had to hurt:
"Now, it's important to recognize the vital role that the financial markets play in our economy and that so many of you are contributing to. To function effectively those markets and the men and women who shape them have to command trust and confidence, because we all rely on the market's transparency and integrity. So even if it may not be 100 percent true, if the perception is that somehow the game is rigged, that should be a problem for all of us, and we have to be willing to make that absolutely clear. And if there are issues, if there's wrongdoing, people have to be held accountable and we have to try to deter future bad behavior, because the public trust is at the core of both a free market economy and a democracy."
So she does admit that something has to be done to prevent another 9/15 (my term for the 2008 financial crisis, as it broke on September 15).  Who does she think should be guarding the hen house?  Apparently, the same foxes who previously raided it - Wall Street insiders, whom she said were "up to that job" and that the initiative for reform "really has to come from the industry itself."
Among other nuggets from this treasure trove of speeches: Hillary admitted in a speech to a General Electric convention in January 2014 that she needed Wall Street money to run for office, she showed in another speech an acute awareness of the security concerns with electronic devices, she endorsed free trade, and she admitted to supporting a single-payer health care system but opined that the American public would never go for it.  She even admitted in one speech to taking a private position for Washington insiders and a different, public position for the voters as a way of getting things done.
Thanks to the newest Trump scandal, however, none of this matters.  The Hillary leaks are mostly being ignored.  Assange's release of documents would have brought down Hillary if her opponent were anyone other than the Donald, but Trump's comments about seducing and groping married women are beyond the pale even for him.  Hillary is the luckiest woman in America right now, and she knows it, because none of these private speeches showing her coziness to Wall Street, full of dozens of juicy quotes, have produced the same outrage that the mere two quotes from Trump referred to earlier in this blog entry.  I watched Joy Reid's Saturday morning program on MSNBC for forty-five minutes yesterday, and she spent all of her time on Trump's lewd locker-room banter and not one second on Hillary's speeches.  (Reid's program runs for two hours, but I didn't get to see all of it; I can safely assume, though, that the WIkiLeaks story never came up.)  The New Jersey Star-Ledger made Trump's misogynistic comments front-page news in yesterday's edition but the WikiLeaks story didn't even make the cut.  Assange was supposed to release these Hillary speech experts a few days earlier, but he hesitated, only to release them just as the Trump scandal broke and drowned out the Wikileaks story.  Republicans are deserting Trump to the point where he may even be pressured to step down as the party's presidential nominee and let Mike Pence (!) take his place.
And to be fair, some of these excerpts from Hillary's speeches might help her more than hurt her.  Getting someone from Wall Street to police the financial sector may make perfect sense, as it proved  when President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Joseph P. Kennedy, father of the 35th President and a corrupt Wall Street speculator himself, to run the Securities and Exchange Commission - "It takes a crook to catch a crook," Roosevelt famously said - and Kennedy ended up doing a first-rate job.  Also, Hillary's sympathy toward single-payer health care may put her in good standing with some liberals who have previously viewed her with suspicion.  True, she admitted to being a moderate, but she's done that in public.  And while she's not a progressive, as she has sometimes claimed, she certainly looks like one comported to the reactionary Trump.
One good thing has come out of the Trump scandal: Hillary's victory in November is so well-assured, I can vote for Dr. Jill Stein in New Jersey, a state already safe for Hillary before the Trump story broke, without fear of helping to split the anti-Trump vote . . . although I think that theory is balderdash.  As for tonight's town-hall debate, well, it suddenly became required viewing; it'll be interesting to see how the candidates - Trump especially - react to all of this. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

No Turning Back

The world is finally doing something about climate change.  It's not much, but it's something.
And what a something it is!  The Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions has just gone into effect, with 55 nations joining in to ensure that it will go into force in early November.  While it can't exactly - okay, not even remotely - reverse carbon emissions, its efforts to keep mean global temperature increases  below 2 degrees Celsius and push it down to 1.5-degree-Celsius increase is encouraging, if only because it will highlight the necessity to move away from fossil fuels and more toward cleaner and renewable energy.  It's admittedlygoing to be a long process; people aren't going to give up their Chevy Suburbans for Nissan Leafs and VW e-Golfs overnight.
The deal requires any country that wished to get out of it to wait until November 2019 to do so.  So, even if Donald Trump does get elected President, he has to wait two years and ten months into his term to make good on his bad idea.  And lo and behold - November 2019 is a year before the next presidential election, and if President Trump tries to take the United States out of this deal, that just might prove to be politically disadvantageous for him.     
One thing Trump won't do if elected is bring coal back.  The market has spoken; coal is no longer cool.  More and more businesses that use coal in mass quantities, like power-generating companies,  are moving away from the dirty fuel in favor of more clean-burning natural gas.  Public Service Electric & Gas in New Jersey just announced the closing of its last two coal-fired power plants in the state.
Even corporations are committing themselves to a cleaner and greener energy future.  There is indeed no turning back.    

Friday, October 7, 2016

Music Video Of the Week - October 7, 2016

"Like a Hurricane" by Neil Young (Go to the link in the upper-right-hand corner.)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Scary Matthew

This infra-red image of Hurricane Matthew is making the rounds on the Internet.  It shows the hurricane, just south of Haiti, with a well-defined eye, the hurricane itself in the shape of a skull - and apparent wind shear producing a demonic smile to boot to produce a perfect "Day of the Dead"-type skull face! :-O
And here's a picture of some of the diabolical destruction Matthew caused in Haiti, without a doubt the most cursed nation on earth: 
It's not better in the Bahamas, I'm sure.  That country is feeling the force of Matthew, and it will soon wreak havoc on the entire Florida Atlantic coast as a major hurricane (possibly Category 4 status again!) before going on to ravage Georgia and South Carolina.  
The Global Forecast System (GFS) and Euro models haven't changed in the most recent runs.  Both show the storm moving away from the East Coast this weekend before going in a clockwise loop.  The GFS shows it passing through the Bahamas and Florida again as a lesser storm weakened by wind shear and then heading toward the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico; the Euro backs it up before it makes a full circle and sends it out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Whatever happens, it will not affect the Northeast, and Tropical Storm Nicole isn't going to have an impact on anything except Matthew itself.  Northeasterners shouldn't get too complacent, though.  The experts are calling are nineteen named storms overall in this 2016 season, with six hurricanes and four major ones - and there have been fourteen named storms so far, with five hurricanes, two of them major.   It's not over yet.  After all, Hurricane Sandy was the eighteenth storm of the 2012 season, and that storm hit the Northeast toward the end of October. :-O

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Matthew: Double Trouble

When the European weather model, delayed by an hour yesterday, showed Hurricane Matthew going around in a clockwise circle, first passing by Florida, going through the Bahamas a second time, and possibly making a direct hit on Miami next Friday (October 14), I was convinced that the Euro, which had kept insisting Matthew would not reach the Northeast by the weekend of October 8 and 9, had lost all credibility.
There's just one thing: The Global Forecast System and British Met Office service have models now dong the same thing.  Even the experts are astounded by this one.  Rather than show you images of the models here, I suggest that you go to and click on the forecast model page.  They can be animated to show movement.    
The reason for this is Tropical Storm Nicole, which formed just northeast of where Matthew is at this writing  and is preventing Matthew from going out to sea once it pulls away from the southeastern coast of the United States.  Matthew thus sticks around all of next week in and around the Bahamas and possibly affecting Florida again before finally moving out by October 14 or 15.  Nicole should stay out there long enough to ensure such an outcome.
So we in the Northeast can relax, right?  No, we can't!  No, we can't . . . because it could still come up the coast!  All right?  Here's the deal.  If, by the time Matthew is ready to pull away from the waters between Florida and the Bahamas, there's a dip in the jet stream that goes along the coast, the storm could theoretically ride up the coast and affect the Northeast, just as it was expected to only two days ago as of this writing.  We'd still get hit, just a week later than expected.  It's sort of like driving toward New York City on the helix overpass in Weehawken, New Jersey that leads to the Lincoln Tunnel, which goes under the Hudson River into the city.  A motorist or bus driver going east to the city has to turn ninety degrees to the right and go south along the Hudson before making two more ninety-degree turns to the right to get back on course and then enter the tunnel to get into Midtown Manhattan.  In its own journey to New York, Matthew could do the same thing off Florida. 
Right now, long-term weather models show Matthew avoiding the New York area after completing a circular run through the Bahamas, going farther north and then either heading out to sea in an easterly (Euro) or northeasterly (Global Forecast System) direction by October 16 or 17.  But that scenario is too far off to have any confidence in, and a track up the coast eleven or twelve days from now - or sooner, even - is still possible.  And even if Matthew doesn't affect us in the Northeast ultimately, it's still on course to hit the Bahamas twice and hit Florida twice.  Which goes to show you that Joe Queenan said it best when he said that it is not true that what doesn't kill you makes you u stronger . . . what doesn't kill you now will only kill you later.         

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Matthew The Monster

After wobbling back and forth for a week in figuring out where Hurricane Matthew is going to go, the major weather forecasting models are taking the storm closer to the U.S. East Coast and it's becoming more likely that it will affect the Northeast, where I live.  Wind speeds may be in the triple digits as late as Saturday, when it is expected to be off the coast of South Carolina - only six miles an hour short of "major" status (105 mph).
And here's where it's expected to be on Sunday afternoon, according to the 18z model run from the Global Forecast System:  
It shows the storm heading east from the Outer Banks of North Carolina but still drawing a lot of rain  into New Jersey.  A local weatherman in my area says that coastal and extreme southern areas of the state may see the worst possible impacts from the storm, but he is confident that it won't be worse than that.  We'll see.  The models have been wobbling back and forth so long, I'm getting headaches just trying to keep up with it.
But . . . many forecasters who thought that we in the Tri-State area would get off the hook are now changing their minds and expecting a storm that could be what our current Vice President would call "a big f---ing deal."   
I'm here to tell you that I may have to take a very long hiatus, like I did when Sandy hit.   I have a nasty feeling that Blackout Number 37 is coming, and it could be a long one.  No TV, no Internet, no opportunity to see the season premiere of "The Middle" . . . and if it's bad enough around here, I might miss my stamp club meeting this coming Monday.  I already miss a lot of meetings of my stamp club because I have to work often when they're held, but not on Columbus Day.   And of course there are far more serious problems that Matthew would cause that I don't even want to think about.
Very antsy these days. Sorry.      

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sunset For Florida Democrats

As noted here on this blog and elsewhere, Democrats have been getting their posteriors kicked - sometimes with the boots wedged in the orifices pretty darn good - in so many down-ballot races that one wonders why it is the Republicans who are marked for extinction.  And nowhere is the Democrats' trouble more obvious than the state of Florida.  Democrats in the Sunshine State are doing so poorly, it's a wonder President Obama won the state twice.  Because a lot of these losers can't even win once.

When Marco Rubio ruled out a run for a second term to the U.S. Senate to concentrate on the Presidency, Democratic prospects for a Senate seat pickup seemed assured . . . until Rubio reversed course and decided to run for another term after all after ending his presidential bid.  He's so far ahead of his Democratic opponent, U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy, in the polls that Democrats have stopped throwing money at the Murphy campaign and are throwing in the towel instead.  Which makes sense, considering Murphy's background; he's a former Republican who has received campaign contributions from an admitted felon, and his father and his family's business donated money to a super-PAC supporting him, under ethically dubious circumstances.
Did I happen to mention a bill Murphy co-sponsored in the House to help his family's business?  You can read all about it here.
Then there's that other former Republican, former governor Charlie Crist, who in 2014 proved to be as ineffective in running as a Democrat against Governor Rick Scott to get his old job back as he was when he ran for the Senate in 2010 as an independent.  Having lost the least loseable gubernatorial election in the 2014 midterm cycle, Crist is now running for the U.S. House of Representatives against Republican incumbent David Jolly, who in 2014 whopped Alex Sink in a special election for the seat (four years after Rick Scott whopped Alex Sink for the governorship).   Crist, in his new role as a professional candidate, showed how out of touch he is with his own would-be constituents by defending Hillary Clinton as someone who's honest and trustworthy during a debate with Jolly.  The audience erupted with laughter.
Then there is Representative Alan Grayson, who has been accused of spousal abuse by his ex-wife and recently lost as much as $18 million of his considerable fortune in an investment scam.  He gave up his House seat to run against Patrick Murphy, the Democratic establishment's choice for the U.S. Senate nomination, and, as you obviously have already figured out, lost. His new wife Dena Minning, whom he married this past May, ran in the Democratic primary for the House seat he gave up to run for the Senate.
She lost.
So did Tim Canova, a Bernie Sanders-type reformer, in his bid for the Democratic nomination for the seat of Florida's Twenty-Third U.S. House District.  The person who beat him?  Incumbent congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Who, as I understand it, is responsible for the many problems and disasters Democrats have had in Florida and elsewhere.
Florida Democrats, for all their efforts to stand tall and proud, are going down faster than the state itself, as sea levels rise.  An historical note: Florida was one of the first states in which the Whigs collapsed after that party's 1852 disaster.   
History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Caldwell, New Jersey's Disappearing Railroad Blues

Fifty years ago this past Friday, September 30, 1966, the Caldwell branch of the Erie Railroad in western Essex County, New Jersey, ended passenger rail service. As a result, the Essex County communities of Cedar Grove, Verona, Essex Fells, and Caldwell only had buses to Newark and New York for public transit.  At a time when other communities, like nearby Montclair, prize and cherish their passenger rail amenities - Montclair has six railway stations  - Caldwell and its West Essex neighbors have pretty much become autocentric communities; only the working poor ride the metropolitan New Jersey Transit buses.  The commuter bus to New York, DeCamp, isn't bad, but it takes an hour through heavy northern New Jersey traffic to get to and from Manhattan.
Caldwell was first connected to the Erie railroad network in 1891, and the line connected with the Erie's terminal in Jersey City, and then later Hoboken.  The line fed into what is now New Jersey Transit's Montclair-Boonton line, which, in addition to a connection to Hoboken, now has direct service to Penn Station in Manhattan.  You can understand why folks in West Essex must be kicking themselves now - commuter rail service is a strong selling point for any town, but Caldwell and its immediate neighbors no longer have it.
The Caldwell station sat between Mount Saint Dominic Academy, the girls' Catholic school on the campus of Caldwell College (now Caldwell University), and what is now a storefront along Bloomfield Avenue almost directly across from the Grover Cleveland Birthplace.  When the Erie and Lackawanna railroads merged, the new company reduced service to save money.  Both companies had been foundering thanks to competition from automobiles and buses; the merger was comparable to two drunks helping each other across the street.  The 1966 discontinuation of service was part of the Erie Lackawanna's plan to save money (alas, the railroad eventually went out of business anyway).  Freight rail continued on the track into the seventies until that was abandoned some time around 1976, and the rails were torn out in 1981.  The right of way west of Verona has since been built on, while the portion of the right of way between Verona and Cedar Grove is a nature trail.  A rail tunnel under Bloomfield Avenue was sealed off in 1997 when an intersection above was re-aligned, as if to make it clear that rail service to West Essex was dead for good.
I remember the Caldwell station, though it was hardly in the good condition depicted in the photo above (sarcasm).  It was a dilapidated, boarded up fire trap, with fading gray-blue paint and Ozzy Osbourne graffiti scrawled over it.  It was torn down all right, but it looked like it could have torn itself down.  It was sadder than sad to see it like that.  It was even sadder to think that the Caldwells' rich transportation heritage was just thrown away.  
Here's a great photo of the once-incredible diversity of Caldwell's transportation history.  This is Parsonage Bend, the point at which Bloomfield Avenue turns to the left going eastward to Verona and, ultimately, Newark.  A #29 trolley (replaced by buses on 1952) heads toward the center of town as the train heads east toward Verona and Cedar Grove.  The stone retaining wall in the photo is still there - behind it is a hill on which Lincoln Elementary School, my old grade school, sits - but everything else is gone.  The railroad tracks have been replaced by overgrowth. Another sad example of how passenger rail in the United States, including streetcars, got pushed aside in the name of "progress."   
Next time you hear an old white man complain about the America he remembers having disappeared, don't laugh at him.  Most likely, what I just showed you is the disappearing America he misses.
Below is Parsonage Bend today.  There's a lot to miss.    

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Hoboken Terminal Incident

I was saddened and sickened by the train crash at the New Jersey Transit in Hoboken, N.J., this past Thursday.  The engineer was apparently unable to slow down the train in time and caused the crash that took out a good deal of the pillars and roof of the terminal platform and went through a passenger concourse.  A couple of the rail cars were severely damaged as well.  One woman on the platform was killed an 114 passengers were injured; the engineer, slightly injured himself, is cooperating with investigators.
Like the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia in May 2015, this tragedy could have been stop with positive train control technology.  Why wasn't it available?  Why is is so difficult for this country to provide safe, efficient, quality passenger rail service?  And why do politicians keep giving it short shrift when it clearly is a benefit for our country and our economy?    
This is never going to end, as long as passenger trains are treated by the government like unwanted stepchildren.  I found it to be an all too appropriate coincidence when I realized that this accident occurred almost fifty years to the day after passenger rail service to where I live was ended, never to be reinstated.  I'll talk more about that in a different post. :-(  

Friday, September 30, 2016

Pictures From an Exhibition - The Laundress

As I type this, Hurricane Matthew is going full tilt boogie in the Caribbean Sea and it still has a chance of literally hitting me where I live, and I'm trying - with only a modicum of success - to get my mind off it.  So I thought that writing about a reception I attended earlier this month - at which I had one of the greatest moments of my life (I'll explain in a moment) - would help do that.
Stan Wan is a fashion photographer I met through my association with the many beautiful models I have connected with, and I consider him a friend.  So I was really pleased when he invited me to a reception for his exhibit of fashion photographs at, of all places, a boutique laundry-supply store.  The store, called The Laundress, is on Prince Street, just below Houston Street, in Lower  Manhattan, and though it was an odd place for a photography exhibit - imagine, conversely, buying laundry detergent at a museum - I still had a great time looking at Stan's fashion photos from Europe in the 1980s, which are very impressive.  His photos, many of which were taken in Paris, included photos of a short-haired model named Jennifer Linley Taylor,  a young Paulina Porizkova, and a somewhat more obscure model from the 1980s named Martha Longley, whom I recognized on sight.  Stan was surprised that I remembered her or even knew her name.  It's easy to remember a woman from the eighties named Martha, because back then there weren't too many women with that name. :-D  
As much fun as I had looking at Stan's photos, though, I had an equally fun time mingling with the other guests, including several of my friends from the modeling profession, who were there in full force - along with one model among my Facebook friends that I met in person for the first time. 
And here she is with me! :-D
Yes, that is the one and only Kim Alexis, the multifaceted fashion and beauty model who was the fancy of teenage boys all across America in the early 1980s - including me.  I had missed the chance to meet her before at one of Nancy Donahue's and Harry King's parties when Facebook lost my invitation to that particular soirĂ©e, but this time proved to be the charm.  When I got there, I saw Nancy Donahue outside the store and gave her a hug, and as I was looking over her shoulder, I noticed this drop-dead-gorgeous blonde woman standing behind her, and my first thought was, "Oh, my God . . . that's Kim Alexis!"  :-D
Anyway, Kim Alexis, in addition to still being gorgeous, is a very sweet and engaging woman, and I had the opportunity to talk to her - as in a real conversation - and I told her about my writing career, while she told me about how she'd just moved after having lived out west for awhile.  She now lives in Manhattan; I imagine I'll be seeing her again, particularly at one of Nancy and Harry's parties.
I think Stan himself took this photo of us, though Nancy definitely took this photo of Kim and me with Stan. :-)
And Nancy and Kim, who modeled together a lot together in the early eighties, haven't lost their ability to make hearts melt, as evidenced below. :-)  (Disclaimer: I did not take this picture.)
I also saw Alva Chinn, who remains a dear friend as always, at the exhibit, and our mutual friend Fred DeVito got this picture of the two of us together, below. Thanks, Fred! :-)  I always enjoy posing with her.
And here I am, below. with both Kim and Alva, along with Barbara Camp, an interior designer who's also designed sets for fashion shoots, I'm led to understand.   The person who took this pic caught Fred taking a picture of the same scene! :-D 
I also met another veteran model whom I'm friends with, Yasmine Guenancia, whose husband co-owns Cafe Un Deux Trois at 123 (get it?) West 44th Street, but I didn't get my picture taken with her.  But it was great seeing her, as she's always been very sweet to me. :-) 
So yes, it was a great night, and it was a wonderful experience.  Wonderful experiences are hard for me to come by these days, so I'm glad I went.  And if you hurry, you can see Stan's photos at The Laundress, at 199 Prince Street in New York, if you live in the Tri-State area.  :-) 

Music Video Of the Week - September 30, 2016

"Last Train To Clarksville" by the Monkees (Go to the link in the upper-right-hand corner.)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Martin O'Malley: Why Is This Man Still a Democrat?

Have you seen this man?
Former Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley has dropped off the radar screen since he was last seen asking Lester Holt for thirty seconds, but he hasn't been inactive.  He's been going to small colleges and a couple of the larger land-grant schools campaigning for Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that Hillary and her minions likely don't appreciate his efforts.  Why should they?  After all, they dissed him during the primary campaign,  they haven't invited him to join the nominee at any rallies (unlike Bernie Sanders), and they probably think they could win this thing without him.
And yet O'Malley campaigns vigorously for her as if all that stuff he said about her in the primary race had all been meaningless hyperbole.  He's actually being nice to her.  Consider what he said in a recent e-mail to his onetime supporters, sent just before the first presidential debate in the general election campaign:
"In the Democratic primary, I stood on the debate stage with Hillary Clinton. We didn't agree on every issue, but I can tell you this: she is tough as nails. She is also the only candidate in this race who understands the big and bold actions our next President will have to take to build on President Obama's legacy. Whether it's confronting climate change, reforming our inhumane immigration system, or taking on economic inequality, she is the clear, progressive choice in this campaign."
What a classy guy.
I know, I know - if you genuinely feared Donald Trump, as O'Malley does, you'd be out campaigning for a woman who disrespects you, too.  And I hope that Trump is the only reason O'Malley is fighting hard for the Clinton-Kaine ticket.  Because I wouldn't want to think that he believes that his efforts in the fall race will help him in a possible second try for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 or 2024.  Or that Hillary may be thinking of naming him Democratic Party chair if she wins.
Here's the deal.  Martin O'Malley is a loyal Democrat.  He's given his political life to the party.  But I don't think anyone in the party, never mind just Hillary's minions, appreciates him.  I don't think anyone in the party even likes him.  Not only was he scoffed at by Hillary, he was also dismissed by the campaign of Bernie Sanders (who isn't really even a Democrat), Debbie Wasserman Schultz - now out of the party chairmanship but still an honorary chair of Hillary's campaign - obviously can't stand him, and many rank-and-file Democrats don't even seem to either to know or care who he is.
If I may slip into second-person mode for a moment or two . . .  Martin, why are you even in this party?  If you left tomorrow, no one would miss you.  You've been treated so badly, your campaign for President was rigged to fail, and when you spoke at the Democratic convention, you got seven minutes in a terrible TV time slot.  Can't you take a hint?  Oh, I know that a couple of folks in the party are pulling for you to become the next Democratic chairman.  But will Hillary nominate for that post someone with your negative baggage - especially since she was the one who dumped it on you?  And here's something Michael Barone noted about the Democrats; the party is so wrapped up in identity politics that they'll never give a guy like you a fair shot for the White House in the future whether Hillary wins or loses.  "One lesson of recent presidential primaries," Barone recently wrote, "is that Democratic voters are transfixed by identity politics, having elected the first black president and chosen the first female presidential nominee . . .. What they haven't been interested in is cisgendered white male liberals. The largely forgotten John Edwards fell by the wayside quickly in 2008, and Martin O'Malley, with credentials similar to those of Bill Clinton and Michael Dukakis, attracted zero support in 2016."
Martin, you were marginalized long ago.  When you said you were getting your door-knocking shoes ready to campaign for the Democratic ticket, I thought you meant it literally.   But then, going out and giving speeches for Hillary in obscure schools like East Carolina University and Grinnell College is the same thing as going door to door in some suburban neighborhood out in the Midwest.    
Dear readers, I think it's time for an intervention.  Martin O'Malley needs to be convinced that he can't go on in this abusive relationship with the Democratic Party, and that he should walk away from it and help found a new liberal opposition party.  He should leave the party repeating to himself, "I will not be a victim!"  Let's let him campaign for Hillary through November, though, because he clearly believes that Donald Trump should never get into the White House (no argument here), and he believes with equal clarity that giving his all to help Hillary is the best and only thing he can do to stop Trump.  But once the race is over, no matter who wins, Martin should tell the Democratic Party that he wants to start seeing other people.

Correction: September 29, 2016

The times I gave for the model charts of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Matthew I showed were an hour off.  I based the times on a six-hour time difference between the Eastern Time Zone and Greenwich Mean Time, the standard used by these various international forecasting services, but it is five hours, not six.  The original post has since been corrected.  I regret the error.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Gospel According To Matthew

Oh, great - the American Northeast could get a hurricane that makes Sandy look like a nuisance drizzle.
Tropical Storm Matthew formed in the Caribbean Sea today - jumping from invest status to tropical storm status without the usual interval of being a tropical depression - and could - no, will - be a Category 1 hurricane by Friday and could possibly be a Category 2 hurricane by Monday as it approaches Cuba.  After that, where it goes is anyone's guess, but the guessing so far seems to favor a track toward the north and toward the East Coast.  Some weather charts show Matthew possibly affecting the Gulf Coast, but that seems to be the minority opinion.
Last night the Global Forecast System (GFS) computer model had a scenario that turned the storm a hard ninety degrees to the right from its westerly path and brought it charging full tilt boogie to the Tri-State area.  I and a lot of people commenting on the Facebook weather started freaking out.   Then the GFS issued this model this after noon for 1:00 A.M. Eastern time, on October 7:
This is actually an improvement over the previous model.  Note that the storm brings rain to New York and New Jersey but its center stays off shore.  The earlier model had Matthew going inland through Pennsylvania and western New Jersey.  And here's where GFS projects Matthew will be at noon Eastern time, just twelve hours later.  
By 1:00 A.M. Eastern time, or 2:00 P.M. Atlantic time, Saturday, October 8, it's in the Bay of Fundy in the Canadian Maritimes.
But wait!  Here's where the European model shows the storm at 7:00 A.M. Eastern time - off the coast of Florida!  Nowhere near the Bay of Fundy.  Also, in this scenario, Matthew is depicted to be stronger and better defined than the GFS models show it at the same point on the map.  And when does the GFS show Matthew near Florida?  Four days earlier - Tuesday, October 4. and with less strength and (relatively) lighter winds.  Also, the Euro shows it farther east at this point on the map than the GFS does, suggesting it may move out to sea and not even come close to land.
There's a reason why weather forecasters say that you shouldn't confuse models with forecasts and why any computer-generated scenario ten or more days in advance should be taken with a grain of salt.  That said, I am not very comfortable about this.  As long as the chance of a direct hit exists, Matthew is going to keep me up at night as it progresses until we know where it's going.  And then, if it is expected to target the Northeast, I'll really be insomnia-prone, given the number of electrical blackouts we've had since November 2009!
Given the October 2012 appearance of Sandy and the various October storms we've had in my neck of the woods since then, I am convinced that the tenth month of the year has become something to dread for reasons other than ghouls, goblins, and just-add-water protests against Columbus Day - guys, if you don't want a holiday for Columbus, or if you want to call it a federal bank holiday so at least bank tellers, law clerks, and mail carriers still get the second Monday in October off, just do something about it!  October, thanks no doubt to climate change and longer peak periods during hurricane season, is becoming stormier than March.  And to those who think Mathew is all hype - oh, ye of too much faith.
Oh yeah, the last tine I talked about electrical blackouts, I said we'd had 34 of them since November 2009.  Turns out I undercounted - it's 36, not 34! :-O 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

One Man, One Woman, One Vote

The fundamental concept pf American democracy is that everyone is equal at the ballot box - one man, one woman, one vote.  The two-party duopoly that runs this country interprets that phrase somewhat differently from the way it's supposed to be interpreted.
As far as the Republicans and the Democrats are concerned, every American has one vote, but that one vote can only be cast for either one man . . .
. . . or one woman.
At least ten percent of the electorate are having none of that.  That's why one out of ten us will either vote for another man . . . 
. . . or another woman.
Oh - was there a presidential debate last night?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Regarding the National Museum Of African American History And Culture

Let me say at this moment, right here and right now, that I support the National Museum Of African American History And Culture.  I truly believe that black Americans should have a museum to tell the story of their role in American history, and yes, the museum is not just for black Americans, it's for all Americans.  So let's get that straight.  I am not some dumb-ass honky who thinks there should not be a national black history museum.  I'll be sure to go and see it the next time I'm in Washington.
But the building . . .
I mean, it's so ugly!
I'm sorry!  It looks like a stack of in-and-out-boxes without the legs between them!  Or a stack of rusty lasagna trays!  What was the architect, the black architect Philip Freelon, thinking? A white architect, designing a building just like this for, say, a museum of Italian-American history - well, I did say it looked like a stack of rusty lasagna trays! - would be just as wrongheaded to come up with such a design! How many tourists, ten years from now or even ten weeks from now, will visit this museum, look at the exterior, and think it's scaffolding?  Well, until recently, it certainly complemented the Capitol.  
Freelon apparently sought to provide a contrast to the marble and granite buildings along Washington's National Mall.  Well, he undoubtedly succeeded.  But may I ask why we need a building to contrast the classical architecture of downtown Washington?  And why not have a black history museum that's yet another example of classical architecture?  Because the whole point of classical architecture or classical anything is that it stands the test of time! But a building like this . . . well, I'm going to stop there.
Except to say that I've seen worse-looking museums, none of which have anything to do with black history.  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

More Model Misbehavior

You may not have heard of Helen Selby.  But you've most likely seen her before.
Yes, she was the Asian-American spokesmodel for L'eggs pantyhose in the early 1980s.  A model and an actress, she was chosen for her ethnicity to promote L'eggs' "Sheer Elegance" line for the similarity of its feel to "silk from the Orient," a politically incorrect sales pitch today.
Now, you're probably wondering why I'm telling you about Helen Selby on my regular blog and not on my beautiful women picture blog.  Uh, yeah, that's the thing . . . I just discovered that she was one of the recipients of Bill Cosby's sexual advances.
"Oh, no," I gasped when I read about this online, "not Helen Selby too!"  But it's true.  In February 2015, Helen Selby - who had since gotten married and is now Helen Gumpel - told a group of reporters in Boston that, after playing a one-shot role on "The Cosby Show" in 1987, she was called back to the set of the sitcom and returned thinking that Cosby wanted to audition her again, presumably for another episode.  In fact, he wanted her to do an audition of a much different sort.  She was taken to Cosby’s dressing room, where Cosby handed her a drink and stood in front of her with his crotch in her face.
"I never thought of myself as a victim because I refused his advances," Mrs. Gumpel said of Cosby's obscene behavior. "But my career was a victim."
Fortunately, it was then Cosby's turn to see his career get victimized.  As soon as Mrs. Gumpel made those charges, Cosby was forced to cancel two successive appearances at a Boston theater.  He said it had nothing to do with Mrs. Gumpel's charges but instead was due to a winter storm expected to dump two feet of snow on the Boston area.  Oh, how convenient - but then, maybe Mother Nature isn't a Cosby fan.  In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who is a Cosby fan these days. 
As for the three charges of sexual assault against him from Andrea Constand that finally brought him before a magistrate this past December . . . well, here's where it stands.  A judge in Pennsylvania, where the Constand incident allegedly took place, ruled in May 2016 that the case can go to trial.  Cosby, free on $1 million bail, is to go on trial next June (June 2017); if convicted on all three charges, he could spend ten years in prison on all three charges concurrently or thirty years, ten for each charge, consecutively. (At 79 and reportedly blind as a result of a degenerative eye disease, Cosby may get a suspended sentence.)  Meanwhile, Cosby filed a motion to have his lawsuit against Beverly Johnson over her sexual-assault accusations dismissed so he could concentrate on his defense in the Constand case.
With so many women - 59, according to Wikipedia - having charged Cosby with rape and sexual assault, a prosecuting attorney would have to be ten times worse than Marcia Clark to fail to get a conviction in the Constand case. He's already been tried in the court of public opinion and found guilty; you can't find any of his old TV shows in syndication, you likely can't find any of his movies on video, and, assuming the recording industry still prints old comedy albums on CD, you're not going to find Cosby's comedy albums in a record store.  That's assuming you can find a record store, which is probably easier to find than anyone who believes that Cosby is innocent.  Apart from his wife or former "The Cosby Show" cast members, that is.  (Not to mention Kanye West as well.)  Meanwhile, at least fifteen of his 57 honorary degrees - including one from my alma mater, Drew University - have been rescinded.  His planned new sitcom for NBC was scrapped in November 2014, and the Creative Artists Agency dropped him as a client at about the same time.  It's as if he never existed.  
Bill Cosby is, in fact, what George Orwell described in "1984" as an "unperson."