Friday, September 23, 2022

Music Video Of the Week - September 23, 2022

"Subdivisions" by Rush  (Go to the link in the upper-right-hand corner.)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Twenty Years Of This Blog

Yesterday marked the twentieth anniversary of this blog.

I've commented on a lot of issues and topics of this blog, and it's most notable for a voice - mine - you can't find anywhere else.  I hope t keep it going for another twenty years.

I'd like to comment on something right now, but I think I'll take it easy today.  Cheers! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

If the Suit Fits . . .

 I want to kiss Letitia James.

And it's not because I'm an interracially inclined white male (which I am), or because I have a thing for Brooklyn women (I have a thing for all sorts of women, where they're from Brooklyn or not).  No, I want to kiss the New York State Attorney General because she just sued Donald Trump and three of his four adult children (Tiffany, honey, you're the smartest of the lot!) for committing real estate fraud by inflating the values of the Trump Organization's properties to get more favorable loan and insurance deals and get tax breaks for the government.  Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg is also named in the suit.

James demanded in her civil suit on behalf of the State of New York that Trump pay $250 million, a quarter of a billion (which he can afford; I mean, he's billionaire, right? 😉) to the state, and she hopes to bar Trump from acquiring New York real estate, bar the Trumps from serving as corporate officers of any established company in New York,and permanently ban the Donald's companies from doing business in New York State.

An example of Trump inflating the value of his properties is 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan (below), which was worth $220 million in 2013 but was claimed by the Trump Organization to be worth $530 million.  THis is one of many facts James and her office found out over an investigation lasting three years.

Trump, his family, and his supporters will claim that this is all political, given that James is a Democrat holding elective office and that Trump is deeply unpopular in his native state.  And if New Jersey attorney General Matthew Platkin, who is not elected by serves at the pleasure of Governor Murphy, were to file a similar suit, Trump would dismiss that as political because Murphy is a Democrat.  But maybe the state of New jersey should look into Trump's dealings in a state he obviously considers New York City's sixth borough.  Trump has a record of activity going back decades that, in addition to his Bedminster golf course, includes foul play involving his casinos in Atlantic City and a high-rise senior apartment in East Orange, perpetrated not just by Donald but his father Fred and his siblings.  You can read all about it here.

I'm sure Donald Trump will want to kiss Letitia James, too - if he gets COVID again.  And he'll just say it's the flu. 😠 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

O'Malley 2024?

President Biden said something eye-opening on this past Sunday's edition of "60 Minutes" - and it wasn't that the pandemic is over, which everyone knows is a crock.  He said that while he intends to run for re-election in 2024, he hasn't decided yet on whether to run because circumstances may change and force him to reconsider.

In other words, the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination could be there for the taking by any Democrat who wants to go for it.

Which brings me back - as always - to the subject of Martin O'Malley.

One would likely conclude that Martin O'Malley has retired from politics for good.  He himself said in 2019 that he thought his moment as a presidential contender had come and gone, his endorsement of Beto O'Rourke for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination was spectacularly ill-advised (as O'Rourke withdrew as a candidate before the year 2020 even started), he did nothing to promote the eventual Biden-Harris ticket (an absence that COVID didn't excuse), his inaction for the Democrats meant that Biden passed him over for Cabinet and ambassadorial posts, and his work for his wife Katie's bid for the Democratic nomination for Maryland Attorney General yielded more failure.  O'Malley hasn't tweeted anything on his Twitter account since Katie - whom one aide to a member of the Maryland state legislature compared to Hitler for her civil rights record - lost her primary.

But even O'Malley would tell you that you have to be at your lowest ebb before you can get to a better place.  Or as that great theologian Steve Miller once said, you know you've got to go through hell before you get to heaven.

If Biden decides not to run, O'Malley is in a perfect position for a comeback.  He still has his impeccable record  as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.  His time in public office is so far back in the past that controversies over his handling of crime in Baltimore will seem trivial compared to everything this country has been through in the past seven years.  Derided as a centrist, many of his policies, from support of public education to promoting mass transit and combating climate change, would certainly appeal to progressives.  And at a time when Republican governors are exploiting the migrant crisis for political gain and apparently getting away with it, we could use O'Malley's voice on immigration, his signature issue in the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign and an issue he remains passionate about.  (His current silence on Twitter during the busing of migrants to northern cities is dismaying.)

Are there liabilities against O'Malley?  Sure.  Many black people still think he's racist for having so many black Baltimoreans arrested for minor offenses when he was mayor of Baltimore.  Republican rumors of his alleged infidelity to Katie and her alleged attempts to bump off his alleged mistress are bound to get new life if O'Malley is the Democratic nominee and his opponent is Donald Trump.  (Trump did in fact repeat those rumors about O'Malley in 2015, but no one cared about the rumors because no one cared about O'Malley.)  O'Malley is also rusty as a campaigner.  If he were still sharp, Katie would be the Democratic nominee for Maryland Attorney General now (her husband's lieutenant governor, current U.S. Representative Anthony Brown, is).  But in looking at the other prospective stand-ins for Biden in 2024, I don't see anyone who could defeat Trump, Ron DeSantis or any other MAGA men.  Bernie Sanders is too old, Pete Buttigieg is too young, Kamala Harris is too unpopular, Jay Inslee is too anonymous, and Gavin Newsom is too . . . California. 

Why Martin O'Malley?  Why not?
I am currently planning a gambit to execute in November, after the 2022 midterms, in an effort to promote an O'Malley presidential candidacy should Biden stand down after one term.  I'm waiting to see how the midterms turn out (Herschel Walker is still competitive for the U.S. Senate in Georgia?) before I go ahead with it. What is it?  Sorry, I'm not going to tell you until after I've done it.  Only one other person, my friend Clarisel, knows what I'm going to do, and she ain't talkin'.

And to those who laugh at me for being a once and possibly future O'Malley supporter, just as they all laughed at O'Malley himself . . . let's see who has the last laugh.  To those sympathetic to my intentions . . . remember, keep your Pop-Tarts on standby. 😉

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Climate Is Still Changing

Given the calm weather the Northeast has been having of late and the return of normal weather to Europe in time for fall, a lot of people might think that climate change is not as bad as once feared. Actually, it's worse. The drought in the West is deepening, California is still burning, a third of Pakistan is flooded, and Alaska is getting the remnants of a typhoon that are causing more problems up there than the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused in New Jersey in 2021.  

"But Steve," you might ask, "look at the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season! Only three named storms before early July, then nothing, then three named storms in September!  At this time in 2020 we had had 21 named storms!"

Yes, but the last three storms have all been hurricanes.  And while none of these hurricanes have been major (Category 3 or higher) and two have been so-called fish storms, not affecting land, the third September storm, Hurricane Fiona, just laid waste to Puerto Rico and caused a huge power outage.

"Well," you might ask, "how many people on the island have lost power?"

How many people are there on the island?

"No, Steve," you're probably asking, "I'm asking how many people on the island have lost power."

And I'm asking how many people are there on the island!

"Oh, quit pussyfooting around," you're probably asking, "and just tell me - How many people on the island of Puerto Rico have lost power?"

All of 'em, boy!

Just be glad Trump is no longer President.  He'd be throwing them paper towels.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Immigration Man

A couple of border-state Republican governors have been sending migrants to Democratic-run sanctuary cities in the northern United States, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida - which is not a border state unless you consider its tenuous proximity to the Bahamas or Cuba - went them one better by sending migrants to Martha's Vineyard in a deliberate attempt to instigate the most embarrassing incident to happen to the Democratic Party in Dukes County, Massachusetts since Ted Kennedy made a wrong turn and drove his Oldsmobile into a pond and swam away with a young lady still in the car.

DeSantis, running for re-election as governor of Florida in November, wanted to show up the liberal elite who live and vacation in Martha's Vineyard (and, of course, Chappaquiddick) by giving them a taste of what states on the southern tier of the country have to deal with on more regular basis.  He made a few strategic errors, however.  First of all, most if not all of the migrants he sent to Martha's Vineyard were Venezuelan; they'd been escaping the left-wing dictatorship of President Nicolas Maduro, whom Republicans hate with a cold passion.  Many Republicans happily welcome Venezuelan immigrants to this country to show up Maduro.  What would DeSantis have done if he couldn't send them elsewhere in the United States, send them back to Venezuela?  Send them back to live under the very sort of left-wing socialist government he despises?   Second, the people of Martha's Vineyard were happy to receive these migrants, because people on the island have a history of welcoming outsiders.  It's why many black families have vacationed there for decades, in fact.  They gave the migrants a warmer welcome that they would have gotten if they'd stayed in Florida.  Third, DeSantis sent them there under false pretenses, promising them "work opportunities, schooling for their children, and immigration assistance – in order to induce them to travel," according to Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based lawyers' group, which is calling for DeStanis to be criminally investigated.

Alas, none of that matters. DeSantis achieved exactly what he wanted - to make Americans stop talking about abortion and voting rights and start talking about immigration, an issue that Democrats are trusted in handling well as much as an elephant can be trusted to bring you a bag of peanuts.  The Republican elephant just motivated the peanut gallery to come out and vote in November  - not just for DeSantis in Florida but for Trumpist candidates in other states.  

Democrats somehow thought that they could play Republicans over the loss of fundamental reproductive rights, but given that immigration has been an issue for longer than the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision on abortion has been, they forgot one thing in taking on the Republicans - you can't play a player.  

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Master of Bullsh**

Donald Trump, somehow, inexplicably (unless you ever heard of the words transactional favor) convinced a judge he appointed in the lame-duck period of his Presidency that a special master ought to look at the government documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago to ensure that they are all classified documents that the government is entitled to have.  The judge doesn't even think they really are classified. 

Trump got exactly what he wanted.  The presumptive special master, retired federal judge Raymond Dearie, is thought to be a man of principle and diligence who will play far to both Trump and the Justice Department.  He's also known for examining documents very slowly,  the judicial equivalent of a secretary who types up letters with one finger.  The Justice Department is now weighing a potential appeal of the special-master ruling and may, by appealing, delay their investigation of Trump more than it already is.  Which is how Trump gets away with everything - slow the legal process down until public investigators simply throw up their hands.

And if the Justice Department does have plans to indict Trump, he's hinted that very bad things will happen.  That is, his supporters will raid the Capitol again and possibly lynch the House and Senate Democratic leadership.

The Justice Department won't indict Trump, of course - not because they're afraid of opening a Pandora's box but because Trump has successfully prevented them from building a case against him. 

I never thought that a vulgar New York real estate developer promoted by gossip columnists would be the avatar of America's downfall. 😠

Friday, September 16, 2022

Music Video Of the Week - September 16, 2022

 "Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)" by the Hollies  (Go to the link in the upper-right-hand corner.)

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Man Who Is King

What for a King will Charles III make?

The new king of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as the leader of the union, has to respect the role of the government and find new ways to promote his causes - King Charles III is well known and greatly renowned for his environmentalist views and his expertise in urban planning - without getting involved into politics.  He also has to pacify the nationalists stirrings of the Scots and the Welsh as those two peoples seek independence for their homelands, even as he promises a sense of stability and continuity.  His mother did all of that very well; Charles has yet to prove he can do that.  

Charles needs to reassure the British people that he can serve as a symbol of unity and a common identity at a time when Britons feel less sure of themselves than they did even in the lowest ebbs of Queen Elizabeth II's reign.  The British economy is foundering, Prime Minister Liz Truss is distrusted by half the electorate, and the populace is still trying to figure out what it means to be British in a period after Brexit and during growing discontent with the whole idea of a monarchy - not just in Britain itself but in that free association of mostly ex-British colonies with their onetime mother country known as the Commonwealth, which Charles now heads. Meant to promote peace and freedom among its members and maintain strong ties with Great Britain, the Commonwealth shows some signs of fracture, most notably with many countries wanting to sever their direct ties to the Crown.  Barbados became a republic and ended the role of the British monarch as its head of state, and other countries like Jamaica and Australia are looking into the idea.  (Canada will likely remain a realm of the Crown, which makes sense - the only model Canadians have for a republic is us.)  Not to put too fine a point on it, but Charles has to make Britain feel whole again.   

As king, Charles III is going to have to do more to keep the monarchy together than just cut ribbons and open Parliament.  He does have the skills to serve the United Kingdom the way his mother did - he has strong ties to Scotland, he respects the traditions of the state, and he is probably more knowledgeable about how society works than any monarch who preceded him except for Elizabeth II herself.  At the least, no one should expect the 73-year-old Charles to command the same reverence that his mother did; Elizabeth was an ideal matriarch who connected with her subjects with aplomb and was well-liked.  At the most, Charles' age will allow the royal family to take a breather and take stock of itself as it prepares for the immediate and extended future.  For a constitutional monarch's assumption of the throne at an advanced age after a predecessor's long reign produces the same conditions the Vatican seeks in choosing a pope - the pope essentially being a priest-king - who is old and is not likely to last too long after a predecessor's very long pontificate.   He is to be a caretaker leader who keeps his realm going long enough before a younger successor can rejuvenate it with vigor.  The best example of this is The accession of King George V in 1910 following the sedate period of the nineteen zeroes - known as the Edwardian era in honor of George's father, King Edward VII, who reigned from 1901 to 1910 - is an example of that.  Edward has been a caretaker king after his moer Victoria's long reign.

Britons may already be looking past the new Carolean age and to the Gulielean era - that of the future king, Prince William.

This 1998 painting of members of the British royal family surrounding the Queen Mother, with William strategically positioned to loom large over other family members, especially his father - pretty much sums things up. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Hiatus

Since Labor Day weekend, I've been plagued by personal problems I cannot explain here for the sake of privacy.  I persevered posting on this blog for as long as I could, but when it became apparent that what started out as a terrible weekend would not just grow into a terrible week but likely a terrible two-week period - or "fortnight," "as the Brits call it - I decided it was too much.  I'm taking a break from this blog, and I am probably going to stay off until this Thursday (September 15), at least.

I need to clear my head and possible a few other things in my life.  I feel exhausted even as I type this.  Don't worry, I'll be back in time for a new Music Video Of the Week, as well as extended commentary on the transition from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III.  (Not to mention Mar-a-Lago, so I won't!)

Take care for now . . .  

Sunday, September 11, 2022

A Quarter Decade of COVID

 It was two and a half years ago today that the World Health Organization declared COVID to be a pandemic.  Even though the pandemic continues, case numbers have decreased enough to make people think it's over, or at least that the worst is over.  Don't you believe it.

In the United States, people are still dying at a rate of about 350 to 400 a day, many parts of the country are in "high" contagion zones, and anyone who doesn't wear a face covering in an indoor public space - i.e., most of us - is asking for trouble.

That includes the World Trade Center in New York, the original version of which was also destroyed 21 years ago today.


I still haven't resumed going to indoor public spaces for non-essential purposes, except my local stamp club meeting.  I still won't go to museums, I still won't go to movie theaters (hence, I refuse to go to the Montclair FIlm Festival in New Jersey, an event I once looked forward to) and I still won't go to auto shows, which suck nowadays anyway. 

Socializing?  Going out for fun?  With very few exceptions, all of that is O-U-T spells "out."  I remain indifferent and uninterested in pre-COVID public indoor activities as ever, and I still have no interest in looking forward to anything, as I originally declared back in March 2022.  COVID is far from over, but I am done with pretty much everything. Sure, I'll get an Omicron booster, now that they're out,  but I know it won't be a game changer like so many other vaccines, boosters, and treatments were supposed to be.  As always, the only way to stay alive is to . . . stop living.

Wake me when the pandemic is over.  See you 'round the clubs! 😠 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Accession

The Queen is dead!

Long . . . live . . . the King.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Music Video Of the Week - September 9, 2022

"What Do All the People Know" by the Monroes  (Go to the link in the upper-right-hand corner.)

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The Last Soviet

Mikhail Gorbachev, who died last week at age 91, was the last president of the Soviet Union before he dissolved the federation in 1991, the once-great union of fifteen ethnic homelands no longer held together by force and the constituent states known ironically as "republics" free to go on their own.

Gorbachev is almost single-handedly credited with ending the Cold War, but it's important to remember that he spent most of the six years he led the Soviet Union trying to reform and restructure the system so that the union would stay together.  No one at the Kremlin asked any of the constituent republics what they thought of their subservient place to the dominant Russian power bloc in the Soviet government.  Lithuania didn't bother to wait to be asked.  It went ahead with secession, and the other Baltic States followed.  It was under Gorbachev that the Red Army tried to crack down on Lithuanian nationalists in January 1991.  Gorbachev wanted to end the COld War, all right, but with the Soviet Union still in place and with the Russians still in control of it.  (Joseph Stalin, a Georgian, was the only Soviet leader who was neither Russian or Ukrainian, and that was largely through the pure force of his brutal personality.)

So let's give Gorbachev credit for bringing  the threat of superpower nuclear annihilation and the era of mutually assured destruction to a close, and I'll even spot him a role in the reunification of Germany, but there's only one man who can be given credit for the liberation of Eastern Europe that ended the Cold War, and it's this great leader. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

And Now, An Appeal On Behalf Of the National Truss

Mary Elizabeth ("Call me Liz") Truss, the British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Tory Cabinet, has succeeded ol' Mophead as Prime Minister of Great Britain and as the leader of the Conservative Party.

Already, she's raising many a skeptical eyebrow with her plans - such as they are - for Great Britain. She wants to reduce taxes and also streamline and reduce the size of government - sound familiar (watch yer bloody National Health!)? - and her positions on Brexit, Commonwealth relations, energy policy, and several other groovy things are . . . based on what time it is.

Truss is infamous in Britain for being for something before she's against it, and vice versa.  She wants to be like noted Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, her idol (trouble!), but the strength of her positions doesn't reach that of her name.  Exactly what she does about Britain's high energy costs, weakening pound, and economic malaise depends a lot on . . . what you time you ask her, apparently.

Note to American feminists: The fact that Britain has its third female Prime Minister in 43 years while the U.S. can't even elect a first female President isn't necessarily something you should be jealous of the Brits for.  because none of these ladies have been from Labour.    

Oh, crikey, this is going to be interesting.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Master of Deception

Donald Trump is very good at getting people to pay attention to him.  He's also good at getting people to believe him.  He was just able to convince a federal judge - a judge who probably didn't need much convincing, since he appointed her himself - to grant a special master to look at the documents the FBI retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, slowing down the Justice Department's investigation of the matter and possibly stopping it altogether.   And at his first rally since his house-cum-resort was searched, he managed to convince his supporters of other insistences.

He convinced them that President Biden is the true enemy of the state, calling his September 1 address "vicious, hateful, and divisive," before saying vicious, hateful, and divisive things about the FBI and the Justice Department.  Trump has also called for his own reinstatement into the Presidency.

When President Biden called Trump supporters "semi-fascists," many mainstream Republicans and even some centrist Democrats thought he'd gone too far.  Then Trump, at his Pennsylvnaia rally, featured as a special guest a woman who runs a support group and raises legal-defense funds for January 6 insurrectionists.  She's trying to get "justice" for her nephew who took part in the insurrection and who dresses like Hitler to show his admiration for the Fuhrer.  He was convicted on his cations in May, and he'll be sentenced later this month.
U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Ca), a member of the January 6 select committee, said it best.  "Being a supporter of Adolf Hitler does put you in the Fascist category; there is no semi about it. I do think this is troubling."
Some people think that Biden set a trap for Trump by goading the one-time New York real estate developer into proving Biden's point that MAGA Republicans are dangerously extreme and extremely dangerous.  I don't think Biden is that clever. But Trump has shown his eagerness to be part of the nation's current political debate, much to the chagrin of Republicans who wish in vain that he would go away.   

Monday, September 5, 2022

A Rap About Music

A friend of mine posted a link to this article from the Web Site Intellectual Takeout, dated August 16, 2018 (the day Aretha Franklin died), on her Facebook account, which explains that the decline of music education in our schools led to the decline of musical literacy,  One of her friends, a man I don't know whom I will refer to by his Cyrillic initials - ДФ - dismissed the article as elitist and the author, Jon Henschen, as someone intolerant of the music this generation is producing.  I told  ДФ that I agreed with the gist of Henschen's article, dismissing today's music - including rap - as noise.
Then ДФ called me a racist for dismissing a musical form created primarily by racial and ethnic minorities.
ДФ is one of those people I can't stand - a PC thought policeman who cannot tolerate opinions that don't conform with his "enlightened" world view and will not allow anyone to express said opinions because they must be based on bigotry and cultural bias, not empirical evidence and taste.  ДФ is one of those people who feels a need to stand up for rap because blacks invented it and because you don't like it, he thinks you must like Lawrence Welk or Pat Boone.  ДФ even compared calling rap "non-music" to those who dismissed jazz a hundred years ago.
Once again, I have to say . . .

You know, the Republic can take one Renée Graham.  But this country has hundreds of thousands of them.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Jackson Mess

Jackson, Mississippi's capital and most populous city, is suffering a water crisis brought on by the flooding of the Pearl River that overwhelmed its water treatment system, but the disinvestment in Jackson's infrastructure has been a problem that has been worsening for decades.  Water is running in Jackson once again but it's unconsumable.

The lack of investment in black-majority Jackson is mainly due to white flight and the lack of, as the late Detroit mayor Coleman Young would put it, "plain damn money."  Jackson doesn't have enough of it, and the state can't be bothered to bail it out.  But much of the country doesn't care that Jacksonians have to rely on bottled water just to bathe when, meanwhile in Florida, everyone is really, really excited about the coming launch of the Artemis rocket that will test our ability to return to the moon (a launch that, as of this writing, has been delayed a second time).

NASA wants to go back to the moon and look at the possibility of water at the moon's south pole.  Excuse me? How about focusing on the finding water for the residents of Jackson?  Oh, and a woman and a person of color are going on the mission to find water on the moon?  News flash: There are black women in Jackson on a mission to find water right now! Let the Chinese play with sending humans to outer space so we can fix our own problems here on Earth!   Because we know the Chinese government doesn't care about their people anyway.

I understand that Chinese are having trouble finding water too. 

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Biden's Philadelphia Speech

President Biden gave a good speech in Philadelphia at Independence Hall on Thursday night in talking about "the soul of our nation."  It was a good speech, but it was not a great one.  

The speech lacked the focus of earlier speeches on liberty and freedom, mainly because it was nearly half an hour long and speeches meant to call attention to democracy under threat are shorter and more to the point.  But then again, you shouldn't expect the Second Coming of the Gettysburg Address from Biden or anyone else.  

A lot of Biden's critics on his left will take issue with his assertion that violence and suppression are not who we are when there's plenty of evidence that such values are who we are and have been for a long time.  Slavery, the Civil War the Ku Klux Klan, lynching, Bull Connor . . . and back in the late 1960s, black activist Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, who was then known as H. Rap Brown, called for blacks to revolt against the government and declared violence to be "as American as cherry pie."  January 6, 2021 proved al-Amin right.  That al-Amin should have so much in common with the racist Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers is one of the great ironies of contemporary American history.

Biden was at his most effective in this psech, though, when he laid out a dark vision of America in 2022 and rested the blame at the feet of Donald J. Trump, whom he called out by name and declared an existential threat to the American Experiment.  He centered in on Trump supporters and their disregard for the will of the people and the rule of law.  Then President Biden strategically pivoted to the accomplishments of his own administration and the Democratic Congress and their relevance to making America freer and safer in order to set the argument as a choice between democracy and Trumpism, not as a referendum on the Democratic Party.  If there was one misstep Biden made in this speech and in remarks from earlier in the week, it was his somewhat clumsy effort to separate "mainstream" Republicans from Make America Great Again (MAGA) Republicans, because, quite finally, MAGA Republicans are mainstream.  Also, anti-Trump Republicans aren't really Republicans anymore.  They're either independents or members of the nascent Forward Party.

But with so many pro-Trump election deniers on the ballot in November in so many states for offices like governor or secretary of state, the choice in the 2022 midterms is clear - it's either the Democrats or teh Trumpists.  The Forward Party (do you call its members Forwardists?) is still in the process of forming.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Music Video Of the Week - September 2, 2022

"Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)," Looking Glass  (Go to the link in the upper-right-hand corner.)

Thursday, September 1, 2022

New York State of Mind

Although New York State had gubernatorial and senatorial primaries last week, the focus was mostly on U.S. House primaries, particularly Democratic primaries, where competition was fierce.  (Senator Schumer and Governor Hochul won their primaries easily.)

Representative Carolyn Maloney, above, was pitted against Representative Jerrold Nadler in the same U.S. House district in New York City thanks to redistricting.  It turns out that the two Democratic House members can't stand each other ,and the fight was bitter between the two powerful Democrats, Maloney chair of the House Oversight Committee and Nadler chair of the House Judiciary Committee.  Nalder won, and many of Maloney's supporters blame her loss on sexism.  Right. And if Nadler had lost, someone would blame it on anti-Semitism.
While one Maloney lost, another Maloney won. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democratic congressman representing an upstate district and the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, fended off a challenge from Alessandra Biaggi, a progressive Democrat backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who decided that the gay Maloney wasn't "woke enough" and wanted an outsider to replace him. Outsider, hell: Alessandra Biaggi's grandfather was a New York congressman.  
In the 19th U.S, House district, Democratic Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan won a special election to complete an unexpired term running on the need to preserve legal abortion, which suggests that abortion my be a really big issue in the midterms after all.  Ryan's hometown of Kingston, however, will be shifted to the 18th U.S. House District come January; he won the primary to run for that seat in November. 
It'll be very interesting to see how things work out in the midterms.  One thing we don't have to worry about as far as the Republican side is concerned: Noted fascist Carl Paladino lost his bid for the House seat of the 23rd House district.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Quiet Quitting?

What's "quiet quitting?"

It's a new way of dissociating oneself from one's job without actually resigning from it.  Quiet quitters are employees who do no more than the basic duties of their work and do not go the extra mile to distinguish themselves with their work.  A more extreme version of this is exemplified by the comic stip chracter Wally in "Dilbert;" Wally doesn't just not go beyond the basic duties of his job, he doesn't even do the basic duties.

I've had jobs where I didn't do any more of me that was expected, but since they were lousy jobs, I eventually got laid off so they didn't have to pay me a raise. But as a reporter, I've had to go the extra mile on my job because extra detail can liven up a story.  For example, I wrote a story about a conversion of a bank building in the town I report on, and the building is on a block that once had several banks, and the building frontages show it with their formal and classical façades.  One such building, which now houses a film society headquarters, was the scene of an inside-job robbery in the early 1990s when it was still a bank.  And I included that information in my article. It made the article more vivid and connected the present day to the town's history.   

When I quit something, of course, I  quit completely.  I quit making plans for foreign travel because I didn't see a time in the immediate future when I go abroad, I quit all forms of political activism because I felt that it wouldn't help and never had helped, and I quit another job reviewing books because I got bored with it and no longer needed the money.  I also quit commenting on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because I got tired of having to deal with its dubious inductions.  And I came right out and said it all here. 

And I wasn't exactly quiet about it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Just a Few Minor Redactions . . .

The federal government, in investigating Trump's acquisition of secret documents and storage of said documents in his Florida home, filed an affidavit that convinced a judge of the need to search Mar-a-Lago.  Demands for the reasoning behind the search convinced the Justice Department to release the affidavit with all of the secret bits blacked out.  After all of the redactions were made, this is what the document looked like. 

And here is the Justice Department lawyer who issued it.

 
All right, I kid a little, but for the most part, this is a serious matter.  Many of the documents found in Trump's possession were classified information gleaned from human intelligence - i.e., spies, like CIA agents, that sort of thing - as well as sensitive information taken from various other sources that, if they got into the wrong hands, could compromise national security.  And Trump had these documents lying around in his mansion.
Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, has ordered a review of sensitive information to see if any damage was done and how much damage may have been done.  Meanwhile, Trump has sued to have an outside review of the documents seized by the FBI from his not-so-humble abode because he says some documents may be privileged information between himself and his lawyers.  Federal judge Aileen Cannon - a Trump appointee - has indicated the need of an account from the Justice Department of all of the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago on August 8 and a report of the government's ongoing review of those same documents so someone can see if any are covered by attorney-client privilege.  Except that the Justice Department says it's already looking for attorney-client-privileged documents.
If Trump gets away with all this, God help us.  But if God wanted to help Americans, why did He let Trump become President? 

Monday, August 29, 2022

CNBC: "Why College Is So Expensive In America"

I didn't feel like writing anything for today, so I spent my time watching videos on my YouTube "Watch later" list - until recently 120 videos long - to try and make a molehill out of that mountain.  And in the course of that, I remembered this video from 2019 on my list.  It's quite relevant for the debate going on about student loan debt forgiveness, whether debtors are paying back the full four years or paying back for time spent in college before they dropped out - two out of five debtors fall into the latter category.

The video is from CNBC.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Adult Education

President Biden announced his forgiveness of student loan debt of up to $10,000 for debtors making $125,000 a year or less and debt of up to $20,000  for recipients of Pell grants.  Biden hoped to strike a middle ground in keeping a campaign promise he'd made during the 2019-20 Democratic presidential nomination campaign, before half of his opponents dropped out without making it to Iowa and before COVID changed everything.

Republicans and even some Democrats have argued against Biden's move, saying that it will exacerbate inflation and that it is unfair to those who saved their money to go to college or send their kids to college and to those who never went to college.  Republicans in particular are mad about redistributing wealth to middle-class and young Americans because it doesn't redistribute wealth to their corporate donors, the same people who have made America an awful place to live for the past fifty years.   Among the Democrats who have opposed the President and taken a stand meant to appeal to folks who never sought higher education is U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, competing against the non-college-educated voters in the Ohio U.S. Senate race against his Republican opponent, that guy named Mountain William Elegy. 😛 

To those who want to know why it is appropriate to forgive the debt of those who took out loans to go to college and had a hard time paying them back, let me try to provide some answers.  A lot of these debtors took out loans with a plan to pay them back but ended up being underemployed due to recessions or changes in their chosen professions. Also, many debtors have had to pay exorbitant interest adding up to twice as much of their original loans.   They didn't live large while going to school and they watched every cent that went to basic necessities - and they still got screwed.  So people have to understand that many of those who still owe money on their student loan debts owe it through no fault of their own. 

As far as I can see it, the biggest flaw in Biden's plan, other than that it's not bipartisan, is that it does nothing to address the high costs of college.  No one wants to talk about that, though, because it would involve paring down athletic programs and other elements of campus life that have nothing to do with higher education.  Also, no one ever proposes that something be done about schools  called colleges and universities that don't live up to their names, schools where people, whether they have debt or not, struggled to become educated and get a respected degree and thought they'd done that, only to realize that they're not much wiser or more intellectual than when they started.  We have a  problem when you realize that Malcolm X studied Wittgenstein in prison while folks who went to Florida State can barely put two and two together. 

As for my own personal situation with school, my father paid for my undergraduate education, and my only responsibility was to graduate - which I did, in 1988.  But I was expected to pay for graduate school.  I've talked about this before, but let me go into greater detail.  I applied to Boston University's School of Journalism and got accepted for the fall 1989 semester.  When it became apparent that I would not be able to attend that semester,  I re-applied and was accepted again, even as I prepared to apply for alternative choices.  But a more broad communication master's somehow made more sense, so I had to re-apply to Boston University's School of Communications even as I was trying to apply to other communications schools.  Before I could re-apply to Boston University or apply to other schools like Temple, I got fired from my job, and efforts to get another full-time job failed - largely because I had the attitude that I would be in grad school in another part of the country soon enough.  Boston University was not going to work out, so I called it quits on that.  I managed to apply to the University of Massachusetts' communications school and I even went up to Amherst for an interview with the school's dean, but when I got back I lost another job.  By this time, it was August 1989, and a few months later I was working at a temporary Christmas job in the mall when I heard from the University of Massachusetts and learned that I was rejected.  Based on the interview I had, I'd figured as much.  By the end of 1989, I had given up on graduate school for two reasons:

  • I couldn't figure out a way to pay for it without going deep in debt.
  • I didn't really want to go to graduate school anyway.  It was my father who wanted me to go, and he wouldn't pay this time. I hadn't liked school since I was . . . six years old. 

I did return to school - I earned an editing certificate from New York University's School of Continuing Professional Studies - and I paid for it in full without having to take out a loan.  I got my certificate right after the great financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, and subsequent efforts to get a job at editing failed.  The editing skills I picked up have since atrophied.  (As a sign of what was to come, my car died in the Lincoln Tunnel when I was on my way to the last class of my last course.  I made it to class, but my car would need a major repair.)
I'm not sorry I never earned a master's degree in journalism or communications, mainly because thanks to a decade's worth of experience as a reporter, I realize that you don't learn anything in journalism or communications school that you don't learn on the street.  And the biggest reason I'm glad I never went to graduate school is because . . . well, I'm a reporter, so I know I could never pay back a student loan! 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Charles, The Third

How moribund is the Florida Democratic Party these days?  Let's examine the evidence:

  • Florida hasn't elected a Democratic governor since 1994, when the biggest story in America was O.J. Simpson.
  • Florida hasn't elected a Democratic U.S. Senator since 2012, and voters last elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate seat up for election this year in 1998.
  • Democrats haven't held a majority of the Florida U.S. House delegation since 1988.
  • Florida Democrats haven't controlled the state Senate since 1994 and haven't controlled the state House since 1996.
  • Florida Democrats Alan Grayson, Alex Sink, Kendrick Meek, Gwen Graham and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell were all considered Democrats to watch in the 2010s.  Now the FBI couldn't find them even if it did have time to spare while searching Mar-a-Lago. 
  • Andrew Gillum, the previous Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Florida, was expected to be a visible voting-rights activist after his loss, like Stacey Abrams.  Instead, he got in trouble when he was found getting high on crystal meth and has since been charged for wire fraud and fraudulent political fundraising. 
  • The only current Democratic statewide elected official in Florida is Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and the state party's queen bee is U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, best known for giving us Donald Trump by rigging the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries for Hillary Clinton as Democratic National Committee chair.

And, in this environment, Florida Democrats have decided to give Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor who became a Democrat and got elected to the U.S. House, a third try at statewide office since leaving the governorship.  Having run for the U.S. Senate as an independent in 2010 and as a Democrat to get his old job back in the governor's office in 2014, Florida Democrats nominated him once again for the governorship of Florida against incumbent governor Ron DeSantis. 

There could hardly be a more dubious opponent for DeSantis than Crist, who defeated Nikki Fried in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.  Unlike Fried, who was strongly pro-choice, Crist's record on abortion is mixed at best, and he one called himself pro-life when he was an independent.  He also supported capital punishment, which is about as popular with Democrats as fast food is with Frenchmen.  He was also against same-sex unions before he was for it.  The anti-Crist ads the DeSantis campaign hopes to run have, apparently, already written themselves.

Maybe the third time to try to win statewide office is going to be the charm for Crist, because DeSantis is such an awful human being who is trying his darnedest to make Florida resemble Fascist Italy, right down to interfering with private businesses like Disney and instituting racist and homophobic education policies designed to indoctrinate children and teenagers into espousing black-shirt values as adults.  The sad truth is many Florida voters love their Duce, and this could be Crist's last stand as a Florida politician.

Right now, I think the best way Crist can become a governor again is if he moves to a Democratic state.

Val Demings? I'll get to her later. 

Friday, August 26, 2022

Music Video Of the Week - August 26, 2022

"Vacation" by the Go-Go's  (Go to the link in the upper-right-hand corner.)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Unclear Error

The classified-documents scandal involving Trump keeps getting more difficult to follow,  There were so many documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in January 2022  that it resulted in the criminal investigation that led FBI agents to recover more classified documents.  Trump has since sued to request that a master special agent - or something like that review the documents that were confiscated.


"The previously unreported volume of the sensitive material found in the former president’s possession in January helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have," the New York Times reported.  Trump may have had these materials to just show how important he used to be and expects to be again, or maybe he was keeping them for . . . something else.  We have since learned that he went through these documents personally.
Right now, a judge has asked the Trump legal defense team, which neither offers legal defense nor is a team, to clarify the completely unclear intent of the lawsuit.  Unclear intent?  How about nuclear intent? (Note the anagrams!)   Some of those documents chronicled atomic secrets - what was he going to do with THOSE? (Capital letters are more necessary for emphasis than italics here.)
The affidavit spelling out the cause for the FBI investigation maybe released in redacted form today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Rename Game

The South Orange-Maplewood school district, representing those two towns in Essex County, New Jersey, decided to rename an elementary school named for Thomas Jefferson because, well, he was a slaveowner who once wrote that all men were created equal.  The district had a problem with that, and so did the students.  

Instead, the school will be named for a black woman, local heroine Delia Bolden (above), the first black woman to graduate from the district's Columbia High School in 1912.

At first, I thought this was more PC woke-ism run amok.  Then, I realized it was probably a good idea.  There are likely hundreds of thousands of schools named for Thomas Jefferson, including one in the Caldwell-West Caldwell school district, also in Essex County.  So why not name this school for someone relevant to the community? (Every school in the Caldwell-West Caldwell district except two is named for a dead President, including the Grover Cleveland Middle School, which is appropriate - Grover Cleveland was born in Caldwell.  I can tell you that, given that Caldwell and West Caldwell are hot beds of New Jersey Republicanism, the district will not be changing any school names in the interest of "diversity" - least of all the elementary school named for Thomas Jefferson.) 

I started thinking of other buildings, bridges, streets and other public entities that should be renamed.  And here are just a few of the things I think are long overdue for a name change.  This will probably not be the only post to make such suggestions; I've talked about name changes before, and I know I'll come up with others after this post is published.

Among the name changes I want to see are:

Balbo Drive, Chicago, Illinois.  Italian aviator Italo Balbo has a place in Chicago history; he flew from Rome to Chicago solo, at a time when such a flight was considered dangerous.  But, as a follower of Benito Mussolini, he espoused fascism, and so do many Trump supporters - as did the American Nazi Party when it tried to schedule a march in the heavily Jewish Chicago suburb if Skokie in the 1970s.  As I wrote back in 2017, Balbo has a street in Chicago named for him largely because he had the luck of flying there from Rome and getting to Chicago in one piece. 

Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Lindbergh Boulevard in Philadelphia isn't the only thoroughfare named for Charles Lindbergh, but it's one of the longest, and it looks like an actual boulevard - local and express lanes with three medians, one down the middle and two on either side.  But, like Balbo, Lindbergh was also a fascist sympathizer - what's up with aviators embracing fascism? - and he fathered children with a German woman he hid knowledge of from his wife and everyone else.  Sure, he was the first person to fly across the Atlantic in a plane by himself, in 1927, but John Alcock and Arthur Brown did it together eight years earlier.  Why don't they get any credit - because they were British? 

Betsy Ross Bridge, connecting Philadelphia to Burlington County, New Jersey.  While most of the Delaware River bridges are named for either famous men or the points they connect, the Betsy Ross Bridge is named for a woman, perhaps the most famous woman in the history of the American Revolution after Abigail Adams.  But Ross's accomplishment - sewing the first American flag - is a fraud.  No one really knows who sewed the first American flag.  But we do know who designed it - Francis Hopkinson, who presented the design to the Continental Congress in 1777 and actually lived in Burlington County, New Jersey.  This bridge should be named the Francis Hopkinson Bridge in his honor.   

Burlington-Bristol Bridge, between Burlington, New Jersey and Bristol, Pennsylvania.  Of course, if feminists would rather rename the Betsy Ross Bridge after suffragist and feminist Alice Paul - another historical figure associated with Burlington County - name the Bristol-Burlington Bridge, which is just upstream, for Hopkinson.  No one will miss the name identifying the connected towns.

Marcus Garvey Memorial Park, New York City.  This is going to get me in trouble, I know, because Marcus Garvey is a black icon, and this park is in Harlem.  Garvey was an Jamaican immigrant who founded black nationalist movement an spoke out against the colonization of Africa.  However, he also committed mail fraud against black Americans for selling stock in a ship he did not own and was eventually deported back to Jamaica.   He was also known for his violent rhetoric and his prejudice against mixed-race people and Jews. How can you name a park for someone like that?  Besides, Harlem is more integrated these days. Change it back to Mount Morris Park, that's what that big hill in the middle of the park is called.

Douglas Park, Chicago, Illinois.  As I said once before, in 2017, no public space should be named for Stephen Douglas, whose policies allowed for the expansion of slavery.  Put a second "s" at the end of the name and rename it for Frederick Douglass.

Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma Alabama.  Honestly?  An iconic civil rights shrine is still named for a Confederate general? The state of Alabama currently plans to alter the name to the "Edmund W. Pettus-Foot Soldiers Bridge," but any name that includes Pettus' surname is unacceptable.  How about the John Lewis Bridge, after the most famous foot soldier of them all in the civil rights movement?

Strom Thurmond Dam and Strom Thurmond Lake, South Carolina-Georgia border.  Do I have to explain why to you?

Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington, D.C.  Black Lives Matter is not a name.  It's a slogan.  A good slogan, but a slogan just the same.  Since George Floyd's untimely murder inspired the creation of this public space, it should be called the George Floyd Plaza.

Robert Moses State Park and Robert Moses Causeway, Long Island, New York.  Given that Moses was a bigot whose highway projects in New York City upended neighborhoods and destroyed places like the South Bronx, this park should have its named changed back to Fire Island State Park (it's on the western tip of Fire Island, but there is no vehicular access to the gay-dominated towns on the other end of the island) and the causeway leading to it should have its name changed back to the Captree Causeway.  Besides, there's another park named for Moses in the Thousand Islands region along the St. Lawrence River upstate. 

Robert Moses State Park, Massena, New York.  On second thought, rename that as well.

Donald J. Trump State Park, Putnam Valley, New York.  I wish I were making this up, but in fact, this is land Trump bought to build a golf course on, but when he couldn't get the permits to build it, he donated it to the State of New York and wrote it off on his taxes after inflating its value.  The park has never been properly kept up or even developed, and attempts to rename it have been unsuccessful.  Until it is renamed and redeemed, it's a great place to go and do your personal business. 😉

Francis Scott Key Bridge, Baltimore, Maryland.  Key wrote the national anthem, which glorifies war and features an obscure verse praising slavery.  How about name it for a more deserving Marylander . . . maybe, the Martin O'Malley Bridge? 😃 

Times Square, New York City.  The first example of corporate naming rights.  Screw the New York Times - change the name back to Longacre Square.  Rename every stadium and arena after something other than corporations as well.  Okay, leave Ford Field in Detroit and Coors Field in Denver alone, those are actual family names, like the Wrigleys.  But whoever came up with the name KFC Yum! Center for the arena in Louisville, Kentucky ought to be imprisoned for life.  

Bismarck, North Dakota.  Why is one of our state capitals named for a German dictator?   

Quite a long list, and I've only scratched the surface.  I'll write another post suggesting name changes sometime later - particularly with regards to numbered streets!  

(P.S.  Also, lettered streets.  Mail to I Street in Washington, D.C., in fact, is often addressed to "Eye Street," so confusion with First (1st) Street is avoided.  Leg Avenue or Foot Road, anyone? 😃)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Talk Is Cheap

Rush who?
A quote on Twitter a few months ago from comedian and podcaster Dana Gould made me ponder a how ephemeral a career in talk radio is.  Gould was talking specifically about Rush Limbaugh, about a year after the radio commentator's death.
"[I'm] thinking about Rush Limbaugh and how, now that he’s dead, you never, ever hear about him," Gould wrote.  "No one mentions anything he did. Because what he did had no value. It contributed nothing worthwhile to the culture. Nothing of lasting value. He just made anger. Every day. Rising, blooming and fading like a fart. Then he died and was instantly replaced by a fleet of little replicas, farting fake fury five days a week. Creating nothing of interest or artistic value to anyone. Seriously, what an awful way to make a living."
Of course, talk radio hosts like that are a dime a dozen.  Limbaugh was hardly the first right-wing talk radio host on the American waves, in fact.  Many others had come and gone before Limbaugh went into national syndication in 1988.  The most obvious example is Father Charles Coughlin, the Detroit-area priest with his nationally aired radio show in which he espoused pro-fascist, anti-Semitic views in the 1930s.  No one remembers him today, as well they should not.  Ditto Walter Winchell, the broadcaster from the 1940s and 1950s, who equated civil rights with communism and urged Americans not to get the polio vaccine.  Even if people don't talk about Limbaugh now, many remember him, but their memories will fade, and eventually a generation with no direct memory of him at all will come along.
And when I talk about talk radio hosts being easily forgotten and disposable, I'm not just talking about conservatives.  Liberal talk-radio hosts are just as forgettable.  Gould's remarks made me think of Ed Schultz as an example.
From 2005 to 2014, Schultz was a leading progressive voice on talk radio, a reputation which he parlayed into a television program on MSNBC for six years beginning in 2009.  Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I watched him religiously and hung on almost every word he said.  When Schultz was fired from MSNBC in 2015, I continued listening to him on his podcast.  Then in January 2016, just before Schultz was to start a new news commentary program on another TV network, he mocked Martin O'Malley - my 2016 Democratic presidential candidate - and said that nobody had tuned into the most recent Democratic presidential debate to hear O'Malley.  Realizing he called me a nobody, I stopped listening to him.  And I decided not to tune in to his new show on this other network.
This other network was RT America, the U.S. arm of Russia Today, the Russian national television channel.  Available mostly through the Internet, it aired commentary aimed at skewering the establishments of both major parties . . . and Schultz ended up not just complimenting Putin, a man he once ridiculed, but he also consistently praised Trump.  His commentary on Hillary Clinton became more vicious than it had even been on MSNBC, though it might interest you to know that, when he was a guest on MSNBC prior to getting his own show on the channel, he consistently defended Hillary.  Ed was for her before she was against her.
Schultz died in 2018, and even though I was sad to hear the news, I had moved on from his shtick long before.  At least Limbaugh was consistent and had a core ideology.  Schultz, who had actually started out as a conservative Republican, didn't seem to have any rock-solid beliefs.  He simply adjusted his views to the moment.  Yes, he genuinely abandoned his conservative views when he realized they were bunk, but as a leftist, he veered between establishmentarian and populist opinions based on what his audience and his employers wanted him to say and do. A different set of commentators took over the old time slots he'd once had on MSNBC, And life went on and everyone moved on.   
Truth be told, Schultz was not the sort of commentator known for deep political thought.  With legal abortion on the line now, it might do well to remember this incoherent explanation from Schultz of his views on abortion:  "Now, as far as abortion is concerned, in my heart I'm a Christian. I'm against it. But we're livin' in a country where the majority rule and I'm not, as a talk show host, overturning Roe v. Wade."
I'm left asking how many talk show hosts ever overturned any Supreme Court decision.
Here today, gone tomorrow.  An icon in life, a trivia question in death.  That's the way it is in the talk-radio business.  And that goes or TV talk show hosts also; someday, we'll forget about the current crop of TV talk-show hosts on cable news after they're gone.  And even though he's still alive, does anyone really talk about Chris Matthews anymore?

Monday, August 22, 2022

Quality Matters

It looks like Mitch McConnell has been having heartburn.

You'd have heartburn too, if you saw the latest news and poll numbers involving Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate in the 2022 midterms, who McConnell has to count on to win back a Republican majority.

In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman is ahead of noted New Jersey resident Dr. Mehmet Oz by ten to fifteen points, and Oz undistinguished himself by complaining about the rising prices of exotic vegetables in a supermarket whose name he couldn't get right.  Mandela Barnes - whose biggest asset is that he is not Russ Feingold - is ahead of incumbent Republican Senator and crackpot conspiracy theorist Ron Johnson in Wisconsin by eight points, while incumbent Democratic senator Mark Kelly holds a similar lead over Republican challenger and 2020 election denier Blake Masters in Arizona.  In Georgia, incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock is ahead by four points over Republican challenger Herschel Walker, the noted spousal abuser and climate-change non-expert who says China can get rid of its bad air by letting the winds blow our good air over the ocean to them.  Uh, you think someone should tell him that the jet stream flows from west to east and not the other way around? 

McConnell has conceded that the GOP's lack of "quality candidates" is helping Democrats in the polls, and many of them are likely headed to defeat.  But the Republicans could make up for losses in Pennsylvania or Georgia elsewhere.  In Washington State, Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley is giving incumbent Democratic senator Patty Murray - first elected to the Senate when the biggest threat from China was Olympic diver Fu Mingxia - a run for her money, and incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet is facing a tough challenge from Republican challenger Joe O'Dea, who actually says that Trump lost the 2020 election.  A Republican that faces reality head-on - wow, what a concept!

I don't even want to consider the J.D. Vance - Tim Ryan Senate race in Ohio.

And remember, the weaker candidates currently behind - even Herschel Walker - could pull out a victory in November.  If that sounds unthinkable, remember that the insufferable Iowa GOP senator Joni Ernst won re-election to the Senate over a Democratic opponent who knew corn and soybean prices better than she did. Remember also that many a Republican wave has swept some serious chuckleheads into the Senate - remember Dan Quayle? Right now, the Democrats may be gaining some momentum thanks to having passed popular legislation in the past few weeks, but with inflation and public health issues still a problem, the Democrats could end up answering an old riddle on Election Day . . . the riddle of what happens when a force in motion meets an immovable object.  

But quality still matters.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Source Run Dry

Chris Licht, who took over from Jeff Zucker at CNN after the creation of the Warner Brothers Discovery media company promised big changes for the cable news channel, and he is starting with, of all people, Brian Stelter.

CNN is canceling Stelter's program "Reliable Sources," which has been on the air since 1992 and which Stelter has hosted since 2013.  Stelter himself is leaving the channel.  Airing on Sundays at 11 AM Eastern, "Reliable Sources" has long been required viewing for anyone eyeing or pursuing a media career or just wanting to know what goes into reporting a story and presenting it in today's fragmented media.  Many of Stelter's observations of the news media have been tough but fair, and he has complimented them for their work as well as critiqued it.  But this self-analysis of his own profession apparently tended to look like navel-gazing to Stelter's new and soon-to-be former bosses, and so Licht has made "Reliable Sources" his first casualty following the termination of CNN+, with many more to come.  

Some folks are afraid that Licht's agenda could weaken CNN's news gathering, while others fear that he may be trying to please some of Warner Brothers Discovery's more Republican-friendly investors and make CNN stand for the Conservative News Network.  Whatever the reason for this decision, the loss of "Reliable Sources" is a major blow toward anyone who appreciates an incisive look at the media and understanding the "story behind the story."  It's as if the mainstream media don't want anyone to know how a story is framed and how biases seep in.  Because what John Mayer once said in one of his songs several years ago - when Big Media own the information, they can bend it all they want.  

I'm going to miss Stelter for his excellent media analysis.  I wouldn't worry too much about the fact that he won't be around anymore to call Fox News out on their misleading and untrue propaganda masquerading as news and commentary. if only because other CNN personalities and virtually everyone at MSNBC will be doing the same.  Still, this loss is comparable to Eric Sevareid's retirement from CBS and Soledad O'Brien's dismissal from CNN.   It leaves a big hole in its wake.   

Stelter's last broadcast on CNN is today.