Saturday, November 27, 2010


Not since 1985 have the Hawkeyes been handed a more devastating season ending upset then today's loss at the hands of the rebounding Golden Gopher Football program.

I remember the 1985 game and aftermath very well. Like their 2010 version, the 1985 Iowa Hawkeye Football program was flying high and heading to a post season bowl invitation to the Copper Bowl. The only thing possibly standing in the Hawkeyes way was a bad Minnesota Gopher Football team playing for nothing more than pride.

But just like their 2010 compatriots, the 1985 Gophers upset the previously high flying Hawkeyes causing a slightly inebriated law school student to run through the concourse of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome holding aloft a penny and screaming in the stunned faces of the defeated Hawkeye fans: "LOOK, LOOK YOU WEEJUNS! THIS IS THE ONLY COPPER YOU'LL BE SEEING THIS YEAR!!"

Well to all the Hawkeye fans out there including my friend Steve and co-worker Jeremy, here's old "Honest Abe" looking back at ya!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Tracker

There once was a Tea Party Tracker
who said he could find deer faster
To a couple of Twilight doe blasters

Charlie said "Look to the Right"
His wingman, Cal, said
"No it's to the Righter still"

But neither Fox News nor Charlie
Nor the man still farther Right

Could believe their ears
Much less the sight

Of the Tea Party Tracker
Triumphantly proud
Straddling his quest

"Why it was Jim, all alone
and Way out on the Left!"

c. 2010 Plainsense

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Complex Issues Demand More than Outrage and Dogma; Mid-Term Elections Should be a Call To Reason

The serious, even dire, consequences of allowing passion to be the deciding factor in today's mid-term elections cannot be under estimated. The time for political posturing, outrage and dogma are over. We get it. The average citizen is Angry. So what are these angry citizens gonna do about it? Unfortunately so far, these initially well-intentioned groups have been so blinded by their anger, they have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the very forces who caused the problems. For months now I have just shaken my head, first in amusement, and later in utter disbelief, as I have watched Republican party leaders desperately groping for an issue in an attempt to distract the public's attention away from their failed policies which caused the deepest recession since the Great Depression. As usual, the Republican pr machine used their well-worn playbook of thinly veiled racism (e.g. Obama not born in America), religion (e.g. Obama's a Muslim) and their old standard, appeals to false patriotism, to distract.

The complex problems facing our nation call for the very best and brightest minds using the best scientific approaches to decision making, free of emotion and partisanship, to come up with the best possible human solutions (not perfect ones or ideologically pure rhetoric) if we are to survive and leave our children any semblance of the country we inherited from the "Greatest Generation".
So just how did our parent's generation not only survive, but prevail over the Great Depression and in World War II? They realized that serious times called for serious analysis using the best data and knowledge across all sectors of industry, fields of science and academia that this great nation had to offer. But just as important as getting the best information and bringing to bear the best knowledge, is using a decision making framework and process that will hopefully filter out all the imperfections of human nature to arrive at the best possible decisions.

Fortunately we have such a framework and process, its called the scientific method and it has served us well in the past whenever we have been faced with life and death issues. Notice that I did not describe our political system, which is the very institution that we have assigned the task of decision making to. Don't get me wrong, I am not knocking democracy. As Americans we are rightly proud and even a little smug, over the system of government we inherited from the country's founding fathers. As every American should have learned in grade school, the genius and overriding principal on which our democracy and system of government was based, was a system of checks and balances to be zealously pursued and defended among three co-equal branches of government. Coupled with a detailed list or bill of individual rights, including, importantly, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in a perfect and logical world, an informed citizenry, through their elected representatives, would engage in a robust intellectual battle for truth in the marketplace of ideas. The end result of which would hopefully be enlightened decision making giving enough sense of participation to allow for an uninterrupted string of arguably democratic elections and non-violent transfers of government for more than 230 years.

The dilemma we are in today comes as a result of our own success and progress. The catch-22 of modernity is that history, like science is based upon trial and error. In an ever increasingly complex world, comes a correspondingly set of complex, inter-connected problems. The very nature of complex systems is that with so many variables, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand and predict with certainty exact causes and effects of problems and potential problems. some of which we don't understand.

Much more troubling and perhaps catastrophically dangerous, are the complex problems which science can at least identify, even if science has not yet progressed to the point where it has worked out every last detail and a perfect or complete solution to the problem. But such is the human condition, as a species we will never be omniscient.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Birth ...And Death of a Gopher Nation

As I stated in my post following the Gopher-USC fiasco, there is no love lost between Coach Brewster and I. Call me clairvoyant, a football savant or what have you, I just have a knack for spotting an idiot and I saw this bubba coming lit up in Las Vegas Neon. My only regret is the idiot who hired him, Joe Maturi, is not making the elephant walk with him.

Here is an editorial cartoon I submitted to my alma matter's student newwspaper, the Minnesota Daily, the largest daily circulation college newspaper, back in December 2007 at the close of Brewster's first season as Gopher coach. Needless to say the Daily did not print my cartoon...but guess who gets the last word! Word to Maturi: You're Next!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Newt Interview: Failure to Hold Accountable the Ones Doing the Counting

Letter to the Editor
At Issue
KSTP Television


I respect the host's, Tom Hauser's, proclivity to be polite when conducting interviews. But while no one likes an obnoxious interviewer, I do think it would have added some balance to the show had Mr. Hauser had the intellectual curiosity and courage to ask Mr. Gingrich the question (as he was extolling the virtues of the Clinton Administration and his role as a negotiating partner in its undeniable economic success): "Then why was it Mr. Gingrich, that during the same period that you and your fellow Republicans were bringing the government to a near halt in an attempt to impeach the President for an offense that any constitutional lawyer or scholar could tell you did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense (i.e high crimes and misdemeanor), you yourself was engaged in an extra-marital affair?"

Hmm...I wonder why Gingrich has not thrown his hat into the presidential election 2012 ring yet? But even more unbelievable than Mr. Gingrich's hypocritical hubris is the notion that if the 2010 roster of Republican and Tea Party candidates were to take control of Congress that they would be reasonable and/or rational partners let alone even be receptive to negotiating at all with the current Administration is to forget all short term political and economic memory.

I do appreciate your adding a couple of new faces to the show rather than the same old retreads who add little or nothing to the issue or analysis. I would much prefer it, however, if you would bring on your show respected, neutral and objective economists, scientists and scholars, including our elders in their respective fields (and for Chrissakes I do not mean Wendell Anderson, give him a rest!). This would be much more interesting and informative than another ad nausea round of Amber and Dave "the no tax guy".

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Clinton Makes the Administration’s Case for Voting Democratic in Mid-term Elections

Appearing on PBS's News Hour program on Wednesday, September 22, 2010, former President Bill Clinton made the Administration's case for voting Democratic in the mid-term elections. In his interview with Judy Woodruff, President Clinton correctly reminded the audience of the roots and causes for the current economic crisis which we are, at last, finally beginning to climb out of. Clinton goes on to further remind the viewers of his ecomonic record versus that of the Republicans and why it would be self-defeating to go back to the failed policies of the past after just 21 months of the Obama Administration's corrective policies which are just beginning to come to fruition. Hardly anyone noticed the news report yesterday that the recession officially came to an end in June 2010, no doubt in part thanks to Obama Administration policies.

Because what President Clinton had to say is so important, I give you extended excerpts from the Clinton interview:

BILL CLINTON: Because of the nature of this recession, primarily, and because of the way it played out in people's lives. Let me just give you a couple of examples. We lost about $3 trillion in immediate economic activity. We actually have done a better job coming out of it in the last year than other countries have. We've recovered 70 percent of our GDP growth, Germany: 60 (percent), Japan: 50 (percent), the U.K.: 30 (percent).
But that's not enough to get people back to work and everybody is still spooked. Banks have $1.8 trillion in cash now. The financial system was saved. That cash is uncommitted to loans. So, and then it takes a long time to start these new jobs. The stimulus bill did not fail, but only a third of the stimulus was ordered to creating new jobs and it's going to have a big impact but there is a long lag time.
Then the final problem is ... in the last decade, we dropped from first to 12th in the world with the percentage of our people with college degrees at the time when the difference between people with a college education without it got bigger. That is, the unemployment rate -- the chart and all the press yesterday -- the unemployment rate among non college graduates is about 11 percent and it's right at 4 (percent) for those have degrees. And for the first time now, we've got posted job openings in America going up twice as fast as new hires. If we were just filling for those jobs with skilled people we'd have 5 million more people at work.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You know so many business leaders as well as political leaders, why do you believe that they are not using -- you've said, I think -- $1.6 trillion in cash they are sitting on in these businesses to create jobs?
BILL CLINTON: Well, the good news is they don't want to spend the money overseas or they would have already done that because about 80 percent of this money -- $1 trillion plus -- is in the hands of 75 companies. And that's one where probably neither party can give you the answer.
I think my party's got the right answer on the job training and on where the jobs are growing in small business and manufacturing and green energy, and I think the financial oversight bill will lead to more lending in positive ways and I think repealing it, which the other side wants to do, will lead to more gambling -- which got us in trouble in the first place.
But neither party has done this. I think that in order to answer your question really what we need to do is to interview those 75 companies that have 85 percent of this money and find out what it would take to get them to invest.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because I'm asking because you know so many of these...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it your sense that they are justified in not spending the money to create jobs?
BILL CLINTON: Well, it's not that they don't want to. I mean let's take Cisco. I talked to John Chambers today. They've actually created 6,000 jobs in America this year. But they've got a lot more money they can use.
I talked to another executive who's got $1 billion in the bank said he could create 10,000 jobs tomorrow. He's trying to determine what the new environment will cost him. That is, he wants to know over the next five years what are his taxes, will he spend more or less for health care. If so, how much? What are the environmental rules going to be?
I think a lot of this is just settling down. People were so traumatized by all the horrible things that happened from, you know, after the financial meltdown in 2008, it was a real problem. But I think, that I think is a fairly easy, straightforward thing to do.
The real money though -- the banks have multiple, so if they have $1.8 trillion in cash they could loan $18 trillion in money and end the global recession. The job training program
JUDY WOODRUFF: But that's not happening either.
BILL CLINTON: No, but I think it will and I think that's something. For example, the administration offered loan guarantees for clean energy projects. I think that we need to have some effort to broaden those loan guarantees so that banks feel comfortable lending that money again. They are just not sure what's going to happen in the other economy. But I think that will happen and that's really critical. That's where the real, real money is.
JUDY WOODRUFF: While we're on the economy let me quickly ask you about the news yesterday that Larry Summers, the presidents' economic .. the head of his economic council was leaving. You know Larry Summers well. He was your Treasury secretary. This is the third senior economic figure in this administration to go at a time of great fragility in the economy. Is this something we should be worried about?
BILL CLINTON: No, not necessarily. I'm embarrassed to say that I've been so in my little cocoon I didn't see it. I think the macroeconomic framework of the administration has set -- I don't think there is any question that even though it was controversial saving the financial system, having the Federal Reserve keep interest rates near zero and passing that stimulus which performed better, not worse than it was predicted to, has saved millions of jobs. Now people don't feel that yet because we're not growing jobs.
And I'm not saying that because I think that people should be grateful to the president and the Congress. I'm just saying these people stopped the hemorrhaging and I think we all know what we have to do built out, so I think Larry may feel that he's done the major thing that he was supposed to do, which was to stop the wheels from coming off the track.
And now I think what we need to do is practice what an economist will call microeconomics -- the art of the deal. We need to figure out where we are going to grow jobs and how we are going to grow them and I believe that we will be able to do that if you, and I think this creates an opportunity for the president to bring in some people like Erskine Bowles who financed new businesses for 20 years or people who ran businesses or people who understand how to turn this energy thing into a huge opportunity to create jobs.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And speaking of jobs, let's talk about the CGI for a moment. You are seeking commitments here from people to create jobs in the United States. Tell us exactly what your goal is. What kind of commitment of jobs?
BILL CLINTON: Well, keep in mind we don't have anything like as much money as you find in corporate treasuries or bank accounts or the federal government. Our goal here is to create jobs in a way that shows a simple model that can be embraced by the business community, or by governments or both.
So let me give you probably the most elemental example. Last year was a tough year for young people that need summer jobs to support their families or pay for college, because companies didn't hire so many people for summer jobs.
So one of our projects will involves people mostly in upper Manhattan and Harlem and Washington Heights and groups going to hire young people for summer jobs or after-school jobs to work on retrofitting buildings and making them more efficient. It's very inexpensive. They might do something as simple as change the lights. It might be something as simple as whitewash the black tar roofs, but this is something you can do in every city in America, create of thousands and thousands of jobs.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about another issue you are obviously talking about here. Haiti -- you are the U.N. special envoy. You have taken a great personal interest in Haiti since the terrible earthquake there. Why is it taking so long, in a nutshell, for that country to get back on its feet?
BILL CLINTON: I would say three reasons. First of all everyone needs to understand that the third of the country that was devastated -- 35 percent of the population was all in the city, concentrated, and housing always takes longer. When I became president, Hurricane Andrew, we still had people in temporary housing in Florida a year later. Second, Haiti had no mortgage system. The ownership was unclear and we got the streets full of rubble and the need to rebuild the infrastructure like water and sewer. Third, the donors are having their own economic problems and that's slowing the flow of aid.
We are going to have a housing expo in October. We are going to have land set aside for building right outside the city center and I think you'll see this thing really pick up in the next few months.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And once it does, does Haiti have the capacity to spend that money productively right now?
Bill Clinton : Not right now, but that's why we are trying to run it through a commission and organize how all the money will be spent and tell people every day on the internet who gave the money, who gets the money, and then promise them a performance audit from Pricewaterhouse when it's over.
That is -- and simultaneously, by the way Judy, we are building at capacity. A lot of people don't know this but on the earthquake day, Haiti had 17 percent of its national government workforce killed. So it would be hard for America to get up the day after tomorrow -- if tomorrow we lost 17 percent of the federal workforce -- and do everything we are supposed to do.
They didn't have a great deal of capacity to start with, so I think that under the circumstances we're doing about as well as we can, but nobody's happy. We're going to have to do it faster and better.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Politics. I have to ask you about this. We are 5 ½ weeks away from the midterm elections, it's looking like a tough reckoning for Democrats in November. Few people know the American electorate as well as you do. Can President Obama still get people to listen to him to get a message across? Or have people just stopped listening?
BILL CLINTON: Well, some have stopped listening. They do that. I found it myself. I told him the other day, as far as I could tell they hadn't said anything about him they didn't say about me in '94. And part of it is just frustration because people don't feel better. Then there is this larger -- the Republican narrative against him has two points.
One is: They had 21 months to fix this mess, they didn't fix this, put us back in. The larger narrative is he's a closet socialist who wants to spread this bureaucratic government pall across the country and crush the spirit of liberty and individual initiative and small business vitality and it's not American.
I think what he should say back is to their charge: They put us in a $3 trillion hole and 21 months wasn't enough to get out of it. They dug, you gave them eight years to dig this hole, just give us two more years, give us four years to dig out of it. Just half what you gave them and if it's not better you can throw us all out in two years. That is: people are angry and you need to do it.
But then I would advise him and all the Democrats to talk about what we are going to do now and ask them who is more likely to do it. In other words, if this is a referendum on people's anger and apathy -- so our side stays home and their side's inside -- we don't do well. If it's a choice between who is going to do what, we can do well. And that's what I hope it will be.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But the president has been saying for some weeks, maybe months he has been saying the election is a choice between continuing with present policy or going back to the Republican policies of the last administration, and so far Democrats are not nearly as energized as Republicans, conservatives and certainly not as energized as the tea party.
BILL CLINTON: That is because he needs to explain, he and all of the Democrats each on their own -- and I'd like to see some national advertising -- explain why we didn't get out of the hole, but then the stimulus it did more good than it was projected to do, not less. And talk about how, their position is inherently not tenable if you are thinking. I mean we had Republican presidents for 12 years before I became president. They quadrupled the national debt. We paid $600 billion down on the national debt. They could have stayed with the budget I had, we'd be out of debt by 2012. They only care about the deficit and spending when Democrats are in.
Instead of staying with my budget plan they went back to trickle-down economics. They doubled the debt all over again, before the financial meltdown. Before the meltdown, we only had 2 ½ million jobs -- 10 percent as many as in my eight years. The American people say we don't care, we're angry, we're frustrated -- and they are buying all this. Our side is neither defended the -- they just have taken these attacks without an effective defense. And since people are literally not feeling better, they may be going back to embracing the changes, the policies that got us in trouble.
Let me just give you one example. There was a big chart in the paper yesterday, unemployment among non college graduates almost 11 percent. Among college graduates 4 percent. Where new job openings are going up twice as fast as job hires because there is a big skills mismatch. OK. Here is one thing this election is about:
The Democrats support the student loan reform that makes it cheaper to finance a college education and gives every single college graduate from now on the right to pay their loan back as a small percentage of their income over 20 years. Massive economic significance. The Republicans are committed to repealing it, taking the money they were giving the students and giving it back to banks for basically no risk. In other words they are running on a promise to make it more expensive and harder to go to college, on a record that saw us drop from first to 12th in the world in the percentage of young adults who are college graduates for the first time since World War II.
And people want to be apathetic in the face of that, or do they want to vote for that? No, they say, 'Bill I'm sorry that's going to happen but I'm just so angry. I have to vote anyway.' I mean we need to make this election about something real and clear and if it is than we should honorably embrace the results and not feel bad. I don't think we're putting up a good fight yet.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Not putting up a good fight. Well, one last question..
BILL CLINTON: The president's out there now and I think it's high time. And it's good, and it's good that he's taken some shots. That's what people want to see. They like to see their presidents get hit a little bit.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One last question, I've looked at your schedule over the next few weeks, you are slated to appear with a number of Democratic candidates. I am told you are going to be out on the road for much of the month of October. In fact, you are in greater demand in a number of these races, these competitive races, out on the trail than the president is. How do you explain that?
BILL CLINTON: Well, they always like you better when you're gone. They always do. I think that, you know, and it may not be popular to say this is but what I honestly believe -- I'm not running for anything anymore. I can't run for anything. But I do spend an hour a day studying this economy. I love my country and I want us to do well.
I believe the president and the Congress have done better than the American people think. I'm not upset that they are not getting credit for it because Democrats get hired when the country is messed up and people hire us to fix things. People don't feel better. They don't feel things fixed. So it's OK they are not getting credit for it.
But what the American people need to do is to do what's best for themselves and their family. The only things that really matter are: what are we going to do now? And once you settle on that, who is more likely to do it? If the election is about that, I think we'll do fine. Take a few licks in the marginal races that we shouldn't probably have won anyway. If the election is about my anger, my apathy, my amnesia about who's going to do what, then that's a tough environment for us.
But the Republicans have been really very straightforward in what they want to do. It's not just repeal health care. They want to repeal the student loan reform. They want to repeal the financial oversight. They want to move toward privatizing Social Security and Medicare. They want to do, in short, what they've wanted to do for 30 years.
And we now we had all this experience. It doubled the debt, produced 10 percent as many jobs as I did, got us in the mess we're in. And so our answer is we're going to throw the Democrats out after 21 months and bring back the people who made the decisions that put us in a hole in the first place?
I think what the Democrats need to say is: 'we share your anger, we honor your anger. If we fail you throw us out but you gave them eight years, give us four. Just half as much as you gave them. Give us four. If it's not better in two years, you can vote us all out. But give us enough time to get out of the hole and move America forward,' and then say what you're going to do. I think that's the main chance they've got to make this a good election.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And they've got five weeks to do it in.
BILL CLINTON: Five weeks. That's plenty of time. If you look at the, the one interesting thing is both parties are held in fairly low esteem and people just think 'well if I throw the Democrats out maybe they'll be forced to work together.' In other words, it's not really, but there is not much understanding of these specific differences in what they are offering to do.
And I think maybe the apathy vote is more important for the Republicans in their surging even in the tea party vote. The tea party vote, its manifestation is their base voters are going to show up. That always happens. Once you are out you feel more threatened, you get more energized, you want to show up.
What's more important is that all those people who voted for the first time ever in 2006 and 2008 realize that this is not, there are no one-time miracle votes. Citizenship is a lifetime job and if you want to protect the votes that you cast and protect the policies you support, you've got to show up again and if don't you can't complain if you lose and everything you voted for is washed away. It's your fault for staying home. That's what people have to understand.

Fiasco: Punctuality and Politics Derail Reunion of Old Friends

fi·as·co noun \fē-ˈas-(ˌ)kō also -ˈäs-\ludicrous and complete failure; disaster...

That pretty much sums up my last weekend. You see, I was greatly looking forward to reuniting with perhaps one of my best childhood friends, who I had not seen since 1987. My friend has ties to the USC Athletic Department nad his Trojans were rolling into my humble burg of Minneapolis to face my alma mater and Minnesota sport's version of a fiasco, the Tim Brewster led Golden Gophers football team.

The lowley Gophs were fresh off perhaps the program's most ignoble defeat, a loss to South Dakota in this year's home opener. I can't say I was much surprised, hell I even predicted the loss, not so much because I am a football guru, but rather as a result of my complete and utter disdain for head coach Tim Brewster. Brewster was hired by U of M athletic director Joe Maturi in the wake of Glenn Mason's bowl game collapse approximately five years ago. Despite resurrecting a pitiful gopher football program and racking up the best record of any Gopher football coach in my lifetime (at least living memory), Maturi fired Mason for a flippant remark following the greatest collapse in college bowl history (i.e the Mason led Gophs blew a 30 plus halftime lead). However, Mason's crime was not losing, but rather downplaying the significance of the loss and reminding reporters that it was only a game, after all the main focus of any university was to provide an education to its student. In other words, they fired Mason for saying the same thing every U President said after every football season of my college career. But instead of replacing Mason with a Division 1, winning coach, Maturi like every one of his predecessors since the "Bernie Bierman Days", went cheap and hired an unknown, unproven commodity called Tim Brewster.

My gripe with Brewster started when he breezed into town and announced that we had no football tradition (forget 8 national championships) and that he was starting one here and now. Brewster's idea of tradition was stealing "Gator Nation" and the victory walk into the stadium from other programs. Although I never attended one of Brewster's "victory walks", I cannot wait to line the course of his and Maturi's elephant walk (think rugby) the hell out of the state.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Boehner Finally Takes A Responsible Position On An Issue But GOP Goon Squad Quickly Reels Him Back In

For a moment there, last Sunday on Face the Nation, Minority Leader John "Coppertone" Boehner actually said something intelligent. When Bob Schiefer asked him if he would vote for a Democratic bill extending tax cuts for all but the Wealthiest 2% (i.e. couples making over $250,000/year), Boehner stated he would, if he "...had no other choice", but he quickly added, he would prefer that everyone (code for the filthy rich who caused all the problems and now expect another handout) receive the extended tax cuts.

"Could this be really happening?" I asked myself. A post-Reagan Republican actually courting the formerly middle class? Of course not. No sooner had Boehner's chair cooled off, then Mitch "no chin" McConnell and the rest of the GOP goon squad had forced Boehner to make a retraction and gave him 50 swats with the fraternity pledge paddle left over from GWB times.

I found the most amusing part of the Republican Kabuki dance was the new false, misleading statistic that is on every Republican's lips (i.e.talking points). Remember the Republicans, much like Mussolini, have discovered that if you repeat a lie long enough some of the mentally deficient will start to believe you.

Only problem for the GOP Boogieman, their old lie from the 2004 campaign, that the people at the higher end of the Bush Tax Cuts were responsible for creating 85% of the small business jobs in America, has been exposed for what it is, a lie. Nice try but the figure is more like 3-6%. So now the chinless wonder McConnell and his mental minions are trotting out a couple of new whoopers. McConnell's argument that the taxpayers at the high end of the Bush Tax Cuts are responsible for 50% of small business income (notice how they don't mention job creation). Better yet, some light weight of a Republican Congressman, so memorable I can't even remember his name, said on the PBS News Hour "94 percent of small businesses file S Corp returns". I still have not figured this one out other than to say that Cliff Claven from Cheers would be proud.

But just like their last round of VooDoo economics, this figure is misleading, inaccurate and a desparate ploy to give the ditto heads something they can recite like the rosary. But don't believe me, see the March 2009 article by FactCheck.Org, the independent and politically neutral fact checking site run by the University of Pennsylvania's esteemed Annenberg School of Journalism (sorry Fox News).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Henn Co Attorney Mike Freeman Releases Whitewash Report on Metro Gang Strike Force; Freeman Should Resign If He Cannot Do the Job

September 8, 2010 will live in infamy as the day that the biggest whitewash in American history was released to the public. No, I am not talking about BP's 200 plus page self-serving report on the causes of the oil rig explosion and resulting massive oil spill in the gulf. Quite frankly, we had expected as much from BP's former CEO and chief Weasel, Tony Hayward. No one was surprised when greedy and criminal shortcuts by BP officials were downplayed and instead BP pointed its oil stained accusatory finger at the rig operator and Haliburton, who of course were taking orders from BP.

No the whitewash I am talking about is not Republican Gubernatorial candidate, Tom "tax Cut" Emmer, who just weeks before the election still has not said how he will deal with the $6 Billion state deficit but did release his plans for getting the Minnesota economy back on track. I know, I know. You are never going to believe this, but Emmer's solution, don't hold your breath, is more tax cuts. Imagine that! Another GOP candidate with a brilliant and imaginative plan to restore vitality to the economy, more tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest 2 percent. Just a reminder to Emmer and his mental minions, supply side economics did not work under the senile, imbecile President we had back in the 1980's and was one of the biggest contributors to the staggering deficits and national debt we have today.

The white wash I am referring to is the disgraceful, cop-out, cover-up report of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, whose 19 page explanation why he refuses to perform his duty to prosecute crimes committed within his jurisdiction boils down to the Metro Gang Strike Force's destruction of documents and obstruction of justice was so successful there is no evidence to prosecute any members for a criminal offense. Oh, Bullshit!!, as my father and former Justice Department official would say. Freeman, if you cannot do your job, step aside so someone else will. Freeman's inaction is as potentially dangerous to the citizens of Minnesota, in the form of giving a green light to police abuses and corruption as the dim witted Florida pastor's plan to burn the Koran.

If you care to add a little lite fiction to your reading list, here is a link to Freeman's whitewash:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Return of Jimmy Thackery to Wilebski’s: the Messiah Comes Again

During the 1980’s and 90’s, the Blues Saloon f/k/a Wilebski’s was my second home (along with the Cabooze, the Union Bar, First Ave, Whiskey Junction, Artist Quarter, Emporium of Jazz, 400 Club, the Viking and countless other Twin Cities live music venues). And just like my home there was the constant blare of great blues, soul and r n’ b music, the beer and bourbon flowed freely and back then you could smoke, which gave the times a kind of bluish grey (not purple) haze.

Some of my most memorable, cherished and forgotten music related moments went down in and around the corner of Western and Thomas in the beautifully run down Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul.

From its earliest inception as Wilebski’s, its rise in prominence thanks to booking the legends of blues and soul, both current and past, its locale for the filming of Survivors, a tribute to an eclectic mix of the greats and undeserved, lesser-known greats of blues, soul and r n’ b music; to its sporadic closings at the hands of the revenuers; to its rebirth and golden age as the Blues Saloon with the greatest booking agent this area has ever and will ever see (sorry Sue McClean and Charlie Campbell), the incomparable Mikki Mulvihilll; this humble, second floor, former union hall was the envy of every juke joint and roadhouse in America. Accolades such as Rolling Stone Magazine’s nightclub of the year came and went, like water down a duck’s back until one day it was no more.

Now many years later, after trying everything from lesbianism to Asian, Wilebski’s has come back home. So how better to reacquaint ones self to one of the truly legendary live music venues in mid-America than to celebrate its return to blues music with this genre’s (or any genre for that matter) guitar legend Jimmy Thackery this Saturday, August 14th.

Anyone who knows me knows of my love and affection for this man’s music. From his early days as guitarist for the greatest four piece live blues/rock band in the history of American music, the Nighthawks, to his many side projects like the Assassins, the Jamaican sessions with John Mooney, to his power trio the Drivers, as well as, many solo projects, Jimmy Thackery has maintained an integrity to the music surpassed by very few artists. A master of dynamics, the greatest, cleanest tone in the business and sculptor of sound that would put Rodin to shame, Jimmy Thackery is simply a joy to watch and listen to perform.

A true maverick and fiercely independent, sometimes to the point of being Faulkneresque, Jimmy Thackery is deserving of the world class stature that he is held in among his peers. I’ll never forget the night his band the Assassins opened for B.B. King at the Wax Museum in Washington, D.C. and after an incredible encore of dueling solos, the King knelt at Thackery’s feet and offered him the greatest tribute he could, Lucille. But don’t believe a biased old fool like me, come out and see a real guitar genius this Saturday and welcome back the very best in blues to Frogtown.

Keeping His Eye on the Ball

It was reported this morning that Tiger Woods was putting in extra practice in an attempt to bolster his game in preparation for this weekend's PGA Tournament. It was further reported that Tiger has gone to a rather unusual, at least for a player of his stature, practice technique of having his caddy hold a club pressed against his head to keep his head still through his swing. Too bad Tiger did not think of this earlier, especially when he was hitting the bars.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dayton: Head and Shoulders Above His Fellow DFL Primates

In about twenty minutes I will join tens of thousands of other Minnesota Democrats in voting for Mark Dayton as our next governor. While this is only the DFL primary, the winner today will in fact be Minnesota's next Governor, thus ending a dry spell for Democrats dating back to the days of Governor Goofy Rudy Perpich, who no longer looks like a Disney character, especially when compared to the empty suit the Republicans are running, the self-imploding buffoon Tom Emmer.

Am I fired up for Dayton? That's like getting fired up over soup for dinner. What's my alternative? Margaret Anderson Kelliher? Matt Entenza? Come on, they're just baby chimps swingin' in the tree limbs (see picture on right) compared to the silver-back, knuckle draggin', DFL Primate Dayton.

In these dark times all I want, what the state desperately needs, is someone who tells the truth, is competent and has a plan. While Dayton may be a mouth breather, to quote the words of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, "Just Win Baby!"

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Target Field: Sweet Dreams or Field Named for Bigots

I was lucky enough to win a drawing for a couple of tickets to last Sunday's Twins game. Better yet, the tickets were for one of the stadium's luxurious corporate suites. As my beautiful and bright daughter got passed over for last year's final regular season Twin's game and the fact that she leaves for London in less than a month to study abroad for her degree in finance, she got the nod over her brother.

I must say that the experience was the most pleasurable one I have ever had at a baseball game in terms of creature comforts. The new Target Field is a perfect example of why the best art, or architecture for that matter, is not the product of a committee but rather is the fruition of a dream from an individual.

From the moment you step into the stadium, the suite dwellers are treated to the separate and definitely unequal world of the Richistans. From the attentive staff, who whisked us up to the suite level on the human operated elevators to the wide corridors in neutral tones bathed in natural light from the many windows, one would think he or she were in the toney, corporate world of an upscale office tower. But fortunately no such luck because when you finally get to your suite, right behind and slightly to the left of home plate, you realize for the first time that you are at a baseball stadium.

In fact, the only time you ever see the great unwashed (our term for the regular ticket holders) is in your peripheral vision when you are in a suite looking out at the field. I found this to be a little more than ironic, but rather emblematic for our times. The rich have become so grotesquely bloated and used to their separate and superior treatment, the rest of their fellow country men and women have been relegated to their peripheral vision, a mere afterthought.

So it is with that notion in mind that I awoke last Monday morning to reports emanating from my clock radio concerning the fall out for Minnesota corporate giants Best Buy and Target and their tone deaf, six figure contributions to some right wing, Tom Emmer-supported, Defense of Marriage organization whose only reason for being is to promote their bigoted and degrading belief that their version of marriage is superior to others. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised by this but it just somehow tarnished the really good impression I had a mere 24 hours earlier which went from Sweet Dreams to a Field Named for Bigots.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Booker T & the MGs featuring Eddie Floyd

Live @ the Dakota
June 15-16 • 7:30 & 9:30 PM each night

Booker T & the MGs featuring Eddie Floyd:
Booker T. Jones, organ
Steve Cropper, guitar
Donald "Duck" Dunn, bass
Steve Potts, drums
With special guest Eddie Floyd

Bobby Blue Bland @ the Dakota: "I've Got You Covered, Baby."

Bobby Blue Bland @ the Dakota, March 31, 2010 (photo from somewhere in time).

The warm up act Divina and the Vagabonds: what at first blush is a pretty good Billie Holiday impression gets old quickly. Then again, maybe it wasn't a Billie Holiday impression at all just a bad overbite. Nice material and band, especially trumpet player kinda cool, like if Curtis A played trumpet.

Main Event:

The Man, old (80). The voice, still has it but the legendary growl a little phlegmy. Incredible band including great 4 piece horn section, great rhythm section and killer guitarist. Bobby was assisted onstage where he performed seated. This put him at eye level with the rich white folks at the expensive tables. As soon as he turned on his mic, he transformed from a frail elderly man into what I call the Black Sinatra, except better band and better material. Talk about presence, and I don't mean the kind under the Christmas tree, he controlled the room, put down boisterous lady fans shouting "I love you Bobby!", to which he would reply in a Barry White baritone, "Bobby's got you covered". He did a little over an hour set hitting most of his big hits, which is saying alot but the best part of the evening is how he, good naturedly, at least outwardly, f**ked with the rich white folks. My peeps did not disappoint and rose to the level, making fools of themselves whether responding to Bobby's passive aggressive line of questioning: "Hey big fella, can you handle it?", "Are you married?" or "You ever get the blues?" or falling over from too many martinis like the rich corporate type sitting in front of me who rolled around on his back like a turtle, to his wife's horror, who quickly escorted the rich lite weight out before the end of the show.

For food I had the Dakota wings with Tabasco molasses sauce, a trash can sized basket of fries and Bearnaise sauce and many summits. Oh, a cute waitress to boot.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Miles Than Money: But Escovedo & Band More Than Worth the Trip

Trying to get ready to leave, for even a two day bike trip, is an exhausting experience for someone wired like me. I put off several tasks ranging in time to complete from several hours to the better part of a day and then try to accomplish them all in just a couple of hours prior to leaving. The end result of which is that I become so frazzled I just say f*** it and take off with the uncomfortable feeling that I forgot to do something or left something important behind.

First stop is the Hitching Post by my gun club to see if I can get my motorcycle serviced. The guys in the service department take pretty good care of me and get me in without an appointment and out the door with an oil change, fluid and battery check in less than an hour. I use the down time constructively by having a couple of cold ones at Nick's down the street. I had been waiting for my friend and gun club manager to join me for a drink but he got held up and since they finished my bike so quick, I decided to drop in to the club and say hello on my way out of town. My timing proved fortuitous as I got to meet the newly elected club President, Mark, as well as getting to see the outgoing President and newly elected Vice President, Gene. I greatly admire Gene for serving many terms as club president, many years by default, as it is a thankless task to be on the board or an officer of a non-profit. As far as I can tell by observation, much of your time is spent refereeing adults who act like children. The King is dead, long live the King! May you enjoy your Bidenhood Gene.

As it turns out, my timing continues to prove good as I leave the club around 2 P.M. beating rush hour traffic on 694 and before I know it I'm on I94 heading east with the warm afternoon sun and a light wind at my back. The weather and ride could not be more beautiful. I get a little carried away and anxious from my abortive Steve Earle Bayfield, WI no-show (by me, I misjudged the distance and missed the entire show; showing up as it ended!) and I open up my throttle arriving in Madison in 3 1/2 hours. Don't do the math.

As usual, I am flying by the seat of my pants, i.e. traveling without a map. Hell, I thought, I made it from Minneapolis to New Orleans without a map, why would I need a map to go just to Madison, WI? Well, I almost found out why but luckily took the last exit to Madison before I was committed to taking the turn off to Chicago. I went South on Highway 30 until I saw an exit for East Washington which, I remembered, was the street the club was on. The club was the High Noon Saloon and was where Alejandro Escovedo and his Band were playing later that night. I follow East Washington toward the state capitol and almost pass the club without recognizing it as it was nothing like its name implied. Instead of a faux western ghost town facade, the club was located in a low-story brick office building which resembled an old bank building or Carneige Library. Great I found the club, now my hotel must be nearby.

Unfortunately I booked my hotel in advance online thru Hotwire and although I got a great rate, they won't tell you the name of the hotel before you book it. Hotwire's description of the hotel's location was between .5 and 5.o miles from the state capitol. You see I prefer to walk to a venue, especially if drinking will be involved and especially if I am in a strange town. I therefore find myself stopped in a lane of thru traffic in front of the state capitol looking for a high rise hotel, oblivious to the rush hour traffic barreling down on me. A passerby, who must have sensed my impending danger of being run over, offerered assistance with a quizical: "Looking for something?" "The Sheraton by the capitol." I answer back. The man said with a look of disbelief, "I know there's a Sheraton out by the XCel Center but I never heard of one around here" he says. I tell him I'm pretty sure its right next to the Capitol, but before I can finish my sentence he has it pulled up on his Blackberry and gives me directions to John Nolen Drive. As it turned out, my hotel was a short drive (3 or 4 miles) down John Nolen Drive which runs between the two lakes with the state capitol at one end and the Xcel civic center at the other, across a bridge.

My $59 room was over the top and I enjoy a couple hours of nodding in and out of consciousness watching the local PBS station on my room's high def t.v. Before I know it, it is 8:30 P.M. and time to head for the show. Madison is actually quite a beautiful town I think to my self as I ride over the bridge on a gorgeous full moon night. I am heading toward the orange glow of the capitol dome with the lights of the city reflecting off the two lakes, one on either side of me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Madison Blues? Hardly, Rather A Celebration of Life

Within the hour I will be jumping on my motorcycle for an early Spring ride across the upper Midwest to Madison Wisconsin. Why would anyone in their right mind take a cycle trip when in an instant the weather could change and leave one stranded by a not so unusaual Spring blizzard?

The simple answer is Music. But not just any music. The music of Alejandro Escovedo, the greatest, most talented singer songwriter of his generation and his excellent band including the baddest, most powerful drummer this side of Eric Gravatt, the incomparable Hector Munoz! So to all my friends and colleagues who would rather play it safe and see a children's movie, all I have to say is: "This ain't no disco, this ain't no Mud Club, no CBGB's and I ain't fooling around..." (to paraphrase David Byrne).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday Reflections on Armageddon and Jerusalem

No, this long procrastinated posting to the Great Roll Call is not about so-called Bible Prophecy, although it does come on Palm Sunday. No this is not going to be about the impending tribulations, rapture and armed showdown as prelude to the second coming, although if you listen to the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner and his minions in the Tea Party aka the 21st Century's version of the Know Nothing Party, you would know, of course, that Armageddon was the natural consequence to something so Christian as universal health care. No, I leave that to Jack Van Impe and his lovely wife Rexella. Besides, I can never understand what will be left for Jesus to reign over after thermonuclear war. This is one big reason, though, why the pro-Zionist, born-again Chistians for Israel, AIPAC lobby and Bush administration policy of unconditional support for Israel was and is so misguided. For me at least, doing things to hasten the beginning of End Times should be avoided at all costs. One of the more beautiful and wise tenets of the Jewish religion, as I understand it, and I paraphrase, is that you make your own heaven and/or hell here on Earth, while your alive. To me then, the only rational and logical course of action should be to say to ourselves, to quote the wise but severally beaten Rodney King: "Can we all just get along?"

The title actually comes from a night of interrupted sleep and the fact that my clock radio is left on all night tuned to the best public radio station in America which broadcasts BBC News all night from 11 P.M. to 4:30 A.M. weekdays and until 6 or 7 A.M. on weekends. Now that I am of the age where my body wakes me up at least once a night to well, as Elvis would say, TCB (i.e. Takin' Care of Business), I enjoy catching up on how we Americans are perceived by others, even if it is from our cousins with bad teeth across the pond. Being self-absorbed by nature, it is helpful to be reminded from time to time that reality, that is the real world, does not consist merely of your own or your own group's mentality or perceived reality, it also consists of how you are perceived by others.

Which brings me to, why would the Israelis insist on doing something as unproductive to the Peace process as announcing the construction of an additional 1600 residences in occupied territory, during a visit by the U.S. Vice President, unless, by virtue of sheer arrogance, they thought they could get away with it. Where the Israelis miscalculated was that the Obama Administration is not the lap dog Bush Administration and unlike the Bush Administration approaches problems with intellectual curiosity and intelligence not merely what is best for your wealthy or powerful political contributors. Therefore it does not take a Bible prophet to predict that something as potentially dangerous to U.S. military personnel, engaged in two wars in Muslim countries, as this news would not be well received by Washington. Why the Israelis would, in essence, flip the bird to the world, including the U.S. and continue with their construction on occupied Palestinian land, belonging once to both Muslim and Christian Palestinians, is beyond my comprehension.

Along a similar vein, why are thousands, if not millions of middle and working class Americans so vehemently opposed to something that eventually will be in their and everyone else's best interest as universal health care? I suppose for the same reasons that would compel otherwise rational middle and working class Americans to belong to an organization like the Republican party that works against their own economic interests for the benefit of a few percent of the population who by virtue of serendipity, birth or illegal and/or quasi-legal means, become grotesquely rich: fear of change and others not like themselves, ignorance and conscious or unconscious bigotry.

Which brings me to Boehner and the Tea Baggers. Any group or person that spits and hurls racial and hate-filled epithets at members of Congress as they attempted to make their way into the House Chambers or make speeches from the floor of Congress equating the reform of medical insurance abuses (like rescission and pre-existing condition exclusions) with "Armageddon" like the minority leader did, or announcing, a lot belatedly I'll note, that the Republicans are done working with the Obama Administration in times as difficult and troubled as the present, like the formerly straight talk express John McCain, recently did, in the company of the Queen of Ignorance Sara, no less, is utterly reprehensible and leaves little doubt in the minds of thoughtful Americans as to who are causing the oxygen sucking divisiveness and gridlock that is Washington.

Listening to the Brits last night, it is amazing how clarifying a little perspective can be. In summarizing the weeks news, the BBC newscaster noted that the health care bill that recently passed was very similar in concept to the plan advocated by the Republicans in 1993 in opposition to what they then dubbed Hillary care, and the mandate the tea baggers are falling over each other about railing "Unconstitutional!" is taken right from the pages of Republican and then Governor of Massachusetts Mint Romney's health care reform law. So if it is not really about the message, but the messenger, it leaves little doubt as to what the real motivations of the Republicans and Tea Baggers are. Just a hint, it's not patriotism.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Residents of the state of Louisiana, you have less than FOUR HOURS notice to vacate low lying places (like the SuperDome) because Hurricane Brett is coming and is expected to hit land at 5:40 PM on January 24th.

"Who dat?" It's the Vikings and we're coming to pillage. SKOL VIKINGS!!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Massachusetts Massacre and Supreme Court Decision Bode Ominous Times Ahead for Dems

As if the news this week were not bad enough for Democrats and informed working class people, what with the Cosmo pin-up boy toy Scott Brown fiasco in Massachusetts (which just goes to show that sex sells), the U.S. Supreme Court delivered an even more crushing blow with its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission released yesterday.

In a 5-4 split decision, the conservative majority in the Supreme Court struck down the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), a federal law which prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that is an “electioneering communication” or for speech that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate. The Court held that because the question cannot be resolved on other, narrower grounds without chilling political speech, the Court must consider the continuing effect of the speech suppression upheld in a previous case, Austin. The Court then expressly overruled Austin stating that it no longer provides a basis for allowing the Government to limit corporate independent expenditures.

Now the Republicans will try to convince the ignorant masses, the Know Nothings and the Tea Baggers that this is a great victory for free speech, apple pie and the American way, just like pin-up boy's victory in Massachusetts, as the court's decision also frees up spending by the red menace, labor unions. But make no mistake, the average citizen, even united, even all the labor unions in the country combined, will prove no match for the corrupting power of billions of corporate dollars. Doesn't anyone remember or even care about the K Street Scandal? Hopefully Congress can come up with a counter in the form of legislation that will meet constitutional muster or there will be dire times ahead for the middle and working classes which are the backbone of this country.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Countdown To Vikings Victory: Five Reasons Why Minnesota Will Beat New Orleans

Reason #5. Drew Brees is the illegitimate step-child of Pierre a.k.a. Breezy Bear.

Reason #4. Brett is a more masculine name for a quarterback than Francis is.

Reason #3. Brad Childress' rousing "Win One for the Gipper" speech dedicated to the memory of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Reason #2. Surrounded by all those horns, a horned-up Reggie Bush will mistake the posteriors of the Williams Twins for the Kardashian Twins and will keep running into the arms of his tacklers.

Reason #1: A Vikings Victory will drive all the bitter crybabies, also known as Packer Fans, Wisconsinites and Fair Weather Favre Fans, out of their tiny little Cheese-Head minds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Robert Gordon & his Gang Can Still Hang With the Best of Them

The hottest ticket in Minneapolis this past weekend was not to the Metrodome and the Vikings Annihilation of the Dallas Cowboys 34-3 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday, but rather the Rockabilly Event of the year at Lee's Liquor Lounge: Robert Gordon & the Gang They Couldn't Hang featuring Stray Cats drummer Slim Phantom, original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and the phenomenal guitar legend Chris Spedding.

Like any music fan who grew up in the Washington, D.C. area in the 1970's I was an ardent fan of the Maryland native, who was easily the greatest Rockabilly singer/stylist of his generation. I have also seen several concerts over the years by Mr. Gordon, both good and bad. The good included the show he did with Chris Spedding on guitar 32 years ago this March at Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland and the bad, like the half hour performance he did with Link Wray at the Cabooze Bar in Minneapolis some years later. Happily last night was a triumph for all concerned.

Taking the stage around 11:30 PM (following opening sets by the Fuck Knights and the Restless Ones, both of which showed a potential for bigger things, if they remember to change it up every now and then and use more dynamics and less energy), Gordon and gang opened with one of Robert's signature numbers off of Fresh Fish Special, "The Way I Walk" followed by "Lover Boy" from his Gatton days.
Robert may be looking older these days, aren't we all, but the real disconcerting thing was that the co-founding member of the Sex Pistols looked in better shape for the years than I did!

Said Sir Glen Matlock, who provided a muscular backing bass line throughout the nearly one Hour and thirty minute performance also was given the reigns for a couple of night's selections, as were the other members of the gang, including a rousing but not snearing, rendition of the Pistols banned hit in Britan, "God Save the Queen" (which the make-up wearing glamour boys in the Restless Ones thought, Carly Simon-like, was about them. Only kidding.)

The weakest and youngest member of the gang, Stray Cat's stand-up drummer, Slim Phantom, had a little fun fucking with the crowd saying there was a good friend in the crowd and sarcastically that they needed his help (Spedding was playing circles around anything Minneapolis-transplant Brian Setzer could do) on the next one before launching into "Rock This Town" to the crowds excited whispers and glee. Sorry folks, no Setzer but who needed him. Certainly not Chris Spedding whose 4 songs were "Lonely Weekend", " Nite Patrol", "Guitar Jamboree" in which he made his Eddie Cochran-style Gretch sound like Albert King's Flying Vee to Hendrix's Strat and every great guitarist, except Danny Gatton, in between, and his signature song about his "Motorbike" (also known as a motorcycle here in the States).

But the true star of this night of musical Make Believe was Mr. Gordon. Robert was having a ball in great spirits, looking alert and healthy and most importantly in fine voice. Nobody, and I mean nobody, except Elvis of course, can sing like Robert Gordon, whose banter with the pretty women up front continued all night long. In addition to the songs previously mentioned Gordon ripped through Minnesota's-own, Eddie Cochran's "'C'mon Everybody", Elvis' "Suspicion", "Look Who's Blue" off of "Are You Gonna Be the One", the song Springsteen gave to him, "Fire", complete with great guitar sample by Spedding, "I Wanna Be Inside You", "Thing Called Rock", "Sweet Nothings", another Elvis, "Devil in Disguise", Dion's "The Wanderer", the King's "Mess of Blues", a good new number "Hot Rod", "You Make Me Wanna Get Next to You", the requested and requested "Black Slacks", "It's Only Make Believe" and the anthem "Rockabilly Boogie". Rockabilly indeed!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Horrific Calamity, Honorable Conduct in Hispaniola While Back in Virginia Beach...

The news coming out of Haiti this past week has truly been horrific. The tiny, impoverished (lowest per capita income in the Western Hemisphere) island located on the Western half of the island of Hispaniola, an island it shares with its eastern neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Latest reports estimate that the 7.0 earthquake has killed perhaps as many as 75-100,000 people.

It has now been a little more than three days since the disaster struck and although there are a handful of reports of violence or looting starting to trickle in, the vast majority of the reports are truly humbling as the Haitian people have responded with self-reliance and dignity. Equally impressive has been, with at least one notable exception, the response of the wealthy nations, most notably, of course, the United States, whose people, NGO's and charities have raised a staggering $400 million dollars in 72 hours.

Now back to that notable, abominable exception. It comes from none other than a leading spokesman for the conservative right, cuckoo wing, of the Republican Party, the irReverend Pat Robertson. Just like after 911, Pastor Pat, a man who does not have the slightest clue as to what it means to be a Christian, lashed out at the victim, implying his perverted concept of God's divine retribution.

"They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal," the televangelist said during the broadcast."

"Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other," in contrast, he went on, comparing Haiti to its more wealthy and fortunate neighbor, the Dominican Republic.

As despicable as the idiotic comments coming out of Virgina Beach are, there is always Rush Limbaugh. Never one to be left out of the running for the "Stupidest Thing Ever Said Contest", Limbaugh is quoted as saying that President Obama was using the tragedy to “boost his creditability with the black community” and said that we already donate U.S taxpayer dollars to Haiti. Spoken like a true role model for his myopic minions in the Tea Bagger Party who want to derail health care reform to most likely their own and the country's detriment.

In actuality, the Obama Administration has handled the matter just about right. Led correctly by its civilian face in the form of the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti and Secretary of State Clinton, the U.S. has taken control of the airport and airspace due to the heavy demands on flight control. Former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush have been named to lead the U.S. humanitarian response. The far more tricky job is yet to come: that of monitoring the expenditure of aid money to prevent the fraud and corruption that has been the hallmark of Haitian Governments of the past century. Hopefully this time the United Nations, the wealthy nations, the myriad of NGO's and charitable organizations and most importantly, the Haitian People will get it right. May God Bless Them.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Steaming Mad In Minnesota

Listening to Liz Cheney opine her ridiculous garbage on ABC's aspirational named segment, the"Roundtable", (the Algonquin Room they are not) this Sunday morning makes me scratch my head and wonder out loud whether there is anybody besides her father and herself so inbred and so stupid to believe their made up criticisms of the President and the current administration. It would be one thing had the Cheneys, Micheal Steeles or John Boehners or their likes on the Republican side been offering any constructive input or even constructive criticisms, over the course of this past year, be it on health care reform, counter-terrorism or the economy, but unfortunately of course they had not. Instead they have been a one hit wonder of negativity and obstructionism to the point where they appear just plain old downright silly.

I mean to complain that it took 12 or 24 or even 48 hours for the current President to respond to the Christmas Day attempted bombing in Detroit when in comparison it took the former Commander in Chief, George W, 6 Days to respond to the shoebomber, Richard Reed attack is just so pathetically hypocritical as to be silly. If they cannot come up with one serious thing to say they should just shut up.

Another example of the vapid commentary coming from the right these days comes from none other than their fearless leader himself Oxycontin Man a/k/a the Big Fat Idiot a/k/a Rush Limbaugh. Upon being released from the hospital recently, the degenerative drug addict proclaimed, and I paraphrase, "my recent hospitalization and the excellent care I received is proof that there is nothing wrong with the American Health care system". Spoken like the typical neau veux rich pig that he is. Of course, the ever empathetic Limbaugh cannot see past his big fat pig jowls and gold-plated health insurance plan with unlimited coverage for drug addicts like himself, to the over 38 million uninsured Americans, who find his proclamation on the health of the U.S. Health Care system to be a little less than reassuring.

You know, if one did not know any better, one might think that it was an actual strategy on the part of the right wing in this country to promote a policy of such acerbic public discourse so if they could not win one over to their side with rhetoric they would so poison the well so as to turn off the average person by their divisiveness. Oh that's right, this is an actual, documented page out of the right wing politician's playbook as leaked to the press over the last several election cycles. No wonder my less informed friends just throw their hands up over their ears and lament "they're all alike" or "they all do it" which is completely untrue, at least in degree.

So what do you do if you are stuck in Minnesota in the first week of January and in the midst of a streak of subzero high temperatures and a political climate looking just as frigid? You feel the need, THE NEED FOR STEAM. Steam Shower that is. So instead of a panic room, I have elected to build an anti-panic room or steam shower room to be exact, complete with chroma therapy lighting, rain fall shower, six whirlpool jets and surround sound system all enclosed in tempered glass. Who knows, maybe if Liz Cheney will just shut up I will invite her over for steamed vegetable night.