Saturday, January 26, 2013

When Your Wrong: When Snarky becomes Sneering, Its Time to Step Back and Reflect

I admit it.  I got carried away while tweeting a couple of days ago.  While watching the local late night news (can you rally call 9pm and 10pm late night?).  I normally don't waste my time with 20 minutes of weather and 5 minutes of happy news and sports but there was a breaking news bulletin.  One of my favorite black hat GOP characters, Michael Brodkorb, the former GOP PR guy notorious for throwing the verbal incendiary hand grenades, was reported to have just been in a serious traffic accident.

While I never for a moment was happy that the person was physically injured, there are very few human beings who deserve that and Brodkorb has never done anything to me personally other than to really annoy me.  Hell I don't even know the man.  But the point I lost in my glee and zeal to explore the funny possibilities of political one liners that this situation presented was here was another human being, with a family and friends who were very concerned over his physical well being and here is this jerk making light of a horrible accident within minutes of it occurring.

Truth be told, I did question, for a few moments, whether this type of tweet had crossed the bounds of snarky funny and was either ignorant or just plain old mean.  I try to think that I am neither but I am hardly the one to judge. As a matter of fact, this is exactly the point I continually lecture my conservative Republican friends over when they show an utter lack of compassion when it comes to social programs or extending unemployment insurance.  "There by the Grace of God go you" I repeatedly tell them.  Good thing I am a lawyer and only very rarely listen to myself.

So it was with some trepidation that I signed in to my twitter and email accounts associated with this blog following my obnoxious tweets.  Although I noticed I had picked up a few new followers or phrased another way "a 30% increase in followers", it only goes to show how as a society we reward bad behavior and especially, bad television. But there it was like an email from my conscious or better self:  "Yeow. Ouch.Too soon. Even for that Asshat."  And she was absolutely right.  I think it was Wylie Hubbard who said "If we live in forgiveness we die in our dreams".  While I am not sure exactly what this means, I do know that if you don't live in forgiveness you will die miserable and alone.  So thanks Kimbers, I deserved that.

I gotta believe that the reason that American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother and the countless cable "real tv" programs exist, ad nausea, is the humiliation factor.  This is one big reason I refuse to watch any of these electronic forms of garbage, (unless I am visiting a good friend's home whose cable box is stuck between Pawn Stars, Pickers and H2 the search for Ancient Alien deficit spenders or some such rubbish).

My favorite (dark and after New Town, very dark) comedy of 2012 was Bob Goldthwait's brilliant "God Bless America".  Don't feel bad if you have never heard of it, like his other comedic masterpiece "Shakes the Clown" this won't be coming to a theater near you.  The best, funniest comedy dares to speak truth and Bobcat lets rip with such an honest critique of current American society that is at the same time hilarious and "soul crushing" to quote the film's protagonist, Frank.  I call it the new Shakespeare Soliloquy.

I have to believe that the idea for the movie grew out of one of the three minute rants that are so perceptive and universal that his friends and colleagues encouraged him to expand it.  Unlike a Will Farrell comedy (needlessly long SNL sketch with very funny premise), Bobcat's GBA has a story line and characters who have some depth but whom, like in modern society, we do not become too emotionally attached to.  It is that emotional detachment that allows us to see people as numbers, numbers as statistics and make policy decisions with all the thought and complexity of "balancing the household or small business budget" to paraphrase Republicans.

Here are the offending tweets:

Former GOP PR goon attempts one last hook up with Amy Koch but connects with bridge abutment in honest mistake. Please get well.

In stunning development reveals relationship with Koch strictly virtual. Like she was just a pigment of his imagination

And my tweeted apology:

  Doing what I did to others who I dislike for doing what they do, even to prove a point, makes me too a pile of doo. Apologies to

(And my apologies to Amy Koch)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Drinks with Teddy Roosevelt, Almost Arrersted at Pentagon Heliport and Brief Appearance In Parade: My Jimmy Carter Inauguration (True) Story

In January 1977 I was a sophomore in high school in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.  A Minnesotan by birth, we had migrated to the nation's capitol via Albuquerque where my Dad's dreams of an early retirement running a small motel on Route 66 were cut short by a lack of foresight and something called I-40.  In 1971 my father had accepted a position as chief counsel of a Senate Judiciary sub-committee and later researched the rules for the impeachment trial in the Senate had Nixon not resigned.

After a long divisive war, years of cultural and generational battles that were emblematic of the Nixon Administration, there was a hint of hope in the air and anticipation that things were finally going to get better with the incoming administration of Jimmy Carter.  To my friends and I, it sounded like a good excuse to party.

The one big drawback, at least for me, was I had broken my left leg in three places wrestling for my high school's varsity wrestling team in December of 1976 and was casted from the tip of my toes to the top of my thigh.  But when there was a party to attend, where there is a will there is a way.  That day the way was Andy Weaver's parent's puke green Pinto station wagon (replete with faux wood sides) with me, crutches and all, riding in the back hatch.

After rounding up the usual suspects (Boswell, Littlejohn and either Kominos, Speyer or one of the Nichols) we loaded up with party favors, told our parents a white lie about wanting to see presidential history and headed off to party with the intention of eventually parking at the Pentagon to catch one of the many free shuttles. Local media had kept up a constant drum beat for days warning of the lack of parking anywhere remotely near the parade route and strongly suggested the option of free parking and shuttle buses.  The only problem was we did not plan ahead and needed some place for underage kids to drink before entering Pentagon property where there was bound to be security.

As we drove along GW Parkway, one of us noticed the complete absence of cars parked at the lot for Theodore Roosevelt Island.  The island was part of the National Park System and a popular, free tourist attraction and for locals who wanted to enjoy a little nature in the heart of  D.C. and in the shadow of the GW Bridge.  In the middle of its many acres of woodland was a small monument and statute to the last progressive Republican President and father of the Nation Park System.

To our utter amazement, there was not a sole on the island, not even the customary park ranger.  Apparently they all had been pressed into service along the parade route and we had the entire island completely to ourselves. (To be continued...)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Republicans Finally Adopt A Smart Approach to Problem Solving, Now Expand it to the Economy

Hats off to my Republican brethren.  They have finally started down the road to enlightenment by approaching problem solving using the best tool we as humans have, the scientific method.  Cool headed, grounded in reason and logical, that's the approach Americans are yearning for, along with an acknowledgment that facts are facts and science, when not pressured and co-opted, are the best beacons we have to lead us out of the darkness.  So what is the most visible and obvious issue where the Republicans are taking the correct approach to with regards to problem solving?  Gun Control.

Forget about the NRA.  They have morphed into nothing more than the reactionary, lunatic, right-wing-nut fringe of the Tea Party i.e. "It's not Tea its GOP".  With their cheap made in China ball caps and mailing list of mindless followers, many of whom, I am willing to bet, would not pass a federal firearm purchase background check, care more about advancing the partisan interests of the Republican Party, as pawns for the wealthy and big business, then the interests of working class America.  Don't believe me? 

In a very revealing and damning encounter I had with a NRA Representative back in the run up to the 2004 presidential election, I had the opportunity to pose the $64,000 Question (i.e. $10,000 Romney debate bet) to one of the believers.  The NRA was in the midst of a membership drive, using for its call list, no doubt,  the State of Minnesota's list of persons who purchase some kind of firearms hunting license. 

I am a long time hunter,  firearms enthusiast, and defender of constitutional rights.  As a criminal defense attorney for over  25 years, I  have represented clients that have been subjected to the most outrageous, reprehensible and illegal conduct on the part of out of control, over zealous law enforcement agents only to have said conduct swept under the rug by gutless judges concerned more about their re-election then weeding out these criminal, bad apples from the ranks of law enforcement.  It was only through this experience that I belatedly came around to the view that the Second Amendment is a check on our government just as much as it is necessary for the maintenance of a well regulated militia.  Despite, or because of, the above beliefs, I have never been a member of the National Rifle Association.

So when I asked the middle aged woman with the Texan drawl, "Why is it the NRA only seems interested in advancing the political careers and issues of the Republican Party over those of working class Americans on non-Second Amendment Issues?" it must have caught the aspiring secessionist off guard.  After an embarrassingly long, pregnant pause, (apparently her script did not anticipate someone posing an intelligent question) the former runner up to the Mrs. Texas Pageant panicked and gasped into the phone "We don't want you as a member anyway!" and hung up.  My response, had the NRA Representative had the courage to stay on the phone, would have been simply "Well praise the Lord!".

The Republicans are right that the vast majority of so called "solutions" to firearm violence in this country recently proposed by the President would have had little or no effect in stopping many of the recent and worst of the mass killings.  It is the Republicans, of all people, who are correctly saying, "Whoa, let's look at this problem rationally and respond, not in knee jerk fashion, but in a meaningful, scientific manner" (I paraphrase).

All I would ask is for the Republicans to have the same honest, logical and scientific approach to solving the other big, and I would argue, more pressing, issues facing the country.  If only the Republicans would take their new found sense of reason to issues  like the economy, the budget and the deficit, they would come to the understanding that the Federal Government's Budget  is not the household budget, that the United States of America is not Greece and that to grow private sector jobs in the midst of a liquidity trap we need to SPEND MORE in the short term, NOT LESS! 

Yes, we all know there is a long term debt problem. But the best approach to dealing with this LONG TERM debt problem is for the Federal Government, the lender of last resort in a liquidity trap, to invest in long needed and overdue critical infrastructure projects.  With interest rates at all time lows and the work needing to be done in any event, it is an absolute "no brainer" (i.e. "no Boehner").

We, as a nation,  desperately need bi-partisan leadership to create jobs and keep the economy moving forward.  One only needs to look at Britain to see that austerity, in the midst of an economic recovery this fragile, plunges you back into recession.  Unfortunately the Republicans seem Hell bent on torpedoing the economy, no doubt so that they can blame the President and gin up support for their next pro-wealthy, anti-middle class presidential candidate.  America deserves and the times demand, better.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

#NRA Crowd Riddled, Riddled with Doubt and Uncertainty.

The Great Roll Call





  crowd has gone over the proverbial cliff. They are riddled, riddled with doubt and uncertainty. 's pleas dont fall on deaf ears 




For a surprisingly cogent counterpoint, see NRA's Keene's interview on NPR on January 11, 2013:

NRA Head: Registry Of Gun Owners Would Be Very Dangerous

Sunday, January 6, 2013

BBC Responds to Plainsense



Naming the Dead on the Mexican Border

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful email about the Robin Reineke interview – I’ve passed it on to our presenter Matthew Bannister and the producer responsible.  We’re very lucky on this programme that we get to ‘meet’ so many inspiring people.

Thank you too for the revealing story of your friendship with the Guatemalan, although I’m sorry it meant such a horribly early start…
Best wishes from the Outlook team, and happy New Year,
Sue Waldram

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Memorable Musical Moments in 2012

1.  Ruthie Foster:  "Let it Burn" best cd of 2012.  From opening harmonies of 5 Blind Boys on "Welcome Home" to duet with William Bell and one-up cover of Los Lobos' "This Time", backed by some of music's finest including the likes of George Porter Jr., Ike Stubblefield and Dave Easley, a true masterpiece!

2.  Alabama Shakes EP, Letterman's birthday show appearance & sold out First Ave show.  Fun to go along for ride with best young players in a generation.

 3.  Springsteen & E St:  "Wrecking Ball" lp and 2nd nite in St. Paul on my B-day with my 2 kids next to stage for 3+ Hrs I'll cherish rest of my life!

4.  Three  Chords Good Reunion Tour Graham Parker & the Rumour and Final Show North American Tour at Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul.  Thoroughly satisfying performance by one of the greatest bands to ever cross the pond.

5.  Alejandro Escovedo "Big Station".  His strongest collection since"Man Under the Influence".

6.  The Nighthawks "Damn Good Time".  The addition of Mark Stutso on drums and new plumbing for Mr. "Guard Your Heart" Mark Wenner hopefully means more Night Work for the Nighthawks in 2013!