Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

A few images to make your evening Spook-tacular!  Happy Halloween everyone!


Friday, October 28, 2016

The Friday Link for 10/28/16

I'm very busy this weekend.  I have multiple Halloween parties to get to.  I'll be the one dressed as the sexy jar of Marshmallow Fluff!  I know who to make everyone happy!

Short and sweet this Friday!  With Halloween almost upon us, I turn to the gold standard of non-Christmas holiday specials, 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!'  There isn't a bad moment in this entire special.  It's perfect this and every Halloween.

I hope your weekend is Spook-tacular!

Thank You, Mr. Ortiz

Being a Minnesota Twins fan, there's always a sick feeling in my stomach every time I think of David Ortiz, the greatest Designated Hitter of all time, and a far better first baseman than our current offering.  This year, Ortiz, nicknamed Big Papi, finished out a 20 year career in major league baseball with another stellar statistical season for the playoff bound Boston Red Sox.  He has the purest swing I've ever seen, an incredible level of identification on pitches coming at him at over 90 miles an hour, and power rarely matched.  When he saw a pitch he could take, there was never a doubt.

Big Papi started his professional baseball journey as a Minnesota Twin.  I love Tom Kelly and Ron Gardenhire, two great Twins' coaches, but no matter what else they'll ever be known for, the stink of the mismanagement of Ortiz will haunt their legacy.  At least Kelly has two World Series victories to hang his hat on, but even that won't remove the startling lack of awareness when it came to developing a top 10 player of all time.  Kelly and Gardenhire were trying to make David Ortiz play baseball 'the Twins way.'  To their credit, rarely has the franchise ever had such undeveloped potential come through the door, so they didn't see what was right in front of their faces.  They clearly didn't see Ortiz as a pure swinger who should always be given the green light, in all circumstances.  Instead they tried to reign in his power.  'Don't swing for the fences and hit home runs; ease up on your swing and try for a single.'  Even writing that last sentence makes zero sense.

The Twins organization became belligerent when it came to Ortiz; either he was going to become a singles and doubles hitter, or they would release him,  They eventually did release him when they couldn't find a team who'd trade for him.  It was the end of the 2002 season.

He was signed by Boston in early 2003.  I imagine there was a moment when the Boston Red Sox coaches looked at Big Papi much like Wilford Brimley's Pop Fisher looked upon Robert Redford's Roy Hobbs in the film The Natural, in the scene where Hobbs takes batting practice for the first time.  "What exactly were the Minnesota Twins trying to make you do???" When the Red Sox realized what they had, they encouraged Ortiz to put all of his power into every swing, and gave him a chance.  By mid season, Jeremy Giambi, epitomizing the Bump Bailey character in the movie, was removed and Big Papi began a 14 year reign as one of the most ferocious hitters the game's ever seen.

The impact to the Boston Red Sox was immediate.  They made the American League Championship Series in 2003, and then won a total of three World Series Titles in the next 10 years.  Prior to their first win in 2004, they hadn't won one since 1918, and were considered a cursed franchise.  Ortiz changed everything.  Without a doubt in my mind, if the Twins hadn't mismanaged him, they would've won at least one, if not two World Series in that same stretch.  Instead, they became obsessed with trying convince everyone Joe Mauer is the greatest Twin ever, something which he's clearly not.

So why am I writing a thank you letter to David Ortiz?  Even though I'm a Twins fan first, I grew up in Rhode Island, so I love the Boston Red Sox (btw - Yankees suck!).  Seeing that cursed team finally win it all fulfilled wishes and dreams of my youth I'd long forgotten.  There's something seemingly right about Boston winning it all.  Although Boston had deep talent on their teams, I give Ortiz's ability and inspiration most of the credit.

The main reason I want to say thanks is because of what David Ortiz means to my son.  When I was a young boy, growing up in Wickford and East Greenwich, I wanted to be Carl Yastrzemski, Yaz to every kid growing up in my generation in New England.  I'd listen to Red Sox games on the radio, hanging on every pitch to him, every play in his direction.  I grabbed the newspaper every morning to look at the box score, absorbing his stats.  I had his baseball card placed in a hallowed position on my shelf, not in the box under my bed with the rest of them.  I entertained a potential life of crime when I seriously thought about stealing a supposed foul ball of Yaz's a friend of mine, Jamie Radamaker, had (although his older brother later said it was not really from Yaz, but rather some hitter on the opposing team).  I fell in love with baseball because of Yastrzemski.  I remember going to see his final game in Minnesota.  It was 1983, and he didn't play, but came up out of the dugout at the old Metrodome and waved his cap to the fans.  I so didn't want him to go.  I was silently tearing up on the car ride home.  Heck, my eyes are welling up a bit as I write this, remembering all that Carl has given me.

Big Papi has become Yaz for my son.  My boy's torn up about Ortiz's retirement, begging for the Red Sox to have gotten past Cleveland for a deeper run into the playoffs.  I was thinking about trying to get him tickets to Fenway for one of the final games, but the cost of the game tickets were 5 times more than the flight.  For his birthday, I went and bought my son an authentic David Ortiz autographed baseball, pricey because of the impending retirement, but it was his favorite birthday gift.  All his baseball trophies and medals have been moved off the top shelf of his dresser, and the Big Papi ball sits next the my boy's first ever home run ball.  He loves Ortiz, and everything he represents, as only a 15 year old boy can, with pure adoration.

Thank you, Mr. Ortiz.  Thanks for making my son a lifelong baseball fan.  Thanks for making us both love the Red Sox again.  Thank you for being an inspiration, and thank you for never giving up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Revenge of the Moderate Republicans

There are only two scenarios which could possibly lead to a Donald Trump victory on November 8th.  The first is the one I'm most terrified of; someone assassinating, or gravely wounding, Hillary Clinton.  I'm very concerned nefarious elements are working on a plan to attempt this as we speak, and being from Minnesota, having lived through the tragic loss of Sen. Paul Wellstone, a major party would have a tremendous problem getting a national write in campaign launched (and what do you do with all the votes already cast for her, including mine?).

The other path to a Trump win would be massive voter fraud perpetrated by hackers/Russia.  I still don't think it'd work, as too many states have a paper trail which would negate any electronic discrepancies.  Plus a lot of the states without a paper tail are already safe Republican.

In two weeks, God willing, Hillary Clinton will become the next President of the United States.  We don't need to wait for the ashes of the Trump ticket to settle to figure out how the GOP got into this mess.  It's a mess they themselves created.  They've unintentionally formed a perfect storm which will haunt their party for decades to come, or might even destroy the party from within.

The first mistake they made is one I've brought up numerous times, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove welcoming in the extremist far right as major players in the Republican party.  They needed foot soldiers.  The extremists needed validation.  Cheney and Rove embraced a modern GOP platform tentpole, short term gains over long term consequences.  They knew the ultimate result of their decision would come to light well after W. was out of office.  Ron Paul, the retired Libertarian-Republican Congressman, realized a far right extremist establishment candidate could take over the party by acting as a pied piper, driving the extremist's decisions at primaries and caucuses, where a political party is most betrothed to their extremist elements.  In 2008, he began to assume control; 2012, he gained control, and Trump grabbed the controls in 2016, fulfilling Cheney and Rove's prophecy of ignorance.

The second mistake the GOP made comes from Reagan; 'Never Trust Government.'  This was always an amazingly foolish mantra for any political party, and now the GOP machine seems to have a less qualified political candidate every election.  Look at the Presidential tickets for the GOP since Ron Paul took over.  In 2008, Senator McCain had to take on a wildly under-qualified, but outside of mainstream politics, Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, who felt foreign policy experience had to do with line of sight visual identification, and who couldn't name one magazine she'd ever read.  Then in 2012, the top of the ticket had a 50/50 candidate, with Mitt Romney portraying himself as more of a businessman than a seasoned politician.  Now the top of the ticket is Trump, someone with zero political experience.  For most Americans, it's an unappealing, and mildly terrifying, quality.  For his followers, it's what makes him perfect.  With the GOP having a candidate with more minuses than pluses, the line between governmental stooge and outsider politician are getting blurred.  Republicans are having trouble identifying the party members they can trust.

The vast majority of this country is not receptive to extremists, so when any Republican has to distance themselves from the party's extremist Presidential candidate, they put a target on their back.  If Trump represents the perfect 'outside of government' candidate, and the GOP has a generation of members who deeply believe government is the problem, it becomes impossible for a sitting Senator, Congressperson or Governor to disagree with the top of the ticket without immediately becoming a politician who represents the evil government empire; more against the Republicans than for them.

Thirdly, the GOP's war on the media has come back to bite them in the ass.  Similarly to the never trust government ideology, hating on a portion the media was also a dangerous standard to try to ascertain.  It worked fine when you just had to vilify CNN and MSNBC, or stifle the handful of non-conservative controlled radio networks and newspapers.  Sure the online world presented a differing opinion, but the tried and true Republicans were committed to listen to only the media which they were told to listen to.

Even far right media in this country was realizing Trump was a mistake back in the Fall of 2015.  They've been able to overlook sub standard Republicans of the past, but it becomes very difficult to do so when the problem child is a Presidential candidate; a person so bombastic, an attention whore screaming on the biggest political stage.  They HAD TO cover him, and even they can't candy coat his mistakes.  Once Fox News and their ilk started reporting on Trump in a less than rosy demeanor, they themselves became part of the media they had trained the Republicans to hate.  Now rank and file Republicans can't use their biggest megaphones to wrangle the Republican voters back in.

The final mistake the Republicans made seemed initially to be a good idea.  Make all Republican voters loyal to the entire GOP ticket, top to bottom.  By removing any individual thought, taking away the ability of GOP voters to weigh individual candidates on their own merit, they've created a no win situation.  Republicans will either blindly vote for a straight party ticket, or, if the Republican hates Trump, they might not vote at all, or (GASP) vote for another party, maybe even Hillary!  Some will skip the first ballot question, voting all R's afterwards, but not too many.  They don't know how anymore.

Don't get me wrong, Trump will indeed get a shocking amount of votes in November, but referring back to the title of this piece, his undoing will be at the hands of the Moderate Republicans, the same moderates the GOP has made persona non grata within their own party.  If Moderate Republicans were behind Trump, this would be a nail biter.  The Christian Right, the Fiscal Conservatives, and even the Reagan Republicans will probably all blindly vote for Trump, but most Moderates don't want anything to do with a sexual assault bragging, lewd, bloviated, ignorant, disconnected, uninformed, wealth worshipping, racist pig.  In the end, Trump's loss of the Moderate vote will lead to a blowout victory for Clinton.

Reiterating another point I've made, I have NO IDEA how the GOP gets themselves out of the vicious circle.  This isn't like the aftermath of the post 1964 election, where the GOP was able to get rid of the extremists who had infiltrated the party.  The extremists today have control of the decision making process at the state primary and caucus level.  You can't just shake that.  The GOP will try, but when they realize how hard it will be, and how long it will take, my guess is the Reagan Republicans and Moderates will decide to start a new political party, one with rules in place preventing a catastrophic mistake like 2016 from happening again, or at least not for another 160 years.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Flash in the Pan

On Friday's show, I talked about another fine Minnesota Republican who seems to be losing it in the Age of Trump, Leilani Holmstadt.  Holmstadt, the GOP candidate for SD54, sounded like a complete idiot when she went after the League of Women Voters on her Facebook page, insisting they're actually some stealth Liberal group, and allowed a litany of misogynistic and disgusting comments to be made about the women of the LWV underneath her post, comments she must agree with because she left them up on her Facebook page.  BlueStem Prairie had the original story, and a follow up where Holmstadt gets taken to the woodshed by the LWV.  Here are the two links for the stories:

Leilani has fallen under my radar this election cycle, because I've been dealing with Republicans who don't live in their district, who post racist memes on their social media, who don't pay their child support, who've declared bankruptcy, who've had sex scandals, who've taken to making jokes about bestiality, who are trying to hide from the Trump fiasco, who are proudly embracing Trump, or are Jason Lewis.  Since the first story on Holmstadt had to deal with her Facebook page, I decided to take a lookie.

I found this first:

Oh my GOD!  She would actually leave her daughters in a room with Donald Trump?!?  I get it, Republicans love to vilify their enemy to the Nth degree, but when you're backing Mr. Sexual Assault, trying to turn his disturbing and unforgivable behavior from a negative to a positive is WAY off base.  You've already, strangely, taken his side against women, but now you seem ready to offer your daughters to him as tribute.  WOW!

But politics aside, sometimes life gives you sweet, sweet lemonade.  I came across this message on Leilani Holmstadt's Facebook page:

Okay...I'm not sure about the etiquette of flash mobs, but one thing I don't think I've ever seen is them organized, visibly, via a public Facebook page.  The whole point of a flash mob is to catch everyone off guard, but Holmstadt wouldn't be the first politico to try to misappropriate a popular, youthful, social media fueled, cultural activity in a pathetic attempt to look cool.  

So, how did it go?


That's a total of 7, SEVEN people!!!  Leilani must not know what the term 'mob' means either, as this is far more an 'unruly milling about.'  For goodness sake, eight people liked the flash mob invite post.  What happened to the last guy?

Anyone with a small fraction of common sense would've known to not post this picture, as all it would be is an invite to ridicule and mock.  Mission Accomplished!  Not to downplay her anti-woman stance and her blind stupidity in regards to her daughters and Trump, but this is by far the dumbest thing I saw on her Facebook page.  

I think the next time he offers up a "flash mob," I think we should organize a far larger one, maybe with 15 or 16 people, to drown out all of Leilani's flash mob sadness.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Friday Link for 10/21/16

It is MEA weekend and so I've been out running around with the kids.

From on top of the Science Museum, looking out away from the downtown onto the Mississippi River.

The Conservatory (gorgeous),

The Carousel 

I'll make it quick tonight with two fun clips.  First is more Bad Lip Reading from...Bad Lip Reading.  It's Poetry Slam time, Presidential Debate Edition!

And for the the time of the year, some Halloween laughs from Jerry Seinfeld, still probably the funniest man in America.  Please click on the link and Enjoy!

Jerry Seinfeld on Candy and Halloween!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Another year, another birthday.  Forty eight this time.  Thanks for all the well wishes.  It's very appreciated.

Having kids who are 15, 12 and 9, I often get asked to explain what the good old days of my youth were like.  Looking back helps me understand the life of my ancestors; my parents, grandparents and so on.  My father grew up in the age of an ever shrinking globe.  He was born in 1929, and is still alive today, having witnessed the conquering of air travel, making distances which were year long journeys into a series of flights over two days.  The moon was something unattainable in the sky when he was a kid.  Today we've actually seen close up pictures of Pluto.  Distance grew smaller in his life.

His mother, my grandmother, witnessed the beginning of a northern Minnesota frontier; a wild and alien place when she was born there, it became a tamed wilderness by the time she died at 103.  She was born as Roosevelt was finishing out McKinley's second term.  She didn't make it to Obama's victory, but she saw the first African American man to be President actually campaigning.  She saw the first cars rolling off the assembly lines, watching them move from luxury item to mandatory family need.  She saw the Great Depression and was the first generation to live in the time of options, something her parents never really dreamed of.

When I look back on my life, obviously computers are the biggie.  When I was a kid, computers still hadn't infiltrated the workplace.  I remember my father having a job, something like "regional sales manager for applied products, midwest division," which begged to be downsized when computers started to get rolling.  I remember the first wave of computers sending a lot of people to the unemployment office in the late 70's/early 80's.  I remember floppy disks, and really crappy computer games, which seemed so cutting edge when they were introduced.  I remember the main use of my first computer being to write letters I would still mail to my friends, feeling guilty because printing off pages was too impersonal.  I remember the continued march forward in technology.

I've gotten quite a few birthday greetings via Facebook and Twitter.  It is by far the most common method of wishing me a happy birthday this year.  Ten years ago, as hard as this is to comprehend, it was mainly e-mail messages.  Ten years before that, 1996, was the first year I had an e-mail address. Only two or three people I knew had one, so most of my birthday well wishes came either in the mail, in person or over the phone.

I remember evening newspapers, and my father demanding we all be quiet as he watched the evening news.  I remember timing my phone calls to keep the cost down.  I remember preparing my show for three hours (for a three hour radio show) by ensuring I was at a library with enough time to either make notes, or pay the pricy copier costs of five cents per copy.  I remember my parents refusing to drive me to my best friends house five miles away, because he was "too far away for a best friend."  Today, some of my kid's more regular friends live 20 miles away.

I remember the freedom we all felt with cassette tapes.  I remember CD's being incredible when they were introduced, such a cleaner sound, but you couldn't record on them, so cassettes still dominated.  Eventually came recordable CD's and then MP3.  I can't remember the last full album I purchased.  I wonder what to do with the large box of CD's I have in the garage, as my next computer probably won't even be able to play the antiquated technology.

I remember watching something on TV I didn't like, or had seen twenty times before,  because the other four channels had nothing on I cared for.  I remember the original cable television, with 12 channels; The Weather Channel, ESPN with Australian rules football, MTV with wall to wall music, and CNN.  What was I going to do with all of these viewing options?  Today I have 150 channels I never watch.

I remember the joy of getting a letter in the mail, a brief update from a friend far away.  I remember sitting with friends and talking without glowing rectangles always at arms reach.

I remember my mother planning out meals, with meats defrosting days before they were to be cooked.  I remember the microwaves first coming into our house, and how awful the food out of them tasted.  Today, many people consider warming up a microwave meal 'home cooking.'

I remember gas stations being only where you got gas, and automotive supplies.  Slowly they added candy and soda, and now each one is a mini grocery store, many of them better stocked than some of the grocery stores of my youth.

I remember phones which were attached to the wall, and how the first wireless phones were only good for about 20 feet around the base, but you still felt so free!

I remember smokers EVERYWHERE!  I remember smokers getting angry if a restaurant had non-smoking seating, sitting next to non-smokers, blowing smoke in their direction.  Most of those people are probably long dead.

I could go on and on, but my kids mock me enough as it is.  I don't want to dwell in the past.  Just remember it.  Remember what you can, tell it to someone, and maybe it'll help them evaluate what they need to remember, as the world they grow up in disappears right before their eyes.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Quick Hits for 10/16/16

  • Let's start with the disturbing video of the Edina Police clearly overstepping their bounds.  They manhandled an African American man whose only crime was walking around a construction site in Edina, getting slightly close to the shoulder line, with Edina Police in turn treating him far rougher than they should have.  Edina Police say they only treated the man, Larnie Thomas, the same way they treat everyone else.  As a white man who lived in Edina, that's the largest pile of horse crap I've ever heard.  There is NO WAY, they do the same thing to a white guy, even if the white guy was drunk as a skunk.  I've witnessed the drunk and disorderly behavior of Edina kids, white kids, as they almost seem to try to get into trouble, and the police don't even bat an eye.  Nope, this was pure harassment of a man because he was African American, plain and simple.  Thomas was stopped for WWB, 'Walking While Black.'
  • Since Edina wants to insist this incident has nothing to do with race, let's have a little history lesson about Edina.  Edina originally (pre-1900) was actually a very inclusive town, but it all changed when they became a "Sundown Town," so called because the city passed laws which insisted people of a certain ethnic groups (in the case of Edina, African Americans and the Jewish) were to be off the streets and out of town by sundown.  While they were developing certain parts of Edina in the 1900's, deed restrictions were used to keep Edina as caucasian as possible, with language such as:  "No lot shall ever be sold, conveyed, leased, or rented to any person other than one of the white or Caucasian race, nor shall any lot ever be used or occupied by any person other than one of the white or Caucasian race, except such as may be serving as domestics for the owner or tenant of said lot, while said owner or tenant is residing thereon." How charmingly racist!  Even though such restrictions were struck down by the Supreme Court in the 1940's, Edina was still trying to be their own little slice of the Aryan Race well into the 1960's.  In certain Edina neighborhoods, neighbors were trying to get African American homes condemned, as a way to drive them out of their own personal 'Lily White Dale.'  Proud 1960's Edina-ites insisted Edina contained "Not one Negro and not one Jew."  And let's not forget, due to very small minority population 'invading' elements of the east side, Edina actually split their school district into two in the early 1970's, with 'white as snow' Edina West and 'less than 5% minority population, but still too ethnic for West kids,' Edina East.  It was less than ten years later, after Edina East kept winning boys state hockey championships, Edina West folks starting asking themselves if having one school district with a tiny minority population would be such a bad thing, eventually reuniting the district in 1981.  My sophomore year at Edina was with the seniors who were the last group to be separated, and they insisted the small east side minority population was the only reason the schools were split.  Yes Edina, you do have a history with this sort of thing, and no, it's not ancient history.
  • One of the more interesting aspects of the tape of Larnie Thomas' arrest is who took it.  Janet Rowles is a professional mediator, appears to be caucasian, appears to be more affluent than most individuals recording questionable police behavior, and was trying desperately to calm the officer in question down.  She clearly saw an officer overstepping his bounds.  This element, her mediation during the video, is more damning evidence against the officer, accentuating the racism far past what our eyes see alone.  She's comes across as a better police officer, suggesting a community friendly solution, as opposed to the overzealous officer who's throwing Thomas around like a rag doll.  In regards to the officer in question, there's a bi-polar element in the way he communicates with Thomas and Rowles individually.  He seems to treat the white woman taping him with a very different tone from the one he uses on the individual he's harassing.  And since the person video taping is not some 20-something kid, friend of the victim, or an opportunist trying to make a buck, this video becomes much harder for the Edina Police to wipe aside.  Maybe Edina Police should hire Janet Rowles to teach them some professional mediation skills.  They clearly need them.
  • Is the Presidential Election of 2016 actually coming down to this:  the first woman in US history with a realistic shot at the office, taking on someone who could be the most misogynistic candidate ever to attempt to win the White House?  If someone was to offer this script to the Lifetime Movie Network, they'd insist it was too unbelievable.  It doesn't seem real, and as we dig through the ugly history of Donald Trump, exposing the disturbing, disgusting and demeaning behavior he's prides himself in, it almost seems like the Republican effort against Hillary Clinton boils down to them trying to find the ultimate antithesis of her.  Weird.
  • When you combine these stories (another African American getting treated unfairly by police/Trump exposing the ugly reality: almost all women have been, to some extent, sexually abused and mistreated by men, under the false argument the abuse is socially acceptable behavior within certain circles) maybe our awareness of these issues means we're witnessing something good.  Our acceptance of this continued atrocious behavior is wearing away.  It'll still take years, if not decades, to eliminate just these two injustices alone, but if we can at least start to see the abuse, and accept it's continued existence is unacceptable, maybe we can start to build on hope.  To paraphrase Tony "ClownCar" Cornish, only with sanity and dignity:  "Here beginith the lesson."
  • Finally, I leave you with a dark, gnawing fear in my heart.  I'm terrified the Russians, the Nazi's or just some delusional Trump fan will attempt to kill Hillary Clinton.  Right now, its the only option that gets them a win.  They're not going to be able to overcome the Trump missteps, and every day he seems to be getting more and more unhinged.  The Russians would have a tremendous amount to gain from a Trump victory.  Since their leader, Putin, has killed off most of his enemies, is it too hard to believe there might be Russian para-military in the United States today, plotting an assassination attempt?  The Nazi's were a laughing stock, until the Cheney/Rove GOP voter initiatives started to welcome them into the mainstream.  You think they want to go back?  And as far a a lone wolf nutbag, how many years of absorbing right leaning media screaming "they're going to kill everything you love, kill everyone you know, and take all your money, unless someone stops them!" do you think they need before they finally become convinced killing their political opponents is what Jesus wants them to do?  Trump himself has insisted the election is already fraudulent.  My guess is the guns are going to be coming out soon.  If not for Hillary, then for her supporters, or for the protesters at their rallies, or for the media they hate for reporting the truth, or for the polling places on election day.  If any of these tragedies comes to fruition, then we need to hold the enablers from the right accountable for what they've wrought.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Friday Link for 10/14/16

WOW!  The revelations about Donald Trump this week...seriously, 7 days ago, we were just beginning hear about the tape from the bus.  Today, the number of women accusing him of inappropriate contact is growing by leaps and bounds every day, while he seems to be in full Beer Hall Putsch mode.

Make sure the Republicans you know don't try to avoid acknowledging their role in creating Trump.  They might not have supported him this election, but they're all responsible for his being the 2016 option.  You ever post a birth certificate meme?  Your fault!  You ever insist Sarah Palin was a great choice for America?  Your fault!  You ever watch the evening programming on Fox News and insist it was actual news?  Your Fault!  You ever purposely ignore the inexcusable behavior and comments of the GOP for the last 20 years?  Your Fault!  You applaud the insane "destroy government before ever working with the other side" mantra of the GOP?  YOUR FAULT!

I'm off to party tonight.  I need to forget all of...this.  Remember VOTE on November 8th!

Ichabod Crane was always one of my favorite Disney cartoons, but it really doesn't get good until the last bit.  No one will criticize you if you jump ahead.  Enjoy some Fall entertainment in the form of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.  It's not the best video but it's still better than watching more of the ick.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Look in the Mirror

It's incredible how badly the GOP brand has been damaged this election cycle.  The party's standards, unbreakable ideals from 30 years ago, principles handed down by the GOP God Reagan himself, are now ashes, burned to keep the party faithful warm as they embrace an ice cold candidate, Donald Trump, a candidate who's everything they've fought against for the last few decades.  Trump, by embracing racism, islamophobia, misogyny, and homophobia wrapped in a bogus, dirty 'family values' wrapper, and by insisting he'd be very anti-abortion and 'huge' for business, has become the candidate they blindly follow, as they eradicate the moral code they still foolishly think they're abiding by.

How bad is it getting?  One example:  this last summer, Republicans were going out of their way to discriminate against the transgender community, in some cases proposing multi million dollar solutions to the false problem of transgender people using the restrooms they gender identify with.  The party of small government and personal liberty was proposing universal state wide gender databases, an idea which would come with a massive expansion of governmental overreach and taxpayer cost.  They also suggested Crotch Cops, people stationed at restrooms across the country to actually serve as 'inspectors,' abusive goalkeepers invading individual's genitalia to determine if it was safe to let them go tinkle.  They did this all under the false narrative 'it's to prevent creeps from grabbing people's genitals.' 

Three months later, they're now not only supporting a candidate for President we have on tape boastfully bragging about grabbing a woman by her genitals, but the same exact people behind the bathroom bill nonsense are making ludicrous excuses for Trump's inexcusable behavior.  And this is only one example of hundreds I could make.

Let's face it, the Republican Party is no longer about winning with their candidates.  It's about defeating their perceived enemies, antagonist du jour's they've falsely hyper-inflated to video game levels of super-villainy.  They take a regular politician, turn him or her into Hitler infinite, and then insist the best way to deal with their self created problem is to nuke the country.  In their reality, Tump's the nukes they're cheering on, as they stand on the targets!

If you're a moderate Republican, and you're voting for Trump, I don't understand you.  There's nothing he's proposing which is remotely moderate.  Trump is extremism for extremism sake, so you voting for him officially negates any ability for you to claim you're a moderate ever again.

If you're a fiscally conservative Republican, and you're voting for Trump, I understand you even less.  The tax bills he's proposing would triple the national debt.  His insane ideas of building walls and throwing out all undocumented people would cost in the trillions of dollars, and will not work.  Trump's mere victory would send this country into an economic slide, with American companies likely leaving US soil to prevent from experiencing a total economic catastrophe, so you voting for him officially negates any ability for you to claim you're fiscally conservative ever again.

If you're a Reagan Republican, and you're voting for Trump, you're betraying everything Reagan ever stood for.  Only the most intentionally oblivious fool would not see the clear ties to Putin and Russia. Reagan would've NEVER allowed a foreign country to potentially influence the policy decisions of the US.  A recent Newsweek story ( pointed out Trump has undeniably gotten fed political smear talking points from the Russian Government and Wikileaks.  Trump is a puppet of Putin, so you voting for him officially negates any ability for you to claim you're a Reagan Republican ever again.

If you're a Christian Conservative, and you're voting for Trump, you're betraying almost everything the Bible stands for.  I'm not the one who brought religion into this discussion, YOU DID, so don't get angry when I point out your massive level of hypocrisy.  You wrap yourself in one political point, abortion, a topic I addressed quite thoroughly in the September post titled 'Abortion.'  A reminder, many Democrats are personally against abortion and Democrats don't force people to have abortions, regardless of how much your fever dreams tell you they do.  And as you micro focus on abortion, or stopping gay people (something which is far more about your strange fascination with how gay people have sex), you ignore pretty much every other Christian teaching, from both the Old and New Testaments.  Trump doesn't care about the hungry, sick, homeless, needy, elderly, children, strangers from strange lands, or any other subgroup Jesus indisputably tells us to care for, so you voting for him officially negates any ability for you to claim you're standing for Christian values ever again. 

For God's sake Republicans, look in the mirror!  Turn off the Fox News.  Turn off the extremist right wing media.  Turn off your racist and derogatory social media feeds, and use YOUR brains for once.  Realize who exactly you're getting into bed with, and what it will cost us all if he wins.  You could come to grips with Hillary Clinton not being the demagogue you've turned her into, but a reminder; you don't have to vote for ANYONE.  This is not a "I have no option but to vote for Trump" scenario.  My rant isn't an attempt to trick you.  It's an attempt to save your souls.

If you vote for Trump, I'll never take you guys seriously again, even if Trump gets walloped on November 8th.  You'll have proven to the world your morals, beliefs values and standards are not real.  You'll have proven you're too stupid for us to listen too, ever again.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Locker Rooms

Last Friday, an incredibly offensive video from 2005 emerged from Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, where he describes his propositioning, belittling, intimidating and sexual assaulting of women, including married women, to entertainment reporter Billy Bush, a conversation both seemed to be very proud of at the time it was being recorded.  This conversation was recorded when the microphones these two jackasses were wearing were still live, but the cameras were off.

Trump's primary defense of these comments is that he and Bush were only partaking in 'locker room talk,' implying this is some sort of acceptable conversation when men are alone in locker rooms.  Setting aside the asinine thought process this kind of conversation would EVER be acceptable, regardless of location or gender makeup of the crowd (BECAUSE IT'S NEVER ACCEPTABLE!), it does give me an opportunity to clear up some misconceptions and cliches which are being perpetrated by a sexual abuser running for office.  Let me explain what happens in men's locker rooms.

Locker rooms are not some venue where the male only environment perpetrates lewd and disturbing conversations.  It's not like men love going into locker rooms, because, "even though I'm a doctor, husband, church leader, and father, I can't wait to talk about the hot bod on the chickie poo I saw in my office the other day!"  Locker rooms are usually very quiet, with everyone keeping to themselves.  Men don't talk to each other in locker rooms, and when it does happen, especially when it's a complete stranger, it's awkward and uncomfortable.  Why are you talking to me as I'm naked, taking a shower?  If it does happen, it's almost always a sports related conversation, but frankly, most will shy away from neutral communication in a room full of naked, or partially clothed, men of varying ages.  It's really not acceptable.  It's like striking up a conversation with the guy the next urinal over.  This isn't the place most men are looking to make friends.

But yes, when men get together in a male only group, regardless of whether it's in a locker room, hunting cabin, or just going out drinking for the night, a small percentage of men will think it's a safe environment to talk about women, minorities, or other religions in a derogatory way.  It's not acceptable, and when it does happen (usually due to the intake of liquor), the rest of the group usually tells the fool to shut up.

I was at the Ridgedale YMCA a few years back, in a male only group of white men in the weight training area, when an older gentleman, I'm guessing around 60, started in on why the NFL were fools to allow black men to be quarterback, as he insisted African Americans lacked the physical ability to do so.  There's no way I was going to let this racist attack go unchallenged, and I proceeded to dismantle his uneducated argument point by point, finishing him off with by telling him, "if I ever hear you say anything else so bigoted and inappropriate again, I would report you to Y management."  I never saw him again.  Three other men came up after I confronted him, saying thanks for knocking him down, insisting they were about to do the same.

Most men, regardless of location or group gender make up, are decent people who don't tolerate jackasses.

The kind of man who makes derogatory and demeaning comments about women, or other races and religions, usually has some specific characteristics.  They're usually described as 'from humble backgrounds,' which is better translated as 'not too intelligent, lacking confidence, lacking basic social manners and desperately looking for some coveted acceptance and admiration from their peers.'  They usually walk into conversations feeling inferior, aware of their limited social skills, so their bragging about sexual conquests is a foolish attempt to impress men they feel inferior too.  They don't understand most men aren't impressed by such bluster and boasting, and are actually offended by the inappropriate conversation.  When they go after minorities or religious beliefs, it's usually because of the false assumption, "since it's a room full of white Christians, they clearly must all agree with me!" No, we don't.

I should mention this also seems to be the feeling at most GOP rallies and events today.  "We're in safe company so enough about this PC culture crap!"

It's funny these people don't realize most men can see through this false bravado.  Real men don't need to brag about their sexual prowess or conquests.  My experience is the only people who do are lying.  It's the Canadian Girlfriend paradox.  If you're telling us how great your sex life is, most of us know you're making it up.  People who have satisfying sex lives and interesting sexual experiences don't ever talk about them.  They don't need to.  When I see Trump's tasteless grandstanding, wether a real life accounting of his illegal and immoral lecherous behavior or a completely fabricated story of him bragging about assaulting women, I see a guy pathetically attempting to impress other men.  Let that sink in for a second.  By the way, the only thing more pathetic is the loser who's impressed with such ignorant, criminal, misogynist, and perhaps fictitious bogus tales (Billy Bush).

Trump is trying to use the 'locker room' excuse as a way to imply "all men do it."  No they don't!!!  The vast majority of men are offended by such comments and all Trump is trying to do is cover his caboose by giving all men a bad name.  Donald Trump, you don't speak for me.  From the bottom of my heart, "Shut up, you jackass!"

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Friday Link for 10/7/16

I'm not really in the funny mood on a Friday night:  Donald Trump's sexual assault admission tape, being reminded of Rep. Jim Newberger's racism, being shown new reasons to hate Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, and pathetic losers who want to dress up like clowns (but to be fair, all four categories can be labeled as pathetic losers dressed up like clowns).

To turn this frown upside down, how about the Daily Show?  Why not!  They've been putting out top notch product lately, so I'll hand them the stage.

***WARNING - A lot of rough language, especially Ronny Chieng's piece, but considering the level of racism he's addressing, it's justified.  YOU'VE BEEN WARNED***

First up Lewis Black in a Back in Black from Wednesday night.  This was almost as good as the Fox News/Nazi rant he did a few years back.

Then Trever Noah dismantles Tomi Lahren and her incredibly stupid video clips.  

Finally, it's Ronny Chieng who has a very big problem with the incredible level of racism shown by the Bill O'Reilly show to the Asian community.  It's hard to understand how even an incompetent organization like Fox News would allow a piece like this get anywhere close to on-air!

A lot of bad language!  

The video won't post, so here is the link:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mob Rule

Ever since the First Presidential Debate, little more than a week ago, I've been flabbergasted at the continued passionate support of Donald Trump by people who proudly considered themselves Republicans.  These aren't the crazy folks who embody the Tea Party movement, or militia types who've been welcomed to leave their compounds and enter the modern Republican party.  These are people who, although I disagreed with them on some issues, seemed sane.  Their continued following of Trump has left me asking how they can still be so in love with Donald.  Then, I witnessed the GOP Vice Presidential nominee, Governor Mike Pence, and his debate performance.  Now things are starting to make more sense.

During the first Presidential Debate, Trump was insultive, combative, childishly interruptive and obsessed with personal vendettas and issues (has ANYONE called Sean Hannity?).  He followed up the worst debate performance I've ever witnessed with A WEEK of him, and his entire staff, body shaming a former pageant contestant, culminating in a series of bizarre text messages early on the morning of September 30th, with one encouraging all Americans, including kids, to watch a non existent sex tape of said pageant contestant.  Over the weekend, he insisted his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was guilty of sleeping around on her husband, former President Bill Clinton, even though he has absolutely zero evidence of any affairs.  He then started mocking her health.  Then came the bombshell revelation from the New York Times; he personally, not professionally, lost ONE BILLION DOLLARS in a single year, a devastating annual loss for a self proclaimed wildly successful business man, a loss which was so staggering, he was able to qualify for the IRS pity party program, allowing him to not pay ANY taxes for years.  Finally, a mere week after his horrendous debate performance, he decided to put a cherry on top of his crap sundae by indirectly criticizing soldiers returning from combat suffering from PTSD, implying only weak people have an issue with PTSD.  WOW!

Going back and reading that last paragraph, I'm stunned Trump has any pull within the old elements of the GOP.  Reagan era Moderate Republicans, Reagan Republicans themselves, Fiscal Conservatives and even the Christian Conservatives should all be abandoning him, not necessarily for Hillary, but at least not supporting something they've never been.  Instead, large portions of those four groups still LOVE Trump, and still think of him as their savior.  I couldn't figure it out.

Then came the Vice Presidential candidate debate Tuesday night; Mike Pence for the GOP, and Tim Kaine for the Democrats.  Although Pence did a better job than Trump (not exactly the highest hurdle to clear) he was desperately denying he or Trump ever said all the nasty things he and Trump have said, all the stuff we have them on tape actually saying, undeniable lies which Pence knows he can't get away with.  Why would he even say they never said them?  By 6 AM yesterday morning Hillary had already taken Pence's denials and placed them in a commercial, juxtaposing him next to himself saying the things he denies having said.  Pretty good stuff.

Then it hit me.  He's saying they never said this things because the people who support Trump need the validation to keep marching in anger.  If Trump and Pence ever acknowledged the things they've said, their rational supporters would start to question why they're supporting them, so they create a validation; "they insisted they never said it, so good enough for me!  Now I'm off to the next Trump rally to hear more!"  We are looking at a Republican Party far less like the political party of the past, and far more like an unruly mob; angry, seething and looking to take out their enemies any way possible.

It's not necessarily their fault.  They've been brainwashed by 20 years of far right media fueling their hatred of all things Democrat.  For awhile, it was Barack Obama taking the primary thrust of their combined hatred, but he was always the warm up act.  The pure hatred the modern Republican embraces has always been micro focused on Hillary Clinton, and now's the time to let it all out.  Their internal insanity, which is usually confined, has been unleashed, and much like a mob marching to the jail, wanting to dish out mob rule justice, they're marching in unison to their goal.  Funny thing, I don't think their real goal is a Trump victory, rather their main goal is stopping Hillary from winning without thinking about the consequences.

Historically, when mobs have formed and done heinous acts (lynchings, arson, running a certain ethnic group out of town, going after a politician they don't like, open rebellion in the streets), there are two separate mindsets in place:  the mindset of the mob combined, and the mindset of the individuals within the mob.  We've all seen the photos of lynch mobs of the past proudly smiling as they point to the lifeless hung body, while their kids play at the corpses feet. Unforgivable.  But when people who were part of the lynch mob are confronted individually, there's a whitewashing to their actions.  "Sure I was there, and maybe there were one or two people doing bad things, but the most of us had nothing to do with the dead body," says the person in the photo smiling as they point to the victim.  They convince themselves of a reality which doesn't exist to validate the bad behavior they might've participated in.

By the way, this is why Allied Commanding Officers insisted on marching the German citizens past the barely alive living and the piles of the dead from the concentration camps.  They wanted the German people to own their shame, never being able to push it off onto others.  It was their fault, as a nation, no exceptions.

The Trump mob isn't to the point of heinous acts, like lynching, but they're already dabbling in violence.  At their rallies, people scream white power, cheering on the harsh language geared at minorities, women, Muslims, gays and Latinos.  They gleefully applaud when the crowd starts attacking a protester; punching, slapping and kicking, convinced their violence is justified.  When they come out of their rallies, they immediately rewrite history:  "I wasn't the guy punching the woman with the kid.  I would never encourage anything like that!"  Yes you were, or at least you were cheering it on like it was a winning touchdown!

Trump figured out the modern GOP id better than the rest of the GOP field.  There's a shocking amount of Republicans who want to call African Americans the N word, want to throw all Latinos out of the country, regardless of where they were born.  They want to smack their female coworker on the caboose, demanding sex when they want it, and if the wife at home gets out of line, they want to be able to smack her around to 'teach her a lesson.'  They not only want to scream "Jesus Hates You" in gay people's faces, but they actually want to make gay existence a crime.  They want to torture a Muslim, any Muslim, even people who look slightly Muslim, feeling as if it's some sort of payback for all terrorism.  They want to take the wealth from those who disagree with them, making them pay for the world they think they should be able to enjoy for free.  Trump saw this internal sickness, and corralled it like a master rancher.

Not ALL Republicans have these traits, but you all see them being displayed as the bellwether of your party.  Instead of calling out the bad behavior, you either rationalize it away as a much smaller percentage than it really is, act like you can't hear anything, or insist Hillary is far worse so you tolerate it.  You're the problem.  If the four GOP elements I mentioned earlier, the Reagan era Moderates, Reagan Republicans, Fiscal Conservatives and the Christian Right all woke up, realized this is not how you want to be identified, by a candidate and his mob of supporters who represent pretty much everything you've fought against, then the mob wouldn't have the power anymore.  The mob gets dispersed.

Instead, you all clap along with the hatred, keeping your mouth shut even when you hear your party embrace the worst of humanity, as you all angrily march towards November.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Take it to the Bank

Wells Fargo is (unfortunately) my bank.  On Thursday, I went over to their offices in Hopkins, and demanded to see every account opened in my family's name.  They complied, very quickly, and after I confirmed I wasn't abused by my own bank, I expressed my disgust at having to actually come to the bank to confirm the bank hadn't defrauded me, a customer!  The banker, a nice enough guy, said, what I presume to be, the Wells Fargo ordered standard response; "We got rid of the 5300 bad apples!"  I went OFF on him for saying something which 1) was ignorant, and 2) assumed I was a complete moron.

In case you missed it, what Wells Fargo did, in the post-2008 age of responsible banking, was disgusting.  Wells Fargo wanted to continue to look like a growing financial institution, but the problem for them was the only way you grow as a bank is to get additional new customers, or to have your existing customers expand the number of accounts they individually have.  Wells Fargo's solution was to start, illegally, opening up accounts in their own customer's names.  These accounts were opened without the knowledge of their customers, and were usually closed before anything bad happened, but in many cases, penalties and overdraft charges were placed upon the unknowing customers.  Wells Fargo was basically stealing from their own accounts.  The expanded account base made it seem like Wells Fargo was expanding their customer base, and it allowed them to keep up with Wall Street expectations, falsely inflating the stock price, and allowing the bank's executive class to steal millions of dollars in fraudulent gains.

Let me take a quick moment to explain the modern Wall Street.  Used to be, if you were a publicly traded company on a Wall Street market, your stock price was directly tied to the quarterly performance of the company.  If a company had a good quarter, their stock prices went up.  If they had a bad quarter, the company's stock went down.  The stock market was meant to be a marketplace for wealthy investors to find up and coming businesses who might give them a return on their investment.  Occasionally it was a great return, but most of the time is was luke warm at best.  The company's success was generally tied to the health of the US economy as a whole, and the quarterly internal company reports.  The stock market was never intended to primarily be a 'get rich quick' scheme.  There were always some people who'd gamble on future earnings, but it was considered to be reckless and unwise to gamble money like that.

Things started changing in the 1970's.  A new mentality started to arise; the Wall Street speculators insisted they were the REAL geniuses, and THEIR bets on future corporate earnings should be the standard the company was held too.  When the company achieved THEIR expectations, the company was rewarded, but when a company didn't acheive THEIR expectations, even when the company had a very profitable quarter, the company was labeled a failure, needing to be punished.  Many companies had great years, but because it wasn't as profitable as the speculators thought it should be, rightly or wrongly, the company suffered overall.  That's insane.  It's very Las Vegas:  I'm playing 21.  I have 17 and I tell the dealer to hit me, because I'm convinced the next card is a 4 or lower.  It's a Jack.  I then insist I didn't lose, rather the dealer is the real bad guy for not giving me the card I wanted.  It's a system based on false standards, very easily manipulated.  If you're a dishonest executive, all you have to do is find out where the speculators think your company should be, and then manipulate the profit margins of your own company to exceed it; instant millions in your stock portfolio.

Wells Fargo executives openly encouraged the fraudulent accounts.  They set quotas for their employees, with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf encouraging 8 accounts per customer.  The bank told their workers to make it happen, OR ELSE!  It's hard to determine where exactly the 'open fraudulent accounts' order came from, but considering the amount of money the executives made from a manipulated stock price, it clearly points to the executives themselves, and one in particular, Carrie Tolstedt, the executive head of the division where the fake accounts originated.  Carrie, when the reality of her illegal corporate manipulation was about to come to light, was able to retire before facing the music.

Let me go back to why I went off on the poor banker for insisting the bank was better because they got rid of the 5300 bad apples.  THIS WAS THEFT!  The executives not only stole money from their own customer base with their unethical practices, they did it so the bonuses and stock options they received would be worth 3 to 4 times more than they should've been. The 5300 low level employees who opened these fraudulent accounts did so under orders to do so, so to punish them, under the guise of 'we got the bad apples' is insanely short sided.  For goodness sake, Wells Fargo openly punished employees who tried to report the fraudulent behavior, complaints which clearly were seen by the executive class.

The employees weren't ordered to do this by a single low level manager, or his manager, or his manager.  5300 employees don't do this kind of manipulation without commands from the executives.  For Wells Fargo to imply they've solved the problem, by firing the employees whom they knowingly ordered to defraud their own customers, is an empty, comical solution.

We need to have FAR harsher penalties for this kind of white collar crime.  Many people in this country insist a liquor store robber who stole $50 needs to go to jail for 30 years, but when you talk about corporate banking executives stealing hundreds of millions of dollars via entrusted customer money and falsely manipulated stock prices, they shrug.  The executives who participate in this level of crime do so knowing they'll never face any punishment, let alone jail time.  The worst punishment many of these executives will get is a six figure payout from the company.

Carrie Tolstedt, the one executive we can definitively point to as the criminal in this case, will walk away with $124 million dollars in compensation from Wells Fargo.  She's 56 years old.  That means, if she lives to be 96, she'll have to find a way to survive on only 3.1 million dollars per year (if she doesn't make any more money on future stock value or interest).  If that wasn't tough enough for poor little Carrie, depending on her employment and retirement agreement, she might also have to live in a house paid for by Wells Fargo (THE SHAME!).  She might have multiple cars and a vacation home included as part of her executive class freebies.  All her monthly bills are probably covered for a few years, a common high end executive perk, and her gold plated health care plan for her and her family is likely covered for the rest of her life.  She'll likely have some sort of travel benefit, where Wells Fargo will cover her first class flights forever.  She'll still likely have her free exclusive corporate country club membership, her high end health club membership and access to the Wells Fargo tickets for every sporting and arts event her family wants to attend (in the luxury suites, of course!).   Wells Fargo might have even agreed to cover all of her family's high end education expenses, all the way through college.  But I'm sure she's learned her lesson.  AND THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT WOULD HAPPEN TO HER!  Is it any wonder we continue to have massive corporate fraud, perpetrated by a greed worshipping executive class?

We need to walk into Wells Fargo and grab Stumpf, Tolstedt and every executive who might have had a whiff of this fraud, drag them out by their short hairs and throw them into prison for the rest of their freaking lives!  They need to be made an example of.  They need to go to jail for violating the one thing a bank can't, the accounts of their own customers.  They need to go to jail for ordering their low level employees to break the law, and then acting like the low level employees came up with such a grandiose fraud on their own.  They need to go to jail for so being so brazen; for allowing the guilty parties to get their ducks in a row before the public became aware.  They need to go to jail because they are common criminals.  They need to go to jail because they stole millions of dollars.

Wells Fargo has historically wrapped their product within an image of a stagecoach riding the west, evading thieves and robbers, as they care for the money their customers have entrusted with them.  The updated version of their image should have the robbers and thieves actually holding the reins and driving the stagecoach.