Saturday, December 31, 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Friday Link for 12/30/16

2016 is not a serial killer.  I don't fear it as such, rather I'll always look back on 2016 as a disappointment.  I think Trump's fans won't be fondly remembering 2016 in a few years either.  So long; good riddance.

The hardest loss for me was Prince.  The blog went purple for a year in honor of him, and there's rarely a day I don't listen to one of his songs.

The biggest disappointment was not Trump's election, per say, but rather the realization the United States, a country which has controlled it's international fate for the last 125 years, was finally brought to it's knees by the combination of a foreign country hacking our political parties, our state election offices and our entire election, and the inexcusable acceptance of said hacking by the Republicans.  We used to control the world, now we're the controlled.  We're no longer a super power...

But that all said, I might've found the best video ever to send off the craziness that was 2016.  This is perfect!

I'm a big fan of Parks and Recreation.  It's a wonderfully clever show filmed in the style of The Office, filmed from the perspective of a never seen documentary film crew following around the characters as they work in the Park and Rec department of an Indiana town.  The show was jammed packed with jokes, so many you had to watch it twice to catch them all.  Adam Scott's character on the show was Ben Wyatt, a municipal budget consultant, and an amazing character.  In many episodes, he represented the viewer's perspective, as the insanity swirled around him.  Next to Jason Bateman, Scott is the best straight man in Hollywood right now.

One of the quirks Ben Wyatt had was to look into the camera when something particularly bizarre happened or was said.  It added so much to the show.  Someone spliced together all of the times Ben looked into the camera.  It's fantastic!

As you watch this, think about the year that was and ask yourself how many times did you stop and do a double take just like Ben Wyatt.

Goodbye 2016!  You will not be missed...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Oncoming Storm

Twenty five years ago, when someone overseas would ask what the difference between Democrats and Republicans were, I'd answer, "they're not too different.  Actually, they're close on the political spectrum.  The main difference is Democrats feel there are some larger societal problems where the government has an obligation to help it's citizens.  Republicans feel as if giving everyone all their tax dollars back and letting them decide what services they want, regardless of how much more expensive it'd cost, is the best solution."

That was then...

Republicans today have been effectively brainwashed into thinking the Democrats are the greatest evil the planet has ever seen.  After 20 years of ridiculous comparisons to Hitler, Stalin, Communism, Fascism, Atheist theocracies, and anti-Americanism, the modern Republican has turned the Democratic Party into an amalgamation of all of them; a demon straight from Milton.  They never validate any of the allegations against their opponents, just bathe in them, basting their fears in the drippings of an irrational 'them vs. us' narrative.  It's how they validated their vote for Nazi sympathizers.

They've become controlled, implanted with Republican color glasses which prevent them from ever holding the party they vote for accountable for anything, a filter which allows them to see undeniable racism, sexism and hatred as wholesome, American values and Christian doctrine.  They blame everything bad happening to them directly on the Democrats, even when Democrats haven't been involved in their local government for three decades.  They don't think anymore, they only react as told.

The people pulling the Republican voter's strings have spent the last eight years taking what should've been a major milestone in American politics, and turning it into an incubator of the worst of society.  The election of our first non-white President was turned into a new Republican rallying cry; a whites first voting standard; a racist litmus test in which they (white male Christians in control of North America for the last 500 years) are now (somehow) the weakened victim, their rights violated by the mere suggestion of equality for all.  It's where the mantra of 'white genocide' originated; a hatred infused political message summed up in the statement, "how dare they push a black president on us poor white people!"

It's Rovian politics.  Take your enemies strength and turn it into a weakness, and turn your biggest weakness (in the case of the GOP, their undeniable racist followers) into a 'strength.'  The Democrats are partially to blame, as they looked with adoration upon President Obama, insisting they didn't need to tout the positivity of the times they were living in, that the positivity would speak for itself; that the Obama Presidency validated them, that they'd been proven right.  That was their mistake.  The Republicans were allowed to create the right's racist narrative surrounding our first non-white President, and it's evolved into a disgusting mainstream voting platform.  It explains how every Republican voter today has embraced at least one racist issue (border walls, interment camps, religious screenings).

But it goes even further, summed up perfectly by one of my regular righto callers to my radio show, Randy in Coon Rapids.  When I asked him about the woefully inadequate Ben Carson being named to the position of Housing and Urban Development, Randy said, "the best part of it was how outraged I, and the rest of the Democrats, were at the nomination," adding "I love seeing you guys so upset!"  He gave up the ghost.  The Republican's priority, when it comes to voting, is no longer 'whose governing ideology do I agree with more,' but rather 'who will the Democrats hate more?'  It's terrifying to see them cheer on such incompetence, but when the goal is not effective government, but rather rubbing their opponents faces in the mess, it's what you get.  Republicans only want to see Democrats cry.  That's what makes them feel better about themselves, and their choices.

And here's reality - our political world is NEVER going back.  Members of the Democratic Party who want to return to a simpler political time, a mythical political time, need to understand that.  A world of intense, educated political debate, with each side offering their well crafted 75 page footnoted dissertations on policies, holding to a non-existent gentleman's agreement to 'agree to disagree' when there's no consensus, is all gone.  That political time, if it ever existed, will never return, not in our current, immediate self gratification society, a society which feels persecuted when they have to watch a whole thirty second commercial before their video streams.

Republicans are pro-wrestlers.  They don't want to have a debate.  They want to kill the Democrats, or at least trick them with a fake handshake so they can throw their faces into the steel cage. They're having success because they're built for succeeding in our modern warped world, and unless the Democrats change, they're going to become extinct.

The current Republican dominated election system can be defeated, but to do so will take a herculean effort.  Here's what we need to do:

  1.  Get a 2018 Democratic candidate running immediately in EVERY district in Minnesota (and nationwide).  If more than one candidate wants to run, great, but make sure they're targeting the real opponent, the Republican.  The current Republican system is based on a 10 month election cycle.  They're not prepared to campaign 24/7/365.  Yes, that's a commitment, but it's what needs to happen to win.
  2. EVERY district, even districts where the Democrats only pull 10%, need to have a Democratic challenger.  If the Republicans don't have to defend a seat, that money goes to pick off Democrats in Democratic leaning seats.  Make them fight for every seat they hold.  Take nothing for granted, and do not leave any district unchallenged.
  3. Stop thinking Facebook and Twitter posts are enough to win the day.  They're not.  They only give people a false feeling of accomplishment.  The only people those memes are talking to are people who primarily agree with them, so while motivating the troops is a great thing, it doesn't win over the masses.
  4. Jeff Stein, an exceptional political mind in Iowa, says it best - all politics is local!  Forget about selling large ideals to the masses and focus on a Democratic message around the issues which are priorities to the local community.  Identify a winning strategy with local appeal, one that embodies Democratic principles, and run with it.
  5. Get out of Democratic comfort zones and talk to the Republicans who never get approached by Democrats.  Every senior center, every agricultural meeting, every church picnic, every community event.  If Democrats are afraid to go into the lions den and preach their gospel, you're already giving up on voters.  That's no longer a luxury for the left.
  6. Everywhere you go demand the Republicans stand by their election promises, or explain why they failed to deliver.  Too many Republicans never deliver for their district, and are NEVER called out on it.  Make people realize the Republican campaign promises were lies and half truths.
  7. Start asking for time on every radio station which hits your district.  Start writing editorials in every newspaper in the district.  Start asking for interview time on all local television in the district.  Media outlets are usually conservative leaning, so kick open the doors and ask, politely, for equal time to talk about the issues.  If they refuse, start making sure everyone you know is aware of the unfair bias.  Applying pressure from the audience usually works.  
  8. Being media diverse is important, so have an ACTIVE presence on all social media platforms, especially Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Instagram.  This give you maximum coverage in all demographics.
  9. Find someone to make you a good looking webpage.  Doesn't have to be fancy, just competent and easy to navigate.
  10. Expand your formats! If you want to go into longer speeches, a blog is an excellent option.  Record your blog posts and offer them as a podcast.  Record a twice a month podcast where you talk about a specific issue in the district and what you'd do to address them.  Cross promote all of this on all of your formats.
  11. Stop trying to win over 2% of Republicans you pray are the difference makers.  You should be targeting the entire district.
  12. There's a very distinct difference between a Moderate Democrat and Republican Light.  If you don't want to be a proud Democrat, then don't run as one. 

Democratic issues are the issues which are popular to most voters.  By embracing them, and making them your focus, you immediately bring respectability and legitimacy to your campaign.  Yes, this is going to be hard work.  It's going to be a tremendous amount of hard work, but it's what needs to be done.  It's time to put down the strongly worded memos and it's time to start body slamming them!

This is now...

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Friday Link for 12/23/16

For Goodness sake, do not try to go into the candy aisle at a Target store the day before Christmas Eve!

If you're like me, you've probably had a bit of a stressful day.  How about a smile to turn those frowns upside down!

Saturday Night Live's all time best holiday skit, and it's not even close!  Warning - Adult themed!

Adam Ruins Everything and the real story on why 'It's a Wonderful Life' is such a holiday tradition today! (you have to click on that one)

Then, my all time favorite holiday bit, Patton Oswlat's dismantling of 'The Christmas Shoes.'  It seems appropriate since we actually started looking at the lyrics of Christmas music this year (maybe it's because of Trump and his grabbing tendencies), and people realized the lyrics of 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' were not as friendly as portrayed ("hmm, that seems kind of rape-y...")  Mind you, a lot of naughty language, for 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' and Patton!  No seriously, this is EXTREMELY naughty!

You'll have to click on the link for that one too!  Thanks!

I hope these put a smile on your face!  Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah everyone.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas, and Holiday, Spirit

I love the holidays, but man are they stressful.  I have gotten to the point where I condense as much of the stress into as few days as possible, mainly three.  Saturday was one.  Yesterday was another.  Today was the last.  To prove the stress, I have a head cold that has it's name written all over it.

Here are a few wonderful holiday images.  Enjoy.  I'll be posting more over the next few days, but I do need some downtime.  2016 has been a bear.

If you can't make it up to the 8th floor of the Minneapolis Macy's store, they do a wonderful, free Christmas exhibit, with the entire north pole and Santa.  This goes back to when it was Dayton's and then Marshal Field's.  We've done it every year with our kids.

The IDS Center has a lovely tree...

And a menorah!  Happy Hanukkah everyone!  It begins on Saturday!

My mother has always had style.  This decorative piece was quite stunning.

The Holiday show at The Minnesota Orchestra.  Who's that handsome fella?

And the tree in front of my house.  Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Kurt Daudt Grabs His Shinebox

Kurt Daudt is a liar.  This is an indisputable fact.  It's one of many disgusting traits the Minnesota Speaker of the House has, but it's probably his worst.  Kurt Daudt is a used car salesman.  Not a honest one, but the guy who tries to sweet talk you into an absolute crap car, and then insist when the car gets towed back to the dealership he never misrepresented the lemon.  Eventually he has some slack jawed, dim witted stooge pull a gun on the irate customer (kinda like his Montana incident).  To understand Speaker Daudt, let's look at how he's played the game, and witness the copious evidence of his lying.

In 2015, his first year as Speaker of the House, Daudt's strategy was to use a friendship with Senator Tom Bakk, the Democratic former Senate majority leader, as a wedge between outstate Democrats, the metro area Democrats and Governor Mark Dayton.  He did this by waiting until the very last second to introduce legislation, not even giving House members time to read it before having them vote.  He then threw it up to Bakk's Senate, where there was little expectation of a double cross.  Daudt made sure some things Bakk and a few moderate Democrats wanted were in the bill, but there was little knowledge of the "other stuff" Daudt had snuck in there.  It worked. When the Democrats in the House and Senate actually read what they voted on, their jaws dropped, but it was too late.  Governor Dayton had to allow some things through.  Daudt's plan worked like a charm, with Bakk, who I think was well aware he'd been used by Daudt, having to stick with the votes he'd been duped into.

In 2016, everyone was expecting a double cross from Daudt.  It tells you a lot about the character of the man when EVERYONE expects him to be deceitful.  Daudt's new strategy was to lie.  We know he outright lied about the timeline for passing unemployment aid for the Iron Range miners.  We know from multiple sources, including some Republicans, he lied about Southwest Light Rail (SWLRT) being included in the final regular session bills.  When he introduced bills at the last second again, the session ended up a mess, with poorly written legislation having to be vetoed by the Governor, and other bills being shelved by Daudt, to prevent votes on anything HE had not approved, including the SWLRT, which he had snuck out of the bill.

But this is where Daudt's winning streak started to take a turn.  Governor Mark Dayton isn't a guy who backs away from a fight.  He doesn't play games or allow his opponents weakness to go unchallenged.  The Speaker pulled a fast one on him in 2015, but the facade was over.  Dayton knew the kind of man Daudt was, and he also knew Daudt wanted certain bills passed during a Governor authorized special session.  Since the House and Senate Democrats were unable to fight the Speaker effectively during the regular session, the Governor decided to use his power to demand Daudt compromise.  Daudt, who's more committed to his ideology than to the state of Minnesota, started lying almost immediately, acting contrite and accommodating in private negotiations, and then insisting he never promised what he had promised when the cameras were rolling.  Little did he know he was grossly overplaying his hand.

In late summer, after Dayton refused to play Daudt's games, Daudt had to get serious.  He was willing to okay the SWLRT, and it alone, but only if he got major concessions from the Democrats on a whole bunch of other issues.  Daudt tried to use the Federal Transportation funding deadline of August 31st on SWLRT to force the Democrats hands, but Dayton outmaneuvered him, got three local agencies to cover the cost of the SWLRT and immediately took Daudt's sole concession off the table.  Realizing he'd have to give up on another issue which he didn't want to, Speaker Daudt threw a temper tantrum and stormed away from the special session negotiations.

During the 2016 campaign season, Speaker Daudt and the Republicans got strategic wins in November elections, with promises of an immediate (Lie!) special session to deal with MNSure, Minnesota's problematic health care program.  Governor Dayton also wanted to fix MNSure, but he knew Daudt also wanted to get certain regular session bills resurrected before the new year, so the talks of a special session meandered through November.  If there was going to be a special session, it had to happen before Christmas, and, per the Governor's demands (only the Governor can call a special session in Minnesota).  Dayton wanted, in writing, the exact bills that would be voted on, and the signatures of both majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate before agreeing.  In early December a tentative agreement had been reached on a MNSure fix, a trimmed down Bonding bill, and a corrected Tax Bill (where Republican bad wording was fixed).

Then Daudt, once again, did what he does best; he lied.  He insisted things he'd agreed to in private were "add ons" from Governor Dayton, and acted as if updating dates on the Tax Bill was a concession to the Democrats.  I'm not sure why he tried this power play, but it was stupid.  Governor Dayton had had enough.

Dayton, in one of the best smackdowns I've ever seen, sent a letter to Speaker Daudt while he was in the Virgin Islands on a freebie, I mean a professional conference, actually sending it to the resort Daudt was lounging around at, calling out the Speaker's non-stop lying.  He also released a copy to the media, making sure everyone was aware that while the Governor was trying to find solutions for Minnesota, Daudt was partying in Hawaii and the Caribbean.  Here's that letter:

Note how Dayton exposes Daudt by saying multiple people heard him agree to the things he was now insisting were deal breakers, how Dayton calls out Daudt for not communicating with the Governor (while Daudt was getting another drink from the cabana boy) and how the Governor had created a firm deadline for a special session agreement.

Daudt somehow scrambled back from the tropical paradise in a day, only to be greeted by a Governor who had decided to initiate a new tactic which would defuse Daudt's lies.  He insisted, since Daudt was prone to lying about what happened in private negotiations, all negotiations going forward (for this year and the next two) would happen in public, starting last Friday with a final round of 2016 special session negotiations.  Daudt, clearly uncomfortable and ill prepared for this new format, started off the public negotiations by insulting the Governor, calling his Virgin Islands letter a tantrum.  Dayton, who had very clearly made his point, walked out.  Daudt, outmaneuvered yet once again, stuttered a few lines and sulked off.

This is the worst thing that could happen to Daudt.  If the Governor sticks with his plan for public negotiations on all bills, and he ABSOLUTELY SHOULD, Daudt has to be honest, something he's incapable of being.  Dayton already has experience carrying the entire DFL platform on his back from his first two years as Governor, and he knows the Republican House and Senate can't override his vetoes.  They have to work with him.  Dayton just took away all of Daudt's tricks.

Daudt will attempt to talk Dayton out of doing the negotiations in public.  Daudt will try to find someone in the Republican Party to be the 'good cop' to his 'bad cop.'  Daudt will try to find enough Democrats to build a consensus to override vetoes, but consensuses mean concessions, and Daudt is too much of a jackass to actually follow through on working with the other side.  Since he's not going to be a decent, non-lying human being, Daudt has nowhere to go.  Daudt wants to be Governor is 2018, so an extended Republican initiated, Minnesota government shutdown only makes him look like he's incapable of putting his personal agenda aside for the betterment of Minnesota.  Daudt will desperately try to blame a government shutdown on Governor Dayton, but Dayton is not on the ballot in 2018.  They'll both look bad, but Daudt is far more culpable.  And considering the Federal Republicans seem to be eager to put forward an agenda which will anger a lot of people, including Republican voters, it gets worse.  Daudt has ZERO appeal with anyone but the racists and idiots who voted for Trump, many of whom are about to kiss their Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security goodbye.  He's screwed!

Dayton has all the power, and that's what really angers Daudt.  Dayton plays the game better than him, out hustles him, outwits him, and doesn't care what Kurt Daudt thinks.

Kurt, any happy feeling you had from election day should be gone.  Dayton owns you.  You know it, and it's killing you.  Run home little boy, and grab your shine box.  The Governor wins again!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Friday Link for 12/16/16

This weekend before Christmas, we have a major clash of two of the biggest personal drivers in most kids's lives: the holidays and Star Wars.  'Rogue One' is now open.  Just when you didn't think your kids could get more annoying with their Santa demands, now they have a Star Wars movie to whine about seeing too!  Time to spike the eggnog.

Why not a laugh for the holidays, courtesy of a group I've featured here before, the Auralnauts!  Their take downs of the Star Wars films are epic themselves and just in time for the holidays, they've turned the battle for the ice planet Hoth into a delightful holiday mixer, with lasers!

I'll also link to the full Empire Strikes Back take down.  I swear to God, I almost wet myself when C-3PO taunts Han by insisting the faulty nature of the Millennium Falcon is a representation of all of his personal failures in life.  Happy Holidays!

You'll have to click on the link for the full episode:

Stay warm this weekend!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tag, You're It!

Two things I've learned about the Republicans this year.  The first is my comment, about how Republican voters will vote for anything, even a turnip, as long as it has an 'R' next to its name, is unbelievably true.  I used to say it as a joke; not anymore.  Even though all of the GOP voters hem and hawed throughout the year, talking about how unelectable Trump actually was, how he embodied everything the GOP was supposed to be against, when it came time to vote, they all loyally checked his name.

The second is how my other joking comment, about a GOP voter coming home and finding their spouse having nasty, insane sex with their local Republican politician, how they'd immediately scream, 'Damn Democrats!', is also shockingly true.  Republican voters are incapable of viewing Republican politicians negatively, even when they're dreadful, and they'll need to be sent to a deprogramming clinic to ever be able to compliment a Democrat, even one who saves a baby and a puppy from a burning building.

Since the election, Donald Trump basically admitted to defrauding the students at his university by paying $25 million to make a lawsuit go away, has openly talked personal business with every foreign leader he's met with, prior to talking about US policy interests, has promised to dismantle all government funded healthcare (Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security), acknowledged his promise to jail his opponent was an outright lie, meant to fuel the hate rage fantasies of his supporters, has welcomed in racists, KKK sympathizers and Nazi sympathizers into his inner circle, has picked incompetent boobs, corrupt zealots, and unethical billionaires to be his administration, has had it confirmed he indeed received a tremendous amount of help from the Russian government who actively infiltrated the American election, has insisted he doesn't need to hear the daily intelligence briefings (as President), has put out a litany of insanely childish and inappropriate Twitter comments, has delivered on about a quarter of his promise to keep Carrier in Indiana, at a cost of a few million tax payer dollars, and took time out of his busy transition schedule to meet with Kanye West, a hip hop artist who clearly needs an extended medical rest, to say it nicely.

The response from Republican voters...silence.  I swear under their breath you can hear the 'Damn Democrats' they so desperately want to scream.

Can you imagine what these same voters would be like if Clinton would've won, and (forgetting all of what I mentioned above) she would've tried to appoint a cabinet member who didn't have three masters degrees and twenty years of management experience related to the position they were up for?  They'd be screaming about incompetent cronyism.  Instead, they cheer on Ben Carson, a man who thinks the pyramids were not burial sites for pharaohs, but rather grain storage bins, being in charge of Housing and Urban Development!  I go back and forth of whether Carson is more terrifying or hilarious...

I can honestly say, if a President Elect Clinton refused intelligence briefings and instead met with Kanye West, I'd be furious.  Can you imagine how furious Republican voters would be at that?  But Trump does the same exact thing; crickets and tumbleweeds.

The Republican's problem is after thirty years of attacking Democrats, turning every innocent gesture into a crime against humanity, they don't know what to do.  They spent the last three decades investigating Democrats, and when the investigation turned out to be nothing, they'd start another investigation, just because.  Now, with no Democrats to investigate, they're silent.  Their minds have no idea how to process negativity coming from Trump and the Republicans.  They know these next four years are going to hurt everyone who's not a millionaire, but as opposed to say something, they quietly hope the inevitable outcome won't materialize.  They're hiding their shame in reticence.

This unfamiliar territory, being on the receiving end far more than on the giving end, also explains why Republicans blow up at anyone who implies Trump's 'Not My President.'  They've insisted, when the GOP controlled everything, the world would come together, harmony would be universal, and everyone would be a millionaire.  Guess again!  After 8 1/2 years of making up outrageous Obama lie after outrageous Obama lie (Kenya, Birth certificate, Muslim Brotherhood, Rev. Wright, taking guns, death panels, internment camps, forced abortions, Jade Helm!, Benghazi!!!), the Republicans are now the ones trying to deny undeniable reality: their President is a tweeting, embarrassing, self induced smear campaign.

Hillary leads in the popular vote by 2.8 million, almost more than Nevada itself, bigger than 15 other US state's entire populations (many of the same states the GOP touts as the 'real Americans' who pushed Trump to victory), officially enough voters to make her margin of popular vote the 19th largest metro area in the country, bigger than Denver, St. Louis and Baltimore.  FAR more people wanted her as President than Trump.  He won, but he needed to quirkiness of the electoral college to place him, the second place finisher, as the victor.  This wasn't some electoral college landslide either.  He barely won, even with the FBI and the Russian interference, voter suppression at record levels, an obscene dark money advantage and a bias, incompetent media.  He won because 108 million eligible voters didn't vote, not because the vast majority of Americans wanted him as president.  Only 20% of the country wanted Trump, and most of those people were either only voting for him because of his undeniable white power message, or because the Anti-Hillary brainwashing worked.  Instead of trying to unite the country behind him, Trump couldn't help himself; he had to be a jerk.  He insisted the math numbers are wrong and this is a massive landslide, taking a victory lap to rub it in everyone's face.  Now Trump voters are acting surprised when most Americans tell President Elect Asshat and his supporters to 'F-off!'  They drank their own cool-aid, and now reality is setting in; their utopia is further away than ever, they're not millionaires, and they're facing 4 years of protests, divisiveness and outright hatred for their horrifically flawed savior, a savior they themselves know is a disgusting troll of a human being.  They're throwing a temper tantrum.

That makes me so freaking happy!  Good luck the next four years, you racists and idiots!  Hope you're not too thin skinned!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Dessa is Super Awesome!

I've had the privilege of talking to a few extremely talented people during my career, but I'm always stunned by Dessa.  Dessa is an all around brilliant singer, musician, writer and artist.  I've interviewed her 5 times, and each time she never shies away from talking the nuts and bolts of the music industry, the inspiration for her intelligent and complex lyrics, responsibility to the community and her opinion on rights and wrongs.  She's also a friendly, intimate talker, who creates warm conversations.

Go get 'Parts of Speech,' her album from 2013.  I think it's top ten all time Minneapolis/St. Paul albums (I'm particularly fond of Fighting Fish).  Her stuff with Doomtree is dynamic, where she melds in with the incredibly talented crew.  She's branched out, working with Minnesota choral groups, and she has an upcoming gig in April with the Minnesota Orchestra.  She's also on the Hamilton Mixtape, currently the number one album in America.

Here's the link to the interview I did with her a few weeks back.  This is, without a doubt, my most listened to interview I've ever done on AM 950.  It's all her, not me.  Something to brighten your mood during darker days.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Friday Link for 12/9/16

Last year I posted a tiny bit of this special, the toys at the manger scene.  This year, I'll go with the whole episode.

Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean is tremendously funny, but there are moments of this which are truly brilliant.  And considering this aired in 1990, before Friends was even on the air, yes, he did come up with the turkey bit first.

Episode #7 of the original Mr. Bean series is titled 'Merry Christmas.'  Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trophy Strife

Since the election, I've heard people arguing the problem with our society is we pamper ourselves too much, how we're wussified, we've created a nanny state where feelings matter more than anything else, an 'everyone gets a trophy' mentality which has created a soft community.  I think the people putting forward this argument are just silly.

The 'everyone get's a trophy' world we're supposedly living in doesn't exist, even with our more touchy feely environment.  Sure, the 5 year old T-ball league at the Y hands out trophies to everyone, but is that really what's bothering you?  They're 5 year olds.  Giving them all a freaking participation ribbon is not eroding away society.

My three kids (ages 15, 12 and 9) finished up fall sports a month and a half ago, where my oldest son played baseball and my two daughters played soccer.  My son's baseball team was bad; really bad; one win on the season bad.  Not only was there no trophy or medals or participation ribbons, they didn't even take a picture of the team.

My two daughters had opposite experiences.  My oldest daughter's soccer team was pretty bad, only winning two or three games.  They made the playoffs, but that's just because every team made the playoffs.  They were promptly beaten, but they did get a trophy, a small one.  She wasn't proud of the trophy; she was proud of the effort she put forward, and the friends she made.  My youngest daughter's team won her league and tournament.  They got super cool trophies with a spinning soccer ball on them, plus a super cool first place ribbon.  Trust me, my oldest daughter noticed her younger sister's trophy, staring at it with envy.  If the anti-'everyone get's a trophy' people feel as if my oldest daughter is just as happy with her trophy as her little sister is with hers, they're idiots.

Moving past the trophy hatred, where's this anger at other people coming from?  I think some people feel, when others are getting satisfying life wins, and they're not, they need to compensate, creating a false narrative; 'certain people who don't deserve it are getting rewarded, when I should be the one getting rewarded.'  This manifests itself in a bitter, "Well I'm still better than you, so THERE" mentality.  I also think people uncomfortable with their emotions vilify people who are trying to deal with theirs, as opposed to deal with their own issues.

Conservative media also fuels public frustrations with the fake 'wussification of America' storyline.  They lie, or grossly distort facts, to make opposing viewpoints seem pathetic and helpless.  It's designed to create an 'Us vs. Them' mentality in the viewer, making sure the viewer looks at the news outlet as a trusted friend, creating a false sense of shared superiority.  It's Kobra Kai news; "I'm awesome! You're Awesome!  You know who isn't awesome? Libertards who are crying!  They're so F-ing pathetic!  WE SO DOMINATE OVER THEM!  NOW SWEEP THE LEG!!!"

Conservatives who lament this soft society are the ones who are usually the most soft.  Who always accuses everyone else of violating their rights?  Who insists a coffee shop having only red coffee cups is an assault on their religious beliefs?  Who insists their delicate psyche will be ruined if they have to make a wedding cake for a gay couple?  Who, after spreading the worst hatred and lies about President Obama, are now acting like a southern belle with the vapors at the slightest criticism of Trump?  Who insisted, after predominantly African American neighborhoods in Minneapolis were hit with a tornado, that those people were weak for wanting state aid; how when a tornado came through their district, they insist they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, putting up road blocks to stop state aid from getting to them, when the reality is they were loudly screaming for the state aide they greedily gobbled up?  I don't think they're bad people for getting state aide in an emergency.  That's their argument.  Using their standards:  they yell 'wussy' at everyone else to try to hide their undeniable wussiness.

If you're one of those people who thinks apologizing is for the fragile and powerless only, you're a jerk, AND YOU KNOW IT!  Don't be a jackass.  Apologize if you need to.

In regards to the people who denounce counselors/therapists, what's wrong with you?  Some people want to talk to someone, seeking mental therapy when a serious tragedy happens, or if they just want to talk.  Good for them!  I'd rather have them do that as opposed to ending their life due to depression.   Ignoring mental health issues is why we currently have an epidemic of PTSD in our veterans.

There's one aspect of society I feel we're failing, and it might be misidentified by the people who claim we're a trophy nation.  It's accountability.  We don't hold people to the consequences of their actions as we should.  Today, it's almost impossible to fail a grade in a public elementary school.  I'll never forget my 2nd grade teacher at Wickford Elementary in Rhode Island, Mrs. Pierce, telling us if we didn't get the work done, we'd fail and have to go to summer school, or repeat.  There was a kid in our class who was held back as evidence this wasn't an idle threat.  It motivated me.  Today, the learning gap in an elementary school's student body by 6th grade is shocking, created by a reluctance to hold a kid back for their own benefit.  I don't think it's wrong, or unnecessary pampering, to give those kids the extra attention they may need, and sometimes a summer program is needed to help a child catch up, but, in the end, if the kid still hasn't done the work needed to move up, we need to have the guts to say, "I'm sorry, but you'll need another year."

When the housing crisis hit in 2008, some people were implying we should give the homeowners caught in these horrible loans a mulligan, letting them to walk away from their loans without repercussions.  I sincerely believe the banking industry were horrible people who preyed upon homeowners without the financial wherewithal, but many homeowners refused to do the math themselves.  They knowingly signed those atrocious loans with visions of extra money dancing in their heads.  As hard as it was for some homeowners, unless there was evidence of a clear cut crime by the bank/mortgage company, the homeowners needed to be held accountable for their own actions.  That's not mean spirited.  It's societal integrity.

Love, compassion, encouragement, supporting teamwork, boosting self worth, caring, and promoting positive mental health are all wonderful things, and as a Catholic, I can say unequivocally they're Christian principles.  The same can be said about holding people accountable for their actions/decisions, something we need to do as a society.  At this point, I'll mention the Republican voters, after 40 years of electing candidates who don't follow through with their campaign promises, are the ones who don't hold anyone accountable, something the Republican Party depends on.

If an entire T-ball league of five year olds getting a trophy bothers you; if a grieving person talking to a counselor makes you angry; if someone else getting something you feel you should get, whether you deserve it or not, upsets you, that's on you, not anyone else.  Stop trying to belittle others because of your own inadequacies.  All you're being is a trophy worthy jerk.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Friday Link for 12/2/16

Some clown in Alexandria (!) thinks 'A Christmas Carol,' the classic Dickens' holiday story about the redemption of a cold hearted fool, is just liberal propaganda.  No seriously.

This clown's name is Steve Moore, and to prove I'm not making this up, here's the link to the story from BlueStem Prairie:

Who looks at a pre-ghost Ebenezer Scrooge and says, "I like the cut of that man's jib!"?  What kind of dystopian personality insists the extreme serfdom Bob Cratchet lives under is the worker's utopia we should all strive for?  Who listens to the heart warming singing of Tiny Tim and says, "if only the young boy could die!"  What kind of Christian person, at a time of the year when Christians are supposed to be celebrating the gift of Jesus, asks for a gift receipt.

Happy Holiday's from Trump-land, you ungrateful jerks!

To tell the truth, they railed against "It's a Wonderful Life" too, something I detailed in the December 2014 post, 'Waterboarding George Bailey.' 'A Christmas Carol' is a great story, and, if any of it is true, I can only imagine three ghosts will be visiting Trump Tower early in the morning of December 25th.

There are a lot of great TV and film versions of the play, but my favorite is the Albert Finney 1970 musical version.  A few cuts from that one for you as we begin the December Links.  First up, the feel good hit, 'I Hate People'!

Then there is the great song from the days of Christmas Past, 'December the 25th'!

From the Days of Christmas Present, 'I Like Life'.

Then comes one of my favorite all time musical numbers, 'Thank You Very Much'.

Then The Reprise of 'Thank You Very Much'.

Can someone get Marley's ghost over to Steve Moore's house.  Have a great weekend everyone!