Friday, November 29, 2019

The Friday Link for 11/29/19

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It's not over for some of us, as most of my friends have at least one meal celebration they're headed to this weekend.  If you're in the same boat, enjoy!

This week, I'm going to post more historical cooking from Townsends.  This is a look back at their 5th season when they did an entire series on a traditional holiday meal.  If you have an 18th century kitchen, and you like to make things old school, enjoy!

In the three videos, you'll first get a turkey recipe, then stuffing, and then a pumpkin pie.  The entire set of videos are great.

Have a great weekend everyone!  Drive safe!  Go Gophers!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Terry's Thanksgiving Recipes 2019

Here are the two recipes Terry and I talked about on Monday's show!

Apple Cider Brine
1 fresh or thawed turkey
2 oranges, sliced
8 cups apple cider
2/3 cups kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
8 slices fresh ginger root
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons allspice berries, crushed
4 cups cold water

1.     Combine the cider, salt, sugar, ginger, onion, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns and crushed allspice berries in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from the heat, add the cold water, and cool to room temperature. 
2.     Have ready a pot large enough to hold the turkey and the brine. Place a plastic oven bag inside another to create a double-thickness.  Rest in the bags in a pot or roasting pan to collect any possible leaks and to make moving the turkey easier. Wash the turkey inside and out and remove the giblets and neck and reserve for gravy or stuffing if desired. 
3.     Place the turkey inside the double-thickness bag and stand it upright. Place orange slices in the main cavity. Cover the turkey completely with the brine. 
4.     Cover or tightly close the bag and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. Turn the turkey 3 or 4 times during the brining. 

5.     Before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels before roasting. 

Roasted Stuffed Onions
Serves 4

½ pound mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and Pepper
4 medium yellow onions, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cup drinking quality dry white wine
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
¾ cup plain breadcrumbs
¾ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
¼ pound bacon, cooked and chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream,
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.     Melt the in a large saucepan until bubbling. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat with butter. Allow the mushrooms to cook, unturned and allow them to brown on one side. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. 
2.     Preheat oven to 425°F. Slice the top one quarter off the top of each onion and cut     
just enough off the bottom of each onion to allow it to sit flat in the roasting dish.
3.     Heat the olive oil in an oven proof skillet. Place the onions cut side down and sauté 
until golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and invert the onions cut side up. 
4.     Pour the wine over the onions and season with salt, pepper and thyme. 
5.     Bake, uncovered, until just tender or about 1 hour.
6.     Remove the onions from the skillet leaving the cooking liquid in the pan. Scoop out 
the inside of each onion, leaving a ½ inch “shell”.  Chop enough of the scooped out 
onion to make about ½ cup.
7.     In a mixing bowl, combine the ½ cup onion, breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 
cooked bacon, cream and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
8.     Divide the filling between the onion “shells” and place the filled onions back into the 
skillet with the cooking liquid. Roast for an additional 20 minutes, or until hot. 

9.     Serve the roasted onions with some of the pan juices. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Friday Link for 11/22/19

First up, with next Thursday being Thanksgiving, how about a nice Thanksgiving tribute featuring Scooter and Lew Zealand and his Flying Fish Act, from the Muppets.

Now, for something with more pageantry!  But first:


The minute I saw the Bob Murray Revisited/SLAPP Lawsuits episode of Last Week Tonight, there was no way I couldn't post this as a Friday Link.  This episode could end with one of the top ten greatest comedy bits of all time.  Seriously, the musical number to finish this off is perfect, and so damn raunchy.  The lawyer segment is brutal, but hilarious.


Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Easy Task of Raising Kids!

I'm a very proud dad.  I have three kids, a son who is 18, and two daughters, 15 and 12.  I used to think I was meant to be a radio personality in a major city, but then my son was born and I realized I was meant to be a dad.  I've been very happy.

My kids are all successful (so far) and my wife and I've made helping them succeed a priority.  There are a lot of ways to raise kids; no one individual way is the correct way to do it.  I've had my struggles and tribulations, I've sworn and cried, I've been exhausted and exalted, I've been happy and proud; but the path we took is only one of many.  I have friends who've raised amazing kids, but in the complete opposite way we approached it.  My first bit of advice:  find a good partner, and talk about how you want to raise your kids before you have them.  

On occasion, I've been asked for some advice on how to raise kids, and I currently have four friends who are getting ready to have their first kid.  I don't want to overstep my bounds, so let me share with you the things which I feel have been our most successful endeavors when it comes to raising our kids.

1) Read to them!  This is by far the best thing you can do.  My wife read to every one of our kids at night starting when they were about 3 months old.  Every night, one of us read to them.  Not only did it give them quality parent time everyday, it started them on a path of reading and imagination, two traits which have definitively helped them socially and academically, two traits which are incredibly hard to ignite within a child later in life.

2) Talk to your kids, but don't talk down to your kids. Whenever my kids would ask a question like "Daddy, why is the sky blue," I'd try to answer it.  Even if they were 5 years old, I'd tell them 'light refracts off of water and the color that comes through the strongest is blue, hence why the sky is blue.'  If I didn't know the answer, I would tell them, "I don't know, but maybe we can find out together."  I'm not saying I treated them like adults at a young age, but rather I didn't dismiss them or talk down to them because I didn't think they'd understand the answer, or as cover when I didn't know the answer myself.  When they asked me a question, I'd answer it like when an adult asked me.  They wanted to talk, and I encouraged them to have a conversation.

3) Dedicate family time.  Everyday have a moment where you're together as a family.  I know that can be tough with kid's schedules, but make it a priority whenever you can.  If you as parents promote the idea of family, they'll respect the family too.  Meals are always an easy option for this, especially on weekends.

4) Try your best to limit screen time, but not to a point where your kid is a pariah. Our kid's generation is a screen based generation.  They just are.  The greatest challenge for any parent today is to teach your kid how to limit the amount of screen time they use, so when they go off on their own they don't become a self induced technology hermit.  Find a formula of screen time which works for you, and when your kid whines, put a book in front of them not a screen.  Limit the kids times around glowing rectangles, but don't forbid them completely.  Your kids will need to be able to navigate their friend groups, so make sure your kids get some screen time.  That way they don't come across as mini druids.

5) Be early.  Teach your kids to be wherever they need to be 10 to 15 minute early.  This is a good habit to instill, and one which will pay dividends as your kids get older.

6) Get them moving.  It's so important to get you kids up and moving.  There are a lot of kids who come home on a Friday, and sit watching screens for the entire weekend.  Not only are there health concerns, but kids need to get outside and interact with the world.  It doesn't have to be a sports league or a gym membership.  They can simply walk around their neighborhoods.  If the parents go along with them, it encourages them to eventually do it on their own.  Also, a dog helps.

7) Teach them manners.  This is not only about displaying an element of respect, it actually is becoming a trait which will pay off for them in the future.  As more people interact with screens, there seems to be a deficit of politeness.  Do you want your kid holding open the door and saying 'please' and 'thank you,' or do you want a kid so terrified by human interaction they let the door slam in someone's face and find it impossible to say 'thanks?'

8) Do not pigeon hole them.  As your kids get older, there will be pressure on them to do only one sport, or one art, or one activity.  If you pigeon hole your kids into a sole activity, they not only will narrow their social circles, they immediately forfeit the ability of finding out if there's a sport, or an activity they can enjoy as a hobby.  All three of my kids play a sport, play in band, go to church, and have other activity groups.  I have determined eclectic lifestyles deliver dynamic kids.

9) Let them walk away from things they no longer like, even if they're good at them.  My oldest daughter, at age 8, was a phenom softball player.  She was a prodigy, not only destined to play high school softball, but beyond.  For her, she only played two more years.  It was two years because after the first season ending tournament, when she said "Dad, I really don't want to play softball anymore," I made one of the biggest mistakes I've made in parenting.  I told her to stick with it.  I was not only placing her ability ahead of her wishes, I was thinking about her future without taking her input into consideration.  She played another season, but after the next year end tournament, she broke down in tears, talking about how the coaches and parents were all bad sports.  She never wanted to play again.  Thank God I heard her that time.  She (happily and with no regrets) never played softball again.  No matter the activity, and no matter what talent level your kid is at, if they no longer want to do that activity, don't make them.  Allow them to walk away.

10)  Teach them the value of success and failure.  Success and failure are natural for everyone, so embrace them both.  When your kids are successful, talk with about why it worked.  When your kids fail, help them get back up.  Don't shy away from the valuable lessons you can learn from picking up the pieces.  And just because a failure is painful, don't allow your kids to avoid figuring out what went wrong.

11)  Make time for your kids.  I'm going to get a little preachy here.  Undoubtedly, me putting aside my lesser personal activities has helped my kids.  I couldn't, on a Saturday, throw my kids aside for five hours while I went and did some personal activity without them.  I look for the windows of time we are all together and plan fun activities.  Hikes, museums, swimming, even yard work; there are a lot of things you can do with your kids.  Just make sure your kids are there too.  If you're a golfer, and you want to take your kids, that's great, but if your kids says they don't like it, ask if golf is important enough to take  you away from your kids for 25 to 30 Saturday's per year?  This isn't bashing certain activities (golf, hunting, fishing, ect.) more pointing out the main thing you're kids want is to spend time with you.  I used to fish all the time.  Loved it, and still do, but my kids never caught the fishing bug, so I put the poles away and decided going to art museums, parks, zoos, and swimming with my kids was an easy compromise.  If your personal agenda pushes them away, ask yourself if it's really worth it.  And for God's sake, never put your social media pages ahead of your kids.  That's just sad.

There you go.  I know some people will look at this and feel as if I'm 'high and mighty.'  Like I said you have to raise your own kids.  Make decisions you're happy with, ones which have your kids interests in mind.  You don't have to do a dang thing I've suggested (although the reading to them is gold!).  As long as you're there, there's a good chance your kids will turn out fine.

One final bit of advice.  I love my kids.  I'm proud of them.  You should tell your kids both of those things every single day.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Vikings, Trump and Perspective

In case you missed it, the last two weeks of Minnesota Vikings football have been exciting.  Two weeks ago, after critics of the team and the team's quarterback, Kirk Cousins, complained about their inability to win a road game against a winning opponent, they won a nationally televised game at Dallas.  The next week, after being criticized for their inability to come from behind and win, they did just that, scoring on EVERY 2nd half possession to tally 27 points, and steal a win from Denver at home.

Many of the same people (both locally and nationally) who complained about Cousins ability didn't admit they were wrong in regards to the two victories.  Instead they criticized both wins as weak, claiming since both the games were on the line until the last play it showed another major fault.  It was no longer Cousins' inability to win against a good team on the road, or lead the Vikings to a comeback victory, it was 'Cousins is a failure because he didn't win both games by 50 points.'

Many of the same critics would have a VERY different interpretation of those two wins if Green Bay Packer Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had pulled them off.  They'd be gushing about how you have to admire Rodger's tenacity, and his ability to steal victories from the jaws of defeat. It's perspective.  Rodgers is a great quarterback (not top 25 of all time, but good, and he does have a Super Bowl ring he pretty much won himself, nearly ten years ago).  The love affair certain members of the media have with him allow them to over inflate everything he does, while many of the same media who dislike Cousins dismiss his victories even when they contradict the narrative they themselves have pushed.

Perspective drives the narrative of how an individual wants to see the world, and happens everywhere.  That being said, it doesn't make it any less obnoxious when the media does it to our faces.

In September of 2016, then Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton had pneumonia.  She was undeniably weakened, but because much of our politics is based on appearances, she trudged through the campaign season.  On one occasion, she stumbled heading to her car after a 9/11 commemoration, and the media in this country went nuts!  They called her out for being seriously ill, having to be carried from event to event, accused of having a much more serious illness, and even accused of having extensive brain damage.  All from one stumble after an event.

Meanwhile Donald Trump, the man who inhabits the White House, had to be rushed to Walter Reed Medical Center under mysterious circumstances over the weekend. The White House has a full medial facility, top notch, staffed and ready to go, so for a President, on the weekend, unannounced, to have to be rushed to Walter Reed is a bit of a concern.

The White House said this was scheduled, but it never appeared on Trump's itinerary, an itinerary which was immediately scrapped, unexpectedly, when Trump was rushed to the hospital.  The White House is floating the story that Trump had a day off with nothing on the agenda (???) and decided to get a head start on 2020's annual physical.  That's not how annual physicals work.

None of that makes any sense, but the same media who constantly barraged Hillary with questions about her health is relegating their desire for truth to the back burner and acting as if all of this is normal.  It's not, and Trump should inform the American people if he, a 70+ year old man who hardly exercises, watches TV religiously, avoids vegetables and eats fast food constantly, is having a health problem.

(via The Onion)

I want Trump out of the White House, but not due to a serious health problem.  There's a responsibility by the media to at least demand the answer of what is going on.  They don't have to be as tenacious as they were with Hillary, but I would think "is the President healthy" is a basic question the news media shouldn't shrug their shoulders at.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Friday Link for 11/15/19

I've become addicted to Bon Appétit's YouTube Channel.  I've watched probably 10 hours of it, and for me to watch 10 hours of anything in a single week is a rarity.  That's Doctor Who, Mystery Science Theater 3000 territory for me (NERD!!!).

In particular, I've LOVED Gourmet Makes.  In this series, Pastry Chef Claire Saffitz takes a common, gas station food (for lack of a better term) and tries to make a gourmet version of it.

The appeal of this series is all on Claire.  Her chef talent is in rarefied air.  The ability she has to taste something and almost immediately come up with the science behind the food, and in turn figure out a gourmet version of said item is amazing.  You get emotionally tied up in her triumphs and failures; Claire herself the perfect symbol of a modern hard work and professionalism.  She takes it seriously, and in turn you get addicted.  Plus, she is kind of adorable!

And these things she tackles are not easy to make!  One fun element of the show is the realization that something like Pringles, with its unique shape, is almost impossible to replicate in a home kitchen.  Could you make a Skittle?  I sure as heck couldn't.

And all this while giving you a view in what might be the coolest work environment on the planet.  Seriously, you'll dream of having coworkers and a workspace as cool as these people (Bon Appétit, please hire me!).  By the way, these videos get big viewing numbers, so I'm not alone in my love.

Three episodes this week (they're long!) but you'll love them.  Hot Pockets, Starbursts and Sour Patch Kids!  Enjoy!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, November 11, 2019

One More Time, With Spirit! For the Veterans...

I've said before: the thing conservatives challenge me on most has nothing to do with politics.  They challenge me on my military service.  I was in the US Army from 1988 to 1992...

That is indeed a young pre-bridge troll version of me, your front line of defense!  I'm very proud of my military service, and the lessons I learned during my four year tour have helped make me a better father, husband and radio broadcaster.

But the idea of me, a Democrat, being a proud veteran triggers a lot of conservatives.  I've been challenged numerous times in the last ten years; some snarky jackass thinks he'll score alt-right points by exposing me as a fraud.  The Republican challenges always have the same feel, their counterpoint hung loosely on some very fragile argument like 'that wasn't the BDU's soldiers wore at that time in my buddies unit,' or 'I never heard of that training and I've read EVERY manual ever released by the military.' Nothing I can do or say will change their mind.

The challenger (almost always) didn't serve in the US Armed Forces themselves.

I usually end up bringing in my friends I served with, veterans who are scattered across the country who'll always come to my defense if some jerk decides to question my military service, just as I would defend them.  The Righto will then start stumbling, insisting they never said I wasn't in the military, just pointing out an inconsistency they assure me NOW has been settled.  They then run away like cowards.

At no point do these 'patriotic Americans' apologize for smearing my military service.  NOT ONCE has a Righto admitted they were wrong and said "I'm sorry.'

It's Veterans Day again, and it's time for me to reset the four things I feel the US Government should do for Veterans and their families.  But before I get there, let me make a comment about what it means to support the troops.

Throughout the weekend, when I watched TV or went out shopping, I was inundated with military salutes, directed at the current military, those who had served, those who we've lost, and the families of these brave men and women.  That's great!  Thanks, but there's a problem with these displays.  It makes people feel like they've done something to help the soldiers when they really haven't done that much.

There's a difference between acknowledging the troops and supporting the troops.

Don't get me wrong, it's always nice to have people say thanks.  Some places have specialized parking spots reserved for Veterans and some stores offer military discounts for those who've served.  Many businesses have a special fund where they offer a certain military family plane tickets and a nice vacation.  That's also great, and appreciated, but let me try to explain a few points.

It's nice to save 3 cents on a pack of light bulbs, but for many veterans, active duty and military families, it's doesn't really fill the voids which every veteran, soldier and military family member deal with every day.  But because it's a benefit some people can't get, it's perceived by many as doing far more than it actually does.  It's like the parking spot.  Sure its great to be able to park five spots closer to the door, but the next Veteran in after me doesn't get that benefit.  And did my day really became better for the 20 feet I didn't have to walk?  Meanwhile the store feels like they've covered a major failure in the gaps of military care today by allowing a veteran to park a few spots closer.

Let's not disguise a primary benefactor for these token gestures, the people/businesses who promote them.  This weekend, those organizations would be the NFL and major sports leagues, the sports broadcast networks who use the military as props in their broadcasts, the beer and alcohol companies who drape their cans/labels with the American flag, and many retailers with their Veteran's Day ads, especially the major home repairs and appliance box stores who gets to paint themselves as super patriotic because they give that 3 cent discount on light bulbs.  Don't ignore the self-serving benefits for the businesses who use Veterans to promote themselves.

Even the special funds/groups who give you those tear-jerker moments (the young kids are surprised by mom or dad returning from a deployment overseas, with TV cameras to capture the raw emotion of the reunion) are getting an unspoken benefit.  It's nice they reunite these families, but they also get the benefits of the ratings/social media gold a made for TV event like that generates, pulling at the heart strings for an emotional moment, a reunion which could've just as easily taken place in private, followed by an introduction of the family afterward.  The reunification is a prop used by TV shows, sports teams and businesses to pat themselves on the back.  It's a very nice gesture, but it's still a prop, captured on video and broadcast on every platform possible, a prop which makes people feel like they have actually done something to 'support the troops' by 'liking' a video clip on Instagram.

And even when those military first groups do send a military family on a nice vacation, or get a soldier plane tickets home, that's only a small portion of military families who could use a vacation, and a small portion of the soldiers who can't afford the flight home.

This isn't saying there isn't a nice element to this.  Of course there is, but it's a very limited benefit, mostly for a handful of soldiers/veterans.  And it hides the true needs of soldiers and veterans in this day and age.  There is A LOT more we can actually do!

If you REALLY want to make a difference, then call your political representation and ask for them to sponsor ALL 4 of the following pro-veteran initiatives:
  1. Any soldier/veteran/military family member can get 'US Government paid for' medical treatment at ANY medical facility in the country.  Make it part of the medical licensing process.  That way soldiers and veterans are not forced to have to travel 9 hours for medical care they could EASILY receive a mile from their home.  Make sure full psychological and dental coverage are included.  It it the LEAST we can do!
  2. Any soldier/veteran can go to a pubic university in the United States and get a college degree for free.  I'm not saying this would cover room and board, but the GI Bill would allow them to pay for those expenses.  The soldier would still have to qualify for college, but this would be a free college education for soldiers and veterans who served in combat or pulled a four year tour.  It is the LEAST we can do!
  3. Free job placement for any soldier/veteran when they return from active duty.  And (with no disrespect to certain jobs) I'm not talking flipping burgers, working delivery, or sweeping floors.  I'm talking job placement into good jobs which have a minimum 40K starting salary.  It is the Least we can do!
  4. If a soldier comes back from their service time wounded, or if a combat veteran is aging, or if the family of a soldier who died in combat needs the Government benefits THEY HAVE EARNED WITH THEIR OWN BLOOD, they by God make that happen!  Do not make them jump through hoops, or make them have to deal with copious red tape.  They've earned those benefits, so let's make sure they get them.  IT IS THE LEAST WE CAN DO!!!
To those who immediately scream 'that will cost a lot of money,' yes it will, but this is what we should do.  We had enough money to give millionaires and billionaires a MASSIVE tax cut two years ago.  Either spend more money on the Veterans, or cancel the wealthy's tax breaks.  Whatever is easiest.

And to all those people who say 'thank you Veteran's,' thanks.  It is appreciated, but if you really want to show how much you support the troops, call every political representative you've got and ask for the above policy changes.  Trust me, if you did that for the returning soldiers, veterans, and military family members, you wouldn't need to give a veteran a 3 cent discount on light bulbs ever again.  They'd appreciate the discount, but their outlook would be a lot brighter without them.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Just Super

Below is the product review form entry I left from my stay last weekend at the Super 8 In Eau Claire Wisconsin.  If you can't tell, this one was a beaut!

The problems started the day before, when I called to ask if my reservations were set.  The woman who answered the phone spoke no English.  I am all for immigration, but even (you get the idea) they had my reservation, she said "thank you" and hung up without ever answering.

When we got there to check in, they gave us key cards that wouldn't work in the slot on the room door.  The front desk guy said they have this happen all the time because they don't change the batteries in the doors.  He then gave us a different room.  We were able to get into this one.  The room was freezing, appeared clean but there seemed to be a lot of structural damage to the walls, woodwork, ect.  It was then we discovered the toilet wasn't working.

I brought this to the attention of the guy working the counter, and he said "oops!"  He then said there is nothing we can do about it, and gave us another room.  This final room was a lot like the previous one.  Ice cold, clean but with a lot of structure damage (one particularly nasty carpet stain).  The toilet in this room worked, but there was only the final bit of toilet paper on the roll and the rest of the toilet paper was stacked by the sink.  I joke you not, the room had the hardest bed I've ever slept on.  I swear I thought it was actually a wooden plank with a thin layer of cloth over it. The heater/AC unit also seemed damaged.  'Low heat' had the temp in the room at 85, and 'low cool' had the room down to 40.  There were a lot of people making noise in the hallway, so between that and the rock hard bed, I didn't sleep very well.

Considering everything else, we didn't risk the breakfast.  When we went to check out, at 6:30 in the morning, the counter person was no where to be found.  After waiting a few minutes, shocked the counter person was not there for the Saturday morning checkout, I picked up the call phone.  The phone rang, fairly loudly, in the room right next to the counter.  The counter person was in the office right next to the counter, clearly could hear us, and at no point came out to check us out.

I understand a Super 8 isn't the Ritz Carlton, so my expectations aren't exactly high, but it's spectacular how bad of a hotel the Eau Claire Super 8 was.  An all time worst top three for me.

Traveler be warned!

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Friday Link for 11/8/19

This week, how about someone doesn't try to scare you!

One of the things I hate about modern nature shows which talk about cataclysmic events (volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis) is how they all present their 'research' in a fear based narrative.  It's always "this area is LONG overdue for a monster earthquake," or "is the next tidal wave heading for you!?!"  My favorite was the guys who 1) made up a fake asteroid, 2) implied it was destined to strike the earth, and 3) insisted all life was doomed.  Providing zero evidence of their 'science,' their final warning to the viewer was "it could happen!"  Could it?

That's why I was pleasantly surprised with the SciShow's rational and less hyperbolic explanation on why it's pretty unlikely a super volcano is waiting around the corner to mug you.  Seriously, I love this video.  It's rational, intelligent, chock full of science stuff and reasonable.  I can only wish all science didn't feel they had to 'cable TV' themselves up just to try to get people's attention.

Speaking of fact based reality, let's also go with Robert Reich explaining that indeed the Founding Father's of the United States would absolutely be in favor of throwing Trump's caboose out via impeachment.

Have a great weekend everyone!  Stay warm! Go Gophers!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Undertow of Stupid

Over the last month, I've had to deal with strange behavior emitting from those around me.  The behavior manifests itself in the following two ways:

1) Irrational anger
2) A sense of hopelessness

My main experience with the irrational anger came from my wife.  For the last few weeks, I could tell something was bugging her, in the way only a 25 year partner can look at a person and see something isn't right.  I'd ask about it and she'd say "it's nothing."  It was something, and I could tell my wife was only getting angrier.  Yes it did cross my mind a few times it might just be her being married to me.

Finally, after a wildly foolish argument, I made her try to put her finger on what was going on.  My wife is not like me, a person who soaks up the news for a good chunk of the day.  She gets her news daily, but in more reasonable bite sized morsels.  She listens and reads good journalism, not Fox News and anything further and gleefully right of them.  She's smart (smarter than me) and well informed.  She knew the details of the last few scandals in the Trump Administration; the fumbling of our country's trade policy, the embracing and encouragement of racism, the horrors at Trump's border concentration camps, the Kavanaugh scandal, the Mueller Report.  She's watched as scandal after scandal has rocked this White House, and she keeps asking the logical educated question, "Why hasn't Trump been removed from office?"

It's a very legitimate question.  The same politicians who impeached Clinton over lying about an extra marital affair and who conducted 8 Benghazi investigations were now intentionally placing their heads in the sand, ignoring behavior which at any other point in our country's history would've led to the removal of the President.  Instead, it's almost as if a slide whistle sound effect is all that happens and we move onto the next scandal.

For me, I didn't sleep a wink the night Trump was elected.  I stayed up staring at the ceiling asking over and over "what have these idiots done?"  And not just the idiots who voted for Trump.  I was also referring to the idiots who were convinced their vote didn't matter, that Trump and Hillary Clinton would be the same.  Those idiots sat out the election with smugness.  The one hundred and ten million registered voters who didn't vote are just as much to blame for Trump as the most rabid redneck screaming "MAGA!"  My wife on the other had was much more of a slow burn.  She was sad after Election Night 2016, but she shrugged her shoulders and hoped for the best.  I knew where Trump would end up, but she has watched as bad thing after bad thing has happened, with no repercussions for Trump's bad behavior.

Now we have Trump himself admitting quid pro quo with Ukraine; holding up approved military aid in a blackmail attempt to get the Ukraine to manufacture political dirt against his primary political rival heading into 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden. Not only has Trump admitted to it, the 'transcript' of the phone call he made to the Ukrainians admitted it, his Chief of Staff admitted it on camera, a whistleblower filed a formal complaint over the disgusting behavior, and pretty much every witness who has testified about the call has backed up the allegation.  Trump was selling access to US taxpayer dollars in return for dirt on Biden.

Most reasonable people (and patriotic Americans) would've said "that's it," but not Trump fans.  This seems to be the origins of the irrational anger.  A few weeks back, Trump rallied in Minneapolis, and with him came the undertow of stupid who show up at all of his events.  Although there were at least as many protestors outside of Target Center and were inside, it was shocking to see the Trump people, people who look at this country, and the man in charge of it, and are viewing a different reality.  They only see the unicorns and rainbows version of Trump.

This is what's causing the irrational anger in my wife and others.  People are frustrated at how such bad leadership and bad behavior could go on not only unchecked, but cheerfully encouraged.  The anger is realizing we live in a country where a shocking amount of people are willfully and intentionally ignorant (both politician and voter), refusing to stop, or even acknowledge, the train wreck happening in front of us all.

Not only are these purposeful imbeciles causing educated and intelligent people to get upset, they're also the source of the second behavior I've noticed lately, hopelessness.

It's hard when you see someone you respect and look up to breakdown and start making irrational statements.  Such was the case when a friend of mine, out of the blue, suddenly said "What's the point?  Trump is going to win next year and Republicans will win control of everything.  Why should we even try?"

This was not the first time I've heard this mentality.  I've gotten it on my radio show and on my social media pages.  I've had friends at get-togethers make similar comments.  I've no idea where it's coming from.  I wonder if this is some sort of new social media influence campaign, similar to the 2016 campaign which got Democrats screaming of how Hillary Clinton would be no better than Trump; talking points which originated in Russia.

I can understand where the hopelessness comes from.  After unforgivable Trump scandal after unforgivable Trump scandal, to see the Republican Party, in the face of undeniable evidence of wrongdoing, do nothing (EIGHT Benghazi investigations!), and to see people who's lives are FAR worse off than they were in 2016 continue to praise Trump for hurting them (thank you sir, may I have another!), the feeling of dread is understandable.  But as hopeless as it might seem, the fight is NOT over!  This is not something we should use to justify the end of Democracy.

Let me help by putting a few things in perspective.

The steering wheel driving the modern Republican Party down the road is thus:  they HATE Democrats more than they love their religion, their kids, their jobs, their health and their country.  I've often said a Republican could walk into their bedroom and find Trump sleeping with their spouse and the first words out of their mouth would be "Damn Democrats."  These people are pathological in their insistence the Democrats can never be right about anything, hence they have adopted a purposeful ignorance which allows them to re-write reality to fit their narrative.  They will never admit they were wrong.  THEY'RE NOT GOING TO CHANGE, SO STOP EXPECTING THEM TO DO THE RIGHT THING!

Whether or not this country survives past 2020 comes down to one specific thing, the 110 million registered voters who did not vote in 2016.  The vast majority of those voters are Democrats.  The Republicans victory model is dependent on those people staying at home.  If you get 30 million of those people to the polls, especially in the states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, everything changes overnight.  30 million more people voting would get the Democrats a veto proof majority in the House, and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.  And of course the White House, most state Governorships and most state legislatures.  GET REGISTERED TO VOTE!  MAKE SURE EVERYONE YOU KNOW IS REGISTERED TO VOTE! THEN COMMIT TO A GET OUT THE VOTE CAMPAIGN IN YOUR COMMUNITY!  COMMIT TO MAKING SURE AS MANY REGISTERED VOTERS AS POSSIBLE VOTE IN 2020!!!

Last night, 25 minutes after the cable news networks said Republican Matt Bevin lost the Kentucky Governor's race by over 5000 votes, a delusional nut bag appointee of his, Alyssa Dara McDowell went up on the stage at the Bevin headquarters and with no proof whatsoever announced Bevin had actually won the election.  She then pranced back and forth on the stage as people frantically checked their phones for news of the reversal. She was eventually pulled off the stage as the crowd booed her.

This is what we're dealing with.  Ignore them. They're not worth your time or energy, and if you start getting irrationally angry, or if you start feeling hopeless, you're allowing the undertow of stupid to drag you down.

Let's go win in 2020!

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Friday Link for 11/1/19

Halloween last night, my wife and I took different approaches.  I treat the night as a chance to see the neighborhood kids in costume and hand out candy.  My wife looks at it as an opportunity to make sure 10 year olds never sleep soundly again.

There's a certain amount of people who like to scare others.  Mind you, the enjoyment of the person being scared is irrelevant to them, as the 'scarer' is mainly in it to see the bare, raw visceral emotion of a person they've scared to death.  I think a lot of it comes from the kind of Halloween you grew up with.  It sounds like my wife's family set up real scares and a spooky experience to force a 9 year old child to nearly wet themselves for the ultimate goal of a fun size Milky Way.

But to be fair, Halloween used to be more about scares than it is today.  When I was young, there were some neighbors who would go all out, but not in the modern Target purchased accessories way.  They would hide a family member in the bushes, or set up a floating ghost which would come right at the kids, or they would have a really creepy presence at the door which would cause some kids, including myself, to say "no thanks!"  And there were kids who held onto some sort of Halloween 'code of honor' back then.  If a person didn't have candy, or didn't answer the door, egg splotches would soon adorn their siding and toilet paper would be in their trees.

But somewhere things changed.  In the mid-1970's, there was a woman who gave out KING size Hersey bars in our neighborhood with no scares attached.  Everyone loved her.  As Halloweens progressed, it seems the rest of the neighborhood realized being the house everyone feared didn't compare to the house everyone adored.

I'm lucky.  Of my wife and her two sisters, I have the one who tries to scare the kids the least.  Her one sister puts on a Halloween showcase at her house north of Portland, Oregon which would cause Freddy Krueger to say 'whoa, tone it down a little!'  Her other sister has the reputation from some of the neighborhood kids of being the 'scary lady.'  My wife tried to scare a few kids.  The first kid she confronted was clearly terrified of her in her creepy mask, but because the kid stood still, she kept ramping it up until I interceded.  She thought he was being stubborn when I could see the kid was frozen in fear.  I gave the kid extra candy.

For tonights Friday Link, let me give you one of the top ten things in television every year.  Ellen Degeneres sends her producer Andy to haunted houses.  Andy would definitely be on the "not scaring" side of the Halloween debate, much to his chagrin.  This year, he got to go through two haunted houses, one with Tiffany Haddish, and one with my super secret girlfriend Lizzo.  Warning there is a lot of bad language on these, which even bleeped out is still pretty in your face.  Enjoy!

Have a great beginning of November everyone!