Monday, September 25, 2017

Denying the Racial Divide

(NY Times)
"Those people should show some respect!"   That's the bottom line from older white callers to the talk show on the station where I work.   They piled on this morning, complaining about these rich NFL players failing to stand for the national anthem, saying, "I believe in free speech, but..."   What lacked in the pile-on left me a little sick to my stomach, feeling pessimistic over whether we'd ever move beyond this and hoping that the next generations would understand it all.   

If I ever got in the middle of that one-sided conversation and stated that the reaction to yet another weekend of Trump-generated breaking news was proof that a racial divide in this country exists, you know what the reaction would be.   They, almost to a person, would take that as a personal attack painting them a racist.   Calling someone racist just fuels the backlash.   Is Donald Trump a racist in his heart?   I can't say that.   Is he trying to take advantage of a racial divide?   Hell, yeah.  He knew just what he was doing with his double talk about blame "on both sides" at Charlottesville and his weekend "fire the son of a bitch" offensive against the NFL which predictably got push-back by players, owners and the NFL commissioner.   That mattered little to Trump, who then praised the NASCAR crowd for "respecting" our anthem, flag and the servicemen who fight for our country.   He literally pitted one sport and its ethnic demographic against another.   Slumping Fox News and right wing talk radio smell blood in the water.

Getting back to this morning's call-in show, I didn't hear one serious attempt to remotely understand why Colin Kaepernick and a few others risked their careers to make this statement calling out police brutality in the black community    You don't have to like "taking a knee", but at some point more people in the white majority have to at least ask why many minorities feel the need to resort to this.   Remember too that Trump was the one who caused 200 players on one Sunday to join what had been a very small group.

Really, is this pattern of right wing denial any different than the NRA refusing to even enter into a discussion about our gun culture or vested interests not wanting to even admit the existence of human activity hastening climate change?  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wrong About History

General Robert E. Lee
Mr. Trump is wrong about this one as well as just about everything else.   His meltdown Tuesday at Trump Tower should have been enough for any reasonable Republicans to call him out by name and cut their support.   For a man so supposedly concerned about people rewriting history and wanting all the facts before assigning blame for the alt-right act of terror in Charlottesville, nobody in his position in my lifetime has ever shown such cynical disregard for the truth.  For someone who pays lip service to the glory of our past, Trump's one focus has been to erase all traces of his predecessor out of existence.   That level of vengeful obsession is itself scary and beneath the dignity of the office. 

History is being changed all the time. Public displays of Confederate flags and statues came into prominence when reactionary forces regained control of the South by the arrival of the 20th century. The Jim Crow era that resulted was a concerted effort to rewrite Civil War history as some noble lost cause. Lincoln and Lee wanted to heal the nation's wounds after a devastating war and would've stood against these divisive symbols. That said, a respectful and peaceful resolution should involve moving these statues and battle flags to a more appropriate setting than the public square.   

That said, I hope we don't get a replay of the mob who tore down the Confederate statue this week.   That evokes memories of Iraq in 2003.   Peaceful transition is what democracy should be all about.   



Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Big Joke?

I've withheld comment here, but my occasional radio criticisms and those of others who are horrified by our 45th President seem to have little effect on Donald Trump supporters.   Beyond the outrageous tweets that even confound many of his own backers, alternate facts, "swamp" cabinet appointments, executive orders, uneasiness overseas, juvenile predecessor trashing, cruel budget cuts and now disastrous "health care" proposals, 36% give him a pass.   Just last week, someone who just heard me engage a Trump supporter on the radio couldn't figure out why I was worried about Trump and right-wing radio conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones.   After all, a bunch of other people he knew weren't concerned and Hillary was the devil herself.   It's all a joke, right?

Wrong.   I don't go around bringing up politics in casual conversations these days knowing that changing minds can be a fool's errand.   I do talk about the need for respect and facts when polarizing issues do present themselves, and I am not ashamed to say I'm concerned about the turn of events from bad to worse.   Our 45th President is in way over his head, most notably with a lack of understanding of what our democratic republic is all about.   I can still laugh at aspects of his personality, but his agenda and that of his enablers is no joke.   We can't just ignore someone who gets talking points from Alex Jones, a man who said 9/11 and Sandy Hook were inside jobs.   That is vile.  

Saturday, May 6, 2017

100 Days Plus

100 days plus one week into this chaos, I'm just as strongly against Trump and his agenda as ever.   It doesn't seem like too many opinions have changed since he took office.   The nation is as divided as ever.   I can't do much to change anyone else's opinion, but I can control my reaction to a very unpleasant set of circumstances.   No, I'm not going to live in a world of denial about how repulsive this administration truly is.   I'm not going to say, "I told you so."   I won't get into name calling and unfriending on Facebook.   Nor will I feed off the anger on both sides.    I'm not shutting good people out of my life who happen to see Trump differently.   In short, I'm not going to let my ideology be the ultimate ruling factor in my life.   In the six months since Trump's election, I've had time to put it in some degree of perspective and I think a lot of other people have as well as we try to get on with our daily lives.

That said, I will continue to speak my mind in a respectful conversation and either walk away or inject facts when Fox News or talk radio are someone's only media source.   While the President is the top person responsible for bringing us together, he fails more miserably with each false tweet, conflict of interest and executive action.   The leadership bar has been set lower than it's been in my lifetime, so it's tempting to react in anger.   On the other hand, you can't maintain that unbridled outrage forever and the low standard of discourse makes taking the high road relatively reachable.   I've never thought of joining a march before; but I would now.

Trump has deserved most of the criticism, but there are times when the left has given the far right unnecessary ammunition.   Intimidation on a few college campuses has cancelled appearances by extreme right wingers, which has fueled the "political correctness" charges. With Trump's assaults on free speech including mostly unfounded broad brush attacks on the media, why stoop to his level?   Free speech is free speech... left, right or middle!   Nobody loves getting booted out of an appearance more than Ann Coulter.   She'll just get her followers even more fired up.   Rightly or wrongly, Trump supporters see nasty over-the-top attacks on Trump as attacks on them, so they just dig in.   The next time you feel like calling Trump supporters ignorant racists, consider engaging them with questions about why they feel the way they do.   You may not be persuaded, but the tension level may just decrease enough to realize we are not solely defined by extreme political beliefs.   

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Belated Remembrance

This post is a month late, which gives you an idea as to how crazy things have been lately...

I only met Alan Colmes once, but we had numerous radio friends in common who loved the guy and I followed his impressive career every chance I got. Alan represented the views of a very select minority in media heavily dominated by conservative voices: talk radio and Fox News. Relevant to the end, Alan was a bit of a throwback to talk radio's younger days when opposing views clashed openly and frequently on the same station and often on the same show. In an era where today's talk is so polarized to the point where we isolate ourselves in convenient ideological bubbles, Alan thrived on staying engaged with those who had differing views. R.I.P. Alan

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Wait A Minute

The other day, someone at work went there, upset over what "your liberals" are violently doing at the UC Berkeley campus.   First off, I don't take kindly to getting pulled into a heated political discussion at my workplace unless it has something to do with what my job is at that time.   I went nuclear, and the person quickly realized this wasn't the appropriate time and place.   All is well on that score.   Unlike Mr. Trump, I'm not going to war with every person who may disagree with me.  These days, I would lose half of the best people I know in my life.   That's not the American way.

It's also un-American to lump everyone with an opposing view in with the most reprehensible extremes of our society.   Yes, liberals should stop calling every Trump voter ignorant or racist.   How'd that "basket of deplorables" comment work for Ms. Clinton?   I admittedly don't get the Trump supporter mindset because they seem to give him a free pass after every outrageous tweet.   Dismissing them as a group won't advance my understanding one iota.   We have to stay or get engaged in the discussion.   These are critical times.   I know that can be uncomfortable and inconvenient to many, but it's essential. 

The violent elements who forced the cancellation of the right wing extremist's appearance at UC Berkeley were not protesters any more than the masked limo-burning, Starbucks-trashing thugs were in DC on Inauguration Day.   The were criminals who competed for airtime with millions of peaceful marchers since Trump took office.   Fox News, Breitbart and talk radio conveniently ignore that while railing against an out of context Madonna quote.   If there were some legitimate alarm over her remarks, a visit from the Secret Service would be warranted, but Newt Gingrich wanted her arrested?   He's feeding the fire just like Trump did with the "lock her up" crowd.  

Here's the thing: what possible benefit can the protesters get out of fiery scenes on TV?   This, like Trump's every action and comment, only serves to galvanize the opposition.   Trump has been quick to denounce the Berkeley riot, threatening to withhold federal money from the school while claiming politically correct liberals bar free speech.  Wrong.   The school actually allowed the radical right winger to speak and only cancelled because of an obvious threat to public safety.   

Who does gain from the violence of the few?   Donald Trump clearly loved any disruptions at his rallies, and he hasn't changed his combative, authoritarian tone as President.   Who ARE these masked protesters, anyway?   What do they want?   The anti-Trump peaceful vast majority should be leading the charge weeding out these thugs.   They are so harmful to a cause that it makes me wonder who they really are.   Nobody's telling us.   Just as good cops should be the first to want bad cops off the street, liberals should be the first to expose whoever the hell these rioters are.   Go on the offense!    

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Bubble

A belated Happy New Year!   When Donald Trump was inaugurated at noon Friday, I wasn't watching but I did react with a "God help us" when seeing it on my phone in the middle of a restaurant.  My New Year's resolution has been to engage people respectfully whether they agree or not while correcting statements - now being called "alternative facts" by the new White House Chief of Staff.  After being totally blown away by the "people power" of the worldwide Women's March and seeing Facebook posts focusing on much smaller stuff, I finally initiated my own political Facebook post.  Sure enough, the likes and responses were basically from within my own liberal bubble of friends.

If someone's total takeaway from this weekend is what some thugs did to a limo, an SNL writer's tasteless erased tweet and hating Madonna for being Madonna while Trump is "just being Trump", is there hope of enough Americans getting out of ideological bubbles and really reaching out to the other side?  Yes, there's a liberal bubble too. Equating Trump voters (half of the best people in my life) with people who brought in Hitler is unacceptable. I am, however, very encouraged by so many Americans actually taking to the streets Saturday without a single arrest, but all some people find within themselves is selective outrage.   

A lot of people who voted for him now think he's nuts, and his authoritarian streak is very dangerous. This cult of personality and reaction to it have been taking all the oxygen out of the room, smothering real issues. The marches yesterday were a breath of fresh air!  For the past 30 years, setting one group against another has meant big ratings for some "news" networks and syndicated radio talk shows. They only need to preach to their choirs to get an audience niche while the rest of society can go pound sand.   The GOP may be Trump's undoing. If Pence took his place (climate change denier, gay conversion therapy cheerleader, evolution skeptic and all) at least the focus would be more on issues... compared to Trump anyway! 

One Facebook friend made the point about Madonna making it all about herself. She really needs a 7-second delay! That's the big problem with our President... all about him. That was obvious in his speech to the CIA.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Get Over What?

OK, it's Christmas time.   I don't want to hear any rants about it being OK to say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" now that Trump will soon be our next President.    American Christianity and the Christmas holiday are not under some blistering attack from the politically correct multicultural intellectual elites.  

If this fits, please take a breather in telling me or the majority of voters who didn't want Trump to "get over it."   Last time I checked, this is still a democratic republic where citizens can be skeptical of their government.   We elected a President, not an absolute monarch.

I'll promise to back off from getting all hot and bothered over our incoming President until he actually takes office.   As we saw today alone with the assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey, the terror attack on a Berlin Christmas festival and the ongoing humanitarian nightmare in Aleppo, the world is a troubled place.  Demonizing or shutting down those you disagree with only makes us weaker.   I hope our new President realizes that.  Yes, there's always hope. 


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Post Mortem

WHINERS WHINING ABOUT WHINERS:
After the nastiest campaign I've ever seen, gloating over the outcome to shocked Hillary voters is not a way forward. Time and hopefully a successful Trump administration can go a long way toward healing. In the meantime, people are entitled to their feelings. Just because folks have serious concerns doesn't mean they're trying to be your buzzkill. On the other hand, immediately wishing every possible calamity on Trump and his voters is not the high road Michelle Obama talked about.   

ON THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA:
We got exactly what we asked for, with giant corporations controlling (in this case) information like other other big names dominate their respective industries. They tailored it all to their target demographics and didn't care about the common good. Big name blogs looking for hits are not much different from AM talk radio, cable news or anything infotainment with an agenda.  There are still journalists who believe in speaking truth to power, and please click on the fact checkers like Politico.com and Snopes.com!

WHAT HAPPENED TO "THE MOST QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB"?:
People just couldn't warm up to Hillary Clinton.  The enthusiasm wasn't there to overcome the perceptions of corruption even in the face of an outrageous, lying, authoritarian, mysoginistic narcissist.   The Democratic party is now totally rudderless as its establishment ignored its traditional base of white blue collar workers who went for Trump in the Midwest Rust Belt.   I don't think Bernie Sanders was "robbed" of the nomination; nor did he "sell out" to the establishment.  Millenials and working class folks concerned about their futures were receptive to Bernie's message with millions of modest contributions while Hillary and her GOP elite counterpart Jeb Bush came across as the past with their big corporate donations.  Yes, FBI Director Comey threw a wrench in the works at the and the Electoral College didn't square with the popular vote, but there should be no reason why this race had to be such a tight one. 

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE DEMS?:
Say what you want about whether Bernie's economic math adds up, his movement is the wave of the future for the Democratic party to survive.   They have to stop being the tool of Wall Street and big donors.   In other words, just being a kinder, gentler version of the Republican party is not cutting it.   Bernie and Trump shook up things with passionate people power.  Let's hope populism can be put to good use.      

Monday, October 17, 2016

The "Post Factual" Era - Are We There?

Like many Americans, I've been taking in the travesty that is Election 2016.   A campaign I never expected to see in my lifetime has left me numb.   As an older white guy, I realize I'm in a political minority within my own demographic, but we're all in some minority.   I also work in a broadcasting business that has played a major part in fanning the flames.  I hope we can find our way out of wallowing over our alleged situation as we get away from dangerous and shallow obsession over celebrity.   We have find some consensus. Compromise is the only way.   That goes for ideological purists and diehard fans of all candidates.  Respectful discussion and rule of law are the only things keeping our country from devolving into some banana republic.  When Donald Trump condones violence and takes childish namecalling to a new low, the disgusting firebombing of a Republican office only serves to fuel his vitriol even more. 

You can watch the ongoing bullshit yourself without any help from me in making up your mind.   Here's a post someone put on economist Robert Reich's Facebook page that sums up my feelings:
I hope Trump implodes, and more importantly, I hope the GOP understands that nastiness, lies, conspiracy theories and misleading their base eventually backfires. It is up to them to begin repairing their own constituencies' distrust of institutions, including elections, science, media, etc. in order to move the country forward. We can't even debate issues on the same terms because our "facts" are so different.

It's not just the GOP that propelled this post-factual phenomenon forward.  We willfully ingest this swill (myself included).  In other words, we as a society tend to get what we ask for, not what need or necessarily want.  Check out this YouTube video from CNN, where Bill Maher gets very serious and makes a lot of sense... unfortunately:
http://mindy-fischer-writer.com/2016/10/bill-maher-unloads-trump-new-interview-video/

Friday, September 16, 2016

Can We Handle The Truth?

Today I had to fight off the urge to post something on Facebook based on the latest outrageous utterances of Donald Trump and his enablers.   Thankfully I came here instead. A short time ago when I filled in on the Stu Bryer talk show at WICH, several Trump supporters continued to push the nonsense over President Obama's birth certificate.   I finally had to reply that the "birtherism" that propelled Trump's candidacy and potential Presidency was clearly malarkey and baloney.  Today, when Trump tersely and unapologetically acknowledged that Obama was indeed born in the USA, I couldn't help but wonder if his most blindly loyal supporters felt at least a tad let down.   They had bought this load of crap hook, line and sinker.   Now he backs off his big claim to political fame with a pitiful shot at Hillary Clinton, saying she actually been "all in" in actually starting the whole birther thing.  It's yet another disgusting chapter in a crazy election cycle.   

Many blame the media for stoking this campaign of anger amnd misinformation, but do enough consumers really demand the truth?   It's out there, but we have to look.   Sadly, the deplorable aspect about most of this is the quick acceptance of one-sided information from politically driven media outlets.  Is Fox News really the only place where we get facts no one else will give us, or does their agenda just fit neatly into their viewers' conservative world view?   Don't think I'm letting my liberal friends off the hook.   The "Bernie or bust" attitude reinforced by low trust issues and policy disagreements with the Democratic nominee may cost Hillary the election.   Believe me, logical thinkers will have to compromise infinitely more if you stay away from the November polls or vote for a third party longshot.   It's beyond policy these days.   It's all about whether or not you want the most dangerous demagogue to ever occupy the White House to be sworn in as our next commander-in-chief.   That means we have to hold this narcissistic liar accountable by demading the facts, not spin.   I rely on websites like Politifact for fact checking.   We need to be realistic, informed consumers of information now more than ever!  

We handle the truth... if we want to. This article in Rolling Stone provides some analysis. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

What Have You Got To Lose?

Donald Trump & Mike Pence in flood ravaged Louisiana (AP)
This must be the "pivot" many pundits have called for.   After months of making the most polarizing and overwhelmingly false claims, Donald Trump presented a vague scripted apology of sorts about regretting some "comments that may have caused personal pain."   There are Hillary haters that are so anxious for a Trump Presidency that may actually believe this statement now makes everything OK.   After all, as Trump said to the African American community before a white audience, "What have you got to lose by trying something new?"  He then labelled Clinton a "bigot."   You could make a case for a lot of things about the Democratic nominee, but "bigot" is not one of them.   And "new"?   What Trump spews is very old..

One thing I notice among the most ardent Trump supporters is the attitude that things can't get any worse.   The media, Democrat, intellectual, Hollywood and even Republican elites are all rigging the system and bowing to "political correctness" that have killed this nation.   Tear it down and start all over, or more likely bring it back to when "guys like us, we had it made."   Is there some validity in these feelings?   The post-industrial age has taken away most of those blue collar manufacturing jobs that used to guarantee lifelong employment as big corporations have stepped in and are beholden only to shareholders.   Screw the employees; screw the community.

Can we blame this all on Obama or even the last few Presidents?   This shift is bigger than even the most powerful man (or woman) in the world.   The challenge is to get realistic about international trade deals without isolating what remains the globe's biggest economy from everyone else on the planet.   The simple narratives that Trump offers up are classic appeals of demagogues throughout history.   Most are based on zero facts; just go to fact checkers who still do actual journalism like politico.com or snopes.com.   No wonder Trump backers blame the media for their guy's slide in the polls, which seem to be giving the Donald a sudden need to display previously unheard of humility.  

I'll grant you two things: Hillary is not saint.   The angst among older working class white voters (and they do vote as well as call right wing talk shows) has to be taken seriously and not looked down upon.   Bernie Sanders tapped into some of this fear and frustration in a more positive way.  Trump may lose, but the desire to bring things back to the type of good old days that never existed remains strong and can be exploited by the con artists of the world because yes, it CAN get worse... MUCH worse.    

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bernie and Beyond

This is a pivotal week for the future of the United States as a democratic republic, and it concerns me like nothing has since 9/11.   Last week, we were treated to a demonization of Hillary Clinton like no major party candidate has ever been subjected to, with cries from the right of, "Lock her up!"   Now the "Bernie or Bust" left is threatening to cast a shadow over a Democratic convention run by Debbie Wasserman Shultz and a party establishment that has entertained the idea of taking the low road to prevent a Bernie Sanders nomination.   The latest email dump, shady circumstances and all, exposes people who are more bent on sabotaging a good man's fair shot at a nomination - one that showed more promise at keeping an egomaniacal demagogue out of the White House - than the party's "establishment" candiate. Shultz needs to quickly get as far away from Hillary Clinton's camp and the Philadelphia convention as possible while Clinton needs to reach out to disgruntled Sanders backers like never before.   Getting rid of superdelegates is a start.

What I prefer Bernie Sanders?   Absolutely, but don't think Donald Trump wouldn't wrongfully label him a communist more than Senator McCarthy used the term in the early fifties.   Sanders does better than Clinton in a matchup against Trump, but it would be nasty either way.   Did the Democratic Party have an anti-Sanders/pro-Clinton bias?   The latest email fiasco bears out what many already felt.   

I'll say it one more time.   Donald Trump is an existential threat to a political system (warts and all) that still holds more promise for mankind than any other system in history.   We have to get the outrageous influence of big money out of the equation.   To the Bernie or Bust liberals who went so far as to boo their own candidate when he called for supporting Hillary, I say get off your high ideological horse and remember that every protest vote against Hillary - or boycotting the November election entirely - is a Trump vote.   Once when we let our idealism blind us to reality, we got Nixon.   Trump is far worse.      

Sunday, July 10, 2016

What I Can Do

Normally, I look forward to my WICH morning radio show.  Friday was a notable exception, with breaking news from Dallas of five policemen slain by a demented individual. That followed and preceded protests over black motorists shot to death by police in Louisiana and Minnesota.   Of course, the blogosphere had already exploded this week with outrage from people disappointed that Hillary Clinton avoided likely criminal charges and jail.

What do we do?   The obvious solution is through thoughtful and positive action based on common ground across the political spectrum, but how can that go forward when the public discussion is so negative?    

The 9/11 attacks left Americans in shock and horror, yet we were touched by stories of average people going above and beyond the call of duty while so many voices came together on a global scale.   Subsequent events would make this era of consensus a brief one.   So, what can I do in my own little way to get past the anger and ignorance that fuel the news cycle?   I don't have to look - or listen - far.

Yes, that would be radio... specifically, talk radio   My first reaction Friday was to call out people who benefit financially and politically by stoking the outrage and spreading the myth that "their people" are uniquely entitled to be that way.   You don't have to lecture this old broadcasting guy about the fact that I'm on the air to make money for me and my employer, but somewhere along the way it also slipped into my consciousness that radio was designed to be a public trustee.   I mentioned some time ago about a Providence radio host fostering a public nuisance, exploiting listeners' fears about the Ebola virus.   That host has also prospered as a national network fill-in.   What's the difference between that kind of yelling "fire" in a theatre and taking the fear and hate to the next level in the context of this week's news?   Funny how they're never wrong about anything.   Beware of people who prey on ignorance and fear on the radio as with every segment of society.   When the opportunity presents itself, I will call out people in my business and others who play off fear and ignorance.

So take a walk in the sun, a drive in the country or crank up some feelgood music.   Limit your exposure to so-called "news" that has a clear agenda of profitability based on ideology.   America is a promise, not an irreparably broken reality.     

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Let the Voters Decide

I woke up in the middle of the night and made the mistake of checking Facebook.   There was outrage over the FBI director's announcement that there was no legal basis for prosecution over Hillary Clinton's emails. Director Comey, widely respected on both sides of the aisle, did deliver a stinging criticism of the careless and systemic use of a private server potentially vulnerable to hackers.   There was no sign of hacking.   Nor was there evidence of intentional flaunting of security protocols.   That said, social media (and undoubtedly right wing talk radio) are abuzz about a "corrupt" and "rigged" system where the Clintons are above the law.   Speaker Paul Ryan even referred to it as a miscarriage of justice.   Donald Trump, in true third world political fashion and devoid of real information (as usual), for months has called for Hillary Clinton's jailing for the sole purpose of pandering to his base.

The FBI was in a no-win situation, but I see no need to disparage the director's motives. They'd get political heat for a drawn out probe as well as a quick conclusion.   Carelessness does not necessarily mean lawlessness, and he made that call based on tons of evidence.   The issue of Hillary Clinton's trustworthiness and overall competence should be where it belongs: with the voters.   She's got her work cut out for her, and I fail to see where Clinton money and power have made her anything close to some Teflon figure.   Certainly the optics alone of Bill Clinton's airport encounter with the Attorney General Loretta Lynch were enough to send Clinton PR people into damage control overdrive.

When it comes to truth on issues, Presidential demeanor, experience and overall competence, Donald Trump has a lot of mending fences to do.   He shows no signs of doing that as he praised Saddam Hussein for "killing terrorists."   Let the American voters decide whether or not he should be entrusted with the nuclear codes.   Votes count!


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Brexit - Stage Right

For those select few among us on this side of the pond who actually paid attention, the vote in England (except London) and Wales to leave the European Union came as a shock.  British Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation as the hopes of the Obama admnistration and much of the international community were dealt a serious blow in a close vote.   Donald Trump, in Scotland primarily promoting his new golf resort, claimed victory in Britain "taking back" its independence while ignorant of the fact that Scotland itself had actually voted to remain in the EU as the likelihood of a new Scottish independence move increased.   Stock markets tumbled around the world.

That's not all.   In addition to Scotland talking again about breaking away from the UK, there are rumblings in other European nations about divorcing themselves from the EU.   Right wing nationalist and isolationist politicians are capitalizing on fear as immigration and terrorism become an even hotter topic.   Here what makes this British divorce from the EU so scary.   Europe has had decades of relative peace thanks in large part to effective cooperation amomng nations.   Military alliances alone such as NATO are no check against rampant isolation, hyper nationalism and ethnic divisions.  

I get it... mostly.   There are lots of older blue collar, rural, white and less educated Americans and Europeans who feel alienated by increasing globalism and technology in the economy.  There's a feeling that they're "losing" their countries to immigration and political correctness, but I think much of that fear is misguided.   The gap between the one per cent wealthiest and the rest of us is almost unprecedented.   Bernie Sanders is right in hammering this point home and forcing Hillary Clinton to pay more attention to where the true outrage should be directed.  Trump and Clinton are both part of that financial elite, yet Trump's demagoguery would place most of the blame on immigration and the intellectual elites who routinely refute his faulty "pants on fire" statements.   Unfortunately, passions seem to be overwhelming logic these days and it's not likely to get better soon.   Even if Trump gets clobbered in November, the polarization on both sides of the Atlantic needs to be addressed without jokers like Trump exploiting it. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Memories of Muhammad Ali

"The Greatest" has passed away at 74.   Many of us in the Baby Boomer generation have memories of Muhammad Ali going back half a century.   My father never followed sports much, but boxing was the one exception.   I recall one of those rare father-son sports moments when my dad took me to see The Super Fight, a fictional boxing match between Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali shot in 1969 where the result was based on probability formulas entered into a computer and shown once in theatres via another new technology: satellite.   Marciano was the projected winner based on statistics from his prime.   

I remember March 8, 1971, going skiing for the first time at Powder Ridge.   After a series of backwards falls, this impatient bnovice called it a night and waited at the base for the two more experienced skiers to finish up.   On the AM radio, sure enough, was the Frazier-Ali Fight of the Century when Joe Frazier took the heavyweight title.   With that kind of entertainment, I didn't feel deprived of extra "ski time".   Ali would come out on the winning end through most of his storied career but, win or lose, this man's bigger-than-life charisma would steal the show.

Muhammad Ali's fighting days would continue through the end of his life, battling the effects of Parkinson's Disease and promoting invaluable awareness in the fight against it.   Mike, my best friend from high school who has Parkinson's himself, proves you don't have to be heavyweight champ to be a fighter with class.   Mike once told me during Ali's controversial Vietnam War protest days, "They never should've taken away his title."   He was right.   As with so many stories of American exceptionalism, Ali proved it wasn't a matter of winning every battle.   It is about perservering in what we stand for.   

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Double Standard

If you are willing to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt on a HUGE list of outrageous statements, actions and pandering flip-flops at this point, there is little if anything I can say to dissuade you.  If you want someone with more information to make the argument that the email issue does not merit major federal offense scandal, I'll leave the heavy lifting to this smart guy from Newsweek:   He doesn't hold much hope that those Hillary haters who wish prison's in her future will be swayed.  While the world and a big chunk of America are seriously concerned about the USA under a narcissistic demagogue, Hillary has her work cut out for her because people can label her "crooked" when there's no pattern that makes her playing any more fast and loose with the truth than the rest of the candidates.   Was her use of emails through a non-secured server smart?   No, as she admits.   Was it willful criminal misconduct that put national security seriously at risk?   The FBI hasn't said that.   

Is there some misogyny in all this Hillary hate?   We can't discount that to some extent, but Trump is wrong taking the cheap shot saying she's "playing the female card."   He's been playing a dangerous, divisive, fearmongering game on every level.   I fear that the false narrative that "things can't get any worse" is leading the USA to a darker time when we look for a strongman who claims to have a monopoly on answers to legitimate concerns.

The real wild card is the role Bernie Sanders supporters will play in either uniting behind the likely nominee or staying away and allowing Trump to assume the most powerful job on the planet.   I'm a big Bernie fan myself and know Hillary's not perfect, but our very republic is in peril if we don't do everything we can to block this loose cannon.   "Bernie or bust" is a recipe for disaster in November.   That being said, it's clear that Hillary should make way for Bernie if her handling of the email investigation paves the way for a likely yet unimaginable Trump victory. The GOP ineffectively tried to avoid the delegate win for Trump, and it's sickening to see more Republicans eat their critical words, putting party over their own principles and lining up behind him.   Now it's up to the rest of us to get the focus off her damn emails, a Benghazi investigation that was a wasteful circus and the 20th century sex scandals and impeachment of her husband.   Still, Bill is way more popular than both Hillary and Donald.    Do we have a bit of a double standard?     Trump is the dangerous one!  

Saturday, May 7, 2016

In Shambles?

How Presidential!
Mr. Trump has defied most of the pundits who are at a loss to figure out why he has become the GOP nominee.   As much as this prospect disgusts me, we need to understand where the huge resentment of the establishment has come from on both sides of the political spectrum.   One theme I hear on the right from Trump supporters is that it "can't get any worse."  Oh, yes it can!  The dire assessment that America is already "in shambles" is ridiculous.  Do we have lots to be concerned about?   Of course we do.  We always have.  Do we turn to an untested egomaniacal autocrat to take over and fix everything?   Any historian would say it hasn't come to that.   In other words, turning to a strongman is based on a false narrative, and that's something that should worry every freedom-loving American.   

That is not to say that Trump supporters shouldn't have legitimate concerns about a rigged and corrupt system.   That's where Bernie Sanders is right on the money.   While Senator Sanders may fall short against the more establishment-backed Hillary Clinton, his points have to be taken seriously going forward.   The "too big to fail" corporate welfare cheats and the oligarchs who profit the most while America wages wars on a credit card are the potential ruin of a society that has made more progress and projected more power than any nation in history.   Calling your critics childish may appeal to a constituency that longs for simpler times and catchy slogans, but this is not reality TV... and America never stopped being great.   Leave the over-the-top hyberbole to North Korean dictators. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Law Talk

One of the best parts of doing the Glenn Till Ten Show on WICH AM 1310 is having guests, including a few who have become regulars on the show.   Norwich Attorney Ted Phillips is the best known in this select group, with his monthly Law Talk segment on the second Thursday of each month from 8:05 to 9:00am.   He answers individual legal questions from listeners while delving into the broader legal issues of the day that often grab the headlines. 

We talked about the recently enacted North Carolina "bathroom law" that mandates what bathroom a transgender person could use as well as some states' initiatives to allow businesses to refuse service based on sexual orientation.  A more conservative colleague wondered what the big deal was all about, since these instances would likely be few and far between.   If that is reason to let the states turn back time, why does an even bigger rarity like voter fraud have Republicans pushing often stringent voter ID laws that disproportionately limit participation by young people and minorities?   I often hear "let's send a message" when right leaning zero-tolerance positions are espoused.   I say we need to make it perfectly clear to anyone who wants to exclude people based on a range of labels that wholesale discrimination based on "religious liberty" or "states' rights" is unacceptable.   Let's not kid ourselves.   These "little tweaks" in the law won't mean the right wing is done with pushing their agenda back to the "good old days." 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Waiting For April Fools' Day

Bill O'Reilly's right wing rants aside, there can only be one plausible explanation for why Donald Trump keeps pushing the envelope more and more in an extremist direction.   He's bringing out all the hate into the open and waiting until April Fools' Day to reveal it was all a ruse to give the American electorate and political system the ultimate lecture on how polarized we've become.   Mr. Trump will then become America's voice of reason.   Surely he can't sincerely believe the ignorance he's publicly espoused or exploited.   He must at least be a smart guy, since he constantly reminds us of that more than anything.   Then cooler heads will prevail.   Yeah, that's it.   That'll point the shame on the media for fawning all over this reality show celebrity who gets ratings, a big chunk of Americans who chalk up any criticism of their guy as "political correctness", a major political party who enabled his rise and a culture looking for quick fixes while believing the false narrative that America has lost its greatness and couldn't get worse.   Surely he can't be serious.   Just wait till April Fools' Day.   Then all will be revealed.   Right?   That's the deal.   It's gotta be.   Hah?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

More Platforms to Bloviate

As attached as I've become to this blog going on eight years, perhaps the best reason I have posted less frequently is due to the opportunities I've had to share my thoughts and experiences on the radio. Doing a regular local morning show and occasional fill-ins for Stu Bryer's talk show on "Personality Radio" WICH AM 1310 can really eat up a lot of content.   Of course there are show prep services I rely on, but I really find myself sharing observations from my personal life and opinions more and more.   The reactions can be immediate, whether it's banter with Marty in the newsroom, guests or Stu's callers.   Putting all the programming elements in their proper places undoubtedly makes for a more listenable show (i.e. less tuneout), but those relatable tidbits are what people latch onto and remember.   Even on Facebook, I tend to put more information updates on the WICH Radio page than what's happening with me on my personal page.  I'll still express my viewpoints here on my blog, but I think I'll make it a monthly instead of weekly thing.   A look back makes it clear already how I feel about politics, media and some pivotal life events.

For now, I'll hope my lost wedding ring turns up; my finger got skinnier and it flew off.   Some circulatory and diabetic health issues are being more proactively addressed over the winter and I'm having a great time (albeit ridiculously early time) at WICH.   Happy Valentine's Day and President's Day, and I'll be back here next month or sooner if the need dictates.   

Saturday, January 16, 2016

It Doesn't Cost Anything

A belated Happy New Year!   Here's one reason I haven't been writing in this blog as often as I used to.   The last few months, I've devoted a lot of writing time getting things set up at my still new WICH morning show position.   The website and Facebook page were in woeful shape, and nobody seemed to be responsible for them.   There were other things I've done to hopefully get organized and promote the show and station.   Of course, there are often repercussions later in the day from that whole 4:00am wakeup routine.   I have also been involved in ongoing changes, including Christmas music turned into rocket science, programming music on WILI-AM.   Combine that with my other job with direct mail advertising and it's a wonder I have free time now.

Anyway, one thing that exemplifies my thin-skinned nature is the way people really think that being a nasty badass pays off.   Does it really cost anything to be nice?   After an afternoon of having good chats with current and potential ad clients, I actually feel better at the end of the day than when I get tangled up in someone's often petty rants.   Recently, WICH.com ran an unscientific poll as to how people felt about bringing Chelsea Botanical Gardens to Norwich.   The response by one side was downright nasty to the point of accusing the station of rigging the poll.   You couldn't hold a conversation with them over a poll that is no different than the "entertainment only" ones used on local TV stations and newspapers.   Then there were several callers in the first few minutes of my last fill-in on the Stu Bryer talk show attacking me as "rude", knowing nothing and having the gall to express my opinion even though I had only been on for a few minutes!   That's when I got a dose of the more enlightened side of humanity as a wave of callers expressed their support for my right to free speech, whether they agreed or not.

As we witness the nastiest Presidential campaign, I hope decent folks continue to speak out against the constantly combative in-your-face tone out there.   WICH listeners certainly came through on that score.   Choose to be nice, or even go so far as to be fair.   Make it a great day!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Line's Been Crossed

Say what you want about Donald Trump, but nobody can argue with the fact that he has touched a nerve among more Republican voters far more than any other candidate.   Facts themselves are few in most GOP right wing talking points, and Mr. Trump's claims and proposals are more devoid of truth than any other.   When Trump called for a total ban on Muslim immigration, he drew parallels to the darkest aspects of U.S. history.   Does anybody doubt this latest over the top pronouncement is exactly what the ISIS terrorists want?   While GOP rivals and party leadership fail to disassociate themselves from him after this crazy, impractical, uncontitutional and fearmongering idea, Hillary Clinton correctly states that Trump is "no longer funny."   He's now brought us into the danger zone, and unfortunately many Americans are going there willingly.

Whether or not you think a Mexican border wall and Muslim immigration ban would have a snowball's chance in hell of addressing legitimate problems, nobody can truly claim this is what America is all about.   Yet Trump supporters and many other Republicans continue to believe the Trump-inspired myth that President Obama was born in Kenya.   They also hate Obama so intensely that they believe he's a Muslim who hasn't done anything about ISIS  or curbing illegal immigration while trying to confiscate everyone's guns.     When I hear crowds cheering on Trump's self centered, vague and increasingly divisive reactionary rhetoric, my reaction is sadness.   Trump has no clue as to what makes America great.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Endless Cycle

Mass Shooting Scene (Huffington Post)
Here we go again.   Two well armed nutcases walked into a holiday party in San Bernardino, California and mowed down over a dozen people connected with a group committed to fighting the effects of autism.   It was one of a string of mass shootings making this country unique.   Nowhere in the allegedly civilized world do we see these incidents with such frequency.   Yet the NRA leadership and their cowardly servants in Congress continue to stand in the way of even the most basic common sense background checks while tightening gun show sales loopholes.   The gun manufacturer lobby has blood on their hands when they refuse to acknowledge any role in what is a distinctly American phenomenon as they push the nonsense that the Obama or Malloy administrations are looking to mrid the USA of all private gun ownership.  With a gun for every US citizen - over 300,000,000 - that's not going to happen.   

Longtime host Stu Bryer, who follows me on WICH AM 1310, can generally be called conservative, yet even his moderate views on tightening background checks are met with a "people will get guns anyway" attitude from vocal opponents of including gun control in a national discussion.    You can't cherry pick talking points like the fact that the San Bernardino shooters bought their assault weapons legally while pointing the finger of blame at mental health issues, violent video games... anything but gun access.    EVERYTHING has to be on the table if we ever can hope to address this insane cycle of mass shootings.    

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

An Apocalyptic View

ISIS
It's like they want us all to get mired in their quagmire.   The ISIS capital of Raqqa is coming under so much bombardment by the United States, Russia, France and others that you wonder how the city hasn't been leveled to parking lot status.   As the ISIS forces get gradually beaten back from key areas of Iraq and Syria, their military situation deteriorates, contrary to early battlefield successes when they filled a power vacuum with ruthless speed. Apparently, they want more punishment as they export terrorism to France, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere.   The fact is that in the warped ISIS view, their only measure of success depends on how close they can bring the world to an apocalypse.   It's not a matter of establishing an Islamist fundamental sharia law caliphate.   It's all about being a part of something that they believe will reward them in the afterlife.   If we thought al-Qaeda was extreme with the whole "70 virgins" concept, ISIS takes end of times prophesy to a whole new level.   With al-Qaeda, where there is at least some intellectual foundation, sick as it may be.  Osama bin Laden's family roots come from assimilation into a wealthy society.   With ISIS, their recruits are often disenfranchised people with nothing left to lose.   

The other afternoon driving home, I heard some radio preacher when my AM scan button landed on WACE 730.   He wasn't talking about what I understand about religion at all.   The message seemed to look forward to some judgement day after humanity had blown itself to bits.   How is that any different from what ISIS espouses?   The Pope is already referring to this ISIS mess as World War III.   Mainstream religion doesn't dwell on some vengeful God.   I have my issues with Catholic church doctrine, but the Pope is right in glorifying good works and condemning this horrible view of a supreme being.   Every civilized nation on this planet has to unite against this ISIS death cult.   You can get on Facebook or talk radio and blame Obama for being "too weak" about this despite conducting over 6,200 bombing raids or carry paranoia over immigration to its most extreme.   The fact is, Obama is not the enemy.   ISIS is.

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Special Guy

To most of the neighbors, I was the one who walked Oreo.   Just 3 months after a miraculous surgery, he took a turn for the worse and we had to face the sad facts today.   He was such an important part of my life since adopting him from the CT Humane Society in 2002.   The little guy was a bundle of joy, but today is heartbreaking.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Birther Baloney

Donald Trump has exploited this lie too far.   Despite all evidence to the contrary, a CNN poll finds 54 per cent of his supporters believe President Obama is a Muslim.   An incredibly ignorant question from some right wing extremist and Trump's response to it at a town hall meeting really does say it all.   Trump is afraid to acknowledge that his doubts about Obama's birthplace and religion are flat out lies.   The reason is simple: his political base refuses to accept facts about our first African-American President.   If the embarassing town meeting forces Trump's hand at finally giving up his bogus allegations, then he knows his campaign is toast.   There are lots of things to dislike about Donald Trump.   Where do we start?   I condemn his leadership role in the totally discredited birther movement, outrageous remarks about military service, childish personal attacks, spreading myths about vaccines' connection with autism, shallow pandering to fundamentalists, insanely expensive plans to build a border wall and misrepresenting Mexico and undocumented workers.   His whole political existence is predicated on fear of "them" taking stuff from "us."    Trump isn't entertaining anymore; he's pathetic and dangerous.

Bernie Sanders has been everything Donald Trump isn't.    That's reason enough to add my name to Bernie's supporters.    

Sunday, September 13, 2015

And We're Back

In the WICH studio
It's been a pretty crazy summer.   Much of it has been a working one.   I have had absolutely no time to put my thoughts down in a blog and even less time to take some semblance of a summer vacation. In addition to vacation fill-ins at six different Hall Communications radio stations in eastern Connecticut, there has been the business of keeping afloat the monthly direct mail shopper publications I've been involved with for over thirteen years.   My aging dog Oreo also has been a concern.   We made the decision to have the Lebanon Vet do an operation to remove a huge tumor a month ago, and the results were great!

Add in a music project I was asked to do at WILI-AM in Willimantic that turned out to have more unexpected extenuating complications for my pay grade than practically anything I've ever been involved in.   I admit that part of those complications is based on my own stubbornness, passion and reasonable expertise, which is why I decided not to back out of this longer than anticipated tunnel.   The station's programming is less than 50% music, but it didn't matter.

I am set to start another radio chapter tomorrow.   After 31 years at Hall Radio, WICH AM 1310 morning guy Mark Wayne has retired.   They have asked me to host the show.   I do not expect to make massive changes on day one.   The station's loyal audience looks for a certain continuity, but it would be wrong to just act as if nothing has changed.   Management wants me to "build the brand", so that's what I'll do.   I will still have some occasional morning fill-ins at WILI and will continue to program the music there, but the main focus has to be on WICH.   That will also mean less duties at the other stations, although they did get me to sub for Dan O'Brien (no relation) on 98.7 WNLC afternoons this week.   Hey guys, there's just so much of me to go around!   My ego does appreciate being in such demand for as long as I can stay relevant.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

What's Important, What's Not

A few head scratchers come to mind lately.   First, why do people assume someone should run a government just because they've run a business?   That seems to be the feeling some folks have about Donald Trump.  Should politicians have the same priorities and skill set as a billionaire businessman?   If that's the case, why not just elect the Koch Brothers or George Soros or Warren Buffett?   Who needs the middle man (or woman)?    We still can't get a clear picture of Trump's business success stories, yet many feel like they're so familiar with his management skills and business acumen because they watched "The Apprentice." Trump minimized John McCain's military service to our country while conveniently skipping over his own multiple student deferrments during Vietnam, yet some diehard Trump supporters react by saying he, "tells it like it is."   Being outspoken, off the cuff and unfiltered doesn't automatically mean you have a clue as to what anythying is.

Second, why do TV stations make the first time we get above 90 out to be a big deal?   It's July 20th!   They interview some guy working outside who calls the heat "unbelievable."   The only thing unbelievable is the fact that it didn't happen weeks or months ago.

Finally, the remarkable pictures from Pluto and its moons mark another awesome achievement in the exploration of our solar system.   Pluto was only found 85 years ago, yet in the span of a human lifetime its discoverer had his ashes launched three billion miles into space in a close rendezvous with the dwarf planet.    Unlike the 1969 moon landing, most people seemed to take it for granted.   It makes me wonder how impressive and exciting a live remote radio broadcast on a cell phone can really be.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Business Abhors Controversy

The "General Lee" 
Just as "nature abhors a vacuum", business abhors controversy.   That goes especially for big business.   Supporters of gay marriage and opponents of the Confederate flag on public property got major boosts last week thanks to the Supreme Court.   Why did prominent politicians who opposed these movements just days or weeks ago join the rush to switch their stance?   Simply put, they followed the money.   Both Democrats and Republicans draw heavily on campaign contributions from business and industry, not to mention consumer spending.   

When Arizona and Indiana faced massive boycotts due to their reactionary new homophobic laws, the Republican governors backed off.   South Carolina politicians and their supporters knew they would be feeling major heat if they defended the presence of the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of the state capital building following the massacre of nine at a Charleston black church.   The governor acted to prevent a loss of business.   Whether or not South Carolina state legislators vote to evict a flag displayed by a racist nmass muderer remains to be seen.    When TVLand cancelled reruns of "Dukes of Hazard" because of the Confederate flag on the roof of the General Lee, it became obvious how quickly corporations were moving to cut ties to symbols of segregation.   That's not sanitizing history.   Pretending that the Confederate flag solely stood for Southern pride is, though. 

The process repeats itself over and over.   NBCUniversal cut ties to newly declared Presidential candidate Donald Trump following his comments about immigrants from Mexico.   Macy's fired Trump as a representative for its apparel line faster than sponsors could dump Paula Dean when her racist comments came to light.    Sensitivities are changing, and criticizing it all as "political correctness" is not working.    Even with Obamacare, states that deny the flow of money from expanded Medicaid to its own citizens are playing a cruel game just for the sake of opposing President Obama.    Corporations like stable markets.   They don't generally like unrest.   When the cons of doing business somewhere outweigh the pros, watch how Wall Street reacts in a sometimes progressive way to save its bottom line.   Just ask the former sponsors of conservative talk radio.