Tribute to a Friend

April 21, 2017

As I begin this, it is nearly midnight, usually about the time I go to bed, but I feel I have to write this. No rants or opinions at this hour, just ruminating on a friend.

I first met Terry Foster in Anspach Hall, in the basement offices of CMLife, the student newspaper at Central Michigan University in August 1980. We were both sports writers and Terry had a fantastic way of making you feel at home. I had already known a person on staff there, Chris Cross and she guided me into a seemingly seamless newsroom. Cramped as all hell, but much fun to go there every day.

Everyone loved Terry. Terry loved everyone else. He was a senior when I transferred there as a junior. I covered Tennis and Volleyball and occasionally wrote a feature story for Matt Dobek, the very quirky sports editor. Terry covered CMU football and wrote stories for the Detroit Free Press. Everyone wanted his assignments.

We used to goof around a lot. We would play football in the office and he was Anthony Carter and I was John Wrangler. Or he was Charlie Sanders and I was Greg Landry. His nickname for me was ‘Hilmer,’ after the middleweight boxing champion Hilmer Kenty, who trained with Thomas ‘Hit Man’ Hearns at the Kronk Gym in Detroit. He never seemed to lack for female attention or friends. I went to a party at his apartment once and he was wearing a dress. It was Halloween and funny as all heck.

Our paths seemed to cross a lot during those years. After leaving Central, he got a job at the Grand Rapids Press and then the Free Press. Then, 1988, he got a plumb assignment, covering the Pistons for the News. The Bad Boys were just hitting their peak, on the rise to two NBA Championships and three Finals appearances. (should have been three championships, but for a phantom foul on Bill Laimbeer) And the wars between Chicago and Boston, epic battles. He was in LA and Portland when the Pistons won their titles.

In 1994, he became a columnist for the News, “a free-lancers job with a paycheck,” he once told me. He covered the Olympics, all the big events, and wrote about the Detroit sports scene. He gained national attention and got married and fathered two kids. He started doing sports-talk radio about this same time, first at WDFN and then at 97.1 FM. He was paired with Mike Valenti, a brash, out-of-towner who brought his east coast cynicism with him to Detroit. Foster, while somewhat of a cynic, still was a “homie,” someone who everybody could relate to and he could relate to everyone else.

But like so many of us once we hit the big 5-Oh, life starts throwing curveballs at you. For Terry, who never met a plate of food he didn’t eat, it came in the form of Type 2 diabetes. Never backing away from a challenge, he got serious and lost weight and had a personal trainer. He retired from the News in 2015, devoting all his time to his radio show and his family. His daughter, about to graduate from high school, is a standout soccer player and was involved in several travel teams.

Last August, he suffered a stroke. And then complications. He’s return was set for October, then pushed back. When he returned to the air in January, he wasn’t the same “goofy Terry,” either at work or at home. Yesterday, he just walked away. He just “didn’t feel like talking about Brad Ausmus’ latest moves or who the Lions should draft anymore.”

Most of us do reach that point in life, where things that seemed important, just don’t anymore. As I chronicled earlier this year in this space, I had my own health scare last fall as well. I recovered quickly, but for some, it is much different (Still, dying on the floor from being severely dehydrated isn’t the way I would have envisioned myself dying, but it almost happened). I don’t think Terry ever thought that two strokes would fell him or make him change his life, either, but it has and maybe it will work out for the best. Maybe the Terry Foster I’ve known for the better part of my life will still be around to call me up and say “Hilmer, you still playing table tennis?”

For now, my dear friend, yes. But who knows what the future holds. After all the Tigers need a lefty out of that damn bullpen and my arm can still throw. Enjoy your life, Terry. Just remember, somewhere, I can still drudge up that picture of you in a dress.

The Great Right (wingnut) Hope

April 19, 2017
So, lets get our facts straight. After all the bluster from Kim Jung Stupid, Dorito Don and straight arrow (not worth a) Pence, it turns out it was just another lie by the U.S. of A. The USS Carl Vinson was headed towards Australia, not Korea. But Pence sure looked good in the DMZ with the binoculars. Kind of like MacAuthur before Truman fired him. Or Georgie-boy ‘flying’ that plane onto the aircraft carrier. All for show. They know, including the Chinese and Russians, that a second “Korean War” would mean millions, up to a billion, would die. Needlessly. Even a “targeted” EMP (Electro-magnetic Pulse) would impact the entire Pacific Rim in the Northern Hemisphere. All of which could lead us into World War III.
 
And that, fellow citizens, it what this is all about. The religious nutcases in this country voted for Trump and Pence because this is what they want. Armageddon. They want Jeebus to return to save them and cast out all the rest of us to hell or where ever because Obama. Or Clinton, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy or Hillary. Mostly, because they seem to think that because everyone else is a godless heathen, they will be chosen to stay on for the 1000 years (according to the book of Jewish fairy tales) that precludes humanity’s end. 
Well, I got news for you end-timers. Jeebus is as real as Apollo and Creed. And Elvis stands a better chance of returning than the “Son of God.” As does Michael Jackson, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Robin Williams and my dog. It is theorized that just one nuclear warhead could kill a quarter-billion people. Imagine what 1,000 could do. We have a President who doesn’t know diddly and an evangelical Veep who peers out over the Korean DMZ and all his Biblical fantasies are right there, in the kaleidoscope over his binoculars.
This Presidency, 90 days in, is a disaster. The conflicts, the lairs appointed to cabinet posts, Congress broken beyond words, family appointed to key positions, Sean Spicer, who makes Ron Ziegler look good in retrospect, Russia, Turkey, the snubs of key allies, etc. make me worried for not only the future of our republic, but the world.

Then, of course, there’s this:

We're doomed

Tell me what is being done in my name, part the infinity.

March 18, 2017

In December 2004, I moved. The place I was living at, informally, asked me to leave. So, with a little help from their social worker, I moved. Years later, I found out what they did was illegal, but hey, by then it was too late to take the matter to court.

I moved into an apartment building and was given an apartment on the sixth floor with a faulty elevator system. Really. My parents came by once and the lifts weren’t working, so they climbed up six flights to visit with me. Fortunately, the staff at the property was looking out for me, unlike at my previous place, and got me out of that ridiculous situation a few months later. I have lived in my current home for over 11 years.

Why do I mention this? Because its important to what’s going on here in the country today. I mention this because, as I try and tell people, what happens in Washington and Lansing and every state capitol, happens to me first, but will happen to you as well.

Wednesday night, the Federal Budget was released. That is it a joke in and of itself and was drawn up by an acolyte of Grover Norquist is no surprise. It is cruel and contradictory to everything America is supposed to stand for. It eliminates funding for PBS and NPR. “This budget is short-sighted, cruel to the point of being sadistic, stupid to the point of pure philistinism, and shot through with the absolute and fundamentalist religious conviction that the only true functions of government are the ones that involve guns, and that the only true purpose of government is to serve the rich,” says Charles Pierce at Esquire.

This is the “feed the rich, screw the poor,” budget drawn up by the Heritage Foundation and Mike Mulvaney, who makes David Stockman look like Albert Schweitzer by comparison.  It cuts “Meals on Wheels,” a $3 million a year program that provides the disabled and seniors at least one ‘square’ meal a day. It makes Stockman and his boss, St. Ronnie of Dementia, look like Sargent Schriver and Lyndon Johnson, for Pete’s sake.

There are so many draconian cuts to this budget, I’m shocked that it was even printed on paper. Perhaps the most nonsensical cut was to the State Department, where 30% of the cuts are being made. From ABC News:

“The president’s vision is to add $54 billion to military spending and cut the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by 28 percent. “There is no question this is a hard power budget, it is not a soft power budget,” the president’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters Wednesday. “The president very clearly wanted to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is a strong power administration, so you have seen money move from soft power programs, such as foreign aid, into more hard power programs.” While Mulvaney described the cuts to the State Department as “fairly dramatic,” he said the country’s core diplomatic functions will not be impacted by the cuts, which he said are focused on reducing foreign aid. “That is not a commentary on the president’s policies toward the State Department, that is a comment on the president’s policies toward what is in their budget,” he said. “The foreign aid line items just happen to fall in State.””

Oh good. This president wants to be seen as a tough guy. A man who never served in the military, but went to military school and “knows more than the Generals.” A man who wants to win wars like when he was young. Except he received four deferments from Vietnam for “flat feet.” Yeah, OK, buddy.

Also, Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed, granny starver who (still) wants to be President someday, said the following to National Review’s Rich Lowery:

“So Medicaid, sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate. We’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around — since you and I were drinking at a keg. . . . I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a long time. We’re on the cusp of doing something we’ve long believed in.”

These guys are worse than Marmalard and Neidermeyer at Omega. I thought Norquist was bad, but these guys are sadists, and that’s being kind.

Of course, there is a rebuttal, from, naturally, a Kennedy. Joseph P. Kennedy III, to be exact. From the Boston Globe:

 “I was struck last night by a comment that I heard made by Speaker Ryan, where he called this repeal bill ‘an act of mercy.’ With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different Scripture…The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful, but by how we care for the least among us. There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill. This is not an act of mercy. It is an act of malice.”

That’s Robert F’s grandson, Jack’s great-nephew. Had Rosie Greer been where he should have been in the Ambassador Hotel Kitchen on June 4, 1968, he might have been the grandson of a second President Kennedy.

I can just hear it, “I didn’t for for this,” from Trump voters. Well, yes you did. You voted for this when you voted for Reagan, when you voted for both Bushes, when you voted for the Tea Party guy because Obama. You voted for this for the last 36 years. Or, allowed this to happen.

Which brings it all back to the beginning. When I moved into my current home (a townhome, completely accessible), I was eligible for a home heating credit because I paid a gas bill. Every May, I would get real money back from Consumers Energy, one year, it might have been $375. On a fixed income, that’s a lot of money. But then, in 2011, the state changed the rules and fixed it so there would be no checks written, unless there were “special circumstances.” Then they went about rigging the system. In 2014, the most brutal winter of my life, I was still on the budget plan and paying a fixed rate every month. Come May 2015, after filing my Home Heating Credit with the state, I was informed that Consumers couldn’t cut me a check, but the $140 would be credited to my account. Of course, from June until October, there’s no need for heat in Michigan, but they still find a way to charge $16 a month for using 0.2 meters of gas. I dropped out of the budget plan after that go-around.  One of the important things wide-load Donny wants to cut is the Federal Home Heating Credit, which, among other things, would raise my rent by about $20. You say, “I didn’t vote for that. I wanted him to ‘drain the swamp.’ And ‘Lock Her Up,’ and kill Keith Olbermann.”

Well, you voted for him, not me. Don’t worry about me, I’ll just wither away and die. After all, I’m a burden.

And if you believe that, you voted for Trump.

…And then I got sick

January 27, 2017

It has been a week since my first time on an operating table since 1969. Richard Nixon, the bent crook, was President and I was 10.  It was a surgery to have my gall bladder removed, which, of course, had nothing to do with my emergency room visit 38 days earlier, but we’ll get to that in a while.

2016. Or maybe I should go all AP Stylebook and write it out. Twenty-sixteen. Or, as a friend of mine put it, twenty-fucking-sixteen. A year of loss. Gut-wrenching loss. Of being confused and lied to and about. A year of being punched in the gut so much you became almost numb to it.

Death, loss and defeat. That was the theme of the past year. From David Bowie to Debbie Reynolds, we lost many legendary performers in 2016 (and just the other day, Mary Tyler Moore), that shock turned to resignation when it happened. That we lost all that talent and creativity made it very hard to take.

And then came November 8. The day we all expected history to be made. Just like eight years prior. And it was made, but not in the way we expected. I was so shocked that Trump won, I thought it was a bad dream. Except I don’t dream anymore. So, we elected “The Mad Twitter,” because of Hillary Clinton’s emails or Bill Clinton’s blowjob or healthcare or racism or getting the black guy out of the White House. Either way, we have a new President who doesn’t know jack shit about anything. But he likes to spread the lies. El Pesidente’ del Mar-A-Lago sure does a lot of that.

Then there are those everyday people who you know or think you know until you find out they’re full of it. Whether they are local or from Thousand Oaks, California or the United Kingdom, you think you know someone, but you don’t. Lies and deception and hiding behind a set of arbitrarily set of standards is like firing someone a day before you have to give a reason. You think you’ve gotten away with it, until its’ found out.  Whether its generosity taken a bit too far, a dragged out version of “Spanish Prisoner” (where the truth isn’t revealed until it has to be) or having your sponsorship removed because of some impossible-to-meet standards, it still stinks.

And then I got sick.  Sicker than I’ve been since I was a kid.  Fell out of my bed three times, had to crawl out to the living room on my back to get to my phone once. Went to the hospital, I was diagnosed with bronchitis and acute diarrhea. Two distinctly different problems, seemingly unrelated. Spent the night, they couldn’t figure out what was causing my diarrhea, so they did an ultrasound. Found out I had gall-stones.  Had to cancel a trip to Vegas. Had to get on the Doctor-go-round. My regular Doctor gave me steroids for my bronchitis, another one gave me conflicting information on whether or not I needed surgery. It got to be a bit much. So, after a second visit with my primary doctor, he gave me to a surgeon and I had it done a week ago. Yes, on purpose so I wouldn’t have to witness the Libidinous Nutcase become president*

So ends one of the worst years of my life. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the worst year of my life. So far, even with the surgery, it looks to be pretty normal. The Lions still haven’t won a playoff game since 1992, there’s a massive sinkhole in Fraser that no one seems to know how to fix, but the state wants to cancel Daylight Savings Time.  Just what we sent them to Lansing for. To fix the big things. I might have to start buying bottled water, but hey, as long as the DeVos’ and Nestle’ keep getting their way, nothing to worry about, right? Another year to look forward to.

Can I please have a do-over?

Another Christmas

December 24, 2016

From “A Christmas Carol”: Its as the Ghost of Christmas present is about to leave and he reveals the two demon children underneath his robe. “Spirit! are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

It has been 160 years or so since Dickens wrote his novel about the perilous and fragile state of humanity in pre-industrial London.  We have passed through that time and now are entering a similar time, where avarice is somehow seen as being the better than just being human.  We have just elected a 70-year-old man who embodies that ugly mentality that Scrooge did before he awoke from his Christmas Eve nightmare.

I highly doubt that Donald Trump will have the same epiphany tonight – or any other night in the near future. Scrooge, at least, found his humanity. Trump never knew what it was.

That ignorance has washed over this country over the last 40 years is nothing new. People, smarter than me, have warned about it for years. Comedians, like the late George Carlin, saw this coming, as did Lenny Bruce 50 years ago.  People have tried to take sense into these people, but they don’t listen.

Carlin’s rant, from 2005…

“But there’s a reason. There’s a reason. There’s a reason for this, there’s a reason education SUCKS, and it’s the same reason it will never, ever,  EVER be fixed.

It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got.

Because the owners, the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the BIG owners! The Wealthy… the REAL owners! The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions.

Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice! You have OWNERS! They OWN YOU. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying,  lobbying, to get what they want.  Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want:

They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. Thats against their interests.

Thats right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. They don’t want that!

You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fucking place! It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it!  You, and I, are not in the big club.

By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care! Good honest hard-working people; white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means, continue to elect these rich cock suckers who don’t give a fuck about you….they don’t give a fuck about you… they don’t give a FUCK about you.

They don’t care about you at all… at all… AT ALL.  And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth.

It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

I don’t know what will happen come January 20th or thereafter. Ignorance won an election last month and now we have to deal with the consequences. Whether or not we are doomed remains to be seen.

Another Christmas. Spent alone. Hope and a common future seem as distant as Mars at this point. Yet I try to find the positive and stay close to my family, as distant as they are, and friends, as spread out as they are, as I can. I am not 25 anymore. Too many people have come and gone in my life to really understand why. I just try to hold on to my sanity one day at a time and hope that even though I’m a cynic, that my humanity still manages to peek through.

Two views, a divided country

November 12, 2016

This is an open letter to President-elect Trump. I want you to know that America expects better of you as president than what it saw in the campaign you ran. You are now to be our president, and that brings new responsibilities. I hope you feel the call of history to live up to them.
That history calls on you to remember that America is a wonderfully diverse country. We are Christian and Jewish and Muslim and Hindu and none of the above. We are gay and straight. We are black, brown, white and innumerable combinations. We are young and old, female and male, with and without disabilities, urban and rural, and liberal and conservative. Every one of us is an equal American. Every one of us deserves a voice that our President will hear.
I am gravely concerned about climate change. You campaigned as blissfully unconcerned. As president, you will hear from our military and all our national labs and from NASA (the folks who put a rover on Mars and may know a little bit about real science) how deadly serious this is. Listen to them. There is a grown-up world of people beyond the creepy alt-right and the fossil fuel industry who actually know what they are talking about. You may go to any major university and confirm what they will tell you. You have responsibilities as president. Remember the full-page ad you signed in the New York Times in 2009 calling for strong climate action. “We support your effort,” your ad said to the Obama administration, “to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate challenge facing the United States and the world today. Please don’t postpone the earth. If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.” The signatories did not include just you, but your children, Donald, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka. Their future and their reputations are in your hands too.
More than anything else, I want you to know how you have scared people, particularly young women. I can’t tell you how many women and girls I’ve heard from, or heard about from their parents, in the first days after your election. Little girls who cried when they heard you had been elected. Students who wept together, comforted by their teachers. Mothers who cried, and hid their crying from their kids. I heard from friends, family, nieces, college students, mothers and grandmothers, and from old friends reporting about their spouses and daughters. I received a flood of texts and emails. Over and over, they spoke of tears and fear. Over and over they repeated the same words: “scared,” “frightened,” “terrified.” Of you. It has broken my heart to hear so much of this in the last few days, and to try to reassure them that it will somehow be okay. These youngsters are not faking it or making it up. This is heartfelt and widespread. You may not have intended it, but you came across as an ogre to them in this campaign. You frightened them. You frighten them now. This is real. You have a lot of damage to repair.
I don’t need to say what dark impulses you have stirred that Latino and African-American friends recognize. The dog whistle is not just heard by the racists. It is heard loud and clear by people for whom racism is a regular fact of their lives, people who grew up with different expectations and fears in their lives because of that racism, people who heard the Jim Crow stories from their parents and grandparents, people who now have to have “the talk” with their sons. They are Americans, too, and this experience is in their lives, at their hearts.
Finally, please also bear in mind that Secretary Clinton got more votes than you did. Without the Electoral College, she’d be president. If past presidential years are any guide, there were likely more votes cast nationwide for House Democratic candidates than for Republican candidates. In 2012, House Democrats won the national vote by over a million votes. Without REDMAP’s gerrymandering, Speaker Pelosi would have the gavel. It will take a while to know whether more votes were cast for Democratic candidates for the Senate in total than for the Republican candidates, but it’s possible that Democrats got more votes than Republicans across the board in both elected branches of the federal government. Either way, working together is the right thing to do, and will make you successful, not trying to drive a harsh, partisan agenda from a position of having lost the popular vote.
You will find that Democrats love America just as much as you do. We want to work with you. I believe that the role of president of the United States is vastly different from the role of candidate, and that the Donald Trump of the campaign will not succeed as president. The campaign is over, and real responsibilities lie ahead. For all our sakes, I wish you well.

This is another view:

I have not corrected spelling and grammar mistakes.

“My dear wife Janet has allowed me to comment about the election on her site. Unlike most of my family I vote as an Independent, not by party, I vote for the candidate I believe is best. America is governed by its Constitution, and laws created under the Constitution. Barrack O’bama and Hillary Clinton have broken these laws and ignored our Constitution to their benefit. Hillary Clinton is only going to be an extension of the Obama regime. I cannot as a God fearing, law abiding citizen, Patriotic citizen, and Constitutionalist vote for Hillary Lying Clinton.
We as U.S. Citizens are bound to our laws and principals, we must vote for candidates who have and will maintain these principals, Hillary is not that person. She has lied at every turn, the e-mail scandal on her behalf is so full of her lies even she can’t keep track. FBI Director Comey has shown us without any doubts her unlawful actions. Her husband Bill the,” impeached pervert of the White House“, met Atn. General Loretta Lynch on her plane and arranged to let Hillary off the hook. Hillary with the help of her henchman Bill arranged Pay For Play. They have illegally taken money from the Clinton Foundation, Chelsea’s wedding was paid for with Foundation funds. Hillary arranged for Goon squad to disrupt the Trump speeches, this was caught on tape. She has lied about the Benghazi deaths of four men. Her misdeed’s go on and on. Just politics and Republican lies, don’t you believe that, if she is innocent so is the Mafia. If Obama and Lynch were not protecting her she would already have been indicted as any criminal would. The Clinton”s have been in and out of so many scandals, doesn’t this sound the alarm, if it looks like a duck, quakes like a duck, waddles like a duck, it isn’t an honest politician. Trump isn’t perfect, but he is basically honest, what Hillary points to about Trump dishonesty doesn’t even make pee hole in a snow bank.
Simply said I will not vote for a crooked candidate.”

One was written by a United States Senator, the other by my step-father. You can guess which is which.

Today is the last blog I will write for a while, this election has devastated me in a very profound manner. I know a few others who feel the same way and I hope to return to it someday in the future. We have entered what a friend and fellow blogger termed a “dark age” in America and until we can fully live up to the term in the Pledge of Allegiance, “with liberty and justice for all,” I fear the coming months and years will not live up to those lofty ideals. Much like Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who wrote the first piece, I hope a President Trump lives up to the office. But then there are people like my step-father, a product of another time, who has warped views, shaped by Fox “News” and others, who think that Trump will do everything he promised. He won’t.

This country is divided as ever. It cannot survive as long as we talk at each other and not to each other. That, more than anything is why we are where we’re at today.

Edith Keeler Must Die

October 20, 2016

“Jim, Edith Keeler must die.” Spock (Leonard Nimoy) “The City on the Edge of Forever.”

(Mandatory video accompaniment   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRIYBO-05K8)

For the past 16 months and three days, we have seen history bent on its proverbial ear by a loud-mouth vulgar, bully of a man, a man so devoid of facts and knowledge that he revels in it. He’s a braggart, a con man, a pretend rich guy who panders to the worst instincts of America.  Donald Trump, the worst candidate ever in modern political history, has permanently damaged our country to the point where I may be dead before it recovers.

He will lose this election, perhaps by the biggest margin since Reagan beat Mondale. But to him, it won’t matter, because he’ll say it’s rigged and “Crooked Hillary” shouldn’t even be running. He’s already saying it, some of his supporters are talking about a revolution, some say they will kill Mrs. Clinton and her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, in order to insure neither one becomes President.

“Jim, Edith Keeler must die.”

That episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” is considered to be the best “Star Trek” episode ever.  Written by the legendary science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, the story centers around the changing of history because of one small change. “The Butterfly Effect,” that, if played out, changed the outcome of World War II.  McCoy accidentally injects himself with the wrong drug and goes into a paranoid rage, beaming himself down to a planet barren except for a strange oracle known as the Guardian of Forever. (Years ago, I read the original script and while most made it into the episode, there were a few key elements cut) McCoy passes through the portal into the past and poof! the Enterprise is gone. Kirk and Spock go back in time to attempt to find the doctor and set history straight.

In so doing, they meet a social worker by the name of Edith Keeler (played by a  then-unknown Joan Collins), who runs a homeless mission during the Depression in New York City. They soon, through Spock’s ingenuity, realize that she is their focal point. That somehow Dr. McCoy, by saving her from dying in “some sort of traffic accident” as Spock tells Captain Kirk, changes the course of history, creates a pacifist movement, delaying the United States’ entry into World War II and allowing Germany to develop nuclear weapons and win the war.

Not knowing the exact time table for the pivotal moment to arrive, Kirk and Spock take odd jobs while Miss Keeler continues her work at the mission. She observes them and says “you two don’t belong here,” to which Spock retorts, “where do you think we belong?”

“You, by his side. Where you’ll always be.” And as prescient she looks at Kirk and says, you belong “in another time.” Kirk falls in love with Edith and is torn over love and duty.

McCoy shows up, still feeling the effects of the overdose and proceeds to rest up in the mission, unbeknownst to his shipmates.  McCoy believes its all a hallucination, but “I’ve determined you’re not,” he says to Miss Keeler. She then informs him that her “young man is taking me to a Clark Gable picture tonight.”* McCoy says “a what?”

The next scene, Kirk is escorting her to the show. After saying exactly the same thing about Clark Gable, she inadvertently says “you sound like Doctor McCoy.” Kirk after stopping in his tracks, runs across the street screaming “Spock!!!” McCoy appears and Edith begins to walk across the street, not looking to see an oncoming truck that hits her. Kirk stops McCoy and she dies. “I could have saved her!!!” McCoy says, “Do you know what you did?” To which Spock says, “he knows, Doctor. He knows.” Now, with history back in its proper place they return to the Guardian’s planet and a crestfallen Kirk says “let’s get the hell out of here.”

*Note: DeForrest Kelley, a veteran character actor who appeared in many Western’s in the 20 years prior to “Star Trek,” knew Gable very well.

The past 16 months have felt like Edith Keeler lived.  That somehow history was changed because this bully of a man, Benito Combover with a spray-on tan, was allowed to run over 16 challengers in the Republican primaries, calling Marco Rubio “little Marco,” accusing Ted Cruz’s father of being in on the Kennedy assassination, by mocking Jeb Bush and Carly Fiornia “look at that face. Do you want a face like that for a President?” Saying the Iowa caucuses were “rigged” and the Wisconsin primary.  Bragging that “I could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes.”

And this man wants to be President?

I have never heard anything like this before in my life. And that’s just the tip of the dagger he’s thrown at the grand experiment called America. In his acceptance speech at the RNC Convention in Cleveland in July, he said “I alone” can fix America. Really?

I’m not going to run down the list of narcissistic bullshit he’s thrown out there, nor am I going to get into the minutia of all the offensive things he’s said, but last night’s comment “what a nasty woman,” directed at Hillary Clinton “who shouldn’t have even been allowed to run,” took the cake. From the moment he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower, it’s been all about him, not being President.

This man, a shallow, mean, hell-bent-on-revenge for a lifetime of being not taken seriously, the ultimate caricature of a bully, a member, as a friend of mine who knows him (the poor bastard), refers to him as “a member of the ‘lucky sperm club,” wants to blow up Washington and America in the process and he’s going to try and do take it down any way he can.

“Jim, Edith Keeler must die.”

Now, he is talking about not honoring the results of the election. That is not the way it’s done, dammit. Stephen Douglas and Richard Nixon, Andrew Jackson, Samuel J. Tilden, Al Gore all had legitimate reason’s to contest their elections. Nixon, in 1960, knew that the Chicago vote, which gave Illinois to Kennedy, was littered with dead people voting, still conceded the election. Tilden, in 1876, lost a even more disputed election than Gore did in 2000. https://www.270towin.com/1876_Election/

All of these people conceded once the results were settled. Even Gore, who ended up losing the election by fiat on a Supreme Court decision, conceded.  So, in 18 days, when America votes, and Hillary Clinton is elected by a clear majority, will Trump be a gracious loser, or will he be a petulant eight-year old? My guess is the later.

“I could have saved her. Do you know what you just did?”

“He knows, Doctor. He knows.”

Trump’s last stand

October 10, 2016

“Rules? There are no rules in a knife fight.” Harvey Logan (Ted Cassidy, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”).

If last night’s debate debacle didn’t seal the deal, then I have no idea what will. After everything else he’s done, Donald J. Trump, faux billionaire, a total fraud of a business man, con artist and vulgar misogynist with no ideas whatsoever, ignorant of everything but his own ego, went there.

Before the debate, he brought out, like the empty suit that he is, four women, including Paula Jones, who claim to have been victimized by Bill Clinton. It was yet another circus act by the 21st Century version of P.T. Barnum, another way to victimize himself in this “rigged” election. True to Harvey Logan’s quote, in his world, there are no rules.

So, he went there.

We always knew it was going to come down to this. Bill. Not Hillary or policy differences or personality. It was going to always be about William Jefferson Clinton, Forty-Second President of the United States. This is, and always was the plan against Mrs. HRC. When you alienate 60% of the country just by opening your trap about health care, abortion, minorities, religion, immigration and taxes, you have to have a fall-back position. In order to prevent a second Clinton Presidency, you have to dig up the first. It is the opening line of the final act of this endless campaign, by a campaign that will be lucky to get 40% of the vote.

That Bill Clinton was impeached because he got a blow-job from a 21-year-old woman (which had nothing to do with the Oath of Office or the duties of the Presidency) by a Republican Congress hell-bent on destroying him, but instead damaged themselves in the process. This Hail Mary attempt to revive the days of Ken Starr, Whitewater, Linda Tripp, the Professor and Mary-Ann will fail because Donald Trump is the most undeserving, undisciplined, uncouth, unworthy candidate in the history of this country, yet might end up with roughly the same electoral votes as Mitt Romney in 2012 because forty percent of this country can never vote for a Democrat because “freedom” and “guns.” Also, FOX News and Hate Radio.

The facts are that Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakota’s, Kansas, Idaho and Alaska, since 1964, have voted for the Republican nominee every election.  The last time a Democrat won a county in Oklahoma was in 1992. Texas last voted for a Democratic nominee in 1976. Conversely, every other state except Minnesota have flipped around since Nixon’s 1972 blow out of George McGovern.

The Republicans knew this was a disaster going in and now they’re running away as fast as they can.  John McCain, Condoleezza Rice, among a growing list, have un-endorsed Trump since Friday.  Even Paul Ryan has stopped defending him and told fellow GOP House members, per the Huffington Post, “on a conference call Monday that they “all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” according to someone on the call. Ryan said he wouldn’t campaign with Trump for the rest of the election, but added that he wouldn’t withdraw his endorsement of the GOP nominee.

“He made clear to members that his decisions are being driven by what is best for his members, not himself,” the source on the call said. “He is willing to endure political pressure to help protect our majority.”

Lovely, just lovely. So, in other words, jump ship, but make sure to remind everyone that we didn’t want him in the first place.

As has been pointed out since the “I can get away with being crude to women because I’m Donald Trump. And you’re not,” audio surfaced on Friday (which brings to mind Jack McCoy’s infamous line “What ‘Special Laws’ for rich people?”) it is too late to get Trump off the ticket and he has no intention of resigning. Good. I hope he stays on for the next 28 days and goes down in flames. This is the worst election in my memory, save maybe 1968, when Nixon tricked his way into office.

Hillary Clinton was never the target. It was always her husband and the revenge of 1998. But the GOP had best heed the words of Confucius (or James Bond, take your pick) “When plotting revenge, it’s best to dig two graves.”

For Your semi-amusement

September 29, 2016

Is it Trump or is it not?

“I was treated very not nice tonight, very badly in fact. Lester Holt, as I predicted, was terrible, a Democrat–I was very proud of myself for calling him a Democrat, even though he says he’s a Republican–he’s a Democrat, trust me, folks, even if he registers some other way. That’s why I say the election is rigged when that can happen. How many African Americans are all of sudden Republican? I mean, c’mon, I have one or two, but not many. The Democrats have brainwashed them into thinking things are good, Kumbaya, whatever–but they’re not good. It’s tough being black in the country. Very tough. Many, many people have told me that. Anyway, Lester kept asking questions about topics that, you know, I don’t know, what was the point? The president was born here, he wasn’t, I don’t care. Make America Great is the only thing on my mind–that’s why I made the hats that way. But notice how she called me ‘Donald’ and I called her ‘Madam Secretary’ or ‘Mrs. Clinton,’ even though I wonder what kind of marriage she has with her husband’s infidelities and other things we don’t know about, which I won’t share because I’m nice, a gentlemen. Anyway, I thought it was totally unfair tonight, totally, and I don’t know if you noticed–I mean, the cameras didn’t show it–but she was drinking water, too. She didn’t look well, I’m being very serious–pale and without color. So, I don’t know about the next debates. I’ll have to think about it before I agree to do them with her. There will have to be major changes if I do, major ones, like significant things that will make them fairer and treat me better–they’ll have to treat me better. I’ll need a guarantee. We’re in a mess in this country, folks, a mess and I don’t have to do this, running, though a lot of people are supporting me–many. A lot. I could make a lot of money–a lot, more than most of you–doing other things. What can she do?”

A measured response:

“What can she do?”

Oh lets see. Is it McAvoy or is it not?

“Run the country. Make sure our civil rights aren’t taken away. Undue “trickle-down,” and other policies that have put us in this mess. Ensure voting rights for everyone. Not make the world terrified of us. We’re not a ‘third-world country,’ Donald. But we treat 80% of our population like it. Since Roger Smith and Ronald Reagan came along, the word ‘Union’ has become a bad word. Ford isn’t shutting down plants to move to Mexico, not one job will be lost. I know, I live in Michigan. And you, yes, Millennials and Gen-X-ers. Yes, you. Who’s ruined Star Trek and Star Wars and still live in your parent’s basement, who wouldn’t know what Aleppo is, let alone Syria, except on your X-Box. You are the worst. Period. Generation. Period. And Donald Trump is the Worst. Candidate. In. The. History. Of. This. Great. Nation. Period. So, when you talk about Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, You’re just showing your ignorance.”

Now those were facetious statement put out by Barry Friedman, columnist at-large for The Tulsa Voice. The response, was done by the blog’s author, in the voice of “Will McAvoy” protrayed by Jeff Daniels on the HBO show, “The Newsroom.”

Now, here’s something from Evan Weiner, awarding winning writer who’s covered Donald Trump for 33 years:

“Here is my take on Trump. He IS a moron. I have dealt with him since 1983. I am of the opinion Fred paid to get him into Wharton. He did get out of Wharton but I am of the opinion whatever grades he got were paid for. He was doing okay until Mark Grossinger Etess was killed in that copter crash along with two other key Trump aides. Which begs the question. As a CEO, how in the hell do you put your three best aides in a helicopter together? As far as Ivana, she was smarter than him but the Plaza debacle, he blamed Ivana for mismanagement when he overpaid for a useless property. There are so many failures, the air shuttle, Alexanders, the USFL, Atlantic City. But what has always got me is that the smarter, richer guys in the USFL actually paid attention except for John Bassett who loaded with drugs to try to get over his cancer challenged him to a fight, it was a good thing Bassett kept his co-owner Burt Reynolds from carrying out John’s wish to punch Donald’s in the face. John was a smart, smart guy. He died right after threatening to rearrange Donald’s face. But my failing as a reporter back then was not finding out why the richer, smarter and more successful guy like Alfred Taubman, Billy Dunavant actually listened to him with the USFL. The real moneyed people have no use for him and dismiss him as an empty suit. I dealt with Taubman, Dunavant and should have asked, instead it was the late Harry Usher who ran the USFL after being really successful at the LA Olympics as the number 2 guy. Harry gave me an earful about Donald. I guess from my view, dealing with Trump with the USFL, with boxing, and as recently as eight years ago with ultimate fighting, I find him amusing, his love of borscht belt comics, but really stupid no matter what he says. Guess we kind of feel that way here in the New York media corp. At Charlie Osgood’s retirement party at the New York Press Club in January, we sat around comparing our Trump stories and how shallow Trump really is. I was once with Marla’s father Stan, they were lovely people actually, and Stan Maples just said to me out of the blue in that Georgia drawl, you know we are in over our heads here and my response to Stan, you certainly are Stan, you certainly are. By the way it was Fred Trump who put the finishing touches to destroying Coney Island tearing up the Steeplechase with scantily clad models taking axes to the ride.”

“And I am the Tsar of all the Russians.”

Rio, Chicago and Reality

August 4, 2016

The Olympics start Friday.  But this isn’t about the Games looming disaster-in-the-making, the venues that aren’t ready, the lack of security or the Zika outbreak. Of course, seven years ago, it was a different story.

Lets take a trip in the Wayback Machine, Sherman, to October 2009 and the International Organization of Criminals, er, I mean the International Olympic Committee’s awarding of the 2016 Games. The vote was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, with four cities bidding for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.

The field had been narrowed to four – Madrid, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Chicago – with Tokyo, Chicago and Rio the strongest of the three. Now, lets not kid ourselves here, the IOC is right up there with FIFA as far as transparency goes. The bidding process is more like an alternate universe, Spock-with-a-beard world where anything and everything, especially money, (as we found out with FIFA) goes.

Still, going into the last round of voting, hopes were high the bid would go to Chicago. After all, New York City had put in a strong bid for the 2012 Games, which went to London. In 2005, when the Games went to London, the New York delegation was disappointed but nobody blamed or mocked President Bush for failing to secure the Games.

Flash forward four years and the United States had a new President, Barack Obama, who was from Chicago. Or rather, his critics and skeptics asserted, lived in Chicago, where was he really from?  More on that in a bit.

The IOC, in its modern incarnation, resembles the mob more than an egalitarian sporting organization. Henry Hill and Michael Corleone would feel right at home in this world. The IOC is one of three entities which have “permanent observer” status at the United Nations. The other two are The Vatican and the Palestinian Authority. So, in a way, the IOC sees itself as a country. But a country without any boarders, rules or regulations (or taxes).

The bid cities each pay $500 million to submit their presentations. For the four cities bidding on this year’s games, that’s two billion dollars, tax free. The costs of these games were to be estimated at $700 million, the actual costs are much higher. The 2004 Athens games, which still are being paid off, is partially to blame for the Greek economic problems 12 years later. Venues are built and then never used again. Does the IOC reimburse these countries that host the Games? You must be joking!!! Much like FIFA, all revenues generated from the Olympics go to them. Montreal, which hosted the 1976 Games, finally paid their bills 30 years later.

So, in 2009, the stage was set for yet another “vote.” Except this was a star-laden affair with such luminaries as Pele and Oprah accompanying their delegations. Also, the newly-minted President Obama made an unprecedented appearance at the meeting, raising hopes that Chicago would prevail.

It didn’t. The Windy City was eliminated in the first round of balloting. Unlike four years earlier when New York lost, President Obama got skewered at home. Rush Limbaugh and Bill Kristol (of the Weekly Standard), among others, were over the moon about the perceived loss by the President.

LIMBAUGH: “For those of you on the other side of the aisle listening in who are upset that I sound gleeful — I am. I don’t deny it. I’m happy. Anything that gets in the way of Barack Obama accomplishing his domestic agenda is fine with me.”

OK Rush, we’re still waiting for you to move to Costa Rica.

And, the Weekly Standard had an equally magnanimous reaction: “Soon after news broke that the International Olympic Committee had rejected Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics, which President Obama had personally lobbied for, Weekly Standard blogger John McCormack published a celebratory post on the magazine’s blog, titled “Chicago Loses! Chicago Loses!.” McCormack wrote that “Cheers erupt at WEEKLY STANDARD world headquarters”

Others, like Lonesome Rhodes Glenn Beck and Fox News were cheering the fact that Obama had lost. But that wasn’t the reality. Of course, they never cared about reality much in terms of this President.

Here’s the reality: Chicago’s bid for the Summer Games lost because the IOC, as an institution, has a very long memory. They remember Atlanta in 1996, the half-done facilities, the logistical nightmare of trying to get into a city you can’t get into and the Olympic Park bombing. Plus, the revolving door at the head of the United States Olympic Committee. No one knew from one minute to the next who was in charge. Peter Ueberoth, credited with helping “save” the Olympics in 1984, was replaced in 2008. Had he been the head of the USOC instead of Larry Probst, Chicago might have won. The Europeans who run the show aren’t too fond of America and the last two defeats for both NYC and Chi-town prove that no matter who’s President, the IOC doesn’t want the Olympics here.

But, of course, never let the truth get in the way of a narrative.