Between a tax and a pothole

April 8, 2015

In less than a month, we in Michigan will be voting on a “proposal” to increase the sales tax by one percent to pay for our crumbling infrastructure.  I used the term parenthetically because Governor Snyder and the “lame-duck” Legislature couldn’t (or rather, wouldn’t) agree on a way to fix the roads so they punted and left it up to the voters to decide.

For the love of Jim Arnold, they screamed “Mayday!!!” So, on May 5th, much like the botched fake punt the Lions tried against the Saints all those years ago, Snyder and his tea-soaked, gerrymandered-to-the-teeth, beholden-to-the Big Three* and the 59-year-old-virgin, this proposal will be voted down.

“There is no Plan B,” Snyder has said.  Michigan has the worst roads in the Nation.  The state spends roughly $125 per mile on road repair, according to the Detroit Free Press. The latest poll numbers show it going down to defeat that would send a clear message to Lansing to stop signing pledges and kowtowing to the DeVos, Meijer and Dow families (aka the Big Three*) and start working for the people who voted you in (and even those who didn’t).

We have seen this bait and switch before.  In 1994, another Republican Governor got re-elected and we raised the sales tax two percent to pay for schools and road repairs.  In the 21 years since that happened, funding for public education has been cut to where many school districts use year-round substitute teachers to get around paying teachers a full-time wage.  That, plus the rise of homeschooling and Charter schools, have contributed to the loss of revenue.

Roads are a different matter altogether.  They are dangerous and in need of repair. There are several ways the state could do that without putting the burden on taxpayers. They could reinstate the property tax, which was frozen in a trade-off in ’94. The state’s Congressional delegation could (and should) ask for the Federal Government to approve parts of I-94, I-96 or I-75 for toll-road designation, which would raise money strictly for road repairs, just like in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. But they won’t. Michigan is near the bottom when it comes to tax dollars returned from Washington, so why should they start now?

There are so many other ways we could fix both the roads and schools without raising the sales tax.  The beer and alcohol tax hasn’t been raised in 50 years. Yes, you read that right. Fifty years. 1965. Sean Connery was (and always shall be) James Bond, the Beatles were the biggest band in the world, the Big Three were GM, Ford and Chrysler.  George Romney was the governor. Detroit was the 4th largest city in the country. Hudson’s was still downtown. Northland, due to close on Friday, was attracting visitors from all around the world. The Lions were, well, lets not go there. But you get my point.

Also, the tax on Tobacco and cigarettes hasn’t been touched for a while. And people will buy them no matter what the cost, so why not raise the tax on them.  All of these have been discussed, along with lowering the weight limit on long haul trucks, but nothing ever gets done.  Except screwing the poor, disabled, elderly and children.  I seem to think it’s time we in Michigan changed that.

I thought about voting yes on the proposal, because our wrong-headed Attorney General (who wants to be Governor in 2018) Bill Schuette, came out against it.  Well, for a while, I took the Groucho Marx stance and said “whatever he stands for, I’m against it,” but I sent in my absentee ballot marked “no.”

So, that’s where I stand on this.

Robbery with insolence

March 23, 2015

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax, Dr. Seuss.

I read that line this morning. In a different context, of course, but it does seem to fit the narrative of my life.

Oh for the day when the bullshit stops. For the day when getting older doesn’t mean another day surrounded by well-meaning, emotionally bankrupt nobodies who keep pumping bullshit like the local drunk at the end of the bar.

I have put up with shit for too long from people who say one thing, do another and then have a litany of excuses and the “check is in the mail,” lines at the ready.  I’m sorry to have intruded on your lives, people, but you asked me to have faith and that everything would work out in the end.

What “end” are you talking about? The one where I move 700 miles to get cheated out of a house? Ending up homeless and bankrupt in the process? The one where I get the “best friend and soul mate” line for the 200th time and then I get stuck with a ton of nothing? And how people backstab me and think I accept living my life with a broken heart? How about all those times people told me “I matter” to them, when, in truth, I’m just a conduit to getting better seats at the ballgame, or an attorney or some way to figure out of a mess that they won’t listen to in the first place.  I’m sorry, I’m not here to be used or abused like some runaway teenager.  Or some freak of nature in a wheelchair who happens to know how to put together a coherent thought or sentence once and a while.

I am tired of being devalued, of being seen as of lesser value because of my condition.  I am tired of folks telling me things 1000 times over, but nothing ever coming of it.  I am tired of being screwed with and left to deal with it. On my own. Whenever I have to clean up messes, I have to jump through so many hoops, it’s not funny. I am no one’s “best friend and soul mate,” nor do I matter to 95% of you. The number of people I matter to I can count on one fucking hand, maybe half of the other. I have spent most of my life longing for things that I will never attain and I never had a chance to in the first place.  If that makes me bitter, so be it.  I have every right to be.

You think you know me? You don’t. Nobody knows anyone.

I’m not looking for sympathy. Or validation.  Or anything else, for that matter.  I need to vent, rant, say what’s on my mind, that’s all.  And yes, this is aimed at certain people, but I don’t give a rat’s ass what they think.

“Well my door was standing open,
security was laid-back and lax.
It was only my heart that got broken,
you must of had a pass-key made out of wax.

You played robbery with insolence
and I played the blues
in twelve bars down on Lovers Lane.
And you never had the intelligence
to us the 12 keys hanging off of my chain.”

“Your Latest Trick” Dire Straits, 1986.


For a Friend

January 30, 2015

It is the middle of winter. Near midnight, the TV is on with the sound off.  In my younger days, I would be watching Carson or a movie, but now, fifteen years, 29 days into the 21st Century, my phone starts buzzing with emails and I have to open up my computer to respond.

Within a few minutes, I am aware that someone has died suddenly.  Then I find out who. A friend of mine’s husband. Good man. Cause unknown as I write this.

Death comes at its’ own pace. It is not like a birth, when it is celebrated and anticipated. It comes quickly in the form of a heart attack or stroke or Sepsis (“like an atomic bomb going off inside you,” a friend of mine told me after his wife died from it). Sometimes, it can be violent, like an accident or crime.  Other times, it comes slowly, like with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, or its’ devilish cousin, dementia.  Cancer can come and go as it pleases, but death is always the end result.  We’re all going to die of something, we just don’t know when.

This was not an old man, this man was middle aged, good-looking-with a full head of hair and a great smile.  He will never get to see his son graduate from Notre Dame in May, never get to see him get married or know his grandchilden. Never get to see his step-son, who regarded him as his dad, become a fireman or paramedic.  He will never get to grow old gracefully with his wife, whom he loved more than anything or anyone in the world.

He saved his wife, saved her at just the right time as she was coming out of a nasty divorce and abusive marriage.  He was her knight in shinning armor, protecting her from the onslaught of words and court battles, always at her side.  I only met him once, but he seemed very much at home, knowing who he was and his place in the order of things.  I knew his wife a lot better, like forever.  We went to school together, survived the 80’s, drifted apart in the 90’s and found each other again through the “magic” of the internet and Zuckerbreg’s revenge site, Facebook.  It doesn’t seem fair that only the good people die before the assholes, but it does tend to be that way.

I have heard from people who saw my post on Facebook and emailed or called me to find out what I knew.  Everytime I would try to break away from my desk or phone, there’d be another call, email or text asking me what I knew. Which at the end of the day, wasn’t much, but I gave them enough.

Now, he is on the “other” side. It is said that death brings people closer.  I think it some cases, it does.  But most times, it leaves a void. A void that can never be filled.  It has been a busy day, for sure, but at the end of a crazy day, we must remember that we are on this planet for a short time and death reminds us, the living, to keep on living the best we can with what we have.

This man saved a life. My friend’s life. She will live in that void, go through the five stages and hopefully find some peace with it. All her friends like me can do is be there for her when she yells “help.”

We are all human. Everyone of us will complete the circle of life. We are all mortal (except for Keith Richards) and some of us will die suddenly, some will die gradually, others will be a slow, slow sunset into that good night.

“And when I die, when I’m gone,
They’ll be one child born to carry on,
to carry on, yeah.”


Looking forward

January 4, 2015

10388114_10152482262494104_8607043811254702557_n2014, the year I did a lot without leaving home. And good riddance.

I did go to Canada twice to see my dad, who’s now entering year five of nursing home care.  He will be 80 on the 21st.  I did get up to Marysville, Michigan for a Christmas celebration with my family and got to see my seven-great-niece’s and nephew’s.  I made it to three Tiger games and a Lions game.  I brought a new hearing aid. Watched the World Cup.

I changed my email.  I got into meaningless fights with people whom I should know better than to not engage with.  I reconnected with people I hadn’t seen since high school. I un-connected from many with whom I never mattered.  I went another year without a relationship – which is fine by me.

I spent the better part of the first two months of the year trapped inside my own house because of the coldest winter I have ever experienced.  Even spending seven years at boarding school in North Dakota, I don’t recall a winter so brutal as last year’s.  I survived, barely.

People continue to surprise me, disappoint me and every other emotion you can think of in between.  I tried to help people and I got maligned for it.  I gave money to charity, helped out where I could. Provided people with information, got no thanks or acknowledgement.

It was a year where I was lied to, mocked and laughed at.  I changed my email,  tried to steer clear of toxic people and their crap.  I railed against the system, to no avail. Tell me, anyone who reads this, what is being done in my name?

I am still alone. I miss my friends, I miss my family.  I miss having the daily contact I had with people, not so long ago.  I miss going to movies, I miss seeing my favorite waitress.

But that was last year.  This year, I am looking forward to many interesting things and good stuff happening for me.  I have dumped Comcast.  And my land-line phone.  I will resume playing table tennis after a self-imposed year off.  I will go to a tournament.

I will try and get to see my dad more than twice.

I appreciate my life and my good health and know that in can change in a New York Minute.

I will try and eat better.

I will still be cynical, yet hopeful.

I will continue to tell my story.

I will hopefully be here in a year to continue to write, entertain and inform.

The Audacity of No

November 21, 2014

The last five years, 10 months and one day, in a nutshell. From my friend, low-life attorney, high priced bookie (or maybe the other way around) Jeff Friedman.  It totally encapsulates the visceral disrespect and hatred of President Obama. Because, well, they can’t really put a finger on it, but it has something to do with the melanin in his skin tone.

“You could see violence,” [Sen. Tom] Coburn continued. “This is a big step, to not work with Congress, now that he’s got a new Congress, to go completely around it.”
Really? Is it a bigger step for a president to not work with Congress than it has been for 53 Senators and roughly 235 Representatives to refuse to work with the President of the United States for the last six years?
Forget about everything else: Just the unmitigated gall of Republican Congressmen, in and of itself, should disqualify them from being taken seriously by anyone with an IQ that’s visible to the naked eye.
Is the party of voter suppression, the unprecedented misuse of the filibuster, and nonstop lying to the public actually accusing someone else of “lawlessness”?
I haven’t been able to watch MSNBC or follow politics at all since November 4th. I don’t know what has sickened me more: the dishonesty of the GOP or the gutlessness and wishy washiness of Democrats.
But I can’t stay silent any longer. Those pea-brained Morlocks are now suggesting that the President of the United States should be subject to a jail sentence for the heinous offense of refusing to break up families by deporting innocent people who have made incalculable contributions to our society??
Speaking of jail, what’s going on with the investigations of Chris Christy, “Yosemite Rick” Perry, Nikki Haley, and the worst of the worst: Scott Walker?
Each and every one of them is a REAL criminal and should be subject to extended periods of incarceration for having committed numerous crimes against the people of their respective states.
But no one ever talks about those felons in waiting. However, the “pro-family values” party is now arguing that the President of the United States should be prosecuted for trying his best to keep millions of innocent families together???
So how do brave, courageous Democrats respond? They decline to bring the President’s Attorney General nominee to the floor for a confirmation vote before the Goons take Congress and instead spend their time and energy on trying to pass the Keystone Pipeline because of a misguided fantasy that passage might help Mary Landrieu retain her senate seat, which it won’t.
Keystone Pipeline? They should call it the Keystone Pipe Dream.
Besides, the latest projections have Sen. Landrieu losing to her Republican opponent by 21 points, and, hell, even Captain Kirk knew that Landrieu was a “projection.”

THE most important thing that ANY president does is his or her appointments of judges and justices. Certainly, the last 14 years have eliminated any possible remaining doubt that judges do whatever the hell they want; the law is whatever they say it is. You can predict the outcome of 90% of appellate lawsuits by merely knowing who the judges are.
The best example was provided by Vince Bugliosi in “The Betrayal of America”:
How many of you believe that the five right wing Supreme Court justices would have stepped in and halted the Florida recount and used the Equal Protection Clause as their theoretical basis to permanently end the recount if Al Gore had been slightly ahead of W. at the time?
I bring this up because, when January rolls around, the new Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee will be Chuck Grassley, one of the most virulent opponents of the appointments of moderate, much less liberal, judges and justices of any of the crop of senators who are set to take control of the upper chamber in less than two months.
Grassley is SO extreme that he was actively urging other senators to ELIMINATE three open seats from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals just so Obama wouldn’t be able to fulfill his constitutional duty of replacing the previous occupiers of those seats.
{To show how malicious, as well as stupid, Grassley is, if he would have gotten his way and eliminated the three vacant seats, the number of judges on that court would have been reduced from 11 to eight, and, last I looked, an even number of judges is somewhat more likely to wind up evenly divided and, therefore, unable to reach a decision by majority vote than an odd number of judges is.]
But Republicans don’t care about trifling details like that just like they have consistently refused to: (1) extend ANY unemployment insurance benefits; (2) raise ANY taxes on the Top 1%; (3) enact ANY increase in the minimum wage; (4) agree to ANY half way reasonable immigration reform bill; (5) pass ANY reasonable gun safety legislation, etc., they have made it clear that they will oppose ANY person that Obama nominates to a judgeship (unless the nominee’s philosophy is somewhere between Clarence the Silent and the late Robert Bork.
Bottom Line: You better get busy, Harry Reid, because, come January, this president will be unable to appoint a single judge or justice to the federal courts.
You see, everyone who has adopted the theory that the entire mess we’re living through is the result of right wing hatred of Barack Obama is grossly mistaken.


What is it all about then?
It’s about dishonest, Machiavellian Republicans deciding some time ago that they are going to force this country to be transformed into a far right wish list comprised exclusively of right wing laws administered by right wing appointees.
So when a Democrat is president, Republicans will block everything he or she tries to do that even smacks of moderation, much less liberalism.
Conversely, when a Republican next occupies the White House (and for anyone who doubts that this scenario is a possibility, I have two words for you: Joni Ernst), the game plan will NOT be to enact conservative legislation and appoint conservative judges to the federal bench. It will be to enact extreme right wing legislation and appoint extreme right wing judges and justices.
In other words, exactly what George W. Bush did.
The Founding Father devised a brilliant scheme by which, no matter how extreme one party was when it controlled our government, their fanaticism would be neutralized when the other party took over.
But that concept doesn’t work when Party A obstructs everything that Party B tries to do when it is in power so that, when Party A regains power, they can pick up where they left off the last time they were in control so they can continue to move this country farther and farther to their side of the spectrum until “middle of the road” becomes regarded as “extremism” on the part of Party B.
With all due respect to the Founders, it is easy to understand why they never envisioned that the system their genius created would be as warped and distorted as it has steadily become since 1980.
They might have suspected that one party might some day become as power mad, as dishonest, and as capable of fooling an ignorant, disinterested, cerebraly challenged electorate as the GOP has become.
But they could never have imagined in their wildest nightmares that the opposing party would deteriorate into the spineless group of frightened rabbits that the Democrats have become?”

The prion disease that has infected the far-right since 1980 (really, since 1964) has run full boar since Barack Obama became President.  When you have an entire industry set out to destroy this man simply because they don’t like his name or his skin color or the fact that he won an election and then re-election in convincing fashion both times, and yet everything he has tried to do or accomplish on behalf of the American People has been blocked or filibustered or shot down just to ruin this country or make him look weak, bad or stupid (which he’s not, on any of those accounts), is simply outrageous.

The crazy has become so outrageous that the old bat herself, Phyllis Schlafly, came out of her shoe and said the President’s actions last night were akin to the start of the Civil War:

“Schlafly at first considered comparing the Obama amnesty to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but decided that Obama’s plan is much more subtle.  “With Pearl Harbor, the American people knew what was happening,” she said.

But Fort Sumter, where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired, represented the beginning of a ruinous conflict, and Schlafly, like fellow conservative luminary Richard Viguerie, speculates that an executive amnesty might touch off a sort of modern-day conflagration.”

This, is of course, beyond the pale, even for a 175-year-old Witch.  But when you have AM radio playing nothing but Rush, Beck, Hannity and the lessers like Michael Weiner and Dennis Miller, you have room for very little else in the tiny faction of grey matter that this well-organized opposition to this man that they hate, then all reason, logic and facts are unpossible.  Like the fact that this (executive action on immigration) was done by their personal lord and savior, Ronald Reagan, in 1986.  Or that the Affordable Care Act was written by Republicans, ran on by Bob Dole in 1996 and Willard Romney first used its template in Massachusetts in 2006, it’s still Obamacare and “socialism.” Which is bull and shit to the nth degree (and they know it).

To wrap this up, do I expect the new Congress to work with this President?  No. They are there for two things and two things only: To impeach and impede Hilary Clinton from winning in 2016.  From the looks of it, they are well on their way to achieving at least one of those goals.

Love Stinks (Part 1)

November 18, 2014


The above picture is a photo of Peter Wolf, he of the famous J. Geils Band and a personal friend of mine and local legend, Martin “Tino” Gross, front-man, funky daddy (and grandpa now, boy Carol Ilku and I had him pegged 25 years ago) and musical genius who fronts the even more local legendary band the Howling Diablos.

But this isn’t about my love for him, or Geils or Mr. Wolf.  This is about love and loss, something both bands cover very well.  And I know a lot about.  Loving and losing, that is.

A little history here first, back in the 70’s, long before MTV (and Adam Ant, Billy Idol, Duran Duran, the Go-Go’s and Madonna), J. Geils was working the road 320 days a year.  Not unlike James Brown, or Bob Seger, they played everywhere, including the long-gone Cinderella Ballroom here in Detroit that produced “Full House Live,” which is one of the top five “live” records you should have in your collection.  They were loved here in Detroit before “Centerfold” made them famous.

One of their pre-MTV songs was a little song called “Love Stinks.” It was written by Wolf about his breakup with the actress Faye Dunaway.  Well, as we (most) know, love does stink sometimes.

It was about 20 years ago when I first heard the term “Best friend and soul mate.” It was said to me by a woman who a) had no business telling me that, and b) wouldn’t know a friend or a “soul mate,” if they walked up to her and explained it to her.  Her name is unimportant, but it set a pattern for me over then next 10 years would come to define me and ultimately break my spirit when it came to matters of the heart.

She was young and could talk a good game. I recall the one time she said “I love you,” it sent a chill down my spine that made me realize that I was being used.  It turns out she was lying about everything, how she was getting a divorce, how she was going to school, where she was living.  It was all a big lie to achieve what, I have no idea, but she was a wily one.  One night, she came over and threw a bunch of clothes in the laundry, I went to get them out and lo, and behold, was her husband’s clothes.  I threw them back in the dryer and went back to my apartment and asked her about it. She said it must have got mixed up when she brought over her stuff.  I told her to leave when the stuff was out of the dryer.  She did.

So much for that, right? Wrong. She somehow gave out my phone card to a few of her husband’s friends who then proceeded to run up my bill to an amount that even the Koch Brothers wouldn’t pay. Then she told me that she wasn’t getting divorced, had dropped out of school and was going to have a baby with her husband.  That is always the end game, getting what she wanted the way she wanted it.

Little did I know that pattern would repeat itself twice in the decade that followed, each time inflicting more and more pain, hurt and resentment on me that only allows itself to continue to this day.

Whenever I hear that term, “Best friend and soul mate,” I cringe.

As J. Geils so aptly put it…

56 Sideways

October 15, 2014

Today is my birthday. I’m 34. For the 22nd time. Not exactly Jack Benny, but I never was a comedian.

Life is ok. Could be better, could be worse. For someone who barely survived my first 56 days, it should be a bit more joyous. But it’s tempered by real life.

At 56, I am in good health overall.

At 56, I am “settled.” Whatever that means.

At 56, I am loved. But not the way I want to be.

At 56, my disability is static. Has been for a long time.

At 56, my story is far from over, but there are chapters that I will never revisit.

At 56, I am still running against the wind, but it’s harder than ever to do that.

At 56, my heart is still broken.

At 56, I am still a cynic.

At 56, I still believe in myself.

At 56, I still have hope. (only to be mocked by Sarah Palin)

At 56, I still feel lucky.

At 56, I don’t care what others think about me.

At 56, friends I had at 20, most are long out of my life.

At 56, I still have my wits and wit.

At 56, I am grateful.

At 56, I am angry.

At 56, I’m still here.

The genesis for the title is taken from the “Up” series of British documentary films started in 1964. It is based on the Jesuits tenant “Show me the child at seven and I’ll show you the man.” They started at age 7 and keep going. Their last installment was last year. I have seen most of them. The people have grown up, gotten married, divorced, re-married, moved, traveled, sworn off drugs, booze and sex. They have even sworn off participating in the series. But every seven years, they come back. Like moths to the flame.

Which brings this Detroiter to the man:

Robin, Richard and the Fates

August 18, 2014

This was originally going to be written 10 days ago, to commemorate history’s yard waste, but that never happened. (oh, I’ll get to Milhouse, have no fear) Enough has been written about him to make David McCollough jealous. His mere presence, from his ascendancy to fall, has put the Republican Party a Khan-like single-mindedness hell-bent on destroying whoever or whatever they feel like, including themselves, to get revenge. But more on that later.

I was going to write about all that, even last week, but then Robin died. Which in a strange way, ties in with Nixon. Back in 1970, Robert Altman made the most subversive anti-war movie about a war that showed the comedy and pathos and futility of war and life. The movie, M*A*S*H, was set a generation before it, in Korea, except (most) all references to Korea were taken out. Making it the perfect anti-war movie for the war in Vietnam. It made stars out of Donald Southerland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skeritt, Robert Duval, Sally Kellerman and featured the most hilarious football game in cinematic history. But the subplot was the horrors of war and the destruction it brings, both on an emotional and physical scale.

The Unit’s dentist, unable to consummate with a nurse, decides that suicide is the only way out. Played brilliantly by John Schuck, he is both wise and foolish at the same time. In the movie’s most macabre and poignant scene, Schuck’s character, fearful that he might be a homosexual because of his malfunction with a visiting nurse, asks advice on a reliable method. Hawkeye, Trapper and Duke suggest that he use the “black capsule”, a fictitious fast-acting poison. At a farewell banquet that satirizes The Last Supper, Walt takes the capsule (actually a sleeping pill) and falls asleep in a coffin. Hawkeye persuades Lt. Maria Schneider to spend the night with Walt and cure him of his “problem.”

The song used at the beginning of the movie alludes to this subplot. It was written and preformed by Johnny Mandell.

Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see…
That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.
I try to find a way to make
All our little joys relate
Without that ever-present hate
But now I know that it’s too late, and…
The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
So this is all I have to say.
The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
And to another give my seat
For that’s the only painless feat.
The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger…watch it grin, but…
A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
And I replied ‘oh why ask me?’
‘Cause suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.
…and you can do the same thing if you please.

Which, in a roundabout way, brings us back to both Robin and History’s yard waste. Robin Williams suicide and the reason’s behind it will remain a mystery even to those closest to him. He was an introvert who made us laugh and much like his hero, Jonathon Winters, struggled with depression most of his adult life. I personally think most adults are depressed at some level if you dig deep enough.

There was a movie of his that I had never seen before until yesterday called “World’s Greatest Dad”. It is a story of a father of a lonely teenager who dies while masturbating. Williams makes it look like a suicide and writes a fake suicide note and subsequent book about his son, supposedly taken from his journal. The book becomes a best-seller and Williams is a celebrity, gets the girl of his dreams (sort of) and appears on an Oprah-esque TV show to talk about the book and has offers to make a movie from the book.

His moment of clarity comes at the end of the movie, when he confesses as the school’s library was to be named in his son’s honor. After his faux-girlfriend dumps him and his students abandon him, he runs out of the room and down the hall, stripping himself naked as he runs to the school’s natatorium and jumps off the seven-meter board into the pool. His voice over is heard to say this:

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”

In that way, Nixon was alone too. He never trusted anyone, not even his staff. It was his greatest failing as a President and a man. I was 15 when he resigned from office, a mere teenager finding my way in a world that i’m still trying to figure out 40 years later.

There was one good thing that came out of that summer. ABC had a summer replacement show called “Happy Days,” which starred Ron Howard, Henry Winkler and Tom Bosley. It was the summer’s biggest hit, so much so that it was brought back as a permanent show in January, 1975. Three years later, the show introduced us to a far-out character named “Mork” an alien who landed in Milwaukee and took on the Fonz. He appeared on two episodes and were the two highest rated shows of the season. The actor who played this alien? Robin Williams. Garry Marshall, the producer, saw gold in that character and the rest is history. Good history. So, Nixon, a relic of the past, inadvertently gave us a show set in the past but gave us someone so unique and transcendent not even his sudden death will diminish his accomplishments.

In the meantime, Nixon, along with Hoover, keep digging deep in the ninth level. Nixon, I’m sure, keeps asking “If we keep digging, will we get to China?” No, Dick, you’re just making room for Cheney, Bush and the rest of them.

Oh, the eternal question: Whatever happened to Chuck Cunningham?

The Sum of Our Decsions

August 1, 2014

Yesterday, for the first time in history, Congress sued the President of the United States.

Take in those words carefully. Congress sued the President. Of the United States. Of America.

This is what happens when you have half the country freaked out about a man, dutifully elected twice by very comfortable margins both times (which can’t be said about the guy before him) in both the popular and electoral vote.

This is what happens when you have a President who takes an idea generated by conservatives and passes it into law and then said conservatives start calling it Obamacare. And screaming about “Death Panel’s” and “socialized medicine.”

This is what happens when one side blocks everything this President tries to accomplish. When the world is turned upside down and they start questioning where he was born and the anti-colonial views of his father and grandfather. (Just for the record, Kenya in 1961, was still a British colony)

This is what happens when those who are opposed to the 44th President of the United States compare him to Hitler and Stalin and start calling him a “dictator” or a “tyrant.”

This is what happens when 22% of voters in 2010 vote in the worst Congress in the history of the Republic and then state their number one priority is to make this President a one-term President.

This is what happens when you have a TV “network” devoted entirely to promoting one side of the narrative and cheers when a Democratic member of Congress is shot in 2011.

This is what happens when you allow hate and disrespect in the guise of “free speech.”

This is what happens when you have a son of privilege and wealth, who implemented the same health care system while Governor of Massachusetts, run away from that singular accomplishment while running against this President in 2012.

This is what happens when you have a rigged electoral system whereas Democratic candidates for Congress received almost five million more votes in 2012, but due to gerrymandering following the harry knipshit fit the 22% threw in 2010, the House stayed in Republican control.

This is what happens when the Affordable Care Act is upheld by the Supreme Court, but states are given a choice to opt-out. This is what happens when Congress has a temper tantrum and shuts down the Government over said law being upheld and voting to overturn it 50-plus times.

This is what happens when, over the course of 40 years, our liberties have been slowly eroded, when a college drop-out and failed public relations gofer for the Kansas City Royals becomes a voice for conservative America and a dullard of a man is elected President and begins the attack on unions and poor people by demonizing them as “welfare queens,” or Medicaid abusers.”

This is what happens when we impeached a President over a sexual act (which has nothing to do with “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”) and had a Supreme Court stop a recount of an election, appointing a man ill-prepared for the office.

This what what happens when, in 2008, in a desperate attempt to change the game, the nominee of the Republican Party picks a woman who was never vetted properly or could keep her story straight. Yet today, she is calling for the impeachment of the President. Along with several others.

This is what happens when members of Congress call the President a “tar baby,” scream out “you lie” while giving a speech before a joint session of Congress and who question his legitimacy. Where he is called a coward and a disciple of Saul Alinsky, (who either fixed the 1919 World Series or co-wrote “Do the Loco-Motion”) and Bill Ayres, a 60’s radical who’s now retired from the University of Chicago.

This is what happens when the Speaker of The House proclaims to judge us not by the laws we pass, but how many we stop. In the meantime, our infrastructure is crumbling and nothing gets done.

This is the sum of our decisions. When will we ever make the correct ones?

Celebrating Something

July 6, 2014

A collection of quotes about America at 238:

We start out with the original:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” – Thomas Jefferson, et. al. July 4, 1776.

And perhaps the greatest rebuke of that, some 180 years later:

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” Martin Luther King, August 29, 1963.

And this, from a fictional News Anchor:

” And yeah, you… sorority girl. Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is: There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about! Yosemite?
Will McAvoy: [pause] We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons, we passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
Will McAvoy: [to moderator] Enough?  – Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom,” HBO.

Another quote, from another fictional character:

For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I’ve been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character. For the record: yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. But the more important question is why aren’t you, Bob? Now, this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question: Why would a senator, his party’s most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution? If you can answer that question, folks, then you’re smarter than I am, because I didn’t understand it until a few hours ago. America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”. I’ve known Bob Rumson for years, and I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Bob’s problem is that he can’t sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character. And wave an old photo of the President’s girlfriend and you scream about patriotism and you tell them, she’s to blame for their lot in life, and you go on television and you call her a whore. Sydney Ellen Wade has done nothing to you, Bob. She has done nothing but put herself through school, represent the interests of public school teachers, and lobby for the safety of our natural resources. You want a character debate, Bob? You better stick with me, ’cause Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league.


I’ve loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer, and I lost the other ’cause I was so busy keeping my job I forgot to do my job. Well, that ends right now. Tomorrow morning, the White House is sending a bill to Congress for its consideration. It’s White House Resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a 20 percent reduction of the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming. The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today, it no longer exists. I’m throwing it out. I’m throwing it out writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door to door if I have to, but I’m gonna convince Americans that I’m right, and I’m gonna get the guns. We’ve got serious problems, and we need serious people, and if you want to talk about character, Bob, you’d better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I’ll show up. This is a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I *am* the President.” Michael Douglas, “The American President, 1995.

Now, for some real people, including me…

“238 years later, that document and the one written 12 years later, both are fraying at the edges. I have an ancestor who has his name on that Declaration and he, along with Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Hancock, would be appalled at the bastardization of their words. Our favorite craft company took out full-page ads in most major newspapers today, extolling the words of the Founders. Actually it was more like distorting.

I’m sure the Sovereign Citizens, (aren’t we all “sovereign” to this nation?) Tea Party and the “real” people behind the scenes are crowing about this, but I think their time is just about up. For those who scream about wanting “their” country back are increasingly becoming more aware that narrative won’t work as long as those in the course of human events see these people as nothing more than armchair patriots who purport to love a country that sees right through their righteous indignation for nothing more than a knee-jerk, childish reaction to the continual evolution and changes they don’t like. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “the arc of history is long and bends invariably towards justice.” But, as we have seen, justice takes some disconcerting twists and turns, none more since December of 2000 and culminating with the decisions made by the five men cabal masquerading as Supreme Court Justices.

The pursuit still continues. No one said it would be easy and we are still trying to get a “more perfect Union.” We have come to this crossroads and neither way looks smooth, but if we don’t try, surely we will become a new version of Yugoslavia.” July 4th, 2014, The Esquire Blog, with Charles P. Pierce.

“True patriotism isn’t simply about securing our borders from outsiders. It’s about coming together for the common good. True patriotism requires taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going, not finding tax loopholes and squirreling money abroad. It’s about preserving and protecting our democracy, not inundating it with big money or paralyzing it with partisanship. True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of it. Generations of Americans have risked their lives to preserve it. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry when special interests gain too much power over it. But true patriots work to improve the government, not destroy it. And they don’t pander to divisiveness; they don’t fuel racist or religious or ethnic divides; they aren’t homophobic or sexist. To the contrary: True patriots seek to confirm and strengthen the “we” in “we the people of the United States.” – Robert Reich, former Treasury Secretary under President Clinton, July 4, 2014. (Thanks Linda Andress for posting this)

” We live in a time in America where an entire political party – a whole political movement – believes that “freedom” is for those who can afford it but have the freedom to not pay a fair tax on their income or wealth. But that same movement does not think the same kind of freedom is for those who are poor or hungry or sick or old or infirm or without a job.

They believe freedom is for those who walk down the street with a loaded gun but not for those who walk down the street armed only with a bag of candy.

They believe that freedom is for those who demand all war all the time but not for those who shout “Enough!” because we have no right to march around the world imposing our will on the unwilling.

They believe that freedom is for those who have a “traditional” family and attend the correct church but not for those who want to spend their life with someone who has all of the same sexy parts, or who not only do not attend the correct church but don’t attend any house of worship because they can’t accept the notion of relying on an imaginary friend in the sky.

They have distorted and perverted the meaning of freedom, using it because they want to exclude many rather than include all. Until that changes, none of us will be free and nothing will really be self-evident.” Charley James, The Politics Blog, Esquire, July 4, 2014.

And last, but not least, the sage of the Plains, Barry Friedman, with the last words on this:

“There is a narrative problem in this country, especially on holidays such as this. Those on the Right see a country unrecognizable to the rest of us; it celebrates a memory, a hyperbole really. To them, the United States is full of tough, gruff men in boots and well-behaved women with retarded libidos–the men screaming about freedom, the women nodding reassuringly. The Right doesn’t acknowledge a government that built roads and schools and lifted a generation of seniors out of poverty and prevented little children from dying from mad cow disease at Steak and Shake because some bureaucrat found bad meat. The Right defines itself (and its schema for America) by Allen West, not Alan Grayson; Sarah Palin, not Sarah Silverman. All religions are welcome, they will tell you (well, maybe not all), but all except Christians are guests and should stay off the good furniture and not make a fuss if there’s a manger at City Hall. They talk of American greatness and freedom and vision and offer up Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A and guns and fat ranchers and Gadsden flags. Ben Carson, a black man, is invited to speak at their conventions, so why are we still bitching about equality?

All is good. Move on.

To win the future–hell, to have one–we not only have to beat back the worst instincts of those yelping incessantly in bumper-sticker sophistication that we are increasingly told to be proud of–entitled racism, sexism, elitism, jingoism, religious certainty–we also have to take back the story and the country we remember.” – July 4, 2014.




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