Saturday, November 27, 2010

Strictly Personal

As I’ve already mentioned, I have a web site, “The Best of Home Cooking,” music for which I take complete credit or blame. It was arranged, performed, recorded and mixed by me.

To hear it, and download it if you like…… just click the address below, click “enter” and click “forward to free CD” and it’s all there for better or worse.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Odds Bodkins

Has anyone noticed that many of the people most vocal about lax security last Christmas when the “Underwear Bomber” made his debut are now the loudest voices complaining of invasion of privacy in recent airport security innovations?

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For years Jack Benny fans have been misquoting his famous radio reaction to a thief’s demand, “your money or your life.”  After a pregnant pause they have him responding “I’m thinking. I’m thinking.” That’s one “I’m thinking” too many.

The same sort of thing has happened with FDR’s “I welcome the hatred of the money changers.” Like Benny he has been over quoted. On the internet audio transcription from his 1936 inauguration there is no mention of money changers although he did welcome the hatred of folks who, by his description, fit the part.

But the audio of this speech offers something that I’d never heard, that in my opinion is worth shouting from the rooftops. “We know now how government by organized money is as dangerous as government by organized mobs.”  

With some help from the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, both the people recently elected to the House of Representatives and many of those who helped elect them now pass muster on both counts. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Many of us are now passing judgment on Barack Obama’s presidency. I admit to being one of them. But maybe we should back off a little before rendering what may be a premature verdict. It’s worth considering that the biggest problem facing him at inauguration was “the Great Recession.” (This happens to be the title of a letter I wrote months before the phrase became part of our vernacular. It was written in reaction to a silly TV debate over whether we were then even in a common garden variety recession.)

The Great Recession is to a lesser degree, at this point at least, similar to what FDR faced on March 4, 1933. As our first president of color Obama has the handicap of being constrained from the sort of invective used by a president of patrician Dutch heritage who said of “money changers” that “I welcome their hatred”  

But well beyond that, Obama has been the victim of less fortuitous timing. FDR was elected in 1932, three years after “Black Thursday” which heralded what became publicly accepted as Hoover’s depression. It took him seven years and a World War to bring about recovery.  

Obama was elected and inaugurated two and four months respectively after the first public knowledge of a financial disaster that was every bit as much George Bush’s as the Great Depression was Hoover’s. But because it has now consumed nearly two years of his presidency, his opponents have been able to spin it to their advantage to a gullible and sizable segment of the electorate.

We are being told by pundits that our problem now is jobs, more specifically the absence of them, AKA unemployment. No kidding! What do they think was the issue in the 1930s? Health care wasn’t of much concern then and there was clearly no need to mention Wall Street reform. The fear that FDR told us not to fear, reduced to essentials, was fear of unemployment.  

At this point Barack Obama is considered by many a failure for his inability to accomplish in two years something that took FDR, generally considered one of our greatest presidents, seven. Go figure.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010


At the moment, the Keith Olbermann saga seems to have come to a happy ending. On his first show back he was anything but contrite and said the conditions to which MSNBC had been holding him were illegal and not in his contract. Please note the italics. Legal matters of this importance are often unpredictable and prolonged, requiring more than just a second opinion. On the other hand I assume his contract was properly signed on paper. I hope the story ends here. If this were to be the start of an “nuclear war” between the entire MSNBC staff and General Electric we know how it would end, with Keith Olbermann on a GE toaster.

There’s more to this matter than the specifics. Something is wrong with the way we are being informed these days and that “something” has just taken place before our very eyes. One citizen makes small legal contributions to three Congressional candidates and at least gets publicly slapped on the wrist by his bosses. A rival network has been featuring commentators taking collections for candidates on the air.
A recent exchange between Bill O’Reilly and his host, Bill Maher, says a lot.* Maher referred to wildly exaggerated stories about the expense of the presidential trip to India to which both men agreed, in O’Reilly’s words, was “bull.” The ensuing dialogue went like this.  O’Reilly: (as to how this became news on Fox) “It came from a guy in India, picked up by the Drudge Report and then disseminated by several other people. Our hard news didn’t do it. Who?... {did it}” Maher; “Sean Hannity’” O’Reilly; “Look, Seanny’s a talk radio guy he’s not…” Maher: “then he’s presenting it as a fact. It’s his opinion (emphasis mine) that it’s $200 million {a day}…” O’Reilly: “There’s a difference between opinion people and hard news people.”

OK. So “opinion guys,” as O’Reilly later referred to himself, you have license to present what you choose as news, even fiction if it sells, because you’re not doing “hard news.” Pardon my cynicism, but doesn’t that license by itself detract from the integrity of your conclusions just a little bit?

O’Reilly and Maher are not spokesmen for the Fox network and MSNBC. But if one accepts them as stand ins for these two purveyors of what passes as news, it’s easy to pick the winner.

*This interview from Nov. 12 can be viewed on the internet for those so inclined. I see it as great comedy from two perspectives. One has O’Reilly as the straight man for Maher’s one liners. In the other Maher is the straight man to O’Reilly’s version of Stephen Colbert.

Monday, November 8, 2010


The following was written last night to b sent today. This morning I learned that Olbermann’s suspension has been limited to two nights on air, which is fine by me. In the belief that the original letter makes a bit of sense I’ve decided to send it anyway

One of the major political news items in the few days since the election is the indefinite suspension of Keith Olbermann by MSNBC. The propriety of the policy of the parent company aside, my understanding is that this is a clear case of his violating a rule of which he had to have been aware. His verboten contributions of $2,400 to three candidates for Congress may be legally permissible and small change at that. But a rule is a rule. 

Potential ramifications go well beyond these basics. One, which I consider positive, is the contrast that anyone paying attention can see, between corporate ethical standards at Fox and MSNBC. I’m sure right wingers are rallying around their familiar war whoop “they all do it.” At least Glen Beck and Sean Hannity do it, and then some, by soliciting funds on air for favored candidates giving postal and email addresses just in case. Something not even close to this has gotten a prominent employee in trouble at MSNBC.

More important and potentially ominous is the question is the intent of management. MSNBC is at the bottom of a totem pole that goes up to NBC and finally to General Electric. While MSNBC may be showing good returns with its left of center format, points are made that may not be compatible with the financial interests of GE. To what extent, if any, does this play a part in NBC’s rule and its selection of where to apply it?

The company’s prohibition is not restricted to left leaning people and could theoretically be used against the right. I may be paranoid. But it’s noteworthy to me that retribution for political incorrectness seems to work in one direction. The dismissals of Bill Maher by ABC, Dan Rather by CBS and now Olbermann, come to mind.

At this stage I prefer to think positively until and unless the situation changes. I’m anxious to learn what “indefinite” means. My scenario for a happy ending is a respectable but limited suspension with Keith keeping his cool in the meantime. Should the situation be resolved this way it could then be said that they all lived happily ever after …….or till Congress reconvenes, whichever comes first

Friday, November 5, 2010

Woe Is Us

While our side took a “shellacking” in Tuesday’s election, it had been fairly accurately predicted. The results were worse than expected in the House and better in the Senate. We can take some consolation in the defeat of some of the marquee Republican aspirants who didn’t make the cut, Sharon Angle, Carly Fiorina, Christine O’Donnell, Meg Whitman and Linda McMahon. The fact that these are all women does not disparage their gender. It just happens that they are overrepresented among losers selected by Republican voters to represent their party in these elections. Maybe it’s something in the drinking water?

Michelle Bachman won quite handily and kept right on making news after her election night interview with Chris Mathews on MSNBC. She was asked twice, quite explicitly, if she thought her party would investigate her claim, made shortly before the 2008 election, that Congressional Democrats were “un-American.” Neither time did she answer the question, but responded in talking point generalities. Getting the same non answer twice to the same question, Mathews asked if she’d been hypnotized, appropriate in my opinion, but food for the hungry over at Fox News.

Chris Mathews owes Michelle Bachman nothing. Quite the antithesis! Her off the wall comments two years ago probably won Obama some votes by exposing the underside of the opposition. But were it not for that interview she would be just another right wing kook. They’re a dime a dozen in Congress which is chocked full of Joe “You Lie” Wilsons praying for the kind of notoriety that she got from that show. In a just world she’d be giving Mathews a healthy percentage of her speaking fees.  

Lest I be thought sexist I’ll mention the names of equally preposterous men, some of whom unfortunately will soon be in office: Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Joe Miller, Marco Rubio, and my personal favorite, entertainer and class loser Carl Palladino.

But like it or not women play a featured role in this cast of precious few Republican losers, proving that in  their party’s politics there’s no such thing as a glass floor.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Loyal Opposition

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is to make Barak Obama a one term president.” These words were spoken for the record by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell in an interview with the National Journal. This has evoked anger and derision from people of my political stripe. But I’m beginning to have second thoughts.

There’s something I have to respect, call it chutzpah or manning up, when the head of his party in the U.S. Senate comes right out and says such a thing unequivocally. His press secretary tried to gussy it up by substituting “ending his liberal agenda as soon as possible,” to suggest that there was nothing personal. But the original words are pretty well etched in stone and both versions say the same thing. Reduced to its essentials Obama must be made to fail in his capacity as chief executive. If he fails it’s impossible for the country to succeed during his tenure. Well, who wants it to succeed when the other party is in control of both elective branches of government? I think it’s more honorable to stop beating around the bush and get right to the point.

Larry Sabato, apparently a McConnell supporter, said “of course Republicans want to make Obama a one term president….just like the Democrats had hoped to make President (George W.) Bush a one term president.” The man is right. The senator came right out and said precisely what he felt where mealy mouthed Democrats would only think dark thoughts. When they talk about this among themselves it’s probably in the minced words we’ve come to expect from liberal elites.

On the matter of words, specifically surnames, I’m tired of having a president with one that brings out the squiggly red spell check advisory. McConnell, DeMint, Boehner; All these names pass muster, although I do run into trouble with Palin.  But the name of the President of the United States! If the great minds that devised the computer can’t work his name into its dictionary after nearly two years I say too hell with this “just one term” business! It’s time for impeachment!

Or maybe he could get by with just changing his last name. There’s no precedent for a president (I kind of like that) doing this sort of thing although a few have taken liberties with the order of their given names. Grant’s first name is Hiram and Ike’s is David. In the case of our present president (again?) he could save money on stationary by simply whiting out his last name, leaving Hussein as his nom de plume. My computer approves.