Wednesday, August 16, 2017

1832 The New Face of the Master Race

1832 The New Face of the Master Race
There it is, folks.  This is what we’re all in a twist about. James Alex Fields, the “man” charged in the murder at Charlottesville VA.

Let’s first clear up something important.  When we first learned about this kid driving a car into a crowd, killing one person and injuring others, we said he was from Ohio.  He lives there now.  But he’s a recent arrival.  Moved out of Mommy’s house only recently. Mommy’s house was in Kentucky.  It makes a difference.

The way things work today, the insurance company will pay for the repair of the wrecked Dodge and Fiat/Chrysler will announce it decries violence and some auto club will remind us that cars don’t kill people.

But I digress.

This pathetic schlump is the face of the evil in Charlottesville.  His defense team (?) is coaching him in those courthouse cliches, the ones people usually named Bobby Joe or Billy Edd tell judges after conviction and before sentencing:

  1. I had a rough childhood. Mom had to work four jobs just to put food on the table and sleep with the landlord when she couldn’t come up with the rent.
  2. I am not a bad person.
  3. I fell in with a bad crowd.
  4. It was an accident.

  1. Probably at least partly true.
  2. Wrong.
  3. For sure.
  4. Are you kidding?

If this were 1935 in Germany, would this kid qualify to join the Hitler Youth?

Yes, even the NAZIs are subject to the diluting of their standards.

Granted a lot of this anti white supremacist talk from unexpected sources may be less than sincere.   But at least these unexpected sources are doing the unexpected: criticizing the Brat-in-Chief for saying too little too late.


-Alabama tailor Jeff Sessions currently Attorney General.

-Major seller of bed linens and costumes Doug McMillon, CEO of Wal-mart.

-Academician Ben Sasse, currently a US Senator (R-Nebraska.)

-NeoCon Bill Kristol.

-Rupert Murdoch.

These are people you can usually forecast will take a stand for the “should be” and who define the should be as a white male run society where the rest of us behave because we know our place.

So, back to boy genius James Alex Shields. We don’t yet know whether civil rights activist Jeff Sessions will muster the guts to charge this bozo with a hate crime.  That may not seem like much.  But it carries with it somewhat stronger penalties than your run of the mill murder, attempted murder, murder during the commission of a felony and jaywalking.  (Hate jaywalking is a crime only in California, Vermont and Hawaii.)

But prosecutors in Virginia, a state with little to brag about since 1850 know how to lodge a murder charge.

-Unless there’s a more outrageous outrage from the president’s mouth beforehand, we’ll look at his Tuesday afternoon rantings on Friday.

-Think about this historical note:  Most of the confederate statues in this controversy were set in place well after the civil war and mark not the war but the rollback of human rights that followed emancipation and reconstruction.

--Automotive experts are singing the praises of the new Dodge Challenger.  Not only did one recently make the trip all the way from Ohio to Virginia without breaking down, it still had enough oomph to jump a sidewalk before coming to rest atop a pedestrian. Kudos to Fiat/Chrysler for the improvement.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, August 14, 2017

1831 A Weekend in Charlottesville

There are certain truths about the civil war that this column holds to be self evident.  The most important is that the south won and now governs what passes for the United States with the help of its occupied territories in the mountain and desert west and its northern secret police.

Robert E. Lee was a skilled general.  Skilled to the point that if he had a slightly less incompetent army, his side would have won the war officially instead of simply de facto.

And indirectly, this: every word out of our current President’s mouth requires an asterisk and a footnote.

So to the matter at hand, a demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia that supposedly was a protest against a city law requiring removing a statue of Gen. Lee.  But it turned into something much more.

It really was another of those pathetic, violent protests against people who aren’t white and Christian of a particular flavor.

And wouldn’t you know it, those commies and homosexuals and transgenders and fluid drive gender and people of African or Caribbean descent came out to counter protest.

As of this writing one counter protester was killed and several others injured as the Alt Righties took their  cues and tactics from their soul brothers in ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Two policemen were killed when their helicopter crashed en route to the festivities.

The City sent out every cop.  The state sent out every cop.  The president decried the hatred “on many sides.”  On many sides?  There’s that need for an asterisk again.

One republican said on CNN “Trump should have sent in the National Guard.  That’s what Eisenhower would have done.”  Eisenhower did do that.  He federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent in paratroopers so that nine black kids could enter all white Little Rock Arkansas Central high school and enroll.

As of this writing, there’s no such action in the pipeline.  Just decrying the violence “on many sides.”

Now, what about General Lee?  While he was no open opponent of slavery and proved that time and again as executor of plantation owning uncle’s will, he also was a West Point grad and one time superintendent of the Academy.  He opposed dividing the country, even though he stayed with his native Virginia.

So to summarize, he favored slavery, but opposed the two state solution.  That’s enough to make him a hero to the president’s base.  And it considered removing the statue as sacrilege.

The president’s most important function is not listed in his constitutional job description.  It’s called setting the tone for the country.  Some do it better than others. Most are terrible at it.

Nixon failed. He had that mothballed zombie air about him. Ford was only in office for ten minutes, so that doesn’t count. Carter? Nobody home. Reagan was Nixon but with Old Spice instead of mothballs. Bush-one wasn’t too good at it either.  We can’t all be Connecticut WASPs, after all.  

Clinton?  What can you say about Clinton?  Defined by his enemies.  Bush-two? Mission accomplished.  Obama struggled with this-all for eight years.

Trump is the master.  For all his “what-did-he-say?” bluster, Trump has set the tone.  Here’s a pile of hoods and sheets.  Take one of each and pass the rest to the guy on your right.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, August 11, 2017

1830 Foot in the Florida Room

You have to admire some guys.  They really do live for their hobbies and do their jobs just to pay the bills. 

All of the "life coaches" tell us we should find something we love when we look for a job, and then work won't be work.  They are, as usual, wrong.  Find something you hate.  And forget about it at the end of the day.

Foot O'Brien was saying that, sitting at the table in his Kew Gardens "Florida Room," which seems like a strange name for a room in Queens, but that's what it is.  Foot got the name Foot by changing his previous name from Inch, which drew a lot of laughs at closing time.  He got the name "Inch" from the Danny Kaye movie about the guy who wrote fairy tales.  It had a song about inchworms measuring marigolds.   Foot measures stuff, too. 

He's a business accountant.  A bean counter who refuses to eat beans and doesn't really much care for counting.

"See any accounting crap around here?"  he asks.  "No computer. No spreadsheets, no ledgers, not even a (expletive) #4 pencil!"

Foot doesn't bring the office home.  He doesn't even have a calculator.  But he DOES have a typewriter.  Actually, that's not quite accurate.  He has a load of them. 

Some of them are pristine and shiny.  Some are dusty and old.  Some are in pieces on a workbench.  That's what Foot does.  Foot restores typewriters.  

For whatever reason -- and if you ask him why, he'll tell you "because it makes you ask me why,"  which is not a real answer, but it's all you're going to get.  He's been doing it for years.  It's what he does.  

Used to be, you had a problem with your typewriter, Foot was the go-to guy.  Almost no one uses the things anymore.  So no one goes to the go-to guy.  Which is fine with Foot.  He never cared about your problem.  He cared about the machine.

He can look up when each of the typewriters was built.  Not just the year, but even the DAY.   He's a guy who does his job to pay the bills, leaves the office in the office, has a Florida Room in Queens and has forgotten more about typewriters than Smith or Corona ever knew.

If you ask him -- and often even if you don't, he'll talk your ear off about typewriters.  Just don't ask him about pencils or beans.

--The President spent some time the other day promoting technology for veterans with health problems. His first suggestion was to sit in the electric chair.  The second was to “drink this stuff… like my grandmother… who was sick… she took this and felt great when she died ten minutes later.”

--Was this before or after the latest admission? You know… the one where he lied about getting a congratulatory phone call after delivering a campaign speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree? Honest Sarah Huckabee not only has a diabetes cure to sell you but she now says the call never happened.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

1829 True Grit and the Rhinestone Cowboy

Alzheimer’s is a sneak thief. It steals the brain a little at a time.  So when we heard years ago that Glen Campbell was victim of a break in, we knew what was coming.  Still, it was a shock to hear that Campbell, 81, had died.

He didn’t go quietly. He didn’t go privately.  His fourth wife made sure he left a message along with his legacy.  The message was “this is what can happen. Be ready for it. There is no cure.”

Long before the signs of this grotesque affliction appeared, the Rhinestone Cowboy rode into Rockefeller Plaza and wowed the outdoor Today Show crowd with the songs everyone knew.  True Grit. Rhinestone Cowboy. Wichita Lineman. Gentle on My Mind.

This also was long before the Today Show turned into a daily marathon.  In those days it ended at 9am.  The performers at what we called the Friday Concert Series often stayed on for awhile afterward.  Sometimes, the audience and the performer were so into each other the show went on for awhile off camera.

And that morning -- it was somewhere in the mid 1990s -- Campbell stuck around, then plopped himself into a chair next to me and drank from a bottle of water.  

He looked as he always did.  Vigorous. Youthful. But there was a hint of some cosmetic surgery. Nothing big. But up close, you notice.

I had some questions. Always do. Not about the face-tightening. Not about the drugs, the alcohol, the four marriages. The dalliance with Tanya Tucker.  That would have been rude.  

Instead, the question was about how many violins there were on the original recording of Wichita Lineman.  The question surprised him. And then there was the one about his traveling with an electric 12 string guitar.  The big acoustics, he said, were too bulky for touring. Questions like that must have piqued his interest because the conversation went on long after most of the rest of the news people went home.

What was it like to work with John Wayne? (“What you see is what I saw.”) Do you really know all the cracks in the dirty sidewalks of Broadway? (“I didn’t write the Rhinestone Cowboy. But I researched it.”) I took that for a yes.

Once diagnosed, Campbell set out on a farewell tour.  It was a long farewell.  But he never got to the finish line.  After awhile the sneak thief took too much. He forgot lyrics in the middle of songs he had performed --what-- a thousand times?  Five thousand?

He was down. But not so far down that he couldn’t record that one final album.  In the recording studio there are endless retakes if you don’t get the words right or the guitar solo is filled with clinkers.

The musical legacy is one of a kind.  Everything from rock to sentimental ballads, movie music (True Grit) to country.  He knew how to pick a song.  And he certainly knew how to pick a guitar -- ask anyone else who tries.

This is not genius. It’s not great art. It’s competence mixed with sincerity, familiarity and comfort.  And he evoked that in all of us.

We all knew yesterday would come, and so it did.  We knew we’d feel that tinge we feel when someone whose work has been part of our lives for what seems like forever dies. It’s shock, but not surprise.

Oh… and by the way, there were 23 violins in the orchestra for the original “Wichita Lineman” recording.  Got that fact from the Lineman’s mouth.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

1828 Trump's Magic Camera

You take a digital picture, and suddenly there it is on your screen.  Faster than you can say Polaroid. Many if not most of you have at least one of these.  Even a friend who carries an unregistered cellphone he has in case he needs to call 911.

Trump, ingenious fellow that he is, has a new version, not yet out on the market.  You take a picture and instead of instantly appearing on the screen, the subject disappears from in front of you.

Poof! Gone.

So the day before yesterday, the President of the United States lowered himself by actually raising himself out of his chair, then ambled down the hall to Scary-moochie’s office, stuck his head and camera into the door and snapped the shutter.
Scaramucci portrait by Donald J. Trump
The president can’t stand a mini-me who outshines him even momentarily.  On his way back to the oval office, he stops at Sarah Huckabee’s desk and she hands him a single sheet of paper.

As we were able to do with the Priebus memo to Kelly, we have photographed it.  Here it is:

To: President Trump
From: Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Subject: Reasons to tell the press you fired Scaramucci.

  1. He failed to turn over Hillary’s emails.
  2. He leaked to Mueller’s office
  3. He didn’t leak to Mueller’s office.
  4. He has a fouler mouth than I.
  5. He’s more fragile and needy than I.
  6. His hair doesn’t look like Bugs Bunny’s lunch.
  7. He cheated on his pregnant wife.
  8. He didn’t cheat on his pregnant wife.
  9. He smells funny.
  10. He has better suits and ties than I do.
  11. He lied on his security clearance questionnaire.
  12. He didn’t lie on his security clearance questionnaire.
  13. I just felt like it.

Wessays™ efforts to reach Scary-mooch for comment have failed so far.  Maybe he really did disappear.

Some say it was new-broom-Chief of Staff Kelly who actually pulled the trigger.  But we know better. No one so much as goes to the men’s room without a hall pass from The Supreme Leader.

But notice that when even a faint breeze of sanity floats through the Presidential Palace, we all stand and applaud and think “well, things’ll get better now.” Further evidence that we are losing our grip at the same rate at the Beloved Leader.

- Too bad that magic camera doesn’t have a front facing selfie lens.

-“We work for the American people. We don’t work for the president.” -- US Sen. Tim Scott (R- SC) on why republicans are pulling away from Trump. Scott was appointed to replace Sen. Jim DeMint, then won election to serve the rest of DeMint’s unexpired term, then won a full term.  He is one of three African Americans currently serving in the Senate.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, July 31, 2017

1827 What John Kelly Will Find on His New Desk

When Marine General John Kelly sits down at his desk in the west wing of the White House this morning he’ll know what a clean slate looks like.

The drawers are empty.  The filing cabinets are empty.  The telephone has been disconnected.  The blotter is new and untouched. The computer hard drive has been reformatted and emptied of content. Everything is spotless, as befits the workspace of a retired general.

Kelly is the president’s new chief of staff.  He starts today.  

Oh, there is one thing left. It’s a memo from former chief of staff Reince Priebus.  It is not classified. It’s not even in an envelope.  Hence, Wessays™ was able to photograph it.

Here’s what it says:

To: Chief of Staff John Kelly
From: Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus
Subject:  Welcome to the White House

Welcome to your new digs, John.  To clear the space and spruce up the office we have removed and shredded all previous paperwork, including but not limited to directives, correspondence with other officials, correspondence with members of the public, the cleaning schedule and the phone directory.  We had been informed that your American Express Blue Card would be upgraded to Platinum so we cut up our own and took the fragments directly to the building incinerator.

The men’s room is down the hall to your left.  The President’s voicemail is extension 5108.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the direct line to the Oval Office, but you can try calling the switchboard by dialing “0” and ask to be connected if you need to speak with him.  If he chooses to call you, “blocked number” will appear in your caller i.d. display.

I wish I had been able to give you the current list of non-persons.  But since I was most recently in the office Friday around lunchtime, it undoubtedly has changed several times and anything I could have left you would probably be outdated by the time you saw it.

There are some permanent members, however.  And some high potentials. Keep an eye out for Steve Bannon.  His star was beginning to fade in the final days of my own tenure here.  Secretary of State ReXXon has been floating trial stories about how he’s considering stepping down.  These are unconfirmed but still worth considering.  You may be asked to join a search committee for the Secretary and possibly other members of the Cabinet.  Keep your eye on “The Mooch.” He is not to be trusted.  Do not be taken in by his fake sincerity and personal charm and reserved, dignified persona.

I urge you to keep the President’s Twitter feed on your computer screen once the IT people have restored it to working order.  The President’s habit is to tweet things before issuing formal orders and making personnel changes.

And finally, I have taken the liberty of sending a package of banker’s boxes to your home.  It was the last thing I charged on my company card.  No one who works in this building should be without storage boxes at the ready in case there suddenly develops an urge to re-retire or the President decides you’re not up to the job.

I wish you the best of luck and Godspeed.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, July 28, 2017

1826 Tilt

If the “tilt” sign lit up the pinball machine would go dark. Oh, there were some machines where a skilled pinballer could coax and tease the ball to hit high scoring targets without tripping “tilt.” But most machines and most players had tight limits on how much cheating you could do before losing the game.

It’s an old fashioned way of saying “Game Over.”

For seven years, the US Senate has been playing pinball with your health care, first threatening to overturn Obamacare and then coming up with failed game plan after failed game plan to make that happen.

Much legislation in this country works on the pinball machine principle.  Someone pushes the plunger and the ball comes out of its hole, rolls up the exit ramp and onto the playing field.  It hits this post, then that one. And it works its way down to the flippers where a good player might send it back up the field hitting more targets and winning more points.

Or it drops into the drain.

Did the “Better Care” bill fail in the senate because everyone took one look and asked “who named this thing, anyway, George Orwell?”  No.

Did it fail because the senate came to its senses and said “wait, wait, we don’t really want to take away health insurance from more than 20 million Americans many of whom we haven’t yet been able to keep from voting?”  Of course not.

It failed because three republicans and 48 democrats voted against it. (Amazing, isn’t it, to see 48 democrats agree on anything these days?)

The credit -- and credit it is -- goes to Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), Senator Barbara Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senator John McCain (R-Arizona.) They are the three republicans who voted “no” and put this junk legislation into a coma if not into the ground.

Collins and Murkowski were pretty clear in recent days that they wouldn’t support their party’s scam. McCain weaseled around for awhile and finally joined the other two.

Let’s not nominate him for sainthood quite yet.  Although he passes as a moderate and a maverick, when it comes to a vote his party generally can count on his “aye.”

McCain was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.  His triumphant and celebratory return to work was marked by two contradictory acts.

  1. He voted “yes” on a motion to bring the profoundly flawed legislation up for debate.  And
  2. He gave that little speech about how “we” have to relearn how to work with the Democrats instead of trying to “win alone.”

Those two events took place in quick succession. Anyone else see a contradiction there?

Okay, but when push came to shove, McCain joined Collins and Murkowski to shove majority leader McConnell (R-Kentucky) just as he was lifting the game machine to make the ball go his way.

Tilt.  Game over.

It was like Our Hero snatched Periled Pauline from the railroad track where she was tied seconds before the train would have rolled over her.

Or at least it seemed so.

But that’s not what happened.  A man under a death sentence with no appeals left, with no chance of a stay of execution,  realized he no longer was beholden to anyone and did the right thing.



--Poor Mexico can’t catch a break.  The advice to potential tourists always was “don’t drink the water.” Now the warning has been widened to alcoholic beverages that might be contaminated.  Isn’t alcohol a germ killer?

--It looks like more of those Takata weaponized air bags are being recalled.  Defense contractors and arms dealers are missing an important boat here. They could be buying up the things and selling them to the Pentagon.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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