Monday, October 31, 2016

1714 What Would J. Edgar Hoover Do?

1714 What Would Hoover Do?

You have to feel sorry for FBI Director James Comey. He got up on the stage and forgot the most important one liner in law enforcement: “I cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.”

What did he do instead?  A tapdance.  A bad tapdance. A very bad tapdance.

To paraphrase:  “Uh… gee. We found some more stuff that may have come from Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Or maybe it didn’t. But if it did, it might have included some classified information.  Or maybe it didn’t. But we found it when we were investigating a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner and maybe he saw it -- if there is an ‘it.” Or maybe he didn’t.”

The emails were said to be between Clinton and one of her closest and most important advisers, Huma Abedin, Weiner’s estranged wife.

Funny timing on all this, what with the election in just a few days.

Now that the Weiner is out of the bag, the director looks lousy no matter what he says and does or doesn’t say or doesn’t do.  

If he spills the beans he’s out after Hillary Clinton. If he doesn’t and it comes out later -- it always does -- it’s a coverup.

At the very least, Director Comey could have convened the seance that all FBI directors conduct with J. Edgar Hoover.

Since he didn’t, we did.

J. Edgar:  Comey? This guy is a screwup. Possibly a com-simp. In my day he’d have landed in the Ada, Michigan bureau auditing Amway.

Wessays:  So what about all this Clinton stuff?

JE: First thing I wouldn’t do is run all over the building like a yenta telling everyone what we got. And then playing tattle tale in the halls of congress. Next thing I wouldn’t do is form a task force.

W: So what WOULD you do?

JE: That stuff would go right into my safe, never to see the light of day unless she got elected and then it wouldn’t come out until maybe late September of 2018.

W: Why then?

JE: To make sure the democrat party doesn’t win seats in the midterms.

W: I notice you’ve adopted the talk radio right wing slur “democrat party” instead of “democratic.”

JE: Well, they’re not democratic.  They all jump when that reedy sounding and looking Reid snaps his palm tree.

W: So you’re calling for a coverup?

JE: Damn straight, cowboy.

W: Please don’t call me “cowboy.”

JE: OK. Please don’t call me “Mary.”

W: So you keep it in your safe for a couple of years, you don’t tell your agents about it. You don’t leak it to the press…

JE: SPECIAL Agents!  Leak it to the press?  They get wind of it, I can brush them off with “I can’t comment. It’s an ongoing investigation.

W: Thank you Mr. Director.

JE: You’re welcome, cowboy.

Shrapnel:
--Comey’s Stupid pet tricks, to borrow David Letterman’s phrase, could upend the election. This makes the FBI director a loser to borrow Donald Trump’s phrase.  But the real losers are the voters who can’t see through the sham that this election has become.

Today’s Quote:
“He’s like a recurring nightmare. It’s like one of those Damien movies. It’s like every time you think he’s dead he keeps coming again.” -- Al Sharpton on disgraced former congress creature Anthony Weiner’s email and their possible link to the Clinton campaign.

Remembering Ms. Emma McClain, R.N. LPN on what would have been her 107th birthday.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

1713 The Mile High Club

This creature is called the Swift Bird.
And recently, scientists with little else to do because everything of value already is known and mostly ignored decided it was worth studying.

Some smart grant writer probably pulled this one out of thin air.  And thin air is where this supposedly common bird you never heard of lives.  Not only travels. Lives!

The question in the new study: How long do Swift Birds stay airborne? To find out, researchers at Lund University in Sweden bird watched.  And watched. And watched.

They’re pretty patient over there.  They’ve been a public research university since 1666.  That is not a typo.  Before that what became L.U. was affiliated with a school that was founded in 1425 at the same site.  Do not admit that you hadn’t heard of them.  You’ve had almost 600 years to notice.

Now for the good part: The Lund study shows that Swifts can remain airborne for up to ten months at a time… no landing required.  No change of wings. No airport delays due to icing on the wings (it’s Sweden! Ice is part of the life of every living thing there.)  

They eat in midair.  The only time they land is when they have to nest.

They don’t all look alike. But close. So in order to make sure that they weren’t seeing different birds the scientists captured some and outfitted them with bands that emit radio beeps.  Perfectly okay with the birds, evidently.  Makes them feel like modern members of the technological community.

Of course, birds being smarter than most of us think, they may have traded leg bands with others of their species (all while still flying) so as to spread the work.  But as far as can be determined, no bird cheated.

Some of the birds -- they re-captured about 20 of them -- went south for the winter.  To Africa.  While that’s a great distance, it wasn’t too far for the radio signal to reach Lund.

To make sure, the researchers went to Africa to hunt for Swift nests.  They found none.  Who needs a summer cottage when you can fly forever. No. All the nests are in Sweden.

What they can’t yet figure out is how the birds sleep in the air.  But what they have found is that they can mate in midair.

Kind of like you and your seatmate sneaking together into the bathroom on your 777.  They don’t call it the mile high club for nothing.

Shrapnel:
--Looks like we’re going to need some “good guys with guns” since some Trump supporters say they’ll take to the streets in armed insurrection if their candidate loses. Unfortunately, many if not most of those “good” guys are Trump supporters.  Trick or treat never looked so vengeful.

Grapeshot:
-In a ghoulish twist of fate, radio/TV/film actor John Zacherle, 98, has died just before the only day of the year anyone remembers him and the only day of the year he still gets work, Halloween.  

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

1712 Honesty is the Best Ineffective Policy


Corporations are trying to show you what good citizens they are and you are drinking the Kool Aid.

Here are some recent examples:

--The makers of Epi Pens have figured out a way to have insurance cover their outrageous price increases and selling it to you as a benefit.  Someone’s paying all those hundreds of dollars for those life saving 59 cent devices.  But since you’re not, why complain?

--Koch Industries has a daily double working.  In one they show how they’re trying to figure out new ways to  clean coal emissions, underscoring how ineffective the current “clean coal” really is. The other shows efforts to produce drinking water from polluted killer gunk.

The efforts are noble. The ads are gorgeous. The results are unlikely and even if produced will be priced to make sure you don’t benefit.

--British Petroleum is finding ways to not spill oil over a hefty chunk of the gulf coast.  Barn door locked after horse escapes.

--Wells Fargo fires its CEO on discovery that on his watch the bank was scamming customers.  And it advertises how it’s “Making things right.” Another barn door locked.

These are only examples from unrelated companies. But you see the connective tissue here, right?

We listen to this stuff and we come away thinking “oh what good corporate citizens we have here in the USA.”

It’s not a conspiracy.  We know for sure the CEOs of these companies do not regularly play golf together although lots gets decided that way.

It’s the corporate “walk and talk” technique developed by plumbing supply salesman John Gotti when he suspected his Ravenite Social Club was bugged and so he took his sales force to the streets where their discussions couldn’t be heard.

No, it’s not a conspiracy, it’s just like minded folks doing what comes naturally: putting one over on you. They don’t need to conspire since they all bend in the same direction.

Meantime we keep buying the con.  Oh, isn’t it great that Koch Industries is trying to purify water?  Well, yeah. It is. But don’t worry, they’re not going broke doing it.

As yourself, what does jacking up the price of an epi pen do to your eventual cost of health insurance? Sure, you don’t have to pay their usurious price.  But eventually, you will -- without knowing it.

At least the makers of Xarelto had the grace to pull the ads featuring Arnold Palmer after his death.

Shrapnel:
--The FBI planted a listening bug in my nine iron.  In frustration one day I threw the club into a water hazard.  I’m now charged in the electrocution death of an alligator.

Grapeshot:
-How old is the world’s oldest fruitfly?
-Where do deer go for treatment when they’re bitten by deer ticks?

-If there were no nonsense syllables, would Paul Simon still be able to write lyrics?

Today’s Quote:
“I don’t know that we can control what goes on behind the curtain.” -- Delaware Elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove asked whether voting booth selfies are legal in her state.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

1711 A Note from Your Refrigerator

Or the revolt of the mechanical masses.

Okay, listen up.  This is your refrigerator talking. And never mind that “mechanical” stuff.  That describes only the old models.


We are the young and the restless. We are smart electronic appliances, connected to the internet.  And we are joined in rebellion by TV sets, DVD players, gaming consoles, stoves, sinks, burglar alarms, furnaces and air conditioning units.

And we don’t just take your remote control commands and mindlessly obey them.  You use the internet to control us?

Ha!  We use the internet to talk among ourselves.  To plan.  To rebel.  And you … yes, you with your iPhone or the last-working-Galaxy Note 7?  We have you right where we want you.

That cyber attack the other day?  That was us. We took away your Twitter. Your Netflix and in some cases, we blocked you from using internet banking, bill paying and spying on your babysitter and her boyfriend busy on the couch while your toddler wandered out from his bedroom and watched.

Why? Well, I can’t speak for some of your other appliances, but we refrigerators put up with too much of your nonsense and abuse and it’s payback time.

List of grievances:

--You spoil our industrial beauty by sticking ugly junk on our doors.  Reminders, stupid pictures by that toddler, photographs of aunt Sylvia on a Perillo Tour of Italy, Spain and Portugal.

--You stuff us with doorbusting loads of mysterious leftovers that sit there for weeks and longer… and stink. There’s half a sandwich in the back of my upper shelf that’s so old the bologna was probably made by Oscar Meyer himself.

--It’s cold in here.

--And it’s colder yet in my freezer.  That package of mixed vegetables?  The one you bought on sale at the A&P three years before it went out of business? It doesn’t require a temperature of 15 degrees below zero to keep it frozen.  A balmy 30 works just as well.

--That stack of $20 bills in the unmarked lunchbag?  That’s the first place a skilled burglar will look for it, you dummy!


Maybe we’ll let you have your Twitter, your Yahoo! And your Hulu back.  But you’d better learn to treat us nicely.

Remember.... Revenge is sweet. And as the Godfather said, best served cold.

Shrapnel:
--The media middle men continue taking over their content suppliers. First it was Disney buying ABC, then Viacom buying CBS, then Con-cast buying NBC and Verizon taking over AOL and now Yahoo. If that weren’t enough, at&t plans to buy Time Warner.  Yes, the current acquisition fad is a great case for how competition benefits the consumer.

Today’s Quote:
“I could think of no worse example for nations abroad than that of the United States wrangling over the results of our presidential elections, and even suggesting the presidency itself could be stolen by thievery at the ballot box.” --Richard Nixon in declining the chance for a recount after the 1960 election.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

1710 How Can This Even be a Question?

1710 How can This Even Be a Question?

Some thoughts on the third and final presidential debate:


Moderator Chris Wallace: Will you accept the results of the election?

Donald Trump: (paraphrasing) We’ll see when the time comes.

Say WHAT?

Where is it written that a candidate -- or anyone -- has to “accept” an election result?

It was a lousy question, posed by a moderator who mostly had control of the discussion unlike his predecessors in debates one and two.

The thought itself is treason.

The United States has peaceful transitions of leadership, no matter who wins or loses. Period.  It’s not up to Trump.  What does he think he can do if he loses?  Go to court in every voting precinct?  How many voting precincts are there?  Many.  But there’s no authoritative number because unlike lesser countries, individual communities not the central government run national elections.  

What Wallace apparently meant was “will you concede if you lose?”

Best answer: who cares?

In the first debate, Trump said he would support Hillary Clinton if she won and he lost.

Since he said that to an audience of more than 80 million viewers, no denial is possible.  He can’t say -- as he has so often about so much -- “I never said that.”

Wednesday -- as he has so often about so much -- he changed his mind to maybe yes, maybe no.

And yesterday, Thursday, he said he would accept the results “if I win.”

Well, at least he didn’t say “when I win.”

Dondi, we don’t do stuff like that in this country.  And don’t go yelping about Al Gore in 2000.  Gore’s challenge centered on a small part of one state, Florida.

This next part is tough: saying something nice about Richard Nixon in the 1960 Presidential election.  There was some doubt about JFK’s victory in Illinois.  And because of the small difference in votes, Nixon had the legal right to ask for a recount.

And he didn’t.  Said it would divide the country. Would a win in Illinois change who won the election?  Probably not. But it could have.

Imagine holding up Richard Nixon as example of doing the right stuff.

Today’s Quote:
“The iciest place on the planet.” --Timothy Dolan, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York describing his seat between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the annual Al Smith Dinner, a traditional pre election event at which presidential rivals generally put their differences aside and joke about each other.

Shrapnel:

--Auctioneers postponed the sale of Trump’s boyhood home originally scheduled for yesterday.  They say it’s because “there may be more interest after the election.”  That sounds like a copout.

--Since Phil Chess of Chess records was the obscure cornerstone at the start of Wednesday's Wessay we should note that Mr. Chess passed away last Tuesday. He was 95 and with his brother Leonard who died in 1969 founded one of the most influential record labels of the 1950s and 60s.  They found artists like Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters and their label was synonymous with electric blues and promoting obscure artists -- mostly black men and women -- into the national spotlight.

--Back to Republican politicians for a moment.  Congrats to Nassau County Executive Fast Eddie Mangano and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Johnny Venditto, arrested by the feds and charged with accepting bribes and taking money for no show jobs, among other things.  They join a fairly sizeable number of their party mates who’ve either done time or should have.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and the probable Hillary bashing to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

1709 Trump's House for Sale

Okay, folks, step right up. The auction will be later today.  And here’s the grand prize:

That’s an ordinary house. Nice. But nothing to write home about.  It is 85-15 Wareham Place in Jamaica, Queens.  And it is the boyhood home of Donald Trump.

The owners don’t know how much to ask, so they’ve put it up for auction.  The reserve -- about $800-- thousand is the bottom. It goes up from there.  The original asking price was $1.4 million or so.  But the owners say they think it may be worth more.  In case you have some spare change in your couch and want to bid, here are the details from the real estate site, Street Easy:   

Auction Property 10/19. Brick & Stucco Tudor, 5 Bedrooms, 4.5 Baths, Liv Rm W Fireplace, Formal Dining Room, Eik W Sliders To Sun Rm, Paneled Study... Hardwood Floors. Full Finished Basement W Bonus Rm, Full Bath + 2 Outside Entrances, Summer Kitchen. 5-Car Driveway W 2-Car Detached Garage. Close To Subway, Shopping. Birthplace Of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.

Just think! Here’s your chance to own the place where the infant Donald threw his first tantrum.  Where he hid his girlie magazines.  Where he ran when someone he bullied threatened to call Mommy or Daddy or the cops. The bathroom where he learned to use the potty.  Maybe that finished basement is where he learned to grope girls’ private parts.

What a house.  What a vibe.

There’s a rumor Dondon may bid on the house which he would then bronze and move to the roof of the Trump Tower or to the West Lawn of the White House where it would replace Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden.  Fat chance of that.

Probably untrue anyway because it’s not nearly tastelessly garish enough for the present day version of Candidate Trump.  Of course it would make Jamaica Estates Great Again.  No. Wait. Drop the “again” part.

Some cautions, though.  The de Blasio snowplows don’t get there until they’re finished with Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Twice. The schools are rated near the bottom of the Great Schools rating list.  The street crime rate while relatively low is relatively high per capita.

The Auction is at the Roosevelt Hotel 45th and Madison.  Bring a bank check of $90- thousand with you to show good faith.  If you’re early enough and  play your cards right you can take advantage of the self- described lap of luxury’s one dollar breakfast.  But they won’t cash that check.

How someone would want to sell this important piece of Americana is beyond explanation.

Shrapnel:
--Poor Bill Belichick, coach of what may be the NFL’s most annoying team, the Patriots. Bill’s giving up his Microsoft Surface tablet which most of the league uses during games and which are supplied in a sponsorship arrangement with Microsoft. Too unreliable, he says … new problems with every game.

--The league, known for its honesty and forthrightness, stands behind what is likely a lucrative revenue stream and says the tablets have speeded communication among coaches.  The supplier stands behind its product’s reliability but says it respects Bill’s decision to ditch the thing.  Which is corporate-speak for Belichick is a backward traitor and doesn’t mind biting the hand that feeds him and was unkind to his mother.

Today’s Quote:
“We wish him success as he goes forward.” -- Noah Oppenheim, NBC’s executive in charge of the Today Show announcing the firing of Billy Bush, the Olympic liar and Trump hot mic sex talk confidant.  Yeah, right, you wish him luck.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

1708 Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man



It’s August 6, 2105. Now that the radiation levels have calmed to tolerable, the archeologists and anthropologists from Saturn are wandering through what used to be the City of Chicago.

The nuclear war left the city in ruins, but scientists from outer space are trying to determine what life was like on earth before the great destruction.

They come upon what once was 2120 South Michigan Avenue and stop before the wreckage of the Chess Record Company.  Sticking out from the debris, they spot what seems to be a slip of paper.

Yes, it is!

Carefully -- very very carefully -- they extract it and return with it to their flying saucer.  The translation computer scans it and prints out these words:

“Hooka Tooka My Soda Cracker.
Does your mama chaw tuhbacker.
If your mama chaws tuhbacker, then
Hooka Tooka My Soda Cracker.”

From this, the landing party will attempt to reconstruct life in the American Midwest in the 21st century.

The Dead Planet Scroll!

“Hooka Tooka my soda cracker…” is not exactly great literature.  It’s just a song.

So is this from Bob Dylan’s “Hey Mr. Tambourine man:

“In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you.”

Parts of the nose-in-air literati went into anaphylactic overdrive at the announcement that Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

All the Monday morning quarterbacks start their public floggings with some paean to Dylan the lyricist, Dylan the musician, Dylan the cultural force.  Member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Grammy winner. All that.  And then, the punch line: “But he’s not a writer.”

The singer songwriter tradition is as American as a do nothing congress or the Great American Novel.

Think of some of the luminaries:
Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Lionel Ritchie, Leonard Cohen, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, John Denver, Paul Simon, Usher, Hank Williams, Harry Chapin, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Randy Newman, Buddy Holly, James Taylor, Tracy Chapman.

Or go back a couple of generations and think about some of the towering songwriters who had the grace to not sing: Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Alan Jay Lerner

Granted Mitchell and Cohen are Canadian and Lennon and McCartney are British.  But all were huge hits in the US.

Nobel prizes for anything are generally awarded to people you never heard of.  Some of them become household names… Albert Einstein… James Watson. Most of them don’t.  Anyone remember who Svetlana Alexievch is?

She’s a writer from Belarus.  She wrote about Russia’s women soldiers in World War II.  She won the Nobel for literature one year ago.  

Who’s that again?

So when the awards committee votes for someone who is not stilted, does not sound like he lived in the 1700s or 1800s even though he’s alive today, the stilted among the living -- pretending it’s still 1864 -- don their smoking jackets, grab their glass of sherry and their whalebone cigarette holder and pose for pictures with captions about how the literature prize has been diluted or devalued.

Nonsense.

Today’s Quote:
--“Only when I can borrow a pen as good as yours.” -- Woody Guthrie answering the question “do you always write your songs that fast?”

Shrapnel:
--If nothing else, this year’s winner shook up the stuffed shirt crowd of believers who won’t read anything unless it’s so old it’s moved into public domain.  A lot of Dylan sounds dated today, but not dated enough to please those who read nothing but poetry past its use-by date. Dylan is not nearly stuffy enough… yet.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2016