Monday, July 30, 2018

1976 How to Build a House of Cards

(The following story is fiction. Any resemblance to anyone, living or dead is purely coincidental.)

It’s a house of cards.  But it also is a Ponzi scheme in which you are both the scammer and the victim.

You start with a business plan, maybe for a hotel, a casino or a golf course…  and a loan.

You implement the business plan.

It doesn’t work well.

You look for another loan using the first one as collateral.

You get the loan.

The business plan still isn’t working well.

The money is running out.  But no one knows that but you.  So you use to first two loans as collateral to borrow more and use some of the third loan to make payments on the first and second.

Things are looking pretty bleak.  You’re deep in hock, but you can claim a pile of cash in the bank… some of which you actually have.

What do you do with the some of it you actually have?  You hire a public relations company that gets you on the Entrepreneur Channel.

You brag about your business plan and your big pile of cash -- most of which you are spending on paying back the lenders.

More money arrives from people impressed with the big pile of cash and the business plan.  You then break ground on your headquarters building.

So far, you have produced nothing.  You’re up to your hips in debt you have no way of repaying. But you have that impressive headquarters building.

Your public relations company gets you on TV from your headquarters building to announce that because things are doing so well you will start a charity and read a list of the donations you are going to make.

But you don’t make the donations because you haven’t even got even enough cash to buy that membership in PBS in return for a box set of Victor Borge videos and an attractive reusable carry bag emblazoned with the PBS logo.  

But that’s okay.  Because people are coming to you with money in hand.  You are a famous success because of a mythical pile of cash, a big building, a handful of failed results from your business plan and your appearance at the ribbon cutting ceremony for a gambling joint in -- oh, say -- New Jersey.

You have arrived.  You are a star.  No new worlds to conquer.  And as long as you can play musical chairs with those loans and repayments, you’re in great financial shape and a Famous Rich Person.

What do you do next?  Import a third wife from a website that sells introductions to Russian women who already are married but believe you have that yoooj pile of cash. (When she kills you, she will have to give her real husband, Vodislav all your money.  When Vodislav finds out you don’t really have any money, he will kill the widow.)

So how do you guard against collection agents who come around with guns and baseball bats?  You get security guards.  But they’d be better than anything the banks and the Russians can throw at you.

Better find a way to enlist the Secret Service. Now how would we get them to help?  Oh. Wait! I know!

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, July 27, 2018

1975 A Suicide in Paris

In the puppet states of the former Soviet Union, they know how to get rid of enemies both real and imagined.  Russians in particular die of things that no one dies of in the real world.  Like the old favorite cerebral hemorrhage that poor old Joe Stalin suffered when a vessel in his head exploded unexpectedly, mysteriously and maybe not at all.

Soviet leaders had a lot of exploding blood vessels.  More than is statistically likely in a population that large.  Russian couples get poisoned in and out of the country at a rate that compares favorably with the disappearances of surplus mobsters in Brooklyn.

Latest: Oksana Shachko of Ukraine who lived near Paris.  Police found her hanging by the neck in her artist’s lair.  She was 31.  She was stark raving gorgeous and stark raving annoying as leader of a feminist protest group called “Femen,” whose membership protested the plight of women and oh, by the way, did it topless.

This does not go over any better in Kiev than it does in Kentucky or Kankakee.  Here we just arrest them, sometimes in full smirk. And make sure the lens on the cell cam is clean and the connection to the guard stations working soundly.

In Ukraine they chase them out of the country.  Getting chased out from Bumschtetle, Ukraine to Paris is a big step up.  But it does reduce one’s mobility and ability to protest.

And then suddenly, the protest leader turns up dead. Hanging.  This is a really rough way to go.  And sometimes a hanging isn’t really a hanging. It just looks like one.

At the moment, Ukraine has called all its foreign agents home so they can help build Russia a right of way to the Crimea.  The foreign agents of Ukraine are well trained in using shovels.

That means they must leave the mysterious suicide division of their secret service in the hands of outside contractors.  There’s words on the street that someone speaking with an Eastern European accent of some sort called Betsy DiVorce trying to reach her brother the former mercenary. We can’t determine whether they actually connected because Prokokovich Telcom lost last week’s call records. That happens a lot over there.

Shachko was one of three founders of her group. The other two have been reported feeling depressed and gone into hiding, evidently fearing they two may become … um … suicidal.

“Yeah, Demi's OK but my friends are still dead. Heroin is in our homes, not just on TV. Show the same love to friends, family and strangers that you show to celebrities.” -- Marcelle Stoppay, ordinary young American on singer Demi Lovato who was hospitalized after a drug overdose.

--Poor president trump. The guy just can’t catch a break these days.  Even the republican speaker of the house is against impeachment proceedings against Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General in charge of Mueller … which means it’s unlikely to happen.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

1974 Daily News to Self: Drop Dead!

1974 Daily News to Self: Drop Dead!

Let’s start with a joke that has some relevance and some truth but is rated R: “At birth men emerge from the womb and then spend the rest of their lives trying to get back in.”

Well, that’s what happened to New York’s bare-knuckles but legitimate tabloid, the Daily News.  It was started by the owners of the Chicago Tribune in 1919 and passed around like a note in Miss Grundy’s classroom until finally bought by the Tribune Company which now goes by the imbecile name “Tronc” which stands for Tribune Online Content.”

  • The people at Tronc, attempting to deceive you into believing they have IQs above room temperature are turning it back to “Tribune.”  But as if to revert to room temperature, Tribune has announced that the Daily News Newsroom would go on a starvation diet and lose 50% of its fat.  Fat.  You know. Like reporters and editors and columnists and whatever they call copy boys these days.

Fifty percent of an already pre- shrunk newsroom.

Another joke:  want to lose ten pounds of ugly fat? Cut off your head.  And so went the main editor and the managing editor.

The Daily News started and remains the working man or woman’s newspaper.  To prove it, I will here reproduce in its entirety its original stylebook from 1919:

Tell it to Sweeney.  

That’s it. Four words that no one in New York during the huge influx of Irish laborers and families with minimal to zero education would misunderstand.  That’s what guided the paper all these years.

When the dust settles there will be about 50 people doing the news.  Fifty. For a circulation area of 18 counties and a population of 22 million people.

Today’s “Sweeney” might be named Jose or Ling Bao or Vadim or Ravi.  But the name makes little difference.

Newspapers are pushing up daisies the world over. Printing is slower than the internet.  It’s more expensive to produce than a website. Advertising is down following a downturn in circulation following a downturn in content following a downturn in circulation following a downturn in advertising.  At least everything’s going in the same direction.

So what are they, newspapers?  

A nostalgia trip? A way to wrap fish?  (Who really uses newsprint to wrap fish, anyway?)

Actually, newspapers and magazines are the vehicles for in depth reporting.  And that’s where radio and television get a lot of its news, which means that’s the way you get a lot of your news.  So when they’re all dead and buried, your internet, TV and radio news -- such as there is left of it -- will also become the electric equivalent of killed weeds.

The Daily News hasn’t announced its own death. Yet.  Probably because there isn’t room for that kind of thing in the paper anymore.  And in fact it hasn’t happened. Yet.  But if Tronc continues in its present direction, it will. And you can hear all about it on Lester Holt’s last show.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Wessay In Brief 1974B Daily News in Hospice

The New York Daily News is pulling the plug on half its staff.  That means less coverage and fewer pages.

It once was the working stiff’s regular read.  It was sensational, conservative, moderate and liberal by turns.  But now under it’s new owners -- the same company that started it in 1919 -- it’s going to be a vanilla flavored artificially sweetened bottle of cola.

Full story tomorrow at  

Monday, July 23, 2018

1973 Take This Tech and Shove It

1973 Take This Tech and Shove It

Oh, yeah. It’s Facebook, Twitter and its imitators and competitors.  But it’s also smartphones and tablets and laptops and theater-size TVs and the mysterious things you can’t see in your car, your appliances and your water softening machine.

We rail a lot about the way social media have destroyed conversation, truth, and reliability. And that’s certainly legit.  A good operator can photoshop a picture and make trump look like he’s an underwear model. As if airbrushing in Playboy wasn’t enough.

But what is the point of a computerized laundry machine? We’re on our second one here at the Wessays (™) secret mountain laboratory.  The first one died right after the warranty expired. (Thank you, Sears.)  The next one has just died and that’s about six months after expiration. (Thank you, Best Buy.)

The trouble with these machines is they’re too complicated.  And at least in the newer one, it’s the mechanicals not the electronics that are at fault.  Great.  LG has mastered the art of a computer board with eight thousand choices.  But it has lost touch with the mechanicals whose problems were solved in 1831. 18! 31!

This is an old problem.  The O-ring that brought down the Challenger spacecraft in 1986 was perfected in 1905. Great electronics. Shabby mechanicals.

You can kill a battlefield tank with a strategic coffee spill.  A brilliantly designed commercial airplane has batteries that explode.  

Do you still want a self-driving car?

The title of this post is “borrowed” from Johnny Paycheck’s 1977 hit of similar name and there’s one thing to remember about the lyrics.  Toward the end, we find out that Johnny didn’t really quit his job, he just wanted to.

--You can still get a good mechanical, un-computerated washing machine, though it’s about twice the price of what’s now considered “normal.” The bad news is it’s a pain to find a repair tech to fix it. The good news: you’ll probably never need one.

--Do we really need a refrigerator with transparent doors that show you what’s inside when you knock twice?  What happens if you knock three times? What’s the matter with opening the door and looking?

--Do we really need a television that shows us Kim Kardashian life sized? That shows Wolf Blitzer’s beard in three dimensions? That brings us the entire stage of the Metropolitan Opera in one shot?

--This guy Lazlo was worried about the wealth gap and came up with a good plan to help close it.  Then he gave it a trial run.  The plan failed when he had an accidental head on collision with an oncoming nightstick as he ran out of the bank with the bag.

-Lazlo’s other plan was to start his day with Red Bull and if the energy boost was too much, dilute it with equal parts of vodka and fell asleep in the middle of his weightlifting class.

-Lockport, New York is installing facial recognition software at the entrances to one of its schools, leading one ACLU lawyer to decry the move as a way to treat kids like criminals.

-We have a pretty good reputation for treating kids like criminals as you can hear at any hour of the day or night from the parents of children in cages on Texas’ border with Mexico.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Wessay in Brief 1973B Tech Monsters

Some of today’s technology works like those five-year car batteries that conk out after five years and three weeks. But there’s a difference.

The batteries fail right after the warranty expires but replacing them is relatively inexpensive and happens fast.  The same superior planning goes into today’s major appliances.

It costs a bundle to fix a busted clothes dryer and it takes forever. Often, the problem isn’t even the electronics. It’s the mechanical parts, developed and perfected 100 years ago and im-perfected yesterday.

The full story tomorrow at

Friday, July 20, 2018

1972 Welcome to Autumn

TINYBURG PA -- It’s really hot out.  Temperatures soaring near record highs.  But in the world of clothing fall is here.

The simple act of locating a summer hat in mid-July becomes a chore.  Shouldn’t.  Does.

A straw hat that doesn’t look like a sombrero or something Dobie Gillis would wear or something that an Amish farmer might wear.  You know.  A straw hat.

Here in Tinyburg there are half a dozen places to buy menswear, though you’d never know it if you took the nickel tour… which you can’t because every road is under destruction.  But no place in July can one buy a straw hat that doesn’t either come down over your eyes or fit like a yarmulke.

But if you want to dress like a Cossack in a great coat and fur hat… no problem.  Check out the pre-season sale at Big Tiny’s Tinyburg Haberdashery.

But if you think it’s tough for a guy to get a hat, you should be more concerned about a woman trying to buy a bathing suit or a sundress or -- heaven forbid -- formalwear.

Granted, the fashion industry has to work ahead of the calendar.  But that doesn’t mean there’s no call for summer wear in mid Summer.

Fashions change faster than ever these days.  Time was you could figure the skirt length or the width of ties would stay in the same general square footage for a year or 18 months.  Today, things change in a heartbeat and the industry has dangerously fast palpitations.

So does the automotive industry.  And you can thank ex-Chrysler chair Lee Iacocca for that.  He caused the creation of a computerized design center that took precious years off the time between approval of a style and its execution.

In former years, the cars for the following year generally appeared in September or October.  Now, you can get a car with next year’s year tomorrow or the day after.  And it’s only July.

In that speed demon design studio, they can skip many of the steps necessary during the era of the clay model and the prototype.  It helps that Detroit and its European and Asian counterparts are kind of in lockstep.  Example between 1986 and about 2000 every car looked like a Ford Taurus.  Earlier, it was the Boxy Look.  And those old enough to remember surely realize the sameness of the tail finned, be-chromed and multicolored era of the 1950s land whales.

So if you want a 2019 DeSoto, it’s there, waiting for you.  But if you want a straw hat just wait until February.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” -- Winston Churchill.

--Interpreters do not have attorney-client or doctor-patient or clergy-confessor privileges. So where’s the push to question Marina Gross. Gross was trump’s interpreter during the private meeting with Putrid -- uh, Putin.

--The European Union is pulling a Castro on us. As we drove Fidel into the hands of the Russians, we are driving the EU into the trading arms of Japan.  They will bury us… if they want to.

Now a word from our sponsor :

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

1971 The Battle of Helsinki

1971 The Battle of Helsinki

The two vaudevillians got up on the stage of the famed Helsinki Palace Theater and began their duet and soft shoe.

“Oh we ain’t got a barrel of money
Maybe we’re ragged and funny.
But we’ll travel along singing this song
Side by Side.”

Okay, take a deep breath and let’s sort this out.  The reaction to the trump-Putin news conference has yet to sink all the way in, though the instant analysis when the song and dance ended came together faster than either your cup of instant coffee or your bowl of instant oats.

In summary:  trump is a Putin lap dog unwilling to defend the country against “enemies, foreign and domestic” and takes the Russian’s word over US intelligence agencies’ assessment that Putin’s henchmen tried to influence the 2016 election result in trump’s favor.

The word of a tyrant over the word of the most advanced law enforcement agency on the planet?

“Don’t know what’s comin’ tomorrow.
Maybe it’s trouble and sorrow.
But we’ll travel the road, sharin’ our load
Side by Side.

Asked whether he believed his intelligence men and women or the Russian tyrant, trump launched into his standard prefab yammer about Hillary Clinton’s emails, missing servers, and finally something about “the legitimacy of my electoral college win.” All false equivalents.

Putin was smirking.  

Maybe in the back of his mind was Khrushchev's “we will bury you.”  In this round of this heavyweight fight, Nikita was right.  When you enter the ring with a heavyweight, it pays to have a heavyweight to oppose him.  The United States threw a fat adolescent into the ring with Muhammad Ali. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is our fault. And, by the way heavy weight is not the same as heavyweight.

“Through all kinds of weather
What if the sky should fall?
Just as long as we’re together
It doesn’t matter at all.

trump’s closest friends in the House, the Senate and practically the entirety of the right wing media hammered him.  Of the Alt-Right press only Worldnet Daily seemed to offer support.  Cavuto and others on Fox, the National Review, Newsmax, Drudge.  Even what remains of Breitbart.

It’s the kind of criticism you’d expect from The Nation or Mother Jones, from MSNBC or the Young Turks website, not from the National Review or the Weekly Standard.

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell each with verbal brickbats.  

Our former allies… England, France, Germany, all maligned us, though with great restraint of diplomats’ doubletalk.

Covering trump is a guaranteed headspin.  This event drove the tachometer needle into red territory but the rpms slowed a bit yesterday when trump admitted he had “misspoken” during the vaudeville act.

“When they’ve all had their troubles and parted
We’ll be the same as we started.
Just travelin’ along singing our song
Side by Side.”

--trump’s little retraction about who’s doing the cyber invading changed nothing. He’s still a traitor.  And he’s still so unstable there’s no telling how long it’ll be before he says “I never said that” even when you heard him say it.

--John A. Stormer, author of the big- selling self published 1964 book, “None Dare Call it Treason,” one of the intellectual must reads of what eventually became the tea party, has died at the age of 90 of an unspecified “long illness.” Stormer -- or whatever his real name was -- told me in a 1965 interview that he lived in fear of becoming enslaved by the Soviets. Fortunately, almost no one remembers him.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Wessay in Brief 1971B Trump in Helsinki

Wessay in Brief 1971B

On Tuesday, president treason retracted his lie that Russia didn’t have reason to hack the 2016 election and that he believed Putin’s denial over the word of his intelligence people.

But the damage was done. The lie heard round the world started a s*it storm that hasn’t subsided and won’t just because he said “whoops, my mistake.” And plans to legally rid us of him already are underway.

To be clear, the president acted against his oath to protect the constitution and further diminished the view of this country both here and abroad.

The full story tomorrow at

Monday, July 16, 2018

1970 Parody Time's Up

Making fun of the crisis in America’s government gets you only so far.  And with an infantile, mentally challenged, illegitimately elected and morally bankrupt president, a congress petrified in amber and a supreme court held hostage by crazies it’s time to pretend anything good can be accomplished using an orange blimp over London or a picture of Putin tossing a half-eaten apricot into the Volga.

These people are evil.  And you know it, even if you haven’t put it into words. Evil.

trump (we never capitalize the “t”) and his henchmen and lackeys are a clear and present danger to this country. Laughing in the face of danger is the stuff of B-movies and The Onion.  It no longer works for the people who are throwing themselves on what eventually can become a funeral pyre.

This is not a call to actually end the parody.  That would cut a huge swath into the generation that gets its information and news from late night TV shows, John Oliver and Andy Borowitz.

The rest of us need to focus on the structural, diplomatic, legislative and judicial damage to you as an individual.

It won’t take a new constitution. But it will take laws that really limit campaign contributions.  The only way to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision is with a rewritten law.

The Democratic Party has to re-unify.  The “establishment wing” has to recognize the concerns of the social democrats. The social democrat/democratic socialist wing has to realize that the “establishment” is not just a bunch of entrenched money grubbers with allegiance only to Wall Street.

The Republican Party has to re-unify. There’s room for Evangelicals, Country Clubbers, Tea Partiers and plain old garden variety capitalists. They-all also must learn to work together and across the aisle.

Meantime, a little left over parody:
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If you’re hurt in an accident or indicted for spying A-to-Z is ready to help you. Call us at 718 4ARKADY.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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4744 The Running of the Bull

  Newsday Photo   A bull escaped from a farm in Moriches on New York’s Long Island and has been playing hide and seek ever since.  It’s not ...