Friday, April 26, 2019

2082 How to Defeat trump

C’mon… impeachment won’t work.  And the gaggle of Democratic opponents is so lame or extreme or tone deaf or dogmatic or numerous that a bunch of anti-trump voters will stay home on election day and hand him yet another bogus win.  They will think of themselves as patriots, they will think of themselves as purists, they will think of themselves as keepers of the flame.  But what they really will be is trump supporters with no practical stake in the outcome of the election.

And the rest of us will suffer the consequences with four more years of corruption, incompetence, ineptness and lies.  But we have our principles!

There is, however, a way to start the bowling ball down the alley and knock off the one standing pin.  It is called protest.  But protest of a new kind. It’s easy to do. It’s cheap. It’s going to go unnoticed by everyone but candidate-trump.

Let’s first investigate the psychology of this psychotic. What is the thing he wants and needs most?  Public adulation.  How can we deprive him?  Well, it won’t be easy.  We have to infiltrate.

The trumpets hold rallies.  Put down your signs, your anger and your dogma.  Get thee to a trump rally. Sit together.

Before you do this, practice -- using a mirror -- the dead-eye cop look.  The kind of look you get from the police officer who pulls you over and does not react to your anger or the flashing of a smile, a come-hither look or a nice looking leg or bust.

You do your flirtatious or victimizatious best to win him over. And he stands there, dead-eyed. Immobile. Unmoved.

At the trump rally, the fans grow wild.  You and the other like-minded protesters sit looking like cops at a one-time speeding motorist.  You don’t have signs. You don’t stand in anger. You just look dead-eyed at a man or woman in the driver’s seat and ask to see their license, registration and insurance card.

You don’t have to go limp as the armed guards throw you out of the rally.  They won’t. You haven’t done anything wrong or disruptive. You haven’t done anything.

This will drive candidate-trump wild.  He will self destruct, eventually.

It doesn’t matter how bad he is. It doesn’t matter how corrupt or inept or dumb he is.  If he sees enough of this he will go away. Especially if enough of you will join in.

So, let’s go to some rallies, people. Let’s do the passive resistance thing. There’s no need to make a big deal about it.  But it just might work.  Just remember this: it doesn’t matter who the opposing candidate is.  It matters that we should have no more of this “president.”

Note to readers: your correspondent is heading into a combination hospital and jiffy lube Monday for minor surgery. But minor though it is, it’s one of those things that prevents the patient from doing much physical activity afterward. So we’ll take a break until all that’s out of the way.  

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

2081 Earth Day

Did we all have a good Earth Day?  Did we do something -- anything -- to protect our battered planet?  Hopefully, yes. Probably, no. Do we even remember that it took place two days ago?

Did you sense the excitement in the air?  Was there any?  There certainly was in 1970 when US Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the first one.

The Long Island Daily Review newspaper, of which I was a reporter/editor at that time, covered the events in great detail.  But the Review was a business paper and the response from readers was unenthusiastic.

April 22, 1970 was a Wednesday. There was no such thing as Email.  We didn’t have a fax machine or a Telex.  But we got telegrams.  Lots of telegrams. The response was not pretty.

The executive editor, Ben Avery was shocked.  The publisher, Paul Townsend was shocked.  I was not shocked.  The reporters were not shocked.  There was a sharp divide at the paper.

On one side were the business people who subscribed, Townsend and Avery and the bondholders, the Franklin National Bank and later-to-be CIA chief Bill Casey (R/C-Roslyn.) On the other side was me. And the reporters.  And the typesetters. The art director. The shipping guys. The receptionists. The librarian.

Telegrams poured in, followed by two weeks of intense letters to the editor. And we staff-commies who favored the occasion were in deep do-do.

There were calls for our heads.  There were threats. The “business community” was up in arms… including three major defense contractors, the regional manager of a household-name department store chain, the regional chamber of commerce.

On the other side was Wendy.  A small girl. A college student. A firecracker. She invaded the newsroom Thursday morning with a bouquet of flowers and without stopping at the front desk, planted them firmly on the desk of the librarian who was for several reasons one of the most visible of the newsroom staff.

When owner Townsend came storming out of his lair that morning, she stood up to him, all 4’10” of her and told him what she thought.

No one talked to Townsend that way. He was visibly shaken.  He should have been.  Because by Friday, the tide of letters began to change.

Congratulations to us.  Thanks for taking a stand for the planet.  Thanks for the coverage.  The CEO of a large hospital thanked us. So did the congressman Lester Wolff (D-Great Neck) who is still with us at the age of 100.

Now, here we are 49 years later.  Nothing has changed here among many of the politicians with clout.  But there have been changes in the atmosphere, the state of the glaciers, the state of the landfills, oceans, mines and power plants.  And some of it, parts we can control, we can still control.  So let’s.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2019

Monday, April 22, 2019

2080 The Problem with Podcasts

2080 The Problem with Podcasts

Most of them are too damn long. And they meander.  And they are usually audio or audiovisual selfies.

The quantity of podcasted drivel is fast rising to match the level of on-the-air drivel.  Since there are no time constraints, and usually no commercial breaks, podcasters can abuse the minutes of a listener at will.  They can take a 25-word idea and expanded it into a series of hour-long repetition.

This blog post will run about 500 words.  But the nub of it is in the 18-word first paragraph.  

So, guilty, your honor.  But at least I know I’m doing it.

Some are fun.  I like newsman Gil Gross’” Gross National Podcast.” The title alone is worth the time to sample.

Some are obscenely long.  One recent contest entrant posted eight hours of stories and interviews about a cold case in a southern state. Also murder for a diligent contest judge to listen to even over the course of a week.

Others are by Very Serious People interviewing other Very Serious People about… um… about something dear to their Very Serious hearts and unlikely to anyone else.

Also: failed standup comics. Example: The Jimmy Dore Show which is kind of like Howard Stern without the blue humor but still with a cast of sycophants.

It’s not all left wing stuff.  Michael Savage’s radio program, though apparently still on the air for an hour a day is available as a podcast, or as we say on TV, fade to black. He has a following, but it’s not growing.

A lot of people who do podcasts didn’t or couldn’t make it in real radio, so they do fake radio.  They wanted to be radio stars which is kind of as common today as wanting to be a mimeograph machine repair star. No call for much of that.

It’s a very small “d” democratic medium.  And it’s said to be growing rapidly.  Pretty soon, we’ll have listening on demand about how to sell your house, improve your garden, take care of your pet alligator, how to do your own auto tune-ups, treasure hunt in the mid-Atlantic.  Podcasts will provide you with recipes for sponge cake, help you make your children behave, get you to get off drugs. How to get ON drugs and how to cure what ails you.

Nothing like a half hour or so spent with “Dr. Potter’s Home Remedy Clinic of the Air” or “Sounds of the Wilderness” which treats you to weekly 20-minute trips that feature bird calls, the sound of mating buffaloes, rattlesnake rattles and porcupines trying to take bubble baths.

Maybe we’ll even have lessons in how to play such popular instruments as the euphonium, the oud, the swinette, the triangle and the bicycle horns.

When it first started, MTV trimmed our attention spans to a Marine brush hairdo.  There was an uproar among people who feel length equals depth.  Now we have depth.  Don’t drown.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019

2079 The Mueller Report

With apologies to James Joyce, stately plump Bill Barr -- he’s the short one in the center -- strode to the microphone to make his first speech as Press Secretary. He was surrounded by body doubles for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (r.) and Principal Associate Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan in case anyone carrying full gasoline cans and butane lighters entered the room. None did.

So stand-in O’Callaghan fidgeted and tried not to fiddle with his beard and stand-in Rosenstein allowed himself to stare unblinkingly at a peculiar circular drawing on the back wall until he was hypnotized.

If this were a legal case, the defense would have had the first opening and the prosecutors would have been in the basement cafeteria having an early lunch.

If you gave him a polygraph, Barr would have failed in denying that executive privilege came up in so many words. When the Peoples’ Lawyer is really the President’s Press Secretary privilege is understood.

The part the defense left out: The report doesn’t clear trump, it’s just that because of that sticky and outdated policy discourages prosecution of a sitting president, even if he’s sitting in a golf cart fudging numbers on his scorecard.
Wait, wait! Do you mean to say our president fakes numbers?  You’ll have to ask Sarah Huckabee or Sean Spicer about that.  But both are MIA at the moment. Leave a message after the tone.

Also mentioned:
--All the redactions were made to protect ongoing investigations, grand jury testimony, national security or mudding up the reputations of “peripheral players.”  No word on who those minor characters might be.

--All the redactions were perfectly innocent, perfectly legal and none were requested by anyone in the White House.  Yeah, right.

Also not mentioned:
--Top presidential aides were found to be trying to end or at least hobble the Special Counsel’s investigation.
--Whether the report would have recommended obstruction of justice charges had the perp been an ordinary citizen, not the president.

--MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace called Barr “trump’s human shield.”
--Fox News is talking more about Hillary Clinton’s emails than about the Mueller report.
--Fourteen subsidiary investigations continue, most of them by prosecutors in New York.

A key quote from the report according to Reuters:
“When (former Attorney General Jeff) Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel had been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.’”

Possible instances of possible obstruction according to the Associated Press:

--Pressures on Comey and his firing.
--Directions to Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
--Efforts to suppress publication of evidence.
And six other actions or failures to act.

While much in the report was well known by anyone interested enough to read about it in real time, the impact of putting it all in time-release time bomb makes its impact(s) all the more important.

The only conclusion we can reach is where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  So fire the guy already.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

2078 Robot Eavesdropping

I don’t know who she is, but that’s the lady behind the eavesdropping. Her name is Magda.

How do they do this?  

Three of us were sitting around early one recent morning exchanging emails about the works of Victor Hugo, who died in 1885.  As they often do, these discussions devolved into wisecracks. Among them:
--Someone call Victor and ask him to weigh in.
--Anyone have his phone number?
--How’s your French?
--Maybe one of us can send him an email using Google Translate.

Not five minutes later, there’s an email in the inbox from a company that says its specialty is “real time transcription and translation.”

That was scary fast.

The email inbox is ad blocked.  Usually, a targeted ad like that would go to spam or would just appear in the margins of an open page.  This was a personally addressed email from a real person TO a real person.

The temptation is to investigate how they do things like that. When you visit a bunch of car websites or guitar websites the gods of Google will detect a pattern and start sending you suggested sites or even some ads.

But one exchange, and a quick one?

Somewhere along the information super highway, key words jump out in microseconds and trigger pre-written responses.  Responses in waiting.

The temptation is to write back.

Dear Magda,
Thank you for the communique about your company’s services.
The conversation someone or some THING monitored on your behalf was eavesdropping on joking among friends.  And Hugo spoke English.

--trump called Jimmy Carter over the weekend and talked about trade problems with China.  Carter says he pointed out that China has all those resources pouring into construction, roads and rails while we pour all of ours into wars.  The White House confirms the conversation.

--Fudged figure figuring.  The Long Island Railroad says it’s on-time performance last month improved to 96+ percent. Just remember that the number of trains times how late each was evens the figure “late” is defined as being at the destination within five minutes of schedule, and “at the destination” and at the destination’s platform are not the same thing.

--Note to the correction bot “Grammarly.” You will never convince me to hyphenate everything-I-write.  And you will never get me to stop using fragments. Ever.

--Here’s a headline the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1980s: “Islanders finish off Penguins 3-1 in stunning playoff sweep.” No one was more stunned than the fans. NHL playoffs last forEVERRRR but still, there’s hope.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments? Send them here:
© WJR 2019

Monday, April 15, 2019

2077 Warehouse for the Old Folks

Sunny Acres Assisted Living Facility. Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home.

Where do they get those cutsie names for places where America warehouses its old folks?  Do you really want to live in a place called Daffodil Village?  Is the very last thing you ever see a red emergency alert button on the wall that’s just out of reach?

“Here at Butterfly Gardens, we take pride in our beautiful surroundings and professional staff…” That’s what the brochure tells you.  You sign up for the tour.  When you get to B-G, it stinks of medical waste and disinfectant.  It’s dark.  The dining room reminds you of your high school cafeteria except there are no food fights because no one is strong enough to pitch a paper bowl of mystery stew at anyone else.

These are warehouses.  Storage lockers. Some are better than others. And when you see the payment schedule, you’ll have shortened your stay, maybe to zero.

The worst of them are expensive.  The “OK” ones are very expensive. The “good” ones radiate bankruptcy vibes… yours, not theirs.

Why are so many of these places under fire for everything from dirt to abuse to incompetence?  They charge fortunes but not enough to hire enough workers -- or adequately screen them?   So where does the money go?  It’s certainly not back into grandma’s accordianized net worth.

Safety concerns, medical concerns, general condition concerns abound. And it doesn’t matter if the home is run by Bentley driving Pillars of the Community with hidden offshore bank accounts, or churches or government.  Every state has problem warehouses.

In fact, if the people warehouses were actual warehouses in this low state of repair, maintenance and inspection, the owners wouldn’t be allowed to sell the lettuce or chickens or milk they stored.

But don’t worry. Grandpa is perfectly safe at Daffodil Village... just ask the chief daffodil who gets his mail at Sing sing. Better yet, ask Bubba, his charge nurse.

SHRAPNEL (Tax Day Edition):
--You have until midnight tonight to get your electronic tax return sent and you’d better hope Google or AOL or Yahoo doesn’t have one of its inexplicable “glitches” and that the time stamp is correct. What, you forgot? Shame on you.

--You have until midnight tonight to get your snail mail tax return postmarked and you’d better hope the post office picks up the mail from the corner box on time and that there’s ink in the postmark making gizmo.  What, you forgot? Shame on you.

--There are a few post offices that remain open until midnight.  Hope you can find one.  If you do, and you go there, you’ll think you stumbled into a flash mob gathered around a string quartet or an open bank vault.


-My own taxes were lower this year than last but I can’t figure out whether that’s because of the Republicans’ “Miracle” tax cut or simply because I near-exhausted my 401 K last year.

-There’s something comforting about Tiger Woods winning the Masters… it’s a comeback worthy of other once-troubled champions… with like Muhammad Ali, Lou Gehrig, Pele, Agassi, Ben Hogan and Seabiscuit.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

2076 Plastic Straws in the Wind... and the Landfill

There are two competing themes here.  “You’ll get my plastic straw when you pull it out of my cold dead mouth” and “If you put a year’s worth of plastic straws end to end, the line would reach the newly photographed black hole.

Seattle banned ‘em.  Nobody got hurt. But neither has it sparked the onset of birds and butterflies, beautiful toddlers frolicking in parks on cloudless sunny weekend afternoons.

Now, New York is considering similar legislation.   And it probably will pass.  And we’ll never get to see the first straw in the end-to-end line reach the black hole.

More often than not, New York is where West Coast trendiness goes to die.  But NY beat every other big city to the punch when it comes to congestion pricing on its busiest roads at their busiest times.  Seattle is thinking about reversing the west-to-east direction of prevailing winds by adopting a similar plan.

What the New York media have pretty much moved to the back of the bus is this: London’s already doing it. And there are stiff fines for failure to pay.

Now back to the straws.  There are a lot of them in the kitchen here at the Wessays (™) Secret Mountain Laboratory and Hideaway.  We steal them all the time. And we re-use them, and that other no-no, plastic grocery bags.

But here’s something the youngest among us don’t realize:  those lard-building sugary drinks taste better through paper than they do through plastic.  So… a win-win situation. Less plastic in the landfill, no overstuffing of the black hole and tastier ways to fertilize the growth of your pending obesity.

Digression: Coffee-to-go tastes better in plain paper cups than it does in paper cups with plastic lining.  But we digress.

Many restaurants have already converted to paper.  It’s easier and faster to do when you don’t yet have to.

No drink is tastier than a thick strawberry milkshake poured from a cold metal container into a drinking glass that’s real glass and sucked through a paper straw.

What will we do with all those plastic straws here at the lab? Probably open a straw museum to go along with our world-famous collection of cocktail stirrers from defunct New York and New Jersey restaurants.

--National Enquirer Shocker!! The hedge fund that owns this thing has put it up for sale and reports say a buyer has been found.  The Enquirer is trump’s trumpet.  And the moneymen know that’s bad for the rest of their businesses.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2019

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

2074 King of the Purges

2075 King of the Purges.

Pop quiz: which dictator was best known for purging his henchmen?
a.               Stalin
b.              Hitler
c.               Franco
d.              Castro
e.               Papa Doc
f.                 trump
g.              All of the above

Two choices are acceptable answers, (g) and (f).

Actually, all of them were pretty good at it, but (f) has done more in less time than any of the others.

The latest is the outgoing head of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen.  That’s unusual. Most good looking blonde women have staying power. No way to explain that. (clears throat.)

Nielsen’s sin?  All she did was separate parents and children at the border and put them in separate but equal cages.  Not enough. Forced resignation.  Also gone:
--the Secret service director
--the administrator of the Small Business Administration
--the Secretary of the Air Force
--the Deputy Chief of Staff for Communication
--the Principal Deputy Press Secretary
--the Secretary of Defense
--the Secretary of the Interior
--the Vice President’s Chief of Staff
--the White House Chief of Staff
--the Attorney General
--the Environmental Protection Agency administrator
--the Deputy Chief of Staff
--the Deputy National Security Adviser
--the other Deputy National Security Adviser
--the Homeland Security Adviser
--the Secretary of State
--the White House Director of Communications
--the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
--the National Security Adviser
--the Deputy Director of the FBI
--the other White House deputy chief of staff
--a personal aide to the president
--an Associate Attorney General
--a White House speechwriter
--the White House Staff Secretary
--the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
--the other-other National Security Adviser
--the Secretary of Health and Human Services
--the Director of Oval Office Operations
--the CIA Director
--the other-other-other National Security Adviser

This is not the complete list.

People have said no one wants to work for trump.  That’s not true. There are people who would wear a pink slip from this guy as a medal of accomplishment.

Highlight of your career as toilet swabee in the White House? Getting fired for not being tough enough on dirt and grime.  Secretary of State? Wow, ReXXon, could you please unretire and run the Gasateria under the Ed Koch Bridge on the Queens side?

And let’s give that blonde lady a weekend show on MSNBC.  Even if it’s she who wrote the “Anonymous” Op Ed column on reigning in trump’s “worst instincts.”

Probably, Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts should be on that list of purgers.  It’s the first cinematic mention of the phrase “off with their heads.”

Some of these people were purged because they were too competent. Most were fired or forced out because they were insufficiently trumpian. And since that changes for the worse every day, watch out, Huckabee and DiVorce and even Bolton should update their resumes.  

But Pence, you have no problem, at least not in this situation. He can’t force you out. Oh. Wait. Maybe he doesn’t know that and will try.

--Headline in the papers yesterday: “Chunk of Planet Found Circling Dead Star.” That may not be true.  Maybe Earth just took a selfie.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Note: I am not related to Winter Storm Wesley now ravaging the Midwest.
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© WJR 2019

4745 An Ounce of Cure

  Forget the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure.  With everything getting odder, let’s make it a Troy Ounce of prevention.   While “n...