Wednesday, October 30, 2019

4515 Good News, Bad News





Recently a reader asked why “we” the almighty media always focus on “bad news.”

Answering a question with a question? Very Socratic: 
What kind of “good news” do you want to hear, see or read? 
Inspirational magazines like Reader’s Digest or Guideposts are filled with stories of neighborhood heroics, community organizing, etc. etc.
If your town or city still has a newspaper, chances are you can find your fill of firefighters rescuing cats from trees or saving babies who’ve fallen into wells; returning soldiers reuniting with their families after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
What people label as “bad news” is stuff that may affect you directly and about which you might be able to do something. California fires? Maybe not in your neighborhood, but still, cautionary tales.
Hurricanes, snowstorms, climate change, tornadoes, tsunamis are all helpful to know about. And so is the constant s*it storm of misery from Washington because at least for now, we still have elections in this country, most of them pretty honest unless you live where I do in one of those congressman-for-life gerrymandered districts.
Let me tell you a story about a radio commentator, Paul Harvey. He was a “star” and a national figure. And he was a conservative wacko by the standards of his day.  Today, he’d look like what passes for a “moderate” Republican.

 His schtick was to convolute bad news into listenable stories that pulled you in. He once spoke about why he focused on bad news. I don’t remember the exact quote, but the gist of his response was: people like to hear these things because then they can say “thank God that’s not about me.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® 
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019

Monday, October 28, 2019

4514 The Man in the Funhouse Mirror




Funhouse mirrors really aren't all that much fun.  They distort the truth even more than the one on your bathroom wall.  That one only shows you a backward reflection of yourself.  The funhouse mirror shows you a warped version, your head is huge -- or tiny. Your body is either bloated or stretched. Your gorgeous smile looks like a grimace. 

In the bathroom mirror, you see a reverse image of yourself. In the funhouse mirror, that’s compounded by elongated limbs, stretched or compressed faces and also someone who is much older than your lovely and talented self.

The guy in the distortion mirror, our current soon-to-be-former president, believes what he sees. The funhouse mirror is his perception of reality and he wants it to be yours. Look. Your head is twice its normal size. Your body is paper straw thin.  But don’t write off the funhouse mirror.  It shows more than you think.

That image?  It may be what you look like to others. It may be what you actually are.  But even worse, it may be what we’ve become.

When the funhouse mirror reflects actual reality, we’re dead in the water.  When the national political reality becomes an Orwellian nightmare of lies, distortions, secret deals, living in the moment while ignoring both the past and the future… and distorting language which also distorts concepts and ultimately the ability to think, we’re in trouble.

You can’t put a funhouse mirror on an ironing board to press out its waves.  You can only break it.  And today’s funhouse mirrors don’t bring you seven years of bad luck, they are the payoff for the years of bad luck we’re already having.  Break one. It’ll make you feel better.

Closing argument: In this case, the mirror is straight but the guy in front of it is grotesquely warped. 

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

Friday, October 25, 2019

4513 Sorry, We're Closed





MOOTE POINTE NY (Wessays Wire) -- The local branch of the First National Bank of Moote Pointe used to be open on Saturdays. It no longer is. But Juan and Betsy still show up, open the doors and sit there from 9 am to 11:59.  

They’re there for a special purpose, which is to tell incoming customers that they’re closed.  Never doubt that the MPFNB treats its customers tenderly. A lesser bank, like, oh, say, Chase or Capital One would simply post a sign on the door.  FNB likes the personal touch.

Customer One comes in around 9:30. He wants to buy a money order for $273.59. 

Juan: Do you have an account here?

Customer One: Yes, sure.  I’d like to take the money from my savings account.

Juan: Please see Betsy in the next window.

Betsy: I’m sorry sir, but we can’t do withdrawals on Saturdays because we’re closed.  But you can use the ATM.  

The ATM dispenses only 20s. Customer One presents Betsy with $300 in 20s.  Betsy issues the money order. Then she rummages through her purse.

Betsy: We owe this guy $6.41. And all I have on me is $3.50. Can you help?

Juan rummages through his pockets and comes up with $1.14.

Customer: Don’t you have a cash drawer?

Juan: No, sir. Not on Saturday. We’re closed.

Betsy: Can you come back on Monday and we’ll straighten this all out?

Customer: You open after I have to be at work and close before I can get here.  I want to see a manager.

Betsy: I’m sorry, sir, we’re closed. The manager will be in first thing Monday morning.

Soon after, Customer Two comes in to deposit her paycheck. 

Customer two:  Please deposit this in my checking account, and please give me $200 of it in small bills,

Juan: Um… we’re closed.  We don’t have any cash.

Two: What do you mean you’re closed. The door is unlocked, the lights are on and you and that girl are standing at your windows.

Betsy:  I’m sorry, ma’am but we have no cash because we’re now closed on Saturdays.  But you can use the night deposit. Just fill out the slip and put it and your check in the envelope. Your money will be ready at 9 am on Monday.

Two: I want to talk to a manager.

Juan: The manager will be in at 9 o’clock Monday.  It looks like there’ll be a few ahead of you wanting a conference.  I can sign you up for an appointment.

Two stalks out. One is outside waiting for her.

One: I can lend you 20 from my change, even though they still owe me six-something.  Or we can stand in the doorway and block it so those two can’t leave at 11:59.

Two: They’ll probably call the cops.  Maybe we should pose as a homeless couple and panhandle.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® 
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
… Or just drop me a note at the First National Bank of Moote Pointe. I’ll get back to you first thing Monday morning.
© WJR 2019

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

4512 Dear Hillary




Dear Hillary,
Will you please just go back to making cookies or otherwise vanish until after the 2020 election.  

Thanks and best wishes,
Your Friend Wes

You know, we all know you’re a pretty smart person with some pretty good ideas.  But your train has left the station. And some people seem to think you’re toying with the idea of giving another shot at running for the presidency.  Please don’t.  Third time isn’t always the charm.

Write another book or something. Tell us in it about your adventures as Bill’s wife. Or first lady. Or senator. Or secretary of state.  Groom Chelsea for something bigger than that 15 minutes she supposedly worked for NBC.

Do anything but open your mouth in public.  You mock the minor candidates, picking on Tulsi Gabbard, who is at best a long shot, but probably not even that.  And to what end? That’s something you must have learned from trump. You weren’t always that way. Or at least it never before seemed so.  That catfight is, um, deplorable to use a word you seem to like.

The only reason anyone pays any attention to you these days is fear… fear that you can’t read the giant tealeaf that enwrapped you as you opened trump’s cage allowing him to romp and tweet his way into making the US whatever one calls the opposite of a developing nation.  

Yes, it would be nice to have a woman in the White House.  There are more than 150-million American women who might be considered.  You shouldn’t be one of them.

You are responsible for trump, the reason our allies hate us and our enemies are gleefully waiting for what’s left of us to fall into the ocean. You know, the ocean. That swelling body of water fed by melting ice caps and icebergs someone might have attenuated when there was still time.

Obama beat you fair and square. trump beat you using the most colossal mistake in the constitution, the electoral college. Yes, you won the popular vote.  But a smart woman like you could have seen trump’s tactic coming.  Maybe you did.  Was it hubris? Did you believe it was “your turn?”  This country tends not to pay attention to whose “turn” it is to lead us.

The bottom line on all this is simple: Nobody likes you. Now, please go away. 

GRAPESHOT:
-Looks like it’s time to revise the constitution to eliminate the Electoral College, thus removing political slime from power and restoring it to the voters.

-Whatever happened to “drain(ing) the swamp?

SHRAPNEL:
--The anonymous writer of a tell-all op-ed piece about the trump White House is about to publish a book that expands on what he or she first wrote.  This sparks a question.  Is the author this century’s Woodward and Bernstein or is he this century’s Clifford Irving?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019




Monday, October 21, 2019

4511 The G-7




At the moment, seven international economic ministers are homeless. The next meeting of the G-7 economic powers will be held in the United States from Wednesday, June 10, 2020 to Friday, June 12.  

Since the US is the host country, it’s up to us to pick a venue. To no one’s surprise, the president picked his very own Doral resort in Florida.  To no one’s surprise, this raised a torrent of criticism.  To everyone’s surprise, trump backed down. So for now, the Gs are homeless.

Actually, most of the torrent of criticism was confined to America. Economic ministers from the other six countries merely roll their eyes or raise an eyebrow.  Pretty civilized bunch.

Wessays (™) has some suggestions.  But first, let’s examine the change of venue.

The average high temperature in Doral, FL in June is 89 degrees.  That’s not terrible, but it’s not ideal, either.  And the upside would have been that few tourists go there at that time of year. The ministers could pretty much get the run of the place.  The average June occupancy of the Doral resort is 40%. That’s below the break-even figure.  But they still have to turn on the lights and the AC, and keep the bars and restaurants open.  So 40% + seven makes a better return on investment than just 40%.  There are 643 rooms.

But, really, the meeting only requires six rooms. trump would commute from Washington.  It’s a quick hop in Air Force One. About that room count: sure these people come with huge entourages. But do they have to?

To look good to the folks back home they travel in luxury (we’re pretty important, doncha know.) They have assistants who work long hours both above and below the sheets. And by sheets, we’re not talking about ledger books.

Camp David might be a better place for this get-together. It’s warm in June but not oppressively.  It’s an even shorter hop from Washington which has better airports than Miami (that isn’t saying much.) And diplos are often more comfortable in greater Washington DC than in the desert of South Florida, though like trump says about the Kurds they have “a lot of sand to play with.”

If they change the venue to Camp David, trump could make not one, but three grand entrances as Marine One lands or takes off.

The actual work of the G-7 is shrouded in mystery.  And whatever it is, it gets done long before the meeting. The sessions themselves are show biz and a chance for some stuffy muckitymucks to network and try to impress one another.

Where are the ministers from? Good question. Bet you don’t know. They’re from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US, and the UK.  As the president said during the campaign “a lot people don’t know that.
The group once was the G-8, but Russia was withdrawn, possibly because trump’s electoral college margin of victory was unsatisfyingly low.

SHRAPNEL:
--Elijah Cummings showed us what courage of one’s convictions means, especially when it’s turned into action. He did that long before he became a key figure in the investigation of donald trump. And had he lived, he would have continued long after we were rid of the maggot in our midst.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® 
Comments:  send ‘em here: wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019

Friday, October 18, 2019

4510 You Never Can Find an Exorcist When You Need One




It’s getting pretty Nixonian out there.  It’s like re-living Watergate. Threats of impeachment, a trial and a guilty verdict.  Of course, the Nixon soap opera ended before fully playing out.  This time it won’t.

Most of the players are in place, only with the present president, we don’t have Woodward, Bernstein, Deep Throat, Haldeman and Ehrlichman.  But we do have excellent stand ins for some of the players.

There’s Giuliani, and Barr who play the parts of Haldeman and Mitchell.  Does anyone have Christine Barr’s phone number?  After all, Watergate wouldn’t have been Watergate without Martha Mitchell.

There isn’t a major difference between Presidential Magician 37 and Presidential Magician 45.  Except that 37 tried to keep his Book of Tricky up his sleeve.  Forty-five wants everyone to know what he’s doing.  

Not-A-Crook vs. Stable Genius?  Nixon had mostly bad deeds with a topping of good deeds. Trump is the same cupcake but has no topping.

Nixon turned the White House into a gangland hideaway. And trump turned it into a game arcade at a shopping mall. All of the machines are fixed.  But that’s okay because most of the coins are play money.

So here we have two different evil spirits running the country in different decades.  But our ability to find exorcists isn’t what it once was.  There’s no Sam Ervin. There are no Republican Senators who have grown a pair and declared they’ll vote against the president.

All eyes are on Romney to play the Ervin role.  Maybe he will.  But not until he feels it’s safe.  Mitt has the safest seat in the Senate. But he’s not immune to retaliation from Senate’s Cult of 45.

Another similarity between these two comedy shows: it’s the term “third rate.” Nixon’s press secretary Ron Ziegler called Watergate a “third rate burglary.” the trumpster called Nancy Pelosi a third rate politician.  Some sources reported the slur as “third grade” rather than third rate.   If there’s anyone who never left the third grade, it’s trump.

SHRAPNEL:
--The next G7 meeting will be at trump’s Florida motel.  Gee, that sounds like the president might make a buck on the conference. Attention attendees: Ignore the minibar and BYO… oh, and don’t say anything important while standing or sitting near the table lamp.

--The governor of Florida is thinking of annexing that motel and turning it into a sand museum.  If Turkey can annex part of Syria without Syria’s consent, this is small potatoes. And trump won’t mind because if all that sand is good for the Kurds, it has to be good for him, too-- right?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® 
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2019

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

4509 Job Sites





Okay, people. Show of hands, please.  How many of you either got a job or made a hire on LinkedIn?  Hands, please.  Yes, that boy in the back… Yes, you may go to the bathroom.

No one here?  Not surprising. What a tangle the site has become.  But why pick on one when so many other sites are doing the same thing… or should we say not doing the same thing?

Well, if you’re out of work, when you fill out the on-line forms and post your resume, at least you feel like you’re doing something productive.  Of course, the product of your something productive will be a flood tide of baloney in return.  If you’re out of work, you’ve probably had your fill of bologna by now.

Sites with fake jobs by the dozen will send you poorly worded, ungrammatical invitations to “make a fortune in your spare time” by forwarding packages or stuffing envelopes or some similarly silly non-job.  These people are playing games. The game is to get your personal information and then either use it to spy on you or sell it to someone else whose nonsense will jam your inbox.

We warn people that the IRS does not call you at dinnertime -- or ever. We warn people that there are no Nigerian princes or their widows ready to pay you big bucks if you’ll just send them a gift card or a small check (with all your numbers there-on) so they can ship you that truckload of money.  But the “job offers” should be dumb enough to light up your self-detection warning system.

Unfortunately not.

It’s tough to believe that people are as gullible as they seem to be. Or maybe tough is the wrong word. The right word might be “astonished.”

If you want to lose money, do it the old fashioned way.  Join a multi-level marketing company. Or gamble. At least there’ll be some excitement as you watch your rent money disappear before your very eyes and your friends, neighbors and relatives drown in a sea of overpriced and useless vitamins, miracle laundry soap and prepaid legal services.

SHRAPNEL:
--Who won the dem candidates debate last night?  No one. There are just too many people on the platform and too little time for each to say anything important.

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

4508 The Fraud Bureau



4508 The Fraud Bureau


This trick seems to work.  Instead of answering the phone “hello” answer the phone “Fraud Bureau, how may I help you?”  The fraud calls all but stopped, just before changing the voicemail greeting to this:

Thank you for calling the Fraud Bureau.  We’re closed today but will get back to you as soon as possible.  Your call is very important to us. You are our eyes and ears in our battle against scams.  Please leave a message at the tone.

Notice we never say what we’re a bureau of.  That way there’s no crime on our end.  Pretending to be the police is a crime. Most likely the same is true of pretending to represent a US Attorney, District Attorney, Snopes or the IRS.

We had a second voicemail message ready to go in case the first one didn’t work out.

You have reached an unassigned extension. Please call our main number, toll free. then give the number of dial-a-prayer or a defunct airline.

Even the regular robo callers have stopped.  So someone must listen in on the sending end.

It was much more fun to play with these callers when most of them were made by live bodies.  We told the chimney sweep service that we had none but maybe “...that explains why there’s always so much smke in the house.”  We asked the roofing company to recommend a siding company.  We asked the siding company if they installed doors and windows because “...our old siding company covered over all our doors and windows and we haven’t been able to leave the house for two years.”

Who could use sales calls to good advantage?  Telephone companies.  But they’re so busy spawning confusion with TV ads that they’ve decided to close their best possible avenue of sales.  Also, they take the do-not-call registry pretty seriously.  After all, phone companies are sort of regulated.

Not that siding companies aren’t at least in most locales.  But you have to remember those siding companies aren’t really what they say they are.

There’s an upside to these calls.  Sort of.  When you get the sales calls, at least you know your phone is working.  Of course, you could test that yourself.  And when mom calls to complain that you never call, she’d have to find a new way to annoy you.

Here’s a response to those calls from mom:

Oh, mom! Thank God you’re alright. We’ve been trying to reach you for days.

She probably won’t believe you.  But she won’t scold you either.  After all, you’re her child.

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

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 ...