Monday, January 23, 2017

1748 Inauguration Day -- Celebrating the Cons

1748 Inauguration Day -- Celebrating the Cons
They started small.  First it was the God con. Two men and a woman, a diverse cross section of White American Christianity got up to speak.  Each one at greater length than the previous.  Wanted to make sure He got the message.

Two choirs and a soloist brought us the music con. One from the Missouri State University. Lotta clinkers, but in near- freezing temperature, expectable, though hard to listen to.

The second was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir which makes up in power and numbers any musical shortcomings.  There are some folks in Salt Lake City who weren’t one bit pleased to send those hundreds of men and women to Washington Friday.

And finally a soloist, a woman singing the national anthem. Temperature and the rain took their toll on her, too.

Then, the diversity con. The lone clearly visible black face on the platform was that of Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  He administered the oath to the vice president.  It’s the same oath you take when you work for the federal government as anything from floor sweeper to secretary of state or vice president.  Since almost no one has ever heard Justice Thomas speak -- because he doesn’t -- people were impressed with his bass-baritone, more musical than the musicians.

Then Chief Justice John Roberts administered the presidential oath to the president elect.

Then the new president spoke.  That was the real con. The biggest of them all.

The president’s speech was the least presidential in recent history and mercifully one of the shortest.  In it he trashed his four most recent predecessors and all of congress, about which he was right.

One commentator called it his best-ever campaign speech.  And while it was quieter than most of his others, it still was angry, demeaning, insulting and borderline barbaric.

Even worse, it was a 15 minute lie-a-thon, with cement bouquets designed to fool his followers into believing their lives would improve over his term.

Tell that to the 18 million people who are apt to lose health insurance. Tell that to the soldiers and sailors and marines and airmen and women who think they’re going to be defending our shores against potential enemies instead of far off lands where the enemies -- and the battles -- are real.

There’s a central flaw in the Make America Great Again racket.  The America the new president wants to make great again is a nightmare fantasy, an impoverished, crime ridden, lawless, jobless land in which bread lines will soon appear and bridges will collapse and bury the homeless living beneath them.

There certainly are pockets of that and some are pretty deep.  But this is not Greece and it is not Venezuela. So ask yourself how the similarities developed here and who is to blame.

Ask yourself who threw roadblocks in the path of the previous president.  Ask yourself who you elected to state houses, legislatures, congress.  These are the people who made the pockets possible.  

Reminder: the new president won because of states where each vote counts more than yours and are cast not by real people, but by politicians.

-A hat tip to Tom Brokaw who tried mightily to say something that made him seem still relevant.

Today’s Quote:
-“And where are the clowns/Send in the clowns? Don’t bother/they’re here.” --S. Sondheim

--All this fuss about “peaceful transition?” That’s something so ingrained and presumed here that it never had to be mentioned and never was until now.  The campaign of 2016 raised serious doubts and serious well grounded fears.

--We learned something new about former President Obama during the inauguration ceremony.  He has a talent we weren’t aware of.  He can bite his tongue without any obvious outward sign and proved it time and again during the inaugural address.

Wessays (™) Insider: If the Times can do it, so can we. There’s discussion about Wednesday’s post.  The debate raged all weekend: Should we comment on the weekend’s marches or should we just tweet.  Stay tuned.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, January 20, 2017

1747 Buzz Windrip

You know who that is, the guy in the picture. Or at least you think you do.  But it’s not the 45th President of the United States who is fictional.  He is Buzz Windrip, who won the election of 1936, defeating FDR.

Actually, Windrip is a fictional character, too.  He is the anti-hero of Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 Book and 1936 play, “It Can’t Happen Here.”

As fascism and nazism posing as populism rose in Europe, the United States was mired in what still is the worst depression in our history.

Sound familiar? Windrip was a bully, a loudmouth and a lout.  If Twitter had existed, he would have been right up there with Prez 45 dissing the communists, the Jews, the unions, the clergy, and the media.

Sound familiar?  Windrip took office and promptly outlawed dissent. He assembled a military force akin to the German SS and set about getting rid of “unpatriotic men” and “people who failed to uphold
“traditional American values.”

Sound familiar?  Windrip was a business type and member of the Rotary Club.

There was no Environmental Protection Agency, but had there been you can bet Windrip would have gotten rid of it. There was no department of education.  There wasn’t any cabinet job with today’s duties of the Labor Department.

This made destroying what little regulation there was easier than it will be now, but no less sure.

So, a tactless con man becomes president and the economic recovery he promises never happens. His closest aides manage to oust him and exile him to France.

Lewis didn’t give us a full accounting of this horror’s end.  But he did give us hope things wouldn’t get as bad as many of us now expect it to.

Today is the first day of the rest of Trump’s presidency.  He will discover that the job is bigger and tougher than he -- or anyone else -- and he has to accommodate to that. It’s humanly impossible not to. Ask anyone who has had the job.

The White House is not a corporate boardroom.  It is not a betting parlor. It is not a downtown social club, or an Atlantic City casino.  If #45 thinks otherwise, it will crush him.

But it won’t crush us.

Today’s Quotes:
-“The press has been very dishonest when it comes to me.” --D. Trump.
-“You keep us honest and make sure we’re accountable to the people who sent us here.” --B. Obama saying goodbye to reporters.

-Get used to Code 45, the language spoken by the staff and management of the incoming administration which has all kinds of unique ways of expressing its bigotry.

-Code 45 example: Rapper Kanye West was not invited to perform at the inauguration ceremonies because -- and here comes the code -- they are going to be a “typical and traditional American…” event.

-Kanye West might not be to your taste in entertainment but he’s pretty popular… and what’s more typically and traditionally American than that?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

1748 Rethinking Congress

1748 Rethinking Congress

Let’s pay our congressmen and women by the pound.
Blake Farenthold (R-TX) Soon to be nouveau riche
We’ll have weigh-ins once a month and that will do several things:

  1. Determine the following month’s pay.
  2. Get them to Washington more than three days a week.
  3. Help them avoid actual work, something in which they need no training.  The line for the scale will be so long, they can spend hours waiting.

As a society, we’ve learned to take our shoes off at the drop of a TSA hat.  So there’ll be no problem for Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas removing them for the weigh in. But there are some who are too thin, and maybe they’ll have to put fishing weights in their shoes.

Of course, this would encourage our employees to overeat.  No worries.  There’s plenty of food to go around.

(And no, they won’t have to disrobe further. The sight of naked congressmen and women is even more repulsive than the site of them fully clothed.)

But in America we must complicate everything. It’s in the Constitution. Look it up.  So here’s something else to do: a bonus for low IQs.  We can’t be having smart people in the house or senate, now can we?  Do we want someone who can actually think beyond his belly?  Of course not.  Smart people are dangerous.  IQs at about room temperature would be ideal.

Hmmm. Do we really need a Senate?  Yes, temporarily.  But let’s start phasing it out.  Zap one southern state and one northern state at a time.  If we run out of small northern states with elephantine sway, we can always start on the far west and the midwest where we can do without all kinds of places.


--For those thinking of leaving the US because of the change in Presidents, strike Poland from your bucket list.  Air pollution abounds.  People without two Zoltys to rub together are burning garbage for heat.

--An Oxfam report says eight men are as wealthy as 3.6 billion people combined, the bottom half of the world.  The names:  Bill Gates (Microsoft,) Amanico Ortega (Intidex fashions,) Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway,) Carlos Sim (Mexico Telco,) Jeff Bezos (,) Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook,) Larry Ellison (Oracle) and Mike Bloomberg (Bloomberg LP.)  Obscene.

--There are two main lists of the world’s billionaires.  The Forbes 400 never mentions anyone named Forbes (probably with good reason.)  And the Bloomberg list never mentions anyone named Bloomberg.

-Not to be outdone, the president will start his own magazine with its own top moneybags list:
-Trump, Donald (New York)
-Trump, Ivanka (D.C.)
-Trump, Melodious (Kiev)
-Trump, Dondon (New York)
-Kushner, Jared (New Jersey)
-Trump, Todd (Ohio)
-Trump, Don (Florida)
-Trump, Fred (Arizona)
-Trump, Hubert (Indiana)
-Trump, Angelica (Oregon)

-“I’ll run if I can walk.” Joe Biden on his plans for the 2020 presidential election when he’ll be 78.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, January 16, 2017

1747 This Way to the Egress

When the milling crowds on the midway got too thick, P.T. Barnum -- so the story goes -- would put up signs pointing to the “egress.” Many thought that was another exhibition and left, allowing waiting patrons in. Too many people?

Barnum’s successors at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus haven’t had that kind of problem for decades.  So much so in recent years that current owner, Feld Entertainment announced this weekend that the circus will close permanently after this year’s tours.

Poetic justice:  The tattered and superannuated traveling show will make its final bows at the equally tattered and superannuated Nassau Coliseum on New York’s Long Island on May 21st.

Beside declining attendance, CEO Kenneth Feld cites protests from animal rights activists and changing tastes.  At least he had the grace to not blame the media.

One hundred forty six years of freak shows, scary and semi scary clowns, death defying feats of aeronautical acrobatics, overpriced food and trained big cats always on the edge of mauling and devouring any living being under 60 pounds.  

One hundred forty six years of bearded ladies, adult conjoined twins, three legged men, four legged women and “the living torso.”

Goodbye Lobster Boy, General Tom Thumb and the Human Unicorn.  Also jugglers, unicycle riders, tightrope walkers, human cannonballs, fire eaters and sword swallowers.

And with all that, dies a whole culture of workers from tent builders to boxcar loaders, the whole backstage crew, animal handlers and ringmasters.

Life has become so heart-in-mouth that there’s no more thrill to watching some skinny dude and a leggy woman do mysterious things on a pair of trapezes without falling to their deaths.  The real circus is going on all around you and there’s no admission charge.

Of course, Ken Feld’s announcement could be just another circus stunt.  Maybe he’s opened 30- million fake email accounts and contracted with some temp agency to write angry protests and demands that he keep the company running.

Probably not.  But don’t be surprised if you see the clown car up for auction.  And Emmett Kelly’s broom.

--For many years on Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday this space has railed against those trying to second guess what he would have said about these times had he not been murdered. Not anymore.  This year, it wouldn’t take much guesswork, though you won’t find any here.

--If you thought we were governed by the worst among us for the last few decades, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. We’re days away from government by kleptocracy.  We are days away from Alice in the rabbit hole where up is down, down is up and nothing is real.

--But we sincerely hope for the continued good health of the president- elect.  That’s not some sentimental statement of faux patriotism as once we offered for the health of George H.W. Bush.  You want this guy healthy because if he dies, we get Pence -- and that’s even worse.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, January 13, 2017

1746 A Tale of Two Presidents

On Tuesday night, President Obama delivered a long “farewell address” to the public.  On Wednesday morning, the president-elect held his first news conference since July.

Obama’s speech was part Bill Clinton (long,) part Ronald Reagan (tugging at heartstrings,) part John F. Kennedy (gracious and graceful) and part FDR or Winston Churchill (understated but powerful.)

You couldn’t ask for more in that kind of a speech.

The following day, the president-elect met the press. He backed down from “Russia didn’t hack us.”  And he got into a shouting match with a CNN reporter.  He had a pile of manila envelopes beside him, said they were legal documents about how he’s going to temporarily cede control of his holdings but wouldn’t let anyone see any of them because they’re “legal documents about how he’s going to temporarily cede control of his holdings.”

Obama drew smiles, tears, applause.  The president elect drew flies.

You had to wonder where the Obama on stage in Chicago had been hiding for the last eight years.  You had to wonder at how he went to work each morning when the path to accomplishment was always blocked by the body of a morally, spiritually and legislatively dead series of republican bodies lying across the path.

Was this guy really president? This master of the speech, this orator in chief?  Yes, he was.  But the part we saw was hidden behind those bodies.

Was the Affordable Care Act all it was cracked up to be in the long run of coming attractions that came before it?  Of course not.  Can you figure out why?

The President elect has shown no understanding of how government works.  He appears to have confused the presidency with wheeling and wheedling real estate development companies he’s been running.

Development has several meanings. You can look up the original definition in any dictionary, even the newer ones that report your usage, unlike the older ones that report on what should be you usage.

In Academia and other charities, “development” means panhandling.  In real estate it means take paradise and make it a parking lot, according to pavement scholar Joni Mitchell.

So the president elect has been in effect privatizing the executive branch.  But there are some in government who haven’t gotten the message.

Little Marco Rubio for one.  He’s already started his 2020 presidential campaign by feigning a move toward human rights while the basket he’s shooting for is the White House.

The intelligence agencies may be several dogs fighting over the same bone. But they’re best friends when it comes to digging up dirt on people they don’t like.

--FBI director Comey is on the carpet over the timing of his big mouth. He presented the beanbag on Hillary Clinton eleven days before the election, ceremoniously opened it.  No beans spilled and now the parent agency, the Department of Justice wants to know he got away with it.

Today’s Quote:
“There’s not a guy would try something as stupid.” -- Chairman Sergio Marchionne of Fiat Chrysler on reports of a federal investigation into VW- like cheating on emissions tests.

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

1745 All News is Fake News

1745 All News is Fake News
Retired New York Daily Mirror Science Editor Merton D. Hasenpfeffer is widely credited with starting the Global Warming hoax.

Here’s the secret oath we newspeople all take before receiving our destructo buttons:

“I _____ ____ do solemnly swear to uphold this Newspersons’ creed.  I will to the best of my ability lie, cheat, steal, accept bribes and write what my masters tell me to.

“I will do my best to withhold important news and/or trivialize it.  I will do my best to bring my inherent dishonesty and laziness to full flower.

“And I will do my best to write or speak it in terms to confuse and befuddle, so help me God.”

So you see the rites of the journocult are now in plain sight and it’s likely your correspondent will have to go into hiding to avoid contract underworld hitmen, government death squads and the issuers of fatwas.

But no one will report that.

Omitting stories takes no energy.  CNN barely mentioned Meryl Streep between red carpet shots at the Golden Globes.

We do our best work when we simply invent events.

Here are some examples:

The Holocaust and the bombing of London. It’s been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Jews left Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc. voluntarily.  Those trains didn’t go to death camps. They went to Paris.

Edward R. Murrow wasn’t speaking from a London rooftop. He was on the air from Studio 5 at CBS headquarters on Madison Avenue.

Hiroshima/Nagasaki:  Anyone actually see the mushroom clouds?  No, of course not.

North Korea: China annexed the northern half of Korea in 1951.  The war?  What war?

The Castro Revolution: Never happened.  The Miami Herald in cahoots with Meyer Lanski dreamed it up. Castro was just a figurehead so that Lucky Luciano could keep a low profile.

Moon Landing:  Faked and you know it.

Watergate: Hmmm. That might have been real although information has come out to hint that Spiro Agnew set it up.

The Affordable Care Act: You can keep your doctor?  Affordable?

The end of organized crime: New York’s “Five Families” lost a little weight but retain their grip on the waterfront.

The Kardashians: Invented whole cloth by OJ Simpson’s fake “Dream Team.”  Johnny Cochran was doing real estate transactions and divorce cases from 1980 until the time he faked his death in 2005. Dershowitz had an ambulance scanner in his 1985 Datsun and Robert Shapiro was getting ready to launch Legal Zoom and appeared in court only on alternate Wednesdays.

All along you thought this stuff was true.  Fool you once, shame on you. Fool you a thousand times, still shame on you.  We’re just doing our job.

There are three areas of coverage that deserve special mention:

  1. Weather. Weather forecasts routinely predict conditions that either don’t develop or develop later than they’re supposed to.  Do you think that’s an accident? Think again.  The forecasters are just showing off their spiffy new graphics.  No one can do anything about the weather.
  2. Sports: with interest flagging in football and baseball games lasting forever, sports reporters have to do something to justify their existence. Hence we get fake stories about football injuries and steroid use in major league baseball.  Pishposh.  We make it all up.

  1. Technology:  the saddest part of reporting on technology is that the geeks who report on it are ripe for payoffs but so enthralled with their subject that they’ll do the sugar coated stories without so much as a free cup of coffee.

There.  It’s all out.  Now you know that all news is illusion and that we do it on purpose. To us newsies, every day is April Fool’s.

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

1744 Sloan's Big Idea

When Alfred Sloan of GM invented planned obsolescence, he understood that "upgrades" were a crap shoot.  The public would decide whether it was worth trading in their 1947 Pontiacs for the "new, improved" 1948 Pontiacs.  Sloan bet they would want to and he was right for the most part.

In this age, crap shoots are reserved for casinos including the various financial markets.  But planned obsolescence was no longer adequate and enforced obsolescence took its place.

The shine of newness has dulled.  But the need to sell stuff has not diminished.  So now rather than entice you, companies force you to buy new stuff.  

Hence a perfectly good computer operating system like Windows XP was costing Microsoft multi millions of dollars each year as people decided there was no reason to "upgrade."

Plausible deniability.  New systems added actual improvements to some computer functions. And always with forced marched you to buy new gizmos to because your old ones no longer worked with the new software.

You “upgraded” to Vista which should have been called “Dizasta” and then to WIN7 which actually was better.  So much so that when WIN8 appeared you could still specify the much better “7” and you had to pay extra for the “downgrade.”  Eight was worse than “Dizasta” to the point where Microsoft distanced itself by skipping 9 and going directly to ten, which everyone says is “7” in a better dress.

It’s not just cars and computer operating systems. Almost everything is subject to planned obsolescence.

The makers of Gibson guitars were in love with the word “advanced.”  Basically, here’s what happened:  they came out with a new model.  When sales slowed, they made a slightly bigger version and called it “advanced.”  They had more “advanced” stuff than a Monopoly game.  That extra inch?  Not much of an advancement.  But they sold a lot of wood that way.

What is the difference between an MP3 and an MP4?  One. And not much else.

Can you see the “improvement” of a Blu Ray disc over a DVD?  Do you get better care than you used to from Northwell Health than you did when it was merely North Shore Hospital?

And finally, would Alfred P. Sloan have gotten a better education at MIT/Sloan than he did at Brooklyn Poly?

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