Friday, November 28, 2014

1415 A Murder in Ferguson, Missouri

Let’s get a few little things out of the way first.

--Peaceful protests do no harm but often little good.

--The only beneficiaries of a riot are the rebuilding companies and the bill collectors.

--Then, there’s the old lawyer joke: “Given the will, any district attorney can indict a ham sandwich.”

--Michael Brown, 18, was not the kind of guy you’d ask to watch your handbag when you had to use the restroom in the diner.

--Darren Wilson, 28, probably could be trusted to watch the handbag.  But at a traffic stop, you’d want to make sure the dash cam in his patrol car was running and in focus.

--Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has held that job since 1991 and is the son of a St. Louis police officer killed in the line of duty.  McCulloch is known locally as “the policeman’s best friend.”

--McCullough also is president of a group called “Backstoppers.”  It makes contributions to police, fire, EMS workers killed or injured in the line of duty.  According to published reports, Backstoppers benefitted from the sale of “Support Darren Wilson” t-shirts with proceeds going to his defense.  Backstoppers denies this.

Too bad Wilson isn’t a ham sandwich.  Because if he were, he’d be where he belongs which is behind bars.

It’s been said in some quarters that McCullough is what happens when you elect the village idiot.  This of course is untrue.  McCullough is tainted, but his errors of omission in this case were not bumbling or bungling. They were clever. They were devious.

Did the grand jury ever hear that Brown was not only an unsavory thug who may have beaten the owner of a small convenience store while stealing smokes, but was unarmed?  Apparently not.

They got a collective belly full of the unsavory thug and robber part, alright.  But not the unarmed part.  They may have known that anyway because the evil media covered it pretty thoroughly considering the story is about an 18 year old dead black kid.  But they never heard it out of an official mouth.

McCullough lobbed his hamwich of conflicting witness testimony on the table and said, in effect, “sort this stuff out for yourselves ladies and gentlemen. Get back to me when you have a decision.”

A typically enthusiastic prosecutor would have let the jurors know he wanted to put gunslinger Wilson on trial for pulling the trigger 12 -- count ‘em 12 -- times.

He would have thundered and rumbled and instilled his enthusiasm in the grand jurors who surely would have voted for an indictment.

Question: You ever buy a bag of white rice and find some stray grains of brown or black rice in it?  It happens.  This is not just about rice.  It’s also is a graphic description of the Ferguson police department. And of a grand jury that needed seven votes among the ten members to hand up a decision.  The grand jury was seven white people and three black.

Not everyone always votes on color lines. But such is the separation of majority blacks and minority whites in this town that it can almost be guaranteed in a case like this.

Do you think McCullough is going to convene a second grand jury?  And before you bleat about double jeopardy, that applies only if there’s a guilty verdict in a formal charge or an un-coerced confession which is the same thing as a conviction if it happens before or during a trial.

No indictment means no charge which means no trial and no verdict, hence no double jeopardy. But the prosecutor has to want a second bite. Are you willing to hold your breath until this one does?

In any event, with Michael the evil Giant out of the way, you don’t have to be as careful of where you leave your purse … if you can find a place to set it down amid the physical and emotional ruin that once was Ferguson, Missouri.
---

And now, the Wessays™ Guide to things you can say if you agree with the grand jury decision and don’t want to be … um … mistaken for a racist:

- “A crime is a crime and the color doesn’t matter.”  --Talk show guest.

- “(Michael Brown) looked like a demon.”  -- Police officer Darren Wilson.

- “We need to tackle criminal justice reform.”
-- Barack Obama.

- “This (riot) was … a strategic plan…” -- Rush
Limbaugh.

- (The autopsy report showed) “...Michael Brown had marijuana in his system when he died.” --Newsmax.com.

- “...this isn’t  a metaphor for police brutality or race repression or anything else, and never was. Aided and abetted by a compliant national media, the Ferguson protestors (sic) spun a dishonest or misinformed version of what happened.” -- Politico quoted by the National Review.

-“The riotess situation in Ferguson… has been hijacked by the media and diluted the real issue…”
--Former NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerick on the Steve Malzberg radio show, quoted by Newsmax.

-”That was one gutsy grand jury.” -- NYPost Editorial 11/25/14.

-”If Brown had surrendered, he’d be alive today.” -- too many sources to single out one.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

1414 The News Bar

This corner of the room has long said that no news organization can be excellent unless it’s in staggering distance from at least one decent saloon.

But that’s not what this is about.  Wine lovers have their fancy restaurants.  Sports lovers have a wide selection of sports bars.

But news junkies are out in the cold.

Think about it.  You want to watch baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, even chess… you have your choice of places to get sloshed.

And it’s all on TV. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN342, Fox Sports, Fox Sports Regional.  MLB network, HBO, NHL Network, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Bleacher Report, and on and on.

But news junkies have their networks, too. CNN, HLN, MSNBC, Faux, CNBC, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, the Weather Channel, Russia Today and CCTV in English from China.   And for thoroughly modern news watchers, there’s E!
So while we’re outnumbered, we’re not outgunned.

But where are the specialty bars?

You want to see the Jets or the Penguins, you go to Biff’s Bar or Tug’s House of Sports or something named for some washed up ex player for the Atlanta Braves or the Washington Redskins.  (Attention PC police, note the example teams.)

Where is the Murrow Lounge?  Or Huntley & Brinkley’s Steak House and News Tavern? Or Farley’s House of Jameson and Stout? (No ice or we’ll throw you out.)

Just imagine what any of this would look like.  Dark wood, low lights.  A dozen big screen TVs scattered around, all with the sound up just as they are in a gazillion saloons called “The Dugout” or “The Gridiron.”

Come on in and cheer your team.  The Republicans. The Democrats.  The Military Industrial Complex.   The cops, the robbers, the snowstorm, the heatwave, the bus or plane or train accident.  No matter where you live, you could stop in and get into the bag while you watch Jodi Arias claim she didn’t kill her lover and wasn’t even there.  Or she was there but it was two people in Ninja costumes who did it.  Or she was there and she did it but it was self defense.

It’s much better to watch that kind of thing in the company of similar fans and while numbing yourself with Jim Beam.

Afghanistan, Ukraine, Israel, OPEC, global warming, riots, epidemics, vanishing airliners and kidnapped kids all become less depressing when viewed through the haze of 100 proof vodka.

Then, there’s the picking up and hooking up aspect.  If you’re wearing a Yankee jersey in The Play Ball Lounge, and she’s wearing a Red Sox hat, you know better than to approach.

Team clothing is optional in The Newsroom Cafe.  So you have to be brave and take your chances.

Or just keep your eye on the big screen.

Shrapnel:


--OPEC is about to meet.  They’re going to “decide” on prices as oil continues to tumble.”  And they choose Vienna because it’s far away from every oil producing country… a little bit of show off to show how they can be petroleum spendthrifts and you can’t.

--Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Don’t overeat.  It’ll slow you when you battle the crowds on Black Friday.

--Because of the nature of the radio/TV beast, I’ve worked Thanksgiving and every other holiday you can name.  But others shouldn’t have to. Please stay home on Thanksgiving Day.

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

© WJR 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

1413 To Change a Light Bulb

How many lawmakers does it take to change a light bulb?  The answer: 329.

On Thursday, January 18, 2007, the House passed the Energy Act that eliminated the 100 watt bulb.  Two hundred sixty four yea votes.  About six months later, on Thursday, June 21st, the act drew 65 “yeas” in the Senate.

The Senate could have dragged things out a bit.  The final tally was announced at about 11:30 PM that day.  But Senators and Congress Creatures don’t “work” on Fridays.  That’s a day to return home to attend weekend ribbon cuttings, photo ops and other campaign events in their districts.

A smashing victory for bipartisan cooperation.

This law changed the light bulb.  And it changed us.

Beneath the flag of energy conservation and saving money, they threw us into dimness.

The effects of the law have just recently started to show their full effect.  Energy saving light bulbs do not work as well as what they’re replacing.

Sharp operators were out the door in the cold of January, ‘07.  They were stocking up on 100 watt bulbs.  Hoarding them.  Hiding them.  Selling them at prices Thomas Edison never dreamed of. Prices that even General Electric never dreamed of.

On a recent morning, we found almost 400 offers on eBay and about 100 more on Amazon.  You will find zero offers on the store shelves.

What you will find is a jumble of substitutes.  Or supposed substitutes.

Warm, bright, natural light…
Deciding on which is a terrible fright.

There are those corkscrew things that poison you if they break and you don’t call the hazmat team to clean up your mercury spill.

There are the LED bulbs that claim to match the old 100 watters.

There are incandescent bulbs of about 72 watts that make the same claim.

There are some you can dim, others you can’t and still others that do it by themselves.  The corkscrews lie when they say “instant on.” They achieve full brightness faster than earlier versions.  But they still fade up.  Slowly. Sometimes they barely light at all until they feel like it.  (Yes, light bulbs have feelings, too!)

And you have to learn a new skill: interpreting “lumens.” Lumen is a measure of emitted light.  A 100 watt bulb usually is rated at about 1500 lumens. It can be a bit more or a bit less depending on whether it’s warm or cool or something in between.

The 72 watt bulbs that scream “same light as a 100 watt bulb” usually throw off about 1000-1100 lumens.  So not only do they turn down the lights (for atmosphere?) but they should also turn down the scream.

A 1500 lumen LED -- light emitting diode -- bulb costs about $20 and that’s way below earlier prices.  But a 100 watt incandescent bulb (when you could get one) cost about a dollar.

It’s kind of hard to justify buying a light bulb for 20 bucks.  It feels funny.

“But, but, but … it lasts for twelve million years.”  No it doesn’t.  Read the fine print.  If there’s enough light and a magnifying glass handy.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

1412 Cosby

Even in his mega-star years there was one thing Bill Cosby never had to worry about.  He need never have feared he’d awaken, open his bedroom door and be overrun by a stampede of women eager to push him back onto the bed.


If true, all the dirt that has surfaced about him -- sometimes resurfaced --  makes you wonder what goes on in his head.


But a mega star he was.  Rich, famous and beloved.  Now, it turns out, rich, famous, beloved family man, Cliff Huxtable -- Dr. Huxtable -- was prescribing and dosing patients with more than “two aspirins and call me in the morning.”


Nothing like a couple of roofies to knock a doc off the pedestal.  If he actually did it.


If it was one woman one time and the case was settled and everyone is keeping silent, it still would be terrible. But it still would be one thing.  Now,  there are too many charges to just ignore.


Yes, innocent until proven guilty.  But.


Cosby is 77, and his career is still in high gear.  Or at least it was getting back there until recently.


Netflix was planning a comedy special for him.  NBC was developing a series.  Those have been scrapped.  TV Land has stopped showing reruns of “The Cosby Show.” He backed out of a booking on Letterman.  Circling the wagons.


What he didn’t back out of was an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon.  When Simon questioned him about the allegations, Cosby clammed up.


There was no comment, not even a throw away “no comment.”  Just silence.  Long silences are capital crimes in radio.  But Simon -- a decent and professional interviewer -- couldn’t even force a grunt out of Cosby, let alone an answer or defense.


The comment not heard around the world.


Back to that lack of a lineup outside the bedroom door:  If Bill Cosby felt he needed sex from a stranger, it couldn’t have been all that difficult to come by.  After all, star, rich, famous.


But to impose himself -- if that’s what he did -- on unconscious women in his hotel rooms or rental cottages is a career ender.  Maybe even if he didn’t.


Silent screen star Fatty Arbuckle was tried three times for rape and manslaughter after a woman died following a party he threw in 1921.


The first two juries hung.  The third acquitted.  Arbuckle was a pioneer comic, one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.  He coached Charlie Chaplin, discovered Bob Hope and Buster Keaton.  But after the acquittal, his star died.


Cosby is heading in the same direction no matter what happens in a courtroom or behind the locked doors of a settlement conference in the carpeted mahogany paneled office of a Hollywood lawyer.


And whatever he did or didn’t do, his actions now show contempt for his audience, the same audience who made him rich, famous and beloved.  In show business, no court ruling is necessary and no recovery is possible.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

1411 Reach for the Floor

Here it is, people, the self help advice that can get you ahead in today’s complicated, lopsided world.


They’ve told us all along “reach for the stars.”  Bah-Loney! Reach for the floor.


The only way to get by these days is to become filthy rich or to become filthy poor.  Since the former is out of the question for most of us, consider the latter.


The first thing to do is get rid of that job if you have one.  Get fired. Collect unemployment comp.  Since you’ll be jobless, you’ll have only one real asset to squander: time.


And that’s good.  You can sit in the waiting area at the emergency room all day, because what else are you going to do with your time, wash your BMW?  Presto: free medical care.  It just takes awhile.  They can’t turn you away.


Food stamps!  Not poor enough? Shed assets. Reach for the floor.  There’s nothing stopping you but your own fear.

Remember what Reagan taught us: Ketchup is a vegetable.


Remember what Napoleon Hill taught us:  If you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.  In this case, it doesn’t even take hard work and dedication.


Need help with your heating this winter?  If you’re working for Mickey D 15 hours a week, you’re not quite poor enough to qualify.  So ditch that unwanted job and get your fuel oil on the cheap.


Don’t work hard, work smart!  Drain that bank account.  Break that CD before deadline.  You’ll lose some interest.  But these days the only interest that’s paid is chump change. Certificates of deposit have become like savings accounts:  just take out what you need.  


(In a savings account, you not only withdraw at will, you can deposit.  But you won’t have anything to deposit, so that’s an irrelevant consequence.)


Reach for the floor.  Obey the law of gravity!  Things go down for a reason. Don’t try climbing up. It’s not worth the effort.
Think about it.  All this striving to get to wherever it is you got?  What has it really gotten you besides not being rich enough or poor enough to live decently?


At root, having others pay for your benefits is the most important characteristic the rich and the poor share.  


So forget this “reach for the stars” stuff.  Reach for the floor:  it’s right there for the taking.  It’s right under your feet.  It’s like … falling down.


Shrapnel:


--So the Democrats got together and managed to kill the Keystone Pipeline, at least for now.  Good work, boys and girls.  But it’ll be back, so what’s your “plan B and where were you when we needed you for really important stuff?


--And where were you when we first learned that killer airbags were our undeclared and uninvited passengers?  Now, they want a national recall. Fasten your seatbelts, and buy a helmet.


--Arms dealers in Ferguson, Missouri report a sales boomlet.  Everyone’s breath- holding,  awaiting a grand jury decision on whether to charge the cop who shot and killed the kid.  Talk about damned if they do and damned if they don’t.


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

© WJR 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

1410 Johnny Chips in Gangland Amusement Park

(Moote Point NY) -- Johnny Chips from South Moote Pointe had a lot of Big Ideas, and none of them worked except one which really really worked and for a long time kept him so busy he didn’t have time to come up with anything new and failure- prone.


But today, Johnny’s going to Atlantic City to scout out the turf and see if maybe the one he had the other day can work, and make him even richer.


Of course, given the state of Atlantic City these days, Johnny may not get as far as he’d like, though you’d never know.


One of the Big Ideas that didn’t work was about Cholesterol.  He noticed that there were maybe five or six fast food joints on his street, all in a row, and every day the trucks from United Cholesterol and Cholesterol Partners and FatAmerica came along and delivered liquid cholesterol to each of the joints on the block. (Bet you didn’t know they added the stuff fresh to every bite!)


Johnny Chips figured he could centralize the operation, so he built a great big vat down the street, and strung a polyvinyl chloride pipe from one fast food joint to the next.  Then he offered all the places his pipe passed a discount if they would have their cholesterol piped in instead of trucked.


But there were a couple of things he didn’t count on.  First, everyone had contracts.  Second, the trucks were run by guys who carried .38s as part of their sales kits.


The worst of it was one morning when the polyvinyl chloride pipe sprung a leak all over Burger King’s newly- cut sod lawn, killed all the grass and spilled the cholesterol all over the place.  It was a terrible mess and Johnny was a long time cleaning it up.  Went through thousands of pounds of old newspapers and thousands of rolls of Quicker Picker Upper towels.


And he got really mad at the Home Depot guy who sold him the pipe and told him it would never leak.


So after it’s all cleaned up, Johnny brings the leaky part back to the guy at The Home Depot and says “Thought this stuff never leaked.”
    
And the Home Depot guy takes a look at the hole and says “This was made by a .38.”
The Next Big Idea was the one that worked.  Johnny rents a big empty lot in the neighborhood and he puts up an amusement park and he calls it “Gangland.”


The people come from all over to visit Gangland, where there’s free admission every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3PM to closing.


You go to the Gangland Social Club, and that’s where you buy your tickets.  For five bucks, you get into a bumper car and try to elude the cops as you tool around the lot, passing stop signs, disobeying the speed limit, making left turns from right lanes, that sort of thing.


For ten, you get a stocking mask, a water pistol and the right to go stick up the fake 7-11.  That’s a popular one.  Everyone wants to stick up a 7-11.


Fifteen bucks gets you a marked deck at the Gangland Casino.  For $20 they bust you for prostitution or counterfeiting, your choice.

But the best one of all Murder Alley, where you can actually fake a murder, be brought to trial and get sentenced to the chair.  This one has a waiting list.


Gangland is so popular, and Johnny Chips gets so rich that he’s got to find another Big Idea, because he just can’t sit still.


So now he’s going to try to convince the gaming commission to let him set up the Big Board Casino in Atlantic City.


No regular games.  No roulette, no slots, no blackjack or craps or any of that stuff.  No. This joint will look like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, except no real stocks.  You buy into fake companies and sell them, and just like in the real world, they go up and down.  Sometimes it’s fixed, sometimes not.


Customer could walk away with a bundle, get the thrill of the trade and still not really lose his shirt.


The Gaming Commission and the Governor probably won’t like it.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

1409 Hunting With Scotus

The Justices of the US Supreme Court have cancelled their planned hunting trip.  It’s not that Scalia doesn’t want to be seen with Cheney in public again.  It’s not even that Thomas can’t get a hunting license without a photo i.d.  It’s just that they’ve had a better idea.

First some background. Last year, the justices decided there were too many people, especially wrong minded people.  People who, say, didn’t believe that money equals speech.  People who think Arizona went overboard with its proposition 100 which bars holding people here illegally without bail.  And people who are still whining about putting G.W. Bush in office in 2000.

So here’s what they did:  they ordered catalogs for themselves and their clerks and other staff members.  Eddie Bauer, LL Bean… you know… outdoorsy kinds of things.  Some got subscriptions to Guns & Ammo.

Some of justice Thomas’ staff approached him and asked why they were getting this mail. Justice Thomas said nothing.  So they did the next best thing, they went to justice Antonin “Tony Ducks” Scalia who informed them they’d be going hunting.  Thinning the population. Performing a great service for their country.  And they’d be joined by at least four and possibly five or six of the judges.

Justice Sotomayor declined. Because she’s relatively new, she said she didn’t have enough accumulated vacation time.  Justice Ginsburg declined and said her arthritis acts up in the cold and damp.  And with Tony Ducks on board there were bound to be accidents.

So the hunting trip is off, the subscriptions have been cancelled and the catalogs un-subscribed from.

But overpopulation remains a problem high on the court’s agenda.  So they figured out a new plan.

There is a grammatical oversight in the Affordable Care Act that could end some federal subsidies to the holders of health insurance.

“We can use that,” said one justice speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to announce a decision before it’s published, “to get more of those useless poor people dead and in pauper’s graves early.  They’ll stop burdening our health care systems. They’ll stop moaning about income inequality. And best of all, they won’t be able to vote.”

He continued:  “...those who can’t get that socialist insurance will be forced more deeply into poverty and have to spend so much time working their three part- time minimum wage jobs they won’t have the energy to pester us with their frivolous complaints.”

Another justice was unhappy with the pre-decision and even more unhappy that the Guns & Ammo subscription was cancelled.  “My nephews liked to read it when they came over to visit.  I try to encourage them to read.”

Shrapnel:

--Got another “free gift” offer.  No thanks.  Some of us would rather pay for stuff people want to give us.

--As newspapers are cutting back, the Boston Globe announced it would soon start printing a stand alone business section.  One more well- edited voice is welcome in an era when most get their financial news from radio flakes and wobbly- thinking websites.

--One radio voice that is not trying to sell you books, advice or get rich schemes is closing down.  The Wall Street Journal report, heard on many stations, will be shutting of the mic at the end of the year.  You can only think “yeah, right” when the Journal says radio no longer fits its core business.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014