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Wednesday, March 22, 2017
   
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The Boiling Frog

The Boiling Frog

It is said, drop a frog in boiling water and he’ll jump right out but allow him to hang in the water as you turn up the heat gradually and he’ll succumb.  Follow the Frog as it unearths political and societal struggles, trying to stay afloat and keep cool in a boiling brew.

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Come on Man! The New Orleans Times Picayune called it tough talk from the Mayor but is sounds like suspended reality for everyone who finds the crime wave in New Orleans totally unacceptable.  The Mayor's statement is more of the same from a guy who finds his comfort zone sitting in the crowd complaining about crime from the outside instead of getting the right people in position to bring the professionalism he so often says is his hallmark.  The failure of this New Orleans city administration to wrap up crime and send it packing says volumes about how the mayor views crime and his role in general. The City has had more than its share of crime and an education system that left little resources on the table for under served populations.  But as crime often does, its creeping shadow into neighborhoods of privilege have prompted the mayor to ridicule his city as having a "culture of crime." Come on man! Statements like this may be psychologically comforting and it may be politically smart to play like one of the people by criticizing "the City" for its culture but that is far from leading.  Killings on Canal St, the French Quarter, the Lower Garden District, Bywater, Marigny, New Orleans East, are THE agenda not fodder for political rhetoric. These shameful acts of violence didn't measure priority status when they were in the realm of run down tenement slums and where the killing was confined to seedy zones. But it did bother professionals and big business decades ago, who left in droves to built their corporate skyscrapers in Houston and Atlanta, places where they could encourage a strong education to lift all of society, while undergirding strong, diverse andy prospering economies.  Not everyone grew up like the few who remain in the city and send their kids to schools behind walls. Smart cities build mass transit, and better neighborhoods and erect ladders to success for all, yes, even for minority populations who, when all else fails, kill us and kill each other.  Smart cities are not about tall talking but on the ground action. That is what leadership is all about, not whining with repeated rhetoric about what a culture of crime we face by the city's fast talking mayor.  Quite frankly, saying that we are all in this together and rolling out school yard examples to fight crime misses the "feel good" boat and makes the frog boil.
I read a really disappointing USA TODAY front page story, "A Decade of War," that missed the point that we have been at war for generations, not a decade. There can be no honor in older generations sending their young into endless battles to die. As a nation, we have resorted to justifying a legacy of war and no one seems to have the guts to pull the plug on the enormous human and financial suffering brought to America by war. in a perverse view of patriotism, war has been linked to homeland security and loyalty, where questioning the budgets of either is positioned as unpatriotic. With runaway spending for so-called security, we pay taxes to limit our freedoms at home and create a cloud of anxiety. My view is that a peaceful nation is honorable. We have to be smart enough to quit apologizing decades later for the the heartaches caused by foolish warring. We are on a path to the dark side of history again, and the best way to honor our fallen countrymen is to build a living monument, a future free of war for which we can all be proud. Why can't we just push the pause button and start doing the honorable thing? It makes the frog boil.
Wednesday, 03 August 2011

BANDITS OF A BAD ECONOMY


As we share compassion for our fellow man being mugged in a bad economy, save your tears for one profession cashing in at the bank of the ruined economy.  The misery being spread by our elected “leaders” is funneling millions into the lobbying shops of Washington and state houses. 

 

To be a lobbyist when nothing is getting done and there is heightened tension and partisanship is like being a pig in slop.  Fear brings out the checkbooks of the big forces in our down economy, health and pharmaceuticals, banking and financial institutions, manufacturing and public works, labor unions and big business… and it never stops. 

 

If you are a really top-flight lobbyist, you’ve scared the hell out of your fat cat clients and convinced those without representation that they need to be on the inside through your contacts and influence in high circles.  So, you rake in the loot while copying and pasting daily reports from Capitol Hill are receiving pay back from those staffers that you’ve fattened up over lunch or if not allowed by spending limits (even better for lobbyists bottom line), at the bar.

 

One thing we must credit Obama for is knowing that the world of the lobbyist is a hidden, dark and scary place, where moles of the system have junior clerks or former agency staff crank out the sheets of legislative language that serve those who pay them most.  The paper walks it way into the capitol and suddenly bills and amendments appear.  Oh, they didn’t teach you that part in civics?

 

How can that be?  I’ve heard lobbyists boast in some cigar clubs that they have one airline, five manufacturers, one railroad, several cities and a country.  It’s like monopoly on a grand scale.  There are few rules and, if you want to hear a snicker, ask for their rate sheet.  That is usually determined by the fear index, right?

 

So what do you think the rate sheet is for our current financial crisis, where nothing good will come to any of us?  What do you think the rate sheet was for creating the language for laws that lead to hedge funds and the financial meltdown?  What do you thing the rates were for keeping the Iraqi war in gear and adding two more wars to boot? 

 

We are in trouble, folks, while a cynical gang of Republicans and Democrats find glee, often together in the same firms who really want it all, and toast their good fortunes of our bad fortunes.

 

So, get smart and put the puzzle pieces together in an age of billion dollar campaigns, manipulation of election finance laws to allow multiple ways of bringing big bucks into incumbent campaigns, and the toxic waste of partisanship that undermines the American dream. 

 

Meanwhile, the Frog is boiling.

Monday, 29 November 2010

DEMOCRACY’S DEMOLITION DERBY

From film's celluloid closet, the often spoofed scene where windows are thrown open and common folk scream, "I'm mad as he'll and I'm not gonna take it anymore," fits an America awash in greed, cynicism and selfishness.  A nation founded on puritanical ideals has managed to fuel hate by hijacking Christian values in order to ensure a house divided. It is with relished glee that partisans vie to say hateful things about our democracy, all the while clamoring for TV and radio jock time to spew venom disguised as patriotism.  Even Obama appointees like former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, can't help but use his "respected" voice to undermine confidence in our nation. 

 

Paul Krugman writes in his New York Times column, "So here’s what the very serious Mr. Simpson said on Friday: ‘I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. ... When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ meaning spending cuts. ‘And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,’ he continued. Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize."

 

The recent shellacking of Democrats said more about political arrogance than anything in our history. Minnesota Congressional fixture for decades, James Oberstar, who had his House keys taken away, said,  "I guess we just weren't listening enough." Well, fiddle de dee fiddle de dumb; Rome burns while you play that same old tired love song. And as a going away token, those left standing in your party decide to gift the nation by reelecting former Speaker Pelosi to another term to all but prove that cronies in the party of asses need a box of Q-tips.

 

Republicans are clueless and snug, lining up with their plastic talking points like some army preparing to attack their fellow citizens. If the Democrats are a party of unabated cronyism, then the Republicans are the standard-bearers of a hateful ideology and dialogue.  Look throughout history, people, and you will find that fundamentalism is a strangling force whether used for personal power or to divide and conquer.  Both political parties denounce it as radical, subversive, destructive on the international scene, but revel in its adherence for their own sordid purposes and use against their fellow Americans. 

 

America's flirtation with being independent is an unwavering patriot instinct, not a move to hysteria by a gang of Fourth of July masqueraders. People are registering independent for two reasons - Republicans and Democrats. They are failing, strangling our country for their personal and political gain while tearing our country asunder. They are using fear as a tactic.  Sound familiar? They are creating mass anxiety? Who fits that bill? And both parties are spending us into oblivion whether justified on a war(s) or saving the scalp of big, powerful interests.   

 

Politics should not be a blood sport.  It is not the NFL.  It is about our nation, born of a view that all are created equal and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Quit killing the American dream. Stop taking our freedoms away from us, because we, not you, are paying the price for your infidelity and we're boiling mad.          

 

Sunday, 13 June 2010

THE FALL OF HELEN

For longer than I can remember I have been watching Helen Thomas hail zingers at Presidents and White House Press Secretaries.  The slight woman with the sharp tongue and hair right off the rack of a second hand store was the dean of the press corps and as such got the first question.  Hers was a unique role no one else occupied and rare in these days where age is insignificant.  But poison words would eventually be her suicide, giving her politically incorrect personal ideas about the Middle East and having her first chair taken away.

 Poor Helen, it was bound to happen in an age where reporters have quit asking the questions but also trying to answer them. I can just imagine her going home after being booted from her life’s work and sitting down to watch the news.  She has to wonder why blabbermouth James Carville with limited political clout gets to stay on assignments after years of inane   commentary from the skeleton figure of questionable accent who nearly leaps out of the TV and scares you to death.  Why, I’m sure she muses, do we allow the likes of Glen Beck to be acceptable, spewing hate and taking unforgivable cheap shots at good people and their families while becoming an icon of hate in our country akin to days in Germany we would rather forget.  And, she must be sick that her reign is ending when egotists like Nancy Grace and Bill O’Reilly, two screaming idiots so self involved that they speak of themselves more than subject matter, are stars in the new age of TV journalism.Too bad Helen.  You got sucked in by these gasbags who lured you into their seedy world, where anything goes to get attention and make a quick buck.  You thought that you could say whatever you wanted and get away with it.  The fact is, you occupied the first chair in America and not the gutter.  And, like those who have honor bestowed upon them, you were a standard bearer of journalistic values in an industry that has “gone to hell in a hand basket,” as you might say.Your mistake Helen was not so much what you said, but that you felt you were important enough to say anything you wanted.  So your punishment is really the disappointment from all of us seeing one of the last fixtures of a substantive press corps bite the dust.  You will go the way of newspapers and magazines and quietly disappear under the thunder of pseudo news profiteers stepping over everyone and American values to rip the nation apart without shame or conscience.  Go find Dan Rather and have a drink.  Reminisce about the days of quality, objective reporting and think about the millions of us who view your departure as the sad end of an era. 
Wednesday, 10 March 2010

THE BIG JOKE

For some time I have been wondering how long it would take to get someone funny on late night TV. The format of the shows seems a bit forced in our less washed world and, well, hairspray for men is so 80’s. 
 
Over time we’ve heard some doozies on the late night talk show circuit but no joke is bigger than the one with this punch line: Conan O’Brien got $32 million plus to exit. 
 
Okay, in the midst of a whacky world, heartbreaking stories from Haiti and Chile and a severe financial crisis, NBC fires someone and gives them nearly $35 big ones. According to rival CBS, “ The biggest immediate plus for NBC in buying-off O’Brien…is that the jokes at its expense will finally stop…”
 
It’s not so much that the big hair goof ball isn’t that funny, it is that we seem to be a nation out of whack with reality. Either that or we have a system of rewards where one of our highest values is paying the biggest bucks for those who sit around and take swipes at everyone and oftentimes cross the lines of integrity themselves. What’s funny about that?
 
Even the cross current of jokes about the whole sordid episode seems twisted. Take this from the other character in the midst of this big deal drama, Jay Leno. “The rain (hitting California in recent days) couldn’t have come at a worse possible time. Today was the day NBC was supposed to burn down the studio for the insurance money.” 
 
Now, we add fraud to greed. Ha, Ha, Ha…the frog isn’t laughing. 

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