Saturday, November 22, 2014

Where Were You?

Nov 22, 1963.  Dallas.  A rifle.  A shot.  And the path of history changed in an instant.  If you are of a certain age, can you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing?  I sure do.

I was in college, had taken a semester off and was working in the shipping department of U.S. Electrical Motors in L.A..  One of the line workers came into the office and said, "The president's been shot."  In the shocked silence, a woman named Rugh, who worked on the motor serial desk, a rabid, racist Republican who would have fit in perfectly at a particularly looney Tea Party rally, leaned back in her chair, clapped her hands, laughed and said, "Well, they finally got that son of a bitch!"

The silence in the room went on forever.

It wasn't until years later that I began to comprehend exactly what she represented.  And while she has been long dead, her ghost never died.  It's alive and well and is operating overtime today. Some ugly things in America just never die.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ah, Politics, Politics

Well, good for Obama.  By issuing his executive orders on a segment of immigration policy, he’s given at least a little relief to millions of people . . . for now . . . and that’s a good thing. 

Republicans will now go back into their rooms, refuse to do anything  for the next two years, and sulkily blame Obama for their inaction.  Not that anybody will notice , since that’s what they’ve been doing for the past six years.  Since this is a Congress unfit to govern, then perhaps not governing is a very good thing.

Now, the interesting thing to see will be whether the friends of all those millions of people this executive order is helping (and/or their friends)  will vote Republican in 2016 or stay home in sizeable enough numbers that will help get a Republican congress AND Republican president elected. That will be something to see.  Serpents teeth, ungrateful children and all that.

Meanwhile in upstate New York, residents there have been buried under tons of snow, it’s going to heat up Monday when they’re likely going to be buried under tons of water.  So, here’s the question:  Are they paying attention to the issue of Climate change now? Is the rest of the country?

Speaking of Politics

The sad drama that played out in Arroyo Grande has come to a quiet end . . . . for now.  The Tribune reports that the A.G. city council accepted city manager Steve Adams’s resignation offer and placed him on immediate administrative leave.  If you recall, he and Community Development Director Teresa McClish were found by the cops alone together at City Hall late at night, apparently both sobering up enough to drive home after attending a social event.

The incident blew up into a melee and prompted an expensive outside investigation, which concluded that there was no evidence that the two were engaged in an “inappropriate or romantic relationship,” but , most interestingly, did find that “a significant number of city employees who were interviewed perceived that there was ‘something more than just a casual or business manager-subordinate relationship between the two.’”

Which gets us back to the eternal heart of the dangers that lurk along the pathways of all who serve in the public eye:  Caesar’s Wife.

She, you remember, understood well that not only did she need to actually be above suspicion, she had to appear to be above suspicion. In the real world, that’s often a hard, but necessary task.

Arroyo Grande resident Will Power was reported as saying that this whole brouhaha and the way it was handled created “’a cheap, cynical attitude toward city government [that] has affected many residents,’ leading to a stampede of judgment, which resulted in an expensive, unnecessary investigation.”

“Newly elected members to city government should know that you will be presumed guilty until proven innocent,” he said.”

Good advice from Mr. Power, even though I think he meant it as a criticism of what he views as an unfair state of politics.  I, on the other hand, take that advice as totally sound, something that should be taken seriously.

If you’re an elected official or are serving in the public eye, you should be presumed guilty until you can prove yourself to be otherwise. Failure to take Caesar’s Wife to heart is something you do at your own peril.  Perception IS reality.  It’s all simply part of the job description, so stop wining and mind your P’s and Q’s.

Being in the public eye, being in politics has always been a hard, unpredictable game for big boys and girls.  So, time to don those grownup panties.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Aw Dang!  I wanted President Obama to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill so I could see Senator Mitch McConnell's head explode. But Congress beat me to it; the Senate defeated the bill . . . for now.  Dang!

Then I wanted President Obama to issue his executive order on immigration so I could watch John Boehner's head explode, but I guess I'll have a wait a bit for that. Maybe that will happen in time for Christmas.  What a present!

Of course, the immigration thing will also cause Senator Ted Cruz's head to explode, after which he'll start impeachment proceedings, which will cause all the Democrats' heads to explode.  Which is going to make the floors in Congress pretty messy, and that's why I'm now heavily investing in several major cleaning service businesses. 

I'll also have to wait for the Supreme Court to rule on the health care issue.  I want them to rule so that Obamacare can be totally dismantled so "Freeeeedom!" will prevail and all those millions of people who now have health care will lose it.  And everyone else can return to the good old days when they could be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, or be tossed off their insurance when their illnesses got too expensive, or go bankrupt when they got ill.  Since "everybody" hates Obamacare (except those who actually have it; most of them are satisfied with their coverage) I say, get rid of it and make the insurance companies very happy. Then everyone can return to harping about how awful our medical care system is while doing nothing about fixing it.  And we can go back to choosing between buying food or paying for our medicines.  Like God intended.

Once the Republicans take over both houses of Congress in January,  I'm hoping all regulations and restrictions on gas, coal, oil  are lifted (More Freeeeedom!) and we start burning every last bit of it -- especially that really, really dirty tar sand oil that the XL pipeline will be bringing across America to be sold overseas. I also want lots of oil spills from that pipeline.  Oil spills are job creators! 

And I want us to bring back the SUV!  We need to drive more!  It's Burn, America, Burn. And I want every nation on earth (especially China and India) do the same. The bigger the burn, the faster the weather will change.  And I want the weather to change because the sooner it does, the sooner Senator Jim Inhofe's beloved state (Oklahoma) will be wiped off the face of the earth by super tornadoes generated by Global Warming (which he doesn't believe in) and so I want to see if, standing amidst the rubble, he finally "gets it" and that causes his head to explode.

Right now, polar bear numbers are dropping by 40%.  We've got to do better than that, people.  There's oil under that ice so the quicker we get rid of the ice, the quicker we can get to that oil. It's a matter of national security now because we'll soon be fighting global Resource Wars -- food, water, energy, governmental collapse, massive immigration, disease -- so we'll need all the oil we can get.

Otherwise all our heads will explode and the only thing that will be left on our self-destroyed planet will be cockroaches and dead-battery iPhones.   

Monday, November 17, 2014


If you’ve ever seriously pursued the arts –- dance, music, theatre, fine arts , or been deeply committed to mastering a sport , or experienced a tough teacher who demanded nothing but your best and tolerated no excuses -- then Whiplash is a film that will resonate  powerfully with you.

It’s a familiar theme (think “Fame,” “Drumline”)— A musical drama about a talented, hot-shot kid (Miles Teller) attending “the finest musical school in the country,” determined to be the best at his art form (drumming) who learns a lesson about the often lethal demands The Muse and The Maestro (J. K. Simmons at his fearsome best) can make on their acolytes.

Add into this mix another question:  How far can/should a teacher go to ensure one of his students not only achieves his own personal best, but breaks through to “greatness?”

As those issues play out, the viewer is given a cringe-worthy glimpse into what it can take to master any art form that demands peak performance – the grinding, exhausting mastery of the basics, the harrowing discipline required, and the dreams broken by the cruel, inexorable winnowing of “good enough” from “excellent,” from  “great.”

And asks the hard questions:  Who pays the price for greatness?   What’s the cost of failure? And is it worth it?   

Sunday, November 16, 2014