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Showing posts from 2016

The Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds had been one of those constant presences, like Betty White, that you just couldn't imagine leaving us.  There aren't many links left to the golden age of Hollywood, and few were as glorious as Debbie -- a woman who could do it all.   One of her most memorable roles was that of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which I remember watching as a child.  It was a mixture of music, dance and drama, which was the staple of Hollywood for so many years.  Here she is lighting up the dance floor with Grover Dale and Gus Trikonis in one of the earlier scenes in the movie before the Titanic found its iceberg.

For her daughter, Carrie Fisher, it must have been very hard to follow in the footsteps of a mom like that.  Wisely, she charted her own course, even if she could never live down that gold bikini in Star Wars.  To see her go earlier in the week was hard on all her fans, but much harder on Debbie, who obviously couldn't bear the emotional weight of the loss of her daughte…

Just trying to hack my way to happiness ; )

It seems that coming up with a clever title is half the battle in having a successful book.  I was listening to a CNN interview with Anna Akbari on her new book, Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way to Happiness, in which she uses the small business model as a means of improving one's life.  Don't let yourself get down over failures, Anna says, just pivot as start-ups so often do, finding success in earlier failures.  But, it seems the major success here is Anna, who found a way to cash in on other peoples' misfortunes.

We're pretty good at that in America.  Much of our economy hinges on being able to take advantage of peoples' insatiable desire to score it big.  The self-help book industry is just one part of it.  Investment bankers, stock traders and many others are always trying to convince you of huge paybacks if you invest in their products.  We now even have a prosperity theology, which convinces persons that if they invest monetarily in God they will…

Parting Words

President Obama sparked a fair bit of controversy by implying he could have won a third term if he ran with the same message he did in 2008 and 2012.  Of course, that was quickly disputed by Donald Trump and his Trumpkins.   Who is to say?  It was such a wacky election cycle that anything was possible.

A lot of blame has been foisted on Hillary for failing to deliver.  Joe Biden even suggested her heart was not in it, which was a pretty strange thing to say given the amount of energy she poured into her campaign.  Obama was more circumspect, saying that the media played a big role in undermining Hillary's campaign.

While the media did in fact play a major role in this debacle, we can't look past the Democratic Party, which failed the last 8 years to build on its 2006 and 2008 victories.  It essentially allowed the Republicans to set the narrative by attacking Obama at every turn.  It reached a point in 2012 and 2014 where Democrats ran away from Obama in state elections only …

Trump Force One

Our President-Elect seems to be having a lot of fun playing Lockheed-Martin off Boeing in his ongoing Twitter wars.  This is a tactic he has used throughout his career.  In his book, Art of the Deal, he boasted how he forced Holiday Inn to buy him out when he made a highly publicized bid to buy them out in the 80s.  He didn't have the capital but it was enough to send stock into frenzy, grossing him 6 bucks on the dollar.  Recently, he sent Boeing and Lockheed stocks into a nosedive by tweeting misleading numbers and making it look like he is trying to negotiate better deals on Air Force One and the notorious F-35's.  However, all he is doing is creating an unnecessary market panic largely for the consumption of the news media.

The Boeing tweets were really something as the new fleet of Air Force One super-planes are scheduled to come in at $2.7 billion, not $4 billion as he stated in his tweets.  He used a number supplied by analysts for rhetorical sake and then made a big s…

So this is Christmas?

Our President-elect sure has a way of compounding tragedy with mean-spirited comments, leaving it up to his minions to explain his positions afterward.  I was watching a Trump spokeswoman on CNN trying her best to downplay his harsh rhetoric these past two days for attacks that took place in Europe.   Once again, he evoked his Muslim ban and called the incident in Berlin an attack on Christianity, before backpedaling and calling it an attack on humanity.

Trump convened a special meeting with his national security adviser, General Flynn, to address the violence in Berlin and Ankara.  As usual, he took the events out of context, projecting them on American soil like he did similar European attacks during his presidential campaign.  In his mind, this affirms his view that Muslims need to be screened.  Somehow, he is able to make just about everything about himself!

It would have been more appropriate for him to send his condolences to Germany and Russia, as President Obama did, and offe…

You Gotta Fight!

Leave it to Lyin' Ted to lash out at Democrats for what he foresees as an "unpresidented" level of obstruction in the years ahead.  It is going to be pretty hard to trump the "Green Eggs and Hams" filibuster but maybe Al Franken can regal the Senate floor with an ongoing "Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley."

If there is anything we have learned this past year it is that obstruction works, so too does obfuscation and a complete disregard for any facts that might stand in your way.  It's not like Democrats have to totally give up on truth, but they do need to do a better job of bending it and completely distorting it if necessary to drive a point home.  As we saw on the Campaign Trail 2016, you can pretty much throw out any facts and figures and dare opponents to refute them.  If you are going to drop truth bombs you better make sure they are going to go off!

On a more practical level, the Democrats need to reclaim their Blue States, starting wi…
For the first time the Russian hacking story is gaining traction in the news.  Even Lindsey Graham took to the political talk show circuit to say he had been hacked too.  He wouldn't go so far as to admit the leaked DNC e-mails gave Trump an unfair advantage.  Good ol' Lindsey was willing to accept the results.

For his part, President Obama used his press conference in part to scold the press for taking the bait rather than questioning the source of these e-mails, Wikileaks.  Obama even went so far as to imply Putin was directly behind the hacks, providing the information to Assange, who in turn released a steady stream of these e-mails over the closing weeks of the campaign.  But, as one NYTimes reporter put it on CNN it is pretty hard to resist all these e-mails describing the inner workings of the DNC.  In the mind of the collective news media, the e-mails were fair game.

This points to the fundamental problem with the news media -- its inability to scrutinize the informat…

"I'm Here to Help"

You can look at the so-called Tech Summit any number of ways.  Most of those who attended have cast the meeting with the President-Elect in a positive light, saying that Trump was willing to listen to their ideas and voiced no notable exceptions to what they had to say.  However, his cabinet picks tell a different story.

Probably the cabinet pick they were most concerned with was Energy, as many of these tech gurus are involved in sustainable energy in one way or another.  Elon Musk has invested heavily in electric cars and his Tesla has become the standard by which all electric cars are measured.  So, you would think that if Trump was genuinely concerned about our sustainable energy future he would pick an advocate.  Instead, he picked Rick Perry.

Former Governor Rick is neck deep in the oil industry.  In fact, he currently sits on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, which is behind the infamous Dakota Access Pipeline.  Some are noting that Perry voiced no objection to wind energ…

As snow fell on New York

Donald said God came to visit him in Trump Tower.  He said it was totally unexpected but there he was in the flesh.  Well, the spirit anyway, telling him he should open up his heart more to the people.  Trump asked if there was something God could do for him.  God seemed a little peeved but then said "What do you want Donald?"  Could you turn the thermostat down a little.  I don't want this global warming thing hanging over my head the whole time I'm President.  I made all these promises to oil and coal companies, and you know, it doesn't look good with the Arctic melting.  God said he would think about it, but told Donald once again to go easy on the people and the hair gel.

Trump knocked himself in the head for not taking more advantage of the opportunity.  He could have asked whether he would have one or two terms in office, or if maybe Ivanka would one day be the first woman president, or who would be in the Super Bowl so that he could place his bets accordi…

The Prince

The way I see it, the fatal flaw of the Democrats is their attempt to appeal to reason.  Hillary tried to show what a horrible choice Trump would be, including three debates in which she clearly demonstrated how ill prepared Donald was to be Commander-in-Chief.  If that wasn't enough, she had the better jokes at the Al Smith Dinner.  Yet, here we are with Donald Trump as President-elect.  Obviously, reason, or for that matter good humor, did not prevail.

Obama had managed to beat Romney because Romney was also trying to appeal to reason, as jumbled as it might be.  Donald made no such effort.  He appealed to the lowest instincts of Americans, playing on their xenophobia, sexist and racist biases, and ignorance of how government functions.  Easy enough to do since he doesn't know how government functions either.  He won because he turned Campaign 2016 into a television reality show.

Now, I could parse out how dumb the electorate has become, but it would only feed into the very…

To Russia with Love

As Russiagate heats up, Trump adds further fuel to the fire by putting Rex "Tillie" Tillerson forward as his nominee for Secretary of State.  This does little to deflect attention away from the allegations that the Kremlin manipulated the elections, as Tillie is a great buddy of Vlad, having cut deals with Russia's oil giant, Rosneft, which is exploring oil leads in the Arctic Circle.  This has sent up a number of red flags in Congress, and even Trump's press secretary in waiting, Reince Priebus, had to admit Tillie is not a done deal.

But, Tillerson is just part of the problem.  At the roots are so many links between Trump and Russia that it is not surprising he put a guy like this forward for his top cabinet official.  The amazing part is that his Russian ties gained so little traction during the campaign, despite being first aired during the primaries.  The media was too obsessed with Hillary's ongoing e-mail scandal to pay that much attention to Trump's …

Of Love and Squalor

Or Which Way Will this Bromance Turn?

It is hard to understand why Obama didn't release this "intelligence" during the campaign rather than wait until now to give the green light to CIA to inform Congress of the hacking that took place during the election.  The assessment points to a number of operatives with connections to the Russian government, but stops short of making a direct link between the Kremlin and the DNC computer hacking.  For his part Julian Assange says he got the information from other sources.

It is no more damning than was Comey's report to Congress that the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails should be reopened because of the link between Anthony Weiner and Hillary Clinton via Huma Abedin.  But, it would have gone a long way toward casting doubt on the relationship between Trump and Putin.

Throughout the election, Trump praised Putin and felt the US should have stronger ties with Russia.  He never really gave a reason for this beyond…

Lost in the counting

One of the problems with the recount taking place in Wisconsin is that many of the ballots are being run through the same computers as they were November 8, so major errors are not likely to be found.  The question all along has been whether the electronic voting machines were hacked, but it seems it will take a Congressional investigation to get to the bottom of this and that could be a very long time in the making.  Republican leaders are not in any hurry.

Even if they did, it is doubtful they would find anything as they would most likely look in all the wrong places.  If such ballot tampering took place, it probably occurred at the local level, which more likely than not would be connected to local RNC affiliates.  After all, these are the guys who stood the most to gain with a Trump victory, especially in Republican-led states like Wisconsin and Michigan.  North Carolina should also be questioned, as should Florida and Ohio for similar reasons.  It is highly doubtful this was a K…

Incident at Standing Rock

In a surprise move, President-elect Trump met with Al Gore this week to discuss global warming.  It had been billed as a meeting between Al and Ivanka, but apparently that was just the prelude.  Could the Donald actually be considering the former Vice-President and ardent environmentalist as his Energy Secretary, after Harold Hamm said no?   Of course, Coal-tar Joe Manchin would be the more obvious choice, a man who hasn't seen a pipeline he doesn't like, but it seems Ivanka may be steering her father in a more environmental-friendly direction.

Gore has also been a sharp critic of the Dakota access pipeline, and the Keystone Pipeline before that.  Both of which are nothing more than cash cows for the wealthy elite who own shares in these two ventures.  The last 8 years has shown us we don't need these pipelines as there is a surplus of oil thanks to a pro-sustainable energy policy by Obama, which has seen a big rise in wind, solar and biomass energy.  So much so that coal

Dressing Melania

What's a poor girl to do when she can't even get Tom Ford to dress her.  But don't worry, Melania won't have to go in her birthday suit to the inauguration. Tommy Hilfiger said he would be proud to dress her.  It's just the latest in the faux couture outrage being sparked by a Trump administration.  It's not like Melania had anything to worry about as there are plenty of designers ready to drape her in their garments.

However, it is doubtful that Melania will be the face of this new administration.  Trump leaned heavily on his daughter, Ivanka, throughout the election cycle and it is safe to assume this is the image he will project during his administration.  He also leaned heavily on her husband, Jared Kushner, who is said to have been the brains behind the improbable victory, not Bannon or Conway, who are often given credit.  So, Melania will have plenty of time to work on ridding the web of cyber-bullies.

It is safe to say we have never had a first lady qu…