The First Debate – A Report.


              About six minutes into the debate, I started keeping track of how many times each guy interrupted the other guy. I didn’t count it as an interruption when Joe said something and Trump made a face or a wisecrack, or vice-versa.  I only counted when one of the two said something which forced the other guy to stop talking until the interruption came to an end.

              I started keeping this count when at roughly six minutes into the program, Trump interrupted Biden for the third or fourth time and Biden turned towards Trump and said, “Why don’t you shut up?”

              I have been sitting in front of my TV for the last four years and I think that just about every evening during the news I have found myself saying the same thing to Donald Trump. But obviously, he couldn’t hear me telling him to shut up; he certainly heard it when it was said by Joe.

              Trump behaved exactly the way he always behaves in any situation where he is talking to an audience, whether the audience is a rally crowd or whether it’s a one-on-one exchange. He talks endlessly, he wanders from subject to subject, and he almost always has an angry belligerent tone, particularly when he thinks he’s being criticized or otherwise verbally attacked.

              By my count, and this is of course unofficial, at the end, Trump interrupted Biden at least 30 times.  Not that Joe didn’t give as good as he got, until about the last ten minutes of the program he often replied in kind and I counted him interrupting Trump 13 or 14 times.

              But you know what?  I watched the debates between Hillary and Trump in 2016, and Trump behaved the same way during those debates as he behaved last night. He was verbally hostile and abusive, he made obviously untrue statements again and again, and he interrupted Hillary almost as frequently as he interrupted Joe.

              So I sat there during the 2016 debates waiting and hoping that Hillary would at some point stop  being so polite and tell Trump to shut it down. She never did. When I turned on the TV last night I knew that Trump would go on the attack again, but I never thought I would hear Biden tell him that enough was enough.

              And yet he did. He told Trump to shut up again and again. He called him a ‘clown,’ he called him a ‘liar,’ he called him a ‘racist,’ and best of all, he frequently stated that Trump had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

              After it ended, the pundits on both sides, because I caught commentary both on NBC and Fox, seemed almost apologetic about how the debate was more name-calling than substance, indeed Karl Rove ended up saying that what he had witnessed was not a debate but a World Wide Wrestling match. Which I thought was a funny comment because Trump used to promote World Wide Wrestling programs at his Atlantic City casino before it went bust.

              I thought it was a great debate. Why? Because it’s about time that someone has gotten up in public and told Trump to shut up. After all, this is a guy who even tonight didn’t disagree when Chris Wallace, the moderator, reminded him that he claimed to have done more for African-Americans than any President with the ‘possible’ exception of Lincoln.

              Know what the word ‘possible’ means? It means that maybe Trump did even more for Black folks than what Abraham Lincoln did for them. And when I first read that statement, I said to myself that this guy has no earthly excuse to be heard from ever again.

              So I’m really glad that Joe told Trump to shut up. I suspect that what Joe really wanted to say was that Trump should shut the f*ck up.  Maybe he’ll say it like that in the next debate.

Why Does The Media Report Lies As If It’s News?

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              Remember when Ronald Reagan did TV commercials for General Electric? If you’re not my age, and I’m 76 years old, you probably don’t remember those commercials that Reagan made for GE beginning in 1954, but every commercial ended with Reagan smiling and telling the viewers that “progress was the most important product” for GE.

              And how could you argue with that idea? After all, the 1950’s was the first time that a majority of Americans owned their own homes, their own cars, their own TV sets, and their own washers and dryers.  That’s not progress? 

              The only problem was that once GE developed an enormous consumer market for electric appliances, everyone else jumped in, and a company that had owned this market in the 1950’s, found that by the 1980’s, all they owned was a lot of debt.

              Enter Jack Welch.  He was CEO of GE from 1981 and 2001, and during this period the company’s stock went from $1.50 a share to almost $60 bucks.  Welch built a new company by moving GE out of home appliances and into credit, leasing, and other financial pursuits. He also began to buy other companies so that GE’s bottom line no longer depended on washing and drying machines.

              Right now the company’s stock is sitting at $6.22 and investors are waiting to hear any day now that Chapter 7 has been filed in some federal bankruptcy court. What was the veritable straw that broke the veritable camel’s back? The company’s decision to get into natural gas production and distribution right when the natural gas market began to contract.

              And why has the natural gas industry fallen on hard times? Because of the falling cost of – ready – renewable energy, as in all those wind turbines and solar panels which increasingly dot the landscape all over the place.

              Know what industry has suffered even more from renewables than natural gas?  Try coal, which is shortly on its way to being completely put to bed. Coal first started being mined and used in large quantities beginning in 1885. By 1918 annual production was 500 million tons, went up and down over the next 80 years and by 2008 hit more than one billion tons each year. Know what the production was in 2016? Try 728 million tons, which is back down to where it was in the early 1980’s.

              In other words, coal is basically finished as a primary energy source, and its use will continue to decline as renewable energy and green energy distribution continues to expand. And anyone who tries to deny this slow but sure shift away from coal is either lying, or dumb, or both.

              Want the name of an individual who is making a pro-coal argument that is a complete lie? Try the 45th President of the United States who will say anything to drag a few more votes into his column to win a second term. Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Pennsylvania account for 70% of all U.S. coal.  Montana, Texas, Indiana, North Dakota, Colorado, Ohio, New Mexico, Utah, Alabama, and Virginia account for just about all the rest.

              Note that of those 15 states where coal mining and production still means jobs, nine of those states are reliably red states, but three other states – Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas – are states which Trump better win or he’ll be out on his fat ass come January 2021.

              So what is Trump doing? He goes around to these coal-rich states, presents himself as a great ‘friend’ of coal miners and simply lies about everything he’s doing to help them keep their jobs. The truth is, he’s not doing anything to revive the coal industry because it can’t be revived. It’s dead and dying, okay? Gone. Or fartig (finished) as my grandfather would say.

              But this reality doesn’t stop Trump from going around and using a completely fake narrative to take swipes at the Green New Deal and/or the Communist Left and/or the ‘Democrat’ Party – it’s all one and the same.

              The liberal media, from The (failing) New York Times on down, should be ashamed of themselves for giving this guy any space at all.

The GOP Response To San Bernardino: Nearer My God To Thee.

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Want to know what the pro-gun crowd thinks about gun violence?  Or I should say, what the pro-gun crowd wants everyone else to think about gun violence?  All you gotta do is wait for a mass shooting to occur, then check the Twitter accounts of the so-called GOP Presidential candidates. I say ‘so-called’ because the idea that any of this bunch has demonstrated even a sliver of leadership, never mind the slightest attention to facts, makes me wonder how we could remotely imagine one of these clowns sitting in Oval Office after January 20, 2017. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

san bernardinoI knew we were in for a know-nothing treatment of gun violence when, in putting together a game plan for 2016, the GOP decided that the 2nd Amendment would be the ‘values’ niche issue this time around. They used to have abortion and then gay marriage to gin up the base, but when Donald Trump started boasting about defending himself by carrying a gun, I knew the NRA’s wildest dream about defining the social agenda for America was finally coming true.

Then we had the shooting of two television journalists in Virginia, and while killing only 2 people is hardly worth mentioning in the same breath as dispatching ten victims in Oregon, nine in Charleston, never mind fourteen in San Bernardino, what was impressive in a bizarre way about the Virginia shooting was that the entire thing was caught on tape.  And the very next day, there was Trump telling us that the problem had nothing to do with guns, it was caused by the lack of mental hospital space which was needed to lock all the crazies away.

Once Trump defined the issue in accordance with the standard NRA lexicon that it’s not guns that kill people, etc., everyone else fell into line.  The next opportunity for the GOP pretenders came a month later in Oregon when the killing of ten faculty and students at Umpqua Community College unleashed a torrent of pro-gun commentary from the GOP Presidential field.  Once again Trump knew the nuts were “coming out of the woodwork;” Ben Carson called for better detection of “early warning signs,” and in case there was any doubt about why the shooting occurred, we had self-appointed gun fantasists like John Lott telling us that we couldn’t expect anything else to happen in a gun-free zone.

This time around, however, the Republicans might have overshot their mark. Because when Hillary spoke out about the Umpqua massacre, she made a point of tying it to enacting “sensible gun-control measures,” and promised to lead the effort after she took over the Oval office in 2017.  This was the first time that the Democrats made gun ownership a campaign issue, and it caught the GOP entirely off guard.  Let’s remember it was Hillary’s husband who decided that Democrats lost the White House in 2000 due to the power of the NRA. So I knew that, going forward, the GOP would have to come up with a revised game plan to avoid having to appear condoning gun violence while still keeping the gun-nut vote on their side.

And to the credit of their campaign PR teams, it seems to me that the Republican Presidential wannabes have indeed come up with an approach to gun violence which gets them all off the hook; namely, that gun violence is an act of God, so what can mere mortals do?  Here’s a selection of Twitter feeds from last night: Trump – “Good luck to law enforcement and God bless.” Cruz – “Our prayers are with the victims.” Bush – “Praying for the victims.” Paul – “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims.”

Any mention of guns?  Here’s Hillary: “We must take action to stop gun violence now.”  And what Hillary knows is what the pro-gun gang and its new crop of Presidential pretenders don’t want to imagine; that maybe most Americans are sick of the shootings, sick of guns, and fed up with the NRA.


Want To Know The NRA’s Election Strategy? Here It Is.

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Now that the 2nd Amendment has become an issue in the looming 2016 Presidential campaign, it was just a matter of time until the NRA got its own campaign playbook together and started adding its voice to the political fray.  So it was hardly a surprise when the NRA released its first political message right out of the mouth of Wayne LaPierre, who claimed he was responding to Obama’s appearance at a police chief’s meeting in Chicago where the president dutifully repeated his call for ‘common-sense’ laws to help end the everyday carnage from guns.

The NRA’s campaign message turns out to be a riff on the ‘we don’t need no stinkin’ new gun laws’ mantra that was first promoted by Donald Trump.  And once Trump said it, all the other Republican Presidential pretenders fell into line with what has become official policy for the NRA.  And why don’t we need any more gun laws to stop what Wayne-o calls the “bloodshed?”  Because all we have to do is “enforce the federal gun laws” and “direct every federal jurisdiction to round up every felon, drug dealer and gangbanger with a gun” and the problem will be solved right then and there.

lapierre                But Obama won’t do it, and if she’s elected Hillary won’t do it because they “wait for a crime that fits their agenda and blames the NRA.”  Which is another way of saying that instead of locking up all those bad guys with guns, the Democrats just want to pass new gun-control laws.  “President Clinton and President Obama use the carnage to campaign for new gun laws” says Wayne-o, and the result of not enforcing current laws is that “thugs” like Darius Brown (picture of Brown the thug with voice-over from Wayne-o) don’t go to jail and instead end up shooting a nine-year old girl.

So here we have the NRA game plan as we inch towards Election 2016.  Blame it all on the Democrats who don’t enforce crime laws, tie them to ‘thugs’ who are always young men of color, and make sure to remind everyone that urban ‘bloodshed’ has nothing to do with guns. Doesn’t it remind you just a bit of the Willie Horton campaign ads that secured the White House for the first iteration of George Bush?  But if the Horton campaign was short on facts and long on emotional, racist-tinged images, it can’t be compared to the misrepresentations and racist-laden messaging this time around.

Let’s start with the charge that Clinton and Obama won’t enforce laws and are ‘soft’ on crime.  In 1993, the national violent crime rate was 746. Eight years later, at the end of the Clinton Administration, the rate had fallen to 506, a decline of 33%.  Eight years after that, at the end of Bush II, the rate stood at 457, a further decline of 10%.  In 2014, seven years into Obama, it’s at 357, a drop from the end of Bush’s tenure of 22%.  Since 1993 the violent crime rate has declined by 52%, of which 90% disappeared during the administrations of two, crime-loving Dems.

In the rush to get Wayne-o’s comments up there right after the President addressed the police chiefs, the folks who produce those insipid NRA videos might want to take another look.  Because the picture of ‘Darius Brown’ is actually a picture of Jamal Streeter, one of three young men charged in the murder of a 13-year old teenager named Darius Brown.  Oh well, if every young man of color is either a gang banger or a thug, how hard is it to get them all mixed up?

It’s not hard at all if you’ve decided that, everything else failing, you’ll fall back on the time-honored issues of race and crime in order to galvanize your political base and garner some votes.  I happen to believe that most Americans, gun owners or not, will see right through this stupid charade even if Wayne-o and the NRA haven’t yet figured it out.