Friday, November 8, 2019

On Good Intentions And The Paving Of Roads




Of all the wonderful things that come with this most wonderful time of the year, there's one thing, in particular, that the season is good for.

Good.

Good wishes, good feelings, good food and good friends. Good gatherings, good gifts and good tidings.

Well, that's actually glad tidings, but why spoil a good list of good things by needless nitpicking.

Oh...and there's one more good thing that's always good to go this time of year.

Good news.

For the nonsecular ceremonial enthusiasts, there is "good news" as it refers to that which was gone and told on the mountain, harked and heralded by the angels and spiritedly offered up by Kathy Mattea in the title song of her 1993 collection of Christmas favorites.



But, wait, as the classic commercial heads-up announces....there's more.

Good news, that is.

And you need not necessarily subscribe to any particular theology, profess any particular Scriptural preference or align with any designated deity in order to enjoy the benefits.

Sound good?

Good.

Stand by.

Unless you're a musical archivist, a very informed music aficionado or a member of the family, you probably aren't familiar with Frank Loesser.

Loesser was a New York born, Tony award, Pulitzer Prize winning songwriter who wrote the lyrics and music to, among other successful Broadway shows, Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.

He was also nominated for an Oscar five times for Best Song.

He won once.

For a song that he wrote for he and his wife to sing informally as a duet at dinner parties in their day, a song that went on to be recorded for the 1949 film, "Neptune's Daughter" in which it was sung to 1940's swimming star and movie star du jour Esther Williams by none other than a suave, Mexican of Spanish origin actor born Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Merino.

You might know him better as Ricardo Montalban.

Boomers will remember him as Mr. Roarke, the mysterious host/concierge of the 70's mystery TV series, "Fantasy Island".

But generations then and generations to come will most likely know Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Merino by his more iconic identity.

Khan Noonian Singh.

And what do the wrathful Mr. Khan and the tuneful Mr. Loesser have in common?

Hint...it's the wrath thing.

We good?

Good.

Cause good is what we're all about today.

And the good news.

That the right, and good, thing has finally been done

Because the song that Mr. Loesser perfected and Mr. Montalban performed has apparently, to hear folks tell it, actually been up to no good in the seventy or so years since it's creation.

The song?

"Baby, It's Cold Outside".

Recently determined by the court of public opinion to be insensitive, inappropriate, unacceptable, even offensive to the sensibilities of good and decent people everywhere.

Good and decent people, we feel sure, like say, Barry Manilow. Bette Midler. Tom Jones. Harry Connick, Jr. Anne Murray. Willie Nelson. Natalie Cole. Kelly Clarkson. Lady Gaga. Martina McBride. Sara Bareilles, James Taylor. Sheryl Crow. Vince Gill. Amy Grant. Meghan Trainor.

Olivia Newton-John.

All of whom, among many multiples of others, have, at one time or another in the past seventy or so years, recorded and released the song in its original, unaltered, unedited, fun for man and woman to sing at parties version that was created by the tuneful Mr. Loesser.

Fast forward to America 2019.

Make that the wrathful America 2019.

And the revelation soaked in accusation that "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is, like pretty much anything found at a state fair with the word "fried" in front of it.....not good for you.

Because of "those" lyrics.

"Those" lyrics in a moment.

First, please enjoy the tuneful Khan.



The lyrics we're referring to when we refer to "those" lyrics are those lyrics that, per those who are voting "no good", imply sexual harassment, even date rape.

One lyrical moment, in particular, is, for those opposed, not good, not good at all.

"...The neighbors might think (baby, it's bad out there)
Say what's in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there...) "

Okay.

It's not completely unreasonable to be a little put off by the hint of slime in play here. Even if it's just a smidge of slime.

And while 1949 American culture likely read "what's in this drink?" as "hey, I said two fingers of vodka, not three" (look it up), 2019 American culture can't completely be dismissed if they're not thrilled with the "roofie-esque" implications involved here.
But there are a fair number of ways this could be dealt with.
One might even say a "good" number of ways.
One could simply write it off as a sign of the times. Those times.
Of course, this would involve both possessing, and being able to make use of, the intelligence and common sense required to understand that acknowledging something is not automatically a celebration, let alone endorsement, of that something.
And, lately, when it comes to intelligence and common sense.
Well, let's just say they're not doing so good these days.
What happens more often in contemporary times is the sociological, even psychological, version of "busy work."

We can't immediately fix the very big, very critical, very challenging, seemingly insurmountable issue.....so we go looking for smaller, more surmountable things to fix.

Smaller and more surmountable, but mostly superficial.

Cue the "re-write"

And the smaller, surmountable, superficial song stylings of John Legend and Kelly Clarkson.






Out with the old.

In with the new.

"what will my friends think (I think they should rejoice)
if I have one more drink / / (it's your body and your choice)..."

Decidedly different.

But...good?

Any reasonable person is about proper, correct behavior.

Not to mention simple human courtesy.

And decency.

But listening to this "attitude adjusted" version of Mr. Loesser's seasonal perennial, a couple of thoughts are suddenly good to go.

First, it's a little cringe inducing. Not in the way that, perhaps, Mr. Montalban's 1949 approach induces cringes in 2019, similar to, say, the way one cringes when they see fifty year old pictures of themselves, but, still.....

And possibly because by trying to "fix" it, all that's really accomplished is a prurient drawing of attention to it.

But, even worse, there's an unavoidable sense that what's really going on here is an attempt to band-aid a little cut while unable to treat, even ignoring, the gaping wounds in plain sight these days.

In a culture that finds Kardashians deserving of admiration and emulation.

Weinsteins worthy of a single, solitary thing except a lifetime spent in solitary.

A culture that finds foul mouthed, pussy grabbing demagogues worthy of being not only allowed but, actually, in some minds, joyfully welcomed to, occupancy of the Oval Office.

Seventy or so years later, one wonders what Frank Loesser would be feeling.

Regret? Remorse? Embarrassment?

Or maybe just "that was then, this is now."

Which, come to think of it, might be a good idea.

In a season of good wishes, good feelings, good food and good friends. Good gatherings, good gifts and good tidings.

And every woman who has ever been, or has yet to be, violated can now take comfort in knowing that a seventy five year old pop song of three minutes duration.....

...has been sanitized for their protection.

Now, that's good news.
 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Dinosaurs, Dodo Birds...and Republicans...



Say what you will about the Chinese.

Whatever else they are, or are not, they are one funny 1.4 billion people.

You're going to be hearing more about China in the days and weeks ahead, in fact, "a lotta more" as Mr. T's "Clubber Lang" mocked Rocky Balboa in the third of what rough estimates put at forty five, or so, sequels to the Oscar winning original "Rocky",  primarily because Trump has decided that his problems regarding the Ukraine simply aren't problem enough and, so, as he is wont to do, has now included China on his list of FUBARS.

I'll spare you the political details that are going to be inundating your news feeds for the foreseeable and simply offer that, again, the Chinese are funny folks.

In the quest for pristine accuracy, though, let's amend that a skosh.

The Chinese are witty and satirical,with a full understanding of the word "irony".

An explanation of that understanding is coming up.

May you live in interesting times.

You've probably heard the expression somewhere along the way. It arguably falls somewhere on the line of definition somewhere between idiom and aphorism, although, first, the argument could be made that it comes closer to being one than the other, or vice versa, but, second, that given America 2019 is a culture that, in large numbers, still can't get their head, or texting fingers, around the difference between the word "to" and the word "too", there's very little to be gained from further meddling with the medulla with really big words like idiom and aphorism.

So, let's just say, as I just said, that it's an expression you've probably heard somewhere along the way.

Like "may the road rise up to meet you"....or, starting sometime around Labor Day, "may all your Christmases be white".

And for those who prefer their expressions less erudite and more entertaining..."may The Force be with you."

On its face, the expression "may you live in interesting times" has all the earmarks of a standard issue best wishes.

Well, that's where the wit, satire and irony of our friends, and partners in trade war, the Chinese come in.

Put a pin in that. We'll be back to it shortly.

I do a lot of commentary. I do a lot of posting on social media. And I make no apology for anything that I offer in the way of opinion or perspective.

Because, for the moment, at this writing, it's a free country.

I am free to offer what I offer.

You are free to accept, reject, embrace, ignore.

Pick your reaction. Any reaction.

I also offer no denial whatsoever when it comes to any accusations that come my way that I am a mischief maker, inciter, agitator or, as I prefer, given its romantic, global cachet, provocateur.

The point, moreover, the purpose of the provocation is to get you to think.

Ideally, about any, if not all, other points of view beyond our own.

Worst case scenario...to get you to even think at all.

And were the interesting times in which we find ourselves living, a different kind of interesting than the interesting times in which we find ourselves living, I would also be ready, willing, even encouraged to engage, discuss, debate. Share thoughts, trade opinions and perspectives, bounce the old bull session birdie back and forth across the net that divides your side from my side and my side from yours, in the hopes that maybe we could both learn something useful and walk away, if only just a little, more enlightened, more educated, more insightful than we were before our birdie bounce began.

I still do a lot of commentary and I still do a lot of posting on social media. But I don't engage or discuss or debate much any more.

And, on one topic, not at all.

Bet you can guess which topic.

If you can't, clearly you don't know my work and this must be your first time.

Welcome.

I continue to comment and post because I believe that voices were meant to heard and, according to the apocryphal saying, "knowledge without works is sin."

And again, in your garden variety interesting times, listening to other voices would not only be polite, but necessary, even essential.

But, again, these interesting times are far from garden variety and even farther from ordinary.

So, when it comes to Trump and Trumpism, I speak my piece. Or pieces. Let the words fall on whichever ears the fates would have them fall upon.

And when it comes to responding to any responses those words generate?

Here's another expression you've probably heard somewhere along the way.

Don't hold your breath.

All of that said, I am, with this particular commentary, invoking my Michael Corleone clause.

Just this once. Just this once I am going to respond to a response inspired, actually, make that incited by a recent commentary.

The complete commentary itself is almost superfluous in terms of needing to be re-told.

Suffice to say that I read, once again, just one too many defenses, even endorsements, of Donald Trump that was sloppily disguised as a call to respect the office of the Presidency, provide consideration, even fair play.

Sorry. I'm just not having any of it.

For reasons I have been writing and broadcasting on for over three years now. With more to come, given that what has been an annoying fire burning at the edges of our democracy is now about to go full inferno as impeachment now moves off the "one of these days" list on on to the "here and now" page.

The responses from the Trump bleachers were predictable, vigorous and, as usual, vitriolic.

Suggestions that ranged from primal prescriptions that I seek professional mental assistance to the more articulate, always entertaining examples of the more highly educated of Trump's Train passengers that I go fuck myself.

Well, putting aside my own primal urges to respond with a healthy dollop of "right back atcha", here's my "just this once" reply to those who just aren't interested in, let alone intending to, see Trump as anything other than the salvation of the nation, the great orange hope, fuck the five cent cigar, what this country needs is all Trump, all the time, forever and ever, amen.

Or God help us, as the case may be.

Ergo...my reply:

I'm tired. Aren't you tired?

Aren't you exhausted from the constant, back and forth, forth and back, bickering, blustering and bitching with which we have been smacking each other around for going on four years now?

You think I don't get you. You're wrong.

I admit that I don't know how you can continue to endorse, even celebrate, this staggeringly unqualified guy for the job he stumbled into.

But I do know why.

You're just gonna have to trust me on that. This piece needs to be wrapped up sometime before I die and I could list the reasons why right up to, and beyond, that time.

Instead, let me take a sincere shot at making you understand why I cannot, have not and shall not ever endorse, let alone celebrate, this staggeringly unqualified guy for the job he stumbled into.

And if for no other reason than to prevent us from falling back into the same predicable, exhausting back and forth of " I know you are, but what am I" we've been locked into for four years, let me tell you why by way of throwing you a little curve ball.

I cannot, have not and shall not, ever endorse or celebrate this guy....because you deserve better.

Make no mistake. I deserve better, we all deserve better, but, for the purpose of our chat here, let's go with you first.

So, put your posting/texting fingers on pause, close the cupboard on the "snoflake libtard" inane, and totally inaccurate, bullshit that you fire off like a Glock with autopilot and let me tell you, instead of what I don't want (or who, and we both know who), what I want.

I want to vote for a Republican.

I want to vote for a Dwight Eisenhower. A Republican who served his country with the highest honor in our military, who, in fact, led the American armed forces to victory in World War II; a Republican who expanded Social Security, created, and saw implementation of, the Interstate Highway System, created NASA advancing America to the forefront of space exploration and technology, who created the US Information Agency and promoted use of the CIA to achieve military goals through influence and technology, not warfare. A Republican whose morality, respect for America's foundational institutions and sense of duty to country and its citizens was without question........

...not a "Republican" who avoided military service entirely with petty physical ailments, sends every signal that Social Security is fair game for being looted, can't get a simple border wall built, let alone rebuild highways and bridges, shits on the idea of space exploration but wants to spend billions of dollars creating Space Force, a cross between Texas Rangers and The Jetsons, whose morality, respect for America's foundational institutions and sense of duty to country and its citizens has been non-existent to the point of hilarity and/or insanity since the day he decided he wanted to "play at being president..."

I want to vote for a Richard Nixon. A Republican who, despite epic human flaws, ultimately put respect for, and love of,  country above love of self by becoming the first President of The United States to resign the office, when it became clear that he could no longer be effective in the office.....

...not an amoral narcissist who would, and will if allowed, choose to let the ship of state sink to the bottom of the sea before ever letting go of the wheel......

I want to vote for a Ronald Reagan....A Republican who stood firm against Communism, arguably playing a part in the demise of the Communist Party and the, then, Soviet Union, who cut taxes for those in the top tax tiers, but increased payroll taxes to ensure the solvency of Social Security, a Republican who publicly condemned hate groups, respected and supported America's foundational institutions and possessed the skills to inspire the citizenry with oratory befitting his theatrical skills....

...not a "republican" who denigrates, dismisses and disgraces America's foundational institutions, mocks leaders of our allies who dare not show him unconditional love and respect...who fawns over leaders of adversarial countries, like a pitiful child who want, needs, so desperately, to be accepted by the bad boys on the school grounds...a "republican" who will not speak bluntly and directly to the intolerance this nation has always shown white supremacists....Nazis......whose public statements and social media postings are infantile, embarrassing, illiterate.......

I want to vote for a George W. Bush.....whose own grasp of the language often delighted the late night comedy writers, but whose posture as president was beyond reproach, inclusive, with every effort made to endorse inclusiveness, community, faithful adherence to the values that made America great starting around, say, 1776....

...not a selfish, sociopathic narcissist who has one skill, and one skill, only....playing people off one another through lies, fear, bigotry, disrespect, denigration and who fuels the fires of those fears and bigotries and hatreds by promoting the idea of a primarily white society, with the very poorly disguised code phrase "Make America Great Again".

I want to vote for a Republican.

In America 2019, though, that option isn't available.

Because in America 2019, there is no Republican Party.

There is the Democratic Party.

And Trumpism.

And those of you who are spewing at me because I reject your selfish, sociopathic narcissist....I can only offer, and repeat, what I would like to do.

I want to vote for a Republican.

But you've got to give me something I can work with.

Old saying.

Don't piss on my leg and try to tell me it's raining.

New saying.

Don't put a sociopathic, illiterate, narcissistic demagogue in the White House....and try to tell me you've elected a Republican President.

Because that's what you're trying to tell me.

My anger and resentment at what you've done has me oft tempted to simply dismiss you with a blunt "fuck you."

Instead....you deserve better.

May you live in interesting times, the expression goes.

Well, your electing, and, now, continuing to support ,even celebrate, this staggeringly unqualified guy certainly affirms that interesting times is what you have us living in.

Which brings us back to those witty, funny Chinese.

Cue Wikipedia.

"May you live in interesting times" is an English expression......widely attributed as having originally been the translation.....

...of a traditional Chinese curse."

The implication being that times of peace, tranquility, prosperity, et al....are a bore.

Nothing ratchets up the "interesting level" like chaos, disorder and conflict.

In more ways than one, China may, sooner rather than later, have the last laugh.






Monday, September 16, 2019

Aim High...Or, At The Very Least, Actually Aim...



There's obviously some confusion in our day to day when it comes to an oft heard, long ago coined bromide in our midst.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Truth is, after a reasonable amount of thought, I find myself still not entirely sure where, exactly, the whole thing hits a snag.

I have, though, narrowed it down to two of the six words involved.

Entitled.

Opinion.

Summary of my assessment momentarily.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is one of the more long term Trump loyalists on a list of Trump loyalists who, for the most part, have proven themselves, time after time, to be way more about transience and way less about long term.

And, not to wander too far off the path of my point this early in the process, but it occurs that the more deeply dug in amongst the BFF brigade tend to be those infused with estrogen.

Kellyanne Conway. Kayleigh McEnany. Betsy DeVos. And now Stephanie Grisham. All female. And all fervent in their allegiance to the man/child wanna be king, supporting, rationalizing, justifying and defending, without hesitation, or any sign of intelligent life, for that matter, pretty much everything that comes out of his always open for business trap and his always grammatically entertaining Twitter feed.

And I only point out that the fan club membership boasts more she's than he's, not out of cheap shot-ing sexist rhetoric, but out of a remarkable slab of life ironic.

This kind of womanly devotion to a guy who could very easily make a post-White House career out of being a poster boy for every thing on the planet that diminishes, dismisses and denigrates women has to rank as one of, if not number one of, the list of things in life that irrefutably fall into the category of "what the fuck?"

My super secret, Spidey-sense of it all is that there's some tragicomic strain of battered woman syndrome in play here. The more used and abused, the more the effort to be worthy of not being used and abused. Again, that's, admittedly, just conjecture.

Because, damn it, Jim, I'm a satirical commentator not a doctor of emotional issues as they relate to the male/female psychology.

Meanwhile, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Who I notice, not for nothin', since her recent departure from the White House Press Room podium and her recent arrival wearing that combination kissy face/Imhotep facial expression toward the red lighted camera with the Fox News logo on the side, has become, for public consumption, simply Sarah Sanders.

Again, Spidey-sense telling me that some Rhodes Scholar in the Fox News think tank pointed out that while the whole three name thing might have done wonders for Louisa May Alcott, Billie Jean King and Mary Tyler Moore, it didn't exactly pay off big time for Tammy Faye Baker, Nicole Brown Simpson or, of course, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And let's not underestimate the blatant booing and hissing inspired by John Wilkes Booth, John Wayne Gacy and history's favorite patsy, Lee Harvey Oswald.

So, put a pin in Huckabee and, now, here's cogent comment and insightful interjection by one of the great minds of the 21st Century.....Sarah Sanders.

And her observation re' the current crop of announced candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"I'm pretty sure they don't even like America."

This is the part where we circle back to the observation that I made at the beginning of today's commentary.

There's obviously some confusion in our day to day when it comes to an oft heard, long ago coined bromide in our midst.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

And, as you'll recall, I shared that I've weeded that down to just two words that seem to be where people get all entangled.

Entitled.

Opinion.

Our good friend, Mr. Dictionary, defines "entitled" as "believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment".

There's a  key phrase there that is worthy of special attention.

"Believing oneself to be inherently deserving"

Not "being inherently deserving".

But the real fun begins when we weigh in with Mr. D's def of "opinion".

"...a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge...."

So, let's put all the pieces together and see what the puzzle reveals.

"Entitled to your opinion".

"Believing yourself to be inherently deserving of special treatment regarding your view or judgement about something....say it with me...not necessarily based on fact or knowledge."

For the folks in the cheap seats who prefer their explanations a little less complex and a lot more cut and dried, try this on.

This whole "you're entitled to your opinion" business is like that whole "right to bear arms" business.

You're free to participate, but there's a certain level of common sense expected of you when you do.

And therein, dear Brutus, lies both the rub and the fault.

Too many people take the expression "you're entitled to your opinion" and run with it like strapping on the AR-15 and defiantly, but proudly, getting in line at the local Chick-Fil-A.

And, at the risk of stretching the metaphor just one iota too far, those too many people need to be made aware, often and bluntly, that just as they're expected to not shoot their big bad bullet banger simply because they can if'n they's a want to, they're expected to not shoot their mouth off...for no other reason than they can.

If and when they's a want to.

The more insightful amongst us could, by now, be laying down a question that, on the face of it, might seem fair and applicable.

Isn't that "shooting their mouth off" thing exactly what I'm doing here with this commentary?

A not entirely unreasonable question.

Let me think about it for a second.

Okay.

No.

A lot of thought and not just a little effort, on my part, is being put into taking specific aim at what I'm confident many would see as a legitimate, even important, issue.

Irresponsibility.

And while one may, or may not, and is unequivocally free to,  agree, or disagree, with what I'm offering here, I'm also confident that no reasonable case could be made that what I'm saying here, and the way in which I'm saying it, could be classified, under any interpretation, as....stupid.

While strapping on ol' AR just to wait patiently for the tasty grilled chicken salad?

Cue Forrest. Forrest Gump.

Stupid is as stupid does, sir.

Or ma'am.

And for a, theoretically, well educated woman (the verdict, clearly, is still out on Ouachita Baptist University) to appear on internationally broadcast television and mince no words in offering that a dozen or so Americans who, regardless of political philosophy, represent a broad cross section of race, gender, public service, commitment and, yes, Virginia, red, white and blue patriotism "don't even like America" is, at best, a very poorly articulated attempt to pander to viewers who think "lock her up" is one of them there things carved on the marble of the Capitol Rotunda.....and, is at worst...in a word...stupid.

But just like the big gun bozo who doesn't think it through, only to find that real damage has been done when "ready, fire! aim" goes south, Sarah Huckabee Sanders ain't a thinkin' it through, neither.

Or even, most likely, not considering the damage that her display of dumb is doing.

Allow me.

A lot of us "Democrats who just don't like America" are, believe it or not, still listening to a lot of what "the opposition" has to say. And not, as might be suspected, because we are constantly laying in wait, hoping for yet another opportunity to pounce, pointing out their lack of vision, their lack of ability, their lack of common sense.

Their lack of simple, elementary school level grammatical efficiency,

Donald.

We're listening because we really do believe, at the core of it all, that the solutions to the genuine challenges, even the problems, that face us all, all of us who, as JFK nailed it so long ago, "inhabit the same planet, breathe the same air, cherish our children's future" lie somewhere in the middle between your way, my way and/or the highway.

And that only a fool closes their ears and their eyes to the possibility that the "other guys" might have things to say and paths to follow that might help us all get where we all need to go.

Even when the other guys are sycophant sillies like Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

But when it comes to listening to, let alone buying into, what the other guys have to say, here's another fun catch phrase.

Credibility is key.

And even if, for example, I've been following Sarah's suggestions and insights for a while, it's almost comic, and tragic at the same time, as to how close she gets to getting me to start paying serious attention......

Cue Frank and Nancy.

Then she has to go and spoil it all / by saying something......

...stupid.

One last cue. This one going out to the former Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

That State Farm Insurance fishing guy.

Ahhp. You nearly had us.

But, Sarah....oh, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah......

You stumbled into an all too common pitfall.

While pulling off quite a feat of firearms skill.

You seriously confused the meaning of being "entitled to your opinion".

And you shot your mouth off just cause ya's a wanted to......

....only to shoot yourself in the foot. 



 

 




Monday, August 19, 2019

Dark On The Outside, Bright Light On The Inside...And Vice Versa...







My friend Alex recently turned 70.

And I can't begin to imagine how he feels.

Oh, there's nothing particularly mysterious about the standard issue sense of having accomplished the feat of making it through life for seven decades. I'm only a couple of years behind Alex on the timeline myself and I'm sure we could both tell you youngsters stories about good times, bad times, trials, tribulations, ups, downs, aches, pains, thrills of victory, agonies of defeat, both the devastating heartbreaks and overwhelming joys which have come as standard equipment on life on this Earth and in this country in the last seventy years.

But, were that sharing to be an actual event, I could do no better than to serve as opening act. Leaving the much deserved main presentation to a very gifted and gracious man who has just turned 70.

Because when it comes to knowing a thing or two, because he has seen a thing or two, Farmers Insurance knows from zilch when compared to the seventy years lived thus far by my friend Alex.

Image result for light in darkness And here's a plot twist I'm confident no one saw coming.

I don't have the first clue as to what any of those things are.

Or, more accurately, I can only guess what scenes would play out if "Life Of Alex" were to suddenly appear on my Trending Now list on Netflix.

Because while I am delighted, and proud, to call him my friend, I actually know very little about Alex and his life. We met just a few years ago, in a social setting, and, shortly after, came to find that we both frequent the same golf course. We have, in the last few years, exchanged pleasant conversation, an admittedly risky golf tip or two and he has honored me with an expression of his appreciation of my writings and commentaries.

So, we were bound to be good friends, if only because the man clearly has really good taste.

But, with an exception or two, all dealing with whatever he has experienced since I met him those few years ago, I don't really know very much about Alex at all.

I do know that he is an accomplished musician, a much respected veteran teacher and a once upon a time competitive level tennis talent. Not to re-mention the golf skills that he takes both in good fun, and moderately deadly earnest. (I don't know many other non-professional golfers who show up at a driving range to prepare for a community golf tournament scheduled for the next day). 

I also know that he is cordial, gracious and a delight to visit and speak with. I do know there is a sense about him that says this is a man who not only makes lemonade out of life's lemons, he's inclined to insist on paying for your glass should you both share some. Without any hint of syrup or saccharine, pretense or Pollyanna, Alex presents as a positive guy who does what he can every day to be a part of the solution, whatever the problem might be.

And while I'm confident that he would defer and resist any effort to single him out for acknowledgement, it occurs to me, as I think about his milestone birthday, that acknowledgment is more than appropriate at this time and in this place in the aforementioned timeline. 

My friend Alex is black.

And he's turned 70 with the ever present smile on his face, the ever present presentation of kindness in his heart and the ever present sense that there is still more, so much more, that is good about life, and America, than there is not.

In one of the darkest periods this nation has ever experienced.

And, as I offered at the outset, I cannot begin to imagine how he feels.

Nor would I presume to ever conjecture as to what he has experienced and/or what impact those experiences have had.

But there is a remarkable 'compare and contrast', for lack of a better term, I envision that strikes me as not only relevant, but even important, to share with the current chaos and upheaval on display in 2019 America.

Simple arithmetic tells me Alex was born in 1949.

So, his childhood years were the 1950's. The years which saw the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to a black;  the first African Americans in the NBA; Juanita Hall, the first black woman to win a Tony Award; the first black NFL quarterback; the pioneering emergence of Chuck Berry and the report from the Tuskegee Institute that there had been no lynchings in the United States for the first time in 71 years of tabulation. The years that saw the Supreme Court rule racial segregation in DC restaurants, and shortly after, segregation in all public schools, unconstitutional.

And the years that saw a Florida NAACP official killed by a bomb on Christmas Day; iconic entertainer Nat King Cole assaulted on stage during a segregated performance in Alabama; a mob of 3500 whites attempting to prevent a black family from moving into an apartment in Illinois.....and just two years after the Tuskegee report, a fourteen year old Chicago kid named Emmett Till...lynched while on vacation in Mississippi.

Alex turned 11 in the first year of the 1960's.

The Civil Rights Act of 1960, protecting all citizens' right to register and vote, regardless of color; the first black winner of the Heisman Trophy; the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi; the first black winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a major NASCAR race, the first competitor in an LPGA tournament; the unprecedented gathering of over 200,000 people in Washington, DC as Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech; the landmark Civil Rights Bill of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

And the years that saw attack dogs and fire hoses turned on men and women and children to prevent civil rights demonstrations in the streets of Birmingham; the Governor of Alabama standing in a college doorway and blocking two black students from enrolling; a Baptist church bombed on a Sunday morning, killing four young black girls; the abduction and murders of three young civil rights workers in Mississippi; racial riots in Watts, California and Newark, New Jersey.....and the assassinations of NAACP leader Medgar Evers....Malcolm X......Martin Luther King.

Alex came of age, 21 years old, in 1970.

The 70's....the first black mayors of Atlanta...Newark...Detroit...Los Angeles; the first black Congressional representatives elected from the American South since 1898...the first black competitor in the Masters golf tournament......two black students shot and killed by police at Jackson State University in Mississippi; the courthouse killings in San Rafael, California....the Attica Prison riots.......

And a black man born in America in the late 1949 lived through those segregationist 1950's, the turbulent civil rights revolution of the 60's, the storm just hovering above the calm of the racially tense 1970's 80's, 90's into a 21st Century that saw racial drama explode on one front or another, first with the darkness of dark skin, and even darker heart, of pure evil,  hypocritically cloaked in the shroud of deity worship, flying airliners filled with everyday Americans into buildings and a field in Pennsylvania, then, later, the almost blindingly bright shining of change with the election of the first black man to the office of President of the United States.

A landmark event that inspired both the very best of what mankind can be when frontiers are conquered...and the very worst of what mankind can be when old ways are sent to the scrap heap and resentment and retaliation result from those for whom old ways can only be pried from cold, dead fingers.

And then came Trump.

And the Age of the Demagogue.

Demagogue. A political leader who gains support by appealing to the prejudices of ordinary people...rather than by using rational argument.

Appealing to those prejudices by, and here's where it gets almost hilariously ironic if you're hip to the writings of Malcolm X.... any means necessary.

In Trump's playbook, stirring the fear and anger and hatred one color can have for another when the stirring is expertly executed.

Make no mistake. His stirring is expertly executed.

And though he will, obviously because of his sociopathic narcissism, always and forever deny any cause and effect resulting from his cheap shot tweets, his snide inferences, his wink wink silences when his adoring lynch mobs scream out "shoot them", even a reasonably bright 8 year old could recognize, if not racism in the letter of the law definition, then most certainly racial inflammation, instigation.

Inciting.

Inspiring.....

.....sick minds with guns.

In El Paso.

In Dayton.
 
And Alex smiles warmly. And offers a firm handshake. And gracious, friendly words of greeting.

And a look in his eyes that simultaneously reminds that kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness.

Graciousness not to be confused with complacence. Courtesy not to be misinterpreted as acceptance of wrongs done.

And wrongs yet to be done.

But what a remarkable testament to strength of character. And resilience.

And a determination to rise above, set an example, inspire young minds.

To find that part of his heart and spirit that frees up the love, kindness, courtesy and goodness, even after 70 years of what most certainly had to be challenges to that heart and spirit and, even, soul that those of us whose pigment took us down another path will never, ever begin to fully grasp.

And to remain, and present, positive, affirmative.

To, props to Michelle Obama, "go high....when they go low..."

I can't even begin to imagine how many times he has had to go high. Or how low the lowest of what he has seen and experienced has been.

Alex is now 70 years old. A good and gracious guy. And a humble man whose humility will most certainly result in resisting any acknowledgement of the extraordinary qualities I've described.

But, in this situation, modesty provides no curtain whatsoever for the light shining behind it.

It's my privilege to call Alex friend.

And on the 70th anniversary of his birth, I celebrate with him, for him...and about him. And all of those who, like him, have endured, overcome and continue to light the darkness.

And if, given who he is, the kind of man he is, and where he stands at this time in his life, he feels a mixture of emotions at this birthday, I can honestly offer that, in that context, I know just exactly how he feels.

Because, given what I know, I have mixture of emotions, too.

Joy.

Gratitude.

Appreciation.

A little sadness.

And, truth be told, not just a little anger and resentment.

That a cardboard cutout of a decent human being is being given the honor of occupying the highest office in the nation.

And having millions of people make excuses for his inexcusable behavior, words and actions.

And the criminally abusive manner in which he pours gasoline on fires of intolerance and bigotry and prejudice....even fanning the embers of those long ago flames which had even begun to finally, simply, just smolder.

While a man who has lived 70 years lives inside a skin thats color has certainly taken him on a more challenging journey than so many of us will ever know or be able to understand. A journey that has required strength, resilience, endurance....and a priceless form of courage.

A man who, unlike that cardboard cutout of a decent human being, really does know a thing or two.

Because he's seen a thing or two.

And still smiles warmly.

As he shakes your hand.





 





Saturday, July 6, 2019

The X Factor, As It Turns Out, Is Actually The X Factor




Two debates (at this writing) down.

Ten debates (at this writing) to go.

Plenty of issues in the old issue box to dissect, debate and discuss.

And only 486 days (at this writing) left until America has a very important decision to make.

A decision that is going to, ultimately, be decided on the basis of one factor.

Actually, not so much a factor, per se', as...a quality.

Integrity? Compassion? Empathy? Humility? Honesty?

Hey, hi, we're America. Have we met?

If any of those qualities really mattered a hoot in hell, it's a put all your money on, and get ready to win big, bet that Donald Trump would never have gotten past the first couple of primaries in 2016.

Integrity, compassion, empathy, humility, even honesty are, let's just save ourselves some time and plain talk with each other, qualities that pretty much everybody says they look for in someone when it comes time to cast a ballot, but, when the chips are down and that little curtain behind them closes on Election Day......

...again, I would refer you to the first couple of primaries in 2016.  



Not to mention the Electoral College vote tally on Election Night that November.

As far as actual issues are concerned?

Well, like finger foods on a buffet table, there are always plenty to choose from, assuming that it's one of those buffet tables where time and effort have been put in to put out a nice spread, but, people, being voters, and voters, being people, tend to disregard pretty much everything on that buffet table with the exception of the one, maybe two, usually three max, noshes that tickle their particular taste buds.

It's all very noble to believe that the average voter takes time to study and determine how their lives, and the lives of their friends, loved ones and (the always heart stirring) "fellow Americans" are going to be affected by race, education, healthcare, the economy, employment, or lack thereof, immigration, climate change, guns, crime, terrorism, income inequality, affordable energy, drug use and/or treatment, homelessness, Social Security, Medicare, the environment.........

...all very noble to believe all those issues matter to that average voter.....but all very naive', as well.

Because, to put it in a succinct, easy to digest, sound byte qualified phrase, as to how much each and all of those issues matter to people.....

They don't.

Oh, all of them are on the buffet table and available for tasting and testing, but the hard core truth of the matter is that, allowing, of course, that there are always exceptions to every rule, the average American voter is very much not a nibble, taste and test type.

Mostly, the average American voter zeroes right in on the pigs in a blanket and loads up.

As to our metaphorical buffet here, which pig and which blanket, again, depends entirely on the particular hunger of the particular voter.

Out of work and pretty pissed about it? Well, unemployment is going to certainly be on your radar.

Gainfully employed but recently burgled? Yeah, yeah, poor people without jobs, too bad, so sad,  blah, blah, yada, yada, what's going to be done about crime in the streets, huh?

Good job, blessed to have not been burgled or mugged but convinced that it's only a matter of time before some pillaging, raving, raping brown skin comes kicking down your door to rave, ravage and rape?

Build. That. Wall.

Same principle holds fast, steady and true no matter what one's particular need, desire and/or demand. Because just like men and/or women who convince themselves that Speedo is really the wisest choice for summer beach attire, Americans, in large numbers, are in the habit of convincing themselves that , being bona fide residents of the land of the free and home of the brave they are totally, even automatically, down with equality and compassion and tolerance and, of course, from sea to shining sea, crowning each other's good with brotherhood..... truth....justice...you know....the American way.

When, in fact, it comes to truth? Here's the truth.

The issues that matter to them...are the issues that matter to....them.

Historically, if only theoretically, the choice made in the voting booth was made by taking a number of factors into consideration.

That was then.

In the now, the number of factors has been boiled down to one.

Which candidate is offering up those pigs in a blanket.

Good for my neighbors? Yeah, well, maybe. Good for my friends? Sure, okay, whatever.

Good for my country?

Look, man, that kind of analysis and perspective is way above my pay grade. All I know is that my guy or gal is promising to keep me in pigs in blankets till the cows come home.

Not to mix the barnyard metaphor.

There's actually a slang term for this, now, apparently essential factor.

It's relatively new in the process. Although historians could probably furnish us with some kind of evidence that even Washington or Jefferson had their own groupies, posses' and/or "guys", more contemporary scholars would probably date the current phenomenon back to circa 1960.

Arguably, the first "rock star" election. Resulting in, arguably, the first "rock star" President.

Fast forward twenty years and, bada bing, the broadening of the definition of "rock star" to include the less flashy, but no less glossy,  "celebrity" status.

Ronald Reagan was no Jack Kennedy, but, hey, he had known Marilyn Monroe personally, too, ya dig?

From there, the rock star gene found its way into the American DNA more than once on Election Day.

Bill Clinton.

Barack Obama.

Yeah, obviously, both Bushes were left off the list here. But, first, no one could ever really say the words "rock star" and "George Bush (either H.W. or just W without the H)" without evoking snide laughter and a well deserved chorus of WTF's.

Second, since bashing the "Hollywood elite" is a copyrighted page in the Republican playbook, when it comes to claiming a place at the cool kids table, the GOP can just step off.

This factor, meanwhile, is not to be dismissed nor taken lightly.

Because 2016 took us to Celeb Con One when it came time to choose somebody to faithfully execute the office of.

(Given Trump's bad hair day hustler back story, the combo of Celeb and Con there is screaming for a whole commentary, but I'm gonna file that one and keep eyes on the prize here).

Here's a prediction you're likely not going to hear anywhere else.

The "star wattage" of election 2020 is going to play a major part in the outcome.

Because America 2020 is a celebrity fueled culture.

And America 2020... is a fast food culture.

America wants it hot and fresh and fast....and convenient.

Whether it's good for them...or not.

And how they feel about the issues of our time, what they think about the policies and programs that might not only directly affect the now but possibly have dramatic consequences for generations to come takes a way in the back back seat to the factor.

The X factor.

I don't have any stats or data or evidence, empirical or otherwise, to validate my theory here. But, statistical, empirically evidentiary data kinda flies in the face of the theory in the first place.

The voter who has mined coal for forty years and comes from a family that has mined coal for ten generations doesn't give a rat's ass about facts and figures.

And is guaranteed to swiftly and brutally turn a deaf ear to any evidence of any kind that the days of coal are, if not completely over, then certainly in the nine to ten range.

As in "ten....nine....eight...."

They hear a sales pitch that includes the phrase "going to get you your coal job back" and they buy that pitch like shipping was free and included a free My Pillow with every purchase.

Jobs in the coal industry, in this example, being that particular voter's pig in a blanket.

Yum. Yeah. Hot damn, now you're talkin'.

Truth be told, there's nothing particularly new about this method of electioneering. Voters have been buying pigs in a blanket since the dawn of both time and the ballot box.

Nothing about the process has changed all that much from its original edition.

You have a vote. I want it. I promise you something you want and you give me your vote in return.

The problem with the system, of course, has been, is now, and ever shall be that the vote isn't given in return for the product....or service....or good job with good pay and benefits.

Or. That. Wall.

The problem is that the vote is given in return for the promise.

I'll gladly serve you up that pig in a blanket next week or next year....for your vote today.

What's changed, and dramatically so, is the aforementioned X factor, again, relatively new to the process.

The pitch now is not necessarily being made by a garden variety, standard issue "politician" where it's almost considered standard operating procedure for them to promise you whatever it is you need to hear and you basically pull the arm down on the slot machine and say a quick prayer that three little cherries will show up in those three little windows.

Or three little pigs in a blanket if cherries don't do it for you.

The pitch is being made by celebrities.

To an America that is a celebrity fueled culture.

Celebrity. Noun. A famous person. The state of being well known.

There are about twenty five synonyms available in the particular definition that I looked up just now for the word celebrity and nowhere to be found were there any that came even remotely close to......

...experienced.

Visionary.

Compassionate.

Educated.

Erudite.

Inspiring.

Noble.

Well suited.

Qualified.

This explains a lot about what happened in 1992 and 1996.....and 2008 and 2012.......

But it totally explains what happened in 2016.

As a number of Americans sufficient enough to put the popular vote machinery into TILT mode put a celebrity in the Oval Office.

A celebrity without experience, vision, compassion, education, erudition, inspiration, nobility.....or qualification.

But a celebrity whose entire public persona was built on a foundation of masterful salesmanship.

A celebrity who doesn't know that there's no such Bible book as Two Corinthians, that Frederick Douglass has been dead a long, long time.

That, as near as most reputable historians can determine, there were no airports during the Revolutionary War.

None of that matters in 2019 America.

Because, even after all we've seen and know about him that we suspected but hadn't yet seen and didn't yet know three years ago, his celebrity is intact.

And be it coal jobs or limitless guns or no more pesky rules about polluting the air and water or putting an end to that annoying stream of raving, raging, raping brown skins, each and every one of those is, surely, somebody's pig in a blanket.

Yum. Yeah. Hot damn, now you're talkin'.

Celebrity is going to play a major part in the outcome of the election in America 2020.

Especially an America so infatuated, and influenced, by celebrity that it is easily impressed by just the right pig in a blanket.

Even if it's nothing more than a celebrity peddling pigs in a blanket.

Or pigs in a poke.


















Thursday, June 27, 2019

If You Think About It, Gravestones Are Little Walls, Too



America loves a winner.

And that's why what you're about to be told is going to come as bad news.

Hey, America.

You lose.

You've been defeated, vanquished, knocked out of the race, banished to the cellar, pick the sports metaphor that hits a home run for you and run with it.

You are number one no more.

And here's the dun-dun-dun surprise plot twist that makes life's little melodramas so much more entertaining.

You don't even know that you are number one no more.    


Even worse, you think you're still king of the hill, top of the list, a-number one, head of the heap.

Start spreading this news.

It wasn't a foreign foe or an enemy army that conquered you. It wasn't a virus or bacteria or plague, locusts or otherwise, that did  you in.

It wasn't even the illusory and imaginary hoardes of raping, pillaging, drug crazed brown skins that came pouring over the border like a tidal wave in any given movie most likely starring Dwayne Johnson.

No, what ended your reign as the undefeated champion of, literally, the world, was a simple pebble in your red, white and blue shoe.

A wall.

Even worse, a wall that does not now, nor will it ever, actually exist.

And, pun disguised as metaphor notwithstanding, a wall that sealed your fate as losers.

Stone truth.

Right here and now.

Fifty years ago this year, on July 20th, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to set foot on the surface of the moon.

These days, anyone under the age of, say, 55 most likely relates to that momentous historic day in much the same way those of, say, my generation related to the Wright Brothers' little moment of winging it, circa 1903.

It was of some interest as the tale crossed their radar via dry pages of a dusty history book, but there was no particular emotional connection.

Historic events are mostly comprised of facts and figures, who, what, where, when and, if applicable to the context, why.

Feeling the feelings and emotions that come with the event requires a personal presence either at the event itself or, at the very least, being alive and aware at the time the event takes place.

I know that John Wilkes Booth shot and killed Abraham Lincoln. I can honestly tell you that I haven't got a clue of a sliver of a memory as to when I first heard or just read about that killing.

Meanwhile, it was fifty three years ago this November, but I can still tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the radio broadcaster announce that John F. Kennedy had been shot to death on a Dallas street.

And those twenty or thirty years younger certainly join me in remembering just where they were and what they were feeling as they watched the Twin Towers come crashing down.

Bottom line, history is about reflection. Historic events and any emotional connection to them, themselves, are largely a matter of "you had to be there".

At this point, it's expected, and reasonable, that a lot of folks reading this piece are likely asking "what does all of this have to do with this "America has been defeated" business?

Fair point. Fair question.

And here's the answer.

America simply hasn't got what it takes to get the job done anymore.

And the proof? Well, the proof comes in the attitudes of millions of people who, like a dog with a bone, can't see any other solution, actual or imagined, to the challenges of maximizing the safety of this nation and securing this nation's borders except a solution that was considered high tech, state of the art....

...375 years ago.

1644 for those History Channel types who are also sticklers for exact calendar notation.

Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a wacky, fun area of Asia, circa 200 BC, got his border security on by working on protecting his newly minted dynasty from, as the dry and dusty pages inform us, "incursions by nomads from Inner Asia."

The structure went through this emperor and that emperor until 1644 when it became the border securing/landmark/tourist attraction we all know today.

Courtesy of that era's area supreme leader and/or leaders, the always amusing Mings.

Come for the vases.

Stay for the Great Wall.

One suspects that had bumper stickers and ball caps been around in 1644, they would have been sold out of the very popular "Make China Great Again" edition.

Fast forward to America 2019.

And the perceived solution to what ails U.S. when it comes to legitimate issues of immigration and border security.

And proof positive that America has been defeated, vanquished, knocked out of the race, banished to the cellar, pick the sports metaphor that hits a home run for you and run with it.

Clearly, America has given up.

And, following the inevitable path of logic involved when giving up occurs, the obvious conclusion to be drawn is that America simply doesn't have what it takes anymore.

Because fifty years after John F. Kennedy surprised everyone, especially those whose job it would be to make it happen, by publicly committing the United States to putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth by the end of the year 1969.....600 months after America put its best brains to the staggering goal of putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth...18,250 days after those best and brightest answered the call, put their brains to work on the goal and, fifty years ...600 months.....18,250 days ago, this July, ... accomplished that goal in the America of 1969....

...the America of 2019, the America that considers a failed real estate hustling, pathological liar, pussy grabbing narcissistic sociopath worthy of occupancy in the office that has seen the likes of George Washington.....Abraham Lincoln......Franklin Roosevelt......John F. Kennedy...come and go.....the America that has witnessed the advent of nuclear power, the discovery and distribution of antibiotics, the eradication of polio....the creation of, and common ownership of, a small chip, in that computer on your desk, that computer in your lap, that cigarette pack sized phone in your hand that affords you access to a wealth of information that makes traditional libraries seems like a circular stuck under the windshield wiper of your car in a grocery store parking lot.....

...the America of 2019 believes the venomous, pandering, fear mongering, self serving spew of a failed real estate hustling, pathological liar, pussy grabbing narcissistic sociopath.....not suggesting that the only thing to fear is fear itself....or "throwing our cap over the wall of space travel and having no choice" but to scale that wall and retrieve it.......

instead.....that the best answer to the legitimate issues of immigration and border security.....is not any one of a thousand things that America's best and brightest minds could most surely conceive and create if only encouraged.....or inspired.....or just asked.......

....no......the answer is a wall.

No brain storming, no think tanking, no drawing boards, no limitless 21st century technology being birthed by the most brilliant of the very best and the very brightest in the tradition of those who harnessed nuclear power, discovered penicillin, eradicated polio....created a small chip.......

...put two men on the surface of the moon and returned them, and their equally brave fellow explorer, to the Earth.

Fifty years ago.

This July.

All there is....is a wall.

A tired re-hash....of a 375 year old idea.

Clearly, America simply doesn't have what it takes anymore.

That's indescribably sad.

Given the power and energy and creativity and innovation and brilliance of the America that was.

An America that reached for the stars.

And achieved it.

An America that now has nothing to offer but a wall.

An America that can't even get that off the ground.



 











Tuesday, June 11, 2019

It's Time To Talk Some Plane Truth



Today's commentary is a respite from the viciousness and vitriol that makes up pretty much any and all discussion about politics these days.

Sometimes, it's worth having a chat about aerodynamics.

As always, in this era of shooting, or more applicably, tweeting and/or posting first and asking questions later, a fun facts to know and tell primer is both enlightening and essential.

First, a simple definition.

Aerodynamics. The study of the properties of moving air and the interaction between the air and solid bodies moving through it.

One witty dictionary offered up this sardonic slant as an example.

"When forward thrust is lost, the plane has the aerodynamics of a brick." 


Suddenly, the metaphors potentially leading us down a tempting path of punchlines practically beg to be introduced into evidence, forward thrust as, for example, progressive legislation and the plane now mutated into brick as the current ship of state as piloted by pirates, brigands and assorted family members of pirates and brigands who come along on trips to England for no other apparent reason than a trip to England on the taxpayers dime.

But we're taking a little respite from the viciousness and vitriol that makes up pretty much any and all discussion about politics these days.

So, let's talk aerodynamics.

More to the point, again, for those who are already starting to experience the shakes that come with any imparting of information that doesn't come in the form of an adorable emoji and/or an OMG to an LOL, up to, but not necessarily exceeding an LMAFO, lest you be admonished to STFU, let's make this as simple as possible.

And talk about how things fly.

Again, keeping it simple lest we lose those who can't seem to figure out the complexities of traffic circles or four way stops, but can recite entire story arcs of Game of Thrones, let's focus in on how just two things fly.

Actually, keeping it very simple, because the whole flying thing works the same way for both.

Birds.

And planes.

Explanation, courtesy of a charming website where all kinds of interesting information regarding biology can be found, cleverly, and usefully, named "ask a biologist"




The principles offered up there, of course, apply to planes, as well.

After all, planes are really nothing more than really big birds with overpriced beverage service, very little in the way of legroom and headphones that probably carry every bacteria known to man.

There is, though, one other little factoid that plays a big part in the principle of flight.

Be it bird or really big bird with very little legroom.

We'll come in for a landing on that one in just a few minutes.

The stars at night may be big and bright...but bright isn't something often associated with the Lone Star state these days.

And the infamous billboard certainly wasn't going to sway any jury who might be charged with the task of ruling guilty or not guilty of the charge of "seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you people?"

For those almost always in the know, but, still, paradoxically, out of the loop, here's the gist.

A billboard in the Texas panhandle went viral, over ten thousand photo shares on Facebook. It was large white letters on a simple green background.

And it read as follows....

"Liberals...please continue on I-40 until you have left our (their caps, not mine) GREAT STATE OF TEXAS."

Okay.

Few things worth noting and deserving of mention.

First, the outdoor advertising company that owns the billboard spoke with the advertiser and it has been agreed that the billboard should come down.

Second, more than a few local residents, interviewed about the incident, offered that they were in full support of the message and the messenger.

Third, within just a day or two, a GoFundMe page appeared soliciting funds for a billboard with a more hospitable greeting and very quickly reached its goal.

That sign reads.."Texas is for everyone...not bigotry...Welcome, ya'll."

And, lastly, but certainly not leastly, , for those who own a custom made copy of the Constitution complete with hair trigger always ready to accommodate their itchy finger, stand down, there, little buckaroo and/or buckaree.

The free speech bicker and bitch meeting is three blogs down on the right, just past the men's room.

Oh...and there is one more thing.

The direction I'm heading in here doesn't really have anything to do, per se', with the actual billboard or the positions taken on it.

I'm still thinking aerodynamics.

With a dash and/or dollop of demagogue thrown in to make things zazzy.

A local fill-in talk radio host, in this neck of the woods, posted the picture of the Texas billboard and added his own sassy splash of erudition, enlightenment and education.

"...got to love Texas...I hope this message spreads."

It's worth mentioning that this same on-air "personality" is of the school that finds back slapping hilarity in a Rodney Dangerfield cut and paste meme floating around that reads "Nancy Pelosi is so ugly...that her proctologist accidentally stuck his finger in her mouth."

Wow. Let's hope that you can't overdose on classy because this poor profound patriot is flirting with showing up D.O.A at any minute.

In fairness, I don't know the guy personally, so I have no way of knowing whether he's got a Doctorate in dimwit, having minored in moron, or he's just diddling around with "Trump-The Home Game" and Donald-ing the dickens out of the crowd by playing to them.

Having a little back story in the business of audience affectation my own self, I'm going to cut slack and assume it's mostly about pandering as opposed to pea-braining.

The affirmation of said audience on clear display with the very first comment from an audience member in the thread attached to the billboard picture post.

"...it's time for people to make a stand and not back down from these liberal dick heads..."

Hmm. "Liberal dick heads"......

Well, it's no "Crooked Hillary" or "Crazy Joe" or "Pocahontas", but you keep swingin' for the fences, there, little Rhodes Scholar basement dweller, dream big.

I said, at the outset, that today was going to be about aerodynamics and not politics.

Yeah, well, turns out that didn't fly.

Buh to the dum-bump.

But, in the spirit of getting back, getting back to where we once belonged, let me do a little course correction and resume our flight plan.

First up, just a quick, no-frills, no padding, no editorializing list of accomplishments in America generally credited to those of the liberal dick head persuasion.

See if any of them ring your "oh, yeah, well, there's that" bell. Especially if you laughed and said "goddamn right" when you first heard the phrase "liberal dick head" a minute ago.

The G.I. Bill....how many college degrees in your family came about as a result?

The space program...one small step for man, one giant leap for Uncle Sam.

Earned Income Tax Credit....big words....try these on: more money for you.

Family and Medical Leave Act....this would be why you can actually have a family and keep a job at the same time.

Consumer Product Safety Commission....yeah, yeah, Federal agency, bureaucrats, blah, blah....let's go simple again and say your kids just might have all their fingers because of those bureaucrats.

Americans with Disabilities Act.....done any good handicapped parking lately?

Unemployment insurance...essentially, getting paid for not doing a thing.....like being in government without the free health coverage.

Freedom of Information Act....if you need to know, you can actually find out.

Allowing you to see your own credit records. If you need to know, you can actually find out.

The Voting Rights Act....prohibiting racial discrimination when it comes to casting a ballot....currently being reevaluated by arrogant privileged whites singing "what a friend we have / in Donald", but still....

Women's Right To Vote....affording women the same opportunity men have to take the blame for this mess.

The National Weather Service...yeah, yeah, yada, yada, you say, you've got the new IPhone for that....and where do you think IPhone gets the information, there, brainiac?

Rural Electrification.....was a time them hill folk had to watch their Fox News shows in the dark.

Bank Deposit Insurance.....little protection policy spelled FDIC.

And...big finish....

Medicare/Medicaid.

Social Security.

But, wait! There's more!

Actually, there's plenty more but more and plenty of it isn't the point.

The point, ladies and gentlemen, or in its new, hip contemporary form, "you guys", is this.

Liberal dick heads.  Henceforth referred to "left wing."

Along with their theological, philosophical, political counterparts, the "right wing".

And a very simple, and irrefutable, law of physics.

Found at a website, very cleverly, and usefully, named "how things fly".

"A plane needs balance to be stable. When it has two wings, it has lift on both sides and it is pushed straight up into the air. If you remove one wing, though, the plane is suddenly out of balance. It would have a huge weight in the middle and lift only on one side. causing the plane to lift unevenly....and, inevitably, unavoidably....stall..."

Uh oh.

There are a lot of reasons why the billboard in Texas and the hundreds, even thousands, of similar expressions found in 2019 America are, at best, poor sportsmanship and, at worst, incendiary provocations at a time in American history when flames need to be doused not fanned.

But, again, for the more ADD afflicted, here's a simpler it, as in what it is.

It's just stupid.

A plane, a bird...a nation....with only one wing has nowhere to go...but down.

Whether it's a blowhard billboard deep in the heart or the pandering pyromania of a talk radio show, the risk of stall, crash and burn is the same.

And while politics is the front and center noisemaker in the whole air show of  avarice and antagonism and arrogance, the undeniable fact of the matter is that it's ultimately not about politics at all.

It's simply about an immovable law of physics.

Aerodynamics.