THE PROBLEM WITH CONGRESS

Too many people believe we will get better government by making sure no one in congress gets to stay there for a long time. I don’t know why inexperience would mean better government. In what other field do we prefer raw recruits to veterans? Would you want an inexperienced surgeon? A lawyer fresh out of law school?

Why do you want amateurs making your laws?

Our founding fathers specifically excluded term limits. Their experience under the Articles of Confederation (the document that preceded The Constitution) showed them that good people are not interested in temp jobs for lousy pay in a distant city. Those elected to office walked away from their positions — or never took them up in the first place. There was no future in it.

congress in session

When the Constitution was written, its authors wanted to tempt the best and the brightest into government service. They wanted candidates who would make it a career. They weren’t interested in amateurs or part-timers. Learning the business of governing takes years.

The Articles of Confederation contained exactly the ideas people are promulgating today. It failed. Miserably. Do we need to learn the same lesson again?

The absence of term limits in the Constitution is not an oversight. The writers of the Constitution thought long and hard about this problem.

A little more history

Under the Articles of Confederation, our country fell apart. Elected representatives came to the capital (New York), hung around awhile, then went home. Why stay? The job had no future and their salaries didn’t pay enough to cover their costs, much less support families. That’s why term limits were rejected by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Their aim was to encourage professionals to enter government service.

Term limits remove any hope of building a career in government. It morphs into a hard temp job without a future.

Myth Busting 101: Congress isn’t overpaid

They are paid more than you and me, but compared to what they could be earning elsewhere, they are paid poorly. “What?” you cry, “How can that be?”

Most members of congress are lawyers. The 2011-2012 salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate was $174,000 per year. A third year associate at a good law firm will do that well and after six to twelve years (1 – 2 senate terms), a competent attorney in a good market makes much more.

Senators and representatives have to maintain two residences, one in their native state, the other in DC. If you think $174,000 will support two houses and send the kids to college, you are living in a fantasy world. Which is why many members of congress have other income streams.

Our Founding Fathers expected congressmen, especially senators, to be men of means. They felt only wealthy people would be able to afford government service. And they would be less susceptible to bribery. On the whole, they were right.

Skill and experience matter

Writing a law that can stand up to scrutiny by courts and other members of congress takes a long time. You don’t waltz in from Anywhere, USA and start writing laws. Moreover, great legislators are rare in any generation. A sane electorate doesn’t throw them away.

We are not suffering from an entrenched group of old pols stopping the legislative process. We are suffering a dearth of experienced lawmakers who understand how the system works, know how to compromise. Can work with an opposition party. It’s every pol for him/herself these days … and that means no one is there for us. You know. The people.

Experienced old-timers got old. They retired. Or died. And were replaced by imbeciles.

Above and beyond the skill it takes to write legislation, it takes even longer to gain seniority and respect. Frank Capra notwithstanding, Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington and work miracles. Newly elected members of congress hope to build a career in politics. With luck, some will become great legislators, another Tip O’Neill, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Bob DoleTed Kennedy or another of the giants. Anyone you name connected to important legislation was a multi (many) term representative or senator.

Term limits eliminate any chance of finding great legislators

Term limits guarantee a bunch of amateurs — or worse — fumbling their way around congress. As soon as they figure out where the toilets are and get reasonably good at their jobs, they’ll be gone. Does that make sense? Really?

Garry and Tip O’Neill

If you think your congressman or senator is doing a crappy job, replace him or her with someone you believe will do better.

If you don’t elect them, they won’t be there

We have term limits. These are called elections. Throw the bums out. Vote for the other guy. Term limits were an awful idea in 1788 and they haven’t improved with time. Among the biggest concerns Democrats had about Barack Obama in 2008 was he didn’t have enough experience, hadn’t been in the senate long enough. With term limits, no one would ever have enough experience. Where would we get candidates to run for President? Look at some of the bozos who are trying to run right now. Not exactly the best and the brightest.

We don’t need term limits. We need better candidates.

The President doesn’t run the country

Congress writes legislation and votes it into law. Ultimately, it’s you, me, our friends and neighbors who choose the people to make laws, pass budgets, approve cabinet members and Supreme Court justices.

Whatever is wrong with Congress, it’s OUR fault

The 535 members of congress are chosen by us and if you don’t like one, don’t vote for him or her. If someone gets re-elected over and over, you have to figure that a lot of people vote for that candidate. You may not like him, but other people do. That’s what elections are about. It doesn’t necessarily work out the way you want, but changing the rules won’t solve the problems. Make the job more — not less — attractive so better people will want to go into government. Otherwise, you’re creating a job no one wants.

Ultimately, it’s all about America. Partisanship, special interests, regional issues, party politics and personal agendas need to take a back seat to the good of the nation … and we need to agree what that means . Term limits won’t fix the problem. Because that’s not what’s broken.


POSTSCRIPT: FROM GARRY ARMSTRONG. WHO WAS THERE AND KNOWS HOW IT WORKS. really.

I read all the comments before jumping into the fray.

First, this is a cogent and thoughtful post. That’s the old reporter not your husband speaking. Second, as the old reporter, I’ve had first hand, up close and often personal time with members of Congress and folks who’ve occupied the White House.

Former “Speakers” John McCormack and Tip O’Neil shared stories about the business of working both sides of the house to get things done. Party affiliation was put aside as veteran “pols”, guys who knew each other, brokered deals to get bills passed that helped their constituents. Younger pols, clearly just looking to make their bona fides and move on, were muzzled. These were the “term limit” people so many seem to want today.

Senators Ted Kennedy, Bob Dole, and others often talked about the lengthy but focused verbal card games played to avoid grid lock and, again, get the job done.

Garry and Marilyn at President Clinton’s party on Martha’s VineyardI’ve had the good fortune to spend time with Presidents from JFK through Bill Clinton. The brokering stories were repeated, regardless of party affiliation. Even Richard Nixon, in rare and calm moments, shared his beliefs about how to get the job done, using experience, collected favors and insight on what was important with the clock ticking.

I think my favorite pol was LBJ. I spent some very interesting personal time with Johnson, including a stint in Vietnam where he shared “off the record” insight into the job of running the country and assuming responsibility even if it would eventually cost him his job. (And it did cost him his job.)

So, you’ll have to forgive me if I have little patience with folks who spout opinion with little knowledge of how government and politics work.

Yes, we truly could use some people who really understand public service, have the desire to devote themselves to the demands and collateral damage of the job and want to help their constituents.

Enough of the sound and fury signifying nothing. Back to sports.

FINAL GONG SOUNDS ON OUR WELL STORY

It took 9 months to get the job finished, starting from when our well went dry in late August 2014, until mid-May 2015. That was when Dave, the Well Guy, showed up to finish the job. I do not know how many calls I made that went unanswered and not returned. I considered just showing up at his front door. He lives around the corner, after all, but he probably wouldn’t answer the door. I wouldn’t, if I were him.

He had the grace to not bill me until after he had capped the well and completed the sidewalk. From completion of the job, it then took a mere two months before the bill arrived. I had reached a point of giddy expectation in which I thought maybe he was doing the job free. I mentioned this to Owen, who said “Fat chance of that.”

Eventually, the other shoe dropped. The bill arrived, delivered in person by none other than the elusive Dave.

Completed well-head in front of the garden gate

Completed well-head in front of the garden gate

I’d been holding the funds in a separate account the entire time. I needed to be sure it didn’t get used for some other frivolity, like fixing someone’s teeth or buying a hearing aid.

After the bill arrived, last week I transferred the funds to the checking account so I could issue a bank check. I left a week between transferring funds and paying him to be sure the bank didn’t get weird about my moving so much money at one time. They didn’t.

When the calendar flipped into July, I scheduled Dave’s payment.  Minus $100, a small fraction of the total bill.

“Why?” asked Garry.

“How long did it take Dave to finish the well?”

Garry thought a moment. “A little more than nine months.”

“Well,” I said, “In nine months, after he calls me a dozen times asking for the money — and I ignore the calls — then, after a suitable period of time has passed, I’ll make sure he gets that last bit of money. If he has a poetic streak, he’ll get the point.”

My work here is done.

ANOTHER SIN FOR OUR NEW WORLD

I did a some quick, shallow research on the original seven big ones, known lovingly as “the seven deadly sins.” Here is a quick reminder for those who didn’t do Dante, or who have forgotten:

Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride.

istock-editorial-license

istock-editorial-license

The original sins are more than words. They are concepts.

Starting from the top, we find Lust. It isn’t merely having indiscriminate sex. Or doing it with people to whom you aren’t married. Or with sheep, for that matter. Lust is not just for horny teenagers, starlets, or white-collar men having a midlife crisis.

Lust is an intense desire. It is a general term for desire. Therefore lust could involve the intense desire of money, food, fame, power or sex. In Dante’s Purgatorio, the penitent walks in flames to purge himself of lustful thoughts and feelings. Perhaps ambition fits nicely into this category? Just a thought.

On this earthly plane, there’s a lot of lusting going on and sex is the least of it. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say sex is the best of it. Possibly the only piece of the “lust sinology” that’s fun and might do somebody some good.

So how about Gluttony, eh? If you think it means you eat too much, you’d be right, though eating is a just one of many gluttonous activities in which you can indulge.

Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. Gluttony can be interpreted as selfishness; essentially placing concern with one’s own interests above the well-being or interests of others.

As far as I can tell, our whole society has been doing a lot of gulping … of natural resources, of fancy cars, houses, gadgets, widgets. We also eat too much, but in the overall scheme of things, food is the least of the problems.

Moving along, we get to a perennial favorite: Greed. You can’t go wrong with greed. For thousands of years, greed has been on the “most popular sin” list for most people. It’s probably the single most motivating of the sins, having lost its evil connotations and been enshrined as something wonderful to which we all ought to aspire. Greed rules the “bottom line.” It is idolized, enshrined, canonized by corporate America. It is not a sin, but a goal to which everything is in service. Yet it’s one of the seven deadly sins. What a world, eh?

Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice, cupidity or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of material possessions. (Like money and profit?) Scavenging, hoarding materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority are actions likely inspired by greed.

According to Gordon Gecko, “Greed is good.” Not to worry. If Hollywood promotes it, it must be good.

Sloth is charming. It hardly seems worthy of mention in such awe-inspiring company.

Sloth (Latin, acedia) can entail different vices. While sloth is sometimes defined as physical laziness, spiritual laziness is emphasized. Failing to develop spiritually is key to becoming guilty of sloth. In the Christian faith, sloth rejects grace and God. Sloth has also been defined as a failure to do things that one should do. By this definition, evil exists when good men fail to act.

Wrath is a big deal, the cause for much of what ails America these days.

Wrath (Latin, ira), also known as “rage”, may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. Wrath, in its purest form, presents with self-destructiveness, violence, and hate that may provoke feuds that can go on for centuries. Wrath can persist long after the person who committed a grievous wrong is dead. Feelings of anger can manifest in different ways, including impatience, revenge, and self-destructive behavior, such as drug abuse or suicide. And ranting on social media.

We seem to be in the middle of an epidemic of wrath in the U.S. Politically and socially, we are an angry, hate-filled people. Scary stuff.

Ah Envy! The motivator of crime, the inciter of ambition.

Like greed and lust, Envy (Latin, invidia) is insatiable desire. It is similar to jealousy in display discontent towards someone’s traits, status, abilities, or rewards. The difference is that envy also desires the entity — the thing or person — and covets it. Envy can be directly related to the Ten Commandments, specifically, “Neither shall you desire… anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Stop staring at your neighbor’s ass.

Pride is the downfall of smart people. If there’s a sin to which I am devoted, it’s pride. It pops up in so many ways. Believing one is smarter than everyone else, that one is really in control of ones fate (yeah, right!). It is the sweetest of sins, the most comfortable sin, the beloved of the educated and sophisticated set. My personal favorite.

If it turns out a Judeo-Christian God is truly in charge, this sin guarantees I will not make it to heaven because that particularly wrathful deity was firmly again anyone’s pride but his own.

In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins. It is the source of all other sins. It is identified as believing that one is essentially better than others, and failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, as well as excessive admiration of the one’s self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). 

What could I add to this prestigious list?

Allow me to suggest Willful Ignorance, a determined blindness to facts, reality, and knowledge. Willful Ignorance comfortably works in concert with Wrath, Envy, Lust, Pride to virtually define the modern era.

I have been offered the opportunity to become the President of the International Internet … sort of a virtual uber-President of Everything.

As a devotee of pride, I’m definitely qualified for this job. What could God possibly know about computers? They were not part of the original creation, so I’ll take the job.

Speaking of greed, this comes with a gigantic paycheck, right? And, sloth speaking here, I’ll have assistants to do all the real work, won’t I?

A SHADE OF DIFFERENCE

What are your colors? by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Everyone has favorite colors. You can probably tell what someone likes by the colors in their home. People pick out the color for their rooms not just by the color, but the shade of color. Big home improvement stores will mix and match colors for you so you have just the right shade. They stock color palates and have little colored papers you can take with you while you stare at the walls and envision how it will look. Some will even give you a little sample so you can stare at a brush stroke you put on the wall and dream of a whole room in that color.

Blue is a nice color to me, but I would never paint the walls a dark blue, only pastels. As a matter of fact, there would be no deep dark colors in my home decorating, if you can call it that. Purples and dark greens certainly are too harsh anyway, but maybe they would appear on your walls. That’s fine for you. Who am I to judge you by your color selection?

skin-colors-cropped

I like Hunter Green in the kitchen accessories, but not on the walls. Does that seem strange to you? For a number of years I found it the color of choice in Tupperware and kitchen utensils, but I would never paint with it. Never. Does that sound a little biased? If I found the sea green of your bathroom just a little too garish, would you hold it against me?

At a past place of employment I had a manager who wanted to paint his office a nice shade of lavender. If it was good enough for his bedroom, soothing and relaxing, then perhaps it would be good for his office. After all, the company said he could have any color he wanted. Unfortunately, there were those who did not like lavender, especially on office walls. He was derided for his choice of color. There were those that snickered behind his back. Some openly pointed out the folly of associating with such colors, and at work no less! The color of choice around the building seemed to be rather bland. You know the color, an off white that looks about the same no matter how long it is on the wall. This shade of lavender was…well, rather gay according to some people.  What does that say about a new manager? He was judged, but he was certainly straight (or as certain as I can be). Anyway, it was a nice shade.

This prejudice against color is not limited to the walls at home or the office. It goes well beyond the choice of furniture and the carpet on the floor. It is not just the accessories in your house or indeed anywhere in your life that gets judged. It has to do with all your color choices. Are my friends really judging me by the colors I choose?  If I chose white am I boring? If I choose black am I too gothic? If I choose lavender am I too gay? Perhaps this sounds just a bit ridiculous.

Yet, people choose their friends this way. They make instant judgments of the people they do not know by their shade of color. Ask just about anyone and they will have an opinion of these color choices. People can look across a crowded street and when they spot a person of another color, they formulate an instant opinion. Perhaps a person looks like a gangster, and you should avoid crossing the street. After all most people if that color are not to be trusted. Then there are those that are a certain shade of white that is different from my shade. Many people will quickly decide they are crooks, or they are greedy or they are shiftless. This is not just an issue between races, it is also an issue within a race. White people judge other white people and black people do the same. You do not think so? Ask around. Many have color palates for race that are far more discriminating than their choices of wall color.

When the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960’s appeared to tear down color barriers, and people of all shades of color were welcomed into every arena of business, society was pleased with the progress. While some laws seem to prohibit color choices, the fact is that color choices are as bad or worse than ever. The judgments are perpetuated by social media prejudices and Fake News reports that are meant to push people to the left, right, middle and anywhere else they can separate themselves from others. “Progressive” radio, “Patriot” radio, “Conservative” radio, “Liberal” radio all highlight the difference between us and “them.” If you don’t think “them” frequently means another color, listen more closely. If you think that many of these talk and Fake News shows hate the President of the United States because he is black, you may be on the right track.

The proliferation of these judgments by everyone from politicians and so-called newsmen to the average person on-line, based largely on color, means that the color scheme that is the world today is more divided than ever. We may no longer be segregated by law, but we are now segregated by personal choices. Many can not find it in their hearts to celebrate the different shades of life we all have to offer. They only want certain colors to be approved for the walls they put up in their own existence. Perhaps this sounds just a bit ridiculous, because it is.

So we’re different colours
And we’re different creeds
And different people have different needs.
It’s obvious you hate me
Though I’ve done nothing wrong
I’ve never even met you so what could I have done?

For 10 Song About Racism That Don’t Suck, check out all the videos on flavorwire.com  You won’t see some of the hip-hop songs of today that deal with race, but you may recognize some of the rock songs of other eras.  The 10th song on the list is the harsh vision of the old South by Billie Holiday performing Strange Fruit.

EVERYONE IS ANGRY

Rage is sweeping the nation. Fury is in the wind. The fire of anger is fueled by an Internet full of lies and innuendo intentionally created to raise the temperature of our national dialogue until no dialogue is possible. By television news that isn’t news. And by rumors and misinformation spread person-to-person as if it were true.

Why?

A lot of folks who should (could) know better are (apparently) willing to believe anything — everything — they read, hear, or see. Regardless of the source or how ridiculous it sounds, they believe it. How, you ask, can anyone believe such a load of total bullshit?

frankenstein angry mob_10

I have heard a lot of explanations.

* Brainwashing. If you watch enough Fox News, you lose your grip on reality.

* Ignorance. People don’t know better.

* Stupidity. They are mentally deficient.

* Conspiracy. It’s something in the water.

I don’t believe it. Nothing accounts for the massive amount of mindless, parrot-like behavior except an enthusiastic willingness to participate. You’ve got to want to believe.

Fox News didn’t do it to them. Fox News is them. Fox and its ilk would not (could not) exist were it unprofitable. And it would not be profitable (and therefore would not exist) if its audience had not already been there when they came on the air. Millions of disaffected Americans were sitting in their recliners, waiting to have this crap fed to them. Delighted to have someone tell them exactly what they already believed.

It’s a willful act of thick-headedness. For whatever reason, the U.S.A. has a great many unhappy citizens. They expected the American dream, but didn’t get it. Maybe it isn’t a nightmare, but they sure didn’t get what they expected. Their lives aren’t even close to what they thought they’d be. The marriage is shitty. Job unsatisfying. Doctor doesn’t listen. The refinanced mortgage is unpaid and retirement looms. Who did this to me?

The guy or gal in the mirror could not possibly be responsible, but someone has to take the blame. So, they figure they’re being cheated. By the Democratic Party. Congress. President Obama. Welfare recipients. Illegal immigrants. Secret cabals of Muslim terrorists who are infiltrating our cities and towns. Liberal media. All media except fair and honest Fox. Whatever is wrong can’t be accidental. Can’t be the result of their own poor choices. It must be Those People.

Angry people with no joy in their lives marry their misery. They stop looking for solutions. All they want is fuel for their resentment. They could look for the truth, make an effort to repair their damaged lives. No, thanks. They don’t want things to get better. They want revenge on a world which has failed them. So, they spew vitriol, bigotry, hate, anger, rage, jealousy, envy.

Our world is full up with miserable people, convinced they’ve been betrayed. We are exploding with such people. Most appalling is they have become a power unto themselves. Maybe we should put something in the water?


Bone of Contention – I picked a contentious issue about which I care deeply.

2014: IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I don’t do resolutions and I don’t make promises about the future. If nothing else has been learned, I know I can’t predict how life will go, cannot make pledges based on uncertain destiny.

That being said, this is the time of year for summing up before moving on. When I read the columns about all celebrities who’ve died in the past 12 months, there are always a few surprises. Some I thought were already dead. I do a mental countdown. How many remain from the golden age of movies? Not many.

I pat myself on the back. I’m here!

Boston road signs

I take encouragement from surviving legends. Exhibit A: Vin Scully, the Hall of Fame broadcaster who will begin his 66th year calling Dodger baseball games in 2015. I’m old enough to remember Scully calling games his first year, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. One of the highlights of the past year was catching my favorite sportscaster doing Dodger games on the Baseball Network. He is a rarity now, a wordsmith amidst a contemporary gaggle of illiterate sports yakkers and screamers. Thanks, Vin, for making me smile during the long, depressing baseball season in Red Sox nation.

Does Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year” apply to 2014? On first glance, I would think not. On second look maybe it does.

72-OnTheRoad-9-25_044

The early part of the year should be titled “High Anxiety”.  Marilyn, who always had a heart murmur, discovered she had a much larger heart problem. Her ticker wasn’t ticking correctly. After several exams and consults, Marilyn was told she needed heart valve surgery. It was supposed to be simple, maybe a repair rather than a replacement.

It was very far from simple.

Five procedures later,  Marilyn had a new heart valve and a pacemaker — among other things. All of this was supposed to improve Marilyn’s quality of life. The jury is still out and probably depends on ones definition of “improved.”

I remind her — and she reminds me — and then herself — that at least she has a life, which is arguably an improvement over the likely alternative. The doctors keep changing the timetable on Marilyn’s recovery. Mostly they tell her she looks fine. I’m not sure Marilyn agrees.

My current home.

Fast forward a few months. As the Red Sox were slowly sinking into last place, we discovered we had a very big and far more real problem.

Water. The stuff of life. Agua. H20. Long story short, our well died! What to do? Marilyn checked how much it would cost to fix the well. She did some quick math. Then, she did some slower math. Then did the whole thing again.

We were dead in the water. Oops!

Lacking rich relatives to bail us out and being the people others usually came to for help, we looked in the mirror. Our reflections didn’t pony up any cash. Marilyn came up with an obvious, but painful, answer.

We would have to ask for help. It stuck in my craw. Humiliating. But there was no other option. We reached out, expecting nothing, hoping for a something. Dark days indeed.

Marilyn, as usual, took control , if you could call it control. She stayed on top of the contractors while fending off her own anxiety about the desperation of our situation. You can do without a lot of things, but not without water.

72-REFRACTION-Peacham-Monday_010

And then … people responded. Friends we hadn’t heard from in years, people who we knew only as commentors on Serendipity. It was a shock … and for once, a pleasant and welcome shock.

Friends and strangers alike displayed an overwhelming generosity. We were able to have the contractors come and rebuild the well, a real life version of the finale of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” At the end of one of the longest crises in our history, we have water. Clean, cold, water. The siege is over and with a little luck, over forever.

I’m still stunned at the kindness and generosity of everyone who responded to our plight, a powerful reminder to be grateful during this holiday season … and every other season.

So, maybe Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year” does, after all, apply to 2014.

Excellent things can arrive in very peculiar packages.

HOW TO WRITE VERY POPULAR ARTICLES FOR YOUR BLOG

From WordPress, today’s Daily Prompt:  Hindsight — Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.


Oh come now. Really? I don’t even have my first post. I deleted it years ago. Does WordPress believe all its followers are baby bloggers who have written 10 posts and started blogging the day before yesterday?

Not exactly me. But, in the name of playing into the irrationality of the moment, I’m going to post my most popular ever post. I’ve rewritten it several times. It has gotten more than 11,500 hits in two versions and a couple of thousand more in other rewrites. Most of the views accumulated during the first 24 hours after I published it … more than half during the first hour or two.

Despite it being no great shakes as posts go, it went sort of viral. Go figure, right? This is a perfect example of why it’s so hard to figure out what kind of post is going to “sell.” How much research, writing craft, thought, and soul you can put into it a piece … and no one is interested. Research is irrelevant. What matters is that it catches popular fancy.

The only way you can almost guarantee popularity is to figure out what is the “latest thing” buzzing around the Internet, then write about it. Preferably with pictures. It doesn’t have to be well-written. It doesn’t have to be factual, accurate, fair, or in any way important. It absolutely doesn’t have to be original and will probably sell better if it isn’t.

If that is what you want as a blogger, good luck to you. The Internet welcomes you. Bring on your rumors, gossip, slanderous out-of-context quotes. Be sure to use, as sources, those who don’t know the difference between opinion and fact and don’t care.

Find some salacious photographs. Publish them. Don’t worry about copyright infringement because no one else seems worried about it. I won’t read you, but lots of other people will.

And now…


 THE FBI CAN’T DO A SIMPLE GOOGLE SEARCH? – REDUX, REDUX, REDUX

On Criminal Minds in the première episode for the 2012-2013 season, the “perp” sews a victims mouth shut but in his mouth leaves the message “Gazing through to the other side.” The BAU FBI team cannot find any reference to this quote. So I typed it into Google and hit Enter. Guess what?

TV Camera - 23

It’s part of a song, the lyrics to which essentially are the plot of the episode in which the first four victims are women, thrown into ditches, with their mouths sewn shut.

If I can find this in one hit on Google, is the FBI less capable than I? Unable to do the most basic Google search? There isn’t anything more basic than typing in what you want to know about then hitting Enter, is there? My granddaughter could do this kind of search before she was in first grade.

If anyone thinks I believe the FBI is actually producing the show, anyone who can chew gum and walk at the same time knows this is a network television show that employs a staff of writers to write scripts supposed to make us believe these are hyper-competent profiler/agents. And they can’t run a Google search any grade school child can run. Wow! Bad writing and plagiarism? What a terrific combination for a show about the FBI!

There could be an innocent explanation, like the real authors of the material were paid, but never credited. I’d like to hear that. It could restore a bit of my rapidly diminishing faith in humankind. Because it couldn’t be plagiarism. CBS wouldn’t allow that, right? Because networks, TV execs, writers, etc. are all so honest such a thing could never happen. And the tooth fairy left you a buck under your pillow.

The song is by a group named Blitzen Trapper, lead singer/lyricist, Eric Earley.

Thank you to Pat at CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS for the link to the YouTube video.

The lyrics follow.

“Black River Killer”

It was just a little while past the sunset strip
They found the girl’s body in an open pit
Her mouth was sewn shut, but her eyes were still wide
Gazing through the fog to the other side
They booked me on a whim and threw me deep in jail
With no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail
Just gazing at the marks on the opposite wall
Remembering the music of my lover’s call

So you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

It was dark as the grave, it was just about three
When the warden with his key came to set me free
They gave me five dollars and a secondhand suit
A pistol and a hat and a worn out flute

So I took a bus down to the Rio Grande
And I shot a man down on the edge of town
Then I stole me a horse and I rode it around
Til the sheriff pulled me in and sat me down

He said, you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

Well the sheriff let me go with a knife and a song
So I took the first train up to Oregon
And I killed the first man that I came upon
Because the devil works quick, you know it don’t take long

Then I went to the river ford to take a swim
You know that black river water is as black as sin
And I washed myself clean as a newborn babe
And then I picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
Oh when, oh when
Will that black river water wash me clean again
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again

It took me fewer than 10 seconds to find this. What’s going on guys? Television has become boringly derivative, but this is not merely derivative, it’s theft. I wouldn’t mind hearing from someone about this. I would like to hear an explanation.


NOTES:

1) According to one of the show’s producers, the show is based on the Blitzen Trapper song. The group was compensated for its use. It isn’t plagiarism, merely bad writing.

2) If the writers don’t want us to assume the same rules apply in the TV show as apply in the real world, they should not pretend the show is about FBI agents who are part of the élite unit of an actual law enforcement agency. If you don’t want to play by the rules of the real world, create a fake world where you can have stuff fall up because gravity does not exist. You cannot have it both ways, at least not if you want anyone to believe you.

3) I wrote this post September 2012 as a quick comment on what I thought was poor script writing — and un-credited use of someone else’s material. If you wish to continue arguing anyway, please feel free to argue amongst yourselves. I’d appreciate being left out of it.

4) I’ve written a follow-up post to this about morals and Hollywood. You can find it here, if you’re curious. It’s called “Gazing Through to the Other Side: Hollywood and Moral Character.” It alone has gotten more than 1200 views and it’s a better piece that the original … but that’s just my opinion and as the author, clearly I don’t know anything.