IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME – GARRY ARMSTRONG

As the World Series is closing in, it’s time to remember a little bit.

Does anyone remember Grantland Rice? He authored quite a few books about sports. And he is the guy who said:


“It’s not whether you win or lose. It’s how you play the game.”


That’s how we used to feel about our national pastime.

Ebbets Field, over looking Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, was my field of dreams. Harry Truman, then Dwight Eisenhower would issue special remarks about the significance of each new baseball season. It was bi-partisan stuff and it pulled Americans together in the love of that greatest pastime.

Each spring, hope sprung eternal.

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Growing up as a kid from Brooklyn, there were my beloved Dodgers. The Bums, one of 16 teams in the Major Leagues. Eight teams in each league playing a 154 games during the regular season.  We could identify the players on all the teams, including the batting orders. We respected opposing players, like Stan “The Man” Musial, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Mickey Mantle, and Bob Feller. Rivalry wasn’t war. It was part of the game and you cheered the winners, even when it wasn’t your team.

A young Vin Scully, Mel Allen, Red Barber, Harry Caray, and Jack Buck were prominent voices carrying the games across the country. St. Louis was the west coast. Virtues — not vices — were extolled. The pennant winners went directly to a September World Series.

Most games were played during the day, giving kids a chance to follow everything. World Series champions were special guests on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Too often, they were the dreaded New York Yankees, but we still applauded. They were heroes. We respected them for their prowess. That was baseball when our world was young.

Everything has changed. Nowadays, there are too many teams and many more games. The season is like a Eugene O’Neill play, a long day’s journey into night.

The Prez Race has become like the modern baseball season. Spencer Tracy’s “fictional” Boston Mayor foretold these changes in “The Last Hurrah”, 60 years ago. You can see the section of that movie HERE at this TCM Movie site.

Tracy’s candidate would just be shaking his head now. It has all come true. Truer than true and worse than we imagined possible.

There’s the monumentally long regular beisbol season. You do everything you can to reach the post season. Lots of players are injured or burned out by the time the season’s winding up (or down, depending on which teams you are following) to the big finale.

The Post Season is the General Election race.

The World Series are the final campaign days. The hottest team of the moment will win it all with the best strategy — and a little luck.

Dwight David Eisenhower, president and previously, Allied Commander for WW2 (and the only U.S. President to also have won an Oscar) wanted to be a baseball player. Another time, another world.

JFK was a game changer.

Obama was Jackie Robinson.

Orange Head — Ty Cobb wins it all!!

In beisbol jargon, next year is 2020.

Grantland Rice is turning over in his grave.

Let’s sign some good free agents. Maybe next season we’ll get a win!!

NOT ANOTHER DIME – MARILYN ARMSTRONG WITH BEN TAYLOR

I am a Democrat. A liberal, but Democrat is close enough.

I currently get about 20 emails a day asking me to contribute to someone’s campaign or just to the party coffers for some good cause or other. I support many of these causes, but I’ll never give a penny to any political party. Why? Am I a fervent advocate of campaign corruption reform? Do I harbor an idealistic — and irrational — belief that change will come to the system? Yes and no, but that’s not why I won’t give any money to anything political.

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Not my donkey, but a nice donkey

In 2012, I donated three dollars to Obama.

As a thank you, I got spammed. Every Democrat running for office no matter where they lived, sent me endless emails every week. It kept getting worse. A new cause, a few hundred more emails. Every email predicted the immediate end of the world should I fail to dip into my wallet right now! It reached an insane crescendo. One day, I spent an entire day, morning to evening, unsubscribing to what seemed to be every politician and cause looking for money. The incoming mail dropped to an almost bearable level.

It seemed that each time I signed a petition or went online to read a political post, I was automatically — without notification or permission — subscribed to the site and its multiple mailing lists. I was a piece of data being mined.

That’s wrong. It’s spam. It’s offensive.

Uncle sam political cartoon 1899

The Democratic Party — all political parties, their candidates and causes (I found myself on the Conservative Republican mailing list because I read an article and they signed me up, too) — are on my “not one red cent” list. Because a $3 dollar donation got me spammed. By the way, if you are naïve enough to provide your phone number to any political group, expect never-ending intrusive phone calls on your home or cell phone asking for donations.

If they want my opinion, they can pay for it.

The political funding system needs reformation. Equally in need of reform is the way all political groups feel free to use your personal information for their own purposes. They will subscribe you to their mailing  and calling lists because you tried to read their literature. Which, in theory, is what they want you to do. Participating in politics — trying to be a good citizen — will get you bombarded with propaganda until you declare a plague on all their houses.

By: politicalavenue-com

It’s not okay. Really, it’s not. It’s intrusive and sneaky. It is a massive abuse of my right to privacy. I did not agree to let everyone in the world use my personal data for their own agenda. Visiting a web site does not imply permission to invade my privacy. I do not know how other people handle this sort of thing, but it means that I will never donate a penny to anyone running for office — or support of any of their causes. Ever.

A friend of mine wrote the following letter and sent me a copy. He thought I might make want to use it. Sure enough. Nice to know it isn’t just me!


Author: BEN TAYLOR 

We elect you — our representatives — to… uh… represent us. You are paid healthy salaries. You enjoy the best health care in the country and even draw a salary after retirement, even though you’ve been voted out of office. What a great job you’ve got! But that’s not enough. You continuously ask us for more money — from those of us who have little more to give than an opinion.

So, what do you think about maybe doing the job you were elected to do? Without us having to cough up additional contributions — for which there seem to be endless requests?

What gives corporations the right to make big donations and project opinions that may not be shared by its employees? Employees who, for fear loss of job, are hesitant to express an opposite opinion to the handful of upper management?

Wouldn’t that donation money be better spent by passing it on to the employee salaries, not to mention the huge bonuses given to executives who really don’t need it since their already enormous salaries ought to cover any living expenses they would incur?

So, the rich guys need tax breaks? I don’t think so! 

We as average citizens don’t ask you to contribute to our lives by donating money to our household budget funds or maybe helping us pay off our mortgages or car loans. All we ask is that we are allowed to take care of ourselves with dignity. That you prevent the rich, who can already pay for anything they possibly could use or want out-of-pocket from taking away the little we depend on to scrape out an existence.

Just think of what kind of country we’ll have if we are all poor. Is this what is meant by “making America great again?” Impoverishing
everyone who isn’t already rich? Ignoring science while destroying the planet for the advantage of the few who might profit? Employing social media to carry on petty quibbling, racial, religious and other ethnic injustices while great, and potentially greater, disasters occur all around us?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!!!
​ ​
NO! NOT ANOTHER DIME!


They — both parties, all parties, all the pols — have done it to themselves.  Before pointing fingers at “the system,” they need to admit that they are the system. They are the abusers.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I know there is no way I’m giving anything to anybody. Ever. Not even when I wish I could. Because I know if I give a couple of bucks to one person, every single politician will have their hand out and bomb me with letters of upcoming catastrophes. This has got to stop somewhere.

How about now?

LATE NIGHT DOSES OF SANITY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I can’t stop reading or watching the news. I don’t read as much or watch as obsessively as I used to, but I can’t stay away.

I do have an antidote to the craziness and corruption I read about during the day. The secret to my mental stability is a healthy dose of the late night talk shows. They reaffirm my belief that intelligent and moral life still exist in this country. It also confirms for me that I’m not alone in seeing the Trump Administration as dangerous and erratic, out of touch with reality, and just plain stupid and uninformed.

I’m comforted by the jokes and comments of the liberal late night hosts. They voice my frustrations and fears, horror and exasperation. Lately it even seems that the late night personalities are having an impact on the national discussion of issues.

Jimmy Kimmel recently gave an emotional monologue about his infant son’s heart surgery and his need for health insurance in order to survive. It reached, and touched, a lot of people. A conservative Republican Senator got into a pissing contest with Kimmel and came off badly. Some people think that Kimmel may have humanized the issue of health care and helped prevent the repeal from passing in the Senate.

Kimmel talking about his son and tearing up

Maybe when the ‘Trump is crazy and dangerous’” drumbeat from different sources gets loud enough and broad enough, it may give courage to the timid Republicans who agree, but are afraid to act.

Republican Senator Bob Corker said in an interview that most Republican senators agree that Trump is insane, incompetent, a moron, and temperamentally unfit to be President. They also agree he is a serious danger to the country and the world. So now, all we have to do is get these assholes to speak out. Then something constructive might actually happen in Washington, D.C.

Even Trump’s faithful are beginning to abandon him. Recent polls show significant erosion of support from his ‘base’. So maybe soon, Republican Congressmen can be less afraid of losing electoral support from this ‘base’, and more afraid of a nuclear war being started by a tweet.

Maybe the voices of sanity in the government, the press, the internet and on television, will crescendo to a level where Republicans will have to listen and actually do something about Trump. I don’t know if or when this will happen. But my nightly doses of reality and sanity keep my hope alive.

ARE PEOPLE REALLY THAT STUPID?

It’s not the first or the last time Garry and I will have this conversation. Really, we started having it a few years ago when we realized how many people were convinced there is no global weather change in progress. When Trump hit the ground running for office, we had a lot of trouble believing other Americans could be stupid enough to really vote for someone so obviously unqualified for the position.

When he was elected, I had to accept how many Americans are far more stupid than I imagined possible. Even all these months later, I still can’t fathom the depth of their dumbness.

Last night, on Facebook — I swear this is true — there was an article announcing all the hurricanes are man-made with laser beams. Proof? A Chinese guy with glasses said so. I got through perhaps three paragraphs before I clicked off. I’m sure millions of American morons already believe this. Somewhere, men and women are discussing how “They’ve proved it! The government is creating hurricanes so they can take over the world.”

Nothing anyone tells them will convince them otherwise.


You think I’m making it up?

Geo-engineering theorists and researchers say that Hurricane Harvey is a pretext to impose martial law  © Neon Nettle

Hurricane Harvey Exposed As ‘Man Made Weapon’ Used To Impose Martial Law   © Neon Nettle


And if that’s not enough, check out: PUTIN HAS PROOF US MADE HURRICANES WITH MACHINES.  Feel free to put your brain in cold storage and believe. You saw it on Facebook, so it must be true.

Garry commented he sees total stupidity in the vacant eyes of Trump supporters at the last rally — wherever it was. “Maybe Alabama?” he asks me.

“I think so,” I admit.

It is so hard to keep track of this stuff. Why is the president holding rallies anyway? He was already elected. How many times does he need to be elected? Isn’t once usually enough?

Garry thinks the empty-eyed, slack-jawed followers must have eaten something. Maybe they weren’t always that stupid, but something came along and stupefied them. I said I think it is because we have allowed and encouraged the mythologizing of history. A war to promote slavery becomes a sentimental cause célèbre. A battle to eliminate our Natives is suddenly a rational battle to create a “real country” as if it wasn’t “before.”

All countries do it. It isn’t just us. After some appalling event has occur, before the last blood is dry, there’s a rosy wash splashed over the occurrence. It wasn’t so bad. It doesn’t take long, either. Ten years, tops — and suddenly, everyone is saying “Oh, it wasn’t all that bad.”

An older person … a gray-haired elder stands and says “NO, no, it was terrible. I was there.” We pat him or her on the head because obviously, she or he must be senile. We know we are right because it says — right here, in this book or on the silver screen — it wasn’t bad. It was noble. It was just. It was good.

The years have marched on. As my interest in history has deepened, I have lost all patience with glorious tales of rulers and their battles. All monarchs are tyrants. All are corrupt despots. The people who follow them are no better than their rulers. They either have lost — or never knew — that when you dispose of intelligence to mindlessly follow evil, you are equally evil.

Don’t forget: somewhere today, groups of people are talking about how hurricanes are made by secret government agencies … because there are no climate changes here! When you can’t believe science, you might as well believe any deranged idea someone promotes online.

GOOD NEWS STARTS WITH A BALL AND A BAT

Where have all “the positive” stories gone? Didn’t there used to be “positive stories” on the news?

Actually, the answer to that is “not really.” Even in the better-than-now old days, when the world was a little bit less insane, and calamities weren’t a daily (hourly?) event, news media focused their efforts on evil-doers.

Drugs. Murder. Fire. Car crashes. Plane crashes. Derailment. Financial disasters. Trials. Protests. Scandal. More scandal.

Garry worked in the news from 1962 until he retired in 2001. He didn’t do a lot of “positive” stories. He did a lot of murders, trials, drugs, fires, and blizzards. The theory of news stations is that death and destruction sells best. If you don’t have death and destruction, scandal and political protests can take up the slack. If, by some miracle, you run out of scandal … well … maybe you can add a feature about glorious autumn leaves or the new, improved zoo. Maybe there’s a hero somewhere getting an award.

That’s not just the way it is. That is the way it was and has been, as long as there has been “news.”


News isn’t good. It should be called “bad news” since it pretty much always is. Bad, that is.

They used to say “if it bleeds, it leads.” Carnage makes news sell better. If you can scare people to death, your ratings are sure to go up. We complain about the awful things going on politically and climatically, but news ratings are way up. The worse things get, the higher ratings go. Even people — like us — who used to avoid watching news find we watch at least a piece of it every night because we have to at least keep up with change.

The only other thing that sells news as well as murder is extremely bad weather. If, by some extraordinary luck, you get terrible weather that also results in deaths, bet your ass every news channel will be on it like ticks on a dog.

It is interesting to me that the same people who complain about how we don’t have any “good news” on the news, also complain that sports are a waste of time. Because essentially, sports are the good news portion of the news.

The point of sports is to have something entertaining and involving which doesn’t include politics, ranting commentaries, and piles of bodies. For example, you can get fully engrossed in baseball for decades or your whole life. The most tragedy you are likely to experience is a bad shoulder injury by a winning pitcher, a losing home team, or maybe a scandal. Even the scandals rarely involve death or destruction.

I have learned to enjoy sports. I don’t come from a sporting family, though I know back in the very old days, we listened to the Dodgers on the radio and rooted for them. We weren’t fanatics, but we were interested. For the past couple of years, the Red Sox and the Patriots have brought smiles to our faces even when the rest of the world was in a state of siege.

Say what you want about “overpaid athletes.” You try throwing a fastball 90 feet to get the batter out at the plate. It may be a game, but it isn’t an easy game. I bet you couldn’t play it no matter how much money they offered you. They pay these guys a lot of money the same way and for the same reasons we pay actors, singers, dancers, and other performers a lot of money. Entertainment matters. Why do you feel a great pitcher is less deserving of being well-paid than a movie or television star? You mean … pretending to be a detective on TV is so much more validating than playing quarterback on a football team? Because being a fake detective is inherently more enriching than throwing a ball?

We pay entertainers — including athletes — a lot of money because they do things we can’t do and which we enjoy seeing. Because we need something in our world that is interesting, involving, and fun. A place in our universe where we can go and just enjoy it. Whatever it is.

This doesn’t mean that we aren’t interested in the arts. Or books, movies, music, television and other events humans enjoy when they aren’t fully absorbed in horrors of politics and war. But sports is more than just entertainment. It gives us something to root for. These days, we need that. I need that. I absolutely need something I can be “for” which isn’t life and death.

Sports has been our saving grace of the past few years as what used to be reality turned surreal — and sometimes became meaningless.

The next time you watch the news, consider that there is good news. It’s sports.

WAKE UP AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

During the past two and a half years, Garry and I have logged endless hours watching the current political nightmare unfold. I can’t count the number of hours spent analyzing “millennials,” folks approximately my granddaughter’s age. How disaffected they are. How they aren’t going to vote because “this has nothing to do with me” — a direct quote from my granddaughter.

I love my granddaughter with all my heart, but that just pissed me off to a fare-thee-well.

The world into which the now oft-dismissed “baby boomers” were raised — despite maudlin memes on Facebook — was very far from a perfect world. Classified advertisements for jobs were divided into “Help Wanted: Male” and “Help Wanted: Female.” It was legal and enforced. As for people of color and immigrants, their help wasn’t wanted on any page.

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70 years later, the Help Wanted advertisements looked pretty much the same as they had in 1892. Photograph: Library of Congress Archives

Jim Crow laws were legal. Inter-marriage between races was illegal in all southern states and many northern ones. There was no Medicare. No Medicaid. If you lost your job, or your job didn’t offer medical benefits — and employers were not obligated to provide benefits — you were out of luck.

People reminisce about the 1950s and early 1960s as if they were perfect days for everyone. A world in which jobs lasted forever. Spanking kids was totally cool. No one was hungry. True-ish — but only if you were triple white.


Triple white = White collar. White skin. White picket fence.


If you were anything else, you lived a very different reality.

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Did I mention that abortion was illegal? Illegal abortions were frequently fatal and effective birth control hadn’t been invented. It’s not that we didn’t have sex outside of marriage. Of course we did. Hormones, boys, girls, love, and passion were never different than now, but acting on these urges was far more dangerous. The ramifications of “getting caught” were perilous and possibly illegal, so we were sneaky. We had sex in cars, not beds.

We hid our social lives from “the grownups” who were also “the enemy.” Child abuse was not illegal. It was ignored or absolutely approved of. Beating your kids was “discipline.” Which is why I get enraged every time I read one of those Facebook “nostalgia” posts about how great it was to be able to hit your kids.

Hitting kids doesn’t make them better people. It just informs them it’s okay for bigger, stronger people to hit smaller, weaker ones.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve. Photograph: New York Times archive

My generation — we old people — were out there manning the barricades. Marching for justice.

We changed the world. Not as much as we hoped, but some. We certainly tried. We fought racial and gender discrimination. While waiting for the law to change, we hid our homosexuality or trans-gender identities. Not doing so might do us in. We never gave up the fight, but time has had its way. We got old and most of us have put down the signs and stopped marching.

It’s your turn.

Selma alabama 1965 resized

The world got so much better and now it’s getting so much worse again. Looks like the stuff we fought for is going down the tubes.  I know you feel the world has failed to live up to its promises to you. Life is hard. Good jobs are scarce.

The truth is that life — real life — has always been hard. Good jobs were always hard to find. No one told me life would be easy. Did someone tell you that? If they did, they lied.

It’s time for your generation to step up to the plate. Put down your phone. Go fix stuff. Fight for a better life and a better world. Vote! That’s how change happens. If you don’t care enough to stand up for yourselves and your future, no one else will care. All the work we did will vanish. It will be the real 1950s all over again. I don’t think you will like it.

Then, as my mom used to say, you’ll really have something to cry about.

AMERICAN VALUES, AMERICAN VOTING AND AMERICAN IDOL – BY TOM CURLEY

The American voting system is seriously fucked up. I think most of us can agree on this fact. Right wing nut jobs insist that millions of illegal aliens somehow got into thousands of voting booths and voted for Hillary.

I voted!

Thousands of illegal aliens somehow rented hundreds of buses and all drove to New Hampshire to vote for democrats.

New Hampshire or bust!

Our arcane system of electing a President has resulted in a minority of Americans voting in the two worst Presidents in American history.

Dumb and Dumber. (Dumber is on the left)

Republican states are bending over backward to deny more and more people (usually minorities) the right to vote. To top all this off, less than half our voting age population bothers to vote at all.


Interesting fact. In 2012, more people voted for the winner of American Idol than voted for President of the United States. 


This begs the question which is — what is American Idol doing right that the American government is failing to do?

I think the answer is that we as a nation have just become a big, big, really bad reality show. We have a really bad reality TV show President. And why? Well, apparently lots of people like reality shows. So, I say we need to change the whole system of voting.

It’s obvious. We need to change the way we select candidates for President and turn electoral politics into a giant reality show contest.

We start with the primaries. We have a set number of people to start with. Say … 16. Both parties do this. We then have 16 debates. The debates are not moderated by network news people. Instead, we have judges. Different judges for each debate. For the first debate, we can have the judges from The Voice, Master Chef, Junior America’s Got Talent, and so on.

Or we could mix them up. At the end of each debate the judges eliminate one candidate. Oh, and the audience can yell and scream all they want.

When you narrow it down to the top 10 candidates, that’s when you, the American public, takes over. During the debate and for one hour following it, you get to vote for the candidate of your choice. The one with the fewest votes is out.

Voting rules are simple.  You can vote by text, phone call, or online. You can vote 10 times on any of these devices. (Note: Message and data rates may apply.)

Eventually, we’re down to just two candidates.

Now they are free to travel around the country. Give all the speeches they want. But — they will have to go through at least four more debates.

Here’s where it gets interesting. They are not just debates! Depending on the judges, the candidates will have to compete in various competitions. When the America’s Got Talent judges are moderating, each candidate will have to do some kind of act. Magic, ventriloquism, hip hop dancing, or maybe a dog act.

When the Master Chef judges are moderating they will all have to make an interesting dish. Using shrimp.

They may have to design a line of clothing, flip a house or bake a perfect soufflé.

You get the idea. The candidate who wins these challenges gets an advantage for that episode, excuse me, debate. Stuff like maybe the winner gets an air horn he or she can blow whenever the other candidate is speaking.

When we finally get to election day all the networks agree to show a wrap up clip show of all the debates. The winners, the losers, the fallen soufflés.

Everything.

Now you, the American public have until midnight November 8th to vote. You can vote by phone, text, online, regular mail — or you can go to a voting booth. This time, you only get 20 votes. You can only vote 10 times on any given device. Except the voting booth. You can cast all 20 votes there. (Note: Message and data rates may apply.)

I realize at this point you think I’m joking. And I am. But am I? You say that it’s supposed to be one person, one vote. But is one person, 20 votes any different? OK, you say it’s too complicated. What if people don’t use all 20 votes? What if they don’t know how to text? What if they can’t get online? Well, too bad. That’s what makes the game interesting.

Is this any more difficult than having people stand in lines for hours on election day in poor districts with a few voting machines, many of which don’t work — only to find out that they’ve been thrown off the voting rolls because their name was similar to somebody else who had committed a felony and wasn’t allowed to vote?

WTF!! What do you mean I can’t vote!?

But, you say “How do we know people didn’t cheat?” Maybe they voted more than 20 times? Well, our technology seems to be fully able to handle the problem. I recently texted a donation to a hurricane relief fund during the telethon that all the networks aired the other day. I tried to do it again and I got a text back saying that I had donated the limit.

Maybe people could cheat, but it’s still more secure than the electronic voting machines we use. Machines we’ve seen repeatedly hacked by professionals trying to show us how easy they are hacked.

So this is it. My humble proposal. I think it would bring a lot more people out to vote, and it would be a lot more fun!

Tell me honestly, wouldn’t you pay money to watch Ted Cruz try to bake a savory cheese soufflé?

I’m Ted Cruz, and I approve of this soufflé. Food porn!