TOO EARLY TO BE DRINKING? – Garry Armstrong

I heard these lines recently in a movie. They made me laugh.

“Isn’t it too early to be drinking?” he said.
“No,” she said. ” I’m awake.”

The line had stayed with me many years after the laughter faded, replaced by memories of work, reporters, bars, and pubs from New York to Saigon. As a reporter, I covered Presidential politics from 1962 to 2001. From JFK to Bush, Jr. As a newbie reporter, I saw veteran correspondents fueling up with multiple Bloody Marys as we began our day on the political or campaign trail.

Diner bar and table

I was impressed. During my rookie year, I summoned up enough courage to question one famous reporter who had begun his career working with Edward R. Murrow. He was on his third Bloody Mary — in one 10-minute period.

“Isn’t it too early to be drinking?” I asked, slowly and politely.

The veteran reporter who’d covered FDR, World War II in the trenches, and the McCarthy Hearings, among other assignments. He looked at me for a long moment, then finished his drink.

“Is it too early to be drinking?” he repeated my question and ordered another Bloody. “No, I’m awake!”

I shook my head in amazement and admiration. He was clearly fortifying himself for the day to come. It would be another long day on the road. Cold, dreary, and filled by interviews with people from pompous to angry to clueless when asked about election issues and the candidates.

I remember one fellow decked out in a hunting outfit, cradling a shotgun. He sneered when answering my questions. When finished, he said “Figures the media is not tellin’ the truth. A Negro askin’ me stuff about that Catholic in the White House. That’s what’s wrong with our country.”

The veteran reporter had overheard the conversation. He gave me a wry smile.

Years later, I shared the story with “Tip” O’Neill, Speaker of the House and a personal friend. He laughed so hard the bar seemed to shake. Then he looked angry for a moment, patting me on the shoulder with a huge sigh.

“Garry,” he said, “Here’s looking at you, kid!” The Political Legend smiled as we clinked glasses. “Some days, it’s never too early to start drinking,” O’Neill concluded. And ordered one more round.

I wonder about “eye-openers” for those covering last year’s Presidential race and even more about how those trying to cover “news” in this insane political year are managing. These days, for those who still drink, maybe it really is never too early to start drinking.

BOLD, NEW OPTIONS TO PREVENT MASS SHOOTINGS – Garry Armstrong

School shootings with multiple victims have become an everyday news story in the United States. It’s a boiler-plate political issue with second amendment activists led by the NRA holding fast to their rights — that is, the right to make a lot of money selling guns to everyone and anyone, anywhere. Fighting passionately to keep the right to own guns, even as bullets from assault weapons are killing kids.

Gun activists are seemingly oblivious to the availability of assault weapons through illegal purchases.

Gun rights trump young lives in harm’s way. It’s a deadly serious issue but the solutions offered by some of our elected officials are anything but serious. Do you think Jimmy Stewart’s Senator Jefferson Smith would be okay with arming teachers to shoot it out with offenders in crowded classrooms?

Can you imagine the late Speaker of the House, “Tip” O’Neill,  the consummate politician, agreeing to arm the real-life “Mr. Peepers” with magnum 44s to blast invaders as students scatter to avoid gunfire?  O’Neil’s reply would minimally question the sanity of his colleagues in the House and Senate. Sadly, we have no Tip O’Neill to step up with rational solutions to our national nightmare.

Pilgrims, it’s time to deal with the miscreants who surely don’t value human life.  Time to appeal to their inner demons and enable them to spray bullets with deadly intent into classrooms to assuage their problems.

But, I have a few minor modifications I’d like to add because it is time to lock ‘n load — with some creative thinking.

SUGGESTION #1 EXPLODING LONG GUNS:  Picture the iconic Red Ryder rifles of our youthful dreams. Long, gleaming barrels with the burnished red stocks, topped by an autographed picture of our 45th President. The sentiment would be clear: “Bad hombres die hard!” If the school shootist fires this weapon,  it’ll blow up in his face.  Crisis averted.

If a teacher or defending student fires the weapon,  it’s a senseless tragedy — but we need to look at the bigger picture. A Presidential eulogy will ease the pain of more innocent lives lost.

The exploding long guns should be massively advertised to draw the attention of would-be assassins. Just the rifle’s Presidential sentiment should entice those who are on the edge of committing bloody massacres.

They will be nudged into action by the Commander-In-Chief’s passion for thoughtless, narcissistic behavior.  The shooter is sure to take selfies with his presidential embossed rifle and post it on Twitter and Facebook, with pride gleaming in his orange eyeballs.

Gary Busey could do television ads for the imploding long guns. Busey’s colorful style would make the guns an easy sell, especially for those who really want to make their mark in the world.

SUGGESTION #2 – EXPLOSIVE TRUMP BOBBLE-HEADS.  These terrific replicas of our President will have all the verve and sexually traumatic attraction of DJT.  They’ll be personally autographed in that familiar, illegible scrawl used to sign faux bills.

The bobbleheads have a floating toupee that easily separates from the rest of the bobblehead on impact. School security could locate the bobbleheads at strategic positions likely to be invaded by would-be shooters.

Psychologists believe the invaders will be disoriented by the bobbleheads. They would automatically pick up the miniature DJTs and blow themselves into a parallel universe occupied by orange-haired robot women, all named “Stormy.”

Roseanne Barr will do all the advertising for the Bobbleheads, emphasizing her belief in MacCheesehead’s legacy as emperor of the world.

These are just the top of our R&D campaign for alternatives to avert School Shootings. We’re working on DJT dart boards that will explode when a dart hits the spot. THE spot.

Let’s stand strong against idiotic suggestions to avert school shootings. You can voice your opinion in the next elections that, hopefully, will sweep out more of the remaining corrupt and mentally- challenged officials pigging out at the public trough.

OFFICIAL MINUTES FROM THE FIRST “COUNCIL OF THE TOMS” – BY TOM CURLEY

There’s a lot of chatter these days about the Multi-verse. You know, parallel Earths in parallel universes. Different versions of Earth. It’s been a mainstream topic in the world of physics — and in science fiction forever.

And it shows up a lot in movies and TV shows. Spider-Man, Into the
Spider-verse.

Arrow, Flash and Super Girl hop back and forth between multiple Earths all the time.

In one episode of the Flash, one of the main characters brought different versions of himself from different Earths to help him solve the ‘problem of the week’. I thought that was cool.

The Council of Wells

So, I gathered three other versions of myself from three different Earths to talk about what’s going on these days. How did I do this?

Who cares?

Never mind.

Buy the premise, buy the blog.

TOM of EARTH 616: (me) I’d like to welcome all of you to the first Council of the Toms.

TOM of EARTH 17: (Panicked) How did I get here? Where am I?

TOM of EARTH 22: (Laid back) I think we’re on Earth 616.

TOM of EARTH 42: Who came up with these Earth numbers anyway? Earth 616?  Earth 22?  Who makes these decisions?

TOM of EARTH 616: Depends on whether you’re DC or Marvel.  Who cares? Just roll with it. You’re ruining the bit.

So, we’re here today to talk about Donald Trump.

TOM of EARTH 17: AHHH! Never say that name!

TOM of EARTH 22: Why are we talking about Donald Trump?

TOM of EARTH 42: Who’s Donald Trump?

TOM of EARTH 616: Well, on my Earth he has been the President of the United States for the last two years. Things are not going well, and I wanted to get your input — and your views — on what to do about it.

TOM of EARTH 17: Two years?? He’s been President for 10 years here!

TOM of EARTH 22: Wait a minute. You mean, the guy who had a bad reality show about 10 years ago? He’s your President? You gotta be shitting me, man!

TOM of EARTH 42: Again, who’s Donald Trump?

TOM of EARTH 616: 10 years? Oh my God. What’s it like there?

TOM of EARTH 17: Pretty much the dystopian nightmare you’d expect. After his first term, he learned he could do anything he wanted. So he did. He made himself President for life.

TOM of EARTH 22: You can do that on your Earth?

TOM of EARTH 17: OF COURSE YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON MY EARTH!  He did it anyway!

TOM of EARTH 616: How? Congress did nothing to stop him? The Courts did nothing to stop him?

TOM of EARTH 17: The Congress wouldn’t impeach him and he simply ignored the courts! He said, “Fuck you.” And he got away with it!

TOM of EARTH 22: You’re talking about the guy who put his name on buildings and has really weird hair? Right?

TOM of EARTH 616: Yeah, that’s the one. We can’t believe it either.

TOM of EARTH 17: Well, believe it! I live in a world where the global economy is in the third year of a global depression. Disaster relief for all the super-tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and cyclones now cost almost one trillion dollars a year. And there’s no way to get rid of this guy!

TOM of EARTH 616: Well, he’s old, won’t he die soon?

TOM of EARTH 17: Maybe, but so what? He passed a law that when he dies, he gets replaced by … Eric.

TOM of EARTH 616: Fuck.

TOM of EARTH 22: Damn. Wow. Sorry man. It sucks to be you.

TOM of EARTH 42: WHO THE FUCK IS DONALD TRUMP?

(End of minutes.)

THE STUPID IS STRONG IN THIS COUNTRY – By TOM CURLEY

One of the iconic scenes in the movie Star Wars, the first one. Episode 4. “A New Hope” is where Obi-Wan Kanobi is taking Luke Skywalker and his two droids R2D2 and C3PO into town and they are stopped by two Stormtroopers looking for those very two droids. Obi-Wan simply waves his hand and says “these are not the droids you are looking for. You can move along.” And  the Storm Trooper looks at him and says “these are not the droids we are looking for, you can move along.”

Obi-Wan then explains to Luke that it was a “Jedi Mind Trick.” But it only works on the weak and feeble minded. In other words, it only works on stupid people.

That means that the Jedi Mind Trick will work on Americans really well because this country has an absolutely amazing number of mind-numbingly stupid people. I bring this up because I read a result from a poll last week that said (and I am not making this up) that 56% of Americans believe that we should not teach or use Arabic numerals. Let that sink in for a moment. 56% of the American public doesn’t know that 123456789 are Arabic numerals!!! That’s serious Storm  Trooper stupid.

Here’s some other “facts.”

      • “Only two out of five of us can identify the three branches of government;
      • Less than half of us know which nation dropped the atomic bomb;
      • Only one-third of us know that the Congress, not the President, declares war;
      • Only 30% of us know that members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms and only 25% of us know that Senators serve six-year terms;
      • Most Americans continue to believe that the 9/11 terrorists came from poverty or were neglected as children despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary;
      • A generation ago presidential speeches were pitched at the level of twelfth graders. Today they are pitched at the level of seventh graders;
      • Even after the 9/11 Commission had stated publicly that Saddam Hussein had provided no support to Al Qaeda, a poll showed that half the population still insisted that he had;
      • Only 25% of us can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment but more than 50% of us can name two members of the Simpson family.

These revelations and many others come from Rick Shenkman, an Emmy Award-winning reporter and historian, in his new book entitled Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter. The vaunted wisdom of the American people, Shenkman says, is a myth. When it comes to government and politics, we are ignoramuses: ill-informed, apathetic, and easily manipulated.”

Think about it. The Attorney General of the United States took Robert Mueller’s 400 plus page report that he didn’t even bother to read and just told the American public, “There’s nothing to see here, these aren’t the droids you are looking for. Move along.”

Almost half the country actually believes it! One Republican Congressman, ONE — actually read the report. And what did he do after he read it? He said that the President needs to be impeached! Because he broke the law!

“These are the Droids you are looking for! Arrest them!”

And then there’s Florida. America’s Dick. America’s big dumb dick. As any male knows, even if he won’t admit it, that when there is a competition between the “big brain” and the “little brain” the “little brain” always wins. For “Florida Man” (yes that’s a real thing, Google it) there is no competition.

Here’s a quick sample. All of the following are real and true:

“Florida Man attacked during selfie with a squirrel.

“Florida Man wearing tee-shirt that says ‘Who Needs Drugs? No seriously, I have drugs” is arrested for drug possession.”

“Florida Man charged with assault with a deadly weapon after throwing alligator through a Wendy’s Drive-in window.”

See? I’m not kidding. These are all real.

“Florida cop claims Burger King put dirt in his food – investigation reveals it was seasoning.”

“Thousands of gun owners in Florida planning to ‘shoot down’ Hurricane Irma.”

“Florida Man tries to rob a Game-Stop while wearing a transparent bag on his head.”

Finally, “Florida Man who tried to ‘run’ to Bermuda in inflatable bubble rescued by Coast Guard, AGAIN.”

And then there’s the number one, all-time greatest, bestest, bigly-brained Florida Man of them all.

We could really use Obi-Wan right about now.

Not the end.

Nuremberg And Its Consequences Are Only A Heartbeat Away – SHINBONE STAR – Reblog

But I do not think we are going that way. I know it’s a possibility, but I think we aren’t going there. We are too individualistic.

THE SHINBONE STAR

The disabused old saw that the only book Donald Trump ever kept at his bedside was Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf — the German dictator’s post-World War I vision for a Utopian Aryan universe — is perhaps true.

The observation is at least a fair assumption. On Monday, Trump held a taxpayer-paid trip to a campaign rally in Montoursville, Pa., where his “Make America Great Again” campaign found nirvana among the unemployed coal miners and formerly well-paid steel workers who rejoiced listening to him rant about the unfairness of it all.

The roots of Trump’s most scurrilous rant to date are found in a tweet he penned early last Friday morning, towards the end of a week-long Twitter blitz precipitated by day after day of bad political news. In it he claimed the FBI’s investigation of his presidential campaign was an attempt at a political coup.

My campaign for President…

View original post 997 more words

DRINKING THE NEWS – Garry Armstrong

Manhattan in the mid-’60s.

I was a newbie newsie at ABC News. The kid reporter among guys who’d worked for Ed Murrow and shared tall tales about Mayor LaGuardia, Governor “Beau Jimmy” Walker, Tammany Hall grifters, speakeasies, Jazz and an era that had gone with the wind before I arrived.

I was plopped in the middle of middle and old-age, usually White guys who took no notice of my skin color unless they were talking about Joe Louis, Lena Horne, or Jackie Robinson. The jibes were about individuals — not marked by race, sexual preference or religion.

Sometimes they laughed about “pretty boys” but that usually was about fellas who were light on work effort and heavy on looking good on camera.

The bartender and owner who was usually an Irishman. He ran the local numbers game and was an off-the-books source of loans if you were short. He usually broke up the noise if the conversation bordered on trouble.

He nodded at me. It was an inference: “Hey, watch it. The kid is here.” Not sure if I appreciated being a greenhorn among the grizzled guys. Lots of famous faces came in, usually tired, looking for a little respite and no hassles.

I absorbed the stories which, years later, became woven into my own tales. Funny thing, most of the chatter, although fueled by booze, was intelligent, sharp, witty and observant of the times.

A decade later, I was in the world of Boston bars. I became a familiar face, popping up on the tube pretty much every day. Chasing bad weather and bad hombres. The conversations were animated — VERY animated if they concerned the Red Sox “Curse of the Bambino”, and another pennant lost to those damn Yankees. There were rumors about lobbyists greasing the pockets of certain pols, queries about the availability of “Tommy, The Torch” and his crew

Whispers about “Whitey” and the latest bloodbath in territorial “hits.” Now, I knew who was who and played dumb when asked for the inside stuff. There was always a fresh drink to maybe loosen my tongue. No, there was never enough booze for that.

There were the lawyers in their rumpled suits, complaining about Judges they swore were in the pockets of people who went unnamed.

There was a bar near Fenway Park which gave me the greatest joy. Baseball players, sportswriters and sports wannabees came and went leaving us with a goldmine of baseball info. Once I was “in.” I was “golden.”

I loved kicking back the rounds, swapping stories with no fear of insulting anyone. Pesky “pilgrims” were quickly shown the door before they became the source of brawls. Many “tips” were turned into legit stories which solidified my notion that I was working.

It was a bar where religious leaders could bend elbows with wiseguys and, sometimes, you couldn’t tell who was who.

Those were the days, my friend.

WHAT WE DON’T UNDERSTAND – Rich Paschall

Our Country’s Mysteries, by Rich Paschall

There are a lot of things in life we do not understand. The concept of Infinity is one of them. We know space does not just end, but how can it go on forever? When considering space, black holes are another mystery. How can there be these areas of nothingness in the universe? If we fly our spaceship into one, will the “gravitational acceleration” pull us through the space/time continuum into another universe? I guess that is a question for Star Trek fans.

Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Egypt, the spheres of Costa Rica, the stone heads of Easter Island and various other ancient structures have remained a mystery despite extensive study. All we have are theories on how and why they came to be. I visited Stonehenge and the placement of these giants stones was certainly a mystery to me.

Stonehenge

Quantum computing is a mystery to me and many others, but of course some people, including world leaders, understand it while others do not.

“The noise (from windmills) causes cancer.”     
– Donald Trump

What many of us in the country do not understand is how so many people can follow a leader who has made over 10,000 false statements or flat-out lies to the general public? This is not an opinion, but rather documented fact. News outlets have checked statements and offered proof on these. You Tube videos show Trump contradicting himself or lying to the public and yet his fan base continues to follow despite the obvious lies.

Says troops recently received “one of the biggest pay raises” ever, and that it was the first pay increase in “more than 10 years. 
In fact he claimed it was more than 10 per cent. It was 2.6 per cent. Troops received pay raises every year for the last 3 decades.

It is a mystery to us how so many can follow a leader who insults our allies while praising dictators with a history of violence towards political opponents. Trump counts Kim Jung Un as a friend. This “friend”kills his opponents, starves his people and continues his missile and nuclear programs. Despite recent missile firings, Trump continues to believe in this despot.

“I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him.” – Donald Trump May 4, 2019

Trump has met with Vladimir Putin five times and had an hour and a half phone call with him on May 3, 2019. What did they talk about? A few general statements were released but the content of these meetings and conversation are a mystery.

US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands before attending a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. – The US and Russian leaders opened an historic summit in Helsinki, with Donald Trump promising an “extraordinary relationship” and Vladimir Putin saying it was high time to thrash out disputes around the world. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

“The fact that Trump didn’t want the State Department or members of the White House team to know what he was talking with Putin about suggests it was not about advancing our country’s national interest but something more problematic.”  – Andrew S. Weiss, Russia adviser to President Bill Clinton

There is the mystery of why Trump’s fan base continues their allegiance while he shows little or no allegiance to our allies. He has repeatedly insulted our friends, and showed virtually no regard for the opinions of others. This “speak your mind and insult your friends” approach is apparently popular with the right-wing of the Trump base for some perplexing reason.

It is also truly baffling that many can follow a leader of the nation who seems to have little knowledge of the nation he purportedly leads. Time and again Trump has either misstated the facts or shows no interest in them. He may be the first president with such little knowledge of the nation.

The United States entered into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949 to secure the defense and security of member countries against outside threats. A main concern was the action of the Soviet Union on the borders of some western European friends following World War II. In order to deter future armed conflict this multi-nation agreement was signed. It would be important for our leader to know about this. It is a major point in history books. For some bewildering reason, Trump does not know it.

He could read about it on the Department of State website under Office of the Historian. It gives a nice background on many events. He can not read “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” on the website. It was “retired” since his term in office began. The devotion of followers after this continued ignorance of US history and US agreements is mystifying.

We could go on about virtually every aspect of 45’s tenure. His trade war hurts farmers and others. His pulling out of the world-wide climate agreement harms the planet. His relaxing of pollution standards endangers our citizens. His appointment of millionaires and billionaires to government posts for which they know little or nothing harms our democracy. His hate speech at rallies encourages violence in the country. His appointment of extreme right-wing judges at all levels harms the cause of Justice. His tax breaks for the rich has created massive debt for our government. The threat to offset a little of this debt by cutting back on Social Security and Medicare is troublesome to the elderly and disabled. His jokes about shooting immigrants are dangerous. Despite these things, for some inexplicable reason, throngs of followers still cheer him on.

What We Now Understand

In high school and college history classes, we often wondered how a despotic leader like Mussolini or Hitler could have so many devoted followers. They divided their people against one another. They blamed others for their problems. They preached violence against certain religions and ethnic groups. They advocated nationalism above other concerns. They made their followers, no matter how far down the social or economic ladder, follow them in almost blind devotion.

First, you get elected.

How could this be? What hold did these leaders have over their people? Did they actually believe the hate speech they were hearing? These questions presented a mystery our history books could not answer. Recent political events and the following of 45 by so many have given some insight into this mystery.

Sources:
President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims,” washingtonpost.com April 29. 2019.
Trump wrong on size and timing of military pay increases,” politifact.com, December 27, 2018.
North Korea ‘test fires short-range missiles’,” bbc.com May 4, 2019.
Trump and Putin Have Met Five Times. What Was Said Is a Mystery.“nytimes.com, January 15, 2019.
How an Isolated Trump Insulted Allies and Dismissed the World at UN,” Bloomberg.com September 26, 2018.
All Pants on Fire! statements involving Donald Trump,” politifact.com frequently updated
Trump may really not know how NATO works,” washingtonpost.com, March 24, 2017.
The President’s ‘Jokes’ About Shooting Migrants Are No Laughing Matter,” nymag.com/intelligencer, May 9, 2019.