Sunday, October 23, 2016

Why we should root against the Cubs in the World Series

The infamously corrupt government of the city of Chicago not only runs roughshod sometimes over its own citizens and common decency itself, but it has, at times, made mincemeat of neighboring communities as well.

In the 1820s, political "horse trading" in the Illinois legislature and in Washington allowed a canal to be built in northern Illinois that connected the 96 miles lying between the Chicago River at Bridgeport near Chicago with the Illinois River at LaSalle that flowed southward into the Mississippi River. This act created the first direct water link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi and helped to shift the hub of inland U.S. trade from St. Louis to Chicago. The federal government gave nearly 300,000 acres of prime farmland to the project, and it has long been considered a fabulous financial success. For some.

The depth of the canal was always very shallow, as it cost too much for a crew to dig into bedrock, and the flow of the Chicago River, which served, then as now, as the city's pungent sewer, still ran in its natural direction towards Lake Michigan. By 1860 and the start of the Civil War, the Chicago River was a smelly, toxic stream of filth, and politicians there decided that the direction of the river should be reversed to alleviate the problem that the lake was the source of the city's drinking water. So, instead, their giant liquified garbage can and its contents would run towards the Mississippi, the great river of Mark Twain and championship baseball teams. The canal was first deepened, but it was not enough to power the change in river flow. A new canal was needed, and work began late in the century on moving 43 million cubic yards of earth. Cities downstream, St. Louis chief among them, were obviously concerned about inheriting 1,500 tons of undefecated sewage and filth. Fearing a lawsuit, workers dynamited a temporary dam at Kedzie Street in Chicago on the second day of the 20th century (1/2/1900). Two weeks later, after water had flowed into the breach, they opened the dam at Lockport, Illinois, and the Des Plaines River filled with Chicago's filth water, which was not yet referred to by its copyrighted name, Old Style Lager. Eight years later, the Chicago National League baseball club won their most recent World Series championship.

What does the world of water in the American Midwest look like a century later? Commercial traffic on the Illinois River between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi had basically dried up to nothing by 1914. In 1922, the state of Wisconsin filed the first of what would be many lawsuits from neighboring states blaming the man-made, commercial-based "Chicago Diversion" for siphoning a dangerous amount of water from the Great Lakes. Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York have all been party to lawsuits as well on the same. At various times, the Supreme Court has ruled that too much water is being drained from Lake Michigan.

There's no longer a financial benefit to the United States to have this canal in place or for water to be flowing out of the Great Lakes. Global climate change will certainly make water levels on these lakes an even larger issue in the future, and the new topic over the last couple decades is invasive water species flowing in both directions between what were two separated entities-- North America's great river and the Great Lakes. The zebra mussel found its way from the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Illinois River. These original natives of the lakes of Southern Russia are commonly found on the bottoms of boats, and eat the algae that is food for fish. Inspectors check ships for these mussels before they leave a port.

Moving the other direction, imported Asian carp introduced to Arkansas in the 1970s to combat pond algae escaped into the Mississippi during the Flood of 1993, and the voracious eaters have now made their way to Chicago. The Army Corps of Engineers has had to set up an electrical barrier (read: zapping the little critters) to keep them out of Lake Michigan, but recent DNA tests have found traces of the Asian fish in the lake. The attorney general for the state of Michigan filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court to attempt to legislate greater protections against what could be devastating invasive species for the Great Lakes, and he has made the specific call for Chicago to close its locks and water gates, an action that would effectively end cargo traffic on the river.

If you've been next to the Chicago River downtown also, you may have seen the warning signs that are still posted by the Chicago Water Reclamation District. Despite years of unnatural southwestern flow designed to benefit the city, the city's water is still riddled with filth. The signs read, "No wading, swimming, jet skiing, water skiing/tubing, or (my italics) any human body contact."

There were no environmental advocacy groups in the 1800s, but judging by modern actions taken by Hogtown politicos in disregarding the future health of the lake that gave the city life, they wouldn't have given any of their greedy actions a second thought. Richard Lanyon, executive director of the Reclamation District, claims that "Chicago would not have survived-- as simple as that" without the canal, but of course that's an absurd claim. The city had-- and has-- the advantageous southernmost positioning on the banks of the second-largest fresh-water lake in the world. But what they likely wouldn't be is the third-largest city in the United States, and St. Louis, a city more centrally-located, and sitting naturally upon the Great River, would certainly be much larger than it is.

I'm rooting desperately for the Cubs to lose the 2016 World Series, but the team looks very strong. They have famously failed to win a World Series championship since 1908, and frankly, it's been frustrating as hell this month to root against the law of averages. For perfect historical symmetry, though, in combating a city of bullies masquerading as "lovable losers," the Cubs' inevitable World Series conqueror would be St. Louis, a city that has had to put up with Chicago's garbage, literally and figuratively, for more than a century. But alas, the gradual population decline of St. Louis precipitated by Chicago's 19th century greed has left it without a team in the American League. (The Browns left for Baltimore in 1953.) A fine substitute to root for in keeping Chicago's metaphysical punishment on the books is the club from Cleveland, a Great Lakes city with a lowering lake level that hosts the first two games of the Fall Classic Tuesday and Wednesday.

I suspect you won't read this angle on the Series from any of the writers at ESPN or spoken by any of the on-air commentators at FOX. Cleveland's team has not won the Series since 1948, the second-longest drought, but nearly all expressed support for Cleveland has been muffled this week by the sound of all those Americans jumping hands-first onto the Cubs' proverbial bandwagon. Indeed, these Cubs fans stamped with that new baby smell are an invasive species all their own. Many of us have been weary of the threat they pose throughout our lifetimes, particularly those of us that root for regional foes St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and perhaps the biggest Cubs haters of all, the White Sox, the American League team and their fans who share the city of Chicago. I am not including them in my criticism of the city, of course, because they are denizens of the South Side, and therefore, have also suffered for generations from the canal garbage of the Chicago River floating in the wrong direction past their homes and not far removed from the location where their stadium rests.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The democracy too big too fail

If Donald Trump thinks the American electoral process is rigged, imagine what Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein think.

Of course it’s rigged. The corruption runs deeper than Trump even knows or will acknowledge. Two conjoined major parties crush all outside dissent. Criticism can be general, but not pointed. Incumbents win about 95% of all Congressional races. Gerrymandering has left few areas of the country with even a choice between the two heads of the serpent. Central Intelligence has stopped sharing classified information with Trump while continuing to spill to the former Secretary of State that helped concoct the Osama bin Laden death fiction. WikiLeaks and DCLeaks have uncovered that the Democratic National Committee acted to depress support for Bernie Sanders in the party primaries. Primary voting results from virtually any state cannot be trusted. Despite living in the era of widespread computer hacking, millions of Americans will vote on electronic systems on November 8th, and there will be no paper trail for their any of their ballots. Julian Assange’s hacktivists have uncovered that dozens of prominent members of the national news media were called to DC society parties thrown by DNC staffers this summer and fall and fed “news stories” directly from the Clinton campaign, instructed even what should be reported to the public as “on” or “off the record.” When these and other unfavorable stories came to light, corporate media outlets conspired not to report on them.

Hacked emails from Guccifer 2.0 show that the Clinton camp is using Super PACs as a vital, consistent part of her campaign, openly defying the Citizens United restriction on coordination between the two entities. So far there are crickets from the Justice Department on that one. The DOJ also served to downplay Clinton’s crimes on pilfering government emails, stating officially and clearly that she committed violations but doing nothing so much as giving her a slap on the wrist, that it might hamper her campaign effort. Perhaps most shockingly, Justice officials and media outlets have been silent about the fact that Saudi officials are now revealed to have been the chief financial sponsors of both 9-11 and ISIS, and Hillary Clinton has been well aware of that fact and kept it a secret, in the meantime supporting President Obama’s efforts to defeat Congressional legislation that would allow the families of U.S. terrorism victims to sue foreign governments.

As Donald Trump correctly explained to the American people last night, America military policy created the vacuum that created ISIS (although he’s wrong that we should have stayed in Iraq, and he knows he’s wrong). As we continue our policy in the Middle East of toppling the only governments that have secular leaders (Iraq, Libya, and Syria), we simultaneously continue to do the bidding of Saudi Arabia, a nation that unmistakably represents everything Hillary Clinton claims that she’s against-- monarchy, the suppression of women, and terrorist attacks against the West. She’s got so much Saudi oil and American soldier blood under her fingernails, I’m amazed I don’t have some of that same mixture dripping from my flatscreen after having endured three different televised debates.

Why in the world would Donald Trump make any vow right now to honor and abide by the results of the election? He doesn’t know what will happen. If he says yes last night to Chris Wallace’s gotcha question, the Clintons will have even more freedom than they already have to perform whatever misconduct they choose. If it were me-- and I’m not an idiot to the same degree he is-- I would make a public call upon the United Nations to come publicly monitor the voting process. If that organization finds malfeasance, it won’t be the first time. International inspectors harshly criticized the U.S. presidential election process in 2000. In ’04, it was the same thing all over again when possibly tens of thousands of votes in Ohio went missing, and only Ralph Nader, among the presidential candidates, filed a formal challenge of the results.

It’s completely disingenuous when mainstream news commentators, in thrall to the military state, dare to say that it’s unprecedented in modern times for a candidate not to accept the reported results. Nader challenged the results twice. Members of the Bernie Sanders campaign filed a class action suit against the conduct of supposedly impartial party officials as recently as two months ago. In 1963, an actual coup of the Oval Office took place when President John Kennedy was assassinated by a shadow conspiracy that included central intelligence officials. When they say that “nobody has ever challenged the results before,” they’re really referring to the inexplicable obsequiousness of Sanders the candidate and Al Gore.


Americans get the debates—and the election—they deserve. These are your chosen candidates. If you vote for either of them, you are giving them a mandate because they have no way of knowing which votes are for them and which are against the other candidate. I present the late great George Carlin for the block.


My favorite point in the evening was when Clinton quoted almost directly from The Manchurian Candidate in her attacks on the Russian Federation...

“There are……….. fifty-seven known Communists in the Trump campaign.”


My wife hates when I talk back to the TV during the debates. She wants to know why it seems like I’m only attacking Clinton. I told her it’s because Trump is the only person allowed to debate against the next president of the United States, an executive-elect that has been thoroughly corrupted. I said I’m not for him, but if there were somebody on stage that was actually functionally capable of verbally challenging her most grievous sins, I wouldn’t have to do it from another room in another time zone. That’s not exactly what I said but I had a day here to improve upon it.


I want to pull my hair out when I hear Clinton spew out her trite refrain about “working her entire career for children and families.” On the campaign trail, she has even used this angle as an excuse for having voted in the Senate in 2001 for a measure that made it harder for Americans to have their debt forgiven in bankruptcy. Clinton, who has received millions from the financial sector in paid speeches and quid pro quo fundraising, claims she supported the bill because she was able to work in an amendment that protected child support and alimony for mothers if a father declared bankruptcy. She claimed there was public pressure from women’s advocates to support the bill (“deluged,” in her words), but evidence now does not exist that there was pressure at all.

Those advocacy groups were adamantly opposed to the oppressive bankruptcy bill for which 36 Democratic senators voted in favor. A Clinton public relations consultant, Mandy Grunwald, suggested privately earlier this year that the campaign enlist women’s advocates to back up Clinton’s story from 2001, but could find none because they all opposed the bill. One campaign policy advisor, Ann O’Leary, wrote earlier this year, “(Women’s rights attorneys) Marcia (Greenberger), Judy (Lichtman) and I have been figuring out what we could say that doesn’t contradict their 2001 statement. She said women groups were all pressuring her to vote for it. Evidence does not support that statement… We cannot put something out proactive here b/c the record just isn’t good. Judy and Marcia are also prepared to say Hillary fought really hard for changes, was with the other women Senators, and committed to keep working with them to strengthen the bill.”

This documented dishonesty regarding the central theme of Clinton’s presidential campaign and, in fact, her entire career, was another one culled from the treasure trove that is the hacked John Podesta emails.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Avoid the news blackout! Read this!

Julian Assange's October surprise is here, but multiple corporate news outlets in the U.S. are refusing to report on the mass email dump during the latter-stage electoral cycle.

WikiLeaks has released more than 2,000 emails belonging to Clinton campaign chair and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta. (The hacking collective says it is in possession of 50,000.) Among the facts revealed so far are that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, signed over wholly one-fifth of all U.S.-owned uranium resources to Russia, and in return, received millions of dollars from individuals that benefited from the deal. (I gather this "pay-to-play" scheme will not be judged to justify ending the "Trump-loves-Putin-best" media narrative we get from MSNBC and CNN.) A Clinton campaign spokesman is revealed to have lied when he told the New York Times that Clinton was not involved in the deal. Jose Fernandez, the man who connected the State Department to this transaction of weapons-grade uranium, was then given a position at the Center for American Progress, a think-tank run by Podesta.

NEXT, the text of Hillary Clinton's paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and other large Wall Street banking and investment firms were released. Clinton told their reps behind closed doors that she supports the KeystoneXL pipeline and the TPP trade agreement, even though she has said publicly throughout her campaign that she opposes both of those anti-environment initiatives. In secret, she told executives at both Goldman and Deutsch Bank that the blame for the 2008 global banking crisis fell solely on the banks purely for political reasons and to appease the public. She goes on to suggest that the banks should police themselves. As mentioned in the last blog post, she explained to bankers the need for her to have separate public and private positions on these and other issues.

Podesta himself turns out to be a Junior Trump in these electronic cables. He calls the German people "brainwashable." He offers his opinion that refugees from the Middle East and open immigration will destroy Germany. He calls Muslims, Blacks, and "Gypsies" "professional never-do-wells" that "fare badly almost irrespective of circumstances." The man's big on the Jews though. He writes "Jewish stupendous superiority in so many spheres of life is one of many PC taboos just begging to be busted."

Because close examination of Hillary Clinton's past is considered pro-Trump behavior, the following news organizations, per their websites, are not covering any of this or have deeply buried the story, officially abdicating their journalistic responsibility on behalf of this electoral cycle and declaring that they are essentially public relations operations for the Democratic National Committee: The New York Times, CNN, Time (that's still technically a thing), and NBC News. Several left-wing "alternative" sites are-- shockingly-- not covering it either-- Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Alternet, Mother Jones, and The Nation. CBS News is covering it with two big stories near the top of their page, ABC has it, Politico-- front and center, and of course, I strongly rely on Glenn Greenwald's crew at The Intercept, as well as Anonymous, the latter from which much of the information at the top was obtained. The Washington Post is taking a completely different tack with their approach. Rather than spiking the story, they're doubling down Donald-style in support of their preferred candidate's outrageous behavior, asking the question tonight, "Did WikiLeaks make Hillary Clinton look two-faced, or clear-eyed?" Ahh. Positive spin.

Podesta has responded to his public de-pantsing by releasing a statement contending that the leak "can only be aimed at boosting Donald Trump" and making the charge that the hack is "the work of the Russian government." Consistent with ongoing Hillary campaign policy, he offered no evidence for the latter claim.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The evil of the two lessers, part 46

What I wouldn't give to put anybody other than Donald Trump in the privileged position of debating with Hillary Clinton on a televised stage. The cartel only permits one opponent, and he's a complete and utter charlatan whose status as a "successful businessman" tells you much more than you want to know about where he comes from-- New York's Manhattan Island. Why is it that Iowans feel the need to constantly apologize for Congressman Steve King, but New York City doesn't shoulder any blame for these two cretins?

Nearly anybody other than Trump, Billy Bush excluded, could be making the case better that Clinton is a fraud. Her first week of October should have been the week from hell. New emails revealed by Guccifer 2.0 show that the news media delivers news stories that have been drafted for them by the Clinton campaign while the campaign staff even determines what elements of the story will be referred to as "on the record." WikiLeaks released the excerpts of Clinton's paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, and others, and it revealed much of what we all expected. She complained about ethics laws that require politicians to divest many of their assets before entering politics-- "There is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives." She also stated flat-out that, on many issues, particularly in the area of business and trade, she has "a public and a private position."

Instead, we're talking about this numbskull and profane and misogynist statements he made into a "hot mic" at Access Hollywood twelve years ago.


Speaking of debate access, I received some unexpected historical perspective this weekend watching a Johnny Carson episode from 1980 on Antenna TV. This repackaged video series is my new late-night fix as the constant shucking for Clinton has made the current incarnations of late night comedy, post-Letterman, unwatchable. In this particular edition, a young TV politico with no charisma, Jeff Greenfield, who grew up to become an old TV politico with no charisma, followed Erma Bombeck (and her vaguely-racist story about her trip to Kenya) onto the Burbank stage and then, for several minutes, Greenfield and Johnny discussed then-President Jimmy Carter's ongoing refusal to debate on television against Ronald Reagan if independent candidate John Anderson were also allowed to appear. The debate's sponsor, the League of Women Voters-- true story-- threatened to place an empty chair on the stage between Reagan and Anderson to represent where the incumbent should be standing if he refused.

So this shit is nothing new from the Democrats. Good gravy, though, can you imagine today's so-called Commission on Presidential Debates making that same threat that the League made? The CPD was purposefully created to exclude third party candidates, and is currently co-led by a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former press secretary for Bill Clinton.

The candidates have to be viable, you scream! Well, their suppression has been actively aided by the same news media that airs these debates. The numbers aren't even trustworthy. In the latest CNN polling methodology, a vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson is not even being tabulated. Those votes are being funneled into the "undecided" category in the advertised race between Clinton and Trump.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Not in the Cards

The Cardinals season ends-- and in a very fitting way. You can count on one hand the number of times the Cardinals have just missed reaching the postseason during my lifetime. In fact, I can’t think of another season in which the Cardinals were in the race but eliminated the last weekend of the year. They have outlasted the other guy each September, and the reason they have done so is that they have always been the club that does the small things. They pitch, they run the bases, they play defense. They have performed those things that seem trivial game to game, but over the course of the year, wind up making the difference.

This year was a different story. The starting pitchers, excluding break-out staff ace Carlos “Tsunami” Martinez and a late arrival, rookie Alex Reyes, massively under-performed. They acutely missed coach Jose Oquendo’s guidance on the bases and in the field-- in a manner one would have never imagined would be so visible-- after 1987's Secret Weapon announced in March that he would be spending the summer in Florida recovering from back surgery rather than coaching third base. The 162-game Major League season is a grind, and every game needs to be played to its utmost. These Cardinals seemed to give one away every week during the summer thanks to their collective lack of focus, and they finished one game behind San Francisco on Sunday for the final playoff spot. I say it was fitting because a team that didn’t do the little things deserves to miss out by one single contest. It's what Cardinals Hall of Famer-turned-broadcaster Jim Edmonds on Sunday called "a learning experience for the young players."

When the Cards installed Mike Matheny as their manager in November 2011, plucking him away from the Little League team he was coaching at the time, it was not immediately apparent that the emphasis away from fundamental baseball was beginning. Clearly, Oquendo’s continued presence in the clubhouse was masking the symptoms. But Magic Mike was on his own this year, and the results were night and day difference from even one year ago when the club won 100 games with precious little contribution from their offense and an unusally-high number of one-run victories. This year’s final day elimination snaps a franchise-record five consecutive seasons in the postseason, each of those years playing at least four playoff games, and the first four of them advancing at least as far as the NL Championship Series. They still won 86 games this year, but that’s the fewest by the club since-- get this-- 2007. And prior to that dark championship-hangover season of ‘07, the team had been in the playoffs six of the previous seven seasons.

It’s been a great run for MLB’s team of the new century, but a lot of retooling is necessary to shape the roster into one that, next year, will be more sound, more relaxed, certainly more athletic, and something more befitting a cohesive unit. Right now the club is loaded with second and sixth place hitters, lacking middle of the lineup consistency despite a record number of home runs hit this year. I spent my entire childhood lecturing friends that were fans of other teams that the home run was overrated, and this year’s Cardinals team made the case in reverse just as well as Whitey Herzog’s “Runnin’ Redbirds” made it during the 1980’s. They were feast or famine in their offense in 2016. They had virtually no speed in the lineup to help blanket the famines. (Speed never slumps, pally.) And these same sluggers on offense kicked enough balls around in the field to make a fan want to slip the latest New Era cap down over his or her eyes.

This year’s pennant will belong to another club. The Cardinals will not be in the playoffs, but they may still haunt them. The Giants have had their way with the Cards since 2012, but the Mets were tortured by the Birds in ’06. The Nationals were burned with an epic Game 5 NLDS meltdown against them in 2012, and Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers got slapped around by both the 2013 and 2014 versions of the Cardinals. I’ve left the favored Cubs out of the equation, of course. This is their year-- the year, as we’ve been told since even before last year’s playoffs when the Small Bears reached the League Championship Series supposedly a year early. Now the Cubs are on time.

Speaking quite honestly here, I would absolutely love to finally see redemption for the most star-crossed individual in United States sports history-- Steve Bartman. And that’s why I’ll be rooting for 2003 Cubs manager Dusty Baker and his current club, the Washington Nationals. I'm predicting that the Nats will win the World Series in three rounds.

Sunday, October 02, 2016


In 1988, a young Irish-American hood named Mark Wahlberg targeted a middle-aged Vietnamese man named Thanh Lam in a violent, physical attack on the streets of South Boston. The attack with a wooden stick caused an extensive hospitalization and permanent blindness for the victim. While knocking him unconscious, Wahlberg called the man a "Vietnam fucking shit." This attack had been preceded by instances of Wahlberg harassing African-American children, pelting them with rocks and shouting racial epithets.

Remember this historical account throughout the coming weeks as you read about how the Nate Parker film, The Birth of a Nation, which chronicles the Nat Turner-led slave revolt in Virginia in 1831, is the subject of a boycott and slips out of the lead as the front-runner for Oscar's Best Picture. The Birth of a Nation has a predominately-black cast and crew, including its director, and in case you were wondering, is very purposefully named after the infamously-racist D.W. Griffith-directed silent film that depicted black men as the rapists of white women, the Ku Klux Klan as their chivalrous protectors, was responsible for allowing that real-life terrorist group to grow again in popularity into the 1920's, and is almost exactly 100 years older than its successor.

By all rights, the new Birth of a Nation should be the motion picture event of this year, the film that highlights the long, heroic struggle to rid this nation of the tenants of white supremacy. But a supposedly-separate publicity campaign threatens to railroad the picture. Parker, you see, was charged with rape on the campus of Penn State University when he was a sophomore student in 1999. He was acquitted of the charges, however, a friend was convicted in the same alleged event-- a decision later overturned, and the alleged victim subsequently committed suicide.

There is not currently, nor has there ever been, an organized Hollywood boycott or backlash against the films of Mark Wahlberg, now a two-decade-plus veteran of some of Hollywood's most profitable motion pictures, as well as very few unprofitable ones. Forbes estimates that his annual salary is $32 million. Wahlberg did time for the crime outlined above after he was convicted, but only 45 days of his sentence were ever served, indicative of a sentencing disparity that certainly is more striking to read about today than it was in the early 1990s. Wahlberg has admitted that he's never sought out his victim to apologize or make amends. He has, instead, moved through the state of California to have the felony pardoned. He has expressed to the media that he doesn't "have a problem going to sleep at night" ever since he "started doing good and doing right by other people," which apparently to him means returning to Catholic mass on a regular basis and banking gobs of money.

Conversely, Parker’s alleged crime, whether one is comfortable with this reality or not, is a he-said, she-said, and he was exonerated by a court of law and continues to maintain his innocence. What I’m interested in is the industry's double standard. In a business in which two consecutive years have passed without a person of color being nominated for an Oscar for an on-screen role, and one in which nearly the entire lot of technicians and behind-the-scenes people are white, this propaganda assault against the market viability of a potentially-monumental historical picture made by and about African-Americans seems like an entirely capricious controversy. Somebody’s going to have to explain to me why Parker's past justifiably pleads for a boycott, but Wahlberg's doesn't and never has.

What I see is actually the reverse of the need for a Parker boycott-- highlighted by an acquittal in his case, and a conviction in the other. In an industry, and a nation, that thrives on inflamed passions, that particular conceit of "the black man as dangerous predator” still manages to rise to the top of the list of internal safety threats, as it did when Nat Turner and his insurrectionists rebelled against their slavers in 1831, and as it did when D.W. Griffith's film opened in theaters a century ago.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Foreboding developments

Tonight’s televised debate is an illegitimacy. Jill Stein or Gary Johnson will not be in attendance. If they attempt to enter the theater at New York’s Hofstra University, they will likely be arrested, as Stein was four years ago under similar circumstances. According to USA Today, more than three-quarters of the American people say they want to see Stein and Johnson share the stage with Clinton and Trump. More than 85% say that neither Clinton nor Trump “share their values.” Officially, the Green Party and Libertarian Party presidential candidates are excluded because of the poll numbers, but there are a couple poll results for you, motherfucker.

There is absolutely no legitimate reason for excluding them. No laws, no regulations, no Constitutional prohibitions. In 1988, the League of Women Voters warned that the new Democrat/Republican debate commission would "perpetrate a fraud on the American voter," and they refused to be "an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public." Contrary to what you’ve been told, Clinton and Trump will not be having their first meeting tonight in a public forum. This is a private, corporation-financed forum. Make a note tonight of the event’s sponsors. Each of the contributing Fortune 500 companies will get special recognition. They are the benefactors of the modern political system. People accept this as ritual because it’s been deeply ingrained in us that we must do our best with whatever amount of democracy we’ve been allowed to have. We’re the inmates in line for our medication in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. But those of us in the Green Party are the Indian.

I refuse to give in and watch a hollow, mind-numbing spectacle that’s poisoning the soul of America. So I’ll be watching football.


On Saturday night, I went to see Steve Martin and Marty Short touring in their two-man show at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City, and that’s a great sentence to be able to write. The two showmen are each so tremendously talented that they were on for two hours and never even tapped into Martin’s magic act, other than for a presentation by video of the Great Flydini on Carson's Tonight Show. It was one laugh line after another all through the evening, but this one sticks out. Martin Short: “I like my champagne the way I like my women-- Compliments of Hancher Auditorium.”


This is a true story. I have a subscription to Sports Illustrated. Ok, there’s more, but I need to first explain that part. A friend’s daughter was selling magazines last summer so I signed up for a year of SI to peruse during, this, its waning days. Because I did the clearinghouse that courtesy, I get additional magazines each month that I didn’t even subscribe to-- namely, Men’s Health and ESPN the Magazine. The October issue of the latter came to me on Friday. Of course, I never asked for it, and also didn’t want it. It was advertised as their “Chicago Cubs” issue, the first one-sports-team-oriented of any sports magazine I can recall. Yuck. Another failure in micro-marketing by Madison Avenue, a product that proceeded to breed greater resentment in me for the product than I already had. Along those same lines-- in eleven months of SI subscription, I’ve received five issues of the weekly mag that have Cubs players on the cover, and three more with Iowa Hawkeyes football or basketball players. (You’d think one of those teams would have a championship by this time with all of that spilled ink.) It’s just what this Cardinals fan that’s a graduate of Iowa State University wants to get in the mail. These days, I pray to open up the mailbox after work and only find credit card bills.

Anyway, I get my new Cubs issue, containing six separate features on the team. A general lead story on the season to date, one on Joe Maddon, then Theo Epstein, a couple others I forget, and of course, one featuring a photo shoot with members of their long-suffering fan base, who in ESPN the Mag, I noticed, look much more culturally-diverse than the actual thing. I walk back out the entryway of our building to wait for my ride to dinner, and I haven’t gone two steps when I see what about 10 yards away on the sidewalk? Yes, a black cat... not unlike the one that sashayed past Ron Santo in the on-deck circle that fateful summer of 1969.

I fiddle with my lunch container, my book of the moment, my mail, and my new cell phone, and I maneuver to get the phone in place to snap a photo for the interwebs of my magazine posing with this ominous cat. The thing doesn’t sprint off, but it is in its evolutionary hyper-alert state, and it walks only a couple feet away into a group of bushes in front of the property. I try to get as close to where I saw it go without causing it to let out a fitful hiss or even leap at me. Soon I’m pushing the leaves away on the bush with my book, and I’m peering under the coiled garden hose, which rests between the bushes and the building. Nothing. There’s no photo happening. The cat has disappeared into thin air.

So what does that mean?