So Jesus, Moses, and Loretta Lynch Are In The Airport. Guess Which One Bill Clinton Chooses To Talk To?

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One of the worries of the Hillary campaign surely has always been about whether Bill… along with his overall popularity and his baggage would be, on balance, an asset or a liability. Additionally, would he be disciplined enough to not go off the rails like he did in South Carolina in 2008, when he went hard after Barack Obama’s claims he’d been against the Iraq War, and noted that Jesse Jackson had been able to win SC in ’84 and ’88?

It’s almost as if there’s a pathological need by the Clintons to periodically supply their enemies with a new Dangling Participle of Scandal That Never Was, which gets added to the Permanent Pile of The Never Really Proved.  Nice move there…. shifting the “can he be disciplined and not say or do stupid stuff?” card, even temporarily, away from Trump.

Two versions of this latest entry from the What the Hell Were You Thinking Dept, Unforced Error Division:

Bill Clinton, AG Loretta Lynch meet on tarmac in Phoenix…..

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Bill Clinton meet privately in Phoenix before Benghazi report

An aide to Bill Clinton confirmed to CBS News that the meeting wasn’t planned in advance: President Clinton saw the attorney general on the tarmac and wanted to say hello, so he boarded her plane to talk….

The meeting comes as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still under investigation for her email practices–and also came the day before House Republicans released a report criticizing the Obama administration’s response to the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

Lynch told reporters that the topics of Benghazi and Clinton’s email server did not come up, and that she and Clinton spoke largely about his grandchildren, golf and travel.

“Actually, while I was landing at the airport, I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as I was leaving, and he spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,” she said. “Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social and about our travels. He mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix, and he mentioned travels he’d had in West Virginia.”

“There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body,” Lynch added. “There was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails, by way of example.”

Yes, we know Bill Clinton is just so damn friendly that his good, Southern manners absolutely wouldn’t allow him to not pay a visit to the one person on earth who, if she were not above reproach, might possibly be influenced by the husband of Hillary Clinton, subject of the Hardy Boys latest:  The Case of the Dripping E-Mails.  How serendipitous for them: two ships in the Hillary Navy passing one another in open water in the Phoenix airport!

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The stupidity of putting Attorney General Lynch in the position of having to say specifically the things the two of them didn’t talk about (no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails) will mean to the Never Hillary crowd, led by Trump, to say those items were exactly what they talked about.  If I was advising the Republicans here I’d take the Lynch denial and merge it with “I want you to listen to me,” he said. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” And the issue will float along right up until election day, even though nothing can be proven and Lynch’s integrity is unassailable. Just add it to the list.  Just don’t call it Lorettagate.


Netflix Original: The Fundamentals of Caring

If Paul Rudd was discovered to have the (ahem) “Bill Cosby problem”, I’m pretty sure that America would fall into a depression and cry for days. Currently, Rudd is competing with Chris Pratt over (seemingly) the title of  NICEST GUY EVER. I pray that neither one of them gets caught banging the babysitter so much as jaywalks

Rudd’s character Ben has a secret in The Fundamentals of Caring and he spends an hour and a half running from it, but not in the way that people do in John Grisham movies. He’s suffered a trauma and tries to bury it by caring for Trevor (Craig Roberts), a young man suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is as bad as it sounds. At first, Ben and Trevor clash, but then an impromptu road trip bonds them and they deal with the awful stuff that’s making them miserable

Along the way, they pick up Dot (Selena Gomez) and Peaches (Megan Ferguson), the latter of whom is extremely pregnant. Our unhappy quartet attempt to mesh into a dysfunctional family as they seek out cheesy roadside attractions and, ultimately, seek out Trevor’s horrible, estranged father (Frederick Weller)

Selena Gomez and Craig Roberts
Selena Gomez and Craig Roberts

One hidden gem in the cast is Trevor’s mother, Elsa, played by Jennifer Ehle. Ehle plays Elsa as no-nonsense English woman, who has been worn down by her son’s disease and her husband’s desertion, but she also has an undeniable vulnerability. Elsa’s doesn’t coddle Trevor, but she shows great concern when Ben suggests taking him more than an hour from his house for the first time ever. The greatest compliment I can give Ehle is that I was left wanting more Elsa

I am loathe to pile on the late, lamented Vinyl (as I did here), but the five minutes of Bobby Cannavale that we get in The Fundamentals of Caring are better than everything he did in the (lamented) first only season of Vinyl

Fundamentals comes from the mind of Rob Burnett, who was David Letterman’s right-hand man for many years. Some will find tonal qualities similar to the Apatow Empire, but I also detected a little hint of We Need To Talk About Kevin and the slightest aroma of Little Miss Sunshine. Not entirely a comedy, but also not strictly a drama. Netflix has once again shown that it’s investment into original content makes for quality programming. While Fundamentals may not be in the same league as HBO’s excellent All the Way, it’s another “date night” winner for Netflix

The Fundamentals of Caring is now streaming on Netflix

If Smartest Man Ever, Trump, Had No Idea What Brexit Was, How Could Average Brit Be Expected To Know?


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I hate to be writing about this Brexit disaster.  After all, the week began on such a promising note, with the NBA’s Cavaliers reminding us why sports has always been the truly great, original reality show that can delight and deliver the seemingly impossible.  Inexcusably mixing metaphors, Cleveland’s 2016 basketball miracle is about to give way to a Republican Convention that could end up adding to the one-word descriptions of previous sports-related disasters that plagued the city. “Believeland” is the ESPN documentary that chronicles those Cleveland failures… to be reedited by June 30!  The Fumble, The Drive, The Shot…. say hello to The Oaf. Synonyms include The lout, boor, barbarian, Neanderthal,fool, dolt, dullardidiotimbecile, moron, halfwit, lamer, cretin, ass, jackass, goon, yahooclodblockhead, meathead, butthead, meatball, bonehead, knucklehead, chuckleheadlamebrain, palooka, lug, bozo, hoser, boob, chowderhead, lummox, knuckle-draggergaloot, klutz, goofus, doofus, dork, turkey, or dingbat.

The week ended with the world holding its breath over what may turn out to be the worst British miscalculation since 1938. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had returned from sharing tea with Adolph Hitler and stoodScreen Shot 2016-06-26 at 12.22.58 PM in the same spot in front of 10 Downing St. that current PM David Cameron occupied while announcing his resignation last Friday. Chamberlain said:

We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again….My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is “peace for our time.” Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

The major difference between the two decisions is that the Brexit vote was just that… a UK-wide referendum, not the judgement of one politician, as was Munich.  That doesn’t make it any better, wiser, or any less subject to regret.  It’s never a sure thing, but when given the choice, defendants often pick one judge over a jury of their so-called peers to decide their fate.  There’s no right answer, but the Brexit vote may actually disprove Winston Churchill’s quoting that “many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”  It must be remembered, right now, that the world, led by the United States, decided two world wars emanating from Europe in the 20th Century was enough, and that economic ties via the European Union and its predecessors would go far to prevent a third.  The old adage that democracies don’t go to war with each other was a foundational idea.

I can’t recall in any election such a stark, generational divide.   From The Daily Mail in a perfectly headlined piece This vote doesn’t represent the younger generation who will have to live with the consequences’: Millennials vent fury at baby boomers for voting Britain OUT of the EU,” Lily Bowen wrote: ‘Older generations really don’t realize how badly this will affect our future #EUref.’…. While Matt Cooper tweeted: ‘Brilliant, once again the older generations get to decide what’s best and we’ve got to pickup the pieces #EUref.’  I can’t see how you keep a society together with grandparents voting what they think are their short-term interests at the expense of the grandkids.

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You had to know the Brexit outcome was a bad decision when delusional golf-course empresario Donald Trump flew to Scotland, where they voted heavily to remain, and ignorantly pronounced himself both prescient and understanding of what just happened. Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.32.19 AM



Only after November 8th will we know if Trump will have gotten away with this kind of garbage…. and that’s being nice to garbage…. blowing two full days of what’s left of his intellectually and financially bankrupt campaign– bigfooting his way to promote another business failure, with the world press in tow, for the free publicity.  As more and more of Trump’s con-man frauds, scams, and general Fleecing of America Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.17.07 AMschemes are revealed, your hopes rest with the truth punching through and hitting enough Americans upside the head that he gets slaughtered in the general.  Here’s another we’re just learning about: Cambridge Who’s Who. What? Huh?  The New York Times says Cambridge “generated hundreds of complaints that it deceptively peddled the promise of recognition in a registry, as well as branding and networking services of questionable value. Dozens of people who paid Trump-endorsed businesses were also sold products by Cambridge, which benefited from its partnership with Donald Trump Jr. through “leveraging relationships built by the Trump empire,” according to Cambridge.  Trump is like the John Wayne Gacy of politicians: every time you think you’ve found all the dead bodies buried beneath the floorboards, a few more gruesomely appear.

Is it possible for a huge swath of a country to make a move based on a miscalculation based on misinformation resulting in mass buyers’ instant remorse and regret?  It may be, in this case.  Millions have already signed petitions calling for a second vote, and many of those are people who voted to leave. It’s quite clear that disinformation, ignorance, and nationalistic emotion took hold with a whole new level of sticking it to the man, to the intellectuals, to anyone in power with no regard to the consequences. The Bregretters! How some voters who backed Leave vote now claim they want to STAY in the EU . . . ‘I didn’t think my vote would count’ 

Sorry, Brits.  You’re not going to get a do-over anymore than the Republican Party is going to get a do-over in Cleveland.  The difference, so far, is that Brexit has immediate and long-term damage components to it; the nomination of Trump as the Republican candidate is not a final decision by the entirety of the American electorate.   There are no Lincolns in British politics, and we have none here right now.  Lincoln said this in December of 1862:

We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

Brexit: The Next Year in the UK

June 30, 2016–In a tragic misunderstanding, The Duchess of Cambridge throws Prince William‘s wardrobe and personal effects onto the front lawn of Kensington Palace, saying that she had to expedite the process, as, in the future, there would be fewer immigrants to help her with the task

July 4, 2016–Donald Trump produces a gigantic American-themed fireworks show near the London Eye, complete with John Philip Sousa marches blaring to the crowd and free nachos for everyone. Many people who voted for the Brexit seem happy, but a little confused by the celebration

July 5, 2016–Trump declares his intention to stick around for a few days in England to help dismantle the NHS. This offer is roundly rejected, but Trump saves face by giving out coupons for free rounds of golf

Credit: CNN
Credit: CNN

August 13, 2016–In another misunderstanding, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley ships the entire state surplus of confederate flags to Queen Elizabeth

September 10, 2016–Sir Paul McCartney briefly considers renouncing his British citizenship and becoming Canadian, but quickly decides it’s not that bad

November 12, 2016–Following Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, the President-Elect phones the Queen and asks if there’s anything that would not allow him to also be Prime Minister. Queen Elizabeth faints, but, fortunately, is caught by three servants before she can suffer a concussion

December 15, 2016–President-Elect Trump threatens to bomb Scotland if they decide to stay in the European Union. White House aides change the nuclear codes for the sixth time that day

February 9, 2017–Former Prime Minister David Cameron is seen weeping as he strolls through the streets of London mumbling “What went wrong? Who am I? Why am I here?”


March 21, 2017–The English Tourism Commission releases their new slogan “Still Zika Virus Free”

April 8, 2017–A special commission releases it’s findings that the alarming lack of violence at football matches is due to a national malaise over the Brexit. Fortunately, a majority of Britons still think Manchester United are rubbish

May 26, 2017–After being taunted by Germany for the better part of a year over the effects of the Brexit, England bans German porn. This triggers an economic crisis, but President Trump promises that America will step in to consume even more than ever before


Rush Limbaugh: Anatomy of an Obsession

It’s important, as we careen towards November, that Rush Limbaugh‘s single-minded focus on the Clintons is the main reason that his media empire grew to such great heights during the 1990s. At this point, lobbing verbal bombs at Hillary seems almost reflexive. Listeners would tune in on their radios daily during the Clinton administration to hear Rush attacking Bill and Hillary for any number of sins (Whitewater, Travelgate, etc.)

And so it came to pass that the radio show wasn’t enough of a platform for spotlighting the sins of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Rush Limbaugh, the TV show ran in syndication for four years and was produced by future Fox News head honcho Roger Ailes. In fact, there has been much speculation that had the Limbaugh TV show been more successful, Ailes would not have been available to crank up Fox News

Limbaugh’s television show was supposed to be an conservative alternative to those late night shows that were (allegedly) brainwashing America with their liberal slant. After all, how many times did parents shake their head in horror at some lefty drivel spouted by Arsenio Hall (answer: None)

One particular incident from the Limbaugh TV show is particularly instructive and we’ll work from this source material

It was November 6, 1992 and America had just elected it’s first Baby Boomer president. Millions of Americans were becoming comfortable with the First Family to be and the prospect of having the first child in the White House since Amy Carter in the 1970s. This You Tube video is our best visual preservation of Mr. Limbaugh’s TV show from 11/06/92 and a transcript will help us navigate what happened


It’s unclear why Mr. Limbaugh is wearing a hat which appears to rep Yale. I’m not sure if he’s paying tribute to his fallen leader, George H.W. Bush or sending a bat signal to his future leader, George W. Bush, but I’m sure that, whatever the reason, it’s hilarious. Perhaps Yale had just instructed women on campus that “no means no” or some other liberal claptrap

In any case, the master is riffing on a piece by David Hinckley of the New York Daily News

So, my friends, in today’s New York Daily News right here, holding it here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers, it’s the obligatory in-out list. Every time there’s a massive change somewhere, people are in, people are out. I’m now out. It says about me on here, Rush Limbaugh, loud-mouthed conservative and Bush favorite, trusts no one to the left of Pat Buchanan. He’s out.’ You know, they wish. In their dreams

The crowd slavishly applauds, as though fed their cue from a blinking sign in a television studio. Oh, wait!


David Hinckley of–of the New York Daily News wrote this, and what he has–he’s got–it’s very strange. He says, In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.’ Could–could we see the cute kid? Let’s take a look at–see who is the cute kid in the White House

He pivots, like a true pro, to see what’s on the monitor. This pops us


He then mock protests, as though he is terribly offended

No, no, no. That’s not the kid

Then, this picture shows upLimbaugh4

That’s–that’s the kid. We’re trying to..

Crowd applauds because the sign tells them to

Later, El Rushbo pleads

There I go. My friends, I apologize again. I — that’s the third time the crew makes a mistake by showing you Millie the dog when I intended to show you Chelsea Clinton, and then I followed with that terrible story. I’m — I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m fatigued. I’m tired. I really don’t — in fact, you know what I’ll do? Let’s pretend this is a daytime talk show and that I’m a guest on, say, Sally, Phil or whatever. How can I make amends to you for what I just did? I can spank myself. People who spank themselves, next RUSH. Watch this. (Rush stands)

I’ll do it with my left hand. I — I’m right-handed, so it won’t hurt as much. Do it with my left hand.

(Rush spanks himself, screaming and crying; written on screen, Ouch!!!’)

It’s actually much worse when you realize that he admitted they did that joke three (3) times. In various forums over the years, Limbaugh has claimed it was a technical error, which is a lie because:

  1. His television show was pre-recorded (vs. live), so any technical errors could have been fixed with editing before air
  2. Otherwise, what’s the damn joke

On November 10, 1992, Limbaugh offered a “heartfelt” apology

And I’m terribly sorry. I don’t — look, that takes no talent whatsoever and I have a lot of talent. I don’t need to get laughs by commenting on people’s looks, especially a young child who’s done nothing wrong. I mean, she can’t control the way she looks. And we really — we do not — we do not do that on this kind of show. So put a picture up of her now and so we can square this.

(Photo shown of Bill and Chelsea Clinton, who is making a sour face)

(Laughter and applause)

Bearing one’s soul is often an emotional exercise

One of my favorite stories from the Limbaugh canon is when Rush and Bill came face-to-face at a New York restaurant in 2007. Longtime Limbaugh listeners might have expected Rush to spew invectives at Clinton, detailing how he’d ruined the country, or some such thing


I reached out my hand, “Mr. President, it’s a pleasure to meet you”. We shook hands and so forth , and he hung around for two or three minutes, maybe five

Here’s hoping that in the future, Limbaugh comes into contact with former President Hillary Rodham Clinton at some swanky Manhattan steakhouse. And, in my mind’s eye, they exchange pleasantries and chat amiably for a few minutes, as Limbaugh’s current wife tells him to turn up his hearing aid

But, would you really blame her if she slapped the snot out of him?

Why Brits and US Republicans Should Just STFU About Obama’s Brexit Stand



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I have no idea how this important vote will go.  Passionate views about immigration, Muslims, Britishness, sovereignty, borders, assimilation or lack of it…. the issues revolving around whether Britain should stay in the European Union or should it go touch every third rail ever forged.  It’s their choice.

The President of the United States, not surprisingly, has an opinion on which way he would like the vote to turn out. Back in April, he appeared alongside Prime Minister David Cameron urging stay, and even penned a column in the UK Telegraph that was titled: Barack Obama: As your friend, let me say that the EU makes Britain even greater that began this way:

“In 1939, President Franklin D Roosevelt offered a toast to King George VI in the White House. “I am persuaded that the greatest single contribution our two countries have been enabled to make to civilisation, and to the welfare of peoples throughout the world,” he said, “is the example we have jointly set by our manner of conducting relations between our two nations.”

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Not surprisingly, the first polls taken after the president’s “intervention” in British domestic affairs (having an opinion qualified as intervention for the purposes of public opinion polling) showed backlash movement against Obama’s urging to stay in the Union and anywhere from 55-60% disapproval that he even would render a public view in the first place. How dare he, of course. This may have been payback, 52 years in waiting, for the negative reviews seen here when the Beatles first arrived in America in 1964.  World-renowned rightwing music critic William F. Buckley had written in September of that year: The Beatles are not merely awful; I would consider it sacrilegious to say anything less than that they are god awful. They are so unbelievably horribly, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music, even as the imposter popes went down in history as “anti-popes.”  

Even more not surprisingly, Republicans lectured President Obama for his unpresidential, out-of-line, possibly illegal, maybe impeachable-offense-level buttinsky tactics. On Monday 6/20, the Hill reported that…

Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah) and Jeff Sessions (Alabama) warned the President in a Monday letter not to try to influence Great Britain’s Thursday referendum to stay in the EU or leave, dubbed the Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 10.12.39 AM“Brexit.” The senators wrote that the U.S. should take “no official position” on the referendum, objecting to comments Obama made about it in April.“Regardless of the outcome of the United Kingdom’s referendum,” the senators wrote, “we firmly believe that the United States and the United Kingdom should continue to work closely together for the benefit of all.”

Just how upset were those three Senators when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited over-the-head of the President to lobby the US Congress about the Iran nuclear deal?  Not very.  In fact, they were thrilled.  Was Netanyahu’s an “official position,” that could be construed as intervention in our domestic politics?  The answer is that of course Netanyahu was trying to influence the congressional vote… he did nothing illegal.. he was allowed to have an opinion… but ultimately failed and the deal went through.  Same rules apply to the President of the United States being perfectly within his rights to opine on the crucial Brexit vote.  So the Obama Double Standard stands…. and is not to be defied by any Republican Senator, ever. Let the hypocrisy and disrespect drip all the way to January 20, 2017.

In the end, no matter the outcome of the vote, we’ll be by the Brits’ side and they will be by ours.  As we were 75 years ago in WWII.

The British hardly have clean hands here.  Hang in with me. Much of the current American voter anger, strife, racial animus, and distrust of government goes far back in American History. You could even make the case that Donald Trump is the living embodiment of every divisive grievance you can think of, rolled into one, going back hundreds of years…..  that brings us to the US Civil War, more than 150 years ago.  Military History Monthly reminds us that

“When the South seceded in early 1861, it possessed at most 10% of the industrial base of the former Union. The young Confederacy would go on to make heroic efforts to create an industrial base, but even at its best could produce only a small fraction of the needs of a nation at war.

‘How, then, did the Confederacy fight on so long and bitterly? The output of British factories, mills, shipyards, and arsenals flooded through the Union blockade of Southern ports to provide the bulk of Confederate needs. Without that massive support, the Confederacy would surely have collapsed within 12 to 18 months. Given that the bloodiest years of the war were 1863-1865, it was British material support that allowed the vast majority of the blood-letting to occur.”

It could be just me, but I consider British military and industrial support for the South in the Civil War just a bit more explicit and interventionist than a politician, even a president, merely having an opinion on an upcoming vote.  It took Teddy Roosevelt, some 50 years later, to put the Civil War animosity to bed, forging the partnership we’ve had for more than 100 years.  Let the Brexit fish and chips fall where they may.



Statistically, Government Redistribution Of Firearms Would Make Us Safer. It’s Just A Fact. No It Isn’t.


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In the wake of the Orlando Massacre, the only sure bet you can make is that more guns will be sold, fattening the coffers of gun manufacturers. Meaningful gun-control legislation?  Fuggetaboutit. Not while the NRA is still breathing and a sizable enough slice of America thinks the Federal Government will round up all 300 million-plus guns in America and melt them down, turning them into a giant Statue of Anti-Liberty (Barack Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 10.25.55 AMObama) which will reside next to the lady herself in New York Harbor. Less than seven months left in office for Obama’s jack-booted thugs to grab the guns, making it easier for his successor, Donald Trump, to round up the disarmed, then-compliant 11 million-plus illegals for their homeward boundiness (new word!). You might actually think there’s a conspiracy here…. that it’s all one, big, evil plan to… who knows?  I never detect an endgame reason why this kind of stuff will happen and who ultimately benefits. I simply hear it somewhere, like Trump hears things.  It’s just in the case of guns, no one person has ever done more to stimulate sales by his very existence than President Obama. He’s always been the Scary Black Guy Who’ll Erase The Second Amendment With His Pen. I’d give anything to hear what the executives of the gun manufacturers, thriving like never before, really say about their love for chaos, political unrest, mass shootings, and American Paranoia. Gunmaker Smith & Wesson isn’t ready to admit that the Orlando shooting is huge for sales

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Why anyone would want to be president is beyond me.  It’s way more dangerous than being a cop or a coal miner or a soldier.

Assassination attempts and plots on Presidents of the United States have been numerous: more than 20 attempts to kill sitting and former presidents, as well as the Presidents-elect, are known. Four sitting presidents have been killed, all of them by gunshot: Abraham Lincoln (the 16th President), James A. Garfield (the 20th President), William McKinley (the 25th President) and John F. Kennedy (the 35th President). Two presidents were injured in attempted assassinations, also by gunshot: Theodore Roosevelt (the 26th President) and Ronald Reagan (the 40th President). With the exception of Lyndon Johnson, every president’s life since John F. Kennedy has been threatened with assassination.

Being in Congress is statistically less dangerous than being president, although Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in Tucson in 2011.  Before that, in reverse order were Larry McDonald of Georgia, who died in 1983 on the Korean Air Lines Flight 007 which was shot down over the Sea of Japan— California’s Leo Ryan in 1978, who was on an official visit to Guyana to investigate the activities of the Peoples Temple group led by Jim Jones. Ryan was shot multiple times while boarding an airplane leaving Jonestown— then back to June of 1968 and the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy, shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after giving a speech following his California primary win; he died about 25 hours later.

It took RFK’s murder to give Lyndon Johnson the clout to get the relatively mild Gun Control Act of 1968 passed.  It didn’t do much, but it was something, and did restrict the kind of mail-order sales that Lee Harvey Oswald and Ted Cruz’s father used to obtain the rifle used kill John F. Kennedy five years earlier.  All these years later and I’m not sure that anything passed dealing with mail order hasn’t been totally made irrelevant by internet sales of guns, no matter what restrictions apply.  A good history of that 1968 moment of legislation is right here … how it laid the groundwork for the repeat-cycle of shooting/vigil/back and forth on guns/mental illness/Second Amendment/ NRA/blame the shooter only/merry-go-round we can’t escape.

More recently, it’s always noted as a main talking point by gun fans that almost without exception, mass shootings in theaters, schools, churches and other public gathering places are “gun-free zones.”  It then follows that had people been armed like the shooter, the shooter would have been stopped sooner, fewer people would get killed in the shootout, and just the knowledge that others were likely similarly armed would have probably discouraged the shooter/terrorist in the first place.  It’s the Good Guys With Guns Make Us Safer Theory, which law enforcement thinks is stupid, but that doesn’t stop the mythology.  Orlando massacre lays to rest NRA’s ‘good man with gun’ defense

Accepting the possibility of a grain of truth in the proposition…putting aside counter-arguments that even trained-officers are barely able to hit the target in mass mayhem, even if they positively identify the target…. we must face the real problem:

Gun Ownership Inequality: Too Many Guns In Too Few Hands; Too Many Hands With No Guns

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If they’re selling way more guns than ever before…. and I mean way more guns as we saw earlier… and the percentage of households with guns keeps dropping at the same time…. that can only mean that the excess supply is mostly going to the same or decreasing percentage of the overall population.  The gun rich are getting richer.  If that chart above were a stock, the 40-year trend would be unmistakable: sell.  Get out. That’s an unbreakable, unmistakable downtrend that even with increased sales overall, there is a four-decade decline in what percentage of people actually own guns.  So, in any mass shooting situation, you’re statistically less likely to be lucky enough to be near a good guy with a gun.  It does you no good that the one-third of people who own guns have 12 of them at home and you don’t have even one.  It’s not fair.  It’s time for government redistribution of guns.  Not confiscation.  Just redistribution for everyone’s safety.  It’s a crisis! Eight percent of those gun owners (or two percent of American adults) can claim an arsenal of 10 or more firearms, while 25 percent own five or more guns.

Over 6 Million Americans Own 10 or More Guns

An argument against forced taxation is just that: It’s taxation with the force of government behind it.  Most of us accept that as one of the prices we pay for living in the United States, and it truly is the redistribution of wealth.  The argument always gets down to who and what should be the recipients of the redistribution.  The army, the parks, the retired, the building of highways and airports… the list is endless. I don’t see for a second the problem with sharing the gun wealth, either.  The Second Amendment doesn’t read “The right of some of the people to not keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  Let’s get busy here.  Infringement for the good of the people!

The Redistribution of Guns Act of 2017.  I know…. not gonna happen.  I don’t even think the actual assassination of one of the two remaining candidates or their family members would change minds.  The Economist wrote this after Charleston in 2015:

Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard them (mass killings) the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution….

To which the all-guns-no-controls-all-the-time crowd will gleefully point out: “yea, British Brexit Boys, your own tight gun control country just saw one of its Parliament members shot to death. Don’t lecture us!”

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OJ Simpson: The Killer You Know

What the f–k, dude?

Marcia Clark, recounting her reaction to the revelation that there were tapes of Mark Fuhrman spewing every racial invective ever heard against African-American

S–t gets real in episode 4 of OJ: Made in America, the excellent documentary series from ESPN. Graphic pictures are shown of a nearly-decapitated Nicole Brown Simpson, her body so bloody and disfigured that it barely resembles a human being. Likewise, the butchered lifeless body of Ronald Goldman is shown with deep neck wounds that reveal his vocal chords. Vocal chords that were probably used to scream for his life until there was no life left in him

Beyond the cameras, the circus outside the courthouse, and the Dancing Itos, People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson should have been about those two dead people. Instead it became about anything but. You name it: Rodney King, the LAPD, Fuhrman, gloves, Bruno Maglis…all of the diversions became the story and the victims became forgotten souls, lost in a tidal wave of so much flotsam

OJ: Made in America is likely the best examination of Simpson and the creation of the monster who perpetrated those murders on that June night in 1994. The OJ who came out of the ghetto effectively turned his back on the black community for 30 years before he discovered his African-American identity when he needed to wear it like a cloak against the murder charges he was facing. As OJ is in police custody, following the low-speed chase, as he looks at all the people gathered outside his estate, he is quoted by one police officer on-the-scene as saying “What are all these n—-s doing in Brentwood?”

Later, as The Juice is on his “Thank You, My Brothers Tour” following the not guilty verdict, OJ attends services at an AME Church (probably for the first time) and gets a bite to eat at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. While dining at Roscoe’s, he tells his agent Mike Gilbert “When in the hell have you ever seen me here?”

Say it loud, indeed

Gilbert, for my money, is the star of the series (along with Clark, whose biting wit barely masks palpable, understandable contempt) because of his insight, particularly in the last two episodes. Gilbert happens upon Simpson at his house one night as The Juice is drinking beer and smoking pot and asks his friend what happened that night. OJ asks Gilbert what he thinks happened on that fateful night. Gilbert says that he feels Simpson committed the murders. Then OJ tells Gilbert Nicole would still be alive he she hadn’t come to the door with a knife in her hand. Chilling

Gilbert also details OJ’s descent into the life of a frat boy, when Simpson leaves Brentwood for south Florida. Juice lived the South Beach life hard with all-nighters, strip club visits, and threesomes with women sporting no tan lines, That debauchery leads to Vegas and Vegas leads to OJ’s downfall

Ezra Edelman produced and directed the series and deserves a great deal of credit for interviewing practically everyone who ever knew Simpson or had anything to do with the trial. He even gets a sit down with the reclusive (at least, this century) F. Lee Bailey. Edelman deserves multiple Emmy Awards™ and, probably, a Peabody™, but I was a little annoyed that he decided to use interviews that gave credence to the idea that OJ’s punishment in Nevada was “get back” for his acquittal in People v. Simpson

Edelman also hits the “Made in America” theme hard as he shows Simpson lowering the American flag on his Brentwood property as he vacates it on his way to South Beach. Even this becomes a show as Gilbert is instructed to act as though he an intruder on Simpson’s estate and OJ works up fake tears, as he raises and lowers the flag, ultimately a prisoner to his Hollywood showbiz surroundings

God bless America

All five episodes of OJ: Made in America are now streaming on the Watch ESPN app

Celebrity Birthdays for June 14, Steffi Graf turns 47, Boy George turns 55, Donald Trump hits 70!

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Donald spent his 70th birthday (which he noticeably DIDN’T brag about) in Greensboro on Tuesday. Like a political Zika virus, all elected officials above the level of Dog Poop Supervisor avoided being seen with him. Since this appearance was in my town, I steeled myself and decided to watch the entire disjointed mess of this particular Trump “speech,” the usual stringing together of the same, tired nuggets of insult and disinformative distortions and lies that have collected in this greatest brain ever over the past year of campaigning. The only difference right now compared to his other same-old recitations is the noticeable lack of bragging about the polls, because now they have turned against him, big time. But the Washington Post is in the polling business and he did courageously and heroically kick out their reporters from traveling with him because they wrote a headline he didn’t like. Somewhere Saddam Hussein is smiling.
How someone attending a Trump rally these days doesn’t feel a bit cheated is beyond me. I may be offbase here, as the fans apparently show up across the country to hear the oldies, barely noticing the new songs. Trump’s inept, off-rhythm, inexplicable lyric recitation of the minor sixties song, “The Snake,” kills 3-4 minutes and surely leaves most of the attendees stunned and bored. Maybe he and William Shatner can record together as the Axis of Tonedeaf. Back to the reminders that Hillary will, by dictum, end the Second Amendment and take your gun, Obama’s the worst, and Mexico’s ex-president now WANTS to build a wall and WANTS to pay for it…. the usual. Oh, and Trump’s x-ray vision will destroy ISIS, the radical Islamic terrorists, the words that Hillary won’t speak except she already did. So did the incumbent Collaborator in Chief.
My new drinking game while sitting through a Trump Speech is called, “Spot the FRESH Lie.” The old ones are always there, but a new one…. now that’s special. Since it was his birthday…. his 70th birthday…. oops I mentioned that already…. he clumsily charged practically the entire US Military in Iraq of being on the take and stealing cash.
“Iraq, crooked as hell. How about bringing baskets of money — millions and millions of dollars — and handing it out?,” Trump said at an evening rally. “I want to know who were the soldiers that had that job, because I think they’re living very well right now, whoever they may be.”
Who better to know about ripping off undeserved money from, in his case, “students” at his “university,” …. in the military’s case from taxpayers…. than Donald J. Trump, Chancellor and President of Trump “U?”
Here’s the great part of the story. The Man Who Never Apologizes because he’s never wrong, quickly did a 180 on this later and tried, as he always does, to get out of it by lying against video evidence… telling you he was talking about the corruption of Iraqi soldiers, not Americans. No, he clearly wasn’t, as this :26 clip demonstrates.
He said no such thing about Iraqis. But ironically, he’s actually right that many American troops have been nailed through bribery, theft, and rigged contracts. For once, he had the facts on his side but presented them so badly that he attempted to backtrack where he shouldn’t have had to. More here. If Trump ever becomes an even remotely disciplined candidate he’ll be dangerous. For now, he remains in full control of the Republican Wheel of Misfortune, driving himself and his hostages over the cliff.

Roadies: Your New Favorite TV Show

In every Cameron Crowe film, there’s a character that’s more than a protagonist. There’s a voice and conscience that carries you through the dialogue and action. John Cusack‘s Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything… set the standard with his slacker uncool coolness mixed with punk sensibilities. Campbell Scott didn’t do as well as Steve Dunne in Singlesbut still managed to make a mark with his insecure sensitivity and lovable loser vibe. Orlando Bloom and Bradley Cooper both missed the mark in Elizabethtown and Aloha, respectively, and the films were largely unsatisfying because the voice wasn’t there

In Crowe’s new original series for Showtime, Roadies, I would argue that Imogen Poots (playing Kelly Ann) is the voice. Some will say that it’s Luke Wilson‘s fairly standard Bill, but I would argue that Poots’ character is more interesting and, indeed, one of the stronger female characters Crowe has ever created. Not that his cupboard is bare in that department. I would point to Lili Taylor‘s role in Say Anything… and Susan Sarandon‘s underrated Hollie Baylor from Elizabethtown as evidence that the man can write interesting female characters

Roadies updates Crowe’s love letter to the 70s arena rock, Almost Famous (easily one of Crowe’s best films), with a modern take on the crews that make the rockin’ world go ’round. Kelly Ann is light rigger who wants to leave the game, but she loves music too much. Bill is a rock and roll lifer who is going through a midlife crisis, in denial that he’s got feelings for his married co-worker Shelli (played by Carla Gugino). Everyone else is the rock and roll family tries hard to avoid growing up and committing the most egregious of sins, selling out

One of the more inspired casting decisions comes in casting comedian Ron White as uber rock shaman Phil. SPOILER: Mr. White is notorious for not liking the actor’s schedule, so he doesn’t make it past the pilot. But, in the time he is onscreen, he comes off as a mix of Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, trying to impart his Rock God wisdom to a young, impressionable generation of young roadies, who are aware they missed rock’s best days

Crowe has made his name by creative use of music and Roadies continues this, particularly in a climactic scene where Kelly Ann runs back to her rock destiny to the strains of Pearl Jam’s “Given to Fly” (Crowe directed the band’s documentary Pearl Jam 20 and has known the band’s members for more than a quarter century). After the disaster that was Aloha (the film was undercut before it’s release, thanks to the infamous Sony e-mail hack), this feels a lot more like Crowe going back to his mother’s milk of rock and roll. The life of the roadie is full of drudgery, dull boring routines, and little moments of magic mixed with ordinary, messy life

Take the ride

Showtime has made the premiere episode of Roadies available without a subscription. You can stream it on You Tube here