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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Showbiz vs. Politics: When You and Your Favorites Don't Agree

People who make their living in the arts have always been seen as the ones who don’t follow the crowd. Being hip and cool is usually not at the top of their priority list. It is what makes them good at what they do. They see things in ways that no else does, and often it is amusing to watch when they can’t figure out why they are an island unto themselves. Some are introverts, their art whatever it is, is how they express themselves. Others are extroverts and do not hesitate to say what they think about anything.
Like any other Americans they also have political views. And, like any other Americans they are free to express those views. But what happens when your favorite actor, actress, musician, or author says things you don’t agree with?
  Recently, San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided that in protest of racism or oppression or…something, that he would no longer stand for the playing of the National Anthem before games. And still more recently, more NFL players and even entire teams are joining in or considering some sort of similar action. Many NFL fans are outraged by this. They say they will no longer attend 49ers games, watch them on TV or buy merchandise. While as an American it is Kaepernick’s or anyone else’s right to do so, it is also the right of his fellow Americans to protest his protest by boycotting anything to do with the San Francisco 49ers or any other NFL team.
Hollywood it seems has always taken a stance on the issues. At the beginning of America’s involvement in WWII, many of Tinsel town’s leading men decided to join up and fight overseas. Audie Murphy was one of America’s most decorated Servicemen. Those here at home did all they could to support and promote our brave soldiers on the front lines in Europe. Hollywood was awash with patriotism in those days. But things changed after the war ended. In the 1950’s many of the top movie stars of the day were the victims of blacklisting. Their loyalty to the country was questioned as the fear of communism spreading across America was for some people very real.
A classic case of American movie goers not agreeing with the stars they paid to see was actress Jane Fonda. The Vietnam War was very unpopular, and liberals across the nation flexed their political muscle in many different ways. In 1972 during a visit to Hanoi, Fonda was photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft gun. To this day, scores of Vietnam veterans will have nothing to do with Fonda. They feel that she is a traitor and slapped them in the face for their service. Again, Fonda’s right to protest a war she did not agree with, and veteran’s right to boycott her movies.
So where does the average American stand? Are they able to separate the actors and musicians whose work they like but views they might not agree with? The answer might be that for most people, it does not occur to them. They might see their favorite performers at a protest but don’t think about those views when purchasing a movie or concert ticket. Should it occur to them? For the majority of the ticket buying public, the only thought in their mind is they want to be entertained. They want to see their favorite actor in a different kind of role perhaps, or hear new music from their favorite musician. The main thought is entertainment and/or escape, in today’s world, perfectly understandable. 
 So is it just politically minded people for whom the political views of entertainers matter? Not exactly. If you are a large corporation who is in the business of seeking endorsements of your product from such people, and they engage in voicing opinions that may turn off half of your customer base, you probably will not be seeking them out. And what about half of a market or fan base? Does the average actor or musician even think about the fact that voicing what might not be a popular opinion may just alienate half of his or her fan base, or is being socially and/or politically conscious worth whatever hit they may take in the wallet?
  Every American has the right to say what they think about any issue even if they are famous. Every not so famous American has the right to say they disagree by not buying movie or concert tickets.

  Whether you inhabit the world of politics or show business, in the end, the show must go on.                   

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Donald Trump: Not Being Nice May Get Him Elected


In an election cycle where it seems that the main gripe of American voters is they are tired of the same old politicians saying and doing the same old things, one thing is certain. Love him or hate him Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is definitely the anti-status quo. His own comments, actions, and the way he has run his campaign has turned conventional wisdom and those who worship it upside down. And why not, all we have to do is take a look at the traditional campaigns of past GOP nominees. How well did tradition work for John McCain and Mitt Romney?
  Traditionally, during the week of Party Conventions, the opposing Party usually takes a break. This year, during the Democratic Convention, because Trump is the Republican nominee, that did not happen. On Wednesday of that week, Trump held a lively press conference where he not only attacked Hillary Clinton, but also gave the business to the DNC, and the media, and their obvious support of the Clinton campaign. Since that press conference, America has also been introduced by the Democrats to the Khan family, an American Muslim family whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004.
  While there may be many a differing opinion on Trump’s comments about the Khans, that press conference and more specifically Trump’s handling of Clinton, Democrats, and the  media is exactly what his supporters want to see more of. Not being nice is why Donald Trump is where he is. But will it get him elected president?
  Republicans have a long sugary history of being nice. Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney didn’t stand a chance against the pit bull attack machine of the Democratic Party, and in McCain and Romney’s case it was imperative that they smile, bend over, and say thank you sir may I have another when both were up against the then potentially first black president in Barack Obama. At the time of the third presidential debate in 2012, the terror attacks in Benghazi were still fresh on the minds of Americans. It was served up to Romney on a silver platter, he could have hit Obama with a series of questions and comments, hitting an intellectual home run. Republicans kept waiting for it, and it never came. In 2008, John McCain it seemed never even considered not being nice, even going so far as to temporarily suspend his campaign for a time at the start of the 2008 financial crisis.
  Much has been said and written about Donald Trump’s demeanor. He is rude, crass, says whatever comes into his head. Yet there are also thousands of supporters who line up to attend his events, with still more who never get in. Is the “not nice“ factor a problem for them? Many a Trump supporter will say not only is it not a problem, it is refreshing to hear a politician say what he thinks, regardless of whether it is pretty or not. How many more Trump supporters are out there who are still, to borrow a phrase, “in the closet”?

  Donald Trump is often his own worst enemy, but the mainstream media will continue to manufacture stories in order to take him out. Polls will continue to be designed to show sizeable leads for Hillary Clinton. The question may be though, how many voters have realized that the Democrats have no intention of being nice, and that if he wants to be elected, Donald Trump may just be on to something if he throws being nice out the window?  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Let's Make A Deal?


  If you ask the average man on the street, your average joe, many times their image of politicians is that of a bunch of fat sweaty cigar-chomping guys in dark smoky rooms in the bowels of Capitol buildings making deals and decisions that affect the people without their input. In some cases those deals are as clear as day, other times, not as much, and the deal makers are not the sweaty cigar-chompers but the people you would least suspect. 
  Since the birth of the nation, Americans have had a very simple distinct way of determining who and how many they send to Washington to represent them. That process has always been based on a national census taken every 10 years and is mandated by the Constitution. Based on population, Congressional districts in every state grow, shrink, or even disappear depending on the number of its citizens.
  But what if something else had happened? What if Congressional districts were determined not just by elections, but a lack of an election? What if the sweaty cigar-chompers decided amongst themselves where they would aggressively campaign and where they would not, basically affecting the outcome of an election?
  Take Missouri for instance, and why wouldn’t we? Missouri is an interesting place for many reasons. Like many other states there are the urban population centers and there are the rural areas. But when you look at a map of Congressional districts is where it gets really interesting. Again, like many other states, much of the big cities garner more Democrat votes and the rural areas tend to lean more Republican and Conservative and get those votes. But in Missouri, a very sharp, clear line has been drawn between those areas. Has anyone bothered to ask why?
   St. Louis and the surrounding area has a long history of being a Democrat stronghold. The Gateway City has not had a Republican Mayor since 1949. The first Congressional district has not had a Republican representative since, you guessed it, 1949. But at some point the Republicans simply stopped showing up for the election. Do they not owe it to the Republicans, no matter how few of them live in the district, to at least put up a vigorous fight?
  One of America’s most divisive periods in its history was the 1960’s, and St. Louis was certainly not immune. The City’s foray into massive public housing complexes was the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing complex. The experiment quickly went south and by the late 60’s it became apparent that it was going to have to be torn down. But what to do with all the tenants? Where would they go? In 1968 Missouri’s first Congressional district elected its first African-American Congressman, and in an era where it may have been quite a battle to get a black congressional candidate elected. Could the powers that be might have decided that he needed a little help? After all, a census year was approaching in 1970 and based on those numbers, new district lines would be drawn. But on an even grander scale, and in true Democrat fashion, how to ensure that that district would remain Democrat indefinitely? How do they ensure that that first black Democrat Congressman has that job as long as he wants it? Would some concessions have to be made?
  It sounds like the stuff of urban legends. No one has any real proof but many have heard the story. Could one have those back-room cigar-chomping deals have been made in the form of a trade off? Democrats get the urban areas of Kansas City and St. Louis City, and the Republicans leave them alone, while the GOP would hold sway over the rural areas of the state and the Democrats would remain fairly quiet. While many show-me state political watchers would chuckle and promptly dismiss the whole notion as some black helicopter conspiracy theory, some of the most seasoned veterans of Missouri’s political battles say it is entirely possible.
  Martin Baker, three-time Republican candidate for Congress in Missouri CD1 says, “As our Party has consistently failed to support any congressional candidate who challenges the status quo in the urban areas and make our Party be electorally accountable to the people of those areas, Republicans are waving the white flag of surrender each electoral cycle and also when the district lines are redrawn by the General Assembly every ten years. Under Missouri law, any resident of the state can run in ANY Congressional District, regardless of if they are a resident of that district, so easily the GOP could recruit the best and brightest to stand for nomination and election in CD1 or CD5 (Kansas City) but the GOP consistently leaves those districts to die on the vine by not encouraging a “Party All-Star” to run and then either underfunding or not funding at all those races so it does give one consideration of possible political collusion.” Robyn Hamlin, two-time Republican nominee for CD1 agrees. She says that while she does not know what the agreement might have been for the Kansas City area, she is “very positive” that it happened in St. Louis. She went on to say that she believes the major players that might have taken part in such an agreement are either out of politics or deceased.
  Does concrete evidence exist somewhere that such brokering took place, more than likely decades ago? Does someone’s spouse, children, or political protégé know the real story? Will someone offer up a death bed confession? Will others decide to dig deeper and find out the truth once and for all? Good questions. But perhaps the best question of all, don’t the residents of Missouri’s first and fifth congressional districts deserve to know all the choices before them prior to an election, instead of having that election decided for them?

Don’t they deserve to know the truth?           

Monday, July 11, 2016

Being Above the Law in America


  One of the many beautiful things about America is that the law of the land is just that. No matter if you are the CEO of a million dollar company down to the janitor at that million dollar company. We fought a war for this very principle. Before America’s independence from Britain, if you committed a crime or some other infraction, and you were a good buddy of the King, chances are that things would go a lot easier for you than if you were just the average tricorn wearing colonist.
  Since the founding of the nation, even with that idea for the most part in place, there have always been that few, that handful of well-connected people who always seem to slide by, to skate. Are they that charming, are they expert manipulators of the truth, do they know the right people, or all of the above?
  We learned last week that that dubious system is firmly in place, and if your name happens to be Clinton, doesn’t really matter if it is Bill or Hillary, the sky’s the limit, the world your oyster.
  It is not a new phenomenon. Long before the nation was enchanted by the man from Hope and his wife, the people of Arkansas were well acquainted with the legal and otherwise escapades of the Clintons. From the bungled Whitewater land deal, to Hillary’s cattle futures windfall, to those long searched for Rose Law Firm records that just poof, appeared out of nowhere in the White House, the close inner circle made sure that no Clinton would ever be held accountable for any questionable activity.
  When Bill Clinton became president, the cycle continued, and with the assistance of an always willing liberal media, the Clintons would be investigated, questioned, and interviewed. But the long arm of the law never seemed to be long enough to ensnare the Clintons.
  Then came the night of September 11, 2012. The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Libya is attacked by terrorists. Four people, including a United States Ambassador is killed. The Obama administration with Hillary Clinton now Secretary of State tells the world the “spontaneous” attack is because of an offensive YouTube video. Some four years later, we know not only this but virtually everything Americans were told about this attack is a lie. We also learn that not only is Hillary Clinton using unsecured servers to send and receive sensitive classified information, she lies repeatedly and ad nauseum about it. The entire case is handed over to the FBI. Possible multiple felonies have been committed by the now presumptive Democrat presidential nominee. The investigation goes on for months, the result, the usual, no criminal charges.
  Let’s review. We have learned that the concept of equal treatment under the law no longer applies. FBI Director James Comey all but told us that if this were any other American, they would have surely earned themselves an orange jumpsuit. But not Hillary. Not only does Hillary skate because her name is Clinton, she expects to skate because her name is Clinton. When you lose one of the basic tenets your society was founded upon, why would you not assume others are to follow.
  The American people have watched Bill and Hillary Clinton wiggle out of every bit of legal mayhem that has come their way while their willing media accomplices cleared the path for them. American are tired, fed up, and angry that the Clinton double standard they have suspected for decades has once again been proven true.

  It is clear that the Clintons will not go away quietly unless we make them. It is a crime spree whose time has come. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ed Martin- The Poison Pill of Politics?


  Politics is a complex and dirty business. It has often been called “blood sport”. Friends can turn on one another in an instant, and the old cliché, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” are words to live by for most Politicians, although it is unlikely that anyone will admit that out loud. Some people, like Bill Clinton are naturals at it. Love him or hate him, Clinton has the charm, personality, and charisma to make anyone believe that he is their best friend. Others, not so much. They attempt various paths in the political arena, working for the candidate of their choice, heading up political organizations, or even running for office themselves. The reality is that they are not very good at any of these avenues, and they tend to leave a swath of possible good intentions but definite bad happenings in their wake.
  Every state no doubt has their own political Mr. Fix-it. Ed Martin seems to have done plenty of repair work in the Show-Me State, whether we need it or not. The result is a questionable track record that goes back way before the current situation at Eagle Forum.
  Martin’s first big step into state wide politics after serving on the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners was being named as Governor Matt Blunt’s Chief of Staff in 2006. Shortly after being named to that post, an investigation was started by the Springfield(MO) News-Leader into whether or not Martin was using his position to influence various groups against political opponents. After a battle to use sunshine laws to gain access to Martin’s emails while Governor Blunt’s Chief of Staff, several other major newspapers in the state found that Martin did indeed use his office for political gain. Ultimately the State conducted its own investigation and found that the emails were mishandled by the Blunt administration and that Martin had illegally destroyed some emails in violation of the state sunshine laws.
  The road to Ed Martin’s various runs for elected office is long and often confusing. In 2010, he ran for Congress against incumbent Russ Carnahan. By most accounts Martin ran a good campaign but was narrowly defeated by Carnahan. It is at this point where things begin to get a bit sketchy. In 2012 Martin announced a run for the U.S Senate against incumbent Claire McCaskill. But now, congressional district lines have been redrawn and Martin decides to run for Todd Akin’s old seat in the second Congressional District. This campaign is also short lived as he drops out of this race and decides to run against incumbent Attorney General Chris Koster. Is everyone keeping up?
  In 2009 the St. Louis Tea Party was on track to become one of the most influential Tea Party groups in the nation. But that all changed when the purely Grassroots organization began to splinter. The reason, some were of the belief that the Tea Party should also be in the business of endorsing candidates. The candidate those folks wanted to endorse, Ed Martin in his run for Congress against Russ Carnahan. This split among Tea Party faithful proved to be the death knell for a group that in its infancy had the potential to produce many rising stars within the Conservative movement. However, the fate of the St. Louis Tea Party would be sealed as soon as Ed Martin’s loyal fan club appeared on the scene.  
  In 2013, Ed Martin was elected as Missouri Republican Party Chairman. Fundraising for MOGOP immediately dropped off after Martin took the helm. At one point the bank account for the Party only held about $200 and in 2014, former Republican candidate for Governor Dave Spence had to write a check to infuse the Party with some cash flow just to make payroll.
  Of course the latest in this line of snafus is the upheaval at The Eagle Forum. Since his arrival at Eagle Forum in January of 2015, things have not been rosy for the organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly in 1972. In April of this year a lawsuit was filed by six board members, one of which is Schlafly’s daughter seeking an injunction against Martin and Schlafly’s son John. Part of the lawsuit states that Martin refuses to acknowledge that Eagle Forum fired him at the beginning of April, and that he and John Schlafly have prevented other board members from accessing documents and financial accounts. They also accuse him of malicious social media attacks against the board. Phyllis Schlafly herself has accused the board of a hostile takeover attempt, and she and others within the Missouri political circle believe this is because of her endorsement of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. She is not named in the lawsuit. Board members claim that Martin is again using his position for his own agenda and that he has fostered “unprecedented chaos and division” at Eagle Forum. Sound familiar? 

  What Ed Martin’s future political plans are is unclear. In other words, no one knows quite where the political trail of breadcrumbs will lead. Just look for the usual path of destruction.          

Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando Strong


  Americans are in mourning today. We are in mourning for fifty of our fellow Americans who were slaughtered on Saturday evening at a nightclub in Orlando Florida. They were doing what so many of us do on a Saturday night, hanging out with friends, having a good time, maybe having a few drinks and dancing, just unwinding from their week. This attack is vicious not only because once again, innocent Americans have been targeted by someone who, as we have recently been prone to say, identifies as an ISIS terrorist, but he targeted innocent Americans for nothing else than the fact that they were gay.
  As do a lot of others in the media, the name of this monster will not be uttered here. He will not get his fifteen minutes of fame from this blog. What will be uttered here are things that need to be said.
  It is understandable that Gay Americans will look at this first as a hate crime. They are right, it is, but not in the way we identify hate crimes in this country. It is a hate based on ideology that perhaps the Gay community should become educated on. Radical Islamic terrorism, because that is what it is and that is what it will be called here, teaches that homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. Any day of the week on YouTube you will find videos of Gay people tossed off the roofs of buildings in Muslim countries for this reason. Radical Islamic terrorists want to kill you not only because you are an American, but because you are a Gay American. This is a fact.
  We also have a problem because our President refuses to say the words that have been said here, radical Islamic terrorism. It is here and it is here because it is no secret that our southern border has a giant “come on in!” sign on it. It is known fact that items such as prayer rugs have been found there. For some twisted reason, we have decided to turn ourselves into a nation of pretzels in order to not offend in any way the very people who want to kill all of us. They do not care if you are rich or poor, black or white, fat or skinny, they want to kill you again, because you are an American.
  America is at war. We are at war with radical Islamic terrorism. But we are officially back to pre- 9/11 mentality. Nothing could be more dangerous. Is political correctness part of the problem? Absolutely. Being polite is literally getting us killed.
  Once again, as we did after 9/11, we will erect memorials, go to funerals, pay tribute to and bury the loved ones we have lost. How many more memorials, how many more funerals, how much more of this war that we refuse to fight must we endure?

  Americans, wake up and get your head out of the sand. There are some instances where the answer to that question posed long ago is no, we can’t all just get along.                   

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Not Your Mother's Feminism


  The presidential election of 2016 is on track to become historic for a variety of reasons. If Donald Trump wins in November it will be the first time in modern history that someone who is not a career politician, not someone who has spent a good portion of their adult life in Washington would win. If Hillary Clinton wins she will be the first female American president and the first former first lady to ascend to the presidency.
  A Hillary Clinton presidency would most certainly be a crowning achievement for feminists of Hillary’s generation. The Gloria Steinems, Betty Friedans and Germaine Greers would view it as a culmination of their life’s work. But what about the young women of today? While they may recognize the strides for women made in those days, how many of them can relate with the feminist ideology of Hillary Clinton’s coming of age years?
  In poll after poll Bernie Sanders is running away with the millennial vote, and that includes millennial age women. Why isn’t Hillary owning the 18-29 female vote? In spite of another former Secretary of State, Madelyn Albright declaring there is a “special place in hell for women who don’t support other women”, that is not resonating with young women.
  Feminism in the 60’s was angry, militant. Career choices were still few for the working women of the day. Secretary, nurse, teacher, and stewardess, now known as  flight attendants were the main career paths open to women. In most of those environments it was quite acceptable to pay them less for the same work, being called “honey” and “sweetie” were the norm, and inappropriate jokes and touches were endured if you wanted to keep your job. Sixties feminism changed a lot of that so we can give props were they are due.
  But there was another aspect to Hillary Clinton feminism. It involved a lot of anger and hatred, and it was directed at men. Perhaps some of it was justified given the changes in society that were being attempted. Gloria Steinem now famously once said, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”. While today’s young women who might identify themselves as feminists are fiercely proud of their independence and rightfully so, not many of them are going to admit to a level of hatred for men.
  Hillary also has other problems with young women who have become aware of Bill Clinton’s 90’s era escapades and her participation in the destruction of the lives of many of the women who made accusations of sexual assault and even rape against her husband. Then there is money given to the Clinton foundation by such countries as Saudi Arabia. How can you be a champion for women when you accept donations from a nation who does not permit women to drive?  
  The definition of feminism is very different for women today. It includes choices about career, education, marriage and family. And while there will always be some vestiges of 60’s mentality, women today have the means to fight back. Perhaps they are not angry because they have never had to be.

  Will Hillary drag out the founding mothers of the Feminist movement in order to grow her numbers with millennial women? Maybe, but it could just be that millennial age women are figuring out that they need Hillary Clinton like a fish needs a bicycle.