Category Archives: Politics

STFU and Do Your Job

Norman the plumber listened patiently as one of his helpers presented a long soliloquy about what was wrong with the job they were on, why the morning was so difficult and how nothing that went wrong was his fault. This particular laborer was well known for his complaining. As they finished lunch and got ready to go back to work, the plumber addressed the issues and grievances of his underling.

“Kenny, I’ve go some advice. And if you follow this advice, you’ll be a lot better off: shut the fuck up and do your job.”

I was just a teenager, but that stuck with me.

How many times do you wish people would just STFU and do their job? Yes you know exactly what I’m talking about. And don’t get me wrong, it’s advice I should heed more often.

So, I read this tweet last week from our esteemed leader:

OK. You won the election, you’re the most powerful person in the world, now STFU and do your job.

It turns out there’s an easy way to send feedback to the White House with a handy form on their website. Maybe this would be a good time to send Mr. Trump a message that he’d surely understand. STFU and do your job. Really, the world would be so much better, and indeed, it would be a tremendous way to make America great again.

Special Comment

This election season would not be complete without the voice of Keith Olbermann.

Thanks to GQ magazine, we’ve been able to hear Olbermann’s views on Donald Trump — exclusively Donald Trump — in a series of web videos called The Closer with Keith Olbermann. This one below is not his most devastating takedown of Trump, but as a dog lover, it is my favorite:

I miss having Olbermann on TV. It may be that the settlement of his lawsuit with Current TV means he doesn’t need to work the sort of jobs he did before, and if so, bully for him. To say Olbermann’s relationship with management has never been great may be the understatement of the decade.

Either way, Olbermann’s unshackled commentaries on Trump are one of the good things to come out of this dismal election.

UPDATE: Another Trump reference surfaced this week in a NY Times story. He referred to Arsenio Hall as follows:

“Dead as a doornail,” was his assessment of Mr. Hall in a previously unreleased interview from two years ago. “Dead as dog meat.”

This Election is Rigged

Yes, it’s true, this election is rigged. Someone schemed to make a lunatic the Republican nominee.

The Republicans deprived us of a legitimate choice. Instead of putting forth a candidate who is competent and level-headed, someone we can trust to make solid decisions about the future of our country, their nominee is the most unqualified and unstable man to ever run for the office.

And talk about a squandered opportunity. Any one of the major Republican candidates (including John Kasich, who I voted for in the primary) might have beaten Hillary Clinton — except for the one who was chosen. Oh, yes, Trump had his chance, but he’s too stupid and volatile to conduct an effective campaign. Stupid and volatile is not a winning combination.

When my kids were small, I’d take them with me on election day to see how voting is done. I wish they were still little, because I’d be able to show them how to cast a vote for a write-in candidate. I recommend you consider Evan McMullin, who is a hundred times more qualified than Trump to be our president.

“Rob,” you say, “There’s no way Evan McMullin can win.” That’s right, he probably can’t win. This year there are no winners.

Ask a Stupid Question

On our local talk radio station this week, the host said he couldn’t fathom why people don’t join him and the millions of others who support Donald Trump. He asked, “Do they think we’re stupid?”

Yes, actually, you hit the nail on the head: we think you’re stupid. Any other questions?

And not merely stupid, but dangerous.

I’ve made fun of these local radio goofballs before, but it was just harmless fun. They’d rant and say dumb things, but it was just entertainment. That was before they pitched a madman to be our next president.

It’s easy to be dismissive of local talk radio when you hear the numbskulls who call in to agree with the host, but it’s those who don’t call who worry me. In this town, many influential people listen to this garbage and some of them even advertise on the station. Business is business.

If you need proof that ignorance sells, there you have it: talk radio and Donald Trump. In the oft misquoted words of H.L. Mencken:

“No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

Big Bad Ben

About the murders in Oregon, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says that if confronted by a gunman, he would “Not just stand there and let him shoot me,” and, “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'”

Really?

Whenever Mr. Carson appears in public, he’s probably accompanied by armed men, so what should we expect if someone shows up at one of his events and waves a gun in his face — that he’s going to intervene?

No, it’s my guess that Mr. Carson will have his ass on the floor faster than you can say neurosurgeon.

It’s some pretty big talk to say you’d take on an armed man. Among all of the people running for president, the only one I’d believe that from would be decorated Vietnam veteran Jim Webb. This is from the citation that accompanied his Navy Cross:

Deploying his men into defensive positions, First Lieutenant Webb was advancing to the first bunker when three enemy soldiers armed with hand grenades jumped out. Reacting instantly, he grabbed the closest man and, brandishing his .45 caliber pistol at the others, apprehended all three of the soldiers.

Read the whole thing for the part about him shielding one of his Marines from a grenade blast. Yes, I’d believe it from Jim Webb — but Jim Webb wouldn’t be stupid enough to say it in the first place.

So, good luck to you, Ben Carson. I hope we never get to see what would happen if an armed man comes for you.

Tuesday Can’t Come Soon Enough

I don’t really mind all the commercials; political ads provide a  fascinating study in propaganda. The hilariously nutty way campaigns distort the truth in attack ads is so brazen and shameless that it’s actually entertaining.

The news coverage? That doesn’t really trouble me, either; just because there are 24-hour news channels doesn’t mean you’re supposed to watch them for 24-hours at a time. Turn it off if you don’t like it.

But what I’ve really had enough of is Facebook.

The best way to describe why I’m so annoyed is to to paraphrase Ebert’s Law, which goes, “A movie is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it.”

As for Facebook and politics, this is not about what my friends think, it’s about how they think about what they think.

I don’t give a hoot if you support for Obama, Romney, or Gary Johnson… I respect your opinion, just spare me the overheated sound bite nonsense fed to you by Fox News or MSNBC. And if you’re posting something that implies those who support the other guy are stupid, maybe your “friends” won’t appreciate that.

If you’re really interested in what this stuff does to people, listen to This American Life’s recent show, Red State Blue State. Social media is bound to be the next thing that bitterly divides us.

So, what will people do after Election Day? My guess is they will spend the next four years complaining about whoever wins. And it will probably begin on Wednesday morning.

Speechifying Speechifiers

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we all voted for president this coming Tuesday instead of waiting until November. What else could possibly be said at this point?

After the conventions is when the race traditionally heats up; if that holds true, this election season will start glowing like Chernobyl and burn a hole right through the earth’s crust.

Watching the Republican National Convention, it was interesting that Mitt Romney didn’t once utter the word “Afghanistan.”  Certainly Mitt Romney cares that we’re in Afghanistan; it’s incomprehensible that someone running for president is not concerned that we’re at war. But the truth is very simple:  research told him not to bother.

Every idea in his speech, indeed his entire campaign, is informed by intense research to reveal what voters care about. None of this is random and none of it is based on what would seem to be logical priorities. If surveys and focus groups told the Republicans that America is very concerned about Afghanistan, then that would have been reflected in his speech. It’s as simple as that — and I hate to say this, but if you believe otherwise, you are deeply naive.

So, this shouldn’t be taken as proof that Mitt Romney is not interested in Afghanistan. Political communication is not about saying what you believe, but what you believe will get you elected. That’s nothing new — but it really makes you wonder what’s actually bouncing around in a candidate’s head, doesn’t it?

Freedom Cookies

By the time you read this, these cookies will be on their way to Afghanistan.

I baked them on Memorial Day for my son Alex who is serving in an infantry company in the western part of the country, a place that appears to be mostly flat and brown. I’m also sending a bocce set.

It was great to see so many people lining the streets of Albany for the Memorial Day parade. I think the biggest cheer went up for the guys who’d served in Vietnam. It seems that their number is beginning to dwindle, like the Korea and World War II vets before them.

My father, just a teenager when he joined the Navy during WW II, taught me the importance of Memorial Day, that before the picnics and parties, first we remember. As citizens, that’s our responsibility.

I’d like to challenge all Americans to remember every day that we’re at war.

To most people the war is far off and abstract, something that doesn’t mean anything in their lives. That’s understandable — but to those who have an opinion on everything and complain endlessly about our country, I’d suggest you spend five minutes a day reading about Afghanistan. I won’t try to tell you what to think, just to think.

The Dog Vote

Dogs can not vote, but that doesn’t stop me from speculating about their politics.

I tend to think of our dogs as libertarians: they oppose any sort of regulation or interference in their personal business. They don’t want anything impinging on their freedom to be dogs, but like many libertarians, they are also full of contradictions. For example, the dogs tend to be in favor of programs that benefit them directly — handouts, if you will — which is just human nature. Or dog nature, I guess.

And I do know this about my dogs: they would never vote for Mitt Romney. Not after hearing the story of Romney strapping his dog to the roof of a car to make a 12 hour vacation trip, like Clark Griswold with an Irish Setter. Just Google Romney dog for the ugly details.

To my dogs this is a sort of a canine Chappaquiddick, absolute proof that Romney can not be trusted to serve.

Don’t get me started on the cats. They are all about receiving services while not contributing much to the household. Not to get into any tired old sterotypes, but they are clearly the entitlement class — and certainly Democrats.