Saturday, March 4, 2017


The flight was completely booked with a bunch of falcons. Can you believe it? I'll be back soon.

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Haven’t You Left Yet?

The following article is so well written that I wanted to publish it intact and with credit given to the author. From The Washington Post and republished on the Chicago Tribune website.

By Ed Rogers, a veteran Republican strategist and chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group.

January 27, 2017.

Hey, Celebs for Hillary:  Weren't you Moving Overseas?

Did the phony, hypocritical liberal celebrities who made fools of themselves during the 2016 campaign not get the memo? I am specifically referring to all the useful post-election analysis that should have clued them in to how little their opinions mattered in the political realm, and what their utility might be in the future. Even back in 2014, a CBS News poll showed that 61 percent of Americans thought Hollywood had “too much influence on American politics and social values.”

To remind everyone, celebrities from Beyonce to Leonardo DiCaprio to Katy Perry appeared at Hillary Clinton rallies, held concerts in support of Clinton and produced what they obviously thought were really cute, funny videos trying to get people to vote for Clinton. But, as Maureen Callahan so succinctly wrote in a smart piece for the New York Post’s Page Six titled “Why celebrity endorsements didn’t help Hillary at all,” “Those who have money, fame, privilege and status and have no cause to worry — and fail to do so — can only further divide the country and alienate those who, rightly, feel unseen, unheard and looked down upon.” And, Callahan wrote, after Clinton lost, “those celebrities who reacted publicly often did so with a pungent brew of self-pity, condescension and didacticism.” Sarah Jones, writing in the New Republic, may have said it best: Clinton’s “campaign employed a candy-colored brand of female empowerment seemingly based on the assumption that white women’s political priorities are influenced by the pop culture they consume.”

Anyway, the wasted efforts of celebrities gave us such memorable performances as Lena Dunham’s cringe-worthy “Sensual Pantsuit” video and Jay-Z’s big concert, aimed at mobilizing the young African-American community in the swing state of Ohio. After Clinton lost the election, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, and the celebrities who had vowed to leave the country if Donald Trump won came down with the requisite amnesia. Unfortunately, they were not also struck dumb.

Rather than learn their lesson, it appears that the self-centered and tone-deaf celebrities who were supposed to know something about the American zeitgeist and appealing to their audiences have doubled down, engaging in more self-righteous rhetoric and overblown, fashionable-on-the-left social media freak-outs about Trump’s inauguration. Maybe I shouldn’t have expected any self-reflection or understanding of the post-election analysis, since I don’t think of many of them as being particularly politically literate or as being avid readers, especially not when the news is critical or questions their own public appeal.

And the whining, panic and tantrums have only amplified since November. In the last week alone, we’ve seen theatrical outbursts from celebrities that remind those who voted for Trump exactly what they don’t like about celebrities gratuitously inserting themselves into their political decision-making. Kate Rich, a B-list wannabe from “Saturday Night Live,” took a stand by writing a tweet picking on Trump’s 10-year-old son. During the extremely vulgar and militant women’s march in Washington, no less than washed-up singer Madonna mused about blowing up the White House. When will she relieve us of having to witness her now more than a decade-long, “I swear I’m still relevant” tour? Don’t even get me started on Ashley Judd’s delusional rant at that same protest march. And finally, we have Chelsea Handler, the self-absorbed, unfunny, tries-too-hard “comedian” who says she’s too good to interview Melania Trump and makes fun of the first lady’s accent. Really? I suspect the Trumps haven’t lost any sleep over the fact that they will not be appearing on Handler’s show. I didn’t know she still had a show until I read about her refusal to grant the first family the privilege of appearing on it. It’s pathetic.

Everybody has a right to his or her own opinion and everybody has a right to speak out, blah blah blah. But in the case of American celebrities, they should start asking themselves whether or not it is wise for them to do so. The answer should be clear, but the fact that they don’t get it and won’t accept Trump as president says a lot about who they really are and what they really know.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Inaugural Fashion

Now that we have gotten through the pomp and ceremony of inaugurating a new president, it is time to get down to work. Hopefully, we elected the right person, and we can turn the responsibilities over to him, and wait for a miracle. We’re going to need it. I still remember “the good old days,” so it’s going to take a lot to impress us 1950s kids. Like I said before, I’m one of the old timers who still remembers the 1950s and I miss it.

I refuse to be discouraged by the naysayers who say we can’t make this country great again. If Trump had believed that, he would not have gotten into the race. He only plays to win. He knew he could win the votes before he even got started.

Since Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, has taken a position as Senior Adviser to his father-in-law; the family has packed up and moved to Washington DC. The family is moving into a $5.5 million colonial built in 1923 and renovated to have a modern staircase, five fireplaces, and crown molding. It is located in the same prestigious Kalorama neighborhood as the Obama family's incredible new home. Ivanka Trump left NYC wearing a beautiful Oscar De La Renta, Kelly green dress and jacket.

The night before the Inauguration, Trump hosted a very private Candlelight Dinner. Tiffany wore a heavily embroidered gold and cream Anne Bowen gown. It fit her perfectly and was, in my opinion, her best selection of the weekend. Ivanka wore another Oscar De La Renta gown that was white with a huge black bow flowing down the back. Melania wore an outstanding, gold sequined, form-fitting, long-sleeved custom Reem Acra gown that looked absolutely stunning on her.

For the Inaugural ceremony, Hillary’s cashmere suit and coat; and Melania’s cashmere dress and jacket were both designed by Ralph Lauren. Wow! Both outfits would probably be considered couturier and cost a minimum of $20,000 with all of the personal fittings and customizations required. Hillary’s suit was very slightly pink/beige colored. Her shoes had little princess heels (instead of the big chucky heels she usually wears), and matched the suit. That’s why the shoes looked slightly off with the white coat. But when the coat was unbuttoned, it all made sense.

Melania’s powder blue dress and jacket were tailored to perfection and the outfit held its own for the entire day, attending prayer service at St. John's, tea with the Obamas, the Inauguration Ceremony (where it endured a sprinkling of rain), attending the Congressional Luncheon, reviewing the military marching bands, accompanying the Obama's to their waiting helicopter, walking in the parade, and watching the entire parade from the grand stand until after dark.

I heard that Hillary was not thrilled that both Ivanka and Tiffany Trump wore white suits to the inauguration. She can't get a break. Plus, her hound-dog husband humiliated her during the inaugural ceremonies by ogling one of the Trump beauties!

Ivanka’s asymmetrical white pant suit was designed by Oscar De La Renta. Tiffany’s white coat was designed by Taoray Wang. Her $800 British Boots were designed by Aruna Seth, who “has previously made shoes worn by Pippa Middleton for Katherine and William's Royal Wedding, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Lopez and Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice (Prince Andrew’s girls).”

Kellyanne Conway’s military-style coat was designed by the House of Gucci and cost $3,600. Unfortunately, I thought it was hideous. To me, it is more of a costume, and something that can only be worn one time; but it certainly has gotten her A LOT of attention.

The gorgeous gold dress Ivanka wore to the Balls was designed by Carolina Herrera. Tiffany wore a strapless metallic pink sequined ball gown with mermaid flared skirt designed by Hollywood designer Simin Couture. Melania wore a cream, off-the-shoulder Hervé Pierre with a high slit and a crimson ribbon belt.

In other gossip—you knew the ex-wives were going to come out of the woodwork. Both of them attended the Inauguration and Marla attended the balls as a guest of her daughter, Tiffany. Ivana ducked out early when she heard Marla was there!

Donald Trump’s first wife Ivana, and the mother to his three oldest children, wants to be the ambassador to her native Czech Republic; saying she’s well known worldwide and she’s ready to serve the United States.

“I have written three books,” she told The New York Post. “They were translated in 40 countries and into 25 languages. I’m known by the name Ivana. I really did not need the name Trump.”

Marla Maples, who does need the name Trump and a job, wants to be a UN Ambassador to a country in Africa. She was spotted at Trump Tower a week before the inauguration, smiling as she exited the elevator; but there was no indication as to what was discussed. Now that Tiffany has graduated from college, they have both been tossed off the Trump gravy train. We shall see what happens next.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

What Are the Golden Globe Awards?

I’m watching the Golden Globes award show. I wasn’t going to watch it because I hate award shows; but I really like Jimmy Fallon, so I got sucked in. His performance was sub-par. They could do better.

Before I retired from a job that I really enjoyed, I was one of the very best at what I did. I used to get annoyed that I didn’t get to dress up in my best fu fu and walk down a red carpet. I would have won awards if they had given them. Does that make me any less talented or less worthy? So, as you can imagine with that attitude, on Academy Awards night, I was always particularly grumpy.

I’m just noticing, that throughout the show, they have interspersed footage of current movies as trailers. That’s something new and it was interesting. But, so far, the show is as boring as expected.

It is fun though, to see everyone in their glad rags. It’s easy to see why movie and TV stars are idolized. They are made to look like gods and goddesses. Some of us aren’t so lucky, though. Look around you sometime—when you are on the bus or the Subway. Mostly, you just see ugly people—really ugly people.

The tribute to Meryl Streep for the Cecil B. DeMille award was as exceptional as she is. She shared with us, advice she had gotten from Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart, and make it into art.”

What are the Golden Globe Awards?

(excerpt from Wikipedia)
…an American accolade bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign.

A brief history.

In 1943, a group of writers banded together to form the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and by creating a generously distributed award called the Golden Globe Award, they now play a significant role in film marketing. The 1st Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best achievements in 1943 filmmaking, was held in January 1944, at the 20th Century-Fox studios. Subsequent ceremonies were held at various venues throughout the next decade, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

In 1950, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made the decision to establish a special honorary award to recognize outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry. Recognizing its subject as an international figure within the entertainment industry, the first award was presented to director and producer, Cecil B. DeMille. The official name of the award thus became the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

In 2009, the Golden Globe statuette was redesigned to produce a statuette that included a unique marble base and enhanced the statuette’s quality and gold content. It was unveiled at a press conference at the Beverly Hilton prior to the show.

Revenues generated from the annual ceremony have enabled the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to donate millions of dollars to entertainment-related charities, as well as funding scholarships and other programs for future film and television professionals.

The broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards, telecast to 167 countries worldwide, generally ranks as the third most-watched awards show each year, behind only the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards. The Golden Globe Awards' theme song, which debuted in 2012, was written by Japanese musician and songwriter Yoshiki Hayashi.

To be honest, the music was apparently unremarkable, as I didn’t notice any kind of a “theme” song.

All-in-all, only the monologue by Meryl Streep was worth seeing. It will be the water-cooler topic for Monday.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

A New Year, but Same Old, Same Old!

I’m a bit of a whiner. I’m always complaining about how things could have, should have, would have been different if only…

I can’t complain to my sister because she always says the same thing, “Forget about it. You can’t change any of it now, and things could have been a lot worse!”

Well yeah, anything could have been a lot worse. But you know what is really bad and gives me that hopeless, helpless feeling? It’s when you don’t have any control over your life—say for example—people who are in prison. They don’t have any control over anything at all. So, I guess you just get used to it and accept it or you kill yourself.

I watched the WABC special about the Menendez brothers who killed their parents. At first they denied it and then finally said that they were sexually abused by their father and their mother was complicit, so they had to kill her too. What a waste! Now they will be in prison for the rest of their lives with no chance of parole and they are in different prisons, so they haven’t seen each other in 20 years. But what is particularly frustrating is when you know there is a way out and you could change your situation, if only…

The reason that I bring this up is because I live in an apartment in New York City. Except for specific laws that have been passed to protect Tenants’ Rights, we have very little control over our day-to-day lives. In order to be comfortable in NYC, you have to have a lot of money. If you are lucky enough to get into a rent-stabilized apartment like I have, you get low rent, but you only get the basic of basic services and sometimes not even that.

Last night, it was 22 degrees outside. Granted that is not Minnesota temperatures, but it is too cold to be without any heat or hot water. I kept thinking the boiler would kick in any minute, but that didn’t happen.

Normally I would convince myself that it was going to be fine and they would fix it in the morning, but just two days ago, my other sister, who also lives in the building, got into a confrontation with the building manager because they want to do some kind of work on our bathrooms to install a circulation pipe for the hot water in order to placate one of the newer tenants who has been complaining that the water is not hot enough and so she is withholding her rent. First of all, the law says the water temp is supposed to be 120 degrees and ours is 118. At that temperature it could nearly scald the skin off your hands. Secondly, I found out that her rent is more than twice what I am paying, so that is her real complaint and the landlord is willing to do whatever they have to do in order to get that rent. If they would just lower her rent a bit, I’m sure they could work things out.

Anyway, from time-to-time we see a story on our local news where an unscrupulous building owner requests access to a rent-stabilized apartment under the guise of doing repairs or upgrades. Then they tear apart the tenant’s bathroom, but never come back and finish the work. They even remove the toilet and sink and make the bathroom completely unusable. Eventually, the tenant will move out. They put the bathroom back together and then double or triple the rent.

So, that scenario was at the top of my mind. I don’t know if they are those kind of people, but it’s getting to where you can’t trust anyone anymore. It’s ALL about the money.

By 12:30 in the morning, the water was still ice cold, so I called the City and filed a formal complaint. Then I called the building Superintendent and told him the problem and added that if he actually lived in the building, this should be something he would know. We have laws covering resident Supers also. I added that I had already called the City and filed a Complaint. Needless to say, I was very depressed. If I had the money, I would just pack up and leave. I am retired now, and don’t really have any reason to be here anymore, but except for the cost of living, it is a fabulous city and I would miss it terribly. What makes it even harder to move is the cost of moving. Renting a DIY van is way, way more expensive here than other cities. It hardly cost me anything to rent a truck to come here. And, if you hire movers, you can’t hire just anyone. There are too many cases of movers giving an estimate of say, $1,500 and then they take your stuff to their warehouse until you are ready for it to be delivered to your new location. Then if you ever want to see your stuff again—the ransom, I mean the moving cost just went up to $9,000. Be prepared for just about everyone to try to take advantage of you.

So, the conclusion of all this whining is that at 4:00am, the hot water came back on—scalding hot as usual. And the heat came on at 5:30am just as it does every morning.

Now, I’m going to get some sleep. Later…

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Monday, January 2, 2017

President Barack Obama — Act Two

Well, here we are on the other side. It is finally 2017, and those of us who survived, are surveying the aftermath. It was a very scary experience.

With less than three weeks left in his presidency, Barack Obama is making plans for what comes next. He’s had an historic presidency, he’s still relatively popular and he’s about to have a lot more time on his hands.

Currently, he is causing as much trouble as he possibly can, under the guise of “legacy;” but, in reality, the next chapter of his life is still a blank page. Even after eight years as president, he is leaving a lot of “unfinished business.”

He himself has hinted at one of the most ambitious and wide-ranging post-presidential second acts in American history; namely: criminal justice reform, immigration, race relations, gun control, nuclear non-proliferation. If there is an issue with which Obama has been associated as president, the odds are; he’s talking about continuing that work after his presidency.

In short: returning to community organizing. “I’ll go back to doing the kinds of work that I was doing before, just trying to find ways to help people,” he told middle schoolers last year. “Help young people get educations, and help people get jobs, and try to bring businesses into neighborhoods that don’t have enough businesses. That’s the kind of work that I really love to do.”

In some areas, leaving the White House might actually free Obama to be more focused on the issues that matter to him. “The great thing about being a former president is that while you relinquish formal power, you maintain the prestige of the office,” said Mark Updegrove, director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and the author of Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House. “And you don’t have to react to the events that cross your desk. You can actually pursue an agenda.”

Updegrove expects Obama to be an activist ex-president, in the model of Jimmy Carter or Clinton. Not all presidents have chosen that path.

George Washington went back to Mount Vernon, after a farewell address in which he expressed a “pleasing expectation” of returning to the “sweet enjoyment” of citizenship.

Gerald Ford played golf. George W. Bush took up painting. And Ronald Reagan — the oldest president to leave office at age 77 — slipped from public view as he battled Alzheimer’s Disease.

“There is nothing more pathetic in life than a former president,” said President John Quincy Adams, who served in Congress for 17 years after the White House.

But Obama is relatively young (he turned 55 in August). He is just a year older than Bill Clinton was when he left the White House and he may have some qualities that could allow him to push the activist model even further. He was an accomplished author even before becoming president. As the first African-American president, he occupies a singular place in American history.

He is the first president in nearly a century who plans to remain in Washington after leaving office — at least for a year or two — putting him in a position to stay in the headlines.

Being a former president is a real job.

In 1958, Congress passed the Former Presidents Act to “maintain the dignity” of the office by not forcing former presidents to have to get a real job. Former presidents get paid as if they were a Cabinet secretary (currently $205,700 a year) for life, plus health benefits and around-the-clock Secret Service protection.

The law also gives former presidents an office, staff and expenses for life. President George W. Bush, for example, received an allowance of nearly $1.1 million in 2015, according to the General Services Administration. Congress passed a bill in July to curtail those expenses, which Obama vetoed.

Former presidents also get classified security briefings and are often called upon to advise their successors. Hillary Clinton told CBS’s 60 Minutes, when she still thought she was the presumptive president-elect, she planned to consult Obama regularly.

And modern ex-presidents also busy themselves building presidential libraries, raising money for their foundations, and setting up organizations — like the Carter Center (world peace and disease) or the Clinton Global Initiative (climate, development, health) — to continue their work. The role has evolved significantly since Congress passed the Former Presidents Act, after a destitute Harry Truman complained that he didn’t even have the money to respond to the many letters he received. Now, former presidents have many ways to leverage their celebrity into multimillion-dollar paydays.

Most presidents since Calvin Coolidge have written post-presidential memoirs, and more recently they’ve become guaranteed bestsellers. Bill Clinton received a record $15 million advance for his book, My Life, in 2004.

Since 2005, Obama has made more than $15.6 million from his previous three books (Dreams of My Father, The Audacity of Hope and a children’s book, Of Thee I Sing), according to tax returns compiled by the Tax History Project. Obama was under contract to write “a non-fiction book, subject to be determined” when he was elected president. He reached an agreement with Random House to put the book on hold while in office.

And then there’s the speaking circuit. Bill Clinton often commands six figures for a single speech — sometimes several speeches a week. Obama has even hinted — with varying degrees of seriousness — that he might take more conventional jobs. “In seven months or so, I’ll be on the job market,” Obama joked at an entrepreneurship summit in July. “I’m going to get on LinkedIn and see what comes up.”

Other possible paying gigs Obama could take:

Law professor: Obama taught law before becoming president, and has hinted that he would like to return. “I love the law, intellectually,” Obama said in a New Yorker interview. “I love nutting out these problems, wrestling with these arguments. I love teaching. I miss the classroom and engaging with students.”

But where? There are three obvious contenders: The University of Chicago, where Obama taught previously; Harvard, where he graduated law school; and Columbia University, where he earned a political science degree. There’s been the most buzz around Columbia, fueled by a remark from the college’s president at the 2015 convocation that he looked forward to “welcoming back our most famous alumnus ... in 2017.”

NBA team owner: In an interview with GQ last year, Obama said he’d love to own part of a professional basketball franchise. “I have fantasized about being able to put together a team and how much fun that would be. I think it’d be terrific,” he said. He’s a longtime Chicago sports fan, but said the team wouldn’t have to be the Bulls. “I know (Bulls owner Jerry) Reinsdorf pretty good,” Obama said. “He’s not giving that thing up anytime soon.”

Sports league commissioner: In the same interview, Obama was asked which league he would most like to preside over. “Well, I’m best suited for basketball. But I cannot believe that the commissioner of football gets paid $44 million a year,” he said. It was a hypothetical question, and there’s no reason to expect Obama is actively seeking the job. “I’m not aware of any offer like that that’s being considered,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said last month.

My Brother’s Keeper: Obama launched the mentoring initiative for young minority men in 2014 and a public-private partnership. And the next year, he announced the creation of the MBK Alliance to continue that work past his presidency. It’s unclear what formal role Obama will have with the non-profit, but Obama has made clear he’ll remain involved.

“We are in this for the long haul,” Obama said last year. “This will remain a mission for me and for Michelle not just for the rest of my presidency, but for the rest of my life.”

That’s just one of many issues in which he has pledged to stay involved. “It’s something that I’m going to keep on working on even after I leave the presidency,” he said of criminal justice reform. “Because ... at the heart of my faith, and what I believe is at the heart of the American ideal is, is that we’re all imperfect.”

And he made a similar promise speaking to youth in Vietnam in May. “People always ask me, what am I going to do after I leave the presidency,” he said. “Because I’m so relatively young — not compared to you, but compared to other presidents, I’m pretty young. And I don’t know everything that I’m going to do, but the one thing I do know I will continue to work on is developing young leaders in the United States and around the world.”

Not seeking office.

There are some jobs he’s ruled out, including anything that would constitute continued public employment. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in Iowa last year that she thought Obama would be “a “brilliant” Supreme Court justice and would consider nominating him if elected. (There’s precedent in William Howard Taft, and Obama’s own inability to get his nominee confirmed means there could be an opening on Inauguration Day.)

But Obama doesn’t seem to be interested. “When I got out of law school, I chose not to clerk, partly because I was an older student, but partly because I don’t think I have the temperament to sit in a chamber and write opinions,” he told the New Yorker in 2014. “I think being a Justice is a little bit too monastic for me. Particularly after having spent six years and what will be eight years in this bubble, I think I need to get outside a little bit more.”

Serving in an elected capacity is also off the table. When Barbara Walters asked him in 2013 if he’d like to continue in politics, Michelle Obama interrupted. “No,” she said. “That’s a no.”

“I think it’s fair to say that I’ve run my last campaign,” President Obama added. “I won’t be in another elected office. Will I continue to care deeply about the issues that we’ve been working on? Absolutely.”

If Carter and Clinton are considered exemplars of the modern post-presidency, it’s actually a president often maligned by history who may have invented the role.

Herbert Hoover lived for 31 years after leaving the White House, longer than any president except Carter, now approaching 36 years. That gave him plenty of time to redeem himself, said historian Cody J. Foster of the University of Kentucky.

After spending most of the 1930s retreating from public life — emerging occasionally to campaign against President Franklin Roosevelt — Hoover re-emerged in the Truman administration as the point man on famine relief and the head of a commission to reorganize the executive branch. “The post-presidency is all about legacy building. Regardless of whether you had a good presidency or a bad presidency, you have this post-presidential period — assuming you don’t die — to redeem yourself,” Foster said.

Obama could take that idea farther than any of his predecessors. “We’re really at a neat turning point for the post-presidency. (Obama) has a lot of different options on his plate that he can pick and choose from,” he said.

But Obama has plenty of time for that later, Foster said. “What you see really is this period immediately after a presidency where, honest to God, they just take some time off and sleep.”

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

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