Monday, April 24, 2017

I need your help

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Just click on the Paypal "DONATE" button at the top of the right-hand column of this blog and follow the instructions.

Thank you for your support and continued readership.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Is Donald Trump mentally ill?


“I’ve worked with murderers and rapists. I can recognize dangerousness from a mile away. You don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend fifty years studying it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.” – James Gilligan, psychiatrist and professor at New York University School of Medicine

Donald Trump has 'dangerous mental illness', say psychiatry experts at Yale conference

Donald Trump has a “dangerous mental illness” and is not fit to lead the US, a group of psychiatrists has warned during a conference at Yale University.

Mental health experts claimed the President was “paranoid and delusional”, and said it was their “ethical responsibility” to warn the American public about the “dangers” Mr Trump’s psychological state poses to the country.

Speaking at the conference at Yale’s School of Medicine on Thursday, one of the mental health professionals, Dr John Gartner, a practising psychotherapist who advised psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, said: “We have an ethical responsibility to warn the public about Donald Trump's dangerous mental illness.”
James Gilligan, a psychiatrist and professor at New York University, told the conference he had worked some of the “most dangerous people in society”, including murderers and rapists — but that he was convinced by the “dangerousness” of Mr Trump.

“I’ve worked with some of the most dangerous people our society produces, directing mental health programmes in prisons,” he said.

“I’ve worked with murderers and rapists. I can recognize dangerousness from a mile away. You don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend fifty years studying it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.” [Source]


New York Magazine: At Yale, Psychiatrists Cite Their ‘Duty to Warn’ About an Unfit President


New York Times, Feb. 17, 2017: Is It Time to Call Trump Mentally Ill?

Columbia Journalism Review, Feb 22, 2017: Avoiding questions about Trump’s mental health is a betrayal of public trust

New York Times, Aug. 15, 2015: Introducing Donald Trump, Diplomat


MSNBC: THE LAST WORD, Feb. 23, 2017: Trump's mental health: 'The elephant in the room'

MSNBC: THE LAST WORD, Aug 18, 2015: Inside the mind of Donald Trump

Monday, April 17, 2017

Trump wants to be 'Queen for a Day'...and other Trumpy things I found on the Internet


Trump delights in watching the U.S. military display its strength
Amid the often jarring inconsistency of President Trump’s foreign policy, one thing has always been crystal clear: He loves a big show of American military force.

“You gotta knock the hell out of them — Boom! Boom! Boom!” Trump said of Islamic State terrorists at a January 2016 rally in Iowa, punctuating each “boom” with a punch of his fist.

That same impulse has been apparent over the past 10 days as Trump pummeled a Syrian air base with cruise missiles, threatened military action against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and praised the U.S. military’s first-ever use of a massive 11-ton bomb, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” to kill Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.

“So incredible. It’s brilliant. It’s genius,” Trump said Tuesday of the missile strike in Syria. “Our technology, our equipment is better than anybody by a factor of five.” [Source: Washington Post]
After the Washington Post posted the story on its FB page, one reader left this comment:
This guy's like a toddler at Christmas with his new toys:

Look mommy! I sit on the big truck! Vroooom vroom!

See! I push the button whoosh! Boom!

No! I don't want to sit with my friend Angela! I don't want a picture with her! She has cooties!

Oooh! The nice man from China's really smart! I won't say bad things about him any more, I promise mommy. He's my friend now. But still don't like North Korea! No! I think they're bad! Gonna push my button and make them go away.

Mommy! I'm tired of playing president. I wanna go home and go play now. No! now!



Trump wants gold-plated carriage ride with Queen during UK visit
President Trump has requested a ride with Queen Elizabeth II in a gold-plated carriage during his visit to the United Kingdom this October, according to a report by The Times of London. [Source: The Hill]



What Kind of Pet Should Donald Trump Get?
Breathes there a man with a soul so dead that he doesn’t want a loyal dog or faithful feline trotting beside him when he mounts that lonely staircase to the venerable Master Bedroom?

Apparently, yes.

It seems emblematic of President Trump’s blaring tone-deafness for the office that he doesn’t even feign interest in recruiting a furry, fowlish or finny friend. Pets reap vast, humanizing rewards for presidents, as almost every one of his predecessors has discovered.
What is that great line? Once you’ve learned to fake sincerity, the rest is easy. Once Donald Trump learns to pretend to love animals, he can move on to pretending to love the human race. [Source: New York Times]



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trump reverses his position on U.S. military. Now says 'we have the greatest military in the world'

Donald Trump, the man who during the campaign called the United States military a disaster, who said a private military school provided him with “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military” and who once told NBC's Chuck Todd that he got military advice by watching generals on TV shows, today praised the U.S military after the news broke that U. S. forces dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on an ISIS complex in Afghanistan.

"We are so proud of our military. It was another successful event....
We have the greatest military in the world."

But he wasn't always so complimentary when talking about the military or its leaders.

A small sampling.... 

["The generals don't know much about ISIS] because they're not winning."

"The generals have been reduced to rubble."

"I love war, in a certain way."

Mar-A-Lago's chocolate cake is to die for

Via Mother Jones:

Trump Brags About Eating the "Most Beautiful" Chocolate Cake
During Syrian Missile Strike Decision ... Then forgets which country he just bombed.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Last Saturday, less than three miles from the home of Miami Herald publisher Alexandra Villoch, crime reared its ugly head...and the paper's editors reacted predictably

Shortly after noon on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010, 20-year-old Michael Beatty was gunned down in broad daylight near NW 15 Avenue & 59th Street in Liberty City.

Beatty was standing outside a convenience store at that location when a Nissan Maxima pulled up and a masked man emerged holding a Mac-10. The man chased Beatty down and executed him.

Police say Beatty's murder was witnessed by dozens of bystanders, but more than six years after the crime, police have yet to find his killer.

Several Miami TV stations reported the murder.

But despite the cold-blooded nature of the Beatty's killing and the fact that the crime was captured on surveillance video, the Miami Herald ignored the story completely.

In 2012, Crimestoppers produced a video that examined Beatty's murder.

Three and half years after Michael Beatty's killing - in a post on this blog that examined the Herald's spotty, haphazard and sometimes non-existent coverage of crime in certain South Florida neighborhoods - I mentioned Beatty's murder, asking: "Would the Herald have ignored the story of Michael Beatty's killing had he been white and had his killer chased him through the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, spraying bullets from a Mac-10?"

A little more than three years after I asked that question, we finally have an answer.

On Saturday, just hours after being fired from a fitness club located at the "the upscale Shops at Merrick Park" in Coral Gables, the Herald reported "A popular personal trainer ... fatally shot one of his former co-workers and critically wounded another at the Equinox fitness center in Coral Gables on Saturday afternoon before killing himself."

Within a few hours of the shooting, Herald editors had mobilized a flying wedge of no fewer than eleven reporters and one photographer to cover the tragedy....a dozen more journalists than were assigned to cover Michael Beatty's murder. By Sunday, the Herald's newshounds had filed no fewer than eight stories on the shooting.

(By comparison, on April 11, 1986, when the Herald employed hundreds more journalists than it does today, the paper assigned about the same number of reporters to cover the bloody FBI shootout in South Dade that left two FBI agents dead and five agents wounded at the hands of two bank robbers who were also killed.)

A newsroom source tells me that a few Herald staffers wondered about Saturday's mass call out compared to responses to other shootings elsewhere in Miami-Dade.

Early fears of a mass shooting or hostage situation were quickly dispelled. Less than an hour after the shooting was reported "Coral Gables police said they secured the scene — that is, they were certain no mass shooter was on the loose — by 1:45 p.m.," the Herald reported.

Police early on declined to name the fitness club shooter or victims, but by late Saturday afternoon, the Herald - using unnamed witnesses - had identified both victims and the shooter. 

And while Michael Beatty's 2010 murder was ignored by Miami's paper of record, the Sunday morning Herald carried stories examining every angle of the Equinox shooting:

  • An overview of the shooting: "The 12:55 p.m. shooting shut down the upscale Shops at Merrick Park mall and scattered scores of scared shoppers and Equinox members onto the surrounding streets, many of them clad in exercise clothes and holding nothing but their workout towels."

  • A profile of one of the shooter's victims: “She was warm and caring, and she was an expert at guest service."

  • And a profile of the shooter: "The first thing people noticed about Abeku Wilson was his size."

  • So how do Herald editors decide which South Florida murders the paper will cover and which ones will be ignored? "You mean in comparison to black on black shootings in the 'hood? I think you already know the answer to that one. Upscale shopping mall, attractive white [victims.]" a Herald veteran responded when I asked if the shooting warranted all the resources deployed. 

    Fact: Miami Herald publisher Alexandra Villoch lives less than three miles from the scene of Saturday's shooting, as does a Herald editor who directed Saturday's coverage.

    Bottom line: I would love to be in the room when Herald editors explain to Michael Beatty's family why his death didn't deserve at least a fraction of the coverage that was afforded the victims of the Equinox shooting. 

    video 19226

    Friday, April 07, 2017

    A plea to Local 10's social media editor....

    ....please stop trying to scare the crap out of people with your asinine click bait!

    Sir, we live in South Florida which is also home to lots of wild animals.

    Some inhabited our peninsula before we arrived. Other came later.

    But here's a fact...not all wild animals are dangerous. Respect them and keep your distance and you'll be fine. Wild animals aren't dangerous unless they're threatened or lose their fear of humans. But for some reason you and your reporters never reveal this information when you report one of these stories.

    Alligators fall into this category. Wild 'gators become dangerous after humans encounter them and try to feed them. And when 'gators associate humans with food, then it's all over.

    So, headlines like this don't help the situation:

     No, Jeff, the only thing that scares me is rampant ignorance.

    And writing crap like this isn't very helpful, either: "Rhinoceros Iguanas can grow in size up to 54 inches, and while some are tame, others can be aggressive.

    "A bite from a Rhino Iguana can become infected and cause serious health issues."

    Perhaps you should have followed up by providing examples of people who have been bitten by rhino iguanas.  But then folks would start comparing your work to journalism.And then where would you be?

    By the way, I just checked with a Miami-based urban wildlife trapper and he assures me that a giant Rhino Iguana has never attacked anyone in South Florida. So, what's with the scare headline?

    As a matter of fact, rhino iguanas appear to make great pets and excellent breakfast companions.

    Thursday, April 06, 2017

    Don Rickles | May 8, 1926 - April 6, 2017

    Frank Sinatra tells a very funny Don Rickles story on the Johnny Carson show in 1976.

    Saturday, April 01, 2017

    'After just ten weeks, Trump teeters on the brink' ... and his supporters are just as dumb as ever

    Need proof that Trump supporters are as dumb as ever?

    Via CNN's New Day:

    "Trump voters give the president a grade after his first months in the White House."
    Alisyn Camerota: "Josh, what grade to you give President Trump?"

    Josh Youssef: "I give President Trump an 'A.' "

    Camerota: "Based on what? What accomplishments do you think he can hang his hat on."

    Josh: "I think it's premature to ask that question."

    Josh Youssef, by the way, is a New Hampshire birther who has posted a 22 minute video on You Tube titled, "Proof that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery - an impeachable felony."

    And right after Youssef grades the president, another genius supporter - Paulie DiBartolo - also gives Trump an "A."

    "What do you base that grade on?" Camerota asks.

    "We see that he's working with Ford Motor Company to build three plants in the United States and a major league investment in the United States as opposed to moving those jobs, or keeping those jobs in Mexico," DiBartolo answers. (Unsurprisingly, on Twitter Di Bartolo has 9 followers.)

    Actually, DiBartolo is just as dumb and ill-informed as most Trumpettes are. Why cite actual facts when you can just pull stuff out of your ass?

    According to CNBC, "Trump is taking credit for deals struck while Obama was president."
    Ford announced on Tuesday the company would invest $1.2 billion in three facilities in Michigan where it will build trucks and SUVs, and store electronic data.

    President Donald Trump took to Twitter to link the news to his efforts to increase manufacturing by automakers within the US.

    The problem? The investment announced on Tuesday actually stemmed from a 2015 deal negotiated between Ford and the United Auto Workers union.

    Under that 2015 collective bargaining agreement, Ford committed itself to investing $9 billion in US plants with the expectation of creating or retaining 8,500 jobs across a number of states, including Michigan.


    NBC News: After Just Ten Weeks, Trump Teeters on the Brink

    Need more proof of the stupidity of Trump supporters?

    Florida International University unveils 'texting and walking' lanes on campus

    Texting and walking is just as dangerous as it sounds. After years of research, FIU has come up with a solution.

    Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    Miami Herald continues to make staff cuts with no end in sight


    Updated 1x below main post.

    In October 1998, after the Miami Herald decided to kill off Tropic, the paper's popular Sunday magazine, the New York Times began a story on the magazine's demise with this sentence: "In the most painful of a series of recent belt-tightening moves, The Miami Herald's top editors said yesterday that the newspaper's Sunday feature magazine, Tropic, would close before year's end."

    In 2006, the Herald's parent company Knight Ridder, "after years of struggling to grow its readership, profits, and stock price...threw in the towel...[and] accepted an offer of $4.5 billion cash and stock from McClatchy (MNI), a newspaper publisher less than half Knight Ridder's size."

    Almost 19 years after the death of Tropic,  and 11 years after the sale of the Herald, they're no longer tightening the belt. Now they're chopping off body parts....something that's been going on for quite some time.


    Miami New Times, April 9, 2008: Miami Herald Cutting Staff via Buyouts

    Miami New Times, March 11, 2009: Miami Herald Cuts 175 Jobs, About 50 in Newsroom

    This morning, in an email to the newsroom, Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch announced the paper was letting go two more long-time staffers: "In the next few days, we'll be saying goodbye to two important contributors to the Miami Herald, both gifted storytellers: [dance critic] Jordan Levin and [columnist] Ana Veciana Suarez." 

    After reading Hirsch's email, one veteran Herald staffer commented, "Of course, it’s what they didn’t say that’s most interesting."

    For instance, the one thing Hirsch didn't mention in his email is that almost no managers or bosses are ever affected by these staff cuts. 

    But not all of those leaving the Herald, do so involuntarily. In January, Herald bosses announced that Audra Burch, one of the paper's most talented writers was leaving to join the New York Times.

    And last December, Herald investigative reporter Michael Sallah left the paper to become an investigative reporter at Gannett in Washington DC. At the Herald, Sallah was part of a team that looked into irregularities at the Bal Harbour Police Department and government corruption in Opa Locka. Sallah and a team of Herald staffers were finalists for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for their work on the Bal Harbour series.

    There are daily indications of the deep trouble now facing the Herald. The paper once employed a staff of more than 30 photographers statewide. But now the Herald and El Nuevo Herald share a combined staff of 7 photographers. A quick check of this morning's "A" section of the paper shows zero staff-produced photographs.

    But I did find this full-page ad.

    The irony here of course is, that on the same day the Herald publishes a full page ad asking its readers to #SupportRealNews, the managing editor sends out an email announcing the layoffs of two more staffers.


    UPDATE 1x at 7:00 pm, March 29: Two other Herald staffers sports columnist Linda Robertson and movie critic Rene Rodriguez were also slated to lose their jobs. But several sources tell me that Robertson will remain at the paper and write some sort of metro column. Rodriguez, I'm told, will become a writer for the business section. See emails below for details on Robertson and Rodriguez.

    But the Herald's problems are not just on the news gathering side. After writing this post, I heard from no fewer than three friends who still subscribe to the paper. One is a retired Herald staffer. All three tell me that getting the paper delivered is a hit and miss proposition. Says one: "Of course I haven't had my paper delivered since March 7th.. I've had a range of 'managers' email me and take calls.. I'm about to give up and cancel it... shouldn't be this difficult to drop a paper on a doorstep."


    From: Hirsch, Rick
    Date: Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 12:07 PM
    Subject: Linda Robertson taking on Miami Aggravations
    To: MIA Newsroom


    Linda Robertson, who has distinguished herself as a reporter and narrative writer in our Sports department for many years, is taking on a new beat.

    We're calling it Miami Aggravations, a fast-moving daily beat that designed to demystify, explain and shine light on the aspects of South Florida life that perplex and puzzle all of us who live here. It can range from why DOT closes I-95 lanes when the big game is letting out from Dolphin Stadium to the backstory on expensive valet parking cannibalizing the best places you'd normally want to park.

    We think this work will strike a nerve with our South Florida audience, driving interest and discussion about what we love and love to hate about living here. We think that Linda, who grew up in South Florida and has spent her journalism career reporting here, is especially well-suited to find the stories this beat demands.

    But to do this well, Linda will need your help. She'll be soliciting ideas from the staff as well as from South Floridians at large as she digs in.

    Linda will begin this new assignment on April 3, reporting to Jay Ducassi.

    Rick and Mindy

    Rick Hirsch
    Managing Editor

    Note to Linda Robertson: Here's an idea for your first column: After more than 100 years in business, why can't the Miami Herald figure out how to get papers delivered on time, AND ON A DAILY BASIS to its loyal subscribers??? How that's for aggravation!


    From: Hirsch, Rick
    Date: Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 12:08 PM
    Subject: Rene Rodriguez to cover real estate
    To: MIA Newsroom


    Starting April 3, Rene Rodriguez will become our full-time real estate reporter on the business desk, filling the position that opened when Nick Nehamas moved to the investigative team.

    Rene's a good match for this task, with a reporting background that began on the City Desk (writing obits and covering breaking police news), and has included, in addition to film, covering arts and the business of entertainment for the Business Desk. He's a smooth writer and a fast study.

    In looking to fill this job, we wanted someone who reported aggressively and could deliver exclusive, news-breaking reporting on a beat that affects us all, from renter to homeowner to high-end condo gawker. We think Rene will give us the combination of enterprise and quick-hit coverage that enlightens readers and keeps them coming back for more.

    The change in Rene's assignment obviously means that he will no longer be working as a film critic. That decision is one of several coverage shifts we've made to reflect what our audience is telling us about the news they value most. Rene has had a remarkable run as a critic, and there may be times when we'll call on his expertise and sourcing to inform our coverage of the movie and entertainment industry in South Florida.

    Rene will be closing out some film related work next week before starting his new beat a week from Monday. He will report to Jane Wooldridge.

    Rick and Mindy

    Rick Hirsch
    Managing Editor

    Monday, March 27, 2017

    My objective and unbiased review of this year's Ultra Music Festival

    Photo by George Martinez/Miami New Times

    Day Two of the Ultra Music Festival took place at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami on Saturday.

    If you're like me and are unfamiliar with Ultra...the best way I can describe it is it's like Woodstock for Millennials. Except Woodstock had a better vibe.

    Thousands showed up for the three days of sold-out Ultra shows. But not all Miamians were thrilled to see the event come to town.

    “It’s a great event for the city, but not so much if you work downtown. I wish they had a better venue,” architect Bernard Zyscovich told the Miami Herald.

    Raul Guerrero, a resident of the Loft 2 condo tower on Northeast Second Avenue told the Herald, “It’s five weeks of disruption for everyone who lives for blocks around it.”

    But my curiosity got the best of me. So I punched up a live stream of the show on YouTube.

    I was underwhelmed to say the least.

    I heard a lot of what sounded like noise, but not much that sounded like what we used to call "music."

    If you've ever listened to a garbage truck empty one dumpster after another in a South Beach alley at 6:30 in the morning then you've experienced Ultra. 

    (Jose Duran of Miami New Times reports that Ultra shipped a free pair of earplugs to everyone who purchased a ticket this year. Isn't that like a restaurant handing out free bottles of Imodium to patrons as they pay their bill?)

    One song that did catch my attention was "Porcelain" by enjoyment enhanced by the fact that I didn't have to stand in a driving rainstorm to hear it.")

    (And I did enjoy this moment from last year's festival.)

    I'm not sure who listens to this stuff. Last year a Miami Herald writer penned an obit for EDM...electronic dance music.
    “EDM is over — it’s like disco,” says Vanessa Menkes, former head of communications for the now disbanded Opium Group, whose clubs including Mansion and Set dominated South Beach nightlife for years. “In 2005, you could open your doors on a random Saturday night and make $150,000. Those days are not coming back.”
    Fans like Annie Tomlinson, 22, an ardent Ultra attendee when she could get a one-day ticket for around $100, are opting out. She last went to the festival in 2013, though she says her peak experience was the year before.

    “I still like the music,” Tomlinson says. “But it’s not worth it for the money anymore. It’s so hyped up and I’ve already experienced it.
    After watching some of the acts on YouTube last night, I tried to broaden my understanding of the genre by reading this review of a Day Two performance by Miami New Times' Jose Duran:
    "Unlike the Carl Cox stage, the Spider provided virtually no shield from the rain. However, techno fans didn't let that stop them from enjoying Dubfire's set. The Iranian DJ's music was the perfect sound track for the apocalyptic setting that included plenty of standing water even after the skies cleared. And instead of avoiding the muddy mess, the audience kept stomping to the beat. The flames seemed to go into overdrive, which was a welcome surprise thanks to the chill that hung in the air"
    Jose's an excellent writer, but his review left me with more questions than answers.

    For instance, "What's the deal with all the flags?" a curmudgeonly Andy Rooney-like voice keeps asking inside my head.

    Photo by Matias Ocner/Miami Herald

    So, if it's OK with you, Jose, I'm gonna stick with the old stuff....the really old stuff. 

    Did you see anything like this Saturday night? A 1960s live performance by Jerry Lee Lewis on British TV? Look at the audience interaction with Lewis. 

    And as I watched Saturday night's show, I didn't see any saxophone solos performed on top of a piano!  (When I showed both the Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard videos to a 25-year-old woman who attended the Friday Ultra show, her immediate reaction was, "That's just like Ultra, right there!")

    OK, so this Chuck Berry performance is lip-synced....but the kids really get into it just like at Ultra.

    Friday, March 24, 2017

    Are we sick of winning yet?

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Sun Sentinel editorial board says Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's behavior is "bizarre," "reckless" and "juvenile. "

    It's been almost two years since veteran political reporter Michael Putney talked about Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's "bright political future."

    Later that same year - as Levine was running for a second term - he again appeared on Putney's show... and told a bunch of lies.

    A few months after winning a second term as mayor, Levine made headlines locally when he videotaped himself harassing a Fed Ex driver for double parking on Miami Beach.  Levine posted the video on You Tube that showed him confronting the driver.

    I wrote about the incident on this blog and noted that Levine came off looking like a ninny as he ran after the driver. I also posted Levine's video. But for some reason Levine has made the video "private." (As is often the case...the Internet never forgets and the video still exists elsewhere ... I've posted it above.)

    Why did Levine remove the video? Perhaps it's because he's mulling a possible run for Governor of Florida and would rather that Florida voters not see what happens when he becomes unhinged....which has been happening a lot, lately. And more people are starting to notice.

    That bright political future that Putney spoke of in the summer of 2015 is beginning to dim somewhat. 

    In an editorial posted last night, the Sun Sentinel called Levine's recent behavior "bizarre," and "reckless." And referring to Levine's habit of blocking people on social media who don't agree with him, the Sun Sentinel called Levine's behavior "juvenile. "

    "Levine is the mayor of a metropolitan city. Blocking people from seeing what he's saying in the social sphere is alarming behavior, especially for someone who wants to lead Florida," the Sun Sentinel's editorial board concluded. The editorial went on to compare Levine with another thin-skinned bully: Donald Trump:
    "With the gubernatorial field beginning to take shape, Democrats should be asking themselves whether they really want a nominee whose temperament draws comparisons to that of President Donald Trump."

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Marty Merzer's tribute to newspaperman Jimmy Breslin

    "Journalists have graduate degrees, wear clean suits and sip cappuccino at the Starbucks. Newspapermen generally attended high school, sometimes wear clean shirts, especially on Mondays, and, not so long ago, stashed booze in their desks." -Martin Merzer, Miami Herald, Aug. 22, 2000.


    Retired Miami Herald staff writer Marty Merzer's tribute to newspaperman Jimmy Breslin:
    By Marty Merzer

    New York newspaperman Jimmy Breslin died today at age 88. He was my professional idol and role model. Not that I placed myself in his league, just that...I strived to do so.

    I've always tried to emphasize this to newbies: If you want to be a good newspaper writer, you must read good newspaper writing. And, boy, did I.

    Growing up in New York City in the 1960s, I was blessed to be surrounded in print by some of the best newspaper writers ever to pound typewriters and yell, "Copy!" Among them: Pete Hamill, Jack Newfield, Nora Ephron, Red Smith, Dick Schaap, Tom Wolfe, Gail Sheehy and, chief among them, Jimmy Breslin.

    Later in life, I got to know Hamill and Breslin a bit, but that wasn't as important as...hearing their voices as I wrote, and employing what I learned from reading their work.

    That meant finding an original angle, even if that required looking along the edges of an event. Noticing and employing telling detail. Using plain language in a...voice...that's appealing, welcoming, but doesn't get in the way.

    Breslin and Hamill and the others. They were enormous influences on my life, and consequently on the lives of my family. I thank them for that.

    Below [this post] are some of Breslin's best-known pieces. Look at the detail, the storytelling. Sense the humanity, the empathy. Listen to the voice. But also make no mistake about it - every one of his pieces was worth your time. He never bagged a story or a column. He knew that his name would be atop it and that carried real responsibility. (That's another thing I try to tell newbies: Never, ever bag a story. For god sakes, your name is on it.)

    I'll never forget Jimmy Breslin. My fingers never will stop hearing his voice.


    Breslin: Digging JFK grave was his honor

    Breslin: A Death in Emergency Room One

    Breslin: A Matter of life or death

    New York Times: Jimmy Breslin, Legendary New York City Newspaper Columnist, Dies at 88


    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Chuck Berry | October 18, 1926 - March 18, 2017

    Chuck Berry - vocals, guitars
    Lafayette Leake - piano
    Willie Dixon - bass
    Fred Below - drums

    Above personnel on Johnny B. Goode, Sweet Little Sixteen and Rock and Roll Music.

    Gator on the golf course? No problem!

    ORLANDO, Fla. – It looked like a risky maneuver, but Cody Gribble barely even blinked.

    Gribble was in the midst of a tough round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he snuck up on a gator sunning itself just left of the sixth fairway at Bay Hill. With a swift thwack on the tail, Gribble startled the gator and then nonchalantly watched it jump back into the water lining the hole.

    “The gator looked like he needed some exercise,” Gribble said after closing out a 5-over 77. “I guess I was trying to get some adrenaline going somehow, but I wasn’t really afraid of it.”

    Friday, March 17, 2017

    Here's why it's not a good idea to barge into a bank waving a gun....

    ....Because there might be a former deputy sheriff working as a security guard who actually knows how to use a gun.


    A bank security guard in Illinois who fatally shot an armed would-be robber will not face charges, authorities said Tuesday.

    Brian Harrison acted heroically, authorities say, as he pulled his weapon and fired repeatedly at suspect Laurence Turner at the Alpine Bank in Rockford on Jan. 20. The dramatic incident was caught on surveillance video. [via New York Daily News}

    Laurence Turner waves gun inside the Alpine Bank
    in Rockford, Illinois. (Scroll to 4:30 on the video
    to see this angle.)

    Turner falls to floor after being shot dead by former
    deputy sheriff Brian Harrison.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    Monday, March 13, 2017

    Is your microwave watching you? Let's check with the White House experts

    I said, “Be careful, his bow tie is really a camera.”
    "America" —Simon & Garfunkel.





    Washington Post, March, 13, 2017.


    Your mid-afternoon time waster

    Olly the Jack Russell Terrier goes nuts at a dog agility contest.

    Friday, March 10, 2017

    Your lunch hour time waster

    Today's lunch hour time waster is about South Korea and kids.

    Professor Robert Kelly was speaking with the BBC [via Skype] about the ousting of South Korea's president when his office door opens up and a toddler stomps in jovially and taps dad on the arm, eager to play. "I think one of your children's just walked in," the BBC interviewer says, stifling a laugh.

    As Kelly tries to nudge the child away with a swipe of the arm, a second child pops into the room. It's an infant sibling obliviously scooting through the door on a rolling walker. "Pardon me, pardon me," Kelly says, while closing his eyes in frustration, clearly conflicted between the urge to laugh or cry. "My apologies."


    Wednesday, March 08, 2017

    Your lunch hour time waster

    Due to numerous requests, the once wildly popular Random Pixels feature known as the Lunch Hour Time Waster returns today with this video of a kitten playing with a dog's tail.

    Saturday, March 04, 2017

    'If he thinks his phones were tapped, then he believes we know everything.'


    Former Miami Herald senior writer Marty Merzer analyzes the latest news out of Mar-a-Lago this morning....

    Via The Minority President Report:
    He’s going down, and in the not-too-distant future. Though the technological details are more modern, this is all very Nixonian. The patterns - denial, then weak and partial actions in failed attempts to quell the scandal, then total psychosis ahead of capitulation - are precisely the same. [Emphasis added]

    - Beginning at 6:26 a.m. today and continuing throughout the early morning, the Minority President posted five six seven bizarre - even by his standards - tweets. The activity was clearly manic.

    - As you read the rest of this, keep in mind that the Minority President has a long history of accusing others of doing precisely what he has done. Psychologists call it “projection.” It's the "So's your mother" form of debate.

    - In this morning’s series of tweets, the Minority President accused President Obama of undermining “the very sacred election process.” He said: “This is Nixon/Watergate.” These are precisely the accusations and comparisons being made about the Minority President and the scandal that is closing in on him.

    - He accused Obama of wiretapping him at Trump Tower. (Point of fact: No president can order a wiretap.) He said: “This is McCarthyism!” Again, that’s precisely a charge that has been leveled against him. In addition, one of the Minority President’s early and most influential mentors was the notorious Roy Cohn, who served as McCarthy’s chief counsel during the infamous Army-McCarthy hearings.

    Click here to continue reading.


    And now....let's go live to Mar-a-Lago ....

    Sunday, February 26, 2017

    Jerry Lee Lewis -Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On (Live 1964)

    Jerry Lee Lewis performing live in 1964 in the UK on the TV show, "Don't Knock the Rock."

    Friday, February 24, 2017

    Commander who organized bin Laden raid says Trump’s anti-media comments are the 'greatest threat to democracy'

    Via The Washington Post:
    William H. McRaven, a retired four-star admiral and former Navy SEAL, defended journalists this week, calling President Trump’s denunciation of the media as “the enemy of the American people” the “greatest threat to democracy” he’s seen in his lifetime.

    That’s coming from a man who’s seen major threats to democracy.

    McRaven, who was commander of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, organized and oversaw the highly risky operation that killed Osama bin Laden almost six years ago. The admiral from Texas had tapped a special unit of Navy SEALs to carry out the May 2011 raid on the elusive terrorist’s hideout, a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

    Two days after making those remarks, McRaven had this to say on his blog on the University of Texas website:
    In my sixty years, most of the serious threats to our nation have come from the outside: the Cold War, the Vietnam War, terrorism and the wars that followed. While at times, these external pressures encouraged some within our government to adopt a barricade mentality – hiding information from the public, acting secretly outside the bounds of the law, and encouraging behavior that had an extralegal feel to it – never has the government openly challenged the idea of a free press.

    Each of us in government swears an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." The first amendment to that constitution assures freedom of speech and of the press.

    The news media have not always been kind to me. However, I can tell you – as someone who has been to 90 countries and spoken to the press in almost all of them – the United States has the finest press corps in the world, bar none.
    But what makes journalism so essential to our democracy is that – when done right – it holds all of us accountable, to our country, to its ideals, and to each other. As an Admiral, and now as a Chancellor, I haven’t always enjoyed being asked tough questions. But being held accountable by the press has only made me and the organizations I lead better.

    Just as it has made America better.

    My message to our aspiring journalists, and journalists everywhere: We need you more than ever.

    In 2014 McRaven delivered an extraordinary commencement speech at the University of Texas.

    He ended his speech with this advice for the graduates:
    Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone.

    Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.

    And what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.


    Washington Post, May 4, 2011: Adm. William McRaven: The terrorist hunter on whose shoulders Osama bin Laden raid rested

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    Mia the beagle does whatever the hell she wants

    Mia, an easily-distracted beagle, didn't win the agility competition at the Westminster Dog Show earlier this month, but she did win a lot of hearts.

    Monday, February 20, 2017

    What has Donald Trump done for veterans?

    Donald Trump placed planters in front of his Fifth Avenue building
    to discourage veterans - some disabled war vets - from setting up pushcarts.
    (via Google Maps, August 2013)
    Click image to enlarge.

    Last Friday, Local 10 News sent a reporter to Palm Beach County to cover the weekend visit - his third weekend in a row - of Donald Trump.

    The reporter managed to get some some interesting sound bites from the dozens of Trump loyalists who showed up to demonstrate their support.

    One of the supporters, Chris Nick, choked back tears as he told the reporter that Trump was "a good man."

    "I just appreciate what he's doing for the veterans," said Nick.

    I'm sure if the reporter had asked Nick just exactly what it was that Trump had done for "the veterans," he would have struggled to answer.

    The reality is that Trump has done nothing for "the veterans."

    In May of last year — after being squeezed by Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold — Trump announced he'd given away money to veterans groups that he'd raised four months before.
    On Tuesday [May 31], Donald Trump announced that he'd given away the last of the $5.6 million that he raised four months ago, at a benefit for veterans' causes in Iowa. In a bitter, combative press conference, Trump made clear that he'd been pressured into giving up these details by the news media, including The Washington Post.


    How many new donations were announced on Tuesday?

    By The Post's count, 18 new gifts, totaling about $1.5 million.

    In each case, Trump was giving away other people's money. Other donors, both large and small, had entrusted this money to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, on the understanding that Trump would then distribute it to veterans.

    On the same day the Post published its story, the New York Times reported:
    [Trump] called a news conference ostensibly to answer questions about his fund-raising for charities that benefit military veterans. But Donald J. Trump instead spent most of his time on live television Tuesday berating the journalists covering his presidential campaign in unusually vitriolic and personal terms.

    “You’re a sleaze,” he told a reporter for ABC.

    “You’re a real beauty,” he told a reporter for CNN, snidely denigrating the man’s competence.

    For 40 minutes, Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, assailed those reporting on his candidacy with a level of venom rarely seen at all, let alone in public, from the standard-bearer of a major political party. Then he warned that a Trump White House would feature more of the same.

    Historians reached back to the Nixon administration, with its reporter-stocked enemies list, for a fair comparison. Other scholars and political analysts suggested that Mr. Trump failed to appreciate the role journalists play in scrutinizing candidates as surrogates for the public, or drew connections to his denunciations of other adversaries and critics — like a federal judge in a case where Mr. Trump is being sued, or the Republican governor of New Mexico, whom Mr. Trump denigrated while campaigning in her state last week.

    Let's go over that again: "Mr. Trump...assailed those reporting on his candidacy with a level of venom rarely seen at all, let alone in public."

    Hmmm...sounds familiar, doesn't it?

    But back to Trump and the vets....not all veterans are as gullible and ill-informed as the veteran interviewed in Palm Beach County last week.

    With minimal effort and an Internet connection, Chris Nick would have learned that Trump hasn't done sh*t for veterans.

    In 2015, the New York Daily News reported that Trump had complained on several occasions that veterans were ruining "the ambiance of Fifth Ave. — the address of his gleaming Trump Tower headquarters — was being wrecked by peddlers, including some he accused of only posing as vets."
    “While disabled veterans should be given every opportunity to earn a living, is it fair to do so to the detriment of the city as a whole or its tax paying citizens and businesses?” Trump wrote in a 1991 letter to John Dearie, then-chairman of the state Assembly’s Committee on Cities.

    In its story, the News noted that "New York’s original peddling exceptions for veterans date back to 1894 — created to give those disabled during the Civil War a chance to support themselves."

    In May 2016, one of the New York City vets, former Marine Dan Rossi, a disabled veteran and longtime New York City street vendor, told Politico, "[Trump has] done more damage to the disabled veterans in this city than any other man.”


    Forbes: When It Comes To Veterans, Donald Trump's Rhetoric Is Much More Generous Than His Giving Record