Two Days in Birmingham

Ten months after the presidential election, it’s time to start talking politics again. It’s on a much less grand scale. However, some will argue it may be of equal political importance.

That‘s what took me to Birmingham, Alabama.

Birmingham-Alabama-Attorneys

When Jeff Sessions became the U.S. attorney general, he vacated his Alabama senate seat. That state’s attorney general, Luther Strange, was appointed to fill it – albeit temporarily. This was his chance to campaign to keep it. He wound up in a Republican runoff with the state’s former Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore – infamous for his battles over the public displays of the Ten Commandments.

Strange’s quest to continue to serve beyond the end of the year was denied by Moore.  Alabamans gave Moore a 10-percentage-point victory – even as President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence backed Strange. Below is a shot of Strange delivering his concession speech.

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Judge Moore moves on now to face Democrat – and former U.S. attorney Doug Jones who is known for the civil rights prosecution of the people behind a deadly Alabama church bombing. Early handicapping has Moore with a slight lead.

Look for a lot of money to be spent on this race – from inside and outside Alabama. Remember…the the U.S. Senate is majority Republican – but only by a 52-48 margin. If Democrats can steal this seat…a shift in chamber control is well within reach.

As I do at every stop, I try to find some time to look around. Birmingham is a sprawling city with a noticeable commercial, government and university presence. It’s also steeped in civil rights history (e.g. MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail). But all that is modern does surround some gems like this theater downtown.

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Needless to say — wherever you go — there is some trace of ‘Bama…or…Auburn…or even the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Thank goodness I didn’t wear any Clemson orange. That would NOT have gone over well.

Needless to say, this race garnering national attention is a signal that the first political dominoes of the 2018 mid-term election season are teetering.

Will they stand or fall?  Stay tuned.

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All The News…That’s FAKE!

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My colleagues at the Associated Press have started doing something pretty cool that our President has made a name for.

They have started a feature called ‘NOT REAL NEWS’ that highlights stories — actually published and reported — that aren’t true.  Not at all.  It’s actually interesting to see what falsehoods make it through the ‘truth filter’.

Here are some of the ‘fake news’ stories that crossed the wires this week:

NOT REAL: Florida Governor Rick Scott Now Listed As ‘Critical’ After Bizarre Hurricane Cleanup Accident

THE FACTS: The Last Line of Defense, a well-known producer of hoax stories, has claimed in a series of articles that Scott was severely hurt when a ceramic roof tile hit him in the head Monday during the cleanup following Hurricane Irma. Scott has been crisscrossing Florida surveying damage and checking in on relief efforts in the days since the storm hit and was not injured.

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NOT REAL: Vladimir Putin donates $5 million dollars to Houston Hurricane Harvey victims

THE FACTS: While many well-known figures opened their wallets to make sizable contributions to relief efforts in Texas, the Russian president wasn’t one of them. A site made up to look like a news outlet claims Putin also called on “other individuals, organizations and also countries” to follow his lead in donating money. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells the AP he’s not aware of the leader making any such donation.

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NOT REAL: Tony Romo OUT 4-6 Weeks After Suffering Sore Throat In Broadcasting Debut

THE FACTS: The former Cowboys quarterback is scheduled to be in the CBS broadcast booth Sunday in New Orleans when the New England Patriots take on the Saints. A prank story from Daily Snark claimed Romo would be replaced by a young broadcaster named Pak Brescott. The site appears to be ribbing Romo, who lost his job to rookie Dak Prescott last year after getting injured in the preseason.

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NOT REAL: World’s most popular candy to be removed from shelves by October 2017!

THE FACTS: Fans of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups shouldn’t be concerned about the sweet and salty snack disappearing just before Halloween despite a story from Breaking News 365 that claims the candy is being discontinued. Hershey’s, which owns the Reese’s brand, tells the AP that people can rest assured that “the only people removing Reese’s products from shelves are consumers, who are taking them home to eat.”

Eclipse 2017

Another gem of a post from my dear wife, Karen. Well done, babe!

The KReative Corner

The solar eclipse of 2017 provided a moment for many of us to step away from the “craziness” of life and stand in awe of its wonder. However, I knew there would be those that would seize the opportunity to capitalize on this historic day.

During a discussion with my daughter, I said I wouldn’t be surprised if solar glasses used to view the eclipse would make its way to the online market, and I wasn’t disappointed !

Here’s a pair I found right here.   As of this posting, they are still available. C’mon Man!!

Eclipse 2017

I know of at least one person that may have been interested,  because after all who doesn’t love a great deal?

duh.png photo courtesy of Tim Mann of WSJ

No words needed!

until next time . . .

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Everybody Into the ‘Pool’

After 31 years of broadcasting, I can add another (recurring) title to my resume:

Pool Reporter.

During President Trump’s 17-day “working vacation” — split between Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ; Trump Tower in New York City and the White House — I got to be in the rotation to be the radio reporter on the ground that fed information to all the other radio outlets.  It’s exhausting..yet interesting at the same time.

August 8th was my first ever ‘pool’ day.  That was the day — during what was to be a brief photo opportunity for the President and his advisors to discuss America’s opioid crisis — when a fellow pool reporter fired off a question about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s threat to fire missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam.

As you know by now..this was President Trump’s response.

I was standing across the table and to the President’s right when he said it.  Not many people were discussing opioids after that.

My second day as pool reporter — a lot less eventful.  I was in New York City on August 14th…but the President was not for most of the day.  He was in D.C. doing some level of damage control..after not condemning specific hate groups for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, VA the weekend prior.   The President strengthened his condemnation on Monday..but only after sound criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

My third and final pool-reporting day was Thursday the 17th..back out near Bedminster.   This was two days following what some have described as his Trump Tower “meltdown” with the media.  He did not speak to the media at all on his final day..and understandably so.

But some of his fellow Republicans talked about him.

They include South Carolina Republican senator Tim Scott who said the President lacked the “moral authority” his office requires.  Senator Scott’s comment to VICE News was:

“I’m not going to defend the indefensible…[Trump’s] comments on Monday were strong. His comments on Tuesday started erasing the comments that were strong. What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happened. There’s no question about that.”

Tennessee GOP senator Bob Corker — in his comments below (courtesy of the Associated Press) — went further.

The ouster of White House Strategist Steve Bannon on Friday (8/18) only adds to the comparison that some have made dubbing this White House — ‘Survivor: D.C. Swamp’.

As exhausting and — at times — unpredictable as it was, I enjoyed my pool reporter experience.  It does still leave me to wonder how the White House Press Corps in Washington does this day after day…

After day…

After day.

Does The President Realize What He’s Saying?

I’m a bit annoyed.

I listened to President Trump this week as he spoke on Long Island, NY.  He was there to discuss what he calls an administration priority — combatting gang violence using the scourge of the violent gang, MS-13, as the example.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am all for ridding people of the fear and violence this gang brings…and has brought to Long Island.  Several teens have been brutally murdered by members of the gang.

At one point during the President’s speech, he strayed onto the topic of another crime: human trafficking.  it is a horrible act.   But what the president said about it is what troubles me…and makes me wonder if President Trump really has a grasp on the atrocities of America’s history.

Here’s what he said:

https://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?c4678677

Excuse me..

At its core..what do you think SLAVERY was?  Africans being brought across an ocean against their will to endure a life of servitude.   That was about as bad as it got.

There are times I wonder if there is anyone in the White House who can..or will..let Mr. Trump know whether what he’s saying is either factual or..purely and simply..makes sense.

Unfortunately, it has become — to use the golf term — par for the course for this administration.

Is it too much to ask to have the so-called “leader of the free world” ditch the bravado and be the diplomat that we need him to be — not only abroad but at home as well?

Maybe I’m asking too much.

 

 

TBT: Cereal Edition

A lot of my “wit and wisdom” comes quite honestly from the person I like to think is the smarter of the two of us in my marriage — my wife Karen. Here is her latest offering from her blog, The KReative Corner. I think the link within may bring back some memories for you. It did for me. If you get a moment..take a look through some of her other offerings. You may hooked into following. Enjoy!

The KReative Corner

The recent Pop culture trend seems to center around the “Reboot” a revival of things from days gone by – a blast from the past !  You see this in fashion, TV shows and even music.  So, on this #TBT I submit a treasure chest of sugary goodies that is breakfast cereal.

A recent conversation with “hubby” prompted a google search for a cereal I used to see on the shelf of our grocery store but didn’t remember who made it.  He was off to get his tablet and scored this.

Enjoy this trip down memory lane.

. . .until next time.

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When Did We Lose Total Control?

So far…I’ve resisted using this space as a sounding board for the — shall we say — strangeness coming out of the White House.

That ends now.

What in the blue hell is going on??!!

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We are not long past 100 days of the Donald Trump presidency and what we’ve seen are a laundry list of executive orders, a massive fight between the parties on several issues, bombshell firings, a press secretary hiding in the bushes and more Trump tweets than we care to see.

Oh..and let’s not forget — very little actual governing.

The recent dismissal of James Comey as director of the FBI sent shock waves through Washington.  So much so that even members of the president’s own party were left scratching their heads.    The White House isn’t even on the same page about it.   The president’s communications staff told the press that the firing came on a recommendation from the Justice Department.  Yet, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, President Trump said — recommendation or no — he was going to fire Comey anyway.

Which is it?

It’s because Comey didn’t throw himself on the sword for the president during a congressional hearing.  President Trump says Comey told him three times that the president was not under investigation for Russian connections.  One of those times was reportedly during a dinner..when the question was asked of Comey directly.  That’s seen as inappropriate contact on an investigative matter.

It so far stands to reason that if you dare cross this president..bad things will come to you — even if you happen to be the guy (Comey) who was in charge of the probe into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.  However, a tweet from Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman during the Obama Administration may be a harbinger of things to come.

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As my wife says…using improper English for emphasis:  “It only gets ‘gooder’ from here.”

And the president’s cabinet is feeling a lot of the backlash.  Case in point: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ attempt to deliver the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Daytona Beach.

The image of the building below has long been a hallmark of a strong and stable republic.

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If we are not careful..the image we will present to the world, thanks to the doings of one man, will forever tarnish that perception.  It’s not what America needs in a very uncertain world.