Archive for September, 2016

“All That Rises”

September 27, 2016


After forty eventful years in broadcasting and what we thought was an early retirement, Eileen and I moved to Youngstown, Ohio in 1998, right after we helped the Toledo Irish-American Club join with the Lucas County Ancient Order of Hibernians to bring in The Wolftones – Ireland’s biggest rebel group. It was wall to wall.

Youngstown is Flint, Michigan without the glamour.

As the car industry collapsed in Michigan, steel mills had already closed their gates in Youngstown, crushed by the forces of unrestrained, steadily increasing overseas competitors. Jobs had flown across the Pacific to the shores of Japan.

In Mahoning County, Youngstown pumps water from Meander Reservoir. Locally it’s often said that’s where old gangsters dumped their dead. While we were there, the water was a peculiar, dusky color and tasted like watermelon. City fathers swore it was algae.

There’s little consolation in consolidation. It was the beginning days of extensive corporate expansion. A broadcast outfit called Gocom Communications had purchased WKBN-TV, the big #1 CBS Television affiliate, and wanted to add five radio stations to Youngstown holdings. Their bank made a multi- million-dollar loan conditioned on my involvement as Vice President/General Manager to assemble and operate the radio group.

Necessitated by circumstance, I ran the five new properties acquired from separate former ownership through the end of the year, faithfully combining facilities, compressing logistics and sacrificing dozens of long time broadcast employees upon the altar of corporate efficiency. Thinning the herd. When I finally admitted to myself that I had become much more a Chief Executioner than Chief Executive, I left the radio business. Bob Dylan was right. Times were changing.

Youngstown was back in the news last week when Donald Trump’s Mahoning County campaign chair, Kathy Miller, announced there was no racism in America until Barack Obama was elected President. Elaborating on the subject, Ms. Miller proclaimed to the press, “If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your fault. You’ve had every opportunity. It was given to you.” Miller added, “You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages.” Miller also called the “Black Lives Matter” movement “a stupid waste of time” and said lower voter turnout among African Americans could be related to “the way they’re raised”.

Youngstown is a traditional Democratic stronghold. After decades of economic decline, it is now ground zero for disaffected white, working-class voters who are drawn to Donald Trump’s cynically hollow, utterly implausible promise to “bring back jobs.”

Before the primaries, some 6,000 Democrats in Youngstown switched party affiliation to Republican in order to vote for Trump, seeking remedy from a raging renegade and bitterly blaming all but themselves for sustained misfortune.

As well as chairing the Trump campaign in Youngstown, Kathy Miller was also an official Ohio elector to the Electoral College for Donald J. Trump. Backlash from Kathy’s comments has forced her resignation from both positions. Nonetheless, she represents a sad, resentful segment of our society willing to believe the brags and boasts of a bellicose bully offering fast facts, tough talk and easy answers.

In 1998 there was a wretched resonance in the air. I first saw it in Flint, then Toledo and finally Youngstown. It echoed in empty bars surrounding shuttered plants. It crowded into long lines at the unemployment office. It flashed and death danced in the eyes of abandoned factory workers resolutely pondering their unexpected fate and silently wondering without hopeful heart, “What happened to mine?” Often left unexplored was, “What can I do about it?” Personal initiative can be unfortunately uncommon.

In these troubled times so much farther down the road, perhaps Trump was inevitable. But beware. Highest reward can never be found in the lowest common denominator.

Democracy is not automatic, nor does success in any form arrive without adequate preparation, perseverance and patience. A stark reality not yet accepted by many is that yesterday’s jobs are not tomorrow’s answers. They are gone for good. Opportunities abound, but only for those willing to apply themselves and engage what lies ahead with determined dedication.

For every position eliminated by foreign competition, three are being lost to technology. This ratio is about to explode.

Whatever their occupation, workers need to begin learning how to add value that complements soft-powered automation. This is the future.

How to fairly and equitably distribute the product of such modern magic remains to be resolved. This is the new politics.

Upward motion can drive us all. And unite.

“All that rises must converge”. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1941)



September 18, 2016


You may have missed it.

In early September, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that Wells Fargo employees, facing pressure to meet unrealistic sales quotas, opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts for customers who never asked for them.

Almost immediately, the bank agreed to pay $185 million in fines for these illegal acts in attempting to defraud its customers. 5,300 employees in connection with the scandal were fired.

Their boss, 56 year-old Senior Vice President and Head of Community Banking, Carrie Tolstedt, has submitted her resignation. For diligent efforts on behalf of Wells Fargo, Ms. Tolstedt will receive a severance package totaling $125 million.

In announcing her separation from the company, Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer, John Stumpf, called Ms. Tolstedt, “a role model for responsible leadership” and “a standard bearer of our culture.”

Got that kids?

A role model.

Donald Trump has promised to do away with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as one of the first acts of his new administration.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau back when she was still a Professor at Harvard Law School in 2007. She thought it would be a good start in climbing out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Trump doesn’t like Senator Warren either. He calls her, “Pocahontas.”

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of this current election cycle is the stunning prioritizing of form over substance, packaging over contents, tripe over truth.

As the First Presidential Debate is scheduled for next Monday, let’s see if Donald Trump can go one on one with Hillary and deal with real issues without displaying his fraidycat essence.

“Fraidycat.” That’s the word (it’s even in Merriam-Webster) Michael Moore wrote me in November of 1998 describing Donald Trump’s persona when they appeared together on a New York TV show. Trump had to be assured by Michael that Moore wouldn’t “go after him,” threatening to leave the studio without that understanding established. Mike amiably complied. Donald calmed down.

We’ve seen a whole lot of that fraidycat recently.

Flint Pastor Faith Green Timmons backed Trump down last week in one swift move, cutting him off in front of her entire congregation with a single hand grab as Donald was reaching mid-bellow. He instantly looked like a whipped weasel, but was much braver the following day, being safely away and out of reach when he called Reverent Timmons, “a nervous mess” on Fox & Friends.

In visiting the Mexican President on August 31st, Trump choked and never mentioned “The Wall” or “Who will pay for it?” until later that same day securely across the border in Phoenix, when he also implied President Enrique Pena Nieto lied in stating the Trumpster had been functionally told, “No way, Jose!” in opening comments by Nieto about border building. Donald also took the occasion on home turf to unleash a xenophobic tirade before such Latino antagonists as Maricopa County Sheriff Joe “Make ‘Em Wear Pink” Arpaio, just found guilty of contempt of court by a U.S. District judge and awaiting criminal prosecution.

Then we witnessed Trump abruptly refusing questions after staging a phony press conference last Friday in Washington. That’s when he solemnly declared that Barack Obama WAS born in America. But he replaced one fib with another, declaring Hillary Clinton was the one who started the “Birther” movement in the first place. He then scurried from reporters like a frightened ferret. I’m almost out of rodent references.

You can count on it. When push comes to shove, Donald scoots.

But it’s time to forget all this election business for a while and settle down with a good book.

Here comes the third annual Authors Faire from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday – this year taking place at the Oakhurst Community Center. Come and meet the authors, purchase signed copies of books and learn about writing in today’s publishing industry. A number of local businesses have donated raffle prizes. Food will be available for lunch.

I’ll be on the scene peddling “Local DJ” – “A Rock & Roll History.”

“Of all who had a major influence on me while growing up in the Midwest, none matched the audaciousness, tenacity and gonzo-like behavior of Peter Cavanaugh. He was the one who taught me how to go up against the powers-that-be and live to tell all. Thank you, Peter Cavanaugh, for “Local DJ” and for saving a generation of Flint kids from the likes of Pat Boone” 





“Down The Stretch”

September 11, 2016


Never toss college words at kindergarten minds.

Last Friday night, Hillary Clinton told enthusiastic supporters at a Manhattan fundraiser, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

For those suffering from laggard learning, Hillary might better have replaced the phrase “grossly generalistic” with a more easily understood “overstating very badly”—this being a perfectly acceptable, Webster-approved substitution for reasonably sophisticated ears. But reason is rare in certain circles.

By early Saturday morning Trumpty-Dumpty was bellowing from his golden fortress in Trump Tower, “Wow, Hillary Clinton was so insulting to my supporters. I think it will cost her in the polls!”

So signaled, Vice Presidential candidate Mike “The Poodle” Pence then belligerently barked before Christian conservatives in Washington, “Hillary, they are not a basket of anything. They are Americans and they are due your respect.” Assumingly, Poodle is including those torch bearing, pitchfork waving Neanderthals howling, “Lock her up!” at every perceived rally prompt. Yes, Neanderthals. Science says those recessive genes still reside in some. There was cross breeding 600,000 years ago. Check out your next Trump crowd. You can’t miss it.

Realizing her Friday phraseology had ignited a new volume of viper venom, Secretary Clinton qualified her comments Saturday, stating that use of the word “half” may have been a mathematical exaggeration, but it still remains certain that a large segment of Trump supporters include racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic viewpoints and that Trump’s new campaign CEO, Breitbart News executive Steven Bannon, is an individual that David Duke and other white supremacists openly honor as a champion of their values.

Now less than 8 weeks before Election Day on Tuesday, November 8th, we’re finally coming down the stretch. Many will be voting earlier by mail-in ballot. These will be sent to Madera County residents enjoying “Permanent Vote by Mail Status” in early October — approximately 29 days before the General Election.

The fact that the Trump campaign can take (or fake) exception to perceived “insults” from Hillary Clinton is as ludicrous as Dumpty’s run for the Presidency itself.

By way of brief review, in the last few days, he who questioned a Federal judge’s honesty due to Mexican ancestry, attacked Gold Star parents for daring to oppose him and labeled women “fat pigs”, “dogs” and “bimbos,” just added a few new spins in his degrading diatribes. Trump heaped more praise on the leadership of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, insisted anew that “nobody wants to see (his) tax returns” and suggested that in a Trump administration, Iranian boats would be “shot out of the water if they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to.” Full fire at a finger? This outburst alone should settle the “temperament” issue once and for all.

American media isn’t helping matters any in attempting to bolster ratings and readership by fostering an assumed equity between Trump and Clinton in a disturbing and mindless portrayal of false equivalency that is dangerously irresponsible and misleading.

Each time some new crazy actions or accusations spring forth by, for or against Trump, the press seems obliged to trot out a corresponding negative story leveled against Hillary Clinton to provide an appearance of “balance” and “equal treatment” in their reporting. Thus, we keep repeatedly hearing thoroughly refuted nonsense about “Benghazi”, “Emails” and “The Clinton Foundation” ad nausea (to where it makes you sick, Trumpies) – when that’s evidently all they can try to hang her with against a continuing torrent of troubling Trump trip-ups.

President Obama said it best last week during his press conference in Laos: “I think the most important thing for the public and the press is to just listen to what (Trump) says and ask questions about what appear to be either contradictory or uninformed or outright bad ideas. Somehow behavior, that in normal times we would consider completely unacceptable and outrageous, is becoming normalized.”

 I hope you’ll be asking hard questions of “The Battling Bobs” next Monday, September 19th, as Dr. Bob Derlet and Robert Carabas join us for a “Meet the Candidates Pizza Party from 6 till 8 PM at the Pizza Factory in Oakhurst. Democratic Doctor Bob is seeking to replace Tom McClintock as our Fourth Congressional District Representative, while Bob Carabas wants to unseat Frank Bigelow in the State Assembly.

Come on out for the fun Monday at The Pizza Factory. If you elect the Battling Bobs, you WON’T want to toss ’em. They’re REALLY awesome!


September 3, 2016


September 8, 2016

On this date Bernie Sanders turns 75.

So do I.

O.K., Bernie, where do we go from here?

I’m not sure about you, but I never thought I’d get past 10.

Back in 1950 when you and I were 9, we Fourth Graders played “duck and cover” at least once a month, diving under school desks as sirens wailed — covering our eyes from that ever anticipated, permanently blinding flash of brilliant irradiated light accompanied by a searing wave of flesh scorching heat heralding the dreaded detonation of an enemy nuclear bomb.

Only five years had passed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki were blasted to kingdom come in the only two atomic explosions ever unleashed against our species, fate having chosen the Japanese people for this dubious distinction.

Doctor J. Robert Oppenheimer of UC Berkeley headed our government’s top secret “Manhattan Project,” a massive effort dedicated to designing an ultimate war weapon. The idea was to split atoms and unleash unimaginable energy generating thermonuclear heat of one hundred and fifty million degrees Fahrenheit, five times that of the sun’s fiery core. Witnessing the first successful test of his new “super bomb” on July 16, 1945 in the New Mexico desert, Dr. Oppenheimer watched in awestruck terror, then gasped these words from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

 Oppenheimer felt enormous personal responsibility for bringing such exotic theoretical physics to deadly practical fruition. As Chairman of the General Advisory Committee of a newly created United States Atomic Energy Commission, he lobbied after the war for international control of nuclear power to avert dangerous proliferation and a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. For these “Un-American” sentiments, he was removed as Committee Chairman, suffered complete revocation of security clearances, and was stripped of any meaningful political influence for the rest of his public life.

These were the “Joe McCarthy years” when the wild ravings of a drunken Wisconsin Senator took precedence over common sense and secured safety. There were “Commies” in the State Department, “Reds” way across town and “Pinkos” right up your block. Joe said he had solid names. He had only shameful notions. Edward R. Murrow nailed McCarthy coast to coast on CBS. Murrow’s closing words on the program come down to us through the years, perhaps particularly resonant today in the light of the seemingly inexplicable Trump phenomenon.

“The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it — and rather successfully. Cassius was right. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

 On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67–22, making him one of few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. McCarthy died of alcoholism on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48.

So here we are, Bernie.


As your “birth brother” — you’ve made me proud.

You’ve awakened, enlightened and energized a whole new generation of dedicated young Americans, driven not by false memories of imagined yesterdays, but by the promising possibility of truer tomorrows.

Being a hero of our youth at 75 is no small achievement, Bernie.

I’m a hero to my cat, but only after a half can of “Puss ‘n Boots” and a healthy helping of Temptations “Savory Salmon” Classic Kitty Treats.

For purposes of full honest disclosure, Bernie, I should herein confess that I am actually a bit younger than you, having been delivered seven weeks prematurely by C-section. I spent my first two months outside the womb enclosed within the warm, comforting confines of a climate controlled hospital incubator, thus not having been born so much as hatched. Chirp. Chirp.

Thank you for resisting what must have been a powerful urge to launch a third party bid this election cycle despite enormous pressure to do so from highly inspired, hard fighting, true believing supporters. Yielding to this temptation might have split the Democratic Party in half and all but assured the election of Donald J. Trump.

You have saved us from collective catastrophe, international condemnation and universal scorn. And made more unlikely a sudden, blinding flash of brilliant white light.