Posted in Off The Top Of My Head

It’s About Time

One the biggest highlights of my newspaper writing days (1991-2011) came when I got to interview John Glenn, former U.S. Senator and astronaut, for a special section the AV The_Space_Shuttle_1_Cover_for_KindleNews put out to mark the end of the Space Shuttle program.

I was five-years-old when Apollo 11 launched to put the first men, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the Moon. But the names I grew up hearing were Alan Shepard and John Glenn. Shepard was the first American to launch aboard a U.S. rocket and Glenn was the first to orbit the Earth after the USSR’s Yuri Gagarin. Unlike the heroes on the silver screen, these were real-life heroes.

So when Mr. Glenn agreed to spend an hour of his time on the phone with me I was ecstatic. We talked about his days with the Mercury project, his finally getting back to space aboard the Space Shuttle over 30 years later and then we turned to the future of the U.S. Space Program.

And that’s when I found out what it is like to be around a legend when he gets good and mad. We were shutting down the Space Shuttle without a replacement mode of transport in place and ready to send U.S. astronauts into space aboard U.S. rockets from a launch pad in the U.S. He was furious with both the Bush and Obama Administrations for this decision to rely on the Russians to haul U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station that would never have been built had it not been for the Shuttles.

5ecc40533f7370578b394e65It has taken nine years, but this afternoon, from the same pad that sent Apollo 11 on toward its destiny, an American-built rocket, carrying American astronauts will launch from U.S. soil and send these two men to the ISS.  I imagine somewhere, John Glenn is saying its about damn time.

As for me, I’ll be watching today’s launch with the same excitement that I had back in 1969. It’s a great moment and one that should be remembered by us all. So godspeed to both astronauts, may their journey be safe and successful and may they return to the same heroes welcome reserved for Shepard, Glenn, Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Posted in Off The Top Of My Head

Show Some Modicum Of Decency, If Not Respect

Earlier today the news broke that one of the NBA’s greatest players, Kobe Bryant, had died in a helicopter crash along with four others. As is won’t in this 24/7 instant news cycle, we later learned the total number of dead was higher and that one was his eldest daughter.

Tragic news, as is any news of any crash or accident or event where any number of lives are lost. We mourn the loss of life on any scale, be it just one or thousands and in rarer cases, millions. These times should be one of reflection and prayer for the families who have suffered a terrible loss.

Unfortunately, some people never seemed to have gotten the memo.

Barely two hours after the news broke, Washington Post political reporter Felecia Sonmez took to her Twitter account to remind everyone that over 16 years ago the recently departed Bryant had been accused of sexual assault and attempted to justify posting a link to the case to put Bryant’s life in “proper context”.

Never mind that the charges were dropped, a civil case was settled out of court and at no time were the allegations proven. Once charged, falsely or not, always guilty and never forgiven. Look, only two people know what really happened that night. We’ve heard both of their sides of it. As is usually the case, I suspect the actual truth lies somewhere in between.

But, on the very day of his death, when his own daughter and seven others died alongside him in a tragic accident, do we really need to make that kind of public tweet while the bodies of the dead are still being recovered from the scene? Can we not allow the families, friends and fans of the departed grieve their sudden loss in peace?

To paraphrase Joseph Welch: “Let us not assassinate this man further, Ms. Sonmez. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”

I would post a screenshot of her tweet, and her follow-up tweet where she decried the well-earned ratio her first tweet received (when I last checked it was 19,000 replies against 1,300 likes. It the Twitterverse, that means you have been ratioed and you NEVER want to get ratioed on Twitter) but it seems she has deleted all of her tweets regarding Bryant’s death. I suspect her bosses at the Washington Post ordered her to do so but I will hope she had the decency to be ashamed of what she’d done and deleted them on her own.

UPDATE: Sonmez has been suspended by the Washington post over her tweets. While I am happy to see someone at the Post still practices journalism, this retired sports editor would have fired her within 10 seconds of reading her tweets. Sadly, Addy Baird at BuzzFeed, another political reporter, has taken up the mantle. Happily she is getting ratioed as well.

There was another episode of someone on Twitter “dancing on someone’s grave” that I originally decided not to write about. Mainly, not to give the soulless creature any more publicity. But in light of today’s events it seems appropriate to address it.

A legend of science fiction, Mike Resnick, passed away earlier this year. In his case, his attacker waited all of 48 hours to dredge up a personal issue she had with Resnick and another writer back in 2013. I’m not going to go into details, just remember there are three sides to every story. His, Hers and somewhere in between lay the actual truth of what happened.

Again, I wasn’t there. With one or two obvious exceptions, neither were you in all likelihood. But it happened over six years ago and the matter was resolved. No, not to everyone’s satisfaction, but it was resolved and everyone moved on. Well, maybe everyone but her apparently.

Resnick continued writing. She appears to have continued writing, editing and whatever else it is she does. Yet, for some reason she still felt compelled to rejoice in his death and blame him for her being a hateful person.

I’d post some her finest hits but she blocked me on Twitter and Facebook before I even knew who she was. I’m going by what has been reported by many others who have screenshots of her vile hate.

Judging by Sonmez’s tweet history and this other person’s known history what we are seeing here are die-hard warriors of the #MeToo movement. They will no doubt be outraged for life, blissfully ignoring the fact that they literally have gotten what they want, especially in SF/F.

Look at the finalists for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. They run 80-90% women. Over the past four years no man has won the Hugo’s Best Science Fiction Novel award and only three of the 23 total nominees were men. The same can be said of the Nebulas run by the SFWA.

What is also being said by many fans of SF/F is that there was once a time when the finalists for these two awards were must-reads. Today, the books on those lists are must-avoids.

The Dragon Awards are now truly representative of what you should be reading. The Helicon Awards will be announcing their second annual winners in April. I strongly urge you to read the works you find there.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read the works of “Evil Old White Guys” like Resnick, Asimov and many others, I suggest you do so. And I suggest you look to the Indie Publishers who are putting out great works of SF/F today.

I happen to be one of those Indie Publishers with Tuscany Bay Books. We’ve been putting out the Planetary Anthology Series, loaded with incredible SF/F short stories. Pluto and Luna are now out with nine more books to follow.

Take a look at this photo:


Every book you see above was either written solely by me, co-written by me or has a short-story within it written by me. There are 25 books sitting up there, all written and published over the last six years. There are many more to come. You won’t get preached at. You won’t get scolded. You WILL  be entertained. Because all I try to do when I start a story is write a story the reader will enjoy reading.

That will be the legacy I will leave behind when my time on the Earth comes to an end. I take great pride in that. Both Mike Resnick and Kobe Bryant have left behind legacies that cannot be tarnished no matter how loudly these indecent people tweet their vulgar hate out. They and their families can be proud of that.

I never got to meet either man but I enjoyed their work on the court and in the craft of writing SF/F. To both, I wish them nothing more than to rest in peace and that God bring strength and peace to the families they left behind as they deal with their recent losses.

As for those that took to Twitter to post hatred, I’ve learned there is little you can do about these vile folk save ignore them. Shame them when needed yes, but after that give them no further oxygen until, starved of attention, they will surely go the way of the DoDo Bird.

As for the rest of us, understand no one is perfect and no life can withstand intense scrutiny and remain unsullied. But at the very least, unless the departed is an evil monster that has murdered innocents, we can at least be respectful of the mourning of the deceased’s family and friends and allow them to grieve in peace.

Can’t we?





Posted in Off The Top Of My Head

The Generation We Deserve, Not The One We Need

Sometime in the early 1990s a movement started up in youth sports to do away with keeping score. It was, so they said, to help build the self-esteem of the players. They were far too young to deal with the soul-crushing concept of losing a game. So everyone got a participation trophy so they could all “feel like winners!”

Over time, we’ve seen this grow to where several high school coaches in football and basketball have lost their jobs or been suspended. Why? Because their teams scored too many points and won their games by too wide of a margin and hurt the feeling of the losing team. (Note: In every case, the losing coach had no problem with the outcome, understanding that the other team was simply that much better than they were.)

In some cases, teams forfeit games rather than play the better team at all to avoid a large defeat. What a lesson that is. Well, we have no chance so why even bother trying. Ugh.

I am a child of the 1960s. The lessons I learned were these: If you lost, you didn’t look for excuses. You didn’t blame it on something that had nothing to do with the game itself. Even if you went into a contest overmatched, you gave it 100% because, ever so often, the underdog managed to pull off the upset and win. And even if you still lost, playing against superior competition improved your own ability and helped you win games later on. And these lessons learned in sports carried over to all aspects of life, building character and giving you the tools to succeed off the field of play.

Sadly, we stopped teaching those lessons and we are reaping what we have sown for the last 20-30 years. And not just on the field of play either.

I see it when I look at what is going on in writing and in fandom. A younger generation that was taught you should get whatever you want, the way you want it every time. And if someone tells you no, or if the dislike something that you like or if someone better gets something instead of you, then you have somehow been cheated out of what is rightfully yours and you should throw a tantrum over it until you get your way. And for the cherry on top of the sundae, you get to lead a campaign against the person who “wronged” you until they are properly punished – either by losing their job or by being run out of the industry in shame.

What is even more distressing is that some in my generation are starting to buy into this mindset as well.

A recent example followed the passing of SF/F legend, Mike Resnick. His body temperature hadn’t yet dropped below 90 degrees than a young woman, Jaym Gates, dragged up an old incident she “claimed” happened. Nice timing, considering the accused can no longer offer his side of the story, and blamed him for her failures as a writer.

I vaguely recall the incident back when it was first brought up. I won’t claim to remember all of the particulars, neither do I care to go back and review them. I’ve never met either Resnick (much to my regret) or Gates (who blocked me on Facebook and Twitter despite – to the best of my knowledge – the fact I’ve never interacted with her on either platform. To be fair, I have over 22k tweets and God only knows how many Facebook posts so I might have, but I truly don’t recall doing so.)

But from what I know about Resnick’s history of working with young and up and coming authors and the hateful posts and blatant misandry I’ve seen from Gates I have a pretty good idea of what probably happened.

Gates is not a good writer. I checked out her work on Amazon the other day. She needs an editor and more time studying the craft. Does she have potential? Yes. But she needs to work on her craft and study it some more. Is she a good editor? She has edited a few books. Nothing in my reading taste, but I’m not seeing any reviews pointing out any glaring issues, so she probably is. Her bio says she is into gaming. I haven’t played anything she has published so I refrain from further commentary on her abilities in that field.

So, lets stick with writing. I imagine she approached Resnick with a request for a critique and got one. It wasn’t the “wow, this is amazing you’re the best (insert activity here) ever!” her generation was raised to expect. He likely pointed out where she needed to improve, what to fix and as he was wont to do gave her some encouragement to keep on working at it.

She probably didn’t hear a word he said. Instead, she went with the default setting many in her generation have been taught: He is an evil old white man. Evil Old White Men are the enemy. Evil Old White Men have privilege, ALL of them have it. Evil Old White Men scheme to keep POCs down. Evil Old White Men hate womyn. Evil Old White Men must be destroyed!

Sigh. This “Evil Old White Man” would like to know exactly where the official Office of Evil Old White Men’s Privilege is located, because this Evil Old White Man reckons he’s owed about 40 years of back dues. This Evil Old White Man was actually told back in 1995 that he was the wrong gender and wrong skin color to be promoted up the ladder at a national newspaper chain. This Evil Old White Man was offered a promotion if he would check “Native American” on a form so he would qualify as a minority hire. This Evil Old White Man declined, my last full-blooded Native American ancestor was born in 1810 in Virginia, because this Evil Old White Man was not going to use race to advance his career. So no, dears, this Evil Old White Man has no such “privilege” that has made his life what it is today. This Evil Old White Man has earned it based on his abilities and on his abilities alone. You should try that sometime. But I digress…

It is easier to blame the “Evil Other” rather than take a hard look at where you yourself have come up short. That is the lesson learned by losing, and sometimes by losing badly. Examine why you lost and find out how to improve, to become better and eventually succeed. It works in sports and it works in life.

The first fiction story I ever wrote and submitted got a harsh rejection letter in return (so much for that alleged privilege, eh?) that included a line that read “you should never again insult the craft of the English language by attempting to write another story”.

I’m betting if Ms. Gates had received such a letter she would have claimed the editor was a racist, sexist, etc., etc. POS as she does today with anyone who dares disagrees with her. She would never have done what I did. I didn’t blame the editor. I didn’t lead an outrage mob against him or the publication he worked for. No one got fired.

I, however, got fired up and went to work on improving my craft.

Forty years later, I’ve got a body of work that I take great pride in. A long career as a sports writer. Several published (Traditionally and Indie) novels, non-fiction books, two comic book issues and short stories. I received a note from one short story editor who said he always knew he was going to get a great story from me. I take great pride in that.

Because that has been my one and only goal in my fiction writing: Tell a great story that people enjoy reading. That is the only thing that matters. (As an aside, I still get rejection letters. Its not always a yes, kids, even for this Evil Old White Man. I don’t throw tantrums when its a no, I just start writing the next story.)

What else matters? Not being “woke” like Ms. Gates and her crowd. Not tearing down the old masters for perceived sins by today’s questionable standards like Jeannette Ng did at the 2019 Hugos last year.

Not using the race/gender card to excuse sub-standard writing, excuse blatant racism and misogyny/misandry and sell sub-standard work. I accuse two people of being the standard-bearers for this kind of garbage in SF/F, while certainly not being the only ones who do so: Vox Day and N.K. Jemesin.

These two are two sides of the same coin and products of a generation of brats. They have in fact used attacks against each other to sell sub-standard work. Both showed promise in their early works, but both have let hate creep into their writings, rendering them both unreadable, as well as their lives.

They both knew exactly what they were doing when Jemesin, an unknown writer, attacked Day. She knew Day would respond in kind and she could use his counter-attack to propel her career. It worked. She was gifted three Hugos her works were not worthy of. Day knew what she was doing and knew that by attacking her, he could form his own outrage mob. He has turned that into a profitable book-selling organization.

They used each other to sell books. And everyone on both sides fell for it. And they both knew it because they understand that a generation has been raised to throw a tantrum to get what you want is easier than putting in the work to earn it.

And they are both still doing it. Jemesin recently attacked Stephen King for having the nerve to state the obvious: When judging a book for an award the quality of the writing should be the determining factor. Jemesin countered that the race/gender of the writer cannot be separated from the quality of the book.

That kind of sounds racist/sexist to me, to be honest. We are to judge a book by the race/gender of its author and not by its quality? I’m old enough to have heard Dr. Martin Luther King say he dreamt of a day when his children would be judged by their quality, not by the skin color. Perhaps Nora should find that speech on YouTube and listen to it a few times until the lesson sinks in.

As for Vox Day, Theodore Beale by legal name, he’s still out there stirring up the pot in his own way. I used to think he was fighting the good fight back when he and Scalzi were running for President of the SFWA. But, eventually, I saw through the facade.

I have as little use for Theo as I do Nora and for those of that generation who unquestioningly follow them. They are no friends to SF/F or even to society. They are spoiled brats who never grew up because they never learned the lessons that winning and losing, between being told yes or no, teach. They are vital lessons that must be learned at a young age.

They are lessons a majority of an entire generation were never taught and now we are dealing with that generation – from the Woke Warriors to Antifa – all dead set on burning everything down just to get their way.

Not the generation we desperately need. But the generation we rightfully deserve.


Posted in Off The Top Of My Head

End Of Year/Decade Review

So here we are, at least in Nebraska, in the final 13 hours of the year, but the decade too. (Editor’s Note: Yes, I’ve heard some folks claiming because there is no Year Zero on the calendar that means we’ve got one more year in decade. Those folks need to chill out.)

It’s time to look back on the year (and a little bit on the decade too) before turning our gaze ahead to 2020 and the Roaring 20’s v2.0. We’ll start with 2019 itself. To be sure, it didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned some 365 days ago. For the most part, however, it was a pretty amazing year overall.

Writing-wise, it is the first year that I did not release a full-length novel. That doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten a lot done. So let’s review:

I did release the second book of the Timeless novella series – Secrets of the Sphinx – along with two other novellas in the Divine Trolls Series (which is now the completed Divine Trolls Trilogy because the final book no longer needs to be written. Sorry guys, you’ll just have to wonder what would have happened in Scalzi’s Inferno had I written it.) The Fall of the House of 770 Vile Aromas and The Corvo.

Short stories was where I was the most active in 2019. I had five new stories published in five anthologies and one that had been previously published before being reprinted in an amazing collection I am quite proud to have been a part of.

The Fall of Denver was my second serious foray into the horror genre (A Zombie Christmas Carol was was more a goofy bit of satire) and was included inDaniel Humphrey’s Places Beyond The Wild – Z-Day Anthology.

I traveled back into the realms of Sherlock Holmes in 2019, first with Nevermore, or The Mystery of the Albino Raven in Belanger Books’ Sherlock Holmes Adventures in the Realms of Edgar Allan Poe.  My story, The Woman Returns, which originally ran in Belanger Books’ Holmes Away From Home, Vol. 2 anthology well over a year ago, was included in The Art of Sherlock Holmes, USA Edition 1 by MX Publishing in London. It ran with an incredible piece of art inspired by the story. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that hanging in an art gallery in South Florida is a very large painting that otherwise would not have existed if I hadn’t written that story.

I had two stories run in the Planetary Anthology Series started by Superversive Press and now being produced by Tuscany Bay Books. Icarus Falls ran in Planetary Jupiter, the last of the original five anthologies published by Superversive. Yes, Neil D. Tyson, Pluto is a Planet ran in Planetary: Pluto, the first anthology published by Tuscany Bay earlier this month.

I also started a new weekly feature here on this website, the1K Weekly Serial series. So far, four full stories have run. Three were short stories I’d written long ago. The fourth, Spinster’s Manor, had been written for and accepted by an anthology but the Kickstarter campaign for it failed and was never published. I decided to share it for free, as the entire 1K Weekly Serial series is. Last Saturday began the next serial, a five-part horror story, The Monster In The Second Reel. This story had been written for and submitted to an anthology, but narrowly missed out on being included. But, fortunately for you, it will now be available for free here.

I also began a podcast, A Scribe’s Journey, and got 41 episodes in the books last year. The last episode was the perfect way to close out the year as my guest was Angelique L’Amour, the daughter of western writing legend, Louis L’Amour.

So, looking back, it was a full year of work along with a lot of other personal highlights – including having my eldest grandson out for a month during the summer before taking a fun road trip through the northern plains and the northwest before taking him back home.

It’s also been an incredible decade for me. It started with me in Colorado Springs, Colorado writing about sports, saw me end my sports writing career at the San Francisco Examiner in 2011 before ending my newspaper career overall in Southern California in 2013.

The decade saw me return to fiction writing full-time and I have written and released seven full-length novels, two non-fiction books and several short stories published in anthologies. I am half of an up and coming publishing company, Tuscany Bay Books, I was a co-host for a weekly radio show with over 700,000 listeners and I have been on more radio and podcasts as a guest than I can honestly recall.

More importantly, I have an incredible family that I wouldn’t trade for anything else in the world.

So, as this year and this decade draw to a close, I look back with nothing but pride and gratitude on what has been. I look ahead to this pending new year and new decade with a lot more hope and optimism than I had in the final hours of 2009 and the first decade of the 21st Century.

I hope your year and your decade brought much happiness and success. I hope this new year and new decade brings you much more of the same.

Posted in News, Off The Top Of My Head

The Hypocrisy Of Adam Silver

Funny, isn’t it, how principles go right out the window if enough money is involved?

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey recently tweeted his support of Hong Kong as it struggles to remain free of Chinese oppression. The Chinese got their knickers in a knot – too bad in my humble opinion – and started canceling NBA G-League games and stopped televising NBA games in China.

This prompted NBA Court Jester Commissioner Adam Silver to apologize to the Chinese for the grievous insult Morey’s tweet inflicted on their delicate senses. He did so in a way that basically threw Morey right under the bus. Only when many people outside of China took umbrage did Silver attempt to backtrack by saying that he and the league are “apologetic” over the outcome and reaction that followed Morey’s tweet then lamely added that “we are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.”

Adam is trying to have his rugelach and eat it too. I believe they call it “chutzpah” back in Winchester County, New York but I will defer to my friend James Pyles to confirm that.

Look, Silver has invested a lot of time and effort into expanding the NBA into China. Although, why one would willingly do business with a regime that murders its citizens for kicks and steals the intellectual property of many businesses – and creators like myself – is beyond me.

But Adam’s initial response, attacking Morey for standing up for those seeking the freedom and liberty every human being deserves, while apologizing to China because hundreds of millions of dollars are involved reveals a curious hypocrisy on Silver’s part.

He later states that he supports Morey excersing his freedom of expression and thus no league punishment will be handed down to Morey. That’s good. But where was that support from the freedom of expression for one Donald Sterling a few years back?

Yes, what Sterling was recorded saying to his mistress was racist and horrible. But here’s the thing about freedom of expression in this country: It means expression that we find horrible and disagree with is just as protected as that we do agree with.

You may hate what the man said, but he has the right to say it. Yet, he was stripped of his ownership of a multi-million dollar business by Adam Silver and the NBA.

Where is this heavy-handedness from Adam with regards to the Chinese. They have engaged in far worse conduct than Sterling ever did. Has Silver decided to remove China from any involvement with the NBA?

No. In fact, he has gone groveling to them. Apologizing to them because someone dared speak the truth to China. And all because enough money is involved to make Adam throw any semblance of integrity right out the window while he counts all those beautiful Renminbi’s with Mao’s face on them.

It reminds me of my final month of employment at the Modesto Bee. I had already handed in my notice to take a job at another newspaper when someone in HR discovered to their great horror that I had not yet taken my company-mandated “Diversity Training”, a one-week excursion into the land of Inclusionary Hell. It made no sense for me to take it since I was about three weeks from leaving the company, but I was given no choice. (In retrospect, I should have called in sick.)

Day one, we are told that it is wrong to sort out our fellow co-workers based on race, gender, etc. etc. Immediately after making this statement, we are asked to introduce ourselves and what our ethnicity is. I’m sorry, but didn’t you just say we weren’t supposed to make that an issue?

So, when my turn came I introduced myself and stated my ethnicity as “Human”. I think at that point the two indoctrinators instructors were wishing they had called in sick that week.

Day two, we are role-playing. (As an aside, I HATE ROLE-PLAYING) I am the manager of the advertising department when one of our top clients calls and says that Sally, who is black, is his account manager and he wishes to have someone who is not black handling his account from now on. As the head of the department, I am asked, what is your response?

My response was to tell the client that Sally was handling his account and would continue to do so and never again call me with this racist bullshit. Now, I note that my fellow employees clapped and nodded their heads in agreement with my decision.

Our indoctrinators instructors informed us that I was wrong. That, in order to keep the client happy, I should replace Sally with Jimmy, who is so white he makes Barry Manilow look like a brother. The next 10 minutes were… well, let’s just say they were interesting.

Let me sum up my parting statement as I left for the day and filed a complaint with HR and was then excused from attending for the rest of the week (which was good because it let me get back to doing the job I was being paid for):

“You have spent these two days telling us,” I began and likely was shouting at this point, “that excluding anyone based on race, gender and whatever else is wrong and unacceptable and grounds for termination for us employees. Then you have the nerve (I should have said chutzpah) to tell me that it is perfectly fine for this company to do exactly that to one of us to keep a racist POS client happy and keep those bucks flowing into the bank account? So the official McClatchy policy is racism is bad until it impacts accounts receivable and then its all fine and dandy?”

There were a few other choice words added in (I’m Italian, when we get started…) but the point was the hypocrisy was on full display. The sad fact was they knew it… and they didn’t care.

I suspect Adam and the NBA knows it too. But as long as the money keeps flowing in, they won’t care that they are hypocrites. Whoever has the bigger wallet is who they’ll cater do and to hell with the Sallys, Sterlings and Moreys of this world.

I haven’t watched an NBA game in years and I even quit following my Lakers about three years ago. Between Silver and his predecessor, David Stern, the NBA is no longer basketball. The NBA’s glory years will turn out to be the 1980s when the Lakers, Celtics, Sixers and Rockets played the game as well as it will ever be played.

Today’s NBA is street ball. Those refs not on the take have no clue what traveling or double dribble are. Nor do they call the game the same for all ten players on the court instead of having one set of different rules for the superstars. Players collude to violate the spirit of the salary cap with no sense of loyalty to the team that drafted them or the fans that cheered them on.

And now, we have a commissioner who worships at the altar of Big Money, paid for with the blood of innocent men and women who only desired one thing: Freedom.




Posted in Off The Top Of My Head

Watergate, That Blue Dress and A Nothingburger

I can remember the late summer of 1974 pretty clearly, considering it was 45 years ago and there are times I can’t remember why the hell I walked into the kitchen.

Watergate had been a thing on the news for some time and it was finally coming to a head that August. I sat in what used to be my grandfather’s bedroom in our two-story North Dakota house. He’d died a few days before and we were still dealing with the aftermath of that loss and his not being around. There’d been many times I’d been in his room with him, just watching his old black and white TV.

This day I was there alone, watching President Richard Nixon resign and leave office rather than face being impeached by the House and tried by the Senate. He’d broken the law and even his own party felt he needed to resign rather than put the country through what would have come if he had stayed and fought. It was the second time Nixon had chosen his country over his ambition.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy barely defeated Nixon for the White House. There was some suspicious voting in key states that swung to Kennedy that day. Nixon could have fought it. Might have proved it and won. But he realized in 1960, as he did 14 years later, the damage to the country was not worth it.

Which brings us to the impeachment of Bill Clinton nearly a quarter-century later. Like Nixon, Clinton had broken the law. He had lied under oath during a court proceeding. He was impeached once he refused to put the good of the country ahead of his ambition. He was not convicted, not because he wasn’t guilty (he was), but because by the late 1990s politicians willing to put country ahead of party was a thing of the past.

Now, we’re starting to reap what Bill Clinton sowed twenty years ago. Now, politics rules all – even areas which shouldn’t be political (sports, science fiction, the list is nearly endless) – and now its the truth be damned! It is all about saving your guy while getting their guy at all costs.

I’ve stated on Twitter that if Trump had done something I’d be driving the impeachment train myself. I didn’t vote for him or the other corrupt Democrat (I’m still not convinced he really feels he’s a Republican) from New York that the two parties put up.

But the honest truth is: There is nothing there to impeach him for. There was no collusion with Russia. There is no obstruction of justice. You can’t be found guilty of obstructing because you had the nerve to come out and say “I didn’t do this and I’m not going to help you railroad me either!”

Now we’re on to Ukraine. I’ve read the transcript – not the “parody” that Adam Schiff tried to sneak into the record (and may I say, based on about three years of working with a lawyer and writing drafts of legal briefs – the sure sign that the other side has no case is when they start off by lying about their “evidence”) – and again, there is no crime there.

Oh, there is if we’re going to play the “I’ll interpret what you said based on some non-existent code that I made up so I can say you did something that you didn’t” game. But in a court of law, that’s not a game you can play. A court deals in facts. The facts are, there is nothing there.

But again, since “party” is all, I have no doubt that Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, et al are going to march double-quick time toward impeaching Trump. And the Senate will do what the Senate did twenty years ago, return a verdict of not guilty. Only this time, the verdict will be accurate.

And as for the country? I’ve seen a disturbing hashtag on Twitter today: #CivilWarSignup. The people joking about this are the ones who run screaming for their safe spaces at the sight of a red baseball cap.

If we keep on this path, this country will fracture and it will not be insults and milkshakes being tossed about. It will be bullets. And only one side appears to be armed for that kind of fight.

So, I want our political leaders, especially those on the left tonight, to take a step back and consider what they are doing and where it will lead. I mean, really chew right down to the bone.

Because if blood is shed over this, it will all be on your hands.

Stop this insanity, while you still can.


Posted in Off The Top Of My Head

9/11 Is Nothing To Laugh About

It was 18 years ago tomorrow that the world changed.

Nearly 3,000 people in New York City, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania were murdered by 19 vermin. In the years since, the death toll has increased to include people who survived that terrible day but succumbed to medical issues caused by exposure to the dust and chemicals in the debris of Ground Zero and the Pentagon. Thousands more have been added in combat-related deaths from the wars sparked by the attacks.

All of us have been directly impacted by that day, even if none of our friends or family were among those we lost. Can you greet a family member at the end of the jetway in an airport terminal? Can you have a private conversation on the phone without having a computer inside a government building recording it? The Patriot Act might go down as one of the worst government overreactions of all time when historians take a look back at the first decade of the 21st Century.

Much was lost and when we think of this day, it should be with respect and solemnly. It should never be the subject of a funny meme or a joke.

Have you ever heard of a Pearl Harbor joke? You haven’t. December 7, 1941 was that generation’s 9/11. They didn’t laugh about it. They didn’t make jokes or cartoons about it.

Yet, recently I’ve seen people trying to make jokes and memes about 9/11. Some in an attempt to be funny. Others looking to espouse conspiracy theories to shift the blame to other people besides the 19 vermin who did it and the one man who ordered it.

A former friend posted one such meme, was called on it and instead of apologizing and taking it down, chose to double down on it. You caught the use of the word “former” in that sentence, right?

So tomorrow, as we mark the 18th year since that terrible day, let’s do so respectfully. Those no longer among us deserve nothing less than that.