Friday, June 09, 2017

Perhaps "The World is a Circus."

 If Shakespeare was alive today instead of writing the line "The world is a stage and all of us are players," he would have written "The world is a Circus and all of us are clowns."  
It is impossible to crawl inside the mind of THIS President, although there is apparently a lot of room in there, but I shall try just to imagine what his narcissistic logic might look like concerning the firing of Comey. 
But first let's see what has been happening "outside" of that "mind". 
During a campaign he seemed to be losing last year, Trump's mantra was "Lock her up".  He insisted that we shouldn't  have a President who might become involved in a criminal investigation regarding her emails.  In July of last year James Comey gave a press conference saying that Mrs. Clinton was "careless" but not to the level of criminal charges.  It was seen as a great boost to the Clinton campaign and potentially the end of several years of intense Congressional investigation into her actions.
Then came the election.  Russia was even then being investigated for election hacking and voting influence.  During the Presidential transition period there were Trump associates ( and family) still  having questionable contact with Russians.  The investigation continued until Sally Yates (Acting Attorney General) came to inform Mr. Trump that Michael Flynn was a big target of investigation.  Flynn resigned (was fired) under pressure and then Sally Yates was fired.  Jeff Sessions was confirmed and appointed AG, now incharge of the DOJ.  The Russian inquiry continued and it was determined that Sessions omitted or lied about contacts he had with Russian agents during his confirmation.  He did not resign, he recused himself from all Russian matters.  
Now back inside the spacious mind of 45.  He is thinking, everyone is talking about this "Russian thing".  There is a cloud of suspicion all around me and the investigation of Flynn continues in the background.  He decided that a loyalty oath from Comey was needed.  He didn't get it.  He continues to attempt "grooming" Comey and asks him if HE, Trump himself is part of the investigation?  This is key to the Trumpeirian narcissistic world.  How is this Russian Thing affecting ME.  According to Trump, his Attourney and confirmed by Comey, three times (a Biblical number) Trump got assurance he was not currently part of an investigation.  Then Trump says to Comey he wishes Comey would announce that fact to the world. This desire to be "vindicated" was expressed several times.
Back outside in the light of day,  Comey is rudely and ham fistedly fired.  The reason stated, in a letter, says he was fired because of his handeling of the Clinton investigation.  But there are contemporaneous notes of the Presidential conversations taken specifically because Comey believed Trump would lie about the conversation. The Clinton investigation was never mentioned in these conversations, only the Russian probe.  A day later Trump tells the world in a television interview that Comey was really fired over "this Russia thing".  The Comey notes are made public and Comey testifies before and open hearing in Congress, yesterday.  
Now everyone is concentrating on the more juicy sections of the conversations between Comey and Trump.  Looming big is  "obstruction of justice" that might haven occurred when he asked Comey to "Let the Flynn thing go".  
News pundits believe that Comey was fired because he wouldn't walk back his Flynn/Russia investigation.  Obstruction of justice? or the actions of an inexperienced numbskull.  Either one prove to be the actions of a man not qualified nor fit to be President.

But there is a more narcissistic explanation for the Comey firing and it does not involve Flynn.  As we have seen,  Trump does not hesitate to throw any associate under the bus if it makes Trump look better.  He has no loyalty to Flynn. He is not concerned that Flynn might be a traitor as long as Trump enjoys big ratings and large crowds.  Like his reality show experience, Flynn has been fired... written out, gone,  no longer a part of the Trump circus.  One contestant is gone, no big deal. 
So, why did the he fire Comey?  You have to think in the most personal of terms when dealing with a narcissist.  It wasn't about Flynn it was about Trump. Comey was fired because he would not publicly state that TRUMP was not under investigation.  Comey did it for Hillary, he would certainly do it for the man who beat her in the election, wouldn't he?  Why wouldn't he call News Conference to say that Trump is not under investigation?  He wouldn't, he didn't, he's fired.  Simple as that.  

Never assume there is obstruction, or incompetence involved in a decision when you can explain it by pure ego-centric narcissism, especially in the case of Trump.

In a circus the clowns perform until the Ringmaster blows a whistle signaling that the next act is ready.  When will someone finally blow that whistle and get these clowns out of the ring?

As you were,


Sunday, June 04, 2017

Goldilock Zone

I guess climate is a big issue for me. I have always enjoyed breathing safe air and drinking non-contaminated water. In fact, of all the things I would give up, breathing and drinking would be the last to go.  I also enjoy living in a place that is not too hot and not too cold, not too wet and not too dry.. but for me, just right.
In Astrophysisist- speak,  Goldilock Zone is the distance from any given sun or star that is temperate enough for liquid water. The Goldilocks reference implies this zone is neither too hot nor too cold for water to flow. Of course our Earth is uniquely positioned in one of those perfect Goldilock zones in orbit around our Sun. It doesn't matter if you try to calculate the odds or give homage to divinity; our Earth experience is a uniquely fragile existence compared to the eternity of  the vast universe.  
As we understand our unique position of delicate balance in space,  the Earth becomes extremely important for our existence. In fact it is the only planet so far that would support our existence. And Mother Ship Earth has no life boats.  If she hits an iceberg even first class, like the rest, goes down with the ship.  But if the Earth is like the Titanic I am less afraid of hitting an iceberg than I am about a coal boiler explosion. 
Some people think  humans have had no effect on the world's climate.  Is it ignorance, arrogance or disregard that supports this opinion? Does anyone remember the Dust Bowl days?  It was a man made climate disaster that affected the lives of millions. We acknowledged it was human error and corrected our mistake, but forgot the lesson learned.  The American Bison was almost hunted out of existence.  We realized it almost too late to save a species of animal.  Don't we understand how humans and each individual affects the rest of the world?  Obviously not. 
Local case in point: 
 All over the park, where I sometimes walk my dog, are signs that say do not feed the wildlife specifically the birds.  This "Did You Know" sign which is also well displayed explains why.  It is not because they don't want the park critters to be happy, they want things to be normal. One of the more disgusting reasons that affects my enjoyment  of the park is because:  if you feed a duck human baked food like say, "bread" they do not process that food well. It is twice the mess when the ducks decide to give the favor back.  It is like taking a walk in a mine field. 
Here is the cycle when humans interfere with the natural pecking order of the Balboa Park of Encino. Feeding the ducks keeps them from migrating which causes over population, which causes disease, which increases rodents, which bring the coyotes which eat the children who come to the park to FEED the ducks.  Because no one really understands how they are affecting the coyote population, yet another sign has to be posted. 
But in spite of the warning of posted signs here is the reality of the world.  
 I snapped this picture only days ago.  Directly beneath the sign that says "don't feed the birds" a young mother is teaching her daughter that signs don't matter. It appears that her child's interaction with the ducks is much more important than the opinion of  naturalists who went to the trouble and the expense of posting a sign.  And note that she is feeding a flock of ducks  not just the scrap of a hot dog bun uneaten from a picnic; this is a new loaf of white bread crumbled for this very purpose.  
If we disregard the posted signs of scientists trying to keep the experience of wild life pure for future generations in our own back yard, why would we care about our contribution to the melting of the polar ice cap? And there is the conundrum. 
For me, protecting the environment is not a political issue. Is is not a national issue. It's a global responsibility.  We only have one Earth and one atmosphere.  Climate knows no national borders.  We are all on this Earth together and moving to a cleaner planet is not an option. Ultimately it is an issue that each one of us can affect regardless of national or even a global policy.  
The Paris Accord was just that, an accord. Not a law, not a decree but an acknowledgment that we all must participate in the health of the planet... all of us.  It circumvents politics, economy, or even belief.  It is the truth about mans stewardship of the Earth.  The tipping point is here, there is no more time to wonder, the time for action is now.  
As you were,

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dogs Life

I am currently sitting in a McDonalds across the street from the Doggie Dental Clinic. I am waiting for Boo to have her teeth cleaned.  With Pet care a $60 billion dollar industry in America (that is with a B - billion) it was only a matter of time before veterinarian specialist would be open up. They have made it as much like a human doctors office as possible.   I could have waited in their lovely waiting room but it reminded me too much of being in a hospital.  
 Nurses in uniform greet you to fill out forms just like the last time you changed doctors.  It was all very professional. Boo is an extremely healthy dog (partly because we have her teeth cleaned on a regular basis) so the questions were mostly answered in the negative.  At one point Boo was being very friendly to the nurse, who said,
"My you are a very sweet boy".  To which I replied,
"Sweet yes and she's a girl". The nurse craned her neck down to look between Boo's hind legs and said,
"Well of course she is".  This would have been the same scientific method I would have used to make that determination.  Who knew I had a natural talent for veterinary medicine.  

It did, however, make me think of the whole issue of transgender identity and states like Texas which are struggling to understand.  Boo is a great example of how much it really doesn't matter.  It happens quite often.  She is a cute dog,  her gender is not really a major factor in her existence. I don't know what gender her inner canine identifies with but I have the feeling she doesn't care.  Her thinking is probably no more complicated than: "Do trick, get treat."  The point is, it doesn't bother her to be identified as a male, even when a trained nurse has to glance at her genitals to affirm she is a biological female.  No one has ever said, "You know Jay's dog Boo? He is really a she." 
So why is it an issue when humans look different than their biological equipment that identifies them.  Unless reproduction is the goal, a human is just a human. 
This has always been an interesting statement to me.  Jesus was asked a question about marriage in heaven.  It seems a man had remarried after his first wife had passed. It was asked, which wife would he be with in heaven.  He said, "They neither marry nor or given in marriage, all are like angels in heaven".  Some other translations say "they are neither male nor female but are like angels in heaven." So.... it would appear that there are no genders in heaven.  Why do we get so concerned here on Earth about gender since for the rest of eternity it doesn't matter?
And I am sure, if there are also dogs in heaven they look exactly like Boo - angels.

As you were,

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sweeney Trump

Every morning when I wake up I check my email.  Most of my business communication revolves around this process. It is the "self employed" way of checking in with the office now-a-days.  That in itself would not be a problem.  I actually like addressing business issues in my bath robe, but this enjoyment has been grossly interrupted by something called "push notices" on my computer.  Like most of us I get headlines for stories of the day in this manner.  They just pop up. Before I have had time to even think about the news of the day, they require that I see them if only to dismiss them. This has proved to be a terrible distraction to my creativity.  

The headlines for the last 110 days have mostly been about the incredible ineptitude of the current government.  I get pissed off and that sour feeling seems to cramp any humor that might be ready to come out later in the day.  I end up writing, not some new show or routine, but a missive tainted by my utter disbelief and anger.  I really thought by now the distraction would settle down, but it hasn't.  Every Presidential tweet, that is reported, inflames my senses.  Each time I see one of those tweets I realize, instead of addressing the Nations needs, the Korean threat, the war in Syria, the war in the Ukraine, the extreme division in the country, filling governmental appointment jobs or just doing the job of the President, Donald Trump is ignoring those duties to craft some 4th grade 140 character snipe. 
Saturday my routine was altered.  I got up early to go participate in the reading of a new play directed by a friend of mine. I didn't have time to even check my emails that morning. No push notices to know what was going on. I didn't turn on any news. By one o'clock I was so energized with the creativity I participated in that my whole day felt, enlightened.  The Muse of art resurfaced and briefly held the "anger demons" at bay.  Suddenly a song became an ear worm and would not go away until I wrote it down.  This is the result of that worm.  I share it with you giving apologies to Steven Sondheim and in homage to Randy Rainbow:

Donald Trump – the Demon in charge of the Whitehouse 
(To the tune of "Sweeney Todd – the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" opening song.)

Attend the tale of Donald Trump
He can’t distinguish his head from his rump
He wanted America great again
But now it’s clear he’ll never begin,
That’s Donald…. Donald Trump.
The dodo in charge of the Whitehouse.

His hair is long and his temper short
He has no income that he’ll report.
He changes his mind in the blink of a eye,
It doesn’t matter, it’s always a lie,
That’s Donald … Donald Trump.
The one that’s ruining the Whitehouse

Swing you golf club high, Donald
Tweet to make them cry, Donald.
If you get into a bind, bomb Syria.

Donalds bitch is that Putin Red
The ones who know are currently dead.
He only wants to be admired,
Disagree and your suddenly fired,
That’s Donald…. That’s Donald Trump. 
The asshat in charge of the Whitehouse. 

It’s off to Mar-a-Lago again.
He’s there to work, on his Cheeto tan.
He surrounds himself with billionaires,
And Congress tells us that nobody cares, 
That’s Donald… Donald Trump
The Cheeto that lives in the Whitehouse. 

Donald can’t keep his story straight,
He should be studying Watergate.
Everyone knows the reason why,
You never should piss on the FBI
That’s Donald… that’s Donald Trump
The con-man in charge of the Whitehouse.

What will we do with this piece of shit?
We’re all just waiting for the fan to hit.
How will America ever survive,
If he does manage to stay alive,
That’s Donald That’s Donald Trump.
The looser in charge of the Whitehouse. 

Before he even ties his shoes
He tweets out hatred for all of the news.
At this job he certainly sucks
But he’s just in it for all of the bucks,
That’s Donald Trump
The demon in charge of the Whitehouse. 

As you were,

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dear Mr. Trump:

I know you are not a politician. I know you are not a traditional leader. I know you aren't bothered by integrity nor personal honor, and I know you lie.  I know your vocabulary and tweeting skills are on par with a fourth grader. I know you are mentally unfit for the job, based upon your own actions and words.   I know you are not a scholar, nor a historian, nor a student of civics nor a believer in the Constitution. I know you said this job of President was a lot harder than you thought, almost as complicated as health care, but  then as you said, "who knew".
Until now I also thought you were a pretty good Con-man. Now I "bigly" realize that you are not even an adequate con-man, Mr. Trump.

I'm no expert but I know one of the "con-man ten commandments" is: "Don't run when no one is chasing you."

Let me try to explain that in fourth grade English.

Don't act guilty if you are innocent, and if you are guilty, try your best to look innocent.  Every action you have taken has a veil over it like you are a bad magician trying to provide distraction for an ill rehearsed trick.  Your timing sucks.  A real con-man would know when the time is right.  A good con-man would not be so ham fisted with his manipulations.
Mr. Trump,  you have no grace, even for a con-man thug.  If your action toward Mr. Comey was completely justified and without hint of a Russian cover-up why was it handled in such a humiliating way?  In front of his peers and FBI employees at a meeting in Los Angeles, a media capital, Mr. Comey sees the announcement of his firing on television.  The meeting is cancelled.  It is not even certain that he has the authority to fly home in the FBI plane.  His "perp walk" to the airplane was broadcast by television helicopter for all to see. Do you understand that humiliation was not called for nor necessary? Perhaps you thought this was better than brining him into the oval office as you sat between Ivanka and Steve Bannon, telling him"you're fired" on camera.
Mr. Trump, I know your American history is fuzzy but Nixon was eventually brought down by a source named "deep throat".  Now there has been an immediate comparison of the Comey firing to Nixon's time in 1972 when he also fired someone investigating him.  Here is the historic part you should have thought about before you sent your body guard over to the J.Edgar Hoover Building to deliver your letter.  Forty years after Nixon's resignation, and before his own death, it was reveled that "Deep Throat" - the whistle blower who brought down Nixon... was a high ranking FBI agent at the time.  I know,  who knew?
What I am saying Mr. Trump, is this: A good con-man would have known all that.  And of all the things I thought I knew about you, I thought for sure you were a better crook than Richard Nixon.  But you are not.
Mr. Trump, I did not know Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon was not a friend of mine, but I can tell you sir, "You are no Richard Nixon."   You are just another crooked Dick.

With the saddest of thoughts toward you and your family,
Jay Johnson


Sunday, May 07, 2017

Vive la France

France has just announced that the Trump loving, immigrate hating, compromise fearing, Putin loving candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen has lost "bigly" in the election for President. Early reports suggest that Russia employed the same covert game with Emanuel Marcon (the centrist candidate) as they did with Hillary Clinton last year, hacking documents and releasing them at literally the last hour of the campaign.  Unlike here in America the French did not fall for it.  Why?
The French are not smarter than Americans, the French are not governed better than Americans, but in an election that had similar over tones to ours they chose the more moderate and centrist leader.  Why?
I have a theory that may or may not be a factor, those more politically astute can correct the thesis if they wish.
Unlike Americans the French know what fascism is.  They were conquered and ruled by the poster boy of fascism, racism and idiocracy in the 40's.  Even now they can see the wolf in sheep's clothing who might be parading as a contemporary choice for leader.  
Americans have no experience in this area.  We dream along in the belief that we were the ones who conquered fascism.  We believe that we are too smart, too strong, and too Godly to become the serfs of fascism.  Those who believe it "can never happen here" are the very ones who are ripe for the jingoism that fascism spouts.  In fact believing a country is better than, smarter than and superior in attitude to others is the very germ of fascism.  
Oh Americans like to shout about fascism, and call every leader they don't like Hitlerish and claim they know how to spot it.  In reality we Americans have no idea what it is like to be ruled by fascism.  Here is an instructing quote from Benito Mussolini:

With court rulings like Citizens United, orders to roll back environmental regulations,  ease up the banking regulations, and give higher tax breaks to the wealthiest, we are goose stepping into fascism carrying the flag of a free market.  What politicians tell us is: the rules restricting "big business" is hurting our capitalistic society, which is Un American.  The truth is government restrictions on corporations and big business is not hurting America it is America.  America is the land of the free, where everyone has the same chance to become anything they want given their own hard work to accomplish it.  Fascism is business in partnership with the government unfettered by any restrictions that might lower the bottom line.  
I am always amused by people who vote against progressive public policy because, "No government is going to tell me what I can and can't do."  Right. Let's make sure that Goldman Saks, Enron and Monsanto tell us what we can and can't do.  Let's solve the opioid addiction problem by getting the government totally out of the drug regulation business. The drug companies will see the error of their ways and voluntarily give up the billions of dollars they make off selling the opioids they manufacture. 
The government should be the referee in the corporate world, not the team owner. The government should make rules and establish rulings that are not bias for one side or the other, but make the game safe and equal for all the players.  Right now we have a President who knows nothing else but corporatism and his similarity to Benito Mussolini in style and look are frighteningly obvious.  Unfortunately until America understands what fascism is, and what it looks like, we will be lead by big money.  Perhaps before this "Era" is over we will know how easily a country can become corrupted and never again elect a liar, cheater, narcissist and complete fool for the job of President.  Until then.... join the "resistance".
As you were,

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The National Mob Museum - Las Vegas

It was back in the middle 70's, coincidentally only a few days before my first appearance on "SOAP", when I flew with a very prestigious group to perform in Pennsylvania at a banquet honoring this man.  It was a weekend I will never forget.  I drop a name or two just because, well, they were there too. 
I was told by my manager at the time, who also handeled Andy Griffith and Frankie Avalon, that this was a banquet of "made men".  The manager told me to "shut up, keep my eyes open and don't ask any questions." We were honoring a man named, Russell Bufalino. So when I visited the National Mob Museum I wondered if they would have any information about Russ, so I went looking for his name.  I found it along with his picture. It reminded me of that interesting week-end in Pennsylvania. There are so many stories that came from that show weekend but one is shorter than the others. I feel the need to write about it.

The banquet was over and Andy Griffith and I stood in line to say thank you to the Honoree. Russ could not have been a nicer person.  He graciously invited Andy and I out for a night cap at a little pizza place at the edge of town.  It seems out of the group of performers doing the show that night, Andy and I were the only ones who had never met or worked for Russ.  
It was almost a scene out of a 1930's movie as we enjoyed a beer or two with "the guys". They loved the show, loved Andy, and if I was with him, I must be okay too.  They would give us big bear hugs and call us friendly names in Italian.  Once in a while the uncomfortable outline of a hand gun would press itself into my side as I was getting one of those hugs.  
It became obvious there was a pecking order in this group. The closer a person sat to Russell the higher up in the pecking order he was, with the exception of a few guys who were obviously drivers and body guards.  After a time Russell said he wanted to call it a night.  Andy and I got up thinking he party was over and Russell said, "No, No.  You guys don't have to leave. Stay. Enjoy." He turned to a big man who was one of the driver/bodyguards and said, "Stay with them and take them anywhere they want to go." It was more of an order than a request.  From that moment on this big guy was never more that an arms length away from us but never said a word.  
After a few more beers, Andy and I decided it was time to go back to the hotel.  The driver showed us to a standard black Limo parked in front of the "joint".  He  said,  "Gentlemen, where too."  Andy and I became two little kids.  Andy thickened his North Carolina accent and delivered the line as if it was straight out of Andy of Mayberry, "Well, let's see... I know this nice little place at 5th and 55th street in Manhattan, how about that, Jaaay".  I just giggled. We starting comparing notes on what we had experienced during the evening like we were the country mice in the big city, laughing and rolling our eyes.  
I'm not sure when we realized that the trip back to the Hotel seemed to be taking much longer than it should.  We were not seeing anything along the road  but Pennsylvanian country side.  There wasn't a city light to be seen for miles.   I think it crossed my mind that perhaps we had not done that good of a show and we were being taken out to a "special place" never to return.  Andy finally said to the driver, "Where is it that we are going?"  
The driver said "Fifth and fifty-fifth in Manhattan."  We both realized that the driver had taken Russell's admonition of  "take them anyplace they want to go" seriously.  We were off to New York City.  Andy finally said, "No I was just kidding we need to go back to the hotel."  Without a word the driver made a U turn on the highway and we headed back into town.  Had we not noticed, we would have been to New York around dawn.
We had chosen the wrong time and the wrong person to joke with. 
With my fascination for the "Mob" I would occationally see Russell's name came up.   I could not resolve the idea that the nice man who had been so gracious to me and Andy would also be so ruthless.  Russell is gone now.  I never saw him after that, but I will never forget him.  Some day when we are sitting around having a drink I will tell you the more juicy stories of that weekend. 
As you were,