Sunday, December 28, 2014

Just Because They're Finally Staging the College Football Playoff...

Well, that doesn't mean that this football fan's going to stop using his computer to wage his own version of a 24-team shoulda/woulda/coulda NCAA Division 1-A college football playoff.

I wasn't sure what kind of decision the 13-member selection committee was going to come up with when College Football 2014 (regular-season style) was about to come to an end (after all, the first-ever CFP Poll had three Southeastern Conference teams among the top four clubs in Division 1-A). I thought it was just going to be the BCS-Plus-Two.

Me, I can live with what Jeff Long, Tom Osborne, Condoleezza Rice, and Co. came up with. 

I can live with a championship entry from each of four different conferences.

Still, I can't wait until this becomes an eight-team playoff...or a 16-team one. (Maybe the day will come when the NCAA takes over the 1-A playoff process.)

Maybe if Mark Emmert and his lieutenants ran this 1-A playoff, all ten of the leagues in that division- not just the five wealthiest leagues- would get automatic bids. 

If Emmert and Co. ran it the way I do, this year's D-1-A playoff field would look exactly like this:

1. Florida State (13-0; ACC champ)/2. Ohio State (12-1; Big Ten champ)/3. Alabama (12-1; SEC champ)/4. Oregon (12-1; Pac-12 champ)/5. TCU (11-1; Big 12 at-large)/6. Baylor (11-1; Big 12 champ)/7. Marshall (11-1; Conference USA champ)/8. Boise State (11-2; Mountain West champ)

9. Northern Illinois (11-2; MAC champ)/10. Michigan State (10-2; Big Ten at-large)/11. Mississippi State (10-2; SEC at-large)/12. Colorado State (10-2; Mountain West at-large)/13. Arizona (10-3; Pac-12 at-large)/14. Wisconsin (10-3; Big Ten at-large)/15. Georgia Tech (10-3; ACC at-large)/16. Missouri (10-3; SEC at-large)

17. UCLA (9-3; Pac-12 at-large)/18. Mississippi (9-3; SEC at-large)/19. Clemson (9-3; ACC at-large)/20. Arizona State (9-3; Pac-12 at-large)/21. Kansas State (9-3; Big 12 at-large)/22. Cincinnati (9-3; AAC at-large)/23. Central Florida (9-3; AAC champ)/24. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4; Sun Belt champ)

Actually, the Ragin' Cajuns are Sun Belt champs by proxy this time. Georgia Southern celebrated its first year of 1-A football by not only going 9-3...but also racking up an undefeated (8-0) SBC mark. But because the Eagles (with six Division 1-AA titles between 1985 and 2000) are still transitioning into 1-A football, they won't be officially able to qualify to taste postseason action in that division until next season.

You try asking the CFP committee (which also includes Archie Manning and Oliver Luck, two former NFL quarterbacks whose three sons between them have become famous NFL quarterbacks) how it came to pick Alabama as the group's Number One seed (leading to a date with fourth-seeded Ohio State) and how it came to select Oregon as the second seed (and Florida State the third banana).

They won't tell you.  

But I'll be glad to tell you how THIS 24-team playoff field got determined.

First of all, besides all ten D-1-A circuits receiving an automatic bid apiece, a point system is used, and it's not unlike the system your state's high school athletic association probably uses to determine football playoff seeding. 

A team receives 50 quality points for beating a 1-A club that had a winning record, 45 points for stopping a Division 1-A entry that suffered a losing mark or had a .500 season.

The club wins 40 quality points for defeating a Division 1-AA squad that racked up a winning campaign...and gets 35 for a victory over a losing (or .500) 1-AA team.

Yep...quality points are subtracted for losses, too: 50 for each loss to a winning 1-A team, 55 for every loss to a losing 1-A club (or one that won half its games), and 60 should our playoff entry lose to a successful 1-AA contingent.

And should that D-1-A playoff squad lose to a D-1-AA team that was .500 or worse...that's a loss of 65 quality points. 

In case a team wins all its games, the club receives 55 extra quality points...something that happened for Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles this time around.

This system's got tiebreakers, too. The first one is the number of games won by all the Division 1-A clubs that played the tied teams. (This season, Alabama and Ohio State each earned 520 quality points...yet because the Buckeyes' D-1-A opponents won a combined total of 87 contests, while the 1-A foes of the Crimson Tide racked up 83 wins, Urban Meyer's players got the second seed for 2014.)

Head-to-head competition is the second tiebreaker...and if the tied teams didn't meet during the regular season, conference records are examined. (This tiebreaker kicked in for 2014, since Arizona State and Clemson not only totaled 265 quality points apiece, but saw their Division 1-A foes win 74 games each. No, the Sun Devils and the Tigers didn't taste it up this it came down to the fact that ASU had a 6-2 Pac-12 record, topping Clemson's 6-3 ACC ledger.)

Had the circuit marks been the same for Todd Graham's and Dabo Swinney's teams, point differential would've been looked at...first in head-to-head competition, then in conference play, and next in all games.

If all else fails, the final step is a coin toss.

By the way...I'm going to use Lance Haffner Games' 3-in-1 Football to run this playoff cycle, and the games will be computer-vs.-computer style.

Can't wait to play these...and I'll give you the results as soon as possible.

Until then, may 2015 really rock for you! Thanks for reading this blog!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Couldn't Help but Move to the Groove

Time to end this month on a high fact, a bunch of them.

Those notes came out of a venue called the Waiting Room (6212 Maple St., 68104; 402 884-5353), where today, from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM, the featured artist was...actually, a bunch of featured artists.

The performers were the students and teachers from Omaha's very own School of Rock.

And man, they cooked!  

What attracted me to the outing was the fact that one of the rockers is young Ben Rosenberger, the drummer in our church's praise band. In fact, Ben's the praise band's youngest far.

School of Rock Omaha's outing had a theme: "Rock Timeline."

And you bet your blue suede shoes the young rockers started out with some 1950s stuff. (They really had it going by the time I finally arrived at the Waiting Room...2:12 PM. So...if the SOR students played and sang "Blue Suede Shoes," I missed it.)

Now, I did get to hear "Hound Dog," "In the Still of the Nite," "(We're Gonna) Rock around the Clock," and "All I Have to Do Is Dream," among other items. [By the way...Ben played tambourine on "(We're Gonna) Rock around the Clock."]  

And right from the time I got there, I found myself toe-tapping...and/or dancing to the beat. Just couldn't resist.

Another thing about the whole operation was that the School of Rockers formed five or six different bands (Ben himself was in a couple of 'em). As a result, every student got to tackle a different decade in rock...and that piece of strategy put the accent on versatility.

It all became clear when "Rock Timeline" moved into the 1960s.  

School of Rock versions of "Little Sister," "You Really Got Me," and "House of the Rising Sun" got my attention.

And "Sugar Sugar" (as sung by a six-year-old girl who sang lead in a half-male, half-female band) and "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" (in which a male keyboard player and a female lead singer featured on a number before that swapped roles so that he ended up singing lead while she played the keys) really stood out for me.

When the show barreled into the 1970s, I was still movin' and groovin' to the music of the SOR gang. Matter of fact, I found myself singing along to songs like "Superstition" and "My Sharona." And I really enjoyed Ben's drumming in "Psycho Killer."  

Speaking of drumming...two little boys and a little girl (all three of 'em playing drums as well as handling the vocals) turned in a "We Will Rock You" that set the house on its ear. (Well, I like to think so!)  

We also got a rousing version of "YMCA." (Where else can you hear this 1979 Village People classic done as 100% power pop?)

The school's Rock 101 class drove the proceedings into the 1980s; the first song in the set was "Should I Stay or Should I Go." (I got a kick out of this version, too.)

"Just What I Needed" turned out to be something I needed as well. 

A few songs later came the same band that turned in "Sugar Sugar." This time, they came back for a fine, fine version of "Billie Jean."

Well, the timeline marched to a halt with the 1990s, where the set included songs like "When I Come Around."
In this set, every band that performed during the show did an encore song.

Tell you one thing: Next time Omaha's School of Rock takes to the bar called the Waiting Room, I want to be there...I can't wait to see what Ben and Co. come up with next!

That's NOT Entertainment!

Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Howard K. Smith, and so many other pioneering television journalists would be turning over in their graves if these legends could find out just how their current legatees are handling this business of newsgathering.   

Sorry, folks, but I just don't see news as entertainment.

News is news...period.  

The way the TV arms of this country's six biggest media companies followed this month's recent national events- starting with the 2014 midterm elections- soured me on continuing to watch their offerings, be they on these companies' broadcast networks or on their cable divisions. 

That's more Hardball. No more 60 Minutes. Since the cable provider I've hooked up with dropped C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2 from the provider's basic lineup, the only meat I'm going to get when I turn on my TV set will come from PBS. 

Nobody else on the tube today is performing the role of watchdog.

TV reporters working for the commercial media firms aren't asking the tough questions...questions that help viewers get better informed.  

For instance, the TV reporters (and no telling how many other journalists in other media), while watching the Nuts (oops, I mean Republicans) retake the US Senate and solidify their hold on the US House, could've asked the new lawmakers- the ones vowing to get the Affordable Care Act repealed- to disclose their own replacement(s) for this law they hate so much. (Never mind that the components of the ACA were originally cooked up by GOP minds!)

These same journalists could've asked the Democrats seeking (and unable to gain) office to explain running away from their party's post-1933 accomplishments...let alone its post-2009 achievements.  

And the voters who just got through setting foot at their neighborhood polling places could've themselves used tougher questions...especially the voters in Florida, Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin. (People in those four states complained bitterly about their governors- Republicans all- misusing them. But that didn't stop those same voters from reelecting all four of them to second terms.)

Too much cowardice going on on the air...and I don't want to be in on it anymore.

In the meantime, I'll continue to read newspapers...and I'll continue to get right here on this Internet and go to the online versions of those papers, as well as sites like and   

Online, you're not as likely to run into the cowardice that's prevented correspondents from Big Media from asking John Boehner to explain not taking Steve King or Mo Brooks to task for their racist comments...or asking this country's Speaker of the House to talk about that meeting he and Mitch McConnell attended hours after Barack Obama's first inauguration. (You know, the meeting where McConnell, Boehner, and other key Republicans got together and vowed: "We're not going to work with this 'N-word!'")

And then there's the grand jury's decision in Ferguson, MO, where twelve people decided to let Darren Wilson go free. 

These last three-going-on-four months, the only outlet in which I saw any mention of the role White privilege has played in Wilson's murder of Michael Brown (it wasn't enough to take Brown to the police station) 

Would a reporter from CBS or CNN still have a job after addressing White privilege in America?  

Yes, Big Media, it's been quite a ride all these years of watching the news unfold on my (or my mom's or anybody else's) TV set. Lots of history being made.

But when your reporters aren't encouraged to ask tougher questions than the ones out there, and it's all because you're more concerned about profit and about glitz than about truth, it's time for me to get off the ship.

When I watch news on TV, I don't want to be entertained.

I want to be informed.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mourning in America

Did you vote this past Tuesday (if not sooner)? 

I did.

At a little after 12:00 Noon, I arrived at my neighborhood polling place (Omaha's Dundee Presbyterian Church) and spent the next 45 minutes filling out my four-page ballot, being careful to fill the circles completely. (Lots of candidates and lots of special ballot issues this time.)

Yes, I got home just in time to rest a little bit before going off to my factory job. Man, I was still fired up about having voted.

When I got home from work and turned on my TV set to find out just how this year's US midterm election went, I was furious.  

MSNBC's and CNN's election-coverage hosts were talking about how the Nuts had just snagged complete control of Congress.

That's right. I said "Nuts."   

The Associated Press had reported that America's voters, as a group, were in a funk over the state of the nation's economy. The online article that AP reporter turned in talked about how a sizable number of electors were displeased over the way Barack Obama had been doing things lately. 

What's more, the report stated that, in general, those who cast ballots this past Tuesday didn't like the leadership of either major political party. 

That didn't stop most voters from giving the Nuts enough seats to give them 52 Senate seats all together when the 114th Congress convenes on 1-7-2015. To top it all off, voters enabled the Nuts to extend their lead in the House. 

That's right. I said "Nuts." (After all, Republican leaders had chased the moderates out of that party...leaving the Nuts to dominate it.) 

The way I tell it, voters had no good reason to give the so-called GOP control of the US Senate while giving the party more US House seats than it's presently got. 

Voters: You really believe the people who shut down this country's government and who continually ignore your needs because you don't have Karl Rove's or David Koch's or Charlie Koch's money actually have your back?

This past Tuesday, you poured gasoline on an already-raging fire.

And when John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Co. get through, we're all going to pay. 

You've signaled that you've given up on this country. That's the only way I see it. 
Today's Republicans- especially the Washington ones- have already made it clear that they don't care about passing jobs bills or infrastructure bills or immigration-reform bills or stronger gun-control laws or raising the minimum wage (let alone making the Affordable Care Act- whose guts came from Republican minds to begin with- better).

They only care about getting Obama out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It's a question of time when it comes to how fast McConnell will call for a vote to repeal the ACA...and another one to impeach the nation's first non-Caucasian chief executive (simply because he's non-Caucasian).

You voters, as a whole, let that happen...and so did the ones who wouldn't darken a polling place this week.

Tuesday night, a coworker at my job asked some of her fellow crewmembers if they'd gone to the polls that day. 

It HURT to hear some of those coworkers say "no," let alone hear their excuses: "I didn't study up." "I didn't know it was Election Day." "I forgot." 

Not even the presence of a minimum-wage-increase initiative here in Nebraska could get those folks to the polls. (Luckily, this state's lowest wage, now $7.25 per hour, will go $9.00 an hour by 2016.)  

And what about the Wisconsinites who've been complaining about Gov. Scott Walker's antics...only to let him get back in? And the Kansans who've taken their governor, former US Sen. Sam Brownback, to task over his gutting education funds in the Sunflower State...only to reelect him anyway?

These people had better not complain the next time their governors throw rank-and-file citizens under the bus!  

Now I've got a message for the Democrats who lost a couple of days ago (especially the ones seeking national office or trying to upgrade their national gigs):


Democrats keep throwing away all sorts of votes in midterm elections because these people just won't stand up for their accomplishments. For instance, instead of sticking up for the ACA, too many Donkeys ran away from it! 


Alison Lundergan Grimes really didn't deserve to trade her secretary-of-state-in-Kentucky job for a US Senate seat from the Bluegrass State. It hurts to say that...but when Grimes didn't have the guts to say she voted for Obama (in at least one leap year), she probably lost a ton of support.

And Bruce Braley ultimately cut his own throat by saying that Chuck Grassley was just a farmer without a law degree. Not even an endorsement from The Des Moines Register could bail Braley out. (Sure didn't help Willard Romney in 2012.) 

You just don't knock farmers in Iowa...home of some of the world's most productive topsoil. I spent most of my childhood in Des Moines, and even I know you don't knock the men and women who feed the world.

What's more, I wanted Braley to win in the very state I came from! 

Instead, voters in the Hawkeye State elected Joni Ernst...only because of her cute little "hog castration" commercials.

You know what? Ernst is going to prove just as embarrassing to Iowans as- if not more embarrassing than- the newly-reelected Steve King. 

I can imagine all the meetings Ernst, Thom Tillis (North Carolina's newest US senator), and Ted Cruz are going to have to spread their nut-job ideas. 

So, there you are. I'm still angry about what just went down.

It's hard for me to see whatever silver linings emerged from this century's fourth US midterm election...even the fact that some Florida voters kicked the oily, despicable Steve Southerland out of the US House and replaced him with Gwen Graham, or the fact that here in the Cornhusker State, some of us voters threw Lee Terry Jr. out on his rear end and enabled Brad Ashford to get the seat. 

Now Terry the Younger can enjoy that "good house" a lot longer. 

Still, I'm at the point where I'm reluctant to turn on my TV set and watch the 114th Congress spend the next two years doing further damage to the American Brand.

But then, too many of us asked for this.


Friday, October 31, 2014

That's It! He's Got to Go!

I wanted to write this post a week ago...but circumstances prevented me from getting to it until now.

I'm still steamed at the campaign ads brought out by the National Republican Congressional Committee in support of US Rep. Lee Terry Jr. (R-NE) labeling his biggest challenger, Nebraska State Sen. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), as "soft on crime," and trying to tie him not only with convicted mass murderer Nikko Jenkins...but also with the Islamic State terrorists who've recently, among other things, lopped journalists' heads off.  

Terry's ads are a complete and total pack of lies. That's all there is to it.   

In one plug, Terry and the NRCC claim Ashford supports Nebraska's "Good Time Law," which gives prisoners a day off for every 24-hour period they spend behind bars without breaking prison rules. (This law dates back to the early 1990s.) 

Jenkins was sentenced to 21 years in jail...only to spend just a decade behind bars. (Didn't matter that while still in the pokey, Jenkins time and time again showed violent behavior.)

He was let out of prison last year...after which he killed four people in ten days. 

The NRCC's next commercial for Terry Jr. really took the cake, linking Ashford with the Islamic State people. 

That's today's Republican Party for you. When its operatives see one of their party's incumbents/candidates in trouble, they take the "Willie Horton" page out of Lee Atwater's book.  

Today's Republicans just love to sow fear rather than hope.

And then their spokespersons have the NERVE to wonder (often out loud) why their party continues to lose ground among voters.

I remember when Ashford was a Republican. Then he became an independent in order to try to get what was then (2013) Jim Suttle's job as mayor of the Big O. 

Now I see why the 64-going-on-65-year-old Ashford switched from the Elephants (as a state senator, he pledged the GOP from 1987 to 1995) to the Donkeys:

Ashford (back in the Unicameral since 2006) got sick and tired of all those Republican antics...especially that party's stunts of the last five years.  

Brad Ashford wants to get this country's minimum wage increased to $10.10 per hour, would like to target tax cuts to America's middle-income families, and is out to invest in the nation's education system and the country's crumbling infrastructure.

Terry Jr. doesn't want any of these things.

In fact, this namesake son of a legendary local news anchor (maybe you watched Lee Terry Sr. on KETV's Newswatch 7 during the 1970s) has participated in all fifty (and counting) House votes to strike down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010...and all fifty times, Lee Jr. has come out in favor of repealing this law.  

Ashford supports the immigration reform bill recently passed by the US Senate (the bill that puts border security first and also includes a tough-but-fair pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in these fifty states- and the pathway does come with a criminal background check, a requirement to repay back taxes, and a heavy fine, among other things).  

Lee Terry Jr. doesn't support the bill...and it's simply because of its pathway to citizenship. (How would he feel about the bill if the lion's share of undocumented immigrants coming to these shores were from Ukraine rather than Mexico?) 

Ann Ferlic Ashford's husband has said he'll reach across the aisle if elected to the US House.

Robyn Terry's husband isn't the moderate he and his supporters make him out to be. What's more, since LNT Jr. got to the nation's capital in 1999, his efforts to reach across the aisle have been some kind of rare. According to, the 52-going-on-53-year-old former Omaha City Councilmember has voted with his fellow Republicans 94.4% of the time here in 2014. 

During last winter's highly-infamous sequester, many US representatives gave up their salaries.

Not Lee Nathan Terry Jr.  

He decided to keep getting those paychecks on account of his and Robyn's ownership of "a good house" and the need to put one of their three sons through college.  

To top it all off, Terry fils bragged that he didn't give a crap about what happened to all those families affected by that sequester.  

How do you think Terry pere would've acted at a time like this?  

You know, Lee Terry Sr. wanted this US House seat...back in 1976.

But fellow Omahan John J. Cavanaugh defeated LNT Sr. and held onto that House gig for two terms.

Ashford's hoping to be the second Democrat since Cavanaugh (and first since Peter Hoagland) to represent the Cornhusker State's Second House District.

If you live here in Nebraska's Second House District, why don't you ask yourself: "What's Lee Terry Jr. ever done to help us rank-and-file citizens?"

If your answer turns out to be "nothing, nada, zippo," join me in getting Terry the Younger out of Washington, DC and sending Ashford there to replace him.

See you at the polls on 11-4-2014!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Hawkeye State

One of my pet interests is politics. (Okay...if you've read "Boston's Blog" for any length of time, you get that I'm into politics as well as being into many other things.)

And from time to time, I've mentioned that I was born in, raised in, and educated in Iowa. 

I reached voting age while living in Iowa. In fact, the very first year I could actually cast an official ballot was 1976, and the very first move I made as a registered voter was to pull the lever for Jimmy Carter.


That's right. The Hawkeye State.

The Reasonable State.  

It's the first state you visit if you have any iota of interest in becoming America's next commander in chief. After all, every leap year means that Iowa's the first state to get to decide who ought to be the Last Two Standing that November. 

The state I was born in- its reputation as The Reasonable State notwithstanding- inexplicably (or with good reason, depending on your point of view) sent a man named Steve King to the US House next month in 2002. 

If you've been watching TV these last dozen years, you've seen King interviewed on lots of political-discussion shows and seen him make plenty of sound bytes...and seen him make plenty of remarks that make you wonder: "Was this man really born in Iowa? Who let him out?" 

I'm going to go Natalie Maines (remember her from the Dixie Chicks?) and say: "I'm ashamed that Steve King came out of the same state I did: Iowa." 

When Iowa's junior US senator, Tom Harkin, announced that he was going to kick back after spending forty years in Washington (first as a US representative), some political pundits thought King would go after Democrat Harkin's seat and give it back to the Republicans...and, in the process, make the exact same move Harkin and Republican Chuck Grassley did: Supersizing a US House seat into one from the US Senate. (Grassley officially became a US senator in 1981; four years later, Harkin got in...and went on to successfully champion the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by George Herbert Walker Bush in 1990.)

Yep..what a field day King and Texas' newest US senator, Ted Cruz, would have in that division of Congress, complaining about some people's "cantaloupe-size" calves (and plotting plenty of government shutdowns).  

As things have turned out, Reince Priebus and his pals in the Republican National Committee didn't need Steve King to run for the US Senate here in 2014.

With US Rep. Bruce Braley looking to keep that Senate seat in the hands of the Donkeys, his biggest challenger is a state senator from Red Oak...a woman known for her "hog castration" commercials.

Iowa's one of the few US states still yet to elect a woman to Congress.

This year, it might elect two...or one...or none.

One thing's for sure: I'd rather see Staci Appel get Tom Latham's US House seat than see Joni "Hog Castration" Ernst beat out Braley to replace one of Congress' leading lights, Harkin.  

Jimmy Fallon might like Ernst's campaign commercials...but if he ever decided to pull back the curtain and see behind the hog-castration demonstrations, The Tonight Show's newest host might not be so quick to fall in love with this farmer-turned military veteran-turned Iowa state senator. 

First of all, at a time when more and more American workers continue to lose their buying power [due to 33 years (and counting) of GOP-led assaults on the nation's middle-income and low-income families], Ernst doesn't want the country's minimum wage increased.  

I'd like to see her try to live on $7.25 an hour...let alone raise a family on that amount.  

Second, Ernst wants to criminalize abortions...across the board.


End of discussion.  

Iowa's latest Republican nominee for a US Senate gig has called Barack Obama a dictator...yet she probably, like so many of the Senate Republicans she's trying to join, just flat-out admires the job Vladimir Putin's doing heading up Russia's government. 

And you know that, if the GOP takes over the United States Senate next January, and Joni Ernst is part of the takeover, she'll stump for Obama's impeachment.

Ernst, last but not least, thinks the very US government she's trying to join gives the country's citizens practically everything, and has attacked large groups of people for depending on the very organization she's trying to join. 

I just got through reading, on, an article that talked of a 2013 radio interview Ernst was part of. In it, the Woman from Red Oak spoke of "reeducating" Americans about the values of being self-sufficient: "It's going to be very painful and we know that. So do we have the intestinal fortitude to do that?"   

Yeah, Joni. Right. It takes great intestinal fortitude to further penalize millions of wage-earning Americans who don't get to log in enough hours of work to try and support their families and other loved ones.  

In that same interview, Ernst complained about how Americans don't rely on family too much anymore...let alone on churches and on private organizations: "They used to have wonderful food pantries..." 

Those food pantries are still out there, contrary to Ernst's teachings. 

It's just that, in this day and age, the pantries are swamped.   

What do you expect when items in general continue to get priced out of the range of rank-and-file Americans...Americans who probably haven't received a raise in pay since Mike and Molly premiered?

When people can't financially contribute to churches and private organizations because those same people can't get raises in pay and, in too many cases, have to decide whether to purchase groceries or get the utility bill paid up for the month, and those same people find that their relatives are in the exact same boat, where are those same people supposed to an economy that, in the 1980s, got flipped from consumer-friendly to investor-friendly? 


Let's see Ernst answer that one.

You know, the last time a major political candidate went out to talk this same kind of trash, only to see that rhetoric go out nationally on TV, radio, the Internet, and every other medium you can think of...well, that candidate lost.

That candidate was Willard Mitt Romney...the same man who recently went to Iowa to fight to get Joni Ernst elected to the US Senate.  

Yep, we've heard so much about how this year's midterm election is THAT crucial...about how control of this country's Senate is at stake.

And we've heard about how it all could come down to whether those Iowans who decide to vote on 11-4-2014 want to let Braley take the next step up the political ladder...or if they want to bring Ernst in.

Really, Iowa...are you sure you want to take a chance on a woman who truly doesn't want you to make ends meet? 

Iowans: You sure you want to vote against your best interests, your self-interests?

Are you sure you want to put your reputation as the nation's Reasonable State on the line by giving Cruz another sidekick?


Monday, September 29, 2014

Madison, I'm Glad You're In There

Earlier this month, I went looking in the site and found out about a 13-year-old North Carolinian named Madison Kimrey.

This Daily Kos article introduced her as the girl who wrote a letter to Phyllis Schlafly, the woman most responsible for preventing the Equal Rights Amendment from becoming the law of the land. 

She took the hypocritical Schlafly to school. (The St. Louis native got her law degree in 1950...only to spend the last 64-and-counting years discouraging subsequent generations of young women from going for their own dreams. In fact, the only dream Schlafly wants for any woman is to Get That Man. That's all.)

I first heard about Schlafly during the late 1970s, the time of the last big 20th-Century push to get enough states to ratify the amendment. That hatemonger (okay, conservative activist) made my skin crawl back then and made my blood boil at the time...and still does these things to me. 

Schlafly and her colleagues spent so darned much time spreading their brand of lies (such as: "If the ERA passes, we're gonna have unisex toilets from now on!") that it made many Americans' heads spin. 

To sum it all up, in her letter, Kimrey stated that the whole point of the modern feminist movement has been to empower girls and women to make their own life choices to be anything they want to be...and that Schlafly and Co. have no business shoving their right-wing agenda down any woman's (or man's, for that matter) throat.

It's all about moving the country forward together...and, as Kimrey likes to say, "Not one step backward!"

The antics of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and his fellow Republicans in the Tar Heel State's GOP-yoked legislature are a real collective case in point.

Efforts by McCrory and his Raleigh teammates to cripple most North Carolinians' right to vote- and to make health care much less acessible over there- are the big reasons for NC progressives to get together for Moral Mondays...and Kimrey's been one of the big cogs in those Moral Monday protests. 

She's right: "If it can happen back home (in North Carolina), it can happen anywhere."

And that's where the rest of us come in.

Madison Kimrey is urging the rest of us to pay attention to the antics of Republican lawmakers (especially at the state and national levels)...and fight those efforts of GOP figures to take America all the way back to...anywhere from the 1610s to, at best, the early 1950s.

You REALLY believe that Charles Koch, David Koch, Karl Rove, and their fellow cheerleaders on so-called talk radio as well as the hosts on Fox Gossip (oops...I mean Fox News) Channel care about America's rank-and-file citizens? You REALLY think the lawmakers they praise have our backs?

Think a darned 'gain. 

Kimrey absolutely proves that you don't have to be an adult to get concerned about (let alone involved in) United States politics, regardless of level. 

If you think this teenager should just go back to playing with her dolls and leave this work for the adults, you just don't get it.

Aren't you tired of (mainly GOP) lawmakers' efforts to take longstanding issues and continue to kick them down the road for the next generation(s) to solve? 

Aren't you aware that, at the same time, those same (especially Republican) lawmakers are teaching their trainees to avoid working on fixing these longstanding issues...and teaching them to kick these issues down the road, too?

Madison gets it.

A couple of weeks ago, I started following her blog, 

And I'm proud to be one of her followers.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Still Don't Have a Good Reason to Go to the Polls This November?

Well, I can think of plenty of reasons for voting-age Americans to get out there on 11-4-2014 and cast ballots at neighborhood polling places (or by mail or online if you want to vote prior to November's first Tuesday).

According to an article that appeared online at on 9-1-2014, people who aren't interested in getting heard during the upcoming midterm election have roughly 55 billion reasons to get their voices heard.

In this case, I'm talking (and so was the article's author, nicknamed "Echochamberlain") about the $25.308 billion this country's Republicans have spent to undermine Barack Obama's presidency since officially regaining control of the US House on 1-5-2011 and the $30 billion twenty states have walked away from because their governors and legislatures rejected Medicaid expansion rather than getting involved with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. 

55.308 billion reasons to go vote on 11-4-2014. 

The $25 billion wasted by John Boehner's House of Representatives could've gone to fund (partially at least) a jobs bill or an infrastructure bill. [After all, all through 2010, Republican candidates and incumbents loudly proclaimed that they wanted to go to (or stay in) Washington, DC to bring jobs back to America. Remember?]

The only jobs today's Washington Republicans are concerned about are THEIR OWN gigs.  

Instead, the $25.308 billion were spent to fight the 2011 increase in the nation's debt ceiling ($1.3 billion), facilitate the 2013 government shutdown (the October shutdown removed about $24 billion from the US economy), and fund periodic hearings on the 9-11-2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya ($7 million spent) say nothing of the $350,000 to be spent on the 2014 lawsuit against Obama. [At least, that's the estimate US Rep. Candice S. Miller (R-MI) gave reporters after stating that the law firm Baker Hostetler would represent the House Republicans.] 

As for the $30 billion left behind by those 20 states (Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming): The money was supposed to expand health coverage to low-income citizens through the Medicaid program. 

Instead, the governors and/or state legislators decided they didn't mind seeing increased spending on uninsured citizens' unpaid medical bills. 

The excuse most often given by those states' lawmakers and by their spokespeople is: "It'll ruin our state's budget to expand Medicaid." 

Bull droppings! Expanding Medicaid takes up about 1% of a state's budget, and that's what a December 2013 report by the Commonwealth Fund said.

Texas alone walked away from $9.2 billion because Gov. Rick Perry wouldn't expand Medicaid. Florida's out $5 billion on account of Gov. Rick Scott making the same decision. 

And when Gov. Pat McCrory said "NO!" to expanding Medicaid, he pushed aside the $2.6 billion North Carolina would've received from the US government.

Here in Nebraska, Gov. Dave Heinemann thought having a new airplane for the Cornhusker State was a better deal than expanding Medicaid for just 41,000 Nebraskans. 

Result: Nebraska can't get $738 million in Federal money.

How much longer do we have to PUT UP with this?

When answering opinion polls, millions of Americans- majorities, at that- proudly talk about how they're for adding jobs, repairing America's infrastructure, making our schools more effective, tightening this country's immigration laws, making its gun-control laws more effective, and making the Affordable Care Act stronger instead of repealing it. 

Yet those millions either vote against their own best interests or refuse to go to their neighborhood polling places at all...and can't understand that a midterm election is just as important as any other kind of election.  

Some people even use gerrymandering as an excuse for deciding to watch the election results on TV rather than being a part of those results. 

You still feel you don't have a good reason to vote on 11-4-2014?

Try this on for size: Millions of Americans throughout our history have put their lives on the line- and many have DIED- to not only keep this country on the map, but also to protect and even expand the right to vote.

They've done it not only at places like Bunker Hill and Chateau-Thierry and Iwo Jima and Pork Chop Hill and Hamburger Hill and Baghdad; they've done it at places such as Seneca Falls and Birmingham and Selma.

When we refuse to vote ("I don't like either candidate!"), we thumb our noses at all the people who fought to protect and expand the right to vote. And when we give in to Republican efforts to make it harder for people to cast a ballot, we thumb our noses at the people who fought to make sure everybody eligible to vote can do so.

We've got absolutely NO excuses...especially with this Republican-controlled House, a House whose contempt for America's rank-and-file citizens is some kind of legendary.

You say you don't like where America's going?

Want to make it better?



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Is This What You Want, America?

Funny...I remember being told that the United States entered World War 2, sent troops to Korea, and put soldiers in Vietnam- to say nothing of deploying fighting men and fighting women in Iraq and Afghanistan- to stop totalitarianism.

I didn't think totalitarianism (in one degree or another) would get a foothold, let alone thrive in too many places, on these shores.

It's been 22 days now since 18-year-old high-school graduate Michael Brown was shot and killed in his home town of Ferguson, MO, by one of that city's police officers, Darren Wilson.
Several nights of tense protests ensued after Wilson and his fellow Ferguson Police officers gave conflicting reports about the events that led to Brown's killing; the protests came about, too, because of mounting frustration over the lack of detailed information made available to the general public about just what took place to cause Wilson to fire those six bullets.

Within a couple of days of the death of Brown, armored trucks and other military hardware were seen in the streets of Ferguson.

Not Kiev, Ukraine. Ferguson, MO, USA. 

To top it all off, that same police department fired tear gas (8-13-2014) at an Al Jazeera America TV crew to prevent that crew from taping coverage of the protests taking place in this St. Louis suburb. 

And two other reporters- The Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly and The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery- were detained by another FPD officer at a local McDonald's the very night the Al Jazeera America crew faced tear gas. 

It didn't make one bit of difference that Lowery, Reilly, and the crew from Al Jazeera America were just doing their jobs. 

Things would've been much worse if Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon hadn't called on Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Patrol to take over the policing of Ferguson from the St. Louis County forces and the Ferguson Police. (Johnson- a man from the St. Louis area- even walked with the protesters the night he took over.)

Yes, at the core of it all was the robbery of a convenience store in Ferguson. And yes, the FPD named Brown as a suspect. 

It's also true that Brown was unarmed and had no criminal record coming into 8-9-2014...and that the initial contact between the 28-year-old Wilson (a six-year FPD veteran) and the 18-year-old Brown had nothing to do with the robbery...a theft that took place ten minutes before the killing.  

Wasn't it enough for Darren Wilson to just take Michael Brown to the police station?

Since when did being suspected of robbery warrant death to the unarmed suspect at that?   

I mean, James Holmes got treated better by police. 

Me, I don't know about how the same Aurora, CO police responsible for catching Holmes would've treated the Ferguson protesters.

But I do know I've read where, in the past, Ferguson's Finest (?) have harassed school children...including one who was just going to the mailbox of the child's own home. 

And if you're walking down one of Ferguson's thoroughfares, even if it's the one you live on, chances are one of Ferguson's Finest (?) will stop you...just for the hell of it.

I've been thinking that that city of 21,135 (2012 estimate) doesn't have a police department.

It's got a Gestapo.  

And this country's got too many cities where, depending on what you look like, you'd just better not be caught walking down this or that street- even if it's the street where you live and you're trying to get home.  

I recently read online about a man from St. Paul, MN, who was waiting at a shelter over by the First National Bank Building there. He was waiting on his children...but that didn't stop a bank employee from calling the police on him and getting him arrested. (Supposedly, it was his dreadlocks...and, oh, yes, his skin color.)  

If you're an American and you happen to stumble onto this post, you might want to ask yourself if the city you live in, if it isn't Ferguson itself, is a Ferguson-to-be...or has already had a Fergusonlike incident in recent years.

There's just no reason for a SWAT team to invade a rather peaceful protest. And there's no excuse for a police officer to let his dog desecrate that makeshift memorial (flowers and candles) at the spot where Brown died- the spot where Brown lay for four hours without medical attention.

48 of Ferguson's 53 officers are a city where two out of every three residents are Black.

Are you adding this all up? 

Despite US Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) calling for an end to the militarization of America's police departments, many of Paul's fellow Republicans keep saying we shouldn't continue to shine the Big Light on Ferguson. They're also angry over efforts to get more Fergusonites to get out to their neighborhood polling places...especially on 11-4-2014.  

You know what, Republicans? That's YOUR tough luck!

If you're going to continue to talk glowingly and eloquently about freedom, then you've got absolutely no business calling for the transformation of "the country whose very name means freedom" into a police state.

I applaud those Fergusonites who now are calling for an end to their city's record as an Information-Age East Berlin.  

How about you? 

(By the way...sources for information for this post included Wikipedia and

Monday, August 18, 2014


Yesterday afternoon, I made it out to the Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center (20th and Farnam Sts., Omaha, NE 68102) to check out the River City Theatre Organ Society's (a club I joined in 1984, the year it celebrated its first birthday) annual extravaganza.

Darn right it was a humdinger!

The featured artist was Portland, OR native- and theatre organ legend- Jonas Nordwall. 

Right from the start of the concert, Jonas showed the style that's enabled him to perform on four continents (North America, Asia, Australia, and Europe). It's a style where he's equally adept at both classical playing and pop music.

The outing was titled "A Sentimental Musical Journey," and Jonas started out with (what else?) "Sentimental Journey."

Right after that, he told the Rose Theater's audience (the place was 90% full) that a sentimental musical journey doesn't always have to be confined to the songs of the 1930s and 1940s...then he went out and proved his point by going back to the venue's three-manual, 21-rank Wurlitzer pipe organ (built in 1927) to fire up three tunes that were popular in the 1960s: "Spanish Flea," by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass; "Unchained Melody," which was popularized in the 1950s by Roy Hamilton, Al Hibbler, and bandleader Les Baxter (in separate recordings) before the Righteous Brothers got hold of it a decade later; and Frankie Valli's first smash as a solo artist, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." 

Jonas didn't leave the 1950s behind, covering that decade with Erroll Garner's most famous tune, "Misty." And the man with thirty highly-acclaimed recordings to his credit jumped into the 1980s by stringing together four numbers from "Les Miserables," including "Bring Him Home" and the one that made a name out of Susan Boyle, "I Dreamed a Dream."  

Just YOU try to tell someone it's impossible to feel sentimental about the Carter-Reagan-Bush the Elder years.  

Jonas showed his classical side by playing Manuel de Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance," and to top off the first half of the extravaganza, our featured artist cued a 1929 silent movie, "Big Business." (In it, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy tried to sell James Finlayson a Christmas tree. And no, Stan and Ollie weren't successful.)

Jonas Nordwall's got the kind of music you can close your eyes and really visualize. 

Well, I like to think so!

The organist for Rip City's First United Methodist Church came back out for the second half of the show by knocking out "Pietro's Return," a 1913 march by accordion legend Pietro Deiro. Jonas- who took up the squeezebox at the age of four- then shared an anecdote about Pietro's brother Guido...who happened to be married for a time to Mae West. (That's right...THAT Mae West!)  

Then Jonas turned the show over to another accordion legend...Omaha's very own Johnny Ray Gomez.

Jonas actually turned it over to a two-man band, for it was Johnny Ray and his namesake son, keyboardist Johnny Ray Gomez IV.

Johnny Ray- actually Johnny Ray III- teamed up with Johnny Ray the Younger to deliver a lighthearted, freewheeling, rollicking set that started out with a mashup of "12th Street Rag" and "The Glow Worm." The Two Gomezes then fused together "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Only You (and You Alone)," two of the biggest hits recorded by the Platters...the singing group Johnny Ray IV served as music director/pianist during the second half of the 1980s before he came back to Nebraska to start his own music production company, OnTrack, Inc.

Johnny Ray the Elder then stated: "We haven't done a polka."

And that was all the more reason for the Two Johnny Rays to switch the music to the durable "Just Because."

JRG IV got the spotlight next as he and his dad eased on into Floyd Cramer's "Last Date," followed by JRG III musically paying tribute to those veterans (and veterans' spouses) who'd made it to the Rose.

Their last tune together was Vangelis' "Chariots of Fire," featuring the keyboard work of IV.

After that, I was hoping that the three men would take the next tune(s).

Didn't happen yet...for Jonas went back to the Wurlitzer and covered the next two numbers by himself: "My Way" and "The Stars and Stripes Forever," the former a tribute to Joyce Markworth, the RCTOS member (and club president Bob's wife) who unexpectedly passed away this past March. 

The two numbers proved to be enough to merit Jonas a well-deserved standing ovation...and that ovation proved to be enough to lead Jonas and the Two Johnny Rays to, at last, team up...for "Sweet Georgia Brown."  

Well, that did it...RCTOS really nailed it. Made those hundred of people at the Rose happy...happy to be witness to three legends.