The Hype Factory Keeps Crankin’ It Out

I learned via streaming video from Los Angeles that yesterday was “National California Day,” a fact apparently unknown to anyone outside of California, and probably to most inside the state as well. This comes in addition to September 9th being hailed as “California Admission Day,” in celebration of the State’s admission to the Union as the 31st state – something that actually matters but also something, which, I am fairly sure, most of the State’s residents don’t have a clue about.

Will the rest of the states also be given special “days” of recognition? Isn’t Cali already getting enough hype from the entertainment industry? Gotta wonder who dreamed this one up.

The more everything and everybody is proclaimed to be oh so “special,” the less anybody or anything actually is. For California, there is also the down side that the non-stop publicity and image-building have attracted so many people to the State, that its ability to continue delivering anything resembling quality of life is bursting at the seams.

Messing With Texas

For decades, the American Society of Civil Engineers has issued warnings about the terrible state of America’s infrastructure. Just recently, they advised that the nation’s needs are something in excess of two trillion dollars.

Is it possible that what’s happening in Texas is an example of just how bad things really are? Is Texas an exception, or simply the first of many areas to fall apart as our infrastructure continues to crumble under the strain of one weather event or another?

It’s true that Texas attracted much of its own trouble by disengaging from the nation’s power grid and then following a philosophy of deregulation and limited “government interference” in business. And yet that advisory from the civil engineers is by no means limited to Texas, and two-trillion is a very big number.

Gavin, Andrew and Al

First Franken and now Newsom and Cuomo. What a victory it will be for the Republicans if they can take out both Newsom and Cuomo, two of Party’s brightest shining stars. Both are media-friendly personalities, loved by the camera and critically tied to the Party’s future. At least they were. Sadly, like guppies, the Dems are so adept at devouring their own that it’s difficult to know to what degree and whether any one Dem politician is being targeted or is on a path to self-destruction.

It would be nice to see the Democratic Party to begin supporting its own, even if they’ve made some mistakes, as opposed to deriding and destroying careers. Moving forward with an air of self-assurance and strength rather than cowering in fear over one misstep or another. It’s what the Republicans do, and it’s worked for them.

You can be sure that had Franken been a Republican and not a Democrat, he wouldn’t have been treated like a felon, which is pretty much the position the Democratic Party took, steamrolling him into being the “Flat Stanley” of politics, even though Franken’s alleged “transgressions” took place before he had been elected to the Senate.

For many Dems, it appears forgiveness and second chances have become anathema. One wonders how many potentially great party members and future leaders will be scared off by Democratic purity tests. Is the Party at a point where saints only need apply?

Larry King, dead at 87

Got up today to find that Larry King had died at Cedars Sinai after being admitted for Covid-19 earlier this month according to Variety. I didn’t know him well, but like so many thousands of us in broadcasting and entertainment, I did know him and he did have an impact on my career. For no reason I can understand, he did me a huge favor.

The night of February 2, 1992, was a night like any other in Los Angeles (thank you Raymond Chandler). I was working the late shift at KTLA in Hollywood. Many of us were still trying to get our heads around what we had seen just a few months earlier when the station aired George Holliday’s tape of the Rodney King beating. A visual revelation that would eventually lead to the Los Angeles Riots, the biggest civil uprising in U.S. history. All that was still on the way. Along with the murders of Nicolle Brown and Ron Goldman. Things would get very busy very fast.

I walked into the newsroom to be greeted by one of the assignment editors who told me CNN had called. Ross Perot was going to announce his candidacy for president on the Larry King show and Larry wanted to give me the first interview with Perot, following the announcement. She didn’t have to say another word. My photographer and I were out the door and headed for CNN, just a few minutes away on Sunset Boulevard.

We got there to find all the media in L.A., and that was a lot of media, gathered outside the building’s rear entrance. In a move that felt like Moses parting the Red Sea, we walked through the crowd, up the sidewalk and were ushered into the building and to an upstairs hallway where Larry was waiting with his wife. My only other contact with Larry King, had been an occasional conversation in the green room at KTLA, or maybe in the newsroom, so I was absolutely perplexed as he said hello, introduced me to his wife, and then escorted us into the studio where he was about to do his live show. A few minutes later, Ross Perot showed up. Larry called me over and introduced me to Perot, telling the soon-to-be candidate that if it was okay with him, this guy he’d never met from KTLA wanted an interview once the show ended. Perot agreed, and my cameraman and I sat off to the side watching as he made his big announcement. Following the show we went over and got our interview, the very first Perot had done with anyone following his announcement that he was running for President as an independent.

For me, it was kind of a big deal. A real “get.” I must admit my head swelled a little, walking through all those other reporters and into the building ahead of the crowd. Thing is, I still have no idea why broadcasting icon Larry King gave me access to that first interview. Could have been he liked KTLA. Could have been he liked my work. The reason, I suppose, really doesn’t matter. All that matters for me, is that on one night in Hollywood, Larry King did me a huge favor, adding to his reputation as a real mensch. So, when I got up this morning and heard of his death, it hit me. Just like I’m sure it hit thousands of others he knew and had in some way touched during his many years on the air. Larry King, a conversational craftsman who could ask difficult questions without being difficult, was supposed to go on forever.

Thanks, Larry. You were a giant. May you rest in peace. I hope they put your suspenders in the Smithsonian.

Another Troubling Detail Following The Assault On The Capitol

Following the assault on the U.S. Capitol, the New York Times is reporting that “some members of the mob carried weapons and zip-tie handcuffs.” In addition to the relative ease with which the protesters were able to take over the building, their apparent intention to subdue individuals or to take hostages, raises a whole new set of questions.

Photos would appear to indicate this was more than a mob of the usual suspects. It appears there may have been professionals mixed in with the misguided Trumpists wearing horns and hardhats – some carrying fistfulls of zip-ties.

It has been suggested that the incident merits a full investigation by a 9-11 type commission. Considering how close the insurrectionists came to taking things further than then did, that might be a very good idea.

Covid-19 Cure Ignored?

There’s a question about Covid-19 that’s been haunting me for months. A cure, is a cure. A vaccine, is a preventative, which does nothing for those already inflicted with a disease. A cure, however, will cure those already afflicted. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

As of this writing, more than 16-million Americans are ill with Covid. That’s the number who have been tested. The real number is thought to be much higher. They need an effective treatment, a cure, and not a vaccine.

On 12/15/20, the San Jose Mercury News reported that “Covid-19 now kills more than one American every minute.” They needed a cure.

It appears we have a cure but that it was largely ignored in favor of a vaccine, which may or may not work all that well. In fairness, it could work really well, but we won’t know for a matter of months, as there are no long-term studies, just “warp-speed” results. In addition, we can’t be sure how many of us won’t be able to take it because of adverse reactions to the vaccine itself because there have been no long-term trials.

First, what may be a cure for Covid-19. It’s the Regneron Pharmaceuticals antibody “cocktail” that’s been given to Rudy Giuliani. One source calls it “REGN-COV2” a combination of monoclonal antibodies made in a lab. The same “cocktail” that had President Trump back on his feet and ready to go just a few days after being rushed to the hospital via helicopter. He must have been pretty bad for his doctors to call in the chopper rather than risk a 30 minute drive over to Walter Reed, right? And he was up and around a day later? If I get sick, I want what he got. Chances are though, I won’t be able to get it, and neither will you. We aren’t important enough, and there aren’t enough doses available. By one guestimate, there are only about thirty-thousand doses out there even though it appears to be a cure for Covid-19.

Rather than concentrating on the Regeneron “treatment” to cure those already ill, rather than pursuing something that appeared to work really well against Covid, our medical establishment focused instead on a vaccine, which, at the time, did not even exist.

When questioned about why this came to be, during an appearance on “The View,” Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said, “This is an area for a lot of frustration for a lot of us.”

I was stunned at what I was hearing. I’m no doctor, I don’t even know how to give somebody a shot, and yet here was this public health big shot on a national stage agreeing with me. When you’ve got a sure thing, it’s probably a good idea to go after it. We did not. The conspiracy-minded among us might wonder if the government and big pharma hadn’t sunk so much money and publicity into the search for a vaccine that other options were ignored? Big media was also very much on board, with outright promises that a miracle cure was on the way. They were wrong, it was a preventative and not a cure. The potential cure, was being overlooked.

“We should have made millions of doses and we didn’t,” the doctor said. “Now we’re at a point where we just have tens of thousands of doses – for the rest of us, that just isn’t an option,” he added.

In other words, the big guys, like Trump and Giuliani will be treated with it, possibly saving their lives, but there won’t be enough for the rest of us.

Isn’t there still time for the country to go to work on the Regneron Pharmaceuticals cocktail along with the vaccines? If we know it works, and since so much about the vaccines remains unknown, then why isn’t it happening? If I get Covid, I want the same treatment Donald got. I won’t even demand a helicopter. (And thank you Whoopi, for asking the question.)

Just A Political Hiccup

A Facebook friend in France posted a photo that really hit me. It’s a picture of a small group of U.S. ex-pats gathered around an American flag. The thirty or so people didn’t all know one-another, but they were all there for the same purpose. To honor another American, a veteran of WW II. They were all smiling and appeared happy to be there, regardless of their individual political persuasions.

It struck me that the photo is a portrait of the way we used to be, almost Rockwellian in nature, and I wondered if we might ever get back there again? Together in our support of the country, happy and smiling regardless of one political party or another? It led me to wonder if we have been so torn asunder by misinformation, disinformation, greed and anger that we’ll never be able to find our way back home?

I thought about those old sci-fi movies, where the Earth comes under attack by men from Mars, with all us earthlings forced to cast off our differences , coming together for the common purpose of survival of our species. “Is that what it’s going to take?” At that same moment it hit me that we’re already there, with the ongoing threat of Covid-19. However, instead of uniting us in a common goal, Covid has has been turned into a political weapon to separate us even more.

I dunno, this might be the big one, the one we can’t dig ourselves out from under – not when we can’t agree on whether facts are facts or Covid-19 is for real, even while it claims some three-thousand American lives a day. It’s a KGB dream scenario, a national implosion, as a constant stream of disinformation turns reality on its head, causing Americans to distrust one-another to the point that they’re ready to ignore a pandemic and sell out the country to a tyrant who never delivered on a promise to release his taxes while snuggling up to Vladimir Putin at every turn.

Really? Could it get any worse? Well, it does.

With more than one-hundred Republican members of congress signing onto a motion to set the election aside and effectively kill our democracy in favor of a autocrat, you have to wonder. Sure, the Supremes said “no” to the proposal to discard democracy by throwing out our free and fair national election, but millions of Americans, 38% of all Republicans according to one recent poll, continue to believe the election was rigged. Crooked. That the fix was in. And it was, except that they’ve got it backwards. It was Trump and not the Dems who tried to shut down the Post Office, to hamper mail-in voting. The Republicans, in fact, were fairly tripping over themselves in an effort to keep people away from the polls, particularly in areas populated by people of color. Imagine that.

And so I have to wonder, when I see a photo of smiling Americans, united in purpose, regardless of political persuasion. I wonder if we’ll ever get there again? Of if we were ever really all that united to begin with, replacing reconstruction with Jim Crow, leaving the open wound of the Civil War just sitting there to fester. For decades. Until now. The present. With an entire party working to throw out an election because they, the Republicans, the party of white America, the party that weaponized a pandemic for political purposes, lost.

And we still can’t admit that it was mostly about race? How do we get past that?

Millions of Americans who have been duped into believing the election was rigged aren’t going away. The forces that led them to believe that up was down, fact was fiction and fiction was fact, will still be with us. As will unlimited amounts of dark money flowing into our political process thanks to the Supreme Court’s unimaginably bad decision in the infamous “Citizens United” case.

2024 is coming and we are still in trouble. More trouble perhaps, than many of us can, or are willing to recognize. An honest analysis of the past, admitting that it was our forebearers constant striving to live up to the ideals of the founders that made us great, is just too difficult to face.

For those who would destroy our democracy, those who seek to eliminate our self-determination, the election of 2020 was just a temporary setback. Nothing but a political hiccup. History continues to demand eternal vigilance.

Is “President Harris” Even Possible?

After four years of Trump, it’s okay to be a little giddy about the Biden/Harris win. That said, I worry that Kamala Harris, beloved by some on the progressive side of the party, might sink the Democrats in 2024 if the Republicans come up with a moderate like Mitt Romney to run against her.

Joyous as I was to see Joe Biden’s win, marking a return to sanity for our Federal Government, I was equally alarmed that the Dems chose Harris as his running mate. I fear she may be a little too happy, a little too far to the left for a great many moderate and right-of-center Americans. If a woman was mandatory for the ticket, then Susan Rice would have been a better choice. She projects an inner-strength that Harris simply does not have, and she does it on camera, which is all-important. Would Reagan have been elected were it not for his on-camera persona?

So, I’m happy Biden was elected, but feel the Dems blew it with regard to his running mate, who, it is clear, is already being groomed to take over in four years, if she can get elected. I doubt that she can. The possibility of another four years of Trump, makes me shudder.

The Dems need to stop making decisions based upon what would be “just wonderful!” and need to get closer to baseline reality regarding who will be electable in a politically volatile country.


I had just turned on the tv and settled into my favorite chair with a cup of coffee to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade when an ear-shattering alarm blasted out of my smartphone. As freaky clowns on roller skates paraded by I read the message, “Public Safety Alert – In PA Covid-19 rates are rising and hospitals could soon be at capacity. Stay home if possible.”

Feels like the Vietnam War all over again, except with a higher fatality rate. Good luck, everybody.

Almost Back

The farther away from Trump we get, the better I feel.

It started yesterday, when the man who would be dictator finally gave the GSA permission to begin the official transition to the Biden Administration, providing an office and financing from the federal government to get it done. I don’t know why Trump finally caved, maybe because of all the Republicans admitting that our Constitutional Republic is worth saving and pressuring him to do so. Maybe the ghost of Washington, paid him a midnight visit. All I know is that for the first time in nearly four years I was able to take a deep breath.

Today, things improved even more, as my wife and I watched Joe Biden introduce his first cabinet picks to the country. The contrast between what we’ve been putting up with for the past four years and the people Biden is bringing in is almost beyond belief, a comparison between a political clown car threatening chaos on a daily basis on one side and a group of qualified professionals who promise intelligence and stability on the other.

I must admit to being moved by what I saw. Watching adults re-enter the room after such a lengthy absence was a somewhat emotional experience. It got to my wife as well. I noticed her wiping away a tear or two. Later, it was gratifying to know that a hard-bitten journalist friend, a former network correspondent, had the same reaction.

I decided to fly our flag, something I do only on special days. Today felt special. It felt like we were really and truly getting our country back.

It felt somehow appropriate that all of this would be followed by Donald Trump pardoning a turkey. The universe finally handing him something he was qualified to do.

Happy Thanksgiving. Wear a mask. It’s been one helluva ride, but we’re almost there. We’ve almost gotten our country back.

Another New Outrage

With each day comes another new outrage. Most recently it’s news that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, is ending several emergency loan programs designed to help small business during the Covid epidemic. At almost the same time, Donald Trump emerged from the White House to proclaim the pharmaceutical industry spent millions to defeat him in the last election and that he is now researching ways to cut into that same industry’s profits.

At least I think that’s what he said. If not, just wait a while and he will. There’s a new word-salad about to tumble out of his mouth at any moment.

It would seem bizarre for Trump to wait until the very end of his Administration to go after big pharma, a move that will benefit millions of Americans, except that this is Donald Trump, a man who has been continually heralded for his mental instability and childlike need for revenge against those he perceives as enemies. Meaning, anybody who does anything other than lick his boots and send him money.

Mnuchin, denies the cuts he has ordered are another attempt to leave the country in the worst shape possible prior to the handover to the Democrats in January. So why do it at all, considering the state of the economy and the worsening pandemic? Could it be for the same reason the country has no uniform plan to fight the pandemic while weary healthcare workers say they feel abandoned and unsupported? Of course it is. It’s because Donald Trump continues to occupy the Oval Office, a continuing travesty promoted by the Republican Party.

It is nothing short of a modern miracle of digital subterfuge that there are still people who support this man in a country held hostage by Twitter. Unfiltered information provided free of charge to a dumbed-down cult of Trump, eagerly awaiting their next emotional fix.

If Donald Trump leaves us with nothing else, it will be our first presidency by Twitter and tweet. A certain sign that our very own technology has outstripped our ability to deal with what we’ve created, leaving unreason and chaos to take the day.

Without Shame

Just learned that yesterday’s Giuliani “news” conference, with hair dye (?) streaming down both sides of his face, was held at RNC headquarters in DC. Unbelievable and disgusting.

While so much of what DJT does is beyond belief, you have to wonder what his next move will be after a sufficient number of electors fail to throw the election for him? Years ago I read somewhere that the Electoral College was developed to keep the country out of the hands of a demagogue. You can be sure the founders never imagined it might be used to keep a demagogue in power. That said, who do you suppose is coming up with this stuff, as DJT clearly is not bright enough to have developed this strategy to bring down American democracy on his own.

What else do you suppose they have in mind between now and January 20th and who will defend us against it, with Republican Party leaders who failed to convict in the Senate, cowering in the shadows like whimpering idiots held hostage by DJT, threatening to bring them all down with a few keystrokes on social media?

History will clearly record the culpability of Republicans in congress for enabling a madman, keeping him in power while the threat to the Republic steadily increased, but how many will actually believe it? How many will be able to sort out the truth from bald-faced lies as we move forward into a new age of digital deceit, with growing numbers of Americans accepting any and all conspiracy nonsense thrown before them by a wave of new-age media, some of it social and without adequate constraint on the Internet and others on the far-right, masquerading as mainstream, but without shame or a sense of decency, feeling no consequence for the outcome of their actions, even if that means bringing the world’s greatest democracy to its knees.

We Need More Sam

SAM IS BACK? How refreshing to see a guest appearance by Sam Donaldson on the Chris Cuomo show on CNN last night. It was equally refreshing to hear Cuomo invite him to return on a regular basis as a guest commentator. If he accepts, his appearances will serve as learning moments for young journalists and others, interested in how news is supposed to be done. Would love to see Sam one-on-one with Donald for just five minutes. They’d have to strap Donald to a chair to prevent him from leaving the room, but I’d love to see it.

One of my favorite Sam moments is from the 80’s, when I was working for KABC in Los Angeles. I had just finished an interview with some congressman (can’t remember who) on the tarmac at LAX. As he was leaving he turned and said, “…and you tell Sam Donaldson, that he’s a son of a bitch!” It was a moment for me, and that’s how much politicians feared and hated Sam Donaldson. The comment was a badge of honor. Sam, is one of the greats.

(For you purity test snowflakes out there, I am speaking figuratively about the chair-strapping. I do not approve of holding anyone against their will for an interview.)

The Dems Need To Dial It Down

Last night’s ” Bill Maher show was well worth watching, particularly the last ten minutes with his analysis of how badly the Democratic Party stands to get stomped in 22 and 24 if they don’t reign in their special interest purity test promoting extremists. In short, their wild-eyed push for “inclusion” stands to blow them right out of the electoral water. How many people even know what the hell that actually means, as though it has any standard meaning at all? People fear what they cannot understand.

I’m progressive. I’ve been in a”woke” mode since the 60’s. I was actually there, unlike so many younger people who now want to preach to me and others of my generation regarding what they think we should believe based upon what they naively think we do not know.

The 60’s were a bitch. Only those who were there can fully understand the scope of what went down . The threat to the Republic is now even greater. Somehow the Democratic leadership has got to get AOC and a few others to stand down and chill out, turning off their PC “purity test” meters to a degree that the party becomes more attractive to a broader base by appealing to, as Bill Maher put it, “common sense.” The alternative is to continue the infighting over PC/special interest issues and risk losing the country to Fascism.

How Could The Polls Be This Wrong?

We all deserve an explanation as to how so many reputable pollsters got this election so wrong. The same thing happened with Hillary, although not by such a wide margin. Is this a case of galloping incompetence (again), or is something more nefarious afoot? Seems to me the pollsters weren’t this far off the mark prior to 2016? They were occasionally off by one or two points but by nine or ten?