Author Archives: almayo2013

About almayo2013

Broadcast fossil, and political reporter moonlighting as a curmudgeon.

A Remembrance, and A Beginning on Father’s Day.

PREFACE–I wrote the following piece a couple of years ago, mostly as a way to document and remember my Father and some things he taught me. Since then, I have posted it every Father’s Day weekend. This year I post it with special love and affection for my niece Maddy White.  She just graduated from high school with more honors than I can begin to count, and has been–will be–a credit to all her “Grandaddy” believed and wanted for ALL his children and grandchildren. I could be a better Uncle, and I have been at a loss just what to say to Maddy upon her recent milestone. While I do have something on the way to her of a material fashion, no present can ever measure what she means to us all, and how much she is truly loved. Sweet Maddy, this might be the best gift I can give you. To remind you that you come from the strongest stock, and some of the strongest women in the world.  I love you and I sit in awe of you, your intellect, and your ability to love and be loved. I hope you enjoy this. I am SO proud of you!

My Father: A Political Journey

My Father was not in politics, but he was an avid student of the political wars, and passed it on to me. So, I suppose it’s all his fault that I’m writing this. He was born in a small West Virginia town, but was fiercely proud of his heritage. A small village nestled in the Allegheny Mountains was his place of origin, and also the place we laid him to rest not all that long ago. While I was floating along a river over the Mother’s Day weekend, I found my thoughts travelling to him.

My Dad was a War Baby as he called himself. Born in 1940, his earliest political memories were of Franklin Roosevelt and how much West Virginians loved FDR. All of them except my Great Grandfather who called him Rosenfelt. He never liked FDR for some reason, but I digress. Dad was a good student and ended up at Berea College for a short time, but came back to West Virginia to do what he really loved.

My Dad was a pattern maker in the foundry business by trade. He built wooden patterns for iron moulds. In other words, if a company made glass ashtrays, there has to be an iron mould for it. But, before the mould can be built, there must be a hand-built wooden pattern. That’s what my Dad was good at, and he came up the hard way. Not as a master of his trade, but as an apprentice. Wood patterns became obsolete years ago, but my Dad still loved working with wood. Examples of his furniture building are legendary. Professionally, he realized he needed to expand his knowledge and he did, by learing the foundry business inside and out. Eventually, he became a respected figure in his chosen field.

Politically however, it was a longer, more convoluted journey. From the FDR of his childhood, he progressed–or regressed some say–to voting for Barry Goldwater. I was only three, and my sister was born the very day LBJ hammered the Man From Arizona, but when I found this out later in my life, I never let him off the hook. Why? Because in just eight short years my Dad went from political neophyte to progressive liberal. He voted for George McGovern, and was proud to proclaim it loudly. I was eleven when Nixon trounced McGovern, and I thought it was the greatest thing in the world! What did I know? I was convinced keeping Nixon was what was normal, and right. This contributed greatly to my feelings of betrayal and scorn when Nixon’s later issues forced him out. Mention Nixon to me now, and you will not get pleasant conversation from me.

My Dad meanwhile, moved to Wisconsin. Close enough to Madison for the liberal politics to not only rub-off, but get totally under his skin. My first time visiting, I recall his stories of Paul Soglin. Soglin was a UW Grad student who ran for Mayor of Madison, and won. Not just once, but several terms. In fact, Soglin is Mayor of Madison right now. His third stint in office, so Dad was onto something and he knew it. The fatal bombing of Sterling Hall on the UW campus was still fresh in everyone’s mind, and liberalism was rampant wherever Dad turned. He watched, he listened, and he passed it on to me. Not in any overt ways, but just by exposing me to what he saw and knew. He drove me around the UW campus, and I saw Sterling Hall. I also saw Mifflin Street where the infamous student activist block parties were held in 1968. He educated himself in these matters, and as a result, taught them to me. He also taught me another valuable lesson. Wherever you are, learn about that place. It makes you understand the people, and places you inhabit, and you are forever enriched.

Dad was a vocal and proud supporter of Jimmy Carter. He felt like Carter was the fresh face Washington needed, I agreed and was by that time old enough to understand and appreciate the politics of the country. Sadly Carter did not live up to our ideals, but was certainly one of the most decent men to ever hold the office. When Carter ran for re-election, I was old enough to vote at last, but could not bring myself to cast a ballot for him or Reagan. I wrote-in Senator John Anderson, and have never once been ashamed of that. Dad? Well he voted for Dick Gregory! Who got quite a kick out of hearing that from me 27 years later.

As I went through my adult life, I voted in every election. I voted for candidates of all parties. One thing Dad instilled in me was to vote for the person, not the party. When I began covering politics full time, he seemed to get quite a boot out of it. I can recall several times on the phone with him driving home after a long day in Frankfort. He wanted to hear every detail. I like to think I made him proud. But I have to thank him for my political life. He gave me the interest, and the insights to make my own choices. I was able to have good relationships with both Democrats and Republicans in Frankfort. That’s all because of what he taught me.

My Dad had a tough last few years. Wracked by illness, and pain, he never seemed to lose the zest for politics. Sadly, he just couldn’t keep up with it as well in his later years. Every press conference I attended. Every candidate I interviewed. Every rally I attended. Every story I filed. All I could think was, “I wish he could see me now.” I admit a bit of hubris on my part, and he was easily able to wring that out of me. In 2007, part of my head appeared on the New York Times web site in a picture. I could not wait to tell him, and his response was less than charitable. Something along the lines of when I got a story in the Times, I should be excited. I deserved it and I knew it!

I guess my whole reason for this piece, is to show that people can work together, and voters can vote for the best people. Not an ideal or philosophy. Not only can we do it, we should celebrate that idea. Dad managed to come full circle in his life. When we laid his ashes to rest, it was within a half-mile of the building where he was born. I think his political journey was a pretty good trip too. A great example for all of us on how to listen, absorb, and evolve.

Election ’16–Purging The Toxins

Since last Tuesday, I have been struggling with many questions, just as I know many others are doing right now. But I’m not quite as worried as some people believe I should be, given the outcome of the election. I hope I can explain this without sounding like an apologist or wishy-washy. Am I happy Donald Trump has been elected? No. Of course not. But the total gloom and doom isn’t something I agree with or believe.

The one, overriding thing everyone needs to remember is that this is how our country works. America can’t be satisfied. Someone, in every city you visit, is upset at any given moment with the President, or government. The end result of this is that during periodic election cycles, The United States has to throw-up all over itself, and expel the toxins.

THAT’S why we have upheavals, and 180 degree turnarounds in our leadership preferences. Every administration, no matter their political bent, eventually wears out the welcome and voters make changes. Pay attention to what I wrote in that last phrase. THE VOTERS MAKE CHANGES.

We saw it with Barack Obama, when millions showed up to elect him twice.  We also saw it with George H.W. Bush who lost to Bill Clinton in an election that he should have won easily. We saw it with Jimmy Carter who lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Sooner or later the country convulses and either burps or pukes. and we force change. It’s always difficult for someone. The Left or Right always will have discontented people. It’s the price of change. But discontentment can, and has forced people to sit up and notice what they either did wrong, or how they can become stronger.

I’ve also been telling fearful people that the peaceful transfer of power is THE hallmark of our country and signals the rest of the world that, no matter how it might seem to them, we got it right in our system of government.

As for the balance of power in the Supreme Court. I’m not that concerned. First of all, no one has died or retired yet.  Second, the Court normally gets it right. Oh sure they still screw up. Citizens United leaps to mind. But once a Justice walks into the building, they work, and rule via rule of law–and this is important–by citing precedent. One thing to know is that the Supreme Court is loathe to even consider cases that were already decided by their own body.  You have to keep in mind that the current court upheld Obamacare, and handed down the Obergfell Decision (gay marriage). Something few expected with Conservative  Chief Justice Roberts at the helm of the court. Roberts even cast the swing vote on Obamacare.

As for obliterating all of the changes made by the Obama Administration? Some of it might be affected, but the wholesale steamrolling simply will not be nearly as likely to happen. Primarily because the GOP won’t have the 60 seat bulletproof Senate majority they really need to accomplish that.

In short–the sky ain’t falling, and there’s no real dictatorship on the horizon. Just as there was none on the horizon for the GOP when Obama was elected. Take a breath folks. No matter which side you choose, there’s a lot of work to be done.

There are storm clouds. But if things get screwed up, use your vote. Brandish your vote like the weapon it really is.

What Would Hunter Thompson Say?

As the campaign screeches to a halt, at long last, I caught myself last week musing about the late Hunter S. Thompson, and just how he would have covered this one. I can only say the invective would have been thorough, and thick. If you think HST hated Nixon (he did), you can just imagine how he would feel about this run.

My guess is he would have gone on the road a brief time with both campaigns, then retired to the National Affairs Desk to monitor the entire, sordid mess. Beginning each day at the crack of 2pm with Huevos Ranchero, a large pot of coffee, a dozen grapefruit, and an rasher of bacon–all consumed poolside as he perused the various daily rags from around the country. Topped off with a full pitcher of Margaritas. After that, Hunter would begin his day.

He would doubtless have all the major cable-news outlets on at once, swearing at the idiocy at the same time. I trust the word “CAZART” would be uttered more than a few times a day, along with language I likely cannot repeat here.

But given all that, I think HST would simply be shaking his head, and wondering how things got so bad, so fast. He would be wondering how a greed-head like Trump managed to get THIS CLOSE to the Presidency, while at the same time trying to figure out how a “grifter like Clinton”, managed to pull off the same thing on the other side. Wondering all the while where he really was and what the hell had happened.

I’m fairly sure he’d be cranking pages out of the red Selectric, and slipping the Mojo Wire into overdrive. I KNOW he’d have blown the deadline. What I know for sure is the end result would have been glorious to read, and to watch as it happened. I suspect he’d be sorry George McGovern wasn’t there to see it too–and given the caliber of this election, he might even want to apologize to Nixon. (I know–a pipe dream).

On election night, he would have went to wherever Gary Johnson was, and spent the evening there. Lamenting the fact that had Johnson run on the Freak Power ticket, he would have had a fighting chance.

“Aw Mama is this really the end?”

 

 

Own Your Vote, and Stop Blaming The Media

PREFACE-I’m writing this in the middle of a multi-day headache siege, and I hope it is at least somewhat coherent. If not–sue me. It’s midnight.

 

So in the past 72 hours, I have heard, and seen numerous people from ALL sides of the political spectrum, claim the media is manipulating news surrounding the Presidential Election. Furthermore there are numerous claims the media and some other sinister people are Brainwashing voters.

Really?

After the absolute shit storm of this campaign with thousands of allegations and unfounded rumors, it comes down to blaming the media? AGAIN??!!

Sorry, but we just aren’t that good, folks. Oh sure, I’d love to admit we all have regular meetings and assemble secretly to conspire against EVERYONE, but you and I both know it’s just not so.

It finally comes down to this. If you’re paranoid, think everyone is out to ruin you, and this country, and steal your vote, then it’s your own fault. TV’s have an on/off switch. So do radios. Newspapers can be folded or just lie unpurchased. Computers can be ignored.

If you feel like the electoral process has been hijacked and stolen from you by the media–it’s YOUR FAULT. Why? Because if you are so weak-willed and small-minded that you can’t defend your true beliefs, and back-up your so-called ideals, then it’s YOUR FAULT

Why? Because you read. watch, hear, and read what you want to, when you want to, on your own terms, and it applies equally to ALL sides of the political spectrum.

The overriding theme of this campaign isn’t mud, deception, or even Democrat versus Republican. It’s people using the philosophy of convenience. What is that you ask? It’s really very simple. It’s the overwhelming number of voters and citizens who somehow manage to ignore and submerge their own set of values and beliefs to back a candidate, just because it’s convenient.

I’m really going to be interested to hear just how many voters truly express remorse for how they have acted, voted , and lied to themselves, in a post-election self-examination. Because that’s what is happening all over the country. People lying to themselves to justify a vote.

What the hell has happened to us?

Election 2016-Historic Beat Down Coming, But I Take No Joy

Before I get blasted as an Uber-Liberal GOP basher, let me just say I have always been an advocate for a healthy multi-party system when it comes to U.S. Politics. Just as I have always been a supporter and believer in our government’s system of checks and balances. One of the reasons I’ve never been particularly upset or concerned about appointees to the Supreme Court, is that usually the court does the job very well, and the way it should be done. Oh, there have been notable exceptions like Citizens United, but on the whole the court usually runs well.

I long for the time when Republicans and Democrats could sit down and compromise, work things out and actually govern.  Alas that time seems to have passed and may never return.  You can speculate all day who’s at fault, but safe to say, there is plenty of blame to go around. I feel for the GOP and Republicans because in these circumstances, Donald Trump is absolutely the wrong candidate to be the party nominee.

Trump is beyond a mistake. He is a bull in a china shop and carnival barker rolled into one being. He’s beyond a bad reality show. Donald Trump is the worst thing to happen to The American Character and American politics since Richard Nixon. He is the Drunk Uncle of the Republican Party. Yet, I hesitate to continue tarring the GOP with this Bozo. He simply chose the GOP to inflict himself upon. What Democrats should be feeling first, and foremost, is relief that he didn’t decide to do it to them.

But none of this is the worst part of the story. The worst part, is that Donald Trump will be dragging the GOP down with his sinking ship. Not just the Presidency. The ENTIRE party. The down-ticket races and possibly even local elections.  If you think the damage he’s caused so far is bad, he still has three months to dig the hole even deeper. There is a very good chance Trump’s candidacy will sink the Senate candidates in nearly every race for the GOP, or at least seriously weaken most of them. With that will come the loss of Senate majority for the GOP. If things go totally in the tank, Hillary Clinton could become President with a Democratic controlled House and Senate, and the possibility of as many as three SUPCO appointees in her first 18 months. (although I think the GOP can and will likely hold the house.)  Think about that Republicans.

As for the Presidential Election? It could be historic in the numbers. The GOP Defeat could be the worst-ever.  But it won’t kill the GOP. It will, however, bomb it back to the stone-age politically. The GOP will find itself in a similar spot as it did in 1961, and throughout most of the 60’s Democrats in the White House, Democrats in the House and Senate all in control. It took decades for the GOP to finally re-emerge. Granted, it could have happened sooner without Nixon and Watergate, but THIS is what the GOP is facing right now.

Despite what those critics of mine claim to know, (they don’t), I am not anti-Republican. What I AM is anti-militant partisanship. Just being angry and mad at others just because they aren’t Republican, (Or other parties).

We need MULTIPLE healthy parties, and right now we don’t have them.

 

 

A Vote Against Darkness

I am not going to write anything approaching the profound. I’m just going to say a few things and explain them. Yeah, I am a pinko Liberal so let’s just get THAT out of the way now.

First, let me say this. In recent weeks several friends of mine have urged me to take a stand on a Presidential candidate. It was startling to me that anyone considers my vote and opinion that important.  They know who they are,  and have my thanks, and gratitude. I am–and always have–been honored to call them my friends.

But, I must be honest. It has been a struggle. Originally, I vowed to keep an open mind, and actually listen to each of them before I decided. I actually did that, but as much as I tried–from day one, it was obvious to me whom I would NOT be voting for.

Donald Trump was a non-starter, From the day of his announcement, through the GOP Convention, he has managed to blaze a trail of insults from one end of America to the other. Never in my personal, or professional life, have I experienced a candidate who fosters so much turmoil and discontent–and somehow manages to win the nomination. He has managed to take the heartfelt support of people all over the country, and twist it into something just this side of an unholy mess. If you support Trump, fine. But if I were you, I’d be thoroughly pissed off that he took your honest support, and crapped all over it, and the Republican Party.

As you can tell,  I never made a secret of my distaste for Trump and I won’t now. Until his convention speech, it never dawned on me that he’s simply Nixon without the political acumen. He’s following the Southern Strategy to almost a tee. The difference is he doesn’t have George Wallace protecting his flank. Trump has tapped into the Obama-hating, angry white-guy voting base. Just like Nixon tapped into it after the Civil Rights movement took hold. Frankly, I was a moron NOT to see it before I did.

All of that being the case, then who?

It was initially Bernie Sanders. I liked almost everything about his campaign. The ideas of course, and the renegade aspect had great appeal as well. But as things progressed, and Hillary pulled out to a lead, I noticed a change in Sanders’ base of support. There was almost an undercurrent of malevolence that bothered me then, and still does. The best I can describe it is Liberal Rage.

Rage that anyone would question Bernie’s ideas, and candidacy, and outrage that his supporters were seemingly being marginalized. Certainly understandable, but when you are in the game of national politics,  you need to wear big-boy pants occasionally, and realize you lose more than you win. there was no rigged nomination,  the Super-Delegate process has been in effect since 1984.

We saw this Liberal Rage in the small tantrums they threw at the Democratic National Convention. Fortunately, the practical faction of the Sanders camp prevailed, and Bernie himself displayed the dignity and class that was needed, and has been largely missing during this campaign cycle. Will it be enough to get those people under the Hillary tent? Hard to say for sure, but I believe it will be in the end.

My next flirtation was Gary Johnson. To be completely honest about it, I REALLY think I could and would support Johnson and Bill Weld–if it were any other year.  I’ll agree with one of my Republican friends when he says if Weld were on TOP of that ticket, he’d pull that lever. But this isn’t happening either. (Yes, I do have Republican friends.)

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton. I have never been completely certain about Hillary Clinton. Not about her sincerity. Not always of her innocence in some questionable situations. But I will say this. Hillary has been in the public eye in this country since she worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Watergate. Yes, there is a lot of smoke and insinuations about her possible conduct and behavior. But in the entire period of time since she emerged. She has been investigated ENDLESSLY, and the Republicans—who did most of the investigating–have never laid a glove on her.

Now you can say what you like about her AND Bill being slippery and able to skate by, but it says to me the Republicans have managed to waste millions of dollars, and manage a seemingly unending wild goose chase and have got NOTHING to show for it. By-the-way, I do not subscribe to the ‘Mysterious Deaths List’, attributed to her and Bill. People die. Frequently. Every day in fact. Over a three-decade career you lose people. Do I think Hillary Clinton is squeaky-clean? Of course not, but she’s no arch-villain either.  I do however, think Trump could easily be mistaken for Lex Luthor in the correct kind of light.

When it comes down to the final vote. The decision for this election, I must admit still being torn. I’m not at all sold on Clinton or Johnson, but Trump is a non-starter. But with his surge and convention performance, he helped me decide.

I have never seen four days like the GOP Convention. Possibly the four darkest days politically since Nixon resigned. (also a GOP Production). I heard nothing positive. That clinched it for me.

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton–but it’s more of a vote against Donald Trump. A vote against darkness.

Oh one more thing. For those who are saying,  “I knew it all along?” No, you didn’t because even I didn’t know for sure until today.  I’m not telling anyone who to vote for. But when I think about being raised by a single-Mom, with my sister, and the remarkable women I have had in my life, I cannot in good conscience allow a Trump candidacy to go unnoticed and un-criticized. But Trump’s misogyny and what seems to be bigotry is not what we as a country need.

I would vote for Johnson, but he has no shot. So I will vote against Trump and For Hillary Clinton.  I am NOT telling you who to vote for. My only request is that you VOTE period. Particularly the down-ticket races. Nothing will ever change if you don’t vote.

 

 

 

 

Ali-Legacy And A Life

Nothing I write about Muhammad Ali will be earth-shaking or transcendental. Yet since his passing, I have had a strong urge to pay some tribute, however small, to The Greatest.

Everyone knows about the public Ali, and his illustrious career, that much is certain. But the thing that has astonished me, is the escalating number of people telling their own, “Ali Story”.

Having lived and worked in Louisville for so many years, it has always been clear that Muhammad Ali loved his hometown. Even when that hometown didn’t always love him. At some point during TV coverage of almost every one of his fights, he would mention he hailed from Louisville, and frequently mentioned Central High School in his post-fight interviews too. One thing I learned living in Louisville–EVERYONE there has an Ali Story. For the record, I met him twice, and I never forgot either time. I never will.

Muhammad Ali was great friends with local Louisville Radio Personality John Ramsey, and I don’t think I overstate things when I say John was like a son to The Champ. John has frequently shared his memories of Ali,  and has been extremely generous with those on Facebook and other social media.  He has heard and seen people meet Muhammad in nearly any circumstance you can imagine. He told me this morning in a Facebook message that no one he ever knew of, could connect with people like Muhammad Ali. I also want to thank John for sharing his friendship with The Champ for so many years.

To see him in his later years, was to witness a man coming full-circle, and knowing what this man had done–had been–had accomplished, just overwhelmed many people when they found themselves face-to-face with the actual man and not the image. From the brash, outspoken young athlete–to the boxing champion–to icon of the world, Ali had literally done it all. Some were cruel about his affliction, claiming it was payback for being such a ‘loudmouth’ when he was younger.  I saw it differently.

I saw a man who–although somewhat trapped inside his body–bared his soul and allowed himself to show his weakened body–and continue to make others happy. It was evident when he lit the torch at the 98 Olympics in Atlanta. Even though those Olympics are now 20 years in the rearview mirror, that moment has become iconic, and will be forever remembered.

There are still those knee-jerk reactionaries who use the incorrect term, “Draft Dodger” to describe their feelings about Muhammad Ali. They are wrong of course, but I have detailed why it’s fallacious numerous other times, and will not do so here. What I will say is this. Open your minds and expand your world-view. What Ali did, helped this country, and his deeds need to be remembered for that. Look at the big picture folks. The bubbles we all live in can be sort of cozy, but can also warp our values, and worst–our tolerance.

Make no mistake. Muhammad Ali was one hellacious Boxer. Arguably the best ever. In fact go back and watch his fights, and you will see his brilliance, and skills. But when you do that, also remember that this man so touched the world in one-way-or-another, that he was literally known, and revered in every corner of the globe.

If that isn’t a life well-lived,  then I don’t know what it is.