Quiz Show Hosts & Evil Ghosts

Thank you and a most cordial welcome…   — Jack Barry

There’s nothing on top, but a bucket and a mop…  –The Meat Puppets, “Plateau”

If you’re like me, you are intrigued by game shows. When it gets to the big money, it gets exciting, and few can resist watching. It’s human interest, and that’s the rapture & the problem, all in one package. You have to be a capitalist to love game shows and never outgrow them, because they’re all about winning, whether it’s money, prizes, dates, or whatever.

It’s about performing in front of a live studio audience, and being on TV, as that’s where game shows exist. Since television & game shows are synonymous, let’s examine its history as a medium. The television was invented in 1927, but wasn’t practical for households until ~1938, when cathode ray tube life was extended by 50 times, making televisions more affordable & reliable.

After World War II (& then Korea), television set sales boomed, and broadcast television soon came into being, instantly becoming a cultural phenomenon that resonates up to today. In 1948, four television networks, (NBC, CBS, ABC, and DuMont), began broadcasting over 128 stations, a full prime-time schedule (8 to 11pm), seven days a week. The first TV season that was rated by Nielsen Media is 1950-51, which is where measurable television analysis starts.

Footnote; The DuMont Television Network was the black sheep network that died, hampered by the prohibitive cost of broadcasting, and by regulations imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which restricted their growth. The company’s partner, Paramount Pictures also sabotaged DuMont, ensuring its eventual demise & carve-up by the big three networks. The DuMont Television Network did not have a radio network from which to draw big-name talent, affiliate loyalty or radio profits to underwrite television operations until the television medium itself became profitable.

DuMont broadcast National Football League games from 1951-55, which was a first. DuMont produced more than 20,000 television episodes during the decade from 1946 to 1956. Because the shows were created prior to the launch of Ampex’s electronic videotape recorder in late 1956, all of them were initially broadcast live in black and white, then recorded on film kinescope for reruns and for West Coast rebroadcasts. The DuMont Television Network kinescopes were dumped into New York’s East River over 50 years ago, as they were seen by the bosses as worthless, with too-high storage costs.

The DuMont Television Network ignored the standard business model of 1950s TV, in which one advertiser sponsored an entire show, allowing it to have complete control over its content. Instead, DuMont sold commercials to many different advertisers, freeing producers of its shows from the power of single sponsors. This eventually became the standard model for US television. It’s important to understand this advertising model in relation to network quiz shows, and how they were fixed from 1956-59.

The quiz show scandals ultimately resulted in the networks eliminating sponsor-controlled programming in prime-time broadcasting, which would then allow them to take control of production. By the end of 1959, all first generation big-money quizzes were gone, along with single-sponsorship television. Soon-to-come, were federal laws against fixing television quiz shows. The networks stayed away from awarding five-figure cash jackpots until the 1970’s, when they were brought back, re-branded as “game shows” such as the $10,000 Pyramid.

The $64,000 Question hosted by Hal March became an overnight #1 show in 1955. US President Dwight Eisenhower was a loyal (& eventually heartbroken) fan of this rigged weekly event. Notice in the video above, how Hal March can translate Italian perfectly, when the correct answer is given by a lady (in the category of American history) who speaks fluent Italian, but broken English.

The impropriety of a contestant having a translator [!] to help her is surreal. The audience is befuddled by all this, but applauds on cue nonetheless. Then watch what happens around 26:00, when the British male contestant is stumped… How humiliating!  For Hal March.

The $64,000 Challenge was the day-time spin-off hosted first by Sonny Fox, then Ralph Story. Star contestants on The $64,000 Question/Challenge later appeared on television & in movies throughout the 1950s & 1960s. Quiz shows were often used as vehicles to promote & place new talent, and industry favorites including: Patty Duke, Connie Hines (Mr. Ed), Dr. Joyce Brothers (below), Xavier Cugat, and many others. Every one of these quiz show productions was rigged by their sponsors, as they played their audiences for suckers.

The $64,000 Question earned the #1 rating spot for the 1955–56 season, finished at #4 in the 1956–57 season ,and #20 in 1957–58. Among its progeny were Tic-Tac-Dough, and Twenty-One.

The $64,000 Challenge was controlled by cosmetics giant Revlon & Lorillard Tobacco Company’s Kent cigarettes. It was revealed during Congressional investigations that Revlon was as determined to keep their shows appealing, by manipulating the results.

Unlike Twenty-One and Dotto, where contestants got the answers in advance, Revlon was far more subtle with The $64,000 Question/Challenge, asking questions suited towards a contestant’s field of expertise, in order to coax correct answers out of them. The same method could be applied in reverse for “undesirable” contestants.

The Archive of American Television feature on the quiz show scandal, aired in 2000, has an interview of Albert Freedman who explains how he was producing Tic-Tac-Dough when Jack Barry & Dan Enright approached him about working on Twenty-One, which had very poor ratings.

Albert Freedman joined the show and was told to come up with some ideas for saving it. The problem, explained Freedman, was that the contestants were losing too quickly. “The excitement is to build up the winner, week after week.” He said that the idea of fixing the game’s outcomes was seen as necessary to reviving an otherwise boring program. “When I took over Twenty-One, I was aware that control was necessary.”

The sponsor of Twenty-One was Geritol, a dietary supplement pharmaceutical. Geritol advertised that just two tablespoons of their “medicine” had “twice the iron as a pound of calf’s liver,” helping people with “tired blood.” These were slimy snake oil salesmen, selling sickness way back in the 1950’s. The lesson is: know your TV history, or be doomed to bad re-runs. The fact is Albert Freedman coached the performances of Herbert Stempel, Charles Van Doren and other contestants on Twenty-One, with Van Doren “beating” Stempel on Dec. 5, 1956. This was the subject of Robert Redford’s 1994 film, Quiz Show.

Vivienne Nearing made headlines in 1957 when she dethroned Charles Van Doren as champion on Twenty-One, after his four-month run. In 1960, Vivienne Nearing & 14 other Twenty-One contestants were charged with perjury, after falsely testifying to a grand jury, that they had not been fed answers.

Albert Freedman was indicted for perjury in 1958, for lying to a grand jury in saying that he had not given questions to contestants. Before another grand jury, he recanted his testimony and admitted giving questions in advance. Twenty-One was canceled in 1958. The perjury charges against Freedman and all others were eventually dropped. Those found guilty had their sentences suspended, and no one involved in the quiz show scandal ever went to prison in this vast conspiracy to manipulate & defraud the American television viewing public.

Dotto was billed as a combination of a general knowledge quiz, and the children’s game of connect-the-dots. Jack Narz was the host, with Colgate-Palmolive as its presenting sponsor. Dotto rose to become the highest rated daytime program in 1958, after replacing Strike it Rich in CBS’s daytime time slot in January, 1958. In a rare instance of two networks programming the same show, a weekly nighttime edition of Dotto was launched on July 1, 1958, on NBC on Tuesday nights.

Both shows were hits, until Dotto was canceled without public explanation, over the weekend of August 16, 1958. As far as I can see, no one has ever accurately explained what happened. After reviewing the only available episodes, and the facts that have come out in the aftermath, it’s pretty clear what happened. Just watch this one episode all the way through. I’ll explain its contents below.

Episode Summary: Returning Dotto champion, Marie Winn had been provided with the answers ahead of time. A stand-by contestant, Edward Hilgemeier, Jr. found her notebook backstage with the questions & answers written in it. He tore out the pages, and turned them over to authorities without going on the show. Hilgemeier and the defeated contestant Yaffe Kimball, confronted the Dotto producers, and both were paid money to keep quiet. When Hilgemeier found out he was paid less than Yaffe Kimball, he contacted CBS (daytime version), NBC (prime-time version), and sponsor Colgate-Palmolive– all to no avail.

Hilgemeier then contacted federal authorities in early August, 1958 with his story, which was then relayed to CBS. Executive vice president of CBS Thomas Fisher tested kinescopes of the show against Winn’s notebook and concluded that the show appeared fixed. Executives at CBS series met with its creator, Frank Cooper, concerning the potential rigging of the show on the evening of Friday, August 15. Frank Cooper admitted that the show was indeed fixed, and CBS then reported these findings to NBC as the hosts of the prime-time version.

Over the weekend of August 16, 1958, both CBS & NBC canceled Dotto. CBS immediately moved its game show Top Dollar, hosted by Warren Hull, to Dotto’s time slot. On Monday, August 18, a live studio audience expecting to be seated for Monday’s episode of Dotto was instead set up as an audience for Top Dollar. Viewers were greeted by the opening, “Dotto, the program which normally airs at this time, will no longer be seen. Instead…welcome to Top Dollar!”

Jack Narz eventually replaced Warren Hull (more on him below) as host of Top Dollar by November 1958, which completed this dirty cycle of quiz show hosts, as Strike it Rich, which preceded Dotto, had been hosted by Hull. Top Dollar ran in the daytime until October, 1959, as Narz (below) continued to work as a game show host for most of the next twenty years, until his death.

Note: In the Dotto episode above, host Jack Narz says goodbye to the Native American woman contestant, Yaffe Kimball who “lost,” by raising his hand and saying HOW [!] to her as she leaves the stage at 11:28. Look & listen for it.

Dotto promo, sponsored by Ford: Here’s a look at what you could win if you can identify this Dotto image,,, the Edsel Bermuda [Ooooh’s from the audience], the newest ideas in station wagons, with almost 9 feet of load space with the tailgate down. It has Edsel’s famous “teletouch-drive,” that puts the shift buttons in the middle of the steering wheel– where they belong!” There’s also “self-adjusting brakes… A car for him, a car for her, a car for a lifetime.” There’s even a kiddie model that drives up to 5 MPH.

Notice how the audience loves it, as their enthusiasm for these luxuries was/is real. Edsel was a gas-guzzling, unsafe-at-any-speed model that was hyped by the Ford Motor Company from 1958-60. Dotto was an early establishment answer to Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, Little Richard & rock & roll’s massive teen influence. This was a cultural war for the control of kids’ minds. It somehow feels like J. Edgar Hoover is behind this show.

21:45 Jack Narz [to the new contestant]: Hmmm. Very confusing, huh?

At this point the viewer should realize that the only thing that matters in Dotto is identifying the image correctly. Answering the questions correctly is irrelevant. Also note that the images drawn in Dotto are indecipherable, as are the “clues.” This is all by design.

26:15 After a few minutes of learning all about new velvety Vel, dish soap, it’s back to the game. The new challenger doesn’t present himself as very bright, yet he suddenly rings in and identifies Dotto’s vague lines & shapes as “Huey & Dewey Duck,” which is correct!

But not completely, because everyone in 1958 knows that there are three nephews of Donald Duck, and they always hang together. Louie is the third, but the contestant forgot to write him down on the “Dottograph.”  Below is a screenshot of the image in question. Do you see Donald Duck’s nephews in it? I see Elvis.

So Jack Narz, who was “as much in the dark as anybody,” changes the narrative, and says this answer may not be correct, and will need a further ruling– later, backstage. Over to Marie Winn, who has 60 seconds to make the correct identification of these squiggly lines & nebulous forms to force a tie, otherwise she’s off the show.

Amazingly, Maria Winn pulls it out, by shyly mumbling “Donald Duck’s nephews,” with some encouragement from Jack Narz. There’s a big smile from Marie Winn, when she’s told she’s correct! Jack Narz: “I know we have a tie game now, and that solves our problem.”

Not quite, as it’s clear to any television viewer (past or present) with any cognitive function, that this greenhorn who incredibly identified the crude image as Donald Duck’s nephews, yet inexplicably forgot to include the name of the third one (Louie), blew the fix with his incomplete answer. And with that, Dotto had to be dropped immediately & forever. The running time on this essential video of television history is 29:31, and at least 25 minutes of it is advertising, in every form imaginable. This rigged quiz show called Dotto may have been the most evil show ever hyped on television.

Footnote: Marie Winn perjured herself to the grand jury investigation on quiz show fixing. She then declared herself a feminist sometime later, publishing The Plug-In Drug (1977), a confused diatribe on the dangers of educating children, claiming it to be dangerous to their psychological health.

Tic-Tac-Dough’s initial 1956–59 run on NBC was another Jack Barry & Dan Enright creation & production– a common thread with all these rigged quiz shows. Tic-Tac-Dough was based on tic-tac-toe, where contestants answer questions to score an X or O. If you’ve ever played tic-tac-toe, you know that most games end in ties, unless you’re playing against a total moron. Games that frequently ended in ties, was another leitmotif of the fixed quiz show era. The original host of Tic-Tac-Dough was Jack Barry, followed by Gene Rayburn & Bill Wendell. Jay Jackson & Win Elliot hosted prime time adaptations, and all were involved or had knowledge of quiz show fixing.

Tic-Tac-Dough’s April 3, 1958 episode (below) featuring U.S. military serviceman Michael O’Rourke winning over $140,000, hosted by Jay Jackson, became a key subject of the federal grand jury investigating the quiz fixing. Notice how neither player ever goes for the win. Howard Felsher produced Tic-Tac-Dough; Password; Password Plus; Super Password; He Said, She Said; Concentration; and most notably, Family Feud.

Felsher was known as the “Game Show Doctor” in certain circles for his ability to come in and fix a show– in every sense of the term. As producer of Tic-Tac-Dough, Felsher was in charge of all aspects of the shows production including choosing the contestants, coaching them, and feeding them the answers. Howard Felsher also estimated that about 75% of all Tic-Tac-Dough nighttime shows had been rigged.

In a span over just over 4 months at the end of 1958, these following quiz shows were implicated in the scandal and were abruptly canceled: Dotto on August 16, The $64,000 Challenge on September 14, Twenty-One on October 16, The $64,000 Question on November 9, and Tic-Tac-Dough on December 29.

In September 1958, a New York grand jury called the producers & hosts who had coached contestants, to appear in testimony. It was later estimated by a prosecutor on the case that of the 150 sworn witnesses before the panel, only 50 told the truth. Among the most egregious perjurers were Jack Barry, Dan Enright & Frank Cooper. None of the corporate sponsors were implicated, or compelled to testify under oath.

There are those who make the claim that Jack Barry was effectively blacklisted from national television until 1969. That’s an insult & misrepresentation of blacklisting. This was the era of McCarthyism, HUAC & anti-communism. The ones who defied the red-baiting & witch-hunts were blacklisted. Jack Barry was exiled from game show television for a decade for cheating, before being allowed to return and make more millions– with The Jokers Wild, etc.

Dan Enright went to Canada to continue working in television, and was unable to get a job in American television until 1975.  Once again, that’s not a blacklist, which occurs to people who have courage & principles. These are criminals, who escaped punishment because the scandal was so vast, it would have taken down all the networks and their crooked sponsors. If that happened, there would be no television run by capitalists, and that couldn’t happen, so the quiz show scandal was swept under the rug, to be forgotten in posterity.

Another Barry/Enright fixed quiz show of the era was High Low, a contestant-panel game. Wikipedia (a source heavily cited in this piece) delivers this refrain over & over concerning the availability of quiz show episodes with this disclaimer, which applies to High Low: “Only one episode is known to exist, as all others are believed to have been destroyed due to network policies of the era.”  Criminality & cover-ups are the network policies to which Wikipedia is referring.

Capitalizing on the success of the 1950s big-money quiz The $64,000 Question on CBS, Jack Barry and Dan Enright developed their flagship show, Twenty-One, a quiz which had a scoring system based loosely on Blackjack. Contestants were placed in twin “isolation booths” and were asked questions ranging in value from 1 to 11 points — the higher the point value, the more difficult the question. Beginning on September 12, 1956, Jack Barry began hosting Twenty-One in prime time.

Enright described the initial broadcast of Twenty-One as “a dismal failure. It was just plain dull.” Contestants repeatedly missed questions and, in Enright’s own words, “It lacked all drama; it lacked all suspense. The next morning the sponsor Geritol, called my partner, Jack Barry and me, and told us in no uncertain terms that he never wanted to see a repeat of what happened the previous night. And from that moment on, we decided to rig Twenty-One.” Even with rigging, initial ratings were unimpressive.

Enright believed they needed to find heroes & villains — contestants the audience would either root for or against. Though not illegal at the time, Enright and his assistant producer Albert Freedman went beyond merely finding appealing players by actually manipulating them: providing certain contestants with answers in advance, and scripting games and the players’ mannerisms in the isolation booth. It was a process the producers duplicated for Tic-Tac-Dough.

Dan Enright’s most famous contestant protégé was Twenty-One’s Charles Van Doren, who went on to win for 14 weeks and became a cover subject for Time magazine (above), thus causing the show’s popularity to soar. Van Doren replaced Herbert Stempel, who himself had been given answers over his extended run on the show, but was eventually forced to lose (so that the prettier Van Doren could replace him). After waiting for Enright to fulfill his promise of a job in exchange for throwing the match, Stempel realized it would never come and he went to the authorities. It was only when other contestants came forward about game show rigging did the New York DA’s office take Herbert Stempel seriously.

As the press was publishing allegations by former contestants of quiz rigging, NBC purchased from Barry & Enright the shows: Twenty-One and Tic-Tac-Dough; along with two new daytime entries, Concentration, and a musical quiz Dough Re Mi, for $1 million.

Eventually a fraction of the truth came out, and Dan Enright admitted to rigging the show and giving contestants the questions and answers in advance. Twenty-One’s emcee and co-producer, Jack Barry, must have been in on it, despite decades of denials by him and his fans.

Strike it Rich is down there with Dotto, and the others mentioned above, as perhaps the sleaziest show in TV history. Just watch, and you’ll see what I mean, as I’ll conclude this piece with the only episode of Strike it Rich that is available (above). I then add some poignant comments & screenshots for illustration… And now Fab’s fabulous Ambassador of Goodwill, Mr. Strike-it-Rich himself, Warren Hull!

New Fab contains miracle Duratex!

Look for Fab at your supermarket. It’s the blue box with white letters etched in red, just remember F-A-B. I’m talking to all of you out there who have never tried Fab. When you go there and see this, you’ll have an impulse to buy it, after listening to me. This is no Hull-lying, this is honest-to-goodness gospel . Okay Ralph [Story], who’s next?

Let’s take a look at a girl who has some really exciting wash-day news she wants to share with you!

Final Answer– No Takebacks: I love game shows too much to end this piece on such a cynical vibe. I consider myself a game-show host hybrid of Bob Barker & Chuck Barris, if you can get to that. My favorite game show moments over the years include watching Wink Martindale’s Tic-Tac-Dough champion Thom McKee’s run in 1980, and his defeat. I was a kid and it was exciting to watch. Was it fixed?  Whoever knows, ain’t tellin’, that much I do know.

Ken Jennings’ run on Jeopardy in 2004 was surely legitimate, including a brilliant innovation in focusing on being quick on the buzzer. Brad Rutter has repeatedly beat Jennings in Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions, so that’s amazing! In 2011, these two “Masters of Jeopardy,” faced off against Watson, an AI computer. Consider this result:

The greatest all-time, one-day game show performance belongs to Michael Larson on Press Your Luck in 1984. Larson memorized the five different randomizer sequences used on the “Big Board” (image below) and beat the game, taking home over $110,000 in one game that stretched over two episodes.

Notice that he didn’t have any extraordinary knowledge of trivia, and it totally didn’t matter. Something else mattered much more, and he figured it out first. This is hilarious viewing, as host Peter Tomarken goes bananas in disbelief.  That’s how you KNOW he beat the show.

If you want to cheat ahead; the action starts at 13;45 in this video below, when Larson answers “Polka,”  knowing with delight that he now has 7 Spins in Round 2, and will be first up. From there on it’s game-show Nirvana. A beautiful streak is a winning thing.

CBS tried to cheat Michael Larson (RIP), out of his winnings in the weeks after. And what was with that bitch dental hygienist, passing her 3 spins to Larson at the end?  The other opponent Ed, intentionally didn’t do that, as a point of honor & respect. It almost cost Michael Larson on his last spin, where he got lucky. The lesson, go for it & enjoy it while it lasts!

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ADA Fake News, latest edition

State propaganda extends up to the highest levels. Even the profession of dentistry isn’t immune. Below are images from the latest ADA News, September 17, 2018.  ADA stands for American Dental Association, the official union bureaucracy for dentistry in the US. The ADA News is their publishing organ. Here’s the roundup, and it’s a doozy.

The lead headline in this edition (above) concerns an insurance conglomerate United Concordia, which has been nefariously dictating payment rules & treatment options for working dentists and their patients. It begins with an editorial note in italics that informs readers this is the 18th article [!] in a series on insurance benefits & plan options.

Since I’ve suffered through the first 17 installments, let’s skip to the synopsis, which goes like this. The ADA has valiantly & tirelessly fought against this unfair practice, as the wolves have acquiesced for now. Meanwhile they will continue to use all sorts of other dirty tricks to cheat doctors on fees, and patients on treatment options & benefits. That’s the part the ADA doesn’t print. It helps to be able to read in between the lines.

Stericycle is a dirty waste disposal operation that has gouged physicians & dentists for decades. Their model is to buy up all their competitors and monopolize the market. During the time I owned & managed my private dental practice from 1995-2014, Stericycle bought up (at least) 2 or 3 waste disposal companies I was contracted with, until I finally found one that assured me (and kept their promise) that they would never sell out to them.

At this point, class action lawsuits (above) are a pittance to working doctors, and a futile gesture by the ADA, whose bureaucracy eats up most of the settlement benefits. When the ADA says the check is in the mail, you know they mean business. That’s how they settle up, and put things to rest.

Speaking of rest, above is a dental image of the olden years. You know, the extra years dentists now have to work, because they take home less than ever. The ADA provides readers with a graph & the numbers, but don’t answer the question: What is causing dentists to have to work more years before retiring?

Dentistry was the last profession to be destroyed, and the ADA assisted in the process– to keep itself fat & happy. Corporate dental, student loan debt, the economic crash of 2008, the opioid crisis, and insurance conglomerates have devoured dentistry, yet the ADA still trumpets itself as victorious & noble. This is why most working dentists toss the ADA News directly into the recycling/trash bin, never reading it as they are too busy for this nonsense.

It’s a midterm election year, so the ADA is throwing their best face on public health.  Dental benefits for Medicare will be low-fee, minimal services at best– extractions & dentures. That is, if any of this even had a chance, which it doesn’t. The careerists at the ADA have to at least, look like they are doing something, or give an appearance they care. Remember in November!

All I read above is “ADA…dues increase,” just below the big bold headline. This begs the question: for what?  I want to say that I’m glad I don’t pay for this, but that’s not true, as everyone pays for this.


The glare got this above headline, which reads “Spear Education purchases Pride Institute.” The question is: For how much? The article doesn’t say. It must not have been a lot, otherwise they would have reported it. The Pride Institute was/is a joke, charging dentists who need help in practice management exorbitant fees, acting like they have all the answers with their cookie-cutter formulas; and then $50K-or-so later, they leave the dentist to implement their useless business philosophy. When it fails, it’s always the client’s fault. Total scam. Spear Education must have been feeling ambitious, and decided to corner the market.

Here is an example of US military & intelligence agencies funding university research. NYU & Columbia have deep state ties, and here it is in dentistry. Look at that grant money!!  Boy, I’d like a piece of that, but then again, what do I know? I’m just a working dentist. What’s needed here are connections.

The title above reads, “No need to face third-party payers on your own.” This refers to working dentists who are being systematically ripped off & shortchanged by insurance conglomerates who make all the rules. The ADA is reassuring its constituency that it is diligently working behind-the-scenes on this. Possibly a class-action lawsuit down the road. Stay tuned, as this could become another 18-part series.

Until then, no news is good news, and always remember that the ADA has your back. Also, don’t forget to keep paying those dues (which are going up), while you sift through a vast wasteland of low-ball, corporate-crap, “career opportunities” in dentistry. It’s the American dream.

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Sinking the P.M.S. #MeToo

Here’s a final review of the facts pertaining to the Kavanaugh hearings, which kept changing, seemingly by the hour at certain points during this degraded media circus & cynical political theater. Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor in California, has accused US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers at a small party in high school. Ms. Debbie Ramirez, who currently works for a county housing department in Boulder, Colorado has alleged that Kavanaugh exposed his genitals to her during a party their freshman year at Yale.

This all allegedly occurred during the mid-1980’s, with shifting dates, circumstances and interested parties; many of whom changed their stories repeatedly, depending on the political situation. This was political fiction from the start: made up, coached, and presented as genuine to the American people by Nancy Pelosi & the Democrats (below), who refused to attack arch-reactionary Brett Kavanaugh from the left.

As to the supplemental FBI investigation, it was closed on Wednesday (Oct 3) and sent to Capitol Hill on Thursday for review by all members of the US Senate. An initial vote is set for today: Friday October, 5. A sure-to-be contentious confirmation vote is scheduled for Saturday.

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) & Susan Collins (R-Maine), who earlier indicated they were “on the fence,” have stated they are satisfied with the results of the FBI’s supplemental investigation, signaling they will vote with their party for confirmation of Kavanaugh. What the few “swing” Democrats do is of no consequence at this point (yet it’s still breathlessly reported & speculated in the media), as partisan sentiment has been galvanized on both sides of the aisle. Republicans still have the 51-49 majority.

According to the New York Times, “an official who reviewed the FBI’s material said the bureau contacted 10 people and interviewed nine of them. The 10th person refused to be interviewed. Those interviewed included Ms. Ramirez and three people whom Dr. Blasey recalled being in the house at the time of the party: Mr. [Mark] Judge, P.J. Smyth and Leland Keyser. All three have said they did not remember the party or witness misbehavior by Judge Kavanaugh. Republicans briefed on their F.B.I. interviews said they had said nothing to change that. Also interviewed were two other high school friends of Judge Kavanaugh: Chris Garrett and Tim Gaudette.” [1]

The “10th person,” the one who refused to be interviewed by the FBI, is presumably Julie Swetnick, who surfaced late in the game as Kavanaugh’s third accuser. Pictured above is her attorney Michael Avenatti. On Sunday September 30, the Associated Press reported revelations that Swetnick has a history of lying & claiming sexual assault, and then later being proven wrong in court. It turns out that you can’t always believe a woman. Who knew?

Allegations floated in the media are one thing, but false testimony to the FBI is another. One can be criminally prosecuted for lying to the FBI during an official investigation. Julie Swetnick went on-the-air, coast-to-coast, and soon walked back earlier allegations she made through the media, and declined a FBI interview through her attorney. I keep pointing out that the Republicans are better at dirty tricks campaigns than the Democrats, and I’ve been proven correct again.

This campaign to torpedo the Kavanaugh hearings has completely backfired, as the P.M.S. #MeToo is now sinking into a political abyss, right before our very eyes. Any leads that Democratic Party candidates had in competitive races (at all levels– local, state & federal), have just gotten tougher for their candidates because of this political stunt the Democrats tried to pull. The Republicans were there to bust them, because it was entirely fiction. In poker terms, Brett Kavanaugh is a pair of three’s, and the Democrats tried to bluff with Queen-high– in front of everybody. The only progressive aspect to this entire sordid affair is witnessing (& helping!) a vicious, vaginal political vessel go down.

We don’t judge Christine Blasey Ford based on the ‘believability’ of her courtroom performance. That’s how we measure actors & actresses. This is jurisprudence, where corroboration of evidence, witnesses & physical evidence are what’s judged. This is a court-of-law proceeding in the US Senate to determine if an arch-reactionary Republican judge will take a seat on the US Supreme Court, and give it a 5-4 hard-right majority. The issues at stake for the American people are of immense importance, with many interests & viewpoints that should be discussed & examined before any confirmation.

Brett Kavanaugh is a fascist, yet he has been turned into a victim by the reactionary machine of the Democratic Party. This was a campaign to unleash feminist hate, and fire up its upper-middle class base. But when it blows up in their faces this badly, it does nothing but demoralize the ranks and poison the waters. The energy of feminist supporters has gone down, and fascism is again emboldened in this political climate. The undecided’s who were leaning anti-Trump, will now swing the other way or stay home in greater numbers on November 6th. They will be harder to convince to vote Democrat, as who wants to be on the losing side of this disgrace?

Fri 05 Oct 2018 03:30:09 PM EDT

This contemptible charade needs one final update before it finishes playing out in the Senate. This piece was published just after midnight. Around noon today it was reported in the Huffington Post that Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will vote against Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday. Murkowski now says, “he’s not the right man for the Supreme Court.”

This was obviously a pre-arrangement by the puppet masters, to allow Murkowski some political cover as she already did her job by voting along party lines for cloture earlier this morning, which was necessary to move to a confirmation vote. This female senator’s defection makes tomorrow’s confirmation vote 50-50, with VP Mike Pence holding the tiebreaker vote.

You have to admit (from a political perspective), that the GOP are playing this as well as they can, all the way to its inglorious end. The fascists are “smarter” than the “liberals,” if that makes any sense, and it shouldn’t. As far as the Democrats go, unless they can get Republican Susan Collins of Maine to flip, then #MeToo is officially sunk. Look for all this & more, coming soon a video screen near you!!

As we can see, all this came down to bourgeois identity & partisan politics. The #MeToo ship is sunk, because it had the power to stop the Kavanaugh confirmation. Two Republican senators are women, who could have been pressured by a Democratic Party defense of abortion rights, to vote “No.” But instead, #MeToo made it about themselves. #MeOnly would be a better label for them.

The #MeToo campaign is the most-self-centered, obnoxiously foul, and intellectually bankrupt political concoction in modern political history. The CIA Democrats invented & created this Bride of Frankenstein, as their version of KKK & Nazi shock troops. #MeToo is a tool of the deep state, and uses the same language & methods of hate as fascists.

Sat 06 Oct 2018 04:35:32 PM EDT

The same way Donald Trump won the US Presidency in 2016, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the US Supreme Court for life today. The final tally was 50-48, as Alaskan Republican Lisa Murkowski, who said she would vote “No,” withdrew her vote. Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted “Yes,” as the fix was in all the way for fascism.

This goes back to when the Trump administration released it’s initial list & then final choice back in June. It took a few months to vet & background check Kavanaugh, and they were always confident the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford (and any others) were unprovable– which they were.

Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) waited for the right moment, and then played her #MeToo cards in such a clumsy & obvious manner that their entire campaign was exposed for its rotten politics. This is nothing less that a political disaster for the Democratic Party, allowing another reactionary blow against the working class & their democratic rights.

See also:

#MeToo Shipwrecks Itself

Brett Kavanaugh & a Pause for the “Cos”

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#MeToo Shipwrecks Itself

In what will forever be known in political history as the “Kavanaugh hearings,” we are witnessing festering partisan animosities bursting open like an abscess on our TV & computer screens. This composite photo (below) from the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept. 27, deserves careful scrutiny– as BOTH are professional liars & fascists.

A healthy & rational mind can observe that NONE of this has anything to do with the truth, as this is a cynical exercise in manipulation of public opinion. It’s all just a warm-up (and tie-in) for the mid-terms on November 6th.

The FBI was brought into the fray on Friday (9/28), when Republican Senate leaders agreed to allow a limited, additional background check of Brett Kavanaugh. Since he’s already been extensively “vetted,” it is to be limited in scope to the existing allegations, with a completion deadline of one week. That’s how the GOP wraps Brett Kavanaugh up in a bow, and sends a fascist to the House for confirmation as Justice for the US Supreme Court.

The #MeToo Democrats, who are now foundering on the rocks, are screaming for more time, saying “no artificial time limitations” should be placed on the special FBI investigation, which will be solely interviews from the names we already know all-too-well in this phony sex scandal. These hysterical feminist manipulators never know when to quit, or shut up.

The puppet-master behind this media scandal appears to be 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Avenatti, who represents all three women that have made sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh: Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez & Julie Swetnick. Avenatti coincidentally is also the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels.

It needs to be acknowledged that the Democrats could have attacked arch-reactionary Brett Kavanaugh from many other angles, and easily defeated his nomination. Anyone who has such an extensive record of being pro-torture & anti-democratic, shouldn’t even be considered for the Supreme Court, raising the issue of the initial list of candidates from Donald Trump. This entire Supreme Court nomination process has been disgraceful, in it’s lack of seriousness.

Here’s a brief on Brett Kavanaugh. He worked with Kenneth Starr, in the reactionary Republican coup attempt to oust a twice-elected US President. Kavanaugh then conspired with Bush/Cheney during Bush v. Gore, which stole a Presidential election for the Republicans in 2000. Kavanaugh is an opponent of the Environmental Protection Agency, and a friend of corporate polluters. He supports executive supremacy, which endears him to Trump, and is an enemy of abortion rights. The only way the Democratic party could lose this political fight to defeat Kavanaugh, is if they didn’t care– and they don’t.

The list of twenty-five-or-so judges that Trump supposedly had under consideration are all reactionaries– every one of them. Where were the protestations from the Democratic party back then? They were too busy running their #MeToo & Russian meddling campaigns in our faces, to be bothered with defending the democratic rights of it’s voting constituency.

Only the #MeToo Democrats could make a fascist like Brett Kavanaugh look like a martyr, by attacking him from the right. In the same manner, Hillary Clinton’s elitism & campaign blundering allowed Donald Trump to become US president. Incompetent & bird-brained reaction at every turn defines a #MeToo Democrat. It’s not even been a year since this campaign was rolled out, but in that time, more money has been wasted in paying an army of political hacks & flunky feminists to promote this hatred of men by elitists. They get all kinds of help from BLM-racialists, GLTB-activists, and all the other scum in identity politics. But none of these groups actually represent any kind of grassroots movement of the people.

#MeToo will go down in political history as the most virulent & expensive astroturfing campaign ever. This entire campaign was paid for by the CIA Democrats, and their big-money political supporters including George Soros & Tom Steyer. These are the billionaire PAC supporters who are the equivalents of the Koch Brothers on the Republican side, which means they’re just as nasty. It’s not about partisanship, as much as it’s about class values.

Astroturfing means funding fake right-wing activist groups and paying shills to hold signs & chant slogans, as a political tactic to undercut legitimate grassroots movements. This photo below illustrates some of the finer points of astroturfing on the ground. It’s shot on location with all of its “supporters” bunched together.  Here, the photo is taken by someone in the crowd, implying “grassroots” in it’s style. It also lets a small group of people stand in a crowd of neutrals (or even unknowing opponents), and pose as a larger movement through trick photography. This is sophisticated bourgeois political science, in case you didn’t know.

Grassroots movements have real energy & popular support, and therefore take time to grow in becoming a political force. Socialism is the most-feared grassroots movement by elites. Astroturfing campaigns mysteriously & constantly pop-up like mushrooms in the media, and instantly become the rage. They seem to have unlimited funding, and are front page every day with their message. It’s always single-issue politics, framed in the crudest black or white perspectives. Google, Fakebook, YouTube, and the rest always give them a boost.

Latest astroturfing example from #MeToo: If you don’t believe Christine Blasey Ford, then you condone the abuse of women. Another astroturfing example: If you question the policies of Zionism, then you are an anti-Semite. These dirty tricks campaigns are the methods & language of fascism, and the Democrats have embraced it. Their problem is that the Republicans have been at it longer, and are better at it in many ways.

It used to be only the Republicans were seen as fascists, while the Democrats were the “adults in the room.” The Kavanaugh hearings have now moved the needle on that measure of political evolution, as the Democrats are exposed as outright liars who also use fascist methods of bullying & intimidation to win their cause. They can no longer claim to be morally superior to the Republicans, thanks to #MeToo– and that’s the real disaster here for Democrats. The average American voter needs to stop and ask themselves: What in any of this is in it for me? The answer is: Nothing. So my question is: Why are you supporting this, on either side?

There is no higher court in the land, and yet #MeToo Democrats insist that “believable” testimony, and hearsay with no corroborating evidence, should be the rule of law– over facts & rationality. I don’t believe anyone could build a worse legal case than the Democrats have, to oppose the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice.

#MeToo is a sham & double-standard that is personified pathetically in these two press photos from the Kavanaugh hearings on Thursday. The first (above) is Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano about to enter the courtroom with her #MeToo entourage, before Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. Milano has been a leading vitriolic voice in the reactionary #MeToo campaign, and this was to be a defining #MeToo moment, so she had to be there– I guess.

The second photo (above) is Alyssa Milano in the courtroom during the Kavanaugh hearings, representing #MeToo. As we can see, she dropped a few blouse buttons, but as we all know, it’s sexist for a man to look at (or comment on) her boobs these days– so I won’t, except that it’s the proverbial elephant in the room.

With everything the Democrats threw at Kavanaugh & the Republicans this past week, it’s still unlikely that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will agree to delay the vote, which is on pace for Tuesday, October 2. That means that by the time the FBI has wrapped up its interviews, Kavanaugh will be through the Senate and ready to be confirmed by the House of Representatives for the Supreme Court.

By that time it will be evident to any objective observer that the #MeToo campaign is hopelessly reactionary, and impotent.  In the process of trying to assert itself as a political force, it has instead completely discredited itself in the eyes of the public. Anyone who calls #MeToo a “movement” at this point, is delusional or a political cynic. The only way forward for youth & working people in defending their democratic rights, is to reject this corrupt process entirely.

Update: Tue 02 Oct 2018 08:31:32 AM EDT

The Kavanaugh Hearings have been pushed into legal limbo, as the FBI conducts its supplemental pseudo-investigation of these phony sexual assault claims, per the bipartisan agreement last Friday engineered by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) & the Democrats. The Senate is split 51-49 for the Republicans, and there are two senators who are supposedly “on the fence,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) & Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Everyone else has committed along party lines.

By simply looking at the names & political affiliation of the “undecideds,” you can see their problem. Republicans expect them to vote with their party, while women expect them to join the Democrats in voting “No” on Kavanaugh. All the Republicans need is one of these two women senators to join them for a 50-50 tie, which can be decided by VP Mike Pence, who will vote “Yes” on Kavanaugh. Keep in mind, the GOP would prefer both these women senators to vote “Yes,” and avoid this kind of patriarchal mechanization, and that’s what all the fuss is currently about. This is American political theater at its worst, as everything has been scripted in advance, with nothing left to chance.

Recommended further reading:

Brett Kavanaugh & a Pause for the “Cos”

#MeToo’s House of Cards

Despicable Manipulation & Thievery

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Brett Kavanaugh & a Pause for the “Cos”

The Brett Kavanaugh hearings are a clear case of grandstanding politics by both parties, to distract people from real issues. The Democrats & their #MeToo crowd offer only hearsay & innuendo, in their accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court by Deborah Ramirez & Christine Blasey Ford.  Kavanaugh has denied everything, and no one can confirm anything, yet the New Yorker magazine published this political bombshell (written by feminists Ronan Farrow & Jane Mayer), as fact on September 23, so here we are.

 

Before these sensationalist headlines were splashed across every form of media known to mankind, no Democrats cared about Brett Kavanaugh’s resume. No one in the media made an issue of his anti-abortion, anti-democratic, pro-business & pro-torture stances. Those are matters that Americans deeply care about, yet they find no expression in this two-party sham called US politics. In this Orwellian world where 2+2=5,  Kavanaugh can only be attacked from the right, using the witch-hunting tactics of the #MeToo campaign. There is nothing progressive in any of this.

Even if the #MeToo Democrats “win” this Senate battle, it’s meaningless; as Trump will simply pick another reactionary judge from his list. Eventually one will be confirmed, securing a 5-4 right-wing majority on the Supreme Court. No one in the mainstream media cares to mention that. Overturning Roe v Wade is seen by Trump strategists as a key component to energizing their Christian fundamentalist base for 2020. As far as defending a woman’s right for access to safe abortion clinics, operated by competent professionals goes, the Democrats are silent in 2018.

Everything on the Trump side is about his ego & power, being able to bully his way through the process and not having to back down. Donald Trump always needs a media victory to feed his ego, otherwise he goes off the deep end, which isn’t viewed favorably by the Republican party– or anyone else.

As for “The Cos” (above), he should have been exposed & locked up long ago, and there are more than a few women in this sordid history of abuse that could have spoken out sooner, but were more concerned about their Hollywood careers. That’s a hard truth. That doesn’t excuse Bill Cosby’s sexual abuse, but it does explain how this was allowed to go on for so long, and sheds some light on the social responsibility for sexual predators.

If you are abused, and don’t come forward, others will suffer the same fate, and you will then bear some responsibility, as you could have done something to prevent it. No one volunteers to get raped, and that’s a heavy burden that remains with the abused victim. Casualties of rape too often remain silent due to their capitalist ethics, which deepens their victimization.

A rape victim can extend their torment by becoming a political tool of others, if they allow their abuse story to feed reactionary causes like #MeToo. What we see in the media over & over, are women who keep allowing themselves to be victimized. There is no actual healing or understanding going on with this #MeToo hate campaign. Only anger & backlash. All this is a reflection of the existential crisis of modern capitalism.

This filthy feminist spectacle has raised much awareness among the greater population, and their conclusions don’t match the official narrative. This is a major cause for concern among the ruling class, in that the #MeToo campaign may soon collapse upon itself, and the Democrats will be left naked– with no political cover. They have poured a vast amount of money & resources into this propaganda campaign, and are getting exactly the opposite results they intended. That’s a disaster by any definition.

This prison sentencing is a mixed-bag for the Democrats, as Bill Cosby was promoted as a “black intellectual” and role model for five decades, all-the-while being a serial rapist. The “black community” has lost one of it’s “leading representatives,” in a manner eerily similar to the OJ Simpson trial. Back then in 1995, a large number of black Americans sided with Simpson, even though the evidence was overwhelming that he was a double murderer, and that the trial was rigged. Twenty-some years down the road, Bill Cosby’s conviction for rape, and his sentence of 3-10 years in prison is seen as justice by most.

This hurts Black Lives Matter & the Democrats, who need these stooges to woo “their” brethren suffering black masses to vote for them. It’s hard to replace an icon of Cosby’s stature, as he had a powerful effect in anesthetizing the poor black ghettos & affluent mixed suburbs of America for decades with racialism and cynical calls for “personal responsibility.”

Conversely, this Cosby conviction is spun as a “win” for #MeToo, making it a “push” for the Democrats (which isn’t helpful for them), and that’s what this circus is all about. That’s why Cosby is sorta being pushed into the background, while the unconfirmed Brett Kavanaugh sexual abuse allegations are brought to the fore of American politics. It fits their needs, and these political phonies and media lapdogs have nothing else to discuss.

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Reflections on a Music Career

I know the update I posted here was a shock to many fans. He is my explanation for those who truly supported the music, and therefore deserve one. The rest of you may follow along and hopefully you will learn something. The fact is I’ve been going down a dark road for a long time, in being this musical artist of such uncompromising intensity. It’s led to wonderful discoveries & revolutionary content, but it’s also isolated me.

When you burn for the truth in everything, you become intolerant of hypocrisy & lying behavior. The more I try to eliminate it in myself, the more I become disgusted & distanced from others who don’t understand. Artists are bold, restless, uncompromising & revolutionary by nature, and thus don’t do well with patience & temperance.

I’ve leaned on my best friend & collaborator Tom Pearce way too much over the years, because I had to. I won’t let that friendship (& what we’ve accomplished), end up turning into anger directed towards him– out of frustration. Those are the outside stresses that get internalized and refracted into art, and it’s done by real human beings, which means it takes an emotional toll.

People generally don’t think about art & artists too deeply, because they are busy living their lives, just trying to get by. In their free time they mostly seek escapism, instead of studying & learning. That’s how an artist becomes an outcast in a society where culture has been degraded, and it reaches a point where the artist has to make a decision. You either: 1) continue down that road, which leads to self-ruin; or 2) give it up and save yourself.

The truth is, I can’t continue to hold myself (& everyone else) to the artistic standards I’ve set. It gets to where it becomes too destructive. I think this is how jazz-bassist pioneer Jaco Pastorius felt at his end, and I didn’t want that for me. Even with this acceptance & understanding, it’s still an extremely difficult & emotional decision to quit your life’s passion.

As far as what was accomplished, here it is. Ric Size and his collaborators since 2011, through the music and the content on this site, have profoundly influenced music, art, society & politics on many levels, locally & globally. I’m confident Tom Pearce will soon find himself in-demand, as a webmaster, sound engineer & producer. Many others I have worked with over time have also benefited, and I wish them well. The truth is that Ric Size’s music is still too raw & intimidating for most people, and seen as extremely dangerous & provocative by the ruling class.

I’m the kind of person who excels at what I put my mind to, and I never tried harder or wanted anything to succeed more than this music. Now that it’s receding into the past, I see how impossible it all was. I’m definitely an optimist at heart, as I kept thinking I could find a breakthrough, right up to the end.

My final preoccupation as a musical artist was around security. Personal safety for me, my band mates, and the audience was going to be an issue. Ric Size is radioactive politically, and that can’t be separated from the performance. No matter what songs we were going to play, every event was going to have issues with Nazi’s & other right wing hates groups (Republican & Democrat backed), astroturfing our shows.

On top of that, there’s the lone wolf shooter that no one accounts for. This is Orlando where Christie Grimmie was killed after a live performance downtown. Of course, no one in Orlando will forget the Pulse nightclub massacre that happened only a few weeks after Grimmie’s slaying. Preventing these-type scenarios from happening at a Ric Size show was a dilemma that kept me awake at night for weeks. I wasn’t counting on any help from the local police of federal authorities, if you know what I mean. The only solution was to retire, as security was going to be a necessity, cost prohibitive, and in the end an impossibility.

At this stage I’m at peace with my decision, and feel much better. Relief, soothing away the disappointment is my best description. The money was never going to show, and TomP & I took it as far as we could. My initial goal when I came up with the concept of Ric Size over 20 years ago (before I met Tom), was to do it my way and change the world in the process. That mission has been accomplished, and now I happily work towards that objective as a blog writer. I’m still at it, just in an updated form for the times.

I still own a record label called Infinitelink Records, which owns the publishing & copyrights to all Ric Size music. That’s what you need to control and hold onto, boys & girls. Tom & I will work at finally getting everything packaged up & CD-formatted for your purchase online, at whatever pace events allow.

Thank you AGAIN to all our fans for your love & support!!

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#MeToo’s House of Cards

House of Cards is a political thriller series created by Beau Willimon and released by Netflix. First released on February 1, 2013 House of Cards instantly became a “binge watching” hit, defining a new cinematic genre & home delivery method. It’s influence has been incalculable. It is impossible to understand House of Cards, without discussing Netflix. Founded in 1997, Netflix’s initial business model was DVD sales and rentals by mail. Netflix entered the content-production industry in 2012, and House of Cards soon became its flagship “Netflix Original” series. Today, Netflix is a multi-billion dollar conglomerate (Forbes: $141.9B), in part because of House of Cards.

Keep in mind that House of Cards is an adaptation of the 1990 BBC miniseries of the same name, and both are based the Michael Dobbs novel. The UK version of post-Thatcher England is very British, if you know what I mean. The stars are ugly & grotesque by design. It doesn’t have the delicious eye candy & sizzle of the US version. It’s still worthwhile viewing, as the power politics translate clearly, in the tradition of “civilized” England.

What makes the US version of House of Cards everyone’s favorite, is that it has something for everybody. This series has sex of all varieties, it has power politics & cat-fights, it has all sorts of behind-the-scenes maneuvering with insights that no other film or television series has ever delivered. House of Cards has a cast to dream about. Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood is instantly innovative in talking directly to the audience concerning his personal feelings of contempt & disdain for us, and it becomes part of the rapture. We, the Audience are finally being let in on secrets that Washington insiders have kept hidden from the start.

We get more truth and political insight from a season of House of Cards, than years of interviews & political “analysis” from the likes of Larry King, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, Sean Hannity, etc. It’s part of this series’ subtle irony that these real life talking heads are often dismissively parodied as cameos. This show knows how to deliver a punch, which is another exciting element for viewers.

House of Cards wasn’t afraid to kill off important characters to teach its audience valuable political lessons. I’ll abbreviate by pointing out the talent that has been deceased in this series, and none by natural causes: Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes, Corey Stoll as Peter Russo, Sebastian Arcelus as Lucas Goodwin, Nathan Darrow as Edward Meechum, Rachel Brosnahan as Rachel Posner (favorite character), Paul Sparks as Thomas Yates, Neve Campbell as LeAnn Harvey (2nd favorite), Damian Young as Aidan Macallan, and now [!] Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood. Those are all brilliant & unforgettable portraits of human striving and ambition gone wrong. Most series never come close to casting that level of talent, and that’s only what’s dead at the beginning of Season 6.

Most of the characters in this groundbreaking series should be considered as personifications of social types. One of the most remarkable features of House of Cards is its sweep in characters among the variegated social classes that inhabit Washington, DC. Most cinematic features which promise to reveal the mechanizations of power politics don’t have the time (or inclination) to highlight its impact on the broader population. Conversely, House of Cards illustrates the lives of political & business royalty, while also narrating the common people who serve & oppose them.

The young reporters trying to uncover & publish the truth are captured in great detail, as their influence is powerful. Sebastian Arcelus as Lucas Goodwin is a beautifully drawn-out example of the consequences of attempting to “out” those in power. Mozhan Marnò as Wall Street Telegraph reporter Ayla Sayyad is another example. Keep in mind, this is what is going on in real life with the persecutions of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Bradley/Chelsea Manning, and many, many others who are interested in revealing the truth in news.

Korey Jackson as Sean Jefferies (pic below) is an obscure example, as a young black reporter who isn’t brilliant, but is good at schmoozing elites & manipulative games. That gets him ahead in his work, but alienates him from his woman and respected colleagues. Real decisions & consequences; that’s what this series illustrates so well, on so many levels.

The creative bankruptcy of today’s “artist” is also personified brilliantly in this series, as Adam Galloway & Tom Yates are posers who get in WAY over their heads. When tragedy is revealed, we hardly feel badly for them, as they exist in a cynical world of hype & pretentiousness. For example in Season 1, a homeless man on the street teaches Claire more about art (origami) in an instant, than her clueless-but-sensitive photographer lover does in their entire relationship. A lot of viewers seem to have missed many of these subtleties.

Later in the series, Tom Yates is the dashing drinking companion who stole a dying friend’s written work to make himself a legend he can’t live up to. When Claire strikes in the end, we feel glad it’s over for him. We understand the killer and the victim. That’s a rare feat in cinematography, which takes extraordinary dedication & sensitive talent to pull off. I keep using that term cinematography because this series isn’t television, but it isn’t film either. It’s somewhere in-between. House of Cards is a phenomenon that created a whole new genre, and profoundly influenced the politics of its day which runs up to the present.

A revolutionary facet of this series is how fast it comes at you. If you’ve only watched this series once, then you don’t get it, because you are only understanding things on a superficial level. Such a viewer is merely following storylines for personal drama, and doesn’t absorb the meaning of this series. House of Cards is about personifying characters into political & social types that viewers can relate to, in order to reveal modern American politics. It’s the political lessons learned that count. If you’ve missed that, then you weren’t really watching or understanding what you saw. I estimate I’ve watched the 1st Season 7-8 times, the 2nd Season 4-5 times, and Seasons 3-5 three times each. I think I understand most of it by now, but there are still subliminal bits & pieces that elude me. That’s how artistically complex this series is.

If you watch closely, you will see elements of yourself in many different characters in this series. You will also see your enemies. Your enemies don’t like the fact that they’ve been exposed by this series. That’s why Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) testified last fall before the Intelligence Committee. Warner claimed (CNN image above) that Netflix’s House of Cards was a threat to “national security,” just a few days before the sexual assault allegations by burnout actor Anthony Rapp were leveled against Kevin Spacey through the media. Spacey has been a pariah ever since, and the series went on hiatus until a new season’s script was worked out.

That’s why #MeToo took down Kevin Spacey last October. It was to strangle this series into submission for its past sins against the establishment. For five seasons this series kept its audience up-to-date, revealing what goes on behind the curtain, in a riveting fictionalized narrative than mirrored current events. The writers for this series always paid attention to the news, and their storylines reflected this. That’s how this show managed to stay ahead of its audience and the censors– for five seasons at least.

House of Cards was always scheduled to go six seasons, and the belated final one arrives November 2, 2018– the Friday before the mid-term elections. House of Cards was always a political series that defined the times. This release date timing is proof positive of that– to be sure. As to the quality of the final eight episodes, we’ll see. The first five seasons ran 13 episodes, each 50+ minute length. The five deleted episodes this season represent the void left with Kevin Spacey’s dismissal.

Before this series is finally finished on November 2, it would serve us well to consider the balance sheet for #MeToo feminism in it’s first year on the job. It’s hard to believe it still hasn’t even been a year with this media-driven hysteria on sexual politics known as #MeToo. It feels like much longer. In this period, the most reactionary & vile elements of the political establishment have launched a false-flag hate campaign in the name of women against men. This is the sum of their political vision, the entire Democratic party’s populist “program” for November 6th, and beyond. Consider that as political food-for-thought while binge watching this series to the end.

House of Cards has been talked about extensively, yet it’s clear that many in the media don’t understand this series, or are hostile to its content. This fictionalized examination of the media, and how it is manipulated by power brokers has had an enormous impact on American political consciousness. House of Cards is the most artistic and lastingly relevant cinematography achievement that Hollywood/NYC has produced in this decade. That is why this show has been attacked by the reactionary #MeToo campaign and it’s hidden supporters.

House of Cards is entertaining because the people are so beautiful, the plots move in brilliant directions, and the dialogue is razor sharp. The drop-off begins at Season 3, as this series was expensive to produce and was repeatedly forced to yield to economic stresses & political mandates. Removing Kevin Spacey was one of them. Before that it was product placement, and even an outright ad for a new fertility drug by Robin Wright worked into a contrived scene where she’s consulting her physician on having a baby. As blatant and crass as that was, in many ways it rightfully belongs in the entirety, as it proves what paid for this series, and it wasn’t a $10/month subscription.

This series was always smart enough to predict the times and give itself room to maneuver into the next season. This final season of House of Cards will be a test of that resolve & ingenuity. If they’ve maintained their focus & hard-hitting style, then the show can rest in (relative) peace. But if Season 6 lags and turns into soapy dialogue for identity politics, then the #MeToo feminists can rightfully claim to have killed this series.

That is my greatest fear for House of Cards as the final season approaches. This series shouldn’t be turned into a political tool for the CIA Democrats, who are the political force behind the witch-hunt #MeToo campaign that removed Kevin Spacey from this series. This series is an artistic achievement with lasting cultural value. All the writers, directors, cast and crew from House of Cards represent a creative & intellectual triumph that should be celebrated & defended for its collective genius.

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MLB Predictions: Reviewed

Preface: This is yet another article I intended as a one-off, but the situation changed and required further explanation– thus turning it into a 7,500-word serial. I’m abusing the new time-stamp feature, as you’ll see. First published on September 22, the main contents here are in italics, and deal with the last day of the MLB regular season, and the following two days through the NL Wild Card game on October 2, 2018.

Hall-of-fame Yankees catcher & dugout philosopher Yogi Berra famously pointed out that, “It ain’t over, until it’s over.” Decades later the times are indeed a-changin’, and that’s when a Marxist philosopher who loves baseball comes along and slaps an asterisk on that proverb by clarifying that, “It ain’t over, until it can’t be overturned.”

I’m going to do something that few other sportswriters do, which is analyze my pre-season predictions. There is one week remaining in the MLB season as of this publication, as these screenshots and analysis cover everything through September 21. This can be done because all the serious races have been decided. This piece will take a close look at Pythagorean record (X-W/L) using runs scored & allowed to determine if a team was “lucky” or “unlucky” in 2018. Any team that veers more than +/- two wins from their actual record can be considered either lucky or unlucky. That can tell you a lot about their expectations in this post-season & 2019.

AL East Prediction:
Contenders: Yankees, Red Sox (WC)
Pretenders: Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles

What happened: The Red Sox had the highest payroll in MLB, and are currently 105-49, but their X-W/L says they should be 98-56. That’s still good enough to win the division, but they’ve also been extremely lucky. The Red Sox are the best team in baseball, but not by as wide a margin as some would have you believe. I predicted the Yankees would win this division, so I was wrong there. But I also said that whoever is the Wild Card in the AL East, will win the play-in game, which is the most significant advantage to winning the division. Once you’re past that, then everything is equalized in the divisional round. What I’m saying is that if the Yankees overpower the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card play-in game, which is what I (and most) expect to happen, then it doesn’t matter who finished 1st & 2nd in the AL East. If the A’s win, then I was really wrong; otherwise I’m correct about everything in the AL that counts, except the second Wild Card. I also predicted the Orioles would be a complete joke, and they are. See: Chris “Crash” Davis, and this offensively bad pitching staff.

AL Central Prediction:
Contenders: Indians, Twins (WC)
Pretenders: Royals, White Sox, Tigers

What happened: No brainer picking the Indians, as they are they only good team in this division. They won despite being extremely unlucky, with a record that is 7 wins below their Pythagorean. That means this team is a bit of a sleeper, and with the acquisition of relievers Brad Hand & Adam Cimber from the Padres at the deadline, they are stacked in the pen. The AL pennant is a heavyweight battle royale, and it’s easy to overlook Cleveland. That would be a mistake, as this is one of the best-run franchises in MLB today. The Twins were the second Wild Card in 2017, and looked like strong contenders to repeat to that plateau with their off-season additions, but it never happened in 2018. This division may be the worst in MLB, and it’s why I picked the Twins for the Wild Card. The Rays are better than any non-Cleveland team in this division, and probably would have won the second AL Wild Card had they played in this division or the AL West.

AL West Predictions:
Contender: Astros
Pretenders: Angels, Mariners, A’s, Rangers

What happened: The Houston Astros are like Cleveland, in that they have been extremely unlucky, yet they both won their divisions easily– as expected. The Angels acquired this past winter’s most coveted prize Shohei Ohtani, and have proceeded to wreck him. Ohtani needs TJ surgery on his pitching elbow, yet he is still in the lineup DH-ing, even though the season has long been lost. I thought the Halos could finish as high as second, but they fell to fourth. The Mariners hung around for awhile because they were the luckiest team in MLB this year. Seattle is currently 84-69, with a negative run differential [!], which means they really are a 72-81 team. This is an old team full of holes and payroll bloat, so look for a major correction in 2019 for the Mariners. A big reason Oakland gets the second AL Wild Card is because this is a mediocre-to-weak division. Texas is awful, and will be for a long time now.

NL East Predictions:
Contender: Nationals
Pretenders: Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins

What happened: Everyone got this one wrong, as no one predicted a collapse from the Nationals. One warning sign I noted early was the hiring of Dave “Vodka” Martinez to replace Dusty Baker a manager. Baker had to go and everyone knew it, but this is a veteran team with a championship roster. The Gnats needed a manger with experience, and instead they went cheap and hired a rookie with no managing experience– anywhere. I haven’t been a fan of this franchise since they moved from Montreal, because they became just the opposite of what they were. In Canada, the Expos were a savvy small-market franchise that developed players from within, and kept payroll low. In Washington they’ve been a payroll behemoth personified by a front office & ownership that has little brains. I do feel for Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and all the rest, because they deserved better and were ultimately let down by this lack of leadership.

With this collapse in DC, someone else had to step in and win this division, and certainly the Marlins & Mets weren’t capable. A few remaining Marlins fans wondered what might have been, if Derek Jeter & co. hadn’t blown everything up upon arrival. That left it to the Phillies & Braves, with Atlanta having the best roster mix of veterans & young talent. I think the Braves are second-rate to the Cubs & Dodgers as far as NL division winners go, but they deserve credit for stepping up when an opportunity presented itself in 2018. I’ll only change my mind on these Braves when they prove it in the post-season. They’re young & talented, so who knows…?

NL Central Predictions:
Contender: Cubs, Cardinals (WC)
Pretenders: Brewers, Reds, Pirates

What happened: The Cubs won the division, but are starting to look more & more beatable. Their Hu Darvish signing was the worst free-agent deal of this past winter, and will financially cripple them down the road. With that said, they’re still capable of winning it all in 2018. As I mentioned in my pre-season notes, the Brewers made the two best acquisitions of the off-season in free-agent CF Lorenzo Cain & LF Christian Yelich. The prospects the Brewers gave up in the Yelich trade were garbage, as this was the biggest steal of the past winter. That, and obtaining just enough pitching is what got the Brewers an NL Wild Card. The Cardinals managed to hang around until the end, as they always do. This is the kind of franchise they are, in that even when they aren’t particularly good, they can still get by, and they are going to get the second NL Wild Card. Overall this division is mediocre by NL standards, even though it has both Wild Cards.

* Since the Padres are out, I’m rooting for the Brewers this fall.

Update: Sunday September 30, 2018  ~ 7:00 PM

The MLB regular season is over as of this writing, with 162 games in the books; and yet nothing is over in 2 of the 3 National League divisions. In the NL Central, the Cubs & Brewers have 95 wins, while the Dodgers & Rockies have 91 wins apiece. This means a one-game play-off for their division titles, with the losers of each slotting in as a Wild Card.

What this means is MORE slow-down of the MLB action, while we clear these division winners up. The owners & networks are primarily responsible for this, however you may feel. I feel this hair-splitting should be decided by the tie-breaker– which is head-to-head record.

It’s just not that important at this level of mediocrity, so let’s get on with it. We’ve already had 162 games to decide this, and if that’s not enough, then this is how we do it. Everyone knows in advance, so it’s fair. You only need these games to eliminate for the 2nd Wild Card slot, otherwise the best head-to-head record decides all tiebreakers. Clean & fair, and most importantly it keeps everything on track. There are enough games already, so I also will advocate for a 154-games MLB schedule, to balance out for the expanded post-season & multiple play-in games.

The Wild Card is a cheap gimmick and big-market insurance policy. The irony is that it takes the focus away from excellence (Red Sox), and mires the narrative in mediocrity, at least for a while. Now, even after 162 games, the regular season doesn’t go away. It’s still there for 4 NL teams. Of all these deciding games, the only one that actually matters is the Wild Card game. IMO, all these contests should be counted as regular season games, as teams aren’t in the post season until they get to the Divisional Round. That’s what it really is.

Part of the beauty of MLB from 1969-93, was its fair, yet unforgivably cruel divisional format, which only rewarded excellence. Winning the division after 162 games, meant being in the LCS. Everyone else went home. In that era, MLB went from a marathon grind, to high-intensity top-quality action for a pennant– instantly!

The “innovation” of the Wild Card was introduced in 1994, the notorious “Strike Season,” and it’s purpose was/is to allow the Red Sox & Yankees to be in the post-season every year. A big-market team wracked with injuries & under-performance inevitably gets a second opportunity to redeem itself after losing the division.

This series of amputations, once done naturally and cleanly by the format, is today’s MLB play-ins & play-offs; broadcast in slow-motion, and painfully framed in stages by Fox. These are your four-and-a-half hour Sox-Yankees broadcasts, that go well past midnight on the east coast. It summons adjectives ranging from mind-numbing & bombastic to boring & unwatchable.

The AL post-season is East coast bias, while the NL (real baseball) is still in hypothetical land. This fan yawns, “Wake me up for the LCS’s. Enough hypotheticals & mediocrity dominating the narrative. It’s supposed to be clarity, and all quality by now, but we have neither.

Again the narrative is where it shouldn’t be. The AL is the much stronger league, and will be heavy favorites in the World Series, regardless of their NL opponent. Astros, Yankees & Red Sox each won at least a 100 games. Cleveland won 91, and the second AL Wild Card Oakland won 97.  Incidentally, the Rays won 90 games and finished a distant third in the stacked AL East. The Royals & White Sox both lost 100 games, while the Tigers lost 98. The AL Central is a BAD division from second to last.

Home field advantage in the WS is determined by overall record now. It’s very likely the AL will have it, which is significant because of the DH. It is this rule that allows the AL to create powerhouses that crush NL teams head-to-head over time. In a short series the DH advantage is reduced, but is still significant, as the rules are set now.

Home-field advantage in Games 6 & 7 (if necessary), create a window for umpiring & review bias to influence events favorably for the home team. The Yankees & Red Sox have notoriously the most foul-mouthed, invasive & rabidly-out-of control fans in MLB. The umpires & media are all influenced by this set-up.

It’s not just having 4 homes games to the NL’s 3. It’s about having the advantage in the two most crucial games of a close & competitive series. If it’s a rout or sweep, it’s probably the AL doing it to the NL anyways.

I had to update this piece, because I was wrong about how the NL season would end, even with only 9 games to play. The difference between the 9 days that elapsed since this piece was published is that the Cardinals proved they weren’t a play-off team. As a baseball fan, I’m happy the NL West gets a Wild Card, because they deserve it.

The NL East Braves won 90 games, eight games better than the second place Gnats. The Phillies slipped to 3rd in the end, and finished 80-82. Free agent splash RHP Jake Arrieta was a disappointment, and the Phils owe him 2/$50M. The Miami Marlins finished with the worst record in the NL at 63-99. Congratulations to Mike Hill, Derek Jeter & Bruce Sherman on avoiding 100 losses. The Padres won 66 games, second worst in the NL.

In the AL, the Orioles went 47-115, worst in baseball. Forty seven wins means their entire roster was replacement level. To be fair, they underplayed their Pythagorean by eight wins, so they were actually a little better than their record– but still horrible. Everyone expects a major housecleaning operation from top-to-bottom at Camden Yards, but the question remains: What bright young GM, that is needed to turn this shipwreck of a franchise around, will work for this owner? Orioles fans need to fire their owner, by pressuring him to sell. Don’t buy MLB-priced tickets for this AAAA team– I say. Otherwise Angelos will just hire another “Yes man” like GM Dan Duquette. Orioles owner Peter Angelos has been an albatross to this franchise for too long, as he’s the one who is most responsible for the Chris Davis contract. There’s no hope of bringing in the brain-power needed to fix things, with Angelos meddling & in charge.

Mon 01 Oct 2018 05:21:37 PM EDT

Final from Wrigley Field: Brewers win 3-1, and celebrate a divisional championship, punching their ticket to the Divisional Round as the NL’s #1 seed. They will play TBD on Thursday, at a still undetermined time. The Cubs & their fans witnessed all this, but it doesn’t hurt too much. The Cubs can shake it off, and go get ’em tomorrow at Wrigley against TBD @ 8:00 PM on ESPN. It sure is nice to have Wild Card insurance. Keeps the big boys fat & happy.

Meanwhile out west, the Rockies & Dodgers are facing off at Chavez Ravine. There was a time in MLB (pre-1994), when two teams finished in a tie for the divisional title, and it was magic. One game, sudden death, for all the marbles. Back then winning the division meant you eliminated ALL your rivals & arch-rivals, and got to face the other division winner that did the same to theirs. The point is, in real baseball the Cubs would be eliminated right now. They lost Game 163, and that means you go home for the season– by the rules of real baseball. Unfortunately Bud Selig and the rest of the owners conspired with the networks to give fans this version of a MLB “pennant race” & “post-season” back in the 1990’s when no one was looking. As a lifetime fan, I can attest that this version of MLB is much inferior to the old one. It wasn’t broke, yet they had to “fix” it, and that’s arrogance for you.

My solution is to eliminate the Wild Card. The division winner with the best record goes directly to the LCS. The other two division winners face off, best-of-5. Head-to-head record and strength of division would be fair tie-breakers, as needed. Rotate the home field advantage for World Series, NL in even years and AL in odd years; like it used to be, from the time the DH was first introduced in 1973. Then finally, phase out the DH. That’s how you restore competitive balance, by eliminating these “innovations” introduced by greedy & short-sighted owners & their cronies in corporate media.

At Dodger Stadium, it’s 0-0 in the bottom of the 4th. It should be a charged atmosphere in LA right now, but it isn’t. Remember, this is LA and much of the crowd is still arriving. The team & fan mood there is hopeful. Hopeful they don’t have to fly to Chicago tomorrow, but they will if they have to. Can someone please rationally explain to me what the MLB regular season was for, besides making money?

Mon 01 Oct 2018 06:55:09 PM EDT

Right after (or as?) I was signing off, CF Cody Bellinger hit a 2-run HR to get the Dodgers started. Another 2-run homer in the 5th by 1B Max Muncy, and the Dodgers were on their way to a divisional title. Dodgers fans LOVE a blow-out win. It means they can leave early to “beat the traffic,” with little guilt. It turns out I was correct on the NL West after all, and if I even cared, I would loudly proclaim vindication. As someone who follows the NL West, the Dodgers are better than everyone else, even with all those injuries.

So it’s the Rockies who will fly to Chicago for Game 164 to determine who goes to the NL play-offs. When the “tie-breaker” game got to 5-0, Rockies manager Bud Black went with mostly mop-up options in relief, as this game was lost. It’s best to save the premium bullpen arms for the game that actually matters, the Wild Card game. Wade Davis & Adam Ottavino will be ready in the Rockies pen, and that’s how you have to play it if you are Bud Black. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.

The Cubs starter will be their ace, lefty Jon Lester who was maneuvered in the rotation by Joe Maddon weeks in advance to pitch this game if needed. Otherwise he’d have started Game 1 of the NLDS. The Wild Card hurts the Cubs in these ways: 1) if they lose to the Rockies, 2) if they win, they lose Lester leading off the NLDS and can only start him once in the best-of-5, and 3) they yield home field advantage to the division winners.

That’s it, as everything else is equalized, and everyone is 0-0 again after the Wild Card play-in winner is determined. The regular season has been over for 24+ hours now, but we still have a ways to go towards determining the playoff picture. Can you feel the excitement?

The Rockies starter will be either 5th starter, righty Antonio Senzatela; or their ace on short rest, lefty Kyle Freeland. I’m guessing the Rockies go with the latter. This sets everything up in the Cubs wheelhouse, and this is your MLB Wild Card in action. Call it the house edge for the establishment favorites, and even though the Brewers just defeated the Cubs and won their division, I’m already picturing a (re)match-up in the Divisional  Round, and I’m not alone. In a week the Cubs could be returning the favor to the Brewers & their fans in Miller Park.

As for the Rockies, they were the bullies of the NL West in 2018. That’s a Padres fan perspective. They threw at Padres repeatedly (who had no starting pitching to defend their hitters), and broke CF Manny Margot’s wrist intentionally, for no good reason. With that said, I still hope the Rockies beat the Cubs tomorrow, but I know better. The pressure will be on the Rockies to get an early lead, and if they don’t the percentages (and short rest) will likely crack them. It’s baseball, and anything can happen, but you need to be aware of the fix and this is as close as it gets in MLB.

Mon 01 Oct 2018 09:03:19 PM EDT

This consistent unfair bias towards big market franchises can be seen in the post-season seeding in the NL. The Brewers finished 96-67, highest win total in the NL. The Cubs were second highest at 95, but will be the 4th-seed, because they are the Wild Card. Just because, on that. That means the #2-seeded Dodgers (92-71) host the #3-seeded Braves who won only 90 games. The Brewers would surely prefer to face the Braves, and maybe even the Dodgers, but they have no choice, as it’s been decided in advance by the powers-that-be. Note how this leaves the possibility of a Dodgers-Cubs NLCS, which is what MLB & ESPN/Fox want. In the AL they want the Red Sox or Yankees in the World Series every year.

Also note that the AL Wild Card game could have been switched with the NL Wild Card game, as far as the Tuesday/Wednesday dates go. The Rockies, who won 9 of 10 games to end the season in a tie with LA. They haven’t had an off-day since September 20. The A’s @ Yankees is scheduled for Wednesday night, meaning they both get two off-days. Do you believe ANYONE but me has brought up the idea that it would be in the best interests of MLB to accommodate the weariness of the Rockies here? Most ESPN & Fox sports reporters couldn’t name three Rockies players in 10 seconds. In contrast, they know everyone on the Cubs as the background is already done. So who do who YOU like in the big game tomorrow? Also know that the Yankees (& Red Sox) never accommodate anyone for the best interest of all. That’s why they’re so despised. It’s the corrupt power structure behind all this that I despise.

Wed 03 Oct 2018 01:25:41 AM EDT

Cubs-Rockies 2018 NL Wild Card wrap-up: Tons of pitching changes, as this game went past midnight in two time zones, ending at ~1:07 AM ET. Rockies win 2-1, in 13 innings. The starters pitched well, as expected, but were long gone by the time things were decided at Wrigley Field. The Colorado Rockies got a run in the top of the 1st on a sacrifice fly, and ace LHP Kyle Freeland (on 3 days rest) made it hold up through 6.2, leaving the game with a 1-0 lead. On normal rest Freeland probably would have gone 8 IP, and the Rockies would have won 1-0. But instead Rockies righty set-up man Adam Ottavino gave up the tying run in the 8th, and this affair became a battle of bullpens & benches.

Rockies manager Bud Black used 5 relief pitchers, and Joe Maddon used 8 relievers, including 2 starters: Cole Hamels & (losing pitcher) Kyle Hendricks. He also used his entire bench, as many Cubs played multiple positions. Home plate umpire Chris Guccione was solid with balls & strikes, and there were no umpire or replay controversies that affected the outcome. The Rockies play the Brewers in the Divisional Round, which is much more fair to the NL Central champions, versus having to beat the Cubs again. This is a major MLB upset, as the Rockies had every disadvantage you could name, and still managed to beat the Cubs. That’s baseball.

I learn a lot about the hidden nuances of baseball, as compared to those who watch games on television, by following along (as needed) on MLB Gameday. Online is where the numbers of every pitch, the results of all balls put into play, and a running box score are kept for in-game reference. Highlights come soon enough, if one remains alert & patient with the MLB video feed. If you really want to know what’s happening, then you have to do some work, and this is the tool to get it done.

IMO, this is WAAAYYY better than listening to ESPN or Fox announcers, who mostly should be muted while switching to a radio broadcast, if entertainment is the desired goal. Those “golden voices” are mostly gone now, or at minimum, taken off-the-air during modern MLB post-season broadcasts. Their best replacement is Gameday, which gives intelligent baseball fans the data they need, particularly in identifying how pitchers are working hitters and any drop in velocity. Also, as soon as I start seeing inconsistent balls & strikes umpiring, I’m looking at the home plate umpire’s name in the box score. Teams all have vast troves of data on this stuff now.

The best-run franchises in MLB have this in common: they are all well-coordinated from ownership to GM to dugout manager to the players. This extends through the minors & globally. There is little-to-no disharmony in their words & actions concerning the product on the field, or the direction the organization is taking. The GM job is the most crucial, as they must handle the manager & the players, as well as upper-management & ownership– quite a juggling act. Responsibility for an organization’s success or failure most squarely rests on a GM’s shoulders.

A manager needs to understand when he must sit veterans, in order to give playing time to young talent, so an accurate determination of baseball abilities can be made. A GM needs this, so he doesn’t trade away a future All-Star or HoF-er, because he didn’t get enough at-bats or starts as a prospect. When a season becomes lost, organizational priorities change, and the dugout manager must yield extra consideration to the GM, who needs a large-enough sample size to evaluate young players, because growth is involved. Everybody is looking at potential, and grading on improvement. It’s not what you are now, as much as what you can become. That’s the job requirement for at least half the managers in MLB.

A manager’s job is to manage his 25-man roster. That means getting to know, and caring about his players as real people, instead of treating them like pieces of meat. Too many old-school managers crash their roster, or don’t get enough out of the available talent, as they let their egos dictate because they lack brains. It’s a manager’s job to not abuse his pitchers. He needs to know how to build & handle his bullpen, and use his bench. Proper leadership prevents injuries, which always need to be managed, and not allowed to linger on, be rushed back, or go unreported, otherwise they can wreck a roster.

All this requires GM involvement, as players on the 40-man roster are shuffled up & down as depth issues come up. Trade deadline acquisitions are also a team decision for an organization. There needs to be complete agreement on what is needed, and what to give up. Today’s manager needs to be quotable & media friendly, to take the heat off his players and stick up for them as needed. Good managers never trash their players or organization through the media, as all dirty laundry is handled professionally, in house, and in person. In short, winning teams have deep pockets, roster depth, and management that knows how to use it. The Astros are the best at this game right now.

The best teams at this in recent years have been the Astros, Giants, Cubs, Indians, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Brewers, Braves, A’s, Rays, and Padres. That’s a diverse group as far as winning goes, spread out at different points on the win curve, but if you look closely at these examples of elite MLB organizational management, you’ll see how all these franchises have succeeded, or in the case of the Padres, will be the next to succeed. They consider & play every angle.

As for the AL Wild Card, I hope the A’s win, and then go on to sweep the Red Sox. Wouldn’t it be nice? At this point a fan can still dream of it, so I’m ending this serial here. An ending in the middle. It’s true that baseball holds the key to many of the cosmological riddles of our time and I see great things in it, but it’s also a job and mine is over here. With that said, I’ll finish my remaining thoughts on the game here in italics, and when tomorrow night’s reality arrives, I’ll happily be doing something else & not caring.

The fact is the Yankees would win two-out-of-three of these type games at The House That Ruthlessness Built, if they played a large enough sample to determine. A 33% chance for the A’s may be generous, but it also proves that baseball can be unpredictable. What’s published here is proof of that.

The two-Wild Card format began in 2012, and it was an upgrade as it finally made the Wild Card a play-in game. Before that there was no difference between winning the division or Wild Card, except for seeding in the post-season & draft order. The results in the NL have been either: 1) big-market powerhouses (Giants, Cubs) smashing middling second-Wild Card entries, or 2) a Reds-Pirates type affair. Until the Rockies beat the Cubs in 2018.

The Astros were moved to the AL in 2013, from the 6-team NL Central to the 4-team AL West, transforming that franchise, while finally providing competitive balance (and sensible interleague scheduling) for 30 MLB teams. In the AL since 2012, the Wild Card has been won by: the Orioles, Rays, Royals, Astros (over Yankees) in 2015, Blue Jays (over Orioles) in 2016, and the Yankees in 2017. That’s a lot of AL East participation & winning, you may have noticed. The only year the AL East didn’t have a Wild Card team under this format was in 2014, when the Royals beat the A’s.

Those were (coincidentally) the last years of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, etc, and the Yankees were actually rebuilding. Meanwhile the Red Sox had their two worst seasons in recent history in 2014 & 2015. That gave the Royals a window to win a World Series, which they did in 2015. It was definitely an anomaly in MLB. The Royals have now collapsed, and the Red Sox have since traded the farm to become a win-now heavyweight, which is considered the new “normal” for fall in New England.

Concerning free agency this winter, there is much that can be predicted with accuracy. Owners have been told by their GM’s that they shouldn’t overpay for veterans, unless they are top-tier non-pitchers. See RHP Hu Darvish, who signed with the Cubs, and had been on the DL since, with all kinds of arm troubles. That’s 6 years, $126 million down the drain. It was Eric Hosmer & JD Martinez who were coveted last winter. This year it will be SS Manny Machado of the Dodgers, and RF Bryce Harper of the Nationals. Neither will get anything close to the kind of money that they had hoped for, or been hyped on. Bryce Harper is the youngest, about to turn 26, so he can expect an 8-year deal at maximum money. A few years ago, many owners would throw that kind of offer any age 30-ish slugger.

The bigger problem is that mid-tier free agents are getting far fewer big-money offers than they’ve seen in the past. A 2/$10 million deal is a common FA player deal these days. Many free agent pitchers had to take one-year deals. A 4-5-year deal only goes to free agent performers who are in demand. Last winter was the MLB free-agent market crash, and I reported it on this site. It got me kicked off the MLB.com forum, if you need an idea of how sensitive this issue is. Players of all experience levels in Spring Training 2018 had pointed questions for their MLBPA representatives on this heated topic. Their perspective is that if they’re exploited in the minors, and underpaid as arbitration eligible big-leaguers; then what’s the point of free agency if they can’t get a contract that fairly compensates them for their value– past, present or future? Veterans are now dumped for cheaper options, and never get the payday they were promised by the MLBPA union & their agents. This issue won’t just “go away,” so look for it during the hot stove season.

Back to this post-season & its format, an undiscussed point on big market favoritism that pervades MLB is the World Series home field advantage decider. As mentioned above, it is best overall record that decides home field advantage in the Fall Classic. In the World Series, being a division winner is declared irrelevant by MLB, and it’s suddenly best overall record that decides home field advantage. In the AL, the Yankees & A’s are the Wild Cards. The winner doesn’t get home field advantage in the Divisional or ALCS rounds– if they get that far, but they’ll have home field advantage in the World Series if they make it, because they both had a better overall record than all the NL division winners.

There is no consistency to any of this “logic,” until your realize the deeper bias involved. Every year the high-payroll Yankees & Red Sox slug it out in the AL East, and are often the teams with the two best records in MLB– like this year. This flip in the rules for a Wild Card, allows both the Yankees & Red Sox to have home field advantage in the World Series, whomever the Wild Card may be. This year is was the Yankees. This is significant, because of the DH advantage for the AL.

The DH is a major distortion in the rules of baseball. MLB is the only professional sports organization that has significantly different rules for their competing leagues. The NFL has the same rules for the NFC/AFC, and the NBA the same rules for their Eastern & Western Conferences. Same thing in the NHL and everywhere else, except maybe NASCAR– where the rules change week-by-week.

The DH allows the Red Sox to start HoF-ers like RHP’s Pedro Martinez & Curt Schilling, and move this slot in the batting order up to 3rd, so HoF-hitter David Ortiz can pinch hit for them every time. Instant “Babe Ruth” through the DH, to end “The Curse.” Plus, AL pitchers can throw at anyone they please, without ever having to face retribution at the plate. Ain’t the DH grand? The problem is that it’s unfair to most AL teams that can’t afford to compete at that level of payroll, and it’s completely unfair to NL teams, who can’t carry a DH on their 25-man roster during the season.

That’s why interleague play is dominated by the AL, who win two-thirds of the contests, so of course [!] all the AL powerhouses will own the best overall records in MLB. The AL almost always wins the All-Star Game too, as more power pitching & hitting is required to compete in the AL, due to the DH. For years the All-Star game winner was tied to World Series home field advantage. This reflected the same bias. Now there’s a new method to achieve the same desired results.

The World Series winners are closer to even, with a slight advantage to the AL. Both teams get a chance to adjust their 25-man rosters before the World Series, which can help a NL team add a bat they may need. Since 1995, the first season with the Wild Card “innovation” that was played to completion, through 2017; the AL has won the World Series 12 times, and the NL 11 times. In the 23 All-star games during that span, the AL is 17-5-1. * There was a tie in 2002, at Miller Park with MLB commissioner/ex-owner Bud Selig (now a HoF-er) in attendance. To summarize, in a short series (small sample size) like the Fall Classic, the best NL teams can overcome the DH, but it’s still a disadvantage to them. Over time with a large number of games, the NL gets get crushed by the DH.

What these findings & conclusions on this biased format indicate, is that MLB prefers the Yankees or Red Sox to win the World Series every year, as the rules are all set up to that effect. Don’t forget that the MLB rules committee & replay umpiring is run out of New York, and is supervised by the likes of ex-Yankee manager Joe Torre. BTW, who are these replay officials–specifically? Fans would like their names & faces– for accountability. Everyone else in baseball is accountable for their actions, so why do these replay umpires in New York keep themselves anonymous, hidden & far away? To ask the question is to answer it.

Meanwhile, lookout for replay bias in the post-season, as it’s happened too often in the past for fans to ignore. When a controversial call is made, it overwhelmingly favors the big-market franchise. Those bad calls are glossed over by network announcers, swept under-the-rug by the corporate media, and ended with the ultimate excuse, “the Yankees/Red Sox/Cubs/Dodgers would have won anyways.” On the other hand, when a controversial call goes against one of these big-name favorites, there is hysterical indignation in the ESPN-led sports media for a week.

What I’ve highlighted & exhaustively analyzed here (concluded after the NL Wild Card game), is a lot of really small stuff that no one else talks about, yet subtly works in the background– always to the advantage of the favored franchises. So why is this? The answer is money & TV ratings. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a US mid-term election on November 6, and political advertising has already been paid-for. The last thing MLB and it’s network sponsors want are the Oakland A’s vs. the Milwaukee Brewers or Colorado Rockies in the World Series. That may be an intriguing match-up from a purist standpoint, the problem is there are WAY more greedy politicians than baseball purists running & influencing MLB from behind-the-scenes.

MLB manipulates all this because it needs the Yankees or Red Sox to battle the Cubs or Dodgers for all this to pay off. Professional sports is big money & politics, so Cleveland or Houston winning the pennant would be considered a disappointment in the AL, as would be the Braves winning it in the NL. After the Cubs lost the Wild Card game, it was instantly down to the Dodgers for most MLB executives as far as the NL is concerned. Once you absorb all this, then you are ready to watch the MLB post-season with a fair idea of what to expect, and how it’s going to be called.

NL West
Contenders: Dodgers, Diamondbacks (WC)
Pretenders: Padres, Rockies, Giants

What happened: The high-payroll Dodgers weathered a barrage of injuries, and outlasted everyone in the competitive NL West. The Rockies surprised me some, as I thought the Diamondbacks were better positioned to repeat themselves for a Wild Card run. If you look at their Pythagorean records (ARZ & COL) you’ll see their places in the standing should be reversed, an example of luck factor which you can’t prognosticate in baseball. The Giants doubled down on veterans over the winter in a vain attempt to make another miracle. Look for wholesale roster changes in SF this winter, as they finished fourth. This is still the toughest division in the NL from top-to-bottom.

I’m a Padres fan, so I optimistically picked the Friars to rise to third place out West, but quickly realized this was a last-place team. In 2017 the Padres were 71-91 and finished fourth, but their Pythagorean record was 59-103. I overlooked that Pythagorean, and that’s why I’m emphasizing it here. The reason the Padres overplayed their record by 12 games in 2017 was 1) Andy Green is an elite manager, and 2) LHP Brad Hand had a season for the ages. Andy Green used Hand often & precisely, and he delivered time & time again. In 2017, there were so many situations where Brad Hand came in a serious jam, and he got the strikeout and/or double play ground ball to end the threat. Hand saved his bullpen mates a ton of runs, and made them look a lot better (ERA wise) than they actually were.

It would be an impossible to expect him to repeat that performance in 2018, and Hand wasn’t quite as good this season, although he’s still an All-Star. The Padres dealt him before the trade deadline to Cleveland for Francisco Mejia, the top catching prospect in MLB. The Padres have played Mejia extensively already and are impressed. This looks like a win-win trade, which is what you like to see when this kind of talent is involved.

Final analysis & Padres notes: As we can see, I got some stuff right and other stuff wrong. Most of the right stuff was easy to predict, as not much has changed in MLB. I’ve admitted my errors and shown you that I don’t know everything about baseball. Don’t you wish more sports-media types would do this? It will probably be another year or two before we see significant turnover in the top teams, as the best-run franchises are pretty well established now, and the second-division teams have a long way to go. The fate & direction of the Nationals will be a big story this winter.

The best bet for a surprise NL contender in 2019 will be the San Diego Padres who have the top farm system in MLB, with a few pieces in already place. Wil Myers moving to 3B will be a big help to the Padres, if he can stay healthy and hold down the position. They have top prospect SS Fernando Tatis Jr. and hitting machine 2B Luis Urias ready to fill in their infield. Age-23 RF Franmil Reyes has been a huge surprise for the Padres in this developmental campaign. He fits with CF Manny Margot and LF Hunter Renfroe who has also shown progress in 2018. Same for Austin Hedges, who is now a legit MLB catcher. They’re still probably another year or two away, but you can see it coming if you’re paying attention.

A big factor in the improvement of these young core players was the addition of free agent 1B Eric Hosmer, who sacrificed personal numbers to provide necessary leadership for this fragile team. This definitely took its toll, making him look bad in 2018, but his efforts weren’t lost on Andy Green & real Padres fans. For the first half of the season, Eric Hosmer was the only Padres position player to be healthy & above replacement level.

The reason this team hasn’t lost 100+ games in a season at any time during this painful building process is because of ownership support for A.J. Preller & Andy Green, who are geniuses at what they do. The Padres are currently one game below their X-W/L in 2018, and much of that is due to the bias in umpiring (on-the-field & replay) that has consistently gone against them. The Padres have been repeated victims of inexplicably bad calls, including the worst umpiring call in the history of baseball, which was barely mentioned in the media. It’s taken a few wins away for sure.

Of course, it’s all about pitching in terms of who wins in baseball, and the Padres dumped/demoted their remaining veterans a few months back, and have turned their rotation over to rookies & prospects to see what they have. Young LHP’s Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi and RHP Jacob Nix are the starters Green & Preller are watching the most closely. When the waves of top pitching talent start making an impact at Petco Park, the Padres will be a force in the NL. The priority for GM A.J. Preller this winter is to protect his prospects from the Rule 5 Draft in December, and then possibly make a deal for an ace pitcher– if one becomes available.

Tue 02 Oct 2018 01:17:08 PM EDT

Padres Notes Wrap-up:

The San Diego Padres went 66-96, and they saved their best for the last play of the season. Bottom of the 10th against the Diamondbacks, 3-3 tie, one out with Manny Margot on third base after tripling. Rookie catcher Francisco Mejia strikes out swing, but the ball scoots past catcher JR Murphy. Mejia sees this, and runs to first base– like he’s supposed to. Murphy scrambles, gathers the ball, but doesn’t have time to check Margot who is holding with a big lead off of third. Murphy fires to first for the put-out on the strikeout, while Margot breaks for home. When 1B Daniel Descalso double clutches, Margot slides in safely with the winning run without a throw, and the Petco crowd goes wild!! The 2018 San Diego Padres were the craziest 66-win team I have ever followed. It was mostly painful, but it had a few moments like these, enough to keep me coming back in 2019.

1B/OF/3B Wil Myers is a big issue for this organization. He’s now age 27, and had another disappointing season. The experiment at 3B in August/September, didn’t go well. Padres GM AJ Preller now faces the need to fill a position (3B), and move a potential 5th-wheel who is about to become overpaid. Look for the Padres to get creative and move Myers this winter, in a big trade to acquire a 3B and/or pitching prospects. All this depends on the organization’s confidence in Myers being able to play 3B, and his overall character– which I really don’t know. I don’t believe they will make any significant free agent splashes, like they did with 1B Eric Hosmer last winter.

The Mets have been rumored to be interested in dealing RHP Noah Syndergaard, but who knows the asking price, or AJ Preller’s level of interest with his injury history. LHP Clayton Kershaw will remain with the Dodgers, so I don’t see any ace-level pitching becoming available. Best to build from within on that front. We saw last winter (and this season) what free-agent pitchers are actually worth. It’s an overpay, for injury risk & drop-off performance. Young pitchers are premium value, at league minimum rates. The same goes for players/hitters. An organization that has that going has the nucleus for a divisional dynasty that will compete for a World Series. Free-agents & acquired veterans can only fill-in needs, they can’t be the core as they are too costly, and prone to breakdown with diminishing results.

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Mallards 2

Mallards have their issues too, and here’s how they work them out. A quacky upstart gets the idea that she’s dominant, and challenges the existing dominant female to a duel.  It starts literally head-to-head, with each trying to uproot and submit the other.

They don’t bite, although they are fully capable, as this is a test of strength & brute force to determine dominance.

It quickly escalates & gets really quacky!! The chicks finally clear out (below) to avoid getting crushed.

The other ducks stand aside & witness, as feather fly when their wings are put into use, dueling for dominance!

Finally there is a submission, and everything is quickly back to normal, with no hard feelings as the alpha female takes her familiar place.

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Florida Gubernatorial Race & Trump 2020

It recently was revealed that Republican Florida gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis spoke four times at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an Islamophobic institution for Zionism in America, founded in 1988 and formerly known as the Center for the Study of Popular Culture. Their name change leads to the obvious question: why do these groups keep changing them? Ron DeSantis has no comment on the matter.

What looked like a Republican hopeful, with Donald Trump’s solid gold endorsement to take the governor’s seat in Tallahassee, has turned into a campaign of self-inflicted wounds for Ron DeSantis. It happened from the start, after easily winning the primary over heavily-endorsed establishment Republican Adam Putnam. It was then that DeSantis told the voters of Florida not to “monkey up” this important election. That’s been played in Democratic attack ads & media pieces ever since, and will be until Gillum’s victory on November 6th.

In-your-face, overt racism will mobilize black voters. That’s a political tip for Republican strategists who don’t get it. Black & Hispanic voters are THE key racial demographics in this race, and Andrew Gillum is the African-American mayor of Tallahassee. He is seen in the media as more “folksy,” which is nice during an election, and appears to have more energized supporters with the better “ground game.” The latest Rasmussen Reports poll conducted on 9-10/9-11, have Gillum at +6, with a 3.5% margin-of-error, which puts a black Democrat in the Florida governor’s mansion. That’s a potential political bombshell just seven week out.

Florida has been consolidated top-to-bottom under Republican-controlled machinery since 1998. It was governor (and brother) Jeb Bush, along with Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris who delayed the final counting of votes during Election 2000. Bush/Cheney were in sync with the Republican machinery that controlled the electronic voting machines and paper ballots. The right-wing US Supreme Court was eventually maneuvered to intercede, and declared the election certified with the remaining uncounted votes not needing to be counted. The rationale was that the Electoral College decides the US Presidency, therefore there is no right to vote, and thus no need to count all the ballots. Case closed: Bush v Gore 2000.

This machinery also locked up Florida in 2004, in the Bush/Cheney squeaker to outdistance the blah Democratic ticket of John Kerry/John Edwards. It came down to manipulation in Ohio that cycle, but Florida was also highly-fudged and possibly tipped to the Republicans. The point is Florida is always in play, and is a bellwether for US Presidential elections. That makes the Andrew Gillum campaign of more-than-passing interest to astute political observers of all parties.

Trump won Florida, Michigan & Pennsylvania in Election 2016. If Hillary Clinton had won one of those states, she would be US President. Of those three battleground states, Michigan is the one Democrats must hold, otherwise they lose. Hillary Clinton’s reactionary feminism and identity politics campaign came off as too phony to too many voters dealing with mass poverty, industrial blight, and infrastructure collapse (Flint water) that Democrats have ignored on their watch for too long. That’s why she lost, when it was all handed to her, and the Democrats are still pretty upset about it in case you haven’t noticed.

People don’t get energized by Democratic party rhetoric anymore, because it’s been revealed in countless ways to be lies & hype. With that said, Trump is widely perceived as worse, so he can’t expect to win Michigan again in 2020. Pennsylvania is the swing state of the three in play here, in that the Keystone State can go either way, and in that sense it is the decider of the Electoral College if everyone else holds. Florida is a must-hold for Republicans and Trump 2020. The kicker is that Trump probably can’t win Florida without the Republican state machinery fully backing him. Those are the stakes here, and it has nothing to do with ideology– it’s pure power politics, which means reaction all down the line– unless the working masses intervene.

In comparison, the Senate race between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and term-limited Republican governor Rick Scott (+1.6%) is a sideshow. We’re talking about a hotly contested, heavyweight political race in a key swing state, with the context being a current Republican 51-49 majority in the US Senate up-for-grabs, and it’s second fiddle to a local-yokel governor’s race, which is seen by many analysts & insiders as decisively influencing the 2020 Presidential election. Trump can lose 2020 here in 2018, and his team knows it. That’s why they are upping the fear factor and bullying aggression, which has no other logic except this.

This is high-stakes politics and Ron DeSantis (above, right) isn’t up for it. He has looked like a clown repeatedly, and unless there is a major “gaffe” or scandalous revelation from Andrew Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor should win comfortably– as his lead is already beyond the margin-of-error and increasing. There are still plenty of good ol’ boys who think they should decide everything, and billionaire Ron DeSantis is one of them, but they are no longer the majority.

In what was seen as a highly-unusual political move (even by Florida standards), DeSantis ceded his incumbent congressional seat on Monday September 10, to “focus exclusively on the gubernatorial race.” The way the political winds have been blowing recently, I get a sense that Ron DeSantis would have a hard time holding his congressional seat against any significant Democratic challenger.

DeSantis doesn’t have any real Republican support in Florida that is helpful. Adam Putnam would have at least given Gillum a better run, and possibly been able to steal it for the GOP. DeSantis’ campaign has no specifics on anything, little local support, and is overtly racist– making him DOA. Trump picked him, so he deserves to lose in 2020 (if we get that far) for his low-IQ decision to endorse Ron DeSantis over someone who had actual political clout in Florida. It’s just another example of Donald Trump’s ego in self-destruct mode, and it’s why Republicans are so divided over him.

Since I live in the middle of all this, I scan the media for attendance of each party’s rallies & public events– however I can. I observe that it’s mostly empty chairs, as it’s way too hot to listen to political nonsense outdoors in the middle of the day, just to be on TV as part of a crowd. That’s what I’m noticing. I’m also not seeing very many signs in people’s yards, or much enthusiasm concerning capitalist politics. In certain neighborhoods, you need to be extra careful about what you put in your yard. People will rip out your sign and trash it if it’s not locally agreeable, and when it’s this hot with no relief in sight, people tend to get disagreeable quickly. That’s just how it is in Florida at the end of summer. Global warming and all…

Yes, there is still good ol’ boy resentment over losing the American Civil War (1861-65), and it doesn’t respect Yankee authority– especially when it’s been exposed as hypocrisy. These are your Bible thumpers, n-th generation rednecks, and conservative “snowbird” retirees who have lived here forever and run all the local governments, police and public utilities– and they are nearly all Republicans. This is not going to be a peaceful co-existence if/when leftist-posturing Democrat Andrew Gillum wins the governor’s mansion. This political intrigue & social powder keg in Florida is a perfect microcosm of the US political economy.

High Times & Tides: Marijuana legalization is a political issue in Florida, and it became a police issue in Ormond Beach in the days preceding the passage of Hurricane Florence, as surfers spotted square groupers (above) among the waves. Local authorities seized the bales of cannabis in plastic wrap, and speculated it came from a drug boat that got caught in the storm and had to dump cargo.

Aye, Taipan!!

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