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Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia

Nora Ephron is, as usual, sure footed. No point in reviewing this movie, just go see it. If you liked, Like Water for Chocolate or Babette’s Feast, and if you care about food, any food but especially French food, you are likely to appreciate this film. It is a small masterpiece. It is, however, worth looking at a couple of reviews. Ann Hornaday’s review in the Washington Post just sucks. I might have delved a bit deeper into the vocabulary bag to describe her review but my visceral reaction is: God, this review sucks. Where do newspapers get these people and where does some third rate hack working in a dying industry get off carping about a very bright and innovative writer who made her very own success by creating a blog when that activity was in its infancy? Hornaday is overly impressed with Streep (and herself) and apparently is unwilling to give credit to Amy Adams who carries this film. Why is Hornaday allowed to review movies?

A. O. Scott’s piece in the N.Y. Times is closer to the mark. Since I am in no way beholden to the film industry–no junkets, no freebies, no wining and dining–I will say at the outset that I am not a Meryl Streep fan. I think she has done her best work imitating more or less real people—The Devil Wears Prada, comes to mind and now Julie and Julia. Do others remember Meryl Streeps’s costars Hornaday asks. Perhaps not, but the more pertinent question is: Do folks remember Streep’s films? With the recent loss of Paul Newman, one of the gas shows on NPR was playing “name your favorite Paul Newman film.” I rattled off a half dozen without effort, most not on the list of usual suspects. Among them was Absence of Malice which co-starred Sally Field. I immediately rattled off a half dozen of her films and so on. I cannot do that for Meryl Streep without really thinking hard. I can dredge up the two academy award roles but not much else comes to mind.

I never had any reason to observe the model for her character in the Devil Wears Prada but we all had access to Julia Child, the real thing, right there on our television screen. I was at one point in a position to determine whether an entire state would see the French Chef. I though the host quirky and endowed with the worst voice I had ever heard, although there was admittedly something entirely endearing in her famous tag, “Bon appetit!” The show was successful in other markets, but Oklahoma sure as hell wasn’t Boston. We looked at half a dozen other cooking shows but it was Julia we kept. Streep nails Julia. She creates a young Julia, makes her independent, endearing and altogether likeable. Nobody dislikes Julia.

But it is Amy Adams who carries this film. She is plucky, angst infused and stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare, the aftermath of 911. She saves herself, as Julia had saved herself earlier by finding something to do. For Julia it was cooking and her famous book, for Julie it was blogging. She became the writer she wanted to be, without being strained through the publishing world sieve. I cannot envision a film about Julia Child’s My Life in France (substitute My life In Kenya) without the counterpoint of Julie’s blog.

This is a fine film. Film reviews, of course, are best used to line bird cages.
Don Singleton

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A Bridge Too Fat

A Bridge Too Fat

The right wing reactionaries and their propaganda machine have just gone right round the bend. My assumption is that they are afraid to criticize Regina Benjamin because she is black or because she is a woman, or because she is eminently qualified to be Surgeon General so here is what these pin head have dug up. She is not qualified to be Surgeon General because she is Too Fat. Aside from the fact that you couldn’t make this stuff up, one might note that, as Senator Al Franken so aptly put it, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot! Haley Barbour who is now being touted as the next great white hope for the Republican Party is a great white whale, and the last time I checked the only skinny Republicans are looking for love in all the wrong places, either hanging out in the men’s room in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport or walking the Appalachian Trail en route to Argentina.

Given the choice between portly brilliant and skinny stupid, I will take portly brilliant every time. George Bush you will recall was skinny. Yes, some idiots are skinny. And some portly people are brilliant. Benjamin Franklin comes to mind. The point is that we are interested in Dr. Benjamin’s record, her accomplishments, her human decency, and her smarts, not her dress size.

My advice to Dr. Benjamin is if you got it flaunt it! She should smile sweetly for the camera and say: “As I am a political moderate, this crowd of bloviating. right-wing, reactionary, racist peckerwoods can kiss my size 18 assets—not on the left wing, not on the right wing, but right in the middle.”

Don Singleton

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The Death of Dr. George Tiller



From Democracy Now:  Supporters of reproductive rights are mourning the killing of … Dr. George Tiller. The sixty-seven-year-old Tiller was shot Sunday as he attended services at his Wichita, Kansas church. The gunman fled the scene, but a suspect was later caught in a Kansas City suburb. The suspect, fifty-one-year-old Scott Roeder, has a history of involvement in anti-abortion activism and was once arrested and jailed on explosives charges. He has ties to the right-wing separatist group known as the Freemen.



If I were Michael Savage or Rush Limbaugh, I would just assert that the hate speech spewed hourly, daily…forever by the Hate Mongers at Hate Radio and Hate Television killed Dr. George Tiller.  Bill O’Reilly was forever calling Dr. George Tiller a murderer and no doubt  Scott Roeder found deep in the recesses of his twisted mind some justification for stalking Dr. Tiller on Sunday and gunning him down inside his church.  No doubt he felt empowered by the likes of Bill O’Reilly. 


But looked at coldly in the bright light of day one can easily draw the conclusion that Hate Radio and Hate Television kills.  It is these mouthpieces of the reactionary right that beat the drums of war while yelling and screaming and pounding the table for law and order, that scream invectives at any one who has the brains to believe that disparate religions and disparate governments can rise above the law of the jungle and find accommodation.  It is these foul, intellectual pornographers that scream for every tax dollar to be dumped down the Pentagon rabbit hole, who turn foreign aid into aid for gun runners and weapons manufacturers, and who provide all the reason any one, any where, any time would need to hate America. 


Foreign policy is a boomerang.  You get back, exactly what you send out. “They” don’t hate us for our freedoms.  “They” hate us because we steal their oil and kill their families.


 No matter that law and order zealots like Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus have long since   fried their brains with drugs so that they are past processing anything that approaches the truth.  No matter that Michael Savage is such a blatant reactionary, racist, inflammatory ideologue that he has been banned in Britain.  No Matter that Laura Ingraham and Tammy Bruce, Neal Bortz , Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and the rest of this evil crowd are paid big bucks to spew the crap they spew.  No matter. 


But now they have more to answer for.  Insanity begets insanity and Scott Roeder’s murder of Dr. Tiller is the logical outcome of this kind of hate speech.  Bully for Great Britain!


Communities where these hate radio stations operate need to make it clear to the Federal Communications Commission that this kind of so called programming is not in the public interest and that it will not be tolerated.  When there were decent Commissioners at the FCC this kind of hate spewing caused the loss of licenses.  We need to get back to Federal oversight of the public property that is the American airwaves.  City Councils and County Councils need to condemn these stations for the cancers that they are and move to excise them.  And if these elected representatives don’t have the courage to speak up,  then the voters should replace them.


As for the Hate radio and Hate Television crowd, they need to–to a mouthpiece, without exception–consider the evil that they do and repent.

Don Singleton


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Savage Banned in Britain, Powell Bashes Limbaugh


Here is a quote pulled from the internet:  Colin Powell is perhaps the only prominent Republican who has consistently stood up to Limbaugh and urged other Republicans to turn away from his divisive rhetoric. Powell recently said this: “I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without.”


The hate mongers of Hate Radio and Hate Television Incorporated are at it as always.  But there are a few rays of hope peeking over the horizon.  Great Britain has placed Michael Savage on a list of undesirables.  His hate speech is seen as destructive, divisive and dangerous.  He is not allowed to enter Great Britain.  Now, the hit dog howls constantly on his radio show about the unfairness of it all.  No matter that he attacks members of the Democratic Party with a viciousness that passes understanding.  Oh Poor Baby!! He is unfairly listed as a hate monger.  Well bully for Britain.  Does he have a right in this country under the first amendment to spew his hatred?  Yes.  Does he have the right to spew that garbage on the public airwaves without recourse to reply?  Absolutely not!  We should all lobby to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.  Give those who are attacked by this warped, bizarre, bloviator the opportunity to respond.  Propaganda is only effective if unanswered.

And speaking of the Fairness Doctrine, we have a new appointment to the Supreme Court, a Supreme Court packed with right wing reactionaries.  One of the members of the Supreme Court, Scolia, is one of the two judges who simply declared that the Fairness Doctrine which was settled law was not the law, and they got away with it.  The other judge was Robert Bork of the Saturday Night Massacre fame. Bork was at the bottom of the barrel where Richard Nixon was reaching to try to find someone to fire the special prosecutor.  Bork’s superiors resigned rather than commit a criminal act and Bork was left to do the deed. Ronald Reagan tried to appoint Bork to the Supreme Court but his appointment was denied.


Well the right wingers are saying”   Obama has appointed a Judicial Activist.  If you haven’t figured it out by now “Judicial Activist” is the right wing’s code for this is not a right wing proto fascist appointment and we should oppose her all guns blazing.  If you really want to see Judicial Activism, note the Fairness Doctrine decision by two judges who simply declared that settled law was not the law and the coronation of George Bush to the presidency by the reactionary members of the Supreme Court.  Scolia and Bork are the worst kind of ideologues and unfortunately Scolia now sits on the Supreme Court of the land.  Too bad we can’t just transfer him to some other parish.

The destruction of the Fairness Doctrine created Hate Radio and Hate television and unfortunately, Salisbury, Maryland, has two of these hate radio stations which carry the garbage.  Thankfully one is a day timer and disappears except in the small metropolitan area after sundown.  The other is an FM station with limited reach and so, thankfully, most folks outside Salisbury won’t associate the city with the proto fascism these stations spew.  You would think advertisers would understand that by placing ads on these hate filled and hateful stations they alienate all but a handful of mouth breathers and tin hat conspiracy types.  If I were buying media for advertising purposes, I wouldn’t go near either of these sad, simple minded outlets.

Ban them in America.  No! Just bring back the Fairness Doctrine so the propaganda they spew doesn’t go unanswered.

Don Singleton

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Local Blogger Wins Defamation Suit

The victory belongs to the First Amendment, not Albero.


Needless to say, I am not a big fan of Joe Albero’s blog.  However the lawsuit filed against Albero by former Mayor of Salisbury, Barrie Tilghman, was nonsense from the start.  Why it ever went to trial, I haven’t a clue.  The legal standard for proving defamation against public figures set by the Supreme Court in N.Y. Times Co. v. Sullivan and succeeding cases is very high.   The term of art is “Malice” and contains two vital points.  The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant printed material knowing that it was a lie or that the defendant acted with reckless disregard of the truth.  In other words, the plaintiff has to prove what was going on in the defendant’s brain or that the defendant’s behavior was so outrageous and reckless that the plaintiff has the right to recover.


It is not impossible for a public figure to recover damages but it is nearly so. 


Mr. Albero printed numerous attacks on his blog against the former Mayor, many of them tasteless and personal.  However he also printed material that was not being covered by the local print organ of the Corporate Media, the Daily Times.  The Mayor sued claiming defamation. 


The court found for the defendant.  It is the public’s right to know that is ensconced in the First Amendment, not Albero’s desire to aggravate a personal and political opponent, and certainly not the Mayor’s wish to suppress comment on her performance in office. If there was one nugget of useful information in this spit fight that otherwise would not have not been known, the public wins.  Otherwise it was just that, a spit fight, which provided the occasional moment of high glee.


Don Singleton

April 29/2009  

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Cezanne and Beyond: Ahhh Balm for the Soul

I spent two or three hours this week end with one of my favorite people, Paul Cezanne. When I first began to study Art (at least in any organized way as a student at UNC) one of the artists that struck me as being a little weirder, a little further out was Paul Cezanne. At first blush his painting seemed like crude impressionist paintings. I looked at his Card Players and several of his paintings of Mt. St. Victoire and thought this guy can’t paint a lick. And then I discovered, quite by accident, one of his still lives with apples and oranges and pears, arranged with the usual complement of drapery, table, wall paper backdrop and thought that looks like a normal painting but that plate of apples can’t just hang in the air like that. The line of the table disappears under the drapery to emerge somewhere else and to prove it I laid a straight edge along the table and Voila!, I was into the puzzle that is Paul Cezanne. After the invention of the photograph made painting reality more or less redundant, there was an explosion of experimentation. Cezanne was a giant among those painters loosely categorized as Post Impressionists. His paintings have been closely studied by students of art and the major artists who followed him. His influence is encapsulated in the following quote variously attributed to Matisse and Picasso: “Cezanne is the father of us all.”

As a graduate student in a television production course at UCLA we were charged to produce a thirty minute television show. Mine was called An Apple, An Orange and a Pear. The subject was Paul Cezanne’s influence on artists who followed. Most of the other shows were attempts at commercial sitcoms. Needless to say, neither my classmates nor my instructor seemed to “get it.” They praised the slickness of the production but thought the content left something to be desired—they just didn’t see how you could make a sitcom out of art. Under my breath, I muttered, the assignment was to produce a television program. It was one of the “Aha moments” that sent me packing from Hollywood.

There is no question of Cezanne’s enormous influence, and the exhibition contains works by Picasso, Matisse, Beckman and Leger, among others, that are homages, or direct lifts from his paintings or both. His paintings are, not to put too fine a point on it, eye candy wrapped in a puzzle, enfolded in a conundrum. That is to say they are not easy. You have to work at them, and I have discovered that I can rediscover almost all of his paintings with each new viewing. I visited a fairly substantial Cezanne exhibition a couple of years ago in New York which contained several of the paintings in this show. Seeing them was like greeting an old friend and catching up. What’s new? Well a lot if you observe carefully.

I have seen similar exhibitions where one painter’s influence is explored on those who followed (an exhibition in Paris several years ago of Picasso and Ingres comes to mind) but this one is particularly satisfying. First there is the power of Cezanne’s work and then, of course, there is the power of those who found his explorations and riffs irresistible.

This exhibition runs through May 31 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art which is close enough to drive although it makes for a really long day. Fair warning! It is pricey but then most museums are these days. Tickets for two, plus parking in the Museum garage, ran sixty bucks or so—the parking was ten. But if you really like painting, especially the period when perspective painting got knocked into a cocked hat, then this one is not to miss.

Go here for details:

Don Singleton

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An Intelligent Commentary on the State of the Military

Go here for one of the few intelligent discussions I have seen of the present sate of the military.
Don Singleton

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What Would Jesus Do??

In one of the Star Trek (OS) episodes the Enterprise is taken over by a group of aliens who have a device that turns humans in to blocks of minerals at the touch of a button.  Too bad these Cinder-rays are not readily available at Target or Costco as a defense against the so called Christian reactionaries who write such hateful garbage about the Obamas.  Here is the latest outrage:


These clowns are a certain argument that there is no intelligent design and that God is dead, asleep or out to lunch.  Maybe he’s just too busy trying to straighten out the banking mess caused by the Republican Wall Street greedheads to pay attention to cackling Ravens much less the fall of sparrows.  Therefore, since God is busy, I would like to be Jesus for a day and take my aforementioned Cinder-ray and put it to good use.  I would make a long list,  and as these fat oafish, bloviating,  windgbags huffed and puffed and regurgitated their bile, I would in my loudest God like voice say something like:  O’Reilly you just piss me off.  Then I would turn him into a salt block.  I would wait until Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh was in the middle of one of his rants and say in the loud God voice:  Limbaugh you are no longer a Big Fat Idiot.  You are a small skinny hexahedron.  Then I would fry his dead dumb ass.  The list would be long and satisfying:   Hannity, Tammy Bruce, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and the rest of that crowd of Hate Radio and Hate Television mouthpieces.  They all roundly deserve to be turned into salt blocks.


The neat thing about the Cinder-ray was that it could restore the salt blocks.  So after these morons served an adequate time out, I would return them to their former state.  Just kidding! 


Yeah, yeah, I know all that crap about forgiveness and turning the other cheek but that wears painfully thin after a time.  And maybe God forgives these peckerwoods for their venomous attacks but Lyle Lovette nailed it for most of us:  “God does but I don’t and God will but I won’t and that the difference between God and me.”


Don Singleton

April 8 2009     


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The Braying of Asses

“You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat’s meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough.” Aldous Huxley

For those who are nervous about the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine I offer you a real free speech issue. State Senator Andy Harris has now twice introduced legislation in the Maryland Assembly to de fund the University of Maryland should it allow students at the main campus to show a pornographic film.

Oh horror! College students, who copulate like rabbits on Viagra, might actually see other adults engaging in sex acts on the big screen. Armageddon cannot be a step behind. Let’s all gather at the Kool Aid cooler as we flag down the Hale Bopp Comet.

The UM administration being made up of… ummm, administrators and other assorted chickenshits… caved. UM students, on the other hand, have reacted by thumbing their collective noses at this reactionary jackass.

Those of us who have made a habit of observing the political scene in this country for forty or fifty years are likely to draw the conclusion that Andy Harris Is merely continuing his campaign for the First Congressional District seat now held by Frank Kratovil. The embarrassment of this episode, of course, is that the Maryland Assembly, also apparently composed of assorted dunderheads, didn’t smack it down in a very public way when it was proposed. I guess there is still enough political fear of reactionary fundamentalist whackos to prevent an intelligent response to this kind of tomfoolery.

Here is a little help for the Assembly. Any such law, were it to pass, is patently unconstitutional. Broadly barring speech of any kind on a campus or a particular locale won’t pass muster. As a member of a student body which sued the state legislature in North Carolina over a similar stupid law, I’ll be happy to send you the citation from the Supreme Court decision.

For voters who can vote in Harris’s State Senate district, the response to this embarrassment should be to work hard to see that he never darkens the Assembly door again. And if he does indeed run again for the First District Congressional seat, those of us who live in the First District and who want the government out of our bedrooms, out of our pocketbooks and out of our lives should work hard to see that he sinks like a stone.

Never Vote for an incumbent
Don Singleton, May 7, 2009

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Hate Radio Reaches a New Low


The latest in a long line of racial slurs to come out of Tammy Bruce’s pie hole is the assertion that the Obamas are “trash” living in the white house.  This is not her first offense and she has been repeatedly fired for spewing this stuff.  The pertinent questions are:  Why and How does she get back on the air and who is responsible. 


Tammy Bruce clearly has lots of anger that reaches more deeply than her revulsion at living in a homophobic society and supporting a homophobic Republican Party.   Her need to belong is reflective of the deep seated need of many homosexuals (and any body else in this society who is “the other,”– blacks, the poor, the disabled, etc–. I might add) to find some sense of belonging in a hostile society.  It appears that most of these right wing bloviators and demagogues are all somehow different.  They all appear to be psychologically unhinged and remind one of the old saw from college days.  Psychology and Psychiatry are not medicine; they are diseases in search of a cure.  So too the hate mongers are bent or diseased and are searching for some sort of cure by spewing hatred against all those who they view as somehow “different.”  They choose to deride and defame those they view as powerless and defenseless as a means of currying favor with the powerful and so collect their paychecks in the service of truly vile ideologues. 



I believe the conservatism of this crowd of harpies is born of self revulsion and self hate.  Note that none of these people have ever done a day’s honest labor and most,  no doubt,  do not have the practical wisdom to get in out of a shower of shit.  In short these folks are ill equipped to do anything except spew hatred.  For this they are paid by the large corporations who have been allowed to buy up licenses and close off the public airways to intelligent discussion of ideas.


If I were Barack Obama, no half witted mentally deficient blowhard would be allowed access to the public airwaves to spew hatred at my family.  His stewardship should extend to protecting his family and the American people from this kind of radioactive, racial invective.  Those who hold broadcasting licenses would be placed on notice that the day of this sort of garbage is over.  When the FCC was manned by decent folks who represented the American Public,  stations waved goodbye to their licenses when they acted in such an irresponsible manner.  As for the return of the Fairness Doctrine impacting the quality of journalism or freedom of speech, I would merely point out that in the heyday of Edward R. Murrow’s career at CBS the Fairness Doctrine was in full flower and it was Joe McCarthy’s exercise of his right of reply that gave the American public its first full frontal view of this demagogue.


Stations are licensed to operate in the public interest convenience and necessity. The garbage spewed by Tammy Bruce, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, O’Reilly, etc, etc is not in the public interest, not for the public convenience and it damned sure ain’t necessary.  We’ve had thirty years of  right wing cant and see where it has gotten us.  The economy is, along with these piles of dooky, right in the shitter and we are mired in two wars which are clearly unwinnable and which threaten to explode into regional conflicts at any moment, and the government is either so completely corrupt that it cannot act to clean up the financial sector or is completely paralyzed by fear.  Enough already!  The FCC should reinstate the Fairness Doctrine and put a WWF Smack Down two or three dozen of these mewling, puking hate radio and television outfits


Never Vote for an Incumbent

Don Singleton

Monday March 30, 2009        


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Rudeness, Annoyances and Aggravations


I don’t know who first said: “Would you like to super size that?” But if I knew and had the opportunity, I would gladly drop him into a fast food deep fryer to fry until his smarmy ass bubbled and floated.   There is little that is more annoying than perusing a menu, making your choices and then having some one try to switch you to something else.  Further, it is damned rude!   It’s like having a holy-roller show up at your door on Saturday morning when you have a banging hang over, who then tries to sell you Jesus and Armageddon.  It is the public equivalent of the uninvited call during dinner from a boiler room that tries to sell you extended automobile warranties or other garbage.  I am on the national do-not-call list, and if there were a national do-not-ask-me-rude-and-stupid-questions list, I would be the first to sign up. 


Of course the absolute worst for this annoying and really rude practice is the local movie theater.  I was there a couple of nights ago and before I got within hailing distance of the concession counter, the high school munchkin behind the counter started.


Would you like to buy some of our Twizzler candies today?


Now there is absolutely nothing about my physical persona that would lead even the most dimwitted person in the universe to think I might be interested in Twizzler candy—whatever the hell that is.


No thank you I would like to have a small diet coke, a small popcorn and a box of Goobers.

Would you like to make that a huge coke for an extra dollar. 

No. Thank you.

Would you like to make that a bushel basket of popcorn for an extra fifteen dollars

No. Thank you.

Would you like to super duper size your Goobers for an extra fifty dollars?

No. Thank you.

Would you like some nachos or other candies or anything else?


Perhaps aside from having my Goobers super sized, I was surely not interested.  The answer was still no.


And then I said.  Do you know how annoying it is to have to play this game of twenty questions to buy something to munch on?


At that point it dawned on her that because she was so busy trying to switch me to something that I didn’t want, she had failed to collect the money from her last customer.  She turned to find another munchkin not much older than she,  hovering in the background (his name tag says Adm Ass—Administrative Assistant?  Perhaps Admiral Ass) and reported her screw up.  Admiral Ass sends her off to chase down the woman and the conversation starts over.

Admiral Ass says:  Would you like to buy some of our Twizzler candies today?

 Now Admiral Ass has heard the previous conversation and in spite of the fact that I am annoyed and have so stated Admiral Ass continues: 

Would you like to make that a large for an extra dollar.

I Point to my white beard, and I say to Admiral Ass:    Look at this white beard.  Don’t you think that by now I know what I want?

Admiral Ass could clearly not give a damn.  Admiral Ass has his little marching orders and like all good little mindless Nazis, he is going to repeat this litany no matter how badly how much it pisses me off and even if hair lips the Pope.


The question I have is:   At what point did the American public become such a mass of sheeple that we put up with this outrageous behavior?  It is irritating, annoying and when repeated in the space of five minutes damned infuriating.  What happened to customer service?  What happened to Customer satisfaction?


Well happily there is a solution and I want this to spread like a prairie wildfire across this great land. When asked one of these idiotic questions, be prepared with a long list of counter questions.  After all, they started the conversation.  They can hardly object.

When they say:  Would you like to super size that?

You say:  Do you have a hearing impairment?

Do I have a speech impediment?

Did you understand me when I ordered?  Not too much ambient noise?  Not too much distraction?

Then why on earth would you ask me if I wanted something other than what I ordered? At this point they can say, well the manager makes us do this and you can ask for s/he to get the manager and you can run your game on him.  Usually management is so chicken shit the munchkins have been instructed to simply say “It’s Policy.”  That is one of those conversation ending declarations which avows:  policy was handed down from the mount on long rolls of toilette paper written in shorthand with a number 2 pencil. Well, it ain’t so.  This policy was concocted by some weenie sucking frat rat who was told by some dweeb consultant that they might squeeze another nickel out of the public by running this bait switch game.   


Meanwhile, of course, as you hold up the line, everyone behind you is becoming irritated with you—not the sleazy management but you!  Go figure.


However, if enough of us had the cajones to do this, then super sizing will go the way of the crew cut and McCarthyism.  As a nation, we will have many fewer obese people and we will all be a helleva lot happier.  Then, too, if you don’t want to play the twenty questions game, you can simply say you’ve changed my mind.  Or you can just avoid the rudeness and hassle by ordering nothing at all or by Never Going There Again!


Salisbury, Maryland,

Saturday, March 21, 2009 



Never vote for an incumbent.

Don Singleton

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Stop Thief! Huge Bank Robbery In Progress

A bank robbery used to be when a masked bandit walked into a bank and stuck a gun in the teller’s face and demanded money. No more! These days a bank robbery is anytime an unsuspecting citizen walks into a bank and deposits money, puts money into a CD, or requests a credit card from the bank.

The looting of the major banks was hardly an accident. This is a repetition of the S&L scandal of the late eighties which stunned most of us when that bunch of thieves made off with taxpayer money to the tune of 800 Billion dollars. Now this one is likely to cost us trillions with no end in sight. Congress was complicit. We need only look at the campaign contributions funneled to the two sackers in Congress to get the big picture.

The “bonuses” funneled to the AIG thieves has the stench of hush money all over it. Suppose these guys had been fired and suppose there had been the usual race to the court house to sing and suppose the public had found out how badly they were ripped off? John Stewart has suggested that the AIG perps should be pitch forked in the street.

Unfortunately this kind of greed-head mentality has percolated down to all the banks. There are other smaller robberies perpetrated on the public every day. Singly these are what Bertol Brecht called bread crumb sins. Aggregated, they amount to rip-offs costing the public millions.

There is a radio program out of Atlanta called the Clark Howard show. It is the only useful program on the local hate radio station, and Howard is forever railing at the theft and fraud committed by banks against their customers. Two recent encounters with banks, both of which brought my blood to the boil, illustrate this kind of theft. The first was with a large bank with which I have done business for over twenty years. Let’s call it the Muckup and Theft bank. Unfortunately this bank has changed hands twice over the years and each time the level of service collapsed. In the latest go round they imported executives whose purpose, no doubt, was to attempt to steal as much as possible from the customers. The previous manager whom I have known for years is apparently now a teller. I had a modest CD in bank which they rolled over at well under market rates after sending me a letter in which they clearly stated that they would notify me of the new rate before it went into effect. Needless to say they did not notify me, argued that the letter in plain English did not say what it says and refused to allow me to withdraw the money without penalty. My recourse was to find a new bank and I now wouldn’t walk across a parking lot to whizz on Muckup and Theft Bank if it was on fire.

The second incident was with Bunko America. I have had a credit card with them for ten or fifteen years. The card accumulates USAir frequent flyer miles. I recently got notice that my card had been “upgraded.” I am wise enough at this time to know that with the “upgrade” comes reams of fly- speck type designed to screw the consumer. When I got the new cards, I cut them up and called them to decline the “upgrade” and asked if they had a no fee card. I carefully explained that accumulating frequent flyer points on U.S. Air was a bit like shooting oneself in the foot, having spent too many days in airports after flight cancellations, delays and other screw ups. Well, yes, they said they had World Points no fee card and would roll the account over and send me new cards in a week or so. A week or so later, I wanted to use my credit card to purchase some small item on the internet and found that the security code had worn off. I called Bunko America back and explained that I needed the no fee cards. I also had to walk the person through the whole spiel again, which was a bloody waste of time. And when I tried to pin the person down as to when I would receive the cards I got a carload of bullshit and baffle gab. No problem they said. Then one morning shortly after this conversation, Bunko America’s s “World Class Customer Service” called me, and I wasted twenty or thirty minutes on the phone explaining why I had not activated the “upgraded” USAir card, and that I had switched to a no fee card. The bottom line it turned out was that Bunko America was going to insist on charging me for a card I didn’t want and no longer had any use for. I patiently went through the scenario again for Miss vacuous blonde of the month and then for some dickwad, frat-rat, weenie sucking supervisor, neither of whom understood the English language: I am not paying a fee. I do not want the USAir card. Got it? Apparently neither had the brains to get it. They both insisted that because of the terms and conditions of the original card they could and would charge me the as yet undetermined fee.

Aside from the fact that I spent an hour and a half to two hours on the phone screwing around with Denny Dimwit and his cohorts at Bunko America, it is likely that they will lose a loyal and long standing customer, although when I called the Customer Service number on the letter they sent me confirming the changes I requested, the guy I got on the phone was civil and promised me that the change over would go smoothly. We will see if that is the case or if they try to rob me.

I promised Bunko America, who by the way is taking billions of Taxpayer bailout money while it attempts to run these scams and thefts against the public, that if they charged me a card fee I would pursue a fraud complaint against them with the Maryland Attorney General’s office.

Hooray for Clark Howard. The American public has had it with this kind of theft. As for AIG, when John Stewart said we ought to pitch fork them in the street, I think he got it just right.

Don Singleton

Salisbury. Maryland
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot (Again)

For a time Rush Limbaugh lost a lot of weight, I guess all that Oxycontin killed his appetite, but if you saw any of his pep talk to the reactionary dark side, you know that he is back to a blubber-assed, bloated, bloviating, jowl flopping, blowhard blimp. He repeated his fatuous wish for President Obama to fail. That is much like a drunk driver who has just caused a ten car pile up hoping that all the victims die so no one will be around to testify against him. These reactionary pin heads have caused the collapse of the economy, and now they hope it dies so no one will be around to blame them. Get a copy of the book: Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot. It is still a great read.
Don Singleton
May 2, 2009

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Obama v. Jindal

     H.L. Mencken famously said nobody ever went broke over- estimating the stupidity of the American Public. But it still baffles me as to why anyone except the super rich would vote for a Republican. I suspect a lot of it is because when I was a young thing the Republicans were made up of respectable people Like Nelson Rockefeller and Tom Dewey and Barry Goldwater, who, although it was clear they favored a government which favored the rich, they weren’t about to try to use the government to steal everything that wasn’t nailed down. All that changed with the election of the military- industrial, corporate mouthpiece, Ronald Reagan, and the clones that followed in his wake.

If, however, there is any doubt that the Republican party is completely, morally, financially and ideologically bankrupt, one only had to watch the extraordinarily fine speech Barack Obama gave this past Tuesday before a joint session of Congress and the muddle headed drivel that followed from Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana.

Obama laid out an ambitions program but he declared in no uncertain terms that the Republicans were responsible for digging the chasm the country finds itself in and that it was going to take a bloody lot of hard work to climb out.

It is a start. He needs to remind the American people, as this recession grows ever deeper, that Republican mismanagement caused the problem. The Republicans have dumped a huge pile of horse manure in America’s back yard, and no amount of digging is going to reveal a pony underneath. Barack Obama has been dealt the task of cleaning out the Augean Stables. He’s a smart guy but I doubt he can figure out how to make a river run through them. It will be a long slow and painful process.

The Republicans on the other hand have put up yet another small time governor who apparently hasn’t a clue. His solution to the mess the Republicans made: Deny they made the mess. So much for personal accountability and oh yeah, tax breaks for the rich, tax breaks for the rich, tax breaks for the rich. Anything else? Yes, government is bad and more tax breaks for the rich! The Republicans clearly want to keep every dime they have stolen. I have never seen pundits so openly contemptuous (that certainly is the bon mot) of a public speaker.

I don’t think the Republicans really care how dumb they look. If you monitor the hate media, it is clear that they are determined to play snake in the grass. They are still beating the same drum incessantly, biding their time and waiting patiently for the American Public to return to its normal state of torpor and stupidity. Barack Obama needs to create his own drumbeat and it needs to be equally incessant. He has the advantage of the truth. He just needs to keep reminding us: the state of the country is not a disaster movie. It is very, very real and Republicans caused it. And we should never, never, let them do it again.

Don Singleton
February, 27, 2009

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The Reader

It never fails. Ever time one of the Nazi-persecution-Death-Camp films come out it seems I cannot but draw a conclusion that the film makers certainly did not intend. When Schindler’s List came out to great praise and won the Academy Award for Best Picture it seemed clear to me that here was man who simply had a really good eye for the main chance and when it was profitable and absolutely legal to enslave workers in his factories, he did so in order to maximize his profit, an example of free market at its most efficient. When the handwriting on the wall became clear he saved a number of his slave laborers. His actions were hardly heroic, merely bankable against the day of retribution. Why was he not prosecuted and jailed? This kind of death bed conversion with the Allies breathing down his neck is hardly convincing. The single scene from that film which sticks in my mind is when Schindler worries that he might have saved a few more of his workers had he been willing to sell his Mercedes. The Reader, I suppose was to remind us of the horror of the Holocaust, Germany’s collective post war guilt and shame and on a deeper and ironic level to remind us that society’s blood lust for “justice” occurs in a similar seamless bureaucratic milieu as the extermination camps and unfortunately, on occasion, with equal dollops of injustice. Some years after his affair as a fifteen year old with a mysterious older woman, Michael Berg encounters her again when as a law student he attends the court where a coterie of female SS guards are on trial and are convicted of various crimes, with Hannah, the most honest of the lot, paying the penalty for saying the truth. They were simply executing the will of the bureaucrats in charge at the time. Hannah is set upon by her comrades for admitting that they all were required to select prisoners for execution and knew what their choices meant and because she carries a personal secret which she goes to some lengths to hide which would have refuted the charge by her colleagues that she was in command, she bears the brunt of the sentencing. See, the pompous judge seems to say, we have severely punished the one most guilty. He, a cog in the “justice” machine, thereby answers the question posed by this miserable guard who was a mere cog in the murder machine. She addresses the question directly to him: What would you have done in the same circumstances? For simple-minded Hannah, her job as a guard was no more or less complicated than her job as streetcar conductor. She asked no questions. She did as she was told and for her acquiescence and compliance was often promoted. When provided the opportunity, Michael, who shares her secret, fails to come to her aid, fails to provide exculpatory evidence. We are left to surmise that he does so in part at revulsion at what she has done and in part out of fear that he will permanently damage his career. In short, he fails to resist injustice as she failed to resist the orders handed to her. Hannah, for her part, is left to rot in jail while her equally guilty comrades draw minor sentences. Hannah Schmitz’s trial is reminiscent of the show trials conducted by our own government of the guards at Abu Grahib. Just a few bad apples the perpetrators of the torture declared to the American people, and they were allowed to walk away and they are still walking, although they dare not leave the country lest they be rendered to the Hague and prosecuted for war crimes by countries who seem to take “Honor, duty, country” a bit more seriously than we do. Hannah Arendt’s famous essay on the banality of evil bears re examination every time we consider the issues raised by The Reader. How easily under the cover of the mindless herd, the appointed committee, the bureaucratic bungling, evil and atrocity flourish. How little most of us care! The ease with which the bureaucracy adapted to building death camps from the planning, to the design, to the final terrible piles of corpse is captured indelibly in a single scene in The Reader which is reminiscent of Alain Resnais’s chilling documentary about the death camps, Night and Fog. Two summers ago I was in Germany to attend a well known international art exposition which employed a number of college students as docents. I was questioned intensely about Bush administration policies, particularly Abu Grahib, Guantanamo and the charges of kidnapping, torture and murder. The broader question the students asked repeatedly was: How did this happen in America? How indeed? The Reader is a dark, brooding, depressing film, yet is easily the best film of the year. It takes us where we are loathe to go and tells us a truth about ourselves that we do not want to know. It begs us to examine our recent past and to understand that the very worst impulses of humanity lurk just beneath the surface of placid bureaucratic waters. Don Singleton February 8, 2009

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Slumdog Millionaire

This year’s crop of academy award nominations for Best Picture is one of the poorest in a series of very lean years. Try to remember which films won best picture in the past five years. When I did this little exercise, I could not recall a single winner. I don’t think the Academy is at fault. The industry is obsessed with blockbusters and comic book mentality films. There isn’t much to work with. And although this is likely to elicit howls from younger generations brought up on a diet of sex, violence and video games, most of what makes it to the big screen these days is mindless pap. The fact that there is a nomination for best supporting actor in a comic book film says a great deal about the state of the American film industry, although there was clearly a huge dollop of sympathy in the nomination of Keith Ledger.

Of those films nominated this year, I have dismissed out of hand the two docudramas, Frost/Nixon and Milk although two of the best male performances clearly came from those two films. If I saw the real thing on Television why do I want to pay good money to see a revisionist version on Film? Milk at least provided material about Harvey Milk’s political career which was not widely known. The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons is Forrest Gump without humor or Tom Hanks or a believable script. I admit to not yet having seen the Reader, which, of course, only opened in the local theater which wastes most of its 16 screens on comic book movies and shoot-em-ups and blow-em-ups and rarely screens anything worth seeing. That leaves Slumdog Millionaire which I saw last evening. This is kind of feel good, gangsta, diversity pitch in which boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl, boy loses girl and so on. It is when Harry Met Sally with all the aforementioned complications. It is a well crafted Saturday morning serial a la the Perils of Pauline. It is hardly worthy of Best Picture of the year and if it is, well then filmmaking is really in trouble. The final scene of Slumdog Millionaire with its Busby Berkeley, Bollywood dance routine is more than passing bizarre. This is not the final scene of Zatoici which ingratiates because it is clearly a tongue in cheek homage. This is a straight up bit of West Side Story tacked on to an already overburdened mélange of silliness. Oh well, I have yet to see The Reader, and I suspect that like on most Oscar evenings of late, I will curl up with a good book.

Don Singleton
February 4, 2009
mdog Millionaire

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Progressive Democrats

Here is a link which all progressives, liberals, and patriotic Americans should have on their desk top:

• Here is a part of their agenda:

• No More Funds for Iraq
• Don’t Attack Iran
• Tell Congress to Require Paper Ballots
We also invite you to sign our most recent petitions:
• Urge Obama to Appoint Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes
• Change the Media: No More Crooks and Liars
• Boycott FOX News Advertisers

Perhaps Democrats will finally wake up.
Don Singleton

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Oxycontin”s Own Ma Limbaugh

Well, if the hate media were not on your radar before, they surely must be now. Outrageously, Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh has declared that he hopes President Obama fails. This, of course, in support of the right wing reactionaries who drove the country into the economic and diplomatic ditch in which it presently finds itself. Can you imagine what this pack of hate mongers would have said if a commentator barely left of –oh I don’t know just pick any one of the dictators our country is so fond of supporting—had said such a thing about Ronnie Raygun or one of the Bushes?

Michael Savage is on the air suggesting that President Obama is a Marxist and the rest of this evil pack is slobbering and foaming at the mouth as they yap and yammer along behind. And as this band of reactionary hired garbage-mouths mewl and puke, the Republicans have returned to the surly ways that always make their service as the minority in Congress a disservice to the country. They were all over the Sunday “gas shows” screaming for more tax cuts for the wealthy and more loot for the Pentagon. That seems like an incredible waste of resources to anyone with half a brain—sorry for using that phrase since Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh is fond of saying he can defeat the left with half his brain tied behind his back. Unfortunately, he clearly never had half a brain to begin with and if you measured that dipstick’s oxycontin-addled grey matter you would surely come up a couple of quarts low.

And wouldn’t you think that the Republicans would be careful not to let Mitch McConnell near a television camera or microphone. As one of the Senate’s number famously said: “You don’t have to pass an I.Q test to get into the Senate.” Heaven knows McConnell proves that statement to be an adage of singular merit. This is a guy who must have to hire someone to shave him since anyone with a modicum of intelligence or sense of decency could not represent the tobacco interests and the rest of the vermin in his lobbying satchel without cutting his/or her on throat. McConnell represents the absolute bottom of the barrel when it comes to pushing the agendas of bad dirt. When that crowd of neo cons was busily driving the country into the ditch McConnell was busily loading up the Christmas Tree bills the Congress passed. Now that the Democrats are burdened with cleaning up the mess they made, he is suddenly pretending to be a fiscal conservative. He and that pack of running dog reactionaries are just like cigarettes. They advertise sex and pleasure and then kill you dead as four o‘clock

So the Democrats, having captured the vampire, now must drive a stake through its heart. One would hope that President Obama and the Congress will grew weary of this attack machine and that they will…

Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine.

Don Singleton
February 2, 2009


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A Baseball Story or A Tale of Two Obits

John Updike, poet, novelist, essayist, has gone on to his greater reward. May he rest in peace. I was never much of an Updike fan. I suppose of his works, that I read, I liked the Witches of Eastwick best. That may be due in large measure to the incredible cast that played in the film and Jack Nicholson’s delivery, in full maniacal cry, of the speech about God inventing women to bedevil men. I had already read Hans Fallada’s Little Man What Now when Rabbit Run came out and just never saw the point in reading the rest of that tetrology, although I struggled through Rabbit Redux. I read Updike’s occasional short stories in Playboy or the New Yorker and admit I can’t remember any of them.

And what, you may ask, does this have to do with baseball. In one of the obits, there was mention of an essay Updike wrote about the last home game played by Ted Williams. There must be some significance to the fact that most of what I know about that game I have learned from Obituaries, however, it escapes me.

I was present at that game. I was a nineteen year old private first class stationed at Ft. Devens, located in Ayer Massachusetts, some thirty miles west of Boston. I had enlisted one step ahead of the draft on the promise of becoming a teen age spy. The word circulated around the billets that the USO was passing out free tickets to see Ted Williams play his last home game in Fenway Park. A group of us which including Robert Mallet and Jimmy Telford saddled up, collected the free tickets, and caught the train into Boston. Robert Mallet was a diminutive, walking stereotype of the unreconstructed Southerner. On meeting him he had stuck out his hand and said: Mah names Mahllet and ahm from Miss’ sippi. Jimmy Telford was an Irish Catholic boy from Brooklyn, of late transplanted to Babylon Long Island. His Brooklyn accent was as thick and staccato sharp as Mallet’s was Mississippi syrup. Jimmy played the Bongos which I attempted to learn and Mallet chased everything with a skirt on.

A crowd of us rode the train into Boston. For most of us it was to be a day trip but Mallet and Telford and I got a large but cheap room on the second floor of a seedy hotel, stashed our kit and made our way over to the ball park. We paid little attention to the ball game. I was there to see Ted Williams swing a bat in person. Mallet was there to ogle the young girls and Telford was along for the ride awaiting the pub crawl we had promised after the game. I remember thinking the ballpark was small even though I had nothing as a reference except the tiny Class D ball park where the Morganton Aggies played. The weather is worth mentioning because it was cold, and I had piled on clothes. It had spit snow on the last day of August as we marched from the billets to class which scared the living daylights out of me and prompted my winter buying spree. I had a spiffy new heavy duty wool overcoat that came complete with Sherlock Holmes cape and a nice wool hat, ear muffs, scarf and gloves. One look at me and Mallet who was buried under all of the warm clothes he owned and you could tell we were two transplanted Southerners. Telford could have done the game in shirt sleeves.

The game was initiated with a ceremony for Williams, his number retired, etc, and if you want a description of the detritus of the game you would be advised to read Updikes’s essay. The play crawled along reinforcing my notion that nothing is more boring than watching nine grown men try to hit a ball with a stick and nine others try to stop him. Late in the game Williams came to the plate for what would surely be his final at bat in Fenway Park. Not his final major league at bat since the Red Sox were slated to play in New York following the home stand with the Orioles. Incidentally, I live in Maryland and have seen the Orioles play only three times but that is another story. The Oriole pitcher was Jack Fisher, and I can only wonder if he served up a fat fast one for Williams to hit. Williams took the first pitch wide, whiffed the second and then got all of the third pitch and it soared over that long Fenway right field fence. Williams trotted the bases and disappeared into the dugout and into history. We stood and cheered and then left the ballpark. We had seen what we came for. Williams had cocked the bat and then in perfect rhythm unwound with amazing grace and power and drove the baseball out of the park.

The epilogue is this. Mallet and I took Telford on the promised pub crawl and we all got roaring drunk and the next morning woke to find the toilet full of vomit, frozen, and without water. We groused about, called the desk and after waiting for the better part of an hour for someone to come and fix the bloody thing the three of us wrestled the hotel window open and we began whizzing on the roof below. Telford should have known about els and perhaps he did and just didn’t care. But as the three of us perched there happily relieving ourselves an MTA cruised around the corner and those good citizens of Boston bound for church got a good look at three of American’s finest peeing all they could pee. Nobody flinched, we just whizzed and they just stared.

Now back to the point of obituaries. It was thirty years before I knew that I had seen Ted Williams hit his last major league home run. I discovered as much reading Abbie Hoffman’s obituary in one of the national magazines, Newsweek, I believe. The writer had been at the game with Hoffman and noted that Williams had not made the road trip to New York to finish the season. The last home run he ever hit was on that cold September day in Fenway Park. Almost fifty years later I have two distinct memories of that trip to Fenway Park. One is of a lanky Ted Williams unwinding on that fast ball and the other is of the astonished faces pressed to the glass of the elevated car as it whizzed by three young U.S. Army Soldiers whizzing from a hotel window.

Don Singleton
January 28, 2009

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Hate Media Never Sleeps

I have taken on a kind of casual monitoring project. It is not particularly well organized nor in any way scientific. I am not counting one by one the bizarre, vitriolic, sleazy, slimy, hate balls that the Hate Media hack up but rather casually tuning in to listen to the muck waves just to get a general impression of what they are up to. There is really no need for rigor in this set of observations, none is required. One need only tune in, at any time of the night or day, to find the hate mongers and war mongers in full cry. They never disappoint. They never sleep.

One would think that in the early days of a truly historic political transition they would at least take pause, take stock, and give it a rest. But no, Laura Ingraham is spewing and puking, Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh is spewing and puking, Sean Hannity is spewing and puking, Bill O’Reilly is spewing and puking and Michael Savage–well what can be said about Michael Savage. He along with the rest of the right wing, reactionary, proto fascists are spewing and puking the intellectual filth they love so well.

Their credo seems to be: We lost. We lost big time. We got a mud hole stomped in us by the American people but we are not going to get over it. We are not going to admit why American stomped a mud hole in us. We are just going to keep spewing and puking in the hope that there are enough uneducated, racist right wing, reactionary greed heads—the absolute worst of America—to keeps the pigs at the trough and the thieves at the banks.

Everyone else in America knows exactly why they got a mud hole stomped in them. Here is a short list.

1. George Bush, a semi moronic failure from Texas was appointed by a proto fascist Supreme Court to be President.

2. On George Bush’s watch and in spite of the billions, and billion and billions of dollars spent on intelligence and defense the United States was attacked by 19 Arabs (almost all Saudis) who barely spoke passable English and who hijacked four planes striking the two tallest building in New York and the Pentagon. No one was held accountable for this massive failure of the defense and intelligence system.

2. Bush lied and caused his puppets to lie to the American People repeatedly about the threat of terrorists, the threat of WMD’s and launched two illegal and immoral wars based on those lies. Those wars contributed in large measure to the bankruptcy of the country.

3. Bush, abetted by a cowardly Congress, rammed through a series of Big Brother initiatives based on fear and which resulted in America becoming a nation of torturers, Americans spying on Americans for political purposes, and America becoming a nation of kidnappers and prison builders which would have done the Nazi concentration camp system or the Russian Gulag system proud.

4. Bush made America the most despised country in the world.

5. On the home front Bush initiated huge tax breaks for the rich while working Americans struggled desperately to stay afloat.

6. What money the administration did not pour down the Pentagon and Haliburton rat holes, was stolen from the American people in the largest theft in the history of the world by enabling the thieves on Wall Street to repeat the Ponzi scheme run with the S&L’s in the eighties.

In sum, this past administration of so called conservatives drove the country into a fiscal and diplomatic ditch so deep and so wide that it will take years to climb out. The eight years of the Bush administration has been the worst in the history of this country even though there have been a number of really rotten administrations whose excesses they had to go one better.

The American people clearly understood that Bush and the Republican Party are to blame for the mess the country is in. You can kick the American Public in the ass as often as you like as long as you don’t hit their wallets. Now a really furious American Public is broke and unemployed, and they have extracted a first measure of vengeance.

It is equally clear that this crowd of hate mongers have no capacity for shame. You would think they would process the fact that America has just said no! No matter. The Hate Media mouth pieces will continue their mewling and puking. That is what they are paid to do. No doubt, as Obama tries to fix the mess left by this administration, the Hate Media will serve remind us that America should turn as many of these thieves out of office as possible in the coming midterm elections. Obama, who has shown early signs of having grown tired of trying to work with what remains of this pack of jackals, fired a shot across the bow of the hate media by telling Republicans that if they wished the country to function again they need to stop listening to Limbaugh. Hopefully, the President will gauge the mud hole the American people have already stomped in these right wing reactionaries, and harness the fury of the American people to stomp it dry.

Defeat the Hate Media. Bring back the Fairness Doctrine.
Donald Singleton
January 24, 2009

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Hate Media Gearing Up

One should never beat a dead horse and perhaps not even a dead jackal, unless the jackal isn’t quite dead. The Hate Media, the jackal at the center of this piece, is not even dozing and has resumed full cry even though George W. Bush, the worst president in the history of the country and another moron from Texas presented and backed by the
Hate Media propaganda machine, has yet to vacate the Oval Office. While Bush runs about like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off yelling not my fault, not my fault, the Hate Media are gearing up with a whole new set of smear campaigns. Others have noticed (Even the New York Times get it right occasionally go to: ) but the question is: has Obama noticed and more important, what the hell is he going to do about it? He has the power to re make the Federal Communications Commission and the Commission has the power to require the re institution of the Fairness Doctrine. In order to do this he has to face down the right wing media barons. He won the election. They did not. Nobody cares about an overbearing, rich corporate propaganda machine. Folks do care about the well being of the country and the well being of its citizenry. If he does what he needs to do, we return to some kind of civility in the political discourse in this country. He can, in fact, unite the country and try to see that it lives up to its promise. If he blinks, as he did during the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy, if he tries to appease this crowd of hate mongers, he loses his presidency. Barack Obama will then become merely a political and historical footnote.

Don Singleton


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Hate Media Defiles Christmas

One would think the Hate Media would find one day out of the year to give their mewling and puking a rest.  Not so.  On Christmas Night I caught a portion of Michael Savage’s insanity on one of the clear channel AM’s as he went on at some length about how Barrack Obama was clearly involved in some deal to sell his  vacated Senate seat. Although Savage admitted he had not a shred of proof, he was certain in his own mind that Obama must be guilty of something.

On Christmas Eve I was monitoring Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh on the local AM outlet for this garbage and a substitute moron named Jason Lewis launched a screed about the collapse of the American economy. He has figured out in the dim recesses of his pea sized brain the exact cause of the collapse of the entire economy. As you wait breathlessly for the answer to the question: Who killed the American economy?, I will be happy to tell you that he doesn’t think it was the prosecution of two unnecessary and immoral wars which cost trillions added to the national debt by the borrow and waste Republicans. It was not the huge unregulated banks which loaned trillions of dollars on property of one third that value and then rolled the worthless notes into junk derivatives. It was not the SEC who looked the other way while the greatest robbery in history was committed. It was not the oil companies which gouged the bejesus out of the American public or the war profiteers who wasted billions in Iraq, nor the privatization of the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor the huge tax cuts for the wealthy. No! None of these! It was, gasp and clutch your heart, Congressman Barney Frank and the liberals.

If this kind of idiocy was confined to the mutterings of the occasional homeless lunatic walking down the street waving his arms about and jabbering to himself, one would not care. But when a public property, the broadcast airwaves, is dedicated to this intellectual filth one should be concerned. After all impressionable children are listening. One should complain to the FCC and to one’s Congressional delegation. We need to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. And one should never ever buy any product advertised on any program carried by the stations that allow this crap on the air. Finally, one should write to the companies who advertise on these stations and notify them that you will never buy their products if they continue to allow their products to be advertised in the middle of these idiotic rants. Vote with you dollars. Voice your concerns. It is guaranteed that the advertisers will get the message.

A Merry Christmas to all, even to Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh.


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Voyage to Mars

I just spent a few days in Silicon Valley and though there has been a million words written about the explosion and growth in the area, you have to see it to believe it. When the hit tune “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” was penned nobody could find this sleepy little village on the map. Now it is one of the largest and richest cities in California. Cal Train connects it to all points and there is an excellent light rail and streetcar system. They have a lovely performing arts center and a world class museum which was running the stunning Leonardo da Vinci exhibit. If you missed it in New York, you can catch it in San Jose!! Needless to say it was well worth the afternoon spent browsing among the notebooks and models that sprang from da Vinci’s genius.
California has forever and a day been the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and in many ways, it still is. It was enlightening to compare the California I knew when I lived in L.A. years ago with the modern version in the Valley. The freeways are still clogged but as many as thirty percent of the cars are hybrids. Priuses are a dime a dozen and you see them everywhere. They come with the added advantage of automatic access to the HOV lanes, no matter how many folks are in the car, a perk worth at least two grand when you sell the car. The average home is still the small rancher but they now come with a decidedly un-average price tag. It is fair to say that the real estate market is the unreal estate market with a two bedroom, 800 square foot house fetching eight hundred thousand dollars. Yep. That is not a typo, not an error. A three bedroom 1500 square foot home will go for a cool million or better…and I thought housing prices on Maryland’s Eastern Shore were bloated and absurd.

Small sleepy hamlets like Mountain View have a thriving entrepreneurial spirit and all towns of any size boast a restaurant row to die for. You want it? You got it: Thai, Greek, Viet Namese, French, and Chinese of a half dozen varieties. We had an excellent dinner in a Chinese restaurant with a nightclub techno-pop theme and breakfast in another in Lafayette with a cast and menu imported directly from Singapore. We drove over to Palo Alto home to Stanford University and had dinner in a restaurant called Shokolaat. The food was excellent and the desserts were painfully sinful. No doubt, da Vinci invented the chocolate bomb.

There is a coffee shop in every block, ranging from Boulanger to Peeks to Starbucks and so you “pays your money and takes your choice.” I got attached to Boulanger since they had great breakfast sandwiches, great Danish and yummy coffee.

Kal-i-fornia is not with out its problems. The collapsing economy has put a huge dent in revenue and the state is running a gargantuan forty billion dollar deficit. Local Kal-i-fornia governments are handling the cutbacks in various ways but I was pleased to see that one of the local school boards had added up the cost of athletics and decided that since the football team had nothing to do with education that was a reasonable place to save a chunk. They simply cut out competitive athletic programs. There were the usual screams of anguish from the athletic supporters but the school board acted with intelligence and fortitude. Perhaps some good will come of this deep recession after all

At the state level the deep cutbacks are controversial with Governor Schwarzenegger and the Legislature at loggerheads. Schwarzenegger has made a surprisingly good governor and puts me in the mind of the Republicans of my youth who were fiscal conservatives and otherwise reasonable people. That the party has morphed into a clutch of wigged out right wing extremists, financial pirates, and religious bigots is one of the sadder chapters in American Political History. Schwarzenegger is environmentally friendly and forward thinking. He pushed very hard against the auto industry and the Bush administration for cleaner cars and tougher air quality standards. He is also pushing for utilization of natural resources—sun, water, wind–to generate energy. He has proposed an extensive solar collector in the Mojave dessert. Perhaps Schwarzenegger is the face of things to come in the Republican party, and the neo cons and free-booters, and so-called free marketers and their witless hate-monger followers can be consigned to the dust bin of history.

Don Singleton


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Film Review: Cadillac Records

I grew up during the 50’s in a small Southern town in North Carolina where they rolled up the sidewalks promptly at 7:00 p.m. There was only one hang out open until 10 p.m. and then nothing. After Gene’s Drive-in closed, five or six of us would pile into one car, pony up money for gas and stop by the corner ESSO station. Usually the night attendant was one of us, a kid hired to work overnight, to fill up the occasional semi that rolled through the center of town along Highway 70. Usually we got out of the car and with much grab-assing bought chips and Moon Pies. Even at that late hour we were a gas station attendant’s nightmare, a solid line from a Chuck Berry tune. “Wipe the window, check the oil, check the tires, a dollar gas.” But in those days at 16 or 17 cents a gallon, “a dollar gas” would take you on a long ride into the wee hours of the morning. Loaded up again, amid cries of “Shotgun” and “Radio,” we would make the run to the local bootleg establishment, a place called The Old Dutch Mill, where we bought quart bottles of Colt 45 Malt Liquor which they handed out to us through the night window. Usually someone working inside would recognize me. “Aren’t you Gadget’s boy,” they would say. “Yeah,” I answered. “You boys be careful. Low and Slow.” they would say. Whoever was driving would drop the car into low gear and gun it; burning rubber we squalled out into the night.

Summer nights it mattered who rode shotgun, you could roll the window down, shoot the wing vents and get the full benefit of the morning cool. It didn’t matter who claimed radio. We tuned automatically to WLAC and we cruised the empty streets until the dawn sucking down the strong malt liquor and listening to records spun by John R, Gene Nobles and Hoss Allen. They played “race” music, music performed by Neee…gro blues men who had followed the river north from the Mississippi Delta and were now cutting sides for a new label out of the south side of Chicago called Chess records. Although somewhat dimmed by time, I can still recall the patter.

“This is Gene Nobles coming to you from WLAC in Nashville, Tennesee and brought to you by Randy’s Record Shop in Gallatin, that’s G A double-L A T I N, Gallatin Tennesee where you can buy the records we play and also brought to you by White Rose Petroleum Jelly.

And he would hit the White Rose Petroleum Jelly jingle:
Whether you’re a filly, a husband or a wife, you use White Rose and everything’s all right.
White Rose
White Rose
White Rose
Petroleum Jelly

And brought to you by Silky Straight hair pomade. Silky straight when you want to look AB SO LUTELY fine.
And then he would spin the records. The radio would moan with Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Memphis Slim and Etta James. Little Walter’s harp screamed in the background and Muddy Waters’s guitar rolled through the night.

That radio station, WLAC from Nashville, was a 50 thousand Watt clear channel power house that blanketed all of the central United States. And as much as I revere Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and those who made and led the Civil Rights Movement, I am not sure it would have occurred without WLAC and John R and Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf and Chuck Berry and Etta James and the host of performers who followed them into the hearts and minds of impressionable young folks all over the country.

It was in those wee hours of the morning, just a wee bit tipsy, that a lot of us began for the first time to hear, the voice of the “other America” and began to appreciate that there was something terribly rotten in the state of Denmark. When the civil rights movement began, it was simply a no-brainer. The music gave the lie to segregation. It was time to do something about that lie.

Some years ago I was working on a project for C-Span and number of us gathered in Washington, D.C. for work sessions. C-Span hosted a reception for us and at one point Brian Lamb who is the head of that organization began to draw a small crowd around him and it was clear from the fragments of conversation that floated over that they weren’t talking about the D Toqueville project. What they were talking about was WLAC. A number of us drifted over into that small knot. As teenagers, all of us had found the station. All of us had listened rapturously to John R and the music. It was a common experience, an experience that our parents would not have wished for us, an experience beyond the closed boundaries of segregated America, an experience of freedom embedded deep in our psyches. It was an epiphany to learn that we had all been connected by the radio waves streaming from the WLAC tower in Nashville.

With all that as an introduction, I will confess that I could not view the film, Cadillac Records, with any kind of objectivity. There are some films that just get you where you live. Cadillac Records is such a film. The film tells an abbreviated story of Leonard Chess and the group of blues and rock artists that gathered around the small studio in Chicago, the players who were the bedrock of rock and roll. The impact those artists and that label had on a generation of young people growing up in the towns and cities in America is incalculable.

I know there has been a movie about every super star in American music, but this one is different. This is about the beginning of rock and roll. In an earlier posting I promised not to tell you to go see movies. I renege on that promise. If you don’t know the artists and the music go see the movie. If you do, don’t miss it.

Don Singleton
Sunday 12/7/08


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Hate Media Abuzz and Obama’s Challenge: SOSDD?

I have assigned myself a kind of monitoring project somewhat akin to those I used to assign students in Introductory Mass Media Courses. Monitor the local media for a week, I would tell them, log the stories, and at the end of the week, tell me what you have learned that makes you a better citizen. Of course what they logged was mostly house fires, murders, and car crashes–none of the information useful for good citizenship. In the same week, with little note by the local media, the City Council might have given away 20 million dollars to developers in a scam called Tax Increment Financing(TIF)—for the uninitiated TIF really stands for Taxpayers is F****.

My self imposed assignment is to see what the Hate Media are doing now that Obama is elected. One of the things that is interesting, given my screed on the Hate Media and their fear of the Fairness Doctrine is that the Hate media mavens are acutely aware that they have gotten away with this scam for twenty years and that an Obama administration is likely to reverse the policy that has allowed their unchallenged bloviating. In the past two weeks I have heard Limbaugh, Hannity, and Jim Bohannon, although I would not necessarily lump Bohannon in with the hard core hate mongers, whining about the possibility that the Fairness Doctrine may once again allow access to the media by the rightful owners. In Today’s Post there was a foul piece by the Right wing’s faux intellectual, George Will, decrying any attempt by the “reactionary left”—yes children he did use such a term and yes, I told you he was a faux intellectual, to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. You know if George Will is against it, you gotta be for it. Ironically in the local rag, The Daily Times, there was a column by Bill O’Reilly decrying the fact that Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington State had allowed a statement by a local atheist group to be placed next to the Christmas display inside the state Capitol. He goes on to rage at this “attack” on religion and to add Seattle to the list topped by Sodom and Gomorrah. Let me get this straight. Superstition is to be lauded but even to question that superstition is to be suppressed or at least kept from the same stage. Well we know how fair the hate media have been over the last twenty years so it is time to square away the publicly owned media or give the licenses to someone who will operate them fairly. The same goes for public places where the First Amendment has long been applied to controversial displays. It is more speech we want and not less. It is the right to reply. It is the right to “just say no” to bigots of any kind, religious or otherwise.

On another topic, given the nature of Obama’s cabinet picks, I am want to say: Lots of luck America. There is an old saw: Personnel equal Policy. Where is the change? He was elected on a peace platform and has appointed a crowd of war mongers to the major positions of authority and power. Is Obama no more than a slick, corporate suit (which is the argument a number of my friends made before it was clear that he would be this election’s lesser of two evils and I went off to North Carolina to volunteer for a couple of days in his campaign.) Let us hope that those of us who expect change will not be bitterly disappointed.

Although, I would give him an F so far for his cabinet choices, let us see if he has the courage to make substantive changes by dint of the fact that he is the Chief Executive. Let’s see him appoint a Robert McChesney as the FCC Chairman. Let’s see him appoint a Ralph Nader to head the EPA, and a consumer activist to head the FDA. In short let’s see him get some of the corporate and military shills out of positions of authority in Washington. Let’s see him reverse government policy on the environment, the drug war, abortion, education, global warming, federal land use, and host of other areas, neglected or dismissed under the miserable bumbling of the Bush administration. And let’s see him insist that the Fairness Doctrine for publicly owned media is once again the law of the land.

Change? Perhaps we have merely been transported to Oz. But let us hope that all of those who organized and worked so hard to get him elected are not looking at another sunrise on: SOSDD.

Don Singleton

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