Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band Concert Review

Ringo Starr has been on tour again lately, and in fact, he just announced that he and his All-Starr Band will be going on tour yet again later this year.

However, I was able to catch one of his shows last month, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

I had not seen a Ringo show in about four years or so, although I did see him at a public event last October at Strand's Bookstore in New York City (see my review from October 17, 2016:)

In any case, I figure Ringo and his All-Starr Band are a sure thing as far as concerts are concerned. You have one of the two remaining living members of the Fab Four, so already, you have a musical legend on the stage. When you add the prominent members of other bands on the stage along with him, you are bound to get an enjoyable night of music and fun.

And that is what we got at this show, which I took my son to go see.

The wait before the show began was unusually long, because the security line to get into the building was atrocious. Of course, later in the night came the Orlando attack in the gay night club, so one can understand the need for tight security, given where the world is right now, the state of things.

Still, eventually, Ringo and the band came on, and Ringo began right away with a joke, saying good evening to everyone at "Worchestershire." Later in the evening, he mentioned that there was a bit of a debate on the tour bus as to how to pronounce the name of the town (the correct way to pronounce is, as I understand it, is Worster).

Surprisingly, Ringo did not open with "It Don't Come Easy," which distinguished this concert as the first one ever where I saw him and he did not open up with that particular song. However, it was the second song on the set list this evening.

Of course, he sprinkled in some of the Beatles songs that he was known for, particularly his traditional closer, "With a Little Help From My Friend."

I was a bit surprised by some of the songs that he did not include in this particular set, including "Back Off Bugaloo." Not sure if he played it in all of the previous concerts that I saw of him, but pretty sure that he played that in most of them. Also, he did not perform "Octopus's Garden," which is always one of my favorites that he does.

However, the main thing was that this was a very enjoyable concert for both of us! It was a real pleasure, as it always is, to share this experience and the memories that both my son and I will share. And it was an opportunity to see a real rock icon in person, as Ringo is one of the two remaining ex-Beatles still alive. True, he has been touring for some time now, but at age 76, you just cannot say with certainty how many more opportunities there will be to see him perform like this. I wanted to make sure that my son got the chance to see a member of perhaps the most legendary group, if and when the chance came. And this was the big chance, so I took him to see it!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis Claims There Are No Rock Stars These Days

Not too long ago, I published a review (mostly unfavorable) about Anthony Kiedis and his autobiography, "Scar Tissue."

It was a bit surprising to me that the vast majority of reviews on the Amazon website were so favorable, because frankly, it seemed to me to be a transparent admission of his own egotism and commitment to self-indulgence. Notice that I did not word that as if it were strictly in the past.

Well, perhaps my opinion differs from those of most other readers. While there was some interesting information about some of the songs and their background (such as how the lyrical inspiration for "I Could Have Lied" from the "Blood Sugar Sex Magic" album was about Sinead O'Connor), it seemed that this was kept to a minimum, because he was too busy describing how many hot chicks he banged, or how often he found drugs or other substances to abuse, and some of the crazy shit that he did while under the influence, or what unbelievably nice things he managed to obtain with all of the money that he made, with the undertone always being that he is this big, huge rock star, and that this grants him access to all sorts of privileges that are not open to everyone else who happens not to be a rich, famous rock star.

In any case, Kiedis recently mentioned how he does not believe there really are "rock stars" in the present age, suggesting that the real age of rock stars came in the seventies, when rock stars really went crazy. What he means is that this was the age of real substance abuse and excess, when rock stars would buy their own jets and such, and would have the wildest parties.

I don't know. Kiedis himself did a pretty good job of acting the part of a rock star on his own from the nineties on to the present day, so far as I could tell in reading that book of his.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis Calls Today’s Rock Stars Wannabes, Talks Retirement By Brett Buchanan -  Jun 28, 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton Accepts Nomination & Acceptance Speech While Offering Nothing New

Hillary Clinton accepted the presidential nomination in front of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last night.

As I understand it, she mentioned Donald Trump's name somewhere between 21 to 22 times during her speech, basically attacking his temperament, and suggesting that someone as hotheaded and prone to overreact as he is does not belong in the White House.

True enough, although I am a personally also  more than a little skeptical about more established politicians like Hillary Clinton, with their personal ties to "too big to fail" Wall Street banks and corporations, as well as defense contractors. This serves as a major conflict of interest that the allegedly liberal media continually chooses to ignore. Already, some have voiced concern that feminine Hillary Clinton tends to be more hawkish than President Obama.

The last thing that we need is a female version of Dick Cheney running the White House. Indeed, she has the kind of personal ties and links that were not uncommon with Washington insiders in the Bush administration, particularly George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Does that sound like a crazy idea? Well, it's not that preposterous. And just in case you still have doubts, keep in mind that your friend and mine, Dick Cheney, "heaped praise" on Hillary Clinton in 2011, although he will support Donald Trump in this race. Former First Lady Laura Bush, however, insinuated outright that she will support Clinton for the White House. Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York City, gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, so obviously she has his endorsement, as well. And a number of Republicans who seemed doubtful about Donald Trump have at least flirted with the idea of voting for Hillary Clinton.

That is not entirely surprising, because frankly, I believe that Hillary Clinton would be the ideal Republican candidate. When you look at her stances on the issues, however, she is not in league with where a lot of the traditional Democrats were politically. Think of the New Deal programs of FDR, the New Frontier programs of JFK, the Great Society programs of LBJ, or the vision of a better America forwarded by Jimmy Carter, and you will find Hillary Clinton opposed to many of them. Indeed, Hillary Clinton is not only to the right of all of those prominent Democratic presidents of decades ago, but so is Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Each of those candidates is, frankly, alarmingly conservative for the so-called mainstream progressive party, which is why it has been exposed as a glaring failure - a poor excuse to the extremely pro-corporate agenda set forth by the modern Republican party.

Of course, if you listen to a lot of mainstream Democrats, they will be quick to point out that this year's Democratic platform is the most progressive in our lifetimes.

Well, that may be so. But given Hillary's rather extensive history of doing the typical Clinton thing, which is to say one thing during the campaign, and do another thing entirely once actually in office, how much of that platform can we feel she will deliver on?

I, for one, believe that she will pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). She might alter it a bit, but the most damaging and damning aspects of it will likely remain intact. She might seem to lean towards reversing Citizens United now, but how much can we believe that, given that the vast majority of her campaign donations during the primary season came from "too big to fail" Wall Streets banks and mega corporations? How much can we trust her when she insinuates that Donald Trump is too hotheaded to have access to all the weaponry of the United States military, while she herself had close personal ties to weapons contractors, much like the Bush regime and Dick Cheney had some years ago? Let us also remember that, when push came to shove, she voted in favor of empowering George W. Bush to go ahead and invade Iraq. She also voted for the PATRIOT Act and for the bailout. Despite her stated opposition to George W. Bush, she sure agreed with him an awful lot. How much can we trust that she speaks for the average American while she and her husband got rich to the point of now ranking among the 1%, and when she delivers a speech on income inequality while wearing a fashion designer suit worth well over $12,000? Can we trust her when she claims to want to trust ties with the for profit prison industry, while hardly really apologizing for being all in support of this same system that she and her husband helped to construct back in the nineties? She once was a vocal advocate for a better and fairer healthcare system for all Americans, but can we trust her now, when she has an extensive history of taking funds from her former opponents, to the point that she is now considered one of their allies?

When a whopping two-thirds of all Americans feel that they cannot trust her, that is more than mere coincidence. It is not some kind of an inexplicable fluke, or a flavor of the moment trend. After all, as her supporters are quick to point out, she has an extensive history in American politics, and so there is much from her past with which to base it. The contradictions that I pointed out in the paragraph above are only some of the most famous examples of her contradictions and general untrustworthiness, but there are more. Remember, it was the same Barack Obama who delivered a very strong speech in support of Hillary just a couple of days ago who said, back in 2008, that Hillary Clinton would say and do anything to get elected. I suspect that this more cynical analysis of Hillary is closer to the truth than what was heard on Wednesday's speech.

What makes this all the more frustrating is that we had a candidate in Bernie Sanders who really offered true progressives something more, and he actually had a chance there to win the nomination and, by extension, this election. I know that cynical Hillary supporters would scoff at this notion, but then why was it necessary for Hillary Clinton to ask Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for help? Why was it necessary for the establishment within the Democratic Party to actively campaign against and undermine Bernie Sanders, while officially claiming neutrality? Why was it necessary to maintain the closed elections, and why so much voter fraud, and all of which, not coincidentally, happened to benefit Hillary Clinton? And still, she kept losing steam. Still, towards the end, Bernie Sanders managed to catch her in approval ratings, and even take a lead briefly, just a few months ago as I write this.

Yes, Bernie had a chance. And the thing is, he really is closer to what traditional Democrats used to be. He is a throwback to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he was proposing programs that would have cut into the economic inequalities, curbing the excesses of the wealthiest Americans in favor of making sure the vast majority of Americans, most of whom are obviously not rich, can be better off. Bernie Sanders wanted to establish a single-payer healthcare system in the United States. Sanders wanted to seriously tackle environmental issues, whereas Hillary Clinton kept waffling on issues such as fracking. Sanders lambasted the high cost of living and of going to college, while not coincidentally, Hillary eventually got around to the same rhetoric only when she discovered that it would be politically profitable for her to do so.

The problem with Hillary is that, like her husband before her, she wants to be everything to everyone. She implies that she's a conservative to an audience who would appreciate it, then suggests that she's a moderate when that feels like the flavor of the moment, yet claims to be a real progressive when it proves that this is what can get her ahead. She is not a real progressive. In fact, her politics are mostly rooted in conservatism. After all, she called herself a proud Goldwater girl, right? Indeed, she might really be a step forward if she were the nominee for the Republican party, rather than the Democratic party. Now, if the general election were between her as a Republican, and Bernie Sanders as a Democrat, that would offer a real choice between a conservative, continue with politics and business as usual approach, or a real attempt at a fresh new start, and work towards changes. What bothers me is that she poses as something that she is not. In other words, she is your average, run of the mill politician, and the only thing - I emphasize her that the only thing - that sets her apart is that she is a woman. Frankly, for me, that is not enough. Maybe Hillary supporters will return to claim that people like me are sexist for not supporting her. But I would gladly support a female candidate that I believe in. Perhaps a female version of Bernie Sanders will pop up. But to me, a vote for Hillary is a vote for what we have had now for several decades, and what we have had has led to the decline of the standards of living in this country. That is what Hillary Clinton represents to me.

Indeed, the Democratic party had a chance to elect someone who could finally bring back integrity, honesty, idealism, and a sense of purpose to the party. If most Democrats were serious about being progressive, they would have flocked to Bernie Sanders, and would have laughed at the overly pragmatic approach of the consummate politician that is Hillary Clinton. If Democrats really wanted to address the issues of economic inequality, of an unfair and unjust healthcare and prison system, and of the necessity for serious action on climate change, than they would not have hesitated to elect Bernie Sanders, and by a landslide.

Instead, as a sign, as well as a reminder, of just where we are, we are getting a candidate who is getting the approval of many of the same Republicans who sided with George W. Bush for all of those years that he was in office. We're getting yet another politician that the public simply does not trust, and one with astonishingly high disapproval ratings. One who seems always to be under investigation for one thing or another, and who always seems to come out of it even better off. If she is elected president, we  very well might have yet another Teflon president, much like Ronald Reagan and her husband, Bill Clinton. Possibly, you can add George W. Bush to that list, as well as Barack Obama. They might all have found themselves in the midst of controversy and scandal, but they all survived and received two terms in office, except for Hillary, who will be seeking her first term and, if she wins that, will surely aim for that second term in another four years.

Today, it pains me to think of what we might have had in Bernie Sanders, if people were brave enough to think for themselves and see clearly what almost everyone outside of mainstream Democrats saw: that Bernie Sanders was not only having an impact, but that he started a movement. Some called it a revolution. What he offered those who came to support him is something that Hillary Clinton simply seems incapable of offering voters: belief in a better tomorrow. The only change that she offers is that she is a woman. Yes, that would be something, but if her policies pretty much are the same as those who came before, does that really constitute any truly momentous shift within society? If all she offers us is the TPP and more loopholes for the rich to maintain their privileges and for corporations to ignore tougher environmental legislation, than what kind of real change is that, anyway? Perhaps that is why they made so much of her being a woman during this convention, since it really is the only major change that she would bring. I strongly suspect that is the only major change that she would actually deliver on from day one.

Yes, there was a moment in time when we might have had that chance, with an entirely new candidate.

Instead, what we were offered yesterday was more of the same, just politics as usual. Take it or leave it.

Personally, I'd just as soon leave it. Let the Democrats salivate over her now, conveniently ignoring that she is not trusted by fully two-thirds of Americans. Or, perhaps, let them be apologists to it. Whatever.

All of those speeches and all of the ringing endorsements do not change the fact that she is a weak candidate - a glaringly weak candidate, at that. I mean, when your opponent is someone as laughable as Donald Trump, and yet you trail him in the polls like she does right now, it surely is a telling sign of where you are as a candidate. After all, Donald Trump has serious disapproval numbers, yet he is not the least popular candidate running for the White House at this moment. That's pretty damning.

So, yes, let the Democrats deliver their speeches in support of the mediocrity that has become a bad habit for them. Some of the rest of us feel that this country deserves better than the lesser of two evils, which this election epitomizes probably more than any other election that I know of. We are a country of well over 300 million people, and it is hard to believe that these two living, breathing, walking, talking mediocrities are the best that this country has to offer.

I, for one, do not believe it, and will not waste my vote on either one come November.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Hillary Love Fest Continues in Philly

Now, it's a full-fledged Hillary love fest.

Yes, perhaps the most undeserving nominee in the history of the Democratic party is getting the royal treatment, with a uniformity of major party figures giving her praises.

"You cannot believe one word that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth," said Tim Kaine, Hillary's hand-picked running mate.

True. No arguments there from me. But if you turn that around and ask whether or not you can believe a word that Hillary says, would the answer be to the liking of the Democrats?

Not likely, no.

Of course, when I say that, someone like NPR reporter would Tamara Keith (see yesterday's blog entry) would suggest that I am being sexist. According to her report, which I spoke at length about yesterday, Hillary Clinton is not liked or trusted not because of all of the lies that she has repeatedly told, or the shady sources of funding that she received for her campaign, including Wall Streets banks and other big corporations, as well as Saudi Arabia. Or that she has, at different times, described her political stance as rooted in conservatism, as moderate, and also suggested that she was the "real progressive" (Bill Clinton worded it by saying that she was the real "agent of change" the other night). Of course, anyone who pays attention could easily figure out that she cannot possibly be all of those things at once, because they do not fit together. How can she be conservative, moderate, and a real progressive all at the same time? It's things like that, and so many, many others, that make many people distrust her. As her husband Bill also pointed out, she receives considerable criticism from people on both the left and the right. We know that Republicans do not like her. That is no secret. However, Bill Clinton and others have sounded almost wounded when they speak of the criticism that Hillary Clinton received from the left. How could this happen?

Well, maybe that's what happens when you not only tell all of those lies, and when you pretend to be a progressive and claim that you will get tough on Wall Street and corporate America while taking millions, both personally and in her campaign, from those same people. But I suspect that there is a lot more to it than that, because, after all, she stole this election.

In fact, the more I think about Hillary Clinton and who she reminds me of politically, the clearer it gets. She reminds me - a lot! - of George W. Bush.

Sounds crazy? Well, they both pumped tons of corporate money into their campaigns. They both stole elections. They both supported the disastrous Iraq invasion (albeit, Hillary outwardly remained very critical of Bush's performance in conducting the war, but when push came to shove, yes, she supported the war). They both had close ties with the Saudis, and they both favored a hard-line approach to the so-called Drug War, favoring the for profit prison system. Both are ridden with corruption scandals, and both repeatedly got away with these, time and time and time again. Both had a part to play in helping to set up the "Great Recession" of 2008, and both favored the bail out that gave money to the big banks that were responsible for the economic fall out, while those struggling American homeowners got nothing.

Frankly, it sounds like there are two Republicans in the race together. And that's the danger of the two party system, because the two parties simply look way too much alike. That's what happens when they both take enormous sums of money from the same sources. Really, it is not a surprise, and this did not originate with Hillary Clinton. This has been going on for a long, long time. That is why I essentially do not disagree with Republicans who claim that a Hillary victory would be a third Obama term. But I will go a step further, and suggest that a Hillary win would mean a fifth Bush term since, after all, President Obama seemed entirely too comfortable keeping some of the key Bush policies in place. Let's take it a step further, and say that this might be a seventh straight Bill Clinton term. Or a tenth consecutive Ronald Reagan term. Or, let's call it what it really is: a tenth straight Presidential term of a pro-corporate elitist determined to continue the "deregulation" practices that have led to a de facto corporate supremacy state inching it's way closer to a dictatorship.

That is why, I believe, that so much is made of her being a woman, and her nomination being seen as a true sign of progress for women, while in reality, this is a step backwards for Americans at large. Oh, many Democrats are suggesting that this is the most progressive Democratic platform in our lifetime. Maybe it is. But it is almost guaranteed that she will go back on her word on numerous aspects of this platform, just as it is almost guaranteed that she will move swiftly to the right for the general election. And you had better believe that her opposition to the disastrous Trans Pacific Partnership is temporary. She might make a few gestures with symbolic changes to alter it, but the worst parts of it will be kept in place when she makes sure that this is passed - with Republican approval almost guaranteed. Because if you want to know the real Hillary Clinton, her history has shown that this is not some wild prediction on my end, but rather typical of what she has done in the past, and thus, what she is likely to do in the future.

Of course, many will disagree. Maybe I'm just being sexist. I am, after all, a man, However, this particular man has always felt that he would see a woman become president in his lifetime and, what is more, I have actually looked forward to it. Just not this particular woman. I do not have trust issues with Elizabeth Warren or, for that matter, Jill Stein. But with Hillary Clinton, it's hard not to have trust issues. Let us remember that during the 2008 campaign, one theme that President Obama - yes, the same President Obama who heaped praise upon Hillary Clinton last night - suggested that Hillary would quite literally say anything to become president.

Yet, in an obvious piece of propaganda from NPR, of all people, Tamara Keith suggests that this issue with trust is merely the product of sexism. If Tamara Keith is right about this perception of Hillary Clinton as being dishonest is correct, then apparently 68% of Americans are sexist, as the results of a very recent poll released on Monday showed that a huge majority of Americans do not find Hillary Clinton trustworthy.

Perhaps Sarah Silverman, in her infinite wisdom, might tell us that we're being ridiculous.

Who knows?

All I know is that, as a Bernie Sanders supporter, I feel disillusioned and totally turned off by all of the hoopla now. There is another endless parade of red, white, and a blue, and countless speeches where plastic politicians with plastic smiles once again deliver a plastic, one size fits all vision of a sunny future, if you go ahead and vote for them. And there comes Meryl Streep, donning red, white, and blue, and trying to appeal to women by describing this as a truly historic milestone for women. And here's Tim Kaine, now the officially minted running mate, who was seen as basically the equivalent of the middle finger to truly progressives, who were hoping that someone far more progressive might get the nod.

Yet, we keep hearing from these major party figures that Hillary is the "most qualified candidate in history." Move over, George Washington and John Adams. Get lost, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. You obviously pale in comparison with our beloved Hillary.

Yeah, right.

And have you noticed how quickly the email scandal of how the Democratic party establishment was swept under the rug? It was all the rage just a few days ago, after it hit over the weekend, and now, already, people have forgotten about it, despite how large of a shadow now looms over Hillary's victory in the primaries.

Actually, it's not entirely forgotten. It confirmed what many, if not most, supporters of Bernie Sanders not only suspected, but really knew all along. It symbolized a perversion not only of the democratic system, but the reinforced the perception that these hand-picked candidates will get into office no matter what.

Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate. She has among the most staggeringly high disapproval ratings of any nominee ever. The only thing that makes this less glaring is that her opponent is right there with her, neck and neck in terms of disapproval. Truly, this election is one of the most pathetic embarrassments in the history of this country. President Obama suggested that people around the world do not understand what is happening in this presidential election. Frankly, neither do I.

But I know one thing: I cannot, and will not, support either of these weak, pitiful candidates that the two major parties will now try to push on us. Never Trump, sure. But never Hillary, too. I am tired of wasting my vote on major party candidates that put on their smiles and loudly proclaim false promises, while delivering on the pro-corporate agenda that is truly killing what greatness the United States still has. To me, the idea of voting for candidates from either major party truly is a waste of a vote, because you are voting for a lie. That, to me, is truly wasting my vote. While some people feel that there really is no choice but to vote for one or the other, I see this election and am starting to believe that we have reached the point where almost anyone else would be better.

Or am I just being ridiculous?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Problem With Being "Ethically Challenged"

As I was driving yesterday morning and listening to NPR, one of the feature stories came on. It was about Hillary Clinton, and why people seemed to really so strongly distrust her, and even hate her with such a passion. They mentioned the upcoming story fifteen minutes before it aired, and I was intrigued.

It was not what I expected, as the reporter, Tamara Keith, essentially seemed to insinuate that Hillary Clinton's trust issues basically had everything to do with sexism. Yes, people just had a problem with the idea of a woman being in a position of leadership. In this case, of course, potentially the White House.

Nothing about the emails (a little more on that later). Nothing about the strange coincidences surrounding a rigged primary season, in which she benefited entirely from getting the unofficial, but all too real support from the Democratic party establishment, and the recent controversy revealing emails confirming this reality, which those same elites within the Democratic party had previously dismissed as paranoia by supporters of Bernie Sanders. Nothing about Whitewater. Nothing about her repeated claims about coming under sniper fire in Bosnia, even though nothing like that ever happened. Nothing about her claims that she and her husband were broke after leaving the White House, which was something that had actually happened to President Carter after he left office. Nothing about having taken numerous pieces of furniture and artwork from the White House that did not belong to her. Nothing about her claim to have been turned down by the Marines in 1975, when she was fostering a young, up and coming legal career. Nothing about how she was removed from her position as a House Judiciary Committee staffer for lying and incompetence. Nothing about wearing a dress that cost well over $12,000 during a speech about income inequality. Nothing about all of the money that she so readily took from big corporations and Wall Street banking firms for "speaking fees" and her refusal to release the transcripts of these speeches. Nothing about how certain she was that she would not face any serious legal consequences over the investigation over the emails.

But let us remember something else about those emails: her husband, Bill Clinton, meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac of Phoenix Skyport (airport) for half an hour, but how this meeting, which came out a little more than a week before all charges were essentially dropped against Hillary Clinton, even while FBI Director James Comey essentially blasted Hillary for being very irresponsible. Some of the terms that he used in describing Hillary Clinton's behavior, specifically, was that she had acted "extremely carelessly" and "gross negligence," although all charges were dropped. It was deemed a victory for Hillary Clinton, and her supporters. But was this the kind of triumph that we should all celebrate? Should we feel good about such a person in the top office in the country?

Surely, it helps to have a former president as your husband. Sure, officially, there was no wrongdoing, of course. Oh, there was plenty of outrage, but the story died after just a few days, and we no longer hear about it from the mainstream media. It will be mentioned by her opponents, and it will cast a dark shadow over her legacy, as will all those other times that she has been caught lying, yet got away with it.

Of course, she is not the only politician who has an extensive history of lying and getting away with it. Richard Nixon was about to get impeached, and instead, he resigned in disgrace, after it was revealed that he had covered up Watergate. In the 1980's, Ronald Reagan came to be known as the "Teflon President" because nothing, no scandals and no lies that he was caught red-handed with, ever seemed to stick. But the man who was surely even more successful at getting away with lying, and who many in the 1990's starting suggesting was the "real teflon President," was none other than Hillary's husband, Bill Clinton.

Back in the late 1990's, I remember Republican Congressmen began to describe President Bill Clinton as being "ethically challenged."

Now, I'm not a fan of Republicans and, truth be told, I have never vote for a Republican candidate even once in my life. But one thing that they have never been bad at is insulting people. Normally, I am not a big fan of that, and feel it is relatively classless. 

However, there are times when it is so outrageous, so over the top, There was one point where New York's Senator D'Amato sang a parody of the "Old MacDonald had a farm" song, which basically went started like this, "President Clinton had a bill, ee-i-ee-i-o..."

I remember turning to my parents after watching that clip and musing about the state of politics in the country, and how Bill Clinton had dreamed of being president since he was a little boy, and that now, all these years later, he finally reached the White House, only to have a Republican senator making a fool of himself and cheapening the whole political process by singing a child's song to mock his political opponents.

Yet, the truth of the matter is that Bill Clinton himself did a good job of discrediting his own political career by being a pathological liar. I mean, we all remember how out of control his conduct was around attractive women. That really had nothing to do with his actual presidency, but it sure does not reflect highly on his character or trustworthiness either. I was thinking of listing all of the lies that he was associated with, but in the interest of finishing this entry today, there simply was no time to actually list them all and, besides, the list would likely be incomplete. Suffice to say, the man made a career out of gross exaggerations and even outright lying. His speeches seem laden with half-truths and ridiculous exaggerations. Some of the ones that bothered me the most over the years were his claims that he paid off 60% of the national debt, even though these were "paid" by taking out temporary loans, which meant that we owed the exact same amount, and his promises to be a strong environmental president, and then doing little to nothing for almost eight full years, until he penned some sweeping environmental legislation in his last 72 hours in the Oval Office to make his record sound much stronger, knowing full well that President Bush would waste no time gutting these. Yes, those were good for speeches to make him look better, but they certainly did not benefit the country at all. They just benefited his political career.

Let us remember, also, that Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for lying under oath, earning the distinction of being only the second president in history to receive such "honors."

The reason that the term "ethically challenged" struck me was that, for once, Republicans seemed to have a point. I disagreed with their policies and their own ethics, of course. But how could you defend against charges that Bill Clinton was a serial liar, and that he was, as they said, "ethically challenged?" 

You simply cannot. At least, if you have an ounce of objectivity. The only thing you can do is conveniently choose to ignore it. Which, of course, the mainstream Democrats did. Have done. Are doing right now, as I write this, in fact. Because it is not just Bill Clinton who is "ethically challenged." It is the Clinton family as a whole.

What made the term "ethically challenged" striking is that it fit, and was in a sense, a double entendre. According to Wiktionary, this is "an ironic imitation of politically correct language." Which, of course, the Clintons themselves have both been masterful with. And with Hillary's rise to the Democratic nomination, and her still likely ascension to the Oval Office, the term may very well make a comeback. Frankly, the Clintons - both male and female Clintons - deserve nothing less, even if the attacks come from the equally pathetic (of not perhaps even more pathetic) GOP opposition.

Now, lies aside, let us also remember a couple of other things about the Clinton presidency: that he created the "too big to fail" banking system that nearly caused the collapse of the economy in 2008, and that the prison reforms that he was responsible for sent many nonviolent offenders to prison for a long, long time in our for profit prison system. The result of these reforms is that the United States now has more people behind bars than any other country in the world. Yes, "the land of the free" has more people in prison than China, North Korea, Iran, and any other brutal regime you care to mention. And the Clintons had a part t play in that. A major part.

But don't worry. The Clintons both apologized for their role in this tragedy that ruined millions of lives.

Oops. Sorry about that.

Oh, and let us not forget that Hillary Clinton officially cut her ties with this for profit prison system by announcing that she would refuse to accept funds from this industry just this past October, so let us not say that she is not an agent of progress (at least when it benefits her political ambitions). 

So, given all of this, my question is why everyone is so enthusiastically supporting this woman? I mean, it's a damn party in Philadelphia, with everyone celebrating, even though it's quite clear that both she and her husband have actually been pretty bad for the country. How does this happen? How do they both get away with it for so long?

Well, I cannot say for sure. But I'm pretty sure that stories from reporters who insinuate that the issues of trust that so many Americans have with Hillary are merely based the product of sexism have something to do with it. After all, a new poll suggests 68% of people have with Hillary Clinton, and that encompasses a lot of men and women. This, despite stories by people claiming to be journalists who do not even touch on serious issues, such as the one by Tamara Keith that got me on this topic. After the media has proven to be so entirely irresponsible and failing to be impartial in such high profile cases as the election of 2000, the Iraq invasion and all of the lies surrounding it, and the recent primaries where notions that Bernie Sanders was "unelectable" persisted, despite him winning state after state against the supposedly strong and natural candidate, Hillary Clinton, we really need to scrutinize not only politicians like Hillary Clinton much more than we do (rather than throwing parties for them and giving them a free pass), but we also really need to start holding the media's feet to the fire, too. 

Here is the link to the pathetic piece of reporting that got me onto this topic in the first place:

The Disconnect Between The Public And Private Hillary Clinton by Tamara Keith on All Things Considered, July 26, 2016:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

DNC Chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Resigns in Disgrace Before Hillary Offers Her Glitzy New Position on Campaign

So, the big news in American politics on this day - the first day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, is that DNC chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is stepping down in disgrace after an email scandal was revealed over the weekend, in which it was revealed that she and several other Democratic establishment elites did everything within their power to sway the election in favor of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The media and the political world has made it clear that they are shocked - shocked! - that such despicable measures were taken to assure that there was not a fair race, but that it was rigged in favor of their candidate, the now presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

It was even revealed that in some states, particularly in Bible belt states, there would be an attack on Bernie Sanders for his presumed atheism, despite the fact that he himself denies being an atheist, and that he is, in fact, Jewish. Given the outrage of many Democrats at the notion put forth by Donald Trump of discriminating against potential immigrants based on their religion (specifically, if they are of the Muslim faith or not), this serves as a glaring double standard practiced by these Democrats, who proudly proclaimed to be members of the party for the people.

For now, the only public figure named in this scandal is Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and many other establishment Democrats are acting appalled that she has been found guilty and discredited in such a public manner, particularly on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. In a pre-convention breakfast before delegates from Florida, her home state, Wasserman-Schultz was booed off the stage. She tried to make light of it, tried to go on with her speech, tried to express her condolences for yet another mass shooting at another Florida nightclub, but the boos just kept coming, mostly by disgruntled supporters of Bernie Sanders, who felt that their candidate was cheated.

Which, of course, he was.

In the end, Wasserman-Schultz thanked President Obama for her time chairing the Democratic Party and, before the crowd, defended herself by insinuating that Hillary Clinton had asked for her help, and she had given it. And she reminded the crowd that, according to her, the big goal remains the same: getting Hillary Rodham Clinton elected to the White House.

Of course, this came in the aftermath of her announcement that she would be stepping down from her position as Chair of the Democratic Party following this convention.

But, not to worry! She's already landed another job offer, and by none other than Hillary Clinton herself!

That's right! Instead of acknowledging that this was a real problem within the Democratic party and taking this seriously, Hillary went the other way with this thing, by naming Wasserman-Schultz as her new honorary chair of the campaign. Truth be told, it's hard to tell if this is Hillary being completely oblivious to what this signifies (I'm a little skeptical that she is merely oblivious to the message this will , or if she really just believes that she is that high and mighty, that she can get away with anything and everything that she wants.

Think about it: Wasserman-Schultz resigned because it was proven (not merely insinuated anymore) that the Democratic establishment (headed by Wasserman-Schultz) conspired against Bernie Sanders, while claiming to remain neutral and on the sidelines. That is wrong, and it goes against the democratic traditions that the United States was founded upon. As a result, Wasserman-Schultz was vilified by many, and held largely responsible. She might not be the only big name to fall on the sword, but she is surely the first for a reason.

And yet, there's Hillary, sweeping her up and bringing her in. Basically saying to the world that this woman, who basically cheated and used her influence and resources in a powerful position to make sure that Bernie Sanders would never be president (and she is quotes as saying as much), was okay. Yes, she had to resign because of wrong doing. But she had delivered a victory to Hillary, and so she was going to get the gold standard treatment.

In the meantime, of course, Hillary claims not to have known anything about these emails. Yet another story involving Hillary and emails and bad news, and more denials on Hillary's part. Still more issues with trust, and more questions regarding her decision making. This, on the heels of a pretty damning poll that came out on Monday, revealing that a whopping 68% of Americans do not trust Hillary Clinton. That is one issue in which Donald Trump, of all people, comes out on top of Hillary. Yes, Trump has been revealed to have lied quite a bit during this campaign, and there is no secret of this. He's shady, and nobody even seems to deny it. Yet, a clear majority of Americans still find him more trustworthy than Hillary Clinton!

Again, though, there are the mainstream Democrats, making sure to tell us not to worry! Everything is okay! Despite the speeches that sounded hate-filled coming from the Republican National Convention last week in Cleveland, Trump's poll numbers have bounced up, while Hillary's went down, and this latest scandal involving the Democrats intervening with the race for the nomination, everything is just peachy! Why, there's Sarah Silverman, telling those reluctant Bernie Sanders supporters that they are being ridiculous, even as the outrage over finding confirmation over the DNC's active role in undermining the Sanders campaign was revealed.

Until the Democrats fully acknowledge that what happened was wrong and completely unacceptable, this is not going to go away. I mean, the Democrats of all people should be outraged over this. After all, they were crying foul and questioning the legitimacy of George W. Bush's rise to the White House after he stole the election in 2000. Back then, many establishment Democrats felt that they had been cheated, and that the democratic process itself had been perverted to prevent them from obtaining their true power. Now, they are guilty of the exact same thing.

Yet, many Democrats just want Sanders and his supporters to keep their mouths shut about it.

Funny, isn't it?

Mainstream Democrats after the allegations of cheating in the general election of 2000: "We won this election, so why isn't our man in the White House! This is a subversion of the democratic process! We demand a recount!"

Mainstream Democrats after the allegations of cheating in the primary elections of 2016: "Okay, it wasn't entirely fair. But you know what, Sanders supporters, get over it already! Besides, do you want Donald Trump in the White House? Because if you continue to criticize and hurt us, that's what you'll get!

Surely, that approach will help people to trust Hillary Clinton more, right? What could possibly go wrong?

And all of this while Donald Trump has, for the first time, taken the lead over Hillary Clinton. And this might not just be the typical post-convention bounce, either. Nate Silver, the man behind the reputed fivethirtyeight website that has a strong record of predicting elections accurately, has suggested that this shift might not be temporary, but that Trump really has some serious advantages working for him in the crucial swing states.

I certainly do not want to see a Trump presidency. However, I am tired of being told that we all need to suck it up and vote for the lesser of two evils once again in the upcoming election. Every election is like that, and this one is particularly absurd in just how poor each of the two major party options are. Frankly, Hillary Clinton just does not seem worth voting for. She makes a habit of lying, manipulating, and in my opinion, she has not made a strong case for why she deserves to be president, other than being passionate about obtaining the White House.

Frankly, despite Hillary's denials of knowledge of the emails, it is hard to believe her. She has lied plenty of times in the past, and the Democrats themselves continually denied actively working against Sanders, until they were caught red-handed this past weekend. The whole thing reeks of dirty, underhanded tricks. In fact, Hillary's entire campaign reeks of it, in general.

So, I'm still a skeptic. She lies, she takes money from the big banks and corporations, which means she will likely do their bidding. She will surely pass TPP, and she will pay lip service to environmental concerns, while undermining the cause. She is a Clinton, after all. We may even see another war under her tenure. And this latest move to add Wasserman-Schultz to her campaign just makes me fed up with her apparent inability to extend any sort of olive branch to supporters of Sanders, such as myself.

So, what's to get excited about?

Chaotic Start to DNC, As Wasserman-Shultz Resigns in Disgrace, Only to be Elevated by Clinton to Key Campaign RoleAt first Sanders is vindicated by e-mail hack, and DNC apology; but Hillary turns the tables. by Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet July 24, 2016:

BREAKING: Democratic Party Releases This OFFICIAL Apology To Bernie Sanders (LETTER) by Sampson - July, 2016:

Hillary Clinton faces mass dissent over 'dirty tricks' on Bernie Sanders by Nick Allen, 25 JULY 2016:

Hillary Clinton has a major honesty problem, and comments like this one aren’t helping  By Aaron Blake July 25, 2016:

FiveThirtyEight: Trump Currently Projected to Win Election by Jack Heretik, July 25, 2016:

Monday, July 25, 2016

An Update on the Upcoming Soundgarden Album

The title of this article looked intriguing, and got me to open it up right away.

However, I'm not sure if it actually qualifies as a "major" update on the upcoming Soundgarden album. In fact, I'm guessing that it does not. The title is more than a little misleading, because there hardly really is any update at all, frankly.

Basically, what it came down to, as far as developments on the actual album are concerned, was this quote by Chris Cornell:

“Soundgarden is in the middle of writing songs. After this tour the songs will become real and we’ll put an album out. There’s much more to Soundgarden. I get to play with my band and I get to go solo. It’s great for me.”

That said, it is an update of sorts, and for those of us who are eagerly anticipating this release, we will take what we can get, right?

Major Update On New Soundgarden Album By Brett Buchanan -  Jun 28, 2016:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Review: "End of Watch" by Stephen King

While I read this book and finished it some time ago, I never did get around to publishing it. Apologies for the delay in actually writing, and especially in publishing, this particular blog entry, as this has been sitting in my unpublished posts for some time now. If memory serves correctly, this was due to the Nice attack, as I wrote this review around that time, and meant to publish it just after. But the Nice attack occupied my time and focus for a while there, and then there were other things that came up, and this fell down the list of unpublished works, until it was forgotten about.

Earlier today, however, I noticed it again, and realize now that it never actually did get published. And so, without further delay, here is the review.

Warning: Spoiler Alert for those who have not yet read this book but intend to do so!

This was the third, and presumably final, installment of Stephen King's Detective Hodges trilogy. In this particular installment, we see the return of Brady Hartsfield, the evil genius, if you will, from the first of these books, "Mr. Mercedes." In that one, he began his spree of murderous crime by stealing a Mercedes and running over a whole bunch of people waiting outside for a job fair to open up during particularly hard times in a Midwestern city.

He was not caught, which gave him only a boost in his confidence, and allowed him to work at leisure in what turned out to be his real hobby: pushing people to commit suicide. He tried to force already suicidal retired detective Bill Hodges into committing the act, but his urges actually have the opposite effect, and inspire Hodges to pursue Hartsfield. The rest of the book is about Hartsfield coming up with an even more destructive plan, and working to carry it out, while Hodges and his new team work to find out who this mysterious killer is and stop him before he can commit another atrocity.

Of course, Hartsfield is thwarted just at the end, as Holly, Hodges new friend and assistant, smashes Hartsfield's head in just before he is about to detonate the bomb at the community center, where thousands of kids are gathered to see the hottest boy band act.

Hartsfield is sent to the hospital and seems to have become a vegetable, although not everyone is sure that he is truly gone and neutralized as a threat. Before long, stories start emerging about weird things happening in his hospital room, such as the water turning on, or things falling, all on their own. Hodges begins to suspect that Brady is actually faking his condition, and he verbally tries to get Hartsfield to come out of his shell.

Still, there is no reaction, and the rest of the world believes that Hartsfield is in a concussion that looks hopeless. The medical community believes that his condition is hopeless, and that this will be his life sentence.

As it turns out, however, Hartsfield really is pretending, as he snaps awake from his coma state, and finds himself having strange new powers. It does not take him long before he begins to really explore them.

One of his main new powers is to inhabit into a new human body, so long as the host is not strong enough to force him out.It turns out that Hartsfield is quite skilled in this regard and, before too long, he has managed to inhabit two other individuals at will, and they allow him what his own body cannot give him any more: mobility.

Also, Hartsfield can enter the minds of others, and once again, he turns these powers of his towards trying to push people (particularly young people) to commit suicide.

Of course, it is up to retired detective Hodges and his team (Holly and ) to stop Hartsfield before he can actually create what he is desperately trying to create: an epidemic of suicides by young and desperate people in their city.

However, this time is different, because Hartsfield's new powers allow him to inhabit a new human host, and possibly several other human hosts simultaneously, as far as Hodge's gang is concerned. And that means that while the stakes have never been higher, neither has the capacity to make some crucial mistake or oversight.

Not surprisingly, however, Hodges and Holly do catch up with Brady, in the ultimate of what goes around, comes around. First, Holly gets clobbered in the head by Brady while crawling around in the snow outside of a hunting lodge that he has holed up in, and Hartsfield breaks Hodge's hand, rendering him defenseless.

In the end, however, Brady grows too cocky and sure of himself for his own good. He forgets about things, gets too lax, and this allows Hodges to surprise him while Brady is trying to hypnotize him. Brady gets shot in the process by Holly, and he has to run to the woods. But he has a monster gun on him, which he uses to shoot up the house (it's not his anyway), yet this trigger happiness on his part prevents him from hearing the sounds of the huge vehicle quickly descending on him, as Jeremy of course comes to the aid of Hodges and Holly. The vehicle plows over Hartsfield, who finally gets a real taste of the kind of pain that he himself caused in the first book in this trilogy (which each of the three books opens up with).

Finally, we find out that Hodges dies of pancreatic cancer in the end, but get the sense that Holly is not about to fall apart, as in the past, and that things are generally looking up for the group as a whole (although this is apt to be the last book in this series).

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Temple of the Dog Set to Reunite & Tour This Fall

Yes, Temple of the Dog is having a reunion.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the album that figured so prominently in the careers of all of those who were involved with the musical project, the members of Temple of the Dog will be getting together and touring in the fall.

One notable absence is Eddie Vedder, although he really only contributed for that one song, "Hunger Strike."

Although what a song that was! Easily the biggest song in the musical project's repertoire, it was a huge hit!

Both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden owe a debt of gratitude to the enormous success that Temple of the Dog managed to obtain.

In any case, the original members of Temple of the Dog were thinking of doing something for the upcoming anniversary, and what they decided on was to tour together! Now, that's really cool!

Here is the link and, if you are like me and interested in going to the show, good luck getting tickets!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Reflects & Shares Thoughts on His Lasting Legacy

It is approaching the half century mark since man walked on the moon for the first time. Really, it is only three years from now that it will have reached the 50 year anniversary of this most memorable and proud occasion. The second man to set foot on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, recently discussed what he would like to be his lasting legacy.

Unfortunately for him, he is often dismissed for having been the second man to walk on the moon, rather than the first.

However, he says that he should have been the first, that up to that point, the junior officer had been the first one out of the ship, and that this tradition was broken for the lunar landing.

Still, Buzz Aldrin seems satisfied with having been one of the very, very few human beings to have gone into space, let alone walked on the moon.

Also, maybe he was not the first man to walk on the moon, but he does believe that he has been the most active and tireless advocate for the American space program. He wonders where the other prominent astronauts have been since their glory days conquering space, reaching new destinations previously unknown and untouched by humanity.

Here is a link to an article in which Buzz Aldrin discusses these and other matters regarding the exploration of space, and his role in it:

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on legacy he wants to leave behind by CBS News  July 16, 2016:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Being Thankful...

Last year, I took my son to see Pope Francis I in Philadelphia when he came to the United States. The entire city had been shut down, so getting to central Philadelphia had required special train tickets and such. But we got there.

Although my family has some Catholic background, we never were particularly religious. However, I have been impressed with this particular Pope like no other, and just thought it would be something to see, and an experience that my son would remember and, hopefully, benefit from.

And so we went, and found a fairly decent place to sit on the grass of Independence Mall while facing Independence Hall, where the Pope was to speak. Of course, I reminded my son of the history of the place, much of which he had already learned in school. This was the place where Continental Congress met, and this was the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed. He seemed interested to learn that this building was on the back of a $100 bill, and seemed particularly interested in me showing him a bill. Of course, I did not have one on me, although if I had, he surely would have asked if he could keep it.

In any case, it was a pleasant day, mostly filled with sitting around and waiting for the Pope to arrive.

Finally, when he arrived, everyone got up on their feet, and the excitement built. We saw him pass a few hundred feet in front of us, waving to the crowd. And then, he was taken to Independence Hall itself, to meet with dignitaries.

After some minutes passed, he emerged from the building and addressed the enthusiastic crowd.

The one thing that really stuck with me was his emphasis on gratitude, and he stressed to us that we should make a point of remembering to feel thankful, grateful, for all the blessings that we had.

Indeed, that is a message that resonated with me. It was not unique to the Pope, of course. But I could always use a reminder of the significance of being appreciative for all that I have been blessed with in my life, because it is easy to forget, and get caught up with all the details of daily life. For a while, I was successful in taking a few moments each day after that, and thinking about something that I was truly grateful for.

Unfortunately, it did not stick. Every now and again, it comes back. And although I always mean to try and make sure to keep this habit up, it usually fades away, unfortunately.

However, I had such a moment yesterday. My son was punished for something that he did earlier this week, and so he could not play any video games, or anything like that. However, it seemed like a good idea to take him out and do something fun and constructive, so I decided to take him to Bogue Pond in Bloomingdale, his home town.

The weather has been hot and sticky for most of the week, but yesterday was about as nice as you could ask for, and the late afternoon and evening, when we went to the park, was particularly pleasant. He had enjoyed his day at camp, and now, we could both enjoy the park, before returning home and getting him ready for bed.

He brought his book, although he spent most of the time on the playground, which was nice to see. I brought books, and was reading them, although occasionally, my eyes would lift up and appreciate the pond with the fountain in the middle, and the green foliage surrounding the park. At one point, we had the park to ourselves, and so I moved to the gazebo, and continued reading, although this time, I looked around, and saw colorful flowers in nearby pots. This, plus the view of the pond and the fountain on such a beautiful summer evening, coupled with the fact that my son was there enjoying himself, reminded me of how much of a blessing this was. I felt, and feel, truly thankful for such moments.

It just seemed like something that was worth sharing, and a reminder to myself, also, to take more time to appreciate all that life has blessed me with!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Anniversary of First Man on the Moon

Today, July 20th, marks the 47th anniversary of the first man walking on the moon.

Those steps were taken by Neil Armstrong, with Buzz Aldrin following shortly thereafter. Of course, Armstrong's famous words were not heard quite right. What he actually said was, "This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Indeed, those words have lived on and deservedly achieved a level of immortality ever since.

Lesser known were Buzz Aldrin's words describing the lunar landscape as "magnificent desolation."

What a triumph for humanity, and it came at the tail end of the incredibly active decade that was the 1960's. Beginning with the Civil Rights movement, then the Kennedy assassination, the British Invasion of new music (particularly the Beatles), the Vietnam War, the antiwar movement, the controversial protests, near revolutions in some countries including the United States, France and the Czech Republic, and the other political assassinations that were scattered throughout the 1960's, it was a turbulent decade.

Yet, the lunar landing was the culmination of a goal set by President Kennedy in his "Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort" just shy of a decade beforehand:

"We choose to go to the Moon! ... We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win .."

Following such trying times, this was something that everyone could take a strong measure of pride in, as it was an enormous achievement. And it happened on this day in 1969.

⚜ ⚜ ⚜ Paul McCartney in Québec - July 20, 2008 ⚜ ⚜ ⚜

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⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜  ⚜   ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜  ⚜  ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜ ⚜   ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜  ⚜   ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜  ⚜  ⚜  ⚜   ⚜   ⚜   ⚜   ⚜   ⚜  ⚜

Picture of one of the stickers of this concert that I got years ago. 

Yes, I know that I have mentioned this concert before, and it may seem strange that I'm bringing it up once again, seemingly out of nowhere.

But, you see, I recently went to my storage and found the copy of my DVD from this concert (it was broadcast locally in Québec) probably a few months after it took place. The thing is, I had never made copies of it, and until I did, I was hesitant to play it, not wanting to damage the disk, or anything.

So, I took it out of storage, and brought it back with me, and without delay, finally made copies, now that I had the real opportunity to do so.

Finally, a few days later, with a day off and alone at the apartment, I got my chance to watch it again. The entire concert in full, from beginning (in fact, a lot of it is talk - in French - before the concert) right to the end.

As I was watching it, a lot of it began to come back to me.

The memories of feeling suddenly excited to hear the first time when my father and brother both told me that Paul McCartney was going to visit the city of Québec for a free concert on the occasion of it's 400th anniversary. They wanted all of us to go together, but in the end, it was just my then wife and our son, still then a baby, who wound up going.

The excitement of arranging things with my work, particularly my then weekend job (the concert was on a Sunday, and going up there would require the entire weekend off, which for a chance to see Paul McCartney for such a huge and momentous occasion, I was only to happy to take off for), and beginning to really know that this was going to happen. Then, driving up, arriving in Canada, then arriving in the city of Québec, a second trip there in 2008, for the 400th anniversary, and sensing the excitement building in the city. The concert was the big thing that everyone seemed to be waiting for, and for me, that anticipation was perhaps the best part. Perhaps, but the concert, and the aftermath, were pretty sweet, too!!

Everything felt magical for that trip, and it was, again, the last time that I did anything like that with my then wife, and our beautiful then baby child. I still mention to him now how he was "there" for the big concert, although he fell asleep by the third or fourth song, and nothing from that point on could wake him up, not even the fireworks!

It happened seven years ago today, and I have just been thinking a bit about it. My son was not even three years old, and he was more curious than interested on that day with what was going on at the stage so far away. He listened, but did not get too much into it during the warm-up, which we were blessed to be able to watch. For the actual concert, he stayed awake for maybe three or four songs, then lay down in his chair, and went to sleep. Not even the fireworks woke him up. Nothing woke him up that night. He only awoke the next morning, when the festivities were by then done.

The concert was the huge event that captivated the entire province of Québec that weekend. Every station was talking about it, or playing Paul McCartney songs. After the concert, every station, it seemed, was playing some of the songs from the actual concert.

We had to get back home, and as we drove the next day, the radio from Québec City faded, yet those from Montréal were playing Paul McCartney stuff, as well. I stopped somewhere in Trois-Rivières, presumably to get some gas and pick up some newspapers, which I was collecting after the event. The cashier looked at me, and she asked if I had gone to the show. She looked amazed when I nodded yes, even though it was a free concert, and we were only one hour outside of the city. But not everyone can go, to be sure. That said, I still feel blessed to have gotten the chance to go, and to have capitalized.

Especially on that day, when Paul McCartney honored the city, and really the entire province, of Québec, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary. What a show he put on for us all, too!

And so today, I remember what took place on this day, eight years ago on the Plains of Abraham in Québec City. It was on these fields that numerous battles took place, including when the English defeated the French and essentially took over all of North America. Years later, Benedict Arnold and General Montgomery would invade Canada and come to the walls of Québec City, only to be repulsed. These fields of the Plains of Abraham are like the Central Park of that city, and it was fitting on many levels that an Englishman would come to the Plains, but this time be embraced and welcomed. He gave back generously, putting on an amazing show that I, for one, will not soon forget.

Je me souviens!

Fêtons Nos 400 Ans! - Ville de Québec

Donald Trump Embarrassments Still Do Not Validate Hillary Clinton

Okay, so the speech by Melania Trump was apparently lifted from Michelle Obama's 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention. I get it, and it was indeed embarrassing for the Republicans, and for the Trumps in particular, surely. It serves as just one more thing - the latest in a long strong of reminders - of just how lacking in ideas, originality, and class that Trump and his people have, and how he is not fit to be President.

Here's the thing: I have never in my life seen a major candidate screw up quite as much as this. I mean, it literally seems like every single day, Donald Trump finds himself in some sort of major controversy, either directly or indirectly.

Not surprisingly, this stands to benefit Hillary Clinton. It seems that everything during this unconventional election season has served to benefit Hillary. Even when she appeared to be losing, when Bernie Sanders was drawing thousands (and sometimes) even more than ten thousand people during his rallies, while Hillary was struggling to draw a few hundred people at her events, she still managed to win primaries, although often with the help of closed primaries, or with strange things occurring on election day (take a look at some of the investigations into voting irregularities in Arizona, New York, Nevada, and California, for example). The evidence suggests that the party establishment helped her enormously, and of course, it is no secret that her funding came largely from the infamous Wall Street big banks and corporations, and not from the people, as was the case with Sanders.

Ultimately, the powers that be wanted her, and she won.

Now, she is winning against Trump, and in large part, it is because he keeps stumbling. Things always seem to go wrong with his campaign, to an extent not seen before. At least not in my lifetime. Not by a major candidate who actually won his party's nomination.

Frankly, I am not even all that convinced that Trump wants to win the White House. Perhaps he does, perhaps this is truly heartfelt. But given how much Hillary seems to have benefited thus far from Trump, particularly from those people who fear a Trump presidency more than an apocalypse, seemingly, the fact that he seems to bend over backwards to accommodate these fears and fuel them gives me cause for alarm.

I understand that he is a buffoon. Personally, I have always believed that he was an arrogant schmuck who certainly did not deserve the unbelievable media attention that seems to follow his every move. He seemed like the unfeeling and arrogant rich tycoon back in the eighties, and I sincerely believed that Gordon Gekko was modeled after him exclusively, although he was not.

Still, Trump came across like an arrogant schmuck, and I never really could understand his popularity. People seemed to love him, especially when he had his show, with the supposedly brilliant line, "You're fired!" He became associated with it, and eventually, it seemed as if he owned it, as if nobody had ever uttered those words before Trump's reality show.

Such utter nonsense!

And now, of course, he has looked like an unbelievable buffoon throughout this presidential campaign, and no longer looks like the slimy but polished billionaire tycoon.

However, despite all of the ridiculous incidents that keep happening to Trump, that does not somehow candidate Hillary Clinton. Let us remember, she has been in the middle of a ton of controversies and official inquiries as well. Some of them were staged or exaggerated, such as Bengazi, which modern day conservatives harped on relentlessly, shamelessly using a tragedy to score political points. However, the email controversy was not a joke, and neither were the election frauds that seemed to be a running theme in the Democratic primary - and she always seemed to win these controversial elections, with the blessing of the party establishment! Things always seemed to go her way, like when she promised there was no chance of her being indicted for those emails, and then her husband just happened to be on the same tarmac at the same time as the Attorney General, who is in charge of the Justice Department responsible for the investigations, and he happened to decide to meet with her, supposedly just to talk about golf and grandchildren for half an hour, surely inconveniencing thousands of people at a huge airport. Plus, she never did release the transcripts of those speeches to Wall Street firms and big banks. And let us not forget that she ultimately voted for the Iraq War, no matter how her supporters try to distort that reality nowadays, or that she contributed in designing the Trans Pacific Partnership (which she officially opposes, for now). And let us not forget that she seems to take a lot of money and gifts from lobbyists, particularly the healthcare industry that she used to fight, and that this constitutes a conflict of interest.

I short, she is a Clinton, and controversy follows the Clintons like a trail of slime from a snail or slug. It can be no other way.

As Bernie Sanders suggested, Hillary Clinton has the qualifications to be president, although her judgment has proven to be a liability. She is not trusted, and for good reason. Again, that just goes with the territory of being a Clinton.

Of course, her supporters remain blind to all of this. Months ago, many of them argued that anyone who did not support Hillary was automatically a sexist, which is an outrageous and absolutely ridiculous, patently false claim. They only see her words and her own self-aggrandizement, and take the words at face value, rather than as political propaganda. Much like her husband (and perhaps because of her husband), some people will like her, no matter what.

Then, there are other people - and I know quite a few people like this - who are so scared of a Trump presidency, that they put down any and all skepticism of Hillary, and that is wrong, too. Voting for the lesser of two evils still means voting for evil. And let us face one glaring fact: Hillary's "experience" has more than a small streak of corruption to it. She's a Washington insider, which means she knows people, has influence, and can do things. Trump does not have that same access. If anything, he's an outsider. And that means that ironically, despite the conventional wisdom being that Clinton would be the lesser of two evils, she might actually have a more detrimental impact than Trump ever could, simply because a lot of people would not allow him to get away with anything. By comparison, Hillary Clinton got a pass. After all, if she was a man, with her corruption and her ties to the big Wall Street firms and her issues with a lack of trust and people simply not liking her, she likely would never have gotten within sniffing distance of the Democratic nomination.

So, let us recognize what really is a glaring truth: that neither of the two major party candidates is fit to be the Commander-in-Chief. We need someone with ethics, someone who we know will be working for the American people, and not acting like an irresponsible buffoon like Trump surely will, or someone who is working behind the scenes for all of the wrong reasons, making sure to secure profit for all of her friends and the insiders at the expense of the American people, like Hillary surely will. Whether you opt for Jill Stein, or are thinking about writing in a candidate, such as Bernie Sanders, it seems clearer to me than ever before that this country needs better options, rather than systematically settling on evil.

Some people suggest that voting for other than the Democrat or the Republic is throwing away your vote. I would counter that voting for one of them is throwing away your vote. It's time for a real change.