Monday, August 8, 2011

The Embezzlement of America

Barack Obama was first supposed to make his statement earlier today (Monday 8/8) on this past Friday’s S&P rating downgrade to the press at 1:00 PM ET. Then it became 1:30. Then, finally at 1:55, Barry hit the podium, looking like a child who was in deep trouble with his parents. And as he spoke, he kept looking to either side of the camera, as if he couldn’t look us in the eye. And all the time he spoke, the NYSE ticker the TV press so happily superimposed in the corner of the screen kept dropping as he spoke, going down 150 points in less than 5 minutes time. And I swear I could hear the collective gasps of millions of Americans as they all finally came to the same realization.

Our country has been embezzled. So how’s the “Hope & Change” going for you now?

Barry had all weekend to come up with something, but the best he could do was repeat the “balanced approach” to the problem. The problem is that our problem has been unbalanced for a long time, and it is too late for a “balanced approach”. This might just be the end of the credit “gravy train”, just like back in 1929.

For those of you wanting to blame Barry or his predecessor George W. Bush for this mess, you have to go back even further. Much further. Some may point at the Federal Reserve’s creation a hundred years ago. Some may point a finger at the “New Deal” during FDR. Others may say it was Social Security. Others Medicare and Medicaid. Some say the wars in the Middle East. No matter what was the actual start, our government has had the practice of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” for decades.

Embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Unlike other forms of larceny it has a time parameter where weeks, months or even years pass between the commission of the act and when it is discovered. For decades we have allowed the financial sector to operate at a profit…all at public cost. They have taken billions and padded their pockets while at the same time giving away trillions of dollars in loans around the world. Loans that probably will never be paid back. And now we are paying for it. We have a tumbling stock market, over 9 percent unemployment and a flight to gold with some investment advisers say it will be at $2,500 per ounce by year’s end.

The most ludicrous thing said about all this was past Sunday (8/7) on NBC’s “Meet The Press”. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said, quote, “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default. What I think the S&P thing did was to hit a nerve that there's something basically bad going on, and it's hit the self-esteem of the United States, the psyche.”

Hmmmm. “We can always print money…” And what will this newly printed money be backed by, since it is not backed by gold like the old days? The only thing that backs the money in circulation is the promise of the US Government to pay. But, wait a minute? How can we pay on these “promisary notes” when we are trillions of dollars in debt? This is how we have “fixed” our economic woes over the past few decades…”print more money”. If I were to just “print more money” to fix MY economic woes I would be doing time in a Federal prison for counterfeiting.

Barry told us this afternoon that the downgrade of our credit rating was more a comment on our political dysfunction than on our ability to repay our debts. In part that is true, but only a part. Even though it will be painful, there has to be major cuts in spending and more revenue generated in the form of taxes. And the financial sector needs to be held accountable and have its “free reign” over the economy brought under control. And this will no doubt cause more gridlock, because nobody wants to give up “their piece of the pie”, especially the financial sector.

So what do we do now? It will be hard to reverse the effects of decades of bad fiscal decision making by our elected officials and the embezzlement of America by the financial sector.

Yesterday I listened to the original recording of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”, a song we all learned as kids. However, listening to it I was reminded about the often forgotten last two verses of the song”

“As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!”

“In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin’
If this land's still made for you and me.”

It is time for America and us Americans to wake up and take control of our nation and its destiny. We need to hold Washington accountable by our votes and our voices to be tough and serve ALL of those who elected them to represent ALL of us…not just those who are in control of the economic sector.

We need to do this quickly before the term “American” becomes synonymous with the term “Sucker”.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ego Vs. Confidence

It's been nearly 8 weeks since that fateful day Midwest Communications took the reigns from Mid-Michigan Radio Group and released me from WQTX (92-X), WJXQ (Q-106) and Tim Barron Mornings this past June 30th. For 10 days prior to that I knew my fate, brought about by negotiations with the "new sheriff" that went south…along with other factors, circumstances and revelations about people and their true intentions.

To this day, many people continue to quiz me about why I wasn't retained. I received hundreds of emails right after it happened asking why I wasn't on the air. Even though I am not under any confidentiality clause or 18-month "non-compete" that my former radio compadres are now bound by with Midwest, I choose not to go into the particulars or "dish" to people the "skinny" about what happened. Instead, I have three things I share with those "inquiring minds" that are consistent across the board: 1.) It was time for me to move on and move forward, 2.) I wish all the best to those I had worked with, and 3.) This is the best thing that could happen to me.

I have been in the broadcasting, media and entertainment biz since I did my first radio and TV appearance at 5 years old. It is something I have always known in my life, something I truly love, and something I have always been successful at. So there was concern that I would take my being unceremoniously "dumped" in a bad way....that my "ego" would take an extreme beating by it and I would consider myself a failure, blame others and follow a destructive path that would only worsen the situation.

Having an “ego” is an important part of character and personality. It is no coincidence that successful individuals from Donald Trump to Muhammad Ali are often imbued with an unshakable sense of importance. They certainly did not succeed by being content with the status quo. They possess that electrifying X-factor that makes them believe that they are better — special even — than everyone else.

As the saying goes, “Everyone loves a winner.” It’s true that people with strong personalities often attract a huge following. But it’s also often the case that people with huge egos are a massive turn-off, especially when their ego clouds their judgment of reality. When the ego gets too big and failures come, there is either denial that the failure actually occurred or blame is shifted to others instead of themselves.

I learned the lesson long ago that having a big ego does not bring true success in life. Having confidence in yourself, who you are, how you treat others, and knowing your worth is what makes for true success. Some of the biggest egos out there belong to the most insecure people...people who will stop at nothing to tear others down to make themselves feel superior. Thankfully in all my years working with such people not a one of them succeeded in tearing me down.

Many times people confuse ego with confidence and vice versa. Some feel that in order to be hugely successful they need to have a huge ego. The fact is that ego and confidence are two separate and opposite things.

Ego describes the self-serving, self-centered part of a person...the "Me! Me! Me!" part that has no regard for others. People that are driven by their egos stop listening to others and stop seeking feedback. They feel that everything is about them, and when something is not about them, they tend to go ballistic. They honestly believe that they are above everyone else and feel the world owes them something..."It's my world and everyone else just lives in it." They ultimately fail because they are unable to see when their conviction turns into recklessness.

The egotist puts results first instead of putting people first. They are caught up in being the "top dog" so much that they fail to recognize others around them that are a part of helping them achieve their success. At times, they are even fearful of success because deep inside they know they don’t deserve it, yet they still claim all the credit for it. Their stranglehold they keep on being "top dog" leads to fear when someone else shows talent and ability in doing what they do just as well as they do...or even better. Thus they do everything in their power to take down those around them they feel a "threat"...either physically, psychologicly or even by lying about them to others to make them look inferior to themselves.

People driven by ego are always swinging widely between being nice and being totally arrogant...almost as if they are bi-polar. They ride a rocky roller coaster of an existence and many times they let demons take over and they go down a path of destruction over and over…drugs, alcohol, abusive behavior and more.

Confidence is different. Where ego is something that we build up in our minds, confidence is something we are born with...a part of our having arms, legs, fingers toes, and so on. Confidence is an innate human attribute where ego is a man-made psychological state of mind.

Having confidence is where you like yourself for what you are and having a realistic appreciation of your own abilities. True confidence is not solely reliant on success because there will always be failures to contend with. Confidence is not a result of comparing ourselves with others either, because there is always someone better. Simply put, it’s about being sure of your abilities without being conceited and arrogant at the same time.

Being confident in yourself takes acceptance that success comes not be cause of what you do solely, but how others accept your success. If you handle success with arrogance, people are turned off by it. However if you handle success with gratitude and thanks, people see your genuineness and you are respected and liked by all.

Although I am “on hiatus” or “on the beach” from the world of broadcasting, there is no remorse, grief, blaming others, or bitterness that blinds me from reality. I am confident that I will rise to the challenge and succeed…not because I feel success is owed to me, but because success is earned.

So you see folks, contrary to what you have been told on the air for the past four years, it’s not all about me. I hope someday that others realize that it’s not all about them either.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Memories of Elmo

Through our lives, from childhood on through, many of us had a number of family pets. Each one of them having their own characteristics, personalities and our memories of them. I had a good number of them in my life time, all with different traits and recollections.

There was our first family pet when I was 3, a Great Dane named Brutus, who jumped through a full length window, shattering it to bits, to chase after a car going by the house. Then there was Shatzig, a Dachshund, who one day while we were out broke into a case of wine my dad had in the utility room, got drunk and got stuck in a pair of my dad's shorts...front end stuck in one leg, rear end in the other. My grandparent's Dachshund Snoozy who drank coffee, Scooter the Scottish Terrier that would attack the end of a hose if it was turned on, and Ozone...a tabby cat who was the best mole hunter. All with unique traits and memories.

Elmo the cat was a special cat. I am not the most loyal cat lover...allergies make it hard, but Elmo was one of my favorites. He was one of two from the same litter that my ex wife and I got shortly after we were married in 1996. We got his brother Goofy first in September, Then got Elmo in November.

Goofy and Elmo were farm kittens that lived on a farm near my ex parent-in-laws near Battle Creek. Goofy was not weened when we got him so I got the doll baby bottle and did the duties. Getting Elmo was tough. We went to the farm and when we were about to pick him up to take him home he took off, ran to the barn and hid. Had to wait until two days later when they finally retrieved the cat from the barn and brought it to us.

Our reasoning in getting two kittens from the same litter was so that they could keep each other occupied so that there would be no mischief. That proved to be a false bit of reasoning when that Christmas while my ex and I were at work they pulled down the Christmas tree and destroyed it and the decorations on it. Pretty hefty work for 5 month-old kittens.

Elmo had the distinct habit of attacking my feet while I was asleep when we first got him. This practice would prove useful when my ex was ready to give birth to the twins in 1997. He kept attacking my feet when her water broke in the middle of the night until I got up. He was very intelligent as well. Most cats when you call their name would be finicky and ignore you, or casually come when they felt like it. Elmo would come right away, always giving a "meow" each time I would say his name.

He had very unique culinary tastes. He loved McDonald's french fries, black olives and tuna. I used to make tuna salad for sandwiches for me to take to work. As soon as I opened the can in the electric can opener he would come and beg for tuna, which I treated him to a couple select morsels each time. After awhile all he had to do was hear the electric can opener and he was there. Even if I wasn't opening a can of tuna, whether chili or a can of coffee, he would still be there begging for his tuna fix.

Over the past couple months I noticed Elmo getting rather thin. I told my ex and she said she noticed it too. Then three weeks ago he slowly walked up to me wanting me to pet him. I bent down and gently stroked his head and scratched his ears. His head raised up as always, stretching his neck out to show his enjoyment of the attention, but then he lost his balance from the neck stretch and fell down on his side. I informed my ex of this and we both agreed that he was not doing well.

The week of July 19th it was my wife's visit week with the kids. This past Sunday she called me to let me know that Elmo was not well at all and she doubted he would make it to yesterday...the day her visit week ended and I would see the kids again. I told her that he would hang on until he saw me.

Yesterday I picked up the kids from the pool and took them to the house. Once there I went to where the kids told me Elmo was. As I came to where he was, I called him by his nickname we gave him as a kitten, "Mosers". He picked up his head from the pillow he was resting on, looked right at me and answered to his name with the "meow" he always did...laboring to get it out, but he still did. I sat with him talking, petting him and scratching his ears, which he still tried to show he loved by stretching his neck.

Today, after picking up the kids from the summer learning program at school and going to the house, Elmo was still hanging on. I called "Hi Mosers" and he meowed...much weaker than the day before. He couldn't pick up his head to look at me, and didn't respond to petting and the ear scratch other than opening his eyes and looking at me.

The entire afternoon, he would meow in pain every so often, and I would go up and check on him. The last time he meowed, I came to see him struggling to breathe. My eyes welled up, I bent down to pet him, and told him, "Elmo, it's time to let go. You were a good cat, and I will miss you. But it's your time to go home and not suffer anymore." With that he gave a weak meow, took one deep breath, then shut his eyes for the last time.

The twins and I dug a grave for him in the back yard near the catnip that he loved to frolic in. My ex and youngest daughter brought Elmo out in a blanket. We then said goodbye to a very unique and much loved cat. We came back in to his brother Goofy staring up at us...looking lost. I petted Goofy and gave an ear scratch. He stretched his neck in approval and looked right at me as I said his name...and he meowed.

I am not a real cat person because of allergies, so more than likely I will not have any more cats as pets in my lifetime. But I will sure remember the last cats that were in my life...Goofy and especially a very unique and intelligent cat named Elmo.

Rest in peace, Mosers.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mel And The Fish Bowl

Back a couple decades ago, there was a show on a radio station I was working at in the Detroit area called “The Fish Bowl”. The show got its name from the perception that people in the public eye are like “fish in a fish bowl”…whether because of their faith and perceived lifestyle because of their faith, their status, or whether they were in the public eye as an entertainer, media personality, or public official. The rest of us “non-glitteratti” folk hold such people to a higher standard.

Yesterday there was more “leaked” audio on the web of actor/director Mel Gibson threatening former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. The recording follows an earlier recording in which Gibson uses foul and threatening language toward Grigorieva as well as the N-word. The latest “leak” of audio has Gibson yelling at her that she needs a "bat to the side of the head" and that he could put her "in a … rose garden" if he wanted to.

Sadly, no one involved in the incident, including representatives from Gibson's camp, has called its authenticity into question. The two are currently in a fierce child custody battle, and apparently Grigorieva recorded the audio to use in that custody battle, and somehow it was “leaked” to the media, some saying that Grigorieva “leaked” it herself.

I have been brought to debate this incident (and others) and the right to privacy issues with others, the debate being fierce at times. For me, being that I am sometimes considered one of the “glitterati”, this issue has many facets…many parts to the equation. Privacy rights, proper behavior, choices, forgiveness, giving the “benefit of a doubt”. A true slippery slope without any question.

This is not the first incident of foul and threatening language emulating from Mr. Gibson’s mouth. Two other times he has spouted off hate-filled tirades, one time to a police officer as he was being arrested for DUI. Each time followed by apologies, admission of wrong behavior and “promises” to not do it again.

Mr. Gibson’s father, it has been reported, is just as hate-filled in his speech and views, if not more so, along with having severe alcohol abuse problems. Growing up under such a parental example would more than insure that the son would grow up like the father…and all indications are he has.

When one pursues a career in entertainment, whether it is as a Hollywood heavyweight or a small market radio personality, it goes without saying that they enjoy less privacy in the public eye than the average citizen. The news and entertainment media shows and “reporters” are always looking at these folk closely, looking for any slip-up they can sensationalize to a waiting, eager and hungry public looking for juicy gossip.

Do I feel the media is justified in digging so deep for dirt in these folks’ lives? Absolutely not! However, the public at large hungers for such tidbits and stories, and drive up ratings of such shows. Supply and demand in effect here. Do I feel the media is justified in publishing such private details as they have here? Not at all. However, when a person chooses to pursue a career that is in “the public eye”, they also choose to lose some of that privacy if they act in a non-acceptable fashion. To assume different is to live in a fantasy world, because we live in a world today of people wanting to know EVERYTHING about their favorite celebrity. Paparazzi following your every move in public. And the consuming public eats it all up and hungers for more.

This past week we have had a one-two celebrity scandal update… Mel Gibson and director Roman Polanski. Mr. Gibson is being tarred as a pariah for his abusive language. Mr. Polanski, a self-confessed child molester, has been freed by Swiss authorities citing not to honor his extradition to the US. These two recent examples, as well as many others as of late, point to what many people…from public relations specialists to religious leaders and academics…are calling “an increasingly loose moral terrain.”

Today’s pariah is tomorrow’s successful artist, politician, or even corporation, and in fact, the very notion of a pariah or social outcast itself may be disappearing. With a world of increasingly interconnected value systems and cultural beliefs, that sense of uniform moral clarity is fast disappearing.

There have been people that have crossed my path in life…relatives, acquaintances, former co-workers…who have demonstrated bad behavior, sometime to the point of being irreprehensible, over and over, apologizing each time, only to continue to do it over and over again. People who have stolen things, people who treat people with great disrespect, people who abuse others. One such person had a Gibson-esque tirade with their wife, then had their wife arrested and thrown in jail…and the wife did nothing wrong but try to help with the person’s alcohol problem.

The fallout that Gibson is going through is no ones fault but his own. He was dropped by his long-time agency, William Morris Endeavor. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office is investigating domestic abuse because Gibson admitted in one of the released audio recordings that he beat Grigorieva. And I’m sure that he will become anathema in the entertainment business…all seeing little way Gibson would be hired as either an actor or director on any mainstream film in the future.

With all these things in play with regard to such “fish bowl” incidents…privacy, morals, proper behavior, the public feeding frenzy for celebrity gossip and titillating news…and the media feeding it…for me to get into a debate about them is a moot exercise.

Instead of focusing our “debates” on such things, we should focus on debates on the condition of our world today. Lack of morals, unemployment, the economy, hunger, homelessness, diseases like cancer, MS and the like, caring for our fellow human beings, and a busted oil well spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course, we could always debate on whether we agree or not on LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat…

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Is Life?

Lately I have been pondering what life is all about. Just last night I came across this piece on a friend's Facebook info page:

Life is an Adventure ... Dare it
Life is a Beauty ... Praise it
Life is a Challenge ... Meet it
Life is a Duty ... Perform it
Life is a Love ... Enjoy it
Life is a Tragedy ... Face it
Life is a Struggle ... Fight it
Life is a Promise ... Fulfill it
Life is a Game ... Play it
Life is a Gift ... Accept it
Life is a Journey ... Complete it
Life is a Mystery ... Unfold it
Life is a Goal ... Achieve it
Life is an Opportunity ... Take it
Life is a Puzzle ... Solve it
Life is a Song ... Sing it
Life is a Sorrow ... Overcome it
Life is a Spirit ... Realize it

Pretty much says it all. Just a couple more I'd like to add:

Life is a trail ... blaze it
Life is a surprise ... embrace it

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The New Insecure Male Phallic Symbol

Since the dawn of time, men have felt it necessary to assert their male ego utilizing objects that show not only status, but that their “status” is bigger and better than other males.

In the cave man beginnings was the club. Then it became the sword. Then it was a gun. As we progressed into the previous century it became more intricate. Cars come to mind as the most prevalent of them. Now that we are in the 21st Century, it has moved to tech items – pocket games, iPods, laptops; all to show off status and to prove their “manhood” to other males. But none of them compare to the latest insecure male phallic symbol – the Bluetooth headset.

You see them everywhere; at the grocers, the shopping mall, at sporting events, the movie theater…all blinking their little blue LEDs. At times their wearer is deep in conversation, most times giving the appearance of mental instability as they seem to be talking to themselves. And each time I see one, it is worn by a male. I’m waiting for the day I actually see a woman wearing one. When I do, then I will truly wonder what “status” they are telegraphing with it.

I own a Bluetooth headset…actually two of them. I have two for the sole purpose of having one fully charged when the other one’s battery dies. They are small, inconspicuous ones, only an inch in length. I got them several years ago, way before the latest boom. Since I drive a stick shift, they are handy in taking a call while driving, not to mention that it is much safer driving with one.

Sometimes I use them at work so I can be “hands free” while using the computer, especially when I was booking guests for the morning show. People would joke, “You must be somebody important having to wear one.” So, whenever I am not on a call when I’m not driving, I turn it off and take it out of my ear.

It seems as of late that these Bluetooth headsets are becoming more like phallic symbols, increasing in size and number of features. Bigger with more blinking lights on them, some even with shiny chrome trim. All reminiscent of the hot rods that we souped up back in high school and college. And it’s obvious why guys get these…to have one bigger and better than everyone else to either state how “important” they are or to make up for their “short comings”.

Last week, I saw the largest Bluetooth headset ever, worn by the new “sheriff” in town at the station…the man who would tell me that they weren’t “retaining my services”. The thing was huge, hanging off his ear like a sideways icicle off a gutter in the winter, extending from his ear to just a fraction away from the side of his mouth. It looked like the facial tattoo Mike Tyson got years ago…so obvious that you couldn’t help but notice it. The thing was as big as the headset microphone Jesse Goldberg-Strassler wears in the booth when he is the radio voice of Lansing Lugnuts games.

All the time while wearing it, the new “sheriff” wasn’t on a call. He was just wearing it, seeming to do so to show it off. He was strolling the halls, talking to others, but not into the phone/headset. All the while smiling.

It makes me wonder in this case…is such a headset a statement of “importance”, or is it a way to make up for “short comings”?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Mathematical Equations of Life - Radio Guy Version

Family > Career

Tomorrow – Yesterday = Today

Pastrami Sandwich > Nothing,
Life > Nothing,
so, Pastrami Sandwich = Life

Corn Chips + Caesar Dressing = AWESOME!

Work – Stress = A job you hang onto for dear life!

Deep Dish Pizza ÷ Dull Pizza Cutter = Sloppy dining experience

Shit + Shinola = A very shiny ball of shit

Alcohol³ X Gravity = YouTube Video

Cougars + TV X Money ÷ Low I.Q. = Housewives of D.C.