The honest smile that lights the day’s dim news

Our journalistic future, with Mizzou-Columbia alum, RealClearPoly, and CNN analyst, is bright with that sincere smile. Public Domain, I hope.

I get mesmerized … with that smile. It’s hard to turn away.

I speak of Rebecca Berg. The 27-year-old California native is national reporter for RealClearPolitics. But I see her quite often on Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room” on CNN where she is a political analyst.

Berg speaks with a gravitas that belies her age. And, even though she is cuter than a speckled pup — trust me, that is cute — she is more than just a pretty face. I have seen young female journalists who were not much more than a pretty face. But that is, fortunately, rare.


Nonetheless, it appears Berg has put in a lot of work  from her days at University of Missouri — a well-regarded J-school — and her earlier OJT as a fellow at The New York Times, plus a stint at BuzzFeed.

Berg is not a wannabe scribe, and not a TV poser. She does it without extraneous “Look-at-me-me-me” face time.

Young Ms. Berg does wield a smile  that seems second nature — Or first nature perhaps. The smile looks so very honest. Smiles such as the journalist’s can be mistaken for those whose lives have been cruelly locked into a sadder-than-sad cynicism. Not her smile.

Her honesty shines through while speaking of heavy interactions in the often screwed up world within and outside the District of Columbia.

To quote an old Southern rock and roll tune from the 1970s by the oddly-named band, Wet Willie:

“You say you got the blues/You got holes in both your shoes/Feeling alone and confused/Just keep on smiling.

“Keep on smilin’ through the rain, laughin’ at the pain
Rollin with the changes til the sun comes out again.”

Yes ma’am, Ms. Berg, keep on smiling.



Straight from The Donald’s mouth

It really is remarkable. Maybe it isn’t. Remarkable. Perhaps.

Such is the communication style of our “beloved” president. As Donald J. Trump is a piece of work, so are his utterances. Take for instance his recent interview with several reporters from The New York Times. I mean, I have met many politicians in my life. Trump and his loyalists all say that the president is no politician. But, he is a politician, no matter what anyone says. And just as many politicians are full of bullshit, so is The Donald. That is why I marvel at this Times interview and what he said during that interview.

The Donald is watching you! White House photo

First of all, part of Trump’s shtick is the interview. He rails against the media and if you believe Trump, The Times is among his largest target.  But three of those Times reporters, Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, and the latter especially, seem to report and write as if they can actually translate what the president says in his circuitous manner of speaking.

The interview sparked some of the most baffling sentences put together by a modern U.S. president. Take, for instance, Trump and his apparent view of the Affordable Care Act as enacted by his predecessor and the earlier health care efforts of his predecessor’s predecessor’s predecessor.

“Look, Hillary Clinton worked eight years in the White House with her husband as president and having majorities and couldn’t get it done. Smart people, tough people — couldn’t get it done. Obama worked so hard. They had 60 in the Senate. They had big majorities and had the White House. I mean, ended up giving away the state of Nebraska. They owned the state of Nebraska. Right. Gave it away.”

Wake up Nebraska, your Abylai Khan is here, and he is asking for Donald Trump. By Agymsaly Duzelkhanov – Museum of the First President of Kazakhstan, Public Domain,

One can hope –especially those Nebraska folks — that the Cornhusker State wasn’t inadvertently given to another nation. Let’s just think how it would feel to wake up to find your state was now under rule of, say, Kazakhstan.

It is anyone’s guess as to what Trump is talking about — well maybe someone in Kazakhstan would know — once he gets fired up and expounds in thought of health insurance. At least, that seems to be what he is talking about:

 “As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically, you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, “I want my insurance.” It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.”

But as many in the U.S. fear for what kind of damage Trump might do domestically, he would have you believe that we should have no major problem with foreign policy. Hence:

 “I have had the best reviews on foreign land. So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president.”

Oh well, we still have Kazakhstan.

Perhaps the strangest part of Trump in Europe, and with his foreign relations in general is his “handiwork.” It seems that our current president has some sort of hand fetish. His latest hand job was with the French President Emmanuel Macron. Here is the breakdown on the marathon shake from CNN’s Chris Cizzilla.

Apparently Trump has found himself a bro in Macron:

“He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand.”

What more could the leader of the free world need?


Trump the ungrateful pr**k

What if there was a Donald Trump rally and no media came?

My definition of insanity is the way Trump has treated media during his campaign. His remarks of how the media is “disgusting” liars spur some of his more crazed groupies onto threatening and even assaulting some of the reporters and other media at his rallies.

The GOP candidate at a press conference. What he does with that finger has his staff worried.
The GOP candidate at a press conference. What he does with that finger has his staff worried.

Trump has lately driven the insane idea that the media and establishment are combining to rig the election in favor of the Democrats and their candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The polls showing Trump losing are also a major target of scorn.

I have said this and I will say it again. I covered President George W. Bush throughout his political career. I’m not saying this was a full-time gig. Thank heavens that was not the case. I did interview him one-on-one while he was stumping for his father, President George. H. W. Bush, during the older’s losing campaign against Bill Clinton. I also attended various events during his terms as governor of Texas as well as president. The latter included press events at the Crawford ranch and at Fort Hood. All of this I say to make the point that I saw Gee Dubya go from a pretty affable guy to a thin-skinned politician. But against Donald Trump, there is no contest as to who is most sensitive to criticism or ridicule.

Trump, one must admit, is a master manipulator. He beat more than a dozen candidates including Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz in the primaries. Trump did this calling in to TV and radio programs, being everywhere and holding massive rallies. No worries about finding donors, Trump said. It’s all on him — and the free media exposure, of course.

But things changed after the political conventions and since Trump has been locked in a mostly losing battle for U.S. president with Hillary Clinton.

Recently, the signs are fairly ominous for The Donald as his campaign has faltered and he has been stuck in a contest for whose past is more toxic to voters. Hillary has her problems, the e-mail controversy, Benghazi and Wiki Leaks. The latter has mostly captured e-mails from a Clinton and Democratic campaign that is rather ugly. Still, she hasn’t made any comments that she favors sexually assaulting other men or women. Thank God for small favors!

So Trump goes on and on complaining about a media that made him what he is today. That is, a Republican candidate for president, albeit an apparently failing one. I have been continually wrong about his prospects. But barring some bombshell that Hillary shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, it appears she will be elected president two weeks from today.

From what stunts Trump has pulled to screw over reporters, calling supposed press conferences that were really infomercials for his company, I would really love the media, at least once, to boycott the rest of his campaign rallies. He hates the media so much, so what will be an outcome would be without them? That won’t happen. There are just too many greedy shits who get filthy rich in media conglomerates. The guys and gals who do what I did, though at a much different level, are the ones who suffer through all the crap at rallies from an ungrateful candidate.

I never thought I would say this, but I truly hope HRC wins. I just think Donald Trump is too dangerous to elect. I also hope her win is a landslide with at least the U.S. Senate being back in Democratic hands. A Dem majority in the House would be a real Christmas gift. Although, I don’t see that happening.

In two weeks we shall see what we shall see. I don’t really expect him to concede defeat but hopefully HRC’s totals will be sufficient to ensure Trump will finally be exposed for what he has long been — a loser.

Listening to “sports” with Fred and A.J. in Houston. Happy Labor Day.

It is Labor Day and it has been a slow day for me. But that is good. I decided to mute the TV and the madness that, in all reality, surrounds what is the real presidential race. There is plenty time for me to comment, or vent, about that contest.

Instead, I am listening to “The Blitz,” with Fred Faour and A.J. Hoffman on Houston’s ESPN 97.5. I think it is hands down the best sports show in Southeast Texas. Of course, these radio rangers have plenty to talk about with all the football kicking off in this football heavy state. Right now, Fred and A.J. are talking to producer Jong Lee are talking about his upchucking after four beers after the University of Houston win over No. 3 Oklahoma in NRG Stadium. Hey, these guys keep it real.

Oh well. That’s all I want to talk about today. If you like sports and degenerates, and live in the Houston/Beaumont area, tune in to Fred and A.J. Oh, if you call and they ask you what’s up, answer “Sports.”

Paywall? We don’t need no stinkin’ paywall!

It seems that media corporations are constantly shifting income streams, or at the very least, what could be income streams. I speak, particularly, of newspapers online.

I can’t remember which site is behind a paywall and which is not. I just signed up for an introductory offer from The New York Times. No, I’m not being haughty. I am just acknowledging the newspaper’s place in the media food chain. I can handle $8 a month for a year, at least. Who knows, maybe by the end of the year the paywall might be gone.

Some of my favorite newspapers, including those I have freelanced for, now block me by a wall. I suppose if I freelanced for those papers again, they might just send me background stories for free.

Other papers, including those for whom I was employed, would most likely send me a hard copy. Reporters or editors are not usually sticklers for their paper’s paywall. That is, at least a story or two they would email me.

Yes, it is THAT Washington Post March. Do you have a problem with the MARINE CORPS band playing it? That's what I thought.
Yes, it is THAT Washington Post March. Do you have a problem with the MARINE CORPS band playing it? That’s what I thought.

I usually begin the day reading Google News, that great aggregator of various newspapers, magazines and blogs. The other, or another, great American newspaper — famous Marine Corps bandleader John Phillip Sousa wrote a stirring march at the behest of the paper — The Washington Post also limits my viewing. They didn’t for several years. I can read Post articles at work, on my work computer, but some folks have to actually work at work.

I am very glad that most of the articles I read on Google News, even the Post articles that are posted on Google  News sometimes, let me read the entire story without having to pay like some toll road with hidden signs.

No doubt, newspapers large and small, need to make money. And probably reversing the normal path for newspaper leadership, was my first newspaper job. It was a small weekly where I was editor, writer, photographer, janitor and boss to an assistant. I was also, I suppose one might say, a de facto publisher, or at least “associate publisher.” That means I not only had to fill up usual eight pages, I likewise was — although no mandate was mentioned — had to think about the bottom line. The publisher’s step-daughter became my advertising rep and she was spectacular. She and I would collaborate on ways we could raise a little money here and there. I suppose the testament given to me about the job I had done, presented by my publisher/boss upon my leaving, paid me the ultimate compliment.

It was funny. I went to talk to my boss — a newspaper guy who started out selling newspapers on the street as a boy — with the intention to give him my two-weeks notice. Before I could even begin taking about a new job as a reporter at a small daily, the publisher spoke about the good job I did and asked me if I wanted the job as editor of a larger newspaper. I don’t remember if it was weekly or twice-weekly.

“We made a profit for the first time with you working there,” said my boss.

I ended up resigning but I came away feeling really good about my first two and a half years in newspapers.

There must be a way for the whole story where users read stories without paywalls in the way. I don’t like all the pop-up ads on websites. I hate with a passion those sites that come at you in a multi-media assault. Those video ads dig into the data usage I have to monitor on my Verizon account. But a newspaper has to make a profit and has to figure out how to fit into this digital world.

We have gone so far from my first uses of the internet some 20 years ago when I could only see text products. I don’t know how, but surely — and don’t call my Shirley — where there is a will there is a way with free internet contact. How to get there is the big question.