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February 8th, 2016
02:37 pm


So another near-year has passed without a peep from yours truly on this hoary blog.  As always, I've been sorely tempted to spout off, but as is my usual m.o., I declined to do so, except to myself, and at the television, for a long stretch of time.  A large part of my reticence stems from a desire to not try anyone's patience with wind-baggy pontification and the like.  But today, inspired by a poem about the Presidential race my Dad just wrote and emailed to me, I decided to break radio silence.  The light went on and I thought, hey, I'll get my two cents in on some topics, not in full-blown poetry form, but via limericks that convey my opinions in quick bursts for busy people in a fast-paced world.

As for the title of this piece, you may know of my fondness for numbers and history and my random thought/trivia-infused brain...well, the title springs from Ted Williams, the last Major League Baseball player to hit .400 or better for an entire season.  Williams started the last day of the 1941 season with a batting average of .39955.  He could have sat out the Boston Red Sox's final doubleheader against Philadelphia and, thanks to rounding, finished the year at .400.  Instead, Williams played that September afternoon and got six hits in eight at-bats to bring his average up to .406...he had a good day.  I sat down a couple of hours ago here today on the 8th, and knocked out six ditties...I had a good day.  One last note, one of the lanky Williams' nicknames was The Splendid Splinter, which I think is an apt metaphor for my take on things....it may be sharp, and get under your skin, but it can be splendid and feels so good once you've worked it out.

Cursed by an ego named Trump,
Atop the GOP clump.

He boasts and he brags, he roasts and he slags,

Who’ll slap this huge horse’s rump?

There once was a man Bernie Sanders,
As honest and clean as Ned Flanders.
Applying the “bern” when it’s Hillary’s “turn”,
How dare he voice dreams while she panders?

There once was a hopeful named Hillary,
Whose foes her old husband did pillory.

He sneered and he scowled, he whined and he howled,
More petulant Clinton artillery.


The NFL’s premier attraction,
An overlong TV distraction.
A marketing curtain, behind which is certain,
Lie scramble-brained heroes in traction.

Phone apps and Facebook and Twitter,
These make me cranky and bitter.
My spurns and my pouts, my vows to stay out,
Brand me a fossilized quitter.

There still reigns a Prez named Barack,
Through seven long years of attack.
It’s been a tough slog, just check out my blog,
But his grace and class never lack.

--the nag

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February 19th, 2015
11:57 am


Al Pacino, The Godfather Part II

I put together another post or two's worth of words re: ISIS in responding to comments on the previous post below, "LET'S BE CAREFUL, HERE, PEOPLE."  I hope you get a chance to persue them, but in any case I thought at least one notion was worth highlighting and expanding upon here, on its own terms.

To wit: ISIS is taking a page out of "The Godfather" with its atrocities.  Specifically, the death of Sonny Corleone (James Caan in the movie).  Sonny's enemies used Sonny's brother-in-law, Carlo, to lure Sonny into the tollbooth trap that cost the eldest Corleone son his life.  Domestic abuser Carlo, previously roughed up by an angry Sonny and warned not to lay another finger on wife Connie, beats her up yet again, and savagely.  The enraged Sonny hops in his car in search of vengeance/justice, only to drive right smack into the set-up that ends his life in a hail of machine-gun bullets.

Judging by its continued barbaric actions, ISIS wants to goad the whole world into a rage and a war.  It's not just British or American beheadings any more, it's other Muslims from Arab countries being killed in hideous, provocative ways.  And while it really helps the (American/civilized) cause that the Jordans and the Egypts of the world are now enraged enough to step up and fight, it still behooves the U.S. and the West to resist the temptation to do the same, at least not in a splashy, "American Mission-to-be-Accomplished" way.

More Muslims fighting against ISIS means fewer Muslims fighting with ISIS.  Not because it's a zero-sum equation, but because the bar of resistance to joining the anti-ISIS fight is lowered by not putting the battle on Western-Eastern, Christian-Muslim terms.  That makes for a more robust coalition featuring more invested local countries, and heightens the chances for fixing things in a way that will stick.

America doesn't need vengeance or the glory here.  America, and the world, needs ISIS squelched.  I'm telling you, Obama's on the right track.  Corleone-wise, Obama's much more Michael than Sonny, and that's a good thing.  We need a smart guy in charge, not a hothead.

--the nag

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February 17th, 2015
11:06 am


It's never a good idea to draw too big of a conclusion from a single poll.  Nonetheless, this week's CNN/ORC survey -- showing Americans are increasingly unhappy with President Obama's handling of the fight against ISIS and increasingly ready to commit  ground troops to it -- is worrisome to me and I want to sound an alarm: LET'S BE VERY CAREFUL HERE, PEOPLE.

In light of recent developments more Americans sense, if the new poll is to be believed, that the U.S. needs to do more, RIGHT NOW, but that's the same worried, maybe even panicked feeling that set in motion the 2003 Iraq Invasion.  The invasion that laid the foundation and set the stage for the current ISIS crisis.

But we can't allow ourselves to be goaded into a full-blown, U.S. ground-troops-in-the-mix war with ISIS.  This is a recipe for disaster, because it is exactly what ISIS wants to see happen.  It would be an ISIS recruitment bonanza that would dramatically swell the ranks of the crazies and the deadlies joining up with the black flag crowd, and make a long fight even longer and bloodier. Also, too often, when the U.S. stands up, especially in a loud and macho way, too many other countries stand back, or stand down, either out of fear of being seen as too close to the Great Satan, or because they're happy to see U.S. blood and treasure on the line rather than their own.  And we certainly don't want to wind up "owning" more problems like Iraq, where we're already on the military hook, and Afghanistan, which we've been struggling to "give back".  Let's shoot for "co-owners" of places like Syria and Libya -- co-owners with the rest of the rational, civilized world -- because the sole proprietorship thing hasn't worked out very well for us over there.

Our best bet is to let other nations step up, as they are doing, so that signing up for ISIS means fighting Moslems and Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, not just Christian Infidels from America. ISIS conveniently is helping in that regard with some of its recent atrocities. Let's not play into ISIS's hands by placing a screaming, bold new Western, "Made in America" label on this fight right now-- let's agree that the participation of the rest of the region and the world (Hello-- Europe?) is made easier by quiet U.S. leadership, not macho political posturing and Jingoism. And the participation of other countries is necessary as long as America doesn't give the fight a catchy "Operation Something" name and pound the sands with untold thousands of pairs of G.I. boots.

It might be tempting to bash the President for "not doing enough" and to urge your representatives to have the U.S. do more, NOW, but it would be wrong.  ISIS is PRAYING we send the cavalry over there, and soon.  Don't feed the animals.  LET'S BE VERY CAREFUL HERE, PEOPLE.

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February 15th, 2015
04:06 pm


I don't Facebook or Tweet, I gave up trying to save or at least improve Yahoo News Comments in the face of armies of paid and unpaid racists/bigots/haters/cretins, I stopped trying to weigh in on all the flaps of the day via the nag.  And that has made all the difference.  It's nice not having to worry about what's going to come back your way after you've sent something pointed out into the electronic mists. Life's too short for that stressful noise.  And so many of the issues in this blessed country that one wrings one's hands over or weighs in on are in the end rather trivial and small in the grand scheme of things and life.  So I guess I can't be counted on for my two cents, unless you're within earshot.  But I will try to chime in on a more regular basis here and there to maybe try to lighten the mood or big-picture things.   I can't believe I'm going to quote America lyrics, and I feel like I've been here before, but they do seem a propos as far as summing up and offering a feeble apology. I've been one poor correspondent/I've been too too hard to find/But it doesn't mean you ain't been on my my mind. D'oh. Carry on.   --the nag

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02:10 pm


"It's probably a really good time for everybody to come up with neat things to do indoors and right around your house." --Snow-pelted Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker

I can only imagine how my snow-trapped family and friends in and around Boston and elsewhere in Massachusetts and New England feel right now, suffering through maybe the worst winter EV-uh, but I bet the governor's "neat things" comment was met with a raspberry or two for its blinding glimpse of the depressing obvious injected with a Barney-like (the dinosaur, not Frank) vibe. Anyway, watching Super Bowl LXIX again is a sure-fire way to raise local spirits.  And maybe a movie or a TV show, and a laahff, would help as well.  Hang in there, people!


The Undeparted
Massive shipments of snow brought in by a local Crime Boss (over-loosely-based on James "Whiteout" Bulger) wreak havoc on Boston and leave would-be travelers strung out, and stranded, at Logan AIrport.

Good Luck Finding
A math genius Cambridge janitor tries to calculate just where his car might be buried under the nearly two Smoots of snow blanketing MIT.

No Stop at Wonderland
A just-dumped night nurse's attempts at finding fresh romance are stymied by tons of just-dumped fresh snow that shut down the T and makes travel (and dating) darn-near impossible.

Missing River
Based on the Dennis Lehane novel Mystic River, yet another Clint Eastwood downer movie chock-full of depressing stuff that makes you question your will to live, but with a surprisingly light-hearted twist at the end: [SPOILER ALERT] after killing Dave, Jimmy plans on dumping the body in the Mystic River but can't locate it (or even its namesake bridge) because of the wicked high snowdrifts. The result is Weekend at Bernie's-type hilarity.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle
The  heart-warming tale of an aging, snowed-in mob gun-runner whose faith in humanity is restored several times over when his friends pitch in to clear and re-clear his sidewalk, driveway, and car after their South Boston neighborhood is hit by a freakish, rapid-fire series of winter storms.


The Sweep Life of Zack and Cody
Tasked with keeping the Tipton Hotel sidewalk cleared as part of their rent-paying chores, the broom-wielding Sprouse twins are delighted to find that the never-ending snow hitting Boston is surprisingly light and powdery, so there's no need to break out the shovels as long as they start sweeping early-- and never stop.

Ally McBuried
Quirky, sexy legal comedy about a young attorney at the fictional Boston firm Caved & Flush who has trouble finding her briefs under the seven feet of snow Mother Nature dropped in her lap.

Boston Uncommon
A protective older brother tries to convince his college-student sister that she should stay as white as the ungodly amounts of driven snow piled high around her Beantown campus, but in the end she decides there's such a thing as too much of a good thing, and plowing's the only answer.

St. Everywhere
Ensemble drama set in a Boston teaching hospital that is suddenly buried head-high in depression-ridden patients despairing of ever seeing the ground again.

Cheer Up
While Sam and most of the gang bemoan the fact that record amounts of snowfall and wind-driven snowdrifts have left them marooned and unable to leave Cheers, Norm points out that things could be a lot worse: they could be stuck on the outside, unable to get inside the bar where everyone knows your name and where the beer is.

--The Nag

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October 20th, 2014
11:04 am


People, specifically the American people, are pretty freaked out right now because of what they see as a world, a country, a society, a culture, everything-- spinning out of control, with no good end in sight.

Maybe it’s informational overload, maybe it’s the day-in-day-out drumbeat of doom from Fox News Channel and Right-Wing Talk Radio, maybe it’s just living in a rolling, historical moment of multiple changing landscapes and sea changes – or maybe it’s all Barack Hussein Obama’s fault.

I’m here to say: the sky is not falling, the world will go on, we shall survive, and seriously, we all need to calm down, get a grip, and get off Obama’s case.  The hysteria sweeping across large swaths of the United States and simmering in others, largely fueled by Obama Hate, is unwarranted.  In fact, the only thing that really would lead to all hell breaking loose in the U.S. is, God forbid, if something happened to Obama.  Jeering and slagging the guy as inept, idiotic, evil, and illegitimate might make Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity rich, and you feel good, but remember, not everyone who hates Obama with a passion is as rational or law-abiding as Rush, Sean, or yourself.  Be careful about feeding the animals.   And consider:

Do you remember the gas crisis and shortage of the mid-1970’s?  Or the late 1970’s, when mortgage rates went into the high teens?  Are we suffering like that in those days?  No.  A gallon of gas and mortgage rates are both in the low threes.

Remember the 1980’s?  When the Japanese were cleaning our clock as far as cars, electronics, and productivity were concerned?  Who’s cleaning our clock today?  No one. China? They wish.

Remember when the 1990’s gave way to the 2000’s and your 401K became a 201K?  Has your 401K taken a dive since Obama took office and the Stock Market went from 8K to 16K? No.

Remember when fears of too much national debt and the weakening U.S. led to a panic that resulted in gold hitting $2,000 an ounce, and fears of it going to $3,000?  Can’t even make it to $1,300 these days.  And that’s in those diluted-by-debt dollars.

And about all that debt -- $17 trillion and counting – the markets and our debt holders don’t seem too concerned, seeing as the 10-year Treasury Yield is at 2.2% or so today.
Everyone’s getting government assistance in Obama’s “entitlement society”?  Check how many million of those “moochers” are working poor Americans who qualify for SNAP or CHIP because no one will help Obama get the minimum wage up to some barely-liveable level.  In the meantime, all that assistance to the alleged “takers” fuels more jobs in grocery stores and health care and the like for the “makers”, and profits for the business owners.

In a related note, consider your child, or niece or nephew, or grandchild, or yourself, who can’t find a good job in his or her field, despite having an education, because corporations and businesses don’t want to pay U.S. professional wages, or will only do so on a contract/no benefits basis.  Do you think all “those people” at the bottom getting an education will solve things, seeing how you and yours aren’t getting to where you want to be now, without the added competition?

What about National Security? ISIS is coming! No it’s not.  Not here.  Maybe a lone wolf, sure, but the best way to increase the odds of a lone wolf attack is to increase the number of lone wolf candidates, and the best way to do that is for Obama and the U.S. to “lead from the front”, put more U.S. “boots on the ground” in Iraq, and Syria, etc., and otherwise act all macho and obnoxious and deadly.  Which got us into this mess in the first place, starting with 2003's "Shock and Awe".  No, going slow and doing the bare U.S. minimum while pushing the Middle Eastern locals to handle as much of their own business as possible is the sanest and safest course for the region and U.S. security.

Worried about Ebola?  Go get your flu shot.  That has a much better chance of infecting or even killing you or a loved one.  Ban travel from West Africa?  To where?  Europe, since there aren’t really any direct flights from West Africa to the U.S.?  How?  Checking visas in Rome, or Brussels, or Paris?  Are we then going to quarantine every non-African on every plane from Europe that started in West Africa when someone has the sniffles or gets airsick?  Where does it end and what would it cost?  Face it: the travel ban is a simple-minded solution for simple-minded people.  Which may explain why the GOP thinks it’s a political winner. (I'm not saying Republican politicians are simpled-minded; I'm saying they think you're simple-minded, and open to being easily frightened and then pandered to.)

We have had three Ebola cases here in the U.S.  Three.  And we have a hospital in Texas to thank for even having that many.  Obama’s on the right track telling us all to chill out, and in sending more medical and military assistance to West Africa so that, you know, like Dick Cheney used to say about starting Middle Eastern wars to fight terrorism, we fight Ebola over there, so we don’t have to fight it over here.

I could go on for a lot longer.  But you get the idea.  FDR said in 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself.  That pretty much holds true today.  I would add this: the only thing we have to fear from Obama is Obama fear itself. What we have to fear from a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, well, we may find out soon enough.
Careful what you wish and vote for, people.  In the meantime, please try to stay calm, and uninfuriated, as best you can.  The sky isn't falling, no matter what you're hearing or fearing.

--the nag

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October 1st, 2014
05:32 pm


Well That Only Took Four Hours
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson stepping down is a start.  A big start.  Now let's see some more heads rolling...like those of the supervisor who "mistook" gunfire for car backfire in 2011 and the advance team morons who failed to vet the Mandela Memorial crazed, fake interpreter or the armed felon in the CDC elevator, as well as those responsible for the White House fence jumper/runner two weeks ago.  And give a bonus to the off-the-clock SS agent who tackled the runner on his way to Miller time.  Good catch!

Let's give this President the protection and the respect he needs and deserves, his family as well.  Maybe more of the latter will lead to more of the former-- eh, Secret Service? Don't take your cues from Rush or Sean, leave any Southern "good ole boy"/anti-Liberal/Fox News views at home.  This ain't no foolin' around.  Do your F---ing jobs right, or get the F--- out.

--the nag

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08:18 am


FIRE HER:     HIRE HIM: http://media4.s-nbcnews.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Video/130417/tdy_boston_atf_130417.video-260x195.jpg

I watched C-SPAN's late-night replay of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson's Tuesday appearance before the House Government Oversight Committee, and I was appalled.  The President of the United States and his family are not safe as long as the Secret Service doesn't change its sorry act, and Pierson clearly is not the director to effect that change.  I saw a soul-less bureaucrat exhibiting thinly-veiled hostility to being questioned and seeming indifference to the recent horror show of security lapses surrounding the President.  This is a nightmare -- the President needs to clean house at the Secret Service, starting with Pierson.

Strike One: the deranged fake interpreter next to Obama at Nelson Mandela's Memorial Service last December.
Strike Two: the armed felon in the elevator with Obama at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta on Sept. 16th.
Strike Three: the fence jumper who made it not just into the door, as the Secret Service claimed, but deep into the White House, on Sept. 19th.

All three occurred on Pierson's watch.  The several shots that hit the White House in 2011 were before her time, but she did her bureacratic best Tuesday to defend the Secret Service's indefensible response or lack thereof to that potentially tragic event.

New blood and new thinking are needed ASAP at the Secret Service.  And my recommendation for a new SS director is Jim Cavanaugh, former ATF agent and current MSNBC-TV analyst.  I love this guy -- he's my favorite law enforcement dude.  He's got the experience and the smarts to bring an intelligent, common-sense approach to the table.  He'll cut through the B.S. and right the ship.

White House phone: 1-202-456-1111

--the nag

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12:14 am




Thus ends another day/month of doing what I can...here are the 9/30/14 highlights:

Ferguson demands high fees to turn over city files

NormanG 15 minutes ago

The Ferguson PD hid the shooter and his identity, and still hasn't come up with a police report, and now the City is breaking Missouri law charging ridiculous fees in an apparent effort to hide public records. The only thing that wasn't hidden was Michael Brown's dead body, which lay in the street for hours. It's infuriating and an embarrassment. Much like the slew of ignorant, hateful, racist posts found in Yahoo any time "Ferguson" shows up in a headline.

FCC considers petition to ban 'Redskins'

NormanG 5 hours ago

The entertainment value of this is PRICELESS! It's a scream how offended so many people are by the idea anyone could be offended by the slur 'redskin'. The energy and anger so many posters put into defending the NFL team name and bashing everyone who doesn't see it their way is amazing. If any of the 'get over it' crowd has more than three books at home (phone, TV Guide, Bible), e.g. a dictionary, look up 'redskin'. Find us a complimentary definition. Good luck!

3 Times Obama Administration Was Warned About ISIS Threat

NormanG 8 hours ago

I'd like to know: if Americans are supposed to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and not look to "Uncle Sugar" for help, then why is it Uncle Sam's job to step in to protect Syrians and Iraqis? Why can't these citizens and their well-equipped governments take care of themselves by stopping ISIS? ISIS kills with arms we paid for and delivered there; our bombs kill civilians, creating more ISIS fans, which IS a threat to us over time. It's MADNESS.

--the nag

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September 30th, 2014
02:02 am


    words. On election night, Mitt Romney remained stoic, Ann Romney ...

The dearth of nag posts over the past few years led one inquiring mind to query me as to whether I remained thankful in September 2014 that Brainy Barack Obama and Joltin' Joe Biden pounded Millionaire Mitt Romney and Posin' Paul Ryan in November 2012.

My response (short version: Yes) led the correspondent to pepper me with a raft of additional questions in the form of charges, the tone and nature of which Fox News would be proud, and the answers to which fill in a lot of gaps about what the nag's been thinking about Obama and the state of things during his quiet time.  The nag's quiet time, of course.  It's been anything but quiet for the grown-up in the White House.

You can read the lively exchange
here if you like.

--the nag

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