Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Democratic Socialist Revolution Has Begun - Maybe

October 14th, 2015

My Dear America:

Last night was the First Televised Debate featuring the Five declared Candidates hoping to be selected as the Nominee of the Democratic Party for President in 2016.  Although it was far from a Love Fest, It was a far cry from the two previously broadcast Human Demolition Derbys featuring Trumpzilla and the Seventeen Republican Dwarf Candidates.  The brutal Republican slugfests were in stark contrast to last night's rather sedate and respectful presentation of Democratic Candidates.  most of what could be said  about last night's debate has been said, all day yesterday and most of last night following the debate on CNN.  

What last night's debate showed was the fact that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are great debaters and great candidates for the presidential nod by the Democrats.  Both explained themselves and their positions very well. When the issue of Hillary's E Mails came up Bernie took the unusual political step of stating that the American people have heard "Enough about the Damn E Mails" and in so doing turned the attention back to the important issues that needed to be dealt with in America and around the world.  Hillary and Bernie made me proud to be a Democrat last night.

Although Anderson Cooper and the CNN team did a good job of coordinating the debate and asking relevant questions, clearly Hillary and Bernie, whether they tried to or not, hogged the spotlight.  

Although that was the case, the three other Democrats in the debate did get their chances to introduce themselves to America.  Although Martin O'Malley had appeared on television from time to time in recent months both Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb had been given very little attention by the American media. Although Martin O'Malley did manage to get a word in edgewise now and then in last night's debate, both Chaffee and Webb seemed to have little time to have their say. Webb complained about it but was chastised by Anderson Cooper.  I have to admit that Webb did have a right to complain and so did Chaffee.  

The truth is that Webb and Chaffee did get some time to explain who they were and why they were in the race and what they stood for but I would be surprised if either Webb or Chaffee improved their poll numbers by much. O'Malley, who had been mentioned in previous Presidential Elections as a possible Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate seemed to show in last nights debate that he could still be a very accomplished Vice President.  It is doubtful, however, that O'Malley can really break out as a serious candidate to challenge Sanders or Clinton for the official Democratic Presidential Nod.

Many of the talking heads last night stated that Joe Biden might have been the "Big Loser" in last nights debate.  That may be true but if Joe B. wants to run I think there will be plenty of room on the stage in future debates once Chaffee, Webb and O'Malley realize that Their dreams of Presidential Glory are unlikely to come true, at least this time around.

Hillary and Bernie, however, seem to be here to stay on the debate stage in the near future.  They belong there and Bernie's ongoing reference to a "Revolution" in the making seems to have made his candidacy one that needs to be taken seriously  and one which has already shaken up the Process in the Democratic Party.  Bernie's Populist Message regarding the virtual disappearance of the Middle Class in America and the need to restore it certainly resonates with Democrats and most likely will resonate with many Americans in Both Parties.

Bernie Sanders is a leader and has proved his worth so far in early polling. When he states that The Revolution has begun, he knows what he is talking about because he is leading this Exciting New American Revolution. 

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher

Monday, October 12, 2015

Why Joe Biden Shouldn't Run - Yet

October 12th, 2015

My Dear America:

I Know.  I Know.

You haven't heard from me for a long time.  Sorry about that, but I have had a bunch of things going and it has gotten a bit harder to find time to Blog, although I confess that I miss it.

Certainly, although a lot has gone on in the Presidential Campaigns in recent months, it is, of course, really still at the beginning of the Presidential Race.

Today we are one day away from the First Televised Debate featuring the announced Democratic Party Presidential Contenders.  

Those Contenders so far include Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee.

Presently at the head of the pack Hillary Clinton still seems to be the likely Democratic Party choice, although Bernie Sanders certainly at this stage of the game seems to be giving Hillary more than a run for her money.  In poll after poll recently his numbers have been increasing to the point where he is beating Hillary in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as elsewhere.

Right now in Las Vegas as CNN, the sponsor and broadcaster of tomorrow's Democratic Debate, has set up 5 podiums and has announced the setting of tomorrows debate participants.  Although the five mentioned debaters have confirmed their agreement to participate in tomorrows debate , CNN has also confirmed that they have agreed that even if he decides to participate in the debate at the last minute, that Vice President Joe Biden would be included in the debate.  An extra podium is just offstage in the event that Joe B. decides to participate in tomorrows debate.

Speculation about Joe Biden running for President has been raging for months. He has talked to friends and his family members about it and, in fact, his son,Beau, on his dying bed advised Joe to run.  Other Democrats have urged him to run also.

In my opinion Joe should not participate in tomorrow's debate although his last minute participation would certainly make the debate more interesting.

I feel, however, that if Joe runs for President that there will be no advantage to him to announce now and debate now.  Certainly Biden is an excellent debater, as he has proved many times over the years and he would add much to tomorrow's debate.  If he does run for President, however, I think he has more to gain by taking his time getting into the race.

Although the chaos in the Republican Party thus far and the BS about Hillary Clinton's E Mails makes it feel as though the Presidential Campaign is almost over, the truth is that it has really just begun and has a long way to go.  Joe B. jumping into the race right now will only give Republicans a longer to time to go after him and try to tear him apart.

Although certainly Joe B.'s tendency to say what he thinks has gotten him in trouble in the past, in the Era of Donald Trump, Joe's honesty might be considered more of an asset than a liability by the voters.  Certainly, Barack Obama has shown his appreciation for Joe's political capabilities over the course of the Obama Administration.  Whether Obama would outright support Joe for the Democratic Nomination for President remains to be seen. 

Joe Biden was, after all the person who early on in the debate about Iraq suggested that Iraq be partitioned into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish portions.  If we had followed Joe's advice perhaps we would all be better off now. Certainly Iraq would be better off.

During the insanity that led to the government Shutting down it was, in the end, Joe Biden and his friendly relationships with Republican leaders that led to reasonable people in the Congress coming to their senses and ending the stupidity of shutting down the United States Government.

Joe Biden is a decent man and a truly talented politician.  He would make a Great President, just as he has made a Great Vice President.

In my opinion Joe should run, but not this early.  Let the Republicans finish each other off in the coming months and Let things play out in Democratic Politics , as well.  

Certainly Joe Biden takes a chance if he waits to get in the race.  He is, however, in double digits in the polls even without being officially in the race. Joe is already a Contender in the race.  In my opinion, Joe should continue to do his job as well as he can and avoid being tarnished by the Republicans as a Politician first and a Vice President Second.

In my opinion Joe Biden should save his money, do his job and watch how things play out in both the Republican and Democratic Parties.  Joe will be welcome to join the election process whenever he chooses to do it and will be able to raise money and meet the competition with all the vigor he has.  I am sure that his dying son's request that he should run is with him every day and in time will cause him to make the right choice.  

I personally hope Joe Joins the race.  I am not sure at this point whether I will vote for him but I certainly think that his long and distinguished career in politics and especially his performance as Vice President will guarantee him a podium on a debate stage at some point in the future.

Whether or not he runs or doesn't run and whether or not I will vote for him, I, as a proud Democrat will always love that other proud Coal Cracker from my Home Town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Joe Biden.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher       

Friday, August 7, 2015

Farewell To Jon Stewart and His Secret Wisdom Of Bullshit

Friday, August 7th, 2015

My Dear America:

Last Night was the end of One Era and the beginning of another New and More Terrifying Era.  Jon Stewart appeared on his last Daily Show and all 17 Republican Candidates for President appeared at their First Debates on Fox News.

Jon Stewarts last show featured a gathering of nearly all of the Daily Show "Correspondents" who had worked with Stewart over the 16 year course of the Daily Show.  Many of those "Correspondents" went on to better things, Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman on CBS,  John Oliver now has a weekly Fake News Show of his own on HBO, Michael Che is now a regular Fake News Anchor on Saturday Night Live.  Also Steve Carrell, Ed Helms, Rob Cordry, Rob Riggle and others have gone into acting in movies and on Television.  The skits that the returning "Correspondents" appeared in were entertaining and a fit tribute to Stewart's leadership over many years.

Probably the best and most entertaining, as well as surprising part of the show was at the end when the "moment of Zen" turned out to be Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing while Stewart and everyone in the studio came up and danced to the music being played by "The Boss."

Probably the most enduring part of the evening was when Jon Stewart did what he had done so many times before and addressed "Camera 3" and lectured brilliantly on how to spot "Bullshit."

Prior to the airing of Stewart's show my wife and I had watched several hours of "Bullshit" on Fox News as Fox initiated their two tiered debate system.

The first Debate earlier in the evening had no audience and Bill and Margaret (Whoever the hell they are) as the interviewers.  With no audience, only two no names as interviewers and one no name ex Governor of Virginia, Jim Gilmore, there was very little excitement but with Rick Perry and Lindsay Graham on the stage there was certainly a lot of Bullshit, primarily aimed at Barack Obama. Commentators that I saw following the first debate said they were impressed on what  Rachel Maddow and others had called "The Kids Table Debate" by the performance of Carly Fiorini.  Personally, whatever spark they saw in Fiorini, I must have totallly missed.  What the hell were Fiorini and Santorum doing on that stage in the first place.  Fiorini has had the high honor of being very publicly fired from HP and Santorum has had the high honor of having his political ass kicked by Bob Casey in Pennsylvania during his last race for the Senate.  Lindsay Graham has made a career of whining and bitching about Barack Obama, usually as a desperate sidekick of John McCain.  Overall, "The Kid's Table Debate" was an embarasing display of Bullshit.

During the Second Fox News Debate with those who Fox News had determined were the real debaters there was a large and loud audience and three more well known Fox News Anchors, Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Bair and the ten "Annointed Ones." 

 For the most part the questions asked by the interviewers were appropriate and some were even questions that had been suggested on Facebook.

Actually all of the First String debaters did pretty well shooting the Bullshit.  One very interesting question was asked at the beginning of the debate and all of the debaters except Donald Trump pledged not to run an independent Candidacy if they weren't chosen as the Republican Party Nominee.  Trump honestly refused to make that pledge.

For the most part Trump was under control and the debate proceeded with everyone getting some air time to show their stuff.  Chris Christie and Rand Paul got into it about National Security and Rand Paul also gave Trump a shot for not taking the pledge not to run independently.  Mike Huckabee was sanctimonious. Ben Carson seemed like a heartless snake bragging about his surgical skills like a Megalamaniac.  Speaking of Megalamania, Trump showed his from time to time, but did not call any one of his debate mates a "loser" to their face all night.

Although nobody could be called a Winner in the second Fox Debate of the night, certainly Marco Rubio showed himself to be a contender worthy of his place on the stage.  Also John Kasich, Present Ohio Governor, the last Republican Candidate to enter the field and a former Fox News personality who barely squeaked into the 10th spot on the stage as a result of some questionable polling, proved also to be someone who seemed reasonable and intelligent with a background in the Congress and the Ohio Governor's Office, as well as Fox News.

While some intelligent conversations did arise during the 2nd debate the conversations regarding the nuclear deal with Iran and President Obama were disgustingly insulting and frightening to anyone who can recognize the truth about both of those subjects.  Clearly the A Team and the B Team are people who seem to believe their own lies that they have created with their Non Stop Bullshit.

Why did you have to leave us now, Jon Stewart, when we need you the most.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher

Thursday, August 6, 2015

TRUMPZILLA: The Monster Who Ate The Republican Party

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

My Dear America:

Well, Finally the day has come when we will find out tonight during the First Republican Debates of the 2016 Election whether or not Donald Trump will be able to maintain his Phenomenally Surging Popularity in The Republican Party's Race for the White House. 

The truth is that in the field of 17 Republican Candidates for President on the Republican side, it can truthfully be said that prior to Trump's Bombastic and Controversial entry into the Republican Presidential Candidate Field in early June, no real Republican Superstars had been emerging.  Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio's Campaign poll numbers were higher than most of their competitors but for the most part polls were not showing anyone in the Republican Race for President breaking out of the pack.

Then came Donald Trump's Announcement on June 3rd.  Anyone who was expecting a new and improved, contrite and humble Donald Trump to arrive on the scene were quickly disappointed.  Donald's announcement of his entry into the Republican Candidate Field was loaded with outrageous comments and behavior that many political commentators felt would lead in short order to Donald Trump's Candidacy for the Presidency to go down in flames.

Donald's commentary on Immigration was incendiary.  Trump stated that Mexico was  not sending us their best people and he identified many of those people Mexico was sending as "Rapists," a comment which immediately set off fireworks of all sorts.  

Trump's immigration commentary set off political bombs everywhere, as did his continuing bragging about himself.  Trump also set off political aftershocks by his identifying almost everyone in the Republican Party or on Fox News or any other Political Journalists who opposed anything he said, as "Losers."

One of his continuing barrage of self aggrandizing comments was about previous Republican Party Presidential Candidate, John McCain.  When asked in an interview about John McCain's status as a "War Hero" due to his many years of torture and incarceration by the North Vietnamese, Trump stated that he preferred War Heros who weren't captured.

Clearly Donald Trump continual bragging about how rich he is and his seemingly endless obnoxious commentary about President Obama, Hillary Clinton and nearly every other 2016 Candidate for President would have finished off most serious Candidates for President but The Teflon Donald seems to be, this afternoon, before the debate tonight what he has been since his announcement in June, which is The Front Runner.  

Will Donald Trump emerge from tonight's debate unscathed and still the Front Runner.  We will see what happens tonight.  

As Rachel Maddow is prone to saying, "Watch This Space."

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Last "Face The Nation" with Bob Scheiffer

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

My Dear America:

It seems to me as though we have been saying farewell to quite a few American Classics lately. 

This includes classic Television Series such as "Parenthood," "Justified" and "Mad Men". 

It also includes Classic Americans who have been Institutions themselves.  That would include David Letterman, who recently completed a 32 year stint in Late Night Television.  Letterman retired with honor and was able to gather together an Incredibly Impressive Guest List for his last Top Ten List on his Final Show.  Another Classic Entertainer, BB King also left us recently never to return except on the Radios or CD players of America.  (Please see the previous Letters To A Lost Nation Posting "BB King: The Thrill is really gone" on this website.)

One more Classic American Newsman retired from the Long Time CBS News Program Face The Nation this morning.  He will be personally missed by me and I am sure by countless numbers of Americans who woke up early on Sunday just to see Bob Schieffer in action.  Bob always had interesting and relevant guests and a panel of respected Newspeople with differing viewpoints on most subjects discussed on the program.

In fact Bob Schieffer was one of the last of his breed left at CBS.  His relevance in fact dated back to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War, where Schieffer, along with recently deceased, Bob Simon, as well as Morley Safer were Veteran on the ground Vietnam War Correspondents.  Bob did a lot for CBS including moderating Presidential Campaign Debates.  He was a veteran newsman who admitted that he was inspired to be a newsman by the example of Walter Cronkite, who Bob worked with for many years.  Word is that he turned down Cronkite's job when Walter left.  Regardless, Schieffer seemed to be more than satisfied to host Face the Nation for 23 years. 

Bob Schieffer was certainly a man who functioned well in the news business and kept Face the Nation relevant throughout his reign as the host. 

We News Junkies who shared Sundays with Bob for many years hope that he lives a long and happy life as he enters his retirement years.  He has served us well and we appreciate all he has done for CBS, in particular and for the News Business in general, in his long and illustrious career.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher

Friday, May 15, 2015

BB King: The Thrill is Really Gone

Friday, May 15th, 2015

My Dear America

Today, as the young but deadly surviving Boston Marathon Bomber learned that he received the Death Penalty, I find it hard to feel sorry for this young man who killed and maimed so many innocent people. 

What is on my mind today is another death, one that happened yesterday.  The death of Blues Legend BB King.  BB King was one of the most influential musicians of all time and his presence on this earth will truly be missed by many people and I am proud to say that I will be one of them. 

Riley King played the Blues for most of his long life.  He was 89 when he died yesterday.  He not only played with the best of them throughout his life.  He was always one of the best of them himself throughout his long life.  His music played on his beloved "Lucille" guitar will certainly live on as long as there is recorded music but for me the fact is that I know he was not only a Great Bluesman.  He was simply a Great man, Period.  I have a poster down in my basement which reminds me every time I look at it just what an incredible person BB King was.

I got the poster downstairs from Ed.  Ed was my friend and colleague at The Children's Home where we both worked.  Ed was one of the bravest and self controlled people who I ever worked with.  He was a big guy and his size served him well.  When a kid whose behavior was out of control Ed came to take control of the situation.  Most kids were smart enough to know that tangling with Ed was senseless.  Also Ed knew how to be soft spoken and talk a kid down avoiding violent confrontations.  On those few occasions when Ed had to use his strength he used only the amount of strength needed to restrain a youngster properly and never lost his temper with a kid.  Ed wasn't married and he put a great deal of his own money and time in with kids who needed what he had to give them, which was positive attention and real caring and concern.  Ed worked his way up from House Parent to Caseworker and then for some reason he lost his Caseworker position and returned to the Intensive Unit where he had worked effectively for so long.  Long Story short, Ed was a decent and dedicated worker at the Children's Home where we worked.  Ed didn't talk a lot to me but when we did talk we mostly talked about music.  Both Ed and I were blues music lovers.  We had that in common.  Whenever we talked about blues music Ed would bring up BB King.  Ed loved BB's music and talked about it all the time.  

I don't recall what year it was that BB came to town and played a concert at the State Theater in Easton, PA.  The concert was partially a fundraiser for a local charity and the Executive Director of that local charity receiving the funds was a friend of Ed's and invited Ed backstage to meet BB after the concert.  Ed's friend introduced Ed to BB backstage and from what Ed told me later when BB found out that Ed worked with youngsters he sat down alone with Ed for two hours asking Ed all about the Children's Home and getting to know Ed.  Ed was thrilled by the experience and got BB to sign the concert poster he had bought and hung it in his Caseworker office until he left that office and in a most gracious move Ed gave me the poster to put on my office wall.  Although I moved offices a couple of times before I left the Children's Home for good, the BB King poster always moved with me.  After Ed passed away and I was leaving the Children's Home for good I took the poster with me and hung it on my wall downstairs where it has remained and will continue to remain.

BB King played in my home area several times over the years and my wife and I always talked about going to see him but it was only a few months ago that we actually traveled to Penn's Peak in the Poconos to see BB in concert.  My wife and I were somewhat disappointed with the concert.  For nearly a half hour his band played without BB.  Then BB came out onstage with two gentlemen holding him up and helped him sit down on a chair.  BB played for a little over a half hour and then he was helped offstage by the two gentlemen and the concert was over.  During the time he played he clearly wasn't playing at the skill levels that he played in the old days.  Now at this sad time we realize, however, that BB even at his worst was one of the best and we appreciate so much the fact that he loved his fans so much that even when he must have been in agony he was out there on the stage giving what he had to give to his fans.

God Bless you, BB.  I know you'll be jamming in heaven tonight with your Blues Buddies who have gone on before you, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howlin Wolf and many more. 

You will be missed but I will forever be grateful for what you meant to Ed and I and my wife.  We love you and wish the best for your family left behind.  There will never be another BB King.  But there will always be BB King.  He will live for as long as Blues Music will continue and we will all be better for his being here for as long as we had him.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Book Review of "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA" by Tim Weiner

Monday, February 9th 2015

My Dear America:

It has been awhile since I wrote a legitimate Book Review.  I felt Hillary Clinton's last book deserved a review and I wrote one.  That was awhile ago and it was a relatively current review for a relatively new publication.  "Legacy of Ashes" is not a book that is newly published.  It was published in 2007 by Doubleday, an ancient and highly respected publishing house.  The book was written by Tim Weiner, a New York Times Writer who has written two other previous books on subjects connected to the Central Intelligence Agency.  The book is 516 pages long.  The page print is small. The book has an additional nearly 200 pages of notes and an Index.  

The primary reason that I read this book is because I saw it sitting on Rachel Maddow's Television Desk on a night that she was presenting a story about the CIA.  Since I have been writing fictional books on the CIA for a few years now and reading a lot about "The Agency" in an effort to make my fiction more relevant, I decided to check and see if my local library had the book.  They did.  I checked it out and following two renewals I finally finished reading "Legacy of Ashes".  

Although initially I had plans to write my review immediately after finishing the book, I found myself reluctant to try to write my review without some serious reflection on what I had read in Tim Weiner's history of the CIA.

Weiner has written a remarkable book that is loaded with well organized, well researched and well documented historical facts concerning the CIA.  In addition to combing the archives of the CIA and the Library of Congress and Presidential Libraries, Weiner seems to have talked with nearly every living Past Director of the CIA and countless other agency professionals.

The result is a book of history that reads like a Novel gliding the reader from decade to decade in an almost seamless manner as Mr. Weiner tells his story. The story that he tells about the history of this previously secret spy agency to which he seems to have opened the door to many of its secrets, is a deeply disturbing story, indeed.

Although the United States has always spent enormous sums of money keeping this highly secret agency afloat the reader learns pretty quickly and pretty consistently throughout this history that Americans have never seemed to get enough bang for their buck from the CIA.

Although the agency has often had very bright and high minded employees working for it, the history of CIA according to Mr. Weiner seems to indicate that over the years of CIA's prominence it has had far more intelligence failures than successes and, in fact, has in its history had almost no successes at all.

CIA and it's predecessor agency, The OSS, had almost no success at all in planting spies in Soviet Countries, in Red China or in North Korea.  Despite the fact that most of its thousands of potential spies dropped behind enemy lines disappeared without a trace the CIA kept dropping doomed agents seemingly without any concern for their welfare.

CIA's obsession with anti communism led to many assassinations all over the world and helped in many cases to topple legitimate governments that were thought to be pro communist.  These pro communist designations were often made by the CIA with poor or little or no actual evidence and more often than not left in place of the "pro communist" assassinated government leaders, many leaders who were often times more pro communist than those assassinated and far more dangerous, brutal and repressive than the leaders who CIA brutally replaced.  Some of those leaders who CIA helped to put into place were Saddam Hussein in Iraq, The Shah of Iran and Manuel Noriega in Panama, although there were many other brutal dictators who also came back to bite CIA and America in the rear end.

The spies who couldn't shoot straight, according to Tim Weiner, have seemingly maintained a continuing attitude of arrogance and disdain for controls over their agency by anyone, including Presidents or the Congress, as evidenced by the recent scandals involving brutal abuses of captured individuals from other countries, who in many cases don't even turn out to be spies.  This arrogant stupidity seems to have had a long tradition in the CIA and although CIA is supposedly not as powerful today as it once was, It still seems to continue its long standing tradition of not answering to anyone.

Over the past few years I have read a lot of Non-Fiction Books about the CIA on my pursuit of knowledge about this troubled American Spy Agency.  Many of these books were frightening but none of them were as frightening as "Legacy of Ashes".  In this book Mr. Weiner has gathered together some well organized and well documented information about the CIA that should scare the living daylights out of all Americans who have concerns about the history of the CIA.  The CIA is and always has been a dangerous, well funded and out of control agency which still does not seem to wish to have any controls put on it.

Many years ago back in the 70's I had the incredible opportunity of going to a lecture at Lehigh University in Behtlehem, PA where I listened to Author, Norman Mailer rail about the CIA and Watergate.  Mailer had been researching the CIA for a Novel called Harlot's Ghost, which he eventually wrote.  At a fraternity party that I attended after the lecture I got the opportunity to talk to Mailer and I asked him if he was serious about the idea he had promulgated during his lecture.  That Idea was to establish a "Peoples CIA" to keep tabs on the real Central Intelligence Agency.

Mailer assured me that his research had showed him that the CIA was extremely dangerous and needed to be reined in and watched closely by individuals outside of the agency.

Tim Weiner's research and writing seems to show that Norman Mailer was absolutely right in his mistrust of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher