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 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Can Brian Williams be Trusted: I Believe the Answer is Yes

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

My Dear America:

In our Great Land of The Free and Home of The Brave we seem to have lost our way in recent years when it comes to evaluating the Truth and Responsibilities and determining blame when it comes to Journalists and Journalism.

While many Americans continue to place implicit trust in notorious liars such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and countless other Fox News personalities, those same supposedly conservative Americans seem to fail to adhere to the spirit of fairness when it comes to the evaluation of NBC News Managing Editor and On Air Anchor of NBC's Nightly News Program, Brian Williams.

Now the truth of the matter is that there seem to be some serious holes in William's story of what happened in Iraq 12 years ago when he was on assignment for NBC covering the American Invasion of Iraq.  Williams claimed, and has so for years, that he was on a plane that received small arms fire and Rocket Propelled Grenade or RPG fire.  Although servicemen including pilots of the planes involved in the incident or incidents sometimes differ in their assessments of what happened and where Williams was when the incidents went down, they all seem to agree that Williams was in Iraq when there was serious fighting going on in the air and on the ground there.  

Brian Williams has already apologized for his "mistake' on the air earlier this week and has acknowledged that his remembrance of this incident or incidents that occurred or did not occur during his time in Iraq may have been faulty.  While in my opinion that should have been the end of this problem, it has not been the end but possibly just the beginning of the end of Brian William's long and dedicated career with NBC News.  Had Brian Williams not apologized I would also have found fault with him also. But he did apologize yet the Brian Williams Beatdown seems to continue to go on - To Where, Nobody knows.

The NBC News Division President has announced that an investigation is being initiated by NBC to get to the bottom of this situation.  That is probably a good thing and an appropriate move, in my opinion, unless it leads to the public execution of a fine NBC Journalist.  Back in the days of real TV Journalism this seemingly minor story would not have had "legs" and wouldn't have lasted this long.  There is, after all, real news to report on.  CNN and Fox News might try to keep that in mind as this Williams mess seems to have energized their baser instincts.

Certainly Williams might want to cooperate with some interviews with reasonable interviewers who might give him a chance to explain himself with the style and grace that he usually seems to try to show to others.  Perhaps Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Tavis Smiley, Anderson Cooper or even David Letterman might be good interviewee choices.  If he is given a choice in the matter by NBC he should not resign if the story is simply the one that exists right now.  

Williams screwed up.  Of that there is no doubt.  He has seemed to embellish the story of his Iraq adventure over the years.  That is true.  But did he deliberately lie to make himself look better.  We don't know that.  Only Brian Williams knows that.

But let's give this quality Journalist the benefit of the doubt.  He, after all, went to Iraq to cover the invasion that probably never should have happened.  Did he misremember or did he deliberately lie.  The truth is that Brian Williams seems to have had a pretty decent record when it comes to telling the truth to the American People over his long and up until now distinguished career.  

Before we crucify this seemingly decent newsman who has traveled with us through Iraq, Afghanistan, Through Superstorm Sandy and many other national and international stories let's cut this guy a break and ask a relevant question.

Question:  What did Brian Williams do that was so awful.

Answer:  He may have intentionally outright lied.  If he did that he probably should lose his job.  However, if he simply had problems correctly remembering his Iraq war stories he has probably joined the ranks of countless Americans who have problems remembering everything they have ever done and said correctly throughout their lives.  If this was the case then he should be forgiven.

I think back to 1977 and 1978 when I worked on a book about my road trip through America and Canada that I took in 77.  I finished the first draft in 1978 and simply put the manuscript away, never to retrieve it until a few years ago, when I went back to it to work on preparing it for publication as a Word Document.  What I thought I remembered about my trip turned out to be far different and filled with gaps that my manuscript reminded me of.  I forgave myself for my faulty memory and in so doing I am willing to cut Mr. Williams a break for his faulty memory. 

I think it is interesting that the one person of any significance who has come out to defend Brian Williams is Dan Rather.  Dan Rather has been and continues to be the kind of newsman who sticks to his guns and lost his job at CBS primarily due to the CBS Corporate coddling of the George W. Bush White House, unhappy with Rather's powerful story of George Bush Junior avoiding the dangers of war through his daddy's contacts.  Dan Rather was a brave and truthful war correspondent in Vietnam just like Brian Williams was in Iraq and Afghanistan.  They apparently share a bond and I am hopeful that NBC does not cave in and destroy Brian William's career like they did David Gregory's when they tossed Gregory off "Meet The Press".

I think that what is most shameful about the Brian Williams situation is that it is once again showing how awful 24 hour news can be.  In addition to being boring it also seems to be unnecessarily vindictive and punitive.  I hope that Brian Williams' decision to take some time off from the NBC Anchor Chair will not lead to his termination, but to people and networks returning to what is truly important and responsible journalism rather than "Gotcha Journalism".

To Brian Williams I say Good Luck and God Bless.  I remain looking forward to your return to the NBC News airwaves where you belong and genuinely deserve to be for a long time to come.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher 


Friday, December 19, 2014

Welcome To Cuba And Farewell To The Colbert Report

Friday, December 19th, 2014

My Dear America:

At a time of the year when normally nothing of any substance seems to happen, in December of 2014 all Hell seems to be breaking loose.  

First of all, Congress once again played Chicken with the U.S. Government's budget and very nearly shut down the Government again.  Ted Cruz, the Arrogant Egomaniac Senator from Texas once again grandstanding, pushed the discussion past where Republicans thought that it should have gone and in so doing produced an extra Saturday Session in which Democrats in the Senate pushed not only the budget through, but also pushed through a number of Barack Obama appointees including a new Surgeon General, after not having one in over a year.  Republicans were furious with Cruz while Democrats thanked Ted for his service on their behalf.

Also this month JEB Bush announced that he was exploring the possibility of his running for President in 2016, which, in essence, means that he is already running and actively fund raising for the prospect of his Campaign.  While in another era JEB Bush running for President would infuriate me (He is, after all, the prime mover in his brother George Bush's despicably flawed Florida "Victory" along with the Supreme Court in 2000") considering the other Republican Clowns gathering on Deck to run, suddenly the prospect of JEB in the mix is more acceptable than it has a right to be.  I will certainly never vote for him but the prospect of Clinton versus Bush is far more preferable than Clinton Versus Marco Rubio, Rand Paul or (God Forbid) Ted Cruz.

Another rather earth shattering incident that happened this month is the cancellation of the release of the controversial Seth Rogan and James Franco comedy movie, "The Interview."  The release of the movie was cancelled after devastating cyber attacks on Sony Pictures Studio in which hackers stole pretty much everything they could find on Sony's computer system.  The hackers, which by this time have pretty much been identified as North Korean Government Nerds, left messages on Sony Executives computers threatening 9/11 style attacks against theaters showing "The Interview," which is a fictional comedy about a plot to kill North Korean Leader, Kim Jon Un.  Clearly the North Korean leader did not see the humor in this premise.  The end result of all of this was the apparent disappearance of "The Interview." into the world of movie oblivion.  It was canceled by the studio from opening this weekend after nearly every movie chain in the country canceled it from playing on their screens.  Sony, at this point, has no plans to release it on video and the North Korean hackers have notified Sony That they have done the "Wise" thing.

President Barack Obama has condemned the North Korean Hacking and has indicated disappointment with Sony's abandoning the movie and, indeed, it is a disturbing precedent.  The American President has indicated that there may be a response to the North Korean outrage but has not said what it will be.

The truth is, however, that President Obama has more than North Korea to worry about these days.  Even though Key ISIS leaders have been killed recently, ISIS remains a threat to human decency in the Middle East and the rest of the world.  ISIS apparently was a motivator for a murderous terrorist incident in Sydney, Australia, of all places.

Obama is on a roll, however, these days.  After announcing a blistering indictment of Republican inactivity in the area of immigration, the President courageously set out to do what he could under the law without the help, or more likely hinderance, of Congress.

Even more courageous, however, is the fact that following contacts and encouragement by Pope Francis with both President Obama and Cuban President Raoul Castro, President Obama has announced the normalization of relations with the Island Nation of Cuba after more than 50 years of poor or no relations at all with the island.  Although there is much to dislike about Cuba it is about time that we establish relations with them.  Certainly when we have established positive relationships with Russia, China and Vietnam, it makes very little sense to continue to maintain hostile relations with Cuba. He will undoubtedly take considerable heat on the subject but his actions on Cuba are warranted and, in fact, long overdue 

President Obama is not taking the actions he is taking without commenting on them.  He has recently been interviewed by nearly everyone willing to have him on their Radio or TV Show or in their Publication.  Clearly President Obama is not going to be a shrinking violet in these last two years of his Presidency.  He is kicking butt and taking names and after six years of Republican obstruction of every effort he has made to do anything, clearly his days of trying to compromise with no positive response from the other side are over. Clearly the President realizes at this point in his Presidency that whatever he does or doesn't do he will be castigated by the Republicans.  So knowing that, he is clearly choosing to do whatever he can to get done what he believes he can and should do. 

One of the recent Television shows that President Obama appeared on was "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central.  When President Obama was Stephen Colbert's guest recently President Obama seemingly took over the show from Stephen for the evening.  It was not the first or last time that Stephen Colbert would engineer something outrageously funny.  Last night, however, was the last time that Stephen Colbert would play his incredibly funny outrageously conservative fool of a character on his Comedy Central Show.  

As the last "Colbert Report" drew to a close Stephen Started singing "We'll meet again, Don't know where, Don't Know when" and suddenly the stage was filled with well known individuals from all walks of life standing on the stage with him in tribute to his remarkable talent.  Although Colbert will be missed by a lot of people for awhile at 11:30 in the evening, he will not be gone forever. He will be back sometime in 2015 when, after David Letterman retires, Stephen Colbert will take Letterman's spot on CBS and will no doubt do a great job.

Well, as we count down to the end of 2014 it might be a good time to repeat what Charles Dickens Tiny Tim said so long ago.

"God Bless Us, Every One".

Surely we need it.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher