Tonight’s The Night

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My wife says she likes Trump because “he’s not afraid to say what he thinks.”  Admittedly that is a rare thing in this PC world, but it’s not always a good one. Charles Manson says what he thinks. So does Dennis Rodman. And Kanye West. But a president can’t blurt out every bat-shit crazy thought that pops into his head. Now more than ever a president has to have a filter and the brains to know when to use it. Careless words from a US President could conceivably start a war, especially if they were directed at that chubby lunatic in North Korea. He’s just itching for an excuse to use those missiles he loves so much. No doubt they’re a danger to the world, but I also think they compensate the little toad for a certain inadequacy that Western men usually address by owning a fast car.

Whoa, I got a little sidetracked there. Let’s get this thing back on the rails. My point is, I don’t want a president who says what he thinks when those thoughts appeal primarily to the mentality of the NASCAR Nation. I don’t want a president who seems to enjoy insulting people and who makes flippant remarks about serious subjects. I want someone who has the self-control to speak and behave like a president, who knows what to do in a crisis, who has experience making high-stakes, life and death decisions, who understands how our government works, and who won’t embarrass us by saying stupid, outrageous things. I want a president who can bear up under the relentless scrutiny of the entire world. I want a president who is thick skinned and unflappable. There is but one choice.

But will I still feel the same tomorrow? The first debate is only a few hours away and my doctor counseled me to have plenty of liquor on hand in case it gets nasty. I took his advice to heart. This thing takes off for real tonight and the smart money thinks it’s bound to go sideways. I pity the poor moderator.

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Little Big Man

IMG_0634I was seventeen in 1971 when I saw the movie Little Big Man and I remember two things about it. The first is a scene where an attractive Indian woman runs out of a burning tepee naked. The second, which proved more influential over time, was that the movie had the audacity to suggest  that the soldiers and settlers of the American West could have been anything other than noble, honorable people.  Actually, it was stronger than a suggestion. It had never occurred to me before that a folk hero like George A. Custer and the men of his Seventh Cavalry could be guilty of the wanton killing of defenseless women, children and old men. It was a revelation.

Now, forty-five years later, I have read the book upon which the movie was based. It’s a good story; a tall tale more or less, and that’s okay. It’s done well and for the most part it’s a pleasurable read. The New York Times Book Review pronounced it the best novel ever about the American West, but I suspect that review was written before Lonesome Dove was published. My only complaint is with the publisher of the 50th Anniversary Edition, Dial Press. Seems to me they took the cheap route with the paper and the font.

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Dark Star Safari

img_0646I’ve never had any desire whatsoever to visit Africa, and now having read two of Paul Theroux’s books about this miserable, squalid place, I know I will never even be tempted. Mr. Theroux’s goal on this trek is to travel from Cairo to Cape Town by whatever mode of transportation is available – car, bus, ferry or rail. His only real rule is that he will not travel by air unless there is no other alternative. Along the way he encounters bandits, beggars, corrupt officials, gregarious nuns, failed economies, decrepit roads, bad food and filthy, overcrowded buses and trains. Most of the cities on his route are sprawling, dangerous slums where nothing is maintained and everything suffers from some degree of deterioration. Wherever he goes people hound him constantly for money, which he he steadfastly refuses to give. Aid workers come off as arrogant prigs who can hardly be troubled to roll down a window of their Land Rovers. Despite all of this he seems to enjoy himself, which amazes me, because after a couple of days of the misery he frequently endures I would be on the next plane out of there.

Dark Star Safari is an enjoyable book, with impressive attention to detail and vivid descriptions of Africa and African life, in both the cities and the bush. I haven’t read many travel books, but I have to think Mr. Theroux is one of the premier writers in the genre.

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Check Please.

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The Royals came home last Monday after a successful road trip, looking forward to a schedule of remaining games that many said was the most favorable among all of their Wild Card competition. They took advantage of this good fortune by losing five in a row, including a four game sweep at the hands of the lowly Oakland A’s. All hope of a return to the post-season is officially dead.

When the real sportswriters tell the final story of the 2016 season here in the Paris Of The Plains it should contain these facts: Without Mike Moustakas, Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto, this team didn’t have the talent or the energy to climb to the mountaintop for a third year in a row. The ill-advised signing of pitcher Joakim Soria (told you so) has been a bigger train-wreck than even the most cynical critic predicted. The foolish hope that Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon could play an entire season without at least one long stretch on the DL proved to be just that. The assumption that Chris Young could adequately fill the fifth spot in the starting rotation was laid to waste before the season was a month old. And despite bursts of occasional brilliance, most of the position players who took the field after Moustakas went down were Triple A talent at best.

And so it went. GM Dayton Moore has some heavy lifting to do this off-season, and he doesn’t have big wampum to work with. Next season will likely be the final year this core group of World Champion players will be together. In Dayton We Trust to make the most of it.

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Trump Shipwrecked On the Hudson

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had a debate of sorts the other night and the loser was…Matt Lauer, who was crucified by both the left and the right for being such a self-important tool and also a terrible interviewer. Somewhere Ann Curry has a big smile on her face.

It was called the Commander In Chief Forum and it was held on an aircraft carrier that is now a floating museum on the Hudson River in New Your City. And what did we learn when it was over? Well, we heard Donald Trump say he’s qualified to be president because he owns a business and he’s traveled a lot. He also defended an old sexist tweet he sent about women in the military, upped the ante in his bromance with Vladimir Putin, calling him a strong leader, continued to falsely insist he was never in favor of invading Iraq, and finally, he proposed stealing the resources of countries to which we send our troops because we should “get something in return.” When Lauer finally stopped asking about emails and got to the subject he was supposed to cover, Hillary Clinton made a pretty good case that she is thoughtful, serious and informed when it comes to matters of national defense. Thank god one of them is.

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It’s Always Good to Have Choices

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A Terrible Glory

imageI found this autographed copy at my library bookstore and I bought it for three dollars. The clerk said she had put it on the shelf less than an hour before I came in. It was a stroke of good fortune for yours truly. This is the third treatment of the Little Bighorn battle I have read. It offers nothing new in the way of facts, but that is not an expectation at this point, and I still enjoyed the time I spent with it. Sometimes it’s just nice to be swept along by a story even if you know all of the basic facts as well as how it’s going to end. The writing is conversational and doesn’t rely too much on long passages of quoted material, which I appreciated. It’s a good read if you are a fan of the subject, but if you’re only going to read one book then Son of the Morning Star is the standard by which all others are measured.

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