Tag Archives: politics

Jimmy Kimmel Stands Tall!

After David Letterman and Jay Leno retired from late night television, I thought the end had come for quality late night talk shows.  However, I have been pleasantly surprised by three of the four new late night hosts.  Jimmy Fallon with his boyish charm, sappy games, and decent interview skills emerged as my favorite, but to their credit Jimmy Kimmel and Steven Colbert are close on his heels.   The only miscast has been Seth Myers.  Poor Seth can’t seem to shake himself free of his old Saturday Night Live routines.  His show comes across as a SNL rerun, especially the first half of the show when his skits are often little more than SNL rip-offs down to the writing style and intonation of the delivery.

Up until a week ago, my order of preference for watching late night television was . . . .

  1. Jimmy Fallon: Fallon is a multi-talented host who comes across as extremely likeable.  He is the best interviewer of the four.  His biggest flaw is he plays it too safe, and has hit on a formula that with time is likely to grow old.  His house band, The Roots, is by far the best late night band on television;
  2. Jimmy Kimmel: Like Fallon, Kimmel comes across as approachable and likeable, which makes him a perfect late night host.  His video challenges are fast becoming legendary although at times controversial.  Unlike Fallon, he does not always play it safe.  He has been known to joust in murky waters with needle tongued jabs at politicians, but almost always with a mischievous little boy smirk on his face;
  3. Steven Colbert: Unlike Fallon and Kimmel, Colbert’s commentary can sometimes be down in the dirt mean.  He is not above outright attacks against those in the public he personally finds despicable and in need of having their faces rubbed in the mud.  Although I enjoy watching Colbert, he can sometimes go too far and pummel his audience with his personal politics.  However, there is no denying he is awfully good, especially when he is so often “point on” with his views; and
  4. Seth Myers: Seth Myers is by far the weakest of the four hosts.  His interviews are extremely thin, and as an added distraction every interview is saturated with his silly school girl giggles.  Myer’s biggest handicap is he can’t seem to shake Saturday Night Live from his system.  That is unfortunate since it is obvious the man has standalone talent.

However, that was my list several days ago.  Recently something happened that made me rethink my rank order.  No, Seth Myers was not fired.  Actually, Seth has shown some improvement, or maybe he is growing on me.  Lately, he seems to be wittier and more in tune to with his subject matter.  He is no longer simply reading jokes someone wrote for him, he is delivering his lines with authority and an underlying message that is not only funny but scary as hell.  He is still a little too much SNL, but he is growing.

However, Seth Meyer’s improvement did not cause me to rethink my list.  Jimmy Kimmel’s heart-felt message about the medical problems faced by his new born son was the catalyst behind rethinking the list.  Although critics, primarily Republicans, screamed he used his son to make a liberal political statement about Obamacare, nothing could be further from the truth.  It takes courage to put potential harm to your ratings aside and lay yourself open like Jimmy Kimmel did a few days ago on his show.  He spoke from his heart, and spoke a message that any father – any human being – can understand.  He was not speaking for The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and trying to sway political winds in favor of the embattled healthcare act!  He was not taking a political stand!  Jimmy Kimmel was speaking with the heart and voice of a father and with the passion of a human being pleading for all human beings to have compassion for those less fortunate.  He said no parent should have to watch their child die because the parent cannot afford to save their child’s life.  If that plea was political, in the name of God on High, we desperately need more such politics!

Jimmy Kimmel spoke from the heart.  Politics speaks from the pocketbook.  Jimmy Kimmel did not have to worry about paying for his son’s operation; his pockets are deep.  His plea was for those without deep pockets.  His tears were not only for his son, but for the realization that all children are not as privileged as his child.  His heart was breaking for the parents who without proper health care might have no choice but to watch their child die.  In the greatest most affluent nation on earth the health of a child – the life or death of a child – should not depend on the wealth or lack of wealth of the parents or guardians.  Thank you, Mr. Kimmel, for having the courage to publicly show your humanity.  You, Sir, are my new number one late night host!

JL

©Jack Linton, May 9, 2017

Why We Shouldn’t Worry about Clinton or Trump

Why in the world would the Republican Party back Donald Trump, maybe, the most divisive presidential candidate in history? Why would anyone, especially Christians, support a candidate they would lynch if he said about them the things he has said about Hispanics and women? Supporters of Trump laugh and say it doesn’t matter that he is offensive and abrasive because he is not a politician. Holy Hogwash! The truth is he became a politician the moment he announced his intention to run for the Presidency, but politician or not, as the potential President of the United States, it matters what he says, how he says it, how he acts, and what he does! Politically, it matters because he is running for the supreme public office in the nation – an office that represents the integrity of the nation! There is no integrity in demeaning people, and I doubt seriously if the rest of the world will be as forgiving as his supporters of a President with a demeaning mouth and disposition.

On the other side of the fence sits the first serious woman candidate for the Presidency, Hillary Clinton. However, why in the world would the Democrat Party hitch their wagon behind maybe the most untrustworthy presidential candidate in history? From her numerous shifts on political positions and subsequent patented denials to her blatant lies regarding her misuse and destruction of classified emails, she has proven over and over again she cannot be trusted. Supporters can argue she has apologized all they want, but how far will apologies take a President with poor judgement? It matters that a President is trustworthy – at least above the table.

The dilemma we find ourselves in did not happen overnight. It is the result of years of voter apathy that has allowed the politicians, Democrats and Republicans, to do as they please without accountability. The only accountability is the vote, but due to lack of long term memory, by the next election, voters have forgotten the issues and 90% of what was said the first go around. Voters rarely hold politicians accountable for their promises, so why shouldn’t politicians promise the world when all they need deliver is peanuts such as Clinton and Trump? Why shouldn’t they lie as long as they keep straight who they lie to and keep a smile on their faces (i.e. Clinton and Trump)? Bottom line, the people – the voters – are as much responsible for the mess we are in as the politicians and the political parties we blindly follow.

So, how do we get out of this? We don’t, and there is little need to waste time worrying about it. Prayer may help, but I am afraid the good Lord is going to let us wallow in the bed we have made for ourselves for a while. The conservatives can blame the liberals and the liberals can blame the conservatives, but name calling and bellyaching will do nothing but hurt our ears. Regardless of how much we moan and groan, one of the two misfits will be elected in November. The only bright spot is that America has made it through tough times before, and we will most likely make it through this as well. After four years, we will be invited to the dance once again, and hopefully, the next dance card will be a little more balanced in favor of sanity.

Until we dance that dance, “We are stuck with the ugly duckling,” as Trump might say. The Presidency will not change Clinton or Trump for the better; they are who they are, and those two old dogs are not about to change for anybody or anything. So, we might as well suck it up and have a hardy laugh. The rest of the world is certainly laughing, so why not join in and save our concerns and worries for a later day when it might matter. Unfortunately for America, the train has left the station, and all tickets have been punched for the next four years.

JL

©Jack Linton, October 8, 2016

Democrats vs Republicans vs Libertarians

A quick look at what Americans need to know:

Republicans Democrats Libertarians
Believe Nancy Reagan coined the phrase “Are you yanking my chain?” Believe Donald Trump is “Yanking our chain!” Wish “They had a chain to yank.”
Believe it takes 10 chickens to make 10 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. Believe chicken should only be eaten fried. Only eat leftovers.
Believe Republicans win 65% of all coin tosses. Believe 65% is the chance the Republicans have of losing the election Believe 65% of all coin tosses will land on edge unless tampered with by Democrats or Republicans.
Believe it is time for Donald Trump to be President since the USA has never had a President named Donald. Believe it is scary to imagine a Pope named Donald. Can’t follow this line of thinking.
Believe Donald Trump put the jokes to rest about his hair when he let Jimmy Fallon muss his hair on national television. Believe Fallon mussing Trump’s hair explains the sudden spike in glue sales shortly before the show aired. Believe the bigger issue is lice control.
Believe the biggest danger in the USA is electing Hillary Clinton as President. Believe the biggest danger in the USA is ingesting Donald Trump’s malarkey. Can’t believe they are not the whackos on the ticket.
Believe a 2,000 mile border wall between the USA and Mexico is the best solution to immigration. Believe such a wall would be an unfair deterrent to their voter recruiting efforts. Believe it is impossible to build a wall between the USA and Mexico since the border is only six inches wide.
Believe Democrats were behind replacing silicone breasts implants with cookie dough as part of their concerns for the ecosystem. Believe Republicans are full of hot air, but for environmental reasons, think cookie dough does rise to the occasion. Wonder what the Cookie Monster has to do with the election.
Believe there is scientific evidence to support that at any given moment, there are American men who don’t realize their fly is down. Believe Donald Trump is one of those men, but they are not sure if it is intentional or not. Are hoping both Hillary and Donald are “temps.”
Believe the letter “F” should be removed from alphabet soup to remove the temptation to spell dirty words. Believe the letter “R” should be removed from alphabet soup to make it taste better. Didn’t know anyone still ate alphabet soup.

America, the choice is yours!?

JL

Jack Linton, September 18, 2016

Silver Spoons, Plagiarism, & Arrogance: The Gateway to Improving Public Schools

Despite the controversy swirling around Melania Trump’s plagiarism Monday night and the alleged plagiarism thrown Donald, Jr.’s way Tuesday night, I thought both of them presented themselves well at the Republican National Convention, especially Don, Jr.  He was well prepared, articulate, and came across as a strong future candidate for public office.  In fact, he even stuck his foot in his mouth like a true politician when he spouted off about the dire condition of public schools in The United States.  A guy raised with a silver spoon in his mouth and educated at a $50,000 dollar per year boarding school should be the last person to speak about problems in public schools, especially when that part of his speech, as his principal speech writer later admitted, was borrowed.  Borrowed or plagiarized, every schoolboy, even the ones in public schools – the schools that Junior said are run “like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and administrators and not the students,” – know to give credit where credit is due, but maybe schools that cost more per year to attend than most Americans earn per year are not so superior to public schools.  I am sure many are, but I am also confident there are many public schools that can compete with the elite schools of the rich as well.  You cannot assume a school is excellent by its price tag no more than you can assume a school is inferior by its “public” tag.

I agree improvements are needed in many of the nation’s public schools, but as a former private school and public school educator, I am tired of hearing people (mostly Republican politicians) criticize public schools without also acknowledging there are many excellent public schools.  Yes, there are public schools that are horrible, but to lump all public schools into one large cesspool of despair is wrong and blatantly dishonest.  It is also transparently deceitful for Republicans or anyone else to propose plans of improvement more aligned to disembowelment of public schools than improving them.  The present Republican plan of taking money from public schools and giving it to big business, loosely controlled charter schools, and school privatization ventures will not cure the problems in America’s public schools.  If anything, such actions will eventually break the backbone of the American public school system, but that is likely a part of the plan as well.  The current Republican solution to improving public schools is little more than thinly disguised re-segregation of public schools.  The Republican call for neighborhood schools simply means white neighborhoods should have their schools and black neighborhoods should have their schools.  Such a plan along with so called parental choice plans will eventually lead this nation to a greater gap between the haves and have nots – only this time it will impact white children as well as black children.  When that happens, Republicans and the nation as a whole will not have to worry about public schools being “an elevator to the middle class” as Donald, Jr. stated in his speech since there won’t be a middle class!

Most likely, Donald Trump, Jr. has spent very little time, if any, in a public school, good or bad, but yet he speaks as an authority as to what transpires within them.  Has he or his father ever walked in the shoes of a teacher or a school administrator?  No, they are businessmen, and they can no more tell public school teachers and school administrators how to improve their schools than teachers and administrators can tell them how to run their corporations.  Schools are not businesses!  In the business world the Trumps have the luxury and resources to pick the best materials to make their business a success, and even then, they sometimes fail and have to claim bankruptcy.  Teachers and administrators do not have the same luxury and resources.  They are dependent on the meager funding provided at the local and state levels, and their success is largely dependent on the children conceived within the boundaries of the school district.  Private schools like The Hill School, where Don, Jr. attended school, can choose students they want based on academic standing, family affluence and the thickness of mama and daddy’s wallet.  Public schools do not have such choices!  They must serve all children regardless of academic standing and family pedigree as well as serve the children of mamas and daddies without a wallet.  They must take the kids they are dealt regardless of background, physical and/or mental state, and home environment.  Unlike a business, public schools cannot choose to work only with the best raw materials; they must do the best they can with what they get often with little parental or political support.  Teachers and administrators in our public schools are brain surgeons on a thirty minute time clock with less than adequate surgical tools and resources.  For the most part, they are devoted, caring, hardworking people working in a bankrupt social and political system.  So, yes, it bothers me that Donald Trump, Jr. has the audacity to lump all public schools together as failures and talk negatively about public schools that he knows little if anything about other than what a speech writer wrote for him.

Don, Jr. said, “Growing up, my siblings and I were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don’t have.  We want all Americans to have those same opportunities.”  Let’s be honest, and look beyond convention rhetoric.  Donald, Jr. and his siblings had the choices they had because they have a rich father.  The idea or assumption the Trumps or anyone else in the Republican party will dig deep into their pockets to provide poor or middle class children the same opportunities for an education as the rich is preposterous, especially when you consider that Republicans consistently refuse to fund even an adequate education for poor and middle class children in Republican dominated states such as Mississippi.

Maybe, Donald Trump will be different if elected, but I have yet to hear him say anything about education that the Republican Party does not want to hear.  I sincerely hope he is at least a notch above the kind of education reform Mississippi has in recent years been subjected to at the hands of state Republicans – reform that includes bullying educators, refusal to fund an adequate education for public school children, even though it is the law, funneling public school dollars into unproven charters and privatization, and bankrupting the state fiscal system that students, parents, and educators depend upon to support public school education.

If Donald Trump wins the election and truly wants to improve public schools, he needs to get with public school teachers and administrators personally and listen to them; he needs to get with education researchers and universities and listen to them; he needs to listen to these people because, like him, they also want to improve public schools in America.  When it comes to public school education, he needs to stop listening to the business world and the politicians and do what he has always done – surround himself with knowledgeable people in education that includes people who have actually taught in public schools – good and bad.  He needs to work with education leaders and education innovators who recognize the good things that are happening in education and how to replicate them; he needs to work with education leaders and innovators who understand the problems schools face and how to best address those problems; he needs to work with education leaders and innovators who recognize the educational needs of children; and, he needs to work with education leaders and innovators who recognize and understand the barriers keeping schools from meeting those needs.  What we do not need is another Republican or Democrat who thinks he knows the problem and how to fix it without including educators in the discussion.  What we do not need is more education rhetoric from Mr. Trump, his son, or anyone else including politicians and educators.

When it comes to the education of our nation’s children, educators across this nation have had a belly full of political leaders who talk the talk but fail to walk the walk .  It will take more than a big ego spewing generalities to bring about needed changes in public schools; it will take a big man who has the wisdom, vision, and guts to stand against a political system and public handicapped by tunnel vision when it comes to public school education.  It will take an extraordinary leader to put a stop to the norm of browbeating educators into humbled submission.  It will take a leader with high expectations for success, but an even higher appreciation for the humanity and educational expertise of teachers and school administrators devoted to the children of this country.  Is Donald Trump that man?  I don’t know.  Like thousands of educators, I am waiting to see, if silver spoons, plagiarism, and arrogance are the gateway to improving public school education, or if someone will finally realize it takes people who know what they are doing and talking about, hard work, and common sense to bring about improvement.

JL

Jack Linton, July 21, 2016

The Trial of Silas Washington

Silas Washington’s opinions were no different than anyone else. Like most people, he said whatever came to mind regardless who he offended.  He didn’t intentionally offend anyone, but he didn’t worry about it if he did either.  Why worry?  In BS 16 (before shoulderboards), every spoken word or sentence, no matter how innocent or politically correct offended someone somewhere.  No matter what was said, around the clock organized groups specializing in the study and contextual dissection of words and phrases turned anything said into something offensive to someone.  In a common sense world, this should have made people choose their words and comments very carefully or shut up all together, but in a conspicuously combustible society such as America, the opposite occurred.  People threw common sense aside and became increasingly free with their opinions.  However, by BS 11, people across America, including Silas, finally said enough is enough.  They demanded something be done to reel in an opinionated society, and bring a semblance of sanity back to the nation.

Believing the federal government was largely to blame for the insanity, the 51 state legislatures took on the task of setting things straight. However, Cuba, the newest state, a state motivated by the tobacco tea industry and a surreptitious government rumor mill designed to invigorate tourism, declined to participate.  The 50 remaining governors called a convention in St. Louis in November of BS 11 to discuss and collaborate on measures to resolve the problem, but the meetings were cut short after only two days due to an overabundance of self-serving opinions on how to handle the situation.  In March, BS 10, Mississippi became the first state to introduce a solution.  The GOPAU (Good Old Politics as Usual) Party in Mississippi introduced a law forbidding opinions of any kind, especially those not favorable to the convictions and beliefs of the authors of the law.  HB 1313, as the law was called, was so simple in design and content, that other states enthusiastically adopted it as well.  By the summer of BS 8, anyone with an opinion – with the exception of select membership in the GOPAU – was subject to a $100,000 fine and solitary confinement in a state or federal prison for up to ten years.  It was not the best of times, but like the majority of people, Silas was not overly concerned.

By fall BS 6, with opinions banned, social media collapsed, and all elections were canceled since it was illegal to vote for the candidate of choice.  Rather than hold elections, elected offices were filled by drawing names from a fruit jar, which proved to be much more efficient and credible than the old election process.  Anyone Tweeting, texting, or sending a message that could not be supported by hard data was arrested for an opinion crime.  Since all beliefs were classified as opinions, churches closed and converted to one choice bicycle shops, and libraries, a viable source for opinions for the few people who actually used them, were sold to storage vendors.  Television was relegated to unopinionated news and weather reporting, The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, and Sponge Bob Square Pants.  All other programming was strictly forbidden.  As a consequence, and shortly after all musical instruments were re-classified as blue devices and outlawed, the entertainment business declared bankruptcy and ceased to exist.  No one had an opinion on anything, or at least they kept it to themselves, which Silas thought wasn’t such a bad thing.  In Mary Kay vs The United States of America, the Supreme Court ruled wearing makeup was an opinion crime since a person would have to be of the opinion their natural complexion needed adjusting to be acceptable.  Not even the stock markets were spared as thousands of stockbrokers on Wall Street were locked out of the exchange – speculation was most definitely an opinion crime.

With people tight lipped and prisons growing into gigantic city states, life was pretty hard boiled in The United States – that is until The Great Caffeine Rebellion.  Silas thought the rebellion was a good idea, but of course, he kept the thought to himself.  The rebellion began and ended April 1, BS 3.  The limited news reported thousands of people gathered in DuPont Circle and surrounding streets and restaurants in Washington D.C. to peacefully protest HB 1313.  With their plain black coffee – the only choice allowed – hoisted high in the air, the people slowly poured their drinks over their heads in protest of the discombobulation of America.  In Hot Coffee, Mississippi, several people, mostly kin, gathered outside Knight’s General Store and poured hot coffee down the front of their pants in protest against the law.  Other than a couple of nasty sticky comb overs in D.C. and some reports of serious shrinkage caused by scalding in Mississippi, no one was seriously injured in the protests.  Fox News staged an illegal analytical forum as to the effectiveness of the rebellion, but the government shut them down citing the forum as a violation of HB 1313.  As far as a rebellion, The Great Caffeine Rebellion of BS 3, wasn’t much, but the idea of once again being able to make simple choices such as the color of clothes worn, being able to choose to salt or pepper food, have an opinion on what was pretty, ugly, fat, skinny, acceptable or not acceptable, as well as have a choice in friends was so overpowering that in BS 2 the 30th, 31st , and 32nd Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America were presented before Congress.

Ratification of the Amendments was tricky.  As long as HB 1313 was law, the states could not ratify any new Amendment since the law strictly prohibited a change of opinion on the law; therefore, the nation’s lawmakers found themselves in a catch-22.  As a last effort, Congress released the Amendments to the states for individual consideration, but under HB 1313, the states were just as powerless.  However, one state, Mississippi, had no problem ignoring the law they created and becoming the first state to ratify the 30th Amendment to the Constitution.  Once again, the rest of the nation followed Mississippi’s lead.  Silas marched proudly in the July 4 Emancipation of Opinions parade.  The next day, newspapers across the nation were filled with local, state, and national opinions and wonderful blatant gossip.  It was a great day of celebration in America!

The 30th Amendment struck down HB 1313 as well as closed all loopholes or questions as to the patriotic heritage of opinions by linking them forever to the First Amendment and the American pursuit of liberty and happiness.  To once and for all resolve proprietorship issues concerning opinions and establish opinions as a sovereign right, the 31st Amendment established the right of first opinions with guaranteed copyright protections and benefits regardless of position, wealth, entitlement, political correctness or degree of sensitivity.  The 32nd Amendment protected individuals from incarceration for being opinionated.  Finally, to assure everyone happiness, conformity, and whatnot, the government contracted with Disney, Intel, and a newly invigorated social media to develop a Personal Integrated Sensory System Imagined Network Grid, or PISSING Network for short.  The first prototype was a monstrous insect-looking virtual reality helmet, which frightened little children and the elderly.  The helmet gave way to a more user friendly and breathable device, although slightly more cumbersome, known as a shoulderboard.  Wearing the shoulderboard guaranteed people in their everyday life the same anonymity and lack of accountability they had loved so much with the old social media.  The device was such a hit with the public and government officials that The United States Congress passed the Disassociation Act requiring shoulderboards be worn during all hours of the day except when sleeping.

Silas despised the four sided digital shoulderboard that sat on his shoulders surrounding his head, but he had to admit the apparatus was an ingenious time saver.  Get up in the morning, unplug the unit from its charging port, slip it over the head, and punch in the desired look for the day.  Presto!  No more hours doing makeup, shaving, or fussing with hair.  The manufactures still highly suggested bathing the rest of the body at least twice weekly, but from the shoulders up forget it.  To become whoever a person wanted to be, all that was required was to simply speak into the Intel 2022 mic or punch in a descriptor on the nifty Intel sychromatic wristband, and instantly the desired image appeared on the board in amazing Disney Realmation  3D.  Not only did the boards provide a look, but wearers could express any opinion or say anything they desired without physical association or accountability just like they did in the old days of social media.  People could literally be whoever they wanted to be; or at least who they wanted everyone to believe them to be, and therein was the problem for Silas.

Silas was a little man, and the shoulderboard hurt his shoulders, but that was a minor problem.  He was an old soul, and simply wanted to be.  His few friends told him to relax and let the shouldrboard work for him, but it simply did not work for him.  No matter how he tried to fit in with the shoulderboard crowd, that world did not click for him.  He tried a macho muscle man image on his shoulderboard for several days, but just as he was getting use to the part, a gust of wind sent him toppling into a nearby shrub with his feet kicking frantically in the air.  For children and smaller adults like Silas, the boards made a person top heavy and prone to tip over, which in Silas’s case did not speak well of his implied masculinity.  Another time, he presented himself as a square jawed, no nonsense cowboy with Southern roots.  He was opinionated, conspiracy loving, and ultra conservative.  As long as people believed as he believed, he championed their cause.  For several days, he had a blast criticizing opinions disagreeing with his and warning that stocks would plummet and the world would end if people failed to share his beliefs.  Nevertheless, after a couple of weeks of being better than everybody, he grew tired.  He was just not the in your face type, so he turned off his shoulderboard and set it aside, and didn’t bother to plug it into its charger.  He had no intention of ever wearing it again.  Three days later his home was surrounded by SWAT teams, helicopters, foaming at the mouth dogs, the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security.  Poor Silas was taken away in chains.

 

To make sure everyone tuned in, Silas’s trial was held on a Sunday afternoon in Federal court.  The government determined they would make an example of him that the people would long remember.  The prosecuting team was confident his treasonable act of refusing to wear his shoulderboard would be a slam dunk case in their favor.  The defense team agreed.  They were envious of the prosecution’s case, and hoped for mercy at best.  Unless something went terribly wrong, by the end of the day, they fully expected to be home watching their client on the ten o’clock news as he was ushered off to prison in chains.

In spite of his attorneys protests, Silas refused to wear his shoulderboard in the courtroom and appeared natural – unshaved, hair knotted, and unwashed.  Warnings were flashed across shouderboards around the nation that some images (mainly Silas) might be too intense for small children and pregnant females.  Although his unkempt appearance frightened many young children, embarrassed his family, and sickened the majority of onlookers, not a single person turned away.  The nation was captivated by him.  For many in the watching audience, he was the first nonviolent individual they had ever seen held accountable for anything.

The court room was packed with people wearing shoulderboards – all except Silas. Everyone expected Silas’s attorneys to challenge the Constitutionality of his arrest under the 32nd Amendment.  In fact, most observers felt the trial might be more about the Constitution than Silas.  Therefore, the Honorable Joseph Summit, the foremost authority on the Constitution, came out of retirement to convene the court.  The President of the United States, with Ronald Reagan smiling warmly from his shoulderboard, sat directly behind the prosecution table along with several national, local – including the Governor of Mississippi, and even foreign dignitaries.  Silas’s family and friends sat directly behind the defense table; several of them had flashing banners scrolling across their shoulderboards that read “We are so sorry, Silas was brought up better than this,” and “Please, don’t judge us by our cousin’s actions.”

Silas sat with one elbow on the defense table with his chin propped in the palm of his hand.  Five defense attorneys with shoulderboards depicting Teddy Rooselvelt, Samuel L Jackson, Brett Favre, Jerry Clower, and Clarence Darrow, hovered around him all talking at once, begging him to take the government’s offer of five years in solitary confinement and a meager $25,000 fine.  They insisted he could not hope for a better deal.  Silas thought differently and refused to discuss the offer much less accept it.

As soon as the judge was seated, Bobby Joe Stalwart, aka Clarence Darrow, the lead defense attorney and a six four former linebacker for Mississippi State, jumped to his feet.  “Your Honor,” he said, “I move this case be thrown out by virtue of the 32nd Amendment.”  The crowd in the courtroom and at home sat up straight.  There it was; the case everyone had expected.  “My client,” he continued, “was unlawfully incarcerated, and he is owed an apology by The United States of America.”  The crowd nodded its approval.  Sitting directly behind the President, the Governor of Mississippi, Theodore G. Bilbo smiling from his shoulderboard, pumped his fist proudly.  It was nice to see a Mississippi boy take it to the feds, even if it was in a losing cause.  There was no way Silas was going to walk out of court a free man; not when a 450 million dollar deal for a shoulderboard factory in Issaquena County was on the line.  A rebel like Silas could ruin everything.

“Mr. Stalwart,” said Judge Summit, Judge Greg Mathis looking very serious from his shoulderboard, “first, you are out of line, and second, the 32nd Amendment applies to incarceration for opinions and does not apply to this case.  The defendant has been charged with the treasonable act of refusing to wear his shoulderboard in direct violation of the Disassociation Act.  His opinion is of little concern to this court.”

“Oh,” Bobby Joe said, and he and Clarence Darrow sank into his chair next to Silas.

“Oh,” gasped the crowd.  They had not seen that coming.

The judge stared Bobby Joe into his seat, and then turned his attention to Silas.  “Mr. Washington, will you please rise?” he said.  Silas stood.  As his attorney, Bobby Joe halfway stood, decided better and sat down, thought better of sitting, and started to stand again.  The judge watched him a moment.  “Mr. Stalwart, please make up your mind to either stand or sit?”

“If it pleases your Honor,” Bobby Joe said, “I sure would like to stand with my client.”

“Then I would sure like for you to stand with your client, Mr. Stalwart,” said the judge.  “Just be quick about it.”  Bobby Joe stood, towering over Silas.  “Mr. Washington,” the judge continued, “do you understand why you are here today before this court?”

“Yes, sir,” Silas said, “because you people won’t let me be.”

Judge Summit and Mathis smiled.  “And, what would you like for this court to let you be?” he asked.

Silas held his chin high.  “Alone,” he said.

From the back of the room, Jessie, Silas’s second cousin on his mama’s side, who had a 3D image of Dolly Parton smiling sweetly from her shoulderboard, yelled, “You tell’em cus!” The courtroom erupted with laughter.

Summit and Mathis frowned with remarkable synchronization.  The gavel pounded the sound block several times to restore order.  “If there is another outburst like that, I will clear this courtroom!” Summit and Mathis shouted in unison.

“Your Honor,” Bobby Joe said, “if I may speak?”

“Go ahead, Mr. Stalwart.”

“Your Honor,” Bobby Joe said laying a hand on Silas’s shoulder, “as this court and everybody in it and at home can plainly see by my client’s continued refusal to wear his shoulderboard, his ragged appearance, and his lack of clarity to your Honor’s questions, Mr. Washington is not of sound mind or body.  Therefore . . . .”  Silas brushed Bobby Joe’s hand from his shoulder, reached up and grabbed him by the base of his shoulderboard, pulled the much larger man down to his level, and whispered to Clarence Darrow.  Clarence Darrow jerked erect, red faced.  He stared in disbelief at Silas for a moment, and abruptly sat down at the table.

“Mr. Washington,” the judge said, “there will be no secrets or whispering in my courtroom.  What did you say to your attorney?”

“I told him to shut up and sit down,” Silas said.

“That is highly inappropriate,” the judge said.  “Mr. Stalwart is your attorney.”

“Sir, no disrespect intended toward you, but this court is inappropriate, and Mr. Stalwart is not my attorney.  I also told him he was fired.”

Ronald Reagan coughed loudly, and everyone sitting on the first row behind the prosecution table began high-fiving and slapping each other on the back.  Everyone else in the courtroom sat in silence, not believing what had just happened.  Without a lawyer, they knew Silas had probably cheated them of the courtroom drama they came to see.  The judge pounded his gavel to bring the room under control.  “Mr. Washington, are you sure this is what you want to do?” he asked.  “I highly recommend you reconsider.”

“No doubt in my mind,” Silas said.

“As you please, but Mr. Washington, if at any time, you wish to reconsider let me know.”

“I object!” the lead prosecuting attorney, Elrod Gladstone aka Vince Lombardi shouted.

“To what?” asked the judge.

“Your Honor,” Gladstone said, “you can’t let him change his mind later if it suits him.”

Judge Mathis sat back and laughed.  “Yes, I can,” said the judge.  “This is my courtroom, and I’ll do as I please.  Do you understand?”

“Yes sir,” Elrod and Vince said, and sat down quickly.

“Thank you,” said Judge Summit.  “Now let the trial of Mr. Silas Washington on the charges of treason against the United States of America begin.  We will not hold his foolishness to dismiss his attorney against him.”

The judge turned to the prosecution table.  “Mr. Gladstone,” he said, “as lead attorney for the prosecution, the floor is yours.

Elrod Gladstone stood slowly.  He looked at Silas and shook his head sadly.  Walking toward the twelve jurors, he stopped halfway and looked back over his shoulder at Silas and again shook his head sadly.  The jurors watched him intently as he walked from member to member of the jury sitting in the first row of the jury box.  Six times he stopped, looked over his shoulder at Silas, and turned back to the juror to shake his head sadly.  “Your Honor, Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I will not take any more of the court’s time than is absolutely necessary.  Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen, it is the opinion of the prosecution and The United States of America that the defendant is guilty of treason against the United States as outlined by the Disassociation Act, but to avoid a long and costly trial, the prosecution wishes to exercise its protected right of first opinion as promised by the 31st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.”

The judge nodded.  “Mr. Gladstone, I was wondering how long it would take you to get to the bottom line in this case.  Your point, Sir, is well made.  By virtue of the 31st Amendment protecting your right of first opinion, the judgement of this court must rest in favor of the prosecution.  I therefore find the defendant guilty of treason as charged.”

The President was the first to his feet.  He grabbed the Governor of Mississippi, and kissed Bilbo square on the lips.  He then turned to the Governor of North Carolina and lay a fat slobbering kiss on the shoulderboard image of Andy Griffith.   The room was in complete bedlam.  The judge pounded his gavel, but no one heard.  The defense team of Rooselvelt, Jackson, Favre, Clower, and Darrow stared in disgust at Silas, but he looked straight ahead unconcerned.  After several minutes, the room settled down and order was restored.

“Mr. Washington,” the judge said, “do you have anything on behalf of your defense you would like to say before I announce your sentence?”

“Yes, your Honor, I do,” Silas said, and stepped forward to face his judge and jury.  “Your Honor, I am not a treasonable fellow . . . .”  A snicker escaped from the row where the President sat.  “Sir, I believe in the United States of America.  I respect the Constitution of this great nation, and I respect the prosecution’s Constitutional right of first opinion in regard to the verdict in this case.  However, I also have right of first opinion as to how the sentence is determined.  Therefore, Sir, it is my opinion, I should be held harmless of further incarceration or penalty.”

A deep silence hung over the courtroom.  The prosecuting attorneys and the President and his pals looked back and forth at each other not believing what they were hearing.  Judge Summit raised and pounded his gavel.  “Mr. Washington,” he said, “your point, is well made.  By virtue of the 31st Amendment protecting your right of first opinion in the sentencing phase of this trial, sentencing is hereby established as time served without further penalty.  Well done Mr. Washington.  Case concluded.  Good day.”

“You can’t do that!” the Governor of Mississippi shouted jumping to his feet.  “That’s not right!  The right of first opinion can’t be used twice in the same case.”

Judge Summit stopped at the door to his chambers.  “Sir,” he said, “it was used once for the verdict and once for sentencing, which is very permissible under the law you helped write and the Constitution.”

The President turned to the Governor of Mississippi, “I thought you said this was a done deal?  You said your 32nd Amendment was flawless.”

“This doesn’t change anything,” Bilbo sputtered.

“Wrong!  This changes everything” Reagan hissed.  “Andy!” he called after the Governor of North Carolina who was walking to door.  “Andy!  Do I have a deal for you!” Ronnie called, and hustled after the shoulderboard that had just turned to Barney Fife.

 

The heavily influenced government newspapers didn’t know what to print, so they didn’t print the story at all.  The Bureau of Bureaucratic Syphoning, BS for short, hurriedly rushed prepared statements to all the television, radio, and shoulderboard networks, thanking everyone for tuning into the realistic legal docudrama pilot that was scheduled to be broadcast on television in the fall.  A week after the trial, a follow up bulletin was sent out saying the pilot had not lived up to rating expectations and future shows had been canceled.  Three months after the trail, no one remembered the bulletins much less the trial.

Silas continued to refuse to wear the shoulderboard.  Due largely to the misinformation pumped through the networks after the trail, there were no reports of others following his example and casting aside their shoulderboards.  Six months after the trial, he walked outside one morning to pick up the paper from his driveway, and noticed a helicopter just above the tree tops.  “That’s the guy!” yelled a man in the helicopter through a megaphone.  Within seconds, Silas was surrounded by SWAT teams, helicopters, foaming at the mouth dogs, the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security.  Once again, he was arrested and taken away in chains.  The government had decided they could not just let him be.  He screamed, kicked, and shouted his rights under the 32nd Amendment, but this time it didn’t matter, the Mississippi Legislature was back in session, and change was once more in the air.

JL

©Jack Linton, July 17, 2016

Warning Shot Fired at State Educators by Mississippi Legislature

After House Bill (HB) 449 in 2015 and HB 49 in 2016 failed to become law and silence state educators, the Mississippi Legislature may have delivered a coup de gras with the recent passage of HB 1643, Section 44.  Section 44 reads . . .

“None of the funds provided herein may be expended to make payments or transfers to the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. Furthermore, none of the funds provided herein may be expended if any local school district expends any public funds to make payments or transfers to the Association.”

Over the years, the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents (MASS) has been a major education liaison between educators and the Mississippi Legislature.  After July 1, 2016, Section 44 may put an end to that relationship, but as grave as the loss of an association devoted to promoting and improving education may be, the gravest consequence of Section 44 may well be the silencing of educator voices across Mississippi.  By prohibiting payments from public funds to MASS and threatening to withhold state funds to any local district violating Section 44, the legislature fired a warning shot aimed at all state educators.  They sent a strong message that if any educator dares side or speak against them, as some superintendents did during the controversial and heated Initiative 42 campaign in the fall of 2015, there will be consequences to pay.

Bill author, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Herb Frierson, R–Poplarville, made it clear Section 44 of the bill is retaliation for what he called personal attacks against state officials by state school district superintendents during the Initiative 42 campaign.  He said, “When they attack people like that, they’re biting the hand that feeds them, and maybe the next time they need to think about that.”  However, the record supports the problem goes much deeper than Initiative 42.  Prior to the Initiative, House Education Chairman, John L. Moore introduced HB 449 in the 2015 legislative session that threatened to penalize educators $10,000 dollars for exercising their freedom of speech on school related issues.  He renewed his effort to silence educators in the 2016 legislative session when he introduced HB 49, which was basically a repeat of his failed 2015 bill.  The objective of both bills was to silence the voice of educators across the state who spoke in protest against state legislators who refused to honor the law and fully fund education.

Frierson said, “There’s very little trust between the leadership and school administrators and most of it goes back to the 42 campaign.”  He is right; little trust exists between state leadership and educators in general, and the vindictiveness of HB 1643, Section 44 will do nothing to build trust between the two factions.  The distrust between the two, which began long before Initiative 42, will only grow deeper as a result of such pettiness.  This rift began when state legislators repeatedly went back on their word to fully fund MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program), and refused to work and listen to state educators on education issues.  This divide escalated with Initiative 42 when legislators placed an alternative measure on the ballot, which confused the issue and made it difficult at best for the Initiative to pass.  Trust between the two deteriorated further when legislators misled state voters with threats of budget cuts to other agencies if the Initiative passed – cuts that nevertheless became a reality after the Initiative was defeated.

HB 1643, Section 44 was a stroke of political genius.  By taking a less direct route than Moore and embedding the retaliatory action against school superintendents in the appropriations bill, Frierson kept his intentions under the radar as a part of the greater bill.  However, the impact on educators will be everything Moore hoped for, if not more.  Section 44 is most likely a death blow to MASS, and due to fear of reprisals against them, it may likely usher the end of educators speaking out for fairness, integrity, and common sense on education issues.  As Frierson would say, “If it does, it does.”  After all, why should free speech stand in the way of the greater power of the state legislature?

It is ironic some of the exact things the Mississippi leadership detests most about the federal government are forced on Mississippi citizens by the state leadership.  They detest the federal government usurping the power of local government, yet Section 44 tells local school districts how to spend local dollars.  They openly despise Common Core Standards because they argue the federal government bullied schools into using the standards or risk losing federal funds.  Doesn’t Section 44 do the same when it threatens to withhold state funds from local school districts that fail to take part in the legislature’s vendetta against the superintendent’s association?  It appears the Mississippi Legislature may be as power hungry if not more so than the federal government they rail so vehemently against.

Isn’t it also ironic America’s most basic right, free speech, is the right many Mississippi legislators want to strip from state educators?  In the United States of America (Mississippi is a part of the United States), instead of reprisals against free speech, shouldn’t there be reprisals against those who advocate such?  However, retaliation against either side will not resolve this issue.  As Frierson said the issues boil down to trust, and at this time neither the legislature nor state educators trust the other to do their jobs effectively.

After the defeat of Initiative 42, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves spoke about pulling both sides together as a family.  That has not happened.  All anyone needs to do is examine such bills as HB 49 and Section 44 of HB 1643 to see educators are not regarded as family by the state legislature.  If they were family, legislators would be more inclined to listen to them, and not try to silence them.  However, maybe Mr. Reeves’ words were for show only, and what Frierson, Moore and many others in the legislature really want is for educators to prostrate themselves before them.  If so, who is next – small business owners?  Ministers?   Simply put, Section 44 is nothing less than heavy handed tyranny that should scare all Mississippians into waking up!

JL

©Jack Linton, June 4, 2016

A Political Shipwreck: The Scoop on the Presidential Candidates

I cannot remember a time when our choices for President of the United States have been more interesting or sadder.  What makes these candidates so sad is that none of them have the aptitude, desire, courage, or ability to unite America.  It is sad when the good of a political party outweighs the good of the people.  It is sad when a candidate runs for the Presidency without the experience or credentials to lead any nation much less the the most powerful nation on earth.  It is sad when a candidate runs for the Presidency out of a sense of entitlement and historical first.  It is sad when a candidate runs for the Presidency to impose his vision of conservatism and the agenda of one party on the people rather than representing all people equally.  It is sad when a candidate for the Presidency has nothing to offer the people other than a temporary outlet for their frustrations with a bankrupt political system.  It is sad when high school student council elections have more substance and dignity than a Presidential  campaign.  It is sad when the deck of Presidential candidates is filled with nothing but jokers.  It is sad when candidates are reduced to school boy name calling because they have nothing better to say.  It is sad The United States of America has come to this!

I don’t mean to offend, but this is how I see the campaigns for the Presidency:

Observation #1:          So far, the Presidential campaigns have been little more than a study of egomaniacs with more interest in being The President of the United States of American than being The President of the people of the United States of America.

Observation #2:         If the Presidential debates are an indicator of what is to come, we are in for either four more years of unwavering disconnect, or at best a self-promoting president running the country by the seat of his pants.

Observation #3:          A short synopsis of presidential campaigns:

  1. Hillary Clinton runs a campaign based on entitlement;
  2. Bernie Sanders’ runs a campaign based on eliminating the 1% greedy and creating the 99% greedy;
  3. Donald Trump runs a campaign based on how marvelous and rich he is as well as how tall he will build a wall between the United States and Mexico;
  4. Ted Cruz runs a campaign based on a vision of conservatism built in his image; he has yet to understand that America is comprised of both conservatives and liberals with the vast majority falling somewhere in between;
  5. Marco Rubio runs a campaign based on inexperience and school boy good looks;
  6. Ben Carson runs a campaign based on the legend of “these hands,” which is more suited for a USA feel good movie than practical application to running a nation; and
  7. John Kasich runs a campaign based on some solid ideas that no one will give the time of day.

Observation #4:          Democrats seem confident they cannot lose the election as long as they look and act more civilized and presidential than the Republicans, which is not hard to do.

Observation #5:          It is time someone told Hillary Clinton to unsaddle Barack Obama and leave that dead horse in the ditch, or face the possibility of an elephant squatting on her face come January 2017.

Observation #6:          People continue to fall in love with Donald Trump as their choice for the Republican nomination because he has brought new energy to an otherwise bland and broken political machine. If the Democrats don’t find a way to counter that enthusiasm with some gusto of their own, the Republican, Common Joe, love-in for Trump could very well sweep into the White House in 2017.

Observation #7:          The media frenzy and public enthusiasm generated by Republican showboating, excursions into self-love, and the ridiculous seem to play perfectly into the mindset of today’s society.

Observation #8:          The Democrats have two viable candidates for the Presidency – one that might win and one that most likely can’t win.

Observation #9:          The Republicans have five candidates for the Presidency – all card carrying members of the circus sideshow.

Observation #10:          At some point, the Democratic Party may have to decide if the writing is on the wall for Hillary or for the Democratic Party;

Observation #11:        So far, in the Presidential campaigns the more a candidate confirms his love for himself, the higher his ratings soar, which simply proves that Americans struggle to tell the difference between arrogance and substance

Observation #12:        People dismiss Bernie Sanders as  Socialist, but at least he stands for something.  What do any of the others truly stand for?  The only other candidate who is even close to being steadfast in what he believes is Ted Cruz, and he speaks almost solely for conservatism molded in his image.  Hillary Clinton is riding on the coat tails of her husband and Brack Obama; she has probably never had an original thought in her life.  Donald Trump talks out both sides of his mouth and reverses himself more often than the wind.  Marco Rubio can’t get out of a rut whether it is repetitive talking points or name calling; how far will either get him when he is sitting across the table from Putin or North Korea.  There is no doubt Ben Carson is a smart man, but how much respect can a man who struggles to keep his eyes open,  constantly wrings his hands, and speaks with little authority command in the nation and around world.  Finally, John Kasich may make the best sense of all the candidates, but unfortunately, he doesn’t have the Presudential look and swagger to carry him to the White House.

Of course, these are simply my observations, but I honestly believe most people will agree that the current political climate in the United States reeks of mental disorder and a bad television sitcom.  The dribble the Democrat and Republican candidates are presently feeding the American people is a disgrace to all Americans.  To date, the candidates for the Presidency of the United States have run campaigns that are self-serving at best.  They have effectively turned their parties and the Presidential election into a world wide spectacle of what is wrong with America.  I am sad to think the Presidency has become a joke for late night television and the world.  If that offends anyone, please encourage your favorite candidate to prove me and more likely millions of other Americans who feel the same way, wrong.  Forgive me, if I do not hold my breath while waiting.  I don’t mean to offend, but . . . .

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD     February 24, 2017