Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wisconsin Congressman Scraping By On His Salary

by Dick Mac

Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) did what many elected officials do these days: he went out to talk to his constituents.

As a Republican, I think he expected a lovely little tea party where folks listened to him whip-up their fears of socialism, brown people, abortion, and homosexuality, and that they would feed it right back to him. Tea parties these days are as predictable as cucumber sandwiches and petit fours.

Oddly, this one didn't go according to plan, even in Wisconsin, the land of the free and the home of the brave. I would expect a Republican congressman to get a warm welcome in Wisconsin, and what transpired is surprising.

Congressman Duffy engaged in a conversation with a constituent who was miffed that Duffy earns $174,000 a year representing his district, triple what this constituent earns.

Duffy then made the mistake of telling the truth: he has trouble making ends meet as he scrapes by on $174,000.

A video of the exchange has been posted and the congressman insists that it was edited to be out of context and that his statement that he would be willing to cut his salary was eliminated. However, his willingness to cut his salary by 5% is included in the video.

Republicans believe, however, that if they say it was wrong then everyone will believe it must be wrong, and Fox News will help them change reality so they can weasel out of their situation.

I don't think it's working this time.

Like all Republicans, Duffy feels entitled to this outrageous salary. Somehow, in the weird world of phoney conservatism, rich white guys deserve their salaries, but working-class people of any color need to have their workplace protections eliminated, their collective bargaining criminalized, their unions abolished, and their pay gotten under control.

Not the Congressman's, though!

He'll agree to a 5% cut as long as everyone else does. So, he'll sacrifice $17,400 of his salary (leaving him with $156,600) and someone making $35,000 will be expected to sacrifice $1,750. The Congressman is not getting hit nearly as hard as the poor guy; but because he feels entitled to his version of the American Dream and the rest of us are not, the taxpayer is supposed to continue paying him while slashing funds for teachers, firefighters, librarians, trash collectors, et al.

So How Rich Is Sean Duffy? Not Very...For A Congressman; but listen to his wife brag about having fresh fish flown-in to serve sushi in Wisconsin for the family holiday party!

One lump or two?

Drink Up!

by Dick Mac

I have enjoyed many drinks in many bars over the course of many years. I have paid hundreds of dollars for a bottle of liquor in a hotel, I have paid silly amounts for snifters of very old cognac, I have watched in horror as others order premium vodka in a Bloody Mary. I have over-tipped a bartender or cocktail waitress for being attractive, smart, or flirtatious. I have drunk more champagne than necessary during a dinner that had started out as a modest meal. At one time in the late 1980s, I had been spending so much money in a restaurant in the Back Bay of Boston that the managers started comping my food.

Perhaps my favorite personal story of over-spending on booze took place in 2003. Mrs. Mac and I were hosting Thanksgiving for twelve people. We decided that two cases of wine (24 bottles) should be sufficient, knowing that some guests would also bring wine, and there was always a supply of champagne on-hand should we run out.

I went to my local booze dealer and picked out four bottles each of six different wines, three red and three white. I relied on the proprietor to guide me because, well I don't know as much about wine as I would like to think, and it had been some time since I personally made this large a wine purchase for a dinner party. I thought I did an excellent job of getting all the wine for about $700 (more or less) (OK, more than seven hundred).

Our guests raved about the wines, the selection, and the quality. I was pleased.

Next day I learned that Mrs. Mac was not happy at the bill for the wine. The following Thanksgiving she went to her booze dealer, purchased the same amount of wine, and spent less than $250. Oddly, our guests were equally impressed by the selection and quality of the wines.

My point? I have, at times, wasted money on booze. Lots of money.

I felt better about my past experiences when I learned that there is a bar in New York City that charges $2-$4 more for a drink served with ice. It actually appears on your tab: "Rocks: $2.00"!

The bar insists it is because they use more liquor in a drink "on the rocks" than when served neat. I don't think this is news to anyone. I thought that bars and restaurants calculated their pricing based on X number of drinks per bottle, and that ice, spillage and the occasional over-pour were taken into consideration at that time. I guess not!

It has made for some amusing publicity:

The Darby charges for extra for drinks served ‘on the rocks’; Should bars charge more for ice?


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rebecca Black - Friday - Music Video

by Dick Mac

A vanity production studio in Los Angeles was hired to create a project for a young lady who wants to become a professional singer. Her mother paid a few thousand dollars and the girl was offered a selection of songs to choose from, and then a single and video would be made.

These studios have been around as long as the music business itself. I had seen LPs produced by these hit factories and they can be pretty depressing looking. They were all created from the same very dull template, probably designed in the mid-1960s when commercial pop music made the most dramatic transformation of its half-century-odd history, with a boring "modern" font

I think the name of the studio in Boston was Ace or Acme or AAA or one of those cartoon-ish names used by fly-by-night companies; only this wasn't a fly-by-night company. Area studio musicians were employed to record your album with you, and you did get a stack of LPs to stick in your trunk and give to all your friends and family.

These businesses have become more sophisticated, and in bigger markets they are required to be higher quality to compete for business.

Rebecca Black, a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles, wanted to make a single and a video. Her mother hired ARK Music Factory for the project. She was offered two songs by the in-house songwriters. She selected "Friday," which is an age-appropriate pop song in the vein of modern pop music a la Justin Bieber, et al.

The song is inane, but no more inane than most other pop songs. The production quality is actually quite high, much better than I would expect from a vanity recording studio. The video is sophomoric and would fit perfectly into the music video television play list of any television network.

The song was released online and the video was posted to

In one week it received three million views! Comments flooded the page and the phenomena of Rebecca Black's "Friday" took flight.

There was a lot of criticism of the song, some of it valid and obvious, some of it downright ridiculous. Some of the posts were hostile and cruel, and that's what I don't like: people wishing her ill and hoping she hurt herself or got hurt.

So, the whole thing has become part of the national (international?) dialog. Much of the dialog is ridiculous. I know, because I've participated in it.

I decided to support this 13-year-old singer and I downloaded the track from iTunes or Amazon, and I have watched the video.

Perhaps you should to:

Buy it here

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Law Firm Advertising

by Dick Mac

I have worked in law firms for almost thirty years. During that time law firms began advertising and sponsoring public event and institutions. The former has been tacky, at best, and the latter has actually been somewhat beneficial for all involved.

Prior to this, it was long held that law firms shouldn't advertise. It seems some people think that advertising would jeopardize the integrity and prudence of the industry.

If I was a lawyer who cared about the reputation of my industry, I would side with the people who say that law firms shouldn't advertise.

Law firm advertising stands alongside weight-loss programs, household tools to replace buttons and remove stains, and fitness equipment in the advertising arena. Law firm advertisements are shown late at night, when larger, more reputable industries cannot be bothered to advertise. There's your nationwide litigation firm asking if you've been injured or suffered at the hands of a professional who is not a lawyer, promising you boatloads of money and alternately showing heart-tugging photos of sad scenarios and photos of middle-aged, well-dressed white men presented as your knight in shining armor.

No, there is nothing sophisticated about law firm advertising, it's pretty cheesy.

Critics of law firm advertising both in the legal industry and outside it, also fear that lawyers using deceptive advertising practices will further injure the precarious reputation of the entire industry. Nobody like lawyers; it seems that other lawyers don't even like lawyers. In fact, the best lawyer jokes I've heard were told to me by lawyers.
Q: What do you call a ditch filled with dead lawyers?

A: A good start.
or this one:
Q: What's the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?

A: One is a bottom-feeding scum-sucker, and the other is a fish.
And they go from there.

When you have an industry that suffers a horrible reputation, even at its best of times, the last thing you need is deceptive advertising.

Come now, Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern, a law firm with offices in the Empire State Building, that actually uses . . . are you ready for this . . . the World Trade Center memorial as the banner of its website, and posts WTC victim-related information right on its front page:

So, in an effort to sink below the lowest piece of whale shit on the planet, this company is capitalizing on the crimes at the World Trade Center that killed three thousand people almost ten years ago.

The URL for their website is! That's right: WTC Hero! Adding the 877 telephone area code just increases the sleaze factor!

If that isn't creepy enough, they recently created and published an ad (now removed from rotation) depicting a dirty, though rather handsome, fireman holding a framed picture of the WTC ruins and stating "I was there":

Well, that fireman was NOT there, and the law firm had, or allowed, its advertising agency Barker/DZP to doctor the picture. Originally, this was a picture of a firefighter holding his helmet, and the agency cropped out the helmet to insert the photo of the WTC.

Are you feeling grossed-out yet?

It gets better!

When the law firm came under fire for the advertisement, it didn't just remove it, they then went so far as to try and defend themselves by posting the model's signed release on their website; on the front page of their website! See the picture above of the firm's website with the WTC memorial lights and red headline about respiratory illnesses and you can see that they have posted "Robert Keiley's signed model release." This is in an effort to deflect criticism by the model that they cropped his image and made him look bad in the law enforcement and public safety communities.

Everything that lawyers feared could happen when law firms advertise is happening right here. The lawyers made a poor choice of advertising campaigns, they are exploiting for profit the pain of those who have suffered and are unable to advocate for themselves, they are promoting themselves with that pain, they are outright lying about their services, and now they are blaming the model in their advertisement in an effort to deflect responsibility.

These guys bring the reputation of all lawyers to a new low.

Here is the apology from the ad agency, in which they refer to this as a "mistake": U.S. agency apologizes over 9/11 ad mistake

See, also, New York law firm, advertising agency under fire over 9/11 ad.

Monday, March 28, 2011


by Dick Mac

A friend took me to see USA v Argentina at the New Meadowlands Stadium Saturday night.

Argentina is a very exciting team to watch, so loaded with talent that when one of their star players is injured, there are plenty of stars behind him to pick-up the slack.

Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world today, is Argentinian. With his club, FC Barcelona, on break to accommodate a week of international matches, he was dressed in the familiar blue and white strip of his national team.

Carlos Tevez, one of the best players in the English Premier League and a striker for Manchester City FC, is nursing an injury and was unable to play. I don't think he even made the trip to New York.

Led by manager, Sergio Batista, Messi and his teammates spent the first half conducting a clinic in passing. The ball went from player to player with ease as Argentina moved the ball into the US end regularly and with ease. Esteban Cambiasso scored in the 42nd minute and the first half ended that way: USA 0-1 ARG.

Messi was joined by Captain Javier Mascherano, who played in England for a number of years but is now with his fellow countryman at Barcelona, Javier Zanetti, who has enjoyed a long career at Internazionale (Milan), Nicola Burdisso, who played a number of years at Inter and is now at Roma, Gabriel Milito also of Barcelona FC, the young Marcos Rojo playing at Sparta Moskow, Ever Banega, who plays for Boca Juniors in Buenos Aries, a shaven-headed Esteban Cambiasso, of Inter Milan, the amazing young Angel di Maria from Real Madrid, Ezequiel Lavezzi, who plays at Naapoli (Naples), and goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, who plays at Catania.

The Argentinian goalkeeper did not see much action in the first half.

The USA made a key substitution in the second half, bringing in young 18-year-old Juan Aguedelo, who hails from Red Bull New York, having been brought up through the RBNY academy. Aguedelo appears much older than his years as his level of maturity surpasses many of his teammates' and almost all of the Argentinians.

In fact, the Argentinian side is very baby-like with lots of drama and whining, and as most of them are of Italian descent, it is often more like watching an opera than a sporting event. I tire of the histrionics and am offended more deeply when an American behaves that way.

Agudelo was joined by captain Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Oguchi Onyewu (Twente, on loan from AC Milan), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver, of MLS), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn), Maurice Edu, (Rangers, Scotland), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles, MLS), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor, on loan from Villareal), and goalkeeper Tim Howard (Everton). USA is coached by Bob Bradley.

Aguedelo scored in the 59th minute to bring the score even and fill me with pride as he played along with other New York products, Altidore, Howard, and Bradely, and his current RBNY teammate, Tim Ream, who did not see action in this match.

Although Argentina dominated the first half, this was not true in the second half and the boys in blue and white resorted to quite a bit of diving and exaggeration as the USA player began to connect passes and make runs at the goal.

Try as they might, Argentina could not score another goal. Even with Messi dragging three American defenders around the box with him and still managing to get shots off his foot, the match ended in a 1-1 draw (which might be deemed a victory for the USA).

It was below freezing most of the match and there was no tailgating for us.

If you have never been to an international soccer match, I recommend it. The sell-out crowd of 79,000+ fans at the Meadowlands all had a great time and some day you should join us.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Remembering Kurt Vonnegut (briefly)

by Dick Mac

As a teenager I read Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s work voraciously, and into my twenties I continued buying his books.

I was at this morning, and I now forget what I was looking for, when I stumbled on this old post from LiberalViewr about Vonnegut's death.

I had no idea that any American broadcast outlet, even Fox News, would air remarks like this about an American writer held in relatively high esteem; especially upon his death.

Then I remember: oh, yeah, it's Fox News, it's not American, it's Australian!

How low will these foreign news agencies go to trash America? Leave it to Australian Rupert Murdoch, and his traitorous minion, Roger Ailes, to destroy anything that is good about America.

My sincerest apologies to my Australian friends, who I suspect are relieved that Murdoch makes his home in New York City. Not all Australians are evil; only the ones like Rupert Murdoch.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm Not Sure That This Was News

by Dick Mac

Everyone knows that Fox News lies, fabricates stories, and distorts reports. Even friends and colleagues who watch Fox News say they know Fox News lies about current events, but they find it totally entertaining and will not stop watching.

These people I know are smart people, so I accept that they consume the Fox News products as entertainment, and then get actual information elsewhere.

Sadly, there are not-so-smart people who watch Fox News and they don't know that most of what they are watching is Orwellian at best (they wouldn't actually even know what that means), and outright dishonest at worst. Even scarier are the people who do know better but are so emotionally invested in America's movement of hate and selfishness, that they have actually begun to believe the lies.

It has been reported by Fox News that their reporters and other journalists in Libya were used as human shields by the Gaddahfi government, to prevent the allies from bombing certain strongholds.

This was totally believable, and I had no reason to disbelieve the story. I think other regimes have done this to foreigners in the past and it will likely happen again in the future. Fox News reporting this falls into the category of "a stopped clock is correct twice a day."

Then CNN aired the report Nic Robertson: Not A Human Shield, in which Robertson states clearly that this story was not true.

So, although it is not news that Fox News lies, it is interesting that an actual journalist has said so, aloud.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lawrence O'Donnell and Glenn Beck

by Dick Mac

Buffoonery is one of my favorite traits in public figures and private leaders. In America, we have plenty of both and buffoonery is rampant.

My favorite spat between public figures today is the disagreement about the validity of the Book of Revelation, that section of the Bible that anti-semitic right-wing "christians" like to throw around as fact, whereas descendants of those who wrote it see it not as historic reality, but a tool for moral teaching.

Glenn Beck, a Mormon who claims to be religious, believes that Revelation is a road map; that it is the basis for piety and goodness, and its predictions that the world will end in your lifetime must be embraced word for word.

Lawrence O'Donnell, a Catholic who does not claim to be particularly religious but has twelve years of religious training under his belt, says it is a collection of stories from which readers can derive lessons, morality, and a sense of the awesome power of God.

I believe that most of the Bible, especially those chapters referred to by Christians as the Old Testament, is a collection of stories and anecdotes meant to challenge readers to become better people. I do not believe the Old Testament is a historical writing documenting the beginning and end of humanity. When Jesus speaks in the New Testament, in the Gospels, he speaks in parable. He tells stories meant to challenge the listener to think about right and wrong and make a decision based on good moral standing. I think most of the Bible should be taken in this manner.

Glenn Beck makes his money scaring people. He is very good at it. He scares people about socialism, and non-religious people, and blacks, and homosexuals, and the poor, and the sick, and the old, and the lazy, and the hard-working.

O'Donnell says that Revelation is not fact, that it is fiction. Beck says that makes O'Donnell's employer MSNBC the most anti-religious network on television.


Well, I read the Bible pretty regularly because it is quoted so often in modern political debate, usually by the enemies of America: the right-wing and their tea partiers.

I pretty much always disagree with the tea partiers' interpretation of biblical writings, because they use it to further campaigns of hate and intolerance (then they say those who reject their intolerance are intolerant), which I don't think was the intention of the writers.

Anyway, last night I stumbled on a rebroadcast of O'Donnell's show while channel surfing, just on time to see this:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Good Year For The Roses, by George Jones

by Dick Mac

I just can't get this song out of my head!

For his sixth release, Elvis Costello made "Almost Blue," a country record on which he sang a collection American standards and gems. "A Good Year For The Roses" was one of them.

Before the album was released, I managed to get my hands on the import single of this song backed with another George Jones song "Your Angel Steps Out Of Heaven" on f-Beat records.

This began my interest in George Jones. I knew him as Tammy Wynette's husband, and not a very good husband at that. Now I wanted to know about his songs. The discography is impressive and he has performed with some of the the great names of country and pop music.

Produced by Billy Sherrill, Elvis' "Almost Blue" is performed, sung and recorded as a classic country record: no tricks, no new wave dandiness, just plain old American country music. A link to his MP3 of this song is in the carousel below.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spending Money: Evil or Stupid

Stupid or Evil?  Libyans burn a US Dick Mac

There is a misconception among people who call themselves "conservative" that those who do not call themselves "conservative" are opposed to America, our Constitution, our defense, and our very way-of-life.

In reality, the opposite is generally true: those who call themselves "conservative" often have absolutely no idea how the Constitution works and what it says, or what America has meant to the planet for the past seventy-five years, or how the world would look if we "went back to the original" meaning of everything they use to slander non-"conservatives" (the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Bible, etc.).

My experience is that all Americans support the defense of our country, its legal documents, and our way of life. Unfortunately, those things are different for different people, always have been, always will be. These differences are alive and need to be nurtured not quelled.

There was no unanimity about the Constitution at the time of its ratification. In fact, the vote to ratify the Constitution lost in Rhode Island, and won ratification by only a handful of votes in a number of states. So, the patriots that won, shaped, and formed did not agree about how the Constitution should exist. Similarly, the Bible was written by a few guys who had some ideas, and various Churches have changed it to suit their needs over the centuries. These documents were and are shaped by the societies in which they exist. Eighteenth Century America was very different from Twenty-First Century America, and we can't go back.

As a non-"conservative" I understand that taxes need to be collected and spent for many different things that have made the United States the protector and arbiter of Western Civilization. Those who would say that money can't be spent the way we've been spending it seem to think that we will maintain our place at the lead of the West and can also refuse to spend the money that keeps us there.

It is not just military might that keeps us at the head of the pack; it is also our growth and sophistication as a society, the nurturing of ideas, and the progress made by our thinkers and scholars (not our television stars and nationally treasured drug addicts). By spending money on military strength we are able to defend our allies and weaker neighbors, which keeps them beholden to us, keeps us ahead of them, keeps us in charge. By spending money on infrastructure, we become the envy of our neighbors, ally and enemy alike; and by eliminating poverty and illiteracy, we create a society that makes the United States the premier destination for everyone looking for a better way of life.

These things work together.

Military might can't exist without infrastructure, and infrastructure can't exist without smart people to develop, maintain, and improve it.

One hundred years ago, people came to this country for a better way of life. Today, people do the same thing.

Seventy-five years ago, we became the most powerful military in the world, which made out country safe for people to come here.

When immigrants got here, we had a society worth building.

Today, "conservatives" would have us continue spending billions on the military and nothing on infrastructure and society. Note that we spend $10,000,000,000 (ten billion dollars) per month on the war in Afghanistan, but don't seem to have the money to pay for our municipal janitors' retirement fund. We can lob $68,000,000 worth of missiles into Libya in the matter of a few hours, but we don't have the money for firehouses, community health centers, or a public broadcasting company.

So we have to topple Gaddafhi. Fine. This will ensure that a small number of Texans (the most un-American people in the country) control even more of the world's oil. We are spending the money to help US industry. We are spending a lot of money doing it. I am OK with that.

We should also be spending money on our schools, teachers, firefighters, janitors, streets, parks, airports, communications, and education. And we should be spending more money, not less, as time goes by. And the billionaires who benefit from our military overthrowing Libya should pay more taxes than a street-sweeper - a lot more.

No matter how much the "conservatives" want to believe we can have a powerful military without a powerful society, they are wrong. And those who persist with this reasoning are, like the people in the picture above, either evil or stupid. You decide.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stepping Up To The Plate

by Dick Mac

I have been awe-struck by the magnitude of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The destruction is immense, the stories tragic, remarkable and uplifting, all at the same time.

Japan is the only nation to have been attacked with nuclear (well, atomic) weapons, so the idea that they might experience another destructive explosion of that magnitude is sad and scary.

At the end of WWII, as Japan was drenched in radioactive fallout, there was very little international travel, so except for the winds and perhaps some ocean-going vessels, there was little chance for the radiation to be carried anywhere.

Nowadays, there are jets flying in and out of Japan on a regular basis and we do not yet really know what levels of radiation they carry to their destinations. Time will tell.

It is at times like this that most Americans stand-up to be counted. We tend to give more of ourselves when others are in need.

I liked this news story:

Hollywood has made plenty of disaster movies, but the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan is no fiction and the entertainment industry has responded to the dire situation there with generosity.

Oscar winner Sandra Bullock became the latest to join the cause when the American Red Cross said on Thursday that she had given $1 million to help victims of the disaster in Japan.

Several other celebrities and Hollywood studios have also pledged support to the nation.

Charlie Sheen, the embattled Hollywood bad boy, is donating $1 per ticket for all his upcoming live stage shows to the Red Cross.

Pop star Lady Gaga designed a bracelet for Japan relief and within 48 hours it raised $250,000, with sales ongoing.

Singer Katy Perry is donating sales of glow sticks on her concert tour to Red Cross relief in Japan.

Earlier this week, the Walt Disney Co donated $2.5 million to the American Red Cross for humanitarian efforts in Japan, and it also said it would match employee donations up to a total of $1 million.

The Warner Bros studio has pledged DVD and Blu-ray sales of its movie "Hereafter" to Red Cross efforts in Japan.

The donation by Bullock stands out as one of the biggest donations by a single Hollywood star.

The American Red Cross, which earlier this week announced an initial contribution of $10 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society, said it was "extremely grateful" to Bullock and her family for the gift.
Bullock joins Hollywood pack in aid to Japan (Reuters - Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

It's wonderful that so many people are stepping up to the plate during this incredible disaster. Even Charlie Sheen!

I am attending a benefit concert by Sonic Youth, Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, and others. Every penny is going to aid Japan. Nobody is taking money from the ticket sales, not the performers, the theater, the workers, nor publicists. I am lucky to live in New York City where an event like this is taking place.

There may be an event for you to attend in your area. If not, there are certainly plenty of charitable organizations that can get your money to those who need it most.

We can only hope and pray that things stabilize. That the nuclear power plant can be brought under control, that those freezing and hungry in the North will be sheltered and fed, and that Japan can rebuild without completely bankrupting their already fragile economy.

Please consider a donation to Doctors Without Borders/Medicines Sans Frontieres. At this time they are using unrestricted donations to fund efforts in Japan. They are not accepting donations specifically earmarked for the recovery efforts in Japan, at this time.

Donate to the DWB/MSF Response to Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And All This Time We Thought It Was The Players Who Were The Problem

by Dick Mac

Professional sports has become a joke in America. You can barely witness any athleticism for the commercial interruptions. And if displays of skill, prowess, and acumen are being displayed, they are interrupted every eight minutes for the insertion of a commercial, due to contractual obligations not to the ticket-holders but to the broadcasters.

The contract between team and ticket holder (both explicit and implied) means nothing anymore, because the ticket holder is just a consumer and must rely on the vagaries of the marketplace and the rule of caveat emptor. The contract between the team and the broadcaster, on the other hand, is treated like the eleventh commandment, the missing amendment on the Bill of Rights, or a blessed page directly from the handwritten diaries of Ayn Rand.

Never shall a single second of commercial advertising be missed, even if it means the winning goal, shot, hit, or touchdown is pre-empted so you can watch (for the thirtieth time this evening) about the latest in erectile dysfunction, watery beer, or douche bags.

The popular notion about the onslaught of advertising in sport broadcasts is that the incredible rise in player salaries means that the teams must make more and more money. It's always the staff, the players, the workers, whose salaries are the problem. It's never the 8- or 9-figure salary collected by the CEO, it's the twelve bucks an hour for the sweeper and the million-dollar contract for the point guard.

The Tea Party, which is funded by the guys earning 8- and 9-figure salaries, and their mouthpieces at Fox News, have most of middle class America furious over the salaries of people nowhere near the top of the food chain, and the party supporters will tell you that it is unthinkable to discuss the remarkable salaries of the few guys at the top.

In order to support the vulgar salaries at the top of the economic food chain, the organization must make sacrifices. Never is the CEO's hundred million dollar salary up for discussion, it's the employee's health care or the 35-year usher's retirement fund. Even lower management isn't safe. If cutting the health care benefits of lower- and middle-management means protecting the CEO's salary and the EOY ROI of the owners, then the manager can go without top-notch health care and the floor sweepers can . . . well. . . who really care about them anyway.

Team owners reap untold social welfare benefits: tax-exemptions, free water and sewer services, free security and infrastructure support from the municipality, often free rent in a government-owned or operated facility. These are the real welfare queens of America: the rich. These are the people not satisfied with their personal success, they demand that the government (that is, you and me) give them even more, because that is somehow patriotic or the American way. Allowing children to be homeless, hungry and uneducated seems to be, by Tea Party standards, also the patriotic thing to do.

Sports teams are of particular interest to me, because they bring no benefit to a community, yet they demand untold financial aid, tax loopholes, and government benefits all at the expense of the taxpayer. This would be less egregious if they were good neighbors and good employers. They are neither.

I owned a condominium near Fenway Park for many years, and I can tell you that the owners of Fenway Park were horrible neighbors. Even with the gazillions of dollars of government subsidies and free services, they are unable to figure out how to be a good neighbor. Why? That might cut into profits and, after all, being a good neighbor isn't patriotic, ensuring profits is the patriotic thing to do.

Sports teams are not good employers, either. A very tiny percentage of the organization is well-paid, and the CEO is often paid dramatically more than them; but the majority of the staff is paid at minimum wage or just above it, receive no benefits and work seasonally. This is hardly the kind of employer our tax dollars should subsidize!

One particular sports team lives rent-free in the Staples Center, in Los Angeles and is owned by a very successful businessman, Donald Sterling. Mr. Sterling has the means to live very well and his enterprises earn enough money for the employees to be paid well and receive top-notch benefits.

As you might expect, this is not the case.

Mr. Sterling had an employee who worked as a manager in his organization. The manager was well-paid and received health benefits. Like most of us that pay for health insurance, however, this manager's insurance didn't cover him when he was really sick.

For want of seventy-thousand dollars (less than one night's rent at the Staples Center which his employer uses rent-free), this guy was going to miss the medical treatment that would save his life.

Mr. Sterling was unable to find any way to help his employee. The organization paid his salary and provided his insurance and that was that.

Well, this is true. Mr. Sterling and the Clippers organization had done everything that they were required to do. To expect them to do any more implies that we expect people to care about each other.

Mr. Sterling was by no means required to assist his employee, even though the employee was fairly high-ranking in the organization and the employee's skills very much defined the ability of the team to earn more and more money. No, the Clippers had no obligation beyond what was already done.

So, this manager for the team would lose his job as he became ill, and he would die, and his employer would continue profiting from free rent and tax breaks, free municipal service and security, access to the tax payers' infrastructure, and a replacement would be found for the dead guy.

Hey, that's America.

And would you expect anything else from the NBA, a league that brings the notion of criminal and sociopathic behavior to a new level? No, of course not. Most of us have pretty negative opinions about basketball players off-the-court. We are force fed stories about the criminal activity of athletes like Ron Artest and Michael Jordan, men whose crimes range from the simple and quaint to the violent and outrageous.

In this story, however, four NBA players, employees of the Los Angeles Clippers, took action, intended to remain private and secret, that would save the life of a man their employer had dismissed as unworthy of further assistance.

Corey Maggette, Marko Jaric, Chris Kaman and Elton Brand all chipped in to pay the seventy-thousand dollars their supervisor needed to live.

Mr. Sterling did nothing.

The rich, especially the owners of America's industry, financial institution, and entertainment conglomerates, are not required to help anyone but themselves.

And those of us who think they should, perhaps, chip in a little more, are called socialists and liberals and are treated by America's stupid with disdain.

Well, Mr, Sterling represents everything that is wrong with America: the rich are only expected to get richer and people at the bottom (or even in the middle) can just go fuck themselves! This is America and if you can't make it on your own in a system that's rigged against you, then too fucking bad!

This is America having a tea party.

One lump or two?

Players chip in to save coach’s life after Clippers decline medical coverage

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hear Me Roar

by Dick Mac

My car has a CD player. Instead of playing entire albums, I like to make mixed CDs that include a variety of musical styles. Generally I do not include classical, opera, or jazz instrumental cuts on these CDs because they are not always the most enjoyable driving sounds. My desktop jukebox makes 80- minute random mixes based on some vague criteria that excludes the above-mentioned genres, songs that have already been put on a CD, or songs that have been marked as "adult."

So the songs, artists, and genres are pretty diverse.

This morning's CD included "I Am Woman," by Helen Reddy.

I remember when I first heard this song in the Autumn of 1972. I went with a group of Catholic girls to a birthday party for one of their classmates. So, there were going to be a lot of Catholic girls there and that sounded like a good party to me!

The birthday girl lived in newly constructed public housing deep into Roxbury. This development was not near a subway stop and the buses that ran in the area only ran at rush hour. So, we took the subway to a stop we rarely used, found a pay phone, called the girl, and huddled in the freezing cold awaiting the arrival of a car that would take us the rest of the way.

The party was amusing, but heavily chaperoned. Eventually we got to the gift-opening phase of the party. There were the pieces of costume jewelry, posters for the bedroom wall, t-shirts, assorted accessories and school supplies, then the best part. The best gifts I ever received or watched someone else receive during my childhood: the 45 RPM singles. Seven-inch pieces of vinyl magic that would transform the dankest dullest saddest day into a Hollywood production. The selection was rather dismal, mostly Top 40 crapola including a record that most of the girls were quite excited about: "I Am Woman," by Helen Reddy.

It went right on the record player and everyone stood in total silence listening to the song. I had one of my regular experiences of misheard lyrics when I heard "I am white, I am invincible, I am woman."

I thought this was a rather odd line in a song. And why were all these girls, many of whom were not even remotely white, singing gaily along with the singer?

Some other songs played, conversation was had. I don't remember any dancing. I finally got some time with the birthday girl, who was floating from the excitement of it all. I was floating from a half-tab of acid I'd taken as soon as we arrived. She was turning sixteen, and as a 14-year-old I was just a little kid to her. So, she deigned to speak to me with her eyes looking everywhere but at me. I didn't really care one way or the other, I was having fun and would talk to anyone. I could barely understand what they were saying anyhow with the buzz of an acid trip rumbling at the base of my brain. The song stopped and somebody changed the record and it was "I Am Woman."

Suddenly, it seemed, all the girls seemed to know all the words and were singing along. It was really fun and thinking back to it, was a rather powerful thing to watch: all these young American women basking in the light of the women's liberation movement, all expressing strong opinions and making big plans for their futures.

When the song ended, I did what what I always do with misheard lyrics, I said out loud to the birthday girl: "I'm surprised so many people like this song when it says "I am white." The birthday girl, who had earlier explained to me that she was one-part Native American, one-part Chinese, one-part Puerto Rican, and one-part black, looked at me with her jaw dropped. She explained: "It's not white, it's WISE!"

Yes, a number of other party-goers heard the conversation and the nervous laughter from all of us was not necessarily an expression of people being amused.

I don't remember what happened next, or how I dispensed with my humiliation, but the party went on, and I chatted with more people, and "I Am Woman" played another dozen times before the end of the party.

On the ride home, I was tripping even harder and the conversation in the car was primarily about this song; and the opinions of 16-year-old Catholic girls about women's liberation was engaging, but not necessarily amusing.

For the rest of the night, that is the rest of my acid trip, the song played over and over in my head. I took a liking to it that would last my entire life, but it was not the kind of music I generally listened to, nor the kind of music my peers expected me to listen to. So, I never owned the record and never played it in my home until almost 20 years later.

In the late 1970s, when some punk bands were remaking pop songs of eras gone by, I would suggest ironically that some boy punk should remake "I Am Woman" and sing it as a really angry girl. It never happened. (But, The Hollywood Brats covered "Then He Kissed Me" which was an excellent consolation prize.)

In the early 1990s, I was in my thirties, I was now working a real job, in a real company, and was fortunate to be surrounded by a wonderful group of co-workers. We made the work fun and we produced a lot of work. "If I have to, I can do anything," became my slogan, and "I Am Woman" became my theme song - the soundtrack of my professional life.

The song has been in light rotation on my stereo and in my brain ever since.

This morning, when it started playing on the car radio, my 7-year-old daughter said, "turn this up, please."

I was thrilled and started singing along. I told her it was one of my favorite songs. I hope it becomes on of hers.

Nearly forty years after first hearing it, I offer you this video of Helen Reddy singing "I Am Woman" on Midnight Special:

Helen Reddy, at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


by Dick Mac

What makes a bully a bully? How does a person become a bully?

My experience is that those who participate in sociopathic or socially retarded behavior generally learned it at home. I do not exclude myself from that gross generalization.

Bullies have often been the victims of bullying by parents or older siblings. Child molesters have often been the victims of childhood sexual abuse. Wife-beaters are often the children of wife-beaters.

This notion is not a fact, of course; but it's a theory that is put forward often and seems to have some credence.

In our cartoonish culture, bullies are often depicted as larger kids picking on smaller kids; but that is hardly a fact. Sometime smart kids victimize those less erudite than them. Kids of a majority ethnicity sometimes bully kids of a minority ethnicity. Older kids sometimes bully younger kids. Adults sometimes demean and bully each other in the workplace. And it goes on.

Those who are bullied often tell stories about plotting revenge that never takes place, wishing that the bullies in their lives meet an accidental, and perhaps gruesome end, or fantasizing that someone smarter/bigger/faster does to the bully what is being done to them, or worse.

And then there are the stories of the victimized who fight back. Boys and girls (or men and women), who turn the tables. Battered women who murder their battering husbands, children who report their abusive parents to authorities, and then this:

Casey Heynes is a big kid, and the story on the Internet is that he was the focus of abuse by his high school classmates. He was the center of attention. He was the big kid that twerps and gang-members used as their target when they needed to prove themselves to each other.

In the following video, a student tries to pick a fight with the gentle giant, Casey, who really doesn't want to have anything to do with him.

This bully is what my friends called a "twerp" when we were in grade school. When looking for a description of a twerp, I found this:
(American colloquial) A small or puny person; one regarded as insignificant, contemptible. Get out of my way, you little twerp!
Wiktionary, the free dictionary

I think this bully is perfectly described by that definition!

The little twerp has at least two friends with him: one who is videotaping the incident and another who appears on camera briefly, but is moved away when he blocks the view. It is possible there are others behind the camera involved also intimidating Casey. Think for a moment what this little twerp was up to: he was videotaping his humiliation of a loner. For what? To show his friends? To post on the web to further humiliate Casey?

Well, see for yourself what happens:

Casey's only defender is a girl who appears on camera as the incident is winding-down. She comes to Casey's aid by blocking one of the twerp's friends from pursuing him.

Now the tables are turned on the little twerp: he is the object of humiliation on the internet. In every country, all over the planet, this little twerp is now the physical embodiment of a loser, a weak little bully who had the tables turned on him.

I hope more victims stand-up to their bullies!

There is an odd tribute page to Casey.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ugly Game

Photo nicked from Arsenal.comby Dick Mac

I have written about my introduction to world-class soccer in the past.

When Mrs. Mac was transferred to London in 2000 and we made a home there, another American expatriate invited us to a soccer match at Highbury, in North London. I was apprehensive, but our friend encouraged me by saying he guaranteed I would have a good time. I had notions of fans stabbing their neighbors in the stands, of missiles being launched at the opponents, and police rounding-up hooligans.

We watched Arsenal beat Manchester City 5-0, and None of that happened, of course. What did happen was that my entire view of soccer was changed. I was hooked, I was a fan. A fanatic!

That day I watching the amazing play of Patrick Vieira, Ashley Cole, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Gilles "Che" Grimandi, Sylvain Wiltord, David Seaman, and Thierry Henry. Their performance helped me understand why soccer is called the beautiful game.

I was now a supporter of the Arsenal, I was now a "gooner"!

I began to read about the Gunners every day. I researched the career of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's manager. He is French, and he had a not-so-illustrious career as a player before becoming a manager in other leagues, which led to his position at Highbury.

He became the manager in 1996, and soon thereafter began recruiting his own players and put his stamp on the Arsenal brand. Many of his decisions were met with suspicion by Arsenal detractors and supporters alike. Wenger hired so many French players (that is, so many top-notch French players), that when France won the World Cup in 1998, one London newspaper proclaimed "Arsenal Win World Cup"!

Truthfully, although there were many French players on Arsenal, there were only two Arsenal players in France's World Cup squad (Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira). Another English club, Chelsea, had just as many players in the France National Team as Arsenal, but you will never hear Chelsea being referred to as a French team.

Wenger built his brand of soccer by hiring the players he liked. He hired more international players (that is, more non-English players) than any other manager in the English Premier League, and Arsenal was the first (and possibly only) English club to ever field a starting line-up with no Englishmen.

It was hard to argue with Wenger's tactics and philosophy, since he was winning a lot.

Wenger developed a strict hiring rule that states no player over the age of twenty-eight would be granted a multi-year contract. Get to 28, and it's year-to-year, even if you're the beloved Thierry Henry. And Wenger's squads know how to move the ball.

Oh, my, do they know how to move the ball. It's almost like ballet. There is always a pass to be completed and there always seem to be multiple players available to receive it. Wenger's game is, most certainly, the beautiful game. Arsenal's grace and style, combined with speed, strength and athleticism bas made for some of the most amazing soccer to be played.

The Wenger style is so amazing, so graceful, so impressive that it is lovely to watch. Even when Arsenal fails to score, their possession of the ball and their ability to move it forward makes watching the team a joy.

When Arsenal decided that Highbury was too small (which it was), and that a new stadium would have to be built, everyone feared the obvious: another top-flight team spending hundreds of millions for a new stadium and accruing debt they will struggle to pay.

The Arsenal board, along with Wenger's acumen, decide to enter an austerity program that allowed them to keep the payroll down, build the stadium, and remain one of top 4 teams in the league.

For those who do not know, those are the "money" spots; teams that end the season in the top four positions are invited to play in the prestigious UEFA Champions League the following year, and that brings the team a lot of money.

As long as Wenger kept the team in the top four, then the lack of silverware might keep the hordes from turning on him.

On top of that, Wenger managed to continue providing beautiful soccer with a lower-budget team than his competitors.

We are a happy lot, we Gooners. Those of us who support Arsenal are fortunate to have such a manager; a man who can see real talent, players who will fit in to his style, and he can develop them into a world-class team without world-famous names.

So, for the past few seasons there has been plenty of beautiful soccer without any silverware.

Suddenly, this season, although in second place in the league, Arsenal seems to be unraveling. The last three matches have been dreadful:

A 0-0 draw with lowly Sunderland in a league match;

a 3-1 drubbing by Barcelona in the Champions league. The match was nowhere near as close as the score might suggest. Arsenal had ZERO shots on goal and it was an own-goal by Barcelona that prevented a shut-out; and

the loss to Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final. This was not just a loss to a lower ranked team, but a humiliation. Arsenal played as if they were possessed by the spirit of a last-place MLS team.

And it is not like we are used to. Usually when the Gunners lose some matches, we can turn to each other, and our detractors, and say: they lost, but their play was beautiful.

The last three games have been losses by an Arsenal team that is playing ugly, losing soccer. No grace, no athleticism, just losses.

I don't know what is happening, but I do know that it must be time to revisit the team's current hiring strategy.

Our backline is horrible, and it is beginning to feel as though Wenger is hiring French players now just because they are French, because they certainly are not up to snuff: Gael Clichy, Bacaray Sagna, and Sebastian Squallaci are from France, and Johan Djourou is from Cote d'Ivorie (which is almost the same as being from France). These four players form what has to be the weakest back line Wenger has ever fielded. I have never complained that players should be of one nationality or another; but this Franco-centric back line is an embarrassment.

To this backline, add a young captain who is focussed not on his squad, but on his future with FC Barcelona, and a weak-kneed and petulant striker, and we have a team that is unable to succeed.

My friend, Liz, sometimes says that Wenger is "losing it." Now I think it must be his mind that he is losing. Even with his reduced spending ability, Wenger must be able to find a decent non-French defender.

Listen to me, I can't believe it! I sound like a Brit, complaining about the French! I have nothing against the French or French players. My point would be the same if the manager and his back line were Americans or Italians playing in England. Wenger has to do something about that back line, and perhaps he needs to search outside of France and its former colonies for a solution.

There are glimmers of joy in the younger players: young Englishmen Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshire and Kieran Gibbs form what could be the foundation of the future. Until the future, something must be done. My Arsenal is playing ugly soccer, and it makes me sad.

On a side note, 1998 France player Youri Djorkaeff played his last two seasons with my Red Bull New York side. It was a joy to have him in the team and it was fun to watch him. We were lucky to have him, even in the twilight of his career.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lance Loud: The Mumps, Crocodile Tears

by Dick Mac

This is the last post of Lance Loud week at Dick Mac (alive!).

Lance Loud was an unexpected star, he jumped at his chance for fame, became a darling of New York City's fashion/glamor/music glitterati, and formed The Mumps with his friend Kristian Hoffman.

Like may gay men of my generation, he contracted HIV and died young.

Here, Lance and The Mumps appear in 1990 at Club Lingerie, in Hollywood, and he sings my favorite of all their songs, "Crocodile Tears."

Lance never had a great voice, but at this point in his life, one might actually call it a bad voice.

The original is still a great song and I recommend downloading it:

Lance Loud, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lance Loud: David Street Interviews Lance Loud and Kristian Hoffman

by Dick Mac

I've been thinking about Lance Loud a lot lately, so this is Lance Loud week at Dick Mac (alive!).

This twenty-two minute video is Lance Loud and Kristian Hoffman, the Mumps, interviewed by David Street. The interview was shot in New York City in 1978.

Lance may not have been the world's best punk singer, he may not have been the world's biggest star, but he gave good interview.

The Mumps: Suitable For All Occasions!

"Have a good time with a conscience."

"We're like bubblegum punk."

"We're not angry, we're interested."

Lance Loud, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lance Loud: "Photogenia" by The Mumps - Music Video

by Dick Mac

I've been thinking about Lance Loud a lot lately, so this is Lance Loud week at Dick Mac (alive!).

Here is a live video shot in New York City sometime in the mid-1970s.

The Mumps were: Lance Loud, Kristian Hoffman, Rob DuPrey, Paul Rutner, and Kevin Keily.

Here they sing Photogenia:

The Mumps, The Official Site

Lance Loud, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An American Family, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Lance Loud: Loud - Music Video

by Dick Mac

I've been thinking about Lance Loud a lot lately, so this is Lance Loud week at Dick Mac (alive!).

With the massive success of An American Family, Lance was the first openly gay television star of all time. Not just a gay character, but an actual post-Stonewall gay man, who'd made it into ten million American homes.

He was outrageous and wonderful. Lance landed in New York City, where he pursued and was eagerly welcomed by Andy Warhol's crowd. He was an avid fan of the Velvet Underground (of course he was), and became a fixture in the burgeoning punk-rock scene.

Lance and three of his siblings formed Loud, with Jay Dee Dougherty (who went on to join The Patti Smith Group) and others.

Lance went on to work with Rob Duprey (who went on to join Iggy Pop) and formed formed The Mumps. But . . . that is for a later post.

Here are Lance, some siblings, and some rock musicians, bringing some punk to Santa Barbara television:

Lance Loud, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An American Family, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monday, March 07, 2011

Lance Loud: Dick Cavett Interview, 1973

by Dick Mac

I've been thinking about Lance Loud a lot lately, so this is Lance Loud week at Dick Mac (alive!).

Here, the 21-year-old Lance appears on the Dick Cavett Show, discussing "An American Family," the show about his family. The show, for better or worse, put Lance and the Loud family on the map in the living rooms of America.

Lance discusses the show, his family, his ambitions, his homosexuality, New York City, his stupidity, and he is, as always, a big flirt.

Lance Loud, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday, March 04, 2011

Comcast And News Corporation Conducted A Poll In February, 2011

by Dick Mac

The evil liberal media, represented here by News Corporation's Wall Street Journal, and Comcast's NBC News, conducted a poll. One hundred Americans were selected to answer questions about the federal deficit, the national debt, people and places.

Murdoch and Comcast used Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who have been conducting this survey since 1989. The current data was collected during February, 2011.

Some criteria needs to be used to select people, and in this particular survey the pollsters interviewed only people who used a cell-phone as their primary telephone device, and did not have a land line. I don't know if that criteria skews the results in any particular direction. One hundred people were surveyed. I think the rest of the statistical information is more pertinent than whether or not they had a land line:

48 were male
65 were over 40 years or older
11 were of Hispanic descent (that is, Spanish-speaking descent)
77 were White

After the questions about personal statistics were done, the real questions began:

All in all, do you think that things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?

31 Headed in the right direction
60 Off on the wrong track
09 Mixed/Not Sure

In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing as president?

48 Approve
46 Disapprove
06 Not Sure

Do you generally approve or disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing in handling the economy?

46 Approve
49 Disapprove
05 Not Sure

In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job that Congress is doing?

22 Approve
69 Disapprove
09 Not Sure

Now I'm going to read you the names of several public figures, groups, organizations and countries, and I'd like you to rate your feelings toward each one as very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative. If you don't know the name, please just say so.

Barack Obama

28 Very Positive
21 Somewhat Positive
15 Neutral
15 Somewhat Negative
20 Very Negative
01 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

The following names were randomized. This is done to avoid having one subject following another subject for each and every respondent. It is generally believed that this prevents associations that can slant the results.

John Boehner

06 Very Positive
14 Somewhat Positive
22 Neutral
09 Somewhat Negative
12 Very Negative
37 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

Donald Trump

09 Very Positive
17 Somewhat Positive
40 Neutral
18 Somewhat Negative
11 Very Negative
05 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

Mitt Romney

06 Very Positive
19 Somewhat Positive
30 Neutral
13 Somewhat Negative
12 Very Negative
20 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

Tim Pawlenty

03 Very Positive
07 Somewhat Positive
20 Neutral
06 Somewhat Negative
03 Very Negative
61 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

Saudi Arabia

02 Very Positive
10 Somewhat Positive
34 Neutral
29 Somewhat Negative
20 Very Negative
05 Not Sure/Don't Know Name


10 Very Positive
22 Somewhat Positive
30 Neutral
17 Somewhat Negative
15 Very Negative
06 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

Labor Unions

16 Very Positive
22 Somewhat Positive
22 Neutral
17 Somewhat Negative
19 Very Negative
04 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

Public Employee Unions

16 Very Positive
22 Somewhat Positive
22 Neutral
16 Somewhat Negative
18 Very Negative
06 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

Federal Government Employees

14 Very Positive
28 Somewhat Positive
34 Neutral
14 Somewhat Negative
08 Very Negative
02 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

State and Local Government Employees

16 Very Positive
31 Somewhat Positive
27 Neutral
17 Somewhat Negative
07 Very Negative
02 Not Sure/Don't Know Name


45 Very Positive
28 Somewhat Positive
15 Neutral
06 Somewhat Negative
04 Very Negative
62 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

Teachers' Unions

23 Very Positive
24 Somewhat Positive
19 Neutral
12 Somewhat Negative
18 Very Negative
04 Not Sure/Don't Know Name

Choose one of these statements:

Government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people,
Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.

51 Government should do more
46 Government is doing too many thing
02 Some of both
01 Not sure

Some of these results are surprising to me.

I would think Barack Obama would have a much lower rating. Even if you give all the "not sures" to disapprove, it's a 48/52 split (but, you don't give the not sures to disapprove, because they were not sure). I think, however, that all of us tend to be less vocally critical of the President than we are of others. So, even if we do not like a President, I think we tend to soften our response to such a question to be respectful of the Office.

Given the way the media is presenting information, I would think that John Boehner would have more than a 20% Positive rating. Even if you consider the "Neutrals" to be generally Positive, I would still think that he would have a Positive rating higher than 42%. In reality, though, Neutral means neutral and only 20% of respondents have a Positive opinion of the Speaker of the House.

I am always surprised that Saudi Arabia has any positive reputation in the United States. People actually consider them our ally, even though they are anti-liberty, they fund terrorism, and work only with the most avaricious of American businessmen. There are few allies in our realm of influence that are as bad for us as Saudi Arabia. They are like the heroin dealer who takes you to the rehab clinic every few years to clean-up, thereby saving your life, but arrives to pick you up on release date so as not to lose your valuable "friendship."

Labor Unions also did better than I would think, since most broadcast media tell us that Americans are anti-union. Thirty-eight of a hundred people have a positive opinion of labor unions; 36 a negative opinion, 22 are neutral about them, and 4 are not sure (or have never heard of labor unions). Interestingly, between 1997 and 2011, 5% of the responders changed from neutral to either negative or positive, with 27 being neutral in 1997 and only 22, in 2011. So, people's opinions of labor unions seem to have shifted one way or another; but with no discernible trend either way.

And the most contentious issue in the survey: Teachers and their unions. Seventy-three of the 100 responses about teachers were positive, with only 10 negative, and a remarkable 15 Neutral. Their unions did not fare as well. While 73 had a positive opinion of teachers, only 47 had a positive opinion of their unions; but, only 30 had a negative opinion, with 19 maintaining a neutral position. Four were not sure or had never heard of teachers unions. Overall, though, there is a more favorable than unfavorable opinion about teachers unions by more than a third.

You can see these results at both The Wall Street Journal site and the MSNBC site. I provide both links in case navigating to one is more offensive to you than the other:

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey at WSJ

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey at MSNBC