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I remember when reality TV shows were a novelty — unscripted (we thought) stuff like a peephole into life being lived. Trump’s original “Apprentice” was a fascinating look at rigorous challenges in which bright, determined young people would compete for a wonderful job. But then it turned into “Celebrity Apprentice,” wherein B-class theatrical types would do bad jokes and stumble through silly so-called challenges to win money for their charities. We tuned out, not only those televised insults to our intelligence, but to most reality shows on TV in which the real question was: who is grosser, the second-fiddle participants themselves or the disgusting worms they at.

Unfortunately, the “Celebrity Apprentice” phase of reality TV continues with the Trump administration, with it’s B-class President in the starring role, surrounded by a motley B-class assortment of lingering relatives and political hanger-ons.

But the disturbing, really anguishing dichotomy is that the “reality” on stage is not the inconsequential frivolity of those lousy TV shows, but the all-too-real reality of America on the world’s stage. I want to turn off this show, because it is as repulsive as the “Celebrity Apprentice” was compared to the original “Apprentice.” But I can’t find a channel on TV, except maybe the old comedy and talk shows of the 80-s and 90s, where I can avoid the self-destructive bad humor of the Trump administration, especially the bumbling inarticulateness of our B-class President himself. I can handle the world, but this Presidency is just too much B-class reality.

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THOMAS TASCHINGER: Hef was last of Big Three that changed pop culture

Published 6:10 am, Sunday, October 1, 2017

The death of Hugh Hefner last week closed a special chapter in modern American history. He was the final survivor of the trio that changed this country forever after World War II.

Prior to that conflict, this nation had millions of people who lived on farms, rarely traveled far from home and lived basic lives.

After the war, we emerged as a modern, industrialized giant that became the greatest superpower since the Roman Empire.

While all that was happening, Hef and two other men helped change our pop culture from what we were to what we are.

One of them was Ray Kroc, the only one on this list whose name is not instantly recognizable to many. He deserves better, since he changed the way we eat.

In 1954, after he lost his job as a milk shake mixer salesman, he joined a small California hamburger chain called McDonald’s. That company had purchased eight of his mixers for one of its restaurants, and he was impressed by its cleanliness and organization.

He thought the same concept could be expanded, changing roadside dining from spotty quality to something you could rely on. It wouldn’t be great food, but it would be good food. And fast.

Kroc’s vision changed eating, and eating out, in America. McDonald’s was followed by other chain restaurants, and almost overnight it was possible to get cheap, decent chow on the run. It blended well with our fast-paced, postwar outlook, especially because it was also inextricably linked with interstate highways.

They could be credited to the second member of this trio, Dwight David Eisenhower. It was said that he was impressed by the autobahn Adolph Hitler had constructed in Germany prior to starting World War II. Ironically, that of course is the same conflict that Ike ended in Europe.

Congress authorized construction of the system in 1956, also known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. The initial goal was to allow troops and trucks to move about quickly in time of war, just as in Germany. Civilian traffic, however, quickly overwhelmed it.

Getting from Point A to Point B became a lot easier. Going from one city to another no longer required the planning of a railway trip. You just got in your car and went. The postwar economy was booming, and almost everyone could afford the latest creation from Detroit.

And thanks to Ray Kroc and his copycats, you could easily grab a meal on the way.

Hugh Hefner grew up in the midst of these vast societal changes. He was also a World War II veteran, writing briefly for an Army newspaper. He is one of the last prominent members of that conflict to fade away.

In 1953, however, he was angry. Esquire magazine, where he worked as a copy editor, had denied him a $5 weekly raise. He quit in frustration and thought he’d try to publish his own magazine.

Whatever you think of Playboy, it changed Americans’ attitude toward sex. It was no longer reserved for married people, and vaguely distasteful. It was pleasurable, and singles could partake. In turn, people who had a new outlook on something so fundamental were open to other questions about what it means to be human.

Sure, eventually someone else would have caused these tectonic shifts in American life. But someone else didn’t. Kroc, Ike and Hef did. Now they are all gone.

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Thomas Taschinger, TTaschigner@BeaumontEnterprise.com, is the editorial page editor of The Beaumont Enterprise. Follow him on Twitter at @PoliticalTom

Trump last night said we would no longer be nation-building but killing terrorists in Afghanistan going forward. Oddly, several years ago I heard from a general departing to lead Americans in Afghanistan that we were failures at nation-building there, but good at killing.

Sorry folks. America has been trying to nation-build in Afghanistan for 16 years, and in Iraq (how did that go?) and in Vietnam before that (we know how that ended.) It has been about nation-building all along, and that has failed time after time. Despite what Trump said last night, it is still about nation-building in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Are we good at killing? Yes. Are we wasting another generation of young American troops in another fruitless war? Yes.  Are we protecting the American way of life in the process? No. Are we wasting more billions, even trillions, that could be used to rebuild our own nation? Yes.

Are we learning anything? Yes. Are we doing anything useful with that learning? Absolutely not. Thanks Trump. The one time where one of your bad ideas — getting out of Afghanistan — might have been positive, you failed us again last night.

We visited Budapest several years ago, where the Hungarians took down the major statuary of the communist era and assembled it in a well-designed park outside the city in 1993. Marx, Lenin, Engels and the gang are gathered outside the city limits, where tourists and locals can find them, if they wish, but are not confronted with these symbols of a dark age, unless they wish to seek them out.

What America ought to do with the Confederate monuments being taken down is perhaps something like Memento Park in Budapest.

A journalist friend: Everyone has biases, but reporters and editors are supposed to check that at the door when they do their jobs. As a journalist, I am embarrassed by the actions, statements, editorializing etc. Of the mainstream news media. There has been a complete double standard of coverage on this president vs. The last one. The last one could do no wrong in the media’s eyes and the current one can do nothing right. That is a problem.
Comment from another friend:. Chuck needs more friends like you
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Charles Ebeling
Charles Ebeling (Journalist above) is a friend, but we disagree. My long career in PR taught me that every media person has a personal bias. Some overcome that, and some don’t, and some use it as a moral compass for their journalism. Most are a bit of all three, to varying extents. I happen to agree with the weight of the current mainstream media regarding Trump, not because of their bias, but because of my own.

Chuck Todd of MSNBC closed his Sunday feature news program this morning by thanking the audience for watching his “show.” This grates me no end. To me, he is degrading an important news program by referring to it as a simple entertainment — a “show!”

Semantics matter, even in this world of reality TV and Trumpness.

A program implies, to me at least, something of importance. A show is just that, some Barnum & Bailey entertainment.

So, let’s call a spade a spade, and let’s call news by the name “programs,” and comedies, etc. “shows.” Such respect of semantics might help us begin to define the difference between the two terms in our contemporary lives, where, thanks to the one who calls himself “the President who is making America great again,” a meaningful “program” has often been denigrated to a mere “show.”

Sure, I want the Presidency to serve our nation well. Maybe Trump as President is not the same man we saw before his election. Maybe he’s not the same man I witnessed a decade ago when he verbally demeaned the news media while also demeaning  a large audience comprised substantially of professional women. Maybe he’s not the same man I watched announce his candidacy by calling Mexicans rapists, and calling for a wall with Mexico and the removal of 11 million people living in this country. Maybe he’s not the same man who called for barring Muslims from the U.S. Maybe he’s not the same man who invited Russian intelligence to undermine the U.S. election. Maybe he’s not the same man who said other countries ought to have the atom bomb, and that the hard-won multi-national anti-nuclear agreement with Iran should be torn up.

Maybe he’s not the same man…

Once again, it appears, subject to final reports, that the dangerously antiquated Electoral College has “trumpted” the will of the people by delivering the Presidency to the person who came in 2nd place in the popular vote — the real American vote, just as happened in 2000. When will we learn? When will we fix this travesty and blow against democracy?

Here’s the link to my essay on the Electoral College and what to do about it.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/ClubExpressClubFiles/11539/documents/Ebeling_-Collage.htm?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIB6I23VLJX7E4J7Q&Expires=1478725159&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DEbeling_-Collage.htm&Signature=IbLBksbCNV0NHjZj9wV42DMpM9Y%3D

 

And here is what NPR is reporting this morning :

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton finds herself on the wrong end of an electoral split, moving ahead in the popular vote but losing to President-elect Donald Trump in the Electoral College, according to the latest numbers emerging Wednesday.

As of 10 a.m. ET, Clinton had amassed 59,299,381 votes nationally, to Trump’s 59,135,740 — a margin of 163,641 that puts Clinton on track to become the fifth U.S. presidential candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election.

Neither candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote — as of 10 a.m. ET, Clinton stood at 47.7 percent and Trump at 47.5 percent.

Thanks to the archaic Electoral College system of electing American Presidents and Vice Presidents, approximately 50% of votes cast are thrown out. Any my vote in Illinois is worth about 1/6th of a vote in Alaska. Corrupt? No, it’s the law. How could this be?

How to fix it? Rewrite the 24th amendment which established the Electoral College. Good luck with that. The other way is to support the National Popular Vote legislation in your state (Google it), which would at least assure the winner of the popular vote wins. You will hear a lot about the importance of the Electoral College between now and the election, as the campaigns game the system, but you won’t hear much now, and less after the election, about how it is stealing your vote.

Here’s how the EC works (from Wikipedia):

The United States Electoral College is the body that elects the President and Vice President of the United States every four years. Citizens of the United States do not directly elect the president or the vice president; instead they choose “electors”, who usually pledge to vote for particular candidates.

Electors are apportioned to each of the 50 states as well as to the District of Columbia. The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of members of Congress to which the state is entitled, while the Twenty-third Amendment grants the District of Columbia the same number of electors as the least populous state, currently three. Therefore, there are currently 538 electors, corresponding to the 435 Representatives and 100 Senators, plus the three additional electors from the District of Columbia. The Constitution bars any federal official, elected or appointed, from being an elector.

Except for Maine and Nebraska, all states have chosen electors on a “winner-take-all” basis since the 1880s. That is, each state has all of its electors pledged to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes in that state. Maine and Nebraska use the “congressional district method”, selecting one elector within each congressional district by popular vote and selecting the remaining two electors by a statewide popular vote. Although no elector is required by federal law to honor a pledge, there have been very few occasions when an elector voted contrary to a pledge. The Twelfth Amendment, in specifying how a president and vice president are elected, requires each elector to cast one vote for president and another vote for vice president.

The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes (currently 270) for the office of president or of vice president is elected to that office. The Twelfth Amendment provides for what happens if the Electoral College fails to elect a president or vice president. If no candidate receives a majority for president, then the House of Representatives will select the president, with each state delegation (instead of each representative) having only one vote. If no candidate receives a majority for vice president, then the Senate will select the vice president, with each senator having one vote. On four occasions, most recently in the 2000 presidential election, the Electoral College system has resulted in the election of a candidate who did not receive the most popular votes in the election.

Ran across the following item in an article titled, “25 Things You didn’t Know About Le Cirque,” in Jetset Magazine, March, 2013.

“#20. The Donald Loves… – Donald Trump has always been a regular at Le Cirque, and a good friend of Sirio. His favorite dish? The flipper.”

It was the fall of 1999, and I was dining at Le Cirque, one of New York’s legendary restaurants, celebrating my coming retirement with two associates from the Golden Arches, on the occasion of my last round of visits there with the news media on McDonald’s behalf. We happened to be seated at a table next to Mr. Donald Trump and his two male guests that evening. As I recall we had a many laughs and a marvelous meal at that magical restaurant, in it’s old Palace Hotel location.

During a stop in the men’s room to powder my nose that night, I remember hearing Trump’s two young guests, apparently financial types, standing together at the urinals, discovering that they each owned identical red Ferrari’s. How Trumpish.

I also noted that it was in 1999 that Trump, then considered a possible Presidential candidate under a Reform Party banner, was widely quoted as saying things like: “I’m very pro-choice,” and “I believe in universal health care.” He also said: “Democrats are too far left. Republicans are too far right.”

That leaves only one question about his preferences: what is the “flipper” dish he favored at LeCirque? Perhaps that is what defines him still, in 2016, as the newly presumptive Republican candidate for President of the United States.

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