This is US- After Dinner

March 15, 2017

According to our daughter Kathy my wife and I are in a television watching rut, a deep rut. After dinner it is the usual dose of Pat Sajak and letter-turning Vanna White watching the Wheel of Fortune go round and around and around. Then it is Mensa’s gift to nightly television, Alex Trebek as he smugly asks questions of earnest contestants that even he has no clue about. With game shows out of the way we turn to CNN and Anderson Cooper and his panel of talking head “experts” trying to make sense out of Donald Trump. In fairness to Ma and Pa Kryzanek, not a day goes by that something bizarre comes across the doorway of the White House making CNN a must watch.

Well Kathy kindly but forcefully told us we have to get out of the rut. Her answer to the silly game show ritual was This Is Us, the wildly popular NBC soap about a biracial family seen from their early days in the 1980s to the present. Because This Is US shows the Pearson clan with all the poignancy, drama and disappointments of a real-like family, it has taken Ma and Pa away from silly game shows and depressing politics, at least for awhile. We of course are hooked, although we are about 10 episodes behind and have given Kathy strict orders not to fill us in with the happy or sad details.

Americans love soap operas, no matter how much they say they prefer crime thrillers, hospital death spirals, and all those new spy-thrillers, end of the world survival motifs, and of course zombies. But This Is Us has caught on as a simple narrative about people who face everyday challenges – failed careers, obesity, discrimination, lost connections, alcoholism and dreams gone astray. There is not a viewer who cannot make a connection to one of the characters, and they are portrayed in real terms as they struggle with everyday challenges. The writing is simply superb and the acting is authentic. Somebody on this show is going to end up with an Emmy.

I must admit that Ma and Pa haven’t completely given up on game shows and the gamesmanship of CNN and President Trump; after all there are real people on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and everyone just loves a circus, especially when the ringmaster is the President of the United States. But we owe Kathy a debt of gratitude for showing us the way to better television viewing. This Is Us is not going to change the world or for that matter change television but it does make viewers think about the trials and tribulations of family life by telling a simple story about real people.

 

 

 

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A Few Not So Modest Proposals for Liberal Democrats

December 21, 2016

The election is over, Donal Trump won, and liberal Democrats will just have to deal with it. Whining, street demonstrations,complaints about James Comey and Vladimir Putin and second-guessing about what should have been done in Michigan just won’t cut it anymore; it’s time to look to the future and develop some strategies to deal with the 45th President of the United States.

So let’s get serious about what liberal democrats must do as the loyal opposition, if the term loyal has any meaning anymore in the new American political culture. Here are a few strategies that may be necessary if liberal democrats are to survive as an alternative to the new Trump-defined Republican majority.

1. Liberal Democrats must adopt the Republican playbook. Hope is good, but in this post-truth, anti-ethical American political environment fear is better. Republicans have become the masters of using fear to gain votes and power- fear of minorities, fear of terrorists, fear of economic collapse, fear of change. Hope no longer works as a key word for attracting the support of the American people. If liberal democrats are to rebound they must know how to use fear as a strategic tool- fear of job loss, fear of income inequality, fear of corporate indifference, fear of tax injustice. Liberal Democrats don’t like to use fear as a strategy, but let’s face it, fear works.

2.  Liberal Democrats are known to be political weenies who want to be viewed as honorable and non-partisan, but if they are to get back in the game they must follow the lead of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and embrace legislative obstructionism, a refusal to compromise, a willingness to delay, and an unyielding and annoying pain in the butt of the presidential administration. So far the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are already talking about working with President Trump rather than following the McConnell strategy and making his life as President miserable.

3.  Then there is always the best opposition tool-sue the bastards. Taking the President and his cabinet to court is an all-American tradition of the opposition. Fortunately, for the Democrats they have the Stock Act, which makes it a felony for a President, Vice-President and high governmental officials to use their office for insider trading and making a profit off of their connections while in office. America is a litigious society where lawyers feed off of challenges to the law, so liberal democrats must take that tactic and use the courts to make the President follow the law and respect the constitution.

4. Challenging the President is no easy task but it is made more difficult because of the weakness of those who deliver the liberal message. There has to be an way to offset the influence of Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity, and it is not Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Michael Moore or Lawrence O’Donnell. My suggestion is get Joe Biden on for an hour on CNN and have him take on the conservative right. Sure it will be biased but everyone knows the media is biased anyway, so what does it matter if Joe talks to white America in their language. Maybe he can even wear those aviator sunglasses while he is on camera.

5. Finally, liberal democrats must begin to think about winning rather than making a point or raising up a social group. The Republican have shown that they will do just about anything to win and it has worked. Republicans aren’t ashamed of their tactics against the liberal democrats, in fact they glory in their victories, while liberal democrats complain and wonder how their message just doesn’t work.

Now all this praise for the Republican way of winning and working government to their advantage may blow up in the coming months as President Trump and his conservative minions drive the economy and the country into the abyss. But for now liberal democrats need to rethink how they operate and how they oppose the new political reality. In short, no more whining, no more excuses, no more playing nice, no more needless cooperation, no more being weenies.