Category Archives: Random Thoughts

The Answer to Some of Your Questions Is…

Don Ohlmeyer, former NBC president and the original producer of Monday Night Football, when asked to explain irrational choices in business, sports and politics, wisely opined, “The answer to all your questions is…MONEY.” Consider the opening week of the college football season when second tier college teams travel to Power Five Conference stadiums to be served up as human sacrifices.  Just this year, in return for a $1.5 million payday, Miami University (Oxford, OH) jetted to South Florida to be on the short-end of a 38-3 shellacking by the University of Miami.

This past week proved Ohlmeyer’s maxim to be less iron-clad than I once believed.  Two events, Hamas’ terrorist attack against Israel and the congressional logjam resulting from the inability of Republicans to elect a House Speaker had little to do with money.  If not money, what is the primary factor which explains these events?  In both cases, the answer is…GERRYMANDERING.

I’ll begin with Hamas.  Comedian Dana Gould opens his “I Know It’s Wrong” album with a routine in which he claims anything, in the right context, can be funny.  You can feel the audience’s tension when he announces he will prove his point with three jokes.  One about AIDS.  One about rape.  And one about 9/11.  It is the third topic which illuminates the horror of 10/7/23 on the Gaza border.

I think my favorite part of 9/11 (pause as the audience laughs nervously) was the Muslim terrorists when they went to Muslim heaven, which we all know isn’t true.  They can’t be in Muslim heaven because they’re in Christian hell.  Unless they go back and forth which you can do because they’re both pretend.

~Dana Gould/I Know It’s Wrong

Exactly!  Muslim extremists who self-associate with one of the world’s three major religions have gerrymandered heaven.  In the territorial afterlife they control, the greatest rewards come from jihad and martyrdom. Likewise, many Christian fundamentalists have walled off their heavenly enclave, depriving entry to those who do not share their beliefs or deviate from their standards of behavior. As we learn over and over again, apartheid applied to an imaginary afterlife does little to support the prospects for peace and amity in this one.

Which brings me to the more traditional definition of gerrymandering, manipulating the boundaries of legislative districts to either create safe seats for the party in power or dilute representation of various classes of voters, both of which give disproportional weight to a percentage of the electorate. Perhaps the best example is my home state of Florida where the GOP holds 20 of 28 congressional seats although party affiliation is relatively even (GOP 36.35 percent versus Democrats 34.48 percent.)  Keep in mind the state legislature originally approved a somewhat more equitable map which Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed and then arm-twisted the legislature to approve his version.

However, as is so often said, be careful what you wish for.  Florida’s 2022 redistricting assured Matt Gaitz a safe seat which freed him up to be the chaos agent on display during the ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.  The same is true of the other seven firebrands who sealed McCarthy’s fate.  This is what happens when a representative no longer needs the backing of House leadership to support his or her reelection.

In other words, while the Republican Party thought gerrymandering would be the path to electoral heaven, they now find themselves corralled behind the Gaitz of hell.  Unlike the 9/11 terrorists, the GOP can actually go back and forth between the benefits and costs of gerrymandering because both are real.

For what it’s worth.


15 Minutes of Infamy

Blogger’s NOTE:  Today’s post is my third attempt at trying to say something meaningful (or at least entertaining) about the media debut of one Emily Kohrs.  It has been a week; so you may have already forgotten she was the chairperson of the Georgia special grand jury looking into interference in the 2020 presidential election.  Ms. Kohrs is a human car wreck.  You know you should not be rubber-necking to watch her but you simply cannot turn away.

In Version #1, I suggested her remarks were more like those of someone who had successfully completed a college seminar titled, “Making a Fool of Yourself on National TV.”  And how lucky she was to have such distinguished, experienced instructors such as Rudy Giuliani, Lindsey Graham and Sydney Powell.

In Version #2, I gave the story the Rotten Apples treatment. Kohrs’ appearance on NBC News received a “5”. Most critics agreed with former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman who characterized her as “a tease.”  Or former DOJ inspector general Michael Bromwich who called her “a reckless idiot.”  Legal analyst Lisa Rubin was somewhat kinder.  “Kohrs reminded me of an overconfident gymnast on the balance beam.” Who was the dissenting vote? You guessed it. The Donald loved her performance.

Now you have an extremely energetic young woman, the (get this!) ‘foreperson’ of the Racist D.A.’s Special Grand Jury, going around and doing a Media Tour revealing, incredibly, the Grand Jury’s inner workings & thoughts.

He could not have personally handpicked someone more likely to toss a wrench into Fani Willis’ well-oiled indictment machine. Most legal analysts believe Kohrs did not totally derail Willis’ case. But it sure did not help. The kicker being how ironic it was that the person he bashed was the exact type that makes up the MAGA base (previously apolitical and uninformed). According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), she had NEVER voted and had no knowledge of Trump’s infamous phone call to Brad Raffensperger prior to hearing it in the grand jury room.

But that’s not what I came here to talk about. Which brings me to Version #3, Kohrs’ motive for submitting to myriad interviews. Certainly, she wanted to take advantage of her 15 minutes (and hopefully the last) of fame. Though, I believe she had a more practical motive, hoping someone would give her a second opportunity. She did not want to go back to what she was doing before being seated on the grand jury. Which, by the way, was nothing since she was (as reported by AJC) between jobs.

Imagine, if you will, a potential employer invites Kohrs to interview for an opening. The company or job is of little consequence. She brings the same knowledge and demeanor she honed with NBC News political reporter Blaine Alexander and AJC reporters Tamar Hallerman and Bill Rankin.

HR: Welcome, Ms. Kohrs. I understand you’ve had a hard time finding employment. How many unsuccessful attempts have you had?
EK: I will tell you it is not a short list.
HR: Can you tell me where you’ve applied?
EK: There are certainly names you would recognize. There are names you would expect.
HR: Do you have any idea why you didn’t get the jobs?
EK: I’m not going to speak on exact indictments. (smirks)
HR: If we hire you, could you tell me what we might expect?
EK: I don’t think there are any giant plot twists coming.
HR: Do you think you’ll fit in here?
EK: (laughs) Probably not.
HR: One of your references wrote that at times you acted immaturely.
EK: (rolls eyes and bursts out laughing) Did he really say that? Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s phenomenal. I love it.
HR: Why would he say that about you?
EK: I invoke my Fifth Amendment right. That’s what I have to say to that.
HR: Don’t you want to defend yourself. He said he caught you listening to phone conversations when he was talking to important clients.
EK: It is amazing how many hours of footage you find of that man on the phone.
HR: You made videos? By the way, I understand you ran into our CEO on the elevator.
EK: That was really cool for me. I made a point of stopping him.
HR: I guess he recognized you from TV. You are pretty famous these days. He doesn’t stop what he is doing for just anyone.
EK: I told my boyfriend, “Do you know that if I was in a room with Donald Trump and Joe Biden and they knew who I was, they would both want to speak to me.”
HR: I think I’ve heard enough. Well, thank you for coming.

If any of the above dialogue sounds familiar, maybe it is because all of Kohrs’ answers are direct quotes from her NBC and AJC interviews. You should not be surprised at the vague responses which provided little information of consequence. After all, she had just spent several months observing how to do that from some of the best in the business.

For what it’s worth.


These are two people I never thought I would associate with one another, but there is a comparison that cannot be overlooked. But that is where any similarity ends as you will soon see.

In 1964, the “great mentioner,” a euphomism Washington insiders once used to refer to unnamed sources, focused on whether Lyndon Johnson would consider Robert Kennedy to be his running mate. To sidestep the issue of his relationship with the late president’s brother, LBJ indirectly informed RFK he would not be the choice by announcing, “No current member of my cabinet will be considered for vice-president this fall.”

At the time, Kennedy was still attorney general. He responded to the Oval Office declaration by apologizing to all the other cabinet members eliminated from consideration. “I’m sorry I took so many nice fellows over the side with me. “

My memory of this July 1964 event was triggered by yesterday’s Buckingham Palace directive invitations to Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral would be limited to current heads of state. Was this the royal family’s way of telling “the former guy” he was not welcome? The last thing they needed was a repeat of the July 14, 2018 social faux pas when the seditionist-in-chief stepped in front of Her Royal Majesty.

Should we expect an RFK-like response? Will TFG apologize to the hundreds of former presidents and premiers who were swiped to the left of the guest list on his account? He is more likely to claim he was deprived of one more honor because the 2020 election was stolen. Especially, since according to NewsMax anchor Greg Kelly, “Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II had real chemistry. This was the most genuine relationship with an American president that she had.” I guess Kelly did not notice when she met with Trump, the Queen chose to wear a broach given to her by none other than Barack Obama.

I have no doubt the late monarch had genuine feelings about Trump. But as she so often did, she put aside those personal feelings in the interest of her realm. Too bad someone else did not get the message.

For what it’s worth.

Six Degrees of Dr. ESP

This week I was reminded the parlor game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” also works in reverse. To prove it, I will demonstrate there are six or less connections by which Kevin Bacon is linked to me.

This memory was triggered by news of Thursday’s passing of actor Lenny Von Dohlen at the age of 63. Von Dohlen was best know for his portrayal of the agoraphobic horticulturist in Twin Peaks. In 1988, I was hired by his father Leonard Von Dohlen to prepare an enterprise zone application for a business he and his brother Tim planned for their home town of Goliad, Texas. The project would convert La Bahia, the quarter horse oval at the Goliad County fairgrounds, into a pari-mutuel racetrack.

My contract with the Von Dohlens was the by-product of two intersecting pieces of legislation enacted in 1987. The first, the Texas Enterprise Zone Act, authorized tax breaks for new businesses created in lower income regions of the state. While serving as deputy director of the Texas Economic Development Commission, I helped state senator Hector Uribe (D-Brownsville) draft the legislation. That same year the state legislature passed authorization for pari-mutuel betting and creation of the Texas Racing Commission.

Goliad had a long tradition of quarter horse breeding which included annual sweepstake races at the county fair. Leonard and brother Tim immediately applied for a pari-mutuel license and contacted Senator Uribe about taking advantage of the enterprise zone incentives. I got involved when Senator Uribe referred them to me as someone who knew the requirements having worked on the draft bill.

Sadly the project was never completed largely because the only racing dates the Commission offered the Von Dohlens were Friday nights in September and October. If you have ever spent a Friday night in any Texas city or town, you know horse racing is not the first thing any true Lone Star resident thinks about on an autumn Friday evening. That honor goes to high school football. Despite repeated efforts, the Von Dohlens were unable to convince the Racing Commissioners those dates were economically unfeasible.

So what does this have to do with Kevin Bacon and me? To find out, simply play the new parlor game “Six Degrees of Dr. ESP.”

  • Kevin Bacon and Laura Dern appeared together in the 2001 movie Novacaine.
  • Laura Dern appeared with Kyle MacLachlin, Sherlyn Fenn and others in the 2017 reboot of Twin Peaks.
  • All of whom costarred with Lenny Von Dohlen in the original 1990-91 Twin Peaks.
  • Lenny’s father was Leonard Von Dohlen III and his uncle was Tim Von Dohlen of Goliad, Texas.
  • Who contracted with Dr. ESP to figure out how to make their pari-mutuel quarter horse racetrack eligible for state enterprise zone benefits.

And no, you do not get extra credit for needing only five degrees of separation to make the connection. After all, this was just one more trip down memory lane, as so often occurs, when a news story brings back a long-forgotten recollection of a moment in time.


If you have ever watched the 1988 remake of DOA with Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, there is a scene when Daniel Stern’s character falls from a third story window. The scene was shot in Senator Uribe’s office in the Texas State Capitol after replacing the real window with panes made of candy glass.

For what it’s worth.

Festivus in March Redux

The 'Festivus Miracle' Lives On - The New York Times

It has been three years since I last proposed Festivus in March. This time, maybe it will catch on. The past couple of weeks, I found myself yearning for an early Festivus, knowing I could not wait until year’s end to practice the Festivus tradition of “airing of grievances.” So please forgive my channeling my inner Frank Constanza, but “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people. And now you’re gonna hear about it.”

Grievance #1: The Washington Post

On March 19, a headline on the front page of the Washington Post read as follows, “Mixed signals from Ukraine’s president and his aides leave West confused about his end game.” Let me share the comment I posted to this story.

WTF. Did the writers pay no attention to what happened last Wednesday? Zelensky asks for a no-fly zone, but adds, “If I can’t have that, I need…” And hours later he gets most of “that” from the U.S. and NATO. That didn’t happen by accident. Do you really believe Zelensky is not talking with Biden and European leaders about his “end game?” The person he doesn’t want to share it with is Putin. Just like folks stopped talking about what arms were and were not arriving in Ukraine. Neither the war nor peace should be prosecuted in the media. Sorry if your little feelings are hurt because Zelensky is not willing to lay his cards on the table for you and Putin to see before the hand is over.

Grievance #2: It Takes a Special Kind of A-Hole

Friday night, Wild Amelia, a local non-profit that promotes protection of the local environment through education held a fundraiser comprised of a sunset boat tour hosted by Amelia River Cruises. Among the attendees with one older, white gentleman (I use the term loosely) with a beer belly covered by a politically incorrect tee shirt who felt it necessary to proudly don his “Let’s Go Brandon” gimme cap. I know, I could have simply said he was wearing the cap and you would have guessed he was no spring chicken, white, had a beer belly and a questionable sense of fashion. And to make sure everyone on the boat saw him, he would occassionally walk up and down the aisles with his belly puffed out.

The next day I received a call from one of the board members who asked me what I thought of the incident, especially since some members of the Sierra Club who came to support Wild Amelia had complained to the boat captain this “gentleman” had ruined their evening. She wondered what they could have done about it since the “gentleman” has the right to say whatever he wants. (See Grievance #4 for more on the First Amendment.)

I told her this was not about free speech. He knew he was not going to convert anyone to his cult. His goal was to be the center of attention. And sadly, some attendees let him do that while most of us simply ignored him.

Not every person who voted for the former guy in 2016 was a “despicable.” Not true of those who still relish being part of his cult. So if the “cap fits, wear it.”

Grievance #3: Military Disservice

If you get a package from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) filled with swag you will never use, asking you to help disabled veterans, Google their Charity Navigator rating. It is ZERO out of FOUR stars. Why? Because the organization spent 86 percent of their revenue in 2020 on administration and fundraising including a $15 million contract with a marketing firm in Connecticut. By the way, in 2014 DVNF was fined $25 million for abuse of solicitation laws after which current CEO and former U.S. Marine Joseph VanFonda claimed they had cleaned up their act.

My wife and I always give the calculators, pens and other “incentive” gifts to Goodwill or other organizations to distribute to those who might actually use them. This package also contained a real check for $1.50 made out to me. But, of course, the cover letter from VanFonda urged me not to cash the check because it would take money away from veterans who needed it.

I had a better idea. I cashed the check and sent a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, to whom I regularly give in honor of our daughter’s service in the Air Force. Instead of the typical $100 donation, I made the check out for $101.50 and simulteneously emailed VanFonda, informing him that I appreciated his $1.50 and had passed it on to a legitimate charity that might actually put it to good use.

I encourage others to do the same.

Grievance #4: King for a Day after Day

Finally, I am really getting sick and tired of people who appropriate Martin Luther King, Jr. to justify policies and actions that are the antithesis of what King stood for. The latest is FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). This past week they started running ads with the tag line, “No Free Speech. No I Have a Dream” over a picture of the August 1963 civil rights gathering at the Lincoln Memorial. It is followed by, “Without the First Amendment, this historic speech would never have happened.”

Really? The First Amendment had been on the books for 174 years and there was no “I have a dream.” You can bet if George Wallace and Bull Connor were fighting integration today, they would be on Fox News and InfoWars claiming to be victims of “cancel culture.” And the First Amendment gave them the right to use the N-word and incite violence against people they feared would replace them. Take a look at the crowd surrounding the Reflecting Pool that day. There were too kinds of people. Black Americans who were tired of being second class citizens. And “woke” white Americans who, after watching the beatings and dogs and fire hoses, said, “Enough is enough. This is not what America should be about.” I’d bet the farm all of those people would have still been there with or without the First Amendment.

Want more proof. South Africa had its own “I have a dream” moment without the benefit of a First Amendment.

And by the way, if you asked Michael Jordan, he would probably admit, “It wasn’t the shoes.” NIKE and FIRE have more in common than four letter names. Both want you believe if only you wear their shoes or yell First Amendment on a college campus, you will be a superstar despite the lack of any causal relationship.

So Happy Festivus in March. Now, all we need to do is get Amazon and local merchants to adopt this faux extension of a faux holiday to discount merchandise as they do in July. Black Friday in March could be just as successful as Black Friday in July.

For what it’s worth.