January 16, 2017

100 Words -- A Legitimate President?

Representative John Lewis of Georgia poured salt on Donald Trump’s wounded ego, tweeting that Trump was not a “legitimate president.” Trump responded angrily, as one would expect. This isn’t the first time that a president-elect’s legitimacy has been questioned. In 1960 it was generally understood that John F. Kennedy owed his victory to creative vote-counting by Mayor Daley of Chicago. Richard Nixon took the high road and accepted Kennedy’s victory while his surrogates vigorously pursued recounts. Kennedy, who won by the slimmest of popular vote margins, stayed above the fray. In his mind there was no doubt who was president.

January 14, 2017


I’ve said before that the best part of working as a background extra has been the acting community. Sure, you hear stories about prima donnas and overbearing directors, but that hasn’t been my experience. Take my latest job, working an outdoor shoot late into the night as temperatures dropped into the thirties -- nature of the beast and no reflection on the production company, topnotch folks who manage the task of shepherding a very large group of people through multiple tasks with practiced ease and good humor. The background extras last night, many of whom I had worked with on other jobs, pretty much ran the gamut of humanity. From cast to crew to background, we worked together under increasingly difficult conditions. There were no arguments or tense moments, at least none that I saw. What I did see and hear was a lot of laughing and talking and supporting each other as we struggled to achieve our common purpose, the performance. In those moments you see what’s possible when we check our differences at the door and just work together to get the job done, making the most of whatever talents we have. That's the real magic of show business.

January 13, 2017

100 Words -- Replacing Obamacare

Passage of President Obama’s signature achievement -- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- took a heavy toll on his presidency, cementing a partisan divide that dogged his two terms. Obama may get some measure of revenge as the Republicans and President-elect Trump wade into the briar patch of repeal-and-replace with no agreed-upon alternative. It’s theoretically easier to revise something that already exists, but Republicans risk alienating millions of Americans who depend on the ACA if they can’t come up with something clearly better. This debate will dominate the early months of Trump’s presidency. The result will define the Republican Party for decades.

January 5, 2017

100 Words -- The Fog Of Intelligence

Donald Trump continues to cast doubt on the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government hacked the DNC during the last election. His basic assertion is that there’s no way to be absolutely certain. In this he is absolutely correct. Absolute certainty, especially in intelligence assessments, is always rare. It’s true for this incident, just as it will be true for some future crisis, possibly one involving Russia, when he will have to decide whether or not to act based on intelligence that is less than certain. My hope is he’ll do okay. But for now, it’s only a hope.

January 3, 2017

100 Words -- Who Knows What The Donald Knows?

Donald Trump rarely uses computers. He avoids email like the plague. Who better to inform the nation on the real story behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee? He says he knows things that other people don’t know, that he knows a lot about hacking. Well it better not be some bullsh*t like, “It’s impossible to definitively pinpoint the perpetrators of malicious code.” Tell us something we don’t know, for starters who convinced you the CIA, Homeland Security, and the FBI are getting it wrong? There’s nothing much riding on this, just your credibility for the next four years.

December 24, 2016

100 Words -- Christmas Truce

No question my worst Christmas was in Vietnam. It’s hard getting into the Christmas spirit in the tropics. (Tomorrow’s high in Ho Chi Minh City will be 90⁰F, with a “feels like” temperature of 107⁰F.)  Christmas dinner was “lobster” from the South China Sea. It resembled the real thing in looks only, especially after the Army cooks finished with it. The Christmas truce was a joke, but we did get a brief respite. In Syria, there’s no talk of a Christmas truce … no wise men either. Bethlehem is 100 miles away, but it might as well be on another planet.

December 18, 2016

100 Words -- Act In Haste ...

Life comes at you fast when you are the leader of the free world. Sometimes your job is to slow things down. A Chinese naval commander decides to grab up a U.S.-owned drone in international waters. Was he acting on his own or on orders from central command? If it was a mistake, you want to give the other guy a chance to step away. If not, you need an appropriate response. What you don’t necessarily want or need is the commander-in-chief issuing tweets condemning the other party before the experts have a chance to sort things out. Just saying.