Hey, I wear glasses!

Image result for bulliesIs this something else I need to worry about: getting body slammed by some politician who is seeking to have the honor of serving the public? Maybe I’m not part of that public. Maybe, being a champion of the alt-right, he sees me as the enemy, either because I’m a member of the media or perhaps because I’m a member of a non-favored religion. Although, to be professionally fair about this, here’s what the JTA wrote: “There was no indication that Greg Gianforte knew or cared that Jacobs was Jewish when he allegedly threw The Guardian political reporter to the ground on Wednesday evening and broke his glasses, leading to misdemeanor assault charges. But that has not stopped online commenters from making the connection on platforms frequented by the alt-right, a loose right-wing movement that includes white nationalists and anti-Semites.”

From a story in The New York Times.

After Greg Gianforte, the Republican House candidate in Montana, was charged with assaulting a reporter for The Guardian on the eve of Thursday’s special election, public reaction ranged from rank disgust on the left to mild chastening, and amused mockery, from many on the right.

Mr. Gianforte’s behavior, at his campaign headquarters Wednesday night, was either “outrageous,” as Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House minority leader, put it, or “totally out of character” — the tempered assessment from Representative Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “We all make mistakes,” he added.

The Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, was deemed “a pajama boy journalist” by the right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, who said the reporter acted “insolent and disrespectful and whiny and moan-y.” The conservative host Laura Ingraham wrote on Twitter: “Did anyone get his lunch money stolen today?”

Bullies will always find a way to blame the victims. Perhaps it’s because Jacobs might look the part of the milquetoast journalist, who, unable to be a “real man” and make a contribution to whatever, has to content himself by observing from the sidelines and making snarky comments in an attempt to compensate for his perceived shortcomings. (I wonder if it would have made a difference had this incident taken place in New York of California rather than Montana.)

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At least I can take comfort in knowing that I spent the extra bucks to get the unbreakable variety of eye-wear.


Public Enemy #1

If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because of this call I received TWICE today:

“Hi. This is the tax crime investigation unit of IRS. The reason you are receiving this prerecorded message is to notify you that IRS has issued an arrest warrant against you. Right now you and your physical property both are being monitored and it’s very important that I do hear back from you as soon as possible before we proceed further in any legal manner. My direct callback number is 918-215-9125. Again the number is 918-215-9125. Thank you.”

First of all…”Hi”? Really?

Image result for irs phone call scamsSecond of all, I so want to call that number and see what the deal is. But as I know this is bullshit, and I don’t know about their technological capabilities, I don’t want them having my number come up on caller ID. Perhaps from a payphone…

No exaggeration, the phone must have rung at least eight times today. Thank goodness for caller ID; I never answer 800 numbers and pretty much have the same attitude towards any number I don’t recognize.

I have long lamented the state of society these days in which every other advertisement on the all-news station to which I listen seems to be some way of separating the listener from his or her money. You know the type (paraphrasing here but the sentiment is wholly accurate):

  • “If you have been injured, we can get you money…”
  • “If you have been offered a settlement, we can get you more money…”
  • “We can cure your pain from fill-in-the-blank…”
  • My old favorite: “If you or someone you know has died…”
  • My new favorite: “If you’re suffering from cancer and are running out of money, we can give you up to 50 percent of your life insurance death benefits…”

One person I find particularly annoying is Patricia McCann, a “radio personality” in the New York area. According to the page on her via cbslocal.com

Patricia McCann is the personality commercial spokesperson for 1010 WINS. She has endorsed product on the station since 1992. Her delivery is uniquely personal and credible – she only advertises product she has tried and believes in – a McCann family tradition.

“The personality commercial spokesperson?” Is that what she puts on her resume? Does the “the” mean she’s the only one? The New York Times did a profile on McCann back in 2004, delving into her impressive radio pedigree and noting

For her commercials, which are occasionally broadcast in other parts of the country, she says she samples and researches every product. She has lost eight pounds on the Zone Diet, guzzled Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and stopped at an Aamco shop in New Jersey to learn that a car transmission has 700 parts. “How’s a girl to know?” she asked.

Pretty neat these days to have the same job for 25 years. Needless to say, she’s done numerous other ads since 2004, from replacement windows to painting services.

I don’t want to get into demographics here, but I’m guessing the audience for the news station I listen to is not comprised of millennials. Perhaps McCann is a soothing voice from the older listeners’ pasts.

I’m also pretty sure the reason phone calls like this come during the day is that the companies behind these schemes are counting on the recipients to be house-bound, retired, or older and, perhaps not as hep to scams.

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And I’m not even going to go into all the phishing that goes on via emails. I don’t know how many times I’ve told my family to never ever click on a link or download an attachment that looks suspicious, even if it’s from someone they supposedly know well. When I was working at the newspaper and saw something that looked a bit out of place, I would always send a note back to the originator asking if they had indeed sent the email and what was in the link/attachment. At least half the time, these were bogus missives.

I was going to write about this topic anyway after the Times ran this item — “From Wells Fargo to Fyre Festival, the Scam Economy Is Entering Its Baroque Phase” — in the May 21 Sunday Magazine. But today’s phone calls gave me added motivation.

On the other hand, if I am about to be arrested by the IRS, please look for an entry about where to send the cake with the file inside.

What are YOU worried about, Charley Pierce?

I “discovered” Pierce several years ago as a panelist on the NPR quiz show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and later as a commentator on the NPR sports show Only a Game. Of course, since then I’ve read his as a political commentator for Esquire. Here’s his latest.

Among his more eye-popping remarks:

What fresh hell greeted the sun on Friday?

There is no question in my mind that Richard Nixon is now and forever history’s yard waste. But, at the very least, he tried to bury the White House tapes. He didn’t go on CBS and do a half-hour with Walter Cronkite to explain how he’d erased the 18-and-a-half minutes. And it’s impossible to imagine the old crook’s capping off a week in which his primary descriptor was “Nixonian” by adding another count to the indictments—Witness Intimidation? Obstruction of Justice?—with a tweet like this one.

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At 8:30 a.m.? Is somebody running the country?

The more I think about it—and I’ve been thinking about it a lot—the more I think that the hard criminal core of this whole episode may have something to do with money laundering or something like it.

Sure, why not? It’s a good an explanation as any.

One of the things I will miss when I start working full time again is plopping down in front of CNN and watching “breaking news” and “developing stories.” These past few days have been especially mesmerizing as I watched the daily briefing with Spicer and Sanders, two of the oiliest personages I have ever seen trying to defend and deflect, continuing to bring up old, irrelevant issues (oh, and welcome back Kellyanne; I need to exercise my optics with eye rolls again). Of course we all know that who they work for so you give them a modicum of leeway, but after awhile, no, it’s them. They are low-level loathsome as they sneer at reporters.

Is it just me or is this whole “loyalty” situation sounding more and more like something out of The Godfather saga?

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Paper or plastic?

Had an interview a couple of weeks ago with a major grocery chain which was opening a new store not too far from home.

Stop rolling your eyes. Sorry, but I do not have the cachet of some of my colleagues, who have a great network, can make a couple of calls, and find themselves a new situation in short order.

I could keep holding out for a pie in the sky job in journalism that is going the way of the dodo, or I could suck it up and just try to get some “meaningful” work. I go back and forth between being embarrassed and needing to fulfill my responsibilities as a family man. Pride goeth before the fall.

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I first had a phone interview with this company — deemed one of the best in the country — that went very well. The questions were fairly cliché: “What would you do in X situation?” “Do you consider yourself a team player?” “Give me an example of x.” “If you were a tree…” (made that last one up). I gave what I thought were good (scripted) answers and sure enough, a few hours later I received another call from the company to set up an in-person meeting the following week.

I arrived at the office a bit early. I was so out of step in preparing for an interview, I left my wallet at home. Fortunately, I wasn’t asked to produce ID at the security desk, because there wasn’t one. (Also, driving without a license makes you extremely cautious.)

Image result for police interview roomAfter a brief wait in the reception area where a video of the wonderfulness of the company was playing on a monitor, I was greeted by two young women wearing company polo shirts with name tags. S and M (not their real initials) escorted me to an office that was totally devoid of character. By that I mean there were three chairs and a table. It reminded me of those interrogation rooms you see on TV crime shows. All that was missing was the two-way mirror (although I couldn’t swear there wasn’t a hidden camera someplace). In fact outside of the large front room, the rest of the facility, from what I could tell, was empty. That seemed a bit odd since the company had been in that location for several years.

Image result for bad interviewS and M — whom I would estimate to be younger than 35 — were equipped with clipboards and questionnaires, from which which they took turns, a few at a time, taking down — literally — everything I said. Perhaps one was making observational notes; after all, what would be the point of the redundancy? Even though they had my resumé, they followed the script precisely, asking me things that had absolutely nothing to do with my former employments. There was no independent thought on their parts, no reaction to anything I said that I believed might warrant a smile or even a chuckle. No curiosity. When I mentioned that I had been busy preparing for the release of my new book… nothing, like they have published authors coming in every day to work in the produce department, which I was informed was the position for which I was being considered. There were long silences as they scribbled on the papers, heads down. Awkward. Like what am I supposed to be doing for two minuts while you’re trying to catch up?

Truth be told, I became a bit bored and got a bit more expansive and dramatic in my answers, hoping to make a good impression and tell them what they wanted to hear. After about 45 minutes later, they escorted me out, saying they’d be letting me know, one way or the other, in one two weeks by phone, email, or written correspondence, again not wavering an iota from their script.

Image result for rejectionThe email came a few days ago. Thanks, but no. No explanation why not, just no. Could it be my age? Could it be they thought I would jump ship after they invested time and trouble training me to stack oranges? Wish I still had the original from which I could cut and paste.

On the one hand, I was kind of relieved. Hate to say it, but I could see some in my circle giving me the cold shoulder once I changed my collar from white to blue. They can’t understand how someone with my background and accomplishments can’t find a job. So this rejection eliminated that possibility. For now.

On the other hand, I still don’t have a job and no immediate prospects, which gets more depressing each passing day. The only thing that brings a tiny grin is that the book is still new so there are author appearances, interviews, and reviews to keep my mind engaged.

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