Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31, 2015--Hillary's Hair

There was a flap last week when Michelle Obama showed up on Jeopardy with what appeared to be a shaved head. The photos I saw tended to confirm that. She looked real good to me but I could only imagine what they must have been saying about her in the Heartland.

"You see. I told you. She's a militant. A black militant, and this proves it."

Well, there were official White House denials (about the hair). It seems she had her actual hair pulled way back in a tight bun.

This obsession about First Lady hair is nothing new. It goes back at least to Mamie Eisenhower's bangs and there was tons of commentary about Jackie's bouffants. But nothing, nothing like all the ink that has been spilled about Hillary Clinton's literally dozens of different looks. From her days when Bill was first a presidential candidate (shoulder-length hair and headband)  right up to this month (short, slightly off-center part, no bangs).

When I think about other prominent professional women (and men) most have "signature" hairdos. Condi Rice has that lacquered helmet with a dip of hair swept onto the left side of her forehead, Barbara Bush has that crown of soft white-gray curls, Dianne Feinstein consistently has a sweep of dark brown waves, Elizabeth Warren that unchanging Page Boy plus rimless signature glasses, while Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton's and Barack Obama's hair pretty much always looks the same, albeit in Obama's case grayer day by day.

Even those political women who have made some changes along the way have not done so as radically as Hillary. Senators Barbara Boxer and Kirsten Gillibrand come to mind.

When I asked Rona and Cousin Esther about this, simultaneously they said, "You just don't get it." But, I pointed out to them that they themselves have not swung from style to style over the years. Maybe this year a little longer, perhaps next a bit shorter. But that's pretty much it.

But do all the changes tell us anything about Hillary that we should know when considering her for the presidency?

Plenty. Just as her shape-shifting move from name to name to name tells us something.

Is she Mrs. Bill Clinton? Hillary Clinton? Hillary Rodham? Hillary Rodham Clinton? All of the above? Most likely the latter--all of the above--which would not be uncharacteristic of women of her generation who came to embrace feminism later in life. Women who had been raised to think that life for them would be determined largely by who they married. And then, in many cases, when that didn't prove to be satisfactory they came to acquire a liberated consciousness as fully formed adults--they weren't born to it as later generations of women were. Their feminism was put on, applied to an already-exisiting, well-developed sense of self.

But as with other forms of gender and cultural identities taken on later in life they do not always sit well. They are never fully assimilated, there are contradictions; and thus, in Hillary Clinton's case (a very special case indeed considering husband Bill's aberrant behavior and Hillary's serial public humiliations), living in the spotlight for decades, filled with unfulfilled ambitions of her own, she tried on different personalities as she tried on different names and hairstyles.

It comes with the territory when 67. All of this is very much who she is. Take it or leave it.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015--GOP Clown Car: The Minstrel Show

Considering that he's been widely featured in the news after becoming the first Republican to officially enter the race for the 2016 presidential nomination, I should probably write something about him. But there's nothing that unusual about Senator Ted Cruz as a candidate--the GOP has a long tradition of welcoming demagogues into leadership positions.

Recall, his spooky lookalike, Senator Joseph McCarthy, who, back in the 1950s, was for some years the nation's most powerful Republican. He snooped around ferreting out alleged Communists who had supposedly infiltrated Democratic ranks, making things up when the evidence was thin, ranting that there were thousands of actual Communists in government whereas there were just a handful.

Like his political alter ego, Cruz played the Red card when by innuendo he accused Barak Obama of being influenced by the Harvard Law School faulty which, he slimed, was substantially made up of Communists while Obama was there as a student.

What is interesting about Cruz is the nature of his demagoguery and his craven pandering to a Republican base which he pretends to represent. It is ironic that he has grabbed this representational mantle for himself considering that he has at least as elite an eastern establishment Republican patina as the president-in-waiting, Jeb Bush. Cruz actually has more elitist credentials--he went to Princeton as an undergraduate and was a top student at Harvard Law School whereas poor Jeb attended only the more utilitarian University of Texas and has no advanced degrees.

It will be quite a Svengali act for Cruz to pull this one off--to fool enough Tea Party folks that he's a man of the people.

As evidence of his bona fides, last week on the CBS Morning News he spoke about his musical conversion (he's all about conversions). With faux sincerity, he told about how though earlier he was a fan of "classic rock," after 9/11 since the "rock community" "didn't stand up," whereas country musicians did, he became and is now a devotee of all things country. I guess he missed all the concerts and benefits organized for first responders by the "rock community." Too isolated in that Harvard cocoon I suppose.

But today I am writing about another familiar Republican presidential archetype--the candidate who is the star of his own political minstrel show where, as a black men, he behaves in ways and says things openly about blacks that racist white Republicans talk about only in private. And by his very being gives credibility to what hard-working white folks in their hearts know to be true about lazy black folks.

He is neurosurgeon Ben Carson who, though barely paid attention to by the mainstream media, somehow still manages to come in sixth in lists of people most admired by Americans. Just below George W. Bush and slightly ahead of Stephen Hawking.

He is best know for leading a team of surgeons in 1987 in a 20-hour operation to separate Siamese twins joined at the head and then in 2013 for appearing at the National Prayer Breakfast and, with President Obama on the dais just ten feet away, delivered a speech in which he criticized Obama's health care and economic policies, dissing him to his face.

The next day he was embraced by Rupert Murdock's Wall Street Journal in an editorial titled, "Ben Carson for President." This based on a 15 minute speech at a congressional breakfast.

From that day forth he has been a Republican darling, and now, having given up his practice and making the rounds as a paid-for-play speaker articulating a vision for American that for all intents and purposes would eliminate our social safety nets and not give away our treasure to people (read of color) who are too lazy to support themselves and their families. He also delivers on rightwing hot social issues, as a "scientist," questioning evolution and comparing homosexuality to beastiality.

I call this a minstrel show because it is a performance pitched exclusively to the emotions of resentful and bigoted whites put on by the very kind of person (of color) who is the butt of the stereotyping.

Dr. Carson is at least the third in a string of such self-denogating African-American Republican presidential aspirants.

First, in 1995, there was Alan Keyes, a give-'em-hell talk show host who was best known for his violent opposition to abortion rights and his untutored ways. This alone would have been enough to excite the William Kristols of the world who at all times have an eye open for people they can benignly promote who speak to the subliminal fears and urges that can be used to manipulate the behavior of the Republican base. No matter Keyes was caught illegally paying himself out of campaign funds. Actually, perfect. This only confirmed that "they" cannot be trusted to responsibly handle money. There is that tendency, isn't there, they snicker, for "them," when money's around, to act "Nigger Rich."

Herman Kane was next and much, much more entertaining. Not only didn't he know what he was talking about when it came to economics (9-9-9) but when it came to foreign policy matters he appeared to be map-phobic. He not only couldn't see Russia from his house, he didn't even know how to locate it on the map. For country-club GOPers he was a living stereotype. "Them" himself.

And now comes along Ben Carson, another token gift to Republicans. He brings race front and center into the "debate." First, who better to excoriate Obamacare, seeing it as basically a program that the doers are taxed to provide for the takers, which he quickly translates into a form of economic redistribution from whites to blacks. To make this point explicitly, Carson frequently likens it and other Democrat-supported social programs to "slavery," with Obama, in this ironic case, the nation's chief plantation owner.

Among other things, a black man--Carson--holding a black man--Obama--who is also a Democrat as responsible for slavery, or its reintroduction, is a brilliant form of racist jujitsu that absolves Republicans of any responsibility for attempting to suppress minority voting rights or roll back Civil Rights legislation.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 26, 2015--Still Coughing

Still hacking away. Friday at the moment seems unlikely. I hope to be able to return on Monday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25, 2015--Ladies of Forest Trace: Wit & Wisdom Concluded

Here are the final six brief conversations with my mother about Obama, Oy Vey: The Wit and Wisdom of My 107-Year-Old Mother--


“The visiting nurse says I have an infection.”

“I suspected that. The cut on your ankle?”

“It could be worse.”

“Things always could be worse.”

“There you go being philo-physical again.”

“Sometimes I do try to put things in perspective. Hoping that maybe it would help—“

“For me there is only one kind of help.”

Fearing what she might be thinking I cut in to say, “You’re doing fine Mom for—“

“No ‘fors’ or ‘becauses’ tonight. I just want to go to sleep.”


“It has a subtitle.”

“A what?”

“The book, Obama, Oy Vey, has a subtitle so everyone who hears about it, even if they don’t know what oy vey means will—“

“They can talk to me.”


“About what I’m an expert in.”

“An expert?”

“An oy vey expert.”


“So talk to me about this wisdom business. About the wit we don’t have to talk.”

“You mean from the subtitle of my book about you?”

“What other book would I be talking about?  All I can read is the puzzle. And then only the acrosses.”

“You know how they say that one of the good things about getting older is that you acquire wisdom and--”

“About what I am acquiring I’d rather not discuss.”

“I’m not talking about those kinds of things.”

“But those are the things I live with. Every day. That’s my life.”

“I know about how frustrating it is for you to get older and—“

“What then are you talking about? The wisdom. The wit I know you said we are not talking about.”

“Not me. You’re the one who decided that.”

“Decided what? What do I decide these days?” She thought for a moment then added, “Maybe when to lie down.”

I let that pass and said, “What you have learned over all your years, are still learning, and which you are teaching--that’s the wisdom—“

“You call it wisdom when you can’t remember what day it is? How much wisdom is that?”

“Wisdom is not about remembering those kinds of things. It’s about—“

I could tell from her breathing that she had fallen asleep.


“Give me a for-instance of the wisdom part.”

My mother had returned to our interrupted conversation of a few days ago.

“For instance the time I asked you about Henry Cross.” I could hear her struggling to take in air.

“What a lovely boy. A wonderful family. Do you remember his mother, Bessie Cross?”

“Yes. She took care of me while you went back to work. To teaching. And how Henry slept in my room weekdays so Bessie could have a second job at night.

“And his aunt and uncle. Aunt Sis and Uncle Homer. Wonderful people. Do you remember them?” I knew recalling these times was making my mother happy.

“Yes. And that they came from South Carolina. Were field workers. Henry too during summers. They picked cotton.

“The things they needed to put up with.”

“Not just there,” I said, But here up north as well. Right in our own neighborhood.” I paused to let the memories wash over her. “As an example of your wisdom, do you remember just a few years ago when I told you the story about Henry who, as a Negro, was welcomed on the block where we lived in Brooklyn until he was old enough so that maybe, maybe one of my friend’s sister might be interested in him and then how I was told not to bring him with me when we played street games?”

“I had forgotten that until you reminded me about it.”

“And what did I ask you?” I took the chance to push her to recall something that would frustrate her if she couldn’t remember.

“I remember that too.” Her voice thickened to almost a whisper. “You asked me—“

I felt a gathering of tears and feared I had pressed too hard. So I completed the story for her.

“I asked you what I should have done when Henry was declared to no longer to be allowed to visit and how when he learned that he left East 56th Street, never to return. And how I let him leave, staying behind with my friends.”

Tears filled my eyes as well.

“I told you that you should have gone with Henry.”

“That’s the for-instance about wisdom you asked about.


“I’m not much of a reader anymore—except for my puzzle—but there’s one more thing I know.”

“What’s that?”

“That the subplot of your book isn’t true.”

“You mean my subtitle.”

“That’s what I said. It isn’t true. The oy vey book.”

Obama, Oy Vey: The Wit and Wisdom of My 107-Year-Old Mother.”

“That book.”

“You mean about the wit and wisdom part? I hope you agree that there’s a lot of both and—“

“Not that.”

“Then what’s not true?”

“I’m not your 107-year-old mother.’”

“But you are,” I insisted.

“Not until June.”

It was dawning on me what she had in mind. “I think—“

“Not until the 28th. June 28th. Then I’ll be your 107-year-old mother. Until then the book is not true.”

Self-satisfied, she chuckled and hung up.


“And remember—this I am remembering—now and after I am gone—“

“Do we need to talk about that?”

“Yes, we do.”

“All right then.”

“Now and after I am gone I will love you forever.”

To get information about the book, click below:

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 24, 2015--Ladies of Forest Trace: Wit & Wisdom

Here are the first four of ten brief conversations with my mother about my just published book--Obama, Oy Vey: The Wit and Wisdom of My 107-Year-Old Mother.

The other six will be available tomorrow. The link to the book is at the very bottom of this posting:


“You’re what?”

I mumbled, “Writing a book.”

“I can’t hear you. My batteries are dying.”

“A book,” I said louder, “I’m writing a book” my mother leaned toward me as if needing to read my lips.

“A book?”


“About education? Like your other ones?”

“No. This one is different. It’s about--” I was muttering again.

“About your travels? You’ve been everywhere.”

“Not exactly.”

“Whenever I turn around you’re somewhere else. Always running, running.”

“That’s not true, Mom, we spend months here in Florida every year to be close to you. And—“

“And then you run away to who knows where.”

“Also not true. We go to New York then to Maine and then come back here. We’ve been doing that now for seven years, as I said, to be--”

“Be with me. This is what you tell me. While waiting for me to—“

I cut her off. “Not waiting. Just to get away from the cold winters and to be able to see you often while—“

“While the same thing happens to me that happens to my batteries.”


She had me there since what she was saying was, in part, true. It was Rona’s idea seven years ago, when my mother turned 100, that since there would likely not be that much time remaining and we were not obligated to be anywhere particular, why not spend a few months a year close to her and enjoy some of her final days. And now those final days have stretched wonderfully and miraculously to almost seven full years and she is nearly 107.

“So then what is this book about?”



“You. The book’s about you. About the things we’ve talked about the past six or seven years.”

“About my aches and pains?”

“Some of that. But not that much since you’ve fortunately been blessed not to have too many of those or anything worse.”

“Worse it could always be.”

“And you’re not a complainer like so many—“

Alta cockers.”

I ignored that and said, “The book is more about how you reflect on the meaning of your very long life, your ideas and concerns about the next generation, the changes you’ve seen, the things you are still looking forward to. Are passionate about.”

“That I can tell you in one sentence.”

“What’s that?”

“That what I look forward to these days is my next nap. So hurry up before I fall asleep on the phone.”

In fact on occasion she has nodded off while we were talking so I rushed to say, “Let me give you an example.”

“Speak louder.”


“Was I dreaming?”

“I don’t know. About what?”

“What else.”

I knew about the what-else. “That’s understandable, Mom. After all—“ I was struggling to be honest but couldn’t bring myself to be. For what purpose, I asked myself. Sometimes it makes more sense to ignore and pretend.

“Did you say you’re writing a book?”


“So I do remember things. One or two things.” She chuckled.

“More than that.” That at least was half true.

“About me?”

“Yes. And me. The things we’ve been talking about. For years. How much you’ve taught me and--”

“Now all I have to talk about is what they make me for lunch. Cottage cheese and fruit and sometimes chicken soup. About this I know and talk about. So about cottage cheese you’re writing a book?

“Not exactly.”


“What’s it called then? The book.”

“I’m not sure you’ll like the title or some of the things I’ve written. But still I want you to know what it’s about.”

“I don’t have all day so just—“

Obama, Oy Vey.”

“What’s that?”

“That’s what the publisher is calling it.”

“I know one thing.”

“What’s that?”

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Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015--Sick Day

I'm fighting a thick cold but will return tomorrow with the first part of a two-part Ladies of Forest Trace.

Friday, March 20, 2015

March 20, 2015--Betty Carol's (Concluded)

There were not just a few folks squeezed together at a table by the window. The rest of the place was bustling. There were about ten tables and all but one, which we slipped into, were full. And opposite an open kitchen, along a counter, there were six stools, five of which were occupied. There was also a line at the counter of at least six men waiting to pick up takeout food.

The grill was sizzling and at least half the people were talking simultaneously so the place had a homey buzz. And the aromas emerging from the kitchen incited our appetites, which on their own were quite advanced.

"Are you sure it's almost ten o'clock Rona whispered. "I mean, look at this place. Lumberton seems to be quite a small town and it feels as if half the people who live here must be having breakfast."

"And, it looks as if they all know each other."

There was lots of cross table talk as well as joshing and back slapping at the counter. Black and white together, though at the tables white folks appeared to be sitting primarily with other white folks and the same was true for the black customers. But there was enough cross-race byplay to make it feel far from segregated. I was reminded of the fact that Greensboro, where the lunch-counter sit-in movement began in the 1960s, was not that distant.

"How far we've come," I said to as if myself. But I know Rona heard me, understood, and nodded.

"Let's order," she said. "I'm starving and could go for some eggs and grits."

"Me too," I said. "And I see they have country ham. My favorite. All for $4.75. You can't beat that price."

"Don't get used to it," Rona said, "We're headed to Manhattan where, if we go to Balthazar for breakfast, half a grapefruit costs $11.00."

"Maybe more," I said."We were there three months ago and there's inflation to consider." I was attempting to make a joke.

"Let's just enjoy ourselves," Rona said, "and for once not think about the cost of things."

By then one of the waitresses came by with a steaming pot of coffee. With a smile she poured two cups and said she'd be back in a minute to take our orders. And as promised, she was and we both ordered scrambled eggs, grits, country ham, and homemade biscuits.

Looking over at the table behind Rona I ogled the stack of biscuits. The man who had ordered them winked as if to assure us that we chosen wisely. And um, um did we ever. The eggs came perfectly scrambled, floating on top of a large plate of anything-but-instant grits; and a sliver of country ham, just as leathery as I like it, accompanied it on a second dish with our own stack of biscuits.

Everything was delicious and as we gobbled the food the waitress returned repeatedly to refill our cups. Though it was easy to see that we were not locals, in fact from the location of Betty Carol's and the fact that Lumberton has few if any tourist or historic sites (I learned later that it was the setting for David Lynch's Blue Velvet) anyone unfamiliar had to be from out of town. But, as a sweet courtesy she asked, "Are you from here?"

"Not really," Rona said. "We're from the city. I mean, New York City."

"Now that's some place to be from," she smiled broadly. "I think about getting up there one of these days. I have family in New York."

"Where's that?" I asked.

"Never been there but my mother says right by the capital."

"That would be Albany."

"That's what she thinks. She's never been there neither. It's just somethin' we time-to-time think about doing. Helps keep us going."

"Well, if you do visit, try to work in a few days in New York City. It's not that far from Albany," Rona added.

"They say things up there cost a lot." I thought again about the $11.00 grapefruit.

"True enough. But if it's . . ."

"Be right by, honey. They're makin' a racket over there. Can't pour 'em coffee fast enough. If that was me, you'd have to carry me out a here, what with all that caffeine. But I'll be right back."

While she was serving the men at the counter, the stream of people coming in for takeout didn't abate, though it was getting close to the time they shut down breakfast and switch to a buffet lunch. Having noticed that, Rona and I had wondered if we should stop eating our breakfast and also think about lunch. I had gone to the bathroom and needed to skirt by where they were cooking fried chicken and okra for the buffet. I had reported to Rona what was in the works.

"All you can eat for only seven dollars," I said.

"There you go again talking about the cost of things. Can't we just . . ."

Before she could finish her thought our waitress returned, still smiling. "All the fellas are askin' 'bout you. Specially when I told them where you're from. Jackie over there, the one dressed like Snoop Dogg--the one standin' by George-Willie--he has been tryin' to make things happen for himself here but there's nothing going on but this." She swept the room with a broad gesture. "Which is not big enough for him."

"What does he do?" Rona asked. I saw that he did in fact look a lot like Snoop Dogg. Minimally he was inspired by him.

"A musician," she sighed. "All the boys here are either musicians or playing basketball. Hoping they'll get a ticket out a here. Though as you can see, folks seem pretty happy to be in this place. Not just at Betty Carol's but in this town too. We do our complainin' but it's not such a bad place to be. Look around. People from all walks get along. Mind you, it's not perfect. What place is? But life's good here. Still, I understand. I have a couple of boys myself and all I hear about are LeBron James and Jay-Z. A lot of these boys don't want to work timbering or in one of the plants or do healthcare work. They have big dreams. Though I tell my boys it's the quality of life that counts. Family first but then there are all these fine folks here who have figured out how to live together. To my mind that counts for something.'"

"It does for me too," I said. "Those are good values."

"You folks plannin' on staying for lunch? Horace over there he makes some mean fried chicken."

"I'm all full up," Rona said. Her dish looked as if she has scraped it. "Maybe we'll take some with us to nibble on the road."

"Sounds good to me," the waitress said, all excited. "By the way, my name's Mary." She reached out to shake both our hands as we also introduced ourselves. "You prefer white or dark?"

"How 'bout a mix of both?" I said.

"Perfect choice," she said. "I'll have it for you in a minute. In the meantime, can I pour you some more coffee?"

"I've had more than my quota," I said, covering my cup with my hand.

"By the way," she said, "today's my 45th birthday. I know I don't look it," she laughed, "Gettin' to know you is my favorite present."

Back in the car, Rona said, "What did you mean about no one having any teeth? That wasn't very nice. They all looked fine to me. Mostly quite spiffy. Including that Snoop fellow. He had the Dogg's act down perfectly."

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 19, 2015--Snowbirding: Betty Carol's for Breakfast

I whispered, "I don't think anyone here has teeth."

Rona shushed me. We had made a long detour off I-95 shortly after crossing the North Carolina boarder to seek out Betty Carol's, a breakfast place in Lumberton that our GPS listed.

"It's almost ten o'clock and I'm starving. And you need to get some coffee into you before we get back on the interstate. The traffic is already building up and you'll need to concentrate."

We finally found it, seemingly an enterprise of Breath of Life Ministries, Inc. with which it shares a building.

"That must be why there are so many cars here," I said. "For the Ministries. At nearly ten, we'll be lucky if the place is even still open. In small towns like this everyone is finished with breakfast by eight. On the other hand, Betty Carol's must be where the Ministries gives homeless people coffee and something hot to eat in the morning."

"It does look as if all the lights are out. But," Rona said, squinting into the sun. "I think I see someone at a table by the window. Let's hurry. Maybe we'll at least be able to get a quick cup of coffee."

"Though maybe we'll have to pretend to be homeless." Gently, Rona slapped me.

Nearly two hours later we reluctantly left. "If we didn't have to get back to the city, I'd suggest we look for a place to stay for a couple of days so we could come back here for a couple of more mornings."

It was that good. In fact, anyone who follows these blogs knows we are devotees of breakfast places, ranging from the cool chic of Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, California to the very modest but cozy Bristol Diner in Bristol, Maine.

But for food, way off-the-road setting, the crowd, schmooziness, down-home-feeling, exterior and interior ambience, friendliness, and diversity it doesn't get any better than Betty Carol's.

"You know how we always say," Rona said, "Places with names made up of two first names often turn out to be terrific. 'Betty Carol's'--this place tops them all."

To be concluded tomorrow . . .

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 18, 2015--Recovering

We just finished driving 1,200 miles to get back to NYC and I'm pooped. But I will return to this spot on Thursday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 17, 2015--Scott Walker: Take One

By some accounts, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is the GOP front runner for the 2016 presidential nomination. Jeb Bush, with his last name and all the money has been able to extract, is close behind.

To some this is shocking--how could a politician whose claim to fame is that he took on the state's municipal unions, but is unsure where Iraq is on the map, how could he be the front runner when someone as senior and well-bred, as well-tutored and well-financed as Jeb be barely hanging on to second place?

Perhaps precisely because Walker is not senior, not well-bred, not well-tutored, and not yet well-financed. He's the "not" candidate.

The Republican base, which Walker primarily appeals to, is fed up with the well-educated and well-sired, and like the appearance that he is running on the cheap without the help of the Adelsons and Kochs. They also love the fact that Walker took on the unions. So much so that they jumped with glee the other day in a speech to CPAC when he claimed that confronting the unions prepared him to battle ISIS.

Members of the permanent government and the remnants of the mainstream press were aghast while in Peoria and all over Iowa the base ate it up. To them it was red meat. And though red meat will kill you, they still can't get enough of it.

Members of the Establishment don't get the emotional power of this anti-union thing. Especially the particular animus Walker and his coven have toward municipal workers--benign folks such as teachers, the police, firefighters, sanitation workers, county clerks, EMS responders.

Most of them aren't making out-of-line salaries and they are often provide vitally needed services. So what's the story?

With the economy uncertain, with people who have basic private sector jobs worried about their declining pension savings and whether or not their jobs will be off-shored to India, with their cost of health care continuing to rise (though at a slower rate thanks to Obamacare), with their kids more and more in debt with student loans, they look at how tenured teachers are doing, how firefighters are faring, how cops in their neighborhoods are retiring after 20-25 years of service at 80 percent of their last year's salary (bulked up by overtime), retiring at 50-55 with guaranteed pensions and lifetime healthcare coverage, and it makes them resentful, envious, and mad as hell.

Walker, who never even entered college, embodies all those frustrations and provides the delicious spectacle of beating up on these workers and their unions.

So he's number one in the current polls, but of course last time around even Donald Trump was in the lead. For about a week. As was Michele Bachmann. Also for a week. And we know what happened to them. The smart money (or the big money) may be on Jeb Bush but the action and passion on the ground is with Scott Walker.

As my grandmother used to say, "We'll see."

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