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By Bob Frederickson

From Clueless in Hollywood to Jobless in Newtown

Sean Penn’s Least Convincing Role

In his latest real-life portrayal, man of action Sean Penn fancies himself some sort of journalistic messiah on a mission to save the profession from itself after a generation of steep decline. So what does he do in the course of his ‘heroic’ exclusive interview with Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo for that bastion of media ethics, Rolling Stone Magazine? Why, he agrees to let the ruthless drug lord read his finished story prior to publication and ‘kill’ the piece if it’s not to his liking.
It’s as if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein would have replaced their editor Ben Bradlee with Richard Nixon during the Watergate years. 
If they only handed out Oscars for ‘Greatest Demonstration of Hubris by a Deluded Narcissist…’

Another Take on Donald Trump?

When Donald Trump’s limousine broke down a few years back, a couple stopped to help him out. A few days later, their mortgage was paid off. No press release announced the act of gratitude. It just happened…quietly. This anecdote, from Jerry Falwell Jr., is offered as a counterpoint to the relentless media portrayal of the Donald as a heartless buffoon…a picture I have on occasion been guilty of furthering in this space and in other musings. I remain undecided about his candidacy…but anecdotes like this – and other similar accounts I have read – lead me to believe there is more to the man than the one dimensional portrait of him so often painted in the press – and even by his own words at times.

Quote of the Day…

Truth is like poetry.Unfortunately, most people hate poetry. – From the film ‘The Big Short.’

When Seconds Count, the Police are Just Minutes Away…

I didn’t attend the recent Sarasota Police Department’s public confab on “How to Survive a Mass Shooting.” So I guess if I’m confronted with that unfortunate circumstance, I’ll have to rely on some ridiculous plan of my own.
Here’s one that comes to mind:

1. Take cover. 2. Remove lawfully obtained, concealed firearm from holster 3. Shoot lowlife reprobate trying to kill me and those around me.
Unless of course I’m in one of the gun-free ‘safe’ zones embraced by so many of our ‘concerned’ public servants, like Sarasota School Board member Caroline Zucker. In that case – and looking on the bright side  – I’ll likely achieve the status prized above all others in our modern, enlightened culture: that of victim.

Singers Needed…

Love to sing? Love baseball? Want to show off your talents before a crowd of up to 7,000? Here’s your chance. The Pittsburgh Pirates will be holding auditions January 30th for 16 ‘roster’ slots available for individuals interested in performing the national anthem before the team’s 16 home games during this year’s spring training schedule. Oh, and there’s one additional place in the spotlight for someone to sing the Canadian National Anthem, ‘Oh Canada,’ before the team’s March 3rd match-up with Toronto.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to sing this notoriously difficult anthem, simply show up on the 30th of January between 10:00 AM and noon at McKechnie Field in Bradenton.

Sorry, Vegans: Eating Meat is How you Got so Darned Smart!

Eating meat and cooking food is how humans got their big brains. So says a recent study certain to rile the ‘grazers’ among us.
“Vegetarian, vegan and raw diets can be healthful. But to call these diets “natural” for humans is a bit of a stretch in terms of evolution…” says a  study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Turns out our brains needed protein to develop early on, and meat was on the menu big time to fuel that development.

The Cost of Raising the Minimum Wage

Five or six years back, Wal-Mart wanted to build one its Super Centers east of North Washington Boulevard near Newtown. But among the many community demands the company was unwilling to agree to was one centered on a minimum starting wage for employees well above what was then the federal standard. Those community leaders also wanted the store to guarantee that a sizeable, specified quota of the needed new hires would be residents of Newtown, even if better qualified candidates from elsewhere applied for the open positions.
As mentioned, the company balked and a tremendous opportunity to bring jobs, convenience and economic activity to an area of Sarasota sorely in need of all three was lost.

Now recent earning reports from the giant retailer validate the retailer’s strategy back then by showing what happened when that same strategy was abandoned more recently. Last year the company knuckled under to national pressure to increase wages across the board, hiking its minimum wage to $9.00 an hour in April. So what happens? By November the company  disclosed a ten percent decline in earnings per share, citing rising labor cost as the biggest reason for the decline. So now instead of adding jobs in places like Newtown, the company will undertake a different kind of ‘Rollback,’ one that cuts jobs instead of prices. The retailer announced recently it will close 154 stores in the U.S. this year, throwing 10,000 Americans out of work.

How is the simple logic of this tale lost on the Democratic candidates for president, all three of whom called again in their most recent debate for a $15.00 and hour minimum wage? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that not one of them has ever had to worry about meeting a payroll.

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