Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The LAST person to defend Trump

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Yes, I watched the debate last night. Then dug in for an enjoyable evening of reading comments on Facebook and Twitter. Yee haw.

This morning, a friend of mine posted this on FB:

“Believe me, when I say I am the LAST person to defend Trump, but to everyone that is focusing their energy on mocking him for saying ‘Bigly,’ go back and listen again (if you can stomach it). I could be wrong, but I think he’s saying ‘Big League.’ ”

I’m not going to defend “bigly” — which is not in Webster’s New World Dictionary or Webster’s New World College Dictionary, which I consider the sources for proving (or disproving) such matters; however, I should note that “big lie” is in there, and perhaps that’s what Trump was fishing for. Of course.

But, going to the heart of the matter while parsing the language, I still don’t think my too-generous friend is on firm ground.

  • Because I think the LAST person to defend Trump would be one of those ex-wives.
  • Next-to-last would be all those vendors he screwed.
  • Then it would be all the employees and all the lenders shafted in his six bankruptcies.
  • Then it would be his GOP rivals who didn’t cave.
  • Then Bill, then Hillary, then Chelsea.

(I’m sure I’m forgetting others.)

Comparatively, and with all due respect, by the time it gets to my friend, he’s practically a supporter.



About walls

Friday, September 23rd, 2016


“Walls are for hiding behind. Americans don’t hide.” So says my friend the writer and performer and patriot Ernest Kearney. Check it out here.

Don’t sweat the Brexit

Friday, June 24th, 2016


I got up this morning and screamed, “Sell everything!” I put my house on the market, gathered up the guns and ammo, loaded up the vehicles with water and canned goods, and got ready to set off for the mountains. After all, the English, who clearly are at the root of all of the world’s economy, controlling as they do some fraction of 2.5% of the world’s economy, had voted to pick up their Crackerjacks and go home!

Then I read this, from my friend Jane Beule of financial planning firm Griffin Black.

So now all of us have more time to work on our doomsday prep. Newly advised by Jane, I started unloading the minivan.

Next week:  Those Killer Bees — they’re getting closer!


Turning up the heat

Monday, June 20th, 2016


Yesterday was a record-breaking temperature here in Burbank, CA — 109 degrees. Except today it went above that. All I can say is, I can’t wait for this global-warming hoax to come to an end. By the way, the photo above, of the temperature outside my car when I had to run a brief errand today, reads 108 degrees. It’s blurry because reality was starting to melt all around us.

Speaking of reality melting, the Senate just voted down legislation that would have banned gun sales to suspected terrorists. Let me repeat that:  a week after 49 people in Florida were murdered, and another 53 wounded, by a man that many of these very same Senators said was associated with terrorism (others have their doubts), the Senate said no to legislation to ban gun sales to suspected terrorists. Because, you know, why do that? It’s also notable that probably the least-voting member of the Senate, “Little” Marco Rubio, made the journey to Washington, D.C. in order to vote against the measure.

And what’s the state he theoretically represents?


Bringing in the big guns

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

I’ve been stewing in my anger from the Orlando shooting, and spent far too much time today online debating zealots who somehow still think ISIS is to blame — or, better, OBAMA. As I wrote to one, re the ISIS theory, “Let’s assume you’re right. And that’s an assumption — neither one of us knows. But I’ll capitulate. Can we ban the AR-15 now? Because even if the guy was from outer space, he BOUGHT THE GUN LEGALLY HERE IN THE SAME WEEK HE MURDERED PEOPLE WITH IT.” Rather than tackle that, my Facebook correspondent pivoted to blaming Obama, which prompted this reply from me:  “I hadn’t realized until now that the President of the United States was responsible for this massacre. I thought it was a guy with an AR-15. Thank you for the clarity.”

So it was that sort of day, with me venting my anger with no real purpose. Except momentary bursts of satisfaction, sure. (As opposed to the rapid-fire stream of killing pleasure afforded by the AR-15.)

Finally, I just decided to go to the gym and take it out on the weights.

But when I got home I saw this: now dozens of former military leaders — including generals — have banded together to create a new gun control group.

Take THAT, National Rifle Association. Now the big guns are aimed at you.

Said retired Marine Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, “Felons, domestic abusers, even known terrorists can buy a gun here without something as simple as a criminal background check. This has to stop.” Thank you, general.

Well do I remember what just the moms were able to accomplish with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. (Stringent new enforcement in 50 states.)  The gun lobby has alienated the moms, but also the dads, children, gays, government workers, and now even military leaders. Now we have a shot at reform.

And let me repeat, as I’m going to keep doing, I’m not against guns for hunting, or target practice, or self-defense. I’m against gun massacres.

Shooting for hope

Monday, June 13th, 2016


Yesterday morning I awoke to the news that someone had stormed into a gay club in Orlando, FL and killed about 50 people and wounded about another 50 and was holding some people hostage until finally the police were able to kill him.

You’ve already heard that story. I know.

You’ve heard it many times by now, with little variations.

Sometimes involving government workers as the victims, or people in an office, or shoppers, or people out for a movie, or even children.

I don’t have anything to say about this that you haven’t already heard elsewhere. I will just add that over the past day I’ve vacillated between being very sad about it and being very angry. Because it is never true that “nothing can be done,” I’m leaning heavily toward being angry.


Because this particular mass murderer had gays in his crosshairs, I thought I’d share this.

Yesterday, by coincidence, mere hours after I awoke to find that a man incensed about gay people had targeted and killed dozens of them, spraying them with bullets in a place they’d gone to drink and dance and meet each other, I went to see probably the foremost musical of our lives that celebrates diversity and difference, “La Cage Aux Folles.” I didn’t particularly feel like fighting traffic downtown to see it when what I really wanted to do was be angry on the internet and in my personal writing, but a female friend and I had set this date about six weeks ago, so I went. It turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Not just because “La Cage,” which focuses on a gay couple and their farcical adventures at their drag-queen nightclub, celebrates the basic human empathy that I believe dwells in most of us.

Not just because this particular production, courtesy of East West Players, one of the nation’s premier Asian theatre companies, is glorious. (Just the sheer professionalism of it all — the singing, dancing, acting, choreography, costumes, everything — was remarkable.)

Not just because I laughed large and loud.

But also because:  The makeup of the audience told me that the haters have already lost.

It wasn’t a “gay” audience. And it wasn’t an “Asian” audience. It was just an audience, an audience made up of white, black, yellow and brown, gay and straight, male and female, old and young. A mixed-race couple in front of me (Caucasian and Asian) had brought their son, who I figure is 10. Behind me sat a Chinese man with his elderly mother. A few seats to my left and a row ahead were a white hetero couple in their 70s. I saw a young black woman in the back, and also a girl strapped into an upright wheelchair. And on and on.

All of us were there, together, for a celebratory expression of tolerance, understanding, and joy. Big, pure joy.

Do I want things done about our epidemic of mass shootings? Yes. In the meantime, whatever happens, do I think it likely that anyone can turn back the tide of history —  especially now that sentiment travels instantaneously around the world —  that ultimately will draw us all closer together? No.

So I’m going to hold onto my rage — truly nurture it — so that the deaths of the people in Florida, and Colorado, and Connecticut, and Texas, and California, and practically everywhere else in the U.S., for whatever “reasons” the various shooters gave, aren’t for nothing. I’m going to talk to my Congressman about the legislation I believe in, and I’m going to send him some money, and send some other money elsewhere against other people. And I’m going to keep telling everyone:  I’m not against guns, and I’m not against hunting or target shooting or self-protection — but I’m against gun massacres, and this has to stop.

But while I’m doing all this, I’m going to hold onto hope. Because sooner or later, we will win.



Monday, May 16th, 2016


Question / joke of the day

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Bernie Sanders is laying off hundreds of staffers.

What kind of socialist lays off people?

The urban jungle

Sunday, April 10th, 2016


Boarded-up tenement. Residence. Boarded-up tenement. Boarded-up tenement. Residence.

Welcome to West Baltimore.

I’ve seen urban decay before, but nothing like this. Yesterday my 13-year-old son and I had the privilege of a guided tour through the worst examples of poverty and despair and hopelessness I’ve ever seen in this country. Worse than Newark, worse than areas of the Bronx or Coney Island, worse than the Atlantic City Inlet, certainly far worse than South Central Los Angeles, worse than, well, any redlined written-off ghetto anywhere near you.


In most of those places, whole neighborhoods are gone — people have moved out. Not in Balmer. In Balmer, the vacant and nailed-shut houses are threaded through the remaining living spaces, like a cancer woven around and penetrating essential organs. There’s still healthy tissue in there — the occasional house with a clean front porch, or bunting, or a mailbox with mail in it. But the dark spots are everywhere.



There’s also nothing to do. By that I mean there are no jobs. Because there are no businesses. There are still people living there, which ought to equal business opportunity (bearing in mind the entrepreneur Magic Johnson’s quote that “there’s always money to be made in the ghetto.”). But no, nothing. And later I learned that the area isn’t just a jobs desert — it’s also a transportation desert. There’s no subway or train or even bus line that comes here; in many cases, if someone could find a job, he’d have to walk two miles to get there. So there’s no way to get to a job, and there aren’t any jobs from neighborhood businesses because there aren’t any neighborhood businesses. Except one kind. The corner liquor store. Found on every corner. Just as you’ve seen on “The Wire.”



The city has counted 15,000 abandoned buildings. But there may be as many as 40,000. They can’t be sure. And judging purely from the evidence of their inner city, I wouldn’t rely on city officials to generate an accurate count because they don’t seem reliable in other ways. There’s also — of course! — a large homeless population that fluctuates between 3,000 and 30,000 people a night. So  you’ve got 15,000-40,000 empty buildings — and 3,000-30,000 people sleeping outside. I don’t need to say anything further; this makes its own statement.

I did get to meet a number of hard-working courageous people in the private and non-profit sectors who are trying to improve the situation. I’m impressed with the work of some of them, and I’m sure that this situation can be improved, because it’s hard to imagine it worse.  Finding a way to replace some of the 100,000 jobs Baltimore has lost in the last 50 years would be an excellent start. Finding a way to help neighborhood businesses sprout up with be great too.

I asked my son what was his impression of West Baltimore and first he said that there’s nothing for people to do there. (Especially children:  we didn’t see any parks, but we did see signs mandating “no ball playing here.”) Then he shared the image that will most stay with him. In some of these buildings, he said, with their windows shattered or a roof collapsed or a wall knocked out, he saw trees growing inside. Whole, large, growing, thriving trees.

West Baltimore is becoming a literal urban jungle.



What took so long?

Friday, April 1st, 2016

According to the LA Times, Donald Trump is  now the least popular American politician in three decades.

That’s less popular than the guy who lied under oath, the other guy who called the President “liar” during a state of the union speech, the people who led us into war against people who didn’t attack us, and the guy who went “hiking” while secretly visiting a mistress south of the border. That’s less popular than the KKK member who ran for governor of Louisiana and his opponent who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for racketeering. Trump is even less popular than Ralph Nader was among Democrats post-2000.


It’s just another success in a long line of similar achievements.