Pick Your Bogeyman


I blew it on air yesterday.

I have been known over the years for my volcanic ballistic rants; sometimes against elected officials or the politics of the day, sometimes against something a listener says during an on air conversation. Yesterday I went postal over a caller's comment. It went something like this:

"Hi, this is Lenny. You're on the air. Who are we talking to and where are you calling from?"

"This is Bill from Kenosha."

"What's on your mind, Bill? Fire away."

"Well," We had been talking about a recent "flash mob" incident in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood and apparent police inaction over the racially charged (black on white) attacks.

Well," Bill continued. "What do you expect from a legal system when all of the elected officials are lawyers and they write the laws?"

I'd heard the argument hundreds of times over the 15 years I've been on the air and gave Bill my standard response. "Let's not forget that a lot of the Founding Fathers were lawyers, Bill. Hell, Abe Lincoln was an attorney."

Bill's quick response triggered my even quicker temper tantrum. "I know you have to say that because one of your sponsors is a law firm and you don't want to upset them," he said.

Now, there is nothing I take more personally than my relationship with those who pay to have me endorse their products or services. I have to meet them, know them or try whatever they're selling and then approve it. I have rejected a few over the years and people know that I take my endorsements very seriously. If I endorse something I know not to be a solid product, or a is crappy restaurant, or a sleazy attorney, or a fly by night auto mechanic pretty soon my word will mean nothing, and if my word means nothing with my endorsements, what is my word worth when I report or comment on the local news? I teed off on Bill, told him he'd crossed the line and generally descended into one of the froth-at-the-mouth temper tantrums that used to punctuate my early shows. I'm going to do something unusual on today's show: I'm going to apologize to Bill. Not easy for an egomaniac like me to admit he was wrong.

Wrong for losing my cool, I mean. But there was something else in Bill's comment that really set me on edge: his (and all of ours) propensity to find a bogeyman and blame that black hat for whatever social/political ill that has captured the national's nano-second attention span. So who is your bogeyman?

I have a few buddies who pompously declare that they'll never buy the cheap Chinese goods at Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart has single-handedly ruined the American retailer. I always respond that Wal-Mart only responded to the desires of the American consumer. They respond by lifting their chins Mussolini-style in silent judgement. They buy their cheap Chinese goods at Target instead.

The Greedy Lawyers?
A favorite talk-radio whipping boy. Lawyers are repeatedly referred to as sharks, mercilessly feeding off a vulnerable public and writing laws that favor themselves. Lincoln was a lawyer. He wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. All by himself. In fact, many of our Presidents good and bad, were attorneys.

The Greedy Doctors?
I'm going to have three in my family. My older son is now a dentist on staff at Children's Memorial Hospital in Pittsburg. He graduated president of his class at NYU and owes about a half million in student loans. He is continuing his studies while he works and will become a pediatric dentist in two years. My older daughter is studying at the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque. She is going to become a nurse practitioner and will also continue her medical studies as she works. Her ultimate goal is to become an osteopath. My younger daughter is 18 months from graduating as an optometrist from the Chicago School of Optometry. She and her sister are also going to be deep in hock for student loans. I want them to make lots of money to pay off those loans, and am confident they will. They will all be fine health care providers, and should be well compensated for their efforts. I don't know about you, but if I'm going under the knife for any reason, I want the man/woman performing the procedure to be at the top of the pay scale. I don't want the doc cracking my chest and replacing my ticker to be on call from "Hearts R Us."

Greedy Teachers?
This is everybody's favorite whipping boy, and in this case sometimes they deserve it. I have found most teachers to be solid, hard-working folks but there are those few who do their damnedest to give the profession a bad name. Most of these are union firebrands. I have nothing against organized labor, but I have mixed feelings about teachers' unions, having been on the receiving end of their wrath for a perceived insult. That notwithstanding, we need good teachers dedicated to their task.

Wall Street?
This bunch has shot themselves in the foot so many times in the past few decades that it makes it tough to defend them. Suffice it to say that every damned retirement/pension plan in America is in the hands of these mopes, and if you think they're the devil incarnate you should probably pull your monies away from them. You won't, though, because all well-deserved criticism aside, these guys do know how to make money.

Right Wing Hate Radio?
I've been accused of this infinite times over the years, but nothing could be further from the truth. People hear what they want to hear, and will selectively edit a talk show host's comments to support their own views of said host.

Left Wing Hate Radio?
I've been accused of this infinite times over the years. Please check the previous comment.

The Evil Drug Companies?
Let's see: you want pills to pick you up, pills to slow you down, pills to cure your pain, pills to pump you up, pills to get your blood pumping, pills to lower your blood pressure, pills to fight infection, pills to get an erection, pills for this and pills for that and you want all of them now and you blame the drug companies for giving you what you demand?

Knucklehead Politicians
This is my favorite on-air whipping boy, and to tell you the truth it's gonna be very difficult to give our elected officials any positive credit these days. In fact, I can't. I believe this is the worst bunch we've had running this country from top to bottom since the 20 years prior to the Civil War, and you know what that bunch got us into. But we voted these guys in; the very few of us who vote, that is, and the responsibility for current crop of elected knuckleheads therefore lands directly into our collective lap. You get what you pay for. Or vote for, in this case.

So there they are. Pick your poison. Have any favorites you think need any inclusion here?

Let me finish with the quote made famous by Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Lenny Palmer 7/7/2011


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