Sunday, June 29, 2008

'Use Less' Gas Tax

Gasoline is ridiculously expensive. Every gallon we buy takes a bite out of our savings and our future. Politicians ever on the alert to divert your attention and get their names on the front page speak about gas tax holidays but the reality is that that is no solution.
Now don’t get me wrong, if they wish to abolish that unfair tax I would not turn them down but we all know it is a Band-Aid on an amputation. The price of a gallon of gas, with or without taxes will soon be in the $7 range and Americans will have to decide whether or not they wish to take a drive anywhere this summer.
There is always talk about more taxes for the gas guzzling vehicles and for energy wasting corporations but that is just political slight of hand once again. The drivers of those insanely large, low mileage SUVs and trucks are being punished for their stupidity as it is without adding insult to injury. Until someone comes up with a viable solution to oil as our only real choice for energy we must reward those of us who conserve it.
The average American is said to drive around 10,000 miles per year so why not set that number up as the zero point? If you drive less than that you receive a tax credit.
Details of the plan could be worked out so as to be fair to drivers who must use their vehicles for work. Basically the mileage would be logged in at the time the vehicle is inspected. Then that mileage would be sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the tax liability or credit would be determined at that time. The driver would receive a notice he would use when filing his taxes for the following year.
There are many ways to get us out of this crisis and while this is not a solution it is at least a step in the right direction and one even a politician could love.

Bush & Mugabe

In Zimbabwe this week they held a general election for the office of President. The world saw this as a sad exercise in futility and self-delusion as the election was between current ruler/dictator, Robert Mugabe and himself. The only opposition to Mugabe was Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change and he had been run out of the country, let alone the election by mobs of Mugabe supporters hell bent on killing him.
President George W. Bush said that he was disappointed in Mugabe for allowing the election to deteriorate into a one man race by the use of physical force and intimidation. President Bush was heard to say that Mugabe, “Should have cheated his way into the office fair and square like I did.”

Armed and Dangerous but Legal

This week the Supreme Court, armed with the power to change laws voted to ban the ban on handguns in America. Every American citizen now has the right to carry a gun, according to the dangerous 5 to 4 decision handed down by the justices.
The funny thing is that in poll after poll it appears that more Americans agree with the decision than do not. That surprised me until I realized that polls can and do lie. The polls also told us that George Bush won the last two Presidential elections and any intelligent human being knows that he did not. Unfortunately by adding the intelligent human being part I actually left out Mr. Bush.
But the decision is an interesting one because it claims to be the will of the founders of our country that Justice Scalia and his ‘right thinking’ friends on the court cited as their reason to allow everyday citizens to arm themselves. The fact that the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association will gain tremendously by this decision should merely be considered collateral damage.
But there will be more damage in the months to come. And although I really hope I am wrong how can we sanely place a gun in the hands of every citizen and not expect at least some fallout?
With our current spike toward seven dollar a gallon gas and an economy that is spiraling toward a recession faster than you can say soup kitchens is it really a large leap to lawlessness? A recent political cartoon by Chan Lowe of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel showed woman in an SUV offering the keys to her car to a man with a gun pointed at her. His response was, “Dream on. I just want your gas.”
The second amendment to our constitution has been fought over for over 200 years. Unfortunately our founders wrote it in such a way as to be vague in meaning and subject to interpretation by whoever was in power at the time of the reading. That means that the people now get to carry guns. But the original words should be read with an eye and an ear of a historian as well as a constitutional scholar. What were the times like when these words were written? What did the founders have in mind? Unfortunately we may never know but a simple and equally compelling interpretation of the amendment could say that the militia of which the men spoke be regarded as our ‘men in blue.’ The police carry weapons to keep the peace and to serve and protect. They are trained in the use of firearms and hopefully in the restraint of their use as well. One need only look to the many cases of abuse by these trained individuals to realize the danger of allowing every citizen to carry a weapon.
Comedian Chris Rock suggests that we allow everyone to own a gun but that the bullets cost five thousand dollars each and be registered.
The NRA wants to make sure we have the right to use rifles to hunt. That is fine as long as there are rules and regulations for their use. A real man or woman should not need an AK-47 assault rifle to hunt and kill deer. If you need a rifle that shoots 300 rounds in a matter of seconds then perhaps hunting is not your game.
And to those who say we should be allowed to protect ourselves I can only say that is why we elect our government and pay taxes for our police forces. It is the right of every American citizen to be all that he or she can be; to reach for the stars; and to run for President if that is the desired goal but in a civilized country we all must realize our limitations. If we are not trained to be an astronaut we should not expect to be launched on the next shuttle flight. And if we are not trained in the delicate intricacies of peacekeeping then we must leave that job to the current professional militia, our various police forces.
Even the Supreme Court can get it wrong. Chalk up another victory for the 'right.' Four out of five innocent gunshot victims would agree.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Friendly Skies?

Remember when you could get a meal on an airplane without reaching into your pocket?
Me neither.
But we could handle the loss of those preludes to Pepcid and the completely crowded cabins if the airlines would just treat us as though we were humans.
We endure the nearly endless security checkpoints walking barefoot through scanners manned by inept, ill-trained, and ill-mannered TSA people showing our identification at every turn just to arrive at the gate and be told that our flight is delayed or worse, canceled.
Why do we put up with this ridiculous treatment? If we wish to travel by air we no longer have a choice according to Homeland Security which in itself is as much a misnomer and oxymoron as is Army intelligence. If we had true intelligence in any part of our government we would not be forced to undress to board a plane and I would be enjoying the view from the Windows on the World restaurant.
But we are in a so-called post 9-11 world and the authorities are using that fact to their advantage whenever they can. Is there anyone out there who would argue with a flight attendant who told you that your flight is being canceled because of technical difficulties with the plane? No one wants to fly on a plane that could fall out of the sky.
The problem is that airlines may have an ulterior motive when they remove a flight from service, their bottom line. If your flight is canceled due to a technical problem will you ever find out if they were telling the truth? Supposedly government agencies oversee the industry and should hold them accountable if they merely cancel a flight to save money. But truly when was the last time our government sided with the average consumer against a large corporation?
Certainly not this century.
So when you are forced to ‘de-plane’ and attempt to continue your itinerary on another flight the odds are that plane will be packed and you will most likely find yourself sitting between two people who are not happy to have you trying to use their armrest.
The airlines have become like the Lily Tomlin character in the old SNL sketch, “We don’t care, we don’t have to, we’re the airline industry.”
Perhaps you could drive to your destination. At around $4.50 per gallon nationwide (as of the writing of this rant) I don’t think that is really a solution so they have you by the ‘proverbials.’
My daughter had to endure this latest indignity at the hands of United Airlines who kicked everyone off a flight from Denver to NY after they sat for over an hour on the doomed plane. The ensuing search for a seat on another flight started with all the would-be passengers waiting on the customer service (CS) line. (You may place the term Customer Service alongside the aforementioned Army Intelligence and Homeland Security.)
One by one the angry passengers were met at the CS desk with the inane question, “May I help you?” (Generally pronounced, “Melp you?” by the high school dropout.)
“YEAH YOU MAY HELP ME. GET ME THE HELL OUT OF DENVER.”
It is amazing that United Airlines didn’t figure out that everyone on that line was going to ask the same question. If they really cared about the customer they would have herded everyone to a vacant area and explained the situation. Unfortunately that would have needed the use of a brain and a heart.
After many angry phone calls, the only way to get something done is to call someone from the airport, my daughter finally found her way home at midnight, five hours late. Her flight was packed and United saved a bundle by removing the offending plane. And they did not have to serve food on the flight because everyone had lost their appetite. It’s a win-win for United and keeps the skies friendly for the corporation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Met Manager - Same Old Song

This one is for our expensive pitcher, Johan:

You've got to change your evil ways, baby.
Before I stop lovin' you.
You've got to change, baby,
and every word that I say is true.
You keep on losin and losin, not earning your pay
And soon the fans they will all stand quite tall and all say
You've got to change

Or baby you must go.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bedfellows make Strange Politicos

They say that politics makes strange bedfellows, sort of like when the competing contestants in the Miss America contest vote for one of their own to be Miss Congeniality. Well did you ever really think Hillary and Barack would be congenial, let alone bed down together?
The two of them are tolerating each other figuring that they benefit by having the other around. But deep down they are the same. Both of them wish the other did not exist. And the funny thing is that a few years ago one of them didn’t exist, at least politically.
But for me I cannot support either of them or the opponent in the main election. At this point I wish all three didn’t exist.
We could have had a well run country with Senator Clinton as President but that ship has sailed thanks to the media, the Democratic leadership with axes to grind and a marketing team worthy of an Oscar.
Our two remaining choices, while diametrically opposed according to their public comments have one thing very much in common. They both suck. With either of them we are heading into another 4 years of awful government. McCain will continue many of the Bush ideas and Republican stupidity when it comes to the environment and basic human rights and needs. But the wealthy will continue their upward climb while those of us on the lower end of the spectrum will continue hoping to attain the wealth they have.
Obama will look for a ‘Kumbaya’ sort of feeling that will backfire in the end leaving us no better off than we have been under the most inept President this or any other country ever had.
However since I am expecting Mr. Kumbaya and his baby mama to inhabit the house of white I pray that four years from this coming January we are still able to afford a gallon of milk or gas.
I pray that the ice caps will not have totally melted leaving Manhattan a submerged reef.
I pray that Israel will still be around and that Mr. Kumbaya has not conceded too much to Iran and the other Holocaust deniers and despisers of that last Democratic country in the Middle East.
I pray that in four years someone will come along to really change the direction America has taken since our last two Bush assholes were king.
And I pray for world peace. And my talents are playing the clarinet and writing short stories and novels. I have lived in New York all my life but I have traveled many other places. Unfortunately I do not look too good in a swim suit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mets Need Pray to Testacles (God of all Ball Sports)

(It's pronounced 'TEST ah klees')

In the beginning there were the Dodgers
And they were bums but the fans liked them
And Testacles knew it was good
And they played like bums almost always losing in the end
But still the fans came and it was good.
And then the Dodgers started to get better
And Testacles was pleased and it was all good
But then California beckoned and the Dodgers deserted
And O'Malley said it was good but it was not.
And the Giants followed and it was definitely not good
But into the void Testacles declared there would be a new team
And he made this team out of the ribs of other teams
They were cast offs, has beens, and never was-es
And the fans saw that they were bad but it was good
And lo they were so bad they did not win for fourteen games
And when finally they did win they won it all
And they were called the Amazins
And Testacles was pleased once again and it was good
But the fans became fickle and demanding
Suddenly it was bad and that was not good
And the Amazins stopped amazing anyone
And the fans said free Willie and fire him
And their impatience angered Testacles
So he hardened the hearts of management
And he blinded their eyes to common decency
And he caused them to sneak into the night to perform their deed
And so it came to pass that Willie was fired
But it was done badly and that was not good
And fans were not happy
And so they now pray to Testacles
"Please save our season and make it good."
And Testacles thought about it.
And he said, "I'll get back to you."
And that is all one can ask and that is good.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

FIRE WILLIE

FIRE WILLIE
FIRE WILLIE
FIRE WILLIE
FIRE WILLIE
FIRE WILLIE
AND DUMP WAGNER
UNTIL THEY DO I AM NO LONGER GOING TO WATCH OR ROOT FOR THE AWFUL METS.
DONE.
FINISHED.
FARTIG.

Watching a Mets game is like watching a Basketball game. It's not worth watching a basketball game until there's five minutes left. That's when the winner is decided. Don't bother watching the Mets for the first 7 innings. You will be fooled into thinking they might win. Just turn the game on when the idiot Randolph decides which relief loser to put in.

I Feel Like...

I am not feeling well today. I have a bad head cold and a cough and a throbbing ache on the left side of my neck, back and head. I feel awful but that does not seem to be enough to explain my condition. We seem to have a need to use analogies to explain that which is straight forward.
When I was at work the other day I was chided for not staying home. People looked at me and backed off a bit. They are afraid of catching whatever it is I have.
Enough of the, and my wife told me to stay home that I finally gave in as I attempt to ‘rid by rest’ this bug in me.
So while resting I began to replay all the things that were said to and about me and I started to make a list of the ways in which my painful and annoying yet simple (hopefully) head cold has been described. (You may add your experiences if you like.)
You look like Hell. (Not knowing what that meant I checked out my reflection and had to agree.)
You look like shit. (Funny, I feel like shit also.)
You sound like shit. (When I called in to say I would not be in.) And just exactly how does that sound? Don’t answer please.
Hey Rudolph. (A very silly crack about my nose after a sneezing fit.)
You look like death warmed over. (Is that worse than regular death?)
I was treated by some as a leper.
Someone even made the sign of the Cross with their fingers as though I was a vampire. Of course that sign would not work on me anyway, I’m Jewish.
I guess the nicest term was used by my wife who merely said, “You look awful.”
Thanks sweetheart. I love you too.


It feels as though a corset
Is tightening my neck
And my nose is like a faucet
Always running, I’m a wreck

My eyes are tearing
When I sneeze
Head is pounding
When I wheeze

A tiny bug has got me down
I wish it would get out of town
With all the pills that I have taken
Why have I been thus forsaken?

UTC Nixes OPEC for WTC

It is quite fitting that the new skyscraper, dubbed The Freedom Tower to be built on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center will get most of its power from an alternative energy source. United Technologies Corp. will be delivering and installing enough fuel cells to power almost 5,000 homes to the tower complex.
It is nice that the tower will not have to use as much black gold, as oil is known as and go green. Perhaps if enough buildings around the world were to do the same we could rid ourselves of the need to coddle the OPEC scum and turn around global warming at the same time. It would be a win-win for human kind.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Divided You Fall

I am woman hear me roar
But do not let me ever soar
For you can humor me and then my words ignore

Helen may have been ready (sorry about that one) but clearly America is not. Or more to the point our macho male driven society is not. Nor is the media. Neither are ready to give up their stronghold on power in this country.


Ask yourself who is in control of everything in our world. Do you know a woman in charge of something? Is there not a man above her? And if not then is there a board of directors to whom she must answer and is that board not run by men?


I am not against men, obviously far from it but I must ask this question. In this year of a black man being carried to the Presidency by other men and the media is he the best PERSON for the job? The clear answer is NO. He is even far from the best man but then we just lived, barely through an eight year ordeal of the WORST man for the job so he is at least a step up. He is also the end result of a major marketing and packaging job. This man has no true opinion or stance on any issue other than what he has been coached to say by his savvy handlers. His image is merely a fa├žade.


So what happened?
Why is this novice Senator with a racist wife and racist backers being lauded as the greatest agent of change and savior of our country?
Well for one thing he is not Hillary.


You see we love our women and need them. But “their place is in the kitchen” or “taking care of the babies.” This is not me speaking, this was the answer given by many WOMEN, especially in the South when polled about their vote.
Women said that.
They are not far removed from the ‘barefoot and pregnant’ mentality. And if a woman is going to say that do you think her man is going to argue? Hell no. He is going to quietly sneak out of the place, ‘high-five’ his friends, grab a beer and look for a little poontang.

So what is the solution to this sexist based bias? Well ninety eight percent of the black vote went for Obama. Can those voters be called racist? After all most of them probably voted for him because he is black, or blackish. But if a white person voted against Obama for the same reason he’s labeled racist.

It is clear that in our country no matter what the black activists say you have a better chance to succeed if you are a black man than if you are a woman, of any color.
If ninety eight percent of the women in this country voted for any one individual THAT PERSON WOULD WIN. This is a fact. Of course the men and the media would call them sexist and whisper the "B" word that so many used for Hillary.

According to the last census there were 153 million women in America. Ninety eight percent of 153 million is 150 million. That same census showed 148.6 million men! So one million women could stay in the kitchen and clean the house and feed the baby and they would still win.

Clearly the only way for men to keep their power is to keep women down. And clearly that message is still the law of the land.

Perhaps it is time for women to take a page from the ‘book of black.’ Together women could make a difference in this country because most clearly the men have not done all that well. Words and rhetoric aside it is time for a real change.

The United States was built on the simple motto, “United we Stand.” So ladies, when you are finally ready repeat after me, I am woman, I am invincible, I am strong, I am woman!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Twinkie Offense

You may remember the infamous ‘Twinkie Defense’ of Dan White in 1979. Mr. White’s attorney claimed that his client was not guilty of the murders he committed by reason of biological factors related to eating Twinkies! I will not waste space here but you should look it up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twinkie_defense as it is another great example of how the guilty can go free. (If the Twinkie’s for me – I gotta go free, right OJ?) Well perhaps it’s time for a reverse revival of that type of thinking.
The airlines are bleeding fuel money and have made so many cutbacks without any give-backs that passengers don’t know which way to turn. Our government is typically no help. They refused to allow that ‘passenger bill of rights’ intended to force airlines to treat passengers as humans. After boarding planes on time then sitting on the runway for hours, passengers were to be afforded clean water and air as well as some food and working toilet facilities.
American Airlines is now charging passengers $15 for their first piece of luggage on every flight. The cost goes up for the second bag. And if either bag is over fifty pounds you are assessed a surcharge. And don’t try to get around the fees by carrying your bag on because the TSA agent will confiscate your toiletries and any other item normally stowed as a risk to the safety of the flight. You would be amazed how powerful a bomb you can make with toothpaste and hair gel.
Naturally the TSA agents throw away the items they steal from you, right? Hah!
Note to airlines re possible money making scheme, sell confiscated items in duty free shops.
So your flights no longer provide meals for free; they charge for any luggage you need; you cannot get there from ‘any here’ without a lay-over; and you must walk barefoot through the security checkpoints.
The airlines have seemingly made all the cutbacks they can but are still looking for ways to make a profit.
Enter the Twinkie Offense.
The airlines will soon weigh passengers as well as their luggage. Let’s face it America is obese. Our nation is sweet on sweets and sour on salads. It’s time to pay for pounds.
Don’t believe we are an overweight nation? Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of sitting in the middle seat for a six-hour flight. My son was once forced to share his seat with a woman whose butt was as big as a Butte, the Montana kind. (Talk about big sky country, this lady blocked the sky! When she sat around the plane, she sat around the plane. Ba dum bum.)
In front of all check-in counters the airlines currently have a metal frame that you use as a measurement for allowable carry-on pieces. (You must be this tall to get on this ride.) They will soon also have a typical airplane seat with a scale. If your butt cannot fit within the seat edges you must buy the seat next to you. If you fit within the confines of the seat but are overweight according to government standards of health then you must pay an ‘excess fuel need’ surcharge. A dollar per pound up to the cost of an extra ticket would suffice.
Airlines could then run specials. “Overweight but can’t wait? Try our twenty for the price of ten special.” Return flights on Thanksgiving weekend would prove a boon for the airlines. They would probably make enough money to start serving food on flights again.
Twinkies anyone?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thought for the Day

I saw her on her way to work today
And shook my head with nothing left to say

She was walking and was cute and so petite
With funny flat pink flip-flops on her feet

Her see-through sundress billowed in the wind
And many men stopped, stared, and slightly grinned

But it was cool and drizzling in the street
And wet those funny flip-flops on her feet

Perhaps the weather first she should have checked
Before daring those cool canyons where she trekked

But water, mud, debris, and scum did meet
The now slimy funny flat flip-flops on her feet.

But the final straw for me watching this kid
Was when she stepped out off the curb and promptly slid.

Our future’s in those hands and that’s got me beat.
She wears funny flat pink flip-flops on her feet!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Our Next President? – Heaven Help Us

For the first time in my adult life I can truly say that I am ashamed of my country.
Okay, the above statement is not completely true but, just like when Michele O said it not completely false either. After eight years of the most inept leadership our country has ever had, akin to that of places like Haiti we face the very real prospect of four more bad years.
Due to our anemic two-party system America is being asked to choose between two men to take the office of President. There was a very qualified woman running but she was pushed out of the race by a concert of voices that prove the point about politics and strange bedfellows.
Over the past several years in an effort of “Karl Rovian” proportions Senator Hillary Clinton was bashed and vilified at every turn. The media treated her with characteristic disdain calling her Mrs. Clinton instead of the customary and deserved title of Senator. She was belittled for her clothing, I have never heard the term ‘pants suit’ so many times in my life; for standing by her husband after his unfortunate bit of personal straying, which did not seem to hurt our economy; and often merely because she had changed her mind on the issues. As for the first two I will not even dignify them with a response and we all should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing them to influence our opinion in any way shape or form. But for the latter I must take issue. Four years ago the cowards Bush (Texas National Guard deserter) and Rove (useless piece of shit) stole the election from the war veteran John Kerry by “swift boating” him and calling him a 'flip-flopper’ because he changed his mind. I think America wishes to this day that our current moron in residence at the White House changed his mind on the war but alas he has no mind and does not mind sending other peoples children to their death for his own personal oil gains.
Senator Clinton had to endure the lies and dirt thrown at and around her by the Republicans but she was able to do so with her head held high. After all you only had to look at who was against her to realize she would be good for the country.
But the last and worst straw was placed on her back by the people of her own Democratic party. These agenda driven stuffed shirt phonies live and die by the polls (if the polls said they could win the next election by committing suicide I would bet some would consider it a good career move.) They decided early on that the green movement so popular these days should include a ‘green behind the ears’ Senator from Illinois in their plans for the future. The problem is that the future is now and HE IS NOT READY.
The Illinois Senator’s message is one of change and he has been living that message for years. First he changed when he joined his church because his handlers told him he would need to be affiliated with a religious house in order to further his political aspirations. Then he changed again and quit the church when it had proved itself no longer useful. On the one hand it is good that he can change his mind but on the other hand what are his ideals? Obviously he will do or say anything to get his goal so in many ways he is ready to take over from Bush.
Would Senator McCain be any better? He is certainly not green but has he gone past his “use by” date? Is there an independent candidate to come to our rescue? Would that dark horse stand a chance in the politics of the day? Could it be someone we already know? Only time and the media 'spin giants' will tell but as I said at the top I am ashamed of my country.