Sunday, August 30, 2009

Prioritize Priorities Please

In order to get away from reality we pass time in a pastime we find rewarding and mind-numbing. Setting our priorities in proper order is important for a happy and healthy life.

I did just that when I recently went to a preseason football game at Giant Stadium in the Meadowlands of New Jersey looking for an enjoyable and relaxing evening away from stress.

Located in a semi-deserted area and supposed final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa this remote stadium is aging but still in great shape. Lacking only a dome to make it a world class arena fit for hosting a Super Bowl it welcomes the Giant faithful with open arms as well as open skies. That's because it is one of the few cold climate stadiums without a dome.

It was the open skies part of our outing that made it necessary for my daughter and I to carry umbrellas to the game since the forecast was for rain, heavy at times due to a passing tropical storm. (As usual the weathermen were wrong and they keep their jobs but that's another story.)

Arriving at the stadium under a beautifully clear sky with, among other things a camera, binoculars, umbrellas, some sandwiches and bottled water held in an open cloth tote bag we walked up to the security gates. This check-in area is manned (and 'womaned') by guards who screen you before you even hand in your ticket and enter the grounds of the stadium. Everyone is frisked! Contraband is either confiscated or sent back with you to store in your car. I came by train and therefore did not have that option.

Now I understand the importance of security and applaud efforts to keep us safe but some of the rules have clearly gone off the deep end.

NO UMBRELLAS (We had two)

NO TOTE BAGS (We had a big ominous cloth one)

NO WATER BOTTLES - Okay water bottles are allowed but NO CAPS!
That's right! You can bring water bottles in but they confiscate the caps! This is presumably so that you cannot fill up the bottles, cap them and use them as projectiles to throw onto the field!
Well they caught me on that one because I definitely paid $25 and traveled 2 hours on public transportation to the swamps of New Jersey with the single thought of filling up an 8 ounce plastic water bottle; capping it and throwing it from the upper level stadium seating in the hopes of hitting a player WHO IS WEARING PADS THAT COULD ALMOST STOP A BULLET!

Oh, and by the way I was informed of the no bottle caps on bottles rule so I carried 5 extra caps in my pocket and replaced the confiscated contraband once inside.
Anyone know the statute of limitations on bottle cap smuggling?

I lose umbrellas far too often and I was not going to lose these two beauties just because some silly Napoleanic/Cheney ruling said so. I put the smaller one in my front pocket and stored or rather shoved the other one down the back of my jeans. Walking became an adventure.

The cloth tote bag was then emptied, folded, rolled up and placed in the pocket of the jacket that I was now wearing that used to be in the tote.
I put the camera around my neck and found that the binocular case fit nicely onto my belt.
My pants were now being pulled downward by the extra items hidden therein.
The sandwiches were in a separate bag and thankfully we were not forced to eat them at the gate as they were cleared for entry into the oh-so secure stadium.

I realize that I committed several infractions but I assure you that no players were harmed during the duration of my stay. At least not by me.

As a juxtaposition to the Fort Knox-Pentagon style security at soon to be demolished Giant Stadium (A new one opens next year next door) I know someone who works as a Judge for the New York City Parking Violations Bureau with a completely different story.

If you get a parking ticket in NY and wish to fight it you may do so in many ways but none more satisfying than a face to face hearing with a judge. Every day disgruntled ticketed drivers pile into the mini-courtrooms where a single judge presides. This judge, an ALJ or Administrative Law Judge hears complaints and rules on the veracity and legality of the ticket in question. In other words this person tells you whether or not you have to pay the fine.

People come in angry and ready for a fight. They come in with their tickets and any evidence they choose to bring to defend their argument. They may also come in with capped water bottles, umbrellas, tote bags and unfortunately even guns because, you see there are no guards or metal detectors in place to protect these impartial judges!

And in order to protect a loose interpretation of the Constitution and the oft misused and misunderstood second amendment therein we allow crazies to carry weapons under the guise of patriotism. Even doing so to political debates where there are admittedly strong opinions on both sides of every issue.

In other words we as a society have decided that a fun venue such as a stadium should be locked down but a court of law or a Presidential Town Hall meeting is open game.

I am not advocating for free-wheeling gun-toting people who wish to do harm to others to be allowed to enter stadiums with weapons but shouldn't we prioritize things just a bit?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Water Works

Not long ago our homeowners insurance was canceled.

Perhaps we made a costly claim?
Not according to the insurance company who actually said the claim we made was small considering the cause.

Then the cause must have been frivolous?
Not unless you call having your home struck by lightning frivolous.

Then perhaps lightning struck the house too often during our 25 years of residence?
That was not the case since this was our first and only claim and it was made it in 1987.

So why, you may ask was the dastardly act being perpetrated on us?

Our insurance was being canceled because we live on Long Island and the insurance people claim that we are due for the ‘big one,’ as in a category 3 hurricane or worse.

Does this cowardly behavior on the part of our former insurance company worry anyone else? It should because it could signal the opening of the flood gates as other entities raise their rates based not on facts but rather probabilities and statistics.

For example, hasn’t it been 65 million years since that asteroid killed the dinosaurs? Wow, we must be living on borrowed time. Uh-oh, there go my life insurance rates!

But speaking of flood gates one of the main reasons the insurance companies are canceling policies is they fear more flood damage up and down the Eastern seaboard. They have even drawn up new maps defining areas they feel are more likely to cause a drop in their profits and have raised the premiums accordingly assuming they have not dropped them entirely.

You see they do not wish to be a part of the incumbent claims that would follow any possible catastrophic event. In other words they will only insure against the impossible. One must wonder why such risk averse companies chose to be in the insurance game in the first place.

But their fears should be examined. In light of the newsworthy floods flooding the airways this year perhaps we the people should also be thinking about flood damage here on the Island and what if anything we can do to minimize the effect.

These fearsome floods would most likely be caused by stronger than normal hurricanes and not necessarily the proverbial ‘big one’ although if it’s coming it is four seasons closer than last year. And with the debate continuing over global warming, or global climate change depending on your politics we may see more and more such storms in our future.

Many years ago I saw the Mississippi River flood, something it unfortunately does all too often. While watching the devastation this caused I had a simple thought. Why not build a nationwide system of interconnected water mains to effectively evacuate flood waters to areas less in danger or actually in need of the precious liquid. While one part of our country is experiencing a flood invariably another part is dealing with a dangerous drought or worse, brush and wild fires.

A project of this magnitude would take many years and put thousands of people to work all across America. If done properly this system could even have the extra added benefit of producing some power from the flow of water during flood caused exchanges. And one more side effect to consider; these jobs could not be outsourced to, say India.

Admittedly this would not be an easy undertaking. First rational people would have to convince the Republicans and Conservatives of the country that it was not a plot to kill grandma or something equally as stupid. Then it would require top minds working out many details beforehand but since when has that stopped Americans? We built a nationwide system of highways, rails and a power grid that allows utilities to find extra wattage when necessary. Why not start the same system for water?

The President is touting plans to shore up our infrastructure and looking for ways to jumpstart the economy. We on the shores of the Atlantic agree with him. I for one would like to see more action before the rest of the insurance companies turn tail and follow our old one out of town.

Is Health Care a Right

Some say that health care should not be a right automatically given to the people but rather a service that must be paid for. In a way they are correct but they miss one important point and that is the people of this country already pay for the service!

In a civilized country the citizens pay taxes that go into a general pool of funds. The money is then used to continue the quality of life to which the citizens wish to be come accustomed and is specified by their laws. In other words certain services are paid for and expected in return for their tax assessment.

One of the main points made during the founding of this country had to do with taxation and representation. We will not pay taxes if we are not represented in the laws and conversely if we are not represented in the laws then we should not have to pay taxes.

Naturally no one expects that every penny of every tax-payers money goes into a program that affects every citizen evenly but in the end we should all benefit proportionately.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is one of the most famous and beautiful parts of our Declaration of Independence.

That word 'life' is first and foremost in our minds and plays an important part in the health care issue at hand for without life nothing else would seem to matter much.

The point of my argument is simply that in this civilized country it must be the main job of our leaders to keep their bosses, the American people who pay their salaries healthy and happy. And a very important part of our happiness is to keep us free from pain and illness wherever possible. That means we must have health care available and at least in part paid for by a portion of our taxes.

Health care may not be a God given right but then again God has his own health care and he doesn't vote.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Headlines of 2015

On the Political front:

Jeb Bush announces his running mate - Jenna Bush for the run to the White House.

Daddy / Grandpa George was proud of the ticket while tottering Barbara was quoted as saying, "It's about time. I ain't gonna live forever ya know!"

No Barbara, we don't know!

Health Care News:

President Obama finally gives in to the powers that be and announces that he will no longer seek to hold Health Insurance companies accountable for the rising costs of Health Care. His reform hopes have been dashed for the last time as average monthly premiums reach $25,000.

Dick Armey, figurehead and spokesperson for the all-powerful Insurance Lobby could not be reached for comment at his penthouse suite in Dubai but his assistant, the Sheik Achmed Al-Ahrazian ben Dubadian Min Alrazi came out of a meeting with OPEC members to say, "We are trying to keep the costs down but you know how difficult that can be.

Perhaps you Americans should stop seeking yearly check-ups!" The sheik also announced that the Cartel promised to hold oil prices below $400 per barrel as long as the Americans stop this foolish search for alternative energy.

Breaking News on the weather:

Scientists are still trying to convince politicians that Global Warming is the cause for this years' record droughts across the mid-west and 49 major Atlantic hurricanes but lawmakers will have none of it.

Speaking for the loyal opposition Reverend Michael Chertoff said that there is no proof that this is not just a cycle. "I mean you expect to get a few Katrina-like storms over the course of a century. It's Gods will! There's no need to cause public panic. And those people who died in the Carolinas would be alive today if they'd have evacuated when we told them to!"

And finally in Sports:

The newest addition to the NFL, The Taiwanese Tigers introduced their quarterback to the media today.

Wearing number 4 Brett Favre promised to do his best to bring the Super Bowl to Asia!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Now is the Time for all Good Men

The end of that phrase above is naturally, "to come to the aid of their party." Some have the phrase ending with the word 'country' in place of 'party' but the idea remains the same nevertheless.

The country is the United States and the party is the Democratic one. Both are in dire straits and both are in danger of losing something near and dear to each, namely their freedom!

There is a fight going on in the nation and while it is centered around the issue of universal health care believe it or not it is much larger than that. Health care is merely the maguffin (I'll explain that word in a post later or you may comment directly and I will answer.)

There are generally two sides to every issue. You either agree or oppose but no matter what you try to change the mind of the other side. Alternatively you can stick your fingers in your ears and make baby noises (nyah-nyah-nyah) until the person whose views you don't like gives up and leaves.

But that is not the Democratic way and we don't do that in America.


At the end of the 2000 Presidential election when it was becoming clear that a recount might actually show that Al Gore and not Dubya was the winner in Florida and therefore President of the United States the Republican party came up with the Nyah Nyah strategy. They sent Republican staffers ON PAYROLL down to Florida with the sole purpose of obstructing and destructing the recount. That typically un-American way of doing things worked and the lesson was learned. Well it was learned by one party at least.

Now the same tactic has reared its ugly disgusting filthy anti-human head once again in an effort to stop the discussion on health care reform so desperately needed in our country. The original 'Public Option' reform plan was a sound one that could have worked to help millions and millions of uninsured Americans and quite a few others indirectly live better lives with a little more cash left in their pockets.

But the Health Care giants and their lobbyists that can and do dole out billions of dollars to stop anything that threatens their profit margin are doing just that. Just as the Republicans did in Florida they are sending paid political protesters pretending to be ordinary citizens out to every Democratic Town Hall meeting they can find once again with the sole purpose of disrupting free speech. These same people can be identified at many rallies and many States even though most do not even live in those States.

It is time for the Democratic Party AND ALL FREE AMERICANS to say to Big Insurance and their lackeys in the Republican and Conservative camps that we are mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!

Since the minority party is not playing fair and they are using the tactic of stopping Democracy in its tracks the MAJORITY PARTY must finally give up on the hopes of bi-partisanship. When one team does not play by the rules the game must end! And besides, it's our ball! They had their chance and blew it.

President Obama must call in the entire Democratic Party for a meeting. He must tell them the following:

"The people need health care reform. We cannot allow the insurance industry to dictate how we govern anymore.

Now I realize that many of you in this room are being funded by the insurance lobby and I know that you feel obligated to let those bribes fulfill their purpose but this issue is too big for us to lose.

I am telling you that we will all be remembered for failing our duties if we allow this reform to falter. In fact I will make certain of that!

So I say to all of you that I will fight for you tirelessly in the future but right here, right now we must have solidarity!

The other side is so scared that they will lose billions of ill-gotten profits if we pass a Public Option that they are spending almost $10,000,000 a week to stop us! TEN MILLION DOLLARS A WEEK! Money they could have used to pay medical claims!

Well since they will not allow the citizens of this country the simple right of being heard and since they have orchestrated this heinous act of stopping the Democratic process so effectively we must now act to stop them. They cannot continue to subvert the American process.

I am asking you, each and every one to come back to the fold. Now is the time for all of you good men and women to come to the aid of the COUNTRY. YOUR COUNTRY

They want to stop us?

We cannot allow them to do so.

I need 60 votes in Congress!

I need 256 votes in the House!

I need you!

And I will work with you on future issues but this one is mine! This one is for the people!

Are you with me and the people of America or are you against us!"

Thank you Mr. President.