Monday, January 31, 2011


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Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's Important NOW?

On "Meet the Press" today, a show that used to be an important source of news and information and now is merely another opportunity for pundits to ply their trade, the panel was talking about the current tense situation in Egypt.
Chuck Todd noted that the President's State of the Union address was just a mere five days ago and look how much has changed in the world.  President Obama did not even mention Egypt in the speech nor, perhaps should he have.  After all while we realize how important the country is to the continued peace in the region nothing tremendous was going on at the moment.
Then the moment changed and all hell broke lose.
Suddenly the possibility that an Iran type scenario could come to pass in the land of the pharaohs and peaceful partner of Israel.  Egypt has been able to keep many weapons out of the Gaza Strip and has been a strong ally in our attempt to thwart the further spread of terror.
What will happen in the future let alone the next few days is still anybody's guess but one thing is certain, Egypt will soon be a 'post Mubarak' nation.
Many times in the past and once just this month I used the word 'juxtapose.'  The word conjures up a strange bedfellow of sorts between two generally opposing views occupying the same space.
A perfect example of this occurred moments after David Gregory, moderator of 'Meet the Press' changed the subject from the important news coming out of Egypt to the topic of who will be challenging President Obama from the Republican Party TWENTY TWO MONTHS FROM NOW!
Obviously that is an important issue and one we definitely should all be thinking about in say a year or so.  But for now we might wish to discuss whether or not there will be a war in the Middle East or other pressing issues.
Unfortunately the media must continue to push uncertainty at every turn and what's better than future Presidential campaigns that will always be somewhere out there?
Whether or not Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee or even Sarah Palin and her lesser brained (if that's possible) cohort Michelle, slavery ended with our Founding Fathers Bachmann becomes the candidate for President in a year should not be the talk of the town at this point in time.
Can we get a break from the constant soap opera that has become the in-fighting among the Republican Party as they each jockey and position themselves for a run at the top office rather than do their jobs?
After the McCain/Palin crash and burn campaign of 2008 I said to anyone who would listen that Ms. Palin should disappear for a year and hit the books.  She should learn more about world history and become an expert in foreign relations and then burst back onto the political stage as a force in her Party.  Instead she chose to become a farce, albeit a wealthy one as well as a constant reminder of the old "United Negro College Fund" slogan.
But I digress.
This post is about current events and therefore should focus on our currently high unemployment rate in America.
We should focus on:
The economy;
Out of control military spending;
Corporate control of Congress;
True Health Care for all Americans;
And so many more urgent problems that need to be addressed NOW!
And when it comes to the next television or cable news program that purports to be about urgent current events do not devolve into a discussion about an election 22 months away!!
We have bigger fish to fry as the saying goes and miles to go before we sleep, miles to go before we sleep.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Laws vs. Records

One of the main differences between the two things in the title of this piece is simply that records were made to be broken.
There was no law that said Hank Aaron could not break the Babe’s record.  And there was also no law to stop Barry Bonds from returning the favor to the Brave’s number 44 a few years later although he may have had some medicinal help.

But of course laws are also broken, especially when they are considered unjust by the breaking party as in a revolution.
One could argue that our nation was born as a result of a treasonous act breaking the law of our good old Mother England.  Naturally after fighting the war for Independence and winning the act was no longer considered illegal, at least not in this country.
We’ve come a long way since that fight in the 1770s and we’ve written many laws so that our government, of, by, and for the people may go forward with everyone’s best interest in mind.
But what of the people who write those laws?
Should they not be held to the same standards as the rest of us?
This week we learned that the Bush administration committed a few more illegal acts than were originally disclosed.  They used funds for personal and political gain that were clearly supposed to kept for other use.
We all remember the Nixon Frost interview and the famous statement by the late President that, “If the President does it it’s not illegal!”
That should and did cause the buzzers to go off all across this land as absurd.
In fact many people feel that even murder is legal, as long as you don’t get caught.
We also learned this week that two of our Supreme Court justices have engaged in, if not illegal then certainly immoral or questionable behavior.
Last year Justice Alito lit up the television screen with his famous or rather infamous stupid action of mouthing the words, “Not True”  during the President’s State of the Union speech.  He was almost right, he is not a true Justice!
This year Mr. Alito has said he may not attend the speech.  Oh please, pretty please!
By the time you read this we will know if he kept his promise but frankly who needs him there?
He like the two other justices making headline news this week has already shown his true feelings about the Democratic Party and President Obama in particular.
When Justice Antonin Scalia decided to go behind closed doors and give a keynote speech at a Tea Party rally he did not break any laws but he clearly acted in a manner unfit for his position.
Although the invitations also eventually went out to Democrats it was clear that was done to appease and stop the growing furor over a stupid act.
When we found out that for the past decade Justice Thomas deliberately left off his wife’s income from his financial disclosure statement he did not break the law but he clearly acted in a manner unfit for his position.
In the case of Mr. Scalia he did not nor would he ever apologize for his strange actions.
But in the case of Mr. Thomas even his excuse rings of falsehoods.  He stated that the rules on the financial disclosure forms confused him and that’s why he made the omission.
But he had been listing his wife’s income in the years prior to his more recent lack of knowledge.
And are we to understand that the Justice is claiming ignorance on such a simple point of law?  That is troublesome on so many levels.
Could his sudden lapse in correct filing have something to do with the fact that his activist wife is a staunch Tea Party representative dead set against all things Obama?
Is it possible that her income from the Conservative think tanks would cause some eyebrows to be raised among the media and in the political circles?
Where there’s smoke big guy!
In return for their lifetime appointment Justices above all must be impartial.  While there is no current precedent to change that lifetime position an exception should and must be made in cases of clear impropriety!
Judges are always recusing themselves from hearing cases they have personal knowledge of and surely they will not preside over a case in which they are involved.  It is not easy to be impartial but that’s why they get the big bucks, and the status.  If they can not live up to the simple ‘follow the rules’ of their jobs then how can we have faith in their rulings?
Perhaps Justice Thomas should recuse himself from the bench altogether and join his wife in her Conservative endeavors more openly.  Of course doing so will probably make his wife less valuable to the cause.
Politicians and judges are human and prone to the same human frailties as the rest of us.  Temptation is always hanging around and rearing its ugly head.  The best leaders are the ones who can resist that imposter and continue doing their jobs, the jobs for which they were hired or elected.
But if they cannot perform their tasks in a fair and unbiased manner they must step down or face the consequences.
We are still a free nation with freedoms abounding as long as we don’t break the law.
So while I hate to sound like a broken record I must come back to the original thought about laws and whether or not they are made to be broken like records.
I guess when the politicians and judges have the power to write the laws all they have to do is change them when they need to do so, so as to not be caught breaking them.
Unfortunately they’ll change them back before you or I have a chance of using the same loophole.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tone Deaf

In the aftermath of the horrific shooting event in Tucson President Obama called for a change in the tone of our political rhetoric.  He asked that we remove the hate filled words aimed at physically harming one another and be more civil in our debates.
The sentiment was and is a good one but alas this is America, land of the free and home of the brave.
The free is our speech and the brave is the person hiding behind a gun or a cable television camera or sitting in an enclosed radio broadcast center spewing hate.
With a nine year old child’s life senselessly cut short by an insane act still fresh in our minds and a kind selfless Congresswoman miraculously alive and recuperating in a Houston Hospital what better time to start the hate debates up again.
An idiot posted a plea to remove Congresswoman Giffords from office and at the very least hold a special election obviously in the hopes of changing her seat from Democratic to Republican.
That was bad enough and the suggestion would have disappeared into the ether filled with other inane moronic hate spewing suggestions if it were not for the championing of the cause by a nationally known figure, one David Frum.
He picked up on the idea and used his twitter account to make sure the story and idea had legs.
I doubt he was shooting himself.
At least not in the head!
You have come out of the closet in which you have almost hidden and shown the world your true colors.
But more importantly you have inadvertently, I assume, added an important new level into the mix that is the Tucson tragedy.  You have given every crazed zealot of every cause their own personal Holy Grail.
They now have a blueprint to getting a government of by and for THEMSELVES!
Shoot to kill or just maim the official of your choice and once they are incapacitated demand they be replaced so that our government may continue uninterrupted.
Sarah Palin may have innocently placed targets over many officials including Gabrielle Giffords in the subliminal hopes of having her taken out but you sir have placed targets on every Senator and Representative in every town, city, and state in the country.
Christina Green’s family donated their child’s organs to others so that even in death she could help and heal others.
You and your kind are very much alive and doing the complete opposite.
Way to help change the tone!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Silence is Not Always Golden

Why is the she silent majority still silent?
In America it’s important for all voices to be heard.
It’s also always a fact that a few bad apples can ruin the batch.  And those rotten to the core apple types seem to have the loudest, most annoying, and most constant voice!
A recent study about stadium drunkenness shows that on average only 8% of attendees were considered legally drunk as they left the stadium.  And in fact 60% of the people leaving registered a zero on alcohol testing devices such as Breathalyzers.
And yet that tiny 8% minority can wreak unbelievable havoc and dangerous fights throughout the stadium.  So imagine how much trouble a minority that’s in the 40% neighborhood.
Sadly we don’t have to tax our brains too hard since America just lived through that kind of period for the last two politically unproductive and dangerously provocative years.
Groups such as the Tea Party are not in the majority yet they just caused tremendous change in the landscape of the House and Senate.  Unfortunately they prove the point that ‘change’ is not always good!
The Republican Party was in the minority yet they held up most of the potential progress the majority desired.  Incredibly they were rewarded by gaining ground in the latest elections as if the ability and desire to do nothing was something to aspire to!
And they now claim that the elections of 2010 gave them a clear understanding of what the people want.   They say the people want them to take control and continue their agenda. They say they listened to the people and will do that which the people want.
But were they deaf in 2008 when a huge majority rejected their agenda or merely dumb? Why did they stall and block everything that majority wanted at the time as shown by that landslide?
Could it be they only listen when their backers speak?  Isn’t that sort of like preaching to the choir?
However there is both truth and hypocrisy in their message.  Many Americans were against the health reform act of 2010 and many still are.
But the fact of the matter is most of the people who were against the health care bill held that stance because they felt it did not go far enough to stop the all-out greed of the insurance industry. The feeling among the dissenters was they wanted more and many even held out for the so-called public option or single payer plan.
So to say that the new majority in the House is doing what the voters want them to do is disingenuous at best and an out and out lie at its core.  And to make matters worse, THEY KNOW IT!
And after not getting their way on the ‘for show only’ vote in the House of Representatives to repeal the bill they love to call Obamacare look for them to continue their child-like tantrum by taking away the ball so the rest of us cannot play.
The House Republicans are promising to de-fund any program aimed at helping the individual in his or her quest to gain better more affordable healthcare.  They will systematically break apart the hard fought health care reform act that would not only save the lives of many Americans but also billions of tax payer dollars as well.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, our non-partisan fiscal watchdog group (aka CBO) the actual number may vary but the consensus is the reform act will significantly decrease the deficit, something the so-called fiscally responsible Republicans say they want.  Sadly actions speak louder than false promises and in that respect the opposition party is quite silent.
They say the reform act is job killing and have the nerve to use that offensive and false title in their absurd repeal bill!
But whose jobs will be killed, the board of directors of some of the health insurance behemoths?
The facts show that more jobs have already been created in the health care industry as a result of the landmark bill that Congress passed over the vehement objections of the ‘fully covered for life’ minority party.
This study made public last year predicted job growth but was conveniently overlooked by the then minority party and sadly not touted by the majority party.
The silent majority must not remain silent anymore.  And certainly they must not sit at home when it comes time to let their voices be heard through the ballot box!
We will already have to sit through 2 years of silly ‘do-nothing’ posturing by the Republican Party and their Tea Party adjuncts while the rest of the world moves forward.  America currently ranks so low on the scale of national health care for its citizens as to be an embarrassment.  But that equates to an embarrassment of riches when translated into the coffers of the heath care insurance industry.
We must resolve to show the Republicans that they misunderstood our voices and most assuredly our votes and that we can no longer trust them to handle our futures with such aplomb.
Let us finally become the non-silent majority.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Another 'Pike Dream?

History repeats itself.
This is a link to a post I placed here one year ago and it's till going strong.
No I did not come up with the original idea but that doesn't make it any less in my mind!  It's something we should really consider as a necessary fix to some of the ridiculous stuff that goes on in DC.
It's called THE CONGRESSIONAL REFORM ACT  originally of 2010 but may now be altered to 2011!
It's an idea whose time has long since come and is here to stay until we implement it!
There's no time like the present.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm Cancer Free - Sort Of - But still Crabby!

I never EVER believed in the absolutely ridiculous idea that the stars ruled our lives but the Zodiac was always fun nevertheless.
I mean what college student didn't use the line, "So what's your sign?"
Okay so I may have been in the minority but you get the point, it was an ice-breaker.
In fact I once used it to get a date!  Seriously.
I was feeling kind of low after being dumped by a particularly moronic girl who obviously couldn't see past her nose.  I decided to go to one of those psychology student run events that offered wine and cheese to the male losers of society who for various reasons were stag on Saturday night and looking for love in all the places, right or wrong.
I really wasn't in the mood to pick up a female or even be with one for that matter but cheap wine, cheese and music for a college student was not to be turned down.
As I sat sipping some slightly watered down wine wolfing down cheese and crackers I spied a melancholy muse, a kindred solitary soul sitting silently on the floor.
She was attractive but aloof; alone but unavailable.
Clearly she was mixed up to be at a a mixer unwilling to mix.
But I realized she was just like me.  This was a troubled soul sadly alone and wanting nothing more than to stay that way.
I watched as one kid after another tried his luck at wooing her away from her lonely perch to no avail.
Suddenly it occurred to me, her current crabby condition showed she was not only a kindred spirit she was my Zodiac equivalent, she was a cancer, a Moon Child born late June to early July.
Armed with my new found but unproven knowledge I sauntered over to a spot on the floor next to her.
I sat but did not speak.
We sat together but alone; mute as the minutes mounted.
Finally I felt her  turn to gaze at me.  I knew that she was wondering what was wrong with this latest male would-be suitor, this Harpo harpy hovering here beside me.
I turned her way and merely said, "You're a Cancer, aren't you?"
Her face jolted back a bit and she smiled.  "How did you know?"
We stayed there only a few more minutes before leaving for coffee, snack and, uh well other things.
Hey, it was the seventies!
But that's all changed now.
Oh the humanity!
With the addition of a new Zodiac Sign all bets are off until the geniuses who ply their absurd tales decide which signs should go with what behavior.
It seems as though the culprit in this universal musical chairs is none other than our moon.
The constant tug of our local lunar orb that is responsible for the tides coming in and going out (that piece of scientific information known to all children in kindergarten is for Bill O'Reilly) also exerts a pull on the Earth sufficient enough to move the entire planet!
In fact we have been moved enough to warrant a 13th sign of the Zodiac.
The newcomer has been named Ophiuchus.  Not as catchy a name as Leo or Virgo perhaps but fittingly as hard to spell as its neighbor Sagittarius.
The entire new list appears directly below:
Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

You'll note that Ophiuchus has been placed in the innocuous position between 'post' Thanksgiving and 'pre' Winter Solstice.  I guess they hope to make as little a stir as possible.
And check out Scorpio!  It's only six days long???
I mean you have to feel as though you won a lottery if you' re a Scorpio!  Being born a Scorpio will almost be as rare as having a February 29th birthday!   Although Scorpios will still age one year per occurrence unlike their leap year cousins.
And best of all I am now a twin! That's right, I am Gemini!  Woo woo.
I suggest college students and other singles out there who still frequent singles bars but do not have any collegiate letters on their sweaters learn the new dates for each sign and bone up on their own horoscopes before heading out this weekend.
Oh, and as for that girl I picked up with my line at that mixer, she turned out to be sad because her wife (not that there's anything wrong with that, seriously!) was away on business for a few days and she was lonely..
Yup, back then I had a knack for finding just the right girl for me!
Still we had a very enjoyable night but I never saw her again.
I wonder if she's still a Cancer!

One Armed - Not Dangerous

When you are forced to use only one hand, assuming you have two to begin with certain things are not easy to do.  In fact they become downright frustrating.
I just had wrist surgery to fix (hopefully) a painful problem on my left hand and for the time being I am forced to type one handed.
Using half of what we have and are used to using is so annoying and time consuming but at least I know it is only temporary.  And I am far better off than many others who have permanent damage or worse as a result of the latest tragedy dominating our news these days.
It's at times like these that the proverbial cream rises to the top.
But something else is in the mix and that has drifted further down into the muck & chaff.
I am speaking of two groups here:
The first is broad reaching and includes many members of the Tea Party and their "It's all about me" queen Sarah Palin.
The second group is the equally selfish money grubbing organization known as the National Rifle Ass.
One of the above is constantly in your face and never disappoints when you are expecting stupidity.  For the woman who failed at oh so many projects not the least of which was to finish her term of Governor of Alaska the shooting in Tucson could have been a way out into to the sunshine.  But instead she chose to remain in her bunker, firing salvos at anyone and everyone who dared to point a finger at her past rhetoric and inane web postings.
Americans love redemption.  Stars who enter and graduate from rehab are welcomed back with open arms.  Perhaps it's because we applaud them for admitting they had a problem and having the good sense to deal with it.
Ms. Palin could have admitted that she got carried away in the heat of the moment (the moment being two years and counting) and that she is sorry if her zeal for public service was misconstrued by an insane individual as a license to kill.
Then she could have quietly taken down all evidence of her "target" maps aimed at taking out Democrats with whom she disagreed and replaced them with a message of peace and hope.  Maybe even a memorial set up to the victims of the shooting.
But in fact she feels there was only one victim here and she is nothing if not consistent.
The media and the country should move on and away from useless egotists like this woman.  Let her whimper, fade and wallow in self pity while America heals and grows.  She's yesterday's news and deservedly so.
As for the NRA and it's war mongering attitude there is no such easy solution.
Congress enjoys the bribe money way too much to dismiss and control the product that sick bunch sells.
There is no way a hunter or recreational shooter (should that even be a term?) needs a weapon that fires hundreds of rounds of ammunition within seconds.  Frankly if you cannot kill a deer with two or three shots from one of your high powered rifles maybe you should stick to the penny arcades.
Assault rifles and 'cop killer' bullets and machine guns and AK47s and on and on should be outlawed.
At the very least tough regulations about owning them or carrying them should be enforced.  As for Arizona's allowing them to be concealed the only word that comes to mind is INSANE.
"From my cold dead hands" is a phrase made famous by the paranoid misguided gun-owners who think the country is out to get them.
They also mistakenly use the Second Amendment to justify carrying everything from a Saturday Night Special to purchasing a personal tank and possibly a nuclear device!
Arguments about how impossible it would be to rid the country completely of weapons fall short of productive conversation.  We do not have to remove every single fire arm, just regulate them and the magazines that fill them with multiple murder capability!
When someone says they carry a gun to protect themselves I ask from what?
From whom?
From the other guy carrying a gun to protect himself from you?
Possibly Bambi is packing!
The gun problem will not end here.
It will not go away.
This piece was hard to write with one hand tied behind my back (figuratively.)
Using only half of my fingers is tough but using only half a brain is worse!
We see that whenever Ms. Palin opens her mouth and we hear it whenever Congress takes up gun control.
The country is trying to heal and become whole again.
We must not go off half-cocked into the future.
The news has given us the ammunition we need to restart the fight.
Wouldn't now be a great time to use all of our brainpower and all of our resources and all of our will to head off the next tragedy?
I'm raising my hand to say yes!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Another Cheek to Turn

How many cheeks must a customer turn before he's allowed to just be?
And why aren't things that don't cost anything never just given for free?
And how can the banks who were gifted so much be stingy with every penny?
The answer dear voter lies in Congressional halls
The answer's within those great white walls.

After giving such wonderfully philanthropic individuals such as Jamie Dimon billions of dollars to get their businesses back on track they return the favor by introducing new and exciting fees and raising old ones.
Now perhaps I shouldn't be so mean to the institution since they just hired me to work for them!
That's right, as of now I work for J P Morgan Chase!!
Unfortunately it's not really a full time job and there's no compensation or benefits per se but I am employed by the bank nevertheless.
I can even take time off and go on vacation if I like because my job will still be there upon my return.
So what kind of great job did I land with this billion dollar going concern?
What position do I hold and just what are my duties?
Actually the position I hold is 'bent over.'  And if you are lucky enough to be a customer of J P Morgan Chase then you too now bend over for them!
You see we all recently received a missive explaining how that bank's board of directors wishes to have all of us to do their dirty work.
I know most people think that the money they deposit into a bank is theirs but that couldn't be farther from the truth.  (Shouldn't that be further father?)
You see for the privilege of allowing you to place your money in the hands of a Mr. Dimon et al for him to do with as he pleases you must wade through a sea of penalties should you fail to follow their rules.
Some of the rules make perfect sense and nobody can complain about them.
For example if you bounce a check then you must pay a fee, even if you have "overdraft" protection.  Because as with all insurance that one comes with a hefty cost.
So while your check will be 'unbounced' you will find yourself bouncing off the walls at the extra charges.
The fees are enough of a deterrent to make most people keep a proper amount of cash in Jamie Dimon's hands so as to not go through the monetary scolding.
But now the bank has instituted new and exciting fees.
If someone gives you a check and you deposit it in your account but that check bounces then not only does the issuer get punished but you get charged as well.
Go ahead and read that last sentence again, I'll wait.
J P Morgan Chase now charges $12 per item IF SOMEONE ELSE'S CHECK BOUNCES!
When I inquired if this was an error I was informed that it is now up to me to do a credit check on every one who gives me money to make sure their checks are good!
In other words I now work for the bank!
So these bastions of bastards who did the world wrong and LOST US our economic futures and got bailed out by our tax payer dollars get to turn customers into slave laborers.
And by the way, when you visit an ATM do not try to find out how much money you have left in your account because they now charge a buck for that information.
Of course the public relations arm of these thieves will tell you that they lowered other fees and some charges but seriously if you believe that I need to talk to you about this beautiful bridge I want to move.  I'll make you a great deal, promise!
Remember when the consumer had to worry about hidden fees?
Ah those were the good old days!
Now banks are so brazen and emboldened by that bailout that they no longer worry about hiding the excess charges.
It's only a matter of time before saying hello to a teller or bank officer will cost you $10!
But once again we shouldn't complain.  After all they are giving us interest on the money we place in their hands, right?  My account is now compounding at the fantastic rate of 0.1% - ZERO POINT ONE PERCENT!
I figure if I can live past my 7,000th birthday I just might be able to afford a new car.
Of course by then gas prices will be $850 per ounce but that's another story.

Thank goodness the new members of Congress are promising to get the economy rolling again by getting rid of all regulations on our financial institutions.

Way to go guys!
Let me know when that gets done so I can ask Jamie for a raise!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Nothing to say except
Let's make this year special!
(Can't wait until November 11th at just past 11am - 11:11:11 - 11/11/11)