Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's My Anniversary & I'll Smile If I Want To

Today is my anniversary, or rather my wife's and my anniversary.

So what, you may ask.  Every day is someone's anniversary or birthday or sadly even Yahrzeit.  What makes your day so special?

Well for starters it's mine and this is my blog and I can write whatever I want, so there!
But in this day and age of everyone fighting over other people's rights to enjoy what I have enjoyed for over three decades I thought it would be nice to say a few words in defense of couples!

It takes two to tango and tangle and no matter what they say it is more fun doing either with a partner.

We have been married for 31 years and have two great kids.  Well they're not kids anymore but they will always be OUR kids.

During the course of those 31 years we had our ups and downs, our fights and make-ups, our joys and our tragedies.  In other words, we're normal.

I could go into the usual jokes about marriage and it's evil sister divorce but most have been said, and said, and said.
("I woke up with a headache." "Really, I woke up with a pain the ass!")
(Take my wife, please!)

I don't want anyone to take my wife, please although I'm not so sure she would return the sentiment.

By the way for those of you who don't know the origin of Henny Youngman's most famous one liner he never meant it as a joke!

Henny was walking down the aisle at a theater where he was about to perform. His wife was at his side.  When he neared the stage he wanted someone to show his wife to her seat so he asked a nearby usher to, "Take my wife, please."  He got a laugh and inspiration and a career!
And in case there are any newlywed husbands out there who read this blog piece I have a word of advise, think before answering any question from your bride, especially ones that include the words, dress, fat, and butt.

We happen to be a married couple in what is considered a normal relationship, aka a man and a woman.  But make no mistake, two men or two women can have the same love for one another and be just as good at parenting as any 'normal' couple.  Beauty, like normalcy is in the eye of the beholder.

I hereby defend marriage as a union between two loving people.  Done!

Usually I write about politics and things such as 'man's inhumanity to man.'  And unfortunately I seem to have reverted back to that formula so I'll move on.

But no matter what subject I write about I try to throw some humor in here and there and always try to make what I write interesting.

I used to ask my wife if she saw or read my latest post but I always received the same answer, "Why should I read what you rant about on your blog?  I hear it in person every single day!

I'm not sure I like the tone of that remark but after so many years who can argue?

However just in case she does happen to stumble upon the words of this curmudgeon I have a question by way of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye, Susan, "Do you love me?"

I think I know the answer but h
ey, after 31 years, It's nice to know!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spawns of Evil

I've said it before and unfortunately I will have to say it again - The Republic Party does not want America to get better any time soon!!!  They are evil, at least as far as humans are concerned.
After being rewarded for bad behavior and gaining seats in both houses of Congress the "Stop Progress at any cost" party will continue to do whatever it takes to keep America from healing until at least such time as they can regain the White House and both houses of Congress.
If the unemployment numbers go down OR the economy starts to rise OR Americans get real health care at lower costs OR if anything good happens for the majority of humans in the country that could mean a contented electorate come next November and a second term for TGDNITWH! (Their words, not mine!)
The Republic Party would sooner have a total and dangerous moron such as Bachmann or a phony religious proselytizer and noted flip-flopper such as Romney occupy the office.
But truth be told the choice for America is a tough one.
On the one hand you do not wish to reward the bad behavior but on the other hand if the Democratic Party cannot grow a pair and start doing what we the people need they may be looking at early retirement.
By the way don't cry for any of them should they be voted out of office as they will be making more in retirement than any of you out there have ever made in your lifetime!  And they will continue to get free health care for themselves and their loved ones for eternity.
And an important side effect to allowing the bad behavior boys & girls of the 'right' to get control of government is that the President gets to nominate Supreme Court judges.
In light of the latest anti-human ruling in favor of the notorious Chinese corporation aka Walmart it would seem self evident that the people of America need better advocates on the bench!
In statements made after finding for the Defendant and against the one and a half million women who have been discriminated against by that faceless corporation judges were heard to say that the prosecuting class was too large and cumbersome and it made it hard to rule on the case.
Of course the complainant class was large, they discriminated against all women!
That's like saying I can't find the murderer guilty because he killed too many people and I get confused!!
Look at any chart of income over the last few decades showing management vs. worker wages.
Look at any graph, even those prepared by former economists on Ronald Reagan's staff and you will see how this country is heading toward a ruling class lording over serfs.  And we serfs have fewer and fewer advocates as it is.
The middle class is a dying breed.
If things continue as they have then we are in for a new reality in America.
The bottom line is simply we must bite the bullet and continue to hope that the Democrats will grow that proverbial pair and start doing for human beings what the Republic Party has been doing for corporations for decades!
Why do I consistently feel like salmon swimming upstream?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Not in my Neighbor's Pocket!

Legislators in Arizona and a couple of other states including but certainly not surprisingly Wisconsin have refused to change a word or two in a law that affects thousands upon thousands of unemployed citizens of their states.
The sad part about this selfish behavior by the “haves” of the ruling Republic Party is that the change would not cost the states one penny. And in fact if the legislators had an ounce of intelligence instead of pounds of animosity they would realize that the change would actually help their local economies.
The law concerns unemployment insurance for those unfortunate people who have been out of work and are entering weeks 86 through 99 of their hardship.
The states are attempting to stop their payments calling those voting citizens losers and lazy.
But the weeks in question are fully federally funded and do not cost those states any money.
If the people who would otherwise be getting the continuing aid had that cash on hand they would most likely be spending it on such frivolous things as food and clothing.
Unlike the super rich who take nearly every penny of their tax breaks and bailout gifts and either bank it or buy yachts etc. the needy people would of necessity be spending the money thus aiding in a small way the economy.
This case is a localized version of what is going on across America in every state in one way or another.
Possibly good intentioned people are falling for a flim flam game being run by the wealthiest and the politicians they back or fund without realizing the far reaching consequences.
It is a dangerous NIMNP – Not in My Neighbor’s Pocket game they are playing.
We used to say that all politics is local. But we should amend that to state that all anger and animus is local, all politics merely fuels the fire.
They fan the flames when they pit union workers against non union people.
They fan the flames when they claim illegal aliens are taking your jobs.
They fan the flames when they posit that Obama and the Democrats want to kill grandma.
They generalize every issue into a ‘we vs. they’ one and make the ‘they’ some other group to be feared and hated. Sadly we are all part of one of those groups but choose to ignore that fact.
And while those fans are set on high they sit back in the cool climate of their air-conditioned penthouse offices as if overlooking a community of ants and watch the frenzied citizenry try hard just to survive.
Like the boy who cries wolf and then slinks away as if he never uttered a word many of our legislators work in the shadows to rile and roil the melting pot that is America.
It seems as though we have all lost sight of a simple fact.
We are America!
We are the ones who make up the “We the people” of our constitution.
We are the people who made this country great!
And we are being fooled into submission.
The nation has been overrun by narcissism and schadenfreude.
It’s all about me and mine. And if you or he fail, hey that’s tough.
Whatever happened to “United we stand, divided we fall?”  (Listen to Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explain it all in two minutes.)
A few words have been slightly altered and inserted that have totally subverted the letter and spirit of that old phrase to wit, ‘United we of my district and extended family stand, dividing the wealth and property of others so as not to fall.’
The social and moral views in America like all nations have always been pendulum-like. We go through periods of extreme conservatism followed by euphoric liberalism and back.
Those persecuted women of 1600s Salem might today be running for Congress. Oh wait…
And with the pendulum in mind I give fair warning to those in Congress who show such disdain for those of us fighting for survival by way of an old proverb:
Be kind to those you pass on the way up as you will surely see them on your way down.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thoughts For a Father's Day

It's been just two months since my 93 year young dad passed away.
That means this will be the first Father's Day I celebrate (?) without him.
As a tiny and totally insufficient tribute to his life I hereby submit my eulogy to a quietly great man that many of you should have known.  Luckily I did.
I wrote the following to say at his service but cut it back at the last minute to fit into time constraints.  No such constraints exist on the web so here is the full version.

How do you compress nearly 10 decades into a 5 minute eulogy?
We’re here today to say goodbye to my dad Sol Resch, just physically.
I was trying to find the right words to describe him.  There are so many. He was a good man, a kind man, an honorable man.  But luckily we have one word that succinctly says it all, MENSCH.
And at the mere mention of his name people who knew Sol think, mensch.
So today is not only about Sol but about all of you, all of us.
And it’s about all the others whose lives were touched by this mensch.
I worked with my dad for years and learned his philosophy. Sol merely said if you cannot be my friend you cannot be my customer.  And Sol had more customers than I can remember, or were they friends?
Those who worked for or with Sol came to love him.  They considered him a friend or mentor.
Their messages of condolence this week filled my inbox and their words tell the story.  Here are some:
“No one ever had a bad word about Sol and he never uttered one about others.”
“He was one of the nicest sweetest men I have ever met. It was a pleasure to have known him.”
Reading this another said:
“Those words truly describe your dad. He was wonderful. He had many friends who truly admired him.”
A young lady who worked for him for a short time wrote:
“While our world will be a little less "bright" without him the heavens will be "ballroom" dancing tonight as they celebrate his life.”  She was right.  Aside from everything else, he vas also a good denser!
A friend of Sol’s from the Midwest said:
“He was class personified; a gentleman’s gentleman. We are all better for knowing Sol.”
A woman from Northridge and the Queens Democratic Party said, “I really liked Sol, He’ll be missed!”
Finally a dear family member posted:
Thank goodness Uncle Sol, like his big sister, had a wonderful and vibrant life right into his 90's; Sol was an amazing man and I loved him so.   We all did.
But there are many other people who owe much to Sol and don’t even realize it.  They are the veterans at the St. Albans campus hospital who received a banana and a friendly word each Wednesday when volunteer Sol drove over to offer aid and comfort, right up until his last Wednesday, just 2½ weeks ago!

"I stand before you today -
Not every veteran can say that!"
Funds Sol raised as Commander of his JWV Post helped many veterans around the country.  He broke fund raising records for this group. He was honored by the Queens Democratic Society a few years ago where he gave a heart felt speech that brought tears to listeners.
In Northridge where Sol lived for 60 years maintenance workers could expect a nice gift every December because Sol coordinated the Holiday collections and fund raising efforts from the hundreds and hundreds of tenants, even up until this past December!
A beautiful Wedding photo
After a tough childhood, losing both his parents before he was 20 Sol buckled down to take care of things. There weren’t too many smiles back then.  That started to change in 1941 when he married our mom, Rose.
South Pacific here I come
There were more smiles in 1942 with the birth of his 1st son Robert. There were more smiles when WWII ended and then understandably great enormous smiles in 1949 when, well, I was born.
Ain't I cute?
And soon the smiles grew into laughter as dad could relax and start to enjoy life.
I already miss his favorite jokes, most of them pretty bad.  One that caused him to laugh so hard he cried, and therefore so did we.  Remember, “Nu? I had a car like that vunce?” Ask me later and I’ll tell you the whole joke.  But don’t get upset if you think it’s bad, you’ve been warned.
Then there was his infamous answer to daughter-in-law’s query about cockfights.  He also once found new ways to use those silly glasses with that fat nose but I won’t go further into that in mixed company.
And never one to cause anyone distress he made sure strangers left him feeling good about themselves.
In the garment district there was a restaurant named Frank’s Spa, it wasn’t.
Sol ate lunch there occasionally.
One day he walked in and a new waitress nearly lost her composure because among other things my dad looked exactly like Red Buttons when he was young.  For those of you too young to know who that is google him!
The waitress was unable to control herself and she blurted out, “You’re Red Buttons!”
Sol had heard this for years and was ready with a simple reply.  “No, no I’m not.”
“Yeah, you’re him.”
At this point he realized the futility of getting into an argument and not getting lunch on time so he merely shrugged his shoulders and tilted his head.
This was all the signal the waitress needed and she ran off into the kitchen.
The result was simply that Sol got served and the waitress went home and told everyone she served Red Buttons.
She became a celebrity for a day and dad ate lunch.
I miss his gentle good ways.
We all miss his gentle good ways.
And without realizing it strangers miss his gentle good ways.
But most of all we will miss his loving generosity, whatever it took.  If money was needed funds were raised. Those in need were never disappointed.
But they also received a gift money just could not buy, Sol!
So today we say goodbye to Sol’s body, not his spirit and surely not his essence.
Because as I said earlier today is about all of us.
We keep Sol’s memory alive.
If the measure of a man is not taken by those he loves but by those who love him then you’d need a pretty large measuring stick for Sol.
With Granddaughter Sara
With grandson Rich

And so to a loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and luckily for him, boyfriend, rest in peace dad.
We all love you. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

LIRR ala Carte

Imagine going into a fine restaurant and ordering a 5 course meal only to be told that you must pay in advance and use a separate method of payment for each course.
Now imagine that restaurant is hurting for business, not really a stretch since that policy alone would lose quite a few patrons.
No I am not talking about the Seinfeld Soup Nazi but rather about Long Island's own MTM - mass transit moron, the Long Island Rail Road.
Once again the Metropolitan Transit Authority has shown how anti-cunsumer their operation is with their latest ruling against their most loyal of rider, the "Mail & Ride" monthly ticket purchaser.
If you are lucky enough to still have a job while Congress works on far more important issues such as how to get re-elected and help billionaires out with tax breaks then you know how expensive a monthly ticket is.
If you live in "Zone 3" for example you are charged $254 per month for the pleasure of waiting for an overcrowded, dirty, and late train every day.
But if you are also working for a forward thinking considerate employer you may be enrolled in the 'TransitChek" program which allows you to have up to $230 of pre-tax dollars per month deducted from your salary to pay for a portion of your commute.
Mind you the money is yours but can only be used for purchasing commutation so unless you buy a railroad ticket it's useless.
So how does one pay the extra amount above the $230?
Well until this month all you had to do was drop off the vouchers in a Mail&Ride envelope at Penn Station and the balance owed would be taken from a credit card you had on file with them. 
But that was way too easy for the customer so a policy change was necessary!
Now you have to go on-line and register the TransitChek card to deposit the amount into your account by the 23rd or 24th of every month and immediately mail a check for the balance.  The check must get to the Gods of the LIRR before the first of the month or your ticket will be invalidated!!!
Unlike restaurants who routinely split a bill and charge you and a friend half the tab the LIRR has not figured out how to allow the customer to use 2 credit cards for the same transaction.
And for their ineptitude you are punished!
But wait, it gets even better if you have $230 taken out of your salary for the month and you live in a less expensive zone or go on vacation and have too much money on the card.
If you do not prepare in advance you will be left with a balance on the card with no way to use it!
The railroad's response is an old one, use it or lose it!
Such compassion!
The bottom line is this: Do what the LIRR says, the way the LIRR says, and when the LIRR says or, wait for it - NO TICKET FOR YOU!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

America Needs a Real Pick Me Up

Parents know that if your baby is crying for no apparent reason and you pick him or her up the crying may stop but you have taught your child a valuable lesson.  You are in essence rewarding bad behavior.
Don't you want to pick me up?
If the crying becomes an issue and you continue to do the prudent pick up the problem will grow out of proportion.
While the infant is not trying to 'put anything over on you' the fact that he knows crying will get him coddled and cuddled will keep him crying longer and longer until something or someone's gotta give.

Babies are cute and we love them so it will be hard to accomplish this but it is for their own good.
Naturally I don't condone ignoring a problem and if you know your child you should be able to distinguish between the attention desiring cry and the 'something is really hurting me' one.
The trick with the 'well' baby is to finally let it cry itself to sleep without the reward thus breaking the vicious cycle.

Such has been the case with the Republican Party over the last few decades and unfortunately many voters have failed to see the crying baby analogy.  We know this to be true because if they had then there would be nowhere near as many cry babies in Congress these days.
And just like the crying baby nothing gets done until they are satisfied.  We are taken away from the problems at hand to tend to them.  And while we tend to them our hands are literally tied so nothing does get done!
After the Democrats took the majority in Congress last decade the babies on the right side of the aisle effectively stopped the government by sticking their fingers in their collective ears and wailing.
Please pick me & my party up.
Okay only John Boehner actually cried but the rest of them constantly complained about the Democrats not getting anything done while they themselves were stopping every possible legislation or political appointment by using filibusters.
We the parents then inexplicably rewarded their incredibly bad counter-productive behavior by picking them up and electing more of them to Congress.
The lesson was learned and since 2010 the Republicans have done nothing but demand a pacifier.  And the pacifier they crave is total control of all three branches of government.
But they have not shown themselves to be worthy of that reward or I am sad to say, capable of running the country should they gain it.
With jobs and the economy as their supposed number one priority they proceeded to go after everything but jobs and the economy.
HR1 in the new Republican controlled House of Representatives was a bill to repeal health care for the masses.  Calling it Obama-care they cried and cried and somehow started to gain in the polls.
Emboldened by their gains they took on more issues that concern the middle class such as minimum wage and unions and planned parenthood and National Public Radio.
Should they get all their wishes on the above how many jobs will be created?  An intelligent parent or voter should be able to see that more would be lost.
Their next step was finally to take on the budget deficit but the gang of babies still cannot shoot straight.  They refuse to address the issue of zero taxes for billionaires or record profit producing corporations such as Exxon and GE.  These giants now have rights as though they were human beings thanks to the Republican leaning so-called Supreme Court of the Untied States.  (You remember them right?  Those wonderful people who gave you George W. Bush?)
The main point of the Republican Paul Ryan plan is Kill Medicare!
Should the voters reward Republicans for their current anti-social behavior the next step will most assuredly be the death of Social Security.
Babies are adorable and we love to hold them and play with them but we would never allow them to do our taxes or plan our future or drive our cars.  They just don't have the intelligence to do so!
The Americans are coming!
The Americans are coming!
Warn the Brits!
So why are we even considering  possible presidential contenders such as Michele "Death Panel" Bachmann or Sarah 'Paul Revere was warning the British!!!' Palin?
And then there's Newt 'family values' Gingrich who is currently on the campaign trail searching for wife number 4!
And if Obama-care was so terrible how can Mr. Romney show his face after Romney-care, which by the way was a success as would be Obama-care if the babies would stop crying.
The bottom line is simply this: Do not pick up the babies this time.  Let them go to sleep for a few years until they learn the lesson that we are the grown-ups, the parents, the voters.
We are the people for whom the government was created.
We the people need elected officials to govern, not babies!