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Love them or hate them, they is The President

Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. Love them or hate them, they were The President, as Obama is today.

Tannersville, Pennsylvania is a small town of a few hundred people, the heart of “Real” America, and I was in the home of some real Americans.

  • Carol, a beautiful young college student and athlete,
  • Daniel, her father, a former athlete, originally from Moscow, USSR,
  • Elizabeth, her mother, a physician, originally from Brooklyn, New York.
They are real salt of the earth Americans. Daniel had trouble getting established in the U. S. until he retrained as a therapist. Elizabeth’s biggest challenge was figuring out what to do. She didn’t want to be a teacher, like her mother. She studied accounting, like her father, then she went to medical school, like her brother. She really wants to write children’s books.

I was at a funeral for Francine, Carol’s grandmother, Daniel’s mother-in-law, and Elizabeth’s mom.

Alice, another friend of the family, was there with her husband Bob, a former Navy “swab,” currently a Merchant Marine. Bob loves the sea. He sailed all over the world. He hates President Clinton. So does Alice. I’m not sure who hates him more, but the hate is palpable. I didn’t ask how they feel about Obama.

President Clinton has been out of office for close to 9 years, but it looks to me like the nature of the Presidential gig is such that people either love them or hate them, forever. President Reagan left office almost 21 years ago, and people still either love him or hate him. (Personally, I don’t regard him as a good President, but no longer regard him as “the worst in my lifetime.” It’s not that he looks better, but that the bar got lower.) Ditto for Nixon, who was elected in ’68, inaugurated in ’69, and who resigned in in disgrace in August, ’74.


Obama is finding out about the love-hate nature of the gig. A South Carolinian named Joe Wilson seems likely to fall into the “hate him forever” category. In Eastern Pennsylvania, you are probably more likely to find people who hate Clinton than love him, but love or hate, you expect Americans to know when he was elected, inaugurated, and President.

And that’s what I’m writing about. What is really strange is that Bob and Alice swear that Bill Clinton was President during “Operation Desert Storm” and when Bob was discharged from the Navy in 1991. We all know that Clinton was elected in November, 1992, and inaugurated in January, 1993, and serverd until George W. Bush was inaugurated in January, ’01. George H. W. Bush, being elected in ’88, inaugurated in ’89, and serving until Clinton was inaugurated in ’93, was President throughout 1991.

GHW Bush is famous for two things:

  1. “Operation Desert Storm” and
  2. Raising Taxes to pay for infrastructure.

It seems that Bob and Alice don’t know when Clinton was President, who was President during “Desert Storm,” when Bob was discharged, or who who was President at that time.

I don’t know Bob and Alice well and frankly, I don’t want to get to know them. I tried to explain to them, calmly, that Clinton was elected in ’92 and inaugurated in “93. These are non-controversial historical facts. Whether you love and hate Clinton, whether you argue over whether he was a good or bad President, the dates of his election, Inauguration, and transfer of power are non-controversial. You won’t find Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or one of those other right-wing pundit/comic/entertainers arguing over when Clinton was elected or inaugurated. It’s like arguing over whether the color of the sky or the location of the Empire State Building or the Golden Gate Bridge.

I rarely step back from a discussion. But I refused to engage Alice and Bob. I am not interested in a shouting match with people who display a basic incapacity to understand the color of the sky or the location of a bridge. As Kenny Rogers once said, we have to “know when to hold em, and know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” This was a time to walk away, slowly. I don’t know if they were out of aces; they might have had four of them, and they might have been all clubs; they sure were not playing with a full deck.

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In Defense of Fat

A large percentage of Americans are “large.” A significant percentage are “significant.” At only 30 pounds above my ideal weight, above the weight I was in college, I’m neither. But it’s noble being fat, it’s selfless to be obese. Sure the basic reason is people eat more calories than than they burn off, and when you do this over time you gain weight. Over a long time, you gain a lot of weight. One extra pound a year for 50 years is 50 pounds. For an American man of average height that would be 190 to 200 pounds. And to hit 350, 450 pounds, by age 20 or 30, you’re talking about a gain of 200, 300 pounds in 20 or 30 years, that’s 10 extra pounds a year. But that’s the scientific explanation. As any bored high school child will tell you, preferably over a pizza or nachos with soda, science is boring.

Forget science, let’s take a step back and think about beauty and sexiness. Let’s think about Monica Lewinsky. While she was, is, “chunky” or “big boned,” and while she looks good in a beret, she never made it as a sex symbol. The height of her fame was not characterized by pictures of her in a bikini or less on the bedroom walls of teenagers across the country. She may have been interviewed for Playboy, but unlike Marilyn Monroe, another special friend of another President, she wasn’t asked to pose. You’re not likely to see her in the Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated. If their models define feminine sexuality, and Playboy and SI hope they do, then fat chicks don’t define feminine sexy.

So what we’re seeing, in part, is a deliberate existential challenge to normative popular culture on the definition of sexiness. This image: very pretty girl, long hair, large boobs, tiny waist, tottering on stiletto heals, in a very short skirt – barely wider than a belt – the Barbie Doll image of sexuality – is falling, perhaps because it’s top heavy. It is being challenged by our sisters, our daughters, our wives, our selves And we, who love our sisters, daughters, wives, and selves are rising to the challenge. It is being replaced with the matronly woman. A robust and mature woman. To whom you say “yes, ma-am,” when asked to do something.

Fat chicks are challenging our notion of beauty and sexuality. Fat guys in Speedos, mostly from Germany, Russia, Yugoslavia, and Hungary, are joining in the challenge. They have a dream, to echo Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “they have a dream that one day their children be judged by the content of their character, not by the quantity of their skin; they have a dream today.”

There’s more.

Toxic organic chemicals, such as DDT, PCB’s, meythyl mercury, which are in our food and water, albeit in trace amounts, which are linked to health effects like Parkinson’s, and cancer, concentrate in fats and fatty tissues: breasts, brains, beer bellies. Obese people, by concentrating these substances in their very bodies, are doing the rest of a favor and taking them out of the biosphere.

Obesity is linked to a shorter life-span. Fat people are sacrificing themselves so the rest of us may live longer. By using more resources now they enable us to use fewer resources later, but we’re resourceful, we’ll think of something. Vegan food, no doubt…

So to my fat friends, I say, thank you, let me give you a big hug.

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New Jersey’s Gangster Rabbis

New Jersey’s Gangster Rabbis – Next to Jack Abramoff they look like Boy Scouts.

The Gangster Rabbis allegedly stole money. One allegedly offered to broker the sale of a kidney. And they allegedly bought and sold hack politicians like shmatas. Big deal. They don’t come close to Bernie Madoff, and he wears normal clothes. Eats lobster. Summers on the Hamptons. That is, he used to.

But Abramoff, he was one of the biggest, baddest Jew-hoods pretending to be a mensch. He’s like Arnold Rothstein – fixed the World Series, Meyer Lansky – hit his “friend” Bugsy. While Abramoff was only a low level hack in the organization, he helped steal THE COUNTRY, nu, they suborned the Department of Justice – the whole Executive Branch – and much of the Legislative Branch.

But the good news about Abramoff’s Gang is it seems to be those guys are as farklempt as they are meshugah. Sure they still dally with men and women to whom they are not married. Sure they have that shicksa from Alaska, who really only likes one Jew.

Ciao, Shalom, Peace,

Glossary
Farklempt – pron. “far-klempt”, fucked up.
Meshugah – pron. “meh – shu – gah” crazy and stupid. Or stupid and crazy. Or Republican.
Nu – pron. “new” – in this context – well, nu, we discussed that yesterday.
Shiksa – pron “shick-sah”, non-Jewish woman.

Shmatas – pron “shmah-tahz” – rags, clothes, washed up hack politicians.

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Single-Payer Health Care

The Critics of a single-payer health care system, which would expand Medicare to cover everyone, claim to be against rationing health care. Their fear is that some nameless bureaucrats will tell me which doctors I can see, and tell my doctors what to do. In truth that is precisely what we have today. Insurance companies ration health care. Insurance company bureaucrats tell us which doctors we can see and tell our doctors what to do – if we have insurance.

If we don’t have insurance, and we’re really, really sick, we go to the emergency room. This is an inefficient use of emergency room resources. It is paid for by the people with insurance and the
taxpayers. However, unless you’re in a diabetic coma or have just had a heart attack or stroke, the ER is not designed to treat cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illness.

Insurance industry run health care is motivated by the managers of insurance companies to maximize revenues and minimize expenditures. The Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and other conservatives would call this a “Market Failure.” Just as national security operations should not be defined and run by private contractors, health care should not be run by private industry.

Our government, in the words of President Lincoln, is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” A government run health care system would be motivated by citizens demanding high quality health care for the people.

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Dr. Rumsfeld –

Baghdad, Iraq. The American University of Iraq. Former Secretary of Defense Donald H. “Rummy” Rumsfeld was awarded two honorary PhDs today. One in quantum mechanics, and theoretical physics and the other in Poetry here at the American University in Iraq.

In one of his explanations of why we were winning the unnecessary war we started against a small 3rd world country (with a poorly trained and poorly armed military) which is to say why we were winning a war we could logically be expected to be winning, Rumsfeld postulated the existence of three universes –

The Known Known,
The Known Unknown, and
The Unknown Unknown.

His work also postulated by corollary the existence of a fourth universe, the Unknown Known universe.
The first two are universes everybody knows (or doesn’t know) about.

1 the known universe that we know about – that’s the known known.

2 the unknown universe we know we don’t know about – that’s the known unknown.

But remember, Rummy was part of the non-reality based administration. This unreality based administration, also known as the surreal administration, some even say the unConstitutional Administration. For him there is also

3) the unknown universe we don’t know about – the unknown unknown.

And this work also postulates the existence of a fourth universe – the known universe we don’t know about – the unknown known. You might think this is related to the unknown universe we know about. And you might be right.

Who knew?

As noted, the war in Iraq is a war we could logically expect to be winning – except when you factor in facts on the ground, i.e, “factors” such as humanity, discipline, pride and passion on the part of “the enemy” that planners don’t like to factor in. The enemy, you see, isn’t supposed to love freedom unless it’s freedom to sell us their oil and be occupied by us. And the fact that our armed forces were less than they would have needed to be to completely occupy the country and suppress resistance, and our army wasn’t as well equipped at it should have been either, but as Rumsfeld once said, “You go to war with the army you have.” (And as Bush and Cheney once might have said “You don’t go to war if you can get out of it.”)

<http://www.slate.com/id/2081042/>

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Don’t Believe; Try to Understand

Take 5 Questions,
Seek 25 Answers,
Apply Logic,
Use Thought:

The Scientific Method.

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What Would Hannah Say?

Hannah Arendt, the German-Jewish political philospher, pictured above, coined the term “The Banality of Evil” to describe Eichmann and the bureaucratic manner in which the Nazis committed genocide.

What would Arendt say about the Israel – Palestine wars? It is fitting to ask since the Palestinians and their supporters argue that the Palestinians should not be “punished” for Europe’s war against the Jews, they compare Israel to Nazi Germany, and some say “the 4,000 rockets fired by Hamas into Israel since Israel’s 2006 withdrawal from Gaza don’t do that much damage, therefore Israel should ignore them or respond proportionally.”

Would Arendt criticize Israel for retaliation against Hamas, the government of Gaza? Would she observe that Hamas’ patron, Achmadinejad, denies the Holocaust and yet wants to finish the job?

Golda Meir, pictured below, said “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” Arendt would notice that the Palestinians, who elected Hamas, do not use their weapons to protect their children. Rather, they hide their weapons behind their children.

Arendt would quote Golda.



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Bush and the Shoe

After having shoes thrown at him, Bush turned to Maliki and said: “This means war!”

Maliki responded, “You have already invaded my country. This is your victory speech.”

Bush looked around and said “well, in that case, we ain’t leavin!”

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So long, Red States – It’s Been Fun

Dear Red States:

So long, Red States – It’s Been Fun

We’re leaving. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of United Blue States of America. To sum up: You get Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia, W. Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Lousiana, Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas. We get Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to North Carolina, and Florida. You get Utah and Arizona, we get New Mexico and Colorado. You get most of Nebraska, but we get Omeha and Warren Buffett. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty, New York’s Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get Dell and WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss. We get 85 percent of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to pay your fair share. We get Hawaii. You get Alaska. You get Sarah Palin and Brittney Spears. We get the Dixie Chicks – they’re moving to Virginia – Cyndie Lauper, Blondie, and Sheryl Crow. We also get Jimmy Buffet, the remaining members of the Grateful Dead, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.

Since he moved to New York with Hillary, we get Bill Clinton. And we want Al Gore. You can have Rudy Guiliani.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms. Please be aware that we are pro-choice and anti-war; we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we’re not willing to spend our resources in Bush’s Quagmire. With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country’s fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95 percent of America’s quality wines, 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT. With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Ted Haggert, Hannity and Combs, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, the whole Fox News team, and Bob Jones University. We get Comedy Central, HBO, Hollywood and Saturday Night Live.

Additionally, 38 percent of you believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale then regurgitated, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is a theory but creationism is a science, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then us.

We’re taking the wine and the good weed. You can have moonshine and that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Peace out and Hasta La Vista, Baby

** This is hysterical. However, I did not write it. **

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Now the work begins!

President Elect Obama, Congratulations on your victory, on our victories.

Now the work begins. The first order of business is to reverse the policies that have proven so disastrous, even as President Bush rushes to cement his legacy by changing rules and regulations on the environment, civil liberties, abortion rights, et cetera, as clearly described by The New York Times on Nov. 4

So Little Time, So Much Damage, Copyright, 2008, The New York Times.
While Americans eagerly vote for the next president, here’s a sobering reminder: As of Tuesday, George W. Bush still has 77 days left in the White House — and he’s not wasting a minute.

President Bush’s aides have been scrambling to change rules and regulations on the environment, civil liberties and abortion rights, among others — few for the good. Most presidents put on a last-minute policy stamp, but in Mr. Bush’s case it is more like a wrecking ball. We fear it could take months, or years, for the next president to identify and then undo all of the damage.

Here is a look — by no means comprehensive — at some of Mr. Bush’s recent parting gifts and those we fear are yet to come.

CIVIL LIBERTIES We don’t know all of the ways that the administration has violated Americans’ rights in the name of fighting terrorism. Last month, Attorney General Michael Mukasey rushed out new guidelines for the F.B.I. that permit agents to use chillingly intrusive techniques to collect information on Americans even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

Agents will be allowed to use informants to infiltrate lawful groups, engage in prolonged physical surveillance and lie about their identity while questioning a subject’s neighbors, relatives, co-workers and friends. The changes also give the F.B.I. — which has a long history of spying on civil rights groups and others — expanded latitude to use these techniques on people identified by racial, ethnic and religious background.

The administration showed further disdain for Americans’ privacy rights and for Congress’s power by making clear that it will ignore a provision in the legislation that established the Department of Homeland Security. The law requires the department’s privacy officer to account annually for any activity that could affect Americans’ privacy — and clearly stipulates that the report cannot be edited by any other officials at the department or the White House.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has now released a memo asserting that the law “does not prohibit” officials from homeland security or the White House from reviewing the report. The memo then argues that since the law allows the officials to review the report, it would be unconstitutional to stop them from changing it. George Orwell couldn’t have done better.

THE ENVIRONMENT The administration has been especially busy weakening regulations that promote clean air and clean water and protect endangered species.

Mr. Bush, or more to the point, Vice President Dick Cheney, came to office determined to dismantle Bill Clinton’s environmental legacy, undo decades of environmental law and keep their friends in industry happy. They have had less success than we feared, but only because of the determined opposition of environmental groups, courageous members of Congress and protests from citizens. But the White House keeps trying.

Mr. Bush’s secretary of the interior, Dirk Kempthorne, has recently carved out significant exceptions to regulations requiring expert scientific review of any federal project that might harm endangered or threatened species (one consequence will be to relieve the agency of the need to assess the impact of global warming on at-risk species). The department also is rushing to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list — again. The wolves were re-listed after a federal judge ruled the government had not lived up to its own recovery plan.

In coming weeks, we expect the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final rule that would weaken a program created by the Clean Air Act, which requires utilities to install modern pollution controls when they upgrade their plants to produce more power. The agency is also expected to issue a final rule that would make it easier for coal-fired power plants to locate near national parks in defiance of longstanding Congressional mandates to protect air quality in areas of special natural or recreational value.

Interior also is awaiting E.P.A.’s concurrence on a proposal that would make it easier for mining companies to dump toxic mine wastes in valleys and streams.

And while no rules changes are at issue, the interior department also has been rushing to open up millions of acres of pristine federal land to oil and gas exploration. We fear that, in coming weeks, Mr. Kempthorne will open up even more acreage to the commercial development of oil shale, a hugely expensive and environmentally risky process that even the oil companies seem in no hurry to begin. He should not.

ABORTION RIGHTS Soon after the election, Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, is expected to issue new regulations aimed at further limiting women’s access to abortion, contraceptives and information about their reproductive health care options.

Existing law allows doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in an abortion. These changes would extend the so-called right to refuse to a wide range of health care workers and activities including abortion referrals, unbiased counseling and provision of birth control pills or emergency contraception, even for rape victims.

The administration has taken other disturbing steps in recent weeks. In late September, the I.R.S. restored tax breaks for banks that take big losses on bad loans inherited through acquisitions. Now we learn that JPMorgan Chase and others are planning to use their bailout funds for mergers and acquisitions, transactions that will be greatly enhanced by the new tax subsidy.

One last-minute change Mr. Bush won’t be making: He apparently has decided not to shut down the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the most shameful symbol of his administration’s disdain for the rule of law.

Mr. Bush has said it should be closed, and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and his secretary of defense, Robert Gates, pushed for it. Proposals were prepared, including a plan for sending the real bad guys to other countries for trial. But Mr. Cheney objected, and the president has refused even to review the memos. He will hand this mess off to his successor.

We suppose there is some good news in all of this. While Mr. Bush leaves office on Jan. 20, 2009, he has only until Nov. 20 to issue “economically significant” rule changes and until Dec. 20 to issue other changes. Anything after that is merely a draft and can be easily withdrawn by the next president.

Unfortunately, the White House is well aware of those deadlines.

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