Monday, January 31, 2011



The politically incorrect event of being ripped off in the Internet. It is still politically incorrect even though President Sarkozy has decided to expel many of the Roma population that lives in France. Usually an expulsion confers upon the expulsee the status of dirt leaving them open to all manner of insult. Never mind that the Roma have withstood insult in France and elsewhere in Europe for many years now and no one seems to care.


The latest country in the Middle East to experience political turbulence. Mubarak is considered, by many, to be a despot and crowds of angry protesters have defied the government and participated in public protests.

Who knows what will happen? Will Mubarak prevail and continue to be an American ally and a friend to Israel or will ElBaradei take over and change the status quo?

The larger question is whether the trifecta of unrest that has gone from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen will spread and cause a major change in the governments of the region.

What will we do? We support dictatorships throughout the area because they serve our stated national interest (and those of the corporations doing business there...)

We turn a blind eye to the injustice and deprivation of human rights that runs rampant in these insular societies.

We are afraid that we will lose the upper hand in our business dealings and that maybe these governments will go from being totalitarian to being theocratic.

Which is worse...opression or Islam? Clearly we have made our decision over the years.

We support Saudi Arabia, for example, when it has been shown time and again that they seem to lack the respect for basic human rights that we demand from ourselves and other nations.

Why do we tolerate the hypocrisy? Because they have the oil.


We tolerate it in China because they have cheap goods and own half of the US anyway.

We tolerate the hypocrisy whenever and wherever we have a selfish need.

Where is our morality? Where are our principles? Where are the basic beliefs that the Founders put their lives on the line for?

What is wrong with us?

So... eGypped or Egypt. Either way someone is getting hosed.

I wonder who...?

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Oil

Notice: This post includes some hyperbole and vast generalizations. Read on at your own risk!

Are you that myopic? Are you that unconscious? Are you that out of touch? Is your "belt" way too tight...?
(Get it? It's a joke. Belt-Way...? Beltway...?)

I listen to the Punditocracy talk about Pachmann (not Pac-man...Palin/Bachmann) with incredulity as they try to understand why these two "*%#!" get away with the "#!*%" that they spew. Forgive my language but these two women bring out the vulgarity in me.

Palin invokes the slang "WTF" to talk about, incorrectly, the "Sputnik Moment."

Bachmann rewrites American history when she talks about slavery and the Founders.

The talking heads in Washington are amazed that "The Girls" get away with it and wonder how Republicans can take either of them seriously as possible Presidential candidates in 2012.


The American people aren't interested in facts. They aren't interested in history.
They are interested in sports and television and The Oscars and Brangelina and Kim Kardashian (Full disclosure: Kim Kardashian holds some allure for me too...I will admit that...)

Palin and Bachmann are viable and could very well be nominated and, what's worse, win, exactly for the reasons that the Pundits seem to overlook.

It is because they are ignorant and uneducated that they are appealing. You want to know why, class? ("Are you chewing gum...?")

Because they represent the vast majority of people in this country.

Barack Obama was elected because he was not John McCain who was seen as more of George W. Bush.

We would have elected Mickey Mouse had he been on the ballot just to get as far away from Bush as we could. And you don't get much farther away from a privileged blue blood, Yalie, Yankee (Texan?...Puhleez...! He was born in New Haven and grew up in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine) than a black man from a broken home.

We don't prize excellence in this country. We are satisfied with mediocracy. ("Mediocracy": a society of people satisfied with mediocrity as a way of life...not to be confused with "Mediacracy" which is a society of people made up entirely of people who work for the "Media", or "Medeacracy" which is a society of people obsessed with the story of the Greek mythological character, Medea. Go ahead...refudiate those definitions...I dare ya...!)

We continually come in behind most of the rest of the developed world when it comes to math and science scores among our young people. We have less engineers and less computer geniuses and less talent than the rest of the world because they understand the need for excellence and we don't. We play football in high school while they study calculus. We cut the arts while they learn to play the violin. We yearn for snow days while they go to school all year long.

We think we can rest on the laurels of the past and ignore the painful realities of the present. Sure, we won World War II and the Space Race and we have invented and developed a lot of the technological wonders of the modern world.

But "that was then and this is now..."

We are behind and it doesn't look like we're going to catch up. We are eating nachos in front of our big screen TVs while the rest of the world is studying and learning English and lending us the money we need to keep going. How many kids do you know who speak Mandarin? How many Chinese kids do you know who speak English? You take my point??

So stop wondering why Pachmann is so powerful and has such staying power.

It is because the establishment is singing the same old tired political song of the past while the Tea Party is shouting about the inherent failure of our current governmental society.

And it is because so many Americans are so uneducated and driven by popular culture that uninformed personae (Latin for "people"...pompous of me, I know, but fun...) like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are so popular.

People look at them and see themselves. There is "resonance."
They can "relate."

They look at Obama and Romney and Pawlenty and Hillary and they can't relate. These are intelligent men and women, regardless of their political ideology.

They are anathema.

They are aliens.

They are so 1960.

We are doomed.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the Super Bowl. Pass the pretzels would ya...?

Go Packers!


I was asked last night what the single most memorable moment of my life was so far.

I drew a blank.

My mind flooded with memories and strained to find the winner.

I couldn't do it. Too many contenders.

My life has been a series of wonderful experiences dotted, and sometimes underpinned, by moments I would just as soon forget.

Like the many moments of insensitivity that hurt too many feelings. I'm truly sorry for all of that.

Like neglecting the things that would turn out to matter in favor of the paying attention to things long ago forgotten.

Like the myriad unfinished pieces of business that make for a "to do" list a mile long.

Too many contenders.

But then there are the good things.

Like my junior year of high school in France. That single experience, those nine months, changed my life forever. Not only did I learn to speak French and make friends whom I have loved for over 43 years but I learned about the world and how I am a part of it...the whole thing...not just one little myopic corner. And I learned to love ham and butter on a baguette..."Sandwich Jambon."

Like the birth of my precious daughter. She is, to me, my raison d'etre. Oh My God do I love her.

Like the meeting of my beautiful, powerful, nurturing wife. She cares for me better than I care for myself. She loves me and sees the perfection of my soul. She allows for my shortcomings, however large or small, and sees them within the context of me as an entire being, full of possibility. She is, by far, my dream come best friend.

Like meeting Walter Cronkite. A childhood hero with whom I got to spend a few hours.

Like playing guitar at Lincoln Center. What a thrill!

Like the cheeseburger I had once at a grimy bar off of Ferry St. in New Haven. The best I've ever had.

Like the chowder at The Swan Oyster Depot on Polk St. in San Francisco with Mike and Janet and Shari in 1980.

Like being cast as "Jake" in "I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking it On The Road" at Joe Papp's Public Theatre.

Like covering the 2004 Republican National Convention for ABC News.

Like playing the drums with Blue Plate Special when Rick Derringer sat in in Colchester, CT.

Like all of the music I've ever played with all of the musicians I've ever known...except that one guy whose songs were so painfully boring but he always wanted me to hear them and play along...arghhhhh!

Like getting royalty checks from BMI for "Tornado", which was recorded by the late, great Gus Hardin and is in "Deterrence" with Kevin Pollack.

Like being lucky enough to have a sense of humor.

Like pulling out of Guilford Harbor and "opening 'er up" towards Faulkner Island.

Like getting my electrician's license. Thanks Bill.

Like all of the wonderful friends and lovers I've ever had. I have the best friends in the whole world. My friends are better than your friends.
"Na na na na na...!"

Like having Max Weyl as a father. I will always love him.

And the list goes on forever.

I am lucky and blessed and possessive of more riches than the Sultan of Brunei.

Well, maybe not the Sultan of Brunei. But definitely more than Bill Gates.

Actually, not more than Bill Gates but absolutely more than Michael Jordan.

Uh...hmmmmm...possibly not Michael Jordan either.

Jeez...who then?

More than...uh...


I'm like George Bailey. I'm the richest man in the world.

I have it all.

I have health and happiness and a wonderful family and great memories and a bright future.

60 down...all the rest to go.

Bring it on...!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Penny For Your Thoughts

There is almost nothing more wonderful than finding money. There it is just sitting there. You didn't have to do anything. No effort has been expended. It's free*.

Found money.

A number of years ago I had a young friend who gave me a homemade Christmas present.

It was a cardboard oatmeal can, cut in half and wrapped in decorated blue paper. It had a slit on the removable top about an inch long.

There was a little sign on the top too. It read, "Found Money."

I still have it. At the time I would pick up the occasional penny or dime that I found in the street and put it in my right pants pocket. That was to differentiate it from the change in my left pocket, the coins that I had gotten when I broke a bill. The left hand money I had earned. The right hand money I had found.

My young friend was aware of the fact that I played this little game and gave me the gift so I could store my found coins. Very thoughtful and very creative.

When the can would get full I would sit in front of the television and put the coins in paper wrappers so I could take them to the bank to exchange them for bills. I kept a running tally in the lid.

To suggest that I was obsessive about it would overstate the effort. I was interested in seeing, however, how much I would find. I did this for twenty years.

It wasn't hard. It became automatic. Get change from a transaction...put the coins in my left pocket. Find a coin. Put it in my right pocket and then, at bedtime, when I would empty my pockets onto my dresser, I would put the found money in the can.

The result?

On the day I stopped doing it, after twenty years, I added up the columns in the can's top. I had found an amazing $760.00!

In pennies and dimes and the rare quarter. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I did find some one dollar bills, a five or two, a twenty and one fifty at Starbucks on Columbus Ave. at 67th Street. That one was amazing!

But those bills accounted for, maybe, 15% of the overall take.

The rest was all coins and mostly pennies.

People don't seem to care about pennies. If one gets dropped while looking for a quarter for the parking meter, it is left to roll away and disappear into the dirt or the gutter.

But there it is nevertheless. It might be dirty and it might be scratched but it is still there, in all of it's copper glory, waiting to be picked up, to be brought back from the dead, to be loved again. And far be it from me to ignore that penny's cry. "Here I am to save the day!"

"Come to Papa! Join your cousins in the warmth of my pocket!"

And especially an old Wheat Sheaves penny. But they don't ever get spent. They go into that funny little pocket above the right hand, bigger pocket in my jeans that was originally designed for a watch but has long ago become useless except for the Wheat Sheaves penny and/or a guitar pick. It would be where George Bailey would have put Zuzu's petals had he worn blue jeans in Capra's classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." It will, no doubt, be where Brad Pitt puts the petals when they remake the movie. That funny little, wonderfully useless pocket, Old Building and Loan Pal.

Got off track there, sorry...anyway...then the Wheat Sheaves penny goes into a different jar at home to be saved forever or to be redeemed by my grandchildren when they (the pennies, not the grandchildren. The grandchildren, as we all know, will be priceless...) are worth more than a penny apiece. And they are so cool anyway. They have old dates...1943, 1952, 1937...wonderful to think of where that penny has travelled and how many pockets its' been in. And whose pockets those were. And in what town. And to buy what. Wonderful...

I, long ago, stopped separating the earned coins from the found ones. It was getting ridiculous. Now they are all in my left hand pocket. All friends together. No favorites.

I had acheived my goal and established an important benchmark, a valuable piece of data.

On average, if you're looking, you will find $38.00 a year. That's a movie for two and a large popcorn and a large drink and a large box of Sno-Caps (or Jujy Fruits...but not enough for the dental floss to remove the piece of Jujy Fruit lodged in the teeth in the back of your mouth. The dental floss would be extra. Maybe $3.00...for the good stuff...not the stuff that frays and makes you want to gag.)

$38.00 is almost a tank of gas. In New Jersey.

It's a large pizza with all the toppings and two big bottles of soda.

It's a lot of things. And the best part of it is that it's free!

(Remember the asterisk at the beginning of this post? Well here you go...)

Actually, as we are always hearing, nothing is ever "free." After all, you have to bend over to pick the coin up. But that has its' benefits too. You are exercising without thinking about it. Come to think of it, $38.00 is three months at Planet Fitness and a bottle of water per month...which, if you only buy one, you can refill and help the environment at the same time and have a few bucks left over to apply to the cost of the abovementioned dental floss.

And another thing. Watch what happens to your walking companions when you cry out, "A penny!"

Immediately they start scanning the ground in the hopes of finding one too...or a dime or a quarter or a dollar bill.

But there are rules. There are definitely rules here. You may not pick up a coin in a known room or yard. If it's in your friend's living room or garden it's his. No question about it. No negotiation. Just leave it there.

If you see someone drop a coin or a bill and they don't notice it, that piece of money is fair game after they have left the immediate area of the "drop." It does, however, present you with a sticky moral dilemma but the money is fair game nonetheless.

As is a coin in a newspaper box, a pay phone or a parking meter. These are all areas of interpretation...moral conversations between you, your God and your dark side.

But in the street or in the gutter or on the're golden! Not literally though. Gold is no longer found in coins. Gold is only found in wedding rings and on Capitol domes. And sometimes in teeth. But, not in coins.

Go for it! Pick 'er up. Put 'er in your pocket. Develop a relationship with someone who will make you a little box. Separate out the found coins from the earned ones. Keep a log. Wait twenty years. Count your money.

Be a lunatic. Start to talk to yourself. Drool.

Prepare for the end.


The price of admission to Happy Acres.

"Got any spare change...?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bentley vs. Rolls

An age old question among motorheads:

Which is better, a Bentley or a Rolls?

I submit that it's a Rolls, but not for the reasons you might expect.

Now we have a new Governor in Alabama. Remember George Wallace? He was from Alabama too.

Welcome the new guy, Robert Bentley.

Just when we thought we had enough idiots, we get this new one.

On the day of his inauguration he is quoted as saying, "Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

Obviously Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists are dismayed. But what about everybody else? How about just everybody, period? (and does he get a partial pass for saying that he wants to be my "brother"...? No, I don't think so Laddie)

Why does a guy, albeit a retired dermatologist, not know that what he said will piss people off? Maybe not like-minded morons who only see people who are just like them but the rest of the population who understands that differences of religion and economic status and levels of education and skin color are simply that (you'd think he'd get the skin color thing at
get it Governor?)

Differences. They don't make you bad or good. There are plenty of assholes in any corner of the planet. White, black, yellow, red, brown, Jew, Christian, rich, poor, educated and unschooled. Well maybe there are more educated rich white guys who are jerks than other groups but that misses the point (from a report at MSNBC: "Employees at Goldman earned an average of $430,700 each in 2010, down 13.5 percent from 2009 but still more than eight times as much as the average U.S. household income." That just makes you want to scream, doesn't it...unless you are an educated, rich, white guy, in which sincere apologies, Pal-o-mine...can you spare a dime?)

The last thing we need is a person in authority, an elected official, running off at the mouth about intolerance. We need people in positions of power who see the potential in all of us, in spite of the differences among us.

Two heads are better than one but only if both heads are full of hope and possibility not prejudice and ignorance.

I wonder if the Governor realizes that Jesus was a Jew? What would he say if he knew that? He must know that. He can't be that stupid. Well, can he?

What is it with our Governors anyway? First Alaska (Palin), then Arizona (Brewer), now Alabama (Bentley). What? Are we going alphabetically? Arkansas (Beebe) must be next. Three down, forty seven to go.

"Sweet Home Alabama"

Great hook in a classic rock song.

I guess the greatness stops there. Where's Neil Young when we need him...?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free Advice...

Ok,'s your big chance!

During the national debate about health care reform the Republicans grabbed the microphone and declared that President Obama's proposals would include, so-called "Death Panels."

People freaked out!

"Death Panels?!" OH MY GOD!! We can't let the president and the Democrats win on health care reform because they will have 'Death Panels'." Little did everyone know that "Death Panels" are really the knotty pine ones that people put in their rec rooms in the seventies along with avocado colored mini-fridges and bean bag chairs.
Those panels were so ugly that they could kill you. Really. I know a guy whose mother-in-law fainted when she walked into his rec room. Never mind that he was smoking pot and watching Deep Throat at the time. We were all sure it was the knotty pine "Death Panels" that did her in.

Anyway...back to the issue at hand.

All the Democrats have to do is declare that the attempt at repeal that is making its's way through the House is none other than the "You Are Killing My Mother" bill.

The Republicans are trying to KILL MY MOTHER! My poor sweet little old mother. In her rocker (or off of it, as the case may be...) covered with an Afghan (hopefully not one who is too heavy) sipping tea (brewed for her by a volunteer from The Tea Party...not!)

"YOU ARE KILLING MY MOTHER" has a certain resonance, a certain ring, a certain je ne sais quoi...

It is all marketing my friends. It is all about image. The Republicans call Obama's legislation "Death Panels" and they get away with it.

All the Democrats have to say is "YOU ARE KILLING MY MOTHER", five times, but not too fast, and Presto! The Republicans lose the debate.

After all, everybody's got a mother. Some have two. Mom. Apple pie, etc. Isn't that what this country is built on, what it's all about? "The American Way?"

Mess with my mother (or father in the case of George W. Bush...See: Saddam Hussein) and I will pull your heart out with my bare hands and put it where the sun don't shine after I've eaten half of it and shoved some of it in your face as you die a horrible agonizing death (got a bit carried away there...sorry..."The American Way" rearing it's ugly head...)!

To the Republicans, sensible, fair health care reform equals "Death Panels."

To the Democrats it should mean "YOU ARE KILLING MY MOTHER!"

If they adopt that slogan they might just prevail. Otherwise Mommy Dearest will be living in our living room on a fold out couch watching endless reruns of Lawrence Welk and farting.

In retrospect maybe "Death Panels" ain't so bad.

Just kidding Mom...

Human Nature

JFK, RFK, King, Oklahoma City, 9/11, Virginia Tech, Tucson.

These are events that have been seared into the nation's collective memory.

"Where were you when Kennedy was shot?"

"Remember the morning of 9/11?"

"She was only 9 years old."

We are shocked and angry and for about thirty seconds we are all one people, united in our grief.

But then comes second number thirty one.

Business as usual. It's yesterday's news. Literally. Already, today, we are talking about Tunisia and Steve Jobs and the ubiquitous Sarah Palin.

Tucson happened. We screamed. The echoes died down. We're back at Starbucks schmoozing about Oprah's "revealing" perfrormance on Piers Morgan.

It's human nature.

And because of that nothing will change. We always clamor for change in the wake of a national tragedy. But nothing ever really changes. (See: Burt Reynolds at the end of "The End"...)

We were torn apart by Vietnam but now we have not one but two wars. Maybe that's because the population of the US in 1967 was 198,712,000 people. Now it's over 308,400,000. I guess we need two wars just to break even.

We really didn't seem to learn anything from our experience in Southeast Asia. If we had, maybe we wouldn't have been so quick to rush into Afghanistan and then Iraq, despite the alleged terrorist threat.

We just revert to yesterday's behavior. Yesterday it was sunny and we didn't need an umbrella, didn't even own one. Today it rained torrentially. We got soaked and swore up and down that we'd get an umbrella...and we did...actually three. Then we put them in the closet and completely forgot we had them. More to the point, it was too difficult to go get them because they were buried under all of the other junk that had piled up over the years. Then, a few days later, it rained again and we got soaked again and we swore up and down that we'd get an umbrella...and we did...this time 5.


We have very short memories. And we don't seem to want to change. We argue and yell and scream at each other and hunker down into our positions and become hardened to the other guy's point of view. We're right, they're wrong and they can go to hell...literally...and if they keep talking we just might help them get there sooner than then they force if necessary...which , of course, is the hallowed "American Way."

Read Stanley Fish and Bob Herbert in Today's New York Times. Fish on Palin and Herbert on guns. Opposing points of view well written and cogent. Calls to action.

But we won't read them, collectively, as a country. Liberals will listen to liberals and conservatives will listen to conservatives and we will go deeper and deeper into the morass of devolution.

The anger will continue and the rhetoric will be darker and more venomous with no end in sight.

Folks in Tucson have been flooding gun stores to buy more weapons and ammunition.

It seems to me that that response is exactly wrong. It was a gun and ammunition that caused the problem. And it was in the hands of a lunatic who thought the answer to his problems was to kill somebody. And that comes from the language of our culture and the celebration of violence exalted by our media, entertainment and politicians.

Gun sights as a campaign graphic? No apologies for the obvious, resultant action?

As Yogi famously said, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Well, my friends, I hate to be the first to tell you this, but I think it's...

Monday, January 17, 2011


Politicians and actors and musicians and amateurs can be so irritating.

And this is one reason why...


The problem with ego is that it gets in the way of greatness. It is necessary to have a healthy one when you start on the road to accomplishment but then it can overwhelm and destroy if you're not careful.

Too many people begin on a journey to achieve something and then, when they have done some small thing that is passable, or even good, they tend to believe their own press.

And the worst part about it is that often, these people are wannabees. They have not yet done the thing they want to do, they have not yet arrived. But because they have actually accomplished some small part of the dream they mistake that for having arrived and they get lost it the applause and adoration.

To want to be something is not the same as being that thing.

I offer myself, here in this blog, as a terrific example. I want to be a writer. I, however, am not one...yet. I am honest about that. I entertain, I opine, I bloviate and I have a few readers who seem to enjoy what I have to say. I do it for fun.

That does not make me a writer. I have known great writers. Richard Seamon, Robert Penn Warren, Bill Arneth, David Brooks, Doug Logan.

I am not one of those people. I may have a facility with words, either spoken or written, and I may have a sense of humor but I am neither Mark Twain nor Dave Barry. After a lot of hard work and practice and schooling I might get close...I would be better than I am...but I am not a writer simply because I say so. I want it but that's not enough. I don't have the experience. I don't yet have the "cred."

And so it is with many people. They desperately want to be something and then maintain that they are that thing, justified, ultimately, only because they say so and have, maybe, done a little insignificant thing to be able to hang their hat on.

And they aren't just the politicians and actors and musicians that we read about and see on television.

They live among us and pretend to be something that they are not. If they would only be who they truly are...dreamers with talent at the beginning of a long journey. Just because they say it, or are lauded by others who don't know the difference, doesn't make it so.

I just wish our politicians and actors and musicians and amateurs would just tell the truth.

"I wish I were (fill in the blank). Someday I will be"

All of the self-congratulation is so boring.

Enough already....


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Katie Scarlett!!

President Obama spoke eloquently about moving past the hateful rhetoric that has become the currency of our national political debate.

I agree and will do everything I can to be more civil and tolerant.


But right last time before I go into political rehab...I have to say one or two last things.

Sarah Palin is...I can't even find the words. She is just...well...hateful.

The conventional wisdom is that, as with having a beer with "W"..."I'd sleep with her..."

I like a pretty face as much as the next guy, but Sarah Palin says such horrible things that hers is no longer pretty to me.

Everytime that woman opens her mouth I want to scream. She incites, in me, exactly the opposite emotions of those that President Obama was talking about in his speech yesterday in Tucson.

I'm having a lovely day...peaceful, calm, contemplative. Full of love and joy and optimism.

Then I see her name in print or hear her on TV.

Then I'm done for the day. I am so pissed off that I feel like smashing the television or running out into the street yelling obscenities.

I don't necessarily disagree with everything that she says or stands for. I just can't stand her arrogant, idiotic manner. She offends me to the core. She is an ignorant opportunist who has no business opining let alone running for or being the president.

I know I'll alienate some of my readers and empower her supporters by taking an anti-Palin stance but I'm willing to risk that. I just can't stand the woman.

I only hope I live long enough to see her disappear into political oblivion just like Dan Quayle, Trent Lott and a host of others whose rhetoric and manner were so polarizing and shameful.

So there. I'm good now. I hope. I hope I can kick the habit, if for no other reason than to honor the memory of the Tucson victims...especially the little 9 year old girl, Christina Taylor-Green.

Her death makes me think of my own daughter and then of all of the children affected by the decisions made by people like Sarah Palin.

I can't imagine what it must be like to be her parents right now. I just can't imagine it. I hope I never have to.

I love my daughter and I love my country but today...right at this minute...I hate Sarah Palin.

I'm sorry for that. I really am. I am better than that. We all are.

I'll try to do better.

But, in the immortal words of Scarlett O'Hara,

"I won't think about that today. I'll think about that tomorrow."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action...!?

The scene is a wide shot of a hallway in the Capitol in Washington. People are milling around. Hill staffers are scurrying about on behalf of their Congressmen and Senators. The unbiquitous press is ready, cameras and mikes in hand, to snag a few words from someone in a position of importance and/or one of their surrogates. The sound is loud and full of echos, the sound of government at work.

Cut to a heavy wooden door with a plaque on the wall next to it. The words on the plaque are in soft focus, unreadable.

The door opens and a twenty something woman walks out. She is beautiful with a her blond hair neatly pulled back into a pony tail. She's wearing a pinstriped suit and a delicate gold necklace. She is carrying a stack of files tucked in her arms the way girls carry their books in high school.

She is followed by an older, gray haired man, who is obviously her boss. He is followed by a young man, also in a pinstriped suit, who is busy on his cellphone.

The frame opens to a medium wide shot and backs up as the three come toward the camera.

A voice is heard in the background, off camera. It is the agitated voice of a woman.

"Senator! Senator!"

Cut to a medium wide of a nicely dressed woman in her thirties. As she shouts, the people near and around her turn to notice her.

"Senator! My name is Roxanna Green...and you killed my precious little girl!"

Cut to a closeup of the older man, the senator. He is shocked. Cut to a medium two shot of the Senator and the woman as he stops in front of her.

"Senator. Because you have categorically refused to address the twin issues of gun violence and media controlled hate beautiful little lovely Christina...a jewel of innocence and beautiful darling lies dead in a coffin awaiting her funeral in Tucson. And did you know that Fred Phelps of The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka is coming to picket her funeral? Did you know that the young man who shot her down in cold blood did so, in part, because of the hatred that has become so much a part of our society and political discourse?"

Cut to the senator's face, obviously affected by the woman's words.

"But, Madam, I abhor violence. My supporters at the NRA abhor violence. My friends at Fox abhor violence. I am...we are...all opposed ...vehemently opposed to the use of violence in the settling of disputes...except in the case of war and sporting contests...and political campaigns...and television advertising and entertainment."

"Sir, the hypocrisy of your argument takes my breath away. My daughter died because there are two standards in this country, supported by you and your benefactors. There is what is good for the wealthy and the powerful and then there is what is good, or I should say, bad, for the rest of us. You allow Right Wing talk show hosts and TV personalities to spew misinformation and venom on a daily basis without standing up to it with truth and civility. And, all the while, you line your pockets with campaign contributons and speaking fees from corporations involved with the very products that have created the hateful society in which we now live."

"But, Madam..."

Cut to two Capitol Police officers hurrying toward the camera. Cut to a wide shot of the policemen grabbing the woman by the arms and leading her away.

Cut to a reporter with microphone extended.

"Senator, do you have any comment?"

Cut to a three shot of the senator and his assistants walking away from the camera as people cross back and forth resuming their activites.

Fade of black.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Not So Grand Canyon...

Ross Douthat, a normally wonderful columnist for The New York Times, got it exactly wrong in his piece in the Op-Ed page today.

"When our politicians and media loudmouths act like fools and zealots, they should be held responsible for being fools and zealots. They shouldn’t be held responsible for the darkness that always waits to swallow up the unstable and the lost."

I couldn't agree less.

The tragedy that unfolded in Tucson over the weekend is a direct result of the poison that comes from the mouths of people like Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, Bachmann, Hannity and O'Reilly.

The young man who pulled the trigger couldn't help but be influenced, in this age of instant 24/7 news, by the noise from the Lunatic Right.

The loudmouth opportunists bear the responsibility for what happened, whether they want to accept it or not.

And one of the victims was only 9 years old! The heart breaks. These people have no shame. They might except for one important factor. Having shame requires having a heart. That, unfortunately, they don't have. And the Wizard of Oz wouldn't give them one either. The Tin Man deserved his. These blowards don't. repsonse, I think we, the population as a whole, should do something equally insane.

We should boycott Arizona. What happened over the weekend is far more serious that the immigration battle that prompted some, last summer, to propose eliminating Arizona from the list of trading partners and places to visit.

What happened over the weekend is a direct result of the way in which the political heirarchy of Arizona has dealt with every modern issue, from gun control to immigration. They don't seem to understand that when you talk hatefully you inspire hatred.

People should have the right to bear arms. They shouldn't have the right to shoot anybody they like.

People should follow the rules for entry into this country. They shouldn't be treated like animals when they don't.

Arizona is out of control and the Right Wing hatemongers of commercial radio and TV have helped to fuel the hatred that erupted over the weekend.

Just say NO!

Don't go to Arizona! Don't cheer for the D-Backs or The Cardinals or The Suns. Don't apply to ASU or the U of A. Don't visit Sedona or The Grand Canyon.

You can do all of that after Arizona comes to its' senses. Until then there ar 49 other states you can enjoy, not to mention Puerto Rico and Guam.

Go to Maine or California or South Carolina or Nebraska.

And if you just have to experience Arizona visit New Mexico instead. It's just as beautiful and not as crazy. (Hyperbolic generalization there, but it makes for a better blog. One has to be black and white sometimes to get one's point across. I know there are plenty of people in Arizona who are not crazy. I went to school Tucson, in fact. Arizona has some lovely people, it really does. But the politicians and talk show hosts are ruining it for everybody else...)

JUST SAY NO hatred and discrimination and insanity and political polarization and, for the time being...Arizona.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Holier Than Thou...

This is what aggravates me...among other things such as snow, stale cookies and The Real (yeah, right...!) Housewives of Beverly Hills.

The unbridled arrogance of the Republican Party.

I apologize, in advance for two things. First, I'm sorry if I have been kvetching lately. Kvetching, as you may remember from a previous post, is Yiddish for "complain." Anyway, I have been kvetching about a lot of things lately, but, frankly, there are a lot of things that are kvetchworthy.

Secondly, I apologize to any of my readers who may be now, or at one time were, card carrying members of the Republican Party. "It ain't personal. It's business."

I must admit that I am not wholly deaf to your point of view. Some of the basic principles of the GOP are valid and worth taking seriously. Personal responsibility, small government, low taxes, a strong national defense.

I think those are pretty good things to believe in.

I also will admit that the Democrats are not devoid of their share of arrogance either. They can posture and preen with the best of them. And when it comes to scandals both parties have had their share. It's hard to decide which is worse, Watergate or Monica Lewinksy when it comes to staining the party. Albeit Watergate was a crisis for the country whereas Monica was more of a crisis for the Clinton family, but both scandals put a mark on their respective political parties.

And the Democrats have some very good ideas and basic principles too. Can't beat The New Deal or quarrel good quality health care. And, after all, somebody has to pay for all of the entitlements to which we have become so accustomed. Taxes seem to help in that department, don't you think?

But I can't help but react to the latest crop of Republicans astride Capitol Hill full of vim, vigor and bull.

John Boehner's tears? Are you kidding me? He's not crying with sadness for the corrupted Constitution. He's crying with joy because he's imagining all of the money he's going to make for many years to come, in and out of elected office. And his taxes will be next to nil because of the Bush cuts that he will certainly engineer into perpetuity.

These men, and they are mostly men mind you, are so full of baloney and themselves that they really seem oblivious about the damage they are doing to this great country.

It shouldn't be about us and them. It shouldn't be about rich and poor, about have and have-not.

It should be about basic humanity and fairness. Our political heroes have been replaced with whining, pompous blowdried blowhards who don't care one wit about anything but the lining of their own pockets and the perks of high office.

I saw Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" last night with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela.

Mandela persuaded Matt Damon's character, Francois Pienaar, the captain of the 1995 South African Rugby team, to try to win the World Cup for South Africa.

Pienaar agreed and, by golly, ("by golly, gee willikers, holy cow...?" I must be getting old...!) he succeeded. But it was Mandela's inspiration, rooted in the notion that he presided over one country, not a fractious group of competing constituencies. His was one South Africa, black, white, ANC and former Apartheid.

He brought the country together by the force of his example. He was a good man who was willing to endure prison on behalf of a greater good, that of his homeland and countrymen. Can you imagine any of our current "leaders" doing that? Now that would make for a terrific reality show. "Sarah Palin's Prison" (Stop laughing. Stop right now or I'll send you to your room without dessert.)

Where's Mandela in this Congress? Boehner? Cantor? McConnell? Bachmann?

I think not.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Moral Quandary

"They need to take an anticoagulant, like warfarin (sold under the brand name Coumadin)"


Sounds like warfaring without the "g." Warfarin'

"He was a warfarin' kind a guy. He liked to wage war."

This is an apt, possible description of the man about whom the first line of this post was written in today's New York Times.

Former Vice President and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

Mr. Cheney has recently had a pump implanted in his body to help his heart push blood through his arteries. He has long had heart trouble and this device will help.

Warfarin is a drug that Mr. Cheney needs to take to aid in the process.

Here's my dilemma. And I mean this from the bottom of my searched soul.

Should I care if he lives or dies? Should I wish him health, happiness and peace or should I hope he dies a horrible painful death, alone in the cold and dark?

I really am torn here. The example we always use is that of Adolph Hitler. Would we have wished him drawn and quartered in the town square or left tied down, spread eagle in the desert sun with sugar on his mouth so the ants could nibble away at him? Or was he a child of God, full of fears and frailties crying out for love, deserving of forgiveness from his fellow man?

From all I have read, seen and heard of Dick Cheney over the years he impresses me as a man with no heart (metaphorically) and a man singlemindedly focused on his own needs and the needs of his corporate puppetmasters. War, war, war...fear, fear, fear. That's what he seems to be about. Oh, and Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton, too...

But then you could think of him as a family man, devoted to his wife and daughters and defensive of their privacy and choices. And you could think of him as a man dedicated to the preservation of the Republic and privy to intelligence information that makes him very afraid of what the enemy can do. And his deference to his business associates can be seen as part of the free enterprise, capitalist model that we are all taught is the Utopia just waiting for those of us who make the most of our opportunities.

Dick Cheney. Hero or Villain.

Do we wish him well during the twilight of his life, hunting, writing, playing with his grandchildren, enjoying the serenity of his retirement and the adulation of his fans?

Or do we see him hung upside down from the tallest oak in Wyoming watching as his new pump strains to move his blood as the batteries wear down and he expires, slowly and with frightened eyes?

I really don't know about this one.

Any suggestions...?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Bigger They Are...

Here's what allows me to keep going, to feel that there is some hope.

Let me stipulate that I don't agree with every last thing that the Democrats stand for nor, equally, do I disagree with all of the basic tenets of the Republican Party.

But of one thing I am very sure. I am not that fond of their bones...behind the alligator logos and the pancake makeup.

Democrats can be tedious...full of boring bull about hairy legs, Birkenstocks and tofu. They can tire me out quicker than a rap song on the radio.

And I have to admit that most of the Republicans that I have known, and I have known a few, preppy that I am, have been fun to be with and most of the women have been babes. Drunks, mind you, but babes nonetheless.

George Bush is always touted as the sort of guy you'd like to have a beer with. You don't like his politics, you say, but you'd crack open a cold one with him any ol' time.

I went to school with guys like Bush. Rich men's sons who never earned a thing they had and always got special treatment because their father or grandfather had just endowed a chair or a building or a scholarship. Nauseating fellows who were always at the head of the line, not because they deserved it but because they had cut in or their place had been saved by their chauffer. "Fortunate Sons" as John Fogerty said.

The thing that irks me about Republicans is their smug self-righteous ego-centricity. What's good for them is all that matters. Screw the rest of us. "I've got mine. Now go to hell...!"

I believe in personal responsibility. Small government is a good principle. But we need government to care for us when we can't and to protect us, not just from missiles and bombs but from bad food, disease and, most of all, ourselves.

But the Republicans go too far. They push for legislation that benefits only a handful of the population...a handful that doesn't really need the help...while the rest of us are combing the landfill for something to eat.

Democrats think that the government should be in all of our business, from food safety and education (good) to seatbelts and helmets (bad.) Protect me from salmonella...please...but if I want to ride a motorcycle without be it.

And spare me the nonsense about the fact that we, as a society, pay for the recklessness of others. Smoking, head trauma, fetal alcohol syndrome. All of it. Why not let people be responsible for their own choices? If I want to take the risk I should bear the burden. Why should the population be made to pay for my mistakes (can anyone say AIG...?) Wanna dance? Pay the piper! No health care for people who are sick or injured because they are STUPID!!!

That's Republicanism at its' finest. But where they go off the rails is in their unbridled selfishness and penchant for unfair play.

That's where we need government oversight...e.g....Democrats.

So what's the point here, already?

The Republicans are strutting now becasue they have regained control of the House. They are going to cut spending. They are going to rein in government and remove it from the backs of the taxpayers.

The only problem is that the burden will land squarely on those among us who can least afford to shoulder the weight.

But they (the Republicans) will inevitably pay the ultimate price. They will posture and bellow and eventually the voters will rise up and throw them out again...

But not until after the next general election.

Things will improve in 2012.

That's when Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck will be in The White House and everything will be okee dokey, hunky dory, sugar and spice and everything nice.

That's when we'll have front row seats at the demise of The Republic.

Moose chips anyone?

The Bigger They Are...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Any Friend of Yours is a Friend of Mine

So, it's 2011.

Happy New Year.

I'm looking for followers. Therefore, in the spirit of the season just past...if you know anyone who would enjoy my blog and would like to be a follower, I would greatly appreciate the gift of your referral.

I have fun writing it and from what I've heard, some of you have fun reading it. Please let me know what you like and what you don't so I can make your experience at the blog more satisfying. Some of you may think that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and that's great. But if any of you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to entertain them. Maybe I can take them out for dinner or maybe just drinks. "Suggestions, party of four!"

So...thanks for all of your support during 2010. I look forward to it in 2011.

And tell your friends.

I need all the help I can get.

Nostradamus, Jr.

I have some predictions for 2011.

There will be sunshine. I am confident of that fact. It will occur with regularity and everyday, for that matter. It will not be confined to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States nor Continental Europe. It will be sunny in Brazil, Singapore and especially China, because China has decided to buy the sun and in years to come lease sunlight back to the rest of the world, in some cases at a volume discount for places like Cancun but not places like Bangor, which can be cloudy at times.

There will be laughter. People from Maine to California, from Washington State to Florida will be laughing. But they will not be laughing in Alaska, however. Alaska will either be in "I told you so" or "Don't blame me" mode. Can you guess why?

There will be oohs and aahs. Folks will be oohing and aahing at the latest gizmo to come out of the tech sector. I should amend that by saying that they will be oohing and iiing mostly because everything that is cool has an "i" in front of it. You could say that the "i"s have it. i, for one, think so. That's w"i" i said it. See, even the word "said" has an "i" in it. I suppose its the "i" way, or as they say in Tel Aviv, the "i vay!"

There will be sports of all kinds. We will have baseball, tennis, football, basketball, hockey and even curling. Curling will happen, largely, out of the public eye (or, "i"...) despite its' immense popularity, but it will happen nevertheless. Especially in hair salons worldwide. There will be, I predict, a lot of curling in the hair salons of the world.

There will be graduations. From college, high school, middle school, elementary school, kindergarten, pre-school (or as we used to call it in my youth, "nursery school", which I think is a much sweeter term. Nursery school. Little kids, unspoiled by life. Let's bring back "nursery school" as a term...along with "gay" as an adverb. "I'm heterosexual and I feel gay!!" And, while I'm at it, the "Enola Gay" didn't turn out to be that...they should have called it the "Ebola Gay"...would have had a similar effect.)

Finally, but not insignificantly, there will be music. All kinds from rap to classical to jazz to country. There will, however, be no opera, because it is too expensive and no one really likes it. They pretend to like it because it confers upon the listener/fan a certain, je ne sais quoi (pronounced "zjhe neuh say kwah", French for , "What the...?") Opera is horrible. It is pretentious and very hard to listen to not to mention understand, unless you are German or Italian. They never put up English operas. They are probably even worse.

I must stipulate here that I know nothing at all about opera. I've been a few times, and to some good ones, in New York and Vienna for example, but I am one of the opera illiterati. I am just not that fond of it, even though I recognize its' rightful place in the history of music from the dawn of time. I wasn't even a fan of The Who's "Tommy." I liked ( the Who, especially the song, "I Can't Explain", but I really didn't like "Tommy", except for "Pinball Wizard", but only The Who's version, not Elton John's, for whom I am happy at the birth of his son. Levon. Did he name him for Levon Helm, the drummer for The Band, or for his own song about Levon? Will we ever know? Will we...punk?!

So there you have it. The First List of Absolute Predictions (FLAP, as in "flap your gums...") from this small corner of the Blogosphere.

Send me yours and I will incorporate them in the list of corrections that I will have to publish this time next year when some, if not all, of the above don't come true.

God (G-D for my Jewish friends) help us and Happy New Year (for my non-Jewish friends...Jews celebrate the New year in September and say "Shana Tova" which actually means "Good New Year" not "Happy New Year", probably because Jews are never truly happy.)

NOTE: Did you notice that an exclamation point is an upside down "i"? Didn't think of that did ya? Conspiracy? Maybe. Who's to know.

Great. Something else to be afraid of in 2011.

Thanks a lot Apple!!