Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Little Boxes

When I was a little boy my parents were struggling financially as were many depression-era people who had lost so much during the economic meltdown of that time.

My father went to work everyday to a job he really didn't like and my mother, as did so many of her contemporaries, stayed at home to shop, cook, clean and, most of all, chase me around.

There wasn't that much money to go around and what there was was organized in a very specific way.  My father would give his checks to my mother and she would create a budget for our household.

There was a drawer in the secretary at the front door that was full of little boxes.  "Food", "Oil", "Clothes", "Misc."

My mother would allocate an amount of money to each box dependent upon the relative need of that "department."  And it was cash.  Bills and coins.  $1.50..$23.00...$5.76...whatever the item called for.

And my family never went without.  We always had what we needed.  We had food, shelter, clothes and even entertainment.

Granted, my parents shopped for bargains and cut coupons and saved trading stamps to redeem for whatever they needed.  But we had what was necessary and sometimes more.

We weren't poor.  We were solidly middle class with our own home and two cars and a dog and my father even had a boat for most of my childhood.

What the difference was between what my parents did and what's going on in Washington today...literally that my parents lived according to what they had.  They saved and cut corners and were smart shoppers.  On the very few occasions that my parents were forced to borrow money they paid it back fastidiously.  If $25 was due on the first of the month it was paid on the first of the month.  My parents were NEVER late nor did they ever renege on a financial commitment.  EVER...

My father would sometimes work two jobs and turn the collars on his dress shirts. My mother would darn socks and squeeze the tube until the last drop of toothpaste was on the brush.

I don't want to make my parents out to be pioneers struggling to eke out a subsistence living on the Great Plains or loading up the car with everything they had to go to the growing fields of the San Joaquin Valley.

They were not Dust Bowl refugees so poignantly captured in Dorothea Lange's masterpieces.

They were just ordinary Americans living, working and raising a family in the 1950s. But what my parents did was take individual and honorable responsibility for their lives and the costs associated with having that family.

They didn't ask for help and didn't avoid their duties, parental or otherwise.  They were good, honest folks who believed in personal ethics and took their roles very seriously.

They wouldn't have done well in Washington (ironically, my father grew up in D.C. in the early 1900s) what with the dishonorable and cowardly way in which our elected representatives are conducting the nation's fiscal business.

The politicians are pointing fingers and, as Soledad O'Brien adorably described it on CNN this morning, just saying "blah, blah, blah" when discussing the sorry state of the budget "negotiations" taking place (or not taking place really...) in the Capitol.

We have borrowed more than we make and enshrined programs that we can't pay for.  We are in debt to our enemies and are in denial about the real sacrifices necessary to fix the financial problems that we have.

We are overrun by corruption and special interest influence and "led" by back biting, small minded, selfish people enamored of celebrity and money and power and not possessive of a shred of concern for the suffering their intransigence has caused or the general welfare of the citizenry.

Shakespeare wrote it right for Polonius when he said "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."

Thomas Paine said it better when he declared,

"Lead, follow or...GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

(G)ay (O)ld (P)arty...?

And now comes news that The Republican Party, The GOP, The Grand Old Party...the Party of Lincoln (which lost to Obama and "Argo" for the same reason...boring!  Too bad the GOP didn't nominate Daniel "Threepeat" Day-Lewis instead of Willard...they might have won...) is in favor of same sex marriage.


Uh...well...I just don't believe that the Republicans really endorse gay rights and same sex marriage.

It is just a cynical ploy to garner votes for 2014 and beyond. It is just like their "Johnny (McCain)Come Lately" approach to immigration.

Willard showed the true stripes of the Republican Party with his, now infamous, "47%" remarks.  The GOP has shown nothing but contempt and a patent disregard for the welfare of minorities and the disadvantaged. 

Their policies hurt rather than help average Americans and the idea that, all of a sudden, they have been converted is ludicrous on its' face.

I will stipulate, with passion, that the Democrats are not much better at governing this country than the Republicans, if at all.  But, at least, they seem firm in their commitment to basic civil rights and economic fairness.

The Republicans have mostly been the party of the Elite and now, just like that, they are for the "common man...?"

Again, to that I say ..."Yeah...right!"

I have always admired the Republicans adherence to their values, sink or swim.  I may not always agree with them and I wish they were more flexible sometimes and I believe that new information should empower people to draw new and different, in a New York Minute, change horses, especially after suffering the sort of losses they did in this past election, seems disingenuous and blatantly self-serving.

They must think we, the voters, are amnesiac idiots. me get back to you on that...

So, as far as the Gay question and the Republican Party are concerned, I'll believe it when we have gay football players, gay leading men, gay politicians and a gay Pope.

Oh...we already do?

Let me get back to you on that one too...

Oh...and while we're at I the ONLY person on the planet who regrets the loss of the word "GAY?"  Remember "The Gay Nineties", "A Gay Blade" and "Gay Ol' Time...?"

Come on folks...let's bring it back!  Let's start right here and reintroduce the word "Gay" as a joyful descriptive adjective.

Homosexuals already have "Homosexual" and a bunch of other unprintable monikers.  Just let us have "Gay" back.  Please!

If you do I'll join the Republican Party and really be Pro-Gay Rights...which I already am.

I just want to be Gay about it...!

"Ogay" with you...?


In a previous post ( "Cut it Out!" ) I referred Congress' attempt to reach an accord to avoid the pending budget cuts as something that happened last year.  It actually happened in 2011.  My apologies.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Holy Cow or Holy Bull...?

Dedicated to one of my heroes, Maureen Dowd

What I know about Catholicism you could put in a small chalice.

I know next to nothing other than the fact that Midnight Mass was always fun with my friend because we would laugh and get caught by my her mother who would lean forward and stare across all of us in an attempt to guilt us into being quiet and serious but would only cause us to laugh more in that wonderful way you laugh when you're not supposed in class or at a funeral or when an adult says "If you don't stop laughing and wipe that silly grin off your face you'll be in a lot of trouble"...which then, you inevitably, were...

So...Catholicism and me...not much there.  I respect it but I'm as dumb as a stone when it comes to understanding it.

But I do know about morality and the concept of honor.  I admit that I haven't always been a saint...or a choirboy...but I do know the difference between right and wrong and have tried to live good life.

It seems that the Catholic High Command has not gotten that message.  The Pope is resigning, something a Pope hasn't done for something like 700 years and, one after another, we hear of a priest or a cardinal ( I feel sorry for the bird, getting all of this bad press...they are so beautiful, especially set against all of the snow we've been getting lately...) being accused of some wrongdoing or another.

And most of it seems to have to do with sex which is not looked upon with too much favor at the Vatican.

Sex is okay if you're the church...but not before marriage, not with a member of your own sex and never with a child.

But that seems to be the order of the day in the Order of the Priesthood.

Sex in spite of marriage, almost always with a member of their own sex and too often with little boys.

The only explanation is that the men of cloth are really just men at heart and have urges like the rest of us and because of the Church's ban on sex in the priesthood, they are left to only have the priesthood.

I feel sorry for those guys.  Surrounded by women who do everything they ask and other women who confess everything, often about sex, and the poor guys are left with no outlet.  No wonder they turn to each other and, unfortunately, to the powerless children in their care.

And the Vatican thinks it can police itself?  Classic fox/chicken coop stuff if you ask me. No way...

It's hard not to think that the Pope is giving up the Papacy and all of it's power only because he feels old and weak.

He's just not into the fight and is, as they say, "kicking the can down the road," to the next guy who will have to deal with the ever evolving sordid mess that has become the modern Catholic church.

But it seems that people never learn.  It seems that when someone is caught with their hand in the, proverbial, cookie jar that they just can't seem to come clean, take responsibility and let the dust settle.

Noooo...they have to prevaricate, dodge, connive and try to avoid consequence.

Richard Nixon. Lance Armstrong.  Pope Benedict...?

"Only the Shadow knows" and he ain't talkin'...

Cut it Out!!

I was struck the other day by a television news report about the effect sanctions are having on everyday life in Iran.

People are going without some basics and there is unemployment and discontent among the masses.

These conditions are a result, in part, of the drastic sanctions that have been levied by the United Nations in an attempt to do two things.

The stated priority is to force Teheran to desist from developing nuclear weapons.  The other, unstated goal, is to create regime change in the Islamic theocracy led by the Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

I almost met Ahmadinejad in New York once when I was covering his trip to the UN for CBS News.

We were staked out across from the Intercontinental Hotel waiting for any glimpse of Iran's president.  Our producer got word that he was in a meeting at a small office a few blocks away.  I took my camera and quietly went to the location, on a side street across from an outdoor cafĂ©.

I took up a low profile position hoping for a scoop shot of him coming out.  I waited for about a half hour and wasn't disappointed.

There he was, diminutive, open collared and accompanied by just a few bodyguards as he came out, right toward me, on his way to his limo.

He saw me and, because I was smiling at him, came right in my direction as if he wanted to meet me and shake my hand.

At the last minute, before he could step off the curb, one of his handlers diverted him into his car and he was gone.

What I saw was not an ogre but a funny little man with a broad smile, seeming every bit like an "innocent abroad."

His demeanor made me question what was being said about him.  After all he had, in fact, made the remarks about the Holocaust and he is, in fact, the leader of an oppressive dictatorship.

But is he merely a puppet or really the mastermind behind all of the terrible things that have allegedly happened at Iran's hand?

Who knows?  Certainly not me nor the pundits or editorialists we rely so heavily on.

But...that's not the point of this post.  The point of this post is to draw a parallel between the hardships being experienced in Iran and the ones that we are about to experience here in the U.S.

The mandated cuts that have been talked about, without pause, over the past few months, are about to take effect.

The Congress couldn't reach an accord last year so, here we are on the brink of yet another financial disaster, because, once again, the headless (heartless...) "leaders" in Washington can't get out of their own way long enough to actually do something for the country rather than themselves and their puppetmasters.

But maybe that's exactly what's happening here.  Maybe there is method to the apparent madness that is our, so called, legislative process.

The GOP says they are willing to allow the Sequester cuts to go into effect in order to force, not only the spending cuts they claim to want but to, more importantly, force the conversation about the overall cost of government and the myriad programs we have chosen to create and fund.

Some argue that maybe the Republicans are trying to induce a regime change here just like the one the UN is trying to force in they (the UN, not the Republicans...ahem...) tried (and failed...) to do in Iraq before the war there.

They have made no secret of their hatred of Obama (because he's black...) and the fact that they want to take over.

But is this really the way to do it guys?  To cut programs that are vital to the country's growth and well being.

Air traffic controllers?  Teachers?  FDA inspectors?  Really...?

The Democrats will blame the Republicans for whatever bad happens as a result of these cuts but the GOP is betting that Obama will ultimately take the bulk of the heat.

Who knows...their calculations may turn out to be right.

Then, in  2016, Paul Ryan will be elected president because Hillary will not be able to overcome Obama's failures, her own questionable past the Republican's political "Swift Boat" campaign tactics.

Then, Ryan will adopt his budget and the, then, Republican controlled Houas and Senate will pass it and we'll really see some cuts.

As Jim Carrey beautifully put it in "The Mask"...

"Hold on to your lug nuts! It's time for an overhaul!"

Stay tuned.

Glossy or Mat Finish?

This just in from the "This is the STUPIDEST Thing I've Ever Heard" Department.

There is talk of removing wrestling from the Olympics.

There is also talk of including...I'm so embarrassed here I can't stand of...I don't think I can say it...hold on, I'm trying to gain my composure...ok, I'm good, let go of my arm please... of including...I can't believe I'm writing this...of including...


Ice Fishing...?

uh...ICE FISHING!!??

What the hell kind of sport is ice fishing?  Everyone knows that ice fishing is simply an activity for lunatics who want to, 1) sit on the ice, drill a hole, wait for a fish and drink or, 2) an activity for lunatics who want to drag a small house complete with a television, heat, a refrigerator, food and a chemical toilet out on the ice, drill a hole, wait for a fish and...drink!

Where's the competition?  Where's the training?  Where's the sacrifice?

Wrestling is about strength and cunning and the ability to size up an opponent and, by virtue of conditioning and skill, be able to pin the other guy, who may very well be bigger and stronger and smellier.

Ice fishing is about the cold and random selection and BOREDOM!!!

One of the worst things about fishing, in general, is the tedium of waiting for the fish.  Once the enjoyment of getting there and fooling around with the pole, tackle and bait has subsided, it's all about sitting and watching and maybe, just maybe, after an interminable amount of time, maybe a fish will, at a minimum, nibble and possibly take the bait...and the hook, mind you...and then you can try to reel him in and then...usually...let him go.

Which seems stupid in and of itself...and cruel too. 

Go fishing, catch a fish, clean it and eat it.

Fine.  But the "catch and release" portion of the program seems somewhat silly.  I grant you, the fiddling around with the gear part is fun and being on, or near, the water, especially on, is one of life's great pleasures.  And the trying to catch a fish and actually reeling one in can be thrilling but it is all put into perspective when you think of the poor fish gasping for air while experiencing the pain of a hook in the mouth.

Kind of puts a damper on the whole enterprise if you ask me.

So an Ice Fishing event in the Olympics seems to me to be a bit ridiculous.

A gold medal for sitting on your ass on a frozen lake waiting for a fish.  Holy Jehosaphats!

What will the rules be?  A time limit?  A size limit?  What?  And how would one qualify?  Size of pole?  Sharpness of hook?  Stinkiness of bait?  What?  How?  WHO!?

So...Wrestling out, Ice Fishing in?

Athletes out...Couch Potatoes in?  What's next...Track out, Shopping in?

" And the gold goes to Marge of Lithuania for bagging the most groceries!"

Yay!  Way to go Marge! 

Marge on the Wheaties box, Marge in the Nike ads.

Jeeeeeesuz!  There goes the neighborhood...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

There's Snow on the Roof

"Just because there's snow on the roof doesn't mean there's no fire in the furnace."

A wonderful saying to depict a youthful essence within an aging body.

You may have guessed it.  I feel old.

I'm not old, at least not by conventional, modern standards.  I'm in the "new middle age", the prime of my life.  And I'm waging a war with myself to stay phsychologically young.

The trouble is that I've been programmed to believe that this old age, senior, "golden."

Golden, my ass! The only thing golden about it may be a crown or two, or the frames of my glasses.
Not the pocket watch however.  I didn't spend enough time at any one job to be eligible for a gold one.

Those days are gone anyway.  What with the price of gold these days, you're lucky to get the box it came in let alone the watch itself.

I am, however, the proud owner of my grandfather's and my great-grandfather's pocket watches.

They are beautiful.  Real pieces of art now.  I love them.  I never use them but they are there, just the same, to remind me of the past, of my past.

It all seems so long ago now.  My first bike, my first movie, my first kiss.  Its all in black and white in my memory probably because all of the pictures my father took were in black and white.  Color film wasn't commercially available when I was a kid.  Neither was color television.

Neither was solid state so our first TV was enormous with a tiny, tiny screen on which we could watch any one of 4 stations.  Now I have an enormous color screen with 300 stations.  Funny how of those 300 there are really only 4 that I watch and three of those are Law and Order reruns.  The other is CNN so I can keep up on what's gone wrong in the world today.

A fellow ("fellow" quaint...Jeez..."quaint" quaint...) recently remarked to me that he wished there were a "good news" channel, as he called it.

I said it wouldn't last because good news doesn't sell.  It's not exciting enough or sexy enough.  It's not as compelling as a school massacre or a gun fight in a ski resort or a car bomb.  Now that's sexy!

I get tired when I shouldn't, hurt where I ought not to and am bored with almost every pop culture offering.

I think the latter is because there doesn't seem to be anything happening of originality in popular culture.

The music is a rehash of old stuff, the movies try too hard, fashion is slovenly and sports is so corrupted by drugs and money that it's hard to get enthusiastic.

And, if you know what's good for you, you will not get me going on politics. 

Eisenhower may not have been that smart but he was a bona fide hero.  Kennedy may not have been that smart but he also served his country with valor.  Johnson was a real deal maker and I may not have liked Richard Nixon that much but I miss his intellect and willingness to actually compromise unlike the idiots in today's Washington.

And Mickey Mantle may have been flawed but he signed autographs and was truly great without the steroids.

Marilyn Monroe was not much of an actress but she was naturally beautiful without Botox and implants and weaves and whatever else women think they have to do to be attractive to us.

The older I get the more I am reminded of another saying:

"You don't miss the water until the well runs dry."

I'm thirsty my friends.  What about you...?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I Love You SOOO Much!

I HATE the Internet, or The World Wide Web, or The Web or being "Online", or whatever the hell you want to call it!


Actually, truth be told, I love the Web.  It is an amazing tool for finding stuff out or for being entertained or communicating or promoting or selling something or finding stuff for free.

BUT THE ADS!  Oh My God...the friggin' ads are too much to bear.

I have a new PC (I used to be a Mac guy until I was forced to choose between selling my house or buying a new computer...) which I got for not a lot of money recently.  It's a perfectly good computer with all of the features one could want, with the exception of Office which I have yet to buy for an additional cost, which used to come with the computer but no longer does, because Microsoft needs to increase profits so Bill Gates can donate more money to the underprivileged so they can rise up out of poverty and become contributing citizens rich enough to buy more computers that don't have Office and will then have to buy the software for an additional cost...

Ah...sidetracked there for a minute...

The friggin' ads are SOOOO unbelieveably frustrating that they almost make you want to turn off the computer and buy a carrier pigeon and/or invest in Dixie Cups and string.

First, the computer takes its' own sweet time in booting up.  Then you have to navigate Windows  which, by universal measure SUCKS/BLOWS/is Terrible...!

Then you hit the Explorer icon, if you're using Explorer, which I do (I will hear from devotees of other browsers but...whatever...) and you have to wait for it to load.

I have Google as my home page.  Others have other home pages.  My hat goes off to you.  More power to you.  God Bless You...

Google loads and then I'm ready.

Where do I want to go?  The New York Times?  Craigslist? My blog (to regale you...) Where, exactly?


But now the "fun" begins.

First I punch in the URL.  Then I am told that we are "waiting" for it to "respond.  Like it's a person or something.  "Hello..."  Nothing.  "HELLO...!"

Then FINALLY...the website I was after.

But NOOOOOOO...not so fast my friend.  Not so FAST!

Banners and popups and ads of all sort about everything and what's almost more disturbing, ads about stuff that I'm marginally interested in which magically appear on the screen as a function of previous searches or emails. Creepy...

I wish I could just go online and do what I came to do without being bombarded by the prevailing commercialism that has become the norm.

The once delightful Internet has become an unbridled marketplace of useless and, largely, unwanted crap that just serves to prevent us from actually doing what we came to do.

Communicate with friends.  Surf for entertainment or information.  Learn. Enjoy. Discover.

No longer.  The World Wide Web has become like broadcast television (including the venerable PBS and their Pew Charitable Trust and MacArthur Foundation drivel...), full of advertising and short on meaningful content.  Even the once pristine, easy to navigate world of Craigslist has ads now.  Tragic.

Some liken the modern Internet to the Wild West of the 1800s.

Maybe...maybe the bad guys shooting up a saloon after a cattle drive.  A bunch of morons with too much money, gambling, drinking, whoring, hung over and in need of a bath.

The World Wide Web.  Boot Hill. 

Too bad.  How to spoil a great thing.

Reminds me of the wonderful billboard that once greeted visitors to The Granite State (but in the case of the Web, is too late):

"Welcome to New Hampshire.  Now go home..."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Meet Eyeore...

I can just imagine the Saturday Night Live skit featuring Gilda Radner and Jane Curtin.

Gilda, playing Roseanne Roseannadanna, is an editorial commentator during "Weekend Update", SNL's fake newscast (for the uninitiated.)

She launches off on a rant about Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin and A.A. Milne.

"Why should I go all the way to Russia in order to meet Eyeore?  I've read the books. I am a devotee and I even still have my Pooh Bear from when I was a little girl. 

I don't understand why I would travel all the way to some out of the way part of the former Soviet Union, that was used, by the way, to test nuclear missiles, just to meet a character, however cute, from a children's book.

England, maybe.  Greece, possibly, their debt crisis notwithstanding.  France, definitely.  But, behind the Iron Curtain (not you Jane, you ignorant #&@%...!)?  Not in a million years.  Way too cold and I don't drink Vodka...

I liked Christopher Robin, Kanga and Roo though and I was especially fond, of course, of Pooh himself.

He was a bit stupid but very sweet and I totally understand his passion for honey.  I wouldn't drink my tea with anything less.

But Eyeore?  Why Eyeore?  A perfectly nice guy, no real flaws that I can see.  But a second-stringer.
Not a headliner in any way shape or form.

Winnie the Pooh, yes. Go to Chelyabinsk to meet Eyeore.  Not likely."

"Uh, Roseanna.  It's not "Meet Eyeore."

"What?  Well, who is it then?"

"It's not a who.  It's a what."

"A what?  What what?

"A meteor."

"A meteor?  What meteor? You mean one from outer space...?"

"Yes...a meteor...from outer space."

"Oh...uh...ahem...well...uh...........Never Mind...!"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

You Can't Handel the Truth!

Handel wrote his beautiful Wassermusik (Water Music) in the early 1700s for England's George the First.

It was performed on a barge on the Thames (pronounced "Tems" in London and "Thaymes" in New London...go figure)

Stop the presses!

Marco Rubio drank water yesterday.

War in Afghanistan, death in Big Bear Lake, shootings in Chicago, lootings on Wall Street.  All back page fodder so we can dish about the Freshman Senator's SOTU rebuttal gaffe.

I ask you...who gives a #@%!

The Republicans are so desperate to find a White Knight (pun intended...) that they will put up anybody.  The "Media" is referring to MR as a "Rising Star" and a possible candidate for the presidency in '16.

What about Jeb and Paulie and the other guys who have been patiently waiting in the wings?  And let's not overlook Chris "Doughnut Boy" Christie.  I am troubled by the fact that he has two first names.  Like Boutros Boutros-Ghali.  Why two names?  What were his parents thinking?  Christopher Christie?  What? Like John-John Kennedy?  Is there a, not so veiled. attempt there to glom onto Camelot?  Please say it ain't so Mrs. Christie, Sr.

Anyway...back to water...the drink of life.

I was less bothered by Marco-Marco's drink than I was with the fact that he kept on looking at the camera the whole time like a star struck teenager who couldn't believe he was on national television, delivering the GOP response to Barry's State of the Union speech.

Dude...just get the water, take a huge sip, gulp, drink...whatever...and carry on.  And while I'm at it, he has claimed all day that he was parched from having been talking all day.  So why the measly little sipperoo?  Take a big, fat, dripping, drooling, hog wild, get it on swig My Man!  Throw it back.  Down it.  Let 'er loose!

Like frat boys and athletes who upend a can of beer/soda and, after putting the open end in their mouth, open the top/bottom with a church key ( a can opener for anyone born after 1970...), open their throats and let the whole thing gush down.

Now that's a drink of water.

Not an elegant little tastelette from a small sippy bottle of Poland Spring designer H2O.

If you want to be the ruler of the free world representing, not only your Hispanic bretheren and sisteren (not to be confused with a "cistern", a vessel used to hold water...), but all of pearl-dripping, accent-faking, Audi-driving gabillionaires as well...then you gotta learn to DRINK!

Go to any union hall on Friday at 4:30.

That's where you'll find some real drinking. Some real sloshin' 'll be happenin' there my friend.

Because you can't get the ladies with a "bi-partisan" vote for less violence toward women any more than you can get the Hispanics by simply being one but acting like a Brahmin.

So the next time you need water just take a drink.  Don't look at the camera with those big faux-innocent eyes.

Or turn on some Handel and dream wistfully about "what might have been."

Remember Bobby Jindal?  He was a "Rising Star" once too.

But now, Senor, he's drinking alone...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kids Say The Darnedest Things

My daughter is 16 now.  She used to be a child before she was an adult.

I know...16 is not an adult.  But by all measure, she is more of an adult than most of us masquerading as such.

We were in a conversation, while we were housebound during the blizzard, about guns and violence.
She offered her opinion and evaluation of the situation;

"It's bullying and home life that causes the problem of violence in our society."

What a novel idea.  Kids that are bullied become bullies and violence, in any form, at home begets violence in society.


"You get more bees with honey."  That's an expression that I grew up with, a concept that always made sense.  And it has been proven to me time and again.  When I am nice to people (most people...) they are nice to me.  When people are nice to me I return the favor.

My parents were kind and loving and raised me in an environment of caring and affection.  I was listened to and my opinions mattered.

Albeit, I didn't always get what I wanted but, as Mick says, I got what I needed.  I had vibrant and interesting conversations with my folks about everything from politics to sports and beyond.  We often were at opposite ends of the intellectual was the sixties after all...but we always knew, at the end of the discussion (argument...) that we loved one another and all was well.

I have raised my daughter in the same way.  She doesn't always prevail and we occasionally differ but she knows that I love and respect her and would give my life for her.

She has a positive sense of herself and the confidence to go out into the world and take on all comers standing, all the while, in her truth and power.

She is kind...she went down the street yesterday to help the octagenarians shovel their driveway...loving, sensitive and caring.  Today she was upset at the fate of a wounded gull even though birds are not her favorite creatures.

When I was a little boy a cartoon depicted a group of vegetables playing in the garden.  There, off to the side, alone in the corner, sat the onion.  No one would play with the onion because the onion made them cry.

I, with my little feet extending just past the edge of the chair, turned to my mother and said, in all of my 4 year old wisdom, "Mommy, I would play with the onion."

My daughter would play with the onion too. 

Children who are brought up in environments of love and acceptance grow up to be tolerant and peaceful adults who are not prone to resolve their conflicts through violence, no matter what the instrument.

They don't, ordinarily, grow up to buy AK-47s, load them with 30 bullets, climb a bell tower and have target practice on a group of students simply because they got a D in biology.

Love our kids and they will love us back.

My teenager knows that.  The question then becomes...

Where are the adults...?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Brand This!

You know what? 

I didn't even hear what Eric Cantor had to say today about the rebranding of the Republican Party.

I don't care what he, or any other Republican has to say.  I'm not listening.

But, to be fair, I wouldn't be listening to the Democrats either.  I wouldn't give them the time of day if they were trying to sell the rebranding thang...

The proof would have to be in the pudding, if ya know whata mean, jelly bean (a shameless Ronald Reagan reference, whose wife, Nancy was against stem cell research before she was for it when Ronnie was diagnosed with incurable Alzheimer's...I'll tie this in later, I promise)

After years of policies designed to benefit the Willards of the country and leave the former middle class to join forces with the underclass to create the new and improved "Won't Ever Reach The American Dream" Class.

For example, my Doubting Tomas (a shameless Hispanic reference in the hopes of attracting more Spanish speaking people of Spanish descent to this blog) friends:

The GOP lost the 2012 election to the ever enigmatic Barack Obama in part because they marginalized and all but ignored the legions of hard working folks who mow their lawns, clean their toilets and raise their kids (remember the funny scenes in Jim Carrey's "Fun with Dick and Jane" when his young son speaks Spanish to the cops when he calls to get bailed out of jail on a false immigration charge...?)

Now the Republicans are "all of a sudden" embracing Immigration Reform and are willing to talk to Obama, if not take the lead in the negotiations.

Huh?  Now you think reform is a good idea?  Now it's good for the country?  Can anyone say "Christmas Goose...?"

At least the ever angry John McCain was candid enough to reference the election debacle in talking about why the Republicans are now interested in meeting the Administration more than half way.
He admitted that they lost, in part because of their attitudes toward the Hispanic community, Rubio, Cruz and Castro at the convention notwithstanding.

The GOP must think that "we the people" are the dumbest folks around.  They must think we all have Alzheimer's.  (The aforepromised tie in...) They must think our short term memory has gone on permavacation.  No disrespect to those afflicted with the disease, or their families.  My own mother succumbed to its' ravages a year ago the 9th.  I understand the heartache.

But we can't be that dense.  We can't be so oblivious as to think that just because Boehner/Cantor/McConnell & Co. say they're different that they really are.

As my lovely wife is wont to say, "If it walks like a duck..."

What the Republicans need to do, in my opinion, if you were to ask me, is to offer legislation and then vote on the same.  Legislation that actually benefits the country, as a whole, over a LONG period of time.

Regulate and emasculate the banks.  Thwart corruption and punish those who take advantage.  Pass laws that serve the public interest...all of the public.  Stop the pork. 

Forgo raises and Congressional health packages and private jets and special perks, especially when there are so many wonderful Americans willing to work and provide for their families but can't find jobs because of the special favors granted to multinational corporations.  Save the environment by passing laws that will clean the air and water and diminish our hyper-dependency on foreign oil.

Step up or step off!

Talk is cheap.  Put your ethics back where your mouths are.

Maybe then I'll listen.  Until then imagine me with my hands over my ears singing very loudly so as to drown out...

...THE NOISE!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

In a Hole


The tragedy unfolding is Alabama is horrible.  It is anyone's nightmare, especially a parent's, to imagine their child, let alone a 5 year old (again...) in harm's way.  And kidnapped and held hostage by an alleged murderer in an underground bunker.  Let me speak for everybody when I say...OH MY GOD!!!

The media is everywhere...again...and we are treated to up to the minute information about what is happening.

Or what is not happening, in this case.  Unless you're talking about crayons.  Yeah...that's news...

I was struck (punditspeak for "I noticed") by the images of hundreds of heavily armed members of all of the police forces imaginable.  SWAT teams, state police, local police, the FBI.  They are all there as well as correspondents from all of the networks and then some.  Sandy Hook all over again.  You'd think, by the way they act, that they were addicted to tragedy.

But why so many police?  The reports are that there is one a child hostage in a confined, underground, space and there is, so far, one person dead, the school bus driver.

The guy is in a box underground.  They know where he is.  He couldn't get out, if he tried, without going past the authorities.

You only need two guys at the door, at most.  One to guard the door and shoot the guy if he tries anything funny and one guy to back up the first guy.  Ok...I'll give you three guys.  One extra to be there if numbers one or two have to go to the bathroom or something.

I am, by no means taking this event lightly.  It's a very important and fragile situation.  I feel awful for the little boy's family and for the bus driver's family.  And for the gunman's family who love him and are concerned for his welfare.  The powers that be are in charge and, for the time being, in control and are acting with the utmost professionalism and care.

But why do we need so much man power?  The situation reminds me of the famous "Alice's Restaurant", Arlo Guthrie's epic ode to the social upset of the Sixties.

Officer Obie "had two 8 x 10, color, glossy photographs with circles and arrows on the back of each one explaining what each one was..."

And the police of Stockbridge, a small town in Western Massachusetts, not used to much excitement, had dragged out all sorts of police equipment that they normally never got to use, in order to properly investigate the charge of "litterin'" that had been leveled against the long haired, hippie Mr. Guthrie.

That appears to be what's happening in Midland City. 

To repeat.  There's one guy holed up in a small underground bunker with one 5 year old hostage...surrounded by the cops.

Maybe all of the excess, highly trained and over-armed manpower could be better deployed fighting other crimes or, at the very least, guarding Alabama's rural schools.

If a retired veteran can allegedly kill a school bus driver and take a little boy hostage at gunpoint then maybe there's another lunatic lurking in the Alabama woods waiting to storm a school and kill a group of children for no apparent reason.

You say you want armed guards at schools.  You have them. So use them.  Leave one at the bunker and put the others in places where they can do more good.

And they could have the red jello at the schools.  It ain't a doughnut but it ain't half bad neither...

Nothing is Ever Lost

The other day I posted an idea on Facebook about gun safety.  I received a few responses, none of them in agreement. I had hoped that would be the case.  As my father said;  "That's what makes horse races."

Here's what I proposed:

Let's use modern technology to design a mechanism whereby a gun can be rendered inoperable, remotely, by it's lawful, registered owner.

"OnStar" can find a car and make it so it can't be driven.  A push of a button from some office somewhere and the automobile won't run.

Imagine a lost or stolen gun equipped with similar technology.  The owner pushes a button and the gun won't work.  Another way of putting it is that the owner pushes a button and nobody dies.

Using this sort of safeguard will allow law enforcement to track and interdict stolen weapons before they are used to rob, rape or kill someone.  GPS allows us to find the local pizza joint by simply putting a request into our smartphone or laptop.  The same technology could be used to find lost or stolen guns, whether they be 9mm, 12 gauge or AK.

The only person who would be able to deactivate the weapon would be the owner.  He, alone, would have the code, which he created, much like the codes we have for our secure bank accounts and credit cards.

There would be no legislation to allow government to force an individual to relinquish the codes.  It would be up to the individual gun owner as to whether or not he chose to use his proprietary code to stop his gun from firing.  But most people would chose to do so if they knew it could save a life (lives) or, at a minimum, return their expensive property.

Second amendment defenders should have no problem with this solution any more than with "OnStar", for example.  No one's right to own a gun is being challenged.  It would just be another tool in the effort to stem the violence, even if it saved just one life.

Certainly, there would be people who would endeavor to circumvent the technology.  But that should not be reason enough to back away from the idea.  If lives can be saved it's worth a look.  As my father also used to say, "If they can put a man on the Moon..."

But the problem is, and will continue to be, the elected officials who stand in the way of sane legislation and civil conversation.  They are too imprisoned by their relationship with the gun lobby and too afraid to take a stand against some of their constituents.

It's too bad we don't have a button that we could push to deactivate those morally corrupt, greedy and tone deaf politicians.

Oh...we do?  It's called what?  The vote?

Oh...I forgot...