The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘comedy’ Category

ARE THERE ANY POLITICIANS IN HEAVEN?

Recent posts have focused on world and national affairs that are serious by their very nature.  But sometimes we can take ourselves too seriously and a little levity helps us refresh our minds and spirits.  So I thought that I would share a routine that comedian Don Novello created, playing his most famous role as Fr. Guido Sarducci.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE IRS BASEBALL TEAM

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At the IRS there’s a new catch phrase going around.  It is, “That’s my story – and it’s subject to change or revision at a moment’s notice.”

Setting aside whether it disturbs you that the IRS may have targeted a particular group with a particular political viewpoint, which it should irrespective of your own political perspective, all Americans should be troubled that any organization that has the power to seize your bank accounts, your home and your life savings simply hasn’t the ability to maintain its own records which it is required to do by Federal law – but expects all taxpayers to maintain documentation of the statements they make on their tax returns for seven year

Let’s recap the Congressional investigation into whether the IRS targeted conservative groups, denying or holding up a determination on whether they were entitled to tax exempt status for periods of up to two years.

First, when this news broke we were told that this was a “boneheaded decision” (that comment courtesy of President Obama) which originated from and was restricted to the Cincinnati, OH IRS office.

Second, we found that the order to pay “special attention” to conservative groups actually began in Washington, at IRS headquarters and one mid-upper level IRS bureaucrat, Lois Lerner was at the center of this.

Third, Lois Lerner is subpoenaed to testify and pleads her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, not a normal procedure taken by someone who has nothing to hide.

Fourth, Chairman Issa’s committee requests copies of Lois Lerner’s emails from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen who replies that it might take one to two years to get this information together.  That is testimony that he delivers before the committee under oath.

Fifth, Koskinen returns to testify to the committee and testifies that Lois Lerner’s hard drive “crashed” and that many of the requested emails were irretrievably “lost.”  Co-incidentally, a number of other IRS employees’ hard drives similarly “crashed” at the same time – people with whom Ms. Lerner would regularly have communicated.

Sixth, the Director of the National Archives testifies before the committee that under Federal law, the IRS was supposed to have furnished his office with all written communications and failure to do so was a violation of Federal law.

Seventh, Koskinen testifies that Lois Lerner’s hard drive was “destroyed” and there would be no way for him to provide the subpoenaed emails.

Eighth, Koskinen testifies that “backup tapes” which might hold the emails exist and that the hard drive which was “destroyed” actually still exists and merely was “scratched” rather than being destroyed.  It is possible that there might be data on it which could be recovered.

That brings us up to date – for the moment.  Apparently, the IRS’ story is subject to change without notice.

With all the different stories that IRS has told thus far, it is not surprising that nearly three out of four Americans believe that Congress should continue its investigation of this agency.  Perhaps the remaining twenty-five percent of us think this is either a waste of time or money and the IRS plays no part in their lives – so why bother?  Well, they’re not only uninformed but they’re wrong.

As you may know, Obamacare affects everyone in the country and many of its provisions fall under the purview of the IRS.  Yes, they’re the folks who are supposed to determine that you might be entitled to a “subsidy” for your insurance premium and they’re the people who are supposed to penalize you if you don’t comply with the law by buying health insurance.  Given their level of either incompetency or downright dishonesty in discussing the Lerner emails, that doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about them – not that I had one before now.

Several years ago before I began taking Gracie to the dog park I used to walk her in my neighborhood.  Occasionally I would run in to one man on the next block whom I would greet with a friendly, “Hello, how are you today?” never to receive a response from him.  This happened many times and I wondered if there were something that I had inadvertently done to offend him or perhaps he just didn’t like dogs.  So I mentioned this to a neighbor who lived across the street from this man and his family.  She told me, “Don’t take it personally.  He isn’t very friendly.  And he works for the IRS.”

I hadn’t thought about this man for several years – until the “phony IRS scandal” emerged.  I can’t conclude that the agency engaged in any wrongdoing – but there is that smell to that what with all their changing stories and obfuscation.  It’s a little like living next door to a Limburger cheese factory.  You don’t have to go inside to know that it’s there.

So it occurred to me, what if this man’s immediate next door neighbor and he had a minor disagreement which they couldn’t resolve amicably?  And what if he were a petty person who decided to take things in his own hands?  Well, he knows his neighbor’s name and address and it should prove no difficulty to pull up his social security number and, if his position allowed him, what if he decided to “retaliate” by having his neighbor’s returns audited?  Sounds unlikely, right?  Except that’s precisely what has happened to several individuals involved in Tea Party groups who applied for exemption with the IRS.

The best resolution to this question would be instituting a simple tax code that everyone could understand and with which compliance would be easy – thus eliminating a need for the IRS, or at the least a great reduction in both its size and the scope of its authority.  That’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

The second best option is to find out what really happened at the IRS and, if there is illegality and political profiling, make sure that those who were involved get incarcerated and take steps to make certain  that the agency gets the oversight so that they don’t pursue the same policies in the future.  I have only a moderate hope that happens.

The third best option, and probably the most likely one, is that the agency is truly so internally messed up that they are more than likely to leave us alone through sheer incompetence.  Based on the billions of dollars of bogus refunds IRS pays out, this seems to be the most likely case.

One can only wonder if anyone at the IRS including their commissioner has either a handle on the situation or, if he does, plans to reform the agency.  There doesn’t seem to be much evidence to point to that conclusion.  As for the rest of us, we can amuse ourselves with the classic Abbott and Costello routine and ask ourselves, when it comes to the IRS, “Who’s on first?”

WAS “SEINFELD” A CELEBRATION OF INTOLERANCE?

Jerry Seinfeld is a comedic genius.  The weekly sitcom bearing his name had a successful run for nine seasons – topping the Nielsen ratings in two of those.  From 1989 to 1998 Americans rushed home to catch their weekly dose of the comedy and catch up on the most current phrases of Seinlanguage that the show invented.  Rumor is afoot that there is going to be a reunion of some of the cast for a one time reprise of the show to be forthcoming soon.

The cast over those nine seasons was so large that Cecil B. DeMille would have been envious.  Many of those who were engaged for the show played only in one episode.  But I wanted to look at those actors and actresses who were featured in two or more episodes.  There were a total of 212 of them.

Now as late as the end of the show in 1998, being “out” as a gay man or lesbian woman was not much in vogue, although Ellen DeGeneres might have broken the ice in 1997.  But that openly gay people worked in the entertainment industry and that industry had no problems employing them because of their sexual orientation had most likely been going on since Hollywood rolled the cameras for the first time.

Estimates of the number of our population who are members of the LGBT community suggest that as many as ten percent of our population may be sexually oriented this way.  Although my feeling is that it’s neither of interest to me nor is it any of my business what a person’s sexual preference is, it seems that there are many gay people, now including at least one pro basketball player and one college football player, who feel that they need to announce their orientation to the world.  That is, of course, their choice.

For years the straight population made certain assumptions about gay men –deciding that  because of an effeminate demeanor a particular man was gay.  In many cases these assumptions proved to be correct.  Add to that certain professions in which these men engaged such as florist, interior designer or hairdresser and without further need for additional evidence, some people would quip, “Fritz is as queer as a three dollar bill,” or, “He’s a little light in the loafers.”   Perhaps the one industry that could have cared less was the arts.  That would include the movies, television, theatre, opera, ballet, and the symphony.

Returning to our cast of 212 multiple episode actors and actresses who played on “Seinfeld,” you can imagine my surprise that only two of those have “come out” and are openly gay or lesbian.  Considering the fact that the industry often attracts gay men and lesbian women if for no reason other than its acceptance of their lifestyle, this truly surprised me.  Naturally, in an age where any and everybody seeks out a niche where they can view themselves as a minority and thus are persecuted and demand justice, I did not expect that result from my research.  This, of course, lends itself to the question, “Was there anti-gay prejudice employed in the casting of the ‘Seinfeld’ show?”

There is an element of intolerance written into the sitcom.  Who can possibly forget “The Soup Nazi” who refused service to anyone whom he didn’t like?  I’m frankly surprised that the FCC hasn’t already looked into this – considering their recent decision (subsequently deferred) to investigate whether our news programs are “properly serving the public” in the eight categories of news that they believe are sufficiently important to be part of those stations’ agendas and regular broadcasts.

Governor Jan Brewer (R – AZ) currently has on her desk a bill that would allow the owners of a business to deny service to people with whom its owners chooses not to do business.  Proponents say that it merely defines an owner’s rights in the same way that, “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” does.  Gay activists make the claim that it is an open invitation for businesses to deny them access simply because they are gay.  I haven’t read the bill, but from the discussion that I have heard, both interpretations are possible.  So here’s a thought.

If I were an Arizona business owner I would simply disregard the fact that my clients are male or female, black, white, Hispanic or Asian, straight or gay and pretend that they were all – let me think – okay, they are all vampires.  Several television programs and a number of recent movies have been devoted to members of that group – and no one seems offended by them.  And I have yet to hear of a vampire filing a class action suit against anyone for discrimination.

I’m going to be sure to catch the Seinfeld reunion special when it airs.  I just hope it’s broadcast after the sun goes down.

‘TILL DEBT DO US PART

The wrangling, name calling and finger pointing continues apace in Washington with all parties blaming each other for everything that has gone wrong in human history since Eve tempted Adam with that non-GMO-modified apple.  It’s gotten even uglier than usual with people openly speaking out their venom in such terms as “terrorists,” “hood,” “thugs,” “radicals,” and, of course, everyone’s favorite term, “suicide bombers.”

As one might expect from his four and one half years as the Chump in Charge, Obama is leading the armies of name callers with his S. S. commandants rallying their respective platoons, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid filling in the gaps when vitriol from the White House abates as the Prez and his corps reload the tubs filled with boiling oil.

Yes, my fellow Americans, we are again at the precipice described as the “cliff over which there is no return,” or, more accurately, we are at the first of two as we prepare to catapult over the first cataract and into the second.

This sort of behavior would be unacceptable if it were being enacted by teenagers – and it is beyond comprehension when it is played out by those who are not only presumably adults but who are elected officials.

It’s somewhat difficult for me to understand how the Senate Majority Leader, Mr. Reid has the gall to excoriate the GOP for waiting until the last minute before we approach the September 30th deadline for having a budget (which the chamber he has led has failed to pass for three years) or to pass a Continuing Resolution that would allow government to continue to dysfunction.

My calendars, (I have two of them), both indicate the date of September 30th quite clearly as, I am sure, do the Majority Leader’s.  Given his concern that we might not reach a resolution in time, I cannot help but wonder, with his sense of urgency, why in the absence of a solution, Mr. Reid did not eschew his and his senate colleagues’ five weeks vacation and attend to the important business at hand.

It is somewhat difficult for me to understand how either Mr. Reid or his House counterpart, Nancy Pelosi are now so impassioned.  If you have ever had the misfortune of listening to either of them speak, perhaps, like me, you have been tempted to call EMS on their behalf to shock them into having a pulse.  They both exhibit about as much emotion as a clam on its way to being shucked.

But putting personal feelings aside, I suspect that, in some form or other, this drama will get resolved successfully by being put off a few days or weeks when the far more serious issue of the National Debt Limit must be dealt with before it is breached, according to Treasury Secretary Lew, on October 19th.

I wonder if Obama remembers how he excoriated George Bush, when he was running for election,  for being so wasteful by increasing our national debt.  When Bush left the White House, the “official” National Debt stood at $10.7 Trillion.  Candidate Obama vowed that “If he were unable to cut the debt in half by the end of his first term, he didn’t deserve a second one.”  Today, five years into his and his colleagues’ mismanagement, we are butting our heads against $17 Trillion.  We should have taken his 2007 campaign statement at face value.  There is little that he has said since which deserves that much regard.

Among the many fiscal problems is the granddaddy of them all, Obamacare.  As the numbers are now being released as to what it will actually cost for forced participation in this plan, it is evident that the name of the Affordable Care Act should be changed to the Unaffordable and Unworkable Care Act.  This first stab at socializing medicine will undoubtedly further accelerate our adding to the already burgeoning National Debt.

Like any good used car salesman who counters the prospective buyer’s observation that, “the tires seem pretty worn,” the Prez responds that having flatter tires makes for a softer ride.  That is pretty much the spin that recently came out of HHS Secretary Sibelius’ mouth when she spoke about how “pleased she was that the actual cost of insurance is going to be less than her department’s first estimates.”

The problem with that statement is that nobody pays from an estimate but from the actual bill.  And it is evident that for most Americans, particularly for those who are younger and healthier, most premiums will increase – and most coverage will decrease.  The one thing that I have yet to hear any official discuss is the actual cost (not just the premiums) of being insured.

Health, like auto insurance has two components.  Well, actually three.

The first is the actual cost of coverage – how much the policy owner pays in premiums.  That component is, in a rational marketplace determined by a number of factors, the most important of which is the amount of coverage that is selected.  Another important factor is your actual driving experience.  If you have had a substantial number of accidents or traffic citations, the insurance company is going to consider you a higher risk and charge a higher premium to cover you.

By forcing insurers to cover all people of the same age at the same rate, including those with serious pre-existing conditions and mandate they are as insurable as a healthy person, Obamacare effectively eliminates the basis of intelligent insurance underwriting.  Naturally, this will cause great losses for insurers and the only way they can make these up and still stay in business is to overcharge those (typically younger clients) higher premiums than they should be paying..

The second component which determines your premium is how much risk you are willing to accept and how much you want the insurance company to underwrite on your behalf.  A driver who selects a comprehensive deductible of one thousand dollars will have a lower rate than the driver of a similar vehicle who chooses a one hundred dollar deductible.  A higher deductible is a money saver for the careful driver who is not involved in accidents.

The same principle applies to health insurance – a point which is omitted from Sec. Sibelius’ statements on “premium cost.”  The department made the statement that a “bronze plan,” the most minimal one available under Obamacare, will “only cost a healthy, young male about one hundred dollars per month.”

What she fails to point out is that the person who owns this plan will be responsible for the first five thousand dollars of medical expenses out of pocket before the plan pay a single cent in benefits.  So a person who selects this coverage, should he encounter a medical situation, will effectively have paid over five hundred dollars a month before he receives a dime in benefits.  This is government “accounting” and lack of honesty at its finest.

But I referred to a third point – and, perhaps this is the most important one in the discussion.  Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion that Tinkerbell suddenly pays a visit to the United States and sprinkles pixie dust over all of us.  In a moment, we all decide to sign up for Obamacare and there is not a single uninsured American left in the country.  Who is going to service all these people?

We are seeing a decrease in the number of physicians and medical staff; we are seeing hospitals close or consolidate; and to this smaller group of providers we would see a massive increase in the number of patients.  How can the system possibly handle this?  The answer is, it can’t.  Not unless medical services are rationed.  That is precisely what has happened in every country that has socialized medical treatment.  That is why people like Sarah Palin call the bureaucracies that are being created, “Death panels.”

So what does Obamacare have to do with the debt ceiling?  Even its proponents admit that in the “first few years” it will add to the amount of debt.  But the “real cost savings” show up a few years down the road.  In other words, we’re going to sink deeper into debt but “later on” Obamacare is going to “more than pay for itself.”

Having yet to see a government program that actually worked the way it was sold to the American public, I have only one comment, brilliantly expressed by comedian Bill Cosby in his routine, “Noah”.  That word is, “Right.”

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WHAT WOULD GROUCHO SAY?

One of the shows that we always watched as a family was “You Bet Your Life” starring none other than Groucho Marx and his sidekick, George Fenneman.  This little quiz showed debuted on radio in 1947 and transitioned to television in 1950 – running until 1960.  (I only caught the later episodes if you’re wondering).

This quiz game which took a variety of incarnations during it’s 10 year television span allowed randomly selected members of the studio audience – normally one of each sex (in those days there were just two) – to compete by answering some questions of varying difficulty.  The game itself was, however, secondary to the amusing repartée that Groucho had with his contestants.

At the beginning of the show, before bringing on the contestants, Groucho would show the studio and television audience the “secret word” – worth one hundred dollars if the contestants happened to use it while they were on the show.

After Fenneman brought them onstage, Groucho would chit chat with each of them to find out about their background.  During this conversation, he held a large cigar in his right hand and waved it around.  The cigar never went out – perhaps because it wasn’t lit – and was more of a prop than anything else.  And at the conclusion of the interview, Groucho, before launching into the questions, would tell them, “Say the secret word, the duck will come down and you’ll win a hundred dollars.”  He would give them a general hint as to what the word was such as, “It’s something you find around the house.”

Now I know that if there are any young readers out there, I’m sure that you’re not impressed with a one hundred dollar prize.  In fact, the most a contestant could win was twelve hundred dollars plus the “secret word” bonus – and that was split two ways.  But to put it in perspective, in the ‘50’s when the show was extremely popular, one hundred dollars would cover more than a month’s rent in a nice area in Manhattan.

The show was broadcast live, as most TV programs were in the early days of the medium.  So what was said by the star was heard by the audience.  And that resulted in the abrupt cancellation of the program in 1960.  Like Paula Deen, Groucho said something that the TV station and the program’s sponsors considered “off color.”  No, wait a minute, I stand corrected.  Apparently Ms. Deen said something that was “on color.”

One of the guests on the final broadcast was a man (I honestly don’t recall his name so we’ll call him Tom Smith) who was from Canada.  Groucho first interviewed the female contestant and then turned his attention to Mr. Smith, asking him what he did for a living, that sort of thing.

Then Groucho asked, “So tell me Mr. Smith, do you have any children?”

The man smiled and looked down at his feet and grinned.

He said, “Yes, Groucho.  My wife and I have eleven children.”

Groucho paused for a moment, and then said, “Eleven children?  That’s a lot of kids.  Why do you have so many, Mr. Smith?”

The Canadian responded, “Well, Groucho – I guess it’s because I love my wife.”

The live audience laughed at this response.

Groucho took a dramatic pause, removed the cigar from his mouth and stared at it for a few seconds before responding, “Mr. Smith, I love my cigar too but I take it out sometimes.”

End of show – cancelled – final episode.

Last night I was, as usual, up late, trying to put some ideas together and they just weren’t co-operating.  So I decided to stop trying to force it and take a break.  And there’s nothing less challenging mentally than watching a little television.

So I turned on the set on my office desk and a show called, “The King of Queens” was being aired.  Actually, I thought it was a new show and I wondered why they were showing it at midnight.  Not much of an audience us night owls.  So I googled it (I refuse to use a capital G for google – so I’ve had to add “small ‘g’ google”  to my spell check’s vocabulary) and found the show had run for ten years – though from the ten minute snippet that I saw I couldn’t imagine why.

Well the point here is not the show – rather it was one of the ads.  Here I am, trying to relax and what do they have on but a provocative ad (I could be wrong as I was in a mild state of shock) but I think the advertiser was Durex.  Depicted in this ad was a mostly unclad couple, cavorting and rolling around in bed while the sexy female-voiced announcer touted the company’s “condoms, lubricants, massage gels and so much more – available everywhere.”

I turned off the TV, passing on watching the remaining portion of “The King of Queens” episode, and went to bed.  And as I lay there getting ready to head off to slumber land I couldn’t help wondering, if he were alive and caught that ad, “What would Groucho say?”

THE REPORT OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE MEETING ON S.H.I.T.

“The Chair recognizes Senator Fogbottom.”

“Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee and Honored Guests.”

“Today I am pleased to report on the exceptional progress that we have made in implementing the ‘Sub-dermal High Intensity Transformer and Behavior Modification Device’ program, commonly referred to as “S. H. I. T.”

“In the five years since we began implanting these devices in Americans, not only have we been able to employ 287,450 loyal progressives in the “Department of S. H. I. T.,” but we have monitored over 969,866,437,012,554,000,000,000,000,000 thoughts that the recipients of these devices have ideated.”

“Furthermore, we have zapped over 189,364,881 Americans who, at one time or another after installation of the device had a racist thought, a sexist thought, a homophobic thought, an anti-Islamic thought or an anti-government thought, to cite only a few of the 399 unacceptable areas of thought that your government monitors.  This program deserves to be viewed as an incredible success.”

“There is no question that the number of offensive slurs that have been uttered since the S. H. I. T. program was started have been reduced dramatically.  With the absence of news media coverage of these offensive infractions, that has given this country a greatly expanded amount of time in which they may devote themselves to viewing the 587 new Reality TV shows that have been created.”

“Furthermore, with the program’s built-in self destruct program, after the twenty-fifth offensive thought, as you know, the owner receives a lethal dose of voltage that destroys his or her brain and terminates him.  This has proven to be an exceptional boon in two regards.  We have finally figured out a way to reduce the number of unemployed people and the funeral industry is seeing the greatest boom in its history.  I need not even mention to you how this also has had a beneficial impact on ‘Global Warming.’”

“As with any program, there are always a few minor glitches.  But I assure you that the good that the program generates far outweigh these.  Nevertheless, I am here today not only to offer my report but to offer a bill which will alleviate one of the most major negative consequences of the S. H. I. T. program.”

“You see, with the extreme reduction in the number of complaints of ‘hateful statements’ and the consequent reduction in the number of law suits being filed, it appears that our attorney population is having a tough time making ends meet.  And so I am proposing today that we establish a new Department – the “Department of Comprehensive Retraining for Attorney Professionals” which will be more familiarly known as ‘C. R. A.P.’”

“As you know, many attorneys when not occupied chasing ambulances, join their colleague judges on the golf course.  So this provides a very natural and easy transition for them into the world of golf course maintenance.  They already know the terrain – so now all they have to do is be trained in how to work productively – for some of them for the first time in their lives.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, by introducing C. R. A. P. into the S. H. I. T. program, we will have done the greatest service since what’s his name led that Revolution thing a few hundred years ago.  We will truly have made America safe for our visionary form of democracy.  I S. H. I. T. you not – that’s no C. R. A. P.”

“Thank you for your kind attention.  I look forward to your comments and questions.”

MEAN, OBSCENE, PAULA DEEN

As Jesus was writing in the sand, the Pharisees brought to him a woman, taken in the act of committing adultery.  They told him of her sin and asked, “Should we not follow the law given us by the prophets and stone her to death?” 

Without looking up, Jesus replied, “Let he who among you is without sin cast the first stone.”

At that point, a rock went flying over Jesus’ head and hit the woman squarely in the stomach, knocking her over backwards.

Jesus looked up and said, “Oh really, mother.”

Pardon the minor irreverence, but that joke if you are a follower of either the teachings of the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches is theologically correct.  Mary, is unique in being conceived without sin (The Immaculate Conception) – but as for the rest of us, we’re all in the cesspool of sin and wickedness and moral turpitude – some of us more deeply, perhaps than others.

And now cometh Ms. Paula Deen – the press’ most currently in vogue whipping person (I was going to say girl but that would probably be construed as sexist).  A woman who is so low and venal that she can’t even see high enough to look at the scum of the earth.

Ms. Deen, as you’re probably aware, has had a successful career promoting her Southern style of cooking – which if it were Yiddish food could easily be mistaken for the kind of cuisine that killed more Jews than Hitler.  She’s had a good run promoting her artery clogging recipes (which have gotten  a bit more healthful in later years).  It was not for the bill of fare that she presented that I was not a frequent viewer of her program.  It was because of her very heavy twang that always reminded me of two cats on the back fence in heat.  Sorry, fingernails running across a blackboard sounds more melodious to me.

Well, at some time in Ms. Deen’s past, apparently she uttered the “N” (or is it the “n”) word?  She is, after all from the South where the term was frequently used – often in a descriptive rather than a disparaging way.  But there is no question that it was also used frequently in the latter context.  How Ms. Deen used it is probably only known to Ms. Deen.

And so, whether because of sincere remorse at having used the “n” word in the past or, perhaps for fear of losing her lucrative financial enterprise through backlash, she broadcast what appeared to me to be a very heartfelt apology.  It seemed genuine enough to this viewer – but even if it were not, I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Apparently, those at FNN, which hosted her television program and those at Target who carried her line of cookware and cookbooks had greater insight because they have both divorced themselves from any further dealings with this woman and have held themselves up as gleaming examples of “responsible corporate citizenship.”

I cannot help but think of their actions in the same light as I did of Captain Louis Renault in “Casablanca” who, as he is closing down Rick’s Café says, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that there’s gambling going on here,” as he receives his roulette winnings from the croupier.

Let’s make a leap and say that Ms. Deen and her video were staged and melodramatized simply to keep her business enterprise afloat and that Ms. Deen truly holds feelings of disdain for our darkly-complected citizens.  While I, and I am sure most of you who are reading this would find that unfortunate if not personally insulting, does she not have a right to harbor that attitude?  Isn’t difference of opinion – even if it is only one person’s view and no matter how noxious we personally might find it – permitted in what we have billed as an “inclusive society?”  Or is inclusion so narrowly interpreted that only those who hold the currently popular view may determine who is to be allowed membership and who excluded?

Perhaps you are familiar with the “comedy” of the late Redd Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock.  Frankly, I find all of them to be extremely offensive because each employs the “n” word along with “ho” and “mo fo” and “b*tch” among other terms of endearment.  And they are restrained by comparison to today’s Rap “artists”.

So tomorrow I am going down to my neighborhood Target and browse through their CD’s to see if they have pulled all of the works containing these “lyrics” in accordance with their defined policy of corporate “responsibility.”  And if not, I am going to ask the Manager why not?

I’ll let you know what I find out.  But if I am not satisfied with their response, I will no longer choose to do business with Target and will explain to my neighbors why they shouldn’t either.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

LIGHTS OUT

As we have survived the purported Mayan Apocalypse, seen yet another seasonal “Holiday” on December 25th and wandered our way into a New Year, I am sure that many of us hope for a better 2013 than what we saw in its predecessor.  I certainly find it difficult to imagine how it might be worse.  And then the light bulb in my head went on.  But, actually, the CFL light bulb in one of the lamps in the family room went out.

Although I began replacing the old incandescent bulbs in my home a few years ago with CFL’s, my cost analysis of their economic efficiency versus those old bulbs with which we all grew up, left me wondering if the reduction in energy consumption and the bulbs’ purported seven year life would ever overcome the original cost of the bulbs.  It was a close call if I factored in about a ten percent yearly increase in the cost my electric company charged for letting light shine in my home.

But, of course, there was also the worthwhile goal, on which I couldn’t place a dollar figure, of reducing my “environmental imprint” on planet Earth.  The bulbs are reputed to draw less electrical consumption thus reducing our demand for fossil fuel.

Now when I made my original purchase of these bulbs a few years back, I remember standing in Lowe’s and saying to myself, “How do they know these things are going to last for seven years when they’ve only been on the market for three years?”  I got the answer two years later.  They don’t.  Of course, this threw my total economic analysis on the “value” of these bulbs right out the window.

I also remember thinking, as I pondered my original purchase, “How is using something that contains mercury something that is good for the environment?”  We know that mercury is one of the most toxic substances to which animal and plant life can be exposed.  That’s why the old mercury thermometers with which we were diagnosed as children now exist only as an exhibit at The Smithsonian.  And that’s why The Mad Hatter was “mad” as in his occupation he was constantly exposed to mercury.

Notwithstanding these reservations, I did purchase a supply of CFL’s and as my incandescent bulbs went to bulb heaven I began replacing them.  Yesterday, one of these valiant soldiers of the advance army of technology lost it’s life and I started to replace it.

Fortunately, I had recently read a post on the wonderful blog Two Heads Are Better Than One which can be accessed at http://thabto.wordpress.com/  in which Mark Steyn explained the process of clearing up one of these contraptions in the event that it broke in the process of removal and disposal.   I present that here in case you are in need of similar guidance in this area.

Armed with the knowledge provided in the video, I prepared the area near the CFL containing lamp by stripping two beds of their pillows and placing them underneath the lamp.  I washed my hands thoroughly with lava containing soap to make sure than any slippery substance which might have adhered was now history.  I dried my hands thoroughly and shooed Gracie out the back door into the yard just to be certain that, despite my precautions, should a mishap occur in this process, she would not be exposed to mercury poisoning.  And with the deft hands of a skilled surgeon, I unscrewed the now deceased warrior of a better way of life and removed it from the fixture.  The operation went well and was concluded without incident.

I am jubilant to report that I also made my own contribution to advancing the cause of mankind.  I happened to find in my light bulb “stash” one of those old, warm incandescent bulbs which had snuggled its way into a corner and which I had overlooked.  I replaced the CFL with it, returning to the older, simpler way of doing things.  I think the reason the CFL’s draw less electricity is obvious.  They throw less light than their ancient counterparts.

When I drive over to Lowe’s the next time so that I can properly recycle my mercury-containing CFL bulb, I think I’m going to load up on a supply of the oldies but goodies before they become illegal later this year.  Who knows, a black market for these bulbs might develop and I may stand to make a small fortune.  Or at the least, I should check out whether I can find an incandescent light bulb manufacturer in China – which may indeed become the provider of light in this Brave New World.

GOOD NEWS FOR SENIORS

If you don’t like pizza – well, you’re just un-American.  I’m a good and loyal American so it goes without saying that I not only like, I LOVE pizza.  Hot, cold, thin or thick crust – other than throwing pineapple and ham on it (or peanut butter), it’s almost impossible to ruin this all-American favorite.  (We did invent it didn’t we?)

Well if you’re thinking that under our ever-beneficent radical socialist leaders in Washington, seniors are going to be able to get all the pizza they can eat, I’m sorry to report that you’re wrong.  (At least for the moment – but who knows?)  No, I’m referring to new job opportunities which those who rely on walkers to perambulate may soon have available to them.

You see, there’s this law that passed called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a/k/a/ Obamacare).  And a mighty law it is indeed – as we’re only beginning to discover.  Fortunately, it doesn’t fully kick in for another year so that allows us time to think and pine and fret over its implications as they begin to further unfold.  But there are a few things about it which we do know.

(This includes those Democrats including my own former Congresswoman Shelley Berkley who recently failed to advance her career to the United States Senate and is now out of politics.  The good Congresswoman followed leader Pelosi’s advice and voted to pass the bill without bothering to read it.  Details, details.)  And, by the way there are a lot of details.

One of the details that we do know is that employers will be required to provide health insurance for all employees who earn less than $15 per hour.  If they fail to do so they will be subject to a fine of $2000 per employee.  But the cost of the insurance is likely to be at least five times as expensive as the fine.  So, in essence, the reasonable employer will make the choice between spending $2000 per year or $10,000 per year – and which number do you think she will select?

But, wait – there’s a way around this.  You see this only applies to those employees who are considered “full time” employees – that is to say that they work (or at least show up) for 30 hours or more a week.  (Whatever happened to the 40 hour work week?  I guess I owe myself a lot of back pay at an overtime rate!)

So, as an alternative, an employer can cut back on her full-time staff, reducing them to part-time status and thus skirt this provision of Obamacare.  Apparently when our esteemed Congress passed this bill and the President signed it into law, they overlooked this eventuality and the consequent reduction in income and standard of living that those whom the law is intended to benefit will undergo.  I guess it’s just another example of unintended consequences.

But in my musings, I have arrived at a solution which I would like to share with all those small business owners (and little pizzerias that I love to frequent).

HIRE THE ELEDERLY

You see, if we merely raid the retirement homes to find the able-bodied among our senior citizens, we can recruit them to work in our stores and businesses and avoid this provision of Obamacare since they already have insurance, Medicare.

And this works out well for our seniors.  Not only will it provide them with additional income that they need to compensate for the rising prices of food and gas (the kind you put in your vehicle) which are far outstripping the increase in their Social Security benefits but, since their doctors are now becoming veterinarians, there’s no need for them to worry about missing their appointments – since there won’t be any.

And this works out for the pizza-eating public as well.  I mean really, would you rather see some acne-pimpled teenager tossing the dough for your pizza, or some lovely silver-haired lady who reminds you of your grandmother?

“I’m here to pick up my extra large pepperoni, mushroom, green pepper and onion pizza, Grams.  Oh, wait.  Don’t strain yourself.  Let me help you lift that.”

COMMON GROUND

Every so often a thought occurs to me that, well modesty prevents me from calling it “brilliant”, but which I believe could fairly be categorized as “insightful”.  Just such an experience occurred the other day – and I’ve been mulling it around so that I could entertain you with it in this post.

I am disturbed that so much of the focus of this election seems to be centered around the skin color of the two candidates for President.  There is no doubt that many people who are black will vote for Obama for that reason alone.  It is equally true that there are people who are white who will not vote for him because he is a black man.  While I consider people in either camp to be racial bigots, their bigotry is not the common ground which is the subject for this post.

I make no qualms about the fact that one of the few gifts that I possess is a keen ability to do math and calculations.  It may be one of my few redeeming qualities.  And so I started to look at the President and his genetic background from the standpoint of pure mathematics.

Now the nice thing about math, unlike political races, is that it is one of those absolute sciences on which we can rely for truth.  In our base ten math system, the correct answer to 2 x 2 will be 4 whether you are an American, a Chinese, a resident of Mali or a charter member of Al Qaeda.  I hope we are all in agreement so far.  I’m further hoping that even recent graduates of our public school systems have mastered this basic bit of multiplication.

But then we turn to the more difficult and challenging question of percentages.  (Please don’t hit the “X” button at the top of the page quite yet because I know even those who struggled with fractions will find this easy).

Moving right along, it is the consensus of belief and without dispute even from Donald Trump that President Obama’s father was a black citizen of Kenya and his mother was a white citizen of the United States.  That would make the President 50% black and 50% white.  Are you with me so far?  After all, this is just really, really basic math.

My question – and I would love to hear from anyone who can explain this to me – is why is it that we consider President Obama to be a “black” man rather than a “white” man since he has equal parts of his genetic material from each of his parents?  Are we saying (much to the consternation of women everywhere) that the male’s sperm contributes more than just its fair share to the fertilization process than does the female’s ovum?  If we make that argument it’s a good thing that Betty Friedan has passed on as it would undoubtedly require her to write yet another book.

And so we find our basis for the common ground between your run-of-the-mill-black bigot who will vote for the President because he is black and your run-of-the-mill white member of the Aryan Nation who will not vote for him because he is black.  We have found a point on which these two groups are in agreement, that the President is a black man.

I hope that members of both extremes will have the opportunity to read this post.  I am certain that knowing that they have found some commonality will allow them to sleep comfortably – although the realization of their agreeing on anything may cause them to endure a horrible nightmare.

As for me, I am going to take the alternate position and, supported by the mathematical analysis I provided, I am going to insist that President Obama is indeed a “white man”.  This simplifies my life and my voting decision since I no longer have even to consider the matter of race as a potential issue.  Hopefully, this might simplify your life too.

So what it all comes down to for me is the President’s track record and the campaign promises on which we relied in 2008.  One of those statements in particular keeps ringing through my mind.  That was, “If I can’t cut the deficit in half in my first four years, I would not deserve to be re-elected.”  Rather than a fifty percent reduction we’ve seen a sixty percent increase.

Relying on the President’s own words, I’m compelled to vote for “the other White Meat”.

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