The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

THE CLINTON AUTOPSY

Just when you thought (or at least hoped) that the reason or reasons for Hillary Clinton’s loss were fully understood, now comes the candidate to revitalize the conversation all over again.  My view of this subject is perfectly represented in Mrs. Clinton’s statement before the committee investigating Benghazi, “What difference at this point does it make?”  Apparently, there are people who do not share my opinion.

After the Clintons left office, a joke began circulating which might be the most logical explanation of all.

President Clinton was walking barefoot on a tropical beach when he stubbed his toe on something buried in the sand.  Out of curiosity, he dug up the object which resembled one of those lamps that Aladdin found.  Just for grins, he rubbed the lamp and was shocked to find a genie emerge from it.

Clinton was all smiles.  He said, “This is great.  Now I get to make three wishes – and you have to grant all of them.”

The genie responded, “Well, Mr. President – there’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that I will grant your wish – but you only get one.  You see, we’ve unionized and that’s the way it is under our current contract.”

A bit disappointed, Clinton thought to himself, “Well, one wish is better than none.”  And he began to think what that should be.

One of the legacy items that was most important to Clinton was his effort to negotiate a lasting peace deal in the Middle East.  Those efforts had gone unrewarded.

So he said to the genie, “I wish peace for all the people of the Middle East.”

The genie removed his turban and scratched the few wisps of hair on his head.  He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a very old and fragile map and said to Clinton, “Look here.  This is a map of the region going back three thousand years.  Notice how many enemies the Jews had.  There were the Ishmaelites, the Moabites, the Hagarites not to mention the Egyptians.  To be honest, I don’t think even the president of our union could fix this mess.  But since I was unable to grant that wish I am giving you a different wish and the map as a souvenir.”

Clinton accepted the map and thought for a moment.  He said, “Well, could you make it so that people like my wife Hillary?”

The genie paused for a moment and responded, “Let me see that map again.”

How many autopsies do we need to perform to conclude that the beast is dead?

 

 

 

 

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HOW MUCH DO TWO POUNDS WEIGH?

Moving into my first apartment was a great thrill for me.  Finally, life in a college dormitory was at a merciful end.  No more waking up at three in the morning because a fellow student was inebriated and decided that it would be fun to pull the fire alarms that appeared in several places on each floor.  Of course, as exciting as this all was, there was a daunting challenge ahead.  Furnishing this new space.

Fortunately, as the organist at the local Roman Catholic church, I had connections.  A number of the parishioners were kind enough to lend or give me some of their old furniture until I could afford to upgrade.  One of these gifts was a double bed frame which came without either box spring or mattress.  So I bought a futon and laid it on the bare frame.  This proved moderately uncomfortable so I soon placed the futon on the floor where it belonged anyway.  But I did make the decision to buy several pillows, slip covers and pillow cases – leaving the purchase of sheets for a later date.

I returned home with my bulky pillow purchase, removed the contents from the large bags in which the store had placed them and began putting the slipcovers on the pillows when I made a discovery.  On both of the standard size pillows there was a tag which had been machine sewed into the welting.  The tag contained information on the content of the pillow, the content of the ticking, the place of manufacture (this was the early 70’s so it naturally said, “Made in the USA”), and then followed an ominous warning which read:  “DO NOT REMOVE THIS TAG UNDER PENALTY OF LAW”.

Reading this warning naturally caused me to wonder what law I would be breaking should I choose to disregard the warning and what was it intended to prevent from happening?  For the life of me, the only logical danger I could see might be that if I were not careful cutting it from the pillow I might accidentally incise into the pillow and expose the duck feathers that were inside.  Well, I decided not to chance bringing about the apocalypse so I slipped the pillow cover over the pillow and then put them into the cases, artfully arranging them on the futon.  Then I stood back and viewed my handiwork, looking forward to a comfortable night’s sleep.

Well, I did get a good night’s sleep that night and for the next several weeks.  But after not too long a while I found that those little tags were getting bunched up from the pressure of my head and were ratting up into annoying little wads.  So I made the major decision to get out my best scissors and eliminate them.  But I took precautions.

I still had not been able to afford window coverings in the living room so I decided that removing the tags there would merely invite government intrusion into my illicit operation.  We were all a little paranoid back then, thinking that the government was spying on us.  Little did we know what the 21st century would bring in that regard.  I retreated to my bedroom, excluded my Irish Setter, Finney from the room as I did not want him to be implicated should this matter ever come to trial.  And I lit a housewarming candle which was dedicated to St. Bonaventure and had been given to me by the parishioner who had donated the somewhat delapidated couch which was the focal (and only) seating in the living room.

I gave the candle a moment for the wick to burn down to the wax and searched my memory to recall what St. Bonaventure was the patron saint of – pardon the grammar. I wasn’t sure which saint was responsible for interceding for those of us who broke laws here on earth – but I was sure that St. Bonaventure would know the correct department to which he would forward my case.

With the skill and adeptness of a brain surgeon, I cut the tag from the first pillow.  I held the wadded up label in my left hand and looked around the room to see if there might suddenly be a water leak or any cracks in the ceiling, caused by my defiance of the regulations prohibiting what I had just done.  I breathed a sigh of relief, quickly grabbed the second pillow and dispatched the other label in the same way.  Still, no signs of structural damage to the apartment and no seismic shaking.

I quickly cut the two labels into a myriad of pieces and flushed them down the toilet in four separate batches over several days so that whoever was in charge of  investigating the removal of labels from pillows would find it difficult to trace this crime back to me.  I also put a portion of the two labels in two separate kitchen garbage bags so that even if the remainder of the labels were retrieved from the sanitation system and pieced back together, a portion of each label would be missing.  I was fairly comfortable that I had covered my tracks and was about to blow out my St. Bonaventure candle when suddenly it hit me.  My fingerprints were all over those two labels.  So I decided to make a novena to St. Bonaventure over the following eight days and I hoped that would save me from arrest.

Well, I ended my novena, much to my relief no one came knocking at my door nor was there any police tape indicating that my apartment was a crime scene.  But it was a full two months after my deed before I began to breathe a complete sigh of relief.  I had gotten away with it.  These days I think of this as my Hillary Clinton moment – but, of course, on a much smaller scale.

Being a curious sort, once my angst had abated, I thought about why this pillow regulation existed in the first place.  That seems like a rational question, don’t you think?  I mean, if there is a rule or a law, it should have some basis in common sense.  When I was in school it was forbidden for us students to run on the stairways.  The faculty explained that doing so could result in a student’s tripping and injuring her or himself. That made sense.  But the only thing that I could see as a result of the “Do Not Remove” tag was that it caused me, and I presume others, to have less than a restful sleep.

It took half a century for me finally to come up with the answer to that question.  These regulations are not intended for the most intelligent of our citizens but for our least bright.  And as sad as that admission may be, I do believe it is the truth.  Had I questioned that hypothesis before, it was completely confirmed by a shopping trip to Target a few days ago.

I had intended to order some Pupperoni for my companion dog, Gracie on the internet.  However, I received a new debit card from my bank and within a week it was already frozen because it had been “compromised.”  So much for the latest and greatest in technology.  As a result, I was low on this favorite treat of hers and I decided to go to Target to replenish our stock until I got my replacement card.  I would bite the bullet and pay a little more than I would have to spend from an internet provider.

Much to my surprise, Target was running a sale on Pupperoni.  The two pound price was reduced from $13.99 to $9.99.  And, by buying two packages, Target was offering a $5.00 gift card on a future purchase.  As I browsed through the numerous flavors that were available I noticed that the product was also offered in a 25 oz. size at the same $9.99 price – except that there was no gift card offer on the smaller size.  I wondered, why would anyone purchase the smaller sized product?  It wasn’t long until I had my answer.

As I was surveying the shelf, a woman I put in her middle thirties came up to the dog treat aisle with a rather full shopping cart.  She walked up to the Pupperoni area and grabbed a 25 oz. bag of the product.  Being the helpful person I try to be, I pointed out that if she purchased two of the two pound product, she would pay the same price as for her smaller package and get the $5.00 gift card as well.  Her response surprised me.

She asked, “How much does two pounds weigh?”

Fortunately, my right knee was paining me fiercely and my long journey through Target to the second to last aisle in the store where dog treats were housed did nothing to ameliorate that.  Otherwise, I would have impishly responded, “Well, it depends.  As you know, feathers weigh less than lead – so it sort of depends.”  But instead, I recovered from the stupidity of the statement to respond, “Two pounds.”

She then followed up with another question which also surprised me, “How many ounces are there in two pounds?”

Forgive me but if you’re over forty years old you probably knew the answer to that question when you were in second or third grade.  Maybe fourth – I’ve forgotten.  Nevertheless, I took a deep breath and answered, “Thirty two.”

Fortunately, mankind is blessed with having five senses, one of which is feeling.  A reasonable person doesn’t even need to know the answer to this shopper’s question.  One could pick up both similarly priced products and determine which is the heavier and therefore the better value.  I felt as though I were on an episode of Watter’s World on the O’Reilly Factor.  You probably know the segment where Jesse Watters interviews people who are so thoughtful that they think that George Hamilton is the president on the one dollar bill.

Despite the pain I was feeling in my knee, I couldn’t leave this alone.  Call it a weakness on my part.  So I followed up with the statement, “You know, you look like the kind of person who is probably voting for the same person as I am for president and that’s the reason I wanted to point out the better value so you could save some money.

This woman responded, “Oh, you’re voting for Hillary too?”

I answered her, “How could you think anything else?”

So she picked up her 25 oz. package of Pupperoni, put it in her cart, and wished me a good day.  I remember shaking my head, picking up my product and leaving the store after I had gone through the self-checkout and getting my gift card.

And so the lesson to be learned here is an old aphorism.

“There’s no fixing dumb.”

“Deus in adjutorium meum intende.”

WHAT’S IN A LETTER?

If you thought from the song that this post was going to be about music, the lost art of letter writing or the post office I’m sorry to disillusion you.  I just happen to like the song, haven’t heard it in years and when it suddenly came to mind it provided the inspiration for what is to follow.  Today we’re going to talk about letters – those little funny symbols which are the building blocks of our language and which you are currently reading.  I know that all those who stop by here can read since I seldom include pictures in these posts.

But let’s get down to business.

One day I was perfectly happy, sitting at home when my parents announced that I was going to be going to something called school.  Heck, I was barely potty trained and still had to make occasional mad rushes to the bathroom hoping that I could loosen my belt in time.  I’m pleased to report that I was successful at this endeavor – usually.

Anyway, my parents explained that school was a place where you learned things and met new friends.  Sounded good to me.  So I went.

Well, sure as the sun rises in the east, I found myself in school with a bunch of kids I had never seen before and a lady who introduced herself as Mrs. Scott.  She was going to be our teacher for the entire school year.  She seemed very grandmotherly with her beautifully coiffed grey hair, but at this point my greatest concern was knowing where the bathroom was – because of those occasional accidents, don’t you know?

As luck would have it, our classroom was as far from the bathroom on our floor as it possibly could be.  So I planned on making sure that if even the slightest urges started to overtake me, I would ask for permission to go and if I had to sit on the potty for a half hour before something happened, at least I would avoid the ignominy of messing myself.

Anyway, we were all assigned to a particular desk which stood on a metal base to which both the desk and our seat were attached and which had a wooden top that opened so that we had a place within the desk to keep our school supplies.  Those consisted of a pad of very yellow lined paper that felt coarse to the touch and had chunks of wood pulp stuck in it and a couple of the biggest pencils that you had ever seen – or at least the biggest that I had ever seen.  I mean seriously, they were so large that when I found out that I was supposed to make marks on the yellow paper with them, I had to hoist the end with the eraser so that it rested on my shoulder in order to maneuver it.  Well, I was a small kid.

Of course, it never occurred to me that there were no warning labels on the pencils that we should not eat them as it might result in lead poisoning.  In fact, in those days, I’m not sure if we had warning labels on anything – and somehow most of us made it through.  But as I later found out, there was probably no reason for such a notification as most of the kids who got lead poisoning did so by eating the paint from the walls of their apartments.

Above our blackboard were individual pieces of  heavy paper on which were written something I found out were called letters.  They came in two versions – big and not so big.  Learning these was one of our first orders of business – and Mrs. Scott led us in the familiar jingle that begins, “A, B, C, D, E, F, G …” – well if you’re over forty you know the rest and I won’t bore you with it.  If you’re under forty you can google it.  Mrs. Scott always began our recitation with the letter “A”.  We were a very conservative school.  It never crossed my mind that doing so somehow diminished the value of L,G B T or Q by making them take a back seat, not to mention the other twenty letters.

But as I’ve learned that we must be sensitive to and respectful of all things (letters being a sub-set of all things), I’ve written to my school and suggested that they have an annual random drawing to determine which letter should be first, which second, etc. during that particular school year.  That way every letter has an equal opportunity to shine.  I have a set of missives going out to the publishers of dictionaries with the suggestion that they list words in their books in the same way.

Anyway, to get back to our subject, I learned that when you put certain letters together in a certain order they could form something called words.  Of course, if you just combined them willy-nilly you might accidentally get words but were more likely to get gobbledygook.  As I mentioned earlier we were a very conservative school so at age five they weren’t teaching us sex education – or even that there was a sexual tension that existed between letters.  That’s something that I had to figure out on my own.  And for those of you who have missed it, this is your lucky day.

Take the letters “K” and “R”.  They sometimes have a very intimate, nuzzling relationship standing strong together against the world.  But they also have a sort of Dominator/Submissive relationship as well.  Fortunately, they have found a way to work out their relationship without having to resort to a court of law and both of them share the opportunity to be in a position of control.

Think about it.  “K” and “R” can be together in that order to start a word, “Kruller” comes to mind.  But they cannot end a word in that same order.  On the other hand, “R” and “K” can end a word in that order, as in “Landmark” but can never begin a word in that position.  What a perfect example of harmony and mutual respect.

Mrs. Scott informed us that some of the letters were called “Vowels” and others were called “Consonants”.  There were five vowels and twenty-one consonants – except that “Y” sometimes was a vowel and sometimes was a consonant.  I guess in today’s parlance one could say that “Y” was a transgendered letter depending on its mood.  This would have been useful information because if I had known about all this I would certainly have done a thorough investigation of any “Y’s” I brought along with me as I sat straining on the potty for a half hour.

Now there are some letters which are so strong and powerful that their mere presence at the beginning of a word makes that word so sacrosanct that we cannot even speak its full name but call if by its first letter.  The “N” word, the “F” word and the “B” word are examples.  This, of course, is a recent improvement to the language brought about through the creation of “emojis” which came into being so that people with limited vocabularies could communicate with other people with limited vocabularies and do so by using a total stranger’s idea of how they should convey their feelings.

This movement towards condensation has been going on for some time.  It’s at least a half century that we began referring to more and more things by acronyms or initials although there seems to have been a geometric increase in the numbers of such things which occur in our speech.  Perhaps that’s a function of convenience although my personal belief is that trend has been far more influenced by the lack of ability on the part of much of our population to spell words correctly.  To them, should the publishers of dictionaries follow my suggestion, it will make very little difference.

So what does all this have to do with the 2016 election.  (If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you knew we would get to that).

Most of us are aware of the rise of a radical, hateful and otherwise despicable group of people who have called themselves by three separate sets of letters during their brief existence:  IS, ISIL, ISIS.  Those translate into “Islamic State”; “Islamic State in the Levant”; “Islamic State in Syria.”

Republicans regularly refer to their version of dismembering and murdering people as “Radical Islamic extremism”.  Democrats including President Obama and front runner candidate Ms. Hillary Clinton refer to them merely as “Radical extremists”.  The Democrats argue that by using the word “Islamic” to describe these bastards we somehow will be offending the vast majority of Muslims who are as horrified as the rest of the world at their activities.  But wait a minute Madam Secretary Dunderbutt.

How can you possibly offend (not that we should really be too concerned for that as the basis for establishing a policy on how to combat these people) when they describe themselves using the very word you seek to avoid using at all costs?

Well, it’s late, I’m tired and I think I’ve pretty much exhausted my entire knowledge of letters.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll attack numbers.  But then again, maybe not.  Check back to see what’s in store.  And remember on this blog, “What you see is what you get.”

That’s probably why I’ve never considered running for public office.

HILLARY AND THE THREE PRESIDENTIAL SPIRITS

With her poll numbers sagging, the server scandal getting deeper and deeper and the possibility of Joe Biden getting in the race, Hillary Clinton was beginning to wonder whether her ultimate ascension to the presidency was indeed guaranteed. She returned home from a lackluster and poorly attended campaign stop and had difficulty sleeping.

At midnight she awoke sensing there was someone else in the room.  When she saw the spirit of George Washington she abruptly sat up in bed.

She hoped that this was a sign that the spirit world was looking on her candidacy favorably.  And she really wanted to ask him how she could win both the nomination and the general election.  But, for a fleeting moment, some sense of conscience overtook her and, not wanting to sound self-serving, she thought for a moment how to ask the first president a question that would sound diplomatic rather than political.

“President Washington, what is the best thing I can do for the country?”

Washington quickly responded, “Never tell a lie.”  And then his spirit disappeared.

Hillary thought to herself, “Hm, that’s going to be tough.”

But she lay back down and tossed and turned through the balance of the night considering how or whether she would comply with Washington’s advice.

The next day a new poll came out and Hillary’s popularity among women had fallen further.  She was truly getting upset as she could see her life’s dream slipping away.  So she fell into a troubled sleep until midnight when she again sensed a presence in her room.  By her bed stood the spirit of Thomas Jefferson.

Hillary repeated the question of the previous night.  “President Jefferson, what is the best thing I can do for the country?”

Jefferson quickly answered, “Listen to the people and do what they tell you.”  And his spirit immediately vanished.

Hilary thought to herself, “Yeah, right.  Like those fools know anything.”

The following day Hillary received a letter from the FBI for further information regarding her private server.  This darn crisis was getting deeper and yet more troubling.  She fretted over this all day and finally went to bed.  For the third time at midnight another spirit came to her bedside.  This time it was Abraham Lincoln.

Again she asked, “President Lincoln, what is the best thing I can do for the country?”

Lincoln smiled and answered, “Go to the theater.”

And the moral of the story is, “Hope springs eternal …”.

THE SWOOSH LAW

The other day I was thinking about our law-making process and for some reason Moses popped into my head.  I’m sure that the prophet had no idea how grateful he should have been that God knew what he wanted to convey to mankind and was able to do so quite succinctly.  What would Moses have had to endure had the Creator crafted his commandments to the children of Israel in the same way as our modern legislators promulgate new laws?

There’s Moses, curious to find the source of the bright light on the top of Mount Sinai.  He experiences his encounter with the Lord and obeys God’s order to bring his commandments to his people.  So Moses takes the tablets, “written with the finger of God” and goes down the mountain to deliver them to the Israelites.  And he goes back to retrieve more … and more … and more.

After the forty-third trip his brother Aaron says, “Is that it?”

Moses, wearied from all the trudging and schlepping he’s done, wipes his brow and says, “Well, actually, there are nine more.”

Perhaps the reason that those who pass voluminous laws that no one really understands, themselves included, can be attributed to the way we were taught to do things in High School.  Maybe, like me, you had an English or history teacher who handed out an assignment which included the requirement that the essay we were to compose had to be at least two thousand words long.  What made that number of words sacrosanct was never clear to me.  How in the world did laconic President Calvin Coolidge ever earn a diploma?

But let’s get back to the Ten Commandments.   Take Number Seven, as an example.  That’s that hairy one that says, “Thou shall not commit adultery.”  Notice how simple, straightforward and brief it is.  I had memorized this long before I knew what adultery actually was – but, of course, I asked – a little bit to the embarrassment of my Sunday School teacher.

Now those of us who believe that following that commandment is part of what I refer to as “normative” behavior, there is very little ambiguity – so it’s apparent that God knew precisely what he wanted people to do (or more exactly) to avoid doing.  But what if this commandment had been constructed by Congress?

The commandment comes out of the “Congressional Morality Committee,”  (wouldn’t it be remarkable if there were one – but then who would we be able to find who could with clear conscience become members?) and, like the original that the Divinity established, it’s a simple five word declarative sentence.

But then it moves forward in the process and has a hearing in the Economics Affairs Committee.  They recognize that this proposal could have serious implications and adverse impact on various business operations – specifically, those hotel/motel owners whose rooms rent out on an hourly basis.  And the members of that committee get lobbied by advocates for that industry.  So they amend the original commandment so that it reads, “Thou shall not commit adultery before six o’clock a.m. local time.”    (Since most of the commerce and congress at these hotels/motels occur in the afternoon, this effectively nullifies the original intent of the commandment).

But things don’t stop there.  Business is down at the hairstylists and beauty salons in America.  Because of the Obamacession, fewer customers have the money to spare to color their hair.  So the members of that profession press their association’s lobbyists to get something included in the law which will improve their business.  After considerable pressure, the law now reads, “Thou shall not commit adultery before six o’clock a.m. local time.  However, those whose hair has been dyed by a professional stylist are exempted from any and all provisions of this law.”

It might be well if it had ended there.  But, of course, it doesn’t.  The street prostitutes, straight, gay and transgendered can see that this might impact their business negatively.  An impassioned group of “sex workers” appear before Congress to make their case that this law is discriminatory – they being the recipients of that bias.  Of course, the Congressional committee which hears their testimony is quite respectful of this contingency since some members know those testifying on a first name, professional basis.

And then further testimony is given by several American mullahs who believe that their faith and their followers are “once again” being victimized and persecuted in what is supposed to be the ultimate land of freedom.  There can be no clearer evidence of that then that the law allows adultery to be engaged in on Fridays and during any day of Ramadan.  Furthermore, the law makes no mention of protections for virgins, quite a few of whom are required for those jihadists who die in the “holy war” against the infidel, particularly those in America.

Needless to say, “environmentalists” were outraged at this prospective law.  They commissioned a study that substantiated their belief that many of these adulterous trysts would be engaged in with one or both participants arriving at the site by using gasoline based automotive conveyances, thus contributing to the issue of “climate change”.  They demand that there be a stipulation in the law that only adulterous affairs in which both parties got to the rendezvous via public transportation will be “licit”.

Needless to say since the concept of adultery and its being wrong is based on religious moral concept, it was only reasonable to expect that members of the clergy weigh in on the subject, which they did.  A number of pastors who had fathered out of wedlock kids expressed their belief that we must view “ancient” rules in the context of the times; that times had changed and we must change with them.  Their testimony, offered in a brilliant Hip Hop style and recorded and released on MTV got more than four million hits within an hour of its release.

So in light of all this testimony, our legislators took the bill which had been introduced by Reps. Jack Mehoff and I. Fool Around and they reworked, rewrote and transformed it into The Swoosh Law with the subtitle, “Just Do It”.  This law confirmed that adultery was a highly overrated infraction of “morality” and that it was perfectly reasonable, in fact, healthy for people to engage in it in order to promote a strong, healthy marriage.

And a lot of public officials in America felt vindicated – and breathed a sigh of relief.  The bill, as it was finally presented to the full membership, got overwhelming bipartisan support.

THE SHANGHAI SURPRISE

It was one of those evenings, perhaps you’ve experienced them as well, when I couldn’t decide what to have for dinner.  I thought about my menu options and suddenly an incredible sense of gratitude swept aside my indecision as I realized how fortunate I was to live in a country and be in a position where I actually had so many choices available to me.

I reflected on growing up and the role food played in my family life.  Being raised in a home where there were two incredible cooks, my mother and grandmother, food was not merely something we needed for life’s continuation, something to be enjoyed.  Our evening dinner provided us an opportunity to reinforce our relationship as a family as we would discuss the day’s events and what each of us would be doing the following day.  It was the focal point that allowed us to bond.  It was an expression of our love for one another.

Well, back to my debating what was to be for dinner.  I seldom either eat out or buy something to take home and eat here.  While I enjoy cooking, making dinner, eating it by yourself and then cleaning up sometimes is more of a chore than a joy.  So I frequently will prepare multiple meal-sized quantities of food, soups or stews, and freeze them for future use.  But with the return of 100 degree plus weather, neither a hearty beef stew nor a bowl of bean soup seemed too appealing.

It had been some time since I had eaten Chinese food, one of my favorites.  And while I often will prepare it myself I wasn’t in the mood to cook.  So I consulted the website of the local Chinese restaurant from which I order occasionally.

The first thing I noticed was that the prices had increased by one or two dollars an item since I had last ordered.  That nearly deterred me from ordering, thinking that a bowl of granola with some fresh strawberries might be sufficient for my evening meal.  But then that didn’t sound too appealing so I started to read through the menu to see if anything caught my fancy.

I ruled out the appetizers as they were completely overpriced – and I make a better egg roll than the restaurant.  Of course, appetizers are one of the most overpriced items at any restaurant and the reason they push them is there is a large profit margin in them – more so than in their main courses.  So I made a note to myself to make up a large batch of egg rolls and freeze them for future use.

I scrolled through the main dishes but nothing jumped out at me until I hit the section entitled, “Chef’s Specials”.  These were not to be confused with the “specials” that your waitperson will tell you about at a nice linen tablecloth restaurant which, incidentally, are normally creations that are put together from leftovers that the restaurant wants to dispose of.

I do enjoy the fancy names that Chinese restaurants give these dishes.  “Seven Happiness”; “Lotus Delight”; “Wise Man’s Joy”.  Fortunately, they always list the ingredients that make up these creations as no one could deduce from the names what actually goes into them.  And I noticed that rather than the typical eight or nine dollar price for a full order of their more mundane offerings, these dishes were all priced several dollars higher.

I was about to return to the main menu when suddenly I saw a dish which was entitled, “Shanghai Surprise”.  It wasn’t the name which drew my attention but the price.  Unlike the other “Chef’s Specials” which all ran about twelve dollars each, this one was $250.00 for an order.  I thought that this must merely have been a typo and perhaps this dish really was fifteen dollars.  In reading the ingredients, it sounded as though it was merely a variation on Moo Goo Gai Pan.  But I thought that out of curiosity I would inquire further of the restaurant what made this dish so special – or at the least point out to them that they had made an error in posting this dish’s price.

So I called and after a brief hold spoke with one of the ladies who work taking orders for those of us who would rather deal with a person than simply placing the order via the internet.

“Hello, could you tell me if your ‘Shanghai Surprise’ is really two hundred fifty dollars per order?”  Naturally, I expected her to gasp and tell me that price was incorrect and that they were going to fix it and thank me for letting them know.  But instead I got a response which surprised me.

“Yes, it is.”

“Forgive me for asking but what is there in the ‘Shanghai Surprise’ which makes it so expensive?”

“It comes with two fortune cookies,” she replied.

“But all your meals come with fortune cookies.”

“Yes, but these are special fortune cookies.  One of out of four of them contains a micro fiche of a Hillary Clinton email from her unsecured server, expertly hacked by a group in Shanghai.”

I wound up having the granola with fresh strawberries for dinner.

LIVING IN A LAW-LESS AMERICA

As a kid, one of the daily cartoons that I read was a strip called, There Ought To Be A Law.  It was unique in that readers would submit ideas and if their ideas were accepted, cartoonists Warren Whipple and Frank Borin would draw it and credit the contributor for his or her original idea.  The cartoon was extremely popular and emphasized that life presented itself with many situations which could have been dealt with by applying simple common sense – but instead we found convoluted ways to try to resolve simple issues.

That’s not unlike the way in which we craft legislation.

There was a time when the country was filled with what we call “blue laws”.  Many of those related to the observance of Sunday as a special day and imposed restrictions on the sale of alcohol – or as it was known in the old days among those with a puritanical bent, “Demon Rum”. But in an effort to make America a better place, enthusiastic lawmakers have concocted some rather amazing laws which it is hard for some of us to comprehend.  Allow me a few examples.

In Alabama you may not drive a car while barefooted, nor are you allowed to have an ice cream cone in your back pocket.

In Connecticut it is unlawful to walk backwards after sunset nor are you allowed to cross a street while walking on your hands.

In Illinois it is unlawful to pee in your neighbor’s mouth and eating in a place that is on fire is a punishable offense.

In Massachusetts no man may wear a goatee in public unless he has obtained a special license for the privilege and it is unlawful for a taxi driver to make love in the front seat of his cab while he is on duty.

A brief reading of these laws (which are still on the books) suggests that not only are the inmates running the asylum, apparently they are or in the past have been elected to statewide public office.  Who would create such laws?  What purpose do they now (or did they ever) serve?

There are thousands of such ludicrous laws on the books in all fifty states.  And while I have never had an urge to fondle a pig’s genitalia in public (Iowa) – I guess privately it’s okay – it’s easy to see how this proliferation of inane and perhaps even insane laws could easily entrap and cause any of us to be in violation of something that was concocted by a lawmaker and his cohorts at some time in the distant past.

At least theoretically we as voters do have some control over those who concoct this mishmash that passes as legislation.  They do have to face us every so often to retain their positions.  But the sad reality is that ninety percent of all incumbents easily win re-election, time after time after time ad nauseam, ad infinitum.  Well, there is still that ten percent glimmer of hope.  No such control exists for the bureaucrats who are unelected “public servants” who find ways to extend their power by writing new and extensive “regulations” which are purportedly based on the laws written by legislators.  Obamacare is an excellent example of that where 2,700 pages of legislation has turned into more than 33,000 pages of regulations – and that number is still growing.

Common Sense author Thomas Paine must be turning in his grave – because clearly there is nothing common sensical in any of this.  And barring a constitutional amendment establishing term limits for those in Congress it is unlikely that things will change in the future.  The simplicity of a flat tax must be daunting to legislators because it is something that is far removed from their convoluted thinking.  And why does that thinking exist?

It is for their own protection.  Because if you write a law that is so complicated that no one can possibly understand it you provide job security so that they can “tweak” the inconsistencies which were written in the original law.  To me that’s like going back to your car mechanic five or six times to correct a problem with your vehicle because they didn’t do it correctly the first time you brought your buggy into their shop.

I would enthusiastically support any candidate who wants to pump the bilge laws out of our system and streamline our legislative process so that anyone with a high school diploma could understand the laws they pass.  That is probably a high expectation and one that will most likely not happen in my lifetime.  Sometimes being honest has depressing consequences.

But there may be hope.  Remember those blue laws?  Well New Mexico has one that I actually think is brilliant.  In that state it is illegal for an idiot to cast a ballot in a general election.  Now that’s an idea that has potential.

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