Monday, March 31, 2008

March Madness

For most of the sports fans I know, March Madness refers to the NCAA men's basketball tournament. For those of you who might not know what this is, I will attempt a judgmental and cynical description. (Why pretend that I find the condition college sports programs acceptable?):

Most universities and many colleges in the United States are home to professional basketball teams, called amateur teams, that are managed by a team of athletic, public relations, and logistics professionals, paid millions of dollars to ensure that the school secures as much money as possible from the billion dollars pool of funds generated by television contracts. The men who run this professional league (white men) lord over the men who actually earn the money for the schools (black men) and there has never been such a disparate economic arrangement in the United States since the abolition of slavery.

The orgasmic climax, this race for piles of cash, culminates each March with the tournament in which sixty-four teams are selected to play for the 'national championship' and the biggest chunk of money. You see, this is an amateur event, so we aren't supposed to talk about the money, but the men involved all do it for the money. The administrators will earn millions and a tiny percentage of the players will get contracts to play basketball in the National Basketball Association (the other professional basketball league in America designed for slightly older men).

Most of the players will be dismissed from school with no degree, no education, no prospects for future employment, and in some cases a pile of student loans coming due. We're not supposed to talk about those (black) men, though, because they are only supposed to go to college to learn, not play sports, and it's their own fault that they have nothing to fall back on. Besides, the money earned by the colleges has to be spent on paying the million-dollar salaries of the (white) men maintaining the leagues. Colleges are, after all, money-making institutions designed for profiteering, not charitable organizations focused on furthering human knowledge.

I have discussed this issue in articles titled Amateur Athletics and The NCAA and The Student Athlete. I think poorly of the NCAA and the billion dollar business that is college athletics.

For most sports fans in America, March Madness is that tournament. I have selected North Carolina to win it all, and I have enjoyed watching David-sized Davidson College upset Goliath after Goliath: Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin, before losing a squeaker to Kansas in the last seconds. So, I think the industry is crooked, but I am entertained.

Besides the Davidson fairy tale run, my fave story of the NCAA tournament was Derrick Rose of Memphis, refusing to have stitches to close a cut because he is afraid of needles. This guy is tough as feathers, and I can only imagine how his prima donna behavior will shine when he leaves college and tries to work int he NBA.

Rose Refused Stitches Due To Needle Phobia

HOUSTON — Derrick Rose was not getting stitches.

No way. No how.

The weekend saw four NCAA tournament games played, but it also marked the opening night of Major League Soccer, the professional soccer league in the United States, and even though my Red Bull New York team was not scheduled to play, I was thrilled to watch.

The entire world is now playing professional soccer! Most leagues are Winter leagues, playing their season from September through May; but, because of our climate, the United States is a Summer league, playing its season from March through October.

March is the month when all nations' professional soccer leagues overlap, so I get to watch a maddening number of matches each weekend.

This past weekend I saw the following broadcasts:

From England: Derby v. Fulham, Manchester United v. Aston Villa, Liverpool v. Everton, and Tottenham v. Newcastle

From Italy: Lazio v. Inter Milan, Juventus v. Parma, AC Milan v. Atalanta

From Spain: Real Betis v. Barcelona

From the USA: New England v. Houston Dynamo, and Colorado v. Los Angeles.

From Scotland: Rangers FC v. Celtic FC

From Argentina: River Plate v. Arsenal

Many other matches from Spain, Germany, and Columbia were also broadcast in my television market, but I saw none of them. I get my fix of South American soccer during the week when Copa Libertadores matches are broadcast live, late at night.

Both MLS matches were a disappointment to me. Reigning champs Houston Dynamo played very poorly against the always-hateful New England Revolution, and the Colorado Rapids made mince-meat of the David Beckham-led Los Angeles Galaxy, in a poorly-officiated match with two red cards, violent tackles, too much blood, and anger verging on rage (even from Lady Landycakes himself).

Actually, I must admit that Landon Donovan showed remarkable leadership on the field and should be reinstated as the LA team captain. When bad calls were made by the ref, Landycakes was right there to negotiate on behalf of the player accused of unfair play, and when Ciaran O'Brien levelled a vicious late-game tackle on Carlos Ruiz, Landycakes bolted right at the perpetrator and shoved him back, leading to a purse-swinging festival that ended with O'Brien red-carded and dismissed from the game. Donovan's intensity, negotiating, and leadership did nothing, however, to prevent an embarrassing drubbing by Colorado. David Beckham should relinquish the captain's armband to Donovan, because he showed absolutely no leadership in a match that required strong guidance from a smart and determined leader. Bonnets off to Landycakes, ladies!

Referee Abiodun Okulaja was atrocious. I often sympathize with soccer referees because one official is expected to cover a field larger than an NFL field, so it is common for an official to miss a call or two throughout a match. This match was allowed to spiral out-of-control by the official and his poor performance jeopardized the safety of the players.

Okulaja's unforgivable sin was making a call against Abel Xavier in the box that was not a foul. Xavier did come from behind, but he kicked the ball and the attacking player's stumble to the ground should not have been called a foul. When Xavier protested, he was yellow-carded for dissent. Later in the match, Xavier was called for a foul and bumped the ref during his vehement and dramatic protest. The ref had no choice but to book him a second time (this time for abusive language) which led to Xavier's dismissal. This took place in the 89th minute, and the match was long-lost, but it had also been long out-of-control.

I don't like Abel Xavier because he is a show-off and a hot-head and I think he is bad for the sport, but the calls by the referee would frustrate the most level-headed player and I hope that this ref is sent to officiating classes soon so that he can stop losing control of matches.

By midnight Saturday, I was soccered-out! Sunday allowed fewer opportunities for viewing, but I ended the weekend sated and a little maddened by so much soccer.

I am a lucky man, and March Madness for me is this weekend when I can watch soccer from all over the world, including the United States.

Next weekend, I make my way to Giants Stadium for the Red Bulls home opener. This will be the last opening day at Giants Stadium, as Red Bull Park should be ready for next season.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Fever Pitch
Nick Hornby

Friday, March 28, 2008


Laura Bush walked into the Oval Office and found the President cheering and laughing.

"What's happened, dear?" She asked.

"Nothing at all, Laura! I just finished this jigsaw puzzle in record time!" The President beamed.

"How long did it take you?"

"Well, the box says '3 to 5 Years' but I did it in a month!"

Dick Mac Recommends:

Merchant of Death
Douglas Farah, Stephen Braun

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Enron Crisis Had Arthur Anderson and the Mortgage Crisis Has KPMG

When I started working in the corporate world in the early-1980s, there was The Big Eight, consultancy and accounting firms that guided the world's largest corporations through the fog and into the dream world that would be Reaganomics. They were Ernst & Whinney, Price Waterhouse, Coopers & Lybrand, Arthur Young, Arthur Anderson, Peat Marwick, Kidder Peabody, and Deloitte Touche.

Over the coming decade, in the orgy of mergers sparked by Reganomics, they became The Big Five: Ernst & Young, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Arthur Anderson, KPMG, and Deloitte Touche.

Then Arthur Anderson got caught with its hands in the cookie jar, or is that the cooking jar, as it cooked the books for Enron and watched the energy business fall into the hands of a few evil billionaires who have taken the nation hostage while millions of people lost. Arthur Anderson is no more and we are left with The Big Four: Ernst & Young, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, and Deloitte Touche.

I was particularly disheartened by the closure of Arthur Anderson. As a child, my pediatrician told me that really smart people worked for Arthur Anderson and he thought I should work there some day. I failed to pursue an education that would have brought me to such a firm, but I always remembered that Dr. Levine said it and Arthur Anderson always held a mystique for me. Its closure was an odd disappointment. The other disheartening thing about Arthur Anderson closing was that two low-level executives from their New York office made their way into the organization where I was employed and they instituted the sort of re-engineered policies that make companies momentarily more profitable, a shitty place to work and eventually a failure. That company no longer exists as it had to be absorbed into a better-run company in order to survive on any level. I think there is a direct correlation between the arrival of the Arthur Anderson people and the demise of the firm. Even if their policies did not lead directly to the failure of that partnership, their shitty re-engineered philosophy made it a crap place to work and the loss of that company was actually no loss to the New York business community. (As I heard a local professional say about its closure: Company A merging with Company B -- two shitty firms getting together to form one big shitty firm.) But, enough about Arthur Anderson.

Come now, the mortgage crisis that is bringing-down Bear Stearns, the most successful (and most Jewish) investment bank in the history of investment banking, forcing Americans out of their homes, seeing investors go broke, and causing one of the nation's largest mortgage companies, New Century Financial, to dissolve. How did this happen? Well, KPMG (one of the remaining accounting firms that make up The Big Four) helped New Century Financial alter it's accounting practices so that losses actually appeared to be profits. Just like Arthur Anderson did with Enron!

A five-month investigation has produced a 580-page report documenting how New Century cooked its books (while KPMG was its accounting firm) in the second half of 2006. They admitted their accounting was wrong in February, 2007, and entered bankruptcy when its lenders shut off its cash supply. Showing a profit in 2006 meant that executives were paid huge (HUGE) bonuses.

KPMG denies the accusations, of course, as did Arthur Anderson during the advent of the Enron scandal. But, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows!

Investigator Michael Missal said in a telephone interview, "I saw e-mails from the engaged partner [at KPMG] saying 'we are at the risk of being replaced.' They acquiesced overly to the client which in the post-Enron era seems mind-boggling."

A partner at KPMG went along with (encouraged?) a plan by a nearly-bankrupt company to cook its books! And it's documented! Sounds like malfeasance, or fraud, to me!

So, will we be left with The Big Three: Ernst & Young, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Deloitte Touche? Let's hope so! I say we toast to the demise of KPMG. If you pray, perhaps you could pray for their demise.

If you own KPMG stock, I suggest you sell it now for any price you can get before it looks like Bear Stearns (or worse, Enron or Arthur Anderson) stock.***

Read an article at the New York Times.


I stand corrected. I did not realize that KPMG was a partnership. Had I known this I would not have recommended people sell their shares of stock.

Sorry to have mispelled the name of Arthur Andersen. I should have done my homework better.

Thank you to the readers who commented on these shortcomings.

Neither of these mistakes detract from the point that KPMG is complicit in the New Century collapse, debacle, scam (whatever you want to call it), and should be prosecuted for it.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Ethics for the New Millennium
Dalai Lama

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Free Ride: John McCain and the Media

John McCain is a lying politician, just like so many of similar stripe.

He is a hypocrite who on the one hand sponsors a bill to regulate campaign spending and in the other hand accepts obscene amounts of money from the same groups he criticizes.

He is an immoral son-of-a-bitch who began a torrid affair with his second wife while still happily married to his first wife.

He has defended the interests of more crooks in Congress than any sitting Senator. (Well, I made that up but it sure sound great doesn't it? Sounds accurate, too!)

He is a psychopath who flies off the handle when angered, and if there is anyone who shouldn't be answering that call at three in the morning, it's this whack-job!

McCain wants to claim the moral high ground on every issue but is such a piece of shit he makes Clinton and Obama almost palatable.

OK, enough with the name-calling. I should know better, but I can't help myself when it comes to someone like McCain.

Why don't the media hold conservatives like McCain to the same moral standards they hold non-conservatives (there aren't any liberals running for office in 2008). Perhaps because they know that conservatives will give them what they want: money! Your money! Tax dollars and corporate subsidies! The welfare the media don't want you to talk about!

The Media Matters website is a great resource that critiques the various media and is paying special attention to the media's love affair with John McCain:

We live in a "gotcha" media culture that revels in exposing the foibles and hypocrisies of our politicians. But one politician manages to escape this treatment, getting the benefit of the doubt and a positive spin for nearly everything he does: John McCain. Even during his temporary decline in popularity in 2007, the media continued to bolster him by lamenting his fate rather than criticizing the flip-flops and politicking that undermined his media-driven image as a "straight talker."

In Free Ride: John McCain and the Media, David Brock and Paul Waldman show how the media have enabled McCain's rise from the Keating Five savings-and-loan scandal to the underdog hero of the 2000 primaries to his roller-coaster run for the 2008 nomination. They illuminate how the press falls for McCain's "straight talk" and how the Arizona senator gets away with inconsistencies and misrepresentations for which the media skewer other politicians.

Media Matters promotes the book, and I recommend it. Click the link below to purchase it.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Free Ride: John McCain and the Media
David Brock, Paul Waldman

Friday, March 21, 2008


Dick Mac is (alive!) and on vacation!

Today's advice: Beware of mortgage-backed securities bearing gifts (even if they are AAA-rated).

A Happy and Blessed Easter to those who celebrate.

Enjoy your weekend.

See you next week. Perhaps there will still be an economy at that time.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jim Crow is Alive & Well

Thanks to Ted for sending this along.

Dear Friend,

For 35 years, Jim Crow justice in Louisiana has kept Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox locked in solitary confinement for a crime everyone knows they didn't commit.

Despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence, the "Angola 3", spend 23 hours each day in a 6x9 cell on the site of a former plantation. Prison officials - and the state officials who could intervene - won't end the terrible sentence. They've locked them up and thrown away the key because they challenged a system that deals an uneven hand based on the color of one's skin and tortures those who assert their humanity.

We can help turn things around by making it a political liability for the authorities at Angola to continue the racist status quo, and by forcing federal and state authorities to intervene. I've signed on with to demand an investigation into this clear case of unequal justice. Will you join us?

When spoke up about the Jena 6, it was about more than helping six Black youth in a small town called Jena. It was about standing up against a system of unequal justice that deals an uneven hand based on the color of one's skin. That broken system is at work again and is joining The Innocence Project and Amnesty International to challenge it in the case of the Angola 3.

Angola sits on 18,000 acres of former plantation land in Louisiana and is estimated to be one of the largest prisons in the United States. Angola's history is telling: once considered one of the most violent, racially segregated prison in America, almost a prisoner a day was stabbed, shot or raped. Prisoners were often put in inhumane extreme punishment camps for small infractions. The Angola 3 - Herman, Albert and Robert - organized hunger and work strikes within the prison in the 70's to protest continued segregation, corruption and horrific abuse facing the largely Black prisoner population.

Shortly after they spoke out, the Angola 3 were convicted of murdering a prison guard by an all-white jury. It is now clear that these men were framed to silence their peaceful revolt against inhumane treatment. Since then, they have spent every day for 35 years in 6x9 foot cells for a crime they didn't commit.

Herman and Albert are not saints. They are the first to admit they've committed crimes. But, everyone agrees that their debts to society for various robbery convictions were paid long ago.

NBC News/Dateline just aired a piece this week about the plight of the Angola 3. And it's time to finally get some justice for Herman and Albert. For far too long, court officials have stalled and refused to review their cases. Evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and constitutional violations have not swayed them.

It's now time for the Governor of Louisiana and the United States Congress, which provides the funding for federal prisons like Angola, to step in and say enough is enough. Please join us in calling for Governor Bobby Jindal and your Congressperson to initiate an immediate and full investigation into the case of the Angola 3.

Dick Mac Recommends:

I Am America
(And So Can You!)

Stephen Colbert

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Violence in Tibet

China, the darling nation of savage capitalism, is cracking down on a Tibetan movement demanding autonomy. is organizing an online petition to the Chinese government to protest the violence.

Stand with Tibet - Support the Dalai Lama - Sign the Petition

Dick Mac Recommends:

Ethics for the New Millennium
Dalai Lama

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"I’m actually more married than single . . . "

How important is gay marriage?

Well, there have been other times in American history when human beings were not allowed to marry other human beings because of prejudice. Mixed-race marriages were illegal in many states well into the 20th Century. Of course, non-whites and mixed race people like Barack Obama forget that they may not even exist if the "law of the land" had been followed in the recent past. Blacks and whites marrying was just as offensive to Americans a hundred years ago as gay marriage is to many Americans now.

Of course, blacks will tell you that it's different for them, just like they said it was different during the Don't Ask Don't Tell campaign perpetrated on the gay community by Bill Clinton. Blacks insisted that you could not compare the prejudice against gays in the military to the prejudice against blacks in the military.

The blacks who insist this are, of course, full of shit. There is no better comparison to argue gays in the military and gay marriage than the comparison to racial segregation in the military and bans on mixed-race marriages.

How quickly we forget, we humans. Especially once we get our slice of the pie.

Those who oppose gay marriage are bigots. There is no other word for it. Whether they are presidential candidates like Barack Obama, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton (all of whom oppose gay marriage) or idiotic sports stars or just your drunken philosopher at the corner bar, they are bigots. We can soften it any other way we like, but denial of marriage rights to homosexuals is discrimination, and anyone who supports discrimination based on sexual preference is a bigot.

And the worst type of bigots are the ones who spin it to make it sound that they are really very liberal but don't think this is an important issue (like Clinton and Obama). "Some of my best friends are . . . "

The New York Time published an article about homosexuals who live in Connecticut and are in civil unions, protected by that State's laws. There are problems for them, because they are not officially married, they are just civically united.

New York Times
March 17, 2008
Gay Couples Say Civil Unions Aren’t Enough
Eager to celebrate their partnership, Tracy and Katy Weber Tierney were among the first in line when Connecticut created civil unions three years ago as a way to formalize same-sex relationships without using the word "marriage."

But when Tracy was giving birth to their son, Jake, five months ago, a hospital employee inquired whether she was "married, single, divorced or widowed."

"I’m in a civil union," she replied. When the employee checked "single," Tracy protested. "I’m actually more married than single," she said, leaving the employee flustered about how to proceed.

Read more . . .

Perhaps you could contact your state officials and tell them you support gay marriage.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Wake Up, You're Liberal!
Ted Rall

Monday, March 17, 2008

Industry Eats Itself

The airline industry was deregulated in the late 1970s as the next step in the conservative movement that brought us alleged tax cuts at the state level, the anti-abortion movement, and the first anti-gay movements in the mid-seventies. In the case of airline deregulation, economists convinced liberal Democrats that the airline industry, and therefore all its consumers, would benefit from the lifting of regulation. Airline deregulation was implemented without much fanfare, but with the blessings of an otherwise liberal Congress.

The industry will police itself, we were told. An unregulated market would create more jobs, lower prices, foster more competition, and lead to a boom in profits for everyone.

With that success under their belts, the deregulation movement started snow-balling, It found a poster boy in the face of Ronald Reagan, who convinced America that their government (the government for, by and of the people) was bad, needed to be gutted/downsized, and that industry would save us from inflation only if it was allowed to operate unfettered in an unregulated market. This became known as "Reaganomics" after the nation elected Reagan.

Let me take this moment to say that the only politician I recall speaking-out clearly and succinctly against this movement was George H. W. Bush, who referred to it as "voodoo economics"!

Neo-cons on both sides of the aisle began the long march to Friday, March 14, 2008, which I believe should be dubbed Red Friday.

Regulation of industry has proven to be a hugely successful policy. Every industry that was regulated after the Great Depression flourished, expanded, and realized profits undreamed of in the nineteenth century. Growth of American communications companies and financial institutions was spectacular while those industries were regulated, and those regulations ensured the industries, the companies and the workers who made them work, would be around forever.

Come now, Reaganomics. If we deregulate all these businesses then everything will be even better!

What we have seen however, is that once deregulated, an industry eats itself, its young, its resources, and its future is annihilated.

The idea that an unregulated industry will bring more competition, lower prices, more growth, more jobs, and greater growth was not only a pipe-dream at the time, it has taken only one generation to prove that it is an unmitigated (and unmitigatable?) disaster.

The airline industry is a disaster.

The entertainment industry is a disaster.

The telecommunications industry is a disaster.

And now, the financial services industry, the lifeblood of our entire economic systems, is a disaster.

Last Friday, the government gave two hundred billion dollars ($200,000,000,000) to Bear Stearns to prevent it from going bankrupt. And today, Monday March 17, 2008, Bear Sterns will be consumed by one of its competitors, JP Morgan Chase, for two dollars a share; down from thirty dollars a share last Thursday.

This is a financial collapse of amazing proportions. No financial institution has been bailed-out like this since 1929, the beginning of the Great Depression.

Still, however, we listen to pundits and politicians, columnists and candidates, worship at the altar of Ronald Reagan. Still we are being told that deregulation is the only path. That the marketplace will save us.

And I ask, how can the marketplace save America when it can't even save itself?

Dick Mac Recommends:

Howard Zinn -
You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Matt Damon, Howard Zinn

Friday, March 14, 2008

Stranded On An Island

A retired corporate executive decided to take a vacation. He booked himself on a Caribbean cruise and proceeded to have the time of his life, until the boat sank!

He found himself on an island with no other people, no supplies, nothing, only bananas and coconuts.

After about four months, he is lying on the beach one day, when the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen rows up to the shore. In disbelief, he asks her, "Where did you come from? How did you get here?"

She replies, "I rowed from the other side of the island. I landed here when my cruise ship sank."

"Amazing," he says. "You were really lucky to have a row boat wash up with you."

"Oh, this?" replies the woman. "I made the boat out of raw material I found on the island. The oars were whittled from gum tree branches. I wove the bottom from palm branches and the sides and stern came from a Eucalyptus tree."

"But, where did you get the tools?"

"Oh, that was no problem," replied the woman. "On the south side of the island, a very unusual stratum of alluvial rock is exposed. I found if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln, it melted into forgeable, ductile iron. I used that for tools and used the tools to make the hardware." The guy is stunned.

"Let's row over to my place," she says.

After a few hours of rowing, she docks the boat at a small wharf. As the man looks to shore, he nearly falls out off the boat. Before him is a stone walk leading to an exquisite bungalow painted in blue and white.

While the woman ties up the rowboat with an expertly woven hemp rope, the man can only stare ahead, dumb struck.

As they walk into the house, she says casually, "It's not much, but I call it home sit down please, would you like a drink?"

"No. No, thank you," he says, still dazed. "Can't take any more coconut juice."

"It's not coconut juice," the woman replies. "I have a still. How about a Pina Colada?" Trying to hide his continued amazement, the man accepts, and they sit down on her couch to talk.

After they have exchanged their stories, the woman announces, "I'm going to slip into something more comfortable. Would you like to take a shower and shave? There is a razor upstairs in the bathroom cabinet."

No longer questioning anything, the man goes into the bathroom. There, in the cabinet, is a razor made from a bone handle. Two shells honed to a hollow ground edge are fastened on to its end inside a swivel mechanism.

"This woman is amazing," he muses. "What next?

When he returns, she greets him wearing nothing but vines and flowers strategically positioned, and smelling of gardenias. She beckons for him to sit down next to her.

"Tell me," she begins suggestively, slithering closer to him, "We've been out here for a really long time. You've been lonely. There's something I'm sure you really feel like doing right now, something you've been longing for all these months?"

She stares into his eyes and takes his hand in hers.

He can't believe what he's hearing. "You mean," he swallows excitedly and tears start to form in his eyes, " I can check my e-mail from here?"

Thanks to Diane for sending this

Dick Mac Recommends:

Not Quite What I Was Planning
Larry Smith, Rachel Fershleiser

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Won't You Wear Your Sweater

I have been made fun of because of my penchant for cardigan sweaters (and blazers). While working in London, I was the laughing stock of my department because of my cardigans in the office. Now, I don't wear my cardigan in the office all day, but I keep it in my office in the Winter and I wear it if I get cold. When it is not the Winter, I tend to use a blazer instead.

While living in London, Mrs. Mac gave me a gift of a beautiful button-up cashmere cardigan from Holland & Holland. Yes, Holland & Holland sells guns, but they also sell clothes. Some really nice clothes; and their sweaters are particularly nice.

A more famous lover of cardigans was the late Mister Rogers, of children's television fame. Mister Rogers' cardigan had a zipper.

Mister Rogers, originally from Pittsburgh, would have been 80 next week. To celebrate, the Northland Public Library, in Pittsburgh, is sponsoring "Won't You Wear Your Sweater Day" (which actually runs for ten days). The event started on March 10, 2008 and ending on Mister Rogers' birthday on March 20, 2008.

Their website explains:

In honor of what would have been Mister Rogers 80th birthday, Northland Public Library is hosting Won't You Wear Your Sweater Day on Friday, March 20. We're asking people to wear their favorite sweater to the library. It doesn't have to have a zipper down the front like the one Mister Rogers wore on his program…it just has to be your favorite.

We're also asking people to donate a sweater that day, with all donations being given to the Light of Life Ministries on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Sweaters can be placed in the special collection bin on the lower level of the library. Come and celebrate the birthday of this Pittsburgh legend, and help this valuable community service at the same time.

Visit the library's website.

Northland Public Library
300 Cumberland Road, Pittsburgh
(412) 366-8100

Thanks to Adam for sending this along

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Governor Spitzer

The playwright Robert Patrick wrote: "Old hookers never die, they just start buying it back." (The Family Bar, 1979)

I sometimes wonder what happens to old johns?

Prostitution is called "the world's oldest profession," and I believe that is an accurate assessment. Men want sex and there is always someone willing to supply it, for a price. I see nothing wrong with this arrangement and I will always be appalled that prostitution is illegal.

William Shakespeare wrote: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." (Hamlet, Act 3, scene 2)

When an elected official rails against a particular morals issue like, say, prostitution, you can be pretty certain that this elected official is engaged in breaking the moral code he is discussing like, say, prostitution.

Earlier in his career, while busting billionaires on Wall Street, Spitzer railed against the high-end prostitution services that supplied sex to Wall Street denizens. I didn't see the red flag at that time, and I am pretty good about catching these things; and come to find out, the good Mr. Spitzer was using (or was to come to use) these same services.

Governor Spitzer has been caught with his pants down, so to speak, and has had to publicly apologize for his derelictions. With wife by his side, humiliated as the wives of men like Spitzer are meant to be, Spitzer apologized. But it didn't seem sincere. He didn't even bother to shave. He didn't even sound contrite. He sounded like a hypocritical politician trying to save his own ass at the expense of the women in his life: wife, hookers, aides, and family members.

What will he do next?

Perhaps Spitzer can now become a spokesperson for the needs and protection of prostitutes and an advocate for the decriminalization of prostitution. Probably not. though. He doesn't seem that imaginative, creative or interesting.

I guess I'd rather my tax dollars be spent on hookers than weapons!

Good-bye, Governor. I hope you spend a moment doing some soul-searching and try to find a way to help someone besides yourself for a moment during the rest of your life.

Perhaps you could ensure a pension for old hookers so that they have a little money in their pockets when they have to start buying it all back!

Dick Mac Recommends:

Not Quite What I Was Planning
Larry Smith, Rachel Fershleiser

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tax Rebate

Over heard on the Internet

President Bush said each of us will get a $300 tax rebate. If you spend that money at Wal Mart, all the money will go to China; if you spend it on gasoline it will go to the Arabs. Such spending will not help the American economy.

We need to keep that money working to help the economy here in America. We can do that by drinking domestic brands of beer or spending it on local prostitution, two of the few businesses still owned and operated by US citizens.

Be patriotic! Do your share!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Our Part in China's Legacy

Americans, myself included, like to discuss and support embargoes and boycotts.

Most Americans don't know why there is an embargo against the people of Cuba, except that Fidel Castro is a "communist." Most Americans don't even know what that means, and are so moved by the mainstream media hysteria that they cannot see that the only people who have been hurt by our Cuban embargo are the citizens of that island nation: mostly people with a Euro-centric heritage (like us), a huge percentage of whom are religious people (mostly Christians), ordinary, hard-working people just like people in the rest of the Americas. Our leaders and the mainstream media drudge on and on about the embargo (which has been a failure, after all) and the United States citizens just ignore the ramification except to lash-out against "communism" when they hear buzz words like "Castro," "revolution," "socialized medicine," and "Bay of Pigs."

The rest of the civilized world (that is, all of our allies) do business with Cuba. All of them. They vacation in Cuba. They exchange scientific, medical, military, and cultural information. Still, Americans cling to this embargo and the evils of Fidel Castro as if there is some moral or practical reason to punish the Cuban people because of their place of birth.

On the other hand, the United States has forged iron-clad bonds with China, a nation that practices repression on a daily basis in a systematic way. China has attacked and occupied neighboring countries, murdering, plundering, and sending leaders into exile. They enslave their own people in factory/prisons generating profits that benefit a tiny number of military and government leaders. They ban religion and free thought, dialog and expression.

American lawyers, bankers, investment firms, and manufacturers have flooded into China to get a piece of the action, while on the Western frontier of that nation, the military continues to occupy, torture and enslave the Tibetan people, and the sovereign nation of Nepal sits quaking in its boots knowing they will likely be next.

To the north, Mongolia stays in line, knowing that it is a matter of time before they are absorbed into the ugly profit-machine that is the Peoples Republic of China.

Nepal and Mongloia know that the United States, having done nothing about the occupation of Tibet, will do nothing if China moves against them. And the American people, relying on Fox, Disney, Viacom, Time-Warner, and General Electric, to provide them the only information they know how to absorb, will simply ignore the incidents.

Of course, there are a tiny number of people around the world, including some very famous and rich people, who have spoken-out on behalf of Tibet and the Dalai Lama, the political leader of the Tibetan people and global spiritual leader of many. These people are usually ignored by the mainstream media, and remarks about Tibet are relegated to sidebars or discussions of religion or reviews of benefit concerts. Western government, led by the United States, ignore the plight of the Tibetan people; and Americans (the most powerful society in the world) say nothing.

Step forward, now, Bjork, Icelandic singer of international fame. At her performance in Shanghai last week, Bjork ended her show (as she has many shows) with the song "Declare Independence."

At her Tokyo concert last month, Bjork ended the song with a statement in support of the newly-independent nation of Kosovo, which exists after years of repression, because Western nations (led by the United States) decided to acknowledge it as an autonomous society.

In Shangai, last week, she she shouted "Tibet!" This has angered the repressive government of China (one of your strongest allies -- yes yours) and they have announced that they will "be stricter on foreign performers" in the future.

Is this the sort of nation you want to support? A nation that places restrictions on the free expression of music and opinions?

Well, this is a nation you do support more than any other nation in the world. In fact, it is quite possible that you give more money to China's economy than you pay in taxes to your own government (and not just my American readers -- you Brits, and other Europeans, too). Look at the labels of your clothes, and the "Made in" stamp of your electronics and appliances, then add up the cost of all these items you have purchased or received as a gift (be sure to amortize any large ticket item over three years, so you can get a real sense of the numbers). Then look at last year's tax statement, subtract any tax refund, abatement or rebate you've received, then compare the two numbers. I think many working people (that is, middle-class people) will find they have spent more money supporting the repressive economy (and therefore the government) of China than they have paid in taxes to support their own nation.

Think about it.

Or don't.

This from AP via Yahoo!:

China stricter after Bjork's Tibet chant
Fri Mar 7, 7:20 AM ET

China will be stricter on foreign performers after Icelandic singer Bjork shouted "Tibet! Tibet!" at the end of her concert in Shanghai this week, the government said Friday.

A statement by China's Culture Ministry said Bjork's outburst "broke Chinese law and hurt Chinese people's feelings."

Bjork shouted "Tibet!" after a passionate performance of her song "Declare Independence" on Sunday. The outburst drew rare public attention inside China to Beijing's often harsh rule over the Himalayan region.

The statement, posted on the Culture Ministry's Web site, also said "there is no country that admits that Tibet is an 'independent country.'"

Bjork has performed the song to support other independence movements in the past. She dedicated the song to Kosovo while performing last month in Japan. The lyrics include the phrase "Raise your flag!"

China's 58-year rule over Tibet has drawn frequent condemnation from foreign governments and activists, often inciting a prickly nationalism among the Chinese government and ordinary people. Many Tibetans consider the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as their rightful leader.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2008 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Reprinted without permission

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Friday, March 07, 2008

An Easter Thought

A retired couple took a trip to Jeruselem. The husband became very ill and died in the hospital.

The widow remained serene and stoic in the face of her loss and the complications of her husband dying overseas. She sat Shiva in a hotel conference room and some very kind travelers and members of the hotel staff joined her. In her mind she thought to herself: "figures he would ruin my vacation," but she never gave words to the thought.

The local coroner called on the woman at her hotel to discuss arrangements.

"To ship the body back to Brooklyn will cost about $5,000. To have him buried here in the Holy Land will cost about $150."

"That's quite a difference," the widow remarked.

"Yes, it is," the coroner agreed. "And I am sorry we must discuss this at such a difficult time."

"I think I'll bring him back to Brooklyn," the widow decided. "We didn't always see eye-to-eye, we had our problems, but I love him and I think it's best that he be nearby."

"That's quite an expensive proposition," the coroner said. "We could provide a lovely service and beautiful resting place here in the Holy Land for much less."

"That's true, said the widow hesitantly. "But a long time ago a Jewish man from out-of-town was buried here and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance."

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Here Comes The Scam

I have believed for many months that Hillary Clinton was going to be the eventual nominee to represent the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election.

I have said that she will not actually win the nomination, but that the power-brokers in Washington (the Bush family and friends, the Clinton family and friends, the Diebold Corporation, Howard Dean, and other election powerhouses) would simply do for Hillary that which was done for George W Bush in Florida in 200 and Ohio in 2004: they would rig the process to ensure that the candidate most appealing to the conservatives would win. In 2008, that candidate is Hillary Clinton: champion of corporate interests, anti-labor hero, and homophobe supreme.

Clinton has packaged herself as a liberal for many years, but her positions on the issues are the positions of a conservative.

She is losing the race to become the Democratic nominee to Barack Obama. Her momentum was dead in the water, then she won a couple of states that use Diebold voting machines (including Ohio, which has been devastated by her support of NAFTA), and her campaign is re-born. Now the chairman of the Democratic Party wants to change party rules to allow her to get the delegates from Florida and Michigan, which states have had their delegates nullified for breaking Party rules. When Clinton was the front-runner, she wanted those states punished for their rules-breaking; now that she can win by manipulating their delegates, she wants them reinstated.

Things are bad. Things are worse than we think.

Read more at The Huffington Post: Dean Urges Do-Over Voting in Fla., Mich.

Marriage Humor

A woman comes home on Valentine's Day with a duck under her arm.

Her husband meets her at the door.

She says "This is the pig I'm screwing."

"That's not a pig, it's a duck," he replies.

"I was talking to the duck."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

As Ohio Goes, So Goes The Nation

As a general rule-of-thumb, though not a proven proposition, whichever candidate is victorious in Ohio will win the nation-wide race in which they are running.

Sadly, Ohio is now a state with unreliable Diebold voting machines, so instead of Ohio representing "average Americans" its voting results now represent the desires of the Diebold voting machine development team.

So, it looks as though Diebold thinks Clinton will be the candidate that will best suit their needs in November. They gave her New Hampshire and now they have given her the biggest prize of all: Ohio.

I hate sounding like a conspiracy theorist, but I do not trust Diebold and I don't trust election officials in Ohio who have installed the Diebold machines, and I don't trust Hillary Clinton.

She has won Ohio, and Texas, and for good measure she carried Rhode Island. Barack Obama can no longer be considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, and I am not shy to say that having carried Ohio, and Texas, with Pennsylvania waiting in the wings, Hillary Clinton looks the strongest.

Pennsylvania is often described as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in the middle; meaning that a Democrat (or a non-white person in this case) can carry the two big cities, but there is no way a liberal or a person of color is going to carry the middle of this very large state.

I will continue to hope for an Obama victory at the convention, but I am resigning myself to a president (Clinton or McCain) who will mire us more deeply in war, ship more of our jobs out of the country, remain beholden to the oil and communications industries, make bad appointments to the Supreme Court, reinvigorate the commercial penal system and death penalty champions, and perhaps allow reproductive freedom to become further endangered.

Watch this space to see the transformation of a man who loathes Hillary Clinton into a man who might have to vote for her just because the thought of McCain is even more frightening.

And should Obama make a miraculous comeback . . . well, then it will be a different rant! Until that time: Congratulations Senator Clinton!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Polls Are Opening

Today is the day that Obama can win enough delegates to take the Democratic nomination. I predict he will win those needed delegates.

Clinton will not go down gracefully. I am certain that the Diebold election monitors have already selected the precincts they will manipulate to give Clinton some of the delegates she has not actually won.

Ohio, which has been devastated by Clinton's support of NAFTA will have its vote manipulated to give her delegates from a state that has no good reason to vote for her.

Watch Ohio. It will be the most interesting results to follow.

Also, I predict that by 8:00 P.M. Eastern time, the Clinton campaign will accuse the Obama campaign of voting irregularities. They will make these accusations to keep attention away from the Diebold manipulations, and the mainstream media will refuse to look any deeper than the Clinton's press release.

When Clinton actually loses, she will step-up her court battles to have the election results changed, and will then use the might of the Bush-Clinton machine to attempt a "coup" of sorts at the convention.

This will be an interesting Summer!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Supporting Obama

Tomorrow is election day in a number of states; most importantly in Ohio and Texas. Tomorrow could make or break all the remaining candidates.

I have discussed problems with both of the Democratic candidates, and I dislike Clinton more than I dislike Obama.

So today I asked an old friend for her position on the Democratic candidates and she said something that has moved me deeply. After stating her support for Obama, mostly because of his position on the War, she wrote:

I also think we should respect the wishes of the young-who are all into Obama.

Perhaps the young are onto something with Obama. Perhaps I should be listening to the 18-24 year olds. God knows that the 25-75 year olds have made a God-awful mess of things the past 28 years, so maybe we really should be listening to the young who seem to be supporting Obama across the board.

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