Friday, May 30, 2008

Renting Parenting

I once heard a person younger than me refer to her parents as "the 'rents" and it sounded uncomfortably odd. I've never understood what I disliked about it.

Now I am a parent and I fantasize about what my child will say about me in the future. I don't worry about it, just daydream about it. I think I'm a good parent and I accept there will be times in my child's life when she will treat me with the contempt that all parents are eventually treated by their children. It's supposed to be like that. Still, I like to think about how she will phrase her disdain.

I live in Brooklyn. I moved to New York to live in Manhattan, and we lived there for quite some time. When we decided to have a child, however, Manhattan became unaffordable and we did what others do: we moved to Brooklyn. I've grown to like it here.

A dear friend is a nanny. She is English and was properly trained in an English school and is a proper nanny. I have a very positive idea about nannies because I always think of them as being English, like my friend or Mary Poppins. They are friendly and serious, professional and compassionate, fun and goofy and strict and serious.

Mrs. Mac and I decided that since we could not afford a proper nanny, a professional child care provider, we would have to live on one income; she would stay home to raise our child at least until the child entered first grade. It's been a challenge, but it's been well worth sacrificing the second income.

Neither one of us much see the point of having a child if we weren't going to raise the child.

In Brooklyn, there are people who hire a stranger to raise the children and they call that person a 'nanny.'

These 'nannies' never seem to be English, though, or French (as in au pair). They ARE often foreigners, they are often overweight, they usually have darker skin than their charges, they always speak American English even if it's not their primary language. They don't seem to have been trained anywhere. They just seem to have taken a job as a 'babysitter.'

For me, a babysitter is a trusted person I leave my child with for a few hours. A babysitter is not a person qualified to raise my child, act as a surrogate parent, be a care-giver. A nanny - a properly trained professional - is qualified to do this.

The 'nannies' I see around Brooklyn don't seem qualified to be a proper nanny.

Today on the way home from a doctor's appointment, a 'nanny' got on the subway in Carroll Gardens with her two charges: he was about four or five and seemed to be coming home from some kind of school, she was about two and was in a stroller. The 'nanny' was about fifty, overweight (obese, really), appeared to be Indian or Bangladeshi (I know I should know the difference and sometimes I do), spoke American English well, and was perfectly aloof in the manner of a fifteen-year-old teenage babysitter. This woman was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a professional child care-giver.

The 'nanny' was cranky, the boy was uncomfortably quiet, and the girl in the stroller was asking for something to drink.

What transpired was mind-boggling! The 'nanny' teased and bullied the two-year old to tears while the boy cowered in his seat. I was infuriated by the scene and it took every ounce of will-power and God's grace to remain silent as she badgered, belittled, and teased the toddler. "Mind your own business," I told myself over and over.

I occupied myself to distraction by typing an email to my wife on the Blackberry, describing the scene. By the time I finished, they got off at the Prospect Park stop at 15th Street.

My wife's email reply was that the story did not surprise her at all. Her response included this: "You should see some of them that pick kids up at [our daughter's school], walking down the street in the pouring rain, nice and dry under the umbrella, the kid walking next to them no hood, hat or umbrella getting all wet."

Bad-parenting-by-proxy is not an uncommon sight in the areas of Brooklyn in which we travel. I usually ignore it, but today I got to wondering about parents who make these choices, and how that process must work.

Two professionals decide to have a child. They aren't wealthy, so they can't live in Manhattan and they can't hire a professional nanny; but, they decide that two incomes is better than one and within a few months of giving birth, the couple has to get back to their careers (which careers are not parenting in any way, shape, or form). So, they decide to hire a 'nanny' to raise their child. They look on the bulletin board at the food co-op and the cafes and they see the magical, much-sought notice from the other professional couple: "helping our wonderful nanny find a new job."

It often reads like this: "Our nanny has been with us for seven years and has been a loving care-giver to our children. We feel terrible about having to let her go, but mommy has decided to stay home now. If you are looking for a nanny, we are happy to recommend her. Please call us at 718-555-0000. Thanks."

What makes a parent believe that hiring a rent-a-parent from a hand-written bulletin board sign, or a craigslist posting, is a good, sane, plan-of-action for raising their child? Am I the only person who sees a problem here?

Now that seven-year-old Joshua has been raised by the fat brown lady who neglected him and scared the shit out of him everyday, and he is in school full-time, followed by music lessons, tutoring, self-defense, and music class each day, mommy is going to make the ultimate sacrifice of hanging around the house posting parenting tips about "co-sleeping" and "nurturing" on the Park Slope Parents message board all day, and building her 'consulting' business.

I wonder if mommy knows what has been happening to little Josh the last seven years? I wonder if she knows that he had to walk in the rain while the big fat brown lady stayed dry under the umbrella? (I'm sure she is convinced he wanted to walk in the rain.) I wonder if mommy knows that little Emily was teased and cajoled by the fat brown lady every day and had to beg and scream in hysterics for a drink? (I'm sure she is convinced that she was just teaching her manners.)

I wonder how a parent sleeps at night knowing that their child is being raised by a stranger whose time they are renting for twelve bucks an hour and no benefits. Imagine the conversation two adults have, two new parents, where the conclusion is that they shouldn't raise their child, that they should rent an unqualified stranger to do it.

What I saw today on the subway, and what I've seen in so many playgrounds, bookstores, Starbucks, and children's events, is deplorable. Wholly unqualified women, barely capable of being babysitters, taking charge of the daily lives of vulnerable children with no way to defend themselves or navigate the insanity of the class warfare passed-off as child-care.

If you don't want to raise a child, you shouldn't have one. If you want to have a child and don't want to raise it, then be certain you can hire an actual professionally-trained care-giver to raise your child.

If you are looking on craigslist for a 'nanny,' then there is something drastically wrong with your life. Perhaps you shouldn't be a parent.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Whom Should A Veteran Vote?

There are some depressingly common beliefs that are rooted in the odd behavior of Americans consistently voting against their own interests.

Obama can't get elected because the Democratic Party's base, the so-called "working class" is actually the stronghold of racism in America and they would never vote for a 'nigger.' As pro-Clinton pundits said: Obama could never win the votes of "working, hard-working, white Americans." So, these stoopit white racists will vote for the Republican candidate who will work aggressively against the best interests of all working-class people.

Veterans are a different can of worms. Vets like to vote for vets, and McCain is a veteran's political wet-dream: a former POW from America's ugliest military campaign who survived brutality to become a leader in the perfect Hollywood sense of the word. Vets believe that a veteran would look after their interests; just like working-class (white working-class) people believed that Bill Clinton, a man from a strong working-class home and a single-parent family, would look after their interests.

Clinton, of course, did for Reaganomics and "conservatism" what the GOP hadn't the balls to do themselves: deregulate industry like mad and eliminate the social welfare safety net. Republicans and their allegedly "conservative" agenda was furthered more effectively by Clinton than his two predecessors.

Come now, John McCain: veteran extraordinaire and new champion of "conservatism."

I think it is safe to say that every veteran, Democrat and Republican alike, will vote for McCain. They believe he represents what is important to them.

McCain's voting record on veterans affairs, however, contradicts this.

The Veterans Administration is the finest, most effective, most successful medical system in the United States. There is no other medical system that succeeds like the VA. Part of the VA's success has been due to transparency and the almost complete elimination of favoritism, nepotism, and corruption. That transparency has been possible and successful because of an open-source information system called VistA. The nice thing about open-source information systems is that they are, well, open. There is no proprietary interest to protect, no trade secrets that have to be hidden from public view (which secrets always lead to problems of corruption or ineffectiveness).

McCain is working actively to eliminate the use of the VistA system and turn-over all VA information systems to private industry using proprietary systems. These private companies are required to generate profits for their shareholders, and when they cease to make profits, they close shop, and then veterans lose access to health care and their benefits stall or are lost altogether. Such was the case in Wisconsin last Summer when a private firm Corporate Health & Wellness, went belly-up and stranded all their clients.

The Republicans, in general, and McCain, in particular, have been trying to privatize the VA since Bush II took office. McCain has voted against veterans interest in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, and I am sure he is working to keep any votes about veterans benefits off the list during the election.

Veterans need to look very carefully at McCain's voting record as a Senator and his opinion on veterans benefits.

Forget about the hard-on he gives you when he talks about attacking Iran and staying in Iraq for a hundred years, and consider what he wants to do to veterans today, tomorrow, next month, next year, and in our lifetimes. He wants veterans benefits to be a source of profiteering for private companies, not a source of help for veterans.

For whom should a veteran vote? Not the veteran who is running for President!

Read the very excellent commentary McCain Sells Out Vets, by Brian Beutler, at The Nation site.

Read about Vista at wikipedia, it's a fascinating system.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Al Franken For Senate

Al Franken has written three books, and I've enjoyed them all. Franken's work with AirAmerica was a breath of fresh air in these troubling "conservative" times. Franken seems to really care about America and Americans, and not so much about phony "values" and protecting corporate interests who are screwing the citizenry.

Ronald Reagan made intelligence a dirty word, and people like Norm Coleman (a rather smart fancy-pants himself) got elected on the "I'm just a regular stoopit guy like you" bandwagon. Coleman is a New York Jew who moved to Minnesota and has done a disservice to America by promoting a flimsy "conservative" agenda rooted in the dismantling of our once-great government and the total deregulation of industry. Small-minded folks like Coleman want to keep us stoopit, isolated, and broke.

Well, Al Franken is a New York Jew who moved to Minnesota, too, and he isn't afraid to be smart and to say that we need smart people in office. Franken wants to restore America to its former greatness where budgets were balanced, children were educated, health care and medication was affordable, we ran the world, and we lived at peace with our neighbors. So, Franken is running for Senate.

I sent a campaign contribution, and you should, too! Click here to contribute.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

England Final Standings, Promotions and Relegations 2008

Manchester United are the English champions, as well as the European champions. Chelsea is runner-up in both competition, Arsenal finished third in the English premier league, with Liverpool just behind them in fourth place. All four teams will play in the 2008-2009 Champions league.

Everton finished fifth, which secures them a place in the 2008-2009 UEFA Cup tournament. Manchester City, under the management of Sven-Göran Eriksson, finished ninth, and have won a berth in the UEFA Cup through the Fair Play League. Tottenham and Portsmouth will also join City and Everton in the tournament.

Congratulations to all.

As I mentioned previously, Derby County, Birmingham, and Reading have been relegated from the top-flight Premier League to the Championship League. Derby was formed in 1884 at the Derbyshire County Cricket Club. They wanted to name themselves Derbyshire County FC, but the local football association forced them to shorten it to Derby County. This past season they amassed the lowest number of points (11 of a possible 114) of any team in Premier League history.

Which history, it must be said, is not that terribly long! The Premier League was formed in 1992 and is considered (at least by me) to be the finest soccer league in the world.

West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City, and Hull(the winners of the Championship League playoff) will spend the 2008-2009 season playing top-flight soccer in the Premier League. This means big money for each of these teams. West Brom was formed in 1878 by workers from Salter's Spring Works, and has been in the Premier League as recently as 2007. Hull, of course, is the home of the late Mick Ronson. Go Hull!

Colchester, Scunthorpe, and Leicester City drop from the Championship to League One (which is actually the third league level). When I started following the Premier League in 2000, Leicester was in the top-flight but dropped to the second in 2003, and now will play in the third. A sad drop for a team that traces its history back to the 1884 side known as Leicester Fosse.

Swansea, Nottingham Forest, and Doncaster (the winners of the League One playoff) will be promoted to the Championship, one step away from top-flight money! Forest has been in the top-flight as recently as 1998 and enjoys a history that stretches back to 1865, making them one of the oldest known teams in England. Doncaster beat Leeds United in their playoff, frustrating Leeds' attempt to comeback from years of tumbling out of the Premier League and down the tables.

Luton Town, Port Vale, Gillingham, and Bournemouth make the drop from League One to League Two. Luton Town was founded in 1885 and nicknamed The Hatters to commemorate the region's hat-making industry.

Milton Keynes Dons, Peterborough, Hereford, and Stockport (the winners of the League Two playoff) will move up to League One. The Dons are the former Wimbledon F.C. that were bought and moved from their home for the potentially more lucrative Milton Keynes stadium and support. They never dropped out of League play, having played in the Premier League as recently as 2000, and seem now to be back on the rise through the ranks of lower-level leagues.

Dropping out of League play into Non-League status are Wrexham and Mansfield Town.

The big winners moving from Non-League status to League Two are Aldershot Town and Exeter City (the winners of the Non-League playoff). Aldershot is made-up primarily of English players, with one from Wales and one from the Republic of Ireland, and are joined by two from Barbados, one from Jamaica, one from Montserrat, and the currently unknown, young and handsome Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz, from Venezuela. Exeter City returns to league play after five years in the Conference.

This Summer brings Euro 2008. England did not qualify. I might support The Netherlands, but haven't decided yet.

Until the English Premier League starts anew at the end of the Summer, I will focus on MLS and my New York Red Bulls! Go Red Bulls!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ugly, Stupid, Valueless Money

In the not too distant past, the United States was the greatest nation in the world. We were a world power. We commanded the respect of all. Now, we are a regional power that has not beaten a second-rate nation at war in decades, we are the laughing stock of the free world with our economic system based primarily on the industries of interest and incarceration, and our money is almost valueless.

It didn't used to be like this.

But, two terms of Reagan, one of Bush I, two of Clinton, and two of Bush II have made us pretty much nothing in the eyes of the world. I don't think there are any good jokes about us. We've become a rather dull lot.

And our money used to be valuable. But no longer.

It has always been ugly. Now it is worth half of what it was worth ten years ago, but they are adding colors to make it pretty.

I have visited some European countries, and I visited them before the Euro homogenized the money. You could travel short distances and the money from place to place was different colors and sizes. A large denomination note was larger than a small denomination note. It was so sensible.

I learned at a relatively young age (some time in the early 1970s) that American money was hard for blind people to use, because every denomination note was the same size, and there were no distinct marks for the blind to discern a single from a C-note.

Now, in 2008, a federal appeals court has ruled that our money discriminates against the blind because it is "impossible for them to distinguish the bills' value."

Imagine! It only took until 2008 for Americans to figure this out. Not only that, there were people in Court arguing against the notion! Which means that these people think that it's OK that blind people can't effectively use paper money. I can only assume that those people are Republicans!

So, now that we are getting prettier money, perhaps we will get more functional money, as well (not that it's worth much anyhow).

Court says money discriminates against blind people
Tue May 20, 11:08 AM ET

The U.S. discriminates against blind people by printing paper money that makes it impossible for them to distinguish the bills' value, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The ruling upholds a decision by a lower court in 2006. It could force the Treasury Department to redesign its money. Suggested changes have ranged from making bills different sizes to printing them with raised markings.
Read more at Yahoo! . . .

Perhaps, as my friend Mitzel once suggested, we could have a star-shaped, red white & blue, Judy Garland, three-dollar bill!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Obama-Clinton Ticket?

It sounds like a dream ticket, really: Barack Obama - Hillary Clinton. A person of color and a woman. You would think this would be a liberal's dream, a Democratic Party miracle. And it could happen. Neither or them are stupid and both could benefit from joining forces with the other.

I do not think Clinton would accept; but she might.

And they would lose. Perhaps by a landslide.

I prefer Obama over Clinton, because he is not yet tainted by the Presidency. Clinton is already in-with-the-in-crowd, as all First Families are. Once you are in that club, you are never kicked out.

Hillary Clinton is a member of a very special, very powerful, very exclusive club that has many members, and enjoys power undreamed by most human beings. There are privileges and business opportunities afforded members of this club that even the wealthiest human will never enjoy. Besides Mrs. Clinton, her husband President Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea, the members of the First Family Club include John Sheldon David Doud Eisenhower, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, Luci Baines Johnson, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Tricia Nixon Cox, Betty Ford, Michael Ford, Jack Ford, Steven Ford, Susan Ford Bales (nee Vance), Rosalynn Carter, Jack Carter, Chip Carter, Jeff Carter, Amy Carter, Nancy Reagan, Maureen Reagan, Michael Reagan, Patti Davis, Ron Reagan, Jr., George H. W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Jeb Bush, Neil Bush, Marvin Bush, Dorothy Bush Koch, President George W Bush, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush and Barbara Bush. When you read them individually, it sounds like a lot of people, but when you see how small a number that really is, you begin to realize that this is an exclusive group of people with access we will never know.

I believe this is a group of people who have been, generally, corrupted by power. The only people I would feel comfortable saying are people of integrity are Caroline Kennedy, and Jimmy and Ros Carter. Most of the rest of the group are unknown and the ones we do know about are folks I don't much care for.

I loved that Steve Ford invited Rod Stewart to the White House in the mid-seventies. It was an amusing story at the time.

The Clintons are members of this club that I hold in the same regard as the Bush family. Not a very high regard.

I believe that the only reason Hillary Clinton holds any elected office and has any chance at being elected President is because she was married to Bill Clinton. One might argue that she played an instrumental role in his becoming president, and I would never argue against that point. However, she would not be a Senator from New York if she hadn't been a member of a First Family, would not be a candidate for presidential nomination if she wasn't powerful within the Democratic Party, and would not have that power if she and Bill had not undermined the DNC with creation of the Democratic Leadership Committee (DLC).

It's no secret that I neither like nor trust Hillary Clinton. And it is because of the connections she has made as a member of the First Family Club that I think she should be shunned by Democrats across the country. She is the embodiment of the notion that "power corrupts."

Do I think Barack Obama is more qualified to be President? No. Nor do I think he is less qualified. I do know that he is not a member of the Former First Family Club so I believe his corruption is minuscule when compared to any Bush, Clinton, or Nixon. He is not a member of America's ruling elite. Clinton is.

So, Obama would probably benefit from having Clinton on the ticket, but they will lose.

Obama supporters are people who will vote for the Democratic nominee, whoever she is. Clinton supporters include Reagan Democrats and the so called "working-class," and they have stated again and again that race is an issue for them. There is no way a Reagan Democrat or a white working-class person is going to vote for a Black man. It just isn't going to happen.

So, although the majority of Democrats prefer Obama to Clinton, the racist arm of the Democratic Party (those who voted for Reagan and Bush II) will not support a black candidate. So, although registered Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans in the United States, the number of racist Democrats when combined with the number of registered Republicans far outnumbers open-minded, progressive Democrats. I fear that John McCain will be the next President, not because Democrats want to vote for a Republican, but because racists will not vote for Obama.

I am happy to be wrong about this.

Obama - ask Hillary first
by Thom Hartmann

The issue at hand for the Democratic Party for winning in ‘08 is not losing to McCain but losing to a divided Democratic party. The first thing Obama should do if nominated is put Hillary on the ticket. Will the Republicans have a field day with her on the ticket? Yes! Is their some bad blood in the water due to some negative campaign strategies on the part of the Clintons? Probably. Can Hillary be a tough fighter able to play tough allowing Obama to stay higher above the fray? Yes!

Howard Dean said a few months ago that the loser will be the most important person in the Democratic presidential run this year. Hillary's legacy in this 08 election could place her as the healer and bring together a united Democratic party. As a winning ticket they also move this country closer to healing the racial and misogynist undertones that still have roots. Can you picture Denver with Hillary's delegates close to half of all delegates demanding that she be included on the ticket? To some it's a crusade. If Hillary was the one out ahead - by just a little over half - wouldn't Obama supporters want the same? Obama's offer and Hillary's acceptance of an Obama/Clinton ticket hold the healing and the power to move this country in the direction of the real change in Washington that Obama talks about. First he must bring the Democrats back together again. Obama - ask Hillary first, by Thom Hartmann

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fossella Appears To Be Abandoning His Re-election Bid

Despite the personal mistakes I have made, I am touched by the outpouring of support and encouragement I have received from so many people. Their kind words and prayers during this difficult time mean more to me than I can express. And while many have urged me to run for re-election, I believe this course of action is best for my family and our community.
Fossella Is Said to Be Ending Re-election Bid

I live in Brooklyn, and I know many people from the area, and many who now live in Staten Island.

I know many liberals who have settled here from elsewhere, and many Reagan-Democrats-turned-Republican originally from Brooklyn who relocated to Staten Island to cash-in on the real estate boom and get away from the blacks and the yuppies; I know Jews and Catholics and Muslims and those with no religious affiliation; I know gay people and straight people and married people and single people; I know immigrants and native-born Americans, and I haven't heard one of them say that Fossella should run for re-election.

Every single person I have spoken to says the same thing: he's a hypocrite, he should step-down, he should get out of the way, he is hurting the party. So, I am not sure who these people are that Fossella says encourage him to run for re-election. Perhaps it's his staff who are urging him to run.

Fossella will never be punished for his behavior. Perhaps he will spend five days in jail for drunk-driving; but perhaps he will not. He will easily afford supporting his extra family, and will likely be allowed to use his Washington connections to work as a lobbyist, and will earn more money after being disgraced than he has as an elected official.

Unless those right-wingers who control the country (and insist they are concerned with family-values) decide to honor those values and shun him -- one of their own who has been exposed as a philanderer and a drunk, a common criminal.

Unlikely, I know, because they are all hypocrites; but just imagine for a moment that these right-wingers would turn on one of their own and leave him jobless and without any connections.

If you really are concerned about families and family-values, then people like Fossella are the last people you should vote for; Republicans are the last people you should vote for. The right-wing continually proves that they are all talk and no action when it comes to families and family-values.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ted Kennedy Follow-up

The New York Times is reporting a diagnosis for Ted Kennedy:

Tests indicated that Senator Edward M. Kennedy has a type of cancer known as a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, the upper left portion of his brain.
Senator Kennedy Has Malignant Brain Tumor

The treatment is a combination of radiation and chemotherapy; and according to the National Cancer Institute, the prognosis depends on the severity of the tumor, but is generally poor.

This is bad news for Kennedy and for America.

Ted Kennedy Remains Hospitalized

At seventy-six years old, Ted Kennedy has long outlived his three older brothers.

Although I never would have thought so in the late sixties and early-1970s, Kennedy has become an elder statesman, a politician whose longevity has proven to be good for all Americans at any point along the political spectrum. He has championed liberal ideas like education, social welfare, and civil rights, and at the same time championed conservative ideas like deregulation, militarism and, the NoChildLeftBehind debacle.

I have not always been a fan of Kennedy. His work to deregulate the airlines was the thin-edge-of-the-wedge that opened the door for what became known as Reaganomics: the myth that an unregulated marketplace will lead to riches for all. Then his challenge against President Carter in 1980, when Democrats held the White House and Carter was in dire need of strong, unified support.

Carter had inherited a disastrous post-war economy that had been mismanaged by Gerald Ford, he was struggling with the new Muslim insurgence in the Middle East, and had alienated a good percentage of the Democratic Party's liberal base by failing to support a woman's right to choose abortion.

Kennedy should have supported Carter, but instead saw weakness and launched a campaign for the nomination over a sitting President. But, Kennedy was (and is) unelectable to the office of President because of his involvement in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a staff worker who drowned inside the Senator's car after a drunken party in Chappaquiddick.

Kennedy had managed to rebuild his career after the Chappaquiddick incident, and could have become one of the nation's greatest king-makers if he had supported Carter. Instead, the unelectable Kennedy destroyed Carter's chances against a surging Ronald Reagan who was running on the new populism of so-called "conservatism" and his ego made him a spoiler. It was his vocal disdain for Carter that emboldened John Anderson to run as a third-party candidate and set the stage for Reagan's landslide. If Kennedy had stayed out of the race, Carter would have been re-elected and we would not today be suffering the failures of Reaganomics.

Kennedy was never criticized for his role in the 1980 election, nor for his complicity in the rise of neo-conservatism; but I believe this is a huge part of his legacy.

Kennedy suffered 'seizures' this past weekend. Nobody is calling it a stroke, but it seems as though that must be what has happened. Perhaps it is not as serious as it could be; perhaps the Senator can return to his work.

Perhaps not.

Fortunately, Massachusetts is governed by a Democrat; so if he should fail to regain his faculties the seat will likely remain in Democratic hands should a replacement be appointed.

The Kennedy family gives much to America. They are a huge clan that has spread-out across the nation and they carry with them the torches of charity, intellectualism, citizenry, and activism. They inspire people of every stripe and persuasion. They have been instrumental in electing Democrats and Republicans alike; another generation of them is involved in electoral politics; they manage and finance the Special Olympics; they are active in churches, schools, and hospitals from coast-to-coast. The Kennedy family has used its riches to make the world a better place.

And Ted Kennedy is the patriarch of the clan. He has much to be proud of; he has more to brag about than to be ashamed of.

And today he is stricken, and that is sad.

If we lose him, it will be a huge loss for all of America.

From AP via Yahoo: Length of Kennedy hospital stay raises questions

Monday, May 19, 2008

And speaking of marriage . . .

Overheard on the Internet:

My husband and I divorced over religious differences: He thought he was God, and I didn't.

A man on his deathbed gasped pitifully.
"Give me one last request, dear," he said to his wife.
"Of course, dear," his wife said softly.
"Six months after I die," he said, "I want you to marry Bob."
"But I thought you hated Bob," she said.
"I do!"

A man goes to see the Rabbi.
"Rabbi, something terrible is happening and I have to talk to you about it."
The Rabbi asks, "What's wrong?"
The man explains, "My wife is poisoning me."
The Rabbi, is surprised and asks, "How can that be?"
The man pleads, "I'm certain she's poisoning me, what should I do?"
The Rabbi offers, "Tell you what. Let me talk to her, I'll see what I can find out and I'll let you know."
A week later the Rabbi calls the man and says, "Well, I spoke to your wife on the phone for three hours. You want my advice?"
"Yes!" the man exclaims.
"Take the poison."

Thanks to Dave for sending these along!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Marriage Can Be Dull, But All Weddings Should Be Festive And Gay!

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of California struck down two laws that had limited marriages to a license between a man and a woman (generally, heterosexuals) exclusively. This ruling means that same-sex couples (generally, homosexuals) have a constitutional right to marry in California.

This is good news for homosexuals who want to marry and advocates of equal rights for all Americans.

This is bad news for the two Democrats still running for President, because now they will have to say aloud to all of America that they oppose gay marriage.

This is a very awkward situation for most liberals in America and many leftists. Liberals want to vote for the Democrat, and most likely will vote for whichever of the two is nominated, but it means you have to decide that it is OK to vote for someone who does not support gay marriage, or take the ultimate liberal stance of inaction and insist that the government shouldn't be in the marriage business in the first place and all marriage should be banned (which is like saying guns kill people so iron should not be mined). This position allows us to continue to support Hillary Clinton (the seeming gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender favorite) or Barack Obama (the secret agent for change).

As my readers know I am more offended by Clinton's position than Obama's because she so actively courts the 'gay vote' and 'gay money' while being clearly opposed to 'gay equality.' Obama doesn't really court the 'gay vote' and has never really been a 'friend of the gays.'

Irrespective of their homophobic positions, I am concerned about the injection of this divisive issue into the campaigning at this late date. John McCain will ride this issue directly into the hearts and wallets of every right-wing homophobe in America. Clinton and Obama, equally as homophobic as McCain in their position on the issue, cannot ride the same horse into conservative camps, lest they offend those of us who have decided to overlook their homophobic stance and vote for them anyhow.

If Clinton or Obama try to verbalize and capitalize upon the populist position (the anti-gay marriage position) they will show themselves as hypocrites. If Obama is really an agent of change then he should be supporting gay marriage, because that is an important change, and I believe, an inevitable change. If Clinton really does care about the millions of gay people who have supported her since 2000, then she really should be working to secure the right of same-sex couples to marry.

They could both be absolved of culpability in America's ongoing anti-gay movement if they advocated for abolishing marriage. But, that ain't gonna happen because marriage will always be licensed by the government and as long as same-sex couples are not allowed to marry, then the marriage laws are a failure.

But, neither the agent for change nor the GLBT heroine will be able to capitalize on this victory, because of their hypocrisy.

Look: you either support equal rights for homosexuals (who ARE taxpayers, after all), or you don't.

It's really not terribly complicated.

Take a stand, and have the courage of your convictions. Don't equivocate. And when you vote in November, remember that the Democratic Party has nobody in a leadership position who supports equal rights for homosexuals.

Perhaps it is time for homosexuals to join a party that will work for them.

California Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the dry cleaners . . .

You guessed it: Roy Pearson is back in the news and back in court.

Pearson is the Washington, D.C., attorney who sued a local dry cleaner for $67,000,000 (later reduced to $54,000,000) because they "lost his pants." The pants were never lost, were returned to Pearson, but he plodded on with his case, which was summarily dismissed after weeks (months?) of media attention.

Pearson was an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia and by showing such poor judgment with his lawsuit, his contract as a judge was not renewed. He lost his job. I guess there is somebody in Washington, D.C. that believes a judge should show good judgment and that Pearson lacked that characteristic. So he lost his job.

This, of course, was grounds for the litigious-by-nature Pearson to do what he does best: sue!

Pearson is suing for "wrongful dismissal." He says he was terminated because he was exposing corruption within the Office of Administrative Hearings, not because of his inability to show good judgment.

Read about it at the site:

Former judge from ‘pants suit’ sues for $1 million, old job back

I have written about Pearson:

Jerk Lawyer Abuses Citizens

Roy Pearson Administrative Jerk Update

The Pearson v. Dry Cleaners Trial Starts Today

The Pearson v. Dry Cleaners Trial Starts Today

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners - Day One Wrap

Pearson v. Custom Cleaners - Trial Over, Verdict Pending

Verdict Reached in Roy Pearson v. Custom Cleaners Trial

Can Roy Pearson, Jr., Really Lose His Job? I Hope So!

Roy Pearson Files Appeal In Pants Suit

Pearson Wins An Evil Victory

Oh, And By The Way . . . Roy Pearson Lost His Job

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Marriage Counselor

Overheard on the internet

A husband and wife came for counseling after 20 years of marriage. When asked what the problem was, the wife went into a passionate, painful tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the 20 years they had been married.

She went on and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and unlovable, an entire laundry list of unmet needs she had endured over the course of their marriage.

Finally, after allowing this to go on for a sufficient length of time, the therapist got up, walked around the desk and, after asking the wife to stand, embraced and kissed her passionately as her husband watched with a raised eyebrow. The woman shut up and quietly sat down as though in a daze.

The therapist turned to the husband and said, "This is what your wife needs at least three times a week. Can you do this?"

The husband thought for a moment and replied, "Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I fish."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Football (Soccer) Follies

The English Premier League ended its season this past Sunday and crowned Manchester United as champions. Chelsea made a good run at the end of the season, but a solid outing by ManUre in their final match against Wigan sealed the top spot.

As the lower divisions finish out their season there will be promotions and relegation. We know that that three Premier League teams to be relegated to the Championship will be Derby (who set a new record for futility by amassing only 11 points, the least number of points by a top-flight team - ever), Birmingham, and Reading.

When the lower division playoffs conclude, I will post all promotions and relegation.

In celebration of the end of the Premier League season, I offer this compilation from It is over a year old, but it's still very funny!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Odd News from Last Week

My favorite recent "odd" news stories of the past week:

Parking ticket paid

Prior to the proliferation of computerization throughout all government agencies, it used to be easy to ignore parking tickets, and many people did so for many decades. Often, if you were in otherwise good-standing, the parking tickets wouldn't even be an issue when you tried to renew your license or re-register a vehicle. These days you can't escape, and all parking tickets need to be paid.

In New York City, you can pay over a hundred dollars for a simple parking ticket (expired parking meter, street cleaning, etc.) and much more than that if you block a fire hydrant or active driveway. If your car is also towed, you are looking at payment of three hundred dollars or more to retrieve your vehicle.

This story from Houghton, Michigan, is charming in its simplicity.

Woman pays off 1976 parking ticket issued in Mich.
(from AP via Yahoo!)
Sun May 11, 3:44 AM ET

Police in this Upper Peninsula town had forgotten about the $1 parking ticket written on Sept. 1, 1976. But the woman who had found it on her windshield hadn't.

The ticket, a $20 bill and a note arrived at police headquarters last month in a plain white envelope with no return address.

The note read: "I always had good intentions of paying it. I put it aside and every once in a while I would come across it and said `someday I'm going to pay it.' Now I think it's time."

The fine for an unpaid meter violation increased to $5 after 72 hours, said Police Chief David Outinen, but it hadn't increased beyond that. He told The Daily Mining Gazette of Houghton that he couldn't remember someone making good on an unpaid ticket after so much time.

The woman apparently hopes her payment closes the matter. "Please don't try and track me down. I am a respectable lady," she wrote.

And, as you know, a "respectable lady" is never contacted by the authorities!

Read the original article here.

Men Charged for Using Bong

First, I never thought I'd see the work "bong" in a news story, at least as the word refers to drug paraphernalia. As teenagers, my siblings, friends, and I used a wide assortment of apparatus for smoking marijuana: standard upright bongs, gas masks, pipes, lab parts, tubes and pieces, various types of papers, etc., including the improvised toilet-paper roll with tinfoil, and the Tampax wrapper. The guys in this news story certain take the prize for most unique and difficult-to-obtain smoking device:

Men charged after skull dug up, used as bong
(from Reuters via Yahoo!)
Fri May 9, 1:27 PM ET

Authorities in Texas have filed corpse-abuse charges against two men who allegedly removed a skull from a grave and used it as a bong.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office confirmed on Thursday that misdemeanor abuse of corpse charges have been filed in the case.

One of the men allegedly told police they dug up a grave in an abandoned cemetery in the woods, removed a head from a body and smoked marijuana using the skull as a bong.

Police found the cemetery and a grave that had been disturbed but are still investigating the rest of the story, officials said.

(Reporting by Bruce Nichols)
Read the original article here.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Vito Fossella

I wrote about Vito Fossella earlier this week. He was arrested for drunk driving.

He's one of those "pillar of the community" types who got elected going on about "family values" and the such.

Fossella Admits to Extramarital Affair

Representative Vito J. Fossella, a Staten Island Republican who was arrested on May 1 in Alexandria, Va., and charged with drunken driving, issued a statement on Thursday acknowledging that he had had an extramarital affair with Laura Fay, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel, and that the two of them have a 3-year-old daughter together.
Keep reading at the New York Times site . . .

I really don't have anything to add. The stories speak for themselves.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

She Killed Him! That'll Show Him!

In these days of less-than-boring electoral politics, it is hard to take a break from the he-said-she-said fun and games that make America such a great, or at least amusing, place.

I must take a break though to discuss another rivalry, one slightly older than the rivalry currently eating the media.

Red Sox v Yankees: allegedly one of the oldest American rivalries.

Yankees-Red Sox argument ends in murder?

A New York Yankees' fan was accused on Monday of murdering a Boston Red Sox supporter and injuring another by running both down with a car after a heated argument over one of America's oldest sporting rivalries.

Ivonne Hernandez, 43, pleaded not guilty on Monday to reckless second-degree murder, aggravated driving while intoxicated and two counts of reckless conduct after the incident in a Nashua, New Hampshire parking lot last Friday.

Prosecutors say Hernandez was drunk when she drove her car across a dirt parking lot outside the Nashua City Hall into Matthew Beaudoin, 29, and Maria Hughes, 21, after exchanging words with them about the Yankees and Red Sox baseball teams.

Read more.

So, let me get this straight: some people are drinking in a bar, they argue about sports, then one kills another over the dispute.

Perhaps the Democrats could learn something from this!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Indiana and North Carolina

If either of the candidates (Clinton or Obama) takes both states, it would likely secure the nomination.

At this writing, North Carolina has been declared for Obama and the networks are leaning toward calling Indiana for Clinton.

If they split the states, which we'll know by sunrise (while I am asleep), then it's on to West Virginia, May 13th, and a victory there would still not necessarily net a clear winner. So, then it would be off to Kentucky and Oregon, May 20th.

This is the way the nomination process is supposed to work: candidates (viable or popular or not) stumping in every state to convince the voters throughout the country to vote for them.

I like this election.

Follow-up at 6:45 A.M.

Obama won NC decisively (58%-42%) and Clinton won IN narrowly (51%-49%).

Clinton took a total of 75 delegates. Obama took a total of 91 delegates.

According to NPR this morning, voters in the two states broke-down statistically as follows:

Blacks, younger voters, and voters with a college education voted overwhelmingly for Obama; while white, older working class voters without a college education voted for Clinton.

Obama announced that he needs only 200 more delegates to clinch the nomination; and Clinton announced that the deadlock has been broken. I actually don't know what those remarks mean because I don't know how to count the delegates versus super-delegates while considering whether the Democratic Leadership Committee will sue to have Michigan and Florida delegates seated and counted. If it's simply a matter of counting votes and delegates, then it looks like Obama is poised to take the nomination; but, if the DLC has it decided by a judge (or judges) then it appears that Clinton will take the nomination. I think I prefer the former, not because I prefer Obama, but because I think that is how voting is supposed work (but I can be so old-fashioned about electoral politics).

Congratulations to both candidates, and now it's of to West Virginia (28 delegates), Kentucky (51), Oregon (52), Puerto Rico (55), Montana (16), and South Dakota (15)!

Oh! And in case you were wondering what happened in Guam on May 3rd, Clinton and Obama each received two of the four delegates: they split the Territory 50-50.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Who Cares About International Law?

Ben Cohen, writing at the Huffington Post, points out that Hillary Clinton's remark that "In the next 10 years, during which [Iran] might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them. . . . " is a violation of International Law.

There is no doubt that we can obliterate a sovereign nation. In fact, we are the only nation in the history of humanity to obliterate anything. For those of you who've forgotten, the United States dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities in the middle of the last century. No other nation has ever wrecked such havoc or destruction. So, Senator Clinton speaks accurately when she discusses our ability (maybe even our penchant) to destroy others.

What is surprising is her admission that she sees this as a valid option.

Now, I'm sure that Clinton meant something else, because she always does mean something else (especially when she says something idiotic -- when she misspeaks). Hell, we all do! We all meant to say something else when we say something stupid. But not all of us are running for President! Not all of us are going to have access to weapons of mass destruction. (Remember, no other nation has the military stockpile that we have.)

Mr. Cohen's article discusses the United States Constitution and the United Nations Charter (documents that mean little to the Senator, I'm sure) and how such a remark stands in stark contrast to the basic tenets that make (well, made) America a once-great nation.

There will be elections today.

It would be best for Democrats if this issue were battled-out in the primary so that it is old news in the general election, because even a militaristic wacko like McCain can go to town on these remarks.

How did Hillary Clinton go from being admirable to being this? When did she stop caring about international law and our standing in the world?

Read Cohen's article here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Another Elected Official Drunk Behind The Wheel

Vito J. Fossella is a Republican elected official representing Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. He is the only Republican in the Washington delegation from New York City. He consistently votes the Bush party line, which directly ignores the needs of his constituents.

Fossella is the type of guy you can regularly hear expounding on one moral issue or another: sex, drugs, abortion, fags, Arabs, war, the standard red-herring crap that allows him to stir-up emotion while ignoring the real issues of the day.

Of course, like most Republicans he believes that those moral issues apply to everyone but himself.

Fossella Is Charged With Drunken Driving
WASHINGTON — Representative Vito J. Fossella of New York was arrested early Thursday morning in a Washington suburb and charged with driving while intoxicated, the police said.

Mr. Fossella, the only Republican member of Congress from New York City, released a statement through his office acknowledging what he called an error in judgment.
Read the entire article at the New York Times site.

In the article, he goes on to invoke his family, as Republicans always do to move the spotlight off their transgressions.

The media fall for it, of course, because it is in their interest to keep Republicans in office. It is Republicans who will keep deregulating the communications industry and allow companies like the Times and News Corporation to buy up all of what's left of America's free press.

But, this doesn't mean you have to fall for this crap!

Fossella should be removed from office immediately. There are two Democrats working to unseat him, and if you cannot vote for them then you should consider sending them money:

Steve Harrison, a lawyer from Brooklyn, ran a good campaign against Fossella in 2006. You can find his site here. Harrison probably stands the best chance of unseating Fossella.

City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia Jr., of Brooklyn, has joined in a Democratic primary with Harrison for the right to run against Fossella in the upcoming election. You can find contact information for Recchia here. Recchia's ethnic background might play well with the voters who elected Fossella.

Either will be better than Fossella, so please consider supporting one or both of them.

Friday, May 02, 2008

London Times 2008 Rich List

Did you know that there are wealthy people in England?

People with names like Lakshmi Mittal, Sri Hinduja, Alisher Usmanov, Kirsty Bertarelli, Hans Rausing, Sean Quinn, Nicky Oppenheimer, and Slavica Ecclestone, are all worth well over a billion dollars (actually most of them are worth more than five billion dollars).

The world's rich tend to be people I've never heard of. Sure, there's Warren Buffet, Roman Abramovich, Bill Gates, and the like, and I have heard of them, but most of the world's wealthy are rather anonymous people.

And good for them!

The Times of London has published its 2008 list of the rich:

2008 Rich List of the Sunday Times

Are you on the list?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Exxon/Mobil Reports $10.9 Billion Profits For 1st Quarter 2008

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, said Thursday record crude prices helped its net income grow 17 percent in the first quarter, but the results came in below Wall Street forecasts.
Exxon Mobil 1Q profit up 17 pct, Wall Street expected more

Gas prices continue to climb and Exxon/Mobil's nearly eleven billion dollars profit (for a single fiscal quarter) are considered a disappointment.

Things are out of whack here.

Gas prices will continue to climb as long as $2.00+ a share is considered bad performance and eleven billion dollars is a disappointment.

It is not the job of the American people or their government to ensure that oil companies maintain a particular rate of profitability. At some point, shareholders have to expect that two bucks a share is dramatically better than the raise realized by most working Americans.

And it is not the wages of the secretaries, drillers, truck drivers and other workers that are cutting into profits. One only need look at the salaries and stock options of the C-level executives to see the source of the problem.

Gas prices will only stabilize and lower when the demand goes down. As long as we are all driving to the corners store, to church, to school and to work instead of walking or using public transportation, then gas prices will continue to sky-rocket. Supply and demand is controlled by the consumers.

We must make better choices. We must reduce out consumption of energy.

Park your car -- take a walk!