Friday, June 27, 2008

Humor: The Alcoholic's Dream

An alcoholic sees a lamp at the end of the bar. He walks down and rubs it. Out pops a genie who says, "I will give you three wishes."

The man thinks awhile. Finally he says, "I want a beer that never is empty."

The genie makes a poof sound and on the bar is a bottle of beer. The man starts drinking it and right before it is gone, it starts to refill.

The genie asks, "Wat are your next two wishes?"

The alcoholic says, "I want two more of these."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Can you wear white shoes to a funeral?

When "conservative" Republican Vito J. Fossella got caught breaking the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the moral teachings of the Catholic church he allegedly holds in such high regard, the sanctity of his marriage (marriage that conservatives like Fossella want to deny decent, tax-paying gay people) was called into question.

And when the adulteress with whom he fathered a bastard child was exposed as the home-wrecker she is, then he had to step-down from his elected seat in Washington and might actually have to find real work.

(I love writing in that heavy-handed moral tone the conservatives like to use to demean those weaker than them and to smear liberals.)

His scum-bag-edness, Fossella, and his cronies in the Staten Island Comedy Club, I mean the Staten Island Republican Party, had to find a viable candidate to try and keep the seat in GOP hands.

A guy whose name didn't end in a vowel found himself at the front of the pack and that guy is now dead. Nice group of vital, important, moral, upstanding citizens the GOP has over there in Staten Island.

I wonder: Can you wear white shoes to a funeral?

Ever been to Staten Island?

It's not all bad. There are some very nice people there.

Spend an afternoon at the Staten Island Mall, though, and you will be amazed as you watch people of every age group, whose heritage hearkens back to a certain Mediterranean country, doing live re-enactments of "The Sopranos," "The Godfather," and "Scarface."

If it wasn't so sad that these people are living-out this Hollywood stereotype in all their spare time between haircuts, shopping, piercings, tattoos, and chewing the Body of Christ, it might be funny.

But enough with the derision!

Some Irish guy named Frank Powers found himself poised as the GOP candidate in the race to replace Fossella in Congress. At some level he must have had the support (tacit or not) of those controlling the Grand Old Party in Staten Island, and one can only assume that he did something to piss-off the wrong guy, because he has had a heart attack and is no longer the candidate.

Perhaps he only pissed-off God. Perhaps God really wants a phony "conservative" whose name ends in a vowel to represent his people in Staten Island.

I wonder: Can you wear white shoes to a funeral?

OK! Enough with the stereotypes. I don't really think the Italian guys running the Staten Island GOP had anything to do with Powers' heart attack; but, it's just too perfect to resist the obvious innuendo!

Let's get back to trashing "conservatives"!

Did you hear the one about the Staten Island conservative Catholic guy who was happily married with a lovely family and went to Washington to be a Congressman? Never mind, it isn't funny.

This guy Fossella is so morally upstanding and so in love with family values that he can't get enough families! I guess there is greater value in having multiple families. One here, one there, one everywhere!

But wait! Fossella shuns not only the good Roman Catholic family of a lovely bride and three lovely children that was blessed by the church, he shuns the family from which he hails!

That's right! His own mother and father and at least one of his siblings.

Fossella will not attend family events at which his sister, a lesbian woman, is present. This guy is so bought and sold that he's abandoned his own flesh and blood for power! There's an Al Pacino movie here somewhere and it's not a nice one where the Italian mobsters get to whack all the bad guys; it's a movie about Satan buying and selling the souls of those in love with power. And Fossella doesn't get the starring role! He's the idiot schmuck who accepts the devil's deal and sacrifices . . . oh, I don't know . . . his babies eyes or his sister or something like that.

In the end he dies a miserable death, and I think to myself: Can you wear white shoes to a funeral?

So, let's see . . . this guy is blessed with three families: (1) the family created by his parents which isn't good enough for him because one of his siblings is a homosexual, (2) the family he built himself under the auspices of a Catholic union which he shuns because he has a hotter piece of ass in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and (3) an adulteress who has given him (thank God) a lovely child.

There's a lot of family value there. You shop at Costco, buy everything near wholesale, and you get great family values! Or, does he mean Family values, as in The Family. You know, the stereotypical Family presented by Hollywood. What kind of value does he get from that Family?

And I wonder: Can you wear white shoes to a funeral?

Do you think he hits his wives? I'll bet he does. Most of those macho family values types are bullies. And I want to know about his boyfriend, too! Do you think it's a guy from high school he's been doing for thirty years, or do you think he likes the street urchins and drag queens on Christopher Street? I can't wait for that piece of dirt to come out. And you know it will.

Just pray to Jesus (our Lord and Savior) that Fossella doesn't come out. How tedious would that be? Another Republican elected official exposed as a homosexual who hates homosexuals! Hopefully he'll stay in the closet and just be a piece of trade. But it's so predictable that it will probably happen.

Would I stop picking on him then? Would I stop saying nasty things about him if he came-out and tried to make amends for his hideous self? Probably. But maybe not.

Anyhow . . . I meant to write an article about the race to replace Fossella in Congress, and I think it's important to present an analysis based on the facts of the campaign . . .

. . . but, fuck it . . . let's just trash Fossella! He's a piece of shit and it's much more fun to call him names and demean him on the Internet! Kick him while he's down; that's what he's done to homosexuals and liberals all his life. He's a friggin' bully!

Hey Vito: Can you wear white shoes to a funeral?

Death Creates More Turmoil in S.I. Congressional Race

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Elect A Democratic Senate

The Republicans constantly complain about Democrats getting in the way of progress. This has always been a lie, of course; and now we know that the Republicans never want anything to change, unless it benefits corporate interests over consumer interests.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pin-pointed eleven races where Senate seats could go in favor of Democrats.

I received this letter via email:

Senate Republicans have already set an all-time record for most filibusters in one Congress - 76 and counting. Just last week, they added to that record by blocking Democratic efforts to tax the oil companies' windfall profits.

Every important issue - from getting our troops out of Iraq to global climate change to health care - goes through the Senate. And on virtually every one, Republicans are obstructing the Democratic agenda and standing in the way of progress.

You've helped the DSCC over the last 18 months build a strong campaign organization to elect a gridlock-proof majority. Because of your efforts, we have an amazing opportunity to pick up Senate seats in as many as 11 states this fall. That's twice as many as we won in 2006.

The scope of our national campaign is truly breathtaking, so I wanted to give you - one of our top supporters - a state-by-state breakdown of some of this year's Senate battlegrounds states.

I'm not even including five more states where strong Democratic candidates are mounting serious challenges: Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. I guarantee we'll be talking a lot more about those races before November.

Even National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Sen. John Ensign sees the writing on the wall. Just this week he said that losing only three Senate seats would be a "terrific night" for the Republicans. When our opponents are talking about losing seats as their best-case scenario, you know that Democrats are poised for big things.

Don't be fooled; there's still a whole lot of work to do between now and Election Day. But right now, we're poised to make history.

J.B. Poersch

Open Seats - Currently held by Republicans

Rep. Mark Udall (D) vs. Rep. Bob Schaffer (R)

Mark Udall's campaign has gotten off to a roaring start, raising money, launching TV ads, and gaining support in the polls. He's building on a decade-long record of results, including leading the charge to convert the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant into a clean and vibrant wildlife refuge.

Meanwhile, Schaffer has spent the last few months dealing with revelations that a tropical vacation was bought and paid for by a front group for convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The DSCC will make sure every Colorado voter knows all about it when they head to the polls on Election Day.

New Mexico
Rep. Tom Udall (D) vs. Rep. Steve Pearce (R)

Earlier this month, Pearce emerged victorious from a contentious Republican primary, thanks to help from anti-government zealots at Club for Growth. Now, our right-wing opponents have their sights set on Tom Udall, Mark's cousin, who is running ahead in the polls. Udall has already launched two campaign ads and has built a larger campaign war chest than both Republican candidates - combined.

Even Sen. Ensign, the national chair of the Republican Senate campaign, thinks Pearce will lose. He told reporters last week that New Mexico is a low priority for him and that the party shouldn't waste money on races they can't win.

However, we cannot get complacent. The early polls show that New Mexico is all but certain to be a key battleground state in the presidential election and will get plenty of attention from all corners. The DSCC's job is to make sure neither the Club for Growth or any other third-party organizations can't sink our chances.

Gov. Mark Warner (D) vs. Gov. Jim Gilmore (R)

Mark Warner left the Virginia governor's mansion with an 80% job approval rating. He is consistently polling ahead of Gilmore by double digits, and he holds a whopping $5 million cash-on-hand advantage. Just last week, Warner launched his campaign's first TV ad, focusing on his record of bipartisan problem-solving. He's even earned endorsements from two Republican former state legislators.

Needless to say, this is one of our best pick-up opportunities this cycle.

Sitting Incumbents

Sen. Ted Stevens (R) vs. Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D)

You don't find a vulnerable 40-year incumbent every day. But ethics and corruption charges have wreaked havoc on the Alaska Republican Party and put Sen. Stevens on the ropes. Mark Begich is well-known statewide and recent polling pegs his favorability rating at 58%. Some public surveys even show Begich holding a slight lead in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to defeat a 7-term incumbent.

Our chances here are buoyed by a recent DSCC poll that shows Alaska will be a presidential battleground state. Barack Obama trailed by only 2 points. That's amazing if you consider that John Kerry lost here by 25 points in 2004. Obama is sure to pour plenty of resources into the state, and that can only help Begich stay competitive.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) vs. Bruce Lunsford (D)

Sen. McConnell knows he's in trouble. As Republican Minority Leader, he's the one blocking progress on all the key issues, from health care to global warming to the housing crisis. His schtick just isn't tolerated any more, even in a conservative state like Kentucky.

Bruce Lunsford, on the other hand, is a life-long Kentucky business leader who has created more than 60,000 new jobs. The polls between him and McConnell are still close, even though the incumbent has already poured more than $2 million into campaign ads to rehab his image.

Six months ago, no one thought Kentucky would be competitive. But we've got the right candidate and the right strategy, and we're going to send a clear message to our opponents by taking the fight right to their leadership.

Sen. Susan Collins (R) vs. Rep. Tom Allen (D)

Sen. Collins likes to portray herself as some kind of moderate, but the truth is that she's always been a reliable vote for George Bush's failed policies. She even voted in favor of an open-ended American commitment in Iraq by opposing a timetable for withdrawal. Now, Tom Allen is ready to hold her accountable for her steady support of Bush.

Sen. Norm Coleman (R) vs. Al Franken (D)

Minnesota Republicans underestimated Al Franken. The polls show this race to be a dead heat, and Franken has begun to show a slight fundraising advantage against Sen. Coleman. He'll need that edge to win in November.

It's a good thing too. Coleman has proven himself to be out of touch with Minnesota voters, having voted with George Bush 86% of the time, including key votes in support of the Iraq war and drilling in ANWR.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R) vs. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D)

Let's be honest. Earlier this year, the pundits didn't give us a chance at putting a Democrat into Trent Lott's old seat. But a huge Democratic victory in a recent special congressional election has the prognosticators changing their tune. Now, Ronnie Musgrove leads in the latest polling, and Sen. Wicker, having only served for 6 months, doesn't have all the usual incumbent advantages. This one could be primed for an upset.

New Hampshire
Sen. John Sununu (R) vs. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D)

The Granite State has been trending Democratic for years and is now one of our best pick-up opportunities. Jeanne Shaheen has been hammering Sen. Sununu for standing with the Bush administration and holds a sustained lead in a series of polls. She even out-raised the entrenched incumbent in the most recent campaign filings - no mean feat.

The DSCC has been tracking this race from the beginning. We've already launched an online ad campaign to show New Hampshire voters how Sununu accepted $220,000 in campaign money from the oil and gas industries, even though we all are suffering through record-breaking prices at the pump.

New Hampshire is another presidential battleground state and the Senate race will go right down to the wire. The work we do here won't just add to our Senate seat haul, it will also help put Barack Obama into the White House.

North Carolina
Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) vs. State Sen. Kay Hagan (D)

Pundits called this one the sleeper race of the cycle because Sen. Dole wasn't supposed to be vulnerable. But Kay Hagan has been surging after winning the Democratic primary. Several polls showed her within striking distance or even slightly ahead of the incumbent.

Dole panicked and quickly rushed to launch a statewide TV campaign. She's got a huge campaign war chest, so this is sure to be just the start of Dole's efforts to rehab her image. The DSCC's job is to level the playing field and give Hagan everything she needs to keep fighting.

Sen. Gordon Smith (R) vs. State Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley (D)

There's no need to wait any more for the Senate races to get going. In Oregon, we're already at full-throttle. Before last month's Democratic primary was even settled, Sen. Smith launched an attack ad targeting Jeff Merkley. Immediately, the DSCC jumped to respond to the attacks with a TV ad of our own. We won't cede an inch in this already hard-fought race.

This might be the hottest Senate race in the country right now, and it's only going to get hotter. Obama polls strongly in Oregon and the momentum around electing a Democratic president is sure to spill over to other races. With a little luck, we'll send Merkley to Washington as part of a gridlock-proof majority who end Republican obstructionism. Stay tuned.


We have a historic opportunity this year to build a gridlock-proof majority. But there are twice as many states as 2006 where we'll need to deploy last-minute campaign resources to win. Your contribution, when combined with thousands of others, can give us everything we need to be ready to take advantage of every opening.

Click here to make an immediate, secure contribution. The DSCC made a huge difference in 2006. We need your help to do it again in 2008.


Let's wrest control of Congress away from Republican senators who vote only to protect the interests of coroprations while eliminating protections for working people.

Join the DSCC and/or get more information by going to their site.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin, 71

George Carlin's LP "FM & AM" was in my record collection from the moment it was released in 1972.

Back before the proliferation of cable television and the invention of the Internet, you heard new comedy two ways: live or on vinyl. There were some AOR radio stations that would play cuts from comedy records, but they were constrained by broadcast rules that in 1972 were almost as draconian as they are today. And television variety shows would allow comics a three-minute routine prior to an interview to plug a tour or an album, but the three-minutes was always sanitized.

The FCC had drawn a line in the sand, and no network was going to cross it. Carlin approached that line, looked at it with contempt and obliterated it. He picked-up the mantle thrown aside when Lenny Bruce died and he carried it with the brilliance of a prophet.

The huge success of "FM & AM" led to the almost-immediate release of his more popular "Class Clown" LP, which also landed in my record collection upon release.

"Class Clown" crossed lines that only Richard Pryor had dared to approach in recordings, and included his famous routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television."

This wonderful routine was broadcast by WBAI radio, part of the Pacifica chain, in 1972, and the FCC received a complaint. The FCC warned the station that further use of vulgarity in their broadcasts could lead to sanctions. Pacifica appealed the decision to the US Court of Appeals, who sided with the broadcast outlet and overturned the FCC's ruling. The FCC then appealed the case to the Supreme Court and the highest court ruled in favor of the FCC and the case led to the formal establishment of decency rules for broadcast (which rules, you might have noticed, are enforced selectively and always against entertainers who are outside the mainstream).

The prosecution of the case opened the floodgates for comedians like Pryor, who's 1974 release "That Nigger's Crazy" compares to Carlin's "Class Clown" in the social commentary department. The Court may have ruled against Carlin's routine, but the broadcast and entertainment worlds were changed forever because of it.

Carlin's routines were hysterical. His 11:00 news broadcast (from FM & AM") includes an appearance by the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman, and a sports broadcast that includes the line (paraphrased here): "And now for a partial score: New York 9." If you have not heard this routine, you must. It holds-up to the test of time.

Carlin's "Stuff" routine seems to have been included in every tour, in some form or another. He explains: "My stuff is stuff, and your stuff is shit. So, move your shit to make some room for my stuff." I do it no justice in this article and you must see it if you have not.

His quick-tongue delivery and brilliant affectations were a joy to watch.

Later stage performances suffered a little when routines informed by his theophobia and disdain for his Catholic heritage exposed a hatred seemingly rooted, like the experience of so many American Catholics, in innuendo and tales rather than personal adventures. Still, he would deliver discussions of sexuality, drugs, politics, manners, and social mores that made even the most uptight viewer laugh out loud. Carlin broke all the rules and the world is a better place for it.

At the shrine of George Carlin, let there be engraved in marble the seven words (common to everyone) that became his alone: "shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits." Nobody delivered that line like Carlin and anyone hearing that line knows the provenance.

It's odd to have such a brilliant mind remembered for such a seemingly shallow line, but that line changed the world (for better or worse), and we should all be grateful to Carlin for forcing the dialog about vulgarity.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Big Oil and Big Government - Follow The Money is urging citizens to contact their elected representatives in Washington about current Administration plans to allow off-shore oil-drilling and exploration in the Alaskan wildlife regions.

My elected officials (Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Rep. Anthony Weiner) have all accepted money from Big Oil, and their voting records show it (even if not as boldly as some other elected officials).

Clinton votes pro-Oil 22% of the time, Schumer 25% of the time, and Weiner only 9% of the time. There is no hope for Clinton, she is so deep into the pockets of the oil companies that she will never be brought back into the fold of supporting Democratic principles. Schumer and Weiner might be convinced to abandon the Big Oil cartel, though; and I will encourage them by promising to vote for them if they will promise to abandon Big Oil.

I will never again vote for Clinton, so I don't care what she does.

You can take action. Follow the link below to "Follow The Money" and see how your congressional delegation votes and how much money they accept from Big Oil, then send them the message urging them to oppose off-shore drilling. Then spread the word to your friends.

Follow The Money

If we don't take action, nobody will.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Plenty Of Money For Stadia. But What About The Schools?

Yet again, Michael Bloomberg shows the citizens of New York City that his primary interest is funding private ventures and not schools, infrastructure, or public transit.

Bloomberg has the balls to support $350,000,000 in tax-exempt financing to build not schools, bridges, subways, hospitals, or roads, but to build a stadium owned by billionaires!

I am totally opposed to using ANY public funds for the construction of ANY stadium. We'll build the roads that lead to the stadium, and run the water and sewer lines to and from the stadium (as we do for any citizen), but for the rest of it, let the stadium owners pay.

The Working Families Party of New York is not standing-by quietly. They sent me the following email, and I took the action they requested.

Dear WFP Supporter,

Enough! That was the reaction of thousands of New Yorkers last Thursday to the news that Mayor Bloomberg is working behind the scenes in Washington to secure up to an additional $350 million in tax-exempt financing for the Yankees' new stadium.1

Bloomberg and the Bronx Bombers have teamed up to reverse a very sensible IRS rule. It says private sports teams should not have access to tax-free bond money meant for public development projects.2

If they succeed, other sports teams in NYC, and around the country, could see billions more in public money heading their way.

Luckily, not all politicians are rolling over for Steinbrenner and Bloomberg. State Assemblymen Ruben Diaz Jr., Hakeem Jeffries, and Jose Peralta are raising important questions that boil down to this: With funding needed for schools, healthcare, and mass transit, why on earth are we still talking about more corporate welfare for billion dollar sports teams?3

Momentum is on our side, but we need to make sure Mayor Mike gets his priorities straight.

Click below to send a letter to Mayor Bloomberg, asking him to keep public money going where it belongs:

If we can send thousands of letters to the Mayor, we can show him the public isn't behind another big subsidy for a team that doesn't need it.

Nothing says New York like the Yankees, and lots of Working Families voters are big fans. But Bloomberg's latest giveaway to Steinbrenner and friends could cost $83 million in state, local, and federal tax dollars.4 That's on top of $800 million in taxpayer money the stadium project has already received.5

Worst of all, the Yankees don't even need the money. They are one of the most profitable franchises in all of sports, and are on track to open their new stadium in 2009, with or without the new bonds.6

It makes you wonder, of all the things New York City's Mayor should be asking Washington's help for (like federal money to expand subway service or build new affordable housing), why is Mike prioritizing ill-advised public subsidies for a team that doesn't need them?

When it opens, we'll be there cheering as loud as ever in the new Yankee Stadium. But we'll never root for corporate welfare.

Take 20 seconds right now to make sure Mayor Mike knows how New York feels:

That's all for now.
Bertha Lewis, Bob Master, Sam Williams
WFP Co-Chairs
Dan Cantor
WFP Executive Director
1"A Question Mark Looms Over 3 Expensive Projects" New York Times, June 13, 2008
2"A Question Mark Looms Over 3 Expensive Projects" New York Times, June 13, 2008
3"No More Stadium Tax Breaks, Pols Howl" Daily News, June 12th, 2008
4According to New York City's Independent Budget Office.
5"Taxpayer Subsidies for the New Yankee Stadium and Parking Garages" Good Jobs New York
6"New York State Assembly Questions Yankee Stadium Funding" AP, June 13, 2008


You can sign the letter by clicking this link: Send the Mayor your Message: Schools, Not Stadiums

Thursday, June 19, 2008 and John McCain

John McCain is on the attack! It's hunting season and he's got the Presidency in his scope. McCain will run a very effective, very Republican, very anti-American campaign, as have all Republican candidates since Richard Nixon. Because they can't run on the issues and their records, they run smear campaigns and fabricate issues that pull at America's heart strings.

McCain plans to keep America in Iraq for 100 years. That means he plans to use my child, grandchild, great-grandchild, and possibly my great-great grandchild, as fodder for this immoral war. He wants you to sacrifice your children, too. plans a campaign to counter McCain's advertising blitz in swing states, and they say they need your help to pay for it.

It's important to place McCain's plan in personal context. Some people allegedly say they support the War in Iraq, so let's make sure they they are willing to sacrifice their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to McCain's war. This advertisement makes that perfectly clear.

It might be worth sending them a few bucks. Current Campaigns

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Million For Marriage

While America makes progress, slowly but surely, in granting equal protection under the law to all its tax-paying citizens, there are fringe lunatics working to deny homosexuals the right to marry.

Fringe lunatics are gathering signatures to overturn the California Supreme Court's rational decision that denying homosexuals the right to marry is unconstitutional. These fringe lunatics also want a Constitutional amendment to ban marriage between two consenting adults.

All of the living elected presidents of the United States and their spouses are opposed to gay marriage, as are the two men who will face-off in the general election to become the next president, and their spouses. So the fringe lunatics spread deep into the mainstream, but the Carters, Reagans, Bushes, Clintons, McCains, and Obamas, are not the majority.

This minority of wackos, from Bill Clinton to Fred Phelps, must be stopped.

The majority of Americans believe that homosexuals should have the right to marry.

And you are part of that majority.

The Human Rights Campaign is collecting signatures in support of the rights of homosexuals to marry.

Please sign their petition: A Million For Marriage

Thanks to Ted for sending this along!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I watched Game 5 of the NBA playoffs on Sunday night.

I considered it all day before actually tuning-in. I stopped being an NBA fan in the late 80s when I tired of Michael Jordan traveling and the officials never calling the infraction. Now it seems the NBA traveling rule has been erwritten to read: the more famous you are, the more steps you can take.

In the NBA, officials use "fouls" (illegal physical contact between players) as a way to control the flow and outcome of the game, and the league itself controls further the flow of the game with the insertion of television timeouts. Stoppage in play to accommodate commerce in the advertising industry.

Before tuning in, I assumed that the Los Angeles Lakers would win this match. The league (NBA) and the network (Disney) would instruct the officials to call the game in favor of the Lakers. This way, the Los Angeles fans would be happy to go home with a victory, the Celtics could win the championship in Boston, and (most importantly) the series would extend another game, generating a substantial income.

The "series" is the problem here. Why must the Lakers and the Celtics play seven games to determine which team is better? And why did the Celtics have to play ANY games after the season ended to prove they were the best team in the East?

The notion of playing a series to determine a champion is rooted in the legacy of baseball. A baseball team playing in competition is comprised of eight players and a pitcher. Each team has (generally) five pitchers in their rotation, so to see an adequate battle between the league champions, the teams should play a game with each of those pitchers plying his trade. Logically, the champion of Major League Baseball would be determined in a best-of-five series.

Basketball has no such division of talent. The same five guys make-up the core of the team, and those five guys play every game. There is not need to play multiple games in order to see which team is better.

So, I wasted three hours watching Game 5 of the NBA finals, knowing that the Lakers wuold win. And sure enough, all the fouls were called to LA's advantage, and fouls not called to the Celtics advantage were blatantly obvious. By suspending my grasp of reality, though, I was able to get excited now and then. All-in-all, though, it was a very boring experience, and it was aggravated by the constant intrusion of commercials during the game.

So, the series returns to Boston tonight where the Celtics will try to bring their incredible season to a fruitful conclusion.

Go Celtics! (I guess.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

No Intergenerational Marriage For This Man

Which reminds me of a joke:

A 92-year-old man is having his annual physical.

"Doctor," he exclaims. "I have wonderful news!"

"Tell me," the doctor insists.

"After my last physical you told me to get more exercise, to have more vitality. So, I bought myself a Russian bride! She is 27-years-old, stunningly beautiful, loves me deeply, satisfies my every whim, and promises to stay with me forever."

"That's great," says the doctor.

"It gets better," says the man. "She is pregnant and we are going to have a baby. What do you think of that?"

"I know an elderly gentlemen," explained the doctor. "He likes hunting, has done it every weekend of his life. He's getting a bit senile, but refuses to give-up his passion. Last weekend, instead of grabbing his rifle as he left for the hunt, he grabbed an umbrella. He strode through the forest with a group of other hunters and suddenly spied a rabbit. He lifted the umbrella, aimed carefully, popped the umbrella open, and the rabbit fell dead in its tracks. What do you think of that?"

"I think," the man said thoughtfully. "That somebody else killed that rabbit."

"Precisely!" Exclaimed the doctor.

Egypt bans 92-year-old's marriage

By Frances Harrison
BBC News

The Egyptian authorities have banned a 92-year-old man from marrying a 17-year-old girl, the Egyptian al-Akhbar newspaper has reported.

The ministry of justice invoked a law which says the age gap between spouses should not exceed 25 years.

Egypt brought in the law prohibiting the marriage of elderly men to very young girls during the Gulf oil boom.

It was an effort to prevent wealthy men from the Gulf states seeking young poor brides from the Egyptian countryside.

Not much is known about the 92-year-old man who tried to marry an Egyptian girl of 17except that he is an Arab from the Gulf.

An Egyptian justice official said by refusing to endorse their marriage it would now be impossible for the girl to travel abroad with her husband.

However, in special cases, the justice ministry does allow foreign men to marry Egyptian women more than 25 years their junior if they deposit a very large sum of money in the name of their wife at the Egyptian National Bank.

Both husband and wife also have to report in person to the ministry which checks their marriage is genuine to prevent any kind of trafficking in women.

According to the al-Akhbar newspaper, 173 such marriages were allowed in the past year after the foreign husband deposited a sum equivalent to about US $80,000 and was screened.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/06/13 09:11:16 GMT


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Loving Day, 2008

In June, I think about Flag Day and Gay Pride Day as the minor holidays generally ignored by the majority of Americans.

June 12th is Loving Day.

This sounds like a day to celebrate love, lovers, couples, partnership, etc. And it is! But Loving Day is a day to celebrate the love and marriage of one particular couple: Richard and Mildred Loving.

Richard and Mildred met when they were children and began dating young, they got pregnant young, they got married young. After their marriage in 1958, they returned to their hometown of Richmond, Virginia, and were arrested for breaking Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws.

The anti-miscegenation laws made it illegal to marry someone of a different race. You see, Mildred was black and Richard was white, and in 1958 you just weren't supposed to marry outside of your race.

The legal wrangling continued until June 12, 1967, when the United States Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional.

So, today is the 41st anniverary of Loving Day.

All you need is love!

The wikipedia entry for Loving Day.

I've written about interracial marriage, before, and the notion that families look different from each other, inside and out.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Euro 2008 - Update 1

All the teams have played their first matches.

The Group A matches went as expected. Portugal beat Turkey in a very physical match, and the Czech Republic beat co-hosts Switzerland. During the latter match, Swiss player, Alexander Frei, of German club Borussia Dortmund, left with a knee injury that will forces him out of the competition.

The Group B matches Croatia beat co-hosts Austria when Luka Modric drove home a penalty kick granted when Rene Aufhauser committed a foul in the box against Ivica Olic. Germany beat Poland again, without having to march through Warsaw this time. The two goals scored for Germany were made by Lukas Podolski, who was born in Poland. I think there's a Rodney Dangerfield line in there somewhere.

Group C is the Group of Death, matching-up Italy, France, Netherlands, and Romania. The last of the four, Romania, sounds as though they should be the first to be knocked out of the competition; but, in a stunningly boring match they held-on to draw 0-0 with France and sit in second place for the time being. The Italy v Netherlands match was marred by very poor officiating that turned the match (which was one of the premier match-ups) into a bit of a drag. Ruud van Nistelrooj was clearly off-side when he scored The Netherlands' first goal. The tone of the match changed and the momentum shifted wholly towards the Orange. Italy was clearly frustrated through the match and Edwin van der Sar was superb in goal, stopping all of Italy's shots. The other goals were scored by the handsome Wesley Sneijder, who plays club football for Real Madrid, and one of my all-time fave, Giovanni van Bronckhorst (late of my Arsenal).

Officials insist the first goal was allowed correctly and that van Nistelrooj was on-side because an Italian player was laying injured off the field past the goal-line. A questionable analysis, at best.

In Group D, Spain made easy work of Russia, and showed that they may be the most technically proficient team in the tournament. Four goals scored and all the result of a team operating like a well-oiled machine. The 4-1 result does not describe the extent to which Spain outclassed Russia, it the match was never that close! Sweden beat reigning-champions Greece in a match that showed the Scandinavian side to be much stronger than I anticipated.

Led by Freddie Ljungberg, this surprisingly effective side also includes European stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Larsson, Niclas Alexandersson, and Olof Mellberg. They might be the best team after Spain.

I originally predicted that Portugal and The Netherlands would be the team to watch, but I am happier watching Spain and Sweden!

The groups look like this, going into today's round:

Group A
Czech Republic

Group B

Group C

Group D

You can see complete coverage at ESPN and BBC.

All matches are broadcast in the United States by Disney affiliates ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, and/or ABC. I plan to see every single match. Even if it means missing hours of sleep each night!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where's The Beef?

Remember that ad with the little old lady demanding to know "Where's the beef?" I remember it as being funny, but I don't recall the product being advertised. And I don't really care what product was being advertised, either.

I do know where the beef ISN'T, and that is in South Korea. That nation, one of our staunchest allies, has had a ban on the import of American beef for many years, because they do not believe we can guarantee the safety of our beef.

They are correct, of course.

The conservatives who have taken over our nation and run the country into the ground, insist that our beef is safe. Of course they do!

Conservatives from Ronald Reagan to Hillary Clinton have been deregulating American industry for over twenty-five years, with the help of liberals like Ted Kennedy.

Federal oversight has been gutted, every federal agency has been decimated. Inspectors and auditors have been fired, their positions eliminated through attrition. Federal agencies are run by C-level executives from the industries they are supposed to police. Nobody in the United States can be assured that any product from baby toys to filet mignon to puppy chow is safe, anymore. And the rest of the world knows this and they don't want any part of our garbage products.

Even the South Koreans, who if asked would invent a way to wipe our asses if it meant more off-shoring of jobs from the United States to the exurbs of Seoul.

So, the current pro-America regime in South Korea has been bullied into lifting the ban on American beef. They've been told that if they don't buy our beef they will lose their preferred trading partner status. This means that China will get all the jobs making our flat screen televisions, Blu-Ray disc players, vacuum cleaners, and learning how to wipe our asses.

Beef is a huge part of the Korean diet, and the citizens want no part of American beef. So they have taken to the streets and created a crisis within the ruling party.

Associated Press is reporting that 80,000 Koreans marched in Seoul, which means that about 1,000,000 are probably marching in Seoul. BBC is reporting only that many thousands are protesting. Both outlets report that over 20,000 riot police are deployed, which means there must be a lot more than 80,000 protesters, because the ratio of police:demonstrators is never 1:4, it is usually more like 1:100 or more.

You see, we regulate information the same way we regulate beef, banking, energy, and telecommunications: only to the degree it serves the ends of the conservative agenda that is eating away America's soul, savings, and spirit.

I say: Good for the Koreans! Don't eat crappy beef, if you don't want to!

But, if you could open a few more factories to lower the price of flat-screen TVs and get to work figuring out how to wipe my ass cheaper than I can do it myself, I would be most appreciative!

Monday, June 09, 2008

I have an idea: let's deregulate! Everything will be better!

I was relatively young when I began learning the fundamentals of economics; and the notion of supply and demand was a very easy idea to grasp.

It's very simple: if you have a little of something and a lot of people want it, then you can charge a lot of money. If you have a lot of something nobody wants, then you can't charge very much for it (if anything).

Some products have an finite supply, even if we do not know what that finite number is.

Oil comes to mind.

Oil is the product from which gasoline is refined.

Gasoline is the lifeblood of the American Nightmare (formerly known as the American Dream).

The American Dream had something to do with getting a spouse, purchasing a home in the suburbs (with a conventional mortgage that was protected by federal laws), a garage or driveway at that house, a couple of kids (who could be educated in your local public school), and a car or two to get to and from work, the supermarket, etc., and gasoline to fuel those cars.

Purchasing a house is no longer as simple as it might seem. A huge percentage of hard-working Americans do not qualify for a conventional mortgage. You know: you borrow $250,000 at 6% interest and pay it off over the course of thirty years. This was the way America was built, bought, and sold. It worked very well -- we created an entire modern nation on this premise. These days, however, most families are sold a house for $500,000 at an initial interest rate of 6% to be paid over the course of thirty years; then, suddenly, three or five years into the deal, the interest rate nearly doubles to nine, maybe 10 or 11%, even as high as 15%.

Now, the bank (or the mortgage holder) was making really good money at 6% and could become very wealthy in the business of selling mortgages at 6%; but they no longer have to do that. They can make any rules they want now, and consumers can either take it or leave it. The result has been many, many, many foreclosed mortgages, families abandoning their slice of the American Dream and beginning new lives as characters in the American Nightmare.

You see, the financial industry that sells mortgages has been deregulated, so that it can grow and flourish, and from that deregulation will come more competition and lower profits and more opportunity for all Americans. Just ask Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and all the other supply-side apologists and they will explain to you that it is better to have things this way, it's better for America like this. The American Dream can be redefined and re-engineered to succeed in a deregulated market place.

Somehow these politicians believe that it is better for a family to purchase a home they can afford for three years, then have it become unaffordable, fall behind on their mortgage, stop paying their bills, fall into foreclosure, abandon their home, and then try to find a new place to live. Bill Clinton must be able to explain to you exactly why this is better for America. He is a big fan of deregulating the financial industry, so he must have an explanation about why this is better. Just ask him.

Families that do not lose their homes in this mortgage morass have the joy of trying to afford their commute to and from work, to and from their kids' schools, to and from the grocery stores, and to and from the gas station.

Now that the average cost of gasoline is $4.00 a gallon, many Americans can ill-afford their commute.
[I]n the Mississippi Delta, some farm workers are borrowing money from their bosses so they can fill their tanks and get to work.
Rural U.S. Takes Worst Hit as Gas Tops $4 Average

Four dollars a gallon!

Remember, the energy business is an industry whose deregulation was going to bring lower prices, more competition, better service, more opportunities, and higher wages for its workers. Just ask Ronald Reagan, he'll tell you. This was his promise to us! If we chose deregulation, we would live in a land where milk and honey flowed in the streets, a chicken in every pot, the end of the welfare state, full employment, opportunities for everyone!

We are a quarter century into the promises of Reaganomics and never in the history of our nation has our economy, our prospects, our standing in the world, or our future planning looked more dismal.

Capitalism has been destroyed by the very people who promised us that deregulation would save us.

Supply and demand, the basic tenet that makes capitalism . . . well, makes it capitalism, has no impact on reality anymore.

There are millions of empty homes on the market from coast-to-coast, the supply far outweighs the demand, yet prices remain ridiculously high, and mortgages harder to get.

Gasoline continues to be refined and there is no indication that there is any shortage of oil. There is plenty, its cost is just being artificially increased.

Banking and energy are two industries we deregulated with the promise of a brighter tomorrow and never have things looked bleaker.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Three New York Stories (and a happy addendum)

Mayor Bloomberg has been on a campaign to shut-down Off-Track Betting (OTB) parlours in New York City. I know this sounds like Giuliani's fake morality campaign to squeeze-out the porno parlours, but it isn't. (The anti-porn crusade was actually a real estate campaign, not a morality campaign.)

The Mayor has been closing-down OTB parlours in the city because the City is losing money on them. it costs the city millions of dollars to keep them open. Only the State and the New York Racing Commission actually profit from the business.

We are a city that is slashing its education budget. We should not be subsidizing gambling parlours (really crappy gambling parlours) that benefit only people far from the city who hate the people of the city.

I applaud Bloomberg for his efforts to kick-out OTB. Let them open new shops in Rensselaer County, preferably six or seven right in Brunswick. Let Joe Bruno and his buddies subsidize it for a while.

There is a patch of undeveloped land in Brooklyn, NY. If you can believe it.

Near the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, in Prospect Heights, are rail yards with much open space. A developer wants to build an arena there, and rapper/mogul Jay-Z, an owner of the New Jersey Nets, wants to move the team to his hometown.

I understand and sympathize with the residents of the area who object to the development. The NIMBY culture is alive and well in urban America, especially among social groups least interested in sports. I wouldn't want a basketball arena in my neighborhood. But progress, like shit, happens. And I think the arena will eventually be built on that patch of ground, irrespective of the number of liberals who lay down in front of the bulldozers. This isn't the sixties anymore. Citizens are no longer allowed to halt progress.

So, we are going to have a new arena in Brooklyn eventually, and the developer will make a lot of money on it, as he should for making such a huge investment. Herein, lies the rub.

The developer expects the city and state to give him $300,000,000 towards the development.

New York City is looking to slash its school budget because there isn't enough money to go around. We should not spend one penny on a new arena, that is unwanted by its neighbors, when we have insufficient funds to pay for those neighbors' schools.

I hope the mayor and his successors see the folly of giving money to developers who give nothing in return.

And my third story today is about my junior senator, Hillary Clinton.

It was reported today that Senator Clinton met with the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Barack Obama. The conversation is said to have been about uniting the party to beat John McCain in November.

There is only one thing that Hillary Clinton has to do, and because she is responsible for festering the problem in her campaign against Senator Obama, she is morally obligated to take this action. Any other action she takes is bullshit!

Senator Clinton must travel to every state she won in the primaries and tell all the voters there that racism is unacceptable, that her supporters must put race aside when considering what is best for the country, they must vote for Obama if they want any hope for the future and that she expects them to vote for him because she knows he is the best candidate.

Clinton and her campaign (including her husband) played the race card repeatedly in the past six months. She must atone for this sin. She must travel through America helping to destroy racism. To be considered a world leader, she must do this.

Anything less is unacceptable.

And as a closing note, my happy addendum: my Red Bulls won a hard-fought match against CD Chivas USA, last night at Giants Stadium. Thank you Juan Pablo Angel, and the entire team!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Billionaire Penny-Pinching

Usually I write this blog from home, before I go to bed at night or before I leave for work in the morning. Today, things got busy and I never finished my draft from last night when suddenly it was time to leave for the subway. I had drafted an article about cynicism and my fears around the 2008 Presidential Election.

I sat at my desk, put out a couple of fires, logged-in to Blogger to publish my article when I noticed that my trash had not been emptied last night.

It had not been emptied the night before either, but yesterday I ate lunch at my desk and my trash can now holds day-old food scraps that smell.

I work for an organization that enjoys annual receipts in excess of a billion dollars, and I am always surprised where they cut-corners.

Though I have no concrete evidence, it seems that the cleaning contract they have made with the building does not provide for replacement workers if the worker who empties my trash barrel should be absent from his menial, low-paying job.

I wouldn't mind if this was the first time it happened, but it happens with regularity. And it is only an issue today because there are chicken scraps in my trash. It smells.

But I wonder what conversation takes place among administrators where thy think it's a good idea to cut back on the least-expensive staffing, in hopes of saving a few bucks. How much money can my employer and the landlord be saving by refusing to empty the trash?

If there are any administrators reading this, please let me know the logic behind cutting the staffing at the lowest level while increasing the salaries and bonuses of those at the top. How does this save money? When does safety and comfort become part of the bottom line? Is it really cheaper for me to sit with smelly trash in my office?

I can tell you that it certainly cuts into productivity, because I see three employees standing around a trash can discussing the smell, and this is the fourth time I've seen this take place in a single hour today.

Nobody is going to sit at their desk and work if there is smelly garbage permeating their space.

Throughout the year we probably save twenty grand on the annual cleaning contract, and we probably lose three-quarters of a million dollars in lost productivity as professionals and support staff chit-chat about the smell of Louise's tuna sandwich and Joshua's fried chicken bones.

Yeah, I'd love to see a videotape of the conversation where the chiefs and directors decided that it would be a good idea to reduce the cost of the cleaning contract.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Super Delegates

Why? To what end? What roles do the super delegates play?

Never, in the forty years that I have been following presidential elections have I been so surprised about something. I didn't even know there were super delegates in 2004.

I have been a registered Democrat since 1976, which is the year I turned 18.

I followed the 1968 presidential campaigns on television after the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, I was ten years-old, and I haven't missed a campaign since.

In this year's run-up to the conventions, it became clear to me that the role of the super delegates is to ensure that those controlling the Democratic Party get to control who becomes the party's presidential candidate, irrespective of the actual voting by registered Democrats.

I was dismayed to hear that Hillary Clinton was basically conceding the nomination to Obama last night. I want Clinton to go to Denver and try to sway delegates to her side and make the convention a real old-fashioned convention with multiple ballots and real-life politicking. I think that is good for the part. It is bad for the media, but it is good for the country, and good for progressives, and good for the Democratic Party. And it is bad for the people who want to control the party from the back rooms, to bribe and cajole Democrats who are interested in participating in the democratic process.

I want Hillary to go to Denver as a candidate for the nomination.

All delegates to the national convention should be selected by state (or territorial) conventions. No member of the party should be seated as a delegate simply because they are rich, formerly powerful, or currently hold an elected position.

If a state has 100 delegates, they should choose 100 delegates at their state convention and send those delegates to nominate the presidential candidate. If a state chooses to include their elected officials and congressional delegation in their delegate count, then so be it. That should be in their state party charter. But no elected official should be given a delegates vote simply because he or she is in a position of power.

As we have seen during this election cycle, super delegates are bad. If the majority of registered democrats vote for a particular candidate, and their state delegations are instructed to vote the will of the citizens, then there would never be any discussion of that candidate being undermined by super delegates.

If the Democratic Party seats 4,000 delegates, then the first candidate to win 2,001 of those delegates should be nominated. It's really quite simple.

The Democratic Party is now as bad as, if not worse than, the Republican Party when it comes to secrecy, sneakiness, and under-handedness.

Perhaps it's time for all progressive Americans to abandon the DNC to the political operatives and join or form a different progressive party.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Military Action In Afghanistan

I watched Charlie Wilson's War last weekend.

It was much better than I expected.

I learned about the Russians armor-plating their helicopters so that the Afghan's weapons were ineffective against them. Charlie Wilson was the guy who convinced Congress to spend the money to get the Afghan rebels the missiles they needed to penetrate the armor.

The tide turned when this happened and Afghanistan become Russia's Viet Nam: an unwinnable war, unpopular with the citizenry, and draining the national treasury. So, Russia eventually pulled-out. Since the Congress believed the only point was to defeat the Russians, they failed to follow-up the military support with social support and Afghanistan, much like the United States, fell into the hands of a bunch of religious wackos.

Afghanistan was left with a huge stockpile of weapons, too. And they turned those weapons on each other.

The Taliban, an extremist religious sect, prevailed and years of living hell ensued.

The Taliban, funded primarily by Saudi Arabia, supported Muslim extremism around the world, gave refuge to terrorists, and provided proving grounds for militants who went on to commit crimes against the United States, England, and Spain.

In 2001, the United States led an attack against the Taliban in Afghanistan, in response to the bombings of the World Trade Center towers, in New York, and the Pentagon, in Maryland.

One might think that a military power like the United States could destroy the Taliban which it had funded fifteen years earlier; but, the Taliban leaders and the criminals it protected, including Osama binLaden, have been able to elude capture and lead a guerrilla war against the United States and the United Nations that continues until this day.

Listening to news on the radio this week, I learned that the United States is now shipping new Humvees to Afghanistan that have been armor-plated to protect soldiers from the guerrillas, who have been successfully destroying the vehicles and killing the occupants.

I was dismayed by the similarity between the Russians armor-plating their helicopters in the mid-1980s, and the United States armor-plating their Humvees in the mid-2000s.

The armor-plating didn't help the Russians, and I suspect that it will not help the Americans.

How can a war have gone so terribly wrong? Who's running this country?

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Democratic Primary - Puerto Rico to Denver

In one of the last Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton hammered Barack Obama in Puerto Rico, garnering 68% of the vote. This leaves only Montana and South Dakota left to vote for a Democratic challenger to presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain.

I am glad that Clinton has stayed in the race and I hope she will stay in the race until the end. A nominee, after all, is selected at the convention, not by television pundits (though it might serve Senator Clinton well if the press decides the nominee).

Michigan and Florida, who lost the seats for their delegations because they moved their primaries to January, against party rules, have been somewhat appeased by being seated and recognized, but their votes only count as half-votes.

This is an exciting election for me. I loathe both Democratic candidates. I think she is worse than him, but I have no hope that either can further a progressive, thoughtful, mindful, administration that can restore America to its glory.

The Clinton camp will fight for the Michigan and Florida delegations until they are seated and allowed to place their entire allotment of votes is in her camp. If she succeeds at bullying the Democratic Party Credentials Committee into seating and recognizing those delegations, in full, then it should be a cake-walk for her to garner the super-delegates needed to put her over the top and displace Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's nominee.

Super-delegates are sort of an 'electoral college' within the Democratic Party. This is the method used by Party stalwarts to ensure that the rich and powerful within the Party are allowed to choose the candidate, the same way that rich and powerful Americans in the Electoral College elect the President after the voting takes place. We are a Republic that uses democratic processes, after all, not a Democracy. We can't really trust the people, the unwashed masses -- Reagan's middle class -- to decide who should be enthroned. We need to have that decided by the rich and powerful.

I think Clinton might be able to beat McCain -- maybe; and I think most of America would sooner shoot Obama dead than elect him. Perhaps because she probably stands a better chance at beating the Republican, Clinton should be nominated. I know she thinks so. I know the Democratic Leadership Committee thinks so. And when Democrats meet in Denver this Summer, I predict that all states' delegations will be seated in full and that most super delegates will move to the Clinton camp.

After all, it takes a village to steal a nomination.