Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Pourquoi Ukraine?


The Russia/Ukraine war began when Russia wanted assurances that Ukraine would not allow NATO to build a military base in Ukraine, i.e. on the Russian border, and Ukraine refused. But was that a completely unreasonable request?
During World War !!, the Russians lost over 20,000,000 of their citizens. NATO was planned to be a nuclear facility and was built to combat Russia.  What would be so terrible for Ukraine to have said we're not joining, we don't want to kill you. Let's ear. (Remember the president of Ukraine is Jewish.)
And the ironic part if all this is that when the situation was reversed, i.e. when the United States was in a similar situation, we made the same request without a second thought. You don't think so? Well, think again.
Remember the Cuban missile crisis of 1962? The one that almost started WWIII? The Russians installed missiles in Cuba, which they were allowed to do. The Cubans accepted the Russian base, which they were allowed to do. And Kennedy threatened a naval blockade which could easily have become nuclear.. And we waited, and waited, and waited....
Russian missiles in Cuba. NATO missiles in Ukraine.You have a problem with all that? Me neither. Does it ever seem like the bottom line in all these fun times is really just whose samovar is being gored? Hmmm.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Here Today, Somewhere Else Tomorrow


        "Mommy, what does 'transient' mean?"
        "What a big word, Johnny. Where did you learn a word like that?"
        "We were learning about money in school today and I said how angry Daddy gets because everything costs so much more than it used to. Teacher said it was because of Inflation and everything would go back to normal soon."
        "Is your teacher a Democrat?"
        "I think so."
        "Anyway, some people want to help poor people live better so they get the government to print up lots and lots of money and then they give it out to the poor people."
        "But mommy, if you print up lots of money and just give it out, won't that make the money worth less so everything costs more and daddy's everywhere get angry. Mommy's too."
        "How did you know that?"
        "Elementary my dear mother."
        "Not to everyone."
        "Anyway, what does that have to do with 'transient?"
        "Well, some people think that even if this causes inflation, it will only be temporary and will go away soon. That's what 'transient" means. Temporary. It's another word for 'magic.;"
        "Who would believe silly stuff like that?"
        "A lot of people who should know better."

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Who Was That Binary I Saw You With Last Nite?


        When my grandparents came to America, they spoke only Yiddish. 
        "Hallo. Ich denkt os mir vilt hobben tzvey bageluch und a bisselah crim cheese." ["Hello. I think that I would like to have two bagels and a little cream cheese."]
        To which the response from the grocery clerk was generally, "Hey Grandpa. This is America. Speak English."
        Since Jews dislike going hungry only slightly less than they like changing flat tires, my grandparents, and everyone else's grandparents, eventually learnt English and got all the bagels and cream cheese they could eat, which is...quite a lot. Interestingly, no one ever suggested that the rest of America had an obligation to learn Yiddish.
        Of course, the times they are, as they say, a-changing. If my grandparents were around today, they might have to hold the cream cheese or, at least, skip the bagels.
        "Hello. I would like you to give me two bagels and a little cream cheese."
        "What? What. You don't have cream cheese? The bagels are stale?"
        "You called me 'you.' My pronoun is 'they' or 'them' or 'zeit' or maybe 'zisssel.' But you didn't even care enough to ask. N-o-o-o-o, not you. Not Mr. Who Cares What's a Person's Pronoun. You're much too important for that.You, you, you....you racist you!"
        "Moma! Moma! Vos is doos? Vos is da mahr mit im?" [Moma! Moma! What is this? What is the matter with him?"]
        Now, if only the world would just learn to speak Yiddish. Life would be so much simpler....and probably funnier too.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Taxes Without a Taxpayer

        Sound ridiculous? A tax that no one has to pay? Well, don't laugh just yet. It's been proposed and is being seriously considered by people who should know better. 
        Apparently, the idea is that carbon taxes will be collected on everything made with carbon, which is pretty much everything, but everyone hates taxes and so these taxes will be refunded to taxpayers at the end of the year. In other words, we will have a carbon tax which will control climate change but it won't cost anything. 
        "Hi. I was interested in buying a car. Actually I had my eye on that red one over there but when I was in last month the price was only $15,000. I see that now you're asking $25,000. I don't think I can afford that. Looks like no new car for me."
        "Just a minute, sir. Not a problem. The extra $10,000 is the refundable carbon tax. You just have to lay out $15,000. We'll lend you the extra $10.000 with no interest. You get the money from the gov't at the end of the year and just give it to us. It's a loan guaranteed by the gov't so we're not worried and you get the car for what you wanted to pay in the first place. We do this for lots of our customers."
       "Okay, sounds good. I'll take it."
        Of course the refund is supposed to only go to the poorest taxpayers. The whole tax is paid by the rich who get back...nothing. Maybe keep in mind that the income tax was originally only supposed to apply to the top 2% of income earners. Hey, good news. You might be richer than you  thought.

        [Psst, want a good buy on a slightly used bridge or maybe a constitutional income tax amendment?]

Monday, September 16, 2019

"Well, But It Was Their Money"

        In 2015, President Obama and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear agreement, which, in a "triumph of diplomacy", gave Iran approximately 150 billion dollars to spend as it wished.
        In return, Iran agreed to limitations on its nuclear facilities for 10 to 15 years after which time it would be free to conduct unrestricted nuclear research and development including manufacture of nuclear bombs.
         During the 15 years that the deal is in effect, Iran is still allowed to engage in missile research and development and continue terrorist activities as before. This is a nuclear  deal. It does not apply to non nuclear activities.
         The point has been raised that Iran is really just getting its own money back, that the funds in question consist of assets belonging to Iran but frozen in foreign banks as part of a program of economic sanctions to pressure Iran into giving up its nuclear ambitions.   
        Well, yes but suppose you had a neighbor who wanted to kill you and that he is always telling you that if he ever gets a gun, he is going to kill you. And suppose one day he gets a gun and suppose that somehow you get his gun. Maybe your wives are still friends and she brings it over to crack some walnuts and forgets to take it home. Or maybe his kid brings it over and leaves it in your back yard. Whatever. Anyway, do you give it back? It's his gun. He paid for it with his own money.
        "Oh, what lovely hors doevres. Death to the Jews! Kill all the Americans! I think I'll have one of those little ones with the avocado on top."

        In Iran, 'white noise' is planning for everyone you're going to kill. When that changes, we should think about giving them back their billions, and their guns and....their walnuts. Until then, maybe stick with, "No soup for you"...no matter who paid for what.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Stormy Weather

        Suppose the President of the United States was alleged to have slept with two ladies, neither being his wife, paid them for their silence and then lied about the whole thing, denying that it had ever taken place. Who's the bad guy (gal) here?
        Well, if you generally divide your day between watching CNN and MSNBC, the answer is obvious, i.e. ' President Trump, of course,' as it would be the answer to most any other question you might have, i.e.,  Who is responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs? Who caused the Ice Age? Who stole Captain Queeg's strawberries from the captain's locker on the USS Caine? etc.
        But even if the whole story is true, why is the President the fall guy here, the one who deserves to be condemned while the women have almost become folk heroes? After all, who went public with this whole story and caused Melania Trump such untold humiliation?
        Aren't women supposed to stick together and watch out for each other? Isn't that what all those women's marches and demonstrations right after Trump's election were supposed to be about? Well, what happened this time?
        Oh, right, they were just doing it for the good of the country, to save the Republic. This was just friendly fire, collateral damage. And that guy in the corner over there, 'Mr. Skin?' just call me 'Shark.' He's running for president in 2020 for the same reason. People are so good sometimes.   
       And let's not forget, there was another person involved here too, a smaller and somewhat younger person. You think he doesn't know what happened, thanks to these two folk heroes? And you think his friends, classmates and anyone who can recognize him isn't doing a number on his head? Kids, as anyone who has had or has ever encountered one will tell you, can be cruel, sometimes very cruel.
        But, oh well, if things don't work out, just to follow the advice or our millenial philosopher kings, "Not to worry."               
        Time to head for Central Park, light a few candles, do the wave, sing some songs about poverty and what have you and go get a graduate degree in bullying so you can go out and really, "Make a difference."

Saturday, August 25, 2018

To Keep and Bear...What?

        The Second Amendment says that the people shall have the right to keep and bear arms. It doesn't say that the people can only keep and bear arms if they're in a militia.
        Nevertheless, there are those who make exactly this claim, i.e. that because we no longer need to raise a militia, the right to keep and bear arms is really outdated and should be abolished. How come nobody ever makes this sort of argument about all our other freedoms? [Not yet, anyway.]
        Freedom of the Press is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Clearly the reason for this amendment was the Founders' belief that a free and open press would be the best way to assure the existence of a well informed citizenry. But since the media is now overwhelmingly the captive of one  point of view,
        "I'd punch that guy right in his nose." Yeah, Yeah. "You know I'd like to go right out and burn the White House right down to the ground." Yeah. Yeah. "Don't let them have a moment's peace in the restaurants, in the stores, in their homes, when they go to buy gas." Yeah, yeah. and since the opposing views have almost no chance of any meaningful exposure anyway, what's the point?
        Might as well let the press and the rest of the media give up once and for all the pretense of educating the masses and go back to spending all of their time doing what they do best, selling advertising.
        Freedom of Speech? If you can say it, it's probably been said already and, if it hasn't, who really wants to hear it anyway?
        Freedom of Religion? The opiate of the masses. So...so...so...deplorable?
              Remember when freedom was a good thing just because it was...freedom? A  person could build a whole country on an idea like that.

                                          " Wasn't that a time, wasn't that a time? '