Saturday, October 21, 2017

A pirogi for me. A pirogi for you.

        From time to time or, occasionally, at random, someone, or some group of someones decides that it's time to find out if the Europeans really like us and so they do a survey. Maybe the new American president is a rocker, and the Europeans usually like that. Or maybe he's a 'blondes have more fun kind of a guy' and the Europeans, don't, well, seem to like that, not so much.
        Anyway, after the survey is finished, a lot of people get very happy or maybe very not so happy about the results, but why? Why should any American care whether Europeans like us or not?
        "Vladimir, the Latvians are releasing the reindeer. We have to cancel the missiles we were going to drop on New York or we'll all be gored to death."
        Makes sense, right? According to the NATO charter it's one for all and all for one. America gets attacked by the Russians and we'll be saved by the Latvians, the Lithuanians, the Slovenians, the...No, it doesn't make any sense, no sense at all. The only country that can provide an existential threat to America is Russia, although it makes no sense to think they would want to do such a thing, and all the rest of Europe combined can not counter a threat like that.
        Europe is of no real military value to the United States whether they like us or not. The only thing they can do if we're ever attacked is sew on one of those snappy NATO arm patches, slip into one of those super cool  NATO caps, grab a few escargots and
        The only country that can provide real military security to the United States is...the United States. No country in Europe, or anywhere else for that matter, can even come close to countering the Russian nuclear forces.
        And it's the same thing with 'economic security.'
        Any company in any country that can make a buck by selling or buying something here will keep doing it, whether they like us or our president or not. And if they can't, they won't. And if you don't believe that, well, you should.
        So, next time you read that only 28% of Germans or Frenchmen or women, or residents of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick or wherever still respect America or its president maybe keep in mind that it may not be 'fake news' but it's definitely inconsequential news. Doesn't affect us at all. Have another pirogi and Fuggedaboutit. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

You Can Have Your Medicare and Eat it Too

      "Doctor, I can't hear so good. Please send me for an MRI and a C-T scan."
      "Well, Mrs. Schwartz, why don't you let me clean the wax out of your ears first and see it that takes care of the problem."
      "Doctor, it could be a brain tumor. Don't worry 'The Medicare' will pay for everything. And also, maybe I should have a PSA just in case."
      "But you're a woman. You don't have a prostate. Why do you want a PSA test?"
      "You never know. And besides, 'The Medicare' will pay, right?"
      The bottom line is that there are only two ways to control medical costs. The first is to have a system with patients paying part of the costs so that they have an incentive to control them (called having 'skin in the game') and the second is the dreaded 'R' word, rationing. 
      Let doctors set their fees and let patients choose the ones they want to use. Then, some doctors will accept Medicare as payment in full. Some will charge a little more. Some will charge a lot more. And the system will not go bankrupt because government will pay whatever it will pay and then GET OUT OF THE WAY.
      No, doctors will not be able to charge anything they want. There are too many doctors around to choose from. It's called competition. If your doctor charges a ridiculous fee, you'll pick another. And you'll be able to buy whatever kind of supplemental insurance you want. Works the same way with food, clothing, housing...everything. 
       "Doctor, I can't hear so good. Please send me for an MRI and a C-T scan."
       "Ok, Mrs. Schwartz, if that's what you want. But it will probably cost you over $1,000."

       "Hmm, on second thought, doctor, maybe you could just clean out the wax and, if I still have the problem, I'll call your office tomorrow for a referral."

Monday, May 22, 2017

How The World Works

      The world is made up of two different kinds of countries, countries that are Great Powers and countries that are so-so powers. 
      If you live in a country that's a Great Power, you get up in the morning, shower, shave, get dressed, have breakfast, go to work, come home, read the paper, eat supper, put on your pajamas and maybe watch a little television.
      Sometimes, right in the middle of your favorite show, you might get a call from the  President telling you that a guy on the next block started a business in a foreign country somewhere, that somebody is trying to take it away from him, and that you have to go get it back for him. He explains about how Great Powers have 'interests'  and now you finally understand what 'having interests' really means.
       So you get dressed, get your gun from the closet, drive to the airport, fly to the country where the guy has his business, shoot whoever took if from him and, if you didn't also get shot, drive back to the airport, fly home, maybe catch the end of your favorite show, and, go to sleep.
      If you live in a country that's a so-so power, everything is pretty much the same, except that you get to watch all your favorite shows and you hardly ever have to shoot anybody unless they try to shoot you first.
      And that's how the world works.  Now you know too.                                                         
                                                                 THE END  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hooray for Hollywood?

        Since 1996, film production days in Los Angeles are down by 50% and what's worse is that nobody in the whole state is blaming global warming,
        Anyway, the problem seems to be that states from Texas to New York are offering tax credits to the movie industry that are way more generous than those offered by the state of California and now the folks in the industry can't get to those states fast enough. And they're taking the work with them.
        But, wait a minute. Aren't these the same  warm, fuzzy wuzzy, 'socially conscious' A-listers, who are always going on about how unfair the tax system is and here they are, zipping all over the country as fast as their stretch Priuses will carry them, trying to save on their...taxes?
        How many kids could be put into decent schools and how many new hospitals and clinics could be built if they would just...stay put and pay up? 
        "Yea, hooray, yea." (clap, clap, clap) "That guy's heart sure is in the right place, isn't it?"
        "Sure is. Too bad his wallet is somewhere else."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Deniers

       "Orville, Wilbur, what am I holding in my hand?"
       "A butter knife, Ma."
       "Right. Now, watch what happens when I drop it....Clang!...Did you see what happened when I dropped the butter knife, the heavier-than-air butter knife?
       Did it fly? Did it go flying around the room singing, 'Fly Me To The Moon?'
       No! It didn't fly because it's heavier than air. And if something is heavier than air it can't fly. Everybody knows that, everybody except you two. Couple of damn...deniers!"
        And, before the Wright brothers, there was the 'denier' Copernicus who knew that it was the Earth that revolved around the sun.
        And Lister showed that the almost 50% surgical mortality of the day was due to preventable infections while the surgeons kept sharpening their scalpels on their boots because they weren't going to listen to that upstart 'denier,' Lister.
        And schizophrenia is caused by 'poor parenting.' (It isn't.)
        And stomach ulcers are caused by 'stress.' (Uh-uh, a bacteria, H. Pylori.)
        And, until 1973, homosexuality was a 'mental illness' caused by a domineering mother,
        "Oh, doctor, my poor little Ru Paul. And it's all my fault."
        "Yes it is, Mrs. Cohen. But cheer up. At least you'll have someone to give your old clothes to. You know what your husband's things look like by the time he's ready to get rid of them. Men!"
        And now it's climate change...or is that global warming or global cooling or global drying or global wetting? Whatever...It's bad and it's our fault. All the experts agree. So don't be a damn...'denier.' Please, just shut up!!!
        Well, science doesn't advance by getting the 'deniers' to 'just shut up'.  
Science advances by asking questions. Questions, questions, and more questions. And it's the 'deniers' who  are the ones asking the questions....and making the butter knives fly.

        "The case is never closed." - Albert Einstein

The Rich Won't Make You Poor...Really

       Why all the fuss about 'income inequality?' Is that really the 'biggest problem we're facing today?' Is it, in fact, really a 'problem' at all?
        Microsoft, Google, Facebook... Speaking of 'income inequality,' suppose they had never come along and created all their stuff, would one poor person be the slightest bit more prosperous and happy?
        Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, the Wright brothers....same thing. Would the 'poor'  have been better off without electric lights and cars and railroads and steel and airplanes? Pre-industrial America was rough. 
         You can't raise the floor by lowering the ceiling. It's an illusion. The only thing you get that way is a country full of people who've forgotten how to stand up straight.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What Did He Say?!

"I have a dream that someday all men can live as brothers."
        "Yeah! G-d bless you, Dr. King."
        "Martin's the man!"
"And be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin."
         "Yes, Reverend King. Say it like it is."
         "Beautiful! 'Content of their character.' Right on, brother!"
"And that someday all people can live together like neighbors, white and black, black and white. Right next door to each other."
        "Yeah, G-d bles...Huh? What did he say?"
        "I think he said we should all live together."
"I have a dream that someday little black boys and girls will sit in the same classrooms as little white boys and girls."
        "Wait a minute! How's that going to work out? My kid starts Poly in the fall. Isn't
        yours going to St. Ann's?"
        "Damn right she is."
"And that someday white folks will give up promotions on their jobs so that black folks can get those promotions to make up for past wrongs."
          "What? Did you hear that? This guy's nothing but a damn...Commie!"
"But, in the meantime, I have a dream that it's okay if white folk just wear Trayvon Martin souvenir tee shirts and hoodies and go to Central Park to do the wave and sing about social injustice and watch MSNBC."
           "Whew! That's more like it. Making me a little nervous there for a minute."
           "Yeah, me too." 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

If A Philosopher Falls In The Forest...

       The humanities division at Harvard University is attracting fewer undergraduate students these days. The kids, it seems, have finally figured out that it's tough to get a job after graduation if pretty much all you've been preparing for is listening for the sound of a tree falling in the forest. ("If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?")
       That's okay if you've got a family business to go into but, if you don't...
       The University, for its part, has responded by preparing a report suggesting the humanities division aggressively market itself to freshmen and sophomores, convince them of how useful spending four years studying history and gender studies and philosophy can be ["Harriet, the toilet is overflowing. Quick, call an existentialist!"]
        In other words, they're trying to snooker your kids! Is it any wonder that the late William F. Buckley once said that he would rather be governed by the first 300 names in the Boston phone directory than by the faculty of Harvard University?

The Golden Years

     Getting old is rough. Or, rather, being old is rough. Getting old is easy. All you have to do to get old is be born and then stand in one spot for 75 years and you'll get old. Couldn't be easier. BEING old though, that's another story.
      Being old means you become invisible. People look right thru you, like a potted plant. Nobody notices you anymore. You just stand there waiting to be...watered. 
      Could anything be worse? Well, being old and needing long term care could be worse. Sneeze in front of the kids some time and it's,
       "You think he needs a nursing home?"
       "I don't know. He doesn't sound so good."
       And then it's off to the lawyer you go. That's right, the lawyer. There's a special branch of the law that handles the problem that you didn't know you had. It's called, Get-pop-on-Medicaid-before-he-has-to-go-to-a-nursing-home-and-pisses-away-our-whole-inheritance Law or simply, Elder Law. 
        Long term care is way too expensive. It eventually bankrupts most of the people who need it. Then they go on Medicaid which is bankrupting most of the states and the federal governmen. There's a better way,
        'He who forgets the repast...', Everyone in a facility should be assured nourishing meals, clean sheets, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect. That's it. Forget measuring the height of the soap dispensers, the size of the the sinks and the endless paperwork and 'staff training' that costs a fortune and accomplishes...nothing..
       And then provide a voucher for basic care to anyone who asks, regardless of ability to pay. Keep it simple and it'll cost less than the system we have now that costs millions to make sure that no one, anywhere, gets a free hamburger when they can really afford to pay for one.
       Want a more luxurious old age? Combine the voucher with personal savings. If you've lived an industrious and frugal life, you get to live a little better in your potted plant years, or maybe leave a few bucks to the kids.

       And, best of all, you'll never need a lawyer, even if you sneeze..

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Where's the U.N.?

        The Yazidis are a centuries-old religious group living in Northern Iraq, They are presently being exterminated by the Islamic State or ISIS. Tens of thousands of Yazidis are trapped on Mount Sinjar without food or water. The women and young girls are being sold into sexual slavery, i.e. raped. Why is the U.N. not involved in their rescue?
        Isn't that what the U.N. is supposed to do? prevent genocide?
        And if the U.N. is not getting involved, why isn't it? No time? Too busy? Plenty of folks find the time to show up whenever they have one of their shindigs in New York,
        "Ah, your majesty. What an honor."
        "Delighted to see you again, Mr. Prime Minister. You know you must try one of the chef's special hors d'oeuvres. He makes them with a little piece of lobster meat, a baby shrimp and a small scallop. Take it all in one bite. The taste is like nothing you've ever experienced before. 'Waiter. Waiter.' "
        Or when they have one of those conferences on the plight of women, except for the ones trapped on a mountaintop somewhere,
         Or one of those conferences on how it's not lukewarm all year round anymore so the rich countries have to compensate the poor ones for the lousy weather they're having. Yes, they have the hors d'oeuvres there too. But don't plan on getting a limo. They're usually  booked months in advance. 

         Maybe the secret to getting the UN involved here is to have someone climb Mt. Sinjar and teach the Yazidis how to make hors d'oeuvres, especially the ones with a little piece of lobster meat, a baby shrimp, and a small scallop. If you take it all in one bite, the taste is supposed to be like nothing you've ever experienced before. Hmm.....'Waiter. Waiter.'

Austerity Yesterday, Austerity Tomorrow, but...

       Watching all those Greek students marching thru the streets of Athens, waving the Greek flag, wrapped in the Greek flag, laughing, singing, cheering...could remind a person of the French students in 'Les Mis' and the Paris uprising of 1832. Different flags but, students are students. Young is young.
        Live free or die. Live FOR free or die. What's the difference? It's only one word. Oh, those Greeks. 
         Death or food stamps. Don't take it all so seriously. Life is way too short. Don't be so...austere.
Dear Greek Friends,
        Your political leaders want you to like them and will sometimes tell you what they know you want to hear.
        'Austerity' is not a choice. It's not jelly beans or soup or austerity or ice cream or...(pick one). You don't get to decide which one you want. 'Austerity' is paying back what you owe and then living within your means. That's the one you have to pick, sooner or later, or it will be picked for you and you'll never get any jelly beans or soup and definitely no ice matter what anyone tells you.  
        And don't wait until the music stops or it could be too late. You may have forgotten how to dance.

        Good luck from your friends in Detroit and Chicago and Baltimore and....a few other places.
        "We could have danced all night. We could have danced all night. And still have asked for...oh, you know."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Ukraine for Dummies

        Crimea, Sevastopol, Russian Black Sea Fleet...all very Russia. But why to us? the United States? We have no treaty with Ukraine, no vital interests there. Why are we getting involved?
        Did the Russians get involved when we were busy reservationizing (Is that a word?) Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Elizabeth Warren, and all the rest?
        "Harumph, harumph, we cannot abide such imperialism," said the British after finally being thrown out of every country in the world. 'The sun never sets on the British Empire.' Oh, sorry, that was last week.
         "Sacre Bleu, mon ami," said the French after Dien Bien Phu finally ended 'French' Indo China. "Thees Russians, we cannot allow this imperialism expansion. Who do they think they are? Us? Non, Non. Non."
        "Anyone want a waffle?" said the Belgian ambassador after the last Belgian soldier left the Belgian Congo leaving it The just plain Congo, the absolutely poorest country on the planet.
from the samovar,
        Continuing to pursue a 'NATO Creep' policy that tries to get all the countries that border Russia to become part of NATO will eventually get someone hurt, maybe killed. Maybe better to stay home and...have another waffle. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Planned Parenthood in the News...Again

        Every year or two, someone from Planned Parenthood manages to get him or herself recorded saying something so vile and stupid that it even offends an occasional Democrat.
        "You mean that if I say something here today, somebody somewhere else can hear it tomorrow or even the next day? Get away!"
       What do they put in the arugula over there ('Arugalistas of the World Unite!)? or is it the Merlot?
       Anyway, here's a suggestion,
        In 1911, Standard Oil was broken up and everything worked out fine.
        In 1985, it was the phone company's turn. (Remember the 'baby bells?') And again, no problem.
        Why can't Planned Parenthood follow in their footsteps and spin off its abortion division? Apparently abortions only make up 3% of the care they give anyway.
        They could still continue providing contraceptive services, cancer screening, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, etc. How difficult would that be?

       Then, if someone calls asking for abortion info, just have to say that we don't do that anymore but we can give you the phone number of a very reliable group that does. ("Yeah, you're right, they do look a lot like us.")

Cairo Banana

       When the late economist Alfred Kahn worked in the Carter administration, he was rebuked for using terms like 'recession' or 'depression' to describe the then-current economic downturn because it was felt that these terms would frighten the public. 
        So he started speaking about the economy as being in a 'banana' which had a calming effect on people ("So we have no money and no job but it's alright because we're only in a banana. We'll be okay."),,,until he was rebuked by the United Fruit Company.
      Hmm, has possibilities. When the Egyptian military overthrew the democratically elected government a few years ago, would we have to stop giving them aid the way the law says?
      Well, maybe the Egyptian military didn't really stage a coup. That's it! They didn't stage a coup. They staged a 'banana.' And, since there's no law against giving aid to a country whose military stages a 'banana'... 
        Then there's the IRS 'banana,' the Benghazi 'banana,' the Holder-knew 'banana', the You've got to pass it to see what's in it 'banana,' Scandals? What Scandals? Anyone see a scandal? Me neither.
       Sometimes it seems like it's just all in how you say it. Have to be a little careful though because too many 'bananas' and, before you know it, it starts looking like you're becoming a.....banana republic.

"Please, Sir, I want some more...:

        If Charles Dickens were writing today, maybe, instead of more porridge, Oliver Twist would have known what he really needed,
        "Please, Sir, I'm cold and I'm hungry. I want some more...carbon dioxide."
        "What?! You little denier! Don't you know that carbon dioxide is a terrible pollutant and, if we don't get rid of it right away, we'll all die."
        "No, Mr. ex-Vice President, Sir. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Carbon dioxide up there in the atmosphere is a greenhouse gas and keeps us all warm and toasty. And, down here, plants use carbon dioxide to make food and animals eat the plants and we eat the animals and the plants. Without carbon dioxide, we'd all starve....and freeze."
        "What are you talking about, you little twerp?"
        "Twist, sir. Oliver Twist."
        "Whatever, anyway...Ow!"
        "What is it, sir?"
        "You got me so upset, I lost a filling."
        "An inconvenient tooth?"
        Several other inconvenient teeth,
        - Carbon is not a pollutant. Protein is made up of chains of carbon atoms along with other stuff. No carbon, no protein. No protein,, And don't forget CARBON dioxide.
        - Earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago and its climate has been changing ever since.
        - 97% of climate scientists agree that we are now in a warming phase since the Little Ice Age ended in 1850, which is normal after cold periods end, and that human activity has contributed somewhat to it. 97% of editorial writers for the New York Times believe, well, all the rest...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How Americans Learn Science

        "Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hasn't been this high for over 800,000 years. Now do you see why we have to stop burning fossil fuels and go to renewables?"
        "It hasn't been this high for over 800,000 years? Wow! That's a pretty long time."
        "You bet it is."
        "And that's all because of burning fossil fuels?"
        "So, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was this high 800,000 years ago and it's happening again now?"
        "How many times are you going to ask me the same question?"
        "But there's only one thing I don't understand."
        "What's that?"
        "Well, if the carbon dioxide was this high 800,000 years ago and it's this high now, how do you know it's because of burning fossil fuels? I mean, 800,000 years ago there was no   industry, no cars, no nothing. Nobody was burning fossil fuels and the carbon dioxide  
was just as high as it is now. So, how can it all be because of fossil fuels?"

         "Hmm, well actually I saw this movie..."

"The Russians are Coming. The Russians are Coming."

        In a 1966 comedy, a Russian submarine runs aground off the New England coast. Lots of laughs, a little bit of romance and, in the end, Alan Arkin and crew sail back home to Mother Russia to the sound of the Russian national anthem, even though all the Americans want them to stay.
       Now, here we are. Fifty years later, almost to the day, and the Russians are back. Only this time Vladimir Putin is playing himself. And nobody wants them to stay. What happened?
        Well, apparently the Russians tried to influence one of our elections. Who do they think they are? Americans?
        2015, it was Tel Aviv and Obama sent his 'team' to try and prevent Netanyahu from winning another term. Does that count?
        And before that, it was the Shah of Iran who was our guy. And Allende in Chile. Did we support Allende or try to shoot him? Hmmm, gets so confusing sometimes. Well, as long as we're with the 'good guys,' what difference does it make? Let them figure it out.
        North Vietnam. South Vietnam. Laos. Cambodia. Diem. Diem. Diem. Anybody know a guy named Diem? Didn't he live in a third floor walk-up somewhere?
        And United Fruit Company in Guatemala. Got to keep those bananas flowing. (Do bananas actually 'flow' or do they just float or maybe roll over here? Well, doesn't matter. As long as they get here and they're OUR bananas.)

        So, are the Russians really that different from us?  Are we really the "exceptional" ones? Maybe...or maybe not so much. Pass the caviar. I'll top off the vodka.

Cupcake Nation

        "I don't know. What do you want to do tonight, Marty?"
        "I don't know. You want to have a protest?"
        "But there's nothing I want."
        "Well, maybe a pony would be nice."
        Too many people with too much time on their hands? Just because you can write something on your face or your chest or your...whatever, or on a piece of cardboard and then make your three year old carry it around until he pees doesn't mean that you're becoming another Ernest Hemingburger.
        "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give him a magic marker and you've got a future Professor of English Lit....with tenure...on your hands."

        You should have given him the fish. Carpe Diem! - Seize the Carp?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Are Guns The Problem?

      All Swiss males between the ages of 20 and 30 are issued automatic rifles by the government, trained in their use, and required to maintain and keep them in their homes. Furthermore, recreational shooting is very popular in Switzerland and gun permits are readily available to most anyone over the age of 18.
      So, shouldn't we expect that living in a 'gun culture' like that, most Swiss would be like... swiss cheese? And yet, not only are most Swiss citizens relatively intact, but gun crime in Switzerland is actually very rare.
      "Guns are the problem! Guns aren't the answer!"
      Why is it that people who think that way, when they get into trouble, the first thing they ask for is guns? and people who know how to use them.
      Next time the U.N. has a conference, we'll put social workers on all those overpasses on the FDR Drive. After all, 'Sharpshooters are not the answer.'
      And in the schools, why does it have to be a choice between 'mandated' or 'forbidden?' Those are the only two choices? You must do it or you're not allowed to do it? What country are we living in anyway?
      We don't have to force teachers to carry guns and we don't have to outlaw them. Just allow anyone who knows how to use a gun (retired police, military, etc.) or wants to take the training, just allow them to carry. There are a lot of adults in every school. Have a dress code where every adult has to wear a jacket (maybe not such a bad idea anyway) and let the bad guys try and figure out who's packing what.
      And we can do the same in movie theaters, shopping malls, etc.

      Want to try screening out the mentally ill who want guns?  Good luck in figuring out the ones that are too dangerous to be allowed to buy a gun. And remember, a few years back,   homosexuality was also listed as a mental disorder. 

New Jersey Governor to Eat Attorney General Eric Holder

TRENTON (AP) - After a contentious meeting with the Attorney General, a distraught President Barack Obama flew off to New Jersey to meet with Governor Chris Christie. Confidential sources  have  revealed that, in response to the president's tearful pleadings, the governor consented to actually eat Attorney General Holder.
       "Ok, now, what do I do about that goofball McCain? Running off to Syria, making trouble and making me look bad. If only there was something. Hmm..."
       "Yeah, that's a tough one alright. But.....No, wait a minute. No, no, no. I can't."
       "Sure you can, Chris. He's not as big as he looks. He's a little guy. Wears elevator shoes. For me, buddy? Can't you do it for me?"
       "Both of them? No, I can't. I'll throw up. Remember, I had that operation."  
       "I heard it's reversible."

Monday, May 8, 2017

Phony Scandals? Oh, Never Mind

        Last week, the president went on the road to explain that everything would be fine if only people in Washington, i.e. Congressional Republicans, would stop inventing all those 'phony scandals.'
       He probably meant the phony IRS scandal (who was that conservative I saw you with last nite?) or the phony Benghazi scandal (where was the president and what was he doing? and, when he got to Las Vegas next morning for that fund raiser, "were the eggs prepared just the way you like them, Mr. President?") or the  phony 'fast and furious' scandal, etc. 
        Or, as Gilda Radna/Emily Latella would have understood,
        "What's all this fuss about Republicans and phony sandals?! Republicans always wear shoes, even in the shower.      
       "And there's nothing phony about sandals anyway. If you didn't have sandals..."  
       "...your feet would get all hot and sticky and..."
       "Not 'sandals,' Emily. 'Scandals.' The President said that if the Republicans would stop inventing all those phony scandals, the economy would grow like gangbusters and there would be peace in the Middle East and the planet would stop warming and the seas would stop rising and Michelle might let him back in the family quarters so he wouldn't have to sleep on the couch in the Oval Office anymore because his back is starting to hurt. Scandals, Emily. The President said that the Republicans are inventing phony scandals."

       "Oh. Never mind." 

The 'Georgie People'

      George Washington hated slavery,
      "Feh, pooh, yech, phooey. I hate slavery," he would often say.
      But yet, George and Martha Washington kept slaves. One day, he decided to do something about it. He called to his wife,
       "Martha, I hate slavery. It's cruel and inhuman."
       "Yes, Georgie. I know. You are a good and kind and just man. Everyone always says that about you."
       "And so, I've decided to free our slaves."
      "Yes, Georgie. You...what?!"
       "That's right, Martha. We talked about this before. Slavery is evil. I can't live with the guilt anymore. We've got to free our slaves."
       "But, Georgie. Slaves are so nice. They take such good care of us. They work  like...slaves."
       "I'm sorry, Martha. No sense in discussing it any further. My mind is made up. We're freeing the slaves, but not right away."
      And so George Washington added a codicil to his Will that freed all his slaves upon the death of both George and Martha and he immediately got a warm, fuzzy feeling because he knew that he was doing the right thing. 
      No one ever mentioned, at least not when he was within earshot, that George Washington had no heirs and so his slaves would have gone free upon his death anyway. Of course, he could have freed them while he was still alive...but, 'they were so nice.'
      And to this day, many honor the memory of the father of our country, each in his or her own way,
      The rich want to pay higher taxes than their maids so they hire accountants to help them lower their taxes (Huh?) and they get a warm, fuzzy feeling, especially when they go on the Late Show, because 'tax fairness' is a good thing.
      Supporters of the public schools, regardless of where they send their own kids, get a warm, fuzzy feeling whenever they talk about the importance of public education because 'public education built this country' and is a good thing...for your kids. Vouchers for the poor? Nope. Would destroy the public school system.
       Live Aid, Farm Aid, Let's-go-to-the-park-and-cry-and-do-the-wave-and-have-a-concert Aid all give everyone a warm, fuzzy feeling because singing about the poor is a VERY good thing. Just ask any poor person.   

      Diversity for me. Diversity for you. So, why do all my neighbors look just like me?

Buffeted by Buffett

     I like Warren Buffett.
     He's smart, lives relatively modestly (for a billionaire, that is), doesn't believe in spoiling his kids, is giving the bulk of his fortune to charity and, unlike most of America, is older than me. Most everyone else also likes and respects Warren Buffett.
      So, when Warren Buffett says that America is a rich country and that rich people don't pay their fair share and should pay more in taxes, he's saying what most people believe anyway. And now, it must be true, because WARREN BUFFETT also says it's true. Soak the Rich and Spread the Wealth can go right up there with E Pluribus Unum.
     But, wait a minute. With the possible exception of Kuwait, which is floating on a sea of oil so vast that you can poke a stick in the ground and it'll squirt out like borscht,  there are no 'rich countries.' Not America, not anywhere. There are only countries in which a lot of rich people live.

     The reason this difference is so important is that, if you live in a 'rich country' and you're a citizen, you're clearly entitled to some of the wealth. Hey, it's yours. On the other hand, if you live in a country with a lot of rich people and your neighbor happens to be one of them, well, 'what's it to you, buddy?'  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Jail The Teachers?

         "If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen...There was a great teacher somewhere in your life....government built the roads and bridges..." and so on.
        But if you're not responsible for your success, if it was do to 'a great teacher somewhere' or some government something-or-other, then who's responsible for the kids who didn't turn out so well? If you robbed a business instead of starting one, who should go to jail? (Anyone remember the name of little Bernie Madoff's first grade teacher? Where she lives? What size handcuffs she wears?)
       If you're ambitious enough and hard working enough (and, yeah, smart enough) to follow your passion and get it right, then of course you're the one who made it happen, who built it. Don't listen to anyone who tries to take it away from you.

        The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michaelangelo, not the carpenters who built the scaffolding he was lying on.

"Calling Mayor Mike. Calling Mayor Mike."

      The man in the blue spandex suit crouched patiently and waited as the armada of 
 32 oz. cups of sweetened beverages approached, or at least seemed to.   
      "Take that, and that, and that," he shouted, being careful to avoid tripping over his flowing red cape as he  struck each one in turn. "Make my New Yorkers fat, will you? Not while I'm mayor, you won't. Do you see this 'S' on my chest? Once it stood for 'smokes'. Then for 'salt'. Now it stands for you! Sweetened beverages! Ha, ha, ha? Go ahead and laugh. They laughed at Socrates too."
       "Nobody laughed at Socrates. They poisoned him."
       "Who said that?"
       "Who's 'me?' Where are you?"
       "Up here on top of the curtains, Michael. I'm your Rational Self."
       "Well, speak louder. I can hardly hear you."
       "So I've been told."
        "Well, what do you want?"
       "I want you to leave everyone alone before someone decides to poison you too. You're becoming a pest and you're driving people crazy. And, most important, what happens to you, happens to me. We're joined at the unconscious."
       "I just wanted to help. I want everyone to be healthy."        
       "They're adults, Michael. They all have to make their own decisions, more healthy living, less healthy living, in-between healthy living.  There's no right answer. It's not 'one size fits all.' Keep the streets clean and the snow shoveled and people will love you and remember you as a great mayor."       
       "Look at this. I'm attached to a philosopher."       
       "Come, we'll have a couple of Cokes."
        "16 oz.?"       
        "What a pickle you are."
        "No, too much salt."

        "Your choice, Mr. it should be."

Raise My Taxes

       "You sure he's deaf?"
       "As a stone."
       "Congressman, I came to see you today because, well, I feel a little guilty. I've done pretty well over the years and well, I really think my taxes should be raised."
        " You're a fine American. Good to see there's still some like you around. Done!"
        "Done?! What's done? Wait, I was only kidding. I..."
        "What did he say? Can't hear a word. Damn hearing aids. One minute they're working. Next, you're deaf as a stone." 
       If life has been good to you and you've been saying, for what seems like forever, and on every talk show that will have you, that you want Congress to raise your taxes because 'it's only fair' or because you shouldn't be 'paying taxes at a lower rate than your secretary' and, if it sometimes seems that nobody is listening, we have great news for you!
       You can raise your taxes right now. Today.
       Just go get your Form 1040 and turn to page 2. On line 76, 'Amount You Owe,' right after the number that your accountant told you that you HAVE to pay this year, put in a little plus sign. Then, right after the plus sign (+), put in a number for all the extra taxes that you WANT to pay and know that you should pay.
       That's it!

      So, Warren and Bill and Barack and Nouriel and Matt and Russell and Chris and Chelsea and...(fill in your name here),  go get your checkbook and you're ready to rock and roll! If the dog eats your checkbook, call the bank and you'll have another one before you can say, "Take my taxes, please." 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

We're All Catholics Now (or maybe we ought to be)

        Under Obamacare, Catholic Institutions, including charities, schools and hospitals, would be required to provide and pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-producing drugs for all employees in their health plans or follow the teachings of The Church and of their consciences and pay huge multi-million dollar fines.
       The justification, of course, is to protect women's health (or is that women's 'votes'?). Looks like Nancy Pelosi was righter than any of us thought when she said to vote for ObamaCare so we could find out what's in it. If only we had known...      
        And it doesn't matter, it's not an excuse, that most women, Catholic or otherwise, accept these practices.   
        Will we next accept that Yeshivahs be forced to offer free milk at every meal, even when they're serving meat, in order to protect children's health (and, of course, to fight the 'obesity epidemic') and would it be okay because most Jews don't keep kosher anyway?       
        I wonder what's in store for the Protestants and the Muslims and the Buddhists and the Sikhs and..... 

        "First they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for the....Then they came for....Then they came....Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Your Kids Can Go To School With The Obama Kids

        Well, maybe not the exact same school, but a similar school, i.e. a private school. In case you hadn't noticed, President Obama, who is a staunch supporter of public schooling, sends his kids to a private school. In other words, he is a staunch supporter of public schooling for...your kids.
        The last president who pledged to send his children to a public school was George Washington who then lived out his life without having any children. Is this a great country or what?
      And don't be so quick to accept the excuse that they're the President's kids and we have to make sure they're safe.      
      Remember, these kids travel in a bulletproof limousine, are surrounded  by crack Secret Servicemen (okay, and women), who are armed to the teeth, pledged to take a bullet for the First Family, are backed up by every military asset within 100 miles except possibly for Luke Skywalker and they're not safe in any Washington, D.C. public school? but your kids are?
      You should be able to use your tax money to pick the school of your choice. Give every child a voucher that can be used in any school the parent chooses. Take it out of the education budget. Less kids, less money. Everyone agrees, except the teachers' unions. Schools are for educating children. They're not supposed to be a jobs program For teachers.

       And don't listen to the 'experts' who tell you that you can't possibly know enough to pick the right school for your child. As a doctor who was once a teacher, I can tell you 100% positively and certainly that it's no more difficult to pick a good teacher than it always has been to pick a good pediatrician. In fact, it's easier.

Feel The Bern

      Maximos Harmoneus lived on the slopes of Mount Olympus where he spent his days contentedly making humus which he sold to the people in the village below at a handsome profit.    
      One day, there was a loud knocking at the door. It was his childhood friend, Protesteus.
      "Ah, Protesteus. Where's my gift?"
      "Wrong Greek."
      "Well, no matter. Come in."     
      "I have come to occupy you, Maximos."
      "Occupy me? What does that mean, to 'occupy' me?"
      "I do not exactly know, but I know that I must do it."
      "But why, Protesteus? Why must you occupy me?"
      "Because my goats give no milk and I cannot afford to repay the loans I needed to buy them. It's all your fault."
      "But, Protesteus, I told you that there would be no milk. They are all male goats. Males do not give milk. The fault, I am sorry to tell you my dear friend, is yours and yours alone. And don't blame your stars either."
      "Do not be impertinent, Maximos Harmoneus. And what of the decaying roads and bridges? Are they also my fault? How are they to be repaired?"   
      "With taxes, Protesteus, as always. The workers work, get paid, and then pay taxes out of their wages."
      "Maximos, this is Greece. The workers do not work."
      "Then why are they called 'workers'?"
      "No one knows."  
       "You mean that I, with my humus, am the only worker in all of Greece who works? And that is the reason I must be occupied? Speak of Greek Tragedies..."
      And so it came to pass that Maximos Harmoneus was occupied, saw the error of his ways and began producing humus like nobody's business. Soon there was enough to 'spread around' so that there was plenty for everyone in Greece to have his fill. The rich, as we know, can do that if they really want to.
                                               THE BEGINNING
(Compliments of Bernie Bernie who knows exactly how the world works and would explain it to us...if only we'd listen.)

California, Here We Come

      Most people agree that a lasting peace in the Middle East will require that the Palestinians eventually have a state of their own. If it were up to me, I'd give them California.
     Palestinians always look so worn out, so tired, probably because they work so hard. 
Californians never have that problem because they've figured out a way to start working at 21 and retire at 19 with 90% of their last year's salary plus overtime and bonuses. 
    Need some spare change? Just knock on any door and say "Tax the millionaires and billionaires but not you because you're good and kind and wonderful and you have...talent!"  In California, this is called, 'holding a fundraiser.'   
      [For best results, pick a house with a funny looking toy car in the driveway.  It's called a Prius and is only 'driven' on rare occasions to show 'awareness' of something or other. It's real purpose is to provide a place for the homeowner to hang his or her Save The Planet and Save The Whales bumper stickers.]

        Any wonder that the people who live here for awhile start thinking that the world they create is the world that...actually is?  Reality is what we say it is. Isn't it? Well, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Muslim Ban That Wasn't

        There are approximately 50 Muslim majority nations that make up the Islamic World.
        President Trump's  temporary travel ban only applied to seven of them, countries which comprise the list of 'countries of concern', a list that was compiled by the Obama Administration. 
        Muslims from the other 43, as well as Muslims living any place else in the world are to be  treated  exactly the same as anyone of any other religion. So, how can this be a 'Muslim ban' if it doesn't ban 'Muslims?'
        Suppose Communism were to have a resurgence in Eastern Europe and we decided to place restrictions on travel by folks coming from Poland or Hungary, most of whom are Christian. Would this count as a 'Christian ban?'
        Or if Nazis were to start making noise again in Germany and we were to restrict travel from that country until we could find out what was going on, another Christian ban? 
        If you don't let Blacks eat at your lunch counter because they're black, that's a 'Black Ban.' Keep Jews out of your country club because they're Jews and that's a 'Jewish Ban.'
        But if you restrict travel from countries that you believe might present a terrorism threat, it doesn't become a religious 'ban' just because most of the people in those countries  happen to be of a particular religion.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Send us your tired, your poor,,,ok, maybe just your tired."

        With all the talk about immigration bans and such, how come we hear so little anymore about preferential admissions from the Middle East of Christians and Yazidis?
        Aren't these the folks who are being subjected to widespread murder, torture and rape? Isn't that considered to be 'genocide' anymore? 
        Or could it be that it might have occurred to someone, or several someones, that the same American President who would stand up to genocide today in the Middle East might have also taken a stand against genocide in Europe 60 years ago and 'preferentially admitted' a few million Jews.
        Could make him look...good. Lot of very influential people out there might not want to see that happen.
        "Don't be ridiculous. No one would believe it. Everyone knows he's an anti-Semite."
        "You sure?"
        "Of course, I'm sure. He's a Republican, isn't he?"

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Under the Buttonwood Tree

        On May 17, 1792, a group of New York stockbrokers and merchants, who would forever after be known as the 'New York Nogoodniks', met under a buttonwood tree in front of 68 Wall Street and signed an agreement which would lead to the formation of the New York Stock Exchange.
        225 years, numerous bankruptcies, lost life savings and college funds, as well as a few suicides later and the world is still wondering why we don't do something to stop all the carnage. Didn't every government in the world just meet in Paris and decide that we can finally do something about the weather? 
        Well, if we can fix the weather, or the climate, which has been changing for four and half billion years and is controlled by changes in the sun, the planets, Earth orbit, Earth tilt, winds, currents, movement of tectonic plates, volcanoes, and pretty much anything else in nature that you can think of, don't you think we can control something as relatively simple as a stock market which has only been around for 225 years and is controlled 100% by...the folks? 
        Of course, there is always the possibility that nothing we do will actually be able to change the weather, or the climate, (take your pick), that it's as likely to be able to be controlled as would be the stock market and that the only people to really believe otherwise, or at least to say they do, will be governments who can impose new 'carbon taxes' and their friends in the solar, wind, and 'renewable' energy businesses.