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Archive for October, 2008

Once upon a time in a faraway land, I wrote the following verse for my daughters, but I never showed it to them or to anyone else.

Today, I dedicate these few lines to my daughters and to all who remember their own Halloweens. 

Once upon a simple time,
When corn shocks marched in frosty fields,
and pumpkins grinned on window sills,
a mind reclined in cautious ease,
alert for pulsing memories
of ghosts and ghouls and vampire bats,
yet strangely quiet for all that
until at last the dawn came fair
to prove there were no goblins there.
Still, even as the sunlight massed
and frost receded just as fast,
within that mind a lonesome elf
endeavored to release itself.

Happy Halloween!

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Thinking about the issue of prostitution in San Francisco, I was reminded of an incident related to several of us a few years ago by an apparatchik acquaintance.

He had returned after a visit to the city and claimed he’d been arrested by plainclothes officers for soliciting prostitution. In other words, my drinking and golfing buddy was a john.

He didn’t seem upset by the experience. Instead, he apparently looked at his new label as a badge of honor as he related his experience to a rapt audience.

He’d been standing on the corner somewhere near Union Square, leaning against a building and waiting, he said, for a bus. All of a sudden, two guys materialized out of nowhere and stood one on each side of him

I would imagine my friend was properly frightened as each grabbed an arm and moved him into a recessed doorway. Certain he was about to be robbed and beaten, my friend quickly removed his billfold and handed it to one of them, thinking perhaps they’d relax their hold and he could bolt.

No such luck. One of them took his billfold and rifled through it, looking at his identification card and driver’s license. Then, they stepped back and identified themselves as police officers. They accused him of standing on the corner for the purpose of soliciting prostitution and threatened to take him to jail.

They interrogated him for several minutes and finally released him with a stern warning about standing on corners in San Francisco.

When he returned to work and told his story, I thought it highly unlikely that he had been standing on a corner for the purpose of soliciting prostitution. He was a good looking guy who seemed to attract more than his share of good looking girls. Besides, he had a nice looking girlfriend. Why would a man like that solicit prostitution?

So, I believed his story without question. Until someone asked him an innocent question.

“What time did this happen?”

“Two-thirty,” he replies.

“ A.M or P.M.?” the questioner continued.

My friend remained silent, but I’m sure the listeners were kind of like me.

Why the hello would anyone stand on a corner near Union Square in San Francisco at 2:30 a.m. watching the Angels of the morning go by?

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Prostitution is said to be the world’s oldest profession. I hold to the belief that designing and selling fig leaves probably pre-dates it.

But that’s neither here nor there. San Francisco’s Proposition K, which would prohibit SF’s city officials from arresting and prosecuting prostitutes and pimps, brought to mind a thought that’s been percolating in my mind a long time.

Frankly, I’m amazed that prostitution exists at all given the abundance of free…uh… stuff in San Francisco and everywhere else in the United States and the world at large. Why, a thinking individual might ask, would anyone pay for something that’s practically forced on them?

It’s crazy to divert good money away from the essentials of life and into the pocketbook of a pimp. For the price of a one-minute sexual encounter, a person could enjoy a few drinks at the nearest saloon and a lengthier encounter with a willing partner.

But, prostitution does exist, and it’s just damned foolish that we can’t purchase shares of good American stock in a profitable corporation offering sexual favors from a broker. I’ll guarantee that the stocks will never decline and Wall Street will never again need to worry about excessive CEO salaries.

So, I am proposing a free-market system for prostitution. That’s the American way. Give members of the world’s most lucrative profession the same opportunities available to all Americans, guys like Joe the Plumber and my cousin.

Opening prostitution to the free-market would also reduce the tax dollars now used to ferret out and embarrass wayward politicians. The stigma of visiting a pro would disappear and along with it, publications like The National Enquirer. Politicians overall would govern more efficiently without the fear of public exposure.

We envision a whole new segment of the Gross National Product, one titled, aptly, Really Really Personal Services. The revenues derived from the RRPS segment would far outpace, say, the Transportation sector.

On the flip side, a free-market system of prostitution would give rise to strident calls for the regulation of free sex. If there is one thing Americans do not like, it’s someone engaging in unfair labor practices.

Given the pros and cons of Proposition K, we thus offer our endorsement. San Francisco’s action is one small step for many, one giant leap for free-market Republicans.

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Are you a real American? Here’s a checklist of Americanism. If you fit any of these profiles, you are not a real American.

  • You live in Northern Virginia.
  • You’re a Democratic congressman or women.
  • You’re a liberal.
  • You watch the Chris Matthews Hardball show.
  • You read the New York Times.
  • You’re gay (unless you’re a staunch closet gay Republican).
  • You’re a trial lawyer or anyone who has ever filed a lawsuit.
  • You prefer Grey’s Anatomy to Saturday Night Lights.
  • You’re a blond hanging around with a black guy.
  • You live in San Francisco or Marin County.
  • One of your ancestors was a Union soldier.
  • Your favorite movie is Love Story.
  • You look at people when you talk.
  • You believe Sarah Palin is totally hot in her $150,000 wardrobe with red leather jacket and black calf-length boots but totally unqualified to be Vice President.
  • You prefer Barack Obama over John McCain.

Here are five bonus conditions.

  • You’re a union member.
  • You think Cindy Sheehan is right.
  • Broccoli is your favorite vegetable.
  • You live beyond the borders of the Confederate States of America.
  • You believe in God but you wish he/she had been a little less humorous when creating Michelle Bachman.

All right, what’s your standing?

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Here we are fourteen days away from E-Day and I have this unexplainable feeling of detachment from reality. Have I reached a point of thinking “What will be will be?” Maybe.

Or has the extended campaign season just worn me out? That’s possible. But more than likely, it’s the sudden appearance of the word “socialist” in reference to Obama. Déjà vu all over again.

I would hazard a guess that not a single person leveling the accusation against Obama could define socialism even after reading the simplest dictionary definition or the deepest philosophical tome, and all of the explanations in between.

Joe the Plumber? You’ve got to be kidding. Sarah Palin? She who passed through five or six colleges before receiving a degree? John McCain? The guy who finished at or near the bottom of his class at the U.S. Naval Academy? Give me a break.

Further, I’ll bet none of these could identify the socialist in a room of one even if the socialist were dressed in a yellow chicken costume with a flashing neon sign above its head that read “Socialist below.”

I’m not going to define socialism today and maybe never since I’m not that smart. Suffice to say, socialism is a political and economic system in which the state owns the means of production and distribution.

The United States no longer produces anything but hot air. And for a long time our government has permitted foreign countries to operate large segments of America’s transportation infrastructure.

Given these realities, seems to me we’d be closer to the truth if we said that foreign socialist states pretty well own the U.S. anyway, thanks to the practice of America’s large corporations of farming out their production facilities, with the full and complete complicity of the American government.

But—lesson learned—the meaning of words is irrelevant. Words mean just what say they mean and nothing more. We’ve become the Wonderland of Alice. Or is it the 1984 of Orwell?

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I’ve always been amazed and sometimes confused about Republican success in branding others as unpatriotic, un-American, and traitorous.

The attack has recently been successfully leveled against Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and Max Cleland. And now, the Republicans are pouring it on to an unprecedented extent against Barack Obama.

In the cases of Kerry and Cleland, the attacks reached so low that Cleland, a quadriplegic who lost his limbs in Vietnam, was attacked by a man without a single credential that would suggest he himself is anything but a coward.

But Cleland’s loss of his Georgia congressional seat wasn’t entirely the doing of his Republican opponent. The Georgians in Cleland’s district who believed the filth from the mouth of his morally degenerate opponent were overwhelmingly the culprits. Their apparent level of intelligence was so low as to render them incapable of understanding Cleland’s sacrifice. He put his life on the line for America and in the process, he left parts of himself in Vietnam while many Americans and many Georgians were happy that men like Max were on the front lines instead of them.

In the John Kerry instance, he made the mistake of floating through the election on the assumption that “the American people are too smart” to believe the lies of the Republicans. History tells us that Americans are easily whipsawed by deceptive and untrue advertisements on television. How else could we explain, for example, Dukakis’ precipitous drop in the polls after the Willie Horton ad ran. Only an absolute idiot would be swayed by such pap.

In Obama’s case, the paramount accusation is that Obama is “palling around with terrorists.” The charge refers to his association with William Ayers, a 1960s radical who is now a professor of English at the University of Chicago. I suppose by the Republican logic “palling around” is an indictment of the administration of the university and all of the students who enrolled in Ayers’ classes over the years.

I suppose “paling around” also includes every member of a ten-member charitable trust who sat on the board with Ayers. Some of those board members work for and represent a few of the largest corporations in America. And, Holy Mary Mother of God, Ayers is on another charitable trust established and funded by staunch Republican Walter Annenberg.

But worse than all of these slanders, Michelle Bachman, Republican Representative from Minnesota, charged yesterday that the Democratic members of the U.S. Congress are un-American and should be investigated. I watched the entirety of her interview on the Chris Matthews’ Hardball show and I note that the Politico summary of her words is woefully inadequate to capture her despicable hatred for virtually everything within the borders of the United States. My assessment? This woman is dangerously unhinged. If she actually believes the words she uttered with unblinking, bug-eyed conviction, thinking Minnesota voters ought to consign her to the scrap heap of irrelevant humans. Her words were the most traitorous of all.

The Democratic response to the drumbeat of charges from the Republicans has been muted to non-existent. Only Joe Biden has responded with any heat, but his answers sound defensive. He responds to charges instead of leveling his own. He should question the patriotism of anyone who seeks to wall off one-half of the American population from political life. He should attack vigorously John McCain’s connection to the Alaskan Independence Party, an organization that once included Todd Palin as a member. No one has been called to account for this traitorous relationship. Instead, the Democrats play possum while the Republicans celebrate Todd and Sarah as the ultimate defenders of American freedoms.

At one time in its history, the Grand Old Party was comprised of thoughtful men and women with a sensible and reasonable approach to the process of campaigning. Occasionally, they floated a good idea. In fact, conservative ideology has at least one basic plank that makes sense. They decry the disintegration of the American family. That’s good. But they carry the ideology to extreme limits, casting blame on those who are not members of a traditional family, individuals such as single women with children, women single or married who wish an abortion, or working women. A good ideology has been corrupted by bad individuals who have reveled in a poisonous atmosphere of blame.

The modern Republican Party has helped me understand one thing, though—non-Republicans are scum, terrorists, lunatics, traitors, commie trash, Canucks, and Frogs.

That’s a helluva fine, uplifting message for the youth of America.

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Credit Crunch Anyone?

A credit card company that I’ve been with for eons sent me a notice yesterday reducing my credit limit. The reason: my spending history. I haven’t been buying enough.

Somehow, the logic escapes me. The company wants me to buy more, on their credit card, of course, so its solution is to reduce my credit limit.

I was never the brightest bulb in the closet, and this proves once and for all that my economic IQ has just fallen another 20 points.

Suddenly, I feel like my lax buying habits are responsible for the collapse of the global economic system.

Should I just cancel the card? Or go on a spending spree? In the scheme of my life, this card really isn’t necessary. It’s just one of many in my billfold. We never know when an emergency might pop up requiring the use of this particular card.

But…this is a real dilemma, one of those forks in the road. Will I follow the well-worn path or chose the one less traveled. My decision will make all the difference.

Joe the Deceptive Plumber

Remember John McCain’s Joe the Plumber, the guy McCain said would lose money under Obama’s tax plan?

Turns out Joe is not only not a plumber, he doesn’t have a plumbing license. And his income isn’t $250,000 as we’ve been led to believe. He works for another company drawing peanut wages. His taxes would go down under Barack’s plan.

But, wait, there’s more. Seems Joe the Deceptive Plumber owes over a thousand dollars in delinquent taxes.

But, it doesn’t end there. Joe wouldn’t even be able to vote if an Ohio Republican party lawsuit succeeded. The suit seeks to disqualify anyone from voting if just one item of personal information on their voter’s registration records doesn’t match information in federal databases. Seems Joe isn’t registered under the same name on some records.

Joe is fortunate, however, the Republican lawsuit went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which today kicked it out.

So, Joe can now vote for McCain just as he intended to do all along, although he would be better off tax-wise under Obama.

That’s real logic for you.

A Landslide for Obama?

That’s what a bunch of Democrats and Talking Pin Heads are predicting.

But, wait. What’s the old saying? Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it’s mistakes, or something like that.

Google Harry Truman-Thomas Dewey and you will probably find a bunch of info about how the Dewey camp, the Republicans, Democrats galore, and the Gallup Organization predicted a Dewey landslide in the election of 1948.

The Chicago Tribune even ran a banner headline reading Dewey Wins!

But, lo and behold, when the votes were counted, Truman took the whole ball of wax.

Truman was even pictured holding up a copy of the Tribune with its blazing headline as ole Harry grinned from ear to ear.

So, you Obama rooters, take note. Thomas who?

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