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Archive for the ‘Bureaucracy’ Category

According to Joe the Talking Head Who Smokes Cigars and Sweats Profusely, here is absolute proof that Obama is a failed President.

  1. Tiger Woods isn’t going to take questions at his public appearance tomorrow.
  2. Heidi Montag is going to bare it all for Playboy.
  3. A Utah state senator proposes to eliminate the 12th grade in Utah schools.
  4. Tim Urban replaces Chris Golightly in American Idol’s Top 24.
  5. God told Moses, “Do not lust in your heart for Hollywood bimbos, either.”
  6. A plague of grasshoppers is expected to descend on Northern Nevada this year.
  7. Joe stepped on a crack and nothing happened.
  8. The alien body in Area 51 is the real Barack Obama.
  9. Joe thinks, but he isn’t certain, Gavin Newsom (will) (will not) (who cares) run for Lieutenant Governor of San Francisco.
  10. Dick Cheney supports waterboarding.
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That’s a headline that will probably never find its way into newspepers in California, even though it’s perfectly logical when you think about it.

Gavin Newsom, the Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco, has been mulling a run for Lieutenant Governor of California. The major duty of the Lt Gov is to act as “Vice-Executive of the State of California.”

I’m sure the subtle double meaning of “vice executive” hasn’t escaped your attention.

According to Dictionary.com, the word vice has several meanings. Heading the list is “an immoral or evil habit or practice.”

Naturally, folks in the Heartland have probably already pegged the State of California in general and the City of San Francisco specificlally as the universal center for the practice of immoral and evil habits of all sorts.

Gavin Newsom came to their attention when he declared same-sex marriages legal in the City and immediately began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In the minds of many dedicated Red Staters, homosexuality is the ultimate vice, an act voluntarily engaged in by a depraved segment of the population, most of whom reside in San Francisco.

To this segment of America, it is therefore merely stating the obvious to consider the Lieutenant Governor of Californiato be the state’s vice executive in the most evil sense of the word.

To most reasonable and erudite individuals, however, the word “vice” may evoke images of a “combining form meaning “deputy,” used in the formation of compound words, usually titles of officials who serve in the absence of the official denoted by the base word: viceroy; vice-chancellor.

In other words, the Lieutenant Governor acts as Governor when the Gov is absent for any one of a variety of reasons.  The Lt Gov acts in lieu thereof, a rather innocent interpretation.

Still a third group may use vice in an entirely different sense:  any of various devices, usually having two jaws that may be brought together or separated by means of a screw, lever, or the like, used to hold an object firmly while work is being done on it.

The members of this group, to which I belong, will probably respond, when asked to define vice, by grabbing the questioner’s thumb, sticking it between the two jaws and tightening the screws until he or shc screams.

This is exactly how I feel when think about the U.S. Senate.

Postscript. The ultimate outcome of the legality of same-sex marriage in California was settled, sort of, with a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The Amendment succeeded because conservative forces in California, with a little help from their friends outside of the state, carried the day. But Newsom gained a reputation as a champion of same-sex marriage nationwide.

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Will he or won’t he? No, wait. Won’t he or will he? No, wait. He won’t, but maybe he will.

What’s all the fuss about? The media and the blogosphere have been abuzz in recent days with speculation about whether or not The Gav will run for Lieutenant Governor.

Lieutenant Governor? Is that still a real California state elective office? What does a Lieutenant Governor do anyway?

For a more complete rendition of the Lieutenant Governor’s duties and responsibilities than I have the time and interest to repeat here, see this Wikipedia page. It’s as good as most job descriptions I’ve read, mundane as all get out, vague, ambiguous, and open to more interpretation than the U.S. Constitution.

One part did catch my eye, however. The Lieutenant Governor serves as “vice-executive of California.”

Now, that’s a job I might consider running for myself.

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The world has ended several times in my life. Each time, I usually awakened the following morning, automatically checking for functioning body parts and mental faculties just in case my room wasn’t a replica created by some extraterrestrial force the way things often happen in The Twilight Zone or on a Hollywood movie set ala moon landings.

So far things have always checked out, although I admit the possibility of delusions implanted in my mind by those same unknown forces. Nevertheless, I went about my business as if the world remained unchanged. My life quickly returned to normal as I settled down and waited patiently for the next end of the world.

Now, the next one is rapidly approaching. If the mammography guidelines recently proposed by a federal task force are implemented, we’ll have breast cancer panels and God knows what else. The end of the United States is near. And we all know the U.S. is the world.

But there’s a discordant note in the current state of hysteria around us. As an occasional flash of clarity strikes, reason tells us this one just doesn’t track. We wonder, what does the word “guidelines” denote and connote?

Is a guideline a matter of law? Has Congress passed and the President signed a law mandating breast examinations based on some arbitrary number picked out of a hat? Has the President issued an Executive Order directing the establishment of a Breast Examination Panel tasked to decide who can and who cannot have an examination?

To the best of my knowledge, none of these has taken place. In fact, these same guidelines were recommended 12 years ago. No one to the best of my knowledge panicked then and nothing occurred to change the guidelines. So, what accounts for the current hysteria?

Perhaps this is just one more example of the politics of the slippery slope. We’re all intelligent people here. We understand that a slippery slope kicks in when a specified action is considered to be the first step that automatically and irrevocable leads to the complete and total destruction of mankind.

In politics, the slippery slope is a common political tactic employed by both major power-holding political parties to scare the crap out of the public. The purpose of a slippery slope accusation is to arouse public emotions and stir some sort of rebellion against the programs of the other party.

It’s a very effective tactic. We Americans are quite susceptible to fear-mongering for a couple of reasons. We are distinctly uneasy about the domestic economy and its direction. We fear a loss of our hard-earned gains and for the future of our children.

Compounding our domestic fears, America’s perceived fading influence on the international stage fuels fears of a takeover by unspecified enemies somewhere out there. Recently, there has been a reactivation of out fright response engendered by talk of a murky New World Order and the Illuminati. And United Nations forces are rumored to be secretly patrolling remote roads in the United States.

Taken together, domestic and international factors create a sort of free-floating anxiety that hovers over us like the proverbial raincloud hanging over Joe Blitzfit In this environment, nerves are on edge and any change from the comfortable and known is bound to be met with panic.

Here’s the reality. There is little if any chance the proposed guidelines will negatively affect women’s health. When it comes right down to it, women are going to ignore the guidelines and continue their self-examination followed by a mammogram if their examination finds something.

Further, no doctor in his or her right mind is going to refuse the request of a health-conscious woman who wishes a mammogram. It’s insanity to think so. Obstructive medicine is a sure road to professional death. A few doctors in the past have hung up their practices because of the cost of liability insurance or a plethora of government regulations. And some have refused to perform certain medical procedures, primarily abortions, because of a moral conviction, but in my judgment there is no similar moral bar to a mammogram.

Will insurance companies refuse to pay for a mammogram beyond the limits suggested in the guidelines? That’s highly doubtful. The trend lately has swung toward a strong belief that medical treatment is a matter between a patient and his or her doctor. The era of a remote figure that may or may not be a physician sitting in an antiseptic office somewhere and automatically disapproving certain claims immediately is slowly fading.

True, insurance companies make a little money by denying claims. But I would almost be willing to bet that the amount of money collected on premiums far exceeds the amount of money paid out in claims.

Insurance companies aren’t going to jeopardize those premiums by adopting highly unpopular practices that might drive away institutions such as the federal and state governments, which pump enormous amounts of money into the coffers of insurers through government-offered group health coverage plans. The insurance companies are greedy but they aren’t fiscally dumb.

I know it’s easy for a man to be blasé about this matter. Men have breast cancer, too, but compared to the rates for women, the numbers are few. We thus tend to downplay the problems of women. That’s wrong on the faced of it.

It’s equally wrong for the federal task force to base its recommendations solely on statistics. Ignoring the human factor is a surefire road to irrelevance. As well, it calls into question the validity of the panel’s findings. Governments, all governments in the U.S., federal, state, and local, do not possess a great deal of credibility as it is. The feds insensitive treatment of this matter has lowered its credit score immensely.

In the final analysis, the anxiety and hysteria over the panel’s recommendations constitute nothing more than wasted energy. For once in our lives, we ought to ignore the slippery slope. Let’s send a signal to fear-mongering politicians. Let’s resolve that the end of the world is not at hand.

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I’ve been somewhat preoccupied over the past month or so. Almost all of my time during that period was related to my cataract surgery. In retrospect, it seems I was preparing for surgery on one eye and recovering afterward while at the same time, getting ready for surgery on the second eye.

Yesterday, the doctor completed the second operation and this morning I visited him in his office for a follow up examination. His verdict, I no longer need eyeglasses.

That’s bad and good. First the bad news. I like my Top Guns because they add overall character to my face and hide those mousey-blue bags that give it that sad, droopy effect. I am  not that sad and I can still wear Top Guns, but the lenses will be plain glass insted of prescription glass. On the other hand, the expense of a new pair every year or so will be reduced dramatically. That’s good.

But the doctor’s happy demeanor when he broke the news followed by my joyful tap dance wasn’t the end of the process. Before he gives me the final all clear, I will need to continue a regimen of eye drops in both eyes three times daily and at least two more examinations. I fully expect things to move along quite well, and in a couple of weeks, the doctor will give me his final clearance to resume my everyday activities.

Pending the end of the process, I have a couple of things to do. The first is to renew my driver’s license. The doctor gave me a certificate of 20/20 vision this morning, so I’ll wait until early next week when I’ll visit the driver’s licensing agency on a slack day. The certificate will permit me to forgo that pesky eye exam at the counter. That dratted test had been a royal pain in the arstermeister for me and here’s why.

The aforementioned 20/20 vision is in one eye. The other one is virtually gone, 20/50 or something like that, but the cataract surgery on it permitted enough light to reach the optic nerve for absolutely great binocular vision.

In other words, when my eyes work together as a team, my vision is virtually perfect. But when they operate individually the way we’re forced to use them to look through the vision test machine one eye at a tine, one works well enough to pass the at-the-counter vision test, the other doesn’t.

This makes for an awkward situation, and on at least one occasion I was denied a renewed license until I presented the eye examiners with a document from an ophthalmologist certifying to my ability to drive. I tried to explain to her that the vision test is stacked against prospective licensees. No one drives around with a machine strapped to the head, looking first into one peep hole and then another. We drive with two eyes working together. Therefore, why not test both eyes together.

Moreover, I told her, we don’t drive around squinting at and searching for individual letters on a stop sign or a direction sign on a freeway. Driving, good driving, requires the driver constantly to sweep traffic conditions ahead, with both eyes I added. Closing one eye to read a sign is a hazard to our health.

Despite my impeccable logic, she forced me to spend the time and money for a certificate certifying that I could safely operate a motor vehicle. So every few years just before my license expired, I’d tromp down to the ophthalmologist’s office for an eye test and another certificate.

Now, the embarrassment and inconvenience of rejection is over. The two lenses in my eyes will never be clouded by cataracts. With my restored 20/20 eyesight, I’ll be able to waltz through the vision test because, in this state, one 20/20 eye is all that’s required for license renewal.

But the ultimate result of my cataract surgery is the ability to see things I haven’t seen in years, things like cars, pedestrians, and loose tires rolling across the freeway. It’s a miracle. I encourage anyone who needs cataract surgery but has hesitated to just do it.

A couple of cautions, though. Don’t be surprised when you look in the mirror fot the first time after your surgery and see an odd looking face staring at you. In my own case, the bags under my eyes were so huge, I may need to check them the next time I fly. And for some reason, I saw more wrinkles and sags and cellulose on those vaunted Hollywood idols the first time I booted up my 46 inch high def than I could have imagined. Apparently, the high def techs haven’t figured out the finer points of air brushing pixels.

Despite these minor shortcomings, however, my world is brighter and more beautiful than I remember. The colors are vivid, the sky bluer, the greenery greener, the ocean aqua-er, and the inside and outside of my loved ones more beautidul than ever.

Not all is sunshine and roses, though. The surgery won’t clean your windshield. I learned that the hard way this morning when I could hardly see the road despite my 20/20 vision.

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This past Saturday, we drove from Annapolis to Philadelphia to scout out Philly’s historic locations, snap a few photos, snack a little bit, and get sunburned a lot. And, we walked our buns off.

Philly’s primary historical landmarks are concentrated amid lots of tall buildings without historical significance at the moment, but though the historic area may be small in size, it seems larger when you just sort of meander around.

And that’s what we did. We meandered through the Liberty Bell exhibit, the Philadelphia Mint, and the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and a host of other Colonial personalities instrumental in developing the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution of the United States. The sense of history and of the times made our meandering worthwhile.

However, we weren’t able to tour Independence Hall. Tickets are required for entry, but by the time we arrived, the day’s ticket quota was gone. According to the National Park Service, tickets are used as a means of spreading the visitor flow throughout the day. Sounds reasonable to me, but I was irked nevertheless. I wanted to see where those Colonial firebrands stood and condemned the British to hell, a tradition that still lives when the subject of universal health care arises.

Interestingly, as we waited in a rather long line to enter the Liberty Bell exhibit, a group of people stood near the line and handed out pamphlets about the Falun Gong. This is a religious group whose members have been persecuted in China, and on this day, the group’s message and writings were aimed at those who in appearance were probably Asian. At least, they overlooked us and others who resembled us, probably assuming, and correctly so, that the number of non-Asians fluent in the Chinese language would range from nil to nada to zilch.

Before I reached a point of utter exhaustion, we decided to survey real history. With our trusty GPS activated, we headed cross-town to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where Rocky ran up about a million steps and then, at the top, gyrated around, finally assuming that triumphant pose now enshrined in a statue at the bottom of the steps.

We, along with a few thousand others in line, stood in front of the statue when out turn came, emulating Rocky’s pose for our own personal pictorial posterity. Like the fool I can sometimes be, I stumbled on the damned pedestal and almost fell, much to the delight of the smirking crowd. I didn’t blame them. Hell, I would have smirked, too. But I recovered nicely and pranced around with arms raised just like Sylvester Stallone did in 1976, 200 years after those rugged firebrands of 1776 may have pranced inside Independence Hall. I think George and Thomas would understand Rocky’s triumph if they were around today.

After the picture-taking session, we walked to the flight of concrete steps Rocky had enshrined in modern American cultural lore so many years ago. Four of us ran up them just as Rocky before us. One of us had better sense and sat down nearby, watching the other members of our party run up and then back down. One female member ran back up and down again, and I was surprised that she wasn’t winded in the slightest when she returned.

By now, the hours we had set aside for our sightseeing were about over. We headed back, taking a route through New Jersey and Delaware and onto US-301into Maryland. As we drove, I noted when we left one state and entered another and thought about the differences. Aside from the obvious—Welcome to Maryland, e.g.—are the people different? Do they look different? Do they speak different languages, New Jerseyese, for example? Do they think differently?

These are philosophical questions for another time. For the moment, suffice to say we had a good time and enjoyed learning a little bit about Philly. As my blogging cohort, Alexandra Jones, a native of Philly, might say, “Go Phillies!” In honor of her devotion to her team, I shouted those words as we passed the Phillies stadium on our way out of town.

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I’ve been away from the ‘net since leaving Texas for Maryland, so I’ve been catching up with a few things, stuff you can’t get into heaven without, like a surplus of junk emails. It feels good when I delete them in batches without reading them. And as Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “What is right is what you feel good after,” or words similar to those.

But one thing I haven’t felt good about. Before leaving Texas, I shipped my laptop and some very important papers via FedEx. Yes, I know it was a dumb decision, but I had a couple of good (I thought) reasons. The laptop and the papers were crammed into a laptop carrying case that would have made wrestling the thing through security, a mile walk to Gate 43 and more muscles than I possess to lift the whole thing into the overhead rack. Besides, I had another carry-on equally as cumbersome. At the time, shipping seemed to be the most logical solution.

At any rate, I hauled the whole thing to a mailbox packing and shipping place staffed with friendly Texans and arranged for its arrival in Maryland the following Wednesday. And then I paid a handsome sum of money for the professional services of the packaging company and FedEx, secure in the belief that the America free enterprise system is an error-free environment, what with professional humans and 21st Century technology tracking my package from Port Arthur to my doorstep in a faraway state.

On the appointed date, we decided on a short daytrip to the Air and Space Museum Annex near Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia. We knew FedEx would place my package carefully near the door if, by chance, delivery was early. And we knew the delivery person would leave a door tag, informing us that my package was either on the porch below the tag or deposited in the care of a trusted neighbor in this respectable, young professional neighborhood.

When we returned around three in the afternoon, we saw neither a package nor a door tag. Like good, trusting, patriotic Americans, we figured we were on the end of FedEx’s schedule for the day. No big deal. But just in case, we booted up a desktop and entered our assigned tracking number.

Holy Schiese! Our package had been delivered. But not to our address. At 2:45 p.m. or thereabouts, a FedEx home delivery driver had dropped off our package at a totally dissimilar address in Damascus, Maryland, a full sixty miles north of us.

Jesucristo! We panicked. For the balance of the day and into the following morning, we burned up the lines between us and FedEx. Lord knows how many customer relations specialists or whatever we talked to. And Lord knows how many different explanations we received for the glitch, which we didn’t consider a glitch but a major foul-up. Who cared about North Korea, Paula Abdul and American Idol, or Harry Reid’s constant whining. We cared nothing for Keith and Bill-O’s juvenile feud. Obama’s birth certificate? So what if the guy was born in Kenya? We wanted out package.

To further complicate matters, one of us drove the 60 miles to Damascus, located the address our box had been delivered to, and knocked on the door. A nice lady answered and when informed of the purpose of the visit, said, yes, the package had been delivered. She was even kind enough to retrieve the opened box from her trash bin. Only problem is it wasn’t our box. It was another box entirely with our tracking number written across the top.

Long story short, we fired up the lines to FedEx’s customer service office, threatening to call every 30 minutes until my package was located and delivered. One of the agents finally informed us that the package should arrive tomorrow.

And, lo, on the following day, a FedEx delivery van pulled into the driveway and a neatly dressed man stepped out carrying the package.

“Good morning,” he said politely, “here’s your package.”

What a let down. Curse polite and helpful employees. They take the joy out of blaming others. We were prepared for eternal cultural warfare in the manner of the ancient Romans and the modern Demorepublocrats.

Addendum: How did the mix up begin? Two packages with the same tracking number. A computer glitch? Human error? In the final analysis, just another unsolvable mystery.

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