NOVEMBER 2017

NOVEMBER  2017
The Rise of the Billionaires Leaves the Middle Class Stranded

Translate

Amazon Contextual Product Ads

Friday, March 14, 2008

THE IDES OF MARCH, 2008

I can’t think of a more appropriate winner of this year’s “Ides of March Laurel & Dagger Award” than “The Spritz”, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, the “Sheriff of Wall Street”, Time Magazine’s “Crusader of the Year “for 2002, the man the New York Times described as the very definition of “…ambition and relentlessness…a prosecutorial avenger”, whom the Wall Street Journal condemned as “The Lord High Executioner”. He was elected in November of 2006 with a 69% plurality (Hint, hint) and then retreated to a 25% approval rating by December of 2007: and then in four more short days in March he went from “Elliot Ness” to “Elliot Mess”, and inspired my favorite headline from the past 12 months; the New York Post’s plaintive, “Ho, No!”
*
And if there is anybody out there who has yet to drink the “Obama kool-aide” or the “Hillary hemlock”, or even those on the right willing to down a “McCain Viagra Stinger” in their hunger for political power, they might take note that humorless sanctimonious egotistical hypocrites are just as common on the left as on the right. Read some blogs if you doubt it. So many angry people who expect politics to solve injustice. But the reality is that what Bush and “The Spritz” and Obama and Aaron Burr all have in common is that they are (or were) all politicians. They give speeches, they don’t do justice. You would think that over the last 2,500 years that observation would have been made by more people.
*
Julius Caesar was awarded the first L&D in 44 B.C. when the Roman Senate imposed term limits on him. It was a cruel death, and the best that could be said for it is that when Caesar died he was surrounded by allies. They were all holding knives, but if politics is based on loyalty and trust it is also true that no politician ever gets ahead without sacrificing a few friends now and again. The difference between a good politician and a great politician is the quality of the friends they leave “twisting slowly in the wind”, to quote Chuck Colson. In the end Caesar’s enemies were almost his equals, while the New York Governor was surrounded by nothing but sycophants and timid ass-kissers. If they weren’t powerful enough to restrain him, they were also not powerful enough to prop him up.
*
This is why I have always admired Alcibiades, the first retroactive posthumous winner of the L&D, almost 400 years before Julius Caesar betrayed his last ally, Lucius Lucceius. But Alcibiades was far more cunning than Caesar and was perhaps the greatest politician until Abraham Lincoln. Alcibiades was devastatingly handsome and brilliantly devious. And he was no sexual hypocrite. He was willing to sleep with anybody (including Socrates and Plato and a Spartan Queen) to gain a political advantage. It must have taken considerable courage to enter “Helen’s den” and Socrates’ bed, but power was the only bedmate Alcibiades ever really lusted after. And he seems to have had that lust for power in common with "The Spitz". Alcibiades’ only weakness was that throughout his life he was convinced he was the only man qualified to lead Athens. He was usually right but this constant conviction also handicapped him: as it did “The Spitz” - except that after having been screwed over once by “Client Number Nine” no politician was ever willing to go to bed with him again; while Athens repeatedly surrendered to Alcibiades’ charms - they always regretted it in the morning but they climbed into bed with him anyway.
*
It isn’t like "The Spitz" has the New York monopoly for lying to the voters or committing crimes. The Brooklyn D.A. has video of Democratic Assemblywoman Diane Gordon agreeing to a $2 million bribe, Republican Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun sponsored a bill to strengthen anti-stalking laws just before pleading guilty to two counts of stalking, and Democratic State Senator Efrain Gonzalez is accused of using half a million dollars of taxpayer money to buy Yankee tickets, pay or his daughter’s schooling and prop up his cigar company, and all of these politicians are still in office. But "The Spitz" is already gone. Why?
*
This priggish egomaniac told his opposition foe, the New York Republican Assembly leader, “I’m a fucking steamroller, and I’ll roll over you.” No wonder then that Billionaire Mort Zuckerman, owner of the Daily News, noted “The Spitz’s” monumental stupidity. “I don't know of anybody…that hasn't been totally stupefied by it,” he said. Zuckerman’s newspaper refereed to the end of “The Spitz’s” “Reign of Error”, and his sudden journey from “Sex Gov to Ex Gov”, and in its own succinct headline, “Spitz Quits”. One Bloomberg writer noted that "The Spritz", “Like many scolds …seemed to believe his burning pursuit of right, justified …his boorishness, (and) the overweening use of his offices…” In the end the tune "The Spitz" danced to was not “They Shot The Sheriff”, but “The Sheriff Shot Himself”. And lady irony demonstrated once again that many of those who live by the sword have a hard time keeping their swords sheathed when they really ought to.
*
And on a side note, this coming April Fool’s day Union College was supposed to host “A Conversation About the Future of Schenectady with Silda Wall Spitzer”, the Governor’s lovely wife and mother of his two daughters. But by Wednesday of last week some OC sufferer on the college’s staff had sent out a note announcing the event was postponed “...due to events at the State Capital”: so much for prostitution being a victimless crime. Still, Nora Ephron, who has some familiarity with betrayal by a husband, could observe, “… should he stay on, Spitzer will probably have far more time to focus on being governor, in that he won't have to spend hours on the phone with someone named Temeka arguing over his 55 per cent deposit, his in-store credit, the cash limits on bank machine withdrawals in late-night Washington, and ways for Kristen the prostitute to get into his hotel room without her having to give her name at the check-in desk downstairs….It's one of the things you have to admire about Senator Larry Craig: he's still there. And who can say he's doing a better or worse job than he was before? And compared to whom in the United States Senate?"
*
Yes, everybody has an opinion about “The Spitz’s” public self immolation. Roger Simon, on The Politico, observed, “To paraphrase an old joke, if stupidity ever gets to $200 a barrel, I want drilling rights to Elliot Spitzer’s head…(his) behavior was completely loony. Even if he never imagined being caught…didn’t he ever worry…one of the prostitutes might try to sell her story to a supermarket tabloid…?” The Wonkette noted that Virgin Airlines will be running a full page ad in the Toronto Metro showing “The Spitz” with a thought bubble reading, “I’m tired of being treated like a number.” And on the Huffington Post, Bill Maher ranted, “I’m going to throw the remote through the TV if one more news twink says something on the order of "…what drives a successful man like Eliot Spitzer to risk it all..." …..Let me help you: because he wants to get his nut off!” Hollywood Madam want-to-be Heidi Fleisch, being fairly simple herself, made it all sound fairly simple. "What's the mystery? If the guy wants to get laid, he wants to get laid."
*
For myself, I suspect that if you look up “Schmuck” in that great dictionary in the sky you will find it illustrated by a picture of "The Spitz". The closest anyone came to actually defending Governor Schmuck Face was Joe Scarborough, ex-GOP moralist, who wondered, “We're in a war on terror, for god's sake, and you're wiretapping hookers?" Listen, with friends like Morning Joe you don’t need enemies. And to top it all off last year Governor Spitzer signed a new state law which more than doubled the sentence for solicitation of prostitution. Its not often you can say, “Thank God he was busted by the Feds”. But a newly unemployed staffer for “The Spitz” had the final word on "The Spitz's" moral transgression when he observed, “He got laid. We got screwed.”
*
So the winner of this year’s “Ides of March Laurel and Dagger Award” is Ex-to be New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, schmuck supreme, jackass juggernaut, prick & prig personified, the biggest ass in government at the moment, "The Spritz". And the sooner he is out of the news for good the better for everybody concerned. It is as if Shakespere had forced poor old Julius Caesar to mumble, “Et tu, Julius?”
- 30 -

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

FOLLOW MY LOGIC

I’ll bet the cops knew what they would find when they spotted a subtly rocking car with steamed up windows parked on a side street in The Hague, Belgium. Simple logic told them that inside would be a naked man engaged in coitus with a naked woman. And indeed, that was what they found in the car: and if the man was 58 years old while the woman was just 19, that still did not seem to violate their expectations. There is no accounting for taste, as they say. And even when the 19 year old woman insisted that she was not a prostitute but a volunteer participant, the police officers might have been dubious but they could hardly have been flummoxed. However, when the man was asked to explain why he was engaged in the act of sex with a woman on a public street they were simply flabbergasted. The couple was, explained the man, engaged in trials of several erectile dysfunction pills. This was an original and perfectly logical explanation, which left the police discombobulated, flabbergasted, thunderstruck and bowled over. It would require hours of investigation to verify or disprove. So they simply arrested him for possession of the small amount of marijuana found in his car, and let it go at that.
*
Logic is deceptively subjective and has not always been a favored tactic for problem solving. You can see its growing popularity in the September 1726 case of 25 year old Mary Toft. The married mother of three summoned Dr. John Howard, one of the new obstetricians, complaining of abdominal pains. And there, in the doctor’s presence, she gave “birth” to a dead, skinned rabbit. Over the next few days Mary “birthed” several more ex-bunnies. Dr. Howard’s enthusiastic reports drew the attention of the King’s own Doctor, Nathanael St. Andre. He claimed he could feel the “critters” jumping around in her womb, and did not seem bothered by not feeling the little cottontails being killed and skinned in there. All told Mary produced 17 “praeter-natural rabbits” – certainly an improvement on pulling one out of her hat – and for a couple of months she was the rage of official London. And then Sir Richard Manningham, a member of the Royal College of Physicans, suggested that science might benefit from an examination of Mary’s uterus, and Mary immediately confessed. Her husband had been supplying her with the rabbits, and whole thing had been a scam to make money. Mary spent four months in prison and Doctors Howard and St. Andre were forced to retire. A poem, entitled “The Doctor’s in Labor”, appeared: “Poor Mary Toft in ignorance was bred, and ne’er once betrayed a deep designing head, Ne’er seemed cut out for plots, yet never did wife, like her impose so grosely on man midwife. Who scorning Reason, Common Sense and nature, plac’ed all their faith in such a stupid creature.” A century later a book about Mary’s rabbit babies was a best seller, bound, of course, in rabbit skin. Logic had finally won the day…sort of. It would be two hundred years later when theatre historian and critic and early environmentalists Joseph Wood Krutch would observe that, “Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence.”
*
In the small city of Hassleholm, Sweden, population of 48,000, logic has run up against gender bias. The city council wanted to know why all pedestrian crossing signs displayed a male figure, known in Sweden as “Mr. Walk Man”, so they designed their own female pedestrian signs, featuring “Fru Gaman”. But the Swedish National Roads Administration (the “Vagyerket”) rejected the new sign as confusing. The politically correct crowd in Hassleholm is now threatening to sue in defense of their logic over the logic of the Vagyerket. But clarity in signage is important, as any advertising copywriter can tell you. As an example there is the clear message in the new French ad campaign to increase student housing. Currently there are only 100,000 dormitory rooms nationwide available for the 200,000 French college students. The campaign was created and funded by the national student union, UNEF, and the poster shows a young couple having sex on a bed, sandwiched between desperately sleeping parents. The government praised the campaign as creative but promised to increase student housing only when the funds are available. And it is hard to argue with that logic, too. But if I am any judge of college students and the French, the French college students will find a reason to argue the point.
*
See if you can follow the logic in this conundrum facing police in the Dominican Republic. Just after 5 am the police were called to an unnamed hotel in the resort city of Cabarete by staff. A guest, 33 year old Alan Reed, a citizen of Great Britain who was on the last night of a two week holiday, had been discovered by his fiancĂ©e, 21 year old Ellie Rothery, lying semiconscious on their bed, his shorts soaked in blood. At a private medical clinic doctors found some scratches on Alan’s back, two deep gashes across his penis and his left testicle had been almost completely removed. Mr. Reed told police “The whole thing is just one big blank”, but insisted he wasn’t drunk. Alan said the last thing he remembered was being alone in a restaurant, and then he had a cloudy memory of waking up on the beach. He had no idea of how he then journeyed the three miles back to his hotel.
*
Ms. Rothery said the couple had been out the previous evening to a restaurant with a friend. After the meal she said she had accompanied the friend to a taxi stand and when she returned to their table Mr. Reed had disappeared. She searched for him in the town and on the beach for two hours before returning to their hotel room where she found him in their bed in a pool of blood. According to Inspector Contreras, of the National Police, although they are investigating this as an assault, it is an unusual event for the Dominican Republic. And because Alan still had his wallet, money and credit cards and enjoys diving and rock climbing (“Alan is very adventurous and sporty, more so than Ellie,” according to his intended mother-in-law), Inspector Contreras suggested that his injuries may have been caused by a fall on rocks or local coral outcrops. He then added that several suspects have already been arrested. I am open to suggestions on the logical explanation for this one.
*
It seems logical that Patty Cooper, confined to a wheel chair for the last four years by brittle bone disorder, should seek the assistance of a service animal to help her, share her life and her two bedroom apartment. But it also seems logical that Patty’s landlord, the non-profit Central Vermont Community Land Trust, should refuse to allow Patty’s helper of choice, named Earl (short for “Early to Bed”), to share her apartment, because even though Earl is barely 32 inches tall and weighs only 100 pounds, Earl is a horse -a miniature “tobiano pinto” in fact - with a horse’s eating and toilet habits.
*
The Trust says they would welcome service dogs and even service monkeys in their other units, but a service horse seems a little too much like a farm animal for an apartment complex. They are concerned about the volume of oats and hay a horse requires, and the likelihood the storage of such would attract vermin. And they remain dubious the horse can be “house trained”, and even if he is, does Patty have a “pooper scooper” big enough to clean up his outside poo? Patty contends that Earl can do things for her that a dog cannot, such as pull her wheel chair around town, and he’s been trained to ride on the bus. And horses live a lot longer than dogs. Patty argues that she and Earl have already made real sacrifices to fit into the human society. Earl has recently been gelded. Would the officials for the Community Land Trust do the same, or at least meet her halfway? Patty says, “I’m confident it’s all going to work out.”
*
Well, I’m not. This is actually the convergence of a perfect storm. Patty just bought the horse and the CVCLT just took over the apartment building, which is not to say the previous management company had agreed to accept Earl, but nobody seems interested in a compromise at the moment, which means that nobody is willing to see anyone else’s logic. And there is logic to that position, too. So Patty is suing. And, as we all know, a lawsuit is the pursuit of logic by other means.
- 30 -

Sunday, March 09, 2008

TIME AFTER TIME AFTER TIME

I can’t believe we just did it again. It was stupid when we did it the first time and now that we’re doing it a month earlier than we used to it isn’t getting any smarter. I’m talking about the obsessive-compulsive bureaucrats who champion the so-called Daylight Saving Time – and there is no “s” at the end of “Saving” because it’s modifying time, not daylight – I told you these clock watchers were obsessive compulsives – but that dropped “s” should also give you a hint that this whole thing is one great fraud being perpetrated on each and every one of us and especially me. Today, on March 9th at 2am we were all supposed to spring our clocks forward one hour because we’re all supposed to be happier getting up in the dark again. Do you feel happier being robbed of an hour of sleep? I sure don’t. Do you feel like springing anywhere anytime soon? I sure don’t. And the fact that the theft has occurred on a Sunday is, on this wintery March morning, damn cold comfort!
*
Experts assure me we’re going to save 10,000 barrels of oil a day, reduce crime and spend more time out of doors with our families in the evenings. Of course your computer, your blackberry, your smart cell, PDA and/or pager will probably start displaying some rare Lapland dialect after you try to instruct it that it is now operating in a time zone somewhere east of Labrador…but why are we doing this again?! Every half baked scheme now claims to save energy: electric cars, smaller toilets, Susan B. Anthony dollars and tiny little airline seats. Anytime some political hack wants to sell the public on paying more for getting less they call it energy conservation or energy saving or just “green”. But I wonder about all that extra oil we will burn every morning to light our darkened bedrooms, not to mention run our TVs, hair dryers, water heaters and all those headlights. We used to say that people who rose early got up with the cows. Well, the cows aren’t getting up any earlier. Why the hell are we?
*
As everybody keeps pointing out, it was Ben Franklin who first purposed Daylight Saving in his essay “An Economical Project”, (but in French, of course) in which he suggested that if authorities were to “…Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, …it is probable he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening." It’s an interesting idea from the eighteenth century’s second most famous reprobate, just behind the Marque de Sade. Clearly Ben was just joking but evidently Congressman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who wrote the amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that is changing our clocks now, missed the punch line. So the same Congress that wouldn’t raise the minimum wage for 10 years found the time to steal an hour of my sleep every March. In the next election I’m voting for Ben Franklin.
*
All Ben was trying to do was save a little candle wax, about 64 million pounds annually in 1781 Paris, was Ben’s estimate. But I repeat, Ben was just kidding. Ben was a huge kidder. And, look how much candle wax we are saving by having invented electricity. Didn’t Ben see that one coming? And speaking of electricity, according to the New Jersey Public Service Enterprise Group, Daylight Saving has “no impact” on energy demands in their service area. And the government of Kazakhstan has already dropped the whole idea of “saving daylight”.
*
Listen, according to the University of California Energy Institute daylight saving doesn’t actually save energy, it just moves it around. And a recent study of electric bills in Indiana found that the time shifters are actually costing each Hoosier almost $3.00 a year MORE, about $8.6 million a year in total, plus somewhere between $1.6 and $5.3 million in pollution costs for generating all that extra electricity. And if that is what it costs us Hoosiers, think what it costing the people who actually count in America; New Yorkers. A little more energy conservation such as this and we might as well just start burning oil.
*
And another problem with this annual adjustment to our sense of reality is that our computers can’t adjust without being told to: stupid computers. .Unless you are willing to buy new software or are still paying for updates you will need a “patch”, which is computer speak for “please hand your credit card to Mr. Gates”. In programmer vernacular this is referred to as “a retirement package”. To quote from Ken Fisher’s article for ARS, on the subject; “So while the US government pats itself on the back for at least looking busy, know that the main goal – energy conservation – has not been met….Isn’t arbitrary, mostly meaningless change, great?” Hell, no, it isn’t.
*
Still, I’m not objecting to getting up early. If we need more daylight then let’s move the clocks forward and be done with it. Listen, if the majority of the population decides that at noon tomorrow we should pretend that it is now 10:45am, I’d go along with that. But for heaven’s sake please stop moving the clocks back and forth as if we were keeping time with Mexican jumping beans. Why are we doing this to ourselves? Pick a damn time and leave it alone!
- 30 -

Blog Archive

Amazon Deals