Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For The Record, I Never Said The Things I'm Saying Here

This morning Joe Scarborough went to Rush Limbaugh's defense. Rush is complaining that people are attributing statements to him that he never made. Just like Yogi Berra. "I didn't say the things I said." is the famous quote. Interestingly enough, there is no proof that Yogi ever said that. Only unlike Yogi, Rush wants to sue. It is, of course, the American way.

I found Joe's defense of Rush admirable. And it came a little more than a week after Rush had questioned Joe's masculinity. Way to man up, Joe! Hold out for eight whole days before you knuckle under and kneel before the Supreme Leader! That chickified head of the GOP, Mr. (Ms.?) Steele didn't last a weekend before kowtowing.

But I understand where Rush is coming from. Yogi gets blamed for things he never said. Rush gets blamed for things he never said. Ironically, Rush has often said that Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet. And of course, Al Gore never said that. Should Mr. Gore sue?

It is one of my biggest peeves, right after people not using revolving doors, when so-called journalists take statements and paraphrase them, taking them out of context, changing the context, changing the wording, not verifying any facts in a statement, just to get a hotter story out of a statement. And once the changes begin, the statements can transmorph into anything. Go back and check out exactly what Nancy Pelosi said about the CIA, not what was screamed on political babble shows, but what she actually said. Oddly enough now that more information has come out, not a soul is asking for her resignation, not even an apology.

But Joe should be able to understand how these things can happen. He is world class when it comes to altering a statement and re-phrasing it so that the statement changes.

For example, this morning he had on that whack-job Jim Cramer. Cramer made a comment that China is becoming the most powerful nation on earth. Joe immediately shot back that there was no way that China was going to "take over the world."

Of course not Joe, because that is not at all what Cramer had said. I don't think it's adult ADD that makes the words, both context and meaning, change in your head. I think you could just possibly be that stupid. Or you may be a pathological liar.

I wouldn't put it past you to be both.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You Can't Fix Stupid. But Can You Tax It?

The comedian Ron White has a routine with the tag line that you can't fix stupid. I like him, except for his Texan loyalty to an indiscriminate use of the death penalty. But I was thinking about it the other day, when trying to figure out health care reform.

Obviously adding scores of millions of people to the rolls is going to be costly. Yes, there will be inherent savings in ER costs, and savings from early detection and treatment. And yes there is probably some waste and fraud in the system, though why that needs special legislation to fix is beyond me. But even after that there will be additional costs. And it does not appear that the cost reductions are going to come by equal reductions in the profits of health insurance companies and other related entities. So there will have to be taxes, or revenue enhancements.

It would seem obvious, since we call ourselves a Christian nation, and we like to brag about how we are the richest and most powerful nation ever in the history of everything, that coughing up a few bucks, OK a few hundred billion, would be worth it for this endeavor. But of course it isn't. Spending trillions to set up swords for us to fall on in Iraq and Afghanistan are well worthwhile, but enriching the lives of every American, well that's not my problem. Besides, some of them might be immigrants.

I was watching the Dallas / Denver football game on Sunday. Tony Romo threw another errant pass, and Troy Aikman's comment on it was, "He under threw him, even though it was over his head." I don't know how much Mr. Aikman makes to make these incredibly stupid comments, but I bet it covers some pretty good health insurance.

So I'm thinking that maybe we should tax stupid. I believe it should be handled like the social security taxes. It should be paid equally by the stupid person, and by the stupid employer who hires him. So in this case, Mr. Aikman has to chip in a large amount of cash, as well as Mr. Murdoch.

Mr. Murdoch will have a very large return, there would be a lot of names listed.

Now I know that there are people out there that just about everyone would agree are stupid, yet they function well in the jobs they hold. They would be exempt. I'm talking about stupid people who are getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars. Or even just tens of thousands of dollars, per episode. Like John and Kate (the Plus Eight should be exempt), or the Real Housewives of anywhere. These people would be taxed, the lousy waitress I had last week wouldn't.

While watching the Rachel Maddow show last night, I was tempted to add a tax on people who affect society by the stupid things they believe. Rachel was interviewing that PR whore and miserable human being, Rick Berman.

He is not stupid, but he speaks the language. He is a master at communicating with stupid people, and gets them to buy into his lies. An example, he stated that the average family income of minimum wage owners is nearly $50,000. In some pieces he has written he has used the figure of $47,000. This makes people think that the minimum wage is adequate, and shouldn't be raised. It is also a damned lie. In order for a couple to earn $47,000 in a year, each one would have to work about 3,450 hours per year, or 66 hours a week, every week. In that scenario, the $47,000 would be quite substantial, as they would have no time to spend any of the money.

I was truly struck by another comment Mr. Berman made last night, while trying to justify why he will not release information on the donors to his various non-profit groups who put out this disinformation. "People don't want to have their right to free speech curtailed by people coming after them." Wow! I'm sure that's exactly what the framers of the Constitution had in mind. The freedom to speak in anonymity, hiding behind a rock.

The freedom to speak should imply that you back your words, and stand up for them. Not hide.

Mr. Berman isn't stupid, but should be taxed out of existence.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Growing Up Scarborough

My buddy Joe Scarborough was visibly distraught this morning. He was talking with Max Blumenthal about his new book, "Republican Gomorrah" and his You Tube segment, "The Unauthorized 9-12 Teabagger Tour." I've picked up the book but as yet haven't read it. (I'm still very much slogged down by my buddy Joe's tome. With my nicotine withdrawal going on, I can't get very far before I throw the book across the room.) But if you haven't seen the video, exit this site now and take a look. I'll wait.

Pretty funny, isn't it.

Well Joe didn't think so. He didn't spend a lot of time talking with Mr. Blumenthal about the book. I suppose one reason is that it is in a way at odds with Joe's book. It's hard to justify a political movement as being the last hope, when someone says it has already been destroyed.

But Joe was livid about the comments Mr. Blumenthal recorded at the event. Joe's hysteria is not based on the fact that this group represents a small sliver of the lunatic fringe of America and that the video does not acknowledge it.

Joe has been ranting about the demonstrations and the town hall meetings for months. He insists that these demonstrations are the same old, same old that's been going on in politics for years. He talks about the antics at anti-war demonstrations, Second Iraq, not Viet Nam. He claims that the minority has been calling the President illegitimate since Clinton. Each time he does, Mika the bobble-head, nods her head. When Pat Buchanan or Mike Barnicle are around, they agree wholeheartedly.

But this morning, Mr. Blumenthal had the temerity to disagree. He states that the biggest difference here is that prior demonstrations have not had significant politicians agreeing with the loopy-heads. That in previous years, the nuts were just that, that they did not represent a view of a major party. Joe fulminates. He demands proof of these allegations. Mr. Blumenthal brings up Senator Jim Demint, but Joe demands more proof. Joe should check out Mr. Blumenthal's blog. First thing back at the office, Mr. Blumenthal pulled his notes and posted them.

There have been nuts at political demonstrations since there have been demonstrations. I think the fact that there is more coverage, more cameras, more vehicles for disemination of the demonstrations has spawned more and more and wackier and wackier demonstrators. Only so many people can get on the Springer show.

I totally disagree with Joe (surprise) about the legitimacy of the President. I know of no such claims about Clinton. And to try to compare the legitimacy claims on Bush and Obama is absurd. Claiming illegitimacy due to a hastily rendered 5 - 4 decision on voting results in a state controlled by the candidate's brother is not at all comparable to claiming that President Obama was not born in Hawaii and has been part of a conspiracy for forty plus years.

But why I am so pissed with Joe on this topic goes a little deeper. He likes to think of himself as an intelligent, practical spokesman for his cause. But the way he demonstrates this is the reason I would have loved to grow up with this man as my father. Anything I would do that was wrong, I could just say that one of my siblings did it first. Get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, well Patty did it first. Play doctor with the neighbor's daughter? Jimmy did it first! Set fire to the church? Johnny did it first!

And knowing how this practical, intelligent man deals with the psychos at the Tea Bag parties, Papa Joe would have to say, that's OK my son. It's not a problem.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm Having a Hard Time Saying Something Nice

With all the uncivil discourse that has been going on of late, I thought I would follow the adage that if you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything at all. (I do though still get a kick out of how Alice Roosevelt Longworth had it paraphrased and embroidered on a pillow she brought to parties - if you can't say anything nice about someone, come sit next to me.) So I haven't been saying anything, because there is not a lot of good out there.

But a friend expressed some concern yesterday that I hadn't written anything in a month. I am alive and as healthy as always. Maybe even more so, though I don't feel it. My central nervous system feels as if it was put together by my cheap father, with faulty, below code wiring. I have reduced my daily cigarette intake from about three packs a day, to a little below one. Which puts me back at the level I was smoking during Nixon's second term. And I feel the same angst and anger at politicians that I did then.

There are a lot of jerks out there right now, being jerky on a lot of topics. It's OK. I am saying something nice when I only call them jerks. Joe Wilson is one of them. The rudeness he displayed aside, he pulled a switch and side-tracked health care reform, turning the process towards immigration reform. Which is a separate topic. But he has welded them.

If you exclude illegal aliens from receiving any federal health benefits in a reform bill, than they are going to receive federal, state and local health benefits by showing up sick at a county health facility. Mr. Wilson, if you don't want them treated, work out a feasible policy for immigration reform. Till then, shut up.

All my lily white friends at Morning Joe have been up in arms about Former President Carter's remarks. It's beautiful the way they, and numerous others in the media, distort exactly what Mr. Carter said, and then shoot it down. He talked specifically about the most egregious of the demonstrators, and how many of them were racially motivated. But Joe and his buddies make it seem as if he called all non-liberal whites racists. And they vehemently deny that.
But the worst of the jerks out there are those conservatives who continue with the non-denial denials about death panels. John Meacham has a good intro to this week's Newsweek, "I Was a Teen Aged Death Panelist." I just do not believe how these people treat end of life issues! You would have thought that the travesty that was the end of Terry Schiavo's life would have had people re-think the issue.
Near the end of my mother's life she was asking everyone she could to get her drugs to end her life. She couldn't walk, hear very well, see very well, the use of her hands was limited, and she was in almost constant pain. I cried and told her I couldn't do anything for her. It was heart wrenching. Eventually she asked her home health care worker. The medical system then, all of four years ago, responded by hospitalizing her for depression. I was livid at her doctor. The only quality she had in her life was knowing that she was at home, the familiar smells and images. And they took that away from her! Sadly, they were not able to cure her of her depression, her "suicidal tendencies" before the stroke relieved her pain.

These end of life issues need to be addressed. There was little I could do then. Just as there was little I could do this morning when a beautiful 34 year old woman whom I love dearly said, "If you really loved me you would make the pain stop." I cried, caressed the few parts of her body that don't ache, and told her I couldn't. All I could do was pour her another shot of Jameson's. I want her around forever, and I want her to feel no pain. And I can't have both wishes. And we could truly use some end of life counseling. Unfortunately, because of her preexisting condition, she has no insurance.
Joe Scarborough is constantly telling me that seventy some percent of Americans are happy with their health insurance. Fucking good for them!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Running in Circles

A long time ago I had some respect for Chuck Grassley, the Senior Senator from Iowa. That's long gone. Last week he had some bizarre show-and-tell thing on the Senate floor, with a story board about the deficit and Sir Taxalot. Jon Stewart thought he had gone to Medieval Times and needed an excuse to write it off.

At that point, I thought he had just gone senile, or possibly just showing it. But it got weird the other day. The President, at his town hall meeting, mentioned that he had a working relationship with Grassley and Senatory Johnny Isakson of Georgia, an attemtp at bi-partisanship.

The very next day, Grassley was foaming at the mouth, more than the usual drool, about how people should be scared, and that the government was coming to kill your grandmother. Isakson was vehemently denying the President's remarks that the Senator had long been a proponent of the government reimbursement for end-of-life counseling. The only thing he couldn't deny was the official record of his sponsorship.

Elected Republicans are just plain scared of being associated with the President. They know that their base doesn't like the man, and they are that worried about losing that support. Their math is a little fuzzy though given the decreasing numbers in that base, and the increasing numbers against the conservative ideals. But I've never thought that Republicans could count.

It's a vicious circle they're caught in. They must keep turning further and further right to please a smaller and smaller base.

It's fun watching them. Except for the Sir Taxalot cartoon series.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Blind Leading the Blind

One nice thing about California, by the time I get up Morning Joe is history. But I'm back in Chicago now, and Joe is pissing me off again. The other day he and Peggy Noonan were moaning about the effect Obama's policies will have on the poor, struggling families making over $250,000 per year. As Joe mentions, those in New York or California are hit with large state and local burdens, and if they have a couple of kids, any additional taxes would be an undue burden.

Joe, and Ms. Noonan, here's a tip. When you don't know what the hell you're talking about, shut up. Especially when you're in the media and many people take your words as truth.

I'm an MBA/CPA. I don't talk a lot about rocket science. But I can talk your ear off about tax policy. I would venture to guess that neither of you have ever picked up an economics textbook, or an accounting book, or the US Tax Code. Yet you go on and on about it.

It's like the miserable Chicago Tribune. Today they had another editorial bemoaning the fact that Wal-Mart is having difficulties getting another toehold in Chicago. The mention 200 construction jobs, and 500 new jobs once the store is open.

The Trib is bankrupt. And they went out of their way to do some stupid things to become bankrupt, eg, buying the LA Times without checking on the half a billion tax lien they had. They have absolutely no business lecturing on anything involving a dollar sign, they don't have the competence.

By the way Trib Editorial Board, the 200 construction jobs are very temporary. And there will be no new net jobs. Do you really think there are people with piles of money just waiting to spend it at a closer Wal-Mart? No, the jobs gained at Wal-Mart will be offset by jobs lost at smaller retailers. No net jobs. Read an economics book.

Back to Joe and Peggy. Tax policy is made at the taxable income level, not the gross income level. So the higher income people affected by new tax policies do not make $250,000, they make considerably more. The "poor" family that Ms. Noonan was talking about making $251,000, probably gross in the $300 to $350 K area. After their state and local income tax deductions, and their mortgage and real estate tax deductions and the personal exemptions for themselves and their kids, they have $251,000 left. They are not poor, they are not struggling. And I'll bet they have some pretty damned good health insurance.

But, Joe and Peggy may already know that, and they are purposely misleading their listeners. I wouldn't put it past them to be feckless lying whores.

Friday, July 24, 2009

LA LA LA LA LA . . . . .

I'm in vacation mode, so there's not much to complain about. Well there is much to complain about. Race relation topics are abounding. I could talk about the Gates case, but it's much too simple. The cop did everything right, until he arrested a man for being loud in his own home during the day. That's not a crime.

I could talk about my friend Dr. Monica Crowley. I saw her the other night on O'Reilly and they were discussing President Obama's speech to the NAACP. It struck me as odd that they were discussing it a week after it happened, but many thing on the O'Reilly show strike me as odd. Dr. Crowley thought that the President had made a fine speech, but, and with her there's always a but, she went on to tell us all about the problems that the African-American community had with it. Like she has any clue as to what the African-American community has to say about anything.

But like I said I'm in vacation mode. A special friend of mine has a special reason to need to spend some fun time in the sun, so we're going to spend the next 8 days in and around Venice Beach.

But I will leave you with an ironic tale. I'm a huge White Sox fan, and I rarely miss a midweek afternoon game. There's nothing better than taking off work and having some beers and watching White Sox baseball. But, because of the aforementioned vacation, I really needed to get some things done at the office. So I gave my tickets to a friend.

As it turns out, Mark Buehrle pitched the eighteenth perfect game in MLB history. I was a little upset that I missed it. My friend, who had had a relationship gone bad with Mr. Buehrle, was upset that she was there. We were probably the only two people in the world who were hoping that he would give up a hit.

Off to LA LA Land!