They are doing it to us, and we are letting them.

April 8, 2016 2 comments

Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are doing it. Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul did as well, just as president Obama did eight years ago. They kept their federal jobs, their titles, salaries and wonderful benefits while openly seeking other employment.
The Hatch act prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity. Even state employees who are principally funded by the federal government are subject to this law. So why should it be possible for members of the Senate and House to keep their jobs while running for higher office?
Silly me. Because they pass the laws and they carefully exclude themselves from being affected by those laws. And yet, they do like to carry on about their ‘solemn duty’ to follow ‘laws’ that don’t exist. (see phantom Biden rule about supreme court justice nominations.)
So, while I am paying their salary, they not only aren’t showing up for work, they don’t even mind being filmed and recorded while pursuing this other job. If they worked in industry, my HR department would fully support my decision to fire them and no court in the land would dispute my being right.
If you were paying their salary, and you are, why wouldn’t you fire them?
Which brings up a related situation: the GOP platform is explicit about wanting smaller government. They are big on shrinkage, something akin to the “Costanza rule.” So why doesn’t the GOP question whether some positions are needed at all, such as state governors. Does New Jersey need one?
Chris Christie spent the last year seeking other employment. (Some may argue he has spent a lot more time than that.) Even when it became clear he wouldn’t get the position he sought, rather than returning full time to his current duties as governor of the state, Mr Christie chose to take an unpaid internship as Mr. Drumpf’s lackey, in the hope that it may lead to some undefined, albeit well rewarded, federal job.
Fortunately, at least in Mr. Christie’s case, as the ancient knight in the Indiana Jones “Last Crusade” episode said, “he chose. . .poorly.”

How about Hillary as the GOP candidate?

March 3, 2016 1 comment

I haven’t always been a Hillary Clinton fan but I’d like to propose that the GOP nominate her for the presidency.
There are three arguments in favor of this action.
(A) Neither of the three top Republican candidates are qualified to be president. Not even close. Only Kasich, who is running a distant fourth, could pass a presidential qualification test. By the way, Congress should consider instituting such a test to avoid current and past embarrassments: Sara Palin? Barack Obama elected after a two-year, part-time stint as a US Senator? The presidency shouldn’t be an on-the-job training center. (See Cruz, Rubio)
(B) Hillary Clinton is not only qualified and experienced, she has been tested. She has endured and survived relentless unwarranted attacks, not for months or years, but for decades. Starting when Bill ran for president and she was accused of being a feminazi, followed by attacks on her hair, her figure, her laugh, her pant suits, her supposedly being a lesbian (not that there is anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say) and on and on. She was even attacked because her husband cheated on her. She wasn’t being attacked for her beliefs but for being a woman. No wonder she has become guarded and secretive.
A double nomination would not only restore our credibility and prestige in the world, it would lead to a functioning government, where members of both parties stop carping at one another and get down to their job: crafting the laws needed for the common good of our once, and still, great nation. And finally, (C) It would be such great fun.

Finally figured out Trump. Duh.

March 2, 2016 3 comments

I’m not sure why sometimes it takes me so long to see what’s in front of my nose. I’ve been thinking of Donald Drumpf (Thanks John Oliver: once you hear that name you can’t help but use it) as a narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, lying demagogue. Which he is, in addition to many other things. (I suspect he is antisemitic as well, given how often he has lost to big time NY developers who happen to be Jewish)

In reality what he is, is a snake oil salesman. That’s why he is winning elections. The people who vote for him may be racists or fascists or whatever, but not necessarily.(At least I hope so) Quite likely they just want to believe the snake oil (eg., he will make us winners, he will get Apple to build their phones in the USA and Mexico to pay for the wall) will work, even though they have to, they absolutely gotta know there is zero chance he can make any of that happen.

We are a ‘great nation’ but, are things getting better?

February 29, 2016 Leave a comment

I came across some interesting bits about the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922.

One black speaker, Robert Russa Moton, the son of former slaves and president of the Tuskegee Institute, was invited to deliver an opening address. He was a late addition to the program, once the commissioners realized their failure to include even one African-American at the dedication.

Though a safe choice—he espoused Booker T. Washington’s conservative vision of race relations—Chief Justice [and former president] Taft and the Memorial Commission were worried about what Moton might say and asked to vet his speech. Moton was asked to delete a quarter of his speech including a Lincoln quote that ‘this nation cannot endure half slave and half free: it will become all one thing or all the other.’ Moton also agreed to delete, ‘With equal truth, it can be said today: no more can the nation endure half privileged and half repressed; half educated and half uneducated; half protected and half unprotected; half prosperous and half in poverty; half in health and half in sickness; half content and half in discontent; yes, half free and half yet in bondage.’

What Moton was prevented from stating ninety four years ago seems even more relevant today, particularly as we endure the current presidential election cycle.

By the way, the few African-Americans invited, got to watch and hear the dedication from the roped-off, segregated ‘colored’ section.

All this was gleaned from “Washington: A History of Our National City” by Tom Lewis.

Love has a downside.

January 20, 2016 Leave a comment

I have a cold. I’ve had a lot more colds since having grand kids. Every time I return from visiting my lovely granddaughters in the West coast, I’ve brought back some malady. And now that I have two grand kids nearby and get to see them every week or two, the opportunity to enhance my immune system has improved immeasurably. None of it comes as a surprise because the kids, almost since birth, have frequented germ-exchange sites, ie, nurseries, day care, parks and the like.
A cold shouldn’t be a big deal, but it can be. In my case they always start in my left nostril, where they dawdle for a while before moving to the right one. I thought it peculiar and asked an MD about it when I was a teen in Cuba.
“Of course,” he said, “you have a deviated septum.” He didn’t add “you moron,” but I could read his thoughts in the little dialog bubble above his head.
Back then I didn’t know what a septum was. I still don’t other than apparently I have one. I never looked it up for fear of what I might learn and assumed—I have no reason to think otherwise—that it’s worse than a sixtum. I didn’t care for the ‘deviate’ implication either.
So I have a cold. My lovely twenty month old granddaughter who adores me and is a master cuddler, has a faucet for a nose, according to her mother. So I’m in for a few more years of immuno-enhancement therapy. Hopefully.
The cold is still in my left nostril. I hope it moves to the other nostril and out before I visit my California grand kids next month. I can deal with just so many germs at a time.

Are Parisians rude?

December 28, 2015 Leave a comment

The first time Ruth and I visited Paris was the first time we went anywhere. After my cousin Manolo—nicest man I ever knew—died in his early forties, I told Ruth that, no matter what, we were taking the next trip.
By next trip I meant the MIT travel brochures we received regularly, featuring vacations we couldn’t possible afford; my classmates were obviously doing better than me. Incredulously, the next brochure offered an inexpensive week in Paris. Paris was at the very top of places I wanted to see.
My parents and sister offered help. They drove the 300 miles from Boston to baby sit Evan and Joanna. My sister Sara loved the kids as her own, my mother adored her grand-kids and my father loved them as well, in his own way. Nonetheless that was quite a nice thing to do.
Other aspects of the trip proved nerve wracking. Not being a US citizen—though Cubans could become citizens after living in the US for one year and I had been here for fifteen, I hadn’t gotten around to apply—I needed the IRS to certify that I didn’t owed them anything within thirty days of departure. Afraid I might lose the plane/hotel tickets I’d paid for in advance, I showed up at an IRS office one month before departure only to be told I was early. Our departure date was late April and since March has thirty one days, I was required to return the next day. “Thirty days before you leave, not thirty one,” the IRS clerk said.
The French government didn’t help either. Because I was still classified as a political refugee, they didn’t grant me permission to visit until a week before departure. They had been concerned I might decide to remain in France, but just in case, I had to fill forms providing detailed information about my education, income, etc.
Evan who was six and a half, and Joanna who was only twenty seven months old, were happy to have everyone in the house. But the kids had never been separated from us and I had concerns about their reaction. To get to Kennedy I had rented a car I would drop-off at the airport. The evening of our departure, after stowing our luggage in the trunk, I noticed Joanna sitting in the middle of the rental car’s back seat. She had dressed herself in her little pink raincoat and had somehow snuck out of the house and into the car.
“Lets go to Paris,” she said, and broke my heart.
What made me think of that long ago trip—other that Joanna is in Paris with her husband, children and in-laws as I write this—is the book I have been reading, “The Speechwriter,” by Barton Swaim and in particular some examples of extreme rudeness. Swain’s memoir spans the three years he spent writing for then governor Sanford, infamous for ‘hiking the Appalachian trail,’ and mentions examples of his rudeness.
It reminded me of Parisians’ rudeness. I was taken aback the first time a Parisian allowed a door to slam behind him rather than holding it open for me. A simple gesture. Then I noticed they did it to everyone, not just tourists, not just me. Store employees did not wait on you either and when they finally did, they made it appear as a favor. Alas, that habit has spread to the US.
But the rudest episode took place our first day in Paris.
Our charter flight, ‘the sardine express,’ left hours late. By the time we landed, got through formalities and were bused to our hotel, it was early afternoon. And we were staying in La Defense, not in Paris. Nowadays La Defense is a destination favored by business people but at that time it was a remote suburb. I didn’t understand any of it. I thought we were in ‘Paris’ and I wanted to see it. We took the hotel’s shuttle to the train station, which I thought was a subway stop.
I didn’t speak French but I had done a bit of preparation. Back in 1977 people in Paris didn’t speak English and if they did, they kept it to themselves. The lady selling tickets asked where I was going. When I said Paris she asked something else. I shrugged. She shrugged back and sold me two tickets.
A group of fellow tourists who’d come along in the shuttle were so impressed by my French speaking skills that they asked me to get them the same thing. I warned them that I had no idea what I had bought. They insisted.
La meme chose,” I said to the lady and she sold them tickets.
We got off at the first train stop and as we ascended the escalator into Paris, the sky was filled with a magnificent sight. The Arc de Triomphe. Who knew it was so beautiful and so massive. A most impressive way to be introduced to the city.
We started to walk down the Champs-Élysées when Ruth, who was four months pregnant with Michelle, announced she was starving.
“Right now. I have to eat now. How about there?” She pointed at a restaurant across the street.
It was past four in the afternoon and we hadn’t eaten anything since leaving home. I bought a Michelin guide and learned that “Le Fouquet’s,” the restaurant across the street, had four dollar signs. And it was way too early for such a fancy place. I found a more reasonable restaurant on a side street, where we ordered as planned: spécialité de la maison. I figured if they feature it, it it must be good, and I didn’t want to try and interpret a French menu.
I even had a prepared answer for their next question, “une poisson et un viande,” one fish and one meat. But their next question threw me. I had no idea what the waiter wanted. Eventually he got another waiter plus the maitre’d plus a diner—everyone was quite nice—and I finally understood the question: how I wanted the meat cooked.
“Medium,” I said. “A point,” the waiter nodded. No use asking for medium-rare in French.
Ruth was served the fish, a lovely Dover sole she thoroughly enjoyed. For my first meal in France, I had their specialty: T-bone steak and French Fries. A raw steak at that. In subsequent business trips to France I learned the French prefer their meats cooked less well done than we do. In addition to raw hamburger (tartare) they have ‘bleu,’ (the meat heard of fire), saignant or rare, (once saw a flame), à point (their medium) and finally bien cuit, which my Parisian friends refer to as McDonalds.
At least I could look forward to dessert. We were seated on a table for two, one of many arranged side by side and a mere few inches away from each other. A pair of New Yorkers (I could tell by their accent), sitting two tables away, were served desert as we were being served our main courses and I instantly decided that would be my dessert as well, but, between my tiredness from the sleepless flight and the tension of navigating into the city and finding an affordable restaurant and ordering, my mind went blank. I could not think of the name of the dessert.
I leaned forward, excused myself, and asked the New Yorkers the name of their dessert.
Que?” One said.
Je ne comprend pas,” the other said.
“Oh, stop it. Cut the horseshit,” I said. “Just tell me the name of the dessert.”
They hesitated until one said profiteroles before dramatically turning his head away.
And so I discovered, albeit based on a very small sampling, that New Yorkers are ruder than Parisians.
I have been to Paris and New York a few times since and have found no reason to change my opinion.
As far as governor Sanford rudeness, (he had to resign and yet last year South Carolina elected him to the House) apparently he liked to read while seated on the passenger seat of his chauffeur driven car. Once done with whatever he’d been reading, he threw it onto the back seat, whether anyone was sitting back there or not.

Chip Kelly: genius

November 30, 2015 2 comments

The problem with football is that it attracts so many geniuses (or genii, whichever you prefer.) Too many of these supremely gifted individuals flock to the game instead of channeling their unique talents toward finding a cure for cancer, reversing global warming or designing safety caps seniors can open.

I can only hope that Jeff Lurie, a very responsible team owner, will recognize that his social and moral duty demands he release Chip Kelly, so he can redirect his talents for the benefit of all mankind, rather than a few suffering Eagles fans.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 69 other followers