Monday, September 21, 2009

Pay The Piper Or How You Pay a Penalty for Glut

It hit me this weekend like a blinding ray of light. So, I pass this along to you Mr. President and your allies. Here a couple of ideas to pay for a portion of your desire to force us to take the exact health insurance plan mandated by Congress for us but not them. Yes, Congress and the we understand that you, Mr. President and Congress will continue to get the Rolls Royce of health insurance plans while we struggle to pay our own premiums for policies designed by Congress who obviously know better than we do about what we need or can afford.

So here our two options:

1. Fat Tax. More Americans are obese than ever before. More Americans are obese than any other country. The result is that these specific people cost the rest of us extra on our health insurance. This fact is well documented by many sources. Around thirty-two percent of Americans are deemed obese compared with between 10 and 20% of other major nations who provide universal coverage. According to the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia "Obesity is associated with many diseases, particularly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties during sleep, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive dietary calories, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility, though a limited number of cases are due solely to genetics, medical reasons or psychiatric illness." So, lets tax these people who are a significant cause of our high heath care costs. Tax them by the pound. Now, before you get your snoot in an uproar, I am not talking about the slightly fat, those with a paunch in the middle to hold your beer can fat, I am singling out those who are obese. Each year, every individual would see their doctor or other authorized fat center and be weighed. This weight certificate would be attached to their tax return along with a form calculating the number of pounds you are above the prescribed normal and a tax would be added to your liability. You eat, you pay.

2. The Glutton Wage Tax. Everyone understands that the people at the top make more than people at the bottom. It is understood that without the proper leadership a company will go nowhere. Other the other hand, a company that is losing money should not be paying large bonuses to the top management. A real factor on the Gluttony Scale is the ratio between the top and the bottom. So, lets pick a figure of say 200. As long as the top people do not make more than 200 times the individuals on the bottom, everything is fine. If, on the other hand, the top people are making more than 200 times the bottom layer, a luxury tax would kick in, just like the sports teams pay. When I am talking about compensation, I mean total compensation including perks for all kinds ... from extra pension plans, stock options, first class air travel, car, driver, use of vacation spots, every benefit paid for people would be included in the Glutton Wage Tax calculation. The tax would be 100% of the compensation over the 200 level. We are not talking about making the dollars not deductible but instead a dollar for dollar tax that is paid regardless of other income tax that the company may pay. So, if a company feels their top brass is worth more than 200 times the janitor ... well, they would pay a luxury glutton tax.

So, Mr. President send these ideas to the appropriate committees and have them flesh out the details. Just remember, whatever they determine is best for America should be certainly good enough for you and Congress since you all work for America. Just like public education is good enough for us ... it should be good enough for yours and the Congresses' children but that is another subject entirely.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Life and Its Updates

Software allows for upgrades. Pay a fee once a year or maybe every couple of years and wallah ... your state of the art up-to-date raring to go. You are new born. You are refreshed with the latest and greatest stuff your software could do. Allows you to get the most out of your investment. Could I apply for a software upgrade for my body and or mind?

Imagine the possibilities!

But what if your on the wrong base? Your parents were into LSD and hard rock ... or bubble gum and comic books. It might be like be on Windows versus MAC ... when what you want now is something cool like Linux or Solaris/Open Solaris or something simple like Unix. Solaris does sound cool. Hi, my mind operates the Open Solaris ... how about you?

Oh well, stuck with the same operating system ... and no software upgrades except the old fashion manual reset button. Get up tomorrow and actually do something different.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Please Mr. President Helpe Me Understand

I begin my remarks with the clear understanding that you are only six months into your administration but as you and Congress move towards your summer vacation I think it is a good time to ask my question.

As way of background, I have four young sons. Young in the sense that last year they were voting in either their first or only second presidential election. All of them took particular interest in following your campaign. Each spoke strongly on why you were the clear better choice for the job of president. They heard your message of hope and change and believed that it meant something. In all honesty, I heard your message and chose the other candidate but you are the President now and we have to deal with the man in office.

So, I ask you Mr. President, with all due respect, why you appear to be working so hard to disappoint my children who thought you would represent hope and change?

Let's review:

First there was the desperate need to pass the Stimulus Package by February 14th or the world would come to an end. You left self proclaimed important matter totally in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. What we got was not clearly not a stimulus package but pent-up demand for financing all the liberal Democratic ideas with little or no stimulus. In fact as of recently, there has been only tens of billions spent in stimulus with the remaining spread out over the next year and a half. Why the rush? Would not your leadership have turned this into more stimulus earlier when it is needed? Wouldn't this have been a time to engage the Republicans as you promised?

Then came the rush to Cap N Trade. Again, little time for thoughtful debate or public input. Again, you delegated the complex details to the team of Pelosi and Reid. Again, we have what is now being characterized as a poorly thought through plan with little or not thought to the consequences of the legislature.

You have shown that words matter. People listen to you when you speak because you speak well. So, we know that words have meaning to you and how have you used this power. Well, you ended the Global War on Terror ... instead we now have "Overseas Contingency Operations". We have form your OMB Director on February 26th ... "the budget shows the combined cost of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and any other overseas contingency operations that may be necessary". Your assistant secretary of the Air Force told Congress ... "key battlefield monetary incentives has allowed the Air Force to meet the demands of overseas contingency operations even as requirements continue to grow". So, you change the language as if the issues are now different.

You promised to close Gitmo. Again, your bold public promise with no thought to how it would be done and who would pay for it. So far, your friends in Congress have said no. No money and your not moving those people to my district. Your friends in Europe and Asia have also said for all practical purposes no. Oh they might take one or two but you have several hundreds to deal with and no place to send them. Again, promises without thought.

Health Care is of course the latest demonstration that indirect incomplete speeches are your stock in trade. You speak loudly of the need for reform and yet no where do you or your representatives present specifics of any meaningful reform. You promised in your campaign that legislature would have a 48 to 72 hour reading period before being voted on. You promised that important legislature would have meaningful public input. You promised that you would listen to voices that disagreed with you. The House voted on an 1,100 page proposal with only a few hours of advance notice ... no reading time. The CBO did not have time to score the proposal but again Nancy Pelosi wanted to meet your arbitrary deadline so promises be forgotten.

You tell seniors don't worry their Medicare coverage will be okay. The tens of billions in cuts will not effect their coverage. Who will effect? Oh, the doctors who now must see many patients providing small amounts of time and according to you prescribing unnecessary tests will not receive less money per patient and be penalized for prescribing tests. So can you explain in simple terms how this will improve medical care? You belittle the health care industry for unnecessary procedures and inefficient services and what do you offer? Better computer records is your primary answer. Now electronic medical records are nice but the complete answer ... I think not. You go to Cleveland Medical Clinic to tell the world that they are a shining example of how things should be. Yet, they are not a teaching facility like many hospitals. They are a place where doctors are not in practice for themselves but all employees of one big organization. Is this your goal? If so, please state it clearly and do not hide your intentions.

The CBO Director has read through the legislature being proposed. His analysis says it will not reduce costs as you said it would. His analysis says it will not be revenue neutral as you said it would. In fact his analysis says it will increase medical care costs and cost almost $300 Billion more over the next 10 years. Your answer when questioned about this disparity ... "I don't agree with his assessment". You provide no details, no support ... just "I don't agree".

You label those who agree with you as "stakeholders" and those who disagree as "special interests". You claim the Republicans are road blocks, yet you, Pelosi and Reid do not engage them in conversation. Do you have a Richard Nixon enemies list?

Mr. President, you are the President of the entire United States. People voted for you on the belief that you are a smart man who would do things differently. The hope was that you would lead the country into a new, better day. We acknowledge that you started with a terrible economic situation, two wars and a world that really does not like us. What have you given us? You have delegated leadership to highly partisan Congressional officials. You have done as you promised and pushed extremely liberal legislature but that agenda seems to be afraid of meaningful hearings. The process does not allowed time to think through the consequences.

I acknowledge that this presentation does not cover every step you have made and then only domestic issues. Your foreign policy is not so wonderful ... is there a country you have not apologized to except our allies?

When you come back from your vacation Mr. President, will be there be time for thoughtful legislature. We will get time to read proposals? Will there be time for time for intelligent debate? Will you listen to and take into account dissenting opinions? Mr. President will you talk in specifics and not more generalities? You are the President and not the candidate. Mr. President you can not be all things to all people, you need to stand for something. You need to lead and not delegate that leadership. Only a handful of the nation voted for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, more than 50% of the nation voted for you.

Mr. President, I implore you ... do not make my sons sorry they voted for you.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Health Finances

From the Washington Post:
As bills to expand health-care coverage take shape in Congress, criticism has intensified because of their potential costs.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that the proposals fall short of Obama's promise to slow the increase in health-care costs, leading critics to charge that those bills would only add to the nation's large budget deficits.

"That's simply not true," Obama said yesterday.

Reform is expected to cost at least $1 trillion over the next decade, and Obama has pledged to pay for it without adding to the nation's budget deficit.

So, what we have is ... well Obama trying hard to be just like Bush ... promises ... smoke and mirrors on finance ... trust me it will all be better later.

Seems the President wants to count the annual required cut in payments to doctors under the Medicare / Medicaid rules. This savings will make the numbers balance. Problem is that this cut has not only never been done but in fact it more often than not results in a slight increase.

So, the President wants a cut that never takes place to pay for a bill that will come due.

And we wonder why people are becoming disenchanted with "hope and change"?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Balance Is Important

It is important to have balance. One needs to understand that decisions are not made in a vacuum. There are no absolutes but some things are right and some things are wrong. Some things you should yell and scream about, shout from the roof tops that you have identified something as wrong. Before you over react, consider whether what you have observed is worthy of being angry about. You do not have to agree with all of the actions you observe. There should be balance. Some actions might be worthy of comment. Some of them might be so minor as to be allowed to pass in the night without comment.

Choosing which actions you become angry about is in fact a measure of the kind of person you are. The kinds of fights you pick reflect your stature. Do you pick fights over minor things? Well you may be just a person of low level, such a person whose character can not rise above the trivial. On the other hand, is it the major, substantial issue that you attack with all your might, the ones that keep you up at night?

We measure our politicians by this kind of yard stick. What are their issues and how do they attack them? Who do they choose as advisors or close confidents? Are they men and women of stature or yes people who can barely see over the street curb when trying to observe any issue?

When we vote, it is with hope. We vote for one or the other because we hope that the one we are casting our precious vote for will be a person of stature, will be able to see the big picture, understand that leadership is about directing actions toward major goals and picking the important issues. As our leader, he/she should speak out strongly on the important issues and walk softly where the issues are not so clear.

Our President is demonstrating that his choices of what are critical and require loud statements from his bully pulpit may in fact miss the mark on so many levels.

Recent choices:

Iraqi dissidents risk their lives to protest a fixed election. Seventeen people are killed publicly protesting. Put aside that all candidates have to have the stamp of approval of the Supreme Religious Leader, there was still the need to fix the election. Our President first says who cares who wins, then I will not get involved, finally I will give the protesters a big hug.

North Korea sanctioned by the United (toothless) Nations for working on building a nuclear bomb and selling weapons to terrorists. The United Nations authorizes the boarding of North Korean ships at sea to insure that sanctions are being complied with. The USA has a warship in place to stop and search one of those North Korean transports. The President declares we will take a pass. Action might mean we would have to take a stand which might be controversial to the dictator club.

But with these and a substantial domestic economic crisis in progress what does our President choose to make a major issue. He identifies the one single issue that stands in the way of world peace and total happiness for all. The issue … Israeli settlements. If only Israel would stop building settlements, stop building for internal family growth, if only all the settlements would go away then the Palestinians would make peace, the Arab would make peace, everyone would love the United States, the President could win the Nobel Peace Prize and be declared the all time best.

What stands in the way of the President’s number one priority? Who knows?

It seems that the President ignores just the facts. The Palestinians only want a one state solution … and no Israel in that picture. The Arab countries that have made “peace” with Israel have no real form of peace. People do not have any meaningful relationship. Egyptians do not vacation in Israel and vice versa. Jordanians want no part of Israel. There was no peace before there were settlements and their will be no peace if Israel changes its settlement policy.

Unfortunately, the President does not read history.

Could someone send him a history book?

It Is Hard

It is hard, as David Bromberg once wrote. It is hard because it is daily in your face. Pick an issue. It does not change the fact that it is hard. Pick your head up look around, read, listen and it is hard to be positive, hard to look to the future and believe that based upon the current trajectory that tomorrow will better. It is not as if you wake up in the morning, wash your face off and say to that face … so, I guess this will be another day on the path towards the worst of days.

As a reader of science fiction, which so many of you of my readers laugh at, has a major advantage. You scoff, I know you do. You smirk at that old man watching his worthless future world nonsense. The books such silliness, imagine going into that section of Barnes and Noble. Its good that you all like to see things blow up combined with scantily clad females needing cue cards to remember their lines otherwise we hardly see the same movies. TV shows, well there was the X-Files phase, but otherwise chuckle … chuckle.

Anyone ever ask why? Why watch, Buffy or Stargate or Star Trek or now Merlin? Why read about vampires or future histories of mankind thousands of years in the future? Well look at the alternative.

Obama did this or that and moved us closer to becoming a true second class nation. If he apologizes to two more dictators he gets a free set of steak knives for apologizing to a full dozen or more in less than seven months in office. Democratic Congress not seeing a spending bill that did not excite them used to make fun of Bush for his $500 Billion annual deficits, now show him to be a piker with their $1 to $1.5 Trillion dollar deficits for at least the next seven to ten years. Obama moves along the path of selling Israel down the tubes to make nice to Arab dictators. Let’s not forget the Democratic plans to save the environment. The lofty goals have nice deadlines like 2030 or 2050 subject to extensions. Combine those wonderful goals with the penalties to be imposed on any country that is in love with stopping climate change, well they will not be able to do business with America. Those bad companies will have to settle doing business with China and its 1.5 Billion or India and its 1.0 Billion. Maybe they will decide to change their ways to do business with the 300 Million of the USA except by then we will be so bankrupt that we will not have any money to buy much.

Now, it may not be that bad. One can only hope.

So, I read and watch science fiction. Why, because to be classified as science fiction, it must have a positive ending. I long for a positive ending

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hope For Change Continues

Later today, the President will make what has been described as a major speech to the Muslim world. His goal as has been presented is to open the door to a new and improved relationship with the 1.5 Billion Muslims worldwide. So what will he say?

He will be making his speech from Cairo, Egypt. A few thoughts on that speech.

The speech is in Egypt a major American ally in the region. The second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel. The were receiving in the neighborhood of $3 Billion per year. They have one of the most repressive dictatorships in the region which is a major accomplishment. They do not have a free press.

He has invited the Muslim Brotherhood representatives to sit on the stage behind him to apparently his new openness towards all Muslims. This is the same Muslim Brotherhood that was responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat for his outreach to Israel.The same Brotherhood which is working to overthrow the current Egyptian government. The same Muslim Brotherhood which publicly aids Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah in their terrorist activities.

He will need to address the U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Say what you will about why we went to Iraq but the dictator is gone and they have had open elections. Now you can say ... Shiite are killing Sunni and vice versa ... but then they have been doing that for almost 1,500 years. Afghanistan? Well, they have never had a free country. A portion of the country can actually decide how they will live their lives free of Taliban religious oppression. Will he apologize?

Will he talk about the Syrian government which has a history of killing tens of thousands of its own people because they are from the wrong tribe?

Will he ask why in Saudi Arabia that women can not drive a car in public?

Will ask why in Muslim countries women are given second rate educations and not allowed to make a meaningful contribution to the welfare of their own countries.

Will he announce how he will get the Israelis to bend over so the Palestinians can shove it up their butts in the name of peace. Or will he say publicly that the Palestinians must begin to teach their children that a Jewish Israel has a right to exist? Will he apologize for our support of Israeli, the only democracy in the region?

What will he say?

Will he apologize for all of America's faults like he did in Europe?

Will he overlook the fact that almost every Muslim nation is ruled by a dictator? Will he overlook the fact the women have almost no rights in many of those nations? Will he overlook the fact America has a free press, free elections, an education system that allows for the free exchange of ideas and these do not exist in the majority of Muslim nations?

America is not perfect, it has made mistakes but we should never apologize to a world for those mistakes to those who will not allow women to drive a car, where to speak against the government is grounds for the death penalty, to group of people who believe that if only the Palestinians had their own state it would make their own poverty go away ... give the Palestinians a nation and the dictatorship they live on will melt away.

Mr. President ... please remember that America stands for freedom and our mistakes are a small number of grains of sand on the beach standing in front of the Muslim world which promotes routine ruthless treatment of its own people. So, please do not apologize.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mr. President - Hope Springs Eternal

It is interesting and maybe a little disturbing how the press falls all over any statement by the President as if it were a meaningful presentation of “new” information.

Today, President Obama stood before the microphones and announced a New Deal between the automakers, the autoworkers, the environmentalists, some portion of the elected officials and state governments. The historic compromise announced is an agreement on “tough” fuel economy rules, setting a standard of 35.5 miles per gallon. A change in the way business is done in Washington according to numerous news agencies.

The Obama administration will set regulations that will mandate a 5% annual increase in the fuel economy of new vehicles to 39 m.p.g. for cars and 30 m.p.g. for light trucks in model year 2016. In return, the auto industry will drop its lawsuits against California and 13 other states that had planned their own standards.

Yes, history in the making. But, is it really a big deal? Let’s see what is under the hood of this amazing story.

Well, two of the automakers, General Motors and Chrysler are now controlled by the President so I guess they would agree to any compromise he presented. Two of the other ten automakers, Toyota and Honda are presently producing the kind of cards the GM, Ford and Chrysler can only dream about, so for them … no big deal. Oh, did you read the end of the story where the House Democrats proposed to double up to $50 Billion to help the automakers actually produce the cars that are currently being produced by the Japanese, Korea and others. Of course, they were all smiling. The U.S. taxpayers will be sending them more money to do what they are already doing.

The autoworkers, how about them? These guys just want to be working right now so anything that says its okay to build cars is fine with them. But don’t forget, the UAW owes a big debt to the President of covering their butts with the GM / Chrysler bailout instead of letting the free market work and put them out on the street. So, autoworkers vote the way their benefactor points them.

The states why do the fall into line? Well, the largest state represented California already has stricter laws on its books so I guess Gov. Schwarzenegger could comprise on this one since he can’t get anyone in California to agree with him. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm left the White House shortly after the event … I think maybe because her stomach could not handle the “great victory” that still leaves her state with massive unemployment.

Legislators why are they so happy? Well, they know that any Presidential statement needs Congressional approval so the numbers are going to change. Remember the Congressional Democrats only take broad suggestions from the President not actual direction and certainly with no expectation that the President will get what he asks for, even when he asks nice.

The environmentalists … well, this is their President so whatever he says is fine with them. Ask them later in private if he will deliver.

Oh, what was not in the headlines … all cars will cost at least $1,300 more, thank you Mr. President. Of course, what everyone forgets is that Toyota just dropped its price on cars that exceed the President’s standard to compete with Honda’s cars that beat the standards which both cost less than any by GM, Ford or Chrysler. So, why the increase in cost when the technology is there already? Next, everyone knows that big SUV’s are on the way out so eliminate them from the equation and how big a jump is really?

Oh, did you read the end of the story where the House Democrats proposed to double up to $50 Billion to help the automakers actually produce the cars that are currently being produced by the Japanese, Korea and others. Of course, they were all smiling. The U.S. taxpayers will be sending them more money to do what they are already doing.

“Three or four other presidential administrations have tried to do this and weren’t successful,” Schwarzenegger said. “This president, after 120 days in office, has created the action that brought everyone together.” Oh Arnold, you must have forgot that when previous presidents actually said these kind of things that did not get done is because of that place call Congress. Yes, we have a big to-do, which still requires Congressional approval which will not take place until sometime next year which will be an election year so actual approval? So, add at least one more year to the actual goal.

In addition, the automakers will hire the numbers guys that are helping the banks to report high profits the first quarter of 2009 with any changes in their operations. The banks still maintain the subprime loans on their books that were causing them the huge losses only six months ago. Those guys will help the automakers meet the “government” standard without any significant change in the product being produced.

My suggestion, which has been stated clearly by others, is much simpler and cheaper on the American taxpayer. Increase the gasoline tax. Americans will reward the companies that produce better gas mileage cars by buying them. Net cost to the American taxpayer … increased income and no money to automakers. We win, we get better cars and during the interim money flows to Washington to cover their crazy spending.

Monday, May 18, 2009

So Predicatible

It concluded. Its over. Now the long summer, autumn and probably a significant part of winter. Yes, my friends ... Jack Bauer has completed another season of 24.

You say who cares? Well, then go back to watching your basketball championship, look forward to your baseball playoff, your preseason football and your football season and in between don't forget your fantasy pretend make believe sports. You probably watch an occasional hockey or golf when you feel the lack of sports.

Well for those of us that would rather watch a man routinely torture and maim the enemies and an occasional friend of this country it was a sad evening. The final two hours of the really longest day.

Of course it had a predictable ending which I will not share with you in case you are a loyalist but had to Tivo or DVR the episode but there were minimal questions remaining and yet ... you might have predicted the outcome maybe four or five weeks ago.

Leave it to say, the highlight may have been Chloe attempting to give Janis (Janeane Garofalo) a compliment. Wow, you almost see Chloe smile. It was an amazing moment.

Of course, we are left with what could next season possibly bring that could top this last seventh season or the prior six seasons. I ask this because, using another author's convention, my wife felt the need to own all of the prior seasons on DVD so we can watch and rewatch and rewatch them over and over to make sure we do not miss even one small clue of Jack Bauer's quest to save the world.

Let's see ... 24 predicted a black man as president ... and we have Obama ... of course the 24 black president gets assassinated. 24 brings us a woman president ... well if and I am not advocating this but if the president, vice president, speaker of the house, and I thing some one else gets put out of the way ... we could have President Woman (Hillary). You thing far fetched ... I don't know Bill really wants back in the White House ... so ...

Well, lets leave it say Jack saved the world for now, left us with a potential future conspiracy ... and may have given us a future team member who understands that torture is only torture if its being done to your guys.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Why Do We Do It Time and Time Again

They tell you ... and by they you know who they are ... they say that exercise is good for you. They tell you that you should get out in the fresh air, out from behind the computer screen. It is better for you. Who says this? The people sitting at their computer screens writing "how to live a better life" articles for other people who are locked to their computer screens waiting for the "experts" to tell you how to live a better life.

What they forget to tell you is that participating in those outdoor athletics can confront you with a serious problem. Serious is the time you are participating and they begin to keep score. Keeping score is the evil devil that accompanies sports.

Now I am not talking about professional sports where scores are merely the ways the bookies can tell you how much money you lost when you misunderstood "the spread". Or fantasy sports where you make up a team that does not exist to compete against another person's pretend team in a contest that only takes place in the netherworld of the internet. Fantasy sports was developed by professional sports empire as another way to suck you into their pretend it is important world ... the world for the bored sports nuts who can not figure out any more sports to follow while sitting in front of their computer.

Okay ... old man get to the point already.

Went golfing this afternoon. A pleasant sport. You only compete against yourself. Who said you are your own best friend? I can tell you that the person espousing this insane philosophy was obviously sitting in front of his/her computer screen and not doing anything physical other than typing.

You stand there ... towering over a little ball ... usually white but can come in cute pink, yellow or other cute colors ... with cute dimples ... you have that long metal stick with a club the size of a huge hitting area ... and there in front of you is a big wide open green field. Take the club head back straight, bring it back to where you started and hit that dam white dimpled ball. Where did it go? In the woods, in the sand, in the water ... yes, anywhere but that big wide open field.

Well, enough ... you are not your own best friend because your best friend would let you win occasionally ... would let you feel good about yourself.

Simple ... golf is an easy way to prove to yourself that you are less than ... and that little white dimpled ball ... its laughing at you except when you hit in the water to make it stop giggling. But, I will be back tomorrow and I will strike that dam ball and make it my servant ... or I will hide my head once again.

Life Of an Old Man

Some of you may be aware that recently, this Old Rambling Man turned another year older. It was an auspicious event, when of those birth year anniversaries that are divisible by 5 or -0-. So, a couple of thoughts on aging.

1. It beats the alternative, yes getting older is better than thinking ... oh he would have been 525 years old today.

2. All your jokes about getting older. Well, think about this young whipper snappers, age is relative. When I was your age, my age was near very old. Today, my age is the time when you can begin to enjoy yourself. You get grandchildren which are the best, you can ignore who you want and you can spend all your time embarrassing your children.

3. People ask you if you feel older. No, today is just about the same as yesterday. I did not want to walk around the block yesterday and surprising, I do not want to really walk around the block today.

4. What was #4.

5. People give you better liquor as presents. I am now the proud owner of a bottle that I only have to get those special people who like a tar, fishy, excessively peaty tasting liquid here to drink with me. I mean how can you not like something with this description:

Appearance: Full, rich amber.Nose: Big and rounded. At first, richly sweet: soft toffee, crème brulée, dried fig. Just keeps growing in the glass. Behind, fragrant natural oils, beeswax, polished oak furniture. Then, citrussy wood smoke with freshly ground peppercorns, burnt sugar, treacle toffee. Becomes increasingly maritime: wet-suit, iodine. Then exotic, concentrated, musky. With water, not so heavy, herbal, with more tar, like a herb-based cough medicine.
Palate: Great maturity. Wonderful thick mouth feel at full strength: fine structure, with enormous authority. Oily. Nutty. Sesame oil? Sweet and rich, with a fascinating battle between sweet and salty underneath and rich, peppery, wood smoke. Stem ginger. Hugely complex and deep. With water, smoother, sweeter (dried fruit) saltier (brine) and smokier (smoked beef). Silky yet firm.
Finish: Dark, richly smoky and urbane, long into the night. Complex mix of pepper, rancio, peat and new leather.

6. Earlier on you got to embarrass your kids only to their local friends. Now with the internet, you can embarrass them in front of the entire world. Well, maybe that is not a good think but it is interesting to imagine.

7. Your gut is now not such a big thing, all you have to do is hang around guts who have been working on theirs for longer.

Oh My You Could Imagine

For all you "hope and changelings" these are the best of times and the worst of times. For those who understand history it is certainly not the best of times, but fortunately for you its the best of times. Can you spell socialism? Unless of course you are paying attention to the drift away from those wonderful campaign promises.

Early on we had the ... we will not torture ... quietly though ... we will create a commission to study how to torture within the law.

Who can forget those wonderful words ... we will close Gitmo in twelve months. Right after we first have to figure out where to put the bad guys. Europe who complained about Bush, now says ... we do not want those bad people. Don't worry Congress ... particularly the Democrats want to close that bad place. Surprise, every Congressman and Senator has said ... sure do it ... just don't put them in my backyard. Liberal outrage against the injustice is not as loud as "I need to get reelected so don't upset my voters".

This administration will be open and transparent. The loud public announcement, we will hand out those gruesome pictures to satiate the ACLU's lust for torture victims pictures. Except, oh, maybe not because it might endanger our troops. You say thoughtful, I say a year ago, you were yelling at the Bush Administration for blocking the public's right to see all.

Of course, we can not forget the "I am a friend of Israel without question" that was such a wonderful campaign tune. It only runs on conflict with "I want the Muslim world to love me like no other". Well, when Bibi comes to town on Monday, Obama can make a long list of what Israel must do for peace. Then when Abbas and the other Arab leaders come in the following weeks, Obama can tell them what Israel will do and wait for their thank you because we know there will be no similar demands upon them because "what can you expect from Arabs?"

And of course, we can all remember, the fiscal discipline promise. California's pay attention. California about to go bankrupt structures a deal to balance the $42B deficit caused by Republicans spending when they said they would save. Okay, they are politicians. So, among their cuts is $74M in compensation to the home health care workers. Imagine that cutting compensation! Well, the home health care workers union remembered the campaign promises of the man they helped get elected. So, they make a phone call to the White House outlining their problem. So, without hesitation, the White House hung up the phone and called the Terminator. See Mr. Terminator, we know you have a fiscal crisis on your hands. We know you are asking everyone to sacrifice. You are raising taxes and cutting spending. It is a novel idea that cutting spending. How did you ever think up the idea of raising taxes on all citizens and not just the excessively wealthy? Well, we salute your efforts. Oh by the way, if you do not give our friends back their $74M we will be forced by the laws of one hand washing the other to not give you that check for $6.8B in stimulus money we promised you.

And of course, there were all those Bush era threats to do harm to their enemies. Well, Obama is not about to let that philosophy be discontinued. Seems the hedge fund guys did not like the Chrysler deal. Seems hard as it is to imagine, that the deal favored the UAW over all other creditors. So, the hedge fund guys tried to hold up the deal. Well, the White House made a call to those bad people and said ... go along or we will destroy you!

Imagine that from the Hope and Change Guys!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thank You For The Stimulating Stimulus

Well, we have now moved past the critical first 100 days of the new administration. It has certainly been full of exciting and stimulating activities. Many of these are either old beat to death stories ... how many "which dog will it be?" can anyone handle or how many dresses will Michelle wear today or in the next hour? or my favorite ... count the number of times the Obama team uses the words "hope and change".

One story which I am not sure gets enough press because its important not to make anyone feel bad. No its not the stories about Democrats being all up in arms over torture. Democrats and by Democrats I mean ... all politicians ... seemed shocked to learn that the CIA with the legal approval of the Attorney General's staff tortured captured enemy combatants to gather intelligence about potential attacks.

Now the fact that the Democratic leadership was clearly informed (documented in public interviews back then) from day one about the practice, and but of course that was back when nobody cared what the Democratic leadership cared about ... to now when the Democratic leadership has lots of free time to hold hearings about what happened with their approval and now disapproval.

The story that has me up in arms or just laughing or who cares.

When the banks and brokerage houses were about to close their doors and go out of business last fall ... the Government or you might say the Republican administration convinced the Democratic Congress to give an initial $350 Billion Dollars to these needy institutions. But what you say ... some of the major banks did not need the money, they were working out their problems without government intervention. Correct, but the politicians insisted that all major banks and brokerage firms needed to take the money. Reason? You would not want the bad banks and brokerage firms to feel bad by clearly identifying to the public who the biggest fools had been. See, it was important to the government officials that all banks and brokerage firms look bad. So, forced to do so ... the good banks took the money.

Now of course you have said to yourself ... see those Republicans are evil and of course you would be right because who could be so stupid to want to avoid the public from knowing who the good banks and who were the stupid banks?

Well, recently some of the banks who did not need the money decided they would like to pay the money they did not need back to the government. Good idea? Of course.

Well, the Democratic administration has told those banks that they can not pay the money back. Why? Well, the public would then be able to identify the bad banks from the good banks and might change from bad bank to good bank.

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that you can not do that because then the bad banks would be punished by the public for being bad. Don't worry the government is working hard to determine who is good and who is bad and they will tell you it wasn't them.

It so nice to see that it does not matter who is office.