Friday, May 30, 2008

recommended by the management

A hotel near where I lived once boasted on their marquee, “This hotel is highly recommended by the management.” Wow. I wonder if that recommendation drove business for them. The only stronger endorsement, from a purely satirical point of view, is if the owners actually recommended the hotel. In order from least reliable to most reliable, it goes 1.) owners, 2.) management, and 3.) people who have never stayed at or heard of the hotel.
Now Clinton, a.k.a. the owner, is claiming she is the most electable candidate in the general election. She, to ensure her fan base continues to have faith in her recommendation of . . . well . . . herself, has suggested voters stop watching the news and reading the papers. Her basis of her electability is reliant on only counting big states with primaries (not caucuses) that consistently vote democrat and nobody actually checking the validity of her recommendation. It used to also be based on the head to head polls but those no longer favor her, so they don’t count anymore. She continues to use popular vote as a basis for electability but for her popular vote to count, she must count both Florida and Michigan (not giving Obama any votes in Michigan) and by not including estimates for caucus states. I’ll grant the Democratic Party has completely flubbed up the process this cycle and nobody can honestly count the votes. I’ll also grant that the vote is close . . . really close . . . so close that neither candidate can actually use the popular vote as an argument of electability.
When I had guests visit, I put them up in another hotel down the street. AAA had rated that one satisfactorily. With Hillary, I think I may do the same.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mutilation, My Love

My wife and I had a baby boy. In it’s first week of life we were all it new. We were the snugglers, the caregivers, the feeders and the change-my-crappy-diapers-because-cold-poo-is-unpleasant-on-my-penis-ers. Completely unable to care for itself, he trusted us and, I even believe, loved us. Like any good parents of baby boys we held our child and looked tenderly at his trusting and loving face. Then we asked someone to mutilate our child’s penis.
Before the circumcision, he had an adorable little penis. It looked like three peas in a pod. I assume that is what an uncircumcised penis is supposed to look like. I only have my own Darth Vader helmeted little friend as comparison. Well, there was that one drunken time in college where I lost 5 bucks in a size challenge. I was entirely focused on the ruler I swear and, since it was clear I could never prevail against Bruno “Tripod” Quatrone, I never competed again. Anyway, based on a comparison of one, it was an adorable and slightly odd looking little penis.
Three days after mutilating our child, his penis was still a bloody little stump. One side was higher than the other and the bottom had an unsightly bulge. Neither my wife nor I was willing to kiss it and make it better. We took him to his pediatrician. The pediatrician pulled and poked and said many noncommittal things. Finally, I said, “What I’m not hearing you say, Doctor, is ‘That’s one beautiful penis.’”
Still the doctor refused to commit. The best he said was, “It is not the best circumcision I’ve seen but it will function normally and aesthetically, it should look normal.”
“He can pee?” I asked
“Yes,” answered the doctor.
“He can give me grandchildren?” my wife asked.
“Yes,” answered the doctor.
“He won’t be called monster-cock . . . in a bad way . . . by his girlfriends?” I asked.
“He should not be called monster-cock or even Frankenstein-cock,” answered the doctor.
I felt relieved my son would have normal functioning. My wife was pleased he would be normal aesthetically although I don’t think he should have a girlfriend who has such a vast knowledge of penises that she critiques them.
I have had a penis for 37 years. I have spent a lot of time with my penis. When I was 12 through 17 years old and again when I was 25 through 29 years old, my penis was my only friend. In all of that time, I have only peed, done things related to providing my mom grandchildren (or solo-practiced anyway) and not be called monster-cock. I have experimented but that was all my penis could do. Well . . .that was all it could do well. Was there anything else? After all of these years and many, many hours I dedicated to my penis, was my penis holding back on me? What other secrets does my penis have?
After more healing, my son’s penis is looking more normal. Other parents tell me it can be a year or two before it looks completely “normal”, normal for a mutilated penis that is. I no longer have concerns about his penis but the relationship between my penis and me will never be the same. The harm there cannot be healed with time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

McCain's Narrow Road

McCain walks a narrow road to nomination. On one side of the road lives the conservative republican base. On the other side of the road live moderate independents. He cannot win the general election without the support of both groups. Unfortunately for McCain, the conservatives and the independents disagree more frequently than they agree. Opposite to the grape logic first espoused by Karate Kid’s trainer Miyagi, if McCain walks on one side of the road his general election chances will be squished just like a grape. If McCain walks on the other side of the road, his general election chances will be squished just like a grape. The only way to general election is to stand firmly in the middle of that narrow road.
There is a complication to taking the middle of the road in politics. All politics necessitates pandering. As McCain panders to the middle about his success in environmental responsibility, the Conservatives gather on one side of the road and wonder if McCain will put the environment before their economic interests. They wonder if McCain values caribou more than oil. The Conservatives don’t like that. “Being stewards of god’s world is a worthy cause”, the Conservatives argue, “as long as they don’t actually have to do anything or pay for it.” McCain panders to the Conservatives by telling them the secret code; “environmental responsibility equals more nuclear plants.” “Ok”, the Conservatives sigh, “maybe McCain isn’t so terrible after all with all of his environmental protection talk.” On the other side of the road the independents gather. “Nuclear power?” they ask. “Has someone figured out how to keep nuclear material out of terrorists’ hands or to keep it safe for the tens of thousands of years required for nuclear waste to become safe? No? That doesn’t sound very environmentally responsible.”
McCain quickly switches subjects. “Illegal immigration!” he shouts. To the Conservatives he whispers, “I’ll close the board and won’t give amnesty to the illegals.” To the independents he explains, “While I won’t give them amnesty and won’t make them leave the country and I’ll provide a path to citizenship. The path will be shorter and easier than anyone who attempts to become a citizen legally but it is not amnesty.” “Whew,” each side of the road says, as long as they haven’t heard him whisper to the other side.
“What about Iraq and the war on terror?” the Conservatives ask. “We’ll stay in Iraq as long as necessary. We’ll pore billions of needed funds into the Iraq sand, continually stoke Muslim anger and keep so many of our troops there that we won’t be able to respond to any actual threat.” “That’s better,” the Conservatives sigh. “At least we won’t have those pesky billions of dollars being invested in our own economy,” they applaud. “Excuse me,” the independents ask. “What about keeping our sons and daughters alive to defend American from any actual threat, for example Russia, China or Iran? What about the constant drain on our economy?” “Don’t worry,” McCain assures the independents. “We’ll only keep them in Iraq only if nobody is shooting at them. The troops will only stay there if they aren’t actually needed. It will be like sending our patriotic sons and daughters to a desert spa.” “By that logic,” independents ask, “the troops shouldn’t be in Iraq now. After all, aren’t people shooting at them now? I don’t think it feels very spa like at the moment.”
As McCain runs back and forth between to two sides of his little road to the white house a large truck speeds down it. “Obama” is written clearly on the side. Thick chains attached to the truck pull large anchors with the names “Wright” and “Ayers” engraved on them. The anchors dig into the pavement the slow the trucks momentum. As of today, it is unclear whether the anchors will slow the truck enough for McCain to zigzag all the way down the road to the white house or if the truck will simply squish McCain just like a grape.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The America I want to live in

The America I wish to live in

We are the United States of America.

We hold ourselves, our community and our government to a high standard.

We accept responsibility for our own action and inaction.

We expect individuals, companies and governments to be head accountable for their actions and inactions.

Our government creates an atmosphere and enforces laws that allow every individual the opportunity to succeed through their own abilities and determination. Having the opportunity to succeed also carries the risk of failure. Each individual and company must accept that risk for themselves.

Our government reflects our values

Fiscal responsibility, education, scientific/technology advancements and healthy businesses are essential to a strong America.

Energy independence is core to a strong America.

Protecting the environment for this and following generations is our responsibility and a challenge we are equal to. We will not take short term actions to benefit our economy at the cost of long term environmental damage.

We happily trade and compete with any responsible nation on a level playing field. This includes taxes and tariffs, fair trade policies and processes, product safety, environmental responsibility and human rights.

We do not torture. We do not have others torture for us. We do not choose inaction on the way to allowing torture on our behalf.

We are not just consumers. We are individuals and communities capable of greatness.

We believe in charity but do not tolerate and encourage laziness.

Duties for the American government
1.) Create a government worthy of our respect and trust
a. Enact real campaign finance legislation. Eliminate lobbyist, big donors and gifts to public servants.
b. Maintain an independent, non-political department dedicated to ensuring our public servants do not act or legislate in a manner inconsistent with their duties.
c. Charge any public servant who misappropriates funds and/or services with treason. Every dollar misspent is a dollar that did not buy armor for our soldiers. That dollar may have saved a life.
d. No funding is allowed for pork barrel or special projects. Every dollar spent frivolously places an unfair burden on tax payers.
e. Improve spending oversight. This includes protection from fraud but also special interest spending and inefficient spending.
f. Government must spend less than it earns.
g. Social obligations must be protected.
h. All spending, voting, taxation and creation of laws must be transparent, communicated and clear.
i. Elected officials can not receive raises when the country is not improving or when their approval rating is below 50%.
j. Do not trade one spending program for another. If a program is not worthy of continuing, eliminate it. Once the money is in the tax payers wallets, then ask for incremental spending.

2.) Energy policy/environment
a. Virtually eliminate income tax for households earning below $60,000, largely reduce income tax for households earning up to $120,000. Replace income with a series of excise tax increases on items that are bad for our security, bad for our environment and/or bad for us. Our government is not about eliminating choices but can influence our decisions through taxation. Items to consider: Oil, natural gas, coal, high fructose corn syrup, tobacco, alcohol, virgin timber. A simple example: Reduce income tax by $600 per household but add $600 tax to gas. This will help direct a $13 trillion economy to make decisions more in-line with the long term health of our planet, our country and our selves.
b. Over the next 5 years eliminate the least efficient 50% of all appliances, lighting and vehicles. This can be done by existing classes. Each year for the next 10 years raise the minimum allowable efficiency by 1 – 5% a year. Each year the president will set the increase for the following year.
c. Require better efficiency standards for all new buildings and remodeling.
d. No longer give oil support to other countries as aid. Instead give solar, wind or micro-hydro facilities. This creates a greener world, provides long term support to country in need and lowers demand for oil, lowering the cost of oil.
e. Eliminate all subsidies and tax advantages for coal, oil and natural gas, except programs to convert to renewables.
f. Allow drilling in ANWAR and North Dakota. Enforce the strictest environments policies. Companies that benefit from drilling must fund an agency that is immediately able to respond to oil spills. Index the lease payments so that the government enjoys the risks involved in oil price fluctuation.
g. Link the farm bill with creating renewable domestic energy sources. This will help the farmers beyond the current year with secondary income and will help the United States become energy independent.

3.) Education
a. Education is absolutely critical to national success. Our smartest must be prepared to lead the world in their respective fields. Educating the lower half to the best of their ability enables their greater success and opportunities while reducing their need for later life support. “Every child to their greatest ability.”
b. College is not necessary for every person. By making high school graduation meaningful, college will be less necessary, therefore, lowering costs. Our public education must be the best and must demand the most from each and every child.
c. Additional funding will be based on test scores, participation in after school programs and graduation rates. (12% of our schools have graduation rates below 60%). No school should have a graduation rate below 90%.
d. Increase the number of hours per week and the number of weeks per year that students are in schools.
e. Do not allow students to drop out of high school except in extreme circumstances.
f. Create a task force to address the worst performing 100 districts. The districts must be put on a multi-year plan. Many of the teachers and administration will be replaced. The program must include after school programs, meal programs for poor, police involvement, community involvement.
g. Students must perform a minimum number of hours either volunteering, in internships or located abroad to graduate.
h. Create levels of graduation certificates to show potential colleges and businesses the work the student has done.

4.) Laws/legal environment
a. Review all laws and regulations. Eliminate or modify those that are unduly hampering American production and jobs.
b. Enact tort reform to reduce the amount and severity of civil lawsuits.

Friday, May 9, 2008

energy crisis

The United States is suffering from an energy crisis of our own making. No. I’m not talking about $4 a gallon gasoline or $126 a barrel of oil. These little annoyances are petty by comparison to the larger issues. What is the issue, you may ask, if driving to a neighborhood restaurant is more expensive than the prime rib? I never thought you’d ask.

Before I talk about the issues, let me take a quick tangent. With today’s technology, it is time we understand that all energy is interchangeable. Whether our energy comes from the sun or dinosaurs, whether is comes in liquid, gas or from an outlet, all energy is interchangeable. I’m not suggesting you put an extension cord into your gas tank. While I’m not certain, I can guess the results would be not pleasant. In discussing energy, we need to look beyond how much it is going to cost us to drive to grandma’s this summer. We need to think five, ten, even twenty years out. Over five years, we can adjust the percent of our energy coming from any source. Over twenty, we have the power to dictate our future. That said, having a twenty year goal and moving lackadaisically toward it starting five years from now (conveniently after the next presidency) is just plain foolish.

Now the main energy handicap: bipartisanship. The democrats are set to kill any bill the republicans put forward and the republicans are set to do the same against the democrats. Neither side seems willing to look toward common ground. Their positions reflect an adherence to process over outcome. Means over ends. Ideals over results. Not that I wish to mock or disparage either of their so-called ideals, but come on. Get a life.

Democrats whine make the oil companies pay for it. They made unseemly billions. They can afford it. By the way, don’t let them drill in anywhere new. The Republicans are ready to defend the oil companies over the good of the American people. They also seem to be honestly allergic to solar power. I swear every time I hear a Sean Hannity mention solar power, he sneezes and breaks out in little hives. The T.V. make covers the worst of the breakout but you can see it a little around the neckline where the makeup is thinnest.

Why panic? Yeah the U.S. supplies oil some of its own oil but too much of it comes from outside the states. I’m a big proponent of trade but I have a few issues with this. The way we currently use oil, a drop in supply will bring our nation to a stop. We have no backup plan. We have no way of responding to an immediate crisis. Our reserves may buy us days or weeks but not the months and years we would need to respond to an oil crisis. An oil crisis is a remote possibility, you say. Balderdash! Imagine, Syria and Iran attack Israel. Israel responds the way Israel does, by destroying their enemies and their enemies’ ability to launch another attack any time soon. Say, by taking out Iran’s oil production. Middle east producers turn off the pumps to force western countries to side against Israel and anybody who doesn’t have their own well stock piles every bit of oil they can get their hands on incase bad does to apocalyptic. Oil would cost hundreds of dollars a barrel.

OK. Maybe that is a remote possibility, but we know Russia, Iran and Venezuela are using dinosaur revenues to build up their military forces. They don’t like us much. It hurts me emotionally not to be liked but it hurts me more to not be liked by someone with missiles.

Still to much doom and gloom? My specialty. How about something a little lighter? Our economy has a big leak. Billions of dollars everyday leave the U.S. just for energy. It doesn’t matter what else we do, this leak is big enough for water to gather at the bottom of our boat. As oil prices rise, that leak gets bigger.

Did you notice that I haven’t mentioned the gloomiest of scenarios yet? Global warming. Many of us north of Washington D.C. wouldn’t complain if things got say five to ten degrees warmer in the winter. I wouldn’t complain at all. The problem with global warming isn’t what the scientists are predicting. The problem is that we don’t know what is going to happen. There is a chance that all of the scientists are wrong and Gore is a big fat liar. There is also a chance that I will be struck by lightening causing large lumps of gold to shoot out of my butt like a slot machine jackpot. I am not going to bet big on either of those outcomes. There is also a chance global warming will lead to longer growing cycles, creating a bountiful harvest, allowing the world to grow enough food to feed the poor, put an end to all wars and, somehow, cause lumps of gold to shoot out of my butt like a slot machine jackpot. Again, I’m not betting the ranch on bountiful harvests. Basically, we don’t know. Maybe there will be more storms, maybe less. Some places will have bountiful harvest while others go hungry. So with global warming uncertainty, I’m going to bet conservative.

So what do we do? Everything. We need to reduce overall energy use, make the energy we do use more efficient, diversify our sources of energy and make as much as possible of it domestically. How?

First, we dramatically reduce or eliminate income and capital gains tax and replace it with a series of excise taxes (excise taxes are specific taxes on products levied before the consumer even sees the product). Tax products based on whether it contributes to anti-American regimes (oil), whether it contributes to pollution and/or global warming (coal), whether it damages the environment (virgin wood and fertilizers) or whether it is damaging to American health (tobacco and high fructose corn syrup).

Look at the simplest example; assume we raise the price of gas through taxes enough that you are paying $1,000 more a year on gas but your income tax bill is lowered by $1,000. If you don’t change your life a bit, your economic position is essentially unchanged. What taxes would have normally come out of your pay check now you pay every time you fuel up. It is up to you to reduce your tax burden by being more fuel-efficient. My bet it Americans will suddenly embrace a conservative lifestyle when gas costs $8 a gallon.

Next, raise CAFÉ standards and their related standards on all electronic and other products (e.g. lawn mowers, refrigerators, etc.). No wimpy 5% over five years. Raise it 10% a year for the next five years and than 2% a year forever more. My guess is it won’t be an issue because the excise taxes will cause everyone to be more efficiency aware, but I don’t like to take chances. On the CAFÉ calculation, give a 10% reward for vehicles that are either flex-fuel or plug-in hybrids. I love this idea because it puts power into the consumers’ hands. If gas is more expensive than ethanol, the consumers will buy ethanol. The same is true for the plug-in capable cars. Every week, the consumer can decide whether it is best for them to utilize grid power or gasoline. It introduces competition to oil and true market forces will dictate the balance between oil and ethanol.

Open drilling in ANWAR and encourage in North Dakota and offshore. Use strict environmental considerations, force everyone drilling to fund an environmental cleanup agency and index leases on drilling so we all share in the risks and rewards of fluctuation in oil prices. Allow construction of nuclear and clean coal power plants. Have the military continue to invest and purchase coal to liquid fuel products for a portion of their vehicles.

Here’s a fun one. Take $50 billion out of the farm fund and encourage investment in secondary income for farms. Most of that $50 billion is used on foolishly wasteful programs to balance the price of cheese anyway. Share investment in building farmer related sources of domestic energy. For example, putting windmills up on farms, building plants that burn farm waste, building plants that turn cellulose into ethanol. Assuming $1 dollar of public funds is enough to encourage $4 dollars of private investment, it would contribute $1 trillion dollars under one four-year president in environmentally logical domestically sourced energy with an added benefit of providing farmers an additional source of long term revenue.
Within five years, our energy crisis will be no more than a toothache. If we do nothing or fart along like both parties are currently doing, today’s crisis will truly cripple us, harm our way of life and threaten the United States very future. Ok. Maybe I’m a little dramatic but acting is better than betting on lumps of gold shooting out of my butt like a slot machine jackpot.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

salems lot

Hillary says she is not going to put her lot in with a bunch of economists. Basically, she’s saying the more you know on a subject, the less I want to hear. She wants the undereducated white Middle American to dictate government policy. Ignore the educated. Ignore the thoughtful. Bomb Iran and make the oil companies pay for it. Once we’re done, we’ll go and put bibles in what is left of their hands. That’ll teach them. Freeze mortgage rates for the irresponsible. If that hurts you because you were careful to live within your means, then you are not her kind of voter. Free healthcare to everyone. On the government. Sure your taxes will go up but if you pay taxes, you probably aren’t her kind of voter. She has ton’s of experience running the country when old Billy was using 18 year old interns has humidors but don’t give her credit for anything Bill did that doesn’t poll well today. She was against it from the start, documentation to the contrary be damned.

Friday, May 2, 2008

party play

Beautiful timing

The Democratic Party is set to break apart. It probably won’t but let me dream for a minute. Currently, educated, African and/or young people support Obama. Older women and uneducated men support Hillary. Florida and Michigan voters should be justifiably annoyed their state representatives played chicken with the DNC and lost.

Now, let’s play what if. What if Hillary gets the nomination? Either because she wins the last few primaries by a respectable nomination or she sacrifices some virgins to force the super delegates to support her. Either way, the young, the educated and the black (not mutually exclusive) are going to say she stole the nomination. Let’s take this scenario a little farther. What if Obama then drops out of the Democratic Party and forms a new party? He is able to bring 30% of elected democrats with him from congress and state and local levels. Al Gore sees a chance to finally stick it to Bill Clinton for costing him enough votes to lose the 2000 presidency, so Al joins the new party.

The conservatives don’t really like or trust McCain. They support him because if they don’t a liberal will win the presidency. A bad conservative is better than a good liberal from their point of view. If the Democratic Party fractures, they won’t need to support McCain anymore. They form their own party, maybe with Mitt Romney as their candidate. Their new party should be able to convert at least 30% of Republican elective officials.
With four major parties, independent voters can find much closer common ground with a party. Instead of having two parties trying to court the middle and, therefore, not providing much real distinction, we will have four parties. In order to differentiate themselves, the four parties will actually have to move away from the center.