Thursday, May 21, 2015

This blog is on vacation

See y 'all the first or second week of June.

I'm about to leave and already American Airlines is announcing a $#@$$%%!! delay.

Who says I'm cranky?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A few well-deserved squawks about what’s wrong with chicken farming — and how it’s going to smack the average American cluck square in the wallet

Let me start this discussion of chickens with a mention of beef steak. You remember beef steak, don’t you? 
Henny Penny told Chicken Licken that
the sky was falling. She didn't know
the half of it.
It came from cattle. It was red and gave off tantalizing aromas as it broiled and charred. It sizzled noisily sometimes. It came off the grill almost black the outside, and pink, juicy, and flavorful on the inside. Sometimes it came attached to a bone that you could gnaw on while your dog sat under the table, begging. And unless you were very  poor you could afford it on a fairly regular basis.

Well, that went away for a lot of people. Cattle growers began discovering that the price of feed was too high because chemical and bioengineering companies had instituted practices that were driving up grain prices. In addition, the price of corn was  driven up by people who were snapping it up not to eat, but to turn into ethanol. Today, we burn up about 10 percent of our corn crop in our automobiles. Check the chart. That annually-growing swatch of yellow metastasis  is corn-derived ethanol.

But there were always chicken and eggs. Eggs were cheap, and for the moment still are, although don’t count on it lasting for long.

And instead of a steak, you could always cook a chicken. Chicken was cheap. Once  the Republican Hoover Administration had been banished for eternity to the Great American Hall of Shame that we call history, there actually  could be a chicken in almost every pot in America, just as Hoover promised. At least on the weekends. As long as Hoover wasn’t around to screw it up.

Recently, that situation has eroded. These days you can pay for just enough ground beef to make a hamburger what you used to pay for a quarter of a pound of imported, line-caught, artisinally-smoked Scottish salmon. Never mind what the salmon costs these days.

That increase in beef prices drove people to chicken in increasingly growing droves. Which in turn inflated the price of chicken. In my supermarket the other day, chicken breasts were selling for something like eight bucks a pound. And now it’s about to get worse.

The New York Times reports a bird flu epidemic in the midwest and west that’s infecting chickens, forcing farmers to slaughter and destroy them. The infections can spread fast. That’s because the chickens are crammed together by the thousands — actually  the hundreds of thousands — in giant Buchenwaldish poultry barns. For example, the Times story mentioned that one egg farm was disposing of “about 5.5 million hens housed in 26 metal barns.” 

Do the arithmetic. We’re talking about over 192,000 hens per barn. Little wonder the USDA says that if you have an outbreak on a farm, every last chicken must die and then be cremated, composted, or buried. You can have enough infected chickens on one farm to infect the planet.

So now it’s a pretty good bet that the price of every kind of animal protein will move up a notch. The price of Scottish smoked salmon will cost what caviar used to cost. Steak will cost like Scottish smoked salmon. Chicken will cost like steak. 

That’s no skin off the noses of the one percent. If you’re earning a couple-a million bucks a year, so you pay 30 bucks extra for a sirloin steak. What’s the big deal? And why are all those middle class and working folks whining again?

As for the rest of us? Well, you remember what Marie Antoinette said. Or what she might have said, had she been living today.

“Let them eat cockroaches.”

Monday, May 11, 2015

Banks, crooks, and two news stories that say it all

"I am not a crook". And if you
believe that one, I have 
another: the banks are not 
crooks, either.
The following are excerpts from two Reuters news stories that appeared on the the Reuters website on Monday, May 11th:
Banks prepare defense for anti-Wall Street campaigns - WSJ
May 11 (Reuters) - Top executives from the biggest U.S. banks, concerned about anti-Wall Street rhetoric that is already bubbling up on the 2016 campaign trail, are working to push back against the prevailing narrative that "banks are bad", the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter….

… The banks that took part were JPMorgan Chase & Co , Citigroup Inc , Goldman Sachs Group Inc.,Bank of America Corp., Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon Corp., and State Street Corp.
Citigroup says could plead guilty to settle FX probe
Citigroup Inc said it could plead guilty to an antitrust charge to resolve a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of its dealings in foreign exchange markets…. 
…Citigroup is one of six major banks that have been under investigation over the past year by global authorities, including the DOJ, for trying to manipulate rates in the $5-trillion-a-day foreign exchange market…. 
…The banks have been accused of sharing confidential information about client orders and coordinating trades from 2008 until October 2013 to boost their own profits.
Any questions?

Monday, May 04, 2015

Senators and lobbyists to America's voters and their kids: "Drop dead!"

Has your home turned into
a killing jar for humans? 
This cranky post will tell you 
whom to thank.
I was eight years old when I learned about trapping and killing butterflies and other insects. It involved a killing jar — essentially a glass jar containing some wadded up cotton soaked in an awful-smelling chemical. The summer camp nature counselor who taught me about this stuff also taught me the name of the chemical. Formaldehyde.

Killing bugs with formaldehyde is no longer the most popular method. The professionals would rather use ethyl acetate, chloroform, or cyanide. Those are considered less harmful to you than formaldehyde. But there is one place where formaldehyde is still wildly  prevalent.  Your home.

Turns out that the glue that holds layers of laminated furniture together – not to mention laminated flooring and even certain items of clothing – is generously laced with formaldehyde, and those items gradually give off formaldehyde fumes. 

No, you’re not likely to keel over dead, like a bug in a jar, after a few seconds . But exposure to formaldehyde over time, even in small amounts, is associated with leukemia, especially myeloid leukemia, nasal cancer, and for good measure, asthma, according to the National Cancer Institute.

So the Environmental Protection Agency has been tying for the past five years to limit how much you can be slowly gassed to death by formaldehyde-laced products. Unfortunately, a small — shall we call it an impediment? — has cropped up: corruptible law makers under the sway of lobbyists with fists full of money.

Start with a guy who has already been labeled “Senator Formaldehyde,” — Republican Senator David Vitter from Louisiana. Although Republicans will tell you they’re not scientists and don’t know diddley squat about climate change, some of them suddenly turn to experts when it comes to formaldehyde. 

Vitter is a case in point. By his actions and things he said, he is implicitly in favor of poisoning of Americans with this subsance. Not a huge surprise considering that since 2009 he has graciously accepted approximately $900,340 in campaign contributions from the chemical industry and other industries that use various poisonous chemicals in the products you, I, and your children use and inhale the gasses from. Hey, the Supreme Court says it ain't bribery. It's merely freedom of speech.

Sad for this cranky old Democrat to say, it’s not just Republicans  like Vitter and Roger Wicker of Mississippi who are guilty of allowing industry to poison us and our kids to make a grubby buck. Senator Barbara Boxer and even the current White House are effectively co-conspirators, the way I read information recently published in a New York Times article.

One of he poisoned furniture and floor lobby’s arcane arguments is the cost of the illness and death their products spew into America. Under the pressure of the poisoners, reports the New York Times…
“the estimated benefit of the proposed rule dropped to $48 million a year, from as much as $278 million a year. The much-reduced amount deeply weakened the agency’s justification for the sometimes costly new testing that would be required under the new rules, a federal official involved in the effort said.’’
In other words, if the lobbyists manage to whittle down the value of your life and health, after a while you and your kids just aren’t worth saving. You're  just another bug in a killing jar. After all, a senator who graciously accepted close to a million bucks from America's Lucrezia Borgias doesn't need to worry about you. Or your stinking vote. You'll be dead anyway.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Gas, greed, and the great New York pastrami disaster

Yes, it can kill you, but what a way to go!
I confess to what may be a congenital weakness for sandwiches containing any cut of meat that falls under the general category of “brisket.” That includes the Big Three: corned beef, pastrami, and plain old “brisket of beef.”

All three contain enough animal fat and sodium to send an elephant into cardiac arrest, with enough fat left over to kill the elephant’s pet whale. One ounce of brisket — one measly ounce! — contains seven tenths of a gram of saturated fat, 18 milligrams of cholesterol, and, almost any way it’s prepared, 22 milligrams of sodium. And don’t take my word for it. That’s Google talking.

All this would be perfectly fine and not a hazard to human health if people actually limited themselves to eating an ounce of brisket, or pastrami, or corned beef every now and then. Fat chance! (No pun intended.)

Is it worth your life?
Yeah, probably.

In New York, moderation be damned!  Instead, we have the revered phenomenon of the New York deli sandwich, a gastronomic institution among New Yorkers who have the daring to risk their lives for the richness of great gleaming globules of oily fat mixed with giant doses of blood pressure-raising salt, and in the case of pastrami also a probably-toxic level of smoke particles, (as well as some accompanying animal protein.)

In a New York deli when you order brisket, corned beef, pastrami or some combination thereof, you don’t just get an ounce. You don’t just get two ounces. You don’t just get three, or four, or five, or six, or seven ounces. Or even a little bit more than that.

Instead you get a pile of meat so high that the obligatory rye bread, weakened by rivers of fat oozing from the meat, can’t possibly hold the sandwich together. You get a great, heaping, huge, humongous mountain of adipose protein, so big, and so devastating to the bread above and below it that the sandwich falls apart if you’re foolish enough to pick it up. Instead, you have to eat it with a knife and fork.

Little wonder that my father died at age 67. Or that one of my cousins died at 47. Or that another of my cousins, although he lived to 75, spent the last ten years of his life in a wheel chair after a debilitating stroke at the age of 65. As the Parisians would say, if they lived here instead of in Paris, cherchez le brisket. But of course, if they lived here they wouldn't be Parisians.

Fatal flirtations

Was it worth it?  My deceased relatives would probably tell you,”Yes. Yes it was.” And although I personally am a member of Pastrami Anonymous, every so often I fall off the PA wagon, too. And when I do, I usually wake from my trance to discover that I am sitting at a formica table in a New York deli, in the midst of a sea of pastrami-chomping tourists who are carrying on high risk flirtations with cholesterol as part of their New York gastronomic experience.

And no, I will not tell you where to get the best brisket-stuffed sandwiches in New York. The Second Avenue Deli has its aficionados. So does the Carnegie Deli. So does Katz’s Deli. So did the late, lamented Stage Deli, may it rest in peace and fond memory upon a lake of molten chicken fat. And other delis with their claques include, but are not limited to Sarge’s (founded by a retired Jewish police sergeant I’m told), Mendy’s, and Pastrami Queen. Did I mention Sammy's Roumanian, where they don't even have brisket, but do have pitchers of chicken fat on each table to fatten lubricate the tenderloin steak?

As I said, I’m not getting into a whose-is-best free-for-all.

But I am, finally, getting around to my point.

What it all means

During the past month there have been two separate revelations of  restaurants that offered pastrami also illegally stealing natural gas from utility lines.

The first was the Stage restaurant, (no relation to the original Stage Deli in the theater district). The Stage, in this instance, was a Ukranian restaurant in the East Village that dabbled in pastrami sandwiches (although at $8.70 per, they couldn’t have been nearly as thick as the $16-and-up  tourist-chokers in midtown and elsewhere in town.) 

The second was one of the grand dames of things done to brisket in the name of attracting tourists — the great Carnegie Deli.

Somehow, a scheme I’ll call The Old Ukranian Gas Tap Caper led, through a process I don’t pretend to understand, to a huge and fatal explosion in a neighboring sushi restaurant. Sushi? Fat-free sushi? Blown up by gas from a brisket joint? The details are all a bit muddled, if you ask me. But suddenly city inspectors, or maybe the utility's inspectors, awoke after the Great Pastrami Disaster from a decades-old torpor and began inspecting. And soon after, the Carnegie Deli was caught at the same gas-tapping caper. 

Is this an alert 
for energy-explorers?

The city’s enforcers now seem to be conducting inspections following the maxim – energy explorers please note –that where there’s corned beef and pastrami, you’re likely to find gas. (Yes, damn it, pun intended.) To which I might add,  where there’s gas you'll also find greedy people pumping it at breakneck velocity.

On the other hand, finding gas in the wake of pastrami sandwiches would come as no surprise to my dead relatives.

Eat up.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Memo to the One Percent: You’re cordially invited to commit “legal” murder, if you first pay a fee. (Fee schedule follows.)

Why is this man smiling? Possibly
because he contributed enough to
his local Sheriff's election campaign
to ge away with what some consider 
So among the police brutality cases that won’t go away is a case of civilian brutality aided and abetted by the police.

It happened in the vicinity of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where we now have a case of sport-hunting a human being for money. A so-called “reserve deputy,” age 73, who had generously contributed to the sheriff’s office (and gave $2,500 to his election campaign) got to “ride along” with the deputies, armed with both a taser and a pistol. And when they came upon a man who turned and fled when these weapons-bristling “peace officers” saw him, guess what?

Right, Mr. Ridealong Casssidy, actually a 73-year-old insurance executive named Robert Charles Bates, in search of an adventurous payoff in return for all the financial support he gave his local sheriff, shot and killed the suspect.

“Whoops,” he in effect said, explaining that he thought the pistol was his taser and his taser was his pistol, “My bad.” Or something like that.

Of course the sheriff’s office went to the most impartial investigators they could find — themselves — and learned through meticulous self-investigation that they and their honored guest killer were totally absolved, and that it was all an innocent mistake.

As for what happened when the mortally wounded man complained, “I’m losing my breath,” and a (real) sheriff’s deputy on the scene replied, “Fuck your breath,” that’s a mere bagatelle. I mean hey, the wounded man would have died anyway.

One begins to wonder if the One Percent, bored with making their billions and buying elections, haven’t gone on to the next level and now have a sporting arrangement to kill civilians, paying a fee for the fun.

They wouldn’t publicize it, of course. But the word-of-mouth would almost certainly get around at the club. For those government entrepreneurs who want to make money serving up fun to billionaires, I recommend the following fee schedule:

The $2,5000 Local Yokel: Pay $2,500 to an approved local official or candidate for office and get to chase and shoot dead one person of color in a “bad” neighborhood. If chastised by some lefty member of the press, you may be initially charged with a crime, but guaranteed you will be excused. Your pal the sheriff will simply investigate the incident and say, “Aside from the fact that the dead man shoplifted a banana five years ago and therefore got what he had coming, it should be noted that my honored honorary deputy was merely participating in a hot pursuit. Besides, he thought he heard gunfire coming from the dead man's direction.”

The $500,000 fatal clubbing: Using a police baton or a hammer, you may may enjoy the thrill of clubbing to death, a handcuffed suspect — while he is in police custody. Severing the arrestee's spinal cord is optional. This is a socially useful activity that relieves police officers of the onerous and tiresome duty of killing already-captured and manacled suspects by themselves.

The $10,000,000 Sheldon Adelson Decapitation Special: Why should ISIS executioners have all the fun? Contribute a Sheldon Adelson-size ten million bucks to any senatorial, congressional, gubernatorial, or presidential campaign and you too can get to take a knife and saw off the head of a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit. Whether you wear a mask or not is optional. However, you may want to remain masked to keep the kids or grandkids attending progressive lefty schools from asking embarrassing questions. It takes a while before they get to understand that your wealth entitles you to this kind of fun. You might want to treat them to participate in a decapitation for their 21st birthdays.

The $889,000,000 Koch Brothers mass murder deluxe:  Make a near-billion-dollar political campaign contribution, matching what the Koch Brothers will spend to defeat Democrats in 2016, and the sky’s the limit. If you’d like, we’ll line up 100 people against a wall, hand you an AR-15, and let you mow them all down. There’s actually a choice of weapons. People with a taste for classic weapons may prefer a Browning .30 caliber, tripod-mounted machine gun. Or you can use a bazooka. (Limit: one shell per firing squad victim.) For a slight extra fee of, say, $30,000,000, we’ll even put you in an Air Force plane and let you nuke the entire population of a small Pacific atoll. Then go home or to the club and tell all your friends, “My boom was bigger.”

Now I can almost hear some of the non-one-percent tut-tutting me and telling me not to publish this post because it’ll give people ideas. Hey, I’ve got news for you. The idea has already been conceived and field-tested in Oklahoma. And if it occurred to me, even in jest, that this is the kind of atrocity that can be scaled up, I’m sure somebody else is thinking about that one, too. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, even before this was posted, somebody had submitted a business plan. Maybe even to the Koch Brothers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In another 20 years, will the kid who did this be a Democrat or a Republican?

Ah Spring! The time when flowers and politicians bloom.

Above: warning signs created by a kid, found on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. What party will this kid join a few more years down the road? Where do his or her sympathies lie? What can the picture tell us about where the kid will go politically?

Here are some possibilities to consider:

Democrat: Wants to preserve the beauty of nature.

Republican: Wants to control others, including animals and the people who own them. Probably wants to control your uterus, too, if you have one.

Tea Party: Can't spell worth a damn. And also wants to control everything and everybody in the name of liberty.

Koch Brothers: The advertising overwhelms and obscures what we're supposed to appreciate, the tree and the flowers that the advertising pretends to be protecting. But don't worry. They're going to throw a billion dollars at it and carve their names in the trunk.

Elizabeth Warren : If everybody sends just $2, we can build an aesthetic fence around the tree, protect the flowers, and take down the ugly messaging."

Anarchist: "Here, Rover. Make in this flower box."

Republican strategist: "Hillary Clinton was in the Senate and then Secretary of State for years and did nothing – nothing! – to protect those flowers. It was left to overwhelmed children to put up an inadequate defense that led to tulips shedding their petals. And also, Benghazi."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The deliciously bloody live dissection of Dick Morris

It says on this blog, right over there in the right-hand column, that Stonekettle Station is “for my nickel, the best-written long form political blog on the planet.”

But now Jim Wright, the grand master who writes Stonekettle, has outdone himself. He has taken Dick Morris, the Republican strategist, and subjected him, point-by-point, organ-by-organ, to the cruelest, meanest, bloodiest, most sadistic and most enjoyably delightful  public dissection since 1601, when Guy Fawkes was drawn and quartered.

For good measure, Wright has chopped off the fingers of the usual Republican suspects – a gaggle of failed and present Republican candidates from Sarah Palin to Ted Cruz – and thrown their filthy severed digits into Morris’s open wounds.

It’s the kind of spectacle for which people used to fight to get front row seats at the gibbet. It’s the kind that, if they did it on Broadway, scalpers would be getting $2,000 for mere balcony tickets. The kind that, if you’re a certain kind of person, you want to bring your knitting to while you watch the deservedly guilty writhe in agony as they die. Or if not your knitting, at least a giant bag of popcorn and maybe some jujubes. 

So click your butt over to Stonekettle Station now and relish the spectacle. If it’s still Saturday while you’re reading this, I can promise you you’ll feel great for the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hi, I’m not stupid, but I play it that way on TV to attract Republican voters

So now we have Rand Paul seeking the Republican nomination for President. His stated interest in disengaging the United States from armed conflict certainly has its appeal. As does his interest in ending NSA spying on Americans. If he means it.

Unfortunately he also comes with a truckload of ideas that just sound a little too dumb, or too naive, or too off-the-wall nutty to come from somebody who presumably had the smarts to get into and through medical school.

Some of the deep down insanity of the thinking he purports to believe in bubbled up from the snake pit recently. It happened in Rand Paul's put-down of an attempt by Senator Bernie Sanders to spend more to prevent  starving senior citizens from continuing to starve. 

Take a few mind-boggling minutes to watch Paul's presumbly clueless back-and-forths with Senators Sanders and Franken, then resume reading below.

Sanders had spoken of the Federal “budget consequences” of letting seniors starve during a meeting of the Senate’s subcommittee on primary health on aging, which he chairs. It’s not hard to see what those consequences are. And Sanders pointed them out. Those starving seniors, deteriorate faster than the would if they were reasonably well-fed. Consequently they end up in emergency rooms and nursing homes at public expense, instead of remaining in their own homes.

That’s not a terribly difficult concept to grasp, but Rand Paul either can’t grasp it, or more likely pretends he can’t grasp it.

“It’s curious,” said Paul, “That only in Washington can you spend $2 billion and claim you’re saving money.”

Right. He can't seem to understand that a $2 billion cork can prevent a $50 billion hole in the dike that will drown half the country.

Well, let’s move the decimal point over a few places and apply this theory to you, Senator Paul. You practice ophthalmology. Do you have a Yttrium aluminium garnet laser to correct posterior capsular opacification? Well, that set you (or somebody) back roughly $140,000.

 Do you have a Tonometer? That set you back about two grand. And those are among the hundreds of instruments and precise lenses and other doodads an ophthalmologist needs to practice. Think of all the money you could save, Dr. Paul, if you didn’t buy all that crap. You could just pry peoples’ eyelids open and remove their cataracts through mental telepathy. Or perform Lasik surgery by staring into their eyes. Or prescribe prescription lenses through intuition.

And that’s just as dumb (or insane) a concept as saving money by letting seniors starve.  Or in thinking, as you stated, that “the nobility of private charity” will somehow do the trick. 

Meanwhile, Paul is out begging his supporters for the money they themselves have saved. He wants their money to help get him into office. 

And oh what plans he has for when he's in the Oval Office. He's going to destroy the "Washington machine special interests," for example. He doesn't say which interests. 

However, you can be pretty sure he's not talking about the special interests that keep eliminating taxes on the rich, who can well afford to pay a few extra bucks, while whacking the rest of us. Maybe there will be a starvation tax, for the privileges of going hungry. 

And he's going to "stop the damage we've seen President Obama and his pals inflict on our country," his fund-raising letter tells me. What damage could that possibly be. Oh, I see –  the damage that's caused when you can't be denied medical insurance because you have a "prior condition." Or that makes sure you get medical insurance in the first place. 

Ran Paul's letter to me also tells me he wants a "money bomb." What he's not revealing is that the only thing his program will actually bomb is the American economy.

Of course, you gotta know that Senator Paul already knows he’s talking nonsense most of the time. And that he’s merely saying what he says because he thinks you’re a rube.

But you're a rube only if you let him get away with it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Should lying prosecutors and cops who get innocent people executed themselves be subject to capital punishment?

What if he's innocent?  Currently, often nothing
happens to prosecutors who withhold or falsify
evidence that leadsto an unjust execution. Read
about a way to stop that.
Below, a modest proposal that I submit belongs on the books of every state as well as the Federal law books:
Any prosecutor or officer of the law who withholds, fabricates, conceals, or suborns through perjured testimony, or in any other way taints or conceals evidence that leads to the conviction of a defendant for a crime that the defendant is  later shown shown not to have committed, shall suffer precisely the same punishment that the defendant suffered. If the innocent defendant endured prison time, the law officer or prosecutor shall spend an equal amount of time in prison. If the defendant was executed, the law officer or prosecutor shall be executed in the same manner. Any attempt after trial by any such prosecutor or law officer to conceal or withhold exculpatory evidence shall likewise cause the prosecutor or law officer to suffer the fate of the defendant. 
Why do we need this? 

• Because over four percent of criminal defendants who are later shown to be innocent have been sentenced  to the death chamber, spending years or even decades in the nightmarish limbo of death row before they are vindicated.

• Because, although cases of people already executed are rarely investigated, there are cases on record where innocent men have been executed. Like this one.

• Because just as certainly, innocent people convicted of non-capital crimes spend years in prison and have their lives and the lives of their families ruined by over-ambitious prosecutors and law enforcement officers who have replaced their consciences with lies, coverups, tainted witnesses, and withheld evidence in an attempt to with at all costs – even at the cost of justice.

• Because someone enduring the horror of death row is exonerated an average of every three months, and we’ll never know how many more innocent people have endured long prison sentences or have been horribly executed.

• Because nothing would stop the crime of withholding or fabricating evidence by ambitious psychopath prosecutors and cops more quickly than the forced empathy of seeing their own lives in the balance.

Hang, gas, inject, shoot, or electrocute those lying prosecutors and cops. Try them, convict them, and and execute them, one and all.

Fringe benefit: A law like this might put an end to capital punishment a lot faster than simply taking laws allowing capital punishment off the books.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

A message concerning climate change – especially for those who like to eat something once in a while

I picked up a bag of raw shelled almonds at my local supermarket today. They wanted $9 for eight tenths of a pound. I remember when people blanched at paying that much for sirloin steak. 

All of which brings me to the point of today’s blog entry.

Think he's shafted? What 'till you find
out what climate change will to do you.
And please note that I’m addressing you climate deniers who can’t get it through your thick skulls that the weather isn’t merely a matter of opinion, and that polar bears aren’t the only ones up the creek without an ice floe.

You may have noticed frequent news reports about an historic drought in California, with the state imposing water rationing  while various parties, including, alas, some of my progressive friends, are grumbling that farmers who use 80 percent of the water aren’t getting rationed at all. Or at least not enough.

But wait a second. Just wait a damn second. California is America’s fruit and vegetable basket. According to a California state government report, the state two years ago was producing $5.6 billion worth of grapes, $1.7 billion worth of lettuce, $1.2 billion worth of tomatoes,$2.2 billion of strawberries and $5.8 billion of almonds.

If all that productivity dries up – and it already is drying up – you may be paying nine bucks per nut, and shaving it like a truffle. You won’t be able to afford a salad. Or a tomato. Or an orange.  Or a grape. Or a bottle of California wine. 

What’s that you say? Let them drink milk? Shucks, Mr. Denier. California produces $7.6 billion worth of milk, or was producing that much. And when people from California have to buy milk from out of state instead of shipping lots of it out of state, guess what happens to the price of milk all over America?

“Hey Joe, set ‘em up. A shot glass of milk with a beef broth chaser.”

No, wait a second. Forget the beef broth. Cattle are a $3.05 billion industry in California, too. And when the grass dries up and burns up….well of course you can get your beef cattle from Wyoming. But here comes your favorite law: supply and demand. Guess what you’re going to be paying for steak? Or beef broth.

It has already come to the point where a standing rib roast costs more than the first car I ever bought. Yes, I admit it was a used car and it was a very long time ago. But even so.

Climate change isn’t just changing the climate. And it isn’t just going to starve the polar bears. It’s going to starve you too, starting from the inside of your wallet and your bank account and then straight to your fat head, you knuckle-brained, climate change-denying, psychopathic nincompoop.

Quarter the production and quadruple the prices, a billion bucks worth here, a billion bucks worth there – and pretty soon you’re talking food riots in the street and bloodshed over a bunch of shriveled grapes.

Well of course, you’ll also be armed. Gun rights and self defense and all that. Good thing, too. Because if the climate change you’re denying, and the food shortage that goes along with it, keeps on going along, your gun will be the only thing you’ll have left to eat.


Oh, and P.S.:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Indiana politics, Mike Pence, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and the fine Republican art of the Texas Side-step

Why is it they seem to grow their politicians tall, fair-haired, and a trifle dimwitted in Indiana? 

First there was Dan Quayle, who declared himself and his grumpy-looking wife “The New Kennedys” – a narcissistic conceit squelched handily by Lloyd Benson in the 1988 vice-presidential election debates.  

If you haven’t seen this in a while, it’s worth the three minutes and 38 seconds it takes to watch Quayle, stalling and vamping as he tries to think of an answer to Tom Brokaw's simple question, and then comparing himself to John F. Kennedy. He gets sliced, diced and barbecued with no tool sharper than Benson's tongue.

Now we have Governor Mike Pence who played to the Tea Party mob by encouraging a law that would have allowed restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, flower shops, and virtually any other business to refuse service to selected members of the public, ostensibly on religious beliefs.

Or so Pence said.

The initial target was gay couples, but you can always find some biblical passage that can extend the shunning to Afro-Americans, Jews, Catholics if you’re Protestant, or Protestant if you're Catholic, people with physical disabilities, people with developmental difficulties or some other perceived “mark of the beast” – heck the possibilities are limitless.

The problem for Pence is, the wave of backlash has turned into a tsunami that threatens to engulf the state of Indiana and drown its businesses in a boycott. So now Pence is trying to take it back while at the same time not taking it back.

He seems to keep saying, while at the same time denying that he’s saying – hold on real tight and bite your lip so that the words don’t tangle your neurons on fish hooks – that the law doesn’t permit discrimination just because it allows businesses to discriminate. Now he’s calling for a revision to the law that won’t say it allows discrimination, at the same time it does say it.

Yeah, I know. My brow wrinkled at that one, too.

Which brings me to a Broadway show and later a movie called “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” based on a true story and real political and demimonde characters, which featured Charles Durning as a politician glibly accustomed to speaking out of both sides of his mouth. There’s a song for that, and here’s how it goes:

The only difference is, Durning's character is a lot more clever than Mike Pence.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Need a good tactic to attract thinking people but still win over the yahoos? Introducing the “Designated Imbecile” vote-catcher

"6 munths ago I culdn't even spel 
'Imbecile' and today I are one!"
Oh thank you, Steve M of “No More Mister Nice Blog.” 

I just went through some of your last two days’ offerings and there it was – an occult inspiration that I am now officially stealing to make un-occult. I do this in the hope it will shower me with glory and praise from the center and left, and no doubt also scorn and opprobrium from those on the extreme right – the ones hanging over a rational cliff by their fingernails.

In a piece entitled “Foreign Policy Made E-Z, the way Heartland America Likes It,” Steve chronicled some truly idiotic statements recently made to radio broadcaster Hugh Hewitt by wannabe Republican candidate for President Scott Walker. These were seized upon with deserved glee by Joan Walsh of Salon.

Republican balloon gets 
pricked, stabbed and busted

Next, Steve swung around his own battery of howitzers and blasted some of the stupidest remarks made by Walker and others on the addled right.

You can follow the two links above and treat yourself to many minutes of delightful reading, chock-a-block full of chuckles. I won’t repeat it all here, but I do need to summarize some of the points in order to get around to my Designated Imbecile idea.

Scott Walker, the foreign policy genius (yes yes, I do indeed toss around that phrase lightly) complained about the middle eastern situation, vis a vis  Israel, Iran and the U.S.

It was like the old movie Trading Places, said Walker, and (sorry, I gotta quote), “In the eyes of this president, our ally is supposed to be Israel. Our adversary has been historically Iran. Our ally is supposed to be Israel. And yet this administration completely does it the other way around….”

Umm, Scott? Iran was our ally too, under the Shah (and for a while it was also Israel’s principal petroleum supplier) until the Ayatollahs and the so called Revolutionary Guard put the kibosh on the way things were.)  We once even gave the Shah a ticker tape parade down Broadway.

And as Steve’s blog points out, it’s hard to tell from Walker’s penetrating analysis which country is Dan Ackroyd and which is Eddie Murphy. Maybe we could switch Scott over to Abbott and Costello. I think Who's On First? is the analogy Walker's grasping for.

Send Wisconsin’s treasurer
off to the Syrian desert?

Also worth jeering at: Walker’s claim that he’d be ready to fight ISIS because he creamed Wisconsin’s state employee unions. Right Scott, it’s exactly the same thing. If ISIS goes on TV and shows some disgusting thug holding a knife to an innocent man’s throat, you can call them up  (if you can find the ISIS switchboard's phone number) and say, “That’s it, buster. Drop the knife or I’ll cut the pension benefits you already earned and shaft you on health insurance while I’m at it.”

There was also Ronald Reagan, already in office, who had a handy answer back in 1984 when a suicide bomber blew up an American embassy in Lebanon and it turned out that security improvements for the embassy hadn’t gotten off the drawing board under the Reagan administration.

“Anyone that’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.”

And with that impressively stupid statement, Reagan won re-election five weeks later.

Stupid pays as stupid is.
Or something.

 Clearly, when you want to be president, it pays to talk stupid – at least when you’re a Republican. But isn’t there some way Democrats could win over the Stupid Vote without offending people who still pay attention to the news (real news, not Fox News), and still analyze events more or less rationally, and still vote?

Folks, I think I have the answer.

The Designated Imbecile.

The Republican Party has never needed to designate imbeciles. They abound in Republican ranks. Think Sarah Palin. Think Michele Bachmann. Think Governor Rick “Whoops!” Perry of Texas. Think of Senator Rafael Eduardo ("Ted") Cruz's stirring reading of Green Eggs and Ham on the floor of the U.S. Senate. For that matter, think Scott Walker. 

The problem is, these imbeciles are permitted to run for president, governor, Congress, the Senate, what-have-you, scaring the last living handful of intelligent Republicans away from the voting booths, or sometimes even into the waiting arms of Democrats.

So I’m suggesting  that we Democrats designate a permanent non-candidate as our official imbecile. This person would follow the legitimate Democratic candidates around from stump speech to stump speech. The candidate’s  words would provide rational ideas, logical programs and inspiration.  This would attract most of the bright Americans to vote for him. Or more probably, her. 

Talking stupid for
fun and votes

Meanwhile, after each speech, the Designated Imbecile would stand up and talk stupid on his party’s behalf. Like a small community’s village idiot, he’d be well-enough known so that brighter folks would be kindly to him, but everybody would nevertheless gather around to listen. 

The  Designated Imbecile would give the same fools who vote for candidates who would destroy Obamacare, and now Medicare, a reason they could understand to change their minds. For example, “Have you noticed that Muslim nations don’t have Obamacare? Do you want to be like them? Don't eliminate Obamacare or next thing you know, we’ll have Shariah law here.”

Well, it’s a thought, and a stupid one at that. But I insist it’s a defensible thought. If people won’t vote for you, give them a stupid reason to change their minds. Just make sure somebody else does the stupid talking – your own carefully curated Designated Imbecile – while you show up the Republicans by speaking intelligently.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Donald Trump throws his combover into the race for Republican Presidential nominee. Who’s next, I wonder?

Narcissistic puppet and former presidential Candidate Howdy Doody, 

Howdy Doody for President
He’s America’s choice
He will never be hesitant
To fight for the rights of girls and boys!

Above, a stanza from the campaign song of Howdy Doody.

He was a string puppet whose late afternoon television antics enthralled seven- eight- and nine-year-olds of my generation back in…well it was a very long time ago, a time  when television was so new that children and adults alike would stare for hours at anything that moved on a blurry 7-inch screen.

Suffice it to say that Howdy never made it to the White House. In fact, given that the coaxial cable had yet to be installed to make possible coast-to-coast television programming, and TV shows were yet to get videotaped, I don’t even know if Howdy’s show made it even as far as Pittsburgh. 

Howdy Doody had a human side kick ostensibly named Buffalo Bob Smith, and a coterie of other puppets and clowns with names like “Mr. X,” “Mister Bluster,” “Clarabel the Clown,” and “Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring.” Does that all sound vaguely like a collection of Republican presidential candidates to you? 

I’d be tempted to say you can’t make this stuff up, but obviously somebody did at NBC, back in the day.

I bring this up because of  the revelation that Donald Trump is “seriously” running for president. Or at least the Manchester, New Hampshire Union-Leader is taking it seriously. Their article states:
Combined with staff hires, Trump’s announcement that he will form an exploratory committee for the first time is a sign the billionaire is seriously considering running for the Republican nomination.
Somehow Trump’s name and the adjective “seriously” in the same sentence reek of more than a soup├žon of Eau d'Oxymoron. All the same, given the Republican predilection to seriously consider a huge assortment of clowns and corporate puppets as presidential candidates in recent years, I’ll take any Republican’s  announced candidacy  seriously. 

I mean, please remember that Sarah Palin was once the actual, gen-u-ine Republican Vice-Presidential nominee. How did that work out for ya, Republicans? And Mitt Romeny last time around was seriously the presidential candidate. And among the many people who climbed out of the Republican clown car wearing baggy polkadot pants, bulbous red noses and giant shoes  were Rick Perry and Herman Caine. 

So this year we already have Fat Chris Christie, whose lap band surgery doesn’t seem to have helped much. And Scott Walker, whose backstabbing of his own constituency of Wisconsin working folks has made him the Mister X of a new generation.  And Carly Fiorina, who has a rare talent for swamping  huge corporate enterprises. (Imagine what she could achieve with the U.S. Government.) And Jeb Bush, whose administration as Florida’s governor seems to have been ethically, umm, challenged, not to mention his quirky support of “faith based prisons.”

And also not to mention, as a writer for the Florida Sun-Sentinal put it, that…
… while his tenure coincided with a sizzling economy and an overflowing treasury, Bush's back-to-back terms were marred by frequent ethics scandals, official bungling and the inability of the government he downsized to meet growing demands for state services, including education and aid for the infirm and the elderly.
And now we have The Donald? 

Oh boy, maybe we Dems can win with Hillary and all her flaws after all.

A final thought. Can you imagine going abroad and saying to incredulous foreigners, "This is my president?"