Monday, July 30, 2012

Let's Hear It For Mitt's Rainbow Tour

Eva in Paris
Well, looks like Ol’ Mittens has embarked on his own version of the Rainbow Tour. Now, just to be straight with you all (pun intended) we’re not talking about the more recent use of the word rainbow, but rather the ill-fated Rainbow Tour undertaken by my all-time favorite despot, Eva Peron, in 1947. Seems like Mitt Romney was about as well received on his tour as La Reina de Los Descamisados was on hers, although he wasn’t spattered with tomatoes. Shoulda been, though.

This is a guy who was head of the Olympics in Salt Lake City. He knows the challenges London faces better than almost anyone else. You’d think a guy who wants to be POTUS would understand the fine art of diplomacy when making a social call. But noooooo. He decides to be blunt on the TODAY show:

"You know, it's hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials … that obviously is not something which is encouraging."

Is this man a moron?  Or did he just not get that the interview would be seen in the UK?  Yes, there were issues and problems, but house guests don’t publically humiliate hosts if they want to be asked back...especially to Buckingham Palace. Frankly, I thought  PM David Cameron’s comeback was spot on:

"We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course, it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."

And as if that were not enough humiliation for one trip, Mitten’s crack advance team in Israel planned a major fundraiser/luncheon on Tish B’Av, a fast day commemorating the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem around 587 B.C.E., and the Second Temple in 70 C.E. I hear it took 'em a while to figure out why they got so many “no” responses.

Mitt at the Kotel. 
The candidate was also scheduled to pay a social call on the Kotel (the remaining Western Wall of the Temple Mount) on Tisha B’Av, thereby throwing a wrench into what is one of the most important days to actually show up at the wall. Thousands of people pay social calls at the Kotel on Tisha’b’Av. Kinda like paying a social call over at the WTC in New York on any given September 11th. It’s kinda what you do if you live in the neighborhood.

The sentiments mouthed were sounded pretty good unless you actually listened to them. Dan Senor, one of his less than stellar aides, clarified Mitt’s comments saying,

"If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision."

Respect? What the hell does that mean? That the US is gonna stand by when Israel bombs Iran? Or, did he mean Mittens as POTUS is going to drag the US into a potential nuclear pissing contest in the Middle East? I’m not sure what he meant, but somehow I cannot see Congress standing behind any of this. Does no one on this man’s team ever look down the road? Can you spell n-u-c-l-e-a-r  p-r-o-l-i-f-e-r-a-t-i-o-n, boys and girls?

Excuse me for not jumping for joy here, but Romney et al are pretty much part of the apocalyptic gang. You know…the kind that believe there’s gonna be a Rapture….and for that to happen, you know what has to happen first? Armageddon. And you know where that is supposed to happen……Meggido. And you know, of course, where that is. Of course these people want Israel to exist. They can’t have their prophesies if it doesn’t. In other words, Israel becomes their sacrificial lamb. They do not have the best interests of the State of Israel at heart. 

And speaking of Israel as sacrificial lamb, did anyone besides me notice what happened at Olympic judo practice on Friday?

IOC Mechitza
It seems that both the Israeli and the Lebanese judo teams were slated for practice at the same time in same venue. When the Lebanese team saw the Israeli team working out, they refused to begin practice until a wall was constructed to separate the two teams. They shouldn't look on each other. The Lebanese wanted a mechitza and the IOC went along with it.


A brief recap: The IOC refuses to allow a moment of silence to mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre. Th IOC permits the Iranians to remove of member of the team because he is "ill" at precisely the same moment they figured out he will be competing against an Israeli. The IOC sanctions building a ghetto wall around the Israeli judo team.


How is this okay? How is this sportsmanship? How was that request not racist and apartheid? Instead of sending Greek triple jumper home for a moronic re-tweet, how about sending the Lebanese team home for blatant racism and antisemitism? IOC President Jacques Rogge, told us everything we need to know about him and his committee when, at the opening ceremonies, he said, “Character counts far more than medals.”  


Where was Mitt Romney's  bluntness for that one?


Oh, wait. We're talking about real, live Jews here, not the prophetic kind. Then I guess silence is okay. 


Forget I said anything.


[Not.]


Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Not everyone believes the same thing or the same way and that's okay.





Monday, July 23, 2012

The Second Amendment ~ Stuff You Might Not Know

Did you know there are two versions of the second amendment?

This is the version that was passed by the Congress:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

And this is the one that was ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

A real "eats shoots and leaves" moment, eh? Well, it’s worse than just bad punctuation.

As conceded by the Supreme Court, there is a direct link between the Second Amendment and the English Bill of Rights of 1689, which protects the rights of Protestants from disarmament by the Crown. Their text reads as follows: 
"That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law."

Charleville American Revolutionary War Musket
Lacking the phrase, “as allowed by law,” our version seems to circumvent the ability of Congress (or anyone else for that matter) to make a determination about what the law permits...and by extension, makes the passage of any law restricting guns a matter of constitutionality. So, there is actually no law that can be made (according to the NRA) that can limit the ownership of any gun. 

In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), SCOTUS ruled that it was absolutely okay to own a gun unconnected to a militia, and said gun could be used for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. It was the first SCOTUS ruling that considered the Second Amendment to be protecting an individual right.

Since day one, however, there has been debate over the intent of the Amendment, and whether or not firearm type was limited to the scope of a militia. SCOTUS has never defined the meaning of the word arms, and subsequently any attempt to limit the type of firearms permitted has become a constitutional debate.

What has been omitted from the debate is common sense.

Lots of people have permits for and legally own handguns. Some people feel safer having one in the house, and they are supposed to be trained in the use and storage of such a weapon. One does not leave one’s Glock lying about on the kitchen table for the kids to play with or take to school for show and tell.

Hunting guns are supposed to be used for sport and when not in use, I do believe they are supposed to be kept in locked storage. And lots of people participate in other marksmen-type events like skeet, decathlon and pentathlon safely and without incident.

But show me where in this country one needs to own a couple of Uzis, AK-47s, and a few customized M-16s thrown in for good measure? Does one need to ever stock thousands of rounds of armor piercing ammo for afore mentioned weapons?

National Priorities       © 2012, Steven G. Artley, ARTLEY CARTOONS 
It’s time to give up our delusions of frontierness; them days are long gone. Even in our most rural communities, there is not a single reason on the planet for ANYONE in the United States to own an assault rifle. Guns and ammo are not the same as laundry detergent and a 12-pack of toilet paper. You cannot point an empty cardboard spindle at someone and shoot them with Charmin'. We put warning labels on everything, but we still let people walk out of gun swap meets without so much as a name verification. How does New York City ban giant sodas and too much salt in your fries....but cannot stop assault weapon ownership?

I am not suggesting all guns be banned….although I wouldn’t exactly be opposed to that idea….but it’s time to stand up to groups like the NRA and demand common sense be allowed back into the conversation. The gun lobby isn’t about hobbyists or hunters or urban dwellers who feel safe with a gun in the flat. That lobby is ultimately about greed, arms dealing, and a willingness to bear hatred toward segments of our population.

It’s time to stop being afraid of the NRA. They are just a group of people who seem to think it’s more important to let anyone own weapons, and by extension, allow a crazy person who owns some of these to shoot up a movie theatre…..or a school…..or a community center….or a Long Island Railroad car…… The list just goes on and on.

We have a big election coming up. Maybe now is the time to demand common sense be restored to the gun debate. There are more of us who want to see assault weapons banned than want to see them protected. We, The People, are the only ones who can demand a halt to the insanity of insufficient gun control.

Wifely Person Tip o'the Week
Unless you're going to eat it, don't hunt it. 


Monday, July 16, 2012

Great American Pastimes: Baseball and Politics ..................in no particular order


Justin Morneau at bat

Nothing beats an afternoon spent at a baseball game. It was hot, humid, and a terrible game, but there is something wonderful about sitting in a stands and watching a game in person. Seeing Mauer play first was a real treat. And just watching Justin Morneau swing is poetry in motion. As for the string of pitchers...I've seen better pitching at a t-ball game. The Twins flamed out in the first inning...which went on ad nauseum....and despite a couple of runs and a few truly excellent plays in the outfield, the game was a humiliating loss.  By the seventh inning it was too painful to watch, and I must admit, we left. I've never done that before, but truly, it was horrifying to watch Oakland hit homer after homer. Not even Joe Mauer  playing first could save this game. 'Nuff said.

And meanwhile, back at the ranch, equally horrifying are the new reports coming out of Washington these days. Between the demand for tax returns and Mitt Romney's insisting he can repeal Afford Health Care Act on his first day as president, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that Mitt Romney is delusional and should be repealed himself. While I will agree that the DNC is blowing smoke about how involved Mr. Romney was with Bain Capital from 1999 until 2002, one cannot dismiss his refusal to open his tax records to the American public. 

Since the debate over taxes is so lethal at the moment, I cannot imagine why the GOP hasn't allowed fully disclosure of Mr. Romney's income and payment of taxes (if any) unless there is a reason to hide that information. The appearance of off-shore banking transactions and Swiss bank accounts certainly make for interesting speculation. If I were a Republican National Committee member, I would be insisting that the candidate clear this up immediately. If there is no financial hanky-panky going on, why all the secrecy? As far as I am concerned, this is right up there with birth certificates. 

And while we're talking about acts of high stupid, let's not forget to mention the Chinese Olympic uniforms. Hmmmm. Let's think this one out for a moment:
notice the white anklets
  • Top American designer with iconic American image gets job of designing uniforms.
  • Said American designer known for iconic American western wear produces a uniform that looks like something they wear at the Henley Regatta with a Sorbonne beret as a topper.
  • Said American designer knowing outsourcing is a huge iconic American issue, outsources the construction of said uniforms to China.
This brings stupid to a whole new level of American malfeasance. How can a company that runs ads extolling the whole rugged American image thing manage to screw up the Olympic uniforms. Not only are these uniforms ugly, the anklets on the woman athlete make her look like an elementary school kid. Haven't we had enough of pedophilia in sports these days? Oh, overall the uniforms are neat and tidy, but come on, Ralph; does this really give the world a hint, even a mere soupçon of Americana?

He might have gotten away with it....had it not been for the "Made in China" label. That sent the whole thing over the top. In an election year when everything is examined and re-examined; when jobs are disappearing faster than doughnuts at the precinct house, surely someone said, "Maybe we should make the uniforms in America?"

Whether they did or not is a moot point now. They were outsourced and this is the very reason we should be saying to guys like Romney and the President as well: "Put up or shut up. Make sure We, the People, have the choice to buy American."

Yes, I fully understand the importance of labor costs and manufacturing, but I also know that a wide swath of this American population blue collar workers who need manufacturing jobs, too. That our textile industry has almost completely disappeared is not a good thing, and like the auto industry, perhaps some attention should be paid to its restoration. Just look at what happened at Faribault Woolen  Mills. Founded in 1865, the mill closed its doors in 2009, but just as its equipment was about to be sold overseas, Chuck and Paul Mooty said, "We can fix this," and they did. There are other plants out there waiting to be rescued and revived. It can be done. 

Jobs don't trickle down from hedge fund managers making a zillion dollars and getting tax breaks. Jobs happen because guys like the Mooty brothers step up to the line and put their money where their mouths are. We, the People, just need to demand that this is a priority. 

Someone oughta explain that to the GOP.

The Wifely Person's Tip O'the Week
Going to a Twinkie game? Take the light rail if you can.
It's smart, easy, cheap....and fun.



Monday, July 9, 2012

Confluence

Well, folks, this is one of those confluence-of-events weeks. Not only do I have two mile-markers this week, there has also occurred a potentially life-altering event which I have been loath to mention until now. Needless to say, I am a person in flux and at this advanced age, it’s scary and exhilarating all at the same time. My father, who has been known to say the most shattering things with a completely straight face, simply said, “Most people change their lives at 40. Why did you wait so long?”

This week is blog #104, which means this my second anniversary in the blogosphere. Last year, I posted about what I'd learned in that first year...which was mostly how much fun it was to make my kids roll their eyes at me. Granted this is an amusing avocation, but not one upon which I can concentrate.  Knowing I have a diverse readership, I've tried to be blunt and forthright about my opinions, and as a result I've gotten some great comments, great emails, and, here and there, a couple of "you and the horse your rode in on" missives. Only one death wish to date, so I guess I'm doing okay. If I'm not doing okay, please feel free to tell me that, too.


So I suppose I should mention the potentially life-altering event. A whole lotta years ago, shortly before the personal computer dominated our lives, Steve gave me an IBM Selectric typewriter for my birthday. This was a great grand thing that had its home in the Stanford Avenue kitchen where I sat on a stool and wrote children's plays...and then  a first novel. Let me tell you, there's no way I would ever go back to a typewriter, but at the time, that little silver ball bouncing around was the greatest invention on the planet. And it was on that typewriter than I drafted my first novel. Eventually I graduated to a Mac and writing just exploded. And somewhere in there, between the plays and at the freelance stuff, I wrote one that looked like it might go the distance.  And so it has. Yotzeret Publishing has accepted DREAM DANCER for its 2014 list. The contracts are signed and I am in the process of prepping the first "hard copy" for the publisher. Then the real fun begins. I'll even have a real editor to bang this around. I am so excited I can barely sit still!  But as amazing as this is, the one person with whom it should be shared isn't here to jump up and down with me.

Nor is he here to remind me that on Wednesday I will move into my next decade. And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

On the political front, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on Mr. Romney's lack of tax returns. 

Is this guy for real? Mittens is beginning to look and sound more like the Manchurian candidate every day. How can you run for public office in this country without releasing your tax forms? This is like waving a red flag in front of a media frenzied bull. Your taxes are, by extension, a matter of public record. If Mr. Romney was on the up and up, wouldn't he publishing his returns in every available media outlet? And if it was President Obama withholding his returns, the whole GOP would be accusing him of unspeakable acts of criminal intent! 

And speaking of unspeakable acts of criminal intent... how about the re-emergence of Michele "If I Only Had A Brain" Bachmann? Not content with calling SCOTUS "schizophrenic," she's now sending out letters urging the states not to accept any funding for existing health care programs...insuring that the uninsured will be even less insured than they already are. Seems she thinks she's on the short list for VEEP. That place belongs to Tim  "Watch Me Ruin A Perfectly Good State" Pawlenty. 

As I am aging rapidly, I find my bull-o-meter going off the scale at the ads I'm seeing on the idiot box. And idiot box is most applicable here because you have to be an idiot if you watch this crap. I'm sure elections have always been down and dirty, but I think things are exacerbated by the 60 nanosecond news-cycle and information overload. The safest thing is not to believe anything you see or hear...because the super-pacs are not content with polluting the broadcast frequencies; they are really after you mind. Best to prepare ourselves by removing the queen of diamonds from all packs of playing cards. 

And if this is not already enough, half the newspapers put the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes divorce above to the fold. Don't we have more important issues on which to be focused? I'm just sayin'................


The Wifely Person Tip O'the Week

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Winston Churchill











Monday, July 2, 2012

Presto! Change-o! It's a Rogue!


Presto!

Well, it's like this: the Cruiser's getting old. It'll hit 12 this year, and even though it only has 54,962 measly miles, the signs of aging were starting to show and the decision was made that a new car might be a good idea, and that new car should be <gasp!> an automatic transmission. 

I have never owned an automatic, but a certain senior son was never able to master the whole shift thing, and since his dad and I were driving sticks, there was no car for him to drive when he came in to town without his own car. My father-in-law was the one who pointed out that one day he would be here for an emergency and he would need to have wheels. I couldn't exactly disagree, so I started the arduous process of car shopping. 

Everyone I know was polled on this topic. There were all sorts of suggestions, although my favorite had to be from JB who suggested I go with my heart: a car I could maintain all by mechanical self...in other words, a 1968 Volvo 144 with dual carbs and a choke. Definitely my kinda car...but alas, a stick...as if I could even find one! So after much research, I narrowed it down to four: Toyota's Prius and Rav 4, Honda's CR-V, and the Nissan Rogue. 

Driving the Prius could only be described as driving the foiled wrapper that comes around a cupcake: shiny....and flimsy. I didn't like how it handled and I hated the ride. It went off the list. And even though the Rav 4 started out as theoretical leader of the pack, it, too, quickly fell by the wayside. Gone was the nifty little Rav4 my friends drove, replaced by this cumbersome thing with a carbuncle on the back end. It's just clumsy looking, and clumsy feeling behind the wheel. I was so disappointed. 

The Rogue was next. It felt substantial but agile; acceleration with continually variable gear ratio was smooth and the acceleration sound seemed not to be unduly stressing the engine. Having only driven a stick, engine sound is a big clue for me. Being really short, I wanted a back-up camera and this one was very easy to see. And boy, was it smooth. The sales dude was very laid back, very easy going, and very patient with all my questions. He was definitely not in my face and I was okay with that.

I was just about ready to dismiss the CR-V....but decided to drive it anyway. Turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The rear camera, however, wasn't in the best place for a short person and I had some concerns about the thickness of panels containing the side air bags; they were distractingly large. But the size and the handling were about right and I was second guessing the Rogue. The Honda sales dude was about my age, he was like hale-fellow-well-met and never shut up which was a bit problematic, not to mention annoying, for the engine queen here. He was nice enough but totally in my face...and not in a good way. Still....the car was definitely worth considering.

The Rogue and the CR-V were about the same for price and mileage per gallon. Each one had positives as well as drawbacks, so I hatched a plan.  On Friday, I visited both dealerships and said, "I'm half way between the Rogue and a CR-V. Pitch your best offer and convince me to buy your car."

Rob  White, the Nissan dude, was thorough. Period. When we got back from the test drive, the used car dude took my car for a test drive. The offer he then made on the Cruiser was right where I'd hoped it would be. Since the color combination I wanted was not immediately available, they were willing to deal. The final number (with tax and license) was right in range of my target price. I never once felt like I was being hustled. This was an excellent thing. 

I wish I could’ve said the same about Honda. They lowballed the Cruiser, offering me far less than what it was worth, and there was no negotiation, no incentives, no nuthin' on the price. Despite the Honda dude's saying he wanted to be aggressive about getting my business, he was not. And I got the impression he wasn't trying that hard, either. 

Back at home, I reviewed the two offers with the F-I-L; he listened as I ran down the pros and cons. Finally, he asked, “Which one do you want?”  

The choice was pretty easy.

Chang-o!
This afternoon, I went go over to Luther Nissan Kia in Inver Grove Heights where my Platinum Grey Rogue with black leather interior, sunroof, back-up cam, navigation system, and assorted really cool bells and whistles was all spiffed up and waiting for me. 

And I handed over the keys my most beloved PT-Cruiser, my little silver tootle car. I will miss the suede seat centers. I will definitely miss the stick shift. 

What I'll miss most is having the last car Steve and I bought together. It’s odd, though, that I'm picking up the Rogue on July 2nd of all days. Kinda bittersweet, I guess. He really would've liked watching those negotiations; I can almost hear the snorting. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
For women buying new cars:
Stand. Your. Ground. 
Your money is just as green as a guy's money.


Bonus tip
35 years is still 35 years;
some people still remember and that's okay. 
I do, too.