Thursday, November 29, 2012

Caste Offs


All during the interminable 2012 Election, I kept hearing about “the middle class.” I could never figure out which Class I’m in. I’m pro-choice and I wasn’t satisfied with three choices; Lower, Middle and Upper.

Even in India they have four well-known caste system categories: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Of course certain people are excluded altogether, ostracized by all other castes and treated as untouchables. Unfortunately we have some of those untouchables in America. And I’m not including Elliot Ness.

All of my research ended with the upper UPPER class Atlantic Monthly Magazine.

I became more familiar with The Atlantic in 1999 only because David G. Bradley, my daughter Ruth’s boss when she was at The Corporate Executive Board in Washington, DC, bought the magazine (not a copy, the entire Atlantic Monthly corporation). It was founded 155 years ago in 1857 as The Atlantic Monthly in Boston. The founders included Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., John Greenleaf Whittier and James Russell Lowell. In August 1963, The Atlantic published Martin Luther King, Jr.'s defense of civil disobedience in "Letter from Birmingham Jail." The magazine published many of the works of Mark Twain, including one that was lost until 2001. 

The Atlantic website introduced me to Derek Thompson, a senior editor who looks more like a junior high-school editor, but seems to agree with my concerns about the lack of classes to choose from.

“One plausible definition of ‘middle-class’ is those households in the middle quintile of the income distribution, or between the 40th and 60th percentiles,” Thompson writes. “Under this view, 0-20th percentile is lower class, 20th-40th is lower-middle class, 40th-60th is middle class, 60th-80th is upper middle class, and 80th to 99th is upper class. The lower classes make under $20,262, in this view, and the upper classes above $101,582, according to the latest Census data.” 

That's good. A major percentage gain in Classes, from three to five.

Get it? If you do, go to the head of the Class.

But if you're not from the correct Class be prepared to be caste out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Geology and Fiscal Hysteria


Cliffs are formed by the action of horizontal erosion on elevated banks. Like the Grand Canyon.

Then there are banks which elevated themselves by artificial inflation, which resulted in the charge to sign up to get on the Stimulus List. Now they’ve over-stimulated and are hurtling out-of-control straight toward that newly-legendary and ominous Fiscal Cliff. In a sudden spirit of sharing, they are generously taking us along for the trip over the edge.

Everybody’s talking today about what they’re going to do with the $500+ million if they win the absurdly gargantuan Powerball Lottery jackpot. Frankly I think this thing is rigged – the drawing is in Florida. Remember the Hanging Chads in 2000? And whatever the hell happened in 2012?  I think we should let the U.S. Supreme Court decide who wins. On second thought we’d probably want to know before the end of this century, so maybe we could let the Octomom decide (she needs a job and she is decisive, if stupid). 

I would like to win the Lottery, but my actuary said my chances of winning are about as good as my chances of surviving the plunge over the FISCAL CLIFF. He did suggest I go ahead and prepay several years’ worth of commissionable premiums (I guess he’s not worried about the Cliff).
But what would I do with all that money before BLACK TUESDAY, January 1, 2013, the day I expect I will die (along with everybody else who is going over the Cliff)? I suppose I could take some of the $550 million and prepay the Neptune Society for my cremation – but who’s going to be left around to come to my funeral?

The good news WAS this year (2012) you can (could) gift up to $5 million tax free instead of the traditional $13,000.  But it seems to me that leaving $545 million on the table, with maybe 35% (one hundred ninety-two million) going to the Federal Government (which is now a charitable organization, meaning I should be able to deduct the 35%) makes no sense. 

Another problem. I have a lot to do between now and January 1, 2013, so how am I going to enjoy my windfall? Maybe I can toy with Bernie Madoff (gee, Bernie, what should I do with all this cash?) or buy an offense for the Arizona Cardinals in time to see them win a game. Perhaps I will have time to secure a Golden Parachute from my own business enterprises so I can use it when we begin the plunge. The canyon at the bottom of the long drop is surely lined with Greeks who’ve already taken the journey, so maybe I’ll have something protectively squishy to land on.

I have a Powerball ticket, just in case.

Great News for the Republican Party

mmm...still chewy
Republicans can rejoice!   Well, they can at least stop clutching their heads and trying to think up new ways to disavow association, now that those whacky game-changers Todd Akin & Richard Mourdock have lost (gasp!) their respective campaigns. 

However, Akin (the legitimate rape guy) and Mourdock (God intended pregnancies from rape) seem almost like sweet, naive children when compared to Arkansas' Axis of Idiots;  Jon Hubbard, Charlie Fuqua and Loy Mauch.

My mother-in-law grew up in Turrell, Arkansas and I followed Arkansas politics.  I even penned a book about Bill Clinton in the 90s, but scuttled any thoughts of publishing it at the time because my daughter was working for the Clinton administration. 

Even so, I never heard of the Axis of Idiots until I read Max Brantley's One More Excerpt from the Republicans' Three Stooges in the Arkansas Times.  It is a brilliant term ... Axis of Idiots ... it certainly leaves room for more idiots of which there is sadly no shortage.  I am happy to report that Charlie Fuqua, who drafted legislation to allow executions of "rebellious children" and Loy Mauch who wrote letters to the Arkansas Times likening Abraham Lincoln (particularly his stance against slavery) to Nazis, war criminals, and communists and because, "Jesus and Paul never condemned it"  both successfully horrified voters into casting their votes for other candidates.  I imagine Jack The Ripper might have been a preferable choice.   Let's not forget Jon Hubbard, who wrote a self-published book which extolled the virtues of slavery - and how those enslaved were actually better off.   Seriously. 

Jon Hubbard, Charlie Fuqua & Loy Mauch
Arkansas' Axis of Idiots

It's good to know that there are sincere politicians like Hubbard, Mauch and Fuqua - I mean, who would pretend to believe that b.s. and still expect to be elected.  It's also reassuring that they did not get elected - perhaps the public is not as apathetic as the Axis of Idiots hoped.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Green Comedy (Recycling Works Folks!)

Last Sunday I went to see The Capitol Steps at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Since I have seen no reviews of this hysterical mimic-mock-knock-parody, I’m going to say a few words.
If you’re not familiar with The Capitol Steps, the concept was hatched (not by Warren) in December 1981 by some staffers for Senator Charles Percy (D, Illinois) who were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. They planned a nativity play, but as they say in the show, “in the whole Congress we couldn't find three wise men or a virgin."  So they decided to dig into the headlines of the day, and they wrote song parodies and skits which were big hits. The current members of the Steps are not all former Capitol Hill staffers, but taken together, the performers have worked in a total of eighteen Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience. They don’t say how many are red and how many blue but they are a cohesive group.

The highlight of the show for me is a tradition called Lirty Dies; “what you get when you mix your basic national scandal with word-initialization-rejuxtaposition closely following the underlying precepts of harmony, alliteration and innuendo.
“Some might say they are merely spoonerisms taken to ludicrous heights.
  They Whip their Flurds..or.. Spew up their Screech....
Flo with the Go...with Mealthy Hinds and Lappy Hives...
People who....umm....
Follow their Hearts ……..
We'll let you do that one.”

I leave you with a story I was going to put in my FLOG during the campaign, but didn’t because I figured everybody knew it.  I was surprised this one got such a big laugh;
On electon day, Mitt gave Ann a magnificent sexy negligee. “What’s that for?” she asked with a smile. “That’s for tonight, when you sleep with the President of the United States,” Mitt responded. At eight P.M. Ann told Mitt to take a nap and she would wake him when it was time to go to the party. At 11 she woke him. Opening his tired eyes, he said “Is it time to go?” “Not quite yet,”Ann said.
I have to ask you a question. “Is Barack coming down here or am I going up there?”

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Un-Filtered Flog

Read between courses to cleanse the pallet and aid in digestion:

In 1966 a new law required the tobacco industry to caution Americans with this disclaimer: “Cigarette Smoking may be hazardous to your health.” In 1970 the words were changed to: “The SURGEON GENERAL has determined that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.”   The Surgeon General was William H. Steward. He lived to the age of 86, and no he didn’t die from lung cancer, but complications from kidney failure.  Which probably made him wish he hadn't bothered giving up smoking. 
I never smoked.  Not cigarettes.  Not marijuana. Not even salmon. Even if I were still living in the State of Washington, I would not try the newly legalized marijuana. I don’t want to set a bad example for my still impressionable children, now 50 and 47 years old.
I did spend my career in advertising and refused cigarette and liquor accounts because I didn’t want to encourage smoking or drinking.
As the years went by I was required to add more and lengthier disclaimers and disclosures on ads and commercials. Producing a 30-second TV spot or 60-second radio spot with 10 to 20 seconds of disclaimer was like writing this FLOG in 300 words. With no limit on the number of words I can write in this FlOG or an email, I am now making up for the restrictions put on me when I was an ad writer.
This FLOG was obviously inspired by the barrage of politricks commercials which ended (or sometimes started) with, “I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message,” which took the President five seconds to say and Mitt Romney about ten. I timed them.
For those of you who don’t smoke and are still living, I feel compelled to share this disclaimer on Pfizer’s relatively new prescription medicine Chantix, which the drug maker claims;  “along with support, helps adults 18 and over stop smoking.” 
IT’S IRONIC THAT THE MAKERS OF CIGARETTES CAN GET AWAY WITH "The Surgeon General has determined the cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health." Apparently, smoking has fewer hazards than the proposed Chantix cure;
Yeah, hmmm.  I think I found a better Surgeon General's warning to be required on cigarette packaging; 
"The Surgeon General has determined the prescription cures for cigarette smoking are potentially as lethal as cigarette smoking, so just don't."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rupert Murdoch Would Be So Proud

Judge:  Hobby Lobby must offer morning-after pill
Associated Press Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:47 PM

Craft Product Line for Non Procreators
"Whatever your drug of choice,
serve them with style"
Being a customer of Hobby Lobby for the last few years, I did a double-take when I saw this headline ... the image that initially sprang to mind was of Martha Stewart standing at the door offering a tray of pharmaceuticals in little fluted cups (from her new line of pharmaceutical serving ware).  Reading the article, I discovered the judge who issued this startling order was actually mandating an employee health insurance inclusion.

This FLOG is not about my opinions on the judge's order, Hobby Lobby's response to it, or even health care in general.  During the process of earning my degree in journalism from the University of Washington, I took a course in headline writing.  Headline writing requires skill and concentration in order to convey the essence of the story in a minimal number of words.  My experiences in journalism have taught me that many headlines are hysterical, misleading and weird as Glenn Beck's upbringing must have been. 

Police begin campaign to run down
There is the occasional poorly thought out headline that escapes the editor's eye (i.e., Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers) and then there is the outraged (but hilariously delusional) rant headline (think Karl Rove), and lets not forget the National Enquirer style eye-catching but ridiculous variety (Three headed baby vocally channels Elvis, Bing Crosby, & Ethel Merman) - the three headed baby is of course located in a tiny jungle village in a land far far away.  There aren't as many of this type since the advent of Photoshop and Google Maps. 

Drunk gets 9 months in
violin case

We are now in the era of online news ... many article authors are paid per click, which makes an evocative headline a necessity.  It didn't take me long to find bevy of current attention-getters.

  • Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
  • Miners Refuse to Work After Death
  • Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
  • Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge
  • Old School Pillars Replaced By Alumni
  • Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
  • Lack of Brains Hinders Research
  • Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
  • Hershey Bars Protest

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sage Advice

Thanksgiving is almost upon us.

My California daughter, Debbie, is winging her way from Santa Monica and my unofficially adopted daughter Christina is braving the elements all the way from Washington DC to help my Arizona daughter Ruth, granddaughter Izzy and me celebrate grandson Kazuki's first Thanksgiving. Izzy has been industriously producing paper turkeys (even disguised one as a ballerina) in her kindergarten class. I bet she could craft a heckuva centerpiece out of dryer lint. 

Ruth is busier than Karl Rove's spin doctors. So busy, she initially planned to find a store or restaurant that would produce a Thanksgiving dinner ready to serve. However, Debbie is severely allergic to sage, which is often used in turkey seasonings and stuffing.  Ruth’s attempts to determine whether the ready-to-serve dinners contained sage resulted in answers that ranged from, “what’s sage?” to a very unconvincing, “um ….nooooooooo?” 

I put on my Super Dad cape and dashed to her rescue.   There was still plenty of time to buy and defrost a bird and I found a fabulous sounding stuffing recipe which involved no sage.  My recipe plans were dashed when I turned on the news and discovered the Hostess Bakery which produces Twinkies, and a variety of other ridiculously named empty-calorie vessels, had ceased operations and filed bankruptcy with the intention of liquidating.  Damn the bad luck – Twinkies, an integral part of my sage-free turkey stuffing, are now an extremely hot commodity and available only on eBay. 

Mean Eileen, who is not known to be a culinary adventurist, stopped gagging and heaved a sigh of relief at the news.  She pointed out that the local newspaper's website featured a list of more than thirty area restaurants were open and serving dinner - no shopping, cooking or dishwashing.  Then she downloaded a smart-phone app which reveals how long a wait to expect at various local emergency rooms (in case some sage sneaks into Debbie's dinner).  All I had to do was get Ruth to pick one of the restaurants on the list and make a reservation.

About then, Ruth reappeared and before I could even get Mean Eileen's idea fully articulated, she had reclaimed Thanksgiving dinner and shamed me for even thinking of denying her children the opportunity to etch in their little heads the memory of their mommy desperately examining the electrical switch box to figure out why the oven stopped working and wondering aloud for the umpteen-millionth time how her mother managed fabulous holiday dinners with such ease.  

I will sit very quietly like a mouse in a cage with a boa constrictor.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A FLOG-Gobble Feast

November, 1975.  The annual Thanksgiving feast (fiasco) at my mother's house (Mom was the militant hostess with the mostest) was scheduled to commence at 5pm (after two hours of noshing on hors d'oeuvres which typically left everyone too stuffed to eat dinner).  About 25 guests had been drafted and dared not go AWOL.  I had no official responsibility so I appointed myself surreptitious place-card switcher.

At o-nine hundred hours, General Mom called my wife to ask if she had electricity.  A wicked autumn storm had claimed hers a mere fifteen minutes after the Butterball went into the oven.  Margaret told her to bring it over, but before Mom could get the giant bird out of her oven and into her car, our power went out.

Frantic calls were made only to find the storm was spreading its wings like a fleeing turkey.  Mom's close friend, Helen Sommers, a Washington State Representitive and Legislative Budget Committee leader, apparently had clout and power to roast a turkey.  The formerly feathered entree made the journey to Ms. Sommers kitchen where it cooled its hallux for a few minutes having arrived shortly before the Budget Committee Chairwoman lost her electricity.  So much for clout.

More calls.  My sister-in-law, Susan, lived on Mercer Island east of Seattle.  No storm damage there - but no power either.  Mom called her sister, whom she had initially left off the disaster relief list because Dorothea had a two bedroom apartment with a five-foot by nine-foot kitchen.  But Auntie Dor had power, so the well traveled bird ended up in her oven for several hours.  Meanwhile, a quickly formed Communications Committee passed the word by means of antique social networking (landlines...ones with handsets attached with curly cords); dinner would be served at eighteen-hundred hours at Dorthea's.

Dinner in Dorthea's tiny abode brought the family closer together than ever before - literally (I still have impressions on the skin of my arms from being squeezed between two cousins).  Johnny Carson once said, "Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday.  People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year - and then discover once a year is way too often."

The traveling turkey was the best I ever ate.

Friday, November 16, 2012

So, who's he Dun lately?

General Joe Dunford is allegedly going to take the place of tarnished General John Allen (allegedly the possible paramour of Jill Kelley who allegedly tried to poach an already poached General Petraeus) as the leader of the International inSecurity Assistance Force in Afghanistan.   The word according to CNN is Dunford is the sole nominee appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning.

BIG MISTAKE.  First, with so many people out of work, why would the Senate talk to just one potential job seeker?  Second, what does this guy know about e-males.  And e-females (we've learned it's best to get this stuff out up front).  Third, should the Senate Armed Services Committee interview only the guy who wants to see a "robust US troop presence in Afghanistan after the end of 2014"?  Won't that bunch up Joe Biden's undies?  The VP professed in his debate with Paul Ryan that it was sink or swim time for the Afghan National Security Forces and that US troops would be o-u-t out by the end of 2014.  

I've heard rumors that Biden frequently sends amorous emails to a woman named Jill - maybe that's what he was doing when Obama signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghani President Karzai.  Or maybe he forgot.

I believe we are missing a rare opportunity to extract our soldiers and get them home for the upcoming holidays.  Simply round up Generals Petraeus, Allen, McChrystal and throw in Rod Blagojevich, Bernie Madoff, Elliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, Larry Craig and John Edwards, then exchange them for our troops.  Who better than those guys can explain to Afgani leaders the consequences of poorly thought out choices.  Except for Ahhnold who apparently is incapable of thought (but he's a five star a-hole and I'd just like to see him gone from the USA)?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lips Zipped; Pants, not so much

David and Paula and John and Jill (and Scott and the other Scott and an FBI guy and...)
Like a lot of people, I've been reading about the exploits of the top keepers of our Nation's secrets and safety and like a lot of people, I'm not feeling so safe.   These people are operating on taxpayer dollars and I want my money back.  Thirty thousand "flirtatious" emails?
I read Ms. Broadwell's resume and it is extraordinarily impressive which makes the idiocy of her "hands off, I stole him first" emails that much more bizarre.  And Petraeus?  The head of the CIA didn't know email can be traced?  I'm sensing a new ...For Dummies book in the works.
Bring our troops home from Afghanistan pronto ... I'm sure when Rupert Murdoch's regional tabloid (Al Ja-yowza!) gets out, the Afghani troops being trained by the US are going to have a tough time focusing on combat tactics anyway.
And no, I will NOT watch Paula and Jill's upcoming reality show, Call of Booty (probably sponsored by General Mills and General Motors).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Useful Vocabulary Words

Peanut Butt-er - (n.) one who launches peanuts
from his forehead to entertain grandkids
The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
Here are the winners:
1.     Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2.     Intaxicaton : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
3.     Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
4.     Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
5.    Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high
6.    Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
7.    Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
8.   Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
9.   Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido : All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler Effect : The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. And the winners are:
1.     Coffee , n. The person upon whom one coughs.
2.     Flabbergasted , adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
3.   Abdicate , v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4.    Esplanade , v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.
5.    Willy-nilly , adj. Impotent.
6.     Negligent , adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.
7.     Lymph , v.. To walk with a lisp.
8.     Gargoyle , n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.
9.     Flatulence , n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash , n. A rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle , n. A humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude , n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon , n. A Rastafarian proctologist .
14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men

Thursday, November 1, 2012

To the campaign-sick kid in Colorado - I'm with ya!

It’s five days until Election Day.  I apparently am more crucial to the Obama campaign than voter registration, rallies and even the state of Ohio.  I know this because yesterday at 8:38am Michelle Obama emailed me to tell me how important I am. 
At 9:36am Ann Marie Habershaw emailed with the same sentiment. 
At 10:25am, Jim Messina sent a message requesting a donation to the Red Cross to assist in dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. 
At 12:37pm, Rufus Gifford sent an email with 7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Ignore (I assume he meant ignore his email requesting another campaign donation). 
At 3:38pm, Joe Biden sent me a campaign donation request so “you can stop the other side from buying and bullying its way to a win right at the end.  That statement leaves me to wonder if my donation wouldn’t be used to buy a win for, uh, this side.
At 7:59pm, Obama for America sent an email offering me a chance to win FRONT ROW SEATS to his election night speech in Chicago, including airfare and hotel – all I have to do is donate to his campaign.  If his election night speech was going to be in Hawaii, I might have bitten.
At 10:40pm, Obama for America sent the first useful email I’d seen all day … click here to read it
At  8:41am this morning, the Big O himself personally emailed me  (see, I told you I was crucial).  He said “we” got outraised pretty badly in the first half of this past month by Mitt Romney and the Republicans (also the name of Mitt’s garage band).  Because I “am one of Obama’s most committed supporters” the Prez was writing to invite me to commit some more.
Now, I do in fact support Obama and think he did a good job as president in the last four years.  Hurricane Sandy aside, I find it incredibly difficult to believe anyone who can remember where they were in November of 2008 does not think we as a country are in significantly better economic condition four years later (Bernie Madoff  and the mortgage crises ring a bell?).  I hope Obama will be re-elected.
That said, I will be enormously grateful when this election is over and the hundreds of millions of dollars raised and spent on all the campaigns is not rubbed in my face on an hourly basis.  I’d expound on that thought but Stephanie Cutter has just sent me an email of critical importance .
forego the campaign donation - storm victims need your help more