Friday, March 27, 2009

Making a Short Story Long

Once again my wife is visiting my daughter’s domicile. This means that the main television stays tuned to news or talk shows during most of the day. Of course there are exceptions; American Idol, Soap Operas and Hollywood gossip programming. This doesn’t bother me because I have my own television in my office (AKA “The Shed”).

Yesterday on one of my frequent trips to the bathroom I noticed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on the television talking about Mexico. The day before I had read some of her comments and just shook my head in disbelief. She was blaming the American’s “insatiable appetite for drugs” for problems that the Mexican Government is currently facing.

Being the idiot that I am, I couldn’t resist making a comment as I was heading out of the room to go back to the shed. I should have known better than to open the flood gates of repartee with the wife. We occasionally exchange pleasantries and talk about our children, but other than that I usually refrain from having more than a two minute conversation with her.

My comment was that I couldn’t stand Hillary years ago and that I like her even less today (actually the words I spoke were not that nice, therefore no quotation marks).

The wife asked if I knew her when I was still living in Maryland. I curtly answered no, attempting to end the conversation. She quickly asks (before I could get out of the door) me, how did I know her years ago. Now I’m trapped. I have to relate the story of my meeting Hillary Rodham (Clinton) when I was a teen in Chicago.

The story should have taken 2 to 4 minutes to tell. But nooooo! Telling a story to my wife is like being interviewed by Mike Wallace; many questions in between each uttered passage.

Now here’s the story. In parenthesis are the wife’s interrogatives followed by a hyphen and then my answers to her questions.

I met her in November 1960 (Did she go to your school? – No she lived on the North side), (How did you know that she lived on the North Side? – By the way she was dressed), (How was she dressed? – She was wearing a Parka and Ski Pants), (What color was the Parka? - I believe that it was light blue), (But what made you think that she was from the North side? – Girls in our neighborhood wore regular winter coats, skirts and leggings, may I please finish the story).

It was a Saturday (How do you remember that it was a Saturday? – I was not in school at eleven in the morning and answered the door), (Well then, it could have been a Sunday – No my sister would have been in Church at 11am and she was home watching cartoons on the television), (Are you sure about the time? – Yes, give or take 10 minutes, I was eating lunch at the time; now can I continue the story).

There was a knock at the door, I answered and there stood this young girl with a clip board in her hand. (How old was she? – Hell I don’t know, a few years younger than me). She asked me if my parents were at home. I answered that my mom was home and that my dad would be home in about 45 minutes. I closed the door (That was rude, why didn’t you invite her in? – She wasn’t sexually attractive, she looked like a frumpy wingless Cherub), (I wonder what she thought about you? – I didn’t care).

Without taking a breath I continued my story.

I sat back down and continued to eat my lunch. The knock came again and this time my mother answered the door. The girl told her that she was canvassing the area about the last Presidential Election (Kennedy/Nixon). There seemed to be some concern that Chicago Mayor Richard J Daley had rigged the election (How can a Mayor rig an election? – The same way that Bush won Florida). That shut her (the wife) up.

Our Ward (Chicago’s 22nd) as well as our precinct was falling under close scrutiny by the Cook County Republican Organization. (Why? – Because there were only 8 votes for Nixon in our Precinct and Kennedy carried the Ward by 94%), (I can see why they were concerned – Not if you knew the neighborhood; predominately Catholic and Democrats, we didn’t even have a Republican Precinct Captain).

That’s when I first met Hillary Clinton and decided that I didn’t like her (How did you know that it was Hillary that knocked on your door? – As you well know, I never forget faces, names maybe, but never faces), (When did you realize that it was her? – When Bill Clinton was running for President and I saw her on television; I was watching the news with the then current “love of my life” and exclaimed “I know that broad”), (You’re crass – Thank you, I going to the shed).

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Paying the Price for Gas

I read today that a 14 year old Florida boy has been suspended from riding the School Bus for three days. These suspensions usually arise from unruly behavior; such as fighting or throwing things at the other students.

Not in this case. The boy allegedly passed gas on the bus. Although he didn’t admit to the heinous act, he laughed about it (a possible admission of guilt). The other students on the bus (although they didn’t hear the fart) said that a noxious odor was emanating from his direction. I guess it was one of those silent but deadly farts.

The article went on to say that it was also a suspendible offence (in Florida) to pass gas in a class room. If you feel a fart coming on, you must raise your hand, be acknowledged but the instructor; then ask permission to be excused from the class and hustle to the nearest restroom.

When I was young I rarely had to pass gas in the daytime hours; it was usually an hour after supper. But if I did, it was one of those urgent farts. I wouldn’t have the time to raise my hand, let alone, wait to be called on. I just hoped that it wouldn’t be a loud highly embarrassing one.

Now that I am in my sixties practically everything that I eat or drink gives me intestinal gas. I’m an old fart machine. The urgency is still there and I usually do not have time to run to the bathroom, to let one go. I just sit there and grin. I don’t even try to blame it on the dogs.

When I was in the Army (stationed in Africa) I knew two guys that could pass gas at will. One of them would always say “pull my finger”. That was our cue to rapidly leave the room. The other guy could not only fart at any time that he desired, but could also belch at the same time. We considered this to be an art form. It’s a male thing.

My wife’s sister’s husband could also pass gas at any given time. This usually occurred during family gatherings and our poker games. He would do it with flair. He would stand up and raise one leg off of the floor, then let a big on go. I admired him for his ability to do so. I had tried the same thing but without any tangible results.

Guys have always been able to find humor in farts. Women, on the other hand, usually find them to be an obscenity.

I’ll bet any amount of money (with odds) that both the Bus Driver and School Principal were women. No sense of gastric humor.

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Taking From the Poor and Giving to the Rich

I shouldn’t be complaining because I am currently living off of tax payer’s dollars. I draw a monthly Social Security check and my medical treatment and hospitalization is provided by the Veterans Administration. I do not work and therefore do not put any monies into the tax pool (except for Federal taxes on Tobacco and Alcohol).
I will say this for myself; I will not go on the Government dole until I reach 68.2 years old. This is accounting for a 6% benefit increase annually and the monies that I and my employers had paid into Social Security taxes (FICA).

I will also go on to say that during my last full year (1969) in the Army I earned $3719, whereas my civilian counterparts were earning three and a half, if not 4, times that amount per year. The civilians would argue that I got free room and board and medical care. This is true. I got a cot with a two inch thick mattress in a 14X16 foot room, in the barracks, shared with another GI. If I had been of a lesser rank, I would have been in a 32 man bay. The food that I rarely ate in the Mess Hall was free, but instead I paid for food outside of the Mess Hall, especially after I saw a local Pig Farmer picking up the leftovers. I guess that the pigs liked green beef liver.

However, I do feel a compulsion to complain when something truly appalling is in all of the online newspapers and the television newscasts 24 hours a day. There is story after story after story without any definitive answers.

Monday night, Steven Colbert said that it was time for us to pick up pitchforks and torches. Meaning it was time to go after the monster called AGI. At least that’s the way that I understood it.

AGI CEO Edward M. Liddy justifies the $165 million in bonuses, by saying that they were promised and that they were only going to “the brightest and the best” executives. Eleven of whom are no longer working for AGI. The best and brightest seemingly are like rats deserting a sinking ship; but they still want their full ration of Rum and Hardtack. It appears that the “brightest and the best” didn’t do that well in managing AGI. I say no more Rum!

Years ago my Dad told me that “promises were meant to be broken; just listen to any politician.” But CEO Liddy says that this promise should be kept so that AIG can keep “the brightest and the best”.

My solution is that our Government (since they – meaning the taxpayers - are now a major investor in AGI) should decide who, if anyone gets a bonus. If it were up to me, I’d scrub the entire executive staff and hire new people.

Maybe we can hire the Chimpanzees featured in the youtube video posted below. I'm sure that even they would do a better job and work for bananas and peanuts and not expect a Bonus.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Elementary (Grammar) School Daze

This is a prelude to my last Blog concerning my High School days.

I entered the Chicago Public School system in the third grade. Prior to that time I was in the Parochial (Catholic) School system. I won’t go into the details, but the Dominican Sisters told my parents that I was an incorrigible child.

One of the greatest benefits in transferring schools was that the Public School (McCormick) was only two blocks away from our house; the nearest Catholic School was 5 blocks away. When you are a kid toting books (in the days before backpacks) to and from school, 3 less blocks made a big difference, especially during the Chicago winters.

In addition, the teachers in the Public Schools were much kinder to their students than the Sisters were. I was accustomed to being whacked on the knuckles (with a ruler) or slapped on the head for just smiling. Even worse punishment would ensue if I had made what was considered to be a “smart alec” remark. I recently told a Catholic friend that we should have sent the Dominican Sisters and Jesuit Brothers down to Gitmo.

The grading system in the Chicago Public school system was also different. Instead of ABCDF we had SEGFU (Superior, Excellent, Good, Fair and Unsatisfactory). Our report cards were graded 4 times per semester; the final period being your final grades for the semester. During my first two semesters at McCormick I had a consistent E average. My grade average would have been higher, but I consistently received F’s in deportment (I guess the Sisters were right – I was a smart alec).

Most of my friends in the neighborhood went to Parochial schools. When I boasted about my E average, they would shrug it off by saying that I was learning at a lower level. They had been told by their parents that the Chicago Public schools were substandard. That way they could readily accept the corporal punishment that they received in the Catholic school system. They were getting a better education; therefore they should endure the pain!

I can’t imagine that there were better teachers than I had during my 6 years at McCormick Elementary School. They worked with the slower students and pushed the brighter students. The bulk of them were old women that had been teaching most of their adult lives. Two (Mrs. Bowlen and Mrs. Garvey) finally retired when my class went on to High School. They were both in their 60’s and had taught some of my classmates parents at our school.

Mrs. Bowlen was my favorite teacher at McCormick. She was my seventh grade homeroom teacher and the senior science teacher. If you wanted to learn, she made learning easy by guiding you (not beating you) into the right direction. She was stern but fair. I (as well as my Mom) stayed in contact with her, until her passing in 1990.
When I was stationed in Africa, she would send me a weekly letter, detailing her life in Thermopolis, Wyoming. In return, I would write about the people that I met and the places that I had visited in Ethiopia (sans the sordid details).

In the second semester of the Eight Grade we took what were called High School Placement Tests (basically an IQ Test). I had always tested well and scored higher than I should have. Mrs. Garvey (my Eight Grade homeroom teacher) almost went into shock when she saw the test results; she realized that I had actually learned something while pulling my usual classroom shenanigans.

About 3 weeks before the school year was over we were visited by staff members of the local Public High Schools. Can you believe that you actually got to choose your High School? I had a choice of three schools; Harrison Tech, Farragut or Lane Tech (an all male school).

Farragut was just two blocks away from my house, but I chose Harrison (a mile away from home) because several of my friends were planning to attend that school and my Dad was an Alumnus. Lane was out of the question; nearly an hour away by bus and no girls.

The Harrison representatives touted me for the Honors (College Prep) classes (English, Science and Math). They told me that they were accelerated classes; however a G would count as an E and an E as an S towards my GPA. They neglected to mention that the homework was basically double than that of normal classes.

Near the end of my freshman year, I met with my Faculty Advisor Mr. Dyokas. Even with the extra credit I was maintaining less that an E average. He told me if I planned to go to College, I better get my grades up a notch. He also told me that it was important that I participated in as many extracurricular activities as possible; this looks good on a college application.

After 4 years of High School I had been a member of The Science Club, The Jazz Club, The Drama Club, The Debating Team and The Newspaper Staff. I had taken Mr. Dyokas’ advice.

The Beach Bum

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Friday, March 13, 2009

High School Daze

The last two Guest Blogs by Loopy made me reminisce to the first semester of my Junior Year of High School.

At the close of the sophomore year we had to choose our elective classes for the following Fall Semester. My Student Advisor suggested that I take Journalism; he said that I should do well. The teacher of this course was one of my past English teachers and I thought that he was pretty cool; so I said OK.

That left a half credit (minor) class, and there weren’t many to choose from on the list, for me to select. Most minor classes only met two or three days per week. Looking over the list, I noticed that Public Speaking was taught 2 days per week. It was also a ninth period (last of the day) class. When you didn’t have a ninth period class, you could go to the Library, study hall or go home an hour early. The light bulb above my head lit up and I chose Public Speaking as my second elective.

The first four weeks of Journalism class were easy; mostly reading and lecturing by our teacher and very little homework. After the sixth week we were given assignments to write about various events that were happening in our neighborhoods; using the journalistic principles that we had already learned in class. I spent a lot of time reading the Chicago Newspapers to learn how to write a good new story. Prior to this time I would only read the Headline stories, the Sports section and the Comics.

Someone in our class dubbed our journalism teacher Superman (Disguised as Joe Wiley, the mild-mannered Faculty Sponsor for a great High School newspaper; fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way!) because he was tall, in good physical shape and wore Clark Kent style glasses. He even like the sobriquet.

After 8 weeks of class, 3 of us were invited (by Superman) to join the newspaper (Herald) staff because three seniors were graduating at the end of the semester. I felt honored to be chosen. The three of us were given the worst assignments and not allowed to write anything that would be printed (like Jimmy Olsen; we were gofers). However, the senior staff would often plagiarize articles that we had written.

We felt that this was unfair so we rebelled. Our complaints to Superman were of no avail. The leader of the revolt was the second best (GPA wise) student in our high school (the first being a Polish girl named Marie). Mykhaila was of Russian/German ancestry; she entered High School at the age of 12 and had just turned 15 years old.

Her plan was simple; we would fabricate a plausible news story and let the senior staff read it. They would, of course, reject it and then re-write it and publish it (which they did).

When the next edition of the Herald was published, our story was on the front page. We took the paper and our original draft to Superman and told him that it was a spurious story that we had written to get back at the seniors. He laughed!

The next semester Mykhaila was the Herald’s editor-in-chief and I was promoted to galley editing. These were both senior student positions and we were second semester juniors. We had won the battle!

Later, as a senior, I wrote the Sports Column (which Superman basically called a Gossip Column – I was a name dropper) and continued my galley work.

Mykhaila and I were also in the same Public Speaking class (we had the same advisor). She went on to be the Captain of the Debating Team in the second semester of our Junior Year. I was an alternative until the last semester of my senior year; after she graduated a semester early.

In a mini reunion with some of my High School classmates, some 40 years later, I was told that Mykhaila graduated from the University Of Chicago at the age of 19. The question was posed; why hadn’t I stayed in contact with one of my favorite high school friends? For lack of any other answer I said “I wasn’t physically attracted to her”. It’s a sad commentary, but it’s true.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Analysis Of A Speech

My friend Loopy (Paul) has decided that he needed to add an addendum to his Guest Blog that was posted yesterday. As I have said before, for an Old Fart he is still as sharp as a needle.

Loopy's Addendum:

When listening to a speaker, what do you hear? Do you hear the words behind the words? Politicians in particular have a case to make for or against a subject, a political position, or a pending piece of legislation. They must bring as many of their listeners to an acceptance and, hopefully, a belief in their position. How do they do this and how do we, the public, evaluate intelligently what they are saying?

The following steps were part of my college class taught by that wonderful professor whose name I still can't remember. These questions should be asked and answered by each listener.

Analysis of a Speech

1. Does the speaker show two-valued or multi-valued orientation?
In other words, is the speaker using a plus/minus, good/bad, orientation in the speech or are there layers within the speech that span an entire spectrum of thought and ideas.

2. Are facts presented? Are they slanted?
This point speaks for itself. If facts are presented, does the speaker use loaded words to twist the facts to support his position or tear down his opponent's position?

3. Is the language directive or informative?
Are you as a listener being verbally pushed into accepting a position that you would normally not accept?

4. What are the goals of the speaker?
Know the background of the issues and the speaker. What does he have to gain or lose by his style of presentation?

5. How many devices of propaganda does he use?
This takes you back to the previous blog where the devices of propaganda are discussed.

6. What is the context of the language?
Is it physical or verbal?

7. What will be the consequence?
The end result of acceptance or rejection of the position of the speaker.

8. Does he distinguish between observation, inferences and judgment?
The difference between what is truth, what he thinks is truth, and what he wants truth to be.

9. Where is he on the abstraction ladder?
As explained by that great semantician, Dr. S. I. Hiyakawa. Does he speak about the herd or does he bring the abstractions down to the level of cow number one and cow number two?

10. What words used in the speech need definition?
Does the speaker misuse these words? Don't be afraid to look up words used in the speech that you don't understand.

These are all little tricks to enable the average person to feel a sense of empowerment in their ability to choose who to accept or reject in the world of politics, business, and especially in our current environment of economic chaos. When the leaders of the big banks, insurance companies, investment firms, and multi-level conglomerates issue statements about their strength, safety, future plans, and past history, make sure that you understand what they are actually saying. This way you may also gain an understanding of what they've done.

Posted by Loopy

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

What Are They Saying?

My Second Guest Blogger (Paul) is also a friend from the time that I spent in East Africa. I didn’t know him that well when I was stationed a Kagnew Station; we probably shared cocktails together 3 or 4 times. I was a new guy and he was a short timer, getting ready to ship out. I liked him because of his comical exploits, his intelligence and his razor sharp wit.

So without further ado, here is Paul’s Blog:

Whenever I hear a politician speak, I always flash back to my much, much younger days. While attending Phoenix College back in the very early '60s,I had the good fortune to sign up for a class taught by a wonderful instructor whose name I can't even begin to dredge from my memory.

While I cannot remember his name, I remember some of the things he taught me, such as how to analyze a speech and how to recognize and utilize the various elements of propaganda.

These are important things to learn, use, and pass on to our offspring as they are most likely not taught in this decade's schools. Since I still have my little notebook wherein I have written and saved treasured tidbits of information, poetry, paragraphs from loved books, and my own thoughts and ideas, I would like to share these elements of propaganda with you. My teacher gave great credit to Miller & Minsky, Copy 1937, for these gems. Perhaps we can cover the salient points to remember and practice in analyzing a speech at a later time.
1. Name Calling is used to condemn a person, a company, a religion, a country, or a race, etc. Have we ever seen this in the news?
2. Glittering Generalities are used to build up a person, a political party, or any other entity. This is sort of the opposite of Name Calling.
3. Devices of Transfer use the name of something good, honored or revered to build up something that is less than savory. It is also called Symbolism.
4. Testimonial Devices are selected phrases to build up or tear down the status or reputation of someone or something. Examples are what the right wing pundits are using on President Obama right now by their stressing the word "socialism" as it applies to his efforts to rein in corporate greed and abuse. Link the negative term to someone long enough and often enough and many of the easily led will begin to believe it to be the truth.
5. Plain Folk Devices involve changing the language and bringing the usage of words down to the level of the intended audience. In other words, using simpler and smaller words to an audience of a lower educational level or using regional jargon in those areas of the country where it is a part of normal discourse.
6. Band Wagon is the practice of misrepresenting the truth in an effort to achieve a particular political or business goal. We hear this daily on the news and in the newspapers where an individual only tells one side of an issue as if it were a fact. This was most apparent in the recent presidential campaign.

All of these items have been in my mind throughout the recent election and its aftermath. Just because I use these things to help me make decisions on issues and candidates doesn't make me any more intelligent than anyone else. It does help me to cast what I hope is a well thought out vote in an election and it does help me to decide which news programs or news people I will no longer watch or read.

I have decided to continue to read The Beach Bum Report.

Posted by Loopy (Paul) Guest Blogger #2

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Desperate Times

Today I read some alarming facts and figures about the Florida County in which I currently reside.

First is the unemployment rate. On December 31st it was at 10.9%. On February 28th it was 12.6%. The available County work force is less than 65 thousand (30% of the County’s residents are age 65 or older and retired). In addition twenty three percent of the people that are employed work out of County.

The County’s largest employer is Wal-Mart (2 Super Wal-Mart stores, a distribution center and a Sam’s Club). Wal-Mart recently laid off many of its part-time employees and cut hours of some full-time employees during the last two months. Our newest National Retailer, Kohl’s, has already cut back on its staff.

I’m not really sure, but I don’t think that the Unemployment figures included people that are unemployed and not collecting unemployment compensation. If so, this would increase the unemployment percentage as stated above.

Second is the housing market. Back in 2004/2005 there was a housing boom in this County. It drove up the prices of the existing homes. This wasn’t unique to the County, it was happening throughout the US.

Many of the new (construction) homes still lie vacant and they no longer have sales agents on duty in the model homes, just a number to call for a showing. I doubt that the phone rings very often.

In our zip code (probably the largest residential zip code in the County) there are 490 single family homes listed on, of these 450 are Bank owned. In addition lists 1137 in pre-foreclosure and another 240 as Sheriff Sales (unpaid property taxes). I would guessitmate that this is more than 40% (if not 50%) of the single family dwellings in this zip code.

Third is the small business crisis. Last year (2008), 47 small businesses closed in our County. Some were franchises. In addition, some businesses, with multiple locations, have consolidated. The shopping centers have many “For Lease” signs in the vacant storefronts. The place where I got my Chicago Hot Dogs and Italian Beef Sandwiches has been closed for 8 months. When your sales do not cover the cost of your rent and utilities; you close (I wish they would have warned me – I would have bought their Vienna Franks supply).

And finally a not so shocking statistic, but nonetheless alarming. In 2008, County applications for concealed weapons permits had increase by 28% over the last year. In December alone, it was a 21% increase over the previous December. I haven’t seen the figures or the first two months of 2009 yet, but I’m sure that the numbers are escalating. It’s a Fear Factor, when people are desperate they will do desperate things. One has to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Guest Bloggers

Back in early January, when I was crying in my beer because I had a lack of regular readers, a friend a suggested a way that I might increase Blog readership. He suggested that I have guest Bloggers. The guest Bloggers would tell their friends and some might become regular readers or even guest Bloggers.

I’ve seen this done on other Blogs. But it was just regular readers that were in the blog roll on the sidebar.

A week later I decided to give it a shot. So I asked my old Army buddy Al (who made the suggestion) if he would be my first guest Blogger. He said sure, but he was currently working on a photo project (photos that were taken when we were stationed in Eritrea, Ethiopia) and it might be a week or so.

I gave him the parameters. It could be on any subject, but, no vulgarities (euphemisms allowed), no ethnic slurs or epithets and it should have no higher than a PG13 rating. And it should be 500 words or less.

Weeks passed and nothing from Al, so I assumed that he had forgotten or was too busy with his political agendas. Al is a liberal Democrat (on the social scale, a little to the left of Teddy Kennedy) and is active in a grassroots’ movement in Kentucky (this way he gets to meet a lot of young ladies – eye candy).

Much to my surprise, last Sunday, he sent me his Blog with the caveat that it might be too political for my Blog. I read it and it fit within the parameters that I gave him. It’s posted below this Blog. Mission accomplished.

In case, by some remote chance, anyone else is interested in becoming a guest Blogger, I have posted a link to my email address in the right hand sidebar.

The Beach Bum

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A Liberal's Viewpoint

I know that the insurance industry won't like the idea that they'll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that's how we'll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won't like the idea that we're ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that's how we'll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that's how we'll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they're gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this: “So am I.”

This is beautiful framing of the issue. His statements decry subsidies for banks and tax cuts for the oil companies.

When the Republicans try to oppose Obama's agenda, they become allies of the greedy few. When the Republicans drag out the "S" word, Socialism, people don't know what it is and don't seem to care anymore. Their brand is so discredited, that if they say something is bad, then it must be good. When they cry "Class Warfare" the people say, well it's about time we fought back. The rich have been waging class warfare against us for decades.

Obama's words sound tough, but it may not be that tough a fight. The party of the Lords and Barons and their benefactors in industry are bordering on looking anti American.

In "The Shock Doctrine" Naomi Klein demonstrates how authoritarian governments cause or exploit a crisis to transfer power and wealth to the rich and powerful. Obama is turning the Shock Doctrine on it’s head by using this crisis to take away the power of the moneyed few, and returning it to the working class. The moneyed few won't be hurt; he's just returning our tax system back to where it was in the 90's. We did very well back then and so did the rich.

Posted by Alfredo (Guest Blogger #1)

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

She Looks Like a Butterfly but Stings Like a Bee

One of the headlines in yesterday’s St. Petersburg Times was “Prostitution Sting Nabs 10 in Clearwater.” The first thought that came into my mind was that they were cleaning up the streets before the Spring Breakers (Clearwater and Clearwater Beach are very popular Spring Break destinations) arrived. By running these sting operations it keeps the Hookers off of the streets for a while.

As I have stated before, I am for legalizing prostitution. I’m one of those people that believe that prostitution is a victimless crime (unless the prostitute has AIDS and doesn’t inform you of that fact). Obviously the City of Clearwater, Florida is also in favor of legalizing prostitution; just Google “Escort Services Clearwater Fl”. An Escort can cost as much as $400 per hour. Some even have a minimum of 3 hours.

There are also several (meaning more than 6) “Gentleman’s Clubs” in Clearwater; where you can get 4 to 5 minute semi-nude Lap Dances for about $25 to $35 a pop. If you are a high roller (5 lap dances plus extra tips), there is a good chance that you can set up a rendezvous for later that evening or the next day with your favorite dancer (future tip negotiated before services rendered). The guy says something like “What time do you get off tonight” or “What are you doing tomorrow” and then leaves his address or a hotel room number written on a cocktail napkin.

The girls that work for the escort services as well as the lap dancers are very attractive women. As a general rule, the girls that work the streets are, well, not quite that attractive. But they charge one hell of a lot less for services rendered. Seemingly there is nothing more appalling in the public eye than a cut-rate prostitute.

Last year there were several sting operations in Pinellas, Hillsboro and Hernando counties. The police go to areas that are known for having “Streetwalkers” and set up shop. They make it known (how, I don’t really know) to the real prostitutes that they will be working in that area for the weekend. So the real hookers stay home or work elsewhere.

Last fall a 6 day sting operation, in Hernando County, netted 16 guys looking for a little Nookie. One defendant’s Lawyer argued that it was entrapment, saying, that the officer dressed, sounded and acted like she was a prostitute. She walked up to his client, smiled and said Hi. She approached his client first, but he was the one to make the offer. If something looks, sounds and acts like a goat; it must therefore be a goat. Good argument, but faulty logic. But horny men do not act logically.

This past Sunday, there were 10 guys sitting in the Pinellas County Jail waiting for Monday’s arraignment. They were not so innocent victims of a victimless crime. I’ll bet that they were swearing off goats forever, or at least saving up their money for a Lap Dancer or an Escort.

The Beach Bum

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Lizard and the Fried Egg

I have a very unique filling system. The papers, letters and notes that I save eventually go into one of four boxes. These are not the regular store bought cardboard boxes (some assembly required – very dangerous words), that fall apart at the seams, if they are inappropriately handled; these are sturdy empty beer bottle cases. My four boxes are from four different beers.

The way that my system works is very simple. I let papers etc. pile up on the shelves of my computer desk. When the shelves get three quarters full, I transfer the material to one of the four boxes. But first I have to sort through the box and remove stuff that I no longer need to save; to make room for the new stuff that I no longer need to save. This can be an arduous time consuming task.

The other day my wife (who is currently visiting, here in Florida) asked me about some financial notes that I had made last year. I knew right where to look; Samuel Adams Winter Ale. I remembered that this was the last box that I had sorted through last March. How I remember this even amazes me; I’m the guy that can’t remember what he ate for dinner three nights ago.

I found the papers, but more importantly I found a letter written to me by a friend (Greg) on December 26, 2007. My friend lives in the Hotsy-Totsy Brentwood section of LA. In fact, not far from the Swartzneggers (he and Maria shop for groceries in the same store - well la-di-da). He is more of a Beach Bum than I am; he spends a lot of his time on the beach in Santa Monica (he’s friends with Bobby Shriver of the Kennedy Clan) and at Malibu Beach. He is still (mentally) living in the 1960’s and early 1970’s (he even continues to wear tie-dyed shirts). “Surf’s up, dude.”

In his letter he writes (among other things):

“Got your singing Christmas Tell-E-Gram. Nice to hear your single malt juiced, Marlboro cracked contralto. Slay-belles, my rectal obtrusion.” He was referring to me calling him on Christmas night and singing Winter Wonderland on his answering machine.

I met Greg when I was stationed at Kagnew Station in 1967. Someone had nicknamed him Lurch (because of the way he moved his head while making guttural sounds – just like the Addams Family character did) it stuck and to this day we all call him Lurch.

Lurch is an extremely intelligent person, but if you didn’t know him well you might think otherwise. To say that his sense of humor is a little off-center is a gross understatement.

The day that I met him he was crawling down the hall in the Barracks like a lizard. He did this to perfection. If a fly (and there were many flies in Ethiopia – we called them the National Bird) flew past he would try to zap it with his tongue. This was very impressive to say the least. He fit in well with us other nut cases.

Another sight gag that he preformed was the Fried Egg. He learned this from a guy nicknamed Waldo. Together he and Waldo would do variants of the Fried Egg, such as two over easy and a fried egg with bacon. Again, as with the Lizard, this was a true art form appealing to the minds of the demented. In fact, it was better then the fried egg on the anti-drug commercials (and that was a real egg).

He was also very proficient at shooting and killing flies with rubber bands. But he was best known for his putdowns of senior NCOs and Officers. He did this with class and finesse. The victim rarely realized what he was doing or actually saying to them. That was truly a gift.

Tonight I will drink a single malt scotch and smoke another Marlboro in his honor. And perhaps I’ll sing Winter Wonderland. It’s a good excuse for me to indulge in all of my bad habits.

The Beach Bum

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