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Gail Collins recommends that AZ lawmakers kill themselves

April 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Maybe not explicitly, but you tell me: who would survive what she suggested in today’s column?

Maybe some state senators from Arizona would like to come to New York and throw themselves over Niagara Falls to protest our lack of a budget.

But of course, it’s the Tea Party and those on the right whose incendiary rhetoric — “targeting” Democrats who voted for the health-care bill; putting bulls-eyes over their districts on websites — should be taken literally. Yes, the oft-used word “targeting” (not to be confused with Targeting, which I do sometimes with my wife and, while unrelated entirely to murder, is still somewhat affiliated with death — by boredom), which political folks use when they mean they’ll focus more money and efforts on upsetting elected officials, really means, you know, murder. Palin wants to murder the Dems who voted for the health-care bill — or, at least, is insinuating as much, or tacitly endorsing those who might be kooky enough to read between the lines. Right.

But when Gail Collins gets rhetorical — in this instance, by recommending that legislators she disagrees with throw themselves off the largest water fall in North America — of course she’s only kidding, silly!

And really, she is. I know that; the right knows that; her faithful and like-minded readers know that (some of whom are possibly disappointed that she’s not serious). But when our folks use such nasty words like “target”? Well, suddenly we lose our sense of irony and sarcasm and forget that most words have multiple meanings and twists that depend on context. And then we forget that when people suggest targeting (i.e., murdering) elected officials, we probably ought to ignore them. So we go out and murder people, which you all have seen in the news lately — you know, all the people who voted for the health-care bill, they’re dead. Because conservatives are that dumb.

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Breaking news: the skies are safe

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

To just about everyone who pays attention at the airport and flies often enough to see the idiocy of both TSA policy and individual TSA agents not as the exception but as the general rule (to which there are probably exceptions), the following true story will be boring.

We’ve all seen the kind of TSA agent I’m about to describe. Self-important. Officious. But at least polite, even if patronizingly and perfunctorily so. And obviously the biggest geek in his high school. You know exactly who I’m talking about (at least 6o% of TSA agents).

This guy — let’s call him Neil, as in Neil Diamond, the King of Cool, ya ask me — was standing alongside the security line, blankly staring at the ground as he twirled his hand-test swabber-thingamajig (it looked like a mini toilet-bowl cleaner) for at least a good minute.

I admit, it was fun to watch — it felt for a moment like I was enjoying one of those Cirque de Soleil fruitballs that dance as they twirl a colorful ribbon (for the record, I’ve never been to one but have seen the commercials — oh, and there’s an Olympic event that incorporates these fine ribbon routines too), the only minor difference being it was only a frumpy tool in a blue uniform who I guess wasn’t in the mood to dance. I was sucked in; it was rather fun and mezmerizing the way the toiletbowl cleaner twirled. But I came out of it and was starting to wonder why this guy didn’t make himself useful by opening another security line to speed things up when he, too, snapped out of his trance quickly, as if he heard me thinking, clearly remembering he had a job to do: act like an officious tool protecting us from terrorists.

He surveyed the line and picked a gum-smacking young lady in front of me and said, “Ma’am, please hold out your palms so I can test them,” and then wiped her hands with the toiletbowl cleaner and walked back a few yards to his little machine. When he left it, chuckling about something or other with his TSA compadre, I breathed a sigh of relief that likely the only thing on the college kid’s palms was residue from her Bubble Yum. I said to her, “Well, I’m relieved: the friendly skies are safe; you’re not a terrorist.” Her boyfriend replied, “Oh, that’s, not it: it’s psychological,” meaning, I assumed, that the agent wasn’t looking for terrorists at all but was instead intimidating them by testing people we can all be safely sure in surmising are decidedly not terrorists.

Spoken like a good, dutiful liberal, right? But anyway.

Then our fearless public servant Neil surveyed the line again and picked a white, 30-something mother of at least three children, who were with her and her husband, and asked her to hold out her palms for the toiletbowl cleaner.

I’m on my flight, and it goes almost without saying that I feel completely safe from those who might have plotted to take the plane down, but who likely left the security line as a result of the “psychological” defenses this great nation has erected to thwart their dastardly plans.

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Cutting in line. At 50. Honestly?

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

At Reagan National Airport, there were three security lines that ran parallel to one another. It was a pretty busy Saturday — the lines were much longer than they typically are during the week, but perhaps normal for a Saturday, though I wouldn’t know because I rarely travel often on Saturdays.

Anyway, all three lines turned hard right toward the TSA agents, the third one much sooner than the first and second, both of which went along for another 30 feet or so before turning toward their respective TSA agents. Well, between the middle line and mine — I was in the third — the rope-tape that separated the lines — you know the kind that rolls up into the poles — all of a sudden opened up right at the point where the our line turned toward its TSA agent.

I listened to a female passenger discuss, loud enough for me to hear a good ten feet behind her, this oh-so-fortuitous opening. It must have been by design! she’d decided aloud to her flying companion. So, whereas the people in front of her in Line #2 were all filing along in their own line for the rest of the stretch, likely assuming, like everyone else with either a brain or a conscience or both, that the missing rope was not, in fact, an invitation to cut the people in Line #3. She figured this single opening in a 50-foot-long line must have been an invitation to merge — literally merge, she said, she used that word — into the third, shorter line.

A few others started to follow suit, and while I’d remained somewhat stunned by the first woman’s rationalization of cutting dozens of people, I finally snapped to and told the people that, no, sorry, but a broken link in the ropes that divide the lines doesn’t signal a merge, that the woman who got this all started was just looking for an excuse to cut in line.

It’s quite incredible, the human mind — the capacity we have to rationalize evil behavior … oh, and minor, harmless, but very telling, rationalization and self-justification like the lady who cut us in line yesterday at Reagan engaged in.

Categories: Uncategorized

The new and scary culture of debt

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

This article on Greece’s debt is scary for a few reasons. The growing and insidious new debt culture is going to get very dangerous for all of us very soon. It’s got a few different facets, but two of its main ones are apparent all over.

The first facet is characterized by the Greek situation; in effect, this Greek lawmaker is telling Germany, “You owe us. Why? Because you’re better off than we are. And if you disagree, we’ll make you feel really bad about the Holocaust.” Somehow the world latched onto the notion that those with means owe those who lack them. It’s not hard to see how this mindset is unsustainable, as a matter of practicality, not to mention how destructive the moral component of this will be to all of us at some point. As a matter of practicality, the rich simply don’t make enough to pay the poor’s way; as a moral matter, the human soul and the society made up of them cannot thrive if it is convinced that need justifies reaching into another man’s pockets, whether he wants your hands in there or not.

The second facet of this new debt culture is a rampant thought process we here in the U.S. are now very familiar with; in effect, struggling homeowners have been saying: “I shouldn’t have to pay you back, because I was in need when you loaned me the money and therefore you exploited me.” The “therefore” is key; the exploitation follows the need necessarily and by definition. Needing the money and having it loaned to you by definition means you were exploited, almost no matter the terms. You wanted the home, you couldn’t afford it at prime rates, so you took a subprime loan and therefore you were exploited and no longer need abide by the loan’s terms. Forget that Google was pretty powerful stuff — even back in 2005 when you bought a home worth 10 times more than you make in a year! — what matters now is that you weren’t smart enough, or you were too desperate, to do a simple web search to find out just how hot a poker up the ass an ARM loan could be for you at some point. No, siree, Bob, this is all the lender’s fault. Not because the contract was illegal. But because you simply don’t want to pay anymore.

A third facet is the — of course — liberal notion of third-world debt “forgiveness.” I love that term: forgiveness. See how, through its use, the idea of abandoning one’s financial obligations is lent an air of religiosity while simultaneously flipping the moral equation? These countries needed the money, they accepted it as a loan, and now, what, to hell with the lenders? To hell with the obligations lenders were hoping to pay with the money they were supposed to get from the “forgiven” debtors? Does that mean the lenders now can go to their lenders and say, “Hey, country, you need to ‘forgive’ my debt, because that other country forced me to ‘forgive’ its debt and now I can’t pay you”? How is this sustainable?

Who the hell is going to issue debt to anyone — whether to a country or an individual — if, at some point in the future, all the debtor has to do is band together with other similarly indebted citizens or nations and successfully convince the Powers That Be that their cause — not repaying money they don’t feel like paying back — is just?

At some point, people will stop lending and you could hardly blame them. Or they’ll raise everyone else’s interest rates to offset the money stolen — that’s right, I said it! — by those who’ve been “forgiven.” Because contrary to what most liberals think, this isn’t play money — it has to come from somewhere. Raising interest rates would, of course, raise the level of disdain for these usurious bastards who dare offer loans.

So looky here — what the rich need to do — and let’s compromise with the Democrats and call “the rich” anyone who makes more than $250,000 a year — is band together a la Atlas Shrugged and stop producing altogether. Shut down their loans. Close down their banks. Shutter up their businesses — or hey, maybe let those who make $249,999.99 a year or less figure out how to run them. Stop their tax-paying. That’s right, no more of that evil capitalism in this thankless world. Let’s just see how the rest of us get along without them.

But this would be stupid and wouldn’t change how liberals and their dependent constituency think, because no doubt the rich would then be pilloried for deciding to join the poor, worthless, unproductive ranks of the succubi who brought them down.

Categories: Uncategorized

Super Bowl ads

February 8, 2010 Leave a comment

There were some pretty good commercials during last night’s Super Bowl. The one with Betty White was clever. I didn’t catch even half of them, though; I was too busy eating and chatting with friends. But I noticed two trends: (1) not very funny or clever and (2) lots of celebrities. I guess I noticed a third trend: (3) commercials with celebrities that weren’t very funny or clever. It’s as if, instead of writing creative and funny ads, they said, Hey, let’s just write a script and pay the premium to get a celebrity to deliver it! Stuff’s always funnier when famous people say it! Except that isn’t really true and it wasn’t last night.

It used to be that most Super Bowl commercials were great, or at the very least that you could count on at least one good one per commercial break. But over the last couple years, viewers have had to work to sift out the good ones. Same goes for TV shows and movies.

Good writing — even and perhaps especially of comedy — requires a decent education, don’t you think? The best writers are able to pull from and synthesize multiple sources, whether historical, social, or cultural. It requires more than well-developed funny bone.

My hunch is that most of today’s ad and sitcom writers are about my age; they’re either members of Generation X (my generation) or they’re Millennials. Both generations, even more so than that of the Baby Boomers, are characterized by a strong sense of me-me-me-it’s-all-about-me. I wouldn’t be surprised if many writers today think something like the following: I was hired because of me! I’m funny! I’m hilarious! I don’t need to work at this; who needs to work at comedy writing or cultivate their comedic skills? Not me! Because I’m funny! I don’t need to be culturally well-rounded or well-versed in the comic arts. I don’t need to study good comedy or learn what works and what doesn’t because I’m me! Just give me a Macbook Pro and I’m gonna have you ROTFLOL’ing! Because, did I mention I’m funny and that it’s because I’m me? And if they haven’t quite articulated it that way, it’s probably only because they aren’t introspective and haven’t sat down long enough to figure themselves out (hey, only old people navel-gaze).

But what do I know.

Categories: Uncategorized

Obama “calls for new spending”

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Washingtonpost-dot-com headline this morning doubles as the understatement of the year. It’s only Feb 2, granted.

Categories: Uncategorized

Obama reverses course on Gitmo detainees

January 22, 2010 Leave a comment

I thought Obama’s opposition during the campaign to the indefinite detention of terrorists in Gitmo was categorical. I guess I was wrong. (That’s my passive-aggressive way of saying he was wrong.)

Categories: Uncategorized