Friday, June 29, 2007

Rich people behaving badly, or why America may need an “excess personal wealth” tax. Read these tales and retch.

In our last cranky post, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg was held up as an example of how one individual with too much personal wealth may be using his megabucks to skew an election.

If he either runs as an independent or plays “kingmaker” the will of America's voters is down the toilet. It won’t be whom you want – or what programs you want – that are decided in the Presidential election. It’ll be what Michaeal Bloomberg wants. Worst case scenario? Can you spell s-p-o-i-l-e-r?

Now from reports coming in from suburban Philadelphia and sunny Santa Barbara, some stories that show how a single overly wealthy individual or two can intrude directly, personally and – if some lawsuits hold up in court – damagingly into your own life.


The Philly Main Line case first. It has just begun to play out in the courts. I love it because this is no mere case of the rich picking on the poor. Nope, all this happens at a suburban private school where tuition currently goes to $23,000, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. As described in court papers, it seems like a case of filthy rich bullying that impacts the middle class and the moderately wealthy.

Let’s begin when a group of second grade parents at The Balwin School in Bryn Mawr tried to take out an ad in the school’s annual program honoring their kids’ teacher. It read, "We love you, Mrs. Tollin. Thank you for a wonderful year. Your second-grade class."

The ad was rejected by the school administration. But why?

Turns out, a rich land developer of resort properties, and his divorcing wife had been behaving like boors, the wife charging into school during classroom hours, according to the court complaint – screaming, shouting foul language, interrupting classes, and acting in such a frightening manner that one terrified little kid who had nothing to do with any of this ran and hid in a closet.

But again, why? Well, it all started when the land developer Michael Pouls, and his wife, Sheryl, demanded that the teacher become a diet monitor for their daughter, whom they said had been teased as being fat.

It escalated to the point where, according to the complaint, Mrs. Pouls “allegedly visited Tollin's classroom to ask her to intervene in the Poulses' marital problems and Tollin declined,” as the Philadelphia Inquirer tells it.

Next thing you know, Michael Pouls “complained that Tollin was singling out his daughter by focusing on what she ate at lunch. He told Tollin that he was the child's main caregiver, the suit says, and that she should take orders about her only from him,” according to the Inquirer story. Orders? Do your go to school and order your own kids’ teachers around? And was this teacher damned if she did and damned if she didn’t?

As the newspaper story goes on to tell, the daughter was moved into another class, something the lawsuit says was against the history and policy of the school. But Ms. Tollins could at least say “good riddance,’ right?



Some time later, “Sheryl Pouls allegedly stormed into a homeroom parents' meeting in Tollin's room and berated her for not saying hello to her daughter the day before.
“According to the suit, Tollin feared she was going to be assaulted and tried to move away. Sheryl Pouls followed, screaming epithets and shouting: ‘I want you fired or I'm taking my girls and my money out of this school!’ the complaint says. Other parents, it says, pulled the woman out of the room.”

Ah hah! Now we’re getting somewhere! What kind of money did the Pouls’ have “in the school?”

It appears according to the complaint to be a donation several million dollars, which would buy the school an athletic center with the Pouls’ name on it – one of many allegations the Pouls’ deny.

The Pouls, as you’ll read in the Philly Inquirer article, deny all of this, and claim they have evidence that in fact that Ms. Tollin is a bad teacher. But somehow, every time I read this my built-in bullshit detector begins to redline. If the teacher is the horror show that the Pouls say she is, why did the others parents take out an advertisement in praise of the teacher? And why did the school go to lengths to nix the ad?

If you read the full complaint, which I recommend that you do by cutting and pasting the URL below into your browser, I think you’ll find that it rings remarkably credible.

One might rationally come to the conclusion that the school’s headmistress has been kowtowing to wealthy donors who’ve been behaving like schoolyard bullies – at the expense of the school’s program, other students and reputation of the institution she heads. We don’t know that for a fact, however, because she’s not, uh, available for comment, according to the Philadelphia Bulletin. Why? Because she’s in Europe and unreachable. Yeah, right.

Start searching the caves, boys. She’s got to be there somewhere.


The whole issue raises other questions. For example, were the Pouls’ ¬attempting to draw their child’s teacher into their own divorce dispute? And were they blaming the teacher for their child’s weight problem when there clearly is either a dietary problem at home, or possibly a genetic disposition toward overweight?

I ask because my own research reveals that Michael Pouls has allowed himself to be a poster boy for the Pritikin Diet. You can check that out at this URL: 0511/trimFat.shtm

There you’ll learn how Pritikin helped him “lose 78 pounds,” reduce his waist size by quite a few notches, and confess, "I can recall being on Atkins and craving fruit — I needed fruit, but you can't have any fruit on Atkins."

Oh, the poor baby!

If you read nothing else, read the Philadelphia Inquirer article that seems to provide an executive summary of this tale of bullying, bad behavior, and the outrageous power of gross wealth.


In Santa Barbara, CA, Wendy McCaw, divorced from a celluar communications magnate, decided to use some of her 10-figure settlement money to buy a newspaper. Not a copy of a newspaper. The whole kit and kaboodle, from newsroom to printing press.

Reportedly she had no previous journalism experience but what the hay, what’s a billion bucks for if you can’t buy the stuff you want?

Shortly thereafter, all hell started breaking loose at her new toy, the Santa Barbara News Press.

The story of what publishing newcomer McCaw did with her billion or so bucks – from newspaper management to multiple law suits, to labor warfare, to going after beach lovers – is the best argument I’ve ever seen for higher tax rates on huge incomes and wealth accumulations. These should start with taxes on staggeringly high divorce settlements. Not to mention higher – not lower – inheritance tax rates on really, really big sums. And yes, as I just crankily mentioned, high taxes on huge incomes and private wealth accumulations. Enough so that wealth that encourages outrageous bullying can’t exist in private hands.

For some of the ghastly details, as reported by one of the people Sandra McCaw decided to sue for writing the report, go here:

And for updates on how things are going at the Santa Barbara News Press, check out this blog.

Oh, and did I mention that Dr. Laura Schlesinger dances in and out of this tangled tale, too? Here’s a “just the facts m’am” executive summary:

And, uh, one more thing. Keep your filthy feet off Ms. McCaw’s beach!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

If you like George Bush or Ralph Nader, you’re gonna love Michael Bloomberg pecking away at New York’s and America’s future. Here’s why.

The New York Times on Tuesday discovered what most of us who ride the city’s subways and busses have known for years: A ride during rush hour is torture.

There’s no room. No room on the platforms for more people. Platforms too short for longer trains. No more capacity to add more trains. Busses that pack people in like sardines (and send them flying like loose cargo if they don’t hang on tight enough during start-stop rides through Manhattan traffic.)

To quote the Times:

“From my point of view, this is scary,” said Howard H. Roberts Jr., the president of New York City Transit, who presented the data to members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board. “This is scary in the sense that right now, on a lot of these lines, we’re several years and a big capital construction project away from being able to provide what I consider adequate service. We’re constrained.”

Mr. Roberts said the data had particular significance in light of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal for a congestion pricing system that would charge most drivers who enter Manhattan below 86th Street — with the intent of moving people out of their cars and onto mass transit.

Not only can’t Manhattan handle a significant increase in transit passengers, neither can New Jersey, where Governor John Corzine is said to be stewing at what Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan would to do New Jersey Transit, already stretched to overcapacity.

So why is Michael Bloomberg pushing so hard for congestion pricing? One suspects it’s because he doesn’t give a damn for the consequences. He’s hellbent for doing something-or-other in the coming Presidential election, with pundits debating whether he’ll actually run, thus acting as a spoiler the way Ralph Nader did when he paved the way for the George Bush presidency. Or whether Bloomberg is simply trying to play “kingmaker” and decide who else will run, on what platform, in what party – specifics yet to be announced.

What a filthy misuse of his $5 billion fortune! In fact, what an argument for a 90% tax bracket on incomes over several millions of dollars a year and accumulated fortunes over $50 million, to make certain nobody can accumulate enough money to ruin an election that’s a life and death matter for Americans in uniform overseas, of retirement age at home, and in need of medical care anywhere in the nation.

Michael Bloomberg has rushed into congestion pricing the way George Bush rushed us into Iraq – without a timetable, without a damage assessment (or environmental inpact statement in New York's case)without a significant contingency plan other than “we’ll see if it works,” without a measurable standard for success, without regard to the millions of lives it will affect, without regard to the damage it will do to the economy of New York when the straw of ridership breaks the camel’s back and not only the new riders, but all riders, no longer can get to work on time.

If he really and truly wants to reduce traffic in New York, Michael Bloomberg has to start with a massive injection of money neither the city nor the state has to add subway lines, rebuild subway lines, lengthen platforms, put on more trains – and then, only then, start pricing ordinary drivers off the streets. He also ought to limit truck double parking and the way construction sites bleed over into the streets and eat up lane space. That could do a lot more to stop congestion that slamming some lowly commuters from Lyndenhurst with an $8 a day fee.

He could also do a few small things, such as encouraging cycling as an alternative means of transportation. (His plans mention walking, but never bicycles. No, he prefers to arrest cyclists on trumped up charges. Come to think of it, he’s been arresting young black mourners for walking together to a funeral, too.)

Right now, all Mayor Bloomberg is doing is turning the streets into speedways for his limo-riding friends, for whom an $8 charge is like eight cents to you and me. And if he has to add lots more of those big, space-eating, slow-moving busses to make up for the lack of subway capacity, he may actually add to the congestion.

Hey, what does Michael care? He’s making a “legacy” for himself. Or maybe a king. Or maybe a spoiled election. Whatev-urrrr.

Some of his supporters will rush to tell you he rides the subway himself.

Yeah? How often? And at what time of day? I get on at Lexington and 77th Street, same place as Bloomberg would get on if he takes the subway to City Hall from the station closest to his multi-million dollar private mansion. Funny, I never seen him on the platform. Not ever.

Hey fellow Lexington Avenue Line riders, how often have YOU seen Bloomberg on the subway? (I used to see the late former Mayor Abe Beame on the subway about once every month. He also boarded at Lexington and 77th and he was indeed a regular mass transit rider. Moreover, he was even shorter than Michael Bloomberg, which is saying something. So it’s not hard to believe that if Bloomberg rides the subway to work at rush hour, people would spot him there.) But finding Bloomberg on the subway at rush hour is about as likely as running into the tooth fairy.

Michael Bloomberg’s “legacy” will be stalled New Yorkers, a stalled economy as businesses flee the city so their workers can get to the office on time, frayed tempers, a worsening of quality of life here, and if the terrorists ever attack the subways, a higher body count.

Listen pal, if you get killed on the subway because of Mike Bloomberg, don’t run and tell me I didn’t warn you.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Hello, Oxymoron Central? I’d like to enroll The Epoch Times."

On the same gritty Garment District block where a spelling-challenged fortune teller advertises a “$5 speical” and promises to “put your mine at ease”…in the same rundown office building where The New York Crank plies his trade… you’ll find the New York office of The Epoch Times.

The Epoch whut?

It’s a giveaway newspaper that seems dedicated to headlining anything bad they can find about China (not a difficult task) and criticizing immigration laws that would limit the flow of Chinese immigrants – legal or otherwise – into the United States.

I suspect the paper is the propaganda arm of Falun Gong, an outfit that would easily qualify as a creepy religious cult if only Peking’s political bosses would stop arresting and brutalizing them, thus turning them from a nutcake movement into martyrs.

The Epoch Times is also the worst-written paper on the planet. It reads like a high school newspaper edited by B-minus students. It has the news and language sense of a stale piece of tofu.

They can barely give the paper away. It sits in hundreds of freebie newspaper boxes that litter the streets of New York – side by side with real estate magazine giveaways, neighborhood newsrags financed by classified sex ads, and offerings of one-night courses during which Donald Trump will explain to you the simple ABCs of making a billion dollars in real estate. (I wonder if he tells his audiences, “Start with a multi-million dollar real estate fortune you inherited from your father.”)

Usually, The Epoch Times’ headlines about scandalous happenings in China are written in such a perversely bland tone that they’re almost as funny as headlines in The Onion, a spoof newspaper that often goes like hotcakes in adjacent pieces of street furniture while The Epoch Times just sits there.

But the other day, I simply had to pick up an Epochal copy. The lead headline, top right, front page, read: “Man Caught Stealing Epoch Times.”

Hey dudes, it’s a FREE newspaper. How can you steal something the owners are begging you to take?

Well, if you read far enough into the story – seven paragraphs into it to be exact – you’ll discover that the unnamed man was taking these papers that The Epoch Times is trying to give away and then destroying them – same as what The Epoch Times people undoubtedly do themselves with all their uncirculated issues.

If you keep forcing yourself to read the article, there’s a not-so-subtle implication that "stealing" free newspapers is one of the highest priority missions of China's secret intelligence operations here in the United States.

Look, I don’t much like China. I think the people running and regulating the country are a bunch of mean bastards who’d poison your dog with tainted wheat gluten and your kid with lead-painted toys and then shrug it off as business-as-usual.

But with enemies like The Epoch Times, they really don’t have much to fear.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Melodrama in the Hamptons: Restaurant trashes Crank’s girlfriend. Manager "apologizes" with a farewell sneer.

I’ve already taken several swipes at annoying restaurant service, most recently here:

Usually, I don’t name names. I figure it’s not my business to start warning people about specific restaurants. Given enough time, most bad restaurants put themselves out of business anyway.

But a seafood dive called Before the Bridge in the Long Island town of Hampton Bays deserves special attention – and an Oscar for bad performance orchestrated by its person in charge.

Note: This is a unique review. There are plenty of favorable things getting said on the Internet about this house of horrors. For example, here:


See that picture above? That’s the top that the Crank’s girlfriend wore when we went to dinner at Before The Bridge. Except those wine stains weren’t there when we walked into the joint.

We were seated at a window, its venetian blinds drawn to keep out the sun. Keep this little detail about the blinds in mind as I tell the rest of the story.

Our waiter, a young, nice-seeming fellow, I would guess in his early 20s, asked us what we’d like to drink. I ordered a glass of Chardonnay. The Crank’s girlfriend ordered a glass of Merlot.


We waited. After a while, the waiter reappeared with two long-stemmed wine glasses balanced on a tiny tray. He set down the Chardonnay in front of me. Then he lost his concentration for a moment. His tray tilted. The red wine came crashing and splashing down to the table from a height of about three feet.

We were treated to a red wine shower. As you can see, the Crank's girlfriend was soaked with red wine. So were my pants. And so was her $500 cloth Prada handbag. (And don’t even think for a second it’s a knockoff. The Crank’s girlfriend doesn’t do knockoffs.)

To add insult to injury, the now-empty glass of red wine took a final bounce into my glass of white wine and knocked that one over too, spilling its untasted contents into my lap.

Soaking, we both jumped to our feet. The waiter seemed flustered. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m sorry. I’m, sorry. I apologize. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m really very sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Okay okay. We’re standing in a river of wine, and all the guy could do was sorry-sorry us to shreds. An alert diner at the next table knew what had to be done next. He handed us his own napkin to help us dry off a bit. It helped, but there’s only so much one napkin can absorb.

The waiter ran off. He returned with an entourage of wait-persons who began swabbing the table. And our chairs. And the floor. We were left to fend for ourselves.

“Send me the bill for dry cleaning your pants,” said the waiter, evidently not noticing the artful contribution he had made to the Crank’s girlfriend’s ensemble. “I’m sorry about this. I’m really sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”


Clearly, the guy had not been trained by his manager. Not on how to carry drinks to the table. Not on how to focus on the customer, rather than the puddles on on the table. Not on how to stop apologizing after the umpteenth time and get on with the situation at hand.

Through all of this the head guy – I’m not sure if he’s the owner or just a hired buffoon – stayed out of sight. That’s unusual, since I’ve eaten at Before The Bridge before and he’s usually all over the dining room. I couldn’t have missed him. His uh, remarkable girth has the same impact as the proverbial gorilla in the room. Come to think of it, make that an elephant.

In time, we got fed our dinner. “I can’t believe he’s just ignoring this,” the Crank said to his wine-soaked girlfriend.

“Don’t worry, he’s going to offer to comp the dinner,” she replied.

That wasn’t what I wanted, although a single line of apology from management and perhaps an offer of a complimentary dessert or after-dinner drink would have gone a long way to mollify our feelings.

Instead, we got about a half dozen more apologies from the flustered waiter combined with “How is everything?” queries, until I finally had to tell him, “Look, kid, stop apologizing and asking how everything is. Just stop it, okay?”


Eventually, the head guy did come over to our table – but only to pull up the venetian blinds that covered our window. While he was at it, he let the pull cord from the blinds drop in my plate and linger there.

“Hey, please don’t stick that dirty cord in my fish,” I complained.

He muttered something unintelligible and walked away.

That did it! By now smoke was coming out of my cranky ears. We finished dinner. This bill, before tip, came to $100.31. Yes, I tipped the waiter – not generously, but enough to let him know it wasn’t him I was feeling particularly cranky about. Then we walked to the bar, where the person-in-chief was now acting as bartender.

I told him what had happened.

“Your waiter apologized, but not a word of apology from you,” I said. “Not an offer of dessert, not even a cup of coffee. Nothing. Instead, you dropped the filthy pull cord from your blinds into my plate. And when I called your attention to that…”

“I thought you were only kidding,” he said.

Okay, folks. A restaurateur who simply assumes he’s blown a couple of customers so there’s no point offering a gesture of apology is one thing. Maybe it’s one thing even when he’s staring directly at their ruined clothing. But a slob who drops venetian blind pull cords into your food and either doesn’t notice it or thinks it’s a big joke is another thing entirely. Plus, the pull cord and the wine add up to two things.

If he believes that a frequently-used rope draped across your main dish is no big deal, and if he thinks disgruntled customers with ruined clothing are no big deal, I tremble to think about sanitation in his kitchen.


I crankily told him I was angered past all redemption and that I intended to blog about this experience.

“Have a nice summer,” he sneered as we walked out his door.

Fine. Never try to mollify a justifiably irked customer when you can sneer at him. If I had any doubts about posting this piece, his sneer nuked them into oblivion.

On the drive home to a different Hampton where the Crank's girlfriend's has a weekend retreat, we commiserated about the evening.

“Serves me right,” she said, in her wine-stained ensemble.

“For what?” I asked.

“For ordering red wine with fish,” she said.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What? A disastrous war in Iraq isn’t enough? Now he’s rekindling the cold war with Russia!

The casualty figures from Iraq are getting so bad it's easy to get a deep-down, bottom-of-the-gut sick feeling every time you look at them. Each day, more American kids are dead. For what? (More Iraqis are dying every day, too.)

The Iraqi civil war, whose existence once was denied by the administration, is now so bad that the locals are busy blowing up one another’s mosques. As one acquaintance of mine remarked, out of the side of his mouth, “Good thing they have us to persecute them, otherwise they’d spend all their time persecuting each other.”

So in the midst of this what do we need more than anything else? Right – renewal of the nearly forgotten cold war with Russia.

This new ham-handed tactic of ours springs from Boy George’s brilliant idea to place anti-missile missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic, former Iron Curtain satellite countries. The administration purports that the sole purpose of these missiles would be to shoot down Iranian nukes aimed at the United States. Only a few small problems with that one, starting with the fact that Iran doesn’t have ICBM capabilities.

Second small problem, even if Iran ever figures out how to make a nuclear ICBM: if a missile from Poland hits a nuke from Iran while it’s sailing over Russia, who gets nuked? Can you blame the Russians for feeling antsy? Shoot those missiles down over the ocean instead? Nah!

Third small problem: Imagine if Russia set up a weapons system only miles from our border in Mexico, claiming the anti-nukes were only there to shoot down Chinese missiles. Would we believe it? Would we allow it even if we believed it?

Vladimir Putin attempted to defuse the issue in a meeting with Boy George. Condoleeza Rice responded essentially by poking Putin in the eye. She changed the subject to Russia’s execrable human rights record. Two problems with that.

First, it’s a non-sequitur. Second, given our recent record for secret prisons, water torture and other human rights abuses, we seem to have the equivalent of a dungeon calling a Siberian salt mine black. (You’ll find URLS you can cut-and-paste to read more about Condi, Boy George and Putin below.)

Somehow, the Bush administration’s clever propensity for turning everything – absolutely every last damn thing there is – into a life-threatening disaster brings to mind an old song that once ridiculed a Democrat. Fortunately, it can be easily updated to describe the disaster that is George W. Bush and Friends.

President George Bush
Had brains made out of mush
He started fights with everyone
(“Just bring ‘em on,” he said)
And he said,
“You know I’m pro-life
“And so’s my lovely wife
“But we won’t be safe
‘Till everybody’s dead.”

P.S. Look, I know this is pathetic, but I still – after a year of blogging – haven’t figured out how to imbed links into text on my Mac. Sorry sorry sorry. So if you want to refer to the URLs below, just copy and paste them into your browser.

There’s plenty more where these come from, but you’re a big kid. I figure, if you’re still hungry for more after reading these, you’ll find ‘em on your own.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Go git ‘em Larry!

It may interest my friends who ply the direct response advertising trade to know that this ad by the publisher of Hustler Magazine is pulling responses like crazy.

The ad “has yielded about 200 tips so far,” Flynt said.

“He said he’ll let them continue to trickle in over the next two weeks or so before his team begins to follow up on them. ‘We’ll be lucky if we get 2 to 4 percent’ hard leads that could yield a payout,’ he said.”

I’m going to skip all the advertising shop talk about response rates versus conversion rates versus return on investment. All you need to know is that if Larry were selling life insurance by mail right now, he’d be doing great.

If Larry is telling it straight – and I sincerely believe that he is – we’ve got four to eight really juicy scandals coming.

Will they be Republicans or Democrats? Will they be pious Christian Coalitioners or closet atheists? Adult liasonists or pederast slimeballs? In S&M costumes or just plain nekkid?

Will they be getting it for free or paying for it? Straight or gay? And if gay, will they be openly gay members of Congress like Barney Frank? Or could we have a few really fun surprises coming, preferably in the White House cabinet or Dick Cheney’s or Alberto Gonzalez's office? Hey, come to think of it, what about lust with animals?

And will there be pictures? You know what I mean by “pictures” dontcha? Come to think about it, how about tape recordings of heavy breathing? Or videotapes?

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

"Sopranos" Producer David Chase Puts A Contract Out On His Audience

Somebody ought to talk to David Chase. With a pipewrench.

With the whole nation sitting up on Sunday night to see the grand finale of The Sopranos...with people making book on whether Tony gets hit or rats out his own people to the FBI to save his own hide...with eight years of loyal Soprano-watching audiences demanding a grand finale...

Chase pulled the ultimate copout.

Nothing happened.

Actually, it was worse than nothing. In the last few minutes of the last episode of The Sopranos, the screen suddenly went blank and silent.

Big joke on the audience. Get it? A lot of us went crazy thinking our TVs had suddenly died, or the cable company went kerflooie.

That's not drama. That's sadism. That's an attack, an attack against the very people who supported you and stayed loyal to you all these years

Film snobs may argue that Chase did that to let viewers come to their own conclusions, write their own ending.

I crankily declare that Chase is a little rat. No worse, he's a rat's turd. We paid our admission and he turned off the projector. That's the equivalent of putting a contract out on his own family.

So let me tell you what, David Chase. Don't come around my TV set no more. If I see you, if I see any program you're behind, it's dead. Got that? Dead. I'm going to blast it with my remote like it's a clay pigeon.

You're finished, Chase. You'll never eat calzone in this town again.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

More meat for conspiracy theorists: The Bush Administration, Condi Rice’s State Department, and those awful RFID passport delays

Look dude, let’s get this straight. I’m not saying there actually is a conspiracy. All I’m saying is, the news about Americans facing huge delays in obtaining passports could get you thinking like a conspiracy theorist. Got that? Thinking like one is all I said. Thinking.

The news?

The State Department suddenly finds itself facing an “unprecedented demand” for passports, after new U.S. Government rules require passports for citizens visiting Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico. Those are places where you used to be able to cross back and forth with nothing but your driver’s license and a smile.

I’m not saying this is wrong. Al Quaida and possibly some other nasty people are out to get us. We don’t want them slipping across the border with nothing but a bomb, a discount certificate for flying school lessons and a forged driver’s license.

But wait a second!

All you have to do is look at winter traffic to Cancun and the Caribbean to know that humongous numbers of people who once never bothered getting passports now will need them. Not to mention the tourists who want to enjoy Canda.

So why the delay? Why is the State Department telling Americans it will take “at least 10 weeks” to get a passport when it only used to take two? Why weren't they geared up for this?

Is it that the old Bush Administration incompetence again? Did they merely forget or fail to foresee that insisting more Americans carry passports would increase the demand for passports? I mean, duh!

Or is it…

CONSPIRACY THEORY #1: The Bush Administration doesn’t want Americans to leave the country.

Why? Maybe because we’ll find out how many foreigners have suddenly begun hating us since the Bushies began tearing apart all the good will America had built up over the years.


New passports will contain an RFID, which will enable the government to know where you and your passport are at any time.

According to the Bushies, “"The reason we are doing this is that it simply makes passports more secure…It's yet another layer beyond the security features we currently use to ensure the bearer is the person who was issued the passport originally."

Yeah, sure. How does the RFID know you’re who you say you are? Unless…

CONSPIRACY THEORY #2: While you were asleep, the government secretly and surgically imbedded an RFID in your brain that matches the one in your passport...

Nah! Forget that one. I’ve got better, based on the RFID in your passport.

Such as…

CONSPIRACY THEORY #3: The Bush administration is out to catch you doing sex tourism so they can throw your butt into the hoosegow.

Go to a bordello in Bangkok and Uncle Sam’s Big Brother will be watching via satellite and waiting to bust you. Or it could be…

CONSPIRACY THEORY #4: The Bushies are out to find out who’s a closet gay and out you.

Go to a gay bar, and suddenly the satellite tracking your RFID will beep a creep in the White House and the government will know exactly where you are. If you’re in the military, you didn’t tell. and nobody asked, you’re still no longer safe. Now they won’t have to ask. They’ll know you were in the bar where everybody wants to dance with Dave. If you’re a gay closet Dem, you’re dead political meat, so to speak. Not only that, but it could be…

CONSPIRACY THEORY #5: The government is checking out cheating spouses who say they’re traveling “on business.”

Check into a hot pillow joint with a chick and suddenly word creeps back to the Christian Coalition, which then e-mails your wife. Or maybe you get electronically reported to the CIA. Next you know, you get paid a visit by a shadowy CIA agent. He tells you, “We’d hate to have to tell your wife about that blonde, the orange thong you bought for her, and the strawberry-flavored whipped cream.

“So next time you visit Paris, we want you to go to such-and-such a mosque and start voicing sympathy with Al Qaida. Infiltrate them and report back to us. If you get caught, we will disclaim all knowledge of you. If they behead you, tough luck, Charlie. But don’t worry, we’ll make some feeble protest about your death after the fact.”

CONSPIRACY THEORY #6: It’s a way for the Feds to figure out who’s sneaking into Cuba.

The whole world’s allowed to visit Cuba, except us “free” Americans. Lots of Americans go anyway, via Canada or Mexico. The Cubans don’t stamp American passports. They simply stick a separate paper visa in your ID and off you go to see whatever Fidel hath wrought, and maybe to take a gander at an antique T-bird or ’54 Chevy. When you leave, you leave the paper visa, too.

A few years ago, at an open meeting of the New York Cycle Club in Manhattan, three different people put on slide presentations in one night about their bicycle tours of Cuba. During the Q&A session that followed, one smartass in the back of the room stood up and said, “You do realize, of course, that three members of the club work for the FBI and two are in the room tonight?” There was a lot of nervous laughter. A couple of guys hurriedly put away their pads and ballpoints.

No more, pal. A blood hound in the Hoover building down in D.C. will find you out faster than Lance Armstrong can race downhill on the Alpe de Huez. After which, refer back to Conspiracy Theory #5.

CONSPIRACY THEORY #7: The U.S. Government’s intentions are pure, but Al Qaida is planning to track the chips, single out Americans abroad, and kidnap us, blow us up, shoot us or behead us. And those sleeping-at-the-switch Bushies won’t figure it out until hundreds of us leave our noggins in Nuremburg or some other foreign locale.

CONSPIRACY THEORY #8: Las Vegas is going to change its advertising slogan. What happens there will no longer stay there. In fact, it will go straight into a dossier that has your name on it.

If you want to add a few conspiracy theories of your own, feel free to submit them.

Until then, happy travels.

Monday, June 04, 2007

What will I do if elected President? None of your damn business! says Fred Thompson. Just what we need. A King George IV wannabe.

The following is stolen verbatim from:

>>”Fred Thompson received a warm welcome at a fundraising dinner for the Virginia Republican Party over the weekend, offering up red meat — and little else — for the GOP faithful. Asked by a reporter afterwards what he would do as president, Thompson said, “Well, I’d do lots of things.” Asked if he was prepared to share some examples, he said, “No.”<<