Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wanna get plugged full of bullet holes in a murderous and panicky crossfire? Hoo hoo! Does a chiropractor-turned-gun-school-guru have a bank for you!

Dr. Ignatius Piazza owns a firearms handling school where he is the…umm, well let’s call him a headmaster. He sells his courses and a bunch of other things, including political opinions and e-mail lists of his subscribers. Sign up for e-mail from him, as I did a couple of years ago, and you’ll start getting not only "Only five days left!" promotions to to attend his courses, but also communications addressed to “Dear Patriot” if not to your first name, from a variety of right wing causes, crazies, and fundraisers. For example, I’ve been getting a fairly steady stream of nonsense recently from Rand Paul.
Hey, it’s a free country. And it doesn’t hurt, I suppose, to teach firearms handling to people who already have firearms. It’s the political horsefeathers that come with Piazza’s appeals to improve my gun skills that get my goat. (For the record, I was trained on the .45 caliber Colt pistol, the now long-outmoded  M-1 Rifle, and the equally outmoded 30-caliber Browning machine gun, decades ago in my military days. I haven’t touched a firearm since.)
Recently, I got an e-mail from Piazza praising the Chappell Hill Bank in the town of Chappell Hill, Texas. For what? For encouraging its customers to walk into the bank packing iron, including concealed iron – licensed concealed iron, of course. Piazza even included a newspaper article quoting the bank president, Ed Smith: “No damn yankee is going to tell us what to do.”

Well, Ignatius, Ed, I'm truly grateful to both of you. I think it’s just marvelous that you warned me. Personally, now that I know the bank’s rules,I think I’ll do my banking someplace else. I can see the scene:

Robber walks into that Chappell Hill bank, yanks (no pun intended) yanks out a gun, and announces a stickup. From various corners of the bank, twenty customers and tellers (who are also encouraged to carry heat) start firing. If you happen to be somewhere in the middle of the bank floor, say on the way to make an inquiry of a teller, or to see a bank officer about refinancing your underwater mortgage, do you know what you are?

Right. You’ll be delicious with a couple of slices of ham and some mustard on rye bread.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Less-than-full disclosure: the Romney dribble-down theory

[NOTE: This post was published about an hour before the Romney 2011 tax return was actually published. None of the facts referred to below were changed by the release.]

So now, presumably because Willard is getting sucked into the backdraft of the Obama campaign’s opinion poll gains, Willard is going to release more of his Federal tax return information,  

Anyway, that’s what I get from a blog piece by Michael D. Shear at the New York Times.

Well, not really releasing all that much tax information. Romney will only reveal all of his 2011 return this afternoon (Friday), an afternoon when attention to the news typically tends to dwindle for the weekend. 

Of course, by last year he already knew he was a presidential candidate, so he was no doubt keeping his nose – and his manipulations, and his dribbling faucet – relatively clean anyway.

But not to worry. Willard’s going to supply a letter from his accountant that will summarize his tax liabilities since 1990, says the Shear blog piece in the Times. Heaven forbid we get the information clean and pure and straight. No way, serf. A summary will do for you and me.

But don’t get too cocky about Romney’s information about his taxes dirbbling out a drop or two at a time. Although it may sound to you and me like yet another slow motion gaffe, he may not be driving a nail all that deeply into his own brain.

Robert Reich, on his own blog, offers “Four Reasons Why Romney Might Still Win,” and to tell you the truth, what Reich says scares me.

Take note, please: whoever loses this election will lose it partially on complacency. So if you’re pro-Obama like me, stay alert. The election's not in the bag yet. Alas.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Excuse me, Mr. Romney, but you make half of America want to puke

So now comes word that Mitt Romney has decided that 47 percent of Americans are just a bunch of freeloaders who think we’re “entitled” to healthcare, a modest retirement, maybe even to live.

And after the word leaked out, he wouldn’t take it back. (Not that I’d believe him if he did.)

Mr. Romney, the deductions for Social Security and Medicare from your staggeringly huge paychecks may have been so small in comparison to your earnings that you didn’t notice, sir, but we paid for those entitlements, as did our employers. We paid week after week, year after year, decade after decade. We paid premiums for Social Security. We paid premiums for Medicare. And we have every right in the world to collect what we paid for.

If a con man charges me tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for insurance premiums, and then says to me, “Hey, sorry, but you’re a dependent freeloader and you're not entitled to collect on your insurance,” I will call the cops. I will get him sent to jail. He’s a crook. He’s another Bernie Madoff.

So Mr. Romney, when you make it clear that you intend to pull the same stuff if you become president, you’ve also made it clear what you are.

And perhaps “crook” or “another Bernie Madoff” is too mild a characterization.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pax Americana marches on. (Mitt Romney, please take note.)

When I was a young kid and went to Europe for the first time, France really was a foreign country. Today, not so much.

Although my knowledge of French is better than fair and Frenchmen praise my accent, I often find it difficult to speak French in Paris. The minute Parisians discover I'm an American, they want to practice their English on me. And their English, for the most part, is remarkably good.

Some years ago, I visited Paris and discovered that McDonald's had established a Parisian beachhead. Well, several beachheads, actually. The French even have their own take on the name of the hamburger chain. They call it "McDo." (Pronounce that, "Mac-Dough.")

A few years later I came back and suddenly Starbucks was planting its flags around Paris. Why anyone in Paris would want to stand in line for a paper cup full of coffee, often not as good as the ubiquitous "express" or a latte-like "cafe creme" (the real stuff, in a real cup) escapes me, especially since you can simply sit down at a table and have a waiter bring it to you for roughly the same price. But hey, Starbucks, the French think, is American-style, so the French like it.

This year, on the square facing the Sorbonne, I looked up and, lo! The Gap had just invaded, not only in the ancient Latin Quarter, but, as I discovered walking around town, in several other locations around Paris.

I bring this up largely for the sake of a simple political moral. When you're at peace with a country, there's a good chance they'll learn to like you and adopt some of your ways. There's a whole lot to like about America and most people, left to their own devices, really want to like us.

On the other hand, start using strident language, or rattling your saber, or threatening what sounds like war before you're even certain of what the situation is, and pretty soon Americans start getting killed. Especially if some idiot makes a film whose sole intent seems to be to insult Muslims for the hell of it.

So Mitt, if you shut your fat, dangerous mouth and stop saying whatever pops into your head in the hope that somehow that'll get you elected, we may sooner or later get somewhere with the Muslim world.

Or does the prospect of more innocent Americans lying dead in foreign streets not bother you, so long as you get elected President?

Thursday, September 06, 2012

I'm off to a short vacation, but first, a quick hurrah for the Democratic women

I'll be gone for a little over a week, returning to my old haunts in Paris, this time, as many of you can guess, alone. Paris won't be the same without my late and wonderful, and very beautiful girlfriend. Every day I shared with her was one of the best days in the universe.

But I can't go without a shout out to  the fabulous speeches at last night's Democratic nominating convention.

I'm talking about Lilly Ledbetter, Elizabeth Warren and especially Michelle Obama. Each of them, in her own distinct and anything but plastic way, was a national inspiration.

And of course, to the one man who stood out head-and-shoulders, bless you Bill Clinton.

To paraphrase — way, way paraphrase — an ancient historic text, when the Republicans spoke, everyone said, "How eloquently they speak." But when the Democrats spoke, the crowd rose up, prepared to march to the polling booths and assure Barack Obama of another four years.

Will it really happen in November? Was Bill Clinton's speech, on the heels of the moving and inspiring women enough? I can't predict the future. But I will sleep better at night knowing they have been heard.

See you all mid-September.