So a Republican in New Jersey is running for office and his opponent is an honest, uncorruptible guy. So whaddya do?
Swiftboat him, is what. Lie through your damn teeth. For a desperate Republican candidate like Baby Kean, truth is no obstacle. Slime and smear the opposition.
No wonder more and more Americans are coming to the conclusion that Republican = Liar. Here's the story:
Friday, June 30, 2006
So a Republican in New Jersey is running for office and his opponent is an honest, uncorruptible guy. So whaddya do?
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Sport moneymaking is like sport trout fishing. Unfortunately most of the fishermen eat (or mount) what they catch.
So Warren Buffett has announced that he’s turning most of his $44 billion-or-so fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where it’ll do lots of good. [See: http://money.cnn.com/2006/06/25/magazines/fortune/charity1.fortune/index.htm]
I’m truly glad to hear the news. But I would have been even happier if the U.S. Government had already taxed away most of that money and put it to work for purposes that the public had directly or at least indirectly voted for.
And no, I don’t have it in for Warren Buffett. Among the world’s billionaires and multi-multi-millionaires, he’s the best of a thimbleful of good guys.
Buffett made his money by thinking smart and talking straight. I wouldn’t be surprised if deep down he believes in higher taxation for the superrich himself.
It's a delight breezing through the annual reports from Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company he heads. There’s none of the puffery and obfuscating gobbledygook that characterizes most annual reports that try to downplay obscene salaries for top execs while the stockholders take a bath.
When Buffett occasionally blows it, he says he blew it, no excuses. When the future outlook is grim, he says it’s grim. When he brings home the bacon, he does so with a convincing joie de vivre that tells the world he’s making money essentially for the sheer joy of it. Making money is his sport.
Now he’s now throwing back what he caught, like a good sports fisherman. But far too many of his co-billionaires seem intent on keeping as much money for themselves as they can.
Their greed glands are hyperactive. Their idea of fun is in knowing they have tons of money and you don’t. Often their technique for getting their rocks off involves taking the money from someone else – through reverse income distribution disguised as “tax simplification,” firing the employees (remember the CEO known as “Chainsaw Al?”) stiffing the stockholders, or some other ruse.
Inheritance taxes? They whine and call it a “death tax.” Baloney, pal. There is no tax on death and never was. That’s a Republican lie, designed to rile you up so you’ll favor laws that essentially rip off America. The only tax is on inheritances over $2,000,000. Thanks to a Republican Congress, even that’s on the verge of going up in a puff of smoke. [http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0627/p01s05-uspo.html]
The consequence is, the filthy rich get filthier, while the average slob struggles to keep his head above water.
Thank you, Warren and Bill, for at least being good sports.
As for the rest of you megabucks scrooges, go jump in a vault.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
They call it “consumer education.” Suicide education is more like it.
I’m talking about drug company advertising that in effect tells you to run out and demand your doctor give you whatever the marketing department of Big Drug Dealer Inc. wants you to buy – from Fossamax to Flomax to Zocor to Cialis. So what’s wrong with that? Plenty.
Patients come in to doctors offices asking for drugs that may not be the most appropriate or the most cost-effective for what ails them, assuming anything at all ails them except advertising-induced hypochondria.
Doctors who can only afford to give patients 10 or 20 minutes worth of time during an office visit thanks to HMO limits on how much they get paid per patient – another bugaboo of mine – may not have the time to explain why a 99 cent roll of antacid tablets may be just as effective for your heartburn as a megabucks prescription for, say, Nexium, or that the 99 cent antacid roll is a whole lot safer.
For example, the ads that encourage you to demand Nexium don’t tell you this:
“A single oral dose of esomeprazole [Nexium] at 510 mg/kg (about 103 times the human dose on a body surface area basis), was lethal to rats. The major signs of acute toxicity were reduced motor activity, changes in respiratory frequency, tremor, ataxia, and intermittent clonic convulsions.” [Full details here: http://www.rxlist.com/cgi/generic3/esomeprazole_od.htm]
The law requires corporate drug pushers to warn you of “contraindications” and side effects, even if the pushers are allowed to do so in non-scary language. But now some of the pushers are out to change the law.
I mean, what the hell business is it of yours if something they’re encouraging you to take might kill you?
Now, they’re not arguing to take all the warnings off. They just want to limit the warnings to five, even if a drug has six or eight ways to kill you or make you sick that you might want to be aware of before you swallow it.
The beauty part is, those corporate drug pushers are demanding the right to keep you un-informed in the name of “consumer education.”
According to a recent article in Advertising Age: “"Trying to communicate more than five risks appears to negatively impact the consumer's ability to remember and comprehend the information presented," said AstraZeneca's senior director-consumer marketing, Don Apruzzese, who first presented the study in late April at the sixth annual DTC National Conference in Washington.”
In other words, AstraZeneca thinks you’re too stupid to understand a whole lot of warnings. Just shut up and swallow the pill because the ads tell you to. (You’ll find the full story here: http://adage.com/article?article_id=110076)
Good luck -- and watch out what you swallow.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Why you're strapped for cash, your stock holdings are down, your job got shipped to Bombay and America needs a 97% tax bracket for incomes over $2mil
Monday, June 19, 2006
Look, there are mistakes and then there are mistakes. Anybody can commit a typographical error. Even me.
I mean, occasionally, when I’m writing this blog, my fingers go all loosey-goosey and I klj ertggnhsnf kslr ;pots fo erui timsokfs.
Okay, I did that on purpose. But most of the time at least I give proofreading a try. Most people don’t want to look ignorant. Especially business people. It puts off the public.
So you’d think a “psychic” who can see into the future could at least see into a dictionary and learn how to spell “special.”
No such luck. The psychic on the low-rent block where I rent an office has a sign out in the street that says she's offering a “speical.” You got it. "Speical." Sounds like some really terrifying surgical tool used by doctors who specialize in unmentionable orifices. “Get me a large speical, Nurse Ratchit, this thing needs prying open.”
Well, what can you expect? When you rent an office on a low-rent Manhattan block, the way I do, you get low-rent neighbors. That how I got a spelling-bee-flunkout-turned-spirit-medium.
Wish I could give you her name, but she doesn’t advertise her name. Recently, she yanked off the street a sign that had been there telling passers-by she could “put your mine at ease.”
I guess that after the coal mine explosions some months back, somebody tipped her off that she was raising the wrong topic. So she put out her new sign. No more mines. But her “$5 speical” is still there.
I guess if you can’t learn the rules or pronounce a word correctly, you can’t be expected to spell it correctly.
Consistently bad spelling and pronunciation is a symptom of bad thinking, especially in this era of spell-check computers.
Consistently bad spelling and pronunciation indicates that you are so arrogant, you don’t care what an authoritative source like a dictionary is telling you because you think you know better.
Consistently bad spelling is an indicator that you don’t want to be bothered by the facts.
Is there a point to this? Yeah, two of them actually.
1. Never trust a medium who can’t spell. Or one who can, for that matter.
2. Never trust a President who can’t pronounce “nuclear.”
Friday, June 16, 2006
Why America desperately needs the return of commie pinko slimeballs – in Russia, or China or some other far-away place.
Call it the boogeyman theory.
When fear of communism was the modus operandi of the lunatic right, the average American citizen got a pretty good deal out of official paranoia. Trust me, I grew up during that period.
Yeah yeah, once a week we had to put our arms over our heads and dive under our school desks as the teacher yelled, “Take cover!” That kooky exercise was supposed to keep Russian nukes from zapping us into little cinders. We knew it wouldn’t work and we were scared that Russkie nukes really might be on the way, but so what? It never happened.
Yeah yeah, we also had Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. They spent lots of time and money making noise while they made sure that nothing subsersive got injected into Doris Day’s mouth and then splattered all over the silver screen via some Hollywood pinko screenwriter’s pen. Yes, that gave some people the icy shivers.
I still say, so what?
In return we got something that kept America rich, happy and healthy. We got a pair of bad examples that nobody wanted to look like – communist Russia and communist China. And that was wonderful.
For example, we learned stuff like this in school:
• In Russia the state makes and sells everything. In Moscow there’s only one department store, called GUM, and it’s a lousy store selling shoddy goods. America lots of privately owned businesses competing with each other and that gives us lots of choice. Good thing we're not commies.
• In Moscow, there’s no decent affordable housing unless you’re a commie party bigshot living in a dacha. The rest of the poor slobs live crowded together in ugly communal apartments with curtains between the living quarters of different families. But in America, we devise tax and mortgage lending laws that enable the average guy to easily own his own home. Good thing we're not commies.
• In America you can pick any doctor you want. In Russia, you go to the doctor they tell you to see, and that doctor isn’t allowed to do much for you. That’s why we’ll never turn medicine over to a bunch of bureaucrats. Good thing we're not commies.
It went on and on, with invocations of people standing on line for stale bread and fixed “elections” that looked like the real thing but weren’t and more. You get the idea. Commies were the bad guys, we were the good guys, and that’s why we had all the good toys and the good lives.
Unfortunately, instead of a terrifying monolith, Communism turned out to be a house of limp cards. In was inept, unresponsive and incompetent and eventually it fell of its own weight. That’s unfortunate, because that left us boogeyman-less.
(Yeah, I know all about Al Chaida. But Al Chaida isn’t an economic and political model. It’s a movement of religious madmen who already look too much like our own religious madmen. We don’t want people too closely comparing them and the Republican right wing. And now back to Russian Communism.)
Since Communism fell, we no longer point derisively at one-GUM Moscow. Big city department stores have been vanishing like Houdini’s menagerie of rabbits. When Russia had communism, New York had Gimbels, Peck & Peck, A&S, B. Altman, Rogers Peet, May’s, Sakes 34th Street, S. Klein’s, EJ Korvette's and Sterns --all now gone, gone, gone.
Meanwhile Wal-Mart and K-Mart and other GUMS of capitalism, are pecking away at our municipal real estate around the nation.
No housing in Moscow, except for bigwigs in dachas? The day I sit writing this, The New York Times reported that housing is getting tighter and tighter for New Yorkers of “modest means” – say working stiffs like firemen and policemen. Researchers found that the number of apartments affordable to 80 percent of the median household income in the city, has dropped by 205,000 in just three years. That's in a city of over eight million people. Lotsa luck finding an apartment. Maybe you can put up a curtain in the living room and share with another family.
Meanwhile, if you’re a bigwig, finding an apartment is no problem. Sure, it might cost you two, or three, or twelve million bucks, but what’s a few million among top corporate bureaucrats?
Pick any doctor you want? Oh please, please, please do tell that to your HMO!
The sad fact is, ever since the slimebag bogeyman of communism drowned itself in its own bathtub, the American corporate and political version of the old commissars has been crawling out of the sewers and stealing from you and me left and right.
You can even get roundly ripped off if you’re a small capitalist. Just ask the stockholders who own shares of companies where the CEOs pay themselves $30 million, $60 million, $160 million or more of their stockholders’ money whether the company performs or not.
Who’s reigning them in? Not our Republican government, which re-arranged the tax system to make sure corporate crime pays. Not the boards of directors, who are either idiots or in on the scam. Who are you going to rely on to uncover all this thievery? Katie Couric?
A 97% tax bracket on incomes over $2 million would of course help, by making the theft-by-compensation of, say, $25,000,000 a year in corporate funds hardly worth the effort. In the days when communism was hiding under the bed, CEOs couldn’t really legally steal for a living. They had to pay their stockholders and their employees well so we could show how much better our own system was than communism.
That left precious little to “incent” CEOs to rob everybody else blind, especially when there was a 50 percent income tax bracket. The CEO business attracted people who wanted to lead and innovate. Today, it just attracts greedy thugs who mainly want to get rich.
Making sure the Ken Lays of the world spend the rest of their lives in the clink would of course help – even if the occasional squishy Scrushy squiggles through the net and gets to live happily ever after on his questionably gotten gains.
But the best cure for what ails America today would be to bring back the bad example that nobody wanted to be compared to. So I say nuts to bad examples like Al Chaida. I support the return of a big, evil and highly unpopular communist Russia.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I’m getting fed up, fed up, fed up – that’s very, very intensely fed up -- with the manipulative lie, subscribed to by both sides of the illegal immigration controversy. I'm talking about the lie that illegal immigrants are working at "jobs nobody else will do.”
What's people usually have in mind when they discuss this are jobs that range from house painting, to rearing other peoples’ children, to picking fruit.
Americans wonj't take them? What a bunch of unmitigated baloney!
Americans will do those jobs willingly. They just won’t do them for the minimum wage or less.
Pay $20 an hour with health benefits and you’ll have American-born fruit pickers (and legal immigrants) climbing over your fences to climb your fruit trees.
Pay up that to $50 an hour and you’ll have citizen Ph.D candidates in psychology and early childhood education begging to wipe your kids’ noses and change their stinky diapers.
Pay a living wage with overtime and decent medical and retirement benefits and you’ll have proud Americans in all kinds of businesses and service industries who smile, really try to help you, and take the initiative in solving your problems instead of running from trouble.
There would be no jobs for illegal immigrants. U.S. citizens and legal immigrants would fill them all.
One of the reasons nothing works in this country any more – why you get lost in Pushbutton Hell when you call a company with a problem, for example – is that big business is looking to raise profits by cutting costs. Sometimes they cut costs by exporting jobs to Bombay. Sometimes they cut costs by replacing people with machines that make you waste your time pushing buttons. Sometimes they cut costs by exploiting illegal immigrants.
Both political parties in this country have allowed work to be done on the cheap by “undocumented workers.” The Republicans are worse than the Democrats, but do try to remember the “Zoe Baird problem,” that a couple of Clinton Administration nominees had. Both pro- and anti-illegal sides of the immigration controversy are pushing the myth that illegal immigrants are only taking jobs Americans don’t want. It's all a huge wagon load of stuff that supposedly only illegal immigrants would shovel.
Somehow, all this brings an ancient joke to mind:
A guy jumps out of a chauffeur-driven limousine on Fifth Avenue and accosts a nice-looking young woman in a Channel suit. He says to her, “I’m a billionaire. Maybe you recognize me from my pictures in the newspaper. I’ll give you ten million dollars – ten million! – if you come to my home and get into bed with me, for just one night.”
“Ten million bucks for one night?” she says thoughtfully, “Well, okay.”
As she gets into the limo he says, “Well actually, I’m only going to give you a nickel.”
“A nickel!” she screams, “What the hell do you think I am?”
“We’ve already established that,” he says, “All we’re doing now is haggling over the price.”
Personally, I think America and our economy would get better value from better-paid workers, whether we’re talking about fruit pickers or hookers.
There is no legal job that Americans won't do – for a decent wage and decent working conditions.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
So in case you missed it, the Department of Homeland Security has determined, now that the World Trade Center is gone, that there are no more landmarks in New York that some terrorist might consider worth attacking.
While Mayor Mike Bloomberg ticked off a list of landmarks somehow missed by Genius Chertoff’s department – dippy, insignificant places such as the New York Stock Exchange, the Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building -- Chertoff cut off $125 million from money used last year to fund anti-terrorist activity in New York.
Listen, The New York Crank is no fan of Rudy Giuliani, but at least Rudy would have had the testicles to get angry and show it. Mike The Mediocrity didn’t even do that, at least not in public. Instead he got all querulous and inquisitive, musing in his whine-y voice, “…You really wonder what was going through somebody’s mind.”
Somebody? Mike, do you mean somebody like George Bush? Somebody like Richard Cheney? Somebody like Michael Chertoff?
Well, what can you expect from a man who pretends to to New Yorkers that he’s really a Democrat while he runs on the Republican ticket? Guts?
Hey, Mayor Mike, if you were half a man, you might remind the Homeland Security idiots that it costs several million dollars in planning, police salaries, overtime and gasoline to provide security every time George Bush comes to town to raise money for Republicans at the Waldorf.
Ditto Dick Cheney, and a host of other Republicans and adminsitration hacks who hate New York except when they come here to scrounge cash for Republican causes.
So Mike, just stand up like a man and tell them, “Supply your own damn security. No more police motorcade for you, pal. Now that you’ve cut our budget, we simply don’t have the money to provide for your personal security while the rest of our citizens are endangered.
“So no fleets of cop cars wasting time outside the doors of your hotel when you speak. No more disruptive traffic blockades clogging the city and preventing its endangered citizens from going about their business while you whiz from Manhattan to the airport in bulletproof safety. We’re no longer supplying any of the funny-looking security guys with black suits, weird lapel pins, and coils of wire coming out of their ears.
"Stick all of your own security costs in your own budget and then explain to the American people where you come off billing them a few million bucks so you can go to New York and raise a few million to support candidates who want to destroy the Social Security system.
“But if you do supply your own motorcade, be aware that we will have cops at every intersection, ready to stop your vehicles and ticket you if you or your people even think of running a red light.
“In other words, what security detail? This is landmark-free New York, pal. We don’t got no stinking security detail.”
For more details:
Sunday, June 11, 2006
No! I do not want to contribute to your accursed Deviated Septum Fund. And keep your stinking groceries while you're at it.
There’s a new kind of stickup artist these days. It’s the checkout clerk at your local supermarket. For the sake of the argument, call her or him Bags Molloy.
No, Bags doesn’t stick a gun in your face. Bags has a more potent weapon, evidently taught to sales clerks these days by supermarket managements.
It’s called arm twisting by embarrassment and here’s how it works:
You’ve gone to the supermarket with your shopping list and loaded up your cart. You wait patiently while the dodo in front of you pays with a credit card, slowing down the whole process so that one of these days – if he lives long enough – he can fly free to Fredonia, assuming any airlines are still doing business by then.
Now it’s your turn, and after you get your peas scanned, your green pepper weighed and your stuff bagged, you reach into your wallet. Just then Bags Molloy asks you some variation of, “We’re collecting for the Fund for Kids With Deviated Septums. How much would you like to contribute?”
This is the gun in your face. To all the people behind you in the checkout line, some of whom might be your neighbors, you look like a skinflint, a Scrooge, a sniveling cheapskate if you say, “No! No! No way in hell, Bags. I’m too broke.” Or, “I prefer to give my money to starving kids in Darfur.” Or, “Nope. I only support unpopular political causes, such as the fund for handicapped gay married couples with terminal AIDS.”
The consequence is, you end up forking over your hard-earned money to Bags Molloy’s supermarket bosses for a charity that may or may not be a good charity and that almost certainly isn’t your favorite charity.
This has happened to me more than once, and at more than one supermarket. You too? If not, it will. The “charities” love it, because they get supermarkets doing their dirty work for them. Supermarkets love it, because guess who’s popping up on the charities’ lists as big time donors?
Meanwhile you, the contributor, don’t get so much as a thank you note or dedicated receipt. If the IRS comes by to audit you and checks your charitable deduction, let ‘em paw through your supermarket checkout tape. Tell them they can find your gift just below the carrots and the cat food.
I nearly exploded when I went through a Waldbaum’s supermarket checkout line in eastern Long Island, New York, very recently and got held up for a contribution to the March of Dimes. So when I got home, I went and checked out the supermarket thugs at the March of Dimes who are after a part of our hard-earned grocery money. Hmm, very interesting.
When I was a kid, The March of Dimes had a real purpose. They wanted to prevent polio. Thanks mainly to a medical pioneer named Dr. Jonas Salk that happened nearly half a century ago. Since then, the March of Dimes has been casting around for some reason to keep on raking in those shekels and supporting its staff and its pension plan.
Right now, their big thing is fighting premature births. Premature births? In a world filled with real and potential pandemics, starvation, corruption, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and more, they picked premature births?
Or maybe they really are most interested in keeping their pension fund healthy. You think I’m kidding? I pulled this right off their website from The March of Dimes 2004 annual report – evidently the most recent one they’ve posted as of this writing:
“By all financial measures, 2004 was a significant improvement over
2003 as total revenue grew by nearly $7.0 million. Total net assets
increased by nearly 40% to $31.6 million with a margin of $7.6
million. The equity market’s stability also benefited the Foundation’s
pension plan providing a $1.0 million reversal of minimum pension
liability charges required to be recorded in prior years.”
Good for the pension fund, but what about the money that elsewhere in their annual report they say they contribute to “research and medical support” – whatever the hell that consists of? That part of the March of Dimes budget garners a pathetic 18% -- that’s only eighteen percent – of their total budget. But hey, ya gotta keep that pension plan going, right?
Well, that’s the last time I’ll ever contribute to The March of Dimes. (Bags Molloy got two bucks out of me, or the equivalent of ten percent of the grocery money I left at her counter. Thanks for starting me thinking about the March of Dimes, Bags.)
It was also the last time I will ever stand for this kind of supermarket stickup. I’m a big boy. I can figure out for myself what I should and should not contribute to, and when.
So next time some Bags Molloy sees my wallet out and asks for a contribution, I’m not only gonna scream, I’m also gonna leave my groceries at the checkout counter march out the door, and go to some other supermarket.
What about you?
Friday, June 09, 2006
Okay. I've had it with Snapple. I wrote to these guys over a year ago, complaining about a bogus "contest" they announced on a bottle of their product. I never heard a word back.
You guys at Snapple don't play nice. A consumer writes you a justifiably irate letter and you obviously consign it to the same trash basket that contains the bones of the little kittens you've been munching on during your coffee break.
Okay guys, now I'm telling the whole world what I wrote to you:
"About an hour ago I bought a Diet Rasperry Snapple to go with my lunch. I expected to find a silly factoid under the lid like, "Penguins are the only birds that can't fly."
"Instead I found a message that said: "You've Won A Favor! Have a Snapple On Us. (coupon for 2 free 18 oz. Snapple.)"
"Boy, did I get excited! That is, I was excited until I looked into redeeming the coupon for 2 bottles that you offered me on your own volition.
"I called the 800 number you provided and got lost in Pushbotton Hell for a while. Finally, I reached some confusing information that I had to re-play two or three times to get it all down. If I understand correctly, I have to photocopy the inside of the bottle cap (nice trick if you can do it) and send it and some information about me (printed on a 3X5 card) registered mail to collect a coupon for two 16-oz bottles of Snapple. Oh, and you want it all sent in a padded envelope.
"If I do all that, I would have to spend about $8 for a package of padded envelopes, a package of 3X5 cards and postage (not counting the value of my time spent in post office lines.) The result would be a net loss of roughly six bucks, also not counting time in Post Office lines.
"I have to conclude from the rapidity at which the rules and the address to which you want everything sent were read off by your telephone recording; the complex language of the rules on your website to which I went as an alternative to the fast phone recording; and the expense of redeeming a couple of cheesy bottles of Snapple; that either
"A) that you really don't want people to collect their prizes and this whole contest is a sham and a consumer fraud or
"B) That somebody in your marketing department is a total moron or
"C) Both of the above
"Which is it? I'd appreciate hearing from you ASAP. I might like to write about your contest for a publication I know."
As i was saying, I wrote to them more than a year ago. I'm still waiting for a reply.
Exasperated with George Bush? There’s an explanation for everything, and here it is, in German with English subtitles.
(My thanks to the person who contributed this excellent link.) Go here:
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
You know who I want to bust in the teeth? The waiter who sticks his face between me and the people I’m dining with and interrupts the conversation and the mood to ask, “And how is everything, sir?”
Who’s the idiot who teaches these guys to do this?
The truth is, when the food turns out to be cold, or there’s a parboiled cockroach in the linguini, or you ordered steak and some assistant to the chief assistant bus boy brings a piece of liver to your table instead, lots of luck trying to find the waiter.
Ditto when you want the check and you’re in a rush to make an appointment or a theater curtain. That’s when Mr. And How Is Everything does his vanishing act.
But try to tell a joke and guaranteed, just when you get to the point where you’re about to deliver the perfectly timed punch line, you’ll be interrupted by, “And how is everything, sir?”
You idiot! Your moron! Everything sucks! You’ve just ruined my joke, not to mention my mood and my dinner.
No wonder you flunked out of acting school.
The trick of being a good waiter is to be there when you’re needed and to stay out of the way when you’re not. Nobody needs you to change the subject of the conversation. Got it?
Then get out of my face.