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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This is my one thousandth commentary since I began this blog in April, 2003 - and it’s a little hard to know how to treat it - as something special - or as just another day in the life of the blogosphere. It’s tempting to pick the former - but there are too many things going that need to be written about to spend time trying to compose the "commentary for the ages." That doesn’t necessarily mean that such commentaries - plural - haven't already appeared on these pages - but there will be no attempt to create one today. Not on purpose anyway.

I have commented from time to time about the "silly season" - which is almost a permanent state of affairs with Congressional elections every two years. When are they not campaigning? And it’s bad enough when we are hammered night and day with the idiocy of television campaign ads which, if we would care to take them at face value , proves that all opposing candidates are liars and damned near criminals! But this year is not just sillier than most, but scarier than any that I can remember. I speak of course at the emergence of "Tea Party" candidates. The candidates of course are enough to scare little children into eating the most disgusting of vegetables - but what should scare any rational thinking adult is the number of people calling themselves Republicans who are voting for these people. I know a number of Republicans. I have family members who are staunch Republicans and might be persuaded to vote for a candidate by the name of Mickey Mouse if there was an "R" after the name. But I can’t imagine any of them voting for some of the Tea Party candidates who have won primaries against establishment - read "reasonably sane" candidates.

Do Republican voters really want to do away with Social Security and Medicare? Do they want to re-write the civil rights act? Do they want Congress to pass a law banning masturbation and making it punishable by a severe pee pee whacking - for males anyway? We’ve had some Democratic candidates who have had ideas that a majority of voters might have found radical - but nothing like the proposals being suggested by the current crop of Tea Party candidates. I know that Harry Reid isn’t too popular in Nevada right now - but how could fluoride hating Sharon Angle be even within twenty points of him in the polls? They’re virtually in a dead heat!! You have to wonder who or what it is that’s slipping a mind numbing drug into Nevada’s drinking water. Can you imagine that the sane population of the United States is currently on the same page as Karl Rove? If that isn’t a sign that we have finally arrived at Robert Heinlein’s Year of the Jackpot - I don’t know what is!!


Speaking of crazy - not necessarily Tea Party ideas - I can’t tell you how sick I am at hearing the nonsense about tax cuts creating jobs. We keep hearing it from Republicans in Congress and from Republican candidates - maybe even some Democrats. It’s utter nonsense of course. If tax cuts created jobs - then it logically follows that ZERO taxes would create a lot of jobs. In which case, Exxon Mobil and General Electric - to name just two companies - should be hiring by the thousands because they not only didn’t pay any taxes last year - they got tax breaks. And they are among thousands of Corporations that pay no U.S. tax.

You hear nonsensical statements - like "no poor person ever hired anyone" - as though all it takes to get someone a job is to have someone relieved of the burden of taxation to hire him. It’s beyond nonsense. It’s criminal nonsense. There’s only one thing that creates jobs. Demand. For a product or a service. I’ve run a couple of small businesses in my time and I’ve had employees. The number of people I had working for me at any give time depended on one thing and one thing only. How many people did I need to do the work. My tax obligations never entered into employment decisions. Which is why I am skeptical about the proposals coming out of the White House to help small business with write offs for equipment and tax breaks for new hires. None of it will work. Only increased demand otherwise known as new business or increased business will result in new employment or people being rehired. And even then, there may never be enough jobs available for people looking for work. Take a look at my comments on this topic on July 28, 2010.


And I just can’t resist the following even though it takes a lot of typing which isn’t one of my skills. I started today’s comments speaking of the "silly season" - and if there’s anything sillier than the following, I don’t know what it could be. It’s a campaign solicitation letter addressed to me from SHARON ANGLE that , after my name, address and salutation, reads as follows;
If you’re the Republican I’ve been told you are, then I need you to find your checkbook right now.

Because I am the official Republican nominee to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

… And I need your immediate financial support!

I need and emergency donation from you, Jeffrey Smith, for $25, $35, $50, $75, $100, $250, $500, $1000 or $2,400.

As the Republican Party’s choice to defeat Reid, I’m counting on party activists from across the country to win this vital race.

Reid has nearly $10 million in the bank. He’s been waiting until I secured the nomination to go on the attack.

And now that I have the nomination, Reid is unloading everything he has on me in an effort to smear my good name.

We can’t let him succeed!

Jeffrey Smith, the importance of this race cannot be overstated.

Not only is this the #1 race in America this year, it is nothing less than a referendum on the far left policies of Barack Obama and Harry Reid….

..the $78 billion "stimulus," the TARP bailout of the big banks. The government takeover of healthcare, trillion dollar deficits, the growing national debt…

….As Majority Leader Reid singlehandedly shoved each of these government-growing policies through the Senate.

Obama and Reid are joined at the hip in forcing this radical expansion of government.

Defeating Reid would be a knockdown blow to Obama. It’s a blow I can – and will – deliver!

But I need your help immediately..

Please take out your checkbook and write a check to "Friends of Sharon Angle" for at least $25 right now.

I’m really hoping you can give more -- $35, $50, $75, $100, $250, $500, $1,000, or $2,400.

Harry Reid has said he needs $25 million from liberal special interest donors to keep his seat.

What I need are 1 million patriotic Americans who love this great country enough to give $25 to give Harry Reid the boot.

I hope you agree that stopping Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is Republicans’ #1 priority right now.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, would be a bigger blow to Obama’s agenda than for me to defeat Harry Reid.

Write your check for $2,400, $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $75, 50, $35 or even $25 right now and rush it back to "Friends of Sharon Angle." Thank you.


Sharon Angle
Republican for U.S. Senate

P.S. Harry Reid is responsible for getting Obama’s agenda through the Senate. Defeating Harry Reid will spell doom for Obama’s agenda!

Rush me your crucial donation of $25, $35, $50, $75, $100, $250, $500, $1000 or even $2,400.

There was also a donation coupon that could be removed from the bottom of the letter to send - excuse me - to rush along with my check. And there were some wiggly lines and one paragraph was circled and some with lines under each individual word with spaces in between. I took a short cut and just underlined the whole paragraph - and I didn't try to reproduce wiggly lines and circles. My apologies to any Republican who got this letter and came upon this blog by accident.

I don’t think I need to add anything except to say that I am not a Republican activist nor any other kind of Republican - though I occasionally vote for Republican candidates. Sharon must have a ton of money to send out these kinds of letters to anybody she finds on a voter list. But I guess it’s important to announce the new strategy. Republicans are no longer looking for Obama’s "Waterloo." The new strategy is to deal him a "Knockout Blow."

But note one line in the letter - "And now that I have the nomination, Reid is unloading everything he has on me in an effort to smear my good name." I'm not sure what she meant by that phrase but it certainly has more than one meaning and maybe my interpretation of "what he has on her" will be her "Knockout Blow" or maybe just enough to introduce her to her "Waterloo."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I learned yesterday of the death of Ed Newman. He died in Oxford in the U.K, more than a month ago. It seems that he moved to England several years ago. I make mention of his death because Ed was one of the icons I met and briefly worked with many years ago - and as each of them have died and as they continue to die, I find my world getting smaller and smaller. In 1969, I had made a proposal to the AMA to produce a news and information program on audio cassette for monthly distribution to all AMA members. Somehow, RCA became involved as "co-presenters" of the program, presumably because of their interest in being the supplier and duplicator of the cassettes. Between the AMA and RCA, a decision was made to have some well known personality host the programs and they came up with Ed Newman. I put together a sample script and got together with Newman in New York to record his end of a pilot program. I had never met him before but we got along famously, particularly because he said my script was as lucid a piece as he’d ever had to read - despite the fact that it was dog eared with words scratched out and re-written. No computers in those days - nor did I have a word processor. Knowing Newman’s concern about the proper use of the English language, I was flattered at his compliment. He didn’t become the regular host of the program. After he’d recorded the pilot narration, it occurred to RCA and NBC that Newman might be placed in a position of conflict of interest, working for and at times perhaps having to report on the AMA, so they dropped him. They still wanted a star and finally came up with Raymond Burr, who hosted the first year after which we switched to regular professional narrators. The "star" idea was ridiculous, but the AMA was paying me big money, so I didn’t fight it. But if I’d had my choice of a "star" - it would have been Ed Newman - a class act.
Because I read newspapers and watch television programs, I am aware that Oprah Winfrey had begun the final season of her television talk show - or whatever kind of show she calls it. I have never watched the show or had any desire to do so, so it matters not at all if this is her last season or if she changes her mind and sticks around for another ten years. Nonetheless, I have had occasion to write about MsWinfrey in the past when she has made news that was reported in sections of media that I do watch or read. On a couple of occasions I have expressed my dismay at the influence she appears to have over book sales. She is able to recommend a book to her adoring audience and likely as not, it becomes an instant best seller. I have also expressed dismay in the past on the occasion of her assuming the role of a Lady Bountiful and garnering world wide publicity by showering gifts on her studio audience - as she did at this time of the year in 2004 when she gave each member of her audience a brand new General Motors Car - donated by GM. She wasn’t actually being Lady Bountiful with her own money.

Now she has kicked off her final season with the same kind of gimmick - giving her audience an eight day trip to Australia - at least partially financed by Australian taxpayers - and once again garnering world wide publicity. I see nothing wrong with a television personality who earns millions of dollars engaging in acts of charity and perhaps even getting some public acknowledgment of her acts - though anonymity would be preferred as it is for acts of charity that are motivated by a desire to help and not to get publicity. And I see nothing wrong with a television host passing out modest gifts to members of a studio audience. But as I said in my comments in September, 2004, the kind of ostentatious display that took place in her studio the other day - and the apparent compulsion for news people for whom I have some respect to report the event as though it was news, reminds me why I don’t watch Oprah or similar programs and why I’m glad I don’t.
I remember reading The Fountainhead when I was in my early twenties and being captivated by the story. I wanted to be like the book’s main character - Howard Roark - a man with integrity beyond belief for whom there was no reward rich enough to persuade him to abandon his principles. Then I grew up and saw only the nonsense of Ayn. Rand’s philosophy and how ridiculous her story line was. The other night, the movie made from the book, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, was on a cable channel - and just out of curiosity, I switched it on. I remember seeing the movie when it first came out and I remember that it was a badly made movie with bad casting. But I didn’t remember it as the comedy that unfolded before my eyes the other night. My wife was upstairs and I was in the den - and she had to wonder what it was that was inspiring the peals of laughter that she heard coming from down below for over an hour.

I couldn’t contain myself as Cooper, Neal and other cast members mouthed the ridiculous dialog taken right out of the book. I probably laughed the loudest at the big trial speech - where Cooper is on trial for blowing up what I gather was a public housing project because it wasn’t built exactly as he had designed it. In stilted tones, Cooper explains to the jury that all of mankind’s progress has come from the inventive mind and that it cannot be sacrificed to the needs or desires of the many - and that his price for designing this massive building project was that it was to be built exactly as he designed it - and that because he "wasn’t paid" - he had the right - and maybe the obligation to destroy it. And within minutes, the male only jury is back in the courtroom with its NOT GUILTY verdict. I almost fell on the floor, convulsed with laughter.

Of course it isn’t a laughing matter that Rand’s ridiculous philosophy is still with us in the form of followers and practitioners of Objectivism and membership in the Atlas Society - as in "Atlas Shrugged - or that we have a candidate for the Senate, coincidentally with a first name of RAND who wants to take a version of Objectivism to Washington - along with other Tea Party nuts who express the same kind of paranoia found in all of Rand’s books. The thought that some of these people might be elected to the House or the Senate might start out being laughable - but as November draws closer, it’s becoming downright scary.

It’s good news that Iran has released one of the three young Americans they grabbed and threw in jail more than a year ago because they had wandered off course while hiking near the Iraq/Iran border. They were spies like I’m descended from royalty - but facts don’t matter to the crazed rulers of Iran when they’re trying to make a point. And I suppose it’s good news that a woman condemned to be stoned to death for he crime of adultery may not be put to death in this manner. Maybe she’ll just be flogged and hanged. Many world leaders are exerting pressure on Iran to spare the woman and apparently it is because of their efforts that stoning has been taken off the table for this one condemned Irani. But what does the world do about a nation that has such laws on the books while pursuing the production of nuclear weapons? I hope the leaders of the free world are asking themselves that question and that they are able to arrive at the right answer before the question answers itself.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I started this blog in 2003 and it was in that year that I commented on the horror that took place nine years ago today. I made an odd reference or two on this date in some of the years that followed - but mostly to comment that nothing much had changed in the views that I expressed in 2003. Read the comments. I’m not going to repeat them here other than to re-acknowledge the role that religion surely played in that horrific event and to add a few words on what I think about religion in general and how it affects the conduct of most of the earth’s human population.

Unlike members of the non human animal kingdom, humans are both blessed and cursed with their unique status of having self awareness and knowledge of their mortality. From our earliest history as creatures somewhat resembling what we are today, humans have been unable to accept the reality of mortality. We simply don’t want to accept death as the end of all existence so we find a way to convince ourselves that it doesn’t really happen. We create a God. And then we tell ourselves that while we may appear to die - that’s only an illusion. It’s only our bodies that die. The real us - our souls - live on in some other plane of existence. Paradise. Heaven. It has many names, but its origins of course are religious belief. We are all creations of a deity. And therein lies a pack of troubles that have plagued mankind for centuries and continue unabated to this day.

You have to wonder if there was not the belief among Muslims that death was little more than a passageway to everlasting life in what they think of as paradise - whether the 9/11 terrorists would have been willing to give their lives for some cause in the hope or belief that it would benefit their fellow Muslims who they would leave behind to live their full assigned years on earth. I doubt it. You hear stories of men in battle giving their lives to save comrades - but those are instinctive acts - not carefully thought out and certainly not based in religious belief. Whether we want to think of the 9/11 terrorists as "hijacking" Islam or not, there’s no question that their religious beliefs were a large component of their motivation - and here we are nine years later , embroiled in controversy because of religious beliefs - theirs and others.

The spectacle of this publicity seeking idiot in Florida creating what could be an international crisis boggles the mind. If you needed an example of the downside of religion that is perhaps more understandable than the religion based mass killings of history, this nutty pastor’s antics are it. Think about it. Who is this nitwit who besmirches the name of a Monty Python icon? Is he someone who has distinguished himself in some way and so perhaps should be listened to? Of course not. So why are we listening to him? Because like many like nitwits, he has donned the mantle of religion and seized upon an ongoing controversy over the building of an Islamic center near Ground Zero to make his ridiculous pronouncements and thus has been able to set off an argument that has raged around the world and may not be over yet. Some of those other "like nitwits" have also threatened to hold a Koran burning and may yet set off murderous protests around the world. And not just in Muslim countries. There have already been protests in London by members of that city’s large Muslim population.

I have made mention here before that I have somewhat of a problem with Islam - not the religion - I am equally disdainful of all religions - but Islam as a way of life that imposes itself on its surroundings wherever they happen to be in non Muslim majority countries. It hasn’t happened that much as yet in the United States - at least not enough to be noticeable and annoying - but it’s highly noticeable in places like London - and as you can see from this story - in Paris as well as other European cities. I don’t think it’s bigoted or intolerant to be aware of this as a phenomenon and to say that it is something to monitor carefully. We have seen how home grown terrorists have emerged from their Islamic surroundings in England and it is not that much of a stretch to imagine it happening elsewhere including the United States.

But others have a problem with Islam the religion - just as many followers of Islam have a problem with competing religions. Believers in a deity are convinced that their belief is the true belief. That wouldn’t be a problem if those beliefs were just kept at a personal level and didn’t rise to the level of affecting the actions of humans in general - as in conducting "holy wars" or holocausts or suicide bombings to destroy infidels. Perhaps religion and belief in a God is necessary for mankind to hold on to some measure of sanity - though I doubt that any extraterrestrial visitors from an advanced civilization would look upon us as being sane - but it is more than counterbalanced by the horrors we inflict upon each other in the name of our concepts of that God and of our preferred religions.

There may come a day where the acquisition of scientific knowledge and what we might learn from those elusive extraterrestrial visitors will finally convince us to accept the finality of out mortality and that there is no need for belief in a God and no need to involve ourselves in the mumbo jumbo of religious beliefs and practices - but it will be a day too far off in the future to be even imagined. Meantime, we will have to live in a world where acts of madness in the name of religious belief - fatal and otherwise - will continue to occur and the news media of the world will continue to be consumed with the crazed antics of people like the idiot in Florida. The most we can hope for is that he will be condemned to oblivion before the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy is upon us.

Friday, September 03, 2010

I haven’t seen anything written about this or any mentions on television or radio - as has been the case most years during the first week of September, so I have accepted the responsibility of taking note of this anniversary.

71 years ago today, on September 3, 1939, the war to end all wars began. That was the day that England declared war on Germany. In 1945 the war was over - and since that time, there has not been a year - probably not even a month, without armed conflict somewhere on this planet.

So much for the war to end all wars. And we wonder why "they" don’t come.

And although we’re a couple of months away from another anniversary - a sixty third -the ongoing talks between Israel and the Palestinians - aided by representatives from Egypt, Jordan and the United States, compel me to observe that one a little early. In November, we will reach the sixty third anniversary of the solution proposed by the United Nations to settle the conflict between two peoples populating the same area of the Middle East - a TWO STATE solution. What a great idea. So here we are, sixty three years later and after several of those armed conflicts mentioned above, discussing a solution to the conflict between those same two peoples And what are they discussing? But of course - a TWO STATE solution.

And we continue to wonder why "they" - intelligent beings from a far away galaxy don’t come. Except of course the ships that land in the Georgia countryside in the dead of night to kidnap Billy Bob and conduct disgusting experiments on his body before returning him to the bosom of his family and his pickup truck.