Monthly Archives: January 2016

You Never Know

The idea that Trump or Cruz could be elected president is almost unimaginable to anyone with a…well…to anyone. They both have a long history of dishonesty and fabrication. So,  how could either of these two clearly incompetent men ever win that high office.

Well, as grandma used to say regarding just about anything . “You Never Know”.

After all. There are still people who…..

…are convinced that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. No amount of evidence  like a birth certificate, two Hawaiian newspaper notices or witnesses to his birth (I do believe his mother was there) will change their minds. Was he born in Kenya? You never know.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_citizenship_conspiracy_theories

…believe that the Affordable Care Act allows the government to establish death panels. These death panels will decide if and when to execute you or me. I should live so long. Have the death panelists earmarked anyone for execution yet? You never know.   https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/clarence-avoids-the-death-panels/

…insist that Sasquatch is real. They know he or she is real because they have seen the videos. And videos, we have learned, do not lie. And for further proof, there is an entire industry devoted to Sasquatch paraphernalia. They couldn’t sell Sasquatch stuff if it wasn’t real!  There is even a Sasquatch DNA site. God, I hope I’m related ! I could be. You never know.      http://www.sasquatchgenomeproject.org/index.html

…deny that the climate is changing. Or, if it is changing , then human activity has nothing to do with the overall increase in global temperatures. Some of the more astute deniers point out that it still snows sometimes, which thoroughly debunks any “global warming” claims. If it was cold today how can the earth be warming up? This entire global warming hoax could be a plot by Al Gore to make millions! (Remember him? The guy who received 500,000 more votes for POTUS than GW Bush?)  Or is it a plot by COMMUNISTS?  The commies are still hanging around. You never know.        http://www.commieblaster.com/climategate/

…insist that Bill Clinton is responsible for 9/11.  ….http://wonkette.com/595179/its-official-bill-clinton-did-911

…are certain that Hillary Clinton refused to send aid to the American ambassador in Benghazi.    http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/261442/hillarys-benghazi-stand-down-order-exposed-kenneth-r-timmerman

…have been abducted by aliens. No, not all the Mexican/alien rapists that Trump told us about. Real aliens. The UFO-type. Weird eyes. Pointy heads. Pushed in noses. NO, NOT Trey Gowdy. Real aliens. Trey Gowdy…hmmmmm?             https://josephurban.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/157bc-pinhead.jpeg

http://www.ufocasebook.com/alienabductions.html

…will believe whatever they want to believe.   http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/cms/index.php

So, can Cruz or Trump ever be elected president? As frightening as it is…You Never Know.

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Sideshow Sarah Screeches for Trump

It is just too easy to make fun of Sideshow Sarah. About as challenging as rolling a ball downhill. Just sit back and watch. It is inevitable. And predictable.

Still, it was enthralling  watching Sideshow make her endorsement of the other huckster in the political arena, the Donald. The used car salesman extraordinaire. The man who is the master of the vague generality and the specific vulgarity.

You can find the Palin “speech” on Youtube, along with Tina Fey and the SNL version, which is more coherent. I recommend sitting down and watching with a 4 year old who can interpret for you.

As I said, making fun of Sideshow is too easy. So  seriously. Some things to think about.

1. This woman has been pulling in money for her PAC (SarahPAC) to the tune of over 1 million bucks a year. Her PAC is a way for the faithful Tea Party conservatives to funnel their hard earned cash to conservative candidates.

In the last filing for her PAC it was discovered that about 4% of the money was actually given to candidates. 4%. The rest is spent on various fundraising activities for the PAC itself, consultants and some luxurious hotel and travel arrangements. (When was the last time YOU stayed in the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City?)

From my point of view I think this is great. After all, taking money from the gullible right wingers and NOT spending it to elect right wingers is ok in my book. OKEY-DOKEY. Hopey-changey. Not to mention the boost to the economy by the purchase of $700 blouses, somewhat successful facelifts and something called “speech writing”. Really. $48,000 for speech writing. Someone actually writes those words ahead of time. But, if it wastes right wing dollars, I am all for it.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/07/sarah_palin_s_pac_is_spending_more_on_hotels_and_travel_than_on_gop_candidates.html

2. This woman is stepping up to the plate and doing for Donald what she did for McCain. Ted Cruz must be jumping for joy. Well, maybe not jumping. Perhaps hopping. And not for “joy”. Let me try again: Ted Cruz must be standing on one leg and spewing less bile and invective than usual. After all, Sideshow Sarah has endorsed the last two POTUS candidates.  Ask President McCain. Ask President Romney.

3. And this one gets scarier all the time. WHAT IF? What if McCain had been elected by some fluke of the voting machines. And Sideshow Sarah had to take over the office of the presidency. What if she and her clan had become the “First Family” of the United States of America? Instead of two quiet young, well-mannered girls staying out of the limelight we would have Bristol and Track or whatever their names are? “Family values” on display.  Regular White House visits by the DC police department.

What if Sideshow Sarah was in charge of our nuclear arsenal? Or sat down with Putin to negotiate? What if? The more we see of her the scarier it gets.

So. She is back.  And not funny. An empty shell with a big PAC. The press will always cover her because that is what the press does. It covers “celebrities”. It covers disasters. It publicizes  the odd and crass rather than the normal and the classy. And the crasser, the better. An entertainer endorsing another entertainer. It looks like the Clown Car just got a new member. And if you think elections should be a serious event, it is not funny.

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Advice To My Black Son

Since today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I thought it would be appropriate to give some advice to my black son. Advice on how to live a long life in a hostile nation.

Problem is I don’t have a black son. Both my son and daughter are white. As is my wife. And we have a long history of ancestors who were also white. Quite a coincidence. Being white, there was never the necessity of having this little talk with him or her. But I digress.

To my black son or grandson. First, I will make some assumptions about you, most of which are not true.

You live in poverty (actually 73% of African Americans do not live in poverty, but the percentage IS higher for children and young adults)  http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/

Your parents do not own their own home (55% do not, but 45% do).    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0883976.html

You will be  arrested for a violent crime this year . (about 1/2 of 1% of black youths will be arrested for a violent offense, so 99.5% of black youths will NOT be arrested for a violent crime)    http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/JAR_Display.asp?ID=qa05261

You are most likely a high school “drop out” . (The drop out rate for African American males is approximately 7%, so 93% are NOT drop outs)    http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=16

Enough of statistics. And stereotypes. I want you to live a long and happy life. Keep in mind the following.

First of all you  have rights. The right to free speech. To drive. To assembly. To individuality. To be young. And to be stupid at times. To walk down the street. To carry a gun in some states. To use a cell phone.

My Rules for my black son. Listen carefully:

1. Take that last paragraph about your rights and forget it. Assume , instead, that you have no rights. Accept reality. Act like you have no rights. You will live longer.

2.If the police stop you in your car or walking be respectful. Don’t argue. Be polite. “Yes, officer. No,officer”. If you see the cops driving around in your neighborhood wave and smile.

3.Sew your pockets shut. So you cannot possibly reach inside them. Don’t carry a cell phone. Or comb. Or knife. Or anything.

4.Don’t be out after dark. If you are a friend’s house, call home and tell ma and pa that you are sleeping over. Do the same for your friends when they are visiting you at night. Don’t be out after dark.

5.Don’t go to places where you know drug dealers hang out. If drug dealers show up where you are hanging out, go home. Now.

6.If you are arrested for some reason say nothing. Nothing. If you are put in a cell do not talk to your cellmate. Be polite and ask for a lawyer. Say nothing.

7.Don’t wear bling. Don’t wear a hoodie. Don’t wear your cap backwards. Don’t argue with anyone about anything. Swallow your pride. Often. Regularly.

8.Act like you are a Jew in Nazi Germany. Pretend you are a foreigner with no rights.

Should you have to follow these rules? No. But in reality these rules will give you  a much better chance of making it to adulthood than the Bill of Rights. Or the Voting Rights Act. Or any other legal protections. Sorry, my black son, but that is reality.

As MLK, Jr hoped, someday you WILL be judged by the content of your character and not by the color of your skin. But January 18, 2016 in America is not yet that day.

 

 

 

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I’ve Seen Enough

Against my better judgment I watched the January 14 “debate” of the GOP candidates. We really should not call  it a “debate”. More like a rant. Or series of rants. The moderators did not seem to know how to ask a question and the candidates obliged by not answering any. Still, it was instructive.

I learned, for example, that I have a higher tolerance for pain than I thought I did.

I also learned how wrong we liberals can be. I thought by now that the nastiness of Cruz and the ignorance of Trump would have disqualified them in the eyes of GOP voters. Seems that those are the traits most admired. Go figure.

Anyway, I am taking this opportunity to present a summary of the last performance as I see it. The candidates, from left to right on the stage.

Kasich. He stood. He shook his head. He looked sad and defeated. What am I doing on stage with these clowns?  He tried to talk about his accomplishments and ideas. No one cared. He shrugged. He’s done and he knows it. Born 20 years too late.

Christie. Buffoonery personified. His message was an attempt to out-buffoon Trump. Can’t be done. So, he came off as a small (I know, I know) replica of the master. He tried to insult  Obama by suggesting he would “kick his  rear end out of the White House” in the next election. Well, I guess. If he ever does rise in the polls his corrupt practices in in New Jersey will doom him anyway. There are people STILL homeless from Hurricane Sandy.

Rubio. 13 year old on speed. Besides looking like he should be home doing his homework (“Time to turn off the lights, Marcky”) instead of standing behind the podium all Rubio did was go bat shit crazy over Obama. A man obsessed. Obama Bad. Obama Bad.  Obama Bad. He even crossed over into Trumpland with his statement that Obama STILL wants to take away all our guns. ALL of them. Maybe when his voice changes he will run again. 2032?

Trump. The Donald. Same old Donald. “We need to figure this out” “We need to hire good people” “We need to make America great again”. ..”We need to kill the bad guys…””My Muslim friends..” “My Chinese friends..” ” I love the Japanese…” With friends like Donald, who needs….? The master of the Bleeding Obvious. The Master of saying NOTHING while pretending to say everything. I don’t want an old man who still  hasn’t figured it out.  A 68 year old body and a 16 year old mind. Singularly uncurious about the rest of the world.  BUT. He is the front runner.

Cruz. Every time I hear this guy speak I feel the urge to take a hot shower. With a good scrub brush. And plenty of soap. LAVA. He just oozes used car salesman… and not the good kind. Cruz is cynical and clever. I can appreciate that. Not once has he answered a question. Every question is an unfair attack on him and his superiority. The NY Times reports a fact. He attacks the NY Times. His minions are thrilled. The entire world is either good or evil. No  room for honest disagreements. No shades of gray. And underneath it all, we know he knows better. Not an ounce of integrity. Scary guy.

Carson. Carson answers all questions. Just not the ones asked. He also answers the ones in his head. The ones no one else hears. He reminds me of an old lady rocking in the corner half asleep. They nudge her awake. ” The Jews did it”. “Go back to sleep grandma. We’ll wake you for supper.” Carson just keeps showing up. Evidently his tactic is just to  stay alive long enough. It works for grandma. We keep feeding her. With this group, it just might work. Have to give him a solid “C” for creative use of the English language. Stringing together unrelated words,  phrases  and ideas into an incoherent mess.

Jeb. Still here. Like Kasich on the opposite side of the room Jeb actually attempts to discuss issues and ideas. He has not yet caught on. You can see the anxiety on his face as he tries to engage the others and the Fox moderators in some meaningful dialogue. Kind of like trying to explain to a group of three year olds that they should not shove spaghetti up their noses. You know your words are falling on deaf ears but there is nothing else you can do.  So you keep trying. And trying. And trying.

Finally, the most pathetic moderators yet. No incisive questions. No follow up. No stopping the candidates and making them explain themselves. A train wreck.

It is fairly apparent now that one of these bozos is going to be the standard bearer for the GOP. We can only hope that when they are confronted with Hillary or Bernie they will be exposed for the doofuses they are. We can only hope. At times like these I wish I were a Christian. At least then I could pray.

 

 

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The New Old GOP

Just for fun I decided to check out the NY Times archives to see what was happening on the day I was born . The archives, called the “Times Machine” is supposed to have every newspaper ever published by the Times. Since I have a digital subscription to the NYT , I get it for free. Not sure if it is available to all.

I found the paper from my date of birth in 1950 and perused the stories. The USA had just recognized the Bao Dai government of Viet Nam while the Soviet Union was recognizing Ho Chi Minh. I guess we know how that played out.

J. Edgar Hoover, that good old cross dressing head of the FBI was asking Congress more more money for more agents to fight the 54,000 “card carrying” communists and millions of “fellow travelers”. He was received with open arms. We know how that played out.

Labor disputes in the coal industry. A strike on hold in the telephone industry.  (Remember when you simply had a black phone and didn’t need a law or economics degree to figure out the contracts?). The courts ruled that the NY City transit authority would  have to give back pay to workers, upon which the transit authority said they would have to raise fares.

Stuck deep in the paper, on page 18, above the half page Ballantine beer ad and next to the new Magnavox 16″ TV offer (a whopping $299.50 , a heck of a lot of money in those days when the average family income was $3,300) was an article titled:

RETREAT ON RIGHTS CHARGED TO GOP, Democratic Congress Leaders Assail 1950 Statement of Party Principles.

To summarize, the article told how the Dems had forced a civil rights agenda into their platform over the opposition of the Dixiecrats. (In a few years it would be the Southern Dems who would walk out of the Democratic party and form their own Dixiecrat Party and then subsequently join the GOP years later). This article related how the GOP, along with the southern Dems, were blocking a vote on  the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). This commission had been created by Executive Order 8802 by FDR and and supported by Truman.It simply stated that there can be no  discrimination in hiring in the defense industry or government based on race, color, creed or national origin. This order was expanded by Truman to include the military by Executive Order 9981.

In combination with the southern Dems the GOP in the Senate was allowing a filibuster so the law could never come up for a vote. They refused to support the north Dems in invoking cloture and shutting down the southern filibuster. Some suggested the GOP represented “liberty against socialism” although a number of northern GOPers supported civil rights  and were not happy about the position of the leadership. After all, the GOP platform SUPPORTED civil rights.

What stuck me the most, however , about this article on the day I was born were the words of Minnesota Senator Hubert H. Humphrey. He stated that the Republican position was a retreat from their own party platform which supported civil  rights.

The article further states:

“The Senator declared that the Republican statement used “the kind of language that the Dixiecrats would have accepted for the 1948 Democratic plank”

“This may be the FIRST STEP in the LEGAL LOVE-MAKING between Senate Republicans and southern Democrats on the civil rights issue”, he added. “They have engaged in illicit love, as indicated in voting, for  about a year-and-a quarter”. (Capitals mine)

So, the attempt to make fair labor practices the  permanent law of the land failed in 1950 due to the combined efforts of Dixiecrats and the GOP leadership.

Perhaps the “new” GOP of is not so “new” after all. Was this the “first step” in moving the GOP and southern Dems closer together? The basis for the “Southern Strategy” of Nixon? The beginning of the conscious attempt by the GOP to attract racists to the party rather than join in the fight against racism? Was Humphrey correct in his analysis?

To review. Two Democratic presidents use executive orders to expand rights for certain categories of Americans. The GOP fights them every step of the way and refuses to even consider legislation granting rights. Some GOPers claim it is a battle between “Liberty versus socialism”.

Sound familiar?

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_8802

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_9981

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Employment_Practice_Committee

http://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1950/02/08/issue.html

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My $17.40 Tax Bill

This is the time of year when property taxes come due. I am not one of those tax complainers. I think we need reasonable taxes to provide a reasonable level of services. My attitude toward the IRS can be found at an oldie but goodie link at the end of this essay.

I am a retired teacher living on a pension and Social Security. Fixed income. My property is evaluated at about $145,000. Fair market value. No problem. My property and school taxes for 2014 were $3,974.45. Let’s round up to $4,000.00.

For this $4,000.00 I paid for a school system . And a county road . My water comes from my own well. My electric I pay for to a private company. I have no kids in school. So, I pay $4,000.00 and get the benefit of the local road crew plowing the road (and dumping piles of snow across my recently plowed driveway) right after their donut run.

And I don’t mind. Kids need an education. A good education. And roads need to be kept in good repair. And the local town road commissioner needs to keep his otherwise unemployable extended family engaged in some meaningful employment. Keeps them off the streets. Or on the streets.

So, unlike many folks I don’t mind paying my fair share of taxes. Which leads me to the following. One of my multitude of  vices is watching some reality TV shows. Not the vulgar ones like the Duggars. But ones like “Cupcake Wars” or “Property Virgins”. People who  are buying homes  or cooking. Pretty mild stuff.

Recently I was watching a “Property Virgins” segment profiling a couple of new home buyers who  were looking to buy in New York City. The Big Apple. They were being shown a brand new apartment in a new condo with a fantastic view. Across the East River. A view of the NYC skyline. A real million dollar apartment with a million dollar view.

The price? A paltry $1,000,000. A wee bit more than we  paid for our first “starter” home, but what the hell. You got? Spend it. And, to be fair,  it was a very nice apartment. Even had windows, floors  and appliances! But the best part. The very BEST part for these new home buyers was that the property was covered by the NYC “tax abatement zone”. So, the average monthly property tax on this $ 1,000,000 condo was, according to the realtor,  about “$10  a month”. For 25 years.

Let’s wait. I know that last two sentences destroyed 1.2 billion brain cells in the area of the brain called the ” Common Sensus Unbelievablus” so I will wait while you recover.  And I repeat. The property tax abatement, for 25 YEARS, meant they would be paying $10 per month. That is (using my calculator) comes to $120 a year. For 25 years.

Some math. Using a calculator again. If I suppose my property tax does not go up and my assessment never goes up for the next 25 years  (LOL) I will pay approximately $100,000 in property taxes. The folks who just moved into the $1,000,000 property with the view of NYC will pay, over the same 25 years , a total  of $3,000 in property taxes. I will pay $970,000 MORE in property taxes than they will. At least. (EDIT: It was pointed out to me that my math is wrong. I will pay $997,000 more).

Now, I don’t begrudge the wealthy their ability to afford a million dollar apartment. Not at all. Nor do I envy them. I like where I live.  But I do think that it may be nice if the top 1% paid their fair share. Or better yet, let ME pay MY fair share,  based on what they pay. If I did, my TOTAL tax bill over the next 25 years would come out to $435.00. American money.

If my tax property bill was the same , per assessed value, as this condo, I would get a tax bill this year for….$17.40. That would be my fair share. I did the math.

I’ll pay it. And I won’t even complain

http://www.nypropertytaxmonitor.com/2012/08/25/avoiding-property-taxes-in-new-york-exemptions-and-abatements-in-the-news/

https://www.habitatnyc.org/pdf/advocate/Pratt421a.pdf

https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/i-love-the-irs/

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