Friday, September 25, 2009

The Real Deal

Last night I watched President Obama’s appearance on Letterman’s show (isn’t TIVO and DVR technology wonderful?). I observed a few things. First of all, the guy has a good sense of humor. And he’s a good sport. And in my opinion, he’s the real deal.

For around 25 years, I made my living in credit and collections. And there were certain elements of the job I was quite good at. One of them was the ability to make judgments about a person’s character after a brief encounter on the telephone. I excelled at this. And it was an important part of the process. In the beginning, much of my review hinged on that ability. I needed to make phone calls and insure people would make good on their contractual agreements and how much flexibility was offered was very much based on my gut feelings of whether or not they were telling me the truth. As I progressed into supervision and management, I still needed to make those decisions for those customers who insisted on “talking to a manager”. Now nobody bats 1000 and I’m sure I blew a few calls, but frankly, I can’t remember any big ones. I can, on the other hand, remember many times when I had it right.

And that ability continues to serve me well now. I’m a landlord. I need to make similar decisions when it comes to accepting tenants and occasionally accepting “terms” on how they will get their rent paid. To date, I have been paid every dime owed to me in rent and not every tenant has had what you would call an exemplary credit score. I’ve even let them slide beyond what some would consider reasonable delays. But in the time it takes to show an apartment I already have a pretty good idea whether or not they will pay their rent. I don’t approve or deny an application to rent based solely on credit. I believe everyone needs a place to live and I try to afford that. Of course I don’t want to do it at my expense. Call it a sixth sense if you will. Or, as I often refer to it, my “spider senses” (any Spider Man fans out there?).

So I listened to our President talk about the economy, healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan, his family, the job of being president, etc., and not once did my spider senses start “tingling”. What I heard, or better yet, what I felt, was that this guy is the real deal. He’s intelligent. He’s articulate. And he cares about America. Does he have all the answers? I doubt it. Who does? Is he better than the last guy? You bet your ass he is (but you or I likely would be too). Is he a liar? Well, he's a politician. Unfortunately I don't think we can completely trust any of them. But is he a liar by nature? No, he's not.

So how come the radical right tries to paint him as a liar? I have a friend who seems to enjoy referring to him as the “liar in chief”. Why is that? I’ll tell you why. They do it because they have to. If this guy is telling the truth, wouldn’t that make the right a pack of liars? I mean they have fought this guy tooth and nail every step of the way. They better hope he’s lying. If he’s not, boy are they going to look stupid. Or has that already happened?

Look, we live in a two party system. I get it. I suppose on some level, everyone has a right to fight for their own best interests. But where it becomes despicable is when they do it with total disregard for the interests of others. I like to use the example of taxes. If you made $20,000 a year and Uncle Sam came in and took 50% of it that would be a huge hit to you. You aren’t going to be living an affluent life style at 20 grand, let alone 10 grand. But if you make $6 million a year and the government takes 50%, you are still left with $3 million. Hardly a pauper’s income. And no, I’m not suggesting a 50% tax on the rich (although it would be nice to see them get screwed for a change). I use those figures for illustrative purposes only. The right has perfected the science of getting people to vote against their own best interests. A perfect example is the “Einstein” who stood up at a town hall meeting and screamed “Keep the government out of my Medicare”. How can someone so dumb, be so passionate, if not whipped into a frenzy by the mighty right wing propaganda machine?

So let the right keep slinging mud. Let them talk about their “death panels” and “lack of choice” and “government takeover of health care”. Let them rant about socialism and communism. I truly believe that what they are doing is revealing themselves to be selfish, lying, infantile, dullards that will bring their own party to it’s knees, without any help from the rest of us.

Common Sense

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Me and Mr. Johnson

I believe we are all prejudiced to a degree. If you look at a black man, and see a black man instead of a man that happens to be black you have some degree of bigotry. It’s a nuance but a valid one. We just have not evolved to the point where we don’t SEE color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and at some base level allow it to formulate some conscious manifestation. Those of us who are strong enough, educated enough, sane enough, mature enough, caring enough, kind enough, fight these base considerations off and keep them out of our rational decision making process. Those of us who aren’t, are Neo Nazis, sexists, racists, homophobes, etc. But we still live in a society where all these forms of prejudice exist. It is better now than it was when our parents were at their prime. And I suspect it will improve from generation to generation. But for now, it’s there.

Today we are going to talk a little about homophobia as it applies to personal space and etiquette in a men’s restroom and locker room. Now I don’t know anything at all about women’s etiquette. Judging from the herding behavior that seems prevalent when they visit the restroom I don’t think I want to know. I’m assuming these rules and guidelines don’t apply. But guys, for crying out loud, get a clue. In 54 years not once has a man looked at me and asked “Do you want to go to the men’s room”? There is a reason for that. It’s the underlying homophobia in all of us.

For example, if you walk into a rest room to whiz, and there are a row of empty urinals, you DON’T pick the one right next to the lone guy who’s already tending to business. You need at LEAST one urinal of separation between you and that other guy. Preferably more if it’s available. That’s the law. It is a definitive breach of urinal etiquette to sashay up to an adjoining urinal and whip it out. It is a MAJOR breach to strike up a conversation. Unless you have known someone for at least a year chit chat at the pisser is forbidden. No one wants to talk to you when they are taking a leak and no one should want to talk to you while you yourself are leaking.

I rode to Sturgis with my wife and a friend in 2008. Great trip. But our stop at Mt. Rushmore was ruined for me by some maniac in the men’s room. It was like he was out to violate every urinal rule in existence. First he takes the spot right next to me. You know you always feel a little uncomfortable when a guy has options but heads straight to the urinal immediately adjoining yours. Then the SOB decides to strike up a conversation. I’ve already stated this is taboo. I mean, it’s hard enough to pee in front of some stranger. We’ve all experienced an advanced form of this at major sports stadiums. You’re standing at what I call “the trough”. You have no choice but to be shoulder to shoulder. There is a line waiting behind you. The pressure is enormous! “Oh God, let me pee… everybody is waiting… guys are coming and going next to me…everyone is wondering what my problem is… etc….”. Shit, I’ve had occasions where I’ve PRETENDED to finish up, shake it off, and slink out with the intention of coming back when all these people are gone. Of course that opens the door to “everyone must be thinking what a pain in the ass… I had to wait for this guy and he didn’t even pee” scenario. This is why so many men head straight to the shitters in these circumstances. They want some privacy. So anyway, this guy (who happens to be in his late ‘70’s or early 80’s which makes his next move even worse) is two for two. He’s right next to me. He’s talking to me. But then he hits the grand slam. Out of the corner of my eye (and I swear I’m not making this up) I see him start stroking his sacred salami like he was at home with a Hustler magazine! OMG, how the hell do you deal with that! I mean give me a fucking break! So of course I’m standing there doing the “oh God, let me pee” thing. Now I can only assume when you hit your late 70’s or early 80’s you need a little help getting the flow started. But Jesus Christ! If ever there was a guy who should take it to the shitter this was him. Well, he finishes up and keeps chatting! I haven’t dripped a drop! But I stood firm until he left. How long could it be right? And I knew he’d leave soon. No one else was in there and I really had to go. He left and I let it fly and got the hell out of there, traumatized to the point where to this day, I have no idea what the fuck he was talking about.

But what brought this subject up was an experience I had yesterday at the local YMCA where I work out. It was a light workout. Thirty five minutes on an elliptical machine then off to the shower. Should have been an easy deal with no incidents. But while in the locker room changing into my workout clothes this guy comes out of the shower and into my row of lockers. Now I kind of know this guy. We see each other there often enough to acknowledge each others presence through friendly conversation. He’s a nice guy. And he’s a talker. I mean yackity yack talker. Which is fine, as long as he’s not standing within three feet of me offering full frontal nudity with not even the slightest semblance of modesty. He’s standing up, I’m sitting down… it was ugly. This is taboo behavior for several reasons. First I should say that I am not blatantly homophobic. I have had very close friendships with gay men and not once has one of them come on to me. One has passed on and I miss him dearly. I believe in gay marriage. But in a sense, I suppose I’ve always viewed it as being analogous to befriending a woman, without tits, who likes football…. But, nothing brings out the subverted homophobic sirens in your head more than some guy waving his Willie in your face. You fight like hell not to look. If you do, he may think you want to. Of course, he may think you’re a homophobic asshole if you don’t. This is a lose lose situation and it is tremendously discourteous to wave your wanker at someone while engaged in conversation. Now I’m no prude. Just ask my family. I sleep in the buff. I’ll even walk around the upstairs of our house in the buff. Occasionally, I’ll venture downstairs in the buff. But I don’t converse in close quarters with my neighbors offering a square straight up shot of Mr. Johnson while standing within two feet of them!

OK, so as if I’m not uncomfortable enough, this very nice guy, who I have no problem chatting with, but who is making me very uncomfortable with his free spirited “I dare you to look” laissez faire attitude regarding his tube snake… this guy has the unmitigated gall to grab a handful of talcum powder and start rubbing it all over his crotch like flea powder on a dog! I mean COME ON DUDE. WTF? Was he trying to make me pass out?

So, if you must strike up a conversation in a locker room and Dick, the one eyed trouser trout is enjoying some fresh air, turn aside. Wrap a towel around your waist. Pretend to be sorting through your locker so you don’t look like you’re trolling the wiener. But DON’T close in on another guy’s personal space. What he will see is a gigantic man eating penis coming straight at him with the intent to either chow down or beat him to death.


Common Sense

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'm Goin Off The Rails On A Crazy Train... (Ozzy Osbourne)

Holy Shit! Talk about a hornet’s nest! Yesterday I voted “yes” in a Facebook poll asking if the president should be able to address school children without a response from the opposition. Immediately below that, I posted that I was “stunned that the Obama speech to children has become an issue. I hope the speech is brilliant and those in opposition are revealed to be the idiots they are. These people are really starting to piss me off......”

Get this. Those two entries generated a combined 49 comments (so far)! I had a busy day and couldn’t possibly respond to them all so I’m writing this blog. And I am going to offer up two links that pretty much say it all. The right is self destructing. Why this is happening (and I have said this before) is summed up beautifully in an article entitled “Republican Popularity Plummeting As They Continue Boarding The Crazy Train”. It speaks to the declining popularity of the GOP and points out it’s bastion of strength lies in southern white males. But even THAT is beginning to deteriorate. It states that 69% of the “Birthers” (you know, the nut jobs that insist Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii) are from the southern states. This is not good for Southerners. It’s not like they haven’t been trying to shake off stereotypical characterizations since the civil war. There are a lot of great people from the south. There are apparently also a lot of nuts (no, not peanuts… but those too). The article cites other examples of this phenomena and is an interesting read. Check it out here….

The second link is a letter from “Helen” to “Margaret”. Helen and Margaret have apparently been best friends for 60 years. The sight lists postings from both of them. It’s a lot of fun. Take a look. I will let you read the specific letter for yourself. Frankly, I don’t think I have anything to add. Helen says it all! She thinks the GOP has gone crazy too.

Many thanks to the high school friend who sent me the links in response to all the Facebook activity. This isn’t the first time I’ve used his stuff!

So, I’ve been asked how I would have felt if THE MORON had addressed our kids. What the fuck are these people talking about? Is there a President in recent history who never addressed our school kids in one way or another? THE MORON went into schools. THE MORON was reading to kids while we were under attack and didn’t seem to be in too big a hurry to STOP reading to check on the situation. I never uttered a peep when THE MORON read to or addressed children. And he was a MORON. Obama graduated Suma Cum Laude. He made the Harvard Law Review. He taught constitutional law. And these fucking lunatics have a problem with the guy but were perfectly OK with THE MORON. We need to start calling bullshit on these people. I mean it really is a form of insanity. The GOP agenda is being pushed along by crazy people. And my God are they stupid! When are they going to realize that they are making total fools of themselves?


Common Sense

Friday, September 4, 2009

School Daze.

I’m reading with mild amusement the arguments against President Obama’s scheduled speech to school children next week. That’s right, more fodder. Are these people really this stupid? What are they afraid he’s going to say? I thought maybe I would put together a list of things that should be forbidden so we don’t upset our conservative friends.

1. “If Mommy and Daddy voted for John McCain they don’t really love you”. Maybe it’s true. I mean an argument can be made that a vote for McCain was a vote for the same old shit and the same old shit wasn’t working. Therefore, the future may not have looked all that bright. And if the future doesn’t look bright, what’s in it for the kids? So I guess a vote for McCain really was a statement that you don’t love your kids. But it’s inflammatory so I hope he doesn’t say it.

2. “The last guy was going to do this but his advisors pointed out that English wasn’t his strong suit and most of you kids are smarter than him”. Also true. But divisive. Those on the right might find it unfair that their last guy could barely speak and the subsequent embarrassment would do nothing to increase support for the current administration so he should avoid any mention of THE MORON (my nickname for GW).

3. “Republicans are dumber than you”. Now, this is not always true. I know a lot of very intelligent Republicans. Some of them are stand up guys. But some of them are very greedy. And others might not be all that honest. But there are intelligent Republicans out there. We just don’t notice them that often because of all the idiots screaming about socialism, the funding of the illegal alien war machine, and the Godless Satanic Worship services that go on behind closed doors in the White House. So, even though it’s basically true, he shouldn’t say it. It might call even more attention to the morons which will incite other morons which could create some kind of “moron movement” which I’m guessing he is trying to avoid by speaking to school children in the first place.

4. “Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter are lying sacks of shit”. Uh... Wait. He can say that.

5. “I want to give a shout out to Ray, Squiggie, and Killa’, my brothers in ‘da hood”. Yeah, I think it would be hysterical. But the joke would go right over the heads of most Americans and the right would be screaming “See! We told you so!”

6. “Hello my little Jihadists! Salaam Alaikum!” I think the aforementioned Rush and Anne would have a field day with this. Another joke to be avoided.

7. “You know, when I was your age, I was in a Muslim school learning how to kill “Whitie”. See #’s 5 & 6 above. Jokes are not a good idea.

8. “Until I get this torture thing all straightened out, it’s probably legal for your dad to water-board you if you don’t fess up who ate the last of the Ben & Jerry’s”. We don’t want to panic the kids or give Republican dads any ideas.

9. “If your parents don’t support this new health care movement, what they are really saying is they want you dead!” Hey, it’s a little inflammatory.

10. “That Sarah Palin is one fine lookin’ ho”. See #’s 4, 5, 6, and 7 above.

Seriously, what could he possibly say that would be offensive or destructive? I mean, despite all the rhetoric, he's a father too! And a politician who probably wants to seek another term. What do these people think he is going to do? Get up there and incite a riot?

If Mr. Obama came out and said that the world would be a better place if Republicans and Democrats learned how to get along. That he really wants to do a great job for all Americans, not just Democrats. That the future of this great country is highly dependent on how well the kids do in school. That they should study hard and go to college. That they should prepare themselves to secure good paying jobs that make a difference in how we all live. That they should stay away from gangs, and drugs, and guns, and spend time at the library or playing sports instead. If he came out and said all these things, the right would, I’m sure, find a way to condemn him for it. And that’s a very sad thing.

I’m routing for you Mr. President.

Common Sense

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ask AARP.... They Know

OK, OK... I'm beating this healthcare thing to death. But it's not really about the healthcare. It's about the lies. So, I noticed an article in the AARP Bulletin, September issue, that addresses some of the "lies" being propagated about the proposed change. And yes, they call them lies. Rumors and lies actually. Now, can we even agree that the AARP is non-partisan? I mean, I have to believe that there are far more older conservatives than younger ones right? So one would suspect if the AARP has a political bias it would be towards the right. Is the right going to now classify the AARP as a mouthpiece for the liberal, communist, anti American, scum living among us? I don't want to be responsible for that!

Anyway, you can read the article here.

I'm going to try to post the link to the right under Links (duh) but I don't remember how I did that last one so who knows. You can read the detail in the article but here is the basic version.

"Will the government take over health care so we wind up with socialized medicine?"


"Will private insurance be outlawed or wither on the vine?"


"Will the government encourage euthanasia to save costs?" (I still can't believe there are people out there stupid enough to believe this... but I guess there must be or it wouldn't be an issue).


"Will Medicare be eliminated or gutted to pay for reform?"


"Will the government ration care?"


So there you have it. Let's call it the big 5. These do seem to be the rumors that circulate the most. They are certainly among the most quoted arguments against reform. So what does this tell us about the other arguments against reform? At the very least, are they not rendered suspect? And at the risk of sounding like a broken record (For you "younguns", a record was a vinyl platter that served the same function as a CD does today. When scratched, it often would repeat a brief section over and over again... thus the expression. Ask your parents...), why does the right feel the need to fabricate, exaggerate, and lie to get their points (are they points?) across? Isn't it a sad commentary on their ethics and morals? Not to mention the unfounded fear they seem to live with.

A friend of mine recently posted a great quote on his facebook page. It is a quote attributed to a Chinese writer named Lin Yutang (1895-1976). It says “When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set." I don’t know about you but this scares me. There are some pretty “small” men and women out there casting very big shadows. These right wing-nuts who base their entire political philosophy on misinformation and then choose to broadcast it all over the web and scream it at town hall meetings. The right wing pundits who spread fear, hate, and political lunacy in the hopes of turning the American public into the raving maniacs they have become. Many of my friends and acquaintances who are so full of anger and hate that they can’t seem to think clearly and argue rationally. These are all some pretty small men and women. Let’s just hope that our sun isn’t setting.

By the way, still no word from the right on specific issues within the Congressional bill with the one exception mentioned in an earlier post. I guess there either are none, these people can’t read, or they don’t want to admit to being lying sacks of shit.


Common Sense