Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Sequel

I’ve told you before:  I know these folks.  I grew up where the book was written and the movies filmed.  So I know all about these gals.

They don’t look or act any different in person than on TV.  They are molded this way from a special polymer.  From the earliest vestiges of childhood, they know their part.  They walk a little differently than you and me, they talk a little differently.  They stand a little differently.  The nose is up, the eyes are either scornful when looking at you and me, or doe-eyed, when looking at Daddy or Hubby or money or jewels.

Yes, here they are:

Did you hear that they’re coming out with a sequel?  GOP Stepford Wives!  Just look at the cast!  Perfect!

Ann “I smell liberals” Romney gets top billing.  This year, anyway.

And who can forget Cindy “Let them eat cake” McCain from 2008?

My shoes cost more than you make in a year!

They follow Laura “I should have married Jeb” Bush

How long do I have to smile?

And Nancy “I started this doe-eyed look, so honor me” Reagan

There will also be appearances by some who chose their spouses poorly:

Calista “I am the third wife of a serial cheater and hypocrite, pity me” Gingrich

Calista is still waiting to use that adoring look during Newt’s first State of the Union Address. With luck, she’ll wait forever.

And, there will be an appearance by the GOP’s token Female Candidate, Michele Bachmann

I want to be mayor of Stepford and make more women become just like me — certifiable.

I can’t wait to see this movie.  I’m betting the popcorn will be plastic, too.

[All photos are from Google, my God.]

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French is Dangerous

You’ve heard me talk about this before (Merde 101).  But the world has gotten more dangerous since I wrote that piece.  We need to be on the lookout.  We need to be vigilant.  We need to speak English.  No, this is not an anti-immigrant piece.  This is a potential-worldwide-calamity-caused-by-incomprehensible-grammar piece.

Yes, it’s true.  I’m saying that all roads to terrorism are sign-posted in FRENCH.  Believe me.  I lived there.  I know.  Well, I don’t know the language, but I know those signposts.  And what they say.  More or less.

Why would I make such an accusation?  Because French is stupid.

Well, actually, it’s really French possessives.  French possessives are stupid, illogical, dangerous.

You see, in French, objects get the gender of the object/noun, not the owner.  And that, is of course, the problem.

Imagine that there is a man and a woman in a train station.  Between them is a suitcase.

Google Image (or KGB?)

In it is a nuclear bomb.  Desperate to foil the bad guys, you cannot just shout out “It’s HIS!” pointing to the man who can be arrested and the bomb diffused.

Google Images are everywhere

Why not?

Because the word for suitcase in French is “valise” which is feminine.  Therefore, you can only say “It’s HERS” (“Est la valise!”) — regardless of who owns the suitcase/nuclear bomb.  The bomb would go off and everyone would die.

The terrorists would succeed because French is stupid.

Not speaking French is the way to protect the world.

*****

One of my blogging buddies, Paprika of Good Humored felt stupid recently.  She wrote about it here:  At Least We Can See France From Our Toilet.  And it’s not her fault.  You see, Paprika and her husband Oregano found themselves in French-speaking Switzerland, just down the road from where I used to live.  They came back feeling stupid.  They shouldn’t have.  Instead, they should have come back relieved that they had survived a nuclear attack.

[Note to folks who actually know French:  Before you get on my case, I do know that there are other was to say “It’s HIS.” But they are not short, sweet and to the point.  They are long and involved and the bomb would explode by the time anyone could get the sentence out.  The Terrorists would still win.]

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Way to Go, Chris!

This is a true story that happened in about 1980/81.  It was early in my career.  Really early.  I worked as a lobbyist back then.  What I really was, though, was a flunky.  Mostly my job involved going to government buildings and Xeroxing.  Yes, being a lobbyist can be exciting.

But one day when an important vote was coming up that impacted my firm’s clients, I was asked to make some phone calls to find out what was going to happen.

I didn’t know the issue.  I didn’t know “the players” – the Congressmen and women who were involved in the issue.  I didn’t know their staffs.  I didn’t know shit.

So naturally, in trying to find out the information I needed, I started at the top.

I called the office of the Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neil.  And somehow I got through to Tip’s Chief of Staff, Chris Matthews.

Now, normally, flunkies like me don’t get to speak with high level staff unless they know the guy.  I didn’t know Chris, and he didn’t know me.

I started the conversation the way I always did with my sure-fire trick to get help.  You see, not only was I very young, well, I sounded even younger.  I sounded about 12, according to friends.  So, well, I took advantage of it …

“This is probably a stupid question,” I began (as I often did).

“There are no stupid questions.  Ask me anything you want, and I’ll do my best to help you,” said Chris Mathews, Chief of Staff to one of the most powerful politicians in Washington.  To me!

Chris not only answered my question, but he explained how things happened, how they were likely to play out on this issue, what other issues might be helpful for me to look into.  He told me what was happening on the issue in the Senate.  He spent about 30 minutes helping a young, inexperienced person he didn’t really need to help.  He was terrific, and I’ve never forgotten him or his voice.

When I went back to my bosses to tell them the news, well, to be honest, I wasn’t really sure who Chris Matthews was.  But when they asked for the source of my information, well, they were impressed.  Because I had gotten to talk with Chris and they had been unable to get through to him.

I did less Xeroxing after that day.  A lot less.  And I’ve used the information and the knowledge that Chris helped me get ever since.

So this morning when I learned that as an MSNBC “Talking Head,” Chris Matthews called out the head of the GOP because they continually play the race card, and divide America.  Today, I am proud of being able to say that Chris Matthews was one of my teachers.  Way to go, Chris.  Way to go.

And thanks, Chris.  For everything.

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Property Rights

As you can probably tell, I don’t normally struggle with making my opinion known.  But the last few days I’ve been so overwhelmed by the crap that the GOP is spewing that, well, I went into “outrage overload.”  It’s an epidemic amongst thinking Americans everywhere.

But after reading Eleanor Tomczyk of How The Hell Did I End Up Here, I was reminded of someone I knew slightly when I worked at a law school in my younger days.

Mark was member of the “Lawyers for Christ” group while at law school, and was known as a deeply devout, incredibly pleasant guy.  We weren’t close friends, but he was a nice guy.

Well, Mark is now a Federal Judge!  It’s pretty cool, isn’t it?  I mean when folks you know make good?

One night when Mark was in DC, I was invited to a dinner of some of his law school classmates who were also friends of mine.  I came away in shock.  Because this good man who had been the bible studies leader at law school, the number one Christian sharing his beliefs and values, well, Mark had changed.

“I went back home and studied my soul, studied my bible,” Mark said.  “And I came away knowing that Christianity, in fact, all the beliefs Jesus preached on, well, they’re based on property rightsIn fact, Jesus preached property rights.”

Huh?

Yes, Mark, the man who had believed that Jesus preached love, preached helping the poor, preached paying Caesar what is Caesar’s now had, well, a different line of thinking.  One that was way more compatible with his expanding wallet, waistband and increasing prominence as a fat-cat GOP member.

Holy Shit. 

Available for $3.95 from Zazzle.com. It’s their picture.

Or should I say “Holy Bullshit”?

Stephen Colbert on Jesus and Our Christian Nation

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus is just as selfish as we are or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition. And then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”  – Stephen Colbert

Mark, Federal Judge Mark, that is, went with Stephen’s first option – choosing to believe that Jesus was just as selfish.

Me, I believe that Jesus would be a liberal Democrat.  Because the difference in the parties can be summed up one way:

Democrats believe in helping the poor;

Republicans believe in helping themselves.

*     *     *     *     *

Thanks to Eleanor Tomczyk of How The Hell Did I End Up Here for reminding me of this conversation and for her incredibly eloquent post on this subject:  A Warning to Mittens and the Gang.  Eleanor included Colbert’s comment, which I must say, I think of often.

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Twisted Knickers

Ladies, ladies, ladies.  Please.  Don’t get yourself extra-cited about this news item from yesterday.

Just because this man who clearly has never gotten a proper “birds and bees” lecture is possibly going to be the next Senator from Missouri is no reason to get upset.  Besides, there are a whole bunch of Senate and House candidates who feel the same way as Todd.  But don’t worry your pretty little head about it.

And another thing.  Just because the nominee for Vice President, Paul Ryan (R-Neanderthal) agrees with Todd, well, that is no reason to worry either.  Here is a link to some of that cute Pauly’s positions, but I’m sure you have dishes to do.

Trust me.  Not a thing will happen if these guys are elected.  Nothing will change.  Not with abortion.  Not with birth control.  Not with Medicare.

“Now how can you be so sure about all of that, Elyse?” you wonder.

Well, just now I got an email from CNN that reassured me that we ladies just made huge progress in equal rights.  So much so that we no longer have to concern ourselves with issues of birth control, of abortion, of violence against women.  About equal pay for equal work.  Because this is HUGE:

Augusta National Golf Club admits first female members

Augusta National Golf Club has admitted its first female members, the private club announced Monday.

The decision to admit former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore of Lake City, South Carolina, ends a longstanding policy excluding women as members of the exclusive Georgia club, which hosts the Masters.

So ladies, don’t get your knickers in a twist about Todd Akin.  Or about Paul Ryan.  Or about any of the other crazy right wing candidates who may directly impact your life come November.

Wait a minute.  On second thought, maybe getting your knickers in a twist would be a good thing!  After all, doctors have told me privately that “twisted knickers” is a great method of birth control.

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Give ‘Em Hell, Henry!

He’s been a hero of mine for more than thirty years.  A short little guy who I’m pretty sure was bald in high school.  But over the years I’ve watched him fight.  He’s fought tirelessly for a cleaner environment, a safer world, and for all kinds of tools, programs and systems to help improve the health of Americans.

I’m speaking of course of Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), past and future Chairman, currently Ranking Minority Member (head Democrat) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) (Roll Call photo credit)

Energy and Commerce isn’t just any crummy old Committee.  Nope.  E&C has jurisdiction over a zillion things that touch our lives.  Energy (fossil fuels, wind, solar, alternatives), environmental issues (Clean water, clean air, pollution controls on cars and trucks), interstate commerce, the internets (Al Gore was on E&C when he really was instrumental in the start of what became the World Wide Web.  So he is actually the father of all blogs, too — thanks Al).  E&C is a seriously powerful committee.  And when I was a young professional, well, I was an Energy and Commerce Committee groupie.  More about that some other time.

Early on, Henry became my hero.  And not just because he is incredibly funny.  He’s also incredibly smart and quite crafty.  Isn’t it nice to know that sometimes heroes just keep on keepin’ on?  Henry?  Congressman Waxman?  Yup.  He’s like that.  He’s still my hero.  He doesn’t disappoint.

You see, today I read that he, along with Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee, released a treasure trove of information to help Americans sort stuff out for November’s election.  But it’s simple, clear, and easy to use.  That is especially helpful, don’t you think?  You’ve got to admit that all of these Medicare/Social Security/Vaginal issues are getting confusing.

But now, now thanks to Henry, now we can sort out just what the Ryan plan will mean closer to home.  Because they just released a compilation of what the Ryan Plan will mean in each and every congressional district in the United States.  These were put together by an assortment of independent, government and academic thinkers who have analyzed the Paul Ryan Medicare Changes to see what it will mean to you and me.  Yup, everybody can now see just exactly what GOP Candidate for Vice President Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan will mean to them and the people in their own little congressional districts.  As in right here at home.

The Paul Ryan Medicare Plan; How will it affect your district?


So go ahead.  Check it out.  Click on it.  It took me forever to figure out how to do that, too.  Humor me.  What would these changes mean in your district? In your life?

My thanks to Joan McCarter of Dailykos.com for her post (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/18/1120987/-House-Democrats-spell-out-Medicare-Medicaid-impact-of-Romney-Ryan-plan).

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Hot Diggity Dog!

I grew up poor and white on the Gold Coast of Connecticut in Fairfield County.  Yes, I grew up surrounded by beautiful mansions of the very rich.  My family?  We were really poor.  One bathroom, share-a-bedroom poor.  No heat those first few winters-poor.  Clothes that weren’t hand-me-downs were bought at Barkers, the local discount department store.  Way before saving money and Targét became cool.  Barkers was decidedly not cool.

The Gold Coast. That house on the left behind the trees has a ballroom. Literally. They held Cinderella balls there. Or Gatsby balls. They didn’t invite this guttersnipe, though.

We never complained.  Not that we didn’t want to, but it did no good.  Once, my sister Judy complained:

“None of my friends have to buy their Easter dresses at Barkers,” she began to whine.  She stopped when she saw that Dad had overheard her.  She knew what was coming.  So did I.

Well,” said Dad, “you’ve never gone to bed hungry, have you?”

Judy and I exchanged looks.  It was coming.  The hot dog story.  That was the reason we never moaned aloud about our penury.  We knew we’d have to hear the hot dog story.  Again. And we’d have to figure out what “penury” meant.

“When I was your age,” Dad continued,  (Judy and I tried not to look bored)   “When I was your age,” he repeated, “the Depression was on.  My Dad, your grandfather, who built some of the houses around here, couldn’t find work.  No one was building.  No one was hiring.  No one was paying for anything.  No matter how hard anyone was willing to work, there was no work.  No way to feed the family.”

“There were seven of us.  And I remember being hungry.  Going to bed with an empty stomach because I made sure that my mother would have half of my share.  Whatever we had.  One night I remember I had to go to the store to get two hot dogs.  That night, there were two hot dogs and some beans for dinner.  And that was a feast.  For seven of us.”

The story never had the impact on us that Dad intended.  It made us roll our eyes.  It made us certain that he was exaggerating.  It made us feel embarrassed that he was even more poor then than we were now.

Of course we didn’t go to bed hungry.  We lived in America.  Duh!   Kids don’t go to bed hungry here!  Jezum Crow!

But you know, our friends were oblivious to the idea that there were things that folks like us couldn’t afford.  They didn’t understand why we weren’t jetting off to the Caribbean or to Europe or to Disney the way they did.  They didn’t understand that we couldn’t be in the school play because we couldn’t afford the special (very expensive) skirts that became the von Trapp children’s outfits that were supposed to come from Maria’s drapes.  That we couldn’t even bear to ask our parents for it.

Lack of money was something that our friends simply had never experienced.  They weren’t intentionally callous, they just didn’t get it. It was like trying to explain music to a someone who had never been able to hear.  Possible, but challenging. And it took a lot of work.

Now I tell you this story so you know that I have been surrounded by rich people.  So I’m familiar with just how completely oblivious folks can be if they have never had to live on nothing more than two hot dogs and some beans.

Today, I would give anything to have Dad deliver his hot dog lecture.  And I know just who needs to hear it.

You see, today I read an interesting article about Ann and Mitt Romney, and how poor they once were.  Yes, it’s true.  Mitt and Ann were once poor. Ann said so in an interview in 1994!

I was astonished.  Aghast.  I wished I had a couple of hot dogs to offer them. (Sadly, they now have a “no dogs” policy.)

Ann tells the gut-wrenching story about how they once lived in a basement apartment with no carpeting.  They had to eat tuna and pasta.  They didn’t entertain.  They struggled.  They had to sell stock to pay the bills!

Yes, the poor Romneys.  [Hanky, please!]  All they had to live off was the stock that Mitt’s Dad had given him for his birthdays.  Stock that had started at $6 per share but ended up at over $90.  And, hard swallow here, Mitt and Ann were chipping away at the principle!  Eating their seed corn!  Whatever would become of them?

Imagine that.  Just imagine having to sacrifice so much.

So I totally get how big-hearted they must be.  How they understand the plight of the working poor, how they understand the sacrifices needed to achieve success.

Because all you really need to do to succeed in today’s world is to get stock from your parents.  Duh.

Mitt and Ann in rags. Very formal rags.

Related articles:  http://www.samefacts.com/2012/01/income-distribution/mitt-romney-and-ann-the-students-struggling-so-much-that-they-had-to-sell-stock/

*     *    *

As a kid, I really did feel like I was poor.  But I wasn’t.  As an adult, I learned that there really were poor people, people who went to bed hungry and whose children went to bed hungry.
I also learned that “The Poor” does not include folks who live by selling bits and pieces of their stock portfolio.  There is a big difference, and it’s not just in perception.  It’s in reality.

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