Traditional writers write for the wages, the sages, or the ages
A blogger writes for the pages

If you tell anyone about this page, it won't be just for you any more

Ageless Blogs

Light Sweet Crud
Rey Barry's Blog

Proud to be one of the trivial many
as unique in his sameness as you in yours

Equally menaced by Ivanwald (look it up) in the
twilight of the age of Aquarius

I am, therefore I think
Page last touched Sept. 10 2020

Index - click on a link

-NEW NEWEST - Did I skewer the nation's leading fraud?
-NEWEST - Turned down by The New Yorker
-NOT NEWEST - Report from alien visitors
-NOT NEWER - Constitutional Convention - Take II
-NOT NEW - I write song parodies like "Green Pastures Monsanto"
Crystal ball on turning 80
Take control of Negative Option Renewal
A little defense against Trump & Pence
All religions are make-believe
You can be a spider in their bed
Is Russia finally going to bury us?
The greatest American patriot since the Revolution?
Our Christian military industrial congress
My life's amazing coincidences
Vindication after 45 years
Meaningful freedom in the US is gone
I can't hold my liquor
Farewell Consumer Reports Online
Goddam unions, goddam liberals
A Constitutional Convention?
Why can't I own a Canadian?
The US mirror they never show us
There are no gods

- FUN - The Jazz Name Game
Bank of America: Skullduggery Unlimited
The Year Larry Sabato ate crow
We're the Germans now
British sports cars - pretty but built like crap
These are, after all, Arabs
If Cole Porter had lived to hear rap
Would you tame big oil?
Democrats also have a "trickle down" policy
The Kelo decision: If you're from the
government, I'm here to help you

What liberals are guilty of - the good side
Comments before & after the Bush re-election
9-11 The luck of the Jews (a must see)
We get the president only some deserve
Our fascinating minds
Modern films, YEECH!
Un-American and proud of it
"Dear Valued Customer"
Time for an anti-nuclear PUD
The US Holy War
Could the US go bankrupt?

Jean (sic) Dixon's Crystal Ball Assumes Hawkish Glow
Charlottesville Daily Progress, Rey Barry, 21 March 1970

If nothing else, Jeana Dixon is probably America's best known hawk seeress. The lady from Washington who claims supernatural powers of clairvoyance and telepathy also claims the Russians have harnessed "cosmic energy" to power orbiting missiles and she advises government officials to give our own government enough money to do likewise.

Just because Jeane Dixon talked of missiles to the students, faculty, and friends of Fork Union Military Academy in Fluvanna County last Saturday doesn't necessarily mean she tailors her talk to the audience, not anymore than her Cadillac limousine or Christian Dior gowns means she is one of the jet set.

Rich she is, a millionairess by her own admission, and fashion columnist Marian Christy has reported from the Dixon bedroom that the prophetess who has dined at the White House owns not only Diors but "a slew of sables and minks," though Miss Christy explains the furs were "gifts from an indulgent family."

Knowing that may render less convincing Mrs. Dixon's admonition, "World possessions are only temporary" but only to skeptics. Mrs. Dixon herself clearly can accept the reality of sumptuous worldly possessions and the equal reality of their utter unimportance after death — and to derive joy from both.

To understand that is the ticket to cross the threshold to the world of Jeane Dixon, fervent believer in God, successful real estate entrepreneur with her husband, writer of a daily column on astrology, faithful Catholic who married outside her church only after permission from the Pope, business associate of Kentucky Fried Chicken's Col. Sanders, reputed confidante of oil millionaires H.L Hunt and J. Paul Getty, and active promotor of a $100-million-plus Jeane Dixon Medical Center for Children.

She was trapped in the bathroom of her Fork Union motel room last weekend when the door stuck and her first words when she emerged were "I was stuck in one of those in Lansing, Mich., once for 15 minutes."

While Alice Braemer, who whispers she taught Sunday School for 25 years ("Christian Science") before becoming Mrs Dixon's traveling companion, made everyone comfortable for an interview, Mrs.. Dixon commented on a recent unfavorable article about her appearing in the Washingtonian, her home-town periodical.

In the magazine's March [1970] issue staff writer Harvey Katz wrote of Mrs. Dixon's Children to Children Foundation. Under the title "This is no way to run a charity," he printed a recent foundation financial statement showing $119,000 in income was reported to the District of Columbia license bureau.

He said people who had been involved in the foundation told him "not much of the foundation is about children" and a significant portion of foundation income "goes to people who arrange Mrs. Dixon's speaking engagements, answer her mail, and help her write her books, newsletter, and newspaper columns," among other things.

Asked about this, Mrs. Dixon said that $76,000 of the $119,000 was earned largely through her speaking engagements and she turns her income from non-real estate activities over to the foundation.

"I've hired someone to list every penny we spend now, record every 10-cent phone call" in an effort to protect her foundation, she said, noting that Col. Harlan Sanders, the chicken franchiser, is chairman of the foundation's board

She stated that her goal for Children to Children Inc. is a huge Jeane Dixon Medical Center with the most sophisticated laboratories, full facilities for data processing of vast amounts of medical information, and a stained glass chapel in the center crowned with a soaring spire tipped by an eternal flame.

She said she hopes to begin construction of the center in or near Washington this year but if and when it is built, she doesn't foresee a long life for it.

"Divine intervention" in world affairs will occur near the turn of the century and it will have cataclysmic effect with most of the world destroyed, she has predicted.

Other predictions: Within five years the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. will become allies to unite against a common enemy, "communist China in league with a few African countries."

[Ed note: Quite the opposite happened. Two years later, 1972, President Nixon shocked the world by normalizing US relations with China.]

At the end of the century, perhaps 1999, 2000 or 2001, there will be three days and three nights of darkness during which the earth will "shake" causing geological and geographical changes. In the sky will appear a great cross, black with a gold border. When the shaking stops the world will be largely destroyed and "we'll all reach for the same almighty power."

The Nixon administration will end environmental pollution, she predicted, and her answer to the world's population problem is to deny there's a problem. "We have plenty of room for all people, plenty of room," she told her Fork Union audience of nearly 750.

She advised Beetle fans that rumors notwithstanding, Paul McCartney is still alive. [He was.] "The vibrations are there. When the vibrations are there, he's alive," she insisted.

Accompanying Mrs. Dixon to the military academy was William Andre Dupre, an opera tenor Mrs. Dixon said she has supported through her Children to Children Foundation for much of the seven years of the foundation's existence.

She reportedly gave the 34-year-old Dupre $200 to $450 a month for singing lessons and Mrs. Dixon introduced him to her audience as "a leading tenor with New York's Metropolitan Opera Company who recently sang the lead in "Carmen" and "The Turn of the Screw."

Questioned later about this, Dupre, who lives in Roanoke, admitted to a reporter he didn't sing with the Metropolitan Opera but with the New York City Opera Company and his role in "Carmen" wasn't a lead, though otherwise the introduction had been factual.

He prefaced Mrs. Dixon's talk in the school chapel by singing "Danny Boy" and "Let Us Break Bread Together" and closed it joining her on stage for one chorus of "God Bless America."

Sharing the stage for the closing song were Capt. Robert Spencer and Capt Kenneth Hardest of the military academy' English department. They founded the Psychic Science Club at the school which invited Mrs. Dixon to speak, Spencer explained.

Following her chapel talk Mrs. Dixon crossed the road to the school library where cartons of her books were for sale and an autographing table awaited her.

"Bless You" she signed in my complimentary copy of her newest volume, "Reincarnation and Prayers to Live By." It is an expansion of the chapter "Reincarnation" in her best-selling life story "My Life and Prophesies."

She dedicates the new book to "Man Believing and Un-believing."

Shout Unheard

This is my third failing try in 50 years to be a New Yorker contributor. The editor didn't find this, in Johnny Mercer's phrase, swell enough.

Shouts & Murmurs submission to

Isn't it time to create a rival to the Ph.D. college degree? After all, depth only goes so far nowadays. Breadth of knowledge is more vital in a world constantly reborn. Almost daily new planets are found, new elements materialize, new genders get defined, new ways to kill are patented, new emotional states are covered by insurance, new diseases breed support groups, new prehistoric footsteps are unearthed, character assassins destroy anyone on a pedestal.

Given the range of knowledge, doesn't mastering knowing something about everything deserve the same degree of recognition as knowing everything about something?

Ph.D., the gadflies say, means Piled Higher and Deeper. It's the pinnacle for the specialist. But what is there for the generalist, those who know at least a little about a lot? Don't they deserve a pinnacle other than knocking everyone's socks off on "Jeopardy?" Shouldn't there be something awarded those who rise to the top beside a trophy for winning "Trivial Pursuit" competitions?

One solution to this problem is the TP.D., Doctor of Trivial Pursuits. It signifies one has reached the zenith of knowledge wide but thin. It differs from the Ph.D. in being a real time achievement won by orals with no thesis.

One earns a Ph.D by learning, then uncovering, then imagining everything possible about a specific target. The researcher devoting a career to Djuna Barnes, for example, will know all that others have written about this writer. He or she will spend thousands of hours analyzing her books, become an expert on her times and culture, and suffer immersion in the world of lesbian literature. Their claim to originality comes from reporting new meanings in the lines between the lines, intended meanings Barnes surely would have had but no one noticed.

On the other hand the TP.D. holder need only know who Barnes is, what she wrote, and where she fits in. Extra points for reading "Nightwood." But, and here's the point, to earn a TP.D. requires knowing at least something about everyone and everything in every field and every age.

A student of Plato working toward a Ph.D. will begin by committing to memory all his early, middle, and late dialogues and 2400 years of criticism and interpretation. The book he produces about Plato (since converting the Ph.D. thesis to a book is what they all must do to have a career) will include creative chapters on Plato's sex life to attract a publisher.

The TP.D. holder has a different path. He or she learns Plato was Greek and lived a few hundred years BC. Plato described the difference between appearance and reality with shadows on a cave wall, and wrote "The Republic" extolling the concept of a philosopher king. TP.D. holders neither know nor care if Plato slept around.

The Doctor of Astronomy can tell us the weight and composition of Betelguese and track the growing weight of its core, and why that matters to every other star and each planet.

The Doctor of Trivial Pursuits knows Betelguese is aka Alpha Orionis. It's the ninth-brightest star in our sky, second-brightest in Orion, and is reddish. That's it, aside from knowing if a nearby planet is properly pronounced YOUR ANUS as we do, or YUR IN US as a high school teacher might.

For a Ph.D. in chemistry you should know how every chemical reacts with every other chemical in every combination at every temperature and what reactions and combinations are patented.

Chemistry requirements for a TP.D. are knowing the names, symbols, properties, and atomic numbers of the 20 most common elements, and the names of all that were discovered in the 21st century. So far 5:

Extra credit: name those that existed longer than a flash of lightning.

The going gets tougher for a Ph.D. in Philosophy. Everybody ever called one wrote a lot, disagreed with almost everyone else, and seldom stooped to clarity. Without hair-splitting specialization there are no Ph.Ds. awarded in philosophy, making them useless aside from teaching credentials.

No such limits for the TP.D. Familiarity with Wikipedia entries for a few well-known philosophers is all one needs. Popular choices:
Plato Aristotle Socrates Confucius Decartes Hume Kant Locke Marx Mill Nietzsche

Extra credit: Machiavelli, who might do you some good around the office.

Biology is especially tough for the specialist. It encompasses Zoology, Botany, and Microbiology for starters. All the lab work from frog dissection to cell division, to grafting and layering is his. The young specialist becomes Igor in charge of caged rats desperately seeking a discovery that seldom comes.

The generalist doesn't need to know more than hares are larger than rabbits but rabbits have longer ears, and so forth.

Anthropology isn't for laggards, especially in the US where it includes Archeology. Weekly discoveries re-write the textbooks and doom the Ph.D thesis before the champagne hangover is gone. The TP.D can know everything that matters NOW by reading Science News, and remembering that Piltdown Man was a hoax.

Probably the best way to bestow a TP.D. is at parties. We usually recognize people smarter than we are and gasp in awe at the few much smarter than those. When everyone in the room agrees on the list, award a doctorate in Trivial Pursuits.

Copyright Rey Barry 2018



Mind if I savor vindication after 45 years.

"The American public was jolted the night of March 31, 1968, when, at the end of a nationally televised speech on the Vietnam War, President Lyndon Baines Johnson looked directly into the camera and solemnly, unexpectedly, declared: 'I shall not seek, nor will I accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.'"

He cited health reasons. Everyone knew he had a serious heart attack while visiting his family in Farmington outside Charlottesville, Virginia, so no one in media questioned the sincerity of his withdrawal.

But I questioned it; more than questioned.

Within hours I formed a "committee" (me and Ginny, a painter friend) called DBJ - Don't Believe Johnson. With stationery printed, I wrote letters to newspapers across the country saying Lyndon is lying, this is a sneaky ploy to go for the nomination without having to campaign in this horribly hostile Vietnam war climate.

DBJ was not effective because I offered no evidence. No one jumped on my bandwagon.

It's not too late.

The BBC reported in March, 2013, that the LBJ Library just released the last of the Johnson Presidential tapes they will release. Declassified tapes of Johnson's phone calls provide new insight into his world.

Among the revelations - he had planned a dramatic entry into the 1968 Democratic Convention to capture the nomination. No joke.

He didn't do it, of course. The urban guerilla war and police riot that the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention turned into prevented his being there.

But I was right! Goddam it, I was right!

Report from alien visitors

From: aliens visiting Earth
To: home base
RE: Interim Report of Findings

This planet is ruled by one dominant species called the human. Humans have a finite life span. The species renews via bi-sexual contact. New humans emerge equipped with a few reactions they call instincts, zero memory, and zero learning.

At birth they are dependent on others for everything, aside from breathing. As their needs are met, it imprints Trust as the first layer on the raw mind. Most of the time they are shown affection. This applies a second layer termed Love. As time passes they are stopped from some activities and punished if they continue. Obedience becomes the third layer, enforced by guilt.

Everything thereafter is built on these 3 bedrock layers: Trust, Love, Obedience. All Earth's various cultures are built on them.

Dominating all cultures are carefully developed systems of Control, called Religion. Each culture's new generation is indoctrinated to accept this Control via guilt as inevitable.

Building on Trust, they are taught that supernatural force is in Control. Depending on the culture, they will be taught the force is rooted in Love, in Obedience, or a combination.

This is so dominating that most humans live their lives imagining that after death they will exist till infinity worshipping a benign dictator to Trust, Love, and Obey. [There are never elections in the hereafter.]

Many humans have the intelligence, but few the will, to overcome this Control and live a free life.

Those accepting Control have compensations:
Obedience aids advancement,
Love enriches life, and
Trust empowers over-achievement.

There are no gods

There never have been gods.

But there are unanswerable questions. To fill that void came charismatic psychotics saying not only was there a god, but they are connected to it. They went among people offering simplistic answers to our unanswerable questions. They attracted a following which became a cult. After the leader's death, if the cult survived 100 years it was called a religion. In time these split into sects.

The story of every religion on our planet.

How to take control of Negative Option Renewal

I don't have to explain what NOR is to you. If you don't know you would not be reading this.

About 10 years ago Consumer Reports had an article warning about online sites with annual memberships. Their warning was never do business with a site that renewed your membership automatically, and billed you for it. Negative Option Renewal. Bad. Bad.

Within two years Consumer Reports itself was not only using NOR, it had (may still have) one of the most convoluted opt outs of any site in the world.

Here's the answer for sites where the only credit card charge year-to-year is for annual membership.

NOR sites live by charging your credit card. To do that they must provide a convenient way to update your card when it expires and the new one comes.

Don't wait. A few weeks after charging the membership fee to the credit card, log in and change that credit card to another one. I use a card that expired, but any invalid number will do. There is no authentication involved.

Next year when they try to hit your credit card for a renewal behind your back, you're protected. They'll have to email or phone you and give you the choice of renewing. That's not asking too much.

And for sure your estate will not continue paying annual dues after you're dead.

Crystal ball on turning 80
The best thing about turning 80 is it's not 90

Humorist Dave Barry stitches together highlights of the year just past. Rey Barry (any kin?) looks ahead. So let's do that.

Already our refrigerators can text us when we need eggs, our door locks can spring open at the touch of a finger tip, our car - all on its own- can take us to the mall and while we spend money, the car earns it back as a driverless Uber taxicab.

So what's next?

Our toilets will Wifi a daily stool analysis to a medical center. Their reports, then as now, will be full of inaccuracies.

Wikileaks will publish 2 million stolen stool analyses every month. National Enquirer will cherry pick the list looking for tacky celebrities, Sports Illustrated will cherry pick for athletes, and TIME for respectable celebrities. Prevention, Readers Digest, and Conde Nast will rent the list for target marketing of dietary supplements.

Our daily utensils will have sub-miniature robotics which the fools among us will misuse because they can. Teaching a coffee mug to play Hide 'n' Seek is just stupid.

Our vacuum cleaners will Wifi a mandatory indoor air quality report to the EPA in Washington. Failure to meet standards will have serious consequences. The EPA para-military force will expand to rival the Dept. of Education strike force.

In the next Democratic administration, peanut butter will be banned from all public places including parks and beaches. So will sugared drinks, candy bars, and speech not politically correct.

Every neighborhood park, to remain open, must be under constant surveillance by an armed police officer and a back-up. Peanut butter "sniffers" will be installed.

The National Rifle Association will endow a million dollar Second Amendment Chair at every college and university willing to have one. Only Brandeis, Evergreen, and Guilford will turn it down.

To maximize monetizing, Apple, the wealthiest corporation in the world, will cease allowing ownership of its computers, phones, tablets, software, and applications and instead lease them for monthly fees requiring AutoPay.

Exercising its rights under Digital Rights Management laws, Apple will require web sites and newspapers to remove For Sale ads for any Apple products, declaring no Apple product can be sold legally. The Supreme Court will decline to consider a legal challenge. Every manufacturer will follow Apple down this path.

The state of Michigan will be the first state to declare bankruptcy and default on its bonds and lottery payments. Bank of America will offer to bail them out at 32% interest and a first lien on every property in Grosse Pointe.

The teen idol hired to sing the Star-Spangled Banner at the Superbowl will have a US flag prominently tattooed on her naked butt. The states will be represented by emoji smiley faces.

The Texas legislature will pass a law requiring every fetus removed by abortion to be re-inserted in the uterus within 2 days. The governor will sign it in a joint prayer ceremony with Oklahoma's governor.

An unknown indian tribe numbering 72 will lay claim to ownership of the Grand Canyon as its holy burial ground and the Supreme Court will uphold the claim 7 to 2.

The FCC, deciding that uniformity be mandatory, will require every commercial TV station to devote a portion of its half-hour newscast to news, a portion to sports, and a portion to weather, featuring men and women of several races seated behind a workstation and engaging in banter. The TV stations will run to the American Civil Liberties Union for protection from this attack on their uniqueness and individuality.

Donald Trump's choice of his popular daughter as his running mate in 2020 assures us 8 years of a Trump administration, and possibly more.

Religion is Warm Make-Believe

Your religion, if you have one, is based on make-believe. Most people realize that but lack the courage of their convictions. But so long as in your heart you know it's crap, you're mentally healthy.

Religions are prone to forcing others to live by their rules. All of them do this when they have the power, Christians at least as much as Muslims. Jesus had good intentions, for the most part, but his fan club is a cacophony of hypocrites.

When I grew up in CT it was illegal to sell or possess condoms. Why? That flood of immigrants who chose Connecticut were largely Catholics, voted as a block, and told their legislators to outlaw condoms. None for sale in pharmacies over or under the counter, none for sale in men's room vending machines.

It's called the tyranny of the majority, and infects every religion.

Non-Catholics ignored it, of course. Who are these arrogant Papists to think they can tell us how to live.

It would still be the law in CT if the US Supreme Court under Warren didn't throw it out. The CT supreme court, with it's Catholic majority, found nothing to dislike.

Across the Baptist bible belt south, the Christian bible is part of the public school curriculum in many school districts, which is unconstitutional. The dominating Protestants insist on it. When the courts rule it must stop, a devious way is found to continue. The tyranny of the majority even declares itself above the law.

The next wave of US immigrants appears to be followers of Islam, a religion with a non-negligible number of deranged adherents willing to die in the cause of exterminating anyone not a member of their sect, including fellow Islamists.

They are banging on our doors because their Arab neighbors, despite being immensely wealthy and with vast resources, and sharing the Muslim faith, refuse to let them in fearing they are too dangerous. So Islamists immigrate to France, to England, and to Spain, many of them refusing assimilation and, where they're allowed to, as in Britain, preaching hate.

And what of here?

Hamtramck, MI, appears to be the first US city where Muslims have enough vote to throw their weight around. They control city council. You discover this very early on your visit, at 6 AM when the first call to prayer is blasted throughout the city, as it will be every few hours. The Washington Post describes life in Hamtramck today.

My ancestors, like yours, came here to share the culture, contribute, assimilate, and work for common goals. We were a mixed blessing. Some of us caused wreckage. Labor racketeering in NY, the mafia in NJ, ethnic gangs throughout the country. All done by immigrants.

The earliest British settlers in New England didn't come for religious freedom as we understand the term; they came to establish a colony just for their religion. If you didn't join their church in Massachusetts you were escorted to the Rhode Island border. They were outnumbered eventually but religious dogma has always been a strong stain on the American character. And not just immigrants: from east to west the country teems with "sacred ground."

Trying to shame Americans who call for filtering or limiting the immigration stream is naive. While welcoming immigrants to our shores is noble, the legend of the Trojan Horse is no longer a laughable impossibility. If an entire town can be summoned to prayer, could they not be made answerable to sharia law? And could the community majority not ignore the courts that nullified it? Our history has challenging parallels.

According to the respected PEW research Center, of the 6.9 billion people on Earth in 2010, there were an estimated 2.2 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims. In 2050, they estimate, there will be 9.3 billion people on Earth including 2.9 billion Christians and 2.8 billion Muslims. A lot of catching up happened.

After that, the one weakest on birth control will outnumber the rest.

To oppose immigration filtering is naive.

Be the spider in their bed

For years, I've been tagging my email with this reminder: "Against government, an individual has no more power than a spider in a bed." A right-wing salesman in Lincoln, Nebraska, gave us an example.

He sent a letter to Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt pointing out that Nebraska is ignoring its laws requiring public school teachers to sign a loyalty oath, and requiring school districts to create an "Americanism" committee, along with setting minimum requirements to be permitted to teach U.S. history.

The Commish read that and promptly fired off a letter to every school district in Nebraska telling them these requirements. His letter did not mention that the oath was long ago declared unconstitutional, so the knuckleheads they hire to run public schools took this as a requirement. For example, Hastings Public Schools Superintendent Craig Kautz feels his hands are tied. The law's the law.

So some Nebraska school districts are asking its teachers to sign a loyalty oath created during the McCarthy era that was declared unconstitutional more than 50 years ago. The ACLU was immediately on top of the oath crap, so that will be disinfected at most (not all) schools, but the other laws, long ignored and properly so, are now resurrected.

One guy acting all alone tossed a spanner in the works, as the Brits put it, and struck a blow for his side.

Your side can do that. You can do that. Think about it. 20 million laws on our books with virtually none ever repealed. Imagine what a million people might accomplish by using existing laws to deflect, even defeat, government over-reach, just by writing a letter to a public official suggesting a performance vulnerability.

They can tear gas the Occupy movement out of existence, but this? This is unstoppable. In spite of all the anonymous firepower to invade our homes and offices, all that anonymous spy power to record our every move and every word, this is still unstoppable. But wait!

Hold the presses! The day after I published that, this was published. An early volley in "Spider Bed War?"

As of 5 pm August 25, over 800 people have filed to be presidential candidates, inundating the Federal Election Commission with paperwork launching "official" presidential campaigns.

Some are very real, some not. Some are legally qualified, some not.

Imagine a presidential debate that includes Frank Underwood from "House of Cards," Ronald Reagan's Ghost, a Bill Clinton imposter, and three men each really named Joe Biden.

These candidates, serious or not, are headaches for federal regulators who already are doing a half-assed job blaming limited resources for massive paperwork backlogs.

The commission is toothless by design because the two major parties want it that way.

No matter how asinine, the FEC must, by law, pay attention to these White House wannabes. They cannot simply ignore them or reject the filings. Filings can be submitted with ease through the agency's website.

In addition to processing and tracking the initial paperwork, FEC staffers must send follow-up letters to candidates who submit "missing or inaccurate information," asking them to correct.

"The agency has no authority over and makes no judgement on an individual's qualifications or eligibility to run for office or obtain ballot access," FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram wrote in a statement to the Center for Public Integrity.

After filing to run for office, the FEC doesn't require any further paperwork until the candidate has raised or spent more than $5,000.

"That said, anyone may file," Ingram continued, adding that for these voluntary filers, "the agency has a statutory obligation to make all filings publicly available." And here's the list of candidates:

The FEC has recourse, of a sort. People who file "false, erroneous, or incomplete information" when registering as presidential candidates could subject themselves to FEC fines. Of course doing so invites challenges to the fines and court appeals, an unwise option for an already over-extended FEC.

The Department of Justice could also criminally prosecute people who "knowingly and willfully" submit erroneous information to federal regulators, said Paul S. Ryan, senior attorney at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign reform advocacy group.

But it's unlikely the government will throw good money after bad, Ryan continued, since most comic candidates won't ever launch a real presidential campaign or raise any money. Not to mention the near-impossibility of proving "knowingly and willfully" without evidence of that.

So spiders are free to join Bush, Clinton, and America's first national dunce, Donald Trump, in the race for the presidency. I think this is fitting and deserved for a country that made a mockery of campaigning for office.

Voting for a national office no longer changes anything. There's nothing the people can do about that, and there's nothing those in office want to do about it. So lets treat these constitutional rituals as the reality show they are, and spice up these smokescreen diversions.

America's Achilles Heel

Every powerful individual and every powerful nation in history has eventually wasted away due to a weak spot. Has Comrade Putin found America's weak spot? Is the US the next great power to, like the UK for example, shrink as a world power?

Here's what's happening. Putin is ramping up the arms race. He is promising to do to us what we did to his predecessors: making it too expensive to keep up with your enemy's war machine.

If you were paying attention when Gorbachev was the USSR's leader, you recall that keeping in step with the US war machine became too costly for the Soviet Union and it collapsed.

Now we've reversed. Armaments are more costly than ever, but now they are vastly more costly to the capitalist US than to the socialist Russians. The Russkies pay what they want to pay for armament; we, on the other hand, must pay outrageous prices driven by investor greed and congressional corruption answering to the military-industrial-congressional complex. This is not an option. They are the untouchable 500-lb gorilla that creates jobs in the US and keeps Congress re-elected.

Entrenched Washington neo-cons will commit the US to competing to win every arms race on the planet, from nuclear warheads to ray guns to outer-space defense, no matter the cost. Right-wing propaganda institutes, right-wing publications, right-wing speakers bureaus earning their way by delivering what they are paid for can dominate the discussions and obfuscate the issues with lies, distortions, and ad hominem attacks against people urging common sense.

Those not employed to mislead have sparser tools. Their publications are not sold at supermarket check-outs, because the masses do not put reasoned, balanced arguments in their shopping carts, or in their minds. They do not distribute conservative propaganda for re-publication in church newsletters, as the right does.

So lets look ahead.

For every $500 million nuclear submarine Russia adds to its fleet, the US will have to add two and they will cost four times as much. Prices driven by greed aren't the only reason. Another is because parts larger than a freight car will be trucked in from states 1000 miles from the sea. In the US but not in Russia, powerful committee chairs insist that military contracts go to constituents in their state who contribute to their campaigns and vote for them.

If I can figure this out, then Putin has to know that the military-industrial-congressional complex has the power and recklessness to up-end the US economy and wreck our infrastructure and morale. It just lacks the incentive.

Is that what you're doing, Vladimir Vladimirovich, providing the incentive?

"We only have the rights that we protect"

The real Edward Snowden you didn't see. He is arguably the most important patriot since the revolution.

Writings of Edward Snowden

"We are a representative democracy. But how did we get there? We got there through direct action. And that's enshrined in our Constitution and in our values. We have the right of revolution. Revolution does not always have to be weapons and warfare; it's also about revolutionary ideas. It's about the principles that we hold to be representative of the kind of world we want to live in.

A given order may at any given time fail to represent those values, even work against those values. I think that's the dynamic we're seeing today. We have these traditional political parties that are less and less responsive to the needs of ordinary people, so people are in search of their own values. If the government or the parties won't address our needs, we will. It's about direct action, even civil disobedience.

But then the state says: "Well, in order for it to be legitimate civil disobedience, you have to follow these rules." They put us in "free-speech zones"; they say you can only do it at this time, and in this way, and you can't interrupt the functioning of the government. They limit the impact that civil disobedience can achieve.

We have to remember that civil disobedience must be disobedience if it's to be effective. If we simply follow the rules that a state imposes upon us when that state is acting contrary to the public interest, we're not actually improving anything. We're not changing anything.

"The surveillance revelations are critically important because they revealed that our rights are being redefined in secret, by secret courts that were never intended to have that role without the consent of the public, without even the awareness of the majority of our political representatives.

However, as important as that is, I don't think it is the most important thing. I think it is the fact that the director of national intelligence gave a false statement to Congress under oath, which is a felony. If we allow our officials to knowingly break the law publicly and face no consequences, we're instituting a culture of immunity, and this is what I think historically will actually be considered the biggest disappointment of the Obama administration.

I don't think it's going to be related to social or economic policies; it's going to be the fact that he said let's go forward, not backward, in regard to the violations of law that occurred under the Bush administration. There was a real choice when he became president. It was a very difficult choice to say, "We're not going to hold senior officials to account with the same laws that every other citizen in the country is held to," or "This is a nation that believes in the rule of law." And the rule of law doesn't mean the police are in charge, but that we all answer to the same laws.

You know, if Congress is going to investigate baseball players about whether or not they told the truth, how can we justify giving the most powerful intelligence official, Clapper, a pass? This is how J. Edgar Hoover ended up in charge of the FBI forever.

"That's the key to maintain the garden of liberty, right? This is a generational thing that we must all do continuously. We only have the rights that we protect. It doesn't matter what we say or think we have. It's not enough to believe in something; it matters what we actually defend. So when we think in the context of the last decade's infringements upon personal liberty and the last year's revelations, it's not about surveillance. It's about liberty.

When people say, "I have nothing to hide," what they're saying is, "My rights don't matter." Because you don't need to justify your rights as a citizen that inverts the model of responsibility. The government must justify its intrusion into your rights. If you stop defending your rights by saying, "I don't need them in this context" or "I can't understand this," they are no longer rights. You have ceded the concept of your own rights. You've converted them into something you get as a revocable privilege from the government, something that can be abrogated at its convenience. And that has diminished the measure of liberty within a society.

"What defines patriotism, for me, is the idea that one rises to act on behalf of one's country. As I said before, that's distinct from acting to benefit the government a distinction that's increasingly lost today. You're not patriotic just because you back whoever's in power today or their policies. You're patriotic when you work to improve the lives of the people of your country, your community and your family.

Sometimes that means making hard choices, choices that go against your personal interest. People sometimes say I broke an oath of secrecy one of the early charges leveled against me. But it's a fundamental misunderstanding, because there is no oath of secrecy for people who work in the intelligence community.

You are asked to sign a civil agreement, called a Standard Form 312, which basically says if you disclose classified information, they can sue you; they can do this, that and the other. And you risk going to jail. But you are also asked to take an oath, and that's the oath of service. The oath of service is not to secrecy, but to the Constitution to protect it against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That's the oath that I kept, that James Clapper and former NSA director Keith Alexander did not. You raise your hand and you take the oath in your class when you are on board. All government officials are made to do it who work for the intelligence agencies at least, that's where I took the oath.

"As for labeling someone a whistleblower, I think it does them it does all of us a disservice, because it "otherizes" us. Using the language of heroism, calling Daniel Ellsberg a hero, and calling the other people who made great sacrifices heroes even though what they have done is heroic is to distinguish them from the civic duty they performed, and excuses the rest of us from the same civic duty to speak out when we see something wrong, when we witness our government engaging in serious crimes, abusing power, engaging in massive historic violations of the Constitution of the United States. We have to speak out or we are party to that bad action.

"The government would assert that individuals who are aware of serious wrongdoing in the intelligence community should bring their concerns to the people most responsible for that wrongdoing, and rely on those people to correct the problems those people themselves authorized.

Going all the way back to Daniel Ellsberg, it is clear that the government is not concerned with damage to national security, because in none of these cases was there damage. At the trial of Chelsea Manning, the government could point to no case of specific damage that had been caused by the massive revelation of classified information. The charges are a reaction to the government's embarrassment more than genuine concern about these activities, or they would substantiate what harms were done.

We're now more than a year since my NSA revelations, and despite numerous hours of testimony before Congress, despite tons of off-the-record quotes from anonymous officials who have an ax to grind, not a single US official, not a single representative of the United States government, has ever pointed to a single case of individualized harm caused by these revelations. This, despite the fact that former NSA director Keith Alexander said this would cause grave and irrevocable harm to the nation. Some months after he made that statement, the new director of the NSA, Michael Rogers, said that, in fact, he doesn't see the sky falling. It's not so serious after all.

From Coy Barefoot, with minor editing ...

Edward Snowden has done all he can to maintain his ... freedom: that meant going to a series of hotels in Hong Kong initially, where he met with reporters who would share the information he had learned: that the American government was routinely violating the U.S. Constitution, speedily building a surveillance and police state to monitor and control a free people.

Then when he tried to fly from Hong Kong to Ecuador, the U.S. government effectively trapped him at an airport in Moscow by revoking his passport ... He had no intention of staying in Russia. That was the doing of the American government.

Snowden reflects on that when he notes "People forget how I ended up in Russia. They waited until I departed Hong Kong to cancel my passport in order to trap me in Russia, because it's the most effective attack they have against me, given the political climate in the United States. If they can show I'm in Russia and pretend that I wear "I Heart Putin" shirts...."

And Americans bought that trash, like they do so much else .... It continues to be a tragic blind spot ... even people on the right who take the lead in decrying government abuses of power are commonly first to ... defend those abuses if they are done under the banner of order, control, or "security."

Political scientists and historians have a name for the ideology which
[A] embraces the militarization of an authoritarian state,
[B] repeatedly excuses the acts of corruption by a moneyed elite, and
[C] legitimizes the state's destruction of civil liberties in an effort to maintain social order and security.

It's called fascism.

Life under our Christian military industrial congress

Did you know that after WW II, the U.S. government buried hundreds of thousands of poison gas bombs and chemical weapons in this country? They buried our own arsenal (we had more than anyone) and those of Britain, Germany, and Japan. The sites are in 40 states and two oceans, at least one not far from your home. You knew this, right?

Did anyone mention these bombs and containers were just dumped in the ground and buried, with no concern for long-term environment and health consequences?

Alabama has the largest, the Redstone Arsenal. This Army base sits atop 17 six-mile trenches of rusting, corroding containers of blister agents, choking agents, blood agents and more. End-to-end, that trench would reach from UVa to Dulles Airport. Is that enough toxins to wipe out the nation? No matter, there are 248 other sites loaded with corroding toxic weapons. Alabama has former Camp Sibert near Huntsville with at least 13 stockpiles of mustard and phosgene gas.

Another site is in Spring Valley, Virginia, outside Fredricksburg, home to older chemical weapons thought to be mustard gas and arsenic from WW I.

Protestants, Catholics, Jews and other pious hypocrites have no problem approving, manufacturing, buying, and using inhuman weapons of mass destruction, which for the judgmental is reason enough to detest religion.

It's not only mil bases. Several years ago, a vast supply of WW II munitions was discovered beneath the grounds of Odyssey Middle School in Orlando, Florida, near Disneyworld. One of the weapons caught fire. It didn't explode, but injured an Army Corps of Engineers contractor attempting to remove it. More than 200 potentially volatile explosives were found, most under the school and some near area homes. Home values plummeted, and banks wouldn't accept them as collateral for a loan.

Who do we see about that, the military industrial congress?

Fish were not spared. The U.S. also dumped a huge volume of chemical weapons off both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. There are no plans to clean up those sites, although Congress authorized window dressing studies to look into it.

In 1958, a hundred miles west of the San Andreas fault near San Francisco, the SS William Ralston with more than 300,000 mustard gas bombs and 1,500 one-ton containers of Lewisite, a blistering agent, was scuttled by the military and is decomposing 14,000 feet down. No one told us the same is happening off the Atlantic coast but it is, of course.

Oh, they did tell us, and here's a map:

My state of Virginia

V1 Seven shiploads of chemical munitions were thrown into the sea near the Virginia- Maryland border off the Eastern Shore during one week in September 1945.

Dumped were 75,852 mortar shells filled with mustard gas and 924 white phosphorous cluster bombs, which could contain as many as 60 smaller munitions each.

More than 1,000 55-gallon steel drums of arsenic trichloride which in small doses damages the nervous system and can cause genetic mutations were also dumped, as were an estimated 23,000 chemical smoke projectiles.

The Coast Guard cutter Gentian and several amphibious landing ships did the dumping.

V2 On Nov. 13 and 14, 1957, the USS Calhoun County loaded 48 tons of Lewisite at Colts Neck Naval Pier in Earle, N.J., and dumped it off the continental shelf in 12,600 feet of water off Virginia Beach.

V3 In 1960, the Army dumped 317 tons of unidentified radioactive waste and two 1- ton containers of Lewisite in deep water off Chincoteague.

V4 In 1964, the Army used the same location to dump 800 55-gallon drums of some kind of radioactive waste, along with 74 1-ton containers of mustard agent and 1,700 mustard-filled artillery shells.

V5 In 1962, more than 200 tons of radioactive waste in steel barrels was dumped within a few miles of the 1960 dump zone, along with 700 mustard-filled artillery shells and 5,252 white phosphorous munitions.

X An unspecified type and quantity of chemical munitions might have been dumped off Norfolk or Virginia Beach during World War II. The only known surviving record of the seadumped chemical weapons says they came from "Nanseman" depot, which likely was the Nansemond Ordnance Depot in Suffolk. The unconfirmed dumpsite was somewhere in "the Atlantic Ocean" near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

When is it a government of arrogant, authoritarian bullies?

That's easy.

When even the US Dept. of Education's Office of Inspector General can have a heavily armed SWAT team, and denies it. ("We don't call it that.") But they smash through front doors at 6 AM just the same.

Bullies tap our phones, read our mail, track our cars, plant listening devices, dispatch SWAT squads armed like Klingons. Bullies from Washington seduce our police departments with free killing power and the attitude to use it.

Does a government of bullies have all the power and we none? Are we 320 million powerless spiders in a bully's bed? Wake up and smell the challenge.

TO: The Washington Post
Letters to the Editor
Submitted for publication [not published]

The federal government, the Washington Post tells us, added SWAT team mercenaries to nearly 100 federal agencies.

The Social Security Administration, for one. Exactly who is their hired army licensed to kill?

The Department of Education Inspector General avoids calling his mercenaries a SWAT team but uses it to break down doors at 6 AM just the same, California newspapers reported. "We need this to combat waste and fraud," congress was told, who then voted the funds.

The states have expensively equipped para-military forces. Most local police departments have SWAT teams aptly named "warrior cops" with military armament.

Reports from witnesses on the ground during an assault show SWAT mercenaries are taught that surprise and excessive force are mandatory, and told their mission nullifies the US Constitution. No one is held accountable for the damage, injuries, and deaths they cause.

In Germany the fascists used elite strike forces to control; in Russia the communists relied on them. Here a dictatorship of law enforcement has taken over, manipulating a security threat to impose control anywhere they choose.

No one elected them yet here they are, suspending the constitution as it suits them with the backing of the administration, congress, and the courts.

Is anyone else wondering what options a nation has when the people we trust become the enemy?

For the fun of it, I write song parodies

Parodies are a form of appreciation and often admiration. Mine take songs of yore and bring them up to date, of sorts.

In 1936 Johnny Burke wrote "Pennies From Heaven." "Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven." In the age of open air atomic tests in 1961 I wrote "Pennies From Hell" in an outdoor cafe in France. "Every time it rains, it rains strontium 90."

In 1941 Woody Guthrie wrote "[Green] Pastures of Plenty." Hear Arlo sing it on youtube. . But the nation changed, so in 2013 I wrote "Green Pastures Monsanto."

Billy Barnes wrote one of the two quintessential bar songs, "Something Cool," in the late 40s, early 50s. No one seems to know exactly. It properly belongs to June Christy and her arranger, Pete Rugolo, whose 1953 recording on a 10" LP established that song forever. Youtube has a half-dozen versions by June. The mono one lasting 5'7" is the original. But sexual freedom made things different now, prompting, almost demanding, my "Something Warm" in 2017.

Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the songs for Oklahoma! around 1940 but they wouldn't recognize the place now. For the 21st century, it's "Oklahoma! -- Part Deux."

Here are all four, together at last. (ATTN: Reviewers. Not half bad allows 49% for bad-ness.)

Pennies From Hell
With apologies to Johnny Burke
Copyleft 1961 by Rey Barry

Every time it rains it rains, strontium 90,
Don't you know each cloud contains strontium 90,
Our future weather forecasters are going to be
Prophets of major disaster to you and me.

So if you want your children to be ghastly mutations,
Continue to let financial affairs rule foreign relations,
Then when you see it raining no need to bother to run,
Effects of strontium 90 have already begun.

Green Pastures Monsanto
With apologies to Woody Guthrie
Copyleft 2013 By Rey Barry

Every farmer's lush field grows a Monsanto crop,
We harvest all day till at long last we drop,
The pay isn't good, rewards they are few
Just the joy that we feel bringing GMO to you.

With genetic mutations we nourish mankind,
We wouldn't want to leave rich men's pockets unlined,
It may not be good for your life or your health,
What matters is whether it's good for their wealth.

I stoop for your lettuce, I stretch for your peach,
Whatever Monsanto will put within reach,
My fingers they wither from gathering beans,
They're not quite the same since we altered their genes.

The USDA says they're perfectly safe,
Some studies say kosher, and some say it's trayf,
Investors don't care, health is not their concern,
They're not here for science; they're here just to earn.

The wheat fields of Kansas, the Iowa corn,
The Illinois soy on a bright August morn,
Whatever the crop is it's modified seed,
The insect won't touch it; it won't grow a weed.

Green pastures of plenty are not what they were,
Since nature was crushed by the entrepreneur,
In Greenland and Iceland, Siberia, too, soon
We'll grow them pre-frozen for shipping to you.

Something Warm
With apologies to Billie Barnes
Copyleft 2017 By Rey Barry

Something warm, I'd like to order something warm,
It's so cold on the street, and so hard on my feet,
Yes, I need something warm.

It's so nice to simply rest my weary bones,
Do you feel that way too?
Is it that way with you?
Need to warm your cojones.

I don't ordinarily drink with strangers,
Not until asking their name,
But you seem so gullible and simple,
And I want someone who's really lame.

Like my breath? I must admit it's really bold,
But my toothbrush is old, and it's covered with mold,
It's disgusting, I'm told.
Want some smack? I often take it in this bar.
This isn't where someone would care, so there we are.

I bet you couldn't imagine that I one-time had a house
With so many girls you couldn't count them all;
I'll bet you couldn't imagine I had oh so many joes
Who would beg and beg to take me to their balls,

And I'll bet you couldn't picture me the time I went to Newark after dark,
And who would think, I'd earn so much, just giving favors in the park?

Well it's true, I've had an in and out career,
Now I'm getting too old, and I'm feeling the cold,
Things are not like they were,
About a muff, come back! I mean no harm,
You're just a girl, who stopped to buy me something warm.

OKLAHOMA! - Part Deux
With apologies to Oscar Hammerstein II
Copyleft 2016 By Rey Barry

Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry,
When we fill your farm full of slurry,
Fracking, fracking in such a hurry
To extract your gas.

You can bet your well is polluted,
Cause we frack where it's not well-suited,
When we're done the land is denuded
So that nothing grows.

The chemicals we're pumping deep into the ground,
Are none of your goddam business,
And if we cause earthquakes that destroy your town,
The government grants us forgiveness.

Hush your noise and quit your whining,
We own the rights to underground mining,
Pockets galore we saw to the lining,
So we own the votes,
We're big oil and big gas with our hands on your throats.

We said four but here's a fifth. This is a parody where there was no song, just a title.

Kermit Schaefer's "Blooper" re-creations of radio announcer goofs included a disk jockey mis-reading the title of his next song. In place of "There's an Empty Cot in the Bunkhouse Tonight" he said "There's an Empty Bunk in the Cathouse Tonight." Seemed to me that should be a song so I wrote it. Here it is, with the proper dedication.

There's an Empty Bunk in the Cathouse Tonight
An ode to President Bill Clinton
Copyleft Rey Barry July 27, 2006

There's an empty bunk in the cathouse tonight,
Bill Clinton's not our President any more,
There's an empty bunk in the cathouse tonight,
And sadness has befallen every whore.

He was the smartest one since Jefferson
Now the country will never go there again,
We prefer the dumbest of the lot,
Too good for those he tried to serve,
A man of courage and of nerve,
We'll not again see Bill's kind on the cot.

There's an empty bunk in the cathouse tonight,
Bill Clinton's not our President any more,
There's an empty bunk in the cathouse tonight,
And sadness has befallen every whore.

He believed in being fair and just,
The kind the common man can trust,
He looked you in the eye and did not run,
The right wing flamed him right away,
They went for his hide the very first day,
He was GOP public enemy number one.

There's an empty bunk in the cathouse tonight,

They investigated his every move,
They tapped and taped and tried to prove
But couldn't, that he had a criminal past,
He fought back with the strength of Horatio
Until a foolish bit of fellatio
Was one straw too much for the camel's back at last.

There's an empty bunk in the cathouse tonight,

They converted a plump and oafish troll
Into an oval office spying mole,
Who knew the meaning of getting down to work,
She dragged kiss and tell through the gates of hell
And there Bill lives in the city called New York.

There's an empty bunk in the cathouse tonight,
Bill Clinton's not our President any more,
There's an empty bunk in the cathouse tonight,
And sadness has befallen every whore.


Does everyone have coincidences like these?

Over the course of a long life, everyone experiences odd coincidences. They should be included as part of every autobiography. They can supply some gee whiz in an otherwise drab life. I'm thinking of some that happened to me.

Coincidence No. 1
When I was around 12 my dad took a business trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and took me along. This was the 1950s when the city was just a beach resort with no legalized gambling.

Dad knew of an unusual restaurant there called "Jimmy's Just a Hobby." If you didn't know Jimmy you didn't get in. Jimmy also had a restaurant in Miami Beach where dad met him. At the hobby shop, Jimmy made one price-fixed gourmet meal a night, no substitutions, and fed it to all 35 customers who fit in the room for his only nightly serving. (Our night was filet mignon so good you don't forget.)

Jimmy's tables could seat at least 4. We arrived early, and eventually a couple we did not know, man and wife, were seated with us. The conversation revealed:
We were both from Connecticut;
Stamford, Connecticut 165 miles away;
Shippan Point in Stamford;
Where we had adjoining backyards.

Thus we met the Gallaghers, new neighbors who had recently moved in.

What are the odds?


Coincidence No. 2
In the 1970s I carried our household trash to a public dump in Keene in Southern Albemarle (since closed.) One week I had a broken washing machine to dispose of, so drove to a part of the dump seldom visited. After I slid the washer into the appliance pit, I noticed a cardboard box on a bench. It had rained the night before but the box was dry, indicating someone recently left it.

I opened it and found a Webster-Chicago wire recorder from the 1940s in pristine, working condition. My parents owned wire recorders since I was 8, including this early model. Now 30 years later I was the family nerd who stored our collection of nostalgic wire recordings in a closet. I was even an experienced techie for wire recorder maintenance and repair.

Anything is possible. There's a possibility of a more qualified Keene dump user than I being the one to find that box. But if you think that, you're weird.


Coincidence No. 3
One summer vacation, Bill, a neighbor, volunteered to cut the lawn when we were gone, using our Cub Cadet riding tractor. I returned home to learn the motor burned out a bearing, as motors like to do when a new hand is on the throttle.

I pulled out the motor and took it with the International Harvester shop manual to "Shorty," the legendary machine shop guru at Motor Specialty Co. on 10th St. Shorty had a reputation as the mechanic you trust to pack your parachute.

It was ready on Friday. Saturday I had it halfway back in the tractor when a feeling I can't explain made me bring it to the workbench, disassemble the engine, and check Shorty's work.

Wow! According to a very visible arrow, he had installed a critical part backwards. Running the engine that way for any length of time would destroy it. I re-assembled it properly, installed the engine, and cut the grass.

Very early Monday morning, Shorty phoned.

"Don't run the motor," he said. "Over the weekend I read the shop manual and learned I installed the connecting rod backwards."


Coincidence No. 4
My family had a condo in South Florida 11 stories above the beach. Our building looked at a smaller condominium building next door. Our place was directly across from an interesting beachfront penthouse, noteworthy for the gizmos on the roof a pilot would want. That building was selective and expensive. We were told Burt Reynolds was an owner.

When my folks died and it was time to settle the estate, we needed a Florida lawyer. My brother arranged for that and my wife and I met with a para-legal.

We developed a friendly relationship and asked where she lived. Surprise. It was in the building next door. Surprise number two, she and her pilot husband lived in that penthouse directly across from us.

"Oh," she said, "YOU have that royal blue bedroom."


Coincidence No. 5
When I was a kid, my maternal grandmother bought a few shares of stock to be invested for me. The company, Audio Devices, did well. The share price grew, there were stock splits, and after a decade or more, a few bucks invested had done well.

Much later, after six years of college, I moved to Europe. To afford it, I cashed in grandma's stock. It brought more than $4k. That was decent money in 1961, the equivalent of $30k today. I bought a new car in Switzerland and lived well.

Eventually I motored to Brussels, a city known for shops selling exceptional hand-made Belgian lace. Grandma, 78, was a lace-loving Victorian, so hand-made lace would be valued and appreciated.

I bought the most interesting set of hand-embroidered handkerchiefs I could find, and shipped them off to her with a letter of appreciation for the gift of stock.

They were delivered to her apartment on November 11, 1961, at around 10:30 AM, several hours after she died in her sleep. Nearly our entire family was on hand when they arrived.


Coincidence No. 6
Around 2002, I found a buyer on ebay for my Goggo motorscooter. My Goggo was the first of these German scooters ever imported to the US. I brought it back from Europe in 1963. Over the next 40 years only 6 or 7 more came into the country. Rare, unknown, unwanted, it took over two years on ebay to find a buyer. He was in Portland, Oregon.

Three months later I heard that a grad student at the local university needed help with her recently purchased Goggo scooter. She got it in Portland, Oregon from an ad in a motorcycle magazine.

I went to see it, expecting to see my Goggo back in town! It was the same year, the same model, but it was not mine. By coincidence, two rare sister scooters crossed the country between Portland, Oregon, and Charlottesville, Virginia.

After her year in grad school she moved to NYC. The Goggo? Who knows.


Coincidence No. 7
My parents in later years grew tired of living half the year in New England, half in Florida. They sold the Connecticut condo and gave us the car they kept there, a massive Oldsmobile 98 Regency. We were to meet at the Baltimore-Washington airport. I'd drive the Olds home to Virginia and they would fly to Fort Lauderdale.

We ignored the details, like where they would park the car. We figured on meeting at the gate.

We - me, my wife, and the kids - drove up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and turned east onto the highway to the airport. At that very instant, my parents, coming south on the B-W parkway, also turned east on the highway. We drove down that road to the airport side-by-side.


Coincidence No. 8
On one of their trips to see us in Virginia, my parents were our guests for dinner at the New England-ish Silver Thatch Inn at Hollymead. When the waiter arrived at the table, he and my dad launched into a warm discussion, like old friends. They were. It seems that until the week before, that waiter had worked the tables all summer at my parent's country club in Pound Ridge, NY. This was his first night working in Charlottesville.


Coincidence No. 9
On another family trip to Charlottesville I took the parents to the Aberdeen Barn for steak. I had friends on the staff there. When veteran waiter Beau Payne came to the table, my dad, apropos of nothing, said, "You have high blood pressure. If you're not taking medication, you should be."

Dad was a lawyer with little medical experience, but Beau took it seriously. The next day, I was at the desk in my 3rd Street office when Beau walked by on his way to the American Heart Association office down the hall.

A short time later he stopped by to say he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and will be on medication the rest of his life. And he took it, beginning in the late 1970s.

Beau died in 2001.


Coincidence No. 10
Dad, who died in 1993 at age 91, was a coin collector beginning way back in the days when indian head pennies were in general circulation. In the second half of the century he went at it seriously as hobby and part-time business. One of the daily routines of every numismatist is to check your pocket change every night to look for something rare or unusual. Dad never found anything valuable that way, not in 70+ years. Nor did I.

We mentioned this one night when my older daughter was in the room. She looked at her change and handed me a coin. "Like this?" she asked.

It was a 1989P silver coin that very plainly said QUA TER. The R was missing. On her very first try she found a collectible!

There are several reasons for a missing letter on a coin. A broken die, a die error, a stamping error, or the most common, a smear of grease that prevented the letter from being impressed. An experienced eye can tell what happened. In this case it was a grease-filled die. While a terrific find in pocket change, and an incredible find for a neophyte, it doesn't command a lot of money. But it does earn a high five.


Coincidence No. 11
On a trip to Kentucky, we were driving to Mammoth Cave on an Interstate. The CB was chattering about "bear in the air" claiming the state police were air spotting. "Yeah, sure," I said, continuing to cruise at 85.

As I passed an on ramp, a trooper was galloping up, evidently having been told of a speeder. At that instant, one of my tires blew and I pulled onto the shoulder. I wasn't there 10 seconds before the trooper pulled in behind me. No violation; he was there to help. He provided a ride into town to a tire shop.


Coincidence No. 12
When I was 10 or so, I was messing around on Halloween night and decided to send a false fire alarm. In that city, every thousand feet or so there was a red fire alarm box on a utility pole. I opened the one at the corner of Shippan Avenue and Hobson Street and pulled the lever. Then I hid in the woods nearby to watch the fire engines.

Within a minute or two, as the sirens were becoming audible, the sidelight on the left side of the front door of the Bucey house across the street sparkled with flame. A candle in a pumpkin had set fire to the curtains. Before any serious damage, the fire crew drove up and extinguished the fire.


Coincidence No. 13
Few but car collectors today recall the design of the 1953 Studebaker Starlite Coupe. It had a smooth sloping hood from the bumper up to the windshield. No grill to speak of. And nothing at all to keep things like pedestrians from sliding up the hood and crashing through the glass if they were careless and got in the way. I had one of these cars in 1964-66.

One night about 10 o'clock while coming down the mountains on Rt. 33, a deer bounded out of the woods to my right, came down in the road ahead of the Stude, and bounded up again. A half-second either way and it would have come through the windshield and taken off my head.

I pulled over to check the car and found deer hair jammed behind the license plate. The car behind me had also pulled over and the driver told me what he saw. The deer leaped into the road, was in the act of his second leap to the other side when my car hit his legs. He was spun heels over head in the air and came down on his feet on the left shoulder of the road. And ran off.


Coincidence No. 14

This happened to a friend.
His dream to be a lawyer in a conservative New England firm had come true. He had a sinecure there, a cushy assignment to close out the estate of a famous crackpot (you've heard the name) that no one really wanted closed. Never mind why. It was decades old. So my friend was in the office all morning shuffling papers, then in his downtown Portland, Maine, men's club all afternoon drinking port and smoking cigars. For him an idyllic life.

Until one day it bored him and for the first time in his life he opened up the New York Times to read the want ads.

About a week before in Middleburg, Virginia, a teenage girl who had been orphaned when her very wealthy parents died in a plane crash decided she needed someone to handle her wealth. So she placed a 1-day ad in the NYT for a financial advisor.

You can guess the rest. Thanks to coincidence, she got her advisor, he got the job of a lifetime, and his family got a terrific house with a pool near Middleburg where we could visit.


Coincidence No. 15
A coincidence that happened to my daughter, Apple. A Washington resident put an ad in the Wash Post for just one day to find a tenant for her town house. It was a great bargain: a 6-month rental on R street in Georgetown for $500/month. Apple never read the Post, but that particular day she was choosing between two internships. One in DC paid $500 a month; one in NYC paid squat. She opened the Post straight to the ad. The decision came easy.


Coincidence No. 16
Daedalus Bookstore in my city has a small, metal-covered table on the sidewalk outside the door. On it are free books. Generally they relate to the technical, the academic, or fiction, books of no value.

At home I had 3,000 books and no desire to add to them. There was, however, just one paperback in all the world I hoped to find someday. It was the anti-war novel "Johnny Got His Gun" by the brilliant screen writer Dalton Trumbo.

One day after leaving the dentist office across the street from Daedalus I noticed the table was empty except for one book, a paperback. I crossed the street and found my copy of "Johnny Got His Gun."


Coincidence No. 17, the last
In the days I was a real estate broker, 1975 - 2003, almost no one wanted a house in Belmont. Houses were priced at $40,000 or less, and often the people who wanted them couldn't qualify for a loan. But that didn't stop my postal carrier friend who was used to Long Island realty from fixing up the Blenheim Avenue house I sold him. When he was done, he had an $50,000 house on a $40,000 street.

Then he decided to move to the country when I had a perfect country house to sell. So now he had two homes and wanted to sell Belmont. Given the over-value, that was a tough sell.

The house was appraised at $56,500 so that was the asking price. No one offered a dime. Not the first month, not the second. Then one Saturday morning I got calls from three Realtors saying they were coming by with offers. All the offers were for $56,500.

My friend has a heart of gold and when when he learned one offer was from the son of the neighbor across the street, he said "I'll take that one." It took just a month for the son to be denied a mortgage, but that was enough time for the other two buyers to get other interests. So the house was back on the market.

Like before, the property sparked no interest. Not for months. Then one Saturday I got calls from three agents saying they are coming by with full-price offers. This is not a joke.

One offer was from someone with a decent income who was a junior loan officer in a bank. His wife was a potter more for art than business. Solid buyers. What could go wrong?

A week before the loan was to come through, the husband decided to quit his job at the bank and organize his wife's craft shop into a business. Of course this moron's loan application was now denied for lack of income plus lack of brains. The denial came on the 89th and last eligible day. The other bidders, as before, had moved on so the house went back on the market entering its second year.

Things hadn't improved in Belmont. Gentrification was more than two decades in the future. No one was interested in the place. It again sat on the market for months with no offers.

Then one Saturday three Realtors came by with full-price offers. Sound impossible? It happened just that way. I have all the paperwork in my file cabinet.

We looked over this third set of offers and accepted the one most likely to close, a female investor from Richmond buying rental property. Not the sort of buyer he hoped would enjoy his house and add ambience to the neighborhood, but at some point you go with your head and not your heart. The house sold for $56,500.

The Piedmont Airlines Crash of 1959

What's it like to be the first person on the scene of an air crash and find everyone dead except one?

"Don't step on that" is the story of the day in 1959 when I found Piedmont Airlines flight 349 on Bucks Elbow Mountain outside Charlottesville, Virginia. 23 passengers and three crew died instantly. Passenger Phil Bradley survived more than 35 hours of November weather strapped to his seat, unable to move.

The story was related in a 2006 radio interview and is a podcast, saving me the need to write it up.
If this doesn't work, let me know.

Greetings from your police state


A memo from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says anyone within 100 miles of the nation's borders can have their electronics seized and the contents examined for any reason, or none, under the guise of "national security."

That's phones, laptops, desktops, anything electronic. And "anyone" means you.

DHS claims the Fourth Amendment - the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures - does not apply wherever they say it doesn't.

Does this include the area to 100 miles inland of the Atlantic & Pacific oceans, which are part of the nation's borders? Yes. That's what unaccountable government - tyranny - is all about.

They released a memo to tell us this. That's how sure they are they have the President's support and how little they have to fear from the congress or from us. (That President was Obama.)

Their reasoning for ignoring the 4th Amendment opens a window to their soul. DHS is true evil. "We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits," the executive summary said. It really said that.

Your government told you "Screw your Bill of Rights!" and almost no one cared.

They were wrong 80 years ago when they said totalitarians would come marching in wrapped in the flag and reciting prayers. That's the fan club for tyrants. Tyrants themselves have always been an evil cancer subverting government. After 911, they saw their chance to take control under the guise of national security.

The noose around us tightens every year, and the only power to stop it comes from the barrel of a gun. Can a billion bullets in bubba's leaderless hands make a difference? Tell me how.

I Can't Hold My Liquor

Wish I could. I envy people who get high and have fun at parties, bars, sport events. Even chronic alcoholics get a kick from alcohol that I can't.

Social boozing for me now is a drink or two, no more. It has no noticeable effect. But a lesson had to be learned over and over before I would accept that.

For example, on my first dance weekend at college I did what was expected of a first year student not of legal age to drink. I bought a pint of Virginia Gentleman bourbon and took my blind date to Carroll's Tea Room, the local beer joint.

We had some drafts before going up the road to watch a polo game. That's where I drank the pint. We had time to kill before dinner, so took a walk around the Grounds, the college campus designed by Thomas Jefferson.

As we walked through the gardens, suddenly I was on the ground rolling into the shrubbery. That was around 5 pm. Next I knew was 22 hours later. I was on my bed in the dorm returning to the world. Sitting on the floor was a stranger talking to me, oblivious to my being comatose.

Seems this guy and I met at the polo grounds. He played the game, had a pilot's license, and was a fellow Yankee. We talked about renting a plane to fly home on Thanksgiving break. We did that, and became lifelong friends.

And a bit more. Thanks to Bob Schlesinger's sudden need to see his Scarsdale sweetie, we probably hold the record for a car trip from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Union Station in Washington, DC. He got into the car after class at 10:55 and 95 minutes later caught the 12:30 to New York. 120 miles in 90 minutes is an average of 75 mph on a mostly 2-lane highway.

A few years later there was a chance to drink again when three theater girls I knew had dates for an Air Force Academy football game in Chicago, but no way to get there. I had a car and a desire to see Chicago, so off we went, picking up one's mother to chaperone.

After the game we went to a popular watering hole of the day, Trader Vic's. The house specialty was Planter's Punch, a huge, delicious drink with a reputation for its kick.

To wit, from the web page:
Trader Vic's Planter's Punch
3 Ounces Jamaica Rum
1/2 ounce Grenadine
Juice of one lime
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/4 tsp Sugar
Charged Water [soda water]

Pour rum, grenadine, lime, and lemon juice in a mixing glass with large pieces of ice. Add sugar. Stir thoroughly and pour into a 12-ounce glass filled with cracked ice; fill the rest of the glass with charged water.

Delicious isn't enough word to describe it. And did I say huge? 12 ounces is a BIG drink. We all ordered it. I had two. As we left, I finished everyone else's. Kick? What kick?

Soon we were zooming along in my Buick station wagon, and I commented to our host, Cal Keet, that the undulating road was hard to drive on. "It's not undulating," he said. "It's flat."

Just in time I pulled over, stopped the car, and fell on the floor.

Then it was the next day and I was on a sofa in our host's apartment.

One evening a few of us had dinner and drinks in Moscow. I overdid the vodka and spent the entire night sitting in the john in my hotel. This time I got there without help.

A week later it was too much red wine in a warm cellar bar in Helsinki. They broke into the restroom where I locked the door before passing out. My buddy Heber Clewett carried me home.

Commander Blake was a man who could hold it. Drunk as a skunk time and again and never accepted help. Left the party late one night, climbed on his BMW, said, "I'm fine, Rey, fine," and went 40 miles south before noticing it was the wrong direction.

I know the feeling. One Saturday night a few friends from around the country came for dinner at the Buffet de la Gare at Hastings-on-Hudson in New York. Having driven 7 hours to be there on the strength of their wine cellar, my destiny was writ.

I don't pass out anymore, but I probably should. After a 5-hour meal involving ample wine, I drove away at midnight, turned north on the highway instead of south, and was 20 miles the wrong way before I knew.

Medical researchers have ample evidence that a shot of schnapps a day and red wine are good for our health. I can add evidence that regularity is vital. Have a little every day; don't let it pile up for one unrestrained binge.

My choice is B&B Liqueur, a French blend of Benedictine brandy and Cognac, if you feel generous.

Farewell Consumer Reports Online
[update Aug. 12, 2012]

I will not be re-subscribing to the online Consumer Reports.

Why? Two reasons.

For one, they force an auto-renew and a credit card charge with no way to prevent that except to cancel your current, active subscription. Only after you click the link to take that rash step to lose the access you paid for, does CR THEN give you an option to stop the auto-renewal without canceling your active account.

People who do that cannot be trusted. So not only did I make the change to end auto-renewals, I also altered my credit card information at the site to make an unauthorized charge impossible.

The second reason for leaving is that the reports and ratings CR posts to the online mag are undated. We have no way to know if the report on auto tires we are reading is this year's report, last year's, or even older. As a result, we might unknowingly put our trust in a tire that once ranked high but no longer does, or waste time looking for tires no longer available.

If you follow house paint tests, you know that paints are continually reformulated to control cost. A brand, type, and color that topped last year's rankings often drops way down when tested a year later. Some years ago, a particular shade of Dutch Boy white actually went from first on the list to last in one year.

Because CR web site ratings aren't dated, there's nothing to prevent us from spending $10,000 to have our house painted with this year's poorest covering, shortest life paint.

Why should I pay for that advice?

Not dating the reviews and rankings means CR doesn't care that we are acting on outdated advice. How these people have changed!

I've been a Consumer Reports reader since the 1940s. I even donated a thousand bucks once. I have a file of CR going back to 1973. The executives in charge of publications should come over and see for themselves how good Consumer Reports was before they got here.

The cost of doing what CU does, coupled with creating too many money-losing publications for someone's pet project, kicked the legs out from under the quality of the flagship publication. They had a good thing going with Consumer Reports. They should have stopped there.

One area they have no expertise in but speak with uncharacteristic know-it-all arrogance is medicine. Since the 30s they have ties to the conservative side of the AMA which sets their attitude on health issues. Their conclusions rely on deadline-limited research done by biased editorial assistants. They cherry-pick for studies confirming CU's bias and ignore those that don't.

With religious fervor, they have no doubt whatever they shine the true light.

Long ago it became obvious they were incensed at publications like "Prevention" that promote nutrition supplements one-and-all. With an insistence on throwing out the baby with the bathwater, CU advises that our diets have all the nourishment needed for good health, and no vitamin, mineral, herb, etc. supplement is beneficial in any way. That's the AMA talking but most doctors today disagree with that. CR, however, is dead certain.

CU was never a danger to consumers until they put undated ratings on their web site and didn't tell anyone.

Fortunately, Amazon's user reviews are far more reliable than CR's rankings + user reviews, especially on home appliances. I can't explain that. I've been comparing both since 2008 and the evidence is overwhelming that Amazon reviewers are more astute, more reliable, more useful.

If CU ever turns things around, I'll be back.

Sept. 11, 2011

A Constitutional Convention? Consider the possibilities

As we know, members of congress exempt themselves from many of the laws they pass, such as being exempt from prosecution for sexual harassment. They can't legally harass, but they cannot be prosecuted when they do except by the Senate itself.

Recently they exempted themselves from health care changes. Why? Because taxpayers buy them the best insurance and health care available, and they don't want that disturbed.

Do you know that any member of Congress can, anonymously, place a hold on any bill to keep it from being put on the calendar? Some do it just to demand a quid pro quo in return for getting out of the way. And nowhere is there a public record of it. We are not allowed to know who did it.

Any senator with an agenda, pro-life for example, can prevent the senate from filling a judgeship vacancy on any federal court including the Supreme Court. On Sept. 6, 2011, the NYTimes reported the Senate is holding up 55 such confirmations.

Without judges, courts have declared emergencies due to backlogs. The Senate could end the problem in half a day but ignores its responsibility.

The US Congress is an elite that enjoys being above the law. One after another for over 200 years, they run for office as one of us, promise reform, and upon election become the enemy.

Some don't want to. They have no choice. They come into Congress at the bottom of a seniority system. If they don't play ball with the leadership, they are assigned to the least important committees, where they languish and can do nothing for their constituents or for heavy hitter contributors. Without these, they are soon gone.

Congress is impossible to change from within. There is only one way to change it. By revising the rules it runs by in a constitutional convention. It takes 38 of the 50 states to convene a constitutional convention. Is that realistic?

At present, governors of 35 states have filed suit against the federal government for imposing "unlawful" burdens upon them. In a federal republic like ours, it is long established that the central government must win in a tussle with the states. When that happens in this case, the day could come when a constitutional convention is a possibility.

Opening that door can be dangerous. People will propose controls on other things beside a corrupt congress. For example, proposing a change in the Free Speech Amendment to stop political demonstrations by outsiders at private funerals. That would come up.

Or the right to own hand guns could be expanded or shrunk. Lots of interest on both sides.

Government agents could lose their right to reach into your pants and feel your privates at airports, federal buildings, railway stations, subway stations, bus depots, street corners, sports arenas, political conventions, rock concerts, etc.

Ever ask yourself why anyone at all can drive an unsearched truck carrying 15 tons of TNT into a crowded tunnel under the Hudson River, yet grandma can't take toothpaste on a plane, or a seat cushion to the football stadium?

Is it because the government's target is us, free people? Law enforcement bullies, always a small component of government, used 9/11 as leverage to take over and suspend the constitution as they please.

Unless we repair our constitution by a convention, freedom in this nation is over. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. And that's where we are.

The pessimists say it can't be done. That a constitutional convention would be taken over by the same shadow government that aimed the Tea Party's guns at the wrong targets and made it political farce.

But isn't our only chance worth a try?

A Second Look at a Constitutional Convention

For certain we need to pay attention to Thomas Jefferson when he said "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants; it is it's natural manure."

But comfy Americans are no longer willing to become manure, not even in a just cause. They suggest a constitutional convention instead.

Few things are as frightening as the turbulent changes possible to our basic rights and laws resulting from a constitutional convention. Once it's called, anything in the US Constitution can be changed.

That's why we are still two or three states short of the 38 required to call the convention.

Although a huge majority of Americans agree the US is in need of serious change, the devil we know is preferred to the devil we don't.

But what are some of these devils we know? Isn't trying to fix them worth the risk, especially since there is no other feasible way?

For example ...

The advertising and marketing industries are allowed to saturate every inch of the country at every level 24 hours every day of the year with distortions, exaggerations, misstatements, falsehoods, and inaccuracies because, pointing to the 1st Amendment, courts must permit this.

A legal system that by design can permit the excesses of the OJ Simpson travesty and do nothing to improve itself, is in need of improvement, refuses to admit it, so improvement must be forced upon it.

A Congress that puts large donors and pressure groups first and the good of the nation later is in need of having term limits imposed upon both houses. The seniority system empowers a dictatorship within Congress incapable of reform. The Constitution's design for Congress guaranteed legitimized corruption, likely by intent.

A health care industry designed to squeeze maximum profit from illness and injury is an abomination to humanity that must have revolutionary reform forced upon it.

A firearm culture controlled by arms industry pressure is a cancer killing us for profit.

An overboard patent industry that grants exclusive rights effectively forever to the first to put shared common sense on paper needs total overhaul.

Our national banking dictatorship, the Federal Reserve Board, makes nation-shattering decisions based on changes in the cost-of-living which deliberately ignores the most important item of all, the cost of food.

An income tax structure that elevates investors to deities above all mankind.

But who would be chosen to attend this state-sponsored constitutional convention to decide what needs changing, and how, if not the very same pressure groups able to control everything at the state level now?

Again, we need to pay attention to Thomas Jefferson when he said "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants; it is it's natural manure."

Thom knew better than anyone that the tree was compromised from the start by the mindset which soon assumed control. 'Tis a pity.

Rejected for the op-ed page at Washington Post & USA Today

For more issues at a constitutional convention, see A Constitutional Convention?

Some things written by other people are too important for you to miss. This is one. It cuts to the heart of religious hypocrisy. Bible cherry picking is the sign of the hypocrite.

Why Can't I Own a Canadian?

October 2002

Dr. Laura Schlesinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,

Some say this first appeared on a West Wing episode. Perhaps it did.

Here's the clip.

Aug. 20, 2011
Could the US go bankrupt?

Surveys in 2011 reveal that a disproportionate number of Republicans and Tea Partiers have taken personal or business bankruptcy.

Popular bozo idol Donald Trump uses bankruptcy as a normal business tool. Could people be as reckless with a nation's finances as they are with their own?

Absolutely. This is not the country of our history. All the values that made our people great have become values of the minority today, values like sound credit, good reputation, traditional family, respectable morality. They were replaced by the Donalds, by lawyer schemes, by MBAs, by public relations, and everywhere you look, by advertiser mind rot.

Now what matters is the spin. The only approved behavior is what has been spun to media approval. The only ethics are situation ethics. Nothing is always wrong or always right. Depends on the situation.

Under the hypocrisy of claiming we respect values, today's western civilization, me and probably you, are pragmatists of the "If it feels good, do it" school, though we deny it.

The Moral Pragmatists who give in to nature, like Palin's daughter and Clinton/Lewinski, etc., and those who have no problem with it;

The Religious Pragmatists whose direct word from Allah or Christ is whatever they happen to want, like the Taliban, or the Christian fundamentalist "Family" jerking Washington around these days;

The Education Pragmatists skirting the job of preparing kids for life by teaching-to-test instead;

The Entertainment Pragmatists serving only the lowest common denominator and competing to find ways to lower it;

The Sports Pragmatists to whom the games are second to obscene amounts of money;

The Corporate Pragmatists earning each hour what an employe earns in a year, and eager to cut staff to please Wall Street capitalists;

Hollywood screenwriter, director, and producer pragmatists oblivious to motivation and story telling;

A president who can watch the country's jobs flow offshore by the thousands and do nothing but say again and again, despite having a job, that he feels our pain;

Politicians, who must win or lose, have always been pragmatists, saying whatever the listener wants to hear. And the public, not just the tea party, falls for it every time.

Could we see the country default and declare bankruptcy?

Could we see Congress pass laws to preserve their personal retirement, wealth, and health care while the rest of us lose everything?

Could we see a Supreme Court majority say it's perfectly constitutional?

With leadership as corrupt and as well-financed as ours, an electorate of fools that we are, and so much militarization that even the Social Security Administration and the Dept of Education hired mercenary SWAT teams, nothing could stop them.

Nov. 21, 2010 (rev. May 2017)

The history that isn't official and fake

The myth that Americans enjoy a free society is modern history's propaganda success. Actually, more than 4,450 activities are federal crimes, and another 300,000 federal regulations can result in jail time, according to McClatchy Newspapers. Many US laws impose jail terms for the "crime" of discussing something, with no action taken, contemplated, or even possible.

Congress adds to laws that limit free speech almost every term, and most are upheld by the courts despite the First Amendment. The founders created the free speech amendment as a bowl to hold our basic rights. After 230 years, lawmakers - at our urging - turned it into a sieve leaking as much protection as it holds.

You can more than double the legal noose when you include the statutes of 50 states and 15,000 local governments. And of course your neighborhood school which will suspend a first grader who points a finger and says "Pow."

We can proclaim freedom freedom all we like but what Americans demand is must or can't.

To illustrate its point that Congress went overboard criminalizing everything, McClatchy noted that Miami seafood importer Abner Schoenwetter, 64, just finished a six-year stretch in prison. Abner's crime? He contracted to purchase lobster tails from a Honduran seller whom federal authorities learned was violating lobster-harvest regulations. Free nations confiscate profits and impose a fine. We do that. Plus we lock 'em up.

On the newspaper blog: "Good! He deserves it. Six years isn't enough. Poor lobsters ...."

Lip service notwithstanding, we don't value freedom. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, 754 inmates per 100,000 residents.

The US is the third most populous country. China and India each has four times as many, yet we have the highest prison and jail population on the planet.

This isn't "them" doing it to "us." This is us doing it to ourselves. American voters want this. We send to Congress, to state legislatures, often to local councils, often to run our institutions only authoritarians who promise to be firmer, to curtail freedom quicker and longer.

According to the BBC, a professional clown, Tiririca (translation "Grumpy"), was elected by resounding vote to the Brazilian Congress under the slogan "It Can't Get Any Worse."

Isn't that what got Trump elected? Half our people believed it's so bad he couldn't make it worse.

Yeah, right. Since Trump and the GOP took over it's like staring at the mountain watching an avalanche head for your chalet.

Historians tell us that since 1776, every 50 years or so Americans re-discover that political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The next wake-up is due around 2020.

They are ready. Since 9/11, Congress, the administration, the courts, and government contractors have put in place iron controls so terrorists (ie. rebels or freedom fighters or patriots) will be SWAT teamed, droned, tasered, and locked away.

That's the American Way and there's no turning back. But don't stop trying. Freedom isn't achieved with speeches, but by masses and martyrs. As Thomas Jefferson put it, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Blog for Nov. 1, 2008

The Jazz Name Game
By Rey Barry
Copyleft 1999

In 1999, jazz station KCSM in San Mateo, California, had a jazz poetry contest.
My entry lost but it wasn't so bad.
Kinda fun, really.

Rey's huge WNEW larger-than-life lobby posters are originals from the John Kluge MetroMedia collection.
In addition to Peggy, Ella, and Louis, there was Frank. A friend bought that one.

Some folks know what the jazz is,
Some have nary a clue,
There's a way to tell them apart,
Here, I'll explain it to you.

Take a name like Edward Kennedy,
A name famous in all Christendom,
To jazz folks that's two-thirds of a name,
To complete it, add Ellington.

Woodrow Charles Herman rings no one's bell,
But as Woody eternal he'll be,
William Christopher Handy sounds a bit strange
For someone remembered as W. C.

We heard not of Julius Gubenko,
He played vibes as Terry Gibbs,
He wasn't related to Georgia,
Born Fredda Gibbons and known as Her Nibs.

Ian Earnest Gilmore Green,
A name from verse meter heavens,
Played piano that was out of this world
But under the name of Gil Evans.

Everyone knows Francis Albert,
He made it as famous as Frank,
Not the same for Clifford Everett
Who was only known as Bud Shank.

Hezekiah Leroy Gordon Smith
The jazz world knows only as "Stuff,"
And they always called Billie, "Lady Day,"
Though she was christened Eleanor Gough.

Was she ever Norma Jean Egstrom,
Or always Miss Peggy Lee?
Did Britisher Margaret Marian Turner
Become McPartland by royal decree?

Shirley Luster was no misnomer, her
June Christie became sunshine at play,
Spike Knoblaugh made nary a sound:
But as sax playing leader Glen Gray.

For John Haley he didn't give a hoot,
So Sims renamed that to Zoot, he
Went the way of Charles Melvin,
The Williams we all know as Cootie.

Melvin James Oliver we know as Sy,
While Joe Oliver crowned himself King,
Wilbur Schwichtenberg Will Bradley became,
Harry Lillis called himself Bing.

John Birks Gillespie is Dizzy,
Evans Glenn known as Tyree,
It's only first names that matter,
Harry Finkelman was simply Ziggy.

Little Jazz, the Prez, Sweets, and Swee' pea,
Sonny, and Slim, Slam, and Bam,
Reds by the score come through the door
When cats all gather to jam.

Everyone's a Buddy, a Shorty, or Butch,
A Pee Wee, Tiny, Pops, or just Pop,
We can guess where most of that came from,
... But who named Clarence Smith Pine Top?

Rey once wrote a song called "Bam Bam Poppa That's a 2 Bam Dad." The song sucked, the movie was worse, the TV pilot stank, and no one bought the book, the T-shirt, or the coffee mug. But the bumper sticker can live forever on your car as it does on mine. Get one from Rey's store PUCKISH TENDENCIES at Zazzle.

August 1, 2008

Bank of America: Skullduggery Unlimited

I have a credit card issued by Bank of America. The July, 2008, statement included a $171 "Cash Advance" and a $10 fee for same. We were confused by this, having not made a cash advance since we vacationed in Puerto Rico 12 years ago.

After a painstaking search, we traced the so-called cash advance to the purchase over the phone of 100 Euros from Bank of America that we charged to the Bank of America credit card.

Seeing a chance to tack fees on top of their deplorable exchange rate, they recorded the charge as a "Cash Advance" without informing us, and added a $10 nuisance fee in addition to the mailing fee.

But that's not all. Beginning on day one of this bogus cash advance, they charged us an interest rate of 24%, also of course without telling us.

In the several years we had this soon-to-be-canceled card, we never carried a balance. Not once. $2000 to $4000 paid off every month. Yet these SOBs charged a usurious interest rate for a concealed cash advance without informing us we were being charged at all.

But it's the last line that says it all about Bank of America. At the bottom of our July statement, in an admission included only because it's required by law, it reveals the "Annual Percentage Rate for this billing period: 89.40%."

That's Bank of America today ... skullduggery unlimited. If you hear of anyone, anywhere bringing an action against them, civil or criminal, let us know. We want so much to be part of it.

June 6, 2008

The Year Larry Sabato Ate Crow

One of America's political treasures today is Larry Sabato, the guru who heads the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia here in Charlottesville. Larry is universally recognized in the co-dependent worlds of politics and journalism as having all ten fingers on the political pulse of America.

Just as important, he's not afraid to put his mouth where his mouth is and make predictions. His constant appearances on TV, radio, and print gain him the thanks of news editors and the label "Dial-a-quote" by admirers. Larry is one of the few people today who, after listening to him, we know more.

Being involved in politics in the same small town, Larry and I were friends, but he outpaced me decades ago. I can testify he earned and deserves the distinction he enjoys today.

I was reminded yesterday, when cleaning out closets and crannies for a yard sale, that Larry was not always right with predictions. High on a closet shelf I ran across pictures I took of Larry cheerfully preparing to dine on crow at a luncheon meeting of local politicos.

This was 1985, a momentous year in Virginia and the nation. That was the year an African-American state senator, L. Douglas Wilder, was elected Lt. Governor of Virginia.

Sabato was one of ever-so-many who predicted not only that Wilder would lose but that there was no question he would lose. His loss was so certain Larry said he had but "one chance in a hundred."

Larry could hardly be blamed. He knew Virginia. As Jim Latimore, Virginia's leading political reporter, explained it later:

"... traditionalists made a basic mistake: they agreed with the conventional wisdom that anybody with a white face could trounce the best of well-known blacks in ... racially conservative ... Virginia ....

"On election day, 1985, the black turnout was relatively low but Wilder netted some 44 percent of the white vote, polled 52 percent of the total turnout, and racked up a winning margin of 48,634 votes."

So Larry cheerfully dined on crow at our next luncheon. I re-captioned some old New Yorker cartoons and made up a booklet commemorating the event. A copy of that was in the closet. Here's a couple:

"Sabato quoted odds of 100-to-1 so we bet it all"

Four years later Wilder became the first African-American in US history to be elected governor of a state. Larry had no problem calling that one.

March 29, 2008

We're the Germans now

Germany under Hitler -
Russia under Stalin -
USA under Bush -

So many differences, but it's the similarities that are going down in history.

Today's Americans are seeing what it was like to be an ordinary German of the 30s and 40s. Like them, we cast votes on election day that have no influence on what the elected do, have no say in the direction the country goes.

Like the Germans under Hitler, like the Russians under Stalin, we vote and are ignored by a government fully aware it's insulated from our control, a government relishing its imbalanced power. A government possessing the reins of persuasion, confusion, control.

A Congress of egos addicted to re-election; an executive branch running on secrecy, security, and lies; a judiciary of cowardice, all merge into a government so involved with private industry as to be the poster boy for 21st century fascism.

And you know. And I know. Just as the Germans knew. How many of them do you think were, as they put it, kaknaiv (naive as shit?) How many of us are?

In 1940 we could ask the Germans but today we can ask ourselves: When your country is feared and your leaders loathed by much of the world, who is being served when your news media treat seriously only friendly viewpoints and belittle the rest?

We have as a press, and a TV press especially, an onrushing torrent of the basest human qualities: petty, gossipy, shallow, impolite, crass, biased, arrogant, devious, nosy, and desperate to please. Humans have hearts, the press does not, so there is nothing in the press credo about "doing no harm." Those are excellent tools of the trade but they deprive the press of authority to guide or chide.

When the laws of decency you breach, no one listens when you preach.

One wonders how much of this Thomas Jefferson would have endured before rebellion occupied his thoughts. Would he have sat idle watching liberty shrink, as we have? His was the credo: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

On the other hand his successors, today's revisionist Americans, revile Jefferson and cling to the belief that artificial manure - the talk from politicians and pretentious patriots - is sufficient to preserve liberty.

Clearly it is not. Who do we see about that, if not you?

Nov. 24, 2006

"British sports car: pretty to look at but built like crap"

Seeing this line by Tony Long, copy chief at Wired News, reminded me of the day I was to die.

It was in September of 1958. I had just bought a brand new MGA in Greenwich, CT, for $2300 list price, and drove it to Virginia. It was two days old and I was on my way into town to buy anchor bolts for an aircraft seat belt, and car insurance.

Seat belts weren't yet standard in cars but I was an early user, thanks to seat belt pioneer Dr. Fletcher D. Woodward, the father of a close friend.

I lived in a cottage at The Riggory, an Albemarle County, Virginia, farm six miles from town, a nice old place dating from 1775. I was 21 and in my third year of college.

As I motored toward town that Indian summer day, the top was down and my big old 29-lb Zenith Trans-Oceanic vacuum tube radio was in the seat next to me, singing away.

Country roads in Virginia like the Stony Point Road saw little improvement in the 1950s. Hell, they barely saw minimal maintenance. That didn't affect the speed limit. Country roads in Virginia were all 55 mph unless posted otherwise, and this one wasn't.

So at 55 I entered a downhill, decreasing radius, left-hand bend. Not a sharp bend, just gradual. It didn't even call for down-shifting, though I'll never be absolutely sure of that. The turn should have been no problem for a sports car.

Suddenly the MG front end turned sharply left, the car followed, the front wheels went into the ditch, and the roadster went flying up in the air and crashed upside down onto the road, and onto me. But I wasn't crushed.

As it overturned I was partially tossed out the back. Amazingly, the car came down with enough force on the hood to keep the back from making contact with the ground or with me, who was lying under the trunk with my feet still in the cockpit inches below the rear cowl.

Above my face the gas tank cap was dripping on my nose. I crawled out, stood up, and realized that aside from a dirty sweater I was untouched.

As I turned off the key there was music coming from the meadow on the downhill side of the road. Walking over, I saw the Zenith lying on the ground, also unbroken.

People came by, we turned the car onto its wheels, and a bit later it was towed away to Grant Cosner, the local wreck repairer. The left front tire pointed left; the right front pointed straight ahead.

The car was uninsured. In Virginia then, if you bought a new car without selling your old one, as I had, there was no automatic insurance on the new one. I was out of luck. Grant quoted $2400 to make things right. That's $100 more than the car had cost two days before, and $2000 more than I could afford. If I was to have any bargaining power, I'd have to fix it enough myself to drive it off his lot.

The first thing I found wrong was the steering arm. It was severely bent. I removed it, installed a new one ($5,) and brought the original to the engineering school of the local university.

I removed what was left of the windshield and installed a racing windscreen my brother provided when he drove my old car down from Connecticut where it had been left to be sold. The MG wasn't street-legal but it was now drivable, and I had my old blue Chrysler New Yorker convertible for daily transportation.

My older brother had a racing windscreen to spare because he raced Triumph TRs in the 1950s. Ah, the good old days of Sports Car Club of America gentlemen's amateur racing.

I took a full-time job as a radio announcer for $1 an hour, found a talented body shop foreman needing work in his spare time, and within four months had the MG back looking like that day on the showroom floor. I never did put seat belts in the car. They would have killed me. I never used the top. That, too, would have killed me. The convertible top, partly decomposed by battery acid, hung permanently on a hook in Ed Mittendorf's Riggory barn.

In January I sold the Chrysler and used the MGA for three years, 12 months a year, with no top, just a fitted tonneau cover. Fortunately I love rain and snow. Sailors and other outdoor types can relate.

After the wreck, one of Virginia's legendary deputy sheriffs, T.M. Mac Whitten, cited me for reckless driving. That was the beginning of a cherished 20-year friendship with Mac. RIP

My insurance agent, Harry Lewis, suggested I hire an attorney. He thought the judge might be harsh because of my appearance. In 1958 not many men or college boys had facial hair, let alone a wild, shaggy look. Ahead of my time, I hadn't touched a razor in two years.

The attorney I hired was brand new in practice. He told the judge the hair was for a part in a play at the university, which was true enough. Explaining that my brand new car was destroyed, he asked for mercy by way of reducing the charge to "Failure to slow down," an obsolete statute dating from the horseless carriage days. The judge went along and imposed a $2 fine. The lawyer charged $75.

And what of that British-built steering arm? The engineering school reported the arm was not of uniform hardened steel and was easily bent. The strain of taking the car through the turn bent the arm, causing the car to go out of control. "British sports car: pretty to look at but built like crap."

You can still find that downhill, decreasing radius, left-hand bend but it's no longer officially the Stony Point Road. It now parallels a quarter mile bypass.

And you can still find that lawyer who did a good job as a novice. He more than made the grade. For years he was a key partner in the largest law firm in town.

Also a stalwart was the 1953 Zenith Trans-Oceanic radio that was flung from the car. A year later it was struck by lightning at The Riggory, and all the parts were fried. Zenith, at no charge, sent the complete set of replacement parts, wire, and a diagram. Over a weekend I re-built it. Half a century later now, and the radio's in my den, still singing away.

And yes, it's true, in the 1950s in small southern towns a radio announcer even at the oldest, largest station in town, got a measly $1 an hour. But what doors it opened. And what a surprise to learn that desirable women find DJs an aphrodisiac.

Oct. 25, 2006

These are, after all, Arabs

The surest way to decrease Muslim terrorism is to decrease terrorists. There are big numbers involved. The role model, Osama bin Laden, sired more than 40 children whom he rears with old testament certitude. Some of his followers have more; the rest are trying to catch up.

The people in the best position to find terrorists are other terrorists. Beyond question, helping terrorists kill each other is in the world's interest. It's good news when we hear that some fundamentalist Imam sent his lackeys to shoot up the fundamentalist mosque across town. For the rest of us including moderate Muslims the only sane reaction is "Atta boy!"

So we should set a date to leave Iraq and get out of their way.

The United States is a warrior state. Waging war is what we do best. We are not diplomats. When not making open war we make back room war, destabilizing governments we don't like. When it's time to make peace we shower money on the side that gives us the best trade agreement.

That's the nature of Americans. That's US history without the patriotic rhetoric. We always return to it. We will in Iraq eventually, and it's time to compose the patriotic rhetoric this or the next administration will need to support "Mission Accomplished" and ticker tape parades for the troops.

We justified the Iraq incursion on the bogus evidence there were weapons of mass destruction. It worked; the lie reached critical mass. So it can be bogus evidence that lets us out. Ideal for the job is "We brought democracy to Iraq." We can point to their constitution; we can point to their elected leaders. Mission accomplished. Reach critical mass. Leave.

At the moment the press won't let us reach critical mass because of the mess over there, so we're going to need covert operations to take things in hand. Those familiar with America's clandestine services (or Stephen Kinzer's recent book "Overthrow") know the tool we use: money. We pay people on site to carry out a plan. In this case, an exit plan, a truce that brings a few months of stability to Iraq that lasts long enough for us to get out.

There's one problem with that: no one in Iraq is safe being associated with us. So we have to hire a conduit, a surrogate power to pass out our money and run our exit plan. Alas, any nation with positive influence in Iraq has so much oil money we can't hire them.

So don't hire a nation. Hire tribes. This isn't rocket science. These are, after all, Arabs. No group on earth is more associated with a characteristic nature than the Arab. Fortunately Arab nature is precisely the same as ours: pious self-interest. Grasp the unfair advantage and call it god's will. We talk the same language.

Between the intelligence services, the academic specialists, and the indigenous implants, we have the tools to find clients who can bring a fleeting peace to Iraq and let us leave. Let's get on with it.

Oct. 25, 2006

How come rappers get it all so wrong?

In his day, Cole Porter wrote songs like "You're the top." Today he'd look around, listen to our music, and write, "You're a flop."

Since Cole's not around I did it for him. The target is my pick for the lowest form of mass entertainment thus far, hip hop. Herewith, the Ode to Rappers.

Intro ... in Cole's footsteps.

At thoughts poetic
You're so pathetic
That the notion of imagery
Is way above what you see,
You miss it all, entirely.

Words from the gutter
Is all you utter,
Relying mostly on letters four,
From a vocabulary oh so poor
You make of lyric - just a bore.

So ...

You're a flop,
You're a stabbing toothache,
Crooked cop,
Or a poisoned fruitcake,
If the secret of the soul is ours to learn,
We won't find it till you've gone some place to burn.

You're retards,
You are morning gridlocks,
Sadistic guards,
Or a dose of small pox,
Like the striking teachers closing up the schools,
You are greedy, self-infatuated fools.

You disgust,
You're Rush Limbaugh dittos,
Prison lust,
You're 8-leg black widows,
Like a scorpion hidden underneath a bed,
What you're offering is better dead than said.

You are quits,
You're a suicide bomber,
Druggie's wits,
Creed of Jeffrey Daumer,
You're a total flop, a massive crop of zits,
Pal in everything we know of you're the pits.

You're the pits,
You're the source of race hate,
You're the pits,
You're a nag nag nag mate,
You're relationships examined on a date,
You're an oil well on fire in Kuwait.

You're the flu,
You're a skunk's aroma,
You're the loo,
You're a melanoma,
You're the neo-cons who got us into war
You are Monica and every closet whore.

You're Iran
With atomic weapons,
You're O.J.
Despicable deception,
If the greatest thing in all the world is peace,
We won't have any till you rappers cease.

You're the worst,
You're an infomercial,
You're a curse,
You're a big oil merger,
If it's beauty that can make the world go 'round,
You will stop it spinning with your awful sound.

You're the dregs,
You're ozone depletion,
You're square pegs,
You're a clap secretion,
You are offering youth a model with no class,
They'd be just as well off eating broken glass.

You're a flop,
You are global warming,
Scum on top,
Email spam bot farming,
You are politicians saying yes to bribes,
You are everything from which we get bad vibes.

You're a fool,
You're a drop out student,
You're a tool,
Of your groupie mutants,
If the future of the world is in your hands
It's the end of civilization's happy plans.

You're the pits,
You're a yeast infection,
You've no wits,
You're airport inspection,
You are low-fat cheese, mad cow disease, lungs with a wheeze,
You're a head of cooties and a crotch of fleas.

You're uncool,
You're Dick Chaney mooning,
You're a fool,
You're a bagpipe tuning,
You're a network censor snuffing out the light,
You're a goth, a skin-head, and everything un-bright.

You're deep in shit,
Direct marketing phoners,
You're a twit,
Like the Falwell donors,
You're the bomb that's tossed at random in a bus
You're a back that's full of bed sores leaking pus.

You're debauched,
You're a syphilis chancre,
You're a louse,
An Al Quaida banker,
You're the acid rain that eats away the Sphinx,
You're an evil token, a promise broken, a jinx.

You're a curse,
You're a careless boater,
Even worse,
You're a red state voter,
You're a migraine headache right before exams,
You're the line outside the bathroom from bad clams.

You are mud,
Corporation morals,
Diesel crud,
Microsoft tutorials,
If the seed of entertainment grows in wit,
You're the poison ivy when it grows from shit.

You are spams,
You are runaway taxes,
Retiree scams,
And the enemy axis,
You're the vote that puts the stupid ones in power,
You're the architect behind our darkest hour.

You're a slum,
You're a racial bigot,
You're a bum,
You're a leaky spigot,
You're the reason for denial of a job,
You're the seat mate no one wants: a massive slob.

You are flawed,
You're Stockhausen music,
You're a fraud,
You're a dime-a-trick chick,
You're the carpet bombs that rain down from the sky,
You're excuses men go off to war to die.

You're a flop,
You're a download virus,
Flat soda pop,
You're a cop who's spineless,
You're a father raised to think he must control,
You're a dead-end thug who hasn't got a goal.

You are smegma,
You're a fan of wrestling,
You are phlegm,
You're dot com investing,
You're an anthrax scare, a voyeur's stare, a pimp,
You're a penis doomed forever to be limp.

You're despoiled,
You're a schoolyard sniper
You are soiled
Like a dirty diaper,
If the greatest thing in all the world is song,
How come you rappers get it all so wrong?


If the greatest thing in all the world is song,
How could hip hop have got it all so wrong?

April 28, 2006

Big Oil
I'm just an ordinary retired guy in Virginia you never heard of who's had enough. It's time to do something about Big Oil.

Gasoline has been pushed to over $3 a gallon in most of the US this year due to the cost of oil. Every mile we drive or fly, every mile an 18-wheeler travels delivering goods, every watt of electricity generated from oil by the power company, national defense, medicine, every bit of plastic to wrap anything else in, each uses petrochemicals and cost more.

Everyone in the chain of manufacture and sales can pass the added costs along. The only ones with no one to pass the costs to are you and me. We are the ones the others pass them to. We reimburse everybody. Who do we see about this?

We can't expect anything but spin tokenism from the Bush-Cheney administration. Those families have been part of the oil industry since long before these men ran for office. We knew that all along.

We can't expect help from the worst congress money can buy. Someone can, just not us.

We can only do something about price gouging and excess profits ourselves. We can make intelligent choices. Here's who I'm not buying from.

Exxon-Mobil Corporation announced on April 27 that it had $86 billion income in the first three months of 2006, and that $6.9 billion was profit. There's probably a good reason for this. They may even be entitled to it. Wall Street was disappointed it was so little. I don't care.

Exxon-Mobil is the largest company in the U.S. as ranked on the Fortune 500 list. It's also the largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world. And it's the most profitable. Its operating profit in 2005 was $36.13 billion, an all-time record for any publicly traded company, replacing Wal-Mart as the world's largest corporation by revenue.

Who does Exxon-Mobil blame for high oil prices? Car makers. John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute notes that, referring to a recent Exxon Mobil ad that blamed auto companies for the rising price of gas, Chrysler chief spokesman Jason Vines said:

"Despite a documented history of blowing their exorbitant profits on outlandish executive salaries and stock buybacks, and hoarding their bounty by avoiding technologies, policies, and legislation that would protect the population and environment and lower fuel costs, Big Oil insists on transferring all of that responsibility on the auto companies."

Which could explain why US auto companies are losing billions while Exxon-Mobil is making them.

Exxon-Mobil is regarded by many environmentalists as an example of corporate irresponsibility and disregard for environmental concerns. The company has been a target of a number of campaigns by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and People and Planet.

In 1989 the tanker Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 10 million gallons of oil into the waters of Alaska's Prince William Sound, the most devastating oil spill of all time in U.S. waters. 34,000 people, most of them touched by the fisheries industry, were harmed by that spill. In 1995 a court fined Exxon $5 billion in damages. How much has the company paid? Zero. Exxon has been working the legal system all it can filing appeals and delays.

This is a bad corporate citizen, one of the worst. For window dressing they donate a smidgen of their monster profits to charitable causes. A little here for Little League, a little there for the opera company. It gives them something cheerful to blurt about in full-color, full-page magazine ads.

Expensive ads are a powerful influence on magazine and newspaper publishers not to take a hard look at a generous supporter like Exxon-Mobil. That's the American Way. But YOU don't have a magazine. I don't have a newspaper. We have no reason to look the other way. Except that we were taught to turn the other cheek when we encounter abuse.

Abusive companies like Exxon-Mobil act like we have no end of cheeks to turn. I've reached the end, and now is when I stop supporting Exxon-Mobil. There's nothing special about their gasoline. There are plenty of other filling stations with fuel of the same quality. In fact the two best German car companies say other brands have better additives, but that's not the issue here.

The issue is that for the rest of my life, none of the four cars in my family will be gassed up at stations selling Exxon-Mobil products.

I hope you do the same, if not avoiding Exxon-Mobile than whatever company you prefer. I hope you send this email to everyone you know. If enough people in America have backbones, the monster corporations might learn there are limits to the corporate abuse we will tolerate.

Or maybe there aren't any limits to the abuse you'll take? That's your decision.

Nothing is without fallout. It's unfortunate that filling station operators must suffer, but we can support them with car repairs and other automotive needs.

You can expect to read newspaper stories and hear TV interviews attacking this idea. That's why corporations have public relations departments. Enjoy it; ignore it.

July 2, 2005

Democrats also believe in "trickle-down"

The Supreme Court's Kelo decision in 2005 - that we can be forced to sell our house so a developer can build on the land - was a triumph of a basic plank of the Democrat Party, my party.

Kelo put us face-to-face with a cherished Democratic Party belief: that social planning can accomplish public good. Kelo affirmed the good of the community over the property rights of the individual.

Removing urban blight, protecting an unspoiled environment, and tearing down private homes and businesses to replace them with something creating jobs and generating taxes - like it or not - are what my party stands for.

We ridicule Republicans for their belief that making the rich richer will benefit the rest of us. "Trickle-down" we call it. Government helps the rich by cutting their tax rate, etc. and the benefits trickle down. Like the jobs created when the Reagan, Bush, and Trump tax cuts transferred so much wealth to the already wealthy.

For the most part, the money was invested overseas because of greater profits. That's our free market capitalism at work. Greed was great when it worked for us. Now it's undermining the nation, and signs are unmistakable that US greatness is circling the drain.

We Democrats have a different trickle-down theory. We believe that forced sale of private property to enable economic development will benefit all. Help developers build housing, stores, and factories and the benefits trickle down to others.

Does it work? Did benefits trickle down after urban renewal bulldozed away neighborhoods in your town? I guess that depends on your point of view.

The Kelo case gave the Supreme Court an opportunity to make Democrat-style trickle down the law of the land, and they did. The case originated in New London, CT, where Democrats dominate the city council. They said private property rights must give way when a developer wants the space.

It was the liberal side of the supreme court that made this the law of the land in a 5 to 4 vote. Justices voting to protect private property were the court's conservatives and reactionaries.

Liberals have a dark side? Well now you know. Does that dark side, not respecting private property, have anything to do with why there are more red states than blue states? Who knows ...

Oh. The private developer never built the project in New London, CT, for which Kelo's home was seized and destroyed. Now it's a vacant lot serving no "public use" or "public purpose" at all.

June 30, 2005

If you're from the government, I'm here to help you.

I'm here to help you increase your tax base and provide jobs in your community.

But not all communities. Specifically the communities where five Supreme Court Justices reside, have vacation retreats, or own investment property. These are the five Justices who agreed in the Kelo decision to let government take our property and give it to any developer who offered greater economic benefits.

Lucky you if David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Stephen G. Breyer owns property in your jurisdiction.

This isn't a bloggy promise. I've been a real estate broker for 30 years and I'm familiar with drawing up development plans. I can show you how to bulldoze Ruthie Ginsburg's home sweet home and replace it - and her penny-ante real estate taxes - with the greatest boost to the local economy known in America.

Who pays more local sales taxes than anyone else in the US? Who provides more jobs to Americans than anyone else?

Wal-Mart. No one else comes close on either count. Whatever their faults, they pay the most taxes and provide the most jobs, and that's what it's all about now. A Supreme Court majority of one said that's the law of the land.

If you will write me and invite me, I will come to your community and draw up, in Justice Stevens's words of blessing, "carefully considered development plans" to replace the properties of those five Justices with efficient, economy boosting Wal-Marts.

It's the American way. God, do I feel patriotic.

Rey Barry
from the shadows of Monticello

Nov. 6, 2004

(Someone else had this idea first but it was sophomoric, defensive, and over-board. You'll like my version better; it's sophomoric and over-board but not defensive.)

A day in the life of Joe Doe, Conservative

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his conservative coffeepot with water to prepare his conservative coffee. The water is clean and pure because liberals fought for minimum water-quality standards. (It was Joe's conservatives they fought against.)

With his first swallow of coffee he takes his daily medication. His medicine is probably safe because when Democrats were the majority they fought to insure drug safety, and that drugs actually work as advertised. It was Joe's party they fought to get this. Now that Joe's conservatives are running the show, drugs like Vioxx are coming to market that have to be pulled a few years later after people die from them.

All but $10 of Joe's medicine is paid for by his company medical plan because Democrat unionists negotiated with employers to provide medical insurance. Joe - who won't join no stinkin' union - gets the benefits just the same.

He prepares his morning breakfast of bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because liberals fought laws through Congress to regulate the meat-packing industry. Joe's conservatives want to abandon government meat inspection and let the meat packers regulate themselves. They believe Joe can find out perfectly well on his own if the meat is safe by eating it. If it's not and he gets sick or dies, he or his survivors can buy a different brand next time. They call that the power of the marketplace. And if they must, his survivors can sue the packer of bad meat, though Joe's conservatives are trying to cap the value of any award at $200,000.

In the shower Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is labeled with the ingredients because liberals fought for his right to know what he's putting on his body, and for food labeling to let him know what's going IN his body. If Joe has an allergy, he doesn't have to break out in hives to learn the product contained what he's allergic to. Democrats saw to that over Republican objections.

Joe walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air is cleaner than it would be otherwise because liberal environmentalists fought for laws to curb industry pollution. It could be a lot cleaner but Joe's Republican party represents the industries, rather than Joe and his air. Thanks to Joe's vote his party controls the government now. Cleaner air costs the industry money, so higher standards are watered down and postponed.

Joe walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. He saves parking and transportation fees because liberals fought for affordable public transportation. Joe has a good job with decent pay, medical and retirement benefits, paid holidays, and a vacation because Democrat unionists fought and even died to get these basic working standards. Joe's employer meets these standards because, and only because, the union sees to it.

Joe has been working here 12 years. He doesn't know it yet but he will lose his job the week before Christmas. His boss is moving Joe's plant to Mexico. Joe's Republican party gave the employer a tax incentive to shut down and move out of the country. Conservatives tell Joe that moving American jobs offshore is good for our economy, so even after he loses his job Joe will go right on voting Republican.

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get worker compensation or unemployment benefits because liberals didn't think he should starve and lose his home because of temporary misfortune. If there are no jobs for Joe because employers moved off-shore to get the tax incentives, he will lose his home because unemployment compensation abandons him after a few months. Democrats tried to extend benefits when the economy crashed after 9/11 but the Republican majority voted no.

When noon comes, Joe leaves to make a bank deposit. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because Democrats fought Republicans to protect Joe's money from bankers who wiped out the savings of earlier generations. Joe will use this deposit to pay his FHA federally underwritten mortgage and his low rate, federally insured student loan. Liberals provided these programs under the theory that the nation is stronger if more Joes are college educated and own their own home.

After work Joe visits his father out in the country. He gets there by car. His car is among the safest, cleanest-operating in the world because liberals fought conservatives to get car safety and environmental standards through Congress. His father is the third generation to live in the house financed by the Farmers' Home Administration, a program created by Democrats because bankers balked at making rural loans.

Dad's farm didn't have electricity until liberals provided rural electrification. He told Joe how that came about, but Joe is convinced that electricity, no less than the country's national treasures like oil and coal, belong in private hands. Joe thinks conservatives are probably right when they say water and sewer services should be spun off from government and privatized.

Joe enjoys visiting his retired father, who receives enough money to get by and not be a burden to the kids. His father lives on Social Security, a program liberals created. He also gets a union pension because it was part of the employment package back when he worked. Coming along later, Joe was never offered a retirement package. Decades of successful Republican union busting saved Joe's employer from having to offer a pension.

Pensions cost employers money and Joe doesn't feel that's fair. After all, who knows, someday he, himself, might be an employer.

In his car Joe turns on a talk radio show. The radio host tells him "liberals" are bad and "conservatives" are good. He's extolling the side that tried to block every protection and benefit he and Joe enjoy, and Joe goes along with that.

Joe tells everyone he knows, "We don't need tax-and-spend liberals ruining our lives! I take care of myself. If I can do it, you can. Everyone should look after himself, like I do."

Nov. 5, 2004 - The re-election of George Bush

Forlorn more years.

They affirmed they want a police state. What does that tell us about respect for the Constitution? They affirmed they want a theocracy. What does that tell us about respect for a pluralistic society? The great experiment in self-government showed as always that in a democracy, everyone gets the government the majority deserves.

Nov. 1, 2004

Republicans who quote Thomas Jefferson

It's always instructive to let conservative Republicans who quote Thomas Jefferson guide our voting.

Charlie Reese writes for the Orlando Sentinel. He's a Conservative Republican.

Vote For A Man, Not A Puppet
Orlando Sentinel
Charlie Reese

Americans should realize that if they vote for President Bush's re-election, they are really voting for the architects of war - Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal of neoconservative ideologues and their corporate backers. I have sadly come to the conclusion that President Bush is merely a front man, an empty suit, who is manipulated by the people in his administration. Bush has the most dangerously simplistic view of the world of any president in my memory.

It's no wonder the president avoids press conferences like the plague. Take away his cue cards and he can barely talk. Americans should be embarrassed that an Arab King (Abdullah of Jordan) spoke more fluently and articulately in English than our own President at their joint press conference recently.

John Kerry is at least an educated man, well-read, who knows how to think and who knows that the world is a great deal more complex than Bush's comic-book world of American heroes and foreign evildoers. It's unfortunate that in our poorly educated country, Kerry's very intelligence and refusal to adopt simplistic slogans might doom his presidential election efforts.

But Thomas Jefferson said it well, as he did so often, when he observed that people who expect to be ignorant and free expect what never was and never will be.

People who think of themselves as conservatives will really display their stupidity, as I did in the last election, by voting for Bush. Bush is as far from being a conservative as you can get. Well, he fooled me once, but he won't fool me twice.

It is not at all conservative to balloon government spending, to vastly increase the power of government, to show contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law, or to tell people that foreign outsourcing of American jobs is good for them, that giant fiscal and trade deficits don't matter, and that people should not know what their government is doing. Bush is the most prone-to-classify, the most secretive president in the 20th century. His administration leans dangerously toward the authoritarian.

It's no wonder that the Justice Department has convicted a few Arab-Americans of supporting terrorism. What would you do if you found yourself arrested and a federal prosecutor whispers in your ear that either you can plea-bargain this or the President will designate you an enemy combatant and you'll be held incommunicado for the duration ?

This election really is important, not only for domestic reasons, but because Bush's foreign policy has been a dangerous disaster. He's almost restarted the Cold War with Russia and the nuclear arms race. America is not only hated in the Middle East, but it has few friends anywhere in the world thanks to the arrogance and ineptness of the Bush administration.

Don't forget, a scientific poll of Europeans found us, Israel, North Korea and Iran as the greatest threats to world peace.

I will swallow a lot of petty policy differences with Kerry to get a man in the White House with brains enough not to blow up the world and us with it.

Go to Kerry's Web site ( and read some of the magazine profiles on him. You'll find that there is a great deal more to Kerry than the GOP attack dogs would have you believe.

Besides, it would be fun to have a president who plays hockey, windsurfs, rides motorcycles, plays the guitar, writes poetry and speaks French. And . . it would be good to have a man in the White House who has killed people face to face. Killing people has a sobering effect on a man and dispels all illusions about war.

Oct. 29, 2004

9-11 The luck of the Jews

Daddy Warbucks said it when Orphan Annie came into his household: "Isn't it strange when fate takes a hand."

Historians of the future will tell our descendants that the Presidential election of 2000 was stolen for the Republican candidate by his brother. Jeb Bush, as governor of Florida, had the rolls improperly purged of tens of thousands of legitimate voters in Democratic precincts. That turned out to assure victory for brother George.

Of all the ways this changed the course of history one has been ignored, and to one group of people it's the most important.

Ponder what would have happened if Al Gore had won, Joe Lieberman became vice president, and a year later the World Trade Center was destroyed by Arab muslims.

No matter how wrong, the conclusion would have been immediate, universal, and inescapable that 9/11 happened because the US elected a Jewish vice president.

There would have been no way to shake that belief. How could there be? The circumstantial evidence was elementary and convincing. That conclusion would have seemed obvious. No facts could have been found to refute it. Osama Bin Laden himself, a cagey strategist, might have claimed it was true.

The ramifications would have been huge. For starters, there would have been a widely held conclusion - held world-wide - that 9/11 would not have happened had a Jew not been elected. The Jews would have suffered a massive blow to electability everywhere.

Jeb Bush was the reason that didn't happen.

Further, every single thing the US did in response to 9/11 would have its motivation questioned at home and abroad. "Is this a US response, or the result of zionist pressure?"

Certainly US military retaliation against the Taliban for shielding Bin Laden would have been available to Gore. From there the Bush and Gore paths diverge.

Bush family ties to the Saudi royal family combined with Republican party obligations to big oil, when combined with the neo-conservative drive to alter world order, made the attack of convenience on Iraq imperative.

But if Gore had wanted to take down Saddam, could he? The Democrats also have obligations to big oil, and neo-conservative arguments would have been aggressively trying to shape public opinion.

But under Gore-Lieberman, attacking Iraq in the face of overwhelming international opposition would invite the claim the US was waging a war, and Americans were dying, as a result of zionist pressure to rid Israel of a threatening neighbor. That would not have sat well anywhere with anyone, and would have ruled perceptions for generations.

The fact that Saddam was not part of Al-Quada or involved in 9/11 would have played a much larger part in public discourse under Gore-Lieberman. Wild claims from the vice-president, so influential from Chaney, would have been counter-productive coming from Lieberman.

It's not likely Gore would have had much support to launch a war on Iraq, not in Congress, not in public opinion. Not that he would have wanted to launch the war.

So because Jeb Bush finagled Florida's 21 Electoral votes for brother George, the Jewish people, those victims of harrowing threats century after century, escaped their first harrowing threat of the newest millennium.

Coincidence, cause and effect, fate, randomness, deviltry, divine intervention ... if you need a reason, choose whichever you like.

Oct. 14, 2004 Quote of the Day

Who said this:

"Let us not dominate others with our power - or betray them with our indifference. And let us have an American foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness. This is the strong heart of America. And this will be the spirit of my administration."

It was said in 2000 by the man who did precisely the opposite, the man who will say anything to get elected: George W. Bush.

The uniter who deliberately divided us. The self-proclaimed "compassionate conservative" who turned the United States into a police state. How anyone can vote for this liar is beyond me, but a majority will do so next month.

People who depend on having a job and vote Republican are like chickens who vote for Col. Sanders. They get what they deserve, the party beholden to the wealthy, but it's only small comfort to hear them whine when they get laid off.

Simpletons who don't recognize what's in their own interest harm more than just themselves.

Oct. 3, 2004

Our minds are fascinating

Alexander Pope said "The proper study of Mankind is Man." It's certainly the most convenient. You don't have to look far to find one. To many it's the most fascinating study. How can we be so stupid and so smart at the same time?

Cats can't learn the common tricks dogs can. Does that make them dumber than dogs? Or is it a reminder that intelligence takes many forms. One of our curious abilities is an astounding capacity to accept ideas that contradict each other and never realize it.

Last year I read an internet chat group conversation where three women were gossiping about someone none of them knew. It lasted several days. A week later another member of the group, writing on an unrelated topic, said that one thing that disgusted her was idle gossip. Almost immediately came the reply "I'm with you 100%!" It was from one of the idle gossipers, and she was serious.

Over 40, college educated, a published author of detective stories, intelligent enough yet she didn't have a clue to her own behavior.

Many decades ago I overheard a phone call that obviously I can't forget. The caller was objecting to seeing an acquaintance eat a candy bar. She then carried on about her acquaintance's acne condition. Her sentences were filled with "ought" and "should." This person was known for that, constantly making judgments of others. The topic moved on to other things and suddenly she said something that leaped out: "Well, live and let live, I always say."

Indeed she always did say it. She believed it described her, and she practiced it never.

The mind's ability to embrace contradictory dogma is astounding. I was asked to edit a book titled "What I Believe." The author spent a decade gathering what he thought were brilliant things he agreed with and lived by. It reeked of astounding inconsistency.

People love to quote Emerson's line about consistency and "little minds" but almost invariably misunderstand him. Emerson's comment related to an adjective, not a noun. "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Emerson would be the first to say that behind a total lack of consistency stands an unexamined life.

On adjacent pages of "What I Believe" were these thoughts. First the advice from an important psychologist that you should strive to live your life being happy with who you are and what you are. His point being you cannot appreciate and love others fully until you appreciate and love yourself.

On the next page was a set of ten steps to take to become a "good person" you could respect. This came from the Old Testament and like everything in that book, was a "must and should" lesson designed to create guilt for being normal.

It would be hard to find two less compatible approaches to life, yet this author would have us believe he embraced both. What he had was an unexamined life and a schizophrenic one. That seems to be the norm for western man since the 18th century Age of Enlightenment.

What is more common than for us to raise hell because someone else did what we do. The conversation interrupter is the loudest to object when someone interrupts him. The egoist objects the most to someone else wanting their way. The inconsiderate driver sees only the inconsiderations of other drivers, never his own. The dominator denounces others as control freaks.

How curious that mankind should have the ability to analyze and understand others, yet at the same time know so little of himself. I see it in me; we see it in nearly everyone.

We see it in professionals. Child psychologists we trust to readjust our children often do poorly parenting their own. Marriage counsellors can be veterans of one or more divorces. Lawyers are the first to admit that a lawyer who represents himself in a legal matter has a fool for a client.

Perhaps we should all be given a year's vacation from life for self-analysis. I suggest the 50th year. By then we have established patterns to look at but still plenty of time left to break them.

Fred had it right. 50 is a good age. According to this 1967 newspaper clipping from Miami, when pharmacist Frederick Kleinschmidt passed his 102nd birthday he said, "I'd like to be a little younger. Fifty is a good age. A man is settled down by then."

Sept. 29, 2004

Is it possible we have anarchists working for the Social Security Administration? I ask because nothing else explains what follows as compellingly as the chance some bureaucrats are randomly screwing up just for fun.

In August I opened a new bank account, then phoned SSA via the toll free number to have direct deposit moved from the old account to the new. It was a welcome surprise to talk with an informed, friendly government clerk who understood immediately, took down the information and got it right, and assured me this would be taken care of.

I was emboldened to ask, "Would this happen in time for the September check, or will it not kick in until October?"

"When do you get your deposit?"

"In the third week. It arrives between the 17th and the 21st."

"I will take care of this today, and it will apply to the September check."

Wow. A bureaucracy dreams are make of. A world upside down. It was like Lucy said, "Come kick the football, Charlie Brown" and when Charlie ran up, the ball was there and he kicked it a mile.

Forgive my surprise when on Sept. 10 - a week early for the first time ever - a social security direct deposit was made to my bank account. Not the new one, the old one.

A week later I was chatting about this with another surprisingly informed, friendly clerk, this one in the local SS office. She offered to check the records. She found they were unchanged. The first clerk had never accessed them. There was nothing there about the new bank account. And there was no indication why the payment was sent in the week two cycle rather than the usual week three.

While I watched she made the changes the first clerk failed to make. (Any bets?)

Was the first clerk an anarchist screwing up for the fun of it? Consider this.

When a letter arrived years ago saying a portion of the SS payment was to be deducted for Medicare, the letter clearly said the amount was to be added to the monthly payment. Added, not deducted. Dead wrong.

This was a form letter from a regional office in far off Rhode Island. My letter asking them how this could happen went unanswered.

I prefer thinking we're dealing with anarchist sociopaths rather than dumb as dirt fuck-ups. The result is the same but I respect anarchists.


Sept. 29, 2004, page II

Do you still go to movies in theaters? We don't, my wife and I, but for different reasons. She's averse to paying to see now what we can see on TV for free in six months. I have an additional reason. Predictability is boring.

The stars are not going to die until the end, if then. We know this because the exceptions are as rare as a Miami snowfall. When it happens, such as Janet Leigh dying 20 minutes into Psycho, it's not mere surprise; its unhinging.

It's not just a matter of economics. It's economics and ego. Producers need the stars to attract ticket sales. Stars want their films to showcase them. No one gushes about your performance as a corpse. Stars don't take roles where they die early. It's bad for the image.

So when the two male and one female star lying on the beach are set on by men in choppers shooting machine guns at them when the film still has an hour to run, the scene bores the hell out of you because you know that 1,000 bullets are about to miss.

The director will not find some ingenious way to make it believable. We don't have that level of director anymore. Today's hacks just ignore it. These people should be dead; they weren't even touched; get over it.

At the end one star shooting a short barrel 6-shot 32-calibre police special, accurate to 12 feet, will fire 50 rounds without reloading and will destroy a patrol of men in body armor firing machine guns. Heavily armed hordes drop like flies to a police special in the hands of a star protected by this (tap tap) invisible shield.

For eight bucks a ticket? We'd rather doze at home.

Sept. 22, 2004

I've become convinced Kerry will lose the popular vote, that Bush will easily exceed 50%. Three reasons for this.

One, Kerry has just appointed to high positions on his campaign staff the man sharing the responsibility for the Dukakis fiasco and the man carrying the responsibility for the Gore loss. That's his last shot at campaign management and it's the wrong turn. New blood from a tainted supply is not the road to health.

Two, surveys recently taken show well over 50% of Americans don't trust the news media. ie. they are shooting the messenger because they don't like the message. They are being told truths they don't want to hear. They will believe reassurances and reject nay-sayers. You can't win the game when the ace, king, and queen of truth are trumped.

Three is the focus of the Kerry campaign itself. It is offering up serious, analytical, speeches and press releases to an electorate with no attention span. That's preaching to the choir. His one attempt to broaden his appeal with a simple, effective message was to attract veterans, and the GOP successfully blunted that. Now there's nothing but oratory over the heads of the voters.

I directed and managed political campaigns for decades. Nothing has changed. If you haven't got a simple message to accompany the issue speeches, you cannot win an election.

It didn't have to be this way. A good, focused campaign staff could have won. But for losing, I'd much rather have lost with Dean. He never stood a chance but he had a more important message for America.

Sept. 19, 2004

I do not have a license to fish. I never had; I never will. To buy a license to fish means granting government the right to say I can't. I will not concede government that right.

They have the right to fine me for breaking their laws. They have the right to rule certain waters off-limits to fishing, or certain seasons. They have the right to set minimum sizes to keep. I have no quarrel with the needs of management.

Fishing is my right, not something needing government permission. Do you know what that makes me? Un-American by today's standards, just like the people who founded this country.

When I first learned the "Big Bang" theory my response was Bah, creationism in a lab coat. As the evidence of movement piled up, it appeared no one was finding the real reason. No one saw ripples in a pond. No one saw attraction or centrifugal force rather than repulsion. No one saw a time slice of ebb and flow. No one saw. We have such a long way to go before the truth of relativity replaces the faith in absolutism.

Sept. 17, 2004

Damn. A letter from my bank that begins, "Dear Valued Customer."

Those words can mean only one thing: bad news. They took something away from me.

The business that writes to "Dear Valued Customer" is not asking to do something. They already did it without asking. Now they're telling you about it.

This is a bank I chose to do business with decades ago when it was not a bank but a Savings & Loan. I know the difference and wanted an S&L, not a commercial bank.

S&Ls are human-size institutions that care about communities and their customers. Banks are greedy impersonal vacuums that suck up money while dreaming of growth, and compete with their customers for opportunities.

There is a monument in my town honoring an S&L loan officer, the wonderful Stuart Rothwell who was everyone's friend. One of my cherished possessions is Stuart's old desk which will eventually be given to the local historical society. (They turned it down as too large - sold at auction.)

There is no monument to a banker unless someone is bribed to erect one.

My S&L, the last in town, got greedy and became a bank a few years ago, uncaring that if its customers had wanted a bank there were plenty here. My town, Charlottesville, VA, has 33 banks - 150 branches - which may be a banks-per-capita record. We need banks like we need sinkholes. Greed begets greed and today's letter says the little bank was sucked up into a far off Bankshares Corporation holding company and will get a new name, Union Bank. AARGH!

Union Bank in Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy? Sounds like carpet baggers.

The Board of Directors that used to make decisions is to become merely an advisory board. Instead of my community being the focus of top echelon concern, my community will compete with other communities for this. Instead of home town loyalty, we can only be sure of a PR budget for ads in high school yearbooks and football programs.

Of course this thrills and delights me.

I am to get "a broader array of financial services." Why? I can already get the broadest array possible at Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and any other megabank in town, broader than anything this Bankshares Corporation could dream of.

Isn't it crystal clear obvious that if little bank customers wanted a broad array of services they'd be banking at big banks? We're with a small bank because we like small banks.

It costs money to be sucked into a bank holding company with expanded services. Customers pay those costs. Not far down the road this bank will increase its charges for the services I use, and alter them for profit. [It did.]

Company culture is revealed in many ways. One of them is sending a letter to "Dear Valued Customer." Banks have had easy and reliable mail merge computer programs for at least 25 years. If anyone there cared, this letter could have been personalized to each customer, just as the envelope was.

If they cared enough to do that, I might have read their claim of "commitment to personal banking" in a different light, rather than the public relations prattle it is.

Today I opened an account at a credit union. In a month or two I'll close the account at the bank. I've been with them for 30 years and no one will know I'm gone.

Sept. 12, 2004

I always thought personal bomb shelters to survive a nuclear war were a bad idea. Nuclear war meant war between the US and the Soviet Union, total war, and why survive?

Today it doesn't mean total war. Today it means surviving one isolated terrorist "nuclear device," as news stories like this suggest:

AP - SEOUL, South Korea - A large explosion occurred in the northern part of North Korea, sending a huge column of smoke into the air on an important anniversary of the communist regime, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Sunday.

"We understand that a mushroom-shaped cloud about 2.2 miles to 2.5 miles in diameter was monitored during the explosion," the source in Seoul told Yonhap. Yonhap described the source as "reliable."

So maybe North Korea has the bomb, to go with its desperate need for foreign currency. Muslim Pakistan has had it for years. It's only a question of time before one falls into the wrong hands, or the hands that have one turn wrong.

Perhaps we'll see a re-emergence of Civil Defense designed to provide round-the-clock protection of individual families. An underground concrete room we can be alerted to flee to is useless against an unannounced terrorist blast. Survivalists now need to build entire homes underground with self-contained life support systems, and never leave them.

We could have sub-divisions of underground homes connected by underground passages to underground shopping malls. No one need emerge and expose. It would have the benefit of being motor vehicle-free, and 100% effective against sun-caused skin cancer.

Entertainment by cable TV is already available, so we wouldn't have to have auditoriums or theaters. The Internet is in place for our personal communication and work-at-home needs.

We have existing models for this, not on an individual scale but on a communal one. The US Congress built a sheltered complex for itself underneath the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, and the administration and the military have underground bases in several places, kept constantly in readiness. Are you on the guest list to be protected?

The federal government could move underground anytime Homeland Security flashes the signal. It's only the public that's at risk, including thousands of corporate executives who are paid multi-million dollar annual wages.

The wealthy are already protecting their families inside gated communities. In the age of nuclear terrorism that's no longer enough. Today we need planned unit developments that are entirely underground. To a retired real estate broker like me that looks like a business opportunity.

Sept 6, 2004

There's an interesting and surprising parallel to Muslim clerics preaching hatred of the US and Israel, and teaching their children from an early age who their enemy is. It's something we Americans are familiar with because we did that same thing, and on a far larger scale.

We didn't call it a Jihad, of course, or even a holy war.

We called it the Cold War.

From the end of WW II to the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s it was the official policy of the United States government to teach its citizens to hate the USSR and everything it stood for.

And we did. Americans had a sweeping national hatred of their form of government, their economic system, their leaders, and their people.

Not a politician would let us forget. No newspaper, TV station, or radio voice would veer from the national party line to hate the Russians. To be heard advocating a contrary line ("Love thy Russian as thyself") would invite at the very least an FBI investigation and possible black listing from your industry, even a congressional investigation.

The US kept up round-the-clock pressure on the SU for half a century, forced them to over-spend on sophisticated weaponry and defense, surrounded them with US and NATO missile sites, and harbored at home a rabid right wing eager to annihilate "communists."

We had two arms of the military devoted to the USSR. There was a mutual deterrence strike back capability in event we were attacked, and a first strike capability our leaders insisted on having and didn't discuss.

The upshot of all that was that we won. All that pressure for all that time finally over-stressed their Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and it self-destructed.

One wonders what half a century of Muslim jihad against the US could do. 50 years of round-the-clock homeland security against terrorists costing billions every year, and costing billions more through the massive inefficiencies security engenders.

Here as in the USSR it's all about money. They started out with an affordable arms budget but eventually the arms race broke them. They could not afford both nation building and security against our unrelenting threat. Have we begun that course?

We think we can afford all the homeland security, and all the breathtakingly costly arms, and all the even more costly weapons development required to maintain our place atop the world power structure. Can we?

Can we do that and still spend the billions needed to upgrade our national highway infrastructure, already far behind the need in every populous state?

Can we do that and create the national railway structure essential to supplement the highways when we add the next 30 million people? We'll add that many in less than ten years.

US population increases at the rate of one person every ten seconds, according to the census bureau. That's 3.1 million per year.

So 50 years after 9/11, just from population growth we will need a homeland security budget to protect 435 million Americans, not the 294 million we have today. That's nearly 50% more population to protect, transport, feed, house, clothe, dispose of the trash from, and need to employ at a living wage.

The actual estimate is 470 million, 60% more than in 2004, as advances in health maintenance and geriatric medicine mean fewer deaths from accident and disease, and longer life-spans.

And what of our already reeling education system? We often hear that one state, California, needs to open 365 schools a year to keep up with growth. (They don't, so they are falling further behind.) To put that in perspective, a few years ago it was noted that California was adding as many children every five years as live in the state of Maryland.

Wherever population is increasing more schools are needed. If just 75% of that 3.1 million annual new population represent births and immigrant children, that's a national need for at least 1,860 additional schools nationwide every year at a cost of more than $18 billion ever-rising. Year after year after year. Plus the staff to run them.

Can we afford to do what the Soviets could not, pay the cost of defending against an unrelenting holy war decade after decade and still afford the needs of our nation? Or will we, too, eventually collapse under the hatred of our enemy?

Considering that we didn't meet our needs for highways, railroads, and schools before 9/11 when we had a huge budget surplus, what chance is there of meeting it now with record budget deficits, expensive overseas military ventures, and voters greedy for tax cuts?


According to the CIA FactBook, in 1996 one of every four people in the world followed Islam. In 2004 it's nearly one in three. Very soon it will be one in two, then more. An amazing number of them have zero tolerance for other religions or branches of Islam other than their own. That number is increasing.

There is no one to see about this.

A Little Defense Against Trump & Pence
Nov. 23, 2016

Tension and stress, tension and stress,
If there are things to put humans under duress,
It's tension and stress.

Worry and fear, worry and fear,
If theres a partnership designed to drain us of cheer,
It's worry and fear.

Conscience and guilt, conscience and guilt,
Trained weaknesses on which religions are built,
Are conscience and guilt.

Ego and greed, ego and greed,
Things that give mankind drive to succeed,
Are ego and greed.

Power and charm, power and charm,
Tools a despot needs to get us to disarm,
Are power and charm.

Money and clout, money and clout,
Things that separate people in from those out,
Are money and clout.

Color and race, color and race,
Are they ever going to peacefully share the same space?
Color and race.

Liquor and drugs, liquor and drugs,
They turn the ordinary person into a thug,
Liquor and drugs.

Daring and pluck, daring and pluck,
If we have to have Donald can't it be Duck?

To return to the FreeHOF Home Page click here
The name Freeware Hall of Fame is Service Marked by Rey Barry (rey at cstone dot net)
All rights reserved