The Super Bowl

January 31, 2012

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Super Bowl Media Day

An action packed week of sports as we are in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. The Giants and the Patriots are in Indianapolis where the main story still seems to be the future of Peyton Manning. Sadly this has overshadowed the Super Bowl in terms of media coverage. However, we are all in luck, today is Super Bowl Media day. Media day is the biggest train wreck of any media coverage in any sport at any venue. This might be pure marketing genius by the NFL as it is the closest thing to reality TV morphing with sports.

This year the NFL has handed out a little over 2000 press credentials as well as sold tickets to fans that want to come and watch the three ring circus.

In addition to what I would consider “legitimate” media from the networks, the sports channels, magazines etc., there will be folks there from late night talk shows, the entertainment industry, guys in dresses and people in costumes. You may even see a sasquatch or Batman.

I would say it is safe to surmise that the sportswriters and reporters resent the fact that this thing has turned more into an “event” than a true media setting.

Would love to see what the green jackets at Augusta would do if this happened at the Masters….

Super Bowl Wagering

No one expected the Giants to be here. Certainly not the Las Vegas sports books.

The Giants were as high as 250 to 1 on odds to win the Super Bowl this year after their four game slide. Even as they entered the playoffs they were still as high as 80 to 1 to win it all. There are a lot of casinos standing to lose a lot of money if the Giants win this game.

The other side of betting that is always interesting is the variety of proposition bets that take place for the Super Bowl. These are not wagers available on just any football game. You can bet on items such as who wins the coin toss, the first player to score, which team will score first, the number of catches, passing yards, penalties…..just about anything you can imagine.

There are also a bunch of wagers you would never imagine! The Color of Madonna’s hair at the halftime show, the length of the National Anthem sang by Kelly Clarkson, – even what color Gatorade the winning coach will be doused with. Vegas has way more action on these bets than they do on people just wagering on the game. The fun part is that ANYONE watching the game can place these bets and play along, there is really not much skill in most of these wagers and the luck factor is pretty high.

Ok, the Actual game itself

This game does not seem to be as hyped as in prior years. Maybe because the front running Packers were ousted early in the playoffs after going 15-1 during the regular season.
The New York Giants are arguably the hottest team right now, beating opponents who had a better regular season record in each of their three previous playoff games. The Patriots have quite possibly the worst statistical defense of a team to ever make the Super Bowl. They do however have 3 time winner in QB Tom Brady. The Giants have the hottest trio of young receivers in the league, a vaunted pass rush, and a solid running game, but a much worse record and are a big underdog.

The Patriots three losses this year came at the hands of teams with Top Tier Quarterbacks. They lost to the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, they lost earlier in the year to the Giants and Eli Manning, and they lost to the Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick when he was on an early season heater (ok, ok…two of the Quarterbacks are elite) Not sure I like the Giants to win, but I do like them to keep it close.

Now pass the little smokies and chips and salsa. I am looking forward to a great game this weekend.

Until Next Time, Stay Classy Indianapolis!


Spare Time Fun

January 30, 2012

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Now that I am officially tired of the political ads, reports, coverage and analysis, I have to find something to do with my spare time.  If you have read some of my previous posts, some of what I am going to right is not necessarily new.  Actually, none of it is new, but it may be presented in a new light.

The NFL Pro Bowl

My annual rant on the NFL Pro Bowl.  It is supposed to be a show case of the best players in the NFL.  Since the league has move the Pro Bowl to the week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, we do not actually get that show case.  The selected players from the two Super Bowl teams opt out of the Pro Bowl for obvious reasons (practicing for the Super Bowl, avoiding possible injury, losing focus, etc).  Although I am not a New England Patriots or New York Giants fan, I would like to see all of the best players, not just the ones who have nothing else to do.  I will give credit to the league for moving the game back to Hawaii.  This is supposed to be a reward for greatness.  Having the game in the Super Bowl city in the week leading up to the Super Bowl is almost rubbing in the fact that these players are not playing in the really big game.

Productive Activities

As I have written before, I have taken up crochet again.  It has been a productive year already.  I have finished two single bed blankets, one for each of my college age children, and a shawl (see photo) that I will be donating to a local elderly care center (this is part of a church group activity where I am younger than all of the other members by at least 20 years).  I am currently working on another blanket, this one for my niece.  I have found that this hobby is cheaper than most of my other entertainment options such as going to movies and it results in something others can use.

Motion Pictures

Since I mentioned movies as entertainment, I have to comment that “The Iron Lady” is a great movie.  It is not the typical Hollywood production, so some people do not like it.  The story is compelling even if you did not live through the events as I have.  The acting is also very good.  I plan on going to see both “Red Tails” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”.


You would think that with my refocus on more productive use of my time, that I would be more productive in my writing attempts.  Sadly that is not the case.  My writing has languished since before Christmas, except the short story that I published last week.  I certainly hope that the rest of you are progressing in your writing.


Pop Art Catholicism: Andy Warhol’s Religion

January 27, 2012

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say what?

When one thinks of religious artists, Andy Warhol is usually not the first name to come to mind. Best known for his Factory-created silkscreens of Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe and Liza Minnelli and iconic American commodities like Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Soup, Warhol’s work seems about as far from devotional as one could imagine. Many people, even art historians (myself included) are surprised when they discover that Andy Warhol was a devout, lifelong practicing Catholic.

pierogis and potatoes

The shy, awkward,  and sickly son of working class Czech immigrants Andrej and Julia Warhola, Andy Warhol (he self-consciously dropped the “a” at a young age) spent much of his childhood at home with his mother while Andrej struggled to find work during the Depression. Like many immigrant families, the Warholas tried to preserve many familiar things from their life in Czechoslovakia: potatoes, pierogis, and their Eastern Byzantine Rite Catholic beliefs.

In Pittsburgh, the Warhol boys (Paul, John, and Andy) attended Ruthenian Catholic mass at St. John Chrysostom Church, a congregation comprised largely of Eastern European immigrants like themselves. Julia Warhola, a folk artist who would go on to help her son with many of his artworks, would often draw religious pictures for her children, and the family house featured religious icons in every room.  Young Andy even made a seventeen-inch plaster of Paris religious shrine that he kept in his bedroom.

bright lights, big city

When Andy left his Carpatho-Rusyn neighborhood in Pittsburgh for New York City in 1949, one might assume that he would leave his Byzantine religious beliefs there as well.  After graduating from the School of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), Warhol was eager to enter the New York art scene, and his brother John stated that he was shy about revealing his religious beliefs in New York.

However, shyness or no shyness, Warhol attended mass in New York every week for the rest of his life. When his mother followed him to New York in 1951, they would attend services together until her death in 1972.

In his published diaries (dictated to Pat Hackett during the 1970s and ‘80s), Warhol’s devotion to Catholicism is constantly in evidence. Nearly every Sunday entry begins with, “Got up and went to church.”  In other entries, Warhol talks about getting a crucifix to hang in the Factory, going to church on Palm Sunday to gather the palms, and collecting holy water in a peanut jar to cleanse his apartment.   Warhol’s faith was combined with a deep sense of Catholic social obligation, and he often volunteered at soup kitchens.

finding God in Marilyn

Religion does make an appearance in Warhol’s artwork, both overtly and covertly. Especially in his later years, Warhol appropriates the great religious masterpieces of the Renaissance like Raphael’s Sistine Madonna (ca. 1513-14) and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (1495-98).

Andy Warhol, Raphael Madonna-$6.99, 1985.

Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, 1986.

The works that Warhol appropriates – Raphael’s and Leonardo’s- are celebrities of the art world in the same way that Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup were celebrities of their various spheres (Hollywood and the American supermarket shelf, respectively). Warhol utilized images that were immediately recognizable and had been so massively reproduced that their original devotional meanings had been all but lost. Works such as these (and there are a whole slew of The Last Supper-inspired works by Warhol, including some involving a black light) involving famous religious scenes, make the viewer question whether Warhol is tipping his hat to his religious beliefs, mocking now-meaningless icons with further commoditization, or (and this is my belief), a complex, very Warholian combination of the two.

Overtly religious subject matter isn’t the only way in which Warhol’s religion intertwines itself with his artwork. Consider his famous Marilyn Diptych from 1962

And compare its form to

Byzantine Madonna and Christ Diptych

The diptych is an ancient form of two flat sides connected in the center, best known for its religious uses.  In Byzantine Catholicism (the Ruthenian church attended by Warhol falls under the umbrella of the Eastern Catholic Church), religious icons like the Madonna and Christ are often depicted in diptych forms, which folded for travel and allowed people to carry devotional objects with ease. Many Warhol pieces involve different panels; the Marilyn Diptych is perhaps the most famous and best example of Warhol’s appropriation of a well-known religious form.

The world-famous artist, painter of celebrities, and society oddball still clung to the comforts instilled in him in working class Pittsburgh. Warhol’s religious beliefs, although kept fiercely private by the artist himself, were a major part of his life and his art.

Republican Race Gets Tight

January 26, 2012

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The times, they are a changin’ 

Boy, what a difference a month makes. Going into Iowa we were not quite certain how things were going to go. Would Ron “I know I am not going to get the nomination” Paul’s organization and ground game carry him to a victory? Would Mitt “I am the .006%!” Romney be able to surprise with a win in conservative Iowa? Would Newt “Searching for my fourth wife” Gingrich be able to matter again? Or would the late surge by Rick “I want to ban all forms of contraceptive” Santorum’s late surge help im succeed in Iowa. I would include talk about the others still in the race at the time, but Bachmann, Perry and Huntsman were not going to matter going in anyways and they are all out a month later, so who cares.

Anyways, At the end of a long night it was determined that good ole Mittens got the “victory” by a mere eight votes. If only the 50 or so people that voted for Herman Cain no longer in the race had chosen Santorum instead, Romney would have taken the loss. Oh well. The race then rolled into New Hampshire with a yawn and Romney took an easy victory in a pretty much give in for him audience wise. So after two contests Romney took was eyeying the knockout punch in South Carolina.

We headed into the south and suddenly just as it seemed Santorum was fading away in support despite being the new chosen one of the religious right he got a “boost” by Iowa declaring that it was he and not Romn-bot that had won there. Nevermind that the delegates are not really locked into voting that way right now anyways and that there were some missing votes, but hey they are Republicans when have they cared if an election result looked fishy? Romney was on the defense now. Once up 2-0 in the contests so far he was suddenly 1-1 and a big chance he would drop another in the Palmetto State. With Newt pushing all the right buttons of the conservative southerner he came out and handed Mittens a resounding defeat that he was not expecting. So after the first three contests we went from a non incumbent candidate winning the first two races for the first time in history, to a different candidate winning all three first contests for the first time in history.

Florida on the horizon

As the race heads into Florida it has come to a four man race, but by the debate Monday night it is clearly really only a two person race at this point. Santorum is going to be getting the votes he is right now, but will stick around I am sure just in case Newt does his usual and messes up somewhere along the line so he can take the nomination since it is clear that the electorate does not want Romney and now that the field is thinning numbers wise it can become crystal clear. Paul will be there as well and likely picks up some more delegates in those caucus states his movement and ground game can capitalize on, but just as it was going into Iowa it was clear as day he was not going to be nominated, heck he can’t even imagine what it would be like for him to be President. So you have Newt vs. Romney, The serial adulterer versus The unemployed guy who made $45 million over the last two years and paid around 14% in taxes.

I am looking forward to tonight’s debate in Florida.  While I enjoy debates on NBC that try to have the audience act respectful and professional, I really enjoying when it is on CNN and the moderators allow the candidates to interact with the Republican crowd – with the crowd egging them on and the candidates showing the American people the exact message they stand for. The list is getting long and I am sure it is just going to continue to grow. We will see how it goes going into Tuesday, but right now I put Newt as the favorite to take all of Florida’s reduced number of delegates in the first winner take all contest and send Romney’s candidacy into a tailspin.

The day after the last debate we had the State of the Union address. It was a good speech, had some specifics, while I am optomistic after the speech I’ll still wait and see if anything gets done by a Congress bent on not doing anything that could benifit his status. They did vote unanimously today on a border control issue proposed by departing Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, but I do not see anything like that happening on any issue going forth.

Speaking of Giffords departure, it was a quite touching moment, but all I could think was how she is leaving the house with admiration and good will, but the current front leader of the GOP race left there in disgrace. Dammit there I go agreeing with Mittens, oh well that won’t happen on many things, so I guess I am all good.



Bad Nut of the Month

I’ll leave you this month as the race for the person to lose to Obama in November marches on with a very current Bad Nut of the Month. On his trip to Arizona today President Obama was met by Gov. Jan Brewer who invited him to meet with her. He responded by saying that would be fine, but she could depict the meeting accurately this time around.

Brewer evidently took great offense to this as it can be seen that she started to argue and lecture the President, getting in his face and wagging her finger in front of it. While it is kind of trivial on its surface it does represent a greater issue of Brewer and the Republican base in general have no respect at all for this President as a person or the office he holds. And for that, Gov. Jan Brewer you are January 2012’s Bat Nut of the Month!

Why Doesn’t Mitt Romney Pay More in Income Taxes?

January 25, 2012

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English: Governor Mitt Romney of MA

Image via Wikipedia

Mitt Romney has released income tax information, any many people are shocked that he paid an effective rate of just 13.9% in 2010.  His opponent, Newt Gingrich, pays an effective rate of 30%!  Is Romney doing something illegal?

The reason for Romney’s rate

The reason why Romney pays a far lower rate than Gingrich isn’t due to some strange loophole that Romney pays his lawyers to exploit.  It’s simply due to the fact that capital gains are treated differently than ordinary income.  While tax rates on ordinary income (wages, interest, etc) range from 5% to 35%, capital gains are taxed at 15% (although taxpayers in the 5% and 10% brackets pay their ordinary rate on capital gains).

This means that if I have a $1000 capital gain and Mitt Romney has a $1000 capital gain, we will both pay taxes of $150 on that income.

Mitt’s income is nearly all derived from investments.  He doesn’t have a wage-earning job.  While he does make a few bucks from book royalties, it pales in comparison to his investment earnings.  Throw in some deductible charitable contributions, and Romney is able to chisel the 15% rate down to 13.9% without much work.

Why are capital gains taxed at a lower rate?

The basic idea behind a lower rate for capital gains is that this will encourage people to invest in capital assets (ownership of companies) instead of keeping their money in a mattress or a passbook savings account.  There’s more risk in doing this, of course, so one way to balance the risk/reward is to allow profits to be taxed at a lower rate.

Is the capital gains rate too low?

In my opinion, yes.  It seems absurd that a $500 capital gain and a $5 million capital gain would be taxed at the same rate, when $500 or ordinary income and $5 million of ordinary income would be taxed at different rates.

Do I think that capital gains should be taxed at the same rate as ordinary income?  No.  I do believe that there’s is value in encouraging investors to put their money into equities.  It clearly is a riskier proposition, and I’m OK with a lower capital gains rate being a reward for taking that risk.

My suggestion would be to make the capital gains rate 2/3 of the rate for ordinary income.  Under this plan, the capital gains rate would be 7% for those in the 10% tax bracket and would top out at 23.45% for those in the 35% tax bracket.  Mitt Romney would still pay a lower effective rate that Newt Gingrich or Alex Rodriguez, but would pay far more than he does today.

What’s an effective rate?

As a last bit of explanation, let’s look at the difference between a marginal rate and effective rate.  You might be in the 25% tax bracket.  This doesn’t mean that you pay a 25% tax rate on all your earnings.  Tax rates on ordinary income are marginal.  If you are single and make $50,000 (this would be in the 25% bracket), you would pay 10% on the first $8500 of taxable income , 15% for the amount between $8500 and $34500, and 25% on the amount that exceeds $33950.  That would be a total tax of $8625 on $50,000 of taxable income – or 17.25%.

The second point is that there is a big difference between your gross earnings and taxable income.  You’ll reduce gross income by the exemptions for yourself, spouse, and children, and well as a variety of deductions (mortgage interest, property taxes, charitable contributions, etc), and credits (earned income credit, child tax credit, etc).

effective rate is often calculated against gross income (AGI), his effective rate drops to $12.5%.

A married couple with two dependent children who have an AGI of $50,000 and take only the standard deduction and personal exemptions (no itemized deductions or credits) will pay $2690 in federal taxes … an effective rate of 5.4%.  This is achieved by excluding a total of $26400 via the $11,600 standard deduction for married filing jointly and $14,800 in personal exemptions (four exemptions @ $3700 each), dropping the couple’s taxable income down to $23,600.


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The Death of Joe Paterno

January 24, 2012

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Joe Paterno passed away on Sunday morning this past weekend. He leaves a legacy of coaching and giving to the University that he called his home and his career for over a half of a century. His philanthropic efforts at the school are without comparison for a man who was an employee of that same University. In many ways Paterno defined Penn State as much as Penn State defined him.

As usual when any public sports figure passes, there has been the chance to get a comment from any and all former players, fellow coaches, other members of the sporting world. I think in many cases these comments are very sincere, very thought out, and very supportive toward the family. After all, Paterno held the longest tenure of any coach in any sport. He has touched many folks in his time at the helm of the Nittany Lions. Unfortunately, many of these comments from sports figures, announcers and others seem to be more out of necessity than heartfelt. In our media age of 24 hour sports programming networks, Twitter and the like, you are often criticized as much for what you don’t say – – in times when it is felt you SHOULD say something.

It will be an interesting period at Penn State. A new coach, the Sandusky trial proceedings, and now dealing with the death of the biggest icon of this proud University.

A lot of talk is happening right now about what is the proper way to honor Joe Paterno. What is “appropriate” given the recent developments and his perceived role or lack thereof in them? Many are bitter with how the media has handled everything in Happy Valley as of late. Many criticize the former coach. Many support him. Many are still searching for how they truly feel.

The flip side of a celebrity passing is that people try and cash in. It is likely that various books written now about Paterno and the “scandal” . Online mega-giant Ebay shows a that 3500+ items are listed when searching JOE PATERNO in the search field. It never surprises me the amount of vultures that want to cash in upon the death of someone famous. Unfortunately people are always looking to make a quick buck. It is the times that we live in.

I am sure the University and the people associated with Penn State will make appropriate decisions in the upcoming days, weeks and months after his death in terms of how to best remember Joe Paterno. I am sure that some of his legacy will forever be tarnished given the scope and nature of the allegations that have happened during his watch. I am sure he will not be forgotten.

Until next time…Stay Classy Brooklyn, New York

Winter Morning

January 23, 2012

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The following is a work of fiction.  This story is not based on any events, it is purely the imagination of the author inspired by the weather conditions expected at his home at the time of writing.

William awoke at 3:59 in the morning.  He stared at the clock until it changed to 4:00 and the radio turned on.  He left the radio playing as he took a quick shower and went to the bathroom.  He listened as he brushed his teeth.  Every morning for the past five years had been the same.  He worked six day a week, but had the same routine on his one day off a week, either Wednesday or Thursday.  He heard all of the national, local and political news, but paid little heed.  The sports report was also just background noise.  He did not participate in any of those things.

William’s life was simple.  He worked hard to make enough money so that he could live independently.  His teachers had thought that he would never amount to much.  He put forth a good effort for every task they had given him, but it was all very hard for him.  He never took drugs or drank.  When he lived with his mother, he had gone to church all day every Sunday.  A really nice lady from the state, Alicia McMichaels, had gotten him the job.  He had to check in with her every month.  He always remembered to send her a Christmas card every year.

So in the morning, William did not care about who was running for what office or who had won the big game, no, all he was interested in was the weather.  He had to walk the ten blocks to the donut shop.  He had one very important job, open the front door and turn on all the lights.  He had to be there at exactly 5:00 each morning.  He didn’t have keys, he had to go in through the back where Donald was making the donuts.  Donald today and tomorrow, then Samuel the next day.  William liked Samuel, he was always nice to William.  Both Donald and Samuel were very large men, but other than size, they were not the same.  Samuel would greet William on his way to the front, but Donald would stare at him like he had a lizard’s tail or something like that.

The weather was all that concerned William.  He needed to know if he should wear a coat, or take an umbrella.  He had a uniform, so he did not have to think about anything else.  The weatherman said that it had gotten colder over night and the rain had changed to freezing rain.  He said that travel was not advised.  “I am glad I am not travelling anywhere”, William said aloud.  When the weatherman told his daily joke to the news reporter is when William usually turned off the radio, but today there was no joke.  Instead, both men started talking about how bad it was out and how many accidents had occurred on the roads overnight.  In fact, they were saying that even pedestrians should stay indoors.

William knew that he would be considered a pedestrian.  After all he walked to work every day.  He was worried.  He had never called in sick or missed a day he was schedule to work.  On several occasions he had gone in to work by accident on his day off.  He had even filled in for a nice young lady named Victoria until she was “let go”.  William liked Victoria, too.  She would always smile at him when they worked together, and she would kiss him on the cheek when he agreed to fill in for her on his day off.

William turned off the radio and walked over to the table with the telephone.  There was a laminated card with several phone numbers.  Next to one was the label “work” with a note “Call this number when you are sick or will miss work”.  It took him a while to make up his mind.  If it was a Samuel day, he would not have hesitated, but with Donald answering the phone, William was scared.  He thought about calling Alicia, but it was too early in the morning.  He thought about calling his mother, but Alicia had told him that he had to be independent.  Finally, he picked up the phone and called the number.

“A.M. Donuts” boomed Donald’s voice.  “Donald, this is William.”  “Who?”  “William, the clean up man.”  “Oh, yeah, what do you want?”  “The radio said that I should not go out.”  “What?  Are you saying you aren’t coming to work?”  “Yes, sir.  The radio said so.”  “Look Billy, it is your choice, but if you don’t show up, I will have to tell Mr. Jensen.”  Mr. Jensen was the owner of the shop.  William had never met him, but he had heard Donald say the Mr. Jensen had taken a big gamble giving William a job.  “If you are missing work just because the radio said something, I don’t think Mr. Jensen will like it.”  “Oh.”  “I’m just saying.  It’s your choice.”  “Please don’t call Mr. Jensen.  I’m coming in.  I will be on time.”

William hung up the phone, threw on his coat and shoes and headed out the door.  He slipped on the ice at the entrance to the apartment building, but did not fall.  He moved gingerly from tree to tree, then a mail box, then a lamp post.  He had forgotten his gloves.  His hands were getting very cold.  It was still raining, sort of.  There was snow in the air too.  He kept moving at a slow pace, following the same path he always followed.  He only had to cross 7th avenue once.  All of the other streets that he crossed were not travelled very much, but getting across them was hard with nothing to grab hold of.  When he finally got to 33rd street, he had to cross 7th avenue.  This was the main road.  Five lanes plus parked cars on both sides.  He held onto the lamp post as he waited for the pedestrian signal to change.

When the walk symbol came on, he started across.  It was like skating.  He found a couple of dry patches to regain his balance, but he was only half way across when the light started flashing.  His heart rate went up and he tried not to panic.  When he tried to move faster, his feet slipped and he almost went down.  He was concentrating so hard on just walking that he never saw the city bus sliding on the ice.  The bus was sliding sideways, the driver too scared to even honk the horn much less notice William in the crosswalk.  The sound of the impact was sickening.  William felt the side of the bus hit him.  He flailed his arms wildly as he slid on the ice then ran into a parked car.  That same car save him as it stopped the bus.

The bus driver may not have seen William, but the driver of the city plow saw the entire event.  It all happened in slow motion.  The bus sliding, the young man bouncing off then sliding like a puck until he hit the car.  He was on the radio calling for help before William rolled off of the car and onto the ground.  The city plow driver circled the area several time dropping sand and salt so that the emergency vehicles could get there.

William woke up in the hospital.  Alicia was holding his hand and smiling.  “Good morning.  What on earth were you doing out on the streets on a morning like this?  Didn’t you listen to the weather report?  They said stay home.”  “I did listen.  I was going to work.”  “Why?”  “I have never missed a day.  I did not want Mr. Jensen to be disappointed.”  Alicia laughed.  “Don’t you worry about Mr. Jensen.  He has always reported that you are a good worker.  Now you just rest here.  I will come and visit, and when you are ready to go home, I will come and get you.”  “Am I going to miss work?”  Alicia laughed again.  “Yes you are.  Think of this as a vacation.  You will have your job when you can get around again.”  “Thank you Miss McMichaels.”  “I have told you William, call me Alicia.”  She patted his hand again, then brushing his forehead with her hand she told him, “I am very proud of you William.  Now rest.”

How Can Politicians Earn My Vote?

January 20, 2012

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Today’s article comes to us from Elizabeth West of Graphomaniac.  Elizabeth is a writer who prefers not to get involved in politics but sometimes can’t help it. She is working on a police procedural series, along with a novel about ghost hunters.  Her blog covers writing, work and assorted ranty stuff.   Elizabeth also enjoys chocolate and wasting time on the intertubes. 

While you’re on her site, be sure to check out the first two chapters of her crime novel, Rose’s Hostage.  (What, no direct link?  Nah, dig around on the site until you find it – you might stumble across other interesting content in the process).  OK, time for me to leave the stage.  Elizabeth, take it away!

(Photo courtesy of Jill Barlow photography).


This may sound ranty, but you need to hear it. I’m sick of your crap. You lie, cheat, steal and break the law, and no one holds you accountable. Yet every few years, you stump like crazy for my vote. Why should I bother?

This year, I’m not voting for ANYONE. Yep, you heard me. If you want me to support you (and I’m pretty sure at this point you don’t care), you’re going to have to work a lot harder than you are right now.

Here are six things you can do to get my vote back:

#1-Stop robocalling me

I have to work all day to pay the bills that keep getting higher because you’re in bed with Big Business. If I have to listen to your automated earworm in the evening when I’m tired, we’re through forever.

I get it–robocalls mean you don’t have to pay staffers. But I can’t ask a machine questions about your platform. I can’t opt out, either. Political telemarketing is exempt from Do Not Call.

If you want my vote, don’t bother me with an unsolicited sales pitch.

#2-Shut up with the muckraking and get busy

Good leaders get things done. They know how to delegate so workers pull together for the common good. Your efforts to further your own interests are getting nothing done.

Don’t waste time dissing your opponent, or telling me what you’ll do once you’re elected, or re-elected. I’m from Missouri. Show me.

If you want my vote, shut up and get busy. You’re already in a position to reverse some of the damage you’ve already caused.

#3-Take a pay cut like the rest of us

From the peon’s point of view, there is nothing worse than management who makes workers do things they’re not willing to do themselves. If I have to take a pay cut because of the crappy economy, you should too.

If you want my vote, stop rewarding yourself for sitting on your ass. We’re tired of not seeing our families because we have to work two or three jobs. And I’m tired of driving on cheap bald tires in the snow.

#4-Get religion out of legislature

Whatever happened to separation of church and state? This country may have a Christian majority, but the basic laws that govern how we behave are universally moral, not denominational.

I’m tired of being told my friends who are gay can’t get married “because God says so.” You want to promote marriage and family? Let all adults who love each other marry, and take away tax penalties for people who do.

If you want my vote, stop using God to oppress people and knowledge. Stop trying to force intelligent design into schools. Leave Planned Parenthood alone. They do far more to help low-income women stay healthy than your stupid healthcare reform ever could.

#5-Break up with your corporate bedfellows

Our food supply is tainted. Companies are getting a slap on the wrist instead of someone in charge going to prison for theft, murder, environmental destruction and extortion. Regulatory agencies have no power to protect us anymore.

Give your agencies back the power to punish companies that do us wrong. Make them pay big to clean up their messes.

If you want my vote, quit bending over for Big Business. Your relationship is over. They don’t really care about you; you’re only being used.

#6-Quit cockblocking progress

The Digital Age is here, but we’re going backward because we can’t keep up. We don’t spend money on technological improvements that would make life both easier and better for all. And what the hell is this SOPA / PIPA crap? Do you really think you can censor our content, speech and livelihoods?

If you want my vote, make the Internet a public utility and regulate it. Get rid of backscatter machines at airports and use that money to keep us healthy and upgrade our infrastructure. Kill SOPA and PIPA dead right this minute. Look ahead, not into your wallet.

Dear Politicians, if you can’t do any of these things, you won’t get my vote. And you don’t deserve it.


Fed Up in America

Rockies Sign Jamie Moyer

January 19, 2012

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Jamie Moyer has signed a minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies.  The deal includes an invitation to Spring Training.  I’m assuming that the invitation includes an opportunity to try out for the team, and not just a meet-and-greet with Tulo and a tour of downtown Scottsdale.

I tracked down some people for their thoughts.  Without further ado, here’s the chatter about the signing.

We lost Moyer to an injury in 2011, and it cost us a shot at the World Series.  I figured we’d be able to re-sign Moyer for 2012, slot him into the top of the rotation, and let Halladay and Lee fight it out for the #2 spot.  I guess he got too expensive for us.

– Philly resident Evan Kline

When I heard that Moyer was going to be available, I had to go after him.  I can still remember when he broke in with the Cubs.  I didn’t actually SEE the game, since I was in my mother’s womb, but she could feel me kick every time he threw a pitch that day.

– Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd

Two words – AARP discount.  Yeah, I plan to hang out with Jamie a lot.  I’m sure he’s a cool guy and everything, but he can flash that card and get discounted food for everyone.  Hey, a penny saved is a penny earned.

– Rockies All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki

He can get us into R-rated movies, right?

– Rockies pitcher Drew Pomeranz

I’ve never heard of this guy. Does he have a temper? If he’s going to be bashing the water cooler with a bat every time he has a bad game, I need to know – because I’ll have to get Smitty to order some extra water coolers. We can’t be signing these guys without doing a better job of vetting them – too much risk of property damage.

– Rockies manager Jim Tracy

What does Jamie Moyer have in common with me? We’re both prehistoric.

– Dinger

All kidding aside, I do see that as a good signing by the Rockies. On the human side of things, Moyer is by all accounts a great guy, and has several humanitarian awards to back it up. The Rockies also have a ton of young pitcher, and Moyer could serve as a role model and mentor for them.

On the baseball side of things, there’s not much risk to the deal, since it’s a minor league deal. There’s a very real chance that he could nail down the #5 starter spot. If he can manage to stay in the rotation for a few years, he might even have a shot at getting win #300 as a Rockie. I don’t think that would get him into the Hall of Fame, but it’d still be pretty cool.

Rick Santorum Wins Iowa Caucuses

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Hey dedicated Soapboxer readers! Miss me? I know you’re checking the website to see what I have to say about all of the developments in the ever-changing GOP race. Right?

I know it’s not nice to brag, but I totally called it. I should have bought a Powerball ticket on caucus day. I wrote an article for Yahoo! News  on caucus morning with my predictions. Granted it’s taken a few weeks for people to realize I was right, but such is my life. I’m used to it. When I’m right, I’m not humble. Especially when people slammed me for weeks saying that Santorum “had no chance” or “should have dropped out a while ago”. I told a friend that he’d be “eating his words” and he replied “doubt it”. Fork or spoon, buddy. Fork or spoon.

[Editor’s note: this is breaking news this morning.  The official tally gives Santorum the win by 34 votes.]

If you read the article, I was not only correct on the winner of the caucus but I called it ALL THE WAY DOWN THE LINE. Yeah. I’m awesome. Take that Miss Cleo. I also predicted Newt’s ex-wife issues, Romney’s win in New Hampshire and Huntsman’s mistake. Let’s take a look at that fun gaffe!

Where Jon Huntsman Went Wrong (Or Don’t Diss Iowa, Stupid)

The headline sums it up pretty well. If you want to be President of the United States, that means President of ALL of the United States, not just the East Coast. When you diss Iowa, you diss the whole midwest. And if you have a map (and are not Miss America), you’d know that’s a lot of the Country. As soon as he made his corn-Presidents comment, it was game over for Huntsman.

Newt’s Ex-Wife Problem

In my article regarding finishes in the Iowa Caucus, I stated that

Newt Gingrich isn’t conservative enough for Iowans, thus giving him a fourth-place finish. He’s got too many skeletons (and ex-wives) in the closet. He’s a brilliant and smart man, but Iowans believe if you can’t keep an oath to your spouse, what makes us believe you’ll keep an oath to the voters.

I had my husband in tears (from laughter) the other night. I compared Newt’s marital record to someone who is a habitual leaser of cars. You’ve got to trade up to the newer, younger, prettier model every few years…but you’ve got to take it for a test drive first. Am I wrong? I didn’t think so. It should be interesting to see (if the interview does air) what his ex-wife has to say. Forget the Kardashians, Newt should have a reality show titled, “Gettin Down with the Gingriches”. I’d watch it.

Perry is Dropping Out

I’m kind of sad to hear this news. It makes sense, he’s at the bottom of the pack, polling horribly and not getting endorsements. I thought he was a good enough guy, he was just horrible in debates. I think everyone can recall the “Ummm” heard round the world. Granted, W wasn’t the best debater either, but hey, I love me some W. Maybe it’s the accent or the Cowboy I like. Maybe Paula Cole was right, “Where have all the Cowboys gone?” Either way, this one is going back to Texas. Hopefully he’s “saved a pretzel for the gas jets.”

What’s going to happen after South Carolina? Who knows. Maybe I’ll make a prediction soon. I just hope whomever is the GOP candidate they can take out Obama. Keep the goal in mind, fellow Conservatives. OMG. Obama Must Go.

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