Saturday, December 29, 2012

'Tis Only a Flesh Wound

It is an annual year end ritual to remember those in the popular culture that we lost during the year.  “Lost” isn’t the correct word of course, unless we really lost the person like Amelia Earhart or something.  We look back at those whose lives touched ours through music, sports, religion or politics.  Reviewing this year’s list had me wondering about the 2013 list.  Surely it’s not too soon to speculate.  (And I will stop calling you ‘Shirley’).

Here are those we didn’t lose in 2012 – surprisingly.

Fidel Castro

Apparently smoking, drinking and dictatorship can be good for your health.  He has been in power in Cuba since 1959.  Eisenhower was President.  He has survived through Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama and soon Clinton II.  Either his longevity is an outlier or clean living is overrated.

Betty White

She starred on a show called Golden Girls about a bunch of elderly women that premiered over 27 years ago.  I am happy for her new-found popularity, but c’mon.  You have to be surprised that she’s still with us and hoping like me for a few more years, too.  

Kirk Douglas

At 96, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb saying that his number should have already been called.  I did see him on a talk program this year and while he was tough to understand (he suffered a stroke a few years ago), he seemed chipper and lucid, which puts him ahead of me on many a morning over the holidays.

Nancy Reagan

For someone who was such an oversized personality during the 1980s, she has certainly shrunk in physical stature since those days.  If she weighs 80 pounds I’d be shocked.  Not that Fox News needs a reason for a Reagan tribute/retrospective, but her passing will fill a month of programming on that network. 

Gary Busey/Nick Nolte

I’m not sure that they are two different people, so I include them together on my list.  Both made careers personifying the hard driving, ‘you-only-live-once’ lifestyle and I would have thought that this would have been the year for a sad People magazine cover story about their reckless lives and how they spent their final days.

John Madden

Speaking of oversized personalities, Madden is oversized everything.  He is no health nut, that’s for sure.  I think 2013 does not bode well for him, especially since his current game release is Madden 13.  Not exactly a lucky number.

Muhammad Ali

It’s been 16 years since his shaky appearance at the Atlanta Olympics and his condition hasn’t improved.  That he has not attempted a comeback to the heavyweight ring in a few years (like all of his peers it seems) should be a clue that his days are numbered even though he is not that old.  If you haven’t watched the fight footage of the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman, you should.  Fastest hands I’ve ever seen.  

Lindsay Lohan

Every day she survives is a gift to her from God.  Drinking, drugs, elective surgeries, sexual indiscretions, car accidents – and that’s just last week.  If the wild lifestyle doesn’t get her, the paparazzi will.

Someone who starred in The Breakfast Club or St. Elmo’s Fire

Just playing the percentages with that one.

Keith Richards

He has been on this list since 1966 and will probably still be on the list in December 2013.  Rock on.

Honorable Mention


They are still hanging on by a thread but on life support.  Let’s pray they go quietly in my sleep.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bettman and the Cliff

With the deadline looming within days for the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and spending cuts, the White House and the Congress are at an impasse.   Neither side believes that the differences will be settled in time to make a deal that avoids these austerity measures from becoming law on January 1st, so the time has come for a superhero.   

“Chief O’Hara, send up the Bettman signal!”

With the negotiations at a critical junction and time running out, House Republicans have called in a professional negotiator to broker a final deal.  Today Speaker John Boehner announced that the House caucus has hired NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to represent them in future White House meetings on the fiscal cliff.  The GOP believes that Bettman represents their best and last hope to break the President’s resolve since Bettman is “stupid enough to do anything”, as one senior House staffer put it.  
Boehner cited Bettman’s vast experience in ruining the game of hockey as the main reason he was hired for this delicate assignment in Washington. 

“Hiring Bettman sends a clear message,” said Boehner through tears.  “We are willing to burn the federal government to the ground to get what we want.  The issue isn’t money.  It’s power.  Is that microphone on?”

Bettman’s impressive resume of destruction includes the expansion of hockey into unsustainable warm weather markets, the loss of major television contracts, and the unprecedented cancellation of an entire NHL season in 2005.  Republicans are hopeful that his brand of scorched earth business blunders will win concessions from the White House while simultaneously destroying a federal government that they feel was emboldened by its victory in the Civil War.

During the last period of tensions between Congress and the President in the 1860s, the federal government and the executive branch won major concessions from the Congress and the states.  This time, Boehner vowed not to make the same mistakes as Jefferson Davis.  So he turned to Bettman.

Speaking from the podium at his introductory news conference, Bettman struck the combative and incoherent tone that hockey fans have come to expect and loathe.

 “After reviewing the President’s so-called ‘offers’, none of the variations even began to approach 50-50, either at all or for some long period of time,” Bettman said. “It’s clear that we’re not speaking the same language in terms of what they came back to us with.”

"There's obviously been an acknowledgment that we have issues. There has been an acknowledgment, or an acceptance if you will, that we're going to have a cap system. But, in terms of how we're looking at the world, and I say this on a broader sense as it relates to the government and the health and everything else, we're not on the same page."

“No one wants to play more than me, and I know that's what our citizens want.  But the system must be fixed.”

Democrats were disappointed in the new confrontational approach from Bettman and Congressional Republicans.

“Hiring Bettman to save government is the icing on the cake, so to speak,” quipped incoming Native American Senator Elizabeth Warren.  “The GOP has tipped its hand and revealed that it has no intention of bargaining in good faith on these issues.  Bettman wouldn’t know good faith bargaining if it slammed him into the boards.  Bettman is perfectly willing to cancel the entire government for the year.  That’s what the GOP wants, too.”

Senator Harry Reid countered that the inclusion of Bettman sets negotiations back years, and he emphasized that Democrats have put several previously non-negotiable items on the table, such as entitlements.  He insisted that progress towards avoiding the cliff was being made, but Bettman represents a poison pill in finalizing a deal.  

“I will personally recommend that members take the government to Europe and play there until this gets sorted out.  We just want to legislate.”

Some Senate Democrats said they would consider the radical approach of voting to decertify the Congress, a procedural move designed to give them more leverage in future fiscal cliff talks.  

Meanwhile, fans of good government wait.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Old Guy Radio

Ever since Howard Stern left terrestrial radio for dead, ever since video killed the radio star, FM music radio has been on the decline.  The 8-track, then cassette tapes, then CD players started the bleeding.  iPods and satellite radio have supplied the final death blow.  Now only the 47% of Americans who live on government subsistence are forced to listen to FM music.  Everybody else has moved on and can choose their own playlist.

I cannot yet move on.  I am stuck in FM hell, in the car at least.

I wish I could create my own playlist to fill the void while driving.  I own 3 cars with a combined mileage of 414,000 miles.  2 of these 3 conveyances were manufactured before the iPod was invented and the third was barely 15 months old.  So it’s FM AOR (album oriented rock) stations for me when the sports talk radio conversation turns to the Washington Wizards’ potential lottery picks in the upcoming draft, possible 2013 quarterback openings for Tim Tebow  or the marital infidelities of big time college coaches. 

I have no choice.  Listening to the hum of the engine is not an option because the engines of all 3 cars stopped humming long ago.  When talk radio fails to entertain, it’s classic rock.

After wading into the local classic rock station, BIG 100.3 for the past few months, I now know why the medium is dying as a viable source for old guy entertainment.

Shortened versions of songs

Last week in the car I heard subtly edited versions of The Rolling Stones’ Miss You and In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel.  I have heard these 2 songs thousands of times.  I own the albums.  I have bought the CDs.  I know when you change the song as originally performed and recorded.  The word I am looking for is blasphemy.  

You have to know your target audience.  We know the album versions of every classic rock song that ever achieved commercial popularity.  You cannot fool us with abridged versions of Freebird, or shave a few notes off of the instrumental section of Light My Fire without us noticing and flinching involuntarily.  If you can’t spare the air time to play the entirety of Peter Frampton’s Do You Feel Like I Do, then don’t even bother.  It’s just going to piss us off and we will not support your sponsors.

On a related note, if you are going spin Hocus Pocus by Focus, either play the long version or skip it all together.  When I hear the 3 minute, 30 second version, I weep for the culture.


Talk should be confined to talk radio stations.  The only talking that interests me on these music stations is Talking Heads.  I am not impressed that the recovering DJ can talk over the introduction to Tom Petty’s American Girl and know exactly when to stop so that we can hear the lyrics uninterrupted.  The guitar intro is the best part of that song.  The guitar intro is the best part of many rock standards.  Please shut up.

It’s Over

I think I speak for my generation on this.  You may ban all songs by Starship (songs from the first iteration, Jefferson Airplane are OK; even songs from the second incarnation, Jefferson Starship, are OK).  Once they dropped the ‘Jefferson’, you may drop them from the rotation.

Toto can remain on the shelf.  Toto stopped being relevant once they stopped playing back up for Boz Scaggs.

Loverboy was never good and never to be confused with classic.  “You want a piece of my heart, you’d better start from the start; You wanna be in the show, c’mon baby let’s go” ranks among the worst song lyrics of all time.  Just because I know every word and every bridge doesn’t mean I like the song or that the song has any redeeming quality.

This list is longer, but I’m in a good mood today.

It’s Been Played

Breakfast with the Beatles, the Vinyl Vault, Two for Tuesday, Desert Island Mix, Get the Led Out and Rocktober are done.  These were clever concepts when first introduced in the early 1980s.  Accept that classic rock songs by definition will always be dated.  Your promotions and gimmicks don’t have to be.

If I Wanted to Hear the Same Songs Over and Over, I’d Switch to Hot 99.5

I should never hear Dust in the Wind by Kansas more than once within the same 24 hour period.  You will lose the few men like me who listen occasionally if you insist on pushing so hard for the female demographic with songs like that. 

One more thing - must you play Frankenstein by the Edgar Winter Group to keep your classic rock station certification valid, or is there another reason?  I can’t think of one that justifies hearing that song once per day.  Once per quarter is sufficient.  Make it a treat, not a chore.

Keep It Dirty

Today was the last straw.   You edited the final line of Charlie Daniels’ The Devil Went Down to Georgia to “son of a gun” from its original “son of a bitch”.  Really?  That line is no more offensive than Mrs. Claus transferring an obscene video from her Galaxy phone to Santa Claus’ Galaxy phone, and that commercial is on heavy rotation on network television.  I hear harsher language on C-SPAN.  Grow a pair and play the song as written.

Censoring the end of this song is an insult to my sex, drugs and rock n’ roll sensibilities.

Album Oriented

We reluctant FM classic rock radio station listeners grew up with albums.  We know all the tracks, not just the heavy rotation hits.  You are competing with Pandora and personal mixes on iPods.  You’ve got to evolve.  Surprise me once in a while.  Play a legitimate deep track.  I will respect you when I hear The Police’s Sally – Be My Girl or any Bowie song not included on one of his Greatest Hits compilations.

And while you are at it, if you going play Time from Dark Side of the Moon, include The Great Gig in the Sky immediately after or just forget the whole thing.

Final Thought

There is no acceptable remix version of Eddie Money singing Two Tickets to Paradise.  Please destroy whatever it is you played last week and pretended it was the Eddie Money classic.   It wasn’t.  Have you no shame?

 Just because it’s old doesn’t make it classic.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Starring Wayne LaPierre as Ralphie

Like most Americans, I fell asleep in front of the TV this holiday with A Christmas Story in endless loop on TBS.  I have that inalienable right as an American.  While watching Ralphie and his quixotic quest for a Red Ryder 200-shot range model air rifle with compass in the stock, I couldn’t help but dream about another man’s quest for access to the weapons of his dreams.

A Christmas Story starring Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive mouth piece

Opens with shot of downtown decorated for the holidays

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  Ah, there it is. My house. And good old K Street. How could I ever forget it?

And there I am, with that dumb round face and that stupid stocking cap.  But no matter. Christmas was on its way.  Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas around which the entire kid year revolved.

Downtown Washington was prepared for its yearly bacchanalia of peace on earth and good will to men.  Wal Mart's corner window was traditionally a high-water mark of the pre-Christmas season.  First nighters, packed earmuff to earmuff, jostled in wonderment before a golden tinkling display of mechanized, electronic joy.

Wayne, hunters, and sportsmen pressed up against window glass

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  Wow, there it is.  The holy grail of Christmas gifts. The Red Ryder 200-shot range model air rifle.

And there he is.  Red Ryder himself.  In his hand was the knurled stock of as coolly deadly-looking a piece of weaponry as ever I had laid eyes on.  For weeks, I had been scheming to get my mitts on one of these fearsome blue-steel beauties.  My fevered brain seethed with the effort of trying to come up with the infinitely subtle devices necessary to implant the Red Ryder range model air rifle indelibly into my parents' subconscious.

It was at this very moment that I vowed to spend my life fighting any forces that would infringe upon my future ownership of this, or any other, weapon of death or the high capacity magazines that make them special.

Maybe what happened next was inevitable.

Wayne’s Mom:  Wayne, what would you like for Christmas?

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  Horrified, I heard myself blurt it out.

Wayne:  I want an official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle...and the unlimited inalienable rights to the future ownership of high capacity magazines to support the defensive purpose of my beloved weapon.

Wayne’s Mom:  No. Shoot your eye out…and high capacity magazines are unnecessary for hunting or adequate home defense.

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  Oh, no! It was the classic mother and liberal pacifist-loving-BB gun/gun control block.

Wayne’s Mom:  You'll shoot your eye out...and potentially kill dozens.

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  That deadly phrase uttered many times before by hundreds of mothers and hippies was not surmountable by any means known to kid-dom or the vast Right Wing-dom.

But such was my mania, my desire for a Red Ryder carbine and unfettered future access to the guns and ammo of my choice that I immediately began to rebuild the dike.

Wayne:  I was just kidding. Even though Flick is getting one.  And criminals can get them anytime they want.  I'd just like some Tinkertoys.

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  I couldn't believe my own ears. Tinkertoys?  She'd never buy it.

Wayne’s Mom:  BB guns are dangerous.  Statistically, you are 12 times more likely to be shot if you own a gun than not.  I don't want anyone shooting his eye out...or shooting dozens in a violent rage.

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  Mothers know nothing about creeping marauders burrowing through the snow toward the kitchen where only you, and you alone, stand between your tiny huddled family and insensate evil.

Wayne’s imaginative dream sequence begins with Wayne dressed as a cowboy

Wayne’s Dad (from under the kitchen table):  Save us, Wayne! I just knew those bad guys would be coming for us in the end!

Wayne:  Don't worry, Dad. As long as I got OI' Blue...What've we got here, folks?

Wayne’s Dad:  Well, we figure it's Black Bart, Wayne.

Wayne:  Well, just me and my trusty old Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle and my high capacity extra clip.  Lucky I've got a compass in the stock. 
Well, I think I better have a look here.

Bad Guys (holding pro-union picket signs):  Oh, no!  It's OI' Blue!  Oh, no!  Cheese it, boys!

Wayne’s Dad:  There's another one! He's a dead-eye, ain't he?

Black Bart:  Okay, Wayne!  You win this time, but we'll be back!   

Wayne:  Adios, Bart.  But if you do come back, you'll be pushing up daisies!  And don't you forget it!

Wayne’s Dad:  Well, son, you saved us!  We were goners for sure! And you saved us!

After a brief commercial break, we open with young Wayne sitting in school

Wayne’s Teacher:  Now, boys and girls, I'm going to give you an assignment.  I want you to write a theme.  "What I want for Christmas."

The clouds lifted.

Wayne’s Teacher: And I want it handed in tomorrow morning (she slides her jacket aside to reveal the Glock she carries to protect herself and to occasionally threaten the children)

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  I saw a faint gleam of light at the other end of the black cave of doom.  I knew that when my teacher read my magnificent, eloquent theme that she would sympathize with my plight and everything would work out, somehow.  Today I had serious work to do.

Wayne thinking and writing

"What I want for Christmas."

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  What I want is a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.  And the unlimited inalienable rights to the future ownership of high capacity magazines to support the defensive purpose of my beloved weapons.

Wow, that's great.

Wayne (writing):  I think that everybody should have a Red Ryder BB gun….and the unlimited inalienable rights to the future ownership of high capacity magazines to support the defensive purpose of my beloved weapon.  They're very good for Christmas.  I don't think that a football's a very good Christmas present….although the gun metaphors in the game of football are very much appreciated.

(Wayne’s Voice Over):  Oh, rarely had the words poured from my penny pencil with such feverish fluidity.  I've won! I've won!

Now I am ready for my Meet the Press interview.  I might be crazy, but I think it’s going to be great.


I woke up in a cold sweat.  It wasn’t a nightmare.  This really happened!  I can only hope that the story has a happy ending for the country.  For the record, air rifles for everyone is fine with me.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Socks and Underwear Day Eve

I have entered a new phase in the celebration of Christmas.  I call it the “Socks and Underwear” phase, but it’s not as dull as it might sound.  Let me explain.

My Christmas wish list continues to shorten with each passing year.  That is generally a good thing.  I have everything that I need, and lots of the things that I want and some that I don’t want but have anyway.  I have out-of date clothing but it still fits.  I have obsolete electronics but they work for me.  I have Halloween candy that has yet to expire.  I have it all.  

Our two older kids are entering a new gift list phase as well.  We found out this year that everything on their lists is expensive and the lists themselves are shorter.  That translates into the same dollar investment from Mom and Dad but with reduced volume under the tree on Christmas morning.  Gone are the days of dozens of cheap, disposable presents meant to create lots to unwrap but little long-term satisfaction.  I will miss the days when something from Five Below could create smiles that lasted longer than the lifespan of the actual gift.  Those fine laborers in China made a lot of smiles in my house on many a Christmas.

With this in mind, we scaled back our Christmas bonanza of buying for one another more things we only half wanted and certainly didn’t need.  On top of that, Cherie and I decided to take the fiscal cliff dive and have our kitchen remodeled in the new year.  That is enough Christmas for the both of us, so fancy gloves to replace the ones we already own, body sprays of apples and oranges, and books that are easily available at the public library were scratched.  We have chosen Christmas on a budget, no surprises.  That is our pact and we’re sticking to it…I think (ask me tomorrow).

As I said, my list was short this year.  I need new undershirts.  I need some socks.  These item wear particularly fast after one attains the ripe of age of 50.  It must be the excessive sweating that comes with middle age.  I’m not sure.  I am sure that you can never have enough white undershirts.  My lovely bride has promised not to disappoint.  I have already selected which legacy undershirts will be relegated to the car wash rag pile come tomorrow evening.  Ah, the joys of the season.  I tingle with anticipation.

The Christmas gift surprise factor is gone, and that is a good thing.  The older I get, the more sudden shocks and surprises become health risks, so the predictability of my Christmas gifts is a welcome preventative medicine.  Socks and underwear - $20.00.  The certainty of my ability to pay the AMEX bill in January – priceless.  I will sleep soundly tonight as the visions of sugar plums dance in my head.

I am not complaining about this holiday transition.  Christmas morning won’t be boring just because it is predictable.  Unwrapping is still fun, even when you know what’s under the brightly colored paper.  I know today that my stocking will include a tin of Altoids, a dark chocolate Mounds bar and a Starbucks gift card.  How do I know this?  I stopped by the grocery store on the way home today and bought these items.  Tonight, I will wrap them.  Tomorrow, I will feign surprise and appreciation.  Santa is so thoughtful.  He knows exactly what I like.

There is one sliver of unpredictability left in our Christmas celebration.  We are blessed to have an 8 year old who believes in the magic of Santa Claus.  For her, Christmas is not a predictable ritual.  It is a day of mystery and wonder and sugar.  While we adults (and teenagers) have a good idea about how those cookies left out for Santa got half-eaten overnight, she doesn’t.  There is a uniqueness in the look on her face when discovers the crumbs and nibbled carrot sticks on the Santa plate, as unique and different as every snowflake that rarely falls on Christmas Day no matter how hard we dream with pajamas worn inside out.  The look on her face Christmas morning cannot be predicted.  Every year, it is a surprise, a wonderful surprise to unwrap.  That smile is one that a Chinese worker cannot manufacture with plastic parts or with batteries not included.

That moment with little Lucy will change and disappear over time and give way to “maturity” and eventually, predictability.  But not this year.  I know I have at least one year left.  When the moment arrives and Santa is unmasked in my house, I’ll be sad but comforted that predictability has its own rewards.

I’ll be guaranteed the socks and underwear I so richly deserve, year after year – at least until I enter the next phase of life, which consists of receiving framed pictures of people for me to look at so I won’t forget who they are. 

For you kids out there, Merry Christmas.  For the rest of us over the age of wonder, Merry Socks and Underwear Day! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Amending My Thinking

The Bill of Rights is a uniquely American creation.  When George Washington wrote them on the back of an envelope before his appearance at Gettysburg as the rocket’s red glare glowed overhead, it was a simpler time of principles over politics and majorities over minorities.  Men were men, women were women, and we were who we were, once and for all, e pluribus unum.  What was different back then?  We all had guns the way the Founders intended. 

We can recapture that peaceful easy feeling again, but to do so, we will need to follow more closely and literally this grand Bill of Rights and be prepare to pay that bill at all costs. 

In the Bill of Rights, there is one amendment that is the greatest among equals.  It is greater than the other enumerated rights because without it, all the other rights are at risk of being taken from us.  Over the years, the power and reach of this amendment has been eroded, but now more than ever, it needs to be followed as the pilgrims intended.

The 2nd Amendment states:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

So what was the original intent of this amendment?  I’ve been doing some reading on this.  In the late 1700s, muskets, rifles, and cannons were the weapons of war.  If you had muskets and rifles, and the government had muskets and rifles, then you had a state of MAD – mutually assured destruction.  The government could not move against the people, because both sides were proportionately armed.  This created an environment in which the government was careful not to tread on any person’s individual liberties, lest the one of the government’s unionized public servants pay the ultimate price.

Today the sides are no longer even.  The government now has enhanced weaponry at its disposal.  Armored trucks with machine guns, SAMs (surface to air missiles), long range bombers, and high powered rifles fill their arsenals.  These high-tech weapons were not available in 1789.  Making sure that the sides were of even strength was easy in colonial times.  Rebalancing the scales of power today is more complex and expensive, but no less important. 

In order to protect citizens from tyranny and government oppression, we must protect the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase and maintain weapons equal in lethal firepower to those owned by the government.  

If your neighbor owned a nuclear weapon, doesn’t it follow that no one would try to break into his home, trample on his flower beds, or drop by unannounced selling coupon booklets for local businesses during the traditional dinner hour?  You betcha.  Your right to live and let live would be respected, or else.  If you could drive a tank loaded with 50 caliber shells, what federal agency lackey would pull you over for violating those liberal utopian HOV restrictions on your favorite highway?  Now that is real freedom, my friends, like the Founders had when they traveled by horseback over hill and dale, to grandmother’s house they went.

Of course, it naturally follows that tracking these purchases would be an invitation to the government to come and confiscate your legal property on a whim.  There can be no freedom as long as a database of these purchases exists.  If the government doesn’t know which person has a Predator drone in his garage capable of dropping a 2,000 pound bomb, it has to assume that everyone does.  That, my friends, is a blanket of security under which we can all sleep, albeit with one eye open.

In fairness to all Americans large and small, we cannot consider restricting the purchase of these vital weapons systems to those deemed “mentally incompetent”, a subjective determination.  Restricting weapons ownership would be an invitation to the government to oppress those less emotionally stable members of our communities, or worse - label people like me as “unbalanced” in order to tramp on my rights.  This is an invitation to tyranny.  And tyranny is bad.  We are against that.  And you must be, too.  Or else.

The cost for the average weapons system can deter many hard working Americans from buying and owning the gun, rifle, launcher, or nuclear submarine to best provide adequate home defense; however, if this onerous and unconstitutional restriction on buying large systems is lifted, more buyers in the marketplace will mean lower prices for all.  How?  Surely government contractors looking to expand their market share will develop new, more affordable weapon systems to meet the new demand.  Neighbor could band together with neighbor to pool their resources, creating their own militia as prescribed in the Constitution.  It’s a win-win for Americans and the American economy! 
We need to get back to our roots.  Let’s finally start embracing the original intent of the 2nd Amendment in this country, and allow for the unfettered individual ownership of high tech military weaponry by private citizens.  The scales of justice have been tilted for too long in the government’s favor.  We will never be truly free until we are all heavily armed.

The best defense is a good offense, and defense wins championships.  Let’s win the future!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Living with a Mistake

Speaker of the House, John Boehner, tried a risky gambit yesterday in his on-going “negotiations” with President Obama over the fiscal cliff.  He opted to try what he called Plan B to avert the coming tax cataclysm and regain some leverage in the White House discussions.  Somewhere along the line, things went terribly wrong for the Speaker and his plan failed in spectacular fashion.  His party abandoned him.  Plan B did nothing to avert the cliff and in the process, Boehner sacrificed all of his leverage with the President.  


Thanks to the crack hackers at MSRP, we have for you the inside story of what brought Boehner to the fateful decision to try Plan B.  Full disclosure: some of the conversations may be graphic.

Boehner enters House basement meeting room.  He looks disheveled and visibly upset.

Eric Cantor:  John, what’s wrong?  You look awful.  How was your meeting with the President?

Boehner:  It’s…it’s hard to talk about.  (sitting down)  We were getting along pretty well.  He made some attractive offers, we had some beers.  I tried to say no to his advances, but he was so insistent, so strong.  I felt like he wasn’t respecting me, like he was using me to get what he wanted.  Then before I knew it, we were together at the table and…and…I think I got screwed.

Cantor (audibly gasps):  John, you poor man.  Just remember, you did nothing wrong.  You are the victim.  No means no, and even though he’s the President, he has got to respect that.  Can you talk about it?

Boehner (gently sobbing):  It started off as a quiet evening of negotiations, and now I feel totally violated.  I can hear his voice over and over saying, “I’ve got political capital, baby, and I’m gonna use it!”  (He pauses)  But that’s not the worst part.

Cantor: You can tell me, John.

Boehner:  I think he slipped me his fiscal plan.  I can’t stop thinking about it.

Cantor:  You went into negotiations with Obama without Congressional protection?  Are you insane?

Boehner:  I know.  I was stupid.  He was so likable, I fell for his romantic talk about “balanced approaches”, “discipline” and “stimulus”.  He is a really good speaker.  I thought he’d pull out of negotiations in time.  I guess he couldn’t hold on any longer.  

Cantor (becoming agitated, glaring at Boehner):  You aren’t considering bringing his demon seed fiscal plan to term, are you?  He forced himself on you, against your will.  You should not have to live with that mistake for the rest of your political life.  You’ve got to do something.  (Whispering) This needs to be handled.

Boehner: But what can I do?

Cantor:  Ever heard of Plan B? 
Boehner:  You mean the morning after bill?

Cantor:  Yes.  You could always resort to Plan B and that will abort Obama’s fiscal plan safely and effectively.  You know, you should have taken Plan B before you met with him alone.  It works even before intimate negotiations result in the implant of unplanned fiscal ideas in you.

Boehner:  I thought it was too late.

Cantor:  Not yet.  You have to introduce Plan B within 72 hours of unprotected negotiations, and remember, if the idea of tax increases is already pregnant inside you, it won’t work.  Plan B isn’t a retroactive legislative abortive.  John, your choices are limited now.  You’ve got to try something.

Boehner:  Are there side effects to Plan B?  

Cantor:  Well, just a few but it could be worth it compared to a lifetime of caring for Obama’s fiscal plan.  In some cases, you could experience nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, menstrual changes, dizziness, breast tenderness, vomiting and diarrhea.  Really nothing different than you experience every day when dealing with the GOP House caucus.  Of course, there’s bloating.  There is always bloating.

Boehner:  Anything else?

Cantor:  You may bleed support for your leadership role, but the bleeding should slow before the next period of Congress begins in January.  I’ll put it this way – if you are bleeding support from the House GOP caucus, then Plan B didn’t work, and you’ll have to live with the consequences.

Boehner:  How can I procure some of this Plan B?

Cantor:  You’ll need to ask the GOP caucus in the House.  They run the pharmacy, so to speak, and you’d better hope the Tea Party members are in a good mood.

Boehner:  I don’t think they like me.  Maybe I should tell them the Plan B isn’t for me.  I could tell them it’s for a friend.

Cantor:  You should get Obama to pay for it.  It’s his fault you’re in this condition, John, not yours.  Never forget that.

Boehner:  Please don’t make me go back to the White House and face him.  I’d rather just pay for Plan B myself and forget this whole mess ever happened.

Cantor:  It’s your legislative body so that’s your choice.

Boehner:  But what if Plan B doesn’t work?

Cantor: Then you’ll be the father of a bouncing baby Obama fiscal plan within 9 months.  But don’t worry.  Plan B is proven 99.6% effective, if the caucus gives it to you.  Good luck with that.

Boehner:  I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.    

Cantor:  Next time, John, if there is a next time – don’t negotiate with the President without Congressional protection, or the necessary votes.  If not, you might find yourself living with a mistake.

Boehner:  Looks like I have no choice but to try Plan B and pray.  If that fails, I’ll have to jump off a cliff.


UPDATE:  In response to the release of this transcript, Obama’s office released a terse, two sentence statement:  

“Contrary to rumors circulating on the Internet, Boehner was asking for it.  Negotiations with Speaker Boehner were consensual and we demand that the result of our negotiated union to be brought to full term.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Over the Holiday Cliff

Years ago, in protest against the same old annual updates about little Johnnie's straight As and Susie's ballet lessons,  I decided to spice up the Christmas letter tradition with my own brand of relevance and irreverence.  12 years later, I am still protesting.

Not everyone will receive the hard copy (stamps aren't free you know), but here's the 2012 family letter along with sincere wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday to all.


Like the fiscal cliff negotiations, the debate over the content of the Sherrier Family Holiday Letter 2012 is coming down to the wire.  At the end of the year, without a signed Holiday Letter, our family will fall off the Holiday Letter Cliff (Thomas calls it a “slope”) and the uncertainty that would be faced by friends and family would be devastating to their holidays.  Failure to mail a letter by year end would result in automatic cuts to goodwill and mandatory increases in family-related stress.  
The in-house jockeying, the horse trading and the backroom deals have been kept secret, but thanks to WikiLeaks, here is a summary of the Sherrier Holiday Letter Cliff negotiations:

Marra will only sign the Holiday Letter if we agree to lift the family debt ceiling and allow her to tax our patience and spend our money without limitation.  Of course, this will happen regardless once she goes to college in September 2014.  We just started looking over the edge of that looming fiscal cliff and it’s a long way down. 

Thomas has called for more words spent on his quest for Eagle Scout rank while Marra prefers those words be spent on her self-described ‘crushing’ load of AP classes this year.  Lucy is against any reference to a debt ceiling in our letter as she contends that a family debt ceiling limits her ability to purchase as many American Girl doll accessories as the house will hold.

Cherie refuses to eliminate any references from the letter about education, specifically her long-term stints as a substitute in kindergarten classes in spring and summer.  Marra has countered that she has binders full of accomplishments from the past year, such as her swim team coaching job and lifeguarding experiences that must be part of any final agreement. 

Cherie thinks she has capital to spend because she served in a leadership position on the swim team Board of Directors.  Joe believes he has more capital at his disposal since he is now President of his local HR chapter.  

All parties believe that any final Holiday Letter agreement must address the effects of global climate change on the summer.  Cherie wants us to emphasize that Wrightsville Beach, NC was wonderfully warm, but Joe insists the final letter highlight the violent derecho storm that poked a nice hole in our house and killed our favorite pear tree.  

Thomas believes the draft letter lacks a stimulus effect and is demanding more mentions of his soccer field exploits.  Joe disagrees, and argues that additional references to his prolific blogging ( ) and his impressive inline hockey exploits is enough stimuli.  Marra demands more investment in the arts, specifically a mention of her 4 night per week of dancing.

Marra would trade one paragraph about obtaining her driver’s license if Thomas would agree to exclude even a sentence about his entre into middle school theater.  Joe would sacrifice a mention of his 50th birthday for a reduced emphasis on Lucy’s swim team success.

Marra, Thomas and Lucy are in agreement that their entitlements should represent a large portion of the final letter.

If the letter doesn’t get finished by year end, there is always the possibility of a continuing resolution that kicks the hard letter content choices past the December 24th deadline.  It’s been done before but frankly, we all expect the same tired arguments to slow the process a year from now.

Next year, maybe decisions on the content of this letter will have to go to a Super Committee.  That will solve this mess.

You’d think the parties could at least agree to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year by the deadline.  Nothing is simple anymore in Washington or with the Sherriers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jets Ask, "Where was God?"

The tragedy that is the 2012 New York Jets football team can be blamed on one indisputable reason: the systematic removal of God from the football fields of America.

So says third string quarterback/special teams utility player, Tim Tebow.  On ESPN’s Sports is My Religion program, Tebow said during an interview that had God been more welcome within the NFL, the carnage of horrific Jet defeats week after week might have been avoided.  

Host George Foreman, himself an ordained minister and veteran of sports violence, asked Tebow directly if the Jets’ tragedy can be blamed on secular forces within the NFL.

"Well, you know, it's an interesting thing,” he began.  “We ask why there is violence against us but we have systematically removed God from MetLife Stadium and other NFL venues. Should we be so surprised that the football field would become a place of carnage, particularly for our anemic offense?”

Tebow described the culture of the Jets locker room as a den of inequity, a place where God would not be welcomed and embraced.  If God was not welcomed there, he suggested, why would He show up on Sundays to support the team?

“He sucks,” said super fan Fireman Ed when reached by phone.  “How could he say that God has been removed from Jets games?  I hear God’s name being shouted out left and right whenever the offensive line allows another sack or the corners drop an easy interception.  I’ve heard God and Jesus shouted more this season than ever before, and that includes during the Rich Kotite era.”

Roger Goddell, who actually has the name of God within his own name, chastised Tebow for his comments about the Jets’ massacre.

“Contrary to myth, players can pray before, during, and after games, so long as it's not disruptive to the fan experience. They can say grace before meals, they can invite teammates to religious services, and they can form post-season religious clubs.  All of this is legal right now, under existing law and court precedents, and suggesting that anyone has tried to "systematically remove" God from New York Jets’ facilities or any other team facilities is just plain wrong.  I may fine the punk, just because I can.”

Some fans disagree with Tebow and think that the absence of God is not to blame for the Jets’ 2012 disaster.  These fans contend that the Jets needed to be armed with weapons to fight back.

“If the Jets had been armed like the other teams coming at them, they might have had a chance,” argued Vinnie Della Ducca, a local Secaucus bookie.  “As it was, they were too easy to victimize.  The other teams coming to play the Jets, they knew Tebow and his boys couldn’t fight back.  How horrible for the fans that had to hide and listen while their team was defeated over and over.  They may never recover emotionally.”

Tebow did say that His God was a Merciful God and would comfort the team and its fans in their darkest hour of all-too-familiar postseason mourning. 

"You know, God didn’t play football. He didn't go to college for free memorabilia and complimentary tattoos. But God will be there in the form of a lot people with hugs and with therapy and a whole lot of ways in which I think he will be involved in the aftermath of this lost Jets season.  Mainly, His Hand will be involved in the mercy firing Rex Ryan and finding a new team for Mark Sanchez.” 

Politically, Tebow's comments have been lambasted as the final verbal throws of a failed career in New York, a desperate Hail Mary of spiritual excuses.  Many are accusing him of exploiting the violent tragedy of a Jets’ season to push a bogus culture war agenda.  His critics point out that Tebow is probably using God as an excuse for his inability to throw a 15 yard out with any accuracy or velocity.

Tebow supporters, however, think he is on to something.

“If you watched the Jets-Titans game on Monday night, you cannot tell me that God was present.  That muffed snap at the end of the game was the work of Satan, no question,” cried Joe Willie Namath, himself an agent of secular debauchery and a sinner of great renown. 
“How about a little kiss?” he slobbered.

Namath finally added, “If God felt welcome at professional football games, one thing is certain – the Cowboys would never win another game.”