Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Death Of A Protector?

I fear that I am on the verge of experiencing the passing of one (and perhaps the greatest) of my childhood protectors. I say verge because while this protector is not yet dead, there are certainly signs that it is on life support these days. 

Now while it is true that this protector has been around for a number of years, there were no immediate signs that age would preclude this protector from the performance of its job. It had in fact been outstanding in executing its job of protection since first given the task; protecting my parents and grandparents before assuming its responsibilities in my life. Age had not diminished neither its capabilities, nor had it affected the intelligence of its original design and construction.  As for its need, perhaps at no other time since its creation has that need been greater. The dangers that it guards against have never been so close and their dire consequences so imminent as they are today. 

No, the problem of late has been one more of neglect. We have neglected to maintain this protector and have seemingly done everything in our power to diminish its efficiency. Far too often in recent days, we have neglected to heed its counsel and guidance, and have in fact ignored the warnings that have been provided to us. Like children at play under the umbrella of a caring parent, we have strayed beyond the protection of our guardian, and now risk irreparable harm from our own childish foolishness. Straining in a haze of misinformation and in a misguided attempt to have our own way, we seem to be attempting to break free of the very protection that allows us the freedom to do so. In simple immaturity, we seem desperate ignore the warnings of our protector to instead embrace a danger and a darkness, the likes of which we have no concept. 

I don't know whether or how long my protector will continue to be able to survive if these onslaughts continue, and I have begun to lose confidence that we can get off of this path of destruction. I have hope however, that all of this is simply my own lack of understanding of my protector's condition and that I am simply in error. You should too... For those of you who haven't figured it out already, that protector is The Constitution of the United States.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Returns

Well the Christmas Holidays are over and like many of you out there I got a few gifts that I really didn't want. Since I am not entirely sure where I received these little treasures from, I am simply going to put them out there to be reclaimed by those happy little givers who left them under my tree:
  • 3-5 pounds that seemed to have appeared on Christmas morning. Since these could have nothing to do with the way that I have been cramming items with no food value into my pie hole for the last week, I am asking for whoever dropped them off to come and get them. It's not that they are the wrong size, but that they make me the wrong size.
  • A few more white hairs. While it's true that they do go with the ones that I already have, I think that have quite enough of them, so I would like to return these new ones. If you don't mind however, I would like the gray ones back and would not object to a few additional ones as well if it weren't too much trouble.
  • A couple of aches and pains. It seems that someone has been giving me this same gift for the last couple of years, though always in different places. I have to tell you that I am quite tired of such gifts and would like to return at least these most recent ones immediately.
  • Disposition fermentation. It appears that without my knowledge or permission, someone has been fermenting my disposition. Now I am not normally against the fermentation process in any of its forms (as anyone who knows me can tell you), but feel that in this particular case it may have gone astray. At any rate, my disposition has been a good deal more sour of late, and this is a condition which does not agree with me at all.
  • The new glasses I received. I have been wearing the same rose colored glasses for some time now, and though it appears that I sometimes did not see things as clearly as I should have, they fit well and suited me fine. I find that while the new ones provide me with the ability to see much more clearly than before, I can't say that I am pleased with the change (or what I can now see more clearly). I'd like to have the old ones back if it wouldn't too much trouble.
Well, that's all. It isn't a long list, so I don't expect that taking care of it will be too much trouble. As for those of you who gave me these lovely items, shame on your. I would have expected better from those that I thought were my friends. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas

My twisted perspective and warped sense of humor have once again asserted themselves. Unlike previous possessions however, in this particular case I have taken on a rather famous poem (of the above listed title) first printed anonymously, but later credited to Clement Moore. Being dead, he cannot object to such abuse, but may be found spinning in his grave upon the posting of this version. I hope that you enjoy its timely release. 

Twas The Night Before Christmas ... In Toledo  

Twas the night before Christmas, and through Glass City
Not a Creature was stirring, and more was the pity
Red-light cameras were hung, by the stoplights with care
In hopes that new revenues, soon would be there
The people were hiding, like always it seemed
And Council of rubber stamps once again dreamed
But sounds of pure rage from the big office did pour
While workers most wisely just ran for the door
Hizzoner was off on a tantrum again
His target now suburban businessmen
For Take Back Toledo was ready to start
And that can't be good for our old Mayor Cart
His eyeballs were flashing, his fingers were twitching
With radio stations the subject of bitching
He rambled of treatments, both violent and dire
His diatribe dripping brimstone and fire
The lights in the Market, now dimly they glow
But Carty's red face was much brighter you know
He suddenly mellowed in tenor and tone
When finally seeing he wasn't alone
It was me that was trapped with this loony old goat
With hopes that his meds would keep hands from my throat
He glared at me now as if seeing me dead
His coffee cup poised now to throw at my head
I froze in position, a smile stiffly glowing
In hopes that my fear of him wouldn't be showing
I searched for an option, I longed for an exit
I sweated and prayed that I wasn't his target
But just when I thought that I had seen my end He crumpled and folded and started to bend
And right at that moment he just broke down cryin
Admitting his enemies were Fred and Brian
He sobbed and he stammered, he pulled at his hair He blubbered not caring that any was there He stormed and he stamped as he read off offenses
He steamed as he listed the dire recompenses
I told him his problem just might be bad judgment On Flowers and bike paths, he had been so hell bent
I said there was more to his job than new showers Or than thinking of taxes and fees at all hours
I told him to stand up and admit to the blame Own up to it all and his head hang in shame I pointed out he had not done his job well
He drew himself up and threw out "Go to Hell"
He ran from his office and left me to stare He bypassed the lift and went straight for the stair
He raced down the floors to the lobby below No more would he listen, for I think he did know
He stopped at the exit, and with nostrils flaring, attempted to manage a more regal bearing
He sniffed and he growled as he walked away mumbling He unlocked his car with the keys he was fumbling
He climbed in that car where his dog had been penned
And pulled from a handicap spot once again
And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight
“Daggonit that bastard, he just might be right.” 

Merry Christmas everyone! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas Susie

While I have been known to use this blog site shamelessly in the past (and will probably do so in the future), I would like to take just a moment to make an exception. My cousin Susie Johnson is having a bone marrow transplant tomorrow as part of her ongoing treatments for leukemia. She is currently in remission, having gone through some rather extensive treatments to get to this point, and everything is looking very good for even more progress with the coming procedure. 

Christmas Eve is a lousy time to have to go through such a thing however, and I expect that it probably has her feeling a little low. I believe that the spirit of the holiday, as well as her own strong spirit, will provide her with a much happier new year as a consequence of these efforts. 

My request of you is to keep Susie, her husband Bob, and the rest of her family in your thoughts today as you prepare for your own Christmas festivities. I believe in the power of positive thought and positive attitude (and believe me, if anybody in my life has ever had an attitude, it was Susie)

Merry Christmas Susie, Santa gonna have a big present for you...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why Couldn't Al Be Right?

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas ... oh wait, that's what I am looking out my window at. In fact, it appears that most of North America north of the Mason-Dixon line will be looking at it was well. 

From Seattle to Secaucus, there appears to be a blanket of white that has little chance of leaving us before the Holiday. This appears to be assured by the fact that the temperature in this geographic region will not get above 0 degrees Celsius through the end of the week. Don't get me wrong, I find nothing wrong with winter. I love it however the same way a love my relations, something to be taken in small doses (I am sure that any of them reading this now feels much the same)

Perhaps it is simply the cowardice that comes from the two years that I lived in Georgia. Winter was a much kinder, gentler thing there than it is here in beautiful Toledo. Cold was something that usually went away by noon, and ice was something that you put in a drink because it was relatively warm outside. Perhaps that it is because I'm tired of driving my skateboard of a car on roads better suited to a hockey game. Perhaps it is simply that I am getting older and less tolerant of the cold (and pretty much everything else, but that's another story)

I find myself however, in the curious position of wondering why those dire predictions of global warming do not seem to have come to pass. Why couldn't we ignore the scientific evidence of sunspot activity pointing towards a global cooling? Why can't we ignore the growing number of scientists who are beginning to question the "irrefutable evidence" of a climate that's warming? Why couldn't we just ignore the global temperature statistics that tell us that the planet is getting cooler? 

Now for those of you who know me, this next is maybe the hardest thing that I have ever asked. Having to give credit or credence to the "inventor or the internet", our former vice-president of the United States is difficult for me. Having to give any credibility to a Nobel Prize winning empty suit is almost more than I can stomach, but here it goes:

Why couldn't Al Gore be right about global warming?

OK, I said it and I won't apologize. Sorry, but I'm freezing my butt off here and I will grasp at any straw to warm up a little. Now if you'll excuse me, I think that I am going to be unwell ... 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Holiday Diet?

I have been thinking about going on a diet this week. I know that it's close to Christmas, and the temptations will be even greater than usual. I know that there are big dinners ahead for both the Christmas and News Years holidays. I also know that there will be more chocolate and other sweets within reach of my lack of will power than at any other time of the year. 

Unfortunately, there have also been a couple of full length mirrors in the hotel rooms that I have been staying in over the last couple of weeks. Without going into detail that might frighten the children and cause the women to faint, I have to tell you that picture reflected in those glass torture devices was frightening on a scale that I have difficulty describing. ("Scale" ... did you catch that clever use of comparative analogy?)

Aside from the pure vanity aspect however, I should point out that my blood pressure is a little high, as is my cholesterol and my blood sugar. My doctor isn't counting me out yet, but she is shaking both her head and her finger at me. If I don't do something soon, my only alternatives will involve medications (none of which contain mood enhancing chemicals dammit).

Just as I was about to embark upon yet one more attempt to lead a healthier lifestyle however, I was stopped in my tracks. Perhaps this was not the best time after all. Perhaps in light of the current financial crisis, I should hold off just a bit longer, while pumping money into the economy through the purchase of mass quantities of snacks with no food value at all. Perhaps, other than my normal lack of will power, there was a more than valid reason to wait before attempting improvement to both my health and appearance. Yes, I will wait just a bit longer before going on the diet that I know is necessary, for while continuing my these bad habits ...

I am too big to fail.

This of course, means that I retain some chance of a government bailout. Heck with Henry Paulson on the job, there is every reason to believe that I might be on a short list. Oh, I'm not really sure that I would take one if offered, but I will never be able to prove that I am above such temptation unless I keep the option open. I guess that the diet will just have to wait until January 20th, when the new team takes the field. So in the meantime, pass the egg nog and the Christmas cookies over here, I'm feeling a bit peckish. 

Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, and safe and prosperous New Year! 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Three Wise Men

There will apparently be three new wise men (or women in at least one case) heading to a seat of power this Holiday season. These will not be coming from the East to pay homage at the birth of the Messiah however (no matter how often that little chestnut has been roasted during this election season). Rather they will be making a journey to a different kind of seat of power in Washington DC. You see, there are three Senate seats to fill because of the election of 2008:

Senator from New York - since Hilary Clinton has been appointed to the position of Secretary of State

Senator from Delaware - since Joe Biden will be taking the position of vice-president of the United States

and Senator from Illinois - since Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States

Senator Clinton's seat appears to be now coveted by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F Kennedy and niece to Sen. Ted Kennedy of MA and of Sen. Robert Kennedy who previously held the seat. While Ms. Kennedy has not served in government prior to this, she is a lawyer and has worked behind the scenes in a number of charitable organizations over the years. Besides, with the Kennedy name behind her, there is a great deal of sentiment out there saying that it is an inherited title. It will be difficult for the the NY governor to appoint anyone else if she is truly interested in this position.

Senator Biden's seat looks to be going to Edward Kaufman, his long time chief of staff. Kaufman, aged 69, appears not to be seeking the position in order to be able to run for it again in 2010 from the position incumbent (something rather unusual in itself). Instead, he appears to want to be a placeholder for Beau Biden, the current Senator's son, who would like to run for the office but is currently fulfilling an obligation with the National Guard unit currently deployed in Iraq.

Senator (and now president elect) Barack Obama's seat appears to be for sale, or at least it was until Governor Rod Blagojevich got caught trying to put it up for bid (perhaps he would have done better just putting it up on Ebay). As a consequence of the governors recent arrest on Federal charges, it may in fact be a while before a candidate able to escape the taint of the process emerges for this seat.
I point to these three positions to once again shine a little light on the election of hope and change in 2008. 

Even those of us who didn't vote for the president-elect couldn't help but wish that some part of the promise of hope and change that were the message of Barack Obama would actually be fulfilled. Unfortunately, it appears that government will be business as usual, at least as it applies to filling these positions. Once again, we are treated to the backroom shenanigans of the power brokers in politics, and a healthy does of nepotism, elitism, and cronyism.

Caroline Kennedy may be a good person, but has no prior experience in government before taking one of the highest elected positions in the land. She is only receiving consideration because of the name recognition. Mr. Kaufman gets the nod as a payback for prior service and because apparently he has agreed to step out of the way when Joe Biden's son is ready to run for his father's current office. As for the Illinois situation, it speaks volumes about the politics as usual that know are prevalent on the national level and how they are taken to their most egregious level in the Chicago version.

I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same ...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Christmas List

Well it's a week before Christmas Eve, and I'll be damned if the Holiday didn't just sneak up on me once again. I know that I am supposed to be prepared for it, being a white bearded guy with an expansive waistline, but I have been spending a lot of time in the south instead of my normal haunts in the north lately and the help up there just isn't what it used to be (elves just don't seem to have the work ethic that they used to ... but at least they haven't organized yet). As a consequence, with just a few days left before the 24th, I am going over some of the names on "The List" a final time (twice just didn't seem to be enough this year) before making the required deliveries. 

There are so many names and gifts however and so little time that I thought I might enlist some help with some of them. So here's a few of my undecideds, perhaps I can get a little affirmation that what I'm doing is the right thing for these particular boys and girls:
  • President-elect Obama - Some new friends to hang out with whose reputations won't have a negative impact on his.
  • John McCain - A spine and a pair of brass ones. He appears to have lost his somewhere between getting the Republican nomination for president and today.
  • Joe Biden - Nope sorry, he already got it. Being vice-president is exactly what he deserves.
  • Sarah Palin - A gallon of industrial strength target remover. She seems to have run out.
  • Governor Rod Blagojevich - A haircut and a double dose of humility. He seems desperately in need of both.
  • Hilary Clinton - A leash
  • Bill Clinton - A collar
  • George Bush - A sunset to ride off into.
  • Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson - A case of Nytol. The only time he doesn't seem to be giving our money away is when he is sleeping, so more is better.
  • The Big 3 Automakers - A no-fault Nevada divorce from the UAW, with no alimony due.
  • The Congress of the United States of America - A full-sized copy of the Constitution for each of them, they seem to have forgotten what was written there.
  • The Newspaper Industry - An Irish wake. If we are to go down in flames, let it be with a bang and not a whimper.
  • Mayor Carlton S. Finkbeiner - Three cases of coffee cups. My understanding is that he likes to throw them when he gets mad and somehow I think he's going to need a few extra going into 2009.
  • Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop - A copy of the Ohio Revised Code and a book on quilting. Perhaps if he takes up a hobby, he will stop looking for ways to spend the money I pay in taxes on projects that state law makes no provision for.
  • The citizens of Toledo - 25,000 valid signatures on Take Back Toledo recall petitions for Mayor Finkbeiner. No explanation required.
Now I am sure that there are already some out there saying that some on this list might deserve only a rock of coal this year. While this is potentially correct, I am trying to be a greener gift-giver this year and reduce the carbon footprint of my gifts, so anything relating to fossil fuels was out. If however, anyone has alternate suggestions, they should feel free to help me out ... and remember, time is running short.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On The Other Foot

For those of you who somehow missed it, Iraqi TV journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi through his shoes at President Bush during a press conference held as part of a surprise visit to that city. A surprisingly nimble Bush dodged the shoe, sustaining no injury, and got on with the event. The reporter, not surprisingly, was detained by the Iraqi authorities.

The point of mentioning this is not that the Secret Service detail did not exactly perform its assigned duties in the most stellar fashion. (Oh that had to be a fun employee evaluation for a couple of people afterward.) It is also not a political comment on the President's standing in the Arab community in general, and Iraq in particular (though some would like to make it so). The point of mentioning this story is to point out the complete loss of objectivity in the press these days.

Not content to slant stories to a particular point of view while supposedly telling them objectively, no longer willing to simply tell the stories that illustrate a particular point of view, no longer happy to advance their own agendas rather than report the facts; reporters now feel the need to become the story, using action instead of argument to make their point. You might legitimately call this an isolated incident (so far) and believe this is not something generally expected from the press, but Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based newspaper A-Quds Al-Arabi rather than condemn the act, wrote that it was "a proper goodbye for a war criminal". Other members of the press in a show of support are calling for his immediate release.

If the mainstream media would like to know why their audience is deserting them, if they would like to know why they are held in increasing lower respect, if they would like to know why everything that they put forth is now questioned they have only to look at this incident. The line between journalism and editorializing has been further blurred. The truth of the matter is that line may have faded away completely, erased by those who were its guardians. But for today the story is not the press conference but the press itself, and the shoe is on the other foot (or at least it was until he threw it).


Sunday, December 14, 2008

The "Stuck On Stupid" Toledo Dictionary #14

Once again, we turn our attention to the curious tome known as the Stuck on Stupid Dictionary of Toledo. This growing piece of ... reference material (almost got you, didn't I) contains words nominally part of the English language, but which have special meaning in Toledo, Ohio.


1. The residential area outside of a city or large town.  
2. A pejorative expression that the mayor uses to describe a resident of such a residential area disagreeing with him or taking opposing view. 
3. A person of apparently no standing, intelligence, or class who likewise has no reason to be poking their nose into the affairs of the city of Toledo whether they do business in or pay taxes to that municipality or not. 


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Weekend Retreat

I was forced to halt my travels for the week after visiting a newspaper and a friend in Panama City, FL. As you can see from the picture, there are worse places to have to hang out for a couple of nights.

Before jealousy overcomes you however, and you begin to cast aspersions upon my name and what little reputation that I have left, remember that it is not summer here either. The high was only in the upper 50's today, and if I decide to walk the beach (and trust me, I will), I will probably be doing it with a jacket on. 

Besides, after driving over 2000 miles since last Sunday (and having managed to negotiate a pretty damn good room rate here), I figure that I am due a day on the beach to recharge the batteries.

TFP Column

After missing a week, I have once more had a column accepted by editor in chief Michael Miller at the Toledo Free Press (Please pause for the playing of "Hail to the Chief"). This week's effort is my own poor commentary on one of the most exciting things to hit Toledo since ... well, since the Toledo Free Press entered the scene. That of course being the "='Take Back Toledo' effort that was announced in last week's edition. I won't spoil the surprise for those of you who haven't been exposed to this effort, but I hope that you enjoy my particular take on it.

While visiting the TFP website, I encourage you, as always, to take the time to catch up on all of the news that is fit to print in Toledo and Northwest Ohio, as well as some of the first class editorial work that the TFP is becoming known for (no thanks to me).


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The "Stuck On Stupid" Toledo Dictionary #13

Maggie Thurber, of the famous "Thurber's Thoughts", has presented your humble lexicographer (look it up yourself, I had to) with an interesting challenge in one of her most recent postings for the SOS Dictionary.

For those of you unfamiliar with this hallowed tome, it is a compilation of words and phrases nominally part of the English language; but with special use and meaning here in Toledo, Ohio.

Never being one to be able to turn down a meaningless (ironic choice of words, don't you think?) and pointless challenge, I have attempted to rise to the occasion. Here therefore, is our most recent addition:  


1. A group of people secretly uniting in a plot (such as to overthrow a government).
2. A group of people publicly uniting (through the use of a website, published materials in local media, and announcements on local radio and TV stations) in an attempt to take back the government of Toledo from a previously formed cabal.  
3. The previously formed group of people who have been manipulating that same local government from behind the scenes and in secret for many years. (Is it just me, or does there seem to be a certain level redundancy to these definitions?)

Oversight Is Overlooked

As everyone is well aware of by now, Congress passed a massive $700,000,000,000.00 (the number looks as scary as it actually is if you use all the zeros) bailout program to keep the US financial system from suffering a catastrophic crash. In pushing through this emergency legislation, Congress insisted that officials be named to act as a watchdog for the taxpayer's money. 

Each House of Congress had its own version of this watchdog function and it's own unique way of selection. Now that we are fully two months into the full-scale "bailing" and with nearly half of the $700 Billion allocated, I thought that you might be interested in hearing how those Congressional watchdogs were doing in the performance of their duties.  

The Senate Monday approved the appointment of a federal prosecutor to be a special inspector general for oversight of the bailout. The vote on that appointment was delayed by two weeks by the anonymous hold of a member of the Senate, but even if this act of unadmitted cowardice had not occurred, it would have taken six weeks after the money was approved and was being handed out for the Senate to get around to the vote to approve a watchdog.  This doesn't mean that anyone has actually been appointed yet, that a staff has been assembled, data collected, or that the actual work had begun; only that someone can now be appointed to the position.  

The House on the other hand chose to appoint a five member special oversight panel in late November. This group of fiscal sentinels has met only once to date since being formed. Thus far, the only results of their meetings is that one of the five has already quit their job. Their first report on their efforts was due out yesterday, so we will have to see how diligent in their assigned task they have been.  

Update: The Congressional Committee has released its reports, querying 10 the Treasury Departments decisions and asking if its strategies are "an adequate response to the financial crisis". (Pretty good for two months and one meeting.)  

Let me repeat for those of you who missed it earlier, HALF OF THE MONEY HAS ALREADY BEEN HANDED OUT! As we now look forward to Congress passing their bailout of the automobile industry, and appointing a "car Czar" (Is anyone else concerned that we are naming this watchdog after a Russian ruler, whose title is taken from the Roman one of Caesar?) to be some part of the oversight of this $15 Billion, we have to wonder if they will do equally well in the assigned responsibility of guarding this money.  

Congress has proved itself a horrible watchdog of taxpayer money over the years, but has reached a new low in recent months. It is now little more than an fat and lazy hound, more worried about sleeping in the sun and its own food bowl than its responsibilities. Instead of removing our valuables from its care however, we seem intent on putting more of the family fortune in the care of this mangy mutt. Which forces me to ask the question:

How long will we overlook Congress's lack of oversight?


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bailing Out The Things We Need

I think that I have finally figured out the Congressional thinking on the penchant for government bailouts, and strangely enough the connection came to mind while watching an old Steve Martin movie, "The Jerk".

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot of this engaging little comedy, it is a 1979 Rob Reiner movie that follows the life of Navin R. Johnson, a white man adopted as a child by a southern black family. Johnson is an innocent and mostly clueless individual who blissfully stumbles through life until almost by accident becoming rich and famous by creating a ridiculous handle for eyeglasses called the "opti-grab". 

Unfortunately for our hero, his fame and riches are short-lived however, when it's discovered that his invention causes the people who use it to become cross-eyed. Naturally he is sued, and in the settlement our intrepid inventor loses everything that he owns. Despondent, he turns to drinking and begins a personal spiral downward. It is at that low point that we join Navin, as he decides to walk away from everything in his life, taking only what he deems necessary to survive.

"And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this." he says, picking up an ashtray. "I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair."

There it is in a nutshell folks ... Congressional thinking on solutions to the current financial crisis!

All we need to do is bail out the Wall Street firm Bear Sterns and that's it... oh and Goldman Sachs, we need to bail them out too, but that's all. Wait, we need to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac too, but just the the two Wall Street firms and the two mortgage groups ... oh and their insurance company AIG, but that's it. Just Bear Sterns, Goldman Sachs, Fannie and Freddie, and AIG need to be bailed out and that's all for sure. And the other banks, we need to bail them out too. But that's it, just the Wall Street firms, Fannie and Freddie, AIG, and the banks ... oh and the Big 3 of the auto industry. We need to bail them out too, but that's it. We just need to bail out Bear Sterns, Goldman Sachs, Fannie, and Freddie, AIG, the banks, GM, Ford, and Chrysler; but that's all we need to bail out...

And once again, the truth proves to be even stranger than fiction. Once more we find ourselves confronting a reality far more ridiculous than the anything ever produced in Hollywood. Isn't it sad (and sadly fitting), that our elected leaders can be summed up so completely by a fictional character of no intelligence and little common sense? Isn't it amazing that our government's solution to what may be the most critical problem of our age seems to be coming out of a slapstick comedy from almost 30 years ago? Don't laugh through your tears too quickly yet my friends. It is after all, your money that they are using to make these bailouts and it appears that Congress hasn't made it completely out the door yet. I wouldn't be surprised if they found a couple of more things that they "need" to add before they finally walk away. 


Sunday, December 7, 2008

The "Stuck On Stupid" Toledo Dictionary #12

I apologize for being remiss in not making regular additions to this definitive tome of translation for the language spoken in Toledo. Other responsibilities have taken far too much precedence. I promise to be more diligent in the future however and will attempt not to let earning a living further get in the way of such higher purposes. Here are some new entries for you however.


1. A hostile act or exchange of acts committed in a vengeful manner.  
2. An act of retaliation or revenge perpetrated by anyone who attempts to redress the ills committed by the mayor of Toledo.  
3. The response to any such action by both the mayor and the local daily newspaper, such response to be carried out with the full force and power of every branch of said government and both the news and editorial sections of said newspaper.

1. One who calls for or directs organized cheering.
2. A semi-deranged politician whose maniacal rants prove that he is in desperate need of medication adjustment. Vocalizations of such an individual need not follow proper sentence structure, proper grammar, or even make sense while illustrating the emotional state of this obviously unbalanced politician. 


Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Writer

Like most, I was subject to grand aspirations in my youth. Hockey player, astronaut, scientist, actor, and teacher were all on my list at one time in my life. I even thought that I had a calling to be a Catholic priest until the implications of a life of chastity managed to penetrate the raging hormones controlling my body at the time. 

One thing that remained constant through all of those periods however was my desire to be a writer. Writers were cool guys who smoked pipes and wore tweed jackets and spoke intelligently and eloquently on a wide ranging number of subjects. Writers lived in exciting places, knew interesting people, and collected neat stuff (like Clive Cussler's car collection). Writer's worked long hours, but didn't have to go into the office and usually didn't have bosses. 

To seek that particular goal, I did what you were supposed to do and wrote. Bad poetry, pointless essays, and nonsensical short stories, I wrote them all. I even fancied myself a lyricist, and attempt to become the Bernie Taupin of my time. (Bernie Taupin, for those of you who don't know, wrote many of the lyrics for Elton John's most famous songs.) 

Fortunately for the reading public, none of those efforts were ever brought to light. As I grew older and gained the responsibilities of family and job, these aspirations were set aside in the interest of doing what was necessary to provide for my family and advance my career (such as it was). In those days the only thing that got written were business proposals and the endless reports that make so many jobs all but unbearable. Writing then was a burden, and projects were taken on with the same sense of dread that a visit to the dentist usually engenders. 

Eventually however, I reached a point where I was writing technical manuals when called for. Later I began to write some of the advertising copy for the companies that I worked for and I found myself bitten by the writing bug again. When personal circumstances provided me with far more free time than I wanted, I found myself filling that void with writing, even managing to produce of work of novel length if not publishing quality. 

Change continued, and while most of that free time thankfully disappeared, the writing continued, with this blog fulfilling my need to write things that I felt were worth sharing. I would love to tell you that all of these efforts were brilliant, but they weren't. Some of them at least reached the level of clever however, and I believe that the gaps between those clever efforts is not as great as they once were.  

The reason that I bring all of this up this weekend is that I just submitted my first invoice for the columns that I have been writing for the Toledo Free Press. In addition to being willing to print what I write, the TFP has likewise agreed to pay me for my efforts. It's not a lot of money, but then again, I'm not that much of a writer. 

So while I didn't manage to become an astronaut, a teacher, or a priest (something for which I feel my children and grandchildren might be grateful for), while I don't smoke a pipe (at least not when a cigar is close at hand), and I don't live in an exciting place (though it is occasionally interesting), I believe that I have crossed a threshold. For when they pay you for it, you are indeed a writer.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The New, New Deal

I was listening to the president elect outline the beginnings of his economic plan. This plan, for those of you who haven't been paying attention, proposes to create (or save) 2.5 million jobs by building roads, bridges, and schools; while also focusing on alternative energy and more efficient cars.  Now a couple of things seemed kind of funny about this to me, so being the kind of person that I am, I had to sit back to think about it.

My first concern was pretty obvious, and it was because of all the comparisons that the media made to this economic plan and FDR’s New Deal. For those of you who don’t spend far too much time reading history books (or watching the History Channel), the New Deal was a series of programs instituted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt between 1933 and 1936 in an attempt to turn around the country during The Great Depression which began with the stock market crash of 1929. FDR’s programs provided jobs for many people who needed them at the time by massive infrastructure projects like building dams, roads, and bridges. 

Of course this New Deal also created the foundation of the welfare state, strengthened the union’s position in collective bargaining, and created Social Security (but that’s a topic for another day and posting). While these programs did provide jobs for many out of work Americans, they did not however end the Great Depression. Many historians in fact believe that these programs in fact delayed the recovery of the American economy through its interference; and that the Depression only ended when the country entered World War II and went into a wartime economy. 

The second part of this second New Deal is that the infrastructure jobs being proposed seem to me to be predominantly union jobs. Road and bridge repairs are usually done by unionized workers at each state’s respective Department of Transportation. School’s are usually built under government bids, which in non-right to work states like Ohio means that they must pay “prevailing wage” (union scale) and in some cases, must be performed by union workers. The money proposed for creation of fuel-efficient vehicles will undoubtedly go to the Big Three, and not overseas manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan, and KIA (who already make such vehicles). 

As a consequence, this money will make its way down to union auto workers. Quite frankly, the only part of this package that doesn’t seem to make its way directly into the hands of union employees is that being directed to alternative energy. I’m not an expert on the subject of alternative energy companies (or anything else for that matter), but based on the other programs I am forced to conclude that I have simply not figured out the union connection to this part of the program and not that there is none. 

I would like to see the president-elect and his economic team come up with some bold new economic initiatives. I would like to see this new administration successful in stimulating the economy, and ending the recent downward spiral. I would also like to see something come from government other than handing out taxpayer dollars in programs designed to benefit only a select type of worker (and I think you know what I mean). I would like our president-elect to show us some real change instead of trotting out tired "old" ideas that didn't work when tried under similar circumstances before I was even born. 


Saturday, November 29, 2008

The New Political Diet

While recently reading the post of fellow blogger Maggie Thurber on this year's Food Stamp Challenge, I decided to throw up one of my usual semi-pointless and cheesy comments. Then I realized that there might actually have something in what I was saying. 

You see politicians love the kind of challenges that allow them to hold press conferences (almost as much as they like the press conferences themselves). With the election over and no one due to take office for a month or so, there is little reason for such events, and nothing for them to say in front of microphones and reporters. 

This situation is probably unacceptable to our representatives in government, so I would like to inject an opportunity for them to once again seek a little public attention by accepting the challenge that I propose: It is that each politician agree to discuss a given subject of their choice (or all of them if they're really a glutton for punishment) for a week without the sentimentality that normally dominates their remarks during public appearances. No compassion, no tugging at the heartstrings of the voters, no appealing to our "better angels"; just (as they used to say on "Dragnet") "the facts, ma'am". 

I wonder if they could do it? I wonder if they would bother to do the work and research required to speak intelligently on nothing but facts without falling back on spin, trite phrases, and emotional appeals? I wonder if any could or would stand in front of reporters and speak from the head and not the heart.

It would certainly be refreshing, wouldn't it? It would in fact be the equivalent of the Atkins diet of politics. Nothing but the protein of facts, without the double helping of emotional carbohydrates and fat. A true performance of the Aristotelian method of discussion based on empirical evidence, common sense, with arguments laid out in simple symbolic logic.  

Perhaps, in light of the fluff and nonsense that we were handed leading up to the election, we are actually owed a bit of this. Perhaps just once in our lives, we could be trusted with common sense instead of compassion, the facts instead of the truth. Perhaps beyond hope and change, there is fact and reason that may yet reveal itself.  

So as we all attempt to recover from our over indulgences during Thanksgiving dinner, still parked in a recliner watching football games as we pound down a double helping of left over stuffing, I ask you to consider such a parallel universe. As we attempt to choke down yet another turkey sandwich we don't need while nodding off during a TiVo replay of the Macy's Thanksgiving parade (which they've ruined completely by the way, but that's for another day), I ask that you let such thoughts bring a smile to the place between those now chubby cheeks. As we lay down to sleep, with that last slice of pumpkin pie as our final conscious thought of the day, I ask you to use your imagination in dreaming about such a world.  

I suspect that most of our current crop politicians would starve on such a diet, even if we could get them to take such a pledge (OK probably not, but we could hope anyway). Doing so however, might at least provide the opportunity to reduce some part of the dead weight that we currently put up with in politics.


Friday, November 28, 2008

TFP Column - How the Government Stole Christmas

For those of you not lucky enough to live in the Toledo are (yeah, right) and therefore unlucky enough not to receive the Toledo Free Press, I thought that I would further reduce your lottery winning chances by posting this link to my column in this esteemed publication. I hope you enjoy it.

There are as always, many interesting things in the TFP this week; though Michael Miller's interview with Scott Adams, the creator of one of my favorite comics "Dilbert" was certainly an unexpected jewel for me this week.

TFP Column - The Big Three Bailout

While the Toledo Free Press Website is back up and functioning, my column from last week no longer appears in the online edition (maybe they are getting wiser about the burden that they are willing to place on their readership). At any rate, I have had numerous requests (OK, a couple from family members) to permit those of you outside of the circulation area of the TFP to see one of my more venomous rants. I hope that it gets you as stirred up as I am about this.  

Following a series of disturbing clues, I was finally able to decipher the secret message in the “DiVinci Code” from the latest puzzle of the current bailout program(s). It came as Congress, currently in lame duck session (a strangely appropriate term considering), and in the midst of its seemingly non-stop effort to throw good money after bad, was trying to decide whether they should funnel additional bailout money into the auto industry. Surprisingly enough, they couldn’t. 

Make no mistake; the auto industry is going through tough times. Consumer cash and the credit to finance major purchases is in short supply and the brief but abrupt rise in gasoline prices has forced consumers to reconsider their purchasing decisions. Not surprisingly as a consequence, sales of cars are down. 

These bleak financial conditions are further exacerbated for automakers GM, Ford, and Chrysler because of their poor decision to manufacture big cars, SUV's, and big pickup trucks; vehicles which fit neither the current consumer’s fuel efficiency requirements, nor their depleted budgets, but do have a higher profit margin for manufacturers. 

Do not fear for our intrepid US auto manufacturers however, as the Federal government had already decided to make $25 billion available to the US auto industry to retool itself in order to meet the CAFÉ standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) that these car makers claim is one of their biggest problem. Not content with this piddling amount however, they came to beg for another $25 billion (and probably more later); saying without it that they might not survive, and that 2.6 million jobs may disappear. (Can you say doomsday threat?) 

This additional money is not for additional retooling however, to build manufacturing plants utilizing the latest in labor-saving technology (something mostly forbidden to them in the US by current labor contracts), or even to provide them with capital for the massive change to their business plans that's undoubtedly required for their survival. Amazingly, the bulk of this money appears to be needed to cover the pension and medical funds of union workers, current and retired. After much debate and negotiation however, the vote on their bailout has been delayed this week to provide the automakers time and opportunity to provide something that looks like a business plan. 

Their plight will then be taken up after Thanksgiving in Senate committee review, and relief undoubtedly provided in some form using part of the original $25 billion in special session. They will then get to make their case for even more cash with the new Congress next year. Let’s be clear however, about the fact that this bailout has little to do with the continued operation of these US automakers (as opposed to all of the other automakers in the world currently operating manufacturing plants in the US and employing non-union US workers in those plants)

This bailout is little more than a quid pro quo by a bunch of politicians attempting to prop up the unsupportable pension and medical plan of unions who have supported them through yet another election cycle. Worse, it’s a poorly hidden attempt to tell taxpayers that they should willingly hand over this cash knowing that it will undoubtedly raise taxes, increasing the odds that they will have to look forward to retiring on little more than the pittance provided by what is an all but bankrupt Social Security System and hope to survive on whatever level of medical care is capable of being doled out by a Medicare / Medicaid Program already strained past the breaking point. 

They should do this so that union auto workers can sleep safer at night, knowing that they will have bullied the elected representatives of those taxpayers into supporting what for them will be a much more comfortable level of retirement and better grade of medical care (you know, like Congress gets), negotiated at almost the point of a gun with their former employers and now ultimately funded at the expense of their fellow citizens. Based on this new found revelation, the secret message of the puzzle is obvious for all but the most gullible to decipher. It reads that "The Big Three really means: U A W”. 


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I will once again be celebrating Thanksgiving this year in Kansas City again. Doing this brings mixed feelings this year, as the joy of being with family is tinged with some sadness, revisiting a rather sad anniversary for the Higgins clan. You see, it was right before Thanksgiving last year that my father passed away. That single event will forever change that nature of this holiday for me, but does not in any way take away the point of the day, or the concept and need of giving thanks in my life. You see:
  • I am thankful that I was able to get back to speak with him one last time before the end.
  • I am thankful for the inspiration that he provided to me on both a personal and professional level.
  • I am thankful for all of the things that both he and my mother taught me about the truly important things in life.
  • I am thankful that I will able to get back to KC and be with my mother, sisters (and their families), and one of my sons for this year's holiday.
  • I am thankful for the health and prosperity of my family and friends this year.
  • I am thankful for the opportunities that have opened up for me in the last year.
There are of course, a few things of a less serious nature that I am likewise thankful for:
  • I am thankful that the election is over and that my future expenses in duct tape will be reduced (at least until January).
  • I am thankful that I live in a country capable of surviving the choices that it makes each Election day.
  • I am thankful that the newspaper industry has survived yet another year (though not by much).
  • I am thankful that Michael Miller has not recovered his senses and continues to print the columns that I write.
  • I am thankful that one of my sister Maureen will be responsible for cooking Thanksgiving dinner. (While I am capable of doing so, I am also honest enough to admit to being lazy and dodge the responsibility.)
I am also thankful for all of you out there reading this blog. It has become rather an obsession for me over time, and has contributed to some of the opportunities that I spoke about. Without the support, help, and feedback from many of you, there is no telling how far down the path of degradation it and I would have otherwise gone.
Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas Is Coming

Well Halloween is over and the election behind us. So here in November, before we even get a chance to sit down and enjoy our Thanksgiving turkey, we can turn our thoughts to ... Christmas.  Yes, even though it's weeks away, we must now all turn our attention to consumerism and profligate spending in the hopes of giving every national department store chain a profitable fourth quarter. 

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Department stores or profit, and I certainly don't have anything against Christmas; but I just got done being bombarded with political commercials leading up to the election and I would have preferred a short break before having it replaced by endless advertising for the latest big toy(s). 

As for some of the other commercials, don't even get me started. I have had up to here with the ham-handed bludgeoning that masquerades as marketing campaigns in commercials trying to convince me that my loved ones will only be satisfied on Christmas by jewelry with large diamonds, a big screen TV, or a new car. (Of course if someone wants to leave that 42" flat panel under the tree for me, that's OK.)  

My few consolations in the coming weeks will be presentations of "A Charlie Brown Christmas", "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (I just love that elf dentist), and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", along with a few of the great old black and white movies like "Holiday Inn", "A Christmas Carol" (almost every version), "It's a Wonderful Life", and " White Christmas". In between, I will overdose myself with with egg nog and cookies, and frequent repititions of all of the Mannheim Steamroller offerings and the James Taylor Christmas albums (I also have the soundtrack for Charlie Brown Christmas, but that's for special occasions) in the hopes of working up the proper state of mind. I likewise hope to find not just consolation, but indeed real joy in being able to visit with both children and grandchildren through the holiday season, though schedules these days are often more complex than any of us would like. 

For it is only through the eyes of children (and especially grandchildren) that we truly understand the magic of Christmas. It is in their perfect happiness and wonder on Christmas morning that we get past the embarrassment of the Christmas party miscues, the insanity of Christmas shopping, and the anxiety that we feel over the added calories from a Christmas dinner or the candy that we pilfer from stockings.

 But before I can begin to fully get myself in the spirit of the Holiday however, I must take a deep breath. Before I can take my place once again as the jolly old guy with a beard and a weight problem, I must find some serenity. Before I begin to obsess over my shopping list and have to brace myself for a trip or two to shopping malls that qualifies as torture under the rules of the Geneva convention, I must find a little piece of mind. While I do that, let me take just a moment to wish all of you some of the same. I have a feeling that we'll all need it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

TFP Column: Big 3 Bailout


The TFP website was down earlier in the day and is evidently slowly rebuilding, so the column is not currently available. I will update this again when all things are back up and running. (Geez, I hope it wasn't my stuff that broke it.)

Once again, the Toledo Free Press has will be sharing with an unsuspecting public, information that I feel is also worth sharing with you here on Just Blowing Smoke. This week's column, on the Big 3 Bailout may prove of interest to you.

As always, while at the TFP website make sure to check out everything in the online edition and become fully informed and enlightened on the week's events in Toledo and Northwest Ohio.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Bailout Plan

With the increasing pressure to add GM, Ford, and Chrysler to the list of companies that need to be bailed out, I began to ask myself: "Who should be bailed out?" Now not being an expert in economics or government, I decided to look for alternate reasons for who should be bailed out and why. In the end, I realized that like government, I should use arbitrary and irresponsible guidelines for such critical path thinking.

Here therefore are my list of companies that should receive multi-billion government bailouts, based on nothing but their importance to me personally. (Please note that I am not saying that any of these companies actually need bailing out, but when have I ever let logic like that ever get in the way of my decision making processes?):

Google - For no other reason than that they provide me the platform (Blogspot) to spew this nonsense upon an unsuspecting public. Blizzard Entertainment - The creators of World of Warcraft (one of my other sources of non-productive entertainment) to insure that this source of significant wasted hours in my life remains available to me.

Dell - The choice of manufacturer is arbitrary; but without some form of computer, it would be impossible to use either of the above.

Cigar Manufacturers / Retailers - For without out them, how would I blow smoke?

California Wine Growers / Wineries - Hey, you need something to sip while smoking a cigar and playing WOW or writing a blog posting.

Coca Cola & Pepsi Cola - Man does not live by wine alone.

AM Radio Stations - For I am well and truly addicted to talk radio.

Yum! Brands Inc. - You probably don't recognize this company, but they own the franchises for Taco Bell, KFC, A&W, Pizza Hut, and Long John Silvers. That should keep me in fast food even if McDonalds falls.

Kroeger - OK, I will concede that I probably need a grocery store around to buy food not found at the fast food places listed above (you know, like snacks and the previously mentioned Soda and Wine).

This list is by no means complete, and I am sure that others will come to mind over time. There may also be worthy and valuable inclusions from readers out there that I have simply overlooked, so please feel free to suggest.

Please note that while being completely self-serving in my list, I do not mention my employer in this list. While I am relatively sure they would accept the money if offered, I will not mention for them out of a fear of losing the checks that keep me bailed out from week-to-week.

Monday, November 17, 2008

TFP Column: COSI II - The Wrath of Con


I was incorrect in my earlier posting on my submissions to the latest edition of the Toledo Free Press, when stating that I would have a column in this week's edition. In fact I have two pieces in this week. I spoke to Michael Miller about the dangers that such a large dose of my particular brand of nonsense might have, and I was assured that my previous submissions had already probably immunized TFP readers to any potential contamination. (Besides, what would make me think that anyone was actually reading anything that I had written anyway.)

The first of these columns is on a continuing subject of interest to me - COSI, is posted in the exclusively online version of the TFP. If not informative, you may find it at least amusing. The second has to do with my review of the Election of 2008, and what it's results means to me. This particular bit of wisdom will be available in only the print edition this publication.

If you visit the TFP website to read one or both of these offerings, I again remind you to avail yourself of the additional wisdom contained there again this week, as there are much smarter people than me who have worked very hard in attempting to keep you informed about Toledo and Northwest Ohio.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fear & Consequence

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me an through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
Frank Herbert - Dune  

I can't tell you how many times over the years that I read this quote and this book while going through tough times, and it has come back to me in recent days. No, I'm not talking about the results of the presidential election (though they were kinda scary in any number of ways)

We've survived good and bad presidents in the past (yes, and both are equally dangerous) and we will make it through the time of this one regardless of his abilities. My concern is more about the overall direction that we appear to be taking the country. I am afraid of the power, influence, and control that we the American people appear to be willing to grant to the government over their lives. This is not an America involved in a World War, when the entire economy is gearing itself to the effort of winning a war, but more simply an America that does not understand the concept of consequences.
  • There are no consequences to a business that makes poor business decisions and fails.
  • There are no consequences to a company who fails to heed the changing marketplace.
  • There are no consequences to organizations who hand out lavish compensation to a senior management who is in the process of bankrupting that same company.
  • There are no consequences to unions who negotiate contracts that they know will kill the companies that they work for.
  • There are no consequences to stock brokers who push a stock knowing that it's value is wildly overrated.
  • There are no consequences to a person who buys a house that they cannot afford.
  • There are no consequences to a person who spends themselves into crushing debt that they will never be able to get out of.
  • There are no consequences to a government which expands its bureaucracy regardless of its inefficiency.
  • There are no consequences to a government who spends more money than they can ever take in to provide benefits for which they have no mandate for.
  • There are no consequences to a government which robs money supposedly secured in one part of the budget to pay for things from another part of it because they have squandered all that they had there.
  • There are no consequences to legislators who betray the very principles of the government and the people that they represent in their never-ending grab for power.
Yet even while these fears grip me, I have hope as well. Hope in the indefatigable nature of the human spirit, hope that we can yet stop before we go too far down the path we are looking at, hope we can return to the freedom and self-sufficiency of our Founding Fathers, hope in the innate common sense of the American people. It is this hope that sustains me and allows these fears to pass through me until only I remain. As incurable romantic however, there is one fear and one hope that never entirely leave me. The fear is that I will finish my days without once again seeing true love in another's eyes. The hope is that I am wrong. 

Awww, isn't that sweet ...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fairness Or Pornography

Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-NY) has come come out strongly in favor of The Fairness Doctrine.“I think we should all be fair and balanced, don’t you?” he said during an election day interview on Fox News. Encouraging the FCC to move forward with enforcement (which may be a bit premature since the FCC has no legal mandate to do so), he compared insuring such fairness to regulating pornography on the airwaves, and called any other plan "inconsistent".

 Now I'm not the experienced politician that Mr. Schumer is, but I can't help but find his argument less than persuasive. In fact, one could make the argument that by Sen. Schumer's rules, the pornography that he brings to the table for comparison should have an equal place on the airwaves, something that I think that he and few others would concede. But such comparisons do little to advance the discussion on the Fairness Doctrine, and Sen. Schumer's argument is therefore nothing more than distracting. In fact, this argument is less about what goes out over the airwaves and more about who decides what goes out. 

Current law says that the Federal government owns the airwaves and grants licenses to companies to use portions of them. As part of that licensing the FCC created the Fairness Doctrine in 1949, a policy designed to insure that media outlets, which it considered public trustees, provided fair and balanced coverage to the most important issues of the day. 

The Fairness Doctrine was thrown out by the Supreme Court in 1987 however, mostly because it was not properly mandated by Congress. Congress hastened to correct that fact, but their efforts were vetoed by then President Reagan. It lately seems to be getting a lot of traction with Congress though, as the political left feels that talk radio is unbalanced in favor of the political right (while ignoring that the exact opposite appears to be the case on television). With a Democratically controlled House, Senate, and Executive branch apparently coming in 2009, it appears likely that some form of such regulation is likely to see the light of day soon. 

As for me, I would like to see as little government interference with what goes out over the airwaves as possible. With all of the choices in programming that are out there today, I have to think that there are more than enough alternatives available and that we the listening public have more than enough intelligence to choose which of them we will listen to. If you don't like what someone is saying, change the channel. If you think that it is wrong or objectionable, call the station and complain. If that doesn't work, call the advertisers. 

What you don't do is force a government to mandate its version of pornography, morality, or fairness on everyone as an alternative. For by such standards, one might equally argue that Christian radio stations be balanced by the opinions of those of the Jewish or Muslim faiths, or even that of the atheist; and be forced to broadcast them as a consequence (as someone, somewhere probably is).

Isn't the act of choosing in this case, more comparable to the right to assemble peaceably, something that is guaranteed to us in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution? Isn't listening to those we agree with, whether on a street corner, in a town hall, or on the radio very much in keeping with the precepts which the Founding Fathers laid out for us? Such freedom should not be taken lightly, nor subjected to the monitoring of a government agency. Before we go down that long, dark road, let me remind everyone of a couple of surprisingly intelligent things that some equally intelligent people have said over the years:  

"I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."
- Voltaire  

"The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." - Hubert Humphrey  

And one of my favorites, a great little line from a movie about the personal crisis and triumph of a liberal chief executive called "The American President",

"You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours."
- President Andrew Shepherd (as played by Michael Douglas)  

... that sounds fair to me.