Saturday, June 30, 2012

Profiled, Stigmatized, and Segregated

I've over the years grown used to the painful 'looks' that I've received when confessing to being a smoker (unless of course, they were simply gas).  Full confession of my cigar addiction only added insult to injury as sniffing often ensued to see if my garments  or person carried residue of the offending taint of the devil's weed.  Being a Curmudgeon however, their mostly unvoiced but palpable scorn was little more than a source of silent amusement to me. (Though I have to admit that from time to time you could hear me muttering sarcastic imprecations about the marital status of such people's parents.)  Strangely, few if any of those condemning me had in fact ever witnessed me carrying out my 'filthy little habit', and I found their antipathy without basis since they only had my word to go by (and we all know how suspect that can be).  Though branded in their eyes however, I found that carrying the stigmata of my scarlet letter ('C' for Cigar) has in fact for me been a badge of honor.

Instead of the sweet odor of my favorite Dominican tobacco, I found myself reveling in stench of the superiority which was wafted in my direction like an exotic perfume (OK, more like that old-people perfume that your aunt used to wear that made you gag a little bit.) from those looking down their wrinkled nose at me. (This was a face I was told never to make as a child, since it was not only impolite, but your face might get stuck that way.) I met their smug derision and raised them some innocuous unconcern and unmindful dismissal.  I smiled innocently (well, kind of) and gave back as good as I got while being profiled with the common stereotypes of history.  Without regard to my actual character (something which of course, we all know I lack), I was now lumped in with evil oil barons who hated the planet, uncaring corporate captains who treated their employees as chattel to be abused and expended for no better reason than profit, and bankers who gleefully raped and pillaged an unsuspecting public in the name of dividends.  (I was also sometimes compared to professional power brokers and fat cat politicians in Washington DC, but always refuted such comparisons vehemently.  One has to have limits to the insults one will tolerate, after all.)     

As time passed and the do-gooders continued to exert a strangle hold on what they at least considered polite behavior, I quietly accepted segregation from my fellow man and the rest of 'polite society' through banishment to sidewalks at pubs (except in NYC, where even that's impossible), hastily constructed patios at restaurants, and secluded and unobtrusive outdoor corners at public gatherings.  I blithely conceded that my place during breaks at work was near the 'butt bucket' in the parking lot, conveniently near the dumpster where the rest of what was deemed as trash was kept.  I even grudgingly acquiesced to a further degraded status, as many cigarette smokers looked askance at my particular form of tobacco addiction (perhaps much as I do now when contemplating the 'spit bottle' often carried by those enjoying a pinch).

Carrying a visible cigar in my pocket in public often made me the target of sidelong glances and whispered conversations until I began to wonder if open possession could be the tobacco equivalent of a loaded gun, and as such required some form of an open or concealed carry permit.  Not that I ever drew my 'weapon' from its cellophane holster in such places mind you, for on top of municipal and state legislation that prohibits such behavior in 'public'; I exercised a behavior that seemed unknown to many of those whose poorly guarded contempt I experienced .... common courtesy.

Though those surrounding me didn't know it, my 'pocket rocket' was in fact there for the specific purpose of partaking of some quiet reflection after experiencing their often condescending company, enjoying a little bit of much-needed stress relief from their subtle aversion, and removing the bitter taste of their derision from my palate.  I often wondered how many of them would react if they knew that that which they so detested was the cathartic tonic that I required for their barely concealed contemptuousness.  I couldn't help but find it quietly amusing that I achieved therapeutic benefits from that which they found unhealthy even by second-hand exposure. 

Well for those of you who hope that my latest attempts at a healthier lifestyle might find me seeing the error of my ways, let me disappoint you now by saying that a package containing three boxes of Dominican delectation arrived only recently from North Carolina.  This means that once again all three of my humidors are fully charged and loaded to capacity (and maybe even a bit beyond).  I therefore expect to be enjoying both them and the disparagement that goes with them for some time to come.  Having greatly reduced, if not all but abandoned many of the other bad habits that I've accumulated over the years, I can certainly find no compelling reason to forsake this one.

As a writer after all (or at least somebody who'd like to be one), I am supposed to be someone riddled with insecurity, depression, and a need to expose my troubled soul through the written word.  This would hardly be possible without some censurable pleasures to feel .... well, guilty about.  Furthermore, as at least a self-described Curmudgeon, it would hardly be fitting if I allowed the dictates of a society which I hold in almost as much disdain as it does me, to dictate my behavior.

So profile me as an 'evil smoker' if you will.  Stigmatize me if you choose, for not only a 'tobacco habit', but one even more foul smelling than its cigarette counterparts.  (Though just for the record, I'd like to say that a good cigar or pipe tobacco has a far better aroma than any cigarette that I've ever exposed my olfactory sense to.)  Segregate me from the company of my fellow man while partaking of my sinful pleasure if you choose to.  None of this will persuade me into changing my ways or prevent me from the enjoyment I experience in my evil custom.  Come to think of it, my antipathy for your aversion to one of life's truly enjoyable, but apparently guilty pleasures makes the smoke smell all the sweeter.

(And as for you Mayor Bloomberg .... Nyeh!)

Update (7/04/12):

The owners of my apartment complex sent around a little survey stating that they are considering the possibility of taking some or all of the buildings in the complex "smoke free" and asking me to fill out a survey as to whether I would be in favor of such a move.  Hmm ... I wonder what I should say and whether it would make any real difference in what they do? 

Boy, you bastards just never stop do you?:


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Big (and Maybe Bad) Week for SCOTUS

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced its immigration decision on Monday, pretty much gutting the Arizona law of the ability of charging those that they discover to be in country illegally and enforcing 'their' and the nation's border with Mexico.  Incongruously, it did so while simultaneously allowing State and Local law officials to check for proper immigration status while arresting people on other non-related charges.  The federal government immediately followed that announcement with one of its own, basically telling AZ that they (or anyone else) catching someone who's in the country illegally and not a wanted felon is not going find the Feds coming to get them or do anything about it.  

Now bank robbery is a federal and not a state crime, so one cannot but wonder if under SCOTUS legal logic, local police shouldn't bother much about it either.  (Besides, with the true value of money continuing to decline, the line between felony and misdemeanor bank theft is increasingly fuzzy.)  Kidnapping is also mostly escalated to a federal crime, so this may provide another rather gray area for local law enforcement's relationship with its federal brethren.  For those of you who capitalize both United and States when writing it, this can be read as nothing less than casting aside the Tenth Amendment, which should probably now read:

"Those powers not delegated to the United States (and of no real interest to them) nor prohibited by it to the States (or by Executive order, federal regulation, or the whim of the resident in the White House or his minions in Homeland Security or the DOJ) , are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people (until such time as the federal government shall take notice of them and decide otherwise)."

It's been a long time since State sovereignty has been dealt such a crushing blow, with the courts telling States in effect not to attempt to enforce federal laws created for their protection which were passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President (even if the Federal law enforcement  doesn't) and those Feds thumbing their noses and telling States "Nyah, Nyah, Nyah".  

Now I know that the President is in full campaign mode these days, and that perhaps making up percentage points in Hispanic districts might bolster the support that he's apparently lost from other groups in recent months.  I find it difficult to understand however that such a savvy campaigner as the President doesn't remember that Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California have about 104 electoral votes and might not be happy to see their States remain open battlegrounds (and not just for votes)

Now coming from Chicago, it's possible that the President has likewise forgotten that dead people (which the DOJ is simultaneously attempting to block being removed from voter rolls in Florida) and those here illegally are not allowed to vote (at least in theory); and so cannot help him, except perhaps with improperly documented campaign contributions. (Anybody checked lately to see what La Raza has kicked into the coffers?)


SCOTUS will likewise be releasing its decision on the Patients Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act on Thursday this week, with those on both sides of the issue salivating over the potential of demonizing a 'political court' and their political opposition.  While this may be a harder case to make for the federal government after getting their way in Arizona and regardless of the decision; the repercussions of this yet-to-be-released decision will begin and not end the process of what will come later.   No matter which way the decision falls, the fight will go on.  Few if any are talking about the fact that what has become known as Obamacare has a couple of provisions worth keeping if it's struck down, or a few that demand dismantling if it's retained.

That's the damn problem with these omnibus bills like PPAHA however.  Political parties get so wrapped up in having scored 'the big win' that they too forget the impact of their actions.  Bills with thousands of pages will never be fully read or understood until long after they've been signed into law.  By the time SCOTUS gets around to them (if they ever do), they have become like a diagnosed but untreated cancer, and have infected so much around them that their damage can never truly be reversed. 

Unfortunately, many of the same positive results of this unfortunate law could have been achieved if they had been sought through reform legislation specifically designed to address the most egregious issues only; and it's likely that they might have been accomplished with bi-partisan support.  That wouldn't have achieved the 'in your face' political victory for whichever political party is in power over their opponents however.  Besides, as they tell themselves by way of disingenuous apology, it's OK to throw all this shit onto the wall and see what eventually sticks.  After all, there's always SCOTUS to sort it all out. 

I don't know about you, but that kind of thinking is not only cowardly and a disgrace to the oath of office that each legislator took upon election, but is a shirking of their responsibilities on a scale that can only be responded to by chasing them out of office at the first available opportunity.

While we're at it ....  

Call me cynical, but it also seems almost cowardly of the nine Justices, all of whom sit with a lifetime appointment, to release such monumental decisions (decisions whose legal precedent will impact generations to come) only days before skulking out of town for their summer break.  I'm not saying that these decisions would likely have been more palatable if they had not come out until August or September, but I might have felt better about the Supreme Robes if I knew that they were sweating them out (literally and figuratively) in the heat and humidity of a Washington DC summer.  Considering the pain that's being handed out by this court of last resorts, I for one would feel better if I knew that they had suffered over the conclusions that they've come to.

Yes it's a big week indeed for the Supreme Court of the United States.  How bad a one it is for the citizens of this nation, we have yet to understand.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TFP Column: Careful Contempt

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted last week to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt.  Considering what appear to be the actions of the Department of Justice where the 'Fast and Furious' debacle is concerned, the DOJ's position on voter intimidation, and the rather pitiful game of politics that Holder's played with committee chairman Darrell Issa; contempt seems a rather mild criticism of the Attorney General.

Then again, it's hard not to feel equal contempt for a Congress that's done nothing to reduce debt, regulation, and encroachment on personal freedom since taking control.  One might in fact say that the only thing more contemptible than their pathetic efforts in the last eighteen months has been the level of success that they've had in achieving them.

So the question arises, how seriously can and should we take a contempt citation from such a Congress of the contemptible actions of the Attorney General and his legal Myrmidons?  Yeah, I'm not sure either; but I at least lay out the greater part of the facts surrounding the issue this week in "Careful Contempt" on the TFP website.

This early in the week, there's bound to be a number of things far less contemptible to read about as the week progresses (though the way City Council goes about its business lately, I can't be entirely sure); but the only way you're going to know that for sure is to read about them in both the mid-week 'Star' edition, and in Toledo's largest Sunday circulation and Ohio's best weekly newspaper for the last three years, the Toledo Free Press.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's Not The Heat, It's the Humility

Well the predicted high for Sunday here in beautiful Mission, Kansas is 102 degrees, but of course we get a bit of humidity here as well, so the heat index will probably be closer to 113. Now I know that's not a big deal in many places around the world, but here in the KC area, it's what we sometimes call "damn hot".  More than that however, it's uncomfortable for someone of my advanced years and calorically challenged condition.

That at least, is the conclusion that I've come to in describing the case for those of us who can only use the word 'fit' when describing the clothes that we used to wear, but which are too small for us now.  Or in my case, those of us for whom the term "smokin' hot" is only used to describe the lit end of the cigar often plugged into my pie hole.  Of course it would probably be far more comfortable in such conditions to find myself soaking in the local municipal pool; but a member of the male of the species participating in such activities is required to go 'topless' in public, and many would consider the exposure of so much pasty white flesh (which would likely turn rather quickly to the color of a well-cooked lobster) to be showing a lack of respect to fellow pool goers. As a believer in the rule of law, I might even go so far as to say that I have far too much respect for indecency laws in this country to go shirtless in such weather (or any other for that matter).

Respect is likewise part of the issue to be considered as I contemplate the humiliating effect that such an appearance has made on the shambles of my social life.  While I freely concede the idea that there are very few women compatible with the Curmudgeonly existence and stogie-smoking lifestyle that I enjoy these days, I am nevertheless not ready to rule out the possibility that (dare I say it) dating might yet lie in my future.  Such contemplations seem far less realistic however when I see the figure that I cut these days, unless of course the women in question were to be of the sort that have romantic fantasies of Sydney Greenstreet ("The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca), Orson Welles (from his Gallo wine days) or Lionel Barrymore ("It's a Wonderful Life").  

Then of course, one must consider the possibilities if such social interaction should follow its natural course.  There's always a chance, however unlikely, that romance might ensue.  Eventually such consideration seems doomed to run into a situation where the previously mentioned removal of a shirt (or heaven forbid, even more) rears its ugly head. A genuine respect for the fairer gender on my part could easily be seen as reason enough to prevent one of them from the sight of undress that such a situation could lead to, if not actually require. 

It's sometimes strange to consider the curious condition of this personal situation; as I was in my youth little more than a skinny, clumsy, tow headed rug rat.  In those days I consumed mass quantities of every sort of food group known to mankind without a care in the world, and without gaining enough weight to keep me upright in a strong wind. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I should note that this consumption was indeed prodigious, with the exceptions of uncooked tomatoes, cooked cabbage, and pickles.  Such discriminating taste convinces me not only of discerning judgment, but that I was never pregnant.)  During High School days I even took to the use of protein powder supplements in the hope of packing on enough weight to gain further stability on hockey skates, but never managed to satisfy either my coaches or myself and felt humiliated by my failure as a consequence.

These days however, it's the opposite.  Though a better cook than I am often allowed to prove, I use little of that training in the culinary arts; since calorie counting was never a part of the style in which I gained my knowledge.  Food preparation method not withstanding however, I seem to gain weight these days merely by looking at a recipe of ingredients, let alone actually preparing or eating them.  This is not to say that I don't occasionally sit down at the table with the rapacious longing of a python contemplating a meal larger than itself. (I saw this picture once on the Internet of this python that  had eaten an alligator ... oh, never mind.  Look it up yourself.)  Nor is this that I don't understand that the snake in question only eats once a week or so and I'm still pounding down two squares a day, but you get message.

The bottom line of such indulgence is that where once I was considered too small for the game of hockey, I now tip the scale far enough to place myself in the position of a large tight end or linebacker in football, and far too close to the scale (pun intended) which would allow me to take my place on the offensive or defensive line.  This in spite of the fact that I often find myself walking as much as 20-25 miles a week.  I am however, contemplating some rather serious lifestyle changes in the hopes of changing my attitude, my fortunes, and the numbers on the scale.  I won't go into detail on them now, but promise to annoy you with it in the future if these efforts begin to produce any worthwhile results.  

In the meantime however, I am bracing up for a weekend heat wave with all of the enthusiasm (and much of the size) of a beached whale.  And though the numbers on the thermometer do indeed seem high, they are are in fact paltry when considered against the one staring back at me when I can lean over far enough (without falling) to read the ones on the scale.  I have already promised myself not to slack off on my weekend routine of perspiring perambulation regardless of the temperature, moisture content in the air, or the volume of material required to decently cover myself.  The efforts of exercise are in fact those of self-improvement (OK, they're an excuse to smoke a larger cigar) and heaven knows I can use some improvement.  As for the relative discomfort involved, after having lived both here in the Kansas City area and in south Georgia; I believe that I can say with confidence that when it comes to the discomfort involved it's not the heat, it's the humility.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beyond "The Law of Averages"

I did a piece for the Toledo Free Press just a couple of weeks ago called "The Law of Averages".  In it I outlined a number of the different kinds of laws that members of a city council, a state legislature, or Congress can vote on. I thought that I had adequately covered the subject, but I was wrong.  Not normally prone to such admissions (except under torture), it's very hard and rather unusual for me to so quickly find fault with myself (see 'Signs of Ragnarok').  

In truly glaring fashion however, not only were there a couple legislative potentials that I missed, but my failures to definitively inform my readers have been rather glaringly pointed out in the news over the last week.  I have therefore decided (in true Catholic fashion) to confess my sins by citing my examples of this inadequacy, ask for forgiveness from you, and perform an act of contrition (yet to be determined).

Interestingly enough, two of the three examples of the failure I am about to cite do not involve the legislature at any level, but instead the Executive branch of government.  For while it's true that legislatures hold the power to create laws and Mayors, Governors, and Presidents hold a veto power.  Even that veto power can be overridden by a super-majority of law makers.  What cannot be overridden however is the executive branch at these levels simply telling those in change of a law enforcement to 'ignore' the law or regulation in question.

Take for example, the President's recent immigration initiative, which does not even rise to the level of an 'Executive Order', but merely an easing of enforcement of existing law.  And while many can say that this looks suspiciously like "The Dream Act", that was supported by the President, proposed as legislation, and which never passed both Houses of Congress; it's not.  

This 'policy' cannot be considered a law in any way, shape, or form; but is instead the nation's chief executive telling agencies under his authority to perform selective enforcement of laws legitimately passed by the national legislature.  These dictates will continue to hold force until the current or next chief executive sees fit to change them or Congress takes them up in session.  Some might consider such backdoor legislation arbitrary and extra-Constitutional; but unless enough legislators grow sufficient spine to challenge such practices, they hold as much force as any other legitimate legislation.

The second example of non-legislature legislation is the "Executive Order".  This is fact a legitimate ability of the chief executive at some levels of government.  The US President can, for example, issue Executive Orders which become law if unchallenged by the Congress within 30 days of the time they are issued (see the previous paragraph about spinal growth).  

Most of these Executive Orders are fairly innocuous and do little more than remove day-to-day details from Congressional consideration; with for example President Obama issuing one on May 21, 2012 'Providing an Order of Succession with the Department of Agriculture'(One can only imagine the chaos that might ensue if the Secretary of Agriculture were assassinated, and no one knew who should assume his authority.)   Others might be seen as a bit more overreaching, such as the establishment of the 'Global Development Council' on February 9, 2012 creating a special council on international trade; or the 'Adjustment of Certain Rates of Pay' order on December 19,2011 which allows the President to set pay scales for certain executive, legislative, and judicial positions.  But again, at least Congress has the right (if not often the will) to challenge Executive Orders and to pass laws they find more appropriate in their place.

(For those of you wondering who the President was who issued the most Executive orders, I can tell you that Reagan issued 380, Clinton 363, and George W Bush 291.  The big winner, not unexpectedly, is Franklin Delano Roosevelt; who from 1933 to 1945 issued an almost astounding 3,728.)

Now the final way to put laws into effect that I've been talking about are the 'regulations' put into effect by agencies full of un-elected bureaucrats.  It's true that agencies are normally created and budgeted in the legislature, but far more often than not, these Frankenstein monsters take on a life of their own, break free of their bonds, and proceed to rampage the countryside. 

This week the CATO Institute issued a Policy Analysis on a particularly egregious abuse of legislative authority contained the the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 (probably from a part of the bill that they didn't read even after they passed it, right Nancy).  In this policy analysis, CATO tells us of the "Independent Payment Advisory Board".

Now when a law is normally proposed, it's submitted in one House of Congress or the other (sometimes almost simultaneously); but it must be passed by both and submitted for the signature of the President in order to become law.  Even after such a signature is given, such laws can be reviewed and challenged in the judicial system, and struck down if they are found to exceed the authority of the government or in other ways be Unconstitutional.  Not so with those passed by IPAB.  According to CATO,

"Blocking an IPAB “proposal” requires at a minimum that the House and the Senate and the president agree on a substitute. The Board’s edicts therefore can become law without congressional action, congressional approval, meaningful congressional oversight, or being subject to a presidential veto. Citizens will have no power to challenge IPAB’s edicts in court.

Worse, PPACA forbids Congress from repealing IPAB outside of a seven-month window in the year 2017, and even then requires a three-fifths majority in both chambers… "

So, at least according to CATO, what the creation of this bureaucratic monstrosity means is that,

IPAB’s unelected members will have effectively unfettered power to impose taxes and ration care for all Americans, whether the government pays their medical bills or not. In some circumstances, just one political party or even one individual would have full command of IPAB’s lawmaking powers. IPAB truly is independent, but in the worst sense of the word. It wields power independent of Congress, independent of the president, independent of the judiciary, and independent of the will of the people.

Before such a bureaucracy truly comes into power and forbids anyone from saying anything against them, let me point out that the 'Law of Averages' dictates that Bureaucrats with that kind of power will abuse it (and us) sooner rather than later.  

You know, it's just possible that in pointing all of this out to you before it jumps up and bites you in the ass, I have in fact performed a true act of contrition.  So just in case this qualifies, "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa".


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TFP Column: The Perfect Issue

Being a news-junkie, I normally spend my Saturday mornings reading two newspapers, the Kansas City Star and the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal (I save the TFP for Sunday).  There was an interesting news story in the latter this week about a bicyclist in San Francisco being charged with felony vehicular manslaughter for allegedly running a red light and striking a pedestrian.  Having dodged a few of these two-wheeled felons over time myself (both on the roads and in the crosswalks), this story intrigued me long after I put the paper down.

Then it hit me!  If you took a city like Toledo, whose City Council is considering putting a Recreation Levy that has to eventually include bike paths, tossed in potential breakthrough legislation prohibiting bicycle texting, added a dash Eco-friendly and Recreation-friendly City Council activity, if you then mixed in a healthy dose of those revenue enhancing red-light cameras along with a pinch of licensing fees for bicycles, sprinkled on a few senior citizens, and added a few tears from that golden oldie 'if just one life could be saved'; you might just have created the recipe for "The Perfect Issue" in politics.  So that's what I wrote about for this week's TFP.

Countless studies, could be followed by endless debates (with politicians flip-flopping and holding logically inconsistent ideas); which in turn could be followed by a seemingly endless streams nauseating rhetoric and pages of useless legislation protecting seniors, bicyclists, and pedestrians (along with all of us in public not texting).  This could be as close to a legislative Nirvana (the place, not the band) as many politicians experience.

Speaking of which, it's still early in the week, and those of you attempting to experience the best of what's going on in Toledo and Northwest Ohio this week would be well-advised to catch up, both in the mid-week 'Star' edition Toledo's largest Sunday circulation and Ohio's Best Weekly Newspaper for the last three years, the Toledo Free Press.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day 2012

As like you, I gaze at this picture of my father reading one of these postings shortly before his passing, I realized it might be time to take up the still rather painful subject of Father's Day once again. Sitting down to write a bit on the subject is not easy, though there are certainly a number of things running around in the empty space between my ears (an area that scientists have in fact called as close to a perfect vacuum as they have ever seen).  Since it's a subject that I haven't taken up with original material in a couple of years, it's certainly one long overdue for such treatment. 

Dad's are important after all, in spite of the fact that Father's Day is for most of the nation little more than a second tier holiday.  It's certainly one without the stature and hype of Mother's Day (though it's still enough of a holiday to warrant its own mattress sales).  Ties sales leading up to it are not nearly what flower sales are for that of its female gender comparative (probably because ties have seen similar decrease in primacy ... another sad victim of the practice of 'Casual Friday' that has become 'Casual Every Day')

It used to be famous however, as the day on which the Bell Telephone company made fortune from having more collect long distance calls made than on any other day, though like Ma Bell that's mostly disappeared since the advent of cell phone packages. (That's right, go ahead and think about it for a minute and the reason will come to you.)  For me, the subject and the holiday take on three separate aspects that I suppose I need to address if this is to be a proper effort.  

The first has to do with the parents that my children have become.  I could not be any prouder of the father that my step-son Joe Highman has become with the three that he calls his own.  The testament to his (though I should perhaps say their) skills are the results that have produced with his wife Laura where Michael, Madeleine, and Andrew are concerned.  It therefore cannot go without saying that the natural pride of a grandparent in three pretty good looking and outstanding young people is doubled and redoubled in the recognition of the parenting skills of one who I once considered a child.   

My son-in-law Jim Demaria has likewise proved himself an able and loving parent.  With my daughter Laura, they have produced a couple of young ladies attractive enough to no doubt give their parents fits in the years ahead when dating begins.  These two grand-offspring are likewise a tribute (and because Jim is a professional photographer and documentary film maker, a well documented tribute) to the parenting skills of two very busy parents.  Their children are two very young people who will go far in life because of the upbringing that they continue to be provided with.

As for my son Sean ... while the only one of my offspring without any of his own, he is usually the beloved favorite of all his nephews and nieces; and seems to find endless amusement in their entertainment.  The talent therefore seems to be present, whether he chooses some day to use it in his own life or not.

The second aspect naturally enough, has to do with a look back on the parent that I have been in my life.  Now I have often believed that there were a number of skills that I possessed, but I can't recall that parenting was ever one of them. (Dancing was another skill in which I was totally lacking, but that's a tale for another day.)  I'm sure that such feelings are natural enough in any of us, and that there is a genetic component involved in feeling that we have somehow never done enough where our offspring are concerned.  In my case however, I found myself wrapped up in a career which now seems all but meaningless instead of in their lives the way I wish I had been.  I was likewise far too often checking up on them from a hotel room hundreds of miles away instead of tucking them in at night.  

I allow myself no excuses for my own lack of diligence in this critical part of my personal responsibilities; but gladly give due credit to the three good women involved with my children's upbringing. (As well as my two wives, I also acknowledge the influence of my own mother on them, especially on Sean and Laura in their early years.)  Again I point to the results of the efforts of these three women (that being three children that I couldn't be more proud of), who took up the slack from my slacking.  While I still don't see any of my progeny as much as I would like to, that I retain a good relationship with all of them remains a source of both relief and pride for me.  

No discussion of fatherhood would of course be complete unless I spoke of my own, one in which I was truly blessed.  I was raised by man who knew a life of responsibility and self-reliance, and did his best to pass it on to me.  In spite of spending most of my younger days working 3rd shift, he was still able to find the time to show me how to throw and catch a baseball or football (as much as my skills would allow anyway), how to cast a fishing line (without throwing the pole into the lake like some sisters I know), how to tune up a car (at least before they put computers on them), and how to build or fix damn near anything that I would ever need in life.  

Not having settled for providing more than the normal parental responsibilities, he went on to mentor and apprentice me in an industry in which he was a world-recognized expert.  Having presented me with the tools to earn my place in life, he went on later to open even more doors for me; becoming a co-worker, manager, and a unreachable goal of accomplishment to set my sights on.  No one was a more demanding task master, a more discriminating critic, and a more fierce advocate.  Though not perhaps a demonstrably affectionate man where I was concerned, there was never any question in my life as to the fierce love that was always there.   

As I write this morning in fact, I find myself all too keenly and painfully acknowledging the conversations that we can no longer have.

So it seems fitting that should once again end an effort on Father's Day with some of the wisdom that I believe he taught me, that I have shared here before, and that hopefully I too have passed on where it can do the most good: 

*  That honesty is the best policy, even if your only reward is that of self-respect.

That your word is your bond and everything else is just society's crap.

*  That your reputation is the only thing that you truly possess in life, so make sure you protect it. 

That if you work hard it will be rewarded, even if that reward is nothing more that knowing that you did your best.

*  That you will make mistakes in life, but they are rarely permanent; and that it's usually easier to fix them than to admit to them.

         Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy 5th Anniversary Just Blowing Smoke

It was on this date back in 2007 (the second date that will no doubt "live in infamy") that the first post appeared on this site from some writing efforts that I had been playing with in another venue.  I had been a long time away from writing anything more interesting than technical manuals and more meaningful than some brochure copy, so many of the early efforts were crude at best.  (Many say that my efforts often still resemble such pinnacles of literature.)

Now some five years later, I'm not sure that the writing has improved much; but the nature of the blog has certainly ... evolved (I was going to say 'matured', but we all know that such a term seldom if ever applies to JBS, and never to me). Here we are however, with well over 900 posts (some of them links to the over 100 efforts for the TFP), and having received over 34,000 pageviews in its lifetime, for some unaccountable reason "Just Blowing Smoke" yet remains.  

In fact, while this site averaged 700-800 pageviews per month for much of its history, it now unaccountably sees well over 3,000 for each lunar cycle lately.  It has even been getting some of that attention from places as far from Toledo, Ohio (where it began) and Mission, Kansas (where it's now produced) as Russia, China, Germany, Ukraine, The United Kingdom, France, The Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Venezuela, and Brazil (hope I didn't leave anybody important out); no doubt due to a general increase in the amount world lunacy today that I am eternally grateful for.     

In the Internet world, such numbers still mean that "Just Blowing Smoke" isn't one of the most popular sites on the web, efforts in it usually draw little if any attention in the larger world, and I am seldom 'called out' on the mainstream media (though there was a TFP effort of mine was once read by Glenn Beck on his syndicated radio show a couple of years ago).  It can therefore truthfully be said that even after five years (which sometimes seem like decades), I labor in relative obscurity and corresponding anonymity.  

While anyone who writes likes to be read, I am content however (actually, I'm shocked) that there are still people out there who feel these efforts are of value ... or garner an occasional laugh.  As for notoriety, the relatively few times in my life that I gained even a sliver of the spotlight have normally proved personally dangerous; and were usually those followed by massive bouts of egotism, followed by unintentional and very public commissions of social suicide. 

Which reminds me that the real purpose of pointing any of this out is to thank each and every one of you who continue to find the nonsense, tripe, and recklessly produced natural fertilizer contained on this site worth losing a bit of time in your lives that you'll never get back.  Since JBS is not the kind of site which assembles important news items, is not contributed to by nationally recognized pundits, or has received stacks of awards (or even one for that matter); I am eternally grateful that anyone deems these often twisted efforts worthy of a Google search (even though I'm sure most of you, in a form of electronic hand sanitizing, delete your browser history  soon afterward).  

Even the few of you have shown yourselves sadly in need of proper training in good internet manners, based on the comments that you've submitted (most of which have needed to be moderated out to preserve the last shred of good taste remaining here) have been amusing in a rather perverse way.  As for the isolated threats of bodily harm offered by those who I must assume are even more twisted than I am; while I make no claims to personal bravery, I am nevertheless prepared to meet you on the 'Internet Field of Honor' and suggest that you have your seconds get in touch with my seconds. (If my seconds aren't available, contact my thirds.  If my thirds can't be found, let's have our fourths do lunch.)    

Since I have been credited with the attention span of a gnat and organizational skills normally reserved for director of FEMA, I sometimes wonder lately however if five years of these efforts may have been too many.  Since JBS has become a rather time-consuming hobby, and in spite of the enjoyment that it at least brings me, I can't help but wonder at times if I've over-stayed my welcome and all of this perhaps should end.  Perhaps I've said enough (or as is more likely the case, far too much), and it's time to move on to other things.  I must admit that concerns over merely repeating myself or beating the drum until those around me are tired of the awful din do occur to me, and will not be easily set aside.

But enough of such maudlin thoughts.  After all, an anniversary is a happy occasion cause for celebration.  While attempting to make a long-term decision as to the fate of JBS therefore, my intention is to continue attempting to crank out at least two mostly useless and probably tasteless efforts per week, with the hope that the 'blind squirrel theory' will occasionally produce something worthy of your consideration.

Who knows, five years from now we may all be able to look back on this and say ... "Man, it's only been five years.  It sure seemed like a lot longer."

Meanwhile, somebody cut that cake and let's toast each other's health until we all get stinkin'.     

deatach dóibh má tá tú bhí orthu  
(smoke 'em if you've got 'em)


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The 2012 Budget Debate: Silent Surrender

Can anyone remember the heady days in the run up to the 2010 elections?  Does anyone still remember the promises made about what would happen to the size of government and the profligate level of spending being condoned in Congress if the right people were sent to represent us?  But we were going to show them, weren't we?  We were going to send a bunch REPUBLICANS to the House of Representatives and turn the ship of state around.  Rallying around their party battle cry, we were going to see $100 billion in spending cuts happen in the next budget if the GOP took control.

Well we gave the Grand Old Party their majority, at least in the House of Representatives, and what did we get in 2011 as a result?  Well for starters we got a budget with proposed cuts of only $61 billion instead of the promised $100 billion. We were disappointed of course, but after all even a cut of $61 billion out of an annual budget of over $3.7 trillion was nothing to sniff at.  (Actually it was, but we all choked down the bile, bit our tongues, and put the best face we could on it.)

That of course, was before this budget went to Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid was less than thrilled with the 'draconian cuts' that that Republicans in Congress were proposing.  He refused even to bring a vote to the Senate floor on what was purported to be an annual budget cut of 1.6%, in spite of the fact that it still would have provided more being spent than the government had spent in 2010.  (Some day, someone will have to explain the 'government-speak' that allows government to spend more than in the previous year and even use the word 'cut' in the sentence describing it, but there's no time for that today.)     
In the end, the Senate agreed to allow a vote on a 'cut' of some $38 billion dollars for the 2011 federal budget. (Now we're down to a 1% cut, but $38 is kind of  close to the original $100 billion, right?)  But wait, we're not done yet.  

According to an AP story in the Washington Post at the time, because of how long it took the House and Senate to reach an agreement and because the compromise reached for cuts was only on 'discretionary spending', the amount of the actual spending cut from the budget was in fact $352 million.  For those of you unwilling or unable to do the math for yourselves, this meant that Republican control of the House was able to bring about a total federal budget reduction of .0095%. (Are you impressed yet?)

But that was then and this is now, right?  Surely now that freshmen Republicans earned their spurs and learned a bit more how things are done in Congress, now that Ohio's own John Boehner is a bit more comfortable with his role as Speaker of the House; things would be different and real spending cuts will being made in 2012.  Not so fast, my friends ...

In a story posted in today, budget cuts recently proposed in the House by Republicans are in fact being rejected (at least in part) by the Republican majority in that legislative body:

"McClintock (R-CA) – Cuts the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program by $1.45 billion. Rejected 113-275.
Chaffetz (R-UT) – Cuts the Advanced Manufacturing Program by $74 million, to FY 2011 levels. Rejected 140-245.
McClintock (R-CA) – Eliminates nuclear energy research subsidies (saves $514 million). Rejected 106-281.
Chabot (R-OH) – Eliminates funding for the regional commissions, such as the Appalachian Regional Commission (saves $99.3 million). Rejected 141-276.
Blackburn (R-TN) – Cuts 1% across the board (would cut $321 million). Rejected 157-261.
Mulvaney (R-SC) – Brings the bill toward RSC budget levels by cutting a total of $3.1 billion across almost all accounts. Rejected 125-293.
King (R-IA) – Prohibits funding of Davis-Bacon union wage requirements. Rejected 184-235.
Flake (R-AZ) – Across the board spending cut that would keep funding at FY 2012 levels ($87.5 million savings). Rejected 144-274."

While they were at it and during this same legislative period, the House passed H.R 5882 to keep Legislative Branch Appropriations at the same level as in 2011.  So not only has the Republican majority in the House managed to reject spending cuts that have been offered by members of its own party, but it has managed to do so in an election year while drawing little or no media attention to itself.

Why is all of this important?  Because while the federal government hoped, through its last compromise, to avoid taking up the issue of raising the debt ceiling before the 2012 elections; little of that hope now remains.  After raising the debt ceiling of the country by some $2 trillion less than a year ago, this nation seems to have once again reached its legislatively mandated credit limit.  So once more the two legislative Houses will have to take up discussion as to whether we can continue to run up debt like an evil Wall Street brokerage house or irresponsible 'too big to fail' bank without consequences to those watching the nation's purse strings.

In light of the Republican party's ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory the last time this debate took place, one cannot help but wonder if someone in the party's leadership will have the intestinal fortitude to take a stand (other than one imitating Custer's Last One).  One must likewise wonder what the Republican Presidential nominee's position on this debate will be, and whether he will attempt to show leadership, sit on the sidelines, or run for political cover.  Finally, one cannot help but wonder if a party attempting to rally its conservative base to keep control of the House, win control of the Senate, and send its candidate to the White House; can do so if its strategy in the debate continues to be an all but silent surrender.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

The "Stuck on Stupid" Dictionary #34

The normally lazy lexicographers working on the "Stuck on Stupid" dictionary have decided to become more productive without further physical motivation exercises (ending practices that violated the Geneva Conventions and have mostly been banned by the UN).  Apparently they've decided that the regular release of efforts for the SOS dictionary are far more likely to improve their working conditions and perhaps even rate them a better long-term compensation plan.  (Personally, I just think they're jealous of the Cheetos and AC that we supply to the DJBSS in their attic Command Center.)  Senior staff will continue to evaluate not only the quantity of their efforts, but the quality before re-opening negotiations (Kansas is after all, a right to work state)Besides, we're already spending more in our Cheetos budget than we can reasonably afford.

Now for those of you who have somehow managed to miss previous postings in this area (shame on you, now go back and read all of the postings under the label of dictionary), the SOS dictionary is a reference guide to terms which nominally mean something to the rest of the English speaking world, but appear to mean something entirely different when looked at in a political context, especially to those us who have come to understand the often peculiar vernacular of politics in Toledo, Northwest Ohio ... and sometimes even the nation as a whole.

Campaign Contributions

1.  Money raised for political purposes usually only mentioned these days in conjunction with "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission".   This was a landmark US Supreme Court case in which, by a 5-4 decision, the Justices essentially held that money and speech could be considered the same thing when it came to campaign expenditure and that according to the First Amendment; the government was therefore prohibited from placing restrictions on such independent expenditures.  The restraint of this prohibition was held to be true whether you were an individual, a corporation, or a union.

2.  Money raised in a particularly evil form of 'election buying' and considered a travesty by the political left about the political right when they are outspent and lose the issue that had been placed before the voters. (ie: The Governor Scott Walker recall vote of 2012 in Wisconsin, where the right apparently outspent the left by a ratio of 7 to 1, though some numbers are in dispute.) 

3.  Money raised in a particularly evil form of 'election buying' and considered a travesty by the political right about the political left when they are outspent and lose the issue that had been placed before the voters. (ie: The Ohio "Issue 2" vote of 2011 (also known as SB5) in which the left apparently outspent the right by at least a ratio of over 3 to 1, though some numbers are in dispute.)

4.  Money raised by major party presidential candidates, the amounts of which are only released when they can do the most good to themselves and the most harm to their opponents.  The candidate raising the greater amount attempting to prove (incorrectly) that the ability to raise campaign money equates to the ability to lead.  The candidate raising the lesser amount of money usually thanking contributors for their cash before citing the 'Citizens United' decision as the reason that there is too much money in politics.

5.  Money raised which has apparently led to a great deal more discussion of political issues, candidates, and elections around the country.  It has likewise performed the function of no longer leaving the message delivered on these elections in the hands of representatives of the two major political parties, allowing independent voices from all sides of politics the opportunity to get their own messages across.  While the results of such discussion are far from in, the increased level of discussion has been generally seen as a good thing, and the level of spending on campaigns while increased, has had no demonstrably negative effects on the electoral process.     

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June Terror Alert: DADS

June is already fast upon us, and while the heat of summer begins to climb, the Department of Just Blowing Smoke Security (DJBSS) continues in its tireless efforts to root out potential terrorists threats in this nation. (Though personally I think they're happy to stay locked in their Command Center since we had a new air conditioning unit installed last week.)   And while they continue to be given little in the way of credit for what many consider to be nonsensical labors at best (and even less in terms of financial remuneration), most concede that their efforts have thus far proven as effective, if not more, as threat protection for this nation than their TSA 'mall cop' counterparts at airports around the country.

The threat assessment slipped out from under the locked door of their Command Center today (an attic room that we keep them locked in for their own protection, as well as ours) is indeed a serious one, and not particularly surprising if you remember that for May. While I was hoping that any danger recognized by the DJBSS would hold off at least long enough for me to celebrate my Irish Twin's birthday; it was obvious once I had read the Cheetos-stained Post-it note that proper notification of the general public was essential.  In fact, with Father's Day just a week away their effort is a particularly timely one indeed, warning of the annual appearance of a rather despicable group of ne'er do wells ... DADS.  

Obviously we're not talking about the wise and loving male progenitors that we've long come to know from TV's "Father Knows Best" or "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" (Did anyone else ever wonder about the ramifications of  Eddie's father also being the Hulk?), nor can we really be said to be speaking about the equally loving but far more sarcastic versions typified in "The Cosby Show" or even "Home Improvement".  In fact these reproductive reprobates may be the only people on the planet with less or worse parenting skills that the Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen characters on the original "Two and a Half Men".  

Disinterested Adolescent sperm Donors Society are in fact members a group of malicious malefactors almost as amazing as they are detestable.  One is never certain whether to be more  astonished in the proof that they possess the required hardware necessary for the reproductive act to be consummated, or appalled that they've somehow they've convinced a member of what's usually the more intelligent gender of the species to participate in any act that might result in offspring. 

Often calling their erstwhile partners "baby mommas", they seem as concerned about the results of sharing their seed with these unfortunate females as they would in sharing the flu.  (Not surprising, exposure to these "baby daddies" can result in flu-like symptoms for those involved that include: a light fever, general nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.)  No one knows what dangers long-term exposure to these double-dealing frauds might result in, as they seldom remain around long enough with the woman in question to provide the option for study.

While these DADS call themselves adolescents, they in fact come in all ages, with the descriptive term having apparently more to do with their inability to grow up and take adult (let alone parental) responsibility for their procreative activities.  And while many feel that DADS cannot be counted on for anything, the facts show that they can usually be counted on to contribute little of nothing in the way of financial support or to participate little if at all in the raising of their often scattered offspring.

Perhaps the only positive that they contribute to posterity is through their standard practice of abandonment, which provides the best hope that none of these traits will be passed on to their male descendants.  Raised in single mother homes (often with the support of other family members) or as part of a later amorous relationship on the part of the mother, the best hope of these children is that the contributor of half of their genetic code will remain long forgotten.   

DADS can be easily identified by:

*  An ego greater than would be expected based on their appearance or intelligence
*  An inflated belief in their sexual prowess
An expensive wardrobe or car (usually purchased with money they refused to spend on the support of their offspring)
A reticence to speak about family, especially with regards to children
A tendency to denigrate the women with which they were in previous relationships with  
*  The number of phone calls they receive from irate women at all hours of the day and night

Since DADS are not so much of a threat as they are a scourge and a taint on the principles of respectable fatherhood, the terror threat for June will therefore only be raised to Yellow.  The DJBSS wanted to use Brown to properly call out these shits (not to be confused with SHITS), but instead settled on the only color which properly describes the cowardice exhibited by these bastards (pun intended) with respect to their parental responsibilities.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Lessons of Scott Walker

Having said it likely that I would wait until the weekend to post, here I am again (which I suppose  means that I am as untrustworthy as some of the politicians I write about).   I  simply found that the more I listened to the talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum discuss the Wisconsin vote, the angrier I got.  I am therefore going to weigh while the ink is still drying on the Wisconsin tallies.

One of the few things more amusing than seeing the mainstream media handed their collective butts in an election is watching the Olympic back-pedaling of the losers and the massive overreaching of the winners when the final results of such an election are finally tallied.

After Ohio's Governor Kasich took a drubbing for the failed effort in his state to gain the restrictions of public sector workers, the left was all but convinced that Governor Walker would receive a similar shellacking, especially with the numbers of signatures on the recall petitions.  In spite of the fact that Walker seemed to be consistently ahead in the polls, we were told to expect his demise.  

Well the results are in now and the reports Scott Walker's demise were apparently greatly exaggerated.  He will remain the governor of Wisconsin, by what appears to be a lead of 53% to 46% over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  And even as Badgers were going to the polls, the pundits were lining up with excuses and prophecies.

I for one was amazed at the amount of whine produced in Wisconsin, as those on the left quickly pointed out that Barrett, after all, was not the Union supported candidate in the Democratic primary (refusing to acknowledge that the fact that his beating of that union candidate should have been saying something).  Lest Union power and dignity suffer unduly, they were also quick to point out that outside money being spent on the left was being significantly outspent by outside money from the right. (I was curious that no mention was made about the impact of the opposite having happened in Ohio last year).  

Before the dust had settled, we were likewise reminded that Ohio and Wisconsin were different situations, since the Ohio proposal included safety workers and Walker's in Wisconsin didn't.  According to this form of spin we're supposed to believe that voters, who often have trouble distinguishing the candidate's political parties, understood the subtle shading of these arguments seven months later.  I suppose it's equally possible that we should instead believe that safety workers, having no dog in this hunt, simply threw their Union brethren under the bus; but I heard no one mention this potential.

Last but not least, we were told that in spite of the Walker win, Barack Obama was still polling better than Mitt Romney.  (This is known as the, "Oh yeah, your family has a better car, well mine has a better house.  Nyeh!" response; and is usually limited to the playground in kindergarten.)  By the time they were done, all I cold hear was John Belushi crying out to Carrie Fisher in 'The Blues Brothers', "It's not my fault!"

For their part and much like with the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts a few years back, those on the Right were busy announcing the second coming of the Republican Party to the tune of "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead".  They were equally vocal (and close to being as poor a sport in winning as the left was doing in losing) in predicting that the results of this election was a mere foretelling of Republicans increasing their lead in the House, taking over the majority in the Senate, and ultimately winning the Presidency.  They were not only as excited as a new puppy, I think that in a couple cases they actually peed on the rug.

In all of this, they like their opponents were also wrong (at least in my opinion).  

Scott Walker did not become the first governor to beat a recall election because he was a Republican.  He did so because he's one of the few elected officials out there (along with members of the Wisconsin legislature) to understand what needed to be done and when, in order to balance the budget of the state in his charge.  For this, those who originally voted for him did so again. 

He knew that raising taxes was an unacceptable option, and that cutting spending was the only answer.  He knew that public sector employee health and retirement benefit programs were only going to become worse if nothing was done about them.  He likewise knew that laying off public sector employees and reducing services had to remain a last resort.  In this, he was in some ways like his counterpart in Ohio, and their contemporary Chris Christie in New Jersey.  Regardless of the path taken, all have managed to achieved a balanced budget for States under their care (unlike their ridiculous counterpart in Illinois). Unfortunately, this is not necessarily an example of Republican values when viewed on a grander scale.  

Oh don't get me wrong, Republicans will certainly talk about small government and fiscal responsibility when on the political stump, but talk is usually all you get.  (Remember the budget discussions of last year, and the 'Incredible Shrinking Budget Cuts' that resulted.)  Upon achieving national office, they mostly seem to revert to a kind with their brethren on the left.  Republicans have never had any problem spending, their difference was little more than the rate at which they did it.  We were still spending more than we were taking in when Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House.  We just hadn't loosed the deficit dogs, running up debt like a country that never expected to pay it back except by inflating a portion of it into non-existence.  (Wait, that's exactly what we we're doing ... oh, never mind.)

Social Security and Medicare were both still going broke, and the Republican answer was to add a prescription drug program to make it happen quicker.   Regulatory agency budgets at the EPA, HHS, and the Security agencies were increased annually; and added to as required when the Department of Homeland Security was formed.  As for Defense spending; of course it had to go up.  There were two wars to be fought after all.  Oh sure there was talk about shutting down the NEA, but it never amounted to anything.  There was also talk of streamlining the tax code, and with it the IRS; but nothing ever came of it but empty rhetoric.

If all of this is the case, what then can we learn from Governor Walker maintaining his office?  Perhaps it's simply that even in a state as progressive Wisconsin, sometimes people will overlook political theory and keep someone in office who's getting the job done.  It might be that people are getting tired of the way things have always been, and want real change (not hope and change).   They're sick of what has largely become an over-priced and dysfunctional form of governance and want one that understands its limited power and even more limited finances.  On the other hand, maybe this is just the acorn that the blind squirrel finds once in a while.

As for what this taught (or at least should have taught) the two major political parties, I expect neither learned anything.  They've become too bloated, too power-hungry, and too set in their ways to learn from a simple lesson right in front of their eyes in Wisconsin.  Elections are not necessarily won by greater spending, more effective bullying, or more masterful rhetoric and spin.  Ultimately they are won by those who show up to vote; and increasingly, that group is made up of people who are really pissed at both of you.

So endeth the lesson ....


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TFP Column: Soda Jerk

While it may seem as if I have been delinquent in putting up a mid-week posting, it's only because every time that I came up with an idea this week, I ended up sending it to Michael Miller at the TFP.  Instead of rejecting both out of hand, amazingly Michael accepted both efforts.  So instead of a mid-week post, you will get a link to a second mid-week column.

The second one this week is entitled "Soda Jerk", and speaks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's regulatory proposal to ban sugary drinks of more than 16 ounces.  Now NYC's Mayor has already banned smoking (which tends to make people gain weight), and well as the use of Trans fats for cooking in the city.  One cannot help but wonder what the Mayor will ban next if this next effort fails to reduce the weight of New Yorkers fails.  (You also have to wonder if the Mayor has been spending time with Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson, who thought that Guam might tip over if too many people were on it.)

Having produced two 800 word writing efforts already this week, it's likely that I will wait until Saturday to do further structural damage to the national discourse.  There will certainly be more to come from other sources however, at least in Toledo's largest Sunday circulation and Ohio's Best Weekly newspaper, the Toledo Free Press.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

TFP Column: The Law of Averages

Well we've got a new texting while driving ban in the State of Ohio, freshly signed by Governor John Kasich.  This law may be going into effect soon, but not before I weighed in one more time on the nonsense of creating laws against things that are already against the law.  While I was at it, I thought that I might kick my two cents in on some of the other kinds of laws that municipal, state, and national elected representatives like to pass and why.  The result became "The Law of Averages" on the TFP website.

But it's summer, and between the mid-week Star edition and the regular weekend one there will undoubtedly be a number of reasons to find a shady spot, relax, and catch up on everything going on in the area in what is (now without doubt) Toledo's largest Sunday circulation, and Ohio's Best Weekly newspaper for the third year in a row, the Toledo Free Press.

(And who knows, there might even be more to come this week ...)