Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Monday, March 31, 2008

On the Road Again

I hate Southwest Airlines. This is, I think the third time that I have flown with them. The first time was when I went to Vegas in the mid-nineties and I saw Drew Barrymore on the flight. The second time I went to Tampa for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago and the flight was 2 hours late.

Now I am on my way to Tampa again, and again it seems that the flight will be delayed another 2 hours and it’s almost 10pm now. At least that’s what they are saying at this time. Even though Philadelphia is a hub airport, I always seem to have to wait for a flight that has been delayed by leaving from some place else.

I thought I would knock this off while I wait at the airport and vent. One day I will do a DB Copper thing and just get my own jet and jump with a gift bag from the bank into places unknown and into legend. Or maybe I will just take the bus. Heavens!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Foot & Mouth Disease

I don’t know where the putting the foot in the mouth phrase came from, but it’s been one of those phrases that I have been aware of for quite some time. I am sure that I heard it being used before, but the first time I remember hearing it being used effectively was the Democratic convention in ’88. God, how the hell old am I?

Governor Ann Richards of Texas was giving the key note address, or the opening speech or some speech and she mentioned George Bush senior who was running for president and that she was the one with the real Texas twang in her voice and not him. She then went on to comment on the Vice-President’s newly found interest in social issues. "Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth," she said with a shrill in her voice that brought the audience to its feet.

I guess she never thought then that George Jr would come by later on take her job for insulting his daddy. I guess she never thought then that politicians would still be putting their feet in the mouths and still keep getting away with it, ala Clinton, McCain, Kilpatrick and countless others.

But politicians are not the only ones who seem to suffer from foot and mouth disease. Like a lot of people, I have been known to say the most inappropriate things at the most inopportune times. Most times it’s because I didn’t think the thing through and there was a lack of judgment on my part. I will often have to take it back and apologize, or rephrase what it was that I should have said. There are other times when I will just take a cavalier attitude, stick my chest out and let the cards fall where they may. Neither position is a comfortable place to be in.

In fact the only time that I like to have a foot in my mouth is when it’s someone else’s. Well actually I haven’t got to that foot fetish stage yet, just toe tickling testicles and nipple squeezing action but who knows what tomorrow brings. I hear music. I’m drifting…

So, in conclusion, for those people for whom which the fate of the nation or state rests on their shoulders; please think about what you are going to say before you open up. My plea is for Hillary, you know you’re my girl, but your black supporters, all 3 of us want you to stop reinventing memories that don’t exist and stop talking about other peoples’ churches. My request is for McCain to get your facts straight and take your medication before you talk us into a 3rd war front in the Middle East. And if I hear one more personal thing coming from Governor Paterson in New York, I swear I’ll… (Open mouth insert foot here.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Checks & Balances

A friend of mine at work sent me the following email. It’s about the government stimulus rebate check that will be sent out to tax payers in order to jump start the economy.

The order in which the IRS sends out payments will be based on Social Security numbers. If your return is processed by April 15, here's what you can expect.
Direct deposit payment
If last 2 digits of your SS# are: Your rebate should be sent by:
00-20 May 2
21-75 May 9
76-99 May 16
Paper check
If last 2 digits of your SS# are: Your rebate should be sent by:
00-09 May 16
10-18 May 23
19-25 May 30
26-38 June 6
39-51 June 13
52-63 June 20
64-75 June 27
76-87 July 4
88-99 July 11


Up until now I had not really thought about what I would do with the check once I received it. One idea I had was to continue what my father used to do with his extra cash and send it on to my cousin in New York, He’s a guest of the state there and won’t have access to creating a decent life for himself for a hell of a long time; life in fact.

Another idea, the practical one was to pay off a bill or set it aside to pay upcoming bills like my gym membership or cell phone bills. I should do something an adult would do, something dull, something dreary. But I know I won’t.

The third idea is to get an iTouch media player to replace my iPod. I can get one for $599 and if I went to Delaware I would pay no sales tax and walk away with a dollar that I can use to buy a soda or play the lottery. Can you imagine if I won the lottery on a dollar tax rebate, it would be like the gift that didn’t stop giving. I would be so excited that I would probably nutt, ejaculate automatically right there on the spot. I would be so grateful I would have to join the Republican Party and start supporting the war. I would get so crazy, I would have to run down the street and holler that Bush should be made a saint. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

What I’m actually thinking about now is that I can really help the economy by buying shares of Bear Stearns. As everyone knows, the share price for that venerable company went from over $90/share less than 2 months ago to $2/share yesterday and there is an offer for JP Morgan Chase to buy them out, although I believe it went up to $5 today. Of course it’s always risky to get into something that is a reflection of the failed policies of both the Federal Reserve and the government, but how much lower can the price get? And anyway, it’s only $600. Even if I lost every cent, no one is going to have to worry about me jumping off of some building in downtown Manhattan. There are other things that would keep me much closer to home.

Oh I know, if I’m going to throw the money away, I can go back to Morimoto. It’s a restaurant in Philly that is owned by Stephen Starr and the Iron Chef of cable fame. I had dinner there once last year. I was with a friend, Curtis. I’m always dragging him out some place, one day he’ll turn on me. Anyway, so I ordered a bowl of soup and sushi and he got a basket of cold noodles that you had to pour a sauce over it to add flavor. We also ordered a bamboo shoot of Saki to wash the stuff down. Yes I said bamboo shoot; I guess having it come out in a bottle would have been just too Western.

I think with the tip, the whole thing came up to $180. That was $90 for a bowl of soup, 4 pieces of sushi and something to drink that reminded me of my own stomach juices. Crazy.

I still wake up in the middle of the night with night sweats thinking about that dinner. It’s a memory that still lives with me. Hmm, now there’s a thought, I can stimulate the economy and have a lifetime of nightmares. Money well spent I think.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sex, Children & Politics

Sex and the politician has always been a big story. The latest being the governor of New York and his 4 or 5 thousand dollar hooker and the earliest, well you would have to go a lot further back than Bubba from Arkansas, JFK and FDR. Even President Mckinley and his out of wedlock child would be too recent to qualify as the earliest political sexual escapades in the US. No, the earliest scandal would have to be dropped at the door steps of the founding of the country by Jefferson and his slave child concubine Sally Hemings. These are the types of legends that people have and will write stories about. They are the type of narratives that film companies will make TV shows and movies to satisfy the public’s need for gossip and tales of shame.

Unfortunately, the scandal that will not be written about or filmed will be the results of the report handed out yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 838 girls ranging from 14 to 19 years of age on sexually transmitted disease (STD)

As quoted from the BBC News, “The CDC says the study is the first in its kind to examine the prevalence of common sexually transmitted diseases among adolescent girls.

It found that nearly half of the African-American girls surveyed had at least one STD, while the rate was 20% among white and Mexican-American teenagers…

The CDC's Devin Fenton said it was a serious issue because the diseases could lead to infertility and cervical cancer. “ - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7290088.stm

The news article did not mention teenage pregnancies or rise in HIV/Aids in our youth. It did not say how the CDC got its sample or even if the sample was a true reflection of the greater population. But if it is then the question should be, why is prevalence of STDs twice as much in the black group than any other and what needs to be done to shorten the gap?

Are African Americans more promiscuous than others? Are they just not good at choosing a healthy partner or partners to be intimate with? Are black people less likely to care for themselves than whites or any other race?

I think it would be short-sighted to say yes to any of those questions, but I also think it would be almost criminal to say no and let things stay as they are. Young people, especially girls need to be taught that sometimes there are disadvantages to having sex when you are not prepared for it. The pill, or an Intrauterine Device (IUD), or the rhythm method may or may not prevent pregnancies but they definitely won’t prevent viruses from being transmitted from one person to another. Abstinence is fine, but if that were happening we would not be in the position that we are in now.

If young people are not going to be taught at home then someone else must tell them that if they are going to engage in sexual activities, they must protect themselves by using a condom. If they are unable to afford the purchase of a condom, then the schools should be forced to provide them without question or embarrassment to the children if the parents won’t.

There will be an argument that schools are not in the business of promoting sex amongst the students, or the other one is who should pay for it. But the way I see it, we have already proven that children are having sex and the money spent trying to cure them of disease or burying them, will be far more than cost of some rubber.

The true sex scandal is that there are few politicians who have the balls or the tits to stand up and see what is going on and even fewer who are willing to try and protect our young.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Plan

Now I’m not one who is a believer in great conspiracies. Even though I wasn’t there, I don’t think there was a paid CIA trigger man on the grassy knoll in Dallas in ’63. I don’t believe that Princess Diana is being kept on life support in the cellars of Buckingham Palace. In fact, even though there is a whole bunch of shit that doesn’t add up, I don’t believe G. Dubya or the Jewish Defense League or anyone else not associated with the hijackers of 911 were responsible for the destruction of the Twin Towers. But I was listening to a podcast of This American Life on NPR this week and they were doing stories on an episode called Human Resources. One of the stories in the show was called The Plan.

I have heard about The Plan since the late 70’s early 80’s. It is usually referred to as a white conspiracy that started around 1967-68, the period MLK was shot and the riots started in many of the major cities like Baltimore, Trenton, DC, Detroit and Newark.

The idea was for white families who had sold their properties and fled the cities to the suburbs to eventually come back into the cities and buy back land that had dropped in value due to neglect. The result would be to force black families out and usher in white families who would have made a nice neat profit; selling high and buying back low.

I would hear this theory and just laugh at the absurdity of people denigrating gentrification just because of some silly fear they had about displacement. Who would be able to organize such a diabolical arrangement? No one could tell me. “This was a story right out of George Orwell,” I would think to myself. Nowadays, I would even attribute it to an Oliver Stone movie with a meaty role for Kevin Costner that could jumpstart his career. That is I would, but I don’t.

I haven’t been to Harlem since President Clinton took up rooms there, but I get the impression that the neighborhood has changed. Rates and rents are slightly more expensive than they used to be. Some small businesses have been forced to move further away from 125th St. and replaced by larger ones that were usually seen in mid-town New York. The GAP and Starbucks now occupy the spaces that used to be held by the local barbershop and family owned eateries. There are parts of West Philadelphia that are now being called University City as many homes are being bought and taken over by the University of Pennsylvania. In New Orleans, I remember seeing on the news many of the residents of the Lower 9th Ward who had lost their homes from Hurricane Katrina, will no longer be able to afford the replacement homes that are being built there now.

In many cities across the nation, young white couples are now being seen walking the dog or strolling down the streets with their children, whereas before the only whites that had been seen before were those who worked for the city or came to collect the rent. And now I wonder.

I have witnessed the 30 years of benign neglect that has been allowed to occur in certain urban areas. I witness the change that has turned many of the slum dwellings of the poor into million dollar homes for the more fortunate. I have seen or heard of the many people, mainly minorities, who have lost their homes because of the subprime mortgage fiasco and I wonder.

Has all of this urban renewal and fictional wealth for the poor just been one vast scheme by the “man” as another way to take advantage of black people? I don’t know. It’s been a question that I have lived with my entire adult life and then some. But I'm afraid, just like the destruction of the Hindenburg and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, the existance of The Plan maybe one of those questions that will never be answered.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pennsylvania or Bust, Maybe

The last words of Bobby Kennedy may not have been, “Now it’s on to Pennsylvania, and let’s win there,” but they seem to be the words of both of the remaining present Democratic Party candidates. Although there are other states like Mississippi and Wyoming that will have their primaries before April, Pennsylvania is the largest state. It has the most pledge delegates and perhaps will decide who will win the Democratic Party nomination. Or will it?

With the race at almost a dead heat, it seems that no matter who wins the upcoming primaries, neither Obama nor Clinton will be able to achieve the number of delegates needed to take them over the top. So then the real competition is going to be the grab for the super-delegates. A position that many people thought the party would not get to.

At the beginning of the primaries, the super-delegates were seen as the old guard. They were looked at as old party stalwarts who would bring the historic roots and past glories of the Democrats to the convention. They were people who would also bring unity to the party and legitimize the party nominee. But not now. Not any more. Now they are seen as the trump cards that each of the candidates needs desperately if they intend to face the Republican nominee in the General Election.

There are 842 super-delegates or approximately one fifth of the party’s total delegate number. They consist of current and former elected office holders and party officials and will be sat automatically at the convention in Denver.

Some super-delegates have already declared who they will support at the convention. Delegates like Reps. Barbara Boxer and John Lewis have already stated that they believe their influence and responsibility is due to the electorate. Therefore they will support whomever their districts have voted for. While others like Kerry, Kennedy and maybe even Rendell will vote for who they believe will be best for the party and ultimately the country.

By the way, speaking of Kennedy, when John-John, his nephew, was missing all those years ago, didn’t Clinton send out half of the Atlantic fleet looking for him? And now he supports Obama? That’s gratitude for you. It just goes to show there is no love lost or won when it comes to politics. That’s why it’s a beautiful thing.

So the big fight will be for the super-delegates, the ones that haven’t declared what side of the spectrum that they will fall. This will be where we will see how each candidate’s political machine will work. There will be the no holds barred Clinton establishment tried and tested one of 16-20 years ago, against the one of a newer generation, of freedom and hope for a better tomorrow belonging to Obama.

So I take back my previous prediction of California being the decision maker for the party. Like every good boxing match in the 9th round, I think we really have no idea how this fight is going to turn out. We shall all have to wait for August and the 12th round for a decision by the judges; judges who will have their own interests to look after as well as the interests of the party and then the electorate.

My, ain’t politics grand?


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