Monthly Archives: January 2009

REACT: Recalling the uterus

Warning: This blog is a bit “salty” as they used to say. If you are clueless, it means that there is adult content and language herein. X-rated, as they say today. Maybe only R — if you are more liberal in these matters.

As they used to say on Monty Python … and now for something completely different.

Despite the title over this blog, it is not about some reminiscence of the womb. No. It seems a newly introduced toy “plush uterus” (yeah, you read it right) had to be recalled because the ovaries constitute a “choking hazard.” (I will not proceed until you stop laughing — and hopefully you are not now spewing out a mouth full of coffee.) This news report invites an almost endless number of comedic and/or vulgar retorts. However, you will have to think of them on your own since I will not indulge you with mine.

What I will express is my utter bewilderment as to why this toy was ever conceived. (<– Did I use a poor choice of words in that sentence?) What parent, in their right mind would bring home this furry piece of anatomy for their daughter? And surely not for their son. My suspicion is that this is a product directed at wacko feminist mommies. You know … the ones that go to the theatre to see a production the title of which refers to a vocal version of the same organ. Someone should tell them that when their darling daughter asked for a furry pussy, she probably meant a cat.

And what can you do with this toy besides sucking off the ovaries? Cuddle with it? Use it as a pillow? Banish THAT image from my mind. I am not sure what this toy is called. I’m thinking maybe Miss Cutie C*nt would work.

Is this to be an educational toy? If so, will these enlightened little girls reach puberty thinking that they will grow fuzz insides like the telltale hair in all those other body places? And what about that smiley face? Frankly, if I had just looked at this “thing” without prior knowledge, my first guess would not have been a uterus. Way no. I would be thinking a colorized Casper the Ghost carrying a couple plums. Or maybe Barney as a baby. How educational is that?

No boys’ version? No Mr. Cuddle C*ck? Maybe the manufactures recognized the obvious chocking hazard without having our government have to tell them. Also, how do you market a symbol of manhood to those wacky fems? Still, I think if we want boys and girls to play well with each other, there needs to be some equity here.

I am also disturbed by the concept of “sharing.” I am certainly not the type of parent to advise my daughter to share her uterus with her friends. And I do not want to console my little sweetheart because the boy next store took her uterus and won’t give it back. Even worse … I may have to go next door and tell the parents that their son has my daughter’s uterus and will not give it back.

Enough already. Next time you take the kids to the local toy store, make sure you check out the X-rated section.

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OBSERVATION: Random thoughts on Blago’s political demise.

I have a few closing thoughts on the ousting of Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Thought One: Almost unnoticed in the impeachment and removal from office of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was a provision that he be barred from ever again running for office in Illinois. I think this is overkill … piling on. Frankly, I think the Legislature is way out of bounds in preventing him from running for any office in the future – including Governor.

I mean, I wouldn’t vote for him. His chance of being elected to any major office is pretty minimal. However, I think he should have the right to run, and the voting public should have the right to decide to hire him or not – and not be pre-empted by a mob of over heated politicians.

While the odds suggest Blago will get indicted and convicted, that is not a certainty. What if he beats the rap? He is then an innocent man. What then?

Thought Two: I wonder … if this all happened one year earlier, would Barack Obama have made it to the White House. For sure, the world outside of Illinois had no idea just how corrupt is the political environment that spawned President Obama. So much of life is timing. (I put this item in as a shameless means to get a photo of Obama in the Blog and attract search engines. Forgive me … but it seems the thing to do these day.)

Thought Three: I heard some pundits chagrining the fact that they will not have Rod Blagojevich around to generate news. They opined that he will now fade into the shadows of public attention. I think not. In fact, I expect Blago to continue to be a very highly visible public figure — continuing to champion his cause in the main spotlight. More interestingly, he is very likely to seek revenge on his enemies – now as a citizen accuser – by dragging them before the same court of public opinion in which he was convicted.

While the self righteous political leaders sell themselves as the noble civic tribunes, I sort of think of them a bit more like Mafia don’s disposing of one of their own – you know – the guy that became a “problem” to the bosses. There is one of these characters in every mob movie.

Also, I am sure Blago knows where a lot of political bodies are buried and the impeachers forgot to take away his shovel. In view of the large volume of taped conversations, I suspect that a lot of others will find their hitherto secret schemes exposing them to a lot of embarrassment, minimally, and maybe criminal complicity. I dare say, old Blago could actually wind up being an unintentional agent of reform.

So cheer up sports fans. We are about to go into extra innings.

Thought Four: Most objective observers seem to agree that the press lost all sense of fairness and impartiality in the coverage of Barack Obama. It would appear that is also true in the case of Rod Blagojevich — althought it was wrath, not adulation, that powered the disturbing bias. I mean, I don’t like Blago at all, but I expect the media to adhere to traditional standards of professional objectivity. Rather than report on the issues, they scolded him, mocked him, belittled him. He was ravaged from every perspective … news, editorials, columns and talk shows. At times, I could not tell if Blago’s antics or the reporting of them was more outrageous. I guess both politicians and the press lose their perspective when offered an opportunity to be pompous.

Thought Five: Is the Blago saga reminding you — as it is me — of the Huey Long (right) epic? If you recall, he was the highly corrupt populist governor of Lousiana. He also was removed from office, but by only one disgruntled government employee with a gun. Blago had 59 disgruntled government employees with an impeachment. Ballots. Bullets? Same result … well … almost. If you have no idea what I am talking about, go to Blockbuster and rent the movie. All the King’s Men. The author of the story claimed it was not about Huey Long. Yeah! Right! Just like Citizen Kaneis not about William Randolph Hearst.

REACT: Governor ousted … but was it proper?

First the obligatory disclaimer: I am no fan of Governor Rod Blagojevich. I did not like his policies. I think he is most likely guilty of criminal conduct, and will be convicted and sent to prison. I think he deserves no less.

BUT …

I am equally distressed by the way he was removed from office. What transpired is the closest thing to a coup that I have seen under our American system of “innocent until proven guilty” and the quoted more than implemented “rule of law.”

First, there was the highly questionable press conference by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (who I admire greatly). According to many legal experts, he was out of bounds in bringing the case against the Governor to the court of public opinion before he was ready to announce an indictment. In fact, to this day Blago has not been indicted of any crime. Without that press conference to stir the public against the Governor, and coalesce his political adversaries, there would not have been any serious discussion of an impeachment – bad as Blago may be.

Second, there is the question of the impeachment process. Repeatedly noting that it is a “political process,” and not a judicial process, the leaders of the Illinois House and Senate still failed to explain why “fairness” should not be a consideration. In a unique irony, the Governor was barred by the U.S. Attorney’s office from obtaining testimony from those who might be on the witness list for his eventual criminal trial. He could not cross examine witnesses. The Senate-as-court could only listen to a few minutes out of thousands of hours of wire taped conversations because most of the real “evidence” was being withheld for the trial.

Third: It was not a secret vote. While one may say this provided transparency for the public, it really put the “jury” under the pressure of the mob. The secret ballot protects the individual from the intimidation and retribution of the public. I am quite confident that a secret ballot would have produced a number of “no” votes.

Fourth, since it was quite obvious that the Legislature could not prove a “high crimes and misdemeanors” case, they switched to the less specific “abuse of power” accusation. This dubious charge is in the eye of the beholder. By most standards, the Governor’s battles with the Legislature would not rise to impeachment and removal from office – in fact, the notion of impeachment was not even hinted at the time he took the actions now condemned. This means that the central charges against the Governor were not the accusations of the U.S. Attorney, but things he did several years ago that angered members of the Legislature. In other words, those sitting in judgment took advantage of the public anger over the unproven criminal charges to oust the Governor on the vague “abuse” charges.

Fifth, the leaders of the impeachment effort have demonstrated both chutzpah and hypocrisy. Not only did they not accuse the Governor of abuse of power at the time of the alleged abuse, but they praised him, endorsed him, and served on his campaign committee for re-election in the interim. His abuses of power were not recently discovered, only recently defined by those who engaged in the very same processes as one time comrades-in arms.

Yes, it is good that Blago is gone. And yes, Patrick Quinn (left, being sworn in) will most probably make a better governor. However, the impeachment should only be the first step in a broader effort to clean up Illinois government. The political assassins need to be brought to justice next — if nothing more than to be booted from office in the next election. Though they will now blame the former Governor for every ill in Illinois, they are still part of the business-as-usual process that has brought national shame to the Land of Lincoln.

TIDBIT: Gore gets frozen out?

Is there a correlation, or is it just a coincidence? As the prolonged cold across America reaches record lows in one place after another, I seem to notice a reduction in media interviews with Al Gore, the Pied Piper of global warming.

REACT: Congratulations to SENATOR Roland Burris — a good man for the job

Today, Roland Burris was sworn in as the junior senator from Illinois, just as he predicted he would be. For the most part, his critics are fools, liars and hypocrites – or people with flagrant self interests.

First and foremost, we should recognize that in Burris the people of Illinois have an outstanding public servant as their new senator — not withstanding the unfair and scurrilous criticisms flung at him by pandering political leaders and a public press on a feeding frenzy,

Burris has been one of the most descent public officials in recent history. In an Illinois environment of pay-to-play, insider deals, bribery, vote fraud, cronyism, nepotism, abuse of office, etc., Burris has kept his integrity. He has been faithful to the calling of public service.

He was the first African-American to win statewide office. In sixteen years in office, eight as Comptroller and eight as Attorney General, he was not once the subject of scandal. Somehow his unsuccessful bids for later offices are held against him despite the fact that those campaigns were run with dignity, intelligence and integrity. Losing an election is no sin – and consider for one moment the caliber of those who beat him.

Burris’ critics come in two varieties. The first group is composed of the revisionists, who once praised and endorsed him for public office in the past. On the basis of nothing more than their almost crazed desire to “get” Governor Rod Blagojevich (who certainly deserves to be “got,” and will be), they have turned on Burris like rabid dogs.

For the revisionists, the mere acceptance of a seat in the U.S. Senate wiped out a long, distinguished and honorable career in politics. In maligning Burris, they are re-writing history. Burris is retroactively declared to be a hack politician, an ego maniac, a scumbag of sorts.

What Burris did is not illegal. It is not immoral. It is not even the slightest disservice to the public. As a career politician, his interest and willingness to accept a historic senate seat is understandable. I suspect there are a lot of “good people” who would have done the same. I would have.

Then there are those who still say Burris is a “good man” … “qualified” … “competent” … but he should not have been seated due to the sins of the appointer. They say the appointment is “tainted.” There opposition has nothing to do with Burris as a person. It is that damn Blagojevich.

This is nothing less than guilt by association – and a hypocritical double standard, to boot. Many of the very same people who wrap Blago around Burris had, themselves, close working relationships with the Governor. Lt. Governor Pat Quinn was his running mate for re-election even as the feds were closing in. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was Blago’s campaign co-chairman. Much of the media that now demonizes Burris by the proxy of Blagojevich endorsed the Governor’s re-election on their editorial pages.

Taking it personal … I have known Roland for almost 30 years as a friend and as a member of the board of the City Club of Chicago, in the days I served as its executive director. Though I generally leaned Republican, he always had my support because of his competency and decency.

Though much has been made of his monumental grave marker, Roland has always been a humble and unpretentious man. I have never known him to use race to his advantage or as an excuse.No matter how he got there, or who appointed him, or the twisted logic that places the wrongs of the Governor on his shoulders, I know one thing for sure. Illinois has sent a good man to Washington, and I am confident that he will serve the people of Illinois with effectiveness, dedication and integrity.

>REACT: Jose Serrano: The man who would have a king

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I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!

I recently told my son that I would not be surprised if there was an effort to rescind the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — the one that limits a President to two terms – now that the Democrats have a lock on Congress and a potentially popular President.

The tradition of two terms was established by George Washington, who appreciated the risk of a President amassing too much power by a life time in office. That is the manner of despots, not (small d) democrats.

It was a good tradition and one that was honored out of principle until a (big D) Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt (right, in cape), recognized and seized the opportunity to become America’s dictator – well almost. His authoritarian lust was stopped by what was left of the democratic spirit and by the Creator, who called FDR home before he could complete his quest for power.

Realizing just how close we came to an omnipotent President, the Congress passed the 22nd Amendment. The Amendment legislation was supported and signed by the man best able to see close up the corrupting influence of prolonged power, FDR’s own Vice President, Harry Truman (right). Many of those who supported FDR’s policies endorsed the Amendment. It was a close call for America, and they knew it.

Since Democrats tend to be the party of power over principle, one could anticipate that the temptation to institutionalize their advantage and status would manifest itself in a number of ways – and perpetual power for a President is one of them.

Rising to the occasion is Congressman Jose Serrano (left), a New York City Democrat (which says a lot). He has introduced legislation that would abolish the term limit for the President – not just a President, but for HIS President, Barack Obama. It is a flagrant attempt to seize power for his party, nothing more … nothing less.

Serrano’s desire to prolong the tenure of the head of state maybe explains, or is explained by, his unwavering support and affection for Cuba’s long time dictator, Fidel Castro. Serrano obviously has no respect for the “liberty” portion of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

This is such a bad idea that I would hope his constituents would throw him out of office at the very next opportunity. Unfortunately, his overwhelmingly Hispanic district returns him to Congress by margins that have exceeded 90 percent.

I think any member of Congress who signs on as a co-sponsor of this awful and dangerous legislation should be bounced … and any member who votes for it. These are people who have a dangerous lack of appreciation for the safeguards that have preserved our basic liberties for more than 200 years.

Washington was wise and noble to propose the limit on himself and his successors. When voluntary compliance failed, the Congress was wise to include the protection in the Constitution.

This is an issue upon which President Obama must be very clear and convincing in his opposition. Any equivocation should bring down an avalanche of negative public opinion. At least I sure hope so.

REACT: Blago impeached AGAIN!!! But not in the eyes of his sister-in-law.

It was only a technicality. The newly seated Illlinois House had to reaffirm the vote of the outgoing assembly. This time the vote to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich was 117 to 1.

The “all in the family” political culture of Illinois did produce one interesting vote — it was that lonely “no” vote. It was cast by newly elected State Representative Deborah Mell.

The name sound familiar?

Yep! She is the daughter of powerhouse Alderman Dick Mell … AND sister of Mrs. Blagojevich. She is the impeached governor’s sister-in-law.

Frankly, I am shocked and disappointed that she voted “no.” I wouldn’t expect her to ruin future Christmases with her sister by voting “yes,” but I think she had a clear obligation to abstain in view of the obvious conflict of interest.

In one of her first acts as a representative of the people, with a sworn duty to uphold the law, not-so-Representative Mell opted to cast a personal vote for the exclusive benefit of her family. With 117 votes against her, it is preposterous to suggest that she voted on the merits of the issue or the public interest.

It appears that the heirs to the various political peerages in Illinois are no more imbued wtih a sense of propriety, principle and reform than are their elders.

IDEA: Obama in mint condition

If you follow this blog, you know I’m a great fan of Abraham Lincoln. As such, I have written often against the elimination of the Lincoln penny. I know I am a few years ahead of things, but here is my idea.

First, let’s all agree that unless Obama screws up badly, he is destined to be immortalized on some denomination of coin or currency. Right? Well, what about creating the Lincoln-Obama penny – a double profile impression. This is a case where two heads are definitely better than one. This would most certainly end any talk of doing away with the distinctive copper coin. Yea!

It is also a most fitting match up. The Great Emancipator and the first African-American President. The fact that both claim Illinois as their home state is a charming coincidence. On the reverse, I propose we replace the Lincoln Memorial with the iconic, albeit romanticized, abolition image (left) of Lincoln personally bestowing freedom on a slave.

This also solves another problem. If you don’t double up on the penny, who gets knocked off one of the other coins or bills to make room for Obama? Washington? Jefferson? Roosevelt? Or, you could wind up putting Obama on a denomination that gets no significant circulation.

I think Old Abe would be right proud to share his coin with the first President that at least looks like he could have had slave ancestors.

(A special thanks to my colleague, Xiong Neng Her, for the execution of the design.)

REACT: Club Gitmo to close as part of Obama austerity policy

I see where President-elect Barack Obama promises to close one of the more fashionable Caribbean spas. I am speaking of Club Gitmo, the terrorist vacation facility on the tropical shores of Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay. Where these guests of the United States government will go next is yet unknown, but most likely they will be placed into the hands of some foreign government host – one more in keeping with the hospitality traditions of their homeland.

Like any luxury spa, Club Gitmo is a full service resort, featuring life-style counselors, recreational activities, room service, free medical coverage, gourmet meals (at least compared to what they received back home), religious services, and excellent security. Rooms (right) are designed in the minimalist style that is all the rage these days.

Some complained of the fraternity-like hazing practices, which even at the best campuses always seem to involve some level of nudity, and the more robust health club activities, such as water boarding and sleep(less) therapy. Still, these were pretty tame compared to similar places in other parts of the world.

I am sure once these mass murders are relocated to other facilities in their native lands, they will long for the days of leisure at Club Gitmo. The new accommodations are not likely to be as commodious, nor the service as polite.

It would be interesting to see how they are doing in a year or so, but as so often is the case, one loses contact with such old friends. In all probability, some will never be heard from again.

OBSERVATION: Protect the right to be tortured

I have been giving more thought to all this talk about torture. I don’t get it. I sort of see torture as something people engage in voluntarily. Maybe those who are tortured are masochists of a sort. They not only choose to be tortured, they have a lot of influence on the methods. You see, all torture is a matter of free choice.

Think about it. Some guy is told that if he does not answer a question correctly, he will have his testicles oiled, wired and braised like fresh water clams. Clearly, he has a choice. The fact that a number of people prefer the latter may not be comprehensible to those of us who have no desire be grilled — figuratively or literally. But everyone is different. Who am I to impose my values on someone else?

Some people are happy to tell you what they know – can’t wait to brag. Some respond to a simple “please,” or a more emphatic “pretty please.” Others might require a little arm twisting, as they say. But then, there are those who seem to want to explore their personal limits of fear and pain. Why should we deny them there right to do so? We are a free country, after all.

To look at it another way, it is like a quiz show. Remember “Truth or Consequences?” Same deal. If you didn’t tell the “truth,” you got the “consequences.” It was a really popular show.

Maybe if we televised torture, it wouldn’t seem so bad. The hooded hostage holders of al-Qaida televise all kinds of torture and even slitting the throats of infidels on camera — and that seems to be quite well received with their viewing audience.

I’m thinking we produce a contemporary version: “Truth or Consequences – The Reality Show.” Consistent with our current cultural values, violence and blood could be viewed alongside Saturday morning cartoons, but anything involving nudity would be restricted to late night programming.

Finally, the television would be an important source of education for the children by witnessing the use of such retro devices as the Iron Maiden and the Rack (both pictured on left) – not to mention the debilitating affect of hard rock music played at deafening levels over prolonged periods of time (another Iron Maiden, coincidentally).

Of course, sometimes those tortured die. Everything in life has its risk. If a blood-thirsty maniacal terrorist is determined to stay silent in the face of possible death, again it is his choice. Not much different than assisted suicide, I dare say. This would also be consistent with their cultural and religious suicidal tendencies – usually expressed in crowded places. They seem to get a real bang out of it.

Don’t think I am an unsympathetic person. I know what such decisions are like – and so do a lot of other people. One time a guy pointed a gun at me on a dark street in Washington, D.C. He said, “Give me your money or I’ll kill you.” He was kind enough to give me a choice. I could have said “no” and exposed myself to serious injury or death. I chose to eagerly offer him the contents of my wallet – and I threw in a diamond ring and wrist watch as an incentive not to shoot me anyway. Life certainly can be a matter of making the right choices.

It seems to me that the best example we can show those who would destroy our civilization is our ultimate respect for their right to choose. As a just and honorable society, we must always make sure they know exactly what the consequences are if they choose not to answer the questions correctly. It is also important that once they refuse the less painful option, we must apply the promised consequence with speed and certainty. Honesty is, as they say, the best policy.

I can only assume that the campaign against the option of torture is just the latest example of those control freak liberals wanting to deny people yet another freedom of choice.