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manure-pile-for-sale

If you have a mailbox, own a phone, or drive around town, you know that it’s election time. And unlike Christmas, it’s not the most wonderful time of year. The political campaign “literature” is cheap, pathetic, tasteless, and worst of all, bull shit. It’s a shame that our politicians, both the home-grown variety and state and national candidates, only reach out to us when they want our vote. Following is the text of a speech given by the Cowardly Lion who is not afraid to speak his mind on political manure:

“Candidates of all parties, gender, race, creed and color, lend me your ears. What the hell is wrong with you?  Do you think we’re all stupid?  Your flyers, mailers and television ads are an embarrassment. Maybe blind political party followers believe the crap that you are shoveling, but the majority of us say enough is enough!  If any of you office seekers actually did a small fraction of what you claim you did, then why are we stuck in a quagmire? And, if your opponents only did a small percentage of the things you accuse them of doing or failed to do while in office, why aren’t there more investigations and arrests?

When are you going to get it through your thick, manicured heads, that in the end, the winner is sent to represent “all” of us…not just those people who voted for you.

Don’t you realize that every slur you make about your opponent might come back to haunt us if he/she wins? If you have done a job convincing the electorate that your opponent is an idiot, but you didn’t do “a good enough job” to get elected, you have essentially sent a jerk into office.

Do us all a favor. Be honest and avoid slinging the mud. Let us decide.

I approve this speech.”

Fork in road

Whoopi Goldberg, the host of ABC’s “The View,” opened today’s show (10/10/2014) by making a simple, straightforward statement. Since I never intended on quoting her, I can only hope my capsule summary of her opening remarks retains the spirit of her actual words: We have hundreds of good cops all across the country doing a good job. But there seem to be some cops who are not doing a good job.

Whoopi went on to explain that there have been a number of videos catching bad cops in action and that these cops are making it bad for good cops.

Whoopi Goldberg is one of the few celebrities who makes a concerted effort to be “fair and balanced.”  She has some strong opinions, but she always expresses them in a way that you can see where she is coming from.  Unlike the Wizard of Oz who was ultimately unmasked , Whoopi would, in my opinion, make a good Wizard of Oz.

If I could have a conversation with Whoopi, I would hasten to bring up a point we sometimes forget as we approach a forked road on the YBR.

There is no denying that bad cops are making big, bad headlines. Not only that, but their antics are being broadcast on television and uploaded to YouTube. Though only a small percentage of cops ever make the headlines, they are creating a tsunami of sorts that is racial by nature…and perhaps, design.

Whoopi’s remarks and the view-versation that followed reminded me of the Tolstoy line in Anna Karenina:  “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Now, you might be wondering, what does that quote have to do with Whoopi’s remark about good cops/bad cops.

Now, you might be wondering, what does that quote have to do with Whoopi’s remark about good cops/bad cops. Think about it this way: All good cops are alike; each bad cop is bad in his/her own way.

To make it more relevant, think about this.  When you pick up a newspaper, go to your favorite internet site for news, turn on the radio, or catch the broadcast news and what do you find?  If there was an accident, there will be a story about it.  But will there be any stories about the drivers who didn’t have an accident? If a cat gets stuck in a tree and is helped down, the story will find its way into print. If the cat got down on his own power…you’ll never read about it.

Get my point?  Bad news sells. Good news, doesn’t.  On the same day that one bad cop somewhere out there takes the law into his own hands, there are hundreds of cops stopping crimes, making legal arrests….and in short, protecting us by doing what they swore they would do when they became cops.

Unfortunately, good cop stories rarely, if ever, make headlines.

Bottom line: Bad cops make good copy. Good cops make pr, and we all hate pr because it’s so contrived.

So, when a really bad cop-story takes the nation by storm, we all join in and voice are opinions, especially if it involves a white cop and a person of color.  Because such stories get so much press, we seem to forget what Whoopi said about all the good cops out there.

There is no room in any police force for a bad cop. And the law should be upheld when it has been proven…in a court of law, not the court of public opinion, that a bad cop has violated the rights of a citizen of any color.

We are at a fork in the road. Our heads are being filled with stories that seem to force us to take sides. Too many of us go blindly down one road because it fits the story we want to believe.

Let’s not forget that there are far more good cops than there are bad ones. Let’s also remember that we can never make excuses for a bad cop doing bad things.

hero

If the tension in the Middle East, the barbarism of ISIS, the world economy and the breakdown of security in America weren’t enough for us to deal with, we can now add Ebola to our plate of concerns. While Oz was known to have its problems…houses fallng from the sky, bad witches making serious threats, flying monkeys, etc., our problems are weighing down our fragile spirits.

What we are in desperate need of is a hero. Perhaps more than one is needed, but other than going to our favorite deli and ordering one, where in the world are we going to find the perfect hero? In the White House? In the halls of Congress? In the corridors of the Fortune 500? Among religious leaders? In Hollywood?

You know the lyric from the pop tune “looking for love in all the wrong place?”  Well, if we going looking for a hero in some of the aforementioned places, we’ll be looking in all the wrong places.

It’s very important to understand that while we think of our times as “the best of times and the worst of times<” we are not alone in our thinking.  There has never been a time in human history that did not try men’s souls. Humanity seems to have a pretty crappy track record in many regards.  In the last century alone there were over 270 wars, civil and otherwise, around the world, with a los of over 77 million people.  How many of those who were casualties of war might have been the hero the world was looking for?  And as fearful as we are of the possible spread of Ebola, consider the millions of people who died during the raging spread of the Spanish Flu (1918/19). How many heroes did we bury in early graves?

Today Americans are looking to the man in the White House for the hero we want to save the world.  Guess what?  The hero we need is not living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And that’s not meant to be an attack on President Obama. Considering the number of problems he’s facing at home and abroad, it is totally unfair for us to expect him to wave a magic wand and make all our problems go away.

Diseases, a bad economy and internal strife can all be dealt with if we put aside our prejudices and political beliefs. We can help turn the course of humanity in the right direction if we follow the yellow brick road…a raod paved with kindness, consideration and compassion.

But, it’s going to take a lot more than that to end the hatred the seems to be growing like a cancer around the world.  We will not find a cure for this cancer if we attack it with closed minds.  That doesn’t mean we have to condone any of the heinous acts committed in the name of religion. What we have to do is face some hard, cold facts.  Religion is, in my opinion, the cause of most of our problems. Not that religion is wrong, per se, but it is the stringent list of doctrines and sometimes archaic beliefs that instead of opening our hearts, bind them with heavy chains.

People are continually debating over wether or not the Koran calls for the blood of infidels. The debate is futile, because if even only one person is a “believer” of such an inhuman doctrine, there is a chance that such a belief will be embraced by hundreds, thousands and even millions.

Wanting a hero is a noble belief, but we have to be careful for what we wish for, because the perfect hero might not necessarily be an American, nor might such a fantastic hero actually be on board with everything we believe.

Alas. Our journey for the perfect hero is more than likely going to end up the way it did for Dorothy when, with the help of Toto, unmasked the less than great and powerful Wizard of Oz.

The real hero is inside each and every one of us. Every opportunity we have to be selfless and act for the good of others with no expectations, is one small step in finding the perfect hero. – Eleanor Roosevelt

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A political campaign commentary by A. Munchkin

It happens around this time every year all across Oz.  The emerald green lawns stop growing as the nights grow colder, but something else sprouts up at night in full bloom. Campaign signs. Those unimaginative signs in truly patriotic colors that bear the name of someone running for one office or another.  One day you’ll drive by a green patch of land and see one or two of these signs, but by the end of the week you can’t even see the green patch anymore.

The only thing worse than those “clutterful” signs is television campaign commercials. They fall into one of two categories. You have the one kind that extols the virtues of the candidates. You know the ads I’m talking about.  The voice-over usually goes something like this.

BoyScouts

“He was born of a virgin in a stable. Wise men from super powers recognized him as the one leader ordained by a supreme being. These wise men traveled miles to present him with the gifts of brains, a heart and courage and he has used them to eradicate poverty, abolish the common core, provide free health care for every living creature, raise the minimum wage to $2,678.50 an hour, and reduce our carbon footprint by 600%.

From such humble buildings A. Hole has become a world leader that every gosh-darn citizen of mother earth loves and adores. As a junior state assemblyman he was the first to solve the great debate over plastic or paper.

And now he seeks your vote to put him in the White House where he can continue to work for you.

Vote for an A. Hole.

‘I am A. Hole and I approve this message.”

And then there is the other ad lovingly known as the attack ad.  It goes like this.

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“If you think we need another A. Hole in the White House, go for it. But before you pull that lever on election day, here are a few things you ought to know about him.

While in the state assembly, A. Hole voted 637 times to turn abandoned schools into casinos.

A .Hole is a member of a group of people who want to eliminate daylight savings time.

A. Hole went on record to say that anyone who disagrees with him is an ass hole. (Ain’t that the pot calling the kettle black.)

A Hole is pro anti everything and flip flops like a dying mackerel.

As the puppet of a CEO of a large toxic waste dump, A. Hole wants to turn dumps into play grounds.

If you want to poison the White House, A. Hole is your man.

Paid for by the friends of B. Shit.

Not only should we expect a lot more from the men and women running for office, we should demand it.  Don’t go to the polls on election day. Make your non-vote count!

US-Constitution

A search of the Emerald City archives leaves us empty handed when it comes to any documents regarding the rights of the good people of Oz. No declarations. No constitution. How fortunate we are to have such founding documents because they not only allow us to express our differences of opinions, these documents encourage public debate because without active dialogue and open discussion, we are not really free.

September 17 has been designated as Constitution Day. The opening words should ring a bell of freedom:

We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Beyond those 52 words, I wonder how many of the full 4,400 words in the “ancient” document we aware of are.  When was the last time (or first time) you took the time out of your busy facebook selfie world to read the document that tells us how we are governed?

I just re-read the Constitution, but unfortunately it did not grip me the way it should have, or at least impress me as much as the words in the Declaration of Independence or Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address do. Shame on me. But, I don’t feel ashamed. Better to attempt to live free and fight for the rights of others.

I liken it to an office copier. I’ve read how a copy machine works…the technology, that is, and to be honest, it was beyond my pay grade. However, that didn’t keep me away from copy machines.  In fact, when I stand before a copy machine, I humbly submit to the power it has and appreciate the science that’s involved. And I will also admit that I can get very angry at a copy machine when it doesn’t work, when it eats my paper or flashes a signal to open door one, pull tab B, etc. And when I am completely frustrated…I kick the stupid machine.

That, I believe, is the average Americans relationship with the US Constitution. We want it to work, we expect it to work, and we don’t appreciate it when it doesn’t work.

Unfortunately we don’t need to have a real relationship with a copy machine, but we do need to embrace our Constitution because it supports and defends our rights to live free.

In all honesty I came away from my re-reading of the Constitution understanding one thing.  The cherished document of 1789 is filled with a laundry list of how things are to work. They delineate the structure of how we are to be governed. But what this document does not do is instruct us how to live.  That’s what we learn from the spirit of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

In order for us…as a people…to become a more perfect union, we have to place some trust in the US copy machine, aka, the US Congress, the Executive Office, and the Supreme Court.

When we go into the voting booth on Election Day and pull those levers, we are pushing the button on the copy machine that guides and governs. We can only hope and pray that the damn machine won’t jam.

fifteen babies-LR

Yesterday  millions of Americans stopped what they were doing to remember the heroes and ordinary people who perished in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and  on doomed flight 93. There were close to 3000 reasons why we needed to remember. But that was yesterday. That was 13 years ago.

What we don’t think about is that yesterday 13,238 newly minted teenagers blew out the candles on their birthday cakes. And while the names of those 13,238 babies born on September 11, 2001 were not announced yesterday, we need to focus on them because they carry with them a special burden. There’s no way they will ever escape the shadow of 9/11 because it will follow them all the days of their lives.

They were each given a their own name: Jennifer, Jeremy, Nicholas, Kieran, Bryan, Sarah, Courtney, Jillian, Brielle, Andrew, Landon, Addyson, Emily, Nora, Storm, etc. But they all have been given a coommon name, and that name is Hope. Hope that each of them will never take anything for granted.  Hope that each of them will be able to adopt one of the victims of 9/11 and carry them in their heart. Hope that one day they will be a reason why there is a little more love in the world. Let’s hope that they may be blessed with brains to do the right things, hearts that are filled with love for others, and the courage to stand tall against all obstacles.

Happy Birthday to the kids known as Hope. Instead of blowing out their candles, let’s keep them glowing brightly in the dark.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

 

 

pencil

 

From early tothood I learned the difference between going #1 and going #2.  Isn’t any surprise I was puzzled when my mother gave me a #2 pencil on my first day of school. What was she thinking?

It took less than a week before the bottom of my school bag looked like a recycling dump.

When they handed our text books, I always seemed to get ones that were at least ten years old when the kid in front and the kid behind me got new ones.  It started my love of old books.

I mastered the art of covering text books with brown paper grocery bags by the time I was in second grade. I saw career potential in it. I was thinking of opening a text book covering business.

I always remembered to write down my homework in my assignment book. But, I usually left it at school.  I was known for making a lot of phone calls to other kids in my class.  That helped a little…until I learned I had left my text book at school.

My book bag always smelled like an old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not surprising when I finally cleaned out my school bag and found a five-week old PB&J sandwich.  I started buying lunch at school when I was in the third grade. I looked forward to Wednesdays because that’s when they served spam.

Hated writing with a fountain pen because my pen always decided to throw up on my essays.  I thought “ink eradicator” was a godsend until I realized too much of it ate a hole right through the paper.  Many of my writing assignments looked like they had been written on Swiss cheese.

My favorite subject in elementary school was astrophysics. Never took it, but I’m sure I would have loved it.

Played the clarinet in the school band. Belated apologies to my family…and neighbors who thought I was strangling ducks.

My best friend in elementary school was me. (I used to get a big kick out of me.)

I always wanted a pair of Keds to wear in gym. My parents told me Keds were too expensive, that’s why I got my sneakers from “Two Guys of Massapequa.”  Their sneakers cost three bucks.  I drew the Keds symbol on my sneakers to look cool.  That’s where my love of graphics started.

My first grade teacher was Miss Van (that’s what we called her because her real name was too hard to pronounce. I think it was Van DerWhistejammerheimer).  She was everything a first grade teacher should be.

My second grade teacher was Mrs. Marie Stamm.  She was 136 years old, walked with a limp and I think had a glass eye. She scared the #2 pencil out of me for the entire year.

I must have been in a coma for third grade because I have no idea who my teachers were.  Yeah. I had two of them.  The only thing I remember about third grade wash having to spell “Eisenhower” in a class spelling bee.  I spelled it correctly but was knocked out when I had to spell “boot.”  I added an extra “t.”

My fourth grade teacher was A for excellent.  My first male teacher.  Today his name would be cause for problems. His name was Mr. Dick.

My fifth grade teacher must have been cloned from Mrs. Stamm. His name was Mr. Alan. I think the only way to get him to smile would have been to stand him on his head.

I ended elementary school with a super teacher.  Mr. Gerald FitzGerald.  Gave me the gift of learning for a life time.

Although I was never elected to any class office, I was always appointed to two positions: Milk-hander-outter and Eraser-clapper.  I excelled in both positions. I never met a cow I didn’t like.

Junior high is a big blur.  It was like a bad acid trip.  I failed shop class. Surprise, surprise to anyone who has ever seen my handiwork around the house.

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