Women are the problem

You know, there are lots of problems in America.  The poor are spending our money like it belongs to them, we’re being attacked on a daily basis by Muslims, and Mexicans are stealing our high-paying jobs.  But what do these things all have in common?  Women, that’s what.  redneck pregnant woman

I mean, women are Muslims, and they’re Mexicans.  And a few other things that if I mentioned them the pc police would get all in my stuff.  And all they do is cause problems.

Let me give you an example.  What happened in Colorado Springs is horrible.  I mean, women went in there to cut up fetuses for money!  Some idiots think they were getting medical care or making sure that they wouldn’t get pregnant.  Tell me another joke.  I mean, no wonder that everyone is up in arms (literally, get it?).  It’s time for us to do something about all these women, and here’s what we should do:

  1. First, we have to knock them down a peg or two.  I mean, how valuable is a woman to society, anyway?  I say women are worth about 3/5 of a man (Right men?), so let’s just put that in the Constitution.  That means they have to spend 40% of their time serving men – who really run this place – and then they can spend the other 60% on household chores or whatever menial labor they can find.
  2. Taking care of their medical needs has gotta stop stop right away.  It only leads to bad stuff.  Doesn’t matter what they want, what’s growing down there or how it happened; just let it be.  That’s what Jesus would do.
  3. If women do something stupid and get pregnant, we shouldn’t have to pay the price for it, even if they can’t work because they have a kid.  Cut off all financial assistance for women.
  4. And why should we pay for their dumb kids?  Cut off all early childhood education as well.  While we’re at it, let’s dump funding for public schools.  Half those kids – and you know which half – are racially dumb, and we shouldn’t have to pay for them.  If you’re not white…I mean, rich enough to pay for the kid’s education, just teach ’em about Jesus at home.

If we care about America – and I care A LOT – this is what we’ll do.  We’re gonna help all those women to help themselves, because that’s the American way.  Oh, and build a big frickin’ wall to keep out all those lazy Mexicans who steal our high-paying jobs, and the Islamic terrorists who keep shooting people in abortion clinics and all.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Go Trump! Let’s make America great again!

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The war Christians…I mean, Christmas

I’m a Jew in a Christian country.  According to the results of a Pew study released in May of 2015, over 70% of U.S. citizens identify themselves as Christians.  So when people call it “Christmas break” or wish me a merry Christmas, I recognize where it’s coming from and don’t take offense.

Huckabee's war on christmas

Nothing brings out the Christmas spirit like war metaphors.

I also understand that towns and school districts sometimes change “Christmas break” to “winter break” in the name of being more inclusive; an admirable objective, although not a big issue with me.  I also wouldn’t care whether Starbucks decided to put a picture of Jesus on their cups, or if Santa was seen sporting a yarmulke.

What does offend me is people getting up in arms and calling an attempt at inclusiveness a “war on Christmas,” particularly because they really mean that there is a war on Christianity (which of course is ironic, because Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in the world).  Even ignoring the blatant use of hyperbole in these assertions, the idea that Christmas is under threat because someone wants to be more inclusive is, well, imbecilic.   In fact, this umbrage is really a thinly veiled burst of venom from social conservatives who are desperately worried that their tenuous hold on power – along with their ability to legislate our morality – is evaporating.  War-on-xmas-4

And it is.  According to that same Pew study, the number of ‘Nones’ – that is, people who identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated – jumped almost 42% between 2007 and 2014.  Another Pew study showed that as a whole, the United States is becoming less religious.

Even so, Christianity is neither under assault nor is it a dying faith; in fact, it’s alive and well on a global scale. So when  Ted Cruz pretends that there is a war on faith, he’s full of it.  And Donald Trump’s war on Christmas is a fabrication,  and Ben Carson’s  “war on the  pc police” is really a war on inclusiveness.   These guys aren’t worried about the importance of religion; they’re just using it as a lever to scare the crap out of (read: capture the vote of) disaffected middle-aged or elderly white people by preying on their fears.  It’s the same pretzel logic that’s used to stir up fear and hatred of Mexicans, Muslims, and even African-Americans.  And it’s shameful.

So when someone says Merry Christmas, I’ll probably just return the sentiment, because they’re just being friendly to me.  But if they tell me there’s a war on Christmas, I’ll know there’s nothing friendly about what they’re saying.

 

 

 

 

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A grammar colonic for the feisty

Some people think I complain too much.  Those people bug me, and let me tell you why (just kidding;  I’ll save that one for another post).  AndyRooney
Rather than taking the low road and calling my persistent grumbling a personality defect, I like to think of it as a foible, an idiosyncrasy, or even a positive attribute that demonstrates my unique approach to life.

In that positive spirit, here is today’s list of common grammar gaffes that bug me:

  •  “Every” and “day” don’t automatically go together because they’re next to each other.  The everyday misuse of those words bugs me every day.
  • Don’t capitalize stuff just for yuks.  Like most things in life, there are actually rules to capitalization, and Your Emphasis has not been increased just because you incorrectly capitalized the first letters.  ALL CAPS ARE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STORY, HOWEVER!
  • Advertisers of America, take note:  “Less” and “fewer” mean different things.  The fewer times I see them misused, the less I’ll complain.
  • So do “further” and “farther.”  If I see any further misuse, I’ll have to go farther away from the offender.
  • “Anyways” is not a word.  If it was a word, it would mean exactly the same thing as “anyhoo.”
  • “Myself” and “me” are not interchangeable.  I myself wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t happened to me just the other day.
  • When it’s more than one, get rid of the apostrophe.   It’s not just true for my friend; even my friend’s friends make that mistake (OK – that’s a reach,  but I was stuck on it and I just wanted to move on).

You know, that felt great, like a grammical colonic.    I’m feeling more verbally regular already.

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The Republican clown car hits a tree

The clown car of Republican presidential candidates for the 2016 election has created a lot of angst among people who are seriously concerned that Donald Trump, Ben Carson, or Ted Cruz might be elected president.  I understand their concern, but  is it even possible for anyone among this field of Republican candidates to satisfy the base during the primaries and then win the general election?trump-carson-cruz

The Republicans have come (or sunk, depending upon your point of view) a long way from the party of Lincoln to the party of Cruz, but there’s a clear historical context for the change.  Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” helped shape the constituency that controls today’s Republican party by capitalizing on Southern Democrats’ hatred of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, luring racist Democrats to vote the other way.  The strategy worked, as Nixon won the South and the election that year.  Reagan was able to consolidate support of the new and traditional Republican voters by creating a strong coalition of social and fiscal conservatives, which turned into the Republican juggernaut that dominated federal politics well into the 2000’s.

Today’s challenge for Republicans is that their increasing reliance on social conservatives – many of the same people who became Republicans through the Southern Strategy – alienates the vast majority of ethnic minorities and social moderates.  The Republican base – no longer the “big tent” of their heritage –  is a homogeneous group that has grown increasingly isolated from the rest of the country. Anti-immigration policies have generally shut out Latino minorities, the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country, while opposition to same-sex marriage and women’s rights have alienated large swaths of the rest of us.  All that’s left in the party, it seems, are angry, disaffected white men, and fringe religious groups.

All this means that by appealing to the base, Republican presidential candidates must alienate so many potential voters that by the time the general election rolls around, they don’t have the votes to win.  By the time Romney won the nomination in 2012, calling himself  “severely conservative” along the way (that’s a good thing?), he tried unsuccessfully to win back the more moderate voters whom he had alienated.  The same strategy is in place today, with Jeb Bush relabeling himself the “most conservative governor” and several candidates toughening their positions on divisive issues like immigration.  But it gets worse, as the leading candidates are either political neophytes (Trump, Carson, Fiorina) with no track record to use against them, or so extreme that they’re isolated within their own party (Cruz).   The base no longer wants someone to move way right; they want someone who’s never been anywhere else.

Most American voters don’t share the beliefs that are now central to the Republican party.  For example, research by the non-partisan Pew Institute found that more than 70% of Americans believe that we should not deport undocumented workers, a stark deviation from Republican dogma.  A Qunnipiac University poll found that over 90% of all voters believe in universal background checks for gun buys.  In another Pew poll, 55% of Americans support same-sex marriage. And according to an AP poll earlier this year,  2/3 of Americans say that the rich are not taxed heavily enough.  By sticking to unpopular, divisive stances, the Republican party is marginalizing itself on a national scale.  Yes, individual candidates can still win in gerrymandered voting districts, but even this engineered success will be challenged as hard-line Republicans become minorities in their own voting districts.

Even prominent Republicans are disgusted.  David Brooks calls Republican leaders “The Incompetence Caucus.”  John Meredith, a prominent African-American Republican, is concerned about “The Republican Civil war” overtaking our country.  Colin Powell sees a dark vein of intolerance in the Republican party.

So can a Republican be elected president in 2016?  Do we even have a two-party race for the presidency anymore?  It’s looking increasingly doubtful that either of these questions can be answered positively by Republicans unless they take a long, hard look at who their base is today, and who they want it to be in the future.

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Have a nice day!

“Romeo????  Romeo!!!!  Wherefore art thou!!!!!!”

bigstock-Angry-man-screaming-32404904

Ouch!

Screwing up the punctuation can turn an amorous inquiry into something your mom might say when you leave your skateboard in the hallway ( “Get your butt down here at once, Romeo Montague!” ). Replace a period with a question mark, say, and a valid question turns into a line from an a Abbott and Costello routine:

  • Where is the 2 PM meeting.
  • Who is responsible for this.
  • What is the next step.

Another assault on the punctuation mark is the misuse of the acme of urgency:  the exclamation point.   As you know, exclamations are meant to express sharp cries or emotions (Notice how they cleverly encapsulated the word “exclaim”  in “exclamation.”).   For example:

  • It’s a boy!
  • My pants are on fire!
  • You just drove over my foot, as$h%$&!

Now, which of the sentences below – all retrieved from my inbox – is an exclamation?

  • I don’t know, but I believe So-and-so does!
  • Just took a look but I don’t see any!
  • See you on Monday!

You’re right!  I mean, you’re right – none of them is an exclamation.  That’s the problem: the exclamation point has become so overused that real exclamations can go unnoticed.  Imagine a world in which every mundane statement sounded like a life-changing event:

  • It’s a boy!
  • I am joyless and devoid of feeling!

You wouldn’t know whether to hand out cigars or kill yourself.  Of course, emotions are much easier to understand in person:  the raised voice, the sweat, the fire licking under the door.  But if you completely misuse an exclamation point when you’re writing, the purpose of your communication is obscured so that you are no longer able to convey emphasis where it’s needed.  For example:

Hi Joe,

Great to see you today!  I’m glad things worked out!  If you don’t sign the contract by tomorrow, I’ll be fired!  Have a great evening!

Alex 

On top of thinking that I’m a dimwit, Joe may not pay attention to the most important sentence in that email: about him having a great evening.   That would be a shame.

Using exclamation points inappropriately isn’t cute or friendly; you don’t seem like a nicer or more cheerful person because you use them indiscriminately.  Instead, you diminish the value of what you’re saying and maybe even run the risk of casting yourself in a negative light to your audience.  So if you want to close the deal or get that promotion, don’t misuse exclamation points!  I mean, don’t use exclamation points.

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Reality TV: Satan, sweat, and more!

Since people love reality TV, I’m going to pitch the following story.  Let me know if you think it has legs (That’s a pun. You’ll see).

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 12.49.18 AMIt involves six middle-aged men in a van taking turns running about 100 miles, stopping only occasionally to drop off and pick up runners, grab a meal, and tend to other basic needs that don’t include sleeping or showering. It’s loosely based on my experiences during the 2015 Reach the Beach Relay, in which I shared a van with – you guessed it – five other middle-aged men.

What scintillating topics might be covered when six men spend 30 hours trapped together in a tight space?   Here are a few ideas – out of thin air, of course:

  • Polite conversation about how the guy in van one nearly pooped himself during his run and charming anecdotes about everyone’s similar experiences.  Also some detailed discussions of the most effective peeing strategies for runners – not nearly as spirited.  Numerous references to Porta-Potties, their benefits, and pitfalls.  Finally, some academic discussion about the molecular composition of one’s body odor –  say, mine – compared to things that have died. Actually, strike that last topic, as I think it is not respectful of the dead.  Either way, hilarity ensues.
  • The anatomy of a waiter’s girlfriend and its impact on the participants’ collective future.  Before assuming that our protagonists are cretins, consider that during a rare, brief restaurant hiatus, a waiter offers to have his girlfriend stand on the relay course in a bikini as motivation for the runners to finish.  This, of course, sparks a lot of speculation:  would this cause them to stop and admire her beauty or run faster to [not] admire her [not] beauty? Either way, hilarity ensues.
  • An in-depth conversation about Satan’s asshole.  Satan’s asshole is (obviously) a leg during the relay that is so named because it’s a pretty tough run. I have no clue about how it compares to Satan’s real, ya know, butt, but I’m guessing it’s different. Van-mates discuss the origin and suitability of this name, and then try in vain to use other parts of Satan’s anatomy to describe additional running segments.  They fail, noting that  once you name something after Satan’s asshole, no other parts of his body seem worthy of association.

    Artist's rendition of Satan's asshole. Do you capitalize the second A?

    Artist’s rendition of Satan’s asshole. Do you capitalize the second word?

  • Donald Trump.   Assuming he’s still running for president, a raucous discussion of The Donald is must-see TV, followed by a smooth segue to pictures of train wrecks.
  • Driving skills.  Each participant takes turns driving.  One scares the others repeatedly.   We  really needed to give Stew more time behind the wheel. Hilarity ensues.
  • Lost stuff.  Participants lose sweaty articles of clothing, which end up touching others and skeeving them out.  Then sweaty undergarments go missing, raising suspicions and evoking dirty looks.  Tensions rise.
  • A discussion of Ginger or Mary Anne.  Mary Ann.

Season one concludes with a frolic on the beach, where participants are greeted by beautiful supermodels and a five-course meal.   The final scene shows a sunset dinner with  supermodels, champagne, and romance.   Fade to black.

What do you think?  We could film season one in the Fall of 2016.

* Disclaimer:  Certain topics did not arise during the actual van ride  (I still say Mary Ann).   The rest is true.

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Nativia

Nativia

Will there be a nativiaity scene in Nativia?

I recently came across a scintillating Facebook post claiming that Sarah Palin wants all the Native Americans to leave the U.S. and go back to Nativia.  I could easily see Palin uttering those very words,  but a visit to snopes.com confirmed that it was too good to be true.  Even after I revealed in the thread that the post was fallacious, lots of people continued to either gleefully revel in the confirmation that Palin is a moron (Does that still need confirming?) or lash out self-righteously about Palin-bashing.

As a deception, a Palin snope doesn’t even register on the danger meter.  Some are much more serious, like the strip-search phone call scam, whose success still blows my mind.  Apparently if you put it out there, somebody  will believe it – regardless of the consequences.

So how do you know what’s true and what’s a bald-faced lie?  Here are a few pointers:

First,  if your ‘evidence’ consists of an email, a Facebook post or perhaps a coffee-stained, stapled manifesto, it’s definitely true.   Just because you never heard it on the news or saw it in a so-called reputable newspaper shouldn’t deter you from following your heart.  In particular, you should always trust any assertion  by someone who keeps cash in mattresses or lives in a bunker.

Second, if it sounds like bullshit, you may be letting the facts get in the way of your point of view.  If you need further evidence, please Google Donald Trump.

Foil

Unlike the other nut-cases, this guy’s conspiracy theory is true.

Third, When you’re on the fence and looking for evidence, do a smell test of your sources.  As you know, the U.S. government, the CDC, the WHO, the New York Times, and all the rest of ’em are all out to get you. So if you have to choose between one those institutional liars and the guy in the tin-foil helmet clutching a semiautomatic weapon, is there even a question?

And finally, if you’ve been a victim of an Internet snope or scam at some point in the past, you should definitely go with your gut.  What’s the chance you could be wrong twice?

Following these simple steps will not only guide your decision-making process, but also make you a hero to all of your Facebook friends who can’t wait to find out that the U.S. is taking over Texas,  martial law is about to be declared, and that a fat woman starved her kids to eat more.

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