Monday, February 22, 2010

Quips and Quotations (Tin Pan Alley Edition)

There's no people like show people
They smile when they are low
Even with a turkey that you know will fold
You may be stranded out in the cold
Still you wouldn't 'change for a sack of gold
Let's go on with the show

--Irving Berlin

(OK, a blog's not exactly show biz, but it's as close as I'm likely to get--KJ)

Times have changed,
And we've often rewound the clock,
Since the Puritans got a shock,
When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
If today,
Any shock they should try to stem,
'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
Plymouth Rock would land on them.

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.

Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words
Writing prose, Anything Goes.

The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today,
When most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigolos
And though I'm not a great romancer
I know that I'm bound to answer
When you propose,
Anything goes

When grandmama whose age is eighty
In night clubs is getting matey with gigolo's,
Anything Goes.

When mothers pack and leave poor father
Because they decide they'd rather be tennis pros,
Anything Goes.

If driving fast cars you like,
If low bars you like,
If old hymns you like,
If bare limbs you like,
If Mae West you like
Or me undressed you like,
Why, nobody will oppose!
When every night,
The set that's smart
Is intruding in nudist parties in studios,
Anything Goes.

If saying your prayers you like,
If green pears you like
If old chairs you like,
If back stairs you like,
If love affairs you like
With young bears you like,
Why nobody will oppose!
...Anything goes!

--Cole Porter

(You've been forewarned--KJ)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I usually try to be amusing on this blog, even when discussing important world events. But there's a non-amusing side to me that I keep hidden. I hid it last week, and all the weeks before that. I'll hide it again next week. But this week I'm going to give you a glimpse of that side.

Loss seems to be the prevailing theme of my life these past few years.

First, I lost a job of 15 years.

Soon after, very soon after, I lost my mother. I had her almost three times as long as I had my job.

A year later, even though I got some money out of it, I lost the house I had lived in for 24 years.

This week I lost my cat, Omar. He'd been a good friend for seven years, through all the events I described above.

Some may think losing a cat isn't much. A lot of people don't like cats. They compare them unfavorably to dogs. They find cats snooty, even a little sinister. They certainly don't find them affectionate.

Well, those people who don't find a cat affectionate, have never had one jump on their lap and curl up in a ball. They've never been head-butted by a cat. They've never had a cat jump into bed with them right when they're about to go to sleep. They've never had a cat follow them around a big house, or a tiny apartment, for no reason whatsoever, other then they wanted to be in your presence.

Without a cat to trip over, that tiny apartment now seems a little bigger.

And my world feels a whole lot smaller.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Following Update

I'd like to welcome Workforced, who has a blog of the same name. His most recent post, an amusing take on advertising, can be found in the List of Blogs.

You know where the List of Blogs is, don't you? It's just under the ad box.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quips and Quotations (St. Valentine's Day Edition)

Where, oh, where, are you tonight?
Why did you leave me here all alone?
I searched the world over,
and thought I found true love,
You met another, and PHFFFT, you were gone.

--sung by Archie Campbell on Hee Haw

Ryan O'Neal: I'm sorry.
Ali McGraw: Love means never having to say your sorry.

--Love Story (1970)

Barbara Streisand: Love means never having to say you're sorry.
Ryan O'Neal: That's the most stupidest thing I've ever heard.

--What's Up, Doc (1973)

I didn't know if it was day or night
I started kissin' everything in sight
But when I kissed a cop down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
He broke my little bottle of Love Potion Number Nine

--The Clovers

Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx): Not that I care, but where is your husband?
Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont): Why, he's dead.
Rufus T. Firefly: I bet he's just using that as an excuse.
Mrs. Teasdale: I was with him to the very end.
Rufus T. Firefly: No wonder he passed away.
Mrs. Teasdale: I held him in my arms and kissed him.
Rufus T. Firefly: Oh, I see, then it was murder. Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.

--Duck Soup (1933)

Come back, Sally Field, all is forgiven!

--Marty Volare

Monday, February 8, 2010


This past Thursday, Republican Scott Brown was sworn in as the junior senator from Massachusetts, thus ending the Democrats ability to override a filibuster and pass any legislation that they damn well please.

Yeah, right, like they were doing that before Brown was sworn in. The health care bill had been whittled down so much, I believe all it really offered was discount coupons for a box of Kleenex at the local Walgreens.

Anyway, now that the Democrats have a constant filibuster threat from the other, rather than their own, side of the aisle, what do they do? In order to answer that question, I did some research on the topic, my primary sources being Wikipedia and the 1939 movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

The movie first. Mr. Smith stars Jimmy Stewart as Jefferson Smith, an idealistic Boy Scout-like troop leader who is plucked from obscurity by a corrupt political machine in an unnamed state to replace their just deceased toady in the U.S. Senate, the idea being that Smith is too inexperienced to stop or even recognize the kickbacks and influence peddling that's par for the course in the nation's capitol. But recognize it he eventually does, and balks at an unnecessary dam being built in his home state with federal dollars on land secretly owned by the machine. A corrupt product of that machine, Senator Paine, played by Claude Raines frames Smith for graft, the very same graft Smith was trying to prevent! Disillusioned, Smith is all set to leave Washington for good when his formerly cynical, now idealistic, Chief of Staff, played by Jean Arthur, talks him out of it. Together, they cook up a plan to clear his good name. The next morning, Smith launches a one-man filibuster to prevent both the unnecessary dam and his own expulsion from the Senate. Abandoned by both political parties--actually, I'm not sure there are political parties in this movie--Smith talks nonstop for days, until he collapses on the Senate floor. His conscience pricked, Senator Paine attempts suicide, and, when prevented from doing so, admits that Smith was right all along.

Pretty compelling, huh? But remember, folks, it's only a movie. To find out what happens in real life, I now turn to Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, the whole idea is to prevent a tyranny of the majority by the minority. The Constitution, in fact, already has checks and balances between the three equal branches of government to prevent such tyranny, but that wasn't enough, especially after the emergence of political parties. The Constitution does give the Senate the right to make its' own rules, and the filibuster was one of the first rules that it came up with. Basically, a senator, or more likely, a group of senators, who disagrees with a piece of legislation about to be passed by a simple majority, can speak as long as they wish, and about anything they wish, until they either run out of speakers, or 3/5ths of the Senate--60 senators--bring such debate to a close by invoking cloture.

So, the minority could stop legislation, what they considered tyranny, but at a price. As the hours dragged on, and each member took turns reading the entire Bible, phone book, the collected works of Shakespeare, the Encyclopedia Britannica, or even the proposed bill itself, they might ask themselves, "Is this legislation as tyrannical as all that?". Plus, filibusters get more media coverage. People may actually pay attention. One man's tyranny may be another man's voting rights. At least in 1964, when a civil rights bill came before Congress. The majority, meanwhile, just has to show up. If they get tired of just showing up, they either give in, or pressure a few people on the other side to change their minds. In 1964, the filibuster lasted 57 working days, including four Saturdays, until four senators changed their minds, and decided to vote for the now-historic civil rights legislation.

That was then. Since President Obama took office, the Senate minority has filibustered over 100 times. So where's all the media coverage of senators reading from the Bible, phone book, etc?

To quote Wikipedia:

In current practice, Senate Rule 22 permits filibusters in which actual continuous floor speeches are not required...


In the modern filibuster, the senators trying to block a vote do not have to hold the floor and continue to speak as long as there is a quorum.

A quorum is the minimum number of senators needed on the floor to conduct business.

Today, the minority just advises the majority leader that the filibuster is on. All debate on the bill is stopped until cloture is voted by three-fifths (now 60 votes) of the Senate.

So there's no cost, no sacrifice whatsoever, on the part of the minority to stop legislation they don't like. The filibuster has become a simple veto. Tyranny by the minority.

Is there any hope for the majority? Sure:

...the Senate Majority Leader may require an actual traditional filibuster if he or she so chooses.

The current Senate Majority Leader is Harry Reid, whom I defended on a different matter in a previous post. Why doesn't Reid just insist on a traditional filibuster? Reid isn't saying, but the Wikipedia article offers a possible clue:

Some modern Senate critics have called for a return to the old dramatic endurance contest but that would inconvenience all senators who would have to stay in session 24/7 until the filibuster is broken.

Nobody wants to be inconvenienced. Not the majority. Not the minority.

Toward the end of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, an exhausted Jimmy Stewart turns toward Senator Paine, a former idealist, and, in a hoarse voice, says,

"I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason any man ever fights for them; because of just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor.'... And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any other."

But nothing to lose any sleep over.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Vital Viewing

Super Bowl's almost upon us. We'll all be gathered around the TV set Sunday to watch the Indianapolis Horses play the New Orleans Prophets. But there may be some of you out there who don't quite understand football. To remedy that situation, I've called upon a certain southern sheriff to explain it to you:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Race Carded

Harry Reid is prejudiced against white people.

Huh? What's that, you ask. Don't you mean the Senate Majority Leader is prejudiced against blacks? That's what's implied by a new book that's out about the 2008 presidential race called Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann:

"He (Reid) was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' as he later put it privately".

Let's take each of these one by one, though not in order.

Reid seems to have gotten the most flack from white conservatives, and one notable black, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, for using the now-dated term Negro. It became dated sometime during the 1960s. Before that, both blacks and whites used the term. There's still a black organization called the United Negro College Fund. And the term is still used in a historic context, e.g., Before Satchel Paige joined the Cleveland Indians, he played for the Negro Leagues.

What was it exactly that made the anthropological-sounding Negro fall out of favor? My guess is it sounded a little too much like that other N word, the one that occasionally gets The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn banned from school libraries.

So, if Negro is, at best, passe, why does Harry Reid continue to use the word? Reid was born in 1939, so he would have been about 25 when the transition from Negro to Black occurred. OK, 25's not very old. You'd think he'd have kicked the Negro habit by now. The man's pushing 70! Yes, but it's those words and bywords and buzzwords and catch phrases we hear during out first couple of decades that sometimes stick with us. For instance, back when I worked in a distribution center, I was helping this girl about fifteen years younger than me ID some boxes. I asked her if she had a magic marker. She replied, "I have a marker, but I don't know if there's anything magic about it." She had never heard the term, yet it was common when I was a kid, and I can't help referring to such an item that way. Of course, a marker is unlikely to be offended by being called magic. If it could think, it might even take it as a compliment.

Another thing that got Reid in trouble was referring to Barack Obama as "light-skinned" and that this light skin would make him more palatable to the white electorate than an African-American with a darker hue. Since it's largely the Republican Party that's upset about what Reid said, perhaps they could run a darker-skinned candidate (Michael Steele, perhaps?) against Obama in 2012, and test this proposition. Put up or shut up. Of course, the white electorate may just ignore the color of skin altogether and focus, as Martin Luther King Jr once famously put it, on the content of character. Obama has an advantage there, too.

Finally, Reid said that Obama didn't talk with a Negro dialect unless by choice. I'll leave it to you folks to decide what exactly a Negro, or Black, or African-American dialect sounds like. I did watch quite a bit of C-SPAN during 2008, and I can tell you Obama sounded a little different, a little more southern, when speaking in a black church to an all-black audience. But then, so did Hillary Clinton.

The NAACP has stated it has no problem with Harry Reid's statements. Neither does Al Sharpton. What about President Obama? He's accepted Reid's apology, but then he also accepted Joe Biden's apology for calling him "clean" early in 2007. Whatever happened to Joe Biden, anyway?

So I really don't think Reid has a problem with black people. But I started this piece claiming it was white people he was prejudiced against. Why would I say that? Simple. Prejudice comes from the Latin word praejudicium, meaning, to prejudge. When Harry Reid said whites would prefer a light-skinned African-American to a dark-skinned one, and that these same whites would prefer one that spoke the King's English rather than Dixie, he was prejudging them. Ergo, Harry Reid is prejudiced against white people.

Given some of the stuff that comes out of white people's mouths, who can blame him?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Quips and Quotations--Special Theological Edition

If there were no God, it would have been necessary to invent him.


God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and go rape the planet--it's yours.

--Ann Coulter

God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq.

--George W. Bush

I think God's will has to be done in unifying companies and people in order to get the gas pipeline done, so pray for that.

--Sarah Palin

You give $1 for the Gospel's sake, and $100 belongs to you; give $1000 and receive $100,000. I know you can multiply, but I want you to see it in black-and-white and see how tremendous the hundredfold return is.

--Gloria Copeland, prosperity gospel preacher

If there is a God, it may be necessary to uninvent him.

--Kirk Jusko