I liked Barrack Obama as a person when he was campaigning for president (although I liked him less as time went on). Although I didn't agree with most of his policies, I accepted the results of the election, wished him the best, and hoped that translated into what was best for the country and the world.

I don't like Donald Trump as a person, so maybe the opposite will happen and I'll like him more as time goes by. Either way I accept the results of the election, wish him the best, and hope he leaves office with things overall in better shape than when he entered.

I really don't like Hillary Clinton. If she'd been elected I'd have ... accepted the results, wished her the best, and hoped she would do what was best for the country and the world.

Of course, one of the main causes of acrimony in American politics is that none of us can agree on what's best for the country and the world in the first place. Just the same, one of the good things about America is that even in the worst of times, we've always had a peaceful transition of power. Even when nothing else is peaceful.

In any case, President Trump has two years to accomplish things with a Republican Congress, and no more. After that at least one half of Congress will switch to the control of the Democrats. If there's one thing we've seen in the last few months, it's that the Democrats are in no mood to tolerate the other side in any way.

Meanwhile, for two years the Republicans will feel they don't have to compromise in any way.

Yet that's exactly what both sides should do.

First, historically Democrats have controlled Congress more often than Republicans. Second, Congress and the White House are run more often than not by different parties. Both sides have wildly different views of how to get things done, and both believe they're in the moral right. (Except for those who don't care about the moral right, but only about power--many politicians are really good at concealing which is their driving force.)

Revenge and one-upmanship are getting us nowhere. Half the country always feels disenfranchised and even punished, then responds with personal attacks and political sabotage. When they gain control, it's revenge time.

We can't ask anyone to compromise their values, if they have any. We can ask them to look at the other side, really examine the issues from all angles, and be willing to compromise when compromise is possible. You don't have to agree with your opponents--you don't even have to like them. But understand their points of view. Get past personalities and work on the issues. This country has problems, and you in Washington, you're not helping.

And no, this isn't meant for one side; it's meant for everyone. Just ... get along. I'm not asking for miracles.

Okay, maybe I am.


(Note: I'm not interested in a "but they started it and/or they're worse at it" argument. I have my opinions in that area, but this is about future behavior, not past.)

This originally went up on the 4 County Mall website (although without the photos) here:


This is inauguration month. You probably didn’t realize this, unless you’re one of the few people who followed the 2016 Presidential election. I mean, who paid attention to that?
It was the single nastiest election since I ran for high school student council in 1979, and came in fourteenth out of thirteen. (I was beaten by “none of the above”.) But I’m a humor writer, and humor writers are fearless, so I’m absolutely going to not write about that election because I’m not stupid. And not one of those other twelve student council candidates can deny that, not even the one who ran on the platform of banning shop class, which I voted for him.
Here in Indiana we’d much rather talk about basketball and the weather than politics. That includes me, and I hate basketball. Hoosiers only follow politics because of our belief that politicians are like dogs: They might do some things for you, but if you stop paying attention to them they’ll chew up everything and spread crap all over the place.
Mostly people here in the Middle would just like to be left alone to lead our lives, but if someone riles us up … well, that’s a different story. After all, this is a state where the governor once sent the American army to attack a political convention, in the state capital.
It was called the Battle of Pogue’s Run, and I devoted a whole section to it in my book Hoosier Hysterical because I thought it was—well—hysterical. (Look me up and I’ll sell you a copy for just ten bucks, or less if you’ve got one of those newfangled electronic do-dads.) Although there were no injuries, Pogue’s Run had all the makings of an epic story: rebellion against authority, a cavalry charge, cannons pitted against trains, pistols hidden in petticoats … you can’t make up stuff like that.
This is what people did for fun in Indianapolis, before the Colts arrived.
Pogue's Run. Some sports team plays in that building in the background.
As all fifteen of my regular readers know, I write these things early, so for me it’s three weeks before the 2017 presidential inauguration. Maybe we’ll have a repeat of 2009, when Chief Justice John Roberts mixed up his words while giving Barrack Obama the oath of office. People were so worried about it turning into a legal issue that Obama was sworn in again the next day—and that was over just 35 words.
Apparently no one took issue to Lyndon B. Johnson’s vice-presidential oath, in which he was supposed to say “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion”, and instead said “without any mental reservation whatever”. Hey, we’ve all been there.
Anyway, in part of my ongoing effort to have something to write about—I mean, to educate the public—let’s see how things have gone wrong in past presidential inaugurations.
I’ve already written about William Henry Harrison, who gave the longest presidential inauguration speech ever, then promptly died. He should have taken note of George Washington’s speech, the shortest ever. Still, maybe it wasn’t the time so much as Harrison’s refusal to wear a coat: In 1937 Franklin D. Roosevelt watched the inauguration parade for an hour and a half during the rainiest inauguration day in history, and survived. Not only that, but he watched the whole thing while standing—and FDR couldn’t stand, without assistance.
President Harrison is feeling a little under the weather ...
In 1909 ten inches of snow fell on William H. Taft. Luckily he was a big, big guy, who just plowed through his speech.
In the inauguration of 1865 Abe Lincoln had a brand new vice-president, Andrew Johnson—who showed up drunk for his own speech. The story is that Johnson was feeling under the weather, and alcohol was the preferred treatment for a lot of ailments back then. I suppose alcohol’s also the preferred treatment for stage fright.
The most expensive inauguration was Obama’s, which cost more than $150 million—but about two thirds of that was paid for by private donors, an idea I can get behind. Crowd source the government!
John Quincy Adams did something truly shocking at his inauguration: He wore pants. Up until then, all the new presidents wore knee breeches. Perhaps ironically, Adams was also known to go skinny-dipping in the Potomac River.
Adams was also the first president to be photographed, so you can see why he was no peeping prize. But one day a female reporter named Ann Royall, who’d been refused an interview, simply sat on his clothes and refused to let him out of the water … and became the first female reporter to interview a U.S. President.
Who wouldn't want to see this handsome guy skinny dipping in the Potomac?
On a less happy note, in 1857 thirty-six people celebrating James Buchanan’s inauguration caught the “National Hotel disease” and died. Buchanan got it too but recovered, and I assume didn’t dine at that hotel again.
JFK had a hot time at his inauguration parade, as in the podium caught fire. A Cardinal was delivering the invocation at the time—think what you will of that.
Then there was the inauguration of Andrew Jackson. Twenty thousand people gathered outside the Capitol, a huge crowd for 1829, and Jackson was so happy that he said: “Ya’ll come on over and visit us at the White House!”
So they did.
Jackson had to escape out the back while the drunken mob smashed stuff and generally turned the White House into a wreck, which also happened when Hillary started throwing bric-a-brac at Bill during the Affair Affair. The party organizers were only able to clear the building by putting free booze out on the White House lawn.
But here’s my favorite of all: In 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the reviewing stand for the inauguration parade when a cowboy rode up to him on a horse … and lassoed him.
Of course, that had to have been planned in advance. The cowboy, Montie Montana (I assume that’s his real name) … survived.
"Not sure why them fellas in the suits seem all upset."
I've been so busy that I completely forgot this column, which came out in the 4County Mall On November 2nd. But considering it mentions the election, maybe a little time was just as well.
It’s been a rough autumn here in the Hoosier land. An exciting-in-a-bad-way presidential election, clowns all around us … although as far as I know, this time the politicians and clowns aren’t connected.
But sometimes, bad things can lead to better things. Our car got wrecked this year, but now we have another one that’s pretty nice. It’s got so many electronics that when it’s time to be serviced, we have to take it to the Apple Store.
And sure, I hate late autumn, but there are advantages. In all my life, once the first snow falls I’ve never had a lawn mower blow up on me. Well, once.
This thing with all the threatening clowns lurking around neighborhoods? Hey, that keeps them out of Washington, where they’d cause even more trouble. (I know, two political clown jokes, but it’s just so easy.)
And the presidential election?
Okay, you’ve got me on that one.
As I write this the election’s still three weeks away, and it’s been a nasty one. The only real benefit is that it’s given me lots more time, because I gave up social media. It’s so … antisocial. You can’t just politely disagree on the issues anymore, largely because we’ve all forgotten what the issues are. It’s all about the three P’s: personality, past, and prison, as in who should be there.
The name calling and mudslinging haven’t been this bad since Cleveland vs. Blaine, and we all know how that one turned out.
If we have the two most disliked candidates in history, it makes you wonder how they got nominated in the first place. Clinton had a sense of inevitability (“Well, it was her turn … wasn’t it?”), while Trump got in mostly because the party bosses assumed he wouldn’t get in. I normally castigate people who refuse to vote, but this year I’ve already ordered my “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Neither” bumper sticker.
Whoever wins will have an uphill climb to get the majority of Americans truly behind her. (Although I’m not a fan, I’ve got $20 on Clinton—and I’ve been right in the last three elections. Four, depending on where you stand on Florida in 2000.)
Enough about this year’s election, which will be settled by the time you read this. Here in Indiana, we pine for a repeat of the election of 16 … 1916, which wasn’t nearly as mud-slung, and featured the height of Hoosier influence. There were not one, but three Indiana natives on the ballet that year.
One was Thomas R. Marshall of Columbia City, a country doctor who, to everyone’s surprise, took the governor’s election in 1908. Woodrow Wilson was looking for someone more liberal, but he couldn’t deny Indiana’s political power (seriously!) and chose Governor Marshal as his 1916 running mate.
Marshall didn’t want the job—it didn’t pay enough. But convinced by his wife, who wanted to live in Washington for some reason, he joined Wilson, They won in a landslide in 1912.
That put him on the 1916 ballot against Republican Charles Evans Hughes and his running mate, Theodore Roosevelt’s former vice president, Charles W. Fairbanks. I loved him in Robin Hood! Wait, that was Douglas Fairbanks.
Fairbanks arrived in Indianapolis as an Ohio lawyer, but we let him in anyway. You college football fans, insert your own joke here. His main claim to fame was serving on the commission on Alaskan affairs before that territory became a state, and now you know where the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, got its name—from an imported Hoosier.
Just as Wilson wasn’t thrilled with his less than leftist running mate, Roosevelt would have preferred someone further to the Republican left, but he picked Fairbanks and they won in 1904. Unable to get a presidential nomination himself, Fairbanks joined the ticket again in 1916, as Hughes’ vice.
Just goes to show, presidents have always had vices.
If you’re a political history buff, you’d guess the third Hoosier running in 1916 was socialist Eugene V. Debs, who ran the four times before. But no, he sat out 1916, before running again in 1920—from a prison cell. Again, insert your own joke about modern candidates here.
No, in 1916 the third was J. Frank Hanly, still another former Indiana governor who led the Prohibition Party ticket. No, I’m not kidding—I’m stone cold sober, and so was he. He’d been trying to make America a dry country for many years, and this was the pinnacle of his attempts to save our livers. When a man compares liquor to slavery, you know he’s serious. Imagine what social media would do with that today?
Hanly was confident his beloved cause of saving America from the evils of alcohol would propel the Prohibition Party to victory—stop laughing, I’m not done. Yes, Hanly underestimated his country’s love of booze, and his party got only 1.19 percent of the vote. The winner? Wilson with 49.25 percent, which continued Indiana’s Marshal as vice-president. I suppose they celebrated with a brewskie.
Considering that just a year later Wilson—who originally ran on an anti-war platform—brought us into WWI, maybe the others were thankful.
So there you have it: Three Hoosiers in one election, and only the average amount of mudslinging. Way better than when Alexander Hamilton claimed Thomas Jefferson was having an affair with one of his slaves (which was true, by the way), or when Ben Franklin’s grandson called John Adams “old, querulous, bald, blind, crippled, (and) toothless”. Adams was also called a hermaphrodite, and his son John Quincy was accused of being a pimp.  Andrew Jackson’s opponents declared Jackson to be a cannibal. So he ate them.
Maybe the clowns aren’t so bad.

I scheduled a book signing for November 16th under the theory that by then Election Day madness would be all over but the shouting. What didn’t occur to me was that promoting the appearance might be drown out by that very same election hoopla. In all the fuss, and with so many of the smart people who read books avoiding social media (told you they were smart), will anyone even know about it? The author appearance, not the election.

It could be a very lonely four hours (at the library in Albion, 3-7 p.m.). But I persevere, because surely people want to give books as gifts—they’re so much more entertainment than “Don’t blame me, I voted for neither of them” bumper stickers. 

Ah, but I promised to tell you who’s going to win the election. Easy: Once the cemetery votes are in, Hillary Clinton will handily win the Electoral College in what will be termed a blowout. She’ll squeak by in the popular vote in what will be termed a mandate, with a few states being too close to call but most of those going to her in the end. Most networks will call it by around 10 p.m. Florida will be called by around December. 

This is not a political opinion, by the way: Just a prediction. While I have a great personal dislike for Clinton, I also have a great personal dislike for Trump, so at the moment (it’s late Sunday as I write this), I’m mostly just numb. Those of you who like her politics, be comforted by this: Some of our better political leaders were unsavory people, in one way or another. 

And we now live in a country where anyone, of any race or gender, could be elected president, so there’s that. Race or gender is a poor reason to vote for someone, but it’s also a poor reason to vote against someone.

As first seen in print and then online, but for some reason without my original title, in the Kendallville Mall:  http://www.4countymall.com/mark-hunter---slightly-off-the-mark/weird-crazy-laws



            You probably think the US Congress, our nation’s legislative body, comes up with some really crazy laws and makes insane, or at least dumb, decisions.

            You’d be right.

            However, they’re not the only ones. Across the world, there are laws, rules, and regulations that are just a bit … strange. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t make sense, but they’re definitely attention grabbing. As we hit once again the dog-days of election season (November-October) let’s take a look at some.

            Speaking of dogs, there was a time when dogsleds were the only way to get around in Antarctica, a place perpetually frozen. I know what you’re thinking: Couldn’t we relocate America’s Capitol to there, and let all that hot air thaw it out? Well, no. First, it wouldn’t be such a good idea to thaw Antarctica. Haven’t you ever seen The Thing?

            Second, Antarctica doesn’t belong to the people of the USA. Of course, these days neither does our Capitol.

            Sorry for my dogged political jokes. My point is it’s a good thing powered equipment came along, because it’s no longer legal to have dogs in Antarctica, something the dogs are no doubt happy about. Why? Because it’s illegal to have any non-indigenous species in Antarctica. After all, look at the bad things that happen when non-native species are introduced to an area. Hordes of dogs could destroy the entire continent’s ecosystem.

            If hordes of dogs would survive down there.

            Just the same, I support this, for the sake of penguins and … um … fish.

            Speaking of politicians, there’s one thing that will keep you out of political office in the great state of Tennessee. Well, two things – you have to actually live in Tennessee if you run for election. I doubt they’d take to carpetbaggers, either … you hear that, Hillary Clinton?

            But back to the point: It’s illegal in Tennessee to hold elected office if you don’t believe in God. Discrimination, you say? Maybe, but it’s also illegal to seek public office if you’re a member of the clergy. Or if you’ve ever had anything to do with dueling, such as setting up a gun fight between a preacher and an atheist. And yet, for all that, they don’t have trouble finding people to run for office.

            What do we take from this? If you’re an atheist in Tennessee, you don’t have a prayer.

            Yeah, I went there.

            Let’s go back a ways – say, to 1403. About that time some people in Wales rebelled against the King of England, Henry IV, who was just half the man Henry VIII would be. Being a king, Henry naturally enacted a law allowing his subjects to, well, hang any Welshman they found within the rebellion-hotbed city of Chester, in northwest England.

            Furthermore, Henry added, he wanted to keep his subjects both entertained and skilled at fighting. So, he allowed them to shoot at any Welshman within arrow distance of the town.
            It wasn’t nice; it’s just the way things were done back then. What makes this law remarkable is that … wait for it …

            It’s still a law.

            So if you live in Chester, and you own a crossbow – go for it, dude! You’re all good.

            Maybe the Welsh should do what Sao Paulo, Brazil, does. Over 41 million people live there, making it one of the largest provinces in the world. Why so many people?

            Maybe because, by city ordinance, no one living in the city of Biritiba-Mirim within the province is allowed to … stop living.

            It’s a tough rule to enforce. I mean, how do you punish people who break it? The death penalty?

            Turns out the rule was made to protest to a national law, something we Americans can understand. The country as a whole prohibits new cemeteries in environmentally sensitive areas, and Biritba-Mirin sits on a major water source. The city has run out of cemetery space, a grave situation, although … do you really want to feel like you’re drinking your ancestors?

            For now, if people break the rule in Biritba-Mirin and pass away, they end up sharing a crypt with another body – or they end up buried under local sidewalks. So either you’re on a party line to the afterlife, or you feel like someone’s walking on your grave.

            Back in England, there’s also one place where it’s illegal to die: the House of Parliament. Why? Because anyone who kicks the bucket there is automatically entitled to a state funeral. Imagine some loud American tourist standing there in his Hawaiian shirt, who suddenly chokes on a ham sandwich and – as they say – bites the big one. Yeah, they gotta give him a state funeral.

            It’s also illegal to wear a suit of armor inside Parliament, but I’m picturing them repealing that rule and sticking the dead tourist in one, so he doesn’t look out of place during the festivities.

            But at least you can chew gum. In Singapore, they’ll cane you for that. The place is a little … uptight.

            Finally, here’s my favorite somewhat odd law of them all, not because of its oddity but because I can relate:

            In New Orleans, it’s illegal to curse at firefighters.

            The idea is that while a firefighter is, say, running into a burning building, or doing CPR on a heart attack victim, or extricating people from a wrecked car, he’s probably stressed enough. He doesn’t need, “Hey! You’re a lousy firefighter, you @%#&!”

            So be nice to firefighters. For all you know, they may have just adopted some poor unemployed Antarctic dog.

This unemployed Antarctic dog was recently adopted by a Welsh firefighter.


            I originally wrote this in early June, long before Donald Trump raised his hair into the presidential fray, and then promptly forgot about it. If only I could forget about Trump’s hair.


            You’d think America would support a Presidential candidate who chose to be honest and bold, as opposed to most candidates in living memory. Now the Democrats have a candidate who took a bold statement, who’s absolutely right about his bold statement, and who doesn’t stand a chance because of his bold statement.

Lincoln Chaffee—love that name—took aim at Hillary Clinton’s knees, which is about as high as he’s going to get to beating her. Maybe ankles. In his announcement he said America should become internationalist, which is another of those ideas that’s excellent in the perfect idealist world.

And as part of becoming internationalist, Chaffee thinks it’s high time America went metric.

He’s right, and I’m not just saying that because I’d vote for him over Clinton. I’d vote for almost anyone over Clinton.

As Chaffee pointed out, the United States is one of only three nations that don’t use the metric system. The other two are Myanmar and Liberia, and they’re not exactly movers and shakers, are they? There’s some question about whether Liberia’s even still there.

The metric system is simple and logical, easy to follow increments of tens and hundreds. They even stuck in the simplest possible way to measure temperature, with water freezing at zero and boiling at 100. Easy-peasy. Simple to use, better for business and science, and right in line with the rest of the world.

No wonder Americans hate it.

We’re a contrary people, and we don’t automatically go along, whether it makes sense or not. If the rest of the world jumped off the Empire State Building, we’d laugh and point. Also, in our divisive political system, it’s impossible for someone on one side to make a suggestion—no matter how reasonable—without the other side demonizing the idea. Here’s an example of what happens instead of a reasonable discussion:

“Maybe, since we’re at war with terrorist groups and being infiltrated by drug dealers, we should make more of an effort to secure our borders?”


There’s also a not-unreasonable fear that some of the other ideas embraced by the rest of the world don’t work so well here. Maybe going metric would help more than it would hurt, but what would we be pushed to change next? After all:

Give ‘em 2.54 centimeters and they’ll take 1.6093 kilometers.

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Jul. 31st, 2015 02:09 pm)

I’ve been away from the computer lately, for vacationy stuff. It was refreshing and usually fun, and we even managed to get out of the area for a week—not exactly a relaxing kind of a trip, as I’ll detail later.


Sometimes fun is sitting on a beach with a good book; sometimes fun is clamboring into caves and hiking to waterfalls while researching a good book. Don’t worry, there’ll be photos.


I’ve been neglecting my blog terribly, which isn’t a good thing for a working writer. Recently I read writers should put a “selling” post on their blog and social media only once every six posts or so. That makes sense: Why read someone when all they ever talk about is how often you should read them? By the way, you should read me often.


Sometimes it’s hard to control that: Such as earlier this month, when I had a book signing, and later next month, when I have a new book release as well as some appearances. But ordinarily I think it’s a good idea, if you want people to think your writing is entertaining, to write entertaining stuff.


I’d look just like Captain Obvious if I was just a bit slimmer.


Some blogging experts (can you get a degree in that?) believe your blog should be narrowly focused. If you’re a tree frog expert and keep your posts all about tree frogs, you’ll soon be followed by hundreds, if not thousands, of tree-frog entheusiasts, right? And whether you submit your book about tree frogs to a publisher or go independent, having a following of tree-frog lovers ready to buy your book is a huge advantage.


Makes sense.


But I’m a person of eclectic, if low-brow, tastes. I don’t have one obsession alone unless it’s writing, and if I write only about writing doesn’t that bring me back to the original problem? The only thing my interests really have in common is humor, and sometimes not that.


So here’s an idea: rotating through various subjects, in addition to talking about the writer’s life. Not necessarily on a specific day, but mixing it up so there’s something for everyone, and when appropriate loading some humor into it. Some possible topics include entertainment (Hey, I still watch some TV) and the possibly related book/movie reviews; emergency services (‘cause I’ve got that firefighter/911 dispatcher thing going on); photography (pictures make everything better); history (we’re releasing a humorous history book next year, which will make my third history related project); local/Indiana stuff; politics (if I can stomach it); and … I don’t know. What else?


So what do you think? As always I have to think about what will sell the most books, but above all I have to be funny, or entertaining … or maybe the word is interesting. It turns out a proper blog is a lot of work.

ozma914: (Storm Chaser)
( Jul. 31st, 2014 09:23 pm)





            I’ve spent a lot of time looking into what the US government spends money on. In fact, you could say I’ve spent so much time on their spending that nothing surprises me.


            You could say that, but you’d be wrong.


            Now they’re getting into my territory, dropping a million dollars into a project studying romance novels. Your taxpayer dollars are also going into a documentary on superheroes, a zombie video game, and promoting a ninja who’s supposed to sneak in and educate children about climate change, among many other things.


            But it was the romance stuff that grabbed my attention. Some say a million bucks isn’t much, by Fed standards. My response is to suggest they’ve lost their grip on reality – and math – but never mind.







            So there’s this rich guy named Donald Sterling, who told his half-black girlfriend that he doesn’t like black people. And even though he said it behind the doors of his own home, somebody recorded it and now everybody knows, and they won’t let him be anywhere near his own business anymore.


            That’s pretty much it. Now the media has mostly moved on, while Sterling is losing that business in return for a whole lot of money, which makes him just as rich but still not a nice guy.


            Sterling, who owns a basefootketball team or something like that, has a long history of saying racist things. His newest rant caused the predictable argument between Republicans and Democrats, each side claiming Sterling belongs to the other. It was like when I used to get picked last in gym class.


            The truth turned out to be unclear. Sterling, despite a history of contributing to Democratic candidates, is a registered Republican. Maybe he’s a Republican in name only, making him a RINO elephant … but his contributions to Democrats are a pittance for someone of his wealth. It was the equivalent of Donald Trump throwing loose change at a RINO wino.


            Despite myself, I dug into his background, trying to look under his white hood and get a sense of the man. My conclusion: He’s not left or right. He’s just a bad guy, probably throwing his support at anyone who helps him make money.


            I’ve known some decent rich people who work hard, then give back. Donald Sterling’s not one of them.





            It wouldn’t be another year if we didn’t come across lists of new words, something I discussed when the year was new. But what about old words? Now I’ve also found a list of words that at least one expert (insert air quotes here) believes should be retired. Next week, maybe I’ll find a list of annoying writing habits (such as the overuse of parenthesis).

            One that made the list is the word “huge”, not because of the word itself but because of the way it’s been used. This is maybe nit-picking, a term that was banned in 1994, but huge does not mean very important or very interesting. Sometimes it’s used both ways in the same sentence:

            “Astronomers have made the huge discovery of a huge planet way out where it shouldn’t be, in a huge orbit far from its huge sun.”

            “We’re having a huge sale on king size mattresses! They’re huge!”

            More accurate would be: “Oprah’s huge this year! No, I don’t mean her ratings; she must have gone off her diet.”

            Or, “Is Rush Limbaugh still huge? Let me wave away that cigar smoke … yep. Dude, even talk show hosts exercise.”

            Here’s another one: “The ___ cliff”. One commentator said he was happy we averted the fiscal cliff last year, but that it’s a horrible metaphor.

            I don’t know if I’d use the term “averted” … that makes it sound as if the problem went away, instead of being kicked down the road, which is another overused but descriptive term. Still, maybe he had a point. Maybe we’re headed toward a fiscal concrete wall, or perhaps more accurately, a fiscal train wreck. This will be comforting for those of you who are afraid of heights.

            Here’s one I agree with wholeheartedly: YOLO. The new generation can’t be bothered to spell things out, but for those of you over forty that means “You only live once”. Unless you’re James Bond, who only lived twice on Her Majesty’s Secret Service while sipping Thunderballs with Dr. No and Goldfinger.

            In theory, YOLO is a great concept. You only live once, so work hard for that college education! Keep a good attitude! Pursue your chosen career! Make good karmic points, just in case you’re wrong and get reincarnated!

            Unfortunately, in practice YOLO is used as an excuse for stupidity. “Dude – I’ll only live once, so I’m going to get so wasted and jump my skateboard over the shed and onto a moving pickup truck. YOLO!”

            If you only live once, shouldn’t you want to stick around for a while?

            Sequester means setting something apart, separating it. Well, it’s supposed to. Now it’s synonymous with that overused term, kicking the can down the road. Sequester, in today’s terms, signifies a group of elected officials who can’t be bothered to follow their actual job description, and so put off working on budget issues because they know they’ll probably get reelected even if they go on camera and call their constituents blind idiots. We should retire sequester and replace it with “bureaucratic dictator for life”.

            Bubble. I used to like bubbles. They floated around, reflected the light, delighted kids and dogs. Now they burst and cause economic crisis, so off with them!

            We had a tech bubble and a housing bubble and a stock-market bubble, and now apparently we have a bitcoin bubble. The longer a bubble lasts, the worse things go when it bursts. So here’s an idea for you to chew on: The federal government spending bubble has been expanding for a long, long time. Because we keep kicking it down the road.

            The New Normal. It means things have changed. Well, things always change, people. I’ve been through a half dozen new normals in my lifetime. Forty, if you count clothing styles.

            Bromance. Kirk and Spock, Han and Chewie, Starsky and Hutch, Goose and Maverick, Ernie and Bert … I could go on all day about guys who love each other like brothers, including Sam and Dean from Supernatural, who not only love each other like brothers but actually are brothers.

            It’s living proof that two guys can be incredible close without being close in that way, not that there’s anything wrong with that way. But these guys spend all their time together without getting together – except in the infamous slash fanfictions that suggest Kirk would go for a guy who only gets in the mood once every seven years.

            Then we have Man___. Man what, you say? Mancave, manplaining, mancation … manopause. I think I’m going through that last one right now.

            Mancaves often end up being in the garage … to show you how out of touch I am, my mancave has a desk, computer, and stacks upon stacks of books. It’s my literary Hoosier Heaven.

            I’m not sure, but I suspect the term was invented to give men a sense of ownership, now that they’re becoming more and more aware that they never were really in charge.

            Here’s another term some people think should go away: online waiting room.

            Apparently that’s where you’re expected to wait while Healthcare.gov spins around and decides whether to tell you how much higher your premiums and deductible are going to be. I’ve got news for you on that one:

            It’s not going away soon, even if we kick it down the road and over a cliff.



            I figured it out – I figured out what’s wrong with the Obamacare website!

            Not that I can fix it … let’s not get silly.

            I got the idea from Star Trek. Specifically, from some dialogue in the movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. This is the one where Kirk and Spock sing campfire songs and fight God. Hm … there could be more government jokes in there, somewhere.

            Anyway, here are the lines that got my attention:

            Captain Kirk: “You told me you could get this ship operational in two weeks, I gave you three, what happened?”
            Engineer Scott: “I think you gave me TOO much time, Captain.”

            See, it’s funny because … never mind. Although it might be the funniest moment of the movie, unless you count the unintentional laughs.           



            After writing this column about Syria, I realized my 9/11 column was due that week. As a result of that delay, by the time you read this America might have turned Syria into a relief map of Edward James Olmos’ face. More likely, Congress will still be debating how much extra pork-barrel spending they can tack onto a law authorizing an attack on Syria.

            The mistrust fairly oozes from my pores when it comes to Congressional authorizations. Mostly they love to authorize the spending of giant Godzilla fists full of dollars. However, while I’m a well-known hater of Congress and pretty much everything President Obama stands for, let’s try to do something a little different, for a change:

            Let’s look at this objectively.




            Some people felt that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans would finally come together for the common good and work out their differences.

            But most of us knew better.

            I wonder how long it took after the Pearl Harbor attack before people started forgetting its significance, or even complained when others continued to honor the memory of those lost? I’ll bet some people were getting tired of it before World War II was even over, and that took “just” four years, for Americans. Here we are now, twelve years after 9/11 … we’re still at war, but most of us don’t even know it.

            At least there was one plan to remember, by the city most directly affected by the attacks on 9/11. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was put in charge of a museum that would commemorate the attacks. Victims wanted something simple, and respectful, and other stuff that never happens when politicians and bureaucrats get involved. Let’s take a look at some things that have gone on with the 9/11 Memorial Museum:

            One of the most iconic photos of 9/11, the raising of the American flag by FDNY firefighters, was almost excluded from the museum. Why? Because it was “too rah-rah American”. According to a book, the museum’s creative director said “The way we can really do best, is to not be Americans so vigilantly and so vehemently”.

            Um … are we not Americans? Besides, isn’t not being vigilant one of the things that got us into trouble in the first place?

            That guy, the museum director, is making a six figure income, but doesn’t seem to understand the whole point of his museum.

            Meanwhile, the politician who should have cared the most is the same guy who wanted to stop the reading of 9/11 victim names on the anniversary.  “Some people have said change is good,” Mayor Bloomberg said of it on the radio.

            I agree, but good change doesn’t always happen – after all, he’s still the mayor.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he of the notorious desire to control everything that goes into his city’s residents (and maybe out of them, who knows?) also banned first responders from being able to attend the 10th anniversary of the attacks.







            The other day I was telling someone the issue of gay marriage had become too politicized, which is true. However, all issues have become too politicized, including politics.


            I used to be against gay marriage, for one simple reason: Haven’t gays been punished enough?


            I also used to have a little photo of a white-clad bride, with the caption, “Why do I have to get married? I didn’t do anything wrong!”


            You gay people out there, you know who you are: What are you thinking? You have a readymade excuse to avoid marriage: It’s illegal! Commitment phobia? No problem: “Oh, sorry, dear – my idea of expanding my dating pool never included meeting everyone in cellblock B.”


            But I no longer make such anti-marriage jokes, because … well, because now I’m married.


            On the other hand, I’m a humor columnist, and it’s my job to make fun of stuff, and things.


            On the third hand, I’ve looked into both sides and I understand their arguments, and their feelings on the issue. Can I make fun of people, even when I find their arguments persuasive and understandable?







            By the time you read this, the world may have ended. At least, that’s how some are treating the Sequester, which is apparently Latin for Apocalypse.

            The Sequester is an agreement between the President and Congress, by itself amazing enough. It means that, if our government can’t agree on a budget by a certain date, draconian spending cuts kick in and all the oxygen will be sucked out of the country.

            “Draconian” is a Greek word meaning “needed”. There’s not much doubt among anyone with common sense that huge government spending cuts are needed, since Congress’ addiction to red ink spending makes meth addicts look like paragons of self-control.

Okay, so let’s see: Congress hasn’t passed a budget since 2010. In August, 2011, they approved the Budget Control Act, which made automatic spending cuts and tax increases if Congress didn’t act on the budget by January 1st, 2013. At around 2 a.m. on January 1st – technically late – they passed legislation that kicks the problem a few months further down the road, increases taxes, and does absolutely nothing to reduce spending. And they didn’t even take a few minutes to approve disaster relief for people left destitute by Superstorm Sandy.


*slow, ironic clapping*  Well done, Congress. Well done.


But we can’t just blame them: Despite a 10 percent approval rating, in 2012 we reelected 91% of those crooks and morons.




            I assume, since the Presidential election was so close, that President Obama understands he doesn’t have anything that could be called a mandate for his next four years. What he has, in fact, is a nation more divided than Dolly Parton’s cleavage.

            (And yet, before the election was officially called, an Obama supporter said on network news that the President did, indeed, have a mandate.)

            (Wait, Dolly Parton? Should I use a more modern well-endowed celebrity? Snooki? That fat guy from Pawn Stars? How do I know they’re not both using push-ups?)

            (Why do I use parenthesis so often?)           

Maybe, then, he’ll listen to me, a person who according to internet questionnaires is a right leaning moderate. And those things are never wrong. So I’ve drawn up a list of questions that, I hope, will make the President think about the challenges we face, and how we can solve them using reason and common sense, rather than partisan politics. )
ozma914: (Courthouse)
( Nov. 6th, 2012 08:48 pm)



            I try to get my weekly column turned in by Friday (and often succeed), but the paper doesn’t actually come out until the Wednesday. That’s a problem during an election, because it means I have to write the thing almost a week before voting results are in. Writing a story about the 2012 election would be a case of predicting the future.

            So I did.

            Actually, as I write this it’s two weeks before the election, but what the heck: I’ll either be right or wrong, and another week won’t change that unless Joe Biden is found in bed with a dead lawyer or a live prostitute. So here’s the way the election’s going to go:           

(Mind you, this was all before FrankenStorm hit the East Coast, which could have a way bigger impact than Biden’s prostitute lawyer. Who doesn’t exist. What I predict to happen by the hour might be by the day, or week.) )



            Here are two of the main causes of problems with government in this country:

            First, there are those people who say there’s no point voting because it doesn’t make a difference, then complain about the politicians other people vote in.

            Second is the fact that the public’s approval rating of Congress is 10%; yet in the 2012 election, 84% of the Senate incumbents and 85% of House incumbents held onto their seats.

            The first is a product of not only frustration, but laziness. We don’t want to take the time to research the candidates and choose the best one – or the least worst one. We don’t want to support and encourage good candidates, and we don’t want to go through the meat grinder of being candidates ourselves.

            The second is more revealing, and is a variation of the “not in my back yard” argument: “Every member of Congress is worthless and criminal – except my Congressman.”


This is where I usually start harassing you, dear reader, in an attempt to get out the vote. If just six more of you had come out last election, I might still be a member of the Town Council and enjoy franking privileges, the town car, the private office and assistant, the Council swimming pool and skeet shooting range … )


ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)


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