Friday, June 30, 2006

Who is covering the news?

Here I am trying to follow the news that is important. Why is it that Star Jones v. Barbara Walters seems to be the story of the day? I'm trying to follow the situation between Israel,Syria,Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fair is fair

Elizabeth finally put my mind at ease as we were watching The Daily Show. Our bank records are now fair game for the Administration to view. They can view all bank records of all citizens. If the government wants to look at my finances, fine. Just let me look at the financial records of both V.P. Cheney, and President Bush. If we have nothing to hide neither should they.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why do we have checks and balances?

Let me tell you that persistence pays off. If she wants something, Cassie keeps pointing and crying, eventually she gets whatever it is, within reason. There are parents that do not necessarily abide by the ‘within reason’ principle. It appears that George and Barbara Bush did not abide by the aforementioned principle when raising little Georgie.

The current President Bush, is complaining that the NY Times did its job. The paper reported about a story affecting tens of thousands of Americans, and is probably of interest too many more. It appears that the Administration has been using broad, indiscriminate subpoenas to look at private financial records of Americans. Some of these transactions were entirely within the U.S.

President Bush decried this saying that the Times had hindered the government’s ability to fight the war on terrorism. I, as all Americans, appreciate the need to combat terror. That being said, how much are we going to give up in the name of security? The Bush Administration has previously tried to create a program called Operation Tips that would encourage US citizens to spy on one another. Then they pushed forward the program to wiretap phone calls without probable cause, and now, the Administration wants to have unfettered access to American bank records. All of this, without Congressional or Judicial oversight, is a bit much for me to stomach.

There are laws in place that allow for all of these activities, with the appropriate amount of oversight. In the case of the wiretapping, it is a retroactive subpoena, as far back as 3 days. In financial matters or location searches, there are other judicial checks in place. There is no legitimate reason that the checks and balances system needs to be gutted. What the hell are our men and women fighting for?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Three is better than one

Life is a series of tradeoffs. Married life brings about those some of those tradeoffs. This was never more evident than during the previous week of my life. As you saw in the last post, I went to Orlando, to fulfill a lifelong (well 20 years of it) dream. I participated in an audition for Jeopardy. Two days after I got back from that we went as a family, to the wedding of one my closest friends and his, now wife.

Going to Orlando, I could eat whenever I wanted and was able to pretty much zip through the airport without a problem. I got to decide what I visited and when. In many respects, for about 36 hours, I got to live the life of a single man. For those of you that are single, it is not nearly as glamorous as TV or movies make it out to be.

Going to BWI at 5 in the morning was stressful, but Cassie was a champ. We got to the hotel around noon on Thursday. I took part in some of the pre-wedding festivities that night. Seriously, we basically hung out and talked and ate, nothing more nothing less. Somehow, while this was fun, I was missing both Elizabeth and Cassie who were both catching up on some needed sleep in the hotel.

Friday, we went to Generous George’s for the rehearsal dinner. The food was great, big portions and very kid friendly. Cassandra loved the décor. A clown playing the saxophone, an old time bumper car, and a pink and blue elephant were the biggest hits. For the bigger kids there were stand up video games Ms. Pac Man and Galaga .For the biggest kids, they serve 32-ounce beers. Playing hide and go seek with Cassie, was incredibly fun, though a bit tiring. It is amazing how much energy is in the little body of our little girl. Seeing her smile and play, chasing her, and seeing her with the other kids was an amazing event, I can’t explain.

As part of the wedding party, I was in pre wedding pictures. The pictures took place on a pier overlooking the Potomac. At the last minute, one of the other groomsmen saw some fishermen and had an idea. The next thing I know we are all taking a picture with fishing rods in hand. I want you all to know that I had never previously caught a fish. It happened this day. I caught a fish in a matter of 3 minutes. The fishermen told us this was the 1st catch of the day. It wasn’t quite this big , but in a few years it probably will be. Trust me the groomsmen had a great laugh over this.

The wedding was very nice. Cassie was too busy exploring her new surrounding, to watch this ritual of commitment. I thought it was a very beautiful ceremony, and wish a lifetime of happiness to the new couple.

The reception was at Maggiano’s. Seeing Cassie eat spaghetti, wear spaghetti on both sides of her nose, and feed me spaghetti, those were wonderful things. I taught her how to use a fork, and shared chicken parmesan with her. She seemed to love all the food. Cassie loves Italian, and I loved being the one to feed her. She enjoyed ice cream, salad and ice tea as well. Seeing her enjoy all of this made my day. Any of you that don’t think this has been an interesting enough post, imagine me walking 5 blocks down Wisconsin Avenue NW in a full tuxedo, it happened. Married with child is definitely better.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Marketing is key

I just returned from Orlando, where I successfully tried out for Jeopardy. It was a wonderful experience, and now I just wait for the call. Sometime within the next year, I will, most likely, be called to go to L.A. for a taping of the show. No guarantees.... As I was walking around downtown Orlando, yesterday, I came upon the 1st Presbyterian Church of God. Now I'm certain I was in Orlando, yesterday, because that is where Southwest airline dropped me off. As certain of that as anything else anyway.

I'm also certain that there is a 1st Presbyterian Church of God in Miami, and one in New Orleans, and one in just about any town you can think of. Don't get me wrong, for us Jews there are synagogues with the same name that are not franchises of one another. I just googled Beth Israel and came up with numerous congregations of different types in different states. This is to show that it is not a problem with the Presbyterians. Sometimes, there is a name that more than one group wants, that is good for marketing whatever your product is.

For instance, for many years there have been two public figures that have used the moniker Sting. Does it hinder Sting's ability to make a living that Sting might be doing a show nearby? As you can see the singer and the professional wrestler both market the name, and they are both very successful. For quite a while the World Wildlife Fund and the World Wrestling Federation both used WWF in their advertising. That is not to say which one utilized animals; both groups successfully used just that WWF, until quite recently.

Figuring out how to market to your base is key to any public endeavor. Those people in the religion business figured out years ago that being the 1st Church of something was more appealing than being the 5th Church of something. That does not necessarily mean that the product is better or worse, just a decision on marketing the message.

For years, I've heard that Betamax was the better videotape technology. The Sega dreamcast might be a better game system than Nintendo or Sony. I will not dispute any of this. Two more for good measure Jeopardy, and the Democratic Party ideas are better....

That does not change the fact that Wheel of Fortune and the Republican Party are more popular.... By the way, Alex Trebek has taped episodes while he was not wearing pants.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Russia is moving in the wrong direction

Here in the U.S.A. we are often given the option of two candidates, neither of which many people truly want. Well, Russia was ahead of us. Technically, they still are. Russians had the opportunity to vote for none of the above when going to the polls. Well, the Duma is in the process of doing away with this option. Maybe, we can at least try it over here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Is the Congress Symbolic or Planning to do anything



Meets at 10 a.m. to consider H.Res.861, Declaring that the U.S. will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary."

Thanks Washington Post

The House of Representatives voted on a resolution saying that the U.S. will win vs. the terrorists. H.R. 861. The Republican leadership in the House intends to spend two days on this. CNN is painting this as a great political maneuver.... Who the hell wouldn't vote in support of this measure? Pelosi should stand up and call for an acclimation vote... Then let them move on to issues that are a little less symbolic... How about cleaning up FEMA. I'm certain the people in Fla., Ga., N.C., and Va., and La. would appreciate that. Could someone please put a bill together to shore up port security, or maybe they can spend the day working on a resolution stating that the US will not torture individuals it has in custody.....Maybe they can take the day to devise a strategy helping farmers that are being destroyed by gas prices that are improperly inflated... Or these same very wise men will spend the day on reaffirming the 1st amendment...

This idiotic bill does nothing. People in 4 states still have blue roofs. Immigration reform is still becoming an excuse for an even larger government. Gas prices are still at 3 dollars a gallon. There are so many things to focus on... (not to mention the VA health care system, good jobs being replaced by service/retail jobs, failing schools, the trade deficit and many more), but "Big Denny" wants to spend 2 days on a bill saying we want to win in Iraq.... I wouldn't have known...
By the Way, if they stay on this path expect the Congress to focus on a Constitutional Amendment concerning flag desecration in the near future.... Now these are the topics that convince people that government is efficient and focused on today's most pressing issues.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ann Coulter and voter fraud

There is a dispute over who won the election of 2000.... There are questions about the voting machine returns in Ohio in 2004... There appears to be no question as to the voter fraud that Right wing radical Ann Coulter committed in Palm Beach this year. It is a felony, and she should be prosecuted.... Considering how Katherine Harris is now being treated, you never know how the authorities are going to act.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mandarin... Will this be the language of the 21st century

There are current reports that China is pushing to make Mandarin the language of the 21st century. You know that doesn't bother me, that much. I strongly believe English being the "world" language, gives us a leg up, however learning a new language would help Americans. What I fear is that this is not the only thing where we are following the lead of the Chinese. We are beginning to follow the lead of the Chinese when it comes to how we treat our people and our Constitution.

Recently, the Chinese Prime Minister was in the US for a meeting with Pres. Bush. An individual of Taiwanese descent, in the crowd, started to heckle the two men. Rather than explaining to the PM that this was part of our Constitutional rights (see 1st Amendment), King George had the woman arrested. Trust me, I understand the need to be diplomatic, apparently more than Ambassador Bolton, but President Bush does not need to be anyone's lapdog. I guess if you are going to be anyone's lapdog, I'd rather the U.S.A. not follow, in lock step, one of the world's most brutal regimes.

I give the Chinese some credit they are modernizing their economy, it grew at about 10% last quarter. Unfortunately, according to a recent New York Times article, the tradeoff has been large amounts of pollution from new coal plants. The Chinese trade balance with the USA is $200 billion dollars in their favor. The Chinese have also improved relations with many in the world community, in an attempt to become a more welcome member of the family of nations.

Unfortunately, this administration might use the Chinese guest worker program as a model. But, then again, you can ask the Mexicans how they are treated by the likes of J.D. Hayworth. If those people are not really "Americans", and therefore we shouldn't worry about them, then talk to the coal miners in W. Virginia. How do they feel about the Administration stripping the mines of all safety standards? Add to this the fact that, in America, the divide between rich and poor is getting bigger. These are the sorts of problems that you would imagine from a developing country.

As most of you heard the Senate voted on a bill that would define the limits of marriage. I don't care if Billy marries Susie or Bob, and no one has been able to explain to me why this is something the Senate should spend a week on. If this sort of thing continues to be the centerpiece of legislative action, then we will become a developing nation once again, and China will be the superpower of the 21st century.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Here we Go Again

Another day, another dollar... Another hurricane season, more of the same. For those of you who are not necessarily overly paranoid.... about the weather, well here we go again. How long will it take for repairs to be completed in New Orleans? How many more times will I hear that Michael Brown is the only one at fault for the Administration's debacle? When will I be able to focus on the banana republic quality security measures that are the standard for national elections? All these questions and more will be answered on the next episode of M cubed.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Why are things important ?

We just returned from out most recent trip to New Orleans. We all loved it. Yes, I mentioned The Conversation, and that is important but sometimes, small things become the big things in the long run. What will we remember most? Was it the fact that people I’ve not seen often were very welcoming at my old synagogue? No. Nor was it time to catch up with family and friends. Both of those are wonderful things, but not what I believe Elizabeth or I will remember most.

Cassie not only impresses everyone we see, but quite often us as well. She ate beignets and drank coffee as though it was a common occurrence. She went to the Aquarium of the Americas, and she plays well with otters. She got to spend time with New Orleans relatives, going to an art show featuring work from cousin Corrine, and a piano recital for cousin Harrison. She also got to meet her canine cousins Penny and Doc.

We will not only remember her swimming with Grandma and Papa, but also eating corn and cheese grits from Zea’s. These were some events that create memories for Elizabeth and me.

Most of the time, my posts are focused on grand issues of general importance to so many. Those topics can cover national politics, or social questions. For those of you without kids, I apologize. This post is not nearly as obviously interesting to many of you. Ask new parents, or even new grandparents, and you will find that many of them became a lot more interested in the future of society, when it was someone else’s future they were concerned about.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Buying a flag for Memorial Day

A cousin just called me a day or two ago. She related a story common to many of us... During these trying times, she wanted to purchase a flag to hang on her door.... The flag was about 60 inches wide and only appropriate to hang downward as the instructions suggested. However, when she put the flag up as instructed the top corner of the flag was on the incorrect side. Now you would think that if it does not work on one side flip it over and use the side... That too was tried.

Alas, the flag was only printed on one side. Because of the packaging, there was no way to know this prior to purchase. What you do not know, and that I found most interesting, is that the flag was made in China. I find it amazing that we are having a national debate about immigration, border security, and outsourcing of jobs, and yet we are having some foreign country make a profit on Betsy Ross' designs. We bought over $34 million dollars worth of American flags in the month after September 11th. Free trade is a good idea, but this is the American flag we are talking about. There is a domestic textiles industry that could use some help. When you go to purchase a flag for the 4th of July; please try to buy American.