Cap & Trade or Michael Jackson

July 7, 2009

Regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, it should bother you that the news media is spending far more time keeping the American people up to date on the Michael Jackson memorial service than they are in informing us of the progress of the Cap & Trade legislation.

And why are they placing so much emphasis on a dead celebrity? Why are they ignoring more important issues that could affect all tax payers?

Some right wing conservatives would have us believe that the left leaning media is intentionally taking the focus away from Congress so the Obama administration can shove another giant spending (and taxing) bill down our throats.

The left wing radicals would argue otherwise.

Naturally – and unfortunately – the truth has nothing to do with politics. Sadly, the media is giving the American public what the American public wants. I’ll admit I haven’t checked, but I’d bet that any broadcast of the American Idol show garnered a much larger share of the viewing public than any of the Presidential debates.

The truth is a large portion of our population doesn’t care about what goes on in Washington, D.C. In fact, they care even less about what goes on in their own state capitols.

Many years ago I attended a Key Club convention in Philadelphia. Each delegate was given a key ring. On one side was the Key Club logo. On the other was the phrase, “Combat Complacency.”

I believe we’ve lost the battle. In the 1960’s, college students stood up and voiced their opinions. While many of them were wrong in their beliefs, they all had the courage to stand up for what they believed. As a result, many things in our society were changed.

The youth of my youth took the time to learn about things that mattered. Sometimes they heard one side of the story and jumped to incorrect conclusions, but in most instances, they looked at both sides and came to good logical conclusions.

I’m afraid today’s youth are too busy twittering their lives away.

Perhaps that’s the major difference. While we didn’t have CNN, FOX News Channel, C-SPAN, or… come to think of it, we didn’t have any cable channels because we didn’t have cable. We also didn’t have lap top computers and the Internet. But we did have newspapers, news magazines, and the library.

We paid attention to the world around us – sweat bullets during the Cuban Missile Crisis – and felt a responsibility to speak out against what we saw as injustice.

Perhaps that was the influence of John F. Kennedy. I know we all admired the man and took the “New Frontier” very seriously. And we all deeply mourned his passing.

Until President Obama came along, we hadn’t had another President who could reach out and stir the interest of the youth as JFK did. But it appears that the interest of our current youth petered out once their man was elected.

It’s a shame because, the way I see it, it’s the youth and future generations who will be most harmed by what is currently happening in Washington.

The U.S. Government has no business being in business. Every time government has taken over an industry, that industry stops being self-sufficient. For example, independent bus and trolley companies operated in major cities for decades. They competed for riders and most of those companies were profitable.

The companies that couldn’t compete went out of business and their assets were bought up by the other companies. Then, the government decided to take over. The two ‘companies’ I’m most familiar with – the Port Authority Transit (PAT) in Pittsburgh and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit  Authority (MARTA) – have both operated at a loss for decades. Taxpayer subsidies are the only way they stay afloat.

Will General Motors be any different? Will taxpayer subsidized pricing put Ford, Chrysler, and others out of business?

The Federal Government has put itself in a very awkward position. Congress is talking about passing a ‘clunker bill’ that will give citizens a tax break for trading in an old car for a new, more fuel efficient, car. Will the tax break be higher for those of us who buy a GM product? It would make sense if the government wants their ‘company’ to flourish.

But wouldn’t that be unfair to the other companies? Does the government care?

There are many people who believe the economic crisis could’ve been solved months ago simply by the government letting workers keep their entire paychecks. Think about that. The typical worker has almost a third of his or her paycheck withheld every pay day. If that money had been available to the individuals, they would’ve spent it. Even if they simply paid off some bills, the economy would’ve improved.

Foreclosures would’ve been reduced dramatically and banks would’ve had more money for other loans. Consumers would’ve bought more cars, televisions, and other big ticket items… which would’ve resulted in more jobs.

If consumers bought Fords and Toyotas rather than Chevys and Buicks, GM would’ve had to fix their problems or go out of business. With increased sales, the other auto makers would’ve been able to buy GM factories and put the former GM employees to work building other makes of cars.

Is it too late for the government to get out of the auto business? I hope not. And while they’re at it, they should also get out of the banking and investment businesses.

Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for MARTA and PAT to liquidate and let the private sector show the politicians how it should be done.

Considering the business acumen of most politicians, it wouldn’t take a business genius to repair the damage done by congress. Think of it! How many politicians have held a ‘real’ job during their adult life. There may be a few, but most of them were borderline lawyers who recognized they could make a lot more money supporting the causes of special interest groups.

If they were intelligent enough to be successful business people, why would they even consider becoming a member of Congress?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and see if Michael has been buried yet.

Michael Jackson’s Band Wagon

June 26, 2009

If you don’t mind, I’d rather toss Michael under the band wagon.

For many of us, yesterday’s bigger loss was the death of Farrah Fawcett who finally lost her three year battle with cancer. Even with her tremendous suffering, Farrah had the courage to put together a documentary of her struggle to demonstrate the importance of not giving up.

And what was Michael Jackson doing during the last three years? I really don’t know and I obviously don’t care. After the repeated accusations of child molestation, the plastic surgeries to make him look more like Liz Taylor, and his many other idiotic actions, I got tired of hearing his name.

In many ways, I feel sorrier for Michael than I do for Farrah. Farrah was battling a physical enemy. Michael’s enemies were mostly in his own mind.

When the Jackson Five first came on the scene in the late 60’s, I was a big fan of the young Michael Jackson. As time progressed and his musical style changed, I lost interest. Perhaps that was my fault for getting old. I quit listening to rock and roll music as it evolved toward what it is today. Somewhere along the line, I switched to country music which, today, is more reminiscent to the rock and roll of my youth. With country music, a story is told and I can understand the lyrics. (That’s how I know a story is told.)

The young Mr. Jackson was very good looking. There was absolutely nothing wrong with his appearance. But then his skin began to get lighter and his nose turned into something you’d expect to see on a Caucasian. In truth, it makes me wonder what his body looked like. How far down his neck did the doctors go when they turned his skin lighter?

Enjoying cookies and milk and sleeping with little boys. I don’t care how much of a Michael Jackson fan you are – that is beyond weird. It makes me wonder what sort of demons shared that body with the fabulous entertainer.

Yes. I called him a fabulous entertainer. While I didn’t care for his music, millions of other folks disagreed with me. They loved his concerts.

During the last American Idol, I thought sure Adam Lambert would win because, of all the other contestants, he was the best entertainer. He seemed to be a natural on the stage… just as Michael Jackson was.

Kris Allen is a very talented young man, but he doesn’t have the stage presence of Adam Lambert. I think Adam lost because most Americans thought sure he was going to win. So, they either didn’t bother to vote, or they voted for Kris to make it close.

I think a similar thing happened when Bill Clinton beat George Bush. Everyone was sure Bush would win, so many voted for Ross Perot… so that Bush wouldn’t win by a landslide.

Oops! I strayed off the original topic. My apologies.

Getting back to Michael, I always hate to see a person die before his or her time, but I can’t help wondering how much Michael’s demons contributed to his demise. In a way, he’s been fighting his own form of cancer for most of his life. Maybe that explains his weird behavior.

Numerous personalities have stated that most of us will long remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of Michael’s death. Some likened it to the death of Elvis Presley – another performer I didn’t really care for. Some even went so far as to compare it to the death of John F. Kennedy.

Sorry. That takes it too far. Both entertainers were extremely popular with their fan base, but the assassination of a United States President is more than a little different.

I have no idea of what I was doing on the day of Elvis’ death. I couldn’t even tell you the year he died let alone the month and day. Soon I’ll be in the same situation with Michael’s death (as well as Farrah’s), but I’ll never be that way when it comes to JFK.

I was a sophomore at Edinboro State Teachers College on November 22, 1963. I was at my off-campus housing when I heard JFK had been shot. I then walked into town where I got the word that he had died.

Come to think of it, it’s a bit troublesome that our culture puts more emphasis on the lives of entertainers than on politicians. No wonder our government is so screwed up.

Stranger Than Fiction

May 21, 2009

I couldn’t come up with an idea to write about today. So I went to my old stand-by – the History Channel’s website – to see what significant events have occurred on May 21st. Here is what I learned about this day in history.

In 1901, Connecticut became the first state to enact a speed limit for horseless carriages. It stated that the speed of all motor vehicles should not exceed twelve miles per hour on country highways and eight miles per hour within city limits. I’m guessing that the ‘highways’ of the time were not as nicely paved as they are today. Thus, twelve miles per hour may well have been seen as ‘breakneck’ speed.

While setting a speed limit doesn’t seem all that strange, one has to wonder why twelve M.P.H. and eight M.P.H. were chosen as the upper limits. One also has to wonder how those speeds were measured by the state troopers and local police. If I’m not mistaken, radar had not yet been invented. For that matter, how many of the motor vehicles were equipped with speedometers?


An even stranger event took place on May 21, 1924. That’s when fourteen-year-old Bobbie Franks was abducted from a Chicago street and murdered by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. The killers were extremely wealthy and intelligent teenagers; their sole motive for killing Franks was the desire to commit the “perfect crime.”

The two young men had both graduated from college while still in their teens, but their high IQs didn’t stop them from making several mistakes that allowed the police to determine their guilt.


In 1992, Amy Fisher, the so-called “Long Island Lolita,” was arrested for shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco. Fisher, only seventeen at the time of the shooting, was having an affair with Mary Jo’s husband, thirty-eight-year-old Joey Buttafuoco.

Mary Jo survived the attack but was left with a bullet lodged in her head and a partially paralyzed face. Fisher pleaded guilty to the shooting and was convicted of assault. She received a sentence of 5 to 15 years the following year.

Mary Jo seemed to think her husband was blameless in the affair. The courts felt differently and Joey was convicted of statutory rape. He received a six-month jail sentence.


In 1996, seventy-six-year-old Richard Keech shot his son-in-law, Nicholas Candy, to death outside his Long Beach, California, home. Candy was in the midst of a divorce and custody battle with Keech’s daughter Nancy and had arrived to pick up his son.

After the first shot, Candy staggered down the street yelling, “Help me, help me,” Keech shot four additional bullets in his back. Candy died on a neighbor’s lawn.

The case captured national attention because Keech had a highly unusual defense. He claimed his actions were due to post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by being a prisoner of war during World War II.

The defense portrayed Candy as a man with a bad temper who began a reign of terror against the family. In December 1995, as the arguments over the son, Martin, intensified, Keech purchased a gun, which he later said was for protection against Candy.

On the day of the murder, Candy was informed by Keech that he couldn’t take Martin because the child was running a fever. He and Keech then got into a shouting match. After Keech shot Candy to death, he purportedly told a neighbor, “It’s over. He won’t be bothering anyone anymore.”

According to his defense, Keech fired the first shot in order to defend himself from Candy’s attack. The four subsequent shots were allegedly the result of a flashback. Keech testified that while he was shooting Candy, he thought he was back in the Japanese prisoner camps and was about to be beaten to death for hurting a guard.

The jury didn’t buy Keech’s defense; he was convicted of first-degree murder in 1997.


And now, for what I see as the most bizarre thing to occur on this date. In 2000, the bones of President James Garfield’s spine were displayed for the last time as part of the “Out of the Blue Closets” exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C.

The display featuring President Garfield’s spinal column showed exactly where one out of two assassin’s bullets had passed through it on July 2, 1881. Garfield succumbed to complications from his wounds 80 days after being shot.

Garfield’s spine is not the only presidential body part to have been an item of interest at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The museum also owns some of Lincoln’s skull fragments and President Eisenhower’s gallstones. A museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, keeps a tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland. John F. Kennedy’s brain, which was removed during his autopsy after his assassination in 1963, “disappeared” and has never been found.


I have been told that the altar of every Roman Catholic Church has a ‘relic’ embedded in it. When I asked what sorts of relics were used, I was told, “bones from saints.”

Based on the things they do with saints and dead presidents, I think I’ll try to avoid becoming either one. If you don’t mind, I’ll continue to be a sinner and worry about forgiveness when I get ‘there’.

Has it been Forty-Five Years?

November 22, 2008

On Friday, November 22, 1963, I was a sophomore at Edinboro State College doing what many college students have a tendency to do. I was sleeping in… way in. I had no classes until late in the afternoon. Therefore, I’d stayed up the night before. I doubt if I was partying on a Thursday night. Most likely I’d stayed up late watching a movie on television; I doubt that I was up late studying. I’m trying to be honest here!

When my clock radio went off shortly before two in the afternoon I was stunned by what I thought I’d heard. The disc jockey had interrupted the music to report that the President had been shot. At least that’s what I thought he’d said.

My roommates were all in class, so I couldn’t get verification from them. Meanwhile, the DJ had returned to spinning records and, being about twenty miles away from any town with a radio station, searching the dial would’ve been fruitless. Most radios of the time did not pick up FM stations.

I had no choice but to get out of bed, get cleaned up and dressed, and walk the mile or so into town. By the time I got to Liz’s Restaurant, further reports had come in. The President had been shot and killed!

As soon as word reached the college administration, all classes were canceled for the remainder of Friday as well as Saturday morning. The nation was in shock and just beginning the mourning process. There was no sense trying to hold classes for a bunch of young adults trying to make sense out of a senseless act.

John F. Kennedy was elected on November 8, 1960 and was inaugurated on January 20, 1961. As I recall, although my parents seemed to lean toward the Republican party, having a Democrat elected President was not the big deal it is today. The only problem perceived with JFK by many Republicans was a fear held by many others – as a Roman Catholic, would Kennedy allow the Pope to take over the running of our government.

It makes me wonder how many of our fellow citizens are currently worried about our government falling into the hands of Black Power advocates or, worse, Muslims!

The fears regarding Kennedy being controlled by Rome were baseless… as are any concerns about Obama today.

The young people of the sixties quickly got behind JFK and his “New Frontier”. We also loved the idea of the Peace Corps. John Kennedy had some great ideas and was an extremely charismatic leader. The only problem I’ve come to recognize in him is a problem that could also face President Obama; simply stated, he hadn’t been in Washington long enough to gather a lot of dirt on his fellow politicians. Therefore, it was difficult for him to get Congress to support his initiatives.

Sadly, it took the experience and treachery of Lyndon Johnson to make Civil Rights a reality after the death of the man who so bravely fought for such legislation.

We college students had fretted for days when JFK led our nation through the Cuban missile crisis and walked miles in an effort to be physically fit. Suddenly, the body of our brave young leader was being carried in a caisson through the streets of Washington, DC, and we all shed tears along with his wife and children.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like when President Franklin Roosevelt announced that December 7, 1941 was a day that would live in infamy. I know the queasiness in the pit of my stomach on November 22, 1963 was repeated on September 11, 2001. I pray that I can live the remainder of my life without experiencing any more similar events.


This may be my last post for a few days. My bride and I are headed out for a short vacation. If I have access to the Internet, I may add a post or two and let you know what we’re up to. Otherwise, take the opportunity to catch up on some of the other articles here.