Saturday, March 15, 2014

Venting again into the Bermuda Triangle of unpublished Letters to the Editor

To the Editor  NY Times
John McCain opines (Obama Made America Look Weak" NYT 3/15/14) that the Russians did not invade Crimea because of the President. He then says that Putin acted because of the President's “disturbing lack of realism” and "lack of resolve".
If America’s military options in an international crisis have been devalued as a credible deterrent, it’s largely because of the devastating financial and human cost of the two failed wars that Senator McCain so uncritically advocated. The most troubling lack of realism here is Senator McCain’s failure to acknowledge that.  The phrase “physician heal thyself” comes to mind.
Robert M. Salzman

Saturday, March 08, 2014

EXCUSE ME? COSSACKS???


I know it’s a little late for post Olympic commentary.  OK maybe an invasion by an under cover plain clothes army that ain't saying who sent them is more important but somebody needs to say something about the Cossacks. So this will be quick and then you can go back to the invasion.

I’m 62 years old.  Getting together with friends these days often begins with who pulled something while bending down to pick up soap. For me watching the Olympics and all the 20 somethings  flipping, spinning, zooming, flying around upside down was mostly annoying.

Then there was an unscheduled event – Cossack bull whipping.  



Out of nowhere, the flipping, spinning and zooming was suddenly interrupted by a video of men in  silly hats whipping a group of 20 something women also wearing interesting head gear because they tried to sing one of their songs   "Putin Will Teach You How to Love. The sports reporters matter of factly explained that the guys with the whips were Cossacks. OK got it. Now back to curling. 

Whoa! Time out . Hold on. There are still Kossacks in Russia and  they patrol the streets with whips, while dressed up as bell hops?



I thought the Kossacks were guys on horses who drove my ancestors out of Russia.  This was like watching the local six o’clock news and hearing the news anchor say “This afternoon people eating nachos at the Vince Lombardi rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike were attacked by Hessians. Now lets take a look at the weather."


OK I got it out of my system. I just needed to scream for a few seconds. Now back to the invasion.

Monday, January 13, 2014

BARKING BACK - MY FRIEND DON, A RESPECTED WELFARE POLICY EXPERT AND ADVOCATE, RESPONDS WITH ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON THE INAUGURATION



I appreciate your thoughts on the inauguration and mostly see things the same way... I don't totally agree with everything. I not convinced that what happens in NYC is as critical factor in the future of liberal policies. I realize now that maybe I'm even more pessimistic, glass-half-empty than you. I think there's very little chance that a NYC mayor can take major strides in ending income inequality without significant help from the state (where we have a governor who Dean Skelos rightly calls a good moderate Republican) and the feds. So I'm cautiously pessimistic about some of his more dramatic proposals. I would also urge you not to be quite so discouraged about first day speeches, which will largely be forgotten in the very near future. What I am really nervous about - something that you allude to - is that conservative, corporate forces will band together to defeat important parts of the Mayor's agenda, and they have extortionate power, the threat to leave, the threat to - thanks to Citizens United - offer a bottomless well of cash to opponents of progressive change. But I'd like to think there's room to hope for incremental, but significant change. The city council looks like it may be a progressive force, the Gov. actually might help (for example, though he clearly won't support a tax increase to fund Universal pre-K, it's certainly no coincidence that UPK featured prominently in his state of the state address).

Lastly, I had some dealings with Tish James when she was an Assembly staffer. She's really smart and I think her heart's in the right place. The Public Advocate has limited power and almost no staff, but I think/hope she'll be something of a force in the right direction. And about her holding hands with the young homeless girl, what's so terrible about highlighting, though in a somewhat cheesy way, the plight of the homeless.

There's more talk around the country about poverty right now, owing, I believe, in no small part to DeBlasio. What will come out of it? It would be silly to be too exuberant, but it would be a real shame not to get on board for as far as we can go...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

THE DIBLASIO INAUGURATION AND THE MORNING AFTER


The morning after the inauguration I was sitting on the subway reading the paper.  A middle aged Hispanic woman next to me wordlessly put her finger on the picture of the DiBlasio family in my paper and gave me a smiling nod. I gave her one right back.

This election meant a lot to a huge chunk of New York’s newly emerging voting demographic - the people who felt that whatever Bloomberg was doing for the last 12 years had nothing to do with them. Bloomberg did some great things but at the end of the day he was a tone deaf snob who saw himself primarily as Concierge in Chief for the haves.

Bill and Hillary sitting in the front row royalty seats at the inauguration reminded everyone that there was something big going on here. This was more than Bernie Sanders becoming Mayor of Burlington in 1981. There was, and is, nothing less at stake here than the future of liberal policies in America.

The Republican express has been splintered and momentarily derailed by the Tea Party. The newest Democratic wedge issue is the increasingly toxic gap between rich and poor. Democrats smell blood in the water and they're going after the electoral holy grail - America’s big fat voting middle. 

You have to imagine that the right wing think tanks are working overtime to develop their own wedge issues to torpedo DiBlasio and sink Hillary. You have to believe we need to be worried about cops driving up crime statistics, developers backing away from big plans and conservative talking heads warning about the end of charter schools.

I confess that I’m a glass is half empty, chicken little kind of guy. I know that I should have been more excited by the speeches but when it was over I was mostly disappointed and worried.

The campaign is over. The good guys won. The progressive wing of the Democratic party had the microphone on the national stage in a rare teaching moment. This was the time to reach out to everyday folks who think that economic fairness means the government is going to pick their pockets. Too many of the speakers didn’t seem to get it that economic justice needs to be sold not as a matter of right and wrong, which never goes very far, but as a matter of raw, pocket book, self interest.

This was an opportunity to speak to the people that didn't vote for DiBlasio and explain why he is on their side. It was a chance to explain that keeping kids in schools is cheaper than locking them up; that when police are seen as hostile occupiers, prosecutors can’t find witnesses and juries reach OJ Simpson style nullification verdicts; that streets and subways are safer without desperate poor people; that having a stable educated work force living in affordable homes is a business magnet; that neighborhoods become and stay vital when homeowners are real people shopping in local stores not Chinese princelings and Russian moguls parking suitcases of cash by buying $70 million condos where noone lives.

That’s why except, for Bill Clinton’s speech, and that goose bump inducing 18 year old poet Ramya Ramana, the speeches left me alternatively yawning and cringing.  DiBlasio’s speech did the job but comparing it on an inspiration scale to an Obama speech would be like comparing the Manhattan Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Too many of the speakers forgot that this wasn’t a stir up the troops campaign rally. Let me be the first and last person in history to call Harry Belafonte tone deaf. Even though he was right, what a waste of a televised teaching moment for one of America's cultural icons to blast New York’s prison population problem as “stemming from issues of race, perpetuated  by human indifference to poverty.” Who was that supposed to persuade?

How did it help DiBlasio for the Department of Sanitation Chaplain to refer to New York City as a“plantation"? One more question. After the Department of Sanitation chaplain sits down at his desk in the morning and finishes his coffee, what exactly does he do for the rest of the day?

Then came Latisha James. This was the new Public Advocate’s chance to introduce herself to the city wide electorate and  . . oh I don’t know…. maybe  be an advocate?  Instead she held the hand of a gum chewing 12 year old homeless girl as a prop and gave a “there’s a new sheriff in town” speech.

While she was speaking, with a snow storm predicted for the next day, you could see the thought bubble above Bloomberg’s head that said, “Please God, if you make it the blizzard of the century I’ll build a new wing in heaven.”


I turned off the TV and said my own little atheist inaugural prayer: 
  Mr. Mayor, this is the big enchilada. Please don’t blow it .     Good luck to you.  Good luck to us all.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

THE NYC RACE FOR MAYOR "IS TOO DAMN BORING"


I got a call last Saturday afternoon from a pollster who wanted to know what issue I care most about in the New York City mayoral election. I hung up on the poor sap because I assumed he was trying to steal my identity. Also I had more important things to do - like cut my toenails.


It was however a good question and I would now like say a few things about the NYC Mayoral election  . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . …............... . . . . . . . . sorry I must have dozed off. Where was I? Oh yes- the Mayoral election -


Holy moly!! - what a bunch of lackluster hacks!


For a long time Bloomberg was a welcome relief from Guliani who gave us 8 years of government by temper tantrum along with his motto  “if it pisses off white people I’ll take care of it”.  Tourists loved Guliani for the same reason they love to pose with the naked cowboy in Times Square. I’ll get back to you as soon as I find out what that reason is.


Then came Bloomberg.  As a  “let’s just fix it” engineer/CEO he was initially a welcome change. Like when you replace a noisy old broken air conditioner and you think  how nice  not have to live with that  awful noise any more. Bloomberg was refreshingly untethered by his fortune from NYC’s traditional power bases. He does have one dominant quality that he can’t seem to suppress. He is an elitist arrogant asshole  He spent around $70 million dollars  to buy City Hall, three times. Officially he was elected but in reality his three inaugurations were nothing more than closings.  Now the old air conditioner is getting annoyingly noisy again.


Just when you thought this year’s candidates couldn’t possibly be less interesting they held a forum on animal safety. Christine Quinn boasted that she created a special fund for spaying and neutering. William Thompson mentioned that he once rescued a cat.


It’s May and apparently we have entered the “I am not just a hack” segment of the beauty pageant. This week we got to hear that DiBlasio’s wife used to be gay. Quinn followed that by announcing that she used to have a drinking and eating disorder.  

This all brings me back to the polling guy’s question. What issue in this election do I care most about?  I'm pretty sure it's not pet neutering. It's also not Bill DiBlasio's relationship with his wife or Christine Quinn's relationship with her refrigerator. The thing that keeps coming to mind is the mantra of that oddly appealing nut job candidate Jimmy McMillan who has one issue and one slogan-   “The Rent is Too Damn High”


I keep waiting for one of the candidates to say something  as straight  forward and compelling as that.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

ON THE ROAD IN INDIA AND THINKING ABOUT THE TEA PARTY



















OK  - you make a good point - or at least you will in a moment .






A guy from New York City who spends two weeks on the tourist track in India - traveling from Delhi, to Veranasi, to Agra, Jaipur, Deogarh, Udaipur to Mumbai has no business pontificating about what's wrong with Indian society







Udaipur




Taj Palace and Tower  and Gateway to India (Mumbai)







Veranasi (Ganges)






BUT . . . .
after a drive from Delhi to Agra that was supposed to take 3 hours turned into a 6 and 1/2 hour ride from hell  thru the darkened roller coaster of horn honking, weaving in and out chaos, with the added feature of facing trucks without lights coming at us, on our side of the divided highway, in the wrong direction




and absolutely no sign of a cop or any traffic safety rules while occasionally a car belonging to a politician, equipped with a flashing light, demands that everyone else get out of their way - I couldn't help being left with some lasting impressions.









Life in India seems to be the way the Tea Party thinks things should be - no government, no health, safety or transportation infrastructure and no regulations that anyone appears to pay any attention to, while the status quo is kept in place by an institutionalized elite with a very high tolerance of the cavernous gap between the privileged and the masses of desperate poor people who are at, and frequently, over,  the edge of survival.


Child without a safety net (Mumbai)


.











Thursday, August 30, 2012

An embarrassing moment when my wife walked in . . .



          I had an awkward somewhat embarrassing moment last night when my wife opened the closed bedroom door and walked in on me while I was alone in the dark watching the Republican Convention. She blurted out "oh my God I can't believe it" and ran out of the room shaking her head.
          The fact is that watching the Republican convention is a lot like pornography -pure manufactured fantasy with not much connection to the real world.
          I couldn't take my eyes off the TV screen as the sea of screaming white people jumped to their feet cheering Condoleeza Rice as she attacked Obama as "leading from behind".  Condolezza Rice who sold America one of the biggest most costly, disastrous crocks of shit in US history by pitching ,what she knew to be, a bald faced lie about mushroom clouds on the horizon was now sanctimoniously lecturing Obama about how to be a world leader. The porn metaphor doesn't quite work I was embarassed the way I feel slowing down to stare at a horrible car crash. The problem is that this crash has a 50/50 chance of actually happening.




Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ooo ooo ooo can I please ask just one question?


Questions I wish someone would ask Mitt

Can you identify one job that was created by the Bush tax cuts?

ooo   ooo one more please?


This summer two NYC Police officers shot a gunman on a crowded street near the Empire State building at close range and in addition to killing the gunman they also accidently shot 7 innocent bystanders.
Do you agree with the NRA that having armed civilians in the vicinity would have helped?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Feel’in queasy




Maybe it's Mitt's psycho laugh
when nothing is funny
or maybe it's how he seems to be made of nothing - but money

Then there’s weird chubby Newt with his Tiffany’s tab
who thinks making children clean toilets
would really be fab

and what’s with the names of these two would be chieftans
Mitt and Newt might be fine
if we were naming kittens

but when Im not laughing Im nauseous without relief
at the thought of either of these jerks
as commander in chief

Monday, August 22, 2011

CONVINCING LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD THAT THE WOLF IS GRANDMA- THE GREAT REPUBLICAN MAGIC TRICK








ANYONE WHO CAN CONVINCE THESE GUYS


THAT JOBS WILL BE CREATED AND THE DEFICIT REDUCED BY CUTTING THE TAXES OF PEOPLE LIKE THIS GUY

 

Rush Limbaugh House - Powered by: Celebrity House Pictures


COULD TEACH THIS GUY A THING OR TWO





Saturday, February 05, 2011

BREAKING NEWS - LARGE WHITE MAN NOT WATCHING SUPER BOWL



It's the other closet and I'm coming out it. I'm not living in the shadows any longer - so brace yourself - here is the truth.

 I'm not watching the super bowl tomorrow night because I just don't give a rat's tuchus about football. I never have and I never will!

There I said it out loud. So far my flat screen TV hasn't blown itself up.

It’s always been my closet problem because sports talk is the great male ice breaker. If I'm in an elevator with one other guy on a Monday morning the odds are good he 's going to say, " that was some game wasn't it?"

As a heterosexual who does not read the sports section I know that nothing brings out a guy's homophobia more than another guy replying, "sorry I don’t follow football."

If I answered honestly, it would be like responding to " boy its freezing out there" with "sorry I don’t follow the weather".

Instead I try to see what floor he pressed. If I only need to fill a few seconds I can usually just make a noise like Im blowing out a bunch of candles followed by a knowing sideways head nod and a smirk.
If I have to buy some more time I move my head around like one of those bobble head things people put in the rear window of their cars and continue the blowing sound with my teeth together for a little variety. Seconds later the guy walks out thinking he just had conversation with another guy about football when in fact he did not.

So tomorrow night is approaching. Might be a good time for politicians about to be indicted to hold a live press conference on c-span because I'd be the only one watching.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Memo to liberals who have fallen out of love with Obama - this is long distance running not professional wrestling




Consider the possibility that by not giving them a target maybe - just maybe - he's  depriving the ReFoxicans of oxygen

This week the best Sara Palin could come up with was criticizing Michelle Obama for trying to reduce childhood obesity. She said that Michelle Obama "should get off our back and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions". As an act of protest she gave a cooking lesson on her TV show about how to make s'mores.

This is Sara Palin's solution to the epidemic of childhood obesity






John McCain emerged from the “dont ask dont tell” vote looking like a mean spirited homophobic dinosaur  as conclusively proven by this photo





For at least a few days - with no small thanks to Jon Stewart -  the Republican 911 smoke machine is down for repairs

On the Arms Control treaty Senators McConnell and Kyl found themselves  out manuevered and standing alone on one side of the dance floor staring at Obama holding hands with Condoleeza Rice, Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, George Bush Sr and Angela Merkel

Without an easy target, Rush Limbaugh - the Wizard of the Wingnuts - was forced to float even further away from earth's gravitational pull to dream up this for his web site this week-

The Latest from Rush..
START Treaty is Part of Obama's Effort to Disarm the United States
It's the lifelong dream of Obama and Democrats.

Check out a little prior barking on this subject at http://barkingattraffic.blogspot.com/2009/09/obama-announcement-of-possible-sneeze.html


 As the forces of darkness pick up their black satin capes from the dry cleaners and get ready to take over Congress and the new Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, Rep. King gears up for his anti Muslim witch hunt hearings . . .

 the first turtle has been busy putting one foot after the other and racking up an impressive list of year end accomplishments



A friend responds

You're a very optimistic guy.  I can hear the melody line of "I'm A Believer" in the background. 
Maybe you're right.  May it be so.  I am picturing that turtle flattened on the median of the highway trying to get across.