Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April Fool's!

The April Fools Day Virus...
does nothing. That's the joke.

Or, maybe it does. How the fuck should I know? All I can say is that I am not opening anything tomorrow (other than a bottle of Grey Goose and a jar of olives).

Sunday, March 29, 2009


At Least Stalin Wasn't A Democrat...
The White House explained that it was President Barack Hussein Obama who cut--figuratively speaking--the balls off of Rick Wagoner, the (now) former chairman of General Motors.

It seems that if GM is going to take $26 Bn in bailout money, then Comrade Obama gets a say in who is going to run the joint.

Following this logic, the union leadership will be the next to vacate their position since they are as much to blame for GM's malaise as Chairman Wagoner. After all, he may have made the decision to build the Suburban and the Avalanche over the electric and hybrid cars that everyone seems to think that we want right now; but, they were the ones who wanted to have the store...and got it.

The unions gave us make-work, no-fire jobs, the jobs bank, and benefits that only a Congressman might find offensive. Now, they should have to pay.

Management may have made bad decisions; but, labour built a substandard product for years. This was okay when there was little competition from the outside. Then, the Japanese came along with their inexpensive, well-made cars and Detroit was fucked.

The tragedy is that Wagoner said that he'd go. Instead, he should have moved GM into bankruptcy, seeking Chapter 11 protection. He should have broken the unions' hold on GM (and the American auto industry in general). He should have been a man and stood up to Obama, the UAW, and Congress. Then, he should have committed seppuku. Instead, he is reaping the whirlwind (and collecting a massive payout for going on unemployment).

Actually, the tragedy is the stupidity of Congress with CAFE standards and tariffs (e.g., the fact that American automakers can not import foreign-built cars that would meet these standards, and which Americans might actually have wanted to buy); and, the fact that the unions have rarely, if ever, given anything back.

Sure, Wagoner made a mess of things; but, he's not the only one at fault. So, Comrade Obama, clean the stables. Or, stay out of the business of business.

Of course, the funny thing is that we don't blink when the President forces a CEO to leave; but, we keep electing (and re-electing) the clowns in Congress who mismanage a far larger business; and, who take (and misuse) a Hell of a lot more than $26 Bn.

I just hope we can survive the four years of this Five Year Plan.

Maybe we can borrow the DVDs that were given to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. After all, he can't watch them at home.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Politically Incorrect?

I Was Passing The Vending Machine Today...
and I couldn't help but wonder if the package of Ho Hos might offend someone.

I thought of other things, too...

Like my friend from California who suggested that we go out and "...shoot some chink."*

If you talk about a "chink in the armour," have you offended one billion people?

Or, if your child is a "dago" at the local prep school, have you offended Italians everywhere?

My friend S. once called K-Mart and asked if they had any "jiggers." The clerk was absolutely bugfuck crazy with rage, accusing him of being a racist. The situation wasn't helped when he asked if, perhaps, he should call them "jegroes."

I know that the term "Paddy Wagon" gets a visceral reaction from many; but, what about "Black Maria"? (I once had a judge remind counsel, at sidebar, that "...since there are no Nigger Wagons and no Spic Wagons, there will be no Paddy Wagons.")

If you have a "Guinea Pump" (or, own a Guinea Pig, for that matter) have you pissed off the Italians once more?

What about getting your house "spic and span"? Or, using Spic And Span?

If you live in Seattle (or better, Provincetown), and say that you want to "take the ferry," have you offended those who have embraced an alternate lifestyle? Do they think that the ferry boats constitute their very own navy?

Maybe we should all just have a drink...and get along.

*Play basketball. The expression, "shoot some chink" apparently comes from the chain nets that were on the hoops at the playground.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hope for a change...

President Barack Hussein Obama Sits And Waits...
for April Fool's Day, hoping that there won't be a big change for Auntie Zeituni, his frail aunt, who is presently living in Boston. In public housing. Oh, and she is an illegal immigrant. Living in public housing. Which is illegal. Like Auntie's immigration status.

Now, riddle me this, Batman. How, in the name of all that is holy does the the President, who is doing all right for himself, let his dear auntie live in public housing?

More to the point, how do the Attorneys Obama let auntie live in this country, illegally, for so long? Didn't the Attorneys Obama believe, as officers of the court, that they had a responsibility to do the right thing and sort her immigration status?

Didn't they know a sharp immigration lawyer? Couldn't they have put in the fix? Governor Blagojevich probably knew someone who could have helped (for a small fee, of course).
What has happened to noblesse oblige?

Aw, Hell, who am I kidding. It doesn't matter. No one cares.

Now, if Auntie Z. worked for AIG, she'd already be on a flight back to Grass Hut, Kenya.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I Have A Dream...

The Snow Is Mostly Gone From The Courts...
and I have been thinking about getting out the racquet and getting ready for the summer. Maybe calling up King and playing a couple of sets. Or, dragging my kids out for an afternoon of smacking the fuzzy (optic) yellow ball around.

But, what I would really like to do is go to Dubai, and play on the court pictured above. Now, that would be the balls.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009


"Whatchoo Talkin' About Willis (Tower)?"
Chicago's Sears Tower is now The Willis Tower. In other news, Boston's John Hancock Tower will be called The Arnold Tower.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Still Laughing...

I Was Coming Around The Corner At The Market
speaking to my son in my strong Southern accent, when I heard one clerk say something to another:

Clerk: "Over by the crackers."

Lifeguard: "I beg your pardon." (Even more Southern.)

Clerk: "Huh?"

Lifeguard: "You called me a 'craker.' I am offended. I want to speak with your manager."

Clerk: "But, um.... Are you serious? I was talking to her. [Pointing to the other clerk.]"

And, for the next two minutes, I let the poor bastard twist in the wind, each dig just a little deeper than the last.


Lifeguard: "Nah, don't worry about it. I'm just messing with you."

It was just about the best two minutes I have spent in the last few weeks.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Lifeguard Wept: Redux

Cartooniste Is My Conscience...

and the comments relative to my thoughts on government involvement in higher education were realistic, thoughtful, and not entirely unreasonable. Of course, I say this because Cartooniste is one of the few people I know that has spent as many years in post-graduate study as The Lifeguard. (The difference, however, may be that The Lifeguard managed something like ten years of post-secondary education without much more than a Camry worth of debt.)

I would, however, note three things that were running through my head when I wrote the aforementioned post:

First, I had just finished my third (or, was it fourth?) martini. I was not unlike a Kennedy on a "fact-finding" mission. Hell, the only thing missing was a bridge, a campaign worker, and an Oldsmobile.

Second, The Lifeguard believes that universities are going to be faced with Hobson's Choice in the very near future (and, shame on me for not mentioning it in the original post). The Harvards, MITs, and the like are soon going to be faced with taxes being levied on their endowments. In the bleak economic times facing America, the several states are going to turn to the only people with shitloads of money: churches and colleges.

In order to avoid giving fifteen or twenty percent of their endowment's growth to feed the beast, these schools will (or should) offer to spread the wealth (in return for favourable tax treatment). And, frankly, this suggestion goes along with Cartooniste's view on the purpose of the endowment (stabilising the college, whatever the Hell that means). Really, what could be more stabilising than getting kids through college without loads of debt? Plus, those kids will later donate money to the school, thus replenishing the endowment's principal.

Oh, and I don't know a single law school professor worth $200,000.00; but, if that is what they indeed get paid, it is only because they have a better union than history, classics, or English professors. And, think about it. Presidents Clinton and Obama were law professors (right out of law school), and certainly did not make $200,000.00 a year. (Even though Cartooniste thinks that they are two of the smartest people ever. Ever.)

Finally, I agree that secondary education needs to be improved. Remedial courses belong in high school, not college. If Junior needs remedial English at Harvard, maybe he shouldn't be at Harvard. In fact, one of the worst things to ever happen was the universal belief that everyone had to go to college. Really, kids with no aptitude for higher education should be given the encouragement to find other opportunities for happiness, such as trade schools, two-year colleges, or the military (or other service to this country).

Additionally, when students are applying to college, everyone wants to go to Harvard; but, not everyone can go to Harvard. Therefore, high school students should be directed to colleges that are appropriate based upon their aptitude, economic background, and ability to finish that which they start (i.e., college).

I note, as an aside, that when the University of California stopped using racial preferences, fewer minorities attended UC-Berkeley (for example); but, the numbers of minorities graduating from other, less prestigious, campuses (campi?) increased.

Anyway, my point in this exercise was that there are things that Congress (and government) do well, others (such as education and the economy) that they do not. Sort of like me wanting to go to Harvard.

Monday, March 02, 2009

That's The Ticket...

The Lifeguard Knows About The Arms Race...

and, for all of the praise for First Lady Michelle Obama's "toned arms," I would have to say that, compared to the Williams sisters (who were playing tonight in the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup), her arms are downright flabby.

You could take the First Lady's arm flab and tie it to two trees, thus making a flabberhammock in which she might recline.

You could render her arm flab and fuel a fleet of trucks with fat-based biodiesel.

You want toned arms? Venus and Serena Williams should be your role models. They have spectacularly toned arms; and, all you have to do to get them is play a lot of tennis.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Lifeguard Wept...

As The World Economic Crisis Grows...The Lifeguard has been fielding questions about the Brobdingnagian stimulus package offered by President Obama. In many respects, the desire to do something right now has replaced the need for well-reasoned and thoughtful action.

The belief that the Congress--people who have, in the main, done nothing productive for the duration of their working lives--should be the saviours of the world society is a troubling and destructive cult. The posturing, and demagoguery that have filled the news of late is, quite frankly, disgusting and offends the sensibilities of thinking, tax-paying Americans.

Rather than spend like drunken sailors in a Thai whorehouse, Congress (and President Obama) need to take a step back and think about the needs of the many (as opposed to the needs of the few).

The Lifeguard offers a few suggestions to soften the blow of the growing economic malaise:

First, stop thinking that something needs to be done immediately. We didn't get to this point overnight, and we won't have relief upon the signing of the bill (which calls for massive spending in future years). Instead, start by analysing the various sectors needing relief, then work on several small, focused plans (rather than one massive clusterfuck). At least that way, Congress (and, more importantly, the people) will be able to read and understand what is being done, and what is being spent.

The Lifeguard would start with the banking industry, giving money to clean up balance sheets, minimise the impact of bad loans, and to get people saving (and banks lending) once more. Rather than encouraging more bad behaviour (such as people buying more house than they can afford), Congress should accept the fact that some people made bad decisions; and, therefore, should have to down-size (or lose their homes to foreclosure). The reality of life is that not everyone is entitled to live in a McMansion.

Heavy industry should be next (perhaps). Companies, like Caterpillar, will be poised to profit as governments around the world funnel money into infrastructure projects, and will be able to gain ground (and market share) if Congress targets specific industries.

Second, cut taxes (and suspend environmental regulations) that stifle business development. CAFE standards are killing the US automobile industry, and hybrid/alternative fuel vehicles are costly (and potentially environmentally harmful). The General, Ford and Chrysler should be encouraged to start increasing the production of diesel engines (and states like California and Massachusetts should be forced to accept the registration of diesel cars). Allow the Big Three to import their foreign diesels into the US market, without tariff, and set a goal of forty percent of the US fleet to be diesel-powered by 2015. Reduce the taxes on diesel fuel (which will help the transportation industry lower their costs) to encourage the spread of diesel at the pump; and, offer tax relief to Americans who trade in their petrol-powered rides for diesel-powered vehicles.
Let the Big Three sell their diesel-powered Escalades, Navigators, and Durangos (along with smaller diesels), and the industry as a whole will gain traction.

Allow offshore drilling, so that we can become more energy independent; and, eliminate supports for corn and sugar (so that the use of sugar-based ethanol can supplant corn-based ethanol), which will lower food prices (since more corn can go to food production and sugar prices will tumble, allowing for greater reductions in prices of sugar-containing food).

Third, stop fucking with health care. Some people make the choice to eschew health insurance because they are young and healthy. And, while having these folks in the insurance pool helps spread the risk (and reduce premiums for the rest of us), they shouldn't be forced into spending money they don't have (or wish to save). If universal health care is the goal, then allow people to shop, across state lines for the best prices; and, make a chosen policy portable. Allow people to set up HSAs, and allow them to keep the money they don't spend at the end of the year (or let them roll it into their IRAs, without penalty).

(e.g., Company A offers a policy that has a $2,000.00 deductible. The consumer funds the HSA with $2,000.00, via payroll deduction (or out-of-pocket). If, at the end of the year, the consumer has only spent $200.00, allow them to keep, tax free, the remaining balance; or, to roll it into an IRA.)

Also, limit malpractice awards to actual damages. A person who loses a child to a doctor's malpractice simply should not get tens of millions of dollars. In the event of a disability, the award should contemplate the cost of care only; not shit-tonnes of money for pain and suffering. (Senator John Edwards demonstrated throughout his legal career, repeatedly, that juries are unpredictable and driven by emotion, not facts; and, their awards are devastating to the medical community).

Limit malpractice costs and the costs of health care will come down, significantly.

Finally, the government should get out of the business of education (or, at least higher education). As government student loan limits have increased, so has college tuition. Students are leaving colleges with unmanageable debt; and, small colleges and universities that should otherwise close or consolidate are profiting.

Eliminating government aid will do a couple of things, including colleges to knock loose some of their endowments to fund the education of economically challenged students. Colleges will have to compete more aggressively for students who need aid (by reaching into their own pockets). They will also have to freeze (or reduce) salaries for everyone, including administrators, faculty, and union members.

Additionally, getting government out of the student loan business will reduce the administrative burden on secondary and tertiary education providers. Less bureaucratic red tape means less paperwork and fewer paper-pushers.

Finally, consolidation among the 2,300+ four-year American colleges might not be a bad thing. For example, Harvard subsumed Radcliffe. Maybe UMass-Amherst should subsume UMass-Lowell (saving a few hundred grand a year for a second chancellor). And, consolidation within departments should follow. Roll Women's Studies (or African Studies) into Sociology (for example). Get rid of a department head (or ten). Then, pass those savings on to the students.

Next, The Lifeguard gets rid of the Departments of Education, Energy, and Transportation; reduces Congressional salaries by 25%; and, starts Predator flights (along with the attendant Hellfire Missile attacks on drug lords and aliens crossing into the United States illegally).