Monday, February 26, 2007

Conservatively Speaking

Enjoyers of Fine Things,

After the recent Academy Awards I again heard a lot of conservatives complaining about the "Hollywood elites" and liberal entertainers in general. We've all heard them hiss at Barbara Streisand and The Dixie Chicks to, "Shut Up and Sing." For years they have thundered that "Hollywood is out of touch!" One conservative announcer (lamely) joked about "Hollyweird." Do they have a point? Should Hollywood (and entertainers in general) not comment on politics and instead stick to whatever it is they do best? Let's continue, shall we?

Wasn't Ronald Reagan a Hollywood actor? I believe he was. In fact I think he made a hysterical, well-received 1951 movie with a monkey named "Bonzo!" Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha - I love funny monkeys! He was also the President of the United States from January, 1981 until January, 1989. He was (and remains) a beloved hero among conservatives even though he is now, well, a skeleton. Academy Award winner (for "Ben Hur") Charlton Heston was the revered president of the NRA for many years. Toby Keith is a hugely successful country-music star (just like the Dixie Chicks). He performs songs which encourage such American diplomacy as, "Put a boot in their ass. It's the American way." Reagan and Heston were members of the "Hollywood elite" and Toby Keith does the same thing for a living that The Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand do. So why didn't conservatives ever tell Reagan or Heston to "shut up and act" or tell Toby to "shut up and sing?" Well, because they happened to agree with these particular entertainers.

So it clearly follows that conservatives have nothing against celebrities per se as long as they agree with their views. But, if this is not the case, the performers instantly become un-American and should shut the fuck up, free speech be damned. Seems a bit hypocritical but surely the conservatives draw the line here. There can not be any further examples of such hypocrisy, can there?

Conservatives routinely condemn homosexuals as "sinners" because (simply stated) the Bible declares this behavior sinful. It's pretty straightforward, right? No hypocrisy here, ya' damned long-hairs! Jerry Falwell is a Christian hero for, among other reasons, speaking out against gay sinners and encouraging them to sign up for the highly-effective therapy that seamlessly turns gay people "straight." But hold your horses! Jerry Falwell weighs (conservatively) 300 pounds. He is, without question, morbidly obese. "So?" you may say, "It's the American way." But isn't Gluttony one of the seven deadly sins? It sure is! Why isn't Falwell (or other Christian preachers) consistently condemning heavy people, like those making up 70% of their congregations? Doesn't the Bible cry out for "conversion of the heavy" or is the sin of homosexuality the only one that needs to be addressed? Seems a bit hypocritical (just like the Hollywood thing). But could there be more?

Conservatives, in general, approve of the death penalty but abhor abortion. They cherish the "sanctity of life" but not when it comes to murderers. Hypocritical? They'd say no because the Bible states something about "an eye for an eye." I really gotta' read the Bible or get the Cliffs' Notes soon, but doesn't the Good Book say something along the lines of "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"? Yep, I do believe it does. So why support the death penalty with such self-assured vigor? Isn't the the Bible, at the very least, unclear on this issue?

So the conservatives feel comfortable condemning gays and supporting capital punishment because the Bible (sort of, sometimes) supports these views. But they couldn't care less that the Bible condemns fat people and urges forgiveness for all, even for murderers. Claiming to honor the "word of God" but then applying it only in a fashion that is convenient to yourself is the height of hypocrisy. In fact, if you repeatedly (and knowingly) ignore sections of a religious text you claim to believe in, while quoting different sections to lash out at others, it is not only pathetic, it's evil. And don't claim that you are simply "weak like everybody else," if you continue to condemn others while excusing your own behavior year after year after year. Follow your Good Book faithfully or throw it away!

Red states, don't condemn "celebrities" if you're willing to listen (and cherish) some of them. And don't claim the Bible is the final word if you blithely ignore huge sections of it. God doesn't like such behavior. But I forgive you. And don't forget to apologize to the Dixie Chicks. After all, they were right!

-St. Paul

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Political Credit Cards....


I know I'm an amateur on this stuff but I'll give it a shot....

As the war drags on and on in Iraq, the arrogance of the Bush administration (and much of America) continues to astound me. Of course it is now clear that he and his cronies (and a whole lot of Democrats!) started an unprovoked war for reasons that had nothing to do with national defense and everything to do with worldwide dominance. Ironically, the war that America created is now a serious one and not to be taken lightly. By elininating Saddam and infuriating Muslims with our presence in Iraq there is no question that the country is now loaded with bad guys that need to be exterminated, if possible. Should we stay?

Bush would have you believe that we do indeed need to "finish the job" which has, since 2003 consisted of:

a) Attacking a country unprovoked.
b) Creating a haven for terrorists who dared not enter Iraq during Saddam's reign.
c) Creating an extremely effective recruiting tool (our very presence) for Al Qaeda's operations.
d) And finally, rallying around Bush who, as Commander in Chief, is ultimately responsible for creating this mess!

But like the boy who cried, "Wolf," Bush's credibility is long gone. Only two years ago he bragged, "I have earned political capital and I intend to spend it." Well, ladies and germs, that capital has been spent and now, like most Americans, Bush's capital has been turned into gnawing debt.

But if the war is now so important (it is) why aren't we rallying around our troops' brave efforts? Part of it is simple abandonment of the politicians who created this mess. Why would we trust our leaders to win a war that they themselves created? But more importantly, it has become clear to most that we can not win the war, even if we stay a hundred years. This may or may not be true but most of us agree with Bush's own leaked security reports which revealed that we are creating far more terrorists in Iraq than we are eliminating.

So our actions in Iraq will probably turn out to be an utter waste. ALL of our soldiers will have died in vain (Barack Obama was correct on this count before he lamely apologized). And we will be far worse off in all ways than we were in early 2003, not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars poorer. So what do we do about all the terrorists when we finally pull out of Iraq? They won't simply vanish when the troops come home. It will be a terrible problem. You should certainly ask people far smarter than me but I'll give it an amateurish shot...

What's really bothered me since 9/11 is America's complete lack of humility. And that has caused severe problems. Should we make any excuses for the monsters who killed 3,000 Americans six years ago? Of course not. So, what the hell is my point? Well, since Clinton left office six years ago, our "worldwide approval rating" has gone from about 75% to about 25%. The world is angry at America. Not just the terrorists. The world. "Who cares, bitch?" you might hiss as you crack open a cold one and watch rednecks drive 500 miles in a circle. Well, to begin with, it is logical to assume that the world as a whole is just as "reasonable" as we are and we should respect (if not act on) other countries' opinions. To conclude otherwise is xenophobic nonsense. Therefore it logically follows that our behavior, in general, over the past six years has been offensive to the world. It also follows that, if you anger reasonable people, unreasonable people are much more likely to try to kill you. And being dead is a drag.

Soooo, why would we want to do unreasonable things that also endanger us?! We have attacked Iraq (unreasonable to the vast majority of the world) and simultaneously created far more terrorists who wish to bring America to its knees (and just might be able to do it). In the future, can we behave in ways that are morally sound AND create less of a terrorist threat AND help our own country overall? "Shut up, hippie!!!" you may bellow from your SUV as you glare at an immigrant. But let me give you a simple example.

I have learned that we need only increase our gas mileage by about 5 miles per gallon (per vehicle) to completely eliminate our need for mideast oil. So why has this not been pursued ferociously since 9/11?! Why did we go to war in Iraq rather than dramatically decrease our need for involvement in the area? Why are we using a finite resource (oil) as if there's plenty to go around for our grandkids? There isn't! We have instead bought larger and larger vehicles, completely ignored the needs of future Americans, and created more terrorists. Super! Why not get the hell out of the area where we are despised if we need to sacrifice so little? The answer from most Americans? "WE"RE NUMBER ONE!!" Yawn.

In conclusion (and I know this was not expertly written), the world is tired of hearing such inane slogans as "you're with us our against us" or "we're the greatest country on earth." We need to shut up and realize we can no longer ignore world opinion. We've done this for many years and we are far worse off for it. America as a whole has spent its political capital and it will take decades to get it back. Let's be very careful who we vote for in the future....


Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Plane Truth?

My Friends & Those Who Merely Tolerate Me,

It is my custom on Sunday afternoons to purchase the GIGANTIC New York Times newspaper and haul it to a local coffee shop for 2-3 hours of reading. The coffee shop is known as "Starbucks" and, based on their success in The Big Apple (roughly 5 shops per city block), you may very well see an outlet in your city within five years. Charging $4.00 for a small ("tall") cup of coffee that costs roughly $0.03 to manufacture, Starbucks nevertheless has won America's hearts and minds because (as with bottled water) we all assume that something expensive means it is "better." I'm sure that's true even though I've never read anything to confirm it. Nothing. Ever.

Of course The New York Times, as with many publications these days, is fairly bursting with advertisements pitching such products as dinette sets, hi-fi stereo systems, and New York Times subscriptions. Typically I roar directly past these advertisements with calm indifference since I already own 99.9% of all items I wish to own. Am I a wealthy man? Hardly. Am I a powerful, handsome man? Sure, but that's not relevant here! Am I a peaceful man with simple desires? Well there ya' have it! You see, I do not covet a fancy color-television console, a pricey swim-in-place pool, or even a second pair of shoes. I am already, in a word, content.

But occasionally these advertisements do catch my eye (and raise my blood pressure) if the item "pitched" is deceptively presented. You see, I was raised to be honest to a fault by a pair of God-fearing Finnish immigrants who understood the joy of receiving a well-earned dollar. Ironically, both died in a terrible accident as they drove to the bank one day to return money improperly credited to their account. The irony was magnified two-fold when it was revealed that the murderous hit-and-run driver was a drunk Episcopalian priest returning home after delivering a sermon on honesty. Since this tragic day, as you can imagine, I have been no fan of irony. I refuse to even iron my shirts. But again, I am guilty of digressing.

The advertisement in question was from Continental Airlines and trumpeted its "Incredible Super-Saver Winter Fares!" Some of the "special rates" included the following trips:

1. New York to San Francisco ($250.00). Wow!
2. Chicago to London ($400.00). Wonderful !
3. Miami to Tokyo ($750.00) Can this truly be?!

Nifty rates, eh? Let's pack our bags, one and all, and head to the nearest airport! But wait. The tiny print following these rates all read, "one way based on round trip." Hmmm. I called Continental and asked if I could actually fly from New York to San Francisco (one way) for $250.00 and they said (and I quote), "No." Hmmm again. Therefore this company is telling me (in large print) how much a portion of their "product" costs even though I am never permitted to actually buy a portion of said product! These misleading price quotes are irrelevant, and merely indicate HALF of what you must pay. Wow, what a novel approach! But an infuriating precedent has been set here, ladies and non-ladies. Read on, I beg of you...

According to this strategy, elegant restaurants can now offer fine dinners for, say, "$11.00 (based on 1/4 of your full meal)." Baseball teams can sell tickets for "$9.00 (based on one inning of the game)." Heck, the airlines might as well advertise,"New York to San Francisco: $0.07 (based on one mile of round-trip purchase). "

You see, these corporate ne'er do-wells can "honestly" advertise any price they choose if they then paranthetically (in tiny print) explain that this price only covers a fraction of the item's actual full price! Fiendishly clever, highly deceptive, and patently "rage inducing." Daily annoyances like these allow me to feel abundant sympathy for those who wake up one morning and sullenly enter their workplace with automatic weapons blazing (as crisply illustrated here).

Please just tell me what the f*#%ing thing costs!

-Paul C. Rosa

P.S. Have a nice (based on 3/4 of complete sentence).

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Friendliest City in America!

Hello, People of America & Such,

Many people who have never visited New York (or spent just a few days here) claim that the city is "dangerous" or "rude." Then they return to their smaller towns and repeat this claim. And the reputation grows. But are these opinions valid? Clearly these troubled tourists' opinions have little effect on other travelers as more people visit New York City (37 million last year) than any other American city. So how does The Big Apple get this negative reputation? I'll inform you to some extent if you choose to read the following paragraphs (all sanitized with the convenient spell-check function of my modern "lap-top computer").

First, let me explain that this city's efficiency (what there is of it) depends entirely on speed. On any given day, as many as 13,000,000 people are crammed into an island (Manhattan) that measures a scant 22.7 square miles. That's the size 13,939 football fields for those of you who are dumb and stuff. If folks (drivers or pedestrians) unnecessarily block those who are behind them, it could literally inconvenience hundreds of lives. When I moved here 7 years ago I learned very quickly that if I wished to slow down and smell the roses (all 6 of them), I would be wise to move to the far right and get the hell out of the fast lane! The rule is "Always walk quickly on the left side!" This includes escalators. Just like the rules of the road. And this rule is quickly absorbed by those with IQ's over 80 (George Bush, tee hee) and those who do not enjoy being moistened by other folks' launched saliva. So be smart and be considerate, groovy travelers! Otherwise, it is you who is rude and, as such, you should expect eventual gunfire.

Further, I consistently hear tourists (often from small towns in the midwest or deep south) claim that their neck of the woods is "much friendlier" than New York. Oh, really? I often respond by asking, "How friendly would folks in your little town be if, say, an African-American, homosexual, or Jew moved in next door?" Or all three in one person?! It always amuses me to see the moment of panic in their eyes when they recognize that their "villages" certainly are friendly...but only to people exactly like themselves! Yawn. True friendliness, to me, means true inclusiveness. Yeah, I'll be selling that lil' gem to Hallmark.

There are four apartments on my floor and two of them house interracial couples. The vast majority of people in New York would not blink at such a development. Homosexual interracial couples walk hand-in-hand in New York with little fear of more than a few insensitive remarks. People who are stared at everywhere else in America don't warrant a second glance here. A bearded man on the subway wearing a mini-skirt and hat made of pie? Boring. We've seen it before. How many cities could claim this in America? San Francisco certainly, but that might just be it. Maybe Keokuk. But the inclusiveness of New York is perhaps best illustrated by its international appeal. Stunningly, 40% of New Yorkers are foreign born. What an opportunity it is to meet people from all over the world and all walks of life! I should really do that some day.

New York is a melting pot not only for brave, ambitious people from all over the world, but also for Americans who were treated shabbily by their closed-minded smaller towns. You see, when you come to New York, no matter how "unusual" you are, you can find hundreds of people just like you. When you feel alienated and alone elsewhere, you can find acceptance in New York. You see, New York, more than any other American City, let's people "BE." And if you have a problem with people different from yourself, New York is not the place for you. Be open-minded here or be miserable!

When I toured the U.S. for 8 years as a marginally-successful comic, I had the opportunity to visit about 40 states and several hundred cities. New York was certainly the toughest and most intimidating city but, in hindsight, this was entirely due to the fact that I was simply overwhelmed. Once I learned to relax here, the city became absolutely transformative. I love it here, by cracky, by gum!

Lastly, the assertion that New York is "dangerous" is just wrong. Some tourists seem to think that riding the subway after dark is a death sentence. In fact, of all the American cities with populations over 1 million, New York is the safest! We have more crime here because we have the most people but the per-capita crime rate is of course the only meaningful statistic.

Wait....Someone's trying to break into my apartment......

Warm Embraces,
Paul "Paul Rosa" Rosa

Monday, February 5, 2007

Moron War on Drugs....

Attention Americans,

After spending the entire day at one of the finer opium dens in Greenwich Village, I have come to several conclusions:

1. Kitty cats are funny and fuzzy and like to poop in boxes.
2. Kitty cats are funny and stuff.
3. It's pretty hard to spell "ophthalmologist."
4. I like kitty cats.
5. The war on drugs is stupid and always has been.

I guess I'll elaborate on number five as the first four assertions seem to be indisputable. Let's start with a few paragraphs full of fun facts:

Between federal, state, and local governments, the United States spends over $50 billion dollars a year to fight the so-called war on drugs. After spending all of this money ($100 million a week!), less than 5% of the drugs meant for the eventual consumers is seized. But technically we stop none of it overall since the confiscated drugs are quickly replaced by more drugs. Supply of course equals demand. Which begs the question: How can you call keep calling something a "war" if you keep losing, year after year after year? Perhaps George Bush or Dick Cheney could field this one.

Next, most studies indicate that legalization will result in slightly more drug use (at worst). Of course alcohol consumption did not diminish during prohibition and the Netherlands (with plenty of legal drugs) doesn't have nearly the drug problems we have. Conservatives holler that we would instantly become a nation of staggering drug addicts should we legalize, but there's no evidence whatsoever of that. Jokes about opium dens aside, I (like most non-drug-users) would have no trouble procuring narcotics tomorrow, should I choose to pursue them. In fact, the vast, vast majority of people who want to use drugs are doing so already and couldn't care less that it's illegal.

Also, alcohol and tobacco (perfectly legal) kill 500 times as many Americans each year as illegal drugs but no one is demanding illegalization on these particular drugs. Um, why not? Granted, heroine and crystal meth are much more destructive on a person-to-person basis than alcohol and tobacco, but in the aggregate (the more important consideration) the legal drugs exact a far greater toll on society because more people choose to use them (see last paragraph).
And let's not forget that, with legalization, the vicious drug gangs will be priced out of the market by the giant pharmaceutical firms. And the resulting tax windfdall will be immense. Imagine the additional money our government could squander!

So what the hell is my point? Well, the war on drugs is a stupid waste of money. Given that it is completely ineffective (and has been for decades) what's the point in "staying the course?" Even if you hate the idea of adults using drugs, why support a policy with your tax dollars that accomplishes nothing? And never has. And conservatives, if drugs become legal we would instantly have $50 billion a year to spend on your ineffective abstinence programs, creepy intelligent-design manuals, and our war in Iraq against the terrorists who miraculously arrived shortly after we did. Hell, maybe we could start another war with a country that never threatened us. Frankly, I'm not terribly fond of Finland.

Of course selling drugs to kids should remain a felony, but I am perfectly comfortable with adults legally selling drugs to other consenting adults. Even in a church. Or in a tree. Or on a bench. Or near a bee. I do not care now, Sam I Am! Our government needs to stop telling adults what they can put in their own bodies, not to mention the bodies of other, consenting adults. Hey, a big shout out to my gay pals on the east side! Yo,' Fresh Felix, Prince Turtleneck, Slick Dick Rick, Shelly Timberlands, Felicia Flannel, and Maneater Monica! I be straight but not narrow (please see last BLOG post!).

The essential difference between the cigarette & alcohol manufacturers and drug dealers is that the drug dealers have not spent decades implying their product is part of a healthy lifestyle. And the legal products destroy far more lives. Hell, McDonald's has shattered far more families than Colombian drug lords ever will, given that obesity and heart disease are the biggest killers in America. And yet we grow furious when portly folks who grow sick on fast food sue. Why? Because they were consenting adults who made their king-sized beds and then slept in them (usually alone). Again, "CONSENTING ADULTS" here!

But the mouth-breathing American public clings to the simplistic notion that, well, "drugs are bad" and would refuse to elect a politician who dares recommend legalization. So the spineless politicians will never voice such an honest opinion unless of course more than 50% of their constituency eventually agrees. Such tiresome robots. I love the old saying: "Politics is show business for ugly people."

In conclusion, the war on drugs has no more of an overall effect than abandoning this war would! And imagine what we could do with the billions saved! For starters, how about spending a few million educating our kids on the dangers of drug use (in their rebuilt schools, with well-paid teachers!)? Or how about providing free rehab and counseling to those unfortunate souls who, in their grim pursuit of psychic or physical relief, become addicted? Like drug addict Rush Limbaugh, who, when referring to other addicts, said for years "lock em' up and throw away the key!" But when he himself became an addict (OxyContin) he learned nothing about humility and understanding. Bad for the ratings, I guess.

Enough. I'm getting the munchies.

-Paul "Cheech" Rosa

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Don't be a Dick.

Men+Men and Women+Women,

Many of you no doubt watched Dick Cheney on CNN recently, angrily giving Wolf Blitzer a dressing down when asked about his pregnant (lesbian) daughter, Mary. "Yes!" many of you may thunder. "What business is it of this small, hairy man to delve into the "private pregnancy" of a beloved politician's daughter?!" Hmmm.

Well, fellow citizens, our fine vice president (supported by over 17% of Americans in some approval polls) is of course part of the Republican party and has consistently supported many of its most conservative platforms. While Mr. Cheney does NOT support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (he says that should be left to the states), he has never spoken out about the very issue Mr. Blitzer wished to discuss. Hey, follow me to paragraph 3!

Despite all evidence to the contrary, the conservatives in this country screech over and over again that a child is best served by a father AND a mother. They also claim that the children of gay parents are more likely to be gay themselves (so?) and that gay people are more likely to molest children. But virtually every major psychological study has firmly refuted these hysterical claims. In fact, the children of gay parents, on average, grow up to be just as well-balanced (or damaged) as those of straight parents!

The conservatives also claim that "gay marriage threatens the sanctity of straight marriage." Oh, really? Then why is it that the only state permitting gay marriage (Massachusetts) has the lowest rate of divorce among heterosexual couples in America? Further, of the eight states with the highest divorce rates, ALL of them are red states. By cracky, there seems to be some inconsistencies here!

The conservatives do make one true (but easily dismissed) point: The children of gay parents have a tougher time growing up in this society. But of course that's also true of mixed-race children and no one is calling for a ban on interracial marriage! And the conservatives, similarly, also don't want gays to serve in the military because it will be "disruptive to the force." Also true, but the exact same thing was said 70 years ago about allowing African-Americans to serve side-by-side with whites in the military. It WAS disruptive due to intolerance and ignorant viciousness. As a nation, we should not reward discrimination by endorsing its continuation!

But I digress. If Mr. Cheney remains silent about the above issues, if he never denounces the angry words regarding gays raising children, then he should expect questions such as Blitzer's. As a conservative who stays silent on such an issue it should be concluded that he is in lock-step with the majority of his strict peers. So when Wolf Blitzer wishes to ask Mr. Cheney's feelings about 2 lesbians (one his daughter) raising a child he certainly is NOT "over the line," as Cheney menacingly warned. No, Mr. Cheney it is you who is over the line. When you remain silent while discrimination is supported by your peers then you are an "enabler." You have a tremendous bully pulpit (perfect for an unpleasant bully) to stand up for people just like your daughter on this issue and you choose to do nothing. You, Mr. Chicken Hawk, are out of line. And, blissfully soon, out of office.

But I am quick to forgive, sir (especially given that my phone calls and mail may be monitored). To show you my warm nature, I am forwarding a dozen chicken-fried steaks (lathered in butter), 4 pounds of french-fried potatoes, 3-dozen eggs, and several quarts of rich lager. Enjoy, sir, enjoy, and don't hesitate to consume these delicacies as quickly as humanly possible!

Straight, not narrow,
Paul "Paul" Rosa

P.S. And, by the way, shame on Mary Cheney for selling out and making a career for herself in the Republican party. Kissing ass to make a buck is something that we've all done but to accept pay from an "organization" who considers you an immoral sinner seems the worst sort of humiliation. Enjoy the money, Mary! Perhaps you can line the baby's crib with sturdy Ann Coulter books!