Tuesday, July 1, 2014

NAME CHANGE

Welcome to jimjustsaying.com (formerly SZSEZ).  Same wine, new bottle. 
Thanks for visiting; I hope you like what you see and visit here again....Jim Szantor

CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS

What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:

--A weapon of laugh destruction!--Dick Cheney
--"Almost too entertaining!"--David Letterman 
--"Blogaschizzle!"--Snoop Lion
--"The one thing I DO read!"--Sarah Palin
--"About what you'd expect from a dopey, sniveling piece of execrable skunk vomit from Wisconsin!"--Don Imus
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett

jimjustsaying's Top Eleven List


11 campaign slogans that won't work for
Hillary Clinton "if" she runs in 2016:

   11.  Richly deserved


   10.  Going for broke

     9.  "Hard Choices," easy money

     8.  I love Gucci

     7.  The Free Speech candidate

     6.  It takes a villa . . . 

     5.  Buy one, get none free

     4.  The national debt?  It's on me!

     3.  It's my party and I'll run if I want to, run if I want to . . . 

     2.  Margaret Thatcher 2.0

     1.  Bill bakes the cookies this time!

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor
Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life.
  • Piling on:  Saying that Hillary Clinton is "tone deaf" is a bit like saying Lance Armstrong had a credibility problem. (But, hey, in all fairness, she never strapped a dog to the top of her car!)
  • Why doesn't GM just list the cars that haven't been recalled?
  • News item:  A black bear shows up at an Olive Garden restaurant in Eau Claire, Wis., around 4:45 p.m on June 30.  Maybe he heard something about an Early Bear Special.
  • I had a dream in which a guy in India had a problem with his computer and got an American guy when he called tech support!   (And, no, neither party could understand the other one, either.)
  • I don't care what the courts decide, but same-sex marriage won't have arrived until you see same-sex married couples cozying up in Coke/Pepsi, McDonald's and Chevy/Ford Truck commercials.  Or in the Kodak Moment-type commercials.
  • Just finished my martial-arts course.   Black Belt?   Brown Belt?  Well, actually, I was awarded the Pink Suspenders.  (But, hey, ya gotta start somewhere!)
  • You know you're dealing with an old-timer if he says he was looking through his billfold while sitting on the davenport in his dungarees.  That was after he "raided the icebox."  (To name a few words that have passed their sell-by date.)
  •  You want Dextrose with that?  It's not an option,  but it adds the natural sweetness that the blanching of McDonald's french-fried potatoes removes.   (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • Jargon Watch:  A gynosome, according to Wired, is a female penis that is unique to Brazilian cave insects.  The spiked organ becomes erect when the female mounts the male, holding him captive for up to 70 hours of copulation.   ("Not the next 2.91 days, dear--I have a headache!")
  • I'm rooting for O.J.Simpson to get released on parole so he can resume looking for the real killer.  Because, obviously, no one else is . . . .
  • I'm glad the Pope finally officially issued a condemnation of the Mafia.  (Let's just hope there isn't a puff of smoke that the rest of us aren't anticipating, if you get my drift.  I'm just sayin'.)
  • Some foods smell better than they taste.  Some foods taste better than they smell.  And some foods are best tasted and smelled by someone else.
  • "Comedy is the blues for people who can't sing."--Chris Rock
  • If you didn't partake of the free breakfast or dinner buffet at the motel, you passed up food that you're going to be paying for when you check  out.
  • "Work is the greatest thing in the world, so we should always save some of it for tomorrow."--Don Herold, in Forbes.com
  • I enjoyed that Patagonian Toothfish dinner I had last night.  (OK, it said Chilean Sea Bass on the menu,  but who would order it under its real name?)
  • Sibling rivalry dept.:  No U.S. president, Mental Floss reminds us, was an only child.
  • Bumper sticker:  Lawyers have feeling, too (allegedly)
  • There will never be a band with a bagpipe, an accordion and a harp (and if there is, I hope the courts will provide injunctive relief.)
  • Overheard:  "My twin brother forgot my birthday."
  • jimjustsaying's Media Word of the Week (a word encountered only in the print or broadcast media and never used by an actual person in real life): "chide."  As in, "The President chided the media for its coverage of the VA scandal."
  • I experience a mix of amusement and irritation when someone ahead of me at the checkout counter pulls out a checkbook.  (Nobody ever has to get a debit-card purchase okayed by the customer-service person!)
  • "We constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. How come we never hear about welfare running out of money? What's interesting is the first group 'worked for'  their money, but the second didn't."--The Vent, Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • Newspaper Obituary Nickname of the Month:  "Binky."  As in Donald Leo "Binky" Binkowski, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, June 22, 2014.  R.I.P., Mr. Binkowski.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Commodo dico tergum per ordinarius res hora.  ("Please call back during regular business hours.")

THE QUOTE RACK

Why liberals should applaud Obama
Why are liberals so disappointed with President Obama?  The prevailing media narrative  is that Obama’s presidency has fallen far short of "the extravagant hopes of 2008." But presidents should be judged by their achievements, not by unrealistic fantasies, and by that standard, Obama’s presidency is a major success. Despite unhinged opposition from Republicans, Obama’s health-care reform law is now working well.  Enrollments came in above projections, the number of uninsured Americans has dropped sharply, and additional insurance companies are jumping into the exchanges to compete for new customers--all great signs for the Affordable Care Act. 

Obama’s new emissions rules for power plants--"the most important environmental initiative since the Clean Air Act"--mark the first serious attempt to address climate change. Obama’s regulatory reforms of Wall Street have enraged the big banks--proof the new rules have teeth. Yes, many Americans "are disappointed that Obama didn’t manage to make our politics less bitter and polarized." But how was that possible, when Republicans were determined to block him from day one? In the face of their relentless sabotage, Obama has moved the ball down the field. History’s verdict will be:  "Yes, he could."
--Paul Krugman, New York Times

The real objection to Obamacare
Remember all those dire conservative predictions about Obamacare?  They’re failing to come true. Take the claim that only previously insured people were signing up. A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 57 percent of enrollees previously had no insurance. Meanwhile, the uninsured rate nationally has plunged 25 percent. The horror stories about the "rate shock" from soaring premiums? Also bogus. In reality, the average private plan purchased on the exchanges costs just $82 a month. Most people with modest incomes are seeing their individual premiums go down, not up. As additional insurers jump into the exchanges, they’re putting downward pressure on premiums. Now that it’s impossible to deny that millions of Americans are getting affordable health insurance for the first time, conservatives are admitting what really bugs them: "Other people’s money will pay for it." It’s redistribution! Never mind that "other people’s money"--including a fat tax deduction--also subsidizes employer-provided insurance. All along, conservatives hated Obamacare not because it couldn’t work--but because they feared it would.
--Jonathan Chait, NYMag.com

Obama's weakness or ours?
 . . . Look, the world is a minefield. President Bill Clinton was very successful internationally, yet he bungled an inherited operation in Somalia, delayed too long on Bosnia, missed the Rwanda genocide and muffed the beginning of the Asian financial crisis--and all that happened during a particularly skillful administration.

As for former Vice President Dick Cheney complaining about President Obama's foreign policy, that's a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: killing your parents and then pleading for mercy because you're an orphan. In the Bush/Cheney years, we lost thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, we became mired in Afghanistan, Iran vastly expanded the number of centrifuges in its nuclear program and North Korea expanded its arsenal of nuclear weapons. And much of the world came to despise us.

Blowing things up is often satisfying, and Obama's penchant for muddling along instead, with restraint, is hurting him politically. But that's our weakness more than his. Obama's foreign policy is far more deft--and less dangerous--than the public thinks, and he doesn't deserve the harsh assessments. If there's one thing we should have learned in the Bush/Cheney years, it's that swagger and invasion are overrated as foreign policy instruments.
--Nicholas Kristof, New York Times


Hillary tapes: Laughing off a rape verdict . . .
Hillary Clinton is supposed to be an unrelenting defender and advocate of women and girls, said Matthew Continetti in WashingtonFreeBeacon​.com. Yet listen to newly uncovered audiotapes of the Democratic presidential front-runner gleefully recalling the time she successfully defended an alleged child rapist in the 1970s, and you’ll begin to wonder why. 

A defense attorney at the time, Clinton admits her 41-year-old client was probably guilty of raping a 12-year-old girl. "He took a lie detector test," says Clinton during unpublished interviews in the 1980s, unearthed from University of Arkansas archives by a conservative reporter. "He passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs," she says, chuckling. 
Needless to say, her client’s alleged victim didn’t find the episode so amusing, said Josh Rogin in TheDailyBeast​.com. "A virgin before the assault, she spent five days afterward in a coma, months recovering from the beating that accompanied the rape, and over 10 years in therapy."
--The Week

 . . . as her image changes mightily
 Twenty-two years ago, when she first arrived on the national scene, she was the brittle harridan in the headband, the high-ticket attorney who wasn't gonna be bakin' no cookies. That image has changed over the years, but during the tour the change became definitive. Now she's Mom--mature, settled, with a throaty laugh and a thickening middle. Or grandma. After six years of presidential leadership from a lithe, supple, snotty older brother, Mom will seem an improvement.
 . . . [But] when an interviewer compared her to Mitt Romney in terms of wealth, she got a stony look. That is a "false equivalency," she said. You could see she feels she should not be compared to a wealthy Republican because she's liberal and therefore stands for the little guy. So she can be rich and should not be criticized, while rich people who have the wrong policies--that would be Republicans--are "the rich" and can be scorned and shamed. This is seen by some as hypocrisy but is more like smugness. . . .

" The Clintons now hold a place of high respect and stature. But before they were Eleanor and Franklin they were viewed by their critics, and not only their critics, as Bonnie and Clyde. Most of their scandals were about money--from luckily timed cattle-future investments to Whitewater to campaign-financing lapses to last-minute pardons for donors to "renting out" the Lincoln bedroom, and more."
--Peggy Noonan, Wall St. Journal

The instant-celebrity syndrome
[The]  vast cause-célèbre-a-palooza flows from an even vaster symbiosis that has developed among politicians, aspiring famous people, garden-variety opportunists and the sprawling media orbit that enables all of them. Yes, many cause célèbres have the status imposed by others, often against their wills. Elián González didn’t ask to become a political lightning rod any more than northern spotted owls wanted to see themselves on bumper stickers all over the Pacific Northwest. It’s also true that a popular hashtag can benefit important and worthy subjects, such as the recently kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. That said, there has never been a straighter path from obscurity to Wolf Blitzer’s greenroom. Sandra Fluke was just another Georgetown law student and women’s rights activist who spoke out in favor of requiring that health-insurance plans cover contraception. After Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut," however, Fluke was suddenly hearing personally from President Obama, being invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention and running for a State Senate seat in Southern California. Fluke nearly ran for Congress too, following a well-trodden career path of cause-célèbre alums like Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar activist, and Joe the Plumber, the McCain campaign mascot whose real first name was Sam and who did not have his own plumbing license. They each lost and, in classic cause-célèbre fashion, refused to go away. They got their book deals and media gigs and made appearances and were hailed as "important voices."

They seemed to agree, too. But one of the biggest mistakes that a cause célèbre can make is to assume they will be interesting forever. They refuse to go away, and over time descend into Tonya Harding-level circus acts. Sheehan, who refused to pay taxes, ran for vice president in 2012 on a ticket headed by Roseanne Barr. She declared that George W. Bush was worse than Osama bin Laden, whose death, she said, was a hoax. Sam the Plumber said the government should "put a damn fence on the border" and "start shooting," he wondered why the former Democratic senator Christopher Dodd had not yet been "strung up" and blamed gun control for the Holocaust. He was last heard from four days after the recent Isla Vista drive-by massacre, an occasion that he used to reassert his belief in the Second Amendment via an open letter to the victims’ parents: "Your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights," he reassured them. Does the racist rancher in Nevada need a shut-off valve between his water pipes?

By then, the boycotters and cable bookers had moved on to another outrage. The Washington Redskins, for instance, have existed for eight decades, and it took every one of those decades for their nickname and logo to achieve the status of full-blown cause célèbre. Amid charges of racism, the team said the name and logo were signs of respect; its defenders invoked "tradition." The only winner, of course, was the media.
--Mark Leibovich, New York Times Magazine

Men need classes in home ec
It’s time to bring back home economics.. The traditional high school subject, which taught female students how to sew a button, boil an egg, and generally tend to their spouses and children, was killed off in the 1970s after feminists complained that it turned women into "a limp, gibbering mass of jelly waiting for marriage," as one activist put it. Forty years later, home ec should make a comeback--for both boys and girls. Men today spend more time in child care than their fathers did, but are averse to household duties that society still codes as "female." Modern home ec would teach men from a young age "that their obligations are to diapering as well as to moneymaking," and sharing the burden of running a household. Instruction in cooking and cleaning would provide "fidgety" boys with a creative, physical outlet, and prepare them to live without their mommies someday. With the median age of first marriage now 27 and 29 for women and men, respectively, a knowledge of how to feed, clothe, and care for oneself isn’t just an added bonus--it’s "a survival technique."
--Rebecca Traister, NewRepublic.com

THE LINK TANK

America the pitiful?
We may be losing  control of our not-so-manifest destiny
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/opinion/sunday/maureen-dowd-who-do-we-think-we-are.html

The jobs mystery
The economy has entered a bewildering phase
http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/VP6EHT/8Z4IA3/KFECC9/5C7GBUC/EXG4XH/9A/h

Is she the Obama of 2016?
Elizabeth Warren has the potential to upset the apple cart
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/381344/elizabeth-warren-obama-2016-jonah-goldberg 

Can Hillary be herself and win?
The leopard of 2008 doesn't appear to have changed its spots
http://www.suntimes.com/news/simon/28134486-452/can-hillary-be-herself-and-win.html

Clinton choice not inevitable
Few clear rivals right now, but Hillary campaign won’t go uncontested
http://ee.usatoday.com/Subscribers/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=VVNBLzIwMTQvMDYvMjU.&pageno=OA..&entity=QXIwMDgwMQ..&view=ZW50aXR5 

The vital incoherent center
Dividing Americans into left, center, right is just the start
http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/5O5UA2/30A1DE/G9K88Y/HDSPZLQ/IICFTH/36/h

My head's exploding!
The Iraq drumbeat from Cheney & Co. again?
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/02/opinion/maureen-dowd-is-that-the-iraq-drumbeat-from-cheney-co-again.html

Why climate change burns the tea party
Its  anti-global warming stance may be rooted in an anti-establishment fervor
http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/BZYGW4/L9FWO7/SH344U/HDSUAZJ/FK6FL5/QR/h

Every effort is made to ensure that all links are still available.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor
Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life.
  • There will never be an Amish astronaut.
  • You know you've eaten at a bad Chinese restaurant when the fortune cookie contains a coupon for Pepto-Bismol.
  • Men with outrageously bad hairpieces should be given warning tickets, then sent to rehab and ordered to perform community service.  (Same goes for 70-year-olds with--wink--totally black or brown hair!)
  • Media Word of the Week (a word encountered only in the print or broadcast media and never used by an actual person in real life): "chary."  As in, "I can fully understand why Mrs. Clinton is chary about the media."
  • I have never liked paparazzi.  But cover it with a lot of pesto sauce and Parmesan, and it's not half bad!
  • Overheard:  "My girlfriend was in the beauty shop for six hours the other day--and that was just for an estimate!"
  • "My high school was so tough the school newspaper had an obituary section!"--Norm Crosby
  • jimjustsaying's Weird Product of the Month (via the Make Life Easier catalog): Spray-On Headstone Cleaner with Teflon ($10). 
  • Product claim:   "Cleans and renews luster as it quickly and easily lifts dirt, moss, mold and grime." (Perfect for the hard-to-shop-for person on your Christmas gift list!)
  • Some people would be at their ideal weight if they were about a foot and a half taller.  ("You're not too fat, lady--you're just too short!")
  • Penal practice I'd like to see ended--protective custody.  There would be a steep decline in hate or sex crimes if the perpetrators knew they'd be housed in "general population," where the so-called "convict code" (not to mention prison demographics) would provide the almighty deterrence the system allegedly strives for.
  • "It’s been interesting to see the Tea Party go from a small group of people that everyone thinks is crazy . . . to a large group of people that everyone thinks is crazy.”--Jimmy Kimmel Live 
  • "If you’re ever in Disneyland and you’re walking by a wall, there’s probably someone in a half Donald Duck costume smoking a cigarette right behind you."--Scott Aukerman, host of "Comedy Bang! Bang!” on working at Disneyland as a teenager.
  • Why are fortune cookies  found only in Oriental restaurants?   It would be funny but refreshing if you got one at, say, an Italian restaurant (a sure tipoff that, perhaps, the owner isn't Italian.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
  • Baseball Play-by-Play Quote of the Week:  "Gonzo leaps like a giraffe and grabs it!"--San Diego Padres announced Jerry Coleman.
  • The cartoon mascots that appear on cereal boxes, such as Cap’n Crunch and the Trix rabbit, are routinely designed so that their eyes tilt down by 9.6 degrees—the perfect angle to make eye contact with a child standing in the supermarket aisle, according to a study by Cornell  University.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • Overheard:  "Which is worse:  People who will argue over anything . . . or people who will argue over nothing?"
  • Three things I've never done: Operated a snowmobile, speared a sturgeon, or watched more than three seconds of a soccer game.   
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline of the Month:  "Pudge."  As in Marjorie "Pudge" Melchior, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, May 20, 2014.
  • Mike Murphy, a Republican media adviser, [has said] that the working subtitle for every politician’s memoir should be “Contractually Obligated and Desperate Not to Offend.” 
  • “When someone is brave enough to write one of these books and call it ‘Screw Iowa and New Hampshire’ or something, then I might actually read it."--Mark Leibovich, New York Times Magazine
  • Speaking of politics, Groucho Marx defined it as "the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies."
  • I've known a farmer or two, but none of them lived in a dell (wherever that is).
  • Overheard:  "I prefer dogs to women, because they don't get mad when you leave the toilet seat up.  In fact, they prefer it!"
  • You know you're a redneck if your bank has a TV in the lobby that only shows "Mayberry R.F.D." reruns.
  • Today's Latin lesson:  "Transporto mihi a Pipio."  ("Send me a Tweet.")